As our Q’Barra Blindenstone Series continues, House Sivis bard Fell Severins leads his expedition into the wilds of Q’Barra, intending to make contact with a reclusive utopian cult known as the Anand. The Anand are said possess the Blindenstone, an ancient tablet able to unlock certain linguistic secrets of the Draconic Prophecy.
Sul, 22 Aryth, 998 YK
From: Fell Severins
To: Viceroy Camilla Severins, Overseer, Korranberg Sivis Enclave
archival reference code 1043-B: transcribed from message via augmented speaking stone, magically sealed and encoded
Greetings again, sister mine;
We are two days travel north of the Crimson River now, deep in the heart of Q’Barra’s Basura Swamp. Q’Barra’s rotting, stinking, snake-infested Basura Swamp. I am attempting to compose a song about our travels here but can’t think of anything that rhymes with “loathsome.” Any ideas, sister? At least we have left the fetid plains of standing water behind us and are moving slowly into higher elevations of relatively dry land. That the Anand would choose to pioneer their utopian society here is final evidence that these good gentlefolk are, indeed, insane.
In fact, just earlier today, I made the acquaintance of another native beastie. A “croc-o-dile,” I believe it is called. Huge. Ill-tempered. Like a snake with legs. Horrid. You know my feelings about snakes of any sort, so I immediately panicked and set upon the brute my dragonmark projection. Interesting spell, that -- picked it up from Wordsmith Santor at the Guildhouse last spring. ‘Twas rather a mismatch, but the Denieth sellswords we hired on in Regalport found my display quite impressive. They are noticeably more polite now.
At any rate, I bring tidings grimmer still. Our guides assure us that we are well within the territories of the Anand now. Still we have seen no trace of their settlements. The Anand are known to be semi-nomadic, however, so we press forward in the hope that we’ve arrived in the midst of some seasonal migration.
This is not to say we have seen no signs of passage. Toward dusk yesterday, our Jorasco healer Jin-Mae literally stumbled across the corpse of a hillock, one of the native swamp giant hybrids that haunt this forsaken marsh. The brute was riddled with arrows and evidently was felled mere hours before our arrival. On examining the projectiles, I noted the arrows were of two distinct varieties. The fletching on the first was unique and specific to the elite spirit runners of House Phiarlan.
The second variety was surpassing strange. I am comfortably convinced that the arrows are of Riedran origin. As you know, I’ve made quite the study of our reclusive Sarlonan friends, gathering information and artifacts for several years now. The Riedran’s standing military, the Harmonious Shield, uses native Sarlonan materials in their weaponry. Easy enough to spot, if you know what you’re looking for.
Our Oversight agents* warned before launching this expedition that other Houses would likely be interested in acquiring the Blindenstone. It does not surprise me that House Phiarlan would be involved, whether of its own accord or, more likely, on retainer to others. But what are the Riedrans doing here?
We press on. Perhaps you can consult with others regarding Sivis policy and protocol? I would better know our standing here before we encounter the Phiarlan representatives, and I do not relish the thought of negotiating with the Riedrans.
* Organization: Oversight, House Sivis
(from p. 71 of Dragonmarked)
Oversight is the security arm of House Sivis. It defends the house’s reputation for absolute confidentiality and impartiality. Oversight protects Sivis from spies and scrying eyes but also polices the house membership, swiftly punishing those who threaten the stability of the organization. In addition to its own highly skilled agents, Oversight often works with operatives of Phiarlan and Thuranni, House Kundarak, and the Trust, creating the tightest web of secrecy that gold can buy. As with Zilargo and the Trust, Oversight is allowed a great deal of latitude in its methods. Gnomes who leak house secrets have a tendency to simply disappear.
Spell: Summon Living Dragonmark
(from p. 153 of Dragonmarked)
Summon Living Dragonmark
Conjuration (Summoning) [Force]
Level: Bard 3, cleric 3, sorcerer/wizard 3
Components: V, S, Dr
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: One summoned living dragonmark
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
You summon a writhing mass of energy with a vaguely dragonlike form, not unlike a three-dimensional version of your dragonmark.
A living dragonmark appears where you designate within the spell’s range and acts immediately, on your turn. It attacks your opponents to the best of its ability, and you can direct it to attack particular enemies. It cannot perform any other actions. You can summon only one living dragonmark at a time.
Dragonmark: Any lesser, greater, or Siberys true dragonmark.
Living Dragonmark CR --
N Medium ooze
Init +4; Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0
AC see below
hp see below (6 HD); DR 10/magic
Immune acid, cold, electricity, fire, sonic, positive and negative energy, ooze immunities
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +2
Speed fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee force slam +8 (see below)
Base Atk +4; Grp +8
Atk Options constrict, improved grab
Abilities Str 18, Dex 18, Con --, Int --, Wis 11, Cha 10
SQ ooze traits
AC In addition to its +4 Dexterity bonus to AC, a living dragonmark gains a deflection bonus to AC equal to its summoner’s Charisma modifier.
Hit Points A living dragonmark summoned by a caster with a lesser dragonmark has 33 hit points. If its summoner bears a greater dragonmark or Siberys dragonmark, it has 48 hit points.
Force Slam (Ex) A living dragonmark’s slam attack deals an amount of force damage based on the strength of the summoner’s dragonmark.
Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a living dragonmark must hit with its slam attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can constrict.
Constrict (Ex) On a successful grapple check, a living dragonmark deals normal force slam damage (see above). It cannot constrict creatures larger than itself.
About the Author
Glenn McDonald is a freelance writer and game designer in lovely Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He writes about games, film, technology, pop culture, shady characters, conflicted heroes, strange and terrible magic, and shadowy fantasy noir intrigue. Not all at the same time.