Michael back again with another Earthdawn blog. What I have to share with everyone today is a piece of content cut from an upcoming Legends of Barsaive adventure. The following scene outlines an encounter at the Screaming Fountain of Parlainth, which un-knowing players may pass by if they decide to travel via the still intact laneways. This scene works best if the player characters are on a short time table and need to cut though the city center in order to meet a deadline. I had originally intended this to be used as a means for characters to travel swiftly from Haven to the Vaults, but it could work for any destination that connect via two different laneways.
Setting the Stage (Read to the Players)
You continue along the Laneway until you reach the center of the city. As you approach, you see a massive pyramid that lifts an impressive fountain above the horizon. When you are close enough to see the base of the structure, you begin to hear an eerie noise emanating from the top. You spot a dozen statues arranged around the base, each depicting the image of a different Passion… at least that’s what you think they are supposed to be. Their heads are missing, save for those of the mad passions, though even these are contorted to near unrecognizable images. The noise shifts to a shrill scream as you feel yourself fall prey to the fountain’s influence.
Behind the Scenes (GM Information)
The center of Parlainth contains an enchanted fountain that, during the Scourge, was corrupted by Horror magic. Now called the Screaming Fountain, it assaults any Namegiver who comes within 6 yards of its base. The four laneways end at the edge of a perfectly round plaza with a pyramid at its center. A Ten-foot wall extends in from each laneway and surrounds this plaza, forcing any who wish to flee from the area to climb these walls or run back through one of the laneway entrances. The Screaming Fountain sits at the top of the central pyramid and runs with a deep red liquid that is immediately identifiable as blood.
Players can enter the Screaming Fountain’s area of influence from any of the four Laneways (see Figure 1). Once they enter the central plaza area, the fountain will attack with a Mental Assault based on how many hexes the character moves during their turn. This effect acts as a magical trap that triggers at the end of a character’s movement. Based on the level of success, a variety of effects will force the player to act in a specific way. This should not only keep the encounter interesting as they try to figure out what is happening, but it also encourages them to continue moving around the plaza which will trigger additional Mental Assaults.
The Fountain rolls Step 5 + the number of hexes moved against the target’s Mystic Defense.
|Number of Successes||Effect|
|1||The character has a compulsion to leave the area via the closest laneway exit. This effect can be resisted with a successful WIL test vs the Metal Assault result.|
|2||The character immediately falls unconscious for a number of rounds equal to the Metal Assault result. Another character may spend an action while in Touch range to negate this effect.|
|3+||The character is driven temporarily insane. The result of a Step 4 test determines their behavior (1-2: Compelled to dance uncontrollably, forcing them to move their full movement in a random direction within the Fountain’s area of influence, 3-4: Move to attack the closest character, 5+: Terrify them to the point where they are frozen in place and attack anyone who attempts to move them).|
This scene was designed to be a combat encounter without the players actually being engaged in combat. There was a significant combat encounter planned shortly after this, so my plan was to minimize the damage potential of this scene while still allowing it to build tension. I playtested the scene a number of times, but decided to cut it. We like to keep our Legends adventures convention friendly, so sometimes that means we end up cutting a scene or two to keep them below the four-hour completion time. That being said, I had a lot of fun running players through this encounter, so hopefully fellow gamemasters can find a use for it. Until next time, thanks for reading.