Cleavers of Epixenie

Author’s Note: The Castle Rendelshod and the Lords of Rendelshod are key items in the history of Trivana. They were the protectors of law and order across Trivana for nearly a thousand years. Their reign ended when the demon lord Jxtl slew their patron goddess, Epixenie. This triggered a war among the gods which ended twenty years later when, in close proximity in time, the war between the gods ended with the deaths of half the gods, a tremendous upheaval shattered the northern half of Trivana, and the Lords of Rendelshod fought Jxtl at his castle in the Abyss and lost.

This era is called the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms, and time is recorded with the nomenclature After the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms (ASNK)

In 7917 ASNK the PCs of my first campaign assisted the Lords of Rendelshod, who had been condemned to everlasting life as skeleton warriors, in re-grouping and having a second chance to kill Jxtl. This played out as a mind game for the players. Most of it took place off stage, although we did run a LONG game one night (started at 2PM and finished 3AM) in which the players took on the part of the Lords of Rendelshod and trashed Jxtl’s palace and killed him.

This reinforced the rule that undead are NOT player characters and showed that even a poorly played Skeleton Warrior is a deadly thing. I also gained understanding of why a good villain should never be killed, which is why Jxtl was only slightly dead and later regained his power.

A thousand years before the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms the Lords of Rendelshod held sway in many desolate areas. They were originally lords of all races, of Chaotic Good alignment, who banded together in a common society. Each fought Evil the best he could.

The Lords of Rendelshod knew they could not destroy all Evil and so fought on a limited scale. Vast areas came under their protection and they sought to extend their influence to even greater areas. For all their power they did not rule, they merely fought great sources of evil. The act of governing and of fighting lesser evils they left to others.

At any one time there were eighteen of their fighting men. Each carried a great weapon, a Cleaver, gifts from their patron goddess Epixenie. These were weapons of great power, with many powers including intelligence. What was most feared was their ability to cleave in twain the bodies of their foes, much as does a Vorpal blade remove heads. Each had a special purpose to destroy Lawful Evil beings.

Constantly on their guard, the minions of Lawful Evil including the greatest arch-devils could not destroy them or keep them from their duty. The Lords, however, failed to watch for other great sources of evil, their single-mindedness protecting them only from Lawful Evil.

The demon lord Jxtl, the Prince of Deception, saw this weakness and waited. Finally, he saw his chance and began a web of trickery and lies that the Lords could not see through. The web was completed when the Lords were deceived into allowing their patron goddess to be killed.

The Lords of Rendelshod then saw that their arrogance had paved the way for the betrayal of themselves. With Epixenie gone the castles of the Lords were sacked, one by one. Hosts of evil things advanced on the Last Keep of Rendelshod, the first and strongest of their order. This was the beginning of the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms.

Seeing their doom, the Lords sent away all their remaining servitors and lesser members. The eighteen went to face down Jxtl and at least pay a little for their arrogance. They went to their dooms.

After defeating them the Prince of Deception used his demonic powers and transformed them into Skeleton Warriors. He doomed them to wander the Prime Material plane until each of the 18 Cleavers, which he scattered, was recovered.

His doom was a deception, for the first sword that could be recovered he kept in his possession so that the doom would be eternal. The rest he scattered about the Prime Material knowing that without the first none of the others would be found.

Unfortunately for Jxtl a brave adventurer stole that fateful blade, not knowing what it was. The adventurer lost it shortly after and none no knows where that fateful blade now rests. The Demon Lord still searches for that Cleaver, knowing that if the Lords regain their swords they will regain their power.

written by Galafid, adviser to Teroip Temstarp, the last First Lord of Rendelshod

Each Lord is the equivalent of a 15th level fighter. Each has 138 hit points and has the human equivalent of 18 in all statistics except strength, which is 20.

Any encountered will be wearing Chain Mail +4, carry a Shield +4, a magic weapon of at least +3 quality, and one item from each of the following tables: Rings and E1 through E5 (see DMG).

In addition, each is 90% magically resistant and is immune to the following effects: Sleep, Charm, Hold, Cold, Insanity, Electricity, Enfeeblement, Polymorph, Slow, Haste, and Death Spells/Symbols. Attacks are 3 per round at +3 to hit and +8 damage (due to strength). If alignment is detected they will radiate Chaotic Neutral.

A Lord will try to regain his Cleaver without violence, but if pressed will fight savagely. Upon gaining the sword the Lord will be teleported to the Castle Rendelshod to await the coming of his fellows in the crypt deep below the castle.

A Cleaver has an intelligence of 18 and ego of 35. Each is capable of speaking human, all demi-human, and all humanoid languages. The sword is a Greatsword +3, +7 vs. Lawful Evil Creatures and Demons. Each has the following powers usable at will, one per round: Detect Alignment, Detect Secret Doors, Flying, Protection from Evil, and Telekinesis. Each also has the special purpose of destroying Lawful Evil creatures and the special purpose power of Disintegrate. On a natural 20 the opponent is dealt an additional 10d10 points of damage, and if this kills the opponent is cloven in twain.

Author’s Note: I considered giving the swords different powers, but when writing this (1983?) I realized the players would never possess a Cleaver more than momentarily, so I didn’t waste the time.

When each of the Lords of Rendelshod regains his Cleaver, all will be in the crypt below the Castle Rendelshod. From there they will Plane Shift to the domain of Jxtl and will seek to destroy him.

Jxtl knows this and knows fear. He will do anything in his power to prevent they Lords from finding their Cleavers. He will not hesitate to destroy any and all who attempt to aid the Lords, regardless of whether the aid is direct or indirect, intentional or not.

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