Posted tagged ‘Spindlewood Marshes’

A Trail of Poison – Part II

April 27, 2009

Continuing the write-up of the adventures of Mor Aldenn, I’ve come to writing the background story. I consider this training and much will definitely change before the final adventure is “published”.

 

A Trail of Poison (a Mor Aldenn adventure)

Adventure Background

For 300 years, the city of Mor Aldenn have been at war with the night hag of the Spindlewood Marsh. She is a strong archenemy and with each defeat, the vicious night mistress has grown ever more hateful of the mages and their city. How the night hag has survived these countless wars, remains a mystery even to this day, but she seem to finally understand that to destroy the mages of Mor Aldenn, she must first weaken them.

After months of peace, the night hag finally shows her face. A hag in her coven has discovered a long lost tower deep within the treacherous Spindlewood. At the heart of the forgotten tower, she has also found a powerful artifact that has the power to attract the animals of the forest. With this artifact, the night hag hopes to strike at the mages.

That the mages use the magic of the surrounding lands, is a well-known fact. They find magic, not only in the trees, plants, lakes, rivers and the earth, but also in the animals that make Ossindrillon their home. To strike at these animals would indeed pose a severe threat to the mages.

The forgotten tower lies by a shadowy lake; a lake of poisoned water. This poison eats away at the very soul of those who drink it. Now the night hag uses the artifact to call out to the magical beasts. She forces them to come to the shadow lake and drink its poison, and while most of the beasts die by the lake, some are strong enough to escape into the Spindlewood. But their fate is sealed, no one survives the poison, not even the fabled unicorn.

The First Adventure…

April 22, 2009

Which of the following ideas would you like to see developed into the very first adventure of Mor Aldenn?

 

The Heirloom from the Delve

One day, an heirloom turns up in Mor Aldenn, seemingly by accident. It was supposed to be buried deep within the Barrowdelve, but is someone looting the necropolis of the city of mages? And like that wasn’t bad enough… this heirloom appears to be cursed!

 

The Spy

An old and weak woman dies one day, a brutal death by the hands of some vicious and unknown creature. The necromancers of the Shadow Tower bring back her soul briefly, to ask her a few questions. It seems that she know the identity of one of the night hag’s many spies… but when she tries to utter the name, the spell is broken! Can the PCs find the murderous creature and possibly…the spy?

 

The Strange Death

A local druid returns to Mor Aldenn, bearing terrible news. He has found several magical beasts in the surrounding forest, dead. It appears that they have been somehow… poisoned! When the PCs investigate the poisonous trail, they find a dying unicorn who knows some of the truth, but before the creature can tell them everything it knows, they are attacked by the cruel minions of the night hag…

 

Luck in the Woods

A wizard from the Tower of All-Magic needs the PCs to catch a blink dog. They are (under no circumstances!) to kill the beast or make it suffer, he wants it (mostly) unharmed and alive. However, while looking for this beast in the forest, the PCs come across a group of half-elves and human rogues who catch (dead or alive) magical beasts! The small group hope to sell the beasts to a nameless buyer in one of the western settlements… but will the PCs allow this?

 

The Theft

Something is stolen from the PCs, an item of value and importance. A little investigation leads to… nothing. However, a few days later, the PCs learn from a shadow in the night, that a caravan is transporting stolen goods south. Will the PCs be able to track down the caravan, find the thieves and perhaps learn the identity of their shadow ally? In fact, if the PCs play their cards right, they may uncover a whole organization of thieves…

 

The Demon’s Cult

An imp, a prophet who has terrible nightmares, a Fallen tower, a young cult and the deomn they worships and who wish to be free of its prison. Will the PCs be able to hunt down the cultists, stop their scheme and perhaps learn secrets of the Fallen Tower’s single inhabitant… or will the cultists unleash a fury upon the city unlike any Mor Aldenn has ever seen? 

 

Remember that these are just ideas, and will definitely change (somewhat) before the adventure is finished!

The Setting

April 19, 2009

What follows is a short essay on the lands that surround Mor Aldenn, and that are important to the City of Mages. Some of these locations can be found on the map, but not all of them.

Ossindrillon

To merely call Ossindrillon a huge forest doesn’t do it justice at all. Granted, most of Ossindrillon is indeed covered by forest, but any traveler worth his boots, will tell you of the rushing rivers, the thundering waterfalls, the deep azure lakes, the troll-infested marshes and, of course, about its titans – the three mountains!

None of the intelligent races have ever been able to tame and dominate this great wilderness completely, though the elves have indeed come close! Once the elven cities were spread all over Ossindrillon, but after the great Elven Wars, only a few cities remained. The elven noble houses had almost managed to destroy their entire race, but today they stand more united than ever before, having learned the lessons of their dark past.

Ossindrillon is home to both humans, elves, halflings, kobolds, centaurs, orcs and goblins, in fact, you’ll probably find small towns dominated by each of these races, if only you search long enough. You’ll also find undead here, along with harpies, trolls, hags, giants, ettercaps, blink dogs and many other creatures. For some of these creatures, Ossindrillon is the only place in the world that allows them to survive. Yes, you’ll even find dragons in the great wilderness.

Ossindil

The elven capital is one of those ancient elven cities that survived the great Elven Wars. It has changed a lot over the years, but some of the old structures can still be found at the heart of Ossindil. Today, not only elves make this city their home, no, you’ll find both humans, centaurs and halflings living side by side with the elves. Ossindil is famous for its magical bridges that allow its citizens to walk freely amongst the islands.

Spindlewood

This huge forest is located west of Mor Aldenn, a dangerous place infamous for its inhabitants, the spiders. They are not all to be feared, but most are. You’ll also find other creatures hiding here, like the ettercaps. In the southern part of the Spindlewood, you’ll find marshlands also called the Spindlewood Marsh.

Spindlewood Marsh

This is actually not a marsh in the best sense of the word, especially since you’ll find lots of different tree types here. These trees are often short and with long twisted branches that entangle making traveling difficult. The Spindlewood Marsh is best known as the home of the venomous night hag, the archenemy of Mor Aldenn. She has lived here for more than 300 years, and call the entire marsh her dominion.

River Tassalin

This small river springs from the hills east of Mor Aldenn. A waterfall makes it one of the rushing rivers, a truly beautiful river. A few small hamlets have sprung up along this river over the years.

Moon’s Folly

This is a small town located south of Mor Aldenn, the home of 700 inhabitants, mostly humans. It is surrounded by wooden palisades, a necessity since its still very much located at the heart of Ossindrillon. Its inhabitants are known to be very religious, revering the Moon Goddess. The name is still very much a riddle, even to those who live here.

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)

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.

A small history lesson…

March 13, 2009

The Marsh War began long ago, before there was even fragments of a settlement on the banks of the converging rivers. A group of elven wizards from distant Ossindil (the great elven city of Ossindrillond) travelled west towards the great human empires and on their way back, lost their way in the Spindlewood Marshes. It was here, that they found an ancient enemy. A creature of the night, a creature with a hate unlike anything the elves had previously seen. It was a night hag, one of the vilest creatures imaginable.

The group managed to escape the clutches of the night hag, but not before losing a few of their friends. They left behind them a trail of blood, and henceforth the Spindlewood Marshes was also known as the Crimson Lands. They did, however, manage to wound their adversary and according to legends, blinded the night hag on her left eye. A wound that marks her to this day!

Since that first fatal meeting, the night hag have hated the elves of Ossindrillon. An elven message was sent to Calathia, the human realm of the south, a message begging the humans for help. The respons was quick to arrive in the form of a large band of human wizards. The war continued, forcing the alliance to make a stand on the island where now Mor Aldenn lies. They succeeded at dealing the night hag yet another lethal blow, killing six green hags from her coven. This time the night hag retreated far into the Spindlewood Marshes where she hid for many decades. She now knew the strength of her adversary and would never again underestimate him.

Current events
The night hag has brought down a curse on Mor Aldenn, bringing the city of the dead, also called Barrowdelve, to life, or rather, to unlife. Barrowdelve is hidden deep within the hill (also called Tower Hill) that rises on the main island, a city (or rather a dungeon) where Mor Aldenn have buried their dead for hundreds of years. Now, as the curse spreads, the dead is awoken to life. The wizards have managed to lock the gates with their magic, but not before skeletons, ghouls and zombies created havoc in the streets, killing lots of innocents. However, there are some undead that a magically locked gate will not keep out, like shadows and ghosts. Fortunately for the citizens of Mor Aldenn, the undead only appear at night and the wizards have hired adventurers to patrol the nocturnal streets.

The Barrowdelve

March 10, 2009

Ghouls in the streets

Ghouls in the streets

Yes, the gates into the Barrowdelve used to be open to all, but these days, the ancestral halls may be the least safe place to be, especially at night! They say that the vile night hag of the Spindlewood Marshes has cast a deadly curse upon Mor Aldenn, waking the undead at night… but if you ask me, its those necromancers of the Shadow Tower causing all this nightly chaos!

 

– Caldrim, fisherman on the Tassalin river.

A long time ago, the inhabitants of Mor Aldenn decided that they would use the mound in the middle of the isle as a sort of necropolis. The first chambers were dug almost 300 years ago, but since then it has grown a little each year. The moraldenns are very proud of this dungeon, which they name their ancestral halls, and see it as a monument to their history and especially, to their ancestors. The wealthy have entire sections of the necroplois devoted to them. bought and paid for of course, while most others have their bones or ashes displayed in the impressive Hall of Bones.

The heroes of Mor Aldenn is an entirely different matter, as are the mages vaults. Heroes are often mummified and displayed in sarcophaguses in the Inner Sanctuary, while lesser known adventurers have their bones gilded and displayed in the hallways, along with the recollections of their valorous deeds.

The mages vault is perhaps the most secure part of the Barrowdelve, sealed behind arcane wards and doors, protected by magical guardians. The vault is not only home of the dead, but also a place where the mages store some of their worst secrets. Also, its not all mages that have their remains locked away in the vault, in fact, if you are allowed to sleep your eternal rest in the Vaults is up to the masters of the Mage Guild.

Recently, the dead have risen, causing havoc in the streets, killing innocents and mages. The mages were quick to react, especially the necromancers of the Shadow Tower. The gates were sealed using powerful magic, and now, only the mages can open them. You would think that this removed the threat to Mor Aldenn, but alas, it did not. There are still shadows, ghosts and other undead that care little for stone and magic. The strange thing is, the undead only arrive in the night.

The mages have their studies to tend to, which means that they have hired adventurers to watch the streets at night. The commoners mark their doors with sacred runes, lock their doors and hope for the best, but while the threat has not been removed, it has diminished, at least for now!

Art by Gary Dupuis (www.gdupuis.com)