At the Mountains of Madness DnD Horror


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Game Description

The world of Erebus isn't half-empty. It isn't even completely empty. It has been shattered and the pieces have been thrown into the middenheap.
Several millenia ago - no one remembers how long anymore - two warring factions used weapons of such magnitude that shattered continents, boiled seas and tore holes in the fabric of the universe. Most of the population was wiped out, the survivors enduring only thanks to the Order of Wizards helping them out. As if that weren't enough, while the world was still plagued by the aftershocks of the holocaust that destroyed it, many things took up the opportunity to creep in through the cracks and make a new home out of it. The detals of the Great War are nonexistent, half-remembered legends the only thing that remains. The survivors are not much interested in the past anyway; the present is ugly enough. A few things that everybody learns as soon as they can walk and are reminded of them by their elders continiously until the info is an inedible part of them;

People live in enclaves:
Artifacts of an age long past, the Wardstones keep bad things at bay. Each Wardstone protects an area up to twelve miles wide; within that zone, the sky is blue, the world is light, the water is drinkable, normal plants grow and prosper. More importantly, Bad Things can't suddenly appear out of thin air - they seem unable to even find the enclaves - and the dead stay dead. Usually.
The enclaves are populated by a mixture of the civilized races -elves, dwarves, gnomes, humans and others - and many have a significant population from less human races such as orcs, drow, planetouched and others. Not only there has been some interbreeding throughout the centuries but Wanderers, people no one has ever seen before, with highly unusual equipment and almost complete amnesia wander into the enclaves from time to time.
Each and every civilized settlement is guarded by a wardstone but there's a cost; a very powerful individual, usually an archmage, needs to tend the Wardstone. If no-one does, the ward slowly weakens until it fails and the enclave goes the way of the mammoth.
In recent years though - the past twelve centuries or so - smaller, portable wardstones have been created by some mages and trading between the enclaves has become possible, if not reliable. Civilization has been slowly advancing again and those enclaves with strong leaders have evolved into cities of considerable size.

The world is dark:
Beyond the enclaves, the weather is bad; even if violent storms don't rip you apart, the rain might melt you down-it's acidic. Even when it doesn't rain, a thin grey haze seems to hung in the air, obscuring the sun and making day as dark as dusk. And if you travel to the far south, the darkness becomes absolute.
Everything weighs twice as much beyond the protective bubble of a wardstone-even people. Those wandering beyond the wards would find themselves carrying their own weight once again. As if that weren't enough, most people sicken and die if they stay out too long, their hair falling off, their skin drying up lke old parchment or sometimes burned by no flame whatsoever; without magic those effects don't heal at all. And sometimes there are dangerous "anomalies"; people suddenly finding themselves crushed under their own weights or falling skywards or teleported around. There have even been cases of people going for what was to them short trips and returning after decades.
The earth is usually parched and brittle, with few things growing. And what does grow is often unusual... and predatory.

There are Things No-one was meant to know:
In the dark corners of the world, nightmares roam. As well as in the lighter corners, the open spaces, the valleys, the lowest pits and the highest peaks. Anywhere except for Warded areas. Short-lived animals and small beings still survive just about anywhere, usually living too short lives to sicken or be altered but many larger animals and monsters as well as most adventurers that become lost are warped by the unnatural powers that crawl everywhere. The trees especially, both large and long-lived, have become entirely alien and forests are very dangerous places even discounting monstrous predators.
Sapient beings that die very often rise as one sort of undead or another and any abandoned enclaves one finds unwarded are ghost towns full of houses of horror.
In the more open areas between enclaves, indescribable things walk, crawl or slither and most that encounter them don't live to tell the tale. Those that do would wish they had died if they were coherent enough to do so.
And in the far south, the sites of the greatest battles of the Great War, things not only indescribable but unthinkable crawl in the darkness, gnawing upon the roots of the world...



Campaign premise:
You've lived all your life in an enclave at the foothills of the Mountains of Madness, as everyone you've ever known has called the mountain range to the north of the town. At least, you think they are to the north; some days they appear to the south as well.
Settled over three millenia ago around a once-abandoned Wardstone at the top of a hill, the enclave had never grown beyond a couple thousand people. A windowless tower so old its walls are no longer recognizably man-made looks over the few hundred old houses surrounded by an ancient wall built by loose stones so large that a giant could not have lifted unaided. Beyond the wall and the small hill the town is built on, there are a few dozen square miles of farmland, a couple more square miles of thankfully normal forest and a small river that flows from the hill to a small lake not two miles over.
It is a simple and quiet place, with the occasional zombie invasion, tentacled intrusion or mad cult coming from outside that the townspeople easily fight off; everyone is required to train as a soldier three months per year from the age of ten and all those with aspark of magic are trained by a small group of wizards in the tower. The closest enclave is seventy leagues to the East and caravans with portable Wardstones arrive twice a year. It is a good life. Or had been, until now.
Three days ago the wizards came down from the tower and announced that the old archmage had died and none of them were powerful enough to keep the Wardstone running; it would fail within the year despite all their efforts.
Portable Wardstones for caravan use could not protect more than a couple dozen people plus load animals and supplies for the journey and transportation magic was unreliable for that many travelers.

Only one option remained; the more capable of the young militia would be sent along with the caravan either to find and convince a new archmage to protect the town or somehow arrange for the safe transportation of two thousand people while the rest of the settlers would prepare to defend the town as the wards weakened and the wizards would keep the Wardstone going for as long as they could.
This group of militia, your home town's last hope, are you.

Campaign type:
Lots of survival, horror and mystery (and horrible mystery) interrupted by occasional but very scary moments of fighting for your lives.
The game will be fast-paced to keep the suspense up so please, please, please; if you can't steadily post at least every other day, don't apply.
Everything is dangerous in Erebus; choosing the wrong campsite or failing in diplomacy can be extremely horrible, if not always lethal. So be prepared and think things through.

Characters:
You start out with 50.000 xp (halfway between 10th and 11th level). You can buy off up to 1 point of level adjustment.
38 point-buy or roll 6 times 5d6b3 (you can choose after you roll.
HP are rolled but you get at least half per die rolled; if a d8 comes 2 for example, you gain 4.
You start with 60.000 gp. However, magic items are scarce; not one of your items may be over 18.000 gp (not counting base materials) and you can have any given item only once. You can craft your extra XP but cost limit is still the same.
Your characters need to be tough survivalists but some broken things will be disallowed. Ask first.
You may use any 3.5 WotC source book. For other things, ask first.

Survival gear:
Your group starts with the following gear which are necessary for survival;
1 Eldritch Compass, showing the way towards the nearest active Wardstone or a named active Wardstone.
1 decanter of endless water, leadlined.
1 pair of boots of levitation per character; these don't actually levitate you. They protect from most warped gravity instead.
1 eternal wand of lesser restoration.

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