Expeditionary Dispatch06/18/2007

Dispatch 22: Cairn's Gatekeepers 1
Wir, 3 Vult, 998 YK

The Eldeen druid Cairn, last seen slipping into the brackish waters beneath Sharn at the conclusion of the Citydark Series, surfaces back in the Reaches. In a communiqué to his friend Ashford Terra, Cairn speculates darkly on the link between the Day of Mourning and Xoriat, the Realm of Madness.

Wir, 3 Vult, 998 YK
From: Cairn
To: Ashford Terra
archival reference code 1886-A: delivered via unknown courier, magically sealed and encoded

Friend Ash,

I trust this missive finds you well and fully recovered from the affliction conferred by the terrible foe of our last encounter. The beast was indeed an aboleth, creature of Xoriat, and likely the original architect of the madness we faced in the tunnels beneath Sharn.

After our brief battle in the citydark cavern, I assumed the form of a giant cephalopod and pursued the foul aberration through a labyrinth of underwater passages beneath the city. Summoning to my aid whales, tojanida, and a friendly elasmosaurus, I finally bested the fiend beneath the swirling currents of the Dagger River. Crushing the weakened aboleth in my tentacles, I channeled pure elemental power into its alien mind, burning its consciousness forever from our plane. Better, I think, that you did not join me in this battle -- although I concede you are a fine swimmer.

You should know, old friend, that I have been closely following your recovery, after a fashion. The healers of House Jorasco tend to keep various medicinal plants growing within their facilities, and by use of a particular druidic scrying technique, I have kept a keen eye on you these past several weeks. Your complexion is improving! The lash of the aboleth is no mere wound, and you would do well to let the Jorasco healers work their craft to completion.

Meanwhile, I have returned to my home in the Eldeen Reaches to confer with the Gatekeepers about our discoveries in Sharn. More than ever, I am convinced that the Day of Mourning is tied to the madness of Xoriat. In cooperation with my Gatekeeper brothers and sisters, I have assembled a working group here to combat the menace of aberrations within the Reaches and abroad in Eberron. I would be pleased if you would consider joining us. We have a great need for one with your particular skills, and I know you share my unease about the true origins of the Mournland catastrophe.

Until we meet again, I remain your friend and compatriot,


Feat: Elemental Essence [Wild]

(Complete Champion, page 58)

You can channel the power of the four elements from the natural world around you.

Prerequisites: Any other wild feat (which require the wild shape class feature).

Benefit: When you first select this feat, choose one type of energy -- acid, cold, electricity, or fire. This choice cannot thereafter be changed. You can spend one daily use of your wild shape ability to surround your limbs and weapons with an aura of the chosen energy. While this effect is active, each melee attack you make deals an extra 1d6 points of the appropriate type of energy damage. Additionally, you gain resistance 5 against that type of energy. These effects last for 1 minute.

Special: You can select this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take it, you must select a different type of energy to which the feat applies. You cannot use this feat to activate multiple energy types at the same time.

Spell: Forest Eyes

(Complete Champion, page 121)

Divination (Scrying)
Level: Druid 3
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Unlimited
Target: Two plants of the same type, one of which must be in physical contact with you
Duration: 1 minute/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

The moment your hand contacts the rough wood, your vision swims, blurs, and resolves into a different image.

Upon casting this spell, you can touch a normal, Medium or larger plant or tree and designate another of the same kind. You immediately see the surroundings of the destination plant, regardless of the distance separating the two. You see the area as though you were standing in the exact spot where the destination plant stands. You cannot move your field of vision from that spot, but you can rotate it in all directions to observe the area around the destination plant. Unlike other scrying spells, forest eyes does not allow magically or supernaturally enhanced senses to work through it. If the chosen locale is magically dark, you see nothing. If it is naturally dark, you can see in a 10-foot radius around the plant at the center of the spell's effect.

Both plants must be alive to allow use of this spell. You can either select a particular destination plant that is already familiar to you or designate a direction and distance and let forest eyes find the appropriate type of plant nearest to the desired location.

New Organization: Cairn's Keepers

Founded by the druid Cairn of the Eldeen Reaches, Cairn's Keepers is a small and exclusive group dedicated to hunting down and destroying aberrations anywhere in Eberron. Supported by both the Gatekeepers (ECS 241) and the Wardens of the Wood (ECS 246), Cairn's Keepers go abroad more often than their Eldeen brethren and are specifically tasked with maintaining the planar seals between Eberron and Xoriat, the Realm of Madness. The group also gathers information on the Day of Mourning, as their leader Cairn suspects a planar breach is the ultimate cause of the Cyran catastrophe.

Membership in Cairn's Keepers is by invitation only. The group favors stealth and mobility, forming small, elite strike forces that can move quickly throughout Eberron.

Criterion Affiliation Score Modifier
Character level +1/2 PC's levels
Base attack bonus +5 or higher +1
Druid, ranger, or barbarian +1
Place of origin: Eldeen Reaches +1
Favored enemy: aberrations +2
Successful mission on behalf of Cairn's Keepers +2
Uncover information related to Day of Mourning +2
Uncover information related to Xoriat planar invasion +2
Defeat aberration +1/4 aberration CR
Refuse mission from higher-ranking keeper -4
Retreat from or surrender to aberration -2
Oppose or offend Gatekeeper or Warden of the Wood -2
Needlessly kill living creature -1

Title: Benefits and Duties
3 or lower Aspirant: Cairn's Keepers recognize you, and you are granted a 50gp/character level equipment disbursement.
4-10 Initiate: +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks in Eldeen Reaches and Shadow Marches; +2 to Will saves when fighting aberrations. You are assigned to at least one mission or expedition per month.
11-15 Hunter: You may select one anti-aberration magic weapon up to 10,000 gp value from the keepers' cache (subject to DM's discretion); +2 to AC, attacks, and damage rolls when fighting aberrations. You are assigned to at least one mission or expedition per month.
16-22 Bane: You may select one anti-aberration magic item up to 30,000 gp value from armory (subject to DM's discretion); Protection from Evil 1/day as spell-like ability (caster level = character level). You are assigned leadership of a small squad (2d4 1st-level NPCs) on at least one mission or expedition per month.
30 or higher Keeper: Dispel magic 1/day as spell-like ability (caster level = character level); Spell resistance 20 vs. aberrations as extraordinary ability. You earn the Leadership feat with a base score of 15.

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.

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