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Background Lore

The City of Trupos is experiencing dire times. King Cornelius Trup has been unconscious for weeks now. Jitan, the court wizard and the King’s best friend is desperate. His powers have been enough to keep the king alive, but he knows this is not sustainable. He must find a way to cure the king, and soon.

It all began when King Trup came back from a long jour­ney inside the country. Passing by the deep, dark forest about a day from Trupos, the royal carriage had to stop due to something blocking the road. It was the body of a massive elk. The beast looked weak and wounded, but it was alive. Beside it, a white-haired woman wept loudly. The woman stopped sobbing when she saw the carriage. She stood up and approached the king’s guards.

The frail lady introduced herself as a free spirit of the forest, her name was Esmeralda. She asked for help. She said the elk was her friend, and that she could not bear its loss. The guard’s informed the king, who just gave a glance through the gold-inlaid window of his varnished wood carriage. Jitan, his friend and counselor, recom­mended he should consider helping the woman since she could be protected by the forces of nature and wild magic. The King was in a hurry to arrive home and lie down on his feather-stuffed pillows. Hence, with a swift move of his hand and an unpleasant grimace, he ordered his men to move the animal body aside and continue. The guards did as he asked without question while the woman tried to stop them in vain. Before leaving, Esmeralda cursed the king and yelled at his cold-hearted will. She shouted at the top of her lungs that the spirits of the woods have long memories and hold large grudges.

Jitan could not hold it and he confronted the king when they were in the royal palace. The loyal wizard spoke his mind because he was concerned. But the king’s pride turned into arrogance. King Cornelius wasn’t going to let anybody tell him what to do, he ordered Jitan to leave him alone. The wizard, re­luctantly followed his command, wish­ing the woods witch wasn’t serious with her threat.

The poor wizard couldn’t have been more wrong. The king did not wake up the day after that. His majesty’s bed is now a constant pool of sweat and King Trup’s sleeping screams can be heard hundreds of feet away. He is in a sort of unconscious state. He doesn’t wake up, but he is not asleep or unconscious either. Cornelius scratched his face and ripped his clothes during the night. So the servants had to tie his arms and legs to the bed­posts to prevent him from harming himself any further. Jitan’s magic helps to buy time but the wizard needs some rest too.

After some research, Jitan concludes that the king needs an internal intervention. He pulled one of the ancient mag­ical books from the royal library. Inside, he found a ritual to bring the minds of willing subjects into another’s. He figured this was the right way to help the king. The people used for the ritual must be powerful warriors for the mind of the king could be swamped by indescribable horrors, so the first thought was the most capable men in the city, the royal guard. However, Jitan isn’t completely sure that he has what it takes to pull this off. It could be dangerous for the subjects. He fears for the life of his king and friend, but he cannot risk the lives of innocent guards either, less so the lives of every single royal guard in Trupos. Hence, the royal court orders all city guard commanders to rally their men and find a group of adventurers. Jitan hates himself for doing so, but the severity of the ritual must remain a secret, otherwise nobody would accept the risk. They look in taverns, inns, and brothels until they find a group of re­nowned heroes.

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Area Descriptions

The following descriptions of areas 1 through 8 corre­spond to King Trup’s representation of this mind and thoughts.

Terrain. The mind of the king is a foreign plane in itself. The soil of the mind cave is made out of fine red sand.

Light. Even though there are no sources of light in­side this pocket plane, all areas are bright and clear, as if touched by sunlight.

Smells and Sounds. The whole mental realm doesn’t have an odor. And the only sound that can be heard is a sort of wind gushing around the walls.

Surfing Through the Mind. King Trup’s mind is trapped in the dreamscape. The memories found through the mental maze are representations of the king’s grudges, hobbies, or regrets. Each area contains enemies to be de­feated and there is a riddle to be answered. Only when all enemies are dealt with and the riddle solved, do the flying steps in area 8 appear.

About Direction. The king’s dreamscape is a pocket self-contained dimension with limited existence. There is no north or south. The map depicts compass rose as a reference to avoid confusion. Descriptions below use this point of reference to depict the contents of the areas.

  1. Entrances

The mind of the king is a turmoil of feelings and souve­nirs. Half the heroes arrive from the eastern tunnel, and the rest are brought to the same area floating on the river. The water looks crystal clear and it is warm to the touch. Strangely enough, those who were in the water aren’t wet at all. Going back from either way doesn’t lead anywhere. If the heroes go back from where they came they arrive at the same spot a minute later.

Two irregular stone pillars flank the artificial river, which continues 30 feet below. The waterfall becomes a small pond and continues to the west to area 2. The 30-feet-tall cliff has two sets of carved handles to climb down. Two more pillars flank the pond below.

When the adventurers are halfway down, four dream hunters (shadows) come out of the water. They attempt to attack those who are still climbing down. These creatures are responsible for the king’s screams and his mental suf­fering.

  1. Monuments in Ruins

This large area holds some of the king’s memories. There are several destroyed idols and statues scattered all over the fine sand. The water stream ends here in a large pool of water. The broken sculptures correspond to some of the famous historical monuments in the City of Trupos. One of them is a depiction of King Trup himself. There is a narrow tunnel north of this area, just past King Trup’s shattered statue on the ground.

The middle-section of the pool looks darker than the rest. When the heroes approach the water, two black pud­dings come out and attack them. These are the mental representations of the king’s darkest thoughts.

  1. Lake of Stars

King Trup is an admirer of the stars and constellations of the universe. He spends hours looking through his gold­en telescope. He is no savvy, but he finds immense peace when he watches the bright candles in the sky. This lake represents his love for the stars and their place in the uni­verse.

The water is dark as the night. The ripples and wrinkles in the water have their tides. White stars shine and change places in the shifting water. Any creature that looks direct­ly to the stars in the water must make a successful DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or become charmed as if targeted by a hypnotic pattern spell. The creature stands idle by the lake of stars, watching in awe, in a complete state of stupor.

Once one of the adventurers becomes charmed by the lake, two dream hunters (wraiths) and two shadows come out of the lake and attack any hypnotized creature first.

  1. Destroyed Tower

This tower is part of King Trup’s youth memories. Many years ago, when the king was just a prince, he had a friend in the military named Tyler. He was very skilled and a sword prodigy. The young lad stepped up the ranks and earned the title of Royal Guard. He became friends with the heir to the throne and used to give him fencing lessons. One day the city was attacked by an evil dragon. And even if the defense was successful, Tyler’s squad and his outpost were obliterated. The tower where Tyler kept 5

watch at was destroyed by the dragon’s lethal fire. After the commotion, the prince wanted to know if his friend was safe and sound. When he heard the reports he went to see the tower and the blankets covering several bodies on the ground. He never got to say good-bye.

The tower walls are darkened and they show burn marks all over. The second level of the tower is in similar condi­tions. Several pieces of charred wood and stone litter the ground around the tower. There are two tunnels to the east and south of this area. The ghost of Tyler haunts this tower and it attacks any creature that approaches it. The moment Tyler ghost attacks, two dream hunters (wraiths) materialize beside it and attack as well.

  1. The Contrast of a Heart

There are two large, identical statues of King Trup seating on the royal throne. Two 3-feet-tall pedestals on the floor hold a crystal at the top. The yellow crystal shines with a warming orange light. The blue crystal has a cold sap­phire glow to it. The two statues and their correspondent crystals represent the two sides of the king’s heart. One is its warmth and love to the world and others, it has a soft smile and its face expresses kindness. The other is the complete opposite; an angry look with a twisted mouth pressing its teeth conveys evil. A successful DC 13 Intelli­gence check allows a character to realize the south statue represents good.

Any interaction with the lights or the statues wakes both of them up. The eyes of one of them share the light of the yellow crystal, while the other one features cold blue eyes. The two stone kings (earth elementals) arise and start to fight each other. Without any intervention, the blue-eyed elemental wins. It beheads the yellow-eyed statue with a massive swing of its fist. The yellow crystal stops glowing while the blue one shines brighter. Its victory recovers its vigor and the evil version of the king regains all its Hit Points. It continues its rampage against the heroes.

If the heroes concentrate their fire on the evil elemental specifically, the yellow-eyed elemental turns out victori­ous. The blue crystal stops glowing and the yellow one shines brighter. However, if the adventurers attack both elementals at the same time, they join forces and fight to­gether. Defeating the evil depiction of the king is the first step to solving the dream riddle.

Secret Passage. A passive Perception score of 16 or higher reveals the outline of loose bricks on the west wall. The bricks can be easily removed with a successful DC 12 Strength check.

  1. Hidden Vault

A small portion of the king’s mind is aware of the heroes’ presence. In an effort to save himself, he looks for a way to communicate with the heroes. This room contains two identical sarcophagi. Each of them has a corpse of King Trup. When the adventurers open either of them, the remains of the king inside grab the nearest creature by the clothes and say: “Read the letters, erase my past and cleanse my heart”. After which it falls again, immobile.

Both sarcophagi have an old parchment inside. They are letters. One of the letters describes how the king regrets many of the things he did during his lifetime. The second letter is just ramblings and complaints about how he did not have it easy and blames his misfortune on others. Any creature that takes the papers in their hands knows they must return the letter of complaints into the sarcophagus where it was found and keep the letter of regrets. This is a way to bury all negative thoughts with the king and leave them to die.

  1. Broken Obelisk

This area is the physical representation of the king’s rela­tionship with Jitan, the court wizard. One of the five obe­lisks of the circle is broken. This is because their friend­ship has deteriorated. The king used to listen to the wise words of his wizard friend more often. Since he stopped, fed by his pride and vanity to always be right, he hasn’t taken the best decisions on various occasions.

A successful DC 12 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals this is the circle from which they need to escape. A suc­cessful DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check allows a char­acter to lift the broken obelisk and put it in its place. The stone magically attaches and glues itself to the base. How­ever, even if the circle is restored, it doesn’t work until the king’s mind is freed. To do so, the heroes must visit area 8 and cure his mind with the cleansing stone (area 8).

  1. Flying Steps

A pitch-black abyss dominates this area. In the center, at the edge of the immense cliff, there is a large stone slab with a rune inscribed on it. There is a yellowish platform about a hundred feet from the cliff, floating about 50 feet above ground level. When the heroes ar­rive, a spectral figure materializes on top of the stone slab. A massive elk lying on its side. It appears wound­ed and weak. A woman made of mist stands beside it. She has glowing red eyes, her fingernails are long and sharp, and her robes are torn and filthy. The woman sobs softly but she stops when the heroes approach. She asks them with a firm voice: “What shall you do? Might the brave heroes help a woman in distress and her animal friend? Or perhaps you don’t trust me, and you would just push me aside…”

This is the exact event that brought the king to his cur­rent state. The heroes must use their criterion and de­cide what to do. If they trust the woman and help the elk, Esmeralda’s body comes back to normal and she stops looking like an evil spirit. She thanks the adventurers and says: “This fool of a king might learn a thing or two 6

from you, go ahead, heal the bastard.” And she points at the steps that start floating towards the cleansing stone above the abyss.

However, if the adventurers are hesitant to help her or decide not to, Esmeralda (night hag) becomes hostile. Two dream hunters (wraiths) ascend from the dark pit and help the witch. She yells: “You lot are just alike! Why do I even bother?? I’d rather just kill your right here and now! I’ll take care of your minds later.” When the hag is defeated, a set of floating steps that goes up to the cleans­ing stone appears.

Either way the adventurers choose to deal with this problem takes them to the large platform. There, King Trup’s letter of regrets shines bright and burns, though the flames don’t hurt. The cleansing stone helps the king attune for his sins and releases him from the curse.

Reaching the Platform. If the adventurers reach the platform by any other means besides the floating steps, the cleansing energy doesn’t burn the letter of regrets. The only way to heal the king’s mind is by dealing with the spirit witch.

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