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Ancient Ruins of Escruag


The Forgotten City



This ancient ruined city lies deep in my world's equivalent of the everglades. It stands out because of the dense ring trees around the outer edge, which may from a distance appear normal, but upon closer inspection are not native to the region.


From an aerial viewpoint, the following features of the city stand out at once: it is perfectly circular. There is a very slight dome shape to the disk overall, meaning that the center of the city is about 50' higher than the edges. This is too slight to notice even when walking, but does mean the central features stand out clearly. The disk is 5 miles across. The outer edge of the city is fringed with trees, a band about 2-400' wide. Inside this is a road about 1-200' wide. Originally the trees were a narrow decorative border, but they have spread into the roadway, gradually destroying it. The city circl is divided into equal quarters by 200' wide avenues. At the center of the city a mile-wide area is reserved for a substantial palace and park area, now almost totally overgrown with vegetation. Building roofs of the palace can be seen, as well as numerous towers peeking above the treeline. Note that because of a lack of deep soil, no tree is over about 50' tall.


Each quarter of the city is strikingly different from its neighbors. Clockwise from the upper left the quarters are as follows:


Red and white district: the streets here are all paved in a dark red stone laid in a random cobbled manner. The streets are all laid out in a curving manner, spiraling loosely from the center out, counter-clockwise. All the buildings which remain are built of a smooth, fine-grained white stone bearing dark red streaks. It strongly resembles marble. Most buildings had red tile roofs, and red doors and sills. Architectural motifs were based on knotwork and spirals. Buildings were widely spaced, leaving ample space for what apparently were gardens, courtyards, pools and fountains.

Blue and Gold district: The streets here were all paved in a smooth unbroken surface of dark blue, flecked with gold. It resembles lapis lazuli, where it remains unbroken. The streets were laid out petal-fashion, in four rings each curving out from and overlapping the ring beneath. The buildings were all built of a pale blue-grey stone, or of a golden-cream brick. Trims were blue (various shades) on the cream brick, or cream on the blue-grey. Roofs were black slate or golden tile, many of which are still blindingly bright in the hot sun (but if examined, the gold is plainly some sort of glass, not metal). Buildings tended to be tall, clumped close together with wide avenues and open courts between them. Architectural motifs are all fluted, columnar and stylized nature motifs.

Silver and green district: The streets here are paved in a dark forest green and pale mint green, alternating bricks. The streets run in perfectly straight lines, set at 45 degrees from the avenues that quarter the city. Buildings range in color from pure white to pale grey, many streaked like marble. Roofs are darker shades of grey to black, while trim is all in complementary shades of green. Buildings are small, tend to be short (rarely over two stories) and have proportionally smaller doors and windows. They sit close together, with little space for gardens or open squares. Architectural motifs include zigzags, maze patterns and rigidly geometric designs.

Yellow and Black district: the streets here are black stone slabs, quite large, grouted in dark grey. They are laid out in a precisely square pattern. Buildings are cream, yellow and tan. They appear to have been glazed with a highly glossy translucent yellow coating, which in time has weathered and peeled in most places, revealing the paler stone beneath. The buildings themselves are mostly square, with large windows. Towers were common, though most are gone now, and all appeared to have multiple balconies. There may even have been bridges stretching across most of the streets and alleys. Traces of rooftop gardens, large open parks or gardens, and many water-features are common. Architectural motifs were surprisingly freeform, based on waves and curves, seemingly random and rarely repetitive.


History of the City:

This city was originally established about seven thousand years ago, long before even the first Miraborian Empire. This city was then named Escruag, in a language whose very existence is now forgotten by almost all except the gods. Escruag was a flying or floating city, borne by magical power on the winds of the world. It bore the humans, dwarves, elves and other races who dwelt there wherever they wished to go. They lived above the city, on the topside in the multi-colored ruins that are still there, but also inside the disk, which was five miles across and nearly a mile thick, and below it, in fantastical structures that hung like jewels from the underside. It was an incredibly beautiful place. What disaster brought it to crash or be deposited here, deep in the stinking lands, is forever lost to man's knowledge. Over two thousand years passed. The city was rediscovered, explored, and recolonized in the days of the 1st Empire. However, those who came in this new age never discovered the greatest secrets of the city. Sometime after the city's first abandonment, the ways into the the depths were almost entirely sealed. The great stairs were filled in, the air and light shafts covered over or concealed. During it's second age, that of the First Miraborian Empire, Escruag came to be known as Palusarces; the swamp city. It was famed for its beauty and oddity. As the First Miraborian empire was a time and place of great magic and wealth, Palusarces became a resort for the wealthy. But like all great empires, the First Miraborian eventually declined, and the city was abandoned after a long war drained much of its wealth away.


City Ruins Random Chart

Roll for each section of buildings in a city. The roll reflects the "best" remaining building in any given block. Others are presumed to be at least 1 step worse in condition, to a minimum of foundations only. Because the city's damage gets progressively milder towards the center, give the following modifiers to rolls:

within .5 mile of edge -20
.5 to 1 mile in -10
1 to 1.5 miles in -5
1.5 miles in and up to the garden ring +-0
within the gardens and palace area +5


01-70 Foundations only
71-85 walls up to 3', no floor or internal walls remain
85-95 walls up to 1st floor height (8'), traces of internal walls, floors, gaping door and window holes; no trace of ceiling or upper levels
96-99 as above, but some ceiling or upper level walls may remain (50/50), while interior walls or floors are usually partially intact.
00 reasonably intact; upper floors or ceilings are partial/intact while floors and inner walls are in good condition overall. Doors and windows may be present but are broken/loose/open.


Function: (roll only for buildings with at least some walls)

01-30 indecipherable; no distinguishing features remain; assume mixed residential/shop in most areas
31-60 residential; lower/middle class
61-65 residential; upper/elite
71-80 Shop/craftsman; lower/middle
81-85 Shop/craftsman; upper/elite
86-94 Warehouse, markethall, guildhall or other commercial structure (silo, stable, mill, lumberyard, etc...)
95-99 Government building or chapel, minor
00 Government building or temple, major


Treasure: (roll once for each building)

Treasure No features Low resident Elite resident Low shop Elite shop Warehouse/commercial Gov't small Gov't large
Fdtn only none none 1%H none 1% H none none none
Walls 3' none none 1% H, 5% A 1%S 5%S, 1%H none 1%A 5%A
Walls 8' 5%S none 5%H, 10%A 5%S 10%S, 5%H none 5%A 10%A
Partly intact 10% S none 5% H, 50% A 5%S 10%S, 5%h, 5%a none 10%A 15%A, 1%h
Mostly intact 10% S, 5% H 5%S 90% S, 5% H, 70% A 5%S, 1%h 10%S, 10%H, 10%A 1%H 15%A 25%A, 5%H


S = scrap

A = architectural

H = hidden


Treasure Values:

Scrap: (scrap items are never attached and origins are unclear)

01-50 Archaeological value only: scraps of pottery, beads, glass, etc... Nothing whole or valuable. 5-30 sp per lb wt. To collector
51-80 Minor value: larger scraps of carvings, small pottery or semiprecious beads, flatware, tools, etc... 10-50 sp per lb wt on market.
81-95 good find: whole set of tools, unbroken artwork, clothing, etc... 50-100 sp value per item found.
95-00 superb find: a unique item of great value such as a book, jewelry, fine artwork, minor magic item.


Architectural: (architectural items are or were always part of a structure)

01-50 Archaeological value only; minor scraps of carving or mosaic
51-80 Minor value: small pieces of bas relief or sculpture, fragments of mosaic, broken fountain or other common structure
81-95 Good find: preserved floor mosaic or wall carving/painting, possibly with semi-precious stone, perfectly preserved but minor statuary, decorative art, etc...
95-100 Superb find: a perfectly preserved piece of valuable wall art or precious-stone mosaic or similar. Possible minor magic in fountain or gate.


Hidden: (items that were concealed by a resident or by a later passer by)

01-50 Trivial; just bones or debris, possibly signs something more was removed earlier
51-80 Minor value: 1-10 sp item of personal nature (jewelry or coin usually)
81- 95 Good find: 10-100 sp value item(s) of coin, jewelry, books, gems, etc..
95-00 Superb find: real treasure cache could consist of a scroll or potion, valuable coins or gems, a map, etc...


Random Encounters in the Ruins


Each four hours in the city ruins there is a 1 in 8 chance of encounter. Day and night encounter chances are somewhat different. Some monsters have moved in from the swamps, some are resident here in the dryer land, and some are the intelligent competitors in these ruins. Once an encounter chance has occurred, roll D8+D12 on the proper list below.

  Day Night
2 Willow Warrior (Ccoll) Willow Warrior (Ccoll)
3 Basilisk Basilisk
4 Angler Ooze (Ccoll) Angler Ooze (Ccoll)
5 Drowned Lady (Ccoll) Ettercap (MM)
6 Ettercap (MM) Ghost images of past event
7 mere-lurker (Ccoll) Mere-lurker (Ccoll)
8 Spider, vermin (MM) Spider, Vermin (MM)
9 Centipede, monstrous Centipede, Monstrous
10 Insect swarm Insect Swarm
11 Snake, poisonous Snake, poisonous
12 Szathair band Szathair band
13 phase wasp (MMII) phase wasp (MMII)
14 stirges (MM) stirges (MM)
15 Rat Swarm Yuan Ti patrol
16 Mustard Jelly (ToH) Haunt (ToH)
17 Swamplight Lynx (MMII) Swamplight Lynx (MMII)
18 Yuan Ti patrol Will -o-wisp (MM)
19 Shambling Mound Shambling Mound
20 Greenvise (MMII) Black Pudding, ooze (MM)


Mapped Structures:

Some structures are marked on the map, and described in detail. These are the most complete remaining buildings in the city, and are not handled with the random ruins charts. Refer to the detailed descriptions as they are added. (Sorry folks; this section is still all in my head; watch for updates!)


Planned Encounters:

There are three basic power groups in the ruins;



A large colony of monstrous spiders, ettercap and possibly other fouler creatures lair in one substantial region of the city, making it dangerous to pass. They seem to have considerable cunning, some magical abilities, and maybe some intelligent leadership, though it has never been seen. The spiders live in the yellow-black region of the city.



The Yuan-ti are a group of explorers whose home lies on one of the many islands south and east of Miran. Perhaps somewhere deep in the uncharted depths of Mistland there are whole cities of their kind, but here the band of explorers is only about 30 strong; there are 16 pureblood soldiers, 12 halfbloods (three lesser priestesses and a couple of mid-level rangers, plus a sorcerer), and two abominations (one is a priestess, while the other is a ranger, both of considerably high level). They have met with the local szathair, and have begun to try to recruit some of them to work with them, as they see these folk as possible kin. Right now there are 6 normal szathair and 1 szathair sorcerer in their ranks. Several other Szathair have gone out to try to recruit others. The Yuan-ti are seeking a new place to establish a hidden colony, where they are less threatened with constant exposure than on the islands of the keys or Southern Isles. The Yuan-ti have take over the palace at the center of the city, and have found some of the passages below that area.


My note about world history: the szathair were created by a wizard or sorcerer during the fall of the 2nd empire, possibly by mixing human and dragon blood. The Yuan-ti are snake-people whose origins date to around the first empire or earlier. There is no direct connection between the two.


The Lich:

The lich and his assistants and guards; Crogan was a resident of this city once, in its second era of habitation, but was thrown out by those who lived here because of his evil ways. At that time he had just discovered the underpassages, but had not substantially explored them. When he left the area, he too went to Mistland. Recent setbacks to his plans there have forced him to fall back on his ancient knowledge of this place, where he hopes he can rebuild his power, establish a new base, and begin to create an empire. He is a power-mad man whose strongest desire is to rule the known world, establishing a new Empire in his name. Already he calls it the Croganan Empire, and himself Crogan the Immortal. His followers are a band of mercenery soldiers (50 strong), a trio of priests of Aragh (Crogan worships Aragh to some degree, and sees them as "useful", while they see him as a way to begin to reestablish the Miraborian Empire "as it should have been") and a half-dragon Szathair throwback fighter/sorcerer. This monstrous creature has recruited szathair to his cause much as the Yuan-ti have, but his goal is to create an army to attack Miran, destroying those who enslave his people. Crogan and his people have established themselves in the ruins of the old wizard's college on the southern edge of the Blue and gold district.

Note that the two groups are essentially fundamentally opposed in their motivations: the lich wants to create armies, build strength and conquer lands, while the yuan-ti want to hide, remain secret and build a defensive hideout. This keeps them from forming any substantial or permanent alliance, though they might share information on intruders, and they do occasionally communicate.


The Spider-block:

This section of the city in the inner area of the yellow and black is fringed with an area of heavily ruined structures, and then a slowly rising area of higher walls and sturdier buildings. As the buildings reach waist to shoulder height, the traces of webs begin. At this point, any random encounter will be with the following:

1. Stirges (3d4)

2. Spider eaters (1d3)

3. Large spiders (1d8) and ettercap (1d4)

4. Huge spiders (1d4)

5. Gargantuan spider (1)

6. Aranea (1)


Deep within the spider lair, the spider population consists of

4 colonies of Aranea, each one accompanied by 10-30 mixed large and huge spiders, a half-dozen ettercap, plus at least one gargantuan spider. Note that all the araneas' humanoid form is that of the human species.

numerous large and huge spiders, some with ettercap

occasional spider-eaters

All of these creatures, except the spider eaters are the 'servants' of the arch spider; she is a half-fiendish aranea sorceress of L10. Velichry is a strange creature; bred in the darkness of the swamps decades ago by a mad wizard who later met an evil fate, she is the offspring of a summoned fiend and a captive aranea. She is mentally not tremendously stable; all her young life she had been used for experiments, so she is convinced that all humanoid creatures are out to kill or torment her. She desires nothing more than to rid her city of two-leggers and build a realm solely controlled by spider folk. Because of her hatred of the form, her folk rarely assume human shape in her presence. However, they are happy to use the form to entice prey.


Half-fiend Aranea, L10 sorceress, Neutral Evil

Large Outsider (Shapechanger)

HD: 3d8+9 +7d4+21 = 61

Initiative: +9 (+5 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)

Speed: 50 ft., climb 25 ft., fly 50 ft. (average maneuverability)

AC: 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural)

Attacks: Bite +7 melee; or web +5 ranged

Damage: Bite 1d8 and poison

Face/Reach: 10 ft. by 10 ft./5 ft.

Special Attacks: Spells, web, poison, darkness 3xday, desecrate, unholy blight, poison 3xday, and contagion

Special Qualities: Alternate form, darkvision 60', immune to poison, acid, cold, electricity and fire resistance 20.

Saves: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +8

Abilities: Str 15, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 18, Wis 13, Cha 17

Skills: Climb +14, Concentration +8, Craft (weaving) +8, Escape Artist +8, Hide +5 Jump +6, Listen +3, Spot +8

Feats: Alertness, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse (bite), Silent Spell, Weapon Focus (Ray)

Web (Ex): In spider or hybrid form (see Alternate Form, below), an aranea can cast a web up to six times per day. This is similar to an attack with a net but has a maximum range of 50 feet, with a range increment of 10 feet, and is effective against targets of up to Large size. The web anchors the target in place, allowing no movement. An entangled creature can escape with a successful Escape Artist check (DC 20) or burst the web with a successful Strength check (DC 26). The web has 6 hit points and takes double damage from fire.

Poison (Ex): Bite, Fortitude save (DC 13); initial damage 1d6 temporary Strength, secondary damage 2d6 temporary Strength.

Alternate Form (Su): Her natural form is that of a Large monstrous spider. She can assume two other forms. The first is that of a tall human woman, black haired and grey-eyed. The second form is a Medium-size, spider-humanoid hybrid. Changing form is a standard action. The aranea keeps its ability scores and can cast spells, but it cannot use webs or poison in humanoid form. In hybrid form, an aranea looks human at first glance, but a successful Spot check (DC 18) reveals the creature's fangs and spinnerets. The aranea can use weapons and webs in this form. An aranea remains in one form until it chooses to assume a new one. A change in form cannot be dispelled, nor does the aranea revert to its natural form when killed. A true seeing spell, however, reveals its natural form if it is in humanoid or hybrid form.

Challenge Rating: 13

Treasure: 4,000 sp of mixed coinage; 8 gems worth a total of 5,000 sp, and a horn of blasting


Spells Per Day: 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 3

Spells Known:

L0: resistance, ray of frost, daze, mage hand, arcane mark, detect magic, read magic, spark, prestidigitation

L1: shield, charm person, ray of flame, ray of enfeeblement, cause fear

L2: Detect Thoughts, mirror image, ray of stupidity, invisibility

L3: Lightning bolt, haste, hold person

L4: ray of weakness, ice storm

L5: Mind Fog


Velichry's tactics against invaders to her lair are as follows:

she has her folk keep a careful eye on the few routes into the central lair, using her detect thoughts spell if she believes intrusion is imminent, otherwise depending on small spiders to scurry back with a warning. As soon as a warning is given, she casts her Mind Fog on the only major access to her lair chamber. She uses detect thoughts to time it correctly. Then she waits, ready to cast fear. If that doesn't drive most away, she will try to charm at least one person, or hold the most intelligent being she detected earlier. Only then does she resort to her lightning bolt or her ray spells.


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