Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unknown Vistas from the Forge (Part II)

Here are the two last names generated by The Forge for fantasy locations. I must be suffering some kind of burnout because it took me practically a week to think these places and I’m not satisfied yet with the result. I hope, however, that they can give better ideas to you. One day I’m gonna try to make an entire region entirely Forge-generated (yeah, it’s probably going to be a very bizarre place, perfect for Vornhein maybe). 

The River of Doors

This mythical river lies probably in some forgotten underworld, maybe below one of the most famous cities of the known world. The Ancients who discovered it (and whore doomed by it) called it the Limáni. In fact, if legends are true, the River’s boundaries are filled with the silent and sinister houses and ruins of the Ancients, which still live, locked in a cursed and dreamless sleep.

Where? Many scoundrels and rogue sell the map that will lead you to the River of Doors, most are (of course) forgeries which, if you’re luck, won’t lead you to an ambush by brigands, slavers or worst. All know myths, however, are unanimous in pointing out that the Limáni flows through a “gloomy and wintry country of sunless pillars and forgotten fanes”.  These lines lead most sages to agree that the Rivers of Doors exist either in the northern reaches or in the underground (although one insane sage claimed that the Limáni is actually contained completely within the miniaturized realm of Niz, the Giant of Shadows, and his moving abode).

Why search for such place? The River of Doors bears such name because it leads to any place desired by those able to reach it. Many believe that the River is a planar nexus or crossroads, accessing many dimensions, demiplanes, otherworlds and such; which is completely wrong. The River of Doors is actually a dweomer manifested in watery form – all those who drink from its water are instantly affected by a potent astral projection spell (without any chance to resist it). The drinker is sent either to the place he desires most (even another plane) or to random dimension (if he doesn’t have any location in mind). The drinker’s body falls in a cursed sleep instantly, but a new astral body is formed at the location. Differently from astral projection, there’s no silver cord. However, exactly because of this, if the drinker’s original body is moved (even if just a little), there’s a chance (usually 20%) that when he returns his spirit possess the wrong body.

The Pad Bart. The simple fact of drinking from the River of Doors is bad enough if the drinker isn’t aware of the dweomer. Once in his new astral body, the only way to come back is through a sphinx. For reasons unknown, only this mysterious race knows the right command word to cancel the dweomer’s effect – which gives credibility to the theory that the entire River is an epic-level spell.

To make things worse, the River of Doors is filled with ghouls, ghasts, lamias, vampire and dreadful things (undeads and outsiders are immune to the dweomer’s effects, so are constructs). Legends hint that at least one dhole was seen rising from its depths [use purple worm stats as base, but give it high mental scores, SR 25, telepathy and the ability to generate earthquakes].  

There are also the Body-Takers – usually necromancers or diabolists that use their minions to steal sleeping drinkers’ bodies (usually young, beautiful and vigorous one) and exchange their locations with the necromancer’s own body. After this, the necromancer’s spirit returns from his astral journey and possess the new body. Some Body-Takers steal various soulless bodies and sell it to rich merchants or decadent kings (or use them in terrible experiments). 

Finally, the River of Doors is the home of Lost – doomed drinkers who returned in alien or different bodies and where slowly (or instantly) driven mad. At least one adventurer’s log claims that the Lost obeys the whisperer of the Sleepless King, a local and fearsome entity (maybe the dhole).

Carrying the River’s water more than five steps beyond its boundaries dispel the eldritch proprieties.

The Ocean of Ghosts

This mysterious ocean is usually mentioned in old trade routes of eldritch empires long dead or destroyed by cataclysms – if the Ocean of Ghost has any relation to their demise it is unclear.

Where? That’s riddle; an especially bizarre one as most people find it absurd that an entire ocean can be hidden somewhere. No one knows where the Ocean of Ghosts is because it isn’t a real physical sea but actually a demiplane (or a portion of another plane, like the Ethereal or the Shadow). The Ocean of Ghosts is known to a few arcanists, sages, old sea captains and the rare demented sea-born buccaneer sorcerer. There’re basically two easy to reach the Ocean of Ghost, also called the Tides of Shadow, the Dead Sailor’s Rest or the Inverted Sea: through an ancient dweomer or artifact know as the Rime of the Ancient Mariner; or through a mystical ritual known as Sailing the Bones.
The dweomer or artifact is reputed to be in the possession of the Smiling Shadows, hooded twins and thief kings with the disturbing habit of finishing each other phrases. The Smiling Shadows are great enemies of the Church of Light and local lawful authorities, besides rewarding gladly any scoundrel brave enough to bring a deep one head to their hidden court.
The Sailing the Bones ritual requires that the party recover from the depths a sunken pirate ship and give its helm to a “dead man” (many believe this last requirement to be metaphorical or symbolical). If this is done within a month and before the next new moon, the recovered ship can sail to the Ocean of Ghosts (however, if the party fails there’re hints of a curse).

Why search for such place? Those who reach the nightly waters of the Ocean of Ghosts can sail to any place in the world touched by the seas. During the new moon (and only this time) the enchanted ship of the party can cross between the worlds; it can reach even places where a ship wouldn’t be able to navigate through (like lakes far above the ocean level, on condition that a river links the place with the seas). However, the true prize of the Ocean of Ghosts is that it is a loosed demiplane, floating freely between the dimensions, which enable clever sailors to reach other ages and times. Finally, it is whispered that the devilfish monarchs of the bloody depths can safeguard a sailor’s soul inside crystal shards of the sunken moon, in a way that the mortal can be raised from the dead if his body is brought back to the Ocean of Ghosts.

The Bad Part. The Ocean of Ghosts is a black turbulent sea ruled by exiled devilfish princes, kraken demigods and living leviathan islands. Its heaves are covered by perpetual storm clouds and the only source of natural light is a bloody sunken moon (yes, the light comes from an eternally far point below the weaves). The Ocean of Ghosts is also the home of undeads and phantom ships of all ages (and different worlds), besides being the prison of a nameless god of giants and shapechangers, exiled by some forgotten sin and called in ancient texts the Old Man of the Sea.