Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus
Heroes Of The Key
Heroes Of The Key
The group of heroes who, thirty years ago, resurrected the god Dalt after he was killed by Vecna. They are also the same heroes who went on to defeat the archlich at Tovag Baragu. This is a summary, not a complete history of their exploits.
The Beginning of the Quest
Few sites in the all the Flanaess conjure up in the minds of the populace such images of dread, foreboding, and fear as does Doomgrinder. Widely believed to be some kind of mystical or cosmic clock counting down the years to the Oerth’s destruction, the structure’s origins – and purpose – remain completely unknown. Some sages disagree, whispering that it is some kind of terrible war engine created by a long-dead civilization to annihilate their foes; these theories are widely derided as the fanciful mutterings of old and senile men. Nevertheless, Doomgrinder appears in the earliest oral traditions of the Flan hillmen who have dwelled in the hills since time immemorial. The dwarves and gnomes also have ancient tales of the site making it one of the oldest – if not the oldest – known structure in the hills.
The Flan saw it move during the Suel/Backlunish war. It moved when Vecna returned. It had moved every time Oerth suffered. It had moved just three years ago when the Greyhawk wars started. And Doomgrinder, whatever it is, was one turn away from apex in 585 CY. It was long held that when it reached apex the world had a short time remaining. But no one worried, it turned once a hundred, usually 300 years and it had just turned in 582 CY. So when the blade reached the apex Just before Needsfest 585 CY…the population of Oerth looked to the immanent 586 CY as the last year of the world.
No one knew what had happened or what would happen…but the world changed in some significant way. Everyone knew, even those who did not see the turn of Doomgrinder, but no one knew what had happened.
No one, that is, except those who served the god Dalt…and those were few. Dalt was an old god; one of the oldest of the Seuloise. The god of Portals, Doors, Enclosures, Locks, and Keys…Dalt was the brother of Vatun. And in 605 CY, Dalt was murdered and Doomgrinder turned.
Dalt’s clerics lost most of their power and what is left was fading. They sent representatives to the Church of Pelor in Greyhawk City who confirmed that Dalt had been killed. The word quickly but secretly spread to all the clerics in the city and then to all the clerics of Oerth. But they were silent about it to others except select Paladins and friends. Someone had killed a god and not even the gods knew who. Eventually people would find out and chaos would reign. Perhaps even their own gods were at risk. From the West came the dark clad Baklunish clerics of Istus, the goddess of fate. Many took up residence in Greyhawk city in an area called little Ket, seemingly waiting for something. Lights have been seen in the windows of Castle Greyhawk. Whispers of the return of Zagyg Yagrain, working constantly on some project, filled the streets.
One by one the gods who could be involved chose people to fix the problem. Those chosen saw the symbol of a keyhole appear on their wrists. As they sought the answer the heroes were led to a meeting at the Church of Pelor where Cleircs of Dalt, Pelor, Nerull, Beory, Rao, The God of the Crossroads and Istus awaited.
They were told that the god Dalt was killed by Vecna and that the Archlich had returned to Oerth. But also the death of Dalt had weakened the walls of the prison of the Mad God and they were chosen to help fix it.
When Dalt died his body shattered and they must gather the body in order to attempt either a resurrection or a transfer of his power to someone. The first piece was in the Cairn Hills. While the heroes went there, the clerics would try to find the other parts.
The Recovery of each part was an adventure in itself, the clerics found the locations to be:
1. Land of black ice
2. Frost barbarians
3. Quatt Sea
4. Forgotten City-Sea of Dust
5. Amedo Jungle
7. Vesve Forest
9. Isle of Pearls
11. Carin Hills
12. Possessed by the Church of Dalt and places inside Simon so he could use his spells
As the Heroes of the Key assembled the parts of Dalt they discovered that in ancient times Dalt may have taken measures to ensure the survival of his portfolio upon his death. Apparently he had a child with Wee Jas, named Leara, who could inherit his duties. Knowledge of the child existed but her whereabouts were unknown.
To complicate matters Simon revealed that one of Dalt’s little known roles was the manning of the portals between life and death. So with him gone it was easier to make undead.
One of the group, the gnome Pip had brought back an acorn from an Oak that was growing in Ravenloft. Since it seemed to be a Holy Tree, she thought she could grow a holy tree in the backyard of her magic shop. The tree however had grown too long in the realm of dread. The acorns were not from the original tree but were nourished by the lands of evil. So the tree that grew became something else. It was a link between the two planes. And, as the heroes discovered, since Ravenloft was the prison of the Mad God Tharizdun..it was a way for him to manifest again on Oerth. Later Pip made a deal with Vecna for knowledge and to free her brother, who was in his service. This gave the archlich a presence in her soul. These were the events that would have led to the establishment of the Alternate Timeline. Had events progressed as they did in that world, the archlich would have absorbed the tree and the power of the Mad God and become Overgod of the multiverse.
The heroes discovered this and took Pip to Hallowfaust where the connection between her and the tree was severed so it could be destroyed without Vecna interfering. The tie between her and the archlich however, remained. The first battle of the archlich war was fought outside the gates of Hollowfault, with Vecna’s army losing and retreating into the lands once held by Iuz, whom Vecna had absorbed.
But it was in Hollowfaust that the heroes met Iris, the young daughter of one of their members, Justin. Iris was born with a blank holy symbol but knew she was to be a cleric of a goddess who had not yet assumed her duties. Simon identified that this goddess was Dalt’s daughter. Using what Iris knew from her dreams he led Gavin, Jenna, Vine and Amberlyn to Sigil The City of Doors, where Leara lived as a street orphan.
They convinced her to think about accepting her role as either her father’s replacement or as the goddess of passage between the living and the dead. For months she thought about the options in her father’s abandoned realm, the Palace of Keys. Eventually she decided she would be the goddess of passage between life and death and leave the heroes to raise her father if they could.
Bringing Back a god
Leara’s decision left the Heroes of the Key with the task of bringing Dalt back to life. By now the group had realized that the fragment of Dalt in Simon’s had was changing him and consuming his identity. Simon’s plan was to gather the fragments and use a bead of summoning to call the soul of Dalt them merge with the fragments…allowing Dalt to eradicate Simon’s existence as his body transformed to hold the god.
Knowing this would not only kill but likely totally obliterate their friend, the group sought another way. Hearing of the existence of a spell of life in the multiverse that could bring back a god…they sought advice from the clerics of Isis in Khemet. They were able to recover the spell and bring back Dalt.
Simon still retained odd abilities since the fragment has been in him for so long. At this point the Archlich War began in full.
The Archlich War
The Archlich, Vecna, had been imprisoned in Ravenloft. Orchestrating the murder of the god Dalt from withing his prison he was able to weaken the walls between the worlds enough to escape. Knowing his escape would not stay secret to the powerful of Oerth he struck quickly. While imprisoned he made sure his hand and eye had corrupted Rary, a member of the powerful Circle of Eight. Rary had betrayed the Circle, killing two of them. He then fled to the Bright Desert and raised one of Vecna’s old towers. Having such a powerful ally in his command let the archlich move swiftly.
He ambushed and absorbed Iuz, claiming his lands for his own. Expanding to the southwest he overtook the city of Chendle. Knowing that it was easier to make undead with Dalt gone, he transformed the entire population into an undead army. Using magic he advanced on the Hellfurnaces to attempt to stop the Heroes of the Key from severing the connection what would allow him to absorb the power of the Mad God. His army was defeated outside of Hollowfaust and later the goddess Leara returned most of the residents of Chendle in her ascension. But the people of the city bear the marks of that dark time till this day…many having horrible nightmares of their time in the service of Vecna.
Never at a shortage for evil servants, in particular with all of Iuz’s armies, the Archlich turned his attention carving a chunk of southern Furyondy so he could attack Veluna while tearing through Tenth to destroy the Theocracy of the Pale.
The Heroes of the Key focused on liberating Geoff and gathering allies for the war who would support Veluna in the main counteroffensive. They were able to infiltrate and help drive the vault of the Drow into Chaos, depriving Vecna of Loth’s allegiance at a critical moment. This also freed many slaves and helped to occupy the Drow for the war.
They also found the exiled god Dorgha Torgu. He had been limited in his abilities and wandered the world as a paladin seeking redemption since he allowed the Rain of Colorless Fire. Convincing the exiled god that redemption could be found in leading the armies of the good nations against Vecna as their general, they set out to find a way to destroy the archlich while he was occupied with the war.
They discovered that it might be possible to kill Vecna using the Hammer of Pelor and the Scythe of Nerull. Learning that in the Dawn Times, Nerull was not insane as now was…led them to a secret.
When the Mad God rose the other gods opposed him, but it took all their might to contain him. At one point Nerull stood alone against Tharizdun and was driven mad. His sanity literally torn away. It was cast to the far edge of the multiverse. The Heroes found that some still worshiped the same Nerull and one of those people helped them track down the fragments of his sanity and restore it.
They also embarked on a quest to gather holy symbols of Vecna from the main Alternate Oerths…Aerth, Uerth, Yarth and Earth. Using these they could summon the archlich to Tovag Baragu and try to kill him. A small group of the heroes faced off within the stones using various powerful items:The Hammer of Pelor (a Holy Meteor strike summoned by the Emperor of the Isle of Pearls) Life Cutter the Scythe of Nerull (wielded by his cleric Grey) Mist Keeper (A sword forged in the Dawn Times by Pelor and Nerull to battle the Mad God)and wielded by Gavin, chosen champion of the sentient spirit of Greyhawk City The Sword of Kas purified by Zagyg and wielded by Vir, a drow Paladin. Valdred, one of the original elven gods who had hidden from the responsibility of godhood for 10,000 years. The Alternate Jenna Everdawn; who had the ability to harm vecna Simon, who was changed by his exposure to the fragment of Dalt
They faced the archlich at Tovag Baragu while the rest of the group and the armies of good held of Vecna’s army. As Vecna was summoned with the power of all his multiverse versions, Loth betrayed him and used Life Cutter to sever him from access to the greatest of his godlike power. The resulting explosion seemingly killed the Spider Queen.
The Heroes of the Key then engaged the Archlich while the rest of their company fought his armies and his Dracolich general.
They were able to kill Vecna when the Paladin Vir beheaded him after an exhausting battle. It was discovered that Loth was not dead. Early in the exploits of the heroes they saved a young girl who had been turned into her mother’s phylactery. This child was a worshiper of Loth before she became evil…when she was the consort of Corellon, Araushnee. Loth lay in a coma…switching between her identity as the spider queen and Araushnee..the worship of one follower after so long was transforming her. Valdred assumed his renounced godhood and, as Elven god of restoration linked all the elves in a prayer to her as Araushnee. This stabilized her form, although she remains in a coma to this day..now granting spell to the growing good clerics of Araushnee.
With the burning of the Archlich’s remains the war came to an end.