Echoes of the Godkiller

Seventy-seven years have passed since the Day of the Broken Sky. On that day this small world grazed against another cosmos, and survived. On that day the Luminous Godkiller Weapon was defeated. The land is recovering, and new gods are arising to fill the void left by the old. There is life, where there might have been death.

However, one cannot say that the world is at peace. Petty warlords battle alchemically-enhanced bandits. Treasure hunters raid ancient manses. Experiments begun before the death of the Weapon still hunt the living. In the lands north of the Imperial City, a strange automaton seeks a young girl, on whose shoulders the fate of the world will rest.

Come hear the Echoes of the Godkiller.

Recent Events

Seventy-seven years ago, this world survived a brush with death. The Splinter of the Machine nearly touched Creation, and much godly breath was held. This day is known as the Day of the Broken Sky, which the learned call The Graze. Massive pieces of the great sky-cogs broke off and fell, most of them into the ocean. Many thought that the world would end – but it has not. The day passed, and both worlds survived. The Luminous Godkiller Weapon was defeated before it could extinguish the last lights of divinity. The Karal family’s bid for world domination failed.

Since then, the world has recovered substantially. With the Weapon vanquished, the spirits have been free to act again. Many of the dead gods have been replaced. Much of the physical world has recovered as well. The wind blows freely once again, and water flows fresh, not brackish, from mountain springs. The gods have repaired the sky.

Echoes map

However, not everything has gone well. The God-blooded are fewer, as many of them ascended to replace their parents. The Great Families, especially, have fared poorly. They are scattered across the land, with more children and fewer resources. Respect for them is at an all-time low. Personal initiative is valued now more than it was before the Day of the Broken Sky. Sentiment has turned against the Great Families to such an extent that people now place their own names before their family names in introductions.

In addition, the Families lost much power and knowledge in the days surrounding the Graze. Their buildings were burned, with books inside them. Villages are isolated. Power stations are in disrepair. The world is in a dark age, and most people don’t even realize it, because the Families kept them in the dark to begin with.

The world is ripe for champions.

Campaign Notes

A fragment of the Luminous Godkiller Weapon, called here The Component for simplicity’s sake, has washed ashore on the Blessed Continent. It is traveling back toward where the Weapon was created in the hopes that it can be made whole once again. It doesn’t know what it is or what the Weapon was, but it recognizes eight-year-old Sam Eikar, the reincarnation of its creator, and it seeks her out.

A group of clones, the Orthos, seek to control the Component. They would be happy to remake the Weapon and hold the world hostage with it. They act together for now, but do not trust each other. The youngest of the Orthos has left Sam with someone who can defend her, in the hopes of recruiting them later as dupes.

Two other groups are likely to have found Sam where she was left: a trio of Cathak Family god-bloods guided by visions of the future, and a company called Eikar Welding, run by Sam’s aunt Millie. Whichever of them finds Sam, there is likely to be a clash between them before things are settled.

There are several wildcards in all this. The first is an automaton named Soulsteel Justice Warrior, who tried to reason with the Component before it was blasted away. The Warrior knows that the Component is after Sam. The second is a traveler from a distant world, Cyn Walker, who has powers that could change the story and the world. The third, of course, are the player’s characters.

The PC circle could be…

  • The same group of characters who visited the Splinter from Creation last time. Traveling back and forth to the Splinter does not respect the passage of time; it could have been just a year in Creation despite the many decades that have passed here. They may be hailed as returning heroes, depending on how well-known they were after the Graze.
  • A new group of characters, who found notes and journals left by the previous circle and wanted to see the Splinter for themselves.
  • An entirely different circle, brought either by a repeat of the circumstances from the previous game or by Cyn Walker’s resonance cascade disaster.
  • Natives to the Splinter. This will require a fair amount of house-ruling and custom charm creation to support, but if you already did that for the first Splinter setting, it might be fun to come back to those characters or their descendants.
  • For a really unusual crossover game, the players might portray Etherite characters come to rescue Cyn Walker.

The players’ circle might come into the current events in many different places. For example:

  • They might meet the Component first and suffer an early defeat. They could be found by the Cathaks afterward, or they might find one of the wildcards likewise in dire condition and help each other find shelter at Eikar Welding.
  • They might run into the Cathaks as they approach the Component, or as they pursue Sam.
  • They might be the ones to stumble across Sam before anyone else does. Would they feel compelled to defend her?
  • They might arrive near Millie’s group after the Warrior, but ahead of the Component and the youngest Ortho, and be caught in their argument about what to do.
  • They might unexpectedly arrive near Cyn as she botches her way across the dimensions.

Character Notes

It is the fate of the world that the Component is stopped, the Weapon continues to lie dormant, only one Ortho escapes, and Sam Eikar survives to become a technologist. As the goddess Starsight knew, fate is anything but inevitable. Every character in this setting lists a fate that is intended to guide the Storyteller in creating an interesting tale. You might play into the characters’ listed fates, or against them.

Many of these characters are also influential or well-known. Rather than list supporting NPCs, we list connections to individuals or groups that are part of each character’s story.

For fun, we also gave each character a catchprase that you can try to work into their dialogue once in a while.

Echoes at 9/14, and map software

Five left to go! One Technologist, three Amalgam Champions (Metal, Smoke, and Lightning), and our Daughter of Ether. I’m getting toward the point where I’m ready to be done with this setting and on to the next.

There are also two pieces of map-making software coming up that I want to mention. One is Worldographer, the 2nd version of Hexographer (which I currently use and very much like). I’m really looking forward to using this on future projects. Having an “undo” feature alone is going to be a huge improvement. If it’s a substantial visual improvement as well I might go back and remake some of my older maps as well, but that’s not the major selling point for me. Worldographer is still in beta, but seems to be coming along pretty quickly.

The other is Hex Kit, which looks really beautiful. It uses multiple hand-drawn tiles for each terrain type, to give maps a bit more variety than just the same tree icon over and over. Hex Kit comes out on April 28th, so you might see some remakes of the smaller maps (like Athanor) in HexKit sooner rather than later.

Between Fire and Dreams

“They have their fires to ward off the darkness, their stone houses, and their iron swords. All we have is our dreams.”

One long night on the southern coast, a star-stone fell to the ground. It blazed bright as the noonday sun, and could be seen for three days’ walk in all directions. That was the night that people would remember for a hundred years.

That night an assassin tried to kill the queen, and was thrown aside by a burning blade. That night a chieftain’s daughter claimed her heritage in a blaze of light. That night a prince was filled with darkness, a thief began to speak with the gods, and a pariah gained the courage to speak. The land would never be the same.

Everyone knew that the meteor was an omen. You must choose what the omen will mean.

Physical Geography

between-map-500

This land consists of three distinct regions: the city of Shirakh, the Wathia-land, and the hills to the south.

Shirakh is a large port city with over 300,000 residents. It is located roughly between The Lap and Paragon on the southern coast of the Inland Sea. Shipping routes and the paved-over remnants of an ancient glass road make this a major stop for traders. An immense statue of Xi, the first queen of Shirakh, stands on an island in the harbor. Stone quarried in the mountains to the south has turned this fertile delta into a sturdy walled city. Counting the nearby towns and the grasslands to the south, there are over a million people within a few days’ walk of Shirakh.

The nearby lands, home to the Wathia people, are under the military and economic control of Shirakh. They are a grassland, with rolling hills and savannah, perfect for grazing. The Wathia once farmed and followed the herds, occasionally warring with one another, until the Shirakhi expanded their forces some two hundred and forty years ago.

The ruler of Shirakh at that time conquered many of the Wathia, declared herself queen, and attempted to “settle them down.” It didn’t go well. It didn’t go easily. Still, with some help from the Blessed Isle, it happened. House Sesus charged a high price for this, and the Shirakhi levelled severe taxes to address the debt. There are occasional uprisings, but the last one was 40 years ago. The debt to House Sesus was paid off decades ago, though Shirakh remains a Realm tributary.

Beyond the Wathia-land, farther south, are hills that lead gradually up to the southern mountains. In the hills are dozens of ruined towns, a few cities, and a double-handful of broken manses. Fewer people live in the hills, though there are some hermits. The air here is dry and there is little rain compared to what the grasslands receive.

The savannah and coast are fertile lands. The Wathia are best known for their cattle, but they also raise chickens, goats, and swans for food. These are brought to market in Shirakh, where many of the people raise guinea fowl. Broad fields near the capital grow a variety of grains: teff, sorghum, millet, wheat, flax, corn, and barley. Much beer is made. All grain must be sold in the capital, by royal decree, before it can find its way out to the Wathia-lands.

Along the river people grow figs, palm dates, mangoes. melons, apples, and pomegranates. Most villagers have a small plot of farmland, with lettuce, garlic, radishes, grapes, ensete, and squash. Carob and sugarcane provide the most common sweets, and beans and lentils provide protein between the festival days. The people have little money to their names, but they rarely want for food.

Shirakh’s best-known exports are saffron, palm oil, and tea. They also provide papyrus, linen, rope, herbs, and henna to traders from across the South.

The People

There are four major groups of people here:

  • Immigrants from the Blessed Isle. Such households are few and far between these days. No Dragon-Blooded are left here, and only a handful of servants remain to watch their mansions in their absence.
  • The Shirakhi and the Wathia. These were originally one people, in the early days of the Scarlet Empire. There is little to tell them apart except that the Shirakhi live in cities, and the Wathia in towns or (if they are herdsmen) on the trail. They are dark-skinned, with kinked or curled black hair, and typically have high cheekbones.
  • The Telet, a religious group that split from the Immaculate Order many decades ago. They have the features of the Blessed Isle – paler skin and straight, dark hair. The Telet are generally insular, both because of their religious restrictions, and because they are subject to strong prejudice and oppressive laws.

By ancient royal decree, the Wathia are not allowed iron. This both keeps them from smithing weapons that could stand against the city’s steel, and makes the city the region’s sole defender against the Fair Folk. In reality there is little threat from the Raksha here, but old legends are persistent. Many other laws restrict the Wathia’s mobility, both economically (they cannot hold many jobs) and physically (they cannot travel without a permit). The farther one travels from Shirakh, the less these restrictions are enforced.

Central to all of these laws is the idea of “inborn indenture,” introduced during the first queen’s reign. Inborn indenture is the monetary debt that one owes to one’s family and to the state for one’s existence. No one, so the dogma says, is truly free until they have repaid this indenture. It is by this doctrine that taxes are levied and fees collected. Both Shirakhi and Wathia culture have adopted the idea. By law, the Shirakhi owe fairly little inborn indenture, and buy their freedom early in life. The Wathia owe much more and can rarely afford to buy their freedom.

The Telet are subject to all the restrictions on the Wathia and more. They may only pay their taxes in saffron, palm oil, and tea, which are back-breaking crops to harvest. Interestingly, they tend to be the most educated group of the three – some Wathia learn to read, but education is not compulsory in Shirakh, and many Shirakhi learn only figures and how to sign their name. The Telet train all children to read their holy scriptures.

The Telet are outside of the structure of inborn indenture. They owe nothing to their family, and all to the state. Their people, legally, are forever bound to the Shirakhi rulership. Speaking a Telet person’s indenture is like speaking of all the water in the ocean, or the weight of the Imperial Mountain.

The Immaculate Order never had a strong hold here. The Gold Faction kept the order propped up in name, but useless and hollow. When the monks and the local Dragon-Blooded were drawn back to the Blessed Isle in anticipation of a civil war, everyone sighed in relief. The Cult of the Illuminated is comparatively strong here. Festivals propitiating the gods are common in all populated areas.

Using the Characters

The central conflict in this setting is between the expansionist city-state of Shirakh and the Wathia people. This is kicked into high gear as several of them on each side are Chosen as Solar Exalted. In total, there are twelve Solars, one Abyssal, and one Sidereal here.

This is a tremendous outpouring of Solar essence. It’s unheard-of for so many Solars to appear at once. The PCs will no doubt want to investigate why this happened. However, we give no reason here why this place and this time occasioned such an event. If you’d like to create a reason that fits your larger campaign, we encourage you to do so. Instead, this setting provides enough challenges that the question of “why did this happen” should be overshadowed by the question of “what are we going to do now?”

Different play groups will have different experiences in this region.

Your group might consist of mid-level Solars (essence 2-3). The characters here will provide a significant challenge and opportunity. Some of them are powerful enough in a fight to challenge an entire circle. Others are canny enough, socially, to turn an entire city or league of assassins against their enemies. This is exactly the level of opposition that fits a group of Solars. It’s likely that the group will need to make allies in order to accomplish their goals. For those who simply come seeking allies, they will undoubtedly need to engage in a war in order to make them.

Alternatively, your group might consist of a newly-formed circle of Sidereals. The Gold Faction (in this area led by Vashra Tal) sees this moment as their big opportunity. This kind of power could really change the status quo that has stifled the Fivescore Fellowship for centuries. If your characters are part of the Bronze Faction, on the other hand, their orders will no doubt be to pit the Solars against each other often and early, and assassinate the survivors.

Finally, your group might consist of advanced Dragon-Blooded characters returning from a recently settled dispute in the Realm. The arrival of a dozen Anathema is a severe problem that could become the basis for an entire short campaign. Different sessions could even involve playing sub-groups: spies who are sent in for reconnaissance, sailors and admirals who come to blockade the port, diplomats who try to outflank the Solars as they consolidate their power, and warriors who pit themselves and their soldiers against the blades of the Solar bodyguards.

Content Note

The central theme of this setting is power, especially its abuse and potential for abuse. There are characters in this setting whose stories involve some fairly awful situations. Sometimes this includes physical abuse, powerlessness, or implied rape. None of this is depicted in an “on-screen” way, but we felt it appropriate to give a warning here.

The Giant’s Glen

In the far northeast, in a quiet valley, the people live with the footprints of giants. Houses and huts are built beside tremendous structures from a bygone era. Snow and nature spirits dance alongside bridges that once supported more than mere mortals.

The giants left their lands long ago – but they also left their curios. Here in the shadows of giants and the fringes of the Wyld, a giant girl’s playthings have come to life. Some are here to protect the people of the glen. Some are here to take advantage of them. Still others would prefer to purify them.

They may be dolls, but their stories say that they are more, too. What secrets will you find? What strange allies will you gather, here in the Giant’s Glen?

Introduction

Long ago, before the First War, a race of gigantes ruled much of eastern Creation. Many of them were fractious, warlike, and foolish, but not all. There were also architects among them, sages, alchemists, wise women and clever men who had much skill with their hands. While the rest of their race died or was driven out of Creation, one clade of these clever giants survived for many centuries in a wooded valley in the far northeast. It helped them that this place was so close to the Wyld. Years could sometimes pass by in the outside world while they and their human servants slept through the night.

One of the giants was the leader, and her eldest child was given many gifts by an artisan amongst the giants. None of these gifts was more valuable than a cleverly made set of dolls. Each was the size of a grown human being. They were not alive then – not at first – but they were so cleverly made that even the Fair Folk gazed on them in wonder.

The child told stories about the dolls: that they were wise, or strong, or foolish, or funny. The child invented worlds, as children do, and had tea-time with her dolls, and went to war with them… and then she was gone.

Whether it was sorcery, fae magic, the sheer skill of the artisan, or the love of a child, her dolls came to life. They came to live amongst the people of the glen. Did they truly travel here from elsewhere, or do they only think they did? Some know that they are dolls, and some believe their own stories, too.

Now the tides of the Wyld have receded. Those who would come here seeking the giants’ power, or pursuing a fugitive, must decide what they will make of the glen and its natives, including the ancient dolls of a lost culture.

Physical Geography

glen-map-500

This glacial valley is listed as Giant’s Glen on those few maps that mention it. It is larger than that name might indicate, longer than it is wide, with many crevasses and rivers. As is common across much of the east, the trees here are gigantic, with leaves that can be the size of a horse. Both the deciduous leaves and the needles of the pines and spruces turn colors in the fall – a legacy of the Wyld’s presence. The leaves and needles litter the ground, and are occasionally used by the mortals who live here as craft supplies.

With these trees, the giants built tremendous longhouses, log cabins, and palisades. They built huge bridges over deep canyons.  Many have fallen into disrepair. There was even a wooden manse fit for a titan, with double-notch construction, now lying rotting and haunted.

In addition, there are signs of an even older, and larger people: mammoth stone buildings, huge ruins, and foundation-stones that speak of a truly daunting size of individuals who must have lived here in ages long past. Their only remaining legacy is a series of “singing stones” across the northeast, ten stories tall, that whistle and moan as the wind blows through them.

Winters are long, though milder than one might expect for how far north this land is. There are deep ravines and caverns where the snows never melt all summer. Fish can still be found beneath frozen rivers, and the people here often cut holes in the ice to get at them.

Local animals commonly include trout, moths (and their caterpillars) in a great variety of sizes, bears, rabbits, juncos, cardinals, and caribou. These last range from twenty-foot-tall monsters to miniatures barely larger than a lap-dog.

Almost the whole glen is a borderlands for the Wyld. The tides of chaos have been retreating from this place for some years, and it will be years more until they are finally gone.

The southwestern townships are the largest. Stonewall has nearly six thousand inhabitants. The villages and hamlets across the Glen are smaller. Pinedeep and Chestnut Ford are the largest, neither over 400 individuals.

The People of the Glen

There are few immigrants here in the glen, and the people have little variety in their base features. Hair is almost always black, with an occasional throwback of white from somewhere else in the North. Eyes are brown. Nearly everyone has light-brown skin with faint bark-like striations. They would be prone to sunburn if the sun were ever to breach the leafy canopy far above. The locals speak Skytongue with a Low Realm accent.

Families are differentiated in their mutations. The people at the southwestern end of the glen tend to be less touched, but the rest of the families have ancestors who were exposed to dangerous levels of Wyld. Each family has its own oddity: one has plaid eyes, another vestigial wings, another grows claws that must be trimmed for safety. There are tails, odd tufts of hair, and even a hermit with eyebrows of shifting water. Children typically trend toward the father or the mother, rather than being a blend of both. The northeastern families are more used to their strange appearances, but are also nervous when outsiders arrive, knowing how they are viewed elsewhere in Creation. Those in the southwestern townships look down on their more “uncouth” cousins.

Wood and stone make up most of the useful materials here. Weapons are typically spears and bows. Armor is either leathers from the caribou, or a lacquered lamellar made from the cones of the giant pines. Swords come from outside. None of the smiths here have much to work with in terms of iron.

The glen has much more obtrusive spirits than most places in Creation. They will often materialize to speak with travelers. Inquisitive sky-sprites sweep in ahead of a storm. Each campfire spawns a little red flame-person who helpfully sweeps away things that might unintentionally catch fire. Sleepy snow-spirits hide in the ice-caverns all summer and come out to play in the winter. Most common are the helpful forest-spirits still bound by an ancient pact to the giants. These various spirits rarely enter the places where humans dwell. They say that the mortal denizens here are the caretakers of their land, and should be left to their business… but they do like to hide in the edges of the forest and observe.

The people eat a fair amount of meat. Root vegetables are also common: potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and celeriac. Wild mushrooms are plentiful and delicious. The local specialty is a bear stew. Sweets are common as well, with birch syrup and spruce gum holding together acorn-flour treats studded with pine nuts. The elderly sip peppermint liqueurs in the evening, and the young prefer mead.

Using the Characters

If one ignored the fact that they were dolls, most of the characters in this set could fit in well in many areas of Creation. A Storyteller looking for a random NPC could easily pluck one of these characters and place them in her own game.

However, if they are to be encountered together, these characters are somewhat tied to this particular setting. The players’ characters will need a reason to come to the Glen. A few options are:

  • The circle might need magical ingredients to craft a particular artifact, or to repair a manse. The bones of giants are buried here, and they may still have potent magic within them for such a purpose.
  • The circle could be seeking a manse to call home. The enormous wooden manse of the gigantes might be just functional enough for the circle to repair – if they can convince some of the local NPCs to work with them.
  • The circle might be pursuing a fugitive Fair Folk, guilty of crimes against their nation, who retreated toward the Glen and is hiding amongst the people here.

It is this last option that is assumed in the descriptions here.

Some Fair Folk can hide via possession, live within someone’s dreams, or attach themselves as a parasitic mutation to any living creature. That includes the dolls. No one character is pointed out as the “default” host for the Fair Folk. Several are good options, and any of them might host it in their dreams. The process of hunting for this quarry and interrogating the people of the Glen without losing their leaders’ goodwill is sure to be a challenge.

Depending on the skill of your characters, the Fair Folk might hide itself more or less discretely. It might even leap from one character to another (especially if they slept in close proximity or made physical contact with one another), making the circle accuse a previous host while the creature attempts to escape. Regardless of pursuit, it will not go further into the Wyld. Certain deaths are preferable to others.

Worldographer Kickstarter

If you like the maps I’ve made for Stranger Creations, the folks who made the mapping software are holding a kickstarter for the next version of their application!

 

I wish I had seen this earlier! There are only 3 days left right now. Luckily it’s already fully-funded. I’m really looking forward to seeing more development on this program. I’m not a fan of the “modern” tile sets, but I do love the “classic” ones that look like they’re straight out of the Greyhawk boxed set. And man, having undo/redo will be so nice.

Anyway, if you ever wanted to make similar maps for yourself, this is the way to go.

Athanor Isle

On a remote island in the distant West, in an ever-shifting city on an inescapable island, unwilling warriors compete for the ultimate prize. Kill your rivals in this bloody free-for-all, and the deathlord known as Eight Eyes Ending will reward you with immortality and power. Refuse to play the game, and you’ll end up as prey. There’s more going on here than meets the eye, though – not everyone is here to be a deathlord’s entertainment. Some have games of their own in mind. Will you be their pawn, or break free?

Physical Geography

Athanor Map

Once this island’s name was Vello’s Folly. It was named for a sorcerer from long ago who raised it from the depths of the Wyld. Some manner of dare or contest was involved; beyond that, little is known. The few who have visited the island since then found that the city’s name was Athanor, and so now this arc of land is called Athanor Isle.

Athanor Isle is a crescent-shaped island about five kilometers from east to west and two kilometers from north to south. At the center of the crescent is a smaller island, as if a volcano had erupted long ago and blown most of the island to smithereens. Since the land was dragged whole from the Wyld, this seems more likely to be just an artistic touch. A new volcano seethes on the western side of the isle. The center of the island is a dense rain forest that gives way to palms near the shoreline.

Days are humid. Nights are warm. A few freshwater streams come from springs on the volcano or from deep beneath the island’s one small lake. The trees grow all manner of fruits, some of them edible, some of them poisonous. Game is plentiful and unafraid of humans. If not for current events, this could be a tropical paradise, and it will be easy for most contestants to find the food and water they need to survive – as long as they’re willing to be in close proximity.

Athanor 500

On the northern coast is the city of Athanor, an ever-changing metropolis that once housed tens of thousands of people. The city’s name is declared on various plaques and archways. It now sits empty, its buildings only standing because of the ancient automata that maintain them. Each night the buildings shift, slowly, as the city moves into a new formation. If there is a pattern to this, it is difficult to discern. A deep rift descends from the city to its underbelly, an infrastructure full of ladders, pipes, gears, and chains that move continuously. One could hide forever here, if one were willing to be cornered.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs, close enough to the surface that they are a major navigational hazard. This is currently compounded by the dark storm clouds and gale-force winds that whip over the sea around the island. Shipwrecks and debris litter the coastline.

The Scenario

(Normally this would be a section entitled “The People of…”, but this island is deserted. Not even ghosts remain.)

The ever-moving buildings and sliding corridors that once made Vello’s Folly an amusing puzzle and vacation spot now make Athanor a deathtrap. The nearby currents and winds have been bound with sorcery and warped by darkness. Ships cannot leave. Those that come are dashed against the reefs. Even sorcerous transport is turned back toward the isle.

Into this trap, a handful of the Chosen arrived. A woman with a spider mask appeared in the darkening skies, amid wind and thunder, and spoke:

“Welcome, Chosen of the gods, to the city of Athanor. Through the winds of fate I have brought ten of you here. Only one will leave this island alive.”

“Each of you has great power. Each of you needs more. I offer you that power. I offer you immortality. Whomever of you kills the others will be rewarded with life everlasting, to the end of the world and beyond. Those who die will serve me in the underworld.”

By the time the player characters arrive, the other “contestants” have been here for three days. The PCs’ ship runs aground, battered and ruined. The first casualty of this mad event lies before them. They have no idea what lies ahead.

The best ways to run Athanor Isle are as a long one-shot, a convention game, a short campaign, or the start of a longer game. Dropping a circle of existing characters into this scenario would probably be frustrating for them, though some groups might enjoy it.

This is primarily because the scenario here requires explicit buy-in from the players. All of the players should be directly told, “We’re going for a particular kind of story today. You’re going to be trapped on an island, fighting for your lives against awful, power-hungry people. You should play someone whose skills would be useful in this kind of scenario.” In particular, sailing away from the island in the middle of the contest is not part of the story. Be clear with the players: “It makes sense for your character to try building a boat and sailing away, so I’ll let you do it if you want. However, if you do, we’re going to skip past it and get to the part where you end up washed up on the shore again.” Don’t bother to set a difficulty rating. If you’re not explicit about this, your PCs will likely go through every trick they can imagine to leave the island rather than being forced into this deathtrap. Saying “No” to them repeatedly is going to be less fun for everyone. Have this discussion before they make or select their characters.

Survival rolls made on the island to find food or shelter should be made at difficulty 1 if the characters are willing to tolerate the presence of others, or 3 if they’re trying to avoid other contestants. Increase the difficulty for both by +1 when in the city. Botches may indicate having to contend with diseased shelters or poisoned food.

Objects and artifacts left behind with dead contestants will disappear overnight if no one is watching them – stolen by mindless ghosts serving the deathlord. Only the body will remain. These ghosts will not fight for their goods; they’ll disappear wailing into the ground instead. It is very likely that anyone left unburied overnight will rise as a hungry ghost and be co-opted by Eight Eyes Ending, or possibly by Pain.

Follow this link to a page that will generate new random maps of Athanor any time you need them, but don’t describe the maze turn-by-turn. Treat navigating the city as an Intelligence + Lore roll, with more successes (up to 5) indicating less time spent being lost. If characters are chasing one another through the city, use a Lore roll to set the maximum result your side can get from Athletics rolls during the chase. Be generous in letting characters substitute, say, Investigation or Craft (Architecture) for the Lore roll.

If the PCs go looking for a shadowlands, to “escape” into the Underworld or find the deathlord, there should probably be a single small one on the island. Naturally, that’s where Eight Eyes Ending and her war ghosts will spend more time. If you want to encourage an early confrontation, make the shadowlands easier to find, perhaps at the bottom of the giant crack in the city. If you want to avoid that battle, tuck the shadowlands quietly away in a hard-to-find place, like in one of the buildings in the city’s maze or hidden elsewhere on the island.

Using the Characters

Each of the characters in this setting has a strong reason to kill at least one other character on the island, and probably two of them. The player characters, on the other hand, will more likely unite with one another. The relationship map shows how you can put together the NPCs into circles that can rival a group of starting combat-ready Solars. If you want to play out a free-for-all battle to the death between player characters (and the players are ok with that), they should probably each have multiple characters or be willing to pick up an NPC and play it for the rest of the scenario.

Nearly all of the characters in Athanor Isle would make excellent antagonists in another campaign. They’re all, at minimum, misguided and violent. Several of them are the sort of sadistic bullies that end up toadying for major villains. These people have issues. It should be easy to use one or more of them as antagonists or misguided characters in your own game.

Athanor Map

I did it!

Here are seven hexes for Athanor:

If you click to examine them it may look a little strange, because the background is transparent rather than white. Also, these are shrunken down from the full-sized images, which are 2500 pixels across. I’ll add comments to the images to explain a little more about what each district is.

And, special bonus, here’s a page that shuffles them and lays them out in random orientations to create a new city every day: The Ever-Changing Athanor Map!

You can reload to get a new random layout. The alignment isn’t perfect yet; I’m going to try tweaking it a little bit to ensure that different hexes don’t overlap one another.

Enjoy!