Agents of love in the service of the god of keys and locks.

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The Chronicler
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Agents of love in the service of the god of keys and locks.

My poor players certainly have their hands full. They have to kill a god of their own making, they are embroiled in a hopeless githyanki rebellion against mighty Vlaakith, in the service of a possibly deranged woman who claims to be Gith reborn, and one of the characters, an einherje, have been given the daunting task of bringing the åsatro, belief in the old gods, back to the Germanic parts of Europe. If he can even find his way back to Earth, that is.

They deserve a break, and I thought I might give them one in the form of an adventure entirely free of mortal danger, but with one of the greatest rewards imaginable for a planewalker. A key that opens all doors and gates.

I could really need some help in fleshing out the details however.

The adventure will start, I reckon, when the party, mostly consisting of Earthlings, are passing through Sigil on their way to another deadly venture. While they are enjoying a drink at one of the taverns they have come to appreciate in their diaspora on the Planes they are confronted by a Coure, a cute, little, winged eladrin.

She might not make contact straight away, rather toy with them a little, for example by subtly penetrating one of the characters tankard of ale with her razor sharp «short sword», making quite a mess and causing him some embarrassment.
Sooner or later though, she will get back to business and try to recruit the (at this point rather famous) characters to her «noble» cause. It turns out she is a proxy for Portunes, the Roman god for keys and locks. And she is on a mission of love.

The god has set his eyes on a beautiful maiden, the daughter of a wealthy tradesman (actually a member of the Merkhant sect). Of course the god cannot enter Sigil and court the woman himself, so he has charged his proxy with the mission of convincing her to meet with him on the Outlands. Once he can meet her face to face (he has two faces by the way), he´s sure that his divine charm will win her over. If his proxy is unable to bring her to him herself, he has authorized her to recruit anyone she deems fit in Sigil to aid her in this quest.
He´s willing to offer gold, gems, and other rewards to those who do so. But if a capable party is unwilling to accept the mission for such mundane rewards (as I belive will be the case for the player characters in my game), he has one reward to offer which no planewalking man or woman would dream of refusing. A universal key to everything – every single door or gate in the Multiverse, whether it´s a kitchen door, the door to a treasure vault, or a gate to Mount Celestia.

Once they accept the quest they need to find a way to approach the woman, Alteia, and bring forth their proposition. That is not an easy task. Her home is heavily guarded, and her father keeps a watching eye over her, or rather his numerous hired halberdiers do that for him.

Most likely they will find that the easiest way of making contact with the young woman is as she is passing through town in a carrier wagon, most likely on an errand of vanity.

She is a bit sceptical at first. She has never even heard about this god. If the players are smart they will make a point of how potentially useful a god of keys and locks is in a culture where gates are all important. If they have to confront her father, they might even convince him of the benefits of coupling his daughter to a god that might bring his caravans anywhere he´d want to go, but even having the girls father as an ally does not guarantee success. Alteia is wilful, and will not agree to meet with him unless he gives her some kind of suitable courting gift. She demands to win the upcoming miss Sigil contest. And even if she wins, she merely promises to meet with the god, not necessarily mate with him.

This is where I could need some help. A miss Sigil contest cannot be a contest of beauty alone. There are too many different species of creatures and too many diverging notions of beauty for that to work. So what can the challenges be?

I thought one of them could be making the finest outfit, consisting of the most spectacular materials from the Lower planes, the Higher planes, the Neutral planes, the Prime material plane, the Inner planes and either the Astral or Ethereal plane. A dress spun from the silk of an bebilith, with golden thread made out of Sifs hair etc. Basically something to cater for all tastes. I´m very grateful for any ideas.

The challenges of securing the best outfit might also include finding the best source of intelligence, an ursinal or the likes, who would know which combination of materials is most likely to impress all the judges, where to find them, how to collect them (without getting killed) etc. Finding out who the judges are, might also be a good idea, perhaps trying to bribe or otherwise influence them also.

Another challenge might be to help Alteia write the best speech. How to write a speech that will move both angels and demons, sharing visions of reforms or suggest enteprises that will benefit sigilians of every alignment and disposition?

Any ideas?

sciborg2
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Who is sponsoring the Miss

Who is sponsoring the Miss Sigil pagent? Zadara the Titan? Shemeska the Marauder?

I think it's really hard to have an outfit that would appeal to everyone but at the same time Sigil has it's own internal culture that might provide some unifying tastes? (Perhaps someone even causes controversy by dressing up as the LoP?)

Perhaps instead of best speech best performance? Like re-enactment of a major point in planar history? I just think it'd be hard to make a speech that both angels and demons would like. But you could have a speech/performance that celebrates Sigil and the Lady (w/out worshiping her of course).

Perhaps there's also points for a memory captured in the recorder stones? Revelation of a god's divine form would definitely help in that case...

KnightOfDecay
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Quote:Who is sponsoring the

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Who is sponsoring the Miss Sigil pagent? Zadara the Titan? Shemeska the Marauder?

I guess that's the defining question. Is your game set Pre- or Post-Faction War? If the factions are still in control, the jury could be comprised of the thirteen factions represented in the Hall of Speakers.
Thus the contest wouldn't be as much about "looks" but about how well Miss Sigil appeals to the philospohical outlooks of the faction representatives.

A nice, modest dress might get you the three votes of Guvners, Hardheads and the Mercykillers, but from the Sensates... as well? They are into creative stuff, right? And the Dustmen, err, should I wear black? Something with skulls? Wouldn't that offend the Godsmen? And why are the Chaosmen represented by a drunk opossum?

The categories "Outfit", "Speech" and some kind of "Performance" sound good to me. If you add some bribery, manipulation and the meddling of the likes of Shemeska and Zadara that should be lots of fun.

KnightOfDecay
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Quote:Once they accept the

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Once they accept the quest they need to find a way to approach the woman, Alteia, and bring forth their proposition. That is not an easy task. Her home is heavily guarded, and her father keeps a watching eye over her, or rather his numerous hired halberdiers do that for him.

There is an adventure with a rather similar plot in one of the older Dungeon magazines called "Matchmakers". The PCs have to kidnapp a rich girl from her fathers estate, to reunite her with her beloved (hostile houses / Romeo and Juliet...) for their wedding ceremony. A nice twist is, that the PCs might accidently kidnapp the wrong girl from the house, as her cousin has recently arrived for a visit and looks pretty much like her.
The Chronicler
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Excellent ideas

These are some brilliant ideas, thank you. I agree that the judges should be from the various factions. Although I guess they could represent the various wards as well, which could bring an element of class emnity and local geographical rivalry into the mix. Maybe there should´ve been some kind of preliminary contest. Either within the factions, if that is what we´ll go for, a miss Dustman-contest etc. or a Miss Lower Ward etc. This particular girl would´ve already won either the Ladys Ward or the Merchants Ward pageant.

I also like the idea of a performance/talent contest in the pageant. The idea of a "best sensory experience contest" is not bad either.

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If you add some bribery, manipulation and the meddling of the likes of Shemeska and Zadara that should be lots of fun.

Yeah. Also, if they actually succeed and get their hands on Portunes reward, the universal key to everything, they will really be in for some interesting times. Shemeska, Zadara, all the factols and just about anyone would do just about anything to get hold of such an artifact.

As if they need more attention of that kind with a god slaying sword from Toril in their possesion, and first hand information on a self-proclaimed incarnation of one of the legends from multiverse history.

One thing I need to come up with though, in addition to who the judges are etc., is the competition. Who are the other candidates? What are their strategies? Who is backing them, or has some kind of stakes in the pageant? And what are the competing girls strenghts and weaknesses, and how to counter or exploit them?

Any ideas on that?

elderbrain
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Hmm. If the key truly opens

Hmm. If the key truly opens ALL portals - including those leading to and from Sigil - the Lady of Pain will surely take an interest. After all, she put the god Aoskar in the dead-book, another deity concerned with doors and portals. Of course, Portunes, unlike Aoskar, probably isn't looking to take Her city away, but still... And outside Sigil, there are many powerful beings who value their privacy. Asmodeus isn't likely to cotton to clueless berks who enter Nessus uninvited, for instance. There are a couple of ways you could handle it, though... maybe the PCs did the Lady a favor at some time in the past (or just before they get the key), and She lets it work. Maybe the key only works for non-Sigilian portals. (Note that in the adventure "Die, Vecna, Die!" - SPOILER ALERT -, the heroes, if successful, receive a similar key from the Dabus as a reward.)

Jem
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Yeah, the key presumably

Yeah, the key presumably should only open Sigilian portals if the Lady says it's okay -- otherwise it's a major setting-changer. If I recall correctly, Aoskar granted some power in that general direction and that's a major reason she offed him.

The Chronicler
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Portunes is a little less ambitious than Aoskar

A universal key to everything will certainly be an extremely powerful and coveted artifact. Portunes is no Aoskar however. He has no (known) intentions of becoming a god of planar travel, satisfied with the niche in his pantheon. He most certainly (or most probably) has no plans of overthrowing the Lady of pain (if knowledge of this key spreads it might encourage more people to worship him though, who knows what that might lead to).

And, as far as I know, Aoskar was a lone god. Portunes might be a puny deity, but he is part of a mighty panthon. To attempt to kill him would be rash, especially considering how far she allowed Aoskar to encroach on her territory before she acted. Discouraging the worship of him within Sigil would be a more appropriate respons.

When it comes to places like Nessus, I would think surviving there for more than moment is a far greater concern for travelers to that wicked plane than finding a key that opens a portal to it.

Restricting the key to gates outside of Sigil might make some sense, but I kind of like the idea of a key that truly opens anything.

KnightOfDecay
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Just some random thoughts

Quote:
One thing I need to come up with though, in addition to who the judges are etc., is the competition. Who are the other candidates? What are their strategies? Who is backing them, or has some kind of stakes in the pageant? And what are the competing girls strenghts and weaknesses, and how to counter or exploit them?

Any ideas on that?

Just some random thoughts:

Factions/Sects
· Anarchist candidate (Will do whatever necessary to secretly ruin the contest)
· Signer candidate (Tries to shape the Multiverse by influencing the listeners of her speech)
· Xaositect candidate (Whatever)
· Bleaker candidate (Doesn’t show up)
· Godsmen candidate (Some members of Basdenk’s subgroup think that the time has come for an animal to win the contest)
· Ishtaritu aka Sacred Prostitutes candidate (Uses the contest as a platform to spread the teachings of her sect)
· Planarist candidate (Has only one mission: To prevent a prime from winning the contest)
· Prime Regals candidate (Wants to show them planars that true beauty only resides on the Prime)
· Sensate candidates (Very competitive. Lots of faction backup)
· Rosebringer candidates (Natural participants – Beauty comes from within and is the key to the Multiverse)

Sponsors
· A candidate sponsored by Zadara the Titan (Zadara sensed the potential in her candidate and backs her up with vast amounts of gold. Of course she expects her candidate to win, or, in the least, to beat Shemeska’s candidate)
· A candidate sponsored by Shemeska the Marauder (Her main goal is to beat Zadara’s candidate. Of course Shemeska could easily win the contest herself, if she bothered to participate, but well that would be no competition at all, would it?
· A member of the d’Arlen family (maybe a niece or daughter of Timmon d’Arlen and a personal rival of Alteia)
· A ooze genasi sponsored by Bwimb Baron(ess) of the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze (Because Bwimb is awesome)
· A candidate sponsored by the Garianis family

Wards
· Miss Hive vs. Ms Lady’s Ward

Cults
· Various members of cults and religions devoted to beauty (Aphrodite, Sune…)

Species
· A slaad
· A xorn
· A rogue modron
· A parai
· A deva
· A succubus/erinyes
· Some psionic creature that tries to read the minds of judges and audience to adjust it’s performance / Some kind of remote-controlled eidolon with an unknown controller (cranium rats?)

Plane
· Miss Goatcheese from Bytopia
· Miss Valkyrie from Ysgard
· Miss Oozepond (see sponsors)
· All 73 contest winners from a weird demiplane where only the number 73 is considered to be correct and lucky

Other Groups
· Maybe the touts think it fun to send Kylie (Who could represent Sigil better than a tout? Of course she doesn’t even bother to change her garb etc.)

Quote:
Restricting the key to gates outside of Sigil might make some sense, but I kind of like the idea of a key that truly opens anything.

Maybe it only works exactly 3 times (Rule of Three). The key would still be quite powerful, but the PCs should better think twice before they use it.
Unsung
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^ I like it. Starting to

^ I like it. Starting to sound very...Discworld/Myth Adventures.

@The Chronicler- Now I don't know your players, but I feel like it's inevitable that somebody is going to ask if one of the judges is a beholder. I suggest you plan for such a contingency. Maybe by making one of the contestants a beholder(kin).

At the same time, as much as having it be purely a contest of beauty might seem to make a single standard impossible, it could still work if you chose the judges carefully. Shapeshifters and Sensates or both at once for example. And having shapeshifters among the contestants just makes the whole thing even more interesting.

As for the discussion over how much power you're giving the party with the key, it sounds like you've got that covered, mentioning how other powerful factions will want it. Besides which, as noted, if the players *do* abuse it, the Lady probably will descend upon them the next time they're in Sigil, to maze either the Key or them. To say nothing of gods other than Portunes, or other planar beings who the players run into while walking out of their linen closets and whatnot. It's power to the players, but power that comes with a lot of trouble attached. Opportunity for adventure.

All things considered, on a grand scale, the artifact is still only as powerful as the DM makes it. You, after all, decide where the portals are, how much distance between them, who is waiting on the other side. Whether or not you can open a portal is only one piece of the puzzle, much of the time.

The Chronicler
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Great tips

That´s a lot of good ideas. There could be a Miss Multiverse competition after the Miss Sigil pageant. Or perhaps better, the Sigil competition is the Miss Multiverse pageant, and the various layers send their candidates in the same way that the wards within Sigil does. Might seem a bit unfair to place a ward in Sigil on the same scale as an entire plane of existence, but there´s only one City of Portals, and if the person behind the pageant hails from the city, then it´s only natural that he or she is as arrogant as the next sigilian.

It is starting to dawn on me what a great opportunity this is to introduce the various faction philosophies to the players. Both through the speech, the performance and the general behaviour and attitude of the competing girls. My players have spent a lot of their time out of Earth so far travelling the planes, and relatively little time in Sigil. They only just now started joining factions, and there are still factions they barely know by name.

The Chronicler
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Quote:All things considered,

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All things considered, on a grand scale, the artifact is still only as powerful as the DM makes it. You, after all, decide where the portals are, how much distance between them, who is waiting on the other side. Whether or not you can open a portal is only one piece of the puzzle, much of the time.

I´m glad you think so. Although the rule of three idea would probably work for a lot of parties, I don´t think that would be the case for these guys. They are so obsessed with returning to Earth, as well as dealing with all their other current problems, that only a truly awesome reward would make them consider accepting Portunes offer.

Quote:
Now I don't know your players, but I feel like it's inevitable that somebody is going to ask if one of the judges is a beholder. I suggest you plan for such a contingency.

Yeah, there must be a beholder judge, the name of that creature alone demands it. And of course there´s nothing at all creepy about performing or speaking before the scrutinizing eyes of an eye tyrant or observer.