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February 11, 2015, 8:35 am

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Spring of Enlightenment


Some legends are history, some are mere stories, and some have a basis in fact. This may not be quite what it seems.


Ancient orc legends tell of a magical spring that can bestow the power of reason on any creature who swims in it. There are many tales of talking animals and primitives with orc intelligence levels associated with this spring. Most of them originate in the eastern foothills of the Black Mountains (somewhere near the source of the Talith River).

Clarissa Farley is a human sage researching the ancient orcish legends. The legend of the Spring of Enlightenment is something of a recurring theme (being variously described as the sources of all knowledge or gift of the gods to orc kind). One of Clarissa’s dearest wishes is to visit this spring (if it exists) to test the legends out (and maybe benefit as will).

Clarissa Farley - human female - sage/historian - minor magical ability (can cast a few minor cantrips)

Clarissa is rather clumsy with weapons and her combat skills are quite simply abysmal. She is also quite likely to panic at just the wrong moment and has an uncanny knack for placing herself at the point of greatest peril.

For the GM

Most legends have some basis in fact (however tenuous) and this one is no exception. The Spring of Enlightenment does not actually exist, it is simple a legend. However, the story persists due to a curious evolutionary coincidence.

Around the headwaters of the Talith river is a long forgotten valley. This valley is home to a large neanderthal tribe (around 2000 in all) who have evolved to a considerable higher level than most other neanderthals. They call themselves the C’Sson (which means "the People of the Sun"). These are the source of all the tales about intelligent primitives. The stories of talking animals are simply false.

They have an advanced language which is related to (but not the same as) the ancient orcish tongue. There is also a written form of this language. Anybody who can speak ancient orcish can communicate with them, but with some difficulty.

They have long since abandoned the hunter/gatherer lifestyle in favour of settled farming and fishing communities.

They have an early Bronze Age technology. They make a number of tools and weapons from bronze but still make some things from stone (it’s a better material for some jobs).

They have also developed all the trappings of civilisation (a complex mythology, an organised religion, an established governmental, codified laws, etc).

{{Note to GM: Although perfectly capable of understanding and using complex or intricate technology if available, and adapting to advanced cultures, neanderthals rarely advance beyond a Stone Age hunter/gatherer society on their own. The C’Sson are therefore somewhat unique in that they have achieved all this, apparently with little or no external influences.}}

The valley was lost to the outside world about 900 years ago - about 100 years after the map was drawn (see below) when an earthquake buried the entrance under a wall of rock. This event is remembered in C’Sson mythology as "the day of gods anger".

As well as blocking of the valley, this forced the river to find another course. It now collects in a large lake at the southern end of the valley then runs underground for several miles before emerging from a low bluff deep in the forest.

The only way into the lost valley is through a cave formation that cuts through the rock wall.

Where the PCs come in

Clarissa Farley has recently obtained an old map that claims to show the location of the Spring of Enlightenment. The place names, labels, and descriptions are all written in ancient orcish. Since Clarissa is one of the few sages (either human or orc) who can understand this language, only she can read them.

The map is real. It was drawn about 1000 years ago by an orc adventurer who genuinely believed he had found the legendary Spring of Enlightenment. It leads to the neanderthal’s valley (see above).

Clarissa is looking for a group of adventurers to take her to the spring. However, although by no means impoverished, she cannot afford to pay much more than standard rates for a wilderness guide. If the PCs think this is a little low (and it is since the headwaters of the Talith river are wild and mostly unmapped), she points out that they are seeking a magical spring and that the PCs will be able to benefit from its’ waters.

She thinks that the best plan would be to hire a riverboat to take them up river, she is prepared to pay a reasonable amount for this. She will leave the details up to the PCs (they are the experts in such matters).

Boats for Hire

Only canoes are able to get all the way to the headwaters of the Talith river, although larger boats can navigate the deeper waters at the lower end.

Canoes are light and fast but can only carry a few people - up to six, but that allows no room for cargo (kit, supplies, etc) so two or three may be required. They are also unstable if attacked and can be easily overturned. They can be hired quite cheaply but have no crew (PCs must paddle their own canoes).

Riverboats are much larger and sturdier affairs. They are equipped with both oars and a lateen sail. They are slower and less manoeuvrable than canoes but much more difficult to overturn. Size and capacity varies considerably (10-15 people plus gear is about right). However they are considerably more expensive to hire (about ten times the price of a canoe).

It is also possible to hire a boatman to act as a river guide. If asked the boatmen will recommend this course (well they would wouldn’t they).

Boatman - normal human - good boat handling and river lore, average combat skills

The Journey Upriver

The Talith river is a long meandering waterway running north-east from the coast all the way to the Black Mountains, deep inside the territory of the Black Hand orc tribe.

The lower stretches of the river are well travelled and well patrolled by both human and orc river patrols units.

The upper reaches, which cut deep into the Black Mountains, are little travelled. The river here cuts through virgin forest, diverting into a maze of side channels and tributaries, until it reaches the foothills of the Black Mountains.

The larger riverboats may be used up until the foothills but can go no further. Only the more manoeuvrable canoes can navigate the waters beyond this point, and even then there are places where they must be carried past rapids or over waterfalls.

Fort Banning

Fort Banning stands on the southern bank of the Talith river less than half a mile inside the border. Built in more troubled times it was originally intended as a border defence fort between Kingdom territory and the Black Hand orc lands, and it is still the main garrison town on the eastern border.

In later days, once a lasting peace was established between the Kingdom and the Black Hand tribe, its’ location so close to the border and command of the Talith river traffic made it the idea place for less hostile interaction. As a result it is now the favoured meeting point for both Kingdom and Black Hand merchants and stopover point for trading craft of all types.

The Black Hand tribe maintains a permanent consular office here, run by a minor orc noble called Gromek, and it is here that Clarissa must go to apply for an exploration visa from the Black Hand authorities. The PCs must also apply here for temporary mercenary licences to allow them to legally act as her escort through tribal lands.

The orc river patrols inspect these with almost irritating frequency - the party can expect to be asked to produce their papers at least once a day while in Black Hand territory. As long as the passes are in order, the orc patrolmen will be polite and (on the whole) no more corrupt than soldiers and patrolmen in the Kingdom.

Gromek gaMorak - orc male - Black Hand consul

Gromek appears to be an honest, if somewhat unimaginative, government official. This however is just a front since he is, in fact, one of the most corrupt people in Fort Banning (and that’s saying something).

The licenses, visas, and passes the party must obtain are in reality merely a formality, however Gromek will tie the whole thing up in so much red tape that the expedition could stall right here. What he is waiting for of course is for somebody to offer him an "administration fee", after which all the supposed problems will magically disappear.

Clarissa, being somewhat naive in these matters, will simply not think of offering him money, but will instead spend the entire stay bemoaning the "demons of bureaucracy".

The Pool

The river ends in a deep pool fed by an underground river. However, the map indicates that this is not the spring of enlightenment, that lies about 20 miles upstream (and there should be a waterfall). The party will have to get out and walk.

The area is mountainous, heavily forested and completely untamed. The PCs will simply have to hack their way through. Given the nature of the terrain this could take days.

The problem is compounded by the fact that they don’t really know what they are looking for. The map doesn’t show this feature (the land has changed considerably in 1000 years). The party is unlikely to find the lost valley without some outside help.

The Local Residents

The pool and surrounding area is home to a tribe of neanderthals (about 15-20 adults plus an equal number of children). This tribe is highly suspicious of strangers, as they are often the victims of orc slave raids.

As soon as the party arrives the neanderthals will know about them. A group of hunters (1 per party member) will track the party through the forest. They are excellent woodsmen so they can remain almost invisible in the forest. The only clue the PCs have is the occasional rustle in the undergrowth. {{Note to GM: Mention this constantly, allow the paranoia to build up before revealing the source.}}

If the hunters are discovered, they will simply melt into the forest. In the unlikely event that the PCs are able to track them they will lure the PCs to a large pit-trap just outside their village. They will then attack any PCs who avoid this, making as much noise as possible to attract the rest of the tribe. {{Note to GM: The intention here is to capture the PCs in order to question them (the chief wants to know the PCs’ intentions and if more of them are about).}}

Neanderthals - excellent stealth and tracking skills - average combat skills - spear, club, sling, knife

Orc Slave Raid

Soon after the PCs leave the canoes (1 or 2 days is about right) a band of orc slave raiders arrives in the area. They attack, and try to capture, the neanderthals trailing the party. The first the PCs know of this is the sounds of battle in the forest close by. If the PCs follow the sound they find the neanderthals (see above) in a fight with the orc slavers (one for each neanderthal).

Orlec gaSkaith - orc leader - good combat skills - moderate magical ability (domination/enslavement spells) - leathers, crossbow, scimitar, club, net

Orc Slavers - good combat skills - leathers, crossbow, scimitar, club, net

The orcs are fighting with club and net. They are trying to knock the neanderthals out or trap them in the nets. So far they have captured two of the neanderthals.

The PCs may intervene or not as they see fit. They can pick whichever side they like.

If the PCs do not intervene: The neanderthals will retreat after half of them are captured. The captives will be roped together and led away. The PCs will again be shadowed (as above).

If the PCs help the orcs: Proceed as above but all of the neanderthals are captured (less any the PCs kill). Orlec, the leader of the orc slavers, recognises their help and offers them the hospitality of his camp. If the PCs accept his offer and return to the camp they find another dozen captives (taken from several of the surrounding tribes) and 2 more guards. The slavers are about ready to go home.

The orcs have been coming to this area for several years (on and off). The only primitives they claim to have found are perfectly normal neanderthals (this is true, they have never found the lost valley). They do not know the location of the Spring of Enlightenment and believe it is no more than a fairy tale anyway.

If, after learning the reason for the raid, the PCs attack the slavers or free their captives, the neanderthals will still not trust them. After being freed they will simply disappear into the forest and the PCs will again be shadowed (as above).

If the PCs help the neanderthals: The orcs will switch to scimitars to defend themselves but it is clear they will be quickly defeated (they are now outnumbered). Therefore they will attempt to withdraw if allowed, taking their two captives with them if at all possible.

After the battle the neanderthals will be less suspicious of the PCs. They will try to take the PCs to their village and presented to the chief. There is one big problem here - nobody speaks the neanderthals’ tribal language. The neanderthals will try to convey their message with gestures (GM should role-play this).

If the PCs decline, the neanderthals will let them go and again shadow them (as above but they will be more obvious). They will also send a messenger back to their village. About an hour later Kahrn, the neanderthal chief (who knows a smattering of orcish), will arrive to parley with the PCs.

Chief Kahrn - excellent stealth and tracking skills - very good combat skills - spear, bronze dagger, sling, knife

The bronze dagger is something of a badge of office. The neanderthals call it "the Claw of the Gods". It was given to one of his ancestors by a C’Sson warrior many generations ago but they have long since forgotten the reason. Tribal legend says that it was a gift from "the Shining One" (a reference to the warrior’s bronze armour). They do not know anything else.

The Neanderthal Village

The village is a semi-permanent collection of light shelters made from sticks, grass and leaves. These are clustered around a central clearing in which a few cooking fires are burning.

One of the females has some skill in the art healing and has thus acquired some status within the tribe. If the PCs are on friendly terms with Chief Kahrn she will heal any wounds they have.

Bahz - neanderthal female - healer/wise woman - good healing skills, some herbalism skill, minor magical skill (healing powers) - flint knife, healing potions

Bahz knows how to brew a primitive healing potion from jungle plants and roots. She always carries some of this around with her. It works but not as effectively as a standard potion (it’s really more of an herbal brew than a magical potion). She will give the PCs some of these (1 for each of them) of Chief Kahrn orders her to, which he will do if they helped defeat the orcs otherwise this is extremely unlikely.

The neanderthals know the location of a cave entrance, which leads to the C’Sson valley (although they don’t know this). The Shining One went there after gifting the tribe with the Claw of the Gods but he never returned. The caves are taboo and the neanderthals never go there since they believe that a great evil lurks inside - something powerful enough to destroy the Shining One.

{{Note to GM: There isn’t actually anything in the caves, the "great evil" is simply a neanderthal horror story (something akin to the boogie-man). Play this up anyway - the neanderthals are genuinely terrified of this thing. Under no circumstances will they enter the caves, or even approach the entrance, furthermore they are somewhat reluctant to even talk about it. They will however direct the PCs to the place if asked.}}

First Contact

The caves open into the southern end of an enclosed valley. A river meanders down its whole length, fed by a waterfall at the northern end (this is the waterfall mentioned on the map) and empties into a deep lake at the southern end.

About half a mile from the PCs location a young C’Sson girl is tending a flock of mountain goats. There is nothing to indicate that she is anything other than a normal neanderthal although intelligent players may question the pastoral scene (neanderthals just don’t do that).

Pellig - neanderthal female, age 14 - goatherd - virtually no combat skills

Pellig carries a shepherds crook, a sling (for scaring off wolves), a horn (so she can call for aid if needed), and a bronze knife. The knife is her only metal possession and she is very proud of it (it was a birthday present from her father). Its nature will not be immediately apparent because it is inside a leather sheath.

If the PCs approach Pellig openly: She is reasonably friendly. She does not expect the party to attack her (there are laws about that sort of thing) and she is curious about them (she’s never seen anything like them before).

This encounter must be handled with extreme care. Whatever happens here will eventually be reported to the tribal authorities. Note that there is a language barrier here - the C’Sson language is similar to (but not the same as) ancient orcish. Therefore only Clarissa can understand Pellig and then only with difficulty.

Initially there will be a certain amount of confusion over the language barrier, but eventually Pellig and Clarissa will realise they can sort of talk to each other.

Filled with the adventurism of youth, Pellig has long hoped for something more interesting in life than tending to her fathers’ flocks. As soon as she realises that the PCs are not from the valley (which she will do quite quickly) she will invite them back her home to meet her family.

If the PCs agree she will introduce them to Bruggh, her father. Bruggh is a practical but unimaginative man interested in his farm and little else. To his mind the appearance of strangers is a matter for the priest-kings and he will suggest as much. Nonetheless, determined that his visitors will not find him inhospitable, he offers them a little mead and gives them directions to the nearest village.

Meanwhile Pellig, always the adventurous type, will somehow contrive to convince the party (that is Clarissa) that they need a guide and that she is the ideal candidate. Furthermore, unless the PCs make a point of objecting she will assume she has their agreement and, from that point on, the PCs be quite unable to get rid of her by any means short of murder. Bruggh will get little say in the matter since, according to C’Sson tradition, a person is considered adult at the age of 14.

Pellig, as it turns out, is one of those particularly annoying kids whose one notable skill appears to be incessantly asking the most awkward questions they can think of. However, this is actually something of a blessing in disguise since it gives the PCs a chance to pick up the basics of the C’Sson language - this will serve them will later on. {{Note to GM: Adjudicate this as best fits the system you are using.}}

If the PCs attack Pellig: Pellig will try to run away (she’s no warrior), blowing a distress call on her horn. In the unlikely event that she makes it a unit of troopers intercepts the party about an hour later (1 trooper for each PC plus 1 sergeant). These are trained warriors who have come to arrest the intruders. If the party does not surrender they will attack.

C’Sson Troopers - combat skill very good to excellent - ringmail, short sword, bow

If, as is more likely, they PCs kill her she will be missed when she fails to return home that evening. A search will be made for her and her body quickly discovered (unless the PCs went to a lot of trouble to hide it). The resulting hue and cry will have every able-bodied man in the valley out looking for the murderers and the PCs (being obvious strangers) will be picked up and questioned. If they were also so greedy as to loot her body Pellig’s father will identify the shiny new bronze knife he gave her for her birthday.

{{Note to GM: Feel free to have the C’Sson take any retribution you see fit - up to and including the death penalty for Pellig’s murder.}}

The Priest-Kings

The PCs will eventually be brought before Varley, the local priest-king. The nature of this meeting will be largely determined by the PCs’ previous actions. If they have been hostile (if the attacked Pellig for instance) this will be in the nature of a trial, if not he will great them with hospitality and question them as to their business.

If the PCs mention the Spring of Enlightenment, Varley claims that he has never heard of it (this is true - no such thing is mentioned in C’Sson legends) but can think of no logical reason why such a thing should not exist. Furthermore he has no particular objection to the party looking for it, just so long as the break no laws in the process. This condition more or less requires them to employ a local guide (since the PCs do not know the C’Sson laws) and Pellig is once again eager to fill this role.

{{Note to GM: C’Sson laws are actually quite logical (or at least as logical as legal systems ever get). Assume the usual injunctions against the major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, etc) and a civil obligation on citizens to repair or replace any property that they damage, whether by accident or design. In addition, feel free to add in one or two bizarre rules that seem illogical or inconsistent (all established legal systems have a few of these).}}

Note that Varley is not an absolute ruler so his word is not strictly final. Neither is he the only priest-king, there are in fact several priest-kings (one for each of the main villages) who rule jointly as a kind of high council. These facts may not be immediately obvious to the PCs but no-one will think to mention it. However, as long as the PCs behave themselves and act in a basically civilised manner the other priest-kings will see no real problems and leave the matter as is.

Finding the Spring

If the PCs spend some time asking around about the Spring of Enlightenment then, unless they are very secretive about it they will eventually be contacted by a middle aged woman called Maza, accompanied by a middle aged man called Nyby.

Maza claims to be a priestess of Tia, the Goddess of Enlightenment, and the guardian of the Holy Spring of Enlightenment. She further states that the Goddess has, by means visions and dreams, indicated to her that the PCs are worthy of Her Holy Blessings and charged her to escort them (the PCs) to the Holy Spring. Nyby says little but, if questioned, claims to be captain of the temple guard, charged by holy duty to protect his priestess (Maza).

If the PCs doubt Maza’s claims (quite likely since these two are the first people who claim to have heard of the Spring of Enlightenment) she has a plausible answer ready for them. She claims that Tia’s is a secret mystery cult, known only to the Goddesses avowed worshippers or to those to whom She has given her Holy Blessing. If the PCs still doubt her she will back up her claim by demonstrating her "divine powers", which she simulates using her spell casting abilities.

Nyby - neanderthal male - good fighting skills - cuirass & helm, short sword

Maza - neanderthal female - moderate magical ability (light manipulation effects) - leather jack, dagger, sling

Nyby and Maza are, of course, not what they claim to be. In actual fact they are a pair of thieves out to steal the PCs’ gold, superior (i.e. steel) equipment, magical items (if they have any), and anything else they can get their hands on. They have never heard of the Spring of Enlightenment (hardy surprising since it doesn’t actually exist) but they have heard about the strangers asking after it.

Their cover story is actually quite convincing since the C’Sson pantheon does include a goddess called Tia who is considered the patron of light and wisdom (not quite the same title but reasonably close). There is however no mystery cult associated with her since C’Sson religion is more pantheistic in its nature, with all the gods worshipped simultaneously (although there are some people who believe that secret cults exist, regardless of the lack of any real evidence for this). If the PCs ask around they can quickly find this out.

{{Note to GM: Nyby and Maza are of course using false names (they’re not THAT stupid). Nyby is actually Malik, an ex-soldier with a dishonourable discharge and several counts of highway banditry to his name (and his back bares the whip marks to prove it). Maza is actually Pena, a moderately powered wizard and reasonably successful con artist; she is also Malik’s wife and the brains of the operation.}}


As soon as the PCs agree to go with them, Nyby and Maza lead them north towards the waterfall at the head of the valley. They inform the party that the journey will take 2-3 days and to come suitably equipped (this is so that nobody gets suspicious when they stop to make camp in the wilderness). They themselves come equipped for such a journey, in addition to their standard equipment (see above) both have packs, tents, and normal camping gear. In addition Nyby carries a buckler and bow and Maza wears a basinet and carries a staff.

On the first day out, around late afternoon, they make camp in a small forest clearing below the waterfall, claiming that everyone must be rested on the following day since they must climb to the top. They will allow everybody to relax, swapping tales and passing the mead around. They themselves will drink very little, although they will make a show of taking a swig from the wineskin as it comes around.

If the PCs want to set watches they will not object, although they won’t suggest this themselves. If the subject comes up Maza will offer to take the centre watch (around one in the morning) claiming that she must be awake to prey at that time anyway and Nyby will suggest he takes that watch too since his primary responsibility is to protect Maza. They will not object too strongly if one of the PCs wants to take that watch as well (that would be suspicious), but they will suggest that it is unnecessary (two on watch is probably enough).

The point of course is to have the PCs asleep (and ideally drunk) in their tents when the attack comes. In this case Nyby, Maza, and Co. will simply take anything they can (i.e. everything that isn’t nailed down) and depart into the night. The PCs won’t know anything about it until they wake up the next morning with nothing but a hangover and the cloths on their backs (or possible just the hangover). Well, that’s the plan anyway.

Of course it almost certainly won’t happen that way. Chances are that by now the PCs (most of whom are a little paranoid even at the best of times) now consider their guides are slightly less trustworthy than a shark in a feeding frenzy, and they’re going to be ready. Don’t be surprised if they all find excuses to be awake, and fully kited out, when the trouble starts. They will probably have set a few traps around the campsite as well (anything from jingly-jangly traps to full scale magical wards and all points in between). Nyby and Maza can, of course, do very little about all this (although they may be able to disarm some of the traps), which means there is going to be a fight (something they were hoping to avoid if possible).

Running the Fight

Around one in the morning Nyby’s gang attacks the camp, this is pre-planned and there is nothing Maza can do to stop it, regardless of any defences the PCs put in place.

There are three thugs for every two party members, including Clarissa and Pellig (if she is still around). However they are not particularly good (they’re really just street thugs and somewhat out of their depth here). They will try to flee if half their number are slain or otherwise defeated.

Don’t forget Clarissa’s combat ineptitude. She runs around in a blind panic, casting seemingly random spells (often without any discernible effect), tripping over things, and generally getting in everybody’s way, making her something of a wild card. {{Note to GM: You could use Clarissa as a way to steer the battle. If the PCs are winning she’s comic relief. If they are having trouble she could just happen to knock over one of the bad guys, or maybe even get one or two useful spells off.}}

Also Pellig (if she is there) will try to run away or hide, and not come back until after the fight. As a result there are, overall, three more thugs for the PCs to deal with since Clarissa is largely ineffective.

If possible, Nyby and Maza will try to stay out of combat, preferring to provide support with spells and missile fire. If it looks like the PCs are getting the upper hand they will flee into the night, leaving their minions to take the brunt of it (there is very little honour amongst thieves, especially if things are going badly). The thugs will try to flee as soon as they realise this has happened (suggest some form of perception check each round until they work it out).

Thugs - neanderthal male/female - average combat skill - leathers, melee weapon (sword, spear, axe, or mace), missile weapon (sling or thrown knife) - about 1 in 5 has a magical potion (GMs choice) which he/she will use if absolutely necessary

Wrapping Up

By now the PCs should have worked out that there is no Spring of Enlightenment, so what happens next is largely up to Clarissa Farley. There are three main options.

Going Home

Clarissa accepts there is no Spring of Enlightenment

Tie up any lose ends - everyone goes home - scenario over

Pushing On

Clarissa now thinks the Spring is further upstream, although there is of course no real evidence for this view. Furthermore the fact the C’Sson have no legends regarding such a place counts against it. However Clarissa is eager to try. To this end she will try and talk the PCs into going up beyond the waterfall in search of the source of the river.

Staying in the Valley

As Going Home except the Clarissa gets interested in the C’Sson. She can see a whole new career in comparative anthropology ahead of her and she wants to stay and study the C’Sson culture, religion, laws, magic - well everything really.

As a side plot to this, if Nyby and Maza got away the PCs might want to track them down, (even if only for the sake of their honour). They will likely have a price on their heads anyway, if not for their attack on the party then certainly for their other crimes. However the party will have to uncover their real identities first. If they managed to capture some of the thugs they might be able to get some information from them (depending on how careful the villains were when dealing with them).

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Comments ( 3 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Barbarian Horde
February 22, 2005, 22:35
This was really thought out Dragon Lord. The plot was a little questionable at first, but it turned out to be awsome! I am totally gonna use this 5/5.

Draoon God
Voted Scrasamax
May 31, 2006, 11:04
Excellent detailing, and the NPCs are well written without being tedious. I like the idea of an isolated bronze age culture, but in my own game I doubt that I would use neaderthals. Good work Dragon Lord.
Voted valadaar
October 17, 2006, 20:14
Interesting plot - a lot of work went into this one. Great job!

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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Pearl Spider Economics

       By: Murometz

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!

Encounter  ( Any ) | February 28, 2014 | View | UpVote 5xp

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