This adventure takes place during Union day, the largest festival in Terios. This year the event is the cause for even more celebration since the Pavan Empire and Terios are finalizing the agreed alliance. To seal the alliance the Pavan Emperor has send two of his sons, Endori'em and Niberi'es, to Golandon.
All of the PC's are elite members of the Archonic Order who were ordered to protect the imperial family during their travels. As the Archonic Order is a religious army they mostly use Clerics, Paladins and fighters but other classes have been taken into the order in the last century. Most races are allowed in the order but high elves or drow are extremely rare. Besides the PC's the sons are protected by several other members and Soulknights.
Once the players have created characters the following text can be presented to them.
As the long parade marches through the city the crowds on both sides of the road cheer along, waving their flags in various fishlike forms. While looking at the crowd you and the rest of the group keep a watchful eye to ensure that no-one can get anywhere near the imperial family.
During this section the PC's can make perception rolls but nothing dangerous can be seen.
Random things to see
Roll 1d6 to see what any PC sees with a Perception check higher than 13.
1 Two guys throwing stinking fish at eachother
2 One woman picking her nose and eating what comes out
3 Child cyring for losing her kite
4 Women shouting really loudly that she loves Niberi'es and trying to get past the guards
5 One merchant's cart with melons starts rolling down a street after someone bumps into it
6 A bard singing the Terian anthem
After a long walk through the streets of Golandon the parade arrives at the central square of the Periga Hill. During the speeches, the songs and the dance performances nothing strange occurs.
As the festivities come to an end the nobles and honoured guests continue their journey into the Anchia district to eventually arrive at the palace. Here the last event of the evening will take place, a large ball with all the nobles and important citizens of the city.
After some time the PC's will arrive in a large room for the festivities. During the ball the players are allowed to roam free and keep an eye out for any strange activity. But before any dancing begins a banquet is held for all of the guests.
The royal family, Niberi'es and Endori'em will be seated at the table of honour at the far end of the room. Several Archonic Order members, 2 Soulknight and the Pegasus Guard, and its leader Nikolaos, will remain near them. Once both the Terian royal family and both sons of the Emperor are seated the leading officer of the Archonic Order, Fransescem, approaches your group.
"Alright everyone listen up. We are going to follow a fairly standard procedure here. The other members and me remain here near the royalty. Meanwhile your group patrols a little around the area and if you see anything suspicious you come back to me. And I swear to Indovir if one of you as much as touches a glass of wine I am going to put you on latrine duty for the coming month."
Unknown to the players laxitives have been added to the wine causing many guests to leave the room to relieve themselves. Most people who drank wine will only have problems when the ball itself has started.
If a player drinks wine
If a player drank the wine the player will need to make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a fail the player will need to go to the restrooms after the first dance of the ball started. On a succes the player will only need to go after the third hour. The PC will have a disadvantage on all ability checks and a -1 penalty on attack rolls.
Each guest that disappears is replaced by magically disguised cult members (Avaronian Spectres) and dopplegangers. Once enough people are replaced or the players notice and try to remove the sons from the room a fight will ensue. Let each PC make an Investigation Roll and look at the result in the table below.
What PC sees
Number of enemies in room
Fransescem comes to any member of the group after 3 hours to tell them to return to royal table because something is wrong
After 2 hours the PC notices that many people have left the room and took some time to return.
After 1 hour the PC notices that many people have left the room and took some time to return
20+ (or natural 20)
During the first hour the PC notices that more people than usual have left the room appearently with stomach problems
If the PC's decided to investigate why so many people leave the ballroom (or if a PC has to use the restroom themselves), this encounter can be run. After leaving the main room a PC can see a guest running towards the restrooms. He dissapears behind a corrider and seems to open a loud door. Shortly after a muffled scream can be heard. If a player investigates read the following
After opening the door you see the origin of the scream. The guest you saw earlier lies on the floor, covered in blood, with the knife still stuck in his chest. Beside him stand two elves in full armor. While you take in the scene you notice a third elf standing besides you ready to strike with a dagger. Before he hits you though you mange to evade and he falls prone on the ground and the dagger slides across the floor.
This nicely decorated dagger looks Elven made and is characterized by the diamond that sits atop of its handle. If one looks into the diamond a blue glow can be seen.
A Souldagger is an item that can be used for its special ability just once. Afterwards the diamond on its handle will evaporate.
The dagger acts like a +3 magic weapon. When an attack hits a creature this creature is killed outright if it has less than 150 hit points. Otherwise the target must make a DC 18 CON save taking 10d10+150 necrotic damage or half as much on a succesful save.
If the target is killed the soul of the victim will be transported to a hidden device somewhere in Niorath. The soul can only be returned with a wish spell.
After the encounter the group will quickly notice a large amount of corpses and a magical oneway portal in a nearby room (amount corresponds to number of enemies in table). If the PC's linger too long in this room 5 additional Avaronian Spectre Soldiers will come through the portal. Among the dead Spectres 1 Souldagger can be found. If everything is investigated the players should return to Fransescem.
When the group makes it back to Fransescem, who is near the table of honour, the people are still dancing. But once the PC's have told everything to their supervisor a bloodbath starts in the ballroom.
You suddenly hear a scream coming from the ballroom. As you look around you suddenly see several guests attack others. They all seem to have daggers in their hand with a glowing diamond handle decoration on top. As one of the nearby guards is hit by the dagger you see the diamond light up and extinguish again shortly after. Only a mummy like husk of the guard remains and drops to the floor.
Once this scene starts unfolding the remaining guards and Archonic Order members will create a line of defense in the back of the room to protect the royalty. Depending on how fast the PC's investigated the restroom incident more or less enemies will already be present in the ballroom. This in turn will determine how long the guards will normally be able to keep off the attackers. If the PC's already took a long time to get to this section consider skipping it and going straight to the escape section. If this option is chosen tell the PC's how Fransescem orders them to bring everyone to safety. Still mention though that the Soulknights turn hostile.
The fight itself is resolved differently from normal combat. About 80 guards survive the sudden attack and form a defensive line. The PC's are ordered to stay back but any ranged attack towards the enemies is possible since the section of the room where they are is higher up than the rest of the room.
Turn order is ignored for this combat. All of the PC's and allies do their actions and moves in the order they want. Each round the PC's and allies will go first and all of the enemies will go after them.
The PC's go first. The AC to hit an enemy in the crowd is 16 and enemies will not make saving throws. Take the sum of all damage done by the PC's and remove 1 enemy for every 35 points of damage.
After the actions of the PC's roll a 1d8 and add the ally bonus to this number. This is the amount of enemies that will be removed (minimum 1).
For the enemies roll 1d8 and add the enemy bonus to the result. This is the amount of allies that will be removed (minimum 1). Roll a new 1d8 afterwards to determine how many new enemies enter the ballroom.
The same is done in this round. However at the end of this round the Soulknights glow red and become enemies. Add 5 to the enemies and substract 5 from the allies.
The 2 nearby Soulknights show hostile intent towards the royalty and have to be killed. These enemies are in melee range. If the PC's don't deal with them some guards will but substract 5 allies if this is the case.
The fighting will continue until
Less than 30 allies remain, Fransescem orders retreat
Soul Power The Soulknight can infuse its weapon attacks with additional damage. If the Soulknight is goodnatured this is radiant damage. If the Soulknight is evil this is necrotic damage.
Multiattack: The Soulknight makes two glaive attacks.
Glaive: Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft, one target. Hit: 15(2d10+4) slashing damage plus (1d10) radiant or necrotic damage.
Normally it should become clear that running away is the best option for the players. If they want to escape during a certain round remove 20 allies from the total who will delay the enemies.
If the PC's managed to make the enemies retreat still remove 20 allies from the total who will secure the palace further. The next section however will not be timebound.
To the Airship
Regardless of the ballroom fight the PC's are ordered to bring the royal family and the sons of the Emperor to safety. They are accompanied by the remaining allies and Fransescem. In the royal chambers there is a portal leading to the Skydock where the royal airship is docked.
If the fight did not go well they have only 5 rounds of a headstart before the enemies in the ballroom catch up. Every round the PC's do something different than the dash action the distance is diminished by 1 round. Some actions however could add more rounds of advantage.
Making part of the roof colapse +3 rounds (AC 15, damage total 40)
Blocking doors +2 rounds
Leaving allies behind to delay enemies +2 rounds
Other reasonable improvised things +2 rounds
The PC's reach the portal after 300ft of movement. In front of the royal chambers however (60ft from portal) 10 Soulknights can be seen approaching from another corridor. Fransescem will make it clear that he and 5 allies will stay behind to buy the rest more time. He can be persuaded to follow the PC's instead with a DC 17 Persuasion check.
When the group reaches the portal the remaining people will be the PC's, the royal family, Endori'em, Niberi'es, Nikolaos and 5 Pegasus Guards.
Extra Perception Check
If the players are keeping a close eye on any of the allies accompanying them they can make a DC 20 Perception roll. On a fail they see nothing. On a succes they notice that Nikolaos is carrying a well hidden Souldagger.
Once the group arrives in the storageroom of the Skydock they see Nikolaos, the head of the Pegasus Guard, reaching for something in his armor. Before anyone can react a dagger is planted deep in the back of Endori'em. Endori'em falls to the ground. When you look back you can't find Nikolaos anymore, instead you see a strange metallic angel standing where he stood moments before
Just as with the other victims only a lifeless husk will remain of Endori'em. Nikolaos will then seal the room and take the form of a metallic angellike creature (Lesser Asmer). This act starts the initiative. The door to the airship can be forced open with a successful DC 17 Athletics roll or by 60 hitpoints of combined magical damage. If the door is opened during the fight the fight will continue on the airship.
The first attack on Endori'em can only be prevented if any of the PC's noticed the Souldagger that Nikolaos was carrying. If this is the case start the initiative before Nikolaos can make his move. This could possible save Enodori'em but he will still remain Nikolaos' first target.
Lesser Asmer by Kefkejaco with Heroforge
Large celestial, any
Hit Points152 (16d10 + 64)
Saving ThrowsCha +9, Str +9
SkillsPersuasion +9, Deception +9, Insight +7
Damage Resistancesbludgeoning, piercing, slashing from non magical weapons
Magic Resistance: The Lesser Asmer has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Multiattack: The Lesser Asmer makes two ranged attacks.
Antimatter Rifle: Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 120/360ft., one target. Hit: 29(5d8+6) necrotic damage.
Electric Discharge(1/day): The Lesser Asmer uses its armor to create an electric discharge. Every creature within 30 ft of the Lesser Asmer must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 39(7d10) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
Spellcasting: Fransescem is a 14th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following paladin spells prepared:
1st level (4 slots): cure wounds, sanctuary, protection from evil and good
2nd level (3 slots): branding smite, magic weapon
3rd level (3 slots): magic circle, revivify
4th level (1 slot): guardian of faith
Multiattack: Fransescem makes two attack with his warhammer.
Warhammer: Melee Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 8(1d8+4) bludgeoning damage plus (1d8) radiant damage.
The remaining Pegasus Guards will form a defensive line around the royal family while Niberi'es will remain in shock. None of them will participate in the fight. If Fransescem is present he will participate in the fight though.
Nikolaos will first try get to Niberi'es with a new Souldagger but the PC's will already be placed in his way. The AC for trying to hit Niberi'es is 18 and Nikolaos will likely kill him unless the players manage to prevent this attack. If the PC's attack Nikolaos he will switch his focus to kill them first.
By using a Souldagger the PC's can actually kill Nikolaos in one hit. If this hit misses however; he will try to disarm them as fast as possible and focus his attention on that PC.
When Nikoloas dies he will start burning up, destroying any equipment he has in the process. Only 2 unused Souldaggers will remain afterwards.
If the PC's all die during this fight all of the allies that were present in the Skydock will die. This will create chaos in both Terios and the Pavan Empire. With the death of the Terian royalty it will be likely that Nikolaos and the cult members take over Golandon.
If the PC's survive they will manage to escape with the docked airship. If Endori'em and Niberi'es both did not survive, the relationship between Terios and the Pavan Empire will be at an all time low.
If at least one of them survived both countries will investigate the assassination attempt and try to take revenge on those responsible.
In most cases Fransescem will have died towards the end of the adventure. This is however not the case if the PC's won the ballroom fight or if they convinced Fransescem to join them.
If either Endori'em or Niberi'es survived the PC's will gain a promotion in the Archonic Order and a reward of 5000 GP each.
Ideas for followup
In any case the situation in Golandon will be dire as all Soulknights have gone haywire and several cult members roam through the city. The characters could help defend the city and reclaim the palace.
If at least one of the sons of the Pavan Emperor died the PC's can see an enormous blue beam of light rise up from beyond the Doromir Mountains in the north. For several hours this will create cracks in the sky connected to the Primal Chaos Realm. This in turn will cause all kinds of aberrations to spawn in Niorath. After a few hours have passed the beam will disappear and the sky will return to normal.
Who is responsible
Nikolaos and the other cult members follow the Elven prophet Mackevor. Every soul killed with a Souldagger is transported to a device that empowers Mackevor. With a soul belonging to the Pavan imperial line Mackevor was able to return to the material realm which caused the large beam of light to appear.
If only one of the two sons died, Mackevor will be a lot weaker in comparison to when two were killed with a Souldagger.
This oneshot is published under the OGL rules for 5e. Special thanks to all the many talented people who created my favorite edition of the world's greatest roleplaying game.
This oneshot is meant to be used with the 5e and is designed for a party of 4-5 of level 8.
All members of the group belong to the Archonic Order and have the mission to protect the sons of the Pavan Emperor. At the start of the oneshot the players will follow the sons to a royal ball where both sons have been invited to by the King of Terios.
During this ball a fight with cult members (Avaronian Spectres) will ensue. The players will quickly notice that the best option is to escape with the sons and the Terian Royal family.
After the escape the head of the Pegasus Guard will possibly kill the oldest son using a dagger that transfers his soul to Mackevor. The job of the players will be to ensure that the second son isn't killed. After defeating the head of the Pegasus Guard the group can escape with an airship.
Union day is the national holiday of Terios and is widely celebrated with the biggest event taking place in Golandon. It is the day on which the king of Golandon at that time signed a treaty which unified the lands around the Oner and the Oronia Basin.
The event is heavily fish food inspired due to the story that king who signed the treaty got sick due to some seafood he ate after signing it. Flags in the form of a flag are a common occurrence during the parade of the king.
The Archonic Order is a faction from the Pavan Empire that has a presence wherever the Archonic religion can be found. The group exists mainly out of clerics and paladins devoted to Indovir and the prophet warrior Archon. Although in previous centuries non divine magic was fiercly rejected by the Order it has become at least somewhat accepted in current times.
In current times the Order is tasked with protecting followers of Archonism, the Imperial family, getting rid of any followers of Mackevism and removing other threats that are considered unnatural.
The Pavan Imperial family is said to be descendants of the prophet Archon who started the religion that was named after him, Archonism. According to religious teachings Archon received a part of the divine power of the god Indovir. As descendants of Archon the imperial family claims to still hold that power which has been passed on through many generations.
The Divine Emperor Kalives II is therefore not only the leader of the Pavan Empire but the Archonic faith as well. After his death the divine power and all its titles is said to be transfered to the his eldest son Endori'em. The other son, Niberi'es, will most likely take up the leading position in the Archonic Order when that happens. Although they are not as strong as their father, both sons have some divine power resting within them.
Fransescem by Kefkejaco with Heroforge
Fransescem is a member of the Archonic Order where he has the rank of Tevenes, one of the highest ranks. He has often been put in charge of missions beyond the borders of the Pavan Empire.
The Avaronian Spectres is an organisation which most people thought was disbanded after the recent war in eastern Farlis. During the rule of the dictator Verakon Elervir they were the intelligence agency of Mervidel. Unknown even to the current government of Mervidel they resumed operation shortly after the war under the leadership of an unknown group.
Even before the end of the recent war many of its members were followers of Mackevism.
Although they had been active again for several years now most of their actions have been well hidden and often through third parties. Although many nations are aware of
Souldaggers are a special kind of magic item created by the Avaronian Spectres which can only be used one time. As it is quite expensive to make it took the cult many years to accumulate the amount the currently have in their possession.
When a person is hit by this dagger the magic in the dagger will kill the victim outright in most cases. If the target is killed the soul of the victim will be transported to a hidden device somewhere in Niorath. The soul can only be returned with a wish spell.
Soulknights are still a rather recent creation of the Pavan Empire. They were created shortly before the last Pavan-Oneragan war and heavily used during this conflict.
The half elf Kaelanil created them by using the souls of willing soldiers who were on the brink of dying. While their consciousness would go to the afterlife their life energy would remain behind to power a special suit of armor. As this is still within the limits of divine magic the Archonic faith allowed for the creation of these constructs and saw it as a way for Archonic Order members to keep serving their God even in death.
Nikolaos by Kefkejaco with heroforge
Nikolaos is the current Enteria (leader) of the Pegasus Guard. He had already gained this position several years before the last war started and has thus far fulfilled his duties very well.
In actuality he is one of the leaders of the Avaronian Spectres handling under the codename 'The Manticore'. As the head of the Terios division he has organized many operations throughout the country and kept the intelligence agency of Terios in the dark with his coverups.
His human form is merely a very convincing disguise which can't be noticed withoud advanced technology. Just as the other leaders in the cult he is a lesser Asmer who found his way back to the material realm.
Mackevor is the ancient Elven hero Mackevor who started the Avaronian Empire and created the religion of Mackevism. He ruled this realm for several centuries until his death. The exact date of his death is heavily debated but most historians agree that the most likely moment was during the defeat of the Selefer.
As the Avaronian Era is marked by severe suppression of the Non-Elven races and many religious sacrifices, Mackevism is regarded as an evil religion is most countries. It's practice was forbidden after the fall of the Avaronian Empire but in the more remote lands of Niorath enclaves can still exist. Historian don't know for certain if these evil practices were introduced by Mackevor himself or the religious leaders after his death.
Unknow to all but the high ranking members of the Avaronian Spectres, Mackevor has returned to the material realm. He currently resides in the ruins of the old Avaronian capital in Carthen. Here he catches souls in a device that powers him. The purpose of this is still unknown.