Murkvey Rock (Cairn OSR PbP)
- 1 Game Links
- 2 Murkvey's Rock
- 2.1 Game Rules
- 2.2 Implied Setting
- 2.3 The Painted Frontier, The Vale of Serpents
- 2.4 Scarlet Town
- 2.5 Murkvey's Rock
- 2.6 Adipose Mab
- 2.7 Player Characters
- 2.8 Maps
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.
- Torches can be bundled 4 per inventory slot
- Coins can be bundled 100 per inventory slot
- Gems - it depends on the size: anywhere from 1 to 10 gems per inventory slot
Veils & Lines
- The following are Lines for this game:
- No harm to children depicted in game, or even referenced as having happened 'off screen'
- No 'under the skin' horror, especially with bugs, to be depicted in game or referenced having happened 'off screen'
- No gratuitous blood spatter / results of violence depicted in game
- The following are Lines for this game:
- The following are Veils for this game:
- No direct depictions of disease effect, but it's okay to reference disease as long as its not described
- No direct depictions of physical romance, but referring to it having happened "off screen" is ok
- The following are Veils for this game:
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.
- What the greenhorns learned on the way to the rock
- Crystal Tombs fall from the sky, streaking across the night every few months. Only a few have “voids”—the hollows where Occuliths and other treasures are found.
- Tomb Crystal, the main material of the tombs is magically poisonous, but only when it’s shattered. The dust will root in flesh, propagating more crystals and slowly killing those it infects, finally turning them into Lith Wights.
- Gemcutters like Flash find the natural fracture X lines in Tomb Crystal and facet them to safety open them for exploration.
- Occuliths are Tomb Crystal shards that absorb ambient magic, and can be instilled with magical knowledge. The bigger and brighter the Occulith, the greater its potency.
- Get used to eating prickly pear and fatback. The earth of the Painted Frontier is dead. Cactus, briar weed, and lichen are the only things besides hogs that grow well, but desperate settlers still try to farm it—most have Crystal Poisoning to some degree or another.
- What the greenhorns learned on the way to the rock
- A wiry, weatherworn woman in her late 30’s with greasy brown hair and black grit in the lines of her face, Mab looks little like a scholar.
- She prefers to think of herself as an explorer and tomb robber— though she’s never worn the guild’s stone skull mask. A canny researcher and decent leader, Mab uses her knowledge of the Crystal Tombs to take a slice of others’ labor.
- Her terms are harsh, but she doesn’t cheat her employees, and is willing to work amicably with others because of her conviction that she’ll always be able to find another site to plunder, or angle to exploit. Mab wants to be rich, and she is by Crystal Frontier standards, but still far too poor for a retirement in cosmopolitan Geth.
- Mab is regularly accompanied by her personal gemcutter Flash, their bodyguards Kotto and Carrow (muscular soldier types), and half a dozen thugs.
The Greenhorn Deal
- Mab takes two or three expeditions of greenhorns a year out into the wastes - funding the expedition and providing gear to the would-be tomb robbers.
- Mab expects the party to abide by their agreement and turn over the treasure they discover to her. When they first return to the surface, she’ll ask what they found before throwing down the rope. When she does lower the rope, she’ll instruct the party to send their packs up first. While the party makes the ascent she will search the packs, and collect any treasures within.
- Party scouts and explores Murkvey’sRock and reports back to Mab. They can enter or exit whenever they want, but will turn all treasure they find over to Mab and give her a map and description of the tomb.
- When the Party has scouted enough of the Rock for Mab to take over exploring Mab will consider the deal satisfied and can leave with their equipment.
- If Party has delivered at least 2,000 GP worth of treasure Mab will give them a bonus of 500 GP and a map with locations of other potential treasure sites.
- If the Party wants to continue exploring after scouting, Mab will reward them with 25% of the value they turn over, and let them keep any non-treasure items they find (magic items) except Occuliths, which she will keep.
- GM Note: there's a TON of treasure in this tomb, depending on the thoroughness and cleverness of the explorers - so while the terms of the deal are harsh, there's still a lot of treasure to be had and kept. Also, just because your characters agreed to this deal heading out to the tomb, doesn't mean they have to honor that agreement.
Creagle Loomer (tibbius)
A stout and weathered mercenary. He has oily hair and a sunken face. He speaks cryptically (gahd I'm going to get to hate this guy). He wears frayed clothing and is disciplined, but anxious. He's got a reputation as a witty entertainer, once people figure out his sideways jokes. His wealthy parents disowned him, which is why he became a mercenary.
He wears brigandine (body 1+2), a crowbar (hand 1 / backpack 1), a few pieces of chalk and a deck of cards (backpack 2), rations including a waterskin (backpack 3), and four torches (backpack 4). By the entrance he leaves a pick, a mace, and 56 gold coins.
Beatrice Malksmilk (tibbius)
Bloody clothing, ambitious, bitter, honest reputation, and exiled. A smuggler.
WIL ... and 3
Beatrice has chain mail (body 1+2), a shield (hand 1 / "backpack" 1), a sword (hand 2 / body 3), grease and twin (backpack 2), four torches (backpack 3), and rations including a waterskin (backpack 4). By the entrance, she leaves her manacles as well as the mule and cart.
Beatrice and Gerald's Mule and Cart
The cart has the pole and the tent (both bulky). The mule who pulls the cart is carrying 12 days of rations, quill & ink, and a cudgel -- and 8 gold coins.
Gruwth Weaver (NoxLives)
Stout physique, pockmarked skin, curly hair, and a sunken face. With a booming voice and filthy clothing, he is both serene and nervous. His reputation as an entertainer suffered after he had the misfortune of being discredited as an herbalist.
Backpack: (5/6) Rations (3 days); Torch; Large Trap; Drill; Empty Bottle.
Hands: (1/2) Mace (d8)
Upper Body: (2/2) Plate Armor (3 armor, bulky)
Mule: (4/6) Crowbar, Hammer, Rations (3 days)
Anchored at tomb entrance Rope (25ft)