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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
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Posted - 07 Jun 2017 :  22:22:09  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To complicate things, and in keeping with the outcome of all great demonic plots, I suggest that devils will become involved.

Perhaps the Srinshee isn't in the picture, at the beginning. She's been found and imprisoned by an arcanaloth or ultroloth, perhaps in retaliation against *her* retaliation for the initial fall of Myth Drannor. To oppose Lolth's infestation of present-day Myth Drannor, the PCs have to get an audience with this ancient yugoloth and offer it something it wants. (Something impossible for it to obtain by itself, like a diamond from the 7th Heaven, or whatever.) When the PCs accomplish that, the yugoloth releases the Srinshee. And it's realistic that it would actually release her, because the yugoloths are beings who create and honor contracts. As long as the PCs fulfill their commitment, it will hold up its end of the bargain.

The Srinshee can then rally the baelnorns and elves from all over Toril, plus eladrins from the upper planes, and so forth, far more effectively than any mortal elf could.

Of course, yugoloths also try to get as much benefit as they can out of every contract. And the juiciest benefit is watching demons and devils destroys themselves, gradually increasing the power of yugoloths. So the yugoloth "makes a call" to Dispater or Belial, and gives the devils a few pieces of information that the yugoloths have been holding onto, regarding the holdings of Lolth/Orcus/Grazzt/Tiamat in the Abyss as well as on Toril. A few truenames of major demons, and so forth.

Devils appear all over Faerun, both in areas controlled by the demon princes and in neighboring regions. This is where LE churches can join the fray in a productive way, leading and supporting armies of devils.

So are the PCs fighting demons, or devils? Are they freeing Toril, or damning it? Are they heroes, or instigators of the worst wars in history?

Yes.
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1809 Posts

Posted - 07 Jun 2017 :  22:27:16  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

Well, sure. But I'd like to know the most "realistic" answer as well.


I think game mechanics points to Lolth being more powerful than the Srinshee. The Srinshee is probably a demipower, while the 3e FR book puts Lolth at intermediate power status.
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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 07 Jun 2017 :  22:31:14  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Some fun ideas you got there with the yugoloths. I was considering involving the Nine Hells, but didn't think of the 'loths. What's stopping the Seven Heavens from also getting involved? Not sure I want to focus too much on the Blood War since it could distract from other plots.

Keep in mind that all the gods are reduced to avatar status. So, it's more a question of: could Lolth's avatar take out the Srinshee.

Edited by - valarmorgulis on 07 Jun 2017 22:56:24
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
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Posted - 07 Jun 2017 :  23:43:47  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

Some fun ideas you got there with the yugoloths. I was considering involving the Nine Hells, but didn't think of the 'loths. What's stopping the Seven Heavens from also getting involved? Not sure I want to focus too much on the Blood War since it could distract from other plots.

Keep in mind that all the gods are reduced to avatar status. So, it's more a question of: could Lolth's avatar take out the Srinshee.



I think you can use the devils, letting the Blood War be background DM knowledge. If you don't mention the Blood War, then it's not a distraction.

Right, I forgot about the ToT being concurrent... in that case the Srinshee would spank Lolth and send her home to mommy.

Now there's a distraction... who is Lolth's mom?

Nothing in particular stopping the upper planes from getting involved, except maybe prudence. Sometimes, like when multiple demon princes get personally involved, it's best to let the demons and devils fight each other. Agents of the upper planes would probably get involved though, as far as protecting/relocating certain mortal individuals who are important to Good objectives in Faerun, or (more likely) using visions and calling in favors to get adventurers to do so on their behalf. After all, Good is more likely to follow the Prime Directive of avoiding direct interference on the Material plane. In my opinion.

Edit: oi, the implication of the Srinshee killing Lolth... during the ToT, death in Faerun means Death, so Ao would give the Srinshee the option of taking Lolth's place... as patron goddess of the drow.

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 07 Jun 2017 23:54:49
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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  00:05:55  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This brings up another question, which is: how is arcane magic affected by the ToT? I recall that there was a wild magic table in the Shadowdale adventure. When Mystra is an avatar did magic work? What about if she dies? I don't recall magic completely failing when she was killed by Helm. What happens to magic as Toril is subsumed into the Abyss?

Edited by - valarmorgulis on 08 Jun 2017 00:07:39
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1809 Posts

Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  01:32:35  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The spontaneous appearance/movements of wild magic and dead magic zones was the only real issue.

Magic did not fail completely while Mystra was an avatar, nor was there any kind of Spellplague-type effect when Helm killed her.

The explanation for magic still working during the ToT is "Ao." The same explanation would suffice for your campaign too, even if you kill/subsume Mystra.

If you let the demon princes "win" and Toril is fully glommed by the Abyss, then whatever mechanism allows magic to work in the outer planes would take over and enable magic to continue functioning on the new "Toril level."

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 08 Jun 2017 01:34:11
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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  06:13:34  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Looks like there was a Magical Chaos table that affected all spells, so not just wild magic and dead magic zones.
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
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Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  06:22:06  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hah I forgot about that table, in spite of the fact that I liked it. Great source of ideas for wand of wonder effects.

They're all symptoms of the gods being ousted from their homes and dumped on Faerun, tho. The Weave was sustained by Ao, but he (probably deliberately) didn't manage it as closely as Mystra did so it was a little finicky until Midnight ascended.
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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  06:46:01  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes and it sounds like it would have gotten progressively worse had the ToT not come to a relatively rapid end.

Back to Xvim. He was indeed imprisoned below Zhentil Keep during the ToT. I wonder if he, as a demigod, would actually be more powerful than Bane's avatar.

If Bane were to appear in Zhentil Keep and decide to unite the Moonsea under him, how would he handle Fzoul vs. the High Imperceptor? Does he favor one over the other? Would he have them compete with each other with the winner being his favored? Seems like that would waste resources.

How would the factions in the Zhentarim react to Bane's appearance? This is what I'm currently thinking:

* Bane appears in Zhentil Keep, destroying the temple. The High Imperceptor worries if that means Fzoul is favored.

* Manshoon and the other Zhentarim wizards find that their magic doesn't work right and are rightly worried about what that will mean for them. They try to hide this fact, but can't forever.

* Bane has Fzoul take full command of the Zhentarim. Fzoul demands all Zhentarim pledge to Bane.

* Would Manshoon pledge? Would he flee? In either case, he gets as far away from Zhentil Keep as he can, possibly traveling to the Citadel of the Raven.

* Fzoul quickly completes his inquisition. All remaining Zhentarim forces have pledged to Bane. Does Bane then use the Zhentarim to control the Moonsea? Does he have another force he should use instead?

* Does someone (High Imperceptor?) release Xvim with the hope that Xvim will supplant Bane?

* At some point does Fzoul attempt to destroy Manshoon's clones?

Edited by - valarmorgulis on 08 Jun 2017 20:37:22
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1809 Posts

Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  01:05:18  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My personal opinions/interpretations:

quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

If Bane were to appear in Zhentil Keep and decide to unite the Moonsea under him, how would he handle Fzoul vs. the High Imperceptor? Does he favor one over the other? Would he have them compete with each other with the winner being his favored? Seems like that would waste resources.



I think Bane is fine with the competition between leading priests. He's had ample opportunity before 1358 to declare either Fzoul or the High Imperceptor to be favored over the other, and he hasn't done so. F&A points to Bane's strongest temple actually being in Mourktar during this time frame, so he's really letting both Fzoul and the High Imperceptor delude themselves into thinking they're his favorites. I think Bane probably doesn't care much about resources being wasted, because they're not *his* resources. When he gives a command, it's up to his priests and followers to make it happen. If they've spent all their money fighting each other, well, they're just going to have to figure out how to make it happen. Bane is a results-oriented god, with no patience for excuses.

Ultimately, it seems Bane does favor Fzoul, but I doubt he would ever say so because (1) he would lose some percentage of the High Imperceptor's following, and (2) Fzoul would get cocky... errr, more cocky than he already is.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

How would the factions in the Zhentarim react to Bane's appearance? This is what I'm currently thinking:


* Bane appears in Zhentil Keep, destroying the temple. The High Imperceptor worries if that means Fzoul is favored.



I'm not sure this would be the High Imperceptor's conclusion. The opposite seems equally plausible: Bane is mightily displeased with Fzoul, and therefore smashes the place where Fzoul is statistically most likely to be at that very instant. Given the High Imperceptor's belief that Fzoul is a heretic, confirmation bias would make him likely to think that Bane is tired of Fzoul's treachery and intends to take personal control of the church in Zhentil Keep in order to put it back on the "straight & narrow."


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

* Manshoon and the other Zhentarim wizards find that their magic doesn't work right and are rightly worried about what that will mean for them. They try to hide this fact, but can't forever.

* Bane has Fzoul take full command of the Zhentarim. Fzoul demands all Zhentarim pledge to Bane.



Yep this makes sense; Bane doesn't have the patience to deal with many mortals face to face, so he directs Fzoul to do it. He knows that Fzoul will have a difficult time complying, due to his power struggles with Manshoon; it'll be a good test of Fzoul's underlying *ability* to follow Bane's command, regardless of his loyalty.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

* Would Manshoon pledge? Would he flee? In either case, he gets as far away from Zhentil Keep as he can, possibly traveling to the Citadel of the Raven.



If Manshoon is aware that Bane is physically present in Zhentil Keep at this point (and he likely would be, because nobody sleeps through an avatar landing on the temple a few blocks away) then he probably pledges, while employing whatever magic is necessary to conceal his duplicity from Fzoul. Bane will likely not be physically present during this pledging, because he wants Fzoul to know he's on his own to follow orders and deal with the consequences. Handle it! So Manshoon doesn't have to worry about fooling Bane directly. (And Bane expects that he won't get Manshoon's true loyalty anyway.)

Yea, I believe Manshoon would leave Zhentil Keep, and the Citadel of the Raven is a likely destination despite not being all that far away. However, Manshoon wouldn't trust the Zhentarim and Zhentilar at the Citadel because of the point below, so he would probably just grab some important magic items and retire to a more secluded (secret) location.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

* Fzoul quickly completes his inquisition. All remaining Zhentarim forces have pledged to Bane. Does Bane then use the Zhentarim to control the Moonsea? Does he have another force he should use instead?



I would think that some of Bane's servants would show up in Faerun to support him during the TOT. I don't recall anything saying nobody could plane shift into Realmspace during the TOT, so the loyalists among Bane's following should be showing up and the ambitious individuals among his most powerful servants should be watching for opportunities to backstab Bane and take his place. In canon, however, Bane is on his own and has only the forces of Zhentil Keep to command. A case could be made for using the Zhentilar for any military campaign, rather than the Zhentarim, because soldiers can be expected to be loyal to the money source and Bane could easily put his hands on the city's treasury. The average intelligence score in the Zhentarim being likely higher than the average intelligence in the Zhentilar (lots of wizards vs lots of fighters) means that the Zhentarim is more devious and unpredictable. So in my opinion, if he plans to take over the Moonsea, it makes more sense to use the Zhentilar.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

* Does someone (High Imperceptor?) release Xvim with the hope that Xvim will supplant Bane?



I don't think there's any canon reason for anyone to believe that Xvim would act against Bane. He had acted on Bane's behalf, but never against him, in the past. Unless I'm missing something...

Of course that doesn't mean the High Imperceptor knows that. It's very possible that he's gotten erroneous or deliberately misleading information from his own ambitious underlings who wish to take his place. If the High Imperceptor believes that Xvim will be an ally to him, and believes that he has good information regarding where and how Xvim is being held, he might very well dispatch someone to free him.

Come to think of it, I don't remember why Xvim was being imprisoned in the first place. Woops.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

* At some point does Fzoul attempt to destroy Manshoon's clones?



Sure, if he can do so with confidence that (1) Manshoon himself will be truly killed, or (2) If Manshoon survives, Fzoul won't be held responsible for the plot to kill him.

Edited by - xaeyruudh on 09 Jun 2017 01:07:39
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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  02:59:28  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cool.

Xvim would never act against greater deity Bane because he is so much weaker, but if demigod Xvim is more powerful than avatar Bane, that's an opportunity for Xvim that may never come again. So, I think that *if* Xvim is more powerful than Bane, he'd try to destroy his father and take his followers. But, I'm not sure who could be convinced to attempt to release him. Maybe the PCs.

I figure that Manshoon wants to avoid the Banite arm of the Zhentarim without completely abandoning his grip on the organization. It's a dangerous path to tread. My guess is he pledges, then gets out of Zhentil Keep as fast as possible.

With the literal incarnation of Bane in Zhentil Keep, and wizards barely able to use their spells, I imagine that Fzoul and the Banite clergy will become very cocky and aggressive. How that plays out, I don't know.

You're probably right that he'd primarily rely on the Zhentilar, but I don't see why he wouldn't try to command both.

Edited by - valarmorgulis on 09 Jun 2017 03:07:51
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  04:25:26  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No one released Xvim before. He escaped on his own.

I would also note, since you have a fiendish thing going on here, that Xvim was previously described as being a cambion, and it's believed his mother was either a fiend of some sort or a paladin. (I've suggested both: a planetouched paladin, striving against her fiendish heritage, who fell and was seduced by Bane. Carrying his evil within her reacted with her own blood and pushed her all the way to full fiendhood)

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valarmorgulis
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Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  05:59:32  Show Profile Send valarmorgulis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
After the ToT had ended, yes. But wasn't he imprisoned during the ToT? So, seems like it might take external aid for him to get out early, so to speak. Or I could just have him free himself early, but that doesn't seem as interesting.

Does anyone know how/why he was imprisoned and how he got out?

There should be some plot twist related to his fiendish heritage, it's too good an opportunity to let slide.

Edited by - valarmorgulis on 09 Jun 2017 06:03:29
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1809 Posts

Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  06:04:42  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

I think that *if* Xvim is more powerful than Bane, he'd try to destroy his father and take his followers. But, I'm not sure who could be convinced to attempt to release him. Maybe the PCs.


I hesitate to take a firm stand one way or the other on whether a demipower could best a TOT-god-avatar. There's a compelling argument for each side. So go with what works best for your story, or whichever you like best, and your decision will be easily defensible if anybody questions it.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

I figure that Manshoon wants to avoid the Banite arm of the Zhentarim without completely abandoning his grip on the organization. It's a dangerous path to tread. My guess is he pledges, then gets out of Zhentil Keep as fast as possible.


I agree. Manshoon is pretty flexible, in terms of adapting to or capitalizing on circumstances. (Note: I'm thinking of the Manshoon & Zhentarim THO has talked about in Ed's original campaigns, not the published versions which have become kinda dumbed-down due to various edits to the novels.) He's also never been dependent on (or fond of) the zealous priests anyway, so the "worst case scenario" of losing all the priests is inconvenient but not a bitter pill.

Manshoon doesn't immediately know that the TOT is a temporary event, but he'll probably figure it out quickly as he starts to hear news that other deities have landed in other parts of Faerun. He wouldn't want to be stuck on Faerun if he was a god, so it's logical that the gods don't all want to be on Faerun. He'll also figure that if he's wrong --if the gods are on Faerun to stay-- then it's essentially the end of the world and 99% of the Zhentarim's membership will die with everyone else.

SO. I think Manshoon will, yes, relocate quickly. He'll pick up whatever important items (spellbooks, sentimental stuff, etc) he has in ZK and the Citadel, and he'll "lay low" until the TOT is done. He'll come up with a new alias and a new face, and take up temporary residence in -- *calculating* -- Marsember. Weird? Maybe, but he will want a place that certain people (Fzoul, Bane, Elminster) won't think to look for him.

Marsember has a Zhentarim presence (RoZK maps) but no open temple of Bane and therefore little/no traffic from priests of Bane. Cormyr is staunchly anti-Bane and anti-Zhentarim, so while their patrols keep eyes on the roads and towns for brazen Zhentarim plots and plotters they won't notice the infamously debauched and megalomaniacal Manshoon himself living quietly and avoiding trouble in the stinking marshes of Cormyr's least-desirable neighborhoods. This address has advantages for Manshoon tho, beyond just going unnoticed behind the pirates and nobles and other scumbags.

(Scornubel might also be ideal for some of the same reasons, but it's in Darkhold's front yard and high on Sememmon's list of places to similarly create a new identity for himself if Darkhold's priests prove problematic.)

Marsember is a high-traffic port, so there will be lots of merchants to ply for information and build a rapport with. Magic is on the fritz, so wizards of all levels (from all over the Realms) will be looking for leadership. Manshoon won't trust wizards in Cormyr, but Sembia and Westgate and even the Dales are close by and easy to reach without magic. The Zhentarim also has need of other skills, though. The fighters and rogues who not only have no skill with magic but now have more to fear from wizards' unpredictable spellflinging are prime targets for recruitment... um, I mean friendship and mutual defense, even within Cormyr. (Manshoon has some skill with weapons as well, from before his discovery of magic.)


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

With the literal incarnation of Bane in Zhentil Keep, and wizards barely able to use their spells, I imagine that Fzoul and the Banite clergy will become very cocky and aggressive. How that plays out, I don't know.


Agreed again.


quote:
Originally posted by valarmorgulis

You're probably right that he'd primarily rely on the Zhentilar, but I don't see why he wouldn't try to command both.


I didn't mean that Bane would ignore the Zhentarim. He would use them too, but probably in ways that test Fzoul's capability without having to rely on them getting the right results. For example, the Zhentilar marches/sails against the defenses of Phlan, while the Zhentarim are tasked with getting there first and charming the city's leadership to soften the defenses and minimize Zhentilar losses. Bane plans to take the city either way, but if Fzoul is successful it will be quicker and less costly. He's more comfortable believing the pledge of loyalty from the Zhentilar, because their loyalties are simple and they're less devious than priests and wizards.
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Cyrinishad
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Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  16:34:51  Show Profile Send Cyrinishad a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think the idea of Manshoon hiding out in Cormyr is gold... It had occured to me that Cormyr had not yet been brought up, but Manshoon influencing Cormyr to cobble together a sort of alliance between the Dales, Sembia, Westgate, etc. sounds pretty solid to me.

Regarding Xvim... As far as I can tell he's always been loyal to his father, but if he truly is more powerful than Bane's Avatar at this time... Would he feel obligated to destroy his father if he's a "true believer" in his father's dogma that "Might makes Right"?... Perhaps... he may even see his father's Avatar as test sent by his father that he must overcome, or die trying... Or he may be aware of the nature of the multiverse, knowing that the Avatar is merely proxy of his father that he is obligated to give aid to in order to further his father's ambitions...

I just don't know how the rationale would play out in Xvim's head... It's a really great question... I would tend toward the rationale that Xvim is more powerful than the Avatar, and that he feels that to truly serve his father he must prove his might over it (I think that's an appropriately dark and twisted rationale, consistent with how Bane has treated his various other "loyal" servants).

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge. -Socrates

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. -Dr. Seuss
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