Cathedris Themesong

Of Iron and Bone; An Araea One-shot

Intended Duration
4 to 6 hours (1-2 sessions)
Recommended Players
3 to 6
Suggested Systems
Pathfinder 1e/DnD 5e
Character Level
Level 5-8


A mythic beast, potential for wealth and adventure, what's not to love?
What's that? High likelyhood of death? Not a problem. Anyone that ventures into the Far Deep thrives under these conditions.
— An energetic Kaia

  Welcome to the Araea (world by Qurilion) one-shot adventure written by Stormbril! This is part of a world-exchange started in 2020 by Krostatina, where we write short stories or adventures in eachothers worlds. This is going to be a one-shot designed for 3-6 players, where they will delve deep into Araea, where a potential mythic haul of incredible bones, chitin, or other monster parts await them at the end of a perilous journey.   This one-shot will be designed with teamwork in mind. Players will need to pick classes, or Kaia, to best create a party that is ready to handle the deep. It's intended to be replayable, and difficulty can be adjusted by limiting character choices to a certain few types of Kaia.   A prior knowledge of Araea is recommended, but if not, there will be links to Araea articles throughout this one-shot that you may read along the way!
 

Story Setting


This is all they found of her... just her hand, clenched tightly around this blood soaked note. Near the hand were some bone fragments unlike any we've ever seen, and of the most incredible composition and quality. Most of it was impossible to read... but we were able to make out three words:
"...deep...
...magnificient...
...dead?..."
Current theory is there's a leviathan beast clawing its way out of the Far Deep. Kaia teams are gathering as we speak, in a rush to be the first to kill it and claim its corpse as their prize. Better hurry if you want in on the best bone haul Dhanû has seen in years.
— Dhanû news-runner.
  The players are a team of Kaia -- this team works together to explore into the deep caves of Araea, slaying beasts and bringing back bounties of meat and bone. They work out of Dhanû, a great city-state within the Inner Shell. The city-state, and the party of players, have a close relationship with Izhaso, The Forge of Bones -- they are currently on the lookout for new hunts to supply their forge partners with bone, chitin, and whatever else is needed.
   

Location Introductions

The Inner Shell

This adventure takes place in the Inner Shell of Araea, a region of caverns that are many miles deep below the surface. It is the most populated section of Araea, where the people make their homes within a labyrinthian collection of giant caves, twisting tunnels, underground oceans and rivers of lava. The tunnels increase in size and complexity as you venture downward into the Far Deep.  

The Far Deep

This is the end goal of the adventure, the place the party is attempting to reach to find the mythical beast that the runner brought news of. The caverns become even larger and more alien, just as the creatures down here do as well.
 

Character Introductions

Goðachi Yosson

Goðachi is a wealthy merchant within Dhanû, with ties to many powerful people all across the city-state, including Izhaso. Should the party be willing to barter some of their future spoils with him, they might be able to gain some useful supplies to help on their journey. However, if Goðachi is pushed too far, they risk angering him and sending those potential resources to rival Kaia teams.
 

Character Creation


What's your specialty, and how is it going to keep the rest of us alive?
— A seasoned Kaia-Heoa
  Character creation should be planned out ahead of time. Characters can be planned out individually, so that the resulting party of Kaias is randomized and not minmaxed (perhaps resulting in having three Kaia-Heoa and one Kaia-Tani, thus raising the difficulty), or created as a group to ensure coverage of all types of Kaia.   Work together with the GM to adapt your chosen classes skills to the Kaia of your choice. Each Kaia will also have their own starting equipment.
 
Kaia-Tene Equipment
Weapon
  • Bone Pike, 1d8 damage, x2 critical
  • Special Equipment
  • Three Ahi-bugs trapped in a jar, tied to a stick.
  • Standard Carry
  • A bundle of 12 fungal glow sticks.
  • One bag of dark powder.

  •  
    Kaia-Ahere Equipment
    Weapon
  • leather-wrapped bone quarterstaff, 1d6 damage, x2 critical
  • Special Equipment
  • A roll of blank parchment, and one incomplete map of the intended journey.
  • Standard Carry
  • A jar of glow-paste.
  • Mark-making tools, and a 50' coil of rope.

  •  
    Kaia-Tani Equipment
    Weapon
  • Sharpened chitin machete, 1d6 damage, 19-20/x2 critical range
  • Special Equipment
  • One Duǎn-Kah Fungi-Eel.
  • Standard Carry
  • An old, hand-me-down beastiary of the deep.
  • A jar of old, fetid fish.

  •  
    Kaia-Heoa Equipment
    Weapon
  • Spiked Mace, 1d8, x3 critical
  • Special Equipment
  • Fearsome Chitin Mask.
  • Standard Carry
  • Weapon honing equipment.
  • A worn bone crossbow with 100 iron-tipped quarrels.

  •  
    Kaia-Gai Equipment
    Weapon
  • fang-tipped bone-spear, 1d6, x2 critical
  • Special Equipment
  • A copy of the Mycolictionary.
  • Standard Carry
  • Fire making equipment.
  • Spices, cooking equipment, and the Araea Cookbook.

  •  
    Kaia-Kaora Equipment
    Weapon
  • Short Zaveru Ice dagger, 1d6 + 1d6 cold, x2 critical
  • Special Equipment
  • A short Zaveru Ice dagger.
  • Standard Carry
  • Sutures, bandages and pain killers.
  • Five empty jars.

  •  
    Every single character will also start with enough food and water for 10 days travel. They can try to barter for more, but they will need to figure out how to pack that much food down with them. On the other hand, they can forage for food, or eat what they kill in the caves.

    Act 0: Getting to know the Quest and the Party


      During this time, a runner emerges from one of the caverns that leads to The Far Deep. She appears breathless, and covered in blood -- not a strange occurance in Araea, but the news she brings catches the attention of all within ear-shot. She brings evidence of a possible monstrous creature often thought to be mere myth, and with this spark, a frenzy of preparation begins. Kaia from all across Dhanû begin to gather and deliberate, deciding whether or not the risk of death in The Deep outweighs the chance to slay something that most have only heard tales of.   The party will need to go through three stages to complete the story. First, they must assemble their team of Kaia. This portion will include roleplaying, character interactions, introductions, persuation and planning. The party can try to win over a wealthy clan member to invest in the party with equipment and tools -- this will likely include promising some portion of the beast to them, or some very good persuation. After that, they may plan their route. There are three potential options for them to make their way into the Far Deep:

     
    1. They may take the path that the news-runner came out of. The Runner is bloodied and very hurt, but said they attempted this dangerous path to get back to Dhanû as fast as possible. Rival Kaia teams might be found on this route.
    2. If they manage to persuade a wealthy investor, they might discover a secondary, hidden route that not many others know of. This path might be full of mysterious beasts, and could be either faster or slower than other.
    3. If all else fails, they can take a boat from Lake Hoshãn, and travel down the long snaking river that leads from it to the Abyss. Water flows down-hill, and there's more than one theory that the river splits off and feeds into the Far Deep.

    Kaia Choices

    Kaia are the explorers of Araea. They see sights, map the depths, slay beasts and harvest materials. They are among the bravest humans Araea has to offer.   This oneshot is intended to be as system agnostic as possible. As such, it is recommended that you take existing classes from your system of choice, and apply them to the different Kaia roles as you see fit.

    Kaia-Tene

    Experts of light, and guides in the darkness. Before an expedition, they plot out what light-making or light-blocking materials they might need to bring for the journey.  
    Class Suggestions
    Rogue, Bard

    Kaia-Ahere

    Map makers, scholars, those with a keen sense of direction. Without a Kaia-Ahere, you might find your way down into the caves, but it's unlikely you will find your way back.  
    Class Suggestions
    Ranger, Investigator

    Kaia-Tani

    Trackers and knowers of beasts; they know whether or not you should run, fight, or hide from monsters you'll find in the caves.  
    Class Suggestions
    Rogue, Ranger

    Kaia-Heoa

    Tacticians, masters of the battlefield. Skilled in battle, stealth, and camouflage. Likely works best hand in hand with a Kaia-Tani to decide whether or not to fight.  
    Class Suggestions
    Fighter, Rogue, Ranger

    Kaia-Gai

    Skilled in the art of negotiation, food production foraging, and managing team inventory. Without them, it's possible you might run out of food, a death sentance in the deep.  
    Class Suggestions
    Monk, Druid

    Kaia-Kaora

    Often times acting as the only line between life and death for the party as a healer, but also knowlegable in what parts of monsters are useable. Works well with Kaia-Gai in dissecting critters.  
    Class Suggestions
    Cleric, Druid

    While all Kaia are expected to be self-sufficient enough and survive the loss of any one or two team members, successful teams can often work in complete silence and be confident in each team members ability in their role.
    — Qurilion
    Kaia - The Explorers of the Deep
    Profession | Apr 29, 2019

    Explorers and adventurers, the title of Kaia goes to those that seeks the path and find things in the darkness.





    FROM THIS POINT ONWARD, ONLY THE GM RUNNING THIS ONESHOT SHOULD READ





    Act 1: Meeting wealthy investors, choosing a path, expedition preparation

     
    Izhaso calls for bones, and that means one thing to me -- an opportunity for wealth. I can help prepare your expedition, for a price, of course.
    — Goðachi Yosson, wealthy Dhanû merchant
      Once the party has been introduced to eachother, the setting, and the main goal of descending into the Far Deep, negotiations may begin. This one-shot may be played a starting-off point for future monster-hunting campaigns set within Araea, which would help character motivation of wanting to keep all the bones and wealth to themselves. However, the journey is incredibly difficult and they are likely going to want help. Goðachi Yosson approaches the party after they have finished hearing the news and talking amongst themselves, and offers his services and wealth to them, at a price of a 60% cut of any spoils from the expedition.   At a base level, Goðachi offers +30% more starting equipment to every character -- more quarrels, more rope, more light sources, etc. However, he can offer more to the players, should they choose to persuade, intimidate, or barter more of their potential wealth to him. They can also attempt to lower his cut, though this will increase the DC's for any persuation or intimidation they attempt. If they fail 5 diplomacy checks, or 3 intimidation checks, Goðachi will grow frustrated and tired, and leave in a huff.   Example DCs will be given, but feel free to adapt to better suit the characters or the system.
     
    Cut of wealth 30% 45% 60% 75% 90%
    Modifier to intimidate or diplomacy DC +5 +2 0 -2 -5
     

    Supplies

    Bonus to supplies (on top of base 30%) Diplomacy/Intimidate DC
    10% 12/14
    20% 14/16
    30% 16/18

    Maps

    Journey advice or Map Diplomacy or Intimidate DC
    Advice 12/14
    Map 1 14/16
    Map 2 16/18

    Weapons

    Better weapon or weapons Diplomacy or Intimidate DC
    +1 to 1 weapon 12/14
    +1 to 2 weapons 14/16
    +1 to 3 weapons 16/18

      With the diplomacy and packing out of the way, the party should have had plenty of chances for roleplaying and decision making. They should now know what path they want to take, what supplies they are bringing, and what roles each character will be fulfilling. The next steps on this adventure will depend on what path they are taking.

     

    Act 2: The Journey Down

       
      On their way out of Dhanû, they may or may not run into a random citizen or two that have something to say about the path the party intends to take. This can be random, idle chatter, or warnings about dangers they may face. Each section here will have an example quote as well.   Every path taken will by a hybrid of full-control gameplay (Your standard ttrpg, take turns moving and interacting, combat, etc.) and more removed, daily-plan style gameplay, where the party will make decisions about what they choose to do for the day, what directions they will follow, and how to manage their dwindling supplies.


    69e2e6d7ceb51f2496fbf313f630270c (1).jpg

    by Piotr Dura

     

    The Way of the News Runner

    You... saw how injured the news runner was, didn't you? Well, good luck! I think you'll need it.
    — Random Dhanû citizen

     

    Path Overview

    Duration
  • 8 in-world days
  • Difficulty
  • High difficulty, coming from deadly monsters and possible rivals
  • Minimum Encounters Amount
  • 3 encounters, 2 with a single beast, 1 with multiple
  • Foragability
  • Medium -- mushrooms can be found, and some small edible critters may be trapped and eaten. Monsters may or may not be edible.
  • This path leads straight back into the cave that the news runner came from -- it left her battered, bruised, bloody and barely conscious. This tells us two things -- one, it's likely the fastest way down, because it was chosen by someone who needed to travel as fast as possible, and two, it's dangerous.   For visuals, this is most likely the standard kind of cave you would imagine yourself finding within Araea. The cave will be taking place in the Sheoin region. It's cold and hard -- the caves can vary as well. This particular cave path starts narrow and winding, before opening up into huge caves with jagged pits, one of which will need to be climbed down.

     

    How to Run This Path

    Special Equipment Usefulness:
  • Ahi-bugs lantern stick: This path is very dark, so this is very useful
  • One incomplete map of the journey: Will need to be carefully studied more than once, otherwise more days will be added to the journey
  • Fungi-Eel: Good way to pack things in for the first half of the journey, but will likely need to be abandoned once they descend through the jagged pits near the end of the cave
  • Fearsome Chitin Mask: Good to intimidate other Kaias, either to avoid conflict, or convince them to give you what you want.
  • Mycolictionary: Will allow the party to forage mushrooms to consume, and hopefully not die of poison.
  • Day 1
    Cave Entrance
    The first day should be experienced in full control as a walk through a cave. The cave should be representative of what they will find farther down the path as well -- have it start narrow, so that they can only fit through single file, and over time open up into something larger, and very dark. There might be some mushrooms for them to forage as well, if they're able to spread light and find their way in the darkness, though any mushrooms found may or may not be poisonous. If the players are particularly attentive, they can notice the news runner's blood trail leading from a tributary cave. Following this will save them 1 day off their journey.   There is a 50% chance that they might have an enounter right away here, in which case roll a D8 on the encounters table.  
    Day 2-5
    Depletion of reserves
    These days should be handled more removed from the action. The caves they are in now are much more wide open, and mostly very dark. Some glowing fungi can be found, but never enough to light their way. Additionally, the caves are beginning to split-off with more frequency, and the trail left by the news runner has vanished. On each day, if there is a Kaia-Ahere, they will need to consult their map to make sure they're going the right way. If there is no Kaia-Ahere, or they fail to properly pay attention (can be done as a roll, or some other method), 1 day will be added to their journey.   On day 4 or 5, they might meet a rival Kaia team taking a similar path as them. The rival team can be made up of 3-4 Kaia, and will start out as wary of the players team. The rival team can be talked to and traded with, and possibly convinced to help out -- though this can go bad, and result in combat.  
    You know, I don't really like the way you're looking at our packs and bags. And I have to say, that's one really nice looking dagger/mask/Fungi-Eel you've got there...
    — Disgruntled Rival Kaia-Kaora
     
    Day 6
    The pit
    On day 6, the party reaches a massive cavern. Huge stalactites hang down from overhead, sparkled with glowing fungi, far out of reach. The edges of the cavern are so far away that they are lost in the darkness, and the ground around them is pockmarked by large jagged pits that descend down into the deep. The party knows that they must descend one of them -- the right one is either the deepest, or the coldest, and can be determined in whatever way seems most appropriate. While they are determining what path to take, a surprise encounter will be sprung upon them, forcing them to fight along side jagged pits in near darkness.   Roll once on the encounters table (D8), or twice for added difficulty. Some monsters here may be drawn in by the scent of food, and may go after the party's food supplies first and foremost, making the remainder of their journey harder.   After (or during) the encounter, the climb down may occur. This will require skill checks from everyone as they attempt to descend -- any rope brought will be very helpful, though it will need to be used smartly, as there is only so much rope and the pit is very deep. Glow sticks can be thrown to ledges to better illuminate them for ease of climbing. The bottom of the pit marks the end of the day.  
    Day 7-8
    Weird caves begin
    Both of these days should be played out in full control, and both days will have an encounter with strange fungal beasts drawn in by the scent of newcomers, and possibly their food. If the party lost some of their supplies on the descent, they will absolutely need to forage here -- the Kaia-Gai will need to make sure anything found is safe to consume. They may also take time to have a Kaia-Kaora, if one is there, patch up their wounds.   As they explore deeper, the temperature gets colder and colder. These caves are massive and have far more fungal growths than seen before. Some of them ripple and pulse lights along them, illuminating much of the path -- though light sources are still going to be useful. This portion of the journey is not meant to be the hardest part, as it's right before the boss fight, but it should still keep the party on their toes. At some point during each day, roll once on the encounters table.   At the end of day 8, should they make it, they find a massive cave opening -- beyond the opening, the floor slopes downward, gently at first, but steeper as it goes. The air coming from within the cave seems to chitter, and it feels warm and cloying. They know this is the route to go, and this leads them to The Final Boss.

    Quick Info

  • Back to Act 2 intro

  • Encounters

    1

    A ravenous Fungi-Eel, escaped from some ramshackle breeding operation, has escaped and is drawn in by the scent of food. It wants nothing more than to eat, and it does not want to let anyone stop it.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Death Worm

    2

    Somehow a few Quar Newts from the Outer Shell managed to find they way down here. They've been taken over by Blossoms -- now they are twisted, living ice versions of reptiles. They seek heat sources in an attempt to extinguish them. This group of monsters is somwhere between 4-6 creatures.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Glacier Toad

    3

    The party walks along near the walls of the current cave they are in. Unbeknownst to them, there's a small crack that is flooded with water, and contains a monstrous occupant -- a Tyrant Leech. It will attempt to ambush the party as they pass -- not going for the first individual to pass, but aiming for someone near the end of the line.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Lurker Above

    4

    A lone Kaia-Heoa, gone mad in the darkness. He's been down here for so long that he doesn't remember where he's from, or what human contact means, beyond the chance at a meal. He speaks in unintelligable noises, and will try to tail the party from the shadows. He likes to attack in ambushes, either separating one member from the party, or trapping them. He likes to push people down pits.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Play it as a stronger version of PC-like characters

    5

    Some thing that has escaped from the Far Deep. Its skin ripples constantly with parasites skittering about just below its flesh, and it moves too fast for something with limbs so long. It does not fear the party, but it does fear light. It will be waiting in the open -- but once the party's radius of light reaches it, it will attack in an attempt to block out the light.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Destrachan

    6

    A 2d6 swarm of Shroom Crawlers, each one carrying acid-spore shrooms. The closer the party gets to any individual shroom crawler, the more their skin begins to burn, bubble, and melt. Each individual shroom crawler is slow and can be handled at a distance, but the swarm seems to just keep seeping out of cracks in the wall. Escape is suggested, or ranged combat.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Fungal Crawler

    7

    DOUBLE TROUBLE! Roll twice more, and combine both results. Should you get a 7 or 8 on these rolls, skip and reroll that result instead.
    -

    8

    Ramaður-shi, the Iron Hag, smiles upon the Kaia team. No monster is found this time.
    -


    Sheoin_1
    by De Gerardo
     

    The Ice Cave

    If you're heading through the Lost Lands, you better be dressing warm. Temperatures have dropped more than usual lately, and something has got the Blossoms acting strange -- they're multiplying wildly, and spreading.
    — Random Dhanû citizen

     

    Path Overview

    Duration
  • 5-12 in-world days (Possibility of shortcuts, or cave-ins locking them in place for a while)
  • Difficulty
  • Medium or high difficulty. More skill checks and inventory checks to survive the ice
  • Minimum Encounters Amount
  • 2 encounters with a possible mini-boss
  • Foragability
  • Low. There's not much edible here, and anything that is edible is likely frozen beyond all hope of consumption. The party will need to bring supplies.
  • If the party gets access to at least one of the two maps that Goðachi has, they'll learn of a way into the Far Deep that leads through a series of treacherous, but less inhabited and less travelled, ice caves. These caves are entirely frosted over, with strange spiraling ice growing in mass quantities.   In some areas of these frozen caves, strange light glows and reflects across countless icey walls, making for a mirror-like maze that will confound and trap all those who are ill prepared. Additionally, it's not uncommon for portions of the cave, weighed down by the huge amounts of ice crystals that have grown on it, to collapse -- trapping any would-be explorer in the all too frequent dead ends of this frozen hellscape.

    How to Run This Path

    Special Equipment Usefulness:
  • Ahi-bugs lantern stick: The light cast may help or hinder, depending on the ice around them. The bugs may be eaten, which helps with the low foragability of this path.
  • One incomplete map of the journey: The map may be checked in conjunction with Goðachi's map to ensure a better chance of finding the shortcut.
  • Fungi-Eel: Good for eating, but may struggle on the ice.
  • Fearsome Chitin Mask: Intimidation will not be as useful on Blossoms, or other frozen ice-beasts.
  • Mycolictionary: Rare sanctuaries of plants or fungi might be found -- should the party be so lucky, this will be useful in letting them know if they can eat them.
  • Day 1
    Hope you dressed warm
    The first day should be played in full control of characters. The players will be introduced to the icey expanse by having them attempt to pathfind their way across a frozen, broken expanse within a large cave. It's reflective, but not overly, so a single light source will do well to light the entire area. Instead, the difficulty is going to come from studying the ice and picking the right way to head deeper into the cave.   This portion of the cave will also have portions of extreme cold -- these areas barely stand out from the standing environment, but radiate an intense cold in a 30' radius. For every 5' deep someone goes into this radius, they take 1d6 of cold damage..   At the end of the first day, they will find that they are hungrier than expected -- the cold is exhausting them faster than usual, and thus they are consuming their supplies faster as well. If they packed for 10 days, the food will run out after 5.  
    Day 2
    Blossom Attack
    The second day should start very similar to the first, with them attempting to traverse the difficult terrain. However, soon the party will start to notice that there are far more areas of extreme cold, and in some cases these areas appear to be moving. A Kaia-Tani with a beastiary, or a Kaia-Heoa who is well studied, can now recognize them as Blossoms. In previous caves the Blossoms appeared to be beneath the ice and snow, but as the party delves deeper, they're finding them on the surface of the cave, moving around.   For now the Blossoms appear to be paying no attention to the party, but their large numbers present a problem for the party regardless. Additionally, deep crevaces are beginning to become more frequent in the icey cave floor -- sometimes covered by powder snow, and only barely noticeable, these natural traps spell death.   If all seems to be going too well for our party, roll for an encounter on the encounter table to shake things up.  
    Day 3-4
    Enter the Mirror-ice cave
    Days 3 and 4 are played as a more removed, planning style. The party has entered the section of caves where a single source of light reflects nearly endlessly across the countless mirror-like ice walls, making navigation incredibly difficult. The party will have to choose how they want to continue, and come up with a strategy for navigating the caves without blinding and confusing themselves with too much reflected light. Most plans will come with trade-offs: extinguishing lights will mean a higher liklihood of falling into crevasses, keeping the lights going might confuse them and add days to their journey. Particularly resourceful Kaia teams will use everything at their disposal to make it through.   At the end of this section, there is the opportunity to find the shortcut to cut the Ice Caves journey in half. This can be played either in-character, or more removed. Either way, to even have a chance of finding the shortcut, the party needs one or both of: Goðachi's 2nd map, or the Kaia-Ahere's incomplete map. Should they have both, it is a sure thing that they find the shortcut -- having only Goðachi's map, it's a 75% chance, and only having the Kaia-Ahere's map is a 25% chance. The shortcut is a small side-cave that is covered up by a thin sheet of ice. To the untrained eye, this just looks like yet more confusing reflective ice that makes this region so hard to traverse. However, for those that know where to look thanks to maps, they can tell that it is actually a cave -- one that they can easily break the ice to access.   Taking this cave gives them access to THE SHORTCUT, which features a mini-boss before leading down into the Far Deep, where they can then fight the final boss. If the party did not find the shortcut, skip the spoiler, and move on to Day 5.
      THE SHORTCUT
    The shortcut itself takes about a day to travel. This cave is surprisingly nice to traverse, compared to the difficult area the Kaia team just exited. The ground is solid packed snow beneath their feet, and the walls are ice, but worn and scratched. The farther through the tunnel they go, the more they begin to see strange signs of life, however. There are scratches, deep gouges, and monstrous prints along the cave that begin to appear in higher frequency.   Eventually the cave they are travelling opens up to a wider area, and the thing leaving all the marks and evidence behind is revealed. Somehow, a Zaveru, a spirit of ice and snow that is native to the surface of Araea, has been trapped deep beneath the surface in this cave. Its strange icey skin is being obscured by numerous Blossoms that have appeared to attach themselves symbiotically to the spirit beast. When the Kaia team first sees this monstrosity, it is simultaneously crushing and freezing a lone Kaia to death, smothering the warmth from their body. It turns, and notices the heat radiating from the players own characters, and attacks.   This mini-boss fight can be played as a modified Ice Elemental -- likely a slightly nerfed Greater Ice Elemental, to better suit the party of level 5's. To fit in with how the Blossoms acted earlier in the ice caves, it should have an AoE ice aura that damages people when they get close -- 1d6 within 5' seems reasonable for a mini-boss fight.
     

     
    Day 5
    Twisted, frozen beasts
    If the party missed the shortcut, things can start to go very bad very fast. On the bright side, they've made it out of ice-mirror-hell, and the ground has become more solid, so there's no chance of falling down a crevass to their death anymore. On the other hand, the Blossoms seem more active here, and appear to have found hosts that are likely to attack the team of Kaia trying to make their way.   At some point early on in day 5, roll an encounter from the encounters list on the side.   Additionally, things only get worse, as the maps appear to be useless to the team now.  
    Day 6
    Choices
    After a day of travelling and fighting off frozen beasts, the team comes to a crossroads of 5 caves, the one the team enters from, and 4 choices to leave from, intersecting in a haphazard manner. The ice seems weak in this section, as vibrations from footsteps cause large icicles to break off from the ceiling above, crashing to the ground and nearly hitting some Kaia.   The instability of this particular cave means that the party will need to decide quickly as to which route they should take. On the GM's side, the caves can either be randomly distributed, or hints can be given to help the team choose the least deadly method out of this section. The four cave options are as follows:
  • Cave 1: The encounter cave. Once the party enters, roll an encounter. After they clear that encounter, the cave continues as normal. They will reach the Far Deep in 2 days time, as long as they have enough food supplies.
  • Cave 2: Oh no, collapse! As soon as they enter the cave, they hear a great crashing sound as much of the roof caves in around and behind them, trapping them within the cave. They will need to figure out how to survive for 4 days in here as they work to tunnel themselves out. Certain supplies they have may or may not speed this process up, to a maximum speed of 2 days. Once they exit, they will find all caves blocked except for one other -- cave 3.
  • Cave 3: The okay one. There is no danger here, no cave in, and no encounters. This cave will take them 3 days to walk down, consuming food and supplies the whole time, until they reach the Far Deep.
  • Cave 4: The long walk. This cave is similar to cave 3, but takes twice as long to traverse, for a total of 6 days. The party does not know if it's the right direction or not, so at any point they can choose to head back to the crossroads and attempt another path, however should they continue along this one for long enough, they will eventually reach the Far Deep.
  • At the end of whatever cave they take, they can enter the final cave where all 3 paths of this One-Shot meet, and can fight The Final Boss.

    Quick Info

  • Back to Act 2 intro

  • Encounters

    1

    A single Blossom on a mission. It appears to be seeking out any warm, autonomous body, to attach itself to and freeze. It causes cold damage within a 30' radius just like the other Blossoms seen before, but this one will not stop until it has attached itself to a host.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Anything, just give it roughly 30hp, with a movement speed of 20'.

    2

    A blossom Trio. Exactly like a single Blossom on a mission, but this time the Kaia team has the unfortune to deal with three of them at once. Should you as the GM think this is too difficult, reduce their cold AoE to 15' instead. The blossoms may target the same person, or have individual targets per blossom.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Anything, just give it roughly 30hp, with a movement speed of 20'.

    3

    A half starved hunting pack (1d4+2) of Suryō, nearly driven to frenzy by the lack of food within these icey caves. These beasts are strong, vicious, armored spiders about half the size of a human. They usually have one Suryō attack first by puncing, while others swarm in to deliver venom. This pack may or may not follow that, as the hunger has driven them more wild than usual. As such, they will each start with 50% HP, and be slightly easier to kill.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    A nerfed Giant Tarantula without the barbed hairs, and reskinned to be armored.

    4

    A half frozen Khtam that has been mindlessly feeding on Blossoms. These huge 6 legged crustacean beasts are often used as pack animals, but have a habit of eating anything infront of them. This one appears to have escaped, and has begun to feed on the cold-corrupting Blossoms of this area. This has twisted its mind and converted its body, and now it seeks to consume the Kaia team as well.   If the party is lucky, after slaying the beast they might find some leftover supplies from the poor Khtam's previous owners. Food, rope, and other various things might be found.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    A buffed (raise HP and AC, maybe give more attacks) Rock Crab, reskinned to be ice, with a cold aura effect

    5

    Frozen Feathered-Bats from above, 1d4 of them swooping down. These rat-sized creatures normally are found within larger cavernous spaces, but have found themselves entrapped by the slow spreading cold brought on by the Blossoms. This group of bats have all been taken over by Blossoms as well, and they swoop down to try to attach themselves to the Kaia below.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Dire Bats, but with ice/cold powers or AoE effects

    6

    Ramaður-shi, the Iron Hag, smiles upon the Kaia team. No monster is found this time.
    -
     
    Sheoin_7
    by Przemyslaw Krystaszek

     

    Abyss_1

    by Victor Hugo Harmatiuk

     

    Journey Down the River

    Taking the river, are ya? You bringing a Duǎn-Kah with you? If so, good luck. I hope it doesn't eat you. I also hope you don't have to eat it.. Nasty things, those eels.
    — Random Dhanû citizen

     

    Path Overview

    Duration
  • 9+ in-world days (depending on when the boat breaks down)
  • Difficulty
  • Medium difficulty. Without a properly prepared party of certain Kaia, the boat likely won't survive long, resulting in a trek along side the water fending off monsters constantly.
  • Minimum Encounters Amount
  • 2 encounters, with more per day if they need to walk.
  • Foragability
  • High, there is plenty that grows along side the water.
  • The most simple route to take down to the Far Deep available to the team of Kaia, but one that comes with its own set of difficulties. By the time the team is ready to head out, there is only one boat left -- it is in disrepair, and it likely won't make it through to the end of the journey. A significant amount of rope, resourceful useage of crossbow quarrels, or other inventive ideas will need to come into play to keep the boat alive for as long as possible.   That's just to keep the journey going. The waters travelled have their own fair share of monsters and beasts that lurk below the surface. While travelling on boat, they might be able to move fast enough to avoid most, but should they resort to walking along the waters edge, they will need to fend off monsters on an almost daily basis.

    The river path weaves and winds its way in and out of large and narrow caverns, with strange lights reflecting off the surface and creating dancing patterns on the stonework far above. The water is filled with waste and offal, and while drinkable, is no where near healthy. Skimmers, man-sized bugs with long spindly legs, dance across the waters surface, ignoring the team. Along the way the river may open up into larger bodies of near still water, with the surface broken by aquatic mushrooms growing out of the deep parts of the river.  
    The empty calm of the surface of the water always puts the fear of death in me. There's just no way to know what is lurking down there -- especially when the water is as murky as it is now. Eels, jellies, devil-shrimp... maybe something even worse might decide we look tasty, and then that's it.
    — Worrying Advice

     

    How to Run This Path

    Special Equipment Usefulness:
  • Ahi-bugs lantern stick: Will provide light on the boat, but may also draw the attention of things below the surface. Might be better used as food stocks.
  • One incomplete map of the journey: This map will be helpful in avoiding areas with rocks below the surface that might damage the boat. Bringing a map means the boat will last longer.
  • Fungi-Eel: Can tow the boat for a majority of the journey, shaving a day or two off the trip. However, it might draw in a larger predator.
  • Fearsome Chitin Mask: Can keep some of the smaller, curious predators drawn to the boat, away.
  • Mycolictionary: Plenty of mushrooms along the river, and plenty of them are poisonous.
  • Days 2+ (Depending on when the boat breaks)
    Special Boat Rules
    The initial portion of this journey is going to reside on a boat. The boat is in incredibly poor shape -- describe portions of it as wobbly, rotten, falling apart, with many places where water is seeping into the interior. It's also the Kaia team's only option to take down the river.   At the start of the journey, the party must take a look at what supplies they have, the condition of the boat, and then come up with ideas to lengthen the life of their boat. This can be done with rope, with fasteners, inventive use of paste or animal hide/bone/chitin, anything.   The boat itself has an initial life span of 2 days. It is up to you as a GM to decide how much more life the boat is given through the actions of the players -- for example, taking rope and tightly wrapping portions of the boat that look wobbly might give another 2 days of life to it. Once everyone has come to an agreement of how to treat the boat, it's time to start the river journey. This will happen mostly as the GM lets the players know how the day went, whether or not the boat survived, and if the team was attacked or not.
      Boat duration table
    Day the boat broke: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
    How many days it takes to walk the rest: 15 days 13 days 11 days 9 days 7 days 5 days 3 days 1 day
      Encounter Likelihood Table
    Attack likelihood modifier: Fungi-Eel Light Sources Any recent open wounds If the jar of fetid fish is opened Walking along the shore
    Bonus likelihood of being attacked: +10% +5% +10% +25% +50%
    On each day for the entire journey, roll a % dice to determine if they are attacked or not. If no attack happens, the day passes normally (unless the boat breaks or some other event occurs) -- food is consumed, and they continue down the river. If the party begins to run low on food, or runs out, they can intentionally increase the likelihood of being attacked in order to bait some monsters in that they may then eat (As long as the Kaia-Gai and the Kaia-Tani agree that it is edible).   As you can tell from looking at the table, the chances of being attacked increase as soon as the boat breaks. Every time an encounter occurs, roll on the encounter table to determine what attacks the team.  
    Days ?-15 (Depending on when they start walking)
    Once the Kaia team has the misfortune of having their boat break, and likely sink, they must now walk the rest of the way. If they managed to make it 7 or 8 days on the boat, then the final days can be played out in full control walking across a few cave maps. The water lapping against the slimey shore builds a great ambiance, as they wind they way down into the Far Deep. As long as they are beside the water, roll a % dice every day to determine if an encounter occurs.   At the end of the journey (Maximum 15 days, minum 9 days), they find that the river they were following reaches a waterfall cascading into the deep. There is a very precarious path down into the darkness beside waterfall -- it's not well travelled, but there are footholds that have seen some amount of use, and thus the Kaia team can trust it. All the same, it is slick with moisture from the nearby cascading water, and thus care (and skill checks) must occur to make it to the bottom safely.   At the bottom, they can enter the final cave where all 3 paths of this One-Shot meet, and can fight The Final Boss.  

    Quick Info

  • Back to Act 2 intro

  • Encounters

    1

    Jelly Swarm, in and out of water. Seemingly out of nowhere, these jellies begin to appear -- each one about half the size of a human. They float with terrifying grace in both air and water, and their long hanging tentacles reach ominously for anything that moves. Each individual jelly has low amounts of HP, but taking them all on as a group proves to be challenging.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    2D6 Death's Head Jellyfish, or 1D6+2 Stun Jellies

    2

    A Tyrant Leech that attaches ambushes from the water. If the team is still on a boat, it might attach itself to the underside of their boat, laying in wait for an opportune moment to strike. If they're walking along the shore, it's flattened itself between two rocks, and will strike at an opportune moment.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    A reskinned Lurker Above

    3

    1D4+2 hunger-crazed Chiwara. Crustacean-like insects that normally ignore humans, these ones have been driven mad by hunger. They scurry forth from the darkness on their 6 legs, or leap from a nearby shore, attempting to grab victims with tentacles.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    A reskined or modified Giant Assassin bug, turning part of its attacks into tentacles.

    4

    A cluster (1d6+3) of Dragon-Tooth Polyps that grab hold of the boat/people on the boat/people on the shore with their roots. These roots try to dig into whatever they clasp, seeking deeper with smaller, more fine roots.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Begedhi Parasites, without the control host or Create Seedlings effect. Focus on the vines, grapple, and impairment.

    5

    A large Nebiri-Shi, a Devil-shrimp, attacks the boat or people on shore. Particularly capable of hunting based off the scent of blood (in case you want to choose an encounter, rather than roll). This is a large predatory shrimp that is very agile in the water, and hunts almost anything with its big and powerful pincers. Stays close to the surface of the water, and can gain great speed by flicking its tail -- likely enough to jump out of the water, and grab prey with its huge pincers.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Something like an Enormous Reefclaw, with reduced stats to fit the party's level.

    6

    A pair of escaped Duǎn-Kah Fungi-Eels with a taste for human flesh. These near feral creatures are hard to handle, and these two have escaped a nearby breeding ranch. If the Kaia team still has their own Fungi-Eel, there is a chance it breaks off and joins this feral pair.
    -
    Suggested Monsters
    Death Worm

    7

    DOUBLE TROUBLE! Roll twice more, and combine both results. Should you get a 7 or 8 on these rolls, skip and reroll that result instead.
    -

    8

    Ramaður-shi, the Iron Hag, smiles upon the Kaia team. No monster is found this time.
    -

    Labyinth_2

    by Nele-Diel

    Act 3: The Beast

    The Final Fight

    Regular Ashikumo are bad enough as is -- they combine the worst parts of both spiders and centipedes, forming a monster fit only for nightmares. This one though... it's worse.
    — A dire warning
    Depending on how many days it took the player's Kaia team to reach this point, the fight may be in slightly different beginning states.
  • If the players took 8-10 days to get here, then they will be the first team to reach the Ashikumo. It appears to have just finished fighting off something even more terrifying than the centipede spider itself -- horrific battle signs show, and pools of dark alien blood are scattered about. The Ashikumo rests nearby, and the players may sneak up on it and surprise attack it. The Ashikumo starts battle at 75% HP.
  • If the players took 10-12 days to get here, they arrive at the exact same time as a Rival Kaia party. They can either watch from the shadows to see how the Kaia team attempts to fight it (and likely dies, at the same time as weakening the Ashikumo), or attempt to barter a truce and fight in conjunction with the other team. This version of the fight has allowed the Ashikumo to rest and recover, and it is at maximum HP.
  • If the players took longer than 12 days to reach the final fight, they arrive to find the entire cave in a state of chaos. Multiple other Kaia teams have arrived, and only managed to enrage the Ashikumo. Human bodies are strewn about the cave in pieces, and the centipede spider rampages throughout the space. It is mildly hurt, at 90% HP when the players arrive, but it is much, much more aggressive, and thus gets a bonus to hit.

  •   If the team manages to defeat the beast -- congratulations! In regular Araea, this would not mean the end of any Kaia teams troubles or dangers, but for the purposes of this one-shot, the players may finally rest easy knowing they have succeeded. The Ashikumo has enough meat on it to supply the trip back to Dhanû, and a Kaia-Tani, Kaia-Gai, or Kaia-Kaora will know the proper way of dissecting the beast, removing valuable portions of its chitinous armor and harvesting the meat. If the team does not have any of those Kaia, they will be able to extract meat, but only be able to cut away 50% of the chitin.
     

    The Centipede Spider

    A horrific mixture of gigantic centipedes and equally gigantic spiders, these things are master hunters that count humans among their prey. It is common belief that they originated in the Far Deep, and were driven out by even more terrifying monsters -- which makes the fact that this particular Ashikumo makes its home in the Far Deep even more nightmarish. It would have had to adapt to and defend itself against things that would hunt this master hunter, and thus is going to put up quite a fight. Whatever changes this Ashikumo has undergone to survive in the Far Deep has changed it structurally as well -- the chitin that covers the body is lustrous, pure white, and scarred with fascinating fractal patterns.  
    Suggested Monster
    A reskinned Titan Centipede
    Ashikumo, the Centipede Spider
    Species | Jan 11, 2020

    Combining the worst aspect of centipede and spider with a great size and equal hunger, the Ashikumo are dreaded predators of the Inner Shell.



     

    Bonus: Epilogue


     
    You mean we have to go BACK?
    — Fear, utter fear

     

    Continue?

    Is there time remaining? Do you want to continue this one(or two, or three)-shot adventure into a full fledged campaign? That's great to hear! In that case, roleplaying the adventure back with each Kaia attempting to haul as much chitin and meat as they can carry, all the way back to Dhanû, is a good next step. They can either take the same path they descended with, or attempt a new one on the way back. They may have to persuade, intimidate, or fight off other Kaia teams that were too late.

    Screen fade to black

    If it seems like a perfect time to end the session, then the return journey to Dhanû can be easy smooth sailing from here on out. The Kaia team each manages to carry as much rare, expensive chitin and bone as possible, as well as enough food to make the journey. If they contracted with Goðachi, they pay him his cut, and then enjoy the wealth that they earned by slaying this mythic beast.

     


    Thanks for Playing!

    If you played this adventure and made it to the very end, I hope it was enjoyable! It was designed to have player choice lead it in different directions, and thus I hope it is replayable as well. Maybe next time the palyers will try the ice caves, rather than the river path. And above all else, my main goal with this adventure was to celebrate the brilliance that is Araea -- I hope it did that, and I hope you enjoyed all the terror and fun that Araea has to offer!




    Cover image: Photobash by Stormbril, with art by Victor Hugo Harmatiuk, Piotr Dura, De Gerardo

    Comments

    Author's Notes

    Wow, how on earth did I let this thing get so big?? Whoops. If you read the entire thing, thank you! I hope this little (or big) one (or two)-shot was an entertaining read :D If you decide to play it, let me know how it goes! And also especially let Qurilion know, as I'm sure he'd love to know how people enjoyed playing in his world.   Let me know what you think! And please, if you aren't already following Araea, consider giving it a follow -- Qurilion has done an amazing job with this world, and deserves the love!   For feedback to this oneshot, if you have ideas for monster suggestions to fit the encounters list, please leave them below and I'll add them in! This was a big thing to write, so if you spot any typos, please let me know. I'm still trying to get used to Euclid editor rather than the Legacy one, and I might have missed some typos.


    Please Login in order to comment!
    6 Jun, 2021 07:51

    Freaking amazing :D I'm so thrilled and happy to see what you've done with the setting I created, and I've never wanted to play or DM in it more than right now   Thank you - this is incredible :D


    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
    6 Jun, 2021 08:09

    I am sooooo super happy to hear that! I absolutely love Araea, and the delve so deep into it was incredibly fun. And now I really want to play in that world too :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    6 Jun, 2021 08:12

    That's awesome! :D

    6 Jun, 2021 17:55

    Thanks Tillerz! :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    6 Jun, 2021 10:18

    Stormbril, this was definitely worth the wait. Amazing work! I love it. <3

    Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
    6 Jun, 2021 17:56

    Thank you so much Solar! <3 I'm so happy to get it complete, and really happy with the result :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    6 Jun, 2021 10:32

    This is an amazing one shot :D So many different way to die and get eaten... :p

    6 Jun, 2021 17:57

    Thank you Amélie! Yeah, that's one of my favourite things about Araea, there's just SO MUCH DANGER :D Makes it really fun to design an adventure within!

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    6 Jun, 2021 12:14

    This is amazing! I stalled on my one-shot due to some medical things, but this structure is similar to what I had in mind. Thanks for the inspiration to go finish it up!

    Visit the World of Wizard's Peak. Please check out my Costume Challenge article and let me know what you think!
    6 Jun, 2021 17:59

    Thanks Chris! You can definitely do it! I had stalled on this one too, for uh.... 10 months? So you aren't alone xD I am excited to see yours too, I like this style of open-ish structure, it's a bit more work to prep but so worth it. Good luck and I'm sure you'll do amazingly! :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    6 Jun, 2021 13:35

    I love it and I'd like to play it with my friends as soon as I have time T.T Great job, Storm :D

    Visit Daeliha, Eonilline & Iphars
    Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
    6 Jun, 2021 18:00

    Thank you Cato! Blasted time, if only there were more hours in the day, haha. I feel the same way, never enough time to do all the things I want >:(   If you happen to get a chance to run it, I hope it's fun :D

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    Sage Dylonishere123
    R. Dylon Elder
    6 Jun, 2021 20:53

    Dude. The dedication and level of awesome put into this is top notch. Well done man.

    7 Jun, 2021 16:11

    Thanks Dylon! I couldn't help myself, I wanted to keep adding details, and needed to have the 3 split paths or I wouldn't be happy with it, haha xD

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    7 Jun, 2021 10:56

    I had to skim over a fair chunk because I'm secretly hoping I can find someone to run this and have me as a player, this is really amazing work!! I've never wanted to play a one-shot so damn bad

    Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse
    7 Jun, 2021 16:12

    I hope someone can run it! If so, let me know how it goes :D   I really want to try playing as a player in Araea too, the danger and excitement would be so fun

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.