In this storyline, the Hellraisers arrive in Zakib and must locate the Temple of Argath in order to get to Astu Sacrificium.
Chapter 1: Arrival in Nulgath (North District)
In Nulgath, the party shops and talks to various NPCs in Zakib's capital city before being forced to give audience to the Empress.
- The party arrives in Nulgath on their Skyship, The Nautiloft.
- A beggar in ragged clothes asks for money from the party at the exit to the docks. They enter North District, where they may shop if they please. The following stores are located in this district:
Maerin is a friendly yet suspicious young male Zakibian. He has dark skin, wears a Braemin Shawl
, desert attire, and sandals. His hometown is Kashas. Maerin brews potions in order to support his sister, Minah, who is dying of an illness. He sources his ingredients by traveling from town to town. (Will accept certain rare materials, such as crystals and vegetation)
|Common Potion of Healing (6)
|Potion of Greater Healing (2)
|Potion of Fire Resistance (3)
|Potion of Mind Reading (2)
|Philter of Love (1)
Zned is a young male Zakibian with dirty blonde hair from Khatharb. He is an associate of Frennan Shessad, as Frennan ships Zned's clothes on his many charters. Zned is tall, extravagant, and pompous. He is constantly measuring those who enter his shop (quirk). He sells fashionable desert attire.
|Custom Desert Attire (+2 bonus to all Charisma Checks in Zakib)
||Small: 26gp, Medium: 46gp, Large: 66gp
|Studded Leather Armor
Killer Kilith's Zorithil Mounts:
(ROLEPLAY NOTE: Talks in a sultry, smooth, southern accent)
Kilith, Dragonborn Beastmaster of Zakib
(He/They) is a Non-binary Dragonborn Zakibian from Nulgath. They were orphaned in the underground slums, having been born after a woman had a child with a dragon deep in the depths of Zakib's sandy canverns. Kilith is almost an entirely normal human, with blue eyes, long black hair, slim, masculine-feminine build. Their Dragon heritage is only visible in their eyes, which are glowing, yellow, and snake-like, and their hands, which are covered in red scales with long, black claws. Their saliva is abnormally hot, but not hot enough to deal any damage. After managing to save enough money doing odd jobs in the slums, they were able to afford passage to the surface. They were urged to join various theives guilds, however Kilith discovered their passion was to care for Zorithils, which are giant ridable lizards adapted to life in the Zakibian deserts. He will sell Zorithil mounts to those who wish to cross the deserts, and will even offer to make the journey with party for a price (Potential NPC Companion)(12gp).
The Hellraisers get recognized by citizens in Zakib, reward the players for their bravery in dismantling the Mountain Eater by throwing gold at their feet (500 gold split between the party). This draws the attention of the authorities, who command the players to follow them, as the Empress wishes to have audience with them.
The Hellraisers are loaded into a carriage and taken through the Old District.
|Zorithil with Saddle
|Zorithil with Leather Armor (+1AC)
|Zorithil with Steel Armor (+2AC)
Chapter 2: Meeting With The Empress (Old District)
The Hellraisers have audience with Empress Calaitha, who tells them how they might reach the hidden city in the Kingdom of Emyel
- The players are brought through Nulgath's wealthiest district, known as Old District, which is filled with sandstone buildings painted with blue designs and many gold-domed buildings. They are taken to the Zakibian Palace, which has many tall towers and is decorated with golden statues of the previous rulers of Zakib. They are taken into the palace's main hall, decorated with many fountains, rugs, and paintings, including one of Frennan Shessad, comissioned after the Empress and Frennan had a one night stand. The throne room has no windows, with a gorgeous view of Nulgath and the surrounding Zakibian Bay, glistening in the sunset. Empress Calaitha greets the players while being fanned by servants, congratulating them on their success in destroying the Mountain Eater.
- "I was informed of your success in dismantling the Mountain Eater. My Owls have had their eyes on Nursk's war machine for some time, and it was very difficult to keep that information from leaving our shores. I was prepared to combat the threat with a very sizable army, so I'm quite grateful for you five saving me the trouble. Though that does beg the question, what motive have you for undertaking such a feat? Speak quickly, my time is precious."
- The party tells Empress Calaitha of their quest. When asked about their next objective, the party will tell Calaitha that they seek a city located within the Kingdom of Emyel where an amulet can be found.
- "Surely you know that travel into and out of the Kingdom of Emyel is strictly forbidden. They've quarantined their county in hope of keeping demons away, the superstitious fools. However, I may know the city of which you speak. My information is precious and I do not help outsiders lightly. I expect your aid in return."
- The nobles in Nulgath wish to hold a festival in your honor. I have sanctioned this event, however my Owls have heard rumors that a known anarchist known as Brudin Archyden plans to attack the festival. He is a ringbearer like yourselves, but he has enslaved the demons he summons, forming an army he uses to do his bidding. We do not know his whereabouts, and an Imperial presence at the festival would spark panic. I request your promise to aid in protecting this festival, and in return for your cooperation, I will inform you of how to reach your destination.
- "Very well. My Owls have discovered evidence of the existence of a temple built over two thousand years old dedicated to the God of Exploration, Argath, buried somewhere north of Bilbar. According to legends, it is said to contain a magical obelisk capable of transporting people to any location with a travel rune, but only once. I have sent other troops to search for the temple, but none have returned, and so its location remains unknown. I believe the locals in Bilbar may have the information you need to get there. The city you seek goes by the name Astu Sacrificium. It is of great interest to me, and I am very interested to learn what you find there. Although I cannot officially sanction a journey to find the temple, I have decided to fund your quest for the time being, and my closest servant Jula will assist you in whatever ways you see fit. She may answer any further questions you may have. You may go."
- The players are introduced to Jula, Imperial Servant, a tall Zakibian woman with pale skin, brown hair, and hazel eyes with tattoos of six dots forming triangles under her eyes. She speaks calmly and concisely. She wears somewhat skimpy attire when first introduced, exposing her midriff. Despite her tall stature, she is physically fit in a way that remains feminine. Jula's main motivation is to serve the Empress, however she has her own dream of being able to lift her family out of poverty. Jula tells the party that they aren't permitted to sleep in the Royal Palace, so they must find an inn to spend the night in.
Chapter 3: The Stardust Inn (Old District)
- Jula changes into different clothes, returning to the party in desert attire and a Braemin Shawl. As the sun begins to set, Jula tells the party that she knows of a local inn called the Stardust Inn. On the way there, Kebab notices a man in Zakibian armor can be seen conversing with the beggar from before. The beggar points out Korrin to the man, who then disappears into an alleyway.
- The party arrives at the Stardust Inn. The Innkeeper, named Marcus, is friendly to the players and even recognizes them for their victory over the Mountain Eater. Marcus would give them a discount, however times have been tough and he cannot afford it. Jula pays for the entire party to have rooms. While they are sleeping, Xelick, the Silent Sands sneaks into Korrin's room through a window and places a Soulmate Beetle into Korrin's bag.
- The party awakes, with Marcus having prepared a traditional Zakibian breakfast of Roasted Zakibian Stonelizard. The Hellraisers and Jula discuss the upcoming festival that will be occurring later that day, reminding the party they need to remain focused on protecting the people at the festival.
Chapter 4: The Festival in Old District
There are two ways this encounter can go, depending on weather or not the citizens are evacuated.
- The party attends the festival in Old District's main square, being praised for their successes in destroying the Mountain Eater and celebrated as heroes. There are stalls selling food and beer and wine, with traditional Zakibian celebration music played by a live band.
- During the festival, the square is attacked by 3 Hellworms and 2 Basilisks (See Monster Manual), with seven incubi-controlled peace officers, all commanded byBrudin Archyden, who is standing atop a rooftop with the peace officers. There is a nearby dark alleyway the citizens may be evacuated to, however they will protest to being evacuated.
- Citizens are Evacuated: While the Hellraisers are busy fighting the Hellworms and Basilisks, a group of seven citizens controlled by Incubi attack and kill the citizens in the alleyway. This causes the players to have failed the quest and, after meeting with Empress Calaitha again, they are banished from Nulgath.
- Citizens are not Evacuated: Most of the citizens survive and the Hellraisers are praised as heroes. (Jula becomes a potential NPC Companion)
Chapter 5: Return to North District
- The party returns to the North District (potentially with Jula) in order to buy desert attire and mounts. There are some changes to the shopkeepers in this area
Maerin now sells a Potion of Dexterous Focus for 32gp. This potion allows the person who drank it to have a +7 to all Slight of Hand checks for an hour, including lockpicking, pickpocketing, and card tricks.
Zned now sells custom tailored Temperature Storing attire for 45gp per set. This set of attire retains the warmth of the sun and allows its wearer to remain warm during Zakib's freezing nights (Immunity to Exhaustion caused by frost.)(If worn outside of Zakib, players receive a disadvantage to all charisma checks.)
The players are presented with a choice:
- party enters Killer Kiltih's Zorithil Mounts. There they meet Kilith, Dragonborn Beastmaster of Zakib if they had not met them before. The party tells Kilith their intended destination and Kilith charges them for use of his mounts (see Chapter 1 for table). Upon finalizing their purchase, Kilith offers to come with the party to ensure they arrive at the Temple safely. The desert is a dangerous place, and a Beastmaster might be more useful than an assassin. Jula takes offense at this, saying that her mission is to ensure the party makes it to the Temple of Argath unscathed. Jula tells the party that if they choose to allow Kilith to come, she will respect their choice, but will not assist them in navigating the desert. Jula will provide the players with everything they need to reach the temple, but will not come with them.
- Refuse Kilith's offer, Jula remains with the party.
- Accept Kilith's offer, Jula returns to the Empress and Kilith assists the party in crossing the desert.
- In either case, the party mounts their Zorithils and sets out into the desert, using stone staves in the sand as markers to guide them along the main road.
Chapter 6: On the Road to Bilbar
There are three ways this fight can go
- The party wanders through the desert, following stone staves in the sand as they make their way towards Bilbar. [Jula Exclusive] Jula will attempt to connect to Toland, recognizing him from his wanted photos. Jula makes it clear that Brilon and Zakib are not allies, just trade partners, so she has no intention of turning Toland in. [Kilith Exclusive] Kilith will attempt to connect to Kyra, complimenting her rat and asking his name. Kilith will say that rodents actually aren't much different than Zorithils and that they both make excellent companions and remain loyal to their friends.
- While the party is talking, Xelick, the Silent Sands crawls out of the sand behind the party, using the Iron Bands of Bilarro to ensnare Korrin. Xelick will attempt to pull Korrin into the sands and escape, and so the party must fight him off.
Note: Xelick was killed here, the following paragraph is an ammendment to the story:
- The party loses to Xelick, Korrin is dragged into the sands and is separated from the party (most likely temporarily)
- The party defeats Xelick, who then either retreats into the sand or is killed (If Xelick reaches less than 40HP, attempt to escape)
- The party kills Xelick, his death causing greater problems for the party. (Ties to Novodelia)
You all find yourself standing in the ruins in the middle of the Zakibian desert. The burning heat of the air around you fills your nostrils, with the wind causing the taters of your desert attire to flow in the wind. The sun is beginning to set, and before you lies the body of the assassin who had ambushed you previously, with Korrin and Toland standing just a few feet away.
The party may search Xelick's body. Upon which, they discover a paper bird sent to Xelick that says the following:
"Xelick, we have another contract for you to fulfil. I imagine you are running low on supplies out there, so I expect you'll jump on this opportunity. Two of our most valued possessions have been lost to us recently, and we depend on you to retrieve them. Description follows:
- Capable of changing appearance. Most common appearance can be described as 6ft 2in, mid to late 20s, long brown hair. Adept in magical combat and highly lethal with a blade. Second item is a longsword, ancient in appearance with green gem in the hilt. Person in question is suspected to still be in possession of this weapon. Weapon might be concealed.
We have reliable information that implies they will be traveling to Nulgath in the coming days. We request that you make the journey there. There will be envoys waiting for you who will prepare you with a rune of Counterspell, as well as one of Moonbeam should you need to confirm the individual's identity. We will provide you with a third rune as well, should you fail in your duties. Do not disappoint.
-Polock Zaphriel, Minister of Novodelian Arcane Affairs"
After Xelick's death, he will be revived by a third rune etched into the center of his back. When this occurs, the party's rings will glow, and Xelick's eyes will turn black and red. He will appear confused by this, then escape into the sand if the party attempts to kill him.
- No matter how the fight goes, the NPC companion will note that the sun is setting. Zakibian nights can prove incredibly dangerous, as packs of Moledogs hunt the dunes at night. The NPC companion will have a Thermatent, a specialized tent designed to trap heat and protect its inhabitants from Zakib's frigid nights. The NPC might suggest that the party takes turns guarding their encampment, and if the party agrees the next chapter will open during Kyra's shift.
Chapter 7: Night on the Road
- In the middle of the night, Kyra is awoken by a crimson light emanating from her ring. She then suddenly feels a hand covering her mouth, followed by a searing pain in the side of her head, which is Demon Kovi stealing her ability to rationalize so she will not recognize him as a Demon. The creature will disappear into the darkness
- Upon investigation outside the tent, Kyra will initially not be able to see anything. She will then hear a rythmic shifting noise, as if the sand is being stabbed. Eventually, she will be able to make out a figure; an increadibly tall, lanky, fair skinned gentleman wearing a top hat, a monocle, a fancy longcoat, vest, and slacks, a belt with a golden belt buckle with trees carved into the design, black leather dress shoes, and a cane in his right hand. The man will reveal himself to be Kovi Augfolium, Kyra Goldenleaf's dead adoptive father. There is nothing about this man that suggests he is not really Kovi, he appears to be an exact replica.
- Kyra and Kovi will have a short confrontation, with Kovi attempting to guilt Kyra for burning down the orphanage and for killing him. He will tell Kyra that she can't blame the fire on Grof or Solra, and that he knows its was really her who threw the first torch. Kovi will take off his left glove, revealing a pale white hand with black elongated nails. Kovi then will attempt to plunge his nails into Kyra's skull (DC 22 Constitution Saving Throw to avoid). If this attack succeeds, Kovi will pull a wispy blue thread from Kyra's head, which he will explain is Kyra's ability to express her vulnerabilities, which he will store in his coat pocket. Kovi will use his powers as a master thief to take many things from Kyra, including one of her throwing knives, her pet rat Remy, and finally her necklace from Sylrona. Before leaving, Kovi will return these items to Kyra and tell her that he will always be watching, and there's no escape from him, even if he wasn't an Archdemon. He then evaporates into a puff of smoke.
- Kyra will return to sleep as if this event never happened.
Chapter 8: Arrival in Bilbar
- The party awakens and gets back on the road to Bilbar.
- They arrive to the town to find that it is mostly empty buildings with a singular mechanical structure in the middle. The NPC companion explains that most towns in Zakib are located underground, with Nulgath being the outlier. They will tell the players that Bilbar, once a peaceful manufacturing hub, is now ran by criminals, smugglers, and mercenaries. Normally the party would fit right in, but they're famous now, so they better watch their backs. The party steps on a platform in the center of the settlement and steps on a pressure plate, causing the elevator to descend into Bilbar.
- In Bilbar the party is immediately noticed by the riffraff that can be seen in the streets. The town is dark and many people can be seen lurking in the shadows. There is a store that sells water refills for 14gp, a shady man who sells knives dipped in poison for 13gp each, and a tavern called The Oasis which seems to be the local gathering place for mercenaries in this town.
- In The Oasis, the party finds themselves targeted by a bounty hunter with a sledgehammer by the name of Rhodahn the Fingerbreaker, known for breaking fingers of his bounties as something of a calling card. A fight will ensue with him and his two lackies, which is interrupted by an unknown man who bashes a glass into the back of Rhodahn's head.
- The young man will reveal himself to be Berkem Khoste (High, Breathy, Southern Accent), a thief who has taken up residence in Bilbar, seeing how he is wanted in most other parts of Zakib, as well as other countries. He will chit chat with the Hellraisers a bit, enjoying a second glass of Zakibian Tequila, before revealing that he may know the location of the Temple of Argath.
- Berkem won't just give away the Temple's location, he expects something in return. He has heard of the Hellraisers' success aboard the Mountain Eater, and he also knows the Hellraisers have their history in thievery and mercenary work. Berkem is planning a heist, and he needs the Hellraisers' help to make it happen. He offers to lead the Hellraisers away to his apartment in order to discuss the plans. The NPC companion the players are with will make it clear that they will not be assisting in anything illegal, and so this is where their journey ends.
Chapter 9: Planning for the Heist
- The party arrives at Berkem's apartment complex, hearing shouting, bottles breaking, and other ruckus. As they are walking up the stairs, Kyra sees a glimpse of Kovi out of the corner of her eye, but upon investigation finds nothing. They are led up the stairs and arrive at Berkem's apartment.
- Berkem will tell the party of relics known as the Stone Dragon Scales, scales of a great Dragon that are nearly indestructible and highly valuable, as there are only 16 known scales in the world. They can be ground to a fine powder that reinforces any armor it is forged into. In Bilbar, there is a tightly guarded vault kept by former nobles within a building known as The Dragon's Fortress, the one place no thief has been able to steal from in all of Bilbar, and within this vault is rumored to be a box containing six of these Stone Dragon Scales. These six scales are worth approximately half a million gold points on the black market.
- Berkem has received his information from a former worker within the vault. In order to steal from the vault, everyone needs to participate. The following is pertinent information the players need to pull off the heist successfully:
- The vault itself is full of magical beams around 4 1/2 feet off the ground that can sense when a person walks through them, so Kyra will likely need to be the one to enter the vault. The capsule containing the scales will likely be on some sort of pressure sensor, so someone with good slight of hand will need to take it.
- The vault can only be opened by two people, each with a key to open the vault. These people have to insert their keys into two pedestals 20 feet apart from each other and turn the keys at the same moment. These pedestals are in plain sight and are tightly guarded, so disguises will be needed.
- If the Vault is ever opened for more than 10 seconds, an alarm is triggered. The vault can also only be opened once every hour, or else an alarm will be triggered. The party can only afford to open the vault door once.
- In order to enter the building where the vault is housed, a distraction will be need to be made in order to get through the entrance.
- There is a maintenance room that provides vent access to the vault, however its exterior wall is reinforced. It would require incredible strength to break down, which would cause quite a bit of noise. Every minute, the vault itself rotates counterclockwise, sealing off one of the eight vents leading into the vault. The vent that leads into the maintenance room is only open every eighth minute.
- After exiting the vault, Kyra will need some way to make it through the rest of the complex with the Stone Dragon Scales undetected.
- Armed with this information, the party now knows everything they need to perform the Dragon Scale Heist.
Chapter 10: The Dragon Scale Heist
This heist is largely played by ear, allowing the players to follow the lead. The Dragon's fortress is filled with Knights, Guards, and Nobles, with the Knights being the largest threat. However, there is a singular scripted event within this Fortress:
- While Kyra is in the Vault, after she has successfully stone the capsule containing the Stone Dragon Scales, Kyra is visited once again by the demonic manifestation of Kovi Augfolium. Kovi taunts her for going back to her old ways and stealing once again, saying that a thief is all she will ever be. He will also tell her that she is fooling herself by surrounding herself with all these people, and she will never truly have any friends. Kovi will then steal Remy, Kyra's pet rat, and the proceed to squeeze him to death. He will then disappear once again, laughing manically.
Chapter 11: After the Heist
- Back at Berkem's apartment and feeling defeated, yet unable to express her vulnerabilities to her friends, Kyra continuously sees a small, wispy figure just out of her field of vision. Eventually, she discovers this figure is what appears to be a tiny creature with a tail wearing a thin, translucent sheet. This is the ghost of her pet rat, Remy. Ghost Remy has something he appears to have something clasped between his paws he wishes to give to Kyra, which upon investigation is revealed to be her vulnerability and rationality which Kovi stole from her. After receiving these two abilities, Kyra is able to both realize that Kovi is a demon and tell her friends she is being stalked.
- The players may choose to either deal with Kyra's Archdemon now or move on with their quest and deal with the Archdemon along the way.
- With the Dragon Scale Heist complete and the prize secured, Berkem makes good on his promise and decides to lead the Hellraisers to the Temple of Argath.
Chapter 12: The Temple of Argath
- The Hellraisers mount their Zorithils along with Berkem and leave Bilbar, setting off into the desert towards the supposed location of the Temple of Argath. They may take their NPC Companion along with them, but the companion will need to be convinced.
- The temple is as far as Berkem is willing to take the party, as he has heard tales of thieves entering the temple and never returning.
- The party will reach the main temple chamber, in which they will have a battle with Arachnos, an undead giant war spider that serves Emna, the queen of desire. Arachnos will have the ability to see a person's deepest desires. Arachnos can capture the players in its web and cause them to hallucinate about their desires.
- After defeating Arachnos, the party will be able to interact with the obelisk and teleport themselves to Astu Sacrificium.
END OF QUESTLINE, READ ASTU SACRIFICIUM QUESTLINE NEXT