Racial Portals of Faerûn
By Ramon Arjona
The Thayans do not possess a monopoly on demonology and evil magic. Thay was once a province of the Mulhorandi empire, which was an ancient and decadent culture that has only recently begun to reclaim some parts of its former glory. Followers of the Mulhorandi gods Set and Sebek are guilty of atrocities that would make a Red Wizard turn pale. The Mulhorandi themselves were once subjects of the Imaskari Empire, an extraplanar race ruled by powerful wizard-kings.
With a history so rich and dark, it is little wonder that many forgotten portals lie hidden in the deserts and mountains of Mulhrond.
One such portal is in Raurin, a region frequently called the Dust Desert. It was here that, ages ago, the Mulhorandi waged their war against their Imaskari masters. The land was permanently scarred by their conflict, and it is now nearly uninhabitable. Among those few who brave the perils of the Dust Desert are the worshipers of Set, who maintain a temple in the region. The secluded, inhospitable geography provides the perfect refuge for the depraved worship of their ophidian god.
Unknown to the worshippers of Set, hidden perhaps even from the yellow eyes of the serpent-god himself, a long-forgotten portal to an Outer Plane is buried beneath the sands in a nearby ruin. Occasionally, the desert winds shift and expose the worn stones of this ruin, sometimes allowing the angular top of the portal's structure to be seen in the light of day. This is only a momentary phenomenon, however, because the desert sands shift quickly, as though guided by some unseen hand, burying the ruins and all those unfortunate enough to be standing near them.
Should someone reach the portal through the constantly shifting sand, they discover that it will not open readily. The portal is keyed to allow only divine spellcasters who have chosen the Evil or Darkness domain. The spellcaster in question must cast a spell from either domain at the portal, which then absorbs the spell's power. Once activated, the portal remains active for 1 round. When active, its surface seems like a rippling sheet of darkness, giving no indication of what may await on the other side.
The Outer Plane that the portal connects to is a lonely, dry place that seems to resemble the Dust Desert -- except the sun remains at perpetual twilight, and an unforgiving cold grips the landscape. In this grey, dry land no native creatures live. Characters who pass through the portal find that they can breathe normally, but they are hard-pressed to find anything to eat or drink. Characters passing through this portal have a final, terrible surprise in store for them. The portal on the Outer Plane is malfunctioning, and the characters cannot return to their original destination. Malfunctioning portals are described in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
This nameless Outer Plane, while home to no living creature, may yet contain artifacts of the ancient Imaskari -- or perhaps some other, still older magic that would perhaps be better left untouched.
How to Incorporate the Mulhorandi Portal Into Your Champaign
- A Thayan wizard has discovered ancient manuscripts that allude to a hitherto undiscovered portal in the Dust Desert. Believing it to be the doorway to a repository of ancient magic, the wizard attempts to engage the PCs in a mission to uncover its exact location.
- The PCs are embroiled in a conflict with the followers of Set, when they inadvertently uncover the portal. The followers of Set flee through it. Should the PCs follow, they find a dry world of eternal twilight. The portal has ceased to function completely, leaving the PCs to find some other way home.
- An ancient lich from Imaskari awakens in the newly revitalized Mulhorandi empire and goes on a bloodthirsty rampage, threatening the lives of every mortal dwelling there. His mind numbed by centuries of sleep, the lich refuses to believe that the ancient empire has fallen. Once his initial desire for slaughter is sated, the lich begins to search for the portal in the Dust Desert -- perhaps to uncover some long-forgotten artifact. The PCs must thwart him or face the possible restoration of the Imaskari Empire under his undead hands.