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Necropolis of Pergia
An Adventure for 5th-7th Level Characters
Thousands of years ago the area now known as the Wastes of Torenta was ruled by a powerful kingdom. Almost nothing is now left of that race, save for a few crumbling, blasted ruins. Even its memory is all but lost. Legend--and a few remaining artifacts--tell that the rulers of this kingdom were a race of minotaurs, though if that's true they were almost certainly a breed more intelligent and social than those that remain in this era.
It would seem that the wastes were not always the desolate and barren place they have become, for the ruins of the lost kingdom are scattered far and wide over leagues of desert and arid steppes. And though most of the lost kingdom's ruins contain little beyond a few crumbling walls and toppled columns, some also contain worn fragments of forgotten monuments and great statuary.
Among these desolate and generally ignored ruins, one stands out. It can be found at the edge of the Pergia highlands in a narrow gorge leading to a sinkhole--a wide pit descending deep into the barren stone. Some say that a mystic power can still be sensed at this site and, on occasion, it is still sought out by spellcasters looking for a site of power in which to perform complex or powerful rituals. The denizens of the lost kingdom apparently held the site in some reverence, for they chose it as a burial place for the greatest among them. The walls of the gorge are pitted with the tombs and crypts of these heroes from a forgotten age.
This necropolis has long been a magnet for adventurers and treasure-seekers, though over the centuries these visitors have picked the complex bare of its valuables. Indeed, it is now attractive mainly to those scholars seeking to glean bits of information about this ancient culture--or those following vain and foolish rumors--for all the great treasures of the site are as gone and forgotten as the ancient kings and priests of the lost kingdom.
Or are they?
There remain pervasive rumors of lost or hidden crypts, of tombs within tombs that have never been discovered. Could such chambers contain the true wealth of the once-mighty lost kingdom? The PCs come to the necropolis following one such rumor, but one that just happens to contain a grain of truth and may allow the group to stumble into more than they ever expect.
The true history of the Necropolis of Pergia begins thousands of years before even the lost kingdom. Beneath the necropolis, beneath the sinkhole, far down in the earth, lies a series of fissures in the veil that separates the natural world from the Realm of Echoes. Ripples in the fabric of reality around these fissures create faint eddies of supernatural power that lend a subtle mystic aura to the area--an aura that has made the site a place of importance for successive civilizations over the course of aeons. It would certainly continue to be so today if the growth of the Torenta Wastes hadn't made the location so inhospitable and far away from the hubs of modern civilization.
Before the lost kingdom of the minotaurs, another race built its mystic structures upon this site, developing a temple complex within the sinkhole. Realizing the source of the supernatural eddies lay further underground, these precursors dug shafts and mines down toward the fissures, ultimately reaching them--and then disappearing, perhaps having been destroyed by what they found.
These tunnels and passageways were forgotten in the era of the lost kingdom, laying unused beneath the feet--and the tombs--of the minotaurs. For the most part, the minotaurs centered their activity around the lip of the sinkhole, which became the site of a holy oracle. By the end of the minotaur kingdom, even rumors of the passageways had died out, and the world truly forgot them.
In recent years two forces have returned activity to the site.
First, a new oracle has returned to the sinkhole--an insane ogre hermit. This unusual creature now lives in the heart of the necropolis, where she communes with the voice of the sinkhole for reasons known only to her, if indeed even she truly understands them.
But that is not all. A group calling itself the Blind Cabal has been investigating the chambers deep below the sinkhole, drawing upon the power of the rift and the Realm of Echoes. The Blind Cabal has a plan and, should it come to fruition, it might unleash upon the world the same dark forces that brought an untimely end to the lost kingdom of the minotaurs, the precursors before them, and perhaps an untold number of other civilizations back through the course of antiquity.
What has drawn the PCs to the Necropolis of Pergia? One way or another, it should center around a document (see the handout) that tells them the following:
It is written of Garlenthatir, the greatest of the minotaur kings, that the key to his lost tomb lies in onyx and pearl. Bear such treasures to his crypt and they shall admit you to his great rewards, which have ever been sought but never found!
There are any number of ways that the PCs can gain this document. To make a smooth transition where, hopefully, the PCs decide on their own that they want to explore the necropolis, use one of the following options (or a method of your devising) to insert the document into an earlier adventure.
* The parchment is mixed in with a treasure hoard.
* The heroes win the parchment in a game of chance.
* The parchment is discovered hidden within the binding of a book in which the heroes are doing research.
* An employer attempts to pass the parchment to the heroes in lieu of a payment owed, claiming it is worth far more than their fee.
* The parchment is the McGuffin in an earlier adventure; a mysterious item that several parties are seeking. Its nature and content is only discovered when the heroes finally win it.
Researching the Necropolis: Characters may wish to learn a bit about the necropolis before deciding to act upon their clue. What they find out depends on the depth of their research and the resources at their disposal.
Basic information can be found through a number of means, including common rumors, the use of Diplomacy to gather information (if it is available), or a Knowledge (history) check (DC 20). Basic information includes the location of the necropolis, along with the following:
* There was once an ancient kingdom of minotaurs, but it was forgotten after being swallowed up by the Wastes of Torenta a thousand years ago.
* The necropolis is a deep gorge with tombs in the walls. The tombs used to be filled with fabulous wealth, but they've long ago been completely looted.
* There are always rumors of "hidden" tombs containing greater wealth, but nothing new has been found in centuries. Only a fool would believe such rumors.
* The area around the necropolis is some sort of mystical junction--arcanists sometime seek out the strange powers of the region.
* Like most wilderness areas, the necropolis is home to strange and dangerous creatures.
Greater detail can be found through more thorough research, including Knowledge (history) checks hitting DC 25:
* Garlenthatir was the greatest of the minotaur kings.
* The necropolis was built at the site of a sacred shrine and oracle, revered by the minotaurs.
* One would expect the key to entering Garlenthatir's tomb to be leaving tribute of value commensurate with his stature--an onyx or pearl worth several hundred gold pieces at least would be needed.
Advanced results might be determined via a legend lore spell or similar effect, or a DC 30 Knowledge (history) check:
* Garlenthatir believed he was descended from the original minotaur, the child of the goddess of day and the god of the night.
* The oracle site is in a deep sinkhole. It was a sacred site not just to the minotaurs, but to races and civilizations that preceded them as well.
There are 40 encounters in The Necropolis of Pergia.
There are no random encounters in The Necropolis of Pergia.
Click here for a map of the Necropolis.