In the middle of a great lake is an isle avoided by all sensible boatmen and fishermen. It is a harsh pile of red stones and loose rock with the decaying ruins of a once-splendid palace or temple, its white stone columns now darkened and smashed.
The isle is constantly shrouded in an unnatural mist, and strange, tooth-like rocks known as the Whispering Stones jut from the water on all sides of the isle. These stones are carved with alien runes, unknown to any sage, and when among them men hear a dire whispering and murmuring that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere. The language of the whispers is alien, but those who hear it become uncomfortable and obsessed with morbid thoughts about their worst sins. A wizard once claimed that the whispers impart the knowledge of a potent ritual known nowhere else in the world.
The fish around the isle are also strange. They are long and toothy and have bones where they should have only scales; fishermen are afraid even to catch them. No wildlife has ever been seen on the Isle-Not-To-Be-Visited but something does live there: though they have never seen it, passing boatmen have heard the sound of a great bulk dragging itself through the rubble of the ruins. Once hearing it, such men will never again risk to travel near that accursed place.
with your blessing, i am going to use or rework this for my homebrew.
I consider anything I post here to be freely available for personal use at your table or in your campaign. Besides, Dust Falls and Downtown aren't quite original ideas -I've just adapted them from a similar pair of cities in another favorite game of mine.
Have fun with them!
And because I'm bored, here's one more from a past homebrew of mine that'll probably find its way into my 4e campaign, A high-end heroic-tier town that could serve as a launching-point for an exploratory campaign into haunted ruins and the unexplored north.
The town of Wolfshome, or Ostarakka as it was known to its original eldarin inhabitants, is a frontier town in the truest sense: nestled deep in the Black Spine mountains in the far north, it stands astride one of the few traversable passes into the frozen tundras and icy mountains of the Black Spine. Unlike many towns, Wolfshome has a very small permanent population. Rather, it is used seasonally by hunters and trappers seeking finer pelts in the mountains, and during peak times of year, Wolfshome swells to nearly ten times its normal number of inhabitants. The lands north of the pass are considered inhospitable by the population of Wolfshome, who only make brief forays into its frozen expanse, and most maps stop at Wolfshome.
The town itself is built around an ancient elven tower that once guarded the pass, and while the tower has fallen into disrepair, both it and the high shield walls at either end of the pass stand firm. The tower, however, is itself built on the foundation of ruins older still. Similar ruins dot the pass and the surrounding mountains and the locals shun them as cursed, for none who have ever delved into them have returned.
Wolfshome is well-guarded against attack from north or south by the old elven shield walls and insulated against the worst of the weather thanks to the high bluffs and peaks that surround it, but these same features also make the town vulnerable to assault from the one direction the residents never think to look: up.
-m4ki; one down, one to go
"Retro is not new. Retro-fit is not new." --Seeker95, on why I won't be playing DDN
DDN Metrics (0-10) | enthusiasm: 1 | confidence in design: -3 | desire to play: 0 | Sticking with 4e?: Yep. | Better Options: IKRPG Mk II
The Five Things D&D Next Absolutely Must Not Do:Show
1. Imbalanced gameplay.Any and all characters must be able to contribute equally both in combat and out of combat at all levels of play. If the Fighters are linear and the Wizards quadratic, I walk. 2. Hardcore simulationist approach. D&D is a game about heroic fantasy. I'm weak and useless enough in real life; I play RPGs for a change of pace. If the only reason a rule exists is because "that's how it's supposed to be", I walk. I don't want a game that "simulates" real life, I want a game that simulates heroic fantasy. 3. Worshipping at false idols (AKA Sacred Cows). If the only reason a rule exists is "it's always been that way", I walk. Now to be clear, I have no problem with some things not changing; my issue is with retaining bad idea simply for the sake of nostalgia. 4. DM vs. players. If the game encourages "gotcha!" moments or treats the DM and players as enemies, adversaries, or problems to be overcome, I walk. 5. Rules for the sake of rules. The only thing I want rules for is the things I can't do sitting around a table with my friends. If the rules try to step on my ability to roleplay the character I want to roleplay, I walk. Furthermore, the rules serve to facilitate gameplay, not to simulate the world.
1. When in doubt, wing it. 2. Keep the story moving. Go with the flow. 3. Sometimes things make the best characters. 4. Always give players lots of things to do. 5. Wherever possible, say ‘yes.’ 6. Cheating is largely unnecessary. 7. Don't be afraid to give the characters a fun new toy. 8. Don't get in the way of a good players exchange. 9. Avoid talking too much. 10. Save some details for later. 11. Be transparent. 12. Don't show all your cards.
"Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging..." -Foxface on Essentials
"Servicing a diverse fan base with an RPG ruleset - far from being the mandate for 'open design space' and a cavalier attitude towards balance - requires creating a system that /works/, with minimal fuss, for a wide variety of play styles, not just from one group to the next, but at the same table." -Tony_Vargas on design
"Mearls' and Cook's stated intent to produce an edition that fans of all previous editions (and Pathfinder) will like more than their current favourite edition is laudable. But it is also, IMO, completely unrealistic. It's like people who pray for world peace: I might share their overall aims, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to succeed. When they talk in vague terms about what they'd like to do in this new edition, I mostly find myself thinking 'hey, that sounds cool, assuming they can pull it off', but almost every time they've said something specific about actual mechanics, I've found myself wincing and shaking my head in disbelief and/or disgust, either straight away or after thinking about the obvious implications for half a minute." -Duskweaver on D&D Next
I've always thought this would be a great D&D adventure setting:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree : Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round : And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover ! A savage place ! as holy and enchanted As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover ! And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced : Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail : And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles meandering with a mazy motion Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, Then reached the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean : And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war ! The shadow of the dome of pleasure Floated midway on the waves ; Where was heard the mingled measure From the fountain and the caves. It was a miracle of rare device, A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice ! A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once I saw : It was an Abyssinian maid, And on her dulcimer she played, Singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight 'twould win me, That with music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome ! those caves of ice ! And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware ! Beware ! His flashing eyes, his floating hair ! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Most of the sites above would be great for Heroic or Paragon tiers... I'll try to whip one up for Epic.
Hell's Back Door
Barely a few days before Asmodeus turned on his God and murdered him, the Deity had just created an alliance with a young Demi-God. Durnig the battle between Asmodeus and the nameless Deity, the Demi-God walked through a newly created portal between his own small realm in the astral sea and what would become Hell. Both the Deity and the Demi-God perished to the hands of Asmodeus and his angels, whom were cursed to become the Devils.
Asmodeus has closed the portal on Hell's side, and has made everything in his power to both find the Demi-God's realm (without success), and to keep that bit of information a secret. Perhaps the PCs, who for some reason need to go to the ninth level of Hell, could learn of this portal. Maybe from Vecna (God of Secrets), from the Githianki or Githzerai who constantly travel the Astral Sea, or any number of possiblities.
The adventure site here is mostly the Demi-God's realm itself. Perhaps it has become a Githianki outpost, or maybe a new younger deity or being of greater power has claim it has is own and knows nothing of the portal leading to Hell. Possibly the realm is vacant except for left over defenses. Asmodeus may also know where this realm is and has been able to extend his influence there through the portal and posted an garrisson of elite Devils to protect the secret of the portal form that end.
The hatred between the Drow and the other two elvish races is well known and well documented throughout history. However, there is one place and one event that is better forgotten in history. This place is known as Bloodthorn Valley, formally known as The Silver Wood of the Eladrin.
The Silver Wood was once a place of learning and art in the world of the elves. The Eladrin and the Elves lived together in this wood and made beautiful arts and music. They studied history, magic and philosophy in the woods, and the greatest Eladrin minds came out of its school of natural magic. However, the peace that the races enjoyed in this little valley would not last forever.
The Drow, jealous of the beauty of the wood, sought to steal it from the elves and the eladrin. They launched a campaign against the wood and its protectors. The campaign lasted more than a months time. During this many elven warriors fell to death at the hands of the drow force. During this time the king of the woods died in combat. His son, a student of natural magic, was driven to madness by grief of his father's passing and the destruction of the wood.
In order to protect his domain, the new king sent out the final defenders of the wood, a force of 500 elves. He sent this force to engage the drow in open combat. Unknown to the elves, the king was planning on using a ritual of great power to sacrifice the elves and awaken the woods to stop the drow. 500 elves dropped dead at once and the woods grew large, strong, ugly vines with horrible thorns that attacked anyone who approached the woods. The vines drove the Drow away.
Eventually, the people of the Silver Woods turned on the new king and killed him. They then left the horrible woods and never revealed its location to anyone. It is unknown what treasures of lore and magic are left in these guarded woods, but stories say that it is guarded by more than the magically awakened woods. The ghosts of 500 elves, maddened by the ritual that killed them, seek to kill anyone who enters the valley.
And, as it would be wrong of me to heist without making my own contribution:
The Crown of Ithiad Few have ever climbed this peak and those who have rarely, if ever, speak of it. Legend claims that this tall, jagged mountain is actually the remains of a being slain during the Primordial War. Whether it was a god or one of the primordials is not known, but the feeling of holiness and awe is unquestionable. A massive stone head juts from the top, as though the being were entombed in a column of stone.
A cult of “worshippers” has taken up residence around the head and have named it Ithiad, after a god that some would claim was entirely fabricated. This cult offers aid to any who make the climb and are almost too friendly.
The mouth of the “head” is actually a cave entrance, leading into the mountain below. Some claim great treasures can be found within, possibly even a spark of divinity left over from the war. What horrors reside within the corpse of such an ancient and powerful being? Could there be a gateway to another plane of existence? Does it hold the key to divinity, or perhaps a means of reviving the being?
The island-continent is right off the coast, and with few carnivorous monsters, it was a safe haven for the human farmers and halfling fisher-folk that dwelt here for centuries in peace. Gathering to trade and conduct politics in their central capitol. Until the tribes came. Fierce, proud warrior-races from far-off lands who thought to lay claim to the defenseless island nation - each confident that they alone would triumph over all others. The peaceful folk suffered greatly between savage war-bands that tore through village and field alike in their blood-drenched stuggle for predatory conquest - until the three tribes gathered their armies to simultaneously lay claim to the Silver Tower of the Moon-Witch, at the city center. The Moon-Witch laid a curse upon the tribes, that they would war unceasingly without victory. All three armies vanished from the land that night, along with the Moon-Witch, and the people rejoiced. But the next month, at night - one of the three tribes reappeared in the capitol city, and set about subjugating the entire island once more - to them years had passed and they had recouped their losses. Yet when the moon changed phases again, the city vanished! And a new city, populated by the second tribe appeared again, who also set about dominating the island. The cycle continues to this day - each tribe rules its own version of the capitol in the Feywild, and when their city moves back to the Middle World - but only for a short time before their city returns to the Feywild, and the next tribe's city replaces it. Early in the month, the island and all its peoples owe fealty to the tattooed, feather-clad warriors of the Ixtaaka, and all names are changed to please these masters. Near the middle of the month, Ixtaaka vanishes back into the Feywild and is replaced by the crystal-bearing, Eladrin battle-wizards of Xianeen - who set about besieging the scattered warbands of the Ixtaaka that remain, while the few Ixtaaka left behind scheme and plot to destroy the Eladrin city that has replaced their own. Near the end of the month, Xianeen fades into the Feywild, and is replaced by the fortress-city of Alala-mira, and the ruthless amazon centauresses with shape-shifting magic and deadly skill in archery. They wage bitter war against the remnants of all other warbands still left. Between shifts, each tribe has years to recover in the Feywild, and all tribes now define themselves according to their feud with the other two, and the centuries of rage and revenge are such that each tribe is committed to the feud with irrational fanaticism. In this cycle, no tribe has been exterminated, but neither has achieved any clear advantage over the others. But luckily, the simple human and halfling folk are largely spared in the fighting, and a semblance of order exists in the villages. The island-nation's name is always changing, but travelers can find a brief respite here in one of the villages. The central city should be avoided, however - as visitors are almost certain to be caught up in the murderous intrigues of one of the races. Should you find yourself in the midst of a clash between warbands, flee unless you wish to take sides.
At the bottom of the lowest pit of creation, a tiny shard of utter evil pulses its malevolent energy to bring life to the abyss and its demons. But the purpose of the Shard, and the abyss itself is to unmake creation, but to do that, one would need to overthrow the gods. Countless eons ago, an attempt was hatched to bring the horrors of the pit to the celestial domains in the astral sea. In an eruption of raw power that shook the planes, the abyss vomited forth a mighty seed of evil energy that crashed down in the elemental chaos and began to grow. And grow. And grow further. A spiraling tower formed of black obsidian and hatred congealed began to extend from the surface of the Elemental Chaos higher, and higher. Soon, the object would transcend space and time and extend beyond the Chaos and into other planes, including the Astral Sea. The gods acted preemptively to safeguard their domains from the army of demons that would soon be disgorged. Several angelic hosts entered Perdition's Ladder, beat back the demon hordes, and sealed the tower from within. But the taint of the Abyss was overwhelming, even to the mightiest of angels. Cursing their gods for sending them to this fate, the angels became twisted with evil, mutating into monstrosities no longer celestial, but not truly demonic - abominations that must never be set free. And indeed, neither demons nor fallen angels can escape Perdition's Ladder, which fell far short of the Astral Sea. But the tower can draw in new victims. Those that dabble in plane-crossing magic, those that attempt to summon demons and do not comprehend the forces they wield - they may be drawn themselves into the swirling, writhing tower of darkened madness. Mortal bodies will not last long amidst the tortures of the mutated angels, but their souls cannot escape and will be tormented for eons (unless released) Within, there is no order but suffering. Demons and corrupted angels battle and murder and unleash magic and traps against each other for no purpose but their own madness. Heroes of awesome ability might be able to rescue condemned souls languishing here, but to linger too long in Perdition's Ladder will not only risk one's own life before the flaming swords of insane angels and talons of reeking demons, but one risks the insidious corruption from the tendrils of the Abyss itself.
P.O.D. The Un-Sun Fearful sages will whisper in haggard voices the piecemeal legends that yet survive of the horrific, Mind-Flayer Empire that once spanned the Middle World, and several planes. But some of the Learned remember tales told by gibbering madmen of one of the last, greatest relics of that mythic age of tentacled horrors. For eons untold, Mind-Flayers have hated the Sun, and have labored mightily for some means to counteract its influence upon the world. Unfathomable ages ago, in a misty eon lost to the memories of all but a handful of immortals, they nearly succeeded. With the artifice and resources of a world-empire, illithids were able to build a massive, eldritch machine in the form of a colossal iron sphere, several miles in diameter, its surface etched with spell-runes of utter evil. On its own power, the Un-Sun rose into the sky, absorbing sunlight and converting it into raw magic that was then channeled to create magical darkness. The brighter the sun, the deeper was the dark aura that radiated from the hovering abomination that blotted the sky in elder eons; that all the creatures of darkness might walk the surface to spread their evil without fear. But the illithids miscalculated; the task of absorbing enough light to fulfill their goal proved more complex than they envisioned, and the Un-Sun erupted into flames, releasing all its energy in a magical cataclysm that destroyed several large cities before it crashed to the ground, penetrated and fell into a cavern that led to the Underdark. There are trembling sages that fear that this terrible construct still exists; and madmen will croak of dream-visions in which they behold a great, iron sphere so large that it extends above the water level of a sunless sea deep in the Underdark. A large crack in the surface has allowed generations of vile underdark predators to nest within the eldritch machine, spreading their taint and wallowing in evil. Fortunately, the Un-Sun has landed in a remote corner of the Underdark, but there are those among the Mind-Flayers that possess whispers of its existence, and should an illithid at last locate the titanic artifact, it is only a matter of time before the terrible powers of the plane-spanning illithid empire are again within a tentacled grip.