My Travels in the Lands of the Pyromancers
During certain years, people in Akgku claim to observe a green flame coming from the sea and erupting upward. It can be observed from a distance of two days' journey or more. After burning for a considerable time, the flame disappears.
—Falklyde Wodinger, Haraconian scholar, in route to wondrous Udross and legendary Akgku.
These are the disjointed notes from the lost journal of Falklyde Wodinger. Alas, apart from these saved pages, we have little knowledge of that strange, eastern land. What little we have, we treasure.
-Brother Mallet Obrekian, Cistern-Keeper of Thartrus Monastery
Imagine a land of dry stone, of fire spouts, gas geysers, and naptha sinkholes. This is the land of the Fire Worshippers, the Pyromancers of Akgu. Long called the aptly named " Lands of Green Fire", due to the natural phenomena of numerous "burning hillsides" dotting the landscape, the emissions caused by gasses seeping through fissures in the earth, the Lands of Green Flame lie in that great, eastern expanse of desert and rock, beyond the more modern cities of Udross, and well beyond the unforgiving pale.
All around this place, for a distance of dozens of miles, if one digs a mere two or three inches into the ground and applies a live coal, the uncovered soil instantly takes fire—almost before the coal touches the earth. This flame heats the soil but neither consumes nor marks it, and it is not terribly hot.
For unnumbered ages, gas generated by the subterranean stores of green-black oil, has escaped from the fissures in the limestone crag, and the fires caused of this gas, has lighted the prayers of generations of priests, as it blazed and flared away to the heavens.
...The Lands of Green Flame, the expanse of which one must traverse, in order to reach Venerable Akgku, is not without its dangers. Most worrisome of all, are the Ash-Reavers, those men and women who have been expelled or cast out of the Pyromancers Temple, for some unknown transgression. It was told to me, that these pariahs, escape and withdraw into the formidable and mostly unexplored deserts, and wander the dunes for all eternity, or at least until the next convergence of the World Vortex. These loathsome beings appear as emaciated half-humans, covered in blackest soot, and are purported to breathe clouds of suffocating ash from their mouths. I have gleamed little else, as to the actual nature of these cursed creatures, and was fortunate, for our caravan did not encounter one of the undead beings of Udross waste-lands, on our voyage to Akgku...
The Fire Temple of Iskravalanya stands in the near-forgotten city of Akgku.
Built, back during the mystifying Age of Thickest Fog, a time whose riddles, still puzzle even the greatest of scholars, the Temple was erected by one Iskravalanya, a great queen of that era, whose name meant Protected-By-Fire-and Flame, and whose other deeds are now forgotten, and has since stood; little changed these past four thousand years, jutting out from the eastern Peninsula of Carchereae.
Akgku, meaning First in tongues most ancient, is the antiquarian capital of the now defunct Kingdoms of Udross. Based on the nearby ancient inscriptions this has been a center of prayer for many ages. Though nearly devoid of citizens, the Cult of Fire, whose worshippers still dwell inside the city of stone and open air, have been attending the Everlasting Flame for untold generations, and still do, to this day.
The Temple is adorned with a hundred malachite stupas, each representing one of the Hundred Known Flames, while the central structure, shaped as a wide and irregular ziggurat, represents the Everlasting Flame itself. The center of the central shrine is an open, raised malachite pavilion. The temple expresses the idea of a closed world, that of a fiery beginning and a fiery end. The latter expression is felt when one enters the building proper.
During my visit, I have studied the oral histories and the dogma of the Pyromancers Cult. It is said by their wise-men, that the Everlasting Flame has burned from the time the World Vortex had subsided, four thousand years ago, and it is said, will continue to burn, until the the anticipated return of the next World Vortex, at which point, the insufferable winds will lick and suck up the flames, and cause a great, whirlwind of fire to engulf the Worlds of Men.
Beneath the Temple lies the Crematorium, a vast catacomb of twists and turns, built of granite, sandstone, marble and malachite, tortuous to navigate, for the uninitiated. The Crematorium is where the ashes of the Faithful and the Immolated are entombed, in special lyme and asbestos-lined conical casks and urns. For four thousand years (since the founding of the latest Fire Temple), the ashes of the deceased fire-worshippers have been buried here, and now, an uncountable number of urns and casks line the walls. Fissures carved into the rock of the Crematoiums walls, alight with a pale greenish glow, illuminate the way for those making their way along the eerie, deathly silent tunnels. Many areas of the Crematorium are filled with poisonous earthen gases, and perhaps most deadly of all, an occasional Urn Beast can be found haunting the endless corridors of stone. In fact, more than the occasional Urn Beast, truth be told, can be found inside the Crematorium.
Thieves and other undesirables, whenever spared the flames, are sometimes sent down alive into the catacombs below, cursed to wander its dimly lit halls of bottle-green tints and whitewashed walls painted with innumerable sigils and swirls of rusted red dye, annotating the cults four thousand year old history. Gloomy mausoleums, carved with infinite alcoves, filled with myriad cocoon-like casks and urns, some populated with lairing, fiery spirits, waiting to be unleashed. Many have been driven mad, expired of hunger or thirst, or immolated by the Urn Beasts over the millenniums, if left to their own devices below the Temple. It is whispered other secrets and horrors lie in the cyclopean vastness of the Crematorium, but tales of these mysteries sounded too fanciful to my ears, and they will remain unrecorded by this hand.
The Pyromancer and the High Priestess are the fanciful titles of the rather self-effacing and aloof keepers of the Temple, who prefer to be refered to as Oggonites, named after Ogonne, a beloved Pyromancer-Priest of a distant time and age, despite the fact the Temple itself is named after Iskravalanya, whom Ogonne revered in his day.
The current High Priestess, Akirti Silamah Tolkoterina, the Blogaborinya, She-Who-Bathes-In-Flames, is merely nine years of age, though possessed of the Blazing Truth, and wise beyond her years.
The current Pyromancer Supreme, Pagostipsis, the Nemvidimnoy, the Ever-Burning, is a shark-like man, hairless and seemingly sculpted of smooth, white chalk.
The Liquid Jewels, the Melted Jewels of Iskravalanya are all corundums, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, heated to their utter crystalline melting point, by the impossibly hot fires of the Everlasting Flame. The Jewels are kept floating in six ceremonial bowls of green chalcedony, ensorcelled to withstand the heat.
The Djarqa-Darra, the Lizard of Brilliant Flames, is a creature related to the ancient, long extinct race of Flame Salamanders. The Djarqa-Darra is the size of a small monitor lizard, with thousands of scales, blinding, ruby-red motes, each one aflame. The lizards scales are said to be so blistering hot, as to ignite all flammable materials and matter, within five feet of the creature. The Djarqa Darra is kept in a gigantic granite vat of heated oil at all times, inside the main shrine. Its escape could prove disastrous to the few but stubborn inhabitants of Akgku and its environs, in the estimation of this humble scholar.
The Key Which Never Burns is a palm-sized polyhedron of red porphyry, kept on the High Priestess person during the Bright Night celebration, and otherwise hidden in solid rock. It is said this mystical object, will be the only thing at the end of the world, which will not be burned into infinite ash, by the cosmic World Vortex. It serves as a symbolic anchor for the faithful.
Doka, a Doka is a small container for safely carrying a live coal. The device is useful for lighting fuses with minimum fuss. On a cold night, it can be used to warm fingers before a delicate task. I certainly hope to take one of these contraptions back to Haracon. We could certainly use them at the monastery.
Tumne-Jarkka, the Living Smoke During the Immolation Rite, self-sacrificing disciples and adherents willingly bathe themselves in the Everlasting Flame, incinerating themselves and sending countless wisps of foul-smelling smoke rising into the night skies. On nights of the Beggars Moon (thinnest crescent), this smoke will sometimes take on a near-sentience, and float over sands, rock, and hills into neighboring thorps and villages, making its way into the mouths and nostrils of unsuspecting, and usually sleeping folk. On the morrow, many of the Living Smokes victims begin to develop a strange compulsion, bidding them to travel to the Temple of Iskravalanya and pay homage to the Eternal Flame. I have witnessed this phenomenon with my own eyes, and am at a loss to provide a plausible explanation for this Exigency.
It must be noted that the Pyromancers of Akgku use the term, 'pyromancer', differently than we do in the West. Wherein our pyromancers are sorcerer obsessed with fire and flame, these people are priests and prophets, they derive their power from unknown sources. I would have to stay here, among them, many more years than I could dare to remain, to learn their secrets. I can however tell you and pinpoint, one definitive source of their power. Their uncanny and unshakable faith.
Game Notes: These collected passages, are the only words left from Falklyde Wodinger's famous work, My Travels in the Lands of the Pyromancers, each remaining, fragile page, saved and treasured by the Brotherhood of the Thartrus Monastery.
It can and should be used as an actual PC handout, if ever they visit a library, museum, or consult some sage into the whereabouts of some ancient land or some erstwhile cult of fire worshippers, dwelling inside an antiquated, labyrinthine city of stone. Many of the details are left up to the GM, as this provides merely a framework and some hinted plot hooks and locations.
It is implied that the lands of the Udross are long destroyed, and the PCs would be reading these notes, five hundred years after they were first written. Udross, the Lands of Green Flame, and Most-Venerable Akgku are now distant memories, ruins, its once-proud temples swallowed up by the merciless desert sands.
In a table top campaign, many moons ago, I used notes like these, when the PCs needed to find an intensely magical flame, in order to destroy an indestructible artefact (yeah, it was a while ago). It kick-started our Lands of Burning Earth campaign and the PCs quest to find the Everlasting Flame of Akgku. It was a distant age, a long-ago time, when Fire Cults were still cool in the unspoiled minds of early gamers, and not a dime-a-dozen :)
This could easily be adapted to any GM's favorite version of a fire cult.
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? Responses (14)
Eerie in it's potential, fields of green flame, fire hissing from under the earth, an ecstatic cult of fire worshippers, all very nice. I like the burning lizard kept in the vessel of heated oil and the liquid jewels are simply sublime.
I would have presented the text a bit differently, using italics and notations on page breaks rather than the HR bars. But thats apples and oranges.
Kudos and nicely done.
Great writing! For once is a disjointed text the cause for celebration. :)
This is possibly the finest way to present a lost civilization and near-forgotten civilization - by the fragile remains, nay, literally the shreds of the records of someone who was there; all of them useful, none exhaustive enough to answer all questions, the personal touch of the author still tangible. The bibliophiles rejoice.
The formatting question is a good one... few of these are actual pages, so page breaks may not do... perhaps use my trademarked '---'? Not sure, still a minor issue.
Great job, anyway. Easily extensible by books on that forgotten land, building precisely on these remains, and perhaps rumors and opinions of the author. But if you want the truth - or get to it as close as possible - you need to look at these.
I feel like Sally Field :)
you get me manfred, you really get me!
The format is not what I ideally envisioned it to be, I'll admit. Now then, what is this trademarked "---" method, of which you speak?
italics and notations, eh? hmmm
The Masters of the Format have spoken! (except for val :)) I'll change this around!
Thank you for the Urn Beasts link, this submission is one of my favourites.
Edited format, thanks to Scras and manfred!
Cheka: no need to thank me. I love the Urn Beast. One of my favorite critter-concepts here, actually.
A few things come to mind when I read this.
*This is beautifully written. Each piece is wonderous. I love it all. I love the concept behind it.
*This is actually 3-9 submissions mangled together in one submission. The lovely pieces really do not flow together, there is no connection other than a general historical theme. I go "huh" every now and again. This could of been a book submission that became an organizational codex. (Though the land would of been fine as the organizational center for this cluster). Some of these could of been stubs shared between several submissions (or simple scroll subs).
We have a land, a religion, an NPC, a few cool little things that could be included as stubs or in some of these other things.
*Things are missing. Sure this is a number of surviving fragments of a greater piece, but it provides tantilizing details without any substantive ones.
*How does this link to Haracorn (and the beloved Kaboo) in any way? Some explanation please.
*Now yes, some of this could be useful in a player hand out. However, you would have to lead the players down the predestined path so they would get to the sections where each subsection would make sense.
Or you could let them flail about some. But players now know they have to follow the path to connect these dots on your adventure map. True that means they have some freedom, but they know if they don't reach a dot (i.e. someting in your player package) they have missed something. Even if that isn't the case and most of this is just color fluff really, the players are going to assume they have to hit the marks to advance. They could opt for the other way, that this is 90% fluff and miss the marks. Either way some frustration out there.
egads man! :)
How does this link to Haracorn (and the beloved Kaboo) in any way? Some explanation please.
It links to Haracon (not coRn), because that is the campaign world where many of my submissions take root, but thanks for naming Kaboo, the "beloved". He would spit out his Toe-Ba-Kee and smile, if he knew. :)
Some of your other points are good ones.
*Things are missing. Sure this is a number of surviving fragments of a greater piece, but it provides tantilizing details without any substantive ones.
I understand what you mean here, but, um, that was the point of the sub, "tantalizing detail without substantive ones."
*Now yes, some of this could be useful in a player hand out. However, you would have to lead the players down the predestined path so they would get to the sections where each subsection would make sense
I'm not handing these out five minutes after the PCs meet up in a tavern and form a group, Moon. I'm handing these out once the PCs decide they wish to go to an ancient land of fire worshippers, for whatever reason, and start doing research.
These are just hints at what the PCs may expect to find in these lands. A primer of sorts. Each passage may or may not make sense, depending on when and if they arrive at these locations. Remember, this stuff is all gone too, its just desert now. Its like fractured hieroglyphics, Moon. Not being able to understand the context, does not necessarily preclude one from being stimulated by the passages.
(see manfred's comment :))
You know me, always honest and blunt, so here goes:
I love it!
These are ideal hand outs. I'd love to use them if my players were better in english, but it tends to confuse a couple of them.
Unlike the other peeps in here I cannot offer any real criticism. I think you announced the intention of this sub well, and you hit it dead on. If there was something I had to deduct for, it would have been placing this under locations, but... I dunno. Where else? As an item?
Also these lines of text contain so much info, it is staggering.
Among the hand outs and bodies of text to be found by adventurers, these are the best I've seen in here. I do not care whether fire cults have been done before. I do not care if anything is missing, because I think it suits the format perfectly. Are we even sure the monk WROTE about everything before pages went missing?
Sorry, but you know I am blunt.
Also: Ash Reavers! Ash Reavers! Ash Reavers! Masterful!
A great work! Not sure what I would add to formatting given it's nature as a sort of scrapbook of ideas.
One idea I have been tossing about is the idea of imbedding a great secret within such notes - a logic puzzle even whose clues
I've been thinking of something, a secret, only indirectly a puzzle:
There are more remains of the book, these are only the parts with whole sentences that actually mean something. The rest doesn't make sense. But...
Careful research and some clever thinking may show that several destroyed parts refer to a certain beast/power/something, to which the author referred by name the monks told him, but warned him not to record. All instances of that name are burned away, contributing to the desolate condition of the book. Accident, you say?
Even funnier would be if parts of the text were restored (magic or whatever), and the name would start to burn immediately again. Is there a better clue that something is still active from that time?
Me like, if for no other reason than that it simply allows freedom. I think you did exactly what you set out to do. I hate, ok dislike:), having all the details and being confined, not only as a GM but as a player. There is enough obscure strings in this to allow players to focus on something a GM may not. I love that as a GM. The game then develops by itself with just a prod from me.
I just read the 5 rooms sub and immediately broke it down into that format. Simple , sweet and allows the GM and players to explore. great stuff!
Oh, wow.. This is a wonderful piece. The style of writing - those disjointed fragments - is just flawless and the details, the imagination, behind it is.. damn... I wish I could write like that! Muro, suffice it to say I feel like a weed in your herbal garden.
Good job, my friend. I really, really enjoyed this one. Ever considered writing a novella with this as a backdrop?
While I often ask for more details and clarifications, I agree with many others before me that the charm of this particular sub lies in its provision of tantalising details that spark readers' imaginations and 'tease' them. Not quite a 5 for me but definitely a sub where I wouldn't want to change a thing.
This is a great strobe light style explanation of the location. It makes want to play in this game. It is even more interesting because these are old pictures; describing the ruins before they are ruins. Thus, it leaves us with many hanging questions, that is much an entreat as it is an explaination. I can't give this enough praise both for the style and ideas in it.