Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brain-Case Contents (Random Table/Cthulhoid Games)

"You see there are four different sorts of beings presented in those cylinders up there. Three humans, six fungoid beings who can’t navigate space corporeally, two beings from Neptune (God! if you could see the body this type has on its own planet!), and the rest entities from the central caverns of an especially interesting dark star beyond the galaxy."
H.P. Lovecraft,

Whose Brain Is In the Brain-Case? (D30)
  1. The brain contained inside this case is in fact a hyperfolded trapezohedron that serves as the locus for a type of meta-temporal consciousness that does not recognize your silly monkey-babble as anything even remotely approaching language. It only communicates by way of high-order mathematics. The interface unit is damaged. Maybe it can be repaired. If you're lucky, you might get to ask it 1d4 questions before the unit fries once and for all.
  2. A singularly Terrible Old Man by nature reserved, an ancient sea-captain who has witnessed scores of things much beyond anything he knew or could describe from the far-off days of his unremembered youth. Once he had the spell-casting capabilities of a 12th level magic-user, now he barely remembers how to cast Summon Spectral Servitors.
  3. The sole survivor of an undocumented, clandestine expedition to a poorly documented location in Antarctica from which disturbing reports had been received through mysterious sources. This mission was part of Operation High Jump under the command of Admiral Byrd. This poor sap still thinks it's 1947...
  4. A Philosophic Mold infests the interior of this brain-case. It is deep in contemplation and does not wish to be disturbed.
  5. This is the slightly atrophied brain of a somber child who spent most of their time pondering over curious tomes and outre manuscripts that they discovered in their families' manse. The poor child desperately wants to go for a walk through the green woods of their ancestral estates and will break down into telepathically projected sobs after 1d4 minutes of being awakened.
  6. A dolphin's brain. It likes to tell dirty jokes and download porn, but hasn't had access to the outside for close to three hundred years.
  7. Over six hundred years old and as spiteful and vengeance-obsessed as any droog out on a Saturday night, Charles spent a great deal of time imprisoned within his ancestral crypts before being 'liberated' by the descendant of one of his former rivals. The descendant sold Charles's brain to the Mi-Go for approximately the price of a chicken, just to add insult to injury. He can only remain coherent if he makes a Save during each interaction--he is REALLY easy to set-off. Charles is a 14th level magic-user and has a great deal of expertise in alchemy, including the knowledge of how to create an elixir that can prolong life...at the cost of one's sanity and possibly soul.
  8. A tremendously compressed mass of fungal-based synaptic tissues fills this brain-case near to bursting. The incredible pressures exerted upon it for over several thousands of years have rendered the frenetically writhing fungi-brain nearly insensate. Mishandling this brain-case has a base 40% chance to cause the seals to rupture, spraying a concentrated cloud of fungal matter and spores across a 60' radius. It is not at all unlike Yellow Mold...
  9. This brain-case contains a wretched excuse for a brain extracted from a deranged cave-man abducted from a prototype-colony whose records have all been lost. This psychopath was used to drive/command a war-machine. That's about all they're really good for, unless you can somehow re-educate them.
  10. This red-sealed canister contains the surgically remediated criminal cerebral cortex of a fungal being whose species attempted to oppose and resist their integration into the Mi-Go collective. This being is telepathic, and hell-bent on taking revenge upon the Mi-Go...even if it means allying itself with mammals or worse.
  11. Cold, hard, black and almost beetle-like in its armored shell, this Tcho-Tchoid brain patiently sleeps. 
  12. This brain shows signs of having been exposed to intense heat, but was recovered and fitted with fungal synaptic plugs and bundles enabling it to remain somewhat functional. Unfortunately, the mind of this person remains severely damaged and they seem to be suffering from the delusion that they might in fact be descended from some sort of human-ape cross-breeding effort on the part of one of their close ancestors.There is no evidence to support this theory, but likewise, until someone tests the genetics (assuming a clean non-fungally-contaminated sample can be taken), there is also no way to refute the claim either. The curiosity-value of this brain might make it a good candidate for possible auctioning off at a star-port.
  13. This brain-case contains a fine grayish and granular salt-like powder. The prisoner finally remembered how to reduce someone to their essential saltes.
  14. The brain inside this case is that of an unknown and forgotten Greek philosopher from around the 2nd Century B.C. The interface module is only partly able to translate their continual mumbling. They are always referring to a strange green meadow no one else has ever seen or heard of before.
  15. This cannister contains a potent dreamer whose brain is now semi-translucent and no longer entirely real or material. A strange light seems to shimmer through the gellid mass, as though it were somehow being lit from within. They remain unresponsive, caught-up in their great dreaming.
  16. A collection of interpenetrating cubes of some strange metallic substance veined with tiny hair-like threads of silvery material that throb slightly. This thing was an explorer of strange new worlds until it ran afoul of the Mi-Go who were engaging in stripping away the upper atmosphere of the gas giant this being had only just discovered and claimed for their people.
  17. The lumpy, oyster-like mass inside this canister emits a bizarre, idiotic piping or whistling noise. If they are allowed to continue for more than 5 minutes at a stretch, treat it as a form of Summon Monster spell.
  18. There is a small monolith ensconced within this brain-case. It is slick, glossy and featureless.
  19. A cat's brain plugged into a series of harsh-looking electrodes. It is hungry, but has no mouth with which to eat.
  20. The undead brain of a ghoul wizard who is patiently biding his time.
  21. This brain-case holds the flabby brain of a Deep One, but unless one possesses some sort of special means to identify it as such, it appears pretty much like any other slightly degenerate humanoid brain-matter.
  22. A calm, cool and collected individual has found himself in something of a predicament vis a vis his brain has been extracted and placed within a machine that keeps it alive and apparently is intended to make use of it for some purpose that remains unexplained so far. He would very much like to return to his ship but has serious reservations about the ability of the medical staff onboard to be able to do much to help him reintegrate with his former body. This being is eminently reasonable and quite logical. Perhaps some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement might be arranged?
  23. The occupant of this cylinder is disoriented and communicates with a thick hill-folk accent. They complain of a hot needle sticking into their brain and are remarkably unhelpful to anyone attempting to help them or to release them.
  24. This brain seems to be that of a strangely modified pig. It is very intelligent, but not at all troubled with human concepts of morality or much of anything else. It is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and is very skilled in the manipulation and command of various surrogate constructs.
  25. A naughty Mi-Go has had their brain safely tucked away into this canister so it would no longer pollute the gene-pool with its deviant genes and alien, almost atavistic ways.
  26. The brain of an ape has been plugged into this cylinder. It claims to have been a general. No one believes it.
  27. Throbbing and squirming even as you watch, this brain is clearly something more than just a lump of thinking matter. A clear greenish fluid surrounds it and it is not alive according to any sensor or spell. If released, this reanimated brain will do everything it can to acquire a fresh body and to resume its ground-breaking work in medical science.
  28. This canister was damaged, the seals are broken and the fluid has leaked out, leaving behind a dessicated brain that might be recoverable as a sort of mummified thing.
  29. This cylinder houses the damaged brain of a K'n-man; healing this brain will allow them to use their psychic abilities to regenerate a new body or to attempt to dominate one of the weaker-willed members of whatever group attempts to release or communicate with her. This being has serious ambitions that remain completely undimmed by their captivity and even though their world has undoubtedly been destroyed (there were at least a dozen of the hollow orb arks sent out from Vhoorl containing K'n-men...).
  30. A Polypous Mass. Unfortunately it is a sample from the core brain-stem of a Polypous Invasion Mass...

Source: H. P. Lovecraft's classic short story from 1930, The Whisperer in Darkness is the obvious well-spring of dark inspiration for this particular table, but it owes as much to the odd group-collaboration 'The Challenge From Beyond.' One could easily expand upon this table by taking a look at 'The Horror at Red Hook,' which features quite a procession of horrors to draw upon, and possibly even Lovecraft's 'Through the Gates of the Silver Key,' and any number of his other tales...and then you could start looking at Clark Ashton Smith, etc. and really pile-on the disembodied brains. This table is dedicated to Albert R., creator of Terminal Space, who brought up the matter of what might be in some of those other Brain Cases when we were outlining our 'The Great Brain Case Escape' Adventure.

Philosophic Mold

Philosophic Mold
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral (30%), Chaotic (70%)
Movement: 30' (10')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d6 or by spell
Save: MU7
Morale: 10

Voiceless, shapeless, morally ambiguous masses of sentient mold who crawl speculatively across the mangled and congealed crusts of dismal moons and dimly lit worlds beyond the ken of most mortals; these beings know many secrets gained through their ponderous circumambulations and meditative cogitations upon the most abstruse esoteric theorems and conjectures. Philosophic Molds project their strange psyches across immeasurable gulfs of space and time in order to observe, to learn, and to gain access to many spells and much bizarre knowledge that they hoard unto themselves.

Spell Casters
Philosophic Molds are skilled spell casters who tend to acquire extensive repertoires of exotic and peculiar spells that they can cast without the use of any vocal or material components. In a sense they are indeed highly psychic, but all their psychical abilities are channeled into their magical practice and are intrinsically bound-up with their use of spells, which they perform tactilely and through a sort of interpretive dance or manipulation of their internal structure and posture. However they manage it, their techniques are both subtle and nigh unto impossible for anyone with bones to emulate or imitate. They do not use spell books nor scrolls, nor can they read such things. Each Philosophic Mold colony acts as its own repository of spells and sorcerous energies. They never forget a spell once they've learned it and they are talented at reinterpreting spells so as to make them work more effectively for their alien physiologies and unique non-visual/non-vocal approach to magic.

Brain Tasters
These beings are known to devour the brains of sentient creatures and will bargain for fresh brains with various suppliers of such comestibles, even trafficking with certain Goules and other singularly unpleasant beings to acquire these morsels. It has not been verified, but it is believed by many that the Philosophic Molds seek to consume the brains of sentient beings in order to enhance their own mental processes or possibly to absorb the memories (and possibly any memorized spells or esoteric knowledge) that the victim may have possessed.

World Wasters
Being blind and speechless beings, the Philosophic Molds do not share very many of the values of humanoid societies. They do not bother to clean up anything, ever. Nothing is allowed to interfere with their on-going meditations, ruminations and studies. They ignore the physical conditions that surround them, for the most part, and focus exclusively upon the non-physical, the immaterial and the hidden wisdom of the polyverse. No world or moon that these beings have occupied for very long remains livable for other species. The Philosophic Molds tend to spread hundreds of lesser spores everywhere they slither, crawl or wriggle until they are surrounded by vast, maze-like 'gardens' of myriads of varieties of mold.

Mind Masters
It is exceptionally dangerous to engage in any sort of psychic dialogue with the Philosophic Molds as they are prone to attempt to swap consciousness with anyone who makes contact with them. While they in fact do know many secrets and powerful spells, getting them to exchange or trade any of these things is a frightful undertaking best left to the most seasoned and well-defended of spell-casters. Many of the most significant methods of working magic known to humanoids such as using symbols, glyphs, runes, etc. are useless to these beings, as is anything requiring the application of a voice. They do, however, manipulate physical objects easily and can make use of wands, rings, and many other such magical items...though prolonged contact with their bodies often cause such things to decay and eventually break down or dissolve.

Xenotherm (Rogue Space)


Xenotherm

Challenge: +2
Type: Unknown
Size: Really Big (typically 10-12' diameter with a blast radius of 20')
Movement: Flies 30' (rarely in a hurry)
Armor: V/L (Treat as V vs kinetic weapons, bullets, etc. and L vs electromagnetic, ionic and energy weapons) 
Damage: V (Heavy: roll 2d6, use highest die: affects 10'/20'/30' radius as determined by creature)
Hit Points: X (1d6+2)

Special: Recovers hit points from breaking down atomic bonds of solid matter at a rate of 1 point recovered for every 30 points of damage it inflicts upon the landscape or structure.

Notorious hazards of the Scarlet Wastes of Nitochron II, the Xenotherms are best avoided whenever possible. Unfortunately for anyone stuck traveling the gritty wasteland that encompasses more than two-thirds of this planet's scorched and blasted surface, the Xenotherms are all over the place.

Originally denizens of another continuum entirely, the Xenotherms were drawn to this pitted and radically irradiated world by a bizarre alien artifact referred to as simply 'the furnace.' Some lonely old mostly-plastic prospector discovered a peculiar black device out in the deep dunes and brought it back into the ramshackle company-town surrounding what passes for a spaceport on this world. Somehow the mechanism was awakened or triggered and now there is a seething black volcano several miles high standing right where the spaceport used to be.

The towering volcano is still growing and there are more and more Xenotherms prowling the planet's surface every few days. Something sinister is going on, but so far no one can agree on just what it might be...

Several different groups have dispatched various agents and teams to Nitochron II in order to 'study' the Xenotherms. Most of them have been spotted bringing in a wide range of military-grade weapons systems and cutting edge experimental mechanisms of unknown design or function...


Monday, January 30, 2012

Fallen Squamoids [Terminal Space]

Fallen Squamoids
(Blighted Barbaric Serpent People)
Number Appearing: 1-12 (3d12)
Hit Dice: 6+
Armor Class5 [14]
Attacks: 2 (Weapon, Bite or tail-sweep)
Move: 8
Save: 13
HDE/XP: 5/400
Special: Tail-Sweep has base 30% chance to trip bipeds (Save or fall)

The Fallen Squamoids are the sad, last remnants of those serpent people enclaves that have reverted to barbarism in the aftermath of having been infected by virulent forms of fungi that have entirely infiltrated their bodies, genes and minds.

Any successful hit on a fallen Squamoid with an edged weapon will result in a blood spatter with a 10' radius. Anyone caught within the spatter must roll a save or become infected with a variant form of cordyceptrian fungi that will inflict 1d4 damage every turn until removed/sterilized or until it reduces the new host to 0 hit points, at which time they become a living fungal host under the control and direction of a fresh new colony of the cordyceptrian fungal (re-roll INT, WIS, reduce CHAR by 1d6).

One in Six Fallen Squamoids are Mycologically Mutated and have the following statistics:

Mycologically Mutated Squamoids
Number Appearing: 1
Hit Dice: 12
Armor Class: 4[15]
Attacks: 2 (Spew and Weapon)
Move: 6
Save: 7
HDE/XP:  12/2,000

Special: Spew attack covers a cone 3' at origin and extending out to a range of 60' with a width of 30' across. It has the same basic effect of the lesser Squamoids' blood spatter: Anyone caught within the spatter must roll a save or become infected with a variant form of cordyceptrian fungi that will inflict 1d4 damage every turn until removed/sterilized or until it reduces the new host to 0 hit points, at which time they become a living fungal host under the control and direction of a fresh new colony of the cordyceptrian fungal (re-roll INT, WIS, reduce CHAR by 1d6).

Larger, more bloated-looking and almost half-melted in appearance, the Mycologically Mutated Squamoids are massive, walking fungi-colonies that only have a vague, passing resemblance to the serpentine humanoids who once were their hosts. They lumber about the battlefield spewing massive gouts of fungally-infected ichor that linger as miasmic clouds for 2d4 minutes, and often form small pools of virulent foullness that can persist for up to 1d4 days afterwards.

It is a good thing that there are not very many of these horrid things within the ranks of the Fallen Squamoids, but then all that is required is just a little time for another one to mature into one of these hulking beasts...

The Labyrinth Lord version of these infected ophidians is slightly different...




Interstitial Insectoid

Interstitial Insectoid


No. App.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (Passwall/Planeshift ability)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1d6+1 (tentacle-stings) or Special
Damage: 120' in any direction
Save: MU8
Morale: 8


Special: Touch can Dispel Magic up to 4/times per day at will. Gaze causes Confusion (treat as eye-beam 90' range, 30' wide). They can opt to radiate a Dissonance Effect within a 30' radius up to 3/times per day. They either have 1d4 minor and 1d4 major Psychic Powers or spell-casting capability commensurate with their Hit Dice.

Transplanar scavengers of dead worlds and ruined places throughout the Polyverse, the Interstitial Insectoids' name for themselves is unknown to any scholar, save perhaps for Gnosiomandus in Wermspittle. But his unconventional attitudes make his assertions more than a little suspect.

But this is not about a cranky old scholastically transgressive authority. It is about twelve-foot-tall coeleopteric cyclopes who migrate across incredibly vast, even mind-blasting distances in order to feed upon and integrate the relict knowledge, psychographical impressions, and other such debris of destroyed, defunct and otherwise dead cultures, societies and civilizations.

Dissonance Effect
In the space of 1d6 minutes a field of distorted Poly-plenal feedback forms around the Interstitial Insectoid, temporarily making its location within the Polyverse ambiguous and overlapping with 1d100 other planes simultaneously. This effect is modulated by the creature to cause all magic items and especially weapons within the area of effect to make a Save or go inert for 1d4 hours. At the end of this period of forced inactivity the item must make another Save or be cut-off from its previous power-source and connected into some other transplanar source of empowerment.

Especially ancient Interstitial Insectoids have been known to adapt this Dissonance Effect for a wide variety of other, more specialized applications, and it is surmised that this ability is directly connected to their innate  Passwall and Planeshift capabilities.

Hungry Minds
The Interstitial Insectoids subsist upon ectoplasm, psychoplasm, vital energies drawn from across nearly all the known spectra, and can absorb/digest nearly all forms of magic. They are voracious readers and their entire species seems to be gripped with a mass-obsession with regards to transplanar archaeology.

An Interstitial Insectoid can opt to devour any spell-book, scroll, incised tablet, or similar object containing stored magical, psychic or other energies. They recover hit points and regenerate damage from consuming these sources of informative nutrition at a base rate of 1d4 hit points gained for every level of spell consumed. The end result is similar to a high-powered Erase spell for the item affected. Yes, they can also consume prepared spells directly from the mind/brain of a living victim, if that becomes necessary. The victim gets a Save, and if they fail, they take as much damage as the Insectoid regains...or the victim could voluntarily allow the creature to eat the spell, which only inflicts half damage.

Scholarly Types
There are specialists among these beings who delve all that much more deeply into various forbidden, forgotten or nearly obliterated fields of research, study and knowledge. All Interstitial Insectoids have (1d4) areas of academic inquiry. We recommend using the excellent Random Academic Field Generator at Chaotic Shiny to come up with a few good ideas.

Polyglots & Pantomimes
Interstitial Insectoids can read thousands of obscure, esoteric and lost languages, but they cannot speak any of them. For a suitable price, there are those among these creatures who will produce a written record of their translation of some scroll, inscription, book, or whatever, but they are notoriously slow and very, very expensive, and that's only if you know how to locate one or can get an audience or appointment with them to even discuss the possibility of hiring them.

Since they are incapable of speech, something many other scholars are indeed quite grateful for, the Interstitial Insectoids tend to make use of a combination of body language and telepathy. Even after the minimum four years of intense study required of fledgling interpreters, only 30% of whatever these creatures attempt to convey makes it across to the recipient, unless the interpreter is particularly diligent or exceptionally skilled, at which point they can add-on their personal modifier to the process (granting a bonus of 10%/per level of Interpreter).

Strange Patrons
Interstitial Insectoids have long made a practice of hiring groups of adventurers drawn from other species to go and investigate various arcane rumors, esoteric allegations, ancient ruins and what-not. To the casual observer, it might appear a bit odd that there are no less than three Interpreters acting on behalf of these beings currently active in Wermspittle...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jalamere 1


We're going to make use of Rob Conley's excellent How To Make a Fantasy Sandbox checklist and several of Telecanter's equally useful and inspiring posts such as his matching couplet on Simple Sandbox Design (Part I, Part II) and especially his Sandbox Pinch Points article in developing our OD&D/S&W setting of Jalamere. We'll also be referring to Mr. Conley's very handy series of articles on A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail (Starting with Part One) in the course of building our maps and suchlike for Jalamere, at least where his advice and guidance applies.


You see, Jalamere isn't a standard planet. It's intended to be a Fantasy Setting, not a simulation of some world derived from late Seventies science-fiction. We're thinking more along the lines of Tanith Lee's Flat Earth Cycle and Clark Ashton Smith's The Abominations of Yondo. In short, we aim to have a rim or edge that you can fall off of. Literally.


Like so.


It's a beginning. We'll start going down the checklist and making changes and adjustments as we go and then once we have something we're happy with, we'll slap down a better hex-grid with numbering on the thing. Then we begin Keying and Stocking the thing. Should be fun.

"I think like much of old school philosophy the secret to success lies in how we utilize randomness to our advantage but without fetishizing it. So maybe, as long as using some randomness lets me loosen up and actually create a world without needing to know every single detail in advance, that's a good thing. But it also doesn't mean I have to go completely random, with things falling onto the map without rhyme or reason."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Extraordinary & Singular Phenomena I (Scenario Seeds)

Extraordinary & Singular Phenomena:
Table I (d20)

  1. Something with a nucleus, at each end of which is a tail or tail-like tapering structure of some indeterminate kind, has been floating about the local orchards, scaring the day-lights out of the locals. So far it has not harmed anything, but it won't be very long before some bright lad decides to go poke it with a sharp stick or something. It may not be a living creature at all. But what is it?
  2. Such tracks in the snow as had never before been heard of, 'clawed footmarks' or 'an unclassifiable form' that seem to alternate across very large but regular intervals with what seemed to be the impression of the point of a stick of some sort, perhaps a cane. All of these tracks are in a single continuous line. The tracks cover an amazing expanse of territory filled with numerous obstacles, such as hedges, walls, houses (the tracks go right over the roof!), and the like, all of which seem to have been absolutely no hindrance to the thing making these tracks at all. The tracks can be followed by huntsmen and hounds, until they had come to a forest—from which the hounds will retreat, baying and terrified, so that none of the hunters and dog-handlers have dared to enter the forest. Do you dare to find out what made all those tracks?
  3. Bizarre blue-white crystalline fibers have fallen from the sky on a perfectly clear day. Everything they have come into contact with has begun to slowly turn transparent. The effect seems to stop then slowly reverse itself if the fibers are removed. No one knows where the stuff came from, but a lot of enterprising 'experts' have stepped-up to make wild claims about this new miracle material. There are signs of someone having begun to really make a serious effort at harvesting/collecting this stuff.
  4. The corpse of a one-legged kangaroo shod with one horse shoe washes ashore in a near-by fishing village.
  5. Strange marks, another sort of foot-print or track very similar to a solitary colt's hoof...only with a faint trace of claws...each spaced almost exactly 8 inches apart and dotting the entire countryside surrounding several villages located within a few miles of one another. No one saw or heard anything. It probably was not a cranky badger or flock of confused geese.
  6. A rain of 'variously shaped organic matter' resembling nothing so much as a shower of blood. But it is not blood. Nor is it red dust, sand or powdered gelatin. But it is organic, perhaps some sort of 'vegetable cells.' And this strange sky-matter does seem to grow when left unattended. But only when no one is observing it.
  7. Gelatinous cloud-scale sacs of organic goo float far above the surface of the world. They are filled with a sulfurous pseudo-amniotic fluid that supports an autonomous and enclosed ecosystem teeming with various forms of life unique to this peculiar free-floating region. The density within the gelatinous cloud-sacs is so intense that things that fall from them, and thus entering the thinner atmosphere that surround these bizarre aerial bio-masses tend to explode, scattering bits and chunks of unrecognizable flesh and blood across the countryside. Some of these things might be construed as having a cigar-shape, or perhaps resembling super-zeppelins, but others are more like flattened disks or wobbly potatoes. Some of them exhibit strange eerie lights from time to time, but no one knows just what that is all about.
  8. Six false 'suns' have been reported out in a stretch of desolate desert. The 'suns' leave behind a thick trail of frost and ice in their wake. The local tribes have take this as a very bad sign and several of them are making preparations to leave. Of course their idea of how to leave their ancestral homeland involves burning, looting and killing their way across the more settled regions bordering on this place until they either come to a new wilderness to claim as theirs, or they manage to drive off the settlers and take over their farmsteads and river towns. The settlers prefer to not go along with this particular plan and are in the process of acquiring some professional help in possibly deterring the tribes' warriors from coming their way. Of course, none of the villages, hamlets or isolated farmsteads are cooperating together, so this defense effort is piece-meal and on a case-by-case basis. A bit of leadership, backed up with a few hundred well-armed troops could make all the difference, were they to make themselves available.
  9. Explosive hailstones have leveled a small settlement near here. The local authorities suspect sorcery. The survivors have already stoned or murdered three unfortunate individuals whom they blamed for the hailstorm, but residual hailstones have fallen off and on after each 'civic-minded execution' so things are getting desperate. These folks sure could use some guidance, a calming influence, doughty investigators into abnormalities most profound, or some self-serving sleaze-bags to come take advantage of their situation with fake claims, phony evidence and expensive non-solutions.
  10. Huge flakes of flesh-like matter have fallen upon a region of farmland that was abandoned after the last border skirmish with a rival barony. There just weren't enough farmers who ever returned from the disastrous war to make a go of it and so the area was forsaken. The strange flaky-bits of flesh-stuff seem to be wriggling in slow-motion, as though stunned or too cold to move freely. If provided a source of warmth, the bits coagulate and aggregate into what could be construed as limbs or parts of vaguely human bodies. Actually touching the material causes it to bond to the toucher's own flesh where it slowly assimilates into them and they begin to report feeling odd, experiencing nightmares, and developing peculiar personality quirks.
  11. A huge ball of green fire has been spotted rolling along just a couple of feet from the still surface of a local river. The fireball moves slowly, as though actually rolling along and is only ever spotted at night and only ever at one specific spot along this river.
  12. Enormous, round things have risen from the depths of a near-by lake, loch or inlet. They appear to have a warty and irregular surface, encrusted with muck, weeds and possibly small bivalves or even barnacles. Some witnesses claim that the things gave them the distinct impression of being more like constructed things than natural things.
  13. Frogs. Blue frogs speckled with dark, brownish knob-like encrustations all over their backs and very un-froglike talons have fallen all over the country-side. The local Lords would very much like to know why, where these things have come from, and what exactly should be done about them.
  14. A meteorite struck a section of river bank just last night. Those who have already gone to take a look have come running back with tales of hundreds if not thousands of dead fish scattered all around the crater gouged into the muddy ground. All of the fish described are distinctly and most definitely not indigenous species. Some may not even be from this world. But did the fishes come from within the meteorite, or from somewhere else?
  15. A dim blue-green luminosity has been reported for three nights in a row over a small hamlet. It seems to be drifting in the night sky, but no one has reliably spotted it during the day-time. There are claims that this might be a super-geographical lake. Perhaps it is filled with fish after a sort. The luminosity could be some effect of the fish within the hovering body of water, or perhaps it is caused by some reflection of the moonlight. In any case, quite a few people are concerned as to what this might all mean and there are those who see an opportunity here for anyone bold enough to seize the day and lay claim to this aerial lake. In fact, the various rivals seeking to launch their own expedition to this possibly spurious body of water have been getting in each other's way and tempers have begun to flare. It is something of a race, an armed and dangerous race, to lay claim to a lake that might not even really be there.
  16. A large disk of some peculiar greenish quartz-like stone fell from the night sky (1d4) days ago. Several different groups have sent people to investigate. Some of those looking for this thing are not from around these parts.
  17. A flock of migratory birds was recently torn to bits in a violent wind that cast their remains all across the streets of a prosperous township on the verge of war with a rival city-state across the sea. There are dark mutterings of this having been some sort of omen. A small group of innovative craftsmen just outside of town have been working on a prototype dirigible within a converted old barn. (It was seriously expanded by some tents and a few small illusions as well as the help of a bemused dryad who raised a dense hedge about the place.) Now is a very bad time to attempt to launch the airship according to some, but the rest of the group wants to pack up their belongings and use the airship to leave both the bickering city-state and harbor town behind and go look for a fresh beginning somewhere else.
  18. A set of eight bright lights have swarmed around the high hills surrounding a sleepy village otherwise known only for three kinds of stinky cheese. The lights change color, move as though coordinated, and have appeared on several different occasions.
  19. A 'false moon' followed by a train of (2d6) smaller 'moon-like' objects was spotted moving in a Southerly direction away from the site of some cyclopean ruins alleged to have been built by some particularly antagonistic prehuman species. A quick scouting trip to the area described returned with disturbing reports of toppled and uprooted trees, scorched sections of ground, and strange shapes lurking out past the range of the scout's torches and lanterns. A very strange bit of business that someone needs to go and set to rights immediately, before there is any more of a panic than there is already.
  20. A strange luminous body, described as being like a wine-sack balanced atop a peculiar tail—has been seen in the local swamps. There is some dispute as to whether the thing has one or four sections and likewise the number of tails switches from four to one, depending on the witness interviewed. The object is described as moving with a deliberate, even majestic sort of levitation-style movement. Over time, as the luminous object moves about, dragging its tail or tails through the muck, the internal structures seem to become increasingly complex, as though it were developing and growing as it moved, sort of after the fashion of a frog's egg, according to one precocious child who claims to have seen one of the things. Whatever the object(s) might be, they seem to disappear after one or two hours.


This set of Scenario Seeds was inspired by The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort, first published in 1919. You can download a copy of The Book of the Damned from Sacred Texts, or from Project Gutenberg.  There's a nifty hyper-text version of TBotD that can be accessed via Resologist's site, if that's more your speed. As an aside, the Complete Works of Charles Fort are available from Sacred Texts...which is also very handy. You might also find our series of Tables of Random Damned Things handy.

You might want to check out the post on Two Books That Should  Be in Every GM's Arsenal over at Old School Heretic, or just go get your hands on either/both of Ken Hites' incredibly useful Suppressed Transmission books to see what a really inspired pro can do with Mr. Fort's material.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gloomshadow (Wermspittle)

Gloomshadow
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral (70%), Chaotic (30%)
Movement: 90' (Hypergeometrical Folding)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3+2
Attacks: 1
Damage: (Special)
Save: F6
Morale: 12

Will 40
Vigor 0

Weird roiling and billowing amorphous creatures that resemble hazy, green-gray smears of non-light, Gloomshadows are sentient forms of immaterial photomorphic pseudolife from beyond the Arch of Lindraxis. These things tend to coruscate and oscillate in response to any observer's movements as though it was aware of those observing them. They encourage and invite psychic contact, that they might communicate with those ignorant of their true natures, so that they might infiltrate the minds of vulnerable meat-animals, that they might make puppets out of those foolish enough to open themselves up to these horrid parasitical creatures.

They forcibly possess victims by a form of invasive telepathic insinuation that resembles a sapient sword's attempt to dominate a wielder. A successful Insinuation attempt will result in the Gloomshadow taking over the victim's body. Should the host be reduced to 0 hp or less, the Gloomshadow will withdraw and attempt to possess some other likely-seeming candidate. The dead are of no interest to them.

Gloomshadows move by virtue of folding themselves along various hypergeometrical axes, allowing them to appear anywhere within a 90' radius at will. They are also extremely susceptible to being trapped by magical squares, tetrahedrons, circles and other figures, diagrams and matrices. It is considered a fitting test for fledgling sorcerers to summon forth, trap and bind a low-level Gloomshadow in some societies, schools and cliques. There are hundreds of scrolls, tomes and treatises describing myriads of different experiments, applications, and strategies for working with a Gloomshadow including the creation of special golems, constructs, and other such items. There are those who believe that the Umbra-Blades of the Jaladari consist of bound Gloomshadows, but this has not been proven conclusively by any reliable source.

It is rumored to be possible to bind a Gloomshadow into a small, tightly wound matrix that would allow the wielder to make use of their Hypergeometrical Folding ability, however this is a difficult and very dangerous undertaking--the Gloomshadow is far more prone to fold the would-be user into a fatal position such as deep within a solid object. Despite the risks, this remains a major area of inquiry and experiment...

Most respectable Oneirists and Ectomancers reject any claim of there being a relationship between the Gloomshadows and Gloomswallows, apart from an unfortunate similarity in terms of their respective names. Of course, this does not rule out the possibility of a Gloomshadow-possessed Gloomswallow...a thoroughly disquieting thought indeed...


Scenario Seed: Ghoulish Delight [Wermspittle]

Blood goes bad. It rots. When you slaughter meat for the table, you must drain the blood from the carcass. It's the same with human cadavers. Just ask any Goule. If you know any, that is.

The Goules of Latterkamp are very traditional. They still wear the same blackened leather plague-masks and heavy cloaks that their grandparents wore from before the Air War and the bombing of Janiska or the burning of Neditesh. Goules have long memories, all the better to carry grudges with, or so the saying goes. And there might be some grain of truth to that saying; Goules live long lives below the streets of their chosen refuges, such as in Wermspittle. They have forsaken the bright lands of the Day-Sun and spat upon the silvery mirror of the Moon in order to claim the deep, dark places below. In the old rites it is said that they have scorned the amber and taken up the rough iron. They have sworn the oath of salt, flame and blood and there is no going back for them. They are no longer human, any more than a man who eats a joint of beef is a bull.

Very much alive and vital, the Goules still have appetites and desires. They have ambitions and dreams, such dark and phantasmagorical dreams as intoxicate deranged dreamers and outlaw oneirists who become addicted to the concentrated effluviums and essences that the Goules sometimes make available to those with a predisposition to such things, for a price.

Goules feed upon flesh. Whether it comes from the creaking carts of alley-hunting Gibbet-men, or from licensed butchers or underground abattoirs matters little to them--just so long as the blood is removed.

Questionable Meat
The Goules are most fastidious. Definitely not squeamish, they are certainly quite strict about their dietary requirements. No one who wishes to be able to do business with them (or anyone else) another day will make the mistake or deliberately try to cheat the Goules. Those that err, whether by accident or through stupid greed, are never seen again.

One of the little known and grossly under-appreciated aspects of this fascinating clandestine trade in questionable flesh is what happens to all the blood that must be removed before any of the meat can be sold to the Goules.

In the old days it was generally standard practice to hang the cadavers and carcasses from rafters and let them drain as they hung there aging. When it was suitably drained and properly aged, the meat was then taken down and hauled away to the deep markets. This was a problem for those seeking to deal in this particular specialized trade in many respects, not the least of which was that it took a good bit of time. Time in which the stores of meat might be discovered, especially in the worst part of the winter when roving gangs of butcher's boys would be on the look-out for caches of meat that they could plunder for their masters. In the winter things get harder, more desperate. People tend to ask fewer questions. The butcher boys get a lot more motivated in the performance of their duties. They start to look in places they were steered clear of previously. It's a real bother and a real problem. Bribery carries little influence when people are starving. Threats mean a lot less when whole families disappear in the night and violence can't save the secret caches ear-marked for the Goules, not when things are that grim and the butcher boys are that determined.

Disruptive Insights
Then one winter a flunked apothecary student who had been turned out from his dormitory on account of his extreme laziness and horrid hygiene (and some minor scandal concerning one of his Professor's daughters) was wandering the alleys of Wermspittle just around Solstice-time. He was attacked by a Worm-tongue only to have the creature torn to bits by a family of refugees. Not having any other prospects, he joined the refugees for their impromptu supper. In short order he was initiated into the clan and taught the ins and outs of procuring, pick-pocketing and a dozen other illicit trades and skills. It seemed that he had found his calling, but then he learned of the underground trade in meat and the troubles that people were having because of the Goule's unreasonable demands. The former student taught them how to use Gore Worms to drain the blood from the carcasses and cadavers.

The blood-bloated worms are then sold off to the legitimate butchers or processed through alchemical baths of various salts, reagents and infusions either bought or otherwise acquired from the Goules, in order to create wine-skins and cigar-wrappers, among other things that have powerful, debilitating hallucinogenic qualities. The desperate dregs of the back alleys and the dabbling dilettantes of the university alike clamor for the sweet release of Ghoulish Delight.

Things That Might Happen Next...
  • The Professor mentioned above is looking for their former student. They are willing to pay an expert to locate the young man. So far they want him brought to them alive, but if their daughter miscarries, then it will be a simple assassination instead of a kidnapping that they will be trying to arrange.
  • The daughter is pregnant, but not with the student's baby, exactly. Part of why he was kicked out was that he was doing experiments with implanting eggs from one species into another. Why he placed an adulterated Gore Worm egg in the one person who really believed in him and actually loved him is a question that she would like to ask him personally.
  • The custodian who used to help supply the students various extracurricular experiments is nervous that the professor might start an investigation and put an end to the custodian's fairly lucrative career. He might hire bullies to jump the Professor, or he might offer to 'help' the daughter to track down her errant miscreant beau...or he might decide to eliminate the student himself, so as not to lose his little side-business.
  • The process that is being used to prepare Ghoulish Delight has been contaminated with a mysterious necrotic taint. One batch has caused a horrid wasting disease in those who've used it. Another batch causes those who use the stuff to transform into actual ghouls. It is unclear if this is the result of tampering by a rival, or some trick being played upon the student by the Goules, or something else entirely.
  • A stash of Ghoulish Delight was dropped down a drain to avoid discovery by parents, teachers or other authority figures. The foul, necromantically-polluted stuff has affected a very large Type IV Gobbling Grout in all the worst possible ways and it may be on the verge of going on a rampage once it gets out of its cellar cess-pit.
  • The Goules of Latterkamp have no interest in being connected to the drug-peddling mischief of the student. They have survived, even prospered below Wermspittle by being unobtrusive and literally beneath notice. The recent series of unfortunate events centered around the Ghoulish Delight side-line that they mistakenly allowed their underlings to get caught up in needs to cease immediately. They intend to make their extreme displease known with all due prejudice, just as soon as their agent can locate the missing student.
  • An outlaw Oneirist has discovered a way to use Ghoulish Delight to fuel necromantic projections, allowing him to interview ancient mummies, bored liches and other forms of undead via dreams. So far it has been tolerably safe and effective, though he has been feeling kind of off in a strange way.
  • Ghoulish Delight is highly toxic to actual Ghouls, making them vomit themselves to death in a gruesome fashion that often results with their guts literally hanging out of their mouths. The Ghouls are not amused. They are very curious to know who is responsible. They intend to return the favor ten-fold.

Welcome to Wermspittle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bujilli: Map from Episode 10

Here is Bujilli's Map as of Episode 10...


Note: There seems to be some oily-mud covering a good portion of the floor towards the East in Area 8. A slight trickle of icy-cold moisture runs into the mud from the passage to the East. The mud contains tiny flakes of what look like metal. The mud faintly sparkles. Both passages to the East & West/Right & Left of Area 8 slope gently upwards. The passage to the North is barred with a portcullis of sharply-angled mostly transparent metal of some sort. It appears to be slightly out of phase, perhaps as a consequence of being exposed to the weird energies of the large entity trapped at the center of Area 8...


Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Bujilli: Episode 10

Previously...
In Episode 9, Bujilli cleverly used his spell Thought Wall to protect himself from the confusing influence emanating from the Oneiric Vortex. Twenty-six Dreamsnails were in the process of crawling out of that same Vortex. They were toothsome. Carnivorous. Hungry. They spotted Bujilli. His Thought Wall reflected the confusing influence of the Vortex back at the Dreamsnails who were vulnerable as they were still in-transition. It was while the Dreamsnails were confused and milling about randomly that the remaining Miasmagaster Spawnlings came crawling and wriggling past the Vortex. The two sets of monsters fought. Bujilli made good his escape by going North into Area 8. That's where he is now standing, looking at some Thing That Watches him from behind a seething bubble of sorcerous forces.

For better or worse, Bujilli now has the undivided attention of this...thing...

Questions, Questions
At first Bujilli wondered if this...thing...might be the synchronocitor, but then he remembered what little he thought he knew regarding the synchronocitor. It was a device of some sort. It resembled a staff, after a fashion. It was also something far more portable than this massive blob-like entity.

But the thought persisted; perhaps this thing was somehow connected to the Synchronocitor. Maybe it knew about such things. But then, so would whomever trapped this thing here -- the coruscating energies followed the lines of peculiar hyper geometries that Bujilli could only just barely follow. Perhaps this was the work of someone using a Synchronocitor? Bujilli studied the slow-motion lightning crawling around the gross form of the thing trapped upon the corroded metal dais at the center of Area 8. A thin layer of absolute vacuum sealed the thing off from him. The energies swirled along a cycle that took them across more than one planar layer in succession. This was heavy sorcery, the sort of thing that his Uncle would never practice -- it took a lot of specialized knowledge. This sort of thing required a great deal of power. It wasn't something tossed around casually or randomly. It was a deliberate, very determined effort, the sort of thing that one would plan and prepare for, the type of work that was done for a specific purpose. But what was the purpose behind this?

SkReeeeeeCCCCHHHHHHH!!!!!

Bujilli slid towards the nearest wall and dropped into a defensive posture without a thought. His tulwar at the ready, he saw one of the Dreamsnails coming into the room behind him.

It was bleeding profusely.

A trail of rainbow oily-ichor led back to the carnage mounded-up around the Oneiric Vortex. The Thought Wall still stood. It still blocked the emanations from the Vortex.

The Dreamsnail had slipped through the wall -- Bujilli could see the outline of colorful gore at the point where the creature had slipped into the side of the corridor in front of the Thought Wall, and again at the point where it had flopped back out again into realspace.

For a moment Bujilli hesitated. He wasn't nearly bloodthirsty enough. His Uncle had often had to beat him to get him to kill things when he was being trained to loot tombs and rob graves. Bujilli felt almost sorry for the colorful, bizarre creature. Then it lunged towards him with a wide-gaping maw full of sharp teeth.

Snap. Thak. Chak.

Three strikes and the Dreamsnail was dispatched. Its head removed from the body and the heart pierced through and through.

Bujilli watched the ferocious mollusc expire with a sense of disappointment. He didn't like killing things he couldn't eat or didn't have a use for, even in self-defense. Especially in self-defense. He was very good at hiding and moving about undetected. He should have been able to evade and elude the Dreamsnails. Should have.

Ha!

Bujilli replaced his tulwar at his belt and with a lingering glance at the thing trapped behind shimmering purple  energies, he went to work examining the Dreamsnail's corpse. With an expert eye and deft fingers Bujilli tested the snail's shell, pinched its hide, scented its blood and tasted its flesh. The Almas were a tough people, hardy, survivors who dwelt within a barren and unforgiving environment. They didn't waste resources. They could not afford to leave things behind for the yeren or other enemies to use against them, and anything that could give them an edge or advantage was worth taking. He had been trained from an early age to always bring something useful back from his explorations, if he wanted to eat.

The hide was ruined, too torn up and pierced to be of much use, and there was no good way to preserve it, unless he wasted salt on it, and then it would be useless. The blood was bubbling away, the ectoplasmic content sublimating now that the creature's life force was extinguished. That might have been useful, even valuable, but Bujilli had no way to catch or contain the evaporating ectoplasm. He considered attempting a manifestation or summoning, but the stuff was fizzing away too rapidly for him to really do anything with it. This time. Now that he knew that these things were so rich, so saturated with ectoplasm, there might be a way to put them to good use. Maybe.

He looked about him. So far the release of so much ectoplasm was not attracting any Ordrang or other such ectoplasmic scavengers. So far.

A few firm taps with the backside of the hand-axe and Bujilli had a small sack of very sharp teeth that looked like oily icicles. The teeth glistened oddly, almost as if they were on the verge of evaporating like the Dreamsnail's blood, but they remained firm and held an exceptionally keen edge. They might make decent arrow-heads. He also knew of a craftsman back in his village who carved such teeth into ornaments and gaming dice. There was definite value in these teeth. They might even have sorcerous applications, once he sorted out their correspondences and affinities.

Bujilli went back to the Dreamsnail's shell. It was translucent, finely ridged from the way it had developed one layer after another, overlapping like a naturally laminated sort of thing. It felt...odd...but tough, durable.

It took only a few minutes to hack a few sections and assorted fragments from the shell with his hand-axe. He scraped each shard clean of the flesh and gore, then loaded them into his pack, along with the sack of teeth, all of it wrapped in some loose burlap and felt-scraps --  the kind of junk that any scavenger or looter always carried in order to make sure that anything fragile they retrieved made it back home.

Bujilli nodded to himself. The teeth and shell-bits would be useful. Many things could be made with such material, possibly a buckler or potentially some armor could be fashioned from the shell-pieces--there were a lot of spell-casters who did not wear metal as they believed it to interfere with their energies. He snorted. He had seen the metal-draped shamans of the low-landers call down fire and ice upon their enemies, totally unimpeded by all the iron and other cast-off bits of metal dangling from their robes. It wasn't the metal that mattered; it was the attitude and the expectations of the caster that really mattered. Bujilli's uncle had explained it to him; magic answers need, just as sorcery reacts to expectations and responds to inspiration. Thus superstitions and tribal customs carried weight. Tradition could build-up power. Repetition was the heart and soul of ritual and ceremony, not just symbolism or raw energy. But those ways took time, required training and support. They were not all that well-suited to the sort of work for which his uncle had trained him.

Bujilli was a sorcerer, not a shaman, not a wizard, but one of those trained and tested, battered and bested until they were able to perform their attacks and defenses much as any fighter or hunter was expected to do--instinctively, intuitively, without hesitation. But Bujilli was still prone to wondering, to questioning, to over-thinking things at times.

Like now.

He shook his shaggy head. Now that he had left his uncle behind, Bujilli was questioning everything and learning a lot about himself and the world he had always found cruel, cold and unforgiving. A lot of that was really his upbringing and his uncle. Having left the bitter-tongued old Almas behind in his smelly yurt, Bujilli was beginning to find himself, find his own way in the world.

But still, he had the profound feeling that this was not his world.

This was the world of his uncle. The world of his father.

He spat in disgust.

It would never be his world.

He intended to leave it behind.

The Gem in his pouch whispered of multitudes of Adjacent Worlds, Parallel Realms, Exotic Planes and stranger places beyond the known horizons and boundaries of this tiny, insignificant world.

Wherever he wound-up, the Dreamsnail shell-pieces would be useful to a sorcerer, shaman or wizard and they could pay for such things. In knowledge if not in gold.

He replaced his hand-axe.

The corridor behind was seemingly clear, but it was only a matter of time before something else came through the Oneiric Vortex. He extended his left hand and examined the Thought Wall. It would hold for a while yet. good.

Bujilli regarded the thing trapped behind the sorcerous barrier.

It squatted at the center of a four-way intersection like some sort of monitor...or sentry.

Or was it placed here for some other function?

So many questions.
So few answers.

Bujilli sighed. He reached into his pouch and grasped the green Gem.

It seemed to know many things. Perhaps it knew something of this thing.

Bujilli closed his hand over the warm green Gem and stared intently at the thing trapped behind shimmering silent lightnings. Silently, Bujilli asked the Gem his questions, hoping for answers, directions, guidance.

'Do I dare release this thing--would doing so be beneficial to either of us--if I even knew how to do such a thing?'

All That Is Bound Can Be Unbound.
All Can Be Released.
Surely You Know Your Own Heart
Better Than Anyone Else.
Who  Knows The Heart Of Anyone Outside Themself?


'But HOW could such a thing be released?'

The Synchronocitor.
Among Other Such Things.

'How do I find this synchronocitor? What Path best leads to it's current location?'

Forwards.
Onwards.
Downwards.

"Forward?" Bujilli looked away from the grotesque figure and glanced at the way ahead. There were three choices of direction onward from this chamber, not counting going back towards the Vortex.

"Do you mean North then?"

His voice echoed in the silence.

The Gem was still. It had already spoken.
What guidance it could offer was given.
The decision was not for it to make.

Now it was all up to Bujilli...


Now it is all up to You.

Should Bujilli go North?

Or should he explore the passages to either side of this chamber?

Maybe he could by-pass the Oneiric Vortex and examine the other section of this place that he saw hinted at on his Map.

There are always the options of examining the contents of Area 6 with its ophidian-stink or the seemingly empty Area 7...

What should Bujilli do next?

You Decide!


Previous                                                     Next

Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

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