Game Fodder: The Nine Columns of Madrai

Once, according to legend, the city of Madrai (“mad-rye”) sat at the center of the world, the pinnacle of technology, social graces, and a government truly for the people, by the people. This city, like no other before or since, was built out on the water itself – not on boats, but upon an interlocking series of stone pillars holding the full weight of the city. A marvel of engineering and courage, Madrai was a wonder to behold and tourists would come from kingdoms far and wide to admire its construction.

http://openclipart.org/detail/7004/doric-column-by-johnny_automatic-7004At the center of Madrai was one building higher than the rest – a temple raised to the heavens to honor the gods themselves. The Temple of Madrai sat upon nine marble columns, each carved into the likeness of one god in the Madraian pantheon, the middle column dedicated to the queen of those gods and a goddess of the sea. Each column rose triumphantly above the water, but the queen’s column rose above them all like a mighty tree.

But, like all legends, Madrai was not eternal. The nine columns of the temple are all that remains of that great city on the water. Merchants who regularly traveled to Madrai said the city was fine one day and gone the next where all that remained were the columns.

Since that day many have dived to search the bottom for clues but none ever returned to the surface.

Rumors and Hearsay

  • Local fishermen give the area around the ruins a wide berth, claiming the area is devoid of edible fish or shellfish and haunted by the spirits of the dead.
  • Like moths to a flame, treasure seekers occasionally “rediscover” the site and attempt to discover what happened. Those who remain in their boats return unharmed but describe an eerie stillness. Those who enter the water never return.
  • Once a year on the rocky shore closest to the ruins during low tide, a group comes to silently worship the spirits of the lost city.
  • The area was cursed by the goddess for all time after Madrai’s inhabitants forgot a yearly ritual in her name. Her name was lost with the city.
  • The people of Madrai were busy in the sea-trade and the trade guild was thought to have thousands of gold and gems on hand to facilitate opening new trade routes and even sponsoring expeditions to explore new areas.
  • The sea goddess had a rival in her court seeking more power among the gods. When she was killed by her sibling, Madrai paid the price and toppled with her.
  • Though some believe it’s the spirits of the drowned citizens of Madrai trapped beneath the waves, many believe it is an entire civilization of merfolk.
  • A few times a year the sea around the ruins seems to boil and spit like a cooking pot.

Potential Encounters

Though this location seed might be most at home in a fantasy world, the continued search for Atlantis continues to prove that myths and legends can still lure explorers to rumored knowledge and treasure even today. It could be used equally in fantasy, modern, or even science fiction settings where secrets may still exist in the depths.

The Thing in the Deep

All that is known is that something lies in the ruins at the bottom and has managed to catch more than a few divers (experienced or not) off guard to keep them below the waves forever. Even so, the allure of being the first to survive such danger and profit from their courage and daring continues to draw brave men and women to the ruins.

Is it a piece of technology or magic gone awry that still operates on the sea floor? Or perhaps a creature feeds on the poor unfortunate souls who enter its domain. Maybe the city’s denizens were drawn into the gateway to another dimension and all explorers since have met the same fate?

Will you be brave enough to discover the truth for yourself?

A Watery Grave

Whether it was the goddess or the fickle nature of the sea which pulled Madrai to the bottom that day, nobody knows for sure. But a few brave fishermen in the area have told tales of strange lights near the sea floor and the occasional corpse catching a line or two and trying to pull them out of their boats.

Succumbing to their watery doom, the people of Madrai may still walk the streets of their once fair city. Are they alive? Are they dead? Or are they somewhere caught between?

Could there be a way to assuage the hurt feelings of a goddess and release them to a more peaceful afterlife? Is there a sacrifice that could be made to right things done in ancient times? What powerful object could be destroyed to restore Madrai to its rightful place above the waves?

Can you save their souls?

One Wet Wizard

Dabbling in magic can often achieve disastrous results as more than a few would-be wizards have discovered over time. One such disaster was the cause of Madrai’s downfall long ago. The wizard Narden was always seeking more power for his grimoire and one day he stumbled upon a spell of opening “the way” – unfortunately it was “the way” to an ancient entity sleeping for millennia beneath the ocean floor. Once awake, it pulled Madrai down to feed its hunger and made Narden into its priest, effectively turning him into a lich and controlling his phylactery.

Narden remains on the sea floor doing his master’s bidding, attracting sailors and explorers to the ruins of Madrai to feed his master’s appetites. The wizard can disguise himself with illusion, spreading rumors and tales far and wide before returning to his watery home. Once the bait is set, it’s only a matter of time before someone is drawn to the treasure.

Will you be next?

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