The city of Sadaren sets upon the shore of a lake, effectively securing water for the city. However, trade here is small, for the rivers one would expect to feed such a lake are not present here. The lake is fed from a handful of underground springs, and though there are many acres of tilled lands surrounding it, a days travel in any direction from the lake will land one in mountainous, rugged terrain.
The city itself is not impressively large, and has an average of 15 000 to 25 000 people in any given generation, depending on how the wars have gone recently. The streets are broad and generally cleanly, though, oddly, the main street of the city is a great spiral, linked by cross streets like the spokes of a wheel, with the palace at the center of the spiral. As the city has expanded over the years, so has the length of the road, the spiral ending where it would go into the lake, but always picking up againg where it would exit if it was unbroken.
The ruling family here bears the name of the city, and are relatively unique against the surrounding nations in giving hereditary rulership to the female line, rather than to the male. The Queen is often referred to as the Matriarch, though the titles are generally interchangeable here. Her Prince Consort is generally an accomplished warrior, although wizards and priests are not unknown, and there are no qualifications to ascend to the position, other than fertility and the favor of the Matriarch. The current Matriarch is Saria, and it is unfortunate for the people of Sadaren that she is not a particularly competant ruler. She tries her best, however, the more delicate parts of politics and the economy lie just beyond the grasp of her warrior's mind. Her husband, Ayan, is mystically inclined, and she often defers to his judgement, which is usually more balanced than hers. Her heir-apparant, Crysta, shows great promise, despite being only 16, and though she keeps it a secret, Queen Saria plans to abdicate to the eldest of her three daughters once she has come of age.
With its mountains providing a difficult to penetrate defense, the Matriarchs of Sadaren never felt terribly at risk when sending armies into the outside world, and it was frequent that they would conquer their neighbors, but be unable to hold cities for any real period of time. They had persisted in this fruitlessness for centuries, but now it has ended.
Something has awoken in the caverns deep beneath Sadaren, something dark and vile. Its first act was to curse the water of Sadaren, so that those who drink of it forget that there is an outside world to escape to. Beyond the mountains, after all, there is nothing but the edge of the world and death. It's next act was to begin the creation of an army. Feeding off fear and suffering, the demonic creature twists the natural animals of the land, turning them into horrible, corrupted parodies of life, and it is these creatures he has turned against first the outlying farms, and then the city itself. Those who fall against them rise again, in a sickening parody of unlife, to torture and consume friends and family. For five years now, the people of Sadaren have been fighting a losing battle against the forces of the demon, and Saria and Crysta would do anything to put and end to him. Unfortunately, it is not easy for mortal man to do battle with an elder demon, and without help, Sadaren is doomed within the next two generations.
Suitable for both epic and lower level campaigns, Sadaren provides an environment with a clear cut good guys and bad guys. It's better suited to a combat oriented group than a political intrigue group, and because of this 'clear cut' nature of the setting, it's probably best that adventurers visit, do something, and leave... and don't drink the water.
Lower level campaigns should concentrate on defeating knots of the undead and corrupted creatures, saving farmer families, and the like. PCs may also be asked to aid the princess in arming herself with specific weapons of legend to fight the demon.
Alternatively, PCs could be sent into the kingdom by neighbors in order to find out what the hell's going on, and why the last 5 scouting parties didn't come back.
Epic level campaigns can descend into the tunnels beneath the city, and confront the demon. An elder demon of great power, this will be no lightly accomplished task. At least one PC or important NPC with the party should probably die during the fight, and rise up within 1d4 turns as a revanant or lich-equivalent undead creature, and turn against his companions. Should his physical form be defeated, Sadaren will be granted one millenia of respite from the curse of the lake, and the animating force behind all the undead will fail. The corrupted will still need cleansed from the land, however, their victims will no longer rise up and fight. The demon has memory of this happening 5 times, and there may be powerfully armed, dead adventurers left to rise to his beckoning in the area of confrontation. To fully defeat the demon, the PCs must destroy the altar in the center of his underground citadel. The demon will, however, attempt to engage the PCs away from this altar, and will even attempt to keep them from learning of its very existance. If the alter is shattered, the demon will be freed of the things that bind it to this plane of existance, and will be forced back to the hellish dimensions where it belongs.
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? Responses (10)-10
Well, I'm not much for it, I think it's kind of boring and cliche. However, it is well-written and obviously thought-out, so I gave it a four out of five.
Obviously not enough transdimensional psudeopod horrors for Capt. Penguin's tastes.
The description of the city (citystate) is clear and adaptable to many campaigns. A set of nice solid plothooks for a GM to use. While we have seen this plot before (and come on... there are very few totally original ones out there) the changes in the setting can make this one interesting.
My landscape type knowledge is only common sense, but if this is only a small area surrounding by mountains...well...floods come to mind immediately. Although, depending on the size of the lake, it could be a reason for the spiral. The spiral could be used to funnel all the flood waters, melting snow, etc., into the lake which acts as a 'drain.' As the city expands they expand the flood preventing drain spiral. You could say that the lake never increases or decreases in height regardless of the amount of rain put into it or drought that comes to the land.
Could use this as the basis for evil starting to invade the outside world as well. At the command of a great demon maybe they can finally conquer those surrounding lands...and move on from there. This setting could be the Mordor of a campaign world.
Overall I like the setting and it is easy enough to fit in any gameworld. Even if you only use one idea or another from it and not as is, there are definately some good ideas brewing in Sadaren!
This a good adaptable setting, I like it. I personally enjoy the plots that go with, and the fact the you can easily change the depth of the story/campiagn.
I like the idea, but the water thing is a problem if you use this as a simple setting inside another, larger campaign. Everyone has to drink, and if they forget about the outside world when they drink, they won't even think that they are cursed, so they won't seek out a way to break the curse that they forgot they have(realistically). That would end up in a serious black hole of the world scenario.
Although, that could bring lots of interesting problems to a given spot. If nobody leaves, ever, but people still keep going into that area, the population is going to SKYROCKET to the point of complete saturation(and eventual self-destruction, probably from starvation and simple lack of space to move).
Remove the cursed water bit, and you've got a place that would make for quite a few interesting adventures. 4/5
I don't think it would skyrocket, as after a while people would realize that nobody comes back. I would think it was quarentined.
Very cool if the PCs were inside the city, solved the problem, then had to deal with the repercussions to their lives being gone for a couple of years - especially if they were important or on an important mission when they were passing through.
Wow, now this... is old. :D
Oldies but moldies. Quite frankly, I find this to be a fairly good sub. Seriously. Idea => A few interesting twists => usable in both low and high campaigns => Good Submission.
Heh, this was called old 10 years ago :)
I like it - its somewhat claustrophobic with the mountains and the curse. Simple plot, horror elements. Not bad!
You had me with the teaser. This is well written and an interesting start for any campaign, I was really taken with the clear and general descriptions on the city.