Monday, July 4, 2011
Castle Amber - Alternate Ending - Part 1
I've spent a little time working out that alternate ending to X2. I really didn't like the ending that Moldvay put in there. It felt really rushed. It is a string of 7-8 rooms in a row with powerful creatures to kill, open door see Blue dragon (kill it), open next door find some sharks (kill them), etc... with little excitement, exploration, or thinking for the PC's.
So I'm going to add on a little more CAS flavored action to the adventure. Instead of plopping the PC's directly in front of the tomb of Stephen, I'm plopping them upon the shores of the green malachite salt lake from the "Abominations of Yondo" Story. They will be standing in a desert of ash colored sand with a swollen red sun hanging in the sky. Looking directly ahead across the massive lake they will see a lone building of white stone on the far shore of the lake, with a back drop of hemispherical astroid mountains.
They will have the choice of adventuring to the right side of the map (where they will encounter the inhabitants of the Crumbling Gardens of the Amputee's. I made this up in the spirit of ClarkAshton! Or they can explore to the left side of the map where there is a large forest of Evil Cacti. Either way the PC's choose the trip will be about 20 miles. I would start the PC's at about midday so that they will have to camp near either the Garden or the Forest of Cacti depending on the direction they choose.
The Amputees live in a beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables that stands on the crumbling ruins of a once beautiful palace! They "feed" the plants their own blood, and body parts to enhance their growth. These plants have also adapted to live on the green lake water. Many of the plants should be of the carnivorous variety, the DM should invent all sorts of interesting plants to attack the players with if they explore this area. This ancient palace was once full of treasure so feel free to drop the PC's a couple of interesting items or create a dungeon below the ruin if you think that would be fun.
On the other hand, the Forests of Evil Cacti is full of horrifying Ochre Jelly's, shades, and spectral riders! Come up with any number of horrifying images for the PC's, pop the top off your mind and go for it!!!! If the PC's attempt swimming or flying over the lake there are many evil Cthulthu-like squid creatures there so they better fly high over the lake!!! That would be the most direct method of getting there if they can just fly over the lake but it is several miles across so they better have a long duration spell power...
When the PC's finally reach the Tomb of Stephen, there will be a group of albino mutated beast men [treat as orcs]. I would say there should be 20-50 of them depending on the strength of the party. They are equipped with a combination of crude weapons (but maybe a few have firearms plucked from the dead fingers of victims pulled from more modern worlds) and will attack as a mob. If the PC's kill 50% of them, they will disperse and flee into the desert toward the mountains.
If the PC's defeat the albino beast men, they can move to Part 2 of the Alternate Ending (inside the tomb).
***This is a work of fan fiction for my own Dungeons and Dragons campaign. All use of Clark Ashton Smith's creations are to add flavor to this module which is being posted up here for free with no intent to publish any description or material from any of Smith's work beyond casual references made to "the abominations of Yondo", the "evil cacti", "the green lake", and "the inquisitors of Ong".****
pss... I would strongly suggest reading CAS Abominations of Yondo before running this alternate ending to X2.