Friday, October 31, 2014

Six Altogether Ooksome Things


The theme for this month's  RPG Blog Carnival is Things That Go Bump in the Night, so here are six unsubtle prowlers from Wermspittle...


  1. Relish Tray Jambertan. A defrocked monk from a burned-out monastery (he denies any culpability in the arson), Jambertan wears a smooth ivory death mask that was carved in the likeness of his defunct order's Master. His heavy fur-trimmed habit drips blood from around the collar, just below the mask and he leaves a faint trail of quickly evaporating ectoplasmic slime behind him everywhere he goes. His also wears a pair of mis-matched children's mittens all the time, both of them filthy and crusted with blood and disgusting bits of rotting flesh. He carries an ornate silver relish tray and continually asks everyone he meets if they've seen the sign for a traveling galvanic extravaganza that visited Wermspittle over three hundred years ago...

    Relish Tray Jambertan (unique) [Abdead Servant of the Cerulean Sign; AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 5/14, HD 4*, #AT 1, DG 1d4 (relish tray) or 1d4+2 (flensing knife), SV F4, ML 6, Special: Any blue object presented forcefully causes Jambertan to re-roll his Initiative and Morale; Immune to Charm or Sleep, All non-galvanic weapons only do half damage, Regains 1 hit point for every 4 hit points of living flesh he can consume from still-living victims, can be Turned as an 8 HD monster (those who specifically oppose Phantoms treat him as 4HD); Jambertan can acquire 1d4 random spells if given enough time alone with a dead spell-caster so he can cut-out grisly little gobbets from their brain and by consuming them. This would be a bad idea. Please don't feed the weirdo.]

  2. Fingers Calhoun. A severed thieve's hand that didn't quite work out as a hand of glory. Reeking of foul rites and worse hygiene, this gangrenous thing flutters about like a far too soft spider in all the most disconcerting ways...

    Abdead Hand (unique) [AL Evil, MV 60' (20'), AC 7/12, HD 4, #AT 1, DG 1d4, SV F2, ML 7, Special: Gets one chance to sucker punch one victim per encounter (+4 to hit, double damage: Anyone that has met the thing before is immune), Upon losing more than 50% of its hit points the hand will make an obscene necromantic gesture that will call forth the rest of the dead thief's mutilated cadaver to fight for it. If the hand is destroyed the shambling cadaver is rendered defunct.If the hand escapes, it will regain hit points at the rate of 1 point per full night spent in a defiled or unhallowed graveyard or crypt.]

    Calhoun's Cadaver [AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 7/12, HD 6, #AT 1, DG 1d4+2 (serrated short-sword), SV F2, Special: Can be Turned as an 8 HD monster during first 4 rounds, then decreases to 7 HD for next 4 rounds, then 6HD the next four, and so on until reaching 0HD at which point the cadaver collapses into a grotesque mess and slowly dribbles and drips back into the darksome interstitial realm the hand called it from originally. The HD value for Turning purposes is completely separate from the things actual HD/hit points. If the cadaver is reduced to 0-hp, it collapses back into oblivion as though successfully Turned. The serrated short-sword it carries is cursed so that all forms of normal healing inflict half damage on the wielder and all damage sustained is tallied until such time as it equals double their normal hit points, at which point they must make a Save or become Abdead for 1 hour each night. The damage tally continues, and each time they reach double their hit points in accumulated damage, they must Save to avoid adding another hour to their nocturnal Abdead state.]

  3. Hans Gretarm. Tall, morose and extremely calloused over three-quarters of his asymmetrically-distorted body, Hans was held-back from going into town by his parents who believed in the patent cures of a charlatan posing as a travelling side-show priest. He barely survived puberty, suffering terrible deformities as the result of the lingering things in the soil of the Low-Lands. Finally, after throttling the preening potion peddler, Hans was sent off to the city. He desperately wishes to have a friend. He'd do anything for a friend...

    Hans Gretarrm (unique) [Huge, Unfortunate Adolescent; AL N, MV 90' (30'), AC 4, HD 3, #AT 2, DG 2d4/2d4 (fists) or by weapon (+3 STR bonus), SV F3, ML 12 (fearless), Special: Hans ignores the first 2 points of all melee attacks due to the heavy callousing of his skin; He gets a second re-roll on all failed Saves; and he regenerates 1 hit point per hour unless wounded with salt, acid or spells. He requires twice the normal amount of time to recover from damage inflicted by spells. He also gains a +2 to hit and +4 to damage bonus against all priests, peddlers and all purveyors of patent medicines. A good surgeon might be able to help him with some of the worst of his deformities, but for the most part he was kept down on the farm too long and there's little that can be really done for him, other than to prescribe some laudanum or other pain-killer. If someone does manage to befriend this huge boy, he will be loyal unto death.]

  4. zZooglik. They only speak Zirsk, an obscure language few in this place know, but that is the least of their problems. She is completely covered in a glossy coat of luxurious golden hair that they can manipulate like a shimmering aura of prehensile tendrils that extends across a 12' radius and can lift up to 10 pounds. zZooglik was summoned from the bower-tower of her ancestors by some unwary apprentice who meant to call up a minor demon. zZooglik wants to go home before she delivers her babies in this bad-bad place...

    zZooglik (unique) [Rapunzik; AL C, MV 180' (60'), AC 4, HD 2, #AT 1, DG 1d4 (braided hair-whip) or 1d6+1 (glass scimitar), SV F4, ML 12 (fearless), Special: Commands all vines/thorns in a 30' radius (including Red Weeds); Imbue with Fertility/Sterility on touch three times per day; all curative spells cast by her cause small tendrils and shoots to grow out of the repaired flesh (Save or slowly transform into a demi-plant hybrid); Has spell-casting abilities of a 4th level Cleric/Druid with focus on healing and living things (plants). ]

  5. Pask. Sharp-dressed and immaculately groomed, Pask's manners are impeccable, which is quite an accomplishment for a Strange-Pig wearing a man-suit...

    Outer-Pask (unique) [Man-Suit Flesh-Construct; AL C, MV 180' (60'), AC 6/13, HD 3, #AT 1, DG 1d4 (Glove-slap) or 1d4+4 (+2 pig-bonded sword-cane), SV F2, ML 3 (squealing coward), Special: Monocle over left-eye gives Pask ability to Spot Hidden/Detect Secret Doors/Discern Ley-lines/Detect Magic; Pask's sword-cane will attack all non-porcine-types who attempt to wield it and will never willingly serve whomever kills Pask (they are most excellent friends); the Man-suit cannot function apart from Pask.]

    Inner-Pask (unique) [Strange-Pig; AL C, MV 120' (60'), AC 9/10, HD 3, #AT 1, DG 1d4 (bite) or by weapon, SV F2, ML 3 (squealing coward), Special: Pask takes no damage until the man-suit is completely destroyed first; Once per week Pask must wallow and gorge on filth or suffer a loss of 1 HD; It requires two weeks and over a hundred pounds of fresh meat and leather to construct a new man-suit during which time Pask must not be disturbed. He has hired the same group of street-kids to watch over his basement shop the last couple of times this was necessary...they are getting suspicious...and greedy. Pask is a great fan of trains and the Unterrail especially, collecting every bit of ephemera related to such things as he can get his piggy hands on. Pask recently met and became infatuated with a torch-singer who has made him re-examine his motivations and his life; he is seriously considering dropping his one-pig vendetta against the Butchers...]

  6. Tidlin Mur. She's either a ratty-haired hag, a svelte songstress from one of the smoky dives along the High and Dry Wharf where the airships used to moor, or something else...something very hungry...

    Tidlin Mur (unique) [Arachnoganger; AL C, MV 180' (60'), AC 8/11, HD 4, #AT 2, DG 1d4 (hair-pins) or 1d4+2 (needle-knife) or strangulation (silk garrotte: +4 to hit by surprise, Save or suffer 1d4 temporary CON loss; upon reaching zero-CON the victim is rendered paralyzed in a death-like coma for 1 hour and is incapable of physically defending themselves), SV F6, ML 9 (will attempt to parley before fleeing), Special: Immune to Charm or Illusion spells; uses ESP at will; Can shapechange into hag-form, temptress-form, or spiderish-form only when unobserved; if killed she will rise within 1d4 hours in one of the other remaining forms and no longer be able to assume the former shape. She can only digest blood, and prefers to arrange things so that the local authorities suspect nosferatu-types and vampire-cultists, which has attracted the notice and enmity of certain parties. She has fallen in love with Pask, but does not know the truth about him yet...when she does, things might get messy...]


This month's RPG blog Carnival is being hosted by the Of Dice and Dragons, so go click over to their blog and check out what other horrid things people have been posting as part of this festival of frightfulness.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 108

Previously...
Hedrard has 'altered' six hunters from a band of degenerates, Morons that have been living in a mostly abandoned section of the Gormenstille. She intends to make the Morons a deal they cannot refuse. She wants to go home and they will assist her in this matter. She's through playing around...

"So now we have a way up." Leeja watched as more pigeons descended from above to alight upon various shoots, twigs and branches of the rapidly curling and sprawling Red Weeds growing up all over the place. Already a dim violet glow suffused everything underneath the gurgly, blood-colored vegetation.

"Yes. We do. Shall we get going before one or another of the old leaders' rivals decides to start making speeches?" Hedrard wasn't smiling. She wasn't joking. There was a harsh, raw edge to her now. She was a hag. This was a side of her they knew they should have expected, but it shocked them both just the same.

Bujilli did not respond. He was busy examining the mosaic-covered panels of the dome overhead. Hundreds of precisely formed and elegantly crafted panels supported by a vast network of golden threads, wires, bristles cilia (?) were slowly, continually sliding over and around one another in an almost hypnotic dance of celestial figures. Astronomy and astrology were combined into a highly developed aesthetic and realized by a mastery of the mechanical arts he'd never witnessed before. It was beautiful. Obviously the work of vast, coll and unsympathetic intellects; it was an implacable work of practicality completely devoid of sentimentality. As lovely as the individual pieces may be, this was a working mechanism, it was a machine with a purpose. He just had to be clever enough to spot it, to discern it in the details, to deduct it from the clues he could observe...as his Uncle had taught him with the liberal use of a stiff cane along his backside if he showed signs of dithering or second-guessing himself.

The he saw it.

Mars. It had to be the planet Mars. He carefully examined the panels surrounding the red planet, traced the delicate filaments suspended within the dome from major points of interest to other locations...and it had to be Mars. Not the least for all the golden filaments linking across the empty space to another planet on another panel. The third planet out from the great old sun.

Yes. He knew the fundamentals of applied astrology from reading his Agrippa and other treatises and manuscripts that his Uncle had pointedly denied him access. He stole them and read them to spite the old bastard...which now he knew had been the old sorcerer's plan all along. The entire dome was a sort of observatory, one that continually updated itself with the current positions of the known planetary and other bodies kept track of by astronomers or sailors and mythologized by astrologers and poets. And it was still working. This was precisely the kind of place where someone could slowly and surely, calmly and methodically plot out grand designs and solar-system-scale schemes.

Scheiss.

There along the edges of timeless Yellow Metal, picked-out in gold and lapis lazuli, mauve gems and flesh-colored stones were the sculpted forms of Mucoids capering, squiggling about in front of a border design made up of overlapping tripods.

The distinct green smoke given off by their machines sizzled and shimmered just barely visible at the very bottom edge of the whole dome assembly--some sort of ventilation carried it out and away from the chamber. The central shaft overhead. The shaft overhead would be suffused with the Green Smoke.

"Bujilli?" Leeja placed her hand on his shoulder. Her voice carried a heavy load of concern. She feared mind control and related things for very good--or very bad--reasons, depending on your opinion regarding her background growing up in Aman Utal.

"This place was built by Mucoids..."

"No. It was built For them by their servants. These people.Their ancestors, actually." Hedrard raised her left hand and called forth:

"Ulla! Ulla! ULLA!"

Like sheep they all looked up from what they were doing and stared at Hedrard. There was a strange expectation radiating from them. A hunger occupied their eyes in a way no sane, no rational human being could conceive. They were free and wild and beyond good and evil., they had long ago thrown away laws and morals, they lived in a perpetually reactive mob-mentality and would gleefully shout and kill and revel in joy like ecstatic maenads completely devoid of conscience or guilt or troubling questions. Bujilli had been raised in a rude sorcerer's yurt surrounded by demons, shades, geists and other foul things, but these people frightened him.

Four women approached Hedrard with expressions of blood-thirsty adoration on their faces. Their fingernails were long and tapered to razor-sharp points and glossy red with the same kind of enamel that they also used on their teeth, which were filed into very sharp points. Each one of the women carried a knotted string of ornately-carved bones and twisted bundles of sinew and rough chunks of glass and metal painstakingly hacked out of old machines. They grovelled at Hedrard's feet until granted permission to rise with a simple grunt. One after the other they placed the clicking, clacking strings of grisly and grimy trinkets over her head to rest on her shoulders like wreaths or the gold-chains of a rich merchant of Drun-Garlo. Once they had placed their garlands upon the hag, each woman withdrew back into the whispering, sussurrent mob eagerly awaiting her divine proclamation.

"I am now She Who Must Be Obeyed. These people will do as I command. What would you have me tell them?"

"Can they really help us to get out of this place? If they do know how to get out...why are they still here?" Leeja was skeptical of the value of dallying any longer than absolutely necessary among these feral degenerates. She clearly did not trust them.

"This is where they live. Where their ancestors lived. They know of nowhere else."

"There is a lot that we just simply do not know..."

"Exactly. That is how life works dear. So what would you like for the un-nice people to do for us now?"

Bujilli opened his mouth. Closed it. He had far too many questions, but once he started asking them, they'd never get going and he had a definite dread of spending any longer than necessary in this place, among these people who looked like simple sheep but were really more akin to ravening beasts all red in tooth and claw.

"Let's see if they know of a relatively safe route to the roof-tops. If they can help us reach the roof-line, we can test the Synchronocitor and see if it will take us home...or if we have to take the long way back..."

Hedrard smirked slightly at Bujilli's reference to 'home.' She had been right about him.

"Yux-galla Omon dilig vilik kov!"

Shouting and babbling the Morons scampered and stalked all around their nest that was now more some sort of bower at the center of a massive growth of Red Weeds. They took-up handfuls of slender javelins, slathered some sort of ceremonial red paste across themselves in a frenzy of ritualistic preparation then practically stampeded up the ramp farthest across the nest-area from where Hedrard, Bujilli and Leeja stood watching.

The four women took up positions before the six hunters who served as Hedrard's honor-guard. The women clucked and scolded and gesticulated towards the direction everyone else was going.

They followed.

What else was there to do?

Bujilli wished he could examine the sliding panels of the observatory in more detail, but it would take weeks, months of his time to do it justice. These people would never allow that. He marveled at how someone could manage to build something as intricate and as wonderfully durable as this installation without the use of wheels of any kind or sort.

He stopped. Looked back at the damaged orrery dangling from an asterisk of intersecting beams. Cables. Rods. Gears? But Mucoids did not use such things as gears.

He looked more closely. There were signs of intense heat-damage. Whoever had set-up the orrery, they had come into this place after it was already built and in operation. He could just see where the beams had been forced into place as a crude after-thought, a sort of metallic tumor, one that someone else had excised incompletely with Mucoid-style weaponry. Heat rays.

"What is it?" Leeja had her hand-axe and stiletto both out.

"We need to get moving before--"

Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam-vam-Vam

Bodies really did explode when subjected to intense heat. Especially those far enough back from the ones instantly vaporized into ash that the heat was somewhat dissipated.

The masters had returned. Three Mucoids astride tripodal chariot-constructs strode down the ramp-way leading off to their left. They were burning down the Red Weeds, the Morons and anything else that got in their way. They very clearly intended to kill the intruders who had subverted their herd.

What should Bujilli, Leeja and Hedrard do next?

You Decide!


Now What?
First we roll for Initiative (LL, p. 50); 1d6 each for Bujilli, Leeja, the Morons and the Mucoids. Bujilli gains a bonus of +2 because he already suspected something was up with the Mucoids. Hedrard begins the next episode with the highest initiative because she was deliberately provoking the Mucoids and intended to start a fight with them for some reason.

Then we need a Morale Check for the Morons (LL, p. 56), rolling 2d6 to see how the Morons react to their former masters mowing them down with heat rays like vengeful elder gods.

We'll need at least one Saving Throw (LL, p. 54-55) for Bujilli, Leeja and Hedrard, using a D20.

A few (6 or 7 ought to do) random D20 rolls would come in handy for determining who hits whom and how well, or how badly they miss.

Then we need to decide whether the group is going to flee the scene (and in which direction), or whether they intend to stand their ground, or go on the offensive and if so, what attacks will they use (particular spells, specific weapons, pointed words of displeasure?).

There are four ramps leading out of the nest-area. The first one leads off to the place the morons were leading Hedrard. The second one is a mystery. The third one is the one Bujilli and his group entered this place. The fourth one is the one where the Mucoids came in with heat rays a blazin'. We can refer to them as 1,2,3,and 4 respectively.

As always, if you have any questions or want to vote for a particular course of action or specific thing to do next please let us know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

You Decide!

Previous                            Next

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


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

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

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

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Torchbearer (Tactical Automaton)

My life has been so short that I really know nothing whatever. I was only made day before yesterday. What happened in the world before that time is all unknown to me...


Torchbearer (Fackelträger)
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40'0
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 4d6 (burst of flame)
Save: F6
Morale: 12

Torchbearers are a type of Straw Trooper, packed with dry straw and coated with pitch, tar or creosote scraped from chimneys or any other flammable substances right at hand. These soft-automatons are held together by old belts, knotted cords and bits of twine or cast-off bits of rope. They resemble Stretcher-Bearers, Stick-Men and Scarecrows but are far less sturdy and intended to be destroyed in the course of carrying out their suicidal incendiary attack upon designated targets.

Originally raised in desperation, they are equipped with hooded lanterns, miner lamps or long-hafted torches -- whatever is readily available -- and sent in the direction of the enemy forces to set fire to their stores, baggage trains and ammunition depots. Cheap and effective, they have been used to break sieges, burn down recalcitrant villages, to spoil croplands behind retreating armies and a multitude of atrocities both large and small.

They hear nothing and have no true intelligence. Once their torch is lit, they run at full speed in a straight line toward whatever they are pointed at and do their best to set fire to everything they come into contact with along the way. They can 'see' clearly up to 300' in most conditions, having no difficulty moving through Black Smoke or clouds of fighting gas. In addition they are unaffected by Hold, Charm, Sleep, ESP, most forms of glamer or illusion and Fear effects. Only clerics focused on combating machines, constructs and automata can attempt to Turn these things but do so as though they were 6 HD monsters.

A typical Torchbearer remains viable for 1d4 Turns per HD and cannot be healed, repaired or recovered. When their time is up, or they reach their intended target, they burst into flames causing 4d6 damage in a 10' radius.


Commandant Zulmer of the the Wall Guard has come under intense criticism for allegedly approving a plan to bolster the units along the Inner Ramparts with an unverified number of Strohtruppen and salvaged Fyters. Some of the most scathing condemnation has come from the ultra-conservative Black Rose Coalition who control nearly a third of the Security Council. Representatives of the Black Rose demand that instead of resorting to such inhuman things as Straw Troopers to reinforce the ranks of the seriously depleted Wall Guard units, that they instead return to the time-honored practice of utilizing undead soldiers...

Source of Inspiration: Torchbearers are pretty much a version of the Scarecrow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as seen through the distorting lens of Arthur Machen: "...it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead." They are the product of an awful lore taught primarily to the Umheimlich Korps and a select few other special units of the Imperial Pruztian Army during the time of the First Pruztian Occupation of Wermspittle, when it was still considered a state secret. After the withdrawal of Pruztian forces, prior to the Second Occupation, a number of training manuals detailing the Pruztian methods of crafting these, and several similar soft-automata, were seized upon by freedom fighters and agents of the Academy effectively ending the Pruztian monopoly on such things.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Low-End Loot: Table VI

Low-End Loot, Table VI

  1. A ball of grotty yarn dripping with saliva. It used to belong to a very big cat.
  2. The hardened steel at the middle section of this crow-bar has been turned to lead. No refunds.
  3. Three screw-drivers in a heavy oil-stained canvas roll-up case. All of the tips are chipped, twisted and bent.
  4. Airship goggles; the left lens is cracked, the right one is missing, otherwise in fine condition.
  5. One very ugly scarf knitted in uneven stripes over thirty feet long when stretched out. It might hold as much as four hundred pounds, for a little while, before splitting apart.
  6. Jeweler's loupe packed full of reeking black mold. The mold is fairly harmless, though it is incredibly flammable.
  7. A single boot, completely waterproof and with a very good bit of tread, but no laces.
  8. This letter opener was hand-carved from Boreal Sea Beast ivory and glows a subtle shade of pink when it is exposed to most poisons. In desperation it can be used to inflict 1-2 points of damage with a base 60% chance to break and ruin the piece, if you insist.
  9. The scratched-up and tarnished frame of an antique hand-mirror. The mirror itself was removed long ago. There is dried blood on the handle.
  10. It's a unicorn horn...made from papier mache filled with 36 dried orange beetles. The beetles release a fragrant smoke when burned that has the tendency to made those exposed ravenously hungry.
  11. Spackle Knife; +1 to hit and damage versus all Gobbling Grouts. Takes on a dim green glow whenever an Attack Spackle is within 100'.
  12. Six small tar-stained burlap sacks that spontaneously unravel into a tangled mess of fibers when exposed to water, creating a nasty, sticky plug.
  13. A case of 142 medium-sized corks. One corner of the case shows signs of having been chewed by rats who quickly lost interest.
  14. Four blue-tinted wigs packed inside a partially-crushed hat box. Very much out of fashion.
  15. Zinn-plated canteen that fumes and foams over with a putrid ochre slop that reeks of rotten peaches for half an hour every time water is poured into it.
  16. A wooden bucket that holds twelve gallons of water as though it were only one.
  17. Elegant black mask. Anyone donning it must Save at -2 or be burned horribly by acid across their face. Requires a combined STR of 22 to remove the thing. For every round it remains in place, the victim must Save at -1 or lose 1 point of CHAR. Anyone losing 3+ points of CHAR to the mask becomes permanently scarred.
  18. Six pair of rubberized Line-Man's gauntlets, still bundled together by a rubber band. Grant wearer +2 to all Saves vs. Electrical/Galvanic effects.
  19. Glass-cutting tool, well-worn and inscribed with the initial P. Q. T.
  20. Top hat containing three doves, two rabbits and a deck of blood-soaked playing cards. The animals are all dead and the cards all stick together and are ruined. Examining the hat-band reveals three small yellow-green gems that might not be paste.
  21. Femur-bone flute that grants the bearer a +4 bonus to all reaction rolls with Winged Monkeys, so long as they never actually play the thing. If the proper tune is performed using this item, the flute casts Charm Winged Monkey (at 8th level) once per day, however at the expiration of the spell they incur a -4 penalty to all reaction rolls with Winged Monkeys for the next week.
  22. Beetle-Ward stamped in cheap tin on a thin red cord. Continually repels all Beetles within 30' radius. Each beetle repelled by the thing costs 1 charge, it currently has 3d10 charges.
  23. Morlock Cod-Piece. Wearer ignores first 6 points of damage from hostile spells every two hours.
  24. Black Lamp. When lit, the lamp creates a 12' diameter globe of Darkness for as long as it remains lit.
  25. Pitch-fork, +2 versus all Soft Automata, but has a cumulative 5% chance to break each time it is used in combat.
  26. (1d4) Green Pearls in a pouch crafted from translucent fish-hide. Each Pearl will remove all poison effects if it is pulverized into a fine powder and mixed with beer--never wine. Mixing the pearl dust with wine will make it into a virulent toxin that will reduce the victim to green sludge within 4 rounds.
  27. Four tiny mole-harnesses. Each one has a little brass bell attached.
  28. Small rectangular wooden case covered with brittle black velvet. Inside the case is an oblong lens of some sort of unnatural crystal that allows anyone holding it to see into walls to a depth of 2d6 inches. The visibility shifts every two minutes. It only works on walls and similar architectural structures, not on people or beasts.
  29. Brass horn. The jaunty blue tassels are worth a fair bit to a collector of militaria. Even if it is a replica; very few of these survived the demise of the Great Kapitain Thaliss and his failed attempt to take over the Privy Council nearly three hundred years ago.
  30. Ivory-inlaid planchette from a missing talking board. Anyone touching this thing is compelled to lie for so long as they remain in contact with it.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Index: Low-End Loot

Low-End Loot: An Index to the Series

Scavengers and Foragers dare the dangers of the Burned Over District, sifting through wreckage and crawling about in ruins in search of forgotten or buried stockpiles of food or medicines, caches of useful things left-over from before the last war...but those sorts of finds are increasingly more difficult to uncover or discover. A lot of what they find tends to be so much Trinkets and Trash or Low-End Loot...




Six Headless and Heedless Things

Whatever you do, don't lose your head...especially not here...


 Graffiti in Irving's Alley


The Guillotine never caught-on in Wermspittle, even after hanging was banned in response to the proliferation of Alraunes and Mandrakes and worse things spawned from the spilled seed of executed criminals. But even so, there are plenty of people and other things who have lost their heads, or more...



  1. Bruno. Nine feet tall at the shoulders, perhaps slightly less on the left with the slight curvature of the spine he gained through lingering overlong in the Low-Lands as a child. Bruno was always an unlucky child. Not finding much in the way of prospects and failing his Entrance Exams, he ran with some Gutter Urchins and Feral Children for a time before he ran afoul of Lucius Pennyroyal. The serum did wonders for the boy's physique, but the brain damage had been extreme, so Lucius removed his head and replaced it with a globe of reinforced Plattnerized greenglass that was originally intended to only hold the boy's soul in place in order to keep his body alive and useful...but the glass globe has turned out to be a much more powerful Geist-Trap than Lucius expected and now poor Bruno shares the globe--and control over the hulking monstrosity of a body--with other spirits and poor Bruno is having a hard time coping...

    Host-Body (unique) [Huge, Possessed Headless Hulk; AL C, MV 180' (60'), AC 5/14, HD 12, #AT 2, DG 2d6/2d6 (fists), SV F12, ML (2d6: randomly determined every time he takes damage), Special: The Greenglass Globe containing Bruno's geist, as well as 1d4 random minor spirits, tends to shift out of phase until the host-body sustains over 50% damage. The host-body is immune to all mind-influencing, Charm, hypnosis and related effects while under control by the spirits in the Globe.]

    Geist-Globe (unique) [Modified Magic Jar receptacle; AC 3/16, HD 6, SV MU 8. Special: If destroyed, the geists trapped inside this globe will be set loose for good or ill, but Bruno's spirit will remain bound to his drastically altered body unless suitably exorcized. Shards of the globe can be used as +1 weapons against geists and spirits, or to form a geist-trap, if one knows how to craft such things.

    Bruno's Geist (unique) [Bound spirit; AC 0/19 (requires special weapon to hit), HD 4, #AT 1, DG 2d4 (Vitality-drain), SV T4, ML (2d6: randomly determined each time host-body takes damage, upon failing Morale check, another spirit takes over for 1d6 Turns. Special: Since Pennyroyal's incarceration in the Gormenstille, only Bruno knows where the bad doktor's last remaining samples of his serum can be found... ]

  2. Lirg. They took his skull and left his geist trapped in an old lantern that they clamped into place within his rib cage. Try as he might, he cannot recall who did this to him or why. The Chapel Guard discharged him as unfit for duty, otherwise he's pretty much a typical reanimated skeleton...one with a lantern holding a blue flame where his heart used to be...

    Lirg (unique) [Skeleton; AL N, MV 60' (20'), AC 4/15, HD 6, #AT 1, DG 1d6 (short sword), SV F6, ML 12 (fearless), Special: Lirg can perceive everything within a 20' radius as though using a True Seeing spell. He can only communicate with Mediums, Geist-talkers or spirit-touched. He desperately wants to know who did this to him and why... ]

  3. Tazger Yalg. Accursed and bereft of all flesh, Tazger must endure the humiliation of only being able to occupy hollow squash, gourds or pumpkins as part of his punishment at the hands of a vengeful Midwife. Always a conniver and a barracks lawyer during his brief stint in the Sewer Militia, he was able to convince, cajole and con some of his former comrades to turn over a Pruztian Sturmgraben Construct damaged during the brief period in-between Occupations. So now Tazger has a body, of sorts, but no matter what he tries, he can't seem to keep his pumpkin-head attached to it...

    Tazger's Body (unique) [Sturmgraben War-Construct; AL N, MV 180' (60'), AC 6/13, HD 3, #AT 1, DG 1d4+2 (Militia-Issue dagger), SV F6, ML 12 (fearless), Special: Until he discovers a reliable way to attach his head to this body, it must carry the pumpkin-head in one of its arms. Sturmgraben are manufactured from wood, canvas, discarded ammunition cannisters, and similar battle-field debris and as such they are very flammable, taking double damage from all fire attacks. As an Unliving Construct, the body takes only half damage from normal melee attacks or bullets. Tazger can attempt to repair damage to the body when out of combat with a 40% chance of regaining 1d4 hit points if there is suitable debris at hand.]

    Tazger's Head (unique) [bound spirit; AL C, MV 0 (must be carried), AC 9/10, HD 6, #AT 1, DG 1d4 + Confusion, SV F6, ML 6. Special: The pumpkin used as Tazger's head is very susceptible to rotting, decay, or corruption effects taking double damage from all such effects or attacks. Once the head is reduced to zero hit points, Tazger must devote all his attention and efforts to acquiring another organic vessel for his spirit. If he fails to do so within 3 hours, he collapses into a foul-smelling blue flame that completely consumes whatever host-body he was using and once the flame goes out he is lost forever. Unless the Midwife who cursed him chooses to relent...which she might do if he has anything interesting to barter...]

  4. Subject 3. The victim of Headtaker Beetles, this decapitated corpse was discovered by a team of Foragers who notified the Red Watch. Since the body was never adequately identified, they eventually surrendered the corpse to the municipal morgue, as per standard procedure. An enterprising intern on the night shift sold the unidentified cadaver to an unlicensed reanimator who quickly lost control over the thing. It wanders the alleys now, randomly, mindlessly attacking anyone or anything it runs into...

    Subject 3 (unique) [Huge Headless Reanimant; AL C, MV 90' (30'), AC 9/10, HD 8, #AT 2 (fists), DG 2d8/2d8, SV F8, ML 12 (fearless), Special: Electrical effects Slow this creature. All normal healing spells instead inflict damage. It recovers 1 hit point for every 10 it inflicts.Upon being reduced to zero hit points, this thing goes dormant for 1d4 Turns after which it rises again at half its normal hit points. If again reduced to zero hp, it goes dormant for 1d4 weeks. It can only be completely destroyed by acid, according to Pennyroyal's confiscated notes. SPECIAL: The Street Patrol offers a substantial reward for the capture of this thing, while the Red Watch has posted a reward for its verified destruction.]

  5. Old Wobbly Kraz. A heavy metal statue of some former champion of the oppressed and hero of several important yet forgotten battles lost its head during the aerial bombardments. Now it lurches along the old parade route waving a tattered flag, its hollow interior sloshing with a bizarre mixture of liquor and other substances dumped through the gaping hole in its neck by revelers, drunkards, petitioners and others. Some say it brings good luck, others claim it might shorten the next winter; no one knows if it does anything more than add to the noxious fluids gurgling away inside this mindless automaton. Street Urchins, Feral Children and others often dare one another to sample the strange brew that slops and spills from Old Wobbly Kraz...the effects can be extreme but more often they are merely loathsome...

    Old Wobbly Kraz (unique) [Huge, Hollow Bronze Memorial-Golem; AL N, MV 30' (10'), AC 3/16, HD 18, #AT 1, DG 2d4 (trample), SV F18, ML 12 (mindless), Special: Kraz rarely deviates from its route and stops for 1d100 minutes every 30 feet. The only people who've ever been harmed by Kraz were those who stole liquor from his hollow interior, or those that were immobilized and stranded in the path of his clomping feet. The fluids sloshing about inside old Kraz might be something found in the Weird Drafts pdf found at Gorgonmilk's blog, or perhaps we'll put together a special random table for this down the road... ]

  6. Meowlik. Large black cats who've lost their heads...but they'll gladly take yours...

    Meowliks (1d4) [Large, Abdead Alley-Cats; AL C, MV 210' (70'), AC 46/13, HD 4, #AT 2, DG 1d4/1d4 (claws), SV F2, ML 5, Special: Can be Turned as 6 HD monsters. Immune to all visual-stimuli-style effects. Anyone killed by these feline terrors has their head taken and used by the Meowlik as their own, making it impossible to resurrect the victim. The Meowlik that gains a head in this fashion progresses as a Magic User from that point onward, gaining the ability to cast spells, learn languages, and use whatever magical implements they can manipulate with their paws.]

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mousefolk

Our singer is called Josephine. Anyone who has not heard her does not know the power of song. There is no one but is carried away by her singing, a tribute all the greater as we are not in general a music-loving race. Tranquil peace is the music we love best; our life is hard, we are no longer able, even on occasions when we have tried to shake off the cares of daily life, to rise to anything so high and remote from our usual routine as music. But we do not much lament that; we do not get even so far; a certain practical cunning, which admittedly we stand greatly in need of, we hold to be our greatest distinction, and with a smile born of such cunning we are wont to console ourselves for all shortcomings, even supposing—only it does not happen that we were to yearn once in a way for the kind of bliss which music may provide. Josephine is the sole exception; she has a love for music and knows too how to transmit it; she is the only one; when she dies, music—who knows for how long—will vanish from our lives...

Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk
Franz Kafka


Mousefolk (Singers)
No. Enc.: 2d10 (6d10)
Alignment: Any
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 1 (Can advance in a Class)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 (bite), or weapon
Save: as zero-level human
Morale: 4

When the Neomorphs tore down the walls of their prison and burned down the House of Pain to escape into the night, only the Mousefolk remained behind. They had no desire to go out into the wild places only to be eaten by their fellows. since their so-called 'liberation' they have taken-up residence within the walls of any tumbledown manor or tenement that hasn't already been claimed by rats, Voormis, Thumblings or Todtenhilzig.

They have beautiful singing voices and have often been able to sing for their supper during the kinder seasons. It is commonly believed that they possess the ability to Charm or cloud men's minds with their cunning songs and clever chants, but being a humble people, they make no such claims. To this day they remain the only Neomorphs that have not taken up arms against humanity, a fact that has led many Low-Land Farm Enclaves to adopt small communities of Mousefolk who then educate the children, entertain the aged and attend to the moribund and deformed over the dreary, dark winters.

A few find themselves unsuited to care-giving and entertaining, so they return to Wermspittle in search of adventure with the hopes of making their fortunes as discrete couriers, spies or small agents. Most of them wind up as mercenaries fighting in dirty little wars within the walls of houses, homes and manors deep within the Burned Over District.


Source of Inspiration: Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk by Franz Kafka, with a bit of The Island of  Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uberschimpanze

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man...


Uberschimpanze
No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 2 (d10)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6 (claw), 1d4 (bite), or by weapon
Save: F3
Morale: 6


The majority of their ancestors served as cargo-handlers, stevedores and longshoremen for the Airships from Muniz, Valstoy and Brez; all the places where Orangs were summarily banned after the uprising that had left half the Septigoorean Archipelago in flames and bloody ruin. Most of the rest were domestic servants in the manors of displaced nobles from Gravia, Beldonde or Xemion--all tropical dominions where no one thought it especially exotic to employ an ape about the house, especially when they already dealt regularly with Monikin money-lenders and merchants.

The Pruztians sent several captive specimens to their hunting lodges and laboratories over the course of the First Occupation. Those that survived their time in Pruztian scientific custody returned to Wermspittle far more aggressive, angry and violent than those that had remained behind. They had learned military discipline and nursed a grudge against their 'Masters' that they intended to indulge in at the first opportunity. Some of the most heinous atrocities committed during the withdrawal of the Pruztian occupation forces were not the doing of the Pruztians, but instead were the work of a hard core of Uberschimpanze conspirators who became notorious for their use of the garrotte and their penchant for collecting the heads of their former oppressors.

Monikins distrust Uberschimpanze for their lack of suitable tails, Orangs resent having been displaced by them in their traditional jobs on airships, and Marmosets fear them greatly, though no one knows quite why.



Inspiration: An Ape About the House by Arthur C. Clarke, which can be found in Of Time and Stars:The Worlds of Arthur C. Clarke, with a slight nod to E. A. Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue

Friday, October 24, 2014

Morons

His face began to grin with innocent and consummate lust. (The True Men had never felt it necessary to inhibit the breeding habits of Morons. It was hard for any kind of human being to stay alive between the Beasts, the Unforgiven, and the Menschenjagers. The True Men wanted the Morons to go on breeding, to carry reports, to gather up a few necessaries, and to distract the other inhabitants of the world enough to let the True Men have the quiet and contemplation which their exalted but weary temperaments demanded.)

This Moron was typical of his kind. To him food meant eat, water meant drink, woman meant lust.

He did not discriminate.


Morons
No. Enc.: 6d10
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 1 (d4)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 or weapon
Save: 0-level human
Morale: 4

Degenerate humanoids related to Eloi and Pallid, the Morons are prolific and indiscriminate breeders who quickly over-populate any environment they occupy, no matter how productive or Edenic it might be. Hierarchically-minded hedonists and intuitive conformists, they are dedicated consumers and followers. They love ostentation, pomp, and elaborate rituals and will almost always spend copious amounts of their time and effort on self-adornment, frivolous decorations, and generally catering to their collective vanity. They live fast, die young, and leave beautiful corpses behind.

Morons have an extraordinary capacity to believe nearly anything, the ability to serve nearly any cause, follow any order without qualm or reservation. They respond to any recognizable authority, and lack the capacity to question anything. They lack empathy and obey a deep-rooted form of logic that allows them to rationalize and equivocate nearly anything. 

Morlocks have attempted to manage and maintain flocks and herds of Morons in the past, but unless it is for a short-term project, this tends to almost always end in disaster.



Inspiration: Mark Elf by Cordwainer Smith (included in The Rediscovery of Man), The Marching Morons by C. M. Kornbluth, and the marching societies mentioned in Necromancer by Gordon Dickson, with a touch of The Machine Stops by E. M. Forester and a wee whiff of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift and possibly a tiny smidgen of satirical bile from the movie Idiocracy. Morons are a Malthusian Catastrophe just waiting to happen...and the 'beautiful corpse' bit just seemed too good to not include it...


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 107

Previously...
Thanks to Lemuel attending to the swarm of Varn-spiders, Bujilli, Leeja and the rest of their group were on their way upward to the roof-tops in the hope that the Synchronocitor could take them elsewhere. They were making pretty good progress until they ran into an ambush by a band of degenerates...
A set of stairs led down three flights to a large hallway. Blue-green mold smothered the corners and formed a foul canopy overhead. Dark liquid--it wasn't water--dribbled down the left wall, forming a long-running rivulet of oily nastiness that seeped sluggishly down the stairs.

"We can't stay here." Hissed the Eloi roof-runner. Their eyes were wide with fear. Blood leaked from a shallow wound along their left upper arm.

"What did you see?"

"Dozens of them. There's dozens of them. I only barely escaped." They were shaking badly, but clutched Leeja's knife tightly.

"Them? Who are we talking about?" Bujilli drew out his hand-axe.

"Yes. Who is out there? Perhaps we should introduce ourselves since we're clearly trespassing on their territory--"

"Sure. Why don't you go parley with them while we wait right here." Leeja suggested sweetly.

For a moment, a brief moment, the Ignoble appeared to weigh her words as though seriously considering it.

"There's nothing to discuss with them. Not unless you'd care to give them some suggestions on how best to cook your flesh. Even then I doubt they'd listen; they prefer to hear their victims scream as they torture them to death."

"Scheiss. There are dozens of them you say. And they are after you?"

"Yes."

"Then we best get going."

Everyone nodded except Hedrard. She seemed lost in thought. Distracted.

They were half-way down the stairs when the tribe of degenerates trailing the Roof-runner caught-up with them. A well-aimed javelin punctured the Ignoble's left arm, knocking them down onto their knees on the dusty floor where they began to scream hysterically.

Leeja drew out the javelin while using her Web spell to close-up the Ignoble's wound. She had an idea to extend the web to clamp-shut their mouth, but opted to let it go. This time.

Bujilli trotted back to the stairs. They were narrow and only one or two of the degenerates could come at them at a time by that route. He used Hold Person on the first degenerate to show their teeth as they clambered down the stairs. Three of their fellows piled into them, grunting, squealing and yowling in consternation at being thwarted in their bloodlust.

He prepared himself for the butchery before him.

Hedrard stopped him, her claw-like hand on his shoulder. He turned to face the hag.

"Killing isn't the only option, nor is it necessarily the best one in this situation."

"What do you suggest?"

"Look at them. Not much better than Morlocks." She took the javelin from Leeja and handed it to Bujilli; "Look at their handiwork. These are not beasts, not entirely, not completely. They are still at least partially human."

The javelin was cunningly fashioned from a length of thick vine that had been boiled or steamed and shaped, sanded and carved into a flexible, yet durable shaft. Flaked stone, some sort of greenish flint or chert formed the pointy-bit. It was primitive, certainly, but well-made, obviously the product of a master crafter.

"So they have not descended entirely into mindless savagery. What of it you old bitch?" The Ignoble backed away from the group, away from the stairs and the squalling, babbling degenerates wrestling their way out of the pile-up.

Hedrard walked over to the entrance to the stairway. The degenerates jammed in the passage went silent at her approach. Each one had several elaborately carved combs worked into their filthy hair and wore all manner of crude jewelry and adornments hand-crafted from bone, hide, braided hair, and cast-off bits of stone or metal. All of it cunningly wrought and covered with ornate inscriptions.

"Grosk."

The hunters resumed their struggle to extricate themselves from each other's limbs, but it was no good. It was too late. They were trapped and they knew it. Wide-eyed and running with sweat, the hunters stopped struggling and waited their deaths stoically.

Hedrard brushed aside Bujilli's spell and reached deep inside the guts of the hunter that had served as an impromptu barricade. Blood trickled down the front of their legs, but they made no sound, just stood there and let the hag do whatever she was doing.

The Ignoble ran away screaming. Leeja made to chase after them but Bujilli shook his head. They'd either catch up with the Ignoble later, or not.

"As I thought." Hedrard withdrew her hands from the degenerate hunter's bowels. The gaping wounds closed almost immediately.

She began to hum a strange little tune as she moved in among the quivering, glistening bodies of the hunters piled-up in the stairwell. Patiently, delicately, precisely, she plunged her claw-like hands deep inside the guts of one after another until finally she managed to work her way through six of the hunters before the ones that had not gotten themselves entangled in the stairwell ventured to see what was happening to their fellows.

"Shood bal."

Six hunters got to their feet and took up a defensive stance, shielding Hedrard from the rest of the tribe.

"What are you doing?" Bujilli asked softly, hoping he wouldn't be interrupting anything delicate.

"These people have fallen into their present degenerate state because they thought that they lacked any other viable options. I intend to make a trade with them; I can give them a fresh start towards a new life in return for their help getting us to the rooftops, or wherever else you want to go in this place."

"But how?"

"First I made it impossible for these six volunteers to consume human flesh without suffering terrible, painful consequences. I also took the liberty of making a few adjustments in their flesh and blood, as well as the things dwelling in their guts. They'll suffer an intense bout of fever, that's unavoidable, but in the end, those that survive the process will be better, much better for the experience."

"You...changed them..." Leeja's voice took on a husky quality as she tried to sort out what had just happened from what she thought she knew about the hag standing before her.

"Yes. I did. Just like how Bujilli altered Sharisse. How you changed Lemuel before that." Hedrard looked deep into Bujilli's eyes. Past the pain and the doubt there was something powerful, primordial, profoundly unsettling in the old woman's eyes, in her very soul.

"But..." Bujilli looked away, stared down at the floor. He wasn't sure if he should feel shame, blame or something else. He drove out the werms infesting Sharisse, gave her back her life and made sure the wermic host could not reclaim her ever again. He had even made it so that she would never starve again, eliminating her primary excuse for allowing the werms to take her over in the first place. He thought it had been a good thing to do. The right thing. He had tried to save Lemuel only to leave the boy in the form of something monstrous. He had tried to do what he thought was right. But who was he to do such things?

"I have held back, focused on the beasts of the menageries and rehabilitating the abominations and hybrids developed and bred for use in the old arenas, becoming something of a glorified veterinarian, much as Gnosiomandus once accused me when we still argued about such things. When we were both much younger, much more foolish and idealistic. Back when we still believed in the work we were doing, each of us trying to do what good we might, in our own way. Before it all went to hell and we withdrew behind our walls and tried to ignore it."

"What do we do now?" Leeja asked.

"We go meet the leader or leaders of this tribe and I make them a deal they cannot refuse. Then they help us to get where we are going. After that...nature will have its way, run its course."

"You ... you are all monsters ... monsters!" The Eloi Roof-runner backed away, then turned and fled down the corridor, each step obliterating the footsteps left behind by the Ignoble before them.

Bujilli watched the panicked Eloi flee into the darkness. He regretted how things had turned out. He wished he had been able to help them, save them...but then he thought of Sharisse and Lemuel and the others he had tried to help...

"Let's go." He was not going to stand around in the dust and gloom and torment himself with regrets. He did what he could, as best he could, and that was either good enough or it wasn't. He wasn't some kind of god or omniscient being. He made mistakes. Lots of them. That was how to learn things, what drove him to learn more, to be able to make better decisions, to do better.

Leeja took his hand in hers and they followed Hedrard as she directed her entourage back up the stairs. The rest of the hunting party were taken aback at the way the others had changed. Fear sprung up like a forest fire among them and they fled before the six of their band who now served a hag.

Two flights up they followed the six hunters. A domed chamber covered with a mosaic of lapis lazuli depicting a starry night with constellations set out in gold, an orrery hung broken overhead in a tangle of cables, rods and chains over the central pit where the tribe made it's nest-lair.

A tall, thin man with scores of tiny golden tubes woven into his lion's mane of filthy gray hair stood atop a rough platform of scavenged brick and sheet-metal glaring at them as thy made their way down the gently inclined ramp through the bleachers and benches where the tribe-members slept or busied themselves carving fresh javelins, working at fashioning elaborate hair-combs or other adornments. Children played obscure games out of the way from the adults.

"Grosk." Hedrard croaked. At her gesture the six hunters took up positions on either side of her.

"Ulla ulla ulla! Obresk. Kitur. ULL-vosig-yusk-golm. Bastif!"

"Morons. These people are descended from Morons, an off-shoot of the Eloi." Hedrard informed Bujilli and Leeja before stalking right up to the leader of the tribe and staring down at him. He glared at her. They stood there for seconds before he blinked, whimpered, quickly looked away. He tried desperately to withdraw back to his private lean-to before anyone could see that he had wet himself. Children began to mock him with sing-song taunts. The adults took-up javelins and seemed poised on the brink of either laughter or some sort of war-cry.

"Morons?"

"People who have an extraordinary capacity to believe nearly anything, the ability to serve nearly any cause, follow any order without qualm or reservation. They respond to authority, any recognizable authority, and lack the capacity to question anything. They are like the Eloi, only they lack empathy and obey a deep-rooted form of logic. They are incredibly well-coordinated and are quite a sight to behold when they march beneath their banners." Hedrard seemed to be looking far away, reviewing bitter-sweet memories from long ago.

"Slaves then."

"No. These are people who voluntarily subjugated themselves long, long ago. Their ancestors were intuitive conformists; they are consummate followers, aiders and abettors of tyrants and demogogues; the product of hundreds of generations of true believers."

"They appear to be getting restless.."

Hedrard raised her left hand. A lurid red glow slithered outwards into the murky, smoky air like a mass of writhing vaporous blood-red tendrils.

"Neusk!"

The red-light tendrils spread rapidly in every direction twisting around and between everything and everyone within the tribe-nest except for Hedrard, her two companions and the six feverish hunters at her side. She brought down her hand sharply. The shimmering red light congealed into delicate scarlet traceries that writhed and squirmed and began to take root.

"Red Weeds!" accused Leeja.

"Yes." Hedrard watched as the Red Weeds infiltrated the stones of this place and sent out feelers and feeding threads that extended through every reachable nook, cranny and crevice until they found the necessary materials needed to grow and thrive in this place.

"But why?" Bujilli couldn't believe what he was seeing. The Red Weeds were settling into place as if they'd always been there. Children were climbing the thicker stalks or chasing errant runners with sticks, each time they whacked the vine-tips they changed direction which amused the girls and boys immensely. The adults were far more nervous, much less trusting of this radical new change in their nest-site.

Hedrard lifted a plump red fruit from a vine that swirled up to meet her hand. She tossed it to Bujilli.

"Now they have something to eat besides each other. If they are clever, they can learn to work with the leaves, the shoots, the various other parts of the Red Weeds and clothe themselves, make tools, whatever they need. But they will still have a taste for meat, so..."

She reached up toward the opening in the dome overhead where the broken orrery hung and began to whistle shrilly.

After a few minutes of her whistling a fluttering noise began to echo through the shaft overhead.

A pigeon perched on her hand.

She wrung its neck. Split it open and butchered it for cooking, then handed it over to one of the six hunters who took it over to a cooking fire built atop a raised stone block.

The thigh bones were quickly, expertly converted into crude whistles that she then handed off to another pair of her entourage.

They blew the whistles. One after another pigeon fluttered down through the shaft to perch momentarily on their outstretched hand. The remaining two hunters took the pigeons, wrung their necks and prepared them for cooking.

One by one a few of the bolder, or hungrier, members of the tribe approached the cooking fire. The cooks passed out skewers of roast fowl. Others rushed up to claim their share. Still others began to sample the different varieties of red berries, melons and fruits bulging into place around the nest wherever the Red Weeds found a suitable cache of nutrients.

"So now we have a way up." Leeja watched as more pigeons descended from above.

"Yes. We do. Shall we get going before one or another of the old leaders' rivals decides to start making speeches?"


What should Bujilli, Leeja and Hedrard do next?

You Decide!



Now What?
The way upward and outward seems to be clear...if they can figure out a way to get get through the overhead shaft. So should they try to make use of the overhead shaft, or look for another, easier way up and out of this place? Or should they stick around a while and find out what they can learn from these people and maybe see if they have any knowledge of alternate routes to the roof-tops?

As always, if you have any questions or want to vote for a particular course of action or specific thing to do next please let us know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

You Decide!

Previous                            Next

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


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

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

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

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Varn-Spiders

Varn-Spider
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
     In Web: 160' (120')
     In Shadow: 120' (90')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 5+
Attacks: 1d2 Stabbing-Claws+Bite
Damage: 1d6 per claw
       3d4+Poison (Bite)
Save: T5
Morale: 8
     (11 if Handler is present)

Special: Varn-Spiders can climb shadows as though they were webs at slightly decreased speed. 

Electrical/Galvanic attacks heal damage similar to Flesh Golems.

Upon reaching zero hit-points Varn-Spiders rise as undead husks (equal to zombies) within 1d4 hours, unless completely dismembered.

If destroyed by fire, Varn-Spiders fall to ashes that reform into a swarm of 1d100 tiny 1hp spiders within 1d4 days.

Varn-Spiders are huge and aggressive arachnids bred to serve as hunting beasts by secluded enclaves of vampires who survived the purges in Wermspittle. Their bite attack drains blood, swelling their abdominal section until it begins to drag (upon draining 5 or more HD worth of blood, they move at half normal speed). Their masters then drain the spiders upon their return to the enclave.

Index: Six Things

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lemuel [Episode 106.5]

“Do you know who I am boy?”

“Yessir.”

“Say it. I want to hear it.”

“You sir are General Octravius Culver. Hero of the Battle of the Greensward and Liberator of the three Greenhells--”

“Edens! They were Green-Edens when we took them over. It was only after betrayal and malfeasance that they descended into hellishness. I conquered Eden itself three times over only to see it corrupted, poisoned, turned against me by my enemies.” The old man slumped back onto his rough bed, palsied hands wiped away the memory of sweat and mud and blood. Green thread-like tendrils curled and coiled just beneath his waxy skin, a lingering reminder of how wrong things went so long ago and far away.

Lemuel knew that if he could see the green-marks there was too much light in the room so he turned down the alcohol lamp. The General could not tolerate bright light. It made the green-things under his skin twitch and writhe with life. The green-things tormented the general and anything that caused him displeasure or discomfort caused him to torment Lemuel. He belonged to the old general. No one else wanted him.

“Bah. You're a worthless little shit, like all these ignorant peasants.”

“Yessir.”

The old man glared at him for a long time. Lemuel needed to pee really bad. But the General was in one of his moods again. A bad one. He clamped his legs together and waited it out.

“I've been good to you boy. When no one would take you in, I gave you a place, fed you, clothed you, taught you how to be a man and a soldier. I beat the weakness from your flesh and scourged the fear from your mind. Preparing you for your holy mission.”

“Yessir. Thank you sir.”

“You're of an age now. It is time for you to leave for Wermspittle. Before...you become twisted and ruined like some of your kin. But before you go I wish to give you something. Here. Hold out your hands.”

A knife. No. Not just any knife. The one Grandfather, the General, made his name with all those years ago. It was heavier than it looked.

“I pass on my knife to you so that you will avenge me boy. That is your only purpose in this life, you holy mission. You will avenge me!”

“Yessir.” The knife turned in his hands. The well-worn handle slid into place.

The old man sat there staring at him. His bed reeked of hatred.

The knife struck three times before he could stop it.

He ran from the room.

He took nothing with him.

Except for the knife.

His Grandfather's knife.



Hedrard stretched her shoulders with a series of bony clicks. She stood taller, straighter now. Frailty fell away from her like chaff from wheat in a mill. An old cold light twinkled in her eyes; it was not a pleasant thing to behold by any means. Lemuel had some idea of what she intended to do. What she could do. He knew of her power first-hand.

Spiders. Huge, wicked things that served vampires. A swarm of them was approaching. Lemuel looked at each of his companions. Bujilli was tired. Leeja had suffered a draining attack that left her weakened. Hedrard was still struggling to free herself of the after-effects of the spells the Purple-eyes had used on them both. The other two were useless. Well, the roof-runner might manage to do something with the knife they'd given them...but he didn't want to bet on it...especially not with their lives.

"Get everyone moving. I'll buy us some time. Just let me know which way you're going--up or down--and I'll follow as soon as I am able."

Bujilli looked into Hedrard's eyes. A mistake. Lemuel knew that as well.

"Up. We'll look for a way to get back to the roof-tops and take our chances with the Synchronocitor. It got us here in the first place, I'm hoping it can get us out of here once it has recharged."

"Go then. I'll--"

Lemuel rushed past them both. The make-shift barrier collapsed as he pushed his way through it.

"Scheiss!" Hedrard made to follow then stopped herself. Lemuel looked into her eyes. She knew then that he was no longer her problem or property and never would be again. She smiled ever so slightly, then he turned back to the business at hand and drew his Grandfather's knife.


"Hand me the knife." Hedrard demanded.

Lemuel refused. He tried to shake his head. It sloshed and jiggled wetly making him dizzy.

"It is a hateful thing. One that will only bring you pain and sorrow. Give it to me, if only for safe-keeping..."

"No." He struggled to get the word out--it felt like his mouth was filled with thick, sweet honey, like he was drowning in the stuff, but he could breath just fine. It was disorienting.

The hag glared at him hotly. Few dared to refuse her. But this boy, this low-land orphan defied her. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.

She had already examined the knife while the boy was recovering from his drastic transformation. Bujilli had only barely managed to save what he could of the boy. The effort had nearly claimed them both...now they would be inextricably bound to one another.

"Have it your way then. But I will not have that knife in my work-space any longer than is absolutely necessary. Once you are stable enough to leave, you'll take it with you."

"Where?"

"Where will you go? I've spoken with Zirl. Shiidri will take you to him when you are ready."


They said there was maybe six of the spiders out there. They were wrong. There were twelve of the things. The spiders were not afraid of the boy rushing to meet them. Lemuel smiled; they would learn to fear him soon enough. He had hunted river-spiders and the noose-weavers that infested the forests near his people's enclave. These things were bigger, but they were only spiders and he knew how to kill spiders, even really big ones.

THUNK!

Lemuel skidded to an abrupt stop. A single black spike of gleaming chitin jutted suddenly from out of his chest. One of the Varn-spiders had caught him from above, impaled him on its blade-like claw. He twisted about, tearing his wermhide sheath in the process, and hacked through the flexible joint of the limb. Three cuts and he was free of the thing. He drew out the spider-leg and cast it aside. Another spider sensing an opportunity rushed in to bite him. He stabbed it in one of its larger eyes. It shrieked and recoiled from him.

The rest of the spiders moved-in to surrounded him. Good. That would make this easier.

The knife flashed hatefully in the blue-tinted gloom as Lemuel charged the nearest spider.


“So you are Lemuel then? Of course you are. No one else would stand there dithering in the darkness like that. Come in boy. I've been expecting you. Hedrard has told me quite a bit about you.”

It took him a bit of effort to reform a working tongue. Speaking wasn't easy for Lemuel. It took concentration. But it was getting easier as he relearned how to do it. “I um Lemuel. Sh—She sent me. You.”

“Yes, yes, I know. You've been through a terrible ordeal. Hedrard told me. You need not explain; I am very familiar with the ravages of White Powder and all its derivatives, including Hard Candy. You are very lucky young man; most people in your situation wouldn't be walking about let alone trying to re-learn how to speak. No. Most of them would be reduced to oily black puddles of corruption after the Vile Transformation. But not you. Somehow you survived the process, were dragged out of it by the intervention of this Bujilli person. It remains to be seen if they've done you any kind of favor by doing so, but where there is life, there is hope.”

“Hope?” It was not a word he'd ever heard before. He wasn't sure what it meant.

“Of course. Otherwise Hedrard would have ended you when she had the chance. Instead she sent you to me.”

“You?”

“I am Zirl, Keeper and Curator of Atrocities. Hedrard has asked me to consider becoming your mentor here at the Academy.”

“Will you?”

“A good question. I am uncertain. There isn't a lot to work with in your current condition--”

“Monster. I monster...” Lemuel held out his hands, turned them over and back again, tracing the stitches in the wermhide that formed his new skin. His translucent flesh glistened wetly through gaps in the hide where his movements had loosened the seams. He was mostly gelatinous now; a shapeless, formless thing that only had a manshape because of Hedrard's hard work and clever stitchery.

“What do you know of monsters boy?” Zirl shook his head; “You are not a monster because of your recent physical transformation. You are not even a monster because of your upbringing. Yet.”

“Not Monster?"

"Not hardly. The one who gave you that knife was a true monster, but you already knew that, didn't you?"


Another spider-limb flew over his left shoulder. He brought his elbows back into the other one's eyes, rupturing them into a wet greenish mess. They'd given up biting him after the sixth time. He'd twisted off the front half of the last one's face or whatever you called their front-parts as it tried to withdraw its fangs. The poison coursed through his flesh, mingling with his fluids and becoming a part of him. It felt good. Warm. Comfortable. It made the Baby Teeth Hedrard had set into his jaw ache with the need to bite back...so he lunged toward a spider, clambered on top and sunk his teeth into it right behind its cluster of eyes. It tasted salty.

CHAK! A spider knocked him to the floor. They knew better than to try to impale him again.

Three more spiders swarmed over him. Biting, stabbing, rending, doing everything they could to hurt him, to kill him.

He snapped a spider's leg. Punched another in the fangs. Stabbed the third one in its belly and dragged the knife back out through its face in a spluttering gush of innards and fluids.


"She wanted you to surrender the knife, didn't she?"

"Yes. Won't."

"It's bonded to you. Strongly. Culver had a gift for such things."

"You Knew ... gr ... grandfath--"

"Octravius Culver was many tings, but he was not your Grandfather. Not by blood. That would be impossible. His parents had kept him down on their farmstead well past the point when all children need to leave. He was rendered sterile. The other...deformities...were not obvious ones, so he managed to pass as nearly normal, most of the time."

"No. General was my..."

"General? Culver was a corporal when he deserted his unit during the Greensward fiasco. He managed to keep a very thorough journal and to make very detailed maps of his route through one of the Greenhells and tried to barter those for a position on the faculty. It wasn't until later that we discovered that he had been copying from the work of a Pruztian Military Cartography unit that had been wiped-out by disease, poison or something else. He was summarily exiled and went back to the Low-Land swamps. To your people. He probably bought you from your relatives."

Lemuel sank back into himself. He had been bought by his...by Culver...but he had thought that was the way it was done. What else was there to do with an orphan? The Mills had been bombed into rubble. The Labs were burned-out shells. The mines were flooded or filled with poison gasses. There wasn't much point in investing too many resources in a kid who would either run off in the Spring or turn into some sort of freak if they stayed too long past the onset of puberty.

"The knife is a Pruztian General's ceremonial dress dagger. The blade is forged from meteoric iron and it is heavily imprinted with Culver's hatred and insane lust for revenge. You can keep the thing, if you choose to do so; just be aware that it is a toxic influence on you and that it will continually try to subvert your will. I suspect that Culver did a great deal more than just hand you this knife. He raised you, didn't he?"

"Gave roof. Food. Clothes. Beat weakness out."

"You were trained to be a weapon, not a human being. That my boy is the work of a monster."


Twelve spiders, each larger than a pregnant cow, wriggled and writhed in a gore-splattered heap at Lemuel's feet. He'd hacked-off the legs of the ones he hadn't had a chance to kill yet. He walked from one to the other of the dismembered things and used the knife...Culver's hateful knife...to end each spider.

When he was finished, Lemuel surveyed his handiwork and felt conflicted. It had been a glorious fight, if a bit one-sided. The spiders couldn't really hurt him; not with poison, or fangs, or stabby-claws. He reveled in the languid, lingering heat of the spider-venom flowing through his body. It felt good. More than good. He looked down on the ruptured chitinous thorax of a spider, examined the contours of the exposed organs and tissues. There was something beautiful in it that he had never been able to see before. He felt as if his eyes were opening for the first time. It felt good. He reached down into the remains of the spider and pulled forth a dripping gobbet of flesh and swallowed it. The taste was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He took another piece. And another.


"If you would be more than a cat's paw for some sick-sad-dead failure with delusions of being a war criminal, I may have a job for you...if you are interested."

Lemuel stared at Zirl. He knew the man was being truthful--he could taste it in the air, see it in the overlapping swaths of color that shimmered around him. His body had been drastically reorganized, something to which he was becoming adjusted, but now his past, his sense of history, his sense of self were having to adjust as well, and it left him feeling disoriented, vulnerable, and very much alone.

But he wasn't alone. Deep down he could feel the glowing golden kernel of something that Bujilli had left behind. A gift. It was supposed to reside inside his bones, like it did inside Bujilli, so he made sure that he had at least a few bones, especially a jaw, so he could anchor his tongue and talk better.


Lemuel gulped down the last of the sweet meat from his seventh spider-leg. It wasn't quite the same as bog-crab, but it was pretty good, once he got past the saltiness. He could feel his body breaking-down the spider-flesh, some portion of him studying the stuff, learning from it, incorporating it into his own flesh. His body was learning the spider's tricks. Already smooth chitinous plates were growing over the wrecked parts of his wermhide skin-sheath. He wanted to free himself of the truss that Hedrard had fitted him with, but he was not ready to do that just yet. He needed to learn more things, and not just spider-things. He smiled then tore off some shreds of wermhide and swallowed them as well. His body could learn the secrets of the werm-things to reshape and rebuild the hide sheathing his gellid form.

He looked at the knife in his hand. It radiated black, inky strands of festering hatred that coiled and curled like fetid smoke. Spider-flesh sizzled along the blade. It reeked like an old man's twisted ambitions and dead dreams. It made him sick. Then he realized that it was literally making him sick. The longer he held on to it, the more twisted and deranged he would become. He looked at the knife again. It wasn't his. It never was his, never would be. There was no reason to keep carrying it around.

Lemuel left the old man's knife stuck in the brain of the largest spider. It didn't stop calling to him until he was more than a mile away on his way down into the depths of the Gormenstille. The others wanted to leave this place, and he appreciated that, understood it, but he had a job to do. Besides, he felt like a kid in a candy store...



On a Mission for Zirl...
Lemuel is descending into the depths of the Gormenstille in order to carry out some errand on behalf of his mentor Zirl. But what sort of business would the Keeper and Curator of Atrocities have within this place? Lemuel's adventure is only beginning...



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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