The Dead Arise


The initial scratch notes for the campaign, listing Orcus, the creature Aurnozci listed as insect thing, and the vague plot shown in venn diagram like circles.

A bit of a longer synopsis, or the general playthrough of the campaign! To the right are images from its humble beginnings as a pseudo-Venn diagram to the more detailed pages as it builds.

The dead begin to arise. You begin in a tavern in Waterdeep, gathering with your friends after work, and have been debating for a while whether to get into adventuring to get away from stable-keeping and fruit picking and whatever other jobs you've had. Checking the adventurers job board, you see two listings for undead skeletons being spotted around, attacking farmers' cattle and causing problems. You decide to pick your classes and take up the challenge.

Soon after, you are led to a warehouse where you find several cultists dedicated to raising the dead, one of whom has a bizarre penchance for celery. Dispatching them, you find the deed to the warehouse, paid in full for the year, and your new home base if your group decides. You may or may not learn through listening to them that they are cultists of Orcus, who plans to take over the material realm! The raising of the dead has been to create fear, and upon creating enough, he will return and swear that those who worship him will be spared from his wrath.

Either through this or otherwise, you are contacted by a large demon, wondering what happened to the other cultists. He details that there will be a mass raising in 3 weeks, to herald the announcement of Orcus's return. This demon will return in 3 weeks with the Wand of Orcus himself, lent by Orcus on rare occasions (actually canon, as he can summon the wand back to him with a thought), and gather the cultist groups from the area for the great raising. Orcus himself will enter the material plane several weeks after that, once more fear has been sown.

Near immediately after this meeting, you are contacted telepathically, having been scryed upon throughout this. It seems you have an unlikely ally, another demon from the Abyss who wishes for the destruction of Orcus, or more specifically the Wand of Orcus, which is sentient, and had cursed him to imprisonment. You are invited to meet with this individual in the Abyss, where you may discuss the plans.

Upon meeting on the Abyssal plane of Xulregg, you find the giant centipede-like worm creature, trapped in a giant hive hanging from the tree called Gorewood. Aurnozci, the giant fire worm, has been trapped here by the Wand of Orcus, and has been waiting patiently, scrying upon Orcus's plans, seeking an ally on the outside. Through his silent watchings, he spotted your group dispatching the cultists, and seeks your aid. He knows Orcus seeks to take over the material plane, but Aurnozci cares not for this. For if Orcus grows in power, or even if his victory means the end of the endless blood war between demons and devils, all that this will mean for Aurnozci is eternal imprisonment. And so he seeks the destruction of Orcus and his Wand. What he can offer you in return for your help, is knowledge of how you may destroy the wand, which will weaken Orcus significantly. Additionally, once Aurnozci is free from his imprisonment, he may finally hatch from his hive and molt, and become a great moth! He has been preparing for this since his imprisonment... and has prepared a spell that could entrap your party and Orcus in an impenetrable sphere, such that Orcus's subordinates will be unable to enter and assist him while you and he defeat him.

Upon agreeing (or if you don't, you either better come up with a different plan, or be prepared for a much more difficult fight), he tells you that the wand can only be destroyed by resurrecting the body from which the skull of the wand was taken, and that resurrected individual taking the wand to the plane of Positive Energy with the intent to destroy it. But Orcus, and perhaps his guards over the site, are the only ones who know the location of the body. However, Orcus had vanished once, not long past, less than a century ago, and returned (also canon), though his wand was not destroyed. If he had been killed as was thought, the memories upon his death may be trapped on the fourth plane of Acheron, in the infinite ice sheets of Ocanthus, said to be the final destination of the river styx. If you seek out the witch Wee Jas on Acheron, you may find memories of the body's location.

Travelling to Acheron, you make your way down to Orcanthus, and find Cabal Macabre, the giant crystalline castle that is her lair. Upon making a deal, trading a memory for a memory, you can learn the location of the corpse that made up the Wand of Orcus. You were however told that discretion and secrecy must be used, since Orcus can summon the wand to his side at any time, and if he learns that some have sought the hero of the wand, he may not lend it out to his demons for the great raising.

Through whatever means, you retrieve the body, slap a true resurrection on it, and crank out a hero. Assumingly you accomplished this in the 3 week time frame you've been given, and can snag the wand from the demon, hurl it at the hero of yore who pops it over to the plane of Positive Energy, and Orcus gets a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. I imagine this whole paragraph (after waiting for the demon to return) takes place in about 5 minutes, with an anti-scrying device in the area.

Uh oh, Orcus be pissed. Getting your b a's back to Aurnozci, that happy little fellow had already molted, and you can all go and find a very upset Orcus. You pop him and yourselves into a giant bubble, where you give the bbeg a once-over. Aurnozci thanks you for your time, says he has no desire to be caught in the middle of the power vacuum caused by this (being new to his form and not especially powerful), and flutters off. You guys can poof on out of there, celebrations galore, and the world is saved.

Additional locations you could stumble across: Seelie Market, Kolyoral ant cube, other stuff! Special thanks to the books Sigil and the Outlands, Book of Many Things, Manual of the Planes, and of course the Epic Level Handbook.

Additional stuff to be added here as needed, though I imagine the vast majority of details is given above, and it's moreso going to be character stats and specific names and scenarios that will appear on the pages to the right as they come up.

Opening page

Full campaign details
The scratch notes, showing the title, venn diagram like circles with the major plot points like waterdeep tavern, insect thing, outlands, wee jas, and orcus, as well as a disconnected circle for the feywild travelling caravan as a place they could potentially visit. The sheet of looseleaf sits on a cardboard surface.

Back to The Dead Arise, opening page