On the sands near the great river Daiphrit stands the imposing pyramid-tomb of the ancient king Dolmar, a beloved ruler of the kingdom who was killed by a villainous minister. The tomb’s construction took many years, and necessitated the existence of a temporary town to support all the labourers and artisans. After the tomb was completed, many of these people elected to stay in the town to be close to the resting-place of their king. Over time, others joined them, and the town grew into a small city. But, one by one, the king’s loyal subjects grew old and died, and were themselves buried in the city’s districts. In modern times, the city of Dolmar’s Rest lies silent and empty, home only to the dead.
But it is silent no longer. A strange corona of red and gold light surrounds the pyramid, and those loyal to the ancient king have woken from their graves. Slowly the skeletal citizens are rebuilding their ruined city, restoring it to its former glory. A few brave scouts have visited the city and returned unmolested, reporting the undead populace to be generally peaceful and industrious. But King Dolmar himself has returned, and the city recognises him alone as the rightful ruler of the entire kingdom.
Rumours are spreading through the capital like wildfire. Many expect this is some trick: the dead may indeed walk, but surely the good king Dolmar of legend would have no part in such necromancy? Others wonder if perhaps the old legends have been subject to whitewashing, or just suffer from a rose-tinted view of history. Alternatively, maybe the whole thing is just an illusion thrown up as cover for an invasion by the Blueskins.
The Queen and her advisers need hard information about what’s really going on. A team of courageous adventurers might be able to enter the city and collect intelligence to determine if there is an immediate threat, and to track down the source of this strange magic. That’s where the characters come in.
The citizens are skeletal in nature, with red-and-gold pinpoints of light burning in their eye-sockets. Generally, the populace is busy working day and night to rebuild the various structures and create new equipment to replace items worn down over the centuries. Despite their condition, the citizens still feel the need to eat, drink, and sleep, so much of the infrastructure of a normal city is needed. The outlying farms have, of course, gone to wilderness over the centuries, leading to some difficulty with food supplies. None of the citizens are completely comfortable to meet a living human; it’s an unpleasant reminder of their own undead status. They try to remain polite, however.
The citizens don’t know the source of their condition, or what the king’s long-term plans are, although plenty of the more egotistical ones will be happy to make assumptions or to pretend to know important secrets. The nobles are particularly prone to such theorising. King Dolmar hasn’t been seen since a single public appearance after the great awakening, preferring to keep himself shut up in the pyramid. Only the royal guard are allowed in, and then only by direct order. The priests manage the everyday aspects of authority in the meantime. The royal guard sometimes receive telepathic orders from the king, and many citizens have started to grow wary of them.
Drop a die on the below tables to generate random encounters. Each district has its own table (in outline shaped like the district itself), which you can combine to get a whole-city table. For entries marked with “[*]”, the encountered person is interacting with a third party: drop a die on the whole-city table to find out who!
The sacred pendant, symbol of the king’s authority, is a big topic of discussion amongst the skeletons. The king wasn’t wearing it at his public appearance, and its whereabouts are unknown. Some speculate that this is a sign the king is an imposter, while others wonder if it was stolen by tomb raiders during the city’s long sleep. The royal guard quash discussion of the subject if they should hear any.
The avenues leading to the temple and the pyramid are bordered by obelisks: both sets of obelisks are identical, six in number and inscribed with the following lines of text:
The high priestess prefers to stay in the temple. She knows the pendant was hidden in the temple by one of her predecessors, but doesn’t know exactly where. She has received a telepathic instruction from the king to deliver the pendant to the pyramid, but is unsure if he is the real king or not. If the delivery is to be made, having the artefact carried in the hands of armed adventurers might seem like a prudent move. The king’s instruction mentioned the pendant being “hidden in the heavens”, although since it was secured after his death he doesn’t know the specifics.
Sitting atop a dais, the altar of the temple is a table covered with a fine silk cloth that almost reaches the ground. On the floor underneath the altar, one of the floor tiles is marked with a miniature pendant symbol; it’s quite visible if kneeling in front of the altar. Pressing this tile causes the entire dais to swiftly rise up on a stone column, ascending into the interior of the temple spire. From here one can easily reach a stone casket on a ledge at the tip of the spire, within which glows the pure light of the sacred pendant.
If the characters don’t go out of their way to conceal the pendant, news of its discovery will spread swiftly. Some of the populace will want it delivered to the pyramid immediately, while others think the king is an imposter and that it should be kept away. Some citizens may consider it borderline blasphemous for the characters to be carrying around the king’s symbol, particularly if they are wearing it. These high tensions are stoked by the fact that none of the skeletons can touch the holy pendant directly without being burned, so the various groups must try to convince the characters of the “correct” course of action.
If the royal guard hear the news, they will be instructed by the king to try and seize it from the adventurers. Those citizens who don’t trust the royal guard may help the characters escape or hide if needs be.