View Full Version : [TAVERN] Vorpal's Gaping Maw

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 02:52 PM
The Vorpal Tribble's Entry
((Notice: If you are from my Dying Ember campaign, stay out! ;) ))

Entering the Pass
- The Pass -
- Gaping Maw Inn -
- Tyrus' Supply -
- Second Hand General -
- Red Dew Forest -

The Epic
- History -
- Rise of Salkin Motard -

People of the Pass
- Salkin Motard -
- Still -
- Tyrus -
- Mahogany -
- China -

- Sudden White -
- Behind the Burlap -

- Firesoak Silk -
- Red Dew -

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 02:56 PM
Entering the Pass

You stand upon a road of flat stones at the base of twin mountains within the midst of a hilly wood. Before you is a huge wall constructed from the logs of entire redwoods. The logs are from smallish redwood trees, a bit thicker than a human is tall and placed in massive vertical ruts picked out of the stone on each side of the valley. A monstrous gate large enough to admit several wagons side by side is set in the center of the wall by massive blue ice hinges. The log sections used in the construction of the gate are strongly bound with iron bands. At about human chest level there is a barred window on the door revealing a long road continuing out of sight. A guard comes to the window and looks you over carefully before nodding.

With a slight squeak the gate swings in, treating you to an impressive view. Not far from the gate the land dips down gradually, yet extensively, into a narrow valley between the looming faces of the two rocky giants. The bottom of the valley is vague with drifting fog, though ancient evergreens soar above it. Behind you the door swings shut and a bar carved out an entire tree thunks down into place. Three guards are required to tug on the rope and pulley system that lifts and lots the bar. Steps lead up the log wall on both distant sides, and though unseen before, watchmen patrol along the deep walkways carved into the topmost logs. Several cabins rest against the wall along its base.

Following along the path you notice how the air quickly becomes much damper and likewise warmer. The sound of many excited dogs echoes around, as well as the occasional deep rumble of a megaloceros and the neighing of horses. The flora become even more impressive as you dip down into the valley, towering out of sight. Hemlock, spruce, redwood, all types of great conifers, block out much of the sunlight and are shaggy with moss and lichens. Aside from a few shrubs the only real groundcover are low-growing ferns of widely splayed fronds. Trails of shredded wood however branch from the path, leading out into the forest. The path of stones below you already are beginning to grow moss within their wide cracks, softening the step.

(Taken from www.Golfun.net )

Said path leads more or less straight, into the bottom of the valley which is a great clearing, with all but the tallest trees moved away. Cabins speckle the valley, of both small and considerable sizes. Many have wooden fences around them within which lean, shaggy sled dogs dash about energetically. Communal bonfires blaze within clumps of tents, the aromatic smoke mixing in with the fog to further obscure the sky above.

Within the middle of the clearing a truly enormous redwood log that looks to have been dead for some time lies across with a tunnel carved through its middle. A large wooden sign hangs overhead by chains just within the tunnel reading:

The Pass
Established by Lord Salkin Motard
Dedicated to the memory of Burgen Motard

Once out of the clearing the ground starts to becoming rocky, and the woods narrow and almost peter out to be replaced with a chasm worn out of the rock. Water from far above constantly trickles down its black surface which is speckled with mosses and lichens that cling tenaciously to their moist haven. Wild rhododendron grow at the bases and even in the sparse pockets of captured soil up its side. The chasm opens and rises slightly into another very large area about the stone. The floor of this vast rise has been leveled and bricked. A circular stage has been erected in the middle, with several sets of stairs leading up around its circumference.

There are two openings in the sides of the mountain here, though one in particular immediately catches the eye. [quote]


The Gaping Maw

Drawn by request by Meatboy (http://boards1.wizards.com/member.php?userid=208059) of the Wizard.com forums. All rights reserved.

You are in front of a large opening in the side of the mountain. The opening has been expertly carved to resemble somewhat a widely opened mouth. A row of jagged tooth-like projections hang from the top of the cave. Above that are two slitted, reptilian eyes with deep bags. The shape of the eyes are such that the bags collect the continuously trickling rainwater. A flickering glow comes from the water in the familiar color of hearthfire.

Below the eyes are a couple simple holes drilled to look like nostrils with a metal ring going through them. A large wooden sign hangs from the ring with words carved and then burned into the wood, reading 'The Gaping Maw'. Smoke and steam constantly rises from the nostrils, smelling of cooking meats and boiling stews. Those who peer hard (DC 20 spot check) see the sooty faces of three tiny children within the nostrils watching the bustle outside the inn-trance.

A road gutter is carved before the opening, allowing rain or the moisture from snow-laden boots to trickle down and away. A gradual brick incline leads up the hallway which extends some twenty feet, with lamps illuminating the way. A long message board has been fit into the stone near the entrance on the right side, though only a familiar flier advertising the race has yet been tacked on. At the top shifts a curtain of firesoak silk of the deepest brown shade with weighted edges to keep it from blowing in the wind from outside. A symbol has been woven into the curtain on both sides with silver thread, depicting a shovel and an ice-cycle crossed above a grape leaf (a successful DC 15 Knowledge: Nobility check reveals it as the crest of the Motards).

Pushing against the curtain, which is warm and silky to the touch, has it split in the middle. A blast of blessedly warm air greets you as you step through, filled with the smells of food from the common to the exotic.

You find yourself in a vast grotto that has naturally formed from the side of the mountain, though much of it has been worked to suit the layout of the inn. Within this massive cavern is a wider variety of races than is normally seen anywhere else, though all of hardy peoples. Tables and chairs of redwood seat human, dwarf, and half-orc, while a raptoran or two grip large circular rings that surrounds very low-set tables. Piles of thick furs lie in the more private sections of the cavern where aloof catfolk and shifters reside. The cavernous roof is nearly lost in the shadows above, illuminated slightly by dozens of large, wheeled chandeliers of bronze set with brightly burning oil sconces and held by heavy chains. The chains are threaded through irons loop on the roof and then wrapped about cranks on the far walls for lowering and rising. The floor is expertly bricked, and seems to absorb the warmth in the air.

To the left as you enter many benches, leather chairs, and skins sit upon the floor before an enormous hearth large enough for several humans to stand upright in and deep enough for them to lie in. Entire logs crackle within, pouring heat into the room. A wide opening above the hearth has been drilled into the sheer stone at an angle to draw out the smoke. A few hairy, soot-covered Domovoi roam about within the blistering heat, tending the fires and occasionally climbing iron hand-holds leading up into the flue.

An ancient iron candle holder is set on the stone mantle (A DC 10 Knowledge: Religion check reveals it is lit in deference to Estanna, goddess of home and hearth). A large painting is set high up the wall above the mantle, out of the radiant heat. It shows a man reaching middle age standing upon a downed redwood. He appears somewhat fair of face which is framed by a full black beard, trimmed with care. He has wide shoulders and a thin waist, and though a bit to the leaner side, he looks a very sturdy figure. He is dressed in a rich black overcoat lined with fur, but is partially opened in front, showing only a loose white shirt and vest below.

Seated on one of the benches is Mahogany, an ugly, kind-looking old fellow telling a story with a great many gestures, sometimes even standing to act out bits of it. All around him are held enthralled, sometimes laughing, other times having to wipe away a tear, but at all times hanging on to his every word. Even the domovoi tending the fires stop from time to time in their work to listen in.


The entire right wall as you enter is dominated by the trunk of a small redwood, coated well with preservative. The top has been planed and then sanded and polished till it resembles red silk. Behind the bar deep shelves have been cut into the stone, showing bottles of all kinds and makes. The topmost row however has a faint mist rising off the bottles of a translucent, azure substance that can be nothing other than blue ice in which he always keeps his famous frostwine.


Done by request by SilverSlivers (http://boards1.wizards.com/member.php?u=372531) of the Wizard.com forum (aka SilverWings here on GITP). all rights reserved.

A set of double doors is set in the next wall, from which servants come in and out of, and is obviously the doorway to the kitchen.

Far ahead on the opposite wall from which you entered is chiseled a flight of wide stairs leading into the ceiling. Redwood slats are bolted into the stone, and a sturdy iron and wood handrail follows alongside.

If the players wish to pay for a room within the inn they are told that for the racers, accommodations are free (though the food and drink are not). Up the stairs is simply a hallway cut into the stone and bricked. Thick redwood doors with iron handles and locks lines either side of the hallway, lit by several more oil chandeliers above. A long carpet extends the length of the hall, ending at a large set of double doors with the Motard crest upon them. Players who try it find the doors are firmly locked. This is because they are merely attached to the stone with nothing beyond them.

The other doorways are very much real and lead into small but cozy bedrooms. A large rope bed with several quilts and pillows rests at the far end of the room, with an unlockable chest at its base. Against the wall to the right as you enter is a small, mantleless coal stove with a full bucket of fuel beside it and a bit of flint with a steel striker. A poker and bed warmer set against the wall by the stove. On the opposite wall is a simple wooden table and chair with an iron pitcher and bowl, as well as a candle holder with a thick twisting candle rising from it.

The Cellar
Behind the bar is a large wooden door set into the stone floor with an iron pull ring. One who tugs on it though finds it budges not, no matter how much. For hidden behind a barrel on the far side of the bar is the handle to an iron rod that goes completely through the stone into iron loops on the bottom of the door (a DC 30 strength check is required to pull open the door while so locked).

It leads to a combination of subterranean wine cellar and shelter. Extremely wide stairs are cut into the rock and layed with brick lead down into the darkness. This cavern appears to be somewhat natural, though like most of the Gaping Maw it has been expertly excavated to enlarge the available space. Entire walls are full of bottle-sized holes drilled into the stone, surrounded by cork for cushioning of the bottles. Along the bottom half though are massive wine, mean, and beer barrels set into large cubbies. At the far back of the room a truly enormous barrel-like structure leans against the wall with a door set into it. Inside is a bed of dwarven make, and various odd and ends mostly in the way of stone sculptures and carvings; possessions of Still, for in this place he lives in the darkness when he is not needed, as is to his liking.

What is not known by but a few however is that this entire barrel may be swung with much effort to reveal a tunnel leading hundreds of feet down. At its end it merges with a dwarven community working for Salkin. They, as well as many humans, gnomes, and even a goliath couple, work long hours building on iceships of a size to dwarf any currently made. Though fitted with massive blue-iceriggers they also use enormous wheels, for Salkin's sources tell him that to the south there is a frozen sea that must needs be crossed, a sea that the leaders of the company know is the true purpose to the race. During the entire journey they will also be searching for connecting valleys that these mammoths of wood and ice can cross upon.

Miles away in the woods are the friendly Tlaluskan herds who have agreed to pull the ships until they reach the sea.

As well as crafting the ships, the workers here dig great tunnels to the surface so that by the time the explorers return there will be an egress large enough to bring forth the vessels.


Tyrus' Supply

The other opening on the rise is simply a large carve with an arch of bricks going around its edge. A large wooden sign is set into the stone by the entrance reading:

Tyrus' Supply

It leads down a short tunnel into a natural looking cavern that has been widened and excavated to allow room for the hundreds of barrels and sacks that are piled nearly to the ceiling. A couple wagons are parked in here to be filled or unloaded. A section to the west is cleared where a large counter rests with spare wagon parts and barding hanging behind it. To the sides of the counter are arched openings that lead into dark extensions of the cavern. The entire area smells strongly of waxed burlap with an undertone of pickles.

A large burly man with a flaming head of red hair and a bushy auburn beard is helping load one of the wagons, lifting barrels that much weigh at least 300 lbs. with apparent ease.


Second Hand General

Further up the rise, around a curve and out of sight of the Gaping Maw is yet another cavern that has been cut into the mountain-side. A wooden sign hangs from a chain on a hook set into the wall by the chamber with a simple etching of objects falling out of the back of a wagon and the words 'The Second Hand'.

Within you see chisel marks mar the ceiling and floor but is otherwise smooth. The walls are honey-combed with shallow holes filled with all sorts of odds and ends. An old wagon seat lying across several large barrels serves as a makeshift counter in the back of the room. Behind the counter hangs a patchwork curtain hiding an extension of the cave. The roof is of hard mountain stone and is slightly domed with a few flat patches and cracks. A rope is tied to hooks around the edge with a couple lanterns hanging from it.

A woman no older than her late twenties pushes past the quilt into the room.


Red Dew Forest

A heavy rain falls, bringing forth a spotty mist that wafts past the trunks of trees that'd dwarf the mightiest of dragons. Ferns, lichens and clumps of mushrooms that comes to one's knees cover the ground so thickly that actual earth is unseen. Moss-draped bluffs rise all about with cold streams and creeks falling from them by the dozens into tiny pools that feed their continuing flow through the woods. It has an almost unearthly beauty to it, though a wild beauty. Despite the trickling of running water, an eerie silence dominates these woods, beneath a red dew that hangs from the needles above...

The Red Dew forest is an extensive temperate rainforest petering out to the north and south only when it becomes too cold to support the woods. Some of the tallest trees in all the world grow here, towering hundreds of feet and blocking what little light the constant clouds allow through. For though it is not uncommon in other areas of Hearth to have even several days where patches of the sky may be seen, even one day within the Red Dew without torrential downpour is a marvel. Therefore a great many places for miles on end are in eternal twilight, others blacker than night. What lives within these areas even the bravest mortals know not. Even with lamps all is hidden, for a mist from the constant humidity blocks all attempts to view the surroundings. All sound is dampened by waterlogged mosses and fungus so that the senses of sight and hearing are nigh worthless.

Fey watched cautiously, others angrily, as humans began to arrive within their woods. Humans had always been present, but in small tribes that were easily controlled. Over the next several hundred years however thousands upon thousands poured in. Many died to forest denizens, while others befriended sprites of the wood and lived in peace. Most however were concerned only with their own survival and if a dryad's tree looked like a good source of logs or firewood so be it. Retaliation occurred on both sides, as did senseless butchery. The woods soon came to be thought of as cursed and thousands left for a safer, if colder land. Those who remained lived in fear for their lives, or waged horrible wars against the more aggressive fey. Redcaps in particular rejoiced in the slaughtering of whole towns.

Though many fey understood the human plight and wished them no ill, even they were pursued, the humans unable or unwilling to tell friend or foe amongst the forest's denizens.

Disgusted by the warring and killing on both sides, a druid of the woods and his nymph wife sent out a plea for aid amongst the Lords of Faerie. And so the Skrytin'kanina first arrived upon Hearth. Fey instinctively listened to their words, and though humans feared these new beings, their leaders who met with them came away with comforting words. Fey would leave the humans be, if the humans left them be and moved to areas where few of the nature's spirits dwelt. Areas of little or no magic where fey had no interest. These lands in places were vast and could easily hold every human alive in the forest at once and still only fill a tiny portion of its expanses. Many humans refused to leave their homes, though the great majority were willing if only they could live without constant anxiety. Most who refused died, though to this day a number of villages still remain.

To warn the mortals where the boundaries were, a minor enchantment was put upon the trees. When one saw the red dew beading upon the firs, or dripping down the mighty sequoia, they were entering lands where no law held sway. This was the wild land, where the beasts beneath the branches and feral fey had the last say. The crimson drops tell all simply: you trod at your own risk. A large number of dwarves and humans live in these woods despite the fact, and enough live to encourage others, but many a village is found inexplicably deserted, or never found, the land seeming to have reclaimed itself.

Any human who logs beyond these borders risks the wrath of many and those having harmed a fey creature or its home usually disappear within days of their transgressions. Likewise, fey who cause trouble within the human lands must always be on the run from the Skrytinn who do not appreciate their promises being broken.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 02:58 PM
The Epic

The Gaping Maw is found within the newest colonization founded by Salkin Motard. As well as being the most recently built it is also the southernmost of the Motard lands. It is a haven amongst the frigid mountain range, nestled within a forested valley, the lowest tip of the vast temperate rainforest known as the Red Dew. Only the warm fronts brought in upon errant breezes of the sea some hundred miles to the west allow the less tolerant growths to survive. A haven to rugged trapper, foolhardy explorer, and is rumored, the scouts of the Empire whom spy upon the doings of the orc and shifter allianced lands. Lands to the east ruled over by an orcan werewolverine known as Warlord Teh, or more commonly, the Vicious Chillbeast.

The Pass it is called, for beyond it lies few if any human settled lands. It is a land unknown by all but a few, and even they stray little within it. Those who do have a tendency to never return. And so, as many whisper, the Pass was built as a fort, for indeed it appears as such. There are but two ways into the valley without flight, and both are sealed behind massive walls constructed out of entire redwoods felled from the forests within and stacked upon the other. 'To keep out dangerous beasts', Motard proclaims... or is it? A base it must be many say, for it is close indeed to both orc and shifter.

However, this is but idle talk beneath the main speak of all lands nearby. In celebration of the opening of the Pass, Motard is sponsoring a great race into the wilderness of the south. The first to return are guaranteed a position with the immensely wealthy Motards, and any who return at all a token prize to be announced.

The meeting place of this whole venture is within the Gaping Maw.


Plot and the Rise of Salkin Motard
Three generations ago, Salkin Motard's great-grandfather made a strange find as he was going through notes of frostwine production. Though there were normal variations, his yield seemed to be slowly but consistently improving. Thinking little of it, he merely praised the workers. His son, Salkin's grandfather, however, noticed as he grew older how the weather seemed to be cooler than he ever remembered it. He thought perhaps it was the age in his bones, but in preparation of handing the responsibility to his son in turn, he had him record the temperatures and the productivity of the harvests. Over the next several decades Salkin's father discovered something few had realized and his father had only suspected; the weather was indeed growing, slowly, but steadily, colder. Salkin's father brought this to the Council of the southern land's attention, but though he had recorded proof and had the quality of his frostwine to attest to the increasing chill, a number met him with scorn. Together they convinced the rest of the council to ignore his dire words. It was soon afterwards that young Salkin faced an act that he was to remember for the rest of his days and that would drive him to uncover a secret few suspected existed.

He awoke to the sound of great struggle and ran to his parent's bedroom. There he saw his mother lying on the floor, bleeding from innumerable lacerations. Across the room was his father battling with... himself. For another figure indistinguishable from his father battled. Both possessed identical swords, and with almost equal finesse they fought. However, with a skillful slash one tore into the arm of the other, but instead of blood welling out, a reflective substance like quicksilver began to flow. The impostor reacted with fury and after a quick feint grabbed the senior Motard by the back of his neck and pulled him onto its sword. True, crimson blood poured down, and Salkin froze momentarily in fury. He ran back for his bedroom and retrieved the slim sword his father had had him practice with since he could wield it. He then snuck back for his parent's suite. He glanced cautiously within to see the figure had grabbed up his father and was dragging him towards the mirror. Salkin used tip of of one foot to remove a shoe, and then flipped it down the hallway. It was not a loud noise, but enough to alert the being within. It dropped the body and slunk towards the doorway. As it looked out down the other side of the hall Salkin made his move. Without a qualm about running through this masquerader with his father's skin he leapt forward and despite his youth, severed its left arm. The creature let out a sound so high pitched that it was all Salkin could do not to clap his hands over his ears to still the pain. It was like a blade down screaming glass. The creature looked at him and then down at the twitching arm on the ground and turned with alarming quickness. Salkin only had time to turn into the doorway by the time the creature had crossed the room. To his astonishment it took a flying leap and was silently engulfed by the mirror which momentarily rippled like water.

He then looked down at the arm lying the puddling silver and saw that sleeve and flesh had disappeared to be replaced with a limb seemingly comprised of flawless glass. A cough however caused everything to flee from his mind and he was running to his father's side. At the knife's edge of death his father whisper as Salkin knelt, "Journal behind... headboard..." and then there was only the rattle of lungs that would not draw another breath.

Looking over the stiffening bodies of his parents Salkin let out a cry of anguish and hurled his sword against the full-length mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces.

The murders of Lord and Lady Motard shocked the people of Chaunelfiel and mourning lasted long after they had been buried. It was with a heavy heart that the tutors of young Salkin continued their teachings, putting him through more strenuous lessons than before, for though Chaunelfiel could manage well enough, every generation had welcomed the rule of the Motards. Salkin rose to the challenge and with a quiet fierceness that startled his teachers he tackled all things put before him. For though barely into adolescence, he understood the gravity of what was within his father's journals. It was growing colder and there was obviously forces that wished to keep unknown this knowledge.

Within the journals were some eighty years of recordings of the temperatures, acquired from many sources. As well, entire areas once warmed by hot springs and warm lakes had later been found completely iced over. Stories abounded of strange doings within the deep frostfell, tales that were becoming more common place every day. But what truly chilled him were his father's notes on the council members who had been so vehement against these records. Through subtle questioning and bribed servants he had found that all of these men had changed drastically to the point many had become estranged from their wives and alienated their children. In fact, there were hints that they were involved in many dark activities, from rumor spreading to assassination.

'And', Salkin thought to himself, 'Father had been on the council and would have been replaced with one of these mirror beings...'

A plan formulated in his mind, one that would take great patience and thought. He could not simply send out a team to investigate the south. He would need funds, great funds, for he could not alert his enemies to his plans. He let it be rumored about that the death of his parents had done odd things to his mind, and when he gave the order that mirror were to be outlawed within Chaunelfiel many felt vindicated. However, most of the peoples of Chaunelfiel respected and loved the Motard family and obeyed this ruling. The beginnings of eccentricity was thus sewn, a cover for his actions that would mislead his enemies from his true motives.

For the next couple decades he used his collected family wealth to found new towns and villages, leaving trusted comrades to rule them in his stead. At first this drained his coffers severely, but as he had planned the taxes payed by his citizens after crops were harvested and trade routes established replaced what he had lost and then some. He became friends with the dwarves, and humans from far-away lands alike, buying and selling. He soon became one of the wealthiest men of the human lands in this area of the world.

If one though were to mark on a map his progress however, one would see how he made his way farther and father south. Sometimes building an area here, establishing an outpost there, but always on a southern heading. Finally, at the start of the southern wastes, he announced he would celebrate his latest achievement, the completion of the Pass, with a great sled race.


"His Graciousness Salkin Motard, Lord of Chaunelfiel, Master of the Vine, throws out a challenge upon the winds that all ear shall hear it, and all souls be ruffled. In his great vision of expanding our lands and filling it with the sturdiest of souls, a Pass has been opened to the southern lands of the frost so that all that brave its chill might find succor and warmth.

He announces with this that he will expand no more and retire from his Great Expansion. None must think though that his inner fire has been quenched, and the spice of adventure has become tasteless in his mouth. No! For he invites all to his newest establishment to partake on a grand race into the frigid wastes so that he may know whoes blood runs hottest in the lands. The winners of this quest, and his companions, are assured a spot of eminence amongst this kindest of Lords. Even the latest of finishers will not find themselves unrewarded. So come, show your mettle, and embrace this rare chance. You can be certain the skalds shall weave your perilous journey into a tapestry that all shall hang in their hearts for generation to come. We await you!"

Such are the words read across the Empire that hung from parchment and vellum from wall and post, or exchanged from hand to hand. Only the hardiest folk he knew would be willing to enter the race, for it was a lengthy journey and a testimony to the constitution of the contestants if they could even reach the Pass.

And so all have gathered here to begin this race, to venture into the frozen wastes, each team lead by a loyal follower of Motard who would seek out answers in the frostfell.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 03:06 PM
People of the Pass

Salkin Motard
(Human Expert)


Salkin Motard has a nigh tangible presence about him. Standing several inches above six foot he does not seem but average height until approached. He would be somewhat lean if not for a powerful physique that nearly approaches the burly. His features are comely enough, with a slight ruggedness to them, further enhanced by his thick but closely trimmed beard and straight black hair that has been trimmed just above his neckline. The eyes that peer out are a warm blue, mild but attentive, and with an unmistakable light of intelligence. His long-fingered hands are calloused, showing he is a man whoes not afraid of work.

He is dressed in clothes picked more for comfort than style, a baggy-sleeved shirt and fur pants tucked into worn calf-high boots that were once probably expensive. Despite his attire he holds himself nobly, with a calm confidence and not a little alertness. A court-sword, thicker than a rapier but slimmer than an estoc, rests within a scabbard at his waist.

(See Rise of Salkin Motard above)


(Duergar Barbarian/Reaping Mauler)

This being causes many dwarves to grit their teeth and narrow their eyes when they look upon him. For though he superficially resembles a common dwarf, their are number of key differences. His skin is an extremely pale grey color, and unlike most dwarves he is completely hairless, though sports a thick white beard. He is incredibly muscular even for a dwarf till he appears nearly square. His eyes though, they are suspicious and bright... but bright like an animal's, with little intelligence within them. His hands are huge and rough with thick callouses, almost seeming as leather gloves.

He is dressed in simple but well-tailored pants, and a sleevless leather vest shows his bulging arms and chest.
Found wandering and near death as little more than a child closeby a dwarven city, Still had been kicked out of the Duergar caverns for his disability, a slight retardation that left him unfit in their eyes. Many of the dwarves thought to kill him, for he was of an abominable race whp gave no mercy to anyone. Salkin who had had business that brought him to the city heard of the child and when it was decided that it should be put out of its misery he interceeded and announced he would care for it. They had no qualms of this, thinking a life of wandering the cold a suitable punishment for one of its race.

Though intensely slow witted and quick to anger, the youngster came to reguard Motard as a father and adored him. After several admonitions of the young Salkin for the duergar to 'be still' soon after it took this as thinking it was its name. From then on it was known as Still and became the loyal bodyguard of Salkin, willing to risk life and limb for his master. Though incredibly simple he possessed a suspicion and cunning that nearly made up for it and songs were made after he wrestled a hill giant to the ground with his bare hands when it threatened Salkin's wagon.


(Human Rogue)

China is a short, thin woman in her later twenties with lines of a hard life instead of age etched into her pale face, making her seem much older. Her light blue eyes are friendly and lively but with the cunning of a true haggler. She has thick black hair that is braided down her back, with pins and needles stuck in it at random. She wears a simple hand-made black dress of some rough blackish material.

Salkin watched with curiosity as the woman walked down the icy road. The nearest town was near a week away and it was bitterly cold yet she seemed to show no discomfort. She acted as if she hadn't heard his caravan coming until it was on her.

"Greetings good woman." he called out to her, "What brings you all the way out here?"

The woman looked up and Salkin was surprised, for he had at first taken her to be elderly.

"Trade sir, trade..." she said with a thick southern accent. "And looks like I may have found it. Have a need for warm socks, or perhaps a cloak mended, eah?"

"No, not as such. But trade with what, is there a village near?"

The woman cackled and shook her head, "Not a village, but couple days out I have me own place."

"And you find business out there?" he inquired increduously.

"Oh yes, lots of right nutty ones prowling about the white wastes who can't be bothered to go much near them town. But I gots me a good spot, where not only white but goodly green."

"This far south?

"Eah, y'never heard uh the Southern Pass? Lift me unto wonna these buggies here and I'll lead ya there."

Such was how Salkin first came to find the Pass, the ideal spot to begin his plans. He took pity on the woman when he saw her establishment, hardly more than a crack in the side of the mountain. He volunteered to have her built a grand log shop, but she'd hear none of it, having been living here since she was born. So he left her be, but gave her promise to let her have first stock of supplies that came through. He was completely unprepared however for her jumping up on him with a squeal and a hug that would have made a grizzly wince.


(Human Bard/Psion (Seer) )

(photo taken from www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk )

Mahogany is a slightly interesting seeming individual with a vague aura of... comfortableness. His ugly, careworn face has the same sort of appeal to the eyes as a pair of broken-in slippers would to a pair of tired feet. Where exposed his skin is deeply tanned with sunburned looking red tinge. His fuzzy hair has been cropped short and is of a deep auburn hue, as is his stubble of a beard. Sharp, thoughtful dark green eyes peer out from beneath bushy brows.

He is of just slightly below normal height, and heavyset, with a slight pot-belly. His movements are casual and unhurried, not exactly thoughtful, but as if the proper rythem was achieved and continues to be maintained. His feet are large and flat, or his right one would be if not for a clubbed curvature expressed in the make of his hand-made leather boots, and a slight limp that accompanies it.

A scream came from a nearby cottage. Arlus's mother quickly pulled the blanket over the window and dashed to take a pitcher from the table. Her hands trembled as she doused the dying embers in the hearth. She grabbed him by the arm and half pulled him over.

"Arlus," she started with a quavering voice, "You must be hidden. Lets cover yourself in the ashes. No, just DO IT!." she implored frantically.

She wrapped him in a cloak and held him tight a moment before using her bare hands to sweep a section of the deep char to the side. He rubbed the soot over his face and throat as she piled the soot about him, and drew his head back within the hood as she sprinkled the last bit. She quickly wiped clean her hands with an old rag. The door was then shoved open and tall men entered, their skin stained with filth and blood. One grinned, showing yellowed teeth and stepped towards her. She backed away to the table and as he advanced she reached aroubd and grabbed the earthen pitcher. He raised it up swiftly and slammed it over his head. He staggered a moment as two more leaped forward to grab her. A hand to a bleeding cut on his forehead the wounded barbarian made a swift movement and she crumpled. Arlus gasped unthinkingly and drew in a lungful of ash.

The bleeding man quickly jerked his head to the hearth as a wheezing sound was accompanied by a billow of soot. The man reached down and drew a dagger from the still form at his feet and stalked towards Arlus with a sadistic grin. Arlus saw his reflection in the blade for a brief moment as the point came to his eye...

"Arlus... ARLUS!" a voice came to him. His eyes opened but he could see little for the tears streaming down his face. "Arlus, its alright, its alright. Wake up, heed me little one." A bit of cloth was wiped across his face and he blinked up to see his mother's worried face. He realized then that he was still screaming and stopped, taking quick, frantic breaths.

"MAMA!" he whispered loudly, and wrapped his small arms around her, shuddering violently.

She rubbed his shoulders and murmered to him until he calmed before asking him what had so frightened him. He began to tell her when a thought occured to him.

"Mama, we must go, now!" he insisted, sliding out of her lap and pulling at her hand.

"Arlus it was only a dream, you..."

"NO! WE MUST! Mama, we MUST!"

She looked down into his red eyes and smiled. It would help him to forget afterall. "Alright." she proclaimed. "How about we go pick some berries for breakfast."

He quickly nodded and hobbled out the door, limping on his clubbed foot. Twitching in a fearful way he breathed a sigh of relief when she finally came out with the basket. He tugged and scolded her at her slowness until they were out of the village and down into the valleys between the hills. A dense blackberry thicket was giving up the last of its fruit for the year, and... a long scream echoed from the distance.

"Arlus, stay HERE!" she said strictly and hiking up her skirts jogged up the side of the hill. A hand went to her mouth at the sight of a hoarde of barely clothed men in skins bareling into cottages and dragging out bodies. She half slid, half ran down the hill.

"We must fly, little one!" she exclaimed and picking him up in her arms, shielding him from the thorns of the bushes as she shoved her way through. She hurried past scavenged fields and burning farms for some time before she set Arlus down and lie in the grass, breathing hard.

It would be several months before they stopped fleeing, as the barbarians made raid after raid. They finally stopped as they reached a rural town of many huts sprawled out amongst the nearby mountain ranges. Here Arlus and his mother spent the next twenty years of their life. With his club foot none were willing to take him as an apprentice, and so he and his mother made do with him earning an odd copper here or there for him carting manure, keeping goats, along with repairing boots and the occassional bit of leather. It was their twenty-first winter there his mother passed away from pneumonia. She smiled and reached up and ruffled his red hair. With a rattling breath she said, "Goodbye, my mahogany haired lad." and though her lungs rose and struggled, another breath did not follow.

Having come from nothing, and dying with nothing, her death was of little interest to any but Arlus. By himself he carted her body to a small plateau where she and him had so long ago picked wildflowers. He covered her over with stones, and sat beside it as the sun slowly disapeared below the peaks.

He lied a hand atop the stone pile and bowed his head. He then recovered his meager sack and started down the hill. A sad smile came to him as he thought, 'Lets see whats over there...'

"MAHOGANY! Mahogany is coming!" the children called as he leaned against his walking stick and grinned. Mothers stood impartially inside doorways, watching with a hint of disaproval, but also curiosity. Bards and travelers alike were ofton hounded by the townspeople, hungry for news or song, but Mahogany was different. The old vagabond always had too much... or, well, he shouldn't know about... decent people were never known to go into those reaches, but... it was difficult for others to explain their feelings. Many only remembered him from their own childhood, a fleeting memory of his tales, a line from an odd song whistled. However, the man was completely harmless, this was apparent. The children loved him and they slept soundly nights when he was about, dreaming the night long of the places he had visited, the people he had met, which was an inexhaustible list to say the least. Beside the children, map makers and the occassional learned one was known to take him to the side and question him on details of this and that region. Then, once dusk came, and the men returned from the fields, there would always be something needing repaired, or a need of aid here, something that would gain him something hot from a pot. A loaf of bread here, some stew there, or even a new vest maphap, and then he would be on his way again, not to be seen again for years, if ever.

Thieves, highwaymen, or even the casual pick pocket; none of this type had ever seen him. The inside of his sack and pockets were a mystery to all. By chance he simply managed to show when they were preoccupied elsewhere. Eventually many ceased to care, though a curiosity of that sort was not so easily put aside.


Mahogany smiled and waved to the small number of children who had awoken to see him off, many having slipped out of windows and stood barefoot on the chilly streets.

His heart always soared to see their honest, uncomplicated faces. Their insatiable curiosity, so much like his, waiting to be filled with ideas and stories. Despite this he felt relief as he nodded to a passing night watchmen wearily plodding home. No town or city was... large enough. Even the most sprawling metropolis was cramped and narrow compared to the vast plains and hills. Freedom and never ending discoverings were to be found out here. Months, and even years could go by before he stumbled across the next village, his time filled with thinking and pondering over existence. Wondering what might be over the next mile, the next hill, over the horizon till it met with the sea. Dark places of reported evil he passed by unscathed, and areas reported to be filled with lurking beasts and demons he traveled through without difficulty. Kingdoms and villages, and caverns and beaches and fields that were told in no story he had ever heard he saw, and such was his life. Contentment was to be found out upon svelt and wood. Many times he had even led warriors and historians and many others to places, guiding them through its long-familiar hazards and returning them safely to be given rewards of gold he gave to others. Such joy it was as they discovered new things and secrets revealed, this was his reward. A universe of surprises was the one thing he wished, if anyone had asked.

Nearing his seventieth year he pondered the direction of a split in the road to a place yet untrod by his feet. One did not appeal to him while the other... he had an inexplicable feeling that he might be needed, and that it would lead to that path. Such feelings were so much reflex to him. He had long since ceased to notice that his instincts were so invariably correct. He was old, and had seen many things. Let his feet take him where they would lead, all paths were one to him...

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 03:15 PM

Sudden White (CR?)
Two days after arriving in the Pass a great storm blows in ferociously from the south. At first it is only freezing rain, but within several hours it turns to a blizzard thats all but unknown in this area. Most of those outside come into the Gaping Maw to shelter out the storm, aside from the dog handlers who remain out to guard their pack. As everyone is inside Mahogany begins on a story to help pass the time when suddenly he shivers and his old eyes widen with alarm.

"Lads, somethin's not right here. These bones'uh'been tellin' me things for a good long piecemeal and I've gotten to listenin' to'em as iffin they out and spoken to me. Mayhap it'd be best if we go take a look round and see how them as stayed put in this sudden white are doin', mmm?"

If the players don't volunteer or take a time to discuss it a man with a slashed up face runs into the inn calling for help, that some trees been downed and that there are men and mount both trapped under the wood and snow.

Those who run out either way see a large dove fluttering in the hallway leading into the inn, its wing obviously broken. In fact, those who succeed on a DC 20 listen check hear the calls of hundreds of birds almost completely muted by the howling winds. Outside their are dozens of these birds lying stunned on the ground, having been bashed into the mountainside.

Snowy Dove: CR 1; Tiny magical beast (cold); HD 1/2d10; hp 2; Init +3; Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average); AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +1; Grp -11; Atk or Full Atk Claw +6 melee (1d2-4 plus 1d2 cold) or Frigid Beating +6 ranged (1d4 cold); SA frigid beating, touch of winter's sleep; SQ chill heal, darkvision 60 ft., frosty plumage, gelid, low-light vision, vulnerability to fire, whitesight; AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 2, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 10;
Skills and Feats: Hide +13*, Spot +4; Weapon Finesse
Chill Heal (Ex): Ice and snow heal the dove's wounds. For every round that the creature is buried within snow or ice the creature instead gains the benefit of a cure minor wounds spell (1 point healed). Two or more snowy doves touching each other provides enough cold for chill healing.
Frigid Beating (Su): Once per round a Snowy Dove can flap vigorously over a non-supernatural flame up to the size of a standard campfire, instantly putting it out. It can also direct its beats at a single living being within 10 feet, whom take 1d4 points of cold damage. It can even use this ability to land on water, freezing a section which is thick enough to support its insubstantial weight.
Frosty Plumage (Ex): A snowy dove continuously produces a chill mist from its body. The misty haze is so thick that it grants the creature one-half concealment (20% miss-chance) and makes hiding easier (see Skills below). Though it is difficult to see the snowy dove because of the mist rising from its body, the mist itself is visible, provided that the area has sufficient light to by which to see it.
Gelid (Ex): A snowy dove's body deals 1d2 points of cold damage to each creature (except another snowy dove) that touches it, as well as becoming frostbitten. Any liquid or container of liquid in contact must make a reflex save (DC 10) or freeze solid. If in contact with a weapon for a full round the weapon becomes brittle, reducing its hardness by 5 until it thaws (5 minutes in contact with warmth, 1 minute in heat such as flame or boiling water, 1 hour if in already freezing conditions). In addition, rolling a 1 on an attack with the weapon causes it to take damage equivalent to the amount it would have dealt on a successful hit. When a snowy dove dies it rapidly freezes over and shatters at the slightest touch. Drinking the melted remains of a snowy dove gives one cold resistance 2 for an hour.
Touch of Winter's Sleep (Su): A snowy dove can attempt a touch attack that causes a state of suspended animation. The victim must make a successful DC 10 will save or go into a coma for a week as if under the affects of a Hibernate spell (Frostburn p. 97). The save DC is charisma based.
Vulnerability to Fire: A snowy dove takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from fire spells and effects, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.
Whitesight (Ex): A snowy dove is immune to snow glare and can see normally in whiteout conditions.
Skills: In snowy or misty areas, a snowy dove gains a +8 bonus on hide checks.

The players, with difficulty, make it down into the forest, though if any carry lanterns they are almost immediately beset by 1d6 snowy doves every minute who try to put out the flame.

At least two cabins have been crushed they find, though a couple sled dogs are trying to unearth their master in one, who is found to be dead. The main difficulty though is that one of the huge trees, long dead and rotten, has fallen, knocking over several others, and has pinned a man in his tent. They can hear his cries for help but cannot locate him under so much wood. The players must figure out how to lift the massive trees or in some way get him out. They have five minutes in game before he finally succumbs. There is a 1% cumulative chance every minute that another tree falls on the players or another cabin as they try to rescue him. An occasional snowy dove also dives at them, attracted to their body heat. Once they return to the Gaping Maw they find dozens of dead birds littering the floors within, and several badly hurt domovoi.

By the evening of the next day the blizzard has passed, though feet of snow now cover everything and the temperatures are truly bitter.


Behind the Burlap (CR 3)
In attempt to gain some knowledge on the Pass, Warlord Teh has sent one of his scouts, a snow goblin who has been raised since birth to serve him.

Juuga: Snow goblin scout 3;CR 3;Small humanoid (goblin); HD 3d8+6; 19 HP; Init +5; Spd 40 ft., climb 20 ft.; AC 22 (+1 size, +4 defense, +4 dex, +2 leather, +1 natural), touch 19, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +2;Grp -1; Atk or Full Atk Dagger +4 melee(1d3+1) or Light Crossbow +7 ranged (1d6); SA skirmish 1d6 plus +1 AC; SQ booming voice, darkvision 60 ft., trackless step, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL TN; SV Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +2; Str 12, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 11;
Skills and Feats: Climb +9, Escape Artist +10, Hide +14, Intimidate +4, Knowledge (geography) +5, Listen +7, Move Silently +14, Spot +7, Survival +7; Run, Snowrunner
Possessions: *Dagger, *Fur Clothing, *Light Crossbow
* Small sized

Sneaking within a sack of goods one night, he was brought into the Pass. He suffered several broken ribs and partially suffocated as they stacked the sacks as he had to wait till all had left before emerging. He has been hiding at the top of the sacks in the back waiting to heal. Living off of the food in the sacks or barrels, he sneaks out every now and again to get a drink of water. He is almost completely healed now and is preparing to scope out the Pass.

Those who enter Tyrus' Supply have a chance of locating the goblin if they possess the scent ability. If he is undetected he spies about the Pass until the blizzard arrives every night, giving a chance for any nocturnal wanderers to notice him. Taking advantage of the blizzard he attempts to sneak out of the Pass altogether while the guards seek shelter. When the players come out to aid those in the forest they must make a spot check to see him. Because of the snow starting to thickly fall he gets a +6 bonus to his hide check.

If seen he runs as swiftly as he can for the gates leading to the south. If captured he refuses to speak, far more scared of Warlord Teh than anything the players would do to him, for he thinks the were to be a god capable of devouring his very soul.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 03:22 PM

Firesoak Silk
This exotic substance is a product of the wonderous firesoak moth. These moths are most often found within boreal forests, forming great nests within downed and rotting trees. Though covered in a thick brown fur and suited well to the outside temperatures, their eggs require warmth to properly hatch. They therefore spin extensive tunnels out of a sticky black substance they produce from their spittle. It quickly hardens into elastic threads. This unique thread absorbs heat with astounding efficiency. The body heat from the moths and the process of decomposition of the wood are trapped and a steady temperature is maintained within these nests.

This silk, when woven into fabric, produces a material invaluable to those of cold locales. A simple curtain across a doorway is enough to keep the heat within a room, or a set of clothing of the stuff enough to fend off even the chilliest temperatures. Firesoak moths are not very common however and difficult to raise so that the prices of the silk is high.

The main drawback to firesoak is its incredible flammability. In temperatures that reach above 200 degrees, or brought near flame, the material combusts and quickly burns itself into ash.

Firesoak silk costs 10 gp per square yard.

Firesoak Bodysuit
A firesoak bodysuit comes complete with socks, gloves, and hood. It is treated as the equivalent of a cold weather outfit, except that it does little to block the chill of wind. Worn alone in windy locales it only grants a +2 bonus. If worn beneath other clothing or in calm areas it grants its full +5 bonus. This silk is so thin and flimsy that it may easily be warn underneath any clothing. If worn in conjunction with a cold weather outfit the bonuses stack.

A firesoak suit costs 120 gp. It can be made with a successful DC 20 Craft (weaving) check within four days.


Red Dew

Red Dew is a special liquid that flows down certain trunks or drips from the fronds of the Red Dew forest to warn mortals that they are nearing fey inhabited lands.

A number of alchemists have been known to collect great quantities of red dew and distill it, turning it into an almost syrupy liquid of deep red color. It is also often added to other drinks, which gives it a strangely fresh taste and seems to lessen hangovers. Those who drink the brew gain a +4 bonus to all charisma-based checks when interacting with Fey, whom sense them as brethren. This bonus lasts for a day.
Red Dew is magical in nature, and each vial has a market price of 25 gp.

Preparing red dew requires a DC 10 Craft (alchemy) or Profession (brewer) check, and 6 hours a day for a week collecting the required ammount.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 03:24 PM
There. Though I still have some small bits to add, and I may need to adjust things here and there, the main course is served.

The Glyphstone
2006-03-04, 03:43 PM
Arg....[looks around for means of sabotage...]...

Nice job, Tribble. Very impressive. But where does the Vorpal fit in?

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-04, 04:01 PM
But where does the Vorpal fit in?
Mainly just put it in the title to get in the bare prerequisite. Lets just say Salkin "Vorpal" Motard has a nickname. That should do it.

Or could change it to Tribble's Gaping Maw, and Tribble could be his nickname, gotten from when he invented a new type of paper frame. Something along those lines.

2006-03-04, 04:20 PM

...and I here I actually thought I had a change of winning something. Between you and Glyph, it's not likely.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-06, 12:43 PM
...and I here I actually thought I had a change of winning something. Between you and Glyph, it's not likely.
I wouldn't be too sure. I betcha few folks are actually going to want to read through all this. Very likely just choose one of the others that are short but sweet.

Also added the Red Dew Forest which the Pass is at the southermost reaches of.

2006-03-06, 09:58 PM
Looks awesome. I think after reading that you need a better pic. Amazing.

2006-03-07, 11:44 PM
Very nice. Between you and Glyph I definitely feel outdone.

Wait, outdone is the wrong word. Perhaps 'trampled' or 'destroyed' would be more appropriate.

2006-03-08, 04:08 PM
TVP, I'm glad you got around to coming up with something. Very nice! ;D

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-10, 03:31 PM
Thanks :)

Anyways, I believe this is all pretty much done, and just added a section for the cellar of the Gaping Maw which plays a large part in the plot of the thing.