The Hollow Earth

Into the Dark

The Strangeness of the Oasis

The footprints leaving the camp site lead along a hidden path and suddenly veer into some very deep, wet vegetation. Survival check (DC12) to keep following the footprints.

The PCs come across the bodies of four men in leather armour with the Branch symbol stamped into them. The flesh of the bodies is covered with strange pustules and gashes and it appears as if something inside them wanted out and achieved that goal.

After a long day of walking and slogging through the oasis, losing and following the footprints and signs of travel, you discover the ruins of an old shack splattered with mud on a small island in the centre of a low marsh.

The shack has a massive crack along once of its faces and smoke drifts lazily from the chimney. A clot of thick vines has partially obstructed the main entrance. A simple stone path leads towards the house from the edge of the trees and on either side of the path are brilliantly-coloured flowered shrubs and a blanket of pink flowers absorb the light trickling through the canopy above.

Around the back of the shack is a small, open-door greenhouse and a large fire pit. Inside the greenhouse is a low bench with earthen pottery and a few single pink flowers in each pot.

Wafting through the trees is a delicious smell like fresh stew. A number of footprints lead to the front door of this building.

Inside is one old woman. She is older with and wear simple travellers clothes. She asks if you’re here to have your fortunes told. The cost is free.

  • Furio: “You will find what you seek yet it will be just beyond your grasp. Trust not your allies, their motives are not what they appear to be."
  • Gunnar: “You are not alone. Some of your allies seek justice but seek it with dangerous methods. Be prepared to stop them."
  • Ezren: “The road your path follows has many forks but all carry you home to the worldwound. Your allies are exactly as you perceive them."
  • Merisiel: “Those who guard their chests from their history expose their backs to the future. Your past has revealed itself and it will threaten your tribe. Keep your edge sharp, wanderer."

She will offer the PCs some stew and as it’s getting late, she’ll invite them to stay for the night. The PC with the worst WILL save from earlier finds they’re having the best sleep of their life. They feel like they’re sleeping on clouds. The player with the best WILL save will wake up before the others and notice the “floating” PC is missing. The other PCs will be difficult to wake up and will need a full round action to wake them. Shaking or whispering to them won’t work. They’ll need to be struck or shouted at to get them to wake up.

Through the wall leading outside the shack they can hear someone speaking in a strange language. It sounds like Abyssal. Upon investigation they find the large stew pot burning over the fire pit in the back and the missing PC floating above it, fast asleep. The fortune teller emerges from the garden shed with some of her flowering plants.

She will attack immediately and so will the plants in her arms.

Once she attacks, her effect over the floating PC will cease and the PC will fall into the pot below. A full simple move action will get them out of it easily before they take any damage.

Once the hag perishes, the plants will retreat and shrivel up and die. It’s discovered that the thick ivy and plants on the ground have been obscuring remains of travellers who have strayed too deep into the oasis. It looks like the the plants were exceptionally good at decomposing the corpses. One of the bodies has half-rotted leather armour with the branch logo stamped into it.

The 36 Chambers

Upon entering the cliffside citadel, the PCs are confronted with a number of small hovels that appear to have been homes for the citadel’s inhabitants. Most are collapsed, crushed, or caved in with rocks and debris. A few of them are open, however. To determine what’s inside the open chambers, roll a d10:

  • A larder full of baskets of dried apples, apricots, dates, and other food. They are shrivelled up to the point that they disintegrate when you touch them.
  • Inside this room is a small gray box made of metal with a glass window on one of its faces. It has buttons all over it but none of them seem to do anything when pressed. The box weighs about 50lbs. If moved, one of the sides of the box falls open and the corpse of a small, dead rodent falls out onto the table. Inside the box are thousands of tiny pieces attached to a shiny piece of green glass.
  • A door opens to a brick wall with 1 loose brick. Behind that brick is a small treasure horde of semi-precious stones and minerals of fool’s gold and is valueless. The stones are worth about 400 gold together.
  • Inside this workshop a candle flickers in the breeze. On one side of the room a squat, square table with a gray stovepipe top hat on top of it. On the other side of the room is a workbench with complex diagrams and notes written in a completely alien language. The hat is a magical item called Carp’s Canny Cap of Confusion. Ezren doffed this cap.
  • A school of sorts, small tables and stools stand in 2 neat rows. Against one wall are a number of child-quality paintings of adults that read “mom” and “dad” in Ayfan. On the backs of the images the adults have become horrible monsters will yellow eyes, scales, and jagged green teeth. Other adults are ghosts or have small flames in their eye sockets and appear rather dead. Curiously, above each of their heads is an image of a tree with no branches on one side and a yellow triangle on the other. Also depicted are some building tools.

The Tall Court (Bag E)

A once-beautiful hall stands in ruins. Statues of proud rulers lie toppled to the ground, their faces caved in by unknown assailants (Craft DC14 reveals that small tools were used to smash the faces off the rulers and topple them from their platforms. Craft: Stonework DC12 reveals that small tools were used to do the job and that they were imprecise handmade tools.

Tapestries that hang around the room have become tattered over time and pale compared to how beautiful they once appeared. There are 2 pedestals at either end of the long rectangular room and two rows of seats on either side of the room.

Seated at each of the benches are a number of figures clothed in fancier administrative robes, their mummified faces frozen and their mouths open in horror. Aside from the thin circlets they wear on their brows and the fancy outfits they wear, they are all quite dead. The circles are made of gold and appear to be worth about 10 gold each (APPRAISE DC13 puts them closer to 40 gold each). Once any of the bodies are tampered with or their circlets removed, a large ghost appears in the middle of the room floating before them.

It wears long flowing robes that are tattered like the tapestries high on the walls, bearing round coin sigils depicting various arcane symbols. Is has thin white hair and bluish-white skin that sags slightly and it’s surrounded with a bluish-green aura. Against one of its shoulders it carries an oversized gavel covered with skulls other netherworld totems.

In a booming voice it demands, “I ASK THE COURT AGAINWHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE VESSEL?” If there are any replies other than “It’s construction goes well!” the ghost will fly into a rage and attack. Before the attack, a savvy PC can attempt a Diplomacy skill check against the ghost (DC16). A success will allow them to ask the ghost what the vessel is and more about it. Eventually the ghost will become restless, accuse them of being spies, and attack.

After combat it dropped a magical talisman, picked up by Merisiel called a Skull Sigil Coin.

The Chamber of Truths (Bag D)

“Speak your darkest truth and be judged” is etched into a stone archway over a solid iron door. There is an overside stone throne in the centre of the room that faces the door. There are some braziers on either side of the throne. In front of the door there are scorch marks burned into the flagstone. The door itself looks untouched.

Anyone who sits in the throne is subject to a Cone of Truth-like effect and must speak the truth (DC16 Will save to overcome the effect and be able to lie). The throne asks them in maddening whispers to speak their darkest secret aloud. If they answer truthfully, they see the door before them begin to ripple, allowing them passage. All others see the effect too. Anyone who tries to pass through it but hasn’t spoken the truth to the throne takes 4d6 lightning damage as they pass through it. If a PC has spoken the plain truth about a darkest secret at any point, they may pass unharmed.

We ended the session here, just as we were getting started in the dungeon. :)

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