The Valley of the Stone Gods
The Valley of the Stone Gods
By Shae Davidson
The Valley of the Stone Gods is a short sketch of a fantasy adventure for Risus in which the characters must help townspeople as their community becomes a battleground for two forgotten gods.
Ruga’s Mill is a quiet town of about 400 people nestled along a stream in the Azure Hills. The humans and dwarves who live there graze livestock on the hills to the east and west, and sometimes work on the small farms along the stream to the north and south or craft items using the small deposits of metal they mine nearby. A dirt road runs parallel to the stream, and traders pass through two or three times a month.
The player characters could be in town to deliver a message, visit a family member, or rest after their last adventure.
Early Tuesday afternoon a group of seven soldiers (4) and four goblin (3) prisoners arrive in town. The soldiers ask to house the prisoners in Ruga’s Mill overnight before resuming their journey to a keep fifteen miles to the north. They explain that goblins are reavers who were killing livestock in villages to the south. The goblins protest, claiming that an ogre killed the animals and that they had kept a hide that they had found. The townsfolk agree to let the soldiers lock the goblins in a small barn overnight.
The goblins are innocent. The tracker in the squad of soldiers recognized the ogre’s tracks, and feared fighting the monster. The other soldiers don’t know the truth. The goblins deeply resent the troops, and are becoming more desperate as they get closer to the keep.
As the sun sets on Tuesday evening animals become anxious and agitated. Dogs bark at the darkness, and horses kick against stall doors. Anyone trying to calm an animal needs to make a Target Number 15 roll; the animal panics and flees if the PC fails by more than seven.
The soldiers in town go on alert, with three taking positions to defend the barn and other four dividing into groups of two to patrol the town along with local volunteers. No one can find a reason for the disturbance, and the worst anxiety seems to ease slightly as total darkness falls over the valley.
Just after midnight a deep resonant tone sounds. Young children begin talking in their sleep, whispering about “the days of Thon” or “the coming of his brother.” Thon and his brother are unknown to the PCs, but anyone who makes a Target Number 10 roll related to magic, lore, or history will feel a strange tension upon hearing the names. The animals in town become silent and seek to escape or hide if possible.
It is the night of the new moon, and anyone venturing outside will see massive shapes silhouetted against the stars at either end of the valley if they make a Target Number 20 perception roll. The strange forms are massive (300’) humanoid statues. Small angular runes cover their feet and lower legs, and anyone running a hand along the odd characters will hear indistinct whispering. There is a 2-in-6 chance the whispering morphs into “Behold Thon” for the statue to the north or “Behold the Brother of Thon” for the statue to the south. The voices are faint and disorienting, and characters hearing the names will experience nausea and a headache and suffer a -1 die penalty to any action for the following hour. The statues face each other, but remain completely motionless.
The townspeople begin to panic as the first traces of light give a clearer view of the figures.
Reactions can include:
Flight into the hills to the east or west, abandoning family members and friends.
Efforts to attack the statues
Sheltering in fear and refusing to leave
Efforts to propitiate the strange gods
The soldiers also panic. The tracker flees during the night, and the remaining soldiers argue over whether or not they should kill the prisoners or abandon them, and whether they should flee or help the town. The goblins don’t have a clear view of the statues from their prison, but call out to be released so they can help. Roll 1d6 for each goblin who is freed. Anyone rolling a 1 or 2 tries to escape from the town, otherwise they will stay and help. The remaining soldiers will be very distrustful.
At precisely noon the two statues move forward to lock in battle. They grapple until sundown, pushing one another back and forth and trampling a large portion of the town underfoot. At sundown they return to either end of the valley, where they remain motionless until the vanish at midnight.
The statues do not reappear in the following days. The characters will be left to help survivors rebuild the town, or to set off in search of the origins of the strange figures.