Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The Zanbor Manuscript
Never has a book so vexed the kingdom's scholars as this one. Cloistered away in her squat offices surrounded by stacks of tomes Adnid Treefellow moves her glass of magnification over its yellowed pages, occasionally muttering to herself in her native elven tongue. Adnid is one of four academics in the Golden Pheasant University to dedicate her studies to the Zanbor Manuscript. The book is entirely written in a coded language, unknown to anyone but the author (being the current prevailing theory). The test is as mysterious as the imagery that surrounds it - delicate art showing strange shaped figures, unknown plants, beasts that don't exist, and even several maps that do not conform to the formal structure of a map.
The manuscript was unearthed from an ancient tomb by freelance adventurers. The tomb belonged to Zanbor Toop, a man that history does not remember. They sold the book to an antiques dealer where it remained for more than 200 years before it was found and bought by a university scholar.
It is thought that there must be a sister text somewhere with a cypher, or at least a hidden spell to crack the code (no magic has worked up to this point - there seems to be a dampener woven onto the pages). What's more is it appears that being with the book for too long starts to lead to hallucinations - specters floating in the corner of the eye, voices when one is alone. One of the scholars is specifically studying this phenomenon.
Using the manuscript in your adventure
Adnid is at her wit's end and believes that continuing to study the book could drive the scholars into a spiral of madness. She will put together an expeditionary group including one scholar (likely herself) and a team of adventurers friendly to the university.
They are to return to the original home of the manuscript - Zanbor's tomb, in search of a cypher.
Ensure the manuscript itself is a barrier for the players. Just being near it can trigger hallucinations, so mess with their heads. They start hearing and seeing things that aren't there, getting them into further trouble (was that a cry for help coming from that dark cave?).
The manuscript is precious, so cannot be harmed, however it must be taken as Adnid believes there are clues in it to the location of the cypher. Plus, like the One Ring, she's become obsessed with it. Oh, and the other scholars are really not happy about her taking it. They may just have to hunt her down.
You can swing the adventure your own way, but I like the thought of it leading to a lost underground city full of plants, beasts and people lost in time. Zanbor's ghost may even be somewhat of a god there.