DARK TIMES CYCLE
Peaceful times can’t last forever. Unexpected wars will take thousands of lives in a couple of days. The great storm will make huge kingdoms starve. The curses sent by the gods will change the ordinary life for hundreds of years, destroying families, communities, and nations. But even in such dark times, there are those who want more. They are ready to lead the others. They know that it can’t end like this.
The Dark Times cycle will provide players and GMs with three regions that suffer from various disasters. Adventures can make them fight and go into great battles, force them to defend, search for resources, gather allies, and prepare for upcoming attacks.
It’s up to you to decide what happens in your campaign.
INTO THE UNKNOWN ADVENTURE
Heroes come to their senses on an unfamiliar island in the stormy waters. The sea will not be quiet for a very long time. People are wounded and sick; food reserves are running out, and someone is watching the camp from the thick forest every night. Someone should go to the depths of the island, through the dense fog, towards the unknown. Someone should find the source of a strange sound coming from the volcano in its center.
ISLAND OF FOG
There are not many people who know about the foggy island. Even experienced sailors who heard the stories of its existence try not to mention it, as it’s a bad omen.
Rumors. The stories about the island are controversial, scary, and full of hints. The pages torn out from the diary of a renowned voyager tell about a strange place full of tenebrous fog, appearing in certain circumstances at a certain time. A mad sailor will speak of a terrible rumble that can be heard in the open waters. An old captain, holding firmly the symbol of his deity in his hand, will quietly talk about the beautiful singing that he sometimes heard in the ocean. It fogs the mind, leading ships into unknown waters where they perish. A visionary at the mountain’s top will only warn of the “giant monster”, silently waiting for its victims.
Journey into the unknown. Whatever heroes know about the island, one thing is certain – they need to get there. What could make them go on such a risky journey?
PURPOSE OF THE JOURNEY
|Missing ship with a character that is important for the heroes.
|Search for a rare ingredient that will save the life of someone who the heroes care about.
|Personal order of the king.
|Search for the island as punishment for crimes.
|Without purpose – everything happened by accident.
Having equipped the ship and having found an experienced and fearless captain, the heroes go in search for the mysterious island.
The search. Searching for the mysterious Island of Fog is not easy. Here, the heroes will benefit from what they learned and found before the journey. Vague instructions, a fragment of the map, the shining star, the use of magical knowledge – anything can come in handy.
The right way. Long days and sleepless nights have come to an end – the heroes have found the right way. Now they know the direction and the island may be located not far away.
EVIDENCE OF THE ISLAND’S EXISTENCE
|Every night at a certain hour, a pair of green lights shine in the distance, luring the heroes in.
|Horrible dreams about their deaths will help the heroes detect the wrong path.
|A distant, inhuman rumble will tell the heroes the right direction.
|Unusual bursts of waves, coming in different directions, will direct the ship to dangerous waters.
|Rain from dead birds will be a harbinger of proximity to the target
|Dangerous sea predators, in madness, will try to attack the ship, protecting the secrets of these places.
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The last sign will be the charming song that everyone on the ship will hear. It’s unique for everyone, but it won’t leave anyone indifferent If someone tries to resist it – the rest of the ship’s crew, fascinated by the melody, will do their best so that he doesn’t prevent them from navigating the ship directly to the sound source. Clashes and attempts to awaken the crew will turn into chaos; the ship will become incontrollable and go into a thick fog. The last thing the heroes will see is a huge shadow reaching the sky that hangs over the ship. The beast, the sea monster, the devil of the sea,he had a lot of names, – will break the ship in two with a wave of his tentacle.
The heroes come to their senses on the banks of the Island of Fog. From now on, they will have to think about how to escape from the mysterious island and stay alive. From the first day on, the heroes will face a lot of issues that need to be solved and their number will increase every day.
|The ship’s been destroyed. It takes time, resources, and people to repair it.
|The sea is stormy and will not get quite soon.
|A part of the crew is missing.
|The food reserves will run out in a few days.
|Many crew members are wounded and sick; they need help
|A strange rumble is heard from a distant volcano.
|The heroes feel that someone or something is watching them.
Soon the heroes will realize that exploring the coast is not enough to survive. They have to go deeper, through a dense fog, towards the shadows that are watching them so closely.
TRIBE OF FIRE
Meeting with the island population cannot fail to take place. Shadows from the jungle will show themselves, interrupting the daily watch of outsiders. The Hunting Days are about to come, and then the Fiery Mountain will get its victims.
Sacrifice for the Fiery Mountain. The Fiery Mountain is sacred for the Tribe of Fire. It gives the Sea Monster, the deity of local tribes, the strength to live and continue its hunt. Having accumulated strength from the sacrifices made to the mountain, it spews a dense magical mist that covers the waters around. It not only gives vital powers to the monster, unable to exist without it, but also hides the island from unwanted eyes. The sea deity knows about the ritual, so it hunts the errant ships and sends them to the island. Here, the Tribe of Fire will wait until the forces of strangers run out, but they are still alive – then the main blow will be struck and the Hunting Days will come. The victims will be sent inside the Fiery Mountain, the largest tribal settlement, where the ritual of sacrifice will be performed on the last day of the Hunt.
Only this ritual will help the Tribes of Fire to continue living on the island. Although the Sea Monster will perish without the fog, its end-of-life powers will still be enough to destroy everything on this little piece of land.
Preparation for the hunt. As soon as the tribal leaders announce the Hunting days, hard times will begin for the outsiders on the sacred land. But as long as the leaders are silent, the warriors of the tribe are preparing. The jungle is dangerous and unpredictable even for them, so the tribe takes every opportunity to increase its chances to survive.
- Scorched symbols on the trees will help the sorcerers to see a dangerous animal or an outsider from afar.
- Altars on the high trees enable the warriors to feed from divine power, increasing their endurance and strength.
- Hanged bones of killed animals will indicate the presence of deadly traps.
- Suddenly intensifying fog, drawing illusory monsters and impending death for the outsiders, will be a sign of proximity to the tribal settlement.
- Quiet singing from the sea will drive mad the dangerous predators.
- The rumble from the Fiery Mountain will let everyone know – the island is about to be covered by a wave of dense fog. Inside of it, the eyes of the tribe warriors see everything as bad as those of the heroes, but their keen hearing gives them a serious advantage.
Hunting days. The Council of chiefs said its word – the outsiders have weakened, and the Sea Deity wants new sacrifices. Hunting days have begun. The main purpose of the tribe is to kidnap as many survivors as possible.
ACTIONS OF THE TRIBE DURING THE HUNTING DAYS
|Attack of the main camp of the heroes.
|Kidnapping the survivors who went beyond the shore.
|Setting traps around the camp territory.
|A call for magical singing that won’t let the survivors sleep.
The shipwrecked survivors will not get to their lands soon. For some time, they will have to survive, getting food, and defending themselves from enemies and nature.
Survived crew. Not all people, who sailed with the heroes on the same ship, are equally prepared to survive. Some of them are afraid and panicked; the others are initiative, sometimes too much; they have different skills, which may be useful. Survivors can not only solve problems, but also create them, and the heroes will have to cope with it.
Setting up a camp. Having found a suitable safe place for the camp, the heroes will need to arrange it. All the survivors need a roof over their heads, regular meals, a fire, and a place to rest. Those who have the skills of healing, carpentry, or anything else will need a separate place and the necessary resources. Duties should be distributed and the rules should be agreed upon.
Creating improvements. If you want to deepen management of the camp and the characters in it, so that your heroes are responsible for the fate of the survivors (and the more, the better, because then they will worry if one of the survivors is kidnapped), then you can mechanically track the food available in the camp, the resources, and the camp development level. Make it as abstract as you want – from the direct calculation of food in pounds, water in pints, and division of resources into several types to the sufficiency level of food and resources (low/normal/high).
At the beginning of each day, you can tell the heroes about the problems in the camp. For example, not everyone has a roof over their head. So it is necessary to find wood and create a shelter; otherwise, some people may get sick during the rain. Or the food supplies are running out – someone should go hunting; but there is a risk of getting wound, getting lost, or be caught. The heroes can’t do this all by themselves, so they will have to trust the other survivors.
HEROES CAMP EVENTS
|People who went hunting bring a pack of predators behind them.
|Night storm destroys a part of the camp.
|After supper, some people were seriously poisoned by something.
|The wound of one of the crew members is infected.
|Tribal scouts are watching the camp. If they are not found, they will make a raid at night.
|Having crawled into food supplies, a poisonous snake bites one of the survivors.
|The shelter collapsed during the construction resulted in the injury of a crew member.
|The insects that detected the food will not let sleep anyone, attacking the survivors all night.
|A maddening melody comes from the sea all night.
|A part of the survivors decided to try to save themselves by constructing a raft and trying to go to the open waters.
|The conflict between the crew members may end in a fight.
|Warriors of the tribe try to catch a survivor who has gone too far from the camp.
PATH TO THE FIERY MOUNTAIN
Sooner or later it will become clear to the survivors that the stormy waters and the Sea Monster will not let them leave the island peacefully. The way to the center of the island, to the volcano, is the only way to learn more about the monster, the tribe, and the way to get out alive.
The Great temple. The way to the volcano is not only unpredictable and dangerous, but also sometimes impassable. Dense fog will not let the heroes go too far. Drawings and symbols that the heroes will find on their way through the settlements and the altars of the Tribes of Fire will indicate the existence of the Great Temple that maintains the fog.
Hunters tower. Once the altar of the temple is destroyed, the heroes will open the way to another part of the island. Here they will discover the mountains, ringing the volcano and protecting it against the invasion. Huge gates will not let the outsiders pass, and no matter how hard the heroes try – something invisible will push them away as soon as they try to go inside. The only way is to go to the Hunters Tower. The heroes will find a forge there which can be used for forging a Shard of deity – a special crystal, allowing the hunters to pass to the Volcano. The heroes will find parts of the recipe for its creation on the altars and in settlements. Only the best hunters and elders carry the main ingredient – the Tear of the beast. Possession of someone other’s Shard of Deity does not give any advantages – each warrior has to create his own.
|Heroes will hear someone cries from the forest. They will lead them to the warriors of the tribe who trapped the animal, and now the youngest of them has to kill it with his bare hands as a trial.
|During the hunt, easy to catch prey turns to be an illusion – the heroes are surrounded by the tribe warriors.
|One of the tribe leaders, a master in archery, found the trail of the heroes and will not leave it until he catches one of them.
|The wreckage of one of the ships that sailed to the island hundreds of years ago turns out to be the camp of the tribe scouts.
|Strong and tall warrior of the tribe, blessed by the Sea deity and sorcerers, will call one of the heroes to a duel.
|The triggered trap will lift one of the heroes high up by his leg. Judging by the battle cries from the forest, many warriors of the tribe will come here soon.
|A clash with the tribe warriors suddenly ends with their retreat. It seems that the heroes have won, but there is a huge predator, looking for prey, right behind their back.
|Recent footprints will lead the heroes to a small tribe settlement, where they have a captive. A lone sailor, who went to the island and was captured by the warriors, has spent several months here and can tell the heroes the things they do not know yet.
|The heroes will see a human silhouette in the fog that does not look like a warrior from the tribe. Having caught up with him, they will find out this is a half-mad man, living and hiding on the island for several years. Once he managed to escape from the captivity of the tribe’s warriors and now he has a chance to get out with the heroes from the island.
|The dense fog that has come down from the Fiery Mountain does not let the heroes see beyond their noses.
Having passed through the gate, the heroes will find themselves in the very center of the Fiery Mountain, a huge settlement of the Tribe of Fire.
Worshiping of the monster. The heroes will get inside the mountain at the last moment – the ritual of sacrifice, which will take place in the depths of the volcano, is about to begin. The heroes will have to sneak past the patrols of enemy warriors, through the underground passage streets, watching more and more tribesmen sitting motionlessly in front of the wooden figures of the Sea Deity and paying no attention to the outsiders.
Sacrifice Hall. In the orifice of the Fiery Mountain, the last ritual will take place. The best warriors will stand up to protect the elders and sorcerers who perform the ritual. Time is short – caught survivors are about to be sacrificed to the monster, whose eyes shine from the depths of the dark underground lake. If the monster notices that the heroes are trying to interfere with the ritual, it will block the heroes’ way with its tentacles, grabbing and throwing them away from the sorcerers who read prayers.
Rage of the deity. Having pulled out the survivors from the hands of the Tribe of Fire and having prevented the bloody ritual, the heroes will flee from the Fiery Mountain, heading to the shore. The tribe warriors will desperately chase the strangers, but even they will retreat as soon as they hear terrible cries from the sea. The sea deity has gone mad. The interrupted ritual deprived it of its vital powers and soon it will perish. In its death agony, it will try to take the lives of the outsiders by demolishing the trees and even parts of the mountains with its huge tentacles. The longer the heroes survive, the weaker the monster will become until it goes underwater forever with its last cry. The warriors of the tribe will continue chasing the strangers all the way to the shore.
Now that the waters are calm, it’s time to go away from the Island of Fog.
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