Dwarven Ruins

This week, three box-text descriptions of unique dwarven ruins.


Dwarven Racing Ground Ruins

Giant racing wheels rust on the overgrown track. A breeze blows through the arena, stirring the wildflowers and rattling the empty stands. The place would be very quiet if it weren’t for a small building on the far end. Light and voices stream out of its windows.  A gruff shout for music and the sounds of fiddles and singing join the noise. Over the inn, a giant bell engraved with Dwarven lettering sways in the air. Each time the clapper strikes, the wheels in the yard seem to twitch as if disturbed from a deep sleep.

Dwarven Moonshine Operation Ruins

Copper tanks of all shapes and sizes spill across the mountainside. The smell of alcohol still wafts up from their broken hulls. On every one is painted a red circle pierced by an ‘X,’ letting all know that the King’s agents have found and destroyed this tax-dodging operation. 

Dwarven Shipyard Ruins

Black slabs of ships float next to docks. On board, rows of golems stand ever ready to load cargo and sail across the seas to wherever it’s needed. Their salt-pitted casings and the slime covering everything informs that no cargo has come for a long time. 

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Three Caves

Three box-texts of caves for your game.


Ice Cave

Winds howl across the glacier’s top, but can’t reach into its deep channels . In one particularly dark crack, someone has carved foot slots. They descend into the darkness until reaching a corridor which extends out in either direction where purple orbs cast a cold light. Faces and wings flit within the solid ice behind the walls as if they were swimming in water.

Flooded Cave

At high tide the ocean washes into this cave and rummages around in its numerous tunnels like a man looking for something in a drawer. Then it drags the water back out along with anyone or anything it found. But at low tide, most of the cave remains dry but for the very deepest crevasses where a lake forms. Without waves to break its surface it resembles a sheet of black glass. Peering within, you can see a green cloud that hide its depths like spilled ink. Black branches poke out of the cloud giving a hint to what lies beneath.

Beast’s Lair

Cool air wafts up from hidden chambers bringing with it the smell of wet stone. The sound of dripping water echoes off the walls like a drum. From deep in the cave, a scream tears through this peaceful rhythm followed by the crunch of bone and muscle breaking.

Sleepy Ridge: The Town Built Out of Gravestones

Today we visit the town of Sleepy Ridge which was built out of the stones from a forgotten cemetery.


Although the town of Sleepy Ridge lays less than half a day’s travel from a major trade road, the citizens keep to themselves and the only visitors are those seeking the town’s famous mediums. In fact, houses in Sleepy Ridge all have walled gardens topped with broken glass and the few shops operate on a written-order basis only. A catalogue hangs on a string outside each store along with paper and writing implements for customers to write down their order. Once finished, they place the order through a slot in the wall and within the hour, the order is ready for pick up. However, there is one form of socialization accepted in Sleepy Ridge: the Smokers’ Lounges. Inside these cloudy rooms the mediums of the town set up shop. They’ll see anyone for a price.

Box Texts:

Paved streets march between the walled gardens of the residential houses and an eerie quiet lays heavy in the air. Broken glass stuck in the walls’ mortar glints in the moonlight. The corpses of cigarette clog the streets’ gutters and their stink mixes with the city’s general perfume of  urine and mildew. The snap of someone lighting a match breaks the silence and the bright flash of light  momentarily illuminates a doorway where several figures stand. A pair of gloved fingers lifts the flame to a cigarette squeezed between two painted lips which take a heavy pull and then exhale spirals of smoke. After a moment, the smokers retreats into a doorway. Continue reading “Sleepy Ridge: The Town Built Out of Gravestones”

The Order of the Stars

This week’s inspiration is based upon a session run by a friend using the Mutants & Masterminds system.


 

The Museum of Human History has recently acquired the complete collection of Pharaoh Cletokep, a newly discovered pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Famed archaeologist Eugene Bullstein found the tomb in the remote Sahara far beyond where people previously believed the ancients lived. Scholars believe the pharaoh may be the person referred to in later Egyptian writings as “the enemy” or “the blasphemer.” Unknown to anyone, the sarcophagus serves as a portal to a pocket dimension where the soul of the fallen Pharaoh and her army await the day they will rise again to bring about the Order of the Stars.

Box-Texts:

Inside the Museum

Hushed voices echo off the polished stone of the museum’s floors and walls. The museum boasts an impressive collection filled with dioramas, interactive displays and multi-media. The curators have even reconstructed rooms from long-gone periods down to pens on desks and tables set for tea. A gilded dog cage, its originally occupant dead for hundreds of years, still sits with pride alongside its dead king’s throne. But few patrons admire these impressive displays and instead flock to see the newly acquired Pharaoh Cletokep Collection.

The Egyptian section

Crowds of people peer through the display cases’ thick glass at the carefully labeled artifacts and sarcophagus. The cases and people fill room after room. School teachers attempt to quiet their charge of students while a curator lectures. In the last room, stone tiles cover the walls. Hieroglyphics and pictures coat each one so that the entire room appears as a giant storybook. Pharaoh Cletokep’s ebony sarcophagus dominates the center, its gold hieroglyphics shimmering as if just painted. Continue reading “The Order of the Stars”

The Splendid Spa of Two Angels

Today’s inspiration is a setting and plot idea for a one-shot adventure, an abandoned spa reachable only by a portal in an alley. Terrible monsters who feed on thoughts inhabit the spa and caused its ruin.


 Background:

Long ago, the City of Two Angels was the most fashionable place to be seen. The streets lined with shining cobblestone, the shops windows filled with expensive clothing and exquisite jewelry. Artists, politicians, entrepreneurs all called Two Angels home. Tourists came from far and wide to spend a few days being part of the hustle and bustle of the influential city. But mostly they came for The Splendid Spa, a luxury resort existing inside a pocket universe in Two Angels. The Spa claimed its hot springs cured all ailments. The salts, it said, made a person more beautiful, wiser, and even younger. But then one day, shadow creatures began to secretly visit the Spa. Strange creatures that at first appeared as only a haze, but grew more solid and stronger from feeding off a person’s thoughts, especially those of imagination. And few thoughts are more imaginative than that of fear. Guests began to die, found withered up like raisins. The resort was at a loss to explain this, but as the deaths grew more frequent, the creatures grew more plentiful. The Spa was forced to shut down, and the portal to it blocked and buried, least the creatures break through. After the news of the deaths spread through the population, Two Angels began to decline as people moved avoided it out of fear. Today, no one remembers exactly why Two Angels became the cesspool of poverty and crime it is today.

Box-Texts:

The Portal’s Opening

Elderly mansions line this street, their once proud awnings now torn and faded. Trash clutters the yards and banks of mailboxes crowd the space next to the doors. In the alley between two of the houses, cats fight in the piled-up rubbish. But from a crack in a bricked-up door, a blue light glows. A closer inspection reveals that it appears as some kind of window looking out onto a grassy meadow.

Inside the portal:

A deep blue sky peppered with wispy clouds hangs over a grassy meadow, blue mountains obstruct the horizon in the distance. The remnants of stone walls peek through the tall grass and overgrown flowers. Cottages with sagging roofs stand in a semi-circle.

Inside a cottage:

Dead ferns in cracked pots flank a reception desk. An iron sculpture of fish swimming hangs on the wall. Whenever one looks away, the fish appear to move, but when the viewer looks back, they hang still again. In the next room, rows of tubs sink into the floor. Mud fills them, and a few plants have taken root, fed by the sunlight streaming through the cracked roof. A rotten smell wafts in from another room, making one instinctively cover their nose. On the wall, someone has craved the words “Don’t Think” in jagged letters.

The Rough Part of Town

This week, two more ‘box-texts.’ These are not as random as they might seem at first, they are part of what I’m calling “The Rough Part of Town,” and go with Dragg’s Drug Den


Rundown Racetrack

Giant metal wheels rust in heaps around the racetrack grounds. Only a few spectators cheer from the stands. Most don’t seem to truly understand the sport, screaming loudly whenever the drivers crash and splashing beer on each other in their excitement. Except for an elderly gentlemen sitting in the first row leaning heavily forward on his cane to view the race. The giant wheels spin around the track, the drivers, seated where the spoke would normally go, wipe the mud from their goggles with each turn.

Gambling Hall

Noise, flashing lights, and smoke clog the gambling hall. People in fancy, but cheap, evening wear crowd the tables. Most people play games of chance, their eyes fixated on balls whirling around tables and spinning discs. But the most popular tables are the races where tiny creatures race around tiny tracks. Drunken gamblers shout at the creatures to move. Anytime hands get too close to the race track, bouncers step in to pull the offenders back. Behind the games of chance and a curtain, gamblers engage in more serious games. The players pick up and put down cards, only speaking when needed to instruct the dealer. The dealers’ voices call out the losses and wins in a pleasant monotone. The ruining or making of fortunes means nothing to them.

Dragg’s Drug Den

This week I’m trying something slightly different. Like I’ve done before, below is a box-text description of a drug den. But, below that are three ‘hooks’ to choose from, various activities that you can use to get an adventure started. I’ve kept the setting non-specific enough that it could be used in both fantasy and sci-fi.


 

Giant hookahs hang from the ceiling of The Den. Glittery pieces of tile arranged on their surface give each the appearance of an octopus swimming through the thick smoke that clouds the place. Patrons lounge on dirty couches, sucking on the hoses dangling from the hookahs, eyes half-closed. Others gyrate on the dance floor, their eyes blood-shot from the Dizzy they’ve consumed.

Hook One – The Mysterious Group

In one corner, a group of people dressed in clean white garments talks in low voices despite the loud music. Only water glasses sit on their table, the hookah pipes unused. Anytime someone tries to sit with them, people in crisp red uniforms firmly pushes them away.

Hook Two – Behind Closed Doors

A man walks up to the counter and whispers something to the den keep. He’s led into a back room where a boy pulls back a heavy curtain. Behind it, Dragg, the Den’s owner, soaks in enormous tub filled with some kind of thick, foul-smelling substance. An old woman kneels before the tub, a golden swan held out in her hands. Dragg gives a short nod. A guard takes the swan from the woman and in return gives her sacks of rice and guns.

Hook Three – The Unseen Children

One of the hookahs has a “Pardon Our Cleaning” sign. Small children scramble over the hookah with rags, trying to shine its chipped tiles. Other children with coarse brushes climb through the hoses and into the hookah itself, scrubbing off the thick build-up of creosote. A locked brace encircles each child’s leg and prevents them from running away.