A Tour of the Planes

Content Preview - Return to the Sword Coast
The sea is the only high road for a gentleman

Beregost has never looked as comforting as it has upon your return. Having been abroad for far too long, you are surprised to find that Faerun has changed little: no massive rifts in the planar continuum, no marauding bands of Void Reavers destroying everything in their path. For once, everything is normal, or as normal as the Sword Coast can be. Sure, bandits pop up every so often (though not nearly as dangerous as the Black Talon, thank Helm), and yes, someone might be trying to kill you, but that’s not new. If anything, you could use a vacation. Maybe a nice sea voyage…

Drink Up, Me Hearties, Yo Ho!

For decades, the sea trade between Baldur’s Gate, Athkatla, and points south has been a profitable, if not extremely dangerous, undertaking. Some crusty old salts say that the best way of getting from one place to another is with a deck under your feet and wind in your sails, and in this modern age, they aren’t far off. New discoveries in nautical engineering have made seafaring vessels sturdier and faster, and the average sailor is a highly skilled professional, especially when compared to his forebears of even twenty years ago. Further, the local sahuagin clans have all moved on, looking for easier pickings far to the south. Really, the only danger plaguing the sea lanes would be pirates, and those aren’t that dangerous anymore.

Well, not exactly. The pirate crews of old have taken a more capitalistic approach to their trades, instead offering their services for convoy duties. As knowledgeable of the seas and currents as Umberlee herself (though they’d never say so aloud), these “merchant marines” can be of inestimable assistance navigating treacherous reaches of the Sea of Swords and dealing with the occasional goblinoid raid. However, many of these crews are unscrupulous in the best of times, and are as likely to allow their charges to fall into harm’s way as defend them, and in both cases will probably make a fair profit from seized cargo and other salvage.

Still, there is nothing like a bracing breath of sea air to revitalize and invigorate a man. Unless that man is attacked by the Dread Pirate Tolmek and his crew of bloodthirsty cutthroats. In that case, well.

New Instance – Reston’s Quay

It is said that, in the days of high adventure when the seas were the last great frontier, Marcus Reston was a pirate’s pirate: a skilled navigator, sharp-eyed cannoneer, and peerless swordsman. A true leader of men, Reston led a pirate armada of nearly fifty ships and held the admiration and respect of every man-jack in his command. Ship’s scuttlebutt said that Reston was a commander in the Athkatlan Navy, until he was ordered to destroy innocent merchant ships to “prove a point to those damn Northerners”, at which point he promptly mutinied, escaped pursuit from the rest of the Athkatlan Navy, and began a legendary career as a buccaneer.

Stories tell also of Reston’s home base, a secluded island deep within the Sea of Swords called Reston’s Quay. The Quay is surrounded by dense seaweed and long stretches of dead water, making navigation through it impossible to all but the most skilled of navigators and sailors or to those who know the safe lanes through to the island. Many believe that, by now, the Quay must also be surrounded by a ship’s graveyard of great size. Even so, Reston’s Quay remains missing on nautical charts and maps, and whatever riches reside there must wait for those intrepid enough to seek them out.

Content Preview - A Terrible Night to Have a Curse
After 100 years of rest, an old evil hungers...

For once, you find yourself in somewhat familiar surroundings, with evergreen forests, well-traveled roads, and no sign of robots, dragon-men, or vicious beings from another realm. However, the scene isn’t as idyllic as one would hope: there’s a snap in the air that draws the heat from your body, there are flickers of movement at the corners of your vision, and as the sun sets, an overpowering sense of terror washes over the land.

Welcome to Barovia

Set in the heart of the Balinok Mountains, the realm of Barovia is a heavily forested realm, much like the Sword Coast of Faerun. It is a cold land, and its people are hardy and hard-working. Life here is relatively peaceful, and most would say the biggest threats in the land are the wolf packs that roam the thick forests that surround the town of Barovia and the occasional bandit party that harasses the merchant traffic between various villages.

They also say that, if you’d asked the same question to their ancestors, they would merely have pointed to the castle on the hill.

Visible from nearly every point of interest in the land, the ancient castle looms over Barovia as a chess master over his board and pieces. In hushed tones, the villagers speak of Lord Strahd Von Zarovich, ruler of Barovia, and his undead minions. For almost one hundred years, Strahd has been content to stay in his castle, his edicts delivered by coach to the villages and Vistani camps, and the stories of his horrific cruelty have begun to fade into memory and myth. None wish to court his wrath by entering the castle, nor do they dare disturb his isolation, for fear of a return to the old days, when anyone could be an agent of his will, and the doors and windows barricaded against his wrath.

Unbeknownst to them all, the Lord of Barovia stirs, and an ancient evil stirs with him.

New Instance – Castle Ravenloft

The ancestral seat of the Von Zarovich, Castle Ravenloft lords over the Barovian countryside as a permanent reminder of who rules. A gothic nightmare of stone and steel, the castle has stood for countless generations, many of them in the tyrannical grip of Lord Strahd. None dare approach the castle, for fear of drawing Strahd’s attention both to themselves and to the land he rules.

A message has been sent to the burgomasters and camp-masters of the land with an odd request: a group of adventurers will arrive soon, and they should be directed to the town of Barovia, where the burgomaster will give them a special letter and conduct them to the castle proper. The words are written in Strahd’s hand sure enough, but the tone is grossly out of character, more a polite request than an edict disregarded at one’s own peril. The people of Barovia are on edge and want answers, but they can only be found somewhere in Strahd’s personal domain: Castle Ravenloft.

New Feature – Paragon Paths

With the max level cap being increased to 20, the need for additional character refinement brought about the introduction of Paragon Paths, an exciting new feature debuting with the Doors To Infinity expansion. Upon reaching level 11, a character may select a paragon path to further develop their character’s role and abilities. Paragon paths are often (though not always) class-specific, and some have additional prerequisites; other paragon paths are restricted to members of a certain race or are associated with a nation or faction on a given plane. A given path grants new benefits and abilities along a common theme, and generally draw out a particular facet of the character’s class. For example: a fighter may select a paragon path that improves their resilience in combat, improving their defenses and increasing the amount of damage they can take. Conversely, another path may improve a fighter’s abilities with two-handed weapons, granting them better damage, more accurate attacks, or even the ability to strike multiple opponents at once.

With over 400 individual paths to choose from, every character can find something that appeals to them and that can help make their character stand out.

Server Maintenance: Patch 1.7.1
Encounter Adjustments and Resource Updates

We will be performing extended maintenance this week to apply patch 1.7.1, which includes a number of content hotfixes in preparation for the release of the much-awaited expansion to Tour of the Planes, Doors to Infinity. We will also be performing a hardware refresh during maintenance, and, as a result, the game servers will not be available until the maintenance period is over.

Patch Notes: 1.7.1

- Adjusted the open quest “Break the Crusade”, including the Grand Templar Klytus encounter, to be more appropriate for level 7-8 characters. This will amount to a significant increase in difficulty, and the loot tables for these encounters have been revamped to reflect this.

- Added new quick travel links between Wolf’s Paw and Passage, making travel easier if not necessarily faster.

- Added in-game resources for Thane’s Domain and the Mournland, paragon-tier adventure areas. These areas are works in progress and will be available in a future content release.

- Added the Planar Keyring. This strange item allows users to store an unlimited number of keys in a single inventory slot. Players may receive this item at the conclusion of the Wolfwood story arc from a specific quest NPC.

- Added a number of new quests in various areas in preparation for the Doors to Infinity expansion.

Memory Stone 100620
In which our heroes go to church.

We look to each other, expecting something more, but nothing happens. So instead we head north towards the ruined chapel. It is infested with undead, as we were told it would be. Nothing we haven’t dealt with before though. We cut and burn our way through passages of zombies and traps until we reach a balcony from which Nagash stands, overlooking the lands before him.

Memory Stone 100613
In which our heroes fail the Travelling Salesman Problem.

We enter the Webwood. Perhaps we are distracted by the unnatural darkness, but we are no longer walking on the ground, but on a series of webbing suspended in the trees. As we pause to consider our next move, we are ambushed by a number of spiders. Fortunately, these are the time we need to harvest venom sacs from. They do not pose much of a threat, compared to what else stands against us.

Rather than press on towards the abandoned chapel, we once again return to the shifter camp. We tarry for too long, allowing another day to slip by. I search for Pieter, looking to continue our conversation from before, but he cannot be found. So instead we turn to our rapidly dwindling list of chores and head off to make contact with the last of the missing septs, the Ragenails. On our way there we encounter a ring of standing stones. There is something peculiar about them, but for now they are just another distraction.

We arrive at the camp to find it on fire. These flames are unnatural, colored blue and lasting much longer than they should. We find no survivors, just the body of a Silver Flamist, his holy symbol ripped apart. However, there also is a set of tracks leading away from the destruction. We follow, and it takes us back to the stones. There is a… I do not know. It’s more complex than a golem, and more elegant than a warforged. It has a body of a man, only it is formed of some silvery metal, and the lean head of a jackal. It regards us coldly, as if we are barely worth its notice. “The time of nightmares is at hand,” it says, before creating a portal and stepping through it.

Memory Stone 100530
In which it snows.

The sky is still dark. Having completed what we came for, we return to the werekin. They too are surprised by the sun’s disappearance. I briefly wonder if the effect is localized or spread across all of Cyre, but there’s no time for that. We need to report to our allies.

We are rewarded for defeating the undead, and that is our best interaction with the shifters. Their apothecary tells us that in addition to the specimens we’ve already collected, he needs a number of venom sacs from the local spiders. This causes some consternation in Ryltar. Apparently spiders are sacred, and he is not allowed to kill them. Inconvenient, but hardly the most illogical idea to come from religion. Except he is able to circumvent this restriction by atoning ahead of time. Once again I find myself swayed by the beliefs of the Athar. I don’t have time for philosophy now; I need to talk to Pieter.

He does not seem to be comfortable speaking with me without his sister standing over us. I ask him directly if he can actually do what he’s promised for us. He doesn’t say “yes”. Instead he attempts to deflect our attention by giving us another chore: reducing the numbers of the Silver Flame. Clearly Pieter is more like his father than I had thought. I’ll need to step carefully.

We find the Rageclaws fortifying their position as if they were preparing for a siege. They want nothing to do with us or the other shifters. As we are turned away, we notice a barded horse with the Silver Flame insignia within their walls. Perhaps there is a traitor. I wonder if my companions will comfort and nourish this one as well.

The majority of our tasks take us to the north. We stop to rest, and when we awake it is snowing. Peculiar, but we are told it is not unheard of in this region. We press on, and run into some Flamists. Once again, Charles’s attempts at diplomacy yield no results. They believe we are heretics. As if I would sully myself with even a variant of their beliefs. As usual, a fight ensues, and I demonstrate the power of a mind unburdened by faith.

Memory Stone 100523
In which not a lot happens.

We see the necromancer Nagash, surrounded by half a dozen of his Darkfang cohorts. Charles offers to help him fight the Voidfangs, but the battle is inevitable. Nagash unleashes curse after curse, but we cut through his minions nonetheless. Outnumbered and alone, the necromancer teleports away.

Memory Stone 100516
In which something fairly interesting happens which Mazikeen wasn't present for.

Not long after we enter the swamp we are set upon by the walking dead, but they are put down with little difficulty. We continue following the tracks, and they lead us to a ruined fort. Ruined, but inhabited by werekin. Darkfangs, only now they call themselves Voidfangs. Apparently they were very receptive to what Shade had to say. And apparently she didn’t warn them about us. They are very forthcoming with information, even telling us where Shade has gone. However, even if they are telling the truth, we cannot just leave them here. All who follow the Reavers must be killed, and their works put to the flame. We ask to enter, they tell us we have to wait a few days before they’ll let us in. We start considering an earlier entrance when suddenly they erect a field similar to that which covered the Gatehouse. If we are to stop them, and we will, we must wait for the shield to lower. So we camp for the night.

I awake. It is morning. But it is still dark. Too dark. The sun should have risen by now. My initial thought is that the shield has extended over us, but when we return to the fort we find the dome still in place. As we scout around, we notice that there is a large amount of undead present. They don’t attack us, and we manage to convince Grumnil to do the same. There is a larger concentration of them nearby. We approach, and see some more werekin performing a ritual while surrounded by zombie guards. Yan does an excellent job of disabling the undead, allowing us to defeat them at little risk to ourselves. Useful, since now we must face the necromancers.

Memory Stone 100509
In which our heroes begin grinding rep.

We manage to reach the town of Wolf’s Paw without further incident. Once again, we disperse in search of information. Upon our reunion it is determine that we shall head south to a congregation of werekin, as that is where Shade went. Charles splits off from us for some meaningless errand. Foolish, but he won’t be stopped.

Our introduction to the werekin is not particularly dignified. I discover that we are not as unified in purpose as I had thought. Audra wants to help the werekin, while Ryltar is merely investigating some bandits. Luckily, the leader turns out to be Audra’s brother, Pieter. Audra is able to perform some damage control by dismissing Grumnil as a fool and me as militant. “Militant” she said, disapproval in her voice. I don’t understand. Is it wrong that, unlike the others, I take our responsibilities seriously? No. I’m keeping proper perspective; they’re the ones who err. I decide to try and correct them, when I get the opportunity.

Pieter explains that while he can’t help us find Shade, he knows who can. However, we will need to gain their trust before they will tell us anything. Trust that can be gained, apparently, by performing a number of menial tasks. We talk to the chieftains to find out what must be done. Audra comes with me to make sure I don’t “cause an incident”. She needn’t have worried. The chieftain ignores me completely and only talks to her. No matter. We have our chores.

We move to the east, hunting boars and searching for herbs as we go. Ryltar proves that his skills of tracking are not limited to the Underdark, which is a blessing. These are not talents one picks up living in Sigil. We come to the holdings of one of the clans. No shifters, only boars. And Charles. The trail leads north, into a swamp.

Memory Stone 100502
In which Grumnil discovers the joys of bludgeoning.

During a conversation Charles starts I discover that several of the others also have trepidation regarding our inability to do anything but react to the Reavers. We have very little information besides that which has been given to us by our enemies. It is a little frustrating, but it also allows me to focus completely on the one lead I do have. Most of the others are similarly focused.

We are attacked by bandits again. Grumnil displays a surprising aptitude for melee combat. He charges into the midst of our ambushers and lays about with his hammer, leaving shattered limbs and pulped heads in his wake. The rest of us deal with those who skirted around the sides. Before long they all lie broken, and we continue on our way. We come across a ruined caravan. It is too much to hope that this was Shade’s, and that she lies among the fallen. We press on.

We enter a fairly large town and resupply. Charles and Grumnil learn something disturbing: the Church of the Silver Flame is about to perform a purge of the town of Wolf’s Paw. Apparently, all shifters will be killed. We set out in a hurry. I remind everyone that, while the end result may be the same, we are not running from the crusade; we are chasing Shade.


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