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Conan RPG (D20 Mongoose) - City of Xuthal

Conan RPG (D20 Mongoose) - City of Xuthal

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Published by Tommaso Galmacci

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Published by: Tommaso Galmacci on Mar 23, 2012
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03/10/2013

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eep in the burning deserts of southern Kush lies the lostcity of Xuthal. No chronicleof the modern Hyborian Agemakes mention of it and the madness that gripsits people makes them largely unaware of everything beyond the city walls. For thoughXuthal is still occupied by the descendants of aonce mighty race, the people have fallen into thedream deliriums of the black lotus blossom andeven they have little perception of this forgottencity in the nameless desert.Like several other near-mythical ruins of theHyborian Age, Xuthal is constructed of titanicblocks of green stone that shimmer like glassin the hot sun. However, unlike every othersuch site, Xuthal still stands and is occupiedby descendants of the ancients who must haveraised these fantastic structures. Many scholarsspeculate that such monumental constructionscould only have been reared by the Lemurians,a legendary people said to be so far advanced asto make Hyborians seem apes in comparison.Certainly the advanced technologies the currentXuthalans use lends credence to this claim.Unfortunately, though the Xuthalans use theremnants of these technologies, they hardlyunderstand the science that underlies them andthey have little or no knowledge of the peoplewhose legacy they exploit. The typical Xuthalan
W. Jason Peck
W. Jason Peck
Journey to the Dark Corners of the Hyborean World in
Journey to the Dark Corners of the Hyborean World in
Conan the Roleplaying Game
Conan the Roleplaying Game
 
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knows only enough to make these advancedtechnologies work, which is enough to keepthe people of Xuthal fed and living in the lapof luxury. All their remaining scientific effortswere turned generations ago to the study of the mysteries of black lotus. Their diligencein these studies was perhaps too successful, astoday they are botanical masters – capable of handling the black lotus plant without harm anddistilling an assortment of potent drugs fromit. Sadly, most of their time is now spent in thedeath-like sleep these drugs induce, dreamingof the mystical mysteries of the cosmos andremaining unaware that their culture continues tomarch its way towards extinction.
Using Xuthal in
Using Xuthal in
Your Game
Your Game
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring and wondrouselements of the classic Conan stories are thenumerous ruins of bygone eras that he visitsduring his adventures. In an era so long-removed from our own that it is nothing short of mythical, the monuments to ancient civilisationsthat Conan explores during the Hyborian Agerecall antiquities so old that they seem to predatemankind altogether. If not man, then whatalien hands reared these strange stones? It is amystery that is never fully explained in RobertE. Howard’s Conan tales and one that resonatesthrough our own modern psyches in the sameway any mention of Atlantis does. There is apull to ancient things, a draw that calls to us all.However, as Conan often learned, some suchsites are best left shrouded in the cloaking mistsof history.This article
 
explores one of the most infamousruins Conan visits during his adventures – thelost city of Xuthal. The ruin is placed in contextwithin the Hyborian Age and then detailed in
 
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a number of ways – including its position onthe continent, the environs in which it is set, itsknown history, any and all its current denizens,the treasures to be found there and much more.Of course, not everything is predeterminedconcerning this mysterious place and plenty of room is left to allow individual Games Mastersto stamp their own brand of play upon them.So what are you waiting for? Take a firm gripon your sword pommel and whisper a quick prayer to Mitra, because now we delve deep intothe mysteries of the black eons…
Myths and Legends
Myths and Legends
There are no specific myths that make mentionof Xuthal and its strange people circulatedbeyond its walls. The only legends that wouldapply are those concerning all the known ruinsof green-stoned cities found throughout thecontinent and even these are meagre in contentat best. Most scholars speculate that these wereall built by the same forgotten race, or at leastrelated races that sprang from the same originalsource. Some even go so far as to name this raceas the near-mythical Lemurians, though this isfar from the accepted theory. The only other‘fact’ associated with these unknown buildersis that they must have been far more advancedthan the peoples of the current era. The citiesare too vast in scale, too precisely laid out andtoo alien in construction to have been madeby anything less than a superior civilisation.Even more telling are the locations of theseruins, all situated deep inside a wilderness toofar removed from natural resources to havesupported even a small populace by any meansknown to the peoples of the Hyborian Age.In the event that a Games Master’s campaign isset in a time after Conan’s visit to Xuthal, thenany number of other rumours concerning the citymay have leaked to the world at large via Conanor Natala. Whether such is the case or not,and what the nature of these rumours might beexactly, is left to the Games Master to determine.
Region and
Region and
Environment
Environment
Xuthal sits astride an oasis in the deep desertsof southern Kush. Surrounded on all sides bya desolate and unforgiving countryside, the cityappears long abandoned. Nothing moves inthis wasteland and the outlying land lies totallyuntouched by the hands of man. So brutal isthe afternoon sun in this region, often climbingbeyond 110 degrees, the city’s gleaming wallsand shining spires are easy to mistake as amirage. Yet Xuthal is no trick of the sun andcool apartments and fine foodstuffs can be foundwithin.A day’s march to the south lies a smaller oasisand beyond that begins the broad grasslands thatcover much of the southern regions of the Black Kingdoms. No road leads to this oasis fromthe city. Indeed, no road of any kind makesits way from Xuthal. The city is self-servingand isolated, completely out of touch with theoutside world.
Flora
The region in which Xuthal stands is completelydevoid of vegetation. Not even the ruggedshrubs and prickly cacti that cling to lifeelsewhere in these southern deserts can be foundwithin ten miles of the city’s glassy walls. Soextreme is this desolation that it seems to defythe very natural order of things, and so it does.Any character exposed to this environmentfor more than two hours and who makes asuccessful Knowledge (nature) or Survivalcheck (DC 15) can determine that somethingabout this landscape is terribly out of joint. Theland is too arid for any desert and the wholesituation reeks of the supernatural. In fact,though there is no way for Player Charactersto know it, the entire landscape for a distanceof ten miles in all directions from Xuthal hasbeen modified by the advanced technologiesof the ancients who once built it. All moisturein this prepared region is systematically drawnaway via a series of underground aqueducts tobe stored in vast cisterns beneath the city. Thisprocess augments the oasis waters already foundthere and ensures there is always plenty to keepthe complex machinery housed beneath the cityin working order.Inside Xuthal itself, the only plant-life grownis that of the black lotus plant. These sinisterplants are grown in a series of interconnectedpits deep beneath the city in such quantity that iteasily doubles what could be found in the entirewilds of Kush. Were it not for the advancedtechnologies used to cultivate and containthe black lotus, the whole city would quicklybecome saturated in their dream-causing pollens,rendering it inhospitable to human life.Since there is no vegetation within ten miles of Xuthal, it follows that there is no animal life
 A weird, unreal atmosphere hung over all. Traversing this dim, silent palacewas like an opium dream. Some of the chambers were unlighted, and these they avoided. Others were bathed in a soft, weird light that seemed toemanate from jewels set in the walls in fantastic design. Robert E. Howard, The SlitheringShadow

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