Roger E. Moore
installment in this series provides more detail about a network of portals
linking various parts of Faerûn and beyond in the Forgotten Realms
campaign. These portals can take your party to new adventure for
a night or as part of an ongoing campaign across Faerûn.
of the Lost
III: The Portal Stones of "Voices of the Lost"
a part of the circular "Voices of the Lost" portal network
now functions. The first portal stone was broken up centuries ago
by human settlers who used it to build the first streets in what became
Waterdeep. A few of the quarried marble blocks in spots around the city
still have elven runes on them, but few are legible. The next six portal
stones are operational and are described below. They begin at Daggerford
and reach up into the Nethers, following the course the Delimbiyr took
many centuries past. The last portal stone, now near the Lizard
Marsh on the coast, no longer sends its user on to the now-destroyed final
stone, so the user is stranded in rather hostile terrain.
1. The Lucky Lady
stone here is now part of the floor in the Lucky Lady Tavern, once
a two-story warehouse built on a flat stretch of exposed bedrock near
the river. The tavern is a popular stop for the thousands of merchants,
drovers, caravan guards, soldiers, adventurers, and other travelers who
pass through Daggerford annually along the Trade Way. Most are heading
for Waterdeep and points north from Baldur's Gate and other city-states
of the Western Heartlands, or going in the reverse direction.
marble portal stone was discovered early in Daggerford's existence,
but few thought much of it. Ancient ruins are not uncommon here, some
from Illefarn but many from later states and kingdoms, great and small.
Most ruins are seen as worthless except for whatever good the recovered
stone is used for. The dirty portal stone was cleaned when the
tavern was set up, and its somewhat polished surface now dully shines
in front of the main fireplace in the huge taproom. Nightly entertainment,
if such exists, usually takes place on the marble stone. As the round
slab does not radiate magic, no one thinks much of it. Only a few of its
original runes can be read. Occasionally an elf will see the runes, realize
that they are from Illefarn, and become saddened at the realm's passing
(perhaps drinking more as a result). Very few beings can translate Seldruin
into any present-day tongue, but the old Hamarfae lettering is still seen
as timeless and graceful.
portal stone symbolized the unnamed elven kingdom's late life,
where the wanderer first encountered its people. The river is broad and
shallow here, appearing slow and quiet, just as the elves themselves were
increasingly scattered over the world and the fictional kingdom of the
poem in decline. The poem, "Voices of the Lost," need be recited
only for about 15 minutes before the portal is activated, and the
user sent on to the next portal stone. Here, as with later portal
stones, anyone standing on the marble disk with the singer will also
be sent through the teleportation system. Everyone is free to leave a
portal stone at any point, but portal travel is one-way
2. The Delimbiyr
- Hark Confluence
existing portal stone lies on a hilltop adjacent to the confluence
of the Delimbiyr and Hark Rivers, immediately north of the High Moor.
From this position, the raging rapids of the Delimbiyr leading down to
the confluence, itself a violent spectacle, can be clearly seen and heard.
The portal stone is partially buried by dirt and much overgrown,
but it deposits its users safely atop the debris. The rapids of the Delimbiyr
symbolized the chaos of the Crown Wars, and the confluence with the Hark
tells of the coming of humans in large numbers, particularly in Netheril,
and their conflicts with the elves. Also visible from this point, the
High Moor is of course a stark reminder of the terrible cost of the Crown
Wars, as an entire elven kingdom existed here before it was destroyed
by magic at the end of the Third Crown War.
is visible from any number of halfling- and human-owned farms in the area,
settlers from Secomber to the northwest. Some local celebrations are held
on the hilltop, and anyone appearing over the portal stone has
a low but significant chance of interrupting the ceremonies. As everyone
here is well armed because of the frequency of monsters wandering in from
the High Moor, the arrival of the portal user might be taken poorly
by surprised farmers. Guards will be put up after the first appearance
of anyone on the portal stone. If the initial visitors were hostile,
future visitors will be peppered with arrows before they can get out a
word. "Voices of the Lost" must be recited for 30 minutes here
before the portal activates again.
3. The Shining
Falls, Graypeak Mountains
of the Shining Falls, representative of the fictional elven kingdom at
its height, will surely impress any user of the portal network.
The portal stone here is actually on a rocky, shrub-covered island
in the middle of the top of the horseshoe falls, near the drop-off. The
view from here is stupendous, and the roar and spray from the Delimbiyr
engulf any visitor on the rock. An unmatched view of Delimbiyr Vale lies
in one direction, and the great cliffs and trees of the Graypeaks lie
in the other. There does not appear to be any way to leave the island,
and food here is scarce unless one is a fisher.
will have other problems, however. A respectable force of Zhents and Zhent-backed
bandits is present, primarily below the falls but with several patrols
and camps above the falls, with clear views of the island in the middle.
About 280 human soldiers are here, including clerics, wizards, mages,
and so on. Sixty orcs are also present for heavy labor and other tasks.
The largest camp of Zhents is well hidden in a series of caves behind
the bottom of the falls, once a royal dwarven tomb complex.
of anyone on the island above the falls causes instant consternation among
the Zhents, who until this point were able to keep their operations here
secret. They mean to attack peoples farther to the north, particularly
Sundabar, but the mess at Hellgate Keep is blocking their plans. The Zhents
are heavily armed and will attack without mercy, aiming to kill intruders
unless they can be captured, questioned, and then killed. The Zhents
will be extremely interested to find out about the portal stone,
which they found (partly covered with dirt) but have ignored as worthless.
portal users are at all good with maps, they will quickly note
that their progress upriver is taking them in the direction of Hellgate
Keep. The PCs may, of course, elect to leave the portal stone at
this point rather than risk going onward, assuming they survive the Zhent
attack. "Voices of the Lost" must be recited for a full hour
before the portal activates again. (The wanderer has a long conversation
with the wise coronal of the elven kingdom and his court.)
4. Abandoned Elven
River Port, Eastern High Forest
this portal stone rested on the west bank of the upper Delimbiyr
River, with the northernmost Graypeak Mountains to the east and the High
Forest to the west. The Delimbiyr is a young, fresh, roaring torrent in
this place, representing the elven kingdom of the poem in its early days.
However, this portal is also in the territory of the ancient kingdom
of Eaerlann, and the Eaerlann elves had established an extensive river
port just a mile downstream of this spot. Just to be nice about it, the
Eaerlann enchanted the woods around the portal stone to reduce
the level of noise so that the portal users would not be interrupted
in their appreciation of "Voices of the Lost." (The poem was
popular in Eaerlann, too.)
Eaerlann and Illefarn both fell. The dock complex south of the portal
stone was abandoned. Presently, aside from wild elven patrols from
the High Forest, few dangerous creatures exist in this immediate area,
if one does not count the griffins. At any time during the day, 2d4 griffins
are visible in the sky as tiny dots. Though they prefer deer meat, they
are not choosy and will attack anything that looks inviting. The wood
elves know enough to avoid showing themselves on the west bank in daylight,
as the griffins have superb vision. The PCs on the portal stone
cannot help it, as the poem must be recited for 30 minutes before the
5. The Talons,
portal stone is high in the Nether Mountains in what is now a desolate,
rock-strewn area that was actually quite beautiful once. It rests about
600 feet from a broad brook that was once much closer to the portal
stone. The brook is one of the headwaters of the Delimbiyr, representing
the poem's kingdom at its founding. Oddly, the portal stone here
is quite clean and in excellent shape. Only 30 minutes of poetry reading
are sufficient to activate the portal.
portal user is some miles north of Hellgate Keep, but is in the immediate
vicinity of a former inhabitant of that pit of evil. A single baatezu
of low power but clever nature makes its lair in a shallow cave very close
to the portal stone. The DM can decide what sort of devil this
creature is, but it should be more than a match for the PCs, and capable
(by innate powers or magic devices) of going invisible and changing shape
into human form. The devil realized the portal stone was unusual
long ago, after it had been chased out of Hellgate Keep by assorted other
monsters and set up shop here. It regularly cleans the stone and attempts
to decipher the Hamarfae script (the script of Seldruin) around the edges,
but without success. Before the PCs appeared, the devil discovered that
the stone was becoming increasingly magical (as the portal was
being activated), and it took whatever precautions the DM decides are
necessary to defend itself. It cannot be surprised. The devil has a minor
treasure hoard here including a few magic items that it uses in its defense
as well as to kill or maim intruders. It is possible that the devil (in
disguise) will want to accompany the PCs through the portal system
for a few more steps before attacking them.
6. Lizard Marsh,
operational portal stone in this system was on the shoreline of
the Sword Coast by the Delimbiyr's mouth, symbolizing the elven kingdom's
fall and disappearance into the pages of history (the sea). Rather, the
portal stone used to be on the coast, but the coastline
has moved inward over the last few thousand years. The portal stone
is now covered with mud to a depth of 50 feet, but it still deposits its
users on the semisolid ground above it -- which is to say, the bottom
of the sea. The user finds that he or she is now 25 feet below water and
must swim to the surface to get air, then swim about 150 feet to the shore.
Weather conditions are at the DM's discretion.
ashore is particularly problematic, as the mouth of the Delimbiyr is not
only farther inland but is now the Lizard Marsh. A large tribe of hostile
lizard folk and their pet giant lizards lives in this particular area,
and they regard humans as a welcome alternative food source, more flavorful
than fish and probably more nourishing. Plus, human captives scream, and
fish do not, which is a big point in favor of eating humans when one can
times, reading more poetry over this portal stone would have sent
the user back to the original portal stone in Illefarn's capital.
Alas, as the capital portal stone has been destroyed to make cobblestones
in Waterdeep, the portal user is trapped here and (assuming the
hazards of Lizard Marsh are negotiated) must walk back to Daggerford or
catch a ride. Note that the devil, if it accompanies the PCs, is not greatly
inconvenienced by being submerged in water.