I’m currently on my honeymoon in Italy, so this update is brought to you by Jon Sawatsky!
The incredible game designer read my post about my world Enora and was inspired to create an adventure for 1st level characters. I’d like to share an excerpt of the adventure with you below!
Background…and always, my fellow scribes, we are left with the question; what do the dead burn as fuel in a land without trees? – Elemeth, Scholar of Darlencia, the City of Tomes
In once verdant Naliath, a fading order of druids believe they have the means to re-establish a stronghold on the surface of Enora. The druids of the Red Bough were once the keepers of the sprawling greenspaces and wild gardens of the elven city of Naliath. In the days before the Dordrune sent the six cities into the sky, Naliath was renowned for its unconventional parks – which featured stunning works of living woodcraft, attended by Enora’s fey-folk. Now, with land scarce, and the population teetering on the edge of starvation, the gardens of Naliath have been uprooted; they serve as farmland, or house the survivors of the ascension.
The druids have managed to keep one small area for their worship and work. From this humble garden, the Red Bough have grown a very special fungus: Gildfoot. The spores of this magical fungus are able to grow rapidly, and deep, provided they have the thinnest ray of real sunlight. Once established, it is only a matter of hours before the mushroom begins emanating radiant energy. The undead are repelled by the effect, and the druids believe that should a single spore be planted and grown, a small safe-zone on Enora might result.
The greatest obstacle to the druid’s plan is the thick layer of ash and smoke that lies between the Bound Sky Cities and the ground. Belched forth from countless enormous stoves on the surface, the blanket of ash cannot be easily dispersed; should a stove be dismantled, it is possible the sun might reach the surface nearby for a short time – a fleeting moment of light.
This one-shot adventure challenges four or five 1st level PCs to descend to the surface of Enora by Airship, travel along a wasted coast, assault an undead complex, shut down a great bone-stove, and plant a single spore of Gildfoot. The mission is clear, and the adventurers will have to dig deep, and work together if they wish to succeed.
The adventure begins with the assembled player’s deciding what their reward should be if they complete the mission.
You have agreed to chance a mission for the druids of the Red Bough. You must travel by swiftship below the ash cloud under the cities, and disembark several miles south of the fallen City of Peralas. The old coastal trade road is sure to be ruined, but you are to follow its course north to the site of the bone-stoves built near the city. You must assault the stoves, extinguish their flames, and plant a single fungal spore in the earth east of the stoves. The sun’s light will fall only briefly, so you must hurry to proper place to plant it in time. Your task ends here, and you must make your way back to the ship to escape before the undead legions of the Empress arrive.
As a reward for a successful mission, the druids of the Red Bough offer you one of the following:
- 100 gp each
- A comfortable lifestyle in Naliath for six months
- A potion of healing (1 per PC) and 25 gp each
Choose your payment now, for the swiftship is ready to leave.
Answer the PCs questions about the mission as you see fit, but the focus here must be on choosing their payment. It is acceptable for the PCs to feel rushed and harried. PCs who wish to try and persuade the druids to offer two of the listed treasures may attempt a DC 17 Charisma (Persuasion) check. Securing all three is impossible. Once they have chosen a reward, slam them into The Descent abruptly and without preamble.
The Green Crown
The Green Crown is the fastest ship in Naliath. It is steered by a steely-eyed elf named Captain Phanae. The captain is a no-nonsense woman who leads her crew of six humans and elves with clear commands. This is not her first trip to the surface, and her ship is uniquely suited for the task. All comforts have been stripped from its decks. The ship has been modified for speed. Four massive magical turbines see the ship reach speeds of 70 miles an hour or more.
The captain’s greatest desire is to see what remains of the great Avanathan boreal forest – she hopes against all odds that some portion of that wild and beautiful place persists.
Through the Carpet of Ash and Smoke
The Green Crown leans heavily as soon as it passes into the ash. You are seated on benches in the ship’s aft section, a large open chamber used as a common space for the crew. Out the four portholes you see the sunlight fade as the ship falls deeper into the smoke.
Small objects around the party slide and take flight. A few sacks of supplies careen towards them. Two randomly chosen characters must succeed on DC 9 Dexterity saving throws or take 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage from the airborne supplies. It is clear the descent is going to be rough; provide the party an opportunity to make their quarters safer using narrative action, or easy ability checks.
The ship drops suddenly, sending your stomachs into your mouths. The wooden walls creak ominously and you can hear strong wind outside.Each character must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be nauseated by the ship’s unpredictable movements and changes in altitude. Characters who are nauseated receive disadvantage on their next ability check or attack. The effects fade after the disadvantaged roll is made, or after one hour passes.
The characters can investigate the room. It contains miscellaneous supplies such as rope, hooks, leather strapping, deck-axes, and dry food stuffs. A few barrels of water sit lashed to the wall near the only door. A DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals three coils of strong rope, each with a grappling hook attached.
From the Soot
A cry of surprise and terror rises from the deck above. The ironbound lantern at the base of the stairs leading up swings violently; it casts wild shadows on the timber of your quarters. A piercing caw soon follows – like a seabird mixed with a saw. A terrible wind rises, muting the sounds above.
Foul undead have assaulted the captain and crew as they steer the ship down through the ash. Allow the party the chance to respond. Careful listening and a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check rewards the player with the sound of wings and battle. A stealthy peer through a barely opened door reveals a handful of skeletal bird-like creatures tearing two crewmen to pieces. Their innards slide from their wounds as they struggle to keep from falling off the deck. If the party simply waits, eventually a crew member throws open the door and falls down the stairs, dead before he reaches the bottom. Large piercing wounds line his back and arms.
Encounter: Dead Wings
A sampling of the dread Empress’ forces has found the airship and have attacked. The characters must make their way onto the deck, battle against the winds and sudden movement of the ship, and defeat the undead birds before the crew is eaten. There are four dead wings* (see the Appendix) on the deck above. Three attack the party and one pecks at the door of the wheel house where the three remaining crew (commoners) who have taken shelter. The wheel house is 60 feet from where the party steps onto the deck. The door has 18 hit points, AC 15, and is immune to poison and psychic damage. The birds are merciless killers who fight to the death.
The stormy conditions created by the ash clouds have the following effect on the fight:
- At the beginning of each PC’s turn, they must make either an DC 9 Strength or Dexterity save, or lose the ability to move or dash for that turn.
- Anytime a PC takes damage from a dead wing’s attack, they must make a DC 10 Dexterity save or be knocked prone.
With the attackers slain, the captain tells the PCs to get below deck. The ship is about to land…
More to come!
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