I like to use as much source material as I can for my world and the area we are in now is pretty Greek/Roman and set just after the height of the Greecian Hero age (whatever the heck that is!!).
The settled eastern section of the Duchy is sort of like Hellenic Athens with towers and columns and marble and civilization everywhere - while the west is more proto-typical D&Dish mish-mash of eras/cultures - frontier-like at best.
But one of the things I do like to do is make sure the world and culture the group adventures in is typical of the area.
Unleash the Kraken.
I had the Kraken plucked by Erazmus some time ago and kept out of sight until the wizard-lord would think to need it. Lulled into slumber by three lake hags whose job it is to keep it somnolent two of the hags had left or are missing after Erazmus' death and the one remaining was killed by the party. Her death awoke the Kraken but it was still limited and cannot go anywhere. Awake but bored and disinterested from decades plus of forced slumber and ensconcing in the lake.
And then the group dropped the dam. Which energized the area and released the Kraken.
This is a world event for this area and I've spent the last week or so fleshing out the time line and impact from this release and how it's going to affect the Kingdom, trade, and im/emigration for the short and mid term foreseeable future.
Write up follows:
It was almost 2 PM on Icemonth the 3rd and most of the original group had crossed the small dammed lake north of Castle Sterling to investigate the Dam Control House situated there while the remaining members and hirelings/henchmen were still at the Castle clearing out the garden beds in effort to stretch our existing food stores. We climbed off the single masted sloop and picked our way over the snow covers swampy ground until we found ourselves at the dam house.
The entire building was made of stone and constructed as part of the dam itself. The ground sloped heavily away from here and we could hear the icy water as it rushed over the top and sluiced down to the frothing river below. There were no windows on this side and we didn’t find any other way to enter.
After verifying the front door was closed and not locked (no key hole), we did discover it was held and most likely stuck in place. So it took a few of us prying, banging, and bashing at the door before something cracked from the other side and the portal scraped open.
Which sadly released for us a terribly horrific female figure. She was almost 7’ tall, white and blue veined watery skin and algae colored hair. Her mouth was a torn black and red gash in the center of her face and as she emerged a horrible keening filled the air where two of the party dropped to their knees in agony, ear bleeding and the rest of us rocked back as if stunned. She then turned and tried to run for the lake.
Steiner was able to keep his wits about him and before she could reach the water as she scrambled through the snow he called to Apollo and a blast of black paralytic energy flew from his hand and slammed into her – stunning her and freezing her limbs as she was held and then fell over onto her face. The screaming stopped, only a whistling noise was heard from her compressing throat. The group that could still move ran up to the hag, turned her over, and dropped axe and sword on her neck until her head fell away.
Some first aid was administered at this time but while we were on the shore, we noticed in the center of the lake a silent and eerie 10’+ long tentacle rise up, flop over and come back down. What the hell? We watched and it didn’t repeat, so with Erd keeping a careful lookout we approached the dam house.
The upper floor was empty but you could tell that at one point there were furnishings here. The floor was damp, and we could see three bodies hanging from the ceiling, heads removed, arms missing, and strips of flesh chewed up and taken away. Ugh.
There was a set of round stairs going down and we approached. It was dark so a light spell was cast on a rock and then dropped down. There was some sort of seaweed about halfway down and it was still moist. We descended with caution and when we got to the weeds, we knocked them further down the circular steps until at long last we arrived at the lower level.
There were some bones here and torn bits of clothing, the odd shoe. Two windows looked out into the lake and the room smelled damp and musty. A 5’ diameter circle of stained stone was on the far wall and the side wall was covered in a variety of levers, wheels, and other controls which we assumed worked the dam. A detect magic spell revealed that two of the wheels were very magical and that the drawn circle on the wall was also radiating some arcane energy.
We talked about options and decided that this might be beyond our skills and knowledge – we should get Marcus. From here we heard Erd calling out to us that the tentacle had come back again and that something was going on with the hag’s body. When we emerged once again to the sun the tentacle had gone but the hag had begun to rot very quickly, her body turning into a slurry of blue and pink froth and sloughed from her bones. And from where she had died, her form was heading for the lake. Tranis and Steiner tried to dig a trench ahead of the rotting hag but realized it wouldn’t stop it for long. So the decision was made to move the rotting body and with nowhere else to move it, they each took shovels and began scooping up chunks of the hag and slinging them into the open door of the dam house.
The gory disgusting work went on for 3 scoops until the rotting hag devoured something of the shovels and both adventurers were left holding a 3’ length of wood with a handle. Forget it, just leave it for now.
We climbed back on the boat and decided that going back into the lake was most like a stupid assed idea. What was the tentacle? We don’t know and didn’t want to find out. The thought was that the sloop can go overland and we were going to steer it down the slope and to the other side of the dam and then river where we would sail to the castle and then cross the river there.
It took Steiner some effort to getting the ship to move and it sluggishly went around the dam house, towards a safer section of the ground, and furrowed its way down the 30 degree angle slope. However the boat was slowing and slowing and then sort of..stopped. We were on a boat that was now listing to port, 80’ from the river, pointed sort of downhill and no longer moving as per magic. We checked the box with the heart – it was still there. The metal rock banded to the transom? Still in place. The bilge? Opened it up and it was faintly odorous and bare except for the bilge water down there.
The boat was “feline” based as per Flimflam, so did it need to eat? There was no obvious mouth anywhere and we thought about dragging it overland towards the river – 5 men, 1 woman dragging a sloop across over a foot deep snowy swampy ground. This was not going to easy if at all possible. Flimflam went through his back and found an animal femur he had been carrying for some time. He looked down and through the open bilge tossed the femur into the water within.
Nothing seemed to happen and then the femur began to hiss and dissolve as the water seemed to eat it. It grew pocked and pitted and then sunk beneath the inky water. To Steiner, the body groaned, righted itself a few feet, crawled forward a foot, and then settled back in place.
We needed to feed the boat.
The bodies in the dam house up the hill.
So three of us trudged their way back up the hill through the snow, picked their way past the rotted chunks of the hag’s flesh, lifted the decapitated bodies from their hooks in the rafters, and dragged them outside once again in order to bring them back to the boat. All the way Geld and Avidius were disgusted and questioning the right of what we were doing. Who were they? The hag had eaten them but where did they come from? Was this an evil act? Taking the bodies and willingly feeding them the bilge of the Sloop?
We pulled the bodies up on deck and a few words were said, then the bodies were lifted over the narrow bilge opening and shoved in one at a time, wiggling them back and forth to clear the sides until they splashed one at a time to the water. Then the miracle occurred twice more where both bodies were first skeletonized and then the bones were devoured in a few minutes.
We all got back on the boat, drew ourselves together (the scout and henchman still really bothered by what just happened) and Steiner got the sloop to obey his controls again. The sail filled up and the sloop righted and dragged its way through the earth until we were down the slope before we turned back to the river and entered it with a splash of joy. The sloop was then piloted towards Castle Sterling where we draped it up on land past where the former landing pier once was. Liscinia was on the top of the tower, waved to us, and yelled down the courtyard to let us in.
Once all together again it was decided that we head back to the lake, get the barge, and try to open the dam to allow us to take the barge off the lake as well. There was also that code that had been scratched in the flop desk and we assumed that was what would lower the dam. Also, we wanted Marcus to come with us since he had a better handle on magic over anyone else and he might be able to tell us what the circle on the wall was for as well as the two wheels that were radiating magic. Geld was very put off about the people eating boat and opted to stay. We split up the 12 people still here with half at the gardens and the rest at the tower getting it ready for tonight.
It was almost 4 when the party returned to the dam (Erd, Marcus, Steiner, Tranis, Flimflam, and Avidius) and we then trudged back to the boathouse and made our way inside. We all boarded the barge and opened the door. There was no tentacle but the group was very observant and concerned. We took the barge out with 4 people rowing and made our way near the dam and to the opposite shore. Once here we disembarked and tied up the barge at a stand of cypresses as well as tossing the anchor overboard.
Steiner opted to stay on the boat at the rudder while the rest of us made our way to the dam house and inside. We returned to the bottom stairs and then had Marcus check everything out. The circle on the wall was most like translocation but he was unsure how to operate it. And the two wheels were numbered 1 to 10 and had to do with earth magic.
We tested the wheels a bit. The left one seemed to raise and lower the sluice gates, making the river rise and fall accordingly. Erd stayed up top and was yelling down to us what the effect was. The right wheel didn’t do anything BUT we noted that if the right wheel was turned to a number first, turning the left wheel to the same number did NOT adjust the height of the river.
We discussed entering the code (4763) with both wheels and decided to do it. But who would? It was settled on Avidius taking the chance while the rest of us retreated to the barge and got ready for anything. They climbed on board, left the rope ladder hanging over the edge, and four of them went down below decks to man 4 of the oars.
Avidius entered the code, right wheel then left wheel, one number at a time and then the last one was turned in place.
There was a crack of thunder and roar. Clouds filled the sky and swirled over the center of the lake. Lighting struck down and smote the surface of the lake.
The dam seemed to have disappeared and the lake was emptying at a phenomenal rate into the river, swelling the bank and sending millions of gallons of water racing downstream. Avidius was running up the stairs and out of the dam house where his friends on the barge were yelling at him to hurry. He hurled himself up the rope and the anchor was raised as the barge swung wildly on the new current.
But it was the vision of the tentacle monstrosity that was lifting itself from the center of the lake and moving with fast speed towards the former dam. Its bulk rose higher and tremendous squid like kraken arched over the bounding water and rode the rising swell downriver past the party’s stunned gaze, The oars were digging in and keeping us to the diminishing shallows for now as the lake dumped itself down.
But it was the sight of the kraken tumbling/galumphing/rolling/swarming down the Black Water River that captured everyone’s attention. We watched from our position as its tentacles reached out and slammed into Castle Sterling, crumbling one of the towers, ruining the south wall, and slamming into the next tower where we could see figures falling from it. Figures that were our people still there.
We still could not risk the dam as the current would most likely rip the barge to shreds so we had to wait it out and watch as the kraken soared down the river along with perhaps a billion gallons plus of lake water on its way…to Helm Lake.
And points beyond.
What have we done?