Campaign of the Month: May 2009
Forgotten Realms: The Savage North
A Summary of the Documents from Lucan's Library
What follows is a general summary of the history of the Blackhands, particularly Lucan’s involvement, according to excerpts taken from the library of Lucan’s fortress in the Spine of the World mountains.
The original Blackhands banded together some time around the year 1405, some twenty years after the Spellplague (1385). For over sixty years, the Blackhands were little more than bandits and highwaymen throughout the North, brigands that preyed upon the chaos still echoing throughout Faerun.
In 1469, a young member of the Blackhands named Lucan was approached by a party of secret conspirators that offered to put him in charge of the Blackhand organization, and raise it up to new levels. Pages that survived from Lucan’s own journal recount the event:
There were a total of six among the conspirators. None were among those with whom I have ridden as an outlaw for years. Of them, two appeared to be shapeshifters of some kind, while a third was of some devilish descent; whether tiefling or something more sinister, I cannot say. The other three appeared to be human, but they left me unsettled, as if there was something not quite right about them. The devilish leader of the conspirators made me an offer; in exchange for doing as they directed, they would make me the leader of the Blackhands, and give us the means of becoming a dominant force in the North. Having long believed I was more than capable of leading our men, I accepted, though I also had the distinct feeling that a rejection of this offer would end only in my death. The agreement made, the devilish leader of the conspirators provided me with a map to a location deep in the Spine of the World mountains, not far from the Kingdom of Many-Arrows. I was instructed to gather my most loyal comrades, and ride out for that location at once.
Records of the following years have some gaps, but it appears as though the conspirators were as good as their word. By the year 1471, the Blackhands had grown in number to equal many nations, and had seized control of most of the Ten Towns and other settlements throughout Icewind Dale. During this time, Lucan appointed Lieutenants to do his bidding in the North, while he oversaw the restoration and expansion of the Blackhands’ new citadel. A scroll detailing the reconstruction effort provides some clue as to the citadel’s function.
17,400 gold pieces have been paid to the dwarf stonemasons following the completion of the repairs to the citadel’s sky docks, as per the previous agreement. The sky docks are now restored to full working order and the flying ships can now dock at the citadel itself. This should save enormous amounts of time currently being wasted by transporting the cast-iron cauldrons by horse cart to the peak of the mountain, where they are currently being loaded onto the ships. An additional 11,000 gold pieces worth of supplies have been purchased to furnish comfortable environs for the ship crews while they remain in dock.
Lucan’s own writings begin to diminish some time around the year 1472. Lucan’s journal indicates that at some point he became a prisoner to his own agreement, unable to leave the citadel due to bargains made with those who installed him into power. One of the final entries in his journal expresses his frustrations.
The shipments in the cast-iron cauldrons have slowed to a trickle now, and the mages are dissatisfied. According to reports from my men, there is no more of the godsblood to be found in the North, and yet these mages hound me day and night to find more. They claim my men are wasting too much of their time bullying the locals and not enough time searching, but there is simply no more to be found. Even the return of my trusted comrade Malgannon, whose escape from prison seems to have left him with a sixth sense for the godsblood, has turned up almost nothing in recent days.
In 1473, the Moonblade Expedition crossed the Spine of the World mountains and headed into Icewind Dale in search of more godsblood. The presence of the expedition was clearly known to the Blackhands, as was their goal. A transcript of a letter sent from one of the three “human” mages to Malgannon reveals more.
You will seek out the Moonblade Expedition, which has traveled through Targos of late. Find them, and wipe them out to a man. Visit the priests in Targos first; we have received word that they have uncovered the location of a godsblood weapon. Use it to slay Morden Moonblade and his expedition, and then bring it to the citadel for transfer.
Malgannon did as he was ordered, but when Morden’s apprentice, Azard, surrendered, Malgannon let him live. Azard pleaded his case to Lucan, begging for a chance to serve as one of his lieutenants, and offering up the knowledge of his special masks in hopes of currying favor. Lucan relented, which infuriated the mages. Not only had Malgannon failed to slay every member of the expedition, but Lucan had specifically gone against the mages’ will in recruiting Azard. A scroll from the year 1474, recorded by one of the mages, reveals more.
Despite our warnings, the fool human Lucan not only allowed Malgannon to live, but also brought Moonblade’s apprentice on as a new lieutenant. He continues to cling to the lie that the North is empty of godsblood, and pushes for expansion Eastward. The human has begun to hatch a plan to use Azard’s masks to infiltrate and then overthrow the Kingdom of Many-Arrows, and then search that area for more godsblood. Though it pains me to admit the value in his plan, Lucan has proven himself to be cunning in many ways, and he has already dispatched his lieutenants to blind the oracles of the North so that no word of his plans can reach King Obould. We have decided to allow this plan to go forward, for now, but we have dispatched our own assassins to slay the dog called Malgannon. No matter what expense the Order went to, he is a loose end that must be dealt with.
Lucan’s plan to overthrow the Kingdom of Many-Arrows was meticulous and slow, and during that time the records of cauldrons full of gosdblood passing through the citadel dwindle to but a trickle. In 1476, the mages seemed to have enough of Lucan’s willfulness, and had him executed. The following information comes from a strangely-carved stone inscribed with unknown runes.
Missive to High General Osyrimon. The human Lucan has become unruly. His plans are already in motion, so we have executed him. We will continue to manipulate his lieutenants in his guise; none of them come to the citadel for orders anymore, as they are all occupied by their missions guarding the oracles. Once the Kingdom has fallen, we will harvest any godsblood in its territory, then leave it and the Blackhands to collapse into chaos. The human called Malgannon remains free, despite our best efforts. We will seek a replacement.
For the next three years, little changed as the mages manipulated the Blackhand organization into a position from which it could overthrow the Kingdom of Many-Arrows. Records as recent as earlier in the current year (1479) indicate that the plan’s quick collapse, precipitated by the execution of most of the Blackhand lieutenants at the hands of a band of adventurers, caused the mages to speed up the plans to overthrow Obould well before its planned time, and likely contributed to the plan’s overall failure.