Road To Nowhere
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This seems to be the afterlife for all those thinking beings whose souls aren’t claimed by one deity or another after their deaths. These souls appear on a long, winding road in a body that looked much like it did during their life at some point, and they still remember everything they learned before their demise. This road winds through canyons, deserts, fertile plains, mountains, forests, and badlands, but it seems to go on and on forever. While it is possible to leave the road, it doesn’t really get you anywhere, since this plane seems to loop back to itself - once you have traveled about 10 miles away from it, you will find the road again at pretty much the same place you started.

When the souls of the dead first arrive here, they to so at dawn, with the sun rising behind their backs and casting long shadows ahead of them. They instinctively seem to know that they should travel the road into the direction of the setting sun. Thus, their travels along the road represent an endless journey to the West.

It is possible for planar travelers to visit the Road to Nowhere with the usual rituals, but its inhabitants - the souls of the dead - are trapped there. The only way for them to leave is to be raised or - as rumors claim - to travel to the end of the Road, where everyone can allegedly find his heart’s desire. The Road seems to go on and on forever, and nobody has ever been found who has claimed to reach its end, but yet the rumors persist.

Caravans and lone travelers constantly move along the endless landscape. It is dotted on both sides by small communities of people who have given up their travels, though most eventually hit the road again. For while countless people must have arrived here, somehow the population doesn’t seem to increase - and this, in the minds of many, means that it is possible to reach the end of the Road…

Adventure Ideas

  • Introduce the Road to Nowhere when the entire party has been killed, but you don't want to start over with new characters. Let the dead PCs travel along the Road for awhile, and have them encounter other people on it who question their goals, motives, and reasons for wanting to return to the lands of the living. Once they have done some roleplaying and soul-searching here you can get them back via a friendly NPC finding their bodies and raising them. It will still be somewhat contrived, but it won't feel as if their deaths had no consequences.
    • This works especially well if some of the people they encounter ask derisively: "Who would bring you back to the lands of the living? Who would care if you are gone?" Let the PCs answer this question, and then you can use their ideas to determine who will bring them back.

Designer's Notes & Resources

A song with the same title was stuck in my head while I came up with this. I wish I could remember by whom it was…

Most religious afterlives seem to reserve all sorts of awful punishments for nonbelievers. This is also true for some game settings - don't the unbelievers of the Forgotten Realms setting get stuck in some sort of living wall where they can rot? I wanted something not so depressing for Urbis. The Road to Nowhere doesn't sound very bad, although its true nature is still fairly ambiguous - ambiguous enough to explain why someone might want to return to the lands of the living.

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