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7/28/2015 6:33 am  #1

Caverns of Xathool

This is the introduction to a BoL adventure I was thinking of doing a while back. If it is of use to anyone please feel free.

                                        The Caverns of Xathool

Above you two fully grown Drakk, the Winged Dragons of the Mountains, circle lazily as if anticipating the end of their hunt. One would be a handful, even with a bow, but a pair, one male and the slightly smaller female, allow little chance of survival.
Grimly you tighten your grip on the sweat soaked leather bound hilt of your broadsword as your vision, black with exhaustion, meets the equally exhausted eyes of your companions. You see no hope there, no hint of a plan to win through. They are as empty of hope as you.
There seems little left to do now but stand back to back and prepare to sell your lives as dearly as you can…

Thirty days ago you (the characters) had entered the dark mountains of the Axos range as part of a well armed caravan, escorting the fat merchant Bel-Belias on a treasure seeking quest to find the legendary caverns of the fabled sorcerer Xathool.
Now thirty days later, you are all that remain of that caravan, and footsore without provisions or equipment save a few battered weapons, have been forced north further into those accursed peaks by this pair of hunting dragons.
And this is where this tale begins, lost and in desperate need of aid, without which you will surely die.
The original route of the caravan was to follow the Sham to its source somewhere in the Axos mountains where it was rumoured could be found the home of a mad hermit, Tal-Scathos, who claimed to have once been apprenticed to the sorcerer Xathool during his childhood. The rumours may or may not prove correct, Bel-Belias was said to possess a map, no doubt taken in payment of some debt. However maps purporting to show the whereabouts of Xathool’s caverns are easy to come by, and as rare as Jondelle droppings. Many an adventurer had followed a map into the mountains, few had returned.
Yet the map of Bel-Belias had proven true. Through following its direction they had found the hermit living in a small river cut cave near the spring from which the Sham flowed.
From him, after much coaxing and threats, they had learned that the caverns could be found “beyond the shining wall” further to the north. They had left him as they had found him, sitting cross-legged and naked outside the cave humming madly.
For the next few days they had made their way deeper into the volcanic mountains, moving always north in search of this mysterious ‘shining wall’, whatever that was. By the third night since leaving the hermit, they had encountered the barbaric tribesmen who lived within that part of the Axos. It was an encounter that only the characters survived. Attacked by the savage warriors, Bel-Belias’ bodyguards, men more used to tavern fights that real battle, had died quickly, most with their backs to the enemy. The merchant himself was last seen pleading on his knees for his life to a masked and feathered shaman who not only could not understand his words but had already earmarked him for sacrifice to his primitive gods.
Used to real combat the characters had managed to fight their way free of the tribesmen, who were more interested in plunder than risking the sharp steel of the characters. They had soon put enough distance between them and the warriors, although not enough to carry them free of the bloodcurdling screams of the fat merchant as he went to meet his fate. However one price of their escape was the loss of most of their equipment taken when the caravan’s camp fell.
Since then they had travelled, hopefully out of the mountains, until reaching the attention of the pair of dragons who had pushed then north again deeper into the mountains.
However, all that is past, for the present there is just the exhausted and ill-armed characters, a pair of hunting Drakk and nothing but open ground for miles. Unless one counts the sheer cliff that rises wall-like a few hundred yards to the east…

Rubies flung in mud.
Unfurl the darkling splendours -
   (John Jakes - 'Brak the Barbarian)


7/28/2015 11:23 pm  #2

Re: Caverns of Xathool

I love the way this introduction reads like the opening of a Conan story! If that doesn't get your players pulses racing, well...find new players.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who would love to see more of this, if you have it. If you run this game, any chance of writing up an outline of the scenario afterwards, and posting it here? Mind you, as it is, I'm already thinking how I would develop the scenario myself from your intro.

Shining wall - waterfall, strange rock formation with hidden cave entrance, trans-dimensional gate?

And I bet those tribesmen are on the PCs trail. The fat merchant probably has/had a fast tongue, and came up with some cock and bull story to try to save his life, which has led the hillmen to believe that the party has/is something/someone they need.

Good stuff!

My real name is Steve Hall

7/29/2015 5:18 am  #3

Re: Caverns of Xathool

Thank you. When I was thinking about it at first I planned to set it in Hyboria, but then thought Lemuria is less documented and therefore more open.
I did also think about running it as a PBP on one of the various forums, but I've not had the best experiences with that form of role play.
I think that BOL is probably the best S&S system I've come across - just enough dice rolling and ample room for role play. Sadly my regular group refuse to play anything other than D&D or Pathfinder, just stuck in d20 I suppose. Still I live in hope.

Rubies flung in mud.
Unfurl the darkling splendours -
   (John Jakes - 'Brak the Barbarian)

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