Coinlake sits perched between two sheer cliffs in the Stigrani range, and is difficult to find, much less approach. Four miles long and two across, the water is a vibrant cyan blue. The lake's shoreline is an unassuming beach of gray pebbles, and its mean depth is seventy feet. The rare times when the sun makes its way between the cliffs and shines over the the still water, one could see clearly the lake's rock-strewn bottom.
Strangely, no fish or aquatic life can be found here.
At night, a peculiar phenomena occurs. When the night sky is clear, the moon and stars are reflected in the lake's surface, but if one were to look at the surface from a high vantage point, the reflection does not match the firmament above!
Instead the water's surface reflects the night sky of some other distant world and seventeen shining golden moons besides, each ones shimmering upon the water like so many gold coins!
Legends whisper that Coinlake is not a lake at all, but a gate or nexus, to some distant alien world.
The mystery has long remained unsolved, and only recently has the Arch-Duke commissioned an expedition to uncover the secret of Coinlake once and for all. Among the team members are several scholars of the Nascent Academy, an astrologer from the Occultists Guild, and of course the PCs, acting as body guards.
Saril had a dream. To open a library in the windswept wastes of Naarish, so that the people of the many villages and towns spread over the hundreds of leagues of desert could discover the joys of his books. For a whole year he kept his library open, but alas, almost no one came.
That is when Saril came up with his new idea. If people didn't travel to read his books, he would travel to them! Saril closed his library, hired a team of twelve camels, loaded up the beasts with all of his books and proceeded to invent the first nomadic library.
Now children and adults alike, looked forward to hearing the bells of Saril's camels as he entered their villages, as he tirelessly traversed the deserts in a long circuitous route, visiting every village and town he came across, in turn. It came to pas that Saril's traveling library came to some fame, and that is how the folk of Naarish became literate.
A word of warning though. Naarish has only six thousand volumes. He deals with those that lose or steal his tomes quite "harshly", by bypassing the town or village which was responsible for losing one of his books for that calendar year.
One of the camels in the caravan trips over a dark rock protruding from the sandy dunes. The poor animal has broken its leg and cannot continue. A cacaphony ensues as the animal suffers and the caravan train overseers complain passionately as they redistribute the animal's load across the caravan. (Let's just hope none of the PC's was riding this camel, shall we?)
As the camel is put out of its misery and the camel is skewered over a campfire - waste nothing! - someone takes a minute to inspect the root cause of all the trouble. To their surprise, the upturned rock is worked stone. Some frantic digging may excavate the bottom half of a gorgeously worked1 obelisk, and maybe even the small square forum below; but a more rigorous exploration of the surrounding dunes reveals a buried tomb doorway on each side of the forum.
The PCs are making their way from village to village across a rural hinterland, when they spot a weird sign along a farmstead's fence, with an arrow pointing to the actual farmstead.
"CRAZY DANCING HOES!!"
If they investigate, a rather sedate local farmer, explains to them that for a mere two coppers, they can witness the show for themselves.
The show involves six ordinary, animated hoes "dancing" on a makeshift stage, as the farmer accompanies them by slapping his thighs to keep the beat, and playing on his flute.
If asked how the trick is accomplished the farmer demurs, not wanting to share his "secret".
"If you can get Old Man Purkiss to tell you how he gets his cows to spout poetry, I'll tell you how I make my hoes dance."
In reality, this minor encounter can lead to the PCs discovering that some localized, magical effect is active in the area. All kinds weird phenomena seem to occur in these parts.
Perhaps the PCs have finally found the ley-line of mana energy that they have been searching for! The party's wizard gets excited.
The PCs are hired by undead to rid their village community of an invasive necromancer.
As the PCs make their way, wherever they are going, they spot two zombies. The zombies approach but before the cleric can turn them, one starts throwing coins at the PCs while the other pleads with them, unable to pronounce the letters "L" and "H" due to some missing gums. "Peeth issen...no 'arm...coin...peeth issen!"
If the PCs don't slaughter the two zombies immediately, they will eventually come to learn that the two were chosen to find help by their brethren. The zombies want to hire the PCs to rid their community of an unwanted pest. An opportunistic necromancer.
Apparently, a small benign community of undead have taken residence in an abandoned village, living out their undeath as peacefully as the undead can. Recently, a malicious necromancer has invaded the village, and plans to enslave the entire populace with his malignant spells, raising a small army.
The PCs must battle the vile necromancer, even as he animates the very folks who hired the PCs in the first place, to slaughter them.
The PCs are exploring the catacombs beneath a Colosseum-in-Rome type of structure, when they come across a foul-smelling, stagnant, ankle-deep with algae, public mass latrine. Countless urinals of marble, line this rather large chamber equally crafted of marble. Whatever system of plumbing once worked here, has not in many years. Old graffiti lines the stained,dirty walls, prominently bolded are such intellectual poetic musings as, "Urine For It Now", "I Pee Therefore It Comes" and "Now Urine Trouble".
A few moments after the PCs get to take in this unpleasant location, they hear the low rumbling of ancient plumbing and rather large Urine Elemental rises like a great, wet, wave of filth to attack them. The creature reeks and exudes noxious debilitating fumes, while its liquid strikes burn flesh like acid.
He's a non-descript man, with his pushcart. On it he sells nothing more exotic than jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil and pickled vegetables. But he's always out there, in the courtyard of the great Guild of Wizards, in most weathers, and he'll have a kind word for you, and a jar.
The size of a hippo, fast as a Pegasus, ferocious as a wolverine ,but man do the prime ribs off of it taste FANTASTIC
Sages and naturalists frown at the common name given to these strange creatures by the small folk, but sometimes the silliest nicknames for creatures, places and people persevere in the minds of many. “Purifiers”, “Pond Jellies”, “Breath-Stealers”, “Lung-Ticklers” and “River Butterflies” are much less commonly heard appellations for these life forms. Wet Faeries are basically (and simply) a species of fist-sized, fresh-water jellyfish. Several traits steer them toward the peculiar category however. Firstly, Wet Faeries are nearly invisible in the water, much like their marine cousins but even more so. One can swim in a river swarming with these critters and not even notice their presence. Secondly, they possess the unique ability to clean and purify whatever body of water they inhabit. They do this via some sort of biological filtration process, sucking in all toxins present in the water, and releasing it back in its purest form. Needless to say, they are both a blessing and a curse to whichever folk dwell beside the rivers and lakes Wet Faeries inhabit. On one hand, no purer water can be found anywhere than a Wet Faerie lake or pond, and yet, in “pure” water “life” tends in fact to die out, lacking the needed nutrients to prosper. Thirdly, their “sting” is (unfortunately) virulently poisonous to all mammalians. Wet Faeries are loathe to sting anyone or anything, using their barbed fronds as a last line of defense, but if stung, most swimmers will suffer respiratory arrest, and die within minutes, usually drowning before they can make it back to shore.
Alchemists, druids, and less savory characters have studied these creatures over the years, and have predictably found all the ways Wet Faeries could be exploited. Morbidly humorous, some bards find it, that the Poisoners and Assassins Guilds as well as the Healer’s Union, all prize these creatures. The assassins use the extracted venom in obvious fashion, while the priests and healers use the still-living jelly-fish to sterilize other poison potions and to cure those already poisoned on death’s door.
It is known that a certain Earl Von Trumble keeps his vast castle moat stocked with Wet Faeries, the waters so clear that every bone of every one of his past enemies can be clearly seen on the bottom, twenty two feet below.
While walking through the mountains, emerging from several small crevasse near you and begin attacking the party member with the most exposed skin. The Beez are creatures the size of a fist, with minimal stats but high agility. There is ten or more beez. Their sting causes a immediate loss of hitpoints.
These rare, fist-sized spiders do not make webs, but rather excrete secretions which harden upon contact with air. These "droppings" resemble barley-sized spider eggs, or even lustrous pearls, once the slime coating them, dries up. In fact, dried Pearl Spider "drops" are indistinguishable from the marine varieties produced by mollusks, and hence of identical value on the open market!
Several centuries ago, they were studied by naturalists, and several observations were made. Firstly, was that these spiders "lay" these pearls for no apparent or discernible "natural" reason, and secondly, the naturalists had discovered that the more these spiders ate or were fed--and they were true omnivores--the larger the spider pearls came out.
A cottage industry began. Enterprising merchants hunted and collected these creatures across the lands, erecting spider-farms for the manufacture of Spider Pearls. It wasn't long before someone got the idea to force-feed the spiders, ala foie gras geese, and soon, the fattened spiders began pooping out pearls of great size! (relatively speaking). The regular pearl market came to disarray, and prices and value fluctuated wildly.
[b]Plothook[/b] The Mermen Mercantile Alliance hires the party to eradicate all terrestrial Pearl Spider Farms!
Just off the road a man lies dead, pierced through the heart from behind by an expertly thrown and ornate dagger which remains in the body. A long strip of cloth torn from the man's shirt has been tied around his neck; on the tag end an unknown hand has written a cryptic inscription: "For Djaygo."
When you get to the next town, everyone is talking about a mercenary woman found slain in exactly the same fashion in her room at the inn where she was staying.
You receive a vision of a rooftop "somewhere close by", where a rare moss grows; in the vision, you know the moss is suitable for greatly enhancing the effects of certain types of potions. Now go and find that rooftop. Don't fall off. (Of course, rooftop runners *will* be taken for miscreants by the local City Watch....)
Among the assortment of organized criminals who live in the great city, few command greater fear the Moonbeard Order.
They of course do not call themselves that, but have earned the moniker from their fashion of dying their large beards with lye to produce a distinctive crescent shape running from earlobe to earlobe. This is meant as a taunt for their enemies, for it clearly outlines their throats.
They also wear garb similar to the northern tribesman, carefully tooled leather and showing multiple, colourful glyphs.
They are feared due to the intense discipline that their group maintains, due to their origins as a warrior-sect.
They serve as paid thugs, enforcers and assassins within the city, with the client simply ordering a service from the organization, not hiring an individual. Apart from making the request and providing payment in full in advance, the order completes the assignment themselves.
Their order has many moles through the organizations of the city, and more than a couple of nobles. As such, no organized move has been made against them since their chief activity is directed against other members of the crime world. It is said that their services have been useful for those in power as well, further protecting them from persecution.
Their religion holds that their time in this world is vanishingly brief, and largely unimportant except as training for the Great Battle.
The order is very utilitarian with weapons choice - they simply use the tool needed for the occasion, though not without having trained extensively with it beforehand. Daggers, garrottes, swords, bows, battle axes, polearms, wagons, even siege engines have been used to carry out their contracts.
Once every decade on the eve of St. Poskov's Day during mid-winter, the coastal city of Tiyabon experiences a horrific event. Quool's Tide rolls in, depositing hundreds of bloated, fish-eaten corpses upon the pebbly shores of Tiyabon's wide bay. This singularity is to this day unexplained, though countless theories abound. It is said for example, that these corpses are not eaten by the myriad fish of the seas completely, due to the fear all creatures of the seas hold for Quool.
Named for Quool, a terrible, antediluvian god of seas and storms, who no longer exists for he has no worshipers, the Tide chokes the beaches and surf with the countless rotting bodies of those who had perished at sea in a violent way.
Almost immediately, the lifeless corpses are fed upon by crabs, gulls, and worse things that await the horrid feast. The townsfolk let nature take it course with disinterested disgust, though lately some enterprising adventurers have taken to searching along the beaches of flesh for former deceased companions, with intentions of raising them again!
Surprisingly no undead ever rise from among the many corpses. This is also a mystery.
You pass through a woodland with a floor that seems remarkably clean of debris. Suddenly your attention is drawn to a twisted bit of wood by the trail side, a short broken twig with several stubs of branches along its length and most of the bark missing. When you reach it, the twig blurs and turns into a small brown lizard, caught in the middle of its body-twisting run. The little reptile darts away down the trail with impossible speed, no doubt magically enhanced, and is lost to sight in a moment. Now someone knows you are coming...
Molk Peruda is encountered by the PCs on the second day of their journey west from the salt-choked port of Quyn, as they prepare to explore the jungle.
He appears a gaunt, wolfish man, with matted, dark hair that sprouts from his head in dreadlocks, contrasting with his well-oiled, blue-black, conical beard. His eyes are hidden ebon shards beneath thick arching brows, his nose, crooked, long, and reminiscent of a snout. His mouth is a thin, dark line, his teeth unseen even when he parts his lips to speak.
His skin is the color of tallow, surprising perhaps for a renowned jungle guide, yet his natural helm of dreads and the jungle's canopy keeps the sun from bronzing his originally pale flesh. On his back are tattooed three women from the waist up, side-by-side, each resembling the other but of different ages. This is a tattoo of Molk's mother, sister, and daughter. His wife (don't bring her up to him!) was killed by marauding Qullan years ago, and appears as her own tattoo on his broad but sunken chest.
His feet shockingly are turned around 180 degrees at the ankle, facing towards his back! A curse from a pernicious shaman. Molk walks feet backwards (he's used to it) and walks backwards, forwards. This can be very disconcerting and outright creepy to the PCs as he guides them through the rainforest.
Slung from his back is an archer's quarrel of treated wood carved to resemble a stalking leopard, in his hand a re-curved composite bow of horn and sinew, with a pair of vivid, red eyes, each one painted on the opposite side of the hand-grip. In a leather sheath at his belt, hangs a falchion, its pommel adorned with a curved bird's head and beak.
An army and navy who work in the same way as others except their rank titles are upside-down. So people start as full generals and those with the rank of private command armies.
A wild species, vinus homophagus, more akin to sea-grape rather than the terrestrial variety, is not a monster despite its fanciful name. The grapes, a deep purple color when in bloom, and oozing dewdrops of perspiration, like the most prized and delectable of drinking wine grapes, do however deserve their moniker. Wine made from this fruit, is deadly to most humanoids, as is the raw berry, if plucked and eaten from the vine. It is the unnatural chemical concoction found within the fruit’s tart skin, which gives the man-eating grape its name. The chemical stew found inside each berry, functions as a necrotic agent, the same as found in some species of venomous snakes. The grapes literally eat the victim from the inside out, via cell death, dissolving organs and flesh in quick succession.
The tribes of Pra-Oohk Crater, from the jungles of Ghlush are known to sell the fermented “wine” of this grape to merchants of distant lands. Sadly, the taste of the concoction is divine when first quaffed, and even worse, the man-eating grape wine will never detect as poisonous via mundane means, its horrid natures somehow masking all attempts. Luckily the man-eating grapes are extremely rare, and endemic to humid jungles.
A massive iron key - 2’ length, 20 lbs forged with demonic faces from the bones and horns of demon-lords. When used with a massive portal - carefully built according to documents found in powerful books of evil knowledge, it will open into the realm of demons and allow them to flood into the world. The applications of this item for villains are obvious. Mortals touching this item are subject to [Effects_of_Touching_Powerful_Evil_Artifacts]