The Unillustrated ManPosted by Corwin
Was out of town for a while and missed a couple of weeks, but I’ll have another encounter up this week to make up for it. Still friends?
The Unillustrated Man is a standalone encounter designed for five 6th to 8th-level adventurers. A shaman’s magical tattoos have been washed off by a mysterious storm, coming to life as dangerous spirit animals. The players must venture into the storm and weaken the illustrations until their ink can be extracted and the tattoos restored to their original host.
Storm clouds hang over the lush and verdant valley of Teveld, as they always have. A torrential downpour is visible for miles, dark and heavy rain that obscures everything caught beneath—though a closer look reveals an oddity; the thatch huts scattered below the rain are dry as bone, and those living in the area have never felt a single drop of water. Sating the curiosity of bewildered visitors, Teveld’s shamanistic elders explain that the valley rests on a fragile point between the living world and the spirit realm; the wall between the planes is stretched thin, letting the spirit realm’s eternal storm break through.
Called the long rain by those familiar with the phenomenon, the storm, clouds, and rain exist on a separate plane—visible to this world but intangible to those in it; the lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, and the rain falls, but the storm’s effects are nothing to the residents but a perpetual and calming presence, a soothing reminder of nature and the spirit realm. Some claim to have felt the rain, others swear they can hear the drops bouncing off stones and dripping from leaves; none of the assertions are validated or believed, and the valley goes on with its slow and rural life, its residents and travelers taking advantage of the tranquility to connect with ancient spirits.
Once such traveler was a strange and mysterious man known only as Darsk, a tall and lanky elf with a preference for quiet and solitude. Covering his body, head to toe, are countless tattoos of exquisite detail, inked to represent the spirits called upon by primal shamans—ghostly bears, lions, and tigers. A closer look reveals the tattoos themselves as more than mere art; the images dance and move in impossible ways, alive beneath the skin. Teveld’s elders have heard of such illustrated men, those capable of channeling spirits through their body with magical tattoos, and it is only natural that Darsk would be drawn to the valley by their tattoos.
However, almost immediately after arriving in the valley, the long rain began to affect Darsk and his illustrations, washing the magical ink off his body. As it collected in puddles on the ground, the glowing ink came to live, twisting into ghostly shapes of the animal spirits they used to represent. Separated from their host and agitated by the incessant rain, these tangible illustrations have turned hostile, terrorizing Teveld’s vulnerable population of elders and travelers. Becoming more powerful each day they stay within the storm and having grown far beyond the match of the valley’s residents, Darsk’s tattoos must be erased before the long rain and its effects manage to wash away the people of Teveld for good.