Journey to The Tenth Shrine
|Status||Explored June 899 TA|
|Campaign||The Tang Empire Campaign|
This adventure takes place at the Tenth Shrine. The Legend of the Tenth Shrine is well known.
Before he left, the Grandmaster of Law left behind a single package, addressed to the Emperor, to be opened one decade to the day from his departure.
That day is today. Sitting on his ruby throne, amongst the accumulated wealth of thousands of years, the Tang Emperor – the ultimate authority throughout the island Empire is trembling. Opening the simply-wrapped package, the Emperor finds four small wooden boxes each addressed in the Grandmaster’s spidery script. One is addressed to Prince Oda, his son and commander of the Emperor’s personal bodyguards. The others are addressed to outsiders with a rune to teleport the boxes to their destination. A single scrap of paper is addressed to the Emperor. It simply reads, “The Gate Opens.”
Meanwhile Back at Home
Almost ten years have passed since the Burning of Teufeldorf and the party’s harrowing adventures into Oblivion. With the absolute devastation of the Orc Nation to the north and Sandal to the south, not to mention the disappearance of the Tomb Kingdom into the Sands of Time, the three kings of the Reaches have enjoyed relative peace and prosperity. Much of the rebuilding from the war is completed, and the people of the Reaches seem focused on the upcoming celebration of the new century. For, it is the middle of June 899 of the Third Age.
You roll your eyes, as another summons from Hylax comes in. The little gnome has been working on a master plan to have three simultaneous fireworks displays over Teufeldorf Castle, Dwarrowdelf, and Dragonsford Castle at the moment of the new century, six months hence. “Timing is everything. We must have the spatio-temporal vortex just right in order to synchronize the effect...” If you hear any more talk of the fireworks – well, at least he brings good beer and winterweed along with him on his now-frequent visits.
As you enter the rebuilt stone feasting hall in Dragonsford Castle, you notice tension in the air – not the jovial banter of good friends chatting over recent gossip. On the table, a small box sits, ornately inlayed with intricate wood patterns. A single symbol glows upon its top. While you don’t recognize the symbol consciously, you know that it has a simple meaning – Chaos.
Fuzzwort is expounding on his knowledge of the box, gleaned from his recent decade-long hiatus – most of which seems to have been spent reading obscure texts and forgotten codices.
The box, he says, is clearly of ancient Tang origins. It is called a kagi – or key, although this particular box seems enchanted with a summoning spell as well. The symbol of Chaos does not describe the box or its contents, however. Rather the rune appears to be an address for delivering the box to its owners – you. According to tradition, this method of summons was used in the late Second Age by the Tang Emperors to bring small groups of people together. The rune is triggered only after all of its owners have touched it, allowing the box to be carried safely by others until the requirements of the ritual have been met. In keeping with tradition, the Emperor himself provides for the safety of those who use the kagi, insuring that the summons cannot be used to harm others.
Upon solving the weighted balance puzzle, the party will be given the note from Baron Valdemar. This will allow them to use the intervening ten years to build improvements to the Reaches defense. This will be played out in Wittenagemot. However, the note makes it very clear that they cannot use their foreknowledge to stop the events of the invasion.
There is very little “prep” work that can be done by the party, but it will be interesting to see if they try.
A few notes:
- The party has not aged because of the Ungent used in the last adventure.
- Almost ten years have passed since the note arrived in the late summer of 890 TA and today, June 21, 899 TA – the summer Soltice. So, the party can do whatever to “fill” the nine years.
A Weighty Puzzle
It has been a week since the end of the Seige of Teufeldorf. Several assassins in your hire from the Dark Path return with news from Sandal. They inform you that Baron Valdemar’s personal apartments in the Sandalese capital were occupied shortly before the siege ended, although they now empty. Last night, one the assassins snuck into the apartment and found a note sitting on a desk – apparently the only item of interest in the room. It appeared to be magically sealed, and, following your orders was stolen for your assessment. As the assassin was preparing to leave, he noticed that an identical note had magically appeared on the table. He left that one to await further orders. This morning, the apartments and the entire building were burned to the ground by rioting Sandalese peasants unhappy with the war efforts. The assassins confirm that all further evidence is lost.
On one side of the letter is a poem:
On the other side of the letter is a magical glyph:
A Letter Revealed
|June 899 TA
My dear self,
As I hoped, the secrets of time travel have slowly revealed themselves to me, although I am only able to send small items back. As our dear nephew has unfortunately discovered, living matter cannot be regressed. There are three things you must now do in order to have revenge against the Three Kings.
First, you must travel to the Tang Empire and there convince the Emperor that he must, as a final act of Law before the Thousand Year Gate opens, invade the Reaches. As the Kings will be summoned by the Tenth Shrine, a summons which they cannot refuse, their kingdom will be without leadership – and ripe for destruction. This will establish the Emperor’s dynasty as the ultimate ruler of Law before his days end. Bring your trusted advisors with you, as this will be your new home for twenty years.
Second, you must convince the Emperor to fund a resistance – to build up a small clandestine force of troops that will invade from the South in the early months of 899 TA in advance of the naval assault on Teufeldorf and the shores north and south of the city. I have seen that this plan will be discovered by the Three Kings, but they will fail in their attempts to thwart the resistance.
Finally, once you have set these tasks in motion, you must destroy this message. Seek out a blind beggar named Hosu outside the Emperor’s Palace, and have him work his magic on you. It will subtly alter your memory, so that you will forget about this note. Hosu will die and his dust will be scattered shortly after you do this. Again, the Three Kings will try and stop this, but they can’t. It has already happened.
Then, you will be me, as I am now. I am unsure whether the Tang Armada can defeat the Three Kings, but the revenge will be glorious.
Valdemar, Baron Deposed of Sandal
Arriving at the Emperor’s Palace
The figure is that of Naomi. She will eventually be revealed as the Grandmaster of Chaos. She will tell the party of what is known of the festival, although she knows nothing about the island behind the Thousand Year Gate. Her fate is to accompany the party through the gate, aid them for ten days, and remain behind when the old grandmaster returns to the Realm.
Naomi’s role now is that of companion. She is to accompany the party to their private suites and explain the adventure to come.
The party is led to a suite of rooms to relax. There are six bedrooms around a large central lounge. They are decorated in the same style as the rest of this wing of the palace. A massive fireplace sits against the far wall; it has clearly been burning for quite awhile.
Naomi promises to return in a few minutes with hot, mulled wine and some food – is there anything special that you require? Oh, and by the way, although I know you are curious, please don’t leave until I have had a chance to explain the courtesies of the Emperor’s Palace.
Drinking causes a lowering of resistance to scrying. If he is discovered, the boy will bite down, thrash for a few seconds, and then turn to dust. A note in his pocket reads, “Welcome to the Game.”
Things that Naomi will tell the party.
- You are in the palace of the Emperor, in a series of rooms occupied only for the Thousand Year Gate ceremony.
- Tomorrow is the ceremony to open the Thousand Year Gate. It is called the Challenge, and it will determine the order in which the Champions will pass through the Thousand Year Gate.
- Those who win will decide the order. It is rumored that the first ones through the gate will choose their destination. The second through can go anywhere except where the first did. And so on.
- The Challenge is an elimination tournament in the presence of the Emperor himself. There are three tests
- The Challenge of the Honorable Warrior’s Skill-at-Arms (red stone). Two warriors stand at the opposite ends of the field. When the gong is sounded the battle begins. Combatants may not leave the field of honor. The first one to kill the other with their sword is declared the victor.
- The Challenge of the Honorable Warrior’s Clear Thought (green stone). Two warriors stand near the center of the arena. Several riddles are asked. The first to answer correctly scores. Two correct answers win the round.
- The Challenge of Honorable Warrior’s Wizardly Might (silver stone). Two warriors stand at the opposite ends of the field. When the gong is sounded, the battle begins. Combatants may not leave the field of honor. The first one to kill the other with spells is declared the victor.
- (if asked) Spellcasting is allowed before the contest begins.
- Once the order of passage is determined, the Champions will enter the gate. To do this, they must declare their names, their possessions and their destination. This is heard by all who are still in the arena.
- Non-declared items items will be left behind.
- (if asked) Winking is against the honor.
- Miscellaneous Information
- (if asked) The Champions of Law and the Champions of Evil have already arrived.
- (if asked) This is the mid-winter festival, celebrating the Tang New Year.
- (if asked) You are free to move about this wing of the palace. There are four apartments each on this floor – each housing the Champions. The Emperor’s Peace is in place.
The Honorable Warrior
Honor above all. Honor accumulates throughout a man’s life – a balance which will be weighed by the gods during times of great trial and danger. There are four guiding principles to the Honorable Warrior.
The honorable warrior carries only what he needs.
To carry more is a show of disrespect and pride.
To do less is foolhardy.
The honorable warrior does not ambush his enemy on the path to the battlefield.
Cowardice is not rewarded nor respected.
Honor is held only through a fair fight.
The honorable warrior does not hide his power from his enemies.
Hiding is a game played by children.
Conflicts often end quickly when the true strength of the warrior is known.
The honorable warrior does not use the weak as his shield.
Face your enemy squarely on the field of battle.
To hide behind the oppressed is worthless.
Translation: Don’t take extra magic through the gate. You must declare your possessions when going through the gate. Leave the peasants alone – although this one may be broken if the flies are released.
Scoring: Each team will start with 25 honor points in each category. Dishonorable actions will take points away. These scores will be used as multipliers of damage, etc. in the final battle.
Finally, the festivities stop. A somber looking man, portly and bald, comes to the center of the field. He speaks softly, but his words are amplified for all to hear.
Here are three stones, secretly chose which challenge you wish to take. Matching stones meet first.
- The Challenge of the Honorable Warrior’s Skill-at-Arms (red stone).
- The Challenge of the Honorable Warrior’s Clear Thought (green stone).
- The Challenge of Honorable Warrior’s Wizardly Might (silver stone).
At the start of each Challenge, the combatants will they will notice a faint green glow around them. This will allow time to be “rolled back” to eliminate wounds and refresh spellbooks.
The other teams choose:
- Evil – Skill-at-Arms
- Law – Clear Thought
- Good – Wizardly Might
The questions in the Clear Thought tournament:
- Fan-chi has lived one-fourth of his life as a boy, one-fifth as a youth, one-third as a man, and has spent thirteen years in his dotage. How old is he? 60. 1:00
- Fan-chi married a widow, and they each already had children. Ten years later there was a pitched battle engaging the family of 12 children. The mother ran to the father and cried, “Come at once! Your children and my children are fighting our children!” As the parents now had each nine children of their own, how many were born during the ten years? Six. 1:00
- Fan-chi can run the Emperor’s circular garden path in four minutes, and it takes his son six minutes. In how many minutes will Fan-chi overtake his son? 12 minutes. 1:00
- The General wishes to form his men into twelve rows, with eleven men in every row, so that he could place himself at a point that would be equidistant from every row. There are only 120 men. How does he do it? Form a circle with a shared man at the end of each row with the General in the middle. 1:00
- A miller was accustomed to take as a toll one-tenth of the flour that he had ground for his customers. How much did he grind for a man to have just one bushel after the toll had been taken? One and one-ninth bushel. 1:00
- An Epitaph (1538 AD). Two widows each have a son, and each widow marries the son of the other and has a daughter by the marriage, all the relationships will be found to result. 2:00
The Champions of Good
seeks to slay all of the other groups; grandmaster = Saki – a young girl with dark features wearing a white robe and white flowers in her hair; first stop = aerie.
- Paolo Soleri - Bard – Dressed in light chain over which is thrown an outrageous red cloak. A red troubadour hat with a white feather completes the outfit. He is good looking, confident and cocky. He carries a rapier and dagger in his belt. A harp is slung over his shoulder, and he wears an amulet. Paolo has an innate ability to see into the future. His bard practice has allowed him to convey this sense to the other in his party. Paolo was hired by Prince Odo to take his place. Paolo is actually Prince Odo.
- Kitts Svoboda – Barbarian – A huge, burly blond-headed brute, Kitts appears to travel light with only chainmail armor and a large crimson hammer. He is also wearing an amulet. One of three brothers. He has the ability to turn into an owlbear.
- Glessen Svoboda – Fighter. A slightly smaller version of Kitts, Glessen is also blond and muscular – although significantly more attractive. He wears chainmail and carries two nasty-looking swords. Like the rest of his party, he is wearing an amulet.
- Cosanti Svoboda – Cleric. A fat, dour-looking man, Cosanti appears out of place with his younger, more flamboyant comrades. He wears clerical robes with a simple long sword at his belt and a staff in his hands. You would guess that Cosanti is both strong and bright, despite his attempts to look simple. Like the rest of his party, he is wearing an amulet. Has the ability to heal other through his years studding the earth. Like his brother he too seeks to weaken his enemy by aging him. Cosanti caries the Svoboda Family staff. In his hands only, it has the power to speak with past family members for their knowledge. It is said that the staff can even fight on it own.
- Scotts Fie – Archer/Mage. Significantly lighter and taller, Scotts is clearly a brother to Kitts and Glessen. He wears the robes of a wizard, although he seems too young to be a master. He carries a bow across his back and a large travel pouch. He wears both a ring and an amulet. Scotts is a quiet and calculating man who enjoys the company of his companions. His is extremely skillful with the bow which his skills have been magical enhanced. Also the aid of Paolo's insight makes Scotts an excellent shot.
The Champions of Law
they are trying to make sure that all the groups fail; grandmaster = Takumi, a young man with a limp, dark haired with a fetching smile; first stop = Moira. They will immediately defile the Plaza, releasing the aerial servants. Means-Motive-Opportunity: Party of Law. If nobody survives, then Law will rule. Not trying to win the game but stop it altogether.
- Elsbeth the Paladin – Dressed in simple robes with folded wings, Elsbeth looks the part of an angel – golden locks and all. She carries a magic bow and has a quiver of magic arrows. Two rings and an amulet complete her visage. Elsbeth is really a gold dragon.
- Firozhan – Wizard. This wiry little man seems unaware of his surrounding, as he is writing in a leather-bound book. He wears a ratty, brown cloak and amulet. Otherwise, his only item seems to be a large duffle bag which he drags behind him. Tinker make machines to do his bidding.
- Elford – Fighter. A strong looking man of middle-age with a stern continence, Elford is armed with magical plate and helmet. He wears an amulet. Around his belt are four rapiers.
- Eldrick – Fighter. Elford’s twin – except that he smiles and seems more social, the two differ only in weapons – as Eldrick carries a longsword.
- Rummy – Wizard/Alchemist – This man is dressed in simple robes with an amulet. He carries a magical jug in one hand and a magical book in the other. He seems to be staggering. He gains his abilities through drink. as a drunk he has a tendency for mood swings and can be quite to a loud rowdy drunk. the party would have a hard time controlling him. As a result he cannot be mind controlled or possessed in this state nor can not be poisoned and can detect poison. He has an uncanny ability to solve the unsolvable through nonsense while in a drunken stupor.
The Champions of Evil
seeks to garner the support of each of the residents of the island; grandmaster = Jun, a tall thin boy with a poor complexion and white hair, albino like without the pink eyes; first stop = aerie.
NOTE: The champions of evil travel silently and communicate via telepathy.
- Gwen Blackheart – Dragon. A beautiful woman in her middle years with a striking regal air about her. She wears black scaled robes and has a glowing helmet. A short rod is stuck in her belt, and she wears both an amulet and a ring. An ancient evil black dragon, Gwen has now become a Soul stealer. She was one of the original through the gate a thousand years ago. She has given up the dragon form to live a life moving from body to body to serve her purposes. She still possesses some of her dragon abilities. She is known to torture the souls whose bodies she inhabits. The group is unaware of any of this or the fact that she has been grooming the party for this occasion. She is looking for the Crystal of Life which has slipped through her claws the last time she came to the island.
- Penhallow – Fighter. A squat human with dark brown hair and tanned complexion, Brun is armed with a nasty giant axe, a brace of smaller, but equally-nasty throwing axes, magical plate. On his back is a large, rolled-up carpet. The leader in battle. Can call once per day for Battle Fury – doubling the number of attacks in his party. A save vs. 40th level is needed to not be feared during the Battle Fury. His compatriots cannot be feared.
- Ilo – Fighter. An average-looking human fighter with dusty blond hair and a powerful build. This young man wears magical plate and helm and carries an intricately carved bow. A shapeshifter who is able to become ethereal at will. Brownish-grey hair, teeth that have been sharpened.
- Pyke Earthshaker - Fighter. A wild-eyed dwarf with untamed red hair and a beard. Wearing a nice set of dwarven plate, this fighter prefers to use two long swords. His only other apparent magic item is a ring. Able to cause earthquakes and tremors by concentrating on them.
- Kaspar Willowcreek – Cleric. Dressed in billowing clothes, the character appears to be skeletal with bone for head, feet and hands. A red glow comes from his eyesockets. He carries a staff and a magical mace is on his belt. He wears both a ring and an amulet. Skeletal priest. Fear. Immune to mind effects. Immune to turning. He is unaffected by physical damage.
Behind the Thousand Year Gate
DM’s Note: This information will be relayed to your characters during the adventure, but for playability sake, I thought you might want to read it beforehand. It describes the island that lies behind the Thousand Year Gate, named Sennen and the denizens to be found within. Obviously, this is only part of the story...
Aerie of the Mistress of the Winds
Perched near the summit of Mt. Mistral, the Aerie of the Mistress of the Winds is accessible only by a series of rope bridges which span the gorges and switchbacks of a seldom-used path from the village of Fu. The aerie is protected by dozens of rocs, massive flying eagles with keen sight and smell, who serve the Mistress. It is said that those who do a favor in the service of the Mistress are allowed passage on the rocs throughout the island for a period of time commensurate with the valor of the deed.
The mistress will send the party to pluck a scale from Doragon as an ordeal worthy of her mounts. The scale she will use to try and control Doragon during his ten day waking.
The rocs will attack any flying creature. Also, the air elementals can be summoned at will.
Akka is the northernmost of the sanningumi villages. This village controls all the boats on the island with a virtual monopoly on fishing in the bay. Perched in a protective harbor, the village is easily defended. An Elder’s Palace sits on the top of the hill overlooking the bay, acting as a last defense for the town. The bay is fed by the counter-clockwise circular storm which surrounds the island constantly driving in a surprisingly variety of seafood. It is also rumored that the storms occasionally drive in shipwrecks with valuable items recovered in the Akka fishing nets.
This is where a magical sunken ship can be found that allows travel underwater. The town elder, Ren, controls things with a firm hand and will “escort” the party around his town. He can be bribed with magic or wine. He hates the Tanran and will do anything to be rid of them.
Goddess of Mercy – save 50 common folk to get a wish– who helps the poor and homeless. She shuns authority but can be found if approached correctly.
One of the poor villages on the outer island, Bin is a trading outpost in the tall hills where three roads meet. A winding pass over the mountains leads hearty adventurers past the yeti, through the Bloody Falls, and down into the mines of Yoku. More commonly, Bin trades with its neighbors Heta and Hin. The village exports furs and meat, including the prized mountain deer, as its people primarily subsist off of trapping and hunting. An ancient crone is said to live in Bin, capable of creating a potion that can charm anything.
Akane appears as a drunk old woman. She is always sitting at the bar ordering water, which she turns into whatever she wants.
The yeti will attack whoever has the most beans. Their grasp will slowly suck beans out of characters. They are HUGE.
Crypt of Archers
East of Pua at the head of the valley lays the Crypt of Archers. The crypt is rumored to be the home to a race of bat-winged, red scaled, demons – the tooya – known in common as the avengers of the gods. It is said that any action against the deities of the island will invoke an attack by the tooya, especially the desecration of a temple or shrine. The crypt is rumored to hold the White Summoning Orb, an ancient relic of tremendous power.
These are the tooya. Bows can hit any target in sight. All other arrows return to their shooter. Shape change at will. 2d20 per arrow.
Four crypts are hidden behind the racks in the walls. Each crypt is filled with thousands of poisonous bees who “shoot” their stingers at the party as a distraction while the tooya finish them off.
The crystal binds the souls of those who have jumped into the pit (see next room). When a tooya “dies” its soul returns here and then returns to the pit to be reanimated. The tooya can be bribed by restoring a descrated temple. Touching the red crystal brings an attack from the alcoves.
At the far northeastern end of the island, a single volcano rises from the swamps and fetid runoff of the nearby mountains. The volcano is known as Dragon’s Mount, for it is rumored to be the home of the five hundred headed beast, Doragon, a dragon of epic power. Fed by the knowledge gained by eating the failed grandmasters, Doragon is both wise and terrible. It is said that he rests for a thousand years, only waking when Outsiders are present.
Doragon lies at the heart of the volcano. Hundreds of entrances dot the side of the mountain, none of them large enough for a dragon to come out of. Only one leads down into the center of the mountain.
It is impossibly hot in the maze.
Doragon wakes hungry – looking for food. After feeding, he might be bribed with powerful magic. However, mostly likely he will just try to take what he wants. He can act as any known dragon + cast spells. His heads are constantly shifting which makes him very difficult to kill. He hates the mistress of the aerie because her rocs are always harassing him. His favorite food = yeti. Mmmm.
The village of Fu is the easternmost village on the south side of the island. Its small stone huts cling to rocky, barren shores broken by fishing docks jutting into the turbulent sea. Known to be mistrustful of outsiders, rumors persist that the villagers secretly hide an artifact of great power – although no first-hand accounts exist. A single path winds from the village, north into the mountains, to the Shrine of Pawns. From there, a steeper, more treacherous path continues up the slopes of Mt. Mistral to the Aerie of the Mistress of the Winds.
The powerful item is the Trident of the Storm – a summoning which can be used in the final conflict.
This swampy morass is the lowest point on the island. Frequently flooded by the turbulent sea, Heron’s Marsh is home to thousands of small island birds – including the Scarlet Heron.
It is also home to a large herd of catoblepas. Screeching vultures will follow the party – by scent. This alerts both No Cha and the catoblepas.
This village is the poorest of the poor. A collection of huts provide a halfway shelter for those who travel between Bin and Pua, a two day walk. Heta was founded in memoriam by several travelers who encountered the genri, or Truth Spirit, upon a large rock outcropping near the village. The genri is rumored to still appear upon occasion, always as a pot-bellied old man with a long grey beard dressed costly robes. He asks riddles of his followers, and if they answer correctly, he grants them the reward of knowledge or wishes.
The genri is protected by water elementals who must be defeated before he will come.
One of the poor villages on the outer island, Hin is home to a small collection of stone huts, built from the rocky shores that line this part of the island. There are two interesting features in Hin. The first is a giant metallic statue of a man with a giant sword in one hand, and the other outstretched with fingers poised as if he should be holding something aloft. The statue is ancient, weathered to a dull grayish-black. However, the sword is bright and shiny, radiating a light that illuminates the village. The second interesting feature of Hin is a single path that winds its way up to the Shrine of Numbers to the northwest.
The boss stone giant, Ookumo, who has been hitting the town lies in the foothills south of the road in a cave complex with about 80 giants. He is two-headed and carries a club of lightning. The boss in named Ookumo.
The statue is missing the orb of earth – which can be found at the Shrine of Numbers. The orb was cast there during the final battle. Replacing the orb will bring the statue to life. It moves very slowly, but can cause considerable damage.
It is said that when the Grandmaster of Evil won the contest of Moira in the Second Age, he did so with a legion of undead and constructs created in the foul dungeons of Hyakuhei Tower. In doing so, however, he cursed the tower and the black basalt outcropping it sits atop. The Hyakuhei Tower has been dark for centuries – until lights were spotted in its windows ten years ago. Two expeditions from Kagari to the tower have not returned.
The tower is the home to a mind flayer – Natsumi – who has recently come from the mines of Yoku. She has set up house here waiting for evil to return. In her service are a number of contructs – shambling collections of human parts and ghosts – banshee spirits of those who died to make the constructs. Natsumi carries a small black crystal around her neck which binds the spirits to her.
She is defying the Judge of the Dead, although he is not able to approach because of the Warding Orb.
The Orb does not allow any lawful or good creatures to approach within 100 yards of the tower. Spirits will attack those who try to enter, and constructs will help as they can.
Judge of the Dead
Wandering the extreme northwestern foothills of the island is a black-skinned warrior wearing the traditional First Age warrior garb. It is said that this being, known simply as the Judge of the Dead collects all the souls and spirits of the dead and makes sure that they do not roam the island. The Judge is said to have death rays that leap from his eyes when confronted with an enemy. There have been no sightings of the Judge by any living being on the island.
Anyone touching the Judge will become paralyzed.
The judge is at war with the Hyakuhei Tower – who is holding souls. He cannot approach because of the orb.
He will allow the warriors to be animated as a boon to helping him take down the tower.
He does not like resurrection and will require that any who want his help forgo it.
He will oftentimes be seen near conflicts.
The southernmost town in the fertile central valley of the island, Kagari sits against the foothills of the mountains. Kagari shepherds run their flocks throughout the lowland hills to the south and east, and the village is famous for its wool and mutton. While poor compared to its neighbors to the north, the villagers are warm, simple people. The town is surrounded by an ancient earthen wall that is built to keep a local monster, the Oni, a massive tusked beast at bay. Winding southwest into the mountains leads to the Shrine of Mazes - few travel the overgrown pathways to that ancient temple.
Killing the Oni – who live in a cave nearby would be great.
The cave of Oni holds the Retributive amulet. The oni are roc bodied spirits with a man’s head. Their leader is Shan – who has the power to summon a hurricane wind, call forth creatures of the air to help him, and turn back one spell cast at him each round. The amulet turns back damage – ouch.
The only forested region of the island lies in the southeastern province. The Kigi Forest is uninhabited by men, although it is rumored that an ancient race of ents live there even today. Islanders are allowed to pick up fallen trees and dead branches which are sometimes found piled in the northwest corner of the forest. None who venture into the woods have returned.
The ents can only be found when they are stacking wood or collecting it. They do not mind flying over the forest, just landing there or bothering the trees. Their leader is Souta – a venerable maple with silver-red leaves. Fifty ents will help the party – or attack them. They wish to be rid of the evil of the Hyahuhei Tower. They protect Senpai House.
Kyofu is the southernmost of the sanningumi villages. This large village is surrounded by an ancient stone wall which separates it from the surrounding fields of rice and vegetables. Three rivers run from the mountains down into the area, providing excellent irrigation for the black, rich earth. Kyofu is known for its military order and strict discipline, imposed by the governor Hsu, an ill-tempered man whose ruthless business practices have brought him considerable wealth.
Hsu will attempt to keep all outsiders from his village. He is paranoid of any who are more powerful than him. He secretly worhips Kung, Duke of Thunder – as this may give him power over the fragile fleets of Akka.
Kung appears as a man with smoking black skin and eyes with pupils like lightning bolts. He has two large tusks and a huge nose. He has red spotted wing with a 40 foot span. He casts massive lightning bolts and beats on his magical drums – which both panic and do sonic damage. He loves to destroy anything that is delicate. The drums disappear if Kung is defeated.
Moira, or the Game, is a ritualized ceremony which is played ten days after the opening of the Thousand Year Gate. Moira pits the champions and allies of the four Grandmasters who have lived on the island for the last millennium against each other. The winners are allowed to escort their Grandmaster back through the Thousand Year Gate to the Emperor’s service. The battlefield for Moira is a four hundred foot square stone chessboard set just outside the Thousand Year Gate.
(see the final conflict)
All who come to the island through the Thousand Year Gate.
No Cha, Grandmaster of Thieves
It is rumored that No Cha, an Outsider, stole his way through the Thousand Year Gate during its last opening – simply to prove the impossible could be done. Since then, he has made his home on the moors and lowland marshes of the finger of land called the Heron’s Marsh. He is known to be misanthropic, avoiding all contact with others. Some say that No Cha seeks to return to the Realm with the current opening of the Thousand Year Gate.
No Cha does indeed seek to return through the Gate. To do this, he must assume the identity of one left behind.
An invisible note is tacked to the door. It can be touched safely. All other attempts to touch the structure require a save vs. death poison. Any attempt to cast a spell at the tower will have it reflected. The tower is fake – solid stone. No Cha lives in a small hut behind the tower. Note the vultures and catoblepas that are always nearby.
No Cha is a middle-aged man who is impossibly thin and rakish. He is of average height with strangely forgettable features. He tends to cock his head when being spoken to. He appears to have no weapons, armor or magic. He phases out when needed – but is a great thief.
These are all hidden, for quick retrieval when needed – any weapon for any time. He tends to think magic is for the weak.
The note reads:
|Xnshj dtz fwj wjfinsl ymnx, hqjfwqd dtz mfaj xzujwntw nsyjqqnljshj. Rd mzy nx fgtzy xncyd dfwix jfxy tk mjwj sjfw fs tqi lsfwqji tfp ywjj. N it sty qnpj anxnytwx, xt nk dtz htrj - rfpj xzwj ymfy ny nx nrutwyfsy.|
Since you are reading this, clearly you have superior intelligence. My hut is about 60 yards east of here near an old gnarled oak tree. I do not like visitors, so if you come - make sure that it is important.
It is shifted 5 letters.
One of the poor outer island villages, Pua lays a full day’s walk west of Fu and a full day’s walk south of Heta. It is settled in a small valley which pushes into the foothills north of the city. The residents eat fish and a few vegetables grown in the valley. The valley is home to a rare black lotus flower which is rumored to have scrying powers.
The black lotus is the flower which allows you to see into others dreams. With the Amulet of the Black Lotus, you can project things into others dreams – even if they are protected from scrying. The Amulet was rumored to be lost when a beggar named Wu last came to town generations ago.
The Pua will be attacked by the Archers and probably found hiding in the hills or under boats on the beach. They will ask for help in closing the crypt. Their leader is an old woman named Kana. She is a healer, if needed.
An ancient wooden structure, said to be formed from living boughs sits in the center of the Kigi Forest. It is rumored to be the residence of an old man known simply as Wu. Wu has been described as a thin old man with a long flowing white beard who always appears dressed in green. Wu’s motives are unknown, and he has not been seen by any living islander.
Senpai house is a delicate structure with a number of paper windows. The house is made of ancient wood, covered in intricate carvings and reliefs. A set of large brass bells sit outside the main entrance on a strange rack – a hammer sits nearby. Ringing the bells correctly will call Wu to the door. Otherwise, he will come in his true form – an angry druid/bear. The Black Lotus pipe will be found in his study.
Wu can age people, animals and plants. He has seeds which can be thrown into the air to create diabolical plants. He can travel through vegetation that others can’t. He can heal with dirt.
The ents protect his house and will move to attack if the bells are not sounded properly.
In the common dialect, these villages are called the Gang of Three, comprised of Kyofu, Yoku, and Akka. They control the three major needs of the island: fish, rice and salt, and, therefore, are the richest and most influential villages on Sennen. Sea of Storms The exterior of the island is battered by constant storms and howling winds which swirl around Sennen. The storms, magical in nature, prevent all travel from the island to points outside. The interior of the island, by contrast, is calm, with gentle rains and sunshine that oftentimes streams down through the eye of the storm.
The name used by local natives for the island which lies beyond the Thousand Year Gate. The island is crescent shaped with a spine of mountains curving along its length. Most of the island’s population lives in the fertile valley in the center of the island. A single road winds around most of the island, circumnavigating the impassable mountains. Only two passes through the mountain exist.
Shrine of Mazes
Set deep within the bowels of the mountains, the Shrine of Mazes is part temple and part labyrinth. The maze is filled with traps and puzzles, and failure is always rewarded by the feasting of the Serpents of the Maze, five-headed dragons of the nastiest disposition. The maze can only be entered at the stroke of midnight, according to legend – and only by those clever enough to solve its riddles or lucky enough to find a key.
A simple temple sits against the edge of the mountain, although closer inspection shows that it is actually set into the mountain. A large entry chamber has the statue of a five-headed dragon looking towards the entrance. A number of offerings can be seen strewn about the floor. On the wall behind the dragon statue sits a small box of cloth strips. A single door leads beyond, although it is impossible to see inside. Over the door is a strange pattern.
Find the path though the maze, a winning key you chose. Pass through the door with eyes shut fast, your instincts will be true.
Instructions to the puzzle box (in 4 parts)
Draw a path that passes through each blank square exactly once. The path can only change direction when it hits a dark square, a square that contains part of the path so far, or the edge of the grid.
The room appears empty, if peeked at. Any cheating and the party will “fall” into the den of dragons.
This time you walk and see your doom – it can come true in time.
Jump quickly along the pillared walk – any solve this simple rhyme.
Start at the circle containing an "S". Draw a path joining all the circles with straight lines so that you never cross your path, and you never move horizontally, vertically, or at 45 degree angle.
Failure will again lead to the dragon pit.
A final maze, my honored guests, but this one passes quick. Pass through this room to your reward before the last clock tick.
Find a loop through the maze that passes through every circle exactly once.
EXTRA PUZZLE – if needed. Find a path consisting of straight lines that visits each circle once, and does not cross itself. A number n in a circle indicates that it is the nth circle visited.
Instructions to the puzzle box (in 4 parts)
A little research will show that this is a Greater Staff of Elemental Air. It can be placed at one of the corners of the Moira board.
Shrine of Mirrors
The Shrine of Mirrors is an odd square-shaped building lined with windows at the end of an overgrown footpath. Its fragile appearance belies little of its deadly reputation. The Grandmaster of Law is said to have gone mad in the shrine, attempting to break all the mirrors – eventually blinding himself and wandering the island babbling of ghosts and kyonshi (vampires). The Shrine of Mirrors is rumored to hold the Crystal of Life, a relic used to cheat death.
Looking into the windows of the shrine, you see a number of Warrior figures standing evenly spaced throughout the rooms. A number of mirrors are on the walls.
A small stone gazebo sits nearby. On a table inside, a journal page has been weighted down with rocks.
Four tests there are – simple really. Just kill the kyonshi and release the warriors. They won’t move until you go inside. Destroy the vampires and move on to the next test. Simple really. Simple. There are only three of them. And no ghosts to be found….
This second test, oh, just as easy. Just as easy, I tell you. Kill the four ghosts and four vampires – kill them fast. The four warriors will be freed. Yes, and this time you get a reward.
Instructions to the puzzle box (in 4 parts)
My brain is tired. Now I must place the mirrors just so. I can’t figure this out. I’m so sleepy. It can’t be that difficult.
Crystal of Life
This is impossible. I must place the mirror and the warrior – just right I tell you. If all is right, and I’m fast enough, the treasure is mine. Mine. These mirrors are driving me nuts. Is it really seven year’s bad luck to break one. Well, maybe just one.
A little research will show that this is a Greater Staff of Elemental Fire. It can be placed at one of the corners of the Moira board.
Shrine of Numbers
This shrine is located in the mountainous northwestern province of the island. A single trail winds up the hill from the village of Hin. This shrine is dedicated to the mastery of mathematics – critical to understanding the intricacies of Moira, the Game. The Shrine of Numbers is rumored to be guarded by earth and air elementals bound by the intricate spells woven by the ancients. The Tang consider zero, two and five to be the most magical of numbers.
A large brown orb is rolled up against the entrance to this small stone shrine. It appears to have been in place for awhile. It is impossibly heavy – although it is round…
Fill the grid with the digits 0, 2 and 5 to add up to the specified row and column sums. In each shape in the grid, all squares must contain the same digit.
Fill the grid with the digits 0, 2 and 5 to add up to the specified row and column sums. In each shape in the grid, all squares must contain the same digit.
You must solve the grid using the pieces given. The clues along the top and left of the grid are the sums of the numbers in that row or column. The shapes may not be rotated or reflected and must fit into the grid without overlapping each other or going out of the boundaries of the grid.
The answer for both of these grids is the same. In the right-hand grid, the shape must contain all zeros, all twos or all fives. In the left-hand grid, the digits should make the math-based clued true; adding to a given sum, multiplying to a given product, etc.
Earth elementals will begin appearing each minute on the minute. At first one, then two, then four, they each take up a square and are tough to kill.
A little research will show that this is a Greater Staff of Elemental Water. It can be placed at one of the corners of the Moira board.
Shrine of Pawns
This shrine is located in the southern reaches of the island, reachable only via a small winding path from the village of Fu. This shrine is dedicated to providing Outsiders with strategic mastery of Moira – through a series of military challenges and feats of strength. The ancestral home of the powerful Black Orb of Summoning, the Shrine of Pawns was overrun by basilisks twenty years ago. The large beasts continue to plague travelers to this day.
The basilisks can move through stone. So, they tend to pop up at the worst possible times.
Stepping onto the board brings up a grid of numbers clearly bounded by a 3x3 square in the center. A number of chess pieces appear nearby.
Place any 3 white chess pieces on each board so that each square is attacked a number of times equal to the number in that square. Pawns may be placed on any square.
Place 2 knights and 6 rooks on a 5×5 chess board so that
each knight attacks 3 rooks, and each rook attacks 1 knight.
Make legal chess moves with one piece at a time to get from the starting position to the ending position in the specified number of moves. At no time may any chess piece attack any other chess piece.
Make legal chess moves with one piece at a time to get from the starting position to the ending position in the specified number of moves.
P R N P R R R N R R N R R N R R R
Instructions to the puzzle box (in 4 parts)
A little research will show that this is a Greater Staff of Elemental Cold. It can be placed at one of the corners of the Moira board.
Shrines of Mastery
This is the name given to the collection of four Outsider shrines that can be found throughout the mountains of the island. These shrines are the Shrine of Mazes, Shrine of Mirrors, Shrine of Numbers and Shrine of Pawns. Their origins are thousands of years old.
Tanran is more a fortified tunnel than a village. Founded by brigands and bandits, the Tanran demand a toll to travel by the single road winding between the inner and outer villages of the islands. The warriors of the Tanran are without mercy, although they are honorable when their toll is paid.
The Tanran are led by Daichi. He and his men are mostly thieves with limited training. If cornered, Daichi will try to bargain with the Key to the Shrine of Mazes which he keeps hidden in the kitchen.
The Thousand Year Gate
A simple, massive stone gate sits on the eastern edge of a small island in the bay. In front of the gate sits the Moira board surrounded by grandstands built of stone and topped with hundreds of gargoyle-like statues representing the ancient air spirits. Four entrances to the grandstands are marked with the symbols of Law, Chaos, Good and Evil. The gate radiates a powerful aura of magic. It is said to open only once every one thousand and twenty-eight years.
(see the final conflict)
Valley of the Flies
Southwest of Yoku is a small valley, now sealed by a Yoku-induced landslide. The valley is said to be the home of a plague-carrying fly that in ancient times spread pestilence throughout the inner island. A strange shrine sits in the center of the valley, although no living islander has been there.
The temple is a teleport, currently turned off. Removing the staff is bad – activate the teleport and lets the bugs out.
Valley of Warriors
Northwest of Akka lies a valley lined with a thousand large statues of warriors, dressed in First Age armor with pikes and shields. The valley is said to be haunted and is not visited by the locals.
The statues were turned to stone by removing their soul – by the evil grandmaster. They await a chance to return to life and serve again.
Yoku is the westernmost of the sanningumi villages. The Yoku Keep is set in the side of a mountain, guarding the entrance to the precious Yoku Salt Mines. Miners by trade, the Yoku also produce the stone for the island, although it is said that the Yoku have delved too deep into the mines, unleashing an elder beast, yajuu, or the Tentacled One – the ink of which is used to explain the jet black eyes of the people. The Yoku are stoic, almost wooden, in their dealings with Outsiders and islanders alike.
The Yoku are possessed by the Tentacled One. He was “uncovered” in the salt mine – originally an acquatic god who got trapped when the ocean dried up around him.
If disturbed, then the yajuu will attack. If defeated, the Yoku, and their leader, Yuuta, will offer to help the party. They have been charmed, you see.
Moira – The Grand Finale
Naomi leaves before The Grand Finale.
Remaining parties from each side square off against the others + all allies that they have persuaded to join them in the fight.
There are two summoning orbs to bring in ancient dragons. Each of the temples has one staff which gives immunity to that type of damage (i.e., fire, etc.).
Servants of the holy ones will aid those who survive to the final battle. Other allies may be found along the way. Defeating the allies of your enemies is the same as defeating your enemies themselves. The party must destroy the other parties or face them in the final battle.
The battle is played on a square grid (see description of the Gate). Each side is placed on the grid, and characters are free to do what they will (without leaving the playing field).
- Battle of the Peoples of the Island – all the mundane soldiers will fight. The winner to move on. The party can equip or cast spells prior to the battle.
- Battle of the Guardians of the Island – all the monsters are added to the mix in this round.
- Battle of the Champions of the Island – all the remaining characters are added to the mix.
The winners will pass back through the Thousand Year Gate with their master. The Emperor will declare the closing of the Thousand Year Gate, and the adventure will end. NOTE: Baron Valdemar is in the Emperor’s Box. If the party doesn’t detect him earlier, he will be seen whispering to the Emperor as they teleport home.