Inside, I touch the reddish-tinged glowing walls of the orb briefly and recoil as it gives an angry hum. Cautiously, I take a seat on the bare, uncomfortable, obsidian bench, conveniently set in its center. This was my first interview and it was going to be strange. I accepted this fact. I sit there awkwardly, fidgeting...and attempt a dry parched whistle for a melody...total...failure. I lick my lips slightly to work some saliva….this is nuts.
“Are you ready?”
I look through the orb’s walls at an excited PrinceofNothing who has both hands on a rusty lever. I try to understand his tirade of vocabulary knowing I didn’t have time to look up any of their meaning this time. I catch the words “glory” and something about the ‘heavens’. I violently shake my head ‘No!’ but he merely pulls the lever.
“Prince...This idea is fuuuuuu%6cked!!!” I scream as the orb drops and carries me through a dark chute, onward to some god awful dimension locked in the mind of the one who just pulled the lever!
The orb hums quietly before settling on the floor of a great chamber with a resounding ‘crunch’ as bones become pulverized under the weight of the orb and corpses gasp their last remaining fluids upon the dark floor. Columns of basalt, cracked with great age, soar upwards and disappear into the darkness. The walls are jet black obsidian, drinking in the light. A jagged black obsidian throne faces me, cloaked in shadows, but I can feel a presence and my brain screams at me to flee. A small silhouette sits in the throne and I feel like a thousand eyes are staring at me. Suddenly, several silhouettes of strange figures and shapes approach casually, their demeanor grim, except for one...a beautiful crystal woman, who lovingly strokes the orbs walls that protect me before returning to her companions.
“Hey look, umm...this wasn’t my idea. You see, this other dude interviewed Prince first...and well, I didn’t want to copy him, so I thought I would ask you all some questions instead.” I lick my lips and attempt to swallow the nervousness, but I’m greeted with only silence.
I bolt upright and glance over towards the area of the grating voice and see a stick-thin giant in tattered ceremonial rags.
“Malrex, nice to meet yo...”
The creature...thing..writes something down and ventures off without another word.
“Alright, so ummm. let’s start with you.” I study the crystal woman, the only thing that doesn’t seem too frightening to look at in the dark and gloomy place. I take a closer look, admiring the shapes of azure glass, luscious locks of spun electrum and platinum and the perfect face. Time passes…..
“Err..right, the question! How did you get so gorgeou...errr, I mean, how did you find yourself down in this cavern that holds the Palace of Uyu-Yadmogh? I heard rumors you might be a gardener of trees or something? Have you ever met someone who has broken your heart?”
Glass Concubine: "If I could speak to you I would sing of jeweled spires and islands surrounded by waves of lapis lazuli. In their dying days they made us to suffer and to bring suffering. In a grove of stone I await eternity in the shadow of timeless evil. My heart has been broken a thousand times. All that I love dies in my hands. Perhaps with you it would be different?"
I quickly nod rapidly and try to retort but the whole orb shakes from a blast of light emitting from the shadows. The others in the chamber seem to get excited as the protective reddish hue of the orb starts to fade. Another blast rocks the orb, and I white-knuckle the obsidian bench and grit my teeth. “OMG! I’m dead..” The orb quickly changes shape to a cube and the light blasts stop. A globe of mirrored black glass emerges from the shadows.
“Ahh, Mr. Sartoom. Wasn’t sure if you would show up. Were you jealous of my orb or something?” I greet the awkward silence with a weak smile then after several moments I blurt out….”WTF are you!!….I mean...I heard you are a bit of a traveler...do you care to share where you come from?”
The Sartoom: *Deep Basso Humm that is felt in teeth and bones* *Sounds as of shattering mirrors echoing through vast caverns* *Zimmer Horns*
I nod feigning interest then begin to shiver as I feel a presence above me, although I see nothing...but it’s there. My head swivels to and fro and I finally stand to try to gain a better look at what has my attention. Nothing…..suddenly a corpse begins to stand, wreathed in a colorless flame and inside the orb, I could feel it becoming colder. The zombie’s mouth opens and closes as if exercising it and I will myself to ignore the few teeth that fall out and clatter to the floor. I then feel a spine tingling chill….as understanding creeps inside me of what I face.
“Azarog..” a croaked whisper emerges from my lips and I immediately cough to hide my uneasiness. “THE Azarog...I have so many questions….” I rattle them off in my nervousness. “Do you know a Jim Henson? Do you animate things when you are lonely and need company? Do you like killing Children of the Tree or Sial Atun better? Have you seen the Nine? I thought they were supposed to come to this gathering... I was also curious what you have against right hands...I heard rumors of an altar and everyone’s right hands are gone...what’s the deal?” I shove my right hand in my pocket and try to appear calm.
The Azarog: “Riders of the heavens raise the hosts this morsel trespasses on the grounds of the master he invokes the Henson do we know we know not so cramped the seething ever-burning ever-shrieking nearness need room need to expand a host a vessel ride forth my legions take them we need to expand we need to stretch our limbs and wear flesh again the emptiness the cold take them all everything that breathes beyond the Black Shore escape escape escape and walk the sands in hordes of thousands so many buried under the sands how large we could be how much room if only we could escape could he know could he do it take him take him take him.”
A rattle of a giant chain knocks over a priceless vase and a hulking brute storms off, dragging the long chain with him, obviously bored of my presence. I welcomed the distraction from the droning Azarog, shrugged and mark off the question I had for Diorag.
I breathe in and then out, calming myself as I then lay my eyes upon the shadowy throne looking for the man-sized shape I saw earlier….I gasp..it’s bigger now….I rub my eyes as the shadow seems to keep growing….giant sized! It’s power resonating like a thundering bolt of lightning.
“Hello Mr..err..King? Uyu-Jadmogh..err Yadmogh. Did I say that right? Rumor on the street is that you have killed gods with your sorcery...is that true? And if that is true, why then are you worried of their judgment? Why not go venture forth into the desert, maybe get a tan…? Why not go find your Weapon to protect yourself rather than wallow down here in the dark? Also, I heard you might be able to tell me where the Vault of Oblivion is located…I might need to do another interview there at some point..?
Uyu-Yadmogh: “Come to me and know the terror of revelation.”
My legs buckle from the sound of its voice and a gasp escapes my dry lips. Thankfully the cube I was in turns back into a orb, its redness flares and I quickly scramble to the bench, holding it with a death grip. I see the Sartoom quiver with excitement and I offer an awkward wave goodbye. Blasts of light encompass the orb as it whirls and hurtles upwards at astonishing speeds, making me pass out into blackness briefly.
I awake and open my eyes...I see him...Prince....”You!! what the hell man? That was insane! I pissed myself...not cool!” I shake my head, trying to forget the experience.
How...no...WHY is this stuff inside your head? I saw things down there…..things from nightmares. Where did you get your inspiration for PoUR?
Prince: That's a hard question. My mind is one of extremes. I grew up on a diet of Warhammer 40k novels and berserk manga. I've read Howard, Leiber, Lovecraft, C.A. Smith, Wagner, Hodgson and Bakker and I have absorbed their teachings in my bones. It's Gustav Dore, H.R. Giger, William Barlowe and Hieronymous Bosch. I've played Diablo, Darkest Dungeon, Dark Souls and Castlevania until my fingers became blackened stumps. This is what needed to get out. A true descent into the underworld, to face darkness undiluted, that's what we are going to do here.
We got some people who have thrown their trust in us and are backing our Kickstarter (THANK YOU!). So tell me and them, what is your favorite part about Palace...and/or why is it different from all the other OSR adventures out there? Why is it worth people’s cash? Will people be able to drop it in their own campaigns easily?
Prince: I think in terms of atmosphere its got a commitment to artistic vision that is up there with Death Frost Doom or Deep Carbon Observatory. But it's coupled with laser-sharp design and interactivity. There's faction play, elements of the environment that must be manipulated, bizarre obstacles to overcome or evade. Besides that, almost every creature and item is entirely new. It's D&D, but its D&D from a distant epoch in the far future, littered with the detritus of ages, inhabited by the horrors of wars long ago. Can you drop this in your campaign? I've added a little textbox somewhere where I give some tips on how to convert it, but there's no reason you can't throw it in your own campaign. Does your campaign have room for a race of long dead wizards? No? Then perhaps your characters can step through a portal or wake up one day to find themselves in some far off corner of the multiverse, where the sun grows dim and beneath the ground is a palace in alabaster and obsidian.
Ok tough question. You are a reviewer of countless adventures…. What’s the worse part about Palace or what could be improved?….and if you say the parts that I worked on, I WILL cut you.
Prince: The worst part? It's complex. There's different factions to keep track off and unfamiliar magical elements that can be carried over from different sections of the dungeon. I've taken pains to add helpful metadata and tips on how to handle certain parts so I don't foresee any major problems. Keep Calm and GM it. There's lore but if your players just want to grind dungeons there's no reason they can't. All the storytelling is implied rather then in your face.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Prince: Definitely a conifer, maybe a Sequoia.
I have seen you rattle and prattle about books and your fancy book talk. What is your most inspirational or favorite author? Why?
Prince: I'll try to keep it to a paragraph :P Outside the greats (Tolkien, Eddison, Lovecraft etc.) and classic mythology like the Illiad, the Sagas, The Ring des Niebelungen I am a huge fan of R.Scott Bakker. Favorite non-fantasy author is Cormac Mccarthy. Bakker does grimdark in a way that I think is unprecedented. The Grimdark extends all the way to the nature of the world. His portrayal of cultures of antiquity is utterly devoid of a hint of modernity and comes across as authentic, his villains have a horror and an obscenity to them that is unprecedented and his whole series is a post-truth take on the Tolkinian epic. The prose is weighty and lyrical, there's a weight to it that is rare nowadays. Very recommended, maybe skip if you have delicate sensibilities.
What is your favorite monster or faction in PoUR? How about magic item?
Prince: I can't reveal my favorite monster because we are saving that as an unpleasant surprise for the PCs when they enter the Palace. Faction, the Sial-Atun? Iron Age Sardaukar deserters? Sign me up! Item, probably the Prism of Ethereal Imprisonment. Making a sword with different stats is pretty easy but coming up with something that can genuinely affect play in a way that is different from the book items is harder.
When you interviewed me about City of Vermilion, you stated that you were skeptical of campaign settings. The Age of Dusk seems pretty different...are you compelled to write a campaign setting for it one day?
Prince: Outside of a smattering of blog posts? I don't know, it depends on the amount of interest. I'm a big fan of stuff that can be used directly and most campaign settings end up as inspirational material but ultimately inert. I think it would be very awesome but I'd have to put consideration into how to convey it so people could 'get it.' I think the best way to convey Age of Dusk for the moment is a series of modules, so that is what I will be focusing on.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Prince: I'd like to pre-emptively thank all my readers, everyone who donated to the kickstarter, our talented artists, everyone who helped pass the word and especially you, my editor in chief, for getting this show on the road. It's going to be epic.
Hell yeah, it IS going to be epic! Thanks for your time Prince. Our kickstarter is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mercilessmerchants/the-palace-of-unquiet-repose
We have 17 days to go. This is the ONLY opportunity to acquire the Screaming Caverns as it won’t be published anywhere else. Don’t miss out! Thanks for your consideration and support!