Monday 27 March 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #86: Bridge of the Gray Blessing

 Five hexes northwest of Alakran.


At the western edge of the Dhuga Hills, commanding a view into central Wahattu and almost to the capital of Mu-Asharru itself, is a great tableland, narrow from north to south but almost fifteen miles long from east to west. Its walls are not equally high along its length, for it rises from ground level here in the east, gradually standing two hundred feet tall in the west. The tilt reminded coastal travelers of a ship cresting a wave, and so the name "Ship Rock" stuck to the landmark.

Ascending the rock from this end westward, a faintly distinct path wends among upthrust stones and boulders. There is an obstacle after a few miles;  a chasm, thirty foot deep and forty wide, with a narrow basalt slab-bridge across it. Obelisks of the same stone carved in multiple writings tell of a "test for the pure" on crossing the bridge and that the "gift" of the first bridge is necessary for crossing the second. The bottom of the chasm is ominous; it continues down into the earth, its walls are blackened, and the trench is filled almost to ground level with gray and white ash.

Anyone who steps on the bridge will awaken smoke tendrils out of the chasm, which rise rapidly and in a few seconds cover anyone on the bridge, depositing ashes all over them. Here, D&D alignments come in, but if you are not using them, judge the character's behavior so far with respect to altruism, kindness, and law-abiding. 

* Evil or chaotic neutral characters find that just a few flecks of ash stick to them, no matter how many trips they make.

* Lawful neutral, true neutral, and chaotic good characters become about half covered.

* Lawful good and neutral good characters will be covered in a thick and full layer, looking like gray and white monsters. If they think of it, they can embrace a less-covered character in a spirit of generosity, and transfer half their ashes to them.

The ash can be scrubbed off with some effort but tends to stick to the clothing and skin, as if held by static electricity. Those who cross the chasm by other means or find some way to avoid the ash will simply be less ready to face the next bridge in the series, further to the west.

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