Perilous Gateways
Portals of the Triad
By John Terra

Western HeartlandsPortal

When Helm joined in the alliance with the Triad, he chose a site in the Western Heartlands to set the portal. He selected a framework of stone on an old stone pier that jutted out into the River Chionthar. River-using merchants and travelers had formerly used the pier as a cargo depot and rest spot, but it has since been long abandoned. The pier lies on the north bank of the river, about halfway between Elturel and Scornubel.

Helm fashioned the portal around 720 DR, and he divulged the location to his most devoted and most trusted priests, knights, warriors, and paladins. To keep the portal safe, he commissioned an archmage worshiper of his to create a strong golem and place it in the river, where it waited silently until an enemy came along who wished to either use or destroy the pier.

In its heyday, the portal was used by worshipers of the Triad and Helm to deploy themselves swiftly to chronic trouble spots or places that were too valuable or important to risk even the possibility of extraordinary harm. Clerics, paladins, knights, and other faithful crisscrossed Faerūn on endless quests, missions of mercy, or outright assaults on evil enclaves.

Unfortunately, as time went on, the portal fell into gradual disuse. A growing rift between Torm and Helm, a rift only now beginning to heal, made the portals seem less important. When the Time of Troubles blazed across Faerūn, it pretty much sealed the portal's fate in obscurity.

Helm had chosen the portal's site for a reason. The god knew that, someday, a group of his followers would create a small keep located precisely halfway between Elturel and Scornubel to provide a rest haven for travelers between those two cities. Helm wanted the portal to be nearby for their use. Indeed, in 1360 DR, two devoted Helmites, Lord Pevensey Arundel and Sir Hawksbridge, founded Dormin Keep for the purpose of sheltering caravans and pilgrims. Unfortunately, the portal now lies forgotten and neglected.

The two-way portal leads to similar portals on the Cormyr frontier, the edge of Cormanthor Woods, and near the city of Glister in the Land of Thar. The portal operates at only three specific times per day: sunrise, highsun, and sunset. The Cormyr portal is keyed to Tyr, the Cormanthor portal to Torm, and the Thar portal to Ilmater. To activate the Heartlands portal, the traveler must pass through the archway on the pier during one of the three proper times while grasping a holy symbol of Helm in her right hand and the correct holy symbol of the god who is keyed to the chosen portal destination in her left hand. The portal never malfunctions unless a follower of Bane, Cyric, Shar, or Talos attempts to use it. In this case, a column of holy fire descends and strikes the interloper for 10d10 points of damage, with no saving throw allowed. This fire comes crashing down each time an attempt is made by such a being.

The portal is guarded by a very tough stone golem, which lies on its back on the riverbed no more than 20 feet east of the pier. Over the years it has become covered with river silt and vegetation, but it still remains a viable guardian.

Unfortunately, the golem no longer serves a guardian for Helm. Talos has seen to that. The Storm Lord sent a marid from the Elemental Plane of Water to secure the portal. Through a divine favor from Talos, the marid has seized control of the golem, and it now obeys the genie without hesitation. The marid and his new golem friend are charged by Talos to deny use of the portal to anyone. The marid can call upon a water weird to aid it and handle minor annoyances, rather than going through all the trouble of rousing the golem from the riverbed.

Vooash: Male marid; CR 9; Medium-size outsider (chaotic, water); HD 11d8+22; hp 71; Init +3; Spd 20 ft., swim 60 ft.; AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16; Atk +17/+12/+7 melee (1d8+9, slam); SA spell-like abilities, vortex; SQ darkvision 60 ft., drench, outsider traits, plane shift, SR 27, telepathy, water mastery; AL CN; SV Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +9; Str 23, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 15.

Skills and Feats: Craft (metalworking) +17, Craft (stoneworking) +17, Diplomacy +4, Escape Artist +12, Intimidate +16, Listen +16, Move Silently +17, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +17, Spot +16, Swim +14; Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- create water, detect evil, detect good, detect magic, invisibility, polymorph self, purify food and drink (water only), see invisibility; 5/day -- control water, gaseous form, solid fog, water breathing; 1/year -- limited wish (to nongenies only). Caster level 11th; save DC 12 + spell level.

Vortex (Su): Vooash can transform himself into a whirlpool once every 10 minutes (provided that he is underwater) and remain in that form for up to 5 rounds. In vortex form, Vooash can move through the water or along the bottom at his swim speed. The vortex is 5 feet wide at the base and up to 30 feet wide at the top, and between 10 feet and 40 feet tall. Vooash sets the height of the vortex within that range. A creature smaller than Large must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 17) when it comes in contact with the vortex or take 2d6 points of damage. The victim must also succeed at a second Reflex save at the same DC or be picked up bodily and held suspended in the powerful currents, automatically taking damage each round. A creature that can swim is allowed a Reflex save each round to escape the vortex. The creature still takes damage but can leave if the save is successful. Vooash can eject any carried creatures whenever he wishes, depositing it wherever the vortex happens to be. If the vortex's base touches bottom, it creates a swirling cloud of debris. This cloud is centered on Vooash and has a diameter of half the vortex's height. The cloud obscures all vision, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. Creatures 5 feet away have one-half concealment, while those farther away have total concealment (see Concealment, page 133 of the Player's Handbook). Those caught in the cloud must succeed at a Concentration check (DC 17) to cast a spell.

Drench (Ex): Vooash's touch puts out torches, campfires, exposed lanterns, and other open flames of nonmagical origin that are Large size or smaller. Vooash can dispel magical fire he touches as though with a dispel magic spell cast by an 11th level sorcerer.

Outsider Traits: Vooash cannot be raised or resurrected (though a wish or miracle spell can restore life).

Water Mastery (Ex): Vooash gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls if both he and his opponent are touching water. If either the opponent or Vooash is landbound, the marid suffers a -4 penalty on attack and damage rolls (these modifiers are not included in the statistics above). Vooash can also be a serious threat to boats that cross his path. He can easily overturn a vessel less than 55 feet long and stop vessels of up to 110 feet in length.

Possessions: Pearl of power (1st level),12 pearls worth 500 gp each.

Flesh Golem: 49 hp; see Monster Manual.

Stone Golem: 140 hp; see Monster Manual.

Water Weirds: 100 hp; see Monster Manual II.

(EL 10) Average party level 10 (four 10th-level characters): Vooash, flesh golem.

(EL 12) Average party level 12 (four 12th-level characters): Vooash, stone golem.

(EL 14) Average party level 14 (four 14th-level characters): Vooash, stone golem, 1 water weird.

Ad Hoc Award: Because the stone golem has more than average hit points, a 20% ad hoc experience award should be granted to the characters for defeating it.

How to Incorporate the Western Heartlands Portal Into Your Campaign

  • Sir Hawksbridge, a follower of Helm from nearby Dormin Keep, has been having a series of disturbing dreams about the river. He keeps seeing the Chionthar's waters being churned by a great steel gauntlet from the heavens. Although Hawksbridge has no idea of the existence of a functioning Helmite portal in the area, he wants the visions checked out.

  • The buzz in many inns and taverns located in communities along the Chionthar is that something eerie lurks by the old stone pier. Whatever it is, it bears investigating since some river folk are getting increasingly reluctant to brave the waters. It's not too bad now, but it could get worse, and if it does . . .

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