Monday, November 4, 2013

More Suspicious Manuscripts and Decaying Texts (Wermspittle)

There was a formula—a sort of list of things to say and do—which I recognised as something black and forbidden; something which I had read of before in furtive paragraphs of mixed abhorrence and fascination penned by those strange ancient delvers into the universe’s guarded secrets whose decaying texts I loved to absorb. It was a key—a guide—to certain gateways and transitions of which mystics have dreamed and whispered since the race was young, and which lead to freedoms and discoveries beyond the three dimensions and realms of life and matter that we know. Not for centuries had any man recalled its vital substance or known where to find it, but this book was very old indeed. No printing-press, but the hand of some half-crazed monk, had traced these ominous Latin phrases in uncials of awesome antiquity.
by H. P. Lovecraft

Suspicious Manuscripts & Decaying Texts from Wermspittle (Another Twenty)
  1. A folio containing six etchings and a jumbled set of pages that can be reassembled into a complete copy of the raw manuscript for Ebenazzeren's reviled and repudiated 'Ghoulatria.'
  2. The entire unexpurgated classical long-form rendition of the Transition Into Blood transcribed from the traditional Aklo into Burzim and Aulranni on a line-by-line basis. If properly carried out, the supplicant transforms themselves into a Corpuscular Sludge for the next one hundred seventy eight years.
  3. Sixteen pages of crudely cobbled-together collages interspersed with the cut-up and jumbled lines of what appears to be a sort of nonsense spell of some sort, possibly intended for some sort of protest or happening. The spell spontaneously casts on any roll of '6' on a d6 which is rolled for each page examined. The spell transforms the reader's feet into the claws of a human-scale raven for 3d6 hours.
  4. The last two-thirds of what remains from a doctoral dissertation regarding the 'Twelve Lesser Gateways of Orlovon.' The pagination is skewed due to constant revision and each page bears the name, initials and personal academic sigil of the author at least three times, sometimes more often. Unfortunately every single one of these identifying marks has been scrambled and defaced by some rival's or displeased mentor's unkind spell of selective revision. The text itself remains as excruciatingly dense and convoluted as it ever was and attempting to read it requires a CON check every 1d20 pages, failure results in the reader becoming totally incapable of understanding anything in the manuscript, success costs the reader 1 point of WIS, which they can regain after 3d4 weeks of refraining from all reading. This manuscript does not make a great gift.
  5. A shabby brown envelope packed with all the working notes for a rough-draft guide to the numerous varieties of freshwater fish commonly found in many of the cellars of Wermspittle.
  6. A small privately-printed pamphlet explaining the dangers of Black Smoke. Luridly illustrated with antiquated cartoons for the functionally illiterate. The last two pages contain a non-verbal schematic for the spell Repel Black Smoke.
  7. Here, in this set of loose pages, is a ferocious critique on 'The Ovulant Oratories of Ulludram,' scathingly penned by a person identifying themselves only as 'a member of the Sixth Spiral of Sumbralle.' Anyone reading more than three pages is rendered sterile for the next three years. It's that scathing.
  8. A Morlock grimoire. [Alatris, CE, 36hp, INT 14, Psyche 10, Willpower 26, Casts: Cause Fear and Black Touch once per day. Communicates telepathically, but only with carnivores. Contains 11 spells, but despairs of ever gaining any more, as its master is dead, having been devoured by a rival. A successful Reaction Roll could persuade Alatris to consider taking on a new master.]
  9. Fifteen sheets of musical notation for a sonata from some banned play titled 'Black Stars Over Bezgradt'; in-between each bar of music someone has daintily and diligently written-out all twelve sections of the Transition Into Night. The Second Section is flawed and summons 1d4 Grunters. The Fifth Section can be extracted and used in conjunction with a shewstone or crystal egg to allow the caster to look upon the so-called Nightland
  10. A detailed and comprehensive comparative analysis of the latrine-digging techniques employed by seven of the world's largest armies.
  11. A three-inch-thick slab of ultra-methodical lab notes. Once the blood is cleaned off, they show that there is a marked relationship between the pollen of the Red Weeds and the so-called Red Death, at least in 38% of the involuntary test-subjects subjected to this particular round of unlicensed experiments. There are only numbers used for the 198 unsuspecting people affected by this particular instance of back-alley malpractice.
  12. An extensive set of notes and anatomical diagrams drawn from experiments with live Voormiks that were summoned for the purpose by agents of a clandestine medical-espionage unit operating behind enemy lines during the Altwater Occupation. All the names have been sorcerously redacted by a professionally-cast 5th level spell. There is a detailed discussion of how to modify certain sections of the standard Summon Voormik spell so that it selectively summons or banishes only specified portions of their anatomies. The actual summoning spell is not given; it is assumed that anyone reading these notes would already have it equipped.
  13. Eighty-three lavender-tinted pages expound upon the wonders of attaining the state of consciousness referred to as 'Nrogesh.' The pages make excellent cigarettes or toilet paper. The breathless, florid prose remains steadfast in defeating the reader's comprehension, requiring a full seven readings before any small vestige of what the author is going on about is even partially divulged. It is perhaps of some interest to the would-be reader that in at least three classic Eloi children's chant-stories 'Nrogesh' is used in a very negative context. Uttering the word to any given Eloi causes them to roll a Reaction Check with a -4 penalty.
  14. A soldier's hand-written instructions for crafting various types of Salt Shot using Achromic Powder.
  15. A heavily pitted and discolored copper scroll-tube with a Fifty-Three page manuscript wrapped around it and held in-place by a length of slightly gummy penguin tendon tied in the traditional Tsalalian manner. The 'scroll tube' unrolls and is actually a scroll. The manuscript is someone's working notes towards a lexicon of the Ablunji family of pre-diasporic Tsalalian. There are three spells inscribed into the copper scroll, but each one is broken-up into sections and discussed with densely-packed technical annotations that remain untranslated as they appear to be in some other language entirely, possibly an obscure form of Aklo. The spells can be learned within 1d4 weeks, if one studies the lexicon first. Use of Read Magic will obliterate the copper scroll. There is a note to this effect jotted in the margins of the lexicon. Originally, there was another scroll. The three spells are: Call Penguins, Idiot Pipes, and Black Seal.
  16. This set of coarse gray pages contains elaborately annotated and extensively revised hand-written instructions for a series of increasingly bizarre rituals leading up to the 'Opening of the Gateway to Valadoz,' including a version of the infamous 'Birth-Call of Ulveer-Quoz,' that never appeared in any of the standard texts. The gray material this manuscript is written upon becomes gelatinous and restless when exposed to moonlight.
  17. Transcription of a primitive lay originally set down in Gurgurlim by a sect of abhuman songwriter-monks. Performing the verses in an appropriately sonorous drone, preferably in an attic at night, grants the singer a cumulative 10% chance to gain a shadow-companion that will never willingly leave them ever again. Botching the performance, such as droning off-key causes the companion-shadow to either flee or attack, depending on how badly one flubs the rite.
    [Companion-Shadow (AL N, MV 90' (30'), AC 7, HD 2+2, #AT 1, DG 1d4 (or by spell), SV M3, ML 10. Special: Can only communicate with the one they are bonded with. These are extra-planar entities, NOT undead. They can earn 1 extra HD per three levels their companion gains while accompanied. Roll for INT and WIS; if attributes are sufficient, the Companion-Shadow can learn spells as a spell-caster of level equal to their current HD.]
  18. A sheaf of much-highlighted notes from a student's efforts to compile a class presentation on what they refer to as 'The Wilde Method of Repairing Reputations,' whatever that might be. The paper smells subtly of cat urine. The last page is blood-stained. Two-thirds of the notes refer to obscure entities and characters from what appears to be a play or an opera, obviously not a serious work of scholarship. There is a steel key and two tickets to the Circus taped to the back of the sixteenth page. There is also a hastily drawn map showing the directions to an armorer's shop on Cassilda Street.
  19. Soft red pages with a strong metallic scent. Each one is folded six times. However many you started out with, as you unfold each one, you get to re-roll 3d6 to determine how many there are. It's a work of propaganda, some sort of subversive mini-comic aimed at the rank and file of the Grand Army of Nagrothea and contains a great deal of necromantic humor only someone from that region could really appreciate. Everyone else must make a Reaction Check (-2 penalty), a positive result means they suffer mild nausea for 1d4 minutes, a negative reaction means that the reader is incapacitated for the next 1d4 hours as they vomit forth their guts. They'll never understand. They also gain a permanent -1 on all Reaction Rolls involving Nagrotheans from now on.
  20. Instructions for achieving the Transition Into Bonelessness, whereby the reader renders themselves completely boneless for the next 1d4 hours just by reading the first 6 pages.


3 comments:

  1. This reads like a hard-won study of academia, an extrapolation of the horrors into many dimensions. So many ideas again, and so much to spark exploration especially, like the guide to freshwater fish and the digging techniques. Spontaneous casting could really catch on too, as a great way to represent instability in written magic, and the sterility and bonelessness approach is fertile with possibilities, even if you've set the bar high to begin with. Plus a bonus NPC and a monster. Your tables are a kind of anthology I think, an evening's fine reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These tables seem to write themselves. Our goal is to deliver something that sparks the imagination, to engage that 'What If?' faculty of the reader and to give DMs/GMs something to play with in their games that can lead in all sorts of directions. It's fun to reveal Wermspittle through these tables, hopefully it will be entertaining (or horrifying...) to explore it via these sorts of tables as well...

      Glad you liked it--loads more on the way!

      Delete
  2. Setting by tables is the best kind of setting.
    The Borrowed Trouble tables are especially good.

    ReplyDelete

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