The party begins in the town of Gyber, an old and wealthy town whose name means "Gods Berries" in the old tongue, due to its many vineyards and olive orchards. A costal town, it has long been a trading hub due to its wide, southward, sheltered bay, the remnants of a long dead volcano, and its fertile fields. Most access the city by way of ship, as the lands surrounding the city quickly become arid wastelands, supporting only scrub grasses and cacti among the wind worn plateaus, making overland travel a survival challenge to all but the most expert.
As the party travels among the bazaar stalls examining fruits, salted oil scrubs, or the spring powered gadgetry that has recently been in vogue, they are approached by a middle aged man in fine, if plain light robes, wearing a tall and ridiculous hat. His face is red and he is covered in sweat from a long and unaccustomed day in the sun. He introduces himself as Malenetti, the assistant to the Seer of Gyber, a generations old seer, as each one has been able to pass their power to an heir, providing Gyber with a new fortune teller down through the generations. He has been tasked to seek out a group matching the party's description to aid the Seer in finding the new heir.
Malenetti leads the party to the Seer's estate, a modest palace, if such a thing can be, it is larger than the average house, with a cursory garden, but nothing on an obscene scale that would rival a person of noble birth. While it is not a large and sprawling estate, it is finely appointed. Flawless stones make up the buildings structures and pave the gardens, a couple of fountains not cast in gold, but crafted in bronze with exceptional workmanship, flowering bushes that are colorful, but not garish, and scent the air with a gentle note of beauty, rather than stink of overpowered perfume. In short, everything appears as if it happened to be perfect, rather than forced into place, a telling indication someone knew beforehand which thing would be best in its place.
After a moment to excuse himself to change into plainer clothing, the seer's assistant leads you into the chambers of the Seer. The Seer is an older man with balding white hair and milky irises apparently lounging in a deep bath, with the water covering him to his chest. Players may be able to make out something small swimming in the bathwater before he has the assistant cover the top with a sheet that was lying nearby. Such observations are cut short by an exasperated sigh from the Seer.
"You had to wear your hat to find them, didn't you Malenetti? You know I've made it clear I do not like that hat."
Malenetti sputters and blurts out an objection, "But, how could you know I wore it?"
The seer's assistant takes a step back in confusion. "You've been blinded by your sickness for months, how can you tell I'm sunburned?"
"You smell like roasted meat from the sun's punishment, beaming heat from your face, a heat that noticeable lessens when you bowed your head. You didn't burn your scalp because you wore that hat. When are you going to learn you can't hide things from a Seer?" With a weary sigh, he waves his hand, "But we are too old of friends to be squabbling over such things, and I am too close to death to be short of friends. You may keep your hat and wear it so that all might recognize you, as was your intention when you commissioned it. Now please, see them closer."
The seer’s assistant motions the party to fully enter the room, a fine meeting hall. It is spacious enough to hold court, but small enough to speak among a few friends without feeling lost in the room. Fine crystal glass covers adorn the candles, windows are draped in well-made layers of cloth, and behind the seer is an immense hourglass, at least several hand spans taller than a tall man. The hourglass was obviously not cheap, but the wooden framework supporting it is strikingly different, with cracks and splits, it seems ready to tumble apart at a moment’s notice.
"Greetings brave adventurers, I am Prousos, Seer of Gyber. I apologize for remaining in my bath, but I need it to treat my illness. I am dying of a blood sickness that has rendered me blind, and the leeches are the only things that treat my symptoms. I am not long for this world. In fact ... “he pauses to reach behind him. He grasps a worn handle on the frame of the hourglass and heaves it upward. The bulbous end raises upward and sand spills downward at the same time the frame gives way. The sides of the hourglass fall away in pieces but the glass remains upright and intact, resting on the flat base surrounded by the shrapnel of wood and brass fittings.
"That is the last turning of the hourglass in my life. It measures out a week at a time, and by the time the last grain falls, I will be dead. I need your help in locating the new Seer. Do not fret yourself; you will be compensated for your time. You will each be awarded a fortune when you return with the new Seer, but you must hurry. My life is ending and his is in danger. I know already he is a child without mother or father, but his location has so far been unseen to me."
The Seer turns to his assistant still hiding from the crash of the hourglass, "Malenetti, please make me some tea for a reading."
Malenetti shakes himself out of his cower, and hurries off to make the tea, muttering to himself 'how can he read the leaves when he can't see'.
Prousos smiles and whispers confidentially to the party when the assistant leaves, "I may be blind, but I am not blind to the forces that move the leaves."
The assistant returns shortly with a fresh kettle and a small porcelain cup, and sets them before the Seer. The Seer pours and drinks the tea, and then peers into the cup, his eyes seem to focus farther away, though they are still blinded.
"A stone ... rock ... a floating stone. That is where he is. You will find the new Seer in the wastelands north of here, by a floating rock." the Seer states after a moment, "Malenetti will see to it you are provided horses, for time is of the essence. I wish I could be more helpful, but I feel that understanding will come to you as you see it, that is the way of portents. I must rest now, my disease weakens me so."
The assistant shows the party out as the seer settles down into his bath, drained from the reading. Once he has shown the party to the stables, he whispers to them, "He may not survive your adventures in the wastelands, but you will still be rewarded. The city has long held council with the Seers of Gyber, and should he die without naming an heir, they have appointed me to assume his role post-humously. I will honor our debt to you in any case." Malenetti knows of no floating rocks, but suggests you look in the mining towns to the north. There are clear trails leading to them as a recent surge of "inventors" and "gadgetry" has caught the upper class, driving up the demand for metals beyond what could be imported.
On the trail to the mining towns, the party is joined for the night by a small group of hunters. The hunters are well equipped and dressed in well-made clothing the like of which is popular with minor noblemen visiting from other lands. They are drinking heavily and eager to hunt sport in the wastelands after hearing tales of large desert cats that blend into the sands and rocks. They drink into and perhaps through the night, and leave early, sparing their mounts nothing in their eagerness to hunt.
The first mining town the party arrives at sits at the base of a large plateau. The miners work under the plateau itself, digging out the bands of iron ore. The top of the plateau has a softer band of stone that has been scoured away by the sand and wind, giving the town its name "Stonecloud" as the top of the plateau appears to be floating above the rest. There are some dirty children in the town, but when asked about orphans, the miners know of only one. He was the son of a duelist who came to the mines to make a name for himself among the lawmen of the young town, but underestimated the need for lawmen. The duelist had no skill in mining, and was provoked by the lawmen into a fight so they could have an excuse to hang him. Dueling is a criminal offense in the wild town, and with no one to challenge their hold, the lawmen continued on in their duties to keep the mines open. The orphan boy worked the mines briefly to try to pay for his father’s burial, but only the adults are allowed to collect pay, so he was forced to become a scavenger for food, as was last seen just outside of town in a waste pit where all the towns refuse mix with the mines tailings.
As the party investigates the waste pit they may be able to spot the hunters in the area, overlooking the refuse from a hillside. About the same time the orphan is spotted; a large desert cat can be seen stalking the boy from a distance. The boy must be protected or will end up becoming nothing but incidental bait for the hunters sport.
The boy will agree to travel with the party, introducing himself as Beppi, eager if not to see the seer alone, to travel to Gyber at the very least, anywhere would be better for an orphan than the wastelands.
Outside of town on the path back to the seer, the party is assaulted by the hunters. They fight more like military men than hunters, and seem to be after the boy himself, rather than the party, for those of the party that might recognize the tactics of military men.
Once back in Gyber and safely at the seer's, the assistant sees the party and orphan into the Seer. He is seated on a luxurious wooden chair padded with cushions, wearing plain white robes with a yellow sash hanging over his shoulders. He smiles at the orphan boy as he enters and motions him closer. Behind the seer, the shattered hourglass is almost empty. The seer takes off the sash and places it over the boy's shoulders, the ends of it reaching to his ankles.
"This is nothing more than a way to be recognized as the Seer of Gyber when you are in the city. The power and responsibility of the Seer will be yours. I leave the fate of my assistant to you, as he is the one that sent out the assassins to kill you in the wastes. Use your power wisely. Now, I must rest." As he sits in the chair, the last grains of sand fall from the hourglass, and the old Seer dies.
If the party tries to turn on Malenetti, the boy Seer stops them with a voice that commands the respect of one beyond his age, the power of the Seer in him now. "It is not your destiny to slay a coward, and this man has yet to strike with his own hand. No, to see his fate, I will need to do a tea leaf reading."
Malenetti comes back with the pot of tea and places it before the boy Seer, but Beppi shakes his head as he looks at Malenetti and says, "I have no taste for tea, you drink it."
Malenetti's face flushes crimson with anger, but surrounded by the party, he pours the tea, and drinks it with a shaking hand, finishing the last gulps with a cough as he falls to his knees and dies of the poison he intended for the boy Seer.
"When will people learn you can't hide things from a seer?" Beppi says as he shakes his head in sadness.
The party will be indeed rewarded with a fortune. Rather than gold, Beppi the seer gives each a reading for their future, and for a significant event of some importance as well, not just they will meet a tall dark stranger. These fortune tellings could become the springboard to new adventures if the party decides to travel from Gyber or leave the despotic lawmen of Stonecloud unpunished.
This time it we have creative challenge.
Use the following freetext words and tie them all together in a single submission.
wastelands, hourglass, tea, duelist, blind, seer, criminal, scavanger, orphan, leech
There are no specific rules, however, you will loose creative points if you slap them all together like "The blind seer saw the scavanger through the secret hourglass in the wastlelands..."
Make sure to link your freetext in your submission! [freetext|wastelands]
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? Responses (12)
This would make an intriguing adventure to use as a seed for future adventures. Those final readings would be great teasers to drive the players crazy as they try to decipher them. Players trying to figure out what the GM is up to tend to generate good plot ideas on their own. :)
I would probably make a few changes to extend it and make the players feel less railroaded. Rather than give the players an easy clue about the mine, I would make them wander around town and the surrounding area; make them get to know the town and figure it out. Push the limits of the old Seer's life. I would add more of a plot around the attempts against Beppi, setting up a red herring to make the final revelation less predictable.
Having said that, I like this. It is creative, sets up an area to explore, has my mind working, and is a good quest sub.
Mm, I was thinking exactly MysticMoon's way - that this looked a bit too railroady for my tastes. The ratio of flavor text and exposition to plot is also quite high. In effect, there are only two incidents requiring any input from the party other than refusing to touch the scenario at all: finding the boy around the waste pit and fighting the hunters. There's a good framework here, but much less meat than I'd like.
I found the flavor text rather delicious, myself. I think it made the sub. While the plot could use some tweaking, the extra description is what saved it for me and made me run with the changes I suggested in my response.
I'm not saying the flavor text is bad; it's quite good. But a plot shouldn't be 80% flavor text and 20% plot. I don't think the plot needs tweaking so much as there needs to be about three times as much at least.
* How about the boy NOT automatically want to go with the party, or that there are some impediments to him leaving ... an indenture, the outstanding debt, an enemy of his father's, and they have to convince him or remove the impediment?
* How about dealing with the hunters in some other way (as the text infers) than killing them to the last man? Is the only way to reveal Malenetti's treachery to wait for the new Seer to spill it? Can they question the hunters? Deal with them, buy them off, evade them? Has the party any divinatory powers of their own?
I had considered some issues with the boy leaving, like being in debt for his fathers burial or other trumped up fees a corrupt wild west sorta town might drop on him, or being basically an indentured servant to the town store like debt bondage ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt_bondage ) but didn't have it fleshed out enough to get it in there coherently.
I do like your ideas about figuring out other ways to discover Malenetti's treachery, and it would help the pacing of the adventure instead of being ' Fetch the McGuffin! Fight! Fight! Twist! ' , it could Fetch, fight, Conflict Resolution (maybe fight), twist. It's a good idea, and I will devote some thought to it.
An interesting tale, but liek others have a said, bit rigid in it presenation and limting in the responses of the PC's in any given scenario. Perhaps as the recounting of a tale or as a prelude to the beginning adventures it could work well?
It is railroady, and I apologise for that. Plots are not my forte, item creation is. That I'm even getting a passing 3/5 is already better than I'd hoped and better than I remember most of my plots doing. Thank you for your comments, hopefully I can work it into something better in the future.
No need to apologize, the only way to get better at it is to practice, and this sub does have potential and is a great quality submission. (Hence the solid 3 rating )
I found to make adventure subs less "railroady" it works best to leave things loosely detailed and simply create the scene for the action to take place, or the event that unfolds for the characters to react to/interact with as they see fit without scripting a specific expected response from them. (Similar to how I presented the plot hooks in my shipyard quest sub)
This is better then okay - its linear, but then again a lot of published adventures are.
Nice job Agar!
I like it, though I do agree with others about the plot. It's not bad, but I think more of it would do better. Perhaps it was just the way the post was written, but it felt like the beginning and end lasted forever, while the middle flew by too fast to notice.
Perhaps something in the beginning that required the players to dig up the information, instead of getting it from the Seer (being so close to death might blind him more than his disease). Others have pointed out some good ideas.
However, I did like it immensely. My attention was kept by the whole thing and it made sense. It would benefit from being fleshed out, maybe given more complexity, but it's good and useful how it is.
It needs to be divided into sections to make for an easier read, as it stands it's just a huge wall of text.