The Gate of Forlorn Hopes is a huge black gate, over 30 feet high, carved with images of a mass of horrific beings pouring forth from a gaping dragon's mouth and laying waste to mortals whose sculpted expressions plead for aid and mercy. At the head of the tide there is a single being who stands above the roaring army of demons, cloaked in a deep-hooded cape, with a smiling mask. The whole is made from some sort of dark, slick stone that appears oily or wet in certain lights.
It is set into the wall of a large vaulted cavern high in mountains. The stone around it is buckled, torn, and cracked, and the cavern's walls and floor frequently shake and groan, as if the rock were attempting to free itself of this black chancre. In some places, the cracks and wrinkles in the stone knot together and form mocking faces which stare demonically from the walls, laughing silently at mortals who come to look.
There is a large scored dent in the gate's left door. Usually, nothing can be seen through the hole at its center but darkness, but on certain intersections of time and chance, a baleful red glow blazes in a bloody beam through the score, shooting like a lance through the cavern's mouth and onto the mountainside beyond. When this happens, small things, bits of demonic elements and vitriolic little masses of the Demon World's essence leak through eddying about the cavern invisibly on the hot currents of air that blow through the gap, and give the cavern a distinctly alien feel and a latent atmosphere of menace. Go to Comment
The Warlord Octavius first discovered his door during his younger, adventurous days. It now forms the surface of the upper floor of his tower, from which he unleashes his bandit hordes.
The stone is far stronger than what it should be, and holds up the strain of the walls & roof quite well. However, it is still very heavy, and those mercenary bandits that live within the floor beneath it worry about the supports collapsing down upon them. If only they knew that not all of the creaking & soft moans late at night were from material stress alone...
For the past few years, Warlord Octavius has had vivid nightmares about riding a cresting wave of Demons, surging out from his tower. He considers this only to be inspired by his unique decorative floor of his throne room & personal chambers, and caused by too much spicy food before bed-time. However, unbeknownst to him, most of the other inhabitants have also been having these same nightmares for the past few months.
Though he is a capable and charismatic leader, not all of the new additions to Warlord Octavius's army may be the result of his leadership and fame. Lately, the numbers have swelled, with ever more vile and depraved rogues.
Just last week, Warlord Octavius noticed a scaly rash on the backs of his shoulders. This he associates to the increasingly crowded tower, and increasingly dirty new troops, bringing in new diseases and vermin. He also considers the pain in his shoulders to be either an early sign of age, or difficulty sleeping properly because of the rash.
Are these signs innocent, as the Warlord and his men are not? Do they bode ill for the surrounding countryside? What if the rash spreads, becoming true armoured scales, or even sprouts wings... as they did in Octavius's most recent dream? What happens when the other bandits also start exhibiting signs that their close proximity to a gateway to Hell is affecting them physically?
Perhaps death and destruction will be unleashed from the door afterall, but perhaps not in the way Caedmon originally envisioned. Go to Comment
The Lost Temple
Set beneath a crumbling ruin of a temple to Aduivo, the quiet halls of a forgotten temple rest undisturbed. Cobwebs and dust are it's only inhabitants for the last few centuries. The temple above having long ago been built and crumbled into history in the open view to the stars, while beneath it, the preserved hallways of a diabolic temple continued on. Waiting.
The temple was originally built by Caedmon and his first few followers. Having long anticipated the creation of the Demon Gates, the prepared a special place for them to rest. Deep below, a raging storm of energy constantly battled as the worlds life blood flowed freely, warming the temple unaturally. While above, the suns and the moon shone down on the earth where the temple rested, in full view of Caedmon, ever watchful.
It was simple, the temple was. A chamber for a priest and followers with a room set aside for holding slaves for sacrifice. The temple had a singular purpose, the opening of the Demon Gate. But due to the War of the Gods, Caedmon fell and was not able to see his vision through with the opening of the gates. And that is where they sit today, devoid of life, waiting to be found, waiting to be opened. Go to Comment
The Demon Gates
A set of double doors block the hallway. A large relief sits in the middle of the doors barring passage. The doors are a silvery metal that seem to reflect any light as would a large mirror. Runes inscribed into the door confound the eye as if they move on their own.
The doors radiate warmth but are cold to the touch, and while they are not locked only someone knowing the ancient script of the Demons can decipher the runic script to open the door.
The room inside is a mental nightmare that will haunt the dreams of even the most stout of mind. A cold wind blows in the hot room, flickering torches to life. No direction can be determined from where it comes from however.
The floor is black stone polished to a near mirror shine with three two foot steps leading up to the main dias. The room is also noticably devoid of dust, dirt, or spider webs. As if the room has been taken care of through the centuries.
The steps lead to a central dias where a five foot long block of obsidian rests, the top having a slight curvature that holds the body of those to be sacrificed. behind the alter is a most terrible sight.
Two huge double doors take up the entire west wall of the room. They are carved with images of a mass of horrific beings pouring forth from a gaping maw of some unknown caricature to lay waste to defeated mortals whose sculpted expressions plead for aid and mercy. At the head of the tide there is a single being who stands above the roaring army of demons, cloaked in a deep-hooded cape, with a smiling mask. The whole is made from some sort of dark, slick stone that appears oily or wet in the lights, yet rough and dry to the touch.
The same runic script on the main doors also line these huge doors, detailing the glory of Caedmon and the mass he brings to the unworthy and supposed righteous. The single key made for each gate, enters into the gaping maw and opens wide to show a wall of fire and nightmare.
The best version of this very thing I saw in a movie.
In the Mouth of Madness
A strange pulp horror movie that told tales of H.P. Lovecraft from the start. What made the movie all the better, you never saw any of the monsters coming from the bad place. You say glimpses of them, like form the corner of your eye but that is it. That is how you do a horror story. Tell them everything up to the point where imagination takes over. Our own imagination is far worse then what someone else could come up with. Go to Comment
In a similar vein, almost exactly the same in fact, I have read a children's novel that had something of this nature within it. 'twas a Christan novelization of a passage in Revelations about the Bottomless Pit, and the story was quite good.
It started off with a door being found, and then a rumor was heard of a family that since time forgotten were guardians of a key that could open The Door. No-one knew where the Door was, so the family was dismissed as nutcases. The main characters, however, made the connection. As did the MBG (Main Bad Guy), who promptly stole the key, then took it to the Door and was driven insane by unlocking it. The climax of the story was where the main characters had to push the Door closed and lock it, while demons on the other side pushed against it to try and break loose.
Very action filled, very scary. That is how these Gates should be used and portrayed. The thought of what might get out should scare the living crap out of the PCs, and make them try to keep it closed at all costs. *cue heroic actions of a player sacrificing himself to lock the door from the inside or something* Go to Comment
The gate of forlorn hopes description made me build the start of a campaign around it. The beam that shoots from the caverns mouth like a lance or a lighthouses beam sweeps over an unsuspecting mountain town on the adjacent mountain at midnight each night anyone exposed to the beam undergoes drastic changes akin to demonic possession / transformation. From the towns point of view there are missing person reports and violence from these "outsiders" (everyone caught outside at midnight is changed so speculation runs rampant) this is the pitch that draws the party from the capitol out to the mountain to investigate where as they encounter "demons" and "save" the villagers , until the dead villagers revert form back to the innocents they were meant to save. upon entering the cavern I use a paraphrased description of the door and tell of the faint glow from the hole. If and when the party decides to peek through the gate my campaign begins with them being pulled into hell itself. Go to Comment
hmmm, actually scratch that , the exposure needs to be cumulative , keep the midnight part for cliché purposes. The villagers speak of a midnight moon that shines bright red illuminating the entirety of the town. It is said that if you tend to you crops at such times they grow far faster as if coaxed to growth. (the moon descends behind the mountain at midnight and then the beam happens) not without dangers - que speech of missing persons and violent attacks that tend to coincide with strange occurrence. (the farmers are the first affected) ~ I got a week to polish it up my point is thank you for the idea the gates are a good one and I may add more to the world setting if I make up an original one ill come back and add it. Go to Comment
I would probably foreshadow this event with them meeting the young thief before hand, perhaps the last time they were in the city. Circumstances can be based on the group, but what ever it is I would hope that the players might owe the thief something... thus getting involved.
If they don't get involved, they can perhaps later see the young thief (bound appropriately) in the company of The Invaders. The appropriate 1+1 will be added together and the missed encounter will become foreshadowing of events to come.
I personally would have my adventurers staying in a tall building and having one late night event occur (like someone's bed breaks a leg... possibly under the weight of two people in it)... casually looking out the window will see the invading force heading here or marching toward the keep(torches or what ever). If that seems contrived, maybe it is... but history (and action fiction)is filled with quirky events like this.
My only comment would of been to take the NPCs for the adventure and either posting them on the first page OR putting them in the minor NPC thread in the forum, then link them back. That way you might still use these NPCs in other situations before this one... creating versimilitude through the "small world effect". Go to Comment
Point taken... fixed and altered to add more of a moral issue.
I had assumed to throw in a seemingly pointless encounter in a city market that the players could react to or not. Obviously if they do not they may be forced into the situation if they do not leave the city. However, they will not know that unless they get involved. If they do get involved they could potentially stop the murder of the Baron and help in stopping the assault, or simply leave and let the city to it's own devices. Obviously there is a moral issue at stake.
This is one of those encounters that seems small and unimportant but can boil into a few nights of adventure or a whole campaign twist. Go to Comment
I have actually begun this in my game this past Saturday, the beginning of the plot where the introductions have been made and friendships are being established. They fell for it fairly easily and with all the rumors floating around at the taverns it should be rather easy to throw down a fight in the street with at least half the PC's getting involved. Sort of a requirement on one players part and a backup buddy system on the others. Go to Comment