Here is the final post in this year's A to Z Challenge series, which describes 26 different locations in the World of Samardan campaign setting, one for each letter of the alphabet. (There will be other location posts, but this one is the last of the Challenge posts.) Z is for the Ziggurat of Moradan.
(hex) Ziggurat of MoradanAmbiance: A stepped pyramid of weathered black stone rising up from the wastelands, this ancient structure feels even older than most sites of the Ancient Ones. It is a cold, desolate structure, with steps rising to the apex along the slant height. The casing stones at the top have been pulled aside to reveal a narrow stairwell that descends into the depths of the ziggurat.
History: Also known as Moradan's Folly, this ancient structure has been the site of many deaths in the name of greed. Pansanu Hiko Moradan, convinced that great wealth lay deep within this ancient ziggurat, led numerous expeditions within, only to emerge with a handful of survivors unwilling to speak of the untold horrors they witnessed. None have dared enter the structure after Pansanu Hiko Moradan failed to return from his last trip within, although other warlords occasionally jest at mounting an expedition themselves to go after the fabled treasure.
Encounters: The ziggurat is loaded with traps, as well as puzzle rooms that appear to be designed to perplex and torment all who enter into it. Synthetic men mutely provide general maintenance for the site, and will direct visitors to various puzzle chambers in a jovial manner. The synthetic men appear to be in a losing battle against desert vermin that have entered into the complex since the casing stones were removed several decades ago. Common encounters are vermin swarms, unusual traps and helpful synthetic men.
Treasure: Rumors of great treasures found within the Ziggurat of Moradan are not unfounded. There's a wealth of repair components and power crystals to be discovered within the complex. In addition, a semi-functional synthetic man production plant exists in the lower-most level of the complex, waiting to be discovered. Aside from the scientific knowledge that could be recovered, more conquest-oriented leaders might view this as a possible source for slaves and possibly soldiers.
Adventure Hooks: Adventure hooks for this site could include the following:
- A mute synthetic man has been found wandering in the wastelands. The crystalline tool it carried caused a Rakrani scholar of the Ancient Ones to urgently solicit guides to track it back to its point of origin.
- It is a rite of passage in some Husrani tribes that the youth coming of age must visit the Ziggurat of Moradan and return with a symbol of their visit. Recently, one Pansanu's heir did not return, and he seeks "volunteers" to explore the depths of the Ziggurat looking for his son.
- Kudiso Moradan, grandson of the famous Pansanu Hiko Moradan, has a standing reward for any information related to locating his grandfather or revealing the mysteries of the Ziggurat of Moradan.
- The Brotherhood of the Black Pyramid, a fanatically order of Rakrani scholars and cultists, believe that within the Ziggurat of Moradan lies a gateway to a heavenly afterlife. They are recruiting mercenaries to protect an expedition to find the Heavenly Gate.
- The town drunkard claims to have found an ancient map, partially obliterated by the passage of time, which shows portions of the interior, and he's willing to sell it for an evening of wine and revelry. One of the chambers within appears to contain large golden idols.
My inspiration for this site was an amusement park. I tried to imagine what an amusement park might look like for the Ancient Ones, and then how that same image would look in the eyes of someone who had never lived in a culture that could conceive of an amusement park. Android staff, unable to speak, working diligently on maintaining the site, and directing visitors to rides, games and the usual attractions. If one wanted to make it more sinister, the GM could assume there's a deranged AI running things, and take the story from there.
Standard Disclaimer: As I have not yet decided where to set this particular location on the map as yet, I've left a placeholder to remind me to come back to this in the future. Later on, I'll replace (Hex) with the actual hex location, when I put all of this together into a single document.