Mirror of Broken Dreams

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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: The Steel Realms

Planned Location

Environment:

Premise

The PC's are transported to a place and time nearby in The Dreamscape. they are thrust into the role of trying to change the course of events someplace out of time by reliving the battles that happened in a city sacked by an evil marauding army. If they can change enough, it will have a rippling effect in their own world, stopping a great calamity about to happen. This adventure is the largest scenario of the Mad Merchant of Fate Adventure. It can be run as part of that, or as an adventure unto itself.

Motivation: MacGuffin?
The PC's want to escape the land of the mirror in order to escape the dream they are imprisoned in.

Challenges

Timeline

Background

Background Facts:

It all seems familiar, there are only nearly forgotten myths and half-remembered tales from 4000 years ago.

  • An Eldritch Knight fought here, and possibly sacrificed himself to stop the onslaught a mixed army of Orrish (goblin and ork) and evil savage humans. It can be none other than the City of Kwalando-Lai (a strange eastern-sounding name); Sir Bartrem, the Moon-Runner. Sir Bartrem’s sight was said to be eternally vigilant, a light in the darkness of many places which had fallen to darkness.
  • A great horde of the creatures of darkness had caused an eclipse of the sun to remain permanent. In the dim light, the horde began by sacking the lands of this famous Eldritch Knight and those around him and under his protection. His fabled city of Kwalando-Lai was razed. The horde was eventually contained, though by what means is unknown - it simply vanishes from history. Sir Bartrem was never heard of again.
  • It was said Sir Bertram had a magic mirror that he could see and travel into any place with through his dreams, and that it was shattered when his enemies sacked his home, and with that the dreams of his peace for the land.

Getting there

Assembling the Party: As you drift off to sleep, your thoughts are troubled. Your dreams are strange, almost as if you are dreaming in your own dreams. Night after night you have had disturbed sleep, and rest has been hard to come by… war has disturbed your sleep night after night. Now you dream of a place where water is plentiful, crops grow every year, and few want for anything. In your dreams is a face - a face unrecognizable. It is a man’s and he watches over the people of his land, dreaming his own dreams of peace and prosperity, and genuinely working to make the dreams happen in his waking hours. You see this take place across many cities, towns and villages - always the same face, seemingly on multiple worlds even.

When you wake, it is to the sound of snorting horses, horns in the distance and the smell of smoke. You cast about for the source and realize it's just beyond the door to your room. Your companions seem nowhere to be found, so you hastility dress in your armor, gathering weapons and equipment to do battle. You burst through the door hoping to take the attackers by surprise and stumble into a smoke shrouded corridor. Quickly you lost track of where you are, and stumble blindly. The smell in the air changes from smoke and sweat, to a field and wet grass. You shake off the cobwebs from your senses and look around. You as well as others stand around fully equipped. You get the sense that all of them had the same experience as you - no one is sure how to react. Helmets are doffed, hands raised, and faces shown.

Allow the party to make greetings and introductions to each other. Taking stock of good is what they would normally be carrying while exploring or investigating. There are no mounts or servants, only a day worth of food and drink.

After a while, their peace will be interrupted:

In the distance you hear multiple horns – some sort of military code is being blown. You run to the nearest rise to the north and drop down along its top, spreading out. To the north is a city of several thousand inhabitants.The city is obviously the site of a siege – many small first are still lit and dwindling. You see soldiers running into the city and eventually the march of feet in unison. Within an hour, you can tell they have left on the far side of the town. It appears sacked and abandoned.

City of Kwalando-Lai

The city has been recently sieged and sacked.

City from a Distance

You smell smoke and death on the wind, and as you crest the next rise, the road leads down into a once-beautiful vale, though all is ashes now – but at its heart is a town. Rising above the wreckage, there is a large tower at the center, scorched and ruined but still standing. An army is clearly leaving on the far side, going away from you.

Getting closer… nothing moves but rodents and insects.

Outskirts of the city of Kwalando-Lai

A low rise hides a small meadow to your southeast. From around the rise rides a single goblin Worg rider. He sees you and peels his mount back behind the rise.

Opponents:
Goblin Worg Rider: AC 13 | HP 13 > spear + STR of Worg (+3) while mounted
Worg: AC 13 | HP 30 > bite
Tactics: If he escapes he will summon the entire raiding party; if the goblin falls, the Worg will stand watch over the body for an hour – trying to ambush anyone who comes near.

PC’s can get 1 shot at 60’, 1 at 120’ with disadvantage due to movement and cover. If he gets away, he will get his whole advanced scouting party thinking the PCs are just refugees for easy pickings. The scouting party is him + 3 more goblin riders with Worgs. Captives reveal the army is going to camp for the night in 2 days, and use the city as a base to rest and raid the surrounding country.

Insight DC 15

The PC’s may notice that these are organized – well trained, tougher than normal (twice as tough as normal goblins) and wearing tabards and boots. The tabard is of the black hand upon the golden sun with a sickly blue halo.

If a goblin gets away, the PC’s will be limited to 24 hours before another Worg party comes after them.

City up Close

The streets are littered with barricades and bodies. The city held several thousand – and had at least 3 major roads running through it – obviously a major intersection for trade. Nothing seems to move but a few rats, dogs, and flies – it appears as if all the inhabitants have been killed.

Have the PC’s make 3 Perception checks as they move through; Nothing truly matters, just keeping the party on their toes. Once the party has had the situation fully sink in, you can remind the PC’s that by all appearances, the army has left and that it would be safe to scout.

Scouting for a Route Into Kwalando-Lai

From your vantage point you can see there is a fairly open route from what you think is the east side of the town, from the edge of town to the tower’s remains. There are still a lot of ruins and broken barricades, but the east west route runs directly through the grounds of the tower, and the east route is mostly clear. It is clear that from the vantage point of the fortified tower, the entire city could be seen, and the hunt for survivors would be that much more effective.

There is little else to be seen in the sacked city. Everywhere the PC’s go is devastation. If the PC’s need to be nudged, you can have them follow a figure that they see scampering through the ruins. This figure will lead them on a chase, eventually leading down the eastern road.

A Figure in the Ruins…

You see the flash of a mirror like surface from a broken window of the tower at the center of town. In pursuing the figure through the wreckage, time and again its angle flashes at you, as if some sort of beacon.

The Eastern Route Into Kwalando-Lai

The road is full of dead bodies and broken barricades. The constant sound of flies and knowledge of what they are here for makes you sick. There were no exception, no one was spared or given mercy. You press your way through the wreckage, keeping the tower in sight the whole time. The eastern road seems to lead right up to it – the only road still passable without having to move much debris.

It leads to The Tower of Sir Bartrem.

Encounters in City of Kwalando-Lai

There is no particular order the PC’s must go in. You can describe the major points of conflict from looking out from the top of the tower. There are about a dozen. The PC’s can gather up all the shards or one at time.

Marauding Soldiers

The soldiers are dressed in uniform – goblins, humans, orks and the like – at least a tabard (black hand upon the golden sun with a sickly blue halo), belt, and boots. They are far from the rabble you would normally see in the creatures of darkness – they are disciplined (to a degree), and eye you warily – assessing you before charging headlong into battle.

Level 1 min; 2 levels under the PC; 7 x level HP, AC: 14 or 16 w/shield; +3 attack; Halberd (6 +2) or longsword (4+2)
– Per 3 soldiers = Corporal; HD = highest PC x 8, +1 AC, +1 damage
– Tactics: Outnumber; Shield wall, dual facing (advantage flank attack)
Treasure: D6gp per level, per soldier

What actually Happens in Combat Re-enactment

The PCs take the place of those that were physically there. Their actions are reflected in the ideas and actions of the beings they “inhabit”. While those beings don’t have the same power, the results of the PCs combat are reflected in ambushes, ideas for attack, and the combat of the masses. Its confusing as the dreamscape “translates” the PC’s action into results in the siege of the city, but there is a soothing voice that speaks to the PC’s, speaking of dreams, fate, and the actions of the one and the actions of the many.

The Tower of Sir Bartrem

Outside, the tower appears to still be structurally sound, soaring what must be nearly 70 feet in the air and having a diameter of nearly 40 feet. Several battering implements are broken and scattered around its base. Smoke wafts out the few broken broken windows (of which there are none on the other levels) at the top, but no flames lick up its sides. A scorched mound of bodies is piled several feet away – the smell of roasting flesh is strong on the breeze. The sign of a large moon is chiseled into the arch above the broken door.

The bodies are all the soldiers who died in the attack – there are 2 dozen or more dead (and who knows how many wounded limped away from the carnage)! The tabard of the black hand upon the golden sun with a sickly blue halo can be made out between the burns and blood. The tower is 5 stories of 70 feet tall with a broken roof. The doors are battered down and you can easily peer inside.

Exploring the Tower

The stairs are made of stone and lead up alternating on the east and west “sides” of the round tower. There are frescoes decorating the walls inside, but most have been defaced and splashed with blood. The inside was lavish and beautiful, reliefs carved into the ceiling and painted are now splashed with waste and anything of value chopped and broken in an obviously brutal looting.

Once the PC’s have made a cursory run of the base to the top, their primary explorer should make four DC 10 Perception checks to arrive at some conclusions. Those with Military lore get their bonus.

  • The tower entrance could be re-barricaded with about an hours worth of work for 3 people.
  • No final stand; people were taken one at a time from hiding places and executed as the attackers made their way up to the top of the tower (and dumped down the stairs).
  • Not Orrish who did this; humans and the like made this mess (graffiti is not Orrish).
  • No flames currently burning, just smoke (was there magic protection on the tower?).

Ground Floor

Stairs lead up to the level above, and at the base are a stack of bodies covered in flies – the bodies are heaped where they landed and stripped bare of any valuables. Searching through some of the debris at the base of the tower reveals a sealed cellar door – still locked and barred from inside the tower. You find broken chain enough to fashion a makeshift pull which would suffice to raise the heavy stone door (which would obviously be left open most of the time). The stone has a few cracks from when it fell back into place heavily, and signs of attempts to open it by the attackers are obvious – there must have been resistance from below.

The Cellars

Encounters here are no Re-enactments; they are unique and “real”.

Larder: Level 1

Hauling on the heavy chains releases a fetid cloud of death-smell. There is the sound of teeth clacking as the groans of the chains are silenced by your stillness. Horrified, you drop the chains, but something makes a grating cough and you spy a long, pale arm easily hold one edge of the stone ‘lid’ whilst slavering zombie like goblins with blackened skin scutter outward, eyes blazing with black light, and move to attack you.

Down below are 4 zombies with tabard of the black hand upon the golden sun with a sickly blue halo. These are soldiers that died from a gas trap after entering the cellars, and were risen with the necromantic siphoned spirits from the summoning chamber below.

Wine and Secure Stores: Level 2

Secure Summoning: Level 3

One of the magus apprentices made their way here and tried to summon aid. The desperate apprentice sacrificed 4 of the kitchen staff in an attempt to create Siphoned Spirits to defend him. Four goblins were killed by them, but they turned on the apprentice when they were locked in. A secret door normally protects entry to this chamber. Siphoned Spirits: Black orbs of necromantic origins which can be used to animate corpses.

Servants and Stores (Level 2)

This floor is ransacked completely – similar to the rest of the tower. After a cursory examination you surmise it was probably servants quarters and stores. Stairs lead up and down.

There is nothing specifically to find here; a long examination with DC 15 Perception check may net 3-30 silvers hidden in various places.

Dining and Reception (Level 3)

This floor is ransacked completely – similar to the rest of the tower. After a cursory examination you surmise it was probably a dining hall and reception. Stairs lead up and down.

There is nothing specifically to find here; a long examination with DC 15 Perception check may net 30-300 in goods in the debris.

Guest Quarters (Level 4)

This floor is ransacked completely – similar to the rest of the tower. After a cursory examination you surmise it was probably guest quarters. Stairs lead up and down.

There is nothing specifically to find here; a long examination with DC 15 Perception check may net 3-30 silvers hidden in various places.

Quarters of the Wizard Angrem (Level 5)

This floor is ransacked completely – similar to the rest of the tower. After a cursory examination you surmise it was probably guest quarters – though likely premiere guests, there is some religious and arcana iconography shattered in the debris. Some of the roof is cracked and the entire plaster covering of the walls seems to have been shaken loose – covering everything. Stairs lead up to what is likely the final level before the roof and back down.

This is the level below the sanctum, home to wizard Angrem Creb. There is nothing specifically to find here with cursory examination; a long examination with DC 15 Perception may reveal it to be worth another look.

Although previously unremarkable, this level stands out after repeatedly passing through it to explore the tower. The amount of blood on the walls, floor and stairs here is staggering. the blood seems to be from many different types of creatures – none of which are present in the ruins.

A a DC 20 Perception check thorough search will reveal a shard of the mirror [A mirror-like glint winks at you from out of the black ashes and debris.]. If the PC’s have come across other pieces of the mirror, they get +5 on their check. A Survival check DC 20 or 15 with experience with the creatures remains, could reveal the different blood types once a thorough search is made; the remains of a few apprentices (Jenx and Fadwell), a bugbear, a minotaur, an ogre, a homunculus, flesh golem, and a faerie dragon are among the blood and bones found hereabouts.

Tactical Assessment: DC 15 Perception or 10 with Lore: Military

Despite the wreckage and looting, you piece together the battle that took place with a great many creatures, but find no clues or anything else of value. The only thing of note are magical inscriptions which lead you to believe this was the sanctuary of a magic-user.

Successful Assessment = +5 on the Terror check as the group has some idea of what’s coming.
The remains of the Circle of Power can be spotted with a DC 15 Arcana check by a wizard (+5 on check), sorcerer or bard; this will give them +5 on their check to use the circle when the time of the battle comes.

The Battle!

When you find the place the broken shard fits, it hesitantly seals along the edges, making the mirror one step closer to being whole… You look into the mirror as it fuses with the unbroken pieces and are pulled in - literally falling forward, into a shining brilliance. Crying, smoke, the smell of urine, sweat, shit and blood is heavy. Fear is in everyone’s eyes. Looking around...
- The trap door in the floor is banging from below. Some sort of battering ram is being used. The magics and locks holding the door only have a matter of time before they fail – black light flickers through the straining timbers. the violence and evil emanating from below is palpable – the ultimate demise seems certain. The wizard begins the incantations… joined by a pair of apprentices. From the tower wall springs rock creature, a minor daemon is summoned forth from the circle inscribed in the floor, in a flash of smoke a massive bear shambles to the straining door – a golem of flesh and a strange familiar or similar creature move to defend the magus; creatures of all sorts are conjured and just as the door bulge in and the soldiers of the enemy prepare to spill in, the wizard turns his attention to the incoming horde.

When you find the place the broken shard fits, it hesitantly seals along the edges, making the mirror one step closer to being whole… You look into the mirror as it fuses with the unbroken pieces and are pulled in - literally falling forward, into a shining brilliance. Crying, smoke, the smell of urine, sweat, shit and blood is heavy. Fear is in everyone’s eyes. Looking around...
- ; The check is DC 11. Magic using types should make a DC 15 Intelligence check (each round, remember the bonus if the character made the magical ). A successful check will give them knowledge of using the Circle of Power – an inscribed circle of his “home” base of power. In it, he has all the benefits of a Magical Surge and in addition to whatever spells they normally cast, they may also cast a cantrip each round at initiative 20.

Sanctum/Mirror Room (Level 6)

At the top is what is obviously a sanctum for a magi. The accouterments are broken and scattered – mostly looted. There are 7 large windows made of some sort of strange glass – 2 of them appear to be broken out, facing east-ish. In this chamber is a large broken mirror. The hairs on the back of your neck stand out – you sense that there is something of great magic nearby – probably the mirror. Part of the roof is collapsed and even seems missing – you could easily climb up the debris to the broken battlements above.

The broken out windows look like there was an explosion. DC 15 Perception to understand windows blew out, not in, and glass is not natural.

Looking out the Broken Windows

The wind brings the faint smell of acrid smoke from the town below. The jagged shards hurt your vision, your eyes cannot seem to focus on the on the open area between the shards – your eyes are pulled in different directions. One of the windows however, allows you to see out over a small part of the town without the painful effect.

DC 10 Perception

A bright, yellow temple

A bright yellow temple stands starkly clashing with the burn marks and blood splashed upon its walls. The massive double doors are open, and part of the roof is burnt as well. Whatever battle may have taken place there was likely inside, not out – for only a few yellow priests robes can be seen in the courtyard, along with dozens of followers who sacrificed themselves

Movement in the ashes

No flash of light, just movement where none should be. A wagon kicks up the ashes around an area that you now notice seems untouched by the flames. By the size of the cylinders, you can surmise that the activity is next to the city grain silos – the marauders are perhaps raiding the stores.

View from the [Broken] Tower Top

The smell of smoke, death, and the sound of faint cries reaches you up at the top – as if some magic has gathered up sensory input and somehow brought it to you. There are few things that catch your eyes, smoke drifts up all over the city, but you think your eye caught a faint reflection out of the corner of your strained vision.

DC 10 Perception; at some point, midst the ash and debris, there appears to be some sort of flashing – like that of a mirror.

A bright, yellow temple

A bright yellow temple stands starkly clashing with the burn marks and blood splashed upon its walls. The massive double doors are open, and part of the roof is burnt as well. Whatever battle may have taken place there was likely inside, not out – for only a few yellow priests robes can be seen in the courtyard, along with dozens of followers who sacrificed themselves

Looking out the Glass Windows

Looking through the windows is like looking through the lens of a magnifying glass. You can seem to center a viewport and see fine details as you look out each. After a few moments though, your head begins to ache.

The the person looking out does not have Occult Aptitude, or is not a Wizard, Sorcerer or Bard, they must make a DC 10 Sanity check. If they fail, they will get a splitting headache, suffering a cumulative (but non-lethal) level of Exhaustion for 1 hour.

Continued looking out the glass windows:

Learning to focus the view-port of the mirror takes a bit of time, and gives you a headache. After a while, it gets easier and you are able to scan the town, seeing surprising levels of detail. The windows seems to transport all senses – taste, sound, sight, and smell to a degree (and it seems to be fading). You make a thorough scan of the area and note that as some point, midst the ash and debris, there appears to be some sort of flashing – like that of a mirror.

  1. A manor mansion and grounds:

    You look upon a walled estate – one among many estates, but the only walled estate. Its obvious some sort of battle was fought (and lost) there – like elsewhere, flames still burn and the bodies remain where they fell. what stands out is the numbers – a last stand of sorts was made here.

  2. The slums:

    Every city has them, and in this case the slum appears to be treated even worse than the rest. Burned nearly to the ground. Its obvious that the slum burning was intentional – nothing to loot meant that nothing was spared.

  3. A large Inn (The Three Hitch Inn):

    A large inn and stables is the obvious scene of a pitched battle. The inn is mostly burned, and barricades and piles of bodies are obvious from a distance. Smoke clouds any clearer perspective.

  4. A bright, yellow temple:

    A bright yellow temple stands starkly clashing with the burn marks and blood splashed upon its walls. The massive double doors are open, and part of the roof is burnt as well. Whatever battle may have taken place there was likely inside, not out – for only a few yellow priests robes can be seen in the courtyard, along with dozens of followers who sacrificed themselves.

  5. The town hall:

    The brick hall lies in ruins. The long processional way leading to it marks its ceremonial function. An obvious town hall, reinforced as a means for large gathers and civic unrest, stands in flames.

  6. Town square:

    Another place where a stand was made – dozens of bodies strewn about, many more at the edges towards one end – perhaps cut down as they were fleeing.

  7. A large plaza:

  8. A massive warehouse:

  9. The Granary:

    From a distance you manage to see movement of a beast of burden kicking up ashes near silos which can only be the city granary. It’s attached to a cart, and soon goblins come around to throw sacks into the back of the wagon. Looking closer, it appears that a group of people are assembled in the orchard behind it for execution. About a dozen goblins, and a few armored humans are overseeing this process.

    DC 15 PER check to see Ogre that’s got a hold of several steer, mostly concealed by orchard. 14 goblins studded leather, 5 humans in chain mail; dozens of captives = 31.

Examining The Mirror

The mirror is broken in the middle – many jagged edges are still exposed, the pieces of the mirror in the frame are mostly still intact. The mirror does not seem to reflect a stable surface – there is something odd about it. It is cracked almost all over – even pieces still in the frame are cracked and broken.

The mirror is in a lot of pieces. DC 10 PER check to notice that the broken pieces on the floor are not enough to fill the frame of the mirror.

Rebuilding > DC 10 Investigation check to piece it back together – pieces on the floor and found ones. Once half the pieces [on the floor or other] are restored, it becomes easy (DC 5).

Closer Examination of the Mirror

The mirror seems to be a view-port to some place else, its a image that goes up and down, up and down. the vision is cracked and there is no detail to be made out.

DC 10 PER check in staring at the mirror – smell sea salt, salty breeze, hear ropes creaking; DC 15 can see is the deck of a ship and there are people on it. There are pieces of broken mirror on the floor, that when held up to the frame can be matched to broken edges on a DC 10 Investigation check.

Handling the Mirror Pieces > They will cut through anything but stone or wood used to transport them. Anyone handling them each round must make a DC 10 DEX check or it goes through cloth and leather and cuts the person for 1 point of damage.

Restoring Pieces of the Mirror > In many of the buildings, there is a piece of the broken mirror. These fit into the shattered frame and rebuild it. If a piece of the mirror is held against the edges physically with the place they broke out of, it will “repair itself” – tightly melding back into place. However, the PC doing so must make a DC 10 Sanity check of suffer a (non-lethal) cumulative level of Exhaustion. Using Mending, Unseen Servant or Mage Hand will negate this effect.

Figuring out What the Mirror Does > If no PC made any relevant lore check to discover some of the history and the hint at the magic of the mirror, the GM may rule there is enough papers to look through and any Bard, Wizard, or Sorcerer may divine the nature of the mirror as a means of transporting them out (DC 15 Arcana). The mirror can only be entered in their dreams, and only when it is unbroken. Ten repeated uses of mending ll seal all cracks and smooth the surface and for a round it will appear whole. If the PC’s fail, they will not receive the “deciphering” bonus.

Using The Mirror

If the PC’s approach a re-completed mirror:

The mirror flashes and all the minor imperfections vanish as it glimmer and gleams. The radiance is like something out of a dream. A deep part of you is drawn to the mirror, but it seems solid to your physical body.

If the PC’s sleep nearby, it will call to them like a beacon:

Attempting to use a Broken Mirror > The 10 uses of mending will allow it to act as a portal for 1 round. However, there is a 1 in 4 chance that instead of transporting the character entering it home, it will cast them into the Ethereal plane.

– It is up to the GM to let them simply use the mirror by physically treating it as a portal to facilitate the adventure.

Reward

Deciphering Bonus: (Figuring out the dream trigger without having to make an Arcana check.)

Creatures and Persons of Note

Non-player Characters….