01 – Introduction11-Jun-08
The Affiliation has recently been plagued by a rash of unusually weird and terrible monsters of an unknown sort. The western mountains, known as the Barrier Peaks, have long been renowned for the generation of the most fearsome beasts, and have been shunned accordingly — save for a the hardy Mountain Beastmen. Within the last few months, however, a walled town not far distant from the area, and four small fortresses as well, have been destroyed by mysterious attacks!
You have been gathered an an emergency Conclave meeting and assigned a perilous task — it is your job to find the source of these monsters and, if possible, put a stop to them!
The Expedition Begins
Several outer settlements of the Affiliation have recently been plagued by a rash of unusually weird and terrible mutants. The mountains to the west, known as the Barrier Peaks, have long been renowned for the generation of the fearsome monsters, and they have been shunned accordingly. The few settlements that lie in the shadow of these mountains are inhabited by hardy Mountain Beastmen who have built rugged strongholds to ward off the attacks of predatory creatures infesting the lands thereabout.
Within the last few months, however, four small Beastmen fortresses and a walled Barony village at the outskirts of the Barrier Peaks were destroyed by mysterious attacks! A swift-thinking savant of the ravaged lands has preserved in brine several partially decomposed corpses found on or near the sites of the ravaging. While these strange mutants are assumed to have belonged to the forces which were responsible for the destruction, the remains were too far gone to learn anything other than that they were of creatures unknown to even the most widely-traveled outlanders. The urgent plea for aid which accompanied these gruesome corpses could not be ignored, and an emergency conclave of the Affiliation was immediately called in the Free City.
At the conclave, several unconfirmed reports related that mutant creatures have been disgorged at random intervals from the entrance to an Ancient metal-sheathed vault within the Barrier Peaks. The vault doors are set high upon a rocky face, reached only by a single narrow pass. This protection has purportedly frustrated all attempts to explore the space beyond the entry – although several search parties have entirely disappeared, so it is possible that they entered but never returned.
Each member state of the Affiliation was called upon to furnish several of his doughtiest henchmen for the expedition. Thus the Barons of the Grass Plains, various Warlords from the Necropoli, representatives from the Brotherhood of Radiation, and even the Beastmen of the Barrier Peaks have selected their bravest explorers and equipped them accordingly to accompany the expedition as their representatives.
(Your PCs, obviously, are members of this group that been assembled for the mission.)
Your expedition must find out exactly what this vault is, what is causing the creatures to come forth, who is responsible, and how to prevent any further incursions. In addition, any other information regarding this mysterious locale, its strange denizens, Ancient devices, or relic weaponry is highly desirable. Whatever riches that are gained will be shared amongst Affiliation members according to the contribution each individual or representative group makes to the overall success of the expedition.
If necessary, the Affiliation vows to send forth an army to lay waste to the offending place and every living creature within. Should your expedition not meet with total success, this step will be considered, but the Conclave doubts such extreme measures will be required considering the strength of the expedition and the ability of its members. The Conclave feels assured that you will certainly locate the person or thing responsible for the troubles and eliminate him, her, or it from the face of the land.
The Ancient Vault
Your party set forth seven nights ago, and for the past two days have been climbing higher into the crags of the Barrier Peaks. Last night was spent in the only Beastmen keep remaining in the area – and they were fulsome glad for your company. This morning, as the eastern horizon turned from pearl grey to rosy pink, a score of Beastmen guided the expedition towards the unknown area.
It is now afternoon, and you have set up camp in a hidden dell just outside of rifle range from the strange entrance. The Beastmen men-at-arms have been detailed to guard the supplies and mounts at the camp you go onward immediately. They will await your return for seven full days before returning to the keep. Gathering your personal gear, you climb the steep slope of the dell’s north side, pass the rim, and force your way through a dense growth of trees and undergrowth.
Your expedition has just topped the rise when you gain your first view of the metal-walled vault. You see a hillside where erosion has exposed two doors – a small upper door and a larger lower door – both closed.
(Click on the image for a closer view of the vault entrances.)
What are your actions?