Quest for the Bale Fire Shard (Adventure)

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Incarna is a system of gritty realism. The mechanics promote deadly combat, intense action, and the intended focus is on story, skills, and a mixture of combat and puzzle/problem solving. Some rules herein may reference concepts unique to Incarna - you will need access to the online rule set for specific details. Most GM’s can assess the Incarna specific elements in context and leave or remove them as needed. Where you see this: , the GM must "plug-in" their own materials to round out the adventure in their campaign. It is strong recommended something such as a Gaming Contract be put into place.

  • In DnD terms, Incarna uses 8 hours rest as a short rest, and 1 week rest as a long rest.
  • Incarna uses Sanity; this is an optional element of DnD and should be used.
  • Incarna uses a form of life-power called Essence; (Charisma+Sanity)/2 = the starting “well” of Essence (which returns at 1/Short Rest if used to trigger effects). Items with Essence themselves require attunement before their benefits can be gained.

Setting: Steel Realms

Planned Location

Environment: Underground

Premise

The PC’s must sojourn into the strange underground realms of the Ducateon, seeking a mysterious object. For the Ducateon to give them the object, they must assist them and pass several tests.

Motivation: MacGuffin?
The reason the object is needed is up to the GM - it can fit into any campaign this way.

ALT <> An radiance fount has opened and remains unchecked. It is out of control, several druids have died trying to shut it down, and only succeeded in temporarily containing it at the cost of their lives. Only the Kaleidoscopic Staff can contain it. Reluctant mention by sage and priests, but they are desperate.

Challenges

Environment (deep underground + The Deeping); cultural faux-pas; traps; Ducateon opponents, Duergar, undead, Goblins, Kobolds; possible abyssal and elemental creatures; possible fungus and slimes; Troll

Timeline

  • Travel to the
  • Audience with
  • Travel of Resonance Chamber
  • Audience with
  • Travel the Aether
  • Arrival in
  • Rhenclave Tasks outlined by
  • Tasks
  • Celebration at the Rhenclave
  • Return Travel through the Aether

Background

The enigmatic Ducateons ("Dwarves" is the pejorative name used by many species and likely to get you killed by the less diplomatic of their kind) have long been rumored to be the holders of the Kaleidoscopic Staff. History records that the Ducateon took the Kaleidoscopic Staff from the field of battle as victors in the Battle of Three Deep and secreted deep in a place known to them as The Spire Tooth Caverns, its real resting place as remained shrouded in rumor and mystery for an eon. It is said that it is guarded by a strange sect of their faith that translates to ‘The Pillars of Strength’. Seekers of the Kaleidoscopic Staff are gently dissuaded - its well known the Ducateon Collective has no desire to let such an object see the light of day again. However, the day has come when the staff is needed; pursuit of its location has lead the party to seek an audience.
Background Facts:

PC's can make DC 15 History checks for each. These may provide clues of perils to be faced and clues at the means of circumventing them.

  1. Holt: Out-holt is what the rest of the world sees. The physical presence of a Ducateon holt that manifest above ground - like the tip of an iceberg. Rumors have persisted that not all holts have an out-holt, and much of the Ducateon presence is unknown to the other races.
  2. Rhenclave: Ducateon small presence; very rare - usually diplomatic places, trade posts, etc and the like - though still part of the collective. Each Rhenclave is known to have been made for a very specific purpose and has few amenities.
  3. Resonance Chamber: This is a place said to be able to send word (literally) to any settlements of their kind anywhere in the world. Those who use the chambers must have control of their voice - such as singers or entertainer; or be willing to pay a lot for a Ducateon speaker.
  4. The Kaleidoscopic Staff is also referred to as the Bale Fire Shard or Balefire Staff.
3 Successful Background Knowledge Checks: Each party member has a one time use of Luck (per the DnD Feat) to represent their level of preparedness.

Getting there

The party’s first stop is to the Island of Khazam-Gul off the Queen’s Coast of Umbak, to the only known Ducateon Holt surrounded by water. The Holt is known as Baradurn’s Plinth - for the massive granite outcrop that the Holt was chiseled out of. It is rumored to be a gateway to one of the richest mines in the entire Ducateon Collective (why else would they brave the hated water?) - it was once one the edge of the Scar Flow - not cut off as it is today through cataclysmic changes. It is said that the Out-Holt dwellers are most friendly to outsiders here, and that the place has many times been used as a neutral ground for representatives of several regional powers to meet at. The party believes that surely the knowledge they seek, of contacting the Ducteon holding the staff, can be found here.

Quick Quest Start

You are told to seek out Thol Wohrum in the Resonance Rhenclave of the people under the earth, at a lonely valley in the Step Stone hills. You are given a key which is a key of stone and sound – you are forced to memorize the sound to make over the key – this will get you past the guardian. You travel to the forlorn spot on your map – a place out of the way and with few features or qualities to interest anyone. A jagged gash is cut deep into a hillside, cutting into the face about 200 feet to a cave mouth. The small paved path runs in the center of the gash – nothing but some moss and fungus grows along the edges. A faint whistling sound is heard as you march down the path. Every sound echoes, and each step creates a jarring sound. As you approach the cave mouth, you can see it is wide and short – but tall enough for a human – just barely. The light seems to be pulled in around its edges, and so do the sounds you make. You halt to examine it and see nothing beyond a few feet. Getting what lights you need, you enter into a deep cut path. There is but one way to go, a passage that winds down. But the time you reach the bottom, you estimate its over 200 feet deep. A vast chasm opens up, and a thin trail leads along the left edge as you face it. The air is getting heavy and uncomfortable to breathe. You walk along the perilous edge for hundreds of feet – the darkness all around you and your lights dimmer than they should be. Ahead, a figure can be made out seemingly carved into the crevasse side where the path ends. A massive stone troll – perhaps the largest you have ever seen – is carved into relief on the wall ahead – there may be a passage between its legs from what you can see. As you draw close, the troll begins to move – it is no statute as you thought! You bring the stone key out and make the sounds. Your fear gets the better of you as the troll unfurls its long claws, and begins to claw its way toward you over the stone. Just as you fear the worst, you hit the right note. The creature returns to its position as you nervously shuffle forward. The only way is between its massive legs – beneath the uplifted massive claws that could cut through stone and metal. Hoping for the best, you go one at a time into the chamber beyond. The chamber is plain, with scenes of battle carved into the walls. You get the idea they are battles that took place here – the guardian and its victims. To emphasize the point, massive claw gouges have been dug out of the wall, alcoves so to speak. Into these are cast broken armor, weapons, and equipment. Nothing is useful – all is broken – there are no bones. It speaks to the futility of attempting to enter without the right permissions. In your exploring, you see an area on the floor at the center, an area with an indentation fitting the key you have been given. The key is still vibrating slightly as you drop it into the slot. Instantly a passage is revealed between the alcoves – stone is lifted on some unseen mechanism. The passage is human height (about 8’), and wider than normal. There are runes carved on the walls everywhere, every 10 feet precisely – about 1 foot above the floor level. Ahead, dozens of long strides ahead, the passage forks. From one of them comes a strange sound – or perhaps both, it is impossible to tell. It is as though stone grated on stone, and if stone could cry, that is the sound it would make. Your senses go into overdrive, waiting for something horrible to happen…

Storied Quest Start

What the Ducateon tell the PC’s once they understand their need is great:

The only known means of outsiders contacting the ‘The Pillars of Strength’ cult is likely to be through one of the Rhenclaves having a powerful resonance chamber (what this is, none are sure of, but it is known as a means of sending word to The Collective). One of the oldest known is the Recondite Resonance Rhenclave. The Ducateon of this place have long remained mostly out of touch with the rest of the world, including their own brethren. It is known to have one of the Resonance Chambers of their people; a place nearly destroyed in ancient cataclysm and war several times.

An Audience with Diplomats

Riddles and Keys

Journey to Step Stone Hills

The Abandoned Path

The Chasm Path

A Grim Arrival

An Inconsiderate Welcome

You call and call, and no one seems to hear. The calls echo down far tunnels and rebound with eerie tones and vibrations. The myriad of tunnels all lead through a single warren, which appears to be abandoned. There is little in the way of supplies, and only empty barrels and boxes, digging equipment, a long cold forge, and quarters unadorned and populated only by a stir of echoes. You cut back on your rations, waiting for something, someone to make contact. Your fear of getting lost while exploring any more than the obvious keeps you safe for a bit. After a couple days you begin to think a risky venture down one of the few dark tunnels leading away from the enclave may be warranted. You take stock of your supplies.

At this stage, the GM may make up several tunnels randomly – use the GM Guide

Mandrae-ak the Impersonator – a Duergar approaches…

A strange clicking is heard for several minutes, as if stone is being tapped to stone. The echoes confused as to which direction. Ominously they grow louder until you take up defensive positions, wondering what fiendish horror has tracked you down in the forsaken place. A strange deep “wooting” begins, as if a bellows were working. As the crescendo of echoes literally begins to make your teeth chatter, a hairy, stout figure hoves into view. It is covered in stone dust and the weeping eyes clear the sight and cause rivulets of clean streak over its cheeks. The grayish figure stops the monstrous claw tapping on the rock wall of the tunnel and stops as he takes in your defensive posture. A deep sonorous voice speaks “There have been delays. Great and long is your journey. Sent by Him for His purpose. Come, they way has been cleared.” He dumps a sack of cave mana at your feet, and a large skin of some fluid. He turns and looks over his hairy shoulder at you, without an expression, waiting…

Questions he will not answer, only that He has guided the way and that the path is made ready for them. “I am Kuerman Kaul, Rauchman of the Rhenclave. Rauchman means… caretaker” (it is an old word, more like guardian). He will insist they leave immediately. Foodstuffs

He obviously has no difficulty seeing as he leads you into the darkness. You light illuminates an area where there is some recent discoloration and the sign of much activity. “Some of those who opposed your journey chose not to heed His word, instead thinking they knew better. He says you are not to be directly opposed, but thought to tempt you with baubles and toys. They have paid with an end to their journey.” The tunnels wind down one of the paths you dared not venture – runes cover the passage and the coldness descends. You are ill prepared for such a deep journey. The steps are clear of any rubble, but after what seems like a few hundred that turn upon themselves, your knees grow weak. Finally the passage evens out. Your breath is labored. He points. “Down this passage is where you must go. My journey is down a different tunnel than yours. The way is clear. You will go.”.