May 15, 2015

Inkwell Ideas' Geomorph Contest #3 - Village Shrine

So I had another idea for a geomorph for Inkwell Ideas' Geomorph Contest. I'm a big fan of Stonewerks' village geomorphs, which can be used to make an instant fantasy village (or, with a little work, a modern country village). I thought I'd make a tile in that style as an homage.

This tile represents the Wayfarers' Shrine, an ancient statue on a pedestal in a small pond. Nearby is a chapel with a bell tower, which performs a few large services every year to bless the travelers; pilgrims will be likely in the town, at any time of year.

These structures sit inside of a more ancient stone circle (the kind that dot the English countryside). I imagine they are called, locally, the Strangers -- there are twelve of them surrounding a larger thirteenth. There are undoubtedly a dozen conflicting stories of how they came to be. I can think of four off the top of my head:
  1. A group of travelers came to hear the words of a holy man, but were instead deceived by a fiend, who took their souls. Their bodies turned to stone, the runes they painted on themselves to power their magic still visible as carvings. It is said that strange sounds underground are the cries and groans of the Strangers as they suffer eternal torment. (Plot hook: One day, one of the stones is gone, and footprints lead away -- is a new agent of Fell Powers at large in the countryside? Or did someone come and just carry the stone off?)
  2. An army from Hell came to besiege the people of the town, and the local priest prayed for divine help. A dozen Strangers came to hold them off, but even despite their supernatural ability, they were about to be overcome. Then the purest of the townsfolk called upon the Old Gods to take him/her in sacrifice. A bolt came from the heavens and united the Holy One with the Strangers, beyond whom it turned into a widening circle of fire that obliterated the evil foes. When the villagers could again see, there were the thirteen stones and the enemies were gone. (Plot hook: But now the same enemy threatens the area. Can the players decipher clues hidden in ancient runes on the stones to find a supernatural power that will allow them to once again defeat the forces of Hell?)
  3. There came a time when the townsfolk descended into wickedness and vice. Twelve of them, the most wicked of them all, came together to perform a foul ritual to gain great temporal power. At the ritual's height, the Old Gods transformed the twelve into horrid abominations that consumed or scared off the rest of the townsfolk. The town was deserted, until new settlers came and found the evil ones transformed into giant stones, covered in runes that are said to detail their crimes. None of the current residents are from that time. (Plot hook: But what if some of the old wicked ones are still around, hidden amongst the townsfolk? Can the players stop them before they complete the ritual?)
  4. In ancient times, a local hero conquered vast swaths of the countryside. So great was his ability and his ego, that he even conquered giants from the hills and commanded them to obey. He ordained that a great tower be built, so tall it reached the heavens and he could challenge even the Old Gods. The giants were slow, but not without power of their own. Twelve strange giants came down from the hills bearing twelve great stones with runes of giant power. They followed the conqueror to the spot he designated, then set the stones down around him. All at once, the earth heaved up and entombed him in a needle of rock from which he could not escape. The giants, their task complete, turned and left without a word. (Plot hook: Younger giants seek to reclaim the power that was used to entomb the conqueror. If they are not prevented from removing the stones, will the conqueror be once more revealed? What horrible form will he now take?)

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