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The Glyphstone
2006-02-13, 08:52 PM
My tavern contest entry.

Part 1: Arrival
Part 2: The Tavern
Part 3: Tassym Karyon
Part 4: The Glyphstone
Part 5: Other Buildings and NPCs
Part 6: *Information and Quests

Arrival


As you crest over the hill, an object just ahead immediately catches your eye or tries to. Unfortunately, your eye does not seem to want to be caught, finding it difficult to focus on the irregular-shaped monolith atop the nearby mound. You also see the sprawling inn and tavern, with the handful of surrounding buildings, and no further confirmation is necessary. This is what you have come to visit, for some reason or another - the little-understood artifact known wide as the Glyphstone, and the Gate that hosts its visitors. Packs are shouldered, and/or horses spurred, and you trudge downward towards a hot meal, and a warm bed and perhaps, a mystery.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56561025/original.jpg

The Gate to the Glyphstone is a well-built and prosperous tavern/inn, set up to service the travellers who came in search of its namesake - a strange, monolithic artifact from beyond the edges of time known simply as the Glyphstone. The main building is three stories tall, the bottom being devoted to the tavern area, and the upper two rooms for the weary. Two smaller buildings on either side hold yet more rooms, and storage areas - traffic can become quite crowded at certain times in the year, and it is a point of pride that the Gate never turns anyone away.
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The Tavern


The sign over the door is unusual - the item in the foreground is clearly a porticullis-style gate in black, but it is superimposed over a blurry, crude blob with lighter dots that seemes far too amateur for an establishment such as this. Shrugging, you open the doors to the largest building, and are immediately assailed by a combination of sound, smells, and heat. The sounds are pleasant, the general bustle of a busy and popular inn. The smells are delicious, those of finely cooked food and equally fine ales in copious amounts. And the heat...well, after a long and difficult journey, whether on foot or horseback, the relaxing warmth is very welcome indeed. Patrons of all shapes, sizes, races, and dresses fill the tables, including a small group of darkly robed and masked figures who huddle in a corner away from the light, hunched over what might be large tomes. Behind the bar is a tall, thin elf, who is busily filling and refilling the various tankards of the people at the counter.

The first floor of the Gate is the tavern, primarily devoted to a large, open area with a number of large tables. Smaller tables, for private groups, line the sides of the room, often occupied by adventurers or mysterious old men. The staff keep a close eye on the room, so new arrivals usually need only take a seat before a server will come and deliver them a short scroll with the latest menu, and read it to them if necessary.

1st Floor:
http://www.pbase.com/image/56511642/medium.jpg



After paying for your rooms and enjoying a hearty meal, you trudge upstairs. The rooms are conveniently numbered on the doors, so finding the one that matches your key is easy by the light of the wall-mounted lamps. Inside, it is sparsely furnished, but cozy, with a bed, table, and wardrobe, and possibly a shelf on the wall.

The second and third floors are virtually identical, cramming as many rooms in as possible. The rooms themselves are not terribly large, but comfortable enough. Rooms are cleaned daily by the staff.

2nd Floor:
http://www.pbase.com/image/56335289/medium.jpg

3rd Floor:
http://www.pbase.com/image/56335292/medium.jpg



Beyond the door, the kitchen is almost stiflingly hot. Four large ovens give off the smell of baking food, and employees prepare more food at the counters.


PC's won't normally be exploring the kitchen, unless they are on the trail of the mysterious cultists (see Quests, below). Inside, it is very busy, far too much so for anyone to take time out to talk to the PC's unless business is slow. An off-duty barmaid or two can sometimes be persuaded into sharing the latest rumors. The hatch covering the stairs to the basement is locked, requiring either the key (always on the person of Tassym Karyon, who will be very reluctant to give it up) or a DC30 Open Lock check.

Kitchen:
http://www.pbase.com/image/56513865/original.jpg



Down the stairs from the kitchen, the basement is dimly lit and gloomy. Dust in varying thickness covers everything, getting more prevalent as you move further away from the entryway.

Staff venture into the basement only to refill the liquor bottles and fetch various supplies - the former happening much more often than the latter. As such, the dust grows very thick after the second room of casks, with no footprints to mark anyone's passage. A closer look, however...

Gaming Note: If pursuing the mysterious cultists (see Quests, below), a DC25 Spot check (remember penalties for illumination) will find occasional streaks in the dust on the walls, leading toward the last storage room. Cultists going to meet in their hidden chamber use Pass Without Trace, but sometimes touch the wall to navigate in darkness. Inside the storage room, a large crate blocks the back wall. A DC25 Search check will uncover the secret door, and its oepning mechanism.

Basement:
http://www.pbase.com/image/56513868/original.jpg

Specialty Items
The menu of the Gate to the Glyphstone changes periodically, depending on the available supplies, but it is always delicious. The various stews and soups cooked by the staff are notable, and the cellars contain a vast assortment of wines, ales, and other liquors. The one standard on the menu that never changes is the House Lamb, a healthy serving of meat soaked in different sauces with vegetable garnish. The meat is always fresh, cut from the herd of young sheep in the pen nearby the tavern. They are always killed and served before their first year, but new ones always replace them, brought in from outside. There are never any adult animals kept at the Gate for long periods of time.
http://www.seasonsrestaurant.nl/pic/menu/Lamskoteletjes.jpg

The other item the Gate is noted for is one a bit more permanent than its lamb. Normally, drinks are served in simple wooden mugs, sturdy but uninteresting. But patrons who purchase a sufficient amount of food or drink are typically given a complementary mug as a souveneir to take with them when they leave. These are carved from black stone in imitation of the Glyphstone itself, though this material is a more mundance alloy of obsidian, slate, and various minerals. It remains very firm, with a shiny black luster that persists unless the mug is sufficiently dirtied to obscure it. The sides are carved with inked runes like those covering the monolith, though these are nonmagical and unchanging and simply display the name of the tavern in dozens of different languages. Each mug is carved with a unique number on the bottom, including its year of issue, and those who bring a previous year's mug to the tavern recieve their first fill free. On the inside of the mug is one final surprise, a glowing Arcane Mark inscribed on the inside at the very bottom that almost exactly matches the tavern's sign - a reminder to the owner every time they down a drink of where that cup came from.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56688599/original.jpg
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Tassym Karyon (Tass-him Kar-ee-on)
http://www.pbase.com/image/56564120/original.jpg


The apparent proprietor of the main establishment nods in greeting as you enter the building. He is an elf, with the angular features of most of his race, though even more gaunt than average. He seems perfectly normal, if a bit distant, but those eyes...the faint, barely noticable light in the background seems to hint at something underneath the surface, a slight touch of madness best left unprobed...


Tassym Karyon was a member of a fairly skilled adventuring group, who chanced upon the Glyphstone in the midst of their travels. Most of his companions were indifferent to the unnatural object (the party's druid in particular), but Tassym felt a strange attraction to it. When the team later dissolved, the elf returned to the Glyphstone to plumb its mysteries and try to learn the secrets of the arcane runes on its sides, which his Geometer learnings had convinced him held untold knowledge of magical workings.

He made a small dwelling near the stone, and soon found that he was not the only pilgrim to visit it on occasion. Other visitors came, and their natures ranged far and wide. He met some fellow Geometers, likewise trying to pierce the veil of mystery over its writings. Others were mighty warriors, who had heard of the unnatural rock of unbreakable stone and sought to test their weapons against it - many of them came, and all trudged away in defeat with the shattered fragments of their hammers and blades. A startling number were very mysterious, cloaked and often masked, arriving in silence and treating the Glyphstone as more of an idol to be worshipped, venerating it before leaving in the same quiet manner; however, Tassym took no notice of them and they rapidly faded from memory.

Occasionally, he hosted his fellow scholars, giving them food and a place to rest overnight, and after a time, it occurred to him that this could prove to be a profitable endeavour. He labored with the aid of summoned creatures and hired strong warriors to help him build a small inn, which he opened for business as a service to all who sought the Glyphstone's teachings - this point was where he began considering his enigmatic neighbor as a being, not simply an object, though the transition was totally unconscious. The inn was an excellent investment, business actually increased as visitors and patrons told others they met of the ancient artifact that now had a place for travellers to recuperate at when they arrived.

Within a few years, the Glyphstone's Gate, as it became known, had expanded to several floors, with an attached stable, and a couple of similarly minded entrepreneurs had set up shop nearby, resulting in one of the most prestigious and well-developed inns for many miles around. Bandit attacks are virtually unheard of - this may have something to do with the propensity of skilled adventurers that frequented the area, but the effect is more likely some unfathomable property of the Glyphstone itself, the aura having existed long before the inn became famous.

Now Tassym lives in his inn, overseeing the day-to-day affairs of the small community, and day by day moving millimeters towards madness borne of constant exposure to the warping influences of the Glyphstone. He has not cast a summoning spell in years, so remains unaware of his ability to summon unnatural creatures, and would likely be horrified if he found out.

(Gaming Notes:
Tassym's Stat Summary:
Grey Elf Abjurer 6/Geometer 5/Alienist 3
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 8, Int 18, Wis 9, Cha 12
Banned schools: Necromancy, Enchantment
Spellbook: Mixed for a 14th-level arcane caster, up to 7th level spells. He favors defensive spells mixed with a few powerful evocations, keeping several slots consistently occupied with Glyph and Symbol spells.
The above stats reflect the -2 Wis penalty from the Alien Blessing class feature, as well as 3 level-based boosts to Intelligence. The Glyphstone has been considered a pseudonatural creature for purposes of qualifying for the Alienist PrC, which Tassym has taken unknowingly and reflect his gradual decline into insanity rather than deliberate worship of unnatural entities.)
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The Glyphstone


The imposing black sentinel that overlooks the community drew your attention from far away. Now, up close, it is even more awe-inspiring. The sides angle and curve in directions that are absolutely impossible by conventional laws of physics, giving you a piercing headache if you stare at them too long. But easy noticable are the runes and symbols that run every which way across its surface, that seem to almost glow with an unearthly, internal light...

The Glyphstone, as the towering object has become known, is an enigma by its very nature to describe or depict. To some, it is curved and round, others view it as sharp and angular, still more find it a combination of the two. Even its size is subjective, but it has generally been accepted as less than one hundred feet in diameter (maximum, since that is the approximate size of the hilltop it sits on) and between eighty and one hundred twenty feet tall. Wise individuals do not spend too much time pondering this, but move on to the equally mysterious, but much less confusing, runes on its surface.

(Gaming note: At the DM's option, the mind-boggling effects of staring at the Stone could be represented with periodic Will saves against nonlethal damage, converting into Wisdom damage on a critical failure. Specific amounts are up to the DM.)

Some of these runes are static and unchanging, others might alter or move themselves from day to day, or more frequently. Generally, the more obscure and unintelligible the script, the more stable it is. Passages written in Common have even been observed, but they rarely last more than a few minutes, and rarely make any sense whatsoever. A handful of areas have been partially decoded by the work of countless loremasters and language experts, though being able to read the script is of little use. A majority of the writing are insane ramblings, warning of doom and apocalypse at the hands of unimaginable terrors. Others are less inflammatory and more useful, describing feats of magic not capable in the modern world, save by those who have read the runes and understood them.

(Gaming Note: The runes can be a great attraction for spellcasting PC's, and ones who make an effort to learn the secrets should be rewarded. A Decipher Script check with a severely high DC (35-50+) could grant the caster extra spell slots, a free metamagic feat, or anything else the DM chooses.)

The Glyphstone
2006-02-13, 08:52 PM
Other Buildings and NPC's
Garrick Ostermanson's Smithy

The smaller building off to the right is dreadfully hot, even more so than the tavern or its kitchen. Understandable, from the blazing forge against the back wall. A stocky, muscular dwarf of middle age pounds away at a sword on the anvil, glancing up only briefly as you enter.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56561023/original.jpg
Garrick Ostermanson was one of the periodic pilgrims to the Glyphstone, seeking to pit his skill in weaponry against the resilience of the obelisk. Each time he failed, despite the use of more and more potent metals in his creations. It became somewhat of an obsession, every copper he earned from adventuring poured into the forging of stronger weapons and the mining of more powerful ores. He tried adamantine, mithril, even an alloy containing the ultra-rare starmetal - all failed, though he remains convinced that the starmetal hammer left a dent (one that no one else can see, for some reason). Finally, he came to his senses and gave up; but by that time, he was past his prime and no longer fully suited for the life of a wandering warrior. Instead, he decided to profit from the misfortune of those as foolish as he was once - and maybe, just maybe, if someone should finally succeed in damaging the Glyphstone, he will be there to see it.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56566422/small.jpg
Gaming Note: Players can purchase most martial melee weapons from Garrick's stock, with masterwork versions or exotic weapons available on commission. He also repairs broken weapons, and is so skilled at such that the process takes half as long as normal. Garrick is a Male Dwarf 5th level Fighter/3rd level Expert with maxed-out ranks in Craft(Armorsmithing) and Craft(Weaponsmithing).

Valia Daliash, Alchemist/Sorceress Extraordinare


This building seems almost chilly compared to the others, and is relatively spacious. At least, it would be spacious, were it not crammed with shelves, tables, and cases. Every single one of these is lined with knick-knacks, trinkets, and doodads, ranging from ordinary books to scrolls to magical items of all kinds. Bustling around amidst the clutter is a half-elf woman, young and pretty. A feather quill is perched absentmindedly behind her ear, and one arm gives a small uncontrolled spasm occasionally, but when you enter the door with the ring of a bell, she turns to greet you with a decidedly keen eye.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56570278/original.jpg

Like Garrick, Valia was once a member of an adventuring group. Her significant arcane power, along with a remarkable talent for brewing magical potions, brought her and her companions great experience and wealth slaying monsters of all kinds. Their explorations ended at the hands of a marauding green dragon - Valia was the sole survivor, taken captive for amusement. She endured the dragon's cruel humor for almost two years before escaping, taking advantage of his preoccupation with yet another group of unfortunate travellers. When she found the Gate to the Glyphstone, it represented a rare opportunity. Her time with the dragon had left permanent scars, both mental and physical - she would not last long under the constant stress of heroic adventures any longer. But she retained her sharp wits and memory, along with her talent for brewing elixirs and a skillful eye for judging value, so she set up a small shop that grew into a full-grown business. She buys and sells all sorts of items from visitors to the Gate, stashing them amidst the clutter and waiting for someone else to come along with an interest.
http://www.pbase.com/image/56566430/original.jpg
Gaming Note: Treat Valia's shop as either a Small or Large Town for purposes of buying/selling items (800-3,000GP prices). Despite the tiny size of the community, she has a busy trade in magical items and devices. Anything other than weapons and/or armor can be found littering the shelves (for those, players should visit Garrick in his smithy). Valia is a Female Half-Elf Sorcerer 8/Loremaster 1. She can identify magic items with the Appraise Magic Value feat, though she charges the rates for a standard Identify spell.

Information and Quests
The following tidbits can be obtained with either Gather Information or Knowledge(Local) checks at the indicated DC's.

DC10: The Gate to the Glyphstone is a prosperous establishment with an inn and a tavern, despite being set apart from any major cities.

DC15: Nearby the tavern is a mysterious object known only as the Glyphstone, from which the tavern takes its name. Its nature is unknown, but it is said to be a source of powerful magic, and absolutely unbreakable as well.

The tavern itself is clean and comfortable, with good food, good drink, and hospitable staff. The owner is a retired adventurer, and several other former adventurers have set up shop nearby.

DC20: Covering the surface of the Glyphstone are countless runes in ancient languages, some of which have been deciphered to reveal both arcane secrets and terrible prophecies of doom and chaos.

The proprietor's name is Tassym Karyon, a Grey Elf Wizard with specialized knowledge in the nature of magical symbols and sigils - a fitting candidate to set up an inn near something like the Glyphstone. The dwarven smith owns a forge and will make weapons and repair broken ones, while the half-elf sorceress can buy or sell most minor magic trinkets.

DC30: Checks results of this level will reveal details of specific patches of the Glyphstone that were successfully unraveled, and mentions of the detrimental effects it has on the minds of those who canvass it too long.

Bits and pieces of Tassym's background, or those of Valia and Garrick, might become available, as well as the knowledge that living too close to the Glyphstone has reportedly left Tassym a few marbles short of a bag.

Quests

A party of many different levels could end up near the Gate to the Glyphstone, for any number of reasons.


At Any Level:
The Gate could be used as the tavern in the stereotypical "you all meet in a tavern" scenario.
Adventurers might go to the Gate in search of an NPC, or on the way to somewhere else. It is a notable place for scholars, warriors, and other sorts to gather, along with more mysterious and unsavory folk...

Low-Level Parties:
A minor bandit has begun harassing travellers in the area, unaware that his kind are not typically found near the Glyphstone. The PC's could be requested by Tassym to sniff out the robber, as to not disturb any of his more high-profile customers. But will the characters get the bandit, or will the unnatural effect that keeps such things as rare as they are get him first?

Mid-High Level Parties:
An elderly scholar hires the PC's to escort him on a trip to the Glyphstone. Once arriving, he turns cold and distant, paying them and demanding they leave him alone. He could be seen meeting with a group of odd, cloaked figures. Persistent questing by the PC's will reveal the existence of an alienist cult, worshipping the dark beings of the Far Realm and the Glyphstone that they believe is their master's emblem. Several members of the staff are secret cultists, and they have a hidden altar chamber in the basement. The "eccentric old man" is the cult leader, arriving to prepare for a ritual to summon some unspeakable entity.

Epic Parties:
Odd things are happening around the area of the Glyphstone...strange, terrible things. People are going mad, horrific monsters are appearing, and unnatural noises and lights emit at night from the monolith. This might be a result of the cultist's ritual (see above quest), but the truth is terrible indeed - the Glyphstone is an anchor, a beacon into the Prime Material Plane. Now its full power is awakening, serving as the focus through which the Far Realm's most horrific residents will enter and be made manifest against the puny laws of physics that govern the natural universe. A sufficiently powerful party would need to fend off the invasion, battling beings of might and malicious evil, before sealing the gate forever - perhaps even crossing into the Far Realm in the process where the normal rules of space, time, and magic are just one set amongst many.

The Glyphstone
2006-02-13, 08:52 PM
Garrick Ostermanson's portrait courtesy of http://www.howardlyon.com, used without permission.

Valia Daliash's portrait courtesy of http://nwn.stratics.com.

Tassym Karyon's portrait generated at http://www.bakedbabies.com/portraits.

All maps are crafted personally with [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION]

The Glyphstone
2006-02-13, 08:52 PM
Just in case, MORE FILLER :)

You can post now.

Sneak
2006-02-13, 09:16 PM
Just a reminder, remember to put the [TAVERN] tag at the beginning or it won't be counted. *Wouldn't want you to be disqualified so you couldn't win everything. ::) ;)

Anyway, I like it so far, but there's not much to see yet.

EDIT: OK, good, you added the tag.

The Glyphstone
2006-02-20, 08:45 PM
Update...now with pics!

Vaynor
2006-02-21, 12:45 AM
Urghhhh, you'll probably win just because of those maps....


Stupid mapmaking skill *grumble*.

Beelzebub1111
2006-02-22, 02:44 AM
A massive, monolithic "structure" of strange black stone, perched atop a short, steep hill. Decidedly non-Euclidean in its geometries, it is strangely alluring to look at, but also results in a severe headache.
Borrowing from a Mr. Lovecraft are we not?
So is it Hyperbolic or Eliptic?
All kidding aside I like it, a shoe in to win (mine dosn't stand a chance :'()

The Glyphstone
2006-02-22, 06:42 AM
Actually, I was working off of Lords of Madness, but then, they did borrow heavily from old H.P. in turn.

As for Hyperbolic vs. Eliptic...what does it look like to you? ;D

McDeath
2006-02-23, 02:33 AM
What program did you use for the maps? Me likey.

The Glyphstone
2006-02-26, 07:57 PM
Trade secret. ;D I'll tell you after the contest's over...wouldn't want anyone else stealing my thunder. :)

EDIT: Heyheyhey....more stuff to read, and MORE PICS!

Spear_of_Courage
2006-02-27, 02:36 AM
I'm sorry, but non-Euclidean geometries can't be displayed in a 3-D (or 2-D) program. Entry is out.

J/K. I'm supremely impressed with the maps and want to know your mapping secrets Glyphstone. I'm trying to make the Arena of Gath, and it'd be helpful.

Haven't had time to read the text yet, that'll come later.

The Glyphstone
2006-03-01, 07:01 PM
Done!

Read, review, and drool please!

potatocubed
2006-03-02, 09:59 AM
I really like the themed mugs. I think I'll drop one in the next lot of NPC treasure I hand out. I reckon most players will spend about three weeks convinced it's some kind of artefact and then trek halfway across the known world in order to claim their free refill. ;D

The Glyphstone
2006-03-02, 10:45 AM
;D Go for it...that'll be interesting.

As a general aside...anyone who buys/bought Lords of Madness could use the Gate and its Glyphstone as a bridging point to introduce their players to the horrors of abberations, and the things that lurk beyond the planes.

Plus, there's that Epic plot hook. What bunch of serious players would pass up the chance to lay the smackdown on Cthulu? :D

Rei_Jin
2006-03-02, 10:55 AM
I dunno Glyph, after our recent humiliation at the hands of a CR66, I don't think I'll be taking on good ol squidhead any time soon...

The Glyphstone
2006-03-02, 11:04 AM
It's all in the planning...I'm still going to make a go at the Death by Thorns touch attack - Belial seems to be being evasive on that front.

Gefangnis
2006-03-02, 03:08 PM
Shucks. Glyph, once again, wipes the floor with us. ;)

Renloth
2006-03-02, 07:04 PM
Boy, I was hopeing to win something this time, but it looks like this blows mine out of the water...

White Blade
2006-03-02, 07:48 PM
I'm gonna have to agree with Renloth... First time I really think I did well with one of these and then this and Lysander... Jeez... If there was something that involved some level of "Hey. This is an ordinary Inn with an interesting history!" we would have it but as there is not...