Our night began with the group once again splintered. (Seems to happen a lot, doesn’t it?) Let’s take each character individually, since each was individually active.
Upon killing The Gatekeeper, Aiden sent Tallus an instant magical message notifying the cleric of Clandeggen Silverbeard that Biagio, the Gatekeeper and perhaps an as yet unidentified Roshann agent were one in the same person. At that point, Tallus was still in Calimshan investigating Reynald Umbrayal, but when he heard this news he decided he had more important tasks to attend to, most notably relieving Biagio’s study of the potentially powerful, and conceivably destructive text that had purportedly helped him complete his ritual for opening and closing gates. So Tallus had plane shifted to the Positive Energy Plane and then greater plane shifted back to Biagio’s camp on the Material Plane. Once there, he had retrieved two books and a magical disc that radiated strong magic and some evil, at least to Tallus’ eyes. Prior to the start of this night’s action, Tallus stored the magical disc in a secure location in his temple. Then he sat down to read one of the two books. The one he had already copied a section from when he skimmed through it with Biagio, he gave to Abel, directing his cohort and uncle to study it in more detail.
At the start of the night, once the group had finally reconvened, Abel informed the group that this entire text was a forgery. He said it was an excellent forgery, but a forgery nonetheless, a fact he knew because it was missing the watermark paper from that era was supposed to have. A long treatise on theology and philosophy, the book was supposedly written some twelve hundred years ago, but Abel—with no doubt or hesitation—told the group that paper creators of the era had a very lengthy and complex process to creating paper, a process that left an obvious watermark on their creation. This mark was missing from every page of the text, including the twenty page section with logical formulae that purportedly helped Biagio complete his ritual. The group asked Abel if it was possible that the text were simply a copy of some other book read in some other location, or even a compilation of a number of books Biagio had considered germane. Abel doubted it. He could not understand why someone would go through such trouble to make the book look so old, going so far as to say the forgery would have fooled most people in the multiverse. Only those, like him, who had spent their many centuries studying mundane lessons could have identified it as a forgery so quickly. Tallus might have taken a week or more to realize it. Others, like Thiazzi, might have never spotted it without some help from someone. His conclusion: the entire text was a fabrication, though it’s author was unknown to him. If they could bring him something the same creator forged or authored he might be able to match the two as being from one hand. (Note: the group has very good reason, given later in the night by Alu-Alu, to suspect that the author was Biagio in one of his other personas. More on this later.)
For his part, Tallus also learned some relevant intelligence. The book he read was another philosophical treatise, this one on the nature of Paragons. The book spoke in hypotheticals. If Paragons exist, they would be mortal representatives of principles, each of which is vital to a properly functioning society. Some of these principles might be attached to gods. Or gods might attach themselves to the principle. But the Paragons would not be representatives of the gods, in the way an Avatar would be, even if they sometimes aligned or agreed with a particular god or group of gods. Moreover, the book theorized that three Paragons would exist. One would be a Paragon of Disorder (the group had reason to think Biagio held this office in his Gatekeeper persona). One would be a Paragon of Balance (this appears to be Reynald Umbrayal. And other would be the Paragon of Order (the book had little to say on this topic, only that there could theoretically be more than one person in this office, as establishing order is rarely, if ever, a simple job). The only way to impact significant changes to the universe would be for all three Paragons to agree on a course of action and execute it together.
It theorized that a person becomes the Paragon of Balance by acknowledging the importance of both order and disorder in action, if not in thought. Such a worthy person has to be taught by the current office holder. They then have to undergo a ritual, performed by the current Paragon of Balance, at the completion of which the new office holder will be established. It had no thoughts on how one comes to be the Paragon of Order, but it suggested the Paragon of Chaos would be attained more chaotically. It offered a number of possible ways one might achieve this position, but the first possibility and the one it spent the most space explaining was by murdering candidates for the position. Once only one candidate remained, that person would have the office. How do you become a candidate? By knowingly killing the current office holder with the expectation that it would make you the new Paragon of Disorder. Or by having been so chaotic throughout your life that the universe appoints you a candidate. Or by learning about the opening, identifying one or more of the candidates and then killing them. In this way, literally anyone could be a candidate up until only one candidate remains alive. At the moment, the surviving candidate holds the office (until someone knowingly kills him with expectation he or she will become the new Paragon).
All of this Tallus shared with the group. Little of seemed particularly promising for Thiazzi, who had not only killed The Gatekeeper, but had known said individual was the Paragon of Disorder and also expected to assume the office himself upon The Gatekeeper’s death. Notably, though he is a King, Thiazzi has also acted very chaotically at times, including—for instance—when he took control of two sovereign allies’ bodies. From a dogmatic perspective, it isn’t impossible that the universe might consider him a viable option for the Paragon of Disorder. Does all of that mean he was a candidate? Stay tuned.
Since we’re on the subject, let’s consider Thiazzi’s activities. Little of them are yet public. But the group does know he took Nale to Preservation Hospital whereupon he appointed Katia, Tallus’ most skilled surgeon, to be Nale’s personal physician.
This space will be filled in later, mostly because the GM and the player still need to discuss Aiden’s activities.
Vittari was plane shifted from the mountaintop. He did not cast the spell, but he did depart voluntarily, a fact he shared with Aiden and Copper just before he departed. He found himself on the Plane of Air, falling through endless sky. He reports that he summoned a wyvern and flew to a solid cloud, whereupon he met a great wyrm silver dragon named Galeru. The dragon informed Vittari that the troubles the group has encountered are not isolated to the Material Plane. Not only was Limbo affected but so was the Astral Plane, where a sudden burst of Lycanthropy suddenly started only to disappear shortly thereafter. Some of the outer planes are suffering from weather they have never experienced before. Some are exceptionally hot for the first time. Others are enjoying their first snowfalls. Galu, a demi-plane of Limbo, is seeing its temperature increase dramatically during the day and then decrease equally dramatically at night. Residents of Arborea are suffering from involuntary, slow polymorphs that seem to have no cause. Some of these residents are even turning into dragons. None of the transformations are yet complete, but not even Galeru can guess what will happen when they are. Even more troubling the plane of Hensadon is suffering from babies being born improperly. These children are alive, but they do not cry, eat or do much of anything else save sleeping and breathing. Galeru was going there to investigate. He wanted Vittari to open a gate to determine who Biagio’s master was. He wanted this even more so after Vittari shared that he had an old man named Kardin. To aid in Vittari’s quest, Galeru gave him a powerful rod indeed.
When asked how he came to learn the following information, all Copper would say is that he does terrible things. Whatever those things are, he walked away knowing far more about the Roshann than anyone within the Unlikely Darkotians had ever known before.
The spy agency is structured much like a modern day business, with a top-down management structure. Perhaps unlike most effective businesses, only those individuals at the height of the corporation have a complete understanding of its day-to-day operations, personnel and mission. Together these three leaders make up the Board of Directors. The Chair of this board is the Darquis, who works so diligently to maintain anonymity that the other board members are the only Roshann employees who know they have met him and even they do not know who he really is. Underneath the Darquis are two individuals. One of them is the perceived leader of the agency, often referred to as Boss. The Boss has a right hand man who completes the Board. These individuals run the agency in its quest to know everything about every plane every where at all times. Thus far, the Roshann fall short of this mission, as they only have a solid understanding of goings-on on the Material Plane. The Board meets whenever the Darquis orders it to, typically on the Ethereal Plane at a location Copper could find.
The rest of the company is also similar to a top-down management group. Beneath these two board memebers are a small group of Chiefs, if you will. These positions can be considered similar to a CFO or a COO. There are anywhere between four and seven of these chiefs at any given time, depending on a variety of factors. All of the Chiefs know the two Executives. Some might believe the Darquis exists but none know it for certain.
Under the Chiefs are a larger Vice President group. These folks oversee the managers and report to the chiefs, just as you might guess if you’ve worked in an office setting. There are probably close to two dozen Vice Presidents at any given time, some few of whom might have met the Board Members. On occasion they may even have presented to one or both of them about their efforts to coordinate activities. Again, none of these individuals have knowingly met the Darquis.
The next level down would be known as Managers. They report to the Vice Presidents and might have met a Chief at some point. The odds are small that they would have met either of the Executives. About the only way such a meeting might take place is if a manager is accused of some crime against the agency or if they are in line for promotion. Regardless, the Managers serve as back up recruiters and generally run the day to day operations of activities in their region. They are spread throughout the Material Plane and take visionary direction from the VPs, Chiefs and Executives. If someone higher in the corporation wants information on a given King, the Managers coordinate the effort. They also receive frequent reports from the supervisors, though they’re identities are carefully disguised when they do so. The only way a Supervisor becomes a Manager is if they have been with the Company for some time and have demonstrated loyalty in some way that supersedes money.
Under the Managers are Supervisors. These are esteemed Agents who have been very successful at gathering information. In this role, they do some additional information gathering of their own, but they also receive Agents’ reports at designated locations. The Agent contacts their Supervisor by placing a coded message in a pre-arranged drop. This code contains the time and place of a meeting. The Supervisor goes there at the appropriate time. If the Supervisor is late, perhaps because he or she is double booked, the Agent waits one hour, at which point the Agent returns to the drop location and sets up another meeting. Like Managers, supervisors’ identities are disguised from Agents, though most Agents don’t know it. Supervisors also serve as the companies primary recruiters, identifying and paying prospective Agents. Supervisors have met one manager, whose real identity they don’t know. They have met zero individuals higher in the corporation. If there’s an issue with a Supervisor, they are either ignored or killed. Supervisors, then, know very little about the Company, though they are compensated very well.
The vast majority of employees are Agents. These folks are undercover spies. They report to and take direction from Supervisors via Managers as described above. As of ten years ago, all Roshann employees start their career as Agents. Like everyone else, they get paid well.
It is worth noting that Copper has many, many names of folks in VP and Manager positions. He also has a few names of individuals in Supervisor and Agent roles, though he doesn’t know of as many of these low level runts. Notably, his information is ten-ish years old, however. Also, Copper could drop a coded message with a Supervisor, thereby arranging a meeting, if he wanted to.
Oh yes. I almost forgot. Copper also learned that one of the Board of Directors’ name was Elijah Wendell. This is the man with the bright blue eyes Tallus and Aiden saw. He is also almost certainly Biagio’s third persona. Copper doesn’t yet know who the third Board Member is. The group learned later from Alu-Alu that Elijah Wendell wanted to know how to make paper as though it were a million plus years old. Alu-Alu, angered that Wendell never tipped him, lied and didn’t provide the appropriate information. Seems this is why Biagio’s forgery, the one Abel studied, wasn’t perfect.
The Rest of the Night
After discussing the above, and more, the PCs rested before eventually deciding on a course of action. Tallus had a lead on Reynald Umbrayal’s potential location, that being the ethereal plane where he took a meeting. The group wanted to go to this place. Following a short meeting between Tallus and Aiden, in which the Favored Soul insisted Umbrayal’s death was not necessarily part of his divine mission, the entire group, including Aiden, plane shifted to the Ethereal Plane.
They went to the location of Umbrayal’s meeting, where they found a business that traded in information for prospective planar travelers. This business, it is worth noting, is not a direct competitor of the Roshann. Think of them as more of a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy type service—they trade in high level, cultural information, not in detailed intelligence the way the Roshann does. Regardless, the PCs met with one Alu-Alu, an ethereal creature who seemed to be some sort of mid-level executive. He confirmed many of the details Galeru provided Vittari about the goings-on on various planes. He also told the PCs where Umbrayal had gone and why he was going there, perhaps because he does not much care for the Paragon of Balance, whom he described as being more than aloof. Umbrayal, it seems, had come to Alu-Alu to hear of strange happenings on various planes. The one that caught his fancy most was on a plane called Simultran, a plane Alu-Alu said was similar to the Material Plane in many ways except that the sky was constantly shifting in most unpredictable fashion. Again, the PCs assumed this plane was likely chaotic. Troublesomely, Simultran was now plagued by a black cloud, one that appeared to be lifeless, sweeping over the terrain, killing all unlucky enough to wind up underneath it. Alu-Alu insisted this cloud was not demonic, but something else, something perhaps more ominous.
Before the PCs had the opportunity to investigate, Thiazzi had a vision of a red-headed naked man robbing a shopkeeper somewhere on the Material Plane. After stealing the shopkeep’s gold, this naked man threw the money on the ground outside the store directly in front of several beggars. The man stood there, watching the homeless folk shove each other in an effort to retrieve the coin. Understandably disturbed, Thiazzi insisted the group plane shift to this man’s location. Upon their arrival, the man fled before Thiazzi had the opportunity to talk to him. Aidan helped the beggars sort the gold and paid back the shopkeep. With some help from Alu-Alu, Thiazzi determined this red-headed, bearded naked man was probably somehow connected to Thiazzi’s choice to kill the Paragon of Disorder. Perhaps, Tallus’ book was right. Perhaps Thiazzi, having made the choice he made, was a candidate. Perhaps, the bearded man was another of them.
After this short interruption, the group continued their pursuit of Umbrayal. They Plane Shifted to Simultran and eventually located Umbrayal. After chasing he and his awakened dire lion cohort, Thiazzi disintegrated the ground in front of the Paragon. Insulted, Umbrayal, also in Dire Lion form, said the only reason he wasn’t already attacking them after Thiazzi’s spell is that he saw little reason for any of them to die. Thiazzi bartered, offering to help the Paragon deal with the cloud ravaging this plane if Umbrayal would talk to them. Umbrayal said he’d talk to them without their help, but would certainly welcome the assistance.
And so they talked for a short time. Umbrayal confirmed that Tallus and Aidan are the Paragons of Order, saying he felt a strong pull to each of them. He confirmed Tallus’ theory that Biagio was once his student, saying that his time on earth, already more than 900 years was finally coming to an end and he once thought Biagio might replace him. He suggested the only way to free Cormac would be to create a gate that would also unleash some powerful force for chaos, a force he could sense. And the only way to open this gate would be for all the Paragons to work together. That said, neither Cormac’s loss nor his return, Umbrayal argued, would shift the balance, whereas releasing this force for chaos most certainly would. Umbrayal would not help them open this gate under any circumstance. What if someone else were the Paragon of Balance, one of the PCs asked? Umbrayal suggested it would be a decision that person would need to make.
Copper astutely asked if it seemed all of these crazed planar symptoms were linked. Umbrayal guessed they were. Copper observed they were getting worse. Umbrayal admitted they were. Copper asked if they were likely to keep getting worse unless the cause, whatever it was, was dealt with. Umbrayal acknowledged the possibility, but maintained he would not help the group open the gate.
And that was where we ended. What happens next is entirely up to the PCs.