Groundstruck: Down to Alabaster
Alabaster, a world of mystic wonder and danger, where water not bound by gravity runs in great rivers and amorphous seas across the sky. If not for the lights of the Soul Stream, a collection of dearly departed souls moving to their final resting place, this world would be in constant darkness in the absence of its stolen sun.
This is a land where myths are born and destinies are forged by the hands of people who are willing to seize it by right, blade, bullet, or spell. Knightly orders, deadly swordsmen, and quick witted gunslingers collide in the new boomtown of Groundstruck, the first location on Alabaster to be touched by water in over a thousand years.
Whether you follow the guiding lights of the ancestral spirits that swim the sky rivers, wander the surface, or look for a weapon of destiny, it is an auspicious moment of hope as the divided peoples may once again unite or be driven further apart. Will you work with the people to bring peace and prosperity, or hoard this land's new-found wealth and plunge it into chaos?
History of Alabaster
1000 years ago, a Phytanid alchemist named Pyrifera attempted to create the fountain of immortality by synthesizing the spirit of the Sun with the roots of the World Tree. Unable to control the Sun Spirit’s immense power, the World Tree erupted into flames that spread up through the branches and passages to the other realms, purging everything in their wake. The Sun Spirit, angered by the insolent actions of the surface dwellers, used every last drop of water on Alabaster to douse the uncontrolled blaze, killing itself in the process and extinguishing its warming light forever.
Faced with certain doom and the prospect of freezing to death in a barren world, Dipnoi, a Mobiru Priest, made a deal with the spirit of the Moon; at the cost of their life and a mysterious promise, water from the spirit realm flooded back into the world. Unbound by gravity, this magical water spread throughout the sky and took the Phytan and the Mobiru with it.
The location of our narrative, Groundstruck, is rumored to be the location of the fabled eternal spring that caused the sundering of the peoples and their ascent to the sky. Its waters had been sealed away long ago by the heat and pressure of the sun's extinguishing, forming a large underground reservoir that belongs to the earth but has periodically been called to the sky in the form of powerful geysers. These recently broke the surface and connected with the spirit water in the skies. The people seeing this as an omen, began to gather here in droves, resulting in the rapid development of a bustling new town. Those who dare to undertake an expedition here are looking for answers about their pasts, a chance to strike it rich, and maybe live forever.
Phytanids are a race of humanoid people with many similarities to the plants they cultivate for food and shelter. Some have skin resembling bark, some look like vines, and some even resemble mushrooms. They grow their homes on top of the coral reefs the Mobiru make, and have borrowed aspects of their culture such as their understanding of honor and chivalry. They are inquisitive and tenacious, eager to set roots into new soil and use their abilities to grow plants into any shape they desire including weapons, armor, and tools. With the news that the surface is now reachable, many Phytanids have left their homes on top of the sky rivers and rushed to explore this new land.
Mobiru come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, pulling inspiration from the wide variety of sea life on our Earth. They pride themselves on cooperation and acting for the good of the group. They can manipulate the minerals in their native waters to grow coral reefs to live and work in, and, as a service honored by many, their priests seal away evil spirits that have escaped the Soul Stream. A Mobiru's esteem in the eyes of their peers is their most valuable measure of self-worth, and losing face is a disaster worthy of death. The chance to carve their name in history as one of the first Mobiru to touch the ground is an opportunity that calls to any individual looking to raise their status.
Believed to be a fairytale species by the Phytanids and the Mobiru, the Stromatoans are a tough, rock-like species. Compared to the Phytanids, they stand about half as tall, and while never pure white, are usually shades of pastel. Their skin has a similar texture to pumice stone or dried moss. They never need water, can survive for months without food, and can live for centuries. Their shamans can communicate with the spirits of the departed, and their craftsmen can separate the earth from metal ore and refine it into durable objects. The geyser near Groundstruck has brought all sorts of new ores and minerals to the surface for them to use.
Map by DoubleBardProductions using Inkarnate
History: Ocean Floor Dried up, Ecological Imbalance, A Wild Danger Grows
Form: sandy ocean floor/coral
Feature: glass like desert
Absolutes/Norms: Always sunny, Water never stays grounded
Hazards: Sentient Quicksand, Iron Duststorms, The Great Magnification
Points of Interest: The Gypsum Forest, The Mist of the Lost
History: Shattering Water Event, Meeting of the People, Founding of the Town Last Year
Form: Haphazard western town made of fossilized coral, on top of a nightmare before christmas peak. Three way intersection with each community taking up one, and a bar in the middle.
Need: For the infighting to stop
Feature: Sky Geyser
Absolutes/Norms: Always Humid/Slightly Damp, Never a moments Peace
Hazards: Scalding Upward Mud Bubbles, Earth Tremor, Duels
Points of Interest: Broken Geode Cave, The Golden Pineapple Bar
History: The Spirit Tree, Castle Construction Spreads, East Scilia Trading Company
Form: Collection of buildings that are being grown from plants
Need: Finish the castle under construction
Feature: The General Store
Absolutes/Norms: Always a cool breeze, Always under construction
Hazards: Wildfires, Seeds of Dissent
Points of Interest: The Root Network, Terrace with a View
History: Wavefall Disaster, Established Trade with the Stromatoa, Death of the Shogun
Form: Collection of buildings that are made from coral
Need: Fresh water
Feature: The Bank
Absolutes/Norms: Tensions are Always High, Never Disorderly
Hazards: Stampede of Sea Cows, Kelp Bloom
Points of Interest: Gates of Water Farm, Geyser Shrine
History: Land Deal, Famine, Dealing with Controversial Laws
Form: collection of buildings that are carved from stone/shaped earth
Need: quell dissent and establish order
Feature: The Jail
Absolutes/Norms: Always Shines from gems, Never any plants that grow
Hazards: Glass Powder Storm, Diamond Hailstones
Points of Interest: The Singing Stones, Geode Farm
- Age: Middle Adult
- Race: Mobiru
- Description: Mantis Shrimp-inspired accents, bright blue body, hot dad energy.
- Class: Samurai
- Stats: Dexterity, Speed
- Abilities: Saltwater Iaijutsu, Shellblade Mastery, Tigershark Dash, Crabclaw Parry
Odanato is a slim male with a bright blue body. The tips of his fringed fins and whiskers are striped with red and white, and his chest is iridescent with yellows and greens. In his youth, his sword skills were unparalleled, and he still uses his clan's signature technique of crystallizing pearly swords out of the calcium in the water around him. While the color has faded from his scales and he rumbles about pain in his lower dorsals, his reflexes and sense of honor have not diminished one bit.
- Age: Young Adult
- Race: Mobiru
- Description: Stingray-inspired, red body and long white dorsal fins that resemble a shrine maiden, shy and unconfident
- Class: Priest
- Stats: Charisma, Wisdom
- Abilities: Throwable Spell Seals, Healing Light, Rite of the Second Death, Barrier Magic
Ikura is an up and coming priestess, tasked by their order with guarding the lawless town of Groundstruck against any evil spirits that may try to assail it. They have a red body and long white dorsal fins that gracefully fall past their waist. They fight with incantations and tags inscribed with spells to repel the living and exorcize the dead...but will those tags work on these new spirits who've never seen their clan? Oh no, this could be a problem...
- Age: Full Adult
- Race: Mobiru
- Description: Siamese fighting fish inspired, black scales, fins resembling flowing sleeves, self-assured and confident.
- Class: Ninja
- Stats: Stealth, Intelligence
- Abilities: Adaptive Camouflage, Neurotoxin, Hidden Fan/Fin Blades, Squid Climbing Suckers
There's few places in the skies of Alabaster where Delta isn't wanted for something, so why not ply her talents on the ground? After all, the laws here are still being written, and surely with all the minerals being grabbed here, someone's eventually going to want someone else dead. Delta has a surreal, geisha-like beauty that belies her natural talents to evade capture and eliminate her target.
- Age: Young Adult
- Race: Stromatoan
- Description: Faded blue surface, wide-brimmed white hat with a nick in the brim, leather belt with a pistol, well-spoken and charming
- Class: Gunslinger
- Stats: Speed, Charm
- Abilities: Flintlock Footwork, The Quick and the Dead, Disarming Drawl, Shoot from the Butte
Most Stromatoans are slow to change and wary of their new neighbors from the world of the sky...but Laz isn't most Stromatoans. This blue-tinted wanderer is never without a song on her lips and a story to tell, and you'd be forgiven for thinking she'd never hurt a fly. But Laz is smart enough to know that some fools only listen to her sixshooter. While she'll never shoot first, her shot will always be the last.
- Age: Full Adult
- Race: Stromatoan
- Description: Red sandstone exterior, Rockwool cape with black/orange/yellow stripes, laid back personality.
- Class: Shaman
- Stats: Wisdom, Constitution
- Abilities: Earth Manipulation, Scrying Sands, Fossil Totem (Pterodactyl), Set in Stone
Ignatio, or “Nacho” as the locals have taken to calling him, is a red-tinted Stromatoan who loves to hang back, take the world as it comes, and just give peace a chance, man. He's also extremely well attuned with both the earth and the spirit realm, and can call upon their aid if he feels threatened. But honestly, he'd rather just soar above the earth on the back of his pterodactyl totem, munching on the newest batch of that good seagrass.
- Age: Elderly Adult
- Race: Stromatoan
- Description: Faded lime-green exterior, gruff, scarred face, taciturn but compassionate
- Class: Ranger
- Stats: Strength, Grit/Toughness
- Abilities: Leaping Left Hook, Lifeblood from a Stone, Built Like a Rock, THIS is a Knife!
The green-tinted Stromatoan has gone by many names over many lifetimes...or so the stories claim. Some say they were born on the same day as the Great Migration, some say they witnessed it with their own eyes, and others say they are the first Stromatoan - doomed to wander the earth for all eternity for a crime forgotten to all. A survival expert capable of guiding a Mobiru through the sunbleached deserts of Alabaster, Basil is coarse, knows the wastes like the back of their hand, and is as simple as their huge carving knife. If there's ever a task that needs doing, Basil will work at it until the job is done, and that's all there is to it.
- Age: Young Adult
- Race: Deciduous Phytanid
- Description: Reedy frame, oak-bark complexion, carries a cloth pennant with an oak tree on it, passionate and energetic.
- Class: Knight
- Stats: Strength, Wisdom
- Abilities: Sword and Board, Shelter from Harm, Unwavering Fealty, Rooted in Chivalry
Querca is a young knight in the Order of the Oak. The daughter of a carpenter, she has a soft, birch-like complexion, and uses her family's wordforming talents to grow swords, shields, and armor as soon as she needs them. Though only a year out of her squireship, she has come to Groundstruck to find the lost Sapling of the World Tree, confident that her strength of body and character will see her quest through.
- Age: Elderly Adult
- Race: Flower Phytanid
- Description: Dark green skin, brown root-like hair and beard littered with multicolored flowers, deaf in one ear, a bit of a nut but friendly
- Class: Alchemist
- Stats: Intelligence, Constitution
- Abilities: Self-Grown Garden [Plant Incorporation into Self], Distill Spirits, Poison Tolerance, Transmutation
One of the more colorful characters in Groundstruck on hue alone, Solanaceus (or Sol) cultivates the herbs he uses in his brews by growing them in his long, scraggly beard. If you've got a problem from a low flagon to a mid-sized dragon, Sol has just the tonic for you. Though his detractors would have you believe he spends his spare time drunk off his own supply, Sol believes that the key reagents to the Elixir of Immortality are buried somewhere in the soil of Alabaster, and he'll burn as much spirit oil as it takes to brew it.
- Age: Midlife Adult
- Race: Coniferous Phytanid
- Description: Dark brown skin, blue-green buzzcut, standoffish but kind
- Class: Bard
- Stats: Charism, Charm
- Abilities: Song of Ancient Pine, Inspirational Story, Dance of the Fallen Sand, Prickly Skin
Many other bards would sing to you tales of love and romance, dashing knights clad in green rescuing fair maidens from the clutches of sea creatures dread and mighty. Larix has heard enough of those insipid diddies to last a lifetime, thank you very much. Their head is covered with short needles, which they can pluck to accompany their voice, and they carry a sturdy rapier if things ever require a stronger touch. The moment they left their apprenticeship, they took to the streams in search of new songs, and the stories of a culture untouched for centuries lured them to Groundstruck not long after.
- Malachai, Stromatoan Fem-Fatalle singer with a thigh pistol (F)
- Ikutos, Mobiru, Priest, friendly, heart of gold, moral backbone (F)
- Curabu-dono, Crab type Mobiru, oil baron type, owns the Golden Pineapple (M)
- Kanikura, Crab-type Mobiru, son of Curabu, extradited away from Groundstruck to be tried by the Shogun.
- Ochra, Yellow Stromatoan, enthusiastic young bartender at the Golden Pineapple (M)
- Samarum, Phytanid Don Quixote/Kolorodo, old knight in search of the Sapling. (M)
- Astera, Phytanid, General Store Owner (F)
Other Notable Aspects of the World:
Items of significance
- Sapling of the World Tree created into legendary axe
- Spirit Lamps
- Eaten by Stromatoan
- Made into weapon = Rhinestone Revolver
- Land/Farming areas
- Non-gravitated Water
- Access to Spirit Gates
Flora and Fauna
- Guardian Spirits
- Vampiric Snakes
- Bullet Hounds
- Soul Lantern Fish
- Wolf Spiders
- Tremor Worms
- Man-sized Carpenter Ants
- Locust-like Trilobite Swarms
- Tumbleweed Crabs
- Bendy Goats
Magic on Alabaster
Each race relies on the spirits of the departed to work their magic, but each race uses the spirits slightly differently. Regardless, without the energies of the departed, none of these magic users would be able to work their craft.
The Stromatoan magic users are shamans. Most of the lost souls who have fallen from the Soul Stream find their way to the ground, and the Stromatoans learned to communicate with them and ask for their help. Once they form a contract, the shamans bind these spirits into gemstones to cast their spells, and the shaman releases them and helps them find the afterlife when their service is done or enough time has passed.
Mobiru priests and priestesses use ink mixed with their own blood to create talismans that can bind spirits into physical forms, giving them command over the spirit. Often these spirits are bound into pearls and worn as jewelry or used as decoration on other objects. The same spirit can be recaptured dozens or even hundreds of times, and these rage-filled spirits will cause as much havoc as they can if they are released.
Phytanids discovered very early on in the development of their magics that the flame produced by burning a soul was capable of not just breaking down matter, but philosophical concepts. The potions their alchemists brew are made by distilling many different varieties of plants and flowers into their essences. Captured souls fuel this reaction and the process of burning a soul this way utterly destroys it - a fact that many Stromatoans see as a horrible sacrilege.
Night of the Gilded Lily!
About a month ago, a new plant suddenly bloomed in Groundstruck. The lily-like flowers were bright, metallic, and easy to grow, so people took to planting them in window boxes and gardens around the town. Last night, though, something happened. A Phytanid scream echoed from the Root Cellar, and by the time help arrived, there was nothing left but their walking stick and a single lily. Can you discover what happened before the killer strikes again?
- The lilies are killed and the townsfolk are never found.
- The disease is identified and the infected discover how to manage their curse.
- The disease is identified and a cure synthesized.
Continuing Plot Hook: The lilies are identified as a species not native to either the surface or the waters; could there be more water-filled life that survived on the surface of Alabaster?
Obsidus and the Soul-Stealers
After Zircon's death, his gang fractured into several smaller gangs, the largest of which is led by his right-hand man Obsidus, the Nastiest Shaman in the West. Rumor is that they've got a hideout by the Singing Stones, and it's past time someone put a stop to their antics.
- Obsidus bargains knowledge of the Sapling for he and his bandits’ freedom.
- The bandits are captured but Obsidus escapes.
- Obsidus and all bandits are rounded up.
Continuing Plot Hook: Obsidus knows a legend about the Sapling of the World Tree being turned into an ax.
Curabu-Dono’s Bid for Mayordom! A Secret Diamond, or a Lump of Coal?
With the town of Groundstruck now officially incorporated, the first job of the new government is to elect a mayor, and with the election date fast approaching, both Curabu-dono, the proprietor of the Golden Pineapple, and Ms. Astera, the owner of the general store, are both throwing time and money at the campaign. Curabu is corrupt but has good management skills, while Astera is kind but overworked enough with running the store. Who will you support in this inaugural election?
- Curabu becomes mayor.
- Astera becomes mayor.
- The vote is split and Ochra becomes mayor.
Continuing Plot Hook: After the mayor is sworn in, all of the spirits in and around the town grow restless and agitated, causing all sorts of mischief. Whatever is causing this, it has to be stopped before they destroy the town.
Art by Ser Floozles III (contact [email protected] for commissions)
@Double-Bards I like the sky rivers and the legendary sapling axe! I'd play a game in this world!
@duckluck Thanks! we would love to GM it for someone