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The Circlet of Gith
Author: Christopher Allen
System: D&D Planescape
Long ago, the gith races broke free of the mental bonds of slavery to the mind flayers. In that time, heroes were created and wars fought, as gith fought to free her people. The circlet of gith, a sacred and holy artifact of that time, fell into the possession of the mind flayers and for a long time was considered lost. Now though, its location has been rediscovered and the search is on…
This adventure takes place in the Planescape setting of the Outer Planes. It is designed for use with 3rd edition rules, and is suited to a party of four 8th level characters, although it can be easily modified to suit parties of greater of lesser strength. The classical mix of characters, the wizard, rogue, fighter and cleric, is preferable due to the flexibility it gives but is in no way necessary for successful completion or enjoyment of the adventure.
The Circlet of Gith leads the party along the trail of a band of githyanki who search for an ancient artifact, from their base in Sigil to the Outlands, and from there to the hiding place of the Circlet itself...
The history of the gith races has been one full of struggle and turmoil, right from the very beginning of their existence as free peoples – though some would argue that the githyanki’s servitude to the lich queen and the githzerai’s servitude to their king hardly makes either race truly free. The greatest period of the two races was when they first broke away from their illithid masters, when they fought as one people against the mental chains that had bonded them – and won.
That was a time of heroes, legends, and mighty victories over the mind flayers - a time before the schism between the githzerai and the githyanki, when Zerthimon and Gith fought together. Many relics and objects of that time have made their ways down the generations, each with its own unique history. Swords wielded by ancestors, amulets touched by Zerthimon...and the Circlet of Gith.
A simple steel circlet, it is said that this was worn by Gith herself, but that during the internal war that split the gith races it was lost for a long time. It eventually resurfaced in the hands of the githyanki, who treasured it greatly and revered it, and made use of its incredible powers to fight both the mind flayers, against whom the item seemed to have extraordinary might, and against others too. The progress made by the githyanki led to the illithids trying to capture it and, in a mighty battle in the astral plane, they managed it. The Circlet was lost, and never seen again.
In fact, the illithids took the artifact and hid it in the Outlands. Originally, they had planned to destroy it for good, but it burned the skin of any illithid who touched it and any mind-slave who took hold was instantly freed of his mental shackles and able to make use of its destructive capabilities. In the end, they managed to get it into a small, secluded cave system, where they sealed it off and placed guardians that the githyanki might not retake it easily.
Attempts by the githyanki to find it once more all failed, though it remained as a great legend amongst the people and often-young githyanki would go searching for it. Slowly, knowledge of it faded and it seemed a safe bet that the Circlet would never be returned to its original owners. Yet recent developments have changed all this…
It was not long ago that a small band of githyanki slavers operating out of Sigil recovered, from the archives of the Fated, several documents that detailed the whereabouts of the Circlet of Gith. Exactly how these documents came about being in the possession of the Fated is unknown, but perhaps the illithids lost them to the hands of thieves, or maybe a mind flayer stored them there for later recovery. Now, the band, led by a charismatic leader called Karyakt, is heading the renewed search for the Circlet. And this time they could well find it.
There have been complications though. The Circlet is a legend amongst the githzerai too, and they would do anything to get their hands on this ancient spiritual symbol and powerful object. The gith of Limbo were never able to get hold of the Circlet but once it was lost several small orders of monks dedicated their purposes to tracking it down when the githyanki failed to recover it. Agents of the orders insinuated themselves across the planes, yet the mind flayers had hidden it well and little progress was made. However, when the githyanki came to the Hall of Records, one of the monks, posing as a Fated, realized what had been found and attempted to appropriate the documents. Unfortunately, the githyanki discovered him and chased him off.
Now both the githzerai and the githyanki know the approximate whereabouts of the Circlet. The githyanki are in a much stronger position as they have troops ready to move and an easily accessible portal to the area where the Circlet is hidden, while the githzerai have only scattered agents in Sigil and gathering a proper force could take too long. So it is that they are instead looking for mercenaries or adventurers, who might be willing to take the risk in retrieving the Circlet, for the right price of course…
The adventure begins with a message, written on yellowed parchment in elaborate handwriting. How this makes it’s way to the attention of the characters will depend on the campaign itself – they might come across it on a notice board somewhere, in a tavern or somewhere similar. Alternatively, if the characters have made some small (or great!) fame for themselves as adventurers or mercenaries then it may be directly sent to them.
This message in fact comes from Akkar-Zin, a githzerai monk and the agent who found out about the documents on the Circlet (githzerai male, mnk 3). He has been desperately seeking some mercenaries or adventurers to help him out in stopping the githyanki. The message is as follows:
I ask for bloods willing to fight for the cause of right, for a wronged people who have suffered the most grievous crime of theft, and who would gladly pay well to the good people who retrieved the object in question. This will entail fighting the githyanki, foul tyrants of the astral plane, for great reward of many precious stones.
– Akkar-Zin, acolyte of the Order of the Circlet
The note includes an address in the Lower Ward at the bottom. Should the players wish to investigate this offer further, they will need to travel to Akkar-Zin’s kip.
The lodgings of the githzerai monk Akkar-Zin are situated in the Lower Ward, not far from the Great Foundry. The air is thick with smoke and ash, and every so often still-burning embers can be seen floating down. The entire area has a very pungent odor all of its own. Here, down a small street partially full of refuse and with only a handful of beggars wandering pitifully around, is the dilapidated house that the address on the note has led the characters to.
The house itself has only a single floor – it once had more but the supports have rotted away and so now only the skeleton of struts sticks up, bereft of any walls or floors. Like so many other kips in the Lower Ward, it too is decrepit and looks like the rest of it might fall down in any moment. When the characters approach, they find that the door is unlocked – indeed, there is no lock anymore, as the old one rusted to pieces. Opening the door reveals a dark and musty hallway ahead with several doors off, and a successful Listen check (DC 15) alerts the listener to the sound of a groan and a thump beyond one of those doors.
There are three doors here, but two lead only to old storerooms full of junk and rubble. The third leads to Akkar-Zin’s quarters, and now a harsh and grating language can be heard on the other side. Anyone who knows the githyanki language will recognize it as such, but will be unable to make out the details as it isn’t very clear from behind the door – however, the word ‘githzerai’ can be made out easily, spoken as it is with such venom and hatred.
In the room beyond, is in fact three githyanki soldiers, and Akkar-Zin. The githyanki tracked Akkar-Zin down after they discovered he too knew of the documents in the Hall of Records, but he managed to write the note asking for assistance before they got to him. The characters have arrived just in time. Upon entering they find the three soldiers standing around the fallen and groaning body of the githzerai monk, weapons drawn. One is ready to deal the finishing blow but they seem to be conversing at the moment. Upon the entry of the player characters, the three githyanki instantly attack them; they want to leave no witnesses to this, and assume the characters to have come to aid the githzerai. The room itself is small and cluttered, with a desk and a bed taking up most of the space and only a small, grimy window. This lack of space for maneuvering means that ranged weapons are not really an option, except small ones such as hand crossbows and throwing knives, and area effect spells too will not be viable. The three githyanki all attack with swords.
Githyanki Soldier, lvl 3 fighter: CR 4; SZ M (Outsider); 24 hp; Init +5; Spd 30; AC 16 (+5 breastplate, +1 dex); Atk Masterwork Greatsword +5 melee (2d6) or masterwork composite longbow +6 ranged (1d8); Face 5ft x 5ft; Reach 5ft; SA none; SQ Psionics, Power Resistance 8; AL NE; Saves Fort +4 Ref +2 Will +0; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 10
Skills: Craft (Weaponsmithing) +3, Craft (Armorsmithing) +3, Search +3
Feats: Weapon Focus – Greatsword, Weapon Focus – Composite Longbow, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative
(Note that this stat block will be used for all normal githyanki soldiers throughout the adventure).
The soldiers each carry a potion of cure moderate wounds and a potion of bulls strength, and one wields a greatsword +1 forged in the Astral plane. They also have 600 gp’s between them, as well as a single topaz and amethyst.
Once the threat has been dealt with, Akkar-Zin pulls himself up from the floor and sits himself on the bed, thanking the characters profusely for saving him. He is currently in bad shape after the beating the githyanki gave him, and is on 4 hit points. He begins by asking if the characters came about the message – if so he will get down to business quickly.
The tale Akkar-Zin spins is somewhat different to the truth. He tells of how the Circlet of Gith was an ancient artifact from the birth of the gith races – true. However, he then goes on to detail how it resided in his order’s monastery for many decades, until a recent githyanki raid which destroyed much of the monastery and resulted in the Circlet being taken. He claims to have tracked the commander of the githyanki force down, finding him in Sigil at the head of a group of slavers, and asks the player characters if they would retrieve the Circlet from the commander. He explains that the githyanki they have just killed were sent to deal with him because they knew he was on their tale.
The reason Akkar-Zin is saying all this is because he wants to kill two birds with one stone – remove the githyanki band, and recover the Circlet from the illithids. He is banking on them trailing down the githyanki to the Circlet, since he knows that they haven’t found it yet either. The reason why, as yet, he makes no mention of the illithids is because – fairly enough – he reckons the characters will be somewhat leery of taking on illithids, and so hopes to guide them into the conflict to act on his behalf through a little bit of manipulation.
He offers payment of a single ruby (worth 1,000gp’s) to each character right away, with another 2,000gp’s payment afterwards for successful completion of the task. If they accept, then he gives them the address of the slavers compound, and gives them a few other pieces of information:
· The leader of the githyanki band is in fact a half-dragon, the spawn of a union between a githyanki knight and a red dragon.
· He has a fairly powerful warlock – a githyanki mage – amongst his lieutenants.
· The slavers compound is in the Lower Ward, in an area particularly notorious for being a dangerous locale, hence the chances of meeting any Hardheads are virtually zero – however, the party should be wary of the street gangs that prowl the area.
Akkar-Zin then urges the party to go quickly, and to return to him once they are finished. If he is not at the house he will be waiting for them in the Civic Festhall.
The slavers compound is situated far across the Lower Ward, and is quick a walk on foot. As the party enters the area in which it is to be found they will notice the general degradation of the houses and streets around them, to an even greater level than is normally found in the Ward. The area is situated right next to the Hive Ward, and boundaries here are blurred.
The DM may wish to throw in a random encounter or two here, though gangs of street thugs are unlikely to prove much of a challenge to level 8 characters, and the savvy scum of the street would most likely leave them well alone to get on with their business. With or without interruption, then, the party will eventually arrive at the compound.
This is a soot-stained redbrick house; square and solid with barred windows and a high wall surrounding it. Razor-vine grows thickly here, but a lone dabus can be seen stoically cutting it back. A single wooden gate in each wall leads in, but has a githyanki soldier guarding it.
The actual slaver band itself is made up entirely of githyanki, all part of the same party under the red half-dragon commander Karyakt. They have set up shop in Sigil a while ago, and use this building as a base for their operations. There is one unique feature about this company though – they go out into the streets of the hive and the area around the compound, and capture only criminals for slavery. Only someone who is seen committing a crime before the eyes of one of the soldiers may be taken, so the slave pens are full of murderers and felons.
The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it satisfies the warped sense of justice that Karyakt seems to have, since he believes that such criminals have forfeited their rights. Secondly, such slaves prove good fodder for battles and the Blood War. The truth is the slaves are just a way to make some extra money for the search for the Circlet, rather than the business being an end in itself.
Currently Karyakt has gone to the Outlands following the directions of the documents from the Hall of Records, and has left the warlock in command. They know that the githzerai found out about the documents too and so are somewhat on edge and expecting an attack.
Upon gaining entry to the compound in whatever manner, the four githzerai in the courtyard area (one at each gate) start yelling and trying to raise the alarm, and move to engage the party. In the courtyard are many large cages holding the slaves, who look downtrodden and despondent.
None of the githzerai have the keys to the cages, though the slaves are eager to be freed and urge the characters on. However, they do each carry a potion of cure moderate wounds and a potion of endurance. Also, one wears a breastplate +1 forged in the Astral, and they have 850 gp’s.
Entering the main room on the lower floor, the characters will be met by 3 githzerai soldiers and a gish. If the guards sounded the alarm, then they will be ready and waiting for the party, and if the battle outside takes too long (more than 6 rounds) then this group will themselves sally out to attack. The main room is large but cold and with bare brick walls for decoration – the only thing of note is a round wooden table in the middle where the githyanki sit at low stools. Four old wooden doors lead on to smaller chambers, which are used as living quarters for the soldiers, and a spiral staircase of cast iron and covered with peeling black paint, is in one corner.
Githyanki Gish (lvl 2 fighter, lvl 2 wizard): CR 5; SZ M (Outsider); 24 hp; Init +2; Spd 30; AC 13 (+2 dex, +1 padded leather); Atk Masterwork Greatsword = 5 melee (2d6) or masterwork composite longbow +6 ranged (1d8); Face 5ft x 5ft; reach 5ft; SA Spells; SQ Spells, Psionics, Power Resistance 9; AL NE; Saves Fort +4 Ref +2 Will +3; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 11
Skills: Spellcraft +8, Craft (weaponsmithing) +5, Craft (Armorsmithing) +5, Concentration +7, Search +5
Feats: Weapon Focus – Greatsword, Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Expertise.
(Note that all gish throughout the adventure will use these stats).
The Gish has the following spells memorized: Resistance, Detect Magic, Daze, Ray of Frost, True Strike, Shield, Rat of Enfeeblement. All spells have a DC of 12 + spell level.
The gish carries a potion of intelligence, a potion of cure serious wounds and a scroll with burning hands and mage armor on it. He also carries a wand of magic missiles (5th level caster) with 30 charges remaining, and a gold amulet worth 270 gp’s. Each soldier carries 2 potions of cure moderate wounds, and they have between them 850 gp’s.
The four rooms contain:
1: A bunk bed. Apart from this, there is nothing of interest.
2: A bunk bed. A small chest holds 75 gp’s and an amethyst. It is locked (DC 20).
3: A bunk bed. A small cloth bag holds a dagger +1 (forged in Sigil) and 50 gp’s.
4: A storeroom, full of crates and boxes. 2 potions of cure light wounds and one of cats grace are on a shelf here.
Up the stairs brings the party to a long hall, with another four doors off it, and a fifth and larger, metal bound door at the end. A small ladder in an alcove leads up onto the roof, though there is nothing of interest up there. The four normal doors lead to:
1: A sparsely furnished room, with a bunk bed in it. A rusty metal locker holds 2 masterwork longswords, and 5 arrows of fire.
2: A room with hides on the floor and walls, and a single bed – this is Karyacts room. A small chest holds a silver amulet worth 100 gp’s and a small ruby (only worth 500 gp’s) – from his red dragon parent.
3: A spacious room with many weapons racks. Mostly composite longbows, arrows, longspears, greatswords and battleaxes.
4: A makeshift kitchen and table for eating at. The cupboards contain only foodstuffs.
The fifth door leads to the room of the warlock, Yakred or ‘Yakred the Dark’, as he likes to be known. The room is spacious and dominated by a large desk and a number of shelves, with scraps of document and scrolls scattered around the place. If the alarm was sounded then Yakred will be ready and all spells marked with an asterisk will have already been cast. If the party have managed to get this far without making any significant racket, then he will instead be seated at his desk scribbling down in a book, but without any spells ready. As the characters explore the corridor and rooms outside, though, he is likely to be alerted and thus they will not get a surprise round.
Warlock (lvl 7 wizard): CR 8; SZ M (Outsider); 33 hp; Init +2; Spd 30; AC 15 (+2 dex, +3 magic items); Atk Staff +4 (d6+1, +d6 cold); Face 5ft x 5ft; Reach 5ft; SA Spells; SQ Spells, Psionics, Power Resistance 12; AL LE; Saves Fort +4 Ref +4 Will +8; Str 9, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 10
Skills: Spellcraft +13, Concentration +12, Craft (Weaponsmithing) +5, Scrying +8, Search +8, Sense Motive +6
Feats: Combat Casting, Scribe Scroll, Iron Will, Craft Wondrous Item, Empower Spell.
Yakred has the following spells memorized: Resistance*, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Daze, Magic Missile, Shield*, Mage Armor*, Ray of Enfeeblement, Charm Person, Mirror Image*, Blur*, Melfs Acid Arrow, Invisibility*, Empowered Magic Missile, Lightning Bolt, Suggestion, Polymorph Other.
Yakred wields an Ebon Staff, a quarterstaff +2 of frost that can cast darkness 3 times per day as a 7th level caster. He wears bracers of armor +2, a ring of protection +1, and an emerald ring worth 1,100 gp’s, and also carries two scrolls of hold person and 700 gp’s.
With the warlock dead (or at least subdued) the characters will be free to explore his room, finding his treasures and also a number of documents and letters. Though the documents from the Hall of Records are not here, several other documents will doubtless draw their attention. First is a letter from the half-dragon commander.
We have made our way to the area in the Plane of Concordant opposition designated by the documents, using the portal in Crier Street by the Great Foundry. With any luck we will find the entrance soon – we were attacked by one of the hated illithids last night, but we drove it off with fair ease. From this I guess that we must be close now. Make sure that you deal with the githzerai agent from the Hall before he manages to get reinforcements to impede our progress.
I may require your own presence here to aid us in the search if this takes much longer, so leave gish Teklai in command and come to the portal with the key – a piece of lizard skin. You should be able to find the camp fairly easily.
Another document that may attract the characters' attention is a logbook of the prisoners. Here it details their name, number, and crime.
Markos, 125: murdered a tiefling girl.
Cristof, 126: mugged and murdered an old lady.
Littak, 127: raped a barmaid.
Peter, 128: Attacked one of our soldiers, threatening to kill him.
Grashnun, 129: Burgled a house.
The list goes on, detailing dozens, each with their crime. The keys for the cages are also here.
Now the party will have a lead as to where the githyanki commander is, but they will also be faced with a dilemma. This isn’t a simple ‘free the slaves’ scenario – each of the slaves is a criminal, often having committed a fairly brutal crime. Do they free the slaves? Surely letting so many criminals get off free isn’t right – but then again, just leaving them in the cages to rot is hardly a good deed either. And going to the authorities isn’t necessarily a good idea, as unless the party contains a member one of the law enforcement triad of factions then they are as likely to get arrested for killing the slavers, who were not acting illegally. Even if they were, that doesn’t justify the party killing them all. How the characters solve this will depend on their personalities and natures.
The portal to the Outlands is easy to find – a metal arch over Crier Street, activated by a piece of lizard skin (where they get the skin from is up to the players, though it shouldn’t be hard to find). Upon stepping through to the other side, the first thing that will hit the characters will be the heat.
The portal has deposited them in the Outlands, two rings in from the outer area thus meaning that level 8 and 9 spells will not work (though it is unlikely that the characters will have access to such spells at level 8, except perhaps through scrolls). However, few people live in this area, and it is not part of any god’s realm.
Rather, it is desolate and dry, and the barren landscape of slightly undulating hills is covered with the bones of some gigantic beasts. It appears to be a sort of ‘elephant graveyard’ for whatever these things are – or were, as no living ones are present – and the towering rib cages and massive skulls dominate the view. Because of all this debris everywhere, there are plenty of hiding places and it is necessary to proceed carefully. The portal itself is two mighty rib bones curving overhead and touching each other straight above.
However, the party will not have escaped notice – the githyanki patrols in the area are aided by Fosforus, a young red dragon, who flies around and scouts. Up in the air, he has spied the shimmering of the portal and the movement of the party, and a successful Listen check (DC 16) allows the character to hear his distant cry to the githyanki on the ground, to alert them. A further Spot check (DC 15) will pick the small silhouette out in the sky.
Once he has alerted his patrol, the overconfident Fosforus dives down to attack. He is a young red dragon (see the Monster Manual for details and stats). As he can cast spells as a level 1 sorcerer, the one spell he knows is Summon Monster I, which he uses to summon creatures with which to distract the party.
On the fifth round, two githyanki soldiers arrive. They use their bows to attack from range and support the dragon, picking off any spellslingers or other supporting characters. If things are going too badly for Fosforus they will charge to attack with their greatswords. Each carries a potion of cure moderate wounds, a potion of endurance, a potion of aid, and between them they have 500 gp’s.
Once the battle is over, the tracks that the githyanki soldiers left are clear and can be followed easily across the dusty ground. The DM may, If he so wishes, throw in some random encounters with the strange denizens of this area. In addition, a successful Wilderness Lore check (DC 15) will find the tracks of several other githyanki that cross the patrols tracks – actually the footprints of other patrol groups.
The Githyanki Camp:
The tracks of the patrol lead back to the camp that the githyanki are using as a base of operations. It is made up of a number of sprawled out tents, dominated by a large one in the center, and boxes and crates of supplies and waters are scattered around the area. There are always four guards wandering the area, and they are especially alert after a recent encounter with an illithid who was scouting around. Approaching the camp in broad view will instantly provoke an attack by these four who will yell to raise the alarm, before opening fire with bows if possible. However, by making use of the skeletons and bones everywhere there is a better chance of launching a surprise attack. The soldiers each carry a potion of cure moderate wounds, one carries 10 arrows +2, and they have 1,250 gp’s. In a chest in one of the tents are two more potions of cure moderate wounds, 2 potions of endurance, and a potion of invisibility, and a small bag in another holds 50 gp’s, a jasper and a jade.
In the central tent are Karyakt and two gish lieutenants, planning. Upon the sound of battle outside, they will prepare themselves for battle – if after 10 rounds the battle is not yet over they will leave the tent and attack. If on the other hand the githyanki guards are killed within 10 rounds they will remain in the tent and attack anyone who enters, figuring it will be safer that way.
Karyact, red half-dragon half-githyanki (lvl 4 fighter): CR 7; SZ M (Dragon); 44 hp; Init +2; Spd 30; AC 23 (+7 breastplate, +2 dex, +4 natural armor); Atk Greatsword +13 (2d6+10 +d6 fire); Face 5ft x 5ft; reach 5ft; SA Breath Weapon; SQ Psionics, PR 9, Immune to Fire; AL LE; Saves Fort +8 Ref +4 Will +2; Str 22, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 16
Skills: Craft (weaponsmithing) +7, Craft (armorsmithing) +7, Search +6, Jump +2
Feats: Weapon Focus – Greatsword, Weapon Specialization – Greatsword, Power Attack, Expertise, Dodge.
See the Monster Manual for details on half-dragons. Karyact carries a greatsword +2 of flaming burst forged in the Outlands, a breastplate +2 forged in the Outlands, and potions of cure moderate wounds, and cure serious wounds. He also wears a pair of Brimstone Boots, a silver ring (50 gp’s), a gold ring (100 gp’s), a ruby pendant (1,100 gp’s) and a cloak of resistance +1 (bonus included on stat block). The Brimstone Boots are a pair of heavy leather boots that look blackened and burned – once per day they can invoke a fire shield spell as a 7th level caster upon the correct command word. In his money pouch is 1,300 gp’s.
The gish each carry a greatsword +1 forged in the Astral, a shield scroll and a potion of cure serious wounds. One also carries a potion of haste. Between them, they have 2,300 gp’s. Each has the following spells memorized: Resistance, Daze, Flare, Light, True Strike, Mage Armor, Ray of Enfeeblement.
In addition, should the battle last 7 rounds or longer then a nearby patrol of two githyanki warriors will hear the conflict and come to investigate, arriving within 3 rounds.
In combat, Karyakt rushes in as soon as he can after activating the Brimstone Boots, where with his impressive strength and array of magic items he is a force to be reckoned with. The two gish stay back to give support with spells before they will join the melee. They will try at all costs to aid Karyakt, especially if he is faring badly.
As well as the treasure that can be recovered from the battle, the documents from the Hall of Records are here. Careful study shows that they reveal the area of the Outlands in which the Circlet is hidden (this area), and that it is hidden in a cave in this area. At this point the players may well realize for certain that Akkar-Zin has been lying to them on at least a few points...
The Mind Thief:
Notes scrawled on a piece of parchment show the rotation for the githyanki patrols and none are due back in for at least a day. Since by this time it will be getting quite dark it would be advisable for the party to make camp, either in the githyanki camp (though perhaps they will be a little leery of doing this) or nearby. If instead they choose to search for the entrance to the cave, they are extremely unlikely to find it, especially in the dark.
Assuming that the party makes camp, then they will be attacked once during the night. The cave containing the Circlet is indeed nearby, but the illithids were hardly stupid enough to leave it unguarded. As the githyankis earlier encounter with a mind flayer indicated, there are some illithids still present.
Worried by the arrival of the githyanki – the threat that they might recapture the Circlet is a dangerous one – the mind flayers have been watching the intruders; and now the player characters as well. They want to find out what the party really knows about what’s going on, and even in the cool darkness they dislike walking this dry land to do the job personally. Instead, they send a skilled human assassin who has been mentally dominated to do the work for them, using a Mind Thief blade. These daggers are magically enchanted to drain some of the intelligence and memories out of anyone struck by them, and the knowledge thus taken can be accessed by any illithid who holds the blade. Thus the assassins task is to attack the party until the blade has enough information – he will stop once either a party member is dead or he has drained 10 points of Intelligence, whereupon he will try to escape.
Human Assassin (lvl 8 rogue): CR *; SZ M (humanoid); 38 hp; Init +4; AC 16 (+4 dex, +2 leather armor); Atk Dagger + 12/+7 (d4+2 + intelligence drain); Face 5ft x 5ft; Reach 5ft; SA Sneak Attack +4d6; SQ Evasion, Uncanny Dodge; AL N; Saves Fort +3 Ref +12 Will +2; Str 11, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 8
Skills: Move Silently +15 (+25), Hide +15 (+25), Balance +12, Climb +14, Escape Artist +14, Listen +10, Spot +10, Search +12, Open Lock +14, Pick Pocket +14, Tumble +14
Feats: Lightning Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Finesse - Dagger
The assassin wears leather armor and carries a Mind Thief, a dagger +2 that on a successful hit inflicts d4+1 of temporary Intelligence damage to the target. He also wears a cloak of shadows (+10 circumstance bonus to hide) and boots of silence (+10 circumstance bonus to move silently).
The chances are that the party will have set up a watch, and also will be able to chase down the assassin. Whatever happens, in the morning his tracks will be clear in the dust, and the characters can follow them straight to the entrance of the cave.
The entrance to the caves where the Circlet of Gith is held is a narrow fissure in a piece of rock, in the side of a dry and stony gully. It is only a few feet wide, but even a man in full plate could squeeze through. To find it in the first place would be difficult except that the assassin left tracks to the bottom of the gully, and careful searching will find the entrance on a Search check DC 10 (they know that the entrance is around here somewhere, hence the low DC). Upon entering the passageway beyond the difference is immediate – cool wind slowly brushes past, and the air is moist. The sudden darkness is a shock to the eyes and up ahead the faint sound of dripping water can be heard.
The illithids will already be on the alert when their assassin failed to return the previous night – hence, when the party enters the first cave, its inhabitants will be ready. This wide cavern has moisture running down the walls and moss growing everywhere. A number of smaller caves lead off – these are the quarters of the grimlock servants and hold only refuse and trash, nothing of any value. The inhabitants are a single illithid and his 5 grimlock servants. The illithid is obviously injured – he was the one who tangled with the githyanki, and is on 25 hp – and will support from the back while the grimlocks do most of the fighting. He will mind blast characters even if there are grimlocks in the way, who might get caught too, as he has no care for the slave fodder. If the grimlocks are overwhelmed, he will try to retreat to the second cavern to rally with the illithid there. He carries 900 gp’s, a topaz, a potion of haste, a dusty rose ioun stone (+1 deflection bonus to AC), and scrolls of fireball and haste. See the Monster Manual for information on mind flayers and grimlocks.
The second cavern is interspersed by many stalactites and stalagmites, making visibility poor and allowing the illithid occupant to attack from cover easily. Unlike the one in the first cavern, this one is unhurt and ready for battle. It possesses 700 gp’s, a sapphire and an amber.
The final cavern is less damp than the others and is dominated at one end by the pile of fallen rubble that block off the entrance to the chamber where the Circlet of Gith is held. In the middle of the chamber, waiting for the party, is Inquisitor Vress.
Inquisitor Vress is the mind flayer in command here. Unlike the others, who are only in the caves temporarily before they are replaced by new guards, Vress has been here a long, long time; several hundred years in fact. And over that time, his attitudes have changed as he has thought and pondered in the nature of reality; the exposure to the Plane of Concordant Opposition has altered his alignment to True Neutral. He always stands somewhat aloof from the plots and intrigues of the other illithids who pass through, and has a considerably better understanding of the Circlet and what it can do.
When the party first enter, he will not meet them with combat but rather will hold out his palms in a placatory fashion and attempt to talk to them peacefully. If attacked he will defend himself, but if they choose to talk he will attempt to persuade them to leave the Circlet here. He informs the characters of the artifacts potential destructive power; if either the githyanki or githzerai were to get their hands on it, he invites them to consider the consequences. Doubtless, whoever got the Circlet would first turn it on the illithids; then they would use it against the other gith race. And what then? Imagine the damage that the githyanki would do with such an item – without their ancestral enemies they would be unchecked and would turn their evil on someone else, probably someone innocent. The githzerai would be no better, and he compares them as the lesser of two evils – they would cause as much suffering and destruction. Thus, he reasons, it is best to leave the Circlet here. Here it is safe from both gith races, and the mind flayers cannot make any use of it, so it is effectively nullified.
Vress argues in a calm, reasoned tone with rational arguments, but if this fails he will simply step back and allow the characters to set to work trying to get through the rock-fall. There are a number of ways of doing this, with a transmute rock to mud spell being the easiest. If necessary, the characters can always try to dig through, though any weapon used to do this must make a Fortitude save (DC 12) at the end – if it fails, it has been damaged beyond repair. Digging will, however, take several hours.
If at any point the characters look as if they are going to break through successfully, Vress will attack – he won’t allow this to happen. He is a normal mind flayer, but wears a cloak of charisma +4, a ring of protection +2, and two silver bracers (worth 400 gp’s as a pair). He also carries 600 gp’s.
Through the rock-fall, there is a small cave with a pedestal in the center – and on this pedestal is a simple metal band – the Circlet of Gith. Other than that, there is nothing in this dry, rocky chamber.
The Circlet is a powerful object, but most of its powers manifest only in the possession of a githzerai or githyanki. Any person who touches it who is under the mental control of an illithid instantly has that link broken. Further, any illithid who touches it takes 3d6 damage every round of contact, as the power of the Circlet attacks them and burns their flesh. Anyone wearing the Circlet gains a +3 resistance bonus to their saves.
In the hands of a githzerai or githyanki, it gains the following powers:
·The wearer gains a +3 luck bonus on all attacks against illithids, and becomes immune to their psionic powers.
·The wearer may cast the following spells once per day: Finger of Death, Circle of Death, Disintegrate, Destruction, Firestorm, Mass Charm, Power Word: Kill, Wish, and Time Stop. DC is 18 + spell level.
·The wearer gains a +4 enhancement bonus to both charisma and wisdom.
The party can now return to Sigil, using the same portal they came through – getting more lizard hide shouldn’t be a problem, as a few of the little creatures inhabit the area.
The party will doubtless want to go and see Akkar-Zin now, possibly to return the Circlet and doubtless to find out about why he was lying to them. They will also need to decide what to do with the Circlet – do they simply hand it over to the githzerai, and take no heed of Vress’s warnings? If they choose to give it to the monk, he will pay them the gold promised, before returning to Limbo with the artifact. But they may choose not to…if this is the case, then many more adventures can spring out of this. The githyanki will want the Circlet and so will the githzerai, and neither will be well inclined towards the characters. Then the mind flayers might want to retrieve it as well, leading to the party being dogged by all three groups. And if the Circlet does fall into the hands of the gith, then will what Vress predicted occur? If it does, then the characters will have to live with knowing that they were the cause of the destruction that follows…