The Sea of Dead Hope
Hello friends! I've been slowly mapping my way around the Nentir Vale.
Hope to see you there!
Fallcrest's own, dilapidated Gitmo. From a previous administration.
~~~I hope this isnt to long and I hope you enjoy it~~~
~~~Based (very loosely) on a short lived campaign of mine back in the late '80's~~~
Honesty is the best policy, but deception works in a pinch
4enclave. Infinitely better looking than the new Wizard's Forums
Hmmm, a lot of pages and info to go through to check for duplication, so I'm just gonna cross my fingers and hope no one has posted something like this.
The Dread Caverns: Local communities steer clear of the forest near their walls. Horrible things lurk in their, according to rumors. The animals all flee from the forests heart. The outskirts are overpopulated with all manner of animals, from harmless birds to viscious beasts, all afraid to venture deeper in. Rumor has it that deeper in are horrible monsters that defy description. Where even the plants covering the forest floor rise up to kill those who tread on them.
In truth what lies at the heart of the forest is a cave. The cave is home to a malicious, evil presence, so strong it warps the environment around, and turns it into an abomination of what it once was. Close to the cave the forest becomes a fetid swamp. People and animals alike become unsettled. Driven mad.
Inside the cave the true power is evident. That of fear and deception. The cave plays of the fears of those that enter it. Spawning viscious beasts that frighten those who enter it to their very core. But the true fear of the cave is the unknown. Never being sure which threats are real, and which are imaginary. The cave creates illusions of things which aren't really there. Passages that went one way now go another so that those who enter become hopelessly lost. Harmless animals turn out to be deadly beasts. The deadliest threats sometimes don't exist at all, concealing either nothing at all, or deadly traps. But sometimes, the threats are real. How does one ever know what to fear and what not to fear.
So the name neads work, but basically, the idea with this is to scare the wits out of the players and make sure they can't guess what they're up against from one moment to the next. Pit them against things they're afraid of to know end. If your players are especially afraid of vampires or black dragons, put them in there. Or don't and make them think you did. Vary encounters between having imaginary threats, real threats, weak monsters that are actually powerful monsters in disguize, powerful monsters that are actually weak monsters in disguize. A variety of illusions. When the party thinks they know what to expect, throw something new at them. Make them wander into every encounter unsure of what they face and what tactics they should use. An encounter with a mindflayer and it's minions is scary, but what's worse is not knowing which is the minion, and which is the mindflayer until it's too late.
I'm planning on runing my players through this dungeon when they get close to paragon level. Have the challenge of it mark their passage into a new level of fame and power. I love the idea and can't wait to see how it goes in practice. I had the players fill out questionaires about their characters and included a question about fears specifically so I could plan encounters in this place. If anyone else uses it in their campaign, at any level, I would dearly love to hear how it went and whether or not it proved as frightening and unsettling to the players as I'm hoping it will.
Siege of Torog's Court
Torog's Court is a fortress built long ago by followers of the Deity of Jailers, which fell to ruin and was restored by lawful good humans as a maximum-security death row prison. The kingdom has been overthrown in a revolution and the new government is insisting all convicts be released for fair trials. The prison warden is a righteous and traditional man, and refuses to hand over the prisoners in his charge to such an unstable government. The government has sent a militia which is stationed in the nearest town, two days' march from the prison. The warden decrees that if the militia marches, he'll execute every prisoner. The livelihood of the townsfolk consists largely of providing travel accommodations to the prison personnel and the many citizens who visit the prison to claim stolen belongings taken from the inmates and, if the courts permit, execute the prisoner who wronged them. Since the militia arrived, visitors who were at the prison have no way of returning, as all routes have been cut off. Tensions rise as the militia grows restless and the jailers brace themselves for a one-sided fight to the death.
Choose your side:
1) The jailers2) The prisoners3) The militia4) The visitors5) The townsfolk
The Shield: A tall range of jagged and rocky mountains that cuts across the land forming a natural barrier between the Goblinlands and the lands of men. Dwarvish legend holds that the mountains were raised by their deity as a shield to protect the young race but they were not enough. As treacherous as the mountains are the goblins are so numerous that some inevitably make it through, so their deity created the dwarves to stand guard against them.
The mountains are inhabited primarily by dwarves and dragonborn, the dragonborn living above ground and the dwarves living below. The dwarves and dragonborn are very active trading partners to the point where the dwarves live off of food primarily grown (goats, yak, grains) or hunted (mountain boar, bear, deer) by the dragonborn while the dragonborn receive nearly all of their mineral resources (metal, quarried stone, gems) from the dwarves. Many of the dragonborn fortifications have been built with dwarvish assistance.
Although there is a great deal of trade and support between the two groups there is almost no intermingling to speak of. The only dragonborn found in a dwarven city are travelers and about the only time you see dwarves in dragonborn villages are when they are there to trade or work.
Dol Kuzuhnd: One side of a great lake terminates against the mountains of the Shield. Cut into the side of the mountain is a massive tunnel big enough for a large ship to sail through. The tunnel is constructed like a medieval gatehouse with massive doors at either end. Guard towers carved from the living rock flank the doorway from elevated positions so that invaders would find themselves at a serious disadvantage and within the tunnel there are numerous openings to allow defenders to rain down crossbow bolts, rocks, and flaming oil on anyone inside.
Once through the second gate the tunnel immediately widens into a vast underground chamber containing the docks of Dol Kazund. This is where most trade between dwarves and men occur. Primarily the humans bring textiles and barley for dwarven ale which is easier to grow on the broader lands of the humans while the dwarves trade primarily weapons, refined metals, gems and jewelry and quarried stone.
Ok, this is a glorious thread, and I'm going to challenge myself to write up a few of my ideas so I can add to it.
I'm aiming for three points of light and three points of darkness, one each of village, town/city, and county scale; and three ways to use each one as the core of an adventure setting.
We'll start with the village-sized Point of Light.
The concept of the village in the shadow of the wizard's tower is a common one. Sometimes the village got there first, and the wizard moved in later; sometimes the village grew up around the tower. Gallowdell is one such village, a tiny point of light and safety in the midst of Hobgoblin-ruined wilds where every other village suffers constant raids and the threat of destruction. Gallowdell alone is safe in this blighted land, the hobgoblin marauders too afraid of arcane devastation to approach. Gallowdell is a little different, though...
The tower is mortared with blood and ground bones, decorated with flayed Hobgoblin skins, and topped with a perpetual corona of greenish-black necrotic energy. Gallowdell's resident wizard is a master of the Necromantic arts, a pallid, sunken-eyed Eladrin who has lived long beyond even his species' normal lifespan. The hobgoblins do not fear fire from the sky, but grasping claws from the earth; and Gallowdell's fighting men are not protected with arcane defences but by the innumerable walking dead who battle by their side. For all the evil associations of necromancy, though, Gallowdell's patron seems to have a heart of good under his deathly-pale skin. This is the village he grew up in, before the hobgoblin raids began, and he'll never let it fall to the raiders until the day he dies - and maybe not even then.
Gallowdell is protected by the usual palisade wall and a few archer towers, but the true defences lie under the many patches of disturbed soil in and around the village. The undead can rise up at a moment's notice to swiftly dispatch any intruder before politely burying themselves again. The necromancer is not a regular visitor to the village - he's far too busy with his studies - but when he does visit (twice a month or so), he is met by a mixture of fear and reverence. He's been around for so long, and is so instrumental to the village's safety, that he is accorded respect more in keeping with a minor god than a mortal Eladrin. Most don't know his name, and just refer to him as the Old Man.
Plot hooks involving Gallowdell:
The obvious threat:
The Old Man is dying. Constant exposure to necrotic energy and the chill winds of the Shadowfell have led him to contract a disease far beyond his powers to cure. He has never taken an apprentice, and it's far too late for that now - he has barely a month, by his best estimates. And with him dead, his undead servants will exanimate and crumble to dust or brittle bones. The village will fall to Hobgoblin raids within weeks. He seeks to escape the threat of death forever by achieving Lichdom, but he lacks the vital components of the ritual. He has precious little time and needs to conserve what strength he has, so he's looking to hire adventurers to retrieve what he needs. Do the PCs help him, knowing that aiding a necromancer become a Lich has potentially devastating repercussions should he prove less benevolent than he seems, and that the mind of the Undead is a strange thing that might quickly lose interest in the once-beloved village? Do they seek instead to cure his illness, knowing that with the Old Man's advanced age, this might only buy the village a few years? Or do they try to find another way to protect Gallowdell without the necromancer's aid, and leave him to die of the disease he brought upon himself?
The subtle threat:
The Old Man has taken on an apprentice, a young Eladrin lady from a nearby village who travelled the dangerous road on foot to see him. The people rejoiced at first, glad that their patron would have someone to keep him company, and happy that their protection was assured even after he had passed away. But then he began to visit the village less and less, and seemed more distant. New and more powerful types of undead have been sighted around his tower, and rumour has it that the Old Man has learned as much magic from his "apprentice" as she has from him. His attitude - once kindly if aloof - has become more cold and distant, even arrogant, and he seems more and more obsessed with his studies than with protecting Gallowdell.
The truth is that the Old Man's apprentice isn't mortal at all, but a Devil (most likely a succubus) assuming human form, steadily persuading him to abandon his duties in care of the village. The Devils plan to provoke the Hobgoblins into attacking when the Old Man is far to wrapped up in his work to protect the village, leaving every last man, woman and child slaughtered or enslaved. Then, with the Old Man mourning the village's destruction as his own fault, the infernal host will finally be able to tempt him to fall to Evil - in exchange for the power he needs to desecreate and reanimate the entire village and seek revenge on the Hobgoblins.
The threat from within:
The Church of Pelor has been steadily expanding throughout the land, and several years ago the message of Pelor arrived in Gallowdell. At first tolerant of the undead as the only thing keeping the village alive, the village's local priest has begun stirring up trouble. The relationship between the Peloric faithful and the more pragmatic villagers has grown horribly tense, and although the Old Man has chosen to distance himself from the whole thing, it's only a matter of time before tensions boil over. And when that happens, an awful lot of people are going to die. If the Old Man's faithful followers wipe out the local followers of Pelor, it's likely that word will reach the large temple in the capital - and news of a village protected by the undead turning on and murdering a harmless priest and his congregation will not go down well with the order of Paladins, who may organise a Crusade to wipe Gallowdell off the map. Conversely, if the Pelor-worshippers turn on the other villagers, the Old Man will be forced to send in the undead hordes to intervene - with the same inevitable result. Even if Pelor's faithful somehow triumph over the Old Man and topple his tower, who will be left to protect Gallowdell from the rapacious hobgoblin hordes?
This one assumes an Earthlike planet.
Fortress of the Midnight Sun
On an island near a continent in the cold north lies a well guarded fortress. This fortress is in reality a monastery dedicated to Pelor the sun god. The only inhabitants are the fortress guards and a large group of monks wich only stay here for three months each summer but then leave with some of the guards on some sort of pilgrimage to the south, only returning again nine months later.
Though the monks talk to no outsiders some guards have contact with the outside world and come to nearby towns to trade. The monks grow vegtables and brew beer on the island but the island seems to be the only fertile place in the cold north. The guards claim the monks like to stay here over the summer months to stay close to their god Pelor but the sun here shines longer during the summer months.
Rumors however claim that the monks are guarding some sort of an artifact, a prisoned demon that Pelor himself lcoked in this big golden box, but it needs a huge amount of sunrays for power to keep it locked. The monks supposedly travel a far way to another fortress monastery on the southern hemispheres during the winter to follow the longer sunny days there.
Small point of darkness:
For all that magic can heal the most grevious of diseases or wounds, there is still very little that can be done for illnesses of the mind. Often, all that can be done for the insane is to lock them away, to keep them safe - and to keep others safe from them. The sanatorium at Elmsgrove was one such place, a hospital for the sick of mind, run by an order of monks who had pledged to help those that magic could not cure. The chief Abbot of the order, in between his tireless work to help the invalids in his care, would study ancient books of lore and magic in the hope of finding a way to cure the inhabitants of the Sanatorium. After some years, he became aware of the connection between the behaviour of lunatics and the alignment of the stars, and grew convinced that the answer to his questions lay somewhere in the night skies. He purchased the finest telescope that the Sanatorium's funds would allow, and began to study the heavens.
Late one May Eve, after tirelessly tending to the insane from dawn to dusk, then working at his telescope until well past midnight, he trained the great magnifying lens on the green corpse-light of the star Gibbeth, and then fell fast asleep. When he awoke the next morning, his mind was not his own, and the sickly green light of Gibbeth burned like a grim lantern in his eyes. He took the rusty iron ring of keys, and unlocked each and every cell. The inmates of the sanatorium knelt down and worshipped the being that wore the Abbot's body, and they slaughtered the monks in a violent frenzy, and nailed their rotting corpses to the outside of the Sanatorium's clock-tower.
Elmsgrove Sanatorium is a place blighted by the influence of the Far Realm and the vile glare of Gibbeth. During the night, that malign star shines down as bright as the moon on Elmsgrove. It shines through the clouds. It shines through the stone walls, and the halls of the sanatorium are lit by a ghastly green light. After so many decades, the land is hideously twisted by the Far Realm's influence, but the former inmates still live there, their madness beginning to show outside their minds, warping their bodies and the world around them. Rumour has it that the Abbot still lives, with Gibbeth's eldritch tentacles burrowed into his tormented brain.
Adventure hooks to Elmsgrove Sanatorium:
For the avaricious:
Although the monastic order at Elmsgrove were far from wealthy, their Abbot spent years studying the stars. His notebooks would be of incredible value to a Star-pact warlock, or to anyone interested in the Far Realm. And after all these years, that telescope might have become a powerful tool in the hands of the right mage.
For the virtuous:
Nobody deserves the torment that the Sanatorium's inmates have been put through. Putting them all to the sword, and burning the building itself to the ground, could only be a mercy. Besides, the blighted land is growing slowly, year after year, and for miles around Gibbeth is the brightest star in the sky.
For the curious:
The corruption about Elmsgrove is legendary, but nobody really knows the original cause. The connection between the Far Realm and madness is well known, but poorly understood: everyone knows that contact with the Far Realm drives people mad, but Elmsgrove seems to be living proof that the connection works in reverse as well, and that a concentration of madness can attract the energies of the Far Realm. Is it all a terrible coincidence, or did the monks really bring Gibbeth's baleful gaze down upon themselves by amassing so many lunatics under one roof? And how have the insane survived for so long in a completely uninhabitable area?
Elmsgrove makes a good one-shot, or it can tie in with a wider plot arc concerning the Far Realm. It's particularly good if you have a star-pact warlock in your character party! It can work at any level and tier, although it's probably best in late Heroic or early Paragon. I'd favour late Heroic, since Foulspawn are an ideal representation of the asylum's occupants - but there are Far Realm related entities at a wide range of levels, and if nothing else, plenty of other monsters can be re-skinned as mutants and Far Realm aberrations. At Paragon tier, the Abbot could be perfectly represented by a Scion of Gibbeth (from the MM 2).
Over an unbelievably deep chasm sits a seemingly floating tower descending as deep into the chasm as it towers over the earth the only access point is about halfway along this ancient and marvelous marble bridge. The true power that is held in the tower is a complete mystery and many have died trying to solve it.
This is an open ended adventure site that can be completed by the DM I just had thought for the history of this adventure site that i was wanting to use in forgotten realms the Magic node functions smiler to an earth node. I hope people like it :P
DC 15: A half-elf wizard known as Tiaque Yadeth discovered a arcane node that held ancient magic that had been forgotten. He was intrigued by the ancient power that was hidden in this chasm and set up a research post, and began a study of the magic that was held in the depths.
As the years went by Tiaque found out more an more about the magic potential the site held. The research post attracted many of the magically inclined and curious sages. They worked long and hard and learned the heart of the node and erected a tower that was set astride the chasm and constructed as deep as it was tall.
DC 20: The sight became a secret school of the arcane arts teaching any that was willing to learn. The Professors of the school became corrupt and Tiaque himself fell into the darkness that had overwhelmed the school. For years the school was teaching dark wizards and an evil side of magic and tainting the magic that flowed through it.
DC 30: Tiaque set up his study and his laboratory deep in the lowest levels of the tower, which was conveniently in the heart of the magical node. He hid the entrance with the same magic that was bound the the node and flowing trough the tower. This is where he hid all his magical discoveries both good and evil. To protect his secrets he set many magical and mundane traps in the lower levels of the tower and forbid anyone entrance.
Kawa: Population 22000, primarily human, some other civilized races. The city sits on the southern banks of a great river, spanned by many bridges. On the other side of the city are the Adamant Mountains, known for their rich deposits of adamantite. It is governed by a tyrannical human vampire warlord, Dini Lavenon, though his evil vampire family rules the small villages surrounding the city. There is a corrupt ban on the practice of arcane magic, though there is an underground school for wizards operating on the outskirts of the city. Slavers thrive in the city, selling slaves from around the world to passing caravans and the Lavenon family. There is a grand marketplace in the center of the city, which is overlooked by the towering palace of the Lavenon family. Travelling Merchants from all over the world have come to sell their merchandise to the citizens of Kawa. The city is on the brink of rebellion against the overlord.
DC 15: The Lavenon family came to power when Dini and his siblings overthrew the previous dynasty by assassinating the entire family.
DC 20: Dini Lavenon is an ancient vampire, aging almost 500 years. He used to be a general in the Kawan military.
DC 25: The members of the Lavenon family are devoted worshipers of Tiamat, the evil god of wealth and greed. There is a legend that Tiamat herself ordered Dini to overthrow the Gronan dynasty.
DC 20: There is an underground school of the arcane arts devoted to overthrowing the Lavenon family. They will accept support, and they are known to repay favors very lavishly.
DC 25: The rebellion is led by a half-elf warlock named Pelo Harg and a human wizard name Torn Mark. Pelo runs an inn in one of the surrounding villages. Torn Mark owns a large mining corporation. They are also supporters and co-founders of the underground arcane school.
Matsuka: Population 760, primarily human, some other civilized races. The village is a tangle of alleys and row buildings. It is governed by Dini Lavenon’s sister, Sute Lavenon. Matsuka is a small mining village located right next to the Adamant Mountains. It is known for the craftsmanship of its smiths. There is a small market on the southern end of the village. The market is an open plaza surrounded by buildings. One of these buildings is the Rogue’s Inn, a prestigious inn run by a gregarious half-elf named Pelo Harg. The governor’s house is located on the northern end of the village. In between is the large residential area, which is ruled by a large estate, owned by Torn Mark, the founder of the village’s largest mining corporation.
DC 20: Matsuka is the center of the rebellion against the Levanon dynasty.
Nohima: Population 640, mostly human, some elf and half-elf. The tree village sits on an island in the middle of a lake in the foothills of the Adamant Mountains. It is ruled by Acham Levanon, Dini Levanon’s son. The city is known for its animal hide-based economy, living off the game in the dense forests surrounding the lake. They hunt common game such as deer and bear, and sometimes even young black dragons in the mountain caverns. There are several inns in the village, but the highlight is the Inn of the Mountains. The inn is owned by an elf name Elemuel Rostin.
DC 25: Elemuel Rostin is a high-ranking military leader of the rebellion. He is actually a shaman dedicated to the preservation of the lake and the surrounding forests.
Idoriokyo: Population 590, mixed human and half-orc. A major road runs through the center of the village. It is the only village that sits on the other side of the Great River. It is governed by Yiadon Levanon, Dini Levanon’s brother. The village was attacked by monsters recently, and many buildings are empty or in ruins. It is recovering from the attack, yet its fishing economy is thriving. Yiadon is one the only member of the Levanon family that is not evil. He holds sympathy for his citizens. He is also a powerful member in the rebellion. He hopes to contribute to the rebellion with his wisdom. Idoriokyo is the newest village under the influence of Kawa.
Secret Knowledge: Yiadon is a wizard, but he has hidden that from his family in fear of punishment.
Another Point of Light for your use - or rather, two inextricably linked points.
Ataram and Kharovsk, the Twin Cities of Riftstride