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.