BCAP 2-1: Engdyr’s Game - Aetheric Invasion
The region of Karghthyne in the Shimmering Lands has long been plagued by conflict, both from without as well as within. Before the coming of the dwarves, the land belonged to the giants of Grondheim who contested for dominance with the Antalians, elemental masters of the north.
Dwarves of Clan Felwig now hold these lands, keeping fast the secrets they have found from the ancient past. Led by Engdyr Heldfyst, one of the founders of the Shimmering Lands and an active member of the Elder Conclave, Engdyr has his own plans for the area. Recently he has discovered an ancient Blackmoorian Aetherstation, and is refurbishing it to suit his needs. Unfortunately for Engdyr, some of his technomagical experiments have broken free and are now terrorizing the countryside.
While tracking down a nefarious plot from Grondheim, the PCs will accidentally stumble upon Engdyr’s handiwork, a colony of recently escaped undead aetheric spiders. The spiders however, are not their only concern, as Engdyr has dispatched his own lackeys to clean up the problem.
Ruins of Layhash
The ruins of Layhash have lain fallow for decades, after Engdyr Heldfyst and his followers crushed a budding rebellion from that estate. In truth, Elder Farsah Layhash and many of her followers were changelings of Grondheim. Some of those changelings survived and have been using the ruins as a base of operations while plotting their revenge. PCs stumble upon a group of dwarves defending themselves from an attack of what appear to be undead giant spiders.
Undead aetheric spiders have taken over several captive bodies (several of the changeling dwarves along with one giant they were meeting with) and have begun to establish a colony in the twilight passage between Layhash and the Aetheric Realm. The PCs must find the colony, and eradicate it before the infestation grows out of hand.
Gray Guardian’s Grotto
Just as the last aetheric invader is being dispatched, a Sentinel of the Dusk emerges from a wispy gray grotto - a portal to the Aetheric Realm. Once he has determined that the PCs have dealt with the threat, he turns on them, announcing that none may live who have witnessed this. The Sentinel fights to the death, but PCs can pick up his trail in the Aetheric Realm.
Changelings of Grondheim
Changelings have been operating in this region for decades, actively trying to usurp control from the dwarves and to destabilize the area. After their coup failed nearly 60 years ago, they have taken on more discrete activities. The changelings are funneling dwarven made weapons into the hands of nearby giant clans. Their goal is to strengthen the Shimmering Land’s enemies in the area, and hopefully frame Engdyr Heldfyst for the entire operation.
Having emerged from the Aetheric Realm as little more than ravenous undead, the corrupted spiders have begun behaving more intelligently after merging with several humanoids in the area. Now their goal is to establish a foothold on the Prime Material plane and prepare for The aggressors that they know will soon follow. Should they succeed, the spiders will be emboldened, and may begin to expand their territory across the Shimmering Lands. They can feel the power source in the west (the Gate of Light in Himnem) and will eventually try to capture it.
Sentinels of the Dusk Shroud
The Sentinels have long operated out of Mount Hrokyrdran, and while the organization as a whole is not directly linked to the Heldfyst family, many of its members owe Engdyr a debt of gratitude for their current position and status. Engdyr can call upon many of these loyalists in times of need, and may even be able to sway the organization in general matters. While members of the Sentinels may not know the extent of Engdyr’s plans, many of them would die at a moment’s notice for their erstwhile patron.
The PCs should be able to remove the immediate threat of both the Grondheim conspirators and the undead aetherics from the region, however the origin of these threats remains at large. Daring PCs willing to continue exploring both the ruins and the surrounding twilight region between the planes, may find additional allies and tools to use in their upcoming battles.
The ruins of Layhash may be cleared and used as a temporary base of operations, perhaps even sanctioned by the Elder Conclave. As the adventure path continues, the PCs may be able to rally allies to their cause, and eventually petition the Elder Conclave for permanent control of the now fallow estate (especially if one or more of them are dwarves from the Shimmering Lands). Engdyr Heldfyst himself may support such a move, if only to keep tabs on creatures he sees as potentially dangerous to his operations.
This adventure is designed to introduce PCs to the Mystara 2300 BC setting and the borderlands of the Shimmering Lands. At the same time it can be used to showcase the lifestyle of the Moadreg (one of solitude, reflection, and study) by using the newly liberated ruins of Layhash as a base of operations and possible future dominion for the PCs.
The adventure should also be able to showcase some of the Shimmering Land’s staunchest enemies, including agents from Grondheim, and the dwarves of the Shimmering Lands themselves (they are a fairly self destructive lot after all).
Further exploration of the ruins and surrounding lands may lead PCs to new and exciting discoveries, revealing ancient weapon caches and unthought of magical equipment, all of which will help the PCs further down the road.
At its heart, this is a wilderness exploration adventure, where the PCs can have some real skin in the game, and a real opportunity to break into the political arena of the Shimmering Lands.