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Story Locale (Uralicans Uncut): Uralicans of Heim

Image_Portfolio_107_Fantasy Jason Walton 61As the PCs explore Uklonjen, the likelihood of an encounter with the dwellers on this plane is inevitable. The Uralicans (denizens of this demiplane) are keeping close tabs on the PCs to determine if they are friend or foe. They have scouts, both physical and psionic, watching everything the adventurers do. As such, in any initial encounter, the Uralicans should be treated as Indifferent. If the party defeated Varg, the Uralicans’ reaction to the party is upgraded to Friendly.

The PCs, however, have another problem: their ship is losing power and they are going to either drift aimlessly or be forced to land soon—given the previous encounters, the wise move is to land. When they do so they are immediately encountered by a small party of Uralicans. If they stay airborne, a short time after they lose power and start to drift, a small Uralican craft comes up alongside them, asking permission to board. They are eager for news and gladly assist the PCs so long as the party is talking, divulging the history of their arrival to Uklonjen in return.

Distant descendants of the Vikmordere, their direct ancestors were cosmic explorers, masters of psionic energy that traveled the planes extending their once proud, great civilization. Others returned with artifacts, knowledge, or wealth, but the Uralicans found instead a portal to an “in-between” plane, Uklonjen, a place that allowed for the creation of gateways to an unlimited number of other planes. The promise of what was to come ended as abruptly as it began as portals quickly began to close, including the portal back home. Years of research to re-establish their link with civilization led nowhere and the Uralicans eventually accepted that they were completely cut off.

Though stranded, their psionic powers and magical abilities gained power, allowing the Uralicans to survive. Before long they found the source of this newfound power—regenerating xyrx crystals, naturally occurring psionic gems that bolstered their impressive talents of the mind.

Image_Portfolio_107_Fantasy Jason Walton 79Uralicans began to open up new gateways in hopes of finding a way home, but these new portals proved to be less predictable than their predecessors. Nearly half of their population were lost to interplanar accidents before they stopped their activate exploration program, working instead to map the connections between worlds. New gateways could be opened but only to be tested, left unexplored and swiftly closed once they discovered that the more portals opened to Uklonjen, the less stable each became—their elders finally agreed that no more than three of these planar egresses should remain open at one time.

After closing Varg’s gateway to HEL only three are open, one of which refuses to be closed—the Uralicans attempted to open a portal to the Plane of Mud in hopes to gain backdoor access to the Plane of Water, but instead they opened an entryway to a plane filled with oozes, jellies, and strange plant life brimming with psionic energies—so strong, in fact, that they actively stop any attempts to close the gateway. Two giant oozes passed through the portal into Uklonjen and several Uralicans were lost before the creatures were driven back and fearing more incursions, the cave complex containing the portal was sealed; the last known visit to it was more than 5 years ago.

The Uralicans take notice that the PCs ship is out of power and if the party allows them to examine the vessel, the natives come up with a solution that may work. Xyrx crystals often change properties when placed in other planes, and from the research done on the Plane of Ooze, the Uralicans believe that three crystals can power the adventurers’ ship, so long as they are attuned to the strange Plane of Ooze. In order to do this, the xyrx crystals must be placed through the portal. The Uralicans hope that the PCs, being psionically far inferior to the Uralicans, won’t draw the attention of the oozes and can complete the task; they also hope that the gateway will close when the crystals are withdrawn, allowing the Uralicans to continue their search for a way to their ancestral home.

Gathering xyrx crystals is very similar to mining; treat xyrx crystals like steel for purposes of Hardness (10) and Hit Points (30/inch). The PCs require at least three of the psionic gems, each of them Medium size.

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Story Locale (Macabre Manses): Hensley’s Mansion

fantasy -architecture-2A high hill overlooks the sleepy mining town of Selton, surrounded by a bent and rusted metal fence at its top. From a distance, it looks like an overgrown cemetery or vineyard—locals, however, avoid the hill entirely and tell a different story.

A long time ago the butte was home to a frugal mage, Alfred Hensley. Inside the fence were gardens, workshops, and Hensley’s Mansion—a large stone structure with 35 rooms. Even though the house was a marvelous edifice to behold, the few that visited told stories of the emptiness of the estate. The mage Hensley was a notorious cheapskate; he had no servants and little in the way of furnishings or luxuries. Those that got close to the grounds would sometimes see him outside in the garden, tending a large patch of gourds, sometimes taking a few inside. At night there would be strange lights coming from the windows; more than one account detailed seeing jack-o’-lanterns lit up on the front porch, and what could only be described as a floating, disembodied pumpkin head inside the house, peering out through a window.

On the rare occasions when Alfred left his home to travel to town, the more curious folk would sometimes venture closer to the house. One such lad actually entered the mansion; when he returned, he was never quite the same. He could recount little—the house was mostly empty of furnishings, but the basement was full of arcane gear. He remembered that a shadow seemed to follow him until he ran into a living pumpkin-man in the observatory atop the house, with flames jetting out of its eyes and mouth. Terrified, he fled. Where this lad had once been strong and stout, he was now weak and delicate, the slightest surprise sending him into painful convulsions and tremors.

A virtual recluse before, Alfred became even more isolated as time wore on. Rumor had it that Alfred, despising company and reluctant to part with money, was dabbling in new magics to cheaply create servants to care for his house and tend to his needs. The occasional sighting of strange, human-like beings inside the estate gave credence to these rumors.

One very dark Hallow’s Eve, on the day of the new moon, a sickly yellow glowing fog enveloped the house on the hill. This fog lifted into the sky, revealing a full harvest moon where there should have been nothing but stars and darkness. After the fog lifted, Hensley’s Mansion had simply vanished—there was no trace of the house, and even the cellars has been filled in with dirt and grass.
Only the steel fence ringing the grounds was left behind.

Time passed. The elements and plants took over the grounds where the mansion used to be, until one day, on a Hallow’s Eve, the moon rose in the sky, red and full. The townsfolk looked at the moon and underneath it, outlined by the great red orb, Hensley’s Mansion stood once more—until the setting of the moon, when the fog came and took the house away again.

Now, every Hallow’s Eve, the moon appears blood red in the sky and Hensley’s Mansion reappears for a few short hours.

What secrets lie within?

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Story Locale (Banlan Backlash): Nyamo Wall

Underground_tunnel_RCW_02Nyamo is a walled city; years of outside threats necessitated the construction of a sturdy barrier hundreds of years ago. Originally designed to repel intruders, it now serves a slightly different purpose—as the settlement became a center of commerce, traders from all over the world arrived in Nyamo to sell their wares and exchange ideas.
While the goods and money were welcome, the ideas were not.

The visiting merchants and migrants were mostly housed in the migrant district, which was composed of most of the northern half of the city. Construction began on a new section of the Nyamo Wall that effectively split the city in half, running down the middle and connecting each end to the original outer wall. Taller and thicker than the original wall, the huge gatehouse built into its center gave each side of the barrier its own portcullis.

Traffic between the sections of the Nyamo Wall is strictly regulated—in order to pass, the person must provide an acceptable reason, a gate tax must be paid, and a stamp issued. Those wishing to stay overnight must obtain permission and purchase a special permit to do so. Guards from the Order of the Staff search each and every person that passes through the gate, ensuring that no contraband makes its way into Nyamo (normal magic items are not illegal, but may not pass through the gate; these items must be surrendered or passage is also prohibited.) Usually, traveler are given the option of simply turning around and not passing through the Nyamo Wall if they do not wish to surrender their items—in this city of Timeaus, this is just the cost of doing business. Those that pass through the gate are often followed by a member of the Order of the Staff, who make careful notes on interactions they make and often follow up questioning where searches occur (often using Nyamo scribe orbs).

Those that wish to enter the city from outside must go to the Migrants’ Gate on the outer wall (unless they are a Timerian citizen) where they are still subject to search and seizure, declaring all of their enchanted items; undeclared magic items are subject to confiscation. Those that wish to stay more than 24 hours must apply at the gate or at a Timerian embassy for a permit, and anyone found entering the city under false pretenses are subject to expulsion or arrest.

Only Timerian citizens are allowed entry through the Timerian Gate. They must present the proper papers and declare any magic or valuable items obtained outside of Timeaus. Generally speaking, most citizens comply and seizures at this gate are rare.

When the Nyamo Wall was constructed, the sewers under the city were modified, blocking passages with bars and grates, and in some cases blocking tunnels altogether. Over the years enterprising smugglers and other criminal elements have reopened some of these sealed passages to facilitate the burgeoning black market in Nyamo. While some goods are sold, it is most often news of the outside world that is traded, as well as books and other forms of publication. Several competing guilds operate underneath the Nyamo Wall, including those that support revolution; simple thievery and smuggling are often overlooked, with the occasional blatant offender caught and made an example of. However, the revolutionaries that deal in information and subterfuge are almost always put to the death when caught.

Entry into the tunnels that connect the two sides of the cities is a closely guarded secret. A select few safe houses on each side contain concealed entrances to the underground labyrinth—these are moved on a regular basis, the old entrances sealed up. Few people know of the existence of more than one way into the network under the Nyamo Wall, and even some of the guild masters do not know every entrance under their control.