Monday, June 30, 2014

Nameless City of the Thinking Machines


We men are beat. We don't know enough. We've got to learn before we've got a chance. And we've got to live and keep independent while we learn.
Creed of the Scavenger Scholars

Somewhere in the Far South, past the terraced walls of the Eternal Fortifications, deep within the green-veiled isles of the Septagoorean Archipelago there is said to be a fallen city so old no one remembers its name. Not even the serpentine sages, nor the bound savants of the Ruby Domes can reveal the identity of this nameless city. Few have gone there and returned. Most who come back from this place are changed in strange, unsettling ways. One woman, a pirate of sorts, returned to her ship and resumed command without a head. Another explorer was found wandering and raving in the perfumed jungles, all his teeth turned to emeralds and his eyes encased in immaculate gold. Only the tribes of Monikins who keep the oldest ways alive through oral tradition and ritual scarification seem to be able to visit the place and not be unduly transformed or torn apart by prowling invisible demons.

A small colony of scavenger-scholars has grown up around the mouth of a river that leads deep into the nameless city. They send small parties of intrepid artists and poets up the river in fragile canoes fashioned from prawn-shells and penguin-hide in the hopes that each one will bring back some small, but ultimately significant piece of information such as a sketch, a description, something that can be added to the meager stock of what they've been able to accumulate so that someday they will have finally amassed enough bits and pieces to unravel the mysteries locked within this place.

Eager to learn all they can about the nameless city, the scavenger-scholars have forged an alliance of sorts with the Monikin tribes. In exchange for instructing their young in the ways of writing, reading and related matters, the tribes share their stories and lore with the transcribers and recorders of the colony. How much of what the Monikin elders share is true or merely fables or self-serving lies and fiction remains unknown, unverified. The scavenger-scholars live in constant titillation and terror; they desperately wish for more data, but dread the possibility that someone will someday awaken something terrible that slumbers deep beneath the gleaming green walls of this place.

The Monikin elders say that once one gets past the outer precincts, across the bridges that span the outer canals, the streets of the inner city are paved with gold and lead, that there are fantastic inner courtyards where the walls are sheathed with emerald tiles and that there are gems dangling from weird trees that whisper all manner of secrets...



Inspiration: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by R. Heinlein, The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, H. P. L.'s Nameless City, and Sir Richard Francis Burton's translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night...and that odd little tablet with the high-falutin' Victorian speech written all over it. Perhaps this is where the Gem originated?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maps for Heroes

Click Here To Donate
Matt Jackson has organized a fundraiser for The Wounded Warrior Project that he has named Maps for Heroes. The goal is to raise $1,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. By contributing to either the Maps for Heroes page at the WWP site, or by participating in Matt's Patreon page you not only help out some great people who deserve our support, you get some really nifty maps made by a veritable Who's Who of contemporary RPG Map Making. You can learn more at this post on Matt's blog.

Free PDF: 1d10 Magic Rings

Click Here to Download

One page, one table, ten magic rings that will work for most Old School Games of the Imagination. They're all yours for free. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Six Oval Portraits

The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is technically termed a vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom, and even the ends of the radiant hair melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the back-ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the work, nor the immortal beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person...
 The Oval Portrait,
by Edgar Allen Poe


Neither living nor undead things, there are cursed objects, haunted relics and malevolent fixtures that retain some partial impression of a particular spirit, or that bind the tattered vestiges of some unfortunate geist, or that contain the fragile last ectoplasmic remains of some venerated or reviled ancestor. Most such things are destroyed as a matter of course, especially since the passing of the hygiene laws under the Pruztians. But there are those who collect such sordid treasures. There is money to be made. Especially if one is not afraid to deal with those from Nagrothea who have a deep and abiding desire to possess such items.



  1. Ruthilda Krozenrante. A bitter matron in lace-mail glares out from her portrait with a look of utter contempt that took her more than four decades and three failed marriages to perfect...

    Everyone within line-of-sight of this grizzled old harridan's portrait must Save at +2 or suffer a penalty of -2 to Initiative and -2 to Saves versus mind-influencing/morale damaging effects for the next 1d4 hours due to their being distracted by a nagging sense of self doubt. Victims are also prone to taking double damage from Gloomshadows, Gloomswallows and related things that prey upon pointless angst, personal insecurities, lingering doubts and inner turmoil.

  2. Amfeldtrig Dushmallian. Once a gloriously beautiful trapeze-artist in a Worlds Renowned travelling circus that toured the Adjacent Worlds by airship, her career was cut tragically short when she was crippled in a lover's quarrel once it was revealed that she was not an albino hermaphroditic Tsalalian princess after all...but was in fact a legless dwarf in a hoopskirt golem-chassis. This portrait was commissioned by her loving children.

    The frame is heavier than expected and the enamel on it is scratched-up, making it look tacky and cheap. A closer look will show that the frame is actually worth a considerable sum since one of the smarter children melted-down all the ugliest of their mother's medals, trinkets and curios and fashioned the frame from all that gold in order to keep it safe for some rainy day. The family was rounded-up as suspected agitators during the First Pruztian Occupation and the oval portrait was reluctantly left behind by the ones that escaped.

  3. Count Zaleskaniv. The hereditary ruler of an obscure principality in the S-K region of Outer Ruritalia, this blue-blooded Noble is notorious for sealing his enemies within cruel ceramic pots he acquired from his dealings with the Comprachicos. He was eventually deposed and died in exile in Wermspittle after serving out a fifty year sentence in the Tower.

    All images of this vile tyrant have been destroyed by the decree of his successors, making this last remaining oval portrait quite a collector's item...or a possible source of danger from any of the aging and mostly forgotten agents of the crown who were sent here long ago to keep an eye on the bad old king. If you look closely at the oval portrait, especially in moonlight and at a certain angle, you can see the iron mask they forced him to wear for half a century in his cell. Other than that weird little quirk, the painting is pretty normal, though the pigments used were heavily mixed with White Powder, as was the style in certain circles at the time it was done.

  4. Niggliv. One of the Tongueless Warlords who ruled in silence over the Third Avenue Free Zone during the siege by Franzik forces that led to the three year effort by the Red Watch to ban and summarily execute everyone connected with the Butchers and their underground abattoirs. When the Franzikaners were driven out, Niggliv led the reprisals against the Red Watch and is considered by many to be responsible for re-instituting the ancient and accepted Winter Rites of the Butchers.

    This is a very dangerous bit of degenerate art to hold onto, not the least since it will almost certainly attract the attention of the Butchers and what remains of the Red Watch as well as certain other, interested third parties that are not inclined to accept no for an answer. Anyone having this oval portrait in their possession suffers a -2 penalty to all Reaction Rolls due to the reeking stink of rotten blood that rolls of the thing as well as the paranoia it seems to instill within the minds of anyone who looks at it for very long. All Random Encounter/Wandering Monster checks that indicate 'no encounter' get re-rolled, just in case the dice were wrong the first time.

  5. Hermindra Radcliffe-Southanger. Prim, proper and well-armored, as one would expect from a daughter of executioners and blood-scribes, this Grand Abbess fought valiantly against the Zurks during the Battle of Six Fingers where the ancestral estate of the Radcliffes was cast down and became the wrecked and ruined pile now known as The Jumbles.

    Anyone of Zurkish descent must Save or suffer the effects of a Cause Light Wounds spell. In the old days, they would have been struck dead or blind, but time has diminished the effect, if not the virulence of Hermindra's lingering hatred. Close examination of the back of this oval portrait will reveal a glyphic-map that once activated will open the way to an isolated shrine constructed along one of the overhanging shelves of white basalt in the Polar Wastes of Judrang. Unfortunately there are no clear instructions for how one is supposed to active the glyphic-map. Perhaps one of the cartographic specialists at the Academy or one of the acolytes at the well of Saint Krevlisia might be able to help you with that...for a price. Or you could go consult with one of the Yellow Phantoms. They seem to know a lot about the old days and they are bound to the blasted ruins that make up The Jumbles.

  6. Murthiford Lao-Besk. No one knows anything about this Non-Person. But whomever they may have been, their portrait's unblinking eyes seem to be keenly interested in everything that goes on around it...

    This isn't technically an oval portrait as it is an oval mirror that has been heavily painted-over with lead-based and White Powder pigments to bind a six hundred year old Simulacrum within the frame. They can see out, but cannot speak, cannot move, and cannot hear...but they do feel everything that happens within 30' of the front surface of their image thanks to a twisted form of a Clairvoyance spell deeply imprinted within the paints by a group of meddling kids with artistic pretensions whose Movement died with them when they all burned to death during a salon exhibition that featured a juggling dog (either an art-golem or canunculus) formed entirely of black velvet that got too near an open flame.


The Red Watch have issued a reward for any information that leads to the apprehension of a party or parties unknown that have absconded with a prohibited piece of degenerate art recently identified by Mrs. Cave at Schroedinger & Cave Dealers in Discrete Curiosities. Three competing Freikorps Units have offered sanctuary to any and all unfairly persecuted art lovers with a preference for old fashioned portraiture of historically significant figures...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Secret Weapons


"After all, it may not be so much we may have to learn before—Just imagine this: four or five of their fighting machines suddenly starting off—Heat-Rays right and left, and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, but men—men who have learned the way how. It may be in my time, even—those men. Fancy having one of them lovely things, with its Heat-Ray wide and free! Fancy having it in control! What would it matter if you smashed to smithereens at the end of the run, after a bust like that? I reckon the Martians'll open their beautiful eyes! Can't you see them, man? Can't you see them hurrying, hurrying—puffing and blowing and hooting to their other mechanical affairs? Something out of gear in every case. And swish, bang, rattle, swish! Just as they are fumbling over it, SWISH comes the Heat-Ray, and, behold! man has come back to his own."


Prior to her assassination, the Empress of the Franzik Empire (now remembered as Margretta The Red) had come to terms with the masters of the tripods. Certainly it was an arrangement of convenience entered into with cynicism and full blown plans to annihilate one another. We know this from studying the deciphered communiques and memoranda that passed between both parties, as well as from the certified testimony of mediums and other eavesdroppers employed by the Department of Awareness.

The Pruztians were outraged that Empress Margretta would enter into any such Non-Aggression Pact with the very forces that had burned, gassed and depopulated nearly every coastal town and port along the Western Seaboard. That was what finally forced their hand and made them reveal that they, too, had made clandestine deals of their own with the warrior alchemists of the Triumvirate, as well as brutally interrogating any and all deserters or captives taken from the Red Armies.

They were clumsy infernal apparatus. Smoldering, sparking, surrounded by clouds of toxic fumes and difficult to transport, but the Pruztian High Kommand had  great confidence and high expectations in their secret weapons...

Military historians are convinced that this was the turning point, the introduction of the so-called Wonder Weapons, that set the campaigns of massive aerial bombardment into motion and brought on the end of civilization as it once was known...


Inspiration: The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells.

Mosaic Golem


"No. There's nothing back there. I've looked twice already. There's just a couple of broken statues and some crappy brass-stuff jammed into the wall that I think is supposed to have been some kind of decoration. Hey--what was that?"


Mosaic Golem
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 30' (10')
Armor Class: 6[13]
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 2 (claws) or 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6 or 2d4
Save: F6
Morale: 12 (Unless confronted with the amulet of Jalodt-Karm, then it goes to 4)

Crude humanoid figures molded from an alchemically-derived form of gold alloy and set with hundreds upon hundreds of flakes and chips of green amber, these things were embedded into the walls of various tombs, crypts and other underground locations to serve as patient, vigilant guardians against looters and despoilers.

They wait patiently until someone awakens them from their natural oblivious state by coming within 90' of where they are fixed upon the wall. Upon awakening the Mosaic Golem(s) attack until destroyed.

Upon reaching zero-hit points these constructs collapse into a puddle of molten metal that causes 2d4 damage to anyone who touches it. Once the puddle cools in 3d6 hours, the golem reforms back in-place upon the wall.

The not-gold metal is highly toxic if removed from the golem for more than 1 hour.



On closer examination: "That's not brass you idiot! This thing is made out of...gold!"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 95

Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja have been reunited. Some purple-eyed kid has tried to ambush Bujilli with a galvanic prod. Leeja has taken exception to this...

It had stopped raining.

Bujilli reached for his hand-axe.

The boy screamed.

As well he should; his hands were wrapped tightly in writhing white hair constricting so tightly that blood was spurting out through every tiny gap.

The galvanic prod sputtered in the mud then went dead. It was very likely rigged with some sort of dead-man switch. Bujilli had no intention of touching the thing.

"Good to see you." Bujilli smiled broadly at Leeja for a moment, then reality sunk its teeth back into his flanks; "We've got to get moving. Lemuel is in trouble."

"Lemuel? But he's with Hedrard--"

"Exactly. Or at least that what he claims. A lot has happened. This is not the best place to explain everything..."

"No. It isn't. Back to your room? Or somewhere else? I know a place that's close. sort of close."

"And him?" Bujilli felt ambivalent about his would-be ambusher. Failure probably meant death to the kid. Just like it had for Ahven previously.

"I can--"

Sirens sputtered, warbled then began to wail forlornly. Their sound quickly escalated into an ear-piercing dissonance.

"Scheiss--SMOG!" Leeja clouted the boy on the back of his head and hefted him over her shoulder; "come on--we need to get to a shelter!"

Bujilli followed her through the tumult and chaos of the market to a sphinx-topped bunker of some sort. There were yellow signs, broadsides and posters all over the place in a confusion of languages and acronyms. Recruiting. Political rallies. Warnings. There wasn't time to really examine any of them in detail., but he did notice a couple of posters that featured a very large and cartoony figure all in red crushing a some symbol in his gauntleted right hand--it looked like blood streaming through his fingers and the three-headed black eagle of Middle Sileza loomed behind him--it wore a tabard-style label across its cuirass-encases chest. Very striking.

Leeja tugged his hand. He nearly dropped the thimble.

The thimble.

Bujilli hesitated for a moment. He started to say something but then people began to yell and raise a commotion--they were closing the doors of the Smog Shelter earlier than usual. He slipped the thimble into his belt-pouch and started to run beside Leeja.

They made it through the heavy, purple-stained doors into the shelter.

Leeja slipped. Went down on her knee. Dropped the boy.

Purple vapor swirled from his lips.

Bujilli grabbed him and heaved him back through the doors before they fully closed.

He couldn't help noticing that the smog was rolling in across the lowest spots in the street and marketplace. Things that might have been people were capering and contorting and generally carrying on in strange ways back where the smog had billowed up into a deep purple zone or macabre wonderland. He wasn't sure which. Then the doors closed with a loud clang. The seals were pumped into place. The lights flickered and people began to look around and take stock of their situation.

Bujilli went back to Leeja. She was sitting against a wall. Eyes closed. Obviously in pain.

"Might I be of assistance?" A thin man in a white suit bowed slightly. His left eye squirmed oddly. It was some sort of graft.

"My friend has been poisoned..."

"Certainly. I saw the Purple Wisp as it left the boy's lungs--you did us all a great service in eliminating that villain from our midst and I'd like to repay the favor."

"What can you do?"

"Well...with your...ah...friend's permission, I can attach a couple of leeches to her back and they will draw off the toxins from the Purple Wisp."

"Leeja? Does that sound acceptable to you?"

"Yes--" she leaned away from the wall. Her cloak was ruined--half of it stuck to the concrete in a mess of blood and purplish ichor.

"I had best hurry." The thin man made a few quick hand-motions to his three unobtrusive and mouth-less homunculi-servants in some sort of gestural code. They each handed him a wriggling, black-striped leech that he carefully applied to her back.

"In this case, under the circumstances, we'll need three leeches. You'll start to feel better presently. The little darlings produce a numbing substance that they freely share with their clients at no extra charge. Very considerate little things."

"And these things will remove the poisons?" Bujilli watched the leeches wriggle and flop about as they slowly grew plumper from absorbing Leeja's blood. The damage to her back stopped hissing. She slumped forward a little.

"Does it help?"

"Yes. Thank you." She shivered. It had been a close call. The boy had nearly gotten her. It had been stupid to carry him like that.

"From now on, we can't afford to take any more chances with these purple-eyed--"

"Purple Irised folk? The Ledaan have been troubling you?"

"Yes. We don't know why--"

"And you may never find out. If you did, it might not matter--or make much sense. The Ledaan are part of the Purple Horde. They worship and serve the Purple Clouds and are ruled over by the Desert Fathers..."

"Do you know a great deal about these Ledaan?"

"Whether directly or indirectly, they are responsible for a great deal of my most lucrative business."

"Your leeches..."

"...drain off the toxins from the various and sundry unpleasant things the Purple Clouds have gifted us with; it tends to pay much better than the usual sorts of things people come to me for, like pus-drainage, blood-letting or reviving circulation in a defective or botched graft and the like."

Bujilli looked at the leeches. They were getting fat, bloated with tainted blood. There wasn't much trace of the oily purple sheen that had covered her back only moments before.

"It seems to be working."

"Of course. I'm no quack. I deal in only the very finest and most exceptional leeches available in all of Wermspittle."

"I have no doubt of that. I am impressed with how quickly they are removing the poisons--what do you do with the things once they've gotten too bloated to take anything more?"

"Some can be milked for useful compounds, others get sacrificed as components to various things, a few I pickle and preserve for the proper time of the year..."

"So you know ways of making use of the toxins your leeches draw-off of their victims, I mean hosts?"

"But of course. Otherwise it would be a pointless waste of my time."

Leeja grabbed Bujilli's ankle. He leaned closer.

"When the All Clear is given we need to go to the right, along Schwarzenegger Lane, past the decapitated statue of Dorothea Witchmangler. You'll see a sign for the Grampus-and-Krampus. It's a tavern. Of sorts. Tell the bar maid, the one with the black hair, not the green-toothed one, that I need her help." Leeja slumped forward with a shudder. She wasn't going to remain conscious much longer.

"There. My lovelies have nearly completed their task." The thin man delicately removed one of the blood-engorged leeches and deposited it into a container held out for him by one of his servants.

"She'll be weakened for a little while--she's lost a lot of blood, but there was no other way to get at the poisons. You've seen the purple smog now, haven't you? How it swirls and writhes like a thing live?"

"I've seen it." Too damn many times for my liking, he thought to himself.

"The poisons do the same thing. They swirl and writhe deeper and deeper into the flesh of their victims. The stuff could be alive for all I know." He pulled loose the second leech.

"Have they gotten it all then?"

"Yes. I believe so. This one," He carefully raised up the third leech which was noticeably less plump than the first two; "Yes. If there was more of the stuff in her flesh and blood, this one would have kept going until it had sucked it all up. Greedy little things. But very useful." He slipped the leech into a third container.

"Thank you."

"Not at all--thank you!" The white-suited thin man bowed and presented his hand to Bujilli who shook it. The leech-monger left behind a business card in the palm of his hand. It was set in a flowery script and looked like some sort of Drushik, but he wasn't sure. He slipped the card into his pants-pocket. He didn't want to open his belt pouch. Not here. Not yet.

Leeja slept. For the most part.

Bujilli kept watch over her.

The rest of the people in the shelter seemed to avoid them.

Some gambled. A few slept. Most just slept or read the papers and pamphlets their neighbors shared among one another.

The All Clear sounded. The seals popped and hissed as they were deflated and retracted. The heavy doors opened. It was raining heavily outside.

Bujilli scooped-up Leeja in his arms and moved towards the doors. An old woman smacked him in the back of his knee with her cane; "Where do you think you're going?" she snarled.

"Out." He turned to glare at the woman.

"Oh sure. Go running in the Purple Rain like a damn fool. Not like we don't have enough madfolk and murderers running around the place already."

"What?"

"Are you not from around here young fella? Don't you know what that is out there?" She stabbed outwards with her cane.

"No." He was feeling surly.

"Take a good look before you go running into that rain." She shook her head in disgust and walked away to go harass some other young dumb fool.

"But the All Clear--"

"Vujjdut!" The old woman scowled at him fiercely; "Those things haven't worked right in decades. Not since the verammdt Pruztian engineers tried to dismantle them. Go ahead, put your faith in ancient unthinking machines. See where that gets you. Ha. Manshonyaggers or worse. no one remembers. No one studies history any more. If they ever really did." She shook her head sadly and walked away into the crowd.

Bujilli looked outside. The puddles had an oily, purple sheen to them that he hadn't noticed before. More toxins. He was sick of poisons. Especially purple poisons.

He set Leeja back down, slumped down beside her and watched the rain for three more hours. He needed to get going. He had to go after Lemuel. But he needed to deal with Leeja first. He thought about the thimble. About the wanderers and Mama Rudta. The three dead purple-eyed kids who had nearly killed Leeja twice now. The rain made him drowsy. It was easy to get lost in second-thoughts and recriminations. Self analysis.

Idiot. He slipped Hedrard's amulet from under his armor and concentrated on it. The thing grew warmer at his conscious touch.

'Bujilli?' he could sense Hedrard on the other side of the connection. She was pushing the link hard from her side, allowing it to form a bridge between them. He could feel the tension within the imprinted spell forms. If it had been anyone other than Hedrard, who had created the amulet in the first place, this sort of thing would have ruined the thing. As it was, it still might.

'Yes.'

'I sent word to the Strixin to keep an eye out for you. They can tell you what you need to know.'

'I was contacted by Lemuel-'

'I know. I told him not to do it. He went ahead anyhow. They've been very hard on him.'

'Who? What is going on?'

'War. We've been captured. The Purple Horde is on the move. They intend to take Wermspittle.'

'We have to tell-'

'No one. It would be pointless. Shael already knows. Everything is about to-' The connection was severed.

The rain became a lurid drizzle.

A fine mist.

The clouds broke up and the sun came out.

Bujilli scooped-up Leeja once again and headed out into the sunshine. It was good to be out of the rain.

He looked at the people streaming back into the market. Looked left where the lane sloped down and curved back towards the Low Streets. Looked right and saw a wide bridge over a section of rails and what appeared to be a headless statue atop a large block of malachite. He adjusted his grip and started walking...


Which way should Bujill go?

You Decide!


Meanwhile...


"I am so glad that you interceded on their behalf like that." Gnosiomandus kept packing his trunk while they talked.

"It was my pleasure. She's quite striking, isn't she?"

"In her way, for a youngster, I suppose." He loaded more of his vintage picture-books into the trunk. He hoped there would be room for his pewter miniatures.

"So now you are going to just abandon them? Abandon us all?" The Middle-Sized Bear snuffled and growled to accentuate its displeasure.

"I am getting out of here before we go through yet another long drawn-out siege by some moronic mob of inbred barbarians with pretensions of relevance." He looked around the room. Almost all the essential things were loaded. It wouldn't be long now and he could be on his way.

"You're running away."

"Of course. I'm a scholar, not a warrior and certainly not a soldier. Those are serious professions for very serious practitioners. I prefer to leave what is coming to the professionals."

"These are not the Pruztians. Not the tripods. These bastards mean to ruin everything--"

"As if what we have here is anything to defend or protect!"

"What we have is freedom to change things. Nothing will get better unless people make it so through hard work--"

"Spare me. We both know that the Vested Interests won't let anything change unless they've approved of it. Look at what happened to Shael--"

"That was unfortunate."

"That was a damn site worse than 'unfortunate.' At least Sprague was able to escape with what was left of her. Maybe he can figure out some way..."

"Is there any way to get you to stay? The Revolution--"

"There is no 'revolution.' But there will be war. Gods help us all."

Should bujilli follow Leeja's instructions? Or should he try something else? What would you suggest?  

Initiative: Roll 1d6 each for (1) Bujilli, (2) The Obsever.

Reaction: Now we could use a Reaction Roll for the Observer. Roll 2d6, apply a penalty of -2, and check the result against the Monster Reaction Table on p. 52 of Labyrinth Lord.

As always, if you have questions or suggestions let me know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

You Decide!



Previous                                  Next

Series Five
Bj69  Bj70  Bj71  Bj72  Bj73  Bj74  Bj75  Bj76  Bj77  Bj78  Bj79  Bj80  Bj81  Bj82  Bj83  Bj84  Bj85  Bj86  Bj87  Bj88 Bj89  Bj90  Bj91  Bj92  Bj93  Bj94  Bj95  Bj96  Bj97  Bj98  Bj99
To be Continued...


Introduction: The Story So Far...

Starting Page  |  Central Index

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

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

Series One (Episodes 1-19): Quick Index  Episode Guide
Series Two (Episode 20-36): Quick Index  Episode Guide
Series Three (Episodes 37-49): Quick Index  Episode Guide
Series Four (Episodes 50-68): Quick Index  Episode Guide
Series Five (Episodes 69-Ongoing): Quick Index  Episode Guide

Labyrinth Lord

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Purple Rain (Wermspittle)


Well, there is a rage in the storms of late years which really transcends bounds; I do not remember if I have noted it in these sheets before: but I never could have conceived a turbulence so huge. Hour after hour I sat there that night, smoking a chibouque, reading, and listening to the batteries and lamentations of that haunted air, shrinking from it, fearing even for the Speranza by her quay in the sequestered harbour, and for the palace-pillars.
M. P. Shiel


Nothing lasts forever. Even those vast aerial horrors that go on to kill off entire worlds eventually succumb in turn to some mysterious process of nature. Even Purple Clouds die. Not quietly, not gently, but ferociously and violently. Purple Clouds do not go quietly into oblivion, they become intensely agitated and wracked with lightnings and hurricanes, tornadoes and storms. Thunder shatters the gloomy silence brought upon the world by their deadly vapors. Where once they stole into the world like quiet thieves, these aerial horrors depart in a spectacular tempest of sound and fury witnessed only by the unburied dead left to rot where they fell.

Rain washes the purple stain from the clouds. The skies become a raging battlefield between vast aerial horrors and unknown forces, and those few survivors left down below upon the tainted and toxic surface of the world find themselves faced with an entirely other form of holocaust...

Sometimes...Some fragment of a Purple Cloud, beset with the thunderous wrath of a vengeful atmosphere and cast down from its lofty throne over a world it had all but murdered will flow through some Weak Point or other aperture in its blind panic to escape. These sorts of reduced and diminished Purple Clouds are known as Purple Tempests or Purple Rain and while they have been stripped of much of their former glory, they remain formidable, terrible things even in their last death throes.

Exposure to the Purple Rain causes temporary fits of madness, violence, and has been known to make doves cry. Chemists and others collect the stuff to use it in various processes; the Pruztians were the first to learn how to distill a potent nerve gas from it.



Minor Miasmas  |  Purple Wisps | Purple Haze | Deep Purple Smog |  Purple Rain 
Purple Clouds | Purple Horde
Srumachis

InspirationThe Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, with a little assist from this guy. Happy Thirtieth Anniversary!

Six Pillows

Six Pillows by Albrecht Durer;
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum

Early to bed, early to rise; keep a sharpened stake handy, and always keep an eye out for mice...


 Old Wermspittle Nursery Rhyme


Getting a good night's sleep is essential to one's health and well-being. Everyone knows this, many people say it, few get the opportunity to experience it in Wermspittle where insomnia is rampant, nightmares are far too commonplace, and there's often something under your bed or weird distracting sounds or things other than rats crawling around in the walls...really, it's a wonder anyone gets any sleep at all in this place...



  1. Pillow One. A sturdy sack of goose-down, this pillow looks exceptionally comfortable and inviting to a weary traveler...

    Soft, soft pillow (unique) [AL N, MV n/a, AC 7, HD 1+1, #AT 1, DG 1d4 per round (suffocation), SV F1, ML 6, Special: Only ever attacks with surprise for +4 bonus to hit on first attack. If initial attack fails, pillow goes flaccid and tries to appear harmless for next 1d4 hours, after which time it may attempt another attack. Takes only half damage from blunt weapons. Anyone suffocated by this pillow has a 30% chance to rise as a minor undead.]

  2. Pillow Two. This pillow appears a different shade of purple every time you look at it...

    Lurid Purple Pillow (unique) [AL C, MV 9' (3'), AC 7, HD 1, #AT 1, DG 1d4+Poison, SV F1, ML 9, Special: This pillow is saturated with vapors from a recent Deep Purple Smog Event and there is a lingering trace of the Purple Vapors, possibly a weakened Purple Wisp lurking within the thing.]

  3. Pillow Three. There's nothing exceptional about this pillow whatsoever...

    Dastardly Cuddler (unique) [AL N, MV n/a, AC 6, HD 1+2, #AT 1, DG 1d4 per round, SV F2, ML 12 (fearless), Special: This nasty cushion simply lies there waiting for the opportunity to strike from surprise with a +2 bonus to hit on its first attack. When it strikes, this foul thing wraps itself around the victim's upper limbs and chest and squeezes relentlessly. It will not stop trying to crush its victim until destroyed. It takes only half damage from blunt weapons, the other half affecting its victim. It is highly flammable, but shares all damage it takes from fire-based attacks with its victim on a 50-50 basis.]

  4. Pillow Four. There's a faint whiff of something sulfurous coming from this pillow...

    This pillow conceals a hidden Grobbly-Bonk map...

  5. Pillow Six. [Note: Pillow Five was lost in an unexplained fire suspected of being a case of spontaneous human combustion. It will be missed.] This pillow seems slightly damp...and sticky...

    There could be a small swarm of freshly hatched vermin squirming around within this increasingly soggy pillow, or perhaps something Squick and Ichorous, some sort of Unsightly Stain, or maybe it's just some Strange Ovum...

  6. Lucille. This pillow is the favorite method of capturing potential new Thralls by a local Somnambulist who has concealed a small clockwork device underneath the pillow that will snap open a vial of chloroform in the middle of the night...

    Stitch-Sack Clutcher (unique) [AL N, MV  9' (3'), AC 7, HD 2, #AT 1 (Clutch), DG 1d4, SV F1, ML 5, Special: The clockwork mechanism secreted beneath this pillow can be spotted by simply checking the bed, but it is amazing how many people simply forget to do this on a regular basis. When the timer runs out, this pillow will clutch onto the victim while soporific fumes spew forth from it. Save at -1 to avoid falling unconscious for the next 3d6 Turns from the chloroform.] A Sleeping Thrall named Janoz is waiting for the clock he is watching to strike the designated hour, at which time he will lurch out of the closet where he was hidden behind a secret panel, scoop up the unconscious form of the victim, and carry them off to his master...

Six Sleeping Thralls | Six Somnambulists | Six Dreamers
Six Scenario Seeds for Somnambulists
Lesser Oneirical Beasts
Red Bestiary Index

Three different victims of so-called 'night terrors' have been reported to the local authorities. Each one a fairly healthy, robust, well-armed denizen of the Low Streets and not the type to get suckered by some trollop with a razor or any of the usual perils of the night. In fact each one is rumored to have been strangled or smothered in their sleep, prompting some alleyway experts to declare it all the work of Stranglemasses. So far there is no proof, no leads, and no comment from either the Red Watch nor the Street Patrol.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monikins

"Whether we belong to the class of quadrupeds or not, is a question that has a good deal embarrassed our own savants: returned the stranger. "There is an ambiguity in our physical action that renders the point a little questionable; and therefore, I think, the higher castes of our natural philosophers rather prefer classing the entire monikin species, with all its varieties, as caudae-jactans, or tailwavers; adopting the term from the nobler part of the animal formation. Is not this the better opinion at home, my Lord Chatterino?" he asked, turning to the youth, who stood respectfully at his side.

"Such, I believe, my dear Doctor, was the last classification sanctioned by the academy," the young noble replied, with a readiness that proved him to be both well-informed and intelligent, and at the same time with a reserve of manner that did equal credit to his modesty and breeding. "The question of whether we are or are not bipeds has greatly agitated the schools for more than three centuries."
The Monikins
by James Fenimore Cooper

According to the surviving copies of the heavily-redacted shipping manifests, at least twenty breeding-couples of Monikins were brought into Wermspittle by the ANGSOC Refugees. These Monikins were mostly accounting-slaves, trained to perform various tricks of bureaucratic legerdemain, but a few were also trained to act as covet observers and body-guards. The Monikins were originally inhabitants of several lush, tropical islands situated within the same Antarctic archipelago from which the Tsalalians were displaced by the Horrors unleashed by meddlesome explorers investigating the nature of the Polar Monoliths first described in the Sibylline Leaves during the reign of Kalushma the Sagacious nearly eleven-hundred years ago...


Monikin
No. Enc.: 2d4
Alignment: Neutral (60%), Law (30%), Chaos (10%)
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1*
Damage: 1d4 or by weapon
Save: as Zero-Level Human
Morale: 7

Monikins with a DEX of 14 or better can use their prehensile tail to wield light weapons, small bucklers or wands.



Monikins can advance in any class, as long as they have appropriate stats. They tend to be very fashion-conscious and approve of good manners, good math skills, and good breeding. Their original society was very focused on selective breeding along caste-lines, something that their time in servitude to ANGSOC only reinforced and strengthened. They greatly fear and distrust Winged Monkeys whom they consider to be degenerates that they do not approve of at all, to the point that a Monikin will ask a stranger to convey anything they might have to say to such beings so as not to interact with them directly for fear of social contamination or censure by their betters.

There is a sizable Monikin community of scholars and money-lenders at the Academy in Wermspittle that have quietly been pursuing their respective areas of study and diligently refraining from any overt involvement in politics, ostensibly because of their many generations of mistreatment at the hands of ANGSOC. However, there are persistent rumors that imply that the Monikins are not nearly as hands-off when it comes to such things as they would have others believe...

Monikin Elders rejected the admission of Uberschimpanze into the ranks of eligible students for decades due to a misunderstanding based on the Uberschimpanzes lack of suitable tails, leading the Monikins to reject them as actual primates. This unfortunate incident has led to a bit of friction between the two groups, a situation made worse by the machinations of the Marmoset clans who have never really accepted the Monikins based on their dismissal of mustard as a mere condiment...


Inspiration: The Monikins, by James Fenimore Cooper, was published in 1835 and is a strange, satirical novel more about finances and money than monkeys. It is also available via The Internet Archive, or at the highly recommended ERBzine site. The author's daughter Susan provided an Introduction to The Monikins in 1861 which might also be of interest.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Once They Were Liberators...


People rejoiced when they first strode forth into the morning sunlight. The Franzikaners had finally made it through the trenches, the mine-fields and the last-ditch legions of conscripted dead. Brave Tripod-Hussarls and swarms of smaller, more specialized tripods broke through the ranks of Sturmgraben, zinn soldiers and other units left behind as the Military Governor fled to Morsgrieven to take up his exile-in-disgrace for having lost his post. They ended the First Occupation by the Pruztians. They instituted a firm and rigorously maintained peace. The old Lethal Chambers remained active, perhaps even busier than before. Sedition, treason, saboteurs, dreamers and spies were everywhere--the Franzikaner Triumvirate (no one ever really one called them the 'Administrative Troika',) reminded everyone of these things daily. Hourly. The old Resistance that had fought and died and suffered for so long under the Pruztians and their ANGSOC lackeys decided that they had no choice but to bring the Pruztians back in an attempt to drive the tripods out. And that was the beginning of the Second Occupation...


The low-lander farmers around Sprungen are convinced that you can follow the Red Weeds that continually invade their crop-lands back to the Imperial War Gardens at Naris, right in the heart of the Franzik Empire. Whether or not it is true, their saying has taken on the weight of established and accepted folklore. It might as well be true.

The Franzikaner forces did harden many of the Smog Shelters against the more common forms of Black Smoke. Those shelters that they upgraded received a green-brass plaque showing the beloved/much feared Red Tripod of the Imperial Grand Army.

Despite intense fighting, massive destruction and loss of life, the tripods were never fully driven out of Wermspittle. Some suspect it was their use of Resonators that allowed them to open, close or disrupt Weak Points that gave them an edge over their opponents. Others claim it was the Franzik Empire's annexation of the Near Worlds and the establishment of the massively fortified Grand Octants that made the difference as it allowed them to transport tripod units around the known static defenses and traps set by the Pruztians. Where the scout-tripods reported mine-fields or artillery emplacements, the Franzikaners stalked off through Weak Points to an Adjacent World and proceeded on their way, forcing the Pruztians to invest in as many alternate routes as they could reach, or else leave a gap for the tripods to move past them. It was a logistical nightmare and instead of giving up on the traditional forms of conventional warfare as taught in the military colleges of High Pruztia, the empire chose to resort to the use of manufactured plagues, setting off a terrible back-and-forth of weaponized contagions that quickly decimated the ranks of both sides and everyone else within close proximity. The waves of war-poxes accounted for more death and destruction than even the wide-spread aerial bombardment each side had used to disrupt all rail-transport and to reduce once proud and beautiful cities to a stone-age level of barbarism.

Darkness descended in a cloud of Black Smoke, leaving civilization in a shambles; the majority of the world was cast down into a global medieval age where the old empires still carry on their war amid the ruins...



Inspiration: Primarily The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, of course, with a nod to Mr. Chamber's Repairer of Reputations, as well as a few of the usual suspects from the Vermiform Appendix.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More Free OSR Stuff...

Free Download HERE.
A prize-winning one-page adventure...

Free Download HERE.
There's more Irving-stuff on the Free Stuff Page.
We might have some new Irving-stuff very soon as well...


Free Download HERE.
We'll have a new and improved character sheet for Labyrinth Lord,
and a few other games shortly.

Free Download HERE.
We have several more tunnels, passages and the like mapped-out and
we plan on making the whole set available as one pdf.

Free Download HERE.
The other two sets of short adventures in this series will be made available in the very near future.
We apologize for letting that go for so long.


Over 4,000 Served...

...and counting. Download Here.

Mr. Nemor Arrives in Wermspittle


Portion of suppressed aethertype purported to depict a so-called 'Nemor Machine' in operation.
'When certain crystals, salt, for example, or sugar, are placed in water they dissolve and disappear. You would not know that they have ever been there. Then by evaporation or otherwise you lessen the amount of water, and lo! there are your crystals again, visible once more and the same as before. Can you conceive a process by which you, an organic being, are in the same way dissolved into the cosmos, and then by a subtle reversal of the conditions reassembled once more?'


The Disintegration Machine
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


They found the raving lunatic wandering about the White Orchard. He showed the tell-tale yellow eyes that came with prolonged exposure to Yellow Wallpaper or the printing industry--both quite unsavory implications. Upon examination by the Zinn Woodsmen, all they could gather from his incoherent babbling was that he wasn't from around there. So he was turned over to the Academy as a foreign scientist, after registering a report on him with the appropriate authorities as a possible subversive or agitator.

The Administrative personnel at the Academy soon realized that the strange man dropped in their laps by those rusty bumpkins was indeed some sort of mechanic or technician. So they set him to taking the usual classroom tests for a first-year student. He excelled at mathematics and quickly revised his answers as he learned to read proper Franzik.

Suspecting they might have a late-bloomer Prodigy on their hands, they handed him over to the Medical Review board who examined him to see if  he was Odd, or just precocious. The results were inconclusive when the Senior Academics learned about the situation through their various snitches, spies and the usual channels.

Those were dark days back then. The international situation was rapidly deteriorating. Civil unrest escalated into all-out civil war in Aman Utal. Plague decimated the populations of Naris, Karlogne, Kaismar and a host of other cities. With war looming on the immediate horizon the Regents decided that they could use a mad man to help them prepare for the worst. Wermspittle was suffering under the Second Pruztian Occupation then. The Academy was under the strict discipline of the Imperial Science Apparatus. The Military Governor appointed by the High Chancellery was most enthusiastic about picking the brain of this new-found foreign genius.



Inspiration: The Disintegration Machine by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the last of the Professor Challenger stories written by Doyle himself and can be found at Project Gutenberg (Australia), among other places such as Classic Literature Library. Also there is a bit of Robert W. Chamber's 'Lethal Chambers' as mentioned in his excellent story The Repairer of Reputations, which is included in The King in Yellow, available at Project Gutenberg. There is also a slight connection to HPL's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Have A Free Mini-Adventure from Hereticwerks

The expurgated version of our free PDF is available via the Free Downloads widget in the right-hand sidebar or from THIS LINK.


Click Here to Download


Have a free PDF of the first level of Clatterdelve from Hereticwerks.

Inside you will find some new monsters, new spells, new magic items, and almost everything you need to make a first foray into Clatterdelve. You'll still need to bring your imagination, dice and some players to the table, but we did the heavy lifting for you.

We assembled this thing in under 16 hours as a personal challenge...if you spot any typos or glaring omissions, let us know and we'll update the thing.

Have fun and Game On!
Jody & Jim / Hereticwerks

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thumbling (Red Bestiary)

They tell a story down in the Low-Lands about how there once was a couple living alone in a small but well-hidden enclave that had been hit hard by a plague that seeped up through the wells and killed everyone else off one autumn. The old couple only had to survive until spring, then they could either hire-on new hands or abandon the place and move on to the East. The months went by slowly as they waited out the bad weather, the biters and the mobs.

The old farm-steader sat and poked at the remains of their cooking fire one winter evening. His wife sat and spun wermfuzz into workable fiber. He leaned back in his creaking chair and sighed deeply. The wife, who still carried the scars of having battled muckwerms and stabberlings and still worse things in the defense of their modest enclave for most of her life stopped her spinning and glared at him with her one good eye. The silence lingered like a fart between them. Finally he cleared his throat and said; “I think it is sad that we have had no children.”

“Ach—but it has not been for lack of trying.” She scowled at him, then dismissed the matter and went back to her spinning. But the idea stuck I her mind; “Even if we did have one, there's not much of a life here for such a young one—they'd have to leave before they grew very big. You know they'd have to go on into the city like all the others.”

“I know.” He stopped poking the fire and went out to check the barricades and fences.

That night the wife fell ill. She was bed-ridden with fever and convulsions. In the space of fewer than seven nights she wasted practically away to skin and bone, save for her belly which swelled-up like a tumor that writhed and gurgled and tormented her badly.

On the seventh night she died as her belly ruptured and a viscous, bloody mass spilled forth. Six Thumblings, they had devoured the seventh while still inside the old woman, pulled themselves free of the gory mess and quickly scampered into hiding to lie in wait for the old farmer to return. They ambushed him. Ate him. Took his thumbs. They've been on the prowl ever since.


The story may or may not be true. Most people agree that it is, if anything, too gentle and too forgiving in its depiction of these once feared and now greatly despised and hated little people.



Thumbling
No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d20+)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7 (A few may wear armor)
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 or weapon-1
Save: F2
Morale: 7

Tiny, dirty-minded, evilly disposed and vicious little people no taller than a grown-man's thumb, these wicked little folk lurk within the small spaces and out-of-the-way places, coming forth at night to cut off the thumb of their victims. During the Achuin Occupation hundreds of Thumblings served as 'Street Sweepers' who terrorized their former neighbors and persecuted their rivals. They switched sides prior to the First Pruztian Occupation, during which time a small cadre of Thumblings were used as special interrogators and operatives by the Military Governor. The Thumblings are hated and reviled for their collaboration with the occupying powers and they are the frequent targets of Todtenhilzig revenge-killings in retaliation for the extreme persecution they inflicted the doll-makers whom they tended to single out for torture and re-education.


SourceThumbling is from German folklore, and has two stories, Thumbling and Thumbling's Travels (also known as Thumbling as Journeyman) that were collected and added to the Grimm Brother's 'Household Tales' collection of fairy tales. These nasty little things do have a few minor similarities to Johnathan Swift's Lilliputians as well as the sort of Little People Mr. Machen featured in his excellent story The White People, but any such resemblance is purely superficial and unintentional on the part of the Thumblings.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 94

Previously...
Bujilli has become aware that Lemuel needs his help urgently...just as he received a strange thimble from a mysterious Seamstress in the middle of the Spring Farm Market. Several goblins are attempting to persuade him to trade the trinket away to them...

Leeja and Mishka meet a Middle Sized Bear wearing a monocle and are surrounded by a larger band of Voormis than they at first realized might be in this place...

Bujilli closed his fingers over the thimble. He didn't have the thing for even a minute before the offers started rolling in...he wondered why...what made this thimble so special?

The reek of radishes and the unwholesome halitosis of the goblins jabbeirng at him with increasingly ridiculous and grandiose sounding offers was getting to him. He stepped out from under the tarp and let the cool Spring rain wash over him. The goblins kept to their master's selling stall, which was a relief. He looked back at the goblins. They were capering and cavorting about their master's stall, noisily trying to connive and convince any and all passersby to come look at their wares, to trade with them while their master slept. He re-visualized the steps involved in forming an Oneiric Bubble again.*

The goblins scurried and hopped, skipped and jumped to get as far away from Bujilli and the hateful spell as they could, but not one of them crossed the line marked out by their master's tarpaulin. None of them were willing, or able, to cross the threshold into the rain. Then he saw the tell-tale glimmer. These goblins were still hollow, mere nightmare-shells summoned to serve the Oneirist. None of them had managed to devour enough flesh to make themselves more real than their master had already allowed. At least not yet. But goblins were mischievous, nasty little things; they'd find a way to subvert the restrictions placed on them, one way or another. Time was on their side. Time and human gullibility, greed and just plain ignorance.

Bujilli considered using the Oneiric Bubble to expunge the goblins from the Market. He knew he could do it, but he wasn't keen on using such a spell in the middle of such a crowded place. He wasn't sure how others might react, what sort of attention he might attract. Suddenly he disliked the very notion of making any sort of impression or being noted or spotted at all. Old reflexes asserted themselves; he felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise like hackles. Someone was watching him. Stalking him.

He left the goblins alone. He had other matters to attend to, like figuring out why the goblins had wanted his thimble so very badly...and why some old Seamstress would hand it to him in the first place.**

The thimble was silver-plated, formed from the yellow metal of the Morlocks and beaten into shape by a hammer that left overlapping spiral impressions in the metal. It was engraved.

Three lines.

One in Aklo that he read as 'There is no one coming.'
Another in Franzik that he guessed meant something like 'No one can save anyone.'
The third was in Etrurian and was even more opaque; 'A stitch in time saves nine.'

Cryptic gibberish. He was half-tempted to spit.

The thimble had cut into the palm of his hand when the weird crone passed it on to him. He had seen his own blood seep into the creepy thing. It was more than just some peculiar bauble. This thimble felt heavy. Dense. Very real. Not like the goblins at all.

But it didn't make any sense to him. He had come to the Market in search of some answers. He knew he was close to something, some deep realization or sudden insight that would help him make sense of it all. He was so close it hurt.

But the cool Spring rain felt good on his face.

He remembered the weather rolling into the mountain passes and hidden valleys he had prowled as a child. Clouds swarming past giant black trees and warped old rocks. Wild sheep and feral goats that were the offspring of runaway that had escaped their tenders and were too much trouble to re-catch. He had watched the rams leap from ridge to ridge and wondered what it might be like to run away like they had...

He closed his fist around the thimble, not wanting to take a chance by slipping it into his belt pouch. No sense letting some thief snatch it away before he could figure out what it was first. He put some distance between himself and the goblins. And his recollections.

Man-height Tripods reeking of green smoke pulled along small wagons and carts laden with produce, preserves and other products that were not available in the Winter. Bujilli watched as farm kids haggled with their customers over smoked hams, loops and string of real sausages, rashers of bacon. A feral girl wearing densely-rolled burlap over a light leather smock nearly ran into him--she was too caught up in directing a clumsy-looking and much overladen mollusc towards a group of cheering yet discretely hooded women from Urdiz. The mollusc looked sickly, the girl skinny; something was not quite right--then he caught the scent of Hard Candy from the girl's breath before she excused herself and continued on through the light rain.

He watched the women tend to the creature, unload the brightly wrapped packages and bales that had been heaped upon its load-bearing flanges. They all wore the ankle-cuffs of factory-workers. Conscripts not much better than slaves who had been sentenced to one of the three remaining mills. They rewarded the girl with a rag doll that she clutched tightly as she ran off, back to wherever her gang had staked-out a place to call their own. The doll snapped its teeth at everyone that got in her way.

The rain slackened, almost by not quite stopped. Bujilli shook the water out of his hair. The Market amazed him. It was colorful, noisy, busy, filled with rich scents, exotic flavors and abundant food; everything that Winter in Wermspittle was not.

A tremor of desperation ran through Bujilli. Lemuel*** was struggling to reach him. The boy was in trouble.

Bujilli could feel Lemuel's fear bleeding through the psychic link they shared. The boy was in trouble. Scared badly. Alone. In a dark place.

The thimble throbbed once. Sharply. Just enough that it was unmistakable. He felt a slight trickle of blood in the palm of his hand. The blood was quickly absorbed by the thimble.

He went around to the back of a wagon piled with deep red bamboo. It was as quiet, as private a spot as he was likely to find in the immediate vicinity. It wasn't ideal, but then what ever is? Bujilli closed his eyes and examined the psychic link to Lemuel. When he was certain it was authentic he acknowledged the boy's attempt to communicate. Allowed the link to open minutely, at first.

Torrents of impressions, raw emotions, garbled images, distorted sounds all cascaded through the link. Bujilli forced the link shut, then extended his own message through the wild and unfocused cavalcade of disconnected information. It took perseverance and determination, but finally he got past the echoing cacophony emanating from the boy's psyche.

"Lemuel; calm yourself. I'm here. What is happening? why have you reached out to me?"

"Bujilli! I'm in big trouble!" The boy practically shouted through the link..

"Where are you?"

"Through the East Gate. Hedrard had to meet with someone beyond the Inner Ramparts. It was a trap. They overwhelmed the others. Took the two of us through the ruined city. Weak Points. Look for a broken griffin. Third Greenhell on the right--"

Shocking pain spattered across Bujilli's head, heart and hands. He nearly dropped the thimble.

Sheering and muttering obscenities under its breath, a purple-eyed stranger stood over him wielding a galvanic prod.

The mud. Bujilli rose back to his feet. He was coated in mud where he had spasmed and rolled about under the ungentle caress of the sizzling, snapping prod. The link with Lemuel was shut down. Sudden, unexpected pain can do that.

Bujilli laughed. This boy in gaudy, baggy clothes with the galvanic prod reminded him of Ilzinna+ and her brother Ahven. It was the eyes that did it. Oily, swirling purple irises that resembled troubling clouds wrapped around a bottomless pit of a pupil; it was not a look one would easily forget.

"I don't have time for this..."



* See Episode 92.
** Bujilli received a silver thimble from a strange crone in Episode 93.
*** Lemuel first appeared in Episode 21, fought with Bujilli in Episode 22, collapsed in the throes of a hideous transformation brought on by abuse of Hard Candy in Episode 23, was lent a helping hand by Bujilli in Episode 24, became something of a 'blood-brother' to Bujilli in Episode 25. We've seen Lemuel off and on since then. He seems to have made some significant progress in becoming more human and less a shapeless, loathsome mass of corruption. We last saw Lemuel in Episode 81.
+ Ilzinna's body was discovered in Episode 82. Her brother Ahven showed up in Episode 83, and killed himself in the course of spewing forth a Purple Wisp that had been ritually bound into his body in Episode 86, preventing Bujilli from learning anything important and nearly killing Leeja in the process. Both of them were Half-Umbri and had ties to the Purple Horde, and were sent after Bujilli by someone they claimed to be their 'Grandfather.' Ilzinna was possessed by the spirit residing in an ivory mask; the mask was destroyed, but the spirit fled. 


Meanwhile...


"I am so glad that you missed." The bear squinted at Leeja and Mishka through its dusty monocle.

Mishka snapped-open her heirloom pepperbox pistol and quickly re-loaded. Her eyes never once left the bear. Her hands shook slightly, but she didn't let that stop her. Fear only ever worked if you let it stop you from doing something. Her mother had taught her that. One sharp lesson after another until she'd learned it in her bones.

Leeja looked at the Voormi warrior standing less than three feet from her. It, too, was staring at the bear.

"Ingglak vasha naatu ber jut..." The Voormi snarled and whined at the bear.

The Middle Sized Bear listened intently, nodded sagely; considered the Voormis words very carefully.

Click. Mishka readied herself for the worst. Her gutting knife gleamed in the dim light. She intended to sell her life dearly.

"Trespassing is a curious thing to be accused of by those with no better claim on a place such as this than what the Voormis have. After all, I was here before either of you, even before the unpleasant couple who used to dwell upstairs or the terrible old man down in the basement." The bear snuffled and lowered its head to examine Leeja more closely, more directly; "I am of the opinion that the recent bit of unpleasantness between yourself and the Voormis was merely a spontaneous incident born from both parties' fear and uncertainty and sparked into violence based on a mutual appreciation for self defense. I don't think either of you ought to be holding any grudges. Do you agree?"

Leeja nodded. "Yes. I do." She almost reached out to restrain Mishka but quickly thought better of it.

"Excellent. The Voormis in this particular band are not such bad sports as the tumor-mongers I had to drive out a few months ago, and they do keep the pigeons honest." The bear nodded its huge head enthusiastically then began to respond to the Voormis in kind. The Voormis was reluctant to give ground, at first, but the bear's sheer erudition and impressive volume overcame the warrior's wounded ego and distrust of strangers.

The snouted warrior glared at Mishka. His pronounced canines protruded over his black bottom lip. He was clearly agitated.

"Ah, the brave young warrior here has a point we few, we happy few, need to resolve before we can all go forth in blissful equilibrium, each to follow their own star to its inevitable end."

"What point?" Mishka glared back at the Voormi. Their mutual antipathy flared out from them like a fluctuating magnetic field between two poles. They eyed each other with bad intent and both looked ready to go after the other with everything they could muster.

"The Voormis claim this building as their clannish dominion. You have intruded upon them, as they see it, and injured several of their warriors--"

"We acted as necessary, in self-defense."

"Most assuredly. However, you have seriously injured several of their warriors and disgraced the other members of this fine fellow's little hunting group..."

"They should know better than to waylay strangers. It's a dangerous business. Not something well-suited to the inept...or the weak." Mishka put as much contempt into her words as possible. The Voormi might not understand the language she spoke, but he did get the gist of the insult. They were highly sensitive to tonality, the Voormis; their own language tended to carry as much information buried in the overtones and harmonics as in the word-sounds.

"Sound advice. No doubt. However--"

"Excuse me," Leeja stepped closer to the Middle Sized Bear; "We are passing through this place. If the Voormis allow us to leave peacefully, we'll not trouble them again." She smiled sweetly.

"And if they insist on--"

"If they do not have the courage, the confidence, the good sense to let us pass...then we will have no choice but to make them regret their decision for several generations to come."

The bear balked. Growled under its breath. Looked deep into Leeja's gold-green eyes and began to rattle off a series of harsh barks and commands to the Voormi.

The Voormi warrior faced Leeja. Nodded once, solemnly. He drew forth a heavily-carved bone flute and set it before her. Then he turned and left without another word.

"Congratulations young lady. You've not only managed to disgrace the chief's only living son, and severely injure his two major rivals, you've now given him the ultimate prestige a Voormi could ask for--he has successfully negotiated the withdrawal of a terrifying demoness and her slave who was on the verge of wiping out the entire tribe. He'll be made chief within a week or less, I imagine."

"And this thing?" Leeja gestured to the bone flute.

"All such dealings must have a token."

"I see." Leeja reached down into her utility belt. Her fingers bumped against a couple of smooth, oblong things. She opened the pouch and looked inside. The little Slasher spawnling she had adopted back at Idvard's old attic-library had deposited four eggs before it died. She drew out one of the eggs and placed it next on the dusty floor as she picked-up the bone flute.

"This might prove useful to the little chieftain. It is a Slasher's egg. It seems inert right now..."

"But it will become very active once it is soaked in fresh blood. An excellent gift. I will see to it that he receives it. Might I also confer your blessing upon his impending chieftain-hood?"

"Yes. Please do."

"Good. So you'll be leaving now?"

"Yes."

"That is good too. I do not wish to be rude, however, if you were to leave from the West entrance, through the old freight elevator, you will be able to avoid a great deal of unnecessary bloodshed and violence."

"Thank you. We'll do as you suggest."

The Middle-Sized Bear nodded wisely, bowed slightly, scooped up the little egg oh so delicately in its claws and waddled off towards the Voormis' barricaded section of the old building.

Leeja got back on the elevator. Mishka hesitated.

"You meant it, didn't you?"

"Of course."

"You would have massacred their entire tribe?"

"Only those that didn't immediately surrender."

"You scare me."

"Good."

Leeja started to close the gate. Mishka got onboard and pushed the button for the basement. She barely suppressed a shiver.

They descended together through the dimly lit atrium. Down past balustrades and arches. Behind walls and windows. Finally the elevator stopped in the basement. It was well lit. The walls were spottily white-washed and a gritty coating of borax or something similar covered the floor to a depth well past their ankles.

Leeja stepped off the elevator and started walking. She quickly found a wide corridor running the length of the basement. Huge arches were set every couple hundred feet. Behind each were pallets, crates, racks of boxes; storage and supplies from the old days. Beady little red, green and yellow eyes scampered or hopped about in the darkness beyond the arches. Rats and other things. This was now their domain, for the most part.

The elevators were marked in Franzik, with small plaques of some cheap substance screwed into place underneath repeating the designation in Pruztian. They quickly found the West elevator and set it into motion. The heavily reinforced doors overhead parted and they emerged into a light rain. Leeja pushed the 'down' button and sent the elevator back. The freight-doors closed. She didn't want to leave them open for just anyone. The Bear had been very civil, after all.

"This way." Mishka started off through the rain.

Leeja followed her guide. The girl was a study in contradictions. No doubt she mystified her nearly as much, or more.

They entered some sort of festival. No. It was a market of some kind.

Mishka veered and wound her way through the crowds, avoiding the large moving objects and dodging the smaller, more insistent shapes. They passed a stall where a gaggle of goblins yelled, hooted and tried to get her attention but Mishka did not stop nor slow down, so she kept going.

"There!" Mishka pointed to some silly bastard rolling around in the mud next to a cart-load of red bamboo.

"I've done what Mama Rudta asked. I'm going back to camp now."

"Thank you." Leeja offered the girl her hand.

She shook her head; "We're Wanderers; we never say good-bye. We're far more likely to run into people you bid farewell than those you don't, or so our elders like to tell us. Either way, I don't wish to cross paths with you again Leeja...not without good reason." Mishka turned and quickly was gone, seemingly swallowed up bu the riotous throngs and moving masses of produce and people in the Market.

Leeja went to Bujilli. He was facing some boy in baggy clothes, all decked-out with fancy chains, ear-rings, a terribly looking cape edged with a tasteless orange fringe. He reminded her of Ahven. He also has a galvanic prod and was obviously moving to strike Bujilli with it.

Leeja...

[You Decide!]



++ Leeja first found the spawnling in Episode 38.

Bujilli and Leeja are now reunited.  

Initiative: Roll 1d6 each for (1) Leeja, (2) Bujilli, (3) The Boy, (4) Some Random Passerby.

Reaction: Now we could use a Reaction roll for the boy with the galvanic prod. Roll 2d6, apply a penalty of -2, and check the result against the Monster Reaction Table on p. 52 of Labyrinth Lord.

As always, if you have questions or suggestions let me know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

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

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