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  • Breadcrumbs and Hurdles Leading to a Lost City?

    My players have unexpectedly taken it upon themselves to track down a lost city in the deep desert. I don't want them to quickly blunder into this city, so I'm trying to figure out how what sort of breadcrumbs I might scatter around as they explore further and further into the desert. I'm thinking of things like discovering an ancient statue boasting how some Solar Warlord triumphed of the armies of the lost city at the Battle of Somewhere, that might point them to a general area to look. On the other hand, there should probably also be some hurdles along the way. They might learn that some old oasis is on the caravan trail between a known city and the lost city, but that oasis has since been moved by a Sidereal.

    Any ideas and suggestions are appreciated.

    On a side note, there's a high chance the players will screw over their first potential clue giver later today before he can provide them with useful information to get them started (he will divine that they should search relatively nearby dragon king ruins and a bit more distant city in a shadowland for clues). So that'll be fun if they end up derailing that immediately.

  • #2
    I guess the remains of an aqueduct would be a pretty good place to start.


    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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    • #3
      Do you mean like, a trail of breadcrumbs so that they don’t find the city in one roll but it won’t take more than half a session, or a trail of breadcrumbs that’s like, there will be a couple of sessions before finding it?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
        or a trail of breadcrumbs that’s like, there will be a couple of sessions before finding it?
        This one. Other Lunars had been searching for it for a couple centuries without success, so I don't want the PCs to find it too quickly. They should have to uncover at least a handful of clues and get a couple lucky breaks over a few sessions before they and locate the city.

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        • #5
          Have you ever played Journey? The whole game is only about an hour or two, so the entire thing can be covered in one video. I'd say that provides some inspiration for some ruined infrastructure surrounding a half-buried city.


          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
          Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post
            This one. Other Lunars had been searching for it for a couple centuries without success, so I don't want the PCs to find it too quickly. They should have to uncover at least a handful of clues and get a couple lucky breaks over a few sessions before they and locate the city.
            Well to start off you're welcome to adapt any of these to fit.


            Past that here's another few ideas that link together.
            • There's an ancient buried library that is rumoured to contain highly detailed maps, unfortunately when they get there the map they need has been signed out by some lord and taken to his manor. Further exploration of the library, probably with bureaucracy checking their records, reveals the general location of this house.
            • Going to the house they find it's been repurposed by modern people living in the shadow of ancient splendour, talking to them reveals that they haven't seen any maps, but also they don't go down into the lower levels of the place because it's dangerous. Now filled with ghosts or something they find that the map they're looking for was burned to ashes long ago, but also either through talking to a ghost or a diary or something, an encoded copy was made and sent to the cousin of this lord
            • The cousin's place is somewhat nearby, although time has buried it, and they need to find some way to get into it, maybe local earth elementals can help. Once inside they find that it's almost entirely empty of living things, but the nature of above-ground construction, now buried, recently unearthed makes the whole thing unstable, and who knows what crazy things have been festering in there. They find the encoded map, however it's not a cypher, but rather a trail of instructions.
            • The first instruction is to start at the end of a trade road, which the players have to figure out its modern name, and then head due south until a madness takes them. This is because due south of that area is a warped place, damp with Wyld energy. Not a lot, but enough to make strange things appear, and make navigation difficult. Here the trail says to follow the sun, amazingly, going east in the morning and west in the afternoon leads them out of this area.
            • Then they must continue south, further into the desert, now they're looking for a rocky outcropping that signals the start of a massive canyon valley. The instruction is very specific that they must move through this valley and exit the other end through the canyon passage known as the "wise sister" to the local people. The local people don't remember which canyon they called the wise sister, but the god of the canyon may. His temple is deep in the canyon wall, but lately he's been furious for seemingly no reason, visiting ruin on the people. Fighting their way through the dangerous area to the temple, they discover that the god is upset that the river has dried up, and thus he no longer gets to be with the river god who he loves.
            • The river dried up because a group of jadeborn who live under the area opened a hole beneath the river. The PCs have to crawl through the dark underways and convince them to patch it back up.
            • Once that's done the god reveals to them which canyon leads out to where they want, and from there the instruction is that they must go straight, straight as an arrow, from the mouth of than canyon to find the back route to the city. Along the way they may encounter something else in the deep desert, or even just battling through the elements themselves.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              • Then they must continue south, further into the desert, now they're looking for a rocky outcropping that signals the start of a massive canyon valley. The instruction is very specific that they must move through this valley and exit the other end through the canyon passage known as the "wise sister" to the local people. The local people don't remember which canyon they called the wise sister, but the god of the canyon may. His temple is deep in the canyon wall, but lately he's been furious for seemingly no reason, visiting ruin on the people. Fighting their way through the dangerous area to the temple, they discover that the god is upset that the river has dried up, and thus he no longer gets to be with the river god who he loves.
              • The river dried up because a group of jadeborn who live under the area opened a hole beneath the river. The PCs have to crawl through the dark underways and convince them to patch it back up.
              Dr, did you cite Jadeborn for some particular reason, or could any subterranean supernatural race like, say, elfin people with skin of basalt and hair of limestone, for example, do in a pinch? Have been in a "make localized expies of jadeborn/elves/dwarves/rock people/etc with elementals" mood of late.

              One little thing that crossed my mind in passing while reading this, is the image of a major road that is actually the dry bed of a river that only once a year or even once a decade springs back to life, rushing over anything that might be occupying its old path. River/road god with the form of a gigantic serpent optional.

              Hmmm, wait. The road/river could be the path made by a behemoth or old elemental guardian, in periods alternating cycles of wakefulness and rest between its patroling of the old kingdom's borders.
              Last edited by Baaldam; 08-16-2020, 06:01 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
                Dr, did you cite Jadeborn for some particular reason, or could any subterranean supernatural race like, say, elfin people with skin of basalt and hair of limestone, for example, do in a pinch? Have been in a "make localized expies of jadeborn/elves/dwarves/rock people/etc with elementals" mood of late.
                Oh yeah it could be anything.

                Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
                One little thing that crossed my mind in passing while reading this, is the image of a major road that is actually the dry bed of a river that only once a year or even once a decade springs back to life, rushing over anything that might be occupying its old path. River/road god with the form of a gigantic serpent optional..
                Ooh, how about this? The history everyone reads seems to imply that it's a trade route, so everyone assumes it must be a caravan road in the dry desert. In fact, 1500 years ago it was a massive river that facilitated trade with huge river barges, but the dragon lines shifted and the elementals left.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                  Oh yeah it could be anything.
                  The blurb in 3e corebook reintroducing elementals as of multiple origins and in some cases possibly older than the gods themselves has inspired me to use them in the role of "Primordial but not exactly pro-Yozi/Neverborn" races or "strange kind of inhuman people from foreign lands" one might find in ancient or medieval travel chronicles, with some "fantasy (D&D) monster races" mixed in.

                  Get a suitably peculiar elemental demesne or group of them, give it inhabitants with an alien culture of their own, some lore & treasures for other people to covet or trade for and you're set to go. The "basalt elves" i suggested in the previous post was pretty much an ad hoc riff on Jadeborn & Drow both.


                  Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                  Ooh, how about this? The history everyone reads seems to imply that it's a trade route, so everyone assumes it must be a caravan road in the dry desert. In fact, 1500 years ago it was a massive river that facilitated trade with huge river barges, but the dragon lines shifted and the elementals left.
                  Definitely. Or maybe they dug themselves holes in the riverbed to hibernate, becoming wells. Lots of ways one could expand and spin those bits.

                  Also just imagined some weird bat-like things, that are skilled in using their extended forelimbs as both wings to fly, shovels to move & shape earth and/or flippers to swim and thrust themselves through water. Bonus in songs used to ecolocation both in and outside of water or for social and magical attacks.
                  Last edited by Baaldam; 10-11-2020, 12:54 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post
                    My players have unexpectedly taken it upon themselves to track down a lost city in the deep desert. I don't want them to quickly blunder into this city, so I'm trying to figure out how what sort of breadcrumbs I might scatter around as they explore further and further into the desert. I'm thinking of things like discovering an ancient statue boasting how some Solar Warlord triumphed of the armies of the lost city at the Battle of Somewhere, that might point them to a general area to look. On the other hand, there should probably also be some hurdles along the way. They might learn that some old oasis is on the caravan trail between a known city and the lost city, but that oasis has since been moved by a Sidereal.

                    Any ideas and suggestions are appreciated.

                    On a side note, there's a high chance the players will screw over their first potential clue giver later today before he can provide them with useful information to get them started (he will divine that they should search relatively nearby dragon king ruins and a bit more distant city in a shadowland for clues). So that'll be fun if they end up derailing that immediately.

                    So, how did that first part of the story actually go anyway? What kind of nonsense did the Circle do?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Baaldam View Post


                      So, how did that first part of the story actually go anyway? What kind of nonsense did the Circle do?

                      They were tempted to screw over their informant but ultimately helped him out instead. He had tasked them with tampering with the watches of 5 prominent Varangians within a narrow window (about 6 hours) so that he could nudge a certain birth into a caste he wanted. In exchange, he would provide them with the supplies they needed for their expedition through the desert - and unbeknownst to them, some additional info on how to proceed, since they set out on this mission without a real plan.

                      The characters are, for the most part, sneaky Lunars, and I wanted to set up a heist for them. I think I might have made the scenario a bit too involved for them though since they seemed to get frustrated with trying to gain access to all five watches, Ultimately they bypassed a lot of that work. While getting doing some sacred hunts to gain access to the watches, one of the characters managed to steal the form of the physician's apprentice, along with the notes on the expectant mother's condition and treatment. This gave them the information they need for their own Twilight physician to craft medicine that would safely counteract what she was currently on and induce labor. I gave their informant a version of the 2e Lunar charm that allows shapeshift other people so the Twilight could go undercover as a Varangian. Meanwhile, their Changing Moon smuggler had managed to get the physician's form, by being catastrophically extra (pretty typical for her). She feigned a damsel-in-distress situation to get the household servants to let her in, then snuck around to the manor until she found the physician's quarters and seduced him to gain his form. Together, the Changing-Moon-as-the-Physician, the Casteless-as-the-Apprentice, and the Twilight-as-random-servant, managed to sway the mother against the physician and have him dismissed from her service. The apprentice took over her care with the servant's assistance.

                      Meanwhile, their Full Moon was hanging out in the city's Elephant Stables. His intended job was get the watch from the astrologer that would be compiling the child's birth chart. The astrologer was known to be a fan of a particular genre of cheap novellas popular in the city. The hero of these stories is an unusually adventurous Varangian bringing order to exotic and often barbaric locales. Coincidentally, the Full Moon fit this description - he's a wandering Varangian bounty hunter. So he was supposed to use that win over the astrologer and gain access to her watch. Unfortunately, he kind of misunderstood the situation and assumed the novels were some sort of paranormal romance, rather than adventure novels. So he tried to seduce her as an elephant and outed himself as a Lunar. If he hadn't gotten very lucky on his rolls things could have gone very badly for him there.

                      Finally, their No Moon gambling sorcerer was supposed to meet up with the expectant father who was attending a religious festival in honor of Plentimon that evening. He was supposed to win the father's watch, tamper with it, then "lose" it again. Unfortunately, by the time the session swung around to that, the other characters already had by-passed the need for the watches, so the No Moon didn't get to do much.

                      We haven't had another session since that one though. Half of us started working our normal schedules again and that has made getting everyone together at the same time difficult.

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                      • #12
                        Try using Moon Runes. It's a great way to solve the dilemma of having a lead but not having found a place. Such examples are:
                        • Under the light of the Full Moon
                          • During a specific month
                        • Requires the being held by a Solar Zenith
                          • or by a person born under an eclipse
                          • Or no man of woman born
                        • Can only be seen through the Lens of Truth
                          • Which is Broken, and requires fixing
                        • new letters form when blood is spilled on it
                          • Specifically blood from a Pregnant Woman.
                          • or Coffee, Wine, Heroin
                        • Must be standing in a specific place
                          • Said place is referencing a nickname or in-joke lost to time
                          • its a play on words or uses perspective/Fae rules
                        • There are actually multiple maps which are each deliberate fakes.
                          • assembling all of them reveals discrepancies which are the real map
                        • Can only be used by a person who doesn't want to use it
                        • Must be brought under sea water
                          • Or in a Shadowland
                            • or both
                        I think you get the idea. An example I did was having a journal and a map, with clues hidden in the journal as mundane notes. A captain always drank out of one specific bottle (page 23) and he fought with his right hand but drank with his left (p 98) so if you put the bottle on the left of the map the light shining through it will reveal a secret message. A love latter musing about a memory when Rose of Desert Sands spilled her kafe on Jial-shi's nice furniture can become a clue that pouring coffee on the one of a kind, ancient irreplaceable map to unfathomable treasure is the trick that will reveal a hidden passage or feature.

                        On the other note, try something that requires legwork and is one of those "how could we have known that/ obvious in hindsight" clues. For example: "Stand on the moon below the mountain" is a literal clue, that you have to stand on the roof of The Moon tea house and face South, towards the governor's mansion ("the Mountain"), which would have been an obvious clue to the authors friends, 800 years ago. Have fun figuring that out.


                        Please be warned: this is not champagne, this is most likely a duck.
                        -Chausse

                        Message me for Japanese translations.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post


                          They were tempted to screw over their informant but ultimately helped him out instead. He had tasked them with tampering with the watches of 5 prominent Varangians within a narrow window (about 6 hours) so that he could nudge a certain birth into a caste he wanted. In exchange, he would provide them with the supplies they needed for their expedition through the desert - and unbeknownst to them, some additional info on how to proceed, since they set out on this mission without a real plan.

                          The characters are, for the most part, sneaky Lunars, and I wanted to set up a heist for them. I think I might have made the scenario a bit too involved for them though since they seemed to get frustrated with trying to gain access to all five watches, Ultimately they bypassed a lot of that work. While getting doing some sacred hunts to gain access to the watches, one of the characters managed to steal the form of the physician's apprentice, along with the notes on the expectant mother's condition and treatment. This gave them the information they need for their own Twilight physician to craft medicine that would safely counteract what she was currently on and induce labor. I gave their informant a version of the 2e Lunar charm that allows shapeshift other people so the Twilight could go undercover as a Varangian. Meanwhile, their Changing Moon smuggler had managed to get the physician's form, by being catastrophically extra (pretty typical for her). She feigned a damsel-in-distress situation to get the household servants to let her in, then snuck around to the manor until she found the physician's quarters and seduced him to gain his form. Together, the Changing-Moon-as-the-Physician, the Casteless-as-the-Apprentice, and the Twilight-as-random-servant, managed to sway the mother against the physician and have him dismissed from her service. The apprentice took over her care with the servant's assistance.
                          Good show of stealth, coordination and spur-of-moment ingenuity on the part of the trio.

                          Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post
                          Meanwhile, their Full Moon was hanging out in the city's Elephant Stables. His intended job was get the watch from the astrologer that would be compiling the child's birth chart. The astrologer was known to be a fan of a particular genre of cheap novellas popular in the city. The hero of these stories is an unusually adventurous Varangian bringing order to exotic and often barbaric locales. Coincidentally, the Full Moon fit this description - he's a wandering Varangian bounty hunter. So he was supposed to use that win over the astrologer and gain access to her watch. Unfortunately, he kind of misunderstood the situation and assumed the novels were some sort of paranormal romance, rather than adventure novels. So he tried to seduce her as an elephant and outed himself as a Lunar. If he hadn't gotten very lucky on his rolls things could have gone very badly for him there.
                          Curse your Full Moon for making me think of cheapo paranormal romance novels in Creation! In the South to boot! Fivefold curses upon him, i say!

                          Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post
                          Finally, their No Moon gambling sorcerer was supposed to meet up with the expectant father who was attending a religious festival in honor of Plentimon that evening. He was supposed to win the father's watch, tamper with it, then "lose" it again. Unfortunately, by the time the session swung around to that, the other characters already had by-passed the need for the watches, so the No Moon didn't get to do much.
                          Life happens. There's a plan, then halfway through it someone comes up with a different one and things get pear-shaped. I might have thought of throwing some impromptu hook unrelated to the main plot to distract the No Moon so the trip wasn't a total miss, but small hiccups are part of the game sometimes.

                          Any way, having some quick one scene vignettes for types of locale/situation (urban, forest, open field battle, desert, subterranean tunnels, ship, siege, airboat, etc), to help fill a spot where the story derails and you as ST to improvise a bit can be quite helpful.

                          I once did a weird routine of sorts for a shapechanging blood ape lieutenant some of my solar PCs (the Zenith specially) didn't quite trust and their stealthy tracking of his peculiar wanderings and habits would result in much distraction and even produce more than one subplot for the game.

                          (The blood ape's secret agenda was actually quite mundane, sinister in only the loosest of terms and attended to in a most idiosyncratically circuitous manner, but that's another story...)

                          Originally posted by Reminiscent Oasis View Post
                          We haven't had another session since that one though. Half of us started working our normal schedules again and that has made getting everyone together at the same time difficult.
                          That's a shame indeed. Wish you luck with recoordinating schedules in the future.
                          Last edited by Baaldam; 10-13-2020, 12:28 PM.

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