Portals of the Triad
By John Terra
When the Triad created the portals, Tyr himself chose to devote his to the security of Cormyr's borders, particularly with regards to Sembia. Tyr chose, fittingly enough, to make one of the few border markers -- a large mossy stone that rise 12 feet high and has a peculiar circle cut out of it -- the portal.
The border stone is located directly between the Vast Swamp and the Way of the Manticore. The words "Cormyr" and "Sembia" are carved into the stone, with arrows pointing in the corresponding direction. Numerous bits of graffiti, such as that left by Sembian vandals expressing their pleasure at the death of Azoun and Cormyrean braves taunting Sembia's lack of organized military power, mar the surface.
The two-way portal leads to similar portals near Glister, the border of Cormanthor woods, and the banks of the River Chionthar. The portal operates at only three specific times per day: sunrise, highsun, and sunset. The Cormanthor portal is keyed to Torm, the Glister portal to Ilmater, and the Chionthar portal to Helm. To activate the Cormyr portal, the traveler must go through the stone marker at one of the three proper times while grasping a holy symbol of Tyr in his right hand and the correct holy symbol of the god who is keyed to the chosen portal destination in his left hand. The portal never malfunctions unless a follower of Bane, Cyric, Mask, Talona, or Talos attempts to use it. In this case, a column of holy fire descends and strikes the interloper for 10d10 points of damage, with no saving throw. This fire comes crashing down each time an attempt is made by such a being.
Unfortunately, another being has claimed a piece of ground close by, and his borders happen to touch the marker stone. A lich named Auschylactus has a tomb complex ten miles northeast of the marker, just inside the Vast Swamp. Unfortunately, his phylactery was stolen by a nearby band of pixies, and the phylactery limits his movement. The lich cannot travel outside of a ten-mile radius from his tomb, and even his spells cannot affect people or targets outside his radius.
Note: DMs are strongly cautioned about introducing the lich in a way that would lead to immediate combat and the likely deaths of less experienced PCs. Some trickier measures may be useful, such as having the lich send an emissary on his behalf. The lich could work behind the scenes in several ways and then be revealed as the villain later on! Alternatively, if you think your group can handle dealing with a lich without immediately launching into an attack or ascertaining his true nature (if you try to hide it), you may just want the group to deal with the lich himself. If he does meet the PCs, he asks them to retrieve a minor item of no real importance but one of sentimental value (and choose a phylactery of a type that fulfills the description of "sentimental, but not truly valuable"). The PCs can quest to the pixies and find this item. Along the way, they have to deal with the local hill giant population and perhaps even some ogre mages (if they're strong enough to handle the challenge!). Also please note that this lich has more possessions than normal for his Challenge Rating, so if the PCs defeat him, grant them at least a 10% ad hoc bonus.
Auschylactus: Male human lich Sorcerer 18/Archmage 2; CR 22; Medium-size undead; HD 18d12 plus 2d12; hp 130; Init +4; Spd 30 ft.; AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 15; Atk +10 melee touch (paralysis, touch); SA coldfire, fear aura, grasp of death, paralyzing touch, spells; SQ darkvision 60 ft., DR 15/+1, immunities (cold, electricity, mind-affecting, polymorph), mastery of counterspelling, spell power +1, turn resistance +4, undead traits; AL NE; SV Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +18; Str 10, Dex 18, Con -, Int 21, Wis 18, Cha 24.
Skills and Feats: Craft (alchemy) +28, Concentration +30, Diplomacy +9, Heal +6, Hide +12, Knowledge (arcana) +28, Listen +18, Move Silently +12, Profession (herbalist) +12, Search +18, Sense Motive +18, Spellcraft +30, Spot +18; Combat Casting, Craft Wondrous Item, Dodge, Maximize Spell, Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Focus (Evocation), Spell Focus (Enchantment), Twin Spell.
Coldfire (Su): Auschylactus can produce balls of cold, blue-green fire that deal 3d10 points of negative energy damage. He can use the full attack action to throw two balls of coldfire in one round. The range increment for the missiles is 15 feet.
Fear Aura (Su): Auschylactus is shrouded in an aura of death and evil. Any creature of less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that looks upon him must make a Will save (DC 27) or be affected as if by fear (caster level 20th).
Grasp of Death (Su): Once per day, Auschylactus can surround its hands in a nimbus of black flame that remains until he touches someone. A character touched by the lich (with a melee touch attack roll) must make a successful Fort save DC 27 or die instantly.
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any creature touched by Auschylactus must succeed at a Fort save (DC 27) or be permanently paralyzed. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim. The effect cannot be dispelled.
Mastery of Counterspelling: When Auschylactus counterspells a spell, it is turned back upon the caster as if it were fully affected by a spell turning spell. If the spell cannot be affected by spell turning, then it is merely counterspelled.
Spell Power +1: This ability increases the DC for saves against Auschylactus's arcane spells and the caster level checks for his arcane spells to overcome spell resistance by +1.
Turn Resistance (Ex): Auschylactus is treated as a 24-HD undead for the purpose of turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempts.
Undead Traits: Auschylactus is immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death, effects, necromantic effects, mind-influencing effects, and any effect requiring a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects. He is not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Negative energy heals him. He is not at risk of death from massive damage but is destroyed at 0 hit points or less. He cannot be raised; resurrection works only if creature is willing.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/8/8/8/7/7/7/7/6/6; save DC 18 + spell level, or 20 + spell level for enchantment and evocation spells): 0 -- arcane mark, daze, detect magic, flare, mage hand, open/close, ray of frost, read magic, resistance; 1st -- charm person, mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement, sleep; 2nd -- blur, glitterdust, minor image, mirror image, Tasha's hideous laughter; 3rd -- dispel magic, fireball, hold person, lightning bolt; 4th -- confusion, emotion, ice storm, minor globe of invulnerability; 5th -- cone of cold, dominate person, telekinesis, wall of force; 6th -- circle of death, disintegrate, flesh to stone; 7th -- delayed blast fireball, forcecage, limited wish; 8th -- incendiary cloud, iron body, symbol; 9th -- energy drain, power word kill, wish.
The following spells have been cast on him permanently: protection from arrows, tongues, see invisibility, detect magic.
Crown of Auschylactus: The crown of Auschylactus is a platinum crown with five rubies spaced evenly around its band. It provides the following abilities:
- True seeing 1/day (upon command for up to 10 minutes per day)
- Ethereal jaunt (upon command up to 10 minutes per day; the effect is dismissible)
- +5 deflection bonus
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, darkvision, ethereal jaunt, passwall, true seeing; Market Price: 162,000 gp; Weight: 1 lb.
Auschylactus is 300 years old, and he has been a lich for over 200 of those years. Although he is evil, he willingly works with others to get his phylactery back (though he is by no means obvious about his involvement or his need for it). The pixies' encampment is south of the Way of the Manticore, which is a mere 4 miles away.
Also in the area are several hill giants and even some ogre mages. If the PCs wander too much, they may attract the attention of the hill giants, who defend their area with harsh measures.
Hill Giants: 120 hp; see Monster Manual.
Pixies: 5 hp; see Monster Manual.
(EL 10) Average party level 10 (four 10th-level characters): 3 hill giants.
(EL 12) Average party level 12 (four 12th-level characters): 6 hill giants.
(EL 14) Average party level 14 (four 14th-level characters): 6 hill giants, 2 ogre mages.
How to Incorporate the Cormyr Portal Into Your Campaign
- Hill giants have been blundering about the region, making a nuisance of themselves.
- Travelers on the Way of the Manticore have complained about what seems to be a small pack of pixies that are causing mischief on the road.
- These are dark days for Cormyr, and the kingdom needs allies and resources to better stabilize matters. Old documents talk about the portal, but they give little hint as to its capabilities. The Crown wants to know the location of the portal, if it still works, and where it leads to.