The Historical and Current Context to the Attack and Aftermath of Zadash

Thanks to @GalacticJonah for this art piece!

So much happened in last episode, and we found our heads spinning a little trying to consider the scale of it. Figuring that we weren’t the only ones, we’ve written up a post detailing the context needed to grasp just how the events of last week’s episode fit into the world at large. We’ll start at the planar level of Exandria and work our way smaller. Fair warning: the last few sections of this post contain massive spoilers for episodes 11 and 12 of Campaign 2. Turn back now if you haven’t caught up and wish to remain unspoiled!

Wildemount

The continent of Wildemount is one of several continents in Exandria. It is northeast of Tal’Dorei, where Campaign 1 took place, across the Lucidian Ocean. The Lucidian Ocean is known for its treacherous currents, which served to isolate Wildemount from much of the rest of Exandria.

It contains several areas of note, including The Menagerie Coast, the Dreemoth Ravine, and Wynandir.

  • The Menagerie Coast is on the western coast of Wildemount, and notably contains the massive city of Port Damali (where Fjord is from) and the city of Nicodranas (where Jester is from)
  • The Dreemoth Ravine, southeast of the Menagerie Coast, contains a dragonborn civilization. To find out more about it, watch Campaign 1.
  • Wynandir is a vast area containing two empires: Dwendalian to the west, and Xhorhas to the east.

Religious Lore

Thanks to Shalizeh7 for this art piece!

For the sake of simplicity, we aren’t going to detail the entire history of Exandria’s gods. For that, you should really check out the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting. Generally, you need to know that long ago, the gods walked the land of the Material Plane. The gods fall into two categories: Prime Deities (good & neutral) and Betrayer Gods (evil). After fighting in a massive battle called the Calamity, the Prime Deities dragged the Betrayer Gods beyond the Divine Gate to seal them away, but thus also sealed themselves behind it in their own planes, never to walk on the Prime Material Plane again.

 

 

 

Myriad

The Myriad are a massive crime syndicate throughout all of Wildemount. They have the run of Port Damali, and have a strong foothold in Zadash. In Zadash, it appears that the head of the Myriad is an individual who goes by the name The Gentleman, and can be reached through The Evening Nip tavern. Although Vox Machina had some dealings later in the campaign with the Myriad on the continent of Wildemount, their first dealings occurred pre-stream in Tal’Dorei in the town of Stillben. For more details of this initial encounter, check out the Vox Machina: Origins comic.

Xhorhas

Thanks to @April_Prime for this art piece!

Xhorhas is ruled by Empress Leylas Kryn. As explained in the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting, it was “built on the ruins of Ghor Dranas, an ancient city of the betrayer gods” (page 99). The members of the Xhorhasian army wear special armor that makes a sound like a cricket, which is used as an intimidation tactic when approaching like a swarm. Because of this armor, the Dwendalian Empire folks have given them the derogatory nickname “crick,” and the Empress the Crick-Queen (as mentioned in The Crick-Queen’s Call card game that Jester played). Xhorhas is known to be home to a number of strange monsters, some of whom have been making their way into eastern Dwendalian cities, like Bladegarden. The Mighty Nein battled one such Xhorhasian creature in their adventure in Trostenwald, the nergaliid known as Kylre.

 

Dwendalian Empire

For the official map of the Dwendalian Empire, check it out on @DevenRue’s Twitter!

The Ashkeeper Peaks separate the Dwendalian Empire (DE) from Xhorhas. The DE is ruled absolutely by King Bertrand Dwendal (whose name we first heard in Campaign 1) in the capital city of Rexxentrum. The King maintains order through military might, high taxes, and strict societal control. The DE wasn’t always so large; it conquered smaller civilizations it wanted, like the Julous Dominion, whose capital city was Zadash, where the Mighty Nein currently reside.

The DE has very specific rules about religious worship. TM9 learned in Zadash that only six deities are allowed to be worshipped in the DE: the Knowing Mistress, the Platinum Dragon, the Allhammer, the Lawbearer, the Matron of Ravens, and the Dawnfather. All of these deities are either neutral, neutral good, lawful neutral, or lawful good. The only neutral good deity left out of this list is the Everlight, and the only neutral deity left out is the Wildmother. All of the chaotic deities are excluded.

Local Figureheads

Each town throughout the empire has a Starosta, who is the political figurehead and is chosen by the leaders in Rexxentrum. They also have a Lawmaster, the head judge in town, and a Watchmaster, head of the Crownsguard (the soldiers of the DE army). In Zadash, the largest city TM9 have been in so far (at least while they’ve been together), there is a position below the Lawmaster called the High-Richter, who serves as a lower court judge.

Cerberus Assembly

Thanks to @NichPatzelt for this art piece!

There is a group of very powerful magic users in the empire called the Cerberus Assembly (CA). Most of them reside in Rexxentrum, the empire’s capital city. Enchanter Pumat Sol, himself a powerful wielder of the arcane, serves as an annex to the CA in Zadash. In return for his services, the CA provided him with three simulacrums of himself to help around the shop. Another member of the CA runs the Hall of Erudition in the Tri-Spires area of Zadash. According to Pumat, the CA help keep the crown in check and promotes learning in lower income communities. The Knights of Requital discussed their frustration dealing with the ever creeping power scale of the Assembly and its influence that stretches from Rexxentrum into Zadash.

Zadash

Zadash is a city of vast economic differences. Outside of the walls is a veritable tent city. Inside the walls, most of the city is lower to middle class, like in the East and West Outersteads, the Interstead Sprawl, and the Pentamarket. There is one area of town, however, gated off from the rest, called the Tri-Spires, which contains nearly all the wealth of the city. It is so called because of the three large towers in it: the Zauber Spire, the Triumph Chime, and the Constellation Bridge. The Zauber Spire is part of the Halls of Erudition campus on the northern end of the Tri-Spires. It has a glass, cylindrical top floor that overlooks the entirety of the city. The Triumph Chime previously was a temple and belfry. The Constellation Bridge is a giant watchtower.

Cast of NPCs

Lawmaster Orentha

Head of law in Zadash. An older woman who rules fairly, she is also a friend of Dolan’s. She commended TM9 on their willingness to go into the sewers to protect the city and find the missing crownsguard

Knights of Requital

The DE’s totalitarian rule has bred discontent in its citizens and corruption in its hierarchy. The KoR formed as a secret group to discuss their Empire-related woes where the arm of the law couldn’t reach them (because if it did, they would all be thrown in jail).

  • Dolan Thrym. A former practicing physician. Partner in business and love of Horris. Chosen amongst the KoR to potentially run for High-Richter should the current person in that position be ousted.
  • Horris Thrym. A former practicing physician. Partner in business and love of Dolan. Took the fall for the ruin brought on their practice by Lord Diedric Sutan for his son Ren Sutan’s benefit.
  • Kara. Half-elf, thinks of herself more as a planner.
  • Themond. Brought evidence of corruption to the High-Richter, but no longer attends KoR meetings because he has been followed ever since.
  • Ulog. Dwarf with a background in roguish thievery. His wife, Illiana, was wrongfully accused of crimes and thrown in jail. Ulog hasn’t seen her in six months.

The Bad Guys

  • High-Richter Dayana Prucine. A half-elf serving in the position as a lower court judge under Lawmaster Orentha in Zadash. She is rumored to have connections with Lord Diedric Sutan, and purposefully diverted incriminating evidence about his dealings away from the Lawmaster. She placed Ulog’s wife, Illiana, in jail and refuses to hear a case in her defense.
  • Lord Diedric Sutan. A very politically connected man in the Tri-Spires, who has had dealings with a shady person who may be involved with The Myriad. He drummed up false accusations against the Thryms’ physician’s office, The Guided Hand Infirmary, so that he could place his son in charge of it.
  • Ren Sutan. Current head physician of The Guided Hand Infirmary. According to Dolan, Ren now squeezes the patients for all they’re worth, rather than running a financially honest practice. Has a pompadour.

The Heist

Goal

To place letters in the High-Richter (HR) and Lord Sutan (LS)’s houses to make it look like they were consorting as part of a group called the Knights of Requital to plot an assassination of the Lawmaster.

Theoretical Steps

  1. Case the HR and LS’s houses to see what they’re up against.
  2. See if the HR really is a terrible person (she was).
  3. Attempt to get a copy of LS’s handwriting, his seal, or letters between him and Ren.
  4. Forge letters mentioning the Knights of Requital, the Myriad, and the Lawmaster.
  5. Break into LS’s house during the Harvest Close Gala, find his seal, use his handwriting to make better forgeries, close them with his seal, leave letters from the HR in his stuff.
  6. Break in HR’s house, leave letters from LS in her stuff.
  7. Look for evidence of her corruption/her handling of Illiana’s case.
  8. Take their concerns to the Lawmaster, who will look into the case.
  9. Money to TM9.
  10. LS and HR are arrested.
  11. Dolan runs for HR.

Of course, not everything went according to plan.

Thanks to @caryatherton for this art piece!

Actual Steps

Ground Work

  • Molly, Beau, Fjord, and Jester went to HR’s house under the pretense of being a local business owner, the Timalts, who were livid that the Baumbauchs in Trostenwald did not deliver on their end of a business deal.
    • The HR, in exchange for a future favor, said that she would look into it.
    • She called Molly a “demon blood.”
  • The next day, Beau and Jester took a look at LS’s house.
  • Molly, Caleb, Fjord, and Nott caused a scene at The Guided Hand Infirmary.
    • Fjord managed to get some of Ren’s papers, though they aren’t terribly helpful.
  • Jester forged some letters.
  • Molly, Fjord, Beau, Caleb, and Nott got into the Tri-Spires district through the sewers.
  • Jester picked up Ulog at the Song & Supper, then convinced the guards at the Tri-Spires that he is a comedian at the Harvest Close Festival, which eventually got them in.

Lord Diedric Sutan’s House

Thanks to gears2gnomes for this art piece!

  • Beau, Nott, Jester, Caleb, and Ulog climbed the tree next to LS’s house.
  • Caleb used Frumpkin to distract the mastiff with the crownsguard in the front of the house while those in the tree got onto the roof and into the house.
  • Using Locate Object and careful trap-checking, they got into LS’s bedroom. They rifled through his papers.
  • In their attempt to get to where his wax seal was, they activated a Rug of Smothering.
    • Battle ensued.
    • The party won, but not without destroying the rug.
    • During all this, Fjord and Molly remained outside.
  • They got the wax seal, used it to mark the letter that would be placed in HR’s house, and left.
    • In the process, Nott became paralyzed for an hour by opening a trap.
    • The letters left in LS’s house said that the “plan” was moved up to the night of the gala (in Common), and that everything was in place for the festival (in Thieves’ Cant)
    • Jester left a pamphlet about the Traveler in one of Lord Sutan’s books.
    • During their leave, Jester lost her grip on their rope, and opted to save Nott and take a fall.
    • Jester was discovered, and escorted out of the Tri-Spires with Molly for public intoxication.
    • She, however, still had the letters they needed, so the two quickly found their way back into the district via the other gate.

 

High-Richter Dayana Prucine’s House

Thanks to @sephiramy for this art piece!

  • Fjord and Jester approached the HR’s house disguised as the HR and a crownsguard. This gained them entry to the house.
  • Meanwhile, Nott, Caleb, Beau, and Ulog broke into the house via the back door.
    • Beau tried to convince Ulog to stay out, but he staunchly refused, citing the stakes as being too personal for him to not participate.
    • Beau stayed out to keep watch with Molly.

 

  • After disarming several traps, they all made their way into the HR’s bedroom, where the evidence was planted.
    • The letters left in HR’s house included:
      • the burned paper mentioning that the Knights of Requital;
      • a letter under her clock saying the Knights were ready for the evening’s pursuits and that it is time for change;
      • and the letter with Sutan’s seal saying that he got her message and the plan would move forward, that the Myriad has their back, and the Big O would go down that night.
    • Jester discovered a copy of Courting of the Crick, a banned book in the Empire.
    • A series of spell scrolls were discovered amongst the HR’s paperwork.
    • Ulog found evidence detailing how the HR knew that Illiana was innocent, but used Illiana as a way to scare the people into submission and “prove” that even the most innocent-seeming dwarf could be dangerous.
  • On their way out, Caleb tried to pocket the spell scrolls.
    • This would go against their plan of leaving no trace of their entry.
    • Fjord caught him, and gave him and Nott, who had drawn her weapon, an ultimatum: be with us or with yourselves.
  • Meanwhile, Molly was keeping watch when he wasn’t bothered by the crownsguard to move along.
  • The actual HR came back as the party was leaving the house.
  • Ulog, having the HR right in front of him, gave the evidence to the party, dove off the landing, and activated the single bead on his Necklace of Fireballs right into the HR’s mouth, instantly killing them both.

Escape

Thanks to @GalacticJonah for this art piece!

  • As The Mighty Nein escaped, they witnessed an attack on the Zauber Spire, where the Harvest Close Gala was held.
  • As the tower collapsed, a protective ward activated to prevent its total collapse.
  • A series of flying, lightning-wielding mages flew through the sky searching for those responsible.
  • As they fled to the sewer, the party caught sight of a dead individual in black clothes with blue-stained fingertips as they were killed by one of the mages.
  • They also saw one of the mages, an older man with long white hair.
  • Once in the sewer, the party ran across an individual in insect-like black leather armor and a curved horn helmet, carrying a dodecahedron with handles that emitted a dull gray glow. The individual spoke Undercommon to them. When Caleb cast Comprehend Languages to understand, the figure drew their weapon, likely assuming Caleb was attempting to cast a more dangerous spell.
    • Comprehend Languages will allow Caleb to understand the individual, but will not allow the other individual to understand Caleb unless they already understand a language that Caleb speaks.

 

Going Forward

  • The High-Richter is dead, and her body will be found with Ulog’s body. Ulog was not wearing the same armor as the other individuals attacking the city.
  • Should an investigation into the High-Richter’s death commence, they will find evidence that she was hatching a plot with Lord Sutan, the Knights of Requital, and the Myriad to kill Lawmaster Orentha.
    • It is unlikely anyone will know that the magical stone and spell scrolls that Nott and Caleb took were within Lord Sutan's and the High-Richter’s possessions in the first place, respectively.
    • The Crownsguard that were in front of her house would be able to testify that it appeared that she came home, and then came home again later.
  • Lord Sutan will come back to his house, finding it undisturbed... other than his rug being visibly destroyed.
  • Lord Sutan has the potential to find the letters planted amongst his things and destroy them, should he find them before a potential investigation would make its way to his home.
  • If they search his books, an investigation would also turn up evidence of Lord Sutan worshipping, if not considering, an unapproved deity, the Traveler.
  • The party is currently in close (possibly soon to be violent) contact with one of the people responsible for attacking the Zauber Spire, who is currently on-the-run and heavily injured.