Realm of the Silver Rose - Story Arc
Updated: Nov 22, 2018
This is one of a handful of epic story arcs I've written for my Grand Lamoria D&D setting. Depending on which campaign I'm running, and what my players are looking to experience, I may choose this plot to occur over the course of the party's adventures. I usually have at least two such plots happening in a single campaign, that way if the players thwart one early there's still something scary happening somewhere on the continent.
Important to note, is that this is what I call an epic story arc. It would take several in-game years to complete normally and happens with or without the involvement of the players. While the events should logically take years to complete, if you'd like to speed up the events so they all occur during the campaign, that is totally fair. Just be careful not to let the big bad accomplish too much too quickly, so that it defies all logic. A good way to avoid the players feeling duped is to have good foreshadowing and have the players discover parts of the setting where the big bad's plans have been in motion for years already.
The events described would likely have been put into motion well before the first gameplay session. Throughout the course of the campaign, the party would see evidence of this plot developing, perhaps even meeting some of the key characters involved. The party may have opportunities to discover or even put an end to this plot early on in the campaign. Similarly, they may not discover the plot- or at least the full depth of the plot- until late in the campaign when things are already almost completed. I run my campaigns as pure sandboxes, so while I would definitely lay some hooks to lead players to the plot, I would in no way force them towards it. I find its more powerful when players lead the way through their own discovery.
CONTEXT: This is an epic story arc for a high fantasy D&D homebrew setting.
!SPOILER WARNING! If you're one of my players, you should stop reading here!
Realm of the Silver Rose
An amateur vampire couple and their daughter, going by the last name of Rosewater, are plotting to form a vampiric empire in a corner of Hammerfall territory on the northern edge of Freeman’s Bay. Because they are relatively new- and therefore weak- vampires, they are trying to use stealth and political relations to establish as much of their empire as they can before revealing themselves and resorting to using force.
Step 1: Gain Control of Silverstone
Silver is one of a vampire’s weaknesses, for when a vampire is touching silver, they lose many of their vampiric abilities, particularly those revolving around reanimation and rematerialization. Thus, the first objective of the Rosewaters is to take control of the small mining town of Silverstone- which produces 80% of Lamorian silver- and cease the distribution of silver.
This will have several beneficial results for the Rosewaters:
- The kingdom of Hammerfall will lose a primary source of income. Hammerfall’s reserves will dwindle quickly since they are in open war with the Harshlands and spread too thin.
- Silver supplies will quickly dry up across Lamoria making it less available for weaponry. This will mean a company of soldiers- let alone an entire army- equipped with silvered weapons to fight the undead would be impossibly expensive to outfit.
-Silver will become more valuable than gold. This could overturn certain debts and upset several large banks. This will result in a powershift causing turmoil between the rich elite and the middle class.
Silverstone is a small, quiet town with little military force. The Phalanx Mountains protect it from the Harshlands and its dwarven origins make it sturdy enough to hold out a siege until reinforcements can arrive from Hammerfall. Gaining control of Silverstone can be accomplished by using vampiric abilities to charm the unaware reeve of Silverstone and legally have him give control to the Rosewaters. The Rosewaters can then quickly charm as many of the townsfolk as possible and subdue the town. They will turn several of the town’s leaders and make them their lieutenants. Slowly but surely they will corrupt the entire town.
Silver production will not cease! It will continue, but it will not be sent to Hammerfall via ships from Whitecap.
Step 2: Acquire Wealth and Plant Insiders
Controlling 80% of the continent’s silver would seem to make the Rosewaters wealthy, until you realize that they can’t spend any of the silver or else it re-enters circulation and defeats the point of controlling it in the first place. There are several parts of this step that will have to be taken to quickly acquire a vast amount of wealth without distributing silver to enemies that might later be used against them. Throughout this step, Lady Veronica Rosewater would remain in Silverstone to oversee the production of silver and the construction of industry, brothels and defences in Silverstone.
Part A: Request aid from Hammerfall.
This seems counter-intuitive, Hammerfall is- after all- the greatest threat to the Rosewaters, but they will write a careful letter and send their daughter as an emissary to Hammerfall explaining that their mines collapsed due to lack of funds to maintain them. Additionally, when the mines collapsed, they found a new silver vein they believe will be even deeper and richer than the main vein. They will request an enormous sum of gold to repair the old mines, as well as open a new mine, promising to invest the gold such that in two months time Hammerfall can expect to receive three times as much silver as normal.
The Rosewaters will not use this gold for silver mining, but instead to buy weapons and build fortifications, forges, iron mines, and expand the industry of Silverstone to prepare for warfare. While inside and on the way to Hammerfall, the Rosewater’s daughter Lauren will use vampiric charms to create as many spies as necessary and seduce as many positions of power as possible. She will charm Luke Bradford, a skilled metallurgist to come back with her to Silverstone to devise a chemical for the Rosewaters to drink that makes them immune to the anti-vampiric effects of silver.
Part B: Infiltrate Freepoint.
Freepoint is an independent city state on the westernmost point of Lamoria, located very close to Silverstone. One of the minor factions within Freepoint- known as the Lockers- is seeking to seize majority control of the Council of Freepoint. Several ranking members of the Lockers are also members of a secret cult that worships Venthrass, the Goddess of Darkness. The cult- named the Still Children- worship their goddess and would gladly serve or become vampires as vampires are often called the children of Venthrass and they embody many of the values and skills of the goddess.
Lord Charles Rosewater will visit Freepoint and make contact with the Still Children. Through them he will gain control of the Lockers and their resources. Lord Rosewater will then use his powers to control key members of the Council of Freepoint and make the Lockers the majority faction, giving the Lockers great influence over the city. With Freepoint neutralized and cooperative, the Rosewaters won’t risk Hammerfall coordinating an assault on Silverstone from both sides.
Additionally, the Rosewaters can exploit the strategic location of Freepoint, a bustling port city. If Freepoint’s channel is closed to Hammerfall, then Hammerfall ships would have to sail around The Reach, which is notoriously treacherous waters inhabited by sirens and sea monsters. This would cut off Hammerfall from Ashford and Rockport.
Part C: Trade with Malcon and Skybane.
Malcon is a dragonborn city on an island off the north coast of Lamoria. The city is reclusive and doesn’t allow outsiders and non-dragonkin inside. It has poor relations with all others cities, although it does trade.
Skybane is a mostly human and dwarf settlement on the northern coast of Lamoria, just south of Malcon. Skybane desperately needs a steady supply of silver to fight the monstrosities that pour from the northern Harshlands. Skybane has relatively poor relations with Hammerfall, as Hammerfall hasn’t been supporting them during their constant battle versus the Harshlands.
Both cities are far away from Hammerfall. Silver could be traded with both cities with little fear of the silver being sent back to Hammerfall, especially if Freepoint’s channel was closed and Hammerfall ships had to brave The Reach. It would take over a month for the ships to sail the other way around the continent. And if they were loaded with enough silver to make silvered weapons to fight an undead army, the ships would be perfect, slow-moving targets for the pirates of the Sharp Sea.
Letters would be sent to Malcon and Skybane arranging for trade ahead of time. A converted ship captain named Danthas, who proves to be a good vampire lieutenant, will go down the Grasp River to the coast with a handful of men to build a quick, ramshackle port with cranes and docks. When Charles sens Freepoint ships to the mouth of the Grasp, Charles would sail with them and the first shipment of silver to Skybane to personally oversee the transaction and attempt to establish a vampiric foothold in Skybane.
Step 3: Prepare for War
With spies in all major cities and a steady stream of wealth to fuel production, it's time for the Rosewaters to build armies and prepare for war. The forges of Silverstone will be churning out weapons and armor day and night. Lady Rosewater will continue to oversee Silverstone preparations, as well as train several newly converted vampires to serve as lieutenants in the war to come. This step also consists of several elaborate parts.
Part A: Construct a Fleet.
With Freepoint well controlled, propaganda will be spread stirring the waters for war with Hammerfall. The harbors and ships there will be converted into a military fleet which will be used to attack and blockade Hammerfall from the sea, as well as interrupt supply lines and reinforcements. Lord Rosewater will oversee the construction of a fleet for the first half of this step, then he will return to Silverstone.
Part B: Raise an undead army.
Once Lauren Rosewater returns to Silverstone, she will take over managing production while Lady Rosewater travels with a small force north to the Black Plains of Ashford. Ashford was the location of a great battle between dragons, humans, dwarves and elves centuries ago. The earth of the Black Plains was doused with so much magical dragonfire that life will not grow to this day. From the Black Plains, Lady Rosewater will resurrect not only thousands of foot soldiers and mounts, but also dragons using a Soulstone given to her by her master. This army will then be marched back to Silverstone immediately to be equipped.
Part C: Weaken the forces of Hammerfall.
At this point, Hammerfall will be expecting a large shipment of silver. Hammerfall will be sent a ship with half a load of silver and told that,
“The Orcs of the Harshlands came through the Phalanx Mountains and attacked Silverstone with a small force. Thankfully, the orc attackers were repelled by the allies of Freepoint, and Silverstone has been restored, but not before the Orcs made off with a sizeable amount of silver. Some of the remaining silver was paid to Freepoint who saved the city, and the rest is onboard. The only good news is that the new vein is even deeper than expected, and if secured will supply half a year's worth of silver next month.”
The Rosewaters will request Hammerfall send a company of soldiers to Silverstone to keep the city secured, and to protect the forthcoming shipment of silver. This request will be extremely difficult for Hammerfall to fulfill because their lack of silver has already caused them to spend through their reserve and borrow from the dwarves of Karak Dron. The lack of resources has caused them to lose ground on the frontlines against the Harshlands. They will be forced to draw from the city guard and draft additional soldiers in order to send a company to secure the silver supply, but will have no other choice since they cannot continue the war without funding.
Lady Rosewater’s new forces from the Black Plains will be used to set an ambush for the company of Hammerfall soldiers. The slaughtered or captured soldiers will be resurrected or converted to serve in the Rosewater army. The ambush will also give the vampiric lieutenants a chance to test their skills in battle.
Step 4: Declare War and Independence
If the Rosewaters reach this step, they will have wealth, resources, a vast intelligence network and a large army. Ambushing Hammerfall’s forces will be too bold an action to continue forward stealthily. The Rosewaters will go on the offensive before Hammerfall has time to react. Lauren, Lord and Lady Rosewater will push forward with an army of undead and sweep through Whitecap and Trident, meanwhile Danthas moves the fleet to blockade Plymouth.
Lauren will take a fraction of the force to attack Pike, while Lord and Lady Rosewater assault Plymouth. Plymouth is a fortified city and will be the most difficult fight, but Veronica will have been supplying her forces from graveyards and defeated foes on the march to Plymouth. With the support from the sea, Plymouth will fall.
After Plymouth falls, the Rosewaters will have to decide whether to continue to assault Hammerfall, or whether to demand a peace with Hammerfall such that Hammerfall will recognize the Rosewaters as a new house and rightful rulers of the lands they conquered. Hammerfall will likely have to comply, since they are broke and cannot afford a war on two fronts.
The only way they wouldn’t surrender or fall if the city of Hammerfall was attacked, would be if they had reinforcements from Karak Dron or possibly Tardaris. The dwarves of Karak Dron have a sizeable army, if they will spare it from guarding their mountain holds from the elves. The armada of Tardaris could also prove a threat to the Rosewaters, but Tardaris hasn’t gone to war in centuries, and their only interest would be to save their oldest trade partner. If the Rosewaters contacted them first wanting to trade, this could be avoided.
If the Rosewaters succeed in getting Hammerfall to recognize them as an independent kingdom, they will spread their vampiric corruption in all the cities they quickly captured, and raise more forces. They will likely politically annex Freepoint without force since the positions of power will be almost entirely under their control already. Once enough forces have been raised, they will attack Ashford and possibly Rockport so as to make certain Hammerfall has no allies that could attack Silverstone from opposite sides.
At this point, Lady Rosewater’s ability to resurrect armies of the dead will be mostly exhausted. She will need to contact her master to see if they’re pleased and if she may have another Soulstone. Meanwhile, Lauren will be dispatched to Port Bali to begin seducing more spies so the Rosewoods can be aware of any dwarven threats. The Rosewaters will begin formal trade agreements with anyone who’s willing, but will trade silver sparingly, keeping its cost extremely high and ensuring their undead armies won’t face armies with silvered weapons.
The Rosewaters will never be satisfied, and once they feel confident, they will continue corrupting and attempting to conquer the entire continent of Lamoria in a similar fashion to how they defeated Hammerfall.
Lady Veronica Rosewater
Lady Rosewater is a talented and ambitious, spellcasting vampire. Though she is relatively young and unproven, her master who turned her bestowed her with a gift to empower her abilities beyond her normal capabilities. A Soulstone, stolen from Fharlessa on its way from the underworld to the overworld. It contains 8,888 souls- broken by The Keeper, Nerul- that can be used to animate the dead. The stone was on its way to Pelor, the God of Light who would restore the souls and give them to Lohanna to be reincarnated into new life forms. Much of the plan for the Empire of the Silver Rose was Lady Rosewater’s master work. She has an unquenchable desire for power and control. All her thought is bent on it, and as long as she does not have it she will plot and scheme grand designs to achieve it.
She is not a frontline fighter. She knows her strengths and considers herself the only non expendable asset at her disposal. She summons creatures and seduces men to fight for her. She provides powerful buffs for her allies and debuffs for enemies. She can charm enemies and make them work against one another. She can wreak havoc from range with lethal spells. However, when confronted with enemies in close quarters, she has trouble maintaining focus on her spells and controller her summons. She’d prefer to misty step away as quickly as possible. She also carries the Soulstone on her at all times, and has come to rely on it so much that she would be extremely vulnerable should she lose it.
Lord Charles Rosewater
Lord Rosewater is a ruthless and strong vampire. Like his wife, he is also an unproven and young vampire, but before becoming a vampire he was the unforgiving lord of a castle in a foreign land where the laws permitted rule by strength. He was turned by his wife, as a desperate attempt to gain strength and maintain control over their castle. However, they didn’t realize that the change to become a vampire would leave them vulnerable for some time before making them stronger. They had to flee the castle and sail across the Sharp Sea. They landed in Feind and met the Master for the second time. This time they were given the Soulstone and showed how to use it. Lady Rosewater devised a plan and they set sail for Freeman’s Bay.
Lord Rosewater thrives in the heat of battle and must often be kept on a short leash by his wife to keep him from drawing attention to themselves during political meetings and social events. He thirsts for combat and bloodsport. He uses his strength and dexterity to destroy foes, and leeches their life energy to recover his wounds. He likes converting others to vampires and lording over them. He prefers to threaten civilians rather than charm them with his vampiric hypnosis, although he does both as needed. Above all his concerns is the safety and well being of his wife and especially his daughter Lauren.
Lauren is a persuasive and charismatic young vampire. She was too young to remember when her mother turned her, or her parent's escape from their home across the Sharp. She does remember their time on Feind however, and their trip into Freeman's bay where they set their plans in motion. Lauren is not a great strategist or spellcaster like her mother, nor a ferocious fighter like her father, but she strives to learn both skillsets. Her natural talent is with people, men especially, and charming and seducing them to willingly carry out her bidding. Within minutes of meeting a man, he will be willing to do whatever she asks, even die for her.
In combat she prefers to send charmed fools to fight for her, although she can hold her own in a fight. She usually doesn’t need to fight long before her father is beside her destroying her foes. She can cast spells, use invisibility, buff allies, and use a rapier of her own. Her greatest desire is to live up to her mother’s expectations, and to see her family rise to power as she’s been taught they deserve to rule.
Danthas is a dashing young sea captain. An able fighter, charismatic leader, and tactical sailor, he lead a crew of faithful sailors through the terrors of the sea and back again. One day at Whitecap while shipping cargo to Hammerfall, a beautiful girl named Lauren Rosewater asked him if she could ride along. Danthas had a strict rule about no civilians on board, especially women, but for some reason he changed his mind and allowed her onboard.
Ever since that day, he’s been faithfully serving the Rosewaters. He’s most valuable as a leader, and since the Rosewaters have no great knowledge of sailing, he proves useful to command their fleet and oversee their shipments of silver. He can be handy with his cutlass when forced to fight. His only remaining desire is to see that the beautiful Lauren Rosewater has a kingdom for her own.