Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Encounters Among the Moribund Hulks of the Great Rust Waste.

Running East to West, the exact size of this belt of ancient trash and abandoned technology is unknown, as the winds that whip the sands of the desert into flesh stripping cyclones uncover and conceal new deposits every season.  The sand scours the ancient objects clean, so that each new pile of twisted junk gleams like treasure for weeks after it is uncovered, before the dust and flash flood rains cake it in dry yellow grime and flakes of ruddy corrosion.

1. A broken tower of rusted bits and corroded pieces.  The tower is later construction, obvious order amongst drifts of similar rusted detritus.  All three stories are uninhabited, though close examination will reveal signs of a massacre.  Black stains on the wall that are not corrosion, a spray of cracked teeth covered in dust, though nothing else to indicate who may have dwelt in the tower or what exactly befell them.   There’s a light ballista wrought from scrap bolted to the tower’s roof parapet.  While it’s lacking ammunition and has cranks in need of oiling, the compact siege weapon is well made and still functional (3D6, two rounds to load, requires crew of two – 250lbs, spall shield offers base AC 6 to crew).  Divination spells will reveal that the residents of the tower (idealistic freeholders or simple bandits, were slaughtered in the night by lanky unknown creatures that came from the rust piles in the night and left no one alive). 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Odd Objects from the Outer Darkness.

A table of six encounters that mark the world as Science Fantasy.

1. A statue of pale blue crystal about four feet tall, roughly human in shape. It is the work of no hand, but the remains of an ancient stellar sailor. Long dead, the spirit within the crystal awakens when it is near the delights of a port. If the statute is carried to any town of reasonable size, the ancient mariner’s spirit will manifest evenings in the form of a hunched being of pure energy. Appearing suddenly in low dives, bawdy houses and cheap burlesque shows it will snatch drinks, dance on tables and sing raucous songs in an unknown language. Unfortunately the spirit’s singing causes fires and explosions.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Powers of the Brine Witch - More Leviathan Spell Lists

The Brine Witch - This avatar of the Leviathan symbolizes the deity in its union with humanity.  Appearing as a brine soaked and salt crusted hag with flaking white skin, it is largely summoned by initiates eager to have more power over mortals.  Initiation into the mysteries of the Brine Witch require the preparation of a salt crusted mask of white metal or porcelain (of at least 1,000 GP value) that the initiate must wear at all times while invoking the spirit's power.
Salt Monsters - they all look the same.
Foul or Cleanse (ritual) [10] [purify water]
Summoning the powers of the Leviathan to cleanse or foul waters for drinking is a boon most often happily granted by the Brine Witch.  A volume of water equal to a 10'+1' per level of the caster cube may be so effected.  Fouling waters simply turns them brackish and undrinkable, it does not render them poisonous and will quickly dilute in larger bodies of water.  Catastrophic failure of the spell implies an intervention on the part of elemental forces, and usually results in the creation of a hostile water weird.
Drown [13] [hold person]
The Brine Witch's powers may be directed at the bodies of other humans and humanoids, causing their lungs to fill with salt water.  The Initiate may select up to three targets who may Save vs. Spells to avoid the effect.  If afflicted the target will find themselves coughing and spewing water in a desperate attempt to breath.  Victims of the spell will be unable to act or move in an effective manner for 5+1 rounds after the spell is cast.  Catastrophic failure of the spell will most often result in a backlash where the initiate and up to two of her companions will be effected by the Drowning.

Entropic Weard [13] (ritual) [Protection from Law]
Forming the Witch's sigil from brine crusted bones creates a powerful ward against order that may be shattered to induce terror in all nearby.  When worn by an individual this weard, a lattice of bone, salt crystal and string will make it impossible for creatures or agents of order to touch the wearer.  Mortal and mundane agents of order may still attack, though at a -2 to hit, but supernatural creatures of order are limited to ranged assault while the weard is active. The weard will last for 1 turn per level of the initiate, before greatly accelerated entropy causes it to crumble.

Rather then wear the weard for protection an initiate may shatter it, instantly causing terror and the impulse for flight to grip creature within 30' that is capable of such emotions (including the caster).  All aggressive acts for the next turn will be a -1 to hit for those effected because of timidity, and a save vs. spells is required to avoid immediate flight for 1D12 rounds towards any remembered place of safety.

Catastrophic failure often results in complete chaos and entropy in the area the ritual is performed.  In addition to causing all those present to flee in terror for 1D12 rounds, the entropic weard is likely to permanently mark the ritual area with signs of its presence - such as rapid decay, a crusting of salt or the presence of otherworldly murmurings.

Brine Horror (ritual) [17] [animate dead] By performing an elaborate ritual, it's gruesome mysteries known only to the Heirophants of the Leviathan, the initiate may draw a fragment of the Brine Witch's power into the body of a water logged corpse.  When this corpse dries in 1-4 days it will animate as a mummified, salt encrusted servitor ready to follow the commands of the Initiate.  An initiate may only have one Brine Horror spell active at a time, but may raise multiple horrors.  To raise more than one servitor the initiate simply needs to subtract 1 from their casting roll per additional corpse animated.  The servitors created will be 3HD undead, AC 5 that attack last each round, either with their clawed hands (D6 damage) or with weapons provided by the initiate.  Given the draconian penalties associated with necromancy in Sterntown, the cult of the Leviathan discourages the use of this spell amongst its initiates, and when Brine Horrors are created they are kept well concealed.  A catastrophic failure of this spell often creates a temporary rift in the fabric of reality and draws nightmarish creatures such as shadows and wraiths from beyond.

Stagnation [17] [dispel magic]
Through the use of this spell the initiate asks that Leviathan uproot the reality of the present and lock the universe in place around the initiate.  This spell effectively disrupts and destroys the intervention of other forces, dispelling all magic within 10'  as if the spell had been cast by a 10th level magic user.  All magic in the area of effect will be transmuted into sprays and structures of crystalline sea salt, pale grey in color. The initiate may not choose what magic is dispelled as the thaumaturgic energy of the entire area is leeched into the Leviathan, and even friendly magic will be dampened or destroyed by this spell.  A catastrophic failure of this spell will often render the initiate himself unable to cast spells or use magic for at least a day. 

Dessication [21] [death spell]
Asking for this boon is dangerous, because of the power it contains.  If successfully cast, this spell will desiccate the next target of a successful melee attack by the initiate.  On a successful attack the target begins to shrivel and desiccate, rapidly turning into a mummified corpse encrusted with brine.  Targets may Save vs. Spells, but even with a successful save the will take the Initiates level x 1D6 points of damage.  Creatures slain with the Brine Witch's dessication will rise as brine horrors within 1D4 days, but have no loyalty beyond a loathing for life.  A catastrophic failure of this spell will most often cause the caster 1D6xlevel points of damage as the Witch draws the life foirce and moisture from them instead of the target.  Alternatively it may simply drain a level of experience and render the caster unconscious for 1D4 hours.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sprits of the Deeps - Alternate Cleric List for HMS Apollyon

Two of the major religions aboard the HMS Apollyon are not organized religions in the sense that the average D&D cleric seems to depend on, they are less hierarchical and more polytheistic then the standard portrayal of D&D holy men.  The Shrine of the Ship Spirits is a syncretic polytheism that worships numerous small spirits and petty gods tied to different manifestations of the Apollyon itself.  It has aspects of ancestor worship and animism, depending in the immediate intervention of local spiritual forces.  The Cult of the Leviathan is likewise outside the norms of clerical practice, being a classic mystery cult devoted to an otherworldly entity with dominion over the ocean.  I have decided optionally to adopt a non-Vancian system for these religions following that used by Brendan in designing a Shaman class for Pahvelorn.  Alternatively I have included the name of a standard clerical spell that can be replaced by the Cult versions below for flavor. It should also perhaps be noted that these guys were originally intended to be baddies, yet for whatever reason they seem to be perceived as more "zany counter-culture types" by my players.

Cult of the Leviathan

It's likely that Leviathan ...
The worshipers of the Most Serene and Ancient Leviathan are a fairly new addition to the religions of Sterntown.  Some claim the Leviathan was originally a Frogling deity, and indeed Froglings make up a fair portion of it's worshipers, but then again many Froglings are fishers and the Leviathan's entire congregation is made up of fisherfolk.  The Cult is an ecstatic mystery religion, with the bulk of its supplicants knowing little beyond a few mantras requesting divine aid in finding schools of fish, or strengthening nets, and worshiping the Sunken God only by wearing a carved whalebone gris gris or marching in the Cult's festive parades.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Absurdites of Wizards.

I have a feeling all Pahvelorn's wizards
are the spiritual successors of this guy.

Wizards, they are all crazy.  The random table of horrible wizard affectations listed below has been inspired by the variety of mad wizards encountered in Pahvelorn.  So far the Pahvelorn party has done in the following wizards:

1. Some chump necromancer with theatrical aspirations (he had a skeleton acting troupe), wore a three horned headress.

2. His would be successor, an even less intelligent necromancer, killed by Beni because the clerics in the party wanted to torture the poor touched soul.

3. Lovitar the bleak eyed - madder then a rat living in an outhouse.  Enjoyed turning people into beastmen while hiding invisible - an ineffective tactic when faced with killer war dogs.

4. Some crazy old alchemist type (looted and exiled, not actually killed, because he proved not to be a wizard...in retrospect however.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cannibal Ax Killers - Session II - Warlock Moon

Food is scarce, not so much food as flavor.  There's plenty of grey pablum to go around, but just like vistas of grey stone, beds of grey stone, square grey stone buildings, wind that only brings the taste of distant burning and the grey light that filters through the orb's black, black sky, pablum is boring. Boring onto death for some.  Suicides are common on the Warlock Moon, though that's a waste really as there are plenty of other ways to die, and almost all of them are from boredom.  Madmen a perhaps more common, frankly so common that it isn't wise to call another man mad unless he is actively trying to eat you.  That's the main reason Makepeace NoHells leaves the safety of the village wards.  He may talk about proving the innate superiority of the human spirit and bringing the light of reason to the dark places of the sphere, but this is lies and dogma, MakePeace is hungry for flavor.  It's for the best really, especially if the rumors about Makepeace's people's "burial practices" can be credited, and really beside salacious rumors what else is there to do?
Grey Vastness of the Warlock Moon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's needed for a Setting?

I've been playing in Nick of Paper & Pencil's "Warlock Moon" game lately and it's interesting to watch.  Nick's a meticulous GM when it comes to designing his levels - the paper shuffling in the background, quality and quantity of tricks/traps, and hint of a multi-level notation system confirm this.  Yet, Warlock Moon is still a setting in it's infancy, two session have been run, and the ideas and feel of the setting are still being hammered out. Watching this process, and doing setting work of my own on the Apollyon, I've been thinking about the question "What's the minimum of resources one needs to run a compelling and unique setting".  I mean most people who've played a game of D&D or even stumbled about Skyrim for a few hours could gin up an amusing enough vanilla game with a system book and a piece of graph paper.

You can get going with something along the lines of "goblins have been killing farmers, and you're the local tough guys".  Cave map, some goblin stats and instant cliched default game setting. This isn't what I'm talking about, though these sorts of games can be fun, and can grow interesting as the world expands organically.  What I want in a setting is something that has a distinct feel, different from what one can get in a million other places.  In order to do this certain considerations must be made.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Uptown Henchman Table - HMS APOLLYON

The rich aren't like other people, that's an old maxim, but aboard the HMS Apollyon it is literally true.  With blood corrupted by generations of intermingling with otherworldly horrors, and minds filled with a rigidly solipsistic worldview, non-exiled Passengers simply cannot hire followers in the normal way.  Seeking henchman for pay amongst the Scavengers is a major faux pas and few scavengers are willing to work directly with Uptowners.  Instead Passenger characters may attempt to convince members of their family household to join them on an adventure by adventure basis.  Below is a table of potential results.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dungeons and Dandies - HMS APOLLYON - Uptown Session Play Report.

The Uptown Follies – Casino of Torment – Session I

  • Sea-mongrel head (taxidermied) and shark jaw club – minor curio – 50 XP each party member
  • 4 theater masks – minor curio – 50 XP to each party member.
  • Ancient Carcosian dice – major curio – 300 XP to each party member
Group XP
  • First into the Crystal Cavern – 100 XP each
  • Well-mannered negotiations bonus – 50 XP each
  • Total XP – 550 XP each PC – 275 XP to Gaspar the Valet who is now 1st level (pick a class when he returns to town).
Individual XP bonuses
  • Daring-do with trident – 100 XP to Efrin
  • Standing up for the moneyed classes 50 XP for Ignatz
Invitation to Ruckus
After the ‘entertainment’ incident and the ghost actress massacre, things have been slow amongst the fourth sons, spinster daughters, wastrels, bastards and wealthy layabouts of Uptown.  Yet, Devin Hare – man about town, mistress of the duelo, and survivor of the pigeon tower massacre, has come across an opportunity for social advancement that simply cannot be ignored.