Wednesday, November 7, 2018

D20x5 Tantalizing Trade Routes

Converted from my reddit list here:

As usual, thanks goes to Meandering Banter for the list-maker:

D20 The good for which this route is known is...
1 Chunks of unrefined amber. The beings preserved within the amber are far more valuable than the amber itself.
2 Fine horses of mythical pedigrees. Horses that eat flesh and have hooked hooves, horses that can run on mist, horses that can toss the quills on their mane with force and accuracy exceeding that of a crossbow, and stranger breeds still can be found there.
3 Tears of the Dawn, who is said to weep them as she bids her husband the Sun goodbye on his journey west into death. Each bears a fragment of the warmth and beauty of the one who wept them.
4 Addictively delicious spice-powder made from ground-up psychedelic frogs.
5 Psychoreactive cloth woven from the fibers of a dream-eating plant. It changes colour, texture, etc., based on the mindset of the people touching it.
6 Avernian steel, forged with the fumes from oracular cave-vents. The metal seems to always end up in just the right place to cause death, or to prevent it.
7 Pigments which produce impossible colours, scraped from the interiors of broken, metallic craft found in unlikely places.
8 The oil and blubber from oceanic leviathans, which can be rendered into the bases for a thousand wondrous concoctions. Highly flammable. Burns bizarrely.
9 Slaves of every sort from the Vermilion Slab. All obey absolutely, all are technically masterful in their many skills, all refuse to show the thing that’s taken the place of their tongue, even on pain of death.
10 The stipewood of certain giant mushrooms, a natural channel of esoteric energies. A prime material for wands, staves, and spellbooks when pulped and papered. Beware of any spores that might remain on it.
11 Sacred salts which draw out malefic influences like ordinary salt might draw out water.
12 Chips of eternal ice, always cool, never melting. Not truly ice. Alien siphons of this world’s lovely, lively heat.
13 Beer made with the original recipe, fermented from blood instead of grains, and with odder herbs than hops. The drunkenness it brings to drinkers is caricaturing well past mundane intoxicants. An angry drunk becomes a berserker, a sad drunk a despairing one, a happy drunk an ecstatic one, and so on.
14 An alchemical solution that can harden mud, dirt, sand, and the like into something like concrete when spread on it. Cheaper and faster for high-quality roads than building them by hand, at least if you can buy on the scale of a state.
15 Empirical instruments of great precision: scales, telescopes, compasses, and so on.
16 Furs cut from royal wolfwyrms. It’s waterproof, fire-resistant, tough enough to protect from an assassin’s blade yet fashionable enough to be worn to a coronation.
17 The vitrified codexes of a literally and figuratively fallen civilization, and the countless translations and compilations thereof. An intact codex is priceless and pathetically fragile.
18 A drug which can ever so briefly restore the humanity of that which was once human.
19 Highfire, which burns brighter and hotter than ordinary flame fed with the same fuel.
20 God-pleasing incense.
D20 Something besides goods that’s followed this route is...
1 A mutagenic lepidopteran plague.
2 A nomadic horde tracking rumours of decadent cities fat with wealth.
3 Burrowing predators, omnivores, parasites: a whole underground ecosystem adapted to feeding off the people of the trade route, their beasts of burden, and their supplies.
4 A genre of music from a minor offshoot of the route, played to please the spirits of that place. Unfortunately and yet unknown, it irritates the spirits of elsewhere.
5 Envoys of an expanding empire, keen to convince those along the route to capitulate rather than resist when the empire’s border reaches them.
6 An exiled people who’ve found a home managing caravanserais, watering holes, and suchlike on the route. Attacking one will lead to a reaction from all of them.
7 A pragmatic, cosmopolitan, and zealously missionary new religion.
8 Hungry ghosts and the most wretched of the walking dead, aimlessly stalking traders to find the ones who disturbed their rest.
9 Pilgrims making use of the caravans’ relative safety to visit holy sites.
10 Privateer-bandits employed by merchants to prey on their rivals.
11 Knowledge of a societally disruptive technology.
12 A critical philosophical work that’s shaken the roots of schools and universities the route has touched.
13 An exotic and awful venereal disease.
14 Cosmopolitan attitudes and cultural mixtures.
15 Deserters fleeing a foreign war that dwarfs any you’ve heard of in living memory.
16 A grand race with mystic undertones and a whole lot of money (and stranger things) gambled on it.
17 A glut of more mundane goods: silver, jewels, spices, and suchlike.
18 A fearsome criminal consortium.
19 An artificial race of storytellers.
20 Tales of a lost temple-city full of earthly riches meant for a messiah upon their descension.
D20 Trade along this route is mainly conducted by...
1 A race of beastmen who can act as their own beasts of burden.
2 A far-flung clan of merchant-princes tied in fortunes and family by generations of cloistered inbreeding.
3 The agents of wizardly cabals more concerned with the occult significance of the goods than their monetary value.
4 Hosts of a mind-affecting parasite, ignorant of the fact that they’re being used as a wide-ranging vector.
5 Lay members of a nomad-god’s faith.
6 People who’ve been using it their entire lives.
7 A nationally-backed trading company.
8 A hodgepodge of hyperspecialized, jealously protective guilds.
9 An unorthodox sect of geomancers who hope to use the route as a gigantic travel- and trade-powered sigil.
10 Those who serve a coven of witches sworn to Mammon. Anyone trading along the route without their permission is liable to be stricken by the coven’s curses and minions.
11 A subculture of libertines and bohemians who use the freedom of the open road and trade-wealth to support their way of life.
12 A single massive caravan.
13 Former barbarians tempted into mercantile work by witnessed luxuries.
14 Traders who share a common language invented to facilitate commerce.
15 Automated golems patrolling paths set by their long-lost makers. Traders hop from golem to golem based on chaotic, constantly-updating maps and calendars of their movements.
16 The whims of a currency-lich, the spirit of a dead ruler bound to their own image on the coins they had minted.
17 A cartel of colluding arbitrageurs.
18 Superstitious adherence to ritualized schemes.
19 The rules of complex reciprocal exchanges established by the traders’ tribal antecedents.
20 A surgically-altered merchant-caste judged able to withstand the corruptive effects of commerce by the cultures of the trade route.
D20 A passive obstacle along this route is...
1 A winding, narrow path through a treacherous mountain.
2 The unpredictable and often violent weather.
3 The long stretches without a decent water source.
4 Nigh-unfordable flood-prone rivers.
5 Rapidly-expanding thorny plant life that often overgrows the road.
6 Harsh tariffs in many of its destination cities.
7 A lack of safe harbours.
8 A scarcity of competent guards willing to travel it without obscene payment.
9 Mirages and other more-or-less natural illusions.
10 A great rift that’s risky to pass through and time-consuming to pass around.
11 The illogically deadly traps of goblin raider-tribes.
12 Swarms of hungry migratory insects.
13 The space-warping webs of magic spiders.
14 Weirdly common meteor impacts.
15 Lingering miasmas that twist the minds of lesser animals.
16 A section that passes through some labyrinthian cave systems.
17 A narrow canyon that acts as a bottleneck on it. Many mutually disagreeable factions are forced into close quarters here, and hostilities break out at the drop of a hat, sometimes literally.
18 Temporal rifts that might see you arrive at your destination a hundred years after you set off, or the day before.
19 Portentous, starless nights that swallow the light out of torches.
20 Rampant tectonic activity that boils stone and contorts mountains like a grand mal seizure.
D20 An active obstacle along this route is...
1 A dragon whose territory the route passes through. There’s no shortage of merchants who’d pay to see it killed to be free of its extortion.
2 Gryphons attracted to the gold passed between merchants.
3 Sky pirates.
4 Fairy tricksters that try to tempt travellers off the path.
5 Cruelly cunning packs of terror birds.
6 A pair of squabbling giants who only ever agree on stealing from caravans together.
7 A puritanical cult that abhors greed and intemperance.
8 A spy ring with memory-affecting magic that weaves hidden plans among the trade networks.
9 A traveling carnival staffed by the damned.
10 Ghoul clans who pick off stragglers, the exhausted, and the starving to season their corpses under the baking sun.
11 Eyeless, pallid people who pour out of the ground at night to pillage and kill.
12 Barbarians who ride scaly things that can easily outrun horses and don’t consider anyone who can’t put up a fight to be human.
13 Spiteful trolls who seek to ruin what others have above even taking it for themselves.
14 A vast pride of lions with human eyes who steal the knowledge of those whose brains they eat and the strength of those whose hearts they eat.
15 Druid-commandos who believe they can strike a fatal blow against civilization by cutting off its lifeblood which is trade.
16 Oozing titans whose long slumber has been disturbed by the treading feet of traders.
17 Anti-alchemists who wish to reduce gold to lead, shorten lives with ingenious poisons, and debase all that is transcendent.
18 A demon-which-is-also-a-disease who drives travellers to frenzies of covetous murder.
19 Spirits of desolate places who delight in the torment of mortals far from home.
20 A mad king who built his castle in the belly of a giant sandworm, who considers all that touches the earth his domain.

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