An Introduction to Chaos

The Ominous Tower (Synopsis)
42 Ominous Tower Drive... that doesn't sound forboding

Despite being number 42, the old EO house is the only house
on the long and winding “Ominous Tower Drive”, and ends up
being about a two hour walk from Cysgod’s West Gate.
On either side of the porch is a large liger statue, being
the symbol of EO. As the party approached the porch, the statues
started growling, before coming to life and attacking the party.
After defeating the ligers, the party heard some hurried conversation
from inside the house. They ran right in the front door, to find
another guard statue. While fighting this one, two enormous
wererats dressed in backwards baseball caps and polos dropped down
from the rafters to attack them. Upon being killed, they turned back
into fairly bro-ish looking knaves.

Even for a frat house, it is pretty freaking large. As the adventurers traversed
the halls, they passed many rooms which, in all likelihood, were singles at one point.
The rooms are empty, other than a few piles of bones of questionable
origin. Eventually they come to a staircase, which leads both up and down.

Going down the stairs leads to a larger room.
The walls are adorned with tapestries, and there is a fireplace, which is bare.
The adventurers feel a shiver run through their bodies as the temperature drops
significantly. On the far wall is a large mechanical wheel, connected to a large network of gears. Some are dislodged on pegs, and can be pushed in to activate certain gear paths.
The top path snakes up to the ceiling and up into the middle of the room, where it
connects to an axle going into the ceiling. The adventurers can’t tell where it goes.
The bottom path: goes down to the right, and over to the fireplace.
The right path goes to the door of the room.
As the players are considering the gears, they are attacked by two spectral creatures.
The players test out the different gear combinations, which end up locking and unlocking the door to the room, doing something unknown in the ceiling, and causing smoke to come from the fireplace. Enna and Nienna breath it in, causing a warming sensation to wash over the character’s body. They break out into patches of fur on their arms.

Going back up the stairs leads to a door with a large intricate locking system which seems to have been disengaged by the gears below.

Beyond the door is a very large room.
Two long tables run its length, with rows of wooden chairs on either side,
which have apparently not been used in a long time.
An iron chandelier is hung by a rope between the two tables.
There is a pair of doors at the other end of the hall.
the PCs hear metallic clinking, slowly growing closer and closer.
The sound appears to be coming from beneath the two tables.
Nienna shoots an arrow at the rope holding the chandelier, and it comes crashing down onto the two tables. from the wreckage emerge two large iron snakes.
After defeating the snakes, the party considers the two doors.
One has a large Epsilon on it, and the other has an Omicron.
The party notices a small starfish-like symbol inscribed inside the Omicron.

The characters knock on the other door. Charles DuBois claims to be the pizza delivery man.
He is very convincing.
Inside the room is a young man with a scraggy beard in a black robe
and two other men in grey robes staring at you.There is another gear wheel on the wall.
The man in black addresses you: “Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”
Charles admits that he is not, in fact, the pizza delivery man, but that he’s looking for the book same as he. The man turns out to be Ernesto. They converse for around 15 minutes before Ernesto decides not to team up with the adventurers, because they’ve probably seen some stuff in his house which the authorities wouldn’t approve of.
He throws off his cloak, beneath which he was wearing a slightly smaller cloak.
He starts spinning a spiked chain and shouts “Pledges: Attack!”
The two men in grey robes rush at the party, brandishing maces.
After taking them out, they fight Ernesto, deciding not to kill him after they beat him unconscious.

The wheel on the wall lowers a rope ladder, which leads to Ernesto’s private quarters, which contain, among other things, a small bed, a bookshelf, and numerous pieces of paper nailed to the wooden posts in the walls.
On one of them is found:
An Introduction to Chaos
Ucian and Davio Ebonfog
Published by Darkprentice Hall
ISBN (International Scrying Beacon Number): 0-06-098903-3

The adventurers proceed to get the freak out.

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The Book (Synopsis)
A mysterious textbook requests leads to an encounter with the morally grey arts...

While visiting the city of Cysgod, the adventurers decide to browse around
The Tinshrift Wonderbook Emporium (and Gallery), drawn in by the vibrant
colors and impressive typography on the shop’s sign.
Unfortunately, it turns out to be a used textbook store, and the
only reason why the adventurers are still hanging around is because the owner,
Dirk Tinshrift, won’t stop talking. He is a small, nervous man, his face
adorned with oversized spectacles, and wearing a green apron over
his white robes. He excitedly shows them his numerous watercolor
paintings, which adorn the walls. They are all paintings of
famous textbooks.
LOOK.” he says, fiercely gesticulating at three paintings
which are showcased above the register. “These are my FAVORITES!
‘Advanced Telekinetics’, ‘Studying for the Occlumency GRE
and… oh! ‘Arcane Haberdashery!’ You probably took that, didn’t you!”
he laughs, elbowing Nienna in the ribs.
“Wellll here I am, blathering on again! What brings you fair folks to
Cysgod? I take it you’re not students at the university, hah!”

The adventurers inform him that they are not, in fact, students at the
university, and that they must be getting on their way.

“Oh! But… maybe you can help me with something!
This one fellow keeps coming in, looking for a copy of
ahhhhh “Introduction to Chaos”, but that’s a volume
I’ve never heard of before, and that’s a rare occurrence,
I’ll tell ye that! Let’s see here…"
He leafs through a large leather-bound tome which
takes up most of the space at the counter.
“Ah, yes. ‘Introduction to Chaos’. He hasn’t listed an
author, or publisher, or Scrying Beacon Number… sorry,
I-S-B-N. But if you went and asked him about it I’m sure
he could give you more information. He’s named Ernesto Jenkins.
He seems eager to find it, too, he says he’ll give me… well,er… I’ll give you
200 gold… Total, of course. Well, that’s final. Good! Oh that would
be ever so helpful! I mean, you will help me, won’t you?”

Charles DuBois uses his charismatic demeanor to convince Dirk to
double the amount, and the adventurers agree to the contract.

The players go to the college bookstore… nothing.
They go to the library… nothing.
It appears the textbook is not for one of the classes being offered at the university.
Even the librarian knows nothing about the book, but she is able to locate Ernesto Jenkins
in the library records. He had been a graduate student but dropped out a few years ago.
He was also a member of the Epsilon Omega fraternity, whose current headquarters is currently above The Lyre and Talon Inn.

The adventurers venture to the inn, and, after buying a round of drinks for the college-aged patrons, inquire after Ernesto. It appears that he was in fact a member of the fraternity, but
his studies in the “morally-grey arts” led him deeper and deeper into seclusion, and when he graduated, he used the money available to him in his trust fund to purchase the frat house (at 42 Ominous Tower drive), in order to continue using it for “further studies”.

The party decides to go and check it out.

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The Emporium
An Introduction to An Introduction to Chaos

Nothing attracts visitors like a good sign. Dirk Tinshrift had read that somewhere, and hoped it was true, as it was about all he had going for him. To be fair, the “Tinshrift Wonderbook Emporium (and Gallery)” was not a bad shop all in all, but the fact of the matter was that when passers-by saw the title of the Emporium, with its two foot gold letters trimmed with crimson, its exquisite typography, and, of course, the addition of the word “Gallery”, the last thing they expected the Emprium to be was a used textbook shop, which, of course, was precisely what it was.

The problem with catering solely to the opuscular needs of the students of major and minor arcana at the University of Cysgod was that business was very seasonal. At the beginning of the semester, the Emporium was teeming with budding arcanists and artificers with lists of various tomes, compendiums and quartos to acquire for the semester. Over the subsequent weeks, business would dwindle, with the only customers being the laziest of students who were finally getting around to buying their textbooks. At this point in the semester, however, the only customers were those students taking Thaumatergical Literature, or other classes which allowed them to purchase their books sequentially as the course progressed. In order to make up some of the profit he was missing during this time of year, Dirk had made a key addition to his shop; the Gallery.

It had been one of Dirk’s brighter ideas. Many attempts to augment his income had come before, including but not limited to selling preserves of rare and obscure fruits, homemade spell components, and one promising but ultimately unsuccessful endeavor involving a barbershop quartet (behind the counter), an empty hat (upon the counter), and a sign encouraging tips (below the counter). The Gallery, on the other hand, was an entirely different creature, and mildly successful at that. The idea for the Gallery had come from his mother, who, while poking around the attic, had stumbled upon several watercolors he had done in grade school, and had thoughtfully mailed them to him so that he could decide whether or not they should be thrown out. Dirk, who was rather proud of his excursions into the world of art, had decided that they should not be thrown out, and had instead hung them in his shop. Much to his surprise, some people will actually pay for watercolors of popular textbooks, a fact he discovered when a wealthy tourist with a distinct lack of watercolors of popular textbooks entered his store one day. Inspired, Dirk had decided to start painting again, and had somehow managed to sell enough paintings of textbooks over the past several years to make the middle and latter portions of the academic calendar more bearable, bolstering what he referred to as his “primarily thaumatergical income”.

This morning had been decidedly thaumatergical. A grand total of three students had entered the Emporium today. Two had purchased copies of Felix Naestrahan’s play The Ensorclled Doubt. (5s14c ea.), and the other had come by mistake. Exactly zero of them had inquired as to the price of the watercolors hanging above the desk, which Dirk considered some of his finest works; Advanced Telekinetics, Studying for the Occlumancy GRE and Arcane Haberdashery, which, as it happened, were priced at 1g23s, 87s and 1g56s respectively. Dirk was starting to think he might actually lose money today, and that perhaps it would be a better use of his time to close up the store, go home, and enjoy a nice glass of ambrosia and a book on runic calligraphy.

This all changed when a fourth person entered the shop. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this all changed when the fourth person exited the shop, as Dirk was so caught up in his thoughts of ambrosia and books and fireplaces and watercolors and such that he didn’t notice that anyone else had entered the shop until he heard the door close and noticed the sealed envelope sitting on the counter in front of him. Dirk adjusted his spectacles, looked around, coughed, and looked back down at the envelope. It was addressed to “The Tinshrift Wonderbook Emporium (and Gallery)”.

“Wouldn’t want to open somebody else’s letters,” Dirk said aloud. Upon remembering that he was the only one there, he coughed to himself, picked up the envelope and turned it over. It was sealed with red wax, imprinted with the letters Epsilon and Omicron. It looked very official and impressive. Dirk broke the seal and opened the letter. Inside was a small note, containing only the following four lines.

Looking for An Introduction to Chaos
Needed A.S.A.P.
Will pay 650g.
~Ernesto Jenkins

Dirk coughed rather loudly, readjusted his spectacles, ran a hand through his mostly-nonexistent white hair, read the letter again, replaced it in its envelope, and placed it in the drawer under the counter.

“Well,” he stammered, and sat down for a long think in his chair.

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