Monday, April 30, 2012

SciFi Skirmish: Paper Minis (Test)

We've been working on some Sci-Fi paper minis, in addition to the horrid blobs, amorphous nasties, and more fantastical weird-things. One of the new set-in-progress is a Beam-Sword fighter that could easily turn up in a Rogue Space scenario, especially using the Rogue Space Skirmish rules. This guy would make a good micro-g/vacuum-gladiator for an exotic orbital arena from Tsan Yian or Humanspace Empires as well.

Back to work on making fold-up bases for all of these paper minis...

Necrocondenser (Weird Machine)

Obscure in its origins, which are muddled and confused by conflicting experts and competing opinions, the Necrocondenser is a Weird Machine few have ever heard of, and fewer still have ever seen.

Jadris, Korliz, Vaduphon...there are more than a few dead worlds known to sorcerers and scholars alike. But not all dead worlds were overthrown by hordes of zombies, nor enslaved by vampire tyrants, nor subjugated by armies of any of the other known forms of undead. No, not all dead worlds died through violence, plague or the usual forms of ruination and destruction. Some worlds, such as Thaldria rotted away like a titan succumbing to the ravages of Jotuniflukes, others collapsed under the increasingly unsupportable burdens imposed upon their fragile ecologies by the rampant technologies of the living, such as how Faldrume and Myrcidria both died. And badly at that.

What few people aside from the abdead necrolectuals of Ellonduz realize is that each of these worlds were hastened on to their apocalyptic demise by the workings of a Necrocondenser.

Most of the scrolls detailing the construction of the original thirteen Necrocondensers have been destroyed by Horla, consumed by Thysanurians or even stolen by certain Predatory Projections for what can only be assumed to be nefarious schemes. Of the original thirteen machines, only six are still intact or summonable.

There are fewer than four scrolls containing the complete, accurate ritual for summoning a Necrocondenser known to be in circulation currently, according to the Scribes of Jaondix and the Psychonauts of Undrozzille, if those sources can be trusted in such a matter.

What is known about these particular machines can be summed up as follows:
  • This machine creates an artificial vortex of inverted ablight at its center and uses this central vortex to attract, accumulate and condense necromantic energies into a specialized capacitor-assembly where these energies are stored until processed or released.
  • When activated, a Necrocondenser sets up an energetic field that extends in a 100 mile radius and increases in range by another 1d10 miles per 100 hit points of energy it drains from all forms of undead. All undead caught within this field of effect suffer a loss of 1d4 hit points for every hour they remain within the field. Any undead drained to zero hit points is destroyed.
  • These machines do not affect the abdead, proving conclusively that there is in fact a distinct, demonstrable difference between undead and abdead.
  • Once set in motion these machines run like preternatural clockwork and are all but unstoppable.
  • In the event that a Nercrocondenser becomes damaged, it can siphon off its accumulated necromantic energies to repair itself. Doing so sets up a secondary field of interference that causes 1d4 damage per hour to all living things within a 10 mile radius. This effect intensifies by +1 additional point of damage per HD of damage so repaired.
  • Holy Word will make this machine pause for 1d100 hours, but will require the caster to be within 1 mile of the machine.
  • Once a Necrocondenser extends its field of effect to encompass an entire world it requires 1d100 days to recalibrate its internal systems. Once recalibrated, the machine will either release a massive world-girdling vortex of necromantic energies, begin to drain all life energy from the world, explode with such force as to reduce the world to a ring of blackened rubble orbiting its sun, or possibly some other effect based upon the parameters established at the time of its activation. In at least one instance the machine established a black corona of negative energy at a height of 10,000 miles that encircled the entire world of Aldrosia. Every living thing that died upon that world has had its energies stripped from it within seconds of dying. No one is sure just why, or what the Necrocondenser/Black Corona is doing with all this accumulated energy.


Mass Necrocondenser Details
Primary Reference: Obsidian Tablet of Horphoo
Prescribed Geometric Figure: n/a
Requirements: 1) A stable negative energy vortex consisting of no less than 1,000 hit points, 2) Necroliths and other heavily-infused necromantic objects and energy-sinks are rumored to be helpful adjuncts to the summoning process, but no details are provided in the primary sources.
Cost to Summon: see above.
Chance of Success: (1d8)% per 100 hit points used in preliminary negative energy vortex.
Failure/Backlash: Everything within a 1d100 mile radius is drained of all energy. The machine either goes dormant, or teleports away to the next world.

A Few Rumors
According to the Annals of Doomed Vylusha, a Necrocondenser was summoned to that world by the Vizier of Wollovia as part of a scheme to break the grip of an undead aristocracy that had dominated her country for over a thousand years. The machine did eliminate the undead nobles, but then it ended all life on that world as well. Whether this was due to tampering, sabotage, some revenge-contingency of the undead nobles, or something else entirely is unknown at this time.

The paladins of Xorlu have been searching for the means to summon a Necrocondenser to their world ever since an armada of undead invaded their world. They believe that they can use one of these machines to eliminate the undead invaders without destroying their world in the process. Perhaps they know something others do not, possibly they are just zealots willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to defeat their enemies.

A defunct or damaged Necrocondenser is alleged to be buried deep beneath the crust of Adalasha, somewhere on the 312th level of the Macrocthoneum. So far no one has been able to confirm this rumor.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jalamere: Index

New Posts: Sundays

Jalamere a new setting, one inspired by the sorts of fantastic geographies that transcend conventional planets or unending planes, something more akin to Tanith Lee's Flat Earth cycle, or Clark Ashton Smith's Abominations of Yondo. Jalamere is a mythic place with edges, a Worldrim that you can fall off of, and it isn't a ball of matter floating in space, if anything it seems to be a sort of platter or disk, and it might be held up from the primordial chaos by titanic beings most people never see...maybe. If they're lucky.
Note: We began this series/project using the Sword & Wizardry (White Box) rules. We're seriously considering revising things and going with a different system based upon reader feedback. should we stay with White box, or transition this project over to another system? Which one would people prefer?

Building Jalamere

Building Jalamere 1: Getting Started
We're also making use of Rob Conley's excellent How To Make A Fantasy Sandbox series of articles, and a few more inspiring bits and pieces captured while on safari through the deepest, darkest corners of the untamed OSR blogosphere. We begin with a quick map of a tiny section of the edge of the very, very big world.

Building Jalamere 2: Zones
Here we created a set of six Zones, each of which then was broken down into specific types of related terrain and environmental factors, each one leading inwards from the rimward edges to the deserts and badlands that seem to extend for thousands of miles into the very center of the world-disk. We still need to finish a few loose ends on this post.


Playing in Jalamere

Considering Player Character Options (I)
Cliff-dwelling spiders, gecko-taurs, and sword-wielding octopi...this is a realm where elves, dwarves and gnomes are summoned and treated like demons, aliens or magical beings from other worlds. Which they are. When you're here.


Exploring Jalamere

Twenty Major Dungeons/Ruins
A quick list of 20 strange places of mystery and adventure that may or may not become part of the fabric of Jalamere. It's a place to start from, so we rolled a D20. We got a '1' so our first place to consider and possibly develop was The Black Ziggurat, which is an extension of the cross-blog/cross-universe megadungeon from Planet Algol. So, in the spirit of using tables to flesh out the details, we decided to begin by creating encounter tables for the area surrounding this malevolent center of pestilence and woe...and seeing as how Jalamere is a truly vast and wide-open canvas upon which to splash paint around, we went really big in terms of scale. To begin with, there's an encounter table for the tainted regions within a 1,000 mile radius around this place...
  1. Black Ziggurat
  2. Blasted Wastes of Nitocrimelle




The Black Ziggurat of Jalamere

The Black Ziggurat of Jalamere
An overview of what is known about this dreadful place and its polycosmic connections to other worlds.

Encounters Within a 1,000 Mile Radius
20 options for things that are often found wandering along the Outer Perimeter of the Black Ziggurat.

Encounters Within a 100 Mile Radius
20 encounters

Encounters Within a 10 Mile Radius
20 options for even nastier stuff as your party gets closer to the Black Ziggurat.

Encounters Within a 1 Mile Radius
20 options for things found within a mile of the Black Ziggurat, including a couple contributed by Blair of Planet Algol himself.

At the Black Ziggurat
Coming Soon.

Special Encounters (Black Ziggurat)
Coming Soon.

Writhing Masses & Worse
This table is for all those amorphous horrors likely to be found near-by the dreaded Black Ziggurat.



The Blasted Wastes of Nitocrimelle

We rolled a '19' on the 20 Major Dungeons/Ruins Table for what to go look at next...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mucoid (Fighter)

This one's for Needles over at Swords & Stitchery
Mucoid (Fighter)
No. Enc.: 3
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 20'
Armor Class: 4 (Tentacles AC 6)
Hit Dice: 2 to 8
Attacks: 1d4
Damage: 1d2 +sting, or by weapon (typically 1d6+1)
Save: MU1
Morale: 4

Mucoids envy the vitality and prowess of the lesser, vertebrate species. They are jealous of those creatures who have the support of internalized skeletons, but alas, they have not mastered the means to install such a thing into their own bodies, at least not yet. But they have developed a form of armored and articulated exoskeleton to protect their central protoplasmic mass and the brainy-bits enclosed within it.

Wielding strangely socketed swords fitted to their tentacles, these Mucoid Fighters slowly and cautiously creep about in the dimly lit regions below the ruins of cities destroyed by their superiors war machines. They slither and squirm about, seeking a chance to strike out at the many enemies of their species. But only from ambush, for they prefer to strike from behind, much as a Thief, whenever possible. In a straight-up confrontation, a Mucoid's first instinct is to escape, unless they feel that they somehow have an edge, or hold an advantage over their opponents.

Mucoids are physical weaklings. Their weapons are forged from a peculiar, almost foamy beryllium-alloy making them weigh only a quarter of what an equivalent steel weapon would weigh, and with a wickedly keen edge (usually +1, with a few +2 or even +3 weapons showing up--all of them non-magical).

Each triad of Mucoids are split-off from the same protoplasmic bud-mass and share an intrinsic form of empathy that allows them to coordinate their attacks without needing to resort to vocalization.

The sting of a Mucoid forces the victim to make a Save (at +2) or be paralyzed for one attack. It is a weak toxin and has no lingering after-effects.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lemru

Lemru
No. Enc.: 1 (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 20'
Swim: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2 to 8
Attacks: 2
Damage: 2d4 bite, 1d4 claw, or by weapon
Save: F2+
Morale: 10 (unless wounded, then 6)

Voracious aquatic beings known for stripping the catch from fisher-folk's nets and conducting raids upon coastal villages under the cover of seasonal rains and stormy weather, the Lemru are greatly feared by those who have had occasion to run afoul of them.

In the water, a Lemru is exceptionally fast and agile. They make the most of this speed by using a pair of knobbly knuckle-like hand weapons formed from very hard, dense coral. In the claws of a Lemru these weapons can inflict 3d4 damage. They are too awkward for most others to use, and after 3d4 days out of the water they crumble into a rancid-smelling gray powder.

Lemru are blind, in that they do not possess true eyes, but they do have hundreds of pigment-pit eye-spots or ocelli scattered across their abdominal gill-palps, giving them the ability to detect movement in nearly every direction out to a range of 90'. Their gill-palps can extract oxygen from water or air, but are very sensitive to the transition from saltwater to fresh, requiring 3d4 minutes to adjust to one or the other. Lemru tend to avoid brackish water as it gives their gill-palps spasms and they find it hard to breathe as their system flip-flops from being acclimated to saltwater to fresh and back again.

On land, the Lemru are almost comical, slow-moving, and clumsy. They generally only come ashore in the midst of floods or driving rain, and return to the water as soon as possible.

Not every person abducted by these things is necessarily eaten, at least not right away.

Kellikottian

Kellikottian (Type I)
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (flight/swim; zero on land)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6+2
Save: F3
Morale: 12

Mindless, implacable airborne killers who infest certain ooze-prone regions of the deeper dark, Kellikottians are much dreaded by spelunkers, deep-scouts and explorers. These things have an uncanny ability to detect body heat, vibration and the subtle emanations given off by thoughts, yet they lack all normal senses and have no overt psychic abilities whatsoever...unless their form of aerial locomotion is somehow tied to an innate form of levitation, but that has not yet been proven.

Their translucent, almost gelatinous bodies make them blurry and indistinct in flickering torchlight, often giving the creatures a good chance to lunge out from the shadows and surprise their victims. Each Kellikottian attacks by jabbing their sword-like spine or proboscis into the flesh of their target. If they succeed in embedding themselves in the victim's flesh, they will begin to dissolve the tissues in direct contact with their membranous outer covering. For every turn they remain embedded in a wound, the Kellikottian automatically inflicts full normal damage.

The latest volume of the Delver's Almanack contains an article that prescribes the use of fire, such as open torches, to drive off most forms of Keratelliac, however this same article advocates applying turpentine or kerosene to the wounds caused by these things, and that is considered dubious advice at best.

According to some sources who wish to remain unidentified, due to their ongoing connection to the Sewer Militia, Dim Ichor is reputedly very effective against Kellikottians as it tends to poison them, often killing them within under three minutes. Of course this has not been verified. Yet. The publisher of the Delver's Almanack has posted a reward for the first person to offer definitive proof in this matter, or to provide an alternative remedy that is demonstrably efficacious.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 22

Smack.

At first the knife didn't really register. Then the kid yanked it out of Bujilli's arm. Blood spurted. Nostrils flaring in sudden anger Bujilli whipped his tulwar upwards in a wicked arc, catching the acne-scarred kid's knife-hand with the tip of the blade.

Now they both were bleeding.

Bujilli caught a scent. It was something...bad. Some kind of drug. The kid was using something to enhance his reflexes, to speed things up. His sweat was sort of milky looking. Disgusting.

The cleaver nearly connected. Bujilli grinned. Twisted. Rolled. Came up close and jammed the tulwar right through the kid's dingy leather armor, like running a pin through a flap of skin. then he yanked. HARD.

The knife clattered to the floor.

THUD!

The kid collided with the wall. Bujilli slashed his tulwar out of the armor, leaving the kid's belly exposed.

"I'm willing to--"

The kid lunged.

SHRACK! Cleaver against tulwar.

SPAK! Again.

SKRIT! Again.

Bujilli pushed the blade forward on the third hit and drove the cleaver down and away.

"That was my father's armor." Growled the kid. His skin was becoming greasier, his eyes dilated weirdly.

"You'll be in for a beating when you get home then, won't you?" Bujilli spared a glance for his wounded arm. The blood flowed a bit too freely for his liking. He needed to cut this shorter, rather than drag it out. He considered his chances of disarming the kid versus killing him outright. Whatever the drug was that the kid was using, it made him far faster than he ought to have been. Faster and erratic.

"Yaaaaaaahhhhhh!" Crack! Chak! SCRATTTTTTTT!

Bujilli panted. He was sweating. Those last three hits were only barely turned aside in time. The last one only barely deflected. He'd almost gotten a cut to his knee for his troubles. This was not what he had expected.

"I can smell your fear."

The kid's smirk made Bujilli even more angry.

Shreeenk! Snik. HACK! Shhhhrreeeeekkkkk!

Bujilli grinned. The kid might be erratic, but he was also a slave to his own rhythm; three chops and withdraw. Again and again. Except this time Bujilli had blocked or driven the cleaver away and set himself up to deliver a nasty gut-cut.

Blood welled from the kid's ultra-pale belly.

Then, as the kid wound himself up for the next attack, Bujilli lunged in close and snapped the flat of his tulwar against his knuckles.

The cleaver fell to the floor and stuck there.

Bujilli poked the kid in the belly to make sure he registered what had just happened.

"We're done. I'm next. You can take my place at the end of the line."

"No. no. nO. This can't happen. nO." The kid looked at his hands. He was twitching. Badly.

"What?"

Uuueecckkk!

The kid was on his knees, vomiting black fluid with little white gobs of undigested candy all over the floor.

No one else moved.

Bujilli sheathed his tulwar and went to the miserable, wretched boy. The smell of corruption was nearly over-powering. He gagged. But he pulled the boy out of the pool of vomit and set him against the wall. A couple of rags from his pouch. A quick inspection of the boys wounds. Bujilli could feel the terrible fever that was burning through the boy's bloodstream. It made him sick. Sad. This was not right.

He tended the boy's wounds, all of which were superficial and already healing.

He got him cleaned-up, as best he could.

No one helped. No one said a word. No one moved. They all just stared at Bujilli. They ignored the suffering boy entirely, as though he wasn't even there.

A door opened. The door. Room 101. Admissions. A tall woman in a sombre black fighting gown stood in the doorway scowling down at Bujilli.

"And what is this?" she hissed coldly.

"This young man requires assistance. He's had too much--"

"Hard Candy. Yes. Poor judgement on his part. Are you next?" She looked at Bujilli with a stern, challenging gaze.

"He requires--"

"You're bleeding. Tend to yourself before you worry needlessly about what is out of your hands."

Bujilli stood up. He locked eyes with the woman in black. Quickly, deftly, expertly, he drew out a fresh rag and bound his wounded fore arm with the skill of all too much practice.

"The boy needs--"

"Yes. He is in a bad way. So what? Life is cheap. Are you here to seek admission to the Academy?"

"Yes. I am. So is he. My life, however is not so cheap. Nor is his. You seem to be in authority, so either help him or tell me what I can do for him."

The woman smiled. It was a frightening thing.

A gesture. A slight hum. Pale mauve glimmering. The fight between the boy and Bujilli played itself out before the woman, a quiet pantomime of ghostly echoes. Bujilli watched the display. He felt shame at losing his temper. Letting anyone dislodge you from your center, to get you to act from anger rather than from self-interest or what you know is best was to lose the fight before you even drew steel. Anger killed the angry. One way or another. It was a luxury Bujilli could not afford, any more than the kid could afford to be taking so much Hard Candy.

"Why didn't you kill him?"

"Why? It would have been pointless. Meaningless."

"But it would have demonstrated your proficiency, your skill, your zeal. Each and every one of these..." she swept her talon-like hand to indicate the deathly still group of would be applicants trying not to make eye contact with anyone else "...would have jumped at the chance to show-off such skill as you seem to possess, if they had any."

"The child is dying."

"Yes."

"Do you intend to just let him die then?"

"My intentions are not important. What do you intend to do about it? That is what interests me."

"He needs help. I have no skill, no spell, no resources to help him. Is there someone who can help him? A healer, perhaps?"

"Such things come at a cost. Would you pay for his healing? Can you afford to pay the price? Or would it be easier to leave him and come inside--I believe you are ready to be admitted, Bujilli."


Should Bujilli hire a healer for the kid?

Or would it be easier to abandon the boy and get on with things?

He did come here to be admitted...

Maybe he should challenge the woman in black?

Demand that she tend to the boy?

He could also just go back to his rooms,

or walk out of here and go join the Revels...

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

Jotunifluke

Jotunifluke
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 10' (90' Swimming)
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 6 to 12
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4 +Rotting
Save: F10
Morale: n/a

Huge and ponderous, blind and mindless, Jotuniflukes are gargantuan parasites found most often within the viscera of giants, cyclopes and titans. Even some ogres and ettins have been known to be infested with these horrid things.

At first the host feels nothing out of the ordinary, but over time (3d6 months) their blood begins to thin, their schlera turns a peculiar pinkish-gray, and they experience bloating around the abdomen. The effects are not debilitating, merely a nuisance, until the infesting flukes mature and migrate to the giant's liver. Then things get bad.

Originally, these organisms would have been content with simply reducing the infected giant's liver to a liquified mess of rotting cells, but over time and through exposure to various eldritch influences (possibly with some additional meddling by unscrupulous plaguecasters or others), these things have become far more pernicious and insidious. They do still begin with the liver, but now they go on to rot the victim from within, until, in the final stages, the victim collapses into a massive heap of gangrenous, liquifying flesh.

The rotting flesh produced by Jotuniflukes is highly toxic and contagious. It has poisoned wells for over 20 miles in several instances. Anyone coming into contact with the stuff must make a Save or take 2d4 damage and watch helplessly as their flesh begins to rot away at a rate of 1d4 hit points cumulative damage per hour. Potions have no effect on this rotting disease, and all healing spells are reduced to 1/4 normal efficacy. Drinking water contaminated with the stuff inflicts 1d4 damage, and requires a Save (at +2 however) to avoid contracting the rot. Boiling the water will not destroy the disease, but alcohol will kill it if applied topically, allowing healers to have a good chance to avoid contracting the sickness, if they know this trick. Mixing alcohol into the water will give a +1 bonus to Saves versus the waterborne version of the rot. Most people are content to just drink wine and avoid water that might be contaminated.

But Wait, There's More...
Jotuniflukes are not just the source of a terrible rotting disease, they have a tendency to survive the death of their hosts. This is significant in that the bloated, throbbing semi-amorphous things then blindly grope about for another victim. If they come into contact with other organisms, they will attempt to infest them, often by attempting to force themselves into the victim's body by a form of osmotic over-pressure. Giants and related species must make a Save at -2 penalty or have the Jotunifluke attach onto them and begin to bore into their body, doing 2d4 damage per minute until the thing either is insinuated (3d4 minutes) or is removed or destroyed.

Against non-giants this attack inflicts 3d4 damage per minute until either the Jotunifluke infiltrates the new host's body (this will usually kill them), or it causes the unfortunate (non-giant) victim to explode into 1d6 bits and pieces, all of which begin to rot. Those who manage to remain mostly intact through this grotesque process are terribly bloated and suffer massive internal trauma (2d4 damage per minute as long as the situation persists). Those victims who do die in the course of the Jotunifluke's infiltrative attack tend to form a crust of rotten flesh around the creature's outer membrane. Aside from being spectacularly disgusting and extremely contagious, this layer of liquifying flesh provides the Jotunifluke a form of armoring that prevents them from being affected by touch attacks such as ghoul paralysis, and so on.

Jotuniflukes do not distinguish between living or dead organisms and will infest either depending upon their access to them.

It Could Be Worse...
Jotuniflukes do not begin life as gigantic blob-like masses of protoplasm that wriggle merrily away as they dissolve otherwise vital and powerful giants into wretched masses of putrescence. Far from it. They begin life as tiny flukes swimming about in swampy regions, marshes, along river banks, and so forth. They are eventually taken into the guts of various herd animals and it is while in the guts of these creatures that the proto-flukes develop into the wriggly-things that non-giants often spot in their herds as the creatures squirm about under the skin of the infected cattle. Most herders either destroy these animals or separate them from the herd in order to either cut-out the large (bigger than a grown man's fist) wrigglers, or use some herbal purgative. The purgatives are dangerous in that they do not kill the wrigglers but only cause the animals to expel them from their systems. If the wrigglers are not killed, preferably by burning, then they will make their way back into the water, or attempt to latch onto another herd animal host, or even one of the wranglers or handlers, if they're not careful.

These things are something of a nuisance to non-giants, but they are far worse to deal with from the giant's perspective as the wrigglers can infest the guts and flesh of their gigantic cattle without being spotted, and then, when the giants consume the infested flesh, they in turn get infested. The rotting effect doesn't kick in until after the Jotuniflukes reach the giant hosts' liver. So, if they can be detected before that point, they can be removed or destroyed without having to deal with the horrific rotting plague that they can bring about.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Insectillar

Insectillar
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful (Evil)
Movement: Special
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4+2 (Psychic Assault)
Save: F6
Morale: 8

Insectillars are huge, seemingly immobile insectoid beings who spend centuries slowly metamorphing into their adult form while sealed-away within their pupal-stage cocoons. Incapable of normal movement, Insectillars instead fade or phase across the boundaries of various adjacent worlds and parallel realms. In most respects this ability is somewhat similar to that of blink dogs, phase spiders or other such creatures.

A typical Insectillar will be from 3' to 12' in height, as determined by rolling 3d4. Their height determines their personal area of effect. It is possible for a 3' Insectillar to have 9 HD, and for a 12' tall one to have only 4 HD (Minimum Insectillar HD is 4).

Insectillars also use a limited form of local teleportation, allowing them to 'blink' from one place to another. Their blink range is determined by the Insectillar's height, each foot of stature giving them another 10' in range. However, they always move last, but may attack first if they have the initiative.

Insectillars can remain immobile and instead use their blink ability to create a Displacement Effect in order to remove opponents, especially if there is a distinct threat to the Insectillar's personal safety.

Another off-shoot of their innate blink ability is the capacity to shift an area equal to their personal area of effect (see Height above), from one world to another. This World-Shift ability can only be used once every 3d6 minutes and an Insectillar gains 1d4 World-Shifts per HD. Their favorite use of this ability is to strand victims from one world on another, and then observe how the victim fares in a hostile, alien environment of the Insectillar's choosing. (See our Exotic Environments Table, Broken Worlds Table, or use your own imagination.)

Yes, this World-Shift ability can easily kill anyone not prepared for the particular perils of the environment they get shifted to, but there is a saving grace to this terrible ability; the area affected by the Insectillar remains porous for the duration of the shift. If at any time during the duration of a particular World-Shift a victim makes a successful Save, they drop back to their starting point. The Insectillar will rarely come back for them, as those who can resist its abilities are no longer any fun to torment.

A Monster, Not a Conveyor Belt...
It is rumored that if someone were to successfully overcome an Insectillar in the same way that one dominates a sapeint sword, that it could possibly be forced to use its World-Shift ability as directed by their new master, but to do so is exceedingly dangerous. Attempts to Charm, coerce or dominate an Insectillar will drive them berserk, giving them an additional attack and doubling all damage dealt by their Psychic Assaults.

Insectillars will almost never willingly transport others to places they actually wish to go. Insectillars predominantly use their World-Shift ability to harm or strand victims, never to help anyone, unless they are somehow subdued or forced to do so under threat of death or destruction, but even then...they are not to be trusted. They tend to interpret things literally, especially when it suits their perverse sensibilities and provides a means of bringing their enemies into inimical environments they might not be able to survive. An Insectillar enjoys nothing quite so much as watching people struggle for survival against impossible odds, like trying to survive breathing chlorine, which, for them, is the height of humor.

Insectillars ignore all sounds, smells and most chemical forms of communication. They rely instead upon a combined form of ESP and Clairvoyance that extends across multiple time-lines, myriads of worlds and more. They only communicate via telepathy, and will ignore all other attempts to communicate, unless they detect the potential for having a little bad-natured fun.

Hard Candy (Corruption Trade/Wermspittle)

Sweet, wicked and all too cheap for anyone's good; there are over a thousand different types, sorts and kinds of candies and confections made from the by-products of the White Powder. Temptation made edible and immediately accessible, the various forms of Hard Candies available in Wermspittle have become a tradition, a custom, and worse--an addiction that affects most of the population. Few survive the harsh winters without resorting to Hard Candy. Very few. In some places specific types of Hard Candy have become an informal currency. For many, Hard Candy is the only option they have, if they wish to eat, once the Butchers run out of questionable meat.

It isn't the White Powder that takes such a heavy toll on the people of Wermspittle, nor even the violence, the miasmas, the prowling things just outside of sight; it is their reliance upon Hard Candy to survive the winter.
According to the Midwives...
Back before the Midwives' Rebellion, there was plenty to eat in Wermspittle, even in the winter. But something happened. In the midst of the riots, the lootings, the burnings and the chaos, someone orchestrated a methodical, calculated and well-planned destruction of certain things, mostly those sorts of things that tended to be overlooked by the mobs or the partisans. Overnight the things that had once made Wermspittle a prosperous source of plenty for all crashed and it came to an end. The warehouses were ransacked, silos and storage-bins were emptied or burned. Stockpiles ran out. Famine became a reality. Starvation made people desperate. Terrible things were allowed, where before they would have been reviled and punished. Only the Candymen, the dealers and distributors had anything left to eat and they exacted a heavy price for their favors.

Eat Your Heart Out
Hard Candy does offer those who eat it definite benefits, at first. Then things tend to go bad, then they get ugly. If used in moderation, it is possible to avoid the worst side-effects, as long as use is not prolonged beyond three months or so. Usually less. (One way to handle this is to look at the character's CON bonus; they can safely use Hard Candy once a day for 1 month per point of their CON bonus.)

Once-a-Day is Enough
Each piece of Hard Candy consumed within a 24-hour period will eliminate the need to eat for 1d4 days. It will also cause healing to take place at triple the normal rate and boost the immune system so as to remove all mundane diseases and give a +3 bonus on all Saves versus infection, poison, or diseases of a more sorcerous nature such as Mummy Rot.

Make one roll on the following table for each piece of Hard Candy consumed within a 24-hour period.
After getting the same result three times, make an additional roll on the next table.
  1. Visual perception heightened, triple normal range, expands into infra-red and beyond. (treat as Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, and Infravision combined). Save or go blind for next 1d8 days, make the Save it only lasts for 1d4 days.
  2. Gain Regeneration ability for 1d4 days. At end of effect, make a Save or begin to grow 1d4 tumorous growths or throbbing cysts requiring surgery to remove. Each of these nasty things absorbs 1 hit point per day of uninterrupted growth. They might become autonomous upon achieving more than ten hit points. If so, they will cause 1d4 damage per growth, as they rip themselves free of their host.
  3. Gain +2 to hit with melee weapons for next 1d4 hours. When effect ends, make a Save or suffer -1 penalty to hit for 1d4 days.
  4. Memory enhanced, can memorize spells or other things in 1/3 normal time, effect persists for 1d12 hours, at end of which time user must make a Save or lose all memories for 1d4 days.
  5. Movement doubled for next 1d4 days. Once this runs its course, user must eat triple normal rations for 1d4 days or suffer 1d4 damage each day they eat less.
  6. Features become malleable for next 1d4 hours. You can reshape your face. It will remain in the new configuration unless you roll this result again, in which case make a Save or your face will begin to melt (-1 penalty to CHAR).
  7. Movement tripled for next 3d8 hours. At end of duration user must eat actual food or suffer 1d4 damage for the next 2d4 days. Consuming Hard Candy during this recovery period will force an automatic roll on the next table.
  8. Sense of smell is heightened to extraordinary degree for next 1d6 days, after which make a Save or lose all sense of smell for 1d6 days.
  9. Gain +2 bonus to DEX for next 1d4 days, user experiences incredible balance and moves at double normal rate when climbing. At end of the duration, make a Save or be incapable of movement for 1d4 days. Making the Save reduces their movement by one-half for 2d4 days.
  10. Shrug off first 2 points of damage from all melee attacks for next 1d4 hours. At end of duration, make Save or suffer 2d4 damage, making the Save results in half damage.
  11. No need to eat for the next 3d6 days, however you now must make a Save or become one of the emaciated wretches who must eat one piece of Hard Candy every day or suffer 1d4 damage or worse.
  12. Transfer 2 points from INT, WIS or CHAR to STR, DEX or CON. Make Save or it is permanent. 

Things Turn Ugly
Prolonged use, a bad reaction, or overdosing on Hard Candy results in a roll on the following table.
  1. Lose 1 point of INT, however you temporarily regain all lost INT points while under the effect of Hard Candy.
  2. Your blood is now a weak form of Black Liquor. You are immune to the effect of the stuff, but all other forms of Black Liquor cause damage to you similar to boiling oil.
  3. You can now See Invisible all the time, but you can only see invisible things now. Base 10% chance to attract attention of a Horla every wandering monster check.
  4. Lose all sense of touch.
  5. You can no longer see the color (1=Blue, 2=Red, 3=Yellow, 4=Green, 5=Orange, 6=Purple).
  6. One half of all damage healed becomes hit points applied to the tumor-like growth developing within your abdominal cavity.
  7. The bodily fluids within one of your limbs are congealing into a warm, viscous mass that will thicken into a raw lump of 1d4 pounds of Achromic Powder that will need to be removed before it poisons your blood and kills you within the next 1d4 days. You lose 1 point of CON, STR, and DEX each day the lump is allowed to persist.
  8. Your skin is prone to molting. Some of the pieces that you've shed seem to disappear when you look away. Perhaps they have become autonomous in some way?
  9. Gain +1 to DEX, suffer -1 to STR, as your bones have become pliable, flexible things capable of bending in ways others might find unsettling.
  10. Your skin takes on a rancid smell and grows dark, with black splotches. Make Save or suffer -1 penalty to CHAR. Even if you make the Save, you gain a random mutation or defect. (see Table)
  11. Your blood no longer clots right, instead of forming scabs, it clumps together in little quivering blob-lets that may or may not slither away. When injured, you take an additional 1 point of damage just from blood loss.
  12. Large portions of your body have now become invisible. (Determine portions/extent randomly)
  13. Transfer 1d4 points from WIS to STR. You can only reverse this while under the effect of Hard Candy.
  14. Make Save every day or suffer effect of Feeblemind, unless you are under the influence of Hard Candy, then you're immune to all Fear, Feeblemind and related effects.
  15. One limb selected at random is becoming a lumpy sort of tentacle, unless you make a Save, then it's only a finger or toe that is getting wiggly.
  16. Your blood is now black and you heal a double normal rate all the time, unfortunately, every point you regain is counted against your original hit point total and when the new hit points exceed that amount, you lose one point of WIS and then must make a Save or else become a Loathsome Mass in 1d4 days. Perhaps you can find a cure before you collapse into a writhing mass of corruption? 
  17. Save or your skin is covered by a Sallow Stain that seeps out from your very bones. Make the Save and you only suffer this effect whenever you are injured--your blood produces a Wet Spot (roll 1d10) if you make a Save, or leaves behind a Sallow Stain if you fail.
  18. You suffer a loss of 1d4 points from CHAR or WIS, and your blood becomes a sweet, sticky green serum that attracts vermin within 360'. You regain the lost attribute points whenever you eat more Hard Candy, but the vermin will always come for you. Getting this result more than once carries a cumulative 20% chance of suffering the effects of a Verminomorphosis spell. Making a Save means the effect is random, akin to a form of verminicious lycanthropy, perhaps.
  19. Congratulations; you get to roll 1d10 on the Wet Spot table and apply the result to your body in some gruesome, particularly uncomfortable way.
  20. Become a Loathsome Mass...for 1d4 hours every time you fail a Save. Duration of transformation triples every time you get this result, with a Save required or else it becomes permanent. 
It is suggested that one does not combine White Powder or Black Liquor with Hard Candy, as that would probably be cause to make a roll on the above table, should the victim fail a Save.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thysanurian

Thysanurian
No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (180' jump) Move at half normal rate when levitating.
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2+ (Can gain levels as either Fighter or Spell Caster, also can multi-class/dual-class)
Attacks: 1d6, determined randomly each turn.
Damage: 1d4 per claw, or by weapon, or by spell.
Save: MU2+ (Fighters save as MUs / MUs save as Fighers)
Morale: 8

Thysanurians are cold blooded rationalists and pragmatists who blindly seek out magical papyri, scrolls, spell-books and the like in order to consume them and assimilate the spells contained within. It takes them 1d10 minutes per level of the targeted spell to consume it once the Thysanurian has made a successful attack roll against the scroll, book, etc. They can usually only consume spells inscribed upon organic substrates, but a few reports have surfaced concerning Thysanurians that are alleged to have become capable of digesting inorganic materials, such as synthetic fabrics, but this has yet to be confirmed.

The few specimens of Thysanurians that have had functioning compound eyes have also tended to be vampiric, though it is unclear if they were actually undead, or just haemovores.

Known Sub-Types
Silvren: Start with 4 HD, inflict 2d4 with each claw, and have a +4 Char Reaction with Ants and Ant-like creatures.
Firebrats: Start with 3 HD, Save or take only 1 point of damage from fire or heat.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Table: Writhing Masses & Worse (Jalamere)

This is a continuation of what we began in the previous series of Black Ziggurat of Jalamere posts. 

[Get the free Swords & Wizardry (White Box) rules: http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/whitebox.htm] 


Writhing Masses & Worse
  1. Alkaline Ooze (1): HD 3, HP 16, AC 8[11], Atk 1 strike; Move 1, Save 16, HDE/XP5/240; Special: Immune to Heat, Cold, Spells, Stone, takes half-damage from metal, takes double damage from wood--item then bursts into flames.
  2. Crepuscular Crud (1):  HD 4; HP 30; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 Toxic Pseudopod; Move 2; Save 16; HDE/XP 6/400. Slow moving phlegm-like mass that drips a rancid-smelling lard-like venom. Save or be incapacitated with explosive dysentery for the next 1d4 minutes.
  3. Orb Cluster (1): HD 5; HP 26; AC 5[14]; Atk 1(see post but use only one); Move 3; Save 15; HDE/XP 6/400.
  4. Writhing Mass (Type II): 1d4 bulbous, pulsating pustule-like conglomerations of what appears to be disparate types of acne-pocked flesh that roll and flop along the ground like blind slugs, always seeking any living thing smaller than itself that it can enfold, crush and absorb.
  5. Raging Blob: 3,000 pounds of succulent gristle and sweet-smelling skin rougher than an elephant's rump comes rolling and tumbling down the nearest slope right at the party. If the blob can catch anyone on the roll, it will extrude tentacles and attempt to grapple with them, otherwise it will come to a stop close to the main cluster of the group and strike out at as many victims as it can reach at once. If a tentacle ensnares a victim (60%) it will attempt to reel them in towards a freshly opened mouth. If the tentacle pierces the victim, it will spew a larval froth into the wound and then rip the harpoon-like member free of the victim's flesh, doing double damage. Anyone 'frothed' by the Blob will need to make a Save or fall into a coma as their body transforms into a micro-blob producing factory...[Raging Blob Labyrinth Lord stats (+Paper Mini)]
  6. Starlit Mire (1): HD 3, HP 16, AC 8[11], Atk 1 Emanation of the Void; Move 0, Save 14, HDE/XP 5/240; Special: Anyone stepping into an area within a 30' radius of the Starlit Mire must Save or be exposed to the flesh-blasting cold of deep space. Should anyone be enveloped by the Mire for longer than 5 minutes, their corpse will be randomly teleported across space and time and lost forever.
  7. Rampant Flesh (1d4); HD 4; HP 30; AC 5[14]; Atk 2 Bulgy Pseudopods; Move 6; Save 16; HDE/XP 6/400. Autonomous masses of living flesh that crawl about bonelessly and malevolently across the sands looking for things to eat.
  8. Gelatinous Oblong (1): HD 3, HP 16, AC 8[11], Atk 1 Engulf; Move 6, Save 14, HDE/XP 5/240; Special: Dissolves all angular objects on a failed Save.
  9. You can hear the high-pitched call of someone screaming 'Tekeli Li! Tekeli Li!' out on the perimeter.
  10. A boulder-sized gobbet of reanimated giant-flesh. It quivers and jiggles threateningly in your direction. It has HP 43, but otherwise is unremarkable, aside from the odor of decay which will certainly attract wandering monsters. Anyone (or anything) attempting to consume this wretchedly rancid flesh has to make a Save against Death Magic or become a rotting zombie. Keep in mind that these zombies start out living, then rise again with +2 HD as enlarged undead zombies if they are killed. Those specimens that are dismembered form swarms of reanimated rotting body parts.
Jalamere Index

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Geomorphs (Update on Revised Series1)

We're assembling all of our previous Geomorphs into one master set in PDF form, as well as stripping them down and cutting them out so that they'll work better for Dave's Mapper. This has been more time-consuming than we originally counted on, but it's nearing completion, and we've learned a lot from this process so that when we start Series Two...we hopefully won't make as many mistakes as last time...

Live and learn.

Once we wrap-up the revisions to this first series of geomorphs, we'll move on to a fresh new series that will dovetail into a special exploration environment project we've been building for quite a while now.

But first, we need to get the old Geomorphs revised and out into the world where they can be put to good use.

As part of this revision effort, we're doing a brand-new set of Edges and Corners to add to each of the existing sets in the first series. We're debating whether to do one Edge and two Corners or two Edges and one Corner per sheet, with a full set of additional edges and corners thrown in on their own sheets. We're also revisiting the lay-out and we'd like to hear what you think of this approach...of course this sample lacks the Edges and Corners, but they'd run down the center. We'll update things once we have the lay-out nailed down once and for all.

Let us know what you think.


Fungal Tyrant

One cannot underestimate the ambition of fungus. They're not like us. What alien impulses motivate them to do the things they do? We'll probably never know. Pernicious pests, sumptuous repasts, hallucinogenic confounders of the young and impressionable. Alas, they are too much like us for either of our good...
Vintage Colloidal Argentotype print from the only surviving page of Laxrimosk's Cthonic Catalogue
Fungal Tyrant
No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: Zero
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4+
Attacks: 1d4
Damage: 1d4+1 (per each tendril-lash), or by spell/ability
Save: MU6 (2 levels above current HD)
Morale: 11

Special Abilities: Use the following spells at-will; Clairvoyance, Detect Invisible, ESP, Locate Object, Ventriloquism (only within Area of Awareness).

True subterranean hazards to navigation, Fungal Tyrants are the mature, easily visible fruiting-body form of a Fungal Drone that has take root. Once it has insinuated itself into a suitable location, these horrid creatures extend a network of cellular strands into the soil, infiltrating an area of up to a mile or more per HD. This net of filament-like strands acts as a sort of extended nervous system for the Tyrant, allowing it to observe everything that takes place within its personal Area of Awareness through a form of non-invasive ESP.

Deaf, mute and blind, these dreadful fungi abide in dark, damp places selected specifically to take best advantage of the prevailing conditions and terrain as places of ambush. They patiently wait in the dim gloom below for lost travelers, stragglers, or adventurers to prey upon. A well-established clutch of Fungal Tyrants can spur the creation of new tunnels and fresh passages in order to by-pass the monsters.

A Fungal Tyrant acquires INT, WIS and CHAR by consuming the dead brains of intelligent creatures whose bodies have been reduced into a noxious goo by the chemicals exuded by its extended cellular network. Often a Fungal Tyrant benefits from the deaths of creatures that never even knew one was near-by. This is why many Fungal Tyrants can be found near hotly contested underground passageways or key junctions along subterranean trade-routes, as well as forgotten catacombs, ancient grave-sites, and otherwise abandoned necropolises. Fungal Tyrants are not particularly picky about how they acquire brains.

A typical Fungal Tyrant will begin with the spell-casting capabilities of a Magic User of 1st-4th level (roll 1d4), and will improve one level per 2 HD gained through consuming brains.

It is suspected that there are more advanced versions of these monstrosities out there in the deep dark, but little is known and less confirmed, although the Journal of Admunth Delavorme contains a partially expurgated account of a conversation with a huge, old Fungal Tyrant and the afore-mentioned adventurer during which the creature offers to trade various incomprehensibly-named spells of dubious provenance for equivalent knowledge or teachings. It is unclear whether this account is a forgery, a hoax or a legitimate piece of evidence since the Sewer Militia seized the three known copies of the transcribed journal in manuscript form and no longer allow access to it under any circumstances.

There are also rumors of a stunted off-shoot or sub-type of the known form of Fungal Tyrant, colloquially called 'Fungal Bullies,' that are covered with vivid ochre or burgundy spots. These smaller (2HD+) creatures lack much of the spell-casting abilities of their larger brethren, but make up for it by their hyper-malevolent toxicity and ability to make anything within their Area of Awareness succumb to a form of rot very similar to that inflicted by mummies. In fact, ancient fragmentary records transcribed from clay tablets recovered from ancient subterranean ruins seem to indicate that these creatures may have more than a passing connection to certain forms of mummification, leading some less cautious scholars to assert that the rotting ability of some mummies may in fact be derived from these particular fungi. So far the three official expeditions that have set out to determine the accuracy of this hypothesis have all gone missing without a trace.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Ferruginous T-shirt

Ferruginous Blob T-shirt zazzle_shirt
Ferruginous Blob T-shirt by hereticwerks
Browse other Hereticwerks T-Shirts

Just in case anyone else thought that the Ferruginous Blob looked good on a black T-shirt...

Ferruginous Blob

Ferruginous Blob
No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 20' (6')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8 or by weapon (Plus rust effect)
Save: F2
Morale: 10

Weird amorphous horrors that lurk far beneath the mapped or traveled sections of the deep dark, Ferruginous Blobs are the degenerate spawn of things that withdrew from conventional subterranean society long, long ago in order to pursue their bizarrre vocation; they create peculiar, non-ferrous enchanted weapons suited pretty much only to their own use.

Acutely aware of vibration and magnetism, the Ferruginous Blobs also possess highly developed olfactory senses and have countless tiny overlapping taste-buds scattered randomly across their outer membranes. They can detect iron from more than a mile away. Even underground. And they have an unholy, unquenchable appetite for the stuff.

Any normal, non-enchanted iron or steel that comes into contact with a Ferruginous Blob will only do so once, which will allow weapons to inflict their damage, but then they will crumble into rust that the creature will attempt to absorb. Enchanted iron/steel gains a Save, and must lose its magical bonuses 1 at a time, as per a Rust Monster's attack (LL, p. 93-94).

A typical Ferruginous Blob will be wielding a +1 weapon fashioned from some strange alloy that might be an esoteric form of bronze, or something else entirely. So far the two samples recovered have defied all attempts at alchemical analysis.

Ferruginous Blobs usually gain an additional +1 bonus or extra special ability for their weapon every other HD.

According to some sources, these things gain extra HD from destroying enchanted steel weapons, but this is probably just another old Midwives' tale.

Vote For Us!

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Ectography

Ectography is an arcane technique used in capturing images of non-physical or trans-physical objects, items or entities. It originated with the ancient, crude  camera obscuras and skrying boxes used by phantasmagorists, mediums and evocationaries, but developed into its own thing fairly quickly as alchemists and others sought to replicate the results gained by some of the more successful mediums. Trial and error led to myriad breakthroughs and dead ends alike, but the conventional configuration of lenses, fluid condensers, mirrors, and heavily lacquered black boxes was arrived at more than seven hundred years ago, perhaps more than a thousand years ago if the claims of Archimbaldo and Lange are to be taken seriously. But since they also are the main proponents of some of the wilder paleo-astronomy theories currently in vogue among the more lurid publications, their claim as to the pedigree of ectography is somewhat in doubt.

Ectography makes use of a bitumen-based solution on glass plates, as with heliotropes, but it also relies upon a formulation of silver nitrate, as per daguerreotypes, and in addition it only works in conditions of darkness and in the presence of ectoplasm. The first models could only be worked by a physical medium, or with the assistance of one or more practising mediums, making it difficult to use and unwieldy in general. The use of certain salts in the formulation of the primary solution made the ectographic cameras usable by non-mediums. There is rigorous debate to this day over what formulation or solution is the best or most effective. Some ectographers prefer a preliminary bath of colloidal silver to prime their glass plates, others insist on necrocineris, black saltes, or even a derivative of White Powder, while still others will only work with a paste made from ground-up old mummies and certain 'secret ingredients' they insist must be compounded during certain phases of the moon. Certain schools teach their students to always use specific grades of incense for best results, others avoid smoke of all sorts and instead make use of pans of fresh-drawn blood, or even less wholesome methods. There are hundreds of different, competing formulations and techniques in use and each one has its merits; those methods that did not produce effective results were cast aside long ago. A direct predecessor of Haemotypes (see here for an example), the images produced by ectography are derived from ectoplasm, not blood. At least not directly.

Modern ectography combines a sort of psychometry with ectoplasmic senstivity, but now the camera-mechanism is at least as much the active medium as any sitter or ectopath that the ectographer might be employ. The cameras often become extremely sensitive due to long exposure to the various volatile compounds used in the process. Some cameras are reputed to have become haunted. Other have been confiscated for use as spirit-traps or worse. It is a volatile and complicated field, rife with competing adepts, (literally) cut-throat experts and not a few incautious dabblers or unscrupulous charlatans who often stir up a great deal of trouble, especially wherever there might be Horlas or Fantomists involved.

Ectography was originally established as a viable artistic method and technique well before the Midwives' Rebellion and has continued to grow, evolve and fragment into dozens of specializations, unique sub-disciplines and spin-off techniques that in some cases threaten to eclipse the old approaches with their newfangled ways of producing evocative images, whether they are capturing the impressions of dreams, showing the true face of those who are not what they seem, revealing otherwise invisible things, a dying man's last memories, the last thing seen by a murder victim, or some bizarre montage of disjointed impressions taken across planar membranes, through time, or even more outlandish and outrageous things. Ectographers are a strange lot, always pushing back the boundaries of what can be seen, often with a total disregard for whether or not these things should be seen, or the consequences of making such things visible.

Recent experiments in time-lapse ectography near some of the more stable Weak Points have revealed what may be a dangerous new approach to transplanar exploration...if the glass plates that survived the carnage that has left three ectographers dead and seven missing are any indication...

Spring in Wermspittle (IV)

School of Hard Knocks
For the first few weeks of Spring, professors and other scholars and academics tend to stay off the streets unless accompanied by bodyguards. Lots of bodyguards. Preferably big, scary ones. Wherever they go, the scholars and instructors are mobbed by scores of arrogant, earnest, precious, desperate applicants seeking entry into the Academy, the Colleges, the Schools or Clinics. Every expert, adept and master has their pick of the surfeit of fresh young things vying for some sort of a chance to prove themselves, any kind of opportunity to better themselves. Apothecaries and academics, surgeons and sorcerers all post their requirements and conditions for acceptance as an apprentice only to face an onslaught of applicants. Many hire extra staff just to handle all the eager young would-be apprentices. The majority of the legitimate opportunities are filled and spoken for within the first two weeks. Then the scammers, frauds, and agents of the Corruption Trade descend upon the disappointed and desperate remnants and left-overs before they fully realize that the parties are all over.

There are scholarships, of course, but qualifying for those is even more difficult than fighting one's way through the bureaucratic gauntlet and the impromptu extracurricular arenas. Those who fail the admissions tests, get passed-over or drop-out in the midst of the mad rush of would-be new students entering academia still have a shot at becoming an apprentice, intern or unpaid assistant. Not all professions require a degree or a diploma. Many can only be entered, legitimately, via an apprenticeship or period of scholastic indenturement. In some cases this is a real fast-track to power or fame, in others it is as much a dead end as delivering questionable meat to the Goules of Latterkamp in Winter.

A Bitter After-Taste
Quite a number of young people wake up to a harsh reality come the last two weeks of April. Those who have been admitted to the colleges, institutes and learning clinics have left them behind. The dancers have gone back to their regular jobs, the liquor is no longer flowing quite so freely and the landlords want to be paid. All those wagon-loads of provisions sent along with young Johan or Elsbeth by their parents are empty, picked clean by revelers. The teamsters have already headed out of town carrying loads of salvage or handicrafts to the trading camps of the few merchant caravans worth rendezvousing with before the onset of Summer.

Piper's Wages
For many young people it is a harsh way to wake-up. Dunners and debt-collectors seem to come out of the wood-work. Doors get locked and windows barred. The Patrols start making the rounds again. Things that were tolerated, even gleefully encouraged during the Revels get punished, often summarily and harshly. Vices that were freely catered to before are hard to find and expensive when the once-friendly peddlers are finally found. All that was free now comes at a stiff price. Loud noises attract unwanted attention. Even a smile can start a fight among strangers. But few such scuffles last for very long before the Patrol descends upon them and sorts it all out. Those with money can walk, those who are destitute can either take their chances in the pits or ask for the Low Court to assign them some municipal service. Most just get auctioned off to debt-collectors and usurers who like to invest in the futures of trouble-makers who show promise as fighters, gladiators, or other types of servants. The Dusk Bells ring once more and the old contraband water clocks start to keep track of the hours again. Order is to be restored. Time matters again. There is much work to do and only a short time left in which to get it all done before the frost comes back and the hard times descend like a shroud over the city.

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