A likely place to seek shelter from dust storms common in the foothills of the Savathar Mountains, Wo’Mataja was once a Chonian settlement, now in ruins, that west-bound travelers on the Lymph Road could stumble across instead of arriving at Isav’s Gate. Only if they take the time to explore the ruins can anyone learn why Wo’Mataja is no more.
Waychon knew the battle was lost when the Steel Men marched up through the ravine. He heard their metal shod ponies clanking against the stone; the noise alone was enough to foretell the doom they brought.
Waychon’s people chased the True Shore, keeping alive this world’s hope for the future. They were not warlords. Not like the Steel Men. He would not call them by their other name, for that word once meant “balance” in a tongue that none now speak. The Steel Men mock balance. They build forts and dams to cut off our lands from life-giving water. For this reason, we must oppose them. We would see the Great Sea restored; they would see the land die completely.
Yes, this battle is lost. Waychon will do what he must to slow their assault so his people can escape. He will not let them build another castle here.
The remains of Wo’Mataja tell the tale of the war for Old Grekia. What was once a burgeoning Chonian Spring Camp is now a dangerous trap-filled ruin. The Baevonian army that descended from their mountain fortresses to drive out the Chonian nomads were successful, but through trap-aided ambushes and other guerilla tactics, the nomads exacted a toll of their own.
The ruins are abandoned now by both factions.
Wo’Mataja is uniquely located at the mouth of a mountain ravine. The river that carved this ravine cut deep into the mountainside to the west. Were the river to somehow flow again, Wo’Mataja would sit at the apex of a waterfall from a mountain lake that drops into a rushing river, but the land is arid and dry, and no waters flow from the furrows in the plateau walls on which the ruins sit. To the east, the land rolls away into lowland plains and Lake Chonia. On a clear day, one could see the waters of the lake and perhaps make out the ruins there, but clear days are few and far between in Wo’Mataja.
All along the foothills of the Savathar Mountains at their eastern edge, the easterly mountain winds and the westerly plains wind collide, unleashing pocketed dust storms that can last mere moments or for days at a time. Wo’Mataja’s unique position at the mouth of a mountain ravine on a hill overlooking the plains means the area is nearly always obscured by a dust storm. Should the spring waters be restored, in time the moisture in the air turns these dust storms into gentle rainfall and cool mountain mists.
Travelers who have made their way across the Great Grass Sea and into the arid foothills of the Savathar Mountains have surely learned to weather a dust storm in a tent, or to avoid the dust with a Chonian visard, a cloth mask worn in layers that allows limited visibility but protects from airborne particulates.
But in Wo’Mataja, the dust seldom settles. For each hour a character spends unprotected from a dust storm, they must make a DC 5 Constitution saving throw. The DC increases by 2 for each hour after the first. This DC also applies to the saving throw made to recover from dustlung at the end of a long rest, as well as the concentration check made to cast a spell while suffering from dustlung.
On a failed saving throw, a character gains one level of exhaustion and contracts dustlung. A creature afflicted with dustlung has difficulty breathing, shouting, and casting spells with verbal components, in addition to the ill effects of exhaustion. The GM may call for a concentration check to perform any action that requires deep or regular breathing.
At the end of each long rest, an infected creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the character gains one level of exhaustion. On a successful save, the character’s exhaustion level decreases by one level. If a successful saving throw reduces the infected creature’s level of exhaustion below 1, the creature recovers from dustlung.
Visard. A visard is a layered cloth head dress worn by the Chonians in the most arid parts of the Great Grass Sea. The visard covers one’s mouth and nose completely, and is layered to form a slit that protects one’s eyes from airborne dust and sand. A character wearing a visard has advantage on saving throws made to resist dustlung. Cost: 5 gp; Weight: —
The foundations of Wo’Mataja are of Old Grekia. Foundations such as these can be found ringing the plateau on which Wo’Mataja sits, indicating that there was once a small city overlooking a mountain lake. The cluster of buildings nearest the ravine, surrounding the old well, are the only signs of recent habitation. The thatched roofs and reed walls that remain here in the centermost ruins were built by Chonian nomads, when this place was used as a Spring Camp, before they were driven out by the Baevonians. The erstwhile purpose of any given building is lost to the aftermath of battle and the decay of time.
Wo’Mataja Random Encounters
1-2 simple trap
3-4 dangeous trap
5-6 orc raiders
7-8 Chonian scouts
9-10 Baevonian patrol
Simple Trap. A simple trap—such as a rope snare or a pit trap—is merely a setback more than a serious danger to adventurers. A simple trap is useful for alluding to more difficult and dangerous traps nearby.
A snare trap is a concealed rope or vine that lifts those who fail to spot it into the air. A creature notices the snare trap before entering the square with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check.
The trap is sprung when a Small, Medium, or Large creature enters the trap’s square. The creature must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or be hauled into the air, hanging upside down 3 to 12 feet off the ground (3d4).
While hanging in this way, the creature is restrained.
Dangerous Trap. A dangerous trap is far more likely to injure an adventurer than a simple trap. In an area with deadly traps like a fire-breathing statue or a javelin cluster, it can be useful to show new players triggered versions of these traps before exposing their characters to the potentially deadly trap.
Long, javelin-like spikes in a wall, floor, pillar, or other architecture jut forth to pierce trespassers. A creature notices the pressure plate or specific shaft of light that triggers the trap with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check.
The trap is sprung when a creature enters the cluster’s square, triggering the pressure plate or obscuring the shaft of light. To prevent the trap from activating, a character can wedge an iron spike beneath the pressure plate or reflect the shaft of light back on itself with a small mirror.
Four javelins make a ranged attack with a +8 bonus against the creature who triggered the trap. On a hit, the target takes 20 (5d10) piercing damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the javelins remain exposed and the trap is disabled permanently. Otherwise, the javelins retract slowly and reset within an hour.
Orc Raiders. An orc tribe uses the ruins as a base of operations for raids into settlements along the border between the Baevonian Mountains and the Chonian lowlands. Wo’Mataja may be abandoned, but the orcs quickly discovered that the aftermath of war still lingers in the ruins. By day the orcs rest and plot amongst the shadows of the ruins. By night they explore the ruins or raid in parties of four, only returning to their makeshift camp after procuring something of value.
Chonian Scouts. Four Chonians and their zevra mounts have sought shelter from the dust storm. They do not begrudge any outsiders the same solace. But travelers who offend the Chonians in any of a myriad of ways soon find the makeshift camp an unwelcome place. Speaking highly of Baevonia is perhaps the worst offense one can make. The scouts are searching for a comrade, who went missing in the foothills a few days ago.
Baevonian Patrol. Four Baevonian knights, mounted on their surefooted ponies, demand papers of passage for any travelers they happen across while patrolling the outskirts of Wo’Mataja. Those who have not yet been to Isav’s Gate or otherwise can offer no standing the Baevonians recognize must instead offer a tithe or pay the fine for trespassing. Once the bureaucracy is handled, the knights are congenial to travelers, unless there are Chonians among them. The patrol is searching for a comrade, who went missing in the foothills a few days ago.
Gyeongsa. Most would scoff at Chonian tales of the gyeongsa, the great whirlwind that sucks up entire villages. According to legend, a gyeongsa is the vengeful spirit of the wind, angry that the inland sea waters it once graced have long dried up. Few are those who have seen such a gale and lived to speak of it, but those who do recount the foreboding sense of malice borne on the wind.
1. Approaching the Ruins
The central ruins are but vague shapes in the raging dust storm. The approach is guarded by a simple trip wire that runs the length of the opening between the buildings. A character can spot the trip wire on a clear day with a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check. During a dust storm, the DC increases to 15 and the check is made with disadvantage. When the wire is tripped, one can hear the faint rattle of bone and wood chimes from somewhere deeper in the ruins (Area 3).
2. Within the Ruins
The ruins provide adequate cover from the storm, at least enough to see and speak clearly. If the tripwire in Area 1 was triggered, any orcs in Area 3 are waiting to ambush anyone who walks this way.
Sand covers everything within the ruins; waist-high sand dunes surround the stone foundations and partially obscure doorways and alleys. If left undisturbed, signs of passage are once again obscured by sand and wind in a matter of hours.
3. Orc Squatters
Four orcs celebrate a recent raid into the mountains. If caught unawares, they are rummaging through the sacks and saddlebags of their haul, tossing anything they deem worthless onto a bonfire. If the tripwire in Area 1 was triggered, they are stealthily waiting to ambush whomever comes this way. The entrance to this building is large enough that only very recent signs of passage are visible in the sand out front.
If the party is in need of mundane supplies or rations, there is a 50% chance they find what they’re looking for amongst the detritus, once the orcs are dealt with.
4. Remains of War
A thin shaft of grey light from a hole in the thatched roof lands on a humanoid silhouette; one can make out a handful of similar shadows elsewhere in this large room. The figure nearest the entryway reveals enough detail to know these Baevonian soldiers met with a gruesome fate, their heavy plate armor useless against the spear trap that holds their corpses upright.
A dozen Baevonian knights died here to the traps laid by the fleeing Chonians. No corpses are visible in the centermost section of this building, an indication that there may yet be traps unsprung, here and elsewhere in the ruins.
5. Ancient Well
The remaining ruins indicate that this was once a grand fountain. The spring that fed this well is more than half a mile from here, in the lower part of this plateau that was once a clear mountain lake. Most of the decoration of the fountain has been destroyed or scavenged, and the sand has begun to wear away at what remains. The well shaft descends 75 feet before opening into a wide, dry flat bottom cave, with tree roots poking through the ceiling near the cliff wall to the north.
The remains of a stone statue, having broken away from its base at the well, lay half buried in the sand nearby. The three-foot-tall statue weighs nearly five-hundred pounds, is carved of blue-white marble, and depicts the water goddess Vasi. Such an item could fetch 10,000 gp or more in a city market.
Underworld Passage. At the GM’s option, there is passage into the wilds of the Underworld from this well, but only when the spring that feeds the lake above is dry. Otherwise this chamber is flooded.
6. Sand Dune
The wind rushes through this thoroughfare and crashes against a fallen wall of woven reeds, creating a sand dune that completely blocks the thoroughfare and nearly covers the entrances to nearby buildings.
It would be a simple matter to scurry up the sand dune and crawl through a doorway, were it not for the dangers one might find within. If the party takes the time to explore these buildings, roll on the random encounter table to determine what they find, either as they enter a building or as they exit. Roll on the random treasures table to determine what they find, if anything, inside a building.
Wo’Mataja Random Treasures
1d12 Item found
1 beaded necklace (50 gp)
2 gold horsehead ring (100 gp)
3 Chonian star map (75 gp)
4 Grekian runestone (200 gp)
5 a barrel of pickled cabbage (5 gp)
6 an ancient canoe (250 gp)
7 topographical map of Baevonia Pass (75 gp)
8 reed pan pipes (1 sp)
9 dune skiff and harness (100 gp)
10 Baevonian half plate armor (375 gp)
11 Chonian saddle (50 gp)
12 silver teardrop ring (300 gp)
7. Mouth of the Ravine
This rise overlooks a scrubland cliffwall, once an impressive waterfall, that descends into a ravine. Following the ravine leads one into Ogre Canyon, a massive chasm of sheer crevices and treacherous outcroppings. Descending the cliff is a dangerous prospect without climbing gear or magical assistance. Looking over the cliff edge, one can see flaking limestone, thorny bushes, and a single, sparse, quaking aspen, its leaves a sickly yellow.
“Hullo?” You hear a faint, thin voice cry from below. Is that tree… talking?
Meewin, the Treant Sapling
The treant Meewin is young for their kind. Meewin remembers when they first began their trek west into the mountains to find a nice mountain spring or meltway to tend. Meewin remembers coming upon the ruins of Wo’Mataja, they sensed the water that carved this place, and would one day flow again. It would not suit their needs today, but in the grand cycle this place would need a caretaker. Meewin plucked a single acorn from their full bough, planted it safely out of the wind, and continued their journey.
When the Chonians rediscovered Wo’Mataja and began the process of revivification, beginning with the foundation of a Spring Camp amongst the ruins, the waters once again began to flow through the subterranean aquifers. Though their well was occasionally dry, their efforts began to bear fruit: the dust storms abated, rains bathed the lands once or twice a year, and all manner of plants began to grow vibrant. Into this new garden, Meewin the sapling began to grow from the acorn they had planted not so long ago.
The waters that once formed this mountain lake, waterfall, and river below came from many sources, Meewin could sense. A deep cold spring fed the aquifer beneath the earth. Rain and melt water from the mountain peak caused the lake to swell and overflow its bowl, forming the waterfall and river. Only some great calamity could have disrupted the water’s flow; but Meewin sensed the water, sensed that it wished to resurge.
Though Meewin never met the humans—whom he called Water Bringers—who gave this baren mountain waterfall new hope, the treant sapling would witness their end. Armored men from the mountains attacked. The Water Bringers used their magic to repel the invaders, but finding themselves overwhelmed chose to destroy all that they had worked for, rather than give it up.
All this Meewin the sapling sensed, blind still to the world, rooted in place as they were. Danger, too, Meewin sensed now that the water once again ceased to flow. Meewin would have to uproot, without seeds, without hands, and without eyes.
Escort Meewin. They must find a locale with more moisture than can be found, currently, near Wo’Mataja. The circumstances of their seeding means they prefer rocky terrain. Their waking dreams are haunted with a spring or stream in the mountains, but they will forever be drawn to see Wo’Mataja restored. But Meewin the sapling treant has only just learned how to vocalize; they communicate best in Sylvan.
Restore the Reservoir. The reservoir beneath Wo’Mataja could be restored only if the sources of water that fed the lake were restored. Rain and meltwater from the high peaks evaporate before reaching Wo’Mataja, thanks to the winds and dust from the dry foothills. The spring that once fed the aquifer, it’s source deep in the Underworld, no longer flows to such a high elevation, without the abundant watershed of the Grekian Sea to bolster it.
Orc Incursion. The cadre of orcs who have moved into Wo’Mataja are outcasts from a large band of tribes recently unified by Mother Vyrka, a cruel and cunning witch-queen. The outcast orcs were quick to flee when their chieftains and shamans fell to her ravenous blood cult. Now they bide their time as raiders, avoiding both Baevonian patrols and orc cultists alike, while Vyrka consolidates her power in the Savathar Mountains. Any missing persons—whether Baevonian or Chonian—can probably be traced to the war parties she commands, and the outcast orcs are quick to impart this information to anyone who asks.
If you missed last week, here’s a brief historic and geologic look at Old Grekia, and tune in next week for part two of the war for Old Grekia: K’tarik Sanctuary. Get in the comments or join us on Discord and let us know what you think!