Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Actual Play Report from the Fringes of Wermspittle (Session Three; Happy Thanksgiving!)

Not everything wants to eat you...and it is always good to have friends, especially in weird places...

J's Notes from our Thanksgiving weekend game.

  1. Camping in field outside Gadra's tomb. N hears horns and dogs barking on other side of river, calls on the Hobyah (using their Mark on her hand) and asks them to check it out. We break camp and head toward the yellow brick road away from the sounds. I almost step in a dodo nest. Take 3 intact dodo eggs. They're as big as ostrich eggs!
  2. The new-new-kid S (N's guest) comes running toward us, hands bound, chased by three Pruztian hunters and dogs. We cut her free from her bonds. All of us run up hill to hide. One hunter leaves with his dog, we guess for reinforcements.
  3. We spot three 9-foot albino penguins in the Red Weeds on other side of hill. N asks her Hobyah allies to scout so we can avoid them. Hobyah discover penguin-diving -- literally jumping into the gaping maws of the huge birds, sliding down into their stomachs and them disappearing only to come back and do it again, and again, and again. The Hobyah are immensely pleased and soon there are close to a hundred of them diving into the highly distressed giant albino penguin's mouths. Hunters hear the noise, approach the spot and are quite befuddled. Penguins are traumatized. The hunters leave.
  4. We cross river away from hunters. Shallow water, but everyone falls. No injuries. Supplies soaked, some lost. Feels like we're being watched. There are Basajun, Woses, Jub-Jub Birds and Slithy Toves in the area, so it might only be something like that--some inoffensive being or animal not ouot to eat us all...besides there are three huge penguins lying exhausted and weakened behind us for any predators to go dine on at their leisure.
  5. Farmstead downstream. Lots of bomb craters. One UXB, Franzikaner make. We decide to check out the farmstead. Avoid Slow Sand and Black Thorns getting there. Fields of mega cabbage and radishes. Hobyah use cabbages as trampolines. S makes comment about eating farmers. Morlock blood? (Dice were rolled, S does indeed appear to have some slight Morlock lineage in her background, but it is not entirely definite--she needs to be tested).
  6. Farmstead has house, barn, mil; all bomb damagde and / or overgrown. No signs of recent habitation.
  7. Check out house. 3 levels. Lower 2 looted or filthy from blown leaves, rain and elements. Seed company calendar on wall. Attic looks fairly intact. Q (The Thief-to-be) climbs up. He discovers a well-built Shooting Platform, where the farm families would fight-off the Biters and such over the long. dark winters. Lots of homemade weapons. He tosses down what might be useful, including family's Farmers and Mechanics Manual
  8. Mill is overgrown. Sara uncovers a fox nest and takes red speckled fox egg. since when did Foxes lay eggs? Weird...
  9. Barn empty except owls and mice. Root cellar under barn. Door has Achuin lock with symbols for cleanliness, air quality, and pest control. Door is clear of debris and footprints. N consults books (currently carrying Every Good Child's Guide To Things To Bash and Burn, a gardening book, Our First Blue Book written in Etrurian, and the Farmers and Mechanics Manual) and turns off wards. Q picks lock. A (the Fighter) opens door. 12 steps down. A stays top as guard. Cellar has smoked meat, veggies, and herbs. We all take what we can. Go back up stairs. 3 Landsvattir at top. We think that they knocked A out. These things don't immediately attack us. N quickly consults her growing arsenal of books again. These creatures are protectors. They have watched over the farm for decades. Now that it is abandoned, they need to be released, or else in time they may curdle, spoil and turn into something rotten, vile and nasty. The group need to find their pact-anchor to release them since the family is gone. Leave all cellar-goods behind, so as not to offend the creatures, walk past landsvattir. They seem sad. Let us pass.
  10. We dig through rubble. N calls on her friends the Hobyah for help. Eventually we find the anchor-object, a ceramic vessel that clearly radiates a slow, deep magical aura. We give it to landsvattir. They are released from their pact and we take cellar-goods. Landsvattir withdraw back to the Tulgey Wood, what we now can see was once an orchard.
We camp at farm for the night.



One of the funnier moments came after the game session was wrapping-up, when people started to realize that there was no way that Q could carry anywhere near as much loot as he was lugging around, all rolled up in his carpet...which was definitely magical.

The Hobyahs have really taken a liking to N's character, especially now that she helped them invent 'Penguin Diving,' which will cause no end of stress and turmoil back in Wermspittle when these little creatures start spreading the word to their fellows and they begin launching themselves into the attic-pens of the Tsalalians...

J did not get into the details regarding how the group handled the Pruztian hunters and their dogs--they were hunting after whomever stole the local Castellan's new armor and short sword from the shop back in Kridlist in our first game session. Not only did the group avoid getting spotted, the Hobyahs muddled-up all the tracks and signs of their camp-site that the hunters were not able to figure much out, other than a small group had spent time there recently...and this being a notorious area filled with nasty beasts, bandits and worse...there was no guarantees that it was a small group. Then they followed the sounds to find the penguins and Hobyahs and pretty-much decided it just was not worth it. Besides they now had a story worth telling back at their base-camp. something that might earn them a few free drinks, and that beat trudging about in the thickets on a fool's errand.

It was also quite a lot of fun to watch a group really make use of things they've found in the course of the game to solve a situation that might otherwise have gotten really, really ugly. Now besides the Hobyah's, the group has three friends out in the Tulgey Woods who might remember their act of kindness someday...


Unfortunately we did not encounter the Jabberwocky, any Damned Things, nor the Bandersnatch...this time...but we'll see what happens next time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tomb of Gadra: Actual Play Summary

Recently we were able to run a second session for our friends who had their first adventure just outside the village of Kridlist. This time we started off safe within the bounds of the camp set-up by Gnosiomandus. After a good night's sleep the party did an inventory of their loot and considered where they might want to go from there. The old man and his two companions were headed off to Wermspittle with the newly-captured tiger (the same one that the party had managed to avoid previously). Since it turned out that the tiger was in fact pregnant, Gnosiomandus was in a good mood and offered to barter with the group to help them get themselves together so they would be prepared to face whatever lie ahead of them. Q took advantage of the opportunity to unload some of the bulkier items he was lugging about and was interested in acquiring a good short sword or something along those lines. When J's character, a run-away from one of the three circus families in Wermspittle, offered Gnosiomandus the little pouch of White Powder she had recovered last time, he was in a tremendously good mood and offered everyone their personal choice of any three weapons or what-not contained within his traveling fold-box panoply (literally a tesseract-container fitted-out as an arsenal filled with all manner of weapons, devices, mechanisms and such-like).

While the group did a bit of shopping, the winged-monkey that they had found earlier took off to go scout a number of limestone formations in the vicinity that might have caves or some other sort of explore-able locations in, on or around them.

In short-order the group finished-up their various transactions, said farewell to the sleeping (and very pregnant tiger), and headed off to a likely looking location discovered by the winged-monkey, who led them to the spot, pointed it out, and left to rejoin its master Gnosiomandus who was in the process of trundling down the closer spiral of the yellow brick road on his way back to Wermspittle.

The location in question was none other than The Toxic Tomb of Gadra, an adventure that has been in dire need of some play-testing for a good long while now. Oh, to be sure, there were several other possible locations available, but this was the one the group settled upon, so it is where they went. The only rail-roading around here is underground as part of the Unter-rail...and they have not yet found a way down to that yet...

So...here are J's notes:

Here are my raw notes for Gadra. They're numbered to make them a little easier to follow.

1. Gnosiomandus's flying monkey scoped the area for us and pointed us to the outcropping where we found the tomb.
2. On the way there we went through some ferns and avoided a poppy field.
3. We found a cave opening that had been sealed with glazed yellow bricks. Most had been removed and stacked to the side.
4. There was an inscription at the entrance that said Gadra and the words for "toxic" in Pruztian, Franzikaner, and Achuin. They glowed purple.
5. There was a pit with spikes that had already been released. There was a dead child's body.
6. There was a chamber with a vent shaft to one side.
7. The corridor went down and up. We used R's pitchfork to trigger another pit trap and used rope to cross it.
8. New chamber. Walls have been scraped clean. Floor did have mosaic tiles. Three spiral mounds. One mound chipped at the top. Chipped area has had something removed.
9. R (the Archer) found a gold and silver pendant with a teardrop pearl. Pearl has a purple sheen. Chain is unclasped. She keeps it.
10. We opened a mound. It's a Minken barrow. Bottom falls out, no one hurt. We pull the casket out. Dart trap sprung. Each person takes 1hp damage. Open the casket. Spider-hand symbol on inside of lid. N thinks it's moving. We move the body. Casket has a false bottom. We count 14 hand spider eggs in it. 7 are crushed in extraction. R has other seven eggs.
11. We hear second party come in. We wait to ambush them. They get as far as the gas trap. They trigger it. Two looters dead, the kid leading them leaves quickly (Scared). Gas sinks, is heavier than air, leaks through cracks in lower walls, revealing a chamber below.
12. Open third mound. Uncover then open an ornate casket. Smash another nasty hand spider. Take six more eggs.
13. Come to a spinnable door. Room behind it is weird, "feels bad." Door shuts once we're in. Open chamber, painted white, metallic under dust. Cinnabar carvings, mercury dripping from ceiling. We break through a wall section. Air quality in here is really bad. Something in the walls hurts our eyes when we look at it, especially N (the spell-caster).
14. Chamber with pool of mercury and a man-sized sarcophagus. Q figures out how to drain pool and raise sarcophagus. R's pearl necklace is pulled toward the sarcophagus. We decide not to open it and it's too heavy to take with us but we have info to sell.
15. Tomb is spirally. Use rubble in final chamber to build ramp to entry corridor so we don't have to go back through everything, then re-seal hole in corridor wall and leave.



As you can see, this place included some nasty traps, some of which were already set-off by previous explorers...and one of which was set off by a trio of opportunists who followed the party into this place.

The level of mercury fumes in this place varies a bit, but no one can last for very long before showing signs of mercury poisoning. Luckily for the group, they managed to open some ventilation and moved past the worst of the traps--even avoiding a couple of deathtrap situations by using good, common sense and a bit of intuition and strategy. For first-timers and newbies, this group played more old school than I've seen in ages and it was truly grand. They managed to get a lot of loose low-end loot here and there, which made the Thief-in-training very happy, but they also managed to acquire some very valuable information regarding this tomb that they can now sell to some interested party, including a rough map outlining the known hazards, identified traps, and the spots best left alone by the next group...unless they come prepared with gas-masks and hazard-suits.

Now I am at work revising the adventure a bit to take advantage of the group's feed-back to make things run a little more smoothly in places, and to incorporate some of the changes they've made into the final version of the manuscript.

Thank you to all the members of our little adventuring crew. I hope you all had as much fun as I did exploring Gadra's Tomb!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dekapus [Wermspittle]

“I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?”
John Lennon

Dekapus
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' [40'] (Levitation)
Armor Class: Head/Torso 5 (as Chain Mail), Limbs 7 (As Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 3+1 [Advance as Thieves, Spell-casters, and sometimes Fighters.]
Attacks: 2 (Improves by HD/Level)
Damage: 1d4 (+2 to hit), 1d4 (+2 to hit), or by Spell
Save: F4
Morale: 7 [12 if combating Mucoids]

Special: Affected by all spells that target 'Humans.' Dekapus can opt to convert one of their Attack rolls to a Dodge (Roll as 'To Hit,' and if successful they avoid one incoming attack. They receive double the normal bonus for using bucklers/small shields, but cannot use normal or larger shields. They can only wield Light weapons until achieving 4 or more HD/Levels at which point they can use Medium weapons. It is very rare that a Dekapus would ever wield a Heavy weapon and they would likely require serious augmentation to do so effectively. Dekapus receive double the normal DEX Bonus to all their Thief skills. All Dekapus can cast BlurHypnotic Pattern, Obscuring Mist, and Hypnotism once per day and Misdirection up to three times per day.

[Percent Liar: 72%]


The Dekapus is a pseudo-octopoid...these dishonest creatures are actually mammalian, possess ten limbs and claim to be descended from humans. Fierce enemies of the Mucoids and others, the Dekapus are notorious Oneiromancers, Mountebanks, and Thieves skilled in the arts of misdirection and obfuscation alike. Their appendages terminate in a pair of soft-seeming boneless fingerettes that can split into multiple smaller tendrils as needed, granting them a level of close-up finesse much envied by surgeons. For some reason, some claim it is squeamishness, the Dekapusians rarely, if ever enter into any sort of medical profession.

Actors, Performers, Jugglers, Troubadours, Poets (both Accursed and otherwise), Pantomimers, Puppeteers, Artisans, Repairers of Reputations, Insinuationists, Saboteurs, Spies, Observers, Dreamers (Lucid, Deep and otherwise), Reporters...Dekapus have taken on a great many roles throughout Wermspittle, primarily in order to carry on their ages-old conflict with the Mucoids. The mutual antipathy between these two peoples is legendary, fierce and abiding, having persisted across centuries with no clear-cut resolution in sight.

Most commonly Dekapus are Thieves of every sort, but an appreciable number of them become Spell-casters such as Illusionists (including Projectionists), Oneiromancers and Druids with a penchant for the Tulgey Woods, Purple Forest, the White Orchard  and other such Weird Woods.

The few Dekapus that take up the path of Rangers specialize in hunting down and slaughtering Mucoids and have developed a number of peculiar and unique weapons and harmful devices exclusively designed to kill, maim, or incapacitate Mucoids. Their unwavering hatred of the Mucoids is so severe that Dekapus Rangers will also sometimes deign to hunt down Rooftopi, Octoscholars and any other Cephalopodians who resemble Mucoids in even the least bit.

Other Dekapus go to great lengths to ingratiate themselves with all other forms of humanity, no matter how distorted, Infected, teratogenically Afflicted, or aberrantly inclined...just as long as they have no connection to their ancestral enemies...



"My dreams are of water. And my nightmares..."
Siouxsie Sioux

Friday, November 10, 2017

Candlewerm [Wermspittle]

One of the first creatures one learns to Summon, Call or Bind at the Academy is a Candlewerm. The little beasts make excellent 'first servitors' for those students who've never yet had a pet or gained a Familiar. Besides carrying around candles or torches, these things can be taught simple tricks...like the time a student trained a Candlewerm to wield a wand...with rather mixed results.

Candlewerm
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30' (10') [Climb Walls]
Armor Class: 8 [as Leather]
Hit Dice: 1 hit point
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1 point
Save: MU1
Morale: 6 [11 if made a Servitor]

Special: Blind (Immune to visual illusions, Glamers, Figments), Able to climb vertical surfaces, Vague Empathy allows them to mostly understand a few verbal commands.


Candlewerms are among the most common, minor forms of Servitors known in Wermspittle. The little things are not suited to service as Familiar, but they are intensely loyal and surprisingly clever--if one takes the time to train them to do more than just lug around a lit candle or carry a torch in their specialized mouth-parts.

Certain obscure treatises claim that it is possible to enhance minor servitors like the Candlewerms, but few spell-casters ever make that much effort as it is considered a waste of time.



A spell-caster may choose to invest as much as 10% but no less than 1% of their recently earned XP to enhance their Candlewerm, allowing the creature to gain additional hit dice as if advancing as a magic-user at 10% of the normal XP cost and never gaining the ability to cast spells...unless further measures are taken to elevate the simple wermic-brain of the creature...but this sort of thing is strenuously discouraged on campus...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Edge Creeper [Wermspittle]


“Intelligence is the ability of a living creature to perform pointless or unnatural acts."

Arkady Strugatsky​


Edge Creeper
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7 (as Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 2 [Advance as Magic-User/Thief Dual-Class]
Attacks: 1
Damage: (by Spell)
Save: MU2
Morale: 8

Special: See in all directions, Immune to Sleep, Use Detect Invisible at will, Move Silently gains bonus of +10%, Find Traps gains +20% bonus however they cannot remove traps, cannot be back-stabbed, ignore all damage rolls of 1 or 2.


Silent, patient, playful...these beings are as much animal as vegetable and yet not quite either. Their tall, central body mass is very flexible and they easily contort themselves to get into tight spaces. Their sturdy four legs allow them to clamber about through rubble, debris, or uneven terrain with the seemingly effortless grace of a deer. Eyes of several types and sizes form apparently at will or at random all over their main body, allowing the Edge Creepers to see in nearly every direction. They have displayed a deep and abiding interest in discovering and uncovering all manner of concealed doors, secret passages, lingering booby-traps, unexploded bombs, mines, and so on. Sometimes they leave markers or Warning Signs, but other times they seem satisfied with merely leaving a formerly hidden thing exposed. So far the Wall Guard have not been able to enlist their help along the Inner Ramparts or the Outer Precincts.

Little more is known about them, aside from the few encountered so far have all been spell-casters with an intense interest in the Black Zones and the Glow Field. They seem to avoid the White Orchard for some reason, but may have some sort of affinity for or connection to the Cold Roads. It is rumored that the Edge Creepers first appeared in Wermspittle by way of the Cold Roads, though there are some who are convinced that they first entered by way of the Glow Field or the White Orchard...so far no one knows, so there is a potentially lucrative opportunity for someone to go forth and discover the answers so many Experts and Academics are arguing about...



The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Carl Jung

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Yzel [Wermspittle+]



"Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature."

Yzel
No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' [Levitation]
Armor Class: 3 (as Plate Mail)
Hit Dice: 3+ [Advance as Fighters, 1 in 100 may be a Ranger]
Attacks: 1
Damage: As Weapon
Save: F3+
Morale: 12

Special: Unaffected by Fear, Confusion, Illusions, Charm, or other mind-influencing powers/spells. All thief abilities are reduced by -4 penalty within 30' radius. Unwavering Morale (Never retreat, never surrender...unless ordered). When engaged in conflict become Mindless/Completely Instinctive with +2 on all Initiative rolls.

Gifted calligraphists of high order, the Yzel can only be addressed effectively in their own unique written language which in some ways resembles something alive unto itself. Any spell-caster seeking to learn this language must undertake a very demanding magical retreat lasting no less than one year in order to successfully assimilate and integrate a beginner's level appreciation of the complex whorls, squiggles and intricate diacritical marks involved in this uncanny textual tradition. Those who invest the time find themselves able to converse, after a fashion, with the Yzel and engage their services as guardians or soldiers.

Voiceless, faceless, telepathically muted, the Yzel are deeply intelligent plants from Somewhere
Else who are renowned as being highly civilized beings, despite being almost totally opaque to all forms of magical scrutiny, psychic snoopery or technological intrusion.

The Yzel are never found unarmored save when they first spawn, but so far no one has discovered where they go to get their distinctive body-casques made from multiple alloys of bronze and beryllium. The armor is so cunningly wrought that it cannot be removed from the creature and upon their death the armor crumbles away into an ultra-fine dust, as does the Yzel's body. They are incapable of being resurrected, raised or converted into undead.

When an Yzel enters into conflict they surrender to their instincts in a manner that renders them mindless, but not in the same way that a Berserker enters their rage. The Yzel in battle is a terrifying, implacable opponent that cannot be read, second-guessed or misled--they become focused completely on just the battle at hand...and that could be seen as a flaw of sorts, possibly leading to their downfall against an opponent willing to sacrifice lesser fighters to occupy the Yzel, allowing one to by-pass them altogether.



"To win any battle, you must fight as if you are already dead."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

LeDaan [Wermspittle]


“We can't have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live and taint the race.”
The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells


LeDaan
No. Enc.: 3d6 (6d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6 (as Scale-Mail)
Hit Dice: 1+ {May advance as any Class]
Attacks: 1 (Weapon or Spell, barehanded does 1d4)
Damage: As Weapon, spell or item (Wand/Rod)
Save: F4 [Improves with Advancement]
Morale: 9 [-4 penalty if confronted by Infernal Devices or Implacable Machines]

Special: Immune to most common forms of poison or venom; Gas Masks protect against airborn toxins such as pollen, spores, gas, etc.; wear scale/lamellar armor incorporating under-layers of Gray Flannel, Whitesuit Fabric, or similar textiles that offer them protection from extreme temperatures and resistance to acids; Keenly interested in all Pre-War artifacts; Dedicated enemies of all Mucoids (+4 on Reaction Rolls) and/or members of the Purple Horde or anyone showing clear signs of being compromised/serving the Purple Clouds in any way, shape or form (+6 on Reaction Rolls).


Proud, haughty, arrogant...and resplendently dressed in ornate masks and vibrantly-dyed fabrics, the LeDaan are a fiercely independent people who claim descent from Eloi and Morlock lineages alike, as well as many other forms of humanity with the exception of the Mucoids whom they despise as utterly contemptible traitors. The one other form of humanity they hate above even the deformed and grotesque starborn Mucoids are those who serve the Purple Clouds and march beneath the Banners of the Purple Hordes who are led by the so-called Desert Fathers.

The LeDaan are clever people, skilled in the ways of survival within some of the most terrible Post-War wastelands; they consider the Wilderness their best defense and only venture into ruined cities or approach established enclaves or Redoubts in small groups...always under watch by multiple scouts and trackers. It is not that they are collectively paranoid, so much as the LeDaan cultures that have arisen from the ashes and wreckage of prior epochs retain a keen sense of the danger of complicity and compromise, how collaborators were far more destructive to the old civilizations than even the bombs, the death rays or the Black Smoke ever could have been.

No one recalls ever seeing a LeDaan without their ornate Gas Masks securely fastened-down. Perhaps this is to forever hide their secret shame, the vivid oily-purple irises of their eyes...a lingering trace of their ancestor's former service to the Purple Clouds...



“For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.”

The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells

Monday, November 6, 2017

Red Hordelings [White Star / Space Age Sorcery]


Red Hordeling
ARMOR CLASS
5 [14]
HIT DICE
3 [May Advance as Brutes, Fighters, Rangers or Assassins]
TOTAL HIT BONUS
+3
ATTACKS
2 Nano-Obsidian Blades (2d4+2, each)*
SAVING THROW
16
SPECIAL
Boneless, Hyper-Dexterity, Expand/Contract, Bloodheal
Movement
8
HDE/XP
4/175

* Nano-Obsidian Blades ignore most common forms of shielding and inflict double damage on a natural roll of 19 or 20 when striking Machine-based or Cybernetically-enhanced foes. Should a non-Hordeling attempt to wield one of these nasty weapons, there is a10% chance ofthe weapon exploding into a swirling cloud of nanoscale obsidian flakes causing 6d6 damage within a 20' radius...and this chance increases by another 10% every time the weapon is used in combat. All non-Hordelings also suffer a -1 penalty on To Hit rolls using these things as they are arranged for the uniquely boneless grip of a Hordeling.

Boneless: Hordelings are invertebrates with a distributed cartiliginous mesh for a pseudo-skeleton so any melee attacks against them ignore any damage results on a roll of 1.
Hyper-Dexterity: Hordelings can attack in any direction with either hand at no penalty.
Expand/Contract: Anything within 10' is considered within melee reach/range.
Bloodheal: If a Hordeling remains completely stationary for fifteen minutes while bathed/soaking in an opponents blood they can regain 1d6 hit points.


The infamous Red Horde of Trilaxa III are vicious, blood-thirsty invertebrates from a hot, volcanic hellworld who mock all humanoids as clumsy weaklings, especially anyone wielding a ranged weapon. These boneless barbarians can be found in the service to all manner of planetary dictators, interstellar tyrants, crimelords or whomever else desires a private army of ruthless melee-fighters who never question an order and always fight to the very end against any odds as a matter of collective honor.

The Red Horde are ancient rivals to the Jarpha and is is suspected by more than a few academics that the Mistresses of the Horde may in fact have been involved, if not outright responsible for the slow decline of the Jarpha's cognitive processes by way of some very specifically tailored and targeted infectious wetware.



Spellcasters who have attained the Secret of the Scarlet Obelisk gain the means to summon forth a detachment of Red Hordelings in place of the usual creatures they might call forth...unfortunately there is little information provided in the commonly available sources concerning how one might best negotiate a contract with these entities one summoned.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What's In The Attic? (Table 2)

His old servant ... had spoken of the strangely aromatic and hideously carven box he had found in the attic, and of the indecipherable parchments and queerly figured silver key which that box had contained: matters of which Carter had also written to others...

Through the Gates of the Silver Key
by H P. Lovecraft

What's in the Attic? (Table II)
  1. This attic has become overgrown by a patch of Stranglemasses that appear to have been seeded by chance, just down-wind of Glindeng's attic (Table3/Option6). One has to wonder how many other randomly-seeded patches of these foul plants have taken-root in the roofs, eaves and attics around here. Some crazy old lady, they call her 'Mildred', most likely an escapee from one of the broke-down sanitariums along Skinner Row, has been tending to this unplanned-for garden of Stranglemasses for years now. No one knows why the plants tolerate the crazy lady. Perhaps it has something to do with the illegal experiments that were done on her while under the care of Doktor Rommiro?
  2. The people on the floor below have been complaining of an unnatural draft coming from this attic. Even in the Summer. Turns out there's a Weak Point lodged in the back wall. It opens onto an empty, barren, frozen wasteland. Beware the penguins.
  3. Wet, sticky goo covers nearly every surface in here. The stuff is setting-up like so much dried snot in the corners. Everything stinks worse than rotten cabbages. There's a swarm of some kind of pink-banded slugs clustered beneath a messy mound of old rags and newspapers heaped against the back wall, just to the side of the broken window. The slugs will pop into small puffs of poison gas if exposed to heat or bright light. [Save or suffer debilitating nausea (50% penalty to Move, -2 To Hit, -4 to Morale) for 1d4 hours.]
  4. Six dead penguins lay next to a zinc-plated tub. A blood and feather crusted Tsalalian obsidian knife rests on a rickety taboret next to the tub. Why is there a shattered mirror lying face-down on the floor?
  5. An old Zugritti woman bundled-up in tattered old red and yellow blankets sits in her wheelchair at the window, keeping a look out for something she cannot, or will not describe. Once every 15 minutes roll a d6, on a roll of '6' there comes a scratching, scraping noise at the window which drives the old woman to screaming madly. She will be inconsolable, hysterical and extremely agitated for the next 1d4 hours during which time the neighbors, the Constables or other Local Authorities, and others will be attracted to all the ruckus.
  6. Javeer Nerladoux, once a famed investigator among the Secret Police in Narliz, sits quietly in a corner of this old attic smoking a foul-smelling pipe and tinkering with his broken grammophone. Perhaps one of you might know a thing or two about fixing such devices? Javeer has dozens of dusty cylinders originally recorded at the Great Opera House of Narliz from before the war. His favorites feature his nephew Erik.
  7. Five old crates have been set before the windows and filled with dirt and other soil-like substances scraped from the near-by eaves and other sources to form the seed-beds for strange yellow flowers that someone has been tending to for several months now. But what kind of flowers get fed blood, mud and what may well prove to be White Powder residue? and is that a tender shoot from some form of Red Weed just poking up out of the soil in that third make-shift planter?
  8. There is a Loathsome Mass behind an old airship trunk packed with deeply stained and saturated military campaign maps once drawn-up by the map-makers of the Third Logistical Battalion of the Pruztian Army dating back to before the First Occupation. The Loathsome Mass has compromised the trunk's structural integrity--any attempt to move it will result in the trunk collapsing into bits and pieces, and further exposing--and ruining--the maps, journals, correspondence and other papers contained within it.
  9. Seventy-Two little bat skulls have been hung upside-down from red thread pinned to the central rafter. Each one has been lovingly inscribed with an idiosyncratic summoner's personal Noetic Glyph drawn from Unter-Noetica, an illegal manual only ever written-out in Noorstrian, an obscure language that remains on the Banned Languages List to this day. The Board of Community Hygiene offers a reward for information on sites like this...but they would quarantine the place, and possibly detain anyone who has come into contact with the little skulls. Can you hear the tiny, raspy little voices just at the edges of your consciousness yet? Perhaps there is time to locate a Karcist, Medium or someone with a background in purging mischievous spirits and Littelgeists...
  10. Someone has re-built an electric airship motor in the middle of this attic. all it is missing are the batteries...and some way to get it out of here, as it is far too large to pass through either the door or the windows.
  11. Six barrels of Spectral Brine sitting in the dark, slowly rusting away. 
  12. A lonely little Flidder has been trapped in this attic for months now. Who would do such a thing? Why? Will they be mad that you let it go?
  13. A small blue-tinged lens lies in the middle of the floor. It glints coldly in the dark and inflicts 1 point of damage to anyone licking it up, every time it is picked-up. The Lens allows whomever is holding it to locate any of the Cold Roads they so desire to find...but somehow the Lens also shifts them into the Winter-time to do so.
  14. An un-finished gargoyle statue scowls disapprovingly at anyone who enters. The dust is several inches thick in here, so the artist may not be coming back.
  15. Four zinn-plated rolls from a printing-press have been stashed here by a Yellow Kid following a raid on their master's shop due to charges of engaging in Caprichographika. These rolls could be set-up to print out the weird images etched into their outer surfaces, but it might draw the attention of various Local Authorities. It might be easier to auction the things off, perhaps engaging the services of a dealer in curios and antiquities such as the kindly Mr. Cave or someone less scrupulous, but more inclined to handle such objectionable materials. There is a base 45% chance that disturbing the rolls will attract the attention of a Phantasmal Menace.
  16. A young man lies dead in his ramshackle bed set below the central gable window. A trail of little red footprints reveals that this was the work of a score or more Little People who appear to have returned to their domains within and between the walls after dispatching their enemy. The young man was something of a Dreamer, even now in death his dreams permeate this space and if one is careful not to use too bright a light source, or to cast damaging or disrupting spells, there are 1d6 Oneiric Codices on the little nightstand next to his bed that could be perused if one so desires. These books are made-up of dream-stuff and will disappear instantly if there are any loud noises, bright lights, spells cast within the room, or if anyone attempts to move or disturb the dreamer's body in any way. Each book has a base 30% chance to contain 1d4 spells that an avid reader could attempt to memorize. Doing this means they must remain still, quiet and entirely focused on the task at hand, disregarding all else, or the attempt fails and the books dissolve into so much oneiroplasm. Each time a spell is successfully memorized, roll a d6, on any result other than a 1, the books all disappear. On a result of '1' the current book dissolves, but the others remain and can likewise be consulted if desired. Any spells gained in this manner can be immediately cast and lost, or it is possible to attempt to inscribe them into a grimoire, journal or spell-book...but unless the caster does so while asleep, the inscription will fail and the spell will be lost.
  17. (1d6) Ravens are on the windowsill, taking turns tapping out competing rhythms or patterns in order to annoy a cat that no longer lives there.
  18. Three glass plates prepared for use in Ectography and wrapped in black fabric lie next to a broken camera and related apparatus. A calling card for B. Jazmir, Master of Ectographry can be found on the floor near the table. It seems that Master Jazmir ran afoul of a cabal of Fantomists. It is just possible that the Fantomists have left someone to keep an eye on this attic studio in order to capture any of Jazmir's possible associates, suppliers or clients. The Fantomists might take an interest in the players if they poke around in this attic for very long...
  19. A partially visible and quasi-fossilized Horla hangs suspended from the rafters by a stout chain affixed to an electric winch. Someone has been making detailed anatomical drawings of the creature.
  20. A broken case containing three partially-chewed bars of Lear's Soap.
  21. A black-iron spear mounted with a battle-lamp has been jammed into the floor-boards. The cable is missing, otherwise it is in working order. When powered, the spear can emit an Actinic Ray capable of causing an additional 3d4 damage to any creature susceptible to sunlight struck by the blade, or 1d6 damage if used as a Ray Attack (Ranged). Typical battery-packs yield 6 attacks at full-strength.
  22. The ceiling is encrusted with a Scabrous Froth.
  23. An old barber used to make this his home, before he got mixed-up in some nasty business with a pair of Wall Guards and a missing Electric Mitrailleuse. In the battered old chest at the foot of his un-made bed there is a large glass jar containing a dormant Corpuscular Sludge. A pair of Lesser Nosferatus have been watching this place, waiting for a chance to gain entry and recover the Sludge for their Mistress. Both wear Rings of Rat's Teeth and will cast Vile Residue to facilitate their escape if necessary.
  24. Something Squick and Ichorous can be found here, as can be a mop with a broken handle and three rusty buckets.
  25. A trowel for fighting Gobbling Grouts and Jellies has been left on the windowsill.
  26. The spell Unnatural Acromegally has been carved into the floor-boards by a pair of Thumblings who are still caught-up in their argument about the best methods for adjusting this spell to have the most impact upon their hated enemy.
  27. A Black Key dangles from a blue ribbon looped over the handle to a closet door. For a moment you might be able to hear the waves crashing across the rocks below the Gormenstille of New Chillon, but perhaps that is all just in your head
  28. A magic circle has been botched. The outer perimeter is clotted with shiny little lumps of congealed Purple Amber, while the inner border still smolders with a foul-smelling green flame that is taking an extremely long time to burn itself out. An enterprising Forager might be able to scrape-away a few samples of the Purple Amber, but doing so runs the risk of coming into contact with the green flames...and they do not consume anything physical, but rather they consume spiritual things. A close examination of the rest of the attic will turn up a small ivory carving of a Peryton in the classical Franzikaner style. This little item is an un-charged Charm Against Perytons suited to use within the Purple Forest. Perhaps a Jaladari might help make the Charm work, or offer you something for it?
  29. Ruttolfen, a Gleiben Rat-Killer stayed here in this garret in-between jobs exterminating vermin in the Near Deeps under a Sewer Militia contract. Several pairs of half-shredded banded-leather gauntlets and some other bits and pieces litter the floor and there might be Something Under his Bed. No one has seen or heard from the guy in over a month. Some of the other tenants are concerned enough to ask you to consider looking for their friend. they might be able to put together some kind of reward if pushed.
  30. An un-exploded cannister of Black Smoke protrudes into this attic from the ceiling. Some one really did a shoddy job repairing the roof and did not bother checking the spaces below for whatever made the hole. Tampering with the cannister runs a cumulative 30% chance to set it off. Loud noises, jarring contact, excessive heat or electrical discharges within the room and most forms of spell-casting will all incur an additional 10-40% chance to detonate the cannister...so it might be better to leave well enough alone and maybe report this UXB to the Local Authorities. Of course, there are those who would pay handsomely for this cannister, and others who would be willing to purchase the details of its location...but that's a matter of conscience and/or commerce...


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book-Keepers

“But need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.”
Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book-Keepers
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7 (as Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 2 (Advance as Magic-Users)
Attacks: 1d2 or Spell-Taking (can also use Magic Items such as Wands)
Damage: See Below
Save: MU2
Morale: 6

Special: These creatures can attempt to drain any spell a victim has memorized by making a touch attack that inflicts 1d2 damage per Round, requiring 1 Round per level of spell being extracted. If contact is broken during this attempt, the spell is lost to both parties.


Driven by obsession and totally lacking in conscience and possessing only a vague echo of their former intellects, Book-Keepers are undead creatures of unnatural memory and lingering reflex, beings so caught-up in the pursuit of spells and the act of spell-casting that even in death they pursue new spells at any cost.

Seldom encountered outside the Academy, Book-Keepers are considered Very Minor Undead; verminous magical pests best left to apprentices and students to deal with generally. Only in rare instances when a Book-Keeper might have stumbled upon an ancient, forgotten trove of old scrolls or books and gained a considerable number of spells would there be reason enough to alert the elders, professors or administrators of academia. Many faculty members look upon the Book-Keepers as something of a test for their charges, an opportunity for those with the wits to make the most of it or a contest of skills and/or personal power for those too dim to continue along the path of spell-casting.

Some nuisances are really gifts in disguise, if one only knows how to make the most of the situation.



'If you want to make things go BOOM! join the artillery or the grenadiers. Spells make lousy -- and overly expensive -- bombs.'
Jadivak Klinehorst,
Third Exchequer of the Academy at Wermpsittle
from a quotation carved over the door to the Little Arena as a reminder to others

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nelashtil (White Star)


Nelashtil
ARMOR CLASS
5 [14]
HIT DICE
3 (May Advance as a Class, but require 200% XP)
TOTAL HIT BONUS
+3
ATTACKS
By weapon or Sting (1d6)
SAVING THROW
14
SPECIAL
Detect Invisible, Telekinesis, Levitation
Movement
9
HDE/XP
4/175

Nelashtil are hyper-intelligent molluscoids whose primary culture is centered within the Splendid Array, a swarm of habitat-structures encompassing a trinary solar system and the various 'peripheral clusters' of semi-autonomous habitat-clusters engaged in forming star-shells around dozens of otherwise unremarkable orange dwarf stars scattered across known space. Ancient allies to the Rugalli, the Nelashtil approach to technology is entirely biological and involved time-scales measured in millions of years. They are patient, but determined in a way that most other species cannot begin to fathom.

Nelashtil brains are decentralized and massively redundant, making them extremely difficult to interact with using the standard forms of telepathy and their languages are so inherently self-referential as to make it nearly impossible to communicate with them until the Jrozzik were able to develop a suitable interface organism to serve as a translator for the Nelashtil, giving those voluntarily infected with the organism the ability to use any language contained within the Galactic Lexicon.

Relatively non-violent, the Nelashtil employ Telekinesis to wield various weapons or defensive mechanisms (shield-pods, etc.) out to a range of 10' per HD. This same Telekinesis allows the Nelashtil to Detect Invisible within the same range restrictions. The Nalashtil use their innate Telekinesis to enhance their mobility, especially in zero-g and micro-g environments.

A Nalshtil's Sting attack is usually reserved for last-ditch defense, unless the individual is a Sting-Fighter (their version of a Brute), and only has a range of touch, however it also forces the victim to make a Saving Throw to avoid having their advanced-technology items becoming encrusted with a slow-growing, glistening pink goo that replaces their inner workings with living components.

Nelashtil are absolutely fascinated with the non-biological technologies employed by so many starfaring species and individual Nelashtil have been known to join merchanter crews or to exchange repair services for a berth on less reputable/more interesting ships where they serve as translators, advisors and mechanics...though they have the tendency to graft, grow and embed biological sub-systems into the complex workings of any starcraft or habitat they occupy for extended periods.




Rip Floaters are monstrous beings from whom the Nelashtil might be descended, or perhaps the Nelashtil become Rip Floaters either through some rare form of atavistic degeneracy or the dangerous mutagenic sacraments of certain ancient cults that claim to hold unbroken lineages dating back millions of years. Rumors abound and many academics are keen to discover the truth, despite the dangers. Click over to the Swords & Stitchery blog to learn more about the Rip Floaters.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

From The Zones: Images From An Abandoned Camera (4)


Designation: Driftwood
Status: Active, Mobile, Malevolent

The so-called 'dead' trees surrounding various bodies of water in the ruins and Contested Areas of the old Metro Area may not be quite as defunct as they ought to be--multiple reports have come in concerning huge old trees that have begun to migrate away from their original locations. Drone surveillance and teams of Observers are monitoring the situation...









Designation: Weirdpool
Status: Active, Static, Malevolent

Weirdpools are apex-level hazards and should be avoided at all costs. They may be radioactive, in addition to being highly toxic and there is a growing body of evidence to support the theory that these things might somehow be possessed of some form of animal-level awareness...





Designation: Cross-Cut Glare
Status: Active, Spontaneous, Short-Duration

Cross-Cut Glare is a condition predominantly occurring in wooded areas, though at least two instances have been reported taking place within alleys deep within the old Metro Zone near the river. This phenomena is preceded by a distinct crackling sound reminiscent of a short-circuiting comms unit. This sound fluctuates and can persist for up to fifteen minutes, during which time all electronics within a roughly 60' radius crash, lose all charge, drop all signals, lose all memory, or even in some cases have the internal systems completely melt. Then the Glare erupts like an anti-personnel mine at the center of the effect. The Cross-Cut Glare is over in an instant, leaving behind an area devastated by over a dozen spiraling horizontal cuts that slice through trees, posts, cement, rebar, and most other things but not affecting living flesh in any recognizable manner.




From the Zones is a community project hosted by John Till over at the FATEsf blog. This community project is inspired by the novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which was the basis for the movie Stalker.

There is a handy index of the current Field Reports from the Zones that features posts from across the Blog-o-sphere, as well as a nifty guide explaining how you can participate in this ongoing Community Project.



Monday, October 9, 2017

Bloodfetcher



...let us meet,
And question this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further.

Macbeth [II, 3]

Bloodfetcher
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Evil (Any)
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4 (Blood drain)
Save: F5
Morale: 10 [Incur a -1 penalty to Morale per successful blood-drain attack]

Special:
Invulnerable to silver weapons (including enchanted silver).
Take double damage from salt or fire.
Normal weapons only affect a Bloodfetcher for one hour after it successfully feeds on a victim's blood.
All spells affecting blood have some effect on these things.
All forms of healing cause them damage; Cure Disease destroys them if they fail a Save.
There is a base 10% chance of contracting a blood-born infection from the attack of a Bloodfetcher. 
They usually break-off their attack and flee after only a few successful draining-attacks. 
In those rare instances where they've managed to actually kill someone, that person cannot be raised or resurrected by the usual methods.
In moments of great duress (reduced to 2 or fewer hit points), a Bloodfetcher has a 30% chance to use a form of Planar Transition that gives them access to some dark, inverse realm not immediately recognizable to lay-men and lesser scholars.


First noted during the final years of the Great Purge when the last of the vampires were finally executed or assassinated, the Bloodfetchers are malignant creatures formed from unclean residuum such as tainted blood, rotting bandages, and the more atrocious things cast-off or cut-out during war-time battlefield surgeries. Sordid things, they were little better than tulpas or fyljjas or crude synthetic elemental-things when first created, but their masters deliberately mired them in both literal and psychic filth and bought them forth amidst carnage as weapons in a lost war.

The vampires were said to have some sort of arrangement with the Ungezeifers, leading some to speculate that the Bloodfetchers are related in some way to Cacozombies, but this is according to the testimony of tortured Thysanurian collaborators. Others claim there is a connection of sorts to Scabrous Froth or Sanguinovores, but prevailing doctrine leans more in the other direction--that Sanguinovores are more likely to be twisted versions of Bloodfetchers...but this does rather beg the question of how something already so corrupt and defiled could become further tainted or contaminated. One disturbing line of inquiry and investigation conducted originally behind the scenes and that has only recently been revealed claims that Bloodfetchers are actually a contrived form of geist derived from vampiric test-subjects who were part of a clandestine operation overseen by Colonel Vannerwirth of V5Korps, a notorious Red Ops unit that went rogue during the Bitter Winter during which Brischtof, Valzig, and Preshtomin were all completely emptied of all human life. Conspiracies and fantasies are springing up all the time and no one has been able to offer definitive proof to settle the matter, so the rumors, the theories and crack-pot notions proliferate wildly.

Bloodfetchers avoid bright lights as much as possible, preferring to lurk in shadows and to ambush their victims in dark places and especially wherever blood has been spilled in battle or in pain, such as hospitals, sanitariums, the pits, or the less well-warded arenas.



It is a curious fact that the Bloodfetchers only feed upon their prey for short time and then seek to flee as best they can. This suggests that Karlov and Grampier may well have been correct in their preliminary summary of the findings of the surgical inquisition led by Malthon just after the end of the Great Purge. They surmised that Bloodfetchers were somehow incomplete, transitional things enslaved and employed by the vampires to collect blood from their enemies and return it to them in a useful condition...but alas they are so filthy and corrupt that not even Lesser Nosferatus can gain any real sustenance from the spoiled blood these things carry. In the words of Malthon herself; 'They appear to be so much rubbish, another failed experiment that lingers long after the initial error that brought them into existence has been expunged. These vile things need to be rooted-out and destroyed before they fester and further degrade into something worse or more hurtful.'

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