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A magical stone dragon has hatched in the Ku Highlands – a call for adventure if ever there was one!

The flinty grey sands and basalt promontories of the Ku Highlands make for an inhospitable home to the three highland tribes. The nomadic tribes all share stories of various places of interest that remain slightly taboo to them (with the unspoken reasoning that these are the places where the youth will venture in their personal quests for adulthood and to “break the rules”). Today we speak of the Caverns of Ulthik and the Tree of Stone.

Dragon Tree Crater

Dragon Tree Crater

An ancient fumarole in a basalt crater has been home to the Tree of Stone since these tales were first told around a fire by the earliest humans on the Ku Highlands. The main fumarole has long been quiet, with only a slight sulfuric scent in the air as a reminder of the churning forces beneath. The Tree of Stone appears to be a large, dead, leafless tree from a distance – but is evidently made of a pale grey stone on examination.

In the walls of the fumarole are the Caverns of Ulthik – a set of natural fumarole caves that have been partially expanded by hard work into an underground complex that allowed Ulthik the Bold to watch the Tree of Stone without climbing over the sharp basalt promontory. The caverns of Ulthik remain thick with the scent of sulfur, and are home to a small hot spring that of course is said to have magical properties (particularly for those dunked into the waters for the first time).

Every now and then (and tales differ on how often – whether it is every 40 moons, every 2 years, every 11 years or even once a century), a black fruit is found growing on the Tree of Stone. It too is pronounced to have mighty magical properties of healing and strength. But if the fruit is allowed to grow, over the period of 66 weeks it becomes as large as a horse – sitting on the edge of the hill from which the Tree of Stone rests. And then it hatches into a stone beast with six legs, massive leathery wings, and an incredible avarice for valuables and the flesh of men.

Such a beast has hatched in the last year. Three cousins from the three tribes went to kill it, but did not return. Now the beast raids the tribes, flying off with tasty morsels (usually children) and any treasure it can find.

It is a time for heroes. Or even just mercenaries tempted by the treasures collected by this foul beast.

This map was originally drawn last summer for RPG Crate where it was paired with a short adventure. It is presented here free for your personal use and enjoyment.


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