Gloamhold: The Ebon Road

In the far reaches of Gloamhold’s shadowed depths—beyond even the Sunless Lake and the Twilight City—lies the little-travelled Ebon Road and the Screaming Gate.

By Tommi Salama

By Tommi Salama

 

The Screaming Gate

Few explorers reach the Screaming Gate and fewer still breach it. For beyond the Screaming Gate lies the Ebon Road and the wild, untamed depths of the Ebon Realm. The Screaming Gate was built millennia ago by the troglodytes who founded the Twilight City. They were a ragged bunch fleeing the incessant infighting and civil wars wracking their once proud empire. The survivors followed eventually discovered the Sunless Lake and founded the Twilight City. They built the Screaming Gate to keep them safe from both their vengeful brethren and the vicious, unthinking beasts lurking in the eternal dark. From the Sunless Lake, the daunting fortification can only be reached via a perilous climb. A sweeping, switchback staircase scales the cavern wall from the lake’s frigid, briny waters. Separated from the Twilight City by design, the stairway is built with defence in mind. In several places—through clever use of architectural techniques now long-lost to the troglodytes—it is rigged to collapse. Every few score of feet, sets of slender, carven enscrolled pillars flank the staircase. All were once potent magical defences drawing upon the power of the four elements to annihilate anything coming down the stairs; now some have fallen (or been destroyed) while others have lost their enchantments or malfunction in unpredictable fashions.

The Screaming Gate itself is a massive fortification built around a huge gate of living stone wrested from the very fabric of the elemental plane of earth by long-dead troglodyte artificers. Several exceedingly ancient and powerful earth elementals are bound to the gate. They give the gate an awesome array of physical attacks as well as the ability to regenerate damage wrought to the portal and the surrounding stone. The Screaming Gate—unsurprisingly given its name—also possesses a variety of powerful and devastating sonic attacks. No large body of attackers have ever breached its defences. On occasion, though, individuals or small bands of cunning, lucky or powerful travellers have managed to pass through the area without being annihilated by discovering one of the several secret sally ports concealed about the gate’s environs.

The Ebon Road

While of predominantly natural origin, troglodyte miners modified the passageway that would become Ebon Road to make the approach to the city as difficult as possible. In several sections, they engineered steep inclines to make an organised advance on the city by a large group all but impossible. Still, a small band of determined or desperate explorers could dare the Ebon Road, but such heroes must do so without mounts or beasts of burden unless they can employ magic to aid their beasts’ passage.

The further one gets from the Twilight City the wilder and rougher the going becomes. Beyond the relative safety of the Twilight City, there are precious few safe havens. However, fantastical tales of underground civilisations and their riches draw a trickle of adventurers through the gate; most do not return.

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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