The Better Part of Valor: A 5e Forgotten Realms Campaign

The City of Phlan - A Historical Overview

To learn the state of Phlan is to understand her many trials and tragedies.
– Lord Sage of Phlan, 1489 DR

Founded in 367 DR, ten years after Northkeep, the town of Phlan has been leveled or razed repeatedly; new buildings are constantly sprouting from the ruins of previous incarnations. This has led to extensive tunnels, vaults, sewers, and other hidden places under and throughout the city as the sounds of construction echo throughout. Though still the lawless, brutal town of the northern Moonsea, the town expands, trade continues slowly, and Phlan is more populated than it has been in many years; though stability is far from certain.

The Recent Past

In 1306 DR, a dragon invasion known as the Dragon Run swept out of the North and fell upon Phlan. Due in part to the Moonsea War with Mulmaster, none of the other cities in the Moonsea region came to Phlan’s aid and so Phlan was once again laid to waste. As Phlan was rebuilt, the entity known as Tyranthraxus corrupted and possessed a bronze dragon named Srossar in 1340 DR, after convincing the dragon to bathe in a Pool of Radiance that was buried beneath the ruins of Castle Valjevo. Tyranthraxus would later be discovered and subsequently defeated by a group of adventurers, but in his flight, he would turned the Pool of Radiance into a pool of non-magical water and would later be sealed off during the rebuilding of the castle and its location lost.

Phlan would know over ten years of peace before the Flight of Dragons in 1356 DR when it was again decimated and its ruins occupied by a great wyrm which itself was later slain and the city reclaimed by Zhentil Keep in 1375 DR. Within half a decade, the city’s previous Council of Ten system of rule was replaced by the tyranny of Zhentarim Hatemaster Cvaal Daoran. Daoran’s ascension as the Lord Protector of Phlan saved the city during the Shadowbane War of 1383 DR. Forging an alliance with the fey of the nearby Quivering Forest, Phlan was spared from the destruction that came to Zhentil Keep and the Citadel of the Raven at the hands of the Netherese. After Cvaal slays one of the shade princes, he declares the position of Lord Protector as hereditary. This marked the beginning of the eventual separation of Phlan from direct control by the Zhentarim.

Almost a century later, in 1480 DR, barbarian attacks in the north led to an influx of refugees into Phlan, drastically swelling its population. By then, Lord Protector Daoran’s grandson, Anivar Daoran, had inherited the Cinnabar Throne. Lord Protector Anivar Daoran was a cowardly and pampered noble, and a paranoid and ineffective ruler; his concern for the responsibilities of his rule was only slightly less than that for his subjects.

Phlan Today

In 1488 DR, Lord Protector Anivar Daoran died unexpectedly in what, for all intents and purposes, seemed nothing more than a construction accident during renovations on Castle Valjevo. The Lord Protector left no heir, so the Knight Commander of the Black Fist, Ector Brahms, was declared the Lord Regent of the Cinnabar Throne. The Lord Regent’s grasp on the throne is tenuous. To maintain order, the Lord Regent has used his control of the Black Fist and the Cinnabar Throne to declared martial law; keeping the populace in line by fear. To run the city, the Lord Regent requires the aid of the noble families and the four trade guilds, both of which are hesitant to lend their full support until they know how it will benefit them

The chaos has not been contained by martial law. Shortly after Daoran’s death, the Lyceum of the Black Lord was looted and burned. A blackened husk remains where once stood the great temple to Bane, and the ruins have since been repurposed by followers of the returned god of the dawn, Lathander. The Morninglord’s followers attempt to provide a place of solace and refuge from the tumultuous town and their small shrine joins active shrines to Umberlee and Auril. Despite the lack of a temple, the faith of Bane remains strong among the Black Fist.

One small point of light in Phlan is the Order of the Silent Shroud. In 1380 DR, as a display of his new power, Hatemaster Cvaal Daoran bequeathed the overgrown and undead infested Vilhingen Graveyard to a small contingent of Kelemvor’s faithful. The Kelemvorites worked steadily and dutifully to end the undead threat and meticulously groom the wild graveyard with aid from druids of the Emerald Enclave until it is now a beautiful, somber resting place free of danger around the temple erected at its center. The Order, under Doomguide Yovir Glandon, struggles to remain independent of the Cinnabar Throne and aloof from city politics

Following the declaration of martial law, trade barely trickles through Phlan. The Lord Regent has canceled many of the city construction projects as he tries to cope with a depleted treasury. The guilds vie with the noble families for control over the city’s remaining wealth and business; hoping to compensate for their lost incomes. Wages have plummeted and prices have skyrocketed. Work is scarce as building projects in the ruined parts of the city stand incomplete.

The Welcomers have shifted their goals from thieves’ guild to vigilante heroes of the people and now lash out at the guilds who the Welcomers claim, in their greed, have abandoned the citizenry. In turn, they are hunted by the Black Fist, and any person with a missing ear, a symbol of guild membership, is imprisoned, tried and hung. Each day, more bodies swing from the Stojanow Gate.

The Black Fist mains order to a point, though that point is at the end of sword. Justice is selectively meted out based on one’s ability to pay bribes to corrupt watchmen or navigate the massive bureaucracy of the few true-believers who strain to hold the government together. Given that members of the Black Fist have the ability to judge those they deem criminals and dispense harsh justice on the spot, the citizenry gives them fearful, wide berth.

Phlan is a lawless, shabby remnant of what it once was and what it was struggling to become again. For over a millennia, it has endured decimation at the hands of its enemies and it is decidedly ironic that it now stands on the brink of ruin by its own hand. If Phlan is to be saved, heroes must rise.

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Introduction

Introduction.jpg

Our campaign begins with Warglaive, Selmynthil, Sylric, and Gar as young adventurers looking for their first true taste of action and wealth. As patrons of Madame Freona’s Tea Kettle, they had hoped that they would find employment in order to further their own goals.

Selmy, a Half-Elven ranger, had come to Phlan as a means to an end in order to eventually avenge the deaths of Clan Blackwood at the hands of a ruthless enemy. Selmy has a single-minded focus on avenging her death by eliminating the massive horde of kobolds that destroyed his village, as well as to end the life of the kobold chieftain, who was personally responsible for the death of Lythoniel, who was Selmy’s mother. His journey took him to the city of Phlan, where he decided to begin his search for allies and resources that he would need to finally end the kobold threat for good.

Warglaive, a Dwarven fighter, is no stranger to the injustice and cruelty that can be found in the city, as he was once contracted as a blacksmith under the Black Fist, the ruling and military force of Phlan. However, after viewing some of their corrupt and harsh methods of maintaining “law and order,” he abandoned his post and planned to uphold justice and defend the weak in an attempt to restore order to Phlan, even if he must do so alone.

Sylric, a Wood Elf monk, was born and raised in the distant land of Cormanthor. Tragedy struck his village when he was a child when a pair of ruthless green dragons destroyed his village, and leaving few survivors to tell the tale. In the coming years, Sylric felt an unyielding need to travel the world. His experience left him with a unique perspective; he viewed the world as a place in constant flux, and that in order to survive, he would need to adapt to change. Along his travels, he stumbled onto a hermit living in a cave deep in the forest. He trained for five years under this man, an elderly human known by the name Atreion. As a final mission, Sylric was sent to Phlan by his mentor in order to find his daughter Emerol and deliver a critical message to her.

Ulfgar, a Dwarven druid, is a bit of an enigma to the rest of the adventuring party. Not much about his origins or goals are known, outside of the fact that he and several other druids were attacked by a kobold raiding party and left for dead not far from the Phlan city gates. He managed to stumble into the city, profusely bleeding and near-death, where he was able to procure the needed treatment to save his life. He eventually found his way to Madame Freona’s Tea Kettle, where he met up with the rest of his new adventuring partners.

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The Meeting at Deepnight, Part 1

After spending several days in an attempt to find work, Selmy, Warglaive, Sylric, and Gar were hired by an enigmatic man in a grey cloak to complete a job of some importance for his organization. This organization had recently captured a merchant who was attempting to purchase a dragon egg, for an unknown and, likely, nefarious purpose. The party was to meet up with an unknown seller of this dragon egg outside of Phlan’s city gates, and pose as the buyer, who, coincidentally, bore a strong resemblance to Warglaive. He, and the other members of the party, were to pose as the buyer and his associates in order to procure the dragon egg and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Furthermore, the party was to plant a magical pin on the sellers, so that they grey-cloaked man could track them to their hideout.

The transaction, which took place at McCarthy’s Farm outside of town, did not go according to plan. After some reconnaissance by the stealthy Sylric, the party made contact with the seller inside the main barn. However, the seller, an Moon Elf female, was suspicious and was unconvinced by Warglaive’s attempt to deceive her. The seller dropped the egg and, along with her 3 guards, attempted to flee the barn. Sylric, who was in possession of the pin, cornered one of the guards and attempted to plant the pin on him. Sylric grabbed the man by the arm and tried to stealthily plant the pin on the underside of his sleeve.

The guard was startled by Sylric’s actions, and in self-defense, began to draw his sword with his free hand. The pin held in place for an instant, but then fell from his sleeve towards the ground. Sylric, acting almost on instinct, managed to snatch the pin from out of the air. The guard, with his eyes locked on Sylric’s sly gaze, still had no clue about the pin or Sylric’s attempt to plant it on him.

Sylric managed to appease the alarmed guard using the best method available to him: A few peaceful words and a firm handshake. Sylic used this opportunity to plant the pin on the guard, who then nodded to him and then exited the barn with the others.

Meanwhile, Selmy saw that the elf buyer was attempting to flee the barn. He began to follow her out of the barn in an attempt to track her. However, the party would soon find out that the sellers were not the only ones waiting for them at the barn that evening…

To Be Continued…

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