As a first time DM by a spark of what may have been creativity or insanity, I decided to fabricate my own world. So with this, Astu Fides, and other cities and locales I hope to post, it's all pretty heavily flavored with the world I've created. So in every likelihood you'll want to reflavor things a bit.
The Bleached Hills (Point of Darkness)
South of the river Des in Where Angels Fear to Tread lies the sight of the battle which finally turned the tide of the onslaught of the Nine Hells, known as The Bleached Hills. The area is a lifeless, bleach white expanse; earning its name and appearance from the bones of fallen warriors that stretch for miles. The bones of men, elves, and dragonborn lie amongst the skeletons of devils and other abominations. Tattered banners, dulled swords, and lusterless breast plates lie amongst the bones.
As you approach it and walk amongst the bones of fallen warriors, you cannot help but grasp the immensity of the sacrifice that has been made, and the enormity of the danger that lies toward the heart of the Fallen Kingdom of Caelum. For the nearest cities Des Nekketh and Astu Fides, it is sacred ground. A yearly pilgrimage is made by the soldiers of these cities to this place where the bones of their forbears in blood and in arms lay in the endless expanse. A small shrine to Bahamut lies at the edge of this place, and for more than an acre around the small shrine are family crests and heirlooms left by the survivors to honor the fallen.
Yet there is a darker side to this place. Although the ancient bones have not stirred for centuries, a necromancer might look upon this place and see endless opportunity...
In a tower just north of the expanse is a tower that once housed the sister organization of the Wizards College in Des Nekketh. Opposed to the building in the Eastern part of the city, this is similar in size, yet it's stonework is much more bold, and it possesses a moat, arrow slits, and reventments. Through any menagerie of sources, it can be discerned that this was a group that, although annihalated in the battle of the Bleached Hills, was concerned with some of magics... practical applications. The direction I've taken with this tower contains three combat encounters. Several Des Nekketh soldiers turned to wights and possessing the tell tale signs of being harvested by a cadaver collector, guard the tower outside, and serve as a first line, expendable defense. Inside is the aforementioned cadaver collector, swayed to serve the evil that now inhabits the tower. At the top is a stone golem, controlled by a minion of one of Orcus' servants. The Nine Hells still hold sway in Caelum, and this evidencing itself at the battle that so long ago turned the tide is cause for alarm.
Goblins also scavenge among the bones, arming themselves with daggers, shortswords, and axes found amongst the dead. Though ill fitting, they will also take helmets and greaves in order to armor themselves. Though in their most grisly act, they will wear the bones. With leather strips they will tie leg bones to serve as greaves, skulls of larger creatures become helmets, their rib cages breatplates. These goblins are not particularly organized, though one abnormally large goblin identified by his 'armor' fashioned from the skeleton of a dragonborn does maintain a loose grip on a band of goblins. Yet, ultimately, even this group is small. It is not so much the threat they pose to Des Nekketh and Astu Fides, but that they so defile this holy place.
Necromancy seems to me an almost too good to pass up opportunity with something like this. More than a mile wide expanse of bones that is hallowed ground to nearby cities? The possibility for a necromancer to reanimate a massive army? Groups that would be outraged at this unholy act? That's almost D&D 101.
In 'Threats to the Nentir Vale' I found the Cadaver Collector and the daggerburg goblins (a good template for the goblins mentioned earlier). With regards to the possessed stone golem, effectively this minion has now power beyond what it can command the stone it inhabits to do; and destroying the golem will destroy this minion. I essentially took the Stone Golem found in the monster vault, made appropriate adjustments to AC, health, etc., added ongoing 5 necortic to any physical attack, and a few other powers that played off the fact that it is bound to the tower it inhabits.
I would like to stress that this is the direction I took, and I post this in hopes you can get ideas and inspiration. I post the location itself, however, with the intention that it might spark your own creativity and serve as an encounter area for your own campaigns.
A location meant for heroic tier, or to start off a campaign.
Sanguine Vale Hidden in the wild and rocky highlands lies a valley full of gurgling streams, sparse meadows, and winding caverns in the crags. Wolf packs roam the forests and griffons soar above the few open fields. This vale is only located on a few maps, and on those it is found on it is listed as nothing more than a side note. The few villagers inside the valley or near it call it Sanguine Vale, after the red flowers that blossom there in bunches beside nightshade and wolfsbane, although that is not the only reason. According to local myth, hidden in the vale is the crumbling ruin of a keep that was the hideaway for a powerful mage that studied the dangerous art of blood magic. Stories of this mage differ, as to his intentions and ultimate fate, but most agree that his goblin servants, or test subjects, escaped the keep along with many of his other exotic subjects, and that is why goblin tribes now raid travelers and villages from their caves. Of course, it is the few and warring gnoll bands that are truly feared for their savagery, not the goblins. Very few fey corssings are scattered about the vale, and creatures of the Feywild are sometimes spotted in the deepest parts of the forrest. A few villages are closer to these crossings, and have regular interactions with eladrin and other fey, which are normally friendly, or confused. Halfling trading clans travel up and down the many waterways, visiting the different villagers for supplies and stories before eventually coming back to Wolfhide, a small village at least half built on the water. Because not many halflings are devoid of wanderlust, the position of Elder Patron of Wolfhide is a shifting one as one Halfling clan leaves for another to take its place. Hope this helps
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII
My photo was found here.
The new premise for standard D&D adventures is less on world-building, and more about building fantastic, isolated locations and points of civilization so that much of the world remains undefined, unexplored, and ripe for adventure. I'm going to periodically submit ideas for new adventurous locales that could be dropped into any 4e-friendly world, and hope others do the same. Together, a thread like this could generate limitless possibilities for danger and excitement.
The Waywood: A mobile forest of semi-sentient Oaks and Redwoods that roams the plains on animated roots traveling from place to place for reasons understood by no man. The trees seem to be driven by a host of dryads that have left the Feywild, and it is rumored that there exists a cult of dark druids near the center. Sometimes the Waywood passes civilization without incident; other times there are strange deformations, and tales of men and beasts being grafted together or transformed in ways that seem to defy nature.
Steelvein: An outdoor site sacred to the Scythrian warrior-Horsemen. A tribe of militant centaur-archers that survives by raiding and tribute from settled lands. Steelvein is a circuit of roads and racetracks where ritualistic combat and races are conducted by the Scythrians during semi-annual religious festivals. Adventurers that fall into their clutches are made to undergo grueling regimes of endurance, agility, and combat along the tracks, under the watchful eye of centaurs a match for any elf in archery. Those who sruvive are taken to the glittering aurora that shines on a mound at the center of the circuit, where they may be judged by the ancestor spirits of the Scythrians; it is whispered that death along the tracks may be the better fate.
The Singing Sea: A body of water that fades in and out of the Feywild on an erratic schedule. The waters amplify the alluring powers of a host of aquatic fey with mind-controlling abilities, and when the Singing Sea appears, travelers are lured from miles around by dreams of delight planted in their minds by Fey powers. Those that reach its shores are captured and used as playthings until the Fey tire of them, a fate that is usually fatal. But if one can travel there and resist the magical lures of the amoral fey, the waters can be used to brew any sort of magical potion with no other material components needed with an enhanced level of power. But those that drink the waters suffer a great penalty to resist charm effects.
Forest's Edge: A small village inside the start of a large forest which borders wide open plains to the west. Hills and then mountains lie north of these plains, and the rocky cliffs of the ocean are far south. South of the forest is swampland, and nobody knows just how far east it goes.
A portal lies in the plains area which brings PC's and NPC's into this world from other realms like clockwork each day at noon, which is how everyone arrived to this strange new world.
Due north of Forest's Edge, a similar portal spits out vile and nasty monsters each night at midnight, so many so that the village has already started a cemetery not far south.
A ways south of the PC portal lies a circle of standing stones with a ritual altar in the center, a meeting place of druids long-past.
Far to the southeast, in a clearing in the woods, there was found by an adventuring party the ruins of an ages-old temple. Two vampires named Glim and Loyola skulk among its broken stone walls and an adult black dragon lives nearby in a marshy area to the southwest of it.
Upon making it inside, the PC's found that the furniture was topsy-turvy, with the floor and ceiling reversed. Searching the rooms after killing many strange monsters, miniature handheld devices were found, along with a book near a statue of an elven druid named Valanthe Stacialo, who will one day build this very temple in the future-past, before it is defiled by evil and taken over by the sands of time. The funny thing is that "Valan" is back at Forest's Edge, a young druid who is studying the standing stones and learning about this new world along with the rest of the PC's.
Having one of these devices will allow a single PC to enter the stargate portals, and only 5 or so were found. The book further explained that key devices could be found in special locations throughout many worlds, and that each key added to a handheld activator would further allow a PC to more specifically direct when and where the portal would take him or her next.
Time and planar travel have never been so easy, hopping between worlds and settings, but the only problem is that no keys were found here, but at least they can jump into a portal and end up in some random location to start with. Maybe they'll find a key in another world if none are found in this one! And with these devices, one might eventually find his way back home! Another such portal was found 2 levels below the surface after killing the ogre mage who was holed up nearby. Nobody jumped in just yet, but instead found a secret underground passage which ended up bringing them to the surface due south of the circle of standing stones. Too bad some of them were bitten and scratched by werewolves before their return, but at least they managed to kill the mummies-torches are a good thing to have!
As the days go by and more people arrive from other worlds, the village grows, but so do the threats from the monsters. The local seers have suggested that some of the townfolk leave and go settle elsewhere to make it safer to live in Forest's Edge.
Many dwarves and halflings did just that, heading north to settle the hills and mountains if they can make it that far. Little do they know that upon their arrival, similar portals will appear nearby their new settlements as well.
Notable PC's in this game world my friends and I played who can be your NPC's are
Ferrick Vennadho, half fighter 1/rogue 2/wizard 1/vampire 2/werewolf 1 (chaotic and indecisive, flips a coin or rolls a die to make even the most important decisions)Valanthe Stacialo a.k.a. Valan, elven druid 5, vampire 2Pharon-Heit a.k.a. Pheit, dwarf fighter 4/barbarian 1/vampire 1/werewolf 1 (noble tactician) Ravenwing, gnome wizard (illusionist) 5/vampire 2 (keeps forgetting which spells are in his spellbook from day to day)Melfina Starrione human bard 5/vampire 2 (leather-loving prostitute)
We used the templates that allow for gaining abilities and powers of a vampire or werewolf by split levels, a variant I found online, and I allowed both templates to be applied because I wanted to be a vampire AND a werewolf!
Former mayor of Forest's Edge, elven ranger Heavianal Myloric a.k.a. Loric, who turned evil and skulked off into the woods to the east, where he is amassing an army of whatever humanoids he can persuade to join him which come through the monster portal and aren't killed but wander off into the woods instead.
Jonas Windler a.k.a. Jonah Swindler, the first banker of Forest's Edge, who accepted deposits of all the village's valuables and then promptly ran off with them into the woods to the north.
Above-mentioned monsters which weren't killed, such as Glim and Loyola, who are now befriended by the new PC's they turned, as well as the adult black dragon, which of course didn't get killed yet.
Forest's Edge Mayor's Amulet-Necklace worn by the former mayor, and before that, by Ferrick, the former leader of the inhabitants. This necklace grants +1 to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Gather Information checks when used locally, due to the esteem associated with wearing the moniker of power.
A glowing sword was seen in the hands of an undead warrior heading into the woods to the north of the monster portal one night. No one has tracked it down and killed it yet to see what it actually is.
Used-up Necklace of Fireballs, used to obliterate an army of ettins and orcs. A reminder of a good story to tell around a campfire.
And of course the handful of handheld stargate activators, 5 or 6 at the most. Getting them from the vampires who plan to use them soon would prove quite a feat!
The townfolk have completed digging a 30 ft. pit in front of the monster portal and armed it with spikes, making the area much safer.
There is a captured otyugh in a makeshift cage due east of the village, and it is well-fed, eating all of the town's garbage.A few other captured minor humanoid monsters were kept alive in order to lower the number of creatures spit out each night by the monster portal (1 encounter was rolled for every 2-4 PC's and classed NPC's in the area; if a good/neutral part of adventures or such was rolled, I made them come out of the PC portal the next day instead).A small white wyrmling flew out of the portal one night, away over the treetops, heading north.A small group of hobgoblins headed off to the ne of the monster portal one night and are building a settlement somewhere in the woods in that direction.A few other encounters are lurking out in the woods which weren't killed immediately by the PC's who found the portal and came to slaughter beasts each night. Roll your own if you want to add them.Also they did at one point venture south to the cliffs of the sea, found caves down the cliff face, and explored them a bit. The monk who was with them made a sacrifice to some unidentified altar and began to grow claws and fangs. He was promptly abandoned and still lurks in those caves.Beyond the cliff wall lies a whirlpool and on the other side of it, an island, where Ferrick will at some point in the future-past build something special, but as you know by now, it's already there. Maybe a crystal palace would be nice, with many aquariums filled with sea life, and of course an island cove with waterfalls and rocks where he can sit and converse with the mermaids who live nearby in their undersea kingdom. None of the other players yet made up what they wanted to build, so make up your own for your players to discover-something that each of them will work towards building in the future, once they time travel out of this place and get back here long before any of this ever happened, so that it's here waiting on you now to be discovered.
It should be winter in the region as well, as only a few weeks have gone by and the world started on 1/1/00.
As the Armies of the Nine Hells cut down Caelum's sons by the thousands, it was a losing battle. Where the Hells were met in pitched combat, it was most often a delay tactic to give those retreating North time to reach and cross the Des. The Great Exodus, thousands perished as sick, injured, or dying though many were, Hell was not far behind them, and husbands and fathers were laying down their lives to give them precious time. Though their pursuers were finally stopped at what are now the Bleached Hills, the thousands newly displaced had to make their home a new. Some settled near Des Nekketh, some sought refuge beyond the cliffs and walls of Astu Fides, but a great many continued Northward to the Citadel of Fastigium.
Once the Northernmost Citadel of the Great Kingdom of Caelum, it is now the largest human city of the Surviving Kingdoms. When the mass of refugees came to the gates from the Great Exodus, no home was left to returned to. In the coming years, the massive open fields that surrounded the hill of the Citadel gave way to at first wooden buildings, but as the years wore on streets, markets, and solid stone homes encompassed the entirety of the great stone edifice. Now, so many centuries later, the Citadel dominates the center of the city and serves as the seat of the government and the Army.
Given its existing military strength, the city naturally became new sort of capitol. While no one true kingdom exists any longer, the other human cities do respect the word of the High King, if not in any official way. The Armies of Fastigium also journey beyond the Citadel and the green fields visible from its walls, offering protection to those far from Des Nekketh and Astu Fides, but providing support to these cities as well. Of late, however, there have been skirmishes with the Dragonborn and there is talk of war with Dythan's Legion.
A city carved from the basaltic rock of a dormant volcano, it stands at the edge of the Great Arkhosian Desert. Once the seat of power for the Kingdom of the warrior-like Dragonborn, for centuries it was the gem of the Tiefling Empire of Bael Turath before its fall. Now it serves as the home of Dythan’s Legion as he seeks to restore the Dragonborn race to what he sees as their birthright.
The eternal stone of the city has seen many ambitious men, Dythan not the first. His Legions have tattooed upon their arm the Turathi slave symbol as a reminder of the indignation their race suffered for so long. From the hub of Incendium they search the ruins long lost to the sands for relics of an Empire that was in hopes of rebuilding it. Siege Engines and other machinations of war are taken from the rubble along with ancient and powerful relics that have waited patiently in the oceans of sand, and cities begin to again rise from the desert. His Army, too, every day more and more resembles the lost glory of the Arkhosian Empire. Each soldier is a tower of steel, great siege engines are dotted amongst the legions, and the elite of the army ride upon Drakes from the far reaches of the Arkhosian Desert, and it would seem that Dythan is not simply rebuilding an Empire, but preparing for War. Already skirmishes have occurred with the legions of Fastigium, and tension grows every day. While all out war has not yet occurred, one must wonder how one as ambitious as Dythan will play his hand.
It is a military society; every aspect of daily life is fixated upon the military machine that every day seems to grow larger. The small city states that lie to the South between the desert and the Des have become fiefdoms. Not by conquest, but by necessity; being so scattered and so far from Fastigium, the Lords of the various city states have turned to Dythan for protection from Where Angels Fear to Tread, and in return they provide food to the Desert Kingdom so as to feed the Legion.
Incendium is the only true city, as it is the only one that has been fully rebuilt. The government is a small Senate formed from the top ranking in the military, and so of course Dythan holds the greatest sway. With the exception of emissaries, none are allowed passage, so to safely reach the city one must obtain permission or use deception. Any who are caught, however, are taken and put to work restoring the ruins of the ancient cities in the vastness of the desert. So while Dythan’s Legion fights in Where Angels Fear to Tread for the sake of the Southern Fiefdoms, the possible war with Fastigium makes aid in the coming conflict from the Dragonborn seem a near impossibility.
My own homebrew campaign centers around the resurgence of the powers of the Nine Hells trying to conquer what remains of a world called Caelum. And these two cities in the Surviving Kingdoms will of course be a major feature. I certainly hope others are able to adapt them for use in their own campaigns.
P.S. Dythan's Legion is from Threats to the Nentir Vale, yet the city is something of my own design.
The Eye of Alethernea Located deep in the Feywild, this enormous cave flowing with life and pulsing with magic gives birth to the Waterfall of Alethernea, the magical flow intertwined with the water to make it travel upwards, launching the liquid to the sky of the forest around it. Permanent rain (called Alethernea's Cry by the locals) makes travel difficult, and the strange vegetation has changed to make the most of its weather. A traveler can easily encounter various new species there, who happen to emerge spontaneously from the Eye. Very few travelers would suspect they're standing in a place who exists both in the Far Realm and the Feywild, mixing the endless madness of the first with the infinite spark of life from the other, and giving birth to all kinds of creatures both beautiful and dangerous. Whether the planar juxtaposition happened naturally or was created by some unfathomable power is a question that no sage has answered yet, but from time to time a strange shadow can be seen lurking in the water... *Sorry if i made grammar mistakes (not english-speaker), i'd be very grateful if you could point them to me, so i can correct those and learn proper grammar*
I. On PoL in the world beyond the Nentir Vale.
When 4e came out and the DMG explained the Points of Light concept, like a lot of DMs who like to create their own adventures, I grabbed the idea and ran with it. We had enough gamer friends interested in 4e at the time to run two separate groups. My friend Nick decided to run published adventures set in the Nentir Vale and I created for my campaign a territory far to the south at the mouth of the Nentir River where it emptied into a large bay. This allowed each of us to play in each other’s game while running our own. We coordinated on some world building information but kept our own DM-y secrets, too.
This was just fine and dandy until the Conquest of Nerath boardgame came out. I imagine I wasn’t the only DM who’s first reaction to the game board map was, “But that’s not what the world looks like!” I had to laugh at myself, but still, it felt a bit like WotC had pulled the rug out from under me and all the other DM’s who’d expanded their campaign maps outside of the Nentir Vale.
There’s been plenty of time to think about it since then and I got to thinking that this forum would be the right place to post my own contributions.
II. Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ Down the River ...
Using the dimensions of the Nentir Vale map on page 206 of the DMG as a template, I arbitrarily set three unmapped territories of like size south of the vale. A fourth like-sized map was filled in with the riverside town of Plue (later renamed Grim Plue after being overrun by demons), with a long stretch of wilderness east of the Nentir River that gave way to a land so hard-blasted by magic back when the Nerathi Empire fell that even the dirt had been scoured away to the bedrock for a radius of several miles, and finally, the ruins of a Nerathi university town that had once thrived at the center of the blast area.
South of that were four more unmapped territories before the Nentir River, grown ever larger as tributaries fed it, flowing out of the enormous forest that had covered much of the land, fed into a large lake (the Mosquito), and on past that into the Great Southern Fen, a vast tidal swamp that dominates the middle of that map section. (Compared with the board game map, I had land stretching all the way from the Nentir Vale down past the lands of the Iron Circle.) To the west of the forest, lake, and fen the Thistle Plains roll off the side of the map toward a distant range of old, low mountains. In the southwest, the Yellowbone Hills bound the west coast of Nonzh Bay, where the ruined city of Durshin has just recently begun to be resettled.
East of the Great Southern Fen is the Chawkren Mountain range, and nestled between the mountains and the fen are the three parts of the High Moors Barony: the plateau of the moors themselves, the Terraces that had been carved out of the western flank of the Chawkrens, and the peninsular city of Anna’s Port, situated just east of where the now broad, slow, and powerful Nentir empties into Nonzh Bay.
Situated between the river, the fen, the Chawkrens and the vast forest to the north is a band of sere territory now called the Haunted Lands, dotted by ruined thorps and small forts that had all been destroyed in the only major battle fought for the empire near this far southern province.
Nonzh Bay spills off the southern side of the map. Its eastern coast is the jungle home of the Yuan-ti Dominion, past which rises the southernmost reach of the Dawnforge Mountains (the vast extent of which is comparable to the Continental Divide of North America; the Chawkrens are a smaller range that runs into the Dawnforge). Reportedly, a desert lies east of the Dawnforge range, the great height of the mountains wringing all the rain out of the prevailing westerly winds as they climb its slopes. I'll add more information about the High Moors Barony in a future post.
Uh this is a nice thread, I'm inspired to make afew proper writeups for places within my own campain setting that could easily be worked into other peoples' worlds.
So without further ado, The Sorcerers' Rock:
A snippet from the great work of Royal Explorator Welain DeStrille; 'Across the Tarrantian Sea and Back'.
Penned year 525 of the Age of the Rise and Fall , in Dur Callain.
Off the coast of the Sigismundian Empire, far enough that you cannot see it on the horizon, still close enough that you can reach it by boat in less than a day with the winds in your favour, lies an island. It is a small island, no more than a large rock breaking the surface of the Tarrantian sea. It is perpetually covered in mists and the waters around it is treacherous so any boat larger than a rowboat plays a deadly game in trying to anchor at the single mooring on the southern side of the island, for the waters surrounding this island is filled with rocks sharp enough to slice up the hull of even the hardiest heartswood construction.
However, despite the danger-fraught approach, many a ship seeks to gain access to the mooring at the Sorcerers' Rock, why? Well none that have been to the island would willingly tell you that, especially not in a dockside tavern in Teuland's Gate or Dur Callain. For a man's reason to visit this seemingly uninteresting little piece of rock is always shrouded in secrecy.
Atop the Sorcerer's Rock lies a tower, while it certainly is an impressive construction, a slim seven storey building seemingly cut from a single piece of black granite, most men who set their eyes on this tower are let down, it's sinister reputation induces expectations of dark and majestic grandeur, of a tower so large that the top can only be seen when lit by a timely lightning bolt from a stormwracked sky or a dreadful construction, wrapped in hideous, contorted spikes and gargoyles adorned with the skeletons of long-dead intruders that sought to take the knowledge hidden within for themselves. In truth the tower of the Shrouded Academy is a simple black tower and that is disappointing.
To understand why, one must know the story of the tower and it's inhabitants: Long ago, in the age of Sigismund the Crusader himself the lands of Teuland was brought under his righteous rule as he carved out the mighty Empire of Sigismund, known as the Sigismundian Empire today, Sigismund was a devotee of Sealmer and one of his divine edicts was that men must not tolerate those that worked the arcane energies from beyond the Dreamveil.
As such the empire that Sigismund created in the image of his patron was a realm where the practice of arcane magic is tightly controlled by the church and as all will know this holds true to this day, the Three Spires in Teuland's Gates have strict control of all spellcasters working within the borders of the empire and the infamous black knights of Sealmer's Hold will without hesitation or legal process execute any magician whom they feel have overstepped the boundaries set by the colleges of magic and the church of Sealmer.
But as all men know, mages are a fickle lot, they are arrogant, self-serving, inquisitive and above all resourceful like none other. So to counteract the new rulership in Teuland a cabal of sorcerers, conjurers, enchanters, witches, wizards and warlocks gathered their powers and erected the tower on the Sorcerer's Rock, legend will tell you that they pooled their formidable power and raised the rock from the seafloor, whether this is true or just a fancy tale no man know today, but none can refute that no ordinary craftsman would be able to construct a building akin to the tower standing on the Sorcerers' Rock.
Since the day of it's founding the Shrouded Academy have permitted any practitioner of the arcane arts to live within their walls aslong as they follow two very simple rules; a resident must always help young and untrained magicians within the academy to learn the control and mastery required to wield their powers and a resident may never intentionally kill a fellow resident.
These two rules and the exclusion of all other rules is truly what gives the academy and the rock it's infamy and dreadful reputation, any magician, nomatter what his art of choice be, may live and study within the complex. Some claim that it's genius and that the freedom given to these mages will usher a new age of understanding, freedom and progress. While others shake their heads at the madness of giving devotees of the dark arts free reign, indeed necromancers, demonologists, men who have sworn pacts with terrible otherworldly beings and other such dark and horrifying villains are free to study their terrible arts within the sanctuary that is the Shrouded Academy.
I myself have been inside the walls of the Shrouded Academy during my travels and while I find the strict control of arcanists in the Sigismundian Empire unwarranted and unjust, I must wonder, if giving these men and women this kind of freedom is a healthy idea.
During my short tour within the academy I saw things that could bring even the stoutest mind over the brink of insanity. Decrepit necromancers working foul experiments on the desecrated corpses of once living creatures. summoning circles composed of runes so vile that simply looking at them, without understanding their meaning made my insides churn and private libraries where the books seemed to whisper to me from their shelves, promising unimaginable power at terrible costs.
However whether the Shrouded Academy is for good or evil is of no matter, it simply is and it would be an extraordinarily brave and foolish soul who would try to destroy it, for some of the most powerful mages Tarrantia have ever seen resides within the dark halls of this enormous school of magic.
To those wondering, yes the academy is much more than what meets the eye. When I visited, I was but shown a fraction of it and that in itself was impressive, for underneath the Sorcerer's Rock lies a dungeon of uncomprehendable vastness, so large that it is said that it's tunnels reach all the way to Teuland's Gate which lies several days by boat from the Sorcerers' Rock. Not even the masters of the academy know more than half of what lies hidden within the ancient construction that so many generations of wizards have carved out for themselves and wandering the halls and corridors of the academy without a guide or knowledge of the academy is not something anyone, nomatter their skill-at-arms or wands should do.
Many of the passages within the complex were sealed off when I was there, some contained laboratories, libraries or studies of long dead arcanists whose experiments had to be sealed off to not bring the residents of the academy in danger. And a frightening amount of these sealed areas were sealed off so long ago that noone today know why the area was prohibited. I dare not even think about what secrets or dangers can be so vile and so dangerous that not even the formidable masters of the academy will try to break open the seals and find out what is hidden within their cellar.
Despite the nature of the academy and the danger that lies within it, it is not unheard that particularly foolhardy thieves, adventurers or zealots try to force entry to the Sorcerers' Rock either to unearth it's secrets, destroy it's taint or plunder it's halls. Personally I would strongly suggest any reader to never attempt this. I have travelled to many dangerous places all over the world, from the sanctums of the Dragon Isles' secretive priesthood to the ruins high in the Cràevir mountains where the creations of the mad makers still roam, but there is no place that I know of on this earth where death is so certain and so nasty as intruding upon the Shrouded Academy.
I hope this little scripture has given you, dear reader, a clearer idea of what the Sorcerers' Rock contains and what it stands for, I may very well at a later date pen a more detailed record of my short time within the halls of the most infamous construction known to man, but for now I've had to keep it short and sweet to be able to fit all of the things I have seen on my travels into this tome.
Royal explorator of Dur Callain.
Its a pity this thread has died out. I am terrible at coming up with good stuff like this, mind I love weaving stories once the setting has been established. I'd like to thank all who have participated in this thread... most of the points of light and darkness have been awesome!
Donkerlig: A frontier city with only inconsistent trade with the nearest civilized nation, the population is primarily Human with a large minority of Orcs and Half-Orcs. Donkerlig is "neighbored" to the [insert direction] by a nomadic Orc tribe and to the [opposite direction] by a nomadic Elf tribe. Orcs' lifespans are comparable to humans', so orcs who leave their tribe in favor of civilization can integrate into the human settlement and start families very comfortably without the three groups living at noticably different paces; elves' lifespans differ greatly from both, so there are no permanent elves in the city and very few half-elves. The orcs have given the settlers permission to hunt and grow crops in specific regions of the grasslands, and likewise the elves have given the settlers permission to hunt and cut timber in specific regions of the forests, but both tribes insist that the settlers not go beyond their own borders unsupervised.
Adventure hook: One elf and one tribal orc are tired of this alleged "surrender" to the civilized folk. They have hatched a plan to
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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
This is a region encompassing a mysterious planar intersection leading to the Outlands, as well as other territory extending out to the nearest defensible boundaries. It seems to defy all attempts to conquer it. A variety of creatures migrate through the intersection including savage tribes of various humanoids, giants, beasts including their dire and gigantic counterparts, monstrosities, and occasionally other extraplanar beings.
Areak's Bastion: This small city of about thirty thousand is the primary base for anyone who wishes to venture into the Untamable Lands or join the forces guarding its borders. It lies near a central point along the High Wall. Rangers organize frequent expeditions from here to hunt for dangerous creatures like tyrannosaurs or malicious giants, before they get close to the Outer Walls. Fire giants are a particular concern due to the possibility of establishing mines and forges, followed by marshalling a well-armed barbarian horde to strike out at the Bastion.
The High Wall: The main barrier is a forty-foot-high wall extending out to the coast. It is maintained in mostly excellent condition, with the aid of wizards using stone shape and wall of stone over the years, ensuring a smooth surface across the entire wall.
The Outer Walls: A hodgepodge of fortifications built beyond the High Wall in attempt to secure additional territory, subject to frequent loss and recapture. Anyone who can hold one of these strongholds for at least a year is officially bestowed a title. Finding people willing to work the land can be hard, often requiring prison labor.The White Fields: Around the planar intersection, the usual groundcover gives way to a pale grass native to the Outlands. This zone has a dual location on both the Outlands and the Material Plane, and creatures attempting to exit have a 50% chance of going to either plane. Creatures traveling in a group tend to remain together.
Mount Dust: A solitary volcanic mountain is known to have a city from the previous civilization buried at its foot, yet to be excavated.
Somewhere out in the sea is a small, sparsely populated island, with a few thousand people mostly concentrated around the island's only port. An order of druids has claimed most of the rest of the island as a nature preserve and headquarters for their circle. Yet, one small guild of powerful wizards maintains a highly secure underground fortress here, dedicated to one purpose: performing the clone spell for hire, including providing space to store dormant clones. The Vault Keepers practice a strict no-questions-asked service policy,
The Vault Keepers
The Vault Keepers are six wizards, all over 15th level, able to cast clone, with assorted specializations. Their staff includes: one or two lower-level wizard assistants for each of the Keepers; a small company of mercenaries to guard the premises and accompany the Keepers out on business; a few servants to keep the place clean and the pantry full; and a pair of golems, one iron, and one stone, to deal with particularly troublesome intruders.
The Vault Keepers depend on a network of informants, spread through several major cities, to scout for potential customers and screen them for connection to the Keepers' enemies. By the time a potential customer is contacted with a sales pitch, they have already been judged capable of affording the cost of cloning, and reasonably likely to abide by the terms of service. If the customer is interested, an appointment is made to meet a Keeper within a few days.
Normally, all access to the Vault is provided through teleportation, to help conceal its geographic location. For those who do know the island's location, a standing stone on the surface marks a spot directly above the reception chamber, for using dimension door or arcane gate. There is also an emergency tunnel connecting to the island's tidal caves, and ventilation shafts leading to a section of coastal cliffs.
The Vault Keepers' services revolve entirely around the clone spell. They will enthusiastically recommend paying for incubation at the Vault, where they can offer guaranteed security, though customers may also hire the Keepers to work at outside locations. Because of the limited space at the Vault, however, each customer is only allowed to store a maximum of two clones at the Vault, with a marked-up fee for the second. Anyone paranoid enough to feel the need for three clones is best served not keeping them all in the same place, the Keepers believe.
When paying for incubation at the Vault, the clone is incubated in a standardized crystal vat filled with saline solution, in a cell with a private chest that may be stocked with clothing and essential equipment. Ownership of the cell normally only reverts to the Vault Keepers upon the awakening and departure of the clone.
Service Cost Notes
Clone spell 7000 gp Diamond and incubation vessel bought separately, or supplied by customer.
1000-gp-value Diamond 1500 gp Suitable diamonds are also accepted as payment, at the same value.
Off-site incubation 3000 gp Includes the 2000 gp vessel and travel costs.
Vault incubation 5000 gp
Second incubation space 7000 gp Customers are not permitted to store more than two clones at the Vault.