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mak
Pie
(12/4/02 6:36:45 am)
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Replacing the Orbs
Hi!

When reading through the last sections of the module I found the Orb of Oblivion & Silvery Death a bit lame. Sure - its the return and all, but still... So IMC I decided to replace them with somewhat modified "Binders" from Oerth Journal. I used the revised Suel History from Greyhawk Codex as a base (the original version had imprisoned Genie Princes) - it already mentions Imix et al and their father Etherasra for a total of nine bound elemental royalty members. I made the following changes:

  • Only four Binders, holding Imix, Olhydra, Ogremoch and Yan-C-Bin
  • The four princes are still imprisoned (nicely symmetric with Big T)
  • The Champion (Lareth) can destroy a Binder in the respective node and free the Prince
  • Lareth just so happens to be pure-blooded Suel and descendant from the Imperial family...
  • The Binders are lost, only the Fire Binder with Imix has been found
  • ...and so on


IMO this ties the module better to the history of Greyhawk AND gives better hooks for continuing after defeating Imix. The rest of the Binders have to be found as well and the Cult is looking for them. Also a nice dilemma for the players: should the thing be destroyed, hidden or used?

What do you think? It should be playable, but have I forgotten anything? Any gaping holes in the plot that need to be filled?

MAK, who is not witty enough to come up with a decent sig...

gmk6135
Pie
(12/4/02 2:23:36 pm)
Reply
Replacing the Orbs
>IMC I decided to replace them with somewhat
>modified "Binders" from Oerth Journal.

I like this idea. It does, however, raise a few questions.

Is Imix still in the binder when they get to the fire node? Can the player characters find the other binders? can they use them? Does the cult have the tome written by Tiamat on how to use them? It seems lie an interesting idea, but these are Major artifact level items. What powers do they have and how will you controll the characters if they acquire them?

gmk

mak
Pie
(12/5/02 1:18:05 am)
Reply
Re: Replacing the Orbs
> Is Imix still in the binder when they get to the fire node?

No, Lareth has released him a short time before that

> Can the player characters find the other binders?

They should be able to, or they can wait for the cult to find them and try to take them away

> Can they use them?

They could, IF they found out how...
They shouldn't want to, however - this becomes a "Boromir's Dilemma" and a nice morale issue

> Does the cult have the tome written by Tiamat on how to use them?

I'd say no: the cult has no intention to use the Binders, just release the princes

> these are Major artifact level items. What powers do they have and how will you controll the characters if they acquire them?

They probably won't use the abilities since they don't know how and don't dare :) But I'll have to add in some stiff penalties (turning to the Dark Side, a feeling of becoming tainted, etc) Haven't thought about the actual abilites that much - that's why I posted the issue here...

MAK

gmk6135
Pie
(12/5/02 7:12:15 am)
Reply
The Binders
An interesting idea occured to me yesterday along these lines. What if the apporpoiate binder was a necessary component to activate an elemental node? Kind of like the battery required to make it work. It would explain why Imix is spending his time in those silly little caverns when he is a prince of the elemental plane of fire. He wasn't released from the binder, he just got a bigger cage when its was plugged into the node. The other three binders could be plugged in already to the other nodes but they aren't accessable yet. Or they could be inaccessable because the binders have been stolen, though that would reduce the urgency a bit. It would also explain better why the evil princes are so keen on destroying the world: if they do they are released from the cages they have been in for so long.

And I like the idea of the corrupting influence of using the things. But we need to stat them out. Are these already statted somewhere? Given they are a significant part of the history of Oerth I would imagine so. I would think they should pose some serious problems (summoning undead to kill the user, etc) other than just causing the user to turn evil (like the demonstone?). Most of the players in my group would happily turn evil if they could have something that powerful.

gmk

mak
Orc
(12/8/02 10:28:10 pm)
Reply
Re: The Binders
Hmm... Interesting idea!

I'd still make Node access and the Binder separate. Yes - the Prince may "step out" of the Binder if the Binder is brought into the correct Node, but the Node may be entered also without the Binder (otherwise all the four Binders would have been around 15 years ago when the Nodes were open in EE1 - too easy)

So the Cult "releases" the Prince to the Node once the Binder is found, but a ritual of some kind needs still to be performed to enable the Prince(s) to step out of the Nodes. This will probably require destroying the Binders.

They haven't done it yet for a variety of reasons:
  • they don't know what to do yet
  • they are missing a component
  • the ritual is so expensive they don't want to perform it before more Princes are available (i.e. they can only afford one shot)


I personally like the last option, since it will allow te Cult to start the ritual if they feel threatened...

As for the corrupting influence, I was thinking something along the lines of the tainted Saidin (Saidar?) in Wheel of Time: the unclean feeling, strange desires, creeping madness and so on.

MAK

Siobharek 
Orc
(12/9/02 1:30:18 am)
Reply
Re: The Binders
I really, REALLY like this idea. One question, though: In the Outer Fane Temple, the PCs can get the Orb of Oblivion, I think, but I can't remember. Anyway, they can get a skull.

Have you replaceed that with something else? I might replace it with some kind of prophecy or map of the whereabouts of the four Binders.

Again, stellar work - I'll use this!

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

gmk6135
Pie
(12/9/02 10:02:54 am)
Reply
Re: The Binders
> Have you replaceed [the Orb of Oblivion] with something
> else? I might replace it with some kind of prophecy or map
> of the whereabouts of the four Binders.

I imagine it could go either way. For minimum changes (and minimum work :) ) you could just say that both Orbs work as described in the module. The Imix binder is now in the fire node, having been found by the cult some months ago. The cult is still searching for the other binders. And Lareth is needed not to call Imix and the other princes but to perform the channeling of power ritual to free big T.

Or, if you like, you could replace the Orbs with the binders and a note/prophesy/insane treatise about them. Maybe the cult has found the Ogremoch binder as well and it's resting in the black cyst now, instead of one of the Orbs. Once they finish excavating the recovered temple they will be able to open the Earth node and bring the binder to it, thus releasing Ogremoch. Of course this opens up the possibility of one of the DDs or Hedarack using the earth binder against the heroes.....

If the cult does have the earth binder it becomes even more important to figure out what it does. Maybe it gives the user (some of?) the powers and special abilities of Ogremoch. That would be the easiest way to explain it, but it could be *very* powerful.

Either of these options maintain the urgency of the situation. Maybe they are going to try the channeling of power ritual with Imix as soon as they find Lareth and get him prepped. If it doesn't work they will try it with Imix and Ogremoch, and so on, until the ritual releases big T.

I might use both option 1 and 2 above in my game (which hasn't really started yet. I'm still prepping myself)

gmk - who's almost ready to perform the summon players ritual

mak
Orc
(12/9/02 11:02:57 pm)
Reply
Re: The Binders
> Have you replaced the Orb of Oblivion with something else?

Well, not yet. There are some issues I haven't cleared:

Should the orb(s) exist at all? Clearly their role is minimal now that the ritual no longer requires them

Or does it? A really one-shot ritual would be to destroy the orb with the power gems to drive the princes from the collapsing Nodes to the Orb...

It/they could have the orignal functionality of the Orb of Golden Death - i.e. just keeping the Nodes open. Thus the Cult just wants to keep one orb and the power gems around and away from their enemies. The cyst is an ideal place for that... I'd stick with only the Orb of Silvery Death which then becomes a "sister artifact" to the Goldskull of EE1.

On the other hand, keeping both orbs and binders might make the situation a bit too complicated and create an abundance of evil artifacts :)

Whew - this turned to be a list of pretty random ideas again. I'll have to forge this int something more coherent... Luckily the players aren't going to stumble into the cyst anytime soon.

MAK

mak
Here for a while
(1/9/03 1:13:48 am)
Reply
The Binders Detailed
History

At the very dawn of the Suel Empire, when humans first discovered the higher Keys of Power for magic the Emperor wished to conquer a small island nation of AnaKeri. A spectacular fleet was built and sent against the islanders. No match for such martial power, the AnaKeri resorted to help from the elemental forces they worshiped. The Elemental Princes of Evil called forth air and water to destroy the fleets, fire and earth to battle the landed troops. Hardly any Suel survived.

Appalled at such defeat, the Emperor turned to his archmages for plans of revenge. Led by an immensely gifted sorceress (who actually was Tiamat in disguise) the mages managed to capture the Elemental Princes one by one to the specially crafted prisons called Binders. Additional magic forced them to perform services to the users of the Binders.

Tiamat wrote a book detailing the (quite complex) use of the Binders and disappeared. The binders were lost for a thousand years. When they were found again, there were none who could remember what was the force powering the items...

Binders played an integral role in Suel history and were the principal instruments causing the Twin Cataclysms. In the tumults of the end of the Suel-Baklun war the Binders were lost again.

Ties to the Cult of Tharizdun

The Doomdreamers have known about and desperately seeked the Binders for about as long as the Cult has existed. Only recently they have met with some success. The Binder of Imix has been found in the Griff Mountains. Search for others is feverishly going on, and the Cult has obtained some clues on the location of Ogremoch's Binder. The documents telling about the serach and results gained so far can be found in the Black Cyst of the Outer Fane.

Ties to the Orbs

When Iuz and Tsuggtmoy created the Orb of Golden Death, the Cult secretly made another copy of the item: the Orb of Silvery Death. There was only one set of elemental power gems, however. When the Goldskull was destroyed, the power gems were shattered with it, leaving the Silverskull essentially powerless.

When the first Binder was found, the Cult noticed to their joy that the stone set in the Binder fit exactly to the socket in the Orb and allowed opening of the Fire Node in the recovered Temple of Elemental Evil.

Freeing the Princes

Taking the Binder to the correct Node allows the Prince to step out of the prison, but not out of the Node. To enable the Prince to step out of the Node, the Orb of Silvery Death must be shattered by the Champion of Elemental Evil with the (empty) Binder attached (using the same rules as for destroying the Orb, except that just a single Binder is sufficient). Needless to say, the Cult can do this only once and is reluctant to try before more Binders are found. If desperate, they will take the risk of trying to free Big T with less than all four Princes.

General functionality of the Binders

The Elemental Princes resent being tapped for power, so the user must force them to perform as he wishes. The greater the powers wished for, the harder it becomes to get them out of the binder. The exact process of accomplishing this is by no means clear to the prospective user, and is only described in the book written by Tiamat for just this purpose. In game terms the tapping of power is a standard action and requires a Will saving throw:
 
DC Power level  Spell level
10 very low     1st
15 low          3rd
20 medium       5th
25 high         7th
30 very high    9th

If the save succeeds, the desired power is drawn forth from the Binder. In any case (whether the save succeeds or not) at least some evilly tainted power surges through the user, creating an unclean sensation. The user must immediately make a second Will save with the same DC as the power level attempted. If the second save fails, the user suffers some consequences. Roll 1d6:
 
1d10  Consequence
1-2   Alignment switched one step towards evil (roll again if already evil)
3-4   Alignment switched one step towards chaos (roll again if already chaotic)
5-6   Gain 1 Int/Wis/Cha in regard of bonus spells and save DC's, 
      lose 1 point in all other regards (if non-spellcaster, lose Wis)

The ability score modification manifests itself as slowly advancing madness. It is permanent and can be cured only by wish or miracle. If a score reaches zero, the character becomes comatose and dies within 1d6 hours.

The caster level of the powers is 20. Note that the caster level of an individual Prince is only 15, but the Binder draws more power from the prisoner than it could itself control.

The powers may normally be called forth once per day. Any further uses cumulatively increase the DC by 2 (+2 the second time, +4 the third, +6 the fourth etc).

The Binder of Fire

An ornate golden ring set with an angularly cut ruby, flickering with an inner flame. Drawing power creates a hot feeling and leaves an aftertaste of acrid smoke.
 
Power level  Powers
very low     burning hands, resist elements (fire)
low          flame arrow, pyrotechnics
medium       fire shield, wall of fire
high         fire storm, limited wish
very high    elemental swarm (fire), wish

The Binder of Earth

A simple, heavy bronze ring set with an uncut shard of obsidian. Drawing power creates a feeling of pressure and leaves a lingering headache.
 
Power level  Powers
very low     Melf's acid arrow, resist elements (acid)
low          meld into stone, stone shape 
medium       transmute mud to rock, wall of stone
high         earthquake, limited wish
very high    elemental swarm (earth), wish

The Binder of Air

A light silver ring formed of interlinked circles set with a clear, smooth round diamond. Drawing power creates a tingling sensation and leaves one slightly dizzy.
 
Power level  Powers
very low     feather fall, resist elements (electricity)
low          gaseous form, wind wall
medium       air walk, chain lightning
high         limited wish, whirlwind
very high    elemental swarm (air), wish

The Binder of Water

A wavy platinum ring of uneven thickness set with a deep green uncut emerald. Drawing power creates a feeling of being immersed in cold water and leaves an oily aftertaste.
 
Power level  Powers
very low     obscuring mist, resist elements (cold)
low          water breathing, water walk
medium       cone of cold, wall of ice
high         horrid wilting, limited wish
very high    elemental swarm (water), wish

ZansForCans 
Here for a while
(1/9/03 9:37:47 am)
Reply
Re: The Binders Detailed
A cheer rises from the crowd and the chant begins: B. o. B.! BOB! BOB!

:)

I do have a few comments and questions first.

Perhaps the best reason I like your idea is that as written, having this random demon in the fire node just happen to have all three of the remaining gems is, well, frankly, just plain silly. The guy doesn't even have a name and doesn't have any mentioned link to the whole affair. He's just sitting there waiting for them to come to him. For some reason. Anyway... this background makes things more juicy, IMHO. Thanks for fleshing it out!

Now, what to do with him? Well, maybe he was instrumental in helping them find the fire binder in the first place. Thinking of gaining great power for himself, he aided them, but after Imix was released, he became second fiddle (and thus the resentment).

I'm not sure I like the idea of including the wishes in the powers since it allows one to 'heal' themselves of the insanity with the object itself. Yes, it probably won't even come into play for the characters (at least in RTEE), but you went through all that effort :)

The big question(s) for me is where is the fire binder and orb now (there's only the OoSD now right?)? Although powerless, it is of huge importance to the cult to finish this work. Does Lareth have it or wear it? Or, is it required to be in the OoSD continuously to keep the node running/open (can't remember off the top of my head from ToEE if the gems were). Are they both with Maliskra similar too the original? Or stored safely elsewhere or carried by someone else?



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mak
Here for a while
(1/9/03 10:47:41 pm)
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Revised Final Battle
OK, I admit I hadn't thought the case far enough from the viewpoint of the Final Battle (forgot about destruction of Orb of Oblivion...) Let's say:

  • once the Node has been opened with the Binder & Orb, it stays open
  • the Prince cannot leave the Node unless the correct Binder is inserted into the Orb
  • to free Big T, all Princes present must touch the Orb, which must have the corresponding Binders inserted
  • the entire artifact-cluster will shatter against the Prison Door, becoming utterly destroyed (and sealing the Nodes shut)
  • OoSD is with Maliskra
  • BoF is worn by Lareth

msherman
Here for a while
(1/10/03 6:34:10 am)
Reply
Re: Revised Final Battle
Quote:
once the Node has been opened with the Binder & Orb, it stays open
the Prince cannot leave the Node unless the correct Binder is inserted into the Orb


I liked the idea of the binder releasing the prince into the node, but he is still imprisoned in the node. Perhaps releasing the princes from the node can only be done by the Champion, which is why Lareth is so vital -- when the node is opened by a normal person, the Prince is only released to the node temporarily, and when the binder is removed from the Orb, the node closes and the Prince is returned to the binder. The Champion is the only one who can break the binding, releasing the princes from the nodes. When this happens, the gem breaks off the binder ring, and fuses into the orb itself.

Quote:
the entire artifact-cluster will shatter against the Prison Door, becoming utterly destroyed (and sealing the Nodes shut)


Actually, it scatters the artifacts to the four corners of the Prime Material Plane, re-binding the princes and sealing the nodes, setting us up for another try. The resource used up by the attempt is the Champion, who is killed beyond all hope of resurrection. If the attempt fails, the cult must find the artifacts again, and wait for another Champion to be born and discovered.

Quote:
OoSD is with Maliskra
BoF is worn by Lareth


So there's no Orb in the Cyst? Perhaps the Orb is in the Cyst as long as the Champion's items are there, as well, and they are retrieved at the same time when Lareth is discovered as the Champion, and until that point, the First wears the Fire Binder and will use a Wish from it if the party steals the Orb from the Cyst; if he does, the insanity effect from the binder's will save stacks with his regular Insanity score, of course. At this point, the Node has been opened by the cult, and Imix consulted with, but until Lareth is found and brought to the temple, he cannot be freed.

Even once Lareth is found, the cult doesn't release Imix immediately. Imix is brash and impatient, and not likely to sit around playing solitaire in the temple basement waiting for the other three nodes to open, especially considering how Tharizdun would reward him if he alone had freed his dark lord, so the cult is wary of freeing him from his prison until the other three node gates are excavated. However, once it becomes clear that the party is going to ruin everything, they push forward the timetable, and bring Lareth to the Recovered Temple to attempt the ritual with just Imix. Even then, Lareth isn't wearing the Fire Binder, but rather just holding it -- he's wearing the Rings of Force Armor. He knows that the fire binder loses it's powers once it's in the orb, so he isn't going to give up the force armor.

Another twist -- if you want to integrate the free adventure "Thicker Than Water" from the WotC website, then the Third is one of the six decendants of Charad participating in the ritual at Mount Malison, and what the Third knows but no-one else does is that the Nightwing is the guardian of the Air Binder, and defeating it will release the binder. If the Third ends up with the binder, the cult will immediately begin excavation of the Air gate.

mak
Here for a while
(1/13/03 10:02:20 pm)
Reply
Why the Cult won't use the binders...
Well...

I always had the idea that the cult wouldn't use the Binders. There are several reasons:
  • It would be against their religious beliefs to try to boss the Princes around (or at least they are afraid of possible revenge once the Princes are freed)
  • They don't have Tiamat's book and thus don't know what powers the Binders have nor how to activate them
  • It is hard for them: insanity plays havoc on the Will saves of the powerful cultists - AND the save goes down after each two failed attempts...

A better idea would be that the PCs somehow learn of the powers of the Binders and are constantly afraid of the cultists using them as weapons.

MAK

Siobharek 
Still here? Wow.
(1/13/03 11:56:17 pm)
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Re: Why the Cult won't use the binders...
I will try to edit this and enter it into the BoB. There never was much doubt about that. It looks like most questions have been covered by now.

As for editing, I think I'll try and make it one, coherent whole. Mak, I'd appreciate it if you got in touch with me at (anti-spam) s.thustrup(at)tiscali.dk. That way, I'll be able to send you the edited text before actually posting it.

Oh, and one other thing: How do you make those columns?

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Edited by: Siobharek  at: 1/14/03 12:02:21 am
msherman
Here for a while
(1/14/03 7:15:55 am)
Reply
Re: Why the Cult won't use the binders...
Quote:
I always had the idea that the cult wouldn't use the Binders. There are several reasons: [snip 3 good reasons]

Yup, those are good reasons why the cult wouldn't use the Binders. So how would the cult react if the party stole the Orb from the Cyst? It seems to me that the cult would direct pretty much everything they have towards getting the orb back -- it's now the only one (we've eliminated the Orb of Oblivion with this change, right?), and without it, they can't enter the nodes or free the Princes or Tharizdun.

I guess that if that happens, it would be the thing that draws the doomdreamers out to the Outer Fane for the first time to confront the party. That does beg the question, though, with the entire force of the inner and outer fanes directed at the party all at once, how can a DM possibly avoid a TPK? It just seems safer to let the First risk using a Wish for that one purpose -- besides... he's got Wisdom to burn... :)

Siobharek 
Still here? Wow.
(1/14/03 8:08:05 am)
Reply
Re: Why the Cult won't use the binders...
I think that IMC the Doomdreamers will have found Lareth and the Binder of Fire by the time the PCs get to the Cyst. But maybe that's just me. Also, unless the party is insanely brave and/or inquisitive, the only way they will find the Black Cyst is by Varachan telling them about it. So he might just as well tell the group about a scarred man called Lareth who was praised as the Champion in a ceremony and that they left shortly after bearing various artifacts.

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

TrinityDM
Here for a while
(1/15/03 6:08:58 am)
Reply
The Binders, Tharizdun, and the Twin Cataclysms
I must say, this is one of the best ideas I've come across on this board. Reading up on the history of the Binders, along with Maldin's account of the Twin Cataclysms, gave me a very nasty idea.

There are various notes in Greyhawk canon that the Binders were somehow involved in the Twin Cataclysms. What if the Suel had the equivalent of an Orb and one Binder that they used to try and release Tharizdun? The use of the orb began the Invoked Devastation: a merging of the Prime and the Far Realm, centered on the Bakluni Empire. The area of this merging began to grow and spread, and (unknown to the Suel) would have continued to grow and cover the entire Oerth had the Bakluni not used other Binders to call down the Rain of Colorless Fire, which destroyed the Orb (and scattered but did not destroy the Binders) before the ritual was complete. This sealed the rift to the Far Realm, which meant that Tharizdun and the princes were still imprisoned.

IMC I'm toying with the idea of taking this one outrageous step further. My campaign involves the finding by the Doomdreamers of an ancient artifact called the Stone of Years, which imparts to its wearer all the knowledge of its previous wearers. This artifact was at one time worn by someone of the Suel who was instrumental in creating the Invoked Devastation. Thus the DD's have used it to learn that freeing Tharizdun requires the use of the Binders. However, when Lareth (and only Lareth, who turns out to be a direct descendant of the original Suel) dons it, he learns the exact method of freeing Tharizdun. This has all been foretold in the prophecies surrounding the Champion of Elemental Evil.

If the PC's stop the ritual, Lareth, using the knowledge gained from the Stone of Years, will take whatever Binders have been recovered and somehow open a portal in space and time, back to shortly before the Twin Cataclysms. There he will hope that the additional Binder(s) he brings will provide the Suel a greater chance of success in releasing Tharizdun before the Bakluni can call the Rain of Colorless Fire. The portal he opens will remain open long enough for the PC's to follow... where they will be deposited near the Bakluni empire. There they will learn that the Bakluni have no idea of the coming apocalypse, and that only by actually assisting the Bakluni in bringing the Rain of Colorless Fire can they stop the Invoked Devastation (and Tharizdun's release) from spreading to annihilate the entire Oerth (rather than just half a continent). Should be the ultimate moral dilemma for the PC's: do you willingly assist in an act that you know will destroy millions in order to stop something that you know will consume the entire world?

The kicker here is that neither the Suel nor the Bakluni were planning for the acts leading up to the Twin Cataclysms... it is actually the intervention of Lareth (and hopefully the PC's) that unleash the most destructive forces in Oerth's history to annihilate half a continent. The PC's won't be able to stop the Cataclysms from happening, but may be instrumental in somehow stopping Lareth from changing history.

Siobharek 
Still here? Wow.
(1/15/03 6:18:30 am)
Reply
Re: The Binders, Tharizdun, and the Twin Cataclysms
For Greyhawk DMs that idea is amazing. And for me, it's unique. My previous campaign (stopped because of 3e) centered around an artifact lost in connection with the Twin Cataclysms. Thanks, Trinity. Good one.

Oh, BTW, I've added Mak's ideas so far to the BoB. If and when other suggestions are to be included, it'll be easy to edit in.

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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