Dicember 2021 – tower

A terrible number of strange and lonely (or just lonely, or even just lone) towers seem to have wizards in them. If they don’t have a wizard in, they probably used to; if the tower’s a ruin, probably a wizard that ruined it.

What if you want a strange or lonely or lone tower that doesn’t have a wizard?

Got you covered —

01. The inside of the tower doesn’t have any distinct floors; it’s completely hollow, every speck of its walls and domed ceiling coated in slowly turning cobalt and gold, land maps on the walls and starcharts on the dome. No one seems to be present …
02. The tower is built over a fissure to the Scarlet Iron Hell. Its upper floors, attainable by corroded ladders, contain comfortable suites for visitors and a workroom for negotiating sentences; but the first floor is a burning blood-red inferno that matches the molten-lace maw to the hell, guarded by stern heavenly devils alert for those escaping purification.
03. The getaway refuge of a retiring faerie lord, this tower is forged from translucent, glowing ivy and clinging grapevines, faerie glass and compressed starlight. Inside, Jalailah the Twice-Moon Moth Marquis reclines on a bed of velvet fangs and is served by grey-pelted deer-goblins.
04. Shattered, tumbled, its stones scorched black from the heat of the flames that devoured its former inhabitants, the Wry-Falcon’s Keep is a hollow ruin — save for the night of a lunar eclipse, when its walls rise ruddy and ghost-like, and the echoes of heavy-treaded boots ring from its walks …
05. Alas for those searching for a great sorcerer, the tower changed hands when its builder failed in their bid to become a lich. Now the slim marble spire houses a co-operative of beekeepers; ground floor for trade and orders, middle floors for communal living, topmost floors dedicated to the homes of their giant tawny-furred bumblebee companions.
06. They say that Dancing Horse Tower — battered, moss-grown, perpetually changing hands as bandit kinds come and go — was once a motte, and that the long low hill it perches on was a bailey filled with otherworldly folks and their silver-shot village. But the bailey filled in as a barrow, and only the Tower stands proud … though Cesash the Wolf is claiming to hear a whistle from a crack in the earth outside, and …
07. Impeccable, of gleaming white marble — fitted so finely one couldn’t slip a silk thread between the stones — and prism-treated bronze, the Spire Of Wings At Rest has been a refuge and a shrine dedicated to the gentle Roui Of The Soothing Whisper. So why have there been so few pilgrims seen, and the doves are gone, and reports of colourless gargoyles circling the gleaming Spire at night grow and grow?
08. Grown from the earth itself, this nameless (it has been very important that it be nameless) tower spirals gently skyward, entwined limbs of rowan and hazel and pale ghost birch woven immutably together, walls and floor-platforms and handholds and all. The greenwychs who live within and without still offer blessings and balms in return for news and small favours done, despite encroaching villages.
09. One of the few remaining signal arrays left after the Twin Regent War, this hilltop tower is battered granite and oak reinforcement — and reinforcement is what its tired staff would appreciate for at least a little, both for maintenance of the great polished reflector that crowns their post like a metal sun and to herd away the misguided souls who think the gleaming thing somehow means a wizard lairs inside.
10. It sprang up overnight, it did; on the edge of the township, right next to the market gathering-grounds. It looks so quaint and unprepossessing, with its grey cobblestone walls and its rough wooden roof and frames; the greyhair who stepped blinking into the morning light, also unremarkable. A weaver, they said, and an accident of others’ magic. But the greyhair’s shadow speaks of strangeness, the strangeness of wings …
11. There is no tower. Or, at least, nothing that anyone has attempted so far has located a tower. But the shadow of a tower falls across the ground on sunny days, a grand fluted construction crowned with sub-towers, crenellations, and fluttering banners, and none have the answer. And now the shadow shows a door swung wide.
12. The dead are building a tower. The fleshless dead are building a tower from their own bones — three floors already, and rising, rising — and more are clattering, striding, crawling across the land to join them every night. They ignore the living. Their chattering rhythms speak of a great angel, ivory and burnished, awaiting their arrival. The tower rises.

Dicember 2021 – help

Sometimes adventurers are a little more organized than random rapscallions who threw themselves together in a tavern before looking for a ruin to plunder or bandits to, well, plunder. Or, maybe those rapscallions decided to make a decent go at the ruins-spelunking and the bandit eradication and the cleaning up of abandoned graveyards and their restless inhabitants — that sort of thing — and eventually passed along the tricks of the trade to younger, fresher faces.

Or adventuring is more of a cover for finding the ways and means to get the resources needed to push back against an iron fist. That’s also a possibility.

In fact, all these and more are the multi-threaded genesis of the Vine. Less an “adventurer’s guild” and more an interconnected web of chapterhouses, informal associations, whisper networks, chartered “adventuring parties” (where such exist), individual explorers and mysteriously maintained dropboxes, way-houses and gear caches, the Vine — once a budding adventuring sort, young or old, makes a connection — is your best source for weird gear, weirder rumours, tips and tricks, and suggested sources for anything from replacement travel spellbooks to friendly sources of healing magic to the best smith for silvershot weapons to nesting material for an angel’s egg.

Aid received for aid offered, of course. And vice versa.

“Give a little, get a little; we’re all in this crazy thing together, yeah?”
An informal collective of adventurers, explorers, rebels and similar roaming, delving types, connected by their spelunking through ruins and labyrinths and necropolei and trading around rumours, tips and news
– dark green, wine-red and violet; grape or ivy tendril (or related emblem)
– mess kit, scrollcase of scribbled maps and notes, reinforced backpack, lantern and oil or candles, “souvenir” from latest delve

This Vine contact knows of …

01. a deep-forest ravine where a strange blue portal appeared last week
02. a soon-to-arrive band of deer-goblins that make amazing mead
03. a rumoured location to the subterranean cult chambers of Iiifryth Of The Amber Hells
04. a newly discovered sublevel in the Sundered Castle
05. the hidden vices of Marquis Barran, the region’s new conqueror
06. the calculations needed to divine the next appearance of the Pearl Tower, and where
07. a grateful supply trader specializing in trail rations and camp gear
08. the location of Dagger Bright’s newest bandit hold
09. a formula for a balm said to blunt the agony of dragonfire
10. a fervent crusader looking to find a fallen temple to restore and reconsecrate
11. a sorcerer who wants an escort to the magic pool on the Underloft’s fifth marble level
12. what best to bribe the lord’s ailing seneschal with to gain access to The Books

This Vine contact is looking for …

01. a sorcerer who’s willing to take on a wilful apprentice
02. someone who can speak the languages of hobgoblins and unicorns
03. a party to retrieve a fallen friend in the depths of the Bone Cathedral
04. referrals for signing on with a mercenary company for a season
05. clues to the locations of the remaining Night Ruby shards
06. a good source for ingredients for lightning-magic scroll inks
07. the buried granite gateway of the Great Black Delve and its lost halls
08. advice on a source for healing that doesn’t require faith or (too much) charity
09. a body-double for a lordling’s son, just for one night
10. spellcasting strong enough to break the Eleventh Moon Curse
11. leads on iron rations that taste less like wood and have less mushroom
12. a dragon heart, or at least a dragon’s lair and companions to travel with

Dicember 2021 – forest

Travelling through the great deep forest can be a wonderful, relaxing experience; trails dappled with sunlight, chirruping songbirds, maybe a chance to take a shot at a hare or a deer or the like for your dinner (and dinner to share at that), maybe the discovery of a sprawling patch of morels or a burbling brook or, oh wondrous moment, a traveller’s lean-to maintained by years of fellow wanderers …

Oh. Oh, dear.

This doesn’t seem to be that kind of forest, does it.

What has the forest let you find?

01. A white stag that fades to bone and mist as it leaps away
02. A lone birch with golden leaves marked as if by tearstains
03. Three pillars, blade-like, of pockmarked black stone
04. A gossamer net strung across a shadowed side-trail
05. A cairn of softly glowing wolf skulls
06. A figure in torn leathers, lying still inside a ring of crimson toadstools
07. A pine weeping blood-red sap from savaged bark
08. Six pinecones gleaming oddly silver in the unsteady light
09. A tiny glade carpeted with tattered moth’s wings
10. A ring of trees grown together, so much like a small hut with hearth
11. A weathered sword of bone and gold thrust half to the hilt in an ancient oak
12. First one white sparrow follows you; then two; then four; then eight; then …