The Sultan of Vanch

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Created On 22 October 1997
Last Updated On 22 October 1997
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1997

There comes a point in any campaign where it needs something to spice it up a bit, to give it a focus and direction which had been lost. This point came around halfway through the Dorastor Campaign when the PCs had achieved much of what they had set out to do and were milling around, waiting for things to happen to them. I needed something to buck their ideas up, something which would worry them, something which they would be in awe of. I came up with the Sultan of Vanch.

The party first met this individual when trashing a Thanatar Temple. Well, they did not actually meet him, they merely found an office in the Temple containing a few books on Summoning Demons and a recipe for "Turning Man like unto an Animal". They also found a bottle of the said potion and the nephew of a Lhankor Mhy Priest who was visiting his Uncle in The Hold. They returned said nephew and forgot the incident entirely. I had to prod and prod them until they thought it strange that a Lhankor Mhy acolyte was a prisoner in a Thanatar Temple. After much promting, they decided to investigate and eventually uncovered a devious plot (with the help of many Fluorescent Arrows) to undermine the cult of Lhankor Mhy by turning the main priests and acolytes in the area into Familiars for a Thanatar Priest who would whisper secrets into their heads as if he was a Lhankor Mhy Angel. It was a dastardly plot which almost succeeded. As it was, the party had the entire set of priests and acolytes in the Hold Temple sent off to the Library where they would be guarded and kept from harm.

This infuriated the Sultan of Vanch for he had been working on this plan for the last fifty years and had gained three good Lhankor Mhy Priests and half a dozen acolytes on the fast track. So, he set out for revenge and sent some demons against the party.

Needless to say, the party retaliated and attacked him in Dorastor, driving him out of the Thanatar Temples there (and Brankist becoming the Doomed Man). There followed several round of tit for tat actions resulting in several of the Sultan’s villas being destroyed (by dwarven terrorists, allegedly) and the party gaining his Demon Library. They also managed to free Jar-An who had been held captive and several members of the party lost their reflections.

Then Derak sent Teacher against the Sultan of Vanch, telling him that Solarus had commanded it and things went from bad to worse. The Sultan of Vanch sent his nephew, a Yelm Priest, into Balazar as a Governor of Elkoi only for Solarus to assassinate him one night. The party managed to defeat all of his attacks on them but always managed to get into worse trouble afterwards. Solarus was implicated in these attacks and was declared fair game in the Dart Wars. Derak lost his reflection and for a while lost the ability to Discorporate (for a shaman that is fairly bad). Eventually they patched up their relations and decided to help each other, both sides being extremely flexible and knowing that eventually one side or the other would be killed and neither side knowing which it would be.

This is all very well, but who was the Sultan of Vanch?

He was one of the very earliest God Learners. He was a HeroQuestor of Tien the Severed God and it was he who found the Atyar cult and joined them together into the cult of Thanatar. He then backed out of the cult proper, retaining all his abilities but giving up all status in the cult, so that he would not be drawn in as a Hero completing the tie-up. In other words, he avoided becoming Thanatar’s Neck.

When the God Learners were destroyed, he escaped by becoming temporarily insane and forgetting all his spells and abilities for a couple of decades. When the insanity lifted, he hid away in Dorastor within the Thanatar cult and started to plot and plan.

He soon moved into the land of Vanch, in order to keep an eye on the Golden Eagles and became embroiled in politics. Over the centuries he built up a power base there by marrying his kin into powerful clans. With the rise of the Lunar Empire he started dabbling in the Dart Wars, using his knowledge of Demons, Dreams, Mirrors and Thanatar to good advantage. He was known by many as the "Sultan of Vanch" even though he was not King and Vanch is not a Sultanate, for he always maintained that once Vanch became a Sultanate he would become Sultan. He was proved wrong when the Party had the Red Emperor ban him from living anywhere within the Empire’s borders, this was a most impressive deed at the time, but I can’t remeber how they did it.

All in all, he was a Super Villain who would be a thorn in the party’s side for many years.

His most memorable deed was to tell the party about the God Contest and mock Solarus with his "Powerful God", after all, he had known Monrogh when he was building the cult, he said, and he wasn’t very clever then. This shook Solarus to the core and made him HeroQuest to Yelmalio’s Halls and speak to Monrogh himself. What he learned did not endear him to his own cult and he resolved to leave it as soon as he was able. This lead him to HeroQuest to prove that Balazar had been a Yelm Hero, that he was descended from Balazar through the Male Line, that he was King by Balazar’s power and thus that he could be king through Yelm’s Power. He managed to get Pentian Yelmic approval of his claim and then HeroQuested to prove himself to be a Yelmic King by undergoing a series of test akin to the Ten Tests. Thus, the Sultan of Vanch was directly responsible for Solarus leaving Yelmalio and becoming a Yelm Imperator King and becoming hated by the Dara Happan Yelm cult.

The Sultan of Vanch also introduced the party to a number of God Learners who had survived and persuaded them to learn God Learner secrets and rituals. He was very persuasive and cunning, was the Sultan of Vanch. He knew all the right buttons to press and how far to drive the party before they would attack him.

I reckon that the Sultan of Vanch was the most useful and enjoyable NPC enemy I used in Dorastor, better even than Ralzakark and the Giant King of NeverDead.