Four hundred and eighty years ago, a kingdom rose and fell in the lifespan of a single man.
Cisalgu has always been more of a region than a country, for as long as men can remember at least. Yet there was a brief, shining time of thirty two years that it was more, so much more.
The Algus were scattered settlements of tiny human farming communities. The people lived simply not out of a desire, but because the land was so hostile and unforgiving that it was impossible to live otherwise. Ogres and goblins and beasts even worse prowled the forests beyond, and the more organized troupes of these creatures often raided and demanded tributes of the peoples of the Algus. It was a life of generation after generation of subjugation, until the rise of Tella Th'un.
Th'un was a mercenary, skilled with the bow, his short, curving sword, and with a horse. In time he discovered there was greater profit to be had raiding the goblin villages than in escorting caravans through the region, and in very short order he had gathered a handful of like minded warriors around him.
Bolder and bolder grew their raids, until the time that his brave ninety horsemen and he turned a tide against a raiding force of three hundred hobgoblins, their swift maneuvers catching the inhumans completely off guard. Distributing the defeated invaders' weapons among the town, he demanded a levy of twenty warriors in payment for the rescue, with a pledge to return should the town ever need him anew. They went to the next town and repeated the gesture, his army swelling in size with each stop.
The Cisalgu Riders became a legend in the woods, roaming ceaselessly between towns in bands of thirty or forty warriors, swiftly bringing word of hobgoblin movements from point to point and rallying the greater number of the horsemen to moments of crisis. Within ten years, Th'un was king in all but name, and two more brought him even that title.
Three major campaigns were launched to "purge" the dark hills and forests beyond the towns, and town militias were raised as standing, local forces to compliment the nomadic Riders. Raids fell off and all but ceased for the duration of his time on the throne.
And then, as humans tend to do, Tella Th'un died. His warriors, in accord with his instructions, took his body to a secret place in the woods he had so long defended and laid him to rest, swearing their fealty in a sacred rite that burned the memory of the Grave's location from their minds.
As the years passed, the Riders split apart, some leaving for lands beyond in search of new wars, others fighting against eachother in a bid to control the Algus, and just as many dying in the renewed raids that Th'un's death had brought. In time, the kingdom itself split apart and dissolved into memory. Many of the Algus themselves remain as a virtue of their standing militias and small bands of riders still associated with them, but the dream of Cisalgu as a nation-state is all but dead save in the hearts of a few romantics and dreamers still living in the towns.
As to Th'un's grave, it has never been discovered. His wondrous sword and bow, which never needed sharpening or replacement, are lost with him. What treasures might he have been buried with? What secrets lie in the lost grave? Was it a Caern, as was the custom of the Algus, or was the foreigner buried as the legends suggest, beneath a riverbed briefly dammed, and then allowed to flood over the burial?
What secrets await the brave who seek out the Grave the Riders forgot?
This has been taken from the campaign I am planning. In all likelyhood my players will never go to Daaken Falls, so i thought I would hare it:
The mighty river Daaken River flows from the Gyldenholm Mountains, forming the northern border of the Grydd Tribe. The river terminates at the Misty Chasm a huge great tear in the ground. The river flows straight into the Chasm, forming the Falls, the spray and mist the Falls create give the Chasm its name.
It is believed that the Chasm has no bottom and that the Daaken River falls either forever, or forms a gateway to the Elemental Tempest. The truth is that the river falls into the Underdark forming a great lake in the darkness.
The Falls are well known and due to the dangers few travel the river close to the Misty Chasm. On the very edge of the river, overlooking the Misty Chasm itself is the town of Daaken Falls.
The town is the Thanehold of Powtyr Clan, a minor clan within the Grydd Tribe. The Powtyr are an isolated clan and one that has become wary of outsiders. The constant roar of the falls reverberates through the town and is said to be the cause of the inhabitant’s strangeness.
In ancient times the inhabitants would sacrifice children and the old to the Falls, throwing them into the Chasm. This practice was thought to have been stopped over a hundred years ago by the then Penthane of the Grydd. In the place of humans animals were sacrificed. Though frowned upon, the Powtyr were allowed to continue this practice.
Over a year ago strange lights were seen on cloud covered nights, from deep within the Misty Chasm. This was accompanied by strange dreams amongst the inhabitants of the town, prompting them to return to their old sacrifices. This has been kept secret from outsiders and so far only the sick or deformed have been thrown into the depths.
Somehow one of the sacrifices survived the fall and his broken body was found by the koa-toa that live in the lake and taken to their aboleth master. The abomination read the child’s mind, learning about the town above. Plans have begun to invade the human settlement.
The increased Underdark activity has been noticed by the Powtyr. They often dream nightmares involving water. Also now when the lights are seen in the darkness they appear accompanied by the sound of distant drumming. The Powtyr are now thinking of increasing the number of sacrifices.
Standing on the shore of the mainland, one can just make out upon the horizon the faint outline of a small barrier island, known as Dragonwatch.
Centuries ago, Dragonwatch stood as the first line of defense against voracious dragons, flying in from their isolated islands to plunder and feast upon the numerous villages that once dotted the mainland coast.
The great lighthouse of Dragonwatch held its unflinching eye upon the sea for over 200 years, guiding the island's numerous balista towers to their targets time and time again. However, as any sage knows, time changes all things...
No one has seen a dragon over the island for generations, or in the whole region for that matter. Its sense of purpose floundering, Dragonwatch closed its great lighthouse 75 years ago on this day. The once thriving fort-city which the island supported has been largely abandoned, its population swallowed up by the same coastal metropolises that consumed the small villages Dragonwatch defended long ago.
With its lighthouse snuffed out, its balista towers in disrepair, and its fort-city left dark in the night, Dragonwatch has been largely forgotten. After all, over a hundred years without sighting a dragon is a long time; or so thinks the short-sighted man. On this the 75th anniversary of the lighthouse's last flicker, the thunderous bellows echoing across the ocean mist would seem to disagree...
This ancient fortess seems to have been constructed thousands of generations ago. Little is known besides the fact that a select few now in habit it constanstly defending. All who come must prove their worth against the encrouching golbinoids. As a rite of initiation you are taken to a sacred inner pool, that holds many secrets among them this:
"I hath sealed the powers of the Divine, the chosen, who shoulders my burden, will become one anew, the Divine hand upon this world."
The defenders fanatically wait for the hand but, who's hand will be visited upon the world?
The fortress of Sunsorrow Watch is the point of the spear, sitting atop the high cliffs of a peninsula that guards an approach to a sheltered bay, watching for any intruders beyond the sea.
So named for the constantly foul weather that rakes in from the south, Sunsorrow Watch is far removed from the greater glories of civilization, and the men who walk its walls have little contact with the outside world, save for a string of pathetic fishing villages that huddle in the shadow of the cliff.
A post at Sunsorrow, so far from anything else, is tantamount to exile for most, but there are men who have reason to stray from the guiding light of the distant kingdom, and they find a secure but distant shelter from the world at Sunsorrow.
The keep maintains a garrison of approximately 100 men, including 15 rangers and the crew of a single small Ketch stationed at the fortress and moored at the docks at the base of the cliff. The fortress also currently has a single spellcaster, a young acolyte of the church named Ethan Van Dyre.
While Sunsorrow Watch is typically a peaceful outpost, and the Ketch is used to rescue imperiled fishermen more than anything else, the nearby villagers have begun to whisper of strange happenings: of dead things washing ashore with the tides with a gritty black ooze in place of blood; of fresh catches of fish spoiled rotten by the time they are dragged ashore' and of a strange, heavy mist that is encroaching from the south, having already swallowed a small island there so completely that the fishermen swear the island no longer exists...
Dust Falls and Downtown:
Hundreds or thousands of years ago, the place now known as Dust Falls was a great lake fed my a mighty river. Over time, however, the current of the river and the weight of the lake eroded the bedrock around the mouth of the river of this high-mountain lake, until it crashed down into an undiscovered series of labyrinthine caves below. Over and over again, the rush of water crushed the roofs of the caves below it, eventually carving out a mile-wide, ten-mile deep hole in the world. The river has long since dried up, and now only a small trickle of dust falls down from above, giving the place its name.
Standing at the lip of the hole is a town that takes its name from the place. It acts as a launching-off point for the perilous journey down the chasm by way of a series of branching caves and ledges that winds its way down into the darkness. Thanks to the surrounding mountains, little sunlight ever reaches the town of Dust Falls, and more than a mile or so into the chasm, even that dwindles to a faint glow from above.
Ten miles below the surface, at the bottom of the long trail leading down the chasm, travelers come to the gates of Downtown, a fortress city that guards the opening into a vast cave in the deepest reaches of the pit. Though the road to Downtown -if it can be called a road- is perilous enough, the people of Downtown know that they guard the entrance to something far worse, for the cave they stand at the mouth of is a direct connection to the Underdark and all the horrors it contains.
Both Dust Falls and Downtown are cosmopolitan places, and while neither is a safe place for anyone who doesn't know how to handle a weapon, Downtown is far worse in that regard: its residents fight a constant war against the encroaching darkness from below, and violence between the town's defenders is as common as battle with Downtown's would-be invaders. Downtowners live in a deadly, benighted place forgotten by the light world above, and they know it. Still, the opportunity of finding the ancient, untold riches of the world below attracts enough new blood to keep the city alive.
-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
Ri Thuk is an ancient Tiefling city long destroyed, which was rebuilt by a powerfull Pit Fiend who uses strength and fear to bring civilization back to the harsh area. Meny people follow his rule, believeing his lies about being an anciend Tiefling king, those fiew who know the truth are afraid to speek about it. He uses vice and slavery to tempt and corrupt, and has no shortage of customers.
Dunharrow Keep "Two worn doorposts upon the hill," the children sing. A full moon sees myriad windows light in an invisible mammoth, the "Manor-Upon-the-Hill." Now the earthly posts sport ghostly doors. Enter! See! The lights, and now the manor, are visible from the inside, and the formorian masters are busy cooking yet another magical beast in their giant kitchens. "Will you save the beast?" The cooking creature asks, unicorn, dragon-child, or whatever it be. "Lift me from the pot, and fortune will be with ye; let Dunharrow see you, and might as well get in beside me."
It's my favorite place in Greyhawk, and I can't think of the amount of inspiration I've drawn from that floating ring of a city.
I've always dreamed of runnig a Stargate-type campaing, with some sort of arcane device that can be used to proel the PCs to any number of locations within the multiverse - I'm working on th eidea, but it's never been really deployed (to my knowledge(
But if you want to draw another aspect of popuar science fiction into the mx, then all I have to say is that Sigil looks a lot like a Halo.
Sigil: a city lost to the multiverse, greater than all - even the great City of Brass. Ruled by the mysterious Lady of Pain, it drifts so high above the Astral Sea that it is sometimes mistaken for a star. But in reality, it is a weapon of such awesome power that if anyone where to gain control of it, they could destroy entire civilizations at a touch. But gaining control of the most magical objct in the multiverse might require a little bit of effort - the Lady of Pain has been in charge for millenia and it doesn't look like she plans on giving up her power anytime soon.
(makes it sound like the PCs are actually trying to take control, rather than just backstory...)