Verden: Beyond the Gate
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“Okay, so… Is everyone ready?”
“Yeah!” “Yes” “Mhm”
“Alright then,” Chris began to explain the campaign he put together, one of quests and villains and heroes. His players, his family, Tony, Gina, Nick, and Anthony, all sat at the long table listening curiously, for they had been kept in the dark as to the whole thing. Even their own characters were a mystery to them.
“This campaign is one I’d been planning for a long time, something I’ve always had in the works but never had the time or drive to put to paper,” Chris told them, looking at each in turn.
“Are we gonna play ourselves?” Nick piped up in awkward excitement, and Chris gave him a scornful look.
“Anyway, it is all my idea, though I did have some help.”
With this statement, he reached into his bag and retrieved an old, dusty-looking, leatherbound book. “This,” he held the book up for all to see, but as he continued his sentence about the book, his voice was drowned out, almost as if those listening were covering their ears. Chris set the book on the table and opened it, waving a hand in front of him to swat at the dust. As he did so, the players felt an odd sensation, each different. Before any of them could speak up about it, however, something more odd occurred.
The walls of the room they were in began to melt. The ceiling too, seemed to ooze down from above, dripping globs of a strange, gooey substance upon the table and all around them. The players looked to Chris, who was just as surprised and confused as they were. His mouth opened to speak, but no words came out.
It was at that moment, the old, dusty book shook wildly, its pages turning on their own as if a ghostly wind commanded them. Finally settling on a page, Chris leaned forward to see what was written there. The book then emitted a blinding flash of light, and the odd sensations, the melting room, all stopped, gave way to nothing but bright light….
The players opened their eyes slowly, feeling as if they’d been out cold for hours. This notion was immediately put on hold when they realized, each of them, that they were submerged in water. Trying not to panic, they all scrambled for the surface, breaking through to the air above, and gripped the water’s edge.
Once they’d finally caught their breath, the players looked around. The first thing they noticed was each other. Tony, Gina, Nick, Anthony… All of them were there, soaked with water and confused, but they could not see Chris anywhere. The second thing they noticed was that they weren’t at the game table any more. In fact, they weren’t anywhere they recognized.
They were in the middle of a street, but it wasn’t quite a street. It wasn’t paved, instead, it was made of innumerable stone blocks, set into the earth. Behind them was a fountain that poured off into a large basin of sorts and was apparently pretty deep. The fountain sat in the middle of a large open space surrounded on most sides by two-story buildings, the architecture of which was very old fashioned. People were all around, walking, sitting, but most of them were now staring at the newcomers who had just crawled out of the fountain. A few people murmured to themselves, others stood quietly, unsure of what to do. Someone ran down the street, dropping his carried basket in fright.
It went on like this for several minutes, as the players reoriented themselves, trying to figure out what to do, and as the onlookers looked on, until they started talking amongst themselves.
“Who do you think they are?”
“Where did they come from?”
“Look at their clothes…”
“WITCH!” Someone yelled, the voice almost echoing in the players’ heads.
“WITCH!” Other joined in, and soon, the whole square was chanting, “Witch, witch, witch…”
Before any of the players could say otherwise, there was a flash of light, a sound like a soda can opening, and a purple-black smoke erupted from the ground not ten feet from them. The crowd grew quiet, and out from the smoke stepped a beautiful, long-haired, busty woman who walked with confidence towards the newcomers. She was dressed in the most bizarre outfit; something like a tight black dress, with a slit down the side, exposing her leg. A soft, red over-dress draped down her curvy form. The most eye-catching thing, believe it or not, was her hat. It was straight out of a movie or a book. A witch’s hat. The wide brim was tattered in places, and from beneath it, her long blonde hair trailed down, curving with her form. Atop the hat, the point sat crooked, bent over and a skull of some unknown creature sat on the brim. The witch’s eyes glinted as she assessed the drenched group.
“You there,” she spoke, her voice, serene and haunting, carried with it a hint of power and wisdom, “From where have you come?”
The players responded to her questioning as best they ould, given the circumstances. They weren’t lying when they said they weren’t from around here, nor did they fully understand where “here” was. The witch seemed curious, if nothing else, and pondered the situation carefully before speaking again.
“Hmm. Very well.”
And with a wave of her hand, a strong gust of wind, seemingly from nowhere, blew over the players. When it subsided, they found themselves dry, clothing and all. Another second later, the sound of a soda opening and purple smoke signified the opening of a portal or gate near the players. The witch nodded toward it.
“Step through to my home. I will meet you there.”
And with that, she vanished in a similar display of theatrics as when she appeared.
The players, eying the growing mob of onlookers, quietly conversed. Should they go? Should they stay? They had no idea what to expect through the gateway, but surely it would be better than fending off an angry mob? Finally deciding, they took hold of each other and stepped through the portal.
After the awkward dizziness and disorientation of their first experience with inter-dimentional transport wore off, the players took survey of their new surroundings — finding that they weren’t where they might have expected to be. They appeared to be in some sort of underground complex… a dungeon , if there ever was one.
1 – Entrance
2 – High-Ledge Room (Anthony)
3 – Lever Room (All)
4 – Sealed Room – Exit
5 – Pillar-Parchment Room (?)
6 (bottom right corner) – Rat’s Nest (Nick)
Finally, it seemed the party’s time in the dungeon had come to an end. They had collected the four keys needed to open the one door they had previously been unable to and everyone was in good shape, despite scuffles with ROUSes. Beyond the heavily sealed door was just one room with no apparent exit. Instead, there was an iron box, filled with various supplies, perhaps? Upon further investigation, a sheet of parchment was revealed, scribbled upon which was their four names.
Gina was the first to take hold of it, and as she did so, her name on the paper began to glow, as if the ink was reacting to her touch. Soon after, the others took hold, and one by one, their names lit up as well, until finally all were grasping the odd note. Then, the world began to spin and swirl, until the entire room seemed to be swallowed up within the parchment.
It was at this point where each player underwent some sort of change. They were the same people as they had been upon entering this strange new world, but there was certainly something different about them. At first, they were not even aware of this fact, but as they each passed through their own trials, their own latent potential was revealed to them, with a little help from an unlikely friend. Each of them would have their own experience to share later, but all would know the importantance of the event, however surreal it may have been.
The bright light at the end of the tunnel left them all a bit dazed, but they came out of it all the stronger, more prepared for the hard times to come.
Our heroes found themselves in an oddly furnished living space. Strange jars and flasks and things were everywhere, on shelves and in cabinets and hanging from th ceiling. They at first could only guess as to whom it belonged, but it wasn’t long before they decided to simply call out and discover the truth. A crash resounded following their call, and a muffled voice swearing quietly. From one of the doorways, a head appeared, peeking through. The witch looked them over briefly then stepped into the room.
“Well, it’s about time…” She wonders what took them so long, and at first is puzzled, but after time and/or their explanation, she seems to better understand. She states that she was NOT responsible for their winding up in that dungeon. As she understood it, and she didn’t very well, someone or something must have diverted their destination, or… something.
At any rate, her curiousity was not sated. She introduces herself as Isova, a witch, and tries to get them to explain their situation. Only receiveing vague answers, at best, Isova still understands that they have come from some “oher place,” one where magic is known but unkown, where they dress strangely, and where they have wound up here without any knowledge of how or why, save for a dusty old book.
To ease their minds sloghtly, she explains they are in the City-State of Siseneg, though the once pleasant city has seen better days.
In recent months, there has been hard times for the people, a recession of sorts, and in this unstable environment, a greedy, evil man named Livek Rej gained control of the city’s positions of power. It seemed afterwards that he had been planning this for some time, having placed his lackies all throughout the political system unbeknownst to the rest of the population for the past few years.
She says she would like to help with their problem (as it interests her greatly), but she is very concerned about the situation in Siseneg, mentioning that she used to be an advisor to the ruling counsil, and since Rej took over, she has been trying to resolve the issue peaceably, with no luck. Doing so has helped maintain civility between the two, and given the populace some semblance of hope, but she knows the truth: that talks are getting them nowehere. She cannot hope to defeat him on her own in combat, as he has since gathered many supporters and followers, nor can she leave the city to seek aid, as there are wards to prevent teleportation and guards posted at every gate to regulate traffic. Livek Rej is wary of the witch, despite their civil relations, and rightfully so.
She admits it sounds radical, but she requests their help in putting down Livek Rej, offerring to help them get home afterwards. They could leave the city unnoticed, since Livek Rej and his lackies aren’t on the lookout for them and seek help or fetch supplies she could use to fight back. She offers two suggestions:
- Head to the hills to the East of the city – There is a small set of caves that she used to tend, perfect for the cultivation of a specific useful alchemical ingredient that she could use to help tip the scales in their favor, despite the opposition. Tarrowroot, as she described, looks like any old weed, but has a large root system colored purple at the base of the plant. “It’s a useful reagent in restorative brews, and I have found other uses for it as well. I cannot give awaay trade secrets, but it will help few stand against many.”
- Head to the refugee camp to the Southwest – The remaining city watch, militia, and civilians who managed to escape after the takeover reside there in secrecy. They have so far gone unnoticed by Livek Rej, or so it seems. If you can prove to them an honest effort to strike back, they may join your cause when the time comes.
She also says that, when they are ready, she will also help in the coming fight, but for now, she must maintain a careful balance of trust with Livek Rej, so he won’t suspect her.
She wishes them luck, offerring her home to them whenever they require a place to rest or recover.
The players, now immersed in local politics, take to a spare room to discuss their options and reflect on their own personal experiences thus far. In the end, they decide that in the morning, they will head East to the hills in search of the proposed Tarrowroot, hoping that by helping the strange, eccentric Isova, they will receive help in turn.
End of Prologue
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