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The time I have planned for all these years draws near. I will soon start the procedure. Where this experiment will lead I cannot say, for this has never been tried before, of that I am sure. Once begun, it will take ninety days to complete. Meet me at the peak of Mt. Magyar on the Summer Solstice at noon to bear witness to the results of my many years of work. This will be my crowning achievement, my masterpiece. I hope all goes well, as I will never be able to muster the energies again that I have invested.
Tell no one of this. They would never allow this experiment, even if they were to comprehend what I am trying to achieve.
This is an introductory scenario to introduce players into the world of Scarr. The scenario is outlined here:
• Finding the message
• Getting to Mt. Magyar
• Stopping the catastrophe
• Waking up in a new world
• What now?
That, in a nutshell, is it. More detail for each section follows.
FINDING THE MESSAGE
Traveling through the mountains, in an area of somewhat dangerous terrain, you find a body of a traveler. He was outfitted extremely well for mountain climbing. He seems ordinary by most accounts, but there is one odd factor. His fall could have been easily stopped, had he but let go of a scrollcase. He held fast to the container, thus sealing his fate at the bottom of the cliff. The contents of the scrollcase have been reproduced above. There is also a glowing pendant around the dead man’s neck. A photo of the pendant has been included.
All of this should entice the players to investigate more closely. Far from any town, there is no one to ask, so whatever the players deduce must come from the corpse and its belongings.
The corpse was battered in the fall down the cliff, but close inspection of the body (Search DC 25) will uncover the red marks around the neck of the corpse. These marks were caused by the pendant and the strong leather strap around the corpse’s neck.
The pendant seems to be pulling in one direction all the time, towards the mountains. (Knowledge Arcana DC 20 or Knowledge Religion DC 25 or Knowledge Nature DC 30) will reveal that the symbols are Astronomical in nature. Exceeding any of these rolls by 10 reveals that the alignment of the symbols refers to a specific alignment of celestial bodies, and therefore, a specific time. Exceed the roll by 20 and one other piece of information is revealed: This alignment occurs in just two days!
The papers are all rolled together in a scroll case. Close investigation of them reveals much, if the right knowledge can be applied:
Knowledge Arcana DC 25
Knowledge Religion DC 30
Knowledge Alchemy DC 18
GETTING TO MT. MAGYAR
The next two days will be very treacherous if the party wishes to make it to Mt. Magyar by the day mentioned on the note to Joshua (assumed to be the corpse). Following the trail will not get you there in time. Dangerous shortcuts must be attempted in order to reach the site of this madman’s experiment. The weather will remain clear and dry for the entire time upon the mountain. This is an arid mountain range, not a snowy one. Three climb checks must be performed each hour: Two for the direction you are going, and one for the opposite. So while climbing the mountains, two is for cumulative ascent, the other for cumulative descent. On the descent from the mountain, there will be two descent checks and only one ascent roll. If there is any hope of reaching the peak in time, a minimum of 12 hours of rigorous climbing a day will be required. Ascent is more difficult than descent.
Climbing skill check DC’s are as follows:
Ascent (Climb DC 18)
Descent (Climb DC 15)
A failure means a fall. If tied together, the person higher on the rope may make an additional check (Climb DC 22) to recover those beneath him. If he fails, then the next person up the rope adds +2 to the climb DC, and so on. (Climb DC 24, then DC 26, etc) This is a very dangerous endeavor!
A fall means a few different things. Roll a d20:
1- fall 10d10 feet straight down, no chance of grabbing hold (you were climbing on the underside of a rock) [1 hr wasted recovering you]
2-7 fall 6d10 feet straight down, Save to grab hold half way down (Save Reflex 18). If the grab was successful, you are hanging on to the cliff face, with minimal damage (1d6 hp) from scrapes and bruises. You may hang on to the cliff unaided for a number of rounds equal to the average of your Strength and Constitution score, rounded up ((STR + CON) /2), then fall for full 6d10 damage. [30 min wasted recovering you]
8-15 slide down a sloped escarpment 60 ft. Take minimal damage from scrapes and bruises (1d6 hp). [30 min wasted recovering you]
16-19 you slide down the sloped cliff face, but take no damage.
20- the person nearest you steadies you as you lose your balance and your grip. You owe them. A lot. (No damage, no wasted time)
STOPPING THE CATASTROPHE
If the party does not make it:
You approach a strange domed structure with odd symbols painted all over the dome. You see the sky darken as the moon slowly moves to cover the sun! As the sun dies away completely, and an eerie nighttime breeze blows through the mountains, a beam of raw, blinding white energy connects the peak ahead of you with the moon directly overhead! Even if miles away, you are forcefully blown back and knocked off your feet as the energy comes crashing down!
As you lose consciousness, the last thing you see chills you to the very core: huge cracks on the moon! The moon is flying apart and falling out of the sky!
- BLACK -
If the party makes it:
You approach a strange domed structure with odd symbols painted all over the dome. You see the sky darken as the moon slowly moves to cover the sun! You see an old white-haired man in robes waving to you wildly!
“Get in here! Get in now or you will be killed!”
After a quick sprint into the domed building, the old man gasps “Do you have it? The pendant from Joshua? If you do not, then all is lost!”
The old man sees the pendant stretching to its limit and grabs at it without permission. He hobbles as fast as he can to the enormous strange machine gyrating in the center of the room, directly under a rapidly-darkening hole in the top of the dome. Mirrors and glass lenses are in motion everywhere, whirring as colors separate into rainbows, strike other mirrors and lenses, and seem to recombine into an even stronger beam of light.
The man lets the pendant go, and it flies through the air to a slot it seems to be designed for. Instantly, the light circuit is complete. The beams shine upward in the now darkened room, and many strange symbols, previously painted on the inside of the dome, are illuminated.
“I am Israfel, the alchemist” the old man wheezes.
“You have fulfilled Joshua’s mission, so I will allow you to bear witness to history. My device will pull from the moon the power that allows it to push and pull entire oceans the world over. I will capture a small part of that energy, and bottle it here in my machine. This is alchemy on a cosmic scale! I take the power above us, separate it from the moon, distill it with the machine, ferment the raw power through the lenses, then calcify it into pure energy in solid form with the unique properties of the pendant!”
“You are truly fortunate to witness this event! You are seeing history being made! This will change the world forever!”
As the madman raves and tweaks his machine, the colored lights flashing and reflecting in his eyes and white beard are disturbing at best. He beckons you to stand behind a wall of stone “to protect you from the distillation process”. You notice the stone wall has a sheet of lead in its center. What was this old coot up to?
Before you can think another thought, the sun dies away completely, and an eerie nighttime breeze blows through the mountains. Suddenly a beam of raw, blinding white energy connects the machine in front of you with the moon directly overhead!
You feel like the entire room is within a tornado of pure lightning. As you lose consciousness, the last thing you see chills you to the very core: huge cracks on the moon! The moon is flying apart and falling out of the sky!
- BLACK -
WAKING UP IN A NEW WORLD
As you regain consciousness, you jolt as you recall the last nightmare image you saw! Surely is was some nightmare as you lost your senses!
Around you is the lab. If the party did not make it to the dome previously, then Izrafel recovered their bodies (with the help of a wheelbarrow). He has the pendant.
“You have been out longer than you realize. Much longer.”
At that the old man laughs, and it is then that you notice that he seems stronger than when you saw him before. He wheezed when merely talking before, now he has a deep loud laugh, with no shortness of breath.
“I know you won’t believe me, but I estimate that you were out for um, oh approximately twenty-five to thirty thousand years.”
“Some sort of strange side effect of the energy that washed over the area and the lead walls of this place. I stepped out from behind the wall to make sure my machine was functioning properly, and ZAP! The wall, and everything behind it was gone! I thought you’d been fried! I was also trapped in some sort of time bubble, and it seems your time bubble was locked within the one I was trapped inside!”
“The time bubble that held me here collapsed about 40 years ago. It was hard to get used to day and night, and weather, all over again!”
“I woke to a hazy day, and realized that there was a shimmering dome of energy overhead. The dome was about 4 miles in diameter, and light shone through constantly: no day or night. For a long time. How long I do not know. I estimate at least four thousand years. I explored my new dome, and experimented with the dome wall. It was a hazy luminescent mist. If I tried to touch it I met resistance that felt like a hard wind. The barrier was impassable. The more force you applied, the more energy you gave it to resist you. No escape. It was only later that I started to notice strange changes in the vegetation here. The food I ate: it tasted better than it ever had before. The water filled me with energy I never had in my previous life, and I noticed my aches and pains slowly fading away! I was not only cured of all the ailments of old age, I seemed to stop aging altogether! After tinkering with the barrier for about fifteen years, I settled down and realized I wasn’t gonna go anywhere for a while. So I made the best of it, alone. I built things, I researched things, I studied.”
“There is much to be said for knowing you will live forever. Well, at least barring accidents! I mean if I fall on a rock and bash my brains out, then I’m still gonna die, but I won’t get sick and old. Ever.”
“The thing to do was to figure out why. It took a long time, but I figured it out. While I was also unconscious, the moon broke up and fell to earth. The devastation was nearly complete. Nearly killed all life on the planet. But the moon-stuff that rained from the sky had odd properties, the same as the pendant you brought to me so long ago… I still wear it, see?”
“The mineral from the moon has penetrated everything, now. It has modified everything. Plants, animals, and peoples are all different now. It is a very different world than the one you were accustomed to. Above all, I must teach you what I have learned about Mana… Oh, that’s what I call this moon-stuff.”
(Over the next few days, you are brought up to speed as to the most readily observable changes to the world)
Get out there and explore! Izrafel the Mad has much knowledge, knowledge that could be leveraged to your advantage if you make him your ally. He is a wizard of unsurpassed skill, and knows much more than he is letting on, of that much you are sure. He has made it plain that he has traveled the world, but the things he has seen are so unbelievable that we would never believe him.
As a partial apology to you, he bequeaths each of you with an item he has fashioned specifically for you. He warns that these items possess a virtue unlike any we’ve ever seen before, and these items will be coveted by many.
With that, he ushers you outside of his dome, mutters something about more research to do, and quietly but firmly shuts his door.