[Age of Dusk] Sample Hex Encounters

Digging through my notes I have found myself some sample Hex encounters I made for Age of Dusk. I envision the campaign to have a strong sandbox component, for which interesting Hex Crawl locations are an absolute neccesity.

Village of 231 identical male humans. They are friendly and will receive visitors. They have been spawned by a bloated magical monstrosity (8 HD) that serves as their living incubator. While they are not aggressive (though they may defend themselves if provoked), they are carriers of a contagious disease that is deadly to all humans not spawned from the womb-creature. The inhabitants are unaware of this fact. The womb-creature is perceived as the mother of the whole village and every man will lay down his life to defend it.

-Near the village. A band of 15 hunters(lvl 1 fighters) hunts down and kills any of the duplicates that try to leave the village, burning the bodies. They are convinced the duplicates are evil spirits and will consider anyone who tries to protect them an enemy. They wear jewellery of carved bone, and their long and bitter ordeal has hardened their hearts. Their leader(Ftr 3) carries an ornate Sybaran Khopesh sword+2 that detects living creatures by allowing the wielder to unerringly perceive their heartbeat within 60 feet.

In the jungles of Gyrr live the cannibal-witches of Jegrek , who interbreed with the ape-men that serve their every whim and whose drug-fuelled forays into other worlds and human sacrifices are all that keep the N’Kra from leaving its subterranean lair. Any progeny from their liasons with the ape-men is given to the N’Kra.

-A pylon upon the highest peak of the Glass Mountains gives detailed instructions in High Sybarran to contact the unfathomable energy beings that cavort amidst the dying sun. A body made of meteoric iron must be prepared in order to communicate with it. If the ritual is successfully conducted, it will inhabit the body for 3 turns, and consent to answer questions(as automatic commune) or alter reality(as wish), but it will demand payment in the form of objects of sorcery, beautiful songs or dances(-6 penalty to impress it) or plentiful sacrifices of unusual beauty and intelligence for each action. It will ask this only after it has performed the miracle, and refusing it will provoke its wrath. 15 HD creature.

-The Pit of Sheol: Part prison and part mythical underworld, the Pit was made in a forgotten epoch when men saw fit to rid the world of the curse of sorcery once and for all. Sorcerers powerful and mundane alike were put to the torch in such numbers the winds whispered of their agonies and tasted of their ashes. Those who could not truly die were instead imprisoned within the unearthly geometries of the pit, there to languish away the long aeons until Final Night.
Their gaoler and tormentor, a squamous amalgamation of mummified knight-flesh(12 HD) that flows like water at its whim, still dwells within the pit, ready to slay all that brave its narrow stairways and fell enchantments. Its hundreds of mouths spit curses and castigations in languages long dead, and its hundred hands still wield their ancient blades with deadly skill.Those that slay its guardian and know of the means to contact these vestiges can bargain for knowledge of many ancient rituals and sorceries, though the price is inevitably that one of them is released.

-(Ruin) Two massive pillars amidst a burnt out pile of rubble is all that remains of this once great library. Hidden amongst the rubble is a partially burnt copy of the Perpetual Tome. Anyone reading it must succeed at a save vs spell or be compelled to copy the Perpetual Tome until they eventually perish. The copies will have the same effect. The victim will react with violence to any attempts to prevent him from completing this work, or destroying the tome. A remove curse will cancel this effect.

-A band of 12 Laughing Knights is torturing a bound wizard. If the party decides to rescue him and succeeds, the Wizard will teach them a secret path through the Crystal Mountains, allowing one to bypass most of the horrors that live there.

-The giant, severed head of a deity protrudes from the wastes near the Tempest. Within its mouth live 2 giant schorpions, gorged on the flesh of deities, horribly mutated.

-(near Aepex Stalk): A village of Aepex simulacra carries out its existence in pantomime of a normal human village. Subtle details make no sense, the shopkeeper gives money to people that purchase his objects, when unobserved simulacra communicate by merging faces together, simulacra ask bizarre questions or resort to murderous violence over perceived insults or compliments etc. If the players ever return, the village is exclusively populated by their duplicates.

-Within the Valley of Kuroj, two undying sorcerors(the brothers Y’Thra and T’Ryha wiz 12/12) wage war upon eachother. The surrounding lands have long been depleted of iron and wood and their towers are little more then ruins, so both have resorted to illusions to fight their wars. For centuries, illusionary soldiers inflicted illusionary damage upon illusionary cities. The brothers will attempt to enlist any travellers into their long war, promising illusionary treasures.

– Old hall(ruin). A blade of purest starmetal pierces the stone chair within, pinning the decaying corpse of an ancient king to his throne. His finery, though tarnished with long ages, is still worth 5000 gp, but the blade is cursed. It functions as an intelligent sword of lifestealing+2, but compels its owner to seek out and murder the nearest ruler over at least 500 people(functions as a geas). It can be compelled or reasoned with to change its target to a different king, but it will always compel its wielder to slay a king.
Only after the blade has taken the life of a king or queen can the owner choose to relinquish it, though it may be kept until all kings are dead or the wielder inevitably dies in battle.

-Old Sybaran keep. The twitching of the tapestry of sorcery has transported it from its home long aeons ago into the Age of Dusk. Its inhabitants still uphold the culture of the Sybaran Empire and are desperately trying to figure out what has gone wrong. They have been unable to send a courier to other fortresses because of a band of Kiath roaming its periphery and are running out of stores.  150 warriors led by a lvl 5 ftr.

-The ancient sons of Silur, warrior-adepts and philosophers all, perished before the onslaught of the Harrow Kings. A blasted wasteland with a single banner still aloft is all that remains. Any who pick over the ruins find 3d% sp per hour and 3d10 gp per hour, but anyone who searches for more then two hours will be attacked by the spectres of the sons of Silur. Not content with merely destroying them, the Harrow kings bound them to the site of their last battle, there to serve as a warning for all who seek to oppose them. All who fall to their spectral blades become part of this spectral host. Destroying the banner with a remove curse or sorcerous weapon prevents them from animating, but the gold and silver will be destroyed also. A ritual to employ the banner to control the Sons is described within the Jagged Tower of N’Laath.

-The Resounding City: A remnant of the time before Sybarra brought great peace and prosperity to the world and unified it within its iron grip, the Resounding city predates even Ion. Its vile inhabitants eventually perished under the weight of their own corruption. Vile ghost-things now lurk within its plague-haunted obsidian halls, ruled over by a court of spectral aristocrats unwilling to accept their reign has long ended.
The Harrow-kings were obsessed with the Resounding City, though its location was never discovered. Some whisper the last Harrow King found it, and that it was the reason for his demise.

– (The Algae mudflats) – The marshlands bordering the Hungry Sea are infested with algae and all manner of microscopic lifeforms. Prospectors risk all manner of horrid rotting diseases if they traverse these lands. All but the Giant Sea Crocodiles are consumed within minutes of immersing themselves within the water. One pool in the heart of a ruined watchtower is said to not merely break down people but store their sentience. A spellcaster of 7th level or higher can learn how to resurrect anyone that has been given to the pool within 1 day per level of the spellcaster after they have perished, though there is a possibility of dangerous side effects.

-(Ruin) A ruined temple to a long forgotten god is home to 115 madmen, loons, village idiots and creatures of similar ilk. They are watched over by the Caretaker, a 5 HD Laprey-like creature with 8 crab legs and 4 arms that end in long, sharp spines. The Caretaker sings to the madmen and provides them with fresh meat, which it hunts and kills. The meat is not always animal meat.

-Forest. Near the Glass Mountains is a petrified forest. The forest is home to a tribe of hunter-gatherers who have not changed their ways since the Calamity. They hunt the forest’s inexhaustible population of giant centipedes and carnivorous antelopes for sustenance, but are themselves hunted by a Great Crystalline Deer(8 HD), whose antlers pierce steel and whose breath is like a polar ice wind.

-Cavern. The Revelation of Unpleasant Truths is giant sized 6-clawed schorpion that can use illusions and telepathy to appear as a beautiful woman. Desperate men seek it out in exchange for boons. Those who fail to correctly answer its riddles are devoured, or sometimes geassed to kill the person they hold most dear. Those who answer its riddles correctly are granted a limited wish, but only once. Those who attempt again will be attacked even if they complete the riddle, though for their hubris, they will be unable to move in the first 3 rounds. The Revelation uses the bodies of these braves to incubate her young.

-Gateway to the Citadel of the Omnarch: Within the Glass wastes can be found a tunnel leading to a long-forgotten shrine. Within the shrine lies an ancient space-faring vessel. Appearing like a long-hull of distressingly organic bone and squid-like flesh, dripping with condensation and mucus, the vessel may be activated by throwing no less then 4 HD worth of creatures into its fanged lamprey-like maw. The ship will then carry all aboard to the forgotten planetoid-citadel of the Omnarch.
A wizard-tyrant of terrible prowess, the Omnarch sought to conquer the very stars and remake creation in his own image. Brought down by a Nameless adversary from the interstellar darkness between the stars, the Omnarch was eventually undone and has long since been forgotten. Upon the airless wasteland, haunted by star-daemons that drink the warmth from a man’s veins, stands his citadel, moulded in the image of his own face, inhabited by loathsome quicksilver shapechangers, golden automatons made in his image, and the spawn of the Nameless thing from beyond the stars. Its vaults are filled with coins, golden statuary and gemstones carved in his likeness, as well as booty from a thousand distant worlds. But all that glitters is not gold, and inscribed upon walls plated in alien metal is the message that the Omnarch will return.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “[Age of Dusk] Sample Hex Encounters

  1. Good work, all of these sound interesting. I don’t know what system you intend to run here but assuming OSR most of these encounters sound very tough, some bordering on plain old DM horseshit (or endgame content if you like euphemisms). I’d consider some kind of scaling for these encounters because for your average murderhobos the likely outcomes of most will be either to run away or get TPK.

    Neither of those consequences are particularly interesting to me when they are consequence of random encounters or exploring although they can be completely valid when players get a heads up. I doubt I would find them enjoyable unless I’m playing with a party of PC’s at least level 3 or 4. A group of very experienced and crafty players who have rolled insane charisma could also work. Maybe.

    Alternatively run it in 5e and watch your 12 laughing knights melt in 3 rounds.

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    1. [encounters]

      I’m guessing most encounters are survivable from the 3rd level onward, lower if the party takes adequate precautions (Gal’Alorian Mercenary bodyguards for example). I’d probably intermix stuff like this with somehat more vanilla but still interesting encounters. I think most of the adventure outlines I’ve made for Age of Dusk are doable for 1st-5th level, given adequate mercenaries and attainable goals.

      Run away or TPK is shit. Although i will say Run away keeps players on their toes and prevents them from devolving into automatic agression. Gotta keep that flight response trained. You will find most of these encounters/hooks are most effective if telegraphed somewhat in advance, thus incentivising exploration/interaction and preparation (i.e the meat and bones of DnD).

      [5e]

      Great Azatoth help us.

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  2. These are quite nice. They do seem ‘off’ to me though, on first impression, but I can’t quite decide why.

    Usually, in hex crawls, it’s because of verbs/interactivity, but I’m not sure that’s the case here. In any event, let me talk out of my ass and I’ll crumble on any pushback.

    The knight/wizard thing is good, it’s clearly targeted at some pretext for interaction (or lack thereof) and hooks/consequences either way. The god head/scorpion thing is quite cool imagery, but is more like it’s something that just EXISTS. I’m a dummy in hex crawls, but it would seem like it needs just one more sentence to give it the same sort of interactivity?

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    1. Actual constructive criticism? Scandalous!

      I might be erring on both sides of the specificity spectrum by giving at times too much detail while keeping it too broad. Similarly, your warning bells might result from your latent (now thankfully mostly excised) storygamer genes, detecting some sort of thematic incoherence or artistic faux pas. I will contemplate this on the tree of woe.

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