The Plague City
A quest seed by Amanda Asofsky
The Plague City
This is a quest seed designed to build an outline for any tabletop system. The following document includes an outline of the area, general information on important NPC's, a list of plot hooks and twists, and items that can be customized to fit each adventure.
The Plague City is a dry acropolis surrounded by a barren land. Those who live outside of it know not what lies within, and those who go inside never come out again.
The only ones who pass between the Plague City and the rest of the world are the Couriers--people who pile the dead and the dying from surrounding cities into carts and wheel them to the city. They do not speak to those on the outside.
The Plague City seems to have existed only for as long as its residents or those outside can remember. It is written in the history books only vaguely.
The city is a half circle, with the castle towards the back, facing a mountinous wall. Inside the mountain are the catacombs.
The outer gardens house the least sickly--mostly the old. The inner walls sanction off residents into various areas of illness so patients are not contaminated by each other.
Within the castle lies a necromancer twisted by his own magic. He is fed by the dead in the catacombs behind his castle. Unable or unwilling to die, he tries his best to bring comfort to those who will meet an end he cannot face himself. He made the city as a peaceful place for the dead to meet their final days.
The outer gardens are a haven to those who reside within them. They are green, warm, and quiet. Many who are dying of old age reside here. Those who are too weak to take care of themselves find comfort in the arms of the residents.
The wards are the outer half of the city, split into sections of different diseases. Only the doctors and the couriers are allowed to pass between the different wards. Patients are kept in as much comfort as they can be as they live out their last days in the Wards.
The Inner Circle
The Inner Circle is for those plauged by illnesses the doctors themselves do not understand. Often quarentined, the patients live a life of disorienting isolation. Here is where doctors search to understand the plagues that afflict the dying, in hopes they can cure them. Or at the very least, make their passing more comfortable.
The castle is a crumbling ruin of what once was. Its lower levels house the servents and caregivers of the city, while the higher towers keep records of patients and knowlege of medicine. The deepest part of the castle lies the throne room, where the Necromancer lives. Only his most trusted advisors are allowed to meet with him. Behind his throne is the entrance to the Catacombs.
Where the dead lie. The only entrance to them is through the throne room. No one knows how deep they go, except the couriers, who lay the dead to rest there. It is dusty, winding, and dangerous to traverse.
The Necrotic ruler of the Plague City is well intentioned, but no longer functions as he used to. Age has rotted his mind, and he can no longer think beyond his own desire to live, as well as the idealism he once had for his city. He longs to see the gardens again, but is bound to his throne. He does not believe anyone would dare go against his vision for a world where the dying can live their last days in peace.
He survives by feeding off tubes running from the catacombs into his body. His skin is withered. He looks skeletal and frail. His voice sounds like dust, and his eyes cannot focus on one thing for too long.
Though he is weakened by his exhaustion and cowardice, he is still a powerful necromancer, and would likely be a formidable foe if provoked.
He speaks with winding words, as a refined noble might.
"I am tired. I wish to rest, but I am afraid that if I close my eyes, I will see...nothing."
"Look not to me for guidence on the afterlife. I have never seen what lies beyond the veil. The best I can offer is comfort to they dying is comfort before a dawn I am too cowardly to face myself."
"Is it so terrible to ask that the bodies I provided shelter and comfort to sustain me for a few years? So that I may continue providing comfort to others? To their loved ones? They are dead, they cannot feel. I am alive. I can provide."
The Doctors and Residents
Some Doctors and Nurses inside the city genuingly care for their patients. Others seem to hold them in disdain, and resent that they are forced to be caregivers. The doctors come from a line of people that lived in the city when it was first founded. They grow their own herbs, concoct their own poultices, and sustain their livelihood entirely from within the walls of the city. Those who do not have the gift of medicine are launderers, farmers, and repairmen.
The Couriers are fully covered so as not to contact the diseases of those they are carting back to the city. They carry long sticks, robes, masks, and thick leather gloves. If one looks too closely, the clothes they wear have the leathery look of skin.
They never travel alone--there are always at least 3 traveling together, and they come at any hour of the day. They do not speak. They do not interact with travelers beyond knocking on their door to retrieve the sick. If they smell death imminent on a person, they take them. They do not take people afflicted only with common colds or minor health disruptions. It seems to be a gift they have, to sense whether or not it is someones time to go to the City.
The ill and dying of the Plague City are in various states of catatonic. While some in the outer gardens can still speak with clarity, others are mearly husks.
The Outside Villagers
The people that live outside of the plague city have no idea what goes on inside. Some (particularly the poor who cannot afford alternate treatment for their families) truly believe it is a place of rest and comfort and allow their loved ones to be taken eagerly. Others may be suspicious of the couriers or the cities intent.
- A resident of the city, disconent with their life, has escaped, and you are charged with returning them to their final resting place.
- The couriers are beginning to take people from their homes who are not ridden with incurable disease.
- The couriers have not come in awhile. The people of nearby villages are worried they will have nowhere to store their dead.
- Someone from outside the village wants to break inside and see a dying family member one more time.
- The couriers have begun to dig up graves to retrieve the dead. This was not in their practice before.
- A doctor outside the city wishes to be brought in to exchange knowlege with the doctors within the city. Or, to have the knowlege of the city stolen for them.
- Alchemists and Lords from the surrounding city want it looted to save their people from famine.
- A doctor from inside the city has run away from home, and, now seeing the wonders of the world outside, wish to go back and bring their family with them.
- Some doctors are experimenting on patients to try and find immortality or see what lies beyond the grave.
- A cult around the necromancer has begun stealing healthy patients and burying them in the catacombs to sustain the Necromancers life force longer.
- The doctors are raising a necrotic army to try and expand the cities terratory, as it has grown too cramped.
- Buried deep in the mountain behind the castle is a trove of treasures that was stolen off of the sick when they were taken from their homes.
- The doctors of the plague city are dying, and are desperately trying to salvage their life force from the life force of others.
- Monsters from the mountain have broken out, and the city has been walled off to try and keep the residents safe. But they can only be subdued for so long.
- The couriers are zombies, used by the Necromancer to bring more sickly people back to the city. They have begun to revolt, as the necromancer can no longer contain them.
A helmet that prevents against disease. Wearers feel themselves grow strong against poison and other ailments.
A wand that holds all illnesses it has come into contact with. It works in a duality similar to that of life and death--either pulling ailments from the body or bestowing plauges onto enemies.
Honey of Healing
A salve that can heal the sick or injured. Sticky and sweet.
Herbs that serve many alchemical purposes. To the untrained alchemist, they look like normal healing herbs. But it'd be a dire mistake to try and heal with them.
A tasteless poison that causes a slow and painful plague to anyone unfortunate enough to ingest it.