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"My Lord Magister, Most Wise and Merciful, Bounteous Minister of Imperial Trade,

"I humbly append a report for Your Honour's perusal. I believe it relates to a matter of some importance to the Ever-Expanding Rays of Divine Splendour.

"In the 25th year of Emperor Bestowing Justice, whilst fighting the Battle of Ampash, Lesser General Vatrachandar claimed that he saw a creature three times the height of a man, clad in living plants, striding across the battlefield. He was not believed.

"In the 35th year of Bestowing Justice, one hundred of these creatures appeared, the largest number ever reported, and were seen crossing the Plain of Giants, Plains of Pesh and the Hills of Niranim. They were given the nick-name Shamblers.

"From the descriptions given, shamblers are giant man-shaped creatures made from, or clad in, living foliage. They appear from nowhere, cross the landscape and vanish. No-one as yet has reported an origin or a destination for these creatures. Their reported height varies from three-times the size of a man, up to five times the size of a house. The smaller size is then most commonly described.

"Just over twenty years ago, in the 41st year of Received Wisdom, Merchant Lord Dashrapur Ondra posted claims to the Merchant's League that his compound in Four Quarters, Nirhamsa, had been destroyed by a shambler walking over it. Certainly a shambler had been sighted in the region, but it was later discovered from eye-witnesses that the shambler had avoided the compound, apparently deliberately. Merchant Lord Dashrapur Ondra was found to have been trying to defraud the Turif clan who had provided insurance for the compound.

"The apparent sentience shown by the shambler in avoiding Lord Ondra's buildings is at seeming odds with the otherwise reported behaviour of shamblers - that they show an almost mindless lack of awareness of anything surrounding them. It should be noted, however, that it turns out that avoidance of obstacles is not an unusual phenomenon. Depite Lord Ondra's claim, there have been no reports of shamblers stepping on man-made structures, accidentally or otherwise.

"Recently there have been increased sightings of shamblers again, predominantly in the north of the Empire. There are still no indications of where they originate or where they are going, although the general direction is from the Throne of Heaven Mountains towards the south. It is possible, given their foliage covered nature and their Northerly origins that they are earth spirits of some kind, offspring of the Divine Jade Gibbon.

Most August Minister, I believe it would be of great benificience if we at the Collegium Arketium could mount an expedition to ascend one of these creatures as it passed by, to ride with it and discover its goal. I humbly submit a request for five hundred thousand yen for funding of the expedition (please see attached expenses sheet).

Most Wise Master Barshallar, Department of Supernatural Studies, Collegium Arketium, Llaza."

Adventure seeds:

Shamblers are a mysterious race of grassy giants. They appear occasionally, wander in roughly a straight line across hundreds of miles, and are gone. They pay no interest to other races and are impervious to most attacks. No-one, as yet, has dared to try something as destructive as an Orrian cannon against it, out of fear of Divine Retribution. Although they have no interest in mortals and do not communicate in any way, they do seem tangentially aware of them to the extent that they will deviate their course to avoid stepping on anything man-made. In forests they make no mark of passage, depsite their great size. Small rivers they step over, larger ones they wade through.

  • The basic shambler "encounter" is simply a bit of wierdness for the characters to react to - they see a shambler or two wandering by in the distance.

  • Most Wise Master Barshallar is the foremost authority on shamblers. Most people don't have the benefit of his learning on the subject and so would not have all the facts that he has. Most notably, the fact that shamblers don't step on buildings. People in a town or village in the apparent path of a shambler will start to take drastic measures. Maybe the players are drafted in to help, making big plans. Maybe the villagers are going to try to destroy the shambler and the players know that it will miss them anyway. Will they try to stop the villagers from destroying a strange life-form, or will they help them?

  • Brave players might wish to get involved in Master Barshallar's plan to 'ride' a shambler. Where will they end up, how will they go about it, and will the shambler decide to scratch the itch that they cause. Others might try to 'mine' the shambler to see what lies within (some sort of jade, surely?). This will surely cause the shambler to attack them. Another possibility, shamblers might have some sort of symbiotic life-form living on them, a species of small predator who keep the shambler free from pests in exchange for a home. As a further side adventure with master Barshallar, the players might end up helping him gather evidence in order to secure his funding.

  • Once in a very long while a simply huge shambler appears, a real walking mountain of a creature. Such a one has come along now, and is shambling (as expected) slowly through the local area. Its arrival coincides with a number of bandit attacks, and the local Magister of the Longing Star has posted a bounty for the capture of the bandits.

    In fact, the bandits have taken up residence on the shambler. It is so large that they have time to climb down with one footstep, raid a nearby settlement, escape back to the shambler with the next footstep and be a mile away as it takes a stride. It is, however, quite easy to spot the pattern between the shambler's path and where the attacks take place. What is not so easy is attacking the bandits in their lair. Climbing the legs of the shambler involves climbing a vertical face inside a massive tangle of brambles and other undergrowth, with the defenders dropping things on you from right overhead.