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Plot: Traces of the Past

Exploring the Nadjima Caves

Plot Overview

The Nadjima Caves are the location to which Aldric's mysterious clue points to. Within the caves and ancient ruins, pages of what seems to be an expedition report lay forgotten in the dirt. They give hints regarding to the events that transpired during the First Nadjima Expedition of 12 A.A, slowly revealing to the party that something bigger than they realised is at play...

Adventuring Down the Caves

The caves are dark, and the party can make out very little details of what is in the caves. Some parts are illuminated by glowing mushrooms, which emit a soft greenish-blue light that seems to gently pulse. The party will be travelling through them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks, with about 1 serious encounter every 2 or so days.

Journal Entries

As they travel further within, the group is likely to encounter discarded journal entries which belonged to the members of the original Nadjima expedition. Here is a list of various journal entries the players might find, so far categorised in the chronological order they were written in.

The entries are sometimes discarded pieces of paper, sometimes bound to the entire book. The ones listed below are the shorter ones, it is likely I write a series of longer journal entries with more detailed information. If I do end up writing these on WA, I'll link them below.
Day one. Abe asked us to write some journal. Bahamul is smelly.
— Silex Redscale, in Taninduth
The caves are quite dangerous it seems. We have encountered more threats than we thought we would, and Silex was hurt a little. But we seem to be holding out fine.
— Abelard Sattar, in Danatelian
This is a dream come true! The others don't notice, but the caves are filled with artefacts and messages from the past. Last night I found a piece of pottery with old Baseikan art on it! This is so exciting!!
— Zayed, in Danatelian
Ulfrida seems nervous, I don't think she likes the Star Merchant. Could serve as a good tension for the book...
— Abelard Sattar, in Masakh
We made it past the doors yesterday. Bahamul found what he was looking for, but I don't like the look of that thing, and Silex won't shut up about how it "screams". Something about it makes me want to run as far away as I can. The whole place is fucking eerie.
— Ulfrida Hviteik, in Sjöbergian

The Kobold Village

The party might run into members of the local kobold tribe, or more likely into one of their traps. They are rather afraid, and will only attack the party out of fear before they scamper away and hide.

Monster

Seeing as I don't know just yet what level the party will be, I'll haven't chosen what creature they will encounter. Likely something CR 5 or 6

Plants

The plant life in the caves can be dangerous. From carnivorous moss to mushroom emitting toxic spores, the group will have to have to mind their step as they explore the caves.

Ancient Traps

As the party gets closer to the ruins, they'll start encountering more sophisticated traps. Notably, the doors guarding the ruins are protected by 4 shooting contraptions, powered by a crystal.

Metal Guardians

These engineering marvels guard the interior of the ruins, patrolling the grounds while looking for any intruders. If they see the party, they will attack on sight.

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The Old Ruins

To enter the ruins, the party must first get passed the doors. They are guarded by shooting contraptions powered by magical crystals, which the group must find a way to disable. While they are being shot at, swarms of small mechanical animals attack the group.

Once they are inside, the party can look around for additional information. They will find a few old Baseikan vestiges, as well as the body of Ulfrida and her possessions, including her partially destroyed journal.

The party may also encounter some metal guardians, also powered by crystals. If they are careful, they may attempt to harvest some of them to use or sell. Upon examination, these crystals seem to be similar to the Sabaarian Crystals.

The 12 A.A Nadjima Expedition

Before this expedition, the Nadjima caves had never been truly explored. They were reputed to be dangerous, filled with monsters and many other mysterious dangers. This all changed when Abelard Sattar set to map the terrains, sponsored by a shadowy patron who sought an artefact within the caves, and a followed by a few good friends. The expedition consisted of 5 members:

Abelard Sattar, renown explorer and leader of the mission. An extravagant half-orc adventurer, author of many critically acclaimed books about his travels, he is enthusiastic about discovering the secrets that lie within the caves.
Bahamul, Merchant of Stars, the mysterious patron funding the expedition. He is an old elven man who keeps his intentions and motives to himself. Abelard has no idea what pushed the Merchant to fund the trip, and why he wishes to travel with them.

Ulfrida Hviteik, a dwarven warrior and member of the Hviteik Clan of Sjöberg. She is jovial and fearless, a pride to her family and people.
Zayed Najima, a human archaeologist and friend of Abelard. She hopes to make an important discovery during their trip.
Silex Redscale, a green kobold adventurer and speleologist. He acts as the guide to the group, helping them navigate the caves.

Events of the Expedition

The expedition lasted about two weeks. Unlike all of Abelard's other expeditions, this one went unpublished, and was never spoken off again. Most people are unaware the expedition ever even happened, although the party might hear some distorted rumours about what might've happened.
To know what happened during the expedition, click here.
All was going well. The expedition defeated monsters, explored the caves, finding their way deeper through the nexus until they finally found themselves in front of the massive metal doors encased in stone, guarding the ruins. They made their way through, discovering the destroyed ruins of an ancient and forgotten people.

Centre of the chaos stood a mysterious artefact, polished and intact amongst the fading memories of the city. As agreed, Bahamul took the artefact, though Ulfrida briefly suggested they leave it where they had found it. However, all secretly started plotting to steal it from him, to have it for themselves.

See, the artefact had been contained for a reason. Corrupting powers seeped from it, making their ways to the hearts of the various members like inky tendrils of malice, slowly turning their minds to greed and paranoia. Two days after they had exited the mines, Silex attempted to steal the artefact from Bahamul while they slept. However he was caught, and the other memembers of the group savagely beat him to death, using only their teeth and bare hands.

The following day, none could remember what had happened. Silex's body had disappeared, only the bloody traces of the nights events remaining on the walls. The group believed he had been slain by a monster while they slept, though none would dare turn their backs to other.

A few days later, an argument blew between Zayed and Abelard. Abelard suggested they go resolve their issues somewhere private, and Zayed accepted, both secretly hoping they might be able to get rid of the other. Abelard was faster, and managed to push her down a ravine. When he returned, he claimed she had tripped and fallen, and there was nothing he could do.

The last to die was Ulfrida. She managed to make away with the artefact, stealing it from Bahamul. He and Abelard agreed to split in the caves to look for her, and whoever found her claimed the artefact. Abelard wandered through them for days until finally the fog of hatred and violence cleared from his mind, but he could not find the body of Ulfrida. There was no sign whatsoever of Bahamul, who had disappeared without a trace.

Ulfrida had manage to resist the artefacts powers, and tried to bring it back to the ruins to lock it once more. However, she was caught by Bahamul, who killed her and left with the artefact. Bahamul himself is immune to its effects, carrying another object that protects him from its influences.


Cover image: by Mohammad Ali Berenji

Comments

Author's Notes

Ok, think I'm done with this plot! I have a fair amount of time to work on some documents, considering I don't know how much time my players will take to get here. I do know for sure they'll come by at some point, because this is connected to backstory stuff


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15 Dec, 2020 17:45

I love it! A very cool plot for the caves.
I hope the players try and find the artifact and then have chaos ensue... :P   I wonder how long will this take to play for you. I was immediately shocked when I read the length of in-game time.

The party will be travelling through them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks

15 Dec, 2020 17:56

Thank you!! I'm sure they will, considering its part of PC backstory. If they somehow ignore it, well. We'll see what happens xD   From my estimations, probably between 3 to 6 sessions! We play with a variant rest rule, long rests are a week long break in a secure place so that means I get to stretch out the the time a lot more! Instead of counting encounters per day I count them per week, which changes things.

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse
Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
17 Dec, 2020 00:23

Yikes. No wonder Abelard never wanted to talk about what happened there.   Sounds like a really fun adventure for a party. I hope you let us know what kind of monster they end up fighting!   Redscale. Hehe.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
17 Dec, 2020 09:52

Yep, it wasn't much fun.   And will do! I might make an update to inform on how the plot went, and what the party did (or make a separate post? Or maybe us a manuscript to journal the campaign.. hmmm)   also :^) hehe

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
21 Dec, 2020 05:12

I love this plot! I'm sure your players will have a lot of fun traveling through these caves and finding out what happened there. No wonder Abelard never spoke about it.

21 Dec, 2020 09:04

Thank you so much! I really hope they will, I’m planning on handwriting the journal they find so it should be really fun. And yeah, it was quite the traumatising experience for him :/

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse