PrinceCon 38 recap – Steve’s Scenario
PrinceCon XXXVIII Summary
The Cursed City of Xeraneum
Run 1: First Encounter with Xeraneum (Crankul, Erau, SallieAnn)
Members of The Hall of Heroes are given a mission by Sextus to determine what the last sane orders of the First Citizen were. They travel along a magical lost road powered by a slow song with a scholar named Coburnicus with the hopes of finding evidence of the party of twelve adventurers that left a year ago and were never seen again. The small search party arrives in the dark buried fabled city Xeraneum of and after a small snake attached to a severed Nymphidae’s head sound an alarm they do battle with the Ophions, a race of snakes that are able graft living body parts onto their sinuous forms. Although one combatant had multiple bird parts attached, their main adversaries had parts from the party sent a year ago seamlessly attached and fought with the skill of the original possessors of the limbs. SallieAnn talks to them with the aid of a Comprehend languages spell as they fight and find that the creatures refered to some one or something as ‘Mother’. When the fight was over, the Aru worshippers and the one Gaia worshipper took away the weapons from the unconscious snake people. Although they had only been in the cursed city for about fifteen minutes, they decided to return on the ‘road that was’ to the City of Clio. Before they left Coburnicus alone in the dark city, they gave him as many protections as they could give and made off for home with the small snake attached to the living head in a sack to show future adventurers from the Hall of Heroes what they had found.
Run #2: Return to Xeraneum (Crankul, Galen, Krag Maga, Mungo, Wilbur)
Without going to Sextus, one member from the small earlier mission, Crankul, to be exact, decides take another excursion to Xeraneum to discover more secrets, find Cobernicus and return the small snake attached to the Nim’s head. Once they arrive the new party chooses to follow the directions to an attuned penny given to Cobernicus and the smell of baking bread and arrive in the bakery district. They are ambushed by a group of Ophions but the party works well together and they quickly start destroying their assailants. Krag Maga goes to kill a small Ophion wizard who is trapped in a web. He discovers he has the arms and mouth of Luno Lunestro, the Hogbound sorcerer who disappeared a year ago grafted to him. The Ophion using the mouth attached to his neck begs with Krag Maga not to kill him and that he will tell him where ‘he’ is being kept. When the small Ophion blurts out he is in a wool dying vat in the market part of town, Krag kills the helpless creature. The party decides to hold up in the bakery while Galen does some scouting. Galen returns with information that the prisoner is exactly where he was told but is kept guarded. The party hatches a plan to rescue the prisoner with combination of stealth & magic. Crankul and Galen get close enough to see the gigantic snake with the single head and five bodies slithering back and forth. Crankul dimension doors into the giant vat and begins pulling the man into the next dimension door when he realizes this man is not Cobernicus! He knows the prisoner is alive and he can’t stop the plan now. On their way back to the bakery, both Galen and Crankul recognize the man as Ulysses (Yule) and was one of the members of the party of twelve that left for this place a year ago. He is not in ill health but is being kept asleep with a sleeping poison. They rendezvous with the rest of the group and make it to their exit from the city. On their way back on the road-that-was they discuss what they should do with the liberated prisoner and where they should revive him.
Run #2.5: Awakening the Prisoner (Crankul, Galen)
Although originally meant to be a small run by itself, time did not allow for anything more than an exchange of information.
Since Sextus sent them on the mission, Crankul felt it was very important to awaken Yule in his presence. Galen and Crankul go to the temple of Ronkel and interrupt Sextus in a religious ceremony. Upon seeing them he allows an acolyte to continue and he takes them into a private room with their sleeping witness. Crankul, who possessed knowledge of poisons, awakens the prisoner as Sextus takes a position behind Yule’s chair. Yule awakens and he is told he is safe and in the city of Clio. He explains he was tortured and taunted by the Beast of Lengend, Aderea! Even though she lacked eyes, she still seemed formidable and possessed a mind staggering intellect. Through a haze of pain, Yule mentioned she had been poisoning the Laurel tree that feeds information to First citizen though his golden laurel crown and had driven him mad. She knew the first citizen was finally dead because she was in contact with the murderer though silver scroll which allowed two way conversation. Galen immediately asked who the murderer was. Yule was just about to tell them and a surprising thing happened. In a spray of blood and gore, snakes burst forth from his body and face. Sextus, who already had his dagger out, joined in the fight but as aech snake was severed, it regenerated into two new snakes. Acolytes arrived with torches grabbed from the walls and discovered fire was the solution to keep the snakes from regenerating. When the fight was over, the body was not allowed to be disturbed as set forth in the laws of Ronkel. Sextus explained the ordinances of his church are to ‘Let the dead stay dead and not disturbed or revived for any reason. Crankul shared his information with the hall of heroes.
Run #3: Silver Scroll Quest (Holly Wood, Horvat, Jaysa WindWhisperer, Jonicus, Puddlebee Hogsworth)
This party’s mission was to recover the silver scroll and discover the murderer’s identity. They arrive in the city and after examining the vat that held Yule, they hear the tolling of a bell. First fearing they have been discovered, they realize the Ophions are being summoned to an amphitheater to witness something wonderful thanks to a series of comprehend languages spells and the murmuring of the crowds. They arrive to the perimeter of the amphitheater and see the monsterous five-bodied snake shedding its skin to cheers from the Ophion crowd cheering out to thye sanke they called the ‘Wearer of The Dead” When the crowd dispursed, four Ophidians with grafted with multiple bird parts carried the gigantic shed skin to the ‘Scroll Guardian’. The party stealthily follows and enters the mansion house when the four enemy creatures leave. The courtyard is littered with cast off snake skins. A light wind arrises and a voice beg them to leave. When they do not leave elemental storm energy fills each of the snake skins and when the constructs physically hit they realease thjeir lightning attack. The party defends themselves and talks with the disembodied voice but does not attacke the strange ‘storm skins’. They try to locate the creature animating the skins and search for the silver scroll when they notice some of the skins did not move away from the pool in the center of the courtyard. Just as the number of animated skins increase to fatal numbers, Jonicus pulls up a metal plate under the water and a jar bobs to the surface. Puddlebee opens the jar and all the skins fall limp. The air coalesces into a female form of an air nymph, specifally, Aderea’s sister. The party names her ‘Bella’. ‘Bella’ explains that Aderea used to be an earth nymph until a mortal’s sexual assault on her centuries ago forced her to become flesh without the hope of ever merging with the earth again and it is likely that she only works with the killer because it only helps her gain her revenge on every living mortal. ‘Bella’ hands the party the silver scroll that Aderea uses to communicate with the murderer of the First Citizen. ‘Bella’ explains that the only possibility of allowing her sister to attain her spirit form is to destroy her form of flesh with the hopes that her spirit is strong enough to survive. The party agrees to send more people from the Hall of Heroes to help Aderea return to her spirit form. They forge a message from Aderea with the hopes that the assassin will reveal his identity and then they sneak back to the road-that-was and return to the city of Clio. The following morning they receive a return message on the silver scroll identifying the killer as simply “-S”.
Run #4: The Beast of Legend (Brunhilda, Falken, Rasha, Razyz, Titus Agrippa Postumous, Uig Scolari)
The next party returns to Xeraneum to confront Aderea and release the Laurel Tree of the Republic from her control. They arrive in the Xeraneum and narrowly escape having the alarm sounded by the little Ophidian in the hanging Nim head. They kill it and wished they had read the past run reports warning them of the alarm system. Bella had told the earlier party that Aderea lives on the palace grounds. The party sneaks their way to the gates of the palace courtyard and Mindblast the monsterous Ophidian known as the ‘Wearer of the dead’ who is acting as guard. When they finally enter they are spotted and a battle ensues. They fight well together and finally defeat the four or five snake-like guards. When the battle is over, the wind picks up and ‘Bella’ arrives at the gate with the ‘Storm skins’. She asks to have the gate opened and the party is reluctant. She identifies herself as the one that the earlier group had named ‘Bella’ and that if the gate was not opened she would have to destroy it and that would be most unfortunate as the gate was crafted most beautifully. This wins over the Daglirae, Brunhilda. They let her in they prepare to enter the palace. They cross the palace and fight along the way with the minion snake beings of Aderea. They open the large doors and are almost blinded by the brightness of sunshine as they enter the Hanging Gardens of Xeraneum. Despite what their senses tell them they are actually inside a great dome built before the city was buried. Inside it shines with the light of the cloudless skies above them. There are fields of wheat, birds, rivers of water and lava and almost every kind of plant. On an elevated platform is the yellow leaved Laurel Tree of the republic strangled with vicious vines. Peppering the beautiful landcape are the hissing fdorms of the Ophidians and along the far wall is Aderea on a raised platform. She does not seem to be the ‘Beast of Legend’ described in the Epic of Deniya and Aderea, but a beautiful young Nymphidae with writhing snakes for hair. Her mouth is pursed in anger and her eyes are closed. There is an unmoving shadowy form next to her chair. Aderea seems prepared for an attack but when asked why she was aiding a mortal murderer, she explains that if she can aid in the instability of the Republic she would. In her sweet voice she xplained that her ultimate goal is to see that the land is purged of all the races of men so that nature may prevail again in all its wild beauty so that the child Gaia may smile. But first all mortals must die.
As if in response, Brunhilda, enlarged by Rasha, races forward with Rasha attached to her leg and Titus at her side. The rest of the garden erupts into combat. The charging combatants encounter a giant mirror in ther way but it only slows them down as they change direction to face Aderea. Titus, as a historian looks into her now open eyes and sees something he recognizes. Set into each of her empty eye sockets is set a crystal shard of the recently stolen Staff of Transformation. The legendary staff was the one used to transform Tremyrus’s crew into the first Hogbound. With her innate abilities and the power of the broken Staff of Transformation, Titus starts to feel himself slow as the stiffening stone begins to take over his flesh. While he can still move he grapples with Aderea while Rasha Mind Blasts her. She falls over limp in the arms of Titus the statue. The other fighters fight for quite some time but the party aided by ‘Bella’ and her ‘storm skins’ finally win the day. They behead the ‘Beast of Legend’.
Razyz, being a Gaia cleric, talks to the Laurel Tree of the Republic. He learns how to coax Aderea’s ivy from off and within the tree for it had laced iteself through the core of the tree. He restores the tree so that it can think again. The Golden Laurel crown can be used once again without driving the next First Citizen into madness.
They see now that form standing behind Aderea’s chair is that of Coburnicus, the man charged with delivery of the shards as payment for her aid in driving Arathorn insane. The scholar was the first victum of her returned powers.
With Titus resored to flesh, the party returns triuphantly to the Hall of Heroes knowing that they have confronted a legenary creature and defeated her. They are truly heroes and have restored the honor of the Hall.
Facts that may not have come out in game:
Aderea was an unaging former nymph constrained to physcical form by an act of sexual brutality. She sought help from the childlike form of Gaia to seek vengenace on the mortal world.
The Ophions are the cut hair of Aderea. Once they are cut they gain independent thought and though some show reverence for their mother, other are just as likely to hate her. Evil families can be quite dysfunctional. This is why all the Ophions were missing the last chunk of their tail. Their natural form never had that piece of tail.
Sextus was a collector of antiques and discovered one silver scroll. With it he was able to communicate with Aderea. This was how she was aware that the plan had succeded and that the First Citizen was dead. As payment for her part in the plan, she had demanded pieces of the Staff of Transformation. She knew that it would give her the ability to turn people into stone again if inserted them into her eye sockets. Sextus used a member of his congregation who worked in the Museum of Antiquities to deliver the shards. However, as her children may not actually listen to Aderea and they craved more body parts, Sextus needed some adventurers to keep his delivery boy alive until he could get to a place in the city whre he could locate the secret passage that would take him to Aderea directly. She of course needed to test her returned abilities and seeing that the Ophions were part of her and thgerefore immune to her gaze, she used Coburnicus.
Crankul brought the rescued prisoner to Sextus to awaken him. Sextus was honestly surprised to see Crankul alive. Sextus took them to the most quiet, well sound insulated room in the Temple of Ronkel. And when the prisoner, Yule, started to give out too much information, Sextus drew his dagger in preparation to kill the three people in the room. Thankfully Aderea had left a surprise in Yule. Anyone who would awaken him from the sleep poison would also awaken the Lemaen serpents within him.
Aderea was using a duplicate crown of ungilded leaves to ‘feel ‘the citizens of Clio. She knew what was happening in the empire just like a First Citizen. She removed the duplicate from her own brow when she started planting paranoia and insanity into the broadcast thoughts about 18 months ago.
I am not sure if the original destruction of Xeraneum in 79 FCR was a natural disaster or if the embittered Aderea, who used to be an earth Nymph, afterall , had a hand burying the city that Dinaya had at one point called home under tons of volcanic ash. What do you think?
I was disappointed that there were no Nymphidae or Hogbound in the last party. I thought it would have been great to have Aderea banter with another immortal. Also, any attempt to use her returned powers on any Hogbound, would have no effect whatsoever. Once transformed through the power of the Staff of Transformation one could not be affected again. The Hogbound were examples of the power of the staff.
This was my first attempt at being a Gamemaster in many many years. I had a wonderful time and I want to thank all of my players who made this a memorable experience. You showed me what incredibly creative people can truly do. Please feel free contact me via Facebook if you have any further questions regarding my scenario or anything regarding PrinceCon in general. Again, thank you.
Steven H Wolfson
The Road That Is.
When the crown of gilded Laurel leaves was placed upon First Citizen Scipio’s head at the coronation, he immediately felt thoughts hopes, desires and fears of his citizens. He had the forgotten road cleared and unburied to be walked upon normally. The Daglirae from the provinces of Gruumgard flocked to the city of Xeraneum to see the wonders of a bygone age. They expertly continued the sloppy excavation process and within fourteen years had the entire city explored but still covered. Xeraneum became the southern capital of the Republic again. The work force that built the massive stone bridge across the Strait of Grimaldi set them on the deep old foundations of the original ancient bridge. Some even called it the Bridge of Brunhilda, named after the celebrity who helped discover and liberate the city. The Nymphidae conclave found near Ga-ur set made a piligrimage to Xeraneum to worship what they called the ‘Sisters’. They paid tribute to the air spirit known to some as ‘Bella’ and over the next short fifty years their worship near the mouth of the extinct volcanoe brought about the manifestation of shy Aderea, the Spirit of Legend.