Awanggis is one of those villages that most people have never heard of, much less visited. Located somewhere in the vast, mostly unexplored, plains region known as the Great Grass Sea, one usually discovers this humble hamlet completely by accident, or not at all. A population of approximately three hundred and fifty souls calls Awanggis home. At first glance it appears as any other non-descript village does. Wooden huts thatched with grass and pitch, a few goats and dogs, and regular folks doing what regular folks do. Several idiosyncrasies however, make Awanggis unlike any other village a traveler might come across.
A Bit of History
Hundreds of years ago, a small band of wandering nomads, making their way across the featureless terrain of the Great Grass Sea, discovered a rare natural spring in the ground. Acknowledging the watering hole as a good omen, this group of families decided to stay a while, and soon the encampment became a tethered community, which eventually came to include some other folk who joined the original inhabitants. A short time later the villagers discovered that the spring was only a hint of their further good fortune. While digging holes in the ground in hopes of finding more natural water wells, an entire subterranean lake was discovered! When a few of the folk descended into the gloom, with the help of large buckets, ropes, and pulleys, they came upon a strange species of frog-like creatures dwelling in the lake. Each one of these large amphibians was about the size of a shovelhead, with deep-blue, slimy skin and eyeless faces. Not having eyes did not seem to effect their survival in any way, as the villagers soon learned. The frogs used a rudimentary form of echolocation to catch their prey, mostly huge, colorless crayfish, larvae-like mudbugs, and praying mantis sized lake-skimmers. In lieu of typical croaks, these creatures emitted a strange noise with their throats, which can only be described as sounding like, "A-Wan". The villagers, amazed at their discoveries ignored the frogs at first, and instead began to build several wells in order to keep the new village well watered, even during the infamous dry spells that were so common on the plains. They did name the village Awanggis, or 'place of Awan' as a nod to the blue frogs and the muted queer noises they would always hear emanating from the weird creatures at night, below the ground of their huts. Soon the village began to thrive, as much as a small village could, despite the fact that it never really grew to a larger size or population due to its isolated location. Life was good for the several hundred plains-dwellers.
What remained unknown to the inhabitants however, was the fact that the 'frogs' of the underground lake beneath the village, were not true amphibians, but actually the devolved remnants of a long-forgotten god named Awan, who once ruled over the present day Great Grass Sea untold eons ago. The only remaining hint of Awan's existence thousands of years later are these blue creatures and their weird chanting croaks..."A-Wan, A-Wan, A-Wan."
Back to the Present
A peculiar tradition has developed over the years in Awanggis. At some point one imaginative mother named her son Awan. The trend caught on, and several generations later, every man woman and child was named Awan, the "non-Awans" having died out. Debates in fact raged as to whether Awan was a proper male or female name. These arguments were never definitively settled, but the villagers eventually seemed to accept the fact that it was a gender-neutral appellation. Now this might seem barbaric, needlessly confusing, and just plain silly to the 'civilized', but the villagers saw, and still see, nothing wrong with this quirky premise.
The village of Awanggis is a small, still thriving, and self-sufficient community to this day. The villagers hunt wild fowl on the plains, churn milk from small indigenous goats that roam the prairies, and continue to draw the cool, fresh water from the seemingly bottomless subterranean lake beneath their village, as well as the occasional edible lake critter. They do not eat the frogs themselves however as they see them as harbingers of good fortune. The blue, eyeless frogs continue their nocturnal croaking ode to their forgotten god, and every newborn babe is still named Awan. To distinguish between all the Awans, the people have adopted fanciful titles to go along with their names. These tend toward the descriptive. Awan Goat-Lover, Awan Cripple-Leg, Awan the Beauty, Awan Frog-Licker, Awan Not-The-Smart-One, Awan Talks-To-Herself and so forth. A child usually is simply called Awan, until the time a title is given to him or her by the elders of the village. To any outsider, a villager would give his or her name as simply 'Awan', but between themselves they use their monikers.
Approximately six months ago, a group of twenty youths left Awanggis, in search of adventure and trading partners for the village. Unfortunately, due perhaps to a foolish decision regarding leadership, Awan Fights-With-Everyone led the group out to the Great Grass Sea. What happened to this gang of Awans is unknown.
What is also unknown to all the villagers of Awanggis is that the huge blue frogs, which dwell beneath the village, secrete a near-invisible enzyme from their skin into the underground waters of the lake. While somehow actually helping in keeping the water itself free of bacteria and impurities, this chemical also has an added effect on the drinker of the water. It causes madness. Not an immediate lunacy or complete insanity, but a subtle poisoning of the rational mind over many years and generations. At the present time, no Awan is quite right in the head, but neither is any Awan aware of this phenomenon in themselves or others. Life goes on for the folk, despite their skewed mental states and thought processes. This madness is almost never of an obvious or violent nature, but one of delicate dementia. There are as many types of dementias as there are villagers. Some have bizarre phobias, some perverse complexes, and many have mutiple personalities. One village elder for example, has two titles. He is called Awan, Lover-Of-The-Sun and Awan, Dwells-In-Hut-By-Day, depending on his actions any given week. The one underlying theme is that these various afflictions are never obvious at first and rarely extreme in nature. Since the villagers practically never interact with outsiders, they deem themselves quite normal. Some enterprising or bored villagers often lick the frogs in the lake for luck, as they occasionally pull the critters up along with their water buckets. This practice often accelerates dementia in the lickers! Occasionally frogs that are stranded topside, simply hop away in random directions, unaffected by the outside elements. Where these frogs end up is a dicey guess at best.
- The PCs come across Awan Fights-With-Everyone and his ragged band somewhere in the Great Grass Sea. Fights-With-Everyone offers them many skins of fresh water as barter for some other goods the PCs might have. He is quite prickly and not the greatest discourser.
- While camping in the plains, the PCs notice a blue eyeless frog the size of a football. It merely sits there and pays homage to Awan with its croaking.
- The PCs come across the village of Awanggis itself, and try to make heads or tails of the kooky populace. Eventually they will discover the lake and the weird creatures in it.
- Exploring the lake by skiff or some such transport (something which the villagers were never quite interested in doing all these years), can lead to any number of many peculiar discoveries, which are left to the GMs imagination.
- Perhaps a blue-green small stone idol of an ambiguously amphibious creature is found embedded in the rock of the lake's bank. This could be Awan's likeness. It radiates magic(?)
- Maybe a tunnel branching off farther into the depths of the earth is discovered. Who knows where this tunnel might lead. Another lake deeper underground, with thousands upon thousands of the blue, eyeless frogs? An ancient shrine or sacrificial chamber of Awan?
- The PCs discover the properties of the water and affliction caused by the enzyme secreting frogs, through magic or divine foresight. They can attempt to cure the villagers.
- Could Awan be stirring and waking from his 'dead god' sleep of eternity? If so how would the frogs and villagers react/be affected?
- The pc's come upon Awanggis just as the villagers are all flabbergasted and agog, gathered around a bizarre newborn baby. The babe is clammy and slimy, with a bluish tinge to her skin. There is only skin where her eyes should be. When she opens her mouth to cry, the only sound that comes forth is..."A-Wan, A-Wan, A-Wan"!
- While exploring the lake, the pc's notice one blue frog which is somewhat larger than the others. If observed over some time, it appears this creature is growing still larger! The other frogs seem to gather around this abomination. A croaking chorus of "A-Wan, A-Wan" comes fast and furious!
- If the players have some means of exploring the actual lake-floor bottom, what clues (or horrors) can be discovered?
End Note: if sages are consulted or ancient tomes in libraries pored over, all that can be discovered about Awan is that he was a deity of madness and lunacy. His form was that of a blue, eyeless, monstrous frog or toad, approximately the size of a brontosaurus.
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? Responses (16)-18
I discovered Awanggis in one of my old, ratty campaign notebooks. Some of you may like it, others may say I should have kept it in the notebook. :) Either way, I couldn't help myself. A bit of a (hopefully subtle) nod to HP Lovecraft I guess.
Okay. I like this not so random village. It does have the CoC vibe to it. However, it is not so entwined with mythos that you can't use it every where.
It is well executed and has all the interesting bits I normally like. It is a bit of a one trick pony, but hey it is still an excellent post.
Very nice, I like the large potential for exploration, and the fact that a a 'lost tribe' may have been worshipping a great and terrible old god. very CoC
To me, it is cute. :)
True, a very gentle feeling of something Lovecraftian has guided me while reading the post. It is not a hidden evil that waits lurking on its future victims, it is quite benign. (And after the years, who knows if the god was really one of lunacy and madness?) Maybe it is only the sadness of his (its?) passing away that eats on the sanity of those residing around.
Also the custom of every villager being named Awan is interesting. Should anyone start to worship the god again, will he/it awake? The fact they are all carrying his name should give him quite an influence over them.
Manfred- I always enjoy your reviews. You don't just comment on any given piece per se. You immediately expand the submission in your mind and start 'taking it places' Bravo! It made me edit the entry in order to provide one more vague and nebulous plot hook.
Not always, Murometz, not even to all of the submissions I like... but I try to add to them, if I comment. There is nothing like adding an idea to another.
One for creativity, whenever it comes! :)
I like this. It has the kind of feel that makes villages something others than Place-To-Barter-Loot. The underground lake, in particular, is a good thing, with the eyeless frogs and their madness-inducing secretions. It does have a vaguely Lovecraftian feel, in that it has echoes of things Man Was Never Meant To Know - in this case, the fate of the god Awan.
Random things that occur to me...
Perhaps the actual physical remnants of Awan, beyond the frogs, lie in the depths of the lake. Possibly this is even the true source of the seemingly endless water in the lake, and why the frogs prefer to simply hop around it and pay homage to Awan.
Or perhaps the site is of a sunken temple to Awan, in the depths of the water there might be the sole surviving (or ruined-but-semi-intact) temple or shrine of Awan, possibly with quasi-functional holy relics, or maybe even a way to revive Awan from his fate and restore him to power. It could be that someone else, finding this out, is trying to revive Awan right underneath the villagers who bear his name.
Or maybe the subtle changes being wrought by the frogs go beyond madness, and children begin developing a more amphibious appearance. bulging eyes, damp, clammy skin, webbed extremities, and the like begin to appear among the newborns as the villagers begin to further resemble the frogs and the god from whom they come... (Shadows of the Deep Ones!)
Thanks for the added plot hooks. Especially the amphibious newborn!!
This I like, a village that can fit into many worlds and roleplays.
Sorry, the above comment was me...
Rustic serenity mingled with gentle maloveance and the wistful reminders of a time long gone by. Charming and sinister at the same time. Very interesting.I take it that Awan is not an innately sinister deity though?
um..he is if you want him to be, and he's not if you don't :D
I'm a big fan of Insanity in general, especially when related to water. And frogs. And cool noises. And apparently fragmented sentences. Great post, and has that typical Murometz quality to it, which I herebey dub 'Muruality.'
I love this one, and the excellent commentary that accompanied it. Very usable!
This one made me laugh, but more than that it's a clever concept. One can imagine a group of adventurers stumbling into Awan, hearing the distant 'a-wan'ing and cocking eyebrows at the afflicted villagers. This one's a real beaut.