Fields of Flesh
Lavish glade and lush green field,
Wizen'd oaks; to the blight all yield.
Weeping trees of crimson blood,
the Fields of Flesh turn life to mud.
Will you tread and smile and sleep
where devils dance and angels weep?
'There is a blight in our lands. An area in excess of forty miles across has been warped and twisted; it has been around for countless centuries. Very few people travel through the area, because it is said to be cursed and fearsome things lurk in its wake. There are a few rumours we know of. As for the truth of them, we cannot say. One is that there are men who live there; but they are no longer of mankind. Another is that the ground wilts beneath your very feet and the trees themselves weep blood. And there is another which says that to walk the land is to walk where devils dance and angels weep. We do not know why, but place has been given the moniker 'The Fields of Flesh'.
The reason we tell you all of this is that this council sent our arcanists to conduct a study of the outskirts of this blight, and they have determined that the field of flesh is in fact growing and they cannot stop it. It expands at a rate of several feet per month. It seems we cannot afford to ignore the cursed fields forever. It falls on you, then, to brave these corrupted plains and solve this mystery. We must stop the Fields of Flesh from overrunning this country.
The Fields of Flesh is a slowly growing layer of corruption expanding to nearly forty-five miles. It envelopes mostly a large portion of farmland, but has also consumed one quarter of a sparse forest to the east, and some edging of a hilly/mountainous terrain to the south. There are rumours of a town within the Fields of Flesh.
A river runs through the Blight - the water before it runs clean but the water within the blight appears to have been corrupted; having a slight pinkish hue to it. A couple miles of shallow water after the blight serves to filter out most of this, and it appears that the corruption is not carried far downstream.
When walking into the field, the PC's will notice the air begins to become misted with a reddish haze, as though a bloodied fog has enscapulated the entire area.
Grass is decayed and grey-green, wilting as though it has lost the will to live.
The first area the PCs will encounter are the plains and fields. These are the outskirts of the Field of Flesh. Once crops and pleasant valleys, the land appears barren here. The path they are on itself is a pleasant, well-trodden walkway passing by several farms, but the grass to their sides will soon appear blackened and dying. There are no trees here, just the mournful grass. PC's should be tempted to investigate a farmhouse and barn, andÂ would find that most of the buildings are stripped of nearly all wood, leaving just shells of buildings; the only wood left over is so rotted and moldy it would not even be of much use as kindling. Even a lot of the fencing will have been stripped bare. Inside the shell of the farmhouse, they will discover evidence of scavenging - most useful items, from kitchen utensils to furniture has been pilfered and there are no signs of life in here, except a few rats chasing down some roaches. Interestingly, the PC's will find that even though everything else was taken, all the foodstuffs in the house have been left untouched. while most of it is spoiled, the PC's will be able to find a few useful long-life morsels; a jar of honey, a well-sealed bag of flour and an assortment of dried fruits.
When the PC's move on to explore the barn, they will hear a slurping, chewing noise just inside the entrance. As they enter the stripped-down barn, a man is revealed: ragged, in torn clothes and squatting, facing away from the group. He appears to be Munching away at what looks like a haunch of meat. When disturbed by the PC's, the man will Turn his head and stare at the party.
His eyes are nearly black with enlargened pupils and his mouth is widened unnaturally nearly ear to ear. Blood from the haunch of what looks like human meat pours down his chin and drips onto the ground. And then he grins, revealing a mouth overflowing with jagged, sharply pointed teeth - far too many teeth. His arms are elongated down nearly to knee length and spindly fingers end into thickened, clawlike fingernails.
After studying the newcomers for a couple seconds, the creature sniffs at the air and with a hiccuping laugh springs at the group, flailing his meaty haunch.
This mutated creature is stronger than a human, and will use anything it can to attack, from it's meat to it's claws and also that massive, snapping mouth, attempting to take chunks of flesh out of the PC's to eat. It's attacks are frenzied and it has little regard for its own safety, but all in all the fight should not be too difficult. The creature still bleeds like a human and dies as easily.
The PC's will find nothing of real value on the humanoid after slaying it - his pockets were empty. If they study the haunch of meat though, they will notice that it is too long and slender to be of a human. It is not a limb off any creature the PC's have heard of.
In the barn, rusty equipment such as saws minus their wooden handles and iron farm equipment may be found, but little of any use or value.
If PC's search around the back of the barn, they will find a well, but any water drawn from it will be as red as blood, with a metallic smell to it, suggesting the corruption runs underground, too. The rope is servicable and the bucket itself is of good make however, a good slow-burning iron wood.
Finding nothing else of interest, the PC's may continue along the road. Eventually they will spot trees coming through the mist in the distance. As they get closer however, their stomachs will churn; The trees are leafless and crooked. Several meters tall and bent in clawed, menacing shapes. Most disturbing however, is the fact that they are trees made entirely of flesh, skin and bone. Their exterior is covered in a casing of pink, supple skin, veins seen beneath the surface. The trunks veer off a meter or two up from the ground into several branches, all of which eventually finish with a boney, clawed tip. Dispite their most horrific appearance, they do not appear otherwise menacing; they don't flail at the PC's or do anything in a particularly sentient or malicious manner.
The only thing which canbe said of the trees is that whenever a PC nears them, they will feel a faint sense of sorrow. If one of the party attempts to cut into a tree they will find it has the same kind of resistance as human flesh. It also bleeds
as though there were a heart in the roots, pumping blood up. At the core of the tree is a thick bone, akin to
a human femur, and the bones are even separated at each turn in the branches by tendons and ligaments. The tree may
sometimes appear to let out a little, pained whimper if cut, although the source of the sound cannot be known; there is
no mouth. It will be obvious to the PC's that the 'leg' of meat which the Humanoid creature was chewing on was a branch
off one of these trees.
Occasionally, the trees will move a little; as though they are stretching or flexing their muscles.
As the PC's move on, they will find more and more vegetation appearing, such as spindly bushes which look like
many-knuckled fingers with fingernails for thorns. The trunk of which is as as thick as a wrist and sparse,
moist crimson flowers shooting off of them; if squeezed they will ooze blood onto the ground. Creeping vines
which look disturbingly like pulsating arteries are latched onto the trunk of some of the trees;
the trees which have these parasitic vines on them are rotting away, boils and ulcers pockmarking their skin.
PC's will end up spending a night camping on the side of the road, and whether or not they have someone on watch duty, the night will pass uneventfully; except for restless sleep and nightmares of fleshling tree-limbs enclosing around them, choking the life out of them. The PC's find themselves awake a couple hours before dawn and eager to just keep travelling. But they only need walk for barely an hour between the eerie Flora before they find themselves entering a town.
Items to find in the Farmland:
Â - Long life foodstuffs in Farmhouse
Â - A chance to find cheap ring on the finger of the 'Lost Soul' humanoid.
Â - rusted farm equipment; would fetch a few copper bits if they could be bothered carrying it all.
Â - A rope and sturdy bucket from the well.
Â - 'Plantlife' Flesh samples of many varieties.
Just as dawn manages to bleed through the pink mist the PC's will find themselves entering an unknown town. The first thing which is disturbingly apparent about this unnamed habitation is that while many buildings are made of stone, a fair few are crafted from bone - harvested from the trees and carved and polished into walls
and framework for the houses. The roads are well kept and the PC's will quickly find themselves on what must be the main street and hub of the town. In the center of the street a small piece of stone fountainwork stands erect depicting a featureless winged angel with a great-sword held high to the heavens. Just as the group move to inspect this monument, the dead silence is pierced with a -creaaak- of a door being opened; and from out of one of the buildings to their side a man walks out into the street. A man bearing the exact same distorted features as the creature that attacked them yesterday.
The creature will stand in the street, seemingly stunned for a moment, before grinning widely, baring his sharpened maw, and speaking, 'Ah, hello strangers. welcome to Poxxin.'
People in Poxxin
Â This is the first man which the PC's meet, and serves to be a wealth of basic knowledge about the town for the party. Speaking in his odd many-toothed lisp, he will explain that the town of Poxxin has been around for many centuries. History books in their small library tells of the townsfolk starting out looking very much like the group does (i.e. they used to look human), but living in the Fields of Flesh has bestowed on them a kind of 'unnatural selection', whereupon many of them quickly evolved into the ferocious-looking people they are now; better adapted for seeing in the mist, and tearing down and eating of the trees. A few hundred years ago, the expanding blight slowly overran their town. Instead of relocating, the stubborn townsfolk chose to stick it out and eventually one of them had the idea of felling one of the flesh-trees, cooking and it. The townsfolk grew an appetite for the trees, and nowdays they eat almost exclusively of them, excepting what little wildlife they can manage to capture, which explains why the farmhouse still had its stores of food. Over the centuries, they grew a dependancy on the trees and become grievously ill if they are without their flesh for over a week, which is why the townsfolk do not venture out into the world. Nowdays, they have called their offshoot 'race' the Azaleans, after their angel deity, Azalea.
Jhalk will explain that the town has all basic amenities. There is a smith and general store for basic supplies, a tavern of sorts, which Jhalk believes may have a couple empty rooms upstairs, a small church, run by Brother Hukkel, and a water-run sawmill, not more than a couple miles out of town and next to the river, which Raun the Sawyer has adapted to carving great logs of the flesh-trees for food and bone building material.
Generic questions/answers for Jhalk
In regards to the attack by a supposed Azalean in the barn on the plains;
'Ah yes, that is understandable. Sometimes people go a little crazy here - a bit primal, you see. It doesn't happen more than once or twice a year, and when they do, they are chased out of the town and not allowed to return. We call them Lost Souls, because we feel it is though the poor folk lose their souls and become animals. It is most regrettable that you had to slay the Lost Soul, but also understandable; they are beyond redemption.
Origin of the Blight;
'I do not believe anyone knows. You might want to try asking Raun at the Sawmill; he has travelled furthest into the wooded land.'
The reason all the life is so warped;
'I do not know. Brother Hukkel may be able to help you there.'
Is it safe to eat the trees or drink the water;
'Most assuredly! Though we have grown a need for it, having a few days worth won't turn you into fanged monsters like us!' Jhalk chuckles.
Dangers in the Fields of Flesh;
'Numerous. Most wildlife has been altered as you see us; take care as you venture deeper, as they have a taste for all flesh, not just the trees.'
Any Landmarks to look out for?
'Well, there is the Sawmill of course. Most of the land the direction you came from is abandoned farmland. The forest edge is not far from the town here, to the east; few of us have explored it though.'
Â Murtez the Smith
Selling bone and leather armor, as well as bone knives and spears, Murtez the smith is a gruff fellow with a menacing disposition. He feels that the PCs are foreign and up to no good in the town. The only thing he will talk about is complaining about his forge being unlit for weeks now. His gruff attitude can be softened by an offering of wood to help fuel his forge; a commodity of which he has little at the moment. If the PC's can offer some wood in good faith, he will open up to them, plus sell his wares at a lower price. If not, he will not answer any questions without great persuasion skills from one of the PC's.
Generic questions/answers for Murtez
Â In regards to any of his wares;
'Not much metalwork I can do here; Wood is so scarce I can barely afford to get my furnace hot enough. The bone knives are sharp, though, and durable!'
Â Origin of the blight;
'I was scavenging some ruins to the south when I heard some Lost Souls jabbering about some chained god turning the land to mush or something. Naturally, I stayed hidden and got my arse back to town as soon as I could. Sounds like a silly legend!'
Â Dangers of the Field of Flesh;
'Keep a keen eye out for Lost Souls. They may fool you sometimes into thinking that they are normal like us, but once they get close enough, they will try to take a bite out of you!' Murtez will laugh cold and hard at this.
Â Landmarks to look out for;
'Well, if you head due south, you'll find the remains of some keep or other. Been nothing but a set of crumbling catacombs for years now, but I don't think anyone's explored it all.'
Ixxil the Shopkeep will look at the PC's with a predatory smile. He often seems to zone out for a bit, eyes glazed. Ixxil sells canteens of water, dried fruits and stomach-churning 'jerky', as well as general supplies such as rope, bottles, hide vellum (Being easier to obtain than paper) and ink. He is a talkative fellow.
Generic questions/answers for IxxilOrigin of the blight;
'Nobody knows! Brother Hukkel keeps saying it's some kind of demon's curse, but he's always going on about gloomy things like that.'
Dangers in the Fields of Flesh;
'Danger? There's no danger here. Just folk who like to turn shadows into monsters in their heads will tell you different. Sure, there's some wildlife that will take a snap at you, but I bet that can happen anywhere!'
Landmarks to look out for;
'Naah, there's nothing in the blight except for farmland, empty grass and more farmland. I talked to Raun and he said he found a cave in the woods, once. No idea where, though - not many of us go into the woods.'
Krondell the Tavern Owner
Krondell runs a small inn with a half dozen rooms on the second floor which truly appear not to have been used in over a century. She points out that visitors are a rarity, and she mainly keeps this place open as a place for people to meet. Krondell seems friendly enough; if perhaps a bit depressing. Definitely not your normal, happy Tavern owner.
Generic questions/answers for Krondell
Â In regards to her sadness;
'Aah, you do not understand it. I was born within this land and know only it. I cannot leave for fear of the sickness. I am caged.'
Â Regarding the rooms upstairs;
'Aye, you can stay in a room if you like. Each has six beds - Just let me dust away the cobwebs before you get too comfortable. A price? Well, lets say forty copper a head. Does that sound right to you?' Not knowing the price she should charge, a skilled negotiator could talk Krondell down to paying hardly a thing.
Â Origin of the blight;
'I don't know. It's just always been here.'
Â Dangers in the Field of flesh;
'Yeah, everything here wants to hurt you in some way. And don't tell anyone or they will think i'm crazy, but I swear I saw a demon walking through the edge of the wood! Least I think it was! It was twice my height and all red and scaly! No way you'll ever catch me going into those woods!'
Â Landmarks to look out for;
'It's all pretty much the same to me. I mean, there's the woods to the east, and Rouse said she once found a secret place in the mountains down south. That was before she... changed.' Krondell sighs and looks more depressed than ever.
Brother Hukkel of the Church of Azalea
A very accomodating Azalean, Brother Hukkel will welcome them into his tiny church - more or less just a home converted into a place of worship. Brother Hukkel will ask questions of the outside world, and be very open to questions of the PC's.
Questions/answers for Brother HukkelPertaining to Azalea/religion;
'Ah, you ask of Azalea the maker? I will give you the quick version! Basically, Azalea is an angelic being of great power in the direct service of the divine one himself. Known as Azalea the maker, or Azalea the shaper, he was one of the angels who decided the way all things took form. He molded all life from the clay of the earth and his ultimate triumph was the human. Azalea was so pleased by the human form that it is said he even fell in love with one of his makings - a human woman known as Nazrem. To this day he resides with his seraphimic brothers in the heavens, watching us. We, the Azaleans believe that though we have been warped, it is to Azalea's design. We are still beings shaped by him and thus are loved by him. This is why we choose to worship Azalea.'
Origin of the blight;
'Yes, I believe that some demonic power has corrupted these lands. In these times of great trial we must cling to our faith to protect us. what else but some fel being could be behind all this corruption?'
Dangers in the field of flesh;
'If you happen to travel south to the ruins, keep a watch for a trio of Lost Souls. Their names are Podd, Mull and Rouse. Rouse was my... daughter.' Hukkel pauses, his friendly attitude shading momentarily, 'They hunger for flesh, but they are a danger to your soul also; they have lost the way and may blaspheme against Azalea.'
Landmarks to look out for;
'Keep away from the ruins down south - they are rife with false floors and traps unsprung. Oh, and make sure to visit the Sawmill and talk to Raun - he will be able to tell you of some places he has seen.'
(Appendix a. Myths and Legends)
The Townsfolk seem pleasant for the most part, if a little weird - they all have their own personalities as in any town. Sometimes, however, they will stare for a long time at the PCs, seemingly in a reverie.
Occasionally when asked a question or engaged in any conversation they will answer strangely off-topic with unfocussed eyes and odd comments such as the following:
'Why was she taken?'
'I am alone forever.'
'Her blood pooled in my hands.'
'She did no wrong.'
'They come for you, Azalea.'
'They will find you.'
'They killed her, you know.'
'Now they will kill you.'
The first set of sentences is spoken in a wistful or slightly mourning tone. The second set is mostly emotionless, but vaguely taunting.
Any attempt to ask the townsman about the strange thing they just said will met with a weird look and a shrug,as though the PC was the crazy one hearing voices. If the PC's want a proper answer to their question they can ask it again.
Miscellaneous Town info
If they choose to spend a night in Poxxin, Ixxil the shopkeep will try and break into their room. He has turned into a 'Lost Soul' over the course of the night and desires a taste of the outlanders' flesh. If they have locked or barred the room as they should, the PC's will be woken by Ixxil's attempt at entering, and hear him curse softly and walk away. A few minutes later, a rock will smash through the window and Ixxil will climb through and attempt to attack them. He is slightly stronger than the tattered Lost Soul they met on the Farmland, and will present a moderate challenge.
(Appendix a. - Ixxil)
Â Wood is used almost exclusively for fire; anyone that attempted to build a house out of wood will soon find missing planks as other townsfolk scavenge away at it. Houses are made from stone or bone out of the core of the trees, cleaned and polished up to quite a nice sheen. Bone flutes are often played by the Azaleans, although they are not usually very good at it - what with the plethora of jagged teeth getting in the way.
Any wooden items that the PCs have could be bartered off to any of the townsfolk here for a generous price.Â
(Appendix a. - Auction House!)
Once a month several of the townsfolk pull a cart to the edge of the blight and hack down as many trees as they are able to pull back. They have no horses or beasts of burden to aid them, as any creature that spends a length of time within the Fields of Flesh lose their domestication and begin to warp, like the townsfolk. Their mouths twist and widen, growing excess sharpened teeth, and get a taste for the flesh and will eventually attempt to take bites out of the townsfolk.
The townsfolk will remark that they don't know why humans tend to maintain a hold of their sanity - usually.
Travelling north from Poxxin for about a mile along a very worn trail, the PC's will spot the river and the Sawmill. The PC's will notice that the river has a pink hue, as though contaminated by whatever else is corrupting the land. It is over two dozen yards across and has a moderate current.
Surrounded by a wall of polished bone about two meters high, the Sawmill boasts a large yard scattered with felled trees of flesh; large pools of blood soaking into the dirt around them. The odd raven is perched atop some of the trees, giving their solitary caws and picking at the flesh.
As for the Sawmill itself, it is an ancient two-storied building built amazingly out of mostly wood, with some stone and bone supporting it. drenched halfway in the water is a steadily turning water-wheel, it's creaks and groans echoing loudly.
The front door of the sawmill is open, as well as a large, double-door which can accomodate a cart.
When the PC's enter the sawmill, they will see that a large portion of it is one, massive workshop. A plethora of chains hang from the ceiling, half of them tied around logs of flesh on the wooden floor. To one side of the room the wooden floorboards have rotted and broken away, revealing a three meter drop into the basement of the Sawmill.
On the river-side of the mill is a small closet-like room with a closed door. The sound of gears and pulleys being driven from the wheel suggests that this is the mechanism closet for the Sawmill. A massive word is splattered on the front of the door in red, 'DANGER!'. On the right side of the mill is a small staircase leading to an upstairs area - a small living area with a bed and desk for the Sawyer. To the left of the large workshop lies the Wheel-driven Saw. An enormous, toothed beast grinding up and down mercilessly with the movement of the waterwheel. It is stained with blood - like much of the workshop, in fact - and looks in very good repair. On either side of it rests large, oaken work-benches with A large groove for tree trunks and clamps, and a movable platform to aid in pushing logs through the saw.
A rhythmic chopping sound belongs to the only person in the Sawmill - a man working near the saw, hefting an enormous axe of bone and iron. This Azalean is massive. Rippling muscles and generous helpings of fat giving him an almost bloated, frog-from-hell like feature. He stands a full two heads taller than any of the PC's. Upon noticing the group, the Azalean will stop his chopping away at the log of flesh and turn. The Sawyer wipes his large butcher-style apron down with thick leather gloves and grins at the PC's.
'Aye, young Hezzon said there were strange folk in town - he came a'runnin to the mill as soon as you showed up in! Welcome, yeh humans, I am Raun. What can I do for yeh?'
Questions/Answers for Raun the SawyerWhat is done in the Lumbermill/How does this place work?
'I'll show yeh!,' hoisting on a chain with one hand, the Sawyer raises one of the chained logs off from the ground then carefully pushes it onto the groove in front of the ever-slicing vertical saw. 'Y'see, the water wheel drives the saw all day, until I chock it to stop it spinning. Yeh may wannah move on back a couple steps, m'friends!' Raun clamps the log of flesh in place securely withÂ several iron crimps on either side of it, then, muscles straining, pushes the tree forth. A sickening sound is accompanied by splatterings of blood and small bits of flesh all over the place as the vertical saw grates through meat and bone. The whole process takes about five minutes, but when the log finally pushes out the other end and is unclamped by Raun, it falls into two, perfect pieces; the saw had even split the bone through the middle. 'Well, there yeh go, m'friends! Not the cleanest job by half, but there's no quicker or more precise way to cleave a tree like that!' Raun smiles; his body covered in a fresh layer of blood. 'The meat goes straight to town to be processed for food, and the bone I polish up here m'self!'
Why the Sawmill is still mostly wood;
'Well, I like the look and feel of wood - plus it's the best material for the wheel. Ooh, I've had some of the folk from town try and pinch a plank or two, but they soon learned their lesson with a swing of meh axe!' Raun laughs openly at this, but manages to make the laugh sound threatening.
Origin of the Blight;
'Aye, can't tell yeh where the curse did come from, but I do know that it is worse in the woods. If it started at any one point, it would be down there!'
Dangers in the Fields of Flesh;
'Yah, there's plenty o' dangers out there. Be careful o' the foxes and hares. They may seem weak enough by themselves, but if yeh leave 'em be, they'll be findin' friends to help take you down!' Raun laughs at this, 'Them and the Lost ones is all ye have to worry about if you're sticking around the town. But if yeh be goin' into the woods I cin tell yeh that there be creatures in there that are not like the wildlife. I ain't seen anything meself, but I seen ash footprints and animals what've been burned alive! There be some kinda evil in those woods.'
Any Landmarks to look out for?
'I been exploring the lands a bit and I seen a few things. Down south of the town there be some ruins. I reckon also there be something in the mountains further south, but I ain't gonna go climbing them - I don't much like heights! Ah, and I sometimes be bravin' the woods, and I did see a massive cave-mouth a few miles into 'em. Old rock and limestone n' such all in it. I didn't look past the entrance though - I ain't got no death wish!'
How can we find that cave?
'Easy! I been making a map of what I explore, yasee. I kin give yeh all a copy. Just be givin' me a second to grab it!' Raun turns and jogs up the stairs to his living quarters.
Without the map, the PC's will not be able to find the cave in the woods. But while Raun is upstairs, a weak voice will sound out from behind the mechanism door marked 'danger!'. 'H...Hello? Is he gone? Help me! Please, get me out - I don't want to die!'Â The voice is male and weak, and after this all that can be heard is gentle sobbing. The PC's may go over to the door to investigate, but there will not be enough time to unlock the door, as Raun will then reappear at the base of the stairs.
'Here be the map, m'friends, now - what's going on...?' Raun will either notice the PC's at the door, or if the group hasn't moved, Raun will still notice the sound of sobbing and know that his cover is blown.
'Aah, it could have been so easy, too...' The Sawyer will sigh and stuff the map in his back pocket before picking up his already bloodied greataxe.
The Demon Sawyer
Â As Raun steps closer to the PC's they will notice that he seems to be growing in size and his body is warping. 'He already knows you are meddling in his affairs, humans. He saw you the second you stepped into the Fleshfield.' Raun will have grown another span in height and from the top of his head, vertically down his spine a row of bony spikes have erupted. His skin will have taken on a scaly texture and from his tailbone a swinging, pink-fleshed tail has sprouted, bursting through his clothes. His added height and weight cause him to be hunched forward and to help him balance one of the clawed hands of his elongated arms rests on the ground - this is not a problem since he is now able to easily wield his greataxe in one hand. with a wilting cry, the demonic Sawyer leaps at the party.
Raun the Demon Sawyer should be a challenging encounter or 'miniboss' for the party. The Azalean was already a powerful member of his sub-race, but being warped by demonic energies, he now boasts pierce-resistance scaly skin, a dangerous, whipping tail, incredible strength and a size bonus over the PC's. There is no chance for fleeing, as Raun will run much faster than the party,Â and it is advised to utilize the environment of the Sawmill to their advantage to kill Raun. The still-pumping vertical saw should be described to the PC's enticingly.
(See Appendix a. - The Demon Sawyer)
Before anything else can be accomplished, Raun must be incapacited, but once they manage to do this, they will be able to continue. If the party is adept at picking locks, they may pick the Mechanism room door, or otherwise a key can be found in Raun's living quarters.
Once they open the door a human - untouched by the blight - will scurry out into the room, take a look at the scene and vomit heavily onto the ground.
Once freed, the man will reveal himself to be Yuson Buller, a boatman from upstream and out of the range of the blight who was travelling downstream and saw this lumbermill - he wanted a place to stop for the night so he investigated it. When he entered, he was ambushed by Raun and locked up in the room. Raun had eyed the boatsman hungrily and told him that he was going to eat the man, but first the Sawyer had pulled apart the boat for scrap wood and was going to sell the pieces to the townsfolk.
Yuson Buller will have no useful information about the blight, except that Raun would sometimes talk to himself about some 'Puppet master' who he worshipped seemingly as a god.
Yuson Buller will not want to enter an entire town of creatures like the Sawyer, dispite the PC's suggesting they are not evil, and he will choose to find his own way out of the blight by following the river. If pressed for reward, Yuson Buller will have a small handful of coins he will be willing to give up.
Most of the wood of the sawmill is reinforced and nailed in very well, with crossbars of bone supporting it - most of it will be too hard for the PC's to collect. They may be able to get a couple of planks, though, and sell it back in town. People in town will be hesitant to buy it though, for fear of the Sawyer. If the PC's tell them that the sawyer went crazy and is dead, they will not believe the PC's; the Sawyer is too tough to be killed!
If Raun's map was lost in the fight, another one can be found upstairs in Raun's living quarters. In addition, there is a collection of axes up there, as well as basic living essentials.
Items to find in the Sawmill:
Â - A map, depicting a rough location of a cave within the woods.
Â - A key, able to open the Mechanism room in the Sawmill
Â - 1-4 planks of servicable wood, each able to fetch a decent sum of money from the town.
Â - Raun's Greataxe - A very heavy axe, only usable by someone of considerable strength. ((Greataxe +2 or equivalent to your game. Requires a high strength to use.))
Â - 1-3 Bone and iron woodaxes of much more managable size
Â - Lengths of chain.
Â - A sharp carving/boning knife, used by Raun to trim and skin the smaller branches of trees.
Â - Some coins, ink, paper, utensils and other miscellanea within Raun's living quarters.
Several hours to the south of Poxxin, not far from the beginning of the southern mountain range, lies the Ruined Keep. When the PC's come across it, they will see that it is a construction of much age and certainly wasn't built by the Azaleans. In fact, it may even have been around since before the corruption had overrun it. Once several stories high, it is now just a collection of rubble with crumbled staircases and non-existent walls. PC's may pick through the rubble on this layer, but they will find little of any use. To the western side of the ruins, they will find a stairwell leading downstairs to a stone-walled crypt with several dozen rooms and winding passages. Lighting may be an issue, but torches can be fashioned out of bone and strips of cloth, or even animal fur if needed. Eventually, they will come upon a small chamber with the door slightly ajar; voices can be heard through it.
'...o that Mull! you'll waste the wood!' a female voice echoes.
'Shut up, woman! I know what i'm doing!' a deep male voice replies. There's the sound of flint being struck and the flicker of fire glints through the door.
'Fine, but you'd better cook it proper this time!' the woman replies.
'Will you two stop your bitching?!' A third, higher pitched male voice contributes.
'Sorry Podd. Just sick of eating fox again. Wish we had some Huuumaan!' The deep male voice drools.
'We could always raid that villageÂ - outside the borders again...?' The female voice offers.
'Nah. It's too far away. Just quit your complaining and let's get this bloody fox on, shall we?'
The voices die down as the crackling of cooking meat begins. After a few seconds, if the PC's are exceptionally good at hearing, they will notice that the female voice is speaking in whispers, 'At the door... it smells... delicious!'
There will be a few more moments of silence, and if the PC's havent entered yet, three Azaleans will suddenly burst through the door, snarling! The Podd, Mull and Rouse will fight viciously, working together to try and bring down one opponent at a time - they have obviously been comrades for some time and they complement each other. Rouse uses only her bare hands, and she doesn't seem to have as much fight in her as the two men, but Podd slashes furiously with a crooked bone dagger, and Mull's short sword is handled expertly. They will, naturally, also make full use of their claws and teeth. Felling the trio should not be overly difficult and once they are done for, the group may move on into the final chamber.
The last chamber is not a crypt at all, but rather appears to be a prayer room - perhaps used for the last rites of whoever was buried in the other crypts. A small, dried fountain is situated against the far wall, and before it lies a table most likely used for laying out the dead. There are a few rows of seats made from stone and room for kneeling in prayer - although currently there is a corrupted fox burning in a crude camp-fire there, the smoke of it stifling in the poorly ventilated area.
Podd, Mull and Rouses belongings are laid out in here and it is obvious that this is where they choose to live. several sets of clothing are strewn messily through the room, a couple of small boxes contain a few small trinkets - apparently stolen or looted from the dead.
If the PC's are to study the room properly they will notice that the murals on the walls depict a story. One image is of an angel standing atop a circular representation of the world, arms spread high. At his feet are humans rising from the earth itself. Clearly it is a mural of Azalea the life shaper. The next picture illustrates the same Angel, arms and wings wrapped around what appears to be a naked human female. Their foreheads touch and their eyes are closed. A third mural shows Azalea on a rocky plateau, straining his muscles as he is being held back from a fourth Angel, who has the female from the second image tied on an altar, a knife in his hand raised high in the air. The fourth and final image shows Azalea deep beneath the earth sitting on a mound of stone, head and wings slumped in defeat with tears running down his cheeks. to either side of him, two more Angels are depicted, clamping steel braces on his wrists, which are chained to the ground.
The fourth mural has been violated recently, it would seem; piercing out from the shadow over Azalea's head, two burning red eyes have been crudely drawn.
((See Appendix a. - Rouse's Discovery))
Items to find:
- Cheap clothing strewn about the prayer room.
- cheap jewellry and some copper pieces from the Lost Soul trio's cache.
- A chance of finding any number of Armor, weapons or trinkets which may be discovered in any crypt. Up to the GM's discretion.
- If the PC's investigate the dried fountain, they have a chance of finding a dropped set of prayer beads with a golden chain within it's basin, possibly enchanted, and definitely worth some coin.
The Living Forest
After having found the map showing the location of the cave in the forest, the PC's may enter it. The cave is a good day's travel away and though they may have a minor encounter or two, the trip is surprisingly uneventful - although the flesh-filled forest is very unnerving. At some stage they will decide they must rest for the night and so they will unpack their sleeping arrangements and slumber. Ideally, they will have a watch set, though.
A couple of hours before dawn, whichever PC is on watch duty will hear the sound of heavy, slow footsteps. He will have just enough time to rouse the party from their sleep before something steps from the north into the clearing of their encampment.
Appearing somewhat like the Demonic Sawyer but far more monstrous, this creature could have been an Azalean once. Standing a couple heads higher even than Raun's transformation left him, this Demonic Lost Soul has prominent scaling on it's skin, Spikes adorn much of it's back in a porcupine-like manner, and it's tail is thickened and boasts a club-like nodule. There is an immense amount of heat generating from this creature - so much so, that the footprints it leaves on the ground turns grass to ash.
The beast will pause for a moment at the outskirts, seeing that the party had been wakened, and it will speak in a gutteral voice, 'You get too close; The master has been pulling the strings far too long to have them snipped by you!'
This battle will be fierce; while weaponless, the creature is agile and it has many natural weapons in the form of teeth, nail-like claws and a clubbed tail to attack with. In addition, it will use it's spiked back in much the same way as a porcupine, offering a barbed, nearly impenetrable defense when things get dicey - although it cannot protect itself fully. In addition to this, halfway through the fight a second Demonic Lost Soul will charge into the clearing from the south, using it's arms to help it runÂ and lowering it's head so that the spikes on it's head and neck are jutting forward.
This battle will be difficult for the PC's. Though the creatures individually are not quite as threatening as the Sawyer (As the sawyer had his axe and was more intelligent than these beasts), the two of them together will make this a more challenging encounter.
After they manage to dispose of the demons, they may either continue travelling, or rest up - either way they will not be attacked again and will soon find the cave.
Path of Infinite Sadness/Reliquary of the Fallen Angel
The cave entrance itself is a pretty unimpressive thing. Merely a stony hole in the side of a rocky outcrop. It has a gentle slope downwards and is wide enough to fit a half-dozen men abreast, with room for their heads plus more. The cave continues on for quite a long time, always sloping down in a slowly curving direction. After an uneventful time of spelunking, they will eventually come across a fairly straight tunnel which stretches for perhaps 150 feet. Thick, fleshy roots, pulsating with visible veins have pierced through the roof and walls of this tunnel - presumably the roots of many trees above, although they have certainly travelled deep to breach this rocky cave. The roots are so numerous and thick that the far side is hardly visible at all - It appears that it will be a tough slog to get through them. If the group is very observant, and decides to have a proper look ahead, they will see what appears to be a couple of Azalean corpses tangled in the vines halfway through.
If one of the PC's gets the bright idea to cut their way through these roots, they will find that with the first swing of their blade the roots will be cleaved easily - and splatter a generous portion of thick, black blood all over the attacker, plus anyone else very close. The blood is thick, warm and sticky; hard to remove, and anyone who was touched by it will - over the course of the next minute or two - begin lapsing in a state of deep melancholy. A sadness so deep and numbing will afflict them, and tears will begin to run, unbidden, down their cheeks. In the next few minutes it will get to the stage where they will do -anything- to stop feeling the sorrow anymore; including self harm. If the other PC's do not restrain their blood-splattered comrades in time, they will attempt to commit suicide - whether by slitting their wrists, or piercing their hearts, or just bashing their heads in on the rocky walls of the tunnel. If the unafflicted PC's manage to restrain their friends, they will be able to save them by removing their blood-stained clothes and washing away the blood using water from their flasks. If no water is available, the dirt on the cavern floor will help to scrub away the worst of it. After several minutes of being cleaned of the blood, the PC's will begin to feel more like themselves and the party can carry on. They may slowly and carefully ease their way past the vines without breaking their skin, and using a lot of patience they can reach the other side without incident. When they get closer to those two dead bodies,they will see that the Azaleans have in fact been splattered with the blood as well, and had hung themselves on the roots. Finally, not long after getting through the roots, the PC's will enter a large chamber, deep beneath the earth.
Azalea and Zalentoah
Upon entering this last chamber, the PC's will notice that the center of it has a faint, sourceless blueish glow, casting an eerie light on a boulder set in the middle of it. Seated on this boulder is Azalea - Fallen Angel of creation and Life-Shaper no more. The celestial bieng is naked, it's wings hung loosely, draped upon the ground. His hands are resting on his bowed head and centuries of tears have formed bloodied crevasses running down his cheeks. Bound to his wrists are chained bracers which connect to the boulder he is on. His head is bald and PC's will notice blackened, veinous lines pulsing along his crown, penetrating his skin and boring into his skull. There appears to be nothing more to this room at this stage, and the PC's may enter and attempt to rouse the Angel. Any words spoken to Azalea will be ignored however, and the Angel will simply mutter over and over things such as 'My love. My life. I have sent you to your grave.' or 'I am alone forever. This cold rock is all I deserve.'Â
'He does not hear you...'
an unearthly voice echoes in the chamber, and the shadows at the side of the chamber coalesce into a creature roughly human-sized, but kept mostly hidden by the dark.
'He is so deep within his own sorrow that all outside influence simply does not get through. The great Azalea the life-shaper, brought down by his own ilk, to this.' The devilish voice sounded of genuine regret, and the creature took a couple steps forward into the light to place his hand on Azalea's head. The evil presence looked much like a human would - if the skin were stripped off of one. Thin and spindly, with ever-bleeding exposed flesh dripping a constant supply of blood onto the ground. A full set of wings hang broken and useless, dragging behind him like a macabre cloak, also made of only of bone and flesh. The only conclusion that could be made about this beast was that it was NOT a demon. It was, in fact, of Azalea's own breed. The monster corrupting Azalea was an Angel.
'He and I are alike, ' Whenever the Angel opened his mouth, globules of blood spill down his torso onto the ground, 'Brothers in arms; though he is much younger than I. We both were torn down from our rightful place for mixing ourselves in the affairs of mankind. He, for loving a mortal. I, for teaching man of war.' The bloodied creature steps in front of Azalea and glowers at the party, 'My fallen bretheren is a shell; I am using him to remake this world into one more suited for us. And I will not have you halt my work.' With that remark, Zalentoah the Fallen Angel will attack
This battle should pose a real challenge for the party. Zalentoah is an ancient entity, stripped of it's celestial status and thrust to earth centuries ago. Known as the master of manipulation; he is largely responsible for whispering hatred for one another in the ears of mankind, and starting many wars before written history. Although he has lost much of his power due to being cast out from the heavens, he is still formidable. Zalentoah may infiltrate the minds of the PC's, creating flawless illusions and often confounding the PC to the state where he will either attack one of his own friends, or make no action for fear of doing just that. In addition, he is a master of magics, able to summon fire and ice, and although he carries no weapon, he has a godly strength, and can tear limbs with his bare hands. He may also use his broken wings, flourishing them to knock back and stun any opponents trying to get a sneak attack in behind him.
To help the PC's out, they may notice that Zalentoah gives Azalea a wide berth with attacks and if anyone is near him, he will take great care not to accidentally damage the weeping angel. Zalentoah needs Azalea to continue his terraforming, and as such will defend him fiercely. PC's can use this to their advantage by actually trying to attack Azaleah, and anticipate Zalentoah's defensive counter, attacking where he will appear.
In addition, if the PC's managed to learn Zalentoah's true name from the Raun the Sawyer, they may speak it aloud at this time. Zalentoah will be visibly rocked by the mention of his name, and be slowed and unable to use his Confusion mind control effects anymore.
Once Zalentoah is defeated he will slump to the ground, next to Azalea, grabbing the chains binding him and wrenching them, breaking him free. As a final act of malice, the Fallen angel will implore to Azalea, speaking both aloud and into his mind; 'Brother... the Order has come back for you - they seek... to ki.. kill you.' Zalentoah will slump to the ground, finally dying. But at the suggestion implanted in Azalea's mind, the Angel will roar and leap off the boulder. 'The Order! You killed my Nazrem! I will die on my feet!' The maddened Azalea will swing fists at the PC's, his twisted mind seeing only the angels who banished him. Unless the PC's have completed (Appendix a. Rouse's Discovery), the only course of action available to the group at this time, sadly, is to slay Azalea. If they have completed Rouse's Discovery, they may be able to save the Angel ((See Appendix a. Alternate Ending)).
Azalea is not powerful. He is weakened by mourning and centuries of inaction. His punches are only as powerful as a human's, and he has no special abilities. He will never give up, though, and cannot be incapacitated - he may only be killed.
Items to find in Path of Infinite Sadness/Reliquary of Fallen Angels.
Â - An exotic looking shortsword may be found on the corpse of one of the suicide victims tangled in the roots. In addition, some small goods and coins could be found in their pockets.
Â - Celestial Shackles. On inspection, Zalentoah did not break the shackles, only opened them with his wrench. These shackles are enchanted to hold any Angelic or Demonic creature at bay and to restrict use of any powers that creature may have.
Â - A simple chain necklace, found around the neck of Zalentoah's corpse. Being known as the manipulator, the Angel's necklace will increase the persuasion skills of anyone wearing it dramatically, making people far more likely to be manipulated. However, it does come at a price - sometimes, the wearer may hear the voice of Zalentoah in his head, clawing at his mind, trying to coerce the wearer into letting the Angel into their thoughts. It seems the Fallen Angel may not be quite as dead as once thought...
Wrapping it up
Once Azalea and Zalentoah are dead, the blight will stop expanding.Â However, all damage which has already been done will never be able to be undone. The Fields of Flesh will stand forever, a cancer on the world. It is best for the PC's not to mention to the townsfolk of Poxxin that they slew their god - they will either be met with disbelieving laughter or outright hatred at the thought.
The PC's may now leave the Fields of Flesh and return to whoever gave this quest to them for their just rewards.
Just beware the chain necklace found on Zalentoah's corpse; for if the Fallen Angel were ever to take control of the wearer, he would once again have a hand-hold in this world.
Background Information, History and GM tools
Appendix A: Using your brain!
PC's are able to bustle through this Scenario without much thought,
strongarming everything which comes in their path and saving the day by
slaying the Fallen Angel and Euthanizing the Azalea. However, this plot is
designed to reward those who think through their situation and realize
that sometimes the best way is not always the easiest way.
Using a bit of intelligence and insight will grant the PC's greater reward and give them tactics for an easier end fight than just charging through this campaign.
Â * Myths and Legends
If the right questions are asked to the townsfolk they can get snippets of the story. If they ask of any legends or myths they will get three vague stories.
Â - One of a master of the dead creating this land as an endless supply of body parts long ago, and now this place has been left to grow on its own.
Â - One of an Angel who loved a mortal woman, but when his brethren found out they slew the woman and cast the angel out to the mortal plane, chaining him in a cave to lament until judgement day.
Â - There is a story of vicious demon who ravaged this land centuries ago, and the Fields of Flesh were his domain. Only by tricking the demon into giving away his name - as knowing the name of angels and demons granted some power over them - could humans use it against him to strip it of enough of it's power to destroy him.
Â * Ixxil
If instead of fighting Ixxil, the PC's run into the streets and cause a racket, they will waken the townsfolk who will chase Ixxil out of town for the PC's, eliminating the need to fight the Lost Soul at all. As a gesture of thanks for sparing Ixxil's life, the Azalean's brother will allow the PC's to enter Ixxil's store and take a couple of items to help them out. Most of the items in the man's store are generic and not of too much value, but if the PC's search beneath the counter, they will find a belt made of a shimmering material. When worn in the dark, this belt gives off a soft, green glow, lighting up the darkness.Â Â
Â * Auction House!
If they are smart enough to get a bidding war started in the main
street, theÂ PC's could find themselves being offered sums of gold or even
jewelry or magical items for their wood. Just be sure to save a little for the smith so he'll open up!
Â * The Demon Sawyer
Though it's tempting to kill the Sawyer (especially using the automated saw which should be tantalizingly described by the GM) the Lumber Mill contains many devices which can be used to capture the Sawyer without killing him. There are many chains hanging everywhere for binding the sawyer, tangling him up. The PC's may also pin him under fallen logs by loosing hanging flesh-logs at the right moment onto him. Additionally there is the broken floor revealing the cellar with the fallen staircase, leaving no way up. They would be able to knock the Sawyer down there without killing him. If the Sawyer is captured, not killed, he will Scream out, spittle and flecks of blood flying at the PCs, 'Zalentoah, Kill them! KILL THEM! ZALENTOAH, KILL THEM! KILLTHEMKILLTHEMKILLTHEMKILLTHEM!'
Zalentoah is name which will be very handy to know later on in the scenario.
Â * Rouse's Discovery
In the crypt beneath the keep, if Mull and Podd are killed before Rouse, she will seem to give up hope - just dropping her hands at her side and standing there, ready to die. PC's may choose to slay her or spare her. If they choose to spare her, they will find that she has no more fight in her, and may be communicated with.
Questions/Answers for Rouse the Lost SoulWhy have you stopped Fighting?
'I am done for anyway. You just killed the only people who accept me; they were beasts, and so am I!'
In regards to her not acting like a typical, crazed Lost Soul;
'I did turn, once. I hungered for all flesh and cared naught for anything; even my own father! But I met someone, and she managed to lift the haze off me... sort of. I now know what I do is wrong, but I still have the urge to kill!'
In regards to who she met;
'You won't believe me, but it was a ghost! I found her in the mountains when I was in a frenzy, looking for human meat, and she saw that I had become crazed and somehow managed to lift the fog from my eyes and make me see what I was truly doing. She told me that she was a shadow chained as punishment for corrupting the incorruptable. She wouldn't go into any more detail though!'
In regards to her father/Azalea/The Murals in the Keep/religion;
'Fagh! My father used to talk about Azalea the perfect! I used to explore these ruins before I turned, and I found these murals. I told him all about the story it showed - of the Angelic Order slaying his love because it was forbidden for an Angel to interact with Mortal kind, and then chaining him beneath the earth. My dad shunned me for this. He refused to believe in what I had to say, and he would not come to the ruins to see this. I found more proof, too, but I soon lost my mind after!'
What was this extra proof?
'I was exploring the mountains to the south of here. One evening while climbing, I came across an old path which led me up to the very plateau where Azalea's lover was sacrificed! This is where I found the lady who helped me.'
Where is the plateau?
'I can do more than tell you where it is. I can show you!'
Location: Hill Plateau.
Rouse will take the PC's out of the ruins and head almost directly south. After some hours of travel, the group will start entering a mountainous terrain, and Rouse will take them to a well-hidden path which ascends to enter a foreboding plateau which overlooks nearly the entirety of the Fields of Flesh. Stone monoliths arise in a circle around a single, stone-carved altar. The trees are all dead around this area - only the bones remain, jutting up wickedly from the earth. Before the PC's enter the ring though, Rouse will stop. 'I won't go back in there. I think the ghost lady will be angry that I showed you this place. I am going to go, now - thank you for sparing me!' With that, Rouse will turn and make her way back down the mountain.
As soon as the PC's enter the circle of stone, a shadow will materialize over the Altar, coalescing into the outline of a female. PC's will notice two shadowy threads linking the shade's wrists to the altar below her.
'Ah, the ilk of Azalea. Come to mock my fate, manlings? That I must stay here and see the life flow from within you is a thorn in my side!' The Shade will try to float towards the PC's, but the threads tying her to the altar holds her tight.
Questions/Answers for the Shade
Â Who are you?
'Ah, a most obvious question. I was once named Nazrem. This name will do once more.'
Â Why are you here?
'Because I was put here, of course.'
Â What for?
'For doing something wrong.'
Â What did you do wrong?
'You do not quit, do you? Many, MANY years ago, I loved an Angel. And he loved me back. For this, I was put to death and he was cast from the heavens and chained for eternity.'
Â But why are YOU still here?
'The Seraphim did not believe death was enough of a punishment for me. So they decided to chain me also. I will speak no more of my past! Ask me something different, manlings!'
Â Where did the Fields of Flesh come from?
'I cannot be certain, but it seems to be a power not unlike that of my former lover, Azalea - he was one of several beings that had power to shape flesh, you see. Something dark must have consumed him to create such a horrific place, though - Azalea loved the world as it was; this is not something he would have willingly created.'
Â Where is Azalea chained?
'Hah! You think they would tell me that? No, I do not know. Somewhere in the woods, I would say.'
Once the PC's have asked all the questions they need from Nazrem, they may turn to leave. Before they go, however, the Shade will cry out to them once more, 'Wait! Before you leave, there is a favour you can do for me. Please, destroy this Altar. Set me free - I swear I will not harm you. I wish only to be able to leave this place.'
The if the PC's decide to destroy the altar they will be able to break it with any heavy-handed weapon; or if none is available a sturdy boulder from nearby may do the trick. When they manage to destroy the altar, the threads connecting it to the shade will disappear. Without a word, Nazrem will float down to the ground and scoop up a small mound of earth. She will motion to the closest PC to hold out his or her hands, and pour the earth into it. 'Azalea gave me a fraction of his power. Should you happen to meet with him, you may show him this. He will know that it means I have forgiven him.' When the PC looks back down into his or her hand, they will find not dirt, but a ring of bone, twisted oddly and intricately carved.'
Â * Alternate ending:
After Azalea has been broken free and awakened, there is only one way to stop him without slaying him. If the PC's yell out Nazrem's name and show Azalea the ring, the Fallen angel will stop in his tracks and gasp. Shuddering with barely controlled emotions, he will pluck the ring from the PC's hand and study it. 'Nazrem... My sweet.' Azalea will look up, the tears in his eyes suddenly drying up. 'An engagement band,' He explained, 'I had given one to her, but she had not decided on whether to accept and give me one back.' He smiled - lips cracking at a gesture not made in centuries, 'She says 'yes'. I know she is gone, but her love remains.'
Azalea will step back and look up to the roof of the cave. He is once again himself - broken from his ancient reverie. 'There has been much wrongness done here. I must seek to fix it - but it will take time. I shall remain here for some more years to undo what my brother has done. And then, I shall move on. Thank you; you are all truly great examples of your races, and I would bestow on each of you an item as gift. Tell me what you need.' Using his shaping abilities, Azalea will be able to make an exceptional quality item for each of the PC's as reward out of the very earth beneath his feet. The group now has a chance to say whether they would like a piece of armor, a weapon or otherwise - the quality of the items are up to the GM's discretion, but they should be powerful, equivalent to the level of the group - after all, they earned it for playing the game smarter, not harder.
After this ending, the PC's may return to Poxxin victorious, letting the townsfolk know that the group has saved their god and the curse of the Fields of Flesh will be broken. Additionally, they may return to their employers for additional reward. Over the course of the next three years, the field of flesh will recede. The people of Poxxin will return to human shape, and all Lost Souls will be redeemed. It truly is a fairy-tale ending. Congratulations!
New Items found:
Â - One magical item for each PC, based on what they need or require.
Appendix B: General notes:
- In the Crypt of the Ruined Keep PC's may find undead - the restless dead arisen once more by demonic energies permeating through the soil They will be garbed in ancient armor, and wield great, two-handed swords which - when not being swung furiously - are being dragged roughly across the ground. Also, any number of traps may be sprung here. The ancient owners of the keep didn't want just anyone pilfering their crypts!. GM's may pick their favourite traps and lay them out!
- The questions and answered shown in this post are not all that can be asked of the people in the plot - they are merely what I think likely questions would be, plus most of them contain information relavent to the story. Feel free to add your own answers or modify them to your own campaign.
- Adding random, small encounters to this scenario may add some extra wealth to it. I have tried to keep mostly major or significant encounters in the storyline to cut back on reading time but there are minor scenes which would be fun to add in.
Â -Â The same goes inside scenes: Feel free to add an encounter with a cave bear, or any other cave-like minor encounter that you wish at the entrance of the cave; I thought that after their ordeal the night before it would be unkind to set more troubles on them so soon, but some GM's are just naturally cruel! :)
Â - I tried to keep this plot as system-free as possible, but I think some +1's and such snuck in there. Feel free to adapt to your system.
Â - The same goes with Angels/Demons; if your world doesn't include these creatures, feel free to substitute them into anything that is suitable.
- the most obvious use of this plot is as an epic quest given from some leading body; but the Fields of Flesh could simply have consumed the road which PC's are taking to get from one place to another - they can choose to walk straight through it, or solve the mystery behind it. They could be travelling by boat and end up capsizing near the sawmill like the other boatsman; have them start off at the mercy of the Sawyer and work their way back through the town from there. There are many opportunities to use some or most of this in many scenarios.
Appendix C: The History of Azalea the Lifeshaper:
An angelic bieng of great power; Azalea was one of the Angels responsible for deciding the shape of mankind. He was not the only holy creature which decided this (So as to fit into other religious stories currently in your campaign). Azalea cared greatly for the creatures he helped to shape, and when he saw them suffering, he wept because he could do nothing; for the holy laws set down by the divine one stated that Angels should not have direct influence.
One day, while scrying the earth, Azalea saw a horrific scene; a keep had been ransacked by invading barbarians who had slaughtered many of it's inhabitants. As he watched from ahigh, he saw a beautiful woman flee into the crypts below the keep, chased by a dozen men. Their intentions were obvious when they cornered her in the prayer room and tore her clothes from her. Unable to bear inaction any longer, Azalea broke divine law and descended from the heavens. Using his symbolic greatsword a cleaved a path through the entire invading horde and entered the crypt. Just before the woman could be defiled, Azalea broke through the door, his presence a blinding ray of light, and he slew the rapists.
Being on the mortal plane, Azalea gained human emotions, and the sight of this beautiful, half-naked woman who was watching him with awe and desire overwhelmed him; he instantly fell for her. They made love then and there, and when the deed was done, they lay together for hours, Azalea telling the the woman - who's name was Nazrem - about who he was, and his divine duties. Azalea left, then, returning to the high heavens and Nazrem spread word of the Angel to her kin within the keep.
All was not well, though, and the Order; the leading body of Angels, had watched what had happened. They cast Azalea in celestial chains and bore him back down to earth, where a group of four Angels - Goleah, Urial, Mezzendolah and Porthes, stole Nazrem from the keep. They took both Angel and human - along with several keep dwellers as witness - and Chained Nazrem to an altar on a plateau overlooking the land. There, they slew her, allowing her blood to drain onto the soil while Azalea watched. They then took Azalea and the witnesses to a cave, deep under the ground, where they chained him for all eternity to repent for his sin.
Mezzendolah, the leader of the group, turned to the witnesses and spoke, 'Observe and pay heed to this stern warning, mortal kind; Thus is the price for treading on divine law. Spread the word and let all know that no good shall come of defiling the divine.'
The keep dwellers spread the word. Murals were drawn depicting the tragic tale of Azalea and his tale was spread around, eventually turning into myth and legend, rather than history. Yet still, Azalea waits; The weeping Fallen Angel sits and prays for the end of all time.
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There may be grammatical errors and some a couple formatting mistakes in this post at the moment; I apologize and I will have a proper proof-read of it tomorrow, but it's nearly midnight here and I just got it finished and really wanted to put it out there, so here it is! :) Happy reading!
I love this. People eating trees, a cliche enchanted forest, a chained god, and even rewards for smart players! This gets the caesar193 seal of approval.
Update! I have added Appendix C, and gave a brief history of the Fallen Angel, Azalea. I might consider making a seperate sub about Zalentoah at a later date.
Update: Fixed a couple of minor grammatical and inconsistency issues. There's probably more in there, but I can't spot them just now! :p
Hot damn! I loved the poem at the beginning, and was really getting creeped out at the descriptions of the landscape. The middle section, describing the town and the interactions therein, was less energetic, but that's just an issue with resting-points in general. I especially like the second half, and the fact that the entire plot is seeded with extra ways to benefit from fighting smarter, not harder. The alternate ending was nice, and a good way to round it all out for those parties that wish to always have happy endings.
All in all, I was quite happy with this. My one possible complaint is that there wasn't much example given of altered wildlife, which doesn't jive with how thoughtful you were with the rest of the ecology.
Don't you think adding more details would make this less accessible to GMs?
Depends on the details added. If shadoweagle added a couple of physical traits, or perhaps said that all the animals became sharp-toothed monstrosities, it wouldn't make it less useable.
Ooh! Idea: herbivores are made into omnivores, and omnivores into carnivores
While I understand your point, Axle, the beauty of adding details to subs is that the GM can choose to ignore them and do whatever the hell he wants :D
I did have a few ideas still drumming around the ol' noggin in regards to mutations for some different creatures and the ecology of the entire place. I may expand on them and add them in appendix b. in the next couple days, where the GM has them at his disposal if he does so wish, but does not have to use them if he doesn't want to. In fact, i may make an appendix d. which will be all about the ecology of the place; and Strolenites may feel free to add their own user-submitted ideas to expand on the ecology.
I'm thinking things from small to big, from ants stripping away the skin of trees, to snakes with massive, tooth-filled mouths which have adapted to have a very human-like skin to hide amongst the branches above, waiting to snap down at humans walking by, to bands of rabid foxes which, individually are not an issue, but in large numbers will pose a very serious threat. Leave it with me for a bit and i'll add to this sub. Perhaps after christmas.
Shadoweagle, I don't think I had a good point. You are right a GM can chose to take or ignore what they wish. I think you are also right giving GM other tools that they will have at their disposal will actually make things more accessible. I think your comment implies an excellent point, what makes RPGs special is that you can lift up a random rock in an RPG and the world goes on. RPGs perhaps have a depth that can't be reach in other medias such as video games or movies. I look forward to more details. And I will never accept or make the 'more details will make this less accessible argument again!'
After reading this, I would only add more details.
Freaking awesome! This is the type of sub of like and its what my own corpsefall sub tried and failed to achieve.
Well done, any added details I would use linked subs.
WOW. I want to play this, not read it. The alternate, smart ways to accomplish the different scenarios were awesome. Got a great feel of the land and town. Almost like watching a horror story unravel. Outstanding!
The sawmill was intense.
Damn, this will well thought out.
I took some notes as I read.
-Will the PCs be able to get maps or histories of the land prior to the blight from sources outside the Blight?
-What do the neighbors of the Blight think, have they been raided, by what
-The guy with his back turned to you eating noisely and he turns to reveal black dead eyes and fangs. This has been done to much, I'd have to change it if I used it this.
-What would a metaphysical investigation of the land determine, detect evil, or detect magic spell and if not a s spell system then what does astral shifting reveal, are their ghosts roaming around?
-So can you talk to these 'plants' using magic or forestry abilities?
-How will these people respond to mind control or jedi mind trick type things?
-Can they burn coal or peat?
-The opened ended nature to the PCs is awesome, the sad innkeeper is my favorite.
After this point I got so caught up in the story, I stopped talking notes. This adventure is not exactly my style, and I say that not complain or annoy, but I hope that it will add weight to my personal observation that I have not read anything better than this at the citadel. This is so complete and well organized that I am really jealous. Thank you for writing this, thank you for the appendixes and so on. Thanks for pushing me to read it with your vote exchange.
Thanks Axle - that means a lot considering this website is full of quality content!
As for your questions and comments; they are all valid, and I hadn't actually considered most of them. It goes to show that there is no end to the detail which can be put in a sub, especially when other people's views are put on it.
All of the content of this sub is flexible, depending how the GM would like to shape their game. If the PC's have the forethought to ask for a map, i'm sure they could find an ancient scrawling in a dusty library showing the former lay of the land.
I don't know that the natives of the Fields of Flesh would raid neighbouring towns, but then it's not unthinkable. More likely, the neighbours will have horrible tales of ferocious creatures and monsters seen along the border.
The cliche 'first-zombie/monster encounter' is indeed overused, and you may omit it at your leisure :D
I think the land would have a wild neutrality to it, and perhaps only a taste of evil. It is not Zalentoah, the 'evil' one making the changes, rather he is manipulating the power of another angel to make the changes. It would definitely be an abberation though - something against nature. Druids etc would feel like they have walked into a world gone mad.
Ghosts etc... i'm not sure. Maybe!
I suppose talking to the plants would be possible with correct spells etc... though all that would be heard is lunacy. The land itself has gone insane.
Mind control etc, will probably work just as well as it will on normal people.
Peat and coal. Oh yeah :D I actually hadn't considered it. Still, probably valuable commodities and worth a pretty penny to them.
Thanks for the read! :D
Shadoweagle, this is the first submission I've read here on Strolen's and it's a wonderful piece of work. I fully intend to make use of it in my own campaign, with suitable modification to fit within my current plot. The Angel will be able to provide them a way home from this world, instead of gifting them with magical items (of which they have plenty).
My only suggestions would be to pull this into Word or some other editor, and correct some of the little spelling and/or grammatical errors. Some of the other suggestions here are good as well, and unfortunately, I don't have any others that don't involve making the whole thing thing too specific.
Again, great plot.
The alternate ending for smart players was a nice touch, and I enjoyed the angelic backstory. I wonder at the ending, though. Azalea may have been freed in the end, but what of the other angels? I find it hard to believe that the party could break his chains without attracting the attention of some other powerful beings . . .
My first thought while reading this: Damn, I wish I had the video game. My second: If I keep reading I will already know what happens and I can never be the player who gets to explore this place. My third: Screw it, I need to know what's happening.
I was not disappointed.
I wish I had more to add to the discussion but the other comments have all said what I wanted to and more. I too would love to see a bestiary; when is this happening? ;)
Your descriptions are great and the concepts excellent. Your mind must be a twisted place!
Good Stuff. Between the well laid out scenarios and the alternate endings, this has a lot of stuff to offer. If I use it I might modify the plotline to happen over a smaller timeframe (the fields are a new occurrence) but that's a personal preference, not a criticism.
While I was basking in the afterglow of this mighty fiction, was reminded of a loosely related set of ideas from R.I.F.T.S. which might provide some other useful material for this story's filler... if someone was inclined to adapt it. The book is called Wormwood, their first Dimension Book supplement, and details an entire living planet... to be honest, i thought the imagery in your piece to be more horrifical (which is good!) in its ambiance than theirs, and it's mostly the weird symbiotes and other life forms from Wormwood that i thought might work well here!
Thanks again for such an interesting and entertaining read!
This one is truly exceptional.