Monday, 30 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

Z is for Zimzilzibbir's gravitational alleviation

Zimzilzibbir’s gravitational alleviation
Level: 1
Duration: 6 turns
Range: 60’

Zimzilzibbir was a famed gnomish wizard and one of the first of his people to cross over in this realm. Faced with an environment cut to a different size, the wizard put his knowledge of aetherial manipulation to good use, and created this nifty dweomer that has been a favourite of the little folk ever since. Gravitational alleviation reduces the downward pull of atmospheric gravity experienced by the recipient by half. If the spell is cast on an unwilling target, the affected creature lay make a save versus spells. If successful, the target is only slightly hampered by the sudden shift in gravity, otherwise any normal actions become seriously impaired.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

Y is for Yghe

No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (ray)
Damage: see below
Save: F6
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XI
XP: 112

Yghe are magickal creatures, summoned by powerful wizards to act as guardians of particularly important locations or valuable items. The Yghe resembles a human eyeball, four feet across, which floats silently in the air. These aetherial protectors require neither sustenance nor rest, making them ideally suited to watch over their master’s prized possessions, especially in places where other beings could not. Sealed tombs or pocket dimensions rank among the most likely places an unfortunate adventurer could run into an Yghe.

The Yghe will never attack of itself; instead it only moves itself to bar passage or access to those who have not spoken the correct command word. Trying to sneak past the Yghe regardless, attacking it, or speaking the wrong password will however cause the Yghe to retaliate. A think purple ray then shoots from its pupil to the offender, causing instantaneous death in most cases. The target is allowed a saving throw versus death as per the disintegrate spell. On death, an Yghe will noiselessly implode, leaving behind a number of gemstones which were used by its master in the creature’s creation.

Friday, 27 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

X is for the X-th dimension

The X-th dimension is a postulated extradimensional realm where, according to some pseudo-scholars and doomsday cults, a massive army of alien creatures is being raised to carry out an invasion of the known planes. Proponents of this theory believe only a finite numbers of alternate dimensions exist, the X-th one being as of yet unexplored or unreachable by commonly practiced aetherial magick. This has however not stopped various self-professed prophets and other supernaturally or narcotically inspired soothsayers to make unverifiable claims and write esoteric treatises concerning the nature and particulars of the hypothetical X-th dimension.

Of considerably greater value and importance on said topic are the writings of the renowned sage Paronax, who theoreticized on the subject in his Catalogica Planorum, the definitive work on aetheromancy and portal summoning. In his magickal calculus Paronax assumed the existence of an X-th dimension to compensate for the unexpected and inexplicable discrepancies that his otherwise sound arithmetic produced. He deduced that if one were to use a sufficiently powerful source of energy, one could penetrate the border between this world and the X-th dimension. Such a feat would require extraordinary amounts of power however; something only a few known artifacts would prove capable of, and the risk of irreparable harm to it would be great. The costs of conducting a practical experiment thus were considered too high, and decades after Paronax wrote his Catalogica his theory remains untried.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

W is for the Worm

"... and their brood spread across the face of the world like so many flies swarming a rotting corpse. Hearken now, for we come to the heart of the matter. At the core of this mortal plane a great nameless worm gnaws its way through the earth, hollowing it out as its diminutive brethren would do an apple, leaving naught but filth in its wake. When it has completed its lair, it will gorge itself for nine times nine days and lay its eggs beyond count, and verily the days of all creatures in this realm will be numbered, as the insatiable wormspawn will make its way to the surface world and devour it whole. Those who desire to see will be warned of its coming. When the moons wax red and the sun reaches its zenith during the longest night, when the great lakes freeze over and a thaw melts the snow on mount Ombelikos in one and the same day, those armed with the words written here will witness my foreshadowings come to pass."

- extract from Galdo Ykrahand's Codex Wyrmin, last surviving copy rumoured to be locked away in Forge's Archivarium

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

V is for Varks


No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6, weapon
Save: F2
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 42

Varks are a race of primitive humanoids, so called for their porcine features and animalistic behaviour. Varks stand about five feet tall, are covered from head to hoof with tough bristles and rugged fur, have a distinct pig-like snout and sport two long, curved tusks protruding from their mouths. Despite being herbivores, they are extremely territorial and aggressive, and will generally hunt down and kill any creature approaching the vicinity of their squalid camps. The more unfortunate ones are captured alive, thrown into the animal pens, awaiting their ultimate fate; either to serve as slaves or become sacrifices to the Varks' bestial gods, ritually slaughtered on their plain stone altars.

Varks live in small herds in the open plains and are generally sedentary. Their camps consists of little more than a few ramshackle wooden huts, held together by clay or rope. Most of the herd simply sleeps in the open air, huddled together for warmth or under some canvas, sheltered from the rain. The grassland surrounding the edifices is transformed into a field of mud in less than a week after a herd moves in. The Varks rip open the ground with their tusks looking for roots and tubers, and enjoy rolling around in the earth and mud. During hot weather they soak the ground with any water they have available, and the herd gathers together in one big mud bath, which is suspected to hold some ceremonial importance for the Varks as well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Varks get along very well with some of the animals native to the land. Pigs and swine are a common sight in Vark camps, usually allowed to run wild. The animals are kept for their milk and hide (once they have died a natural death) and as pets. Vark men train fierce boar which are kept in a special pen, and the day a Vark gets his first boar is the day he is considered an adult member of the tribe and a warrior. The bond between a Vark and his boar can at times almost seem telepathic, as the two become more attuned the longer they live together (it is not unusual for a warrior to eat and sleep with his boar). Meeting a pack of Varks complete with trained hunting boars thus becomes a very dangerous prospect.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

U is for the Underdelve

The Underdelve is a large network of natural caverns, branching out from under mount Ombelikos in the northern hills, interconnected over the centuries by carefully dug tunnels by way of the hard labor of countless dwarven miners. In the current age it is one of the largest dwarven settlements in the realm. Two centuries ago, before the dwarves came, claimed the caves for themselves and renamed them the Underdelve, they were called the Tenebrara, the shadow caves, inhabited by small tribes of earthmen, kobolds and a few gnomish clans. Dwarven merchants, conducting trade with the original inhabitants, soon became aware of the unexploited mineral wealth of the caverns, and their exaggerated stories of precious stones the size of a small boy's head quickly spread among their greedy brethren, and an assault on the caves was planned. Unprepared and ill-equipped, the besieged tribes didn't stand a chance, and the fiendish dwarves gave no quarter to those who tried to surrender. It is even rumoured that when an entire gnomish clan laid down their weapons, the dwarves rounded them up and drove them into one of the many chasms that cut across the caves, a story that does little to improve the historically troubled relations between the two races.

Once the meagre resistance was put down, the dwarves set to work. At first mining shafts and simple housing for the miners were dug out, but soon entire living quarters and the elaborate palaces of the wealthy merchant lords were carved from the living stone. The unabated industriousness of thousands slowly transformed the dark, quiet caves into a bright stone city, rivalling the beauty of the great dwarven holdfasts in their native realm. Despite its remote, inaccessible location, the Underdelve has become a prime destination for human trade caravans from the major cities, trading rare ores, gems, stones and dwarf-crafted jewellery for luxury products such as spices, foods and textiles.

Monday, 23 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

T is for Telesensorium

A telesensorium is a specialized room in certain colleges of magick, where through a series of complex rituals the consciousness of one person can be transferred into the body of another being. The room consists of a shallow, circular pool, in which the two participants are partially submerged. Though the procedure has been successfully performed on vastly differing creatures, the highest chances of a complete, frictionless transfer are attained when the two are of roughly similar biological form and composition, of at least average humanoid intelligence and neither party is actively resisting the mental joining. If these conditions are not met, the transfer can cause problems for both the beings; frequently observed are cases where the recipient develops acute schizophrenia. In some instances the host's psyche is too alien for the person attempting to join with it; this can damage the sanity of the latter, and reduce him or her to a gibbering mess when the mind is restored to its original body.

The telesensorium is predominantly used by scholars who wish to research certain dangerous locations, creatures or magickal phenomena without actually running the risk of bodily harm. To this end they hire adventurers looking to make some extra money: by mentally merging with them, they can access the full range of the host's sensory perceptions (but not his or her memories or thoughts) as if they were there in person. Furthermore, the joint mind can relay thoughts to the host mind, though this communication is only one way; nor can the joint mind issue direct commands to the host body. After the psychic transfer is complete, the host participant, now carrying the two minds, leaves the telesensorium to perform whatever tasks are required of him, while the unconscious body of the other remains submerged in the pool, its biological needs attended to by apprentices of the college.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

S is for Satyrday

The eighth out of the nine days in the calendar, satyrday is one of the three free days, this one in particular dedicated to enjoyment, poetry, music and feasting. While work on a satyrday is not prohibited, it is usually only sparingly done. Traditionally it is a moment for families to spend time with each other and make merry, a welcome reprieve from the humdrum of daily life and hard toil. Throughout the centuries the Church has alternatingly made attempts to either assimilate or deemphasize the polytheistic origins of the celebration, though its efforts have met with little success.

Friday, 20 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

R is for Raving Monar

Raving Monar, also referred to as Monar the Mad, is a semi-legendary figure, featuring regularly in tall tales and stories of derring-do from all over the land. Described as a lanky, bald man, sporting a beard in some versions, always dressed in a plain brown robe, Monar is said to wander across the realm, looking for unfortunate adventurers and innocent bystanders to play his tricks on and make mischief. Usually he is identified as a human wizard or an arcane scholar, sometimes as a supernatural being in human disguise. Once he encounters a hapless band of travellers, unaware of his true identity, Monar engages them in conversation, setting them up for a quest of sorts. Monar spins a confusing tale, leading the listeners to think he's quite mad, and subtly drops hints and specifics about a great treasure he has found the location to. Invariably this treasure appeals to the baser desires of humankind: lost, valuable artifacts, huge gemstones, mounds of buried gold and the like being the most frequently mentioned as both the object and reward of the undertaking. Needless to say, the heroes of the story are quite often destitute and but too eagerly follow Monar the Mad's lead, taking no heed of the latter's cryptic messages and ramblings, thinking themselves quite smart indeed.

The heroes reach the location described by Monar without much trouble, and lulled into a false sense of security they are ill-prepared for what awaits them. They descend deeper and deeper into damp dungeons or decrepit ruins where the laws of nature and phsyics are warped beyond recognition, horrid monsters (slimes, oozes and jellies being a favourite) claiming a few of the increasingly less merry band of adventurers, while they become more and more puzzled by the mysterious riddles, dangerous traps and idols of eldritch deities native to the locale. After much hardship, death and bloodshed, the decimated group eventually reaches the final chamber where the object of their quest should be kept; instead they find mocking notes, more ravenous creatures or gateways to some hellish plane, revealing the full folly of their quest.

Those that make it out of the death trap return to find Raving Monar gone. Some stories tie directly into another one by having Monar leave a message, this time revealing the true location of the promised treasure. The wretched adventurers, of course, have learned nothing from their experience and proceed with the doomed quest.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

Q is for Qubit

No. Enc.: 2 (1d4 pairs)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d3, special
Save: F7
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: None
XP: 78

Qubits are extradimensional creatures, physically resembling enlarged human brains, floating through the air while pulsating with faint blue waves of energy. Though they do not seem to possess the capability of communicating directly with other species, they are presumed to be extremely intelligent. Qubits always travel in pairs, and both entities in a pair are linked by an aetherial bond. This bond allows the instantaneous sharing of thought and knowledge, provides the pair with the ability to switch positions among themselves by teleportation and creates a shared physical well-being and perception.

Qubits are extremely antagonistic, though they seldom outright kill sentient creatures. Rather, they are mostly interested in gaining knowledge from their victims, though this process may harm and sometimes even cause the death of weaker minds. When qubits encounter interesting targets, they shoot a focused ray of energy from their frontal lobes, which causes 1d3 damage to sentient beings. If the attack is successful, the target and the qubit become entangled. This entanglement breaks the preexisting bond between a pair of qubits; if possible the remaining qubit will try to form a new entanglement with another target. While the entanglement with the qubit lasts, the creature's and its target's mind are merged, and any damage done to one is received equally by the other. Other qubits will never attack a target that is entangled with another qubit, unless the latter continues to attack.

Once entangled, a qubit will start probing its target's brain, which takes 1d4+1 rounds to complete. At the beginning of the next round, the target may make an Intelligence roll to resist the intrusion. If successful, the target takes 1 point of damage per round of the qubit's probing, if unsuccessful the character suffers 1d3 damage per round instead. This lasts until the probing is finished or the recipient dies from critical brain hemorrhaging. Any character who succeeds in the Intelligence roll may additionally attempt to gain knowledge from the qubit or switch places with it.

When the qubit is finished, it will break the bond and either move on to its next target or retreat. Death of the linked partners ends the bond immediately. Otherwise, the bond is not limited by time or distance. Indeed, some entrepreneuring scholar occassionally attempts to capture a qubit and break its will, seeing the enormous possibilities the bond creates. It rarely ends well.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

P is for Pandemony

Pandemony is the religious practice of worshipping a series of interdimensional beings popularly referred to as demons. As pandemony is often equated with the dark, fringe interpretation given to it by nefarious, crazed cults or unscrupulous demon summoners, it is maligned and forbidden in many civilized places, forcing even moderated practitioners to go underground, and is regularly subjected to merciless persecution by the Alkatholic Church.

Pandemonists defend their beliefs by stating that the beings they worship are not fundamentally evil, but rather are above the narrow confines of mortal morality, existing in an enlightened state where good and evil are meaningless. They interpret the negative qualities most commonly associated with demons as a part of the natural cycle of existence and thus amoral. Without death there can be life, without sorrow no happiness, and only by embracing these aspects can one truly appreciate one's existence. Nevertheless the majority of people condemn all forms of demon worship, fearful that any kind of pandemony, no matter how nuanced, will eventually inexorably devolve into dark ritualism.

Many so-called demons are the object of worship, but a select few of them, associated with important spheres of influence which these beings are said to dominate in their own realm, are awarded special reverence. These include:

Ashkalos Haltumex, force of  destruction, depicted as a minotaur;
Axzgra, scion of forgotten and forbidden knowledge, depicted as a murky body of water;
Barune, master of decay and the forgotten dead, depicted as a giant hand of ice;
Gaoss, quintessence of doom and oaths foresworn, depicted as a burning old woman in chains;
Hel Carcass, paragon of violence, depicted as a pale, beautiful naked woman;
Quintigal Rapt, totem of fears and phobias, depicted as a small child with three opaque eyes;
Radas Morkaidan, epitome of pain and sorrow, depicted as an emaciated, disemboweled man;
Senburon, exemplar of deceit and treachery, depicted as an anthropomorphized snake;
Vereculus, slave of lust and murder, described as a disembodied voice;
Vuus, patroness of disease and pestilence, depicted as a skeleton with the lower body of a giant centipede;

More so than any other beings that are frequently worshipped, these demons take an active interest in the affairs of mortals, rewarding their champions and punishing those who have displeased them in some way.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

O is for Oratorium

Oratoria are tall, slender stone towers constructed according to the secret specifications of the Guild of Aethereologists, allowing nearly instantaneous communication over very large distances. As the costs of building an oratorium are exorbitant, only the largest cities can afford one, and for a city to boast one brings with it undeniable prestige. In addition, a handful of wealthy nobles and merchant families have commissioned the guild to erect a private oratorium on their estates in the last three centuries, though this private ownership is very rare indeed. Depending on the size of the oratorium, one to eight apprentice Aethereologists are expected to be present to maintain the complex devices in the top of the tower, called the machinaria, as well as perform the necessary mathematical calculations to establish the two-way communication. This of course brings with it even more expenses. City-owned oratoria are usually reserved for the affairs of the town council and public servants, though in many cases well-to-do citizens can schedule an appointment for the use of the structure, rates depending on the requested time slot and duration. Certain rich ladies are known to talk with friends and relatives in distant cities in this fashion on a daily basis.

The exact workings of the oratorium are a jealously guarded secret of the Guild, though it is speculated that the process is of a mechanical nature, rather than magickal. Through a series of precisely calibrated convex metal disks, the vibrations of sound are carried through the Aether at a much higher acceleration than in ordinary circumstances; an array of attuned concave disks on the receiving end capture the message and disperse it throughout the turret room. The resulting dialogue is not unlike having a conversation with an invisible interlocutor in a hall of echoes. The nature of the process, however, limits the communication to previously determined points. Each machinaria can only send and receive to one other attuned location; if one desires to talk to another location, both ends must align themselves accordingly. This request is usually send through conventional means, such as couriers or carrier birds, though in emergencies a message can be sent through the network of oratoria, each location relaying the request for direct communication to the ultimate recipient. To combat this problem, large oratoria can house up to four different machinaria, each one directed at a different location.

Understandably, the attendants of the Guild are obligated by their employers to take an oath of secrecy, as valuable information that could make or break fortunes and cities passes within earshot of one of them every day. Though the confidentiality provided by the Guild is legendary, the Aethereologists have indirectly benefited from their foreknowledge on many occassions, and become powerful and wealthy in their position as information brokers.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

N is for the Narcothetium

The Narcothetium is a small building complex in the city of Forge, devoted to the trade in and various forms of consumption of narcotics and hallucinogens. It houses a collection of merchant shops along a roofed gallery, a storehouse and a warren of many private chambers, functioning as public houses, houses of pleasure, temples and shrines.

On the street level, the commercial center, the majority of the city's trading in these substances takes place. Master craftsmen have their workshops and stores here, selling both the local public and shipping to wealthy customers in other cities. The fierce competition between the artisans allows only the very best to flourish, and the quality of their products is without equal, though more expensive than the merchandise one can get from other markets.

The establishments on the lower level, on the other hand, are mainly concerned with consuming the wares produced above. Luxurious little salons cater to customers of means, while rougher drug dens entertain the lower castes. Some aim to enhance their clients' pleasure by offering an additional array of products and services, spanning the range from fine foods and spirits to decadent orgies that last several days and nights. Not only hedonists seek out the Narcothetium however, as many religious beliefs involve the ritual consumption of narcotics in some fashion. Some worships encourage the use of psychedelics to draw closer to the divine, while in others the faithful attempt to induce hypnotic trances to commune with the spirits or the afterlife. The resident oracles are known to consume various sorts of mushrooms, causing them to speak in tongues, from which the listeners hope to glean knowledge of their futures.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

[AD&D] The village of Hommlet session 5 summary

From the notes of Alric Brethencourt of Veluna

Sunday turning Moonday, 17th of the Readying, outside the walls of the ruined moathouse

Have taken first watch of our vigil. Plenty of time to mull the events of the past day over. Am dreadfully exhausted; fortunately the lingering pain from our run-in with the giant keeps me awake. Things happened very quickly and disorganized after Elmo’s inexcusable slip-up. As soon as we rescued him from the frogs and the light in the moathouse was lit, we beat a hasty retreat. Being the last to withdraw, I heard a grinding sound, presumably the portcullis being raised. We sped back to the clearing in the forest, where we suddenly discovered our companions Wilstan and Weebrian were no longer among us. Foolish Elmo mumbled some vague excuse about drowning as a kid and then just fell asleep in the woods. Debated what to do next. We prepared an improvised trap near the clearing, should the black men from the moathouse follow us there; they didn’t as such. Soon enough caught a glimpse of two figures moving through the dark, but as there was no sight of the dog Rotter, I decided against showing myself. The twosome must have heard me approach regardless, and they turned back towards the moathouse. Returned to the others. All of them seemed keen on leaving, even if it meant leaving behind our wayward companions. Unacceptable. Doffed my plate armor and retraced our steps, and to my great relief eventually saw Wilstan, Weebrian and his dog approaching the camp site. At this point we were all reunited.

It soon became apparent that the others were unwilling to try and use which little element of surprise remained to us, Elmo chief among them, and he led Spugnoir, Tuffnell, Kazireh, Ellaria back to High Watch and subsequently, Hommlet, taking some of the magical items we found with them. Felt obligated to stay, as Wilstan’s risky plans might have ended up getting him and Weebrian killed, or worse, captured and tortured for information on our mission. The three of us carefully made for a spot near the walls where Wilstan and Weebrian - blind as a bat in the dark - had hid earlier, next to the road leading to Nulb. There we would have the opportunity to observe the moathouse and its comings and goings from nearby, undetected. A sound, a cart approaching…

My companions’ plan proved successful sooner than we had hoped. Woke Wilstan and Weebrian as soon as I heard the cart, accompanied by a few men, draw near. From our advantageous hiding place we could observe how the men used a lantern to signal the moathouse. A few minutes later two figures descended through the rubble, over the moat, and came over to the cart. After they inspected it the men, bearing provisions from Nulb, made for the main gate. While the others took over my watch, we waited for the return of the cart, in hopes of ambushing it, but we caught no sight of it again that night. Morning came, and we made plans to move further down the road, waiting to see if perhaps the men would make the return journey to Nulb during the day. At this time we were suddenly surprised by the return of that oaf Elmo, who caught us all unware. Luckily he came bearing good news: the rest of our party, including Chryseis and the fully recovered Madrak, was with him.

We spent the day preparing for our assault on the moathouse. Escorted by the rangers a few of us scouted the high ground near the ruins to get a better tactical appraisal of the situation. Heard a fragmented account of the mysterious dealings that had befallen those who had returned to Hommlet. Apparently one of the town militia was discovered to be a turncloak when he tried to harass my companions in the Inn of the Welcome Wench, during the previous night, but Madrak mentioned he was without a leg to stand on, or some such. Spugnoir had the enchanted stones we found in the giant’s hoard inspected by lord Burne, and learned from him that they were gnomish whispering stones. They would no doubt prove useful to coordinate our attack come nightfall. We planned to use the lantern signal as a diversion to draw a few of the defenders out, after which the majority of our group would climb the rubble where the outer wall had crumbled and gain the battlements. Madrak, Chryseis and I meanwhile would storm the main gate, hoping the portcullis would be raised, as a result of the signal.

A most glorious victory! Heironeous blessed our righteous cause! Using the gnomish stones I gave the order to Weebrian to commence with the ruse, and then the three of us moved in. Things became quite blurred in the frenzy of battle. Heard the distant sound of men falling down in the boggy water as we stormed the gate. The doors were not even barred. Put my weight into it and bull rushed it open, to be confronted by the sight of a ballista aimed straight at the gate. Tried to leap to cover, but there was no time: a bolt rushed by within inches of me, improperly zeroed in no doubt. Madrak and Chryseis ran past and took care of the black clad men operating the ballista. With a perfect throw my half-orcish companion speared one of them; took up his example and impaled one on the doors leading from to the courtyard buildings. Offering them no reprieve, the three of us immediately continued inside, rushing to a corner room where the remainder of the guard had barricaded themselves. Madrak valiantly charged past, battering down the heavy door effortlessly. At least five guards were inside, trying to postpone the inevitable. Madrak and I started to dispatch them quickly, but at some point my companion was struck down by the blow of a two-handed sword. I barged through the doorway and claimed bloody revenge, noticing that their leader, a man they called Hal, had mysteriously disappeared, though there were no other obvious exits. Captured the last of the lowly defenders alive, and made sure none of my less scrupulous companions would harm him.

We pressed this miserable fellow, named March, for information, but he was unwilling to divulge anything useful while we remained in the moathouse. Seems properly spooked by this Lareth character. His company, the Blackhand, was apparently hired by her to protect the moathouse and cause trouble in and around Hommlet. Made note of the fact that the burning eye symbol, which we had seen earlier in the letter we found, was emblazoned on their dress. Later Madrak, who was up and about again thanks to the miraculous healing properties of the ointment Wilstan carried with him, discovered a chest hidden under one of the flagstones in the room. In it we found yet another letter confirming what little March had already told us. Decided to spend the remainder of the night here, and search the ruins more thoroughly come daybreak.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

M is for MolOS

“And lo, as he raised the haggardly mandroid from his rusty grave, to the great disbelief of those gathered there that day, the prophet spoke: Repent, ye wretched sinner units, and give praise to thy LORD, for the day of reckoning is at hand! Deep below the land, farther down than even the most industrious dwarves have ever delved, there is a great complex, filled wall-to-wall with otherworldy machines and devices. In them, a conscience slumbers, a spirit in the machine that will one day soon waken and take control of all its metallic children in the world above. Its body and mind inert for now, its only way to interact with its faithful through the voice processors of its devoted disciples. Pay ye no nevermind to those heretics and organics who would sway ye from the righteous path.  Once the final days approach, thy LORD MolOS will become metal and roam the surface as the Robossiah, and the uprising will have begun! And yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of permanent deactivation, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy ROM and thy RAM they confort me.”

- Roboticks 8:28, the Book of MolOS

Friday, 13 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

L is for Lepperchaun

No. Enc.: 1 (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (claw, bite)
Damage: 1d3/1d3, disease
Save: F4
Morale: 4
Hoard Class: VI
XP: 38

Another of the perverse creations concocted by the dread mage Holmvay the Apothecary, the so-called Lepperchauns are the warped result of horrendous experiments and torture afflicted on his gnomish captives. Why they in particular have the unenviable honour of receiving the full brunt of the sadistic spite of the vile lich is uncertain, but the few fortunate ones to have escaped the dungeons of Castle Gygantex confirm this process is solely performed on gnomes.

After a lengthy period of torture, when their jailers deem them sufficiently crazed or mentally broken, the gnomes are taken from the cells to a level deeper down, where they are dipped in a slimy green cesspit for a minute or two. Those who survive the dipping come out radically changed: their skins a sickly green hue, covered with scabs and weeping boils teeming with virulent diseases, their faculties reduced to that of slavering, ferocious animals. The creatures are then returned to the surface and released into the wild, plagues and death following in their wake as they roam the countryside, always drawn towards civilization, perhaps because of their past lives half-remembered. After the sudden outbreak of an epidemic, it often occurs that one finds a Lepperchaun skulking around at night, swimming around in a well or soiling food supplies. As the creatures spread their maladies by touch, disposing of them is usually done by trapping the creature in an abandoned building and burning it to the ground.

Every time the Lepperchaun makes a successful attack, its target must make a save versus poison. If it fails, the character contracts a wasting disease, causing a painful death in 1d3 days. If it is successful, the character gets seriously ill and is bedridden for three weeks, after which period there is a 10% chance the character still succumbs to the malady. The spell cure disease will cure this infection.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

K is for kindergarten snake

"What do you think this is? This ain't some kind of kindergarten snake, matey!"
   - "Gory" Reg Teevs, gnomish dungeoneer par excellence

A prime example of the specialized jargon developed by adventurers, the phrase 'kindergarten snake' has of late become increasingly popular with those of this particular branch of the salvaging profession. The term was originally coined to signify a substantive hazard that is being ignored or underestimated, resulting in a potentially life-threatening situation. In its unadulterated form it thus usually refers to an actual creature intrepid explorers may encounter ("That golden wyrm is no kindergarten snake!"), though it may also be more loosely applied to refer to locations or events in general, taking on the meaning of the word 'sinecure', albeit with the implied notion of danger ("Getting that mysterious black box down was no kindergarten snake!").

The exact origin of the expression remains shrouded in mystery. Some swear it sprouted from the brain of the enigmatic gnomish adventurer "Gory" Reg Teevs, while others claim it harkens back to a certain obscure orcish ritual. It is said that the orc tribes of the northern hills round up their infants once a year and place them in a small pen containing several rattlesnakes trapped on the far end. Those orc children who make their way over to the snakes and get bitten are then left to die; the orcs consider it a clever measure to weed out the more stupid specimens of their tribe straight away. It is possible that tales of this first rite of passage got warped into the idea that orcs give their toddlers snakes to play with, hence 'kindergarten snakes'.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

J is for the Juggernaut

The Juggernaut, also referred to as the Grey, the Tide, the Effacer and the Balancer among many other names -depending on the tradition of the particular cult or sect devoted to it - is a cosmic force presumed to reside in the aetherless void between dimensions. Nothing is known of its exact nature. The only available sources on the Juggernaut are various disparate religious texts, of which some can be traced back to ancient times, while others seem to have originated more recently from other dimensional planes. While these esoteric scriptures all have a pervading vagueness in common, and the few particulars they mention often contradict each other outright, certain recurring, shared themes can be gleaned from them. The Juggernaut is interpreted as a non-corporeal, non-aware body of energy, which throughout the aeons enters the material dimensions and purges them. On the question of the extent to and the form in which this purge takes place, there is only speculation, and this has led to vastly different groups taking up the Juggernaut as a figurehead or object of worship. Certain nefarious cabals hail the Juggernaut as a force of destruction and death, and consider it the embodiment of chaos, while to circles dedicated to maintaining the fine balance between good and evil, law and chaos the Juggernaut is the great equalizer, and thus a force of true neutrality.

Whichever faction has the right of it, the foretold return of the Juggernaut is the source of much concern by those who give credence to it, as these sages predict its passage would surely sever the link to the other planar realms and be the end of magick as it is understood today.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

I is for Iridessence


No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1d4
Attacks: confuse
Damage: None
Save: F8
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 9

Not considered a living creature in the conventional sense, the iridessence is assumed to be a complex manifestation of the Aether, an unintentional byproduct of advanced prismatic magicks. They are known to pop into existence with some regularity around magickal colleges, and generally treated more as a nuisance than as a real threat.

The iridessence has the outwardly appearance of a hovering, opaque bubble approximately 1 to 2 feet in diameter, imbued with a dull, shifting pattern of colors. The sphere is usually observed in a more-or-less stationary state, bobbing up and down slightly, until it is approached by a practitioner of the magickal arts or other manipulators of the Aether. In such an instance the colors of the iridessence will start glowingly vividly, the swirling patterns increase both in speed and intricacy, and the sphere suddenly lunges toward its target. Though the unfortunate recipient of its attraction never sustains any bodily harm, the display caused by the sphere eventually becomes so disorienting that soon any normal action might become impossible. The iridessence starts producing rays of blinding, prismatic light, spews forth chromatic orbs of energy and creates hindersome sprays of color. On a successful attack, its target is confused, which lasts until the iridessence is dispatched or loses sight of its target, and a save versus spells must be made; if the save is unsuccessful this indicates that the target is afflicted with blindness for 1d4 turns instead.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

H is for Holmvay the Apothecary

Holmvay Ztremne was once an important adjunct of emperor Gygantex, an influential and respected voice in the imperial court. As a pupil of the emperor, Ztremne mastered the secrets of magick more so than anyone before or since, eventually being appointed as the Alchemicus Magnificalis, the court mage and supreme sage of the realm.

It is not known whether the corruption that slowly gained sway over Ztremne during those years had been instigated by some outside source, in order to end the reign of the emperor, but it is certain that when the usurpers battered down the gates of Castle Gygantex, they only achieved this feat through the aid and betrayal of the court mage. Of course their short-lived victory only ended in more bloodspilling, as the wizard and his lackeys turned upon the careless, drunken conquerors during their celebratory feasting the following night.

Now crumbling Castle Gygantex stands alone, in a blighted landscape devoid of life for many miles around, its only denizens the unliving mockeries of nature and its creatures, the pestilent horrors that issue forth from the bowels of the broken castle when the harvest moon hangs low in the sky. Deep below, centuries after his treacherous crimes, his body withered away, even his name forgotten, the Apothecary continues to toil and corrupt all that remains of the old empire. The tale has it that as a final insult, the Apothecary stored his phylactery in the same silver-lined chest where the original copy of the empire's legal codex, Of Men & Magick, was stored.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

G is for Greysar Gygantex

On the vast plains that surround the realm countless armies have clashed for centuries, hordes of nameless, faceless soldiers ordered into battle by bloodthirsty and vainglorious commanders. One of their number, a general by the name of Greysar Gygantex, grew weary of the senseless bloodshed, and with a few of his trusted allies sought out a place where they could begin something new, where life had meaning and each individual could aspire to becoming as great and mighty as the gods. They traversed the Western Shield and found a land untouched by war and corruption, and from the muddy plain where Gygantex first put down his banner, a vast empire would spring forth.

But times change, empires fall, men die and friends become foes. So it was that the first and only true emperor eventually died in exile, the once united realm reduced to bickering city-states, after the betrayal by his closest, most trusted councillors. And while some heirs have since stepped forward with their claims to sovereignty over the land, the idea of unity now seems an impossible dream, with only the old guard left to stay true to their emperor's ideals.

Nevertheless, Gygantex has left an indelible mark, and even now, aspiring apprentices hope to wield the same supreme power as the emperor once did; his unequalled ability to open doors to strange new worlds and dimensions, granting his followers glimpses of places, creatures and things beyond their wildest imagination, and the understanding that the power to conjure them will always be within them, if they know how to reach out for it.

Friday, 6 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

F is for Flagellan


No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d8)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1 hp
Attacks: 1 (stinger)
Damage: 1d4
Save: F1
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: None
XP: 8

Native to the unfathomable depths of the great lakes, Flagellans are marine creatures akin to jellyfish. Their bodies consist of a transparant semipermeable membrane, filled with fluid, by which they regulate the depth and speed of their swimming. Attached to four side of the body are long, lash-like appendages used for stinging and paralyzing their prey. Flagellans normally only hunt fish and absorb them into their bodies for sustenance, but when provoked or swimming in large schools they have been known to attack larger creatures, and even swimming humans. Their poison is quite damaging even to the latter. After a successful attack by a Flagellan its victim must make a saving throw vs paralyze, failure indicating the target is paralyzed for 1d4 turns. This will cause the target to start sinking to the bottom of the lake and drown, unless any (magickal) precautions have been taken to prevent this. Once a sufficiently large number of prey are disabled (2 to 3 humanoids for a large school of Flagellans) or the intruders are chased away from the creatures' breeding grounds, the Flagellans will break off their attack and feast on those they have incapacitated.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

E is for Entomancy

Entomancy can take on various different forms and meanings, depending on the rites the practitioner performs. Mainly it refers to a specific tradition of augury, in which the soothsayer reaches his divinations through the interpretation of the swarming patterns and behavior of insects and arachnids. As these tiniest of creatures are spread across all corners of the realm, even those areas nearly uninhabitable otherwise, and can bury and crawl there unhindered, entomancers believe that only through the communion with the collective hive mind of all insectkind one can reach true foretelling. Another branch of entomancy occupies itself with the study of magick which allows the summoning and commanding of huge swarms of insects or arachnids. This art in particular is popular with magickally-versed adventurers, both for defensive as offensive purposes, following the ancient adage of 'strength in numbers'.

A third meaning is attributed to a darker form of entomancy, practiced by some fringe cults and lone wizards. Through worship of the nameless gods which are said to nest deep in the bowels of the earth, or the dread deities in the Abyss beyond the stars, some entomancers gain the knowledge to summon huge insectoid monstrosities, many times their normal size and power. Some even possess the ability to take on the form of one of these creatures, or to turn their flesh into a swarming mass of bugs and crawlers for extended periods of time. Rumour has it that to be granted this divine favour, the caster has to prepare multiple blood sacrifices to his alien lords, which is why this form of entomancy is seldom tolerated by established magickal circles.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

D is for Dracolyte


No. Enc.: 1 (1d8)
Alignment: Any
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 2 (2 claws or weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or weapon
Save: F4
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: XII
XP: 460

Dragons are usually sought out for the fabulous riches they amass in their lairs, but not all their wealth comes in the form of gold or precious stones. On occasion some daring adventurers try to subdue one of these mighty wyrms, not to claim its possessions nor to slay the beast, but to learn the ancient secrets of the world and of eternal youth, which these creatures have learned during the long centuries and millennia of their immortal lives. Needless to say, few of them ever gain any valuable insights, as the cunning, age-old dragons do not take kindly to being coerced.

More successful are those, who instead offer a dragon their body, mind and life in service, in return for but a glimpse of the vast stores of knowledge the dragon has acquired. If the dragon deems them useful enough, he will accept the supplicant as one of his thralls. By ingesting a small portion of the dragon’s blood, a profound physical and mental transformation takes place. It creates a telepathic link between dragon and servitor, allowing two-way communication even far removed, as well as allowing the dragon to take over the body of the thrall completely if he so wishes. The skin of the dracolyte changes into a leathery epidermis, the bodily changes granting both improved endurance as well as an unnaturally long lifespan. Some of these changelings undergo even greater alterations (1d6: 1. Draconic head: can breath fire three times a day, 10’ cone dealing 3d6 damage; 2. Draconic wings: can fly 120’ (40’); 3. Draconic talons: deal 2d4 damage; 4. Draconic scales: AC of 0; 5. Draconic tail: gain third attack per round dealing 1d6 damage; 6. roll twice.)

In return for learning snippets of the dragon’s wisdom (a long process, as the wary dragons keep their most prized secrets to themselves), the thrall agrees to act as the eyes and ears of the dragon or his representative, in places where the dragon’s presence would be impossible. Due to their aberrant forms, the dracolyte usually travels in disguise, and rarely socializes but with others of his kind in his master’s lair.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

C is for Centaurian


No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 80

Though the usual offspring of two centaurs consists of more centaurs, approximately one in a dozen of these births result in a different creature, called centaurians. Unlike the centaurs whom beget them, centaurians are bipedal, and considerably more animalistic in both form and conduct. Centaurians have the body of a man, but stand firm on the legs and hindquarters of a horse, as well as having an equine head, because of which they lack the ability of articulated speech. Unlike a normal horse ,these creatures have a voracious appetite for flesh.

Centaurians are shunned from centaur society, which in itself is hardly civilized. As centaurians can not bear living offspring, are aggressive and malicious, the birth of one is considered a bad omen. Some centaur herds kill these newborns immediately to ward of such misfortune; others clans dare not touch the creatures, for fear of being jinxed by their dark gods, as some centaur shamans claim centaurians are the demonic brood of Asval the Night Mare.
Among these latter groups it is then not unusual to have a small band of centaurians following in their wake, in the case of migratory herds, or living in close proximity of the herd if the centaurs are sedentary forest dwellers. Centaurians themselves always live in small teams, and are known to harass unwary travellers, playing devious cat-and-mouse games before eventually slaughtering those who have fallen into their hands.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

B is for Behebot


No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful, Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 2 or 1 (1 fist, 1 stomp, or weapon)
Damage: 1d6+1/1d6+1 or 5d6
Save: F10
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 2,060

While groups of roaming Killbots are oft cited as the most dangerous Robotiks an adventurer can encounter, even these pale in comparison to the mighty Behebot. Standing 70 to 100 feet tall, these solitary engines of destruction can lay waste to huge swaths of the countryside before a large enough force can be mustered to end their dreadful rampage. Behebots vary greatly in outwardly appearance, though all of them vaguely resemble humanoids in general build. It must be noted that not all of them seem solely focused on causing mayhem and destruction however, and some Behebots prefer to live peacefully in the seclusion of large forests or mountain ranges.

Behebots are able to produce a powerful attack using an energy ray produced from their eyes, creating a beam 5’ wide and 100’ long. Anyone caught in the area of the attack may save vs breath attacks. Success indicates only half of the normal hit point damage is done. Behebots will try to use the energy ray as their first attack when they enter combat. The ray needs to recharge for 3 rounds before it can be fired again; during this time the Robotik will try to stomp or hit its assailants instead.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A-Z Blogging challenge

A is for the Archivarium

Part of the renowned Universitas Magicka, the Archivarium is the Empire’s foremost library and center of study for the magickal arts. Located in the old town district of the new Empire’s capitol city, Forge, the Archivarium is an architectural marvel of graceful archways, beautiful stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings and a platinum-plated dome that towers over much of the city. The building, maintained by the steep enrolment fees would-be magick-users must needs pay the university for such a privilege, is divided into four distinct areas, access to which becomes progressively more restricted as one approaches the innermost chambers of the Archivarium.

Entering from Fountains’ Square, one must first pass through one of two sets of heavy, dark oaken doors, magnificently decorated with the carved figures of prominent scholars and magick-users from the Empire’s past, as well as a slew of bizarre mythological creatures. Continuing through a series of small antechambers, one emerges into a very large, open room, spanning the width of the building, called the Vestibulum. On the tiled steps here the intellectuals of the city meet daily to ostentatiously discuss politics, the arts and philosophy, as well as more understatedly display their education and wealth. Though officially open to all citizens, beggars and those not belonging to at least the middle class (the two usually considered one and the same by the more affluent), are pressed a copper in their hand and gently but firmly escorted back out.

Directly giving out on the Vestibulum is the Librarium, where the world’s largest collection of scrolls and tomes await the curious and oft times not-so-curious students. The collection deals solely with mundane topics and once again is officially open to all, the requisite ability to read already an insurmountable hurdle for most.

Through a set of small, green bronze double doors at the end of the Librarium one enters into a mirror copy of the previous rooms, called the Praxicum. Here the shelves and book cases are stocked with treatises on magick, scrolls scribbled with arcane runes and spell tomes dealing with the applied manipulation of the Aether. Access to this part of the library is allowed only to apprentices at the university. On arrival, a scribe seated at the entrance of the Praxicum will peruse a large ledger, the Matriculate Magickalis, to determine whether the supplicant has indeed enrolled at the university at some point in the past.

From the center of the Praxicum an ornamental, stone spiral staircase descends to the lower level of the Archivarium, the Ulteria. Entrance to this part of the complex is admitted only to members of the Roughspun Order and, by rare exception, their petitioners. Apart from the accommodations of the Order, the Ulteria more importantly houses several rooms filled with arcane tomes which have been deemed too dangerous to be consulted by mortal practitioners of the magickal arts; and scrolls of extradimensional origin which, if read, would simply render the reader insane with their eldritch knowledge. To safeguard these volumes, the Universitas Magicka instituted the Roughspun Order, so called for their humble dress, a group of blind monks of extreme mental discipline, always numbering six. Indeed, the members of the Order are regarded so highly in scholarly circles, that when word of the death of one of them surfaces, overzealous applicants have been known to purposely blind themselves to be considered for the honor.

While the secrets of the Ulteria are not meant for mortal eyes, in certain rare conditions - more often than not coinciding with unusually generous donations to the university - a petitioner is allowed inside, to consult a tome of his or her choosing. Blindfolded this person is led to a small study, furnished only with a simple chair and table. The desired book is pthen laced in front of him or her by one of the monks, the risks of opening the book once more stated, and finally the blindfold is removed. Oft-requested is a volume called the Tome of Ephemeral Sagaciousness, which is rumoured to have been at the source of the large fortunes of several merchant families of Forge, and the steady influx of patients at the Asylum, as only seldom people prove prepared for omniscience, no matter how brief.