Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mucoids Spotted at Swords & Stitchery...

Needles has expanded on the Mucoids quite a bit as part of his current Stars Without Numbers campaign. There's a Mucoid Confederacy out there in the Talon Sector and you can read all about it HERE. We're wondering just how close Talon Sector is to Lithus Sector now...this Mucoid Confederacy would be right at home on Lithus Prime...

Zahj


Inscrutible, malevolent beings who occupy space at angles slightly contrary to what we take for granted...they do not really belong among us...but they are here...after a fashion...and they are not happy about it one tiny bit...
Zahj
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Any (Evil)
Movement: 30' (Limited to mineral-based surfaces)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5 (can vary from 1 to 12)
Attacks: 1 (spell)
Damage: Per Spell
Save: E5
Morale: 9

Wicked things who really ought to be some place else, the Zahj peer out from the rough surfaces of old caves as easily as they scowl petulantly from within the cracked and filthy facades of dilapidated buildings. Their connection to this realm is superficial and soundless. Shallow. Murky. Limited. They can only interact with the here-and-now from within the textures of a surface. Silently. Like reflections caught within concrete, or a smoky face leering evilly from behind a section of worked stone as though it were a mirror or window. And indeed; matter, especially mineral-based substrates, are as windows to these jeering, japing, taunting things of hateful mien and bad intent.

Zahj will attempt to mimic, mock and imitate their victims like silent mimes. At first this might even be amusing, but it will quickly turn twisted and hurtful as the Zahj seek to intimidate or confuse their enemies so as to best set them up for a sucker-punch-style spell attack.

The Zahj cannot reach out past the surface within which they apprehend our reality, instead they rely upon spells...and subterfuge. They are never encountered away from some sort of mineral-based surface, and for some reason they cannot use mirrors nor anything made of glass. It is as though they cannot perceive glass. Perhaps it is some consequence of their disangled existence. In any case, as some Vampyriae cannot or will not cross running water, a Zahj will not or cannot extend their perceptions through glass.

It is rumored that the Zahj are susceptible to magical Darkness--it does not just blind them, it actually drives them back to their own realm. Of course this is just some vague bit of local folklore until someone actually puts it to the test...

Suggested Spells
Level 1: Cause Light Wounds, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Sleep, Ventriloquism.
Level 2: Curse, Hold Person, Silence 15' Radius, Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force.

Special: Breathless and Unexplainable Dread, Malign Thought Emanations, Malign and Particular Suspension of Natural Law, Unfix Boundaries, Vistas of Unplumbed Space.

A Zahj will typically have 1d4 spells per HD and tend to cast their spells as a 10th level Elf or Spell Caster/Magic User.

The End is Nigh: Halloween Sale at DriveThru RPG


DriveThruRPG Halloween

Seasons Greetings & BOO!!

Today is your last chance for Trick or Treating at the DriveThru RPG and related sites!Trick or TreatIf you have not searched high and low for the hidden jack-o-lanterns on DriveThruRPG,DriveThruComicsDriveThruFiction and WarGameVault you are missing out! Most of them have links to some free goodies from publishers, a few of them contain links to other interesting stuff...

Stop by the Drunken Goblin page for the details on sales like the following:

Many of these macabre markdowns end today, so don't miss out!

Happy Halloween

Four More Free eBooks for Halloween!

More Free eBooks for Halloween!

Titles below are FREE for Kindle Oct. 30 - Nov. 1

Don't have an Kindle? Read eBooks on your phone, tablet, PC, or Mac with the free Kindle software.
EatersThe Last MailmanAutobiography of a Werewolf HunterWinds of Change

Apparently if you are a Nook reader you should just go ahead, click through the images above, and get the books for Kindle (it helps their Amazon ranking). Then contact Permuted Press and ask for their free Halloween books for Nook. Note it will very likely take a few days for them to get back with you. 

Hand Puppet


Hand Puppet
No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: 30'
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1-4
Attacks: 1*
Damage: 1d4
Save: F8
Morale: 4

Special: On a modified attack roll of 20 or better a Hand Puppet envelopes the hand of their target, inflicting triple damage (3d4) and forcing the victim to make a Save or have their hand severed.

Creepy, foul-smelling and blood-soaked children's toys inhabited by unclean spirits with a taste for human hands. These wicked things shamble and flop about in the most ridiculous, almost comical manner. But no one is left laughing once they bite off someone's hand...


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lithus Sector: Telajan (Part Two)


Telajan (Coord. 06.01)
Part Two: Inner Zone Overview
Part One is Here.

Quick Recap: Telajan itself is a Type A White Giant Star, significantly brighter, hotter and more active than most similar stars in its category. But unlike most of its contemporaries, this star is surrounded by a massive cloud of dust and debris that abruptly stops right at the very threshold of the Habitable Zone. The Inner Zone of the Telajan System is a tempestuous, dense circumstellar-morass of dust, which would be more likely around an Asymptotic Giant Star, or around a star still caught-up in the process of developing its protoplanetary nebula. 


The Inner Zone

The Inner Zone is a region of hot dust that ends abruptly at the periphery of the star's Habitable Zone, where a loose belt of orbital pylons built by an unknown civilization contain and control the dust. At least that is if the findings from the three open source probes sent out to examine these Pylons are to be accepted.

Many leading authorities and Academic AIs reject the preliminary findings out of hand as unlikely and contrary to the known laws of physics, leading to an academic free-for-all as every crackpot theorist has come out of the woodwork to fling yet another half-baked argument into the swirling maelstrom of increasingly degraded and bowdlerized data. 

Anti-Corprists have a major source of spurious objections and rapid-fire legal challenges to any and every open effort or attempt to analyze and identify who actually built those Pylons and just what their role might be in this system. The leadership of the Anti-Corprists consider the exploration of the Pylons to be something they can use politically, one way or another, to further their questionable objectives. So far all they have managed to do is to drive all research into the mysteries of this solar system out of the public domain and into the closed labs and private projects of Merellon Corporation. A situation that has made many ask just what is going on. 

Merellon Corporation is engaged in a long term effort to study this system in detail, despite the constant sabotage and interference from outside agitators, anarchists and cultists who make increasingly bizarre, unverifiable claims regarding the Pylons, a supposed Precursor Species, and other such nonsense. What little information is publicly available regarding the Telajan System derives entirely from Merellon Corp.


Which makes sense, really.

Merellon Corporation holds a 93% interest in the Inner Zone of the Telajan system, as well as a 20% share of the Habitable Zone and a full 98% stake in the Outer Zone. They are the single largest vested entity within this solar system. What they do not own, they have tremendous influence over. A fact that the Corprik PR Teams do their best to downplay and dismiss as nothing to concern yourself over. But at the end of the day, this one Corporation remains the sole executive body overseeing the majority of this system's resources...and there are rumors that Merellon subsidiaries are diligently engaged in buying up any and every claim within this system, no matter how trivial, small or inconsequential it might be. This one rumor has set off something of a 'Claims Rush' within the margins of the Inner and Outer Zones where tramp prospectors and other vagabonds have sought to establish themselves in hopes of securing a corporate buy-out.

The effect upon the Habitable Zone has been horrendous and will be detailed in Part Three.


The Pylons

The Pylons are the single most commented upon aspect of this solar system. Very little is actually confirmed or known about them. No one knows for certain who built them, or how, or even really why...though there are a lot of theories regarding that, most of which are pure speculation, hogwash or just plain silly.

One fact that is known keenly is that the Pylons maintain the massive network of overlapping gravitational fields that keeps the hot dust and debris of the Inner Zone out of the Habitable Zone, just as the second ring of Pylons keeps the ice, dust and so forth in the Outer Zone from penetrating the life-bearing region of the system.

Just as nearly every other aspect of this system is hotly debated, questioned and challenged, it is abundantly clear that whomever built the Pylons did so in order to foster and protect the so-called Goldilocks Zone where liquid water forms easily and life has made itself at home.

In light of the ongoing efforts of the Anti-Corprists factions, The Board of Directors of Merellon Corp has authorized several covert, blacked-out missions to both the Inner and Outer Zones of the Telajan System. Despite the stringent safety protocols and usual corporate background screenings, agents from three different extremist factions have infiltrated some of these missions, compromising at least one of them. (See: White Out)

A Few Random Scenario Seeds for the Pylons
  • The Pylons exhibit distinct self-repair capabilities. A clandestine researcher working for some undisclosed wholly-owned (and thus disposable) subsidiary of Merellon Corp is quietly recruiting for the sorts of adventurous types who won't be missed very much. His project is completely off the record. He wants to see if he can damage a Pylon using some prototype weapons systems in the hopes of evoking some sort of response. A basic background check will reveal that this is the fifth clone of the researcher to attempt something like this...a fact that certain Anti-Corprist agitators very much want to alert him to, before it is too late. Of course Merellon CorpSec is watching over this asset. They consider it a total win-win scenario: either they get good data on the so far untested weapons, or they capture infiltrators.
  • The gravitational fields anchored and curated by the Pylons appear to be a sort of sponge-like structure somewhere between a sponge and a curled fractal. Curiously enough, intricate spiral patterns have been etched deep into nearly every xeno-archaeological site found within the Telajan System. Similar markings have been documented in several other systems including deep within the ruins recently found on Balajang (02.00) and at Kazix (02.01). Where else have these patterns been found? What is the connection? Could there really be some sort of star map or diagram for a type of 'psychic receiver' buried in all of these intricate swirlings, just as some of the less violent cultists and other Believers who are coming to Telajan on pilgrimages or at the behest of dream mentors. Could these symbols really unlock some sort of immaterial alien technology? If it is all just some fabulist fraud, then why have certain of the less flaky proponents of the 'dream machine hypothesis' gone missing or been found dead under suspicious circumstances?
  • There are thousands of Pylons just in the belt circling the Inner Zone. So far no one has been able to come up with a definitive census. This may be because the things keep moving, or perhaps there is something to the wild stories of a broken-down dust-skimmer who claims to be the only survivor of a team that was sent out to survey one of the Pylons as part of a Blacked-Out mission that has since been scrubbed from public record. He lost his arm back there, only, he claims, he didn't lose it; it's still attached, it just isn't in the same time/space as the rest of him any more.
  • MacReynolds claims to have a holographic map imprinted on his brain by squishy-looking aliens who abducted him nigh onto twenty seven years ago. At least he makes that claim whenever he's seriously drunk. Which is often. Everyone pretty much ignored him or humored him with a little bit of charity once in a while. Then one night he coughed loose a slick, blue dongle that really had been lodged in his sinuses. What other parts of his story are likewise true? Where is he now? What happened to the blue dongle? Where will all this lead?


Shipboard Encounters in Proximity to the Pylons
  1. Tramp prospector in a barely serviceable ship is in serious trouble. They tried to drag a sizable chunk of iridium-rich debris into the Habitable Zone from the Inner Zone. They've been experiencing a great deal more drag than they originally calculated or planned on. The drag is increasingly. Slowly. Inexorably. Soon the prospector's ship will be dead in space, and if any of the onboard AI's projections are accurate, they'll start going backwards, even against full thrust. They refuse to release the rock. One of the crew has triggered a distress call. Tensions are high among the six contractors and three vested owner-employees aboard the ship. Systems are failing. Morale is crashing. And someone has decided to make use of this momentary lapse in leadership to settle a few old scores. The first body was just discovered five minutes after the distress call was sent.
  2. Sixteen Kliks wide and rapidly expanding, a cloud of metalfoil seedlings stream past as they accelerate to escape velocity. It may be possible to capture one of the things as it passes by your ship. People claim to have done it after all. There are several hundred clips uploaded to the local Net showing how various crews have attempted to do this, but most of these clips look fake. You'll only get one shot at this, so you can't afford to waste too much time scrounging through bad video footage trying to figure out how best to catch a seedling. But if you do succeed...you'll be famous for a few minutes as the proud owners of a larval-stage solar sail that you can either auction off or outfit however you like (or can afford) as a living starship.
  3. A cloaked mine just erased a section of your ship's hull. The good news is that your ship's auxiliary systems have the situation under control. The bad news is that there might be 1d6 more of these mines in the immediate area. Who the hell uses such things any more? And why would anyone string a set of these obsolete weapons way out here? Could it have anything to do with the reports of an unregistered slivership prowling about in this region?
  4. Crash Alert claxons blare. Some idiot just dumped a CraShell out of Intraspace and it is headed right for your ship. It is blacked-out, unlisted, no transponders, scrubbed of any identification. It appears occupied. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, it fires thrusters and reorients itself on a trajectory your systems project will take it directly on a crash-course for the nearest Pylon. If you do decide to follow it, all your Comms will be jammed by the ECM package that will go live as the CraShell reaches the point of no return. Who is in that thing? What are they doing? How will the Pylon respond?
  5. Your transponders are being pinged by the Main Node at the center of a missile-cloud. It doesn't like your current course. You have been warned. Either change your course or it will begin to launch missiles at your ship. Your sensors confirm the presence of antimatter...
  6. The Socratic Sodality of Silan has placed a data-relay buoy out here to stake their claim to...oh...never mind. It would appear that the buoy has drifted off-course drastically over the last three hundred sixty seven years. But now that you've stirred its autorepair systems back online it'll soon be on its way to re-stake the (possibly) defunct group's claim on a chunk of rock deep within the Inner Zone.

Six Encounters At/On the Pylons
  1. That black bulge over by the far Pylon is moving. It seems to have spotted you, as it is moving in closer quite fast. It is heavily shielded. Your scans begin to crash even as they report military-grade ECM going into effect. Whatever this thing is, it is big, fast and armed for bear and looking for a fight. Right now, you are its target.
  2. Less than a thousand Kliks out from the base of the Pylons is a freshly-made crater. Initial indications are that the wreckage billowing out from the impact-point are the shattered remains of a disposable bulk ore scow. It might have been empty when it struck. Or it might have been carrying something looking to use the impact to obscure their tracks. Investigating the wreckage turns up evidence of robotics. Proscribed alien robotics that are not supposed to even exist any more, according to official records. But how did this sort of contraband get here? And why?
  3. Six heavily armed mercs from the D-List outfit Ma Turner's Turncoats have just stepped out from under a signal-skipping umbrella. Now that they register on your systems...what do you want to do about it? They don't appear to be immediately hostile.
  4. Three Achernarians are huddled together in a small EmergiSphere. Their ship was hijacked while they investigated the Pylon. They claim to have no idea who took their vessel. They also don't have a lot to say about what they might have discovered. They do want to rent time on your CommSystem to contact a 'friend' and request them to come rescue, or rather recover them. The address they use is a hardened blackwared military site. The 'friend' they've signaled is a warship on station just North of the Ecliptic. They'll be here in five minutes.
  5. Twelve Anti-Corprist radicals have pooled their resources in order to rent an Orbital Skipper. Usually these things aren't brought this close to the Inner Zone, as they are relatively fragile, civilian vehicles intended for use in-between orbital installations, habitats and cylinders. These radicals have stolen some off-schedule weapons from an unscrupulous but sympathetic alien merchant. They are hunting down a pair of Merellon Corp agents whom they believe are on their way to this Pylon on a mission they have not been briefed about. The radicals feel that they are on a need-to-know-basis, so the less they know, the better they can carry out their missions. There is a base 1 in 6 chance of these gun-happy would-be killers mistakenly identifying someone in your crew as one of the Merellon Agents. There is also a chance that you really do have a Merellon sleeper agent in your midst. Or you might have a member from some rival outfit who is working as an infiltrator, using your crew as a cover, while they work their way into position as part of some long-term plan. Or...
  6. Originally there had been twenty contestants. Now, a week later, there are four. Five, if you count the girl in a coma. These people are all unarmed civilians. They're under intense steady-state surveillance as part of a game show being broadcast live across the Net. Smile; you're the newest members of the cast...

Six Encounters Within the Inner Zone
  1. Hot dust sleets through the immediate area, stirring up all manner of electromagnetic mayhem in its wake.
  2. Gravitaitonal Anomaly: your ship has been displaced 1d6x1,000 miles clockwise around the Inner Zone. Apparently there is no damage, and your ship's systems will compensate for the sudden shift...but how's your fuel or energy reserves?
  3. 3d6 boulder-sized bits of random debris tumble by. One of them might contain some potentially useful ore, but the other boulders are seething with highly unstable radioactive isotopes, making any effort to extract tricky and dangerous.
  4. Immature metalfoil seedlets have a base chance of 1 in 6 of striking your ship as they roughhouse and jockey for the best place from which to unfurl their reflective surfaces and shoot out across the system to the rich reserves of ice and other such things in the Outer Zone.
  5. A huge wavefront of hot dust moves in, scrambling all comms and sensors. 
  6. Waves of intense hard radiation boil across your ship as a direct consequence of the birthing of another pod of metalfoil seedlets. You may have just glimpsed an aspect of their life-cycle no one has ever even suspected. But what do you intend to do with the data your systems have collected? Who'd want it? What would they do with it? Do you care?


Twenty Free eBooks for Halloween

Just Three of the Books Available...
Koehler-Hintz Publishers Inc. (KHP ) are giving away TWENTY of their eBooks in Kindle format on October 30th and 31st. No contests. No hoops to jump through. Just TWENTY FREE eBOOKS that you can go and get right now! All you have to do is click over to their site and pick and choose which titles you want to try out (or grab them all!), and download them.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem! There is a free app or software to read them on pretty much any device. Go HERE and grab what you need at no cost. There's no risk involved! Aside from possibly some missing time, feelings of dread, or persistent nightmares...but hey; it's Halloween! Enjoy!

Still note sure about this? Here's a list of some of the authors who have eBooks involved in this give-away:

daniel-i-russell.blogspot.com

www.garrycharles.co.uk

www.james-newman.com

jennifercloud.com

jerrodbalzer.com

www.johneverson.com

Juan McGowen: Facebook

khkoehlerbooks.wordpress.com

Laura Cooney

www.sff.net/people/llsoares

Mike Jones: Facebook

richristow.blogspot.com

Roy C. Booth: Facebook

scottcolbert.wordpress.com

sdhintz.com

www.williammeikle.com

Thank you to all of these authors, and to KHP for doing this wonderful Halloween eBook Give-away!

On This Day in 1938...





You don't need ergotized rye, Salem-style witchcraft, or even Cthulhu to stir-up some real mass hysteria. All it takes is a decent script, some voice actors and radio. Oh and someone like Orson Welles or perhaps whomever really wrote the six installments of the Great Moon Hoax.

Re-listening to this classic radio broadcast is a fun Halloween-time thing to do. Especially while we're working on a few more Mucoid posts. But even while we're finishing-up a map of a Mucoid Cylinder, and jotting down doodles for possible tripod-designs, there's something intriguing about taking this sort of thing 180 degrees in the other direction and making it all one big hoax or hallucination, either orchestrated by nefarious ne'er-do-wells with some sort of anarchistic scheme of fomenting maximum chaos and panic (like Trey's Reds or Shaver's Dero?), or maybe it is all part of a sinister plan being put into operation by some evil Fu Manchu-type genius...or maybe it's just a bad batch of contaminated beer or bread, spreading weird visions thanks to the chemical peculiarities of some new strain of fungi accidentally discovered in the depths below some ancient ruins of a Lost City purported to be the ruins of some unknown pre-human race...

In the meantime, Watch the Skies and if you need a bit more Martian cheer during this most wonderfully frightful time of the year, go check out...

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nguema

Nguema
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral (Evil)
Movement: 90' (120')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6
Save: F1/MU3
Morale: 12

Special: Every 3 points of damage inflicted by a Nguema also inflicts a cumulative -1 penalty to Morale Checks. Those individuals (such as retainers) who fail their Morale Check (even if it isn't made until after the adventure is completed), must Save or transfer their loyalty to the Nguema, whom they will now consider accepting as their employer and benefactor. Since the Nguema tend to pay very well, this will often result in a serious bout of labor relations turmoil, defection, desertion and outright abandonment. More than one would-be conquistador or plunderer has instead hired-on with the Nguema to serve them as mercenaries...

Slave-Master: ESP, Cause/Remove Fear (on touch), Cure Disease (once/day), advances as fighter 2 levels below current HD, has effective Charisma of 16-18 in regards to Retainers and Retainer Morale.

Spell-Slug: ESPCause/Remove Fear (on touch), Cure Disease (once/day), advances as magic-user of level equal to HD, has effective Charisma of 13-18  in regards to Retainers and Retainer Morale.

Tthe Nguema originate within the reeking depths of the jungles and mangrove swamps along the southern coastline of Ambrool, one of the Western-most isles within the Archipelago of Scattered Jewels. Blind, emotionless beings, these invertebrate tyrants slither about guided by incredibly developed senses of hearing and touch.

Smooth and glistening with a thin layer of greasy slime, the Nguema deftly and quickly slip through tight spots and constricted spaces with the greatest of ease. When constructing their own redoubts or refuges, the Nguema make full use of this capability in order to make their innermost sanctums incredibly treacherous and difficult to navigate for any invaders.

Nguema slime hardens into a variety of consistencies and textures based upon the direct manipulation of this substance by the Nguema secreting it. One of the most common things Nguema do with their slime is to form pseudo-pearls that retain some slight healing properties, which they use as currency and trade tokens. The inner-most sections of a Nguema lair are lined with several overlapping varieties of pearl-like material. Certain individuals have been known to dabble at sculpting their slime into elegant pseudo-pearl armor, weapons or works of art that they then used to pay their followers or to trade with foreign merchants.

Nguema breath through their skin, much like frogs, and are able to acquire breathable oxygen when submerged within brackish water or while immersed within river mud equally well. They cannot be drowned, but they can suffocate and both salt and gas-based attacks tend to do double damage to Nguema.

Nguema Fighter/Slave-Masters use ESP to direct their servants, slaves and hirelings to fight on their behalf. Nguema spell-casters reserve their own spells, preferring to only accept the service or servitude of other spell-casters. Neither of the two main Nguema castes use tools or weapons personally, as a matter of principle. This prohibition apparently does not include the swallowing or embedding of enchanted gems or pearls that the Nguema can then use much as other species use magical rings or amulets.

Introduction | Map | Index | Player's Guide


Saturday, October 27, 2012

A'achael (From The Sketchbook)

A'achael
No. Enc.: 1d8 (4d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (50%)/Neutral (50%)
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 2 (claw/bite plus adhesive tongue, or by weapon)
Damage: 1d4/1d4+2/see below*
Save: F4
Morale: 10

Special Attack: A'achael possess sticky tongues that they can shoot out to a distance of 10-14'. Their tongue strikes as a +2 weapon, does no damage, but forces a Save or it adheres to the target, allowing the A'achael to attempt to either drag them closer for a follow-up attack, or to trip them or otherwise disable/disarm their victim, as the situation or occasion warrants.

Tinted six shades of blue, the A'achael are stout, sturdy reptiles who make themselves equally at home in dense forests, lush jungles, coastal marshes or even some of the more moderate desert regions, such as the fortified oases found scattered through the Red Wastes, where they often are persecuted and tormented by Zurians who despise them as barely better than animals.

A'achaels claim that their people once were able to selectively or reflexively change the coloration of their skins (there are opposing views), and that from time to time a throw-back is born that can shift their hue in order to blend into their environment, but this has become a rare thing. Seeing as no specimen has ever been presented to creditable authorities, most experts consider this so much folklore and mostly a spurious claim.

One peculiar talent that has been noted among the spell-casting members of the known A'achael tribes along the Red Wastes in particular is their ability to manipulate the coloration of inert objects and sometimes even living beasts. The effect seems to be permanent, and causes no damage to those things affected by it. For the most part those A'achael who have this ability use it to unfairly compete with dyers who rely on more traditional techniques. This has led to more than a few incidents of violence in those cities where the A'achael have made significant inroads into the marketplace.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Witches Take Flight

Witches Flight GoyaMr. Brannan over at The Otherside blog has released his magnum opus of a sourcebook detailing The Witch as a character for Basic Era Games such as BECMI, Labyrinth Lord, etc. This project has been roiling and boiling away in Brannan's cauldron for quite some time and it shows. You can check out a nice little PDF Preview of the book HERE, or just click over to Drivethru RPG to buy the book. Just going from the Preview alone, it would appear that Mr. Brannan covers a great deal of territory, offers the reader a ton of interesting options and avoids the usual pit-falls and failings.

Maybe now we can get past the obligatory naked, green-faced cackling hags riding hay-forks through the moonlight blighting crops, curdling milk and tempting the (supposedly) virtuous into the depths of a hitherto unsuspected Invisible World...or not...

There are several different Traditions available, rules for ritual magic, covencraft, new monsters, new treasures, and some advanced options--quite a lot of intriguing-sounding stuff.

We don't do a lot of reviews, but in this case, we may make an exception once we get our hands on a full copy of the final product...

Black-Sack

Black-Sack
No. Enc.: 1d6
Alignment: Neutral (Evil)
Movement: 1-10'
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1-3
Attacks: 1
Damage: See Below
Save: F1-3
Morale: 11

Special: On a successful attack a Black-Sack does no damage, but instead injects powerful enzymes into the flesh of their victim that rapidly liquefy flesh at a rate of one pound of flesh liquefied per HD of the Black-Sack. It is left to the DM's discretion as to what area(s) are affected [any basic hit location chart will do fine].

Sluggish lumps of rancid-smelling scum, a Black-Sack looks just like its name-sake, for the most part. dozens of small, dull pinkish-mauve smooth, worm-like pseudopods writhe and wriggle about from the underside of the thing. In torch-light the pinkish things glisten with syrupy liquid.

Old Miners often claim that there are cooks who learned how to properly prepare Black-Sacks as a delicacy, while others are alleged to have worked-out the proper proportions for using a dilute form of these creature's juices as a tenderizer, allowing them to make use of otherwise unusable meat during especially lean times...there are also tales that various curative concoctions can be made from these things, if one knows how to handle them without getting melted into so much goo...

The enzymes go inert extremely quickly once exposed to air, which has made it very difficult for kobolds and others to make effective use of these juices on their darts and javelins. So far. If someone were to finally figure out some way to stabilize these juices, perhaps in some sort of a paste or ointment, things could get interesting...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 48

Previously...
Bujilli and his small band of adventurers returned to Idvard's Keep. Their mission complete. The lower Portcullises were secure. They had rescued Bortho's mate, even delivered his child. Just as they had they re-entered the ground-level commons, they were confronted by a dozen labor-drones equipped with spears and under the command of a conniving Pallid sub-leader named Ajjmae. They were quickly brought back up to the Observatory Chamber, where Idvard had set-up his base of operations and where the Weak Point leading back to Wermspittle was located. There they were brought before Leeja's sister, Niobe. It was not a tender reunion...

Niobe hissed in outrage.

Leeja laughed.

Combat drones filed into the Observation Chamber. Dozens of them. They quickly took up positions so as to completely surround the Pallid troops ostensibly under Niobe's command. Those troops closest to Ajjmae's unconscious figure sprawled on the floor before Bujilli inched away to either side as unobtrusively as possible.

"You have trespassed upon my home." Idvard floated into the room, flanked by an elite bodyguard of four-armed fighting-drones and a pair of Nirlock attendants. The fighting-drones all carried a combination of gonnes, blades and hand-axes. They also wear armored. The Nirlocks wore heavy mittens and carried bulky draped objects. They could be cages of a sort. Perhaps.

"Your home?!" Niobe snarled.

"Yes." Idvard floated further into the room, his three eyes quickly taking in every detail.

"By what right--"

"What right do you assert to defend your actions?" He spoke clearly, precisely. Like a lawyer in a trial.

"Our Masters--"

"Are not here. Nor do they have any legitimate claim on this property."

"They built--"

"No. They did not build this structure."

"A technicality. This Keep was built by their vassals and slaves--"

"Untrue. This Keep was built by a band of Morlocks who rejected, resisted and rebelled against your Masters. They built this Keep as a free people."

"There is no freedom. No one leaves the service of the Pallid. Not even the dead can escape."

"Yes. They do cultivate a rather grim reputation, don't they. Yet you freely chose to serve them--"

"Choice? You dare use that word to describe it? Ha. The only freedom my sister or I ever knew was the freedom to starve, to be hated, feared, hunted..."

"But your sister did not sell--"

"A word of caution Triloo: I will not be judged nor lectured by you. My sister chose her path. I chose mine. Let that be the end of it."

"No."

Everyone turned to look at Bujilli.

"You need to leave. Now." He grinned crookedly at Niobe.

She regarded him cooly. Dismissively. Then realization hit her.

"Ajjmae..."

"He's awake. Only pretending to be choked out." Bujilli kicked him in the belly.

Ajjmae wheezed. Rolled away from Bujilli. Rose to his feet. Brushed off his robes.

Studiously ignored Niobe.

"He's already given the order to his troops. You're no longer in command. He has reported your failure to your Masters. You are to be eliminated."

"Is this true?" Growled Niobe. Suddenly she stood before Ajjmae. One hand grabbed a bunch of robe, pulling him forwards, off balance, teetering on the tips of his toes. Her other hand. Claws. Poised before his bulging eyes.

Ajjmae tried to look away.

"It is true." Spoke up one of the troops.

Niobe glared at the trooper.

She looked at all the Pallid troops in the room. One after another. As though memorizing their face, their features, the configuration of their personal aura. They remained stationary, unmoving. Immobile. Unwilling to commit to an uncertain outcome. She turned her baleful gaze back to Ajjmae.

Milky, pinkish-white blood gushed. His body collapsed to the carpet. The scent of something sickeningly  sweet filled the space. Bujilli sneezed.

Ajjmae's head landed at the feet of the trooper who had spoken-up.

Niobe seethed in rage. Her hair flared out like a corona of tendrils. A nimbus of white hot death.

"You can have your Keep. May you rot in it." Niobe turned on her heel and headed for the spiral ramp way down to the main concourse and the commons area.

The Pallid troops shifted nervously. A few began to whisper or mutter.

The trooper who'd spoken up before broke ranks.

"What are we to do?"

Niobe stopped. Turned. Laughed.

"I don't much give a damn."

She was at the ramp. Then she was gone.

Silence.

Bujilli glanced at  Leeja.

She looked away so as to prevent him seeing her cry.

He looked at the twenty Pallid troops encircling him and his group. The small horde of combat-drones surrounding them. Idvard and his new retinue.

"Well now. Since you are well and truly surrounded I suggest that you surrender. No need to get the carpet any more filthy than it already is..."

The Pallid troops stood rigidly in place.

Bujilli watched them. He realized that they were conferring, probably arguing among themselves telepathically.

The trooper who'd spoken up previously stepped forward. He looked at Bujilli and Leeja, Bortho, his mate and child.

"You have us surrounded. But we have hostages." As one the Pallid troops went back to back, the wand-wielders faced towards Bujilli and his little group, the others presented their glaive-form weapons outwards, toward the mass of combat-drones pressing in upon them.

"Really? This is your notion of a good idea?"

"What? What are you saying?"

"How long did you serve alongside Niobe?"

"Several weeks..."

"And during that time you witnessed what she is capable of, correct?"

"Well yes..."

"And you saw how she and her sister quickly fought themselves to a stand-still?"

"Yes..."

"You do realize that Niobe's sister is right in there with you all?"

Three troops threw down their weapons.

Confusion. Fear. Their resolve was undermined by internal divisions, worm-eaten by Ajjmae's underhanded double-dealing, compromised by the loss of their leadership. Worse than any of that, for them, were their final orders as received by Ajjmae. Failure had doomed Niobe as surely as his betrayal had destroyed Ajjmae himself. Already under censure for past misdeeds, both real and recorded, the Pallid troops were now faced with a spectacular instance of gross insubordination, attempted mutiny on the part of their sub-leader, an unthinkable desertion by their leader...

There was little future for them in Aman Utal.

Two more troops laid-down their weapons and held up their hands in surrender.

Four more.

Five.

Idvard waited patiently for the soldiers to fully appreciate their situation.

It had all gone so terribly wrong, so horribly fast, without a single shot fired or any sort of melee at all.

"If you fight; you will die. If you return to your Masters. They will not be pleased. you will no doubt wish you had died, from what I have heard of their methods." Idvard considered the disgraced and discredited troops all in disarray. Some were ready to fight. A few seemed content to sell their lives dearly. But not all were quite so fatalistic. More were surrendering. As a group, a fighting unit, they were defeated. Morale had broken them more devastatingly than any opposing force had ever managed to accomplish ever before,

Idvard pointed to the trooper who had spoken up.

"You mention hostages. An interesting point. Your Masters certainly will not pay for your release. But you might consider ransoming yourselves. I am a reasonable person after all."

"Ransom?" he flinched.

"But of course. You are trespassing. You are out-numbered. You no longer have any authority, no leadership, no mandate or any sort of legitimacy. I can do anything I like to you now and your Masters won't so much as lift an eyelid let alone a finger to do anything about it whatsoever."

The trooper hung his head. Things would have been different, very different indeed, if they had not gone along with Ajjmae and poisoned all their sergeants.

Now they were lost.

At the mercies of some inhuman petty lordling who commanded an small army of drones.

"Would you accept our--"

"Don't even think of it. You're traitors. Every last one of you. Disgraced. Discredited. You were placed under Niobe's command in order to humiliate you, gall you, motivate you to redeem yourselves. You might even have done so, if you hadn't fallen for Ajjame's foolish scheme. He really couldn't abide serving below some unsanctioned, only partly human creature, could he?"

"No." The trooper shook his head in disgust at how far they had fallen. All because of a conniving minor noble with pretensions of grandeur and an aggrieved ego.

"We have little besides our servi--"

"Spare me. You may each retain one weapon. I suggest that you make a pile of your personal items on my table here," Idvard gestured casually to the big trestle table, "and if the lot of you manage to make it interesting enough, quickly enough, I will be inclined to leniency. But if you drag this out any further, I'll simply have my drones pick through your corpses. In fact..."

The troops began placing pouches, belts, packs, pearls, gems, scrolls and more on the table. Some carefully, others tossed their offerings into the mix with little to no enthusiasm.

But they did not drag things out.

Idvard nodded. Gestured. A spell shimmered and swirled outward from his outstretched hand. Bujilli could taste a soft purple-ness in the air. He remembered the smell of dream-snail blood. The spell billowed forth as a murky, cloudy non-mist that drizzled down upon the unlucky soldiers.

The Pallid troops collapsed. One after another. Asleep. Deeply, profoundly asleep.

The combat-drones went into action. They picked up each one of the defeated troops and carried them away.

Towards the Weak Point.

Toward Wermspittle...


And now perhaps Bujilli and Leeja can settle accounts with Idvard. Or at least make their report.

Maybe we can find out where Bortho's people have gone?
Just what really did happen to them?
What is his mate's name?

Niobe has left the Keep...but where will she go?
Will she return to Aman Utal? Or will she go elsewhere? Out into these ruins of an alternate Wermspittle perhaps?

Will Bujilli and Leeja return to Wermspittle now?
Or will they stick around and handle a few more loose-ends for Idvard?
Maybe they'd like to help Bortho locate his missing people?
Or track down Niobe, perhaps?
Or something else?

You Decide!

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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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rothaube (Red Bestiary)

Rothaube
"Red Hood"

No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d4)
Alignment: Any Evil
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2d4+
Attacks: 1 (Weapon or spell)
Damage: 1d4 or weapon (+poison)
Save: F1
Morale: 5

Tiny twisted little degenerates, the Rothaube (lit."Red Hood") prowl the back alleys of run-down towns or sometimes they can be met as they caper and prance along certain gloomy by-roads along the fringes of settled areas. Best not to cross their path though.

Rothaube move silently like thieves or Bugbears, strike suddenly and often times by surprise, and are expert in the fine art of backstabbery (they advance as thieves, assassins or dual-classed magic user/assassins).

But it is not their steely knives, their eerie stalking talents, nor their penchant for slitting throats that have garnered these wicked, bloodthirsty little beasts their much deserved evil reputation. What strikes fear into those unfortunate enough to encounter the Rothaube is their ability to cause Sleep Paralysis, enter their victims dreamstate and mutilate, torment and torture them horribly. And the Rothaube have a penchant for inflicting suffering.

Sleep Paralysis: Not quite a spell in-and-of-itself, this weird ability allows the Rothuabe to inflict paralysis upon anyone already asleep, much like how a Ghoul immobilizes its victims. This effect persists for as long as the victim continues to fail to Save every 2d4 turns.

Invade Dreamstate: Rothaube have the innate psychic ability to trespass upon the dreams of their victims, allowing them to inflict hideous torments upon their victims. Using this ability allows the Rothaube to destroy one point of CON, one point of WIS, or one Hit Die; this effect only becomes permanent on the third night of their 'visiting' a victim. The target does gain a Save to avoid the loss becoming permanent. Failing this Save results in the victim aging 1d20 years. In addition, those affected by the Rothaube's unkindly attentions cannot recover hit points, nor heal any wounds during the time they are affected.

Oneiric Torment: A Rothaube has the uncanny ability to convert all physical damage they cause with their weapons to fade away, as if nothing happened at all, until the victim goes to sleep, at which point all the damage accrues all at once. Should the victim Save, this damage remains only physical. If they fail, the damage affects their WIS or CON, destroying 1 point of either attribute per 8 points of damage inflicted by the Rothaube. Often this is only temporary, though there are cases where the damage was so severe as to be permanent. In any case, recovery from this sort of thing is difficult, often requiring professional care, possibly hygienic confinement, or possibly the utilization of radical medical techniques, sorcery or the care of a knowledgeable Midwife. Those who have suffered from such an assault on their person by the Rothaube retain something of a connection to the vile little miscreants, allowing them to Detect Rothaube within 120' as a special ability. And yes, of course, this works both ways. When the Rothaube mark a victim, they stay marked.

Rothaube prefer Charm Person, Sleep, ESP, Knock, SlowHold Person, and Feeblemind over all other common spells. They will grant a potential victim a temporary reprieve in exchange for a scroll or spell-book containing any of these spells. Of course such bartering with the Rothaube is a capital offense in most civilized places...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lithus Sector: Telajan (06.01) [Part One]

Telajan (Coord.: 06.01)
System Overview, Part One

Telajan is a Type A White Giant star, larger (nearly triple the mass of Sol) and more vibrant than Altair, Vega or Sirius. There is evidence that there might have been a companion star to Telajan, based upon evidence collected and collated over the last seven hundred years or more...but so far no one has been able to ascertain what happened to it. Stars typically do not just disappear. This system also shows substantial evidence of radical stellar-scale engineering by some as-yet unidentified 'precursor' species*.


IZ
The Inner Zone of the Telajan System is a tempestuous, dense circumstellar-morass of dust, which would be more likely around a Asymptotic Giant Star, or around a star still caught-up in the process of developing its protoplanetary nebula. But then, just as mysteriously, the Inner Region of circumstellar dust ends abruptly at the periphery of the star's Habitable Zone, thanks in large part to a series of gravitational anomalies, what appear to be an elliptical ring of massive pylons that interact with the circumstellar dust, redirecting it, containing it, perhaps even acting as a source for more dust--studies of these structures are inconclusive and disjointed due to the efforts of Anti-Corprists and other out-system agitators and anarchist elements that have been disrupting and sabotaging the efforts of Merellon Corporation to study this system in detail.

HZ
There are five planets within the Habitable Zone. Merellon Corporation claims three of them and has been moving to annex the other two, legally, for the last two hundred years. Their efforts have continually been thwarted by a combination of several species of local home-grown resistance movements (none of which cooperate), and an ongoing influx of outside trouble-makers and mischief-peddlers who find themselves attracted to the lurid allure of fighting the good fight, leading the downtrodden masses, or subverting the Corprists. The very phrase 'Gone to Telajan,' implies a romantic notion of siding with the under-dog and joining the fight against Posthuman Oppression, Transhuman Suppression, and what some anonymous poet has described as a 'Noble, necessary, if likely doomed struggle against the insidiously encroaching forces of dehumanization.' Several very popular vidcasts have likened the situation in the Teljan system as being something akin to the revisionist version of the Spanish Civil War, the Alamo, or the February revolution. One particular netdrama coined the expression 'See You in February,' which has since become a sort of catch-phrase for individuals who have decided to cash-out, withdraw and head to Telajan to join the struggle. Of course the 'struggle' is scrupulously never clearly defined in any such netcast serial, in order to avoid any legal repercussions. Hundreds of these wannabe revolutionaries descend upon Telajan only to find themselves stuck in make-shift favelas and scav-fab slums where they must cobble together their own underground movement using whatever resources or skills they brought with them. Most only had enough credit to make it a one-way trip. Merellon Corporation has invested a great deal of time, money and effort to combat the persistent memes, pernicious nonsense and propaganda circulating across the Sector and beyond, but they cannot stem the tide of idealistic would-be freedom fighters an others drawn to the myth of what Telajan ought to be...

OZ
The Outer Zone of the Telajan System resembles the Inner Zone, only it is a massive disk of dust and ice. Nearly every published study or survey confirms that this region is the remnant of a densely-packed and artificially-maintained Accretion Disk. A series of gravitic anomalies--more of those Pylons--occupy the inner-circumference of the Outser Zone, serving in a similar role as the ones that manage the fluctuating dust of the Inner Zone.


What is Currently Known
Who Built These Pylons?
Merellon Corporation has developed a massively multinode Observational Matrix within the Telajan system. this project is a marvel of combined datascaping, evolutionary network architecture and crowd-sourcing...however the program continually runs afoul of willful sabotage, deliberate mis-entries, and other forms of malicious spamming by the disaffected cells, cliques, cadres and collectives in circulation through the Habitable Zone. A specific, dedicated Department within Merellon Sec-Section has been charged with analyzing the teraflops of data generated by the Observational Matrix Program.

Data Police do not bother with any local disturbances; they focus solely and entirely upon maintaining the unimpeded flow of data and the protection of all Program Assets. Spamming is a capital offense under the Civil Authority in effect upon Aldrin, most of Mattigar, and Shelg.

Recent Developments
Several Departments within Merellon Corporation have taken an interest in events transpiring around the Mov system (05.00). This preoccupation with mysterious events outside the Telajan system has emboldened various entrenched moles, sleeper-cells and other clandestine operatives who have launched dozens of overlapping, often contradictory and uncoordinated attacks, acts of sabotage, protests, pranks, and small-scale insurrections that have claimed entire office-suites for several hours while the agitators and provocateurs hold meetings, elect officers, vote on amending their charters or adopt stern measures to counter creeping irrelevancy and viewer ennui. All these Revolutions are broadcast across the Nets live. Few have gained any real traction. Yet.

Dozens of would-be revolutionary councils have issued hundreds of manifestos, political tracts, brochures, Netsites, and so on. Most of this material is usually caught by the Merellon Corporation's Filters. Most. A slow, relatively minor trickle of crack-pot gibberish has leaked for decades. A few small Infotainment Re-packagers have contented themselves with processing these disparate signals and garbled screeds into low-level programming to flesh-out their community-service mandates on some of the more community-conscious worlds or systems. Pretty lame, tame stuff. Until recently. Some bright-eyed idealist recently arrived to the contra-favelas of Mattigar has managed to up the bandwidth of what gets past the Filters. A lot more stuff is getting through than ever before...

Immediate Repercussions and Subsequent Events
No less than fifteen different mercenary companies have been contacted, contracted and/optioned to come to Telajan to join in the great struggle. Most of the high-end outfits have declined, usually after running a credit-check and discovering that their supposed employers are not registered as authentic governments, nor do they have any real credit available to them. A few less-disciplined (or perhaps financially desperate) units have struck out for Telajan based on the blandishments, promises and rhetoric (read: monetary inducements)  the various revolutionary groups have pitched at them.

Drastically 'revised' and politically-scrutinized documentary footage of the deplorable conditions of the down-trodden masses who are languishing under the chromalloy heel of despotic machine-societies, hypersapiens, or other transhuman or posthuman forces--many entirely fabricated by the revolutionaries in order to best create an environment conducive to their message being received and appreciated.

Several Posthuman societies have recently noticed the peculiar things coming out of Telajan. Some have sent agents, probes or auditors into the system to try and discover just what is really going on.

Other factions outside the Telajan system have begun to make use of the opportunities provided by all the distorted misinformation spewing out from behind the Filters. Digital Demagogues and worse have begun to cut-and-paste, splice and augment the Telajanian transmissions to best suit their own needs.

At least three competing cults have declared Telajan sacred, holy or the Promised Land. One newly-minted Popess has issued a call for a pilgrimage to a wonderful temple on a mountain on an island that does not exist on any of the five planets in this system. Any attempts to rectify or correct this error have met with violence and claims of conspiracy, genocide, and so forth--none of which can be proven, of course, but what is worse, none of which can be dis-proven, either--not without the cooperation of the legitimate Local Authorities...which has now come under catastrophic question due to all the competing, conflicting spurious claims and litigation streaming out from Telajan.

Money, guns and lawyers are pouring into the Telajan System...


*Popular Contra-Media Outlets frequently assert that the Precursors are in fact known, and that various shadowy and poorly defined conspiracies by vague and ostensibly posthuman elements are holding back the truth regarding all the technological secrets they have gained by way of privatized contracts or illicit dealing with these super-aliens. The more these claims are denied or refuted, the more pervasive and persistent they seem to become.

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