Free Faring

The Free Faring

The Free Faring was a device built by the Valosians, the dragon-men of the Age Before Men. The Valosian civilization eventually fell for reasons debated by scholars to this day.

The Creation of the Free Faring and the Coming of the Mara

The Valosians, those that remained after the fall, created the free-faring to travel anywhere. The free-faring soon consumed their civilization here on the island. The free-faring was a curse though. Once the astral projection had taken place, many did not want to come back to their bodies. After their bodies had died, they would return to find they were trapped in limbo – not in the Ethereal, Spirit or Material worlds. These lost souls eventually coalesced into the Mara after many years. They fed off the fear, pain and hatred in the minds of those who sought godhood and failed. Eventually they had enough that the collective decided to escape from the mind (and limbo) materializing on the material plane. It was destroyed by the creation of mindless nanes.

The Valosian survivors sealed the free-faring and fled, agreeing to never mention it again.

The Mara in the Age of Men

Then men came and opened up the free-faring. Their minds were captured by the Mara, enough that it took form, destroying many on the island. The first zombie master defeated it (since mindless undead can’t be possessed). Since then any that show the slightest ability to perform arcane magic are slain since a knock spell is needed to open the Mara’s portal. Over time the Zombie Masters have mystified the protection ritual, casting the Mara as the central evil in the world. This is in conjunction with their belief that the world turns along a wheel - from peace to war to peace, from life to death and back again, etc. The central tenant of the Zombie Master religion is that the Mara, or more accurately, men seeking the Free Faring and being consumed by the Mara, causes the Wheel to “turn” resulting in a negation of the Isle’s civilization.

Over the years though, many have come to island, all lead by the greed. It is always the same story – magic and treasure. Some have died on the island. Some have died at the zombie master’s hand; some have died in the free-faring. Some have met the Mara, some became part of the Mara (via the free-faring), and some were taken by the Mara in battle. Some have defeated the Mara. No one has defeated the Mara in many, many years. The Mara had grown powerful. After taking Rockhammer, it needed only a few souls to take in order for it to be corporeal again. Then it can wreck its vengeance.

Fortunately for the denizens of the Isle of Dread, the Prophets of the New Moon were able to defeat the Mara and return it to its limbo state.


Deep within the central volcano of the Isle of Dread lies the Free Faring. There are two entrances. The main entrance has been blocked by successive generations of Zombie Masters to prevent anyone from discovering it’s location. The second entrance is a doorway on the bed of the river that runs at the foot of the volcano.

The Free Faring is reached by a large, 10x10 shaft set horizontally midway between the base and top of the volcano. This shaft opens on the inside of the volcano, hollowed out by Valosian engineers. This giant vertical shaft is a thousand feet across.

The Free Faring is in an area a hundred feet in diameter exactly centered in the floor of the gigantic shaft. This area was not smooth but consisted of countless facets and the facets glowed with a cold blue light, not at all intense but with a strange quality.

At four points equally spaced around the ledge, wide walks of massive metal ran out into the well. They ran to a circular platform of what looked like glass, exactly the same size as the blue-glowing area on the floor below, and situated exactly above the latter.

Using the Free Faring

Any being that stops onto the circular platform in the center of the Free Faring is immediately affected by the device. The Free Faring projects their souls astrally into the World. The user becomes like a ghost, but without any physical form and without any connection to either the Ethereal Plane of the Spirit World.

A description of what happens based on the experiences of Scry and Yuji who stepped on the platform:

The world splits in two, and in one eye you see the world and in the other the spirit world with a shadowy well where the two meet. You feel as though the worlds dissolve before your eyes, the twin visions of the material and spirit world dissipating into nothing. Your legs give way, your head floats and all sense vanishes. You have only the distinct feeling of falling…falling without moving…

It was quite a fall. Rather it was as though a great hand, gently but very strong, had grasped lifted and flung you outward, and you slid, stunned and helpless across a silent nothingness.

You are nothing, alone in nothingness. You are a soul, a spirit, a handful of electric impulses and dust tossed out naked in the tempest of stars. You know this feeling. You know what it is like to be dead. It is like this.

But you are not dead.

You are afraid.

You are angry. Raging, that this violation should have been done to you. Screaming, a fierce eagle scream that defied the whole cosmos. You could not hear the scream, but you could sense it as a red flash in the nothingness. And it answered.

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be angry. Look. Look around you!”

The voice seems reassuring

“Look at the stars. Look at the universe. You are free. Free. This is what it is to be a god; not just this world, but all of them. They are yours.”

You try to orient yourself towards the voice, try to see who it is…and instead of doing that, you see the universe.

The black, black beautiful deeps that ran to the rim of creation, the dark all-mother with a billion galaxies dangling from her breast and the stars like fireflies at her fingertips and you can see it all clear and clean. The stars burned with a pure radiance. The coiling nebula glowed, silver clouds against the primal black. All down the long, long darkness the scattered galaxies wheeled and fleshed and you could hear them and you realize that the nothingness was not silent. It moved and sang with the movements of the suns, the worlds, the moons, the comets, cosmic dust and the free wills. Nothing was still and you understand that this was because stillness was death and therefore forbidden. The universe lived, moved, beat with a vital pulse. And you are part of it. You too throb and move, caught up in the great cosmic dancing of the gods, the movement of the universe and everything. This evokes a memory of your body floating in a great sea, becoming one with the life, the pulse, the movement of the sea…

You turn back to the voice again the limitlessness of everything laid out before you.

Hello! You call without a thought as to how to do it. Where are you?!

The panic that went with the sudden impulse to cry out was black, an ugly black that blotted out the radiance of all of eternity. The memory of your body had done that, reminding you that you are not an atom but a man with a face, a name…your name. You look down, and you hadn’t noticed it before, but a long silver cord trails from you. You look somehow down, although there is neither up nor down, eyes following the cord, and then, you see your body sprawled on the grid of the free-faring. You look as the newly dead; mouth slack, eyes glazed, with arms and legs flung wide in limp abandonment.

You look back to the stars, the multifaceted all creation spread out in front of you, And you choose…

At this point, both Scry and Yuji summoned the mental strength to return to their bodies.

The open universe in front of you shimmers, and for a second it seems to be freedom. But such freedom draws a shudder and you recoil from it. This is not God-hood. This is a trap. It is not life or death; you have been removed from all worlds, doomed to wander forever without hope of rest. To have your spirit, uprooted from the world that nourishes it, and flung into the cosmos is too much.

And the fear creeps back in.

The voice calls to you, “Come, come and join us friend!”

But you cannot. The fear is strong; it is the same animal surge that courses through you in times of mortal danger. It is a sign of life.

With both hands you grasp the silver cord and pull yourself back down to the empty shell lying on the grid of the Free-faring.

As you begin to return, you see something that had eluded you, something just at the corner of your eye. It is a whirling mass of vapor, forms indistinct, yet there, inside it. The forms of men, women, creatures, and yes, even a dragon; mingled amongst each other, projecting fear, pain and hatred back towards you as you reach your body on the gird.

The amorphous mass is trying to take your spirit’s place in your body.

There is a sharp pain as the whole of the evil of the mass pummels your soul.

This is the Mara. And it is trying to possess your body. You steel all of your courage and flex muscles that you cannot possibly feel, ready for the battle, the fight that will determine if you return to Oerth or if you are doomed, cursed, to wander the stars forever.

The party was able to return to their bodies and fight off the Mara.

Seeking the Free Faring

The party was tipped off about the Free Faring after they were hired by a young student who had taken up Griffix’s research into the Isle of Dread. The party, determining the student was too weak to accompany them (and unwilling to share the loot), they copied his map and left for the Isle. There they found the ghosts of Griffix and Fletcher; raising them and allowing them to join the party. The party discovered that the two ghosts were former adventurers who had traveled to the Isle with Baern Rockhammer, an explorer from Stormhaven, in search of the Free Faring. After defeating Tara, the Zombie Master, the party entered the volcano, found Free Faring, and beat the Mara back into limbo.