Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Shattered Aquifer - Part 1

Here's the fluff, map, key, and tables for the Shattered Aquifer of Pythiaria. Part 2 on the Shattered Aquifer will be the way I put it together in play with rolls on the random tables.

HS-11 - The Shattered Aquifer of Pythiaria

Before the cataclysm shattered the Isle of Light a great subterranean, water filled cavern, known as the Aquifer of Pythiaria was hidden below the eastern mountains. Portals to the plane of water opened in its cool darkness and gasses from below the aquifer filled its waters with clouds of tiny bubbles that triggered visions of past and future in the watery creatures that visited its depths. A small group of nereids, calling themselves the Sisters of Pythiaria, took up residence within the aquifer to guard and share the secrets of its bubbling darkness. The sisters tended beds of giant subterranean mussels who's pearls became the cores of mighty water elementals under conditions of such elemental purity.

When the island shattered, much of the aquifer was shattered and thrust upwards with it. The Sisters were able to avoid the destruction, but the vents that produces the prophetic bubbles were lost, and great rivers and falls of lava began to cut through the caverns. A portal to the plane of magma opened beneath one of the falls, and the great magma hydra Sopkatok came through to serve as its guardian. The magma elementals and imps that came through with Sopkatok immediately made war upon the remaining water elementals and the conflict continues to this day. Steam imps crowd along high shelves overlooking the battlefront where the forces of water and magma clash, betting on this ongoing spectacle as the tides turn both for and against the two liquid foes.

The tribe of green lizardmen known as the Goa have long used these caverns and Sopkatok as the ultimate test of strength and ability. Sopkatok is immortal, as all true hydras are, and each Goa warrior yearns to acquire one of his obsidian faceplates and return with it to their home on Northspire Isle. Deep within the cavern is a wall of obsidian, polished to a mirror like finish, that holds a softly glowing claw of ancient mithril. If a Goa places its hand against the wall and speaks the ritual words, their hand passes through the wall and equips the claw. Once equipped, the claw compels the warrior to carve their name into a neighboring wall and fight against the hydra. When the wearer of the claw wins, dies or flees, the claw returns to its resting place and a mark appears by the Goa's name to record the result of the battle. A bar for flight, a circle for death, and a hydra head for victory.

In the final vision before the Aquifer of Pythiaria was destroyed, it was revealed to the Sisters that other nereids had been trapped on the Isle of Light and the coming cataclysm would aid in their release. It was the Sisters of Pythiaria that first pulled Meltalia's nereids from their paintings as the sea swallowed the alabaster cities, and showed them the secret ways to the Crystal Sea Cave. While the nereids no longer consider the shattered aquifer to be their home, they have never abandoned the old nurseries of their allies, and they aid the water elementals in their fight against the encroaching magma and minions of Sopkatok.


The (ugly) map

Squares are 10'

 The Key

1. The Hissing Hallway
Black gravel[floor, basalt, loose], stalactites, stalagmites, rough basalt walls[cracks, numerous], puddles[water, bubbling, steaming], rhythmic hissing[builds to whistling]

Bursts of superheated steam shoot out of cracks in the walls with some frequency. Preceded by high pitched whistling.

2. The Lava Pits
30' drop to lava river. Stalagmites[broken], columns[natural, basalt, fallen, broken, forms natural bridge above lava river], lava river[forks, flows into pits], black island[basalt, at fork in lava river], great sword[thrust into island], skeleton[charred, melted armor, kneeling, grips sword], shimmering[air, heat, dry], lava light

RODERICK (human, paladin, ghost) - Sacrificed himself at this spot. Thrust sword into lava river, forming the fork and island. Enabled his friends to escape. Does not know why he is a ghost. Assumes there is unfinished business but does not know what it is. Cannot leave the aquifer. Possesses a magnificent moustache.

3. The Steaming Battlefield
Cavernous. 50' ceiling[cloaked in steam], battle scarred[ground cracked, stained, small craters], statues[3d6, 3' to 4' tall, obsidian, armored, wings, spectacular helmets, internal glow, faint glow in some], shells[large, fragments, shattered, pearls, crushed], metallic fragments[broken elemental cores]

This is the current front between water and magma.
Statues are "flash frozen" magma imps. Will die if not returned to lava in 1d6 days.

4. The Cloudy Balcony
Appearance from The Steaming Battlefield: sheer cliff[30' high, steam obscures top], noise from above[laughter, cheering, cursing, clattering, jangling]
If you climb up: Tables[10, wood, round, seat 6], chairs[wood, fancy, carved like animals], telescopes[3, tripods, point down to battlefield], bar[shelves, glasses, bottles], hookahs[standing, large, vape not smoke, cold]

One of the most exclusive steam imp joints on Hot Springs Island. Invitation only. Uninvited slow talkers are knocked to the floor with bursts of steam. Steam imps here place bets on the battles between water and magma below their perch. Water and magma are aware of their presence but unconcerned as the steam from their battles birthed many of them to begin with.

5. The Flooded Nurseries
Completely submerged[cold, clear, fresh water], mussels[giant, freshwater, filter feeders, blue glow in some], boulder piles[basalt], bioluminescent algae[blue, throughout], cracks, cave openings[appear to continue deeper into the aquifer]

LEELO (nereid) - One of the original Sisters of Pythiaria. Oversees the birth of new water elementals and serves as resident general in the war against magma. Tight lipped, all business, unconcerned about anything but this battlefront. Kind to water sympathizers.

Giant mussels about to birth water elemental cores replace their flesh with blue energy for 1d4 weeks before the birth.
Water imps have recently arrived to "help". Building pearl shaped homes among the boulder piles. Leelo is patient but unconvinced.

6. Black Glass Overlook
Cavernous. 50' ceilings. Stalactites[lumpy, oddly sharp], gashes[floor, large, numerous, uneven footing, claw marks(?)], rubble[strewn about, lumpy, cooled lava, broken stalactites], columns[basalt, natural, fallen, form bridges over lava river]

Goa tend to fight Sopkatok in this area.
Sopkatok visits this area to stretch, scratch and breathe lava at the ceiling to make obsidian stalactite "art".

7. The Mithril Claw
Blue-green glow, obsidian pillar[radiates ancient magic, apparently unbreakable, transparent, reflective], silvery gauntlet[in the obsidian pillar, mithril, bracer, five articulated claws]

8. The Wall of Names
Goa runes cover a 20' to 30' section of basalt wall.

9. The Melted Nursery
Black gravel, basalt boulders, shells[giant mussel, shattered, encased in black rock], lava river[laps at black gravel, grey crust, lava light]

10. The Glass Ossuary
Normal cave structures but all transparent black obsidian. Gashes, cracks, rips, bones[impossibly encased in obsidian, jumbled, ogre, human, salamander, lizardman, numerous], stalactites[obsidian, sharp], human shaped hole in wall[as if someone was encased but walked out], leather belt[partially encased in obsidian, undamaged]

Sopkatok buries mortals here by encasing them in obsidian. Is highly selective in his choices, but they make no sense to mortals. Tries to avoid fighting here as it damages the glass, but won't hesitate if challenged here.

11. Lava Pool and Fall
30' lava fall. Lava pool swirls like a whirlpool.

Sopkatok lives here. Portal to plane of magma at center of whirlpool.


Roll What's happening in the Shattered Aquifer?
3 Magma imps have been commissioned by Svarku to make armor for Fuegonauts. BLACK GLASS OVERLOOK repurposed.
4 The paladin's skeleton is missing. Sopkatok is furious.
5 The unborn water elemental cores in THE FLOODED NURSERIES vanished last night.
6 Magma is winning the war! THE STEAMING BATTLEFIELD is cracking and crumbling into a new lava river.
7 A Goa is about to fight Sopkatok. 1d6 Arva are hiding nearby and plan to disrupt the combat.
8 A Goa battles Sopkatok. The caverns tremble with their combat.
9 1d4+2 adventurers are here to steal flash frozen magma imp "statues" from THE STEAMING BATTLEFIELD.
10 The forces of magma and water clash at THE STEAMING BATTLEFIELD.
11 The forces of magma and water have declared a temporary ceasefire.
12 Steam imps are hosting a prize fight at the STEAMING BATTLEFIELD during a ceasefire.
13 A Goa is here to ensure the test is in working order, record names on the wall and recover any Goa corpses or body parts.
14 2d4 Night Axe are here to train with the forces of water.
15 Water is winning the war! THE STEAMING BATTLEFIELD and MAGMA PITS are flooded.
16 Sopkatok and the paladin's ghost are at the MAGMA PITS conversing on the nature of honor and sacrifice.
17 Svarku and entourage (3d10 Fuegonauts) are here to try and enlist Sopkatok to their cause.
18 An emissary from the plane of water has arrived to check on the status of the war.

Roll Encounter Motivation
3 1d4 Salamander Tricksters, 1d4 Salamander Warriors Delivery
4 A Kiru Shaman Social/Creative
5 1d4+2 Adventurers Fighting*
6 A Steam Imp Interacting With*
7 A Magma Imp Laboring/Nesting
8 A Magma Elemental Returning Home
9 A Goa Hiding/Sneaking
10 3d6 Magma Imps Setting up an ambush
11 1d6+1 Water Imps, 1d6+1 Water Elementals Patrolling
12 A Goa Wounded
13 A Water Elemental Ritual
14 2d4+3 Water Imps Territorial Display
15 4d6 Steam Imps Waiting
16 An Earth Imp Lost
17 A nereid Dying
18 2d4+1 Night Axe Diplomacy



When the Aquifer of Pythiaria shattered with the cataclysm, massive pockets of magma trapped in the layers of stone above cracked open and spilled forth their contents. As the lava falls consumed the sacred elemental water, a portal to the plane of magma opened at their confluence and through it came Sopkatok.

As an elemental creature of magma, 60' in length and 20' high at the shoulder, Sopkatok spends most of his time submerged within the whirlpool beneath the falls. When he emerges from the pool obsidian plates immediately crystallize upon his molten form. This can cause him to appear dramatically different each time he appears and he can be surprisingly particular about the crystallization patterns. If plates form in an uninteresting or unflattering manner he will submerge those parts so they can recrystallize more pleasingly.

While Sopkatok leaves the patterns of his rocky skin to the fractals of chance, he requires consistent grandeur from his obsidian faceplates. Swarms of attendant magma imps descend upon his molten heads each time he surfaces and three to five imps can construct an acceptable faceplate in as little as 30 seconds. The hydra will frequently utilize speedy faceplate changes in combat to both rearmor himself and make it seem like he has more than four heads. Because of the flurry of magma imps that descend upon the whirlpool at each of Sopkatok's emergences, some adventurers who have witnessed the event and lived possess an unnatural fear of magma imps believing them to merge together into monstrosities when threatened.

What does Sopkatok want?
  • To guard the portal, and ensure only the worthy pass through
  • To win every engagement against the Goa and help them thin out their weaklings. He is proud of every Goa who defeats him though, and never forgets them.
  • For others to experience his magnificence
  • To better understand the selfless acts of mortals [see "Else"]
  • To continue the ancient and honorable war against water
  • The safe return of his "frozen" magma imps

What does Sopkatok NOT want?
  • For his true name to be widely known or used in vain. He currently loves the way the name "Meltarg" causes lava to dribble from his jaws as he says it.
  • To lose ground in the war against water
  • To see his imp's cores permanently destroyed
  • For his imps to associate with combustarinos
  • For Molotek to wake up
  • To leave this plane
  • For the interesting things that have been happening on the island to stop

What else?
  • Like all true hydras Sopkatok is immortal. One of his heads will never die. In combat, if one of his faceplates is removed, or if he takes substantial damage he will usually just allow his body to melt and flow back to the whirlpool where he will be rebuilt by his imps at a later time.
  • Some say Sopkatok himself is the actual portal to the plane of magma, and you must allow him to consume you in order to travel. He finds this to be hilarious.
  • Some say Sopkatok isn't from the plane of magma at all, claiming he is actually a serpent at the core of the world that eternally wrestles Molotek.
  • Goa are the only ones who currently know Sopkatok's true name and they guard this information closely.
  • It is unclear what or who exactly started the contest between the Goa and Sopkatok utilizing the ancient mithril claw. Neither side speaks of the event's history openly, but both sides deeply respect and honor the tradition, killing any who disparage it.
  • Recently (within the past 100 years or so), Sir Roderick Feltower sacrificed himself to allow his comrades to escape from the Shattered Aquifer. Holy power split the lava river and his kneeling skeleton, clutching a two handed holy sword, can be seen to this day. Intrigued by the self-sacrifice, Sopkatok had his imps preserve the paladin's bones with a veneer of obsidian.


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