Story Outline (Draft)¶
This entire page is meant as DM information. If you're not the DM, you should probably not be reading this!
This is the raw outline for the story, it is in flux.
The adventurers receive invitations to Dauriel’s 462nd birthday party. Dauriel is a retired adventurer, an elf, grown rich off his very successful exploits and settled down to live out the remainder of his life with his husband in Cauldin’s Point. The adventurers arrive the evening before at the inn in the town of Cauldin’s Point, where Dauriel’s mansion is located.
Ulterior Motive (Optional Hook)¶
Dauriel, having gone into retirement and given over the reigns of his company to his successor does not like the way his old company is currently being run. Though he's still an advisor to the company, his advice is ignored completely.
A few years ago, he wrote a book (Aldarion Unlimited: Adventurers or Colonizers?) criticizing the way the company is run, and published it anonymously. While this opened up some lines of inquiry into the company by authorities, nothing was done.
Dauriel has become so pissed off with all of this that he wants to start a new adventuring company, but because of contractual obligations, can't be publically associated with it. He wants to bankroll and provide tools to a group of adventurers who can then make a name for themselves and bring back the "good old days" of adventuring. He wants to live vicariously through them, but doesn't say it in so many words. Retirement has not been kind to him.
Dauriel calls the adventurers into his office the afternoon before the party and breaches the subject to them. This is the reason why he, a man of means and influence, has sent invites to fairly low level people. He wants to run this operation from scratch. If they accept his terms, they can show up to the party later that night and the main plotline engages the same as before.
If not accepted, the party can spend the day in town to get some supplies, establish background, and RP — or skip straight to the birthday party.
The next evening, they arrive at Dauriel’s mansion, which sits atop a large hill in the center of town, and are introduced to his husband, Moreus, a human.
After introductions, Dauriel shows them around the house and shows off his collection of curio and trophies from his days of adventuring. He sounds nostalgic discussing all this; he seems to miss those days. One glass display case holds three items in particular that make him sad. The weapons of his fellow old-timey adventurers who died while Dauriel was able to make it out. An astute observer would be able to detect a great amount of guilt in Dauriel.
Moreus seems oblivious to his husband’s sadness (isn’t actually, he just wants Dauriel to hear this) and says that he’s glad he is no longer putting his life in danger.
Dauriel looks older to everyone, much older than the last time they saw him, too old for only 462 years. Dauriel will not acknowledge this if asked about it or make up excuses.
Passing through the hallway between rooms, the adventurers can see a large set of wooden doors, incongruous with the rest of the mansion’s decor. If they ask Dauriel what it is, he will say it’s just the entrance to the wine cellar. He’s not lying, he did build a wine cellar there, but it’s also the entrance to a dungeon that’s under the house.
After Dauriel shows them around the house (the parts he wants them to see), he fetches libations. Moreus tells the adventurers that he’s found the perfect present for his husband and can’t wait to show him the surprise he has planned for him. He asks them not to spoil it for him.
People show up to the birthday party and at its climax, Moreus says he’s going to be right back. The adventurers know that he’s preparing his big surprise. A few minutes later, he shows back up in the room holding a glowing orb, bright green light emanates from it and the crowd moves back in awe and fear.
“Darling, I know that you miss you days of adventuring so much,” he says holding the orb in front of him. “And I want you to be able to do so. But, I just couldn’t spend another moment waiting for you at home, hoping you made it out alive this time around.”
“Moreus, what are you doing?” Dauriel asks bewildered.
Moreus crushes the orb in his hands and the green light begins snaking up his arms, seemingly alive. “I’m coming with you, darling,” he says, watching the magic take place with his eyes wide open. “This will make me strong enough to withstand—“ he stops mid-sentence as the green energy reaches his face and screams in agony. “I don’t understand,” he says, falling onto his knees while the green energy covers his entire body. “She said that it would make me worthy,” he groans.
Dauriel drops onto his knees with him. “Moreus, what have you done?”
Moreus falls down on his back, unable to speak as he’s entirely engulfed in the green energy. His body lifts up off the floor and slowly moves horizontally across the floor, out the doorway, down the hallway, and - as if he were a ghost - passes through the large closed wooden double door, out of sight.
Dauriel is inconsolable and dismisses the people at his birthday party to go back to their homes, but asks the adventurers to stay behind.
The Ask for Help¶
A distraught Dauriel takes them to his study, a room adjacent to his trophy room where he unlocks a drawer in his heavy oaken desk and retrieves a heavy iron key - used to open the heavy wooden doors through which Moreus disappeared.
Dauriel looks around the drawer for another item and says “I was afraid of this.” Moreus has taken the orb.
He explains to the adventurers that on his final adventure, he defeated a powerful entity that was inhabiting the body of a young man, Moreus. The mansion they’re in now stands atop the cave entrance into the ancient subterranean complex where Dauriel defeated the entity.
With his own magic, he was able to trap the entity’s essence in an orb of powerful magic and save Moreus. Once the entity was freed from Moreus’ body, he had no recollection anything that transpired before the moment he was set free. Nothing but his own name. Dauriel nursed Moreus back to health and, over time, the two fell in love. Moreus never was told that he was inhabited by the entity, he just thinks that Dauriel found him on the hill, unconscious.
They built the mansion over the ruins that once stood on this hilltop and happily spent their lives there for many years. The orb could only be broken and the entity set free by its original host, but only willingly. Moreus and the entity were still very much connected, which meant that destroying the entity would destroy the man. And though the two of them have traveled, Dauriel has noticed that Moreus always wanted to come back home only a few days into their journeys. He fears that the location and the man are somehow inextricably linked. Dauriel fears that his magic wasn’t strong enough to keep the entity from communicating with Moreus, and that it tricked him to willingly break the orb, allowing the entity to reclaim its host.
Dauriel wants the adventurers to find a way to retrieve his beloved Moreus and do what he couldn’t do himself the last time around: destroy the entity while keeping Moreus alive.
If asked about it, he says that he can’t come with them. The price he paid to entrap the entity was his own life force, which has reduced his vitality and stripped him of his magical abilities. He says that he’s within the last few decades of his life - if that - but he was happy to sacrifice this for Moreus. However, though he’s in no physical condition to help, he does provide the adventurers with some tools from his trophy room and information.
He casts a spell and materializes a small white crystal sphere, which looks like a pebble. Reluctantly, he hands it to the adventurers and says to only use this in a case of extreme need. It contains his remaining life force and that he would like it back in case they don’t need it, so he can spend his final days with Moreus. If they were to destroy it, Dauriel would surely die. How fast? Unknown.
If asked about it, Dauriel says that he doesn’t know Moreus’ true identity. He gestures to the old tomes lined on the shelves of his study and says that he’s studied them looking for a hint of Moreus or the entity, but has found nothing. If anything, he says, the answers would probably lie in the subterranean complex below the mansion where he freed Moreus from the entity, but he promised Moreus to quit adventuring, so he never returned there.
Once equipped and filled with useful information, the adventurers set down through the doors leading into the wine cellar. Within the wine cellar, behind a movable shelf holding bottles, is a cave entrance. Dauriel says that this is as far as he will go, from here on out things get dicey. He tells them that at the first chamber, he took the left passage way, which should lead them onto the path he took.
A staircase hewn into the rocks leads them down into the cold darkness. As promised, they come upon a chamber with three doorways, unmarked, but in varying qualities:
- The left doorway, the one that Dauriel mentioned, seems to be coming out of a stone built wall, as if part of a structure that’s protruding here. Remains of an ancient wooden door, long rotted away, hang from hinges still attached to the stone door frame.
- The central doorway is more like the continuation of the cave system, natural, with a bit of rough stone carving. A dripping noise can be heard coming from deep down upon closer inspection.
- The right doorway is covered with a thick steel door. Streaks of rust run down its stained surface, but even so, it looks really quite solid. There is no keyhole or handles on its surface. With some investigation, it seems like it is designed to be opened from whatever is on the inside.
Branching paths, various adventures, gaining knowledge, going deeper.
The Underground City¶
Dauriel seems to have forgotten to mention that the subterranean complex below his house is an ancient buried town constructed within an enormous cavern. The art and language seem to indicate a race of humans living down here many thousands of years ago, but it seems to be entirely abandoned now. The town would have housed approximately 200 people at the most.
At the center of the city stands a spire, connecting the floor of the giant cavern to its ceiling. Along it, hundreds of small openings that look like windows, carved into the stone. By their layout, the adventurers can see that it must spiral upwards.
On the ceiling, radiating outward from the spire itself, they can see five carved openings, equidistant from each other, along the length of the ceiling.
The town can be explored, some puzzles, collectibles, encounters, etc.
The Original Party¶
They will also have encountered the souls of Dauriel’s original party and have gotten an idea of what happened here.
At some point while in town, they hear a loud thumping sound and see a bright green light move from the outer points of the openings in the ceiling slowly towards the center, where the spire connects. This light looks identical to the light that engulfed Moreus back in the mansion. Once the lights reach the center, there’s a rumbling, a deep clunk, and then it’s quiet.
At the base of the spire, the adventurers encounter three skeletons. They look as though they would have been crawling along the floor, collapsing where they lay dead. They seemed to be getting away from the spire, maybe mid-escape.
The players can make the connection that these are the skeletons of Dauriel’s old adventuring party though either remembering it or inspecting the bodies. Or maybe they have encountered their ghosts in the dungeon earlier.
The spire contains a spiral staircase with several landings where the adventurers can rest. Maybe some encounters along the way? Maybe some history and exposition. Who knows? The same rumbling and glowing happens again, but this time it doesn’t go away. Any magic user can feel a strong magic as they ascend the spire, it makes them feel weak and ill.
Once they’ve climbed the spire, they end up in a massive chamber. Along the floor of the chamber, the same tracks that they could see in the ceiling are visible, gently glowing, culminating at the center of the room where Moreus’ body is suspended in a beam of the same green light. A trickle of blood pours in from a hole in the ceiling above him, into his opened mouth.* His eyes lock with the adventurers when they make themselves known.
Or not, depending on the completion of a side-quest in town. Amalchi will also mention this to them if it was stopped.