View Full Version : A magical place?

2015-10-28, 05:55 AM
I'm doing a bit of world building and it's surprisingly hard to cook up enough interesting and atmospheric locations (let alone encounters or plot hooks) to populate an entire world. I've got a few down and I thought we could trade. I'll post a couple tomorrow, it's a bit late here, but let's get the ball rolling: what places of mystery, power or dread have you used in your games? Long or short versions, with or without names, feel free to share!

2015-10-28, 06:39 AM
Haha, not only did I start a similar thread but I actually used the same title :smalltongue:.

Here it is (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?391951-A-magical-place), with a few ones in it already. Unfortunately, it didn't have much success... Hope yours fares better!

edit: Wait a second, you know that already, you actually copied my entire post verbatim. What's going on here? :smallconfused:

2015-10-28, 06:59 AM
Well, I'll try and contribute some stuff.

Enyalar, home to the greatest elven healers
The great ship Enyalar (‘Memory’ in the Sea Elf tongue) was the ship that carried King Aranor to the shores where he founded the realm of Sorafalas. Enyalar was pulled out of the water, and it became a centrepiece of the city square of Alyahopa, the king's capital. It was meant as a symbol that the king had come to stay, leaving his restless journeys behind him for his new home.
When Alyahopa was evacuated as Sorafalas was abandoned to the enemy, the ship was not thought to be seaworthy, and it was reluctantly abandoned. But a quiet and misty morning about two months later, the ship came drifting quietly into the harbour of Varnomar, the new fugitive settlement. It was said that the god Vaior had pulled the ship to sea and borne it to the king, because he knew King Aranor would never forget his home no matter how long a time would pass.
The ship was refurbished as a hospital ship, and even now when Varnomar has real buildings, including houses of healing, the ship is still there. The greatest healers practice there, claiming that the touch of Vaior on the ship strengthens their prayers and supports their arts. Even in these dark days, Enyalar is the home to healers as great as any that have been before in Lucem.

2015-10-28, 11:13 AM
Spiderweb City More of a large town than a proper city, the entire things hangs on a complex a very redundant series of webs stretched between the sides of a mountain valley that have some stone spires that serve as additional anchor points. It is a trade hub for goods passing through the mountains that is run by the Web Spinners guild. Although the largest and most valuable buildings are built into the mountainside, many small wooden and spiderweb houses have been built into the mountains themselves.

Erther, the Swamp Mine
Erther is named after the intellegent giant turtle upon which it is built. She swims through the black swamp, protecting her inhabitants (for the most part) from the varied hazards of the Black Marsh. These people collect branches of the iron trees as the main industry of the town, for the trees draw iron ore from the toxic waters of the swamp. Erther is a deep lover of song, and every night there is a concert and performances of all stripes near her great head.

2015-10-28, 12:29 PM


2015-10-28, 12:58 PM
The Machine in the Middle

In the middle of the vast ocean, where no land breaks the horizon and far from any shipping route, lies the Machine. An invisible force holds the water at bay, forming a wide pit kilometers deep. At the very bottom, in the gloom, a massive copper cogwheel a hundred feet across pierces the seabed, jutting from the dry ground. Prolonged observation reveals that it is turning slowly and irregularly, with occasional deep, soul-shaking rumbles. It is possible for a person to squeeze into the gash in the ground; there a narrow staircase carved in the wall descends in the blackness below, leading into an echoing chamber of mind-boggling proportions filled with an intricate assembly of gigantic cogs and cranks and bolts that would give fits to a seasoned watchmaker. The stairs, like the mechanism, seem bottomless and reveal neither warden nor energy source to the Machine, but a perseverant explorer would find sparse evidence of an ancient battle: crushed bits of machinery on the ground, impacts in the sides of the great cogs, and even whole but lifeless spiderlike constructs laying discarded. The purpose of the Machine appears long-lost, but it is obvious that whoever built the contraption must have expended resources and magical energy that an entire kingdom – even a continent, depending on how deep it goes – would struggle to amass in order to build it.

2015-10-28, 01:10 PM
Laienor, city of wizards and lizardfolk
Laienor is a fairly unlikely city. It sits across a river delta on the coast in subtropical swampland, constructed hundreds of years ago by lizardfolk. Back then, their tribes were united under one, brutal king, and he forced them to build the city, where he intended to trade with the sahuagin. But when it was discovered that the king sold lizardfolk eggs to the sahuagin (who perverted them and hatched troglodytes from them, to use as agents on land), the tribes rose up against him and killed him. The sahuagin still raid for eggs periodically.
The rebels preserved the city, however, and maintain it as a place for the tribes to meet, trade, and conduct diplomacy. When a wizard guild was formed by a human ally of the tribes, the lizardfolk allowed them to take over some of the unused buildings. This made trade with the outside world possible, and proved a considerable boon for the lizardfolk.
Eventually, the city of Laienor became the centre of magical and alchemical trade in the region, and many wizards in various stages of their career brave the stinging mosquitoes and drenched heat to study or experiment far from the political powerhouses and religious movements who might stop them. Many other people make a home in Laienor, working for or trading with the wizards. Adventurers often stop by for the magical market, or work for the wizards; or they head into the swamps and search the ancient ruins or fight the bullywugs, who would like nothing better than to drive the humans and lizardfolk out and sack Laienor.

2015-10-28, 02:45 PM
Megalopolis: The Last Great City of the Ancient World

Capital city of what is left of a great empire which once ruled much of the continent Megalopolis was saved from much of the destruction visited on other cities during the waning days of the empire by it's powerful walls and determined defense by the cities garrison and citizens. As such it still has many monuments still left from the classical era such as great triumphal arches, palaces, and a gigantic hippodrome where chariot races are held.

However, the cities population is much lower than it was and most of the great monuments have fallen into ruins. Visitors refer to the "countryside within the walls," since most of the land within the city limits has now been turned into farm land. But, the city is beginning to revive itself as the new empress has put new life into the moribund empire and the merchant princes have brought new trade and technology. The Acropolis is producing new weapons again, the arsenal is turning out new ships, and the empire is preparing to reclaim its lost prestige.

2015-10-28, 04:17 PM
A place
People getting to this place remembers it but forgets its name.
There is a chicken in it.
It is a room carved into basalt.
People who gets out of this place think there was a blacksmith instead of a chicken and remember having a discussion with him which makes them want to come back to the blacksmith for speaking again for example an adventurer exiting this place could believe a blacksmith told him to get a flower at the top of the highest mountain.

Prince Zahn
2015-10-29, 06:02 AM
The prison in the pine
This pine tree appears to be completely normal from a distance, but the closer you stumbles to this tree in the forest, it grows larger and larger ( or are you actually shrinking?) until it's trunk is a massive mountain before you, as tall as the skies. 3 Words are etched into the wood across the tunnel between two massive roots "transcend your dreams." Will O Wisps appear by the entrance as you read the words.

The tree, put simply, is a hollow labyrinth, without many rooms. But it is rather how you move across the corridors that decides if you can find the exit.
This is not a simple maze. Like the code of a safe, there is a code to enter any given room, and the codes are the twists and turns down corridors and stairways. For example, 3 left turns and one right turn around a room could sometimes lead you going back The way you came normally, But in The Prison In The Pine it could make a great difference to the next room.(if you wish to make things less complex, simply roll dice however works for you as the players navigate, until they walk through a door)
The path might have multiple dead remains of who never found their way out.
Every now and then feel free to show your players illusory "phantom" versions of themselves navigating the path. Imagine f the players dawdle too much - sap from the walls attacks them. Little Dark fey can fly towards them out of nowhere. Or you can have them fight ridiculously sized insects. The Will O Wisps are a good clue if the players are lost, because they will be. And if they do well and haven't lost hope yet at that point, give them an arrows on the walls, and they can start navigating their way to the exit - (and towards a magical bow called Reverie, hanging on a pedestal in the last room.)

2015-10-29, 06:53 AM
The Whispering Cove
A natural harbour, with a series of natural caves carved into the cliffside. When the tide rolls in, windflow through the caves sounds like low voices - some people believe that if you listen carefully at the right time, you can potentially hear the future, lost loved ones or terrible truths.

In harsh weather, the caves scream.

Varthid's Heart
A black tree bole on a patch of solid ground in the middle of marshland. No one in living memory has seen any moss or fungi growing over it, nor any animals within a mile, and history forgets who or what Varthid was. But still, rumours and superstition abound - maybe it's a site for dark magics and sacrifice, the seal for the prison of some evil creature, a grave marker for a dead lover, or performing some ritual will cleanse it and turn the marsh into a paradise.

2015-10-29, 07:22 AM
The Great Temple of Grimsby
After the God Emperor had visited the region centuries ago, he sent a ship of skilled artisans and architects with a large sum of money to Grimsby. This all came out of his personal wealth, and they were instructed to build a temple on a hill just outside Grimsby, in celebration of all the gods of the province. Grimsby was growing swiftly at the time, and it was expected that the temple would be within the city walls by the time it was finished.
When the people of Lucem heard of the plan, they were elated, and it was eventually decided to add to the God Emperor’s fund for the temple, so it could also celebrate the gods of the Empire.
The temple came to be the tallest and fairest building in the province, made with rare and beautiful materials, surrounded by a vast park and burial ground. Long before its completion, people came from every town in the province to see it. It became the centre of religious activity for humans in the region, and the pride and joy of all who lived in Grimsby.
When the Grimsby garrison began the violence that marked the beginning of the Civil War in Lucem, they did not sack the temple. It stood long as a place of serenity, until large parts of Grimsby (already much reduced in population) was sacked by several orc tribes. They plundered the temple and set it on fire. A sudden heavy squall prevented the total destruction of the building, but the temple was never repaired or rebuilt.
Underneath the temple rests its guardian spirit in the vast catacombs, cellars and chambers, and it was the one who called upon the skies to put out the fire. The outer and upper areas were sacked by orcs, but they never made it far. Many raiders were struck with a terrible curse, forced to protect the very temple they meant to despoil as spirits and undead. The guardian spirit will certainly require that any that enter the remains of the temple must undergo trials and tests, to show that they are worthy and pious – if they even make it past the dangers of the architecture and the cursed orcs.

2015-10-29, 08:28 AM
There is a really cool magical location in the The Dark Eye video game Memoria.

Disclaimer: It has been a couple years since I've played this...

In The Dark Eye, Satinav is a deity that watches over the flow of time, punishing time travelers and such.

There exists one hidden underground chamber which's walls his gaze cannot pierce and so he does neither know what happens there nor what was supposed to happen.
If you enter the chamber and leave at a later point, you can make claims about whatever happened there and reality will bend to accomodate your story, unless there are any direct contradictions.
However, if at any point you are proven to have lied about this, you will be punished in some unspeakable way (that I forgot :( ).

You enter and take a mundane ring with you. You leave and tell a random stranger that down there you found a way to give the ring a powerful enchantment. Now the ring will indeed be enchanted. If however, it turns out that the ring is made from a special material that cannot be enchanted, you'll be made to regret your lie.

Obviously, this can be prone to player abuse but still found the whole idea pretty intriguing.

2015-10-29, 08:41 AM
The Grave
The mine known as the Grave is a deep, wide chasm full of choking, black smog. The smog severely limits visibility and slowly kills all who enter. But the ore found in the stones dug from the pit are so valuable that desperate men still work it, and cruel men condemn slaves to a slow, choking death to get it.

Sunight cannot penetrate the smog, and most lanterns are choked out, forcing the stone to be dug out and put on the elevators on near darkness. It is impossible to tell what us stone, and what us valuable ore in the dark, forcing grueling strip mining techniques to be employed.

The smog is clearly magical in nature, resisting attempts to blow or wash it away, never fading with time. It does not escape the pit, and if dragged out in buckets or vials, it will force it's way free of its confines and flow back to the pit.

2015-10-29, 09:19 AM
The Iron Cathedral
In the open plains west of the Stormbreaker Mountains, the armies of the North Alliance gathered five hundred years ago to stand against the invading hobgoblin hordes. The Alliance had only managed to gather in time because the Knights of the Hart had fought a long delaying action against innumerable hobgoblins, their chivalric numbers reduced to ninety, fiftytwo of whom had been dubbed knights during that very action. The rest of their legion had fallen.
Over three days the bloody battle raged in the plains, the hobgoblins attacking at night and the alliance attacking at day. The stubbornness and courage on both sides resulted in such vast and protracted slaughter as has never been seen before or since. But finally, the hobgoblin armies broke and were routed, when Lady Variana, the last surviving Knight of the Hart, bloodied but unbowed, personally led the charge at sunup on the fourth day. No tired hobgoblin could stand before her and those who followed her example, and those who still could took to flight. And so the North was saved, albeit at spectacular cost.

In the years that followed, the dwarves gathered the arms and armour of the fallen and built a great forge and smithy on the battlefield. And when the Lady died, still Lady Commander of the revitalized order, she was taken to the site of her greatest glory and interred. And the dwarves built over her a whole cathedral of the iron reclaimed from the arms of those who fell in the battle. And to this day, the Iron Cathedral stands in the plains, visible far off as a dark and solemn memorial, maintained in turn by all the peoples who came together five centuries ago to save themselves and each other.

Link (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?378644-Build-A-Legend-quot-The-Glass-Sea-quot).

2015-10-29, 01:13 PM
Most of the following are written with a strong D&D flavor, but could probably be adapted to other worlds.

The Village of the Dead

In one little corner of the world, the people have developed a ritual (which will only work there) to bring a loved one back from the dead - as a minor form of sentient undead (skeletal template, necropolitan, etc). Oddly, the undead seem, if anything, nicer than their formerly living selves.

Perhaps a Knowledge:Religion check reveals that this ritual fits the style of the local god of the undead - which should confuse players as to why an evil god would power such a seemingly "good" ritual. Perhaps the god of the undead unknowingly encountered a mirror of opposite alignment, and this is where their counterpart fled. Perhaps (in a way similar to the mechanics of the Percy Jackson novels), this is a place where *all* of the gods suffer split personality to their statistical-equivalent-but-alignment-opposites (in which case no clerics would be able to regain spells here due to alignment conflicts). Or perhaps the god of the undead is conducting an experiment, encouraging mortals to bring their suffering at the loss of a loved one to to him/her directly for his/her enjoyment.

Or perhaps the ritual has nothing to do with the god of the undead. Perhaps it works because the area has the supernatural quality of holding on to and even "purifying" the souls of the dead. Perhaps the ritual is bunk, and some powerful necromancer is at work. Or perhaps all of these undead are actually strange extradimensional dopplegangers inhabiting the corpses of the fallen, and using the memories of their loved ones to pass as former villagers - "nice" versions of them either to encourage summoning more of their kin, or because their perception of the corpse's personality is tainted by the love the summoner felt for them.

The City of the Dead

All the inhabitants of this city are Dead... but, other than aesthetics (plus the inability to age or reproduce (or die)), being dead carries no status effect.

There are no inns, no guest quarters, no unused rooms. The guards "strongly encourage" (ie, fight to the "death") visitors to leave before nightfall.

The City of the Dead II

The entire population of the city was turned into undead ("corpse" or "skeletal" template) - perhaps as some divine curse, perhaps by being converted to fanatical followers and all choosing to fail their save to the ritual of immortality their leader was granting.

Anyone staying in the area (whether to study/reverse the curse, or just to rest for the night), discoveres that they become were-undead (ie, they turn to undead at night, returning to life in the morning). This continues until they accumulate X points, by failing daily saves (although each failed save calls for an immediate additional save) failing certain saves (including one which the area forces you to make once per round, but success renders you immune to the effect for 24 hours) or by making knowledge checks to understand the situation. One they accumulate X points, they are under the effects of the curse - fully undead, bound to the area, and unable to affect the curse.

The Berry Patch

It is possible to encounter the Berry Patch and not even realize it. It is usually encountered by a Ranger or Druid using Survival to forage for food.

The berries picked here act as Goodberries, with each berry providing complete nourishment for the day. Further, if fed to an animal, they allow the animal to speak for a brief period.

The Berry Patch only lasts for a season, and springs up in a different location next season.

Beneath the Glacier

Those who die from drowning while trapped beneath the ice find themselves Beneath the Glacier. To their surprise, they can breathe the water there. The inhabitants explain that, long ago, their benefactor's loved one (or perhaps their benefactor him/her self, if resurrection is a thing) died by drowning beneath the ice. Determined that no one should suffer a similar fate, they created The Glacier. Anyone in the world who would have died in such a fashion is brought here, while a lifeless "clone" of them is placed where they "died". Should they be "resurrected", they will be swapped back (and probably have their memory erased).

They are not under the effects of water breathing - the glacier itself produces warm, breathable "water". Fish etc avoid this water, making it a seemingly safe refuge.

Perhaps The Glacier is a living being, constantly bleeding this breathable "water". Perhaps upon finding a loved one drown beneath the ice, an evil god's tears collected and froze, and they then gave life to The Glacier. Perhaps they wounded it so that it would constantly suffer, to balance out the suffering that it would undo. Perhaps the only / main source of food for the natives (the descendants of those whom The Glacier saved) is the clone bodies of those who get resurrected, and perhaps the other descendants themselves (those whom the Glacier saves are sacred, and cannot be harmed). Perhaps the Blood of the Glacier sustains people so that they only need to eat a tiny fraction of what they normally would.

The Tree of Gifts

Those who sleep beneath the branches of the Tree of Gifts will find a present - some small, innocuous item of little real worth.

Perhaps the Tree of Gifts is the home of a Dryad who treats visitors as her children. Perhaps the Tree of Gifts is a Treant, and moves from place to place. Perhaps the area is magical, or the grave of a friendly spirit, and the tree just happens to grow there. Or perhaps the story is just a Fey "prank", perpetuated by the Fey leaving gifts for those who sleep there.

Pooh Sticks Bridge

Named for an ancient tradition whose origin is lost to time, this enormous bridge spans a relatively safe and slow-moving river beside (or perhaps even in the middle of) a reasonably well-off town. Those who race their twigs beneath this immense bridge are occasionally treated to the spectacle of a ghostly ship sailing out from beneath the bridge. It rarely travels downstream for more than a minute before vanishing. And it only appears when children are racing their sticks.

Perhaps there is just a friendly/mischievous illusionist trying to delight the kids and/or increase tourism. Perhaps the sticks are part of the ritual necessary to actually summon the boat, and it will actually appear when the rest of the ritual is completed. Or perhaps the boat is trying to cross dimensional boundaries via magic that children's mind are more attuned to, and this magic is what makes the children want to race their sticks in the first place.

Rainbow Falls

Beside a happy little village nestled against an L-shaped cliff-face is the not terribly legendary Rainbow Falls. Not only does the water make plenty of rainbows, it also has a slightly rainbow hue (not in an oily way). The water is always pure and sweet. Attempts to poison / foul the stream fail.

At seemingly random times, the falls will pour forth rainbow-hued water (almost as if ROYGBIV paint buckets were being poured), and the stream below will be filled with churning rainbow water. This is a time of celebration for the village, for, at this point, the water carries wondrous flavors, and delicious little candies can be distilled from it.

Horn Hall

Horn Hall is a vast, empty palace composed entirely of Ivory. It has no set geographical location, as it teleports each night - usually to a barren / desolate location. Empty, because it does not take inhabitants with it when it teleports (with the possible exception of those in the Harvesting room). Perhaps Horn Hall is bigger on the inside, or perhaps it just has extremely secret doors (or no doors) leading to the Harvesting room.

The Hall is composed entirely of Unicorn Horn, thanks to the efforts of its mad creator harvesting a unicorn in a magic resetting regeneration trap. Perhaps the trap still operates, with a golem eternally harvesting paragon necropolitan unicorn horn. Or perhaps the creator himself is the unicorn being harvested. Or perhaps the trap is empty, the Hall eternally seeking a new unicorn to harvest.

Or perhaps the Hall has no harvesting room, and was constructed from the horns of (dead?) unicorns from an alternate reality populated solely by unicorns (and similar species).

2015-10-29, 01:31 PM


Curse you beat me to it!

2015-10-29, 01:40 PM


2015-10-29, 03:41 PM
To borrow from oWoD Mage, but with a new name...
The Vale of Despair

A misty, rocky path. It appears randomly, and folk who notice they are starting to head downhill in the mists should turn back.
If they continue, they eventually find themselves at three paths.

One is very narrow, with many pitfalls, and very difficult to traverse. But it is lined with golden (or even magical) ore of great value.
Another is somewhat narrow, also hazardous but not as bad, and lined with silver.
A third is pretty easy to traverse, but just has rock.

The paths all lead to a bridge. Its rickety and worn, but never seems to break. You can safely pass through it with just a modicum of safety.

However, once you reach the three paths, you start to despair. Depression, regrets, and suicidal impulses come to you. There's great value in the ore, but the feeling intensified the longer you take. And it doubles in strength at the bridge. Very few have passed the bridge, since so many fling themselves to their doom. Even those who make it tend to be rather sullen, at least in the near future.

2015-11-02, 02:53 PM
Ironmaw Castle
In the morning, Ironmaw Castle lies in the shade on the enormous last spur of the Mortras Mountains. Here it guards the one place an army could cross north into Valorian territory. It seems almost as if the fortress has been carved out of the mountainside. It is dark almost to the point of being black; the walls and towers are lower and thicker than those of other great castles, and the serrated parapets look a lot like teeth or scales.
When approaching from below, the outer wall lies like a great serpent, or a dragon perhaps, demonstratively defiant on the edge of the cliff. The road from the north winds up the cliff for miles, and every yard is exposed to the defenders on the walls above. And once on level with the outer wall, a great gate of iron and black stone, the reason for the naming of this fortress, lies like the open maw and powerful jaws of the serpent.
Behind the outer wall lies the main keep, black and impenetrable, even unreachable, so high up that the blackness of it seems to threaten the blue sky itself – and blue and black is indeed the colours of the family Irongauntlet who built and operate Ironmaw Castle. It is a monumental fortress, and on the south side, deep down where the only ford of the Waterwall River is, the castle seems even more threatening to the beholder, who would see the side that was meant for battle. Ironmaw Castle guards the ford and the only southern pass in the Mortras Mountains that could be used by an army.
The Irongauntlet family bear a taint or blessing in their blood, and the current leader of the family always has it. Those afflicted are called the Scientori, those who know, but what it is they know and why they are that way is a mystery. Their behavior is strange and troubling, cold and calculated in all spheres of life. And yet they serve Valoria and the High Priestess in peace, and the High Paladin in war.