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Into the Research Garden

Illustration of tree with red bark that is dramatically lit by sunlight in a lush green forest.

 

Adventure Overview

You are part of a team of investigative journalists working for the Crossroads Observer. The Observer has obtained a sample that could finally expose the dirty dealings of the wealthy Steward Family. Your job is to convince the expert Juniper Huckleberry to analyze this sample. The only problem is that Juniper is an infamously reclusive gnome druid who lives in her research garden, which is full of dangerous magical plants.

This comedic adventure is all about the player characters encountering the strange, wonderful, and dangerous magical plants and fungi of Juniper’s research garden. While some of the plants are directly hostile, most of them are just using magic to do standard plant things like get pollinated, spread their seeds, and avoid getting eaten. It is the way that all of these different quirky plant abilities come together within the Magic Goes Awry game system that provides the wild situations and humor of this game.

Magic Goes Awry is a rules-light game system with in-depth character creation that supports player creativity. (A set of vivid, quirky, premade characters are available for those who want them.) This system is built around the principles of accessibility and inclusion, with game play that focuses on creative problem-solving. Magic Goes Awry is a fail forward system that turns failure into humorous complications. Combined with its whimsical, high fantasy setting, this system supports game play that is imaginative and heartfelt, where humor naturally arises from the wild moments that happen when magic has gone awry.

Please note that this page is currently a work in progress.

 

Outline

Background

The History of Lampstones

What the Stewards Are Doing

Juniper’s Analysis

What Is Going on in the Research Garden

How Investigative Journalism Works

Nonplayer Character Summary (Will include links to character sheets for Juniper and Plip when they are done)

Opening the Adventure

Safety Tools

Flashback Mechanic

Setting the Scene

The Briefing

In the Research Garden

Challenge #1: Entering Juniper’s Garden

Challenge #2: Temperate Grassland vs. Swamp

Challenge #3: Tropical Forest vs. Temperate Forest

Challenge #4: Juniper’s House

Challenge #5: The Tree of Eternal Sleep

Conclusion

 

 

Background

The History of Lampstones

For many generations people living in desert regions have been combining the gel inside of Flashing Stone Cactuses with the nectar from the Tree of Eternal Sleep to produce a strong white light. This glowing mixture is kept in glass jars and used for illumination. If the jar is well sealed it can last for several years, but it still fades over time.

The nectar from the Tree of Eternal Sleep is a stimulant that allows pollinators to resist the tree’s sleep-inducing magic. This stimulating quality is the reason why it causes the gel from Flashing Stone Cactus to continuously emit a steady light, rather than a sudden overwhelming flash of light, like it normally does.

Fifty years ago, Juniper Huckleberry led the team that created Glowing Stone Cactus from Flashing Stone Cactus. Glowing Stone Cactus can only live in ground that is infused with magic, but it produces a steady light without the need for the nectar of the Tree of Eternal Sleep, which is important because the Tree of Eternal Sleep is both dangerous and difficult to cultivate. Glowing Stone Cactuses also have a high degree of magical stability, which is important for the production of lampstones.

Lampstones are made by alchemically treating Glowing Stone Cactus extract, mixing it with resin, shaping it into a ball, and sealing it with binding magic. This produces a fist-sized, stone-like ball that has three brightness levels: a dim light that makes nearby things easier to see without ruining night vision, a medium light that is like an average lantern, and a bright light that illuminates the surrounding area the way a bonfire would. The binding magic allows the lampstone to cycle through these three brightness levels on its owner’s command, which can be either verbal or signed. A lampstone’s heatless light lasts five to ten years.

 

What the Stewards are Doing

Glowing Stone Cactus extract is expensive because Glowing Stone Cactus is a slow growing plant that requires magical soil. As a way to cut expenses, the Steward family is diluting the Glowing Stone Cactus extract with the extract of illegally harvested Flashing Stone Cactuses. This is causing significant harm to the wild populations of Flashing Stone Cactus, which is of particular concern because its flowers are an important source of nectar for pollinators, especially migratory pollinators like humming birds, bats, and butterflies.

In addition, adding Flashing Stone Cactus extract into lampstones creates magical instability. Most commonly, this instability results in the gradual development of an unpleasant flickering in the lampstones’ light (like an obnoxious fluorescent bulb). However, more serious consequences can develop, such as sudden bright flashes of light that temporarily blind nearby people. More than a few collisions and other accidents have been caused by these bright flashes. Most concerning of all, extremely unstable lampstones can explode when they come into contact with water.

Normally these dangerous instabilities take years to develop, a fact that makes it easy to blame them on other causes, like magic that has gone awry. However three months ago, a workshop run by the Steward family created a batch of thirty lampstones that had too much Flashing Stone Extract in it. This made them develop their instabilities much more quickly than usual. One of them exploded, injuring five people.

The Steward family is now desperately trying to track down and collect these lampstones. But the staff at Crossroads Observer were able to get to one of them first. While magical and alchemical analyses were being done on the lampstone, the lead reporter, Elora Veracity, was able to contact Juniper Hucleberry. Juniper hates poaching and the way that the Stewards financing it, so she agreed to analyze the lampstone to find out if it contained Flashing Stone Cactus extract.

Unfortunately, the Stewards found out that the Observer had one of the lampstones and they trashed the Observer’s office looking for it. While they didn’t find it, it is certain that they will use any means necessary to obtain it. This means that it is imperative that this lampstone is taken to Juniper right away. But Juniper is a recluse who is impossible to contact on short notice. So someone needs to take this lampstone to her. The only problem is that she lives in a gigantic research garden full of dangerous plants and anti-poacher protections.

This is where the player characters come in. While Elora Veracity causes a distraction, it is their job to go into Juniper’s research garden, get the lampstone to her, and give her any help that she needs to analyze it.

 

Juniper’s Analysis

When a small amount of Flashing Stone Cactus extract is added to Glowing Stone Cactus extract, the Flashing Stone Cactus extract starts to glow. This makes it hard to distinguish whether or not Flashing Stone Cactus extract is present. But if there is a large amount of Flashing Stone Cactus extract in the mixture, then the overall glow is dimmer. In addition, nectar from a freshly harvested flower of the Tree of Eternal Sleep strongly increases its brightness. This makes it a good test for Flashing Stone Cactus extract in this lampstone. The challenge is that the flower needs to be picked within a minute of opening and on the day that the player characters arrive with the lampstone, everyone in Juniper’s garden is needed to work on a dangerous project.

 

What Is Going on in the Research Garden

Today is the day that everyone in Juniper’s garden is working on transplanting the Lava Pine. A Lava Pine is best thought of as living molten rock that subsists on the geothermal energy that it absorbs through its roots. When a Lava Pine is thriving, it absorbs enough energy to keep the rock inside its trunk and branches fully molten. If a Lava Pine is struggling, the rock inside its trunk and branches cools and thickens, causing blockages that can lead to an eruption. The cooler the tree is, the more violent the eruption will be.

The Lava Pine in Juniper’s garden is fed geothermal energy by a magical power source that periodically needs to be replaced. Every moment that the Lava Pine is disconnected from its power source is dangerous. This is why the most effective way to switch the power source is to set up a new power source in a nearby location and then quickly transplant the Lava Pine from its old power source to its new one.

This dangerous project is the reason that the player characters get so far into Juniper’s garden before they encounter anyone. When the player characters first enter the garden, Juniper, her wife Estella, and their two assistants, Plip and Ha-Joon, are just starting the first stage of transplanting. This stage involves separating all of the roots that aren’t connected to the geothermal power source from the ground—including the roots that are holding the Lava Pine upright.

If the player characters cause an excessive amount of chaos or set off the guard bushes, Juniper and Plip will leave the transplanting to go investigate the situation together. However, if the player characters make it to the place where the transplanting is occurring, then Plip will come over and great them while the others continue to work.

Communication with the player characters is rushed and as soon as everyone knows what is going on, the player characters are informed that the analysis of the lampstone can only be done today if they are willing pick a flower from the Tree of Eternal Sleep. Once the player characters agree, Plip quickly shepherds them along to the tree and then leaves them there with limited instructions, some confusing comments about the dangers of the tree, and no indication of how to proceed.

 

How Investigative Journalism Works

In progress.

 

Nonplayer Character Summary

Elora Veracity (she/her): Pronounced ah-lohr-rah vehr-AH-sih-tee. Elora is the lead reporter of the Crossroads Observer. She is a dwarven arcane investigative journalist. Elora is the one who briefs the player characters and sends them off their mission to get the lampstone to Juniper.

Description: Elora is a four foot tall dwarven woman with brown skin that has warm undertones. She is wearing a simple, dark red sari and her black hair is pulled back into a thick braid.

Amar Ramsey (he/him): Pronounced uh-muhr RAM-zee. Amar is the Observer’s on staff teleporter. He is a human mage that specializes in teleportation. Amar teleports the player characters to Juniper’s garden.

Juniper Huckleberry (she/her): Juniper is a prominent magical plants expert who has agreed to analyze the lampstone sample. She is a gnome druid that can talk to plants. Juniper led the team that created the Glowing Stone Cactus for lampstone production fifty years ago. She is also extremely reclusive. Juniper’s garden is in the druid community of Sacred Grove.

Description: Juniper is just over two feet tall. She has dark brown skin and the tight, black curls of her hair are pulled back into a messy bun.

Plip (they/them): Plip is one of Juniper’s two assistants. They are the one that interacts with the player characters the most. Plip is a type of sapient plant called a Pitcher Crab. They speak telepathically and are able to communicate with all species of plants. Plip’s familiar is a small, green frog named Leaf that lives inside their pitcher.

Description: They have a single large red pitcher in the center with a bush of oval leaves behind it and eight thick roots that form crab-like legs on either side of the pitcher. The pitcher has a lid that can raise or lower and a pair of black eyestalks that rise alertly from each side of the pitcher. Those who look closely can see a little frog peaking out from the pitcher. Like a crab they tend to walk sideways, which they do quite quickly, but they can only move forward slowly.

Estella (she/her): Estella is Juniper’s wife. She works collaboratively with Juniper on bigger projects, but she also has her own projects. Estella is a type of sapient plant called a Vine Collective. She is telepathic and can also talk to other plants. When Juniper goes off to interact with the player characters, Estella stays behind to keep working on transplanting the Lave Pine.

Description: A humanoid person made out of a group of animated vines that twist and weave together to form her entire body.

Ha-Joon (he/him): Pronounced hah-juun. Ha-Joon is the assistant that stays with Estella when Juniper and Plip go off to interact with the player characters. He is a dwarf druid that can talk to plants.

Wanda (she/her): Pronounced WAAN-Dah. Wanda is Juniper’s close friend. She is a half-orc, half-elf druid. Once a week Juniper comes out of her garden to have tea with Wanda, who also lives in Sacred Grove. The only reliable way to communicate with Juniper is to convince Wanda to pass something along to Juniper.

Random Names for Plants: Because everyone who lives or works in Juniper’s garden can talk to plants, any of them could directly address injured or misbehaving plants. To give these interactions more character, these are some possible names those plants.

Person type names: Walter, Dante (DAHN-tay), Riko (RIY-Kow), Mei (May), Trixie (TRIK-see), Ren (REHN), Kevin, Elsa (EL-sah), and Andres (ahn-DRAYS).

Pet type names: Dart, Jelly, Pickle, Bella, Fluffy, Fang, Bear, Rex, Boots, Noodle, Freckles, and Tiger.

 

 

Opening the Adventure

Safety Tools

In progress.

 

Flashback Mechanic

In progress.

 

Setting the Scene

In progress.

 

The Briefing

In progress.

 

 

In the Research Garden

Challenge #1: Entering Juniper’s Garden

 

Challenge #2: Temperate Grassland vs. Swamp

 

Challenge #3: Tropical Forest vs. Temperate Forest

 

Challenge #4: Juniper’s House

 

Challenge #5: The Tree of Eternal Sleep

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

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