Portals in Ruins
By Robert Weise
The Farsea Marsh Portal
In the western part of Cormyr sits the Farsea Marsh and its sister, the Marsh of Tun. Each holds the ruins of a civilization that predates the elven kingdoms of the Realms. What happened to these two civilizations, or the one common civilization, no one knows. However, the ruins in the Farsea Marsh were later put to use by someone -- perhaps a wizard from Netheril. No one knows for sure, but someone placed a portal deep within the ruined structures.
The marsh is filled with pestilence and plague -- a remnant of whatever that lost civilization wrought. The sickness keeps adventurers out of the ruins, so nobody discovered the portal until very recently. Once someone learned the destination, the discovery generated a lot of excitement in Cormyr and among various other interests nearer by.
The portal is a two-way continuously active gate that leads to a ruined town on the eastern side of the Dragonsword Mountains in Mulhorand. The ruins are at the foothills on the northeastern side of the range, within a day or two's journey to the Road to the Dawn. The portal is set inside a doorway of average size and meshes with the architecture of the ruin so as to look like a doorway into a room within the structure. The portal in Mulhorand possesses an arch 10 feet high and 8 feet wide, standing amid partially standing buildings and scattered stone. No one remembers the name of the town in which this portal is located, and as of yet no one in Mulhorand knows that it has been discovered. If the people knew, they would probably be worried about conquest forays from Cormyr.
Cormyr claims control of the portal in the Farsea Marsh in the name of Azoun V, the infant king, but maintaining control of a site west of the Stormhorns is difficult given the current state of the nation. The best that Regent Alusair can do is maintain a presence, and this she has done in the person of Jingarnd Jolles, a Purple Dragon Knight of unimpeachable devotion to the crown. He commands a small force based outside the marsh, as close to the ruins as possible. Scouting patrols ride the marsh, but they watch for any sign of sickness carefully. No one has forgotten that men die just from riding through this swamp. To fully utilize the portal, some permanent solution to the marsh plague must be found.
Other interests also vie for control of the portal, including Zhentarim based in Darkhold, orcs and other warlike humanoids from the Stormhorns, a mutant race of lizardfolk living in the marsh that is somehow resistant to the pestilence, and disloyal or self-serving nobles within Cormyr. All of these threats keep Jolles and his knights busy.
Jingarnd Jolles: Male human Rog2/Ftr4/Prp4; CR 10; Medium-size humanoid; HD 2d6+2 plus 4d10+4 plus 4d10+4; hp 69; Init -1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 17 (touch 9, flat-footed 17); Atk +13/+8 melee (2d6+6/19-20, greatsword); or +8/+3 ranged (1d8/x3, composite longbow); SA Fear, sneak attack +1d6; SQ Heroic shield, inspire courage (2/day), oath of wrath, rallying cry; AL LN; SV Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 17, Dex 9, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 12. 5 feet 10 inches; 221 lbs.
Skills and Feats: Appraise +6, Climb +6, Decipher Script +6, Diplomacy +5, Handle Animal +5, Hide -2, Intimidate +6, Jump +1, Listen +4, Move Silently -2, Open Lock +4, Pick Pocket -2, Ride (horse) +10, Search +3, Spot +4, Swim +11; Cleave, Foe Hunter (goblinoids), Leadership, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Saddleback , Weapon Focus (greatsword), Weapon Specialization (greatsword).
Fear (Su): Jingarnd can evoke a fear effect (Will save DC 14) once per day. His allies are immune to the effect.
Heroic Shield: When using the aid another action, Jingarnd can give an ally a +4 circumstance bonus to AC instead of +2.
Inspire Courage (Su): This ability has the same effect as the bardic music ability of the same name. Each ally who can hear Jingarnd receives a +2 morale bonus on saves against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. The effect lasts for 5 rounds after the ally can no longer hear Jingarnd. While speaking, Jingarnd can fight but cannot activate magic items by spell completion or magic word.
Rallying Cry (Su): Jingarnd can utter a powerful shout that gives each ally a +1 morale bonus to his or her next attack and +5 ft. speed until Jingarnd's next turn. This mind-affecting ability is usable three times per day.
Oath of Wrath (Su): Once per day, Jingarnd can swear an oath to defeat a single opponent within 60 ft. For the duration of the encounter, Jingarnd receives a +2 morale bonus on melee attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saves, and skill checks used against this challenged foe. He must continue to attack challenged foe (attacks of opportunity against others do not count) or the effect is broken.
Jingarnd is one of those people who is very energetic in support of causes he believes in, but he is also careless. Thus, bad things happen to him because he does not plan ahead well. Usually these are not serious, or at least not critical, but they do make him look less competent than he wants to appear and cause his troops to chuckle from time to time.
Jingarnd was born and raised in Cormyr, and he fought alongside Azoun IV in the recent goblinoid wars. That is why Princess Alusair knows and trusts him with this duty. The difference is that he was not in command on the battlefield, and now he is, and command does not suit him as well as she thought it would. His family has lived in Cormyr practically since the founding of the nation, and they have always supported the monarchy. He followed the obvious course for a young man who did not wish to adventure but who sought excitement, and though he has seen his share of battle and more, he has not led a life that one would talk much about.
How to Incorporate the Farsea Marsh Portal Into Your Champaign
- The player characters are hired to escort a small shipment through the portal and to Mulhorand. The shipment is very troublesome, however, and causes them to get attacked frequently by people or creatures that want it. In Mulhorand, they find out just how dangerous their cargo is when a dragon lands and demands it of them. Who ends up with the package could affect whether the characters ever leave Mulhorand alive.
- Jolles needs additional help protecting the portal from orc bands while replacement knights come from Suzail. The PCs are in the area, and they help him defeat some orcs at the start of the adventure, so he enlists them for the time being. The characters discover the lizardfolk in the marsh and have to defend themselves. Then agents of the Zhentarim approach them and ask them to betray Jolles by helping them finish his troop off. Where will their loyalties lie?
- A priest of Ilmater is going to the Farsea Marsh to try to discover a cure for the pestilence, and she asks the characters to accompany her. She calls it a holy quest and tells them that their suffering on this quest will profit everyone. The group comes into contact with the lizardfolk and finds that they know how to suppress the plague and how to spread it. The lizardfolk have spread it to keep people out of the marsh, and thus they come into conflict with the characters' mission. However, they are not the evil that they appear, and they have some deeper reason for keeping people away from the portal.