I wrote these little vignettes as fictional asides in-between game sessions of 'The Moonscar' focusing on my PC Y'dalnia Wyrmtouched, the tiefling/ganzi/whatever cleric of Ssila'meshnik the Colorless Lord. I've edited out the more than colorful language and some ribald content from the original to not offend board rules on the matter. Spoilers ahoy for the Moonscar module obviously:
Irrespective of the absence of a true dawn or a conventional day/night cycle, the arrival of “dawn” –by whatever internal clock she uses– finds Y’dalnia at the edge of camp, prepared and ready for her morning prayers and rituals. Anyone watching would have seen her begin by stretching her arms, legs, and tail and then promptly sitting down cross-legged, hovering an inch or two off the ground, and pouring herself a glass of deep ruby, nearly black wine.
Swirling the glass to aerate the contents, the cleric promptly squints her eyes, passes the wine glass to her prehensile tail, and proceeds to flip off the burning white sky, “Mother f*****...”
Having pronounced her opinion on the sky, she promptly downs the wine in a single chug and smacks her lips before tapping those same lips still wet with wine with her gleaming symbol of Ssila’meshnik the Colorless Wyrm, protean lord of fate, freedom, and paradox. The platinum surface of the bauble strung around her neck writhes and changes moment by moment for several seconds after her silent and alcoholic invocation of her divine and oh so chaotic patron.
“Some for you too Ssila’meshnik,” Y’dalnia smirks and licks her lips clean with a pass of her forked, serpentine tongue. “And if you don’t have a problem, than I don’t have a problem either; that goes for everything, not just the booze.”
Chuckling to herself, she seems to relax, both from the reassuring touch of her divine patron refilling her mind with divine spells, and also the alcohol working its way into her bloodstream. Unseen by any but herself, a shimmering, translucent void worm protean manifests from nothing and settles down atop her shoulders like a purring kitten, if purring kittens were magical, living expressions of pure chaos in the shape of multicolored chaos snakes from the Maelstrom a realm of unbound, manifest everything and nothing all at once.
“Dear Ssila’meshnik, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me…” She pauses and boops the voidworm’s nose with a single claw, “No that’s something else entirely. Let’s try this again.”
“Dear Lords of Chaos and Heralds of the Speakers of the Depths: F**** me sideways, I woke up alone this morning. This needs to change and this needs to change soon. You would think on a terrestrial moon seemingly inundated with gender and appearance changing succubi, that I’d be able to find someone I wouldn’t turn my nose up at. This has not been the case so far. This place sucks, signed, your devoted herald Y’dalnia Wyrmtouched aka Izrashekia the Gossamer Poison of the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry. PS. This place sucks.”
Frowning, Y’dalnia brushes the air in front of her with a pair of fingers dismissively. For a brief moment the air shimmers and gains an almost tangible, liquid consistency, with the streaming sunlight suddenly casting a blue tone across the cleric as if passing through a stained glass window. Then just as quickly as it happened, the air returns to normal and the protean-blooded whosie-whatsit groans and mutters.
“Stupid f****** static reality!” She sticks out her lower lip in a pronounced pout. “You’d think that this place being so tainted by the Abyss that I’d at least be able to warp the landscape if I set my mind to it! Clearly not given that I can’t do it right now when I’m awake, and that I went to sleep last night in the open in a sleeping bag rather than anything else.”
Over the next thirty minutes, Y’dalnia continues at a whimsical clip, alternatively praying in flowing, eerily beautiful, sing-song protean, or just ranting in common or protean about the surrounding moonscape, her current lack of physical companionship, and really anything that drifts to the surface of her mind.
Presumably from the outside, it’s all just a giant sit down at the metaphorical base coils of a protean lord and spilling your guts out sort of event, except it’s up for debate who she’s even necessarily speaking to, and that goes for Y’dalnia herself. The thing is, she herself isn’t ever entirely sure if she’s interacting with the voice of her patron demigod Ssila’meshnik, the mythical lords of her self-proclaimed Chorus: the Watching Seven of Galisemni, or if she’s just interacting with some particularly vivid hallucinations. It’s probably important to know that she drinks a cup of wine before her prayers, and that she instructs her vintner in Galisemni to randomly spike a fraction of the bottles she purchases with potent hallucinogens, just to add in that extra random element. Not that she f$$~ing cares really one way or the other who she’s actually speaking with or who’s actually answering her prayers. It’s likely probable that her actual divine patron Ssila’meshnik occasionally reroutes her prayers to another deity entirely just to turn their servitor’s bizarre litany to another god and let them suffer.
Despite the cleric’s failed attempts to alter the landscape around herself as if she were back in the Maelstrom, her prayers have had a demonstrable effect on her surroundings nonetheless. Stray objects within a fifteen foot radius now drift and tumble as if caught in the subtle currents of some immaterial liquid, freed from the moon’s already feeble gravity. Y’dalnia’s hair likewise drifts and moves as if she sat underwater, with stray locks occasionally lashing out like a hungry eel at tiny pebbles that pass within their reach. Y’dalnia herself seems to either not notice this at all, or considers it such a prosaic, normal thing in her life that she doesn’t make any outward display.
That said, this brings us around to Y’dalnia’s introspection about her current companions, or at least what passes for that:
“I’ll admit that I’m still learning their names.” She shrugs and idly twirls a finger through her multicolored hair. “I’ll be honest, and this does not make me bigoted, but mortals tend to all look alike to me…”
The translucent voidworm acting like a living shawl about her shoulders suddenly taps her chin with its tail and glances deliberately back towards Natalya.
“Ok yeah, I know her name. She’s the only one weird enough to remember.” Y’dalnia rolls her eyes and laughs. “As for the others, I’m working on it. For the moment it’s humanoids #1, #2, and #3, otherwise known as the kineticist, the Calistrian, and the paladin of Abadar.”
The voidworm looks askew at the mention of the paladin before looking over Y’dalnia’s shoulder in his direction.
“F*** if I know man…” Y’dalnia shrugs, her tail curling into a pronounced question-mark shape. “It’s certainly not the strangest combination I’ve been a part of. But hey, in the grand game of Chaos versus Stupid, if I can tilt a servitor of Dumb versus moon-dwelling servitors of Dumber, let’s go for it.”
Seemingly pleased, the voidworm begins to slowly sublimate back into nothing from whence it came, not that that stops Y’dalnia from pouring herself more wine and continuing to ramble on for the better part of the next hour as everyone else finally begins to wake up.
“Still, I’ve got issues, both in general and with this stupid moon. Granted it’s much more interesting than Golarion, but I’m disappointed nonetheless. Seriously, from what I’d gathered before we got up here, I figured that I’d end up marooned in the Lustocracy of the Moon Succubi.” Y’dalnia smiles, glancing in the retrievers’ direction across the lake with a lecherous glint in her eyes, flicking her tongue out and back like a serpent tasting the air. Abruptly though her expression changes to a exasperated frown and her eyes shift in color, her pupils cross-dilating and contracting at odd intervals as she once again proceeds to flip off the sky and then the ground in turn. “Except son of a b**** no! Instead, so far all I’ve gotten are some succubi school rejects with hard radiation poisoning, a looming sunburn, a poisonous jungle, and lots of undead critters. Again, son of a b****! I swear, if I’m here another day I’m making a f****** demiplane to sleep in…”
Having finished her prayers (such as they were) she shoots back the last of her wine, shakes her head and stands up. Abruptly the terrain returns to normal, the bleed over from the underlying presence of the Maelstrom ceases, and the drifting stones and other minor items abruptly fall back to the surface.
“What are you all staring at?” Y’dalnia perks an eyebrow and shrugs, realizing a moment later that yes indeed, when your clothes are illusory and dependent on magic items for their effect, they require you to actually turn the effect back on once you wake up. Provided that you didn’t sleep in your glammered armor, which she did not, that puts her naked in all her protean-blooded glory at the edge of camp.
“Oh, that.” She glances down before triggering the illusions of the dress and other assorted clerical vestments she wore the previous day. “Whatever. Meh. Good morning regardless.”
Hey there! I’m Todd Stewart. You probably know me from my work on Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Dungeons and Dragons, and various 3rd party products by such companies as Legendary Games, Purple Duck Games, Rogue Genius Games, Jon Brazer Enterprises, and Zombie Sky Press. You might also be aware of me under my username of Shemeska the Marauder on probably half or more of all of the various RPG forums online, and Shemeska’s Planescape Storyhour on Enworld that I started writing more than ten years ago and which I’m still writing now.
For all of the material that I’ve written for Pathfinder, I’ve never actually been to PaizoCon. This summer I’m going to be embarking on a very big change in my life as I begin pharmacy school and shoulder a gigantic amount of debt. Since I’m going to be largely or completely putting my RPG freelancing career on pause for the next four years, I want PaizoCon 2017 to be something of a last hurrah for me before I go back to school full time and have neither time nor money.
I live on the other side of the country from Seattle where PaizoCon is held, and as it stands, I have very little money as I’ve spent the last two years going to school part time to finish pharmacy prerequisites and working as a pharmacy tech after a previous decade as a scientist in the biotech industry. So how do I manage to pull this off before being dropping off the face of the planet for the next four years?
Between airfare, booking a hotel room, other assorted travel expenses, food, etc it’s going to be very expensive for me to attend PaizoCon, especially if I bring along my spouse/partner in crime. But if I can get a little bit of help from you and other generous, awesome folks, I could pull this off and spend five sleep-deprived days gaming with you!
So we're one session away from finishing RotRL, and I figure to myself, go big or go home.
At the end of the penultimate campaign session, my character the protean-blooded arcanist Il'setsya lost her profane gift and the succubus paramour that went along with it. The following is what I wrote to the GM to describe her actions between that session and the finale one:
After witnessing the planetar Ayruzi either banish or kill Valesh, Il’setsya proceeds to rant incoherently in protean for a solid twenty minutes, stomping her hooves and whipping her tail about and threatening to knock anyone over within its multicolored arc. Anyone trying to calm her down gets a murderous look and a series of symbols over her head that briefly take on the appearance of cartoon versions of herself giving a middle finger.
The ranting and raving then descends into drinking and a furious search for any intoxicants on her person (of which she has none since two of the other PCs had previously and wisely taken away from her). A bottle of rumboozle in her system later and she finally loses it.
“If anyone wants to rest and recover anywhere other than here in Xin-Shalast, tell me now.” Actually bothering to ask anyone else’s opinion at the moment seems to be taking a serious amount of effort on her part. “Because otherwise I’m going to be bailing and getting myself royally messed up, or messing someone else up, or yeah, stuff. Son of a &*(&#* goodytwoshoes planetar emerald skinned well meaning busybody ^&*&@$$… GAH!”
The charisma drain has left her a bitter, angry, spiteful mess of a thing, and after acquiescing to party demands for transportation, she proceeds to bamf out with a planeshift to the Maelstrom, and from there to Galisemni for the evening.
Nine hours later Il’setsya returns without any fanfare, looking remarkably relaxed, with a look of eerily calm intent on her face. This is probably the first sign that something is up. The second being that she promptly clears herself a space to draw a circle in chalk, sand, and drops of her own blood when she pricks her palm with her dagger from Runeforge. Completing her triumvirate of crazy is when she proceeds to strip naked and sit in the middle of the circle, with a voidworm protean curled about her shoulders and a lit candle of invocation held in her hands, slowly dribbling molten wax on her exposed flesh without so much as a chirp before she starts chanting in protean in singsong fashion.
Moments later a spherical space confined within the periphery of the drawn circle goes oddly translucent, the air seemingly turning to a glistening blue liquid as if she were calling the underlying substance of the Maelstrom into tangible being by her very presence. The air and earth alike shimmer, glisten, ripple, and seethe as if living things as she begins to call out in supplication and request.
“Ssila’mesh’nik the Colorless Lord!”
The candle flame turns wane and transparent, burning ever brighter with a fierce light.
“Il’surrish the Wanderer!”
Cerulean light begins to leak from every orifice of her body and those of the tiny protean curled about her shoulders.
“Mother of Tongues!”
A whispering chorus of voices rises on the wind, indistinct and incoherent, but somehow address each and every creature within a quarter mile.
“Narriseminek the Crownless, Maker of Kings!”
Burn marks and scars flicker in and out of existence across Il’setsya’s flesh.
“Lord of the Insane!”
Il’setsya cackles wildly but otherwise she seems to have that one handled all on her own.
“Lord of Entropy!”
The candle of invocation burns at a fiercely accelerated rate, boiling wax coating her hands and thighs, shimmering like a sheen of newer scales on her skin where it falls.
“Watcher in the Wheel!”
Purple, opalescent eyes emerge from the circle, glancing about and focusing them attention inwards on Il’setsya.
“Zolo of Hungry Teeth!”
Il’setsya smiles, baring a row of jagged, shark-like teeth, flickering in and out of existence moment by moment, replaced by and then replacing her own tiefling-like teeth and tiny fangs.
“All of you I beseech! All of you I invoke! All of you I beg for your favor and aid in the coming battle! All of you I would give of myself, but I am bound to others, and this you know.”
Il’setsya begins to smile as glistening letters erupt within the air. A cloud of names drifts through the substance of the void, each linked to others by tenuous, sinuous threads, and all of them linked to Il’setsya by the same gossamer chains of chaotic protoplasm.
The next words from Il’setsya’s mouth grate upon the ears, and standing within a dozen feet of her circle causes blood to leak from your eyes and ears. It is protean yes, but yet not. Older. The first tongue of Chaos that echoed through the Deep when there was only the Deep and nothing else.
“Watchers of Galisemni, Seven in all I call to you!”
“Frozen Lords of Chaos wrapped in bonds of Regret and Sorrow I call upon you!”
“Lords of Paradox and owners of my soul I call upon you!”
“Wyrms of Jandalay!”
“You who molded me like clay!”
“You who made me as I should be!”
“You who took my offered life upon the Wall!”
“You who erased the me that was from the pages of history and named me Il’setsya!”
“You who cracked the gates of the Abyss and in your glorious, brilliant hubris made this reality what it has become, and You Seven who have suffered ever since, I call upon you!”
“Chorus of Malignant Symmetry I call upon you!”
The ground below Il’setsya erupts in a column of blue light, obscuring her form, and only after the light has faded, is what emerges visible.
What emerges shall be interesting. :D
The following is a record of what happens when you have a protean-blooded Chaotic Neutral character with time on her hands and many uses of sending. Consider the following as effectively drunk 4am texts to Runelord Karzoug who was very not happy with them, and it remains to be seen if my PC is going to survive the aftermath. In her defense she has a 5 Wisdom normally, was at a 3 Wisdom at the time, and then used Wyrm Pesh before the first sending. In my defense, I was on prescription painkillers at the game table. I've cleaned up the language from the original --considerably--:
Someone should probably tell Il’setsya to lay off the hard (and magical) liquor for a bit. At the very least make her slow down until she managed to heal the Wisdom damage she’s currently suffering.
“Everything is so amazingly, wildly clear to me at the moment!”
Her pupils are randomly changing size, she’s randomly giggling, talking to herself in the third person, and the runes encircling her head now include what looks like tiny neon signs of her in one two progression for drinking, smoking, and performing acts that would make Sorshen proud.
“I know Sorshen is probably dead, maybe, and in any event she’s probably not the kind of girl that you should be pining after.” The arcanist giggles in a moment of self-deprecation, with a very obvious smudge of something white and powdery on her nose. “But since when have I either cared about the ramifications of my actions or taken a course of action that might be described as prescient or wise? Yeah, ok, so we’re on the same page. Good.”
Il'setsya reaches into a bag to her left and pulls out a large fried confection dusted with powdered sugar. She’s drunk and the sugar is getting everywhere, but at least it puts to rest the idea that she’s been frying her brain by snorting crystalline pesh, though the jury is still perhaps out on that as well.
“So I’ve been blowing through my daily allotment of sending spells and just rambling out into the aether to whoever I happened to be talking to. I got kind of mixed up though, so I’m pretty sure that I was sweet-talked Sorshen in my own crazy way while I was actually sending that all to Runelord Karzoug.”
Another erratic burst of laughter, followed by Il’setsya’s tail winding down to her face. The prehensile appendage errantly pokes the end of a pipe stem to her lips where she purses her lips, takes a puff, and exhales thin streams of purple smoke from her nose and between her teeth.
“Ssilma’meshnik preserve, but Karzoug has to be having a bad day because I’ve been rambling about what I’d like to do to Sorshen or let Sorshen do to me. It has to be bizarre to wake up after thousands of years and have some crazy drunk chick whispering telepathically into your mind about how ‘I totally want to motorboat you...’.”
Wriggling out of the cloud of smoke surrounding Il’setsya, her summoned voidworm Harold aka Susanne aka Vladimir aka Jeanette etc flits about in the air, pointing its tail to the scattered pages of parchment surrounding. “D’zenirusiphia has been pretty naughty.”
Il’setsya aka D’zenirusiphia the Meandering Whisper of Wanton Whimsy rolls her eyes and reaches down for one of the sheets of paper. It and all of the others are covered in 25 word passages of text, some of them heavily revised and marked for edits, and all of them presumably being fodder for her use of sending spells.
“Some of these are pretty bad, and I admit, I don’t really remember which of them I sent to which person. Actually though I probably sent them all to Runelord Karzoug...” Another puff from the pipe and another giggle. “Feel free to look through them if you like, because it’ll probably come back to bite us in the tail.”
Of course, that phrase probably has a double meaning, given that the very first passage has a crudely scribbled cartoon Il’setsya bending over, with an equally crudely scribbled cartoon Runelord Sorshen biting her tail, with a cartoon heart shape floating between the two of them.
“Runelord Sorshen the Most Eminently Nom-nom’able, if you promise not to kill or torture me, I’ll show you a good time worth waiting millennia for.”
Continuing through the first page of many, the pages are stained with errant drops of wine and the ground surrounding Il’setsya is scattered with drug paraphernalia and candy wrappers. She’s been busy and probably worse the wear as a result of it all. Reading the sending spell messages that she’s already sent, gods above she’s probably going to have pissed off Runelord Karzoug something fierce since most of the messages aren’t intended for him, but all of them were sent to him anyways.
The following are around half of the ones that she sent, having blown higher level spell slots to just keep casting sending. She also looks to have doodled herself in various 'romantic' scenes with Runelord Sorshen and Runelord Alaznist, sometimes both of them at the same time.
“Yeah I sort of got carried away. Intelligent, magically skilled women are my thing. I’m mildly concerned about the whole horrifically evil thing on their part, but it’s not necessarily a deadlbreaker.” Il’setsya blushes fiercely and promptly passes out, her voidworm catching her head and ensuring that she doesn’t wake up with a concussion on top of a crippling hangover.
Il’setsya’s sending spell hall of shame:
“Runelord Sorshen. You, me, Alaznist and a five pound brick of Mwangi Flayleaf. My place, Galisemni, this Saturday. Clothing optional. My girlfriend won’t mind. Much.”
“Runelord Sorshen. Come to think of it, let’s make it your place. My girlfriend probably will mind. Sandpoint this Friday. Come meet my other girlfriend.”
“Runelord Sorshen, I’m so stupidly drunk right now. I want to motorboat you. Karzoug is a poo poo head. A greedy poo poo head.”
“Runelord Sorshen, my body is ready. Where have you been all of my life? Actually I don’t know how old I am. Past murkier than Sloth’s Runeforge domain.”
“Lady of magical mystery with mysterious past and ominous allegiance to slithering primordial forces of Chaos with desire to dissolve reality seeks illicit romance. A/S/L?”
“Runelord Alaznist, sorry for making out with your statue below Sandpoint. I don’t know what came over me. Actually I was drunk. I regret nothing.”
“Girly tiefling-thingamajig age unknown seeks genius female wizard for long intimate walks down the beach at sunset, breaking multiversal laws and causing mischief. Woohoo Xaos!”
“Runelord Alaznist, I’m totally blitzed on pesh. Please have your way with me. Save me from Karzoug’s revenge, because I kinda screwed with his stuff.”
“Runelord Karzoug, I hope this message reaches you. I am a barrister of the 1st Protean Bank of Galisemni and I need to transfer money.” Continued to next sending “If you could provide me with your treasure vault location and passwords past spells and guardians, I will give you a share of this fund.”
“Runelord Karzoug, I’m normally hot for transmuters like yourself. But you’re a dude. I’m not into dudes. Change that and get back to me. Kisses.”
“OMG I have a tail! Holy heck this is awesome! Ssila’meshnk preserve, I also know magic! Who am I talking to? Huh? Say what? *sounds of projectile vomiting*”
“Runelord Karzoug, sorry for that last one. I overindulged in wine, women, and your mom. Wait, no, that doesn’t make sense as a joke. Damn.”
“Runelord Karzoug, Shalast was cool and Imma let you finish, but Gastash and Eurythnia were the coolest of the runelord realms of Thassilon ever. HashtagChaoslife.”
I'm currently playing a very -very- Chaotic Neutral character by the name of Il'setsya Wyrmtouched (a protean blooded tiefling(ish) blood arcanist) in RotRL on Wednesday evenings. Int 20, Wis 5. To say that she's whimsical is an understatement. "I have horns, hooves, and a twelve foot long tail. I don't do subtle."
In-between sessions or during off-weeks, I've been prone to writing in-character material to further flesh her out as a character, and to just have more fun interacting with the other PCs. Let me share some of it all with you folks.
In the aftermath of defeating Xanesha and receiving a substantial reward from Magnimar’s mayor, Il’setsya shows up the next morning after a night of self-proclaimed ‘getting completely sh*t-faced’. She’s clearly hung over, with squinted, light-sensitive eyes, and her tail seems content to simply drag on the ground. Even the circle of runes drifting above her head seems to be tilted at an awkward angle. The scent of both whiskey and various sweet and stereotypically ‘girly’ drinks hangs about her like a raincloud, while splashes of wine dot her outfit, and lipstick smears in two different colors splotch across her face and neck.
After a long, protracted period of sporadically and suddenly paying unhappy obeisance to Cayden Cailean (out of the nearest open window), she finds the energy to write down the following note and provides everyone with a copy, right before she passes out for at least the second time in the previous six hours.
“To those of you that I know and remember, and to those of you that I didn’t know prior to drinking far too much last night and most certainly don’t remember now except for the traces of your lipstick, the scent of your perfume, and a number of difficult to see without a mirror hickies and bite marks, I have the following to say:
I very much apologize for what I may have done last night.
Let’s make that a blanket apology covering what I can only infer might have gone on, because to be perfectly honest, I drank waaaaaay too much, might have indulged in various illegal or questionably legal substances willingly or unwillingly at the Dreaming Dryad and one other parlor, and with respect to at least two people who I didn’t know at all prior to last night, you were good as far as I can recall.
Here I am with a splitting headache, trying to deduce what exactly I did, who I owe money to, and which establishments I probably don’t want to go back to until this all blows over. I’m not all that experienced in divinations as a school of magic, so if you have any memories of what happened or heard any rumors, please politely tell me.
This morning began with my waking up in a rather posh room in the House of Welcome, albeit with the room décor at that juncture -post whatever happened overnight- best described as “it looks like someone tossed the place before the city watch arrived”. So in no particular order of importance, let’s cover what may or may not have happened, and what I need help with:
I seem to have found myself in possession of someone else’s gold and garnet earrings. At least I assume they’re earrings. I’ve left them with the staff at the House of Welcome and you can get them with a good enough description of the words inscribed on one of them.
I need to return the pair of rather tiny, lacy… errr, an article of clothing suffice to say, to an unknown someone with very good taste who left them behind last night and which I woke up wearing this morning. As darling as it was to leave them with me, I’d like to return them and at the very least know your name. Also I’d like my own back. I already had to hunt down a ghoul lord last time for that express purpose (don’t ask, it’s complicated), so hopefully this time is less creepy and doesn’t involve haunted mansions and obsessive undead perverts.
I live an interesting life. Welcome to my world.
I also seem to have in my possession another… article of clothing… left underneath the pillow serving as an impromptu and very poorly thought out stopper to a bottle of rather fine port. Whatever color they were before, they’re now a deep burgundy and short of magic, they’ll be staying that way. I suspect that was my fault and my idea at the very least, and I’ll pay for the cleaning bill as needed.
To the owners of the Gilded Cage gambling den and tavern, I’ll happily pay for any damage done in the main commons room, though I strongly suspect that my winnings should cover most of it. My hooves have a smattering of wax and spilled ale on them this morning, and so I suspect that at some point I spent some time dancing on one or more of your tables (possibly the ceiling and walls as well… oh Ssila’meshnik the Colorless Lord, I hope that I was at least dressed at the time…). Suffice it to say, I’ll pay for removal of any hoof prints left behind (This is why someone needs to make Horseshoes of the Zephyr for those of us with one pair of hooves rather than two, and also those of us with cloven hooves rather than un-cloven!)
I also woke up wearing a feathered hat. I don’t own any hats of my own, well, at least not the conventional kind at least. Hats and horns don’t mix well, as this hat’s owner will swiftly discover if they collect their hat because my horns put holes therein. Should it have a sentimental value, I’ve left the hat with the front desk at the House of Welcome. I’ll pay for a replacement.
Additionally, if anyone remembers how exactly I appear to have transformed a pigeon and the back cover of a clearly bootleg copy of Volume 14 of the Pathfinder Chronicles into a roast rack of lamb last night and took notes as to what the hell I did or said to make that happen, please let me know! This would have happened sometime prior to my vomiting glass rhinestones all over the porch of Billivin's Benevolent Balms and Effulgent Elixirs. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened there. I’m going to blame it on the quasit that I remember punching in the face sometime around midnight. Come to think of it, it might not have been a quasit, but just a very ugly child, or possibly a dwarf. All you non-outsiders look alike to me.
Finally, this sort of behavior is fairly normal for me if you weren’t already aware.
I do not need any sort of intervention.
Yes Rynshinn is well aware of my proclivities. She’s a darling and this sort of thing doesn’t lessen what we have. I would however appreciate anyone witness to any of my activities last night to avoid spilling all of the details to her. I’d rather her not feel embarrassed on my behalf. Not that I’m particularly embarrassed. Clearly I had a hell of a time!
Il’setsya Wyrmtouched, aka the Great Archmage Crazy Hooves, Mad Matriarch of Galisemni’s Tavern District, aka D’zenirusiphia the Giggle of Wanton Whimsy, self-professed keketar of the Chorus of Exuberant Delusion"
[The remainder of the final page of the letter is a mixture of incoherent babbling in Protean, some lewd scribblings of Xanesha, Nualia, and various planar creatures, and some equally crude self-aggrandizing sketches of Il’setsya jousting atop the back of an imentesh protean]
Hi. I'm Todd Stewart. You might know me from starting out as an obsessive Planescape fan and later on hopefully a decent freelancer on various planar projects and occasionally some entirely non-planar topics as well. :D
I like writing, and I'm looking for some input on some things to consider working on in the future.
So allow me to pick the collective brains of the community for a moment if you would: what sort of things would you most like to see me write in setting neutral 3PP capacity. I'm musing over some possible planar topics, but given what I've worked on in the past, if you think of something that might be less exotic, please do suggest non-planar things as well.
I'm just looking to see if any of the things I'm brainstorming on at the moment are on the radar of what anyone else thinks they might want to see me working on in 3PP capacity.
[And anyone answering, "Nothing! Spare our eyes!" will promptly have the quasits unleashed on them. And the fiendish bees. And the quasits when they bark they shoot fiendish bees at you.]
So I've been unemployed since March, when my biotech giant employer decided to move our entire lab and lay us all off. No bitter feelings, but I didn't want to move when it wouldn't have made financial sense to do so, I really enjoy living in NC, and my spouse doesn't want to move either. Plus having a house, five freezers full of heritage animal meat, and one-day-to-be-in-the-freezer livestock on two different farms makes a move impractical.
The unemployment will be changing soon as I got a very nice offer and accepted it. I had two weeks till I started, so Tanith and I decided on like one day notice to take a vacation, destroy my remaining severance money, and go on some culinary tourism.
So I'm currently chilling in a nearly 150 year old hotel in New Orleans, not caring about anything, and both of us are eating ourselves silly. I'm going to share this all with you :D
Day 1: 6-7 hour drive from Raleigh to Atlanta Georgia. Met up with friends, ate at Flip Burger. Fried okra was quite good, the bison burger was also very good. The Lobsteer burger we ordered blue-rare, they delivered it medium-well, and the foie gras milkshake tasted like sugary vanilla and no fatty liver. Sent those back, the replacement on the burger was nice. The head chef came out to discuss, and he received a ton of suggestions for how to improve the shake based on how it could be done and how they did it there (we're both foodies, one of us could cook professionally). He was quite happy with the feedback and suggestions, and in return he let us try a desert he was planning but wasn't on the menu yet. Fried apple slices made up like nachos and salsa, covered with a strawberry gel and a mint espuma. Not bad, but again he got a ton of feedback. And when we left, we gifted him with goat shank, boar bacon, and boar trotters that were leftovers from meat gifted to friends in town.
Atlanta is a nice city. Reminds me of Charlotte but bigger.
Stayed overnight and had breakfast the next morning near the hotel at a place called Briza. Had a nice take on eggs Benedict called Abercrombie Benedict: Fried green tomato topped with a poached egg, ham hock, and jalapeno hollandaise. Rather nice. :)
Then to Octane coffee (though I'm spoiled for coffee, my favorites being Grumpy in NYC and Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh NC) which was decent. Then onto the road, after a minor incident in which the GPS did its level best to kill me by putting me onto the wrong side of the highway in a very non-obvious you don't enter here from this direction road. Signs pointing backwards is a bad bad thing. But no cars and a swift turnaround and we were on the way out of town (albeit with a gigantic and unplanned adrenaline rush).
I'd like to pick the community's collective brain:
I'm looking for a list of stolen objects, famous thefts, heists, cons and similar criminal activities and people responsible for them.
I know of a number off the top of my head, but I'm looking for more of them to see what works best for my purposes.
This isn't for anything for publication btw. :)
So this went live the other day, written by myself and Brian James. Since it's both the first 4e piece that I've ever worked on, the first thing I've formally done for WotC, and a character I've adored for years, I wanted to share the link and see what anyone here might have thought if they've read it yet.
Allow me to pick your collective brains if you don't mind, but *raises a hand* I like planar monsters. I've created a number of them over the years, and I'd love to snag some feedback from folks as to which extraplanar creatures you've used in your campaigns and in what capacity, and which planar monsters you really like or really don't like (and why/why not).
Edit: I mostly mean outsiders. Archons, demons, daemons, agathions, sceaduinar, etc.
Humor me if you would (or quasits will come after you. Little known fact: I have a small, trained army of them). ;)
(FWIW this isn't directly related to any current projects of mine)
So I'd like to run a planar themed Pathfinder game at GenCon (PC level 8), and I'm going to be snagging players/slots in an unconventional fashion because I don't want to game with utterly random people selected through the official GenCon system. I'd also like to pitch this to you folks on the Paizo message boards first.
Drifting through the ever-changing borderlands of the Maelstrom, Galisemni the City of the Celestial and the Damned holds equal parts sanctuary and lurking danger, as much wisdom as mystery, and as much doom as destiny. A hundred-thousand souls traverse its shifting streets daily, treading below the uncanny, petrified but undying eyes of the Watching Seven, and all of them have their reasons for being there, be it for good or evil, rational or not.
At the present time the city now meanders between the distant shores of Axis and a yawning Abyssal chasm, drifting between the two extremes on the tide of the Cerulean Void, swelling the avenues with refugees, swords for hire, and hucksters of every inclination. But when a mysterious man dies a very public and very spectacular death before the Lethe Wall, the Weeping Stones of Galisemni will usher forth an object that offers a deadly promise of wealth to five individuals willing to risk their lives in its pursuit.
So here's the details for the game. Most of this is going to be Golarion planar stuff of my own creation, not in print but likely a playtest for locations and persons whenever I run my next home campaign. And heck, some of it might appear in print later if fortune plays out that way. ;)
So here's what you'll need to do. Send me an email with who you are and pitch me a character concept for the game. I'll snag whichever ones strike me as being the most interesting and we'll go from there (and yes I'm open to running this game more than once if I get innundated with a flood of character pitches). :D
My throwaway email account: crossdressingarcanalothREMOVEME@gmail.com
I'm not going to be placing my game on the GenCon list of games. I'll be finding some location to camp out and run the game in, likely during some late night/early morning period. Once I snag some players I'll email a time and location and/or just give out my cell number and organize it once we all get there.
This is branching out from a discussion in the RPG superstar forums about the fetchling Inva Ebonblade in Shadow Absalom (who originated as a tiefling shadowdancer PC in my current home game).
James Jacobs wrote:
I've been exceedingly picky about what characters from any of my home games that I've recycled and included in anything I write for anyone else. Sometimes they transition more or less the same (Nisha Starweather), sometimes a little different (Inva Ebonblade being a fetchling rather than a tiefling - but still planetouched) sometimes I take the concept and mingle it with another to create a new character that plays with some of the imagery for instance (Trelmarixian the Black is a concept merger of two antagonists from my home game).
I've also generally been very loathe to sell off major character IP, because as soon as I wrote Harishek ap Thulkesh the Blind Clockmaker into WotC's planar canon in Dragon magazine, WotC went and totally rebooted their cosmology for 4e, which means I can't use the character again and nobody else ever will again most likely. So it's tricky either giving vague easter eggs to home game concepts and characters or outright using them because of the tradeoffs it might involve.
So how do other folks feel about the occasional use of characters from home games? Does it matter if you don't know about it, or what if the home game has been extensively written up and posted online like mine have been (though on hiatus at the moment for me there)?
How jarring might it be if someone comes along and elaborates on something and really deviates from some prior incarnation? Admittedly knowing this can happen, I've tried to minimize any impact of that in whatever details appear.
I'm honestly curious about this, both from the general audience out there and from other freelancers.
Something I'd pitched a while ago to KQ is now up as a web feature, detailing a trio of non-demon natives of the Abyss (actually native by birth/creation or by adaptation).
I can't speak for any 'canon' status within Golarion lore as a web article rather than print (I don't know how that works), but it expands on a few smaller things in The Great Beyond. Enjoy :)
James Martin, please email Sean :D [This has nothing to do with vanishings in Raleigh this weekend...]
Nothing bad* but email Sean for me if you would. I need to get up with you (and the other Raleigh/Durham guy Alex who got a thread too). I'm having a party this weekend and wanted to meet both of you.
And Neal, you're in Charlotte, but you're invited as well if you read this. You've got my email I think. Facebook too.
*(read nothing into the fact that I'll be awake till 3am tonight in my lab with my hands on a human liver...)
Just an FYI, but for anyone who liked the Proteans in The Great Beyond, PF22, and
Spoiler:, there's a piece in Kobold Quarterly #10 related to them: "Chaos Magic of the Proteans".
Beyond the Vault of Souls
More crunch than I'm generally known for, but flavor heavy stuff and useful both for proteans and for PCs in a campaign that features them. Plus a pair of artifacts that respectfully touche on one of the keketars detailed in PF22, and on some Maelstrom/Abyssal prehistory.
I'd love to know what anyone thinks about it if you subscribe to KQ, or happen to pick up this latest issue. :D
No evil deed goes unrewarded James. That little sidelong reference in Shaktari's writeup in #150 ended up sparking some ideas, and I spent my afternoon today writing up a little response to it. :)
“It really was unfortunate what they did.” The first of the gathered fiends remarked with a telepathic sigh. “Still, I admire the internal duplicity of that trio when they bargained with their Abyssal counterparts.”
“Internal duplicity or desperation?” The second fiend asked with a barking chuckle.
“Or overconfidence?” The third of their number muttered, disguising the remark with a brief flap of his tattered, rotting wings.
They stood upon the lip of an obsidian well, one of the titular Wells of Darkness that gave the 73rd layer of the Abyss its name. There were three of them: Aliz’fir, an ultroloth of Khin-Oin in service to Mydianchlarus the Oinoloth, Kelzar Ap Nerrin, an arcanaloth of Gehenna in service to Helekanalaith the Keeper of the Tower Arcane, and Xolivrek, one of the lich-like varrangoin anima mages who watched over the layer and its prisoners on behalf of Ahazu the Seizer, the Wells’ original builder and prisoner. Xolivrek was devoted to the imprisoned abyssal lord, yet there he stood with the scions of purist base Evil, conversing with them, walking with them, in league with them.
Xolivrek’s loyalty had been purchased. His pact to Ahazu and with his kindred varrangoin binders, Nardelem, Illynym, and Elvorak, had been rendered meaningless by the price the yugoloths had offered for his aid. They desired freedom for one of the prisoners of Shattered Night, Shaktari, and they required his aid if they were to weaken the Seizer’s grip upon the particular well of their desired prisoner. Without Xolivrek, they could do nothing, and atypically for their kind, they had actually paid him prior to his service.
Using magic the ultroloth had possessed, they’d performed a ritual that stripped the varrangoin of his link to the hungry, covetous maw of Ahazu, which would otherwise have devoured his essence upon the destruction of his physical body. Yet despite severing that link, he’d retained his lich-like status, and the other empowering gifts of the Seizer. Xolivrek knew this because after the ritual, without warning the ‘loths had completely disintegrated him. Several days later after his body reformed, their success was obvious, and they expected him to hold to his side of their bargain. As for the magic itself, Aliz-fir claimed the spell had been devised by and found within one of the spellbooks of Larsdana Ap Neut, first Keeper of the Tower Arcane, Magistrix of the Second Furnace.
The ultroloth and his arcanaloth companion had been pleased, almost ecstatic over the affair, and disturbingly enough, perhaps somewhat surprised at their ritual’s efficacy, as if they’d doubted it before they’d tested its worth. But regardless, they had released Xolivrek from his bonds, but simultaneously allowed him to retain his power. Free of prior obligations, the freedom of the Abyss called to him, and he was suddenly as eager as they were to see to the completion of their task. The fourth member of their group had not been involved, but had watched, leaning heavily upon a crooked staff, its features obscured by a hooded robe. Its only real actions had been when it nodded approvingly at each intonation of their spells, and additionally it had been the one holding the lost arcanaloth lord’s spellbook prior to the ultroloth’s use of its contents.
Xolivrek didn’t know what she was, and the other ‘loths had said nothing to her at any point. Odd as it was, he never pressed the issue even once they’d gathered at the edge of Shaktari’s Well, less than a mile beneath the mountaintop fortress of Overlook where his varrangoin kindred laired and watched over Ahazu’s pool.
The Well itself was pitted as if the glass had been exposed to periodic immersion in some caustic bath of fluids, perhaps a reflection of Vudra, Shaktari’s native layer of the plane. Natural or imposed, colored inclusions and inner fractures traced across and through the glassy rim like veins in a flayed corpse slowly drying under the gray, overcast sky of the 73rd layer of the Abyss.
Looking down at the rim and the darkened circle of the shaft that plunged down into the gloom within its circumference, Xolivrek shuddered at what felt like the brush of fingers upon his shoulders, immaterial fingers of darkness that stirred eddies into the black smoke that leaked from his withered, negative energy empowered husk of a body. The yugoloths were alien to him, alien to the plane itself, but the fourth being that accompanied them was something else altogether.
He turned and glanced warily at that one, black eyes tracking her, but garnering no response. She wasn’t looking at him, nor was she anywhere near to him, though the dim light of the plane cast a long, exaggerated shadow that trailed behind her form. The touch had evidently been his imagination, the wind, or something else equally superfluous.
“I am ready for the invocation.” Xolivrek declared, looking to the pair of yugoloths. “You may begin your ritual.”
The arcanaloth nodded and began slowly circling the well, burning a series of entwined rings and a complex string of glyphs into the stone, performing the magical equivalent of manual labor as the faceless ultroloth watched and gave a look of approval at each step. The other one, the fourth figure, still had said nothing during the process, hadn’t even looked up from where it sat upon the lip of the well, its legs dangling over the side, one of them hanging limp, crippled and useless, staring down into the polluted depths. She wasn’t an ultroloth, which he’d expected, nor an arcanaloth which would have seemed appropriate as well, but rather than a fiend looking out from under the hood of her robe, now blown back by a rising wind, he saw the face of a young aasimar or tiefling girl gazing down into the darkness below.
Xolivrek had no time to consider that incongruity as the other ‘loths began and the air filled with a static hum. Once he looked away -the moment his mind wandered away from her- the girl’s look of placid, tranquil innocence was marred by a brief smirk.
“Rise from the depths of Shattered Night.” Aliz’fir began, his telepathic voice rippling out over the landscape, their minds, and down into the well itself. “Hear our words, know that the border is thin, and know that the time of your release has arrived. Blood, slaughter, and the souls of the baatezu await your fangs and the suffocating embrace of your coils.”
The circle began to glow, and Kelzar answered the unholy liturgical call with response verses of his own. After each secondary verse by the arcanaloth, and before his own intonation, the ultroloth pricked one finger on each hand with a slender silver blade and dribbled the smoking fluid on the runes beneath his feet. They went about their ritual, and as they did so, Xolivrek did his part and spoke the phrases that would weaken the wardings and potentially allow the yugoloths’ magic a chance at succeeding.
Still, it shouldn’t have worked, even with his knowledge of Ahazu’s secrets and the nature of the Wells and Shattered Night alike. It shouldn’t have worked, but as the varrangoin watched, something was clearly happening, and that was also when he noticed that the fourth member of their cabal was speaking to the well, or someone within.
“You will listen Ahazu. Listen to my voice and understand my words.” She said softly with a smile upon her lips. “The devils and their tanar’ri allies of convenience gave you much when they entrapped her here into your embrace, but we desire her returned. You will listen, and you will obey.”
The girl’s voice was pleasant, without malice, its intonation something that didn’t belong in the Abyss, but there was something else, something hidden between the words in the gaps and silence in between that curdled the air and made him sick. She continued and her words descended into a language he’d never heard before except in perhaps corrupted snippets and mumblings on the tongues of archfiends. He’d never heard that language before, but he understood it nonetheless, each and every word, though it burned into his brain like drops of acid to listen.
“That’s right child. That pause. You remember me.” She whispered as the wind picked up and rustled her hair away from her curling, cervidal-like horns. “You remember me child, because you were one of the first of your kind. Not quite as old as Demogorgon, and an infant compared to the obyriths, but you recognize me nonetheless. Think back and remember those first fragmentary memories when you first congealed from out of the Abyss. Remember…”
Her voice, already a whisper was obscured by a sudden rumble in the depths and a rush of wind that rippled the surface of the normally still boundary of the pool below.
“…It is easier that way child.” The girl’s voice faded away with something between a command and a promise drifting and dancing upon her words. She crossed her legs and smiled, tapping her fingers rhythmically, almost playfully upon the wooden staff balanced across her knees.
Light erupted from the depths along with the shifting sound of an approaching storm, the first uncertain and wary moments of labored movement by the long imprisoned Marilith Queen. Wind and light raged from the depths as its metaphysical chains were ripped away and thrown to the side, fully opening the way for the waking Abyssal Lord beyond. Liquid flew up on the currents like acidic rain, wind-blown froth from an ocean of bile, or the very spittle of the beast they had awoken.
The arcanaloth howled in ecstatic triumph, his jaws open wide and fangs exposed to the wind, cackling into the opened Well while beside him the ultroloth’s eyes flickered with a burning array of colors and the air crackled with the hum of a telepathic cry. The yugoloths expressed their emotions, what emotions they possessed, in their own ways unique to their caste, but the other… she turned to glance at Xolivrek, the first time she had done so since they’d prepared the ritual to release Shaktari.
“They don’t know that you’re here.” Xolivrek said, coming to that realization. “You’ve said nothing to them, and they’ve said nothing to you since this began. They’re completely unaware of you.”
The girl smiled and nodded as the light from the depths poured forth, and the hiss of a great uncoiling serpent grew louder and louder. Xolivrek noticed for the first time that her shadow was moving, not with her movements, and not with the raging storm of guttering light rushing forth from the opened Well, but independent as if it were a living thing unto itself. Eyes and mouth visible against the surrounding landscape as it curled about the girl’s ankles and pooled at her feet, it seemed as if it too were smiling.
“You’ve done well child.” Tellura Ibn Shartalan said as she leaned forward upon her shepherd’s staff, suddenly standing only a few feet away from the varrangoin. “You’ve given the yugoloths apparent reason for their success, and your brothers will attest to your betrayal, even if it meant nothing to Shaktari’s freedom. You’ve served your purpose, but like Cabiri before you, you’ve seen too much. However unlike the obyrith lord of observation, you’re of no use to us in the future, nor are you one of mine.”
Xolivrek gasped then as he felt something take hold of him, gripping the core of his essence as if it where a physical thing. Tellura smiled, and beside her, rising up independent of her physical form, her shadow sneered and snarled, a moment before it drove some vital fraction of the varrangoin’s essence into the ground like a spike, tethering him to the spot.
Tellura Ibn Shartalan, the Dire Shepherd, second of The Demented smiled and so did her shadow.
“Shaktari is awake, and when she arrives from the Well, she’ll be hungry you see. The dear child, she’ll be so very hungry…”
I've been getting increasingly curious about the topic of one of the articles slated for the final issue of Dragon, the one about top mysteries of D&D.
Without giving spoilers before the magazine comes out -I'm not really expecting a listing of what particular mysteries are in the piece- what sort of format will the article have? Will it bluntly give answers to them, explaining them fully? Will it describe them and just speculate on possible answers? What perspective did the authors go with?
In reference to the Savage Tidings article in #149 that talks about the Styx, I had a question.
Was there any material that got cut out of the article before it went to print? I notice that Lynkhab's layer of the Abyss, the Sighing Cliffs, is featured rather prominantly on the map of the Styx's path through the lower planes, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't show up in the text. Was there something on her or her layer that got trimmed?
To whoever edited the demiplane article in #353, I had to grin today when I got my copy in the mail and saw that Dungeonland had been snuck onto the list of demiplanes. I actually left that one off of the list I submitted, along with the Demiplane of Flowers, because they struck me as too goofy (and because I know for the latter one since it was from the 2e Castle Greyhawk joke module that Erik probably would turn green, fly into a rage, and break a wall or something doing his best enraged Hulk impression). So color me surprised to see Dungeonland added during the edits.
And thanks for leaving most of the article content intact *glee*
And oh, I figured I'd ask again if it would be alright with you guys if I posted over on Planewalker any material cut from my original draft that didn't make it into the published articles I had in #353? Largely it's some material in the Keeper Ecology that was trimmed (the alternate origins section and a bit about a book detailing a tanar'ri or 'loth attempt to dissect a living Keeper).