It is a small valley on the mountain's side, that can be found by chance or purpose. An old track of little use leads here, between two large stones that resemble pillars (that's what most people think is the reason for the name).
Like the pillars, there are more stones crudely shaped to resemble something - mostly animals, or humanoid shapes. There are several old fireplaces, strange wooden constructions, even a small hut or two, but no permanent structures for no one stayed here to live. The more sensitive people can feel a small draught sometimes, as if there was a window open in your house. Animals will be unquiet at times, and sleeping here tends to produce strange dreams.
The most important feature is all but invisible to the eye, and a great power of mind is needed to find it. There is a crack in the mountain, thinner than a hair, which leads deep, all the way to the other side.
Useless to a mortal, it is a passage for spirits, a frequented crossroads in the spirit world. Those of a shamanistic bent (and sometimes even those without) can make contact here easily, not only with mountain spirits, but with many others, depending on their luck or lack thereof. Wise people of the tribes living around visit this place, to look for help and guidance. More than one shaman of their own is buried here.
(It should be noted that this valley is holy to the tribes around, and trespassers can get into trouble easily.)
The Mountain Gate has been always there, for ages untold. Some stories tell, that when the world was young, a giant spirit walked the earth, as immense as it was slow. It took millennia to reach this place, and here is where it fell asleep. Her many children were smaller and more agile, they played and explored and made the place their home; some of them grew up and became the other mountains of this mountain-range. Now, ages later, there are still late descendants living in the body of their ancestor. It is said, that one day, when the stars will come down from the sky, and the Sun will douse its flame, the spirit will wake up and lead all its kindred away. That will be the end.
And the crack, they say, is one of her ears.
If you want to speak with the spirits, this is the place to go. Many typical plots can arise:
- it is necessary to know the future, or the past, or simply get some other useful information. Assist the shaman on the way there, and during the rituals.
- a shaman/wise person/random passer-by has been possessed by a spirit. It is not necessarily malevolent, but needs something to take care of yet, or just wants to have fun. Catch him/her and bring back to the Mountain Gate where it all started. Proceed with exorcism. (Works especially well if the spirit belongs to someone the characters have known or even killed.)
- there have been several weak earthquakes recently, but they are getting stronger. As it is hard to contact any earthly spirit at the time, volunteers are necessary that will leave their body for a while, and find out what happens inside of the mountain. Perhaps a civil war between the rock spirits/elementals? Or were they insulted by the Living, and seek vengeance? A psychedelic trip with a diplomatic mission attached, and don't you get lost for your body might die...
- the place is a source of power and prestige. One of the tribes that share it wants to make it exclusive property; alternatively, someone from outside invades it. Of course it must be taken back. Pity that violence may attract spirits you really don't want to call.
- a powerful villain decides to seal the Crack forever. Help him or hinder him, and deal with all the consequences.
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? Responses (14)
Great setting, with plenty of springboards for adventures, problems and all of those lovely gems we like to toss at the unsuspecting who have made the mistake of venturing into our games.
I think if there were some plot hooks, and maybe some history I could give this post a higher vote, but as it is, it's 3.5
Needs more to make me really care. It is an interesting idea, but needs more. Do it and I will up my vote.
Updated: Added a few details and plot hooks.
Much, much better.
There's a whole new world to explore here - one where the normal laws of nature may not apply
Good stuff - 4 / 5
I really like the idea now it has new plot hooks added to it.
While the write up is sketchy and schematic, the idea behind is a very good one. This is the kind of post that makes a thousand ideas pop up at once and I just have to sigh and let 99,99% of them go.
I give it a 5.0 because of it's sheer plot and story boosting potential.
Then write them up!
I can do a schematic summary (the only thing I have the time to do):
-Denied passage: The soul of a deceased friend/family member/vassal cannot depart through the mountain gate, and his spectre appears in a PC's dreams. The players must travel to the mountain gate and meet their dead friend, then they must remedy his predicament.
-Rite of Shamanhood: The PC shaman must face the dark spirits of the mountain gate to attain his
totem of power. Problem is that a particularly powerful and malevolent spirit has taken residence near the gate, and it possess the shaman, banishing his soul to the spiritual temple of the lost. Only through outwitting the keeper and escaping the temple can the shaman regain control of his body, and harness the strength needed to defeat the spirit.
-Beacon of the Dead: A necromancer/sciomancer has built a small camp near the mountain gate and an artifact of his, the Beacon of the Dead, has been placed on a pidestal at the base of the gate. It attracts spirits like moths to a flame and once they touch it, they are bound to it. Soon the gate area is filled with the moaning spectres of the dead and the local priests will surely know something is wrong. It is up to the PCs to travel to the gates and destroy the artifact, so the natural order of things can be restored. But the mage has departed and taken his Beacon with him. He use it to unleash spectral terrors upon small villages and isolated keeps and then loot them of their possessions. Soon he will have built up a respectable amount of gold, a nice stronghold and an undead spectral host at his service. (A worthy foe indeed)
-The unwitting encounter: The PCs have travelled long and are weary. They set up camp close to a mountain, but the region is filled with strange winds. This night will be the longest night in camp ever, for the winds blow chill, there are whispers in the night and malevolent presences lurk nearby, their presence unseen but surely felt. When the PCs depart they will later be told by a priest that they slept close to the mountain gate itself, and on that very night the soul of Barathorn, the legendary warlock, departed this world through the mountain gate.
and so on and so on. The ideas just keep on coming. This is an excellent post manfred. Believe it. (Even though the above plot ideas could have used plenty of refinement. They are a brainstorm based on manfred's clever post)
Fixed the missing plus vote on this. We really have to use them more often.
'And the crack, they say, is one of her ears'
that's the line that got me!
as already said by others (better) great plot and atmosphere
An amazingly simple setup which provides tons of adventure possibilities. A great concept to use in many games.
This is a great location that can be used in many places, and the tone easily changed,