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Author: Ivan Chiarelli Monteiro
System: D&D Planescape
Requirements: 3 to 5 player of 5-8th level
The party gets blamed for the death of a knight and the kidnapping of a top-shelf smithy, then has to play diplomat!
Graphic: Store House Map 2
Graphic: Store House Map 1
“We thought him to be Dah’nh T’diany, one of the best Gish among all us Githyanki. He had just returned from the Outlands on a mission and he seemed a little strange...oh, well, but he had always been silent. But there was something about him that was strange. Ironically, time would prove me right.”
-Solh’tye Rack’tci, Githyanki knight, after fleeing the battle for Liat’nghk
Githzerai and Githyanki have been at war from time immemorial, any clueless berk knows that. They also know that the astral touches every plane in their first layers. So knew one Tanar’ri. With the Blood war raging, both the Baatezu and the Tanar’ri are looking for a means of striking a more direct and decisive blow at each other. So, thought this one fiend, why not use the astral as a highway to reach Avernus or the Gray Waste?
“Silvery Highway” is set during one of the most successful Githzerai attack on the Githyanki, in which they take the Liat’nghk city-fortress, a 3,000 inhabitant city. The PCs are blamed for the death of a Githyanki knight, Solh’tye Rack’tci, and believed to be responsible for the stealing a load of Silver Swords and the kidnapping of Erlin’gt Nark’hs, one of the finest Githyanki smithy in all the astral. They will have to work their way out of the hatred of the Githyanki and find out what happened to the swords and the smithy.
The adventure is designed for a party of 3-5 PCs of 5th-8th level. Although they don’t get to end the Blood war or the yanki-zerai war, they do bring the githyanki and the githzerai together against their hated enemy: the Illithids.
The silver void is famous throughout the planes. Home to a series of creatures – some native, most simply residents – among them the feared Githyanki. Living on the astral for eons they inhabit the bodies of Dead Gods, and over these lifeless powers they build their fortresses. Just recently one of them, Liat’nghk has been taken by the Githzerai after an Incubus sabotaged the defenses of the city. Many wonder if the Tanar’ri and the Githzerai are working together or if the Githzerai simply had the perfect timing. Be that as it may, Liat’nghk is now a Githzerai stronghold, their first bastion in the Astral.
Obviously the Lich-queen won’t merely watch as their hatred foe take on the astral. Legions have been sent to recover the city. As for the swords, Erlin’gt and his kidnapper, groups have been sent to locate them and bring them back - and leave no witnesses.
Plague-mort, gate-town to the Abyss, was the chosen location for Tryi’ra, the Incubus responsible for the theft of the swords and the kidnapping of the Githyanki smithy to unload his cargo and take it to the Abyss. When he found out that the Githyanki knew the Githzerai were not directly responsible for it however, he decided to would be easier to come around any problems in a bigger city. Besides, he knew he couldn’t trust other Tanar’ri. What better place than Sigil then?
Ah, the city of a thousand colors with its myriad of styles, peoples, places, and factions. Searching for an Incubus here is no easy task. And you never know when those Harmonium leatherheads might show up, so a canny basher should keep himself out of trouble (a difficult task for one searching for a Tanar’ri).
The party encounters Solh’tye Rack’tci in an alley in Sigil. He will tell the PCs what took place in the astral before Tryi’ra, the Incubus kills him and blames the characters. Wanted by the Githyanki, who think they are responsible for planning the theft and kidnapping, and the Harmonium for murdering the Githyanki knight, the PCs should realize that their only chance of living to see the end of it is to talk to the Githzerai. While fleeing the Harmonium, a tiefling offers to help them leave Sigil (she works for a Cornugon).
Once in the astral they must reach Liat’nghk and convince the Githzerai to help them find the trail to the Tanar’ri.
Now they only have to take the stolen swords from Tryi’ra and bring them to the Githyanki along with Erlin’gt the smithy. But you never know what a Tanar’ri has planned. And coming to think of it, why did that Baatezu help them without asking for something in return...?
From the Outlands to the Astral and back again
As the PCs are walking through Sigil, they meet a badly injured Githyanki warrior lying on the ground. As they approach to help him, he tells them this:
“We thought him to be Dah’nh T’diany, one of the best Gish among all us Githyanki. He had just returned from the Outlands on a mission and he seemed a little strange...oh, well, but he had always been silent. But there was something about him that was strange. Ironically, time would prove me right.
When we heard the first explosion in the quarters followed by others throughout the city, we ran like Ysgardian ants when their anthill is tramped. Several other explosions followed before I saw him: Dah’nh, running with Erlin’gt Nark’hs and a load of weapons. I followed him while he reached the ship mooring and loaded. I couldn’t believe my own eyes! Could it be that he was betraying us? I gathered a force of twenty warriors and attacked the ship. It was then that he showed himself for the first time for what he really was, an Incubus. We fought him and some he had seduced into helping him came to his aid. We lost, and I was pushed out of the ship.
We spent almost a whole ‘day’ putting down the fires and attending the wounded. And by the end of that ‘day’, they attacked. Those damned betrayers couldn’t have a better timing. They marched with an army of almost 4,000 warriors, and we had nearly half of that number on our side. The battle was horrible and when they were finally breaching through our defenses my commander sent me and other four warriors to warn the other cities of the fate that had befallen us. I was badly injured, but on us depended the fate of our city. My fellow warriors and me got lost, and I ended up going through a color pool, arriving on the Outlands. From there I used the one portal I know to here, and now here I am”
The Githyanki warriors presents himself as Solh’tye Rack’tci, first knight of Liat’nghk. He is badly injured, and he will be in the dead-book if the PCs don’t do something. The party should be led to take the warrior to their quarters where he will be able to recover. He won’t go to any known place, lest the Incubus kill him. As days go by he tells more about the battle and the city. Unfortunately he is also aging quickly due to the effects of the time-flow outside the astral.
After about a week Solh’tye is as almost as good as his condition allows him but extremely debilitated. He is old.
When it rains...
At night while the party’s asleep, Tryi’ra breaks into the Githyanki’s room to kill the warrior, using a weapon from one of the PCs. The party wakes up (will check - DC 15) with Solh’tye’s words:
“So you finally found me, eh? You damned Fiend!
But you’re too late. I’m not the only one who knows it now!”
The PCs arrive in the room just in time to see the Tanar’ri stabbing a sword through Solh’tye’s chest. He turns around and faces the PCs, and then jumps through a window. Solh’tye still manages to say a few words before dying:
“You must go back to Liat’nghk and show the truth about the attack. My people are surely after you now, and if I know a Tanar’ri, soon the leatherheads will be looking for you too...go now…”
If the party take the time to look for other witnesses in other places of the Inn, they’ll find a barmy kobold by the name of Misrali, the Great (Pl/male kobold/F2/CG). Should the PCs press him, he will refuse to help them, but will tell them this:
“That Incubus paid me a good lot o’jink to not say anything to you. But I can’t! I can’t have your blood on my hands. He set you all up! Right now the Harmonium is coming here to lock you up on the charges of kidnapping and murder. I wouldn’t be like to be here when they arrive, and if I were you I’d take me sorry ass to the Hive. There it’ll take them longer to find you...”
As the PCs are leaving the Inn, the Harmonium arrives and, seeing them flee, chases them. The run through the city trying to lose the leatherheads should be difficult. Besides the Harmonium, some Githyanki patrols are in the city looking for them.
The PCs should be led to a tavern called “The Juggling Cow”, a crumbly place run by Jolly Maledir (Pr/ female dwarf/ 0/ free league/ N) who has been in charge of the place for almost 20 years. As she notices the party stumbling into her tavern she’ll ask them what’s the problem. If the PCs tell her they are fleeing the Harmonium she will lead them to a backroom of the tavern. If they don’t tell her, she’ll just ignore them, but warn them she doesn’t like troublemakers. After some time, a tiefling who presents herself as Dark Stone (Pl/ female tiefling/ W4, T3/ LE) tells the party she can help them with their “little problem”:
“Hello. I don’t think we have been properly introduced. I am called Dark Stone and I understand the Harmonium is after you, yes? Well, I believe I have a solution for your little problem. My employer has a means of helping you, and he would like to meet you. Shall we?”
Dark Stone will do whatever she can to make the PCs come with her except mentioning her employer is a Baatezu. She takes the party to a hidden building deep into the Hive. There they are presented to Vlaarik (Pl/ male Baatezu-Cornugon/ LE).
“Ah, here you are. I am very pleased to meet you. Please sit down. I believe my employee here told you I am not only willing to help you but also have the means necessary to take you out of Sigil and back to the astral. I can also help you track down the real perpetrator. No, don’t ask me how I know about it. I have many contacts, and for the moment let’s just say I know what Tryi’ra did to you. I offer you a portal to the Astral and resources, in exchange for your help getting this crazy Tanar’ri.”
If the party ask why does Vlaarik want to catch Tryi’ra he’ll say the Incubus screwed some of his plans and that the mere possibility of Tanar’ri coming to Baator from the Astral is not very good for the Blood war. If the characters seem reluctant to accept his offer, the Cornugon will say:
“Remember that, with the Harmonium hunting you, you’ll only leave Sigil through a private portal.”
Back in the saddle
After striking the deal with Vlaarik He’ll supply some scrolls and money, and say they can get weapons from a tiefling smithy in Plague-mort called Blue Jareal (Pl/ male tiefling/ W7/ NE). All weapons will be paid in advance by Vlaarik, but they should use Dark Stone’s name instead of his own as a recommendation.
Note to the DM: After the party steps through the portal the Cornugon sends and invisible spy after them. He will learn about every step the PCs take. The DM should drop very few and subtle hints about the spy, and make the attempt to find him very hard.
Once the PCs are back in the Astral they have two choices. They can both go to the Githyanki and talk some sense into their heads (though they won’t listen and will imprison or kill them on spot) or go to Liat’nghk and convince the Githzerai to help them (they really should choose this option).
When they’re approaching the city they see the Huge siege that’s taking place. They may be allowed on spot check (DC 25) to find a clear path to the city. At mid-distance a Githyanki patrol with the same number of PCs + 1 patrols the area (read Githyanki description below).
One of the Githyanki escapes before the battle to warn others of the intrusion. They arrive after the combat and chase the PCs to the gates of Liat’nghk, where the players will have five rounds to convince the Githzerai they are not Githyanki spies trying to infiltrate the city. (Diplomacy check DC 25/30 or bluff check vs. a Githzerai’s sense motive).
Once inside, they’re led to a room and introduced to Skrie Tr’eack (Pl/male Githzerai/F9/CN), military chief of the city. After listening to their story he’ll say they should retrace the Incubus’ steps. Skrie found out that whomever stole the swords went from the Astral to Plague-Mort.
“A’right, here’s the plan. We’ll create a distraction on the east side of Liat’nghk while you escape with 3 of our warriors. They’ll get you to Limbo and from there guide you to Xaos, from where you can go to Plague-Mort.”
Githzerai (3): CR 1; Medium-Size Outsider (6½ feet tall); HD 1d8; hp 4; Init +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 18 (+3 Dex, +4 Inertial Armor); Atk +1 melee (1d4, dagger), +4 ranged (1d4, sling); SQ psionics, PR 6; AL LN; SV Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +3; Str 10, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 11.
Skills: Concentration +4, Search +2
Feats: Inertial Armor
SQ – Psionics (Sp): At will – combat prescience, far punch, and feather fall. Abilities are as powers manifested by a 16th level psion.
SQ – Attack Modes/Defense Modes (Sp): At will – ego whip/mental barrier
From the oven to the frying pan
Finding Blue Jareal proves to be quite an easy job. He owns a considerably famous shop called “White Hag’s Forge” although he’s been in Plague-Mort for less than a year. Some of the Tanar’ri mistrust him, but since nothing confirming their suspicions that he’s a spy for the Baatezu or Yugoloths has showed up, they leave him alone. His shop is frequented by many planewalkers, and even some smithies from the Zess’ Forge come here once in a while.
The tiefling will bring the PCs to a room on the basement where weapons are stored. He has been paid by Vlaarik to give them equipment and information on Tryi’ra. Blue Jareal was indeed contacted by the Incubus but didn’t accept hiding the swords lest he would have problems with the Githyanki and other Tanar’ri. But he gave him the name of a contact of his in Sigil who could help him. According to the tiefling, Djaric Stoievic (Pr/male human/T4/xaositecs/CE) has a warehouse on the Lower ward where the Incubus could keep the swords. Jareal will give the players the address to the storehouse. He will also tell them that the contact Tryi’ra is waiting for is a Glabrezu.
Now the PCs are back in Sigil. The Harmonium is still after them, as are some Githyanki. The party will have to find a way to get to Djaric’s place without attracting attention. In front of the storehouse four guards (Pl/male and female human/F5/CN-NE-CE) watch the front entrance. Other two guards (Pl/male human/F7/CE) guard the back entrance. If the PCs search the rooftop they’ll find an entrance through the ventilation system. It leads to the second floor of the storehouse (see map bellow).
Inside the storehouse there is no light. There are several crates on the floor and a ramp leading to the second floor, where Dah’nh could be imprisoned. On the upper floor there is a room where Tryi’ra waits for his contact to show up. The PCs can either try to deceive into believing they are his contact. Their only other chance of taking the swords with them is killing him. If they search the room (DC 20) they’ll find a hidden door that leads to Erlin’gt’s cell and on also Tryi’ra’s plans (DC 20).
After fetching the swords and Erlin’gt, Vlaarik shows up with 2d4 Amatulas. They lock the party with the smithy and leave one of the Tieflings to guard the cell.
If the party hasn’t learned about the objective behind all this, they can try to charm the guard into telling them. Escaping the cell shouldn’t be difficult. Once the PCs escape, Erlin’gt suggests they should go to the Githyanki in the Astral in order to tell them what’s going on. Despite hating to admit it, he knows the Githzerai are no guiltier than the Githyanki themselves. Back in the astral, and with Erlin’gt by their side to back their story up, they convince the Githyanki of the truth behind the theft and kidnapping and strike a truce between the Githyankis and the Githzerais.
Should the PCs treat the smithy badly, he will try to find other Githyanki in Sigil, and when they try to deal with the Githyankis on the Astral he will say the players were acting with Tryi’ra and tried to cheat on him, thus being locked up with him. The Githyankis can still be persuaded, but they’ll need more proof, like the plans for instance.
The Great Battle
In less than a week the Baatezu come to the Astral with an army and a backup force of Illithids. The fiends had strike a deal with them, promising a chance to clean at least part of the Astral from their former slaves, and perhaps even have it back. The Gith army (composed of 3,000 Githzerais and 7,000 Githyankis) is larger than the Baatezu-Illithid army (about 6,000 total) is, but it is still a tough battle. In the end, there should be about 1,000 Githzerais, 4,000 Githyankis, and the remaining Baatezu-Illithid summing up to 1,000.
If the PCs killed Tryi’ra, the Tanar’ri will discover where they are and attack the Astral with an army of about 4,000 Tanar’ri. Liat’nghk is caught in between the two armies. But when the Tanar’ri see the Baatezu they’ll forget their purpose and attack their hated enemies, thus leaving the Illithids to fight the Gith army. In such an event, the Gith army shouldn’t be larger than 7,000 warriors and the Illithid force should be composed of about 3,000 Illithids.
In the end, the PCs will have been from Sigil to the Astral, with stops on the Outlands and Limbo. They’ve stopped a plan to use the Astral as a highway to the Blood War and strike a truce between the Githyanki and the Githzerai. They just managed to keep the balance on the multiverse. Whether it was worthy or not, that’s up to the players to decide.
CR 8; Medium-Size Aberration (6 ft. tall); HD 8d8+8; hp 44; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+2 Dex, +3 natural); Atk +8 melee (1d4+1, 4 tentacles); SA mind blast, psionics, improved grab, extract; SQ SR 25, telepathy; AL LE; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +9; Str 12, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 19, Wis 17, Cha 17.
Skills: Bluff +8, Concentration +12, Hide +8, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (any two) +9, Listen +10, Move Silently +7, Spot +10
Feats: Alertness, Combat Casting, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse (tentacle)
SA –Mind Blast (Sp): This attack is a cone 60 feet long. Anyone caught in this cone must succeed at a Will save (DC 17) or be stunned for 3d4 rounds. Mind flayers often hunt using this power and then drag off one or two of their stunned victims to feed upon.
SA –Psionics (Sp): At will – astral projection, charm monster, detect thoughts, levitate, plane shift, and suggestion. These abilities are as the spells cast by a 8th level sorcerer (save DC 13 + spell level).
SA –Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the mind flayer must hit a Small to Large creature with its tentacle attack. If it gets a hold, it attaches the tentacle to the opponent’s head. A mind flayer can grab a Huge or larger creature, but only if it can somehow reach the foe’s head.
After a successful grab, the mind flayer can try to attach its remaining tentacles with a single grapple check. The opponent can escape with a successful grapple check or Escape Artist check, but the mind flayer gets a +2 circumstance bonus for every tentacle that was attached at the beginning of the opponent’s turn.
SA –Extract (Ex): A mind flayer that begins its turn with all four tentacles attached and successfully maintains its hold automatically extracts the opponent’s brain, instantly killing that creature.
SQ –Telepathy (Su): Mind flayers can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet that has a language.
By Bruce R. Cordell, as taken from the Psionics Handbook.
Medium-Size Outsider (Evil)
Hit Dice: 1d8+1 (5 hp)
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 16 (+1 Dex, +5 breastplate)
Attacks: Masterwork greatsword +3 melee; or composite longbow +3 ranged
Damage: Greatsword 2d6; or composite longbow 1d8
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Qualities: Psionics, power resistance (variable, see text)
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 10
Skills: Craft (weaponsmithing) +2, Craft (armorsmithing) +2, Search +3
Feats: Weapon Focus (greatsword)
Climate/Terrain: Any land and underground
Organization: Company (2 to 4 3rd-level fighters or psionic warriors), squad (11 to 20 3rd level fighters or psionic warriors, plus 2 7th-level sergeants, 1 9th-level captain, and 1 young red dragon), or regiment (30 to 100 3rd-level fighters or psionic warriors, plus 1 7th-level sergeant per 10 members, 5 7th-level lieutenants, 3 9th-level captains, 1 16th-level supreme leader, and 1 adult red dragon per 30 members)
Challenge Rating: 1
Alignment: Always evil (any)
Advancement: By character class
Githyanki are an ancient line of humanlike beings who reside in the Astral Plane, filling their armories for their next skirmish, raid, or war.
Githyanki are gaunt, averaging 6 1/4 feet tall and typically weighing around 170 pounds. They possess rough, yellow skin and black hair that is often pulled into one or more topknots. Their eyes gleam darkly, and their ears are pointed and serrated in back. They enjoy elaborate dress and baroque armor. In fact, they revere weapons and armor, and it is not uncommon for githyanki to show more regard for their panoply than for a mate.
Githyanki speak their own secret tongue, but most also know Common and Draconic. Like dwarves, githyanki are craftmasters, although they focus exclusively on items of warfare. Their items are distinctive, and non-githyanki who acquire them run the risk of immediate retribution should they encounter githyanki.
Most githyanki encountered outside their homes are fighters or psionic warriors; however, psions, wizards (called "warlocks"), and multi-class githyanki (called gish) are not uncommon.
Githyanki are are seasoned warriors and well familiar with the tactical use of ambush, cover, and psionic sniper attacks from afar. However, they prefer to engage their enemies hand-to-hand so they can bring their devastating melee weapons to bear. Githyanki weapons are usually greatswords, bastard swords, and other particularly large-bladed weapons of special githyanki manufacture; all masterworks and each distinctively decorated and named. Githyanki psions and wizards direct their powers with pinpoint accuracy to support their comrades in melee.
Psionics (Sp): Manifest freely (at will)—Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Telekinesis, and Dimension Slide. Upon advancing to 8th level in any class (or combination of classes), a githyanki can use Plane Shift once per day. These effects are as the powers manifested by a 16th-level psion.
Attack Modes/Defense Modes (Sp): Manifest freely (at will)— Mind Thrust/Empty Mind.
Power Resistance (Ex): A githyanki has power resistance of 5 + 1 per character level.
These impressive weapons are carried by githyanki combatants of 7th level and higher. Of githyanki make, a silver sword is a +3 greatsword that looks much like a standard githyanki weapon. However, when drawn in melee, the blade transforms into a column of silvery liquid, altering the weapon’s balance round by round as the blade’s shape flows and shimmers. In the hands of someone without the appropriate Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat, the weapon is clumsy (–4 penalty to attack rolls) and possesses only its enhancement bonus. A proficient user on the Astral Plane, however, is able to attack the silver cord that connects many astral travelers to their physical forms; the normally insubstantial cord is treated as a tangible object with hardness 10 and 20 hit points (see "Attack an Object" on page 135 in the Player’s Handbook). Attacking the silver cord draws an attack of opportunity from the astral traveler.
A silver cord visibly trails 5 feet behind an astral traveler before fading into the astral medium. When the cord is damaged, the astral traveler must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 13) or be immediately forced to return to its body—which might be a good idea anyway if the traveler is not up to fighting githyanki on their home plane. If the silver cord is completely severed, the creature’s material body (and astral echo) is slain instantly. The cords of travelers with the Mind Blank power active are immune to silver swords.
If a silver sword falls into the hands of a non-githyanki, githyanki will kill the possessor if they can, steal it if they have to, negotiate if they must, or ally with the thief’s most potent foe as a last resort. Silver swords with an enhancement bonus of +5 and vorpal characteristics exist, but these are minor artifacts, relatively few, and only handed down to heroes of the race.
Manifester Level: 11th; Prerequisites: Craft Psionic Arms and Armor, creator must be a githyanki; Market Price: 98,350 gp; Cost to Create: 49,000 gp + 3920 XP.
Mind flayers enslaved entire races, including the githyanki forerunners. Centuries of captivity bred hate, nurtured resolve, and finally instilled psionic powers. With mental armaments of their own and a powerful leader to rally behind (the legendary Gith), the slaves instigated a crossplanar struggle that, in the end, threw down the mind flayer empire, bringing freedom to the surviving slaves. Unfortunately, the former slaves soon split into the racially distinct githyanki and their mortal enemies, the githzerai. Each constantly attempts the extinction of the other. This animosity has burned through the centuries, warping the githyanki into the evil, militaristic creatures they are today. Both peoples’ hatred of the mind flayers knows no bounds, though, and they will break off hostilities to slay illithids if the opportunity presents itself.
Githyanki live within massive fortresses adrift in the Astral Plane. Here they conduct commerce, manufacture goods, grow food, and live out their lives. Family dwellings are nonexistent, as most githyanki prefer their own abode; however, githyanki are often found in groups, honing their fighting skills. A githyanki fortress contains noncombatants (mostly children) equal to 20% of the fighting population. Githyanki males and females may be found in almost any role or class.
The githyanki have no deity but instead pay homage to a lich-queen. A jealous and paranoid overlord, she devours the essence of any githyanki that rises above the 16th level of ability in any class (or combination of classes). Besides eliminating potential rivals, the lich-queen enhances her power with the stolen life essence.
Red Dragon Pact: Githyanki have a racial pact with red dragons, who sometimes serve them as steeds. Individually, githyanki gain a +4 racial bonus to Diplomacy checks when dealing with red dragons. In large groups, they can make temporary alliances with red dragons at the DM’s option (see Organization, above).
A githyanki can choose fighter or psychic warrior as the favored character class. Githyanki are never clerics, unless they’ve forsworn the dreaded lich-queen (which is a dangerous and ultimately lethal choice).