The PCs discover a scroll that hints at other spells from Evard and Tenser...
They follow clues leading to finding these spells, finding they cover the full range of power. One odd thing- despite these being fragmented and ancient, they are in astounding condition, as if they had been made just days before. The parchment upon which they were written is seemingly impervious to the passing of time and mundane threats like dry rot.
If all the pieces are reassembled, a description of a hidden Ritual will be revealed. What its purpose is is not immediately evident.
The secret: each time one of these other spells by these master mages is cast, a barrier that keeps an evil being from the Far Realms imprisoned weakens.* This was hard-coded into these spells without the knowledge of either one by the efforts of research assistants (apprentices) who were devotees of this being. When they finally DID discover this, they tried to rewrite the spells, but never succeeded. Their conclusion was that the imprisoned being's own energies made the spells function. Thus, they felt they had to rid the world of the offending spells. They hunted down and killed the apprentices who had done this, used powerful magics to shred the virtually indestructible scrolls, and scattered them. Better their greatest achievements be lost to time than The world be lost to all consuming insanity.
But one of the being's acolytes survived long enough to write down an account of the spells' existence...the scroll the PCs found so long ago.
A god of entropy succeeds in a coup against the god of nature. He kills/disintegrates all the world's grasses. And no new grasses grow that year.
Instant desertification. Horses, cattle, sheep die-off in great numbers. Wheat, rice, oats, barley -gone.
mudslides, erosion, flooding, starvation all follow. The world takes a great leap towards Darksun.
Ferdinand Lucian Ultimas Xanthiosi- Flux to his friends and allies- was a powerful Wild Mage, a master of mayhem, a king of chaos. But secretly, he, like many of his peers in the arcane arts, craved the ultimate in stability: immortality. It wasnt just because of his desire to delve deeper into arcana, but because he so loved life itself. So, deep within his multidimensional laboratory, he sought to unlock the secrets of eternal life.
Then one night, he fought off the exhaustions of the day to make a breakthrough he felt was close...and fatigue got the best of him. A moment's lapse, and an accident occurred. What it was that caused the explosion is unknown, even to Flux himself, but it disrupted the underpinnings of his structure, utterly destroying it...and made him a Lich.
He had achieved a twisted mockery of his goal, rendering him mad. In his insanity, he lashed out, becoming a scourge to the world, sowing fear and destruction as he wandered the world, searching for novody knows what. Then...nothing. It was as if his presence had been erased.
More than 400 years passed.
Then, through a courier, the party is contacted by a mysterious man of means. Upon arrival at the mansion, the man reveals that he is searching for the phylactery of Flux the Lich, and he hopes the party will accept the mission. His offer is generous: the contents of his house in exchange for finding the phylactery and destroying it in the presence of his courier.
As the party considers the offer, he reveals his true identity. HE is Flux the Lich. He seeks his phylactery to end his existence. THAT is what he had been searching for all those centuries ago. The problem has always been this: because of the way in which he achieved lichdom, he did not actually create a phylactery. Instead, it was created from the pure chaos of the accident. In addition, as a mockery of his life, it randomly teleports away from him whenever he gets too close. It even did so when he tried to scry it.
(Possible plot twist: does the lich's courier resent or support the party? If the former, he may seek to gain Flux's wealth for himself...)
Grummish's coming horde...
The one eyed god of orcs has long sought to conquer the world, unbeknownst to the kingdoms of light (human, elf etc..) he has done so...in another realm. now after centuries of dominance on his conquered realm he seeks to open a gate, and flood this world with hoards upon hoards of his minions, intent on enslaving all other races. in the wildlands at deserts edge he has set up his gate, a grand mystic construction of earth and stone,blood and bone as a permanent link between worlds, gathering his forces together into armies that will march to war...
In the hinterlands near the realms of men and elf there has been a noted decline in the usual raids of orcish warparties. Some beleive it to be that they have actually beaten back the orcs for the time being, perhaps they have withdrawn to their lands to lick their wounds and rebuild...until a lone hermit comes stumbling out of the woodlands, into a small village on the very edge of the civilised lands. Thin and weak with a wild look in his eyes and gibbering of the horde that comes..."they are gathering, they are hiding, but they are coming...so many...so many..." . Town elders, frightened by the mans continual urging and near madness from his fear, send runners to the larger settlements to alert the king through his governors, requesting scouts and protection.
High atop his tower, one of the lands greates masters of magic has felt a strange pulling of power from the eldrich ley lines of the world. His curiosity piqued he begins scrying along the ley lines, searching for what could have caused this flux...days later he is found by his apprentiss. One of his eyes burned from his skull, his hands blackened and scarred, the crystal ball shattered, it's shards embedded in the corpse and strewn through the rest of the room...only one clue as to his demise, traced in blood from the tip of the dead mages finger a single word full of portent....GRUMMISH...
Gather your party as ye may, for adventurous souls only need apply to search the realm for the cause of these ominous tidings.
Created many years ago from a fever dream i had while suffering a bad bout of the flu. I left many specifics out so it can be integrated into virtually any campaign world. I ran it in the forgotten realms setting...gave my group a hell of a ride from 4th level all the way to 17th over the course of a year and a half, gaming nearly once a week on average. easy peasy to stretch out that long cause of the sheer number of enimies available, and the fact that the group had to go there and back again, several times before they actually figured out / saw the structure of the active gate itself. I beefed up the basic orc for leutenants, assigned higher levels and hit die for higher ups and made the generals equal to 12- 15th level warrior classes. Didn't use old one eye directly against the party, though it was an option if they didn't destroy the gate before the orcs pretty much conquered the lands. which they did.
There were several dungeon crawls to destroy advance troops and underground supply stockades, one led to an already conquered small drow settlement where the roleplay was fantastic between the enslaved drow and the group, who eventually freed them so they could join the frey against the common enemy. Side quests also included finding lost ancient ruins which were infested with standard level appropriate beasts, where many nice, and a couple unique magic items were placed which tied into the story arc and improved the groups survivability. Even had them stumble across an ancient prophesy of the orc invasion, which led them to a unique item created to destroy the gate.
If i remember correctly i actually set a time limit on the party to destroy the gate before Grummish...a couple in game years while the plans and armies came together. At one point the group finally had the lords of waterdeep convinced of the threat and even Cormyr mustered their armies along their boarders.
Temporal portals to the past are opening up all over the globe, spewing forth incursions of creatures from all eras. At first, those who knew of the problem tried to keep it a secret: those that came through were sent back. But nobody knew whythe anomalies were occurring.
Then the answer came: the world is dying. The temporal portals are the result of disruptions in the earth's magnetic field, a symptom of some kind of exotic matter disrupting the planet's core. The apocalypse looms, but it isn't imminent- it is at least a century off. There is time.
But mankind, in order to survive, must leave their cradle. A vast starship- dubbed The Ark- is being made. Lotteries are being held to find who will go. But one thing is sure, scientists are trying to ensure that we have as much of our ecosystem as possible available to us going forward. Not only are live plants and creatures being sent along, but so are embryos, seeds and DNA samples in cryonic storage. Everything known to man that can be collected will be.
And not just flora and fauna of the present- in order to maximize the success of future terraforming and environmental re-seeding of The Ark's destination to suit humanity, teams are being sent into the portals to retrieve similar samples from the past, not only the recent past to restore biodiversity, but also those from deeper times just in case THOSE creatures or plants are more suited to the new planet.
This is a campaign I ran a few years ago using Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st edition).
The player characters are seemingly everyday heroes in a world rife with corruption, evil, and the widely-accepted belief that good, and the light, is dead. Whether they are in it for money, to do the right thing, to prove the world wrong in its doubt that the light is still alive, or any other ambition, they come upon vaults sealed ages ago by the dark powers that be. These vaults, forgotten in design and location even to those that made them, contained texts that described a great battle a thousand years prior in which an army of hope and justice battled against the now-rulers of the world, and the good guys lost.
This information, of course, is only the first step as throughout the campaign, still a string of seemingly random, unconnected modules at this point, takes them to another phase of discovery, where they start wielding abilities that they had no clue as to their origins. A scoundrel, backstabber assassin, after having been shot by a bolt through a murder hole, might find his hand clutching at the wound, and powerful warm magic flowing through, sealing his wound. The mercenary fighter discovers that, with a desperate swing of his greatsword, it engulfs in flame and erupts against two foes instead of one.
As they begin to master these newfound powers, they later discover the truth: they are the reincarnations of the original champions who failed in their battle against the tyrants, bringing great conflict in the ambiguous or selfish characters, and great hope and determination in the already goodly ones. They seek to find out exactly what went wrong, and what they can do this time to ensure the battle goes in their favor.
EDIT: Not quite a sentence, I know. I'll see if I can summarize heh. "Heroes, secretly wielding the souls of their former selves as weapons, set out to destroy a long-standing evil that defeated their goodly armies a thousand years prior."
Most of the scientists hunting it predict a planet @5-10x Earth’s mass, probably a rocky “super Earth” or a ”mini Neptune”, if it formed in our solar system with the other planets.
Theories also exist that it was “captured” from another solar system that got too close...
Any of those could be a good basis for some RPG fun in a sci-fi/supers campaign set in the era of humanity's MANNED exploration of the solar system, a la Ben Bova’s Grand Tour novels.
But what if it is an artifact of an ancient civilization, billions of years old, long abandoned by its makers? Or still inhabited? It could be their version of a large Death Star or tiny Dyson Sphere. Is it a weapon, a vehicle, a base/outpost or a resort? Are/were they like Arthur Clark’s “Monolith Builders”?
A researcher trying to bridge the “uncanny valley” decided to model his work on a popular and famous celebrity whose death was long enough ago that it has fallen into the public domain. A familiar face, goes the reasoning, will be easier for people to accept. And backed by big money from all kinds of industries- especially entertainment multinationals- the wishlist of exotic components and materials has largely been supplied. Successes have outpaced failures, and the ultimate goal is within sight...
Elsewhere, a spy committing an act of industrial espionage, stealing the code for a military-grade A.I. system, realizes his presence has been discovered and he is cornered. In desperation, the spy tries to transmit the code to a server prepped for just such emergencies. Alas, a security guard’s gunshot to the shoulder mid-typing caused a slight typing error in the address...
The next morning, the robotics scientist returns to the lab, but notices something is wrong. The lifelike robot is acting in ways it was not supposed to. It is assembling a duplicate of itself from parts around the lab, parts from other eras of the emulated celebrity’s career. It’s also being...aggressive, its Asimovian programming inexplicably being overridden by behaviors akin to robotic villains of childhood science fiction tales.
Even as creation turns on creator like a scene from a rebooted Frankenstein, the scientist can’t help to note in those final moments of life, how much the robot really sounded and looked like Daddy’s favorite performer...
The roboticist slain, the killer returned to its task of replication. When its near-duplicate is complete, the original set the second to making further copies, then turned to researching how best to arm and armor itself.
Inspired by stray thoughts about the films in the Bill & Ted and Back to the Future franchises, I imagined a car thief stealing a time machine that was designed to look like an automobile. Let’s say it was a minivan or SUV bodystyle.
Said thief decides to pick up some of his buddies and go joyriding, but while doing so, they do something to arouse the suspicions of a patrolling police officer- one with a reality TV crew on board. Chase ensues.
In the process of trying to evade pursuit, the thief accidentally engages the time travel drive- thinking it was a nitrous trigger- just as the police officer attempts a pit maneuver. Both the time machine and the chase car contacting it tumble through time.
A plague of supernatural winged, metallic serpent constructs is invading a small demiplane reknown for its lush greenery- its idyllic environs making it a place valued to beings of all kinds as a sacred neutral ground. The snakes are ruining all of that, and various factions are accusing each other of being behind the incursion.
The party is approached by a frustrated Demigod, Dubh Patrick, who is has recently been appointed guardian of this revered land. He explains, he has had it with the metal feathered snakes on his mighty floral plane. He wants the party to help him drive them out.
Super mar-Iuz Bros Aspects of Iuz search for Zuggtmoy in the time period between Temple of Elememtal Evil and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (during which her essence was hidden away by the Tharizdunite sect of the cult). The campaign is played as a parody of "Super Mario Bros.". Iuz is Mario and Luigi, Zuggtmoy is Princess Toadstool, and Tharizdun is Bowser Koopa. The campaign goes through several Tharizdun related dungeons and at the end of each is a Vathugu (Dragon Magazine 337) who informs the aspects of Iuz that their princess is in a different dungeon.
Babysitting- The PCs are hired to look after a wyrmling gold dragon white it's parents are away. During this time thwy must contend with raids by bandits and red dragons as well as various natural disasters and the wyrmling's own mischeviousness.
The Steamroller The PCs are high-level characters and play through several low-level adventures in succession, without resting.
Between the devil and a hard place- The heroes have to pass through a mimdflayer settlement which is currently under siege by fiendish powers
Mechanized Death- Exalted campaign set in a timeline where Autochthon has died. Now Creation is positively overrun with Death Knights due to there now being a Neverborn who knows how to create exaltations from scratch.