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The Head of the Ghavor (Hex 18.16)
Contribution to the Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting
The River Ghavor is sourced among a ring of volcanoes occupying the southern portion of the area. It flows from a lake fed by geothermal springs and mountain snowmelt. A colony of lizardfolk has settled there, and have driven off other humanoids for miles around. No one is certain why they have arrived here, or even how they arrived upon the island, many leagues from their favored marshy territories. However, they have mined obsidian from the volcano's slope, forming and erecting stele throughout the forest for mysterious rituals. North of the volcanoes lies a lush evergreen forest, mostly uninhabited, but rife with tempting game,and a few odd predators. As long as one's incursions are brief, and does not raise the lizardfolk's notice, a fat hart or boar may be taken without raising their ire. More intrusive exploration must be undertaken with great caution...
The northern portion of the hex is forested with primeval evergreens, typically monkey-puzzle trees and similar. Since the lizardfolk have pushed out former inhabitants, and patrol the area, game is relatively abundant. A few odd, almost alien, organisms are found here, as well as installations put in place by the lizardfolk.
Points of Interest:
1. Methuselah Tree:
Centuries older than the remainder of the forest, it towers over the area, allowing surveying of the northern half of the hex for anyone brave enough to climb its gnarled, spiny trunk (and deal with the giant wasps (1d3) that live there). However, sap from the tree is a potent curative (cure 1d8+1 dmg and cure disease, up to 4 doses available/day).
2. Obsidian Stele:
Explorers in the area will be greeted by loose rows of obsidian sculpted into mysterious, helmeted figures and odd, twisted stele with indecipherable cuneiform. The figures have not been carved, but expertly shaped (Stone Shape equivalent) by the lizard shaman (below) as tribute to their ancestry and for a secondary purpose. Each weighs 400 to 500 pounds. Astute observers will find the figures to be arranged in a 'Y' shape with the east and west arms of the Y pointing at the position of the star Akbal during spring and autumn equinox. Upon the equinoxes, the shaman goes into a trance at the junction of the Y. The stele act as an amplifying antenna, which the shaman uses for far-seeing to communicate with fellow lizard shamen scattered across the globe for sharing information and to make their ineffable plans. During the communication, the stele shimmer and pulse, and anyone foolish or curious enough to touch one will receive 2d6 shock damage + save or 1d4 CON loss (permanent) due to the etheric energies pulsing through the 'network'. Even one sculpture would exceptionally valued by collectors or sages, but if any were to be moved or disturbed, it would immediately be detected by the lizardfolk, instigating a fierce and terminal pursuit.
Creatures of note:
Tree Octopus: The lizardfolk have brought with them an invasive species, the Tree Octopus, which is considered a delicacy by the tribe(1HD, AC 8/12, 1d2, timid and retiring, camouflage hides on 5 in 6). Although the climate is much less humid than the lizardfolk's native marshlands, the octopus have adapted to the somewhat humid microclimate afforded by the lake and surrounding geothermal activity. Lurking in the canopy, the arboreal cephalopods subsist on small rodents and reptiles, and by raiding bird nests for eggs and chicks.
3. Filamentous Feeders: Several of these immobile creatures are scattered throughout the forest. They appear as giant fern-like evergreens, however; they are actually arboreal 'filter feeders,' snaring birds, small mammals, tree octopus, and occasional larger prey. The branches are coated with a sticky enzyme that both captures prey, and begins to digest it as it is passed to one of several mouth orifices on the 'trunk' of the creature. Multiple glowing blue eyes on 'branches' and attached to low-hanging tendrils watch for potential prey and act as lures. (HD6, AC7/13, Move 0, Dmg: entangles on successful to-hit,1d4/round enzyme +1d8 bite if pulled to mouth, minimum strength 9 to break entanglement – roll-under Str at +2 penalty, surprise on 5 in 6)
Shadows: In the forest surrounding the stele haunt 1-4 shadows. The shadows have been ripped from their native plane by use of the stele during the lizardfolk's biannual communications. These incorporeal beings are not undead, but instead consist of alien energies. They loiter near the stele, awaiting its next use. Each use of the stele allows 1d4 to return to their home plane; however, an additional 1d4 are drawn forth.
4. Lizardfolk Colony (U'essril):
A colony of lizardfolk (90 individuals: 50 males, 26 females, 14 juveniles) has settled near the outlet of the lake. The colony's name, U'essril, means 'Searching' in their language. Well outside of their normal environs, the 'Stonetalkers' keep to themselves, taking advantage of the warm lake waters and the bounty of the forests to the north. They show disdain, if not outright hostility, to the 'chattering monkeys' who have colonized the remainder of the island, and with the exception of intermittent trade with other humanoids, keep to themselves. While they may tolerate hunting parties into the area, any more intrusive incursions will be resisted.
The colony is comprised of mud and wattle huts and burrows. Closer inspection will find the apparent 'wattle' huts to be mere facades, with the structures lined with closely hewn or formed, interlocking stone of precise workmanship. The village is seasonally inundated as flood waters from snowmelt cascading into the lake push the lake and river past their banks. The lizardfolk call this the 'cleansing time' and relish the muddy inundation. The warriors will be typically armed with obsidian-bladed spears and macuahuitl (as morningstar, 1d8). Although the blades appear to be mere knapped stone, they have been magically hardened to steel-like resilience, while still maintaining the exquisitely keen edge of glass (+1 damage).
The colony is led by the shaman Shy'ald'aes (8th level cleric/druid equivalent), who brought his kin here several years ago from unknown lands. Based on certain augeries, he is convinced that evidence of ancestral lizardfolk may be found in or around the island's volcanoes, prior to the race's more recent descent into the swamps. He lost face among his peers due to this theory, and regaining a relic would allow him to return triumphantly, perhaps even staging a coup among the leadership. Likewise, his village is split between ardent followers (70%), and those who have begun to doubt his leadership and vision (30%). The shaman is armed with a trident (+2/lightning 3/day (5d6 damage)).
People/beings of note:
Three lieutenants share leadership duties with Shy'ald'aes and lead patrols and explorations in the area. These are Scale-walkers, who speak one or more humanoid languages and will (begrudgingly) interact with outsiders. They are not welcoming in the least, and brusquely turn explorers or hunters away. If their particular flavor of negotiating fails, they are willing to defend their territorial claims.
It'as'es: 6th level fighter (cloak of protection +2, macuahuitl +1 /+3 vs humanoids) is Shy'ald'aes' oldest friend and closest confidante. She is tasked with exploring the region for evidence of the ancestors and as such, will often be out on the volcano slopes, entering caves or directing her underlings in scratchings and diggings.
T'queash and T'quaem: 5th level cleric/druid (Spear+2 / snake charm, sticks to snakes 1/day) and fighter (shield +1, Sling +2), respectively, are siblings, and lieutenants to the two higher-ranking individuals. T'queash has begun to question Shy'ald'aes' mission and wisdom. She is homesick for the native marshlands, and hopes to gain support for abandoning this foolish quest and settlement in this inhospitable land. T'quaem is an unimaginative leader, happy to be hunting in the forests, and chasing off interlopers. He and T'queash strongly disagree on their leader's vision, and he is conflicted on his loyalty to his leader and his egg-sister. He quietly hopes that he will not be forced to choose.
Additionally there are six acolytes (3rd level fighter (60%) or cleric/druid equivalent (40%)) in the tribe.
Mt Ghavor and Head of the Ghavor:
Points of Interest:
5. Mt. Ghavor is believed to be a dormant volcano. Although it has not erupted in historical memory, its slopes are almost always snow-free, except in deepest winter.
6:.The River Ghavor springs to life dramatically from the slopes of the eponymous volcano. A huge geyser (7) gushes forth with superheated water. The geyser, among other springs, feeds into a lake, and is surrounded by smaller geysers, steam vents and mudpots. In colder weather, or during inversions, the lake basin is filled with fog and mist. The north side of the lake is bounded by a wall of obsidian (8). The river flows westward from the lake.
The area is surrounded by overgrown lava flows and extinct cinder cones (9).
Creatures of Note:
The warm lake is home to several species of amphibian, most benign, a few malicious or hazardous:
Rage Salamander (1-2): An extremely territorial flame-red salamander that charges forward, jaws drooling hallucinatory poisons (1+1 HD, AC 7/13, Bite 1d4 damage + save vs poison or suffer acute hallucinations for 1d4 turns (1-4 - Attack nearest PC or NPC, 5 - Abject terrors, 6 – Catatonic).
Thunder-Frog (1-4): These large frogs (1 HD, AC 7/13) puff up to three times their normal size to issue forth a bellowing croak. To another Thunder-Frog this says, "I am sexy," but to other creatures, these vocalizations can deafen and stun for 1d4+1 rounds any caught within a 15' cone in front of the frog. Multiple frogs croaking in concert will multiply the stun effect for 1.5 x the rolled duration per frog, plus cause 1-2 HP damage per frog within the 15' cone. If a frog is injured while puffing, there is a 50% chance it will explode for 1d6 damage in a 5' radius.
Paralyzing Periwinkle: Besides the amphibians, a poisonous freshwater periwinkle snail lives in and near the lake outlet. This nondescript lemon-sized snail has a heavy shell and clusters among the rocks near the lake outlet, requiring significant caution when crossing the river, in the event that one steps on a snail and its stinger pierces a foot. (AC 3/16, 1 HP, Atk 1 pt + save or complete paralysis in 1d6 turns, death in 1d6 hours; Move 1) The lizardfolk use them for their rituals (They have a racial immunity to the effects of the poison, and use the venom as hallucinogen).
Points of Interest:
10: Hrada Peak and a second, unnamed peak, south of the lake, dominate the topography of the southern portion of the area. Hrada is an extinct volcano, riddled with lava tubes, some dead-ended, some interconnected within the heart of the volcano. Many of the lava tubes have been explored by the lizardfolk in search of evidence of lost cities and artifacts that may provide the information and means to bring uplift and renaissance to their race. Explorers to the tubes will have a chance of encountering one or more lizardfolk exploration parties (5th-6th lvl leader with 4-6 companions). Hidden deep within one of the tunnels, among other artifacts of inexplicable purposes, is The S'thter: A tome of pictographs and cuneiform etched on wire-bound sheets of mica predating the Age of Man. It contains a history of the lizardfolk's 'lost' city, allegedly located in the Desert of Glass. The book documents the history and advances of the race prior to the coming of the humanoids and the race's subsequent downfall. If deciphered, the book may include information on advanced 'magics' known to the ancestral lizardfolk. The book hints of the manipulation of volcanoes and fire-weapons capable of leveling cities and vitrifying the land. Although they have not yet found this relic, if the S'thter is located by explorers, the lizardfolk will attempt to recover it be any means necessary. Although they have not yet found this relic, if it is located by explorers, the lizardfolk will attempt to recover it be any means necessary.
Creatures of Note:
11. Caves near the summit are home to a family nest of Blue-laced Wyverns, recognized by their lustrous iron-black scales with iridescent blue edging (valued for both their resilience and decorative qualities by certain armor-makers). The family is territorial, and one or more adults are typically patrolling or hunting in the vicinity. Adult (4): HD 6; AC 3/16; Atk 1 bite (2d8) or 1 sting (1d6+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24). Juvenile (2): HD 2; AC 4/15: Atk 1 bite (1d8) or 1 sting (1d4+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24) (6 total, 3 will always be present).
Whispers you may have heard about the area:
1) Cutting down the largest tree in the forest will release a grateful imprisoned god (F, and kind of a dick move – V.A.)
2) Stone statues in the forest walk during the full moon (F)
3) The lizardfolk seek ancient secrets and magics (T)
4) Wyvern eggs, when eaten, are proof against all poisons (F)
5) Caves riddle Hrada Peak, and have been barely explored (T)
6) A wall of black glass borders the Ghavor headwaters (T)
7) The river flows from a steaming valley (T)
8) The lizardfolk practice rituals during the equinoxes to speak with their god (partial T)
9) Use caution wading in the Ghavor, the water will turn you to stone! (partial T)
10) Excretions from the red salamanders will give a pleasant buzz (F)
11) The lizardfolk climb Hrada Peak to worship the wyvern (F)
12) The caves of Hrada Peak were formed by huge worms, a few of which still burrow through the mountain (F)
13) Beware the forest, the trees will eat you! (T)
14) Ghosts walk the forest (partial T)
Wandering critters, forest:
1. Giant wasp
2-4. Boars/wild hogs (3-6)
5-9: Deer/elk (2-12)
10. Tree Octopus (1-4)
11-12. Black bear
13. Mountain lion
14. Giant snake (Constrictor – 3HD, AC 6/13, 1d4 + constrict (1d4/round))
15. Fierce feral chickens (4-8) (Ruins surprise chances next turn, but you might find eggs...)
16. Lizardfolk hunting party (4-8, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
17. A very confused, sun-burnt yeti.
19-20. Odd noises, probably just the wind...
Wandering critters, in and around the lake:
1-4. Lizardfolk hunting party or patrol, or perhaps just swimming and cavorting in the warm water (3-6, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
5. Rage Salamander (1-2)
6. Thunder-Frog (1-4)
7-8. Very large carp or other fish surfaces/jumps in the lake
9. Giant axolotl (2HD, AC 8/12, Bite 1d4, attacks only in defense)
10-11. Patch of poison periwinkles (2-12) in shallow water
12-13. Nesting pair of large Steamer Ducks (1HD, AC 8/12, Bludgeon(x2) 1d4, Move 3 (Fly 12), very territorial)
14. Black bear
15. Fishing eagle
16-20. Nearby geyser or steam vent erupts. PCs in range receive 1d6 scalding damage.
Wandering critters, mountain:
1. Giant eagle
2. Mountain goats (Will tend to flee, although rams will be territorial (¼ chance))
3-4. Snow snake (2HD, AC 6/13, 1d4+cryo-poison (save or 1d8 cold damage), white fur camouflage, surprise 5 in 6 if in snow)
6. Grizzly bear
7-8. Wolf, single or pack (4-8)
9. Ravens (2-6) (If party camped, 20% chance of stealing food or random shiny thing)
10. Snow leopard
11-12. Wyvern (75% adult, 25% juvenile)
13-14. Marmot (1-4) (Chatters at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 3rd-5th lvl leader)
16. AVALANCHE!!! (dodge or 4d8 damage to anyone caught in path)
17-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?
Wandering critters, lava tubes (see below):
1. Spider, giant spitting
2. Albino cave squirrels (4-12) (½ HD, AC 7/13, atk bite 1d2, tend to flee, Chatter at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
3. Bat swarm
4. Mouse Swordsmen (4-6) pursuing a giant weasel
5. Cave Fisher (one only)
6. Small earth elemental (2-4HD)
7-8. Cave Cricket
9-10. Fire beetles (1d6)
11-12. Rockfall (1d6 dmg)
13-14. Pocket of asphyxiating gas (save or 1d8 dmg/round of exposure)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 5th-6th lvl leader)
16. Cave Fairies (2-5, HD1+1, AC7/13, Fly 6, atk tiny dagger 1d3, 2nd lvl thief abilities, 1 random 1st lvl illusionist spell 1/day, flit about teasing explorers, annoying, try to steal stuff)
17. Giant weasel fleeing Mouse Swordsmen, carrying one of their deceased number in its mouth.
18-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?
Lava Tubes of Hrada Peak:
Hrada Peak (05,09) is riddled with lava tubes. Although many possible entrances are marked on the hex map, there is the opportunity for additional entrances to be found, or become exposed by events such as earthquakes collapsing tunnel roofs, or fires removing obscuring undergrowth. The majority of these lava tubes are blocked by cave-ins, filled with cooled lava, or otherwise impassable. A few tubes are intact, and connect to ancient lava chambers at the heart of the silent volcano.
Upon entering any tube:
80% will be dead-ended. (1-2: <100 yds, 3-5: 100-400 yds, 6-7: 400-1600 yds, 8: 1600-2400 yds)
20% will connect to a lava chamber. Of these, there is an 80% chance that the tube ends at Level 1, 15% chance Level 2, and 5% chance Level 3. The entry point should be chosen randomly.
(DM Note: The three levels may be arranged, in order, in any orientation, as long as the main lava vent is generally aligned.)
These may be found on Levels 2 and/or 3 (roll/place randomly alone or with other treasure-objects). There is a 25% chance they are malfunctioning in some way.
1. A box surfaced with a glass plate. Activation of the artifact allows far-seeing, but of a random viewpoint, apparently from great altitude.
2. Two pairs of small boxes that allow communication over great distance (up to two miles above-ground, 200 yards below-ground).
3. Device for identifying edible plants and foodstuffs. A sample is placed in a small tray, which retracts into the device and provides analyses results on a glass plate. Unfortunately, the display is in lizardfolk script, and the device is calibrated for lizardfolk biology (25% chance of poisonous to humanoids).
4. Black to dark green metallic helmets (1d4) – grants infravision to the wearer and seals around the throat to become proof against poison gasses (no save required if property fitted). The helmet is designed to fit lizardfolk. A humanoid may wear it, but the vision through the lenses is imperfect (blurred vision makes reading difficult and -2 to-hit) and the seal leaks (save vs poison gasses and similar +2).
5. Wands, black metallic (1d4). May project continual light as a bullseye lantern.
6. Device detects poison gasses or asphyxiating environments and signals danger with a high-pitched shrieking and flashing lights. The shrieking stops when air is cleared or user moves away from the gas source and to a safe atmosphere. The shrieking eliminates chances of surprise.
7. What appears to be a tiny spyglass with several revolving lenses on a hinged base. Small objects placed on the base maybe viewed through the lenses of the device at many times multiplication.
8. Dart-throwers (1d4+1): Fires a dart up to 24 feet. On a successful hit, causes 1d4 electrical damage, plus paralyzes target for one turn. Four charges per dart thrower.
Below are brief notes for features within the extinct magma chambers and lava tubes. Most of the areas are unpopulated and abandoned, although wandering monsters may be expected. The tubes and rooms are generally vacant, except where noted. In general, the rooms will be silent and dusty, with scraps of materials hinting at the rooms' uses.
The chamber ceiling extends upward beyond the reach of light and vision. The chamber itself is mostly filled with two immense lava stalagmites, which, in turn, fill the extinct lava conduit below, except for two passages through the floor. The floor is exceptionally uneven, filled with rockfall and cooled lava. Moving about requires scrambling and climbing over the surface, and incautious explorers may tumble into one of the open passages, their screams fading into the dark...
Descending down one of the two small conduits to the next level will require 100 feet of rope. Descent will reveal the lava conduit opening up into a huge pipe. Lantern-light will barely reveal the walls. At last, a ledge ringing the conduit will appear. Some amount of swinging and gymnastics is required to reach the ledge at the 2nd level.
Descent or entry into this chamber reveals a massive chasm in the old lava tube. For those entering from a lava tube, the ceiling and the upper passages will be barely visible, except for those with the sharpest vision in the dark.
The floor slopes toward the gaping lava conduit, making negotiating passage around the lip quite dicey. However, a wide ledge is visible, yielding a good refuge. A large pile of rock and detritus is here, but the pile does not appear to be of natural origin, with tool marks and drill holes. Beyond the rock are two built passages:
A rough rectangular chamber, with huge rectangular columns. The stone is rough-worked, as if not quite complete. Some lizardfolk script is carved into more finished sections of the walls. Translations of the texts reveal talk of a coming dark and cold for the race. The chamber is an unfinished catacomb/ossuary, similar in purpose to the one in Level 3, below. It is not yet 'occupied'.
A small chamber, which was in the process of being built when the area was abandoned. The floor is covered in broken rock, and an ancient mining machine sits idle. When operable, it tunnels at 5 ft/hour. A command scroll (hinged plates of an unknown metal covered with lizardfolk script - hidden in debris in the unfinished catacomb) will activate the machine.
Handholds and rusted metal rungs are visible in the lava conduit disappearing downward into the dark. While the holds appear mostly intact, descending with some form of safety line would be strongly advised (1 in 6 chance of a rung breaking per explorer). The rungs descend 75 feet into the next chamber of the lava conduit.
Several well-finished chambers and rooms are present on this level. Although the lava conduit takes up the majority of the cavern floor, walkways and flattened surfaces around the edges of the chamber make for safer passage. However, they are narrow, and melee or other disturbances may allow for individuals to lose their footing.
The walls have been finished to a dull sheen, and pictographs and the lizardfolk cuneiform script covers the walls. These depict episodes in the lizardfolk history (although still ancient history to humanoids), including their arrival on the Black Isle prior to the rise and influx of the prolific humanoids. Although the wall texts can not be removed, they may be duplicated through rubbings or other means. The texts may be read via read language, and Shy'ald'aes and his lieutenants are capable of reading the language, although none of the other lizardfolk have knowledge of the Old Tongue.
Most of the rooms are secured by metal doors (steel or iron). 25% are open or partially open, with enough space to squeeze through. The remainder require forcing (Str 22). The doors are not hinged but slide aside once pried.
Stone benches surround a raised dais. Upon the arching, polished ceiling are constellations, none familiar to the characters.
Among the mummified remains of ancestor-lizardfolk, a motley collection of 5-8 reanimated lizard-folk and random humanoids shake off years of accumulated dust and arise. They appear to be wights, but are not turned. These abdead are reanimated by alchemical means, and 'live' via casks and jars plumbed to their tortured bodies. Left as guardians of the dead, they barely show the light of their previous lives. These guardians claw at intruders, shocking their target as they strike. The electrical attack causes injury to the victim, and provides electro-chemical healing to the 'wight'. On a critical hit, the wight grapples the target, causing continual electrical damage until dislodged by a strike. They may receive damage normally (including from normal weapons). (Chem-wights: 3HD, AC 6/14, atks: 2 claw (1d4 pt + 1d4 per electrical), Special: critical hit results in grapple and continual electrical damage until dislodged, a successful hit heals the wight of equivalent electrical damage, up to original HP).
Lizardfolk can appease/deactivate the false wights with certain hissed commands. Shy'ald'aes and his lieutenants know these commands from their ancient readings, but other individuals do not have this information.
A roughly hexagonal room is filled with discarded and abandoned equipment for the reanimation of chem-wights. Tanks, odd containers, Leyden jars, exsanguination tables, and brittle tubing and wiring litter the chamber. There is a 1 in 4 chance that a tank still contains enzymes used for the reanimation of the dead. Tampering with or damaging one of these tanks will release a corrosive slurry (2d6 dmg/round exposed, 10' radius pool). Metal-plated tomes found within locked cabinets, if translated, may provide information on the creation of the 'wights'. The books require translation, in addition to approximately two months study, before the secret of chem-wight creation is revealed. Acquiring or fabricating materials and equipment to generate chem-wights will require approximately 2,500 GP plus 500 GP per wight created.
Symmetrical halls stretch from the lava chamber. The halls are filled with detritus and appear to have been hurriedly abandoned and ransacked centuries before. The tracks of vermin trace through the dust of rotted furniture, toppled equipment, and decayed documents. One room has partially collapsed into the adjacent lava tube.
The S'thter is located within a hidden chamber located off of one side-room of the halls. A secret door, activated by a palm-plate obscured within a bas-relief of lizard-folk hunting a mammoth with some sort of lightning weapon. It is a tome of pictographs and cuneiform etched on wire-bound sheets of mica predating the Age of Man. It contains a history of the lizardfolk's 'lost' city, allegedly located in the Desert of Glass. The book documents the history and advances of the race prior to the coming of the humanoids and the race's subsequent downfall. If deciphered, the book may include information on advanced 'magics' known to the ancestral lizardfolk. The book hints of the manipulation of volcanoes and fire-weapons capable of leveling cities and vitrifying the land. Although they have not yet found this relic, if the S'thter is located by explorers, the lizardfolk will attempt to recover it be any means necessary.