+5 Toaster wrote:
Pathfinder was originally supposed to be released in 1988, long before 3.5 was even invented. The only difference was that the original developers added a "Manxome" template. Chuck Norris got wind of it and spin kicked the entire game into the late 2000's. There will never again be an official Manxome template.
What settlements are in between Golarion towns; is this in any sourcebooks? For example, the town of Falcon's Hollow is noted in the guide to Darkmoon Vale as "Isolated" meaning it basically has to be self sufficient. The fluff around the town says trade is infrequent and there don't seem to be a lot of farmers there. Add to that its location on the guide's map and they'd better hope NONE of their crops falter.
So how does everyone else handle a 50 mile stretch of absolute wilderness between these self-sufficient towns and cities that appear to dot the PF landscape?
In overland travel in my own homebrew I tend towards a bit closer of a parallel to RL. I usually have some little rut or track leading off main roads every 10 miles at least, if not closer. On top of that most cities in my world have settlements, like suburbs in their hinterlands.
For example: one of the major cities of my world is Inderwick. This used to be a much bigger city with it's own outlying fields and internal gardens. These were hardly enough to feed such a sprawl, so there were at it's height roughly 16 villages, hamlets and manors in the immediate hinterlands and 62 settlements total that were scattered in that hex of my map at one time. These places sent trade into the city and supplied them with food, resources and labor.
Unfortunately the cataclysmic event of my world (the Wilding) has destroyed much of this landscape. Now there are only 6 outliers keeping this city afloat that are well known. There MAY be others, scattered throughout the new wilds and forests or still rebuilding and isolated, but these are waiting to be discovered through the course of overland travel.
New potential hombrew rule rattling around from the Vigilant Post: Vigils
So if the PCs visit a church and participate in a vigil they need to make a knowledge: religion check. They must also sacrifice either 1, 2 or 3 uses of Channel Energy. Doing this allows them a specific bonus based on the type of vigil they use.
Lesser Vigils would grant 24 hour buffs from levels 1-3, take a single channel, and require a DC 20 check.
Middling Vigils grant 24 hour buffs from levels 4-6, take 2 channels and require a DC 25 check.
Greater Vigils grant 24 hour buffs from levels 7-9, take 3 channels and require a DC 30 check.
Vigils cost money: use the standard costs for a potion plus a little more (say a potion + a scroll) of the level spell.
What do you think?
The Redeemer's Vault:
The Redeemer’s Vault: it is an odd thing when the clergy of Saranrae and Abadar work together. It took nearly forty years for this union to arise, but the Redeemer’s Vault is the fruit of one such pairing.
Originally an adjunct cave for storage in Dununder Prison beneath the Citadel Ward of Inderwick, this place is now a hallowed hall of fine construction. The walls are masoned stone vaulted with pillars and wrought iron buttresses. Along the north wall a series of barred casements allow the light of day in the proceedings here. The floor is raised platform around which small assemblies of clergy, prison administration and other notables gather. Here the redemption is delivered not by the judgment of words, but by combat.
This is not some Dunevain fighting pit or one of the gladiatorial arenas of Izmok. Instead this is a place of “civilized combat” meaning only hand fighting is done here. The Abadaran sit in judgment of the fight, scoring rounds and offering up prayers to their deity and odds to the crowd. Betting is common though clearly regulated by the Master of the Vault. Currently this position is held by Abel Von Halvenszke. Master Von Halveneske is a fair, if brutal judge and can be exceedingly ruthless in his rulings.
The Saranites have only recently been allowed into the proceedings here. Originally this was a place of discipline and training for the guards at Dununder. They would bring unruly prisoners here and “Correct” them amid seeping walls of dressed stone. When word got out eventually the decades-long campaign of the Everlight activists resulted in the redemption offered here.
Through a series of fights debtors, thieves and even one convicted murderer have been offered their freedom. These do not come easily and of course these prisoners are also selected and counseled by a member of The Dawnflower’s flock. It is also not guaranteed; the requirements of their freedom are determined by the Master of the Vault depending on the crime for which the person was convicted. Finally these combats are intended to be humane, but under Von Halveneszke have become violent and even lethal.
The entirety of the event has become ritualized though and as such honors both the deities. They are divine spectacles; holy service through combat and blood sacrifice. Although healing is on hand it is up to the Master of the Vault to pause or stop the fight. In some instances Master Von Halveneszke has stayed his hand while lethal damage was done.
Despite all of this there are still some prisoners who opt for this path. It means counseling and training with the Saranites, and then a series of fights arranged with various guards or notables chosen by the prison. Finally should they lose prisoners often pray for death for, if they fail they are remanded back to their cells to mete out the rest of their sentence, sometimes under the care of the very staff they came to blows with.
Who would think that the merchant guilds of Abadar would run gladiator stables? This was the thought in my head for this concept. But then I thought of the scenes from the original Bloodsport movie; sure it was an over-the-top 80's kung-fu action movie, but it had some great visuals.
These images: a judge and his panel sitting before the fight floor, onlookers betting feverishly but in a somewhat controlled manner, runners posting scores as well as serving the needs of the crowd and the fighters. All of these are what inspired this "church"
Its not a place where adventurers would hear service, buy healing or commission spells and magic items. Instead it could be a springboard for adventure. Perhaps the party is imprisoned and given the chance to fight their way out; alternatively the Saranites might plant the party to bring down the brutality of it all. Whatever the case its interesting, and that's the point of the thread.
Winterhune Mortuary: at the end of Ironbrook Street at the heart of Inderwick’s Mortum Ward a two-tiered shop of weathered brick and slate shingles stands alone from the block. There is no storefront window but rather narrow arched casements just enough to let some light in. The door is set into an arcade and a stoop of 3 steps is fronted by small grotesques perched at the corners. A wrought-iron placard hangs above depicting a pair of death masks; the name proclaims it as Winterhune.
Frygidia Winterhune is a talented sculptress at heart, but her business is in preserving the dead for burial. Despite her remote location in the city even the noble houses have used her services. Mistress Winterhune is trained in the skills of alchemy and embalming but this is not what makes her unique. It is the ice.
The Winterhune method involves adding alchemical reagents and the liquid prayers of this Pharasmin priestess when preserving the corpse. This results in the body becoming encased in thick layers of ice. Her process then offers an extra measure of security against the ravages of undeath. Mistress Winterhune works with the local clergy to ensure that none of the burial rites are disturbed by her procedures and even offers her skill at sculpting to craft a frozen death mask for her clientele.
Frygidia Winterhune is a devout to Pharasma, singing the songs and practicing the faith bequeathed her by her human mother. Her elven father contributed little more than a name. Though not an ordained priestess or cleric of the church she nonetheless is in contact with the divine. Her familiar, a Graveborn Pixie she calls Tallowroot often assists and advises her in her work.
The basement of the shop is a wide vault divided into 3 cysts. The main and largest of these is the embalming chamber while the smallest is storage. But the third is a modest shrine to both her mother and the Lady of Souls. At the foot of this altar she offers prayers, brews potions and communes with the divine. An ossuary spiral adorns the altar which is crafted from the headstone of her departed mother; a woman buried face down in unhallowed ground for suspicion of heresy. It is unclear whose bones adorn the piece.
Along with her services as a mortician Frygidia Winterhune also works with many in her neighborhood. She sells potions and her meager spells to those in need. As such she is known to adventurers as well as an ally in their efforts in taming the Gnarl or other quests. Often she sells a condensed, alchemical potion as a lesser form of her process. If administered upon the death of a comrade the preservant freezes the corpse of the fallen for twice the normal length of time a similar spell would.
I don't have a stat block for Mistress Winterhune but I know she's Lawful Neutral, a bit pale and frumpy. She also favors a somewhat Victorian style, complete with spectacles and a bun of black hair. She's also not meant to be either an Alchemist or a Cleric, but rather a talented NPC Adept. Talented enough that she's earned the feat Improved Familiar beyond her standard starting feats of Brew Potion and Skill Focus: Alchemy.
Is anyone hinting at taking leadership? That might give some play as the party has to accumulate cohorts and minions. Also there's the fey to worry about. The Cold Rider may have just been a single tool in that arsenal; what if one of the Eldest has had it with the milksop queen with the bleeding heart and wants the human tree-rapists (lumber consortium) gone once and for all?
There's many factions in and around those woods. You've got supernatural ones: the fey, witches, lycanthropes, giants way in the mountains and the undead of course. But you've also got very potent mundane threats: a druid's circle bent on reclaiming the wilds, distant Cheliax who suddenly gets an itch to reclaim their upstart province starting with the woods, or perhaps the Lumber Consortium is making a bid for ultimate control.
Consider this scenario: in Adamas the Diamond Regiment has heard dire news. Some madman is planning to perform a number of tasks that will lead to another seismic event, this time one that will end all of these lands. This nihilist must be in league with Cheliax, for quietly they mass at the border, waiting to seemingly invade.
Little does anyone know that all of this has been in motion for some time now and the heroes are unwittingly part of it. The removal of the kobolds and undead dwarves aided this fool in their plans and spies long-since placed among these ancient woods have been activated by the fiend-hearted nation.
The party can get wind of this either from the Eagle Knights or the Greenfire Circle or some other contact. Then they can decide what to do about it (if anything). Do they go mass-battle style, join the army and lead the charge against Cheliax? Or are they deputized as a special forces unit to keep this murderer from performing the Rites of the Awakening that will trigger the Final Shudder?
Thanks for the definition TK Ho!
(get it? TK for Thanis Kataleon, and ho is kind of like a technical knock out or TKO, but also combines with Lion-o's "HO" as lord of the Thundercats? Wow, that sounded WAY better in my head...)
Anyway Dirty Sailor Moon, I'm liking the way you're going here. Hopefully you keep the updates rolling. Oh, and let everyone know when Ang and the other elemental masters show up.
I'm seeing a lot of "mountain" imagery in this game. A mountain as the earth anchor; the mountain at the heart of which is the obsidian fire anchor; a mountain where the temple of water was. My advice in further games is to ONLY explore the mountains you find.
Seriously though what level are we talking here? Did I miss it somewhere in your posts? It seems higher than first. So that begs the question: what do the characters already know about everything that's going on? Also, it doesn't take high character stats to metagame at the table and reveal all the lore. What steps are you taking as the Gunslinger not to shoot your mouth off about all of this?
If it were me I'd have them put into port. Here I'd have the aggressive version of the cult go hard at the 2 pieces they've gotten so far. If they lose one; great! Now they can spend the rest of the time recovering it.
I'd also intro an agent of the other side of the cult; the subtle side that manipulates the races into using the tools that forged the anchors. A super-knowledgeable sage and planar guide perhaps. If they lost one of the tools, this person is helpful in recovering it. If they retained both, this person has knowledge on how to use the items in ways OTHER than building anchors, like using the water tool to tsunami a rival ship or the earth tool to build a bridge.
Every time one of the tools is used, it hastens the Shattering. If combined, the tools can craft even greater things doing that much more damage in the process.
I've always homebrewed everything, save deities. In 1e - 3.5 I used the default pantheon and simply cobbled together my own fluff regarding their faithful. Since picking up Pathfinder fairly seriously though a few years ago, I've struggled with the gods since I haven't had the resources to go and get any sourcebooks outside the CRB and a couple others.
My players made it easy on me at first. Old-school wargamers, they didn't really care WHERE their cleric's channels and buffs came from so I just used default info in the CRB. In my most recent reboot however I've gotten new players...FLUFFY players.
So the struggle returned: How to present the core gods in an engaging and immersive way. I used some stuff online, read the wikis, and re-imagined the Golarion deities how I wanted to see them.
This thread is NOT a manifesto on my retconned pantheon. No, I just wanted to present some interesting churches that intro the flavor of the land of Karnoss. I found it cathartic to start at this level, the physical buildings and work backwards from there.
Enjoy this first locale. Feel free to use it or mod the idea however you'd like if you so choose. Also I highly encourage any and all fluff regarding your own unique creations to be posted here in response. Without further ado:
The Vigilant Post:
The Vigilant Post: This ancient place is part Erastilin Shrine, part defense tower. The squat base of the Post is an l-shaped lodge while above it rises in tiers amid the surrounding foliage to watch the surrounding countryside. It is crafted in the old style of the Dunevain; a dark brick façade with steeply pitching shingle rooftops, the eaves descending like shields over the walls below.
When Inderwick was first being settled the Post was little more than a rural shrine outside the walls. Nestled at the intersection of two fields and a woodlot the shrine and the clergy who tended it granted Old Deadeye’s blessings at the beginning and end of the season. After a time local hunters took to passing the shrine out of town to bring good fortune to their pursuits in the venerable eastern wood.
The rise atop which the place stood was a natural defense for the burgeoning city. In time rangers in the service of the Argentine Guard made a rally point and lookout of the place. The modest hunter’s lodge was raised with the addition of the tower that now stands here.
The Vigilant Post was given its name during the Wilding. A young ranger named Jhoveke Talonshot was at the Post when the order was issued to evacuate. She refused to yield, steadfastly vowing to remain in vigilant. Captain Talonshot believed a horde of goblins massed, just inside the tree-line, using the cover of the magically encroaching wood to advance with stealth. Since none dared enter the forest to confirm her fears she was left to man the lonely rise.
After a few days unattended the forest began mingling with the already burgeoning woodlot around the base of the hillock. A few days more found the whole rise coiled in the unceasing march of the wilds. It was a fortnight from the last time any had laid eyes on Captain Talonshot when the alarm of the tower rang out, deep within the boughs of the advancing forest. Long, mournful blasts like the howls of a doomed wolf sounded to rally the guard and warn them: the horde had come to Inderwick.
Just this small warning was enough to ready the militia. The unruly tide of the goblin horde broke against a wall of shields and were scattered before dawn arrived. The Hawkbow Regiment, the rangers who’d served under Captain Talonshot gave chase driving the brutes back in the woods that spawned them and holding their line at the foot of the Post. Amazingly the forest still respected the place and had not crushed it as it had so many others, though it was sealed against entry by the unnatural growth.
Forcing their way in they found their fallen captain. By all accounts she’d died days before and her horn was not among her things. To this day the truth of the event is unknown but the Hawkbow who still man the Vigilant Post in her honor claim that her spirit would not rest until her vigil had ended and that it went into her horn to sound that fateful night and when it departed this world for the next it took the device with it.
It has been over 70 years since Jhoveke Talonshot stood vigil at the Post. Now the clergy is made up of lay priests guided by Ylvaros Wulfenfletch, a dwarven ranger and captain of good account in the Hawkbow Regiment. He is credited for defense of the city against the warlock Uhglabadok and his spirit-bound fey host. The captain pursued the warlock into the mossy wood and returned with the wretch to earn his title and the scars on his mangled shoulder to boot.
Experience = knowledge gained by overcoming adversity or conflict. This is why the CRB gives the option for GMs to award experience for non-combat encounters.
Human commoner 1: I need filling for today's meat pies. I have the meat, but I need some spices. What can I get for 1 SP?
Spice Merchant: not much I'm afraid; only perhaps a small bit of chives or dried coriandor seed.
Human commoner 1: But...I've never cooked with those before! Bloody hells; the lunch rush will be on in a couple hours and I've only got the ovens for a bit between bread rises...give me the spices.
Conflict: how to cook with something never used before?
Resolution: after a tough negotiation Tom got a good deal on the spice and was able to pick up a pomegranete as well. Thinking quickly he scooped the seeds, pulped them in a bit of water and created a slurry with the corriandor. He then used this to simmer the meat until at last adding them into the filling of carrots, potatoe and garlic. The sweet but salty mixture not only did well but also helped bind the filling and extend the mix into a few extra pies (risked a skill check instead of taking a 10; got a 13).
People liked the syrupy mincemeat for some reason. He used the chives (since there were fewer of these) as well as some flowers he..."obtained" from nearby gardens to garnish the pies, making them more attractive to the customers. All went better than planned and Tom made more than he expected that day!
He learned how to use a new spice and as well was encouraged by his work to begin branching into braising liquids and filling gravies. This is the practical application of the 100 experience he just earned. Overcoming adversity is the very ESSENCE of the commoner's lifestyle in real life. EVERY day was hard for these people and they were constantly having to find ways to make do. Some of these people, with the opportunity to live and work in a city where they had opportunity to improve, became the middle class and after that the merchant aristocracy. HOW could that happen if not for earning experience?
It is in our nature to improve. Give the NPCs experience.
Just a note for folks who say to go Craft as opposed to other skills of employment: economy depends on supply and demand. People will always need food; merchants can sell anything; a weaponsmith needs a steady supply of both customers AND iron.
For this reason I submit that Profession or Performance are the most consistent forms of income assuming an average settlement. Entertainments are rare, but then so are those willing to pay for them. Of these 2 skills, Performance is superior in a stable, living wage.
At HBP: I love that you went Cook for a profession. I imagine Tom leaving the city after a while, so as to go up levels. He moves from village to village, solving problems as much with his skills as with combat. In time he gains levels in Ranger but, in so doing, takes the feat Catch Off Guard. Along with his 2 weapon fighting, he's going kitchen knife and frying pan, or maybe pot and pan.
For a backup he's got a rolling pin, maybe a bread board. Tom Brown also continues juggling and entertaining his customers with his legerdemain, adding in Acrobatics as well. Somewhere down the line he takes the feat Throw Anything, incorporating pans and bowls and bottles and plates, melons and spice vials into his act.
I know this COMPLETELY violates the thread, but this is just an awesome character I now want in my game.
I still stand by my original conjecture though: in order of most stable jobs, I maintain it goes Profession, then Performance, then Craft.
Nice DS! So if it was the Djinni who first sired the races and these races went on to craft the Anchors, here's another twist for you: the anchors didn't have anything to do with stabilizing the world. They are in fact prisons.
The cult meantime has 2 different cells, both working toward the same goal. One side takes the direct approach, overtly attacking folks with the tools to craft the Anchors. This side's goal is to get the tools, unmake these prisons and free the Djini Scions.
The OTHER side is taking a much longer-game approach. They are instead infiltrating the capitals of the races who harbor the tools. The endgame here is that they will coerce the races to unite the tools, make certain "modifications" to the Anchors (which are naturally failing with the passage of time) in order to strengthen them. In the end of course these changes will result in destruction and the Djinni Scions will be free.
Think of it like this: in the Golarion mythos you have the gods, and they create the First World; a wild, anarchic place of roiling change. Into this they put beings of immense power they call the Eldest and these beings are able to rule nodes of stabilized land. Unfortunately for the gods their experiment results in the capricious fey and a wild, feral world of mischief and mayhem, so they refine their blueprint and overlay the First World with the Material Plane. Some of the Eldest and certain areas of the First World survive, squidged out the edges of the Material and synchonus with the wilds of the PCs known world.
Well, your Djinni Scions could be like those Eldest. Only unlike those beings, your Djinni Scions invoked their own devestation in crafting slave races to serve their needs. In this scenario these ancient elemental lords made dwarves, orcs, darfellan and elves because their own, natural children (djinni as they exist in the bestiaries), when disciplined or cantankerous, simply were destroyed and reborn in the miasma; there was no resolution and therefore no emotion.
Craving someone to root for, or punish, or care about in some way, the Djinni Scions crafted these mortal races. This would be their undoing. The mortals loathed the overlords and eventually imprisoned them. This had the added SIDE EFFECT of stabilizing the planes, thus birthing the world as it's known today.
This also leaves the door open for common djinni to be around, hating both the mortal races and, to a lesser extent, the Scions. You see most djinni have forgotten the truth of the creation and just instinctively know that mortals hurt their races in some way, or they feel an instinctive superiority over them. A few learned djinni however remember how they were cast aside by the Scions in favor of these weak, imperfect beings for the attentions of their parents.
It's sort of like how angels are imagined in modern mythology. Some angels hate mankind supposedly because god chose mortals over his perfect host. Other angels however rebel against god as a means to wrest this attention BACK to themselves, and thus are cast out.
In this way the elemental cities could be like the hells of your world. The cast out djinni, in their hatefully shunted out planes, tempt mortal souls to come to them upom the moment of their death with moral corruption in life. Once siezed, these elementals torture these souls into demons, devils or what have you.
Anyway, so now you've got the party headed for the capital. It would be cool if one of the party were secretly a descendant of Gorm themselves. It wouldn't even need to be a dwarf; maybe the old rock-squeezer got a little randy with a stable of different races. Anyway, drop some hints to that PC if you want to use this idea and give them the urge to use the mallet for something. But if they do set up some kind of long term consequence like "Yes, you made a fortress over night that saved us all but you stole the device to do so. Now you face the law of the capital; the punishment for this offense is death."
Keep us updated...
@ Wilem Defoe's Vampire: so your post has me wondering about the pirmary stat for Sorcerers and how exactly their powers interact w/the world. It has been said that they cast "by force of personality" and that with bloodlines comes blood, therefore their power must be a manifestation of their own body.
What if it's both?
The sorcerer obviously has a physical component; they get Eschew Materials on the idea that they need no material component since they have their own body as an instrument. But your Words of Power description, of commanding spirits to produce an effect helps explain that Charisma component.
Think of the skills Cha is used for: Intimidate, Diplomacy, Bluff, Disguise. Now Bards use Cha to fuel Performance, but what if a Sorcerer used it fuel one of these others?
Sorcerer: I cast Magic Weapon
GM: Intimidate on the spirit of battle in the blade!
Maybe that's going a bit to literal, but you can see where I'm going here. What if the bloodline didn't give your sorcerer these powers and arcana just simply to give them power; it also gave them a means to sense and interact with some force of the universe; spirits, oni demons, elemental energies, whatever. But in the end it depended on the sorcerer then to charm, beguile or impress these forces to their will.
Suddenly Magic Missile becomes bluffing the air into believing an goblin planned to burn it all with his torch; a Web spell coerced a thousand tiny spectral spiders to weave over your enemies; using Fly meant initimidating gravity into relasing you.
I suppose the flavor here moves into a more Wu-Jen-like means of spellcasting but its an interesting concept to be sure.
1. That is an awesome, epic creation story! I love the imagery and the vivid use of detail while also maintaining mysticism. The best lines were about the FOUR - these primeans who crafted the anchors.
2. If it had been me, I would've made the Dragon Disciple a Protean-Blooded sorcerer. An entire cult of Proteans (beings imbued with the primal stuff of before the anchors), monstrous demon/Lamashtu worshippers and general nihilists who want nothing more than to hasten the Inevitable Unmaking of the Anchors.
3. This is going to sound harsh but: what reasons are you giving the PCs to care about all this lore? I ask b/cause it might instead be cooler and more tantalizing to feed it to them a bit at a time. Example:
"Ok dwarf: start talking! Why did that dragon-guy leap onboard and try to tear off your beard at the roots? And what's in the box?" The doughty traveler looked about nervously; his four would-be saviors were covering all exits...save over the rail. "Well...I suppose now that we're a'sea and it's clear you're not with the Renewal..." and with that, the earthborn master opened the gilded chest.
Within was little more than a common chisel, worn at the tip with the leather grip cracked and peeling. Beside that lay a laborer's mallet, still fresh with dust but otherwise equally unremarkable. "THAT'S the great prize that fiend tried to steal? He must've been after the box instead" proclaimed the incredulous heroes.
The dwarf looked at each one sternly as he slammed the chest closed once more. "You ignorant fools! Don't you know what this is? This Gulthyn-Mal! This 'great prize' you sneer over chiseled the Capstone of the Dwarven capitol, the Anchor of Earth!"
Now it was the party's turn to act surprised. "Anchor of what-now?" The dwarf heaved a sigh. "The Anchor of Earth. One of the 4 elemental anchors which acts to stabilize the warring elements of our world. This mallet and chisel helped carve the very fabric of our whole plane! And it is my sacred duty to see it safely to the capitol..."
But that's where you END it (the lore anyway). Now the party knows that the world was hewn from chaos, this crafting was done by beings of this world and that it was forged by artifacts, one of which is sitting in a gilded pewter box a few feet from their hands.
They can also infer then that the draconic sorcerer and whoever he's working for want the artifacts for some nefarious purpose. But you've also left it vague enough so that, when they meet a pretty girl in the next port who is secretly an agent of the cult and tries to sway them to the side of the Renewal, the PCs might actually believe her when she says "we aren't evil, nor were we trying to murder the master dwarf. But we do intend to take the artifacts. You see, the races seek to scatter them, to weaken their power by secreting them away and thus allow them to be forgotten. We are proud of their might and seek to reveal it for the betterment of all! Believe me: once the Renewal has these devices the world can be reborn into a greater place than this..."
4. Where will you take the adventure after the lore is revealed? What's the style of the game (sandbox, railroad, non-linear...how do you reveal conflicts)? I'd be interested to know what happens next...
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I'd like to grease the bottom of my own boots and go skiing sometimes.
No joke: the wizard PC in my game has Grease and Hydraulic Push. He then began toying with the idea of taking Craft Wondrous Item. My own immediate suggestion was a pair of magic boots and a cloak: greased boots to give him speed, the cloak to shoot water, and a combined effect (like a magic item set) that would propel him great distances across flat surfaces!
... he said he didn't think so.
This frighteningly real fiction is bound in red, white and blue leather and scribed in poetic verse. It depicts the tale of a young boy who witnesses a horrible liason between his mother and a demon referred to as Uncle Albert at the moment his father dies on a distant battlefield. Henceforth he is afflicted by the triple curses of being mute, blind and deaf.
This infernal epic follows Tommy through a troubled adolesence marked by a psychotic episode inflicted on him by an alchemist and self-styled Acid Queen as well as a brief stint as a prodigy as the wizard of a place referred to as "Pinball." Finally his mind snaps; believing himself a celestial he wills himself back to health only to find his faith misplaced and false.
This revelation comes only after he becomes a false prophet propped up but Uncle Albert. In the end the tale is a wicked tragedy though in Cheliax it is used as an infernal opera and moral tale to remind the populace not to stray from the Law of the Firebrand.
Reading this tale from beginning to end inflicts one of the 3 curses on the wielder (DC 17 Fort save to negate). This curse may only be removed by an 18th level caster or by doing extreme penance for a year and a day.
Alternately the book has a different effect on bards. Any bard who reads this tome for 1 hour each day may add a +6 Competence bonus to any performance once over the next 24 hours. Also they may add the effect of the Lingering Performace feat to one bardic performance (as permitted by the rules of the Performance chosen) once over the next 24 hours.
We have been doing just practice runs for the last few weeks because some people havent been able to play. Wanted to Ask. If all of them are Level 4. What CR should i be throwing out at them? and how many of those CR?
It really depends on how challenging you want the encounters and how well optimized the PCs are. Generally in a 4 hr session a decent group can make it through 5-8 encounters of CR = APL. Going by that logic you might plan out 5-8 CR 4 encounters (with a couple extra for random swap outs) and be more than set for a fun night. APL +1 is a bit more, but not by much. I've found though that when I get to APL +2 my combats hit a wall time-wise and the players are well challenged.
My party however is not necessarily optimized for combat. They tend to also look at each combat individually, trying to reason out the least dangerous completion always; my players are not risk-takers.
If you have 4 optimized combatant PCs who enjoy fights and know how to manage risk well, an APL +2 fight will probably be mildly annoying.
What I usually do is make myself an encounter chart (sort of like a random encounter table for a dungeon) with a range of CRs. For my current players at APL 5 I'd make a chart with CRs ranging from CR4 (goblin Alchemist 4, 2 goblin Warrior 1 with alchemically enhanced crossbow bolts) to CR 7 (a pair of Graven Guardians I created from the Water and Death domain of Pharasma known as the Weeping Maidens). Then I'd flesh out these encounters and finally I'd pepper them into the game where appropriate.
V'alnosc: half-orc Draconic (red) Bloodline sorcerer:
It's good to be the chieftan's son, even if your mother was a human slave. This is what V'alnosc thought as he waited patiently for the horns to sound. His father, Brolsc Bloodtusk had led the orcish horde to yet another victory; this time against the kobold menace plaguing the Gul-Var caves at the edge of their lands.
Strange that the creatures, described as being so tenacious and clever, had managed only 3 days of defense before fleeing for the mountain's molten core. When at last the foe were routed the horde found not only victory but spoils and tonight there would be a feast to honor his father with these. Among the treasure had been found many dragon's eggs and tonight they were the main course.
V'alnosc straightened his tunic and locked his buckler into place. He was coming of age and soon his training would be more than ceremonial. Despite his parentage cursing him with a splotchy green complexion and weak limbs compared to his cousins, he would rule these lands some day. He knew, even at the age of 9, that he must look the part as well as live it.
The deep bass bluster of the horns called the lad into the hall. All were seated and he took his place next to his father at the head of the table. The cavernous vault of the horde was awash in stinking warriors, human wenches and food as far as the eye could see. The din and raucous brutality was intoxicating to the boy; he dreamed of the day he would rule, when all of this would honor HIS glory.
Sensing his ambition his father's hand snaked out and siezed V'alnosc' throat. "You beware whelp; NONE will usurp THIS throne. I am Brolsc, son of Balakh, and I have torn the guts from ALL who've opposed me. You are no different if you make yourself my foe." The hand clamped around the boy's throat gave a measured squeeze, to emphasize the point. V'alnosc merely grinned. "Nice...to have...you home...fa...ther..." he sputtered.
The scarred chief laughed heartily and threw his son back into his seat. This was their way, their ritual. It was to be sure a sign of fact; V'alnosc would not kill his father for the throne. But beneath that this gesture was their affection for one another. V'alnosc, despite his aching throat smiled wider for now he knew his father cared for him once more.
"BRING ON THE SPOILS!" Brolsc called. All in attendance roared and at once the serving wenches arrived with the massive orbs boiled and open, ready to be devoured. Each table received their own but the greatest of them was delivered to the chieftan’s table. At once the horde began tearing at the leathery shell and devouring the rich eggs with savage glee.
V’alnosc chanced to glance up at the wench who’d delivered their prize. It was his mother and on her face was knitted a strange look, one he’d never seen before: sorrow. The boy halted his gorging long enough to wonder; what would this human slave have to feel sad about. Then it struck him that the woman was looking only at him, and nowhere else. It was then that his belly roiled, and the first howls of pain were heard.
What followed was the cruelest trick and the most horrifying scene the boy would ever recount. Flames exploded out of the throats, gullets and mouths of hundreds of warriors. In an instant these fortunate souls were spared with a quick death while the others around the hall were consumed in the residual heat and flame of the blasts. V’alnosc turned to his father who had already gained his feet when the first belch hit. A gout of unholy inferno tore his legendary jaw from his face and yet for scant moments the proud warrior stood in defiance of death itself. His hand, clamped firmly on the brutal axe of conquest at his side, swung wildly cleaving the head of V’alnosc’ mother from her neck; her mournful eyes never left the boy’s.
Now it was V’alnosc’ turn. He felt his stomach roil and yet the flames did not consume him. Instead the boiling bile erupted from his mouth and nose, spattering along the table and assembled honor guard to the cheiftan where it exploded into flame. One of the brutes lashed out at him with instinct, smashing him back against the cavern wall where unconsciousness mercifully claimed him.
When he woke again, he lay in the snow on the mountainside. He was singed and seared, but otherwise healthy. There was no one with him there and as he turned he heard a distant howl of dying rage. On the heights above the hall of his father was ablaze with dragon’s fire. Those not killed in the initial blasts or charred to death in the explosions were still trapped within; roasting alive like sausages in a charnel oven.
In time the boy would learn that the kobolds had woven their cruelest magics into the eggs; they’d left them as their final trap to consume the horde with unfettered dragon’s breath. Further they’d ensorcelled them that the human wenches might handle them, serve them to the cruel horde. But they’d not counted on the mixture of orcish and human blood in the boy’s veins. And so it was that V’alnosc survived and consumed a portion of the dragon’s breath; this is how he came to be known as V’alnosc, the Dragoneater.
I don't know much about orcs in PF (I always use goblins) so when crafting this I thought a bit about Warhammer or the old Warcraft games. I hope I'm not too far off the mark on the Golarion Orc experience.
I also like how, without a dragon ancestor, V'Alnosc earns the title Dragoneater; almost as if there is a contempt for his power even as he wields it. I can imagine playing this character as a person who still believes it's his right to rule and that by virtue of his power others should submit to him.
189. The joy of Rooking
A shallow tome of unique construction, the book's pages appear to be compressed feathers. The covers are bound in leather died several shades of white and mottled earth tones; there is an eagle's eye gem set in the center of the front cover. What's more, the cover and bindings are textured to have the look and feel of a raptor's plume.
The material covered within is the care and breeding of many times of avians. Featured sporadically throughout the book are a number of pictures of majestic birds either in profile or in flight, in sepia inks. The author, one Talvesc Hawkspringer appears to be quite knowledgeable.
Several angry commentaries however are scrawled amid the marginalia. These speak of the coming revolt, told by an unknown author, who identifies themself only as a "cousin to the imprisoned." The manifesto, pieced together from the scattered notes condemn any and all who read and practice the barbaric act of keeping and training wild birds for sport. It goes on to state the warning of a curse: those who seek to employ the vile Hawkspringer's methods will have "the voice of the crow" until they free a noble bird from captivity.
Using this tome requires 1d4 rounds of reference at which point the user receives a +2 to any Handle Animal or Knowledge check in dealing with natural avians or magical beasts of a generally bird-like nature. However each time it is consulted for such use the reader must roll a DC 14 Fort save; failure means the victim suffers the Croaking spellblight. Their speech is interrupted by involuntary crow caws issuing from their mouths. The curse may be removed in the usual manners or once the afflicted has freed a bird from captivity. Note: the afflicted may not willingly participate in the trapping of a bird for the sole purpose of ridding themselves of the curse by freeing it again.
585. Just outside the town limits is a sign stating "For adventurers levels 1-3"; you just hit level 4.
586. None of the adventure locales are highlighting
587. When you ram into people in town none of their conversation bubbles offer any new info
588. All the barrels/crates are broken
589. The greatest adventure, has yet to be said...
590. The road goes ever on...
We Dwell in Darkness
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Readers have noted that the voice of the speaker is strangely alluring, and many come away from a perusal of this long-dead authors treatise with an interest in meeting the author, and not merely for his scholarship. In life, the author, a Thassilonian Sin-Mage of the School of Lust, who was indeed renowned for an attractive speaking voice, magically enchanted these copies of his dissertation to hand to students he found attractive, finding that the subtle magics led a number of them to return for 'private instruction,' which, apart from the study of the structure of the eye, was his favorite pastime. Centuries after his death, his books are handed around scholarly quarters, and, by quirk of their lingering magics, his theories regarding the function of the eye remain well-regarded, while more scholarly works from his time are long forgotten, as the author himself retains a certain nostalgic celebrity that has less to do with the quality of his research than with the sensual daydreams his spellwork inspires in repeat readers.
So...Vincent Price or Barry White?
Kylander, the Crossblooded:
"Do you repent for your SINS boy?" The young half-elf lad peered up at Father Ivwylozs; in a sudden flash of thunder the balding pontif appeared more savage than any of demons in the sanctuary glass. Blood dripped from Kylander's eyes like tears to stain the ancient flagstone beneath him.
The boy was an orphan and from an early age learned to conceal his impure nature from the purity of the townsfolk. A few weeks before he'd found work as a gravedigger for the church but Sister Nevaille had uncovered his true nature. Kylander was graced then, to know the one woman in all of Haborvar who would accept him for who he was.
The nun had taken a vow to remain chaste, but she loved him just the same, and she him. Kylander, a tawny, rough lad with sullen blue eyes and straight black hair, he'd never known this kind of attention from any girl. Though Sister Nevaille remained pure and there was nothing physical between them, there was an intimacy that transcended such urges.
That all changed the morning he found Sister Nevaille dead on the floor of the sanctuary. She'd been beaten brutally, an impure name painted across her chest in her own blood. The welts all over her were unmistakable. They were the marks of the prayer coil, the flail of iron beads and coiling lash used by Father Ivwylozs in his private services. He used them for penance and inflicted them on others for the same.
Now Kylander felt their horrible sting as another staggering blow smashed down on his back. The storm outside surged, rain lashing the windows as the weapon lashed his hide. His hands were bound to his knees, so that all he could do was kneel in supplication to the man. "You are a foul creature, boy. You must renounce your impurity. It was your devilish, sylvan taint that drew in Sister Nevaille; that took her attention from m...the church! She would not repent, so she was sent to the pit with the other unclean souls. But you have the chance to be saved boy. Now...REPENT!"
Another blow from the coil rained down upon Kylander, this time across his upturned face as he tried desperately to meet the gaze of his accuser. "I've...done nothing wrong...save love a woman who loved me back..." Kylander smiled at the thought of his sweet Nevaille, reading scripture and laughing at his terrible jokes in the graveyard. That was the first time he'd ever said that he'd loved her; now at the moment of his death was the second. "and may the Mother have PITY on you for your ignorance, Father." the boy spat this last, mingled with his own blood, at the feet of his tormenter. Somewhere out the corner of his eye, lightning seared the heavens.
"So be it boy. Now you will..." There was a sudden flash and within the church a low rumble echoed. "Ivwylozs, the Mother of Souls calls you to the Boneyard. You have strayed from your path, child, and now it is time to return for your Judgement!" As if to emphasize the point, thunder rattled the sky.
Both turned, Kylander straining to see. The angel hovering above the altar, before the Rose Window of stained glass depicting Pharasma's spiral in a rose-bloom motif, seemed vaguely familiar. It almost appeared to be Nevaille, but with pale eyes of the purest light. She wore a suit of gray mail which, despite its neutral color seemed to radiate with light from within. Huge wings spread out behind the figure and she hovered there in her radiance.
"NOOOOO! This wretch is IMPURE! I'm doing her will!" the fanatical priest raved. He turned and heaved the coil one last time. Kylander though would not take his eyes from the angel before him. He wept tears of salt and blood. "I love you Nevaille, and I always will..." he whispered. As his eyes watched, the scene faded into slow motion and it would burn itself into his memory for all time.
The winged maiden drew forth a gleaming blade, just as Father Ivwylozs pulled back the flail. There was a deafening boom as a bolt of pure, white lightning shattered the Rose Window. The coiling beam connected to the angel's blade and arced down, streaking for the righteous torturer. At the moment the beads trickled down over his face Kylander was utterly destroyed by a blast of white lightning, channeled through the priest, his weapon, and into the boy's head.
His bonds singed and snapped as his body convulsed with the energies which sent him flying through the rows of pews. Father Ivwylozs screamed from a pain beyond what any mortal man had known before. The heavenly bolt had handed him back every blow, every penance he'd ever inflicted; years of torture condensed in the span of seconds. "Judgement." Was the angel's only word.
Kylander woke, seconds later, the sweet face of Nevaille above him. "Have...you come for...me too?" He smiled. "No my love," she whispeered, the light of her eyes fading to reveal the crystal green orbs of her mortal form within. "This is the last time we shall meet on this earth. I was sent only for him and must return at once. But..." she leaned in even closer, her face streaked with hot tears, "I couldn't leave without saying goodbye." Her lips met his and at once, for a moment, Kylander touched the divine.
His body, burning with pain and ready to send his soul to the Spiral, was at once healed by the energy passed from her. But this was not the divinity he found. It was her lips, her hand gently cradling his neck even as his feeble, charred fingers nestled on hers. Kylander had, for 17 years, never known real joy, and now had mere moments to make up for it. He closed his eyes to revel in the passion of the kiss, and when next he opened them, Nevaille was gone once more.
Many of the windows had exploded in the elemental fury of the angel's judgement. Rain fell on Kylander; a gentle rain devoid of the howling rage it had possessed moments ago. His body was whole and healed, but the boy took no comfort in it. His love was gone, his world was broken. It was as if the heavens wept only for him at that moment, but that might have been his own tears instead.
Despite it all, when at last he gathered himself to stand he found the coil at his feet. At his touch the weapon crackled with arcs dancing down its length. They did not hurt him; instead, they fairl tingled, filling Kylander with a momentary vigor. The pews around him smoldered and small fires were scatered through the church. His eyes then fixed on the fallen body of Father Ivwylozs.
A sudden contempt and burning rage welled up in him. As if the man had not suffered enough Kylander railed "Her Judgement was TOO good for you! YOU should roast in the pit!" At that moment a ray of holy fire leapt from his hand to strike the corpse, setting it ablaze. The sudden surge of power left the boy woozy, scattered. He dropped the priest's weapon which stopped its electrification at once. Then, his senses returning, Kylander realized the gravity of the situation. Though he didn't understand how, HE had burned the priest's body. What's more, he was standing in a burning church in the center of a small town; a small town which would not be kind to a half-elf invested with such power.
Kylander fled, taking with him the coins in the priest's rectory for travel along the road. He disappeared then, to survive and discover the nature of the powers within him. As the months became years he grew into this new life and found it suited him, not to live in shame and fear. After that night, Kylander the Crossblooded never hid himself from the world ever again.
177. The Fluidity of Time
This beautiful set of seven scrolls are a collection of illuminated poetry by the monk Fugitarian. Each of them is painted in beautiful bold colors and inks on cloth of gold. When studied the reader feels the sense of cool mist all around them and hears the distant roll of the ocean.
Each poem depicts some aspect of water and time, as if they were one energy. In point of fact Fugitarian belonged to an order whose sole goal was to harmonize the power of these forces in their own bodies. When studied and meditated on for 3 rounds the scrolls grant a +1 Competence bonus to initiative.
Each time they are used however the reader wets their pants.
The Rite of Primacy:
"'Ere a'now boy, drink zees" the old crone smiled handing a burbling wooden cup to Ullvigh. Though his father had forbidden it his mother, once a Dunevain Traveler had sent him out to one of their camps to meet Madame Viloveske, to receive a gift from her. With his nose upturned and his eyebrow cocked in suspicion, the brown-haired boy grimaced. "This smells like old boots boiled in cabbage!" but the old woman's leathery wrinkles merely spread into a wider grin beneath her babushka. He hoped this wasn't it.
"Guhh!" Ullvigh spat as he drained the cup. "What WAS that?" "Zat vas 'de essence o' the vorld, leetle boy," she smiled. Ullvigh tried hard not to stare at the inky black gaps between her decrepit old teeth. Desperate for distraction he cast his eyes about. The side of her caravan was adorned with silks that jangled in the evening breeze. The fire flickered with occasional greenish sparks and something in it fizzled; set over some of the coals were several long needles. "now lie back and let eet sink into yuir mind."
Ullvigh was suddenly filled with fear. This was not something he was accustomed to. As the oldest of 4 brothers Ullvigh Ynosc had always been the toughest of the brood. He'd apprenticed with his father at 7 in the kennels, training the dogs for both hunting and defense that lord Halek would use for a decade or more. He'd chased rats from the stalls, helped break new hounds, and then some.
But now he had something in his body; something he didn't understand. "Don't be afraid boy," Madame Viloveske assured him as if sensing his trepidation, "eet's jest getting yuir body ready for 'de changes...and 'de pain." "I'm not afrai...what pain?" Ullvigh turned to regard the woman directly and caught sight of a red-hot needle, bubbling with some strange-smelling pigment dripping from it. "Zees pain..." she muttered, another needle in her crooked, scattered teeth.
The boy that was Ullvigh Ynosc died that night. He died screaming foul obscenities of pain before finally slipping gratefully into unconsciousness. When he awoke the next dawn he had vague memories of it all. The witch Viloveske had scribed a brilliant, coiling tattoo into his left arm that left him raw and aching. In his dreams he thought he heard her singing, or chanting, or humming. "Eet ees 'de FIRST song boy...the first ever 'dat 'de first 'o us ever heard. Eet ees part of the Primacy...vere ve all come from, and vere ve all vill go back to 'den..."
The lad who returned was not any older, and yet he was. His mind perceived things differently. It was as if he saw the world around him for the first time; the REAL world behind the world he'd always know. "Eet vas 'de Vee Folk 'vat taught us how to hear 'de Primacy leetle vone." That was what Madame Viloveske had spat between scrapes. He didn't understand it at the time but Ullvigh would come to know it was the fey she spoke of.
There was a roiling, raveling energy; an underlying power where he looked. He blinked to clear his mind. "You vill see 'de birdsong; smell 'de sunshine and taste 'de cool breeze. You vill be closer to 'de Primacy 'den any of 'de folk of yuir home. Ven you focus, 'de power vill come into you; fill you. Yuir mind vill know 'de joy and 'de sorrow at vonce."
Off to his right as he staggered through the forest he was vaguely aware of a man standing there. The man was dressed shabbily; a beggar perhaps, but his clothes were dirty and leaves clung to it. In his hand was a knife, yet somehow this didn't bother Ullvigh. "'Ere naow boy...you toss over that coin pouch there and we won't 'ave no..." the man didn't finish his words. The droning sound of the Primacy filled Ullvigh's ears and his instinct sang out; Stop That Man...The One With The Blade...Stop Him...
And as the thought and the song and the joy and the sorrow welled as one thought became action. Ullvigh's left hand swung lazily through the air, as if to brush away a drowsy fly. From the fingers flew a roiling gob of acrid strands, seemingly from within the fingers themselves. The mass struck the man in the chest and neck, binding him against a nearby tree. There was a sizzle then as fumes rose where the strands touched flesh. The hapless man howled in pain.
Stop...Stop... Ullvigh's mind chanted over and over. His arm throbbed with the rhythm of it. The shabby-cloaked man dropped the dagger into the leaves as he tore free of the bark. His face still bubbled with the burns. "What in the nine hells ARE you?" he roared as he turned to flee. The boy's fingers flexed again and he was moderately aware of sounds issuing from his lips; the Sounds of the Light and the Primacy...
There was a flash and a popping burst near the man's head. At once he stopped moving, dazed. Ullvigh just simply stared at him, amazed at everything he'd just experienced. "Ok sport..." a tiny, reedy voice called from somewhere nearby, "we'll take it from here." The boy cast about with his new eyes as the forest literally seemed to come alive. A dozen dragonflies (people with droning, dragonfly wings?) descended on the dazed man, instantly awakening his senses for all the good it did him. The horde encircled him, buzzing hard, and pulled him back amid the dark boughs where he was not seen again.
"And hey...watch it with the acidy balls there sport. Y' don't want 'ta go tearin' up the trees so soon after what we done fer ya. We'll be seein 'ya soon..." and with that, Ullvigh Ynosc, who had left home a boy and shed his old skin for that of the Primacy, found himself alone in the singing sunlight amid the moss-dappled trees.
I didn't want him to just drink really old blood or be born of someone really old. Instead the concept here is that he consumed the distilled essence from when the First World became the one Ullvigh knows. He was painted with the First Symbol, all the while listening to the First Song. In short, he was completely immersed in the Primacy of the Material World and can now reach in and manipulate those primal energies all around him, like gathering together strings and playing with them one way or another for whatever spell he needs.
Ironically, this is exactly how I got a quartet of masterwork items to a 3rd level party in a few game weeks.
The heroes saved a town of dwarves from what turned out to be the dwarves own ignorance (long story involving a korred, some mites, and a keg of beer). Anyway, to thank the party for their honor as well as their discretion, the warsmiths of the town pledged their best smiths to work on the items for them. The 20-dwarf team split into teams of five (one chief making the checks with the four under the master working up individual components) to make all four items all at once. Even with all of that it was still going to take a month (4 weeks).
The party decided not to wait in town for a month, so they left and went on a few other adventures. They had been 1st level when the items were promised to them; they were 3rd level when they received them.
In deference to the fantastic work by the Bardess, here goes...
Green. This is all Lady Alexia Hollandovich wanted to see, but after her seventh trial of the restorative formula she'd concocted there was nothing on the blighted sod she'd collected. In despair she looked out her window, out of the meager cottage she used as her laboratory, and into the bogs beyond.
Everywhere she looked, the waters just mere feet away teemed with life. Yet from the tower of her home in Baelnosc, just south of Izmok, the stony ground would remain wasted and barren for another year. "Blast it all!" She hurled her spectacles and the glass shattered against the massive oak table. "I don't understand! I followed the formula to the letter. I've accounted for every variable in heat, light, humidity...the bio-mutagenic properties of this batch SHOULD be self sustaining. I don't..."
Just then Alexia heard them. The goblins. The foul little bog-dwellers had tested every one of her defenses. So far she'd easily kept them at bay by maintaining traps and deterrents around her cote, but she'd been so wrapped up in the work, she'd forgotten. "My goodness...the wards!" Just as she uttered the words the door flew wide. "We be goblins..." they snarled, grinning, "and you be FOOD!" In her doorway surged a sea of green.
Alexia reacted without thinking. She hurled the bomb at once and the explosion in the small space rocked her to her core. She'd added powdered Thunderstone to this batch for just such an effect, not expecting herself to be caught by it as well. She staggered back, caught herself against the table and into the soft flesh of her left hand bit the jagged shards of glass.
The half-elven maiden shrieked, more in surprise than pain. Recoiling her bleeding hand passed directly over the sample dish and a single droplet fell in. "C'mon you little BITERS!" she snarled, her perfectly-quaffed hair beginning to pull free of her bun even as Alexia tore free another vial. She'd intended to seal the door with an Entangling effect so as to prepare her next move with a bit of breathing room, but she'd never gotten the chance.
There was a churning, crunching noise behind Lady Alexia as the lab table split in two beneath the weight of a towering vine of wild growth. The hulking plant uncoiled decades of growth in moments, exploding out in every direction and entangling everything in its path. The lead goblin, a flask of fire in it's hands, hurled wildly and hit the open cabinet of alchemical substances. The Shelf and its contents were already shattering from the floral assault and the fiery projectile merely added to devastation.
"A catalyst!" Alexia screamed, trying desperately to free herself from the steadfast growth, "It simply needed a catalyst. And it chose ME!" and with those words, the provincial noblewoman, alchemist and scholar known as Alexia Hollandovich was no more. The cottage, engulfed in flames and imploding from the sudden surge of plant growth collapsed, dumping its contents into the bogs.
Days later a dark thing was seen, shambling through the bogs; a Bog Entity!
Like what you did there: "Banner...Pennant..."
Maybe the boy's name might be something like Nick Stones. Good one.
Fleegle Chowderspinner was a third-rate gnome. His tinkering almost NEVER exploded, his illusions were generally 2 dimensional and his puns were...obvious. He was the sort of gnome that at best was tolerated and at worst was downright loved by other races. It was even widely rumored that he once went to school to become a barrister.
But when his son Braithwaite was born, Fleegle vowed to change his un-gnomish behavior. The only one of his blood-borne powers he was ever very good at was creating catchy jingles with his Ghost Sound, so using this as his inspiration he set to work.
He slaved for a year tinkering with a contraption to act as the baby's crib. When at last he was done and little Braithwaite was laid in, the reaction was immediate; the infant wailed. Yes baby Chowderspinner screamed and cried for hours while Fleegle and his wife Elladrannenstein (who everyone simply referred to as Millie) closed their eyes and gritted their teeth. It was at that point when Fleegle realized he'd forgotten to turn the thing on.
Springing to the cribside and flipping the switch, the thing hummed to life. a pair of arcane-powered limbs extended and lurched to and fro, rocking the infant gently. In time with the rocking came snippets of tunes from a conical amplification device the elder Chowderspinner had taken to refer to simply as a "speaker". The music tinkled and tonked off and on, a few seconds at a time, each time little Braithwaite moved.
The baby was instantly soothed and the crib, referred to from then on as the Graven Machine of Chowderspinner, or "Gracho" for short, was a rousing success. From then on little Braithwaite's days and nights were filled with a constant soundtrack of arcane energies and beautiful sounds.
Decades Later Braithwaite Chowderspinner, known to his teammates as Butch, discovered he had a latent talent for harnessing the sounds of the spheres. His sorcerous powers used these energies and his exploits became legend. This legend can now be yours...for just 3 easy installments of just 19.99 GP per month...
I hear you Mulder's partner. Even with the wiki link above, the thing I find vexing is that there's no fluff in many of the deities of things like what their churches look like, or their shrines; how do their clergy dress and what are their titles?
But then there's the church of Pharasma. They build cathedrals, there are a couple examples of titles and hierarchy, and dress is suggested as well. Still vague enough for you to put a stamp on it for your campaign, but there you go.
Not surprisingly, Pharasma figures in strongly in my own homebrew. Its kind of a dark fairy tale theme, so the church of Pharasma doubles as "the church" in all those old Grimm's tales. Cold iron goes into a lot of Pharasmin objects, art, constructions and artifacts; also they incorporate images of roses (a bane to some of the unique creatures of my lands of Karnoss); and finally the dour but fair clergy tend to provide moral compass to an otherwise lawless land.
What kind of game are you running/playing? Maybe the community could help you create the fluff needed for the choices you're looking for.
A tortured soul who survives AND gets magic powers from the ordeal? That's freaking awesome! Infernal makes this sorcerer a puppet of Cheliax, but what about Martyred? This makes the sorcerer an ENEMY!
Say this sorcerer, we'll call her Ekullb, a half-orc beggar who was just simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, made a deal with the lawful torturers. If she provided a hundred hours of sport, they'd release a few fellow prisoners. Being LAWFUL evil, they intended to honor the request.
Ekullb did it, survived 100 hours of the most excruciating and humiliating pain imaginable, all for the pleasure of whoever are the nobles or notables there (I don't play Golarion setting all that much). In the end, just as she saw the others being released she expired and was ruled dead, hurled into one of the charnel pits.
At this point the energies that would go on to fuel her powers filled her with the barest ounces of life needed to claw her way up and out. From there the streetwise half-orc crawled into the sewers and eventually into the city. Finally, bleeding and staggered and assured of hours of pain thanks to the Filth Fever she'd undoubtedly contracted, she succumbed to her wounds on the doorstep of some contact that took her in and protected her long enough to survive.
Now her body is covered in terrible scars but she goes and visits the folks she saved. Maybe one of these or all of them become the other PCs; maybe they just become valued contacts. Whatever the case Ekullb now has one more reason to hate her jailors and to grow her powers.
Valik, Destined Sorcerer:
Not all of Karnoss is a civilized place; in the highlands of Vardok, at the edge of the Grimmen Peaks lies a coastal range of boreal hillsides of green heath and rugged beauty. It is among these that the Dunevain, the proud and ancestral tribes of man first descended, and it is here that those of the Eldest Ways still dwell. These proud folk are not savages like the goblins of the forests or the orcs in the upper peaks, but they follow the rhythms of the land; they raid along the coast, follow the herds among the hills and refuse to accept the trappings of elite society.
Yet among these barbarians there are disciplines. The forging of iron weapons and tools; shaping wood into longships, oars and spears; the fusion of both arts into the round shields so feared along the Vardokton coast. But still there are the Eldest ways of Gozreh, the Green Path and the sacrifices needed to maintain these ways.
Every so often a member of these ancient clans finds themselves tested by the fates. They are drawn to some trial that seems impossible and yet, should they survive they find themselves gifted with fantastic power. The skalds do not sing of those who fail; these unfortunates are mourned and forgotten. Those who succeed however are both revered and reviled by the clans.
One such was Valik. He was not remarkable in any way, save that his father was the Skald of his clan. The lad was glib of tongue but far too witty for his own good. He’d scrapped with everyone including his own father Halveszke for what Valik considered nothing more than his good humour. By the age of 14, his father was ready to turn Valik out of his master’s castle to make his way among the highlands alone; a death sentence for most and certainly for the ungainly boy.
On the eve as Haleveszk discussed his woes and proposed course with Clanlord Uyll, Valik overheard the discourse and chose in a moment of strange bravery to prove his father wrong. He stole away into his master’s docks and escaped across Baelynnloch towards the verboten boreal wood known as Direfell Forest.
Reaching the far shore of the loch as the mists of falsedawn rose from the water to coil among the brooding thickets beyond, Valik suddenly came to his senses. If he returned now he would certainly be turned out, for he’d stolen one of the Clanlord’s boats and could expect to add a beating on besides. However many heroes much greater than he had quested into the Direfell, never to return. He had no weapons, no supplies. For the life of him he could not understand what had possessed him to come this far. Just then he caught sight of a meandering light, like a lantern hung from a bough and swaying with the morning breeze.
Valik tied off the boat and crept toward the source. There was a trail hidden among the brush seeming to lead straight at the light yet for as long as he traveled poor Valik never seemed to make any progress on the thing. In the bitter grip of morning’s gloom, at the heart of the Direfell Forest, Valik found himself suddenly very alone and unprepared. A fear clutched at his heart that he’d never known before. It was then that the light suddenly disappeared.
The young lad was cloaked in near total darkness. The fear made the blood in his ears like the crashing of the tide on the shore in a storm. His breath heaved and his knees buckled. His lungs filled with the ancient, loamy smell of the forest around him. But that was what caught him and steadied Valik’s nerves; the sudden realization of time. He was at the heart of the wood, at once the forest’s primeval core but also a place of eternal renewal and growth.
“You, Boy,” a voice croaked. It too was ancient and deep, yet somehow vital. “How have you come to this place, my home?” the booming voice demanded. A new scent mingled among the wood; the acrid taint of chlorine.
“By who am I addressed?” Valik managed, his wits suddenly flooding back into him. They were all he had left. “You trespass in my home and have the audacity to question ME?” there was a sudden gust of wind strong enough to bend the trees and send Valik careening into a trunk. The lad was bruised and winded, but not overly hurt. He stood, brushed himself off and turned to where it had seemingly originated. “I do at that. I’m Valik the Glibtongued; I go where I wish and return unscathed. I am born of skalds and it is to the legends I will return.”
“Pretty cocky for a scared little mouse. I SMELL the fear on you boy, as I have on so many others for centuries, since before your people crawled out of the earth. I am the First; the Alpha from which my kind spawns. You speak of legend; I AM legend. So I suppose, Glibtongue, you are meant for me.” The light returned, only now there was a narrow slit of the blackest green amidst it; it was a great and terrible eye.
“No last request then? Fine; though it makes you a pretty poor legend then.” Valik cast his mind, trying anything he could to stay his execution. In the gloam from the open oculus he could make out an immense, draconic snout, great horns and rows of fangs concealed in a leather case the color of the forest itself. “Last request? How dare you call me ‘poor’? You insignificant gnat, I should grind you into dust for that. But no, I’ll humour you boy. What request had you in mind?”
“Tell me a tale, YOUR tale Master Alpha. Entertain me with the time before my clan. If I’m to die, I want to die knowing how I came to trespass here in your home in the first place.” There was a great inhalation of breath and at once Valik closed his eyes and clenched his teeth expecting a horrible end. “In the beginning this place was just a young thicket when I came to be.” And with that, the ancient wyrm began his tale.
For 3 days Valik listened, while the dragon droned on and on, recounting every notable thing it had experienced. An ice age, terrible storms and earthquakes that shuddered the hills. The sundering of the land from the First World and the sorrow of the young forests. The coming of the most ancient of the Dunevain and their trudge through the highlands into the annals of history. He went on and on, barely pausing for breath.
All the while the thing did not sleep or eat or drink; it merely spoke. Valik however was clever and when he’d hit the tree he’d heard it rattle. Hidden in the knot behind him were a store of nuts left behind from some creature. He snuck them out and rationed them, chewing them slowly so that the noise would not disturb his host. At one point it rained and though the canopy blotted out most of the light the beast’s eyes cast enough for him to see the water gathering in piles of matted sphagnum which his father had taught him to collect and drink from so he did just that. He was even clever about his sleep. He clapped a pair of the nutshells over his eyes to make himself appear to still be awake even while he napped.
But eventually the beast seemed to tire. Yet still it went on. Then it let out a mighty yawn that caused the boughs to flutter. And still it went on. Finally the great lanterns of his eyes closed and this was finally Valik’s chance. The lad turned and crept into the forest, back onto the trail he’d found before. No sooner had he done so though that the Direfell exploded with a terrifying roar!
“You think to escape me BOY?!!” the trees parted and plumes of acrid air billowed into the sky. Valik ran then, his tiny legs carrying him as fast as they could. The beast took wing, somehow maneuvering through the canopy and lunging from copse to copse with preternatural grace. The lad sprinted until his chest burned and his heart felt it should burst. Around him the very forest came alive and snapped at his limbs but nothing in this primeval wood could hold Valik back from his destination; the boat.
He kept his legs moving a sudden silence denoted the beast perched just ahead and it breathed out a cloud that curdled the very air and yet still luck was on his side. The creature seemed to have misjudged the distance and the boy dove under a fallen log as the cloud hovered just overhead. It seemed as if nothing would stop him from reaching the shore. That was when the little bit of daylight guiding Valik was swallowed by the very forest expanding around him.
The plants seemed to come alive and grow, quadrupling themselves in moments. It was like the tales of the Wilding all over again. “You are done boy; you’ve nowhere left to go. You are mine!” The heady wind rose as the monster took wing and circled, readying to descend into the clearing at a dive. The lad gathered a pile of stones and stacked them in the gloom while the beast turned, then dove for the cover of a nearby shrub. The massive dragon wheeled, turned and bombed down into the stones only to burst through the curtain of wild growth and hurtle out over the loch.
The startled beast howled and began banking again. Valik hurled himself into the icy water below. The creature wheeled and turned, splintering the boat, but still his prey eluded him. He passed again, skimming the water with his claws but still nothing. With one more turn he searched again, his great green underbelly like a shower of emeralds against the opaque loch but still there was no sign of the boy. With a mighty roar that shattered a nearby willow the monster retreated, having been tricked by his food into letting it go.
Minutes later Valik climbed onto the floating detritus of the boat, discarding the reed he’d used to breathe. He was shivering, and alone but he’d survived. He began paddling for his master’s hall. All through the night he swam through the frigid loch. He sputtered and fairly convulsed from the cold which stole every ounce of the little strength he had. Deep within his heart though came a resolve he’d never known before and he continued on until at last the walls of the castle began to come into view, at which point his senses finally failed him.
He awoke 3 days later in his bed. He was scraped and bruised and waterlogged to the bone, but alive. He staggered down into his master’s hall where a great feast was laid in his honor. “Hail, Valik!” the heroes cried, toasting his success. “I, I don’t…” the lad stammered. His father met him at the stair. “You had Eldwynn nuts in your pockets boy! Do you know what that means? The only place those are known to grow in all our ancient lands are at the very heart of the Direfell. You must’ve been there and survived, which means you’re the first to do it in a hundred years! Hail, VALIK!” the hall resounded with his name.
I originally thought the heart of the wood would reveal itself as a primeval source of all creation and thus I'd send him into the Protean bloodline, but he just seemed like a hero of destiny type.
Thanks all for the kind words and Bardess I love the tale of Rabbity! Keep those ideas flowing!
Y'know another thing you can do with Dreamspun is craft a sort of dreamland with the help of your GM. Be it Lovecraftian (Dreamlands of Unknown Kadath) or Werewolfian (an umbral realm) you could craft it however you want. Then you can REALLLLY play around with your background:
- you're the waking extension of someone/thing in the dreamworld
Wow; before this morning I never even NOTICED the Dreamspun bloodline!
You're looking for inspiration? Sounds like you already have it. Other than that I don't know exactly what you're asking for. Despite that fact, I'm going to just blunder in here because I'm nosy.
What about a female monk/witch that's actually part of a temperance movement? She uses her hexes to craft a curse so vile it is spoiling every batch of beer before it ferments. If you're going funny and enjoy puns, you can name her Ellie Iotness.
As for encounters, I can imagine it starts with a bar fight made all the more dangerous by the fact that all the participants as stone cold sober. During the investigation phase of the game you might have the party visit a local brewery to find that their cakes of yeast were stolen, replaced by this wicked stuff that's not doing the job.
As the game goes on more of the tainted yeast is all over. Those that try to grow their own, new strains end up with powerful oozes that attack them. As the game goes on Ellie's trail leads the party through a series of dungeons and red herrings: a goblin horse-poisoner ring, an ancient dwarven tomb with the recipe of the Bier Primacy, and perhaps to a satyr who's martialing the fey for war to capture all the remaining brandy.
There might also be some new monsters. Yeast Oozes, Sobriety Ghouls or Vampires who seek out the few mortals left with alcohol and then consume them for a buzz, and perhaps a charlatan caster who uses a combo of Create Water, Prestidigitation, and perhaps other spells to create a "near-beer" that provides the illusion of liquor for an hour.
Finally the party would find sects of the temperance movement and start the final march toward ending this horror. The final battle might take place in a ziggurat, atop a store of the last of the real alcohol waiting to be destroyed and therefore bring about the Angel of Prohibition. During the battle the liquor is released and flows down the steps where some of the fallen monks find it and renounce their vows stating "hey, this stuff's not bad."
What about a campaign built on creating something good, rather than destroying some evil. I don't mean Kingmaker and crafting a whole new realm, but maybe just something like the goal of the campaign is to bolster the defenses of a town. You need to scout out into the land to reconnoiter the enemies, understand their abilities and gather the resources to stop them.
Or maybe in adventure one you're commissioned to craft some excellent work of art. You've got a rough estimation of what the patron wants, but its up to you to put your own heart and soul into it. You gather your team together then to find rare materials, inspiration and a unique crafting environment, all to craft a one-of-a-kind McGuffin.
Deep in the Findlethorn Swamps, among the trees and bogs there lives a truly wicked serpent that exists solely on a diet of creatures infused with the weird energies of the First World and the Shadow. Fortunately for the Mirthvile Serpent, the Findlethorn is rife with such creatures. This beast is much feared by the folk of Middenvurdt as its venom can have wild and unpredictable effects.
One hapless mortal accidentally provoked a Mirthvile Serpent to attack; his name was Devarion. A mere woodsman at the edge of poverty and starvation, he trekked deep into the Findlethorn for the rarer bounty it offers. He hoped to find a Erastoil trees; their rare sap can be distilled by skilled alchemists and used to coat arrows to reduce drag and increase accuracy, so it is a valuable commodity. He even remembered to turn his coat inside out, fill his tracks with crumbs and hum the Lightbringer's Tune to ensure he wouldn't be accosted by most of the otherworldly dangers of the place.
Alas he hadn't counted on the multi-hued Mirthvile Serpent he stumbled upon.
The encounter was frightening and painful. The thing exploded from the underbrush and sank its horrible fangs deep into his shoulder. Yet it just as suddenly released him and slithered off, it great bulk rustling the undergrowth as it left. The townsfolk would later tell Devarion the thing simply didn't find his mortal flesh appealing but he would always thank it for the gift it gave him that day.
He crawled for hours through the morass in pain and feverish from the venom in his veins. Devarion is hearty but by no means as great in stature as the Middenvurdt Bristleshields. He was sweating and breathing shallowly as he nestled himself in the bulging, twisting routes of an ancient willow near a nameless stream. Here he waited out the night, preparing for his inevitable and painful death.
When he awoke in the morning the fever had broken. His shoulder ached and it was still an open wound; infection would soon do what the venom had not. But miraculously he had survived. He found an old trail and an abandoned hunter's snare, so he followed that through the morning back to the outer fields of Middenvurdt and finally home.
It wasn't until he staggered up to his cottage that the work of the venom really bore fruit. Old Skrimm, the local reeve was waiting for him, to collect the taxes poor Devarion was already a week behind on. The woodsman begged for reconsideration but Skrimm was firm; he'd return within the hour with a brute squad and Devarion was set for Midden Prison.
Devarion put his hand on the old coin-squeezer and his words came out with a sudden, faint lisp. In slow, measured speech he asked patiently for more time on his debts, urging Skrimm to reconsider with a confidence that was not his own. The reeve's face clouded for a moment, and suddenly a grin shot across his blubbery jaw. OF COURSE Old Skrimm would give him another week, after all; what are friends for if not for favors such as this!
The grinning reeve strode off at once. Devarion leapt inside his modest cote and took up a glass inside. In his mouth he spied what his tongue had pricked as he spoke - a pair of serpent's fangs which receded as if by magic as he watched.
Horrified, Devarion hid his condition for months. Eventually he learned from Madamme Vildda, a witch outside of town, that he was not under a curse or possessed by the Shadow, but rather that somehow the Mirthvile's bite had infused him with the serpent's power. He had become a sorcerer.
@Laughing Lem: Sorry man, I should probably be spoilering the heck out of these what?
Anyway, I guess to sum-up my last epic, you could be a Dreamspun sorcerer by surviving a terrible trial in a dream.
Writing it got me thinking though of how energy flows and might enter a mortal being. Sorcerers have "bloodlines" implying their power is in their blood and therefore hereditary. But how does energy or matter enter the bloodstream? How in the really real world do our bodies change or mutate?
Disease is a great method of rapid change. Cancer or long-term disabilities weaken you but also cause the body to go to work on the disease, often modifying cells in small ways to deal with the issue. Heck, you get an infection, you get a fever; that's an elemental change right there.
Now you up the ante with magical spells and comic-book mentality that modifies real science to create whatever event you want, no matter how impossible. In that case you could have virtually ANY substance modify the body as you see fit.
So getting back to the story above, I assumed that the telling of a fable would be powerful enough to modify the physical body and mind of a young child. You might also have a beautiful song do the same thing. Heck, with all the magic floating around in some settings, you could even have someone just look at a fantastic work of art and the effect on that person might be so strong it changes them in ways they weren't expecting.
I like origin stories. Each one is like creating a spin off of the main game that's ALL yours. In the tale of Baeda the GM might then have Pogolo Peeps return to menace people at the outset of the game, or perhaps on a more mundane note have Baeda prosecuted for poisoning her father. But the story suggests how that player would view the world, how they would deal with the changes their powers bring and therefore what is valuable or important to them as a player.
Sorry (again) for all the words in my posts...
Little Baeda was only six when Old Pogolo Peeps came to visit the city of Tashtanshire. The nightmares were horrible and the nursery rhymes soon followed: "Old Pogolo Peeps, in the shadows he creeps, at night he steals your eyes..."
Despite her mother's objections Guildmaster Rennev would not permit his daughter to be out of sorts. To him this was nothing more than an inconvenience in his career and that was something that would not happen. With fresh bruises concealed beneath her gown Lady Billiden silently assented to her husband's good judgment.
Baeda was seen by Abadaran clergy; friends of the guild who could be counted on to keep this affliction hidden. The girl was sullen, listless; so far she'd avoided the true horror of the touch of Pogolo Peeps - her eyes were still her own. However despite their best efforts there was nothing that could be done for the girl's failing health and resolve.
By night the poor little girl was haunted by the bogeyman. He is a tall, brutish thing with shards of mirror glass in his eyes and a savage visage. Yet despite his bulk he stalks with ease, prowling nightmare landscapes and terrorizing the children into states of such abject fear they may lapse into shock.
That was when some of the children in the neighborhood started to disappear. This final stage of the horror is when Pogolo Peeps begins calling the doomed to him for macabre and horrifying purposes best left unsaid. Baeda and her mother believed the fantasy was real, the fairy tales were true, but they had no recourse to stop it.
Then along came the Firmfoot Faire. Each year each of the districts of Tashtanshire held a faire to celebrate the tenants and businesses. The Firmfoot, though of lower income than most, celebrates with pennants, games and many different foods. The district had much to celebrate that year; the meteoric rise of Guildmaster Rennev Billiden from among the ranks of their own, humble ranks meant that for the first time in a century the fortunes of the neighborhood were looking up.
Yet despite the festivities the specter of Old Pogolo Peeps kept the affair maudlin. The children shuffled through the streets, jumping at shadows and suffering the day as best they could. All the while concerned parents did everything they could to distract and uplift the frightened lambs. All that is, save Baeda who was dressed, painted by her mother, and trotted out as the part of the image her father had to present to maintain the illusion of his prestige.
Then she heard something she hadn't for weeks: giggling. While her parents were distracted in a pavilion greeting other masters from neighboring districts Baeda slipped away and ran to find the source of the mirth. At the end of cul de sac out of the main traffic of the faire she found a puppet show in progress; the protagonist was a brave little boy who took up his father's axe and went into Bloodthorn Hollow to learn how to be afraid, since nothing ever seemed to frighten him.
The play was funny and sweet, until the final villain revealed itself - a hulking brute with shiny eyes. But the boy was clever and hid, drawing the monster to him and used the shiny axe as a mirror to see the creature. At the last he proved he was not afraid of the thing and "poof!" it became a simpering little mite with no more power than a willow wort. The boy laughed then and off with its head for the end of the play!
That night Old Pogolo Peeps finally came for little Baeda Billiden. Yet something had happened while she watched the play. She didn't seem to care when her mother found her in the dead end lane, even though Lady Billiden's face was streaked with tears of abject terror. Baeda didn't even feel the sting of her father's lash that evening when he corrected her for making him look a fool. No, something in the words and visions of the play stuck with her and filled her with a power and strength of such otherworldly energy she fairly thrilled to go to bed that night.
She awoke in the cold dark of night amid the ancient pines and massive Bloodoak trees at the cruel heart of Bloodthorn Hollow. All around her were children; they staggered through the twisted landscape like automatons. She caught one of them by the shoulder, recognizing him as a boy from the Firmfoot, but when she spun him around there were jagged splinters of mirrored glass where his eyes should've been. With ominous deliberateness the boy put one finger to his lips and hissed "shhhhhhhh"
But this was what little Baeda had wanted all along. She turned to the bole of a nearby tree. It was covered over with a living sheet of writhing vermin that made her stomach turn and her blood run cold, but somehow she knew inside, just through there, she would find the prize she sought. Braving the swarm she crawled through on her hands and knees chanting as the boy had in the play "I'm not afraid, no not one bit; I'm not afraid of a silly little nit."
Something gleamed in the inky blackness, just ahead. The chamber was small inside the tree but poor Baeda seemed to crawl for hours to get inside. All around her the bugs crunched and skittered, tangling her blouse and hair and pinching her skin. But all the while she kept the mantra and finally she reached her goal: a shiny silver axe.
She burst out of the tree with her prize. But as she did she was no longer in a forest but a dank cave. Everywhere she looked there were fragments of mirrors; the reflections in the glass were not her own but the children with the jagged eyes, singing the rhymes of Old Pogolo Peeps. She could feel him behind her but every time she turned to see there was nothing but shadow. Once or twice something brusher her hair or shook her shoulder but she could not see what it was.
Then the axe came to bear. Every mirror she found she shattered with the flat of the blade. The caves seemed endless but she went ever on, chanting her chant and using the weapon until the very floor beneath her feet was littered with glass. It cut her toes and she winced at the pain but she went on, brave little Baeda Billiden. She went on and on, bleeding and hurting and staggering under the heft of the weapon as big as her, but ever muttering "I'm not afraid, no not one bit; I'm not afraid of a silly little nit."
Then she arrived at the chair. The room was surrounded with floor-length mirrors and was dark; no mirror-children here. Her own reflection could be seen in the half-light gleaming from the axe, but it was distorted, twisted; there were tears of blood streaming from fresh shards in her eyes. She KNEW this place was in the real world somewhere too; it was here that Pogolo Peeps did its ghastly work. The chair was haggard and adorned with straps to bind a child in place, all the way to the neck.
Rather than attack or break the mirrors, little Baeda just went over, climbed up into the chair with her back turned and stood on it, waiting and chanting. All the while she kept her eyes fervently on the head of the axe. Slowly the shadows congealed and a cold chill came into the room. Behind her, Pogolo Peeps creeped.
With a "WHOOSH!" she whirled around. The blade cut the air and swung wildly but found no resistance from the neck of the bogeyman! His head flew from his body and at once all the mirrors in the chamber exploded. Just as the flying shards were about to tear the poor girl to ribbons she awoke in bed, the words of her chant still issuing from her raw lips. She'd been in some sort of fever dream for nearly a full day.
Her disapproving father called her stories rubbish and refused to hear them, threatening the lash again for lying. Her poor mother silently agreed and did nothing to defend the little girl. But Baeda knew somehow that by conquering the monster her dream had empowered her. Small tingles of the otherworldly energies still rippled through her and every so often they bubbled up into the waking world.
From that day forward she found she could chant her chant in a sing-song voice like in her dream, and when she did so her parents dozed, not seeming to notice her sneaking about the house. In time she learned to control this and many other powers her dreams revealed to her. Years later when her father's ambitions and frustrations had gone too far Baeda Billiden avenged her mother's death and forced her father into a magical slumber which she prolonged for days with the use of her power and a special drug obtained from the alchemists of Arabellyn; an extract of the dream spider that she injected directly into the man's veins. When he finally awoke his mind was broken; his fractured psyche could no longer distinguish reality from nightmare and he was committed to Blackgate Asylum in Dunspar far up the coast.
This is the origin of Baeda, the Dreamspun Sorceress who went on to become one of the greatest folk legends the poor folk of the Firmfoot District of Tashtanshire ever knew. As a child she saved 7 others from the final ravages of Pogolo Peeps and before she was done she saw and forestalled the Black Queen of Dammenterem from opening the Shadow Gates of the Hollow and wiping out Tashtanshire with a nightmare blight from another world.
335. The Hidden Malediction - Several years ago a class of new-money nobility amid the merchants of a city rose to power, flourished for a brief time, and were then extinguished by a terrorist who trapped them at a ball, tortured them, and then released a devastating plague called the Velvet Scars. Those few who survived the ordeal were terribly scarred physically and mentally by the ordeal. They went to great lengths to conceal their pain but their businesses suffered and they faded into obscurity.
The campaign begins with a new outbreak of the Scars. From there the PCs will encounter a group calling themselves the Hidden Malediction; a secret society of mysterious folks with a lot of disposable income and plenty of time on their hands. They of course are the remnants of the fallen nobles, and they have secretly begun to rebuild their power in the worship of Lamashtu. Despite their methods the Malediction is doing unparalleled good in the city so the players will have to decide whether to work with them or against them.
159. The Hidden Malediction
This modest handbook is bound in supple red leather and the pages are crisp, watermarked velum edged in alchemical silver. It was apparently authored by Malphidius Von Yolsc; Knowledge: Nobility (DC 15) reveals he was a merchant noble, part of a class of "New Money" that came to power, flourished, then were struck down by a terrible plague roughly 60 years ago in a prominent campaign city.
The first chapter, labeled simple "A Foreward", recounts an event from history: The Kryptovaran Ball wherein the nobles assembled were afflicted by the disease that came to be known as "The Velvet Scars". It graphically describes the horror of a small group of nobles, trapped in one of the Kryptovaran vaults (this particular house enjoyed having their parties in the grand burial vaults beneath their manor) by a terrorist who unleashed the Velvet Scars into the air from a sealed vial and remained to watch them all suffer and die.
The fact of history though is that some of these folk survived long enough to be rescued by a group of mercenary adventurers. These survivors banded together after their ordeal and made a club of sorts where they could meet and conduct business. The disease had horribly disfigured them and in time their wealth failed them.
The remaining chapters lay out The Hidden Malediction; a cult-like assemblage which meets in secret and then conceals their hideousness through mundane and sometimes supernatural means. Each of the chapters lays out a different aspect of the group: leadership, rites of belonging, etiquette and such.
Anyone reading this book from cover to cover may make a Knowledge: Religion (DC 25) to realize that the Hidden Malediction and their sadistic rites are in fact a cult of the goddess Lamashtu. They must also roll a Fort Save (DC 15) or suffer the Velvet Scars.
The Velvet Scars
Type disease, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 15
The Velvet Scars is a terrifying and deadly disease. It attacks the organs as well as the dermis, making it unbearable to be in one's own skin. It is named for the thick, ropy scars seemingly burned into the flesh of the victim.
Can you ever Aid Another during a Climb check? If so, have someone climb with you. If it's your cleric/divine caster, make sure they have guidance and have them cast it on you before each check. That plus using a knotted rope virtually guarantees success.
Don't have any of these? Impress your GM with some of the following suggestions:
1. Utilize belts, sashes or other forms of clothing as an improvised rope
2. Use daggers as climbing spikes
3. Have a flying familiar to scout handholds for you, or else have your mage hand holding a ground familiar to do the same thing
4. Explain how you're using a bit of nearby tree-sap and gritty dust or chalk for added grip
5. Use a mage hand to probe hand and footholds and test them for you
I'm sure there's lots of other suggestions others will have. If your GM plays purely by RAW none of these will net much of anything in the way of a situational bonus, but if your GM enjoys a bit of roleplay and a well-thought-out plan, they may throw you a little bonus for the effort.
I like the idea of urban gaming, but why cap the levels? If you're in a major city and feel like going with RAW, that means that SOMEWHERE in that city is a guy willing to sell an occasional 7th-9th level spell. So if there's 18th level spellcasters, why not the same level or higher villains?
Look at comic books for urban gaming. There's some heroes that remain on the streets, fighting pickpockets. There's others who go toe-to-toe with Galactus. But then there's some like Spider-Man who beat down the occasional thug and ALSO go to other worlds to wail on Thanos.
The point is, in a city environment it can just be a REALLY big dungeon. There are movers and shakers and there's elites and finally there's mooks. The PCs need to start out with the mooks and their leaders, work up to the elites and hopefully deal with the kingpin of crime someday.
This is also a game with certain fantasy elements. Flight, teleportation, and divinations all lend themselves to exploration and expansion. Then again you can restrict some powers or encourage others instead. Still, even a well-ensorcelled familiar in an urban investigation can prove game-changing.
As for combat I played a 1e game years ago that was urban-centric, with an all-thief PC roster that was nearly ALL combat. As I said, the city can easily be just a giant dungeon.
As for what I'd like to see: I think I'd like to see more Anthony, less Lovecraft. The goblin stuff like ROTRL or We Be Goblins is fun (though a bit twisted) but a lot of the adventures I've picked up are downright dark. Carnival of Tears? So much horror that w/out a major re-write I'd have a revolt at the table.
"I'll close the gap lads!" Rogar shouted as the otherworldly horror hurtled up the mineshaft. "But Rogar, if we can just hold it until the Defender unit..." his crew's protests were cut off by a stern glance from their foreman. "I may not be a hero or a Defender or even a warrior, but the dwarf 'afore you is STILL your superior! Now GET TOPSIDE! That's an ORDER" he barked. The crew of Goldgap 12 took a last look at their foreman as he heaved his pick, then began the scrabbling ascent for home.
Rogar cautioned a glance over his shoulder. The duergar summoner smiled confidently as his infernal beast made short work of the near-vertical shaft. It exuded a slimy film that stunk of acid and ate away at the stone, even as the stuff helped it squeeze up the shaft. "Just a few more seconds then. C'mon y' nasty..." Rogar thought. But just as the thing got where it needed there was a humming in the steel head of the pick. Before the foreman could snap the support and drop the roof on the 3 of them, the tool adhered itself to the wall, magnetizing to the ore within.
"You and your kind are FINISHED here Longbeard. The hordes below will follow behind. But be assured; your death will be honored in our Littany!" The sneering degenerate below watched with glee as the monster it summoned skittered into position over Rogar, its acidic slime dripping to the floor and sizzling.
"To the hells with this, and ALL of it!" Rogar roared, grabbing the support. It had been crafted cleverly as a fail-safe; normally it supported weight well enough but when forced a certain way the wooden fibers uncoiled from themselves, giving into the force and unleashing a devastating cave in. The miner had intended to use the strike from his pick to do the job with ease. Now the splinters bit into his raw hands as he heaved with all his might against the joint.
"NOOOO!!!" the arcanist howled. The sound of his next spell were quickly drowned out by the cacophony of 2 tons of stone exploding out to crush them all and plug the tunnel beyond.
Moments later a pair of Defenders arrived, Goldgap 12 right behind. They found their steel tools and implements useless from the magnetic resonance and a lingering miasma of raw, arcane power. To make matters worse the stagnant air was choked with a cloud of dust fouled by acrid slime that burned their lungs. Yet miraculously amid the rubble they noted Rogar's hand; and it twitched.
"He's alive!" one of his crew shouted. "You can't go in there lad," one of the Defenders admonished clapping a hand to the miner's shoulder. "Oy!" the dwarf snarled, throwing off the hero's grip, "that's our FOREMAN in there! We might not be shiny knights and all, but we got rules just the same, not the least o' which is 'ya DON'T leave a crewman b'hind' so back off chief, 'fore 'yer swallowin' 'yer teeth as a reminder!"
With that the other 11 members of Goldgap 12 set themselves to the task of digging out their fallen foreman. The work was long and painful; they moved with purpose despite the acid in the stone, on the ground and even in the very air burning them at every turn. Several passed out from the effort but the Defenders stripped out of the armor and weapons so as not to be trapped against the wall, then dragged out the fallen and took up with the remaining crew.
In the end Rogar was pulled from the carnage. His face had soaked in the stuff and thick, ropy acid burns and pocks covered the flesh to the bone. Despite it all though the man clung to some semblance of life and was borne like a battlefield saint up the dropshaft toward the Great Hall of Brutenheim.
Days later Rogar the Scarred awoke in the midst of a fever dream. He was in the infirmary wing of the Hall, his body and face bandaged but aching. His gasping breath came in waves; all he tasted was the stinging filth of the acidic dust as if he were still in the rubble. "Steady now Foreman. You're still recovering. Tear those poultices loose and you'll understand what pain is." the chiurgeon smiled, looking down on Rogar from the foot of the bed.
"Heh...thought I was a goner there. M' face though, feels strange...tingly..." and with that Rogar the Scarred convulsed and glared his mangled eye at the far wall where his fevered eye seemed to see the duergar's sneering face. "B'hind you!" he cried and his words and will seemed to focus the tingling energy, like a hose directing water. From the depths of his recovering oculus exploded a beam of opaque, green-hued energy that filled the air with an acrid sting. The ray hit the wall and fumed, burning the stone with acidic power.
"What in the 9 hells..."