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Are there reasons for traditions? Do they have forgotten meanings, or are they simply outdated superstitions? As a GM, what uses can they have in worldbuilding / running fun sessions? Let me know in the comments below! As always, keep scrolling for the one-shot adventure written for this Sunken Coastal Temple free multi-level TTRPG battlemap! ⬇
While visiting a seaside town you notice a young woman with dark, shoulder-length hair dressed in men’s clothes angrily storm from the council long-hall. The action garners some strange, knowing looks from the other locals who are watching.
A village elder follows the woman, calling her name before she turns around to face him. He speaks to her in a calm voice, saying that he’s sorry they cannot test her to become a Wave Speaker. He explains that everyone is born to a fate, regardless of whether they want it or not, and that many fates are hard to bear–even his own. The man tells her that life is unfair, and he himself struggled for a long time with his child being destined to die of a wasting sickness. But ultimately, he explains, it is everyone’s duty to bear their fate with temperance and grace, as their god teaches them.
The woman will retort that his son dying of an incurable disease is completely different from her being stopped by traditions, and the man will shake his head sadly before walking back into the long hall. After a while, she will look up and notice you, before striding boldy over and asking if you’re mercenaries. If you say that you are, she’ll introduce herself as Lyssa and ask if you’re willing to take on work, saying that she’s got a job.
If you’re interested, she’ll lead you back to her home to explain the job. Along the way she’ll tell you–loudly and angrily–that her people are backwards and old fashioned. She’s heard stories from other towns where women are allowed the same opportunities as men, but here it is not so. It’s unfair! Just because she had the misfortune to be born a woman instead of a man shouldn’t determine her fate.
She’ll explain that her village has a long tradition of Wave Speakers, which is an honored skill that a few in the village’s bloodline have. When a Wave Speaker uses one of the four ancient Wave Wands, they can command the sea to a greater or lesser extent. It is a revered position, for they often become great heroes in times of need. She’s always felt a calling to become a Wave Speaker, and a deep connection with the ocean–but the elders won’t let her simply because she is a woman! It’s madness!
Once you reach her straw-roofed house, she’ll let you inside. Her fiancé is smoking some fish within it and tending to the fire, and will jump in surprise when he sees you. He’ll reach for a weapon, but Lyssa will assure him it’s ok and you’re with her.
He’ll ask why she brought mercenaries into their home, and she’ll explain that the elders have refused her the trial, they won’t even let her TOUCH the Wave Wand and see if it responds to her! It’s not right!
Gesturing to you, she explains that you might be able to help her test to see if she could become Wave Speaker. She explains to you and her fiancé that she discovered the location of a lost Wave Wand, making them 5 in total. But it is located in a dangerous, partially underwater temple by the ocean. She tried to go there herself, but it’s filled with sirens.
If you’re willing to help her, she’ll pay you to go to the temple and bring the Wave Wand back. That way, she can undergo the trial herself–regardless of whether or not the elders allow it.
Her fiancé will shake his head at this, pleading with her to drop this notion. He says that if they don’t allow women to become Wave Speakers, surely there’s a reason.
She’ll look at him with pleading eyes, saying that she knows it’s more important to be a mother than a Wave Speaker, which is why she chose to marry him. And she’s looking forward to having children, really. But, before she does, she needs to complete the trial and just HOLD one of the Wave Wands, and see if it responds to her, so she can at least have closure. This was a lifelong dream of hers, before she fell in love with him–surely, he understands.
Her fiancé will sigh, saying that he does understand, but she must promise him she’ll do nothing other than hold the Wand to see if she has the ability. The woman promises joyfully, before turning and asking if you’d be willing to take the job. She’ll pull out a jar made from a large seashell filled with gold, showing it to you and asking if that would be enough as payment.
If you accept the job, she’ll hand you a map she’s made herself leading to the ancient, partially sunken temple. She says that the Wave Wand is somewhere within it, and should look like a long, twisted braid of red and white coral embellished with pearls.
Should you go to the temple, it is built off the end of a seaside cliff and is partially underwater. Inside, you will find that it has indeed become the home of sirens. Beautiful women with the long, barbed tails of fish and curving silver horns lounge on the rocks, preening themselves. When they see you, they’ll hiss angrily, before starting to sing in an attempt to charm–and then drown–you.
If you get too close to them, they’ll lash out with their barbed tail, or clawed hands. Or, their face might distort into that of a toothy aquatic monster, as they attempt to deliver a bite to your jugular. Should you injure any of the sirens enough, they’ll try to leave the temple and flee deeper into the ocean.
In the lower, underwater half of the temple, the walls are covered with murals. They depict a powerful siren queen who fell in love with a man. She abandoned her position and left her coven of sisters to be with him, but still could not survive on the land for long. The man, desperate, prayed to his god using a Wave Wand, and the god answered; turning the siren with a ray of radiant light into a woman with legs. Finally, the lovers could live with one another, and that love founded the town; the ancestors to the villagers you met.
At the end of the underwater section, you’ll find the same Wave Wand from the mural; held in a statue of the man embracing a beautiful woman. It matches Lyssa’s description.
Should you take it, and return to Lyssa at her house, you’ll find her and her fiancé talking in lowered voices at the kitchen table. Upon seeing you and the Wave Wand, Lyssa will gasp in surprise, exclaiming that you actually got it! Then she will nervously stand, reach out, and hesitate, before finally grabbing it in her hand.
The pearls on the Wand will illuminate with a brilliant golden light, and her hair will rustle with an unseen wind. She’ll drop it down onto her table in shock, and step backwards, looking at it for a moment. Then she’ll quietly say that she’s never felt such power in her life, and it was like a part of her was finally whole.
A determined look crosses her face, and she’ll press the money jar into your chest as payment, before grabbing the Wand again. Her fiancé looks at her in horror, before asking her what she is doing. She tells him that she finally felt whole, like there was a power she’s always had coursing through her. It was wonderful, like nothing she’s ever experienced in her life. Now that she’s felt the Wand, there’s no way she can just walk away from her dreams of being a Wave Walker. It’s who she is, was always meant to be!
Her fiancé shakes his head, reminding her of her promise to him, and asking if she would break a sacred vow. Tears well up in Lyssa’s eyes, and she snuggles into her fiancé’s chest and says that he doesn’t understand how much this means to her. He pushes her away firmly, saying that if it meant so much to her, she should never have made the promise. He warns her that traditions exist for a reason, and even though they may not know what it is, he believes there is a reason why women shouldn’t become Wave Speakers. If she chooses this path, he says, he doesn’t know if he can marry her anymore.
Lyssa gasps, then shakes her head while crying silent tears, before grabbing the Wave Wand and striding with it into the town. Her fiancé sighs and follows her some distance back; a hard, hurt look on his face.
Should you follow them into town, you’ll see Lyssa get up on a rock in the town square, overlooking the waves. She demands everyone’s attention as, behold, she–a woman–becomes a Wave Speaker.
Amidst this kafuffle some of the elders emerge from the long hall, and gasp loudly, talking amongst themselves about a fifth Wave Wand. Lyssa’s fiancé stands there with them, watching with a pained expression on his face as Lyssa holds up the Wand.
The wand shines with light, and her hair rustles again from that unseen breeze. The waves rise up at her behest, crashing in surly swells against the shore. With a look of pure ecstasy on her face, a great beam of golden light shines down from the heavens and illuminates her.
But then, her body changes. Her hair grows long and unruly, and her legs morph into the silver tail of a siren. She becomes more beautiful, while growing silver horns and claws. Then she drops the Wand with a hiss, looking down at burned hands, before glancing at the crowd and diving into the raging ocean waves. Once in the water, she quickly disappears beneath the swell.
After she is gone, the waters settle again, but her fiancé will cry out in horror. He runs out to the edge of the ocean, crying and asking others to help him look for her. Some of the locals come to his aid, but they won’t be able to find what was once Lyssa.
An elder wanders up to you as this happens, shaking his head and saying that he’d heard stories that the town was founded by the first Wave Speaker and his siren lover. The stories told that she abandoned power to choose love, and so was gifted a woman’s body. He thought it was only ever a story, but now…
The elder muses that he finally understands why the women of the village were not allowed to handle the power of the Wave Wand; for it looks like should they use it, their god’s blessing will leave them, and their siren blood will take over.
Should you ask why, if that’s the case, this doesn’t happen when men use the Wave Wands, he’ll stroke his beard. After a long silence, he’ll look at you and say that he’s never seen a male siren–have you?
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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.