Monday, September 7, 2015

A Trip to Stone Mountain, Part 2 - Hevoth's Rock

    In my last post, I began to adapt my experiences at Stone Mountain into usable material for Numenera, or another weird RPG. I described the vanquished nation of Strathar, and how Hevoth's Rock came to be. In this post, I will discuss the landmark known as Hevoth's Rock as it stands in the Ninth World of the present.

Hevoth's Rock

    Hailed by many as the cultural mecca of the northeastern Pytharon Empire, Hevoth's Rock is a monument to the vanquished nation and people of Strathar. The massive rock, covering nearly a square mile, marks the site of the Battle of Rockfall, where the Stratharian Grand Chieftain Hevoth crashed his floating island into the Pytharon Legion, roughly 280 years ago.
    Although the Stratharians are effectively defunct, those who claim Stratharian heritage organized themselves into a group known as the Sons of Strathar, and declared Hevoth's Rock a holy site. A massive likeness of Hevoth was carved into the face of the rock, and pilgrims flock to the cite to worship at the carving and scale or circumambulate the rock.
    The Pytharon Empire does not approve of these activities, seeing the Stratharians as rightly destroyed savages, but they do not interfere, lest they cause a rebellion.

Map Key

  1. Fort Vigilance: This squat stone fort serves as a garrison for 200 Pytharon soldiers. When the Sons of Strathar came to prominence, this fort was constructed to keep an eye on the activities of the pilgrims and ensure that they were not planning rebellion. The commander of the fort is Commander Bellaropha (level 4, 20 hp, armor 1, attacks as level 5), an austere, judgmental Pytharon woman from a house of minor nobility. She considers the Sons of Strathar and all other pilgrims here to be disgusting savages. She keeps an eye on them to ensure there is no rebellion, but also does as little as possible to help against the dangers of the region.
  2. Hast: This ramshackle village is comprised of semi-permanent wooden huts and tents, generally housing about twice as many pilgrims as permanent residents. Merchants sell memorabilia and religious icons, and cooks shout out their cheap prices from open air kitchens. The town has no official leader and basically no laws, but almost all permanent residents are members of the Sons of Strathar, and can rouse a mob to pummel troublesome strangers.
  3. The Great Carving: Up the hill east of Hast stands a long, stone temple known as the Grand Lodge of the Sons of Strathar. Here the most esteemed elders of the Sons of Strathar live and hold counsel. There word is taken as holy writ by the other Sons of Strathar. Behind the Grand Lodge is a wide portico an a lawn that slopes down into a natural amphitheater before ending in a small pond. The rock face above shows the Great Carving, depicting Grand Chieftain Hevoth in full war regalia astride a brehm (Numenera Corebook page 163), with a flock of Stratharain war moths flying in the background. The blue-and-gold banners of Strathar line the amphitheater, and the elders conduct ceremonies, religious services, athletic games and military drills before the Carving.
  4. Margr Camp: A band of opportunistic margrs (NCB pg 244) holes up in a copse of trees just a bit southeast of the path between The Great Carving and Sklar, preying on pilgrims. Their tribe remembers the Battle of Rockfall somewhat differently, and views Hevoth's Rock as an abomination and an affront to their gods, that allegedly dwell up in the mountains. The Pytharons in Fort Vigilance know of the margr presence in the region, but do not care enough to intervene.
  5. Sklar: Another ramshackle village, similar in many ways to Hast, but with a generally less jovial and more meditative atmosphere. Here, pilgrims prepare themselves, spiritually and physically, for the climb up to the summit. There is a drab wooden temple that doubles as a hospital, and it is run by the Aeon Priest and Sklar's de facto leader, Father Loredo (level 3, Numenera and social interaction level 5). Loredo is a tough and weathered middle-aged man and the veteran of many climbs and circumambulations. In addition to being an Aeon Priest, he is also a proud Son of Strathar.
  6. Imelith's Palace: To the northeast of the Rock, beside a lake, there stands a magnificent palace of white marble, with a gilt dome. This is the home of the nano-witch Imelith (level 5, armor 1, numenera as level 6; capable of flight and limited control of war moths), formerly a scion of a wealthy merchant company and a disciple of the mystical practices of the plain folk. She seeks to recreate the "miracles" of the nano-witch Gatalla, by restoring the Rock to flight and once again taming the Stratharian war moths. She is not herself a Son of Strathar, however, and only wishes to do so for her own gratification. In her palace, she has laboratories devoted to the study of counter-gravity and the moths. She is capable of anti-gravity flight, but cannot turn it off, and floats weightlessly even at rest. She has also built a scale model of the Needle, and can control two or three war moths at a time, but her control is tenuous at best. She is self-centered, paranoid, and a bit mad, and is not above violence if it will advance her goals.
  7. Lerin's Hut: A small wooden hut stands on the western tip of the Rock, and is home to the hermitess Lerin (level 4, hunting, climbing, survival, geography as level 6), who survives by hunting and fishing in the lake. For a price, she will also lead pilgrims up an alternative pathway to the summit. Called the Accuser's Path, this path is much longer, steeper, and more arduous than the main path up from Sklar. Many pilgrims seek it out for just this reason, believing it is a better test of spiritual rigor. Secretly, Lerin is actually a mlox (Ninth World Bestiary, page 86), who keeps up the act of a spiritual hermitess to avoid suspicion.
  8. Chirog Village: A tribe of chirogs (NCB pg 235) have built a permanent settlement of burrows into a muddy hill. They swim and hunt in the depths of the lake, and sometimes swim all the way down to Hast to drag pilgrims away to eat. Like the margr, the Pytharons know of them, but do nothing. The chirogs do not care about Hevoth's Rock, aside from the fact it has brought variation to their diet. They are also deathly afraid of the hermitess Lerin from area 7. They know she is a mlox, or rather, they simply know of her strange and deadly powers from an earlier encounter, and steer well clear of that area.
  9. Temple of Human Excellence: At the summit of Hevoth's Rock is a grand stone temple built through cooperation of the Aeon Priests and the Sons of Strathar. The Temple of Human Excellence serves as a rest area to weary pilgrims having just made the climb, and holds religious services celebrating not only their achievement in climbing, but the human achievement of lifting an moving such a massive rock, which they hold as proof that humanity will one day regain all the secrets of the prior worlds. The head of the temple is Father Kedorian (level 4, numenera, history, social interaction as level 5, deception as level 6), a robust, handsome man in his mid-thirties who knows how to work a crowd. In truth, Kedorian is as devious as a politician, and secured himself this post to better study the Needle and rake in donation money.
  10. The Needle: Believed to be a transmitter to boost the signal controlling the war moths, the Needle is a nearly 100ft high tower of white metal struts, yet is only a few feet in diameter at its base. Despite the fact that the signal generators were crushed long ago along with Hevoth's castle, Stratharian war moths (NCB page 261) are still drawn to the site, and can be seen circling around it endlessly. At the base of the needle is a hole, intended as a loading hatch for deploying or retrieving moths. It leads down into the labyrinthine tunnels of the prior-world facility, but the abundance of moths makes approaching the area dangerous.

Using Hevoth's Rock

Adventure Hooks:
  1. A terrorist of the Jagged Dream (NCB pg 224) fled from Jargolamis (NCB pg 162) when his cell was discovered. He has taken up refuge among the pilgrims of Hevoth's Rock, and is planning to bomb the sacred site and blame it on Pytharon nationalists. This man was a high-ranking member, and has a large outstanding bounty on his head.
  2. Pilgrims have been disappearing from the northeastern edge of the circular path, and the Sons of Strathar would pay dearly to find out who is responsible. In truth, Imelith has been abducting them for use in her experiments.
  3. Stratharian war moths have become more and more of a nuisance throughout the southern Steadfast as of late, and giant, overgrown versions of them have begun to appear as well. Empress Challadien III has offered a substantial reward to whoever can find a solution, and one might just be found in the tunnels within Hevoth's Rock.
  4. The Angulan Knights have put out a bounty on a dangerous "mutant" that matches Lerin's description. If the players follow the trail here, they will find people who know of Lerin, but will have to deal with belligerent locals who consider Lerin a valued member of the community. Furthermore, the involvement of the Angulan Knights might be enough to rouse the soldiers from Fort Vigilance into action.
The Weird of Hevoth's Rock:
  1. Despite only being exposed for a few centuries, patches of odd purple shrubs have sprouted all over the top of the Rock, growing up through solid stone as if it were soil.
  2. A few years ago, an anonymous pilgrim who was walking up the eastern path of the Rock exploded for no apparent reason. To make matters even stranger, all of his strewn body parts maintained a semblance of life and continued to function. Those parts that were recovered had shrines built around them at the height where they were found.
  3. Strange patterns of lights can be seen in the depths of the lake, some nights. Large orbs of green and blue flash periodically, before a separate cluster of red and green flashes elsewhere, as if they were communicating.
  4. Some pilgrims have chiseled their names or other elaborate designs into the rock on the path up. On certain nights, these glow with an eerie red light.

Photo Gallery, mostly just for fun

Yes, I did climb all the way to the top.
Someone painted this stump as an eye.
I made a joke about a guy exploding, and thus, weirdness item 2.

A radio tower surrounded by vultures.
The inspiration for the Needle.
That is carved into granite. Charlie is certainly no quitter.
Inspiration for weirdness item 4.

A domed structure, taken from a scenic overlook about half way up.
The inspiration for Imelith's Palace.

    Okay, and that does it for my trip to Stone Mountain! In hindsight, climbing it was a very bad idea. I swear to god, the next time I have family members in town, I don't care what anyone says, we are going to the god damn aquarium.

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