Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Duttel: From Port to Conspiracy

Sewnich – ‘The Shell’
  • A seaside town no one really likes.
    • People tolerate it for its fish and view.
    • Mayor detested, council spineless.
    • Everyone is on edge. Weary. Uneasy.
      •  Only the old speak to strangers.
  • A port exporting exclusively corpses.
    • Under a cover of cattle production. People believe them. No questions.
    •  Shipped to Turnwald. Use unknown.
    • Easy to sneak on ships. Security is lax. No one cares enough.
      • Returns 5 days after departure. ¼ day to travel. Food available.
    • Every person and thing in the port is silent. Not from fright.
  • An excavation site slowly unveiling the earth’s sarcophagus.
    • A deific corpse rests, decaying into beta particle bursts. Mesmerizing.
      • It was a king once. But now it is a memory. The old remember.
    • They are scared to work. They know what they are doing. They won’t talk.
    • Site supervisor is Endel Ornsaft. He hates you. A lot.
Turnwald – ‘The Pearl’

  • A river colony sifting liquid quartz.
    • The water emanates chalky paleness.
    • Wading dyes everything white slowly and permanently.
    • Calcified outgrowths jut out every few meters like reverse bullet holes.
    • Translucent fish in the froth that feed on memories. Skeletal, pale. Small.
  • A series of cranes slowly assembling a ziggurat of the ages.
    • Their work is very important. They do not want to be stopped.
    • They are almost done. So close.
    • It is built atop a tomb to be topped with a tomb.
    • Site supervisor is Endel Ornsaft. He hates you. A lot.
  • A cave vomiting history’s blood.
    • It leaks oil. Deep black, rich.
      • Valuable, tabooed and cursed.
      • Touching it gives false flashbacks.
    • Fossils seem to lurch from the walls.
      • Rumored they are nocturnal.
    • Hideout in a pinch, grave in a hurry.
    • Leads down to Duttel. Cart tracks.
Duttel – ‘The End’

  • A hydraulic press assembling colossi.
    • Warped iron fused with dried bone.
    • Wires writhe in their backs, easily cut.
    • Weep stone tears as they kill or die.
    • They have little to no control over themselves.
      • They are sorry. They are many.
    • Site supervisor is Endel Ornsaft. He hates you. A lot.
  • A siphon feeding on refined quartz.
    • The river’s end is its beginning.
      • Quartz lends its pale body to the machine, yearning for purpose.
    • It births alkahest and processes colossi.
    • Stopping this machine stops all things.
  • A lead reservoir of alkahest biding time.
    • Spigots line its side with rosy padlocks.
      • They shatter easily. Plenty of warning signs.
    • Stairs spiraling up the side. Railings.
      • Two of them wrap opposite each other. They meet at the top.
    • Carbon-fiber webbing bucking below.
      • It can dip down low enough to touch the surface. Dissolves.


Author's Notes, Talk, and Visions:

    An abstract mess of midnight fuelled ideas and ideally abstract brain-fuel. It's not supposed to be concrete in any way, shape, or form, and was written to be constrained within a 3 columned landscape Word document. Somehow, it fit and felt fulfilling. Hopefully, you, dear reader, will find some use out of this. If not, then maybe you got a kick out of reading it. If not even that, then I'm still content.

System neutral on purpose with OSR in mind. This is my first RPG related writing 'supplement' or 'module' I've ever written, so it's bound to be clunky and off, but I hope it's only the first of many. Apologies for formatting, spacing, and overall readability; it's been adapted from aforementioned Word document, and I'll admit, it wasn't exactly pretty there either. 

Running It?: How I saw myself playing it

Module(?) as written is not combat heavy. RP is what it seems to lean towards, but obviously PC actions may turn people against them. At night, corpses might rise, or orcs might attack. Whatever floats your boat besides water. Or maybe what you want is water; a flood might be an interesting spin on all 3 locations.

    Sewnich is meant to be the beginning. The PCs drift in somehow (I imagined a carriage) to this uncomfortable mass of buildings upon the seaside. They'll probably be commissioned / contacted / implored to investigate the area and town. Bonus points for checking out the freaky port. Big money, big pay, big good fun. The town should probably have some some stores and places to pick up goods.

The excavation site is nestled in a hillside, tree-topped, dirt filled. A monolithic sarcophagus slowly emerging from the earth, akin to a prisoner manically clawing out its cell. Opening it is its own can of worms, likely birthing a devastating giant to roam the plane. Bad idea, but people might be curious. A good endgame for PCs who choose to just stick around and meddle with things. They'll catch wind of what is transpiring soon enough, ideally. The elders may be scared. The government / heads is 

    Turnwald will ideally be where they find themselves getting to next. They'll be pointed in that direction by some helpful elder, or (as I intended to hopefully happen) sneaking aboard one of the boats, to be stuck for a few hours with corpses. The boats head up the coast to a delta, travelling upstream a river that slowly turns from clear water to a pale chalkiness, finally arriving at Turnwald. It's surrounded by uncanny trees. PCs should be wary of the river, and the captain of the boat will proclaim such to its workers as the boat coasts in. The fish are vile and unnerving, similar to cave fish one may find, evolved for no light, low calories, and nimble maneuvers.

It's a river colony dedicated to quartz extraction, refining, and transportation. There's an outlet that the river alternatively flows down to Duttel, powering its machinations. The town is relatively self-sustaining, but needs the "meat" that Sewnich exports. They'll be polite enough to the party, provided they either don't poke around too much or provide enough coin. They have most adventuring utilities needed, like weaponsmiths, merchants, hotels.

The cranes at the site here are building a temple to... something. This something may be whatever is in the Sewnich sarcophagus. The workers know their work is crucial, and won't take kindly to delays. It's built on top of a tomb, which I imagined to be a cemetery of sorts, or a king's resting place. Construction of the ziggurat may spell the end of an era. It could be a cult's final offering to their god, who is finally waking.

The cave is peculiar. It leads (down?) to Duttel, a terrifying tunnel of writhing fossiled walls which bleed oil. Collecting the oil pays well, but has its own share of issues. It stains the hands and bones, it causes false memories of one's past, it attracts the cave's nocturnal residents towards them like horror movie victims seek locked doorknobs. There's plenty of alcoves and rooms people can hide out in, but they ought be certain they've secured the room; they might have unwelcome ancient visitors from the walls. Cave-ins and the like may or may not happen often, due to sudden rumbling of a colossi being birthed below.

    Duttel is the endgame of the three locations. It's possible some poor saps might wander in by accident, but it's unlikely. The biggest feature is the factory and machines that are building metal colossi. These Iron Giant-esque creatures have no self control, and merely take orders. They are sentient, and so they woe their actions. They'll probably be powered off when the PCs arrive. On their backs are exposed wires, easy to cut and snip. They run on quartz, both liquid and refined. They will wake up to security breaches.

The siphons power the machines in the area. They devour quartz of all forms, but primarily liquid as it funnels from the river. The reservoir holds alkahest, the universal solvent. It will destroy nearly everything it can. Its side spigots are locked to prevent abuse of usage, but they're easily broken. The reservoir is conveniently located across from the factory and all its machines and colossi.

    Endel Ornsaft is the site supervisor. If you read his name time and time again and were intrigued or confused, then I did my job well. Or if you didn't, then I tried. PCs should feel that every time they encounter him after the first is bizarre and unlikely -- they should feel there's more to him, or that he's following them. He might also come off a prick: a sneer dancing on his face, an outward smirk concealing a rotten smile, a self-proclaimed deputy of the town crimping on everyone. He might be the big boss at the end, enacting his devilish plan atop the alkahest reservoir, or simply a pawn of a bigger baddie. Your game, your choice.


Inspired deeply and truly by Patrick Stuart, who runs his own fantastic blog over at False Machine. Go check him and his other writing out, it's what hooked me into the OSR scene so damningly.

Also inspired somewhat less so by recent excursions into Lovecraft readings and Magic: The Gathering art.

Criticism, comments, feedback, etc. is highly welcome and even, dare I say, requested! Ran the module for yourself? Tell me about it!