Keith Davies is hosting the blog carnival this month, over here, on “Fantastic Locations.” I just recently created and ran a fantastic location, but it was not for the squeamish. My hardened veteran players (one of my game master style tags is “disturbing”) found it to be a bit wrenching to adventure through, and we didn’t stay there any longer than we had to.
Gulldaw Amphibious Prison is an undead turtle about 100 meters long and 75 meters wide. It slowly swims through the churning sea, leaving a swathe of stench and bobbing flesh that rotted off. Sharks swim in its wake, eating from it; if they eat too much, they become undead in turn, attacking the still-living sharks. Still, the swarm does not abate.
The flippers have been gnawed and rotted to massive stubs. The undead flesh continues to regenerate, so as abused as the massive corpse is, it doesn’t fall apart. It repairs itself over time.
The head is encased in a scaffolding, so that you can stand above, below, or on either side of the head. Clerics of the sea god stand there and channel divine energy into one side or the other, to control its movement; it is a slow process, but the undead turtle instinctively shies away from the energy, so you can steer somewhat.
The interior of the turtle is the masterpiece. A faction of elves took over, and have shaped the interior to hallways and cells; stretching membranes across doorways, they create cell doors that they can slit and trust to regrow behind them, over time. The prisoners are shackled in these cells.There are three levels inside, the balconies shaped and adjusted with the same techniques the elves use to grow trees into fanciful shapes, applied to undead turtle corpse flesh.
Air flow is regulated by loosened back plating; it rattles and sighs as the gasses of decomposition escape, and fresh air seeps in. Each level has a few loosened plates that can be lifted to tilt waste out, to slide down the shell and plop into the sea.
Inside, elevators are installed and attached to muscle tissue; on lower levels, a prod is provided to shock the muscle so it contracts, raising the elevator, and on higher levels there is a sack with a nozzle to squeeze a relaxing lubricant on the muscle, so the elevator lowers. (The players were particularly…impressed…with this innovative technique.)
Eels the mass of a human torso live in the rotting flesh, burrowing as they will, assisting with security by making it dangerous to not be a guard or to be outside the meaty air pocket cells. Crabs with back shells the size of coffee tables also lurk in the putrescent pools of the lower levels, making escape or rescue ever-more problematic. Only a few elves are on guard inside, and to get this posting, you really have to badly annoy the wrong elven leader.
Mounted on the turtle’s back is a howdah fortress, with ballista and a contingent of guards. This is enough to repel most ships, and to discourage boarders.
The prison swims around, so its location is not perfectly known by anyone (though it is very slow, and its trail easy to find and follow.) It regenerates damage done to it. Squeamish rescuers will never even set foot on it, much less in it. So while it is corrupt and awful, it is a high-security operation; it tends to severely punish those locked within it. Since the elves don’t have the death penalty, they needed to find something equally discouraging, perhaps worse than death. Gulldaw is their answer.
Where did it come from? Speculation is that it rose from the deeps to fight in an ancient war, and when the war was over, it did not sink again, and was not claimed, until the elves of the Pembriss Scholars took it on and converted it to a maximum security prison.
I came up with this location for Old School Hack. Of course.