Previously, I covered how you can create Greystone Valley characters using the FATE Accelerated RPG. But what good is a character without an adventure to play through? Here’s an RPG introduction to the world of Greystone Valley. It takes place after the events of Conquest of Greystone Valley, but doesn’t include any spoilers for that novel.
The adventure is a simple, straightforward way to introduce younger players to the concept of role-playing. They can fight their way through the obstacles if they want, but there are plenty of opportunities for nonviolent solutions as well.
Not familiar with the game? No problem! You can get FATE Accelerated and its related games in PDF format for free right here. Or, if you’d prefer to access the game through a web browser, you can find all the rules in the online system reference document.
Read on to get started with the adventure Arrival in Greystone Valley!
Scene I: The House of Magic Mirrors
Once everybody has an idea of who they are playing, ask them what they were doing just before the start of the game. Were they fighting vicious monsters? Sitting in school? Playing a game? The answer doesn’t matter – it is just a way to help everybody get into character.
Wherever they were and whatever they were doing, they find themselves suddenly covered in a thick gray fog. They can’t see even a few feet in front of them. Then, just as quickly as it appeared, the fog vanishes – but leaves them in a very different place. Read or paraphrase the following:
The world around you has changed dramatically, and you now find yourself in a large, circular room that looks like it could be a museum or library if somebody would clean it up a bit. Several full-sized mirrors line the walls, and the center of the room features three desks that are each cluttered with glass vials, yellowed scrolls, spilled ink, and what looks to be a stuffed winged cat. There is only one door leading from the room and no signs of any inhabitants save for a handful of other people standing next to the other mirrors, each of whom looks to be as out of place as you are.
This room has two aspects: cluttered and magical grab-bag. The odds and ends here aren’t particularly useful, but if a PC tags one of these aspects, they can find a minor piece of equipment that is useful to whatever task is on hand.
The other people are the rest of the PCs. Give them a chance to introduce themselves and learn about each other before proceeding to the next scene.
Scene II: Gremlins Come to Play
After the PCs get situated, they hear a crashing in the next room. Give them a moment to determine how they react. They have just a few seconds before the door swings open and a group of gremlins enter the room.
Gremlins are small, green-skinned, beady-eyed pranksters who are looking for a way to start some trouble. They each have knives or sharp pieces of glass that they can use as weapons if a fight breaks out, but they aren’t necessarily looking for violence. Unless the PCs engage them, they focus most of their energy on rummaging through the junk in the room, tearing up scrolls and running their claws across the skin of the stuffed cat.
Eventually, one of the gremlins sees its reflection in a magic mirror and, startled, attacks it. When this happens, a bright flash fills the room and the gremlin disappears in a puff of smoke. At this point, the rest of the gremlins break into a panic, turning to physical violence against the PCs.
Not counting the gremlin who disappears into the mirror, there is one gremlin per PC. They have the easily distracted aspect, which can be tagged to the PCs’ advantage. They are also cowardly – if they take a negative consequence, they flee.
The battle lasts until either the gremlins flee or they seem to be overpowering the PCs. Once this happens, the next scene begins.
Scene III: Meeting with a Ghost
The PCs have been drawn into the tower of the ghost-wizard Argal. Eventually, the commotion caused by the gremlins gets loud enough to draw his attention. This can either be at the end of the confrontation with the creatures or if things are looking bad for the PCs, in which case Argal’s arrival frightens the gremlins away.
Argal appears as an old, bearded wizard who is obviously see-through and very definitely a ghost. The upper half of his body looks like a normal person; from the waist down, he’s nothing but an amorphous cloud. If asked about his form, he responds, “Best you don’t see what my lower half actually looks like these days.”
When Argal first gets a chance to talk with the PCs, he introduces himself in a friendly manner as follows:
“Newcomers” The ghost touches the bridge of his nose to adjust spectacles that aren’t actually there. “I didn’t summon you, did I? Well, anyway, welcome to Greystone Valley! I would offer you some tea and cookies, but my hands can’t hold a kettle and I believe those obnoxious little gremlins ate all the cookies long ago.”
Argal was once a great wizard of Greystone Valley, but he’s been dead for more than two years now. He sometimes forgets that he’s dead, ignoring the fact that he can walk through walls, and even flinching if somebody tries to hit him. In game terms, he has three aspects:
- Ghost-Wizard of Greystone Valley
- Forgetful about his own death
- Has Seen Glimpses of the Great Beyond
Argal spends some time marveling over PCs who have special features or unusual gadgets. He might even ask to hold certain items, only to forget that they pass right through his hands and drop to the floor.
Argal is also a native of Greystone Valley and somebody who can happily fill the PCs in on where they are. You can find more information about Greystone Valley here and can print out any of the pages there as handouts if desired.
Argal loves his homeland quite a bit, but does understand if the PCs want to return home. Regardless of whether they want to get home or explore the wonders of the valley, there’s one dangerous obstacle in the way…
Scene IV: The Quest
Greystone Valley was once a place where people found themselves drawn in and couldn’t escape, but a little bird recently told Argal that Castle Greystone, a vast tower with doors to thousands of different worlds, has been opened. (The little bird literally told this to Argal. The wizard suspects that some unlucky faerie might have drunk a shapechanging potion the old wizard had left out.)
If the PCs are interested in going home, Argal can provide them with a magic scroll which, when read in Castle Greystone, will point them to the door that leads them home. Even if they don’t want to go home, however, they’ll need to complete a bit of a quest first if they ever wish to leave the tower.
Argal wasn’t always the dottering old ghost the PCs now see. Long ago, he used to be a cruel and petty wizard. Once, when a young woman tried to steal from him, he laid upon her the curse of the Gorgon, turning her into a hideous creature with snakes for hair and the ability to turn people to stone.
“Looking back, giving her the power to turn any living creature into a statue might not have been the best idea. But you live and learn. Or, in my case, you don’t do either.”
The gorgon tracked down Argal for revenge, only to find that the old wizard is dead. She has since made her lair outside the tower, with a handful of gremlins as her only companions. To get to the rest of Greystone Valley (and, eventually, Castle Greystone), the PCs will need to find a way past the gorgon.
Fortunately, Argal has a solution. Before his death, he constructed a potion that, if drunk by the gorgon, might change her back to normal. He repeatedly tries to open a cupboard where the potion is kept, forgetting that he can’t. If the PCs open it, they find an inky black fluid in a glass vial with a stopper on it.
Argal is happy to answer other questions from the PCs and can even provide them with some gear if they ask. (And, if they just steal it, he can’t do much to stop them.) Once the PCs are ready to leave the tower, they can examine the rest of the valley.
Scene V: The Gorgon’s Glade
When the PCs leave Argal’s tower, read or paraphrase the following to give them a glimpse of the valley.
The sky outside is a deep cerulean blue, with barely any clouds. The tall black stone tower that you just emerged from is circles on all sides by rocky terrain that is spotted with snow, although it’s currently warm enough to be early spring. Miles away on the horizon, a gigantic range of purple-gray mountains rise high, seeming to scrape the sky itself.
The area around Argal’s tower is dotted here and there with sculptures of animals and people, although it’s hard to tell what is an original statue and what was once a living creature before it looked upon the gorgon. PCs can try to climb over the rocky hills to escape the area, but the only easy exit is via a narrow but steep downward path to the south.
There are several conflicts available in this glade. Depending on the actions and interests of the PCs, they might run across some or all of them.
1: Faerie Statues
Of all the statues in the area, a group of fireflies stays around one sandstone sculpture of an old woman with a fox’s tail. If the PCs get closer, they notice that when they see the fireflies out of the corner of their eyes, they look like little winged people. These are the fey of Greystone Valley. Normally tricksters, they seem particularly distraught over the loss of “Mother Kitsune,” the woman who has been turned to stone. If approached peacefully, one of the fey explains that the gorgon’s blood can return somebody who has been turned to stone to life, but that they can’t get close to her for fear of turning to stone herself.
If the PCs attack or anger the fey, they attack with sleep arrows that knock people unconscious. If they succeed at knocking everybody unconscious, the PCs wake up back at the tower, probably with mustaches and other graffiti drawn on their faces with charcoal.
2: The Stone Guardian
The statue of what looks like a giant man with an ox’s head stands near the path out of the glade. If the PCs come close to that statue, its eyes light up with a blue glow. Lines of fire shoot forth, creating a wall of blue flame that blocks off the path. PCs who try to move through the wall find themselves caught on fire and find that the fire doesn’t burn out on its own – they continue to take consequences from the flame until they spend some time beating the flames out or dousing it with water.
After creating the wall of fire, the statue speaks in a booming voice:
“None of you have proven your cunning, so you may not pass. Turn back, unless you can answer my query.”
If the PCs are willing to answer the statue’s query, it offers this riddle:
“A barrel of rainwater weighs 20 stones. What must you add to make it weigh 15?”
The correct answer is “Holes.” However, if a player offers an answer that would also solve the riddle, the statue accepts that answer. Once the question has been answered, the wall of fire disappears and the statue speaks no more.
If the PCs provide an unsatisfactory answer, the statue’s eyes shoot fire at the one who spoke incorrectly. The PC can attempt an average check to avoid catching fire and suffering a physical consequence.
The PCs don’t have to play the riddle game. Climbing out of the mountain is difficult (and may attract gremlins seeking to steal their possessions), but not impossible. They can also try to smash the statue – if it takes five physical consequences, it falls apart and the fire disappears. However, it also has the ability to shoot flames at any attackers.
If questioned later about the statue, Argal says that it seems like something he might have built, but he would probably use it to keep people out of the glade, not in.
“Maybe somebody out there wants to make sure I stay put, eh?” He chuckles, without seeming to worry about the implications.
III. The Gorgon’s Lair
The gorgon herself hides in a cave on the edge of the glade, not far from the stone guardian. She usually hides during the day and hunts by night, although she’ll send out a few gremlin scouts to see what’s going on if the PCs make a lot of noise in the area.
The gorgon was once a young woman named Maranna. She carries a locket with her with a photograph inside that shows the way she used to look – a normal, feckled-faced woman with coppery hair. The photograph and her style of dress are close to modern-day Earth, suggesting that she isn’t a native of Greystone Valley, either. Maranna has three aspects:
- Petrifying gaze
Despite her petrifying gaze, Maranna wears a blindfold to make sure she doesn’t turn her gremlins to stone. She only takes the blindfold off if she thinks trouble is on its way.
If encountered in her cave, Maranna is being served by six gremlins. If the PCs wait in the glade until nightfall, Maranna finds them when she’s out hunting.
If encountered in the presence of other gremlins, Maranna spends the first part of the scene telling the gremlins to flee before she takes off her blindfold. If she’s found outside of her cave, she already has her blindfold off.
If the PCs tell Maranna they’ve been sent by Argal, she flies into a rage and will be more difficult to calm down. If they tell her about her cure, she assumes they’re trying to trick her, but does at least hear them out.
Maranna can be dealt with either peacefully or violently, depending on the way the PCs approach the encounter. Use her gremlin minions to increase the difficulty as needed – they can defend her in a fight or, given their short attention spans and desire for shiny things, could do something stupid like try to steal from the PCs while they’re in the middle of negotiating.
Maranna’s blood can be used to restore Mother Kitsune and the other statues, but only when she’s in gorgon form. If dealt with violently, the PCs can use blood spilled from the battle. If they talk her down peacefully, she can cut her hand open with something sharp and use the blood to restore the statues before she drinks the potion.
Scene VI: Entering Greystone Valley
Once the PCs have made their way away from Argal’s tower, with or without dealing with the gorgon, they have a whole valley to explore. This is the nominal end of the adventure, but additional encounters can be added if time and desire permits. Here are a few suggestions:
- Meeting the beast-men: The beast-men of Greystone Valley are human-like creatures with animal hooves and heads. A tribe of them led by a boar-man named Calydon lives near Castle Greystone, where they worship a giant statue of a ram-headed beast-man. They are very territorial and suspicious of humans, and might not let the PCs pass into the castle peacefully.
- The mischievous fey: The fey of Greystone Valley are known for their pranks and tendency to steal from mortals – if you’ve ever lost a sock to the laundry, that’s probably the fey at work. While those near Argal’s tower are thankful to anybody who can restore Mother Kitsune, others might show up to place minor curses on the PCs (such as growing an inch of hair every minute) or to steal the scroll Argal gave them.
- A dragon encounter: Even in Greystone Valley, dragons are rare and don’t interact with humans that often. However, some of them do come close to human lands, especially the areas near Castle Greystone. A horse-sized dragon might swoop out of the sky and threaten the PCs, telling them to give up any treasure unless they want to be roasted. The dragon, like most of its kind, does respond well to flattery, so it can be distracted or even convinced to leave in peace if its ego is properly sated.