I realize that relatively few readers are interested in Aurikesh, but I have fun writing about it. For this post, I will create a list of seven dungeons or dungeon-like locations in Aurikesh, all famous enough that players could start play knowing about them, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that characters know how to find these dungeons. As I’ve indicated before, dungeon-crawling is not a big part of the games that I run, but I’m throwing these out to players as options for things to do when they don’t feel like dealing with other problems. (Not that I’m currently running anything in the setting; nor do I have imminent plans to do so. This is a casual side project.) As in other posts about Aurikesh, all domains have different names that the kagandi use for them, included in parentheses.
1. The Tower of Var Dyrak
Since Var Dyrak is Not A Nice Guy, it’s entirely feasible that PC groups that don’t include a Tiger’s Claw warrior might look at this as a good place for some mayhem. In addition to the tower and some fortifications around it, there are extensive caverns beneath; these caverns are primarily a holding area for prisoners that Var Dyrak uses in experiments.
2. The Rubycrest Alchemists’ Guildhouse
Rubycrest, a province in the coastal northern domain of Pereil, was the chosen retreat of the great kagandi alchemist Nianth (I’m still working on naming conventions for all of the cultures and races). Nianth had accumulated enough wealth from over a decade as the Master of Fires (one of the guild’s most lucrative positions) that he went into semi-retirement and constructed a large complex to continue his research in private. The local lord in Rubycrest granted him nine hundred acres for this construction, on both sides of the River Hallor. Nianth hired a mix of foreign and local workers, informing them up-front that they would remember nothing of the work afterward; apparently they were sufficiently swayed when he paid in advance. There is no clear information on what they built, but they returned to their lives after eight years, surprised to discover they had ever left, but wealthy enough to never work another day. As for Nianth, he has not been seen since the Guildhouse’s completion fifteen years ago.
3. The Dungeon of Three Deceits and the Prison of Three Gates
Obviously I’d have to finish writing this dungeon, ask my players not to read it, and adapt it to 5e rules. Anyway, the Dungeon of Three Deceits is deeply tied to the Prison of Three Gates, as it’s kind of an attached mirror-demiplane. For Aurikesh, the Prison of Three Gates is in the province of Arandune, part of the domain of Kinterowa (which the veytikka call Hawklin’s Hall). By including this, I’m implicitly including luminous water, crimson aether, and nightskein (not connected to its DtD usage) as materials that exist in Aurikesh. Psychic forces will necessarily have meaning and importance, and the Living Shadow of Ugrazhe is a significant campaign villain, probably worth a story arc of at least 10 sessions.
4. The Stone of Torment
Twenty years ago, Solomon Edrall, chief priest of Ychirra, learned of Zereysa’s Star, and after much research concluded that he could re-create the magical process that Zereysa the Binder had used, despite the vast differences in their magical styles. He was, in a word, mistaken. What resulted instead was a piece of obsidian, about as tall, broad, and deep as Solomon himself, that floated upright in midair. He was surprised by this outcome, and with trepidation examined its apparent magical properties. Finally, one of his bodyguards, Tagraz, agreed to swear his oath of loyalty with his hand upon the face of the obsidian stone. Tagraz and Solomon were drawn into the stone, and remained within for seven days.
When they emerged again, they had been physically and spiritually transformed; Solomon was now a (clerical) lich, and Tagraz was now a death knight. The two now operated with a unified will; they took control of the high temple of Ychirra at swordpoint, destroyed the relics of Ychirra that they had once venerated, and began a campaign of destruction across Balioth. Such malicious, overt evil was like nothing the people of Balioth had ever seen before, and they were slow to unite against it. Parthala, however, had foreseen their coming, and created the Parthé to fight them (this is a modification of the previous story of the Parthé). They defeated Solomon, Tagraz, and the rest of their most powerful servants in a hard-fought battle, but based on ancient legends, they believe that it is only a matter of time before Solomon and Tagraz emerge from the Stone of Torment once again.
Divinatory magic has revealed that Ychirra has hidden the secrets of Solomon and Tagraz inside the Stone of Torment, and that there is a place within the stone that a band of heroes might go – if only they could find the Stone of Torment itself to take them there.
5. The Sunken City of Adeirra
Off the coast of the province of Sunrise Point, in the domain of Tyrema (Vindyx’s Harvest), there was once a city called Adeirra. Long before the people of Sestomera came to Balioth, people of some other kind lived here, as the city slowly sank into the sea. In the present day, only the tallest buildings are still visible above the waves, but many buildings are just beneath the surface at low tide, making the area dangerous for sailing. The village of Merrest has grown up on the coast within sight of Adeirra, and the villagers there find profitable work as wreckers despite the shark-infested waters.
Very brave divers, and the rare few adventurers with extensive access to water-breathing magic, have reported that the “surface” buildings have deeper sub-levels, and many things remain there that have not been ruined by seawater – gold, statuary, gems, and strange amphorae that they have not yet been able to bring to the surface. It does seem strange, though, that the buildings are still as intact as they are after all this time, and that the sand of the ocean floor hasn’t shifted to cover more of these buildings and form sandbars. The latter, at least, might be explained by unusual currents in the area.
6. Shahar Passage
To enter the hidden city of Morisceth, travelers must pass through Shahar Passage, a cavern passage under the mountains. The road was once well-patrolled, but at the start of play, Morisceth has been cut off from the rest of Dalassiria (Angel’s Thorn) for six months, thanks to cave-ins, thieves, and beasts that have emerged from the deeper caverns. It has always been nearly impossible to reach Morisceth with magical communication, thanks to the range limitations of such spells.
Countless side-chambers and passages reach deeper into the mountains, and it is easy for travelers without an accurate map (there are many fakes) or a native guide to get lost, fall into a chasm, or the like. Some of those who have been lost for a time have been rescued, and from these have come strange tales of chambers lined in silver, columns of solid amber, and the eyeless, silvery creatures – apparently kindred to veytikka – that dwell there.
7. The Seven Men of Darrowfaust
In the province of Darrowfaust, part of the domain of Ferradona (Perch of the Falcon), there are seven megaliths (as well as two dozen lesser stones) that form a primitive but useful observatory; given the connection between astronomy and arcane power in Aurikesh, this is a place of great power. A carefully-dug warren of tunnels runs beneath these stones, said to be the barrows of the priests who once ruled Darrowfaust. They are called the Seven Men even though they bear no particular humanoid shape. They are arranged in three pairs (connected by lintels), with one stone standing alone and somewhat apart from the others. At least within Ferradona, a great deal of scholarly thought has gone in the question of how the Seven Men are intended to be used for magical study, and why exactly there are seven great stones. Some have identified the stones with particular deities, though even those who identify the solitary stone as Sechir cannot guess who or what the sixth paired stone may represent.
The true dungeon, however, is the briar maze that surrounds the Seven Men on all sides. This maze is dangerous in its own right, as it holds over one hundred miles of passages, with thorny walls sharp enough to pierce boiled leather. Some report encountering murderous cultists hunting them in these deadly corridors; others report finding trails of blood that lead directly up to dead ends.