Hey there everybody! Today we’re going to be looking at a set of ruins I had created for my home game. This one was actually the first dungeon I had ever created and was back when I started GMing. Personally, it still hold a dear place in my heart and could use some tweaking quite honestly. I bestow upon you my creation, to use as you please!
This mansion is called the Ruins of Valdemaar. In its heyday, Valdemaar was a mansion owned by the formerly Wizard King. It was an outpost in the Wild Wood, used in an attempt to hold dominion over the forest and its inhabitants. Seeing how the Lich King had a reputation as a tyrant when he was alive, I figured he may have at least a finger in most parts of the map. This is definitely an interesting idea to scatter all around your exploration of the Dragon Empire and helps enforce the theme of a dark history.
Valdemaar was held by a lord, his name lost in the slow decay of time. The Wizard King would come and visit occasionally as he was perusing around the Dragon Empire to make sure everything was going well. In my interpretation of the world, the elven race comes from Eld at the bottom of the Wild Wood, their ancient ancestral home until they migrated far north to the Queen’s Wood. Before the it was held by the High Druid, who only came to find her power towards the end of the 12th Age, the Wild Wood was… well… the normal wood. There were settlements of mainly poor peoples and it was used as a lumber source, which probably made the elves a little angry and helped lead to the eventual toppling of the Wizard King’s rule.
In the turning of the previous age, Valdemaar was sacked by the inhabitants of the forest. The lord of which was brutally murdered for the practicing of dark magics and his allegiance to an oppressive overlord. Seeing how that overlord would have no tolerance for his failure, the lord of the mansion used some of that dark magic taught to him to try to defend himself. In the end, he lost, but it’s definitely left its mark on the area.
The Wizard King wasn’t just a jerk to the people of his empire, but he was a pretty big jerk to his subordinates as well. He kept the secret key of lichdom to himself and left everybody else figure it out on their own. The lord of Valdemaar? Not so bright. He fell, permanently, with his mansion. The rumor goes that when the lord fell, the magic that was planning to devour him for its own nefarious will got angry and killed all of the rebels before bleeding into the land. It was starting to spread to the rest of the forest until the High Druid awoke and claimed the forest for her own.
Since then, the forest turned into the Wild Wood how we know it in the 13th Age but she was never able to completely eradicate this little pocket of tainted land. So now, the ruins sit, a lure for nefarious creatures both living and dead. The High Druid works with the animals of the Wild Wood to keep things from meddling with it, but she can only do so much.
Some really cool images for the Ruins of Valdemaar came to fruition when our friends from the Ald Sotha campaign ran through it nearly two and a half years ago now:
- The woods around it are dead and withered, a fountain overgrown with tainted plants lies in the front courtyard. The sky always seems grey here.
- In the main hall, there is a fireplace that is in the likeness of a Beholder (I’m not making money off of this, let me creative WotC!), the fire would burn inside its mouth.
- There is a secret door in the mouth of said fireplace that leads down to a ritual chamber used by the late Lord of Valdemaar.
- There’s a throne room towards the far side of the mansion from the entrance. Behind the thrones is a secret stair that leads up to the second floor master bedroom.
- Other rooms include: a kitchen, left mostly untouched since the mansions abandonment, an armory withered by time, a garden back yard with a guillotine in it visible by a window in the throne room.
I had a map for the ruins that I had fabricated myself but I’ll refrain from putting it here. Mainly because I want you guys to be able to plop down whatever ideas this inspires you to create for your own games.
The particular little plot line we had done in the ruins was rather simplistic. Magic in the area was being agitated and started messing with the more northern settlements of the Wild Wood along the trade road that cuts through the top towards New Port. As adventurers are wont to do, they decided to investigate it. By the end of it all, and after a near TPK considering how new of a GM I was at the time, they found the ritual chamber underneath. Down there was a Despoiler demon trying to open up a hell hole. The idea was to meld the demonic power of hell with the unholy magic of the ruins to create something truly awful and make an advance against the Dragon Empire.
Stay Metal \m/