In short, this homebrew was intended for beginner GM's. The story contains a variety of elements in sequence that gradually go through different terrains, battle situations, and other challenges to allow a DM to become familiar with the rules.
A tall half-elf woman, you learn later her name is Aniya, seems a bit put off by your question, though she is not surprised by it. "We simply call this place Home. It is not often that we have people coming to join us. Right now, you are in the resonance chamber. Here, the power of myewzick is enhanced the most, and you can hear the whispers of the past, if you listen well. "
The half-orc, Funt, passes out the glasses to his fellows as he waits for your group to decide if they will partake. Funt drinks his own almost in one gulp, and impatiently waits for an opportunity to refill his own glass.
Aniya goes to answer, but Jingles loudly interrupts, unleashing burst of colour while speaking.
"Myewzick is great! Myewzick is grand! When you fall down, it makes you to stand! Keeps us alive, here in our Home." At this, Castiel chimes in. "Yes... thank you, Jingles. Very enthusiastic." He grabs the flying creature and stuffs him in a pocket, to much protest. Aniya is able to answer finally. "It is much easier to show you than to describe. Music is power through sound. " Aniya takes one of the strange contraptions you have seen in her hands. The closest equivalent you have is a loom. This object has four strings all stretched tight over a board. Aniya holds the board to her shoulder and then lets hold the thin end. She takes a bow with straight wood. and presses its string at a right angle against the strings of the other part. the resulting sound is beautiful. Like nothing you have ever heard before. The cave itself lights up in response and the humming seems to work with the sound of the instrument. Funt joins in by hitting several drums nearby at repetitive times. This repetition lulls you into contentment and deep focus. After a moment, she picks up the conversation again, continuing to play. "This is music. It is what sustains us here in this place. We perform and the crystals provide."
Thervold drinks from his glass and immediately feels much better. His pupils grow wide, and his headache dissipates. He stands taller and breathes deeply, down to his gut. All wisdom damage from the humming hills is healed, you gain a +2 euphoria bonus to perform skills, and perception checks for the next hour.
"Indeed. We keep the sounds of music alive at all times. When one is silent, another performs. Now that you are here, you are welcome to join us and learn of music." Castiel glides back from another chamber carrying several different instruments. He displays them for you each to choose one. "We shall instruct you in the ways of music. We ask only that you respect its power and that you share in our joy. We shall begin presently."
"As soon as you select the instrument that interests you. Would you like a brief demonstration? " With that each of your hosts in turn perform a selection of instruments for you to learn what they sound like. You may select broadly from woodwinds, strings, percussion, voice, keyboard. Or you may choose a specific instrument. Assume that anything is available. I invite you to try and describe the device without using musical language.
You each select your instrument and one of your hosts leads you to a different area of the complex. You see that this is a large and ornate location. Each room lights as you enter. The crystals are warm and welcoming. Anything you need, it seems is at your fingertips.
You are led by Castiel to the Chamber of Destiny. It is a large chamber like a church, including several pews. The pulpit is a perfectly square block of crystal. Inside is an opaque object obscured by the refraction of light. As you look around, you also notice that the walls have several display cases. Inside are creatures of varied exotic races. Each of them is posed with an instrument. They looks to be perfectly preserved and their faces are all very content and serene.
You are led by Funt to a large bedchamber. The slab of crystal looks like it will be very hard, but you find that it sinks to conform to your body. Funt offers you some herbs and drinks to have before starting. He excuses himself for a moment and upon returning asks if he can touch your hair...
Aniya takes several objects in her hand and leads you to the next room. This is the place of feasting, she explains. You note a bare table of ornate crystal and a chandelier hanging overhead. You also see a fountain of the blood-red liquid you have been drinking. Aniya asks before beginning if you are hungry. She scoops some of the red liquid from the fountain and splashes it on the table. The crystal foams for a moment and then forms into small multi-coloured balls. Aniya plucks a ball from the table and puts it in her mouth, smiling "chocolate, yummy". She then lays out the instruments she has taken on the table for you to look at. "Many choices here. Let's get started"
Jingles leaps from Castiel's pocket and gleefully proclaims [b]"Hooray! Good choice! " Jingles leads you to the Observatorium. In this room, scenes of nature are apparent through refracting light in the crystals. After staying for a moment, you really start to believe that you are in a misty glen. You can even smell the flowers and feel a breeze flowing through. from the hilltops. It is a near perfect illusion.
As you each progress through your sessions, you feel the crystals around you resonating with each note you play. It is a rush of emotion and understanding as you progress. You absorb the techniques, the knowledges, and the sounds like a sponge. It is as though the more you quench your knowledge, the more you realize your thirst. You wildly crave more and more experience, more music. Until finally, your instructor pauses. Another member knocks on the door and says: "It is a good start. Let us go now to the initiation." With that you rise and are taken to another large chamber to reunite with the rest of the group.
You all gain one skill rank in perform for your chosen instrument. Perform is now a class skill for you if it was not before. Finally, you may chose to transfer ranks in another perform skill to your chosen instrument at this point.
You are brought into a large round room, and seated in a circle in the centre. On the walls, the crystals shimmer and you can make out images of beauty and emotion brought forth by the musicians of the past.
You recognize the people depicted on the walls as those who have been preserved in the Chamber of Destiny
In the centre of the circle is a large crystal flower that sits open. The centre of the flower is concave, like a large bowl or receptacle. Each of your hosts quietly plays their instruments in concert. In this room, when someone speaks, they are asked to wave a baton and to lead the music of the rest of the group. This looks to each of you like a most powerful magic indeed. Castiel begins, leading with his baton gracefully and with passion "It has been a long time since we have had new guests. We welcome you here, and we share our gifts. In exchange, we ask that you join us here to help us preserve, protect, and enjoy the power of music. This flower represents a new growth for each of you. By casting aside your earthly goods, Home will provide you with a rebirth. For some, this process takes longer than others, but everyone will come to be a part of the music eventually." Castiel pauses, offering the baton to any of you who wish to speak. takers?
Aniya takes the stick this time to answer. "Each of us, upon coming here symbolically places our possessions in the centre to show our willingness to release the past and to look into the future. In exchange, Home provides us with everything we could ever need. Joy. Company. Music. Love. We of course respect your right to wait until you are comfortable before making a decision. " Other comments/questions?
Jingles seems upset, and sobs a mournful ballad
"But woe, have we not shown you love?
This place has made you happy.
You can't return above,
not without making me feel crappy."
Aniya tries a different appeal "Is the world you left really worth returning to? Each of us has come to find that this is a better life. There is no war, no suffering. Home has protected us for generations upon generations. I doubt even the ending you talk about up there will reach this place. "
Seeing that you are firm in your position of wanting to leave, Castiel final breaks the conflict.
"I am sorry. This has happened before, but even if you wanted to leave, you can't. Home is meant to protect us and to protect music from corruption. She can't do that if we leave her, so we are not permitted to depart. You remember when you came here, and the tunnel behind you collapsed? That was Home embracing you closer as her own. You don't have to partake in the ceremony now, but you will eventually come around, as they all do."
You can't help but feel a bit threatened by the last part of that speech, especially as Castiel's deliver was cold and programmed.
"What you don't understand is that the very powers that threaten the world above will come here, and kill or enslave all of you. Trying to keep us here is a lot more dangerous than letting us leave since our imprisonment or defeat means they win."
Teriwyth learns about the mechanics and maintenance of his instrument before playing. He catches up with the above conversation.
Jingles flys up to and embraces Edelle, sobbing. "Your beautiful verse has moved me to tears.
Truly you understand the power that is here.
It is for this reason you must stay.
To leave with knowledge of music would betray.
There will always be suffering above
It shall not penetrate our Home.
Here there is no suffering, but love.
So within this pace, contemplate and roam. "
Aniya suggests "I know this is difficult. When I arrived here,..." She hesitates, looking for approval from Castiel. He nods his approval cautiously. "When I arrived here, I was full of suffering and fear. For others, for myself; but now I realize that none of that matters. We must live when we are, not in another time. That is the power of music. It can slow us down and allow us to reflect. I urge you not to fight this, but if you need more time, take it. Go explore and think. We can wait. "
that type of request would be more of a sense motive roll in future
It seems that Jingles and Castiel are the most vigourous in their protection of their ideals. Castiel is most strongly motivated by tradition, but Jingles seems convinced by emotional appeal. The weakest link in the chain is Aniya. She seems the most reluctant to admit how bad the situation sounds.
You find several regions of the cavern complex immediately, The structure is enormous and complex, but this region is most civilized and lived in. You come across about a dozen sleeping chambers, a room that appears to be projecting an image of the outdoors through it's walls, a large temple-like room with a dozen or so people encased in crystal along the walls (an open casket graveyard, if you will) You also pass by a long room with a chandelier hanging overhead and an extended table and chairs next to a fountain. (a banquet hall, you presume) There are a handful of hallways that lead a distance away as well, but you're not sure if you should travel too far afield without a guide.
Aniya nods and smirks slightly "Certainly, I'd be happy to show you. "
She then takes your group through a series of rooms. In each she provides a brief explanation, and allows you to explore at your leisure before moving on. She is happy to answer any other questions you may have. The first room you come upon contains Thervold, already out exploring on his own.
In this room, the crystalline walls, roof, and floors display images of beautiful outdoor scenes. As Thervold has been standing here, the images have shifted towards his native land across the sea. Most of you are unfamiliar with the plant and wildlife being depicted, though some are familiar enough. Aniya offers for Thervold to join the group in exploration.
Place of Feasting:
This room is a central area to main structure. Here, a fountain spurts out a blood-red liquid at a constant rate. Aniya takes a cup from nearby and fills it with this liquid. You recognize that is the same stuff you had been offered earlier to drink. She explains: "This is the life-blood of Home. With it, we are nourished and healed. Our desires of taste fulfilled. She gives us this gift in exchange for her sustenance through music." Aniya then pours several small pools of the liquid onto the table, asking each of you to sit before one. Those who do will see the pool before them sizzle in reaction. After steaming and popping, before you is exactly the meal you wanted at that moment.
These bedrooms are lit less brightly than the rest of the cavern. The beds appear to be simply slabs of crystal in the midst of the room. Aniya explains that as you rest, the bed warms and shapes to you, providing you with warmth and comfort, like a big hug. Thervold notes that this hallway appears to have expanded, as though more rooms have been added to accommodate you.
Aniya pulls open a small door, and ducks to enter, gesturing for the rest of you to come inside. She pulls out her violin before closing the door again. It is instantly black inside and your eyes can't adjust. She begins to play. As you listen, you begin to relax in the darkness. Being along with the music allows your mind to focus more deeply. Soon, you begin to notice small flecks of light, perhaps reflecting off of a surface on the violin? As you contentrate on these, you realise that these are the sounds of the violin themselves. You are seeing the music as it is created, and it is beautiful. Colourful displays swirling through the air enhance the beautiful feelings stirred inside you. After she finishes, there is a moment of silence before light slowly begins to leak into the room and you gather yourselves to leave again
This grand sphere of a room is a marvel of architecture. The curves and angles of the walls and floor are magnificent and precise. Aniya does not say anything upon entering, but instead waits for your mind to move to the question. Suddenly, you hear a call from across the room. There is no one there, but you know you heard it. " This is the Resonance Chamber. Here, all that is heard, remains. Any conversation, any music performed within Home is preserved forever in this room. It is a testament to our longevity, and a connection to our ancestors." Aniya then speaks, the voices in the room doubling her in a way that is both awe inspiring, and unnerving. "Let us continue."
Chamber of Destiny:
Aniya pauses before entering this room, offering a short prayer, and gesturing solemnly. Opening the double doors wide, she walks in a ways and turns, raising her arms in welcome, she says, "This is the Chamber of Destiny" Entering, it appears to be very much like a temple or a church. Several rows of pews lead up to a pulpit. There is a small font in one corner of the room, and lining the walls at even intervals are what at first appear to be statues of men and women holding more instruments, poised in playing position. Upon closer examination, these are not statues, but indeed actual people. Inscriptions next to each alcove allow you to figure out that these people were once residents, but they have since passed away. You note that their lifespans are exceptionally long, no one living less than 200 years. Aniya tells you that this is their most sacred place. [b]"It is here that we pay respect to the lives past, and that we give thanks to Home in a more formal way.
With that, the tour is effectively concluded. You note that there are some hallways and corridors that have been skipped. Aniya explains that these lead far afield and that they do not often travel there, so she cannot tell you what is there.
As time passes, you slowly allow your mind to wander and the shapes and colours created by the instrument begin better reflecting your mood. A question arises amidst your thoughts, and it is given clear form. Why is it here at all? This cavern? If music is so beautiful and powerful, why is it trapped here and not shared?
Male Half Elf Fighter 1/Sorceror 4/Dragon Disciple 2
Alric seems happiest in the feast hall, sampling small amounts of liquid as it turns into anything and everything. He seems lost in thought, and taps idly on the table. A pattern starts to emerge from the noise.
Your music on the table increases your desire for more. You take a few larger samples of the red liquid, and you begin to reconsider staying here. "Maybe this end of the world stuff is blown out of proportion. Why should I be responsible for all of those people? This all feels so good, I don't want it to end. " These thoughts and more seem to press against your consciousness.