A long time ago I wrote a post about Dyson´s Dodecahedron, the pretty maps he provides there (for personal use, and some even for commercial use as well) and about his tutorials. Today, I finally made use of it. Month ago I bought myself two felt-tip markers and a pad with blank papers. And never used them, because I am lazy and I feared that it would be time-consuming to draw a map instead of using my computer to “draw” something. Well, today I proofed myself wrong (see picture).
My first map is for sure not a beauty, but it is functional, it looks unique and it wasn´t really time-consuming to draw it. In fact, I was surprised how quickly I was able to create it. No ruler was involved, I just had put a sheet of paper with squares under the white paper I drew upon (to have some “reference”).
So, what is this? This a hidden underground summoning chamber that I use(d) in a FATE(tm) game I am currently running (where the players are 15th century English witch-finders in an alternate history of my own design). The entrance to it was hidden in the altar in a chapel of a very old noble estate: treads led down a bricked shaft and into a tunnel that ended in front of a derelict wooden door with iron work. In a little niche to the left of it a next to burned down candle rested in a tin holder.
Disclaimer for my players: KEEP OUT!
The whole place is only faintly lit by torches that rest in iron mountings at the sides of the support pillars in each room. The corridors are shrouded in darkness, as is the small irregular shaped chamber that may be entered through the second room: this is the Chamber of the Ancestors. Torches rest in the mounts here as well, but have not been lit. The whole arrangement was part of a ritual: the first two chambers are forecourts for the summoning chamber at the end of the stairs. Two victims have been sacrificed in each of the rooms, their bones still lying at the feet of the pillars, under the chains the used to bound them in place. The third room is in the straight line is the Summoning Chamber. Here, one of the antagonists of my adventure (a sorceress) performs sinister rituals to harness the power of the other-world and to bind entities not from this world (and who should not be called upon by men). The Chamber of the Ancestors contains the skulls of the late warlocks of the sorceress´bloodline, each in a niche, so that their ghosts my be called forth to commune with them.
During our last sessions, the heroes passed through the forecourts as they followed the sound of chants, and put two undead to final rest that used to be their comrades. They faced the sorceress in the Summoning Chamber and ended her life before she was able to end her ritual. They think it is over now, and that they just need to wrap up. I ended the last session there.
Next session will begin with the now dispersing arcane energies of the interrupted ritual waking up the ghosts of the ancestors whose skulls are kept. The ghosts of the warlocks will want to take vengeance for what the PC did. Spectral winds will come up and extinguish all torches, plunging the rooms into darkness. Only the Amulet of the Sorceress will glow with a strong, blue hue (but I guess my players will be very reluctant to have their PC´s pick it up). The skulls of the ancestors will float about, wail madding and curse the PC. All the while, the dead will raise anew to kill the living. The scene is meant to make the PC flee instead of fighting all the skulls and the undead, so they may try to if they wish. As at least the undead and ancestral ghosts will try to harm the PC, I will play this as a conflict scene (and hey, is there a better way to get your gaming group back into the game then to throw them into a conflict right at the start?).
Environment and zones: as already mentioned, the spectral winds will have extinguished all torches and thereby shrouded the underground chambers into darkness. Characters may try to light a torch again, but due to the spectral winds a character that wishes to do so will either gain a Fate Point for failing at the attempt or will have to spend a Fate Point to succeed at it. As all of this are unnatural phenomena that start right after a summoning has been interrupted, the overall atmosphere is baleful. The large pillars in the rooms may or may not play a role during the conflict.
# each room will be zone
# each stair set will be a zone
# each corridor will be a zone
A lot more zones than the core rules suggest for a conflict, but I want the characters to either flee or to put up a fighting retreat. In addition, the stairs will be a special zone: moving from one into the next adjacent zone on the exchange is a fair(+2) Athletics feat (Overcome). The characters do not know it, but once they are behind the door that led into these chambers, they will be safe from the supernatural elements that the interrupted ritual unleashed.
In the room in the middle, two undead skeletons (nameless NPC) will have risen and attack the characters. They will use the darkness to their advantage (each will have a free invoke). Another two will be waiting in the other room, but the corpses of their former comrades will have been reanimated again as well (same stats, but two more stress boxes).
Skills: Fight(+2); Atheltics (+1)
Stress: [_] (or [_] [_] [_])
The real danger comes from the possessed warlock skulls (good faceless NPC). Their screams and wailing threatens to drive those who hear mad, as their voices echo within the soul. Two will animate at the beginning of the conflict, and another one at the end of the next five exchanges (a total of seven, so there are much more skulls). They can fly, and will thereby have no problem passing over the stairs zones.
Aspects: Flying Skulls; Possessed by a Warlock ghost
Skills: Provoke (+3); Will (+2);
Stress: [_] [_] [_]
Screams, Wails and Curses: The Skulls may use Provoke to Attack mentally. They may even use this attack against opponents more than one zone away, but get a (-1) penalty for every further zone.
If the PC did not take the Amulet of the Sorceress off her corpse, her body will reanimate as well after five exchanges. She will have the same stats and abilities as the skulls, but will be able to take a mild consequence and will be able to use Lore (+3) to create advantages via witchcraft or to use it for attacks (basically, throwing the characters around).
Winning & Conceding the conflict: The undead that have been unleashed are mad and vengeful. As long as the characters resist, they will try to harm and kill them. At some point, the ghosts will simply fade and the undead will de-animate again. A character that concedes may just cower in a corner and beg for his or her live… or just suffer a nervous break-down and whimper. Sooner or later, the mental onslaught will become to much for the PC and he or she will just black out.
Any character that concedes this way will be broken and cursed: the character will not refresh Fate Points till the end of the story (and will thereby have to rely on compels to regain Fate Points )
I am looking forward to my players reaction to this opening 🙂