Archive for March 2009

Adventure!

March 29, 2009
A Wraith in the Barrowdelve

A Wraith in the Barrowdelve

Without adventure, a setting is nothing. Players make adventurers and heroes, and these need places to explore, monsters to fight and mysteries to solve.

So what places, monsters and mysteries does Mor Aldenn offer a group of adventurers?

 

The Curse of the Night Hag 

Low to high-level characters

Something is making the dead walk the streets of Mor Aldenn. Moraldenns have named this new threat the Curse of the Night Hag, but its really not a curse at all, but a powerful artifact that is making the dead restless. It is, however, the night hag who is behind the artifact.

Low-level PCs may find themselves invited to the Mage Guild where they are hired to patrol the streets at night. The Barrowdelve Gate has been magically sealed, but some undead still find their way into the streets at night, a mystery the mages have yet to solve.

Mid-level PCs are hired to enter the Barrowdelve and retrieve certain items. The moraldenns fear that the undead will destroy their memories hidden within the Barrowdelve and seek the PCs to retrieve them before this happens. The mages will open the gate during the day, but from there on the PCs will be on their own.

High-level PCs will be asked to find the source of the curse. They are asked to go to deep into the Barrowdelve, where they will fight very powerful undead. When they find the artifact, they will need to destroy it (quickly) or become undead themselves.

 

The Night Hag

Low to high-level characters

The night hag of the Spindlewood Marshes has risen again. Her coven has regained its strength and she is amassing a great army to the west of Mor Aldenn.

Among her army is lizardfolk, kobolds, giants, human brigands and, of course, other hags (mostly green hags). They are not all found in the marshes, but patrol the surrounding forest, striking out against travellers, merchants and the small villages.

Low-level PCs are hired as guards or even guides. A merchant needs to travel to a small village to the west and fears brigands and kobolds. A rich innkeeper must visit his dying mother and needs guards to keep him safe. Maybe the Mage Guild hires them to kill kobolds and lizardfolk, or perhaps a mage hires them to capture an ettercap.

Mid-level PCs are hired to kill hill giants, especially the infamous tribe that terrorizes the forest east of Mor Aldenn, making the road to Ossindil dangerous. They may also be hired to find the night hag’s spies (see Nolly Ravenheart).

High-level PCs are strong enough to make the journey into the dreadful Spindlewood Marshes where they must fight the night hag herself. Elven mages are also interested in finding an ancient (now lost) elven city within the marsh, and perhaps they hire the PCs to seek it out and retrieve some of its many secrets.

 

The Demon Tower

Mid to high-level characters

 The Fallen Tower has been abandoned for decades and the mages have tried to kill the demon many times, failing each time. Perhaps the PCs will succeed, retrieving ancient secrets of summoning and conjuration. The Mage Guild will pay them greatly if they succeed.

Art by Gary Dupuis (www.gdupuis.com)

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[Fiction] Road to Mor Aldenn

March 25, 2009

The road looked no different now than it had an hour ago. There was dust in the air, and lots of it, but Esrimal had gotten used to that and now it was just another thing that bothered him. A little dust was nothing, what the traveller really wondered about was all the wild creatures who made Ossindrillon their home. Back in the village, he had heard so many stories, one worse than the other.

Even now, Esrimal could hear the voice of his uncle as it echoed in the back of his head.

Lad, the road to Mor Aldenn is no place for a young man, there’ll be orcs on the road, if you are lucky, and stone giants if ye are not! They care nothing for the likes of us, no they dont! All those nasty creatures care about is food. And thats what we are to them…food!

Esrimal knew those words to be true, even though he had never left the village before, but did he really have a choice? There was nothing back in Moon’s Folly, at least nothing to keep him there. His uncle had wanted him to work at the farm, but that was no work for an adventurer!

Esrimal had always thought of himself as an adventurer. It wasn’t really true, though, all the adventure he had ever had was climbing up to Halca’s Stone to spend the night under the dark sky. There were stories of ghosts, of course, but thats all they were, stories and everybody in the village knew it. He hadn’t fooled anyone with his display of courage.

Perhaps if Esrimal came back from Mor Aldenn with something truly magical, maybe then the others would call him by his full name and perhaps even, be proud of him. This thought was what had driven him out upon the dusty road, a thought that would haunt him until he laid eyes upon the City of Mages!

His mind had wandered for a bit, but suddenly a loud sound ahead of Esrimal tore him away from the past into the present!

What could possibly had made such a horrendous sound, certainly not another traveller like himself, or even something humanoid? It had to be one of the creatures that his uncle had warned him about.

Esrimal grabbed the only thing that he knew could defend him, the rusty dagger belted at his side. It didn’t look like much, but without it, Esrimal would have felt completely defenseless. He was defenseless, though, because no one had ever bothered to teach him its use in a fight.

For a good long moment, Esrimal the Traveller stood on the northward road, dagger in hand and with a heart that beat faster than any horse could ever hope to run. The road turned, making it impossible to see what lay ahead of him. Had it been winter, perhaps he could have spotted the beast between the naked trees, but now the summer leaves made it near impossible.

Another sound broke the silence, and then a third. They were shrill beastly sounds and Esrimal got the sense that two unimaginable creatures were fighting eachother in the dirt road ahead of him.

Esrimal started forward, his courage regained. The beasts were not out to hunt him, they were hunting eachother: a comforting thought.

More to come.

Artwork

March 23, 2009

Does a picture say more than a thousand words?

I believe so… and therefore, I’ve already commissioned the first illustrations from my favorite artist, Gary Dupuis.

Here is what you can expect to see within long (a few weeks or so);

Two of the truly important NPCs of Mor Aldenn, Valthor of Calathia and Yargus Tem. These are two guildmasters who may end up playing a big part in the PCs life.

A few hanging signs, among them the Ugly Harpy!

The symbol of the Fighters’ Guild. I gave the artist a bit of freedom here, if he wants it, if not, it’ll have a rather classic look.

The Barrowdelve Gate. This is a very important place to the city, but also to the PCs. It is the gateway to the best known dungeon within miles and the PCs will most likely be sent here to explore recent happenings.

The Fallen Tower. So far, my favorite place in Mor Aldenn. This is no place for low-level PCs and so may not be all that important to begin with, but it is one of the defining places within the city, and therefore I cant wait to see it illustrated.

What would you like to see illustrated?

Another history lesson…

March 23, 2009

Taraathalorm Wyrmmother

Long before the founding of Mor Aldenn, nearly 350 years ago, a green dragon named Taraathalorm settled on the big island. It had managed to escape its mortal enemies of the east, the elves of faraway Ossindil. Under different circumstances, the dragon may have stayed to fight, but this particular dragon had a belly full of eggs and needed somewhere safe to make a nest. This is exactly what it found here at the heart of Ossindrillon, or so Taraathalorm thought.

The eggs hatched and for a time the island was swarming with green wyrmlings. They may well have destroyed the last remnants of the tower that stood on the hill, scattering the memories of a lost era.

Taraathalorm would leave the nest and bring back food for her young, often staying away for weeks. Some believe that the Horse Downs is actually named after the horse bones that the first settlers found beneath the hill, but this may not be the entire truth.

Five years after Taraathalorm hatched her young wyrmlings, a group of human travellers discover the nest. The largest and most powerful of the wyrmlings is brutally slain, but the humans manage to bring the rest of the wyrmlings with them to Ossindil where they sell them to the elven wizards.

When Taraathalorm finally returns, she is enraged to find one of her wyrmlings murdered and the rest stolen. She smells humans, but suspect that the elves are behind the theft, especially since the trail leads directly towards Ossindil. She sends her minions against the elven city, who successfully destroys a few villages and towns on their way to the elven capital. However, in the end, the army is scattered by the elves who wields some of the strongest magic in the world. A few minions return to Taraathalorm bearing the bad news. She is enraged and filled with an even stronger hate than before. But with her army scattered she cannot strike at the elves.

A group of humans and elves from Ossindrillon travels to the island where Taraathalorm resides. They attack during the night and successfully slay the green dragon. The heroes bring back a dragonstone, taken from the chest of Taraathalorm, as proof of their deed. This famous dragonstone is later named the Emerald Heart and is, to this day, still in the elves possession.

The small group search the island and finds remnants of a lost age, but more importantly, they also find a place of strong magic. There is something hidden, deep below the island, which makes this place the perfect home of wizards, sorcerers and bards.

Designer’s Notes

There is, indeed, something hidden deep below Mor Aldenn, but so far, the mages have not managed to find the source of this magic. They do, however, suspect that it is not by accident that the magic is strong here and have delved deep. This dungeon that the mages have carved from the earth can be accessed through the Barrow delve, but also through the Tower of All-Magic. In fact, most of the mage towers have a portal that takes the mages into the deep reaches.

This place may be Dragon’s Delve… or perhaps, some other ancient dungeon.

Concerning magic items

March 20, 2009

A City of Mages without magic items would be like… a city of adventure without adventurers…

Of course you’ll find lots of magic items here in the City of Mages, but that doesn’t mean that every inhabitant of Mor Aldenn carries 5-10 magic items each. Magic is still expensive and cost more than gold to the artificer.

However, magic is definitely more common here than in other cities of the world. If you are looking for something powerful ,unique or just personal, you can go directly to the Mage Guild and commission one of the artificers for the item. Maybe something already exists, but if it doesn’t, there is a good chance that someone has the skill to make it.

If you are just looking for a scroll, a wand or perhaps a potion, there are lots of minor magic shops found around the city. These items are often sold at a discount, and while the commoners rarely carry magical staffs or rings, there is a good chance that they have a few potions or perhaps even a wand.

Designer’s Notes

Adventurers should have the opportunity to buy magic items, and in Mor Aldenn, this is very much a possibility. Wizards, sorcerers or bards who are members of the Mage Guild can buy arcane materials at a 10% discount, which basically means that to make a magical item is much cheaper in the City of Mages.

Nolly Ravenheart

March 19, 2009

An old hunched woman walks down the dirt road towards Mor Aldenn. She carries a weird staff with a head the shape of a funny-looking raven, yet does not use the staff as such. Her raven black hair hides most of her face, a worn face that have seen more years than most humans in the city of mages.

Nolly Ravenheart (female human, druid13) is a druid and healer known by most moraldenns. She lives a seemingly quiet life in Mor Aldenn, but those who know her even better also knows that she frequently leaves the city. Nolly is a good person, or rather, she was a good person. How she came to be a member of the night hag’s secret coven is a story that only she and her mistress know, but it may be related to the death of her husband, Alwis the Mage.

When Nolly leaves Mor Aldenn, she takes the shape of a raven and flies towards the Spindlewood Marshes, to see her mistress. She is a spy within the city of mages, who frequently makes reports to the night hag.

Another well-kept secret concerns the dark curse in the Barrowdelve. Nolly Ravenheart hid an artifact deep within the ancient vaults, an artifact that awaken the dead to unlife each night.

Valthor of Calathia

March 16, 2009

Mor Aldenn is not just a home of wizards and sorcerers. You’ll find lots of other great personalities, heroes and adenturers here as well, like the naive Mayor Oswin, the secretive innkeeper Yargus Tem, the odd diviner Grey and the powerhungry Lord Balsadarus.

Prince Valthor of Calathia is one of these important persons that help define Mor Aldenn as more than just a magehome.

16 years ago, a feud shattered the royal family of Calathia, driving Prince Valthor north to the City of Mages. All Valthor took from his childhood home was a magical demonslaying greatsword (his legacy) that he offered to the mages in return for their guidance and friendship. That blade can be found somewhere within the Tower of All-Magic, though few know its exact location. Valthor does not consider this blade his own, but have promised the mages that he will wield it again if they ask it of him.

Prince Valthor has made Mor Aldenn his home and sanctuary, creating a strong, if small, fighters’ guild. Here, he is one of three guildmasters, though Prince Valthor founded the guild on his own. All members give Valthor the respect that he deserves, and while he would never call himself the leader of the guild, the others will.

Some call Prince Valthor a knight and lord, but he would never call himself that. Valthor is a prince no longer, but a simple fighter with a great and compasisonate heart. He is brave and valorous beyond compare and those who claim membership in the guild, do so because of him.

About the Fighters’ Guild

The guild offers a blade and a shield to those who truly needs it. They would never join an army or even a warband, instead they guard shops, slay beasts, helps caravans, yes anything that requires a sword, a shield and a valorous heart.

A member of the fighters’ guild is no crude warrior, but a virtuous fighter who follow the codex of the guild, as set forth and signed by the three guildmasters. 

Designer’s Note

Also, I imagine that the guildhall, where you can always (or at least, most of the time) find Prince Valthor and most guildmembers, looks like the house below.