Lower Plateau [L1 - L13]

The lower plateau forms the southern half of the island and most of it is approximately 100' above sea level. At its eastern end, unlike the rest of the cliff-edged plateau, the ground spreads out into a low, barren and rocky headland that stretches a mile into the sea. This ancient lava flow helps form Fisherman's Bay [L9] and is a home to many seals and seabirds. Around the headland the plateau is covered in a low grass, the only thing tough enough to survive in this harsh environment. Moving inland, the ground rises and more substantial plants can be found and in the shelter provided by the upper plateau there is thick and rich woodland. Equidistant from the sea and the cliffs of the upper plateau, the Forest Walkers make their home [L7]. Behind them is the forest, ahead of them is open land and a clear view of Fisherman's Bay and the sea beyond.

Towards the western end of the island the plateau narrows, squeezed between Mount Towu'way and the coast, the forest thins and the terrain becomes wetter. The dominating height and massive cliffs of the western mountain create a micro-climate around its base. Water from melting snow constantly cascades down the cliffs only to be caught in updrafts creating a near-permanent mist.

Forest Walkers do come this far west but only rarely and there are no paths to follow. The swampy ground is difficult and this unpleasant terrain is made hazardous by the nearby pterodactyls [L10]. Along the seaward side of the plateau, a cliff face drops almost vertically 200' down on to the rocks below. The large swell of the waves and the rocks at the cliff's base makes it perilous for any boat to come near this part of the coast.

At the island's westernmost tip a series of terraces [L11] descends to a mile-long thin promontory [L12] which leads to the tower [L13].

L1. Landing Cove

Those characters who made it ashore safely during the Arrival find themselves in the Landing Cove. If the party managed to land the boat they will need to drag it up the beach or it will be swept away on the next tide. This won't help the party at all because as soon as they leave the area the Forest Walkers will discover it and take it round to their village.

Panting, soaked to the skin, half-starved, with cracked lips and a parched tongue, you stand on dry land for the first time in two weeks. Unsteadily, you look around at your new home.

The cove is almost a mile wide with a beach of thick, golden sand and 100' cliffs surrounding it. Near the middle of the cove the beach is almost half a mile wide but near the cove's headlands the beach disappears, replaced by a thin strip of treacherous-looking rocks at the base of the cliffs. At the top of the headlands the strange rock formations or statues can just be seen but it is still impossible to make out any details.

Almost at the centre of the cove there is a waterfall tumbling down the cliffs. The promise of fresh water reminds you how long it since you last ate or drank anything.

The easiest place to climb the cliffs is next to the waterfall. The first 50' is difficult but the top half is much simpler.
The water from the waterfall is fresh, clean and surprisingly cold. It must come from the snow-peaked mountains.
Behind the waterfall is a cave [U1].
Climbing The Cliff

Climbing the first 50' will need an extended action with a resistance of 4 and a target of 30. Characters without any climbing advantages or other useful physical abilities may use a potential action for 1d6+0. Once one character is at the top with a rope, other climbers can make use of any ropes they have as mundane equipment for 1d6+0. Anyone who fails on an action while climbing will tumble to the ground. This constitutes an attack for 2d6+0 which the character can attempt to resist against.

Walking Around the Headland

The beach thins and then disappears towards the headlands leaving only slippery rocks constantly pounded by breaking waves. Traversing either headland requires a character to make a suitable action and beat a 2d6+3 resistance of slippery rocks and breakers.

L2. Stone Heads

Situated on the headlands around the Landing Cove [L1] and Dead Man's Cove [L2] is a series of 15 giant stone heads, five in each location. Each cluster of heads is identical. The heads are depictions of the devil Badanistrax and were quarried from L5 by the Forest Walkers as an attempt to appease the devil.

The head are around 20' tall and crudely carved from the same black stone which makes up the island's cliffs. They stand overlooking the sea as a warning to any who try to land here.
Around the base of each statue is a few inches of dead grass.
The heads are stylised but have a long thin face, a pair of large, inhuman pointed ears, a beard and an evil grin showing a mouth full of sharp teeth.
There is a faint sense of demonic magic about the statues.

L3. The Forest

The lower plateau's forest is an ancient, lush affair and elves will be reminded of the forests of their homeland. The forest is the sacred home of the Forest Walkers and though they collect berries, nuts and some plants, they never harm a tree. When the Forest Walkers are not busy fishing they like to spend their time moving peacefully through the woods or sitting quietly chanting in the groves. To the Forest Walkers, following particular paths in a particular order is an act of religious worship. If a tree falls across a path it is seen as a sign and that path will be abandoned.

The forest is healthy and rich in plant life, with a varied and large bird population.
Growing in the forest are numerous edible plants, berries and nuts as well as herbs with healing properties.
There are numerous faint trails which meander through the trees, crossing over each other and lacking a clear direction or purpose.
There are numerous footprints, made by barefooted humans.
There is no sign of any animal larger than a squirrel.

Finding food in the forest is easy. There is no large game in the wood, only squirrels and small birds, but plenty of nuts, berries and mushrooms. It is the Fay Spirits' way of rewarding the humans for leaving the wood untouched. Characters can attempt any appropriate action to gather food though this takes a scene and faces a resistance of 2d6+0. Successful actions gather enough food for one person for one day or more, using the Success + 4 scale (see 6d6 Core).

The various healing herbs in the woods can be used to treat wounds, poisons and diseases. They are usable as mundane equipment but must be fresh. They lose their properties only a couple of hours after being picked.

Encountering the Forest Walkers

When the characters arrive on the island the Forest Walkers will be unaware of their presence and carrying on their day-to-day lives. As well as fishing and tending their fields, this involves solitary walks through the woods collecting food and worshipping the Fay Spirits. As the characters explore the woodland they will inevitably encounter one of the Forest Walkers. Exactly when this happens is left to the Game Leader, based on how cautiously the characters are moving through the woods.

The highly xenophobic Forest Walker will attempt to flee when encountered, shouting in alarm, which disturbs the bird life. Other Forest Walkers will be alerted by the shouts or by the sudden eruption of birds from the treetops. The nearby Forest Walkers in turn will send word back to the village to raise the alarm. In the meantime they form a gang and head towards the characters. A gang consists of one 1d6+2 Forest Walker mook per character. It is unlikely a gang will be a serious threat to the party but any characters caught by themselves will be in real danger.

Once the alarm has been raised in the Forest Walker village, war parties will set out to hunt down the characters. Shipwrecked sailors arrive on the island about once a year thanks to the tides and currents in the area and hunting them down is a sport. Though the Forest Walkers know the woods intimately they do not have any tracking abilities (they have never needed any). Instead, some of the Forest Walkers move rapidly and silently towards the western end of the woods and then lie in wait. The remaining natives move from the east, shouting and screaming in an attempt to drive the shipwrecked sailors into the ambush. A Forest Walker war party is a much more serious threat to the characters and consists of a Forest Walker Gang Leader plus two 1d6+4 Forest Walker mooks per character.

Encountering the Fay Spirits

The Fay Spirits will never physically manifest themselves but the wood is full of them. As soon as the party enters the forest they will be observed and if characters start chopping down trees or lighting fires the spirits will be disturbed. What happens next depends on how the characters are behaving. For minor offences such as breaking a branch or lighting a small fire, the characters might feel they are being watched or hear whispering in the branches as if the trees are talking to each other. They may even hear instructions like "Put out the fire" but the characters will never be sure if it was real or if they had drifted off into a dream.

More serious threats to the forest such as wanton destruction of trees or lighting large fires will attract the spirits' anger. As well as alerting the Forest Walkers the spirits will animate the nearby fallen branches into golems. There will be a single large golem (Golem, Wood [Monster]) plus three 1d6+1 mooks (Golem, Figurine) per character. The Fay are not interested in killing the characters, only in stopping the destruction of their trees.

L4. Sacred Clearing

The characters stumble into a small, quiet clearing.

In this pleasant clearing a pile of clearly human bones can be seen. Probably the remains of just one person, the bones are clean of any flesh or skin, suggesting the person has been dead for at least a few months.
Among the bones there are a handful of small coloured glass beads.
Even among this pleasant forest, this clearing is especially peaceful.
Nothing seems to have disturbed the bones and there are no animal bite marks on them.
The clearing has a magical feel to it, like a temple or other sacred place.
The arrangement of the bones suggest the body was placed in a sitting position facing one of the larger trees.

When a respected elder of the Forest Walkers dies, they are not thrown into the pit at the Devil's Throne [L6]. Instead they are placed in a sitting position in one of the clearings and left there to become part of the forest. If the bones are disturbed or anything is removed (including the glass beads) the Forest Walker's spirit will transform a nearby tree into a Ya-Te-Veo. This deadly flesh-eating creature will drive off or kill any characters before reverting to an unremarkable tree.

L5. Quarry

An outcrop of the black cliffs shows clear signs of being worked.

The 2000' feet of the black cliffs loom above but they are more broken and slightly less vertical at this point. Someone has taken advantage of this to quarry the rock, and fragments of stone, small and large, lie scattered around.
The quarry appears abandoned and overgrown with no sign of any activity in many years.
A narrow, treacherous ledge runs from the quarry, westward along the cliff face.

The ledge is traversable but dangerous. Any actions other than moseying or purely mental activities have a 1d6+0 situation bonus to resistance actions, and the character is in danger of falling. This especially applies to combat when the pterodactyls attack - two 1d6+3 mooks (Pterodactyl, Flaplings) per character.

As it heads westward, the ledge climbs to 500' above the lower plateau and eventually reaches the Pterodactyl Nest [U16].

L6. The Devil's Throne

Below the island are the remains of an underground city created by the ancient Fay civilisation. Out of sight where they could do no harm to the beauty of the island were all the workshops, factories and unpleasantness needed to make any civilisation work. Yet very few of the Fay actually worked down there. Instead the Fay created races of slaves to work underground and races of brutal overseers to control them. These overseers were known as devils.

When the Fay civilisation collapsed the slaves fled or died but the devils remained in the hottest, deepest parts of the Fay's underground cities. As creatures of a dark and hidden world, they do not often leave their lava pits. However, a few hundred years ago one devil by the name of Badanistrax came to the surface and discovered the humans living on the island.

For no reason other than his own amusement, Badanistrax went on a killing spree. Untouchable by any weapons of the Forest Walkers he killed almost half the tribe in one night before returning underground to escape the bright light of the sun. The next night he returned, intent on killing the rest of the tribe, but was amused to find a crudely carved wooden effigy of himself placed on a throne made of rocks. The tribe were all kneeling in front of the throne chanting. He walked up to the kneeling humans and casually cast one of them into the Pit. To his surprise, rather than running, the humans remained and the chanting got louder. Curious, he cast the effigy aside, sat on the throne and waited to see what the humans would do next.

Over the next few nights, Badanistrax returned to the surface to play with the humans and watch as their devotions became more elaborate. The second time he arrived they threw one of their fellow tribesmen into the pit for him. The third time, work started on a great throne for him to sit on. Each time he came, the worship of the Forest Walkers had become more elaborate. Eventually Badanistrax got bored and visited less and less frequently. It is some fifty years since he last appeared and only the very oldest members of the tribe can remember seeing him. However, the legacy remains and the tribe throw nearly all their sick and dead into the Pit as an act of devotion.

This clearing at the base of the massive cliffs is dominated by a large stone throne sitting in front of a pit.
The pit is 10' wide and drops down into darkness [U10]. The distinct smell of sulphur emerges from it.
The throne is large and made of the black stone which dominates the island. It is decorated with crude carvings of skulls.
The throne is roughly carved and would be suitable for a creature 8' tall.

This whole area is sacred to the Forest Walkers, a site of worship, sacrifice and burial all in one place. Adventurers do not want to be caught by the Forest Walkers here.

Note: The Pit [U10] contains a colony of flying beetles which may be roused by characters trying to assess the hole's depth by throwing stones in.

L7. Forest Walkers' Village

All the Forest Walkers live in this communal settlement.

The village consists of about sixty primitive huts. Around it are small fields containing sickly looking vegetable plants. Men, women and children move around the village.
Each of the huts is small (about 10' by 10') and partially sunken into the ground (by around 3') to provide insulation and added strength.
Some of the huts, maybe one in five, look abandoned.
The walls and roofs of the huts are made exclusively of driftwood and other materials washed up on the shores. Nothing from the forest is used in their construction.

According to Forest Walker custom, a new hut is constructed when a couple are due to have their first child. During the pregnancy the parents-to-be will scour the shores of the island looking for driftwood. This is collected and piled on the planned location of the hut. Construction of the hut is a communal event and starts when the mother-to-be goes into labour. It is considered good fortune if the hut is finished before the child is born.

The same hut will be used by the new family as it grows but the hut will not be expanded. Only necessary repairs are carried out. As the parents age and the children leave to create their own huts the parents remain, and when they die the hut is abandoned and left to fall into disrepair. It is taboo in Forest Walker society to take anything, either building materials or utensils, from a hut after the owners have died.

Because of this cycle of building and decay, the number of huts in the village gives a misleading idea about the population. At any time at least a quarter of the huts will be empty or have a single, elderly occupant. In total there are about 200 villagers, of which 50 are men of fighting age. The rest are women, children and the elderly. Despite the limited population and gene pool, Fay Spirit magic keeps the population healthy and at a stable level. It is occasionally supplemented by children and young female adults who are washed up on the shores, though most are massacred as outsiders.

Outside the village are the fields, protected by low dry-stone walls, where the Forest Walkers grow root vegetables to supplement the diet of the forest fruit, fish and seals. The field structure is a crazy patchwork of plots with an erratic mix of shapes and sizes.

The village awakens at dawn and fires are lit to cook the main meal of the day. Afterwards, most of the villagers head down to Fisherman's Cove [L9] for the day's fishing and seal hunting. The elderly, the young and any heavily pregnant women will stay in the village, taking care of the homes and preparing food for later. In the afternoon the rest of the village returns and attention turns to the fields, maintenance of the huts and similar tasks. As darkness falls, each villager will return to their hut.

At least once a week, each villager will be contacted by the Fay Spirits and make their walk through the forest. Each will pick their own path through the woods, collecting fruit, nuts, fallen wood for fires and whatever else the 'forest spirits' choose to bestow on them that day. Some villagers are more prone to being called by the spirits than others and pre-teen/teen girls and the elderly are the most susceptible.

Occasionally, the daily routine is upset. The construction of a new hut, the taking of the sick or recently deceased to the pit, the summoning of a trading ship or the arrival of outsiders will cause a change in behaviour.

Contacting the Village

If the characters do not meet any Forest Walkers in the woods, they are likely to watch the village and try to contact it. This will end in disaster. Any menfolk in the village at the time will immediately attack whilst the children and women will shout and run to fetch the remaining men. See L3 for details of Forest Walker war parties.

L8. Dead Man's Cove

The currents and tides around Dead Man's Cove converge on this 3/4 mile wide bay, pushing almost all of the island's flotsam and jetsam to this cove. A sharp line of mostly submerged rocks runs across the mouth of the bay which acts as a trap, keeping the sea-borne debris within the relatively calm waters of the bay. 90% of the materials used by the Forest Walkers to construct their homes and tools are washed up on this beach.

At the bay's eastern end a stream from the lower plateau forms a waterfall over the 100' cliffs. By the waterfall is a large staircase cut into the rock.
The cliff face is dotted with caves or tunnels of various sizes, out of which water trickles.
There are neat stacks of bones placed on ledges around the cliffs.
The bay has the uneasy, restless feel of lost souls and dispossessed spirits.

The caves link back to the The Pit [U10] and flooding carries the bones to this cove. To the Forest Walkers this looks like the island itself spitting out the bones of the dead. They collect the remains, placing them reverentially in piles on the cliff. The whole cove acts an an ossuary. There is nothing intrinsically evil about this place but a combination of the magical nature of the island, the devils underneath and the beliefs of the Forest Walkers means that it does generate a sense of unease. If anyone is stupid enough to disturb the bones, Skeletons, Warrior mooks will rise and attack all present. There will be two 1d6+4 mooks per character.

L9. Fisherman's Bay

This mile-long natural harbour is formed by the long rocky eastern headland and the gently sloping end of the lower plateau. There are almost always one or more Forest Walkers around the bay. The male Forest Walkers use crude canoes and rafts to fish the area while the women gather crabs and mussels from the rocks of the headland. On the bottom of the bay are rich beds of oysters, the source of the island's pearls. Both men and women compete to dive down to the deepest parts of the bay and recover the best pearls.

The water is normally calm in the bay and it is here that the occasional merchant ship will arrive in response to the High Beacon [H4]. However, the currents and tides across the mouth of the bay are strong, and small craft that stray too far will be immediately pulled towards the rocks around Dead Man's Cove. Even for the larger merchant vessels it is still risky and several ships have been wrecked trying to enter or leave the bay.

L10. Marsh

The western end of the lower plateau is very damp and shrouded in a near-permanent mist. Water running off the snow-capped peaks of Mount Towu'way is caught in violent updrafts caused by the cliffs and reduced to a fine mist. The ground around here is marshy and waterlogged, with few trees. Movement though the area is slow and unpleasant.

About 500' up the massive cliffs which rise up above this area, a number of cave mouths [U16] can occasionally be glimpsed through the mist. These are home to a flock of pterodactyls. Six 1d6+2 pterodactyl mooks (Pterodactyl, Flapling) will glide silently through the mist, attempting to stay hidden until right on top of the characters. The Pterodactyls gain a 1d6+0 situation bonus for the mist as well as their 1d6+2 in resistance actions against the characters' prompted awareness actions. If the Pterodactyls are not seen, combat will start with the creatures next to the characters; otherwise they are spotted 30' away. The Pterodactyls will attack in two groups of three, focusing on the two smallest members of the party. They will attempt to fly away with their victims using the Drag trait.

L11. Terrace

At its narrowest, the cliffs of Mount Towu'way are only 100' feet away from the coastline. West of this narrow strip of land the terrain changes as it slopes down to the causeway [L12].

A stone path leads gently down through a series of clearly artificial stepped terraces to the causeway. A second path leads from the causeway up through the terraces to the northern side of the island.
The terraces may have been small fields or possibly part of a large and elaborate garden but now contain unkempt grasses and scrub. The retaining walls of the terraces look as if they were carved out of the island's bedrock.
A complicated irrigation system feeds them with water from a pond at the top of the terraces.
The path heading to the northern edge of the mountain is noticeably more worn down than the path heading to the southern side.

The terraces were built by the Fay at the same time as the tower, causeway and their subterranean city.

L12. Causeway

The causeway links the tower to the island, and sea lions and seals love to bask on it.

The causeway is clearly artificial. It is perfectly straight and stretches over a mile into the sea. Large, regularly shaped blocks of black stone randomly piled on each other form its bulk, but a level path of crushed stone provides a path along its length.
The path is only 3' above sea level and completely exposed. It would be dangerous to attempt the causeway during a storm.
The causeway is an immense piece of engineering, beyond what can currently be done.
The stone used to build the causeway is not the natural black stone of the island's bedrock.

L13. The Tower

The Tower is the one of the few earthly remains of the ancient, magical empire of the Fay. Positioned at the end of the causeway, it is clearly visible from the west end of the island.

The tower is circular and featureless apart from a doorway at its base and crenellations around the top. It is approximately 100' high and 30' wide.
The doorway at the base of the tower faces along the causeway, towards the island, and is empty - i.e. there is no door in the doorway.
There is something on the roof, possibly a statue, which is hard to make out.

Once the characters are close to near the tower they can make out more details.

The tower is made of black rock, similar to the causeway but noticeably different from the rock elsewhere on the island.
The doorway is small, only 5' high, suggesting a non-human race built the tower.
There are no signs of mortar or joins between blocks, making the tower appear to have been carved from a single piece of stone.

Inside, the tower is a empty shell.

The tower is dark and empty. A narrow staircase spirals up the inside of the tower to a opening in the roof. An opening in the tower's floor givea access to what is presumably the cellar.
The 2' wide staircase is wet, slimy and has no handholds or rail.
The opening in the roof and the floor are both square and suggest they once had trapdoors.
The stairs appear to be an integral part of the tower, with no signs of mortar or joins.
The size of each step in the staircase is small for humans but consistent with a creature which uses a 5' high doorway.

The movement resistance for each 5' square of the staircase is 3 and the total length of the staircase from top-to-bottom is 100' or 20 squares. The movement resistance allows the character to move one square with a mosey action and in narrative play a character may safely but slowly move up and down without difficulty. However, attempting to run on the staircase is dangerous. A character who fails a movement action will slip and fall off the stairs to the ground below.

The Cellar

The cellar is partially flooded.

There are no stairs or ladder going down into the cellar, just a drop into the darkness.
The cellar is 30' across (matching the tower) and there is a 15' drop into water.
The sound of breaking waves and moving water suggests that somehow it is connected to the sea.
The cellar floor is covered in only two feet of water.
A 3' high tunnel runs eastward. Filled with 2' deep water it would be very unpleasant to crawl along.

The cellar and tunnels are the home of a Land Squid that normally feeds on seals, but it appreciates some variety in its diet. It will take a few minutes for the squid to notice the sounds of the party in the tower above, just enough time for some of the party to start climbing the stairs leaving a few choice stragglers at the bottom.

The Land Squid will send tentacles slowly slithering out of the cellar and hope to take the characters by surprise. Any characters climbing the narrow, slippery stairs when the combat starts will count as being busy for determining readiness. The main body of the Land Squid stays completely out of harm's way in the tunnels. Only the 50' long, self-aware tentacles venture out of the waters and into the tower. Each tentacle acts as a separate mook and there are twelve tentacles in total. When several tentacles have been killed (chopped off) the squid gives up and leaves the characters alone.

The Roof

On the flat roof there is a Fay signal beacon.

Rising out of the roof is a brazier which would be visible for many miles when lit. The brazier is made of stone and is an integral part of the tower.
There is a powerful sense of magic about the brazier.
The magic is of some unknown kind, totally alien to anything in the characters' experience.

The beacon is for summoning the Nightship but cannot be used without an enchantment known only to the quorakon [H2]. Any attempts to start a fire in the brazier will be instantly extinguished by the magic. However, with the enchantment anything combustible placed in the brazier will immediately ignite and burn brightly whatever the weather conditions, and for four times as long as normal. At night, the fire has a strange, greenish, ethereal glow to it. See Departure for what happens when the beacon is used.

Note to Game Leaders: If you wish to make life simple for the players and allow them to escape more easily, ignore the need for the enchantment.

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open/oneshots/savage_island/lowerplateau.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/11 11:47 by darth_tigger
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