Imagine the most horrifying monstrosity your mind can conceive ‐‐ a being of raw element, given chaotic and ever‐changing form. Now make it worse ‐‐ a being so mighty that even a god would not dare to face it alone. These were the Primordials of the Dawn War, a universe‐spanning conflict that erupted at the first stroke of time.
Just as the gods appeared in the Astral Sea at the birth of the universe, so too did the Primordials appear in the Elemental Chaos when it was first formed. In that First Age, they were glorious and terrible in their power, birthing the great titans with the merest shrug of effort and starting to shape a world from out of the chaos.
After the great conflict, the primal spirits of the world placed a ban, protecting the world from the intrusions of both god and primordial. The spirits created awe‐inspiring guardians to protect the world from outside influence. They created the dragons.
Although noted for their insatiable greed and ambition, these dragons have nonetheless dutifully protected the world, which they consider their realm, from the meddling of any immortal being.
Corrupted by promises of great power, a mated pair of Dragons, Scatha and Drogoth, have succumbed to the whispered lies of Primordial masters. They have bathed in the fires of the ever‐changing Elemental Chaos, and have begun the rituals needed to break the Primal Ban on the world and allow their masters to run rampant, tearing apart all of creation into its base elemental components. Already their powerful spells are taking hold in the world. An ancient and abandoned castle, Tethys Keep, has been physically ripped from the ground, as a swirling maelstrom of storm and stone swirls about it. It is here that the dragons have made a new lair, heralding the triumph of the Primordials.
The gods have set aside their ordinary petty squabbles, and called upon their designated champions: you.
You have been imbued with divine power, and tasked with a quest, setting the fate of the entirety of creation upon your weary shoulders. The corrupted dragons have been blinded and tricked for a short while, allowing a small band of adventurers the opportunity to sneak into the winding paths of their lair undetected. You must storm the floating castle, reclaim its artifacts, and use these weapons to defeat the traitorous dragons and seal the rent in the world spilling out the effluvium of the Elemental Chaos.
The Sundering of the Earth is a dungeon delve for four to six 8th‐level adventurers, heretofore referred to as dungeoneers.
This is a fourthcore adventure. If you are unfamiliar with the design principles and conventions of the genre, visit the website www.saveversusdeath.com
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Post Script: Developed Maps
If you are one of those faithful readers whom are hoping to see actual maps of the adventure, prepare to be underwhelmed. Here and in my own home games, I rarely draw out very detailed or descriptive maps. More often, I plan out a rough sketch of the features I want, then either rifle through my dungeon tiles and let them inspire me to create something ridiculous and over the top, or draw freehand on sheets of blank 1"-grid paper. I am no artist, and any attempts of mine at completed maps will inevitably be either cartoonish or laughably mundane.
Although neither the PAX East 2011 Dungeon Masters' Challenge adventure nor The Sundering of the Earth have fully developed maps, they both give the reader a general sense of the most important pieces of an encounter. I challenge you, dear readers, to create your own Dungeons & Dragons standard formatted maps for these adventures and link the results here!