12 April 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 40 - Welcome to Sanctuary

This is the fortieth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Adventure Log – 040 Welcome to Sanctuary

Written By: Bogani Kreskas

Date:  03 Teayu - 22 Teayu, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

After a brief discussion, we decide to investigate the crashed airship (the one half-buried in the desert sands). Although the promise of riches is enticing, the threat of the brown espagra encourage us to take a long path around. Progress is limited at first, but we push on at a cautious pace. For five days we travel, searching for the site of the strange obelisk, but the Badlands confounds my senses. Uriel makes good use of the time, tying threads to our Pattern, making himself a greater spellcaster. What a useful fellow. At the site of the obelisk, we decide to go due west in an attempt to find the hills on our borrowed map.

Six days later, we reach a valley between two mountain ranges. The cliffs in our map must be very close now! In the mountains, we find a smooth, sheer cliff, with life-sized carvings of man-shaped figures. A peculiar landmark, to say the least. Elmod and I find holes that seem to fit us precisely... We feel drawn to the niches, as if they were made for us(1). I must... must see what is within! However, my armor does not easily come off, so I reconsider. Luckily, Honeysuckle checks on of the other niches and discovers some concerning things(2). The team suggests that we head south, and I reluctantly agree.

We head south, trying to find the river. There is more life to be found in the mountains, but the espagra clearly mark their territory, which makes them easier to avoid. At least we reach the river, which cuts through the mountain valley. We follow the river east, seeking the kaer at its terminus. The river is unhealthy, but alive, with strange creatures breaching the surface. After a few days, we find crops. Actual agriculture, with stuffed effigies to scare away espagra. At last we find the outskirts of a town(3). Ting instructs Wendel to remain out of sight while I scout out the area. I find a town square, a well, a statue... and many people of various Namegivers. We decide to approach.

As we stride into town, we are stopped by the town guard, who are rightly suspicious. Luckily, Uriel is a quite effective diplomat! After the Greeting Ritual, they introduce their town as "Sanctuary" and invite us into their community. We meet with their wise woman, a hooded figure by the well. She sounds young, though her face is hidden. They worship a combined version of Jaspree and Lochost they call "The White Lady". The name clearly means something to Elmod, but he says nothing(4). 80 years ago, kaer "Ular" was opened, and this community was founded. She gives us directions to the kaer, several days to the east. We offer to help them with any tasks that are beyond them. Elmod notes purity and the color white are prominent in their culture, which is odd, but not concerning. The statue is of a motherly woman, robed and hooded, with her arms outstretched and her head tilted back. The village itself is astrally clear, in start contrast to the corrupted Badlands around us(5).

The tavern keeper is very friendly, but laments he cannot accept coin. Instead, we offer a trade of services. Honeysuckle words in the forge, while the rest of us pitch in for our supper. At night, the villagers come to the tavern, where the men find they are quite popular. The food is bland, but filling, and the beer is fine. The company is excellent. We dance and sing and drink long into the night. It is nice to sleep in a real bed!

In the morning we have a filling breakfast and leave town, heading east to find their forgotten kaer. The wise woman warns use of the danger of the place. We are concerned about her implications of the "will" required to maintain this place, but we do not push the issue(6). Perhaps the kaer will make things more clear. We find a well-trod area, as well as a pair of runed pillars. They look new and are marked with runes dedicated to the Passions Jaspree and Lochost. Before us, the entry to a kaer stands open. The door swivels on a pivot, and lays open before us. It is dark within, so we light our way and enter.

The traps sit unsprung, unused, as if the Horrors have never tread here. I am reminded of stories of kaers that survived the Scourge completely untouched thanks to the special attention of a Passion. Perhaps Jaspree and Lochost indeed look after these people(7). We notice an immense amount of spiderwebs. Carved into the walls are arrows guiding the way down(8). Deeper and deeper we go, for hours. Trying to find the ancient shelter. The arrows lead us to another pivoting door. Propped open by iron spikes. The webs are thick here, so we begin our search for the beasts that made them.

Creepy, alien eyes set in groups of eight watch use from the shadows. They cluster up in groups, much unlike spiders I have seen in the past. Each creature is the size of Harka, though not nearly as cute(9). Ting charges into battle, thrusting us into a furious melee.

As we venture towards a marble gallery with softly glowing light, four creatures drop from the ceiling. Part spider and part man, they have an alabaster beauty that mitigates their terrible forms in no way. The monsters descend upon us in a flurry of claws, mandibles, and twisted ivory flesh(10). The ambush survived, we run from the kaer and return to Sanctuary.(11)

*     *     *
(1) Because none of this is incredibly creepy and it doesn't scream "A Horror did this!" at all. This isn't the first we have heard about carvings in a cliff in the Badlands, but it is some of the most detail. 
(2) What concerning things?!? Details! I swear they do things like this just to irritate me.
(3) This is new.
(4) These people really need to work on their sharing. This not saying anything isn't helping anyone. Especially not me.
(5) This is huge. Why haven't we heard anything at all about this before? Part of me says this is all a trap and something is horribly wrong with the village, but I really want it to be real.
(6) Push the damn issue! What does that mean?
(7) I have to be a skeptic, but part of me really wants to believe.
(8) Helpful or ominous?
(9) I hate spiders. At least they're not jehuthra.
(10) Worse than jehuthra.
(11) Received and edited by Ela Pono

In many ways, this session was something of a curve ball for the group by defying many of their expectations to date. It played with wants versus fears and generally increased the weirdness of the Badlands. The final battle was designed to be very difficult and possibly marks the first time Mismatched Steel has retreated. After it is resolved, I will post the stat blocks of what they fought.