Portals of the Moonstars
By Dale Donovan
The Luskan Portal
While the members of the Moonstars have no official ties with the Harpers, the two groups nevertheless share many of the same goals. The foremost of these is uniting the races (especially humans and elves) to better combat the myriad forces of evil, chaos, and destruction that so plague Faerûn. That said, the Moonstars do not work to maintain particular governments or political bodies; they strive to support people of all races and life in general. Most admire the balance of civilization and nature achieved by elven society. Many Moonstars also embrace one of three religions: the worship of Mystra, Oghma, and Sehanine Moonbow of the Seldarine (the elven pantheon).
The Blackstaff's personal goals remain a mystery, as does so much about the mage. Despite feeling slighted by the Harpers after doing so much for the group and for Faerûn, he still believes in the goals of the group. This is why the Moonstars' organization and ideals so closely reflect those of the Harpers, with one notable exception. Despite the group's growth over the years since its founding, the Moonstars remain a much smaller group than the Harpers. This smaller size allows the Blackstaff to keep a hand in almost every decision made by a member of the group. In some cases, however, it's the lovely hand of Laeral who is playing a larger role in the day-to-day management of the organization as it, seemingly irresistibly, expands beyond the abilities of any one man, even the Blackstaff, to maintain a grasp on.
One such locale is Luskan, and that's why a Moonstars portal is there. While the High Captains of Luskan, five former pirates and freebooters, are the public faces of rule in the city, the residents and many visitors know that the true power in Luskan resides within the Host Tower of the Arcane, the home and headquarters of the Arcane Brotherhood, a group of evil and ambitious mages. What concerns the Moonstars is the recent upheavals within the ranks of the Brotherhood. The Archmage Arcane, Arklem Greeth (LE male lich Wiz16/Archmage2), barely escaped with his life after an attempted coup by two of his former lieutenants. While convalescing in Mirabar, Arklem was approached by Nyphithys, an erinyes (see page 54 of the revised Monster Manual). She promised him immortality as a lich and aid in his vengeance against the would-be assassins and, in exchange, all she said she wanted was to help Arklem and the Arcane Brotherhood conquer the entire North. Arklem has set his sights first on the new confederation known as the Silver Marches; he feels that its youth and untested resolve in the face of true danger will prove to be its undoing. If the Silver Marches should fall, then the rest of the North would lie wide open for the taking.
The local Moonstars portal is located in an archway between the workroom and the storage room of a wheelwright's shop called Wiley's Wheels. The owner of the shop is a Moonstars agent the Luskan locals know as Maxxil (LG male dwarf Ftr 8). He's a semiretired adventurer who now lives here permanently and uses his business and other contacts to keep apprised of the situations regarding the Brotherhood and its new, fiendish allies. To preserve his nondescript appearance, Maxxil doesn't initiate official Moonstars activity in the city; he observes and reports. If the Blackstaff or Laeral believes a report warrants action, an agent or agents are sent through the portal.
The Moonstars hope to infiltrate the Host Tower with a wizard of its own, but the group currently lacks both a suitable candidate for this highly dangerous assignment and enough confirmed intelligence regarding the lich, the erinyes, and the other devils that have joined the cause and been seen within and around the Host Tower in the last few months.
How to Incorporate the Luskan Portal Into Your Champaign
- Maxxil's most recent report indicates that a very powerful devil, an ice devil or gelugon, has been seen around the Host Tower in recent weeks. The PCs are contacted to use the portal to reach Luskan, investigate why the gelugon is in Luskan, and, if necessary, draw the creature into battle and destroy it, making the fight look like nothing more than a wandering band of heroes who randomly encountered a powerful fiend and, not knowing the political situation, simply acted on instinct to eliminate the threat they believed the ice devil to represent.
- Maxxil has disappeared and the Moonstars fear that the Brotherhood may have uncovered the dwarf's deception; all research done indicates that the portal still functions. The PCs are asked to use the portal, learn anything they can from the shop, and try to locate and rescue Maxxil. If it's too late or the PCs fail in this, then the Moonstars step in to clean up the mess. Note that this mission works especially well if the PCs are not formally allied with the Moonstars; their arrival in Luskan will arouse less suspicion if the Brotherhood cannot locate any other Moonstars agents in town. Of course, the Moonstars know that the Brotherhood may have located the portal and are watching to see who emerges from it. DMs can prepare a suitable "welcoming committee" of Brotherhood mages, henchmen, and devils to greet the PCs if this possibility is to be exploited.
- The fiends betray the Brotherhood, severely damage the Host Tower, attack the mages therein, and begin to ravage the town and its residents for some unknown reason. Maxxil alerts the Moonstars before he takes up arms to defend his business and his fellow citizens. The Moonstars need to mobilize a battle-trained, highly capable band of adventurers to stem the fiendish tide until a suitable force of clerics, paladins, and other warriors can be sent through the portal. Of course, the heroes must see that the portal itself remains intact so that the reinforcements can arrive as soon as possible.