Ashes After Ragnarok: Shattered Ships in a Ghost Lake

One of the players has to buckle down to finish some very important classes (for school, not RPG), so we decided to do a two-shot of Ashes After Ragnarok, a pseudo-norse post-apocalypse setting we're working on. I go into more detail over here, but the basic premise is that Ragnarok happened, and now the handful of humans  that survived have to get by in a drastically altered world.

Since we only have a couple sessions to wrap things up, I just fast-tracked the PCs to a recently discovered crater filled with broken ships, a thick mist, and undead. Another group of explorers stumbled across it, only a couple came back, so the local lendman sent another team to check it out, see what they could find, and wipe out any undead they come across (what with Valhalla being closed and the gates of Hel wide open undead are a huge problem in Midgard).

While wandering about they check a few ships, killing small bands of undead warriors wearing ancient, barely functional armor. Han, a human ranger with a bear companion named Chewbacca, gets concerned that he's getting thirsty far more quickly than usual, and realizes that the mist doesn't leave any moisture. It's very cold, but dry. Also, though there was steady ash- and snowfall when they went in, only the ashfall is making it through the mist.

They press on until they hear something singing: despite some protests Han wants to check it out, and they soon come across what he believes is an undead mermaid. Her mere presence rapidly dehydrates anyone that gets too close: by the time they taker her down, roughly half the party is barely able to stand and all of their water has evaporated. On the plus side her destruction causes the mist to vanish, and Sylvi (frost giant bloodline sorcerer) is able to use her magic to create thick sheets of ice for them to melt and drink.

With some much-needed water they take a much-needed rest. The sun takes a bit longer to cross the sky than usual (it sometimes meanders about, making daylight hours pretty unpredictable), and the night passes without incident. The next day they continue searching about: the first ship contains more undead and some hacksilver for their troubles, while the second is almost completely intact and upright. They climb onto the deck and find a handful of undead, one of which is sitting in a rotted, flimsy throne and wearing a golden crown.

He introduces himself as Sveinn, and explains that before Ragnarok he was warring with another jarl. When it became clear that Sveinn was going to win, the other jarl blew a cursed horn that killed everyone on the lake. They are now both bound to their respective ships, unable to even leave the decks, and their souls can only find rest if the other is slain. He offers up his magical sword if they return with the other jarl's sword as proof.

After considering whether they could just kill him and take his shit, Sylvi convinces Han to at least find the other jarl and see what he has to say: after all Sveinn was able to point them in the right direction, so it wasn't like they'd be aimlessly wandering about for days on end. He agrees, and on the way Chewbacca digs up the horn after beating up yet another mob of undead: it looks to be made entirely out of bone, the end capped with a gaping skull.

Han wants to test it out, but Sylvi thinks it's a bad idea since the last time it was used it wiped out two armies, plus Sveinn specifically said that it was cursed. Han decides to keep it anyway because maybe they can sell it later, or find a way to use it without accidentally killing everyone around.

They make it to the other ship, climb onboard, and find the other jarl also sitting in a similarly ramshackle throne. He introduces himself as Olaf, and pitches them the same deal: go kill Sveinn, bring them back his sword, and Olaf will exchange it for his own. Sylvi tries digging into his past, trying to figure out which is the worst, if any, but they both seem like asses so it's really a matter of whose sword do they want the most: one of them fights on its own, the other gets revenge on anyone that harms you.

Han figures why not both and pulls out the horn. Olaf recognizes it and asks for it back, but Han blows on it: a thick, black mist pours out...which doesn't seem to affect Olaf or his men at all, seeing as they're already dead. Furious, Olaf draws his sword and rushes towards Han.

Fleshing Out the World
One of the things I liked about Eberron, at least as first, was that there was a lot of real estate to play with, without having to worry much about official content and lore (whether this meant planning adventures that didn't contradict what was in the books, or just outright ignoring or changing it).

This was even easier if you shipped the PCs off to Xen'drick or Riedra, which in the original campaign setting book were mostly uncharted territory. They could also take a stab at Argonnessen, though as I recall all the dragons made this especially dangerous even though the chromatics weren't almost always evil.

They eventually released new books that filled in these blanks, which for me made things more difficult because in most cases it just meant even more shit to ignore: at least I didn't game with any setting purists that actually gave me shit for not closely sticking to the script (which did happen one of the few times I actually tried running Forgotten Realms).

I want to take that original Eberron setting presentation and crank it up to 11, which means that the "starting continent" isn't going to just have a lot of blanks, I'm not even going to map most of it out.

The effects of Ragnarok were such that almost all of humanity was wiped out and the world was drastically altered, to the point where almost nothing is where it used to be, or even there at all. The battle between the gods and giants (including Jormungandr) destroyed cities, forests, and mountains. The ground buckled and tore open, creating chasms that reach all the way to Svartalheim. Coastlines, rivers, and lakes were completely reshaped (when they weren't altogether obliterated).

Nothing is as it was. There are no familiar landmarks, and any maps that might have survived are utterly worthless except as artifacts. Not sure how long ago Ragnarok was, but the idea is that by default when you start a campaign humans haven't recovered enough to really start exploring and expanding beyond a couple of small kingdoms.

There will be some things set in stone (already got a few cities, plus how the sun works and a calendar), but the goal is to give you a solid foundation to build on without having to brush up on a bunch of lore before planning adventures or rolling up characters. I'm mostly thinking adventure seeds, questions to ponder to get the creative juices flowing, random encounters, and dungeon locales (both ideas and some examples that you can pick and run with).

Some things will be fleshed out, but you decide where it goes. For example, take Skoll: his body was incinerated after devouring the sun and plummeted out of the sky. I'll describe it as a dungeon site, with monsters and treasure and everything, but where it landed is up to you.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

We've added the seventh issue of the Appendix D zine to Black Book (for free to boot). This one has aliens, robots, the nomad and spelllsword classes, spacecraft, energy weapons, and more!

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Apothecary, is now available. Next up is The Ranger.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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