The Lost Depths
The Lost Depths
Chapter 1: Mengzhu’s Expedition
Tseng Mengzhu is a private man with a public presence. For decades, the Tian Xian noble, seemingly granted by the Gods with bottomless coffers, has played a role in a vast swathe of public works; there’s nary a hospital, school, or academy in the Inner Sea region built in the last forty years that does not owe some brick, some window, or some wall to the man, but yet his name is far from well known. He keeps to himself, using his influence to fund a variety of private ventures most often in the forms of excavations and expeditions. From Ustalav to Osirion, the enigmatic gentleman has paid out hundreds of thousands of gold for labor, machines, materials, and talent, all in the name of recovering some of history’s lost little treasures. No one knows his motivations, even the few who truly know him personally. He donates much of what he finds to the Pathfinder Society in Absalom, and yet the rest goes to his private collection – normally items of curiosity with no real relevance.
It’s been eight years since Mengzhu was last heard from. After an extensive excavation in Osirion, fourteen months long, he paid his workers and left for his homeland late in the year of 4704 A.R. After his close friends had not heard from him for some time, it was generally assumed that Mengzhu, only a mere human, had finally passed from his grand old age; nearly a hundred, by many’s count.
Yet, rumours stir.
The year is 4712 A.R. It’s Lamashan, late in the fall season. For around two months, a feverish excitement has trickled outwards from the pirate stronghold of Port Peril, growing stronger by the day. It’s said that an excavation is occurring, deep within the Mwangi expanse, with the Mengzhu name attached to it. Well-outfitted guides make rounds twice a month, spreading word of wages beginning at 2 gold for every day a man is willing to lend his arm to swing a pickaxe – more for those willing to take up a sword, and fortunes promised for those with unique talents of particular use. The poor flock north from Eleder in hopes of claiming a share of the wealth for themselves, often mislead by the dozens of false guides granted the right to scam the fortune seekers and forced to return home empty-handed.
Though most law-abiding citizens would dare not risk their lives by going to a pirate city, scores still flock south from Azir, bold and brave and prepared to win their stake. The most stubborn of them either find guidance or set off through the expanse themselves, while those who are unable to find passage through the terrifying jungle are forced to return home, their tales spreading far and wide of those who did make it, rumours reaching Mirab and even beginning to make rounds in Sothis, causing yet more dozens to begin the ill-advised trip to Port Peril. Nobody knows for sure if the digsite even exists, but hundreds still try anyway. 7 out of 10 are forced to turn back. The other 3 disappear into the jungle, either dead or having cemented their spot Mengzhu’s supposed most incredible venture yet.
You are mere days away from Port Peril, on one of the last ships of the season willing to make the journey around the Eye of Abendego as it picks up intensity in the winter months. You have every intention of being one of the ones to make it. You have your motivations, of course, but then, so do the other twenty starry-eyed dreamers on the boat. In addition to the two (2) traits normally allowed, please choose one of the following as a “motivation” campaign trait;
A Letter from a Friend: You’ve worked with Mengzhu before. You remember his name fondly, and how well he treated those who came to work for him. More than anything, you remember the vast amounts of knowledge that became available to you, things that you would be hard pressed to remember anywhere else — and you’ve received a letter. An invitation really; a recognition of your unique talents and a request for the “best and brightest” to come and lend a hand to him. Choose any Knowledge skill — you gain a +2 bonus on skill checks with that Knowledge skill, and it becomes a class skill for you.
- MORE TRAITS TO COME **