I am sure most of you have figured out by now that AIJ and Darkserra are one and the same..
Not like it was any great secret...
The Bugs/Demons/Mind flayer plot has been so long and complex, that I thought the players might want to know the WHOLE of it.... and since I am going to be gone, it won't hurt to give it away.
This is a huge post... so sit back, grab a snack and a cold one and read on!!
"It was a dark and stormy night.... " err
"Once upon a time... " naw
"A long time ago, in a galax.... " not that
In the mists of Hala pre-history, long before the Fall, the war between the Upper and Lower Planes stretched the fabric of existence, ripping holes that allowed creatures from another reality to slip through. This reality was a place of Chaos and creatures that feed on magic as food.
Ysgard was torn asunder by these creatures until a way was found to seal the rifts.
A crystal native to Ysgard was found to resonate with the rifts and acted as planar "glue," sealing the rifts. An artifact was constructed for the crystal that maintained the crystals ability to keep the rifts shut once they were closed.
Millennia later, two Professors of Magic at Nagritch University were excavating in the great magical tower in the center of Nagritch. The found a strange artifact with a glowing crystal. They removed the artifact to the University Summoning classroom for further study. After weeks of study, and desperate for a academic breakthrough, they decided to separate the crystal from the artifact. No effect was observed once this was done, except the crystal dimmed a bit. Eventually, the artifact and crystal were stored as the professors moved on to new discoveries.
Once the crystal was separated from the artifact, the "glue" holding the rifts shut began to fail.
Slowly at first, tiny rifts opened, growing larger as the weeks went by. Finally, creatures began to find their way through the rifts. Spellspawn bugs were attracted to Ysgard by the amount of magic being used. Chaos also spilled through the rifts, sometimes linking rifts that existed on other planes and all sorts of unusual creatures began appearing all over Ysgard.
Unknown to the Professors, there was one group on Ysgard that DID know what the crystal could do and knew about the spellspawn. The Illithids of Ysgard had knowledge of the alternate reality and the creatures that lived there. Once they encountered the spellspawn, they began looking for the rifts and realized that Ysgard's protection was gone. The greatest Mind flayer scientist knew that something had to be done before the rifts became permanent and Ysgard was overrun by Chaos creatures. Knowing that the artifact was located in Nagritch, the 'Flayer Scientist knew it would be heavily guarded within the grounds of the University. His only option was to find another crystal.
The 'Flayer scientist had recently constructed a psionic amplifier, a device that pooled the psionic powers of six strong 'Flayers and allowed the 'Flayer Scientist to use the power. Using the amplifier, the 'Flayer Scientist began looking for rifts and found many across Hala and Ysgard. Time was running short.
"Bugs from Below, Part I" or "Bug Wars"
The 'Flayer Scientist realized that it needed a crystal soon, but did not know where to find them
It needed to send out search parties but knew that the swarms of adventurers on Hala and the various organizations of Ysgard would not let parties of 'Flayers roam about, especially that group of meddling do-gooders, the Celestial Order. It needed a plan....
Looking about Hala, the 'Flayer Scientist realized that the driders and their Queen were being overrun by adventurers on a daily basis. Understanding that by helping her, it could tie down both the CO and the adventurers, the 'Flayer Scientist spent several days in its library, constructing a "lost" book of knowledge the it would ensure would fall into the Queen's hands.
This book detailed the existence of special portals that acted as roads between the Planes.
These portals were special in that any being that came through the portal became a native
of the destination. Travelers could stay indefinitely at their destination and were given the ability to survive in the new environment. The book described how to construct such a portal and knowledge about creatures that have used the portal in the past.
The Queen used the book to construct a portal and contacted a power being that was capable of crossing through. Algaliarept the Awesome (Big Al) was a demon general that had walked the ancient roads and was willing to deal with the Queen. In return for destroying her enemies, the Queen was willing to open a portal for the demon and his army.
Once the demons began arriving, they spread out in the caverns under Mirtho, agitating the vermin of the depths and forcing them to the surface. The noise also awoke another being, an ancient being that had been sleeping for many years. Qzxytly the Anciet was the leader of the ettercap race, and knew immediately that the demons would enslave his people but knew it would need help. He awoke fully and went to seek allies...
During the ensuing chaos of hordes of vermin overrunning Hala, the 'Flayer Scientist and his students scoured Ysgard for signs of the necessary crystal, but found nothing. The 'Flayer Scientist also helped Big Al, offering its "services" to the new master of Hala. In reality, was conducting a series of experiments using psionically mutated forms of the spellspawn. One form was capable of infecting humanoid hosts and influencing the host’s thoughts...
During this time, the Celestial Order member Triah was captured by Big Al and tortured, leading to a rescue attempt. During the same time, the 'Flayer Scientist unleashed the modified worms on an unsuspecting populace. In a daring rescue, Triah was freed from vile capativity, while the worms infected many of the rescuing party. During the rescue the 'Flayer Scientist appeared, to record the results of his experiments. Deeming the experiment a failure, for only 50% of available hosts were capable of being infected, the 'Flayer Scientist removed the worms from the hosts, returning to the laboratory to start anew.
Regrouping, the adventurers plundered the Black Tower, retrieving a book that explained the ancient roads and how to reverse its effects. An assault on the driders caves followed, with the book being used to construct an artifact that would destroy the portal. An epic battle followed, with the adventurers victorious and the portal destroyed, sucking back everything that had came through.
"Bugs from Below Part II" or "The 'Flayer Strikes Back"
The 'Flayer Scientist realized that his plan was in ruins, so it decided that another plan was in order. This time, rather than relying on others to do the work, the 'Flayer Scientist would do it itself. Using the full powers of the psionic amplifier, the 'Flayer Scientist mutated creatures from the alternate reality and from Ysgard, thereby creating an army of creatures to defend against the coming invasion. Using groups of hapless adventurers as test subjects, the 'Flayer Scientist created newer and more deadly creatures. Some of the creatures were created from a blending of human and non-human tissue.
The 'Flayer Scientist was also searching for the crystals, using both psionic images and groups of 'flayers to search. The 'Flayer was running out of time as it was spending large amounts of time with its experiments and the rifts were growing larger,. The 'Flayer Scientist was using more and more power from the psionic amplifier in an attempt to wall off the rifts, drawing power away from other uses.
Getting desperate, the 'Flayer Scientist decided more searchers were needed, so it approached several residents of Ysgard to search for the crystal, promising knowledge and protection in return for the crystal. As an insurance plan, the 'Flayer Scientist decided to clone itself, implanting a cloned 'Flayer seed in an unfortunate adventurer.
Eventually a crystal was found and 'Flayer Scientist took possession, after killing most of the party of adventures that had the crystal. Much to the 'Flayer Scientists anguish, this crystal was too small to close the rifts... but was capable of producing incredible amounts of power when installed in the psionic amplifier. Time was short, as the Alpha Event was nearing... that point when the rifts became too large to close and the creatures of Chaos came flooding into Ysgard.
Using the crystal, the amplifer increased its output 100-fold, and allowed the 'Flayer Scientist to create a huge army of creatures. But in the testing of the amplifier, the crystal was drained. The crystal was like a battery, with a finite charge, much to the 'Flayer Scientist's surprise. When the crystal burned out, it damaged the psionic amplifier, reducing its output.
During this period of weakness, the heroes of Ysgard attacked, fighting through the weakened defenses and destroying the 'Flayer Scientist, its companions and the psionic amplifier. So the heroes thought. The 'Flayer Scientist was not dead, but had managed to thrust itself into the Astral as the last second, and it sent an image projection to the celebrating heroes, warning that they had doomed themselves, as the Alpha Event was soon and now no one was defending Ysgard.
Shortly after the destruction of the psionic amplifier, several parties of Githyanki and Githzerai appeared, drawn to the site by the large amount of psionic power. A portion of the 'Flayer Scientist's notebook was retrieved by the party after fighting off the Gith in a three-way battle. The rest of the book went the Gith.
"Bug from Below, Part III" or "Return of the Spellspawn"
With the interference of the psionic amplifier gone, the rifts were open again, and more spellspawn came through, appearing all over Hala. Back in the University, urgent research into the spellspawn suggested some conclusions on their origins. The two Professors realized that the artifact was connected. After a confrontation with the Dean, both Professors concluded that only by closing the rifts themselves would ensure their survival. A few experiments showed that the artifact did not close the rifts, but with the Dean looking for them, they stole the large crystal and fled from Nagritch.
Constantly moving, the Professors conducted experiments with the crystal, but to their horror, even bigger creatures started coming through, including some type of huge spider that feasted on the spellspawn. Their research showed that the largest of the rifts was in the Black Tower, always known for its wild, unstable magic.
The two managed to make it to the top of the Black Tower, and they decided on a gamble. They summoned a creature known for its planar travels, Big Al. Fortunately for them, one of the Professors was an expert in summoning extra planar creatures and managed to prevent Big Al from killing them both. During the summoning session, a group of heroes arrived in the Tower, distracting the Professors and nearly getting them killed. The Professors managed to send Big Al away and waited for the heroes to leave, then made their way to Hangate.
In their absence, University of Nagritch expelled the Professors and the city declared them traitors and sentenced them to death. The Dean of the University was sent to find the two and execute them. A group of heroes found the Dean West of Nagritch later that evening, on their way to an area infested with large bugs.
Arriving near Hangate, the heroes found an area infested with the biggest bugs seen yet. After a hard-fought battle to gain entrance to the underground area, the bodies of both Professors were found, along with an extremely large crystal protected by an anti-magic death ward. The bodies were searched and eventually a way was found to destroy the ward by using the carcass of a spell eating spider.
Using the crystal, a way was found to close the rifts by bring the crystal into contact with the rift. An unfortunate side effect was that during the closing, an energy was released that kills everyone in the area near the rift. After much discussion, a group was formed that systematically closed all the smaller rifts, paying the price each time.
Finally, all the smaller rifts were closed, leaving only the large rift at the top of the Black Tower. A party of heroes assembled and entered the Tower, only to be met with hordes of bugs and other strange denizens of the place. Several smaller rifts were found and closed.
At the top of the Tower, the main rift was located and after a savage fight against creatures spawning from the opening, the rift was closed, resulting in the death of nearly the entire group. Fortunately, a few survived and brought the rest back from the Halls. The victorious heroes returned to Mirtho Rest to recover from their wounds and start embellishing their tales of victory.
So there you have it... and please forgive the formatting mistakes