Approximate time to read: 5 minutes.
A little while ago Pär Lindström posted up a work-in-progress that he thought might suit Symbaroum. I immediately took that on as a bit of a challenge to come up with an adventure for this ruin. In considering the possibilities, I have, instead, opted to provide some brief ideas on how you can use the site in different ways. The origin of the ruin changes the potential discoveries and adversaries a party of treasure-seekers, travelers or rangers might find there.
Location: Could be anywhere, but likely in Bright Davokar or the lands in the shadow of the forest in northern Ambria; might even be part of the extending line of the Sleepless Path.
Structure: Pale marble-like material laced with veins of red and black; extremely heavy and impossible to pick up. The material actually feels slightly warm to the touch and corruption pervades the area. Those on the upper level acquire 1D4 temporary corruption on arrival and then at the start of each scene at the site. Those on the lower level acquire 1D4+1 temporary corruption on the same basis. Entering the area of the site and traveling into the lower levels will result in two rolls in the single scene, the corruption is so strong.
Material Keywords: Ancient, Unnerving, Warm, Corrupting
Discovery: The ruin functions as a dig, or site of exploration, as outlined in the Symbaroum – Adventure Pack 1 – and has the potential for the subterranean chambers to hold interesting debris, curiosities and possibly a mystic treasure or two. The history of the site should remain vague and difficult to pin down. The adventurers should feel watched, but without explanation. Someone with schooling in a Tradition or Ritualist will recognize fragments of a Magic Circle inscribed upon bits of timber or stone. The pattern has been shattered and the power should have been dispersed, and yet the party should feel observed and individuals will hear strange whispers on the air. It should feel like catching echoes on the wind from an indefinable source or direction. A [Vigilant–2] test will suggest down; a fail will confirm the sound comes from within the ruins but not the source – perhaps up the tower?
A Mystic character spending time in the cellar will find the walls in a couple of cells engraved with the spindly script of the Symbarium. Spending 1D4+1 hours there will reward 2 Experience at the expense of acquiring 1 point of Permanent Corruption. Any non-Mystic will find nothing here to engage or improve them – though those waiting on the surface might expect unwelcome attention from a random encounter.
Upper levels: At the mid-level the party will note that various wildlife has used the ruins for shelter, spattering the place with droppings, the bones of vermin, and pieces of nesting material. on the uppermost level, more evidence of the Magic Circle will be found upon what remains of the floor.
Lower levels: Descending into the lower levels, the catacombs are dark and warm – a close and claustrophobic warmth. When the party reaches the bottom of the stairs they will see a glimmer of something enticing at the end of one of the passages, but will all need to test their Resolute versus the terrifying presence that surrounds them (see below).
Threat: On the upper level, if the party lingers long enough to make any Test (for example by searching, examining the Circle or gazing out across nearby terrain) they will draw the ire of Violings (core book, p225) that have been nesting here. Sufficient violing arrive to match 75% of the party Experience total. In the catacombs, aside from the corruption from the stone, the area possesses the equivalent of Terrify III with a Resolute of 18. Anyone who fails to resist the ‘attack’ must flee and cannot return – meaning they cannot support any searching effort. If the party split due to this atmosphere of dread, consider attacking those who flee with angry Violings.
Location: Could be anywhere in the unclaimed tracts of Ambria or on the edge of the mountains – whether the Titans or the Ravens.
Structure: Fire seared clay bricks, similar to something in current barbarian construction, but more robust. Despite age and weather, the material shows little sign of wear. Characters will find it impossible to reverse engineer the technique for crafting the clay bricks; a craft Gild would likely pay handsomely for intact samples or the specific location of the site.
Material Keywords: Clay, Fire-seared, Aged, Alien
Discovery: The clay bricks are the treasure here and the characters have the opportunity to haggle for money or future assistance. If the latter, this can either come in the form of a one-off letter – or if a character spends 10 Experience they can acquire Contact (Guild).
Upper levels: As the characters climb the tower, the can see that the broken edge appears torn rather than weathered or simply broken. The edge shows evidence of some raking and gouging. [Beast Lore] identifies the marking as natural, the act of some Abomination clawing or tearing at the clay. Lacking this Ability, a character with [Loremaster] or [Tactician] can confirm that these markings do not correspond with any known siege weapon or grapple.
At the topmost level lie the bones of three men, adults with a stocky (if stooped) build. While no flesh or natural materials remain – long lost to weather, carrion feeders and bandits – [Medicus – or spending an hour counting] the bones are not complete, showing the loss of four limbs total from the three bodies; [Cunning] identifies dark stains on the already fire-blackened clay that suggest camp fire, a suggestion that the three made their last stand here and may have survived for days or longer. A character who searches the upper level thoroughly (taking an hour, roll for random encounters if you feel inclined) or [Vigilant–5] finds a Sun symbol on a gold coin forced into a crack between two clay bricks (test [Cunning]: it is actually a stylized spider figure, not a sun).
Lower levels: The lower levels are sufficiently damp that the clay bricks feel like the flesh of a week old corpse. Chill and unyielding, they have a disconcerting moistness about them. Anyone who might have shown a squeamish side in the past – especially around dead bodies – will feel a creeping discomfort while down here – and experience a –2 modifier on their Resolute for Tests. The small rooms off this roughly F-shaped passage contain scattered detritus, like glass, metal, and shards of rock hard clay. A thorough search requires a test on Vigilant (or Cunning if the character has any specific knowledge in the Lindarosian people or has previously done research on them) with a success uncovering 1D10 thalers worth of potentially valuable junk. On a roll of 10, either reward the character(s) with the money or replace thalers with a roll on Table 4: Curiosities (p7) in the Adventure Pack 1.
Threat: When the characters investigate the lower levels, they face a challenge from what the previous occupants left behind. The lurker has stats equivalent to the creature in The Curse of the River Goddess. It can extrude lashing tentacles, a pair at any given time, from the dark and oily puddles scattered around the subterranean passage and cells. Given the dark and close environment, the GM should play this one for all the fear and confusion she can muster. The lashing attacks can target anything within 5 meters of a pool – though if you don’t use a map, you can pick and choose the specific targets of the creature based on the flow of events or randomize with the throw of a die.
Part Two tomorrow!