Portals of the Harvest Gods
By Robert Wiese
The Portal of Plenty
The worship of Chauntea is practiced nearly everywhere in Faerûn, since the goddess of agriculture and the summer is a favorite with everyone who depends on farming for livelihood. Since nearly everyone does eat in one manner or another, one can find temples or shrines to the Grain Goddess anywhere one looks among human-dominated lands. To the people of the Dales, who are mainly farmers and craftspeople, Chauntea holds a special place, and some of the grandest of her temples are among these hardy and simple folk. Archendale, for all its military posturing, is at heart a place where people want to be left alone to farm or build.
Though the main temple of Chauntea in Archendale, the Bounty of the Goddess, is located in the city of Archenbridge, shrines for the farmers are also in the countryside villages. Lately, one of these small shrines has become the center of a knotty problem.
Some thirty years ago, Chauntea gave a vision to some of her followers on another world (where she is known by another name, but is the same Chauntea) that caused them to visit the Realms. These alien humans arrived in Archendale and explored the surrounding land. They found that the people of this new world worshiped their own goddess, and they immediately formed good relations. In time, a portal was created between the two worlds so that the followers of Chauntea could commune with their brethren across the worlds on a regular basis. Aside from sharing worship practices, the two groups also shared harvests and knowledge. The people of the other world grew different crops than the Dalesfolk and used some different methods. Each group was keen to learn the others' methods and try the others' crops. This is what Chauntea intended when she granted the vision in the first place.
Word of this portal to another world spread to the rest of Archendale and eventually across the Dales. It is not widely known outside the Dales except as a Chauntean worship center. This may be because there are so many portals in the Realms that they only attract notice for their usefulness (the people accept the magic as an everyday occurrence). Communities of farmers trade with the Archendale residents, who trade with the aliens. People make money, and agricultural knowledge is spread. The portal became known as Chauntea's Blessing, but it is also known as the Portal of Plenty.
The portal is 8 feet wide and about 9 feet high. It is marked by a pair of columns that flank its perimeter, with no marking on the top edge. The columns are carved with images of Chauntea's worship and farming. The portal is activated on the Archendale side by brushing a stock of wheat against any of the wheat stock carvings on either pillar. The portal then remains open for 6 seconds, during which time anyone can pass through.
The Portal of Plenty served well for decades, and agricultural knowledge in Archendale has advanced greatly compared to the rest of the Realms. However, a new kind of plenty has started coming through the portal -- plenty of monsters.
A year ago, monsters under the command of a lich lord conquered the alien community on the other world, and the peaceful farmers were turned into undead or mated with fiends or were just killed. From captive farmers the lich lord learned of the portal, and three months ago the first of these bizarre creatures stepped onto Faerûn. The Chaunteans at the shrine of the portal were brutally killed, and the monsters ranged into the surrounding countryside. After many more deaths, some adventurers killed the monsters and tracked their origin to the portal. Taking fate by the neck, they went through to the other side to face the monsters and eliminate the threat. They did not return. (Three of them now serve the lich lord as undead servants.)
When the adventurers did not return, but more monsters did, the Dalesfolk became desperate. They enlisted a wizard who cast a gate seal on the portal, and everyone thought the problem was solved for good. They were wrong. Somehow the gate seal was dispelled (Dalesfolk suspect a traitor) and the monsters kept coming. The lich lord seems to be making a concerted attempt to conquer Archendale to use as a forward base for conquering the rest of the Realms.
How to Incorporate Portal of Plenty Into Your Campaign
The alien people on the other side of the portal need not be human or even a standard D&D race. Use your imagination.
- The people of Archendale want to find a way to destroy the portal. Since no one has done this in recent memory, they need to figure out how to do it. The PCs are sent to the various libraries of magical knowledge to discover ancient secrets for destroying portals. If they find something, they must participate in the ritual or process in some significant way, even if that is fighting monsters while others work. Alternatively, the PCs can find the spell steal portal in some ancient text and use it to move the portal to some other (and safer) location, but this just puts off the problem. The lich lord continues to send monster minions to the new location.
- The Chaunteans and the Swords of Archendale suspect that a traitor dispelled the gate seal spell that was cast on the portal earlier, and before they attempt to seal it again they want the traitor found and eliminated. The PCs have to scour through the people living near the portal for the one who betrayed his land. This could involve a visit to the alien world.
- Some aliens come through the portal and claim to be Chauntea worshipers who eluded the monsters and escaped from captivity. They could be who they say they are, or they could be spies working for the lich lord. They could also have been "let go" by the lich lord so that it could use them as scrying targets or unwitting agents.
Portals of the Harvest Gods
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