Hello Dear Readers,
Below is a rewritten version of our first chapter of Shattered Psyche, an adventure through Cognia! We'd love your feedback!
If you'd like a free, downloadable copy of this adventure with statblocks included, scroll to the bottom and snag one!
Thanks in advance for your time and insight, and - as always - be well and continue to write your own story!
Matthieu A.F. Fortier
Cognia is a peculiar plane that functions symbiotically with upwards of hundreds of other, ‘extra-cognic’ planes. To do this, it leeches magic and power from these planes by channeling the psychic, cognitive, and emotional energy from extra-cognic creatures through Mynd Trees. Every mynd tree is connected to a creature from another plane of existence by roots that sink not only physically into the ground but also magically through the astral sea. In Cognia, this energy is sapped through these roots and used to fuel the ecology of its planet.
Organisms in Cognia are incarnations of cognitive and emotional phenomena experienced by extra-cognic creatures. That is, the sadness extra-cognic creatures experience may be the function of a Desilopod in Cognia interacting with their Mynd Trees.
Creatures from other planes refer to Cognia by all sorts of names – for example, heaven, the subtle realm, collective consciousness, etc – as described by historic or divine figures who knew not what else to call it.
Angoset Drowan is a towering goliath fighter and powerful magic user. He is a devout agent of Desper, charged with (among other things) the acquisition and training of wild Desilopods for Desper’s forces.
Previously, Angoset had been sent to acquire a Peculiar Desilopod that has fed on despair energy for countless eons undisturbed. Angoset is unsure what makes this desilopod so special - only that Desper seemed to know more than he explained. Regardless, and with this charge, Angoset aimed to disturb the creature’s rest and dominate it into servitude.
Halona Bluequail, a human Oneironaught that scouts the cognic forest, has fended Angoset away and must now calm - or destroy - the rampaging Desilopod before it can further damage the surrounding Mynd Trees.
The Cognic Forest
“The Cognic Forest is a grove of Mynd Trees from where other planes are connected to the ecology of Cognia. Each tree is literally a tap into the mind of a creature from beyond the astral veil.” -Cey’ral Moore
This adventure begins in the Cognic Forest. Each adventurer ‘wakes up’ underneath a strange alien tree in an unrecognizable crowd of similar trees and other flora. Looking around, adventurers will realize they’ve been dropped in the middle of this strange place with no means of returning from whence they’ve come.
Any investigation into the nature of this cognic forest will reveal the following:
the roots of these trees reach north into the depths of the forest. A DC 17 Arcana check reveals that each tree is connected to each other and seems to garner power from a central point.
The crown of each tree resembles the cortex of a brain, and the trunks a brainstem.
A DC 12 nature check reveals that these trees are sensitive to the emotions of the adventurers, shifting in color in response to their feelings (i.e. red for angre, blue for joy, black for sad). An adventurer experiencing a positive emotion like joy may attract the attention of a Jolus Moute – a small, fantastical creature with the head and body of a mouse and the mane of lion – which quickly befriends the adventurers and follows the party as a friendly companion!
A DC 15 Investigate reveals that only the trees from which the adventurers fell are covered in a dense, naval-blue mucus. Succeeding this investigation by 18 or more suggests that the mucus is involved in their transportation here.
Read the following text to your table before continuing to Waking Up.
“Until just a few hours ago, you led a normal life. For some of you, that meant a mundane job at a big corporation while for others that meant a life of blades and war between clashing factions of fantasy and magic. Regardless, that life is behind you.
“Now, you find yourself in a strange world to which you’re certain you've never been, but; somehow, it also seems familiar – as safe and dangerous as the deep end of the swimming hole you frequented in your youth. You are unsure how you got here, with no memory of the immediate past.
“Each of you looks up, and the tree above you seems dim, as if the leaves are meant to be brimming with magic but have died – grim and gray. In the distance you think you hear the thrums of combat or; perhaps, just quakes of this strange, new earth.”
The first thing adventurers realize as they wake in the Cognic Forest is that they possess no material belongings they owned in their former life. Because this adventure is designed to begin at level 1, adventurers will not have had much to begin with anyway.
That said, adventurers may attempt to spend an hour and craft their starting gear as described in their class and race with a DC 13 Intelligence check. They may repeat this check every hour, but each failure is punctuated by a swarm of anksis that surprise and attack the party. After four hours the Anksis seem to stop and the party can craft their gear in peace.
‘Crafted’ gold is actually beads of gold found suspended in some of the Mynd Trees like grapes on vines.
After the first hour of working on their gear, adventurers hear the sound of combat in the distance. They cannot ascertain the identity of the combatants, but it is violent.
“Deseonates are the larval stage of the sturdier Desilopods. When left to their evolutionary charge, they serve extra-cognic beings quite well by invoking healthy amounts of sadness – the kind that fosters connection.” -Cey’ral Moore
Fully geared, the adventurers have nothing on which to tune their sense of place but the combat in the distance. After listening for a moment, it becomes clear that the combat in the distance includes at least one humanoid creature and implies that somebody either needs help or can provide help. If this isn’t enough to motivate them, the Jolus Moute acts as if it wants to see who is in danger.
Regardless of their next course of action, as the adventurers travel deeper into the cognic forest they glean the following about the trees around them:
Touching or otherwise interacting with a Mynd Tree projects visions of the life connected by that tree as visions amongst the leaves.
The creatures depicted by these mynd trees seem to be from all over the multiverse.
Doing so with one’s own (the one they fell from) may reveal glimpses into their past, their secrets, or their futures! Futures observed in this way are obscure and uncertain.
After a while, the adventurers feel a sense of gloom take hold of the air around them. Read the following text before moving into combat with Four Deseonates – larval creatures that ungulate as they move. Deseonates are the infantile stage of the Desilopod life cycle.
“After gleaning the bizarre nature of the trees around you, you are overcome with a sense of gloom.
Then, crawling out from the roots of a few surrounding trees, four heavy, pustulant creatures move like grubs towards you and seem to be the source of this sadness.
A dense fog of emotion grows around you, like a funeral, as these things burrow towards you.”
Once defeated, looting these creatures reveals a scrap of paper with half a line: “...this power a creature - hypothetically - could move to and from Cognia. I will…”
With this, adventurers will notice a trail of the same mucus on their trees from before reaching towards the sound of combat. It is easily reasoned (DC 10 Insight) that the rampaging creature deeper in the woods is linked to this note and the party’s arrival here.