Faction Alignments: Lawful Evil, Evil, Chaotic Evil
The Cult of the Dragon
The Lord’s Alliance
The Emerald Enclave
The Order of the Gauntlet
Skulls of Skullport
Skullport, also known as the city of shadows, is a subterranean city located deep below Waterdeep, on the 3rd level of the undermountain. Built on an ancient Netherese ruin, within an immense subterranean cavern, the shadowy port was a dark reflection of the City of Splendors above. Skullport presumably earned its moniker from the thirteen skulls which ruled the city in past times. The skulls are said to be the spirits of former extremely powerful Netherese mages whom created what is known as the mantle which drew its power from a Mythallar. The mythallar was a sentient and powerful arcane relic capable of generating nearly limitless power, its purpose was to withstand the immense weight of the surrounding world, preventing cave ins and protecting the town. At one point in time the Mythallar’s magic started faltering and these thirteen arcanists sacrificed their lives to fuel the ancient relic, resulting in them having become the skulls. Immortal beings that policed the city proper but were also trapped inside of it, eternally linked to the artifact.
Unsatisfied with their restrictions they plotted in secret to set themselves free from the binding that slowly took away their sanity and personality. One of their experiments involved the capture of a drow archmage, which they twisted and turned into an entity only known by the moniker ‘the rag mage’, which for reasons unknown later turned into the legendary fourteenth skull. Where the other skulls had turned into a collective hivemind, the fourteenth skull was able to maintain its independence at the cost of his former identity; unbound by the limitations that bound the other thirteen. And over time he had begun to resent the Skulls of skullport as the first thirteen were so aptly named. It believed it’s unique nature made it destined to supplant the other Skulls and reign as open master of Skullport.
How does the Fray fit into this?
The original Fray, were a group of thirteen mages handpicked by the fourteenth skull to do his bidding. Whenever one of their numbers died the Skull would replace them by empowering one of its many followers. This was done through rite of a ritual where the skull floated above its followers as they wailed and chanted, trying to capture its attention. Their cries continue after one of them is chosen as a supplicant, upon that follower would a torrent of harmless magical flame be channeled into its eyes and mouth. By the end of the ritual this person would be an official member of the thirteen mages that made up the original Fray members, empowered by its master’s magical might.
The Fray were incentivized by the skull to do his bidding, with the promise that they would be turned into skulls themselves, to replace the original thirteen that currently ruled.
Around a 100 years ago a powerful being ended the reign of the skulls of skullport. Using a powerful artifact on the Mythallar to destroy four of them, turning the remainder into undead.
With the leader of the Fray being removed and the Mythallar once again faltering in magical power, the group fell into disarray, not having a directive other than their original wish to become rulers of the city. They started looking for alternative ways to influence the city and wrestle control from gangs or other unsavoury groups, all the while dedicating themselves to maintaining the mantle that protected the area; seeking out magical artifacts or gifted magical users to sacrifice to the relic, so that it’s power remained stable.
The original thirteen mages that made the Fray had passed away over this time span, and with them the last of the legacy of the rag mage had faded. The Fray now operates more akin to an organization with deeper roots to the city than most, wanting to see it prosper whilst leveraging its influence from the shadows.