01 - The Free City of Ket

Location: Free City of Ket

Date: Rites of Hearth Fire (holiday between Thirdmonth and Fourthmonth), 300 YE

Weather: 53 degrees, a few clouds

The party, and their entourage of mercenary warriors, henchmen, and various independent contractors, having traveled many miles to reach the eastern edges of the Hadrian Empire, have made their temporary home in the Free City of Ket.  The PCs and henches are alone in Ket, the Queen having banned armed mercenaries in groups of six or more from entering the city proper.  The party's forces remain encamped outside the walls, where they no doubt still find avenues for drinking and whoring.

Ket is a bustling, thriving city, rich in trade and tradesmen.  The party has found all the armorers, weaponsmiths, grocers, horse traders, jewelers, goldsmiths, mages, clerics, and moneychangers their tiny black hearts could ever want or need.

Truth be told, the party themselves have been found by many of the city's more inquisitive denizens.  Godric the White has become a minor celebrity and been asked repeatedly to preach to the locals at various city squares, open air markets, and temples.  Alistair Stone has received four requests in the last week alone for training from the city's unaffiliated arcanists.  Arnolt has been summoned to the Temple of Ammonar to hear the Word from the mighty Archpriest Ragahoir himself.

Having come together to dine, enjoy the Feast of the Hearth Fire (celebrating the end of winter) and discuss the plan for the upcoming new month, the party reveals to each other the major items of interest that they have discovered in their daily wanderings:

The Church of Ammonar tells of a dormant volcano to the northeast, surrounded by miles of dead forests.  Within the base of the volcano is a powerful relic of the faith known as the Arm of Ammonar.  Whoever returns this relic to the Church would be well rewarded in gold and magic.  Ragahoir notes dourly that the relic is guarded by many intelligent and powerful undead.

To the east of the Shining Spire lies a castle formerly occupied by the Baron Jowak.  The castle is now the home of a blue skinned demon named V'yexis who is a seeker of all things magical.  The demon treats equally with those of Law and Chaos and pays well but he always buys magic items, never selling.  The sons of the now deceased Baron Jowak will pay well to see their ancestral home returned to them, and remind the adventurers that this demon must have an immense collection of magic in the bowels of the castle.

Somewhere in the Badlands, there is rumored to be a treasure so valuable that natural enemies are putting aside their enmity for each other to hunt for it.  Word on the streets of Avauntar is that the Keleva, a tribe of nomads, has united with the Chag, a tribe of centaurs, to battle the combined forces of the Hilltoppers, a well-known gang of ogres, and the Blood of Hargosh, the largest orc tribe in the Badlands.  What they've found, or seek to find, no one will say.

Emmon perks up at the mention of the Arm of Ammonar. "My lord, we are entering into unfamiliar territory. The support of the church would be invaluable. Even without a gold reward, merely securing a steady supply of healing would save enough lives to be well worth our time. Besides, if our goal is to build a lasting settlement, we can hardly do that without the favor of the lord of law."

Slick frowns. "Between us, we've got a small army. Why pay them if they're not fighting? Let's go spill some orc blood, earn a name for ourselves with the local tribes, build relationships that are stable and lasting. Let's leave wading into a swamp and collecting trinkets to the wanderers; we're here to stay."

Mundo speaks at his lowest volume, rattling glasses. "MUNDO THINK CHURCH INFLUENCE PROVIDE GREATER VALUE THAN HORSEY MEN."

Alistar steeples his fingers and considers the advice of his cohorts. "I'm concerned by the existence of this blue demon, but I would hesitate to challenge a being with the vast wealth to purchase magic items at a steady pace. I believe that the relic presents the most immediate opportunity, as we at least know its general location, unlike the hidden treasure of the badlands. The war will still be going after we've at least attempted to reclaim the Arm, and it will be easier and more valuable to rout the ogres with Ammonar on our side."

Siegmar approached Arnolt and knelt before him.  As always, his eyes strayed to Arnolt's bodyguard, Sceadu.  While appearing disinterested, Siegmar knew the assassin was scrutinizing him closely, ready to put an end to any threat to the Prelate's life.  No matter how many years he had served Arnolt, no matter how much he had done in the name of Ammonar, he know that Sceadu still regarded him like everyone else.  A threat to be put down.  He fought to keep his emotions in check.  He had seen men cut down for the slightest facial tic in the Prelate's presence. "Prelate, the Archpriest has requested you attend him."

Sceadu smirked. Arnolt looked down at his captain. "The Archpriest requests nothing.  The Archpriest orders us in the name of Ammonar, and it is our duty to answer.  See to the men.  I will submit myself to the Archpriest."  He turned and strode towards the temple.  Sceadu followed at a respectul distance, with an air of dismissal towards Siegmar.  Siegmar's face reddened slightly, but he stood and left towards the encampment.

Arnolt walked up the steps of the temple and addressed the guards outside.  "This servant of Ammonar has been summoned to do his will.  Lead me to the Archpriest so I may learn the task the Lord of the Dawn has apportioned me."  While the words were those of submission, his voice and his look held the promise of retribution if his order was not carried out.

Egil was listening to the discussion of Alistar and his henchmen while wolfing down various roasted birds stuffed with spicy bread while Reinhart was busy filling his round belly with one ale after another. Only Leila had her appetite replaced with gloomy looks these days, suffering from a recently acquired a cold.
With a dripping pheasant leg in his hand Egil points out: 
"Sure boss, if these god-botherers have something going for them then its their filled coffers but they say this place is crawling with the undead and they ain't no laughing matter with their icy grips and restless stares! Why not visit that blue demon and pilfer his hoard while he is trying to figure out what that army in front of his gates wants to do? We could even go in with an offer for trade and cut him up before he realizes what's going on! He can't be that strong if he has to trade for all these wondrous items instead of taking them by force... "
With that said a half-belched "Ay!" comes from Reinhart as he puts down the empty tankard with a loud thud, voicing his support of Egils comment while Leila just continues to look miserable.

Taered Orc-bane

Taerad speaks to his colleagues in enterprise.

"I support the Church of Ammonar, and in return am honored by their support of me, but I have no desire to crash my troops against the death-filled powers of the undead. That is a task for a holy army, not mundane men and women seeking the glory of conquest and the comfort of riches. I would label it folly to pursue such a task."

"I would that we turn our eye to the Badlands. If the tribals unite with centaurs, and ogre with orc, then there is something there worth the chase. My men are well-seasoned fighting orcs, and the tribes of men in the wilds are not unknown to me. There is both glory and gold in that path for us, and I think it the better path for this expedition in making its mark."

Alistar frowns at Egil's suggestion. "Daemons are too unpredictable. A perfect assassination could be rendered irrelevant if the abomination is immune to all but, say, copper infused with moonlight. That's even assuming ambush is a possibility- he might have a thousand crawling eyes on arachnid legs patrolling every inch of his castle. You might be right about the viability of bringing an army to bear against the dead, though. Perhaps the badlands is the wisest choice after all."  Alistar begins fumbling between his notepads. "Did I have a recipe that used ogre shins...? I could've sworn..."


"Gold and magic is a worthy reward, and tempts me mightily.  Nor do I fear the walking dead when Istreus shields me.  The beast men and ogres need dealt with, but so long as some war against each other I see no hurry there."

Taerad Orc-bane

"Bully for you, Godric. Are your Immortals similarly shielded? My men are not. Perhaps those of the cloth can walk the streets of the necropolis without compunction, but men of the sword prefer flesh and blood."


"Ammonar has apportioned to us the task of recovering this relic of the faith.  Eventually we must take on this quest.  However, this demon and the beastmen are threats to the realm that cannot be ignored.  There is much work to do, and the order in which it is done makes little difference."  As he speaks, he looks to Arnolt for approval.  He receives a curt nod at the end.

Vinric notes the existence of a League of Surveyors.  It's a collection of adventurers, guides, caravan leaders, and treasure hunters.  The upside to joining is that you can get maps of the wilderness and hear about areas discovered yet not explored.  The downside is that you're required to share your own maps.

There's also a Thieves Guild in Ket called the Like Minded.  No one has approached the party yet but Egil has recognized the tell-tale signs around town.  The upside to joining is that you would have a safe place to store goods back in civilization and wouldn't have to worry about the alchemist disappearing with your stuff.  The Guild doesn't steal from its own.  The downside is that you have to sell your loot to the Guild, and they take their cut.

There doesn't appear to be an Assassins Guild in Ket, at least as far as Egil can tell.  

Note that if you want a place to store goods in Ket or one of the border towns, and a factor to help sell goods, you can do that and not worry about the Thieves Guild jacking it.  Remember, nothing interesting happens in civilization.  It will just cost you money.  You will have to find a secure facility and pay for protection to discourage thieves.

Also, I am fine with people putting short OOC comments in the IC thread.  Just A. make them short and B. put them in red text.  If you can't make it short, put it in the OOC thread.

"What is the magnitude of the badlands conflict? Would we be fighting a dozen ogres, or a thousand? What are the distances involved? The names of the important tribes? We should find someone who knows more about the conflict to make an informed decision about all the probabilities. Slick, be a good lad, go mobile and see if you can articulate a better skeleton of facts. Mundo, would you kindly escort him and make sure he doesn't get lost?"

There are five sages present in Ket, and you could easily find one who knows about the different warring tribes in the Badlands.  Their knowledge of current numbers within each tribe may or may not be up to date.

There are also a number of people who claim to know the details of the current conflict: mercs who supposedly fought for the nomads, rangers who can guide you "right to the doorstep" of each faction's HQ, and merchants who traverse that territory on a regular basis.  Their true level of knowledge is hard to gauge, however.  There are a few members of the League of Surveyors who are willing to either talk to you about it or come on board as a hired guide but they are aware of the non-League members of your group and thus are more reticent to join.  No doubt in this situation, money would grease the wheels of commerce.

You may also have better luck finding someone more intimately aware of the details once you get closer to the Badlands.

Overland guides cost the same as Mariner-Navigators (25gp/month).

Taerad Orc-bane

Seeing Vinric's subtle nod of assent, Taerad makes declaration. "It is decided, then. Alistair will send his man to learn more of the political terrain of the Badlands. My own man can guide us in how to approach the Keleva, and I would expect there will be more to learn in Avauntar. Let us each tend to any remaining business in Ket. Can we agree to leave on the morrow?"


Alright, lets plunder some orc villages then! No need to rush though, these boars can wait for their butcher a day or two longer. Lets drink up and celebrate Hearth Fire first, then lets find out more about the tribes before we finally ride out to spill blood!


Egil wants to find out more about the nature of the fabled treasure of the Badlands so he and Leila will visit the more seedy parts of Ket to hear some stories.

Vinric Lahes

Vinric attempts to familiarize himself with the local markets and tries to determine which goods are in demand and which are in surplus.

Vinric learns that Ket has a surplus in Grain, Meats, Cloth, Dyes & Pigments, and Salt.  Goods in demand are Wood, Hides and Fur, Tea, Common Metals, Wine, Pottery, Lamp Oil and Glassware.

Egil hears a lot of wild and crazy stories that make no sense at all but he's not sure which, if any of them, are true.

  • There is a book called The Zephyr Yields The Storm, a tome of prophecy.  It has been lost for centuries but rumor has it that there is a map to the book engraved on a coin.  Perhaps the coin has been found?  Or at least the hiding place of the coin?
  • There is a child born to the nomads named Sunny.  He could be the leader of the tribes fortold in legends.  The beastmen want him in order to gain control of the nomad tribes.  The centaurs don't believe in the legend but don't want to fight both the beastmen and the nomads.
  • There are three powerful items, one arcane, one divine, one primal.  Alone, each is a potent force.  Combined, the three could yield the power to rule the Eastlands, and perhaps even conquer the Empire.  It is suspected one of these items has been located in the Badlands.

Alistar will send Slick to hire one sage. He doesn't care much for guilds.

Taerad Orc-bane and Tohopka

Taerad interviews a half-handful of the most promising overland guides, both weighing what he knows of the men of Avauntar and the opinion of his own tribal shaman to weigh their merit.

Slick approaches the sage he understands is most likely to know about the Badlands.

The sage is willing to immediately discuss what he knows of the subject off the top of his head for 20 gold or put three days of research into it for 50 gold.

Atlic, your comment confused me.  Are you looking for guides in Ket or Avauntar?  I am assuming that the group is still in Ket.