The Mad Merchant of Fate (Steel Realms 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:

Planned Location

The Dreamscape - ambiguous.

Environment: A besieged town, the sea, a deep forest, a difficult river, and a dangerous marsh; plus an avatar of a god who is playing a grand joke upon the party.

Premise

The characters are pulled into the Dreamscape by a powerful force acting against them, and are plunged into a series of survival tests which they must win through or become cursed, and feeble of mind.

Motivation: MacGuffin?
Getting out of the Dreamscape!

Challenges

Combat, puzzles, mental trauma, repeated death

Timeline

  1. Repeated Dreams
  2. Mirror of Broken Dreams
  3. Sailor on the Seas of Time
  4. The Forest of Shattered Hopes
  5. The River of Torn Memories
  6. The Marsh of Buried Fears
  7. The Manor of the Mad Merchant

Background

Background Facts:

Getting there

Divine Hook

You grasp that hand that is proffered. It raises you up, pulling you from the mists of dream that obscure all round you. Above it now, supported by your patron, you see stages, stages wherein agents like yourself and agents of your patron’s foes act out play after play, a violent drama in many cases. The one below you is sabotaged, the agent before you having never had a chance to act, and the curtain comes down and the patrons of the play cannot escape. Choking on the poisonous fumes of dream, they die slowly and horribly. But from above, you see what happens and find a point in the drama which you could insert yourself, and possibly change the outcome. As the hymns begin all around you, you are surrounded by doors, and door after door you choose to go through, getting closer and closer to the stage below you. Finally, the last door leads to the clouded stage – you have proven your intent and as an agent of your faith prepare to do battle with the machinations of your patron’s enemy.

Occult Hook

The vibrations of the pattern are broken. You hear the woven strands of lives that are cut short, like a thousand guitar strings sliced in two thousands of times. A great disruption has taken place here, and the weave re-written in a way that poisons a million other lives down its course. This toxin will seeth and grow in ways terrible and inimical to your own life strand and those around you. Yet here you float, colors rippling around you, endless strands tangled and broken, tieing and un tieing and a chance to reach out and secure the source, which will in turn vitalize yourself. You close your eyes and plunge into the tangled web above you, reaching out to grab hold of the dark ends of the weave that threaten your pattern.

Psychic Hook

The deep bindings in you twist. Your patron’s enemy is near, and the wind carries the sound of their breathing. Louder and louder, you hear it behind you, and feel it hot on the back of your neck. Your patron has lost a challenge, but beneath you, as you commune swirls the clouds of a vast dreamscape. You are lowered gently into this, and the world changes around you. What was written may be unwritten – your patron has found a way to possibly change a defeat into a victory through you, their agent. You submit yourself to their power and are swallowed by the cyclone of dreams.

Nature Hook

The balance has been greatly disturbed. Something that should never have been allowed to happen, has happened. There is a greater hand in this, one you cannot see, but the very ground moans in anguish, and the wind brings voices crying in the thousands for justice. You can smell the rich earth, soaked with their blood. The tears you shed for the innocent become a river, a river that roars above their cries, and that carries you over a cliff and down a falls into a misty world of dreams, where you float and drift, carried by the currents of nature to the place you know you need to be.

Kinetic Hook

Scenarios for The Merchant of Fate

Character Death

Characters cannot die…

Suddenly your heart stops. Everything around you shrinks to nothing, you are left trying to gasp for air and yet your lungs do not inflate. You also realize the pain has gone and all is silent… and a shadow from behind you casts you in cold darkness. Death has finally found you. You turn as a skeletal hand rest on your shoulder. You swoon and have a distinct feeling of falling and sinking under water.

  • Scar; DC 10 Constitution save or pain point (-1 attacks for next encounter)
  • Sanity save DC 20; failure = -1 HP permanently, fumble = -1 Sanity permanently

3 “deaths” and the character must make a DC 5 check each morning when they return to real life or -1 physical attacks or 1 level of Exhaustion that day from weakness (countered by Lesser Restoration each day) forever.

The Mirror of Broken Dreams

Sailor on the Seas of Time

In the abbreviated version of the adventure, this boat will take the PC’s home through a storm. Arriving in a fog bank, the PC will be directed off the ship, be lost in the fog, and wake up in their bed in full gear, ripping the sheets and covering them in sea water and mud – with a few new scars. Explain to the PC’s that now wounds are real, damage is real, and dreams are the broken toys of a childhood long forgotten. Attacked by younger versions of themselves – half the levels they are now. They wear masks. PCs get no Dexterity adjustment – their younger selves know their moves.

  • Fighting on Ship Deck
  • Fighting the Younger Selves

The Forest of Shattered Hopes

loves lost – barmaids, rescued victims, bards admiring them from afar political prisoners – clawing holding on, ice cold, foggy, wolves of winter

The River of Torn Memories

Things forgotten; relatives dying without aid, innocent bystanders lives ruined, when the PC’s protection left the area – oppression reigned

The Marsh of Buried Fears

Most powerful foes each PC has faced or have a fear of facing. Avatars of gods (minor)


The Manor of the Mad Merchant

You have seen the wreckage of what is left in your wake. Most of it forgotten even by you. This journey has been hard – you have seen what becomes of the adventurer’s life. I can take some of this unhappiness from you. I can trade some of these unhappy thoughts and burdensome memories.

No Deal with the Mad Merchant

If no deal, DC 10 Sanity check or PC loses -1 Sanity permanently.

Making a Deal with the Mad Merchant

I can make a deal. i can give you something in exchange for for you reliving your experience on your way here. I can open the deck of fates and show you the way out. You rebuilt the dream of Barony of Beltam, city of Kwalando-Lai; Sir Bartrem, the Moon-Runner. His multi-aspect is grateful and wishes you to know that your dreams will rebuild you as you rebuilt his. But it is just dreams to you, whereas it is currency to me.

Rewards

For each scenario successfully completed, the PC will gain 1 Reward Point. Each encounter in the mirror adventure counts as a scenario. Characters may acquire a use of a common Fortune for 1 reward point, and uncommon Fortune for 2 reward points, and rare Fortune for 3.

Elements of the Adventure Cycle