Endless Blue – Week 126 – The Price of Progress   3 comments


The Price of Progress

Tired of subsisting while others prosper, a native Locanth tribe called the Estar Current abandoned their ancient tradition of harmony with nature to begin strip-mining for precious stones. The local sea hag, aghast at the destruction to the environment near her home, threatens to destroy them if they do not stop. Stuck in the middle, the adventurers must resolve the conflict before it is too late: Make them stop or you all will die…

Nestled between two steep hills lies a valley, itself bisected down its length by a deep trench. The trench is full of incredibly tall reeds and other soft-stemmed plants that form almost a blanket over the trench bed, but are not strong enough to support the weight of an individual. The flora is wildly overgrown and may hide any manner of stealthy predatory creatures.

The Hag of the Valley of the Hag: Fossa Gull

The sea hag Fossa Gull, the Fool Drowner, has grown impatient with the native Locanth population. When the local Locanth leaders chose to forgo their centuries long tradition of living in harmony with nature, they encroached into the hag’s valley and began a wave of strip-mining for semi-precious stones. Aghast at the invasion of her territory and destruction to the environment, she confronted the leaders a week ago and gave them an ultimatum — cease or die.

This is when the adventurers cross paths with the fuming hag, stumbling upon her barrow. Noticing the wayward adventurers have also invaded her home, Fossa Gull tasks them with convincing the Locanth to give up their mining ways and return to the old traditions, or both groups will face her wrath.

Fossa Gull’s barrow is about a day’s travel away from the encroaching Locanth’s progression of desecration. The party can just see the plume of pollution blooming in the Last Night spot. They will need to cross the valley’s trench to get to one of three possible next locations for the native tribe.

The Valley of Fossa Gull

The Encroaching Current: the Locanth Tribe

As the generations passed, the native Locanth current slowly began to flounder. It became harder and harder to meet the tribe’s needs while living according to their ancient traditions. Something had to change, and that change was an embrace of the modern practice of strip-mining.

The Locanth pick a spot to begin strip-mining. In shifts, workers spend a third of their day cutting down flora and digging up the soil, the next third traveling back to their tribe with the spoils, and the last third resting and
returning to the mining site to repeat the process. This week-long cycle continues the next week at a new digging site further into Fossa Gull’s valley.

There are three obvious places where the tribe might set up next. Roll, pick, or whatever which one you think the most interesting. If the players guess right, they arrive there just as the Locanth do. If not, the players can spot the beginning of a pollution plume blooming, and infer from that where the Locanth are now deep in the midst of mining work.

If confronted on their decision to strip-mine, the Locanth leader will argue that they have as much a right to survive as any other race. If other races are not prevented from mining in this way, why should they? And what good is tradition if following it leads you to languish, or death? They cannot mine elsewhere – this is where the gem vein runs. It took months to find this vein, who knows if they’ll find another in time?

The Hag’s Vengeance

Fossa Gull will summon a large kelpygmy warband, along with many shambling mounds, from within the trench to decimate the native tribe if they do not stop. They will outnumber the natives easily, and refresh constantly from the trench’s forested depths.

The True Price of Progress

The painful truth is, there is no correct answer. Both sides are right: The natives have just as much right to better their lives as anyone else, and Fossa Gull is correct that the long term damage done to the environment, and thus her, is irreparable. Is the life of one hag more important than the survival of a tribe of people? Without the income from gem mining, the tribe will starve.

Could the hag provide resources so the Locanth don’t need to mine? If so, should she be forced to? Isn’t that just extortion, making the sea hag work for the survival of the tribe against her will? Neither is responsible for the livelihood of the other, but neither has the right to impinge on the other for the sake of their own livelihood.

Perhaps some clever player might figure out some way to convince the opposing parties that it is in both their best interests to work together? Could the hag join the tribe? Would the tribe accept her, or more importantly, why would she accept them? Is there a solution that doesn’t result in the slaughter of either side?

The Price of Progress is written as a One Page Dungeon. One Page Dungeon is a yearly contest that ran from 2009 to last year, 2019. The Endless Blue campaign setting participated in the 2019 contest with the submission Ewer on the Confluence.

The home website for the One Page Dungeon project is www.dungeoncontest.com, and there you can find numerous submissions, individually or collected by year, of simple adventure outlines that can be easily dropped into your campaign. Submission Guidelines can also be found there to guide you in making your own One Page Dungeons to share with others. All submissions are released under the “Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported” license.

One Page Dungeon Contest www.dungeoncontest.com

Tradition should be our guard, not our gaoler.
It should protect, not punish; support, not sabotage.
If it makes you flounder, not flourish,

it is time for new traditions…
— Emigdio Estar, leader of the Estar Current

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