Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ages of Lingusia: Journey through the Heartland of Octzel

The following material tied to the one Pathfinder campaign I ran for the Empire Era, but the charts below are easily used with any iteration of D&D, and can be lifted from easily enough to enhance any number of scenarios or locales as you desire. The locations described below all refer to the Eastern expanses of Octzel, the map of which can be found in the 10/16/11 blog posts. And now, for the adventure locations!

Octzellan Encounters – Ages of Lingusia 1,958 a.w.
   The following is a generic encounter chart when moving through the wilderlands of Octzel; specific encounters by location will follow.

Wilderness Encounter Chart
 Check: 16+ per 8 hours; 14+ at night (Roll D20 for check).
D20         Chart
1-15        Encounter Chart 1
16-20     Location Chart 2
D20         Encounter Chart 1 (+6 to roll if off-road/in remote wilderness)
1-3          caravan; 2D6 porters, 1D8 guards (level 1D3 each) 1D4 merchants and 1D6 family/servants
4              Pilgrims (4D6); 1D10: 1-2 to Enki; 3-4 to Amasyr; 5-6 to Seth; 7 to Mitra; 8 to Hellias; 9-0 evil god
5              local baron and his traveling entourage; 1D3 noblemen, 2D6 servants and 4D6 soldiers
6-7          wood elves (2D6); 1D8: 1-2 hunting party; 3-4 scouts; 5-6 raiders; 7-8 elf noble’s escort
8-9          humans (2D6); 1D8: 1-3 party of hunters/trappers; 4-6 bandits; 7-8 poachers
10-11     2D6 Avernan gypsies and 1D6 traveler’s wagons; 50% chance of a warlock present
12           Party of gnomes (1D8); 1D6: 1-3 on a quest; 4-5 merchants heading to a town; 6 bandits
13-14     Goblins! (2D8); 1D10: 1-4 raiders; 5-8 war party; 9-10 traders
15           Oread (1D2); 1D10: 1-4 war party; 5-6 hunting party; 7-8 seeking trade/info; 9-10 seeking gate
16           Ankhegs on the hunt (1D6)
17           Giant Ants! (3D8)
18           Krenshar hunting party (2D6)
19           Pack of 2D6 hunting wolves
20           Fire Drakes out hunting (1D3)
21-22     Orcish war/raiding party (2D6 raiders; 35% chance 4D8 war party with 2D6 wargs)
23-24     Hobgoblins: (2D6 raiders; 25% chance 4D6 war party)
25           Dragon! 1D10: 1-3 Red,4 Copper, 5-6 Black, 7-8 Green, 9 Gold, 10 Silver; Age-1D20: 1-8 wyrmlings (1D4), 9-15 young, 16-19 adult; 20 elder
26           Predators! 1D10: 1-3 cockatrices (1D4); 4-5 Manticore; 6-7 party of Medusae (1D6), 8-9 giant black widows (1D6), 10 psuedodragon pack (1D6)
D20         Location Chart 2 (+4 to roll if in remote region)
1-6          small village (1D10: 1-9 humans, 10-13 gnomes, 14-16 elves, 17-18 halflings, 19-20 goblins)
7-10        remote logging camp (1D2: 1-10 humans, 11-12 halflings)
11-14     Ruins (1D20: 1-3 old keep; 4-5 ancient tomb or crypt; 6-8 abandoned town; 9-10 old camp; 11-12 abandoned humanoid fortress; 13-15 lost temple; 16 mysterious obelisk; 17-20 ancient ruins)               
15-16     Mine (1D6: 1-4 abandoned; 5-6 active; Roll on Encounter Chart for occupants if any)
17-18     solitary hut (1D8: 1-hag, 2-lich, 3-human hermit, 4-forlarren witch, 5-tiefling, 6-nymph, 7-medusa, 8-ogre mage)
19-20     Spider Colony Web (1D8: 1-3 spider swarms; 5-6 giant spiders (1D10); 7-8 khitteck(1D10))
21-22     Humanoid War Camp (1D20: 1-4 orcs, 5-8 hogboblins, 9 bugbears, 10-12 goblins, 13-15 kobolds; 16 drow scouts; 17-18 ogres, 19 spriggans, 20 trolls)
23-24     Cavern entrance (D20: 1-10 monster lair-roll above, 11-15 entrance to Lower Dark; 16-20 crypt)

Gazetteer of Central Octzel, ca. 1,958 a.w.

Chenetoz Forks
   The most famous hangman’s tree in the kingdom, Chenetoz Forks is a crossroads where an immense, ancient oak can be found, from which hundreds of criminals have been hung to die. The methods of death at this necrotic location are innumerable; hanging, crucifixion, interment in one of the small metal cages to be pecked to death by crows, and other more ghastly executions have all taken place here. Chenetoz is located just south of Codderan, where the local executioner, a large fellow named Justicar Garaman dwells. He serves as executioner as well as jailer for the township, and also maintains a modest shrine to the Death Gods, located a mile north of Chenetoz Forks, where he also lives.
   Chenetoz is known to be haunted. Adventurers who travel here by day have a chance of some eerie encounter, but by night the dreaded tree at the crossroads earns its reputation. Many an imprisoned convict hung upon the tree has been found dead after a night hanging in one of the small cages draped beneath the arms of the tree, a look of sheer terror upon his frozen visage.

Encounters at Chenetoz Forks:
   At any given time there will be 2D6-2 prisoners on the tree, of which there is a 16+ chance of one being alive.
By Day: 16+ (roll 1D12 below); By Night: 12+ (Roll D20 below)
Roll        Encounter
1-4          An odd wind creeps up on the passersby and at least one traveler could swear someone was following him or that the heard a faint voice calling for his name
5-8          The tree seems to move and groan, either without a wind, or against it. One random passerby gets the distinct sense that someone walked over their grave (will fail the next mortality check he or she has to roll automatically)
9-12       A faint outline of a ghostly presence appears, trying to communicate with the adventurers. A DC 22 Diplomacy Check or Insight roll can reveal different results; failing by 10 on Diplomacy angers the spirit and it attacks; on a DC 20 Sense Motive check the adventurer figures out the spirit is trying to get them to accomplish some task for it; Type of Spirit-1D10: 1-4 Wraith, 5-6 Spectre, 7-8 Ghost, 9-0 Banshee
13-16     1D4 wraiths manifest and attack
17           A spectre appears and tries to lure the adventurers in to a trap in a nearby cave or mine
18-19     2D6 Ghouls prey upon the victims of the tree, and use a profane cross to Orcus to drive away
20           Roll 1D10: 1-7: 1D6 shadows manifest to harass the adventurers; 8-10: A greater shadow appears (possibly more; 25% chance of 1D4 of them) and attacks

   This modest township prospers from four sources: it is located along the great northern trade route, and gets a fair amount of overland traffic moving from Pheralin to the Capitol. The region is rife with local ranchers, and Codderan is the centerpoint for the cattle markets of this local industry. There are at least a dozen local mines under ownership of the Royal Crown as well in the eastern expanse of the Dragonspine Mountains as well as the local hills. Finally, there is a fairly famous local matador stadium, where annual Bull Dancing events are held. The current champion bull dancer is a lithe half-elf woman named Mercia. Codderan’s local sheriff is Dromas Andalor, who serves directly under Baron Vaimont.

Encounters in Codderan:
Encounter 12+ per day (or roll once on arrival to generate one interesting event for the day)
D20        Encounter
1-5          Market place is bustling when a bull gets loose and wreaks havoc
6-8          Games are afoot at the Matador Arena, someone tries to recruit the PCs in for the “Sword Dance” where a naked hero with a sword must tempt the bull and run it through with a sword
9-11       A procession is heading south to take a convicted criminal for execution at Chenetoz Forks
12-13     Avernan Gypsies have set up camp outside of town, offer a variety of impressive shows
14           2D6 Local toughs confront the PCs and try to rough them up for money
15           Baron Vaimont is recruiting for tax collectors to journey to the local ranches and collect both coin and cattle
16-17     A local prospector or mining operator is recruiting laborers for his new operation in the Dragonspine mountains
18           A scholar or wizard from Midas is looking for agents to escort him to the Dragonspine Mountains so he can find some fabled dragons’ bones
19           Sheriff Dromas Andalor is looking for recruit deputies to help hunt down a wanted criminal
20           A large orcish war party begins an assault on the township, looking for slaves and loot

Dragonspine Mountains
   Local legend says an elder wyrm perished in battle at the sight of these mountains, a beast so immense that his mouldering corpse formed the entire mountain range. The truth of this tale is unknown, but it is not uncommon to find giant, mysterious bones in the steep, craggy mountains, which are also know for harboring rich veins of gold and other ore. There are several dozen active and abandoned mines throughout the mountains, and about two dozen owned by the Royal Crown. Periodic mining shanty towns crop up, but most of the direct export and trade from the mountains passes through Codderan to the east or Illiada to the northwest.

Encounters in the Dragonspine Mountains:
Encounter Chance per 8 Hours Travel: 13+
D20        Encounter
1-5          Local mining shanty; 50% chance it is run by dwarves
6-9          A prospector and his team looking for new veins; 40% chance they are hostile and see any adventurers as possible rivals; Crew consists of 1D8 men, dwarves, Halflings and other races
10-12     Active mine, with a small encampment at the entrance. Roll 1D10: 1-4 it is guarded by the king’s army; 5-8 it is a private operation funded by a local nobleman; 9-10 it is an independent setup and operating without permission
13-15     An abandoned mine. May have a local denizen inhabiting it 1D10: 1-3 cockatrices (1D4); 4-5 Manticore; 6-7 krenshar (1D6), 8-9 giant spiders (1D6), 10 fire drake nest with wyrmlings (1D6) and a 25% chance mother is within a 1D4 mile radius.
16           A young adult red dragon spots the party and begins stalking them
17-18     An abandoned mine, but haunted by undead: 1D10: 1-4 miscellaneous skeletons (3D6), 5-7 ghoul warren (2D8), 8-10 zombies (4D6 miscellaneous)
19-20     An active mine, but in need of help! Roll 1D10: 1-4 the mine broke in to a cavern of the Lower Dark and monsters poured out; 5-8 mine has a collapse and trapped miners need help; 9-10 a local denizen (1-2 fire drake, 3-6 wyverns, 7-8 manticore) has appeared and chased the miners, claiming the mine for its own den.

Andin Keep
   This modest outpost is located along the Great Road that runs from Pheralin to the Capitol. The keep is  managed by Baron Theram Dannor, who founded a local order of ascetic knights called the Order of the Ever Vigilant. These Road Wardens have been recognized for their services in maintaining the Great Road as well as protecting those who travel along it. The order reveres Etah, the Lord of Travelers, an obscure deity with few temples in Octzellan lands.
   The community at Andin is centered around the well-known Inn of the Wayward Soul, run by Magda Derigash, a burly woman of some years. A curious community of artists, scholars and philosophers has arisen within the walls of the Keep and its immediate environs as well, due to a local natural amphitheatre as well as a local Monastery dedicated to Amasyr and funded by Dannor.

Encounters in the Andin Keep:
Encounter 14+
D20        Encounter
1-5          A local acting troop is putting on a play in the natural amphitheatre in the hills, “The Perils of Darkness” about the fall of legendary king Don-Dadera
6-10       A conference of learned men has converged on this location and borders on a rabble of scholars with clubs!
11-14     The wardens are recruiting mercenaries to patrol the Western Expanse of Mitra’s Wood, where rumors of goblin and orc war parties have surfaced recently
15-16     A famous artist has gone missing, and the wardens are recruiting for help in finding him. The man is believed to have been capable of powerful illusory painting magic, and foul play is suspected in his disappearance
17-18     A local troop of acrobats and dancing blades are performing in the keep, and visitors are traveling from many miles to see their show. Pickpockets are fleecing the visitors
19           A local caravan is recruiting for guards and attendants in an overland journey to Midas or another city location; the caravan is escorting a famous scholar
20           Several dragons (of any color and size) settles down in the city and demands entertainment! The dragons seem not to be hostile, but Diplomacy or Bluff checks may be necessary to appease them…and a good play!

   Gerton is the capital of the region (the Eastern Halale Province of Gremna), ruled by Duke Nestor Gonn Kalios. Gerton is at its height of popularity at this time, surpassed in size only by the more prosperous and tactically placed Pheralin in the south.
   Gerton has a number of local security issues which do not help it. River travel is brisk in this region, but along the high cliffs in the deep canyon of the river can be found numerous caverns that were once used long ago by an unknown people as burial catacombs. Local mihidir trolls frequently infest these caverns, and periodically cause problems for the city above.
   The main bridge over the narrow river chasm is a famous construct, admired by architects and engineers throughout the kingdom. Despite some dwarven assertions, it was reportedly built about two centuries ago by a human architect.
   Gerton’s main claim to fame is that it holds the centerpiece of the regional militia. There are at least one thousand active soldiers on duty at any given time, working in local patrols to protect the province from threats out of Mitra’s Forest and elsewhere. The patrols of Gerton often coordinate with those in Galent for raids in to orcish territory.

Encounters in the Gerton:
Encounter 14+
D20        Encounter
1-5          A major seasonal market and fair is underway for farmers, ranchers and villagers in the region
6-10       The militia is recruiting due to new threats from orcish war parties; 50% chance they are drafting, not recruiting!
11-14     The bridge is temporarily unavailable while a crew of human and dwarven craftsmen shore up some damage after a recent storm.
15-16     Trolls have been spotted in the catacombs in the chasm, and the militia is recruiting mercenaries to flush them out
17-18     Local farms in the province have been attacked by hobgoblin or orc war parties and the militia is stretched thin; a local wealthy land owner is looking to hire his own private army to deal with the problem; 20% chance the problem is worse than simple orcs or hobgoblins, though.
19           A local river barge is looking for sailors and guards to head upriver to Rithias
20           Agents of the Rillian Mining Guild or another order are planning to take a barge in to Mitra’s Forest to either: 1D6: 1-2 bring supplies to a risky mining venture in the woods; 3-4 do trade with local orcs; 5-6 looking for something unusual (such as a lost temple or ruined keep) that may hold a large wealth or special information

   Although Gerton to the north is the capitol of Gremna Province, Galent is a more robust castle, and has long served as a center of trade for the farmers and ranchers of the southern province.  The Barony is ruled by House Kratim, of which Baron Hroder Kratim is the most respected member in the community. He is second in command behind Duke Kalios in Gerton should a defense need to be mounted against foreign or monstrous invasion.
   Baron Hroder has a secret, however. East of his lands is the vast and untamed territory of Mitra’s Forest, and within that forest is the ruinous domain of Old Chegga, once an ancient bastion of chaos cultists and orcs, now dominated by the mysterious power of the vampiric Karukithyak. Some years ago Hroder sought to extinguish the vile forces that operated within the ruins of Chegga, and he failed, narrowly escaping with his life. What is not known is that he was bitten by the vampire lord, and is now in thrall to Karukithyak. For this reason along Galent proves to be exceptionally resilient against invasion from the orc-dominated woodlands, as Hroder’s inside knowledge of the monstrous lands gives him an edge.
    Hroder’s effectiveness against the orc warlords is what makes him so valuable locally, but behind the scenes he is really being used as a pawn by Karukithyak, slaughtering the enemies of the vampire lord so that Chegga may be strengthened. Mindful of his tool’s usefulness Karukithyak keeps Hroder’s position as a reliable agent safe, to avoid suspicion.
   Hroder is weakened in sunlight but does not suffer damage like regular vampires, for the curse of vampirism he received comes from a serpent man who was accursed by Set himself. Karukithyak’s kin are feared by many of the hidden vampire and undead enclaves throughout the land for this reason. However, should Karukithyak ever be slain, Hroder will no longer be in thrall to the vampire lord, but he will also lose his special resilience, becoming a  normal human vampire as a result.
   Secretly Hroder despises Karukithyak’s hold, and worries that he is funneling great power in to the hands of a madman, one which worships a dreadful subterranean and aquatic being called the Kraken. He has, and will, continue to find quiet ways to defy the vampire lord, including hiring adventures discreetly to carry out assaults and raids against Old Chegga.
   Galent is a military town, and it shows. Though only two regular garrisons of militia are maintained here (approximately 300 soldiers) it also hires and maintains an active mercenary company, and is one of the safe harbors for the rogue orcish mercenaries of Halshaggin’s Raiders. Three local knighthoods claim Galent as their home city, including the Order Triumphant, the Order of the Eternally Vigilant and a local office and tower for the Order of the Crown.
   There are numerous inns, hostels, taverns and brothels, as well as spots of entertainment, including:
The Boar’s Tusk
The Riverside Tavern (more of a creek, though)
Ancheron’s Noble Hostel
Fletch-Feathered Inn
Abroshe Gambling Hall
Arena Sports Pits
Crossroads Tavern
Serpent’s Coils
   Before Chenetoz Forks became the popular place to hang criminals, there was the Crossroads of Galent. A long while back someone bought up the land and turned the region around the old hangman’s tree in to an inn and tavern called the Crossroads. The establishment is currently run by an ogre mage of indeterminate origin and who goes only by the name of Gus. Rumor is the ancient tree at the heart of the building is still haunted, and that a malevolent specter of a dead diabolist named Histior Lokenze manifests at least once a year, on the Eve of All’s Darkness, a night when the tavern never gets any visitors past midnight, except on a dare. In the last decade at least five foolhardy souls who paid to brave the tavern on that night and apparently perished of terror, or so it is said.
   The truth is even spookier; this spirit of a mad diabolist does indeed haunt the tree, and Gus has sealed up the rooms and chambers immediately adjacent to its vast trunk, and warded them against the dead. Histior’s spirit manifests on the night of each new moon, though he is able to pass the wards only on the Eve of All’s Darkness, said to be the night when even the stars are eclipsed by the vastness of Death’s Realm.
   The Serpent’s Coils is another well known establishment, run by the enigmatic half-elf woman Histeria, who raises snakes and dances a mysterious eastern dance with them. She trains a small group of professional dancers, and puts on shows that the local merchants and mercenaries pay good money for. Besides its dances, wine and drink the establishment is a renowned brothel, and it has its own secrets as well. At the center of the building is a great pit with an ancient giant serpent, said to be a pet and perhaps even a lover transformed of Histeria. Histeria herself is a mystery, exceptionally long-lived and of unusual nature; she is in fact a were-serpent, and once was one of the greatest assassins of distant Galonia. Even now she trains her finest women to serve as agile assassins for hire, using the serpent as their key weapon. She is also one of the few citizens of Galent to know that Hroder is actually a vampire.

Encounters in the Galent:
Encounter 14+
D20        Encounter
1-5          A major seasonal market and fair is underway for farmers, ranchers and villagers in the region
6-10       Galent’s mercenary company is hiring after rumors of orcish war parties surface
11-12     A local merchant is felled by a serpent’s bite; rumors suggest he died at the Serpent’s Coils, but Histeria seeks the aid of adventurers to prove this is not true
13-14     A band of local blades seek to rough up the fresh new faces in the city
15-16     Hroder is recruiting mercenaries for a special task; he reveals he intends to send them to Old Chegga to gather information on the cult of the Kraken
17           A wealthy nobleman intends to stay in the tavern on the Eve of All’s Darkness, and his wife hires the adventurers to protect him
18           The local graveyard is apparently having troubles with ghouls and risen dead, and needs help
19           The Halshaggin’s Raiders arrive in town on call from the baron, causing a disruption
20           Rumors of catacombs beneath the city draw the attention of a priest of Enki, who seeks adventurers to escort him to find and sanctify these catacombs

Anarak Keep
   Founded less than a decade ago by the so-called “mad duke Callasos,” Anarak is the only stable Octzellan community to survive any length of time within the expanses of Mitra’s Forest. It does so at least partially because it engages in as much open trade as possible with local tribes and avoids getting tangled in the web of conflict between the orcish warlords. Young Cabil Gonn Callasos is indeed regarded as somewhat of a madman, for at only age 18 he has forged his way forth to claim his own land and rights and to found his own so-called province in the borders of the orcish warlords, but he arguably had no choice, being the sixth in line to his own father’s rule back in Capitol Octzel, where the rest of his family is dominated by entrepreneurial merchantmen.
   At this early age of Anarak it has come under attack on two occasions, but thanks to an alliance with the Grimshaw Blade Orcs it now receives local protection. Callasos buys the support of the orcs with copious amounts of imported Octzellan wine and rum from Jhakn.
   Anarak is also home to a small community of silver dwarves who serve as local miners and homesteaders, apparently braving the orcish territory for a chance to make a region their own. In truth, these dwarves seek to prospect the Balamar Hills for gold, as they believe the hills to be full of untapped veins.

Encounters in the Anarak Keep:
Encounter 14+
D20        Encounter
1-5          A local market and fair is going on, mixed with orcs, hobgoblins, goblins and other demihumans as well as humans and silver dwarves
6-10       A drunken brawl breaks out in the streets between men and orcs!
11-12     Avernan Gypsies have set up camp outside of town, offer a variety of impressive shows
13-14     A tribe of curious monsters appears to see what the keep has to offer (1D8: 1 ogres; 2 hill giants 3 hobgoblins, 4 kobolds, 5 goblins, 6 spriggans, 7 lizard men, 8 minotaurs)
15-16     A rival orcish warband threatens the walls of the keep, and the Grimshaw Blade Orcs show up to repel them
17           A mysterious orcish priest preaches about the wonders of the Cult of the Kraken
18           A procession of orcish and other humanoid priests to Mitra visit, conducting an enigmatic ceremony to sanctify the keep in the goddess’s name
19           A contingent of orcish warriors and a vile death knight appear from Old Chegga, demanding Anarak swear fealty to Karukithyak or suffer the consequences
20           A mysterious agent of the Pharaoh of Galon and a contingent of riders appear in the keep, on the way to mysterious business elsewhere in the city; orcs notice that they seem chaos tainted

Old     Chegga
   Six centuries ago Old Chegga was founded out of the waddle-and-daub mud huts of orcs who settled along the length of the vast and deep chasm in which the curious domain can now be found. These orcs found that the steep walls of the canyon sheltered them from most sunlight year round, letting them move freely between the lower dark and the surface world. These orcs were a strange lot, brought here in the search for an ancient, titanic entity called the Kraken, a name that failed to encompass the horror of what lurked in the vast caverns that adjoined the ancient canyon.
   Chegga became a mecca for deviant worship of the ancient Kraken, and it is said that somewhere along its ancient walls stretched a passage that eventually opened up to one of the vast subterranean tunnels, miles beneath the surface, in which an ancient sea could be found, and within that sea rested a slumbering beast with the head of an immense squid and the body of a foul ape. The worship of this deity was tantalizing to some orcs, but to many more it was considered a sacrilege, an affront to the proper gods of the orcs such as Baragnagor, Orcus and Baphomet. In time, the orcish warlords banded against the cultists of Chegga and crushed them, leaving behind only the mysterious ruins and strange relics that they had unearthed in their time in the ancient chasm.
   About six centuries ago the exiled sorcerer and vampire lord Karukithyak, once of the Haikyndyr serpent men in Galvonar to the south, arrived in the region and settled in Old Chegga. He was a follower of Slithotep, the mad god, and had been cursed with vampirism and exiled by his people for turning his back on Set.  In adventures lost to time he was overturned and slain. Centuries later, he has been awakened, thanks to the machinations of his vile minion Gohondon Zar.
   Karukithyak has long since established a dark reign over Old Chegga, rebuilding the ruins and expanding the underground tunnels, recruiting followers from among his own kind as well as the degenerate local orcs and other foul beings in the region, including xivarts, grimlocks and morlocks. Though he is a high priest of Slithotep and has taken a vast underground chamber in which to build an immense temple to the dark god, Karukithyak has encouraged the worship among his degenerate followers of the dreaded Kraken, and lets them continue their sadistic worship and sacrifices to the slumbering beast.
   Karukithyak never leaves the subterranean ziggurat he had built a century ago, to serve as the temple of worship to Slithotep as well as his private meditation chambers deep within. He instead relies on his right hand man, the enigmatic chaos knight known as Gohondon Zar, a powerful and vile half-orc death knight who serves the vampire lord with ruthless efficiency. Beneath Zar is a network of enforcers who insure the strange ritual complex that is Old Chegga goes unmolested, seeking out rival orcs and other humanoids who take umbrage at the vile practices of Old Chegga by attacking them and exterminating them, then raising the dead in to more zombie soldiers for the vampire lord.
   Karukithyak also has an uneasy hold on Baron Hroder of Galent, whom he turned in to a vampire some years ago. He knows Hroder schemes against him, rebelling against his own vile nature, but it amuses him to let the young vampire try and best his elder. If Zar had his way, however, he would mount an assault on all the human cities adjacent to Mitra’s Forest and exterminate everyone.
   Old Chegga is a deadly underworld domain, and encounters in this region will be expounded upon more in its own section elsewhere.

Ruins of Arkalor
   This ruined citadel and the vast and ancient city around it is steeped in mystery. The legends say that six centuries ago it was a seat of dark power, where chaos worshipping tieflings, eladrin, humans and orcs alike gathered to pay homage to the Chaos Pantheon. From its gates rode an army of black knights to crush the forces of Octzel and beyond, and it was a terrifying source of dark power. Little history from that dark period of time was recorded, though historians can tell you that Arkalor’s reputation was so terrible that when at last the city fell all reference to it was erased from the historical records. Neither its people nor its rulers are known today, nor why they chose to worship the Chaos Pantheons. Despite this, bardic tales and curious legends suggest the city itself did not fall to the blades of Octzellan crusaders, but instead was consumed from within by a plague of demons unleashed upon the land.
   Today, the haunted ruins are a bane to all creatures living and only a handful of ogre tribes wander the region, daring to get close to the ruins in search of valuable relics. The ruins are known to be haunted by the dead as well as rife with ancient evils, and demons are believed to ingest the catacombs beneath.    

Encounters in the Ruins of Arkalor:
Encounter 10+ for each hour in the region
D20        Encounter Chart 1
1-2          Roving pack of 2D6 ghouls
3              A band of 2D8 kytons move through the area hunting demons
4              A tiefling witch treasure hunter who claims to have ancestry from the city
5              A tribe of 4D6 ogres searching for relics on the periphery
6              A gibbering Mouther prowls about (25% chance of 1D4 of them)
7              A party of forlarren prowl the ruins looking for relics to sell (2D4)
8-10       A Chaos Gate manifestation; the region is suddenly warped and twisted as the adventurer’s presence in the ruins creates a tether to the Abyss; an Arcana check DC 22 to escape being transported to the Abyss; 50% chance of demons being dragged from the Abyss in to the ruins as well (20+2D10 levels’ worth of demons)
11           1D8 Shadows inhabiting a crumbling building (10% chance of a greater shadow as well)
12           A sudden surge of ancient chaos energy; 2D10 skeletons and 2D10 zombies arise and attack
13           A lone spectre called Nabasath wanders the ruins seeking company, though he is quite mad and likely to turn on his listeners or flee
14           2D6 wraiths rise up to destroy the “invaders”
15           3D6 dretches materialize from the Abyss, possibly led by 1D4 quasits (25% chance)
16           Krenshar hunting pack (2D6) (MM2)
17           A succubus appears and takes an interest in the group
18           A tether to the Abyss pulls in a very powerful demon, which mistakes the adventurers for summoners initially, giving them a moment to negotiate or flee before it realizes where it is
19           A gray ooze slithers through the ruins
20           1D4 Gibbering Mouthers prowls about
Note:  demons and pulled through Tethers to the Abyss will return to the Abyss in 1D6 minutes.

   This modest town rests at the crossroads by which most travel passes through; the south passage leads two miles to a rocky vale where Krovar Keep is located. Baron Darton Krovar dwells there, in isolation, barely paying attention to his own lands. Locals insist he is mad, or that the family is cursed.
   Because of the lack of protection in the barony, Salin is a haven for bandits and criminals, as well as humanoids who seek trade but fear the hostility of the larger towns. The townsfolk have long since grown accustomed to the lawless folk who pass through, and do little more than try to make a profit on it. The town is mostly taverns and brothels, with the outlying farmers providing most of the food and goods the town consumes. The local sheriff is a corrupt man named Raskadan.

Dagger Falls
   This small community is protected by Baron Sadrik from his castle, which is built along the heights of the plateau from which the falls originate. The region is lush with vineyards and farmland, and unusually peaceful year round. With fewer than five thousand people in the region, it does surprisingly well for itself, and is a rare location where the merchants and nobility prosper, and the common folk ultimately benefit. Dagger Falls is famous for its wines. The largest group of buildings in the area is a small riverport called Silverton where goods are shipped by way of Lake Arion. Northeast in the region is Tilerton, a halfling township where the Syleni celebrate the annual festivals of Bacchanalia.

Gontallo Keep
   This military outpost protects travelers in the Black Hills by the vile orcs of Chernug Kavernash. The keep is manned by commander Alan Dann Toramash, a former knight of the crown who apparently angered the wrong people and was sent to station this keep. He manages it as best he can, with the aid of the half-elvish ranger Esedria Keldorn, one of the Wardens out of  Andin Keep who has made the region her home for some years now.
   Of note here is a local tavern built half out over a ravine in the hills called The Hanging Inn and Eats. It is presently run by a porcine man named Loust, who is a cheapskate and refuses to shore up the place, despite the fact that everyone is sure the inn will collapse in to the ravine one day. The inn was actually founded on much older, mysterious ruins and in its basement can be found the entrance to a network of catacombs. Loust often tells adventurers of it and sees if they will pay him coin to investigate the catacombs. Although nothing has ever emerged from them, Loust will admit he has one more than one occasion smelled something foul from the catacombs. Unknown to him, deep below the region is a large city of morlocks called Gahadar’San, currently at war with the Kagistron ashtarth.

The Black Hills
   These hills are a dangerous spot, and rife with monstrous humanoids, especially the ogre and orc mixed clan of Chernug Kavernash. Deep below the hills are two major demihuman presences, in the form of morlocks out of Gahandar’San and the dissident dark elf tribe of Kagistron, which inhabits a subterranean Prehunate City they call Scarzys.
   The Black Hills is a major thorn in the side of overland trade and commerce, and when the monster tribes aren’t warring with the forces out of Gontallo Keep they are busy plotting ways to sack and pillage Pheralin in the south. The orcish warlord Sorin Blackblood has had his eye on taking the provincial capital of Livias for his own for several years now, and is trying to secure enough allies to do it.

Town of Black Hills
   Located along Lake Arion and the trade route, this town is named after the rough hills to the east. It’s a mining town, and hearty prospectors (well armed) work from this location to find the famously valuable veins of mithril in the Black Hills. More than half the town is dwarven. Beside the dwarves is a large local community of Halfling fishermen. The town is ruled by a dwarven baron named Jarindar Vellsoth, a rare case of a demihuman receiving an honorific and position of authority in Octzel.

Fell Durond
   This ancient citadel of evil juts out from the forest around it like a black dagger striking the sky. Fell Durond is protected by a vast army of orcs who have been amassing here year by year, and from it emerge dark riders called the Durghas, said to be vile knights who have sworn fealty to the gods of chaos. The enigmatic ruler of this citadel is unknown, but rumors abound that it might be a cambion by the name of Zaelanthar, who professes to be a demigod born from the union of his mother with the dark god Slithotep.
   Most recently it is believed that agents of the Dark Pharaoh of Galon have ridden to Fell Durond to seek out an alliance with the citadel. The truth of this is uncertain, and the wardens who encountered the messengers were later found slain, and subsequently rose as wights.

   The provincial capital of the southern province of Livias, Pheralin is a large walled city along the banks of river Arion. Pheralin is ruled by Dutchess Kara Gonn Deramastas, and indeed it has been a tradition for centuries that the city be ruled by a woman, such that the women in rule always take a husband of lower station. Kara has not yet met her duke, but she is young (only 20) and there are many suitors. Kara is known for her masculine (manatyr) nature and rides to battle at the head of Pheralin’s army, which is actuall quite large, and the single most impressive garrison in the region. The reasons for this are two-fold: first, Pheralin is the most important city in the southern province, and the most powerful city in all of southern Octzel, second only to the Capitol itself. Second, Pheralin has several direct threats to its stability and power in the region. The orcish warlord warlord Sorin Blackblood has had his eyes on sieging the city for years now, and his father tried, twice, though he failed (in fact Sorin’s father was captured, and has been a prisoner for fifteen years now in the Iron Tower prison of the city). Other major threats include Fell Durond, as well as the orcs of Aragast, who regularly raid caravans traveling along the Great Old Road, which Pheralin’s forces protect.
   Beside the local threats, the city has in the past been attacked by barbarian hordes from the Cimeran tribes, and it is also responsible for managing the defense of the entire region, as there are few other strong military forces in Octzel’s southlands at this time.

   This northern town is protected by the beautiful and ancient Dragonspine Keep, which is said to be nearly a thousand years old and was the first of the ancient keeps built in the early days of Octzellan colonization in the region. Baron Aramir rules from the keep, and finds little to trouble him in the region. Daggerlan is known for the famous Silverhorn tavern and inn.

   This modest town is known for its large temple to the agricultural god Seth, as well as having no regional baron. Instead, the Gostlin clan of lesser nobles (elas) provides some leadership and Tarn Gostlin is the head of the local militia, about fifty strong, who protect travelers in the region as well as the occasional miner who braves the Dragonspine Mountains’ more notoriously monster-infested western expanse.

   This central city is located in the heart of the Halale Woods, a modest forested region in central Octzel which is all that is left of the once vast and untamed wilderness of old. Kyros is dominated by the Elves of Halale, a group of sylvan clans who settled in the region around the same time the men of Octzel claimed it some ten centuries ago, and they have dwelt in this region ever since.
   Kyros is a beautiful natural enclave of elvish living, with marbled stonework intermixing in a seamless and natural fashion with the woods around it, making the city’s beginnings and ends difficult for visitors. There is a modest but distinct section of the city designed to accommodate human visitors, as well as a district dominated by Halflings.
   The city itself is ruled by a council of druids, the hierophant of which is an elf named Tharidus. Rumor has it the druids are nurturing a Sacred seed of the World Tree, to restore the greatness of the woods to something akin to what it once was, long ago. Though it is believed that the tree is near Kyros, no elf has ever actually laid eyes on it.
   Kyros, though ruled by elves, is still considered an Octzellan city, and they have appointed a “duke” to use the human parliance by name of Sernin Ezrythor to serve as the commander of the city’s defenses as well as the diplomatic liaison to the Octzellan king (Octozoron Tazell-Dancaros II). It is said that Ezrythor ventured on various travels and journeys with the king many years ago, when the king was young and still a prince of the land.
   Kyros’s main threat these days is the many vile entities that would desperately love to bring it down and destroy the young Sacred Tree that they nurture in the deep heart of the wood. Though no looming sense of threat has yet manifested, it is known that on occasion agents out of Fell Durond or Aragast have been found scouting the region for new intelligence.
   Visitors to the city are generally asked to remain in the open region intended for non elves. There, a famous inn known as the World Tree Inn, which is a mixture of wood grown naturally around a stone tower, serves as a major spot for sight-seers to stop and enjoy a few days’ stay. The region is noted for the fine craftsmanship of the local elves both with wood and stone, as well as the elvish wines brewed in their own local vineyards.

The Old Monastery of Abenay
   Located on top of the Dagger Falls Plateau, this ancient monastery is managed by a mysterious and reclusive order of monks who shun all outside contact. Stories say that they seek to observe and contain an ancient evil beneath the grounds of the low hill on which the monastery rests, and some local history books suggest that vile sacrifices and burials once were conducted in the region. Whether there is any truth to this, or whether the monks know of it is unknown.

The Redleaf Forest and the Great Plateau
   Nestled atop the Dagger Falls Plateau and descending down along the Lakelands, this is a mysterious, enchanted forest that some believe to be very close to the mysteries of the Weirding. At the heart of the forest atop the Plateau is the mysterious Daradense Lake, which seems to have an endless supply of water, and which many say has unplumbed depths that may, according to some tales, stretch all the way to the far side of the world. No matter the reason, the lake feeds both the Lakelands to the north and Lake Arion to the south, creating the spectacular Dagger Falls as it does.
   The northern Lakelands is dominated by Lake Absalom, which itself is subject to many old folktales and legends, including one that says that the bottom of the lake holds a vast, ancient citadel built by inhuman sorcerers long ago.
   There are several small, unnamed villages that are nestled along the lakes in this region. The people here speak a unique dialect that is unrelated to any other language of the Middle Kingdoms, called locally “Daradenish.” They refuse to teach it to outsiders. They are a strange, supersititous lot and largely xenophobic as well, refusing even to trade with the people of Rithias at the western end of the lake. On certain sacred days of the year, in the dark of night it is said that the people of the lake towns can be seen heading in darkness to the top of the plateau, to the Abenay Monastery, where they often spend days engaged in mysterious rituals.
   Aside from the dour lakemen, the Redleaf Forest region has a small but distinct tribe of sylvan elves known as the Kythians. This tribe of kythians are deeply in tune with the Weirding and can plane shift to it as they see fit. They are ruled by their mysterious princess, the elvish sorceress Sirielle, and it is said that they know more of the mysteries of this region than anyone.
   In truth, the region is the heart of an ancient mystery and an eons-old secret. The place holds deep, ancient power, for beneath the Great Plateau slumbers the body of the Kraken. The Kraken is one of the twelve imprisoned Skaeddrath, the original Titans of Chaos sent to destroy all existence, but tricked instead into a slumbering entrapment at the dawn of creation. It is said that between this plateau and the domain of Old Chegga there is a vast and ancient network of immense caverns, and the Kraken slowly migrates back and forth through these caverns, walking in its eternal sleep, slowly widening the passages and creating new ones as it goes. According to the unwritten lore lost so long ago, the plateau is the center of the Primal Device which keeps the Kraken imprisoned in sleep.
   Because of the ancient power lurking below, some three thousand years ago a dissident sect of the ancient Kadantanian Empire in Amech that was cast out for heresies too unimaginable even for their decadent culture migrated here, and settled down for a time, creating a vast and ancient city. They were said to have been planar mages and dream lords, who sought to attain divinity through the dreams of the Kraken. Whether they succeeded or not is a mystery; all that is known is that the last remnants of their forgotten cities in the region are located beneath Lake Absalom, and that the lakemen of the region may in fact be their descendant.
   Adventurers in this region may encounter a variety of strange monsters as well. Because of the unusual concentration of dreaming chaos in the region, strange things will periodically manifest in to existence, as is common when the dreams of Skaeddrath are involved. Ferocious saurian beasts, ancient entities long extinct and terrible monsters from beyond the stars have been known to appear in the region, sometimes briefly and other times permanently, to do terrible harm to those in the region. It is for this reason that the locals have taken to offering dire sacrifices to the chaos titan below, and that the monks of Abenay take it as their solemn duty to insure that it does not awaken.

The Cavern of Time
   Along the western ledge of the plateau is an ancient cave, inside of which is a hidden temple to the lord of time, Huuarl, protected by his favored Seraph, called Aeon. The Cavern of Time is hidden away from most of the local denizens, and a secretive priesthood of thaumaturges spend their time carefully observing the monastery. Though the sacrifices are despised, it is seen as a necessary task to insure the Kraken slumbers deeply, and does not disturb reality with its mental probings. In an alternate timeline, the Kraken began to sense the fringes of human consciousness, and reached out to manipulate willing minds to write a terrifying book, a tome which would by its very nature upon completion begin a series of prophetic events that would lead to the Kraken’s freedom. The chronomantic templars of Huuarl, with the angelic Aeon, now spend their days guarding against the possibility of such from happening, for they know that the agents of their god have prevented the end of the world in the far future on many occasions, this being but one.

   This township and modest but run down keep is ruled by baron Armenghast, a man known for his corruption and cruelty. The locals fear him, but they put up with his villainy because he keeps them safe from bandits, orcs, and the strange lakemen to the east.
   Rithias in this period is of little note, and is mostly just a waypoint for caravans making the trek across the kingdom on their way to the coastal port of Crommer. It’s only trade product locally is berries, lumber, and pickled bass from the Lake Absalom, though most say the fish is an acquired taste, and that most fish of the lake seem to have a strange taint to them.

Us’Haggen and Castle Miggian
   Though most of the orcish tribes are concentrated in Mitra’s Forest, Us’Haggen of the Virillian Mountains is an exception. The Us’Haggen orcs dominate this region, and are kept at bay only by the forces of Castle Miggian. Indeed, Castle Miggian is one of the oldest castles in the region, built nine centuries ago during the great Octzellan expansion. Its current commander is Lord Dramos Galinthor, a knight of the crown who has spent better than twenty years now killing orcs. It is is his dedication that insures the monsters nestled within the warrens of the Virillian Mountains spend more time fighting his troops and less time raiding the coastal towns and cities.
   Us’haggen is currently without direct rule, its warlord Krusk having been killed in battle recently by Galinthor himself. There is a power struggle afoot as six tribal chieftains seek to gain control over one another. In the midst of this, they are facing a new problem as many denizens of the lower dark have begun to infest the upper caverns of the mountains, and those few that can speak have been interrogated and suggest that some sort of new aberration has migrated in to the region that is slaughtering everything in its way. This, needless to say, has the local orcs worried.

Unusual Encounters while Traveling in Octzel

Vargouille Infestation
   A small village in the remote wilderness or off the beaten path has succumbed to an infestation of vargouilles. The terrible creatures are multiplying as they convert the living into their own terrible kind; the source of the vargouilles is a local witch, a green hag named Yizarda who was wronged by the village when hunters stumbled across her demented ogrekin son and slew him.

Mysterious Temple
   A mysterious pyramidical temple rises up in the remote wilderness, seemingly unattended. It is overgrown with vines and moss, and clearly no one has used it for many ages. Unexpectedly a horde of savage lizardmen charge forth, led by serpent men priests, and attack those who seek to investigate the temple! The temple is in fact an ancient structure which surfaces once every  century, and it contains a guardian chaos beast that protects the temple from within, where the Golden Diadem of Zareska, the serpent queen and favored wife of Set.
   The temple will remain for forty eight hours, after which the Constellation of Set is no longer ascendant, and the temple will shudder as an earthquake rumbles through the earth and swallows the temple whole for another century.

The Fallen Star
   During the night, a massive meteor streaks overhead and plunges to the earth. The PCs can hear the crush of wood as trees are felled, and feel the rumble in the earth as the object strikes. A brilliant flash of light suggests a grand explosion. Investigation reveals a bizarre sight: a vast ship, shaped not unlike a great dragonfly, being picked apart by a great destrachan. The rubble of the ship has a handful of survivors, elves with dusky grey-blue skin, fighting for their lives.
   Summing the PCs intervene, they will discover that these are Naelythian elves, or arcane elves as they are called in translation. The elves hail from arcane space, which they say can be reached by ships powered using arcane differential engines called Ether Engines, and that theirs is completely wrecked. They explain that there is a war afoot in the spaces beyond, and that an army belonging to the Shadow Empire is engaged in a full war to drive the elvish armada from Arcane Space in this region. The leader is Commander Aelys Sorvante, a knight-agent of the Stellar Throne, and he was delivering an important message to the armada command about the movement of the Shadow Empire’s forces that could well save his fleet from destruction. He needs to get back to his place in the stars, but doesn’t know where to begin.
   The wreck will subsequently be visited by a second ship: a smaller skiff full of dark slayers, dark stalkers and dark creepers attacks, seeking to overwhelm the elves and PCs. The dark kin are actually the agents of the so-called Shadow Empire, which spawned on a distant world where their kind came to dominate, and found the cold depths of arcane space to be to their satisfaction. Their dreaded overlords are an unknown entity, said to be terrifying masters of darkness, that seek to engulf all of known space in shadow.
   Aelys will ask the PCs for help; he will remove the core of the ship, and then ask that he be taken to a major city, where he can consult with mages who can aid him creating a message that can be sent on the etheric winds to his fleet.

All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

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