Category Archives: Campaigns

Jeff questions for Abelia Caliginous

I am considering running some basic-ass pickup D&D online from time to time and this happened. What can I say, I needed an unadorned setting.

Players of my Stonehell: Prepare to Die in-person game, don’t worry! I will keep running that campaign.

Go here for Jeff’s original quick questions prompts. Below, bolded terms are places with some degree of elaboration to which adventurers can travel.


What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?

There are no standard clerics but spirits and demons have shrines scattered around the world. Some folk worship these beings while magicians call on them for aid and knowledge or even summon them outright. (Think Final Fantasy summons.)

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

In the Clovertown district of Abelia, adventurers can buy digging implements, brewing equipment, knives of all types, and various oddments. Journey to other places to find other goods.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

In Abelia, The lion tamers at the Eternal Carnival can hook you up but you need carnival tickets to get into the best events.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

Unquestionably Prospero Imperatax, the Pope of Magic. He singlehandedly dissolved the Republic of Magicians and choked the ruined Republic Guildhall with the Forest of Thorns. He resides in the south.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

The Itinerant Queen and her retinue of Royal Hunters seek the missing prince. Since the prince disappeared, the King Primrose III cloistered himself and locked the doors of Castle Abelia. He has not been seen since and Knights Regent now rule the various districts of Abelia.

Who is the richest person in the land?

Other than the Cloistered King, who technically owns all of civilization, the treasure map seller in the Bookbinders District.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?

The bathtub chemists in Clovertown sell healing tinctures and other concoctions.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Shivertown in the swamps to the east is home to many herbalists. Legend has it that adventurers can find spirits of the dead in the deep swamps which can then be coaxed back into corporeal shells with the help of a skilled medium.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

Independent sorcerers can learn spells from spirits and demons or concoct their own.

The Republic of Magicians is now a secret society, the members of which are hunted by the agents of Prospero Imperatax. They may safeguard old secrets though the Pope Prospero claims copyright on all spells.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

The Librarians of the Bookbinders District are a good place to start. A library card is a necessity for all well-heeled Abelians.

Where can I hire mercenaries?

The members of the Mudlarks Society in Clovertown specialize in dangerous low-skilled labor. The standard contract contains an anti-fighting clause but mudlarks have been known to overlook such details given generous tips.

Mercenaries can sometimes be found in Starfall Basement.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Holding an unsheathed weapon in the sight of a Knight Regent is a capital offense and will invariably lead to a scene.

Which way to the nearest tavern?

In Clovertown, drinking establishments are known as basements. They are located, unsurprisingly, in basements. Pleasure houses can often be found in attics with particular delights advertised using colored chimney smoke.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

The dragon Sartar ventures regularly from Cinderpeak Mountain. The Knights Regent keep the peace in the districts of Abelia but can also be a royal pain in the ass.

While not exactly causing any trouble, bagging a thunder lizard from the Bonewaste Expanse to the west or a giant serpent from the eastern swamps will establish credentials as a big game hunter of consequence. Live capture is even more impressive, and the impresarios will pay well for caged beasts.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Officially, all civilization bends knee to the King of Abelia and eternal peace reigns.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

The Tourney at the Eternal Carnival always needs fresh meat.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

  • The Republic of Magicians persists despite the efforts of Prospero
  • Ghoul Loyalists work toward eventual ascension of the King in the Swamp
  • Prospero’s Papacy of Magic accepts pledges of unconditional loyalty

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

???

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

  • Sartar the Unquenchable, dragon of Cinderpeak Mountain

Tangle armor

zedd2

Image source (processed)

I was looking through my blog drafts folder, and came across several unfinished posts related to my Pahvelorn OD&D campaign (which has been on hold for several years now). This is one of those posts. If it feels somewhat out of left field, that is why. This is a fun item though, so I thought it still worth sharing.

In that game, one faction is a group of borg-like demonic invaders. They look like a mixture between Lord Zedd, Giger’s alien, and matte black humanoid crabs. They are highly organized, militaristic, and woven into a psychic mesh which allows telepathic communication. They cannot speak human language but at some point during the game one of the adventurers managed to communicate telepathically with a drone that had been separated from the central consciousness. I described the experience as a series of tangled visual signs and from then on the players referred to the creatures as Tangles. A tangle drone’s exoskeleton can be worn as armor if properly extracted.

There are two varieties of tangle armor, soft-shell and hard-shell.

  • Soft-shell: AC as medium armor, 5 [14].
  • Hard-shell: AC as heavy armor, 3 [16].

(Note that in this game, no AC, even for monsters, is ever mechanically better than plate.)

Anti-Disintegration. Wearers of tangle armor are immune to disintegration.

Rejuvenation. Following combat, tangle armor will heal 1d6 points of damage. This only applies to damage just suffered. This causes a head rush in a human wearer.

Pincer-Claws. Tangle armor appendages count as armaments (standard 1d6 damage). They also have 18 strength in terms of grip (think alligator jaws: easy to hold closed, hard to pry open). These pincers surround hands but do not interfere with standard hand uses.

Creepy. Wearing tangle armor results in a functional charisma score of 3 when interacting with civilized others.

Receptive. Wearers suffer disadvantage (such as -4 penalty) when resisting psychic attacks.

Wearing. To put on a suit of tangle armor safely, cast the bind exoskeleton spell. Otherwise, get naked, slip inside, and save versus stone. If the saving throw fails, roll 1d6:

  1. Armor wearer is psychically attached to the tangle hive consciousness.
  2. Armor wearer becomes unable to perform aggressive acts toward creatures with 4 or 6 legs/arms.
  3. Armor wearer’s mouth and larynx are replaced with a mandible-like mechanism that prevents speech. Spells may still be used though interpretive dance. This result is permanent even if the armor is successfully removed later.
  4. Armor wearer secretes colony spores whenever resting. There is a 1 in 6 chance that the resting place will become a new hive shortly thereafter. This hive is autonomous from the mother hive on tangle world.
  5. Armor wearer becomes a beacon. There is a 1 in 6 chance that a gate will open to tangle world every time the armor wearer rests. The gate will be located in a secluded area within one mile of the rest point and will remain open for one week.
  6. The armor fully infiltrates the wearer’s body, rearranging parts, integrating with organs, and improving resilience. Armor wearer gains one HD permanently and no longer requires oxygen but will collapse into a pile of disaggregated flesh if the armor is ever removed, even with a “safe” spell method.

(It may be enjoyable for the referee to keep this result secret assuming the effect would not be obvious to the wearer. But make a note somewhere to remember the per-rest checks!)

If the saving throw succeeds, putting the armor on has no side effect other than being permanently integrated with an alien exoskeleton.

Removal. Tangle armor may be removed from a human safely only with dispel evil (this destroys the armor) or remove curse (after which the armor may be worn by another). The armor may be removed forcefully or in a nonconsensual manner (if the wearer is restrained). This causes the wearer 3d6 damage (save versus stone for half). Spell-based removal does not protect the wearer from bodily disaggregation based on result 6 above.

Extraction. Defeating a tangle drone in combat damages or destroys the armor. Functional tangle armor can only be extracted from captured, living drones. Extraction kills the drone unless the extractor takes extraordinary measures.


Tangles have stats as hobgoblins with supplementary abilities consistent with the armor description above. In any raiding party, at least one drone will be armed with disintegration weaponry. Mounts and vehicles are hover platforms that can be psychically controlled. Tangles may be remote-controlled using telepathy (drones get a save to avoid, connecting to the hive mind risks alien psychic mental control and insanity).

 

 

Stonehell: Prepare to Die

Principles

  • Use a chassis similar to B/X
  • Use a published dungeon and structure the setting around the dungeon
  • Reinterpret dungeon elements using a Dark Souls filter

Setting

On the frontier of the central kingdom, the High King Vollrath built a fortress in the mouth of a dusty box canyon. Though billed as a borderlands fort, the location was not strategic. The extensive excavation and heavily loaded provisioning caravans were out of all proportion with a mundane outpost. After completion, visitors slowed and then stopped. One day the gates closed and did not reopen. For months, lights and guards were still visible on the parapets, and then those too vanished. Years passed, and parts of the wall fell into disrepair. Nature began the gradual process of repossessing the edifice. Then, the High King was defeated in battle and unified kingdoms fragmented again. Locals assumed that the distant civilized Central Kingdoms had forgotten the fortress.

A generation ago, those dwelling near the fortress began to behave strangely, gripped by unnatural passions. Many had nightmares. People regularly had bouts of uncontrollable rage or crippling fear. Settlers abandoned homesteads, soldiers sent to garrison outposts deserted, and trading outposts gradually became ghost towns. Soon, industry ceased.

Most people that linger are mad or catatonic, though a few have managed to retain their selves. Even the sane are plagued by nightmares with uncomfortably similar details: dark tunnels, shriveled men scurrying on all fours like roaches, and glittering treasures. Drawn by rumors of wealth, some fortune hunters regularly trek from the now divided Central Kingdoms, assuming the dangers superstition. None enter the nearby frontiers without being changed. Even those not driven mad suffer tremors and strange uncontrollable emotions that intensify with distance from the complex, growing into an obsession with the abandoned fortress. Until they return, colors are dimmer, food tastes like dust, and nothing seems to satisfy. All return, many to die in the depths or to a madman’s cracked blade.


Next up: B/X style playbook design inspired by Dark Souls starting classes.

Symbaroum starting background

Thistle Hold from Symbaroum core book

Thistle Hold from Symbaroum core book

Background:

  • There are two commonly known frontier outposts, Thistle Hold, commonly known as Beacon after the 300 foot tower topped with a constantly stoked bonfire, and Moors, a newer shantytown established by itinerants about a day’s travel from Beacon.
  • Citizenship in Beacon is a luxury. Non-citizen workers live outside the palisades and must leave by dusk. Invitations from established citizens or purchased credentials allow visitors to remain within.
  • Moors is much smaller than Beacon, mostly made up of tents, and is reputed to be much more dangerous.
  • Both border the great primordial forest Davokar. The forest shrouds the ruins of the ancient empire Symbaroum.
  • Barbarian custom and law forbids venturing more than several days into the forest. The exact taboo varies from tribe to tribe. Adventurers on the frontier take this restriction with various degrees of seriousness.
  • You begin at the Broken Spokes coach house, with roads going to both Moors and Beacon.

Hooks, common local traveller knowledge:

  1. The patron of Moors, House Erebus, is hiring small mercenary companies as privateers.
  2. The Ordo Magica outpost in Beacon seeks certain artifacts and information from Davokar.
  3. Local rangers from Beacon have discovered ruins which require special talents to navigate. Inquire at Beacon’s barracks.

They came from gates in the sky

To Alberetor in golden chariots the Gray Knights came. Queen Korinthia greeted them as emissaries of the sun god but they were not emissaries, they were conquerors. After many bitter years of war, the Queen fled north over the Titan Mountains with the remnants of her people to the barbarian lands bordering the endless primordial forest Davokar. Alberetor remains a blighted ruin presided over by the inscrutable Gray Knights. Though the church of Alberetor has always paid respects nominally to all immortal offices, in practice the sun lord Prios came traditionally to be exalted over all others. Because the order of Prios welcomed the knights from the sky, this hierarchy has become contested. North of the Titan Mountains, the Queen founded the new realm of Ambria. The nobles of Ambria have now turned their attention to incorporating or eliminating barbarians and subduing the forest itself, which shrouds the ancient mysteries of the lost civilization Symbaroum. Explorers of the forest depths report weird happenings far beyond the mundane dangers posed by unknown, hostile wilderness. Ambrian adventurers seeking fortune in the opportunities created by these upheavals, concentrated in the border town of Thistle Hold, are divided regarding respecting or exploiting unknown Davokar.


This campaign abstract is derived from the default setting of Symbaroum.

Personal photo of Symbaroum core book

Personal photo of Symbaroum core book

Hexagram Symbaroum prospectus

I am going to start running a campaign soon, within the next week or two. I plan to run sessions both in person and online within the same setting and sharing the same fictional timeline. All player characters from both in-person and online games will likely belong to the same adventuring company.

For rules, I will be using the current beta version of my Hexagram ruleset. It should be recognizable to anyone that has played in one of my games before as it incorporates the most recent unreleased version of the Hazard System as the engine. The player character advancement system is slightly more freeform than traditional D&D but should be easily approachable. Advancement has been significantly streamlined even compared to previous playtest versions of Hexagram and the Final Castle. Experience points will be gained from building relationships with factions or personages rather than recovering treasure.

I will be using the setting from the Swedish RPG Symbaroum as my starting point, though I will be dialing up the elements that remind me of Slaine and dialing down the elements that seem like Tolkien through a Swedish lens. In particular, the witches and barbarians of Symbaroum remind me of the Drunes and their people. I will be reimagining the nature of the Dark Lords and the civilized religion of the sun god Prios to make them less black and white. I chose Symbaroum primarily because I like the art but also because the setting provides a set of factions and personages that should ease my prep work. I may also incorporate some elements from Gavin‘s excellent Wormskin zine, though my vision of Symbaroum and the great forest Davokar is far less fey than Dolmenwood.

Session structure will follow the excursion format, meaning consistent player attendance will neither be necessary nor expected. I have a core of regular players that I will give precedence to regarding session seats but based on my experience there will also often be openings for others. I will post about specific scheduling and availability on Google Plus. This will NOT, however, be a Flailsnails-friendly campaign. Over the summer, I plan to run 8-10 sessions after which I will assess the rules for any needed modifications and the campaign for continued interest.

I considered running the Adversary’s Dungeon scenario I posted about recently but decided that I did not want to run a tentpole mega-dungeon campaign this time. There will, however, still be plenty of dungeon exploration. Further, I think the Adversary’s Dungeon concept would require a significant amount of upfront effort in preparation to run the way I would prefer and one of my main goals for this campaign is to minimize my initial prep overhead.

More details about the setting and rules forthcoming.

The Adversary’s Dungeon

Following is a background sketch for a potential campaign.


The rapture has come and gone. Any chosen departed. From below came the Adversary, no longer constrained to the Dungeon, to claim tyrannical dominion of what remained.

Though eternal, hubris afflicts the Adversary. Clever magic applied with savvy and sacrifice casts the Adversary back down into the Dungeon. Even the Adversary is part of existence and so subject to fundamental relations properly deployed.

So organized, the world staggers through cycles of evil and reprieve. When imprisoned, the Adversary cultivates temptations and treasures below. Invitation from those above alone is how the Adversary can return.

Inevitably, memories of past horrors fade and once vigilant guardians become complacent. Some come to doubt the existence of the Adversary below and ridicule the old rituals. Beliefs notwithstanding, opening the Dungeon’s gates requires only will and black magic.

Though deep seals prevent the Adversary from emerging fully even once the gates fail, lesser monsters are not similarly constrained. First as a trickle, then as a torrent, they come, messengers proclaiming by their rampage the Adversary’s impending arrival.

Again the gates are open. Strongholds stoke sentinel bonfires to keep the monsters at bay. Danger challenges the fellowship of humanity as alliances agreed in times of plenty crumble. As armies are tender fodder for greater monsters, only infiltration has any hope of success in reaching the inner sanctum. From the Adversary’s broken body renewed Dungeon gates may be fashioned.

To close the doors and renew all seals, venture below and defeat the Adversary. Or, seek wicked wages by breaking the seals to earn the Adversary’s acclaim and gratitude, inaugurating a new long night.

Under the Eclipse

Eclipse image by T. Kuboki

Eclipse image by T. Kuboki

History has never recorded more than temporary stalemates in the wars between the city-states of the Shallow Seas. Proud Patmos, our city, was one of the greatest. In a daring gambit our admirals sought to build a flotilla in secret with which to crush our greatest rival and establish unassailable command of all other cities. However, the plan was discovered, by treachery or ill luck, and our enemy struck first, burning the warships in their hidden coves and striking the forts on our shores with a ferocity that overwhelmed our unprepared defenses.

Our navy smoldering and our armies in retreat, the Primarchs were desperate. The sorcerer Ascidia Bel, long bereft of influence though as yet unbanished, took the crisis as an opportunity. He promised to defeat the invaders with ancient war magic if the coffers were put at his disposal and his fellow magicians were allowed back to aid him in the weaving of the great spell. With the bonfires of the enemy sighted from our towers and only days away, the Primarchs acquiesced.

Bel put out a call for his dispersed fellows and over the course of the next day a carnival of witches, warlocks, and diviners answered his summons. They worked feverishly through the night, preparing tribute and sacrifices. The wizards dug trenches in forbidden patterns and filled them with the herbed blood of oxen and prisoners. They stacked treasure in pyramids that reflected the light of tall cylindrical bonfires and chanted sibilant magic words that slid off the ears and defied comprehension despite superficial simplicity.

Ascidia Bel uttered the final syllable almost in a whisper but it was clear as a trumpet call. All was still for several moments. Then the ground began to shake and Bel began to scream. His face melted off and his body crumpled forward. His flesh ignited, burning with an intensity reserved for lost chemistries. Still it lies to this day in the central plaza, always burning, never consumed, too hot to approach closer than ten paces. Several of the taller towers, built by secret societies of masons using hidden techniques, collapsed. The faces of the other sorcerers burst into flame but they did not die. They scattered, crawling on all fours, scurrying like insects, fleeing from their fallen chief into the shadows.

We heard strange drums far off. Lights flickered beyond the hills and over the Shallow Seas. From the mist and smoke and raining ash they came. Some shambling, some stomping, some prancing like acrobats. The smallest was the height of four tall men and no two were alike. Hefting terrible weapons, all rust and spines and cleaving iron, they clustered near the radiant beacon of the ruined sorcerer husk, milling like bees around honey to receive their charge, then like wolves scenting prey, set off into the night.

The next day the sun rose shedding little light, obscured by a disk of blackness in permanent eclipse. After the sortie, no foreign travelers arrived. The roads were empty. Venturing forth, our envoys found abandoned way houses. Only dust inhabited nearby towns. Scouting parties spotted unmanned galleys drifting aimlessly, directed now by only tides and winds.

An outrider discovered one of the summoned creatures in a field outside one empty town, standing almost motionless, hundreds of vultures perched on its shoulders and the trees nearby. Soon after, three of Ascidia Bel’s giant avengers returned. At first we fled in panic, thinking that they meant to finish what began the night before the eclipse, but they seemed not to see us. Now, one walks up and down the river ceaselessly. Another stands by the great sundial. The last waded into a storehouse, structural timbers snapping like twigs, then halted as if it had forgotten its intent. They ignore us like we do not exist. Some of us call the creatures Guardians, and lay wreathes and fresh sacrifices at their titanic feet, to which they pay no attention, inscrutable.

Crops were left to rot in the fields. Some saw these events as heralding the dissolution of mortal law, and there was brief unrest, but the troublemakers were either slain or exiled. We do not know if the calamity outside our walls has claimed them. Grain stores remain plentiful, though they will not last indefinitely, and the river is lavish with fish, so our stomachs are filled though our spirits remain anxious.

Around this time beasts began to change, growing to unnatural sizes. We noticed first with the fish from the river, then stray dogs and hounds. The larger the animal, the more feral. Wicked hawks grown large have snatched lone venturers into the sky.

Our city is the last city. The day is drenched in shadow like constant twilight. The night is warm and fetid. I fear we have called up the agents of the end of the world. The bravest of us have formed small companies to venture beyond our walls, but others, terrified of the unknown, form coteries to safeguard what remains inside.


This is the setting background for a Hexagram play test.

Weapons of unusual size

Young Guts from Berserk

Young Guts from Berserk

Hexagram characters begin with stats rated from 0 to 3, using the arrays I originally developed for Gravity Sinister. (There is a random determination table for players that do not like to bother with making choices.) Then, each level, including first, players choose one stat to improve. The same stat cannot be improved two levels in a row. The max character level is 10, which means that the highest a stat can be naturally is 8 (3 initial + the 5 for every other level increases).

Among other benefits, characters with higher strength scores can wield ever more obscenely scaled weapons. There are three size categories beyond standard: huge, giant, and colossal. They require, respectively, strength scores of 4, 6, and 8, to wield effectively. (Category names are subject to adjustment.)

For normal weapons, strength adds to melee damage, up to +3. Larger weapons can express strength beyond this limit. Huge weapons allow up to +5, giant up to +7, and colossal up to +8. (In general, the max bonus is one less than the ability threshold for the next largest weapon category.) For simplicity, there are no special encumbrance considerations for oversized weapons. Each counts as one significant item. They do, however, cost more to repair (an additional 1d6 * 10 SP per exceptional size category).

Larger weapons retain any type benefits. Thus, a giant axe can express up to +7 melee damage from strength and also provides a sunder bonus to damaging enemy equipment. Oversized missile weapons apply strength to damage rather than perception, but are fixed at +4, +6, or +8, depending on the size category. For example, a huge elephant gun deals +4 damage even if the wielder has 5 strength. Such weapons still use perception for attack tests.

Though this system is designed with big weapons in mind, it would be easy to adapt to enchanted weapons that would only serve worthy warriors (that is, those strong enough or with large enough attack bonus for D&D), and so could be another way to explain and manage the traditional restriction that only fighters can use magic swords.

For AD&D (1E and 2E) ability scores, use the strength damage bonus rather than the Hexagram strength ability. For something like D&D 3E or 5E, use the ability modifier. The mappings are not perfect, but they should be good enough. Some other rulings may be required, given that HP quantities in 3E or 5E are higher that the OD&D standards I tend to assume, so adjust accordingly.

Edit: though above I noted that there are no special considerations regarding encumbrance, I am not fully convinced that is the right way to go. I think as written there may be insufficient incentive for diversity of weapon choices (that is, anyone with high strength would prefer an oversized weapon), which is perhaps uninteresting. I will need to see how this plays at the table, but one potential modification would be for each extra size category to count as a significant item, though I am wary of slipping graduated encumbrance in via the backdoor.

Inspiration:

Pursuer's Ultra Greatsword from Dark Souls 2

Pursuer’s Ultra Greatsword from Dark Souls 2

Guts from Berserk

Guts from Berserk

Monster Hunter concept art

Monster Hunter concept art

Cloud from Final Fantasy 7

Cloud from Final Fantasy 7

Saw spear from Bloodborne

Saw spear from Bloodborne

Monster Hunter concept art

Monster Hunter concept art

Bow from Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter concept art

Afterlands

Firelink Shrine from Dark Souls

Firelink Shrine from Dark Souls

In the Afterlands, also called the Quiet Lands, the dead no longer hunger. They abide, mostly content, eternally. Following the Great Conjunction, after death many mortals began to find themselves aware again after death in that spare place. The Afterlands is far in the Southwest, beyond the deserts, and is marked by crisp air, green rolling hills well suited to sheep, and skies so blue they seem to go on forever. Not all dead find themselves waking from life in this place, and none know where the others go, if anywhere. The borders of the Afterlands are marked sporadically by a low, broken stone wall of no more than several feet in height, like the remnants of some previously proud fortification.

Some of the undying dead preserve a sense of self and memories by continuing the habits and practices of life, though to persist they no longer truly need sleep or sustenance. However, those undying dead that neglect such needs slowly lose individuality, becoming more inert, contemplative, and complete in themselves. There are exceptions to this majority. Some feel a nagging lack of completion, unsatisfied by eternity, and journey back into the world seeking what fortune still remains. Others have a consciousness not suited for long reflection, and go mad, hungering for lost vitality. These few hungry dead are driven from the heart of the Afterlands, either east across the desert, or into the caves deep below.

The living are welcome in the Afterlands, as long as they do not cause too much trouble. The pace of undying life is languid and the atmosphere is peaceful, though dangers remain for travelers. After death, emergence in the Afterlands happens in a multitude of ways. Some rise from ponds, at first confused by the water and lack of breath. Some sit up from shallow graves, surrounded by rich loam. Some wake in the warm embrace of cremation ash, flesh already stripped from pale white bones. Many undying dead have found meaning in cultivating these places of emergence. They tend cremation gardens, dig graves, plant tombstones, and inscribe guest lists of those likely to arrive soon using long quills dripping with rare imported green ink.

Adventurers wishing to know an aspect of their uncertain fate may visit the Afterlands and seek out a future ungrave. The undying cultivators know this service is valuable to mortals, and further that it is only valuable if it is valued. Thus, they take payment for this service. By seeking out an ungrave, an Adventurer will wake upon death as a skeleton in the Afterlands, bereft of all gear, but retaining memories and experience.

Though the conjunction of the material world with this afterlife is strongest in the realm now known as the Afterlands, pockets of afterlife can be found scattered across other lands. Afterlands expatriates sometimes tire of the exploration life and decide to settle down, but for whatever reason choose not to return to the lands west of the sands. Such emigrants may build and tend their own cremation kilns or ungrave cemeteries. Given that they are often mistaken for the hungry dead, such establishments are usually hidden. It is possible to stumble upon them or seek them out given knowledge of the signs. An Adventurer can even dig their own ungrave with a Gravedigger’s Shovel, or leave an offering at the ash pits surrounding a cremation kiln. Such ungraves work just like those in the Afterlands, though they lack the permanence of the true Afterlands.

Gravedigger’s Shovel. To make a temporary ungrave, spend a Haven Action and dig a shallow grave with a Gravedigger’s Shovel. A gravestone slowly rises from a properly formed ungrave. After use, a Gravedigger’s Shovel becomes a mundane shovel. Cost: 200 SP.

Cremation Kiln or Ungrave Cemetery. For a small fee, an undying attendant will fashion a permanent ungrave in this Afterlands outpost. Cost: 500 SP per Adventurer Level. (Similar services in the Afterlands proper cost 250 SP per Adventurer Level.)

The gear of a fallen and abandoned Adventurer will generally remain together, either left on the corpse or taken by a monster, for at least a few Haven Turns. However, if not recovered promptly, all bets are off and items may sold, traded, lost, or destroyed.