For many of us, there is a feeling. A calling. This feeling can’t be dispelled by the pull of reality, but instead transports us to far away lands. The need to adventure thrums deep in our bones and calls us to incredible worlds of magic, science, monsters, dungeons, mystery, and adventure. The imaginary promise of grand tales, loot and impossible feats wet our appetite while the irresistible draw of an intricately woven story intrigues and captivates our imaginations. Some of us, though, go above and beyond this call. In our imaginary worlds, they are the Masters; they are shapers, stage setters, dungeon builders and dragon tamers. Carefully they place each detail for the perfect ambiance; each piece plays a role and it is the Game Master that carefully creates the worlds in which we play.
That’s right, brush off your D20’s because it’s Game Master’s Appreciation Day! As a delver of dungeons and loot collecting enthusiast I am writing this piece to show love to all of the GM’s/DM’s out there by giving them the day off. Today I will do my best to write the story, so sit back all you GM’s and DM’s. It’s my turn to dim the lights, put in the old ambiance CD and roll the dice. Get ready for adventure…
Please note: I have written this so you can actually use a D20! Please feel free to if you desire. The way this is written if you roll a D15 you will know everything from the lower roll categories in addition to what you discover in the rolled category. I hope you have fun!
The first things that comes to you as you open your eyes are the small beams of light shining down on your face. As you shift slightly you begin to feel the crumbled rocks digging into your back, and the ache of muscles bruised by a hard fall. Scrunching up your face, a small groan escapes your lips as you slowly pull yourself into a sitting position. A sharp throbbing in your head has you pinching the bridge of your nose as your senses race to catch up with your new environment. As you take your first conscious breaths, the dank air fills your lungs and nose. Peering around you notice dark stone surrounding you on three sides. As you vision clears and you glance around it becomes clear that you have fallen down an abandoned tunnel of some kind. The soft light seems to be coming from above you. The rock walls are slick with moisture and glisten softly in the dim light. Around you, phosphorescent plants seem to provide enough light to discern a path forward. Cringing as you stand (every muscle in your body seems to protest, how long were you out?), you try to not slip on the moist stones. You notice one of the glowing cave plants is nearby.
Investigate the cave fungus? (Y/N)
Y: Roll check!
Roll 1-5: You slip on the rocks while bending over to pick up the plant and smack your head. You are passed out for another 3 minutes.
Roll 6-19:There seems to be cave moss, mushrooms and ferns that all are glowing softly in a variety of soft colors ranging from blue, purple, greens and whites. They are definitely not edible judging from the frills on the underside. Good thing you paid attention in your ‘Mystical Plants; A Practical Application’ class! Also as you brush your finger over one you find that it leaves some of the phosphorescent residue on your finger! This could be useful. You store that later for potential use.
Roll 20: In addition to the above status, you notice that the residue on your fingers is caused by a fine pollen of some kind! That would mean the water could be poisonous to drink and the air could kill you if you linger. Best move along….
N: You were never really interested in plants anyways. As long as you can see, who cares? Man does your back hurt….
Looking around you deem the only way you can go is straight. There is enough dim light coming from the fungus that you can tell the pathway bends sharply to the left. You shuffle forward, only glancing over your shoulder for a second to regard the beauty of the room you had fallen into. The rays of light seem to dance slightly on the pile of rubble and the glowing ferns and fungus create a beautiful atmosphere.
Taking your first steps down the abandoned tunnel you hear the sounds of your footfalls change. The ground you are walking on doesn’t feel like dirt anymore, but the light is too dim to see.
Do you investigate the ground? (Y/N)
Y: Roll check!
R1-9: Not putting much thought into rummaging around you disturb a lot of dirt but find little of interest except the uneven ground. You never really liked dirt anyways. It’s so….dirty. You brush off the mucky ground residue onto your pants and grumble a bit.
D10-20: Reaching down you gently run your hands over the floor. You feel the thick cool dirt and an earthy smell fills your nostrils. A quick brush of your fingers over the moist earth reveals the hard stone tiles underneath. Glancing around you steadily make your way over to a wall that has some of the fungus next to it. Careful not to disturb the mushrooms, you brush at the walls. Solid carved stone greets your fingers, though the carvings have become so worn by the elements that there doesn’t seem to be specific shape to them anymore. It seems as if this entire passage way is a stone tunnel! What an exquisite find!
N: Was that dirt on your shoes? You love these shoes. Stupid dirt.
Continuing down the pathway you notice that the ceiling isn’t very high. This tunnel must only be about ten feet tall. The air is thicker and still damp. Earthy. It’s almost comforting. Wishing you had brought any kind of survival gear with you besides your clothes, you make a mental note that the next time you fall down a hole you’ll be ready. After a few minutes of walking in the tunnel you see the tunnel curve to the right sharply. You slow your pace, unsure if there are other creatures lurking this far underground. Cautiously you peer around the corner and see a great stone door. The intricate carvings seem to weave their way around the frames. Two big squiggles make up the decoration on either side of the double door. They almost look like snakes…? The water damage must have taken its toll. Still, even the eroded carvings are intricate and beautiful, weaving over and under themselves into intricate knot patterns. Tree roots and plants have broken the once pristine stone.
Investigate the door? (Y/N)
Y: Roll check!
1: Haphazardly you push hard against the massive door. Years of erosion have caused the stone to shift and it falls apart into immense pieces. Large slabs of stone fall to the floor causing a large amount of noise as you fall into the next room. If your presence had somehow gone unnoticed prior to this, you are now known.
R 2-19: Investigating the door you quickly see that it is unstable. Large roots hook through the once beautifully carved doors and even a small push would likely bring them crumbling down. Instead it looks like you can duck down through a hole that has been eroded in the lower left. Getting on your hands and knees you peer out but don’t see anything immediately threatening in the next chamber.
R20: (All of the above in addition) Running your hands over the doors carvings you notice the large snake like creatures have ridges coming off of them. They are clearly creatures of some kind, though what that entails you’re not sure. It looks like there were once gems set in the eyeholes….and parts of the body? Clearly there was a lot of time and effort put into these beautiful snakes. You feel a pang of regret seeing them in this state. Though why snakes? What did they symbolize?
N: “Well, I’m just gonna sit here and twiddle my thumbs, I guess!” You declare while you try to think of what to do next...
After crawling out from under the hole in the snake door you find yourself in an immense chamber. Looking around the chamber you see a large statue in the exact middle of the room. Four towering snakes sprout up from the center, each looking like a bent cane with their faces pointing toward the ground. Long tongues protrude from each mouth with wicked fangs. The bodies of the snakes wrap around each other in a fashion almost identical to the snakes on the door. A large smooth stone bowl on a waist high stone column is directly under the mouth of each snake.
Turning your gaze you follow the direction one of the snakes is looking in, and realize they are pointed to two adjacent rooms. You look around and notice something of interest. Each of the rooms seems to be associated with a different color. Even the plants around the doors are illuminating based on the color of the stone and accents. You turn your gaze back to the statue and realize both snakes, though dimly lit, also correspond to the color of door it is pointing at. Even the sparse plants at the base of the statue are divided by color.
You walk over the snake statue slowly. It towers above you, each lifeless stone head peering down at you as you carefully walk under them. Each snake is intricately carved and has tiles of the corresponding door color coating their body. It seems that there are gems set into the large eye sockets of each snake; they are high above you but you can see the faint glimmer in the dim light. After walking around the statue you notice the far wall.
An elaborately carved stone door greets your eyes. In the middle of the door is a giant snake’s head, and it’s body covers the rest of the door. A pair of giant stone wings point upwards off the creature’s back, and intricately carved feathers seem to sprout from the carved head. Small turquoise tiles cover its body making it look like it has scales. There are a few of the other colored tiles interspersed with the turquoise ones making this carved snake glimmers beautifully in the phosphorescent light of the fungus. The carved head alone is about the size of your chest, and sticks a good two feet off the wall. Two empty eyes about the size of your fist stare at you.
Investigate the door? (Y/N)
Y: Roll check!
R 1: You walk over to the door and notice that the eye sockets are empty….should something be in there?
R 2-10: The gaze of the statue sends a shiver up your spine. You peer in to get a closer look. You notice that there is lingering residue in each slot that seems to correspond to the different colored doors! That was a good first clue.
R 11-15: Carefully looking over the intricately carved door you notice that semi precious gems have been set into this door. You glance around the chamber and remember the other snakes with gem eyes. There must be a reason. This large door must symbolize something important.
R 16-19: Running your hands along the snakes jaw and up the tall feathers seems to bring something back in your mind. You look back into the large room and glance up at the snake statues. Two snakes. Two doors….you turn to regard the large head. Two eyes. They correspond in color but could there be more?
R 20: Something was special about this door. This room even. It was a ritual chamber. You could tell by the way the statues were set something about this place was meant to go undisturbed. Weighing your options you decide that there isn’t much you can do but push forward. You shudder; whatever was behind this door likely wasn’t good. Recalling your ‘Ancient Ruins and Rituals’ class (you payed attention in Adventuring School naturally, those degrees are expensive!) you nod sagely to yourself. The two rooms correspond to this door’s eyes somehow. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too difficult to navigate, though there would likely be traps. Something about the snake creature tugged at the back of your mind. You didn’t remember what this creature was, but you knew there was a reason it was honored in this fashion. Best keep your eyes and ears out!
N: That door gives you the heebie jeebies! No way in heck are you going over there. Looking around you choose to go into one of the colored rooms instead. (Pick a room color)
Nodding to yourself, you decide to investigate the only other thing in the room. The colored doors. There were two colors: Red, and Blue. You’d have to go into each door, more than likely. Nodding to yourself you walk up to the door of your choice.
As you walk up to the door you notice a snake carved into the door similar to the others. It's eyes are the corresponding color to the tiles set into its body. Smiling you gently lay your hand on the door and push slightly. You are greeted with a brush of air as it washes over you….
CHOOSE A DOOR:
Immediately a spicy dry wind pervades your senses. It’s slightly warm as it washes over you, which causes you to cough slightly. Marveling at the softly glowing red plants you make your way down the corridor. There seem to be more plants in here than you’d thought! The hall is much better lit than the previous ones. As you pass the plants some of the glowing pollen brushes off onto your legs and shoes. You notice the path veers sharply to the left. Carefully you peer around the corner, but only see more plants as far as the hallway goes. You continue walking and notice your face dripping with sweat. You pull at the collar of your shirt. Is it getting hotter in here or is it just you? Walking to the end of the hallway you are certain that the temperature has spiked by at least 40F degrees! You notice that the pathway verges to the right this time...you freeze in your tracks. You can hear something now. A low groaning noise….the pathway to the right is impossibly bright as well. Something tells you that this is going to be interesting. Slowly peeking around the corner your eyes are met with a small chamber that is long lengthwise. Metal tiles line the floor and you can see the heat coming off in waves. At the end of the corridor is a metallic snake statue. Ruby red eyes gleam at you with a bright red orb clutched in its mouth...
ROLL TO SURVIVE:
R 1: You should have known this was a bad idea. You step out onto the metal tiles and feel the heat rise through your shoes. Glancing down you see the tile sudder slightly, then you’re falling down, down, down….into a pit of lava! Man, today did not go the way you had hoped.
R 2-6: As you take your first step you feel the hot metal plate under you shudder. Without thinking too hard your instincts take over and you leap to another tile- except you find that your shoe has melted onto the first one! Landing awkwardly on the second tile you feel this one shudder under your weight as well, and you suddenly find yourself plummeting down into a pit of lava!
R 7-15: Stepping out onto the plate, you cautiously don’t put all of your weight down...You can feel it shudder underneath you slightly. You groan as you realize what you’re going to have to do. With a running leap, you run along one side of the room causing a trail of falling tiles in your wake.
R 16-20: Kneeling down you carefully inspect the metal tiles. Smiling to yourself you notice that there are two types: Ones with flying snakes, and ones without. The one directly in front of you did not have snakes with wings...but the door had a snake with two giant wings on it. Nodding to yourself you take a calculated step over the first tile and onto one in front of it...The tile is stable. Glancing around you manage to pick your way along the tiles that have snakes with wings on them. Man, you were glad you payed attention in your ‘Delving into Dungeons; a Comprehensive Guide’ class!
Once you land on the opposite end of the room, you pant as you double over. After a few minutes you are able to regard the statue. Smiling you gently pry the fist sized the orb out from the snake’s maw….
Oh dear. The room starts to shudder and heave. What is this, Indiana Jones?! You quickly run along the opposite wall of tiles, leaving another gaping path in your wake. Leaping you just barely make it to the hallway before steam starts to spurt out of vents on the hallway! Yikes! You run as fast as possible down the hallway, past the plants until you are back in the main chamber. Whew, you barely escaped that one...you pocket your hard earned orb.
BRRRR!! You are hit with a blast of chilled air that makes you shudder. Walking through the door way you immediately notice your breath puffing in front of your face...wow. THAT’S pretty cold. Steeling yourself you cautiously walk into the pathway. As you trudge down the hallway you notice small beautiful icicles dangling off the phosphorescent plants that dimly light the hallway. How beautiful, you muse as you keep walking. Even the walls have a small dusting of frost. Idly you wonder how a room like this can exist this far underground. Magic perhaps? You begin wishing you had brought a jacket. Up ahead you notice the path veers to the right. As you approach you can feel the temperature drop noticeably. You begin to shiver slightly...you hear a loud cracking sound as you take your next step. You freeze. Slowly you look down...and realize you are standing on ice. Swallowing thickly you slowly slide your feet attempting not to crack the pristine sheet. Your feet slip and slide a bit but the ice doesn’t seem to crack anymore underneath your weight. As you carefully turn the corner you notice that there are glowing water plants under the ice...that couldn’t be a good sign. Inspecting the ice floor you notice that a portion of the ice is open, and you can see the inky water within. As you peer directly down the hole in the ice...you can see the blue orb. Well, I hope you remember how to swim. Without a second thought, you take a deep breath and you plunge into the icy depths...
ROLL TO SURVIVE:
R 1: Crap. You now remember you DON’T know how to swim. You flail around a bit- wait did you see that? You look around blearily in the dark water and swear you saw somethi-
R 2-6: You kick and splash your way down to the bottom of the odd underwater chamber. Who knew there’d be an underground lake? You could see the snake statue at the bottom clutching the softly glowing orb- wait what was that? You squint and just make out the tail end of something swimming through the glowing plants. Panicking you start kicking towards the surface. Screw this! You pop your head above water only to be dragged back down!
R 7-15: You did a aerodynamic dive into the hole. You knew that it would get you to the bottom faster if you streamlined your body. You were at the snake statue in moments, and your hand gently grazed over the soft glowing blue orb. Something out of the corner of your eye caught your attention; something was coming right towards you! Wrenching the orb out of the snake’s mouth you dodge to the side, and the creature narrowly misses you. It’s long body quickly turning for a second attack. You grab the statue and kick off towards the surface. Somehow you know it’s close behind. You stop and show the orb towards the creature...it immediatly recoils! Its six eyes appear blinded by even the orb’s soft glow. The snake-like creature folds in on itself and displays its many fins, then slinks away and disappears in the inky water.
R: 16-20: Pulling your limbs in tight, you dive quickly to the bottom of the lake. You land next to the statute and notice immediately something is off. The sand around you at the lakes bottom has been disturbed by something that has swam by recently that wasn’t you. Peering around in the blurry water you notice something slithering through the reeds toward you...a cave eel! It’s enormous! Remembering your ‘Ancient Ruins Biology 101’ you back into some of the glowing lake plants so they surround you. The cave eels have terrible vision around any kind of light, so the creature passes by without much of a fuss. Only a few seconds go by, but when you are sure it’s gone, you reach around the front of the statue and pry the orb out of the snakes mouth. Smiling at your triumph, you kick off of the statue and rise quickly to the surface.
Once you head breaks the water you fill your lungs with cold air. You struggle to get on top of the ice but once you do you hear a loud crack. Cursing your bad luck you shove the blue fist sized orb into your pocket and you run for your life. You can hear the groaning of the ice splinter and crack under your thundering footfalls! As your boots meet the frosty dirt you continue running back to the main chamber! To heck with standing around in an icy death-trap room!
Running out of the last door feeling bedraggled you hobble over to the snake statue. You peer up at the beautiful two headed statue and grumble something about adventuring.
After all that work, surely you want to put the colored orbs in the snake statue? (Y/N)
Y: Roll check!
1: Walking up to the nearest snake statue you proudly hold out an orb and shove it in the socket….only to realize it doesn’t correspond to the color of the snake statue. Oops. You suddenly feel a pinch in your neck! You bring your hand up to feel...something odd. You pluck the offending object out from your neck….Oh dear. It looks like a feathered dart...and your vision is starting to get blurry. This didn’t seem to be good….
R 2-20: As you place the first orb into the corresponding socket you hear a click in the snake’s mouth above you. Suddenly water spills out into the bowl and you hear something clatter into the now filled bowl. Peering into the bottom of the bowl you see a gem the size of your fist. Glancing at the snake-head door it becomes clear what you need to do.
N: Why would you want to give up your hard earned glowing orbs?! You went to heck and back trying to get these...but now what were you going to do instead? Placing the orbs in the statue really seems like you’re only option to get out of here….
After placing both orbs in the corresponding snakes you smile, holding up the glimmering cut gem eyes. Each gem shines the color of the snake it dropped out of. You turn to face the large snake door, readying yourself for what’s next.
As you place each gemstone in the corresponding eye socket you hear a click. Immediately you stand back as a deep rumbling shakes the chamber. The immense stone door creaks open with a low groan...and the door only opens wide enough for you to enter sideways. Swallowing your fear, you peek inside the chamber.
If you thought the last chamber was big, this is a cavern! You feel your breath hitch as you look around. The ceiling is easily over a thousand feet and is glittering softly. Gasping you realize the ceiling is made of thousands of small glittering crystals! They twinkle darkly in the dim light. Only white fungus and ferns seem to light this chamber-
Something moved. Something...big. You feel yourself freeze as a titanic shape uncurls itself from the inky darkness.
“Ttttthhheeerrreee issss theee creeeeature resssssponsible for myyyy freeeeeedom….”
You feel your heart go into your mouth. A pair of gigantic eyes peers at you from the darkness. One bright red, the other a pale blue, just like the orbs.
A giant feathered snake head gradually comes into view. Turquoise scales line its body, with the occasional ruby red or pale blue scales creating intricate patterns along its face and back. A mixture of softly glowing red and blue feathers line the crest of its head. As the creature stretches, the red and blue scales glow softly.
Legendary feathered snake creatures, similar to Quetzalcoatl in appearance, they were often revered as gods by primitive civilizations. Insanely smart creatures, they were incredibly rare and often fickle. Well, now you’re in for it. All thoughts of your training drains out of you as you stare in awe.
It lets out a sound that chills you. You realize it’s chuckling...and you can see rows upon rows of sharp teeth in its mouth.
“Sssssssshy, areeeeen’t yoooou….” It brings its head to within a few inches of yours. A massive forked tongue dances inches from your face. “Foooor the boooon of freeeeeeing meeee affffter all theeeesssseee yearsssss, I will let you liiiiiive...proviided yooou can ansssswer my riddleeee…”
This seemed like a decent enough deal. The Talaraxxji wouldn’t eat you alive if you could answer a question. Then again maybe you deserve to be eaten. You hope not. Nodding quickly you swallow and wait. You hear that chilling chuckle again and force back a shudder.
“Veeeery gooooood….” It is silent for a moment, before hissing out:
“The wisssse and knowledgeable man isss sssssure of it.
Even the fool knowsssss it.
The rich man wantsssss it.
The poor man hasssss it.
The greatesssst of heroessss think they fear it.
Yet the lowliessssst of cowardssss would die for it.
What issss thisssss upon which I poooondeeer?”
You stare blankly for a minute at the immense serpent. It cocks it’s head to the side regarding you with those glowing mismatched eyes.
“Ssssspeak up, moooortaaaal….”
Steeling your nerves you decide to try to answer the creature.
ROLL TO SURVIVE:
1: “Um...a man?” You knew it wasn’t the right answer but at least it was something. That was supposed to be the answer to the riddle of the sphinx so you figured you’d give it a shot. You were terrible with riddles anyways. You hear the sickening chuckle as the Talaraxxji regards you. “Nooot even clooosseeeee.” The last thing you see is its immense maw.
R 2-7: You take a minute
to ponder this question. What does a hero think they don’t fear? “Death? You answer shakily...You hear the sickening chuckle as the Talaraxxji regards you. “Nooot a baaad answer...but the wrong one sssstilll…..” The last thing you see is its immense maw.
R 8-14: You sit there and think about the answer. Your nerves begin to get the better of you. The creature hisses slightly and you feel your neves bubble up. What does everyone have? “A-a shadow?” That was the answer to a lot of riddles, maybe it was the same? You hear the sickening chuckle as the Talaraxxji regards you. “It issss true thaaat the anssswer coulld aallmosssst work….but it issss wrong.” Your heart sinks in your chest. The last thing you see is its immense maw.
R 15-19: Pondering the question you try to think about the pieces. A wise man is sure of it...but a poor man has it. You wreck your brain to think of what the answer could be. Could it be….”Time?” You hear the sickening chuckle as the Talaraxxji regards you. “Iiiit isssss not the wooorssssst anssswer I have heard….but that isss not correct. And it issss now what you areee out of...” The last thing you see is its immense maw.
R 20:Pondering the question you think long and hard about what all of those people have in common...and realize they don’t. And that, was the answer. You smacked your head. They had “Nothing!” You grin triumphantly at the large serpent. It’s eyes twinkle at you as its head pulls into what you suspect is a grin.
“It hasssss been a looong time mooortal, ssssince anyone haad guessssed my riddle…” It’s immense body uncoils and moves out of the way to reveal a passage and a large pile of gold and gems. You stare open mouthed.
“Sssssince you have ssset me free and assssswered my riddle corrrectly, I will allow you thissss boon. You may take ONE thiiing from thissss room, and be on your wayyy…”
Thinking about it carefully you look at the magnificent creature in the eyes. You had already decided what you wanted.
“Oh great serpent of the winds,” you intone steadily, “If I were to take any treasure I would not have learned the lesson of the riddle. For no matter what I take I will always want more. I choose nothing as my reward.”
The serpent regards you, its massive eyes studying you, before you hear it chuckle again. “Yooou are sssssmart for a mortal. You ssssshall leave with more than nothing theeen. Your liffeee….” It’s eyes stare deeply into yours and suddenly the room grows dark around you. Nothing but the serpent’s eyes are in your view….then suddenly everything goes dark.
When you awake, you shield your eyes from the piercing light. Blinking a few times the area around you comes into focus. You’re in a room, and judging from the smell it’s an...inn? And you’re lying in a bed?! How on earth did you get here?? Is it possible it was all a dream? It had felt so real….you bring your hand to your head-
In your hand is a single phosphorescent feather.
A feather of a Talaraxxji.
About Katie Grace
Katie Grace is a more recent addition to the CodeWeavers Ninja crew. In her free time she enjoys playing video games, feeding her salamanders and contemplating the vastness of the universe (and how an inter-dimentional portal somehow opened in her sock drawer). She has been with the Ninja crew since 2016.