One-Way Portals in Amn
By Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel
Based in Athkatla and disguised as a gold dwarf jeweler, Panma, a rakshasa, operates an international spy ring -- the Ears. Every major metropolis in Faerûn has a seemly-innocent storefront that covers up a deadly spy network. The cover may be a tailor's, jeweler's, or some other elite craft catering to a well-to-do and powerful clientèle.
Each of these branch offices has a two-way portal to a long-abandoned elven council chamber in the forests of Cormanthor. For her own protection, Panma, has only a one-way portal to the meeting place. She usually teleports home.
The members of the Ears meet on every new moon to share information they've gathered and to piece together international plots and events. The spy ring uses rogues and multiclass rogues of various races and abilities, but they all are masters of disguise and deception and at least 10th level. If members need to contact Panma, they arrange for a coded message to be passed via a sending spell. None of the members know that Panma is a rakshasa, although many know she is not the gold dwarf she seems to be.
Panma uses the intelligence gathered by her group for profit. Sometimes it blackmails a victim; sometimes the information is given in trade or to secure favors.
Panma: hp 52; (see Rakshasa).
Sample Branch of the Ear
All of the wealthy and powerful in Athkatla go to Pharsun's for their court finery. Only the wealthiest of the middle-class merchants can afford to patronize the tailor for special items of apparel.
The shop is located on Cloth Street and resembles a fine home. The rooms are spacious, with items of clothing or swaths of cloth tastefully laid out as samples. Nothing is purchased off the rack. All clothing is custom-made. Clients' measurements and preferences are kept on file. Each item created for a client is unique. Well, unique except for one copy kept hidden in storage in the event that Pharsun or another member of the Ear ever needs to impersonate the client.
Selecting clothing styles, approving designs, and getting fitted are all very time-consuming tasks. Often during a fitting, a client will have a friend along and chat freely about the events of the day or upcoming happenings. The tailor largely goes unnoticed. This information is carefully recorded after the client leaves.
The two-way portal to the meeting place is located behind a secret door in the backroom.
Pharsun: Male half-elf Rog12; CR 12; Medium-size humanoid (elf); HD 12d6-12; hp 32; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (touch 12, flat-footed 14); Atk +10/+5 melee (1d4+1/19-20, +1 dagger); SA Sneak attack +6d6; SQ Evasion, half-elf traits, slippery mind, traps, uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC, can't be flanked, +1 against traps); AL N; SV Fort +3, Ref +10, Will +5; Str 10, Dex 15, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 17.
Skills and Feats: Appraise +16, Bluff +16, Decipher Script +15, Diplomacy +22, Escape Artist +8, Innuendo +8, Intimidate +5, Listen +4, Move Silently +12, Profession (tailor) +16, Read Lips +17, Search +18, Sense Motive +16, Spot +19, Use Magic Device +18; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Leadership, Quick Draw.
Evasion (Ex): If exposed to any effect that normally allows a character to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, Pharsun takes no damage with a successful saving throw.
Half-Elf Traits: Pharsun is immune to magic sleep spells and effects and has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells or effects. He has low-light vision (can see twice as far as a human in low-light conditions) and a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks (already figured into the statistics given above).
Slippery Mind (Ex): If Pharsun is affected by an enchantment and fails his saving throw, 1 round later he can attempt his saving throw again. He gets this extra chance to succeed only once.
Possessions: Bracers of armor (+2), +1 dagger, vest of escape, boots of elvenkind, chime of opening (5 charges), cloak of Charisma (+4), potion of hiding, potion of cure light wounds, 200 gp.
How to Incorporate the Ear Portal Into Your Campaign
- The PCs might have reason to visit one of the Ear's shops on their own. What news do they relate there that comes back to haunt them?
- Perhaps the PCs get on the wrong side of Pharsun or Panma. What do they do about this?
- The PCs may have a rogue in the party who is prime material for recruitment. What does the rogue do? What happens if the rogue refuses?