Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Labourers Under the Volcano

Here in the humid shade of an active volcano which billows smoke across the sky, labourers work on a grand project. Their proximate aim: to divert the water from a fresh nearby spring into a dead parched river bed on the other side of a chasm, and hence to replenish a dying lake. Their ultimate goal: the restoration of natural order. These are creations of al-Sijistani's imagination, making his vision real.

Regular earthquakes and semi-regular eruptions from the volcano make the going almost Sisyphean. A channel has been dug from the spring down to the chasm, where it is intended the water will flow across an aqueduct which will lead to the dead river. The instability of the ground, the clouds of dust and ash, and the frequent raining of pebbles and debris, often call work to a halt; occasionally a serious quake or pyroclastic flow restores the status quo ante.

Roll a 1d10 when the PCs first arrive. If the result is 1-6 the labourers are currently working on the aqueduct. On a roll of 7-9 work has been halted and the labourers are struggling with conditions – repairing work after a recent tremor; hiding from falling rocks; or waiting glumly for a period of low visibility to pass. On a roll of 10 work has been completely destroyed in a sudden disaster and the labourers are contemplating starting all over again.

The labourers are early mammals from the crocodile's memories. Large quadrupeds, with thick muscular limbs and small unintelligent eyes, who tug rocks and tree trunks, and shovel dirt. They are goaded, ordered around, and sometimes aided by smaller, dextrous genet-like creatures which the crocodile remembers as faster and more skilful than they really were. They manipulate objects with great agility and move with lightning speed.

Big labourer: HD 5+2, AB +4, AC 14, ATT 1d6 rear-up front leg kicks/2d4+2 trample (on charge), Move 120

Small labourer: HD 1-1 AB +2, AC 16, ATT 1d3 bite, Move 150
*Can blink 1/day

There are 18 big labourers each with a team of 3 small labourers.

The labourers are guarded by 8 bipedal avian dinosaur hunters, roughly man-sized. They are covered in red feathers and have long stiff yellow tails.

Guards: HD 2+1, AB +4, AC 16, ATT 1d4 bite/1d3x2 claws, Move 180

The whole project is overseen by three mythago servants of al-Sijistani: the ‘Cappadocian Fathers’. These three men, known mainly to al-Sijistani only for attempting to reconcile the religion of the book with the thought of Plato, were at the periphery of his imagination: he had heard that one is a man of action, one an orator, and one a thinker. That is how he has created them.

The Cappadocian Fathers

Each of the Cappadocian Fathers appears as a bald man in robes with a long beard, as al-Sijistani imagines all saints of the religion of the book.

The Man of Action
The Man of Action always acts first in combat and does not need to roll for initiative. He can also act again at the end of every round, after all others have acted – he can either move or carry out an attack, activate a magic item, etc. He is a 5th level fighter and carries a holy staff which he can use to call lightning once per day.

The Orator
The Orator’s voice possesses powerful magic. He can use it to charm person three times per day, cause fear three times per day, and issue a command three times per day. He is a 0-level human and carries a book of prayers which acts as a continual sanctuary spell if the Orator is reading aloud from it.

The Thinker

The Thinker ruminates on the nature of the universe and has gained such insights that he is able to expand the power of his mind beyond his own brain. He can deploy clairvoyance, clairaudience, and ESP three times per day, and can also cause images and sounces to appear in the minds of others (improved phantasmal force and audible glamer) three times per day. 


  1. Wow, I really like this! Way to take an idea and run with it!

    Do the Laborers/Guards/Fathers want to fight? Can the PCs help them finish their project? How will they be rewarded? I'm assuming they all have semi-normal biologies too, what do they eat? Who supports then?

    (The mark of a good post is the questions it raises)

    1. Thanks. Those are all good questions for a DM... ;) Each of the different areas in the setting has around 30 pre-made locations like this and also lots of Yoon-Suin type tables to generate more. My aim is to provide just enough info and flavour to leave lots of space for each DM to get creative.

    2. Do you mind if I write about this? Like do a little follow up post about some of these questions? I'm really digging it;

  2. Would love to see more of these pre-made locations!