House Sivis' Q'Barra expedition began as a seemingly routine mission to retrieve the Blindenstone, a stone tablet said to unlock certain linguistic secrets of the Draconic Prophecy. House bard Fell Severins tracked the relic to Q'Barra's dank Basura Swamp only to find the 'Stone had been spirited away by agents of House Thuranni and the inscrutable Riedrans of Sarlona. Unwittingly teleported to the coastal shantytown of Whitetooth in Sarlona's remote Tashana Tundra region, Fell nevertheless managed to pick up the trail again. As he finally lays eyes upon the Blindenstone, the Sivis bard is reminded yet again that, in Eberron, nothing is ever as it seems.
Wir, 25 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
Dearest sister Camilla,
Success! I have gained possession of the Blindenstone! Furthermore, I have managed this remarkable feat spilling neither blood nor an excess of House Sivis coin. How, you ask? Thereby hangs a tale …
Stitching it all together, it is indeed a yarn for the Library. As you know, the existence of the Blindenstone was confirmed shortly after the Treaty of Thronehold, when various documents inevitably changed hands. Venerated by the utopian cult known as the Anand, the 'Stone was secreted in the bowels of Q'Barra's bleak Basura swamp.
It seems that House Thuranni, that painted harlot of secrets, ascertained the location of the relic and sold this information to both House Sivis and the Riedrans. While the Riedran expedition won the race to the 'Stone, they were in turn infiltrated by yet another player -- a dreadfully slippery rogue known as Clovis Forlaine.
Forlaine is a rascal -- you'd like him. Pirate and fence, he is the unofficial mayor of the free city of Whitetooth here in Sarlona's forbidding Tashana Tundra. Forlaine has no love for the Riedrans, and he managed to dupe them entirely by posing as their House Thuranni guide to the fecund marshes of Q'Barra. Once in possession of the Blindenstone, Forlaine 'ported the entire Riedran party back to the Tundra using a forgotten smuggler's network of permanent teleportation circles linking Q'Barra to Whitetooth. There the Riedrans were summarily dispatched by Forlaine's waiting allies, the arctic shifters of Tashana's Saartuk tribe. Admirable, isn't it? I am rather fond of the human.
Jin-Mae and I arrived here in Whitetooth mere hours after the Riedrans met their fate. That was three sunsets ago, and in the meanwhile, we have made the friendly acquaintance of the estimable 'mayor'. He arranged a meeting offshore upon one of several seafaring vessels he keeps moored in the harbor.
Negotiating on your behalf, I have agreed to a contract by which the Blindenstone will be returned to House Sivis -- along with some very interesting native lichen samples . I shall send the details in a separate dispatch. Meanwhile, I've finally had a chance to inspect the Blindenstone thoroughly, and I suspect both the Hidden Word and Tasker's Dream will want to take immediate possession. It is a marvel -- Five columns of corresponding text in Common, Old Common, Riedran, Draconian, and a fifth language I do not recognize. Could this represent the "missing link" of humankind's origin? Most fascinating.
Jin-Mae and I are set to depart on the morrow. Master Forlaine assures us that the Riedrans are unaware of the betrayal, but I fear the far-reaching mind powers of these Sarlonans. We will make contact again when we are far from this land and safe.
I trust you will petition the Oversight committees to award me full reinstatement. I'll keep the 'Stone secured until then. Many thanks, sister. It has been a most excellent venture!
Your loving brother,
NPC: Clovis Forlaine
Clovis Forlaine CR 7
Male changeling rogue 7
CN medium humanoid (shapechanger)
Init +3; Senses Listen +0; Spot +0
Languages: Common, Aquan, Dwarven, Sarlonan
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 18; uncanny dodge
(+3 Dex, +5 armor)
hp 23 (7 HD)
Resist evasion; +2 on saves against sleep and charm effects
Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +2
Speed 30 ft (4 squares)
Melee+1 frost rapier +9 (1d6+1 plus 1d6 cold/18-20) or
Ranged throwing daggers +8 (1d4/19-20)
Base Atk +5; Grp +5
Atk Options sneak attack +4d6
Special Actions minor change shape
Combat Gear: Amulet of proof against detection and location; lichen pastes of water breathing, neutralize poison, invisibility, gaseous form, fly
Abilities Str 10 Dex 17 Con 8 Int 16 Wis 10 Cha 14
SQ trap sense +2, trapfinding
Feats Persona Immersion (Races of Eberron), Urban Tracking (Cityscape), Weapon Finesse
Skills Appraise +13, Bluff +14, Disable Device +13, Disguise +12, Forgery +13, Gather Information +14, Intimidate +4, Knowledge (local) +13, Open Lock +13, Profession (Mariner) +10, Sense Motive +12, Use Magic Device +12
Possessions combat gear plus +1 mithril shirt, throwing daggers (4)
Minor Change Shape (Su) As disguise self at will, but does not affect possessions.
Clovis Forlaine -- merchant, pirate, and fence -- runs various gray-market operations in Whitetooth, acquiring Tashanan lichens, art, and other valuable resources of the Tundra. Originally a privateer from the Lhazaar Principalities, Clovis has operated out of Whitetooth for more than a decade. He has a hand in or an eye on every signifi¬cant transaction that takes place in Whitetooth. Clovis keeps several different safe houses in town and often conducts business on vessels anchored in the waters west of Whitetooth. Clovis's true identity (as a changeling) is a carefully guarded secret, and he 'officially' presents himself as a slickly dressed male human of conspicuously Lhazaar origin.
Clovis is a master of disguise and deception. He relies on his shapeshifting abilities, Persona Immersion feat, and amulet of proof against detection and location to assume various identities at will or to disappear altogether. Clovis keeps multiple changes of clothing, equipment, and forged identification papers in and around Whitetooth. He also regularly travels to the cities of Riedra to "conduct business" and maintains still more identities in that dangerous land. He is known to have contacts among the Riedran smuggling cabal known as the Dream Merchants.
Clovis is a skilled sailor and swordsman, and his prized possession is his +1 frost rapier -- a gift from the maenads of the Tashyvar Islands. Unfortunately, Clovis also has a weakness for certain narcotic substances of Sarlona, particularly dreamlily and icewild, which accounts for his poor Constitution and general state of enervation. Clovis's best fighting days are behind him, and he keeps special Tashana lichen pastes on his person at all times to escape unfavorable combat situations.
PCs might encounter Clovis Forlaine, or one of his assumed identities, anytime they travel in Whitetooth, or traverse the criminal underground of major Riedran cities.
Magic Item: Tashana Lichen Pastes
(from p. 138 of Secrets of Sarlona)
Tashanan shamans can create from the native rock lichens a wide variety of magic substances that approximate the effects of standard potions and oils. The lichen pastes use natural materials and processes such as sun-drying but otherwise have the same creation costs and requirements of a potion or oil, including spellcasting ability, the Brew Potion feat, and the XP and gp costs (DMG 286).
In the coastal ports of Whitetooth and Winterstead, lichen pastes can be purchased at normal cost (DMG 230). In addition, individual tribes encountered in the inland of Tashana might be willing to sell or barter lichen pastes. The DM should set price and availability, considering the size and disposition of the tribe.
Physical Description: Tashanan lichen pastes differ in consistency and appearance depending on whether they're intended to be applied (as an oil) or consumed (as a potion). Consumable pastes appear as very small, thin wafers of shredded leaves. Oil-type pastes have a greasy or buttery consistency. Taste and smell vary among types. Experienced characters can learn to identify a lichen paste by remembering particular attributes. For example, a minty taste might indicate curative properties, while a particularly pungent odor specifies barkskin. Lichen pastes are typically stored in small hide pouches. Pouches have AC 13, 2 hit points, and hardness 2. The relative portability and durability of lichen pouches give them an advantage over ceramic or glass potion vials.
Activation: Consumable pastes are heavily concentrated, relative to potions, and dissolve almost instantly when placed under the tongue. Applicable pastes can be smeared just as traditional oils. Activating a paste is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. The effect takes place immediately. Incorporeal characters cannot use lichen pastes of either variety. Curative lichen pastes can be administered to unconscious creatures as a standard action (a potion requires a full-round action).
The Tashana region also produces some lichens which contain natural magical/psychoactive properties. These lichens do not require any preparation and can be harvested and ingested raw. The most notorious of these is the blood-red rock lichen known as icewild.
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.