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September 10, 2008, 6:44 pm

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The Road


The Road… traverses Time—Time past, Time to come, Time that could have been, and Time that might yet be. Some people have the ability to access the Road and travel it from Time to Time and world to world.

This is a location that define a setting, a campaign. It is not something to casually drop into your world unless you want to center your campaign around it (players will take to The Road like ducks to water). It works best with modern characters travelling to places new, but you can use any group of people.

Time is a roadway, with exits and side-roads leading not only to the past, present, and future, but to many variations thereon.

The Road appears to be a well maintained road of the best kind. For some campaigns it will be a Roman Imperial Road, others just a well packed dirt road, yet others still a super highway (and in some campaigns it will change with the times). North on the road leads to the future (usually); to the South, the past. Along The Road there are varous signs that mark side roads. Those signs list various times and places. If one follows that side road (ramp), the side road will lead to that time and place.  (The Ramps seem to exit out on a main road/ path for the area). Most of the exits in a given area lead to the same time, just different places, but not always. Some odd ones lead to the past or odd worlds. Some of the branching roads lead to side roads, where alternate histories exist (or what some people think of as alternate history). 

The terrain along The Road is archetypal. It is just the open terrain and a lone road running through it. It is not all abandoned. Along the road, far and between, there are various inns and services, of people who travelled the road and for some reasons decided never to go on. (Most of them just got lost and could not find their home again).

Only a small number can find The Road innately (They have a pathfinding knack). Others can be led to it, but will have difficulty refinding the exit/ entrace. (If someone travels the road for a while, they might pick up the pathfinding knack). 

A small side note: If you change the past and reach The Road, you will find the newly appeared sign that leads to the alternate timeline you created. You can travel up that road if you want. If you can change the event enough times (finding most of the exits) you can make your changed history part of the main road.

A tip of the hat to Roger Zelazny who created all the good ideas in the multiverse.


The most common plot is that some Gandolfian Cosmic Mage type finds the PCs and recruits them for a mission into the past (or future). The most common of these missions is to retrieve something "lost to time", but there are other options. Changing an event or participating in some event in the past may be the event the Cosmic Mage decides must be done.

The PCs buy a Road Walker’s horse. It knows the way back home and might end up taking you part way there. They might then visit the past accidently, picking up clues that will help them resolve a future storyarc when they return home.

One of the PCs might be lead to The Road by a Goblin Guide, all in the attempt for them to find their father. Then they have to face down the monsters chasing him.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

December 4, 2005, 15:11
I wonder how this got a vote without a comment. Well I endorse this thread. Of course, I wrote it. But Roger Zelazny wrote RoadMarks and Amber and this post is a homage to him.
May 25, 2007, 2:04
More shameless bumping.
Voted Scrasamax
February 2, 2008, 1:43
Aside from being The Attack of the Parentheses, this is a fairly nice submission. I like the road analogy for time traveling, though I must admit I've not read Amber or Zelazny so I'll have to take your word on it ;)
September 10, 2008, 0:11
One should read Roadmarks. It is some fun popcorn for the mind.

The Amber Series (first seven) really should be read by any serious sci-fi fantasy fan, just like you should read The Lord of the Rings.
March 3, 2008, 16:50
An Addition

Up the Road a little way from Now, you will find a number of offramps for The City. In fact, you can see The City from the Road, even if you don't stop.

The Road is a central point on the Multiversal Web of HappenTracks and WorldLines. Some would call it Cynosure, while others would call it The Only City. From the City, you can travel to just about anysphere or realm in the 'Verse.
September 10, 2008, 0:10
Updated: Updated for some very bad capitalization mistakes.
Voted axlerowes
October 30, 2009, 16:46
Nice enough idea.
Voted Moonlake
July 6, 2013, 0:25
Quite nice concept, simple but having great utility uses.


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Raptyr

Nine times out of ten, it’s the undead that do the running.

Not strictly animal or vegetable, the Corpse bud is a peculiar individual that shares characteristics from multiple kingdoms and species. In appearance, all corpse buds bear a shape of a large rounded top bud divided into four lateral segments, and a much longer, narrower bottom bud, also divided into four segments. Between the two halves are a set of four radial limbs, rounded on top and flat on the bottom, covered with tiny serrated hooks facing towards the body. In overall size, it’s limbs reach as wide as a spread hand, with the body being as thick as a fist. It is as long as a human hand from top to bottom.

Internally, the top bud of the corpse bud contains a bacteria filled membrane that produces the hydrogen that the corpse bud uses to stay aloft, and a series of fungal gills for the dispersal of spores for reproduction. The lower half of the bud contains a number of fine filaments, as well as a sharp barbed stinger containing a powerful local anaesthesia.

The Corpse Bud mobilizes by inflating its top bud, and steers by rotating its arms rapidly about its body. The corpse bud ordinarily drifts with the wind, orienting towards the scent of recent decay and death. It preys on the recently dead, burrowing the lower bud into the victim, using the anaesthesia in case the victim is dying, and not truly deceased. Once embedded, it releases its filaments into the body, replacing the current nervous system. This gives it full animation of the body, and allows the corpse bud to direct it.

Corpse buds are not a malevolent species, being primarily concerned with breaking down the host body for food, and infecting the reproductive cycle with spores in order to mate with other corpse-bud bodies. To preserve the corpse for this purpose, Corpse buds will seek out dry locations to prevent bacteria from destroying the corpses. This often causes a large number of corpse buds to gather in a single location.

In culture, Corpse buds are used to repair broken spines or degenerative diseases, as the sentient mind will easily overcome the mind of the non-sentient corpse bud. Once infected by a corpse bud, however, removal is usually fatal, and the infected individual cannot reproduce, or risk infecting another. Thus, it is a technique often reserved for the elderly, or a last resort.

Necromancers and other dark sorcerers will often preserve the corpses of their victims magically, and infect them with corpse buds, creating traditional undead as well, so as to seed their lairs with undead both offensive and non, in order to throw their enemies off balance. They will also enslave the rudimentary minds of the corpse buds, and transform the docile things into a plague. There have also been accounts of magically transformed corpse buds with stronger minds and a taste for living flesh, but thus far all accounts are unproven rumors.

Ideas  ( Lifeforms ) | October 12, 2011 | View | UpVote 3xp

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