New Points of Light! (And Dark!)

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Alriiiight my first post EVER on these forums (I think >.>). Saw this thread and couldn't pass it up. Here's just one of a myriad different locales in my campaign world that could be used as an adventuring spot!

Blackshard Tower

Blackshard Tower stands as a testament to a long lost age. Towering alone in the Selpin Flats, able to be seen for miles around, the tower's stark black walls contrast the salt plain's bleached white granules. The tower itself sits within a crater, as if the Gods grasped the spire as a lightning bolt and cast it into the ground.

Once, long before the Age of Ash, the tower was the grand estate of the Onyx Order; a magical institution rival to that of the elf run Conservatory or the Magister's Initiative. While the Conservatory sought to find, catalogue, and inevitably hide away the magical secrets of the world, and the Magister's Initiative was to mix the arcane and mundane science together for the betterment of the nations, the Onyx Order pursued magic for magic's sake, to gain knowledge and powers previously forbidden to mortal use. To this end, those of the Onyx Order were seen as wild, power-hungry, and corrupt.

When the great Scouring engulfed the world and rained down its ash, the three academies did not fare well. Moments before the disaster at Mt. Rul, the entire campus of the Conservatory suddenly vanished, leaving a massive pit in the ground where it once stood. The college of the Magister's Initiative was decimated when the mount exploded, and turning the entirety of the college's homeland into the bloodied scar that is now known as the Ashlands. At this time, Blackshard Tower sat further north in the city-state of Orndil. When the ash began to cover the world, the greatest minds of the Onyx Order attempted to shift their tower into the Shadowfell to escape the disaster.

It was 200 years after the coming of the Ash that the world saw the Blackshard Tower again, when it suddenly manifested yards above the Selpin Flats, and plummeted to the Earth. Its impact shuddered the small trading town of Corcoran, located along the flat's edge and making a living farming the salts of the plain (which it then sold to the city-state of Emolund, the only city of recognizable power for hundreds of miles around). Quickly word spread of the return of the Tower, but there was no sign of those belonging to the Order. Soon adventurers out of Emolund set out to explore the Tower, but none ever returned.

Soon Corcoran began noticing a strange taint in the salt, seeming to emanate from the Tower. It had become poisonous to those who ate it, and was an irritant to the skin. Sand storms comprised of the salt would blow through the town; an event that had never happened until the Tower's return. The salt proved very corrosive to the town folk's homes and businesses, and soon the small town fell into disrepair, and its people sickly. Corcoran cried out for help to Emolund, but the city's government suddenly turned a deaf ear to their pleas. The ruling body did, however, continue to send sell-swords to the Tower on a regular basis, regardless of the dangers. Stranger still was the appearance of shady looking individuals walking amongst the nobles of the city, their bodies pierced and marked in painful places.

Why did the Tower suddenly reappear? Where have those of the Onyx Order disappeared to? Just what happened to the Tower while in the Shadowfell? Does that explain the sudden appearance of the Shadar'kai in Emolund? Furthermore, why are Shadar'kai mingling with the ruling nobility of the city? What ailment has befallen Corcoran, and why is Emolund ignoring its pleas? Perhaps the answers to these lie within the many hallways and labratories of the Blackshard Tower itself...
The Ashengrasp desert was once a verdant meadow, but the fertility of the land was a casualty of the powers and hubris of an enigmatic, enchanted empire. The Aash'dow were a race of mysterious origin, possibly Eladrin that were each possessed with sorcerous bloodlines. Their magics grew so potent that they were, as a culture able to transcend death itself. In a great working of eldritch power they transformed their entire race into undead spectral beings able to withstand sunlight; that they might pursue their arts and culture forever. But there was a price to be paid for this extravagance.
The nearby lands began to sicken and die, vegetation withered, and animals fell ill, their life-force needed to fuel the undead existence of the Aash'dow. Their empire did not care, since they were freed from the petty creature-needs of mortals. There is an order of priests and a circle of druids who both claim credit for the great meteoric strike that devastated their territory; sent in retaliation by some vengeful god, or nature itself, depending on the legend. The power of the Aash'dow was shattered, seemingly forever. The land did not recover, but the damage was limited.
But within the blackened crater lies hope. A great oasis spring appeared at the bottom of the miles-wide depression, and attracted whatever desperate travelers could survive the journey. A mingled, anything-goes civilization emerged in the crater, composed of almost every humanoid race. Newcomers are welcome, but only if they bring a useful skill can they drink from the oasis. A city council has its hands full maintaining a stable social order amongst the dizzying variety of species.
And of course, the legendary artifacts of the Aash'dow still litter the desert awaiting the bold....or foolish.
Point of dark: The Snarlhiss Muskeg

A small zone of wetlands surrounding a particularly sluggish section of the Lanasur river is a feared zone for the nearest settlements.
The typical vegetation of the area composed of gigantic grass and many other high and low quagmire plants provide a fun place for children to play, but sadly, some never return.
The tales of the returning playmates of the disappeared are always confused and never contain any sign of emotional stress. What's more, they seem way too calm to be stories of such a grim nature.
The only recurrent element is the sounds of hisses, which are described as beautiful and soothing. Hence the name of the area given by the locals.

Some adventurers actually managed to see the sources of these sounds: creatures indeed beautiful, but surely as dangerous as the monsters they partly are.
They're rarely seen before they're heard. The ones who have the strength of will to resist the bewitching effect of the eerie hisses, manage to see glittering snakes, with scales the colors of the rainbow, big eyes with deep, intelligent glares, and wonderful insect-like wings sprouting from the back of what tries to be the torso of the creature's elongated body.
The adventurer's tales however are always different, sometimes speaking of different beasts, sometimes speaking of singing nymphs, other times such nonsensical images and facts that the people simply don't want to listen to the stories anymore, except for using them to scare theyr children so that they won't go to the cursed land.

The tales are all true though: in fact, the mystical creatures are masters of beguilement and illusion and they're all "children" themselves of a mysterious fey entity that inhabits the portion of the river, which is in fact a "thin zone" between the natural world and the feywild, where the scintillating underwater residence of the whimsical aquatic spirit lies. There, the kidnapped children serve the Dweller of the River for completely unknown purposes.

Those who will dare enter the fairy realm of the river, will probably never comprehend what the snarled mind of the spirit is, but they'll surely suffer the terrible whims and caprices of the Dweller of the River...
But perhaps nobody will be able to enter the dreamy realm, until they understand it...

Join the Zendikar D&D Campaign Setting group: discover the fantastic world and contribute to make Zendikar a playable setting!
   - Warning! Spectacular visuals and lore ahead! ... Take a look...
Play-by-Post and my D&D blogging!

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Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

The village has no walls, and this would be surprising to any visitors. "How do these soft, unarmed artisans defend themselves from the numerous dragons and draconic beings that infest these mountains?" Is a question pondered by almost every visitor. In truth, though the surrounding mountains possess honeycombed caverns infested with vicious nests of cruel dragons each eyeing the hoard of the others, none dare draw near this decorated village of expert craftsmen, gold and silversmiths, and enchanters.
At the center is a shimmering palace seemingly carved of polished ivory inlaid with gold. The entrances are wide... far too wide than necessary for any humanoid. On a throne of gold-filigreed lapis-lazuli sits what appears to be a bored girl barely in her twenties. But any who stay longer than a day will soon discover that this palace is home to the insane gold dragon known as Glitter; who is protector and tyrant alike to the skilled human craftsmen. Glitter has invested much in magics to adopt a humanoid form, and has developed a bizarre, quasi-familial relationship with her human 'family'.
Glitter demands objects and people of surpassing beauty, insists on the most comfortable personal chambers, and dines only on meals prepared by overworked, highly trained professional chefs served on plates of gold-marbled, pearl-studded crystal. She despises the cave-dwelling, horse-devouring habits of other dragons and will do anything to preserve her bubble of civilized luxury. As a consequence, civilized amenities are available to adventurers who stop here amidst the savagery of the dragon-infested mountain range.
She will fly into murderous rages at the sight of anything dirty, untidy, or ugly. The men of the village are also her consorts, but she has no permanent favorites, and has produced a considerable brood of half-dragon (or dragonborn at the DM's discretion) offspring over the centuries.
The artisans suffer greatly and labor with minimal profits creating objects of beauty for the deranged and conceited dragon, but they would not remove her from power even if they could, for it is fear of Glitter's great might in her draconic form that keeps away other dragons that would torture or devour the people. Her puissance is not a bluff, and only the oldest Great Wyrms would stand a chance of defeating her.
Glitter will offer twice the listed price when purchasing magical items from adventurers, but travelers should be wary; Glitter might decide at any time to acquire a new consort should she be presented with handsome male adventurers, a service which none dare refuse, yet not all survive. For most parties, fighting the dragon is all but impossible, and subtler, diplomatic means must be employed should Glitter develop a passing interest for a PC. She has a special fondness for bards. Do business if you wish, but beware of the capricious moods and extravagant demands of this creature.
Tyzelfied Island

This small volcanic island in the Sea of Blades is so named for the ancient Dragonbourne ruin that lies on the southern edge of the mountain, abandoned for the need of warriors to fight Bael Turath. In lieu of their nobler cousins, the lizardfolk have taken control of the island, taming the giant reptiles that stalk the jungles, but have always steered clear of the Tyzel Ruins, for fear of 'shadows'. They themselves live on the eastern swamps, in a series of villages that surround a great murky lake.

Unfortunately, in the past years, the Black Queen Alexdragnoxia has come to the island, demanding worship, sacrifice, and consorts of the villages. None of her consorts, the bravest and strongest young men of the lizardfolk tribes, have ever returned from her temple in the center of the lake, but her children have, and the blackscaled, winged lizardfold act as her enforcers inside the lizardfolk community.

Also, recently, a clan of Dragonbourne have grown tired of wandering, and seek to make a new home in the ruins, but find themselves beset by lizardfolk war parties when they leave and plagued by shadows when they stay. A wise group of sellswords might be able to arrange a meeting with the elder druids of the lizardfolk, who would much rather be ousted of their tyrant, but one would still have to get through her children and most importantly, her.
Dust Falls and Downtown:

Hundreds or thousands of years ago, the place now known as Dust Falls was a great lake fed my a mighty river. Over time, however, the current of the river and the weight of the lake eroded the bedrock around the mouth of the river of this high-mountain lake, until it crashed down into an undiscovered series of labyrinthine caves below. Over and over again, the rush of water crushed the roofs of the caves below it, eventually carving out a mile-wide, ten-mile deep hole in the world. The river has long since dried up, and now only a small trickle of dust falls down from above, giving the place its name.

Standing at the lip of the hole is a town that takes its name from the place. It acts as a launching-off point for the perilous journey down the chasm by way of a series of branching caves and ledges that winds its way down into the darkness. Thanks to the surrounding mountains, little sunlight ever reaches the town of Dust Falls, and more than a mile or so into the chasm, even that dwindles to a faint glow from above.

Ten miles below the surface, at the bottom of the long trail leading down the chasm, travelers come to the gates of Downtown, a fortress city that guards the opening into a vast cave in the deepest reaches of the pit. Though the road to Downtown -if it can be called a road- is perilous enough, the people of Downtown know that they guard the entrance to something far worse, for the cave they stand at the mouth of is a direct connection to the Underdark and all the horrors it contains.

Both Dust Falls and Downtown are cosmopolitan places, and while neither is a safe place for anyone who doesn't know how to handle a weapon, Downtown is far worse in that regard: its residents fight a constant war against the encroaching darkness from below, and violence between the town's defenders is as common as battle with Downtown's would-be invaders. Downtowners live in a deadly, benighted place forgotten by the light world above, and they know it. Still, the opportunity of finding the ancient, untold riches of the world below attracts enough new blood to keep the city alive.

with your blessing, i am going to use or rework this for my homebrew.
Rifter's Ward is a mining boomtown perched precariously on either side of a seeminly bottomless chasm. A central lift allows access to the maze of ramps, ropes, and bridges leading to the various mining claims in the chasm's cliff faces.

The threats to this PoL are legion. 'Downsiders', as the poorest workers that are forced to live in abandoned mines and tunnels due to the high cost of living space 'Upside' are known, are discontented with the laws passed by the ruling Merchants Table since they only seem to protect the rich. The Brotherhood of the Axe, an organization of increasingly militant Dwarven workers, claim that the Ward was once part of a Dwarven Kingdom, and should therefore be given over to them to rule. Monsters and bandits threaten caravans making the arduous journey through the surrounding wilds to Brightwater, a riverport three days west. And finally, miners have been inexplicably disappearing of late in the deepest mines, perhaps indicating that some evil long forgotten has been awakened.

Punishment in Rifter's Ward is swift and efficient. Fines and/or incarceration in a work camp are rewards for more mundane offenses, but offenders commiting heinous acts such as ****, murder, and stealing company property, depending on the severity of the crime, are given either the Long Walk or the Short Walk. The Long Walk refers to the journey down the town's main street to the city gate, through which the offender will pass into exile and very probable death. The Short Walk is a 20 ft plank leading out over the chasm and a chance to determine if it really is bottomless.
Rifter's Ward is a mining boomtown perched precariously on either side of a seeminlgy bottomless chasm. A central lift allows access to the maze of ramps, ropes, and bridges leading to the various mining claims in the chasm's cliff faces.

The threats to this PoL are legion. 'Downsiders', as the poorest workers that are forced to live in abandoned mines and tunnels due to the high cost of living space 'Upside' are known, are discontented with the laws passed by the ruling Merchants Table since they only seem to protect the rich. The Brotherhood of the Axe, an organization of increasingly militant Dwarven workers, claim that the Ward was once part of a Dwarven Kingdom, and should therefore be given over to them to rule. Monsters and bandits threaten caravans making the arduous journey through the surrounding wilds to Brightwater, a riverport three days west. And finally, miners have been inexplicably disappearing of late in the deepest mines, perhaps indicating that some evil long forgotten has been awakened.

Punishment in Rifter's Ward is swift and efficient. Fines and/or incarceration in a work camp are rewards for more mundane offenses, but offenders commiting heinous acts such as ****, murder, and stealing company property, depending on the severity of the crime, are given either the Long Walk or the Short Walk. The Long Walk refers to the journey down the town's main street to the city gate, through which the offender will pass into exile and very probable death. The Short Walk is a 20 ft plank leading out over the chasm and a chance to determine if it really is bottomless.
At first glance, it would seem to be a well-maintained highway like any other, yet it's not clear what principality first established it. But those who can read the incantations carved into the stone archways at the roadsides will find that the road leads them....elsewhere.
It is possible to travel to far-distant parts of the world hundreds, thousands of miles away depending on what incantation is read on which stone archway at the side of the road. One simply walks forward and will find over the next hill a land that would have taken months to reach through normal means.
Those that do not read the incantations aloud will eventually come upon an Inn and pleasure-palace run by a wealthy tiefling mistress, known as Laey's Lay. Mistress Laey began her business by offering a simple night's sleep and hearty meal, but has expanded her operation with help of merchants from all over the world and has created almost an enclosed village. One can eat, rest, purchase mounts, buy weapons and armor, or indulge in a variety of sybaristic delights - for the right price. Laey's Lay has copied some of the mystic incantations from the stone arches on her property, apparently allowing all travelers from anywhere in the world that find the LeyWay to end up at her door if they have no other specific destination in mind.
The Isle-Not-To-Be-Visited

In the middle of a great lake is an isle avoided by all sensible boatmen and fishermen. It is a harsh pile of red stones and loose rock with the decaying ruins of a once-splendid palace or temple, its white stone columns now darkened and smashed.

The isle is constantly shrouded in an unnatural mist, and strange, tooth-like rocks known as the Whispering Stones jut from the water on all sides of the isle. These stones are carved with alien runes, unknown to any sage, and when among them men hear a dire whispering and murmuring that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere. The language of the whispers is alien, but those who hear it become uncomfortable and obsessed with morbid thoughts about their worst sins. A wizard once claimed that the whispers impart the knowledge of a potent ritual known nowhere else in the world.

The fish around the isle are also strange. They are long and toothy and have bones where they should have only scales; fishermen are afraid even to catch them. No wildlife has ever been seen on the Isle-Not-To-Be-Visited but something does live there: though they have never seen it, passing boatmen have heard the sound of a great bulk dragging itself through the rubble of the ruins. Once hearing it, such men will never again risk to travel near that accursed place.
Haiku Police
with your blessing, i am going to use or rework this for my homebrew.

I consider anything I post here to be freely available for personal use at your table or in your campaign. Besides, Dust Falls and Downtown aren't quite original ideas -I've just adapted them from a similar pair of cities in another favorite game of mine.

Have fun with them!





EDIT:

And because I'm bored, here's one more from a past homebrew of mine that'll probably find its way into my 4e campaign, A high-end heroic-tier town that could serve as a launching-point for an exploratory campaign into haunted ruins and the unexplored north.

Wolfshome:

The town of Wolfshome, or Ostarakka as it was known to its original eldarin inhabitants, is a frontier town in the truest sense: nestled deep in the Black Spine mountains in the far north, it stands astride one of the few traversable passes into the frozen tundras and icy mountains of the Black Spine. Unlike many towns, Wolfshome has a very small permanent population. Rather, it is used seasonally by hunters and trappers seeking finer pelts in the mountains, and during peak times of year, Wolfshome swells to nearly ten times its normal number of inhabitants. The lands north of the pass are considered inhospitable by the population of Wolfshome, who only make brief forays into its frozen expanse, and most maps stop at Wolfshome.

The town itself is built around an ancient elven tower that once guarded the pass, and while the tower has fallen into disrepair, both it and the high shield walls at either end of the pass stand firm. The tower, however, is itself built on the foundation of ruins older still. Similar ruins dot the pass and the surrounding mountains and the locals shun them as cursed, for none who have ever delved into them have returned.

Wolfshome is well-guarded against attack from north or south by the old elven shield walls and insulated against the worst of the weather thanks to the high bluffs and peaks that surround it, but these same features also make the town vulnerable to assault from the one direction the residents never think to look: up.
-m4ki; one down, one to go

"Retro is not new. Retro-fit is not new." --Seeker95, on why I won't be playing DDN

|| DDN Metrics (0-10) | enthusiasm: 1 | confidence in design: -3 | desire to play: 0 | Sticking with 4e?: Yep. | Better Options: IKRPG Mk II ||
The Five Things D&D Next Absolutely Must Not Do:
1. Imbalanced gameplay. Any and all characters must be able to contribute equally both in combat and out of combat at all levels of play. If the Fighters are linear and the Wizards quadratic, I walk. 2. Hardcore simulationist approach. D&D is a game about heroic fantasy. I'm weak and useless enough in real life; I play RPGs for a change of pace. If the only reason a rule exists is because "that's how it's supposed to be", I walk. I don't want a game that "simulates" real life, I want a game that simulates heroic fantasy. 3. Worshipping at false idols (AKA Sacred Cows). If the only reason a rule exists is "it's always been that way", I walk. Now to be clear, I have no problem with some things not changing; my issue is with retaining bad idea simply for the sake of nostalgia. 4. DM vs. players. If the game encourages "gotcha!" moments or treats the DM and players as enemies, adversaries, or problems to be overcome, I walk. 5. Rules for the sake of rules. The only thing I want rules for is the things I can't do sitting around a table with my friends. If the rules try to step on my ability to roleplay the character I want to roleplay, I walk. Furthermore, the rules serve to facilitate gameplay, not to simulate the world. NOTE: Items in red have been violated.
Chris Perkins' DM Survival Tips:
1. When in doubt, wing it. 2. Keep the story moving. Go with the flow. 3. Sometimes things make the best characters. 4. Always give players lots of things to do. 5. Wherever possible, say ‘yes.’ 6. Cheating is largely unnecessary. 7. Don't be afraid to give the characters a fun new toy. 8. Don't get in the way of a good players exchange. 9. Avoid talking too much. 10. Save some details for later. 11. Be transparent. 12. Don't show all your cards. Words to live by.
Quotes From People Smarter Than Me:
"Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging..." -Foxface on Essentials "Servicing a diverse fan base with an RPG ruleset - far from being the mandate for 'open design space' and a cavalier attitude towards balance - requires creating a system that /works/, with minimal fuss, for a wide variety of play styles, not just from one group to the next, but at the same table." -Tony_Vargas on design "Mearls' and Cook's stated intent to produce an edition that fans of all previous editions (and Pathfinder) will like more than their current favourite edition is laudable. But it is also, IMO, completely unrealistic. It's like people who pray for world peace: I might share their overall aims, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to succeed. When they talk in vague terms about what they'd like to do in this new edition, I mostly find myself thinking 'hey, that sounds cool, assuming they can pull it off', but almost every time they've said something specific about actual mechanics, I've found myself wincing and shaking my head in disbelief and/or disgust, either straight away or after thinking about the obvious implications for half a minute." -Duskweaver on D&D Next
I've always thought this would be a great D&D adventure setting:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Most of the sites above would be great for Heroic or Paragon tiers... I'll try to whip one up for Epic.

Hell's Back Door

Barely a few days before Asmodeus turned on his God and murdered him, the Deity had just created an alliance with a young Demi-God. Durnig the battle between Asmodeus and the nameless Deity, the Demi-God walked through a newly created portal between his own small realm in the astral sea and what would become Hell. Both the Deity and the Demi-God perished to the hands of Asmodeus and his angels, whom were cursed to become the Devils.

Asmodeus has closed the portal on Hell's side, and has made everything in his power to both find the Demi-God's realm (without success), and to keep that bit of information a secret. Perhaps the PCs, who for some reason need to go to the ninth level of Hell, could learn of this portal. Maybe from Vecna (God of Secrets), from the Githianki or Githzerai who constantly travel the Astral Sea, or any number of possiblities.

The adventure site here is mostly the Demi-God's realm itself. Perhaps it has become a Githianki outpost, or maybe a new younger deity or being of greater power has claim it has is own and knows nothing of the portal leading to Hell. Possibly the realm is vacant except for left over defenses. Asmodeus may also know where this realm is and has been able to extend his influence there through the portal and posted an garrisson of elite Devils to protect the secret of the portal form that end.

Use and modify as needed for your campaings.
Bloodthorn Valley

The hatred between the Drow and the other two elvish races is well known and well documented throughout history. However, there is one place and one event that is better forgotten in history. This place is known as Bloodthorn Valley, formally known as The Silver Wood of the Eladrin.

The Silver Wood was once a place of learning and art in the world of the elves. The Eladrin and the Elves lived together in this wood and made beautiful arts and music. They studied history, magic and philosophy in the woods, and the greatest Eladrin minds came out of its school of natural magic. However, the peace that the races enjoyed in this little valley would not last forever.

The Drow, jealous of the beauty of the wood, sought to steal it from the elves and the eladrin. They launched a campaign against the wood and its protectors. The campaign lasted more than a months time. During this many elven warriors fell to death at the hands of the drow force. During this time the king of the woods died in combat. His son, a student of natural magic, was driven to madness by grief of his father's passing and the destruction of the wood.

In order to protect his domain, the new king sent out the final defenders of the wood, a force of 500 elves. He sent this force to engage the drow in open combat. Unknown to the elves, the king was planning on using a ritual of great power to sacrifice the elves and awaken the woods to stop the drow. 500 elves dropped dead at once and the woods grew large, strong, ugly vines with horrible thorns that attacked anyone who approached the woods. The vines drove the Drow away.

Eventually, the people of the Silver Woods turned on the new king and killed him. They then left the horrible woods and never revealed its location to anyone. It is unknown what treasures of lore and magic are left in these guarded woods, but stories say that it is guarded by more than the magically awakened woods. The ghosts of 500 elves, maddened by the ritual that killed them, seek to kill anyone who enters the valley.
Moanhollow

There are a few on this thread that I like, but this one hits me like a hammer. See, as my "name" might suggest, I am a sort of zombie fanatic. This one is just awesome.

And, as it would be wrong of me to heist without making my own contribution:

The Crown of Ithiad
Few have ever climbed this peak and those who have rarely, if ever, speak of it. Legend claims that this tall, jagged mountain is actually the remains of a being slain during the Primordial War. Whether it was a god or one of the primordials is not known, but the feeling of holiness and awe is unquestionable. A massive stone head juts from the top, as though the being were entombed in a column of stone.

A cult of “worshippers” has taken up residence around the head and have named it Ithiad, after a god that some would claim was entirely fabricated. This cult offers aid to any who make the climb and are almost too friendly.

The mouth of the “head” is actually a cave entrance, leading into the mountain below. Some claim great treasures can be found within, possibly even a spark of divinity left over from the war. What horrors reside within the corpse of such an ancient and powerful being? Could there be a gateway to another plane of existence? Does it hold the key to divinity, or perhaps a means of reviving the being?
The island-continent is right off the coast, and with few carnivorous monsters, it was a safe haven for the human farmers and halfling fisher-folk that dwelt here for centuries in peace. Gathering to trade and conduct politics in their central capitol. Until the tribes came. Fierce, proud warrior-races from far-off lands who thought to lay claim to the defenseless island nation - each confident that they alone would triumph over all others.
The peaceful folk suffered greatly between savage war-bands that tore through village and field alike in their blood-drenched stuggle for predatory conquest - until the three tribes gathered their armies to simultaneously lay claim to the Silver Tower of the Moon-Witch, at the city center. The Moon-Witch laid a curse upon the tribes, that they would war unceasingly without victory. All three armies vanished from the land that night, along with the Moon-Witch, and the people rejoiced.
But the next month, at night - one of the three tribes reappeared in the capitol city, and set about subjugating the entire island once more - to them years had passed and they had recouped their losses. Yet when the moon changed phases again, the city vanished! And a new city, populated by the second tribe appeared again, who also set about dominating the island. The cycle continues to this day - each tribe rules its own version of the capitol in the Feywild, and when their city moves back to the Middle World - but only for a short time before their city returns to the Feywild, and the next tribe's city replaces it.
Early in the month, the island and all its peoples owe fealty to the tattooed, feather-clad warriors of the Ixtaaka, and all names are changed to please these masters.
Near the middle of the month, Ixtaaka vanishes back into the Feywild and is replaced by the crystal-bearing, Eladrin battle-wizards of Xianeen - who set about besieging the scattered warbands of the Ixtaaka that remain, while the few Ixtaaka left behind scheme and plot to destroy the Eladrin city that has replaced their own.
Near the end of the month, Xianeen fades into the Feywild, and is replaced by the fortress-city of Alala-mira, and the ruthless amazon centauresses with shape-shifting magic and deadly skill in archery. They wage bitter war against the remnants of all other warbands still left.
Between shifts, each tribe has years to recover in the Feywild, and all tribes now define themselves according to their feud with the other two, and the centuries of rage and revenge are such that each tribe is committed to the feud with irrational fanaticism. In this cycle, no tribe has been exterminated, but neither has achieved any clear advantage over the others. But luckily, the simple human and halfling folk are largely spared in the fighting, and a semblance of order exists in the villages. The island-nation's name is always changing, but travelers can find a brief respite here in one of the villages. The central city should be avoided, however - as visitors are almost certain to be caught up in the murderous intrigues of one of the races. Should you find yourself in the midst of a clash between warbands, flee unless you wish to take sides.
P.O.D. - Perdition's Ladder

At the bottom of the lowest pit of creation, a tiny shard of utter evil pulses its malevolent energy to bring life to the abyss and its demons. But the purpose of the Shard, and the abyss itself is to unmake creation, but to do that, one would need to overthrow the gods. Countless eons ago, an attempt was hatched to bring the horrors of the pit to the celestial domains in the astral sea.
In an eruption of raw power that shook the planes, the abyss vomited forth a mighty seed of evil energy that crashed down in the elemental chaos and began to grow. And grow. And grow further. A spiraling tower formed of black obsidian and hatred congealed began to extend from the surface of the Elemental Chaos higher, and higher. Soon, the object would transcend space and time and extend beyond the Chaos and into other planes, including the Astral Sea.
The gods acted preemptively to safeguard their domains from the army of demons that would soon be disgorged. Several angelic hosts entered Perdition's Ladder, beat back the demon hordes, and sealed the tower from within. But the taint of the Abyss was overwhelming, even to the mightiest of angels. Cursing their gods for sending them to this fate, the angels became twisted with evil, mutating into monstrosities no longer celestial, but not truly demonic - abominations that must never be set free. And indeed, neither demons nor fallen angels can escape Perdition's Ladder, which fell far short of the Astral Sea.
But the tower can draw in new victims. Those that dabble in plane-crossing magic, those that attempt to summon demons and do not comprehend the forces they wield - they may be drawn themselves into the swirling, writhing tower of darkened madness. Mortal bodies will not last long amidst the tortures of the mutated angels, but their souls cannot escape and will be tormented for eons (unless released)
Within, there is no order but suffering. Demons and corrupted angels battle and murder and unleash magic and traps against each other for no purpose but their own madness. Heroes of awesome ability might be able to rescue condemned souls languishing here, but to linger too long in Perdition's Ladder will not only risk one's own life before the flaming swords of insane angels and talons of reeking demons, but one risks the insidious corruption from the tendrils of the Abyss itself.
P.O.D. The Un-Sun
Fearful sages will whisper in haggard voices the piecemeal legends that yet survive of the horrific, Mind-Flayer Empire that once spanned the Middle World, and several planes. But some of the Learned remember tales told by gibbering madmen of one of the last, greatest relics of that mythic age of tentacled horrors.
For eons untold, Mind-Flayers have hated the Sun, and have labored mightily for some means to counteract its influence upon the world. Unfathomable ages ago, in a misty eon lost to the memories of all but a handful of immortals, they nearly succeeded. With the artifice and resources of a world-empire, illithids were able to build a massive, eldritch machine in the form of a colossal iron sphere, several miles in diameter, its surface etched with spell-runes of utter evil. On its own power, the Un-Sun rose into the sky, absorbing sunlight and converting it into raw magic that was then channeled to create magical darkness. The brighter the sun, the deeper was the dark aura that radiated from the hovering abomination that blotted the sky in elder eons; that all the creatures of darkness might walk the surface to spread their evil without fear.
But the illithids miscalculated; the task of absorbing enough light to fulfill their goal proved more complex than they envisioned, and the Un-Sun erupted into flames, releasing all its energy in a magical cataclysm that destroyed several large cities before it crashed to the ground, penetrated and fell into a cavern that led to the Underdark.
There are trembling sages that fear that this terrible construct still exists; and madmen will croak of dream-visions in which they behold a great, iron sphere so large that it extends above the water level of a sunless sea deep in the Underdark. A large crack in the surface has allowed generations of vile underdark predators to nest within the eldritch machine, spreading their taint and wallowing in evil.
Fortunately, the Un-Sun has landed in a remote corner of the Underdark, but there are those among the Mind-Flayers that possess whispers of its existence, and should an illithid at last locate the titanic artifact, it is only a matter of time before the terrible powers of the plane-spanning illithid empire are again within a tentacled grip.
The Ambassador's Throne

In the very furthest reaches of antiquity, the world's patchwork of city-states, duchies, and petty kingdoms were unified under a single emperor. An emperor who commanded unimaginable magic. An emperor who held titles on Earth, in the Feywild, and in Hell. An emperor who carved mountains into monuments to his glory, and inscribed mystic runes across half a continent.

All mortal things pass away. No creature in this world still remembers his name, or the name of that world-spanning empire, and the cataclysm that ruined his lands and reshaped the world is told as half a dozen fractured tales, none more than half-true.

No mortal remembers his name. But his legacy has not yet passed away.

In the distant principality of Akkat Dham--once the core of the Empire--stand four shattered walls of corroded brass. Inside lies an empty black marble throne.

Four times a year, ambassadors from the immortal kingdoms subjugated by that ancient emperor are compelled to come and receive orders from their mortal liege. On the Spring Equinox, Eladrin from the Seelie courts of the Feywild arrive to pay their obeisance. On the Summer Solstice, a Lord of Hell arrives to submit to his king. On the Fall Equinox, the throne is occupied by the Fomorian ambassador. And on the Winter Solstice, visitors will find the Shadar-Kai ambassador sitting atop the snow-covered throne.
The Golden Spider


A charming and well-stocked tavern in a land known for its cave formations and deep mines. The Inn stands at a major crossroads and attracts many dwarves, and a host of adventurers. Observant visitors may notice minor anomalies if they spend time here, from the potent illusion spells that drape the place.
In fact, the charming, plump human cook and her daughters are in fact a clan of sorcerous half-drow who drug food and deliver interesting travelers to Lolth-worshipping kidnappers as a means to procure living victims for sacrifice in the great, spidery cities of the Underdark. The half-drow maintain the facade in the hopes that their efforts on behalf of the Spider-Queen will someday earn them a place of honor in a large, drow city, normally intolerant towards all lesser races and half-breeds.
Surface elves are favorite targets, as well as clerics of good deities. Any paladins will most certainly be targeted for kidnapping and sacrifice upon a black altar beneath the leering image of the dark glory of Lolth.
I was reading through all of the ideas already posted and it caused me to develop one of my own... mind, I fleshed it out a bit because I might end up using it myself.

Duskpine Valley

A bustling town lies at the mouth of Duskpine Valley, effectively moderating the travelers who actually gain entrance to the darkened valley itself. Within the valley, there is a thick pine forest that is frequented by a considerably large number of ravens. Residents make mention of strange happenings on the northern border of the town that meets the forest: ravens making off with small baubles is a common malady, but people disappearing for days on end, only to reappear on a different border of the town is definitely not. An adventuring party has been investigating the disappearances and has delved deeply into the pine forest to find a small stone structure towards the far back end of the forest where the mountains that frame the valley join in something of a point or corner. Since the adventurers reported the sighting of the structure several days ago, they have not been seen or heard from within the boundaries of the town.

The town of Duskpine has a considerable population of arcanists of all kinds. The vast number of ravens nearby has provided a nearly endless pool of familiars and spell components as well as messenger birds. The town produces a high number of alchemical agents and arcane objects. With a large number of bookstores and libraries (private and public), this town is also a great place to research for all those interested in the arcane and mysterious. The town is dotted with a great number of towers for those who wish to perform their arcane rituals in peace or for small parties. In a way, the towers mimic the forest with which the town shares its northern border.

This town has a single clerical denomination: that of the sun god [insert your sun god here]. The seven clerics of [insert your sun god here] are trying to solve the curious situation that persists in the valley: the everlasting dusk quality. As of late, they have a handful of theories, but no real conclusive solutions to the perceived problem. Meanwhile, the town remains a rather busy place for those arcanists interested in magic and so forth and the town nearly never sleeps due to the perpetual “sunset” quality.

Let me know what you think!
The Sealed City


The grassland plains of your campaign world feature a region of rolling, hilly knolls with limestone caverns beneath, caverns leading to the Underdark. Travelers try to avoid the region, because to most surface-folk, all drow are the same. Yet closeby is the fortress town of Xybar, inhabited by a hard-scrabble colony of rebel dark elves and half-drow that have abandoned the Spider-Queen to carve a new life in the light above or die trying. While they are distrusted by most folk, the presence of Xybar is a boon to the region, for this battle-ready, defensible city serves as a buffer to the evil that lies beneath.
Xybar blocks passage of the forces of a terrible evil to the surface. The limestone caves lie just above the vast, sprawling subterranean metropolis of Xynzhyncilia, The City of Venoms. The massive drow city is centered around a colossal temple of Lolth with massive thoroughfares arching out in eight directions. Hanging from the bottoms of these suspended highways are the eight ruling noble houses of the city, each designed to resemble the egg-sacks of a spider. The cavern floor below is littered with minor noble houses and the hovels of gnoll and goblinoid slaves that grovel before drow masters for whom cruelty is an art form.
Xynzhyncilia was built on a confluence of lodestone veins of enormous strength, which create veritable rivers of electricity in this part of the Underdark. The effect of the magnetic veins is strongest where they meet, under the Grand Temple. As a consequence, the City of Venoms is bathed in a constant magnetic aura. The drow of the city over the millenia have naturally adapted to this force, their flesh radiating strong magnetic currents that make it more difficult to strike them with weapons of any metal. Indeed, metal objects of all sorts are too heavy to be practical within the city, and these drow have over the eons, cultivated ingenious poison weapons of bone and ivory. They have mastered hive-weapons, devices that harbor colonies of poisonous vermin that are released when a foe is struck.
The Knights of Lolth that ride for Xynzhyncilia are dreaded, and none are deadlier when fighting from the backs of giant spiders. The unusual traits of this city lead to suspicion from other dark-elf civilizations, resulting in isolation, enmity, and a fanaticism for the worship of the Spider-Queen pathological even by drow standards. The rebellion and escape of the colonists that founded Xybar has tormented the city greatly, and only fuels their murderous rage.
These surface-dwelling rebels have withstood titanic clashes against overwhelming odds that more than justify their faith and pride in themselves, but in a war of attrition, it is unlikely that Xybar will last forever against its enraged, subterranean parent. Should the stalwart fortress-town fall, then Xynzhyncilia will erupt from below in a madness-fueled explosion of militancy that will purge the surface world of anyone that falls into their poisoned, murderous grasp.
subscribed
This is a region I had thought of for 3.5, but qualifies fully for light/dark.

The Shallow Sea (region of dark)
A largish body of water connecting the ocean to the south and the colder northern waters (not really a sea, but hey). It once was part of a kingdom ruled by an evil overlord (of your choosing, he's dead anyways) and the area was smote by the gods for his attempts at unweaving the fabric of time. The deepest parts of this region are only about 100 ft. The waters stay warm due to the shallowness, and the warm water flowing from the south. Pirates sail through this area from the Fog Isles (see below), gliding just over the tops of ancient ruins in which sahuagin now dwell, guarding whatever secrets lay dormant under the waves.

This leads us to....
The Fog Isles (point of light, but dim)
North of the Shallow Sea, the Fog Isles are an archipelago of now dormant volcanic islands. A favorite hideout of pirates and those who wish to do evil without being noticed, the Fog Isles get their name from the unending fog that coats the region due to the warm water from the south hitting the colder northern waters. The most easily accessible point in the Fog Isles is Felton's Cove, a pirate port (think Singapore, 1850) on the southernmost and most easily spotted island due to the volcano's cone sticking up out of the fog.

This area caused me to create new magic items, such as the waystone of misdirection which causes people to go around an area without realizing it (great for making an already difficult to find island impossible to find) and the accompanying compass of homeward direction which would allow someone to find an island shrouded by the waystone of misdirection that it was tied to.

The great fun is throwing in a compass in with some treasure.
DM: You also find what looks to be a compass, made of leather and brass. Roll a Survival check.
Ranger: *roll* 18?
DM: Yeah, it doesn't point north. Sort of north, but not north.
This is a location in my homebrew campaign, but I would be honored to have others use it as inspiration.

The Creeping Deep
Once a thriving and malevolent Underdark kingdom that broke though to the surface, the region of the Creeping Deep is now a deep basin teeming with rampant jungle growth. Ages ago, to stop the depredations of such a wicked realm, a forgotten druidic order unleashed a verdant plague that consumed the kingdom, both above and below, collapsing it.

In its current state, the jungle is almost violent in its growth. The curse still runs strong, and any attempts at colonizing the basin meet with disaster. Wandering tribes of humans and wild elves still call the place home, highly superstitious of the ruins and the unnatural creatures that seem to crawl up from them.

Scattered throughout the basin, built into the walls of isolated mesas, are dragonborn "aviaries". Islands in a sea of green, dragonborn clans watch vigilantly over the basin in anticipation of the resurgence of an unknown evil.
Zaras Harbour

A small and seemingly profitable trading post that makes the majority of its money from a rich trade in spices, occasionally obscure and ancient golden artifacts surface; infact the appearance (and sale) of valuable artifacts has, during past times of famine/disaster saved the populace of the city from poverty and starvation.

Unknown to most residents the port of Zaras stands atop the ruins of a much older empire that once worshipped the serpentine god of poison, the human port is used as an experiment by the hidden yuan-ti survivors of the ancient empire. Snaketongue and human cultists abduct people fromt he nighttime streets for use in their experiments; human agents and some of the wealthier merchants are aware of this, but the fact that the cult normally picks on strangers and those passing through (plus the fact that the cult 'compensates' the right people with golden artifacts from the buried ruins of the ancient city) purchases their silence.
Something im going to add to a home brew campaign.

to set it up our adventure. The adventures are carrying something of great importance. It is in a case, and radiates an intense magic power. It was given to them on an airship by a mysterious gnome. long story short the airship crashes and our adventures are left to wander a great desert.

They travel in one direction for days. Just as they are about to give up, they see something that looks like a small building in the haze of the desert up a head. As they approach they see a brick building with a sign that has numbers on it. with the numbers 7 1 1 on it. and what appears to be large metal animals with round feet out side. They don't sense anything hostile about the structure and enter it.

The cool interior of the structure steals their breath away. The tenant notices the adventures and asked them what they are doing out there in those strange clothes. A short conversation would get the adventures to ask for water and rations. A PC tosses the tenant a gold coin. Excited at its authenticity the tenant runs to his metals beast gets inside of it * which disturbs the adventures , and rides off yelling " Wahoo im rich, i quit this *****". The adventures are left to the store to take what ever they like even though they have no idea what is going on.

* during their trek the suite case sensed they were in trouble, and in lo of the adventurers dieing to fatigue in the desert moved them through a portal into a small pocket of Arizona where they entered a convenience store. As soon as they are done they wander off back into the desert and are back on Faerun.
The Shatterealms

The Gods prevailed in the first war to determine the course of Creation, they denied the Primordials the chance to lay waste to the mortal world, sealed up within the Elemental Chaos, these beings raged in fury against their enemies, and against the world that they so yearn to annihilate.
Knowing that they would be denied the chance to break the world of mortals, certain far-seeing primordials decided to settle on the next best thing; If they could not destroy the world the gods had sheltered, then they would make tiny, sub-worlds within their own domain as proxies of their wrath. They used their powers to create small, stable ecologies in remote regions of the chaos, populated them with analogues of mortal creatures, simply for the joy of exterminating these living creatures, scape-goats for their anger at being denied a rampage through the Middle World. If they cannot topple cities protected by the gods, they will crush underfoot these mortals of their own design.
Yet few of the Shatterealms were actually destroyed. As a consequence of the imprisonment of the most powerful primordials, most are denied the freedom to go to these islands of life and destroy them. This only deepens the anger of the raging elemental masters. So many of the mortal realms survived and ecked out a living amidst the Chaos. These people fight a never-ending struggle against elemental archons, who - sensitive to the wishes of their creators, view it as their duty to exterminate these races.
There are four major types of Shatterealm races, in numerous cities and sheltered areas in remote regions of the Chaos; Metal, Sand, Clay and Ash. They will appear to be living humanoid men and women seemingly composed of one of these materials, but are as alive as anyone. When it became apparent that these humanoids also came to possess souls, the Elemental Chaos was thrown in an uproar over the magnitude of the error that allowed them to be created. Today, all Shatterealm races in areas easily accessible have been exterminated, those that survive are well able to protect themselves.
It is not known just how many of these settlements exist throughout the Chaos, but they can prove a welcome boon to lost travelers. They will welcome organic mortals gratefully, and can offer shelter, rest, and rare magical equipment undreamed of by mortals elsewhere. (But the food is likely to seem gritty) They are a proud race, but yearn to learn of the gods, in the hope of salvation. In truth, their souls cannot reach the gods when they die within the Elemental Chaos, as they are not a part of any gods' creation.
Shatterealm folk will offer great rewards to wizards willing to cast a spell they have created that will allow them to leave the Chaos and enter the mortal world. This spell must be cast in both locations, so they require another willing party. A hero should take caution, however. If a spell were cast that was powerful enough to transport a population into the mortal world, it would also allow elemental enemies from the Chaos a permanent gateway into the World.
These folk are caught between good and evil. Good-aligned adventurers will feel a kinship with these people, who will share many of their beliefs. But the Good will be wary over the consequences of giving the Shatterealm folk their most fervent desire.
They abhor evil, yet evil-aligned adventurers will be swayed by the rich rewards promised, and many would be all too willing to assist them, uncaring of the evil they may unleash in the process.

DC20 Arcana:
Shatterealms folk were created by primordials so that they could have the pleasure of killing mortals after they were denied the chance to destroy the Middle World. Their survival is a source of deep outrage for primordials, titans, and archons. They possess souls, but have no clerics since they are not a part of the gods' creation.

DC25 Arcana:
If anyone casts their Planar Transference spell known to many Shatterrealm wizards, it will open a gateway that would also allow legions of Archons the chance to raid and ravage the Middle world. But this would also allow Shatterealms folk access to the gods, an afterlife, and the chance to become clerics.
Citadel

Deep in the Dawnforge Mountains, along ancient highways that last bore human wayfarers a tankard-full of centuries ago, lies a fortress so vast and dominating that it was considered a wonder of the ancient world. It was known by a single word - Citadel. Stretching over and through mountains, Citadel is a world unto itself. Literally.

When the cataclysms of the ancients began, the sorcerer-lords brought thousands of their people into the fortress and sealed it, leaving no doors, no windows - no apertures of any kind that evil might seep through. They used powerful magics to erode the peoples' memories of the outside world, so that none would try to breech the walls to return to it, thereby endangering everyone inside. The cataclysms destroyed the outside civilization - it's few huddled survivors finally giving way to disease, starvation, and slaughter by ravenous hordes. Citadel was eventually forgotten, as was the civilization that built it.

Inside the fortress however, safe from the calamities outside, the people thrived, and have continued to thrive, isolated from the outside world, throughout the centuries. Generations have been born and died, never knowing the sun existed. The population of Citadel now exceeds a hundred-thousand. They are still ruled by the sorcerer-lords, and their ancient magic is still passed on from one generation to the next. The sorcerer-lords are the only ones trusted with the knowledge contained in The Book of the True World - the knowledge of the outside world.

(This was envisioned as a campaign setting for a new party, but could just be an adventure locale as well. Although I'm not sure how.)
The Azurvein

Mortals that dwell upon the surface understand little of the oceans and its ebbs and flows, much less that which lies beneath the wavy surface. But the oceans that skirt the continents of the Middle World possess a great, flowing current hundreds of miles wide, countless thousands of miles long, a regular flow of water within the ocean that circles the world like a ring band. Ocean creatures that are intelligent and civilized over the millenia have constructed innumerable floating settlements that follow the course of the Azurvein as it skirts the Middle World. Within this flow, there exists cities of coral, rounded fortresses of pure pearl, and settlements built of hardened kelp within the folds of nation-sized jellyfish.
Within these grandiose, mobile civilizations sea elves and mer-folk stand ever-prepared for war with the Sahuagin and darker creatures of the seas. Land bound travelers within the Azurvein will rapidly discover teeming populations of small, curious nautiloids that swim to investigate anything that enters from the surface. Upon detecting an air-breather, these mollusks will dart from their shells, force their way into the mouth of the land-dweller, and attach themselves to the lungs. The surprised host will find himself fully capable of breathing underwater, and will suffer no ill effects from deep-sea pressure. But land-dwellers will still incur penalties when fighting underwater. If the host emerges from the ocean for more than a minute, the nautiloids will disengage and attempt to return to the sea. It is not known whether these creatures are natural, or a sorcerous concoction of some flesh-bending race of wizards.
A likely first-stop for newcomers is the submerged city of Hullport. Composed of thousands-upon-thousands of old sunken sailing ships grafted together with a combination of magical barnacles and creative carpentry over the millenia. Hullport is a lawless, free-wheeling dive where any and all commodities however exotic or eccentric can be sold without questions or ethics. Entry is denied to no one. Nearly all surface races stop by there at one time or another, and even Sahuagin have reason to do business on certain occasions. Half the time, the place has the feel of a pirate ship leaking at the seams, other areas are more like one never-ending tavern. Indeed, rare liquors from remote countries straddling the Middle World can be had here, as well as the most decadent luxuries - for a hefty price.

But those that leave Hullport and continue to swim through the Azurvein will be brought face to face with colossal wonders and floating nations of a nature undreamed of by most landed folk. And dangers too; for the bones of failed oceanic civilizations are still carried by the currents, and these can be kelp-clogged havens for evil cults, schools of dire sharks, and insane wizards come to claim the sunken wonders of races that never saw the sky.
I am -totally- stealing many of these fantastic ideas!

But, so that I dont feel like a schmuck, Im going to contribute.

The Tower of Dark Obsession

Through the deep woods, and in the jagged embrace of the mountains (which woods and which mountains are, of course, completely up to you), sits a dark stone tower in which a lonely madman conducts endless experiments.

In brighter days, he was a Knight of proud Nerath. He was happy and very much in love, and his rule was just and kind. Until the night his lovely daughter was taken from him by a foul Necromancer, and sequestered in this dark tower of stone.

The Knight pursued the Necromancer through the dark, tangled woods, where the trees themselves seemed eager for blood. Indeed, the black-barked trees seemed to reach out for him as he rode the winding trail leading to the tower. (The trees are not truly animated, but they act as an "impediment trap" for those approaching the tower, slowing movement and inflicting scratches and scrapes).

The Knights entry into the tower was blocked by a small contingent of heavily armed undead soldiers, quite resilient and tough (Zombies or Flesh Golems depending on your PC group's level). He fought his way through them and into the tower, where a myriad of horrors assailed him. Twisted creatures stitched together from the pieces of the dead of many Races; a Human head with a Hill Giant's hand instead of a body, a six-armed woman made from several "sources", and so forth.

Eventually he found, fought, and slew the Necromancer, glad to have ended the vile monster's threat to his lands. He took the wizard's amulet as a prize.

And then he found his daughter. Or at least, what of her was left. Resting in a large, glass jar, suspended in some kind of fluid, was his daughter's severed head. As he approached the table where the jar rested, she opened her eyes and mouthed "Father!"

His mind snapped.

For at least a hundred years, the fallen Knight has studied the Necromantic Arts, in a vain attempt to bring his daughter back to true life. His possession of the amulet has made him the master of the myriad undead and golems created by the Necromancer...and those he has himself created since then.

In that time, his humanity has been lost. While his daughter has watched in helpless horror, the Knight has gone ever more mad. Now it is -he- who sends out his scurrying, shambling minions, out into the night to bring back fresh "material" for him to experiment and work on.

Who can stop him? And what will be the eventual fate of the poor girl trapped in the jar that keeps her pretty head in a semblance of life; able to see and hear and dream, but unable to speak or touch again...
Did I go too far with that one?

I may have squicked myself...
Grassman's Port

"This wasn' always a bustlin' farmers' community. Used to be just one house. Old Jeremiah Port's house. Down an' out in the big city, Jeremiah moved as far from civilization as he could. Civilization didn' go that far out back then. He built himself a wee sod house and farmed himself some wee farmlands. No one ever held complaint against old Jeremiah. 'kept to himself mostly, nice to travlers and strangers. Always wanted news, he did. Anyone that met 'im woulda known he complained about the crows. Crops an' crows, crops an' crows; that was all he'd ever talk about.

He died, maybe eighty years back. I was a boy then, when ma' found him layin' out in his field; hoe clutched in one hand, chest clasped in th'other. Stone dead. There was crows ever'where. Eatin' his tomatas, eatin' his corn, eatin' ever'thin 'cept Old Jeremiah. Didn' want to go anywhere near him. See, mama figured he'd been swingin' that hoe around, tryin' to kill off them crows when his heart gave out. Sure it was sad an' all, but space was short. We gave Jeremiah a funeral an' Old Tom Tucker moved into the house. 'S always been an old bachelor's house.

That ain't the strange of it though. Tom went to bed one night, swore he'd locked everythin' up good an' tight, but when he hot up the next mornin'? Field's just full o' dead crows and a bloody hoe leanin' up 'gainst the scarecrow. Lotsa crow bodies, but no crow heads. Still happens but nobody knows why. See, the scarecrow that we call the Grassman, he ain't never hurt nothin' but crows but it ain't stopped us from tryin' to catch him doin' it. No one never catches him. They fall asleep or wander off or swear they was there all night and don' remember a thing. Happens on the night of harvest each spring, and the night when we plant seeds each fall. Can' catch him, but we don' mind. Crows don' eat nothin' no more. Makes you wonder where all them crow bodies come from, and what he do with the heads."
Resident Shakespeare
I've seen this in some fiction and always like it.

The Valley of the Chess
--Once long ago there where two magical kingdoms of great power, whose knowledge in the arcane arts was unrivaled and as time passed the nations and their kings began to summon the strength needed to make war on each other. Both kings understood the others power and realized an all out war would be the destruction of both great realms so something else had to be done. Instead of making war on each other the kings came up with an idea, a contest or chess match would be played, to determine the winner of of both kingdoms.

--A valley between the two kingdoms was located to become the grounds for the match and for next ten years both nations worked together to erect the mighty chess pieces and playing board. The wizards of both nations crafted the magics and rituals that would allow the kings to move the colossal pieces across the field of battle while the king's ambassadors worked to hammer out the final rules of the match.

--When completed the king's moved into there positions to start the game while thousands of spectators came to watch the game, also in attendance where the armies of both nations to see this great battle. Strangely enough over the years the entire point, the reason for the game had faded form the minds of the common people, as the kingdoms had worked hand in hand for ten years to complete this task peace reigned between the two kingdoms, however everyone wanted to see this mighty creation working and of course which king would win. So the kings began playing the the game was on, the people rejoiced, until the both kings starting calling the other 'cheaters,' it seems that while both kings where powerful both where cheaters in games such as these.

--Believing there kings and heeding the calls of war given the armies attacked each other in a sense of fury that can only come from feeling betrayed and right. The armies did not consider the difference between combatant and non-combatant they simply slaughter any enemy in there way until the killing had been done and the survivors retreated home. Both kings fell that day and each kingdom blamed the other as the aggressors to this war, so they summoned there forces and began to war all out against the other. As the kings believed all those years ago the two nations destroyed themselves however sitting in the valley between the two ruined lands is the Valley of the Chess.

--Stories of the valley have come and gone but it seems that the two kings live on as ghosts and have become madly focused with desire to play the game. As the years have passes the ghosts continue to play the game, locked into an eternal cycle each trying to out play the other fairly as cheating caused destruction of not only themselves but their people.


Sorry if its a little dry.
Point of Light: The Half-Way Inn

High in a mountain pass lies a cheerful tavern built into the cliff face. It is run by a Dwarf, an Eladrin and a Tiefling. The inn provides shelter and security to all traveling along the One Road. Small groups and large caravans are welcome to spend the night. The beds here are clean, the prices fair and the menu, though simple at first glance, seems to know few bounds. Within the confines of the inn no raider will pass nor monster creep. Evil will not pass through the door unless compelled and then sleep will consume them until they exit the inn. Who wrought the magic that protects this place, the proprietors do not know, but they are more than happy to reap the benefits of this forgotten lore.

Visitors that ask of the inn's history will hear tales of the great kingdoms that once ruled the lands below. The wars, alliances and treaties that dotted their history often revolved around the inn. Larger groups may request to use the lower floor, where three great stone tables are set in a triangular formation. Here was where the ambassadors would meet in times of consternation when neutral ground was needed. Hidden behind one of the ancient tapestries is a sealed door. When asked about the door each of the proprietors will lower their voice and look around suspiciously as they begin to answer. The dwarf will tell of an ancient dwarven hold built into the heart of the mountain where the tomb of Silverbeard, the mithril king guards a long abandoned mine. The tiefling will tell of an endless stair that leads deep into the underdark, where a great city that once traded freely with surface world still thrives. The Eladrin will tell of a portal that leads to the feywilds far to the south, where his kin and homeland were destroyed long ago by their own hubris as much as the thing that swallowed their city. Which of the answers is correct can only be found once the seal is broken, none may be true or even all three. All they know for certain is that on the night of the equinox, if a half-moon shines on the land below, the world is truly on edge and the sealed door begins to throb like a beating heart.
King Ulfan and his Queen Ovidia were considered by their subjects to be the wisest and kindest of rulers. They were more than mere rulers or even leaders -- they were heroes to their people. Ulfan was a warrior king, having removed his tyrant brother from the throne in a duel of single combat. Queen Ovidia had been a princess in a great realm to the east, and she had brought with her many secrets of farming and herbology. With Ulfan protecting the borders and Ovidia teaching the people how to grow food, the kingdom thrived.

When the Horde started sweeping across the land, other kings retreated behind their castle walls and left the peasants to fend for themselves. Ulfan, having failed to rally the leadership of other lands to common defense, put his people safely within the walls of his mighty fortress, and rode out with his army to meet the Horde.

Ulfan did not return. He met his death in battle, felled by the blade of the Hordemaster. The Hordemaster died a few days later, of wounds taken in the same battle, living long enough to order the Horde to surround and crush Ulfan's castle.

Ulfan had bought his queen some time, however. Calling upon the old powers of the earth in a week-long ritual, she summoned up from the ground a wall of thorns that surrounded the fortress even as the Horde broke through its walls. The forward ranks of the Horde were divided from the mass beyond the wall of thorns, which no army could penetrate. The fortress' tired defenders sacrificed themselves to protect each other, and barely overcame the invaders.

The land beyond the wall of thorns was ravaged by the Horde until little trace of the once-happy kingdom remained. All that is left is the fortress within the thorns, where the survivors have taken refuge, surviving primarily on the will of the queen and the crops that she has taught them to magically grow within the toppled stone walls.

Should anyone manage to pass by the wall of thorns and gain entrance to the fortress, they would find it populated by the monastic descendants of the people that took refuge there. These people fiercely defend their beloved queen and her garden, which has sustained them now for almost a generation, but they are too few to retake the kingdom from the descendants of the Horde.

For their part, the Horde was scattered once the Hordemaster had been slain, although the army was so massive that they remained a serious threat even once they had degenerated into bandits preying on each other, having destroyed everything else in the land that they could reach. Some members of the Horde settled in the land they had invaded, raised families and crops, and came to think of it as their own. Mothers now tell stories of the wall of thorns, deep in the forest and high in the mountains, beyond which is a terrible castle, and living in the castle is a wicked queen who sends out her monsters to claim disobedient children.

Prince Tristan, son of the (gracefully) aging Queen Ovidia, was born not long after his father's death. He's grown up within the confines of the enormous, labyrinthine fortress. As a child, exploring the miles of twisting tunnels and mountainous towers, he found an old, forgotten prison, and within it, the uncle that his father had removed from the throne. Having lived in that cell for roughly a decade, kept alive only by the cell's magic, the Tyrant Ulifred was quite mad, but had also mellowed considerably since his iron-fisted days. But can Tristan really trust him? Tristan has kept the secret of his uncle's existence a secret, even from his mother, in exchange for the magical secrets that Ulifred is teaching him. Tristan has learned how to use magic to slip past the wall of thorns, and has started to explore the world beyond, intent on reclaiming his father's kingdom.

Already he's met a beautiful girl, a farmer named Darby. Her mother was one of the concubines of the Hordemaster himself, having been forced to flee into obscurity during the carnage that occurred after the Hordemaster's death and the consequent dissolution of the Horde. Darby's mother charmed one of the Hordemaster's former bodyguards into taking her into the wilds, where they established a farm not far from the wall of thorns. The bodyguard taught Darby the arts of combat, and as she grew up she proved preciously able to protect the farm from the many dangers that roamed the land. Darby is the toughest teenage girl you will ever meet, and quite arrogant about it.

Queen Ovidia has raised Tristan to believe that he must one day reclaim his father's kingdom and exterminate the descendants of the Horde that now populate it. Darby's mother has told her terrifying stories of the savages that once roamed this land. Tristan has been raised on tales of the monsters that live beyond the wall of thorns, and Darby has been raised on tales of the monsters that live within it.

How this all turns out, I suppose, is up to the players.
Thundermount of the Raindance


At times, nearly all cultures that depend upon agriculture will yearn with want for rain. Despite the prayers of the most ardent clerics, at times Melora cannot grant all such prayers, for the balances of nature are delicate, and the weather patterns of the Middle World are complex, with needs and conditions rarely understood by mortals. At such times, out of desperation, many will turn to other powers - primordial powers.
The name of the tribe is lost to history, yet when their crops would not grow, they turned to the Elementals for aid. Their shaman entered the Elemental Chaos to beseech whatever beings were mighty enough to give them the rain they so desperately needed. A mighty Storm Titaness gave ear to the Shaman's pleas. An Altar was built that allowed the Titaness to exert her power in the Middle World, and to allow the people to enter the Elemental Chaos. For the Titaness, Thraktoonara demanded a price in return for her largess.
The tribe prospered, and began to grow into a civilization, yet the more powerful they became, the more tribute was demanded by Thraktoonara. She demanded palaces. She demanded luxuries and temples, and shrines and many great feats of construction, all built upon the slopes of the Thundermount of the Raindance, a mighty volcano in the Elemental Chaos that floats through the sky on a storm cloud, while erupting water and lightning almost daily. But the temples, palaces, and sculptures demanded by the Titaness emptied the coffers of the civilization before it had scarcely begun, straining its laborers past the breaking point. When the mortals could not meet the construction schedule for a towering construct of hanging gardens Thraktoonara demanded, she retaliated with more rain, and more rain. Soon the valleys were flooded with monsoons that led to a drowning deluge. With the power of the Raindance Altar, the Titaness inflicted punishing floods and thunderstorms upon the middle world, rinsing away man and nature alike in her wrath.
Finally, the survivors managed a ritual to still the power of the Altar, and trap the Titaness in the Chaos, were she contented herself to torture and punish the mortal workmen that had been levied to build a city of wonders in her honor. Unable to escape, the workers have been forcibly mutated to appease and amuse Thraktoonara into elemental horrors , until they revolted. The Titanesses' body parts are scattered throughout the Raindance Metropolis, for she laid a curse upon her minions that their hands might never slay her. So she merely lies in scattered, entombed pieces unable to die throughout the city built to honor her.
The Hanging Gardens are a safe respite for adventurers that travel here by activating the Raindance Altar, and Thraktoonara placed a permanent enchantment that causes mortal beings to be invisible here, that she might stroll in comfort, untroubled by the sight of her servants. There is ample food and water in the gardens, still maintained by water eruptions from the volcano, yet adventurers must beware the daily lightning storms also.
The City of Wonders is to be avoided by all but the bravest, however. There are many objects of value, and much gold for the taking, yet mutated elemental horrors still lurk, driven insane by their torment. Some are content to merely rage against all other living things and electrify anyone they encounter. Others fight them seeking to reunite the severed body parts of the Storm Titaness in the hopes that she will ease the torment of their mutated existence. Those that venture here in search of gold and treasures could influence the struggle one way or another.
BlackMarsh of the Bonespeakers

There lies in your campaign world a remote and dangerous southern jungle that hides a fetid swampland known as the Blackmarshes. The lizardfolk that inhabit the region are as savage and feral as anywhere, yet those that survive their spearpoint diplomacy and poison-tipped greetings may discover anomalous objects amongst the waters and bullrushes. Massive bones of great reptilian behemoths lie within the Blackmarsh, covered in runic symbols written in an primitive dialect of Draconic. The runic emblems spell out a ritual, of which the bone itself is the material component. Someone with Ritual Casting that succeeds at a DC20 Arcana check, and who knows the Draconic language can perform the ritual spelled out upon these bones.
Upon doing so, the bones begin to hiss and whisper with a voice that has instinctive power over the lizard people. Those who hear it will find their minds elevated, their awareness transformed. It will become apparent that the savage lizard folk are the degenerate remnants of a sophisticated, intelligent race of peace-loving saurians that once ruled over this part of the Middle World. When one of the rune-bones has been awakened, the grateful lizard people will lead adventurers back to their settlements, where they may rest and recover. In return, the awakened lizard folk will ask many questions about modern craftsmanship, culture, religion, and history from the outside world. Those that answer freely and honestly will be welcome guests of the ennobled saurians.
Yet there are those among the lizard folk, many times the Blackscales, that cannot hear the true voice of the rune-bones, and will react with enraged jealousy at their newly civilized kin. To date, no true civilization has emerged in the Blackmarsh, for those that cannot hear eventually succeed in stealing or destroying the rune-bone, causing the saurian people to revert to a feral, hostile state of limited intellect. All of their enlightened thoughts and civilized achievements forgotten, even should they be awakened again.
Riverdeep

A town of strange, mindless people with little to no intelligence.( The dishsoap was quite fine , lampost). Small pockets of still intelligent people hide in buildings that are barricaded and surrounded by moats of water.

When the PC's head into the mine, they will find a brain ooze, which sucks the intelligence out of people, and effectively brainwash's them. The only way to destroy it is to get it immersed in water, in which its regeneration stops.

I have always loved ooze's and jelly's!
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