Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Iron DM Adventure: Secrets of the Green: A Fantasy Tale for 4 Stalwart Adventurers


The Post containing the full wonders of art and direction for my (winning?) Iron DM Entry at ENWorld.


Players:
Generated via Fantasy Shields
Widows Hawken: Three ladies (Prata – Silvery-blond, bichromatic eyes, terse, has a cat in tow, eats roast hare, lives in the Seaside Tower, Loira – Golden hair (short), brown eyes, firm, lives for the hunt, carries a falcon on shoulder, and Ruivo – Red long hair, green eyes, reserved, drinks heavily, eldest) of Fiddler’s Crown.  One sister, Bianca, died of sorrow leaping from Widow’s Walk Peak.
Lords Greencup :  Four lads (Baixista - Eldest, stout and strong, brown hair, jovial, Passaro – Blond hair, blue eyes, quick-witted, Lebre – Black hair, green eyes, legitimized bastard, Peixe – Silver-haired, grey eyed, child) disappeared before the Wedding.
Lord Emon Malmsey of Eberhardt – Skilled arcane scholar of esoteric knowledge, currently in a state of disrepair.
Master of Mirth – Middle-aged, potbellied, salt/pepper brown eyes, happy, quick-witted, and master of the Greencup Tourney.
Sir Filo – Love-besotted knight-retainer and hopeful for Prata’s widowed hand.
The Greencup – An item of power capable of creating the wielder’s imagined terrain through blood and magic.
The Saboteur – A wicked creature who holds the secrets of Thistledown and Fiddler’s Crown.

Background





Fiddler’s Crown and the Widows of Hawken are known throughout the land.  Beautiful women who lost their betrothed on the eve of their weddings, the Ladies hold a tournament in honor of their beloved each year.  Buttressed between Widow’s Walk Peak and the Quiet Forest, Fiddler’s Crown is the castle that guards the Tree of the Worlds, built high within its branches and overlooking sea and land.  The Crown is applauded for its beautiful architecture, and the beautiful aquaculture contained within the room known as the Seaside Solarium.   The Greencup Tourney is a place for the Masters of Mirth, a group of skilled court magicians, to show their skills.  And when a knight of notable bearing comes to court, the players are caught up in a tale of a jugged mage, twisted love, and a mother’s betrayal. 





Introduced By:

Party spellcasters are invited by a fellow of some note to attend and compete for a grand prize in the Tourney of Creation at Fiddler’s Crown.
Warriors far and wide tell of a prize worth its weight in jewels given by three widows of unsurpassed beauty.
A herald of the Hawken Widows rides through town, spreading word of the Greencup tourney and challenging all of skill and courage to battle the Tourney’s powerful challenges.

Act 1: The Widows of Hawken and the Greencup:

The Tourney at Fiddler’s Crown begins anew.  Mages of note travel to create traps and monsters for the Grand Hunt.  The tourney is a day-long search for the Emerald Chalice, an given the Widows upon the elimination of the Greencup Bloodline.  This year’s site is a mystic island environment built from the designs of the Master of Mirth and populated by the creations of the mage’s contest.  The Master has created a grand multilayered desert island dungeon, populated by various beautiful natives, spiraling up with views of the interior provided by the Mages through elaborate illusions for spectactors.  Twelve men are allowed into the Dungeon, from the bottom to the top, and as soon as one man reaches the next layer the lowest layer descends into the sea, slowly drowning any below.  Any individuals who are ‘drowned’ In such a manner immediately trigger a water-breathing effect and are brought to safety by spotters.
When the Greencup is taken everything shifts; structures weaken and the terrain buckles.  It is an escape scenario to get away before being sucked down without flight or teleportation. 

Act 2: Accusations, The Jugged Mage, and a Trip Beneath the Canopy.

The instability of the Greencup is unexpected, and Mirth is furious.  The players see the Master speaking into a large cone attached to a barrel.  The barrel contains Lord Emon Malmsey, the Jugged Mage.  A scholar of architectural spellcraft and transmutative illness, Malmsey’s poultice recipes are legendary. Living inside a hyperbaric cask to pressurize his body, afflicted with a expansive polymorphic curse.  Malmsey examines the item and if asked discusses regarding polymorphic instability/psychosis, and other magic illnesses.

A strange new fault within the Greencup is spotted by the Malmsey and Mirth The mage’s discussion, leads to the Greencup family and the disappearance of the young knights.  The ladies tell the tale; how they were promised to the Greencups, keepers of the Worldtree’s trunk.  Thistledown, home of Greencup, lie below these fifteen years, along with answers.

The party is beset by invisible creatures in the night, winds that attempt to throw them off the criss-crossing walkways to death below.  They find a scrap of fabric with the symbol of Eberhardt upon it.  Malmsey, if still trusted, suggests a trip below.

The Worldtree’s deep trunk descends, protected by the Earth.  Travel is made on a rickety spiral ramp (The Great Thread), with small buildings for rest.  Sounds of wildlife chatter, and some buildings may contain beasts enthralled by the saboteur.  Long branches as thick as a waist radiate away, allowing access to the Canopy.  Several spots along the path have been broken by brute force, a broken Hawken ax visible.  Creatures seem to stalk the players, and eyes can be seen shining from the canopy on the hours-long descent.

By Bilopsis
Act 3: Thistledown, Lady of the Ruins, and A Sister’s Shame.

Thistledown has been reclaimed by nature, but the land is still viable.  Greencup banners hang above the gates of the estate.  More spartan than Fiddler’s Crown, Thistledown’s walls are bare, and various beasts nest within.

In the throne room sits a bear wearing a crown made of gold, covered in thistle flowers, with a beautiful girl with alabaster skin sitting in its lap.  The girl, when she opens her eyes, has clearly seen better days, as her eyes have been torn from her face and replaced with two silver coins.  She seems to sense the party, coming out of the bear’s lap and straightening her skirts.




The bear ponders the newcomers, and then speaks in a deep bass voice.  He asks how the PCs have come to his manor, and why he and his love are disturbed.  If asked, the bear claims to be Lord Shardin Baixista, Lord of Thistledown and Protector of the Land Below.  If angered the bear becomes enraged, charging the characters to “tear from root and branch”

When bloodied the bear cries off, and explains.   His soul, along with the souls of his brothers, has been trapped within the forms of animals by foul magic just after he found Bianca’s body.  Though it was claimed she jumped over the Widow’s Walk for love of a stablehand, the truth is that she was cast down to die in the Land Below by Prata when she was caught in bed with Baixista. He claims Fiddler’s Crown cursed them to live as the animals of their nature.  Baixista, hearty and stout, was changed to a bear.  Passaro, the handsome ranger, became an eagle and flew afield.  Lebre, lusty and quick, turned  to a hare.  None know the faith of Peixe, Bianca’s betrothed.

Bianca wishes to return to the Land Above, and reclaim her birthright.  The curse placed upon the brothers seems to be immutable, and Bianca has tried all of the skills she learned in her tutelage with Lord Malmsey before his disease.   Skilled in shapechanging, Bianca can take the form of any natural creature.

Interlude: The Lady’s Favored and the Battle of Thistledown.

Outside Thistledown on the Thread a dozen large warriors bearing Hawken colors attack.  Some of the men are recognizable from the house, with Sir Filo wearing The Lady’s Favor.  Sir Filo has been promised the hand of the Silver Lady Hawken if he can murder the group.  The rest are under an enthrallment.  When Filo is killed the enchantment is broken, and the guards will rally behind Lady Bianca.

Act 4: The Family Secret, Closing

The players leave Thistledown and learn Passaro has stayed beside his Lady as a hawk since his transformation.  Prata is exposed as the Hawken Family Secret.  When House Hawken built Fiddler’s Crown they sacrificed seven peasant maids to protect their household.  From this corruptive influence a creature rose to stalk the Hawken line, slowly corrupting the world outside of its demense and reveling in destruction…  Until the Greencup.  Now she hopes to use the Greencup to buy her freedom, creating a new bond between herself and the Cup so she may pass freely through the world.

The creature chooses the youngest Hawken maid, and traps her soul in its dying shell.  It failed its last swap when Bianca was deflowered and threw the girl down the Tree in rage.  This rage turned Bianca Revenant.  To marshal her power for ritual the Lady changed the lads before Prata could be married. 

The Lady is a corrupted form of dryad witch, and her Favor was the curse’s focus.  Challenged, she enthralls, curses, and obfuscates.   First she ruptures Lord Malmsey’s tank, causing a Medium-sized pudding to erupt from his cursed body once/round, which combine together 2:1 per size category.  Once defeated and the gauntlets are broken the curse will be lifted, and Bianca dies avenged.

Lord Malmsey’s condition is not reverted.  However, a book that can be found in ‘Prata’s’ diary contains an entry about a witch who came through Fiddler’s Crown disguised as a cook, and who dwells in the Quiet Forest.

Loose Ends:  

There are small plot pieces that may be found within the overall setting of the adventure.  If the PCs look into them through Gathering of Information, the fate of the maiden sacrifices, a cure for Lord Malmsey, the summoner of the air elementals, and the corrupter of the Greencup may be found.

Side Quest: A Trip to Eberhardt.

The Village of Tinkers, Eberhardt is Lord Malmsey’s home.  If the players wish to investigate the attack on the walkways the Village is filled with magicians who make magic trinkets and potions.  Their runoff, Opal Pond, causes strange effects when imbibed or placed on the skin.  The Lady’s accomplice, Malmsey’s apprentice Leopold, will stalk the party back.  He will attempt to foolishly ambush the party via flight.  If dispelled over the Pond he turns into a swarm of micro-Leopolds that fight to the death.  The old Master of Fiddler’s Crown, Donton, lives in Eberhardt and has tales of strange happenings with the youngest daughters.

Side Quest: In the Canopy.

The bodies of the maidens still hang in the canopy in a place where few but the most adventurous go.  Some of the wildmen who live within the canopy, if asked and bartered with, will lead the party there.  The spirits of the maidens are kept in constant torment by the Lady’s dogs, spiritual hounds that bray and tear at their flesh only to leave them to heal again.  If freed the maidens will assist in battle against the Lady’s minions, and destroy Fiddler’s Crown piece by piece.

Side Quest:  Lord Malmsey’s Condition.

If the book is found in Prata’s room the Witch may be tracked down.  She lives hidden by many enchantments, but the sounds of travelers will call her protectors to life.  Powerful elementals, the stones that contain their animating spirit can be used to hone in on the witch’s location and a cure for the curse.

Side Quest: The Saboteur.

A bastard of the Greencup line was the one to sabotage the Lady’s Cup.  This bastard, a half-brother to the Widows, was promised Fiddler’s Crown for his corruption of the Cup.  The bastard is the Master of Mirth himself, and will battle tooth and nail.  He will tell her secrets if put to the sword, but not before visiting Thistledown.

Ingredients:
  • Awakened Bear – Shardin Baixista, Lord of Thistledown.
  • Sinking Island – The Greencup Tourney’s venue
  • Esoteric Scholar - The Casked Mage, a hyperb(ear/ar)ic chambered sorcerer, infected by Beorn's Curse, a mutagenic disease caused by exposure to heavy transmutation
  • Family Reunion - Baixista and Peixe, though not under the best of terms.
  • Treehouse - Fiddler's Crown, the castle of the Greencup Widows.
  • Gauntlets of Ogre Power – The Lady’s Favor, the crux of the curse.

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