Mar 16, 2012

Places to Go: The Cauldron

Hexes 1107, 1108, 1208, 1209, 1308, 1309, 1310, 1311, 1409, 1410, 1411, 1412, 1509, 1510, 1511, 1610, 1611, and 1710 on the Cauldron and Hinterland map

The Cauldron was once a massive sea floor trench, but when the ancient seas receded, it became a verdant, humid wetland. The bottom of the chasm is over 500m on average from the top, with steep cliff walls and a spectacular waterfall at the southern end called the "Skywater". There are a few tracks here and there that wind down, with the widest and shallowest in 1311 and the second easiest in 1107. The chasm has several large deposits of red glass in it, which draws treasure seekers looking to make a fortune and the agents of Jarek the Snake.

The Cauldron is much hotter and wetter than the surrounding plains. It is often completely clouded by fog which the wind lifts off in great drifting clouds, giving the place its name. Down on the abyssal plain, there is a complex rainforest whose canopy combined with the high walls keeps the floor of the chasm shrouded. The Cauldron is densely populated with animals otherwise not found outside the Great Forest, as well as many monsters who have made their way down the paths from the Hill of Release.

1410 and 1510 are an unnamed endorheic freshwater lake. It is inhabited by a godfish smuggled across the plains by the Men from Across the Desert, as they are wont to do. The godfish's temple name is Ab-Xal-Inth (it of course, has no use for the names mere mortals dare to give it). It has begun to use its malign psychic powers to seize control of the creatures who come to the lake to drink. As with all godfish, its greater agenda is incomprehensible to mere mortals, but undoubtedly it shows the signs of the megalomania typical to such creatures.

In the northern part of the canyon (1107, 1108, 1208 and 1209), the most frequently encountered creature is a rusty golem known to the few who journey to the Cauldron as "The Rust Spider". Created during High Kaddish's short-lived experimentation with magical automation, it is roughly humanoid with ten arms, and about four times the height of a man, with thick plates of rusted iron scales covering its body. The golem desires to bring all projects to completion in a timely and efficient manner. A passing philosopher once explained the goal of ethical living to it as "to die well" and became the first victim of the golem's eager assistance in this regard.

1311 contains a sessile predatory hut, originally created by the soul-forgers in one of their inscrutable exercises of sadistic whimsy. The hut is capable of swelling itself from a cozy cottage to a large hall depending on the number of travelers. Its breath smells of roast duck, and its feces resembles stacked cords of firewood. Once the party is safely inside, they can find several pitcher-glands containing alcohol laced with soporifics. If they go to sleep, the creature crushes the floor and roof of its mouth (the inside of the room) together to crush them for better digestion. The creature can be recognised when its eyes are "open", as the roof tiles that serve as eyelids flip up.

The Black Eagle Tribe has set up a hunting encampment in 1412 at the top of the trail leading down to the Cauldron. There are between 30 and 50 elves, gnolls and humans of various ages there at any given time, hunting, scavenging and preventing fools with death wishes from journeying to the bottom of the cavern.

A mad hermit lives in 1710. He has no magical powers or talents except for one - he cannot be affected by magic. Even he doesn't know why. He knows where many of the deposits of red glass are, though he is extremely concerned about the godfish and will demand that anyone who wishes a guide first slay it. The godfish has received many new humanoid servants as a result of this request.