By Christopher Perkins and Robert J. Schwalb
Dragonspear Castle is one of the most famous ruins along the Sword Coast. Built by an adventurer named Daeros Dragonspear, the once-mighty castle has over the centuries become home to a succession of fell beasts and monsters, from orc armies to dragons and devils, only to be scoured out repeatedly by intrepid bands of adventurers and other forces aligned against evil. The adventurers are drawn to the ruined castle by a vengeful foe who knows that evil comes in many forms, and that good doesn’t always prevail.
“Dragonspear Castle” assumes the characters are at least 9th level. There is a six-month gap between this adventure and the events of the previous adventure, so it’s reasonable to assume that underpowered characters can reach the desired level, either through training or by taking up personal quests in the interim.
Setting the Stage
Adventurers can change the world, and the actions they take and the choices they make can sometimes come back to haunt them.
Almost twenty years ago, a rakshasa named Nadir waged a campaign of terror in distant Suzail by infiltrating the royal court of Cormyr and murdering a handful of Cormyrean nobles. A band of adventurers led by a paladin of Amaunator named Isteval hunted the fiend and found its subterranean lair. Isteval and his companions fought and killed the rakshasa’s minions, but Nadir escaped. When Isteval returned to the surface, he found his horse slaughtered and his faithful squire—a promising young man named Eldrin Haunn—missing. Days later, a courier delivered Eldrin’s bloody holy symbol to the temple. Isteval kept the holy symbol but never saw his squire again.
With the aid of magical divinations, Isteval and his companions cornered the rakshasa in the royal palace, killing it before it could do untold damage in the guise of a respected Cormyrean War Wizard named Norvin Tarrlock, whose body turned up a week later in the sunken hold of a wrecked Sembian caravel at the bottom of the harbor.
The rakshasa’s spirit was banished to the Nine Hells and languished there, tormented and powerless, for more than a decade. Eventually, as happens with all rakshasas, Nadir’s spirit was released and his physical form reincarnated. Since then, the rakshasa has resumed its evil ways, but it has taken years to plot its revenge against Sir Isteval, whose piety and dedication to destroying evil is worthy of Nadir’s attentin.
Nadir has been tracing Isteval’s journey westward from Cormyr to the Sword Coast. The rakshasa finally found the paladin “retired” in Daggerford, although it has since learned that Isteval commands a vast network of adventurers spread across western Faerûn.
Simply killing Isteval isn’t enough, for surely someone would have the means to raise the paladin from the dead. No. Nadir’s plan is to tear Isteval’s spirit from his body and cast it into the Nine Hells, so that Isteval can experience the same torment that Nadir experienced. Moreover, the rakshasa intends to make certain that Isteval’s spirit never escapes.
No victory would be complete without a record of it, and Nadir knows that history isn’t written by victors but by witnesses. Thus, Nadir wants Isteval’s close friends—respected individuals whose words carry weight—to witness the paladin’s downfall and spread news of his ruin throughout Faerûn. Enter the player characters.
The Party’s Goal
The characters’ ultimate goal is to save Isteval from the wrath of Nadir. The paladin is outraged that the fiend would use the form of Eldrin Haunn, his dead squire, to goad him into a confrontation at Dragonspear Castle. Isteval also cannot ignore the possibility that the rakshasa might be trying to open the gates of hell.
The characters accompany Isteval on what could be his last adventure. In Dragonspear Castle, they are faced with a daunting choice: allow devils to pour through the gate and once more gain a foothold on the Sword Coast, or let Isteval sacrifice himself to close the portal. Clever characters must find a third solution—one that saves Isteval and seals the portal. If they do, they can deny the rakshasa its vengeance, slay it, and condemn its spirit to the Nine Hells for all eternity.