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Click image to download this free TTRPG battlemap of a Ruined City of Chained Horror, then keep scrolling for the detailed adventure prompt written for it.
While traveling you watch a large ship like nothing you’ve ever seen blaze through the heavens, only to crash and slide upon the earth. As it lands you see dirt and debris sprayed everywhere, and if you run up to it and open a jammed metal door you will find only two dead men inside as well as a beautiful but injured woman with violet eyes.
The dead men have piercing wounds and the woman clutches an injured arm with a deep cut. Around them are warped pieces of metal and partially broken equipment. She will explain that they were impaled by some of the ship’s damaged internals when they crashed, and that they had been transporting an artifact back to her people before the ship suffered a malfunction.
She begs you to help her finish the mission as her people are in dire need of the artifact to fix their dying city. The ship doesn’t seem to have suffered too much damage and she believes it will fly again, but the ship can only be flown by two people and her colleagues have both perished.
If you help her, you’ll find the ship works fine. Once it reaches a certain speed in the air the blue sky will warp around it, streaks of it twisting with misty grey until only silvery mist and a black sky with very few stars surrounds you. Suddenly out from the swirling mist come chunks of rock that, if you manage to dodge them, turn out to be the still-smoldering ruins of a floating city.
Should you land, a small group with violet eyes will be there waiting for you. When you emerge from the ship, they will congratulate the woman for returning the last artifact and sincerely thank you for aiding her quest. They will then explain that time is of the utmost essence and ask you to hurry with them.
If you go along you will be led down a series of stone walkways floating amongst the mist. You can see large, dark things moving out beyond the paths and buildings, cutting swathes in the clouds like coiling snakes. Almost in sync with the dark shapes are the sounds of metal scraping and clanking, echoing throughout the ruins.
Bodies are fresh on the ground around you, alongside smoldering stone, and it is clear this destroyed city was recently the site of a great battle. Some of the fallen without violet eyes are still alive but badly wounded, writhing on the ground in agony. Noticing the survivors, the leader gestures for some of the group to break off to “help” them, with orders to catch up when they’re done.
If you ask what happened the group will tell you that there is no time to explain, that they must hurry if the city is to be saved in time.
The group stops at the center of the city, after guiding you through a series of narrow, broken corridors and rickety wooden pathways as some of the main roads were completely broken. Beneath you is a glowing blue pit at the bottom of the swirling mists, but the pit moves and you realise what you’re looking at is a series of sharp teeth descending into a gargantuan, grotesque maw. If you look at it for too long you’ll begin to hear whispering voices, but you can’t quite make out what they’re saying.
Another one of the dark shapes passes by you, this time moving into the lurid light of the hideous mouth. It is then you realise that the dark shapes you’ve been seeing are giant tentacles that seem to be attached to whatever this foul creature is. Connected to the tentacles are humongous metal chains that trail off into the mist below.
‘Gormos the Ancient One, your freedom will finally be complete! Please let your first gift be the salvation of this city!’ Says a blind man, his hands high above his head grasping your artifact alongside another. They are both beginning to glow violet and hum.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? The ship came from a demi-plane, which was created long ago as a prison for this eldritch god; a primordial horror from before time immemorial. Gormos the Ancient One once sought to destroy the world and everything within it, but the founders of this city managed to chain the monstrosity here.
He was too powerful to leave without guardians, however, so those who chained him created this floating sky city to prevent his escape. Generations passed, the descendants of the heroes fortifying their minds and training themselves in magic and steel to ensure Gormos didn’t escape.
Their lives were short and hard, for there was nowhere else for them to go and living near this eldritch horror drove them all mad eventually—it was only a question of when. For generations, they had structures in place so that anyone exhibiting signs of the madness—what they called “the corruption”—would be killed as kindly as possible. One of the last signs was violet eyes.
Usually the longest these protectors lived was to their late 30s, but recently a leader managed to hide signs of his madness by permanently blinding himself and making it look like an accident. Then, when the time was right, he killed those on the council who would be a threat to him. With them out of the way, he convinced many of the remaining protectors that they had been lied to about Gormos, who had lived peacefully in chains beneath their feet for generations, and that the god should be released so they could see the great gifts he would bring the world.
Despite the charms of their leader, some of the protectors did not believe his corrupted words. Many of them died fighting against those who would free the eldritch horror, and that magical warfare is what resulted in the utter destruction that you see around you now.
A family of protectors had been working on building a large skyship in secret for the last three generations, with plans to announce it and use it to fly the two artefacts and the rest of their people out of the demi-plane when it was finally finished. Through removing the artefacts that had created the plane, they would destroy it, and finally kill Gormos the Ancient One.
However, the ship wasn’t ready to fly. With the threat of Gormos’s escape looming, two brothers from the family tried to steal both artefacts, but only managed to gain one. Improvising, they launched the ship too soon, planning to hide one of the artefacts in the material realm—enough to stop Gormos from becoming fully free—before returning to take the second one, as well as the surviving protectors.
A group of protectors remained behind to ensure their escape amidst the chaos, but none of them noticed the cultist who followed the brothers and smuggled herself in behind them. Miraculously, the ship flew—and while the brothers were celebrating their arrival in the material plane, the cultist stabbed one of them in the back before he could react, and the other only managed to slice the woman’s arm before she killed him, too.
She then attempted to fly the ship on her own, but the ship crashed due to not having enough pilots. The two men in the ship were not insane, and unlike the cultists, their eyes were not violet.
If you decide to stop the release of Gormos, you will need to fight the cultists and claim at least one of the artefacts to stop the ritual that will complete the horror’s release. Once you have it, if you try to get back to the ship, cultists will emerge from different alleyways as you run, trying to cut off your escape.
The surviving protectors, who remained behind to ensure the two brothers escaped, will come to your aide. If you only have one of the two artefacts, they will insist you go back and get the other one, but if you don’t they will break off to find it.
Should you manage to make it to the ship, if you fly away as fast as you can you will see Gormos’s already partially-freed tentacles rise up and grab the remains of the floating sky city and drag it down, swallowing it in his maw. If the protectors are with you they will gasp and wail in horror at seeing their home destroyed.
Once the ship is flying fast enough, the colours of the sky and surrounding stone will once again run together in a twist before leaving only clear blue skies with white, fluffy clouds as you soar over the material plane.
If you managed to grab both the artefacts and take them with you, as soon as they are removed from the demi-plane it will be destroyed—killing Gormos if he wasn’t free to escape first.
But if you only have one, the other will have been destroyed with the city. Thus, Gormos will remain; eternally fighting his chains that, without the strength of the protectors to reinforce, will eventually crack and break…
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.