INSIDE THE WALLS CYCLE
Having got out of the deep dungeon, returned from the dragon hunt, or completed an important order of the king, the heroes need rest. Uncomfortable sleeping bag in a hastily set up camp only adds bruises in the night; food taken for the journey loses its taste on the third day, and you can’t feel your feet from the continuous walking. But it’s not so in the city. A warm bed, tasty hot meals, and long days of spending gold in the shops of local craftsmen. Though even here there are problems, of which the heroes may become a part.
SECRET CITY ADVENTURE
The continent skillfully hides a lot of secrets, unveiling of which can grant the wanderers access to what they want. Hidden deep in the wild forest, the hidden city of an ancient civilization is described only in legends, but one can also find the way to it. The city itself hides a lot of mysteries, and the Ancient Spirits that protect its wealth will not give them away without a fight. Will the heroes manage to get what they want by passing the deadly trials and avoiding the traps of the Secret City?
Adventures of heroes begin before reaching the Secret City. It is important not only to learn about the city’s location but also to answer the question – how to get there? Secret knowledge. Even the search for the secret city can be a thrilling adventure. Only having collected the necessary fragments of information, the heroes will finally learn where the city is located and how to get inside.
SEARCH FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE CITY
|1||The library in the sunken dungeon contains a description of the area around the city.|
|2||An old outcast traveler in impassable swamps will show the forest where the city is located.|
|3||A visionary monk from the desert will share the features of the way to the city.|
|4||A destroyed temple on the top of a high mountain keeps a sorcerer’s diary that tried to solve the mystery of|
Secret paths. Set out in search for the Secret city in the distant and forgotten lands, the heroes should be wary – the local wild forests and swamps have not been crossed by a human for a long time. Here, wildlife feels someone else’s presence very well. Unwanted travelers will face the dangers they are not used to and the creatures they have never seen before.
WAY TO THE CITY EVENTS
|1||The weather is getting worse. The storm is about to reach the heroes, bringing them off the trail and increasing the way for several days.|
|2||The forest around confuses the heroes’ minds – each of them sees something different in the depths of it, something that distracts them from the road and leads them away.|
|3||The birds around the heroes went mad and try to take away the heroes’ personal belongings and carry them to their nests on a high tree.|
|4||Predators regularly disturb the heroes’ rest, preventing them from resting and having a break. As soon as they weaken enough, the predators will attack the camp.|
You can check these featured maps for encounters on the way or explore WILDERNESS category.
We are not alone. An important part of the adventure is the fact that the heroes are not the only ones who learned about the Secret city. They are opposed by the Order, led by a strong leader with resources and connections.
|The Order’s leader should be familiar to the heroes, and his own plans should be clear and opposite to the group’s plans.|
Does the secret place have a great treasure? He needs it to implement more ambitious plans.
An artifact of power that should not fall into the hands of evil? He wants to seize it and use it for his own purposes.
Unraveling the mystery of the city will open a mysterious portal? He wants to use it to hurt not only the heroes but also what they care about.
The betrayal scenario will also work – the heroes’ ally who helps in searching for the city turns out to be the agent of the Order. As soon as he knows enough information, he disappears early in the morning. It is important only to invent a character your group can trust.
SECRET CITY HISTORY
The city found by the heroes and their opponents has a thousand-year history, which the heroes can learn gradually by discovering ancient runes on the walls, scrolls with scraps of information, examining the local architecture.
A sacred place. The civilization that used to live here left this place for a reason. The Ancient Spirits did not agree with the construction of a great city on their territory. They sent diseases and curses, but it could not stop the people who were greedy to mightiness. The Ark dynasty wanted to build the richest city in the world, populated by the best creators and philosophers.
The madness. The spirits retreated for a hundred years, but only to return with incomparable power. This power drove people and animals crazy, making them see terrifying pictures from the non-existent worlds, fear every rustle, rush at each other with weapons, and flee away from these places. The locals tried to use this power, to guide it in their direction but did not have time to accomplish what they had planned. Powerful energy can still be felt in every stone in this land. And the heroes will have the opportunity to harness it.
The great king. Only one man has not left the city. This is the last king Ark, whose great ancestors built such a beautiful but cursed city. He refused to leave the city because it was he who led it to greatness in the darkest times. Ark still sits on his throne as a hostage of the ancient spirits, mocking at his fate every day. They use the power of his dynasty’s blood to hide the city from the eyes of the destructive civilizations that occupy the lands around it.
If the king, the last of his great dynasty, falls, the city will fall too.
Supernatural and unknown forces pierce every space of the city and its surroundings,
Poisoning the reality. The spirits are immortal and almighty, but they can only influence the lands under their control. The Secret city and the forest around it are their fiefdom. Slowly but steadily, they poison tissue of the reality, replacing it with their own, outside of their domain. Even if it takes a million years to seize all the lands, the spirits are in no hurry – they don’t worry about the time.
The territory of the spirits is inhabited only by those creatures that are allowed to live here. Strangers are not welcome here, even if they are known for their righteous and good deeds for thousands of miles around.
Means of defense. The spirits themselves are unable to cause physical harm to unwanted guests in their territory. But they can find intermediaries, filling them, like a vessel, with poisonous power and forcing them to fight back the invaders.
MEANS OF FIGHTING AGAINST THE STRANGERS
|1||Poison the wind for some time that will bring diseases to the enemies.|
|2||Fill the dead bodies of creatures with power and lead them to protect their lands.|
|3||Send a storm to the territory, depriving everyone who is caught by it of strength.|
|4||Send a dense fog to the city in which those who are weak in spirit will see their own fears and go mad.|
|5||Raise the undead from the bowels of the earth at night and don’t give the strangers a single hour of rest.|
|6||Use the territory captured by the wild forest, which prevents the enemy from advancing – bring down stones on them; deprive them of the ground under their feet; use birds, insects, and rodents to slow down the enemy.|
Regularly change the tactics of the spirits, not letting the heroes relax. At some moments, it can seriously complicate the life of the heroes, and at some points, it can be a happy rescue from a difficult situation.
UNDER THE ORDER’S CONTROL
The Order arrived in the Secret city before the heroes. In a hurry, under the guidance of their leader, they are trying to find a great reward in the city, not fully aware of how dangerous it can be.
Watchful soldiers. Barely entering the city, the heroes will find their enemies patrolling territories. The Order knows that the enemy is about to arrive and is ready to meet the heroes.
Scouting the area. The Order does not want to stay for a single day here, so it has dispersed throughout the city, looking for a way to get to the Great Palace (8), where the main mystery of the Secret city is hidden.
Careless searches. Fulfilling the Order’s goal, the soldiers use blunt and dirty ways. They invade the sanctuaries, scatter ancient books and writings, and destroy the doors and chests they can’t open. The ancient spirits benefit from such thoughtless interventions, so they start a hunt for the Order.
STREETS OF SECRET CITY – THE ORDER EVENTS
|1||A warrior of the Order who stuck in a trap calls the heroes and asks them to help him, otherwise he will die. In exchange for help, he can offer valuable information.|
|2||A sharp-eyed archer sits on the roof of the tallest building and watches the area. In case of any suspicious activity, he will give a warning to the guards to check it.|
|3||Soldiers of the Order take out the most valuable things from the building of the local craftsman on the street.|
|4||The veteran of the Order conducts a small training session for new recruits on the street.|
|5||Warriors of the Order build shelter from possible attacks of the ancient spirits by barricading one of the houses and bringing supplies there.|
|6||One of the field commanders carelessly left the safe territory. Being captured by the heroes, he will be ready to exchange his life for valuable information.|
|7||The heroes stumble upon a strange place where magic, including the magic of spirits, does not work. This can be a good shelter if the heroes will chase away the soldiers of the Order.|
|8||Soldiers of the Order pass by the camp of the heroes. They are about to notice it.|
The Secret City is less and less able to resist the wildlife around it, so many places are almost completely swallowed up by vegetation and forest, where the ancient spirits are especially powerful. The inhabitants, leaving their native places, wanted to preserve the wealth left by them and set many traps in the city.
SEARCHING FOR THE KEY
The main task of the Order and the heroes is to find a way to enter the palace through a large gate, protected by magical energy. They will need to collect a key that can be anything – the real name of the last king, scraps of a spell, or a shining crystal.
SEARCHING FOR THE KEY – EVENTS
|1||Instead of finding a part of the key, the heroes find traces of the Order soldiers, who have just taken it and are now returning with their finding to the camp.|
|2||The heroes have just got one of the necessary key fragments but a gust of magical wind takes it away from them further and further. If the heroes do not have time to catch it in the chase, it will fall on a small brow in the rift in the ground, risking to fall even lower. The spirits sent the fallen soldiers to prevent the enemy from taking it away.|
|3||In a magical fog, a hero who has fallen into the illusion and holds a part of the key will give it to the fallen soldier. Monster will try to escape with it to the dungeon in the rock.|
|4||Feeling that the heroes have taken a part of the key, the spirits will send an immortal beast on their trail. If the heroes kill it, a few hours later it will continue its hunting, having fully restored its health.|
GM can show the heroes the entire city, hiding the fragments of the «key» until the heroes visit all required locations. Alternatively, GM can hide the «key» fragments in certain locations. In this case, the heroes should be rewarded for visiting the places where the required fragments were not found.
SPECIAL AWARDS FOR THE SEARCH
|1||A spearhead causing additional damage to the spirits’ creatures.|
|2||A quiver with arrows that ignore the magical weather effects sent by the spirits (for example, do not change their trajectory during the storm).|
|3||A handful of magical coins that attract the attention of the spirits’ creatures when thrown.|
|4||A coat made of a special fabric that ignores the magical effects of the spirits.|
|5||A vessel with water that removes the effects of poisoning and weakness.|
|6||Scrolls with spells that allow using the spirits’ power for instant levitation, high jump, leap forward, teleportation. They can be used only once.|
1. OBELISK OF THE ARK DYNASTY
A long and wrecked bridge leads to a small square with an obelisk. The structure is dedicated to the Ark dynasty and mentions all its dead members – the great rulers, architects, craftsmen, scientists. Only the last king who ruled the city in the last days of its life is not on this list yet.
- The area is intensely patrolled and observed by the Order in the daytime and when the ancient spirits do not send attacks on the city that worsening the visibility and vigilance of the guards.
- The Order takes the looted items here, sealing them in boxes and preparing to load them into their carts for a soon departure.
2. WESTERN CITY
Crossing the bridge on the left hand, the heroes get to the Western city, the city of watchers – a place of commoners. Dense houses and multiple intersecting streets are gradually captured by the surrounding vegetation.
- The Order tries to patrol and watch the area, but the attacks of the ancient spirits and the traps left by the locals make it difficult to search for the valuable items.
STREETS OF SECRET CITY – THE SPIRITS EVENTS
|1||The heroes risk stepping on a trap in one of the houses. If it triggers, it will make a loud noise that attracts the spirits of the fallen soldiers nearby.|
|2||On the ruined floor of one of the houses, the heroes will find a short way to one of the locations of the city, full of the spirits’ warriors.|
|3||A flock of wild animals, led by the spirits, pursues the heroes and follows their path.|
|4||A new recruit of the Order has been caught in a corner by wild animals. Having noticed the heroes, he begs them for help, promising to share information with them.|
|5||The heroes are encircled by the Order which demands them to surrender. But the spirits’ soldiers ambush the ambushers.|
|6||During the rest, the beast steals a bag of one of the heroes, taking it to its lair.|
|7||The ground under one of the heroes collapses. He falls into a shallow dungeon full of undead. Under the influence of wild magic, they become blinded. The noise of the fallen hero attracted their attention and now they are trying to find the source of the sound.|
|8||The sun gets overshadowed by a strange cloud. In fact, it is a huge swarm of insects sent by the spirits. They will attack everyone they see for one hour.|
To the south of the Western city, the arena that used to serve as the main entertainment for the city residents is located. Not only fights but also performances and even lectures were held there.
- Now a camp of the Order occupies the arena’s territory. The most valuable findings can be found deep into the arena and are strictly guarded.
4. TEMPLE OF MANY GODS
A huge semi-collapsed temple, the ruins of which hide a dark dungeon for sacrifices.
- Warriors of the Order have already descended inside the dungeon, but many of them got wounded or fell ill because of the cursed items and traps inside. Now they are arguing about whose group will have to go down there again.
5. EASTERN CITY
The city of creators. It was home to those who brought former glory to the great city. Architects, craftsmen, merchants, scientists, poets, philosophers – the city absorbed only the best.
- It temporarily hosted the best squads of the Order and their commanders.
- As in other parts of the Secret City, beautiful architecture is inseparable from the predatory feats of the wild forest that sprouts through any obstacles.
In the old days, it was the only educational institution for hundreds of miles. The main library was taken out of the city, but interesting records about the history and the ways to counteract the ancient spirits can be still found here.
- Several squads of the Order view the city from this location, while the others search many secret rooms of the academy that contain useful things.
7. ASSEMBLY SQUARE
This is a square for assemblies in case of important news and announcements, surrounded by many watchtowers.
- All towers of the square are occupied by the Order scouts, who look for the enemy and warn the others of the danger by lighting up the fire at the tops of the towers.
8. GREAT PALACE
The Great Palace keeps the main secret of the city. This is what the heroes and the Order have come all this way for. But this secret can belong only to one of them.
- Huge gates to the palace are locked and can be opened by collecting the «key». The Order searches for options to get inside, trying to find the hidden meanings in the books and scrolls.
THE GATE OPENS
Having collected the necessary fragments of the «key», the heroes can open the gate to the palace and remove the magical barrier. The passage will be opened not only for them – the Order will gather the best warriors on the square, led by the head of the Order, to enter the palace and take what they want.
THRONE ROOM OF THE KING ARK
In the spacious and dark throne room, the last King of the Secret city King Ark sits. An exhausted and blind old man is surrounded by huge roots of trees that grew through the palace. The thing behind the roots, held in the hands of the king is the object the heroes are searching for.
- The high point of the heroes’ adventures begins here. In the throne room, 3 sides will have to fight – the heroes themselves, the head of the Order with it’s best warriors, and the ancient spirits that give strength to the fallen creatures in the palace.
- Having taken what they want from the hands of the king, the heroes will hear the king’s appeal to end his suffering. The spirits can continue to torture him forever and use the power of his blood to hide this sacred place.
OPTION I. The heroes take the life of the last king of the Secret city, giving him freedom.
The withered body that once ruled the great city will quietly say «Thank you.» The blood of the Ark dynasty is no longer under the control of the ancient spirits. The last barrier that protected the city from destruction has collapsed.
The heroes and survived members of the Order have to leave the rapidly collapsing city. There are no more opposing parties here; everyone has only one task – to survive at any cost. The city is covered with cracks, the streets go underground, the towers collapse, and the ground under the heroes’ feet breaks down.
The heroes have to break through the members of the Order running from the city to the exit and try not to be absorbed by the collapsing city. The magical objects and treasures they have found will be of great help to them.
OPTION II. The heroes leave the last king of the Secret City for eternal torment by the ancient spirits.
A large army of hundreds of creatures raised from the underground will flood the city from the south. The ancient spirits decided to finally purge the city from strangers. The Order’s commanders will lose control of their subordinates, who will try to leave the city and take as many treasures as possible.
The heroes will have to break through the crowds of enemies to get out. The magical objects and treasures they have found will be of great help to them.
Need some more ruined buildings and dangerous dungeons? Check these featured items and URBAN/RURAL LIFE, BUILDINGS and DUNGEONS for more.
Secret City [FREE & ALL PATRONS]