Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Aquelarre: Nigromante

What follows is a new profession for Aquelarre, the Nigromante (black magician or "necromancer"). When I did my graduate-level work in medieval studies, I did a great deal of research on the figure of the nigromanticus in 13th-century texts. My knowledge leads me to believe they'd be rarer by the time Aquelarre takes place but extant texts certainly hint at their survival. My favorite historical example is Eustace the Monk, though Michael Scot is probably a more prominent example. Philip the Bloody's name was taken from a nigromanticus from the works of Caesarius of Heisterbach.

Note that the nigromante uses the default rules for professions rather than the stricter rules for invented professions. This is because it is invented by the GD and not by the player. Those wishing to include it in their games should allow a character of the lower nobility class who has rolled cleric for their occupation to choose this instead or perhaps assign a second die roll to determine which it is (1-7 cleric, 8-10 nigromante).

This profession can be followed only by male characters.

The nigromante is a specialized form of cleric (almost always a canon) who has decided to devote his energies to studying demonology. While many insist that they begin such studies in order to perform exorcisms, they are usually viewed as something like the educated version of a bruja. Toledo is infamously their training ground, due in no small part to its school of Arabic translation. Because of this, the nigromante is something of a combination of the Christian cleric and the Muslim mage. In the 13th century, they were shockingly common throughout Europe, but crackdowns and book burnings have left them much rarer in the time of Aquelarre.

Minimum Characteristics: Culture 20, Perception 15

Primary Skills: Language (Latin), Magical Knowledge, Read/Write, Theology

Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Discovery, Language (Arabic), Astrology, Medicine, Memory, Teach, 1 Arms skill of Noble Category

Monthly Income: 350 maravedies, but may opt to add their % in Magical Knowledge at the risk of suspicion of sorcery.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

7 Kukoshi Hexes

1. An abandoned house within this forest possesses a well that is reputed to be haunted.  The mother of a changeling who lived here drowned her in the well, throwing the treasure given to her by the yosei father in the well with her. The villagers in Uzo remember the tale and often young hotheads head to the house to get the treasure from the well.  Supposedly the spirit of the murdered changeling slays anyone who takes any of the treasure, and anyone who trades with them for part of it, returning it to the well. In reality a troop of 10 yosei in the shape of men with the features of the carp - relatives of the changeling girl - are the murderers and responsible for returning the treasure. The treasure consists of a coat of golden fish scales (as plate armor), and 200 gp.* The carp-men can identify the coins through some means not known to man.

2. This tiny namazu village is the site of a bloodbath. A group of 7 veteran samurai, all gravely wounded (use only 1d4 to generate HP), have butchered the namazu believing them to have stolen a magic sword from their lord. They have turned the village over, turning up only about 100sp, 5 drums (10sp each), and some jars of fermented fish. They are resting, blaming both themselves and the namazu for not finding the sword.

3. A shrine maiden (as vicar) defends his mountain shrine from a group of 15 bandits who lair in the same hex. She and the bandits have been in a protracted war of attrition for several days, and both have gone without food for that time. What has set them in spite against each other is unknown to both parties. The bandits have only 13 arrows between them now, but the shrine contains a red jade statue of a bull, believed by the shrine maiden to be a kami.

4. The remains of a small castle are the private battleground between two supernatural monsters - a bakeneko (the spirit of a family pet of the Tsuru clan people who lived here) and a gashadokuro sent by the Genbu clan in ages past. Their struggle has been at a standstill for many decades, with the bakeneko protecting the corpses of the family who starved to death in the cellar. If the gashadokuro is destroyed, the bakeneko will reward the destroyers with a charm allowing them to speak to cats 3 times in their lives. This would ideally be used to determine if a cat is a bakeneko and to achieve its loyalty and aid (since the charmed person has aided another of his race). With this done the bakeneko will perish of exhaustion. Upon the corpses of the starved family is enough remaining fine silk to fetch 3000sp.

5. Below these sea cliffs, on a small beach, is a manor made of enormous seashells. It is home to a goblin spider who often climbs the cliffs to go to the nearby road and feign helplessness as an old woman. She uses this to trap young women and men who she spirits back to her palace. There she forces the young women to weave fine clothes from her silk, and she devours the men. She has several tapestries worth 1000gp in total (most depicting the perfidy of men), and 3 suits of silk cloth that are hard as mail and would fetch a price equal to plate armor if sold.

6. A pond in this hex is visited daily by a ponderously fat foul changeling who comes here to devour frogs. He is dressed only in tattered rags and does not know how to speak to humans, who he fears greatly. He has the ability to turn invisible once per day and will use this to flee from anyone who approaches.

7. This spot of forest was once home to a battle, with arrows still stuck in trees and the occsional bit of armor or shaft of a spear poking through the dirt. The craven servant of an Okami clan mahotsukai is searching here for a "heavenly armor." He is under a geas to find it here as punishment for some perceived slight. Unfortunately for him, the armor was looted years ago and currently resides in the treasure of a Byakko clan samurai some miles away. Even more unfortuantely, the wording of the geas would mean it would have to be recovered, brought to this battle site, and then found by him for his mission to be successful.

*The World of Nightwick uses 1sp = 1xp.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: Against the Eye

Fumbling in the dark...

Characters Present
Stavros, Fanatical fighting man and devotee of St Deodat
Frederick Bull, Fighting frog in the service of the van Toad house
Abraham Nermal, graverobber turned landowner
Kozel, Novgovite cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Eastern)
Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Western)Janos Balazsfi, Vulgarian changeling dedicated to St. Gax

Gregor von Hexenzitsen, Realmish "wizard" (he's got a book and everything!)

Elders 17, 1396

  • I have been neglectful in keeping up to date with the play reports for both groups, so know that among the Kommands, Frederick Bull and Johanna d'Ligne have recently established strongholds in/near the abandoned village of Frogguts. However, in the process of helping them, Uein was turned to stone by the poison of a basilisk.
  • Since then they have returned to their excursions into Nightwick Abbey, focusing on the second level.
  • Last session they destroy a creature they had long heard rumors about - the Fungal Brain! They also found a knot of devil-vine that seemed to go both upwards and downwards into the earth and was well over 50' wide.
  • The aim of this expedition was to experiment with that vine.  Some debate was had about attacking it with Johanna and Kozel's ice powers from the surface; however, knowledge that the physical exterior of the abbey and the interior of the dungeon are not necessarily related to each other in euclidean space made the party decide it would be best to deal with the vine from within.
  • Their journey to the stairs for level 2 was interrupted by a troop of blind dead. These were defeated fairly easily, but there was some difficulty as Johanna had moved ahead of the group in her eagerness and the darkness of the abbey threatened to separate them.
  • Once on level 2, Kozel assaulted the vines with a magical sleet storm. They retreated, opening the ceiling up to the outside and opening a shaft below that terminated in an eerie, purple mist.
  • They then entered a room filled with mummified remains - apparently mummified using herbs grown on the garden level. Johanna elected to leave the party and head to the surface to give them a proper burial.
  • After poking around a the few remaining rooms on the garden level, the party made its way to level 3, where they elected to tackle an encounter behind a set of double doors they had passed over on many previous occasions.
  • The doors had behind them a massive cult and a warlock the party had previously tackled with - one that had burned off Johanna's arm!
  • The party made sure to focus on the warlock, with their best fighters wading into the fray and slaying him (though not before he had done significant damage to Stavros). 
  • The rest of the combat was kind of a drag, as the maneuvering to take out the leader meant that many of the PCs were now stuck in the middle of a mass of cultists. Still, they were able to overpower these without being taken down themselves.
  • Seeing two chests in the room, Abraham quickly determined they were neither locked nor trapped and contained a sizeable sum of gold.
  • On the way out there was a bit of tension as there was some disagreement over which exit would be easiest to access and therefore which way to go. Not wanting to be trapped in the abbey, they eventually decided the best way would be to go out the very hole they had made earlier in the session.
Monsters Killed
3 Blind Dead, 22 Cultists, and 1 Warlock of the Fiend

Treasure Gained
1000gp in two chests

XP per player

Unfocused thoughts on Immer

Recently, for reasons not entirely within my own understand, I've been reading about Minaria, the setting of the board game Divine Right. Just a cursory glance over the material gave me a slew of ideas for a game, particularly for a region in the kingdom of Immer called the Wildwood/the region of the Gorpin Woodsmen. This post will cover what attracted me to the area as well as my own ideas for the tone, adventures, stuff like that.

  • Immer is a kingdom of two ethnic groups who settled in two waves - initial human settlement and then conquerors. However, now the native population is allied with the monarchy as a way of having a balance of power against the powerful dukes.
  • The monarchs of Immer are often puppets of a group of magicians called the Eaters of Wisdom, who have done what they can to make sure the monarchy is both strong and under their control. Most monarchs of Immer now study wisdom at the School of Thautmaturgy before ruling.
  • Despite a strong monarchy, Immer is definitely feudal - with dukes and horseman set up across the kingdom to respond rapidly to threats from goblins, barbarians, and elves.
  • The Gorpin Woodsmen are the descendants of the servants of a rogue duke who was defeated (along with his elf allies) during an attempt to make himself independent.
  • The Eaters of Wisdom remind me of multiple factions from the First Law trilogy, and having them act as kind of jerk-ass merlins is real appealing to me.
  • My idea is that the Wild Wood is currently being reenforced by the queen of Immer due to its position along the gold-possessing River Rapid and the border with the goblins of Zorn. She is being advised in this matter by the Eaters of Wisdom.
  • I have access to a copy of the boardgame through Tabletop simulator, and using that I distributed personalities to the factions I thought might come into the game in one way or another, that is Immer, the Eaters of Wisdom, Zorn, Elfland, Muetar, and the Dwarves (who I included because this would be a D&D game and it'd be useful to know what's up with the kings of all the available PC races). What I got was...
    • The Queen of Immer is starry eyed and looking to prove herself in combat. Which works out real well because...
    • The Eaters of Wisdom (or at least the ones advising her) are military geniuses.
    • The Goblins of Zorn are led by an extremely gullible king. Perhaps he too is being manipulated by an Eater?
    • The King of Elfland is "known for his lack of valor." Because I'm currently reading the Corum series, I'm going to borrow from that and make him not a coward so much as so aloof he doesn't realize how fast wars happen.
    • The King of Muetar is money grubbing. I think that's a good dynamic for their closest human neighbor - he can be persuaded to aid for huge sums or may foil the planes of the Queen of Immer to gain gold.
    • The Dwarves are ruled by a king as "irascible as a dragon." Sounds like dwarves.
  • There's also a religious tension in Immer, with the monarchy promoting "patriarchal worship" and the original religion of the region (and the conquering ethnic group) being a triple maiden-mother-crone goddess.
  • The region also borders the Temple of the Kings, which only allows kings inside and serves as the chief temple for the strongest gods of Minaria. I may also make parts of it accessible as a dungeon to any PCs.
  • The ideas I have swirling in my head relate to a faction of the Gorpin seeing the Queen as someone who can reinvigorate the goddess worship, the Eaters attempting to manipulate  her not to, and the queen herself's desire to win military victories in order to enter the Temple of the Kings.
  • PCs would be the standard types of freebooters and cutthroats, but hopefully the adventure hooks lead them to siding with one faction or another.
  • Dungeons would include the aforementioned temple of the kings, goblin pits, old elven ruins, the ruins of pre-kingdom Immer, and the strange wreckage created by the Invasion of Abominations/Invasion of the Things that Crawl and Things that Fly.
  • The aforementioned Abominations, their invasion, and their disappearance will probably feature as a big campaign mystery and maybe relate to the goals of the Eaters of Wisdom.
  • Aesthetically I imagine the setting as kind of... pre-D&D fantasy art; especially the covers of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.
  • I imagine the men of Immer as having a kind of Rurkidi vibe - layers of viking, slavic, and steppe peoples, though I may make it more of a Saxon/Norman thing. Either way they need to have cavalry, and they like green, gold, and garnets.
  • I think the goblins of Zorn represent the full range of goblinoids but probably expressed more like Tolkien's varieties of orcs.
  • I want to figure out a size for the map hexes above, but I'm also trepedatious about doing a zoomed in map on the area I want to cover because the original map used the cursed hex alignment of absolute columns.
That's all for now.  I got other posts about other things coming up though so stay tuned. Oh also check out my patreon where Huth and I continue to put out Nightwick Abbey stuff.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sword & Sorcery World

Over at Roles, Rules, and Rolls, there are a series of "genre tables" that Cole of Abraxas used for his Swords of the Inner Sea campaign.  I have recently been using these to make hex content for the Dark Country and thinking about its uses in the other Worlds of In Places Deep.

I thought the R,R,&R tables were lacking a genre, so I made it: Swords and Sorcery.  Sorry that it's kinda rough in formatting but I realized if I wanted it to look nicer I'd never make this post.

Also, while you're here, why not check out my patreon? It's got a full month of preview material for Nightwick Abbey and now paid only content as well! This month I'll be posting about the abbey's upper works, two new monsters, and a new geomorph.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Anthrophage

Yes, I know it should more properly be Anthropophage, but when I hear that I think of an ogre or something. Anyway, here's a monster for Uz.

The anthrophage is a strange creature found near certain alien wrecks in the Wastes of Rust.  While comparatively easy to destroy, their ability to reproduce by infecting victims means they are widely feared by the inhabitants of Uz - or at least those who travel into the wastes. They appear as a large dodecahedron atop a shining screw with spindly legs.  Despite their glittering appearance, all of their body parts are organic.

AC 7 [12], HD 1, Attk 1x (drill special) THAC0 18 [+1] MV 90’ (30’) SV D10 W11 P12 B 13 S14 (4), AL Neutral, XP 13 NA 1d4 (2d6) TT Nil
  • Virus: The drill of an anthrophage injects the victim with a strange substance. They must make a save vs death or explode into a number of anthrophage equal to their HD in 1d3 rounds.
  • Derived: Anthrophage will not and cannot attack nonhuman entities.  Priests, regardless of mutation level, count as human for the purposes of this attack.
  • Short Lifespan: Anthrophagi can only live for 1d6 weeks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Devil You Know

Familiars in the World of Nightwick are bestowed once a pact has been made with a demon. They evil spirits that possess the bodies of animals.  The animal depends on the demon with whom the magician has a pact. The animal will appear normal under moon and starlight but grotesque and diseased under the light of the sun. Hybrid animals, such as awful rats, or goblin-shaped humanoids are sometimes used, though these make the magician's allegiance to the Pit much more obvious to witch hunters.

The animal must be provided by the magician. It must be named, anointed with holy water (as though a child), and cared for for one moon. On the night of the moon most associated with the pact-giving demon, the magician must slay the animal.  Thereafter, they must light incense and burn 1hp worth of blood and then provide a bowl filled with half their hp in blood. The burned blood, which attracts the spirit, can be from any creature but the bowl must be from the magician.

Soon the body will begin to stir and will then move to drink the blood from the bowl. Thereafter it will be bound to the magician, granting the following benefits:

  • A power dependent on the pact-giving demon (eg. a familiar from Crapoad will reveal the location of a text the magician desires , once per day).
  • Each time the magician levels they gain an additional spell, taught to them by the familiar spirit.
  • The familiar may be sent on errands, such as spying or gathering news. This takes 2d6 weeks, regardless of the destination, and reveals the most recent news or 1d6 rumors about the location in question.  This may also be done with items or persons.
  • While they can see the familiar, the magician may switch senses with their familiar spirit.  This may be maintained as long as the magician desires, but should the magician view where a creature goes when it is sent on an errand, they must make a saving throw against spells or be maddened forever, counting as a normal-human and no longer retaining the memory to cast spells. The spirit can move away from line of sight with the caster once these senses are switched, but if the effect is broken it cannot be reinitiated until the familiar returns.
  • If the familiar spirit is within line of sight of the magician, the magician has a +2 to saving throws.
  • The familiar may act as instructor in languages or other minor, non-weapon proficiencies, taking the same amount of time as a normal tutor but without the need to pay gold. 
However, having an evil spirit as a companion also imposes a number of problems:
  • Each day the magician must feed the familiar spirit 1hp worth of blood or it will become temporarily powerless.  Should it go without, the next time it feeds it shall drain 1hp per day that was missed, even if this kills the magician.  
  • A magician with a familiar may not be resurrected from the dead. In addition beneficial clerical magic only works on them 50% of the time, unless it is cast from a scroll or another item in which case it is always effective (except raise dead).
  • Should the familiar spirit be destroyed, the magician immediately loses 4 levels of experience. Should this cause them to be slain, they disappear in a cloud of greasy, black smoke.
A familiar spirit will never use its attack in defense of its master, only itself, but may cast spells on their behalf; however, they only do so rarely, since if the magician dies their soul is sent to the Pit and the familiar spirit's evil mission completed.

Regardless of the type of animal they resemble, all familiars have the following statistics.

AC 2 [17], HD 2+2, Attk 1 (1d8 + poison), THAC0 16 [+3] MV 180' (60') Flying, SV D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (7), ML (special), AL Chaotic, XP 1,650 NA 1 (1) TT Nil
  • Mundane Damage Immunity: Familiar spirits may only be hit by weapons which are silvered or +1 or better.
  • Deadly Poison: The bite of a familiar spirit, regardless of the form it takes, causes a saving throw verses poison or die.
  • Spell casting: At will the familiar spirit may cast detect good, invisibility, and detect magic. Once per week they may commune with the beings of the Pit.
  • Weakness to Daylight: A familiar spirit may neither fly nor benefit from its mundane damage immunity while the sun shines upon it.
  • Piggy-back: Once per month, the familiar may carry the magician or a person they designate upon its back.  It may then fly tirelessly for an entire night.

If you want an interesting form for your familiar, head over to my patreon and check out the most recent post to see the Awful Rats with stats for OSE and art by Chris Huth.

Edited to include some critiques from Gavin Norman, author of OSE.