Random Encounters07/07/2003

Fharlanghn's Garden

Fharlanghn's Veil

Everyone is welcome in Journey's End, Fharlanghn's secret garden. The god of roads offers rest and succor to anyone who makes the perilous journey. However, he does not want his favored spot to become a common tourist destination -- discovering the location and making the trip must remain a quest that only the heartiest souls can complete.

To maintain the air of mystery surrounding Fharlanghn's Garden, the Dweller on the Horizon relocates Journey's End after each time someone visits. After a person has spent a day or more in Journey's End, the next time he steps out of the oasis and into the desert he triggers Fharlanghn's Veil.

Fharlanghn's Veil

When someone triggers Fharlanghn's Veil, every character in or near Journey's End should attempt a Listen check (DC 10) to notice that the wind (which has blown coolly while they have been in the oasis) suddenly disappears, and the air seems unnaturally still. This lasts for 10 minutes and continues even if the character steps back into the garden.

Then the wind begins to blow again. Characters who succeed at a Listen check (DC 10) think that the wind sounds almost like the moan of a living creature. Those whose Listen check beats DC 15 believe they actually hear words in that moan. And anyone whose check beats DC 20 can make out short phrases such as "the road awaits," "no respite lasts forever," and "a good guest knows when it is time to leave" -- all designed to give the impression that the PCs ought to leave the oasis. This effect also lasts for 10 minutes, but all the while the wind increases in ferocity.

Finally, a full-fledged sandstorm begins to blow across the land surrounding Journey's End. For the first 5 minutes, the storm blots out the sun (creating a twilight atmosphere even at midday) and the rising wind imposes a -5 penalty to all Listen checks, but the storm does not disturb Journey's End itself.

After 5 minutes, the storm becomes even wilder and a vicious wind arcs over the north oasis wall and carries the storm and sand into Journey's End.

Characters who have exposed skin suffer 1d3 points of damage every minute, and anyone who does not cover his mouth and nose with cloth suffers an additional 1d3 points of damage every minute. All characters receive a -10 penalty on all Spot, Search, and Listen checks while they are in the storm, and they cannot see anything that is more than 10 feet away.

It soon becomes clear that sand is quickly filling the oasis -- Journey's End is about to be swallowed by the desert. This process will take a total of 30 minutes; any characters who remain in the oasis are buried alive.

Those who flee into the desert continue to take damage from the storm. Movement rates are reduced to one-quarter normal while moving through the storm, and characters cannot run. Those who attempt to fly also have their movement reduced to one-quarter normal, but the wind and sand make it impossible to navigate accurately. Each round they move in a random direction (roll 1d8 with 1 being north, 2 being northeast, and so on around the points of a compass).

The storm is centered on Journey's End and has a radius of 1,000 feet. Anyone who moves beyond that radius steps out of the storm and into typical desert conditions. The storm lasts for 2 hours and then dissipates over the course of another half-hour. When it is done, no trace of Journey's End remains.

In truth, Fharlanghn has moved his garden to another location. No one knows where, but the Guardians of the Road will endeavor to find out (possibly using milestones and rods of leagues), then protect it from all visitors.

Other Gardens, Other Veils

As hinted at in "The Eternal Pilgrimage", Fharlanghn does not always place his garden in a desert. Journey's End can appear in any inhospitable, remote location, and it remains there until someone finds it.

The form of Fharlanghn's Veil differs from place to place. It would be silly, for example, if a sandstorm appeared to destroy the garden when it was located in a swamp or on an arctic plane. The veil always appears to be a natural disaster typical for the region. It may be a hurricane accompanied by a tidal surge, lava flow, blizzard, or tornado depending on the current location. The one thing that will remain constant, though, is the wind and the messages it carries. Fharlanghn will always provide his visitors with at least that subtle warning.

Bringing the Parts Together

If a Guardian of the Road is present when the Veil descends, he or she may reinforce the whole idea that the PCs need to leave. Normally, a Guardian of the Road would assist the PCs out of the area, but if the PCs ruined their relations with the Guardian of the Road beyond redemption, the Guardian of the Road may leave the PCs to their own devices.

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