Biblyon Broadsides

Gods & Monsters news and old-school gaming notes.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Vale of the Azure Sun

Jerry Stratton, February 25, 2007

The Magic Garden. The Grand Guignol. The Empty Garden. The Butterfly Halls. The Grey Ship of the Moon. The Land Where the Jumblies Live. Perhaps even the Chaotic Mist and the Dry City are magic realms gone awry. Iskander may have been lost in one of these realms. So, perhaps, Coleridge’s Eastern King or his ancient mariner. Coleridge told of the entrance to the sacred river, but what existed beyond that great romantic chasm he claimed not to know.

There are many tales of travelers who have pierced this veil into strange, faerie-like, magical realms. The most famous are perhaps the tales of Alice related by the sorceror Charles Dodgson. Falling down an endless hole, stepping through a mirror, or an ornate door in the wilderness. In some cases, all it takes to enter a new world is turning onto a new path in the forest, or a side street you’ve never seen before.

The Vale of the Azure Sun is one of these. Sometimes a swimmer goes under water and returns in a dank cavern riddled with upright lizards, beetles that breathe fire, and strange creatures in the shadows. If the traveler leaves the caverns they find a small valley covered by a yellowed canopy of sky, and shining brightly upon the world is a bright blue sun. Others find it by falling, as Alice did, down a hole guarded by faeries.

The exit from such places can be as difficult to find as the entrance, and all the more maddening. But the tales of those who have escaped can inspire greed and desire. In Vale of the Azure Sun, Rilesen wrote of incredible knowledge gained in a game of chess, of magical secrets hidden in secrets, and of heaps of gold in a deep cavern guarded by dragons.

Whether Rilesen’s work is any more real than Dodgson’s allegorical tale of illusion is hotly debated--though usually only after many drinks. Even in a world of magic, it can’t be real. And yet tales persist of those who find a hollow oak and a hole in the ground…

The Valley is a fine way to introduce player characters to other worlds and hint at the nature of the Cataclysm. The Vale of the Azure Sun is suitable for three to six characters of 3rd to 5th level.

If you’re subscribed to the Biblyon Broadsheet feed in your podcast reader, look there for the Vale of the Azure Sun PDF!

  1. <- Three-Act Adventure
  2. Deep history ->