In these series of articles I will give you the material to run my campaign for Numenera, The Obsidian Monolith. This is the same campaign I discuss in The Obsidian Monolith episodes of the Game Master's Journey podcast. This is an introduction to the campaign and the town of Bonespir, where the story will start.
Articles in This Series
Companion Episodes of Game Master's Journey
OM 01 - Preparing for an Adventure
OM 02 - Laying the Foundation for your Campaign
OM 03 - Location, Location, Location
OM 04 - Prepping and Running a Numenera Session
OM 05 - The Town of Bonespir
OM 06 - The Windmill in the Woods
OM 07 - Connecting Adventures Together
OM 08 - The Village of the Culovas
OM 09 - The Machine of the Emols
OM 10 - The Conclusion of the Campaign
Actual Play (Audio)
Session 01 Part 1 - The Town of Bonespir
Session 01 Part 2 - The Windmill in the Woods
Session 01 Part 3 - Inside the Windmill
Session 02 Part 1 - The Swarm from Hell
Session 02 Part 2 - Numenera Hunters
Session 03 Part 1 - The Order of Tianma
Session 03 Part 2 - Bugbusters
Session 04 Part 1 - The Man They Called Zain
Session 04 Part 2 - Madame Saydle's Wondrous Soup
Actual Play (Video)
The YouTube playlist includes the first session and sessions 8-12.
South – rich farmland
Hierarchy: Queen-small number of aristocratic families-wealthy land owners-simple farmers & herders
- North – forts protecting border with the Beyond.
- Westwood – redwoods, culovas claim the majority of the Westwood.
- Eastern edge many mills that supply lumber – major export, redwood especially prized.
- Could do a story of a small logging town with an uneasy truce with the nearby culovas.
- Emols – noble family with a huge logging machine. Charina Emol is the head of the family. She is paying a 10 shin bounty for culova heads.
- Perhaps the Emols are a major competitor with my logging town. The people of the town have made peace with the culovas. The culovas ask for help against the Emols and those who hunt them.
The town is built among the fossilized bones of some huge unknown creature from a previous age.
The people are simple, honest folk.
There is one Aeon Priest in the town.
This adventure works well with beginning characters. More advanced characters might require the GM to make a few modifications (suggestions are provided in each chapter). The GM should give each character 2 experience so each has the option to learn the culova language at the end of Encounter One (alternatively, the GM could have characters start with 0 experience and ensure they each earn enough experience through GM Intrusions in Encounter One to each have 2 experience at the end of the encounter). Obviously, the PCs could spend experience for re-rolls during Encounter one, and there’s no way for the GM to predict for or control this. However, hopefully at least one character will have 2 experience at the end of the encounter. If it looks like this will not be the case, the GM can always use a GM Intrusion to supply a character with more experience.
The campaign starts in the small logging town of Bonespir near the eastern border of the Westwood in Navarene. The campaign will involve the PCs interacting a great deal with the Order of Truth and performing missions and research for them. PCs may begin play as new members of the order or as hopeful initiates to the order. The adventure works best if each player makes a character that either wants to or is willing to work with the Order of Truth. It’s best if the PCs know one another ahead of time; the connection information in the characters descriptors should be enough to join them together. Characters should either be from Bonespir originally or should have a plausible reason for having been there for some time.
For more about The Order of Truth, see pages 222-223 of the Numenera corebook.
The Order of Truth Member Benefits
Whenever the character could take a new skill, she can instead choose one esotery that a first tier nano can use. Please see “Member Benefits” on page 223 of the Numenera corebook for more information.
Recommended GM Preparation
Read the background information presented here and referenced from the corebook.
Come up with your characterizations for the various NPCs the PCs will meet.
Use the tables to determine the encounters the PCs will have, or hand pick the encounters you want to use and prepare for them.
Estimate how many cyphers, artifacts and oddities the PCs will find (based on the encounters generated above) and prepare these ahead of time, whether rolling for them randomly, choosing ones that make sense to you, or creating your own. Come up with descriptions of these items ahead of time.
References for more information (Numenera corebook)
The Steadfast – page 136
Navarene – page 137
The Westwood – page 137-138
Charmonde – page 138-139
The Amber Monolith – page 144
The Obelisk of the Water God – page 144-145
The Order of Truth – page 222-223
Bonespir is a small logging town located near the terminus of the Fellwood River, a tributary of the Tithe River which forms the northern border of Navarene. It’s an interesting bit of trivia that, according to those knowledgeable in such things, the waters of the Tithe should flow into the Fellwood, but instead the waters of the Fellwood flow into the Tithe. This quirk of nature is used to great profit by the people of Bonespir as they use the Fellwood to transport their lumber to the Tithe. A canal stretches from the terminus of the Fellwood into the eastern edge of the Westwood. This canal (called Heartsblood Canal, or just the Heartsblood, by the people of Bonespir) was built ages ago and is lined with some unknown metal that never corrodes.
Loggers travel to the Westwood every morning. They wear float-jackets and bob along the Heartsblood, propelled by numenera devices. These same devices are then used to propel the rafts of lashed together logs the loggers bring back every night. These same devices allow the lumber of Bonespir to be propelled up the Tithe all the way to Charmonde. Lumber is also send downriver along the Tithe to Harmuth where it is either used in Harmuth’s paper industry or is traded all over the Steadfast.
Unlike other logging communities along the eastern edge of the Westwood, the loggers of Bonespir have not had their efforts foiled by raids of the native culovas recently because an uneasy peace has been established between the culovas and the people of Bonespir. This is due mainly to the efforts of Father Ahn, an Aeon Priest who lives in the town.
The most distinguishing characteristic to first-time visitor of Bonespir is the gargantuan petrified bones that arc up into the sky. Indeed, the entire town is nestled within a buried ribcage of some long-extinct colossal creature. Many of the structures in the town are positioned to take advantage of the shade these huge natural edifices provide.
The people of Bonespir are honest, down-to-earth folk. Although they often seem a bit stand-offish to outsiders, they are friendly and neighborly to those they’re familiar with. Their attitude is understandable once one sees how they’re often derided by visitors to the town, and the people of Bonespir have an unfortunate (if accurate) reputation beyond the borders of their town. Simply put, they stink.
The distinctive odor one often smells in the vicinity of a native of Bonespir (and indeed it seems to permeate the town) is a pungent garlicy/oniony smell. This scent is not genetic, but is rather the result of Madame Saydle’s “Wondrous Soup”, which almost all the townsfolk consume on a daily basis. The soup is made from a variety of secret ingredients—roots, herbs and spices—that can only be found in this area of Navarene. The recipe is a closely guarded secret known only to Madame Saydle herself. The soup tastes as strongly as it smells, and is an “acquired taste”, but the Bonespirians say that once you get used to the taste it’s quite delicious. Not only does the soup taste good, the odor its imbibers emit keeps away all sorts of blood-sucking pests common in the Westwood and surrounding areas—various species of mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and chiggers. This benefit is invaluable to the loggers and farmers of Bonespir and makes their work far less miserable than it would be otherwise.
Another oddity in the town is a merchant, Crayl Sult, who sells a strange plant he presumably finds somewhere in the Westwood (although no one knows where). This plant glows with a strong light as long as it’s alive, light equivalent to that of a glowglobe. What’s more, the plants are easily cared for, not needing soil at all, but extracting their needed water and nutrients from the air as long as it’s humid enough (although Crayl recommends floating the plants in water for an hour or so once every week to maximize their lifespan and health). Crayl doesn’t sell the plants for cheap, but those who can afford them say they’re well worth the price (20 shins each).
The houses and other buildings of Bonespir are all made of wood. They range from simple log cabins to large manors with ornately carved posts and walls. Madame Saydle’s inn, The Logger’s Rest, which is the social hub of the town, is just such a manor, and a visitor can spend endless hours admiring the seemingly endless carvings artfully covering the many wooden surfaces.
The people of Bonespir are largely self-sufficient and produce all their own food (including a surplus that they trade along with their other exports). The town is surrounded by small farms, and almost all residents of the town itself have herb and vegetable gardens. There are herders as well as farmers who live near the town, and they provide meat, milk and cheese. The main exports of the town are lumber and crafted wooden items such as furniture, wagons, etc., as well as all sorts of wooden carvings.
The people of Bonespir burn their dead on funeral pyres.
The Obsidian Monolith campaign for Numenera part 2