Hi all! I finally got it finished. My first attempt at a free Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure that I built on top of Matt Jackson’s awesome map. It is entitled The Serpent People of Skiterborne Swamp.
You can download it from that link right above there. Need some convincing? Well then here is the background for you to look at. If you use it, can you let me know how it goes over 🙂 Keep rolling.
Aeons ago before the world’s seas settled and the ice caps were born the surface was a much hotter, primordial place. It was at this time that the serpent people ruled the lands of the world, active in the perfect conditions. They were ruled by the priesthood to the great Serpent God, Athississ who led the civilisation from strength to strength.
The great cities of the serpent people dominated the lands for three millennia until the world began to cool and the seas began to settle. The lands had almost formed into the lands that the people of today would recognise. The Great God Athississ recognised the decline of his people were near and warred with the other gods to return the heat to the soil to no avail.
Heroes of the people that would rise came from the coasts into the deserts at the will of the young Gods to chase the serpent away from the surface. Envoys of these young Gods were so successful that the great God imbued an Avatar of itself in defence of the secret high temple’s libraries in the jewel city of Ssarth. Here a great battle was fought for the future of the serpent people and they were defeated. The still beating heart of Athississ’ avatar was carved from its chest and imprisoned in a crystal chest of great size.
The body of the avatar crawled away into the darkness below the surface, leading its people into the darkness to carve out dens beneath the surface so that the race could enter a torpor that would end when the great God Athississ was again at full strength. The heart that was now stored in the chest of crystal stored the essence of Athississ and maintained the ever beating heart. If the seals that bound the chest were ever to be broken then Athississ would be returned to full power and with his rise the serpent people could rise to rule again.
With the exodus of the serpent people and the rise of the young races much of this lore was lost. The crystal chest was entombed in the heart of the library of Ssarth and the city was set to burn, falling to rubble. Cities of the serpent people all over the world fell to ruin. The young races came across them as ancient discoveries and tried to fathom the origin of such ruins but few scholars ever accurately identified these ruins for what they truly were.
For every ruined city that was discovered there were three that collapsed and were swallowed whole by the world or the young races cared not for the history and simply built on top of the civilisation of ancient times.
Athississ has been ever present though and building in strength by lies and falsehoods. His active agents insinuated the young races societies and disguised their God in the guise of those races so that he could build worshippers again. Every prayer and offering allowed Athississ that smallest grace, that little push back to power. Over a millennia he became capable of discerning the location of his lost essence finally. With that power returned to his form he would be greatly empowered and the serpent people could begin their rise again.
The agents of Athississ had narrowed down the location of the crystal chest and manipulated a seer and great sorcerer Xantor the Insane with promises of texts ancient and arcane. Xantor sought a group that could go in his stead as he rarely left his own towers deep in the swamps of Bischoof. The promise of gold and fame drew many with Xantor forming a group of the best that arrived.
Through the directions that the agents had given Xantor the adventurer’s struck out deep into the underworld of the city Goff, which sat atop the ruins of the once great city of the serpent people, Ssarth.
The group were badly beaten by creatures drawn to darkness and only three of the eight survived. From the sewers of Goff they climbed out with the specific books that Xantor had been after, strange weapons shaped like fangs and entwined with poison magic and a giant crystal chest with the still beating heart of a God’s avatar, though they did not know this.
Xantor paid them their due and allowed them to keep all that they had found apart from the chest and the books. Devouring the books, first as alinguist and then secondarily as a sorcerer Xantor the Insane used his knowledge to unwind the threads of the magic that had sealed the chest. The threads were tenuous but his magic was strong and a few short weeks ago Xantor released the final thread of magic and the crystal chest flung open.
The heart of the chest stopped beating as the essence of the avatar was released and overpowered Xantor, possessing his body and leaving his tower as a ruin. In a short week the essence was devoured again by the remnant of the avatar and Athisssiss was once again whole.
Throughout the underworld of the continent, indeed the planet, the restoration has been felt in the minds of those high priests of Athississ. They have slowly been awakening from their torpor like state and one by one leading their brethren back to the upper layers of the world. They must first restore the race and restore the temples for the numbers of the young race are now many and the serpent people are weak. In time they will again be strong.