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.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Behold! A Patreon!

Banner design (and art and layout for the patreon posts) by Chris Huth

I've gotten several comments asking when y'all will get access to Nightwick.  Well, the time is now! I have set up a patreon with Chris Huth doing layout and art for the entries. We decided that the current state of the text and my current situation of unemployment meant that a steady stream was preferable to the big wad of a Kickstarter. There may still be a kickstarter when the first three levels are completed.  We've also decided to go with Old School Essentials for the rule set.

The first post, which is available to everybody, explains how I use geomorphs in the infamous shifting dungeon.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Continuing Adventures of Gawain the Inquisitor

[Gawain is a 4th level cleric and inquisitor dedicate to the cult of St Richard the Prior. What follows is an account written by his player (with some edits by me). His associates are Paul (Frogling Barbarian 4), Robert van Hoppen (Frogling Fighter 4), Adran Wildedagger (Karslish Rogue 4), and Flint Lichtbringer (Dwarf Paladin 3).]

It is the 28th of Unodecember. Town pop is still doubled and the noble’s wife gave birth to a stillborn changeling. (Acquired a +1 mace from previous session, the book is a history of Nightwick, the amulet is a Darkshard Amulet only useful to pagan casters, the perfume is a magical mixture called the Perfume of Beguiling) 

Ventured back down into Nightwick, almost immediately encountered a foul mound of larva (they are the lost souls of men doomed to hell) , I proceeded to dispense the holy justice of St Pryor upon them by burning the sins from them. Something demonic looked on from above until Sir Richard fired a volley at them, chasing them off. While I was administering justice, we were surprised by a group of Mongrel Men. I wanted to dispense of them as they are foul creatures and unnatural but I went along with the judgement of the party and allowed them safe passage to leave. 

We went into the door they did not and encountered a room dominated by a jelly like, inky black pool full of deer men. 7 in total, several armed with mancatchers. Defeated the deer men easily enough. Upon investigating the pool, we noticed a luminous green gem at the bottom. Paul jumped into the pool to retrieve but was having some issues. I volunteered to tie a rope to him, but as I leaned over the water I was dragged in by a foul force. It clung to me like a vicious goop, and tried to force its way into my mouth. I gripped my symbol of St Richard the Prior and mentally voiced a prayer of protected. A bright burst of light freed the goop from my face and allowed to get to the surface where I was able to get out with the assistance of Sir Robert. 

 Paul by then had successfully retrieved the gem, and then we discovered it was responsible for the summoning and transformation of the deer men in this horrible place. In the next few rooms, we encountered a freshly killed and mounted human and goblin head, and a bunch of dregs. Easily dispatched. Followed the sound of almost meaty impacts, till we discovered a most foul creature, The Butcher. He was a solid fight but easily dispatched by our skilled party. Received 650 exp apiece, 23 platinum and 988gp.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Record of Gawain the Inquisitor

[Gawain is a 4th level cleric and inquisitor dedicate to the cult of St Richard the Prior. What follows is an account written by his player (with some edits by me). His associates are Paul (Frogling Barbarian 4), Robert van Hoppen (Frogling Fighter 4), Adran Wildedagger (Karslish Rogue 4), and Flint Lichtbringer (Dwarf Paladin 3).]

Assigned to purge Nightwick of its evil once and for all. Traveled with my faithful man servant and squire Robert. Upon my arrival at the squalid village of Nightwick it was fairly crowded with a surplus of mercenaries returning with the Lord of Nightwick from a successful campaign against the Lady of the Woods up north.

 It is currently the 1st of Uno December. Met Flint Litchbringer, Adran Wildedagger at the local inn who were requesting help in exploring the infamous Nightwick Abbey. I may not agree with Adran’s reason for exploring the dangerous ruins but Flint is a fellow worshipper of St Richard the Prior so Robert and I agreed to join them.  A pagan frogling by the name of Paul joined as well. Maybe I could sway him to the side of Law like my faithful campaign Robert.

(Previous loot from Christmas special session was identified: +1 Bow and Shield, Quiver of Silver Arrows, and a Silver Dagger) (Oh and a Horn Of Silent Alarm) [These were gifts given by Knecht Ruprecht for services rendered, ed.]. The Lord’s wife has become pregnant and the pregnancy has developed at an unnatural, it is probably a changeling. Another cleric with The Howling Commandos mercenary company plans to attempt a healing ritual to cleanse the foul spawn. I approached them and The Lord and Lady and offered any assistance I could with the ritual. Journeyed into the Abbey for the first time.

Luckily Flint had a map that he has been compiling for the several months they have been delving this foul place. Almost immediately upon entering we encountered 8 wights, easily defeated. In a room not too far down, we found 65gp at the bottom of a strange pool. A few rooms over we encountered some strange very feminine pillars with rose quarts at certain points. The rogue Adran deftly climbed them and secured them. Acquired 5 of the jewels. An adjoining room was full of women’s head mounted on the walls, and they were strangely fresh. Upon entering the room, they emitted a horrible screeching that summoned an abomination called a magma baby. Apparently, they are created by the psychic disturbances left over after sieges, they are made up of stone, molten rock, and other inorganic material. Defeated it cautiously, but easily. Traveled down a hallway with several doors, one room was full of melted wax, which trapped Flint and I upon the door being opened. A vampire jelly appeared and immediately attacked. Defeated it easily.

Went into the room across the hall after freeing ourselves, and discovered a secret door. The door lead into a back way into a room filled with 7 deer men and a strange altar. It was swathed in purple leading me to believe it to associated with the demon lord Armadeus. After vanquishing the deer men, we discovered a hidden treasure chamber. There were three trapped chests, which the rogue handily disarmed. They contained gold, a huge book, an amulet, and a bottle of perfume. Total of 1007gp in the chest. Earned 510 exp and 388gp apiece.

[More entries to come]

Friday, January 31, 2020

Internet Nightwick Report: Losing an Heir and Slaying a Master

Characters Present
Uein, Fighting man from Nordovulgaria
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
Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus
Janos Balazsfi, Vulgarian changeling dedicated to St. Gax

Unodecember 17th, 1395

  • The various members of the leadership of the Howling Kommandos met outside Lord Albrecht's manor house, along with Gawain Sunbringer from the home group (who was an NPC in this interaction) and Father Roderick to see to a disturbing issue.
  • Lady Grumpke, Albrecht's wife, had suddenly become very pregnant - seemingly in her third trimester - after her husband had only been back three months. It was clear to all who knew the couple and who interacted with her during Albrecht's absence that infidelity was completely out of the question. She was also pregnant at the time of his absence and had already given birth to a baby girl, which had been a mixed blessing for the couple as it reinstated the precarity of their position by not providing him with a male heir.  That was only a month ago.  This pregnancy was an act of magic.
  • Johanna d'Ligne decided to try to act as a kind of midwife for Grumpke while Gawain and Roderick aided her with magic.  The plan centered around the casting of dispel magic (which seemed not to work) and remove curse.
  • Janos, also a cleric, sought the divine wisdom of St Gax using the augury spell, find that the result of casting remove curse would be "both weal and woe." 
  • Uein advised that the party prepare for the hideous, clearly demonic infant to burst forth as a monster, though Johanna did not seem to give this idea much thought.
  • Abraham and Stavros were somewhat surprised by Sir Albrecht's willingness to hand this issue over to them, but he has come to see them as competent problem solvers since they rescued him from the clutches of the White Lady.
  • Remove curse terminated the pregnancy.  The stillborn infant had green skin, a full head of platinum blonde hair, solid black eyes, and pig's feet.  Abraham noted it was clearly a changeling and that it was somewhat perverse for Gax to have told Janos that the death of one of his own kind would be "weal."
  • Father Roderick, who had seen changelings born before, found this one especially disturbing, noting that it should be burned immediately and not offered any funeral rites less it come back in some more hideous form.
  • The party heeded his advice, and Johanna was gripped with a terrible sorrow for not being able to save what  could've been a male heir to a seemingly innocent couple.
  • These acts done, the party rested for a day before heading to Nightwick Abbey on Devilsday, 18 Unodecember.
  • They debated clearing out some of the garden level, where they had recently evicted a number of "lost souls," but instead chose to head to the third level and seek out one of the warlocks who were attempting to open the seals to level 4.
  • Checking unexplored rooms on their way, they found a chamber containing an enthroned undead Hochmeister of the Sword Brothers seated on a throne (that was actually the lid to a tomb), and his 6 blind bruder body guards.
  • A battle ensued with the addition of new clerics in the party and semi-recently acquired blunt weapons proving their effectiveness.
  • They found about the hochmeister's neck a seal (the stamp kind not the magic kind) that they believe to be part of a puzzle on the "Baroness level."
  • Within the tomb was a huge sum of gold, and the party felt it best to escape with this treasure and call it a day rather than push further.
Monsters Defeated
A changeling child, A Blind Meister, 6 Blind Bruders

Treasure Gained
1 suit of smoking halfplate (unidentified), 5000gp, Sword Brother Seal

XP Per Player

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Unfocused thoughts on Kukoshi

This is one of those posts I write to exorcise an idea I have so I can keep running whatever I'm running (in this case, Nightwick). Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't. This one is actually within the World of Nightwick.

  • Kukoshi is a small island off the coast of the main island of Noppin - the fakey cakes Japan of the World of Nightwick. It's position (and map) is analogous to the real world island of Shikoku.
  • The bulk of the island is dominated by the Forest of Graves. Once the island was the burial site for the emperor and his court, as well as nobles who could use money or influence to get the same privilege.  Now there are so many graves and tombs about the island that one can easily stumble upon a  site that has gone unseen for generations while gathering firewood or picking mushrooms.
  • The forest also is teeming with the spirits of the dead who call to mortals to join them.
  • The places of the dead were originally set up and tended by the Genbu clan, whose minds were poisoned by some demon or other - as is often the case in the World of Nightwick.  They built a sprawling fortress called Kumonoso Castle.
  • At some point they gained so much favor with the emperor that they attempted to seize him, bring him to Kumonoso Castle, and act as permanent regents.  This obviously angered the other powerful clans at the time.
  • The clans from the mainland besieged and destroyed Kumonoso Castle.  During the siege they found it a place of madness and great evils, and many of the creations of the Genbu Clan still haunt the ruins - and the entire island - to this day.
  • Today the dominant clan on the island is the Tsuru clan, who rule from Sato, which was once a village near the shadow of Kumonoso.  Now it's a sizable town capable of having city adventures.
  • Two other clans inhabit the island. The Okami clan is made of a cadet branch of the Genbu that helped the old clans destroy them in the long long ago.  They are still rumored to use foul magics and are particularly known for making their adversaries contract a form of madness that makes them act like dogs. They are secretive, but not openly hostile to the Tsuru clan.
  • The other main clan is the Byakko clan, which has been given control over the western part of Noppin because its leader jingles little baubles in a way that the emperor particularly likes.  They have seized a castle from the Tsuru clan - Orizuru Castle - and obviously intend to wage further war against them.  It is likely that their ultimate goal is to take Sato itself.
  • Religion on Kukoshi, and in Noppin in general, is divided between the monks of Law and the yamabushi who deal with the traditional Old Gods of the islands. While the priests of the two religions may fight, most of the realm embraces some level of syncretism between the two beliefs.
  • The religion of the Law in Noppin is an esoteric Eastern branch that does not necessarily oppose appeasing the Old Gods but focuses on conditioning one's mind and body to become one with the Law upon death. To do this monks often do things such as squeeze their bodies into metal cubes to cause their bones to "align" with the right angles of the Law.
  • They do not conceive of the Law as a deity but as a kind of divine state outside the universe. They do believe that the Law has saints, which function much as they do in the Western and Zenopolitan churches.
  • The overall structure of such a game would be like the one I used in Yavana, with most of the adventuring being hexcrawling with some mid-sized dungeons and the occasional town antics. Kumonoso Castle would be a fairly large dungeon but not "mega" in the campaign oriented sense.
  • I plan on borrowing Anthony's warrior societies for fighters, but also include ones for thieves (shinobi schools).  It's likely that I'll pre-place NPCs who are teachers for these societies, and one or two of them might even be tengu.
  • Other dungeon ideas include the Moon Tower of the Tengu, the tombs of the old emperors, a more recently cursed castle, and a waterfall/cave holding the demonic princess of the Genbu clan.
  • Monsters will be largely taken from because that site is great.
  • I would likely run this using Old School Essentials with houserules for Yamabushi and Namazu.
  • Obvious influences include the first two Onimusha games, Sekiro, Throne of Blood, the manga of Inuyasha (which has a lot more horror elements than the anime), Kwaidan, the first Yokai Wars movie... a bunch of other stuff probably.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Behold! Nightwick Abbey!

Since I've been blogging about it for almost ten years, and since I plan on doing a product version this year, I decided it was about time that I reintroduce my signature setting to potential new audiences. This "Behold! __________" series of posts, inspired by an utterance once made by Hydra's Robert Parker* will cover areas I've already discussed at some length but in a hopefully newbie friendly manner. 

Some two hundred years ago, a religious order of knights dedicated to the Church of Law entered the Dark Country. It would be their grave. They sought to bring the light of the Law to the pagan peoples of that place - which men now call the Bogdani - but in their zeal they turned to torture, murder, and ultimately acts too unspeakable to relate here. Stories of their depravity made it to the Realm of Man, though even then the High Pontiff was slow to move against them. How could such acts be committed by those who had worshiped the God of Law. Finally, the High King of the Realm decided to act, taking an army of men from across the West into the Dark Country,  There they set about destroying the works of the disgraced oath-breakers once called the Sword Brothers.

The Sword Brothers had their last stand in their grandest chapter house - Nightwick Abbey. After the defeat of their armies in the field, the Sword Brothers retreated into the catacombs beneath the abbey, and some say they sought out necromancers, witches, and conjurers to build a new army to destroy the forces of the Realm. At last though the abbey was besieged by three princes of men - the King of Karse, the Baron of Averois, and the High King of the Realm. Few survived the terrible melee that ensued in the dungeons beneath, and those that survived spoke of horrors beyond the pale of anything they had seen even in war or in the night terrors of the Dark Country.

It is said that the High King gave the order that the dungeons be sealed once both his brother-princes were killed.  He did not know what evils awaited below, but what he had already seen chilled him to the core. It does seem though that this blow was enough to defeat the Sword Brothers, who disappear from the historical record outside of appearances as shades, revenants, and other sorts of boogie-men.

Now Nightwick Abbey lies in ruins near a village that bears its name. Its crumbling walls sit upon a hill in the Fog-bound Forest, covered in a mysterious vine that no living mortal has yet identified.  Inside are rumored to be the loot of 150 years of conquest. Those who have plumbed the parts of its dungeon nearest the surface speak of walls that bleed, rooms that move of their own accord, and creatures born of sin and devilry.  Many sages outside the Dark Country believe these descriptions mean that the abbey is affected by the psychic trauma of the last days of the Sword Brothers and the siege.  Those in the Dark Country know better.

The Bogdani and the Realmish immigrants that live in the Dark Country know why the Sword Brothers turned - there is an evil beneath the abbey.  From out of the depths it called up to them, perhaps appearing as the sacred thrumming of the God of Law itself, or perhaps promising power far beyond what could be obtained by mortals in the Church.  Whatever it was, the world of men can never be safe so long as it lies beneath those dungeons, waiting for its chance to escape.

*Robert may be working on some new blog content that sounds like an absolutely fantastic handling of the procedures of running a game.