Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ultan's Door

To the casual observer, it looks to be a normal day in Rastingdrung. As the long afternoon dwindles in the palace, manservants hurriedly polish the silver, while cooks sweat and curse, struggling to meet the Chatelaine of Storm's elaborate culinary demands. In the Temple of Ulim, church prostitutes ready themselves for another night of service in the pleasure chambers and gaming rooms above, while in the Silent Halls below, the Scarlet Censors draw up the newest list of proscribed activities intended to forestall the latest imagined heresies. Honest Rastingdrungers, lumberjacks and fishermen, return to the city, exhausted from a long day of toil, showing their black seals and matching their names to the rolls as they pass through Bishop's Gate. But amongst the city's less savory elements--criminals, poets, heretics, and thrill seeking scum--a whispered rumor has begun to spread. A printmaker named Ultan, while laying poison for rats in his shop just off the Square of Eidolons, is said to have come across a door under his stairs. Word has spread quietly that Ultan is charging 10 gold pieces a head for entrance, no questions asked.

This printmaker claims that this doorway was not there as recently as the previous day, and, even more implausibly, that it leads to the sewers of Zyan, the infamous floating city of Wishery. From reckless uncles or cruel nursemaids, all children learn the stories of Zyan, the city of porcelain abattoirs. They learn with remorse and fear about the sacrifice of naughty children to alien gods by its masked citizens, and with morbid curiosity about the deadly puppet shows of that strange city, ample sustenance to nurse their nightmares. Stories of a more fantastic and picaresque variety are shared over whiskey and bitter tea about the lush bowers of the inverted white jungle that dangles from the underside of Zyan, home to ferocious beasts, its thick foliage said to hide lost hanging temples, the lairs of seductive lamia.

If Ultan's claims prove true, such an opportunity come once in a lifetime. The last door appeared a century ago, surfacing incongruously on the oily waters of Lake Wooling. It remained open for only six months and a day, time enough for Garanax, then champion of the Chatelaine, to return from the dreamlands with a mated pair of the monstrous velvety Crows that serve now as mounts for her dread Storm Riders. Although neither a pioneer of esoteric pleasures nor pious observer of the sacraments, for his achievement he was sainted, over the clucking of the Priests. To this day the bright carvers fashion the effigy of Garanax, Saint of the Crows. At the Festival of the Sybarites, he is one of the most popular floats.

Saint Garanax 
Who knows how long the door will remain open this time? If you wish to pass through Ultan's door, I am running weekly games on G+, Thursday nights from CDT 830pm-1130pm. We will be using Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion rules. New first level human characters only, 4d6 down the line. I will post some additional classes and house rules on this blog shortly. The game will be set in my Ruined Ghinor, which you can explore under that label on this blog, although you don't need to.

EDIT: The campaign now has a community page: Through Ultan's Door. All invites and campaign posting will happen there. Drop me a line on google+ and I will gladly send you an invitation to the community.


  1. Man, I wish I could play! Friday's are out for met for a while, alas.

  2. It's convenient for me, since it's the slot that's eked out from family life for my face to face game, which is now meeting only about once a month. If I can't muster a good showing of players, I'll certainly try another date.

  3. Is adventuring not possible/feasible in Rastingdrung? It seems as magical/fantastical as Zyan it's self - what advantage to adventurers have going there than now?

    1. The initial conceit of the campaign was that every session was another trip through the door. This allowed it to be a focused hangouts game in its early phases. But, over time, the party has both moved towards much longer excursions through the door, and also played more in Rastingdrung.

      In fact, most of the last two sessions was spent in the waking world. In the session before last, the party had to fight their way through organized forces from Zyan Above to get to Ultan's Door. They think the Hidden King may be reclaiming the area around the door in order to stop their excursions into Wishery, or for some other reason. This development, and the threat of a possible organized force coming through the door, allowed them to scare Ultan into selling them his print shop for a high fee, but well within their price range. They also resolved a longtime blackmail threat from Almurek the beastmaster third apprentice to the Chatelaine.

      In the last session, Salinger won the opportunity to perform one his dances for the Chatelaine and her royal guests, at the Festival of the Sybarites. While the rest of the party caroused in the drug and pleasure dens above, Salinger went poking around in the "Gaming Rooms" of the Temple of Ulim and was ambushed there by a long time rival who he slew. In other words, a lot is going on in Rastingdrung right now.

    2. Here's the campaign news I posted in preparation for the last two sessions in Rastingdrung:

      Here's the campaign news I posted for the last two sessions, which will give you a sense of Rastingdrung in play:

      The sights and sounds of Rastingdrung wash over you, a welcome homecoming after journeys parlous and absurd. The city is a bustle with preparation for the coming Festival of Sybarites. The streets have begun to swell with foreign dignitaries, having purchased their festival tickets early for an extended debauch. The Crimson Censors are about, stirred to great vigilance by the usual paranoia about foreigners, but suddenly strangely powerless.

      Court gossip is focused squarely on Lord Kex of Viridistan, nephew to the World Emperor. He came two weeks ago in a swaying palanquin atop a white elephant, accompanied by a mighty entourage. His bare green chest and unnaturally tall and graceful form have become a fixture around the court. Fishwives state with great certainty that he has been sent to seal through marriage the World Emperor’s alliance with the city state. Civic pride prevents them from asking what his interest in an alliance with this backwater might be.

      Business booms in the Temple of Ulim, which is decked in holiday finery. Foreigners eager to taste the pleasures on offer are met by a mix of prostitutes, some experienced in the byways of delectation and other fresh from the slave boats, stunned and terrified. As is to be expected, entertainers of all kinds, acrobats and mountebanks, jongleurs and stiltsmen, are in high demand at the Temple, and will be through the festival.

      The Mercury Whistle—that redoubt of foreigners, poets, and those of dubious orthodoxy—where the party first heard the whispers about Ultan’s door, has reopened its doors. Although its owner, old Ludlow went down to the White Halls in one of the periodic roundups of undesirables, his son Peters has taken up the mantle. The characters from this waking world know and like him. He has a wandering eye and is a great teller of stories, none of which are true. The bar is in the dilapidated neighborhood of Chanticleer.

      Old men sit smoking from their long pipes as they always do, sipping bitter tea, and playing at shards in the small courtyard cafes. They gossip relentlessly about the floats and effigies for the Blasphemer’s Parade, and chuckle at the growing anxiety of the censors who will soon be running the Gamut. But today their normal chatter has dried up. For eerily, yesterday literally all of the fishers’ nets came up empty. Being a superstitious lot, the old men view this as a great ill omen. Some whisper that the Bishop, the mythical talking fish of Lake Wooling, has called his congregation to a great sermon deep in the oily waters. Others that he has recalled them to safety against some terrible threat.