The Story Thread: From the Town to the Dungeon

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Okay, I'm going to kick this thread off by saying that all story concepts are welcome here. Feel free to discuss campaign concepts, adventure ideas, and one off session runs.

I'm going to start things off with the campaign that was generally considered the best one I ever ran. An evil themed campaign. The players love to be evil, so I let them. Anyone should feel free to use this. It was originally set in Faerun (3.5), Cormyr/Dragon Coast to be exact.

Campaign Plot:

The characters (who were running away from their pasts/homes) one day bumble into each other on the road and decide to travel together, as there is safety in numbers. After being ran off from a city for committing heinous crimes, the two stowed away on a ship across the sea. While at sea, a nasty storm (conjured by the deity Bane) ship wrecks the players on an island. While on this island they discovered a village torn apart and destroyed. Investigating further they discovered some ruins being guarded by undead. Inside, they found a trinket (the DM can determine what this is). Upon touching it, a black beam of energy emerges and towers into the sky. A beacon of sorts, if you will. The trinket is destroyed in the process.

During the island part of the campaign, the players discovered two weapons. One engraved with words. I think mine were "Lightning" and "Crusher". They are +1 weapons. Lightning was a crossbow imbued with lightning damage. Crusher was a mace with fire damage. Unbeknownst to the players, these weapons are actually major artifacts. The catch is though, that for their true power to be unlocked, they need to be activated with special words. The major artifacts play a role in killing Bane.

The players escape the island and discover that the beacon can be seen for miles around, even from the coasts. After exploring the new area for a bit, the players encounter two cults working together. The cult of Mask, the deity of thieves, and the cult of Bane, deity of evil and chaos. When the players meddle too often in their affairs (for their own gain), the players are brought before Bane himself in a shrine. He slaps a powerful geas on the players and sends them forth to find the remaining trinkets/beacons to help his master plan.

From there, the two players set out to travel together wherever the DM places the beacons. Preferably many many miles apart. During their travels from beacon to beacon the players cause chaos in their wake from doing evil.

The original intent of this campaign (which I didn't get to finish) sets the players out to find the beacons and get revenge on the deity that enslaved them. Once each beacon is found, the beams/pillars of black energy connect together and a giant astral gateway opens in the sky. That gateway, is from the very depths of Hell. Upon opening the gates of Hell, Bane's army of demons, devils, and more pour out of the sky and openly reign terror on the Earth.

During their travels, the players were beset by paladins hired by both the Harper's Guild (trying to work against the cults) and by towns they had pissed off. These parties are the ones who are supposed to reveal to the players (whether intentionally or by accident) how to kill a deity and how to activate the artifacts in their possession.

Now, in my campaign, the players got so out of hand with their actions that every session became an extreme likelihood of death. It got me very worried, so I eventually beset them with cursed armor that turned them into good people. To prove that they were good, they had to set out to kill Bane anyway. So the story became one of personal redemption, after unleashing Hell on Earth. Though, your players may actually wind up playing things out very differently. I'd love to see how these things go in other groups.

Eventually, I established as canon in my games that the characters in this campaign went on to defeat Bane in a final grand battle. But mysteriously disappeared at the end of this battle. They are honored as heroes in some cities and even had statues erected in their honor at the site of the final battle. The after effects however, were pretty bad. Despite the gates to Hell being closed and Bane being killed for once and all, some units of the army still walked the Earth. Leaving the roads and some civilized areas still in despair. Making tavel extra dangerous as the kingdom of Cormyr still didn't have an army at full strength and no king to lead the ones they did have. This set up could make for an interesting follow up campaign with new characters. Or even the old characters if you find an interesting way for them to return to the world.

Anyway, can't wait to see some other stories get posted. Also, if you have any questions about this campaign, I'll do my best to answer them. It was a long time ago, and I don't remember all the details, but I'll certainly try. ^_^
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
One quick addition:

At some point, the players were swindled by a green eyed traveling merchant in a swamp. He purchased the artifacts they had (at not too good a price, but enough of a one that the players will likely heavily consider it, especially if they've been using the +1 weapons for a long time and need an upgrade badly), as he recognized them. The merchant is a green dragon in disugise. When the players realize that they need the artifacts, they may or may not have to go fight this dragon and get their weapons back.

And one other minor addition:

If the players are getting tired of being forced to follow a string of adventures on the road that aren't necessarily what they want to be doing or doesn't advance their personal plots, I actually set up side quests for them along the way where the geas loosened a little and they could act freely for a time without the influence of Bane breathing down their necks.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I wrote this for a game that I ran once...ONCE.  I came down with infected tonsils and was not able to run for several months.  I've considered bringing back for another go...


Stories from the Mist 

The dead are starving, stark raving mad and desperate.  The dead are plotting and prowling, sniffing, smelling and growling.  They are waiting for you there, in the mist, in your homes among the silver sky lined ground.  Whispering into your subconscious, preying on your fears and feeding your nightmares.  They are stalking, skulking, blood crazed and crouching in every corner.  Every breath will stop short, every beat will skip and every scream shall catch, fear will have you a wretch.  Every mist a new batch of flailing flesh dredging ghouls wailing.  Every moon a boon for dual fanged loons.  You’re a six course feast run ragged and hoarse, roped, bagged, and dragged under the brush for your lush rivers of red gold.  You know you’re never going to get old?


                                                                         -Bard of the Seekers



The mist seemed perpetual, it would cling to our homes for days, presenting an impenetrable wall of whispering madness that attempted to snake its way in through every door seam, window shutter and chimney.  We spent these days inside, praying for relief in desperate silence while the fear in our hearts thundered and screamed.  No one dared open a window to glance a view outside.  Grandfather, seated on a worn, stained pine chair would drone on in a deep near monotonous tone while wisps of silver licked at his feet.  This would be how I would spend a great many days as an orphaned child.


                “It has been years since I went out into the mist and I’d rather not do it again if I can help it.  Once it gets into your head it stays there like a hook, nagging and tearing at the senses.  Every sound is amplified and rings ill in the mist.  Every motion stirs a panic, every smell is dread.  I was constantly afraid the sound of my hammering heart would give me away, send some ghoul running to rend my flesh.  The mist is a nightmare, and it stays with you.  I still wake up in a cold sweat; still sleep with a burning lantern and a rope around my waist.  It whispers to you, you know.  It whispers in the voices of people you’ve lost, it asks for help and leads you away if you let it.  We lost a number of seekers to delusions of their lovers calling for help, but mostly, we lost them to ambushes or traps.  The dead use the mist as cover to launch attacks during otherwise safe days.  We were never certain if the voices we heard were the mist, or the dead prowling the mist.”


                The dead prowled.  The dead prowled at night.  The dead prowled in twilight, fog, mist, smoke, and any other daylight obscured locale.  The dead hide in the trees lining the outskirts of our village, a rope’s toss away.  The town had been arranged with the buildings forming a circle around a small grassy clearing.  The trees had been burned and hacked away to a safe seeming distance.  As children, we were only allowed to play in the small clearing in the middle of town, and even then, it was always under the watchful eye of Grandfather.  I relished the clear sunny days we were allowed outside, but even then, a small distraction, or a ball gone astray into the woods meant the day was likely over.  If a ball was given a fast kick into one of the shadowed alleys, Grandfather would get it, but if the ball went further and stopped in the woods or a short distance from the woods, we simply played a different game while we waited for the seekers to come home.


                On a gorgeous October day Xavril, my seeker bond, sent our leather ball bouncing between buildings and rolling across the short clearing to rest gently against some brambles at the edge of the woods.  I gave him a solid punch in the arm, tossed him a stick and we began dueling, but Grandfather would spend half the day staring at the ball.  At the end of the day Grandfather brought all the children indoors as usual and told us it may be three days or more before the seekers return.  We knew that meant by the time they had, the ball would have been trapped for certain.  The following two days were a mix of heavy rain and mist, the gloom kept us indoors.  Grandfather kept us occupied with stories again.


                “The world hasn’t always been this way.  In a time before the mists there was a great city known as Elda’Garde, this city was massive, I know because I’ve been there.  Well, to the ruins at least.  It was some three decades ago while travelling with my fellow seekers that we first entered the city.  At that time it was only a legend, but we found her.  High up on a mountain plateau no more than three days walk from here.  She rests there now, ruined and overgrown with vines, brambles and decay.  Its former glory is tainted but there.  Amidst claw marks, broken skulls and collapsed buildings are great stories carved into stone.  This was once a land of great kings and noble lords.  A rich happy people inhabited this valley.  The evil that swept over this land must have come quickly, for I found no evidence of a prolonged fight.  No relief carvings of wars against undead, no tomes relaying years of battle.  Yes, the mist must have welled up rather suddenly.”


                  Grandfather never enjoyed details, every time he got too close to something painful or horrifying he would just trail off or offer us some tea to drink.  It was during one of his near ritualistic tea offerings when the door flung open and our seekers entered with some urgency.  River Sin, an elven ranger followed by the hammer wielding Typhoon Lighthunter and Harmony Seraphim, the group’s trapfinder.  Behind them entered three more, two of them holding the third who was spouting a great deal of blood from his pained coughing.  I heard Ronin cry something out in the mist before a haunting scream and a mottled figure swooped from overhead.  Ronin appeared in the doorway dragging Rune Ironguts.  River swept her bow across the table knocking every cup and pot to the floor, most of us were already clearing out of the way, moments later they dropped the hacking, bleeding, groaning seeker onto the table rather unceremoniously and started cutting away at his clothes.  It took a few moments for me to realize they were short two seekers.  I came out of my jaw gaped daze when something leathery hit me in the face.  “Here’s your ball, kid.”  Typhoon Lighthunter grimaced and turned back to the table.  I bent down and scooped up the ball, it had a wooden steak through the center of it.  It was missing about a quarter of one side and had a Dwarf sized bloody handprint on the other.


                Xavril and I would spend the next several years believing we had gotten the Seekers ambushed.  It wasn’t until I was 16 and in training to become a seeker that Typhoon told me the truth.  He admitted that they had been fleeing from a crypt and happened across the ball on the way in, and although they did trigger the trap it caught the ghouls they had run into from behind and gave them a moment’s freedom to evade their pursuers.  He didn’t know how a stake ended up in the center of it.  I was not certain why he bothered to pick it up.  I suppose that is the mentality a Seeker develops after some years out in the mist.  When I became a Seeker myself I would often do things almost instinctually or in a reactionary sense.  I cannot recount all of my battles or harrowing escapes, most of it comes to me in pieces, but I can remember the times and the dread that filled my mind whenever I would discover a children’s toy lying in the woods just outside my home.  These objects were never encountered with apathy, so now when I dream, I often dream of finding children out in the mist, ravaged, gutted, and walking in so much the way I found too many of my comrades.  Our future is their blood and I have never been able to quell the panic I feel in my chest against the pain of watching a child die.  Somewhere I feel something has been lost.  I feel that when the mist came some part of our racial innocence was lost.  When I watch children play it is unnatural for them to be concerned with boundaries or rules, even those rules imposed for the purpose of survival.  I sometimes wonder if this is why Typhoon grabbed the ball that day.  Had he recognized a lingering defiance in his soul that lusted for freedom, for play, for the innocence of not yet understanding what role the mist played?  I know that’s what it would later become for me.


                Candlelit nights I would sit and watch River’s aunt dig through piles of tomes and portraits.  Thousands of our ancestors had perished protecting this village and her family were the rememberers.  It was her responsibility to read the tomes and know the stories so that she could relay the history to us at a weekly service in the Greathammer Chapel.  After Grandfathers sermon she would give us a history lesson that reflected the perils we face in our times.  She would often say to me “We are fortunate you know, there are many towns that don’t even have a Grandfather.  Some towns must rely on the seekers from other towns because they have lost all their own.  It is for this reason that not every Seeker who becomes a guardian will return to Ixis, some will settle Pyrith or Ullin to balance out the disparity.”  The thought of all our Seekers simply never returning was one that terrified us during our youth, and nearly stayed our feet during our time as Seekers.

...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I know there's got to be more ideas floating around out there...
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I know there's got to be more ideas floating around out there...



There certainly are.  I'm willing to be 1 of 2 jerks who just keep this alive.

I'd like you to take your story and write parts of it in narrative form, and I'll critique them for you.  Give me a more coherent synopsis of plot or story development and I'll critique that as well, and you critique mine. 

...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I know there's got to be more ideas floating around out there...



There certainly are.  I'm willing to be 1 of 2 jerks who just keep this alive.

I'd like you to take your story and write parts of it in narrative form, and I'll critique them for you.  Give me a more coherent synopsis of plot or story development and I'll critique that as well, and you critique mine. 




I've got no problem with that.

I'll see what I can do about putting parts of it in narrative form, but do remember, this campaign was run...around 2006ish. Many details are vague for me. I'll also have to do it another day, I have to be at work in 7 hours and I need to get some sleep. Though, if you could maybe tell me what you didn't find coherent in my synopsis, I could also try to clarify anything in it. I thought it was fairly coherent myself...but, critiquing and reviewing one's own works is usually a bad idea.

As for yours, I love the writing and narrative, but I'm not entirely sure if that's a setting concept or a plot concept? Are they merely living in a world where the mist is dangerous to wander into? Or is the goal to find out where the mists came from?
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
My campaign plot is like this:

The party has been part of a prophecy. They don't know it yet.
In heroic their dealing with a group stealing artifacts to take over the nenthir vale.
The group are a bit of anti-heroes though. They have an ideal, but are forced to go beyond the law to achieve it.
The artifacts are part of a ritual to release the imprisoned general of an evil deceased god.
After the party kill the other group, they find out that the group were mere pawns used by an necromancer. He wanted to release to general to find the hidden location of the deceased god to claim the artifact that killed them.
During heroic, their being besieged by hitmen, assasins and mercenaries hired by the cult of the crimson dawn. They cult believes the heroes are prophecised to end the crimson dawn.

During paragon they deal with trouble in kingdom like group of six city states. After a while they find the cult and discover they made a translation error: The heroes are prophecised to ressurect the dead god and begin the crimson dawn and the group they killed was prophecised to end it.
After a while they are asked to escort someone to a secret place.
There they find the necromancer has become a lich and they led him to the dead god's resting place.
After the battle the lich tries to pull the sword out of the corpse. just one problem: the sword kept him dead. If the sword was removed, the god would live again.
Rest of the tier they deal with small stuff.

Epic tier : **** has hit the fan
They realize they raised the god.
The god kills an friendly npc and prevents them from raising her.
He also kills a number of gods and takes their power.
The heroes need to travel the world in search of the fragments of the sword.


These are the cliffs notes of my campaign story.
Very, very shortened 
"Into the heart of battle, I shall walk In the eye of the storm, I will stand Onto the end of the earth, I shall hunt In defence of others, I shall fight For honour and glory, I will live And for justice, I would die"
Wanted to come at this from a different perspective and keep the thread afloat. Here's a little LIM side-project I've been fiddling with as I hope in vain for local Dark Sun players to spontaneously emerge.

On any other world, Bitterwater Basin would be a footnote on some traveler’s map. But in the harsh lands of Athas this shallow pool of muddy, barely-drinkable water is a prize worth shedding blood for.


Tucked into the geographic fault lines between the rocky badlands of the west and the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes, Bitterwater Basin is the private realm of Gamooga, a feral Halfling druid who has claimed the water on behalf of the spirits of the land. For over a decade Gamooga has maintained a fragile peace with the scavenging beasts and native plants of the area, mostly by ruthlessly stalking and slaying any sentient humanoid who dares come near. The druid’s militant defense of the pool has kept it a secret until now.


A ferocious sand storm has blown the PCs off the trade road from Altaruk deep into wastes, but through extraordinary luck they have stumbled upon the life-saving source of water. Gamooga, having never seen so many armed humanoids this close to his territory, is laying low to observe their actions and strike when vulnerable.


Gomoog and the PCs are both ignorant of Kaldal, a dwarven slave leading a tribe of desperate followers into the wastelands. Kaldal and his band rose up against their captors in the confusion of the sandstorm and has fled into desert, their ramshackle weapons still stained with fresh blood. Kaldal’s focus is to find resources for his new tribe, and he will stop at nothing to see that they survive.


Close on Kaldal’s heels are mercenaries dispatched by House Tsalaxa to recover their runaway property. The mul mercenary captain Prosus is only concerned with recapturing enough slaves to make a profit on his contract, though he’ll gladly throw any freeman in shackles who gets in his way. Prosus’ second in command, the slippery half-elf defiler Ori, would gladly strip a verdant jewel like Bitterwater Basin of all life in order to fuel her sorcerous ambitions.


Looming over it all is the Shorn Tower, a ruin from the Green Age that sits just north of the basin on a rugged cliff. The unquiet dead of the tower have long hungered for mortal hosts to delve into the catacombs that wind through the cliff into the heart of the pool, hoping to recover the artifact buried within that binds them to the place: The Stone of Water.


At Bitterwater Basin, stopping for a drink will trigger a fight for survival that can only end with blood in the sand.



Danger
: Gamooga, feral Halfling druid


Impulse: Defend the oasis


Impending Doom: If left unchecked, Gamooga will use her primal powers to whip the local fauna into frenzy, hopefully surprising the PCs with the speed and ferocity of the attack. She will not stop until all humanoid life other than her is dead or driven from the oasis.


Grim Portents: Tiny footprints circling the PCs’ camp; sudden attacks by wild animals; odd rhythmic grunting and trilling coming from the underbrush.



Danger
: Kaldal’s slave tribe


Impulse: Consume all resources to survive


Impending Doom: If no one prevents him from doing so, Kaldal will order his tribe to strip the basin clean of all food and water before attempting to press on westward deeper into the wastes. Kaldal’s focus will allow him little to no compromise on the matter, and the survival of other living creatures is of no concern to him.


Grim Portents: Desperate, half-starved elven scouts are seen in the distance; a bloodied crodlu escaping the slave revolt stumbles into the oasis


Danger: Prosus and Ori’s mercenaries


Impulse: Capture slaves; gain arcane power (Ori)


Impending Doom: Prosus will ruthlessly enslave Kaldal’s runaways and the PCs without hesitation and return them to House Tsalaxa for a generous bounty. Ori will relentlessly defile the oasis, using the isolation and abundance of life as a testing ground for her growing powers.


Grim Portents: Crodlu cavalry probing the edges of the basin looking for signs of the slaves; agitated local wildlife responding to the presence of defiling magic (Primal characters only)



Danger
: The ghosts of Shorn Tower


Impulse: Recover the Stone of Water from the caves below the oasis


Impending Doom: The hateful spirits of the tower, driven mad by the oaths bounding them to protect the ruins, use a mortal host to find and shatter the Stone of Water, robbing Athas of a life-giving artifact.


Grim Portents: Oddly shaped shadows linger in the oasis; echoing voices speaking in ancient, stilted tongues haunt the PCs; strange music seams to emanate from within the hollow parts of the tower

I was kicking around an idea for the yearly Halloween homebrew threads.I can hear you out there,you know who you are.

 Anyway,I started thinking about the cliche' horror movie plot.A group of young people on their way home from a harvest festival.A small group of churchgoers on their way home.In the same direction,but not from the same town.

 Down the road,bandits rush the wagon.The PC's,the two laymen,the deacon,and the wagoneer- exit/are thrown clear of-the wagon.The bandits give chase.A barn in the distance offers shelter.

  At this point,almost no one in the group has a weapon.The bandits attacks deal nonlethal damage.And once they reach the barn,the manor's patron appears and helps to route the assailants.

  Too neat? Yes. My ideas go through about 2 or 3 revisions before I say aha! So here goes.The punchline is the master and the bandits are working together.To what end? The master is the thrall of a Lich residing on the Plane of Shadow or Shadowfell.It touches his property at some point(presumably below ground).

  Ever so often the master lures unsuspecting travelers to his manor.The Lich's minions gather while the master and his servants take a powder.Then let the carnage begin.The Lich occupies a protected residence and observes the bloody spectacle through clairvoyance/clairaudience.

  That's the short version.Basically,a survivor's tale like any good horor story.But will they go back?

  It's in the details. When they first encounter Brannett Hollis (lord of the manor) he carries a lantern.It appears to have been mounted to something a long time ago.That something was a wagon,the first wagon,he lured into his trap.This becomes relevant later should the PC's research it later.

  They stay the first night because it's not safe with the bandits still lurking in the woods.The next morning,Brannett feeds them and charges a modest fee for their night's lodging.This begins the cycle of pay for stay-help you with your wagon,your horse has run off etc.They work off their debt and in doing so are given an oppurtunity to get to know their host better and explore the grounds.

  The woods behind the property have a blighted section they are told to avoid.A day or two later,one of the laymen is attacked-bitten-by something and contracts a fever unlike anything the deacon or others has seen before now.This keeps the group inside for the time being.

  The master and his men leave to investigate.The servants become anxious and right on cue leave for their homes.

  The NPC's dramatically give their lives so that the PC's can escape.

They shouldn't have died for nothing.What happened to Brannett?He helped us.We should return and find him

These are some plausible reasons for the PC's to return.But forewarned is forearmed(doesn't to be actually armed either) and an NPC or a nearby town with a library will provide some answers.

  But this is just the beginning.After the house is the entrance to the Plane of Shadow or Shadowfell,then the shadow version of the house,the Lich's lair etc.

I thought the lanterns,specifically the oil to light them,could play a role in fighting the undead or help in the shadow world.

Anyway,that's what I have so far.Hope this helps.
Thanks for the cool additions guys. I haven't forgotten about this thread, just been busy at work. Which is the main reason no narrative form of my campaign/story in the first post has been posted yet. No time to work on it and when I have time, I'm either sleeping or trying to keep up with a hobby. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
High points from some adventures I've run.. feel free to steal. 

Assassins dressed in black who could attack anywhere, at any time.  If defeated, their forms would disperse into piles of leaves.

Bodies are being found throughout the part of the city that hasn't been restored, completely drained of blood but with no visible wounds.  Intense point was trying to track a vampire mist through the ruins of the old city in the middle of th enight.

Players are asked to investigate an old, forgotten graveyard that's been partially reclaimed by nature.  They fight what are to them pretty abnormally strong zombies and find a staff.  As long as they carry the staff (and it's perniciously difficult to get rid of it) whenever they kill anyone there's a chance that the body immediately reanimates into a similarly strong zombie.

Party goes fully equipped to hunt a dragon - they manage to find a secret way into the dragon's lair and find a HUGE pile of treasure and gold, but no dragon.  They look around for a bit, and one of the players picks up a coin... which creates a piercing wail, summoning the dragon.

Fight is going well for the players against the dragon, so as a last ditch effort, dragon casts a spell that transmutes the gold to molten gold, which then douses the players.

Players find a seemingly empty room layered with thousands of 1 inch tiles.  They know that following the appropriate clues will lead to the tile they need to move, but one of the players decides to ignore the clues and go randomly poking about. Result is that a whole section of the wall tiles animate and completely cover the player, suffocating him.











Some other story threads I've laid down - Most of it not used.

The mega-dungeon
 -  In a certain valley hidden in the mountains, there is an ancient, labyrinthian ruin - it's surrounded on all sides by 10 x 10 tiles of different colors, that are colored white and black, like a miles-wide chessboard, that conforms with the hilly descent.  Far off in the center of a ruin is an acropolis said to contain treasures beyond imagination, but no one has ever been able to make it that far - the entire labyrinth is teeming with undead.


For example - take the labyrinth, outer ring -
When the party has a day's journey to travel across the tiles to the labryrinth gates.  It's not flat, there are many hills and there are worn trails that the party can cross, with the goal of staying out sight of bands of roving skeletons.  Encountering a party of skeletons can quickly prove fatal.  The skeletons all carry one handed prayer drums - if they spot a party, they draw weapons and start spinning the prayer drums.  The sound carries off the tile and soon, more roving bands of skeletons will show up.

The Scroll (plot thread device, used this to "open up" the world a bit and let players decide what their priority was - they found this in Ancient's Aerie)  


Description: An unrolled scroll, left open on the table. The margins have been used to write notes as well, and the paper looks worn and frayed, as if someone has been reading this piece of paper many times.


I hope this letter finds you well!
It seems like ages since we met, but per our discussion, I’ve been finding more people here who seem sympathetic to your cause. For the moment we’re using some of their contacts in exchange for some of the treasure you gave me.


Per our last conversation, I’ve listed out possible locations of the Tomb, as well as some other information I’ve gathered.


The Ancient’s Aerie
Warrants further exploration. Rumors abound of strange goings on, floating rocks, and spirits, which to me, would indicate that something about the area is generating some kind of force. Given how close it is, if this reaches you in time, I’d recommend that be your next destination.


Candletown
It’s bright above, but it’s what’s underneath Candletown that’s interesting to me. Poor fools have no idea. Maybe it’s better that way, I suspect they’d sleep a lot less soundly a night.
(There’s a scribbled note here: 1000 GP, supplies, some summoning materials)


Souixen’s Retreat
A pile of shacks in the middle of Gods knows where. But the ruins nearby must have something, otherwise why would the settlement remain permanent?


Gnoll’s Tooth
They found one of our men, and hung him from the gates. But they didn’t find the rest of our men! I’m told that plans proceed apace.


The Storm Dross
Every expedition here has met with total disaster. I think size might be an issue – try sending one man, trained in survival. As my father always told me, where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be a fire. And what sort of power influences weather for 80 miles around?


The Ice Crevaces
Of interest to me for the same reason the Storm Dross is. There are some older journals from the first exploratory venture that describe much more reasonable weather in that area. So what changed?


Wren’s End
Excellent place to spend the night, and the people there don’t ask a lot of questions. Let’s look into setting up a base in the undertown.


The Spirals
Still nothing. The only advantage to digging here is that it’s so far out no one will find out about it. I just need approval from V, and I’m extracting the team and putting them somewhere with a better potential payoff.


Thirteen Caves
We hired a team of adventures through a double blind to pick a cave and map it. They made it all the way to bottom of one, and they confirmed the rumor that there’s tunnels linking all the caves to each other. They ran into some strange creatures down there, strange dwarves with white eyes, who used poison and were very competent at defending their territory. They saw nothing that could confirm that this was a tomb though.


The Undersea
Personally, I believe it’s more than a myth, we just need to find an entrance. Maybe from the southern coast?


Bridge of Tomorrows
Our men came back with all sorts of tales, and treasure too. It’s definitely not a feywild gate, otherwise the eladrin would have shown up there. Does it lead to a demiplane? The description of the creatures encountered there doesn’t match anything I’ve heard of.
(There’s a note scribbled here: Should set up defenses here. The Eladrin don’t need a back door.)


The Grey Gates
Need to be closed. But only after we’ve completed stage 3 of the plan. We need some measure of control before we can afford to cut our ties with the Eladrin.


The Tumbles
Last reports are that the excavation has come across the reanimated corpse of a massive beast. Corroborates the rumor of death magic here, either in the present or past. V is figuring out how to control it. He says he’s heard of old fey magic using a sacrifice to bind the dead to your will.