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The Gates of the Moon

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Recommended Levels: n/a
Author: Brannon HollingsworthEmail: :

The bulk of this adventure takes place in or around the third layer of Ysgard and has close ties to the Infinite Staircase, a planar pathway detailed in the Planescape adventure supplement The Infinite Staircase. PCs that have run that (or even a portion of that) supplement would be ideal, as they can be contacted by friends, associates, or even a cutter that they owe that resides on or near the infinite staircase. Alternatively, PCs that have no ties to the supplement can be easily woven into the storyline of this adventure, simply by stumbling into it, or from ample clues and additional hooks provided by the DM (see below).

Background:

The main thrust of the adventure storyline is this, a group of werebeasts have turned rogue and have taken over the gates to the Moon and are now holding them hostage. While these werebeasts normally help the lillenid guard the Gates, something seems to be amiss with these particular creatures. Perhaps from the loss of her worshippers, the werebeasts, or perhaps because her realm has been taken over by enemy influence, the goddess Selúne has gone missing. Above her realm, her manifestation is gone.

The true dark of the story is far deeper than the PCs will probably delve, but it could help the DM to know it, especially when building the suspense and tense atmosphere that revolves around the entire adventure. It seems that the Fated, the faction from the Cage also known as the Takers, is getting a bit jealous of all of the jink that is passing hands (untaxed) on the Infinite Staircase. As more cutters and bloods lann the chant about the Infinite Staircase and its far easier means of transportation (being merely doors to other planar locations instead of portals and their often pricey and bothersome keys), the popularity of the Staircase is expanding infinitely, literally. With all of these planewalking bashers comes the need for goods and that brings trade, and as we all know, trade brings jink and lots of it.

Particularly, the Takers are mightily unhappy with the recent appearance of many Snail Outfitters outposts that seem to be springing up all over the Staircase. It seems that ever since Snail Trawet Sr. took his now booming business from the City of Doors, there has been a bit of bad blood between the two. Also, it seems that the Fated have gotten the Planar Trade Consortium involved, and as any cutter worth his salt can tell you, there is no love lost between the PTC and Snail Outfitters. Snail Outfitters have been trading extensively with the Planewalker’s guild, also located in the Staircase, to the benefit of both the Guild and S.O. Unfortunately, that makes the guild a target as well.

What do to with this sticky conundrum? That is the question that the Fated and the PTC are now faced with, and so they decided to take matters into their own hands, albeit a their methods are a bit underhanded… A minder of Factol Darkwood, a tiefling by the name of Teartalons (who has definite were-like qualities) has infiltrated the werebeast camp, has managed to obtain the favor and the financial backing of Estavan, of the PTC. Now, of course, Estavan has made perfectly sure that there are no paths that tie him to the “The MoonGate Affair”, as it calls it, but he has made certain that his desires and wishes will come to fruition. Factol Darkwood will neither deny nor confirm any rumors about the issue, and lies low throughout it all.

At any rate, Teartalons has managed, via the influence of several magical spells and a powerful device called a rod of rulership (no doubt obtained with PTC jink), to convince the werebeasts that normally guard the Gate that the lillend are in cahoots with the tanar’ri. And if that were not bad enough, that the fiends will soon be using the Infinite Staircase as a staging point in the ever-going Blood War. Now while this in and of itself might not be enough to make the common werebeast pause, the fact that the tanar’ri plan to destroy all of those doorways that are not of strategic importance might. While the Staircase itself holds no meaning for them, the Gates of the Moon however, are a tad bit sacred to most werebeasts, and they know that if the Staircase is destroyed, so to will be their Gates of the Moon.

Now, where the PTC and the Taker angle come into play is that the werebeasts take over the Gates to the Moon (one of the primary entrances and exits to the Infinite Staircase) and will allow no one to enter, on pains of death. Any trying to leave the Staircase via the Gates of the Moon are captured and one can assume that they are also being held in the ransom. The Shards, servants of the goddess, are driven out of her palace, where they slowly begin to fade. Why they do not resist the takeover by force is unknown, but perhaps it has something to do with the werebeasts being the goddess’ followers. They cannot be harmed, even if someone is pulling their strings.

The werebeasts state their terms (dictated by the minder Teartalons) – that the Gates of the Moon will remain closed until some group who can maintain order upon the Staircase and drive the tanar’ri away steps into the spotlight and does so. Of course, the Takers are the first to do so and get “first dibs” at cracking the fiendish problem. Actually, Teartalons is preparing to lead the werebeasts to attack both the Snail Outfitter outpost and the Planewalker’s guild, so that when the Takers have control over the Gates of the Moon, they have already chased the competition away.

The Adventure Begins:

There are several avenues that a DM can use to ply his players into this adventure. Perhaps there is a pre-established faction connection that either wants to find out why the Fated is spending so much time on Ysgard. Or maybe they are hired to find out what is going on at the Gates of the Moon for some “old friends” on the Infinite Staircase, or maybe they have old companions trapped by the ransoming beasts at the Gate itself. They could even lann some chant such that there is some increased were-beast activity in Ysgard and some high-up is paying top-shelf jink to get to the bottom of it all. Any chaotic or freedom loving PCs, who knows of the goddess, might also want to investigate what has happened to her. Whatever the reason, they PCs will quickly find that this is much more than it seems when first approached.

PCs should learn very quickly that outright sword and spell slinging is not the answer to this issue. Not only are there many werebeasts of all kinds present at the Gates of the Moon, but there are also many tiefling mercenaries (no doubt hired by the Fated or the PTC), as well as many tanar’ri that are dweomered to appear as werebeasts scattered throughout the ever-growing pack.

The PCs best bet by far is talking with the mercenaries, trying to get them to spill as many of the darks as possible about what is really going on there. Enterprising parties could easily infiltrate the pack as either new “recruits”, as security is anything but tight considering the wild and roaming natures of most werebeasts or as entertainment (bards would be particularly useful here) for the pack. Eventually, however, the PCs will lann the darks of the true nature of what lies beneath this “capture” of the Gates of the Moon, and then the best bet is to return with proof to someone who both cares and is able to thwart the Fated.

The Harmonium and their Mercykiller pals would be most interested in participating in this little affair, as they would like nothing more than to gain a toehold on the chaotic Infinite Staircase and impose a little order. Now, what ramifications that has for the very nature of the Staircase itself is another matter entirely…

Perhaps more satisfying to chaotic cutters is contacting the Planewalker’s guild for help. Once Hav’run Thain, the leader, has been convinced of the truth of the PCs claims, he will contact Snail Jr. and request his assistance. Immediately, they begin to prepare themselves for battle. Seeing as the werebeasts are too many to face head-on, Snail Trawet Jr. proposes that a small group of heroic sods sneak into Teartalons' camp and destroy his rod, using a rod of cancellation from Snail’s personal collection of magics. The PCs would be perfect for the job, since they’ve already snuck into the camp.

Conclusion

Once the werebeasts are free of Teartalons' control, the mercenaries don’t stand a chance. They are quickly routed out of the goddess’ palace and killed or captured. Unfortunately, every Taker worth his name (and that’s everyone of them...) gets away or takes his own life. Teartalons will probably escape, unless the PCs do something really dramatic, as he’s really a top-shelf blood. Suddenly, the moon appears in the sky, shining like it never left. Immediately, the Shards rush into the palace in wild celebration. The PCs will have made friends for life if they had anything to do with the retaking of the Gates.

Tieing in with Tales from the Infinite Staircase:

This adventure hook could be easily used as an introduction to the Infinite Staircase. This would result in setting players up to run the official TSR adventure, but it could just as easily be run during the events that occur during the adventure, as many of the events do not have to occur linearly. This hook could be slipped between the chapters quite easily, as well as after the entire adventure takes place, thus making the Infinite Staircase “familiar territory” for your “experienced” planewalking PCs…

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