A Brief History
Eustacius is a rather small, yet enigmatic demiplane of minor chaos. Thousands of years ago, Siren Plume, the muse of word and thought was murdered by a vile demon who sought to defile and enslave her. As an immortal, the muse did not truly die. However, her sentience was shattered into thousands of fragments. One of those fragments congealed into the demiplane of Eustacius.
As far as demiplanes go, Eustacius is not very large. It is more of a plane of thought, rather than physical substance; a set of several dozen realms which are interconnected by concepts rather than actual pathways.
Recently, the mad archmage Devilango has set up abode in Eustacius; he dwells in the realm of MAGE, where he carries out his crazy experiments and incantations. That realm augments his powers greatly, as well as his ability to scry upon limitless realms with ease. (Feel free to substitute your own arch villain or adversary here)
Some Possible Hooks
-The PCs are commissioned by a wizard to deliver and stash a crystal ball on the realm of Mage; this will essentially function as a "relay" of sorts; augmenting the wizard's own ability to scry. To do this, they will have to navigate through the realms, defeat the mad archmage Devilango, deposit the crystal ball on MAGE, and make their way back to the starting point.
-For a shorter adventure, the PCs are trapped by an enemy on the realm of DEATH; they must navigate through the realms until they finally reach the SEASIDE; the only realm in which planar travel magic functions.
-The PCs need to gather intelligence on an enemy who is well-hidden; cloaked from even the most powerful scrying magics. With the augmented magics available on MAGE, it may be possible for the PCs to eavesdrop on this adversary.
-One legend is that the crystals on mage make exceptionally powerfou crystal balls. The PCs are geased, quested, or otherwise duped to bring back a large crystal from the realm of MAGE.
The various realms of Eustacius vary greatly in terms of climate, appearance, and even magic; some realms enhance magic, some dampen it, and others manifest wild magic. All the realms actually occupy the same physical space; they simply exist in different dimensions. Hence, teleportation between realms will not work, because all the realms share the same physical space. Note, however, that dimensional travel between realms might work (at the GM's discretion) The only realm that can be plane-shifted onto or off of is the Seaside realm.
The following traits are shared by all the realms, except where noted:
- Eustacius is a finite plane; approximately one mile in diameter. (Hence, each realm will be one mile in diameter)
- Time flows the same on Eustacius much faster than on the prime material plane.
- Gravity is the same as that of the prime material plane.
- For appearance's sake, most realms do not have borders or constraints. In reality, the edges of the realms are invisible, impermeable barriers through which no one and nothing can pass. Although it may appear that a realm stretches far beyond these edges, this is merely an illusion of sorts.
Each realm contains a freestanding stone archway about twelve feet tall and eight feet wide; decorated with a myriad of colorful translucent stones and crystals. About 15' away from some of the archways is a large flat stone table; with between four and nine impressions in a row along the top. Lying on and around the table are between four and nine large oval stones; corresponding to the number of impressions on the table. Each stone has a letter etched into it. Arranging all the stones on the top of the table so that they form a word will cause all the stones in the archway to glow brilliantly. A character passing through a glowing archway enters the realm corresponding to the word they spelled out.
If a stone is moved more than 100' away from the table, it explodes spectacularly and then re-forms moments later on the table. Molesting the table or archway causes it to glow red and then explode as well. Both will reform moments later.
Some archways will not have a table, and will simply glow whenever anyone approaches within 10'. (These are denoted on the map as bold black arrows). A diagram illustrating the interconnected realms is available at http://drop.io/EustaciusMap
When the PCs enter a realm, they will be situated on the western end, and the archway is always located at the east end.
The only realm which allows planar access to or egress from the plane, the "Seaside" serves as the entrance to the rest of the realms. A huge raised bed of rock, the "seaside" overlooks a vast "ocean" of rolling waves of fire and magma. These are the fires of the adjoining layers of the abyss; anyone approaching within 20 feet will feel the searing heat. Anyone foolish enough to enter the sea of fire will be subjected to the all-consuming fire of the abyss. The far end of the Seaside holds a lone stone archway. The Stones here are G,E,O,R (Ogre, Gore).
Past the archway is a sheer cliff wall roughly 200-feet high; atop which the wailing winds of pandemonium can be heard. It is a difficult climb to the top, as the strong winds will impede climbing. Anyone ascending to the top of the cliff will be swept away and lost to the wailing winds of pandemonium.
The sky is a maelstrom of red-black clouds; which quickly whip and swirl far overhead. These belong to yet another plane of the abyss; anyone flying higher than 200 feet is lost to the torrential winds of pandemonium.
All the vegetation on this blighted realm is dead; save for a huge oak tree positioned about fifty feet from the stone archway. A putrid stench covers the entire area. The landscape is littered with the gnarled skeletons of massive trees; all dead and barren. Closer inspection of any of the wood will reveal numerous tiny holes, as if swarms of tiny insects or worms have burrowed into them.
The "oak tree" is actually a life drinker; a parasitic plant which slowly leeches off the life force of any living creatures (animal or vegetation) near it. Close inspection of the "tree" will reveal that its trunk and branches are actually composed of thousands upon thousands of tiny separate tendrils; woven and wrapped together. Whenever any living thing approaches within 100 feet of the tree, it fires out thousands of tendrils once a minute. These tendrils burrow into anything organic, doing damage to flesh. However, the greatest danger is a horid wasting disease these tendrils carry.
The stones here are M,D,D,N,A,E (madden, demand, damned)
This realm has a lone denizen; a large, brutal ogre lounging near the archway. Every time this realm is entered, the ogre is reconstituted. The stones here are S,D,A,E,E,S,I (seaside, disease). Cruel and sadistic, the ogre will attack anyone it sees.
The air in this realm is hot and fetid. The entire landscape is littered with the flayed carcasses of various humanoids; which are piled high in some parts. The ground is soggy with the blood of all the corpses piled high. Lumbering across this realm is a huge, metallic golem which appears to be sifting through the corpses. (I used a Cadaver Collector from MM3 when I ran this) The creature is aimlessly moving through the corpses; its programming long ago carried out, with no other commands to fulfill. When anyone enters this realm, it will approach; mainly to identify whether the visitor(s) is its master. If attacked, it will reciprocate. The creature can be killed, but every time the realm is entered, it is reconstituted. There are no stones in here; only a glowing archway. (leads straight to DISEASE)
The lone denizen occupies this realm; a rather sly blue dragon (very old) who has taken one of the stones. When the party first enters this plane, he is standing near the table. Eying them warily, he will shamble off to one side (about a hundred feet away, or so). Unbeknownst to the party, he has taken one of the rocks (the 'E'). When the PCs start messing with the rocks, he will hold up the missing stone and ask "Is this what you are looking for?" He will demand a bribe to hand over the stone. Each consecutive time through this realm, the price doubles. The dragon has an excellent eye for appraisal. The dragon can be killed, but every time the realm is entered, the dragon is reconstituted. The stones here are D, N, E, U (Nude, Dune).
A fierce, howling wind screams across this desolate, dark, and rocky realm. Numerous buttes and outcroppings stand against the purple-red skyline. A half a dozen emaciated people dressed in ragged tunics can be seen, huddled and shivering under numerous outcroppings. They appear to be cowering in fear, and watching the PCs warily. If questioned, they will appear to be terrified of something called the "Scraw". In reality, they are vampires; and should the PCs ever approach within a couple feet of one, the entire group will attack. The stones are hidden among various boulders and outcroppings: The Stones here are G,E,O,R (Ogre, Gore).
This inky realm is very dark; extremely hard to see. A faint groaning can be heard off in the distance. All nonmagical light sources fail to function, and even magical light sources are reduced to half. A prickling chill is actually painful to the skin (This realm is actually a lesser plane of negative energy; living creatures take slow but constant damage while on it). Several ghosts of terrifying visage waft through here; due to the negative plane traits, each will be significantly enhanced. Note that part of the challenge here will be to somehow find the archway in the darkness. The stones here are D, N, E, U (Nude, Dune).
Actually, a quite pleasant place; this appears to be a large glade in full bloom; flowers and blossoming trees speckle the rolling green hills. An exact likeness of the characters' most despised enemy or adversary is created here. No stones, just a glowing archway (leads to GORE)
The air is a thick fog (a cloud of insanity) which provides concealment to all creatures more than 5' away. The occupants of this realm are a group of small, insane humanoids who will attempt to taunt and annoy the PCs before outright attacking. While on this realm, the PCs will be constantly exposed to the insanity gas; which can potentially cause them to act as if confused, enraged, or even afraid. The denizens are already quite insane, hence they are immune to the gas. The stones here are D, N, E, U (Nude, Dune).
When the PCs enter this dimension, all their nonliving items disappear. The entire realm is covered with rolling hills, along with several sparse trees. Across this realm prowl two giant wolves. Note that, when the PCs exit this realm, all their belongings reappear, intact. The stones here are E, M, G, A (Game, mage).
This sandy realm appears empty, but extremely hot. About halfway across, a salt mummy rises up out of the sand. No stones, just a glowing archway; leading to GAME. (You could substitute a giant worm for the salt mummy, but I thought that was a bit too obvious)
The entire realm is a crystalline landscape; glassy hillsides and outcroppings give it the appearance of being entirely encased in jagged ice. Everywhere, each crystal facet seems to display a different scene from various locations or dimensions. Magic on this plane is doubled; this is where Devilango will be. All spells have double range, area of effect, and damage. Naturally, due to the nature of this plane, he will have a very good idea of who the PCs are, their tactics, and when they arrive; so he will be pretty buffed up and ready to fight. No stones, just a glowing arch (leads to DEATH)
This realm is barren and rocky, save for some scraggly bushes. Near the archway stands the large statue of a grotesque monster with four clawed arms, batlike wings, and a single horn protruding from the top of its head (an immense stone gargoyle). If approached, the "statue" will move, going to protect the stones for this realm, and saying "Ah, you are finally here to challenge me!". The monster (named Anthony) is very possessive of the stones, and will do whatever it can to keep the PCs from gaining the stones; all the while muttering "Not your rocks; MY rocks! You don't touch my rocks!"
The creature, however, is quite partial to playing games. If the PCs don't out-and-out attack him, and if he is convinced his rocks are safe, he will ask the PCs if they want to play a game. If they agree, he will get very excited (like a little kid about to go to a party), and offer the PCs several games to play. He has dice (dice wars), and cards. He particularly likes dice wars and poker, but without something to bet, these get boring; he will request the PCs offer something to bet, in return, he will wager his stones.
Dice wars: 2 players roll 2D6 concurrently. The first person to get 12 or higher wins.
? If you roll doubles, you get +1 to your next roll.
? If you roll a total of 7, your opponent gets +1 to their turn.
? If you roll 11, you get +2 to your next roll
? If you roll snake eyes, you miss your next turn.
The stones here are D, H, T, A, and E (hated, death)
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Now that my group got through this, I can finally post it. You may note that the original title on the map was 'A Fool's Errand'. This was the original title, and it had to do with a much larger plotline which I am NOT going to elaborate on, for fear of prematurely divulging too much to the players in my group.
Probably more of a 'side adventure', this also serves as fun place to stick your PCs should they ever get banished to another plane or decide to mess with interplanar travel.
A fun little place, not nice to be trapped in though.
I really like this one. This one is more than just a novel idea, though it is that as well, it really sounds like a fun/slightly frustrating puzzle dimension that is extremely usable. I love the 'map' you included, that is of huge benefit to the GM. I just wish my printer was working so I could print this one and run with it. Great stuff, this is.
I agree with Pieh. I really like how it's all pretty much a big puzzle, but with some combat and such thrown in to keep it interesting. I like the plot ideas and the map would be handy when running it.
Very, very good. I like this a lot. Did you find the realms to be too much, too few, or just right when you ran it? I hope you do include the complete context of this 'fool's errand' at sometime in the future.
Our campaign is D&D 3.5; within that context, the Eustacius adventure ran about 5 hours. Once the PCs got the hang of the stones, they learned to be wary of certain realms before they even set foot in them. They visited about 3/4 of the realms in order to accomplish their goal.
Now that this campaign is winding down, I'll try to post more stuff from it.
Puzzles! Dimensions! Good times!
But seriously, this is very good. The stones, the puzzles, and some of the "dimensional" ideas are nifty. I'd certainly like to see more, now that your campaign is winding down.
The map link is dead