Portals Under the Black Gauntlet
By Robert Wiese
Putting the Portals Into Play
The last three weeks, the details of three linked portals in and around the city of Mintar have been revealed. This week, take a look at some plot ideas and adventure hooks that allow you to add these portals to your ongoing FR campaign.
- One or more of the martial PCs in the party could be a past student of Ilindyl Fireblade, perhaps even having graduated from the Academy of the Drawn Sword before its destruction. Through NPCs contacts in the Lake of Steam region, the PC could learn that Fireblade did not die in the Banite coup as many theorized at the time. Not only is Fireblade alive, the PC hears, but he is also committed to ridding the once-lovely city of Mintar (perhaps the PC grew up there or in the region) of the Banite scourge and that he is calling on any former students of his with a just heart and a strong sword arm to aid him in this endeavor. The PC receives instructions to journey to the vicinity of the tiny, Banite-controlled village of Kzelter, where Fireblade or one of his group will seek those who wear the Academy's traditional red sash under their sword belts.
- The PCs could be hired by the Calishite, Tethyrian, or Saelmurian governments to investigate and reconnoiter the Mintar/Kzelter Banite holdings. Rumors of organized resistance have reached certain ears in the government, and the PCs' actions could be the first step in an active, covert campaign of supply and support to the underground movements. Alternatively, the good-aligned church of the PC paladin, cleric, or other devout PC could engage the party's services for a similar mission. Churches likely to take such a step include Helm, Tyr, Ilmater, Torm, and even Nobanion, Lathander, or Chauntea. This mission could become the first scenario in an extended campaign involving the PCs in the secretive activities designed to free the region from Darkhope's clutches.
- Heroes could be drawn there from neighboring regions such as the Border Kingdoms, the Vilhon Reach, Amn, the Shaar, or points beyond by the call of coins to be made as mercenaries in service to those forces opposing (or merely afraid of) the Banites. Once there, the PCs can take part in any number of activities. Wilderness-oriented heroes might wish to aid the Shadi'ar tribes of wandering horse nomads that roam the rocky hills north of the Lake of Steam, which is know as the Land of the Lions. The tribes' annual migration took them near Mintar each spring, but after several encounters with the Banites in the first few years after the coup, the tribes now avoid the region. This has put stress on the tribes' entire yearly cycle as nearly one-quarter of their range has been eliminated. There are those among the fierce Shadi'ar horsemen who would gladly join an alliance to destroy the Banites, but many of the nomads still feel that the evil forces are not their concern, but that of the other "civilized barbarians" that live along the shore. These people also feel that no more Lion warriors should die in such a cause. Working to recruit and mobilize the tribes into fighting to regain their lands could become a long-term campaign goal for the PCs.
- A secret society, such as the Harpers, the Moonstars, or the Heralds, could desire contact members in the region with which they've recently lost contact and the PCs are engaged to determine what happened to the missing individuals and rescue them if possible. Information brokers such as the Knights of the Shield, mercantile powers such as the Iron Throne, and evil groups such as the Zhentarim could be expressing interest in the region, hoping to gain power or make money by taking advantage of the unsettled situation there. The heroes' past associations with any of these organizations could draw them into the intriguing and dangerous region. Alternatively, Saelmur's largest thieves' guild, the Scarlet Throats (called that both for the red bandannas they wear around their necks and for the slit throats of their dead enemies) could be running amok in the city, with its constabulary overburdened by those displaced from Mintar and all those coming here for their own reasons. The city could hire the PCs to infiltrate or otherwise clamp down on the thieves, since city rulers can spare no official resources to halt the crime spree.
Assuming the PCs do get involved with the anti-Banite forces, they are likely to attract attention to themselves at some point. After the PCs dispatch the first few Banite bands sent to kill them, Darkhope allows one of his assistants (perhaps Victoriana Arianus in Mintar, see part 2 or Neth Arrovar in Kzelter see part 3 the use of a small number of the helmed horrors that the Lord of the Black Gauntlet still commands. (Darkhope had perhaps as many as a dozen of these constructs when he took power, but a few have been lost over the last decade. While the exact number he still controls is unknown, it is assumed to be less than ten, and they're split, with the majority in Mintar, and the remaining few in Kzelter.)