Perhaps after a couple of hours of marching in circles near the peak a traveler might see something strange - an over-sized seed with an eye (painted?) on it, lying in the dust. It's about as big as a tennis ball, and not much heavier.
Soon the seeds are everywhere.
Then the travelers stumble upon the town.
MOUNTAINTOP VILLAGEThe town is deserted and has been for a long time. There are seeds all over, banked up against the houses and blowing through the street.
The houses all have high, steep roofs and if any of their warped old doors are broken down (or their blackened windows smashed), it will be revealed that these buildings house not people but gigantic cloudbusting arrays. Naturally, no-one without a degree in orgone biophysics will recognize them for what they are. To the uneducated the arrays will merely register as a fuckload of gears and a big antenna pointed at the sky.
By the town square is a cathedral that stands far higher than all the other buildings. It can be seen from almost any point around the town. It has no doors or windows.
In the middle of the square itself is a well with a corpse slumped against it. By the corpse is the empty well bucket. Close examination will reveal flecks of gold around the corpses mouth, with patches of gold continuing all the way down the esophagus. (You could eviscerate this person and add a gold stomach to your inventory, if you felt so inclined. This could be the person you were sent to find as some kind of plot hook perhaps?)
The well is dry. It is a simple matter to climb down.
THE DUNGEONThere are a few recurring elements to this dungeon. If one of these elements is missing from a room, you can be sure that it will only be a room or two away at most.
- Strange seeds. Everywhere.
- Incomprehensible machinery.
- Imposing iron doors, clearly controlled by aforementioned machinery.
- Stone gutters running across the floor.
- Murals depicting scenes from The Bachae.
Everything is clean. The rooms and corridors are well lit, from something like neon lights in the ceiling. The immense doors are barred. The machines are (mostly) silent.
There are corpses patrolling these clean, well lit corridors. They jerk around like inexpertly operated marionettes in the performance of their custodial duties. Their naked bodies are marked with gold; usually their torsos or their heads.
They will attack eventually if the intruders are dickheads and make a mess, but will fight sooner if anyone attacks them or starts turning one of the wheels by the gutters. They are armed with GILDING GRENADES. Being hit by a gilding grenade is incredibly painful and often lethal. The gilding is difficult to reverse. If they run out of grenades they will resume combat as per normal for corpses. If there is a fresh body about when a corpse is destroyed, its parasite will simply move into its new home begin afresh.
Turning the gutter-wheels releases water into the gutters. If the gilded corpses are unable to prevent this they will scrabble like mad to throw the seeds out of the gutters - to no avail. As the water hits the seeds the water will form around the seeds into small, humanoid figures, with rolling eye-seeds at their center. These things will clamber out of the gutters and begin to wreak havoc for the gilded corpses.
Any and all seeds will come alive when they come into contact with one of three elements: water, sulfur and gold. Each type annihilates one other type on contact in a rock paper scissors fashion and whichever currently runs the vault will change it to suit themselves. The vault can be changed by operating machinery manually or by exposing a bunch of seeds to the desired element and watching them take over. Seeds will awaken more seeds with their own element.
- Can squeeze through small spaces.
- Run the basic machines.
- Will destroy Gold Seeds in order to take control of the vault.
- Are destroyed in turn by Sulfur Seeds.
- When in control will shut off the lights, open the doors and pump sulfur through the gutters.
- Well set the cloudbusting arrays to make it rain on the mountain contstantly. This will transform every seed on the mountain.
- Fuck things up.
- Burn constantly with blue flame.
- Operate the interesting machines.
- Will destroy Water Seeds in order to take control of the vault.
- Are destroyed in turn by Gold Seeds.
- When in control will turn off the ventilation, activate all the most insane and dangerous machines, fight everyone and anyone in the vault, or on the mountain and pump gold through the gutters.
- Will set the cloudbusting arrays to rain fire from the sky.
- When the seeds are immersed in gold they become an incorporeal ball of light, invisible in well lit areas.
- Gold Seeds can enter a corpse and animate it from within.
- Implacable and emotionless.
- Will destroy Sulfur Seeds in order to take control of the vault.
- Are destroyed in turn by Water Seeds.
- When in control will turn on the ventilation and the lights, close the doors and keep the place clean.
- Will set the cloudbusting arrays to push clouds away from the mountain, preventing all rain.
Water seeds can flow into these machines and operate them from inside, but anyone could use them by cracking open the outer casing and pulling the wheels themselves. They do things like open doors and power conveyor belts.
Interesting machines are powered by Sulfur Seeds.
- PORTAL TO A BETTER WORLD. There is a suspended lead sheet in the top of the cathedral, strung up with electrodes. When powered by a sulfur elemental the sheet is turned to molten gold. Walking through the gold leads to somewhere really cool. In my campaign it allows back up the chain the adventurer's home, which is exceedingly rare.
- HALLUCINATION GENERATOR. Allows you to see the worm.
- INVENTION INVENTOR. Shoots out mechanical inventions on the hour, every hour. Most are useless.
- BENTHIC BELL. Awakens the Restless Harem, and allows them to maintain their corporeality as they hunt intruders.
- FONT OF ETERNAL LIFE. Sickly pink goop.
The maze is a testing chamber for terrible things.
There is a control panel for the maze in the secret observation room. There are knobs that control the temperature of the walls, their impenetrability, their colour, whether they emit light or absorb it, and how great is the gravity between the walls. Both extremes of each knob is deadly.
There is a helmet with a big spike on the inside of it and lots of knobs on the back. The knobs function just like those in the control room of the maze, except for the thing that's brain has been spiked by the helmet. It is very possible to survive this process.
THE MIDAS STONE