Murkvey Rock (Cairn OSR PbP)
Roaring across the night, falling sky palaces crater the broken land in the shadow of the Maiden's Teeth mountains. Cracked and shattered on these painted badlands, fragments from beyond the fixed stars leach magical esters through the tormented earth, corrupting life and spreading crystalline contagion. Yet the ruined edifices of vibrant crystal hold wealth and power to lure foolish and desperate fortune seekers to test fate on the Painted Frontier.
The game will be played using Cairn.
Cairn is an OSR adjacent roleplaying game described thusly:
- Cairn is an adventure game about exploring a dark & mysterious Wood filled with strange folk, hidden treasure, and unspeakable monstrosities. Character generation is quick and random, classless, and relies on fictional advancement rather than through XP or level mechanics. It is based on Knave by Ben Milton and Into The Odd by Chris McDowall. The game was written by Yochai Gal.
During this adventure, the game won't leave the Painted Frontier, Scarlet Town, and Murkvey's Rock.
Overall, this regional locale exists nominally within the setting described in The Nightmares Underneath.
The lands of Alabaster & Frankincense are introduced thusly:
- The Kingdoms of Dreams are many and varied, but all have one thing in common: the triumph of Law over Chaos. In every kingdom, the Law reigns supreme. Civilization has pushed out the uncertainties of lawlessness and the violence of disorder. Are these kingdoms really dreams? Are they mere fancies, fairy kingdoms of shadow and gossamer? Each one might seem strange to outsiders, but their people are content to live under the protection of the Law.
- The Law grants two main advantages to the kingdoms who follow it that make them so blessed (although of course these two go hand-in-hand): the celebration of reason and the condemnation of idolatry. Just as it is every individual’s duty and honour to lend aid to that which is good and cast out that which is evil, so too must a society let flourish what makes it stronger, and root out the corruption that would debase it.
- Rejoice, comrades! For the Age of Chaos is ended! We walk in the light of Creation, which now may fall across the entire face of this Earth. Truly, this is the greatest of times in which to live.
- Geth by the Salt Sea
- While all the people of the only province of the Highland Coast that is actually on the coast consider themselves inhabitants of Geth, foreigners only think of the city when they hear that name. The great metropolis of Geth—which either borrows its name from this land or lends it, no one knows—stretches its fingers across vast oceans, overshadowing the dull but bountiful lands that surround it.
- Though the Highland Coast has never been a centre of legal scholarship, Geth has become preeminent amongst the Kingdoms of Dreams. This great mercantile empire serves as a model for others who seek to retain their unique cultural history even as they abandon their gods, for who has more history than Geth? If anyone knows anything, they know that this city is older than time itself.
- Once, in ages now long passed, a verdant river did flow to the east of Geth, through a magnificent valley all the way to the sea. It was home to a powerful empire—a veritable font of conquest—and poor, little Geth was merely one of many sea ports ferrying tribute toward its greedy mouth. But Geth was older by far than its overlords, and Geth waited, ever so patiently, until one day the earth did shake and heave, and the city was freed from bondage. Now that mighty river runs to the west of Geth, and to the east there is only the Vale of Serpents, a land that boasts of demon-haunted tombs instead of water, buried gold instead of crops, and death instead of life.
- But there is life enough in Geth. It is now one of the preeminent mercantile empires of the modern era. Its ships dominate the Middle Sea, trading with lawful kingdoms far to the east and west. Gethian ships even frequent those barbarian ports to the north, where the tenets of the Law are known, but idolatry has not yet been abandoned. A so-called “Church of Law” struggles to bring light and warmth to a land where ignorance lies as heavy as the frost, but the merchants of Geth are loath to scoff at profit even when their charity is refused.
The Painted Frontier, The Vale of Serpents
- To the east of Geth there lies a wide badlands valley in the midst of a barren desert. It is shunned by all reasonable people, as there are only two reasons to go there: to loot the ancient, demon-haunted crystal tombs of the Empyrean sorcerer-kings who ruled these lands in the Age of Chaos, or to die trying. This is the Vale of Serpents, the Painted Frontier, a land once known for its rich, black soil and its decadent, crystalline cities. But where the river used to run in days gone by, only sand and rock and crystal dust remains.
- But there are riches, still. They pull at the greed inside the souls of men. They serve as anchors for the nightmare realm’s incursions. And then those nightmares grow unchecked in this graveyard of empires, feeding on the fates of tomb robbers too foolish not to fight amongst themselves and so let death divide the spoils. Never turn your back on this land, or the thieves you go there with, before you know you are safe.
- An expanse of shocking red earth stains the Frontier’s Southeastern vastness. It’s not the vermilion and orange of laterite, nor the purplish pink of bauxite, but an unnatural and vibrant scarlet from rotten crystal. Atop the sanguinary earth and beneath a cliff of red rock is Scarlet Town. The only settlement on the Painted Frontier worthy of a name. It is a boom town, a vice town. It’s where mule trains stop to buy Occuliths in the spring before the dust storms and killing heat; and again in autumn before the frosts, but after the mudslides. Tents, hovels, and hog pens boil outwards from a scant fifty buildings of rammed red earth. The only civilized structures are the Speculator’s Hostel, built of imported wood, and the crystal block edifice of the Allotrope’s Tabernacle. The tent city bustles with a mix of gold-hungry dispossessed Gem Robbers, merchants, speculators, and con-artists who are all both predator and prey.
- Murkvey stumbled across a small tomb fortress of the Empyrean people: nomads of the celestial spheres who wage war constantly over the resources of the fixed stars. They ride the vasty deeps in magical crystal palaces, which also serve as their tombs. In death, the Empyrean nobility are sealed in their homes and sent on a final journey which sees them plummet to a holy point on the dreaded terrestrial orb: the Painted Frontier.
- Murkvey was a well-known Gem Robber, a decent cutter, poor prospector, and the head of a cheery band of cutthroats. Six months ago he and his “Priest's Children rushed out of Scarlet Town whooping that they’d return richer than the old Emperor—they never did. Adipose Mab has somehow acquired a map that she claims leads to Murkvey’s last find. That is the party’s destination.