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Prisoner of the Moon

Themes

Punishment

It is important to face repercussions or ones' actions. However, Sangsalgu is a place where being sacrificed to the gods is both a punishment and an honour. For example, being publicly drunk at an inappropriate time of day would unquestionably haul someone to a holding cell under a temple to be later sacrificed.
Priests prowl the streets at dusk for families' wayward children possessing unruly hair, oddly shaped noses, everted navels, conspicuous birthmarks or some other arbitrary factor as reasoning to take them away.
  However, there are crimes that are so culturally egregious that the perpetrator is deemed unsuitable and unworthy for sacrifice. There are very few who earn a spot within the moon tome, where such people are sent. Prisoners experience a great deal of alienation, whether or not they have the same background or cultural experiences as the priests and guards who deposited them there.

Components

Hooks

The player character has been arrested for some misdeed (perceived or not) and been thrown into an ill lit dungeon that is known to occasionally flood to the ceiling and no obvious way out.

Stakes

The reason for this scenario is left to the GM's discretion. But some reason could be as:

Time Delay

The player character was put here to prevent them from interfering with some time sensitive scheme being acted against them or friendly NPC.

Ignominious End

The player character broke some sacred rule of the city and has now been sentenced.

Moral Quandaries

Blood Gold

The character(s) can face exsanguination should they find the secret vault containing a cursed hoard of gold dust that climb to the roof. Touching any of the gold will siphon blood through their pores and kill them painfully.   A hint to this is shown via a shredded corpse collapsed atop small personal pile.   There are also several large pieces of art that are purposefully drapped over the piles in a stepped fashion.

Cruel Tricks

Random Scorchers

Using the condition roll table, water conditions can range from warm to near boiling that may just harm their feet or be a warm bath.

Diseases

Depending on how long the character has been trapped, they risk a weakening of their immune system and increased susceptibility to plagues outside.   Roll Constitution upon existing
 

Glass Rash

Depending on the background/genealogy of the character, they may be susceptible to an allergic reaction to the prison's walls should they touch them at any point.   Should they successfully escape, its symptoms would follow them thereafter.
 

After the Escape

There are three conceivable exits in the tome:
Main Entrance
Existing through the same hallway the prisoner had entered and would likely encounter more guards.
Drainage System
Escaping through man-sized gutters carries the risk swimming through filth or drowning at the bends and traps in the sewer design.
Hidden Treasury
Reaching the top of the roof leads the player to a secret room behind the emperor's throne.

Red Herrings

Backflow

The water is the visible breath of the city
— Water Warden
Waterflow through the corner drains is occasionally reversed into the Moon Tome which gives the impression of the dungeons slowly being filled with water faster than it is. The water responsible for flooding the room comes from the floor gratings that follow the circular rim and not the corners.

Relations

Neutrals/Bystanders

Water Mice

Water mice are children employed to scrub the sewers and clear obstructions in the waterways beneath the city. A few will occasionally appear behind the stone drains to ridicule the prisoner(s) in a childish manner, but they can also be convinced to deliver useful items depending on social dynamics.

Adversaries

Guards

Retired eagle warriors feel that after decades of service, they have been demoted from servicing generals as part of a great army to securing a little-used dungeon for a civilian water manager.

Backdrops

Locations

Moon Tome Layout

Prison Cells
Drain
8th Cell
  • Covered floor to ceiling with tiles of moon glass
  • Six multilevel stone beds
  • Closed behind brittle stone bars

Drain
1st Cell
  • Covered floor to ceiling with tiles of moon glass
  • Six multilevel stone beds
  • Open to the circular hall

7th Cell
  • Walls are bare stone
  • Glass ceiling
  • Pieces of broken glass on the floor
  • Open to the circular hall

2nd Cell
  • Covered floor to ceiling with tiles of moon glass
  • Six multilevel stone beds
  • Closed behind wooden bars

6th Cell
  • Covered floor to ceiling with tiles of moon glass
  • Loose fitting wooden bars
  • Six multilevel stone beds

3rd Cell
  • Completely stripped of glass tiles
  • Six multilevel stone beds
  • Open to the circular hall

5th Cell
  • Completely stripped of glass tiles
  • Six multilevel stone beds
  • Open to the circular hall

Drain
4th Cell
  • Loose fitting wooden bars
  • Creaking wooden floor boards

Entrance
 
Circular Hall
A ring-shaped path that circles the central rock and from where the eight cells are attached. There are thirty small floor gratings, separate from the corner drains, arrayed at regular intervals on the rim from where the volcanically heated water emerges.

Threats

Heart's Spring

The Heart Spring that forces water through the city's water channels, and the very cells in the base, is also naturally boiling. Over the course of days, the water level rises ever higher which leads those left inside to climb to higher shelves at night and endure the suffocating steam until day break when the water recedes.
Boil Alive
Depending on the roll, great heat can permeate through by the walls to warm the air or water.
Suffocate
Depending on the roll, steam would emerge to displace the breathable air which at best makes the prisoner uncomfortable, or at worst force heat air through their nose.
Drown
Depending on the roll, the water level can rise to the ceiling and totally submerge in the dungeon.

Encounters

Problem Solving

This scenario has very little combat opportunities. And few chances to talk or apply specialist skills. The aim is for players to think critically and explore the surrounding environment with few opportunities to interact with NPCs.

Past Events

Past Prisoners

There is an uncoloured piece of art impressed upon the 7th cell's stone wall that is suspected to have been drawn by long ago by the speaker Yaretzal's queen's imprisoned lover.   It is normally invisible in the dark but, after hearing the story, water mice would seek into the normally vacant prison to show each other.
Plot type
One-on-One Escape Scenario
Related Organizations
Chinampas
Technology / Science | Jan 8, 2021
Moon Glass
Material | Jul 24, 2021
 

Timetable

Roll Conditions for Round
Water Level Dice Roll Description of Conditions
Dry 1
  • Cold Air
Low Cool 2
  • Slippery Surfaces
Low Warm 3
  • Damp Air
Low Hot 4
  • Warm Air
Medium Cool 5
  • Cool Knee-high Levels
Medium Warm 6
  • Warm Knee-high Levels
Medium Hot 7
  • Hot Knee-high Levels
Medium High, Cool 8
  • Cool Waist-high Levels
Medium High, Warm 9
  • Warm Waist-high Levels
Medium High, Warm 10
  • Warm Waist-high Levels
Medium High, Hot 11
  • Hot Waist-high Levels
Medium High, Hot 12
  • Hot Waist-high Levels
High, Cool 13
  • Cool Neck-high Levels
High, Warm 14
  • Warm Neck-high Levels
High, Warm 15
  • Warm Neck-high Levels
High, Hot 16
  • Hot Neck-high Levels
High-High, Warm 17
  • Warm Ceiling Levels
High-High, Hot 18
  • Hot Ceiling Levels
Flood, Warm 19
  • Blistering Churning Waters
Flood, Hot 20
  • Boiling Churning Waters
 

Exhaustion

Roll Health for Round
Roll Effect
1 Disadvantage on ability checks
2 Speed halved
3 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
4 Hit point maximum halved
5 Speed reduced to 0
6 Death

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Cover image: Mayan Temple by likun wang

Comments

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10 Jan, 2022 13:28

Hi!  

  • Some kind of map would be useful. :)
  • What can the player actually do to escape any of the threats?
  • "Existing through the same hallway the prisoner had entered" -> Exiting ...
  • Funny idea with the hidden painting. :D
  • 11 Jan, 2022 00:50

    Thanks for the feedback.   I was not confident in my map making abilities, so I thought I would experiment with the columns and quote blocks to fashion a rough layout of the dungeon instead.   I was also hesitant to expressly state how the threats could be subverted without risking away the answer. Though I'm not sure how important that would be given that players may find unique solutions all their own and I would not want to stifle them.