AURASTORM
 
Aura Storm Campaign Journal


© 2002-2003 Scott W Roberts (and some Drhoz)

        "Know, Prince: though fraught with peril, the Storm Age was a time undreamed of. 
Though chaos and terror swarmed across the face of the land, Samuria was a realm of glory and wonder. 
For, from the banks of
Thunder River, the streets of Hieropolis, the caves of the Steel Mountains,
the jagged windswept wastelands and many other places, there rose up heroes to meet the challenge of this age. 

Out of the Storm strode they whose names are carved now in eternity. 

Hear, now, tales of the Aura Storm..."

Year 423,    Year 423,  Year 423,   Year 423,        Year 423,    Year 423,  Year 423,   Year 423,    Year 423,  Year 423,   Year 423,   


 

 

Autumn, in the 423rd year of the Storm Age.

 

Day 255: Vitus meets with Vizier of Marduk at Royal Court; announces pilgrimage; assassination attempt

256: Vitus brainwashed; Marna hired as Vitus' bodyguard
258: Pilgrimage to The
Lost City begins, joint expedition with Ambassador Saralon (appointed to discuss marriage proposal between the Royal Court and Princess Minerva); 70 persons total.

259: camp at the wrecked automaton
260: Vultures; a pilgrim falls behind; strange hounds
in the night
261: the next few days are uneventful.

264: a theological debate erupts among the pilgrims - over whether Usamigaras is primarily a God of Magic, Healing OR Thieves - resulting in a brawl.
268: large scorpions kill and drag off some pack animals during the night

 

Winter, in the 423rd year of the Storm Age.

 

271: the pilgrimage passes near a mile-wide patch of storm-warped jungle, amid the rocky wastes
273: a guard, driven mad by the sound of dogs howling at night, commits suicide.
276: come across debris and corpses from a bandit raid.  You should reach The
Lost City in the next few days...

The pilgrimage consists of:
- the player-characters
- Ambassador Saralon
- 15 guards
- 40 pilgrims
- sundry riding and pack beasts

Incidentally, Saralon's riding horse "Blessed Wind Of The Gracious Night" is of the finest stock from the Royal Stable, and he spoils her greatly.


Day 277: Death Dog attack; guardian angel visitation.
278: poisoned oasis trap; smoke on the northern horizon at dawn.
279: "salamander-men" ambush
280: Sand-Stalker tribe
281: reach The
Lost City; Darius and henchmen escape.

Things for you to think about:
* Tufala the storyteller - you've probably done the elf tribe quite a favour by taking her off their hands; provided the aging chieftaness doesn't die in the near future, this could be of long term benefit.  On the other hand, if she dies without begetting a daughter...
* the gnolls tell you that there is an imperial waypost roughly 2-3 days to the North; Darius and his henchmen are probably heading for it... as are other evil forces.
* if you don't go after Darius, you could be in for a very long and nasty siege.
* the Cliff-Diver tribe, several days travel to the south, do have an Ornithopter.
* several of the pilgrims and guards are going to start dying in terrifying agony over the next week or so... and the impending demise of his favourite horse isn't going to help Ambassador Saralon when it comes to negotiating the marriage and alliance with Princess Minerva.
* speaking of her highness, she is having a tough time holding her people together...

Day 281: reach The Lost City; set off in pursuit of Darius
282: Giant Scorpion attack
283: temporarily thrown off track, then reach the Imperial Waypost at nightfall; Darius flees down a secret tunnel
284: loot and bury the bodies of Darius' henchmen; see plumes of dust on the horizon...

Things to think about:
* the north and south horizons are (currently) clear, while large groups approach from the east and west - these are likely Darius' allies, and they will arrive at the waypost in a few hours time.
* if you pursue Darius underground, you will likely find yourself cut off by whoever is moving to rendezvous at the waypost
* if you abandon pursuit of Darius, you may be able to spy on the opposition and return to Cynicidea before the bandits/mercenaries/whatever attack
* you're running rather low on food and water
* If there is another way out of the underground part of the Waypost, Darius may have escaped and by now be several hours away... or he may be waiting for you with who-knows-what surprises

Once again, I must congratulate you on your intelligent spell use - I had anticipated the battle with Darius' henchmen to be a more formidable challenge otherwise.  On that note, I feel it only fair to inform you that pursuing Darius may test your resourcefulness to the limit...

To recap: you're at the Imperial Waypost, and bandit armies will converge upon your location within a few hours... you also have an unconscious prisoner.  You could follow Darius, return to Cynidicea, or pursue some other course of action - assuming another course of action doesn't pursue you...

The campaign is at a turning point.  While you probably will run into Darius again at some point in the near future, the question is when?  If you pursue him, it could be sooner rather than later.  If you return to Cynidicea, you could become involved in a protracted siege.  If you stay where you are, you might learn something about the forces arrayed against you...

The Darkness is rising all over the known lands - a Dark Power from another world is to be fought with the aid of an unknown god also from another world.  Choose carefully, very carefully.

Day 284: desert tribes converging on the Imperial Waypost.  Volts incapacitate party; rest.
288: Slarris and Glib revive; occupy upper waypost, after the army has moved on
289: abandon pursuit of Darius to follow the army to Cynidicea.
291: catch up to army; kill the werefox
292: captured and released by the army, except Marna who flees ahead to Cynidicea; Vitus, Slarris and Glib compelled by mysterious dark-robed figure to seek Darius.
294: return to Cynidicea, shortly ahead of the army
295: the army of desert tribes, bandits and assorted dark forces arrives
296: siege of Cynidicea begins
297: zombie attack

In the early days of the siege, you begin to wonder where the Sand-Stalker elves disappeared to... then, you see that the evil army's reinforcements are straggling in worse for wear - most likely the Sand-Stalkers are ranging the wastelands, picking off anyone heading for Cynidicea...

This possibility becomes a certainty when you see a different elven band arrive on the outskirts of the ruins, waving tattered Sand-Stalker robes and severed heads... they are joined by the mysterious black-robed figure, and you hear the chanting of a dire ceremony.

Then things take a turn for the worse (to be continued)

One of the desert tribes besieging Cynidicea is a gnoll tribe, the Vultures - and they've brought their ornithopter with them.

The Vulture ornithopter is larger than normal, perhaps a 3 or 4 seater... and crossbowmen and a wizard with some magic wands occupy the extra seats.

The ornithopter circles over the ziggurat, firing volleys and barrages at the defenders... the statues take a direct hit from a Fireball and are fused into half-molten immobility.

The crossbow fire from the ornithopter pins down your archers and arquebus marksmen long enough for a squad of swordsmen to ascend the ziggurat and force their way in through the secret door.

There is a savage melee, but the invaders are repelled - their bodies are tossed down the sides of the ziggurat before they have a chance to animate.

Meanwhile, dark chanting can be heard coming from the edge of the encampment (to be continued).

The tumbled stones and shifting sands of Cynidicea are stained with blood... the blood of sacrificial victims of the risen Cult of Zargon!

Wreathed in rusty spikes and surmounted by four pillars of skulls and bones, the dark altar is encircled by ceaselessly chanting and cavorting cultists...

Whenever a naked slave or willing fanatic approaches the dark-robed, knife-wielding figure hovering over the altar, the chanting rises to a fever pitch... which finds only temporary release as blood flows.

The sickening, hypnotic ritual brings to mind a huge, hideous heartbeat... then you realise there is a low, deep booming sound, seeming to emanate from everywhere and nowhere at once, pulsing in time to the rise and fall of voice and blade.

The sands shudder... the skies darken... (to be continued)

Drhoz: > Oooh, boy.. i think I'ld better hurriedly set up some counter-chanting - > Featuring me and my coat of many colours, a staff (the obvious choice of > symbol and weapon for a traveller god) and a big conga-line of > Usimagaras cultists.... )> Damn, but we needed that ballista up here... and breaking up the melted > statues is going to be an arse of a job...> Shame that Hamarhaz the Undying turned out to be a little lacking in the > Altruism stakes, hey - I'm sure this sort of thing would have been right > up his alley. (I can just picture the fireworks...)

Unfortunately, you have something else to deal with...

A tormented soul roams the lower tiers of the ziggurat, screaming curses at Darius... and at Vitus for having failed to slay Darius!

It is the ghost of Demetrius, an elder in the cult of Usamigaras... years ago, Demetrius vowed to destroy the cult of Zargon - especially his evil twin brother, Darius.  But Demetrius was assassinated before he could even begin his quest (thus paving the way for Auriga Sirkinos to rise to power among the Magi...)

It is no longer safe to travel the lower tiers of the ziggurat - your guards and mercenaries flee in terror at the sight of the ghastly apparition, and your pilgrims prayers seem to be in vain...

Has Usamigaras deserted Cynidicea in his people's hour of need? (to be continued)

The vile chanting from the edge of the ruins continues deep into the night... the sickly writhing vapours from the dark altar coils high in the air like a great and terrible serpent...

The ground trembles as a deep rumble seems to answer or join the chanting, from far below...

Plumes of sand and flames erupt all across the ruins... while, in the underground city, huge chunks of rock fall from the cavern ceiling, crushing buildings and Cynidiceans...

The dark voice that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere, a deep bass sound that shakes you to your bones and seems to cause the walls to vibrate, resolves into a terrible chant:

zargon... Zargon... ZARGON... ZARGON!!!!!

The next day, the sun does not rise over Cynidicea (to be continued).

The stars are all angled wrong... far on the horizon, all around, a thin band of yellow and blue indicates where daylight falls upon the harsh desert beyond Cynidicea - but in the ruins, there is only darkness.

Night has fallen, a darkness called from beyond the stars.

Fear rides the cold winds whipping round the ziggurat, as dark forces stir.

Evil walks openly, and Cynidicea's fall is nigh (to be continued).

Over the next few days, the tide of battle turns against the brave yet doomed defenders of Cynidicea.

The unnatural darkness unnerves even seasoned veterans, and combined with suppressing fire from the Vulture ornithopter it forces the battle back into the ziggurat.

Outnumbered, their morale faltering, the defenders fall back through the tiers of the ziggurat, leading the dark forces into traps and ambushes. For a time, it seems as though the darkness can be held off...

Yet, slowly but steadily, day after day, more and more of the ziggurat falls to the Zargonite army.  The cult shrines are deconsecrated, the royal burial chamber is looted, the dead rise up and fight alongside the invaders. Soon, almost all of the upper tiers are lost.

The end seems certain (to be continued).

> His words were quiet, with none but himself to hear
>
> "They won't take my home without a fight"
>
(Congratulations, Vitus has just earned an XP Bonus... incidentally, had you stayed in pursuit of Darius as you originally intended, you would have caught up to him and stood a fair chance of preventing his completion of the answering ritual - the darkness above Cynidicea would have been temporary, the forces of darkness would not have been so bold, and you probably would have eventually defeated them.)

After two weeks of siege, Princess Minerva calls one last war council.  Except the topic of discussion is no longer war... it is evacuation and strategic withdrawal.

The Princess commends you and your Magi for having defended Cynidicea as best as you were able, then outlines what she believes is her people's last hope.

Until recently, some trade with other subterranean colonies took place... by means of the Lower Catacombs, beneath the Underground City.  Far below, hundreds of miles of tunnels, carved by Dwarves in ancient times, link Cynidicea to lightless realms whose dwellers have never known daylight.

But the Zargonites summoned undead and other foul allies to occupy the Catacombs...

The plan Princess Minerva proposes is this: that Vitus and a small, hand-picked group (the PCs plus a few NPCs she'll send with you) are to descend into the Catacombs, clear them, and begin exploring the passages of the Underdark beyond.  If allies or safe areas can be found, this is to be reported back to the Princess... who will be leading her people slowly into the depths of the earth.  If it possible to escape to the surface, you are bid to seek out allies to lift the siege.

For this contingency, Ambassador Saralon gives you a sealed scrollcase to deliver to the Royal Court in Hieropolis, or any officer of the Horus Guard.

May Usamigaras guide and protect you in your Quest.

Had things gone as I originally outlined:
* if you stopped Darius & co as they fled Cynidicea, his henchmen would have delayed you long enough to allow him to escape (just as they did at the Waypost).
* mass battle being something of a nightmare to play out, you would have been away from Cynidicea anyway at the time of the siege and heard of the outcome later
* on the other hand, you wouldn't have gotten such a clear idea of the forces arrayed against you - this information could prove quite useful

In any event, you're still going to spend at least some time in the Underdark...

Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth...

Day 300: Darkness falls on Cynidicea
315: Tunnel between Ziggurat and Undergrond City is trapped and  sealed; failed attempt to penetrate the Lower Catacombs, resulting in the death of Slarris
322: resurrection of Slarris and fall of Assur
323: return to the catacombs, enter the Underdark

Tufala remains with Princess Minerva and soon-to-be-refugees, as every community needs its storyteller...

When you find an area suitable for resettlement, Benumau and Tamit are to return and lead the refugees there - while you are to continue seeking possible allies and an alternate route to the surface. Or at least, that's the plan...

Your "Journey To The Heart Of The World" Continues...

Day 323: Enter Underdark
324: Roper
325: Purple Worm
326: big sinkhole
327: Giant Slug kills Tamit; rest at The Pit
328: Glib nearly liquefied by "tentacled horror" in The Pit
329: reach the Fungus Farms

Only another month (game time) until the New Year!

Day 329: The Fungus Farms
330: head back to the Underground City
336: flying manta rays
337: return to the Underground City
338: evacuate the Undergound City
349: resettle the refugees in the Fungus Farms
352: dwarf envoy from Aurora Deep meets with Princess Minerva
356: refugees guided deeper into the Underdark

Spring, in the 424th year of the Storm Age.

 

6: reach Aurora Deep outpost
12: Cynidicean diaspora begins, party heads for the surface
31: return to the surface, emerging in The Chaos Wastes, with a band of pilgrims
32: Antelope Herd
34: bat-winged giant reptile attack
36: Lammasu pride
37: shelter in Lammasu lair
39: leave Lammasu lair
42: cross Thunder River
44: enter Daughters of the Tiger territory

Day 44: Enter the territory of the Daughters of the Tiger.  Monster Summoning spells start to fail across Samuria.
45: Vitus meets the new Mother Stripes.  Flee down river.
46: Stirges
47: Passing by Necropolis
49: leave the river headed for Mordis
51: reach Mordis.  Brawl at the Drawn Dwarf Tavern.  Meet head merchant and thief guildmaster Ninurta.  Rescue followers of Usamigaras from the Temple.
52: The Chimaera calls Vitus of the Scorpion clan to serve the Sect of Druaga
55: arrive at Twilight Isle and meet the Twilight Archmage

And now... Into the Flow!

Whilst recovering on Twilight Isle from his journey into the Aura Flow, Slarris has a curious dream:

You stand atop a high pillar in Hieropolis, and can see all the lands of Samuria spread out all around you...

From the jungle to the desert, from the mountains to the sea, you count seven winged lions in seven reconsecrated temples; and at the foot of each of these winged lions you see more and more converts flocking to hear the word of Usamigaras...

In the markets below, you see the ranks of the faithful grow and gather and make ready...

And in the skies above, you see a new constellation - seven stars, each a different colour of the rainbow.  And in the heart of the constellation you see Vitus and Assur, seated at a boardgame and talking.  And you realise that the constellation is in fact the cloakpin of a black-skinned dark-robed figure towering over the world, the stars glittering in the folds of his cloak, a wise yet troubled smile upon his benign mien.

It is Usamigaras, in all his celestial glory.

You realise that Vitus and Assur have gone to a better place, where they may serve the Wanderer of Stars better.  You also realise that Vitus was never intended to be the Prophet of the Magi, but merely to set in motion the chain of events leading to their spread across the lands.  It is now up to others to continue the work that has begun.

Lastly, you see a ship heading for harbour; it is crewed by strange folk from lands so far distant they can scarcely be of this world.  The sail is marked with seven stars...

Here is the legend (as garbled, embellished and incomplete as most such legends, but helpful nonetheless) recited by Glib, as a result of the Ring of Wishes.  Adapted from TSR's C2 The Ghost Tower Of Inverness.



55: Into the Flow
62: Ring of Three Wishes
Return to Hieropolis

 

PART THREE: ASCENSION LOST

 

Summer, in the 424th year of the Storm Age.


Rise of the Dead
Diverse Omens, Rumours, Incidents and Meetings
123: Set sail upon the Sun Tiger for Kentyris, seeking the Soul Gem of Atenhotep
137: near Necropolis - according to Glib's research, the Tower will be in phase sometime within the next week or two

While Glib, Marna, Slarris and Tarrandor are up Thunder River...

* Scouts report to the Horus Guard that the veil of darkness blanketing The
Lost City seems to have stopped growing.

* Rykan Lightbringer of Keoland sails his spelljammer The Seventh Star from Twilight Isle to Hieropolis, meets with Tiglath and Pileser, assumes leadership of the Magi of Usamigaras and converts the clergy into Specialty Priests of Celestian the Star Wanderer.

* The dead continue to rise...


Day 137: Near Necropolis.  Camp on Thunder River, fortify, upriver from Tower ruins.
138: dark forces scout the ruins at night
139: scout the tower compound, explore beneath the SW tower. Find a Key.  Triple petrification from wandering basilisk-variant
140: petrification dispelled; Acolyte With Lantern dies.

 

Day 140: search SE tower; green slime; retreat.
141: SE tower key attained.

141: Kdal Adali, Champion of Marduk, joins the expedition; retreat from the Bead Curtain
142: NE tower key attained.

The corridors and few rooms beyond the Iron Throne gameboard room are empty, and wind around to another gleaming wall of blue-grey metal...

143: fourth and final key attained.  Enter the central chamber.  Rest.
144: "Beanstalk" Plant Growth into the
Ghost Tower, to the Air Level.
145: Earth Level.
146: Fire Level.  Death of Slarris and near-death of Glib.  Slarris interred in Medusa's rose garden on the Earth Level.
148: Water Level.  Reach the Soul Gem - which steals Glib's soul.
149: Soul Gem claimed by Marna.  Glib's body buried in the rose garden.

You then are able to leave the tower.  Where do you intend to go next?  Play will resume on day 150; I will strive to have
Warwick's new character join before the start of play, along with an NPC cleric/healer.

Day 150: Malthorious and Kellamy join; remake the raft, head downriver.
152: bullywug ambush.  At night: fire and lightning sighted on the eastern horizon, before dawn (mercenaries and militia from Mordis battling with hordes of undead lead by a demon)
153: improved raft
157: reach Kentyris.
159: invest in ivory, hardwood and preserved fish (3,000gpv) headed for Hieropolis.  Shaman's Council.
160: Sun Tiger Galley arrives in Kentyris.  Marna learns how to use the Soul Gem.

160: Night attack of the Evil High Priest.

161: Set sail upon the Sun Tiger for Hieropolis.  Marna meditates upon the Soul Gem.

162: Pelusia.

163: Through Broken Swamp, along the seacoast.

164: Wing-fingers attack.

166: reach Hieropolis.

Kdal Adali reports to Vizier Shalmeneser.

Rykan Lightbringer has organised the Magi of Celestian to operate as messengers for the Horus Guard in their battles against the Risen Dead.

The forces of civilisation and light are everywhere embattled and almost overextended.

The Order of Marduk, using information extracted from Darius, has led raids against several Dark Cult sites.

The party has a week or two in Hieropolis to rest, re-equip, plan, etc.

 

Autumn, in the 424th year of the Storm Age.

 

A terrible omen is beheld.  Dark clouds gather, arising from the sphere of darkness surrounding Cynidicea and centred upon Hieropolis.  The clouds form into the shape of a shield, which is then shattered by a ram's head.  The ground heaves, emitting gouts of flame - and unleashed spirits of the Underworld.  All over the lands - from the Rainbow Jungle to the Soulwind Desert, and from the Steel Mountains to the Pharos Sea - violet lightning lashes down with the fury of an Aura Storm.  Nergal, Lord of the Dead, has been slain by Orcus, Prince of the Undead and demonic interloper from another world.

 

Marna, Malthorius, Tarrandor, Kdal Adali and Kellamy go through the streets of Hieropolis, calming the populace and rescuing people from themselves.  Many see it as the end of the world.  The next day, Shalmeneser, Vizier of the Council of Hawks, leads the gathered armies into the desert.  A Lammasu leads the Chosen of Usamigaras to an ancient and most sacred temple in the Lemure Hills.  There, seven tests are faced and a ritual of divine rebirth is performed.  Marna, Malthorius, Tarrandor and Kdal become temporarily imbued with divine power.  As a consequence of the seven tests, Tufala (pregnant with a Cynidicean child) flees her tribe to seek refuge at the College of Thoth, and Princess Minerva becomes an High Priestess of the Prince of the Undead.

 

Making their way into the Soulwind Desert, the Chosen penetrate the rapidly expanding sphere of darkness, bypass the advancing evil army, and proceed to the Lost City of Cynidicea.  There, a terrible and mighty force for evil has been gathered from across the known lands - and from other worlds.  There also, Orcus manifests.

 

Using the power of the Soul Gem, Marna sows chaos and confusion in the enemy encampment.  Kellamy and Kdal each lead bands of kobolds summoned by Malthorious and bound by the Soul Gem, under the influence of the Abyssal Vortex in the sky.  Tarrandor leaps at the honour guard of vampires attending Orcus.

 

For eighteen months, the gods of Aura have awaited this moment.  In the hands of the archangel Assur was placed the responsibility of guiding and empowering heroes to face this challenge.  Everything that has happened since Vitus and his companions first entered the Lost City has, like moves on a chess board, been leading up to this.

 

Kellamy and Kdal are slain in battle.  Malthorius warps the Gate in the sky back upon itself.  Tarrandor is feebleminded and slain by Orcus - but instantly resurrected by the gods, as reward for his passing the Violet test of self-sacrifice.  Marna turns the Soul Gem upon Orcus, severing his connection to the Abyss - and the Soul Gem is destroyed.  In the process, hundreds of souls are released: some ancient, many insane - and among them a 15th level Wemic Psionicist.  Glib Moltar finds himself in the body of an alien elf.

 

Tarrandor slays Orcus, the sphere of darkness collapses, and the world is saved.  The Chosen are hailed as heroes, and made honorary Captains of the Horus Guard.

 

The End...?