Portals of Lantan
By Jeff Quick
Lamstrand Family Portal
Tilnacci Lamstrand has been attempting to create a mechanically based portal in her seaside home-workshop for years. To facilitate her studies, she has had a portal constructed in her workshop. The portal has no key and no special quirks. Tilnacci just wanted something simple and stable to study. The portal is a small two-way affair of about 5 feet by 5 feet in dimension. One side is in Tilnacci's workshop. The other is in her step-brother's warehouse in a predominantly gnome town in the Western Heartlands.
In exchange for using his warehouse as a safe connection point, her step-brother, Ressenalk, the family patriarch, wanted free access to the portal for business purposes. Over time, the easy access of this new portal introduced relatives who had never met before. Though the portal's original intent had been scientific and commercial, a happy side effect was a new closeness among the scattered Lamstrands. Over the weeks and months, life has become an ongoing family reunion.
Tilnacci and her husband have had a large guest room added to their house, and several relatives have come over by boat to stay "indefinitely" so that they could mask the portal's presence (the portal is not technically a secret, but the Lamstrands would rather not everyone know about it). This makes the Lamstrand family a bustling household, with many family members coming and going at all hours. Tilnacci has more trouble doing research with so much traffic through the workshop, but the joy of a newfound family more than makes up for the inconvenience.
Experimentation on the mechanical portal has fallen by the wayside since Tilnacci and her husband have begun to spend more time as hosts than inventors. Tilnacci still tinkers with it occasionally, and she believes her theories are sound, but she doesn't have as much time to work on it as she would like.
The Bereft Familiar
Meanwhile, the human wizard whom Tilnacci hired to construct the portal, Klazakstrata, was killed in the collapse of a building while leaving the port of Sundrah. The wizard's cat familiar, Silky, was presumed dead or lost in the uproar. Silky was not killed, but she was grief-stricken by the loss of her master. She blamed Tilnacci for bringing her master to the loud, oily, smoky island and causing her loss. She plotted revenge.
Silky waited a few weeks to be forgotten, and then she began hanging around the house like a stray. She was taken in quickly and with little fuss. The house already had several pets, and the new Lamstrand lifestyle was given to welcoming wanderers.
After waiting a few more weeks to become accepted and acclimated into the household, Silky struck. Like a feline ethereal filcher, Silky began stealing small objects from around the house. Sometimes she spirited them away and tossed them into the ocean. Other times she saved them for later in a crawl space under the house or used them in schemes. Stolen items are usually chalked up to absentmindedness by the victims, although she has fostered quarrels and rivalries within the household by stealing precious items from one person and planting them in someone else's drawer or pouch.
Silky is no master planner, and she doesn't really have anything in mind to rain destruction down on the Tilnacci family. On the other hand, she's growing tired of being a petty nuisance. She has recently begun looking for opportunities to do more damage. She thinks the increasing number of people using the portal will give her a great opportunity. One of these people must have something she can steal or turn to her own ends to exact revenge on the Lamstrand clan.
How to Incorporate the Lamstrand Family Portal Into Your Champaign
If you wish to add the Lamstrands and their current familiar problem into your campaign, here's a suggestion: Player characters might rescue someone in the Lamstrand family. If they do, they will almost certainly be invited to over to "the house" for dinner. The fact that the house is on an island hundreds of miles away from the rescue seems almost incidental to the affable Lamstrands.