Saturday Seed ~ 162 (Hollow Earth Expedition)

This Saturday Seed is being planted for HEX in celebration of the great news Ubiquity Roleplaying System aficionados received on June 29 (June 28th if you are a follower of this blog!) that the kickstarter for the long-awaited Mars source book for HEX-inflected heroic pulp will be launched on the 1st of July.  I am not sure if this is to commemorate that most Martian of holidays, Canada Day, but knowing we will soon be able to hold Revelations of Mars feels like a good reason to celebrate to me.

My Saturday Seeds also reappear on Ancient Scroll on random Saturdays~

The seed

The seed is built around the idea of terrible things growing from innocuous beginnings. It can form the basis for a one-shot, a  series, or a whole campaign if you are up for it.

Planting the seed

The seed can be planted in a number of ways, but the basis of it is that the characters, or someone they know and are in regular contact with, come into possession of a small metal flask, such as a hip flask for whiskey that is fully stoppered and bears the remains of an additional coat of wax around the seal. Within, they can hear the shifting of a grainy material and the distinct sound of something larger and harder. Opening it sets the characters hoeing the row to adventure~

Depending on how your existing campaign is structured or how a campaign you build around this idea will come to be arranged, the characters need to be able to believable come into possession of this mysterious flask without knowing its contents, or suspecting anything untoward. I am partial to the ideas of the flask coming to them in a set of personal effects from an eccentric relative who died in some improbable and slightly embarrassing way in a foreign land. Many other options exist, from estate auctions, curio shops, evidence lockers, abandoned frame houses in the dust bowl, and so on. That latter one really catches my fancy, too~

The Details

The flask is small enough to comfortable fit inside a vest of coat pocket without drawing much attention to itself. It has a dark, dry cork with the crumbled pieces of what used to be a thick, wax seal clinging to it and the lip of the flask. The metal of the flask itself has a matte finish, and has an attractive swirl pattern dimly visible in bright light.

When tilted or shaken, it is obvious that the flask is full of a dry, loose, granular material with a larger harder piece inside. It may be easy to guess that it contains something like sand or tiny grains of something, with a larger stone or perhaps gem in for good measure. The truth is not too far off that guess, but then again… very far from it.

At one time, the flask had a thin leather slipcase around it, and within that case was a note, but these two items have recently been separated from it. There was nothing special about the slipcase, but the note contained simple instructions etched deeply into the paper with a blunt pencil in block letters:


It may be that the case is somewhere near the flask should the characters stumble across it in a collection or auction house, and that the note has fallen on a floor in a sorting room, or been tossed ignorantly into the trash, but such details are entirely in your hands and the tone of the game being run.

What’s going on

Inside the flask is a sort of sand with an amber color, red when in piles under the right light. It is very dry and prone to making dust, causing sneezing, and getting into every nook and cranny. The lager item feels like a stone to the touch, but resembles a walnut. It can barely fit through the mouth of the flask.

If touched with bare skin, it feels dry at first, like cork, but within moments feels slick and oily.

Someone, at some point in history, filled this flask with sand and this single seed, then waxed the seal. The sand is not from this world, nor is the seed resting within it. The sand is from the red planet we humans call Mars. The seed…? The seed is from somewhere else.

It may be that these facts are never uncovered, but then again, this may be just the first step in a very long journey to find a means to combat the events which grow from opening the flask.

Once exposed to moisture, the seed will begin to grow into a vine, produce more seed pods, and spread with unbelievable speed. It will burrow into the earth through dense material or by sending out creepers over long distances. 

It will absorb all the water in its path and extend new vines out chasing all the water it can find.

It can never be sated, and in the wake of its thirst, it leaves nothing but a dry sand…


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