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Sembian Merchant in Suzail (Part 3)

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Yes, I'm still babbling on about the adventures I put the party through. Take heart stalwart reader, this is the last post I have on that topic. Then I'll find something else to ramble on about. My party had already broken away from the full story I had written by this point. They decided some time ago that Deskyr was not to be trusted and saw too it that his plan could not come to pass. They still agreed to rescuing the paladin, so they were doing one last job for him. They had no intentions of returning to Suzail, and never intended to see Deskyr again. I had another short adventure in mind if they did overlook the trouble the magic items had caused and stick with Deksyr that I'll share even though I never used it during the game.

Off the party goes again, trying to rescue the paladin and find the mask. As they get on the trail of the Paladin they are directed to the fringe of civilization, up into the foothills of a nearby mountain range where some hardy folk are trying to settle. Unfortunately for the settlers a tribe of orcs has already laid claim to these mountains. For quite a while the settlers were able to drive off the orcs with little trouble, though lately the orcs have been getting bolder and much more fierce. Before the paladin arrived they were able to overrun the outlying farms and drive everyone into the more fortified cities.

The party hears tales in these cities of a team of knights lead by a Paladin who swore to drive back the orcs and help the settlers reclaim their farms. However, he's set off toward their main camp over a few weeks ago. Not long after he went off the orcs became more organized and a more deadly force, so apparently the paladin failed. The orcs have gone far enough to lay claim to several of the towns and settlements, and refugees are flooding the remaining towns. The refugees are terrified of the orcs, spreading tales that their attacks leave few survivors and many of them are taken captive.

The back story on this is that as the orcs were driven deeper into the mountains by the settlers, they came across the Mask of Blood deep in a previously unexplored cave. Drawing on its power they were able to strengthen their forces and push back on the settlers. Their disadvantage was that they were disorganized and all of their assaults fell apart when the bloodlust came on them during the combat. When the Paladin attacked the settlers assumed his defeat further bolstered them and made their raids more fearsome. The truth is that the Paladin attacked their camp and slew their leader, but when he grabbed the mask it dominated him and quickly turned him to evil. The paladin then took over the orc tribe and gave them organization and better martial training, coupled with their ferocious nature they are a formidable force.

The refugees and settlers have a general idea where the orcish raids are coming from, and can give the party good directions to their main camp. When the party arrives they are surprised to see the orcish camp is set up like a military camp. Amongst the orcs are some of the captive settlers, who are acting not just as servants but also seem to be in the rank and file of the orcish forces. They quickly discover that the Paladin has taken over the orcs and are forced to kill him to free him from the mask's hold. After he is killed the organization of the orcs begins to fall apart, and the power they gained from the mask quickly drains away. The party kills off a few more before the rest flee into the deep mountain caves.

My party had performed this task, and then turned their backs on Suzail and Deskyr. They had already ruined his plans and saw no reason to return. They kept the mask in the hopes of either destroying it or finding some other means of preventing it from causing problems. As I intended this story to get them up to about level 10, I had seeded the areas with quest hooks for other adventures and they set off to follow up on some of those.

Lets say that your party is less dedicated to seeing evil destroyed, and more interested in the gold Deskyr was paying them, and returns to Suzail with the Mask of Blood. I didn't want to get into a huge campaign against the Shadowvar, so I was going to keep the party in Suzail for the last adventure. What I intended to do was have Deskyr show his ignorance of what he's dealing with by storing the mask and the vessel in the same place. This releases the spirit of the ancient evil sorcerer in Deskyr's mansion. During the night it will sneak in and dominate several members of Deskyr's personal guards and use them to seek vengeance on the party for defeating him at the wizard academy. I figured since the sorcerer was just defeated and was trapped away for so long it'd take him a while to regain his strength, so if the party acts quickly they could take him down again.

I had planned to have the evil sorcerer kill Deskyr for thinking he could control and use him so easily, which gets him out of the campaign. The party once again should be victorious and return his spirit back into the vessel. At which point there was hopefully enough ruckus that the purple knights, the law enforcement in Cormyr, would step in and confiscate the evil artifacts. I figured that would wrap up the story pretty nicely.

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