Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I used the old AD&D Historical Reference Guide for The Crusades to develop the core of this campaign, which I ran using D&D 3E. Major historical deviation was that it was set in a D&D version of Aerth rather than Earth, so there were elves, dwarves, old gods, etc. Developed quite a bit of background, drew up a bunch of maps, had some fun. The primary goal of the campaign was for the adventurers to find an ancient aegyptian treasure that had been stolen by local bandits long ago and hidden away, tied in with an ancient tomb where several of Alexander the Great's loyal followers had been buried. The group found the tomb, which was based on an old tomb from the Valley of the Kings, but we never finished that campaign, and they were left still exploring the tomb...
Another Aerth campaign, this time actually using Dangerous Journeys, set in the time of King Richard the Lionhearted in a very alternate Angland where the island was broken up into many petty kingdoms and London was a Free City. The adventurers were tied into the latest battle between the cultures and gods over the island; they eventually recovered the scabbard of Excalibur, though it was left open-ended at the end of the campaign where the scabbard would end up. It was presumed, of course, that it would go to the young Prince of Logres, from which the Brythokelltic Renaissance would start and eventually re-conquer the isle (and flow back onto the Continent to conquer the Low Countries).
As you can probably tell, I really like Gary's Aerth setting. It is my "go-to" setting for pseudo-historical campaigns.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Upon closer inspection, the face projects about three feet out from the wall. It is humanoid of sort, certainly of masculine appearance, though thick of features and not of any particular race. The face has large close-lidded eyes, a large bulbous nose, wide elephantine ears with pendulous lobes, thick lips, and a jutting chin. The most remarkable thing about the face is its lips, which appear to be sewn shut with a thick string of gold!
That is, they seem the most remarkable thing, until the lids of the eyes flip wide open (which they do when any being approaches within 10 feet). The eyes are brilliant flashing green, like star emeralds, the pupils being the star of the gem. The eyes go wide when they see anyone who has a cutting weapon, and then the face writhes in pain as the lips purse out toward that person, the eyes pleading.
To all save the very dim, it is obvious the face wishes them to cut the golden string. If the adventurers argue among each other against cutting the string, or turn to leave, the eyes of the face tear up, and it begins to weep and sob and snort sadly. If the adventurers leave, as they pass through the door they hear a horrible burbling whine come through the sewn lips, with a muttered "..hhhhpppllllzzze?"
If the adventurers are so foolish as to actually cut the golden string, disaster, naturally, awaits them. Upon being cut, the string falls away immediately and the mouth flies open, the face giving off a great shout of joy. Then, a huge, 30' long black tongue darts out of the mouth and attacks as a 10 HD monster! First, it attacks the adventurer who most strongly fought against cutting its bonds. The tongue attacks by grabbing at the target; a successful hit deals no damage, but will grapple the target with an inhuman and irresistible strength, and on the next round will drag the target into the mouth completely.
Any target dragged into the mouth is stuck in the face's extra-dimensional gullet, and suffers 3d10 points of damage per round from the terrible acids. When an adventurer reaches 0 hit points, his body and most of his equipment are completely dissolved beyond recovery. Any magic items or gems, however, remain, and will be spit out as opportunity permits.
If the tongue is attacked, it is AC 2, immune to non-magical weapons, suffers no damage from bludgeoning attacks, and has 20 hit points. If the tongue is destroyed it falls into a pile of black ichor, the face puckers up angrily, and spits out a mist of black demon blood poison in the next round. Anyone in the room must make a saving throw against Poison or die. The tongue regenerates at a rate of 1 hp per turn.
The face can be attacked; only two can melee with the face directly at any time. Any such attackers immediately become targets of the tongue by default, the tongue attacks them with a +4 bonus, and if hit, they are dragged in immediately in the same round. The face has an AC 0, is immune to non-magical weapons, and has 50 hit point (separate and distinct from the tongue). If the face is slain, it crumbles in on itself and the tongue, if remaining, falls into a pile of black ichor. If merely wounded, the face regenerates at a rate of 1 hit point per turn (again, separate from the hit points of the tongue).
The face will continue to attack until it has consumed all the adventurers, save the one who cut it free... provided said adventurer has not attacked it in the meantime, in which case it will show no mercy. However, if the adventurer who cut it free did not attack it, it will introduce itself, quite politely, as Humbgrol the Erudite, and offer the adventurer a wish for his troubles. If asked about its eating of the other adventurers, Humbgrol will respond that it had been thusly sewn up for decades, and it was quite hungry, indeed, on the verge of starvation.
If asked, Humbgrol informs the adventurer that he is in fact, a demon, placed here long ages ago by a cult. In return for a sacrifice, he is able to answer any one question thoroughly and truthfully, no matter how secret, obscure, or otherwise lost the knowledge may be... though his answer may be in no more than seven words. He can also grant one wish per century.
Finally, Hubgrol will offer the adventurer any remaining magic items or gems that he could not digest from the adventurer's erstwhile companions, in return for the adventurer broadcasting that Humbgrol is again available for service... after all, he needs people to come to him and bring him sacrifices in order to eat!
Monday, April 18, 2011
As an aside, I've been thinking about the Druids of the Realm a bit lately, as I've been going through the core classes of Labyrinth Lord (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief) and shaking out the "Things You Need To Know" write-ups, and am now considering moving on to the classes of the AEC. Assassins are easy, at least, for me, but the Druids need more consideration, due to the cosmology I've been building, with the Gods of Law and Gods of Chaos. In the Realm, the Druids revere not the gods, but the World itself; and frankly, the World isn't overly much interested in either the Gods of Law or the Gods of Chaos, prefering for the most part its own way, though at times, intersecting with Law, Chaos, and the mortal races and Civilization (with the noted capital "C") in different ways. I'm considering four primary branches of druidism:
Great Green Circle: Law-favoring, Civilization-Friendly, Tree-Hugging nature worshipers. Rustic, rural druids, who work with the peasants of forest and field, united with Civilization to enable it to best thrive together with Nature and the World. Distrust Arcane magic as an unnatural abuse of Nature. Work with the Gods of Law, or rather, work with the clerics of the Gods of Law.
Great Brown Circle: Neutral with respect to Law and Chaos, Civilization-Wary, Barbarian-Loving nature worshipers. Most Druids of barbarian peoples will be of this type (especially of the Highlanders and Northlanders). Despise Arcane magic as an unnatural abuse of Nature. Distrustful of the Gods of Law and Chaos, work closely with the Petty Gods and Godlings of Field, Forest, and Stream.
Great Black Circle: Neutral with respect to Law and Chaos, Civilization-Loathing, Savage nature worshipers. Druids of this Circle are the most primitive with respect to the ways of Civilization; they believe Men and other Mortals should live like beasts, in order to fit in "as they should" with their animal brethren. Despise Arcane magic as an unnatural abuse of Nature. Smallest of the Circles.
Great Red Circle: Chaos-Favoring, Civilization-Loathing, Beast-Like, more-savage-than-Savages nature worshipers. Take the pervasive Druidic belief that the World is merely an extension of the Dragon Primordial to the most unpleasant end, beleive anything that is not subsumed into the reverence of Nature as the Dragon Primordial must be undone (similar to the Demonic belief that the World must be Undone to enable the Dragon Primordial to return to full power and bring the World back to its true potential). Embrace Arcane magic as an natural extension of the Will of the Dragon Primordial. The Red Circle Druids are mostly of monstrous sort, i.e., goblins, orcs, and the like, but there are no few Men and others of mortal races who turn to the Red Circles for power or in madness.
Each Great Circle has its own hierarchy; one Great Circle is usually dominant, though rarely exclusive, in a region. The Druids of the Western Wastelands, for example, are mostly savage Red Circle druids tied in with Kishar; they view the wastes created in her Wrath as a good start toward undoing Civilization and returning Nature to the way intended by the Dragon Primordial. There are, however, Brown Druids among the Highlander clans and other local barbarians, and a few small circles of Green Druids work with the rural folk of Haelyx, Royalton, and nearby towns, villages, and hamlets. Black Druids are rare in the region, the few that can be found here generally living as mad hermits in the Great Northern Stink.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Kishar (Greater Goddess Trapped in Mortal Form)
Kishar is the First-Born Dragon-Queen, the Great Dragon Bitch, Mother of Dragons, Mother of Demons, Big Red, and She-Who-Burns. Born of the Heart of the Dragon Primordial, Kishar is the first and greatest of the Five Dragon-Queens, the mothers, queens, and goddesses of all dragon-kind. She and her sisters were born from the largest parts of the Dragon Primordial which, after being slain by the Elder Gods, fell down to the World and came to rest in places of great and potent power. Kishar and her sisters led the attack in the War of Angels and Dragons, seeking to overthrow the Elder Gods and their Law which had, to their way of thinking, usurped the rightful place of the Dragon Primordial and the way of Chaos. Though they failed in their initial war, they have been more or less at war continually with the Gods and Law ever since, keeping the Gods from realizing their Plan to re-make the World wholly in their image.
Like the demons and gods, however, the Dragon-Queens and other Gods of Chaos have been limited by the terms of the Divine Compact since the end of the War of Angels and Demons. Limited not in that they themselves ever signed on to the Compact, but by the very real limitation that if they did not recognize the Compact, and thus remain outside the World, the Gods, Angels, and Demons together would gang up on any who abrogated the Compact, an alliance against even which all five of the Dragon-Queens together could not stand… and the five Dragon-Queens had not stood fully aligned together since the War of Light and Darkness, save for the debacle of the War of Angels and Demons. Thus, in the long millennia since, Kishar operated through clerics and servants, who wrought her will on the World in proxy.
During the early years of the Wizard War, Kishar was foolishly summoned into the World by Shelmorian Vorl, a wizard of great talent but little wisdom. Naturally, he could not control the goddess as he could control other summoned demons; the result was known as the Wrath of Kishar, a terrible event that devastated the western Heartlands and created the Western Wastes. The last laugh, however, was on Kishar, as though Shelmorian had summoned her hence from her otherworldly Hell, the limitations of the nature of the summoning were such that they forced her into a mortal body! Thus, while Kishar now had a way around the Divine Compact against direct assault and action on the mortal World, she too could all-too easily perish, and even by mortal blades! This she discovered when the Unknown Hero, who gave his life for the cause, stopped her wrath and ended the destruction by striking her with a dragon-slaying blade, paralyzing her. Though she survived the encounter, it frightened her…
Unsure whether death in the mortal World now meant true and final death for herself, her wrath cooled considerably, or at least, her own personal, physical enactment of it. She settled down in the wastelands of her creation, first to heal her grievous wounds, then to build her power. For though she was now of mortal form, she still had much to do as a Dragon-Queen; she could still grant spells and visions, send out servants to perform tasks, and so forth. She has since set up her own petty kingdom, of sorts, in the Western Wastes; the heart of the Wastes are known as the Wastes of Kishar, and are home to all manner of evil and Chaotic dragons and dragon-like creatures.
Like all the Dragon-Queens, she has five dragon heads, one of each of the major chromatic colors: outer left Black, inner left Blue, central & body Red, inner right Green, and outer right White. The central Red head and neck is twice as large as the other four. Her body overall is and is thick, strong, and powerful; some might describe it as almost elephantine in bulk. Her scales are a deep maroon above and a crimson-red on the underbelly, including the scales on the underside of all five necks. She has a pair of great red bat-like wings upon her back; they seem far too small to lift such bulk, but nonetheless, she can fly, if clumsily. She has a great red-orange mane of bristly hair that flows from the crown of her Red head, down her central neck and back, to half-way down her tail. Her tail is long and thick and heavily armored at the tip; a retractile poisonous stinger the size of a long sword is found at the tip. She stands 30’ tall at the shoulder, with a 60’ long body, a 60’ long tail, and 30’ long necks.
As a mortal being, Kishar has the stats of a Chromatic Dragon (AEC p. 121), with the following additions:
• Her main head has 32 hp, the other four have 24 each, and her body has 144 hp (18 HD)
• She fights as though she has 36 HD
• All her saving throws are 3
• Each of her heads can breathe the appropriate type of breath attack three times per day
• If all five heads breathe at the same time at the same area, any being subject to all five breath attacks at the same time must make a saving throw against death or be disintegrated, as the spell, in addition to all other possible effects and damage
• Her bite attacks each deal an additional two dice of damage of the appropriate type
• Her tail sting deals 1d8 damage in addition to the venom that must be saved against at -4 (failed save meaning death is instantaneous)
• She has the personal spell-casting abilities of an 18th level cleric of Chaos and an 18th level magic-user with Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 19, having access to all known (unnamed) spells and many named magic-user spells
• She has 120’ Infravision
• She possesses a form of telepathy that allows her to understand any spoken language
• She can only be hit by magical weapons of +2 enchantment or better
• She is immune to all forms of charm, sleep, enchantment, suggestion, and similar powers and spells
• She takes half-damage (no damage on a successful save) from all the following normal and magical attacks: cold, gas/poison, fire, electricity, and acid
• She has the following abilities, which she can use at will, one per round per head: clairvoyance, clairaudience, continual darkness, fear, detect invisible, detect magic, dispel magic, ESP, greater phantasmal force, levitate, polymorph self, read languages, read magic, suggestion, telekinesis (500 lbs. per head), wall of fire, wall of ice, and water breathing
• She can use the following abilities once per day: feeblemind, power word blind, power word kill, power word stun, project image, symbol, unholy word, and gate (95% probability of success). If the gate is successful, she summons one or more chromatic dragons of maximum hit dice and hit points (d6): 1, White; 2, Black; 3, Green; 4, Blue; 5, Red; 6, Roll Twice.
• She is able to teleport without error, at will, though only to known and studied locations
• Her primary treasure hoard in the Dragon’s Graveyard has 10 times the maximum number of all possible coins, gems, jewels, and magic items! She also has five lesser treasure hoards, scattered around the Wastes, each equal to Hoard Class XV x 5, though each is guarded by a daughter, a normal Chromatic Dragon, plus 1d4 other dragons of chromatic type (and random sizes and ages)!
At some point in the last several centuries, she moved her personal, primary lair from the Wastes to the Dragon’s Graveyard, which is found on Rogull, the Dragon-Moon. It is thought that she did this in order to protect her vast treasure from the greed of Djiabaleur, the Dread Lord of the Heartlands, who, approaching the status of divinity himself, sought to challenge her and steal her magical hoard for his own purposes. She still wanders the wastes that bear her name; most mortals are beneath her notice, even when they seek to attack her, but should an obvious Hero-type challenge her, she will gladly stomp him into the ground for his troubles. And then again, she might just feel a bit peckish, or a bauble carried by the mortal might catch her eye…
When encountered in the Wastes, there is a 10% chance that Djiabaleur chooses that moment to attack Kishar, seeking to overthrow her or, at the least, seeking to get enough leverage on her for her to give him some of her magic items. She rarely ever turns from battle with Djiabaleur, so great is her hatred of him that it overwhelms her sense of self-preservation. Needless to say, getting caught between the two in battle is an unpleasant place to be, and adventurers in such straits may wish they were merely caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Though not commonly known, she also travels the wider world in polymorphed form… though she loathes to take on the form of “lesser” creatures, from time to time she does so when she wishes to see and study something with her own eye or hear with her own ears, rather than through her minions or through magic, and stealth is required. Her favorite form is that of a beautiful, flame-haired elven fighter/magic-user/cleric. There is a 15% chance when so encountered she is traveling with the Arachnidaemon, Lolth, a sometimes-ally, who is similarly polymorphed into an identical form (and, like Kishar, trapped on the mortal World in mortal form). Legends of these “Sisters of Chaos” spring up from time to time, as the pair like to get their Chaos on, and go raid a Lawful temple just for the fun of it…
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
In ancient days, the hill lands known today as the Jotun Hills were home first to Dwarves, then later Goblins, then later still Gnomes, and finally, in the waning centuries of the Elder Days, settlements of Elves. These Elves were a mix of the old Taur Annoc and Taur Elthoniel, or rather, of Sun and Star Elves, who were more commonly found in mountains and forests, respectively. Their domain, the Realm of Sun and Stars, spread from the ridges of the Dusty Hills in the north to the southern valleys of the Giant Spine Mountains in the south, and from the Giant Spine Mountains in the east to the meadows and forests where stand now the Wastes of Kishar. Hither in the last of the Elder days came clans of Men, of tall and goodly mien, who befriended the Elves and learned much from them.
These Men were the direct ancestors of the modern Highlanders, and though their bloodlines are long since watered by those of other Men from other lands, the modern Heartlanders. With time, over the ten long millennia of the Mortal Compact, the Heartlanders mostly moved down into the meadows, and cut down the forests as the Elves retreated to make way for Men, though many clans still remained in the hills of old, and these too eventually moved further afield, keeping the old traditions in new homes among far-distant hills. By the time of the Wizard War, the forested hills of the northern realm of Sun and Stars were home mostly to Elves, allied Gnomes, a few friendly clans of Men, and under the hills, tribes of Goblins, more or less tamed and friendly, weaned from Chaos by long centuries of labors on the part of Gnome and Elf alike. The southern realm of wind-swept heather and moor was given over to the clans of Men, who even then were a semi-barbaric peoples apart from their civilized kin of the cities of plain and field.
Many of these clans of Men moved into the Giant Spine Mountains when the Sun Elf cities were abandoned during the early years of the Wizard War. True Giants migrated south along the Giant Spine, eager to reclaim their ancient homelands. Unfortunately for the clans of Men, this was the time of the outbreak of the war between the brother wizards Shelmorian and Daraztheon Vorl. The clans of the Tribe of Sun and Stars joined in the war, mostly on the side of Daraztheon, for the southern clans were great enemies of the northern clans through ancient blood feuds. Thus, when the True Giants invaded, most of the men-folk were away at war, and their homes and families fell to the ravages of the northern Giants. The few stragglers who returned from the disastrous War of the Brothers were able to do little to oust the invaders; conversely, the disaster that struck the region with the Wrath of Kishar caused the invading giants no end of troubles, and they were not truly able to consolidate their gains, as each of the surviving clans fell to bickering in the shattered hills.
Centuries passed, and the peoples of the hill lands became even more savage as they were hunted by Giants like beasts. No few fell into complete degeneracy, devolving to such a low cultural state that they took to living in caves and lost all knowledge of metallurgy. Some few clans held on to the old ways; these are the ancestors of the modern Highlanders of the Jotun Hills, savage and barbaric by even the standards of the Highlanders in general. Then, as the Mannish clans once again grew great enough in numbers to challenge the presence of the True Giants, another disaster struck. Migrating clans of savage Northlanders passed into the region, pushed there by the city-states of the wastes (these unified for the first time in centuries against the common enemy). These Northlanders, a tribe known as the Jotun due to their Giantish blood, swarmed into the hills and shattered the power of the Highlanders and True Giants alike.
Today, the settlements of the Jotun Hills are a patchwork of savage and barbarian tribes of Men (descendents of the savage Northlanders known as Groezlingas, Highlanders, foreign merchants, and degenerate Cavemen), Giantings (known in local parlance as Jotun or Verbeeg), and True Giants, with a leavening of Ogres, Orcs, and Dwarves (these last attracted in the last century due to re-discovery of the ancient rich mines of their forebears). The modern, post-Wrath geography of the hills includes all the highlands and vales south of the Flaming Highlands of Herkull, west of the Great Fungal Forest, east of the Putrescent Pits and Brigand Ridge (inclusive of these hills), and north of (though including) the southern vales of the western spur of the Giant Spine Mountains, including Mimir’s Vale (these last vales and hills being south of the edge of the map). The Hillfalls Ridge south of Pendrayk between Herkull and the Great Fungal Forest, strictly speaking, does not fall within the Jotuns geologically, but as peoples of the Jotuns moved in there in the century before the conquest of that region by Djiabaleur, most of what applies to the Jotuns applies there, too, save for a greater frequency of dragonnels.
Groezlingas are descended from savage Northlanders, with a dash of Gianting blood by way of the Jotun clans (which the Highlanders and Heartlanders call the Verbeeg). Like their cousins to the north they average 6’ tall and 200 pounds, are usually blond or redhead, blue or hazel eyed, pale to ruddy skinned, and like to wear beards and long braided hair. Due to intermarriage and wife-stealing with the Highlanders and Heartlanders, though, many have other skin, hair, and eye colors. They use scale mail armor, spangenhelms, round shields, and wield spears, swords, and axes. Their clothing has adapted to the more temperate climate of the Jotuns, but like the Highlanders, they like to wear furs, especially bear furs; some of their clan leaders, particularly among the Kor (Koram) and Thyrm (Tyrm) worshipping clans, are werebears. The bulk of the 21 clans, though, are druidic, with their own rather bloodthirsty canon, made moreso by their unpleasant encounters with the city-states of the wastes generations ago. They are led by Earls (Clan Chiefs), each of whom rules his clan with the support and assent of his Thayns (warriors). Like the Highlanders before them, the Groezlingas today live on cattle ranching (and cattle raiding), farming, and raiding. They speak Groezlinga, a dialect of the Northlander tongue, though most leaders speak a bit of Common, Heartlander, and/or Highlander.
Highlanders of the Jotuns are a savage people, even in comparison to their cousins elsewhere. Like most Highlanders, they average about 5’10” and weigh 185 pounds, have black, brown, or tawny hair, green or hazel eyes, ruddy to light brown skin, and generally wear their hair in braids, though the men are otherwise clean-shaven. Due to intermarriage and wife-stealing with the Groezlingas and Heartlanders, though, many have other skin, hair, and eye colors; those of mixed Groezlinga and Highlander blood are often pale-skinned redheads or raven-hairs. They use chain mail armor, conical helms with short bull horns, oval shields, and wield spears, swords (bastard swords especially), and hammers. They prefer to wear woolens with fur trimming and fur cloaks, even in summer, eschewing shirts and pants in favor of fur cloaks on hot days. They prefer wolf furs over other kinds, especially wolf furs of pure white or black. Most of the 18 clans are druidic, belonging to a tradition distinct from and inimical to that of the Groezlingas. Many clans also have a patron Demon Prince of one sort or another, much to the chagrin of the Druids; the Makkhus Clan is renowned for its patronage of the cult of the Charonadaemon, Kharun. A handful of clans follow the old Elven Ways of Flumon Fey-Moon, seeking her protection against the faeries of hill and dale. Ravens feature prominently in local Highlander tradition and superstition, traits that the Groezlingas have adapted to their own druidic and other cultic traditions.
The Verbeeg clans are similar in culture to their cousins, the Groezlingas, though since they arrived in the Jotuns, they have “gone native” to a great degree, and turned back to the ways of their Giantish forebears. Thus they remain only semi-civilized, if still cultural paragons compared to the local Ogres and Orcs, whom they often lead, sometimes in the service of their True Giant cousins.
2d6 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 1
2. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters
3. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters
4+5. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters
6-8. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 2: Common Encounters
9+10. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters
11. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters
12. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters
* Ravens in the day, Bats at night
D20 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 2: Common Encounters
1. Bear, Black
2. Bear, Brown
3+4. Cattle, Wild
5. Dog, Wild
7. Giant, Hill
8+9. Herd Animal
10+11. Man, Groezlinga
12+13. Man, Highlander
17+18. Raven, Common*
D12 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters
1. Bear, Cave
2. Cat, Wild
3. Faerie, Leprechaun
4. Giant, Verbeeg
7. Man, Bandit
8. Man, Pilgrim
10. Raven, Huge*
11. Skunk, Giant
D30 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters
2. Bee, Giant Killer
3+4. Boar, Wild
6+7. Cat, Mountain Lion
9. Giant, Cloud
10. Giant, Stone
12. Hobbit, Black
14. Lycanthrope, Werebear
15+16. Man, Caveman
17+18. Man, Merchant
20-23. Raven, Giant*
24. Shadow Mastiff
25. Stag, Giant
27. Wasp, Giant
30. Wolf, Dire
D30 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters
3. Boar, Giant
6. Dragon, Pseudo
7. Dragon, Red
9. Faerie, Atomie
10. Faerie, Brownie
11. Faerie, Grig
12. Faerie, Nymph
14. Galeb Duhr
16. Giant, Fire
17. Giant, Frost
18. Giant, Mountain
22. Hornet, Giant
23. Lycanthrope, Wereboar
24. Man, Berserker (d6: 1, Groezlinga; 2, Highlander; 3, Kharun Cultist; 4-6, Madman)
26. Ram, Giant
30. Yeth Hound
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Ilzara (Intermediate Goddess)
Ilzara is the Messenger of the Gods, the Celestial Psychopomp, the Guide of Souls, Guardian of the Dead, Queen of the Valkyries, the Wife of Tyrm, and the Mother of Iluna. Once an Angel in service to the Gods, Ilzara ascended to full divinity in gratitude for her service in the Elder Days, and has since been a favorite patron goddess of many. She and Tyrm were very close even before their ascension; they had many occasions to work together due to Tyrm’s duties as a war leader, as Ilzara passed information and orders on from the Gods to their warrior-angel and gathered the souls of fallen warriors. They were married soon after their ascension; their daughter, Iluna Silver-Moon, was born at the end of the War of Light and Darkness.
Ilzara has three very important duties in the family of the Great Good Gods:
Messenger of the Gods
She and her servants deliver messages for the Great Good Gods, to other gods, to demons, and to mortals. This is a very important task, as the gods are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and thus cannot be everywhere and know everything. Nor are they telepathic over great distances. Thus, the gods have need for courageous and incorruptible messengers to deliver important messages to servants, friends, allies, and enemies alike. No gods or servants of the gods are faster than Ilzara and her servants; they move faster than the wind upon wings of light. No few of her servants have died to bring messages that the Gods of Chaos or Demons want unheard by the intended recipient or stolen for their own ears. While Qnath and his servants are the masters of divination, it is usually through the services of the servants of Ilzara, if not Ilzara herself, that the gods send word of their will to their mortal followers. While divinatory queries as to the future are usually answered by a servant of Qnath, questions that can be answered about the past or present are usually answered by a servant of Ilzara. These messages are usually presented in dreams or visions, though if important enough, the messenger might appear in spirit form to the recipient and those around them and deliver the message verbally. Finally, Ilzara’s servants also act as the heralds of the gods, standing before them to deliver pronunciations of the gods and act as intermediaries between the gods and mortals.
Divine messengers carry a distinctive rod, known as a kerukeion (from the Southlander tongue). This device is about three feet long (for human-sized figures), at the top an egg of adamant (to represent the Cosmic Egg), below a lemniscate (infinity symbol) parallel with the rod, and at the point below the lemniscate, a pair of wings. As heralds, the rod is a full-sized staff about six feet tall (again, when the figure is human-scaled), bearing the personal symbol or badge of the god for whom the herald works in between the wings.
Guide of the Dead
Ilzara and her servants are tasked with the retrieval of the souls of the faithful upon death, to see that they are brought before Qnath, Koram, and Galendar to be properly judged. Each class of death has a special Psychopomp, or guide, to take the immortal soul to the Straight Paths of Elysion and thence to the Hall of Judgment. The most notable such guides are those who gather the souls of fallen valiant Lawful warriors who die in battle. Known as the Valkyries to the Northlanders and, in general, in the Heartlands, these guides are angelic beings of beautiful female form, armed and armored complete with helms with wings of hawks, swans, or ravens. They are often, but not always winged, but can fly regardless; they also sometimes, but not always, ride flying horses, which might also be winged or not. Only those destined to die soon in battle can usually see Valkyries, unless they let themselves be seen otherwise. Other guides of the dead in service to Ilzara include the cherubs who guide the souls of children; the more common angelic type who handle death by accidents, plague, or illness; and the hale warrior angels who welcome a valiant warrior who dies outside of battle to the afterworld. The horrific “Angels of Death” of skeletal form dressed in black robes with great, blood-dripping scythes are sent only to those whose damnation is fore-ordained by the deeds of their own hands… such are still guided to the Hall of Judgment, usually by a circuitous route through Infernus or some other Hell, that they may get a taste of what is coming to them. Of course, if one’s soul is already promised to a demon, then said demon usually appears alone, ready to gather his loathsome harvest with no argument from Ilzara or her servants…
Guardian of the Dead
As the guide of the dead, she also functions as the guardian of the dead, as it is she and her servants who must guard the soul of the dead from demons, evil spirits, and other nasty beings who might seek to wrongly steal the soul away from the gods. Thus, her priests also serve as officiant at funerals, with the priest of the deceased patron god or goddess assisting (and often with clerics of Galendar, when the temple focuses on Redemption and Resurrection). Clerics of Ilzara also guard cemeteries, catacombs, and necropoleis against the intrusion of grave robbers, the rise of undead, the machinations of chaotic sorcerers, and worse things.
Spheres of Influence: Messenger of the Great Good Gods, Divination of Past and Present, Guide of the Dead, Guardian of the Dead, Mother of the Silver-Moon
Symbols: Kerukeion (see above), winged helm, winged boots or sandals
Animal: Swan, raven, winged horse
Raiment: Flowing white robes, winged helm, winged sandals
Colors: White, silvery-blue
Place of Worship: Common temples of the Great Good Gods, cemeteries, catacombs, necropoleis, places where the wind blows freely and quickly
Holy Days: None especially
Ceremony: None exclusively; clerics of Ilzara serve the other priests of the Temple of the Great Good Gods as messengers, officiants at funerals, and guardians of the dead.
Sacrifice: In addition to the standard tithe to the Temple, once per month or as needed, one should give a secret to Ilzara by seeking solitude and speaking the secret aloud, that any nearby messenger might hear and deliver the secret to Ilzara. Those seeking to have their messages delivered to the gods (or mortal messages delivered to allies/friends/enemies, etc.) should promise or deliver further tithes of goods or services to the Temple; failure to deliver after promises made and messages delivered results in bad things happening!
Taboos: Never leave a message undelivered, even if it means your death; never desecrate a holy grave; always bury the dead, even those of your enemies
Special Spells Granted: Clerics who focus on the messenger aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): message (1), locate object (2), fly (3), freedom of movement (4), teleport (5), repulsion (6), and phase door (7). Clerics who focus on the guide of the dead aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): deathwatch (1), speak with dead (2), fly (3), freedom of movement (4), true seeing (5), astral projection (6), and trap the soul (7 - used to contain Chaotic souls only). Clerics who focus on the guardian of the dead aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): detect undead (1), consecrate (2), glyph of warding (3), death ward (4), disrupt undead (5), forbiddance (6), and spell turning (7). Generally heroic clerics might gain access to some or all of these spells. Each spell group is gained in order; thus a higher-level cleric who only gains Ilzara’s personal respect late in his career might only have access to the level 1 and level 2 special spells, even though he can cast third and fourth level spells.
Saint Exmin the Valkyrie
Her greatest servant, her Captain of the Valkyries, is Saint Exmin the Valkyrie, a once-mortal woman who, during her life, fought valiantly for the Great Good Gods and the cause of Law as a wandering paladin. Aged and doddering after a life dedicated to fighting the good fight, she refused to die in bed, and went forth to fight one last battle against a horde out of the East. She died on the battlefield, after defeating the leader of the nomads in single combat; though her wounds were not great, the enemy khan had poisoned his blade. Rather than die from festering wounds, she sought to have her shield-maiden finish her with a dagger that she might die from a blade in battle. But none of her weeping followers could do the deed. As Ilzara was already in attendance at the battle, she herself manifested in order to grant her life-long follower her greatest wish… and when she arrived in Elysion, she found that the Gods were ready to welcome her into their fold as a Saint in the cause of Law.
Her other major servant is Exalted Sotillion, the Maiden of Summer, Mistress of the South Wind. It is she who blows the great Celestial Oliphant to let the spirits of air and water know that summer has arrived. It is she who gathers the souls of the dead who die of heat stroke and other summer maladies. She appears as a beautiful maiden of fiery golden hair, diaphanous white gown, bare feet, and white-plumed wings, with a great golden halo.
Exalted Frantilla, Shield-Maiden of Koram
Finally, another important figure in Ilzara lore is that of Frantilla, the Shield-Maiden of Koram. Frantilla is the sister of Ilzara; for her great service to the gods, she was asked to join them when they left the Vault of Heaven to the Angels, and she remained loyal to them and their cause. Frantilla often joins Ilzara and Exmin to gather the soul of a king or great paladin in Koram’s service when they fall in battle.
Monday, April 11, 2011
HAELYX: CITY OF HEROES
Population: 11,800 (2,950 Able-Bodied)
Races: Men, Hobbits, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves
Rulers: The Council of Twelve (“Royal Council”) rules the city-state. The council currently consists of (listed in descending order of power and precedence): Finaefin Freäleaf (Elf Prince), Kili Bomburson (Dwarf Thane), Arakel Hovig (Gnome Mayor),Trahald Took (Hobbit Sheriff), Astem zul Fenhault (Heartlander Count), Diarmid Macleod (Highlander Clan Chief), Elmeric Jarien (Patriarch of the Temple of the Great Good Gods and High Priest of Koram), Lorana Farrian (Prelate of the Church of the Lords of Light), Valarindo the Saffron (Grand Master of the Ancient Order of Magi), and three Aldermen from the Council of Craftsmen and Merchants: Mifrax ven Shadarbar (Metals Merchant), Vasili Vezirov (Eastlander Import/Export Merchant), and Morgath Merdim (Litigation Trickster’s Guild). The Royal Council sets all laws by simple majority; they meet once per quarter unless called sooner by the Elf Prince. The Council of Craftsmen and Merchants (“The Guild”) oversees the day-to-day operation of the city, with Guild Justices trying any non-violent crimes; violent crimes are tried by Royal Council Magistrates, while capital crimes and any crime dealing with a noble are tried by the Council of Twelve directly as a Royal Court (a Small Court of seven needed to try commoners, a Grand Court of all twelve required to try nobles). Outside the city, reeves in the service of the local lord handle all such cases, passing capital crimes on to their lord (though again, any case dealing with a noble must be tried by a Grand Court).
Temples: Great Good Gods, Lords of Light, Larglar, Taur Duarg, Great Gold Dragon, Taur Elthon, Outcasts (Shrine), Steel Dragon (Shrine), plus several hidden shrines to various Gods of Chaos, Demons of Infernus, Dragon Queens, and Independent Daemon Princes
Coinage: Crown (gp), Guilder (sp), Common (cp), Farthing (iron, four per cp, rarely seen outside of the city)
Haelyx, the City of Heroes, is a beacon of light and law in the wilds of the Western Wastes of the Heartland. Standing along the most verdant portion of the River Hael, this small city gives hope to all goodly folk that the light of civilization will not fall, that there is a place where honest people can live and praise the goodly gods, and that freedom and justice will not perish in the chaos brought about following the Wizard War.
Founded upon the ruins of what is known as Old Haelyx (though that is not of a certainty the name of the prior city), Haelyx is a relatively new settlement, having been founded in its current incarnation merely 500 years ago. Some of the oldest elven residents can remember those long-ago days, when a unified tribe of Men, Hobbits, Gnomes, Dwarves, and Elves carved out a small patch of peace and quiet in the midst of howling wilderness. Some say that the founding Men were led by a cadet branch of the old Royalton Royal Family, though the rulers of Royalton have long denied this, or at the least, denied that the Royaltons of Haelyx any longer have claim to the Royalton throne. As the current pretender to the Royalton Throne, and seemingly the last of that line, Haelos XXXI, lives in mad penury as the Beggar King of Haelyx, they have little to fear from such claims, anyway.
The Old City core is laid out like a hexagon about a half-mile across, divided in half by the River Hael. The Old City walls are built of huge square stones, the whole designed by native Dwarf engineers and built by giants from the Gianting Lands far to the north (they owed the Elf-Prince’s father a favor from his adventuring days). The Old City walls stand 60 feet tall and 30 feet thick. An 80-foot tall 40-foot diameter round tower stands each vertex, with similar towers at the banks of the River Hael, up and downriver, one on each side with a wall-like bridge connecting them across the river, and one each on each bank of the River Alfanar that bisects the northern wall; there are a total of 12 towers on the old wall. Three Great Gates are found in the Old Wall; one each in the center of the northwestern wall, southern wall, and southeastern wall. Each Great Gate is a rectangle 80 feet wide by 60 feet deep and 80 feet tall. Each of the river towers also has a lesser gate. Two half-towers, also each 80 feet tall, stand between each vertex gate and full tower, and a single such tower stands between each vertex tower and river tower, for a total of 20 half-towers in the Old Wall.
There are four walled suburbs of the city, three each hard upon one of the Great Gates: Norgate (aka Norwich) with the Wizard Market along Arcanos Road, Sougate (aka Little Royalton) with the Royal Market along Royalton Road, and Estgate (aka Morhill) with the Dragon Market along Morgoll Road. The fourth suburb, Alfwood (aka Princely Park), stands to the north along the banks of the River Alfanar. Each suburb is a quadrangle, almost triangular in shape, defined by the wall 40 foot tall and 20 foot thick. The longest border of each suburb is along the Old Wall; the suburban walls then extend out at an angle from the vertex towers, for more than a thousand feet, where they end in 60 foot tall 30 feet diameter circular towers. Two round half-towers of the same size are in each wall between the vertex towers and the end towers. The two end towers are connected by a wall, in the center of which is a rectangular gatehouse 60 feet wide 40 feet deep and 60 feet tall. However, there is no gatehouse in Alfwood, as the suburb is not centered on a road, but instead the River Alfanar; two towers stand to either side of the river, which is crossed with a wall-like bridge where a gatehouse would be.
The River Hael at this point is about 600 feet wide throughout the city; the river is generally 20 feet deep, with some channels being 30 feet deep, or as shallow as six feet in some places. The river lies at the foot of 150 to 200 foot tall steep dolomite limestone bluffs, thus the river sits at the bottom of a canyon. The bluffs are dotted here and there with balconies and ledges, some walled but many not, that connect the various dwarf, gnome, and hobbit delves above the river banks; most of the caverns are natural karst features, heavily modified by dwarf and gnome labors. At the base of the bluffs are numerous quays, again connected to the homes carved in the bluffs, which themselves are all connected with the Haelberg (see below) and the city above.
The heart of the Old City is Great Bridge Citadel, so called as it is a citadel built over a very wide natural bridge over the River Hael. The Great Bridge Citadel is one of the wonders of the Heartlands. It is a hexagonal shaped castle with walls 100 feet tall and 50 feet thick, with a 150 foot tall 50 foot diameter round tower at each vertex; made of the same stone as the Great Bridge and the surrounding bluffs, the Citadel appears to seamlessly naturally grow out of the river bluffs. There are three gates through the walls, the gatehouses being built flush into the wall. The walls and towers serve as the command center for the Haelyxan Royal Guard, a mixed race guard made of the best of the best under the command of the Marshal of the Elf-Prince. The interior of the Citadel itself is given over to temples, official city buildings, and Noble-quality townhouses and businesses.
The underbelly of the Great Bridge Citadel is a huge pylon-island, between 400 and 500 feet long from the northeast to southwest and 200 to 300 feet thick northwest to southeast. The River Hael splits under the bridge, flowing to either side of the pylon. The pylon is known as Haelberg, and is home to most of the city’s population of dwarves and gnomes who do not live in the bluffs, though few hobbits live in the ‘Berg. Like the bluffs, the Haelberg is riddled with natural caverns, worked and finished by the native dwarves and gnomes, though some worked areas predate the current occupation (and a few of these, the deepest, are locked away behind heavy doors covered in magical wards). The River Market stands around the base of the pylon, and is home to mostly men and hobbits who trade along the river (no few of these having unsavory connections in the Great Goblin Grotto and other unpleasant points that the River Hael touches upon, sunlitten or otherwise).
North of the Citadel, the northern half of the Old City east of the River Alfanar is known as Greenhill, the Great Smials. It is a genteel, “Electrum”-class district, mostly of gentlehobbits, men, and gnomes. Surface structures are usually inhabited by men, while hobbit smials riddle the whole of the hill and are occupied by hobbits and gnomes alike (many of these being connected to the bluff dwellings to the south). Old City west of the River Alfanar is known as High Hael, the Gold District, home to men, wealthy dwarves and gnomes, and a handful of elves, all mostly merchants, high-ranking or skilled guildsmen, petty nobles, or former adventurers. There is a small district, Conjuror’s Corner, between the River Alfanar, High Hael, and the northwestern vertex; this is home to the Wizards’ Guild and those of arcane bent, including no few elves. The River Alfanar is crossed by two bridges, one each between High Hael and Greenhill, and Conjuror's Corner and Greenhill; the river empties into the River Hael over a 200 foot tall waterfall in the shadow of the northwestern wall of the Citadel.
The southern half of the Old City is divided into three districts. All meet at the Grand Market along the southern and southeastern walls of the Citadel. The eastern district is Eastriver, the Silver District, home to middle-class men and hobbits. The central district of Sunwich is the Copper District, home to most of the lower-class-if-still-honest craftsmen and artisans of the city. The western district is Farthing Hill, the oldest district in the city, where today the lowest-class and often crooked citizens subsist amidst the crooked roads and alleys with pickpockets, harlots, and even a half-orc or goblin-man or seven. The top of Farthing Hill is the Old Fort, where rules the Beggar King, Haelos XXXI, in dilapidated ragamuffin splendor. The bluffs below Farthing Hill are home to the leatherworkers, tanners, and other lower-class crafts that leave a stinky, noisome mess that is readily taken away by the River Hael.
The suburb of Norwich along Arcanos Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with Arcosians from Arcanos and other points north; thus it is also home to many Northlander barbarian mercenaries, who often are not pleased with having to rub elbows with so many magicians and wizards. It is also home to most of the few Westlanders in residence in Haelyx, most of whom are merchants dealing with far trading caravans. The Wizard Market of Norgate is the place to go for strange, unusual, and often illegal merchandise from Arcanos.
The suburb of Little Royalton along Royalton Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with the Royalings of Royalton and other points south; thus it is home to many Southron and Southlander mercenaries and merchants. Highlanders from the Jotun Hills are also often in residence here, at least, until their coin runs out and they have to move into Sunwich or Farthing Hill. The Royal Market of Sougate is the place to go to find the finer import items from the Southlands and Farlands, such as spices, silks, fine jewelry, and rare woods.
The suburb of Morhill along Morgoll Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with the Morgollites of Morgoll and other points east; thus it is home to many Eastlander and Easterling merchants and mercenaries. It is a hotbed of Chaos cultists, dedicated to the service of Djiabaleur and the Arcanadaemon; it is also the itinerant home of the Waylanders who stay in the city on irregular occasions, as it is illegal for them to stay in the Old City, and they like not the atmosphere of Norwich or Little Royalton. The Dragon Market is the place to go for furs, amber, and the goods produced in the Realm of Djiabaleur, many of which, though not sanctioned, are of questionable nature. Here too is the only place in the city to see the green-skin, pig-snout orcs, ostensibly in the service of merchants of Morgoll as mercenary caravan guards, but almost certainly in the service of their master, Djiabaleur, as spies and scouts.
The suburb of Princely Park is home to most of the elves of the city; here they live in their great tlan tree homes atop the lofty trees that stand within the confines of the tall stone walls, sadly pretending to live in the lifestyle of their ancestors. There are few traditional buildings in Alfwood; most of these are faux hobbit hills, smials housing the Tallfellow hobbit or gnomish servants of the elves, all of whom are of no less than lower-ranked gentlemen in social and economic class. The few traditional mannish buildings are usually taverns, inns, or other buildings for the mannish servants of the elves. The River Alfanar is crossed by two bridges for the use of hobbits, gnomes, and men; there are a number of tree bridges spanning the river above, but these are reserved for the elves and their guests. The Elf-Prince, when in residence, lives in the largest tlan in the largest tree at the heart of the Alfwood; it is said to be a reduced version of his own great palace in the forest to the north.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Great Good Gods, as they are known to Men, are those gods who fall within the organizational hierarchy led by Koram and Qnath. Other races know the Great Good Gods simply as the Gods of Men, for it was Koram who created Men, and the gods who follow him who are most supportive of Men. The remaining three Elder Gods of Law, who created the World, Elthonell, Shendon, and Koram, became deeply estranged after the Taur Elthon and Taur Duarg concentrated on the defense and preservation of the Elves and Dwarves during the War of Angels and Demons. Thus after the War, when the Angels and Demons were granted their absolute Free Will as part of the Great Divine Compact, and the Gods were, by the terms of the Compact, required to set themselves apart physically from the World, Koram and Qnath set up their own circle of family, friends, and followers upon the Heavenly Mount.
The Heavenly Mount is an immaterial, spiritual construct devised from the remnants of the Vault of Heaven that was physically attached to the greatest mountains of the World. When the Vault shattered and split into Twilight and Dawn halves, the Twilight portion fell into the Great Pit, and collapsed in ruin around the Abyss at the foot of the Great Pit. The Twilight portion became the core of Infernus, the underworld prison realm of the Demons. The Dawn portion, which was first fixed in the skies by Suliir and Iluna, and later placed in the ether high above the Suns and Moons by the Archangels, remained known as the Vault of Heaven, or more commonly, the Seven Heavens. Koram chose the grant the Vault to the Angels as a reward for their great service; he also preferred to build his home anew, though he did so upon the foundation stones of the Vault, which remained upon the highest crags of the greatest peaks of the World. Thus, one can, if spiritually pure, climb the greatest, loneliest mountains of the World and find there the Straight Paths to the Heavenly Mount, the Elysion of the Great Good Gods.
It is said that Elysion can also be reached through rainbows, which are an indication of the favor of Tyrm, the Celestial Warlord, who is the Warden of the Straight Paths and the Guardian of the Gate of Elysion. Again, however, to even remotely approach even the entry of such a path without being spiritually pure is to invite disaster. Elysion is the final resting place of the heroic and goodly followers of the Great Good Gods. Their souls are said to rest in the Sweet Fields of Jamala, where ever the wheat grows ripe and pure. They can walk the boulevards of the City Eternal, where the streets are paved with gold and the lamps are made of silver and diamonds. They can seek the Truth of the World in the Great Celestial Library, where the servants of Qnath gladly point out any needed scroll or tome. Those of martial bent can seek out camaraderie and contest upon the Plain of Swords, where Tyrm trains the souls of great heroes in preparation for the Final Battle against Chaos, when Law will triumph and the corruption of Chaos will be eliminated from the World once and for all.
High Queen of Heaven, the Great Lady of Elysion, the Lady of Fortune, Wife of Koram, the Divine Mother, and Mother of Suliir
The Risen One, the Lord of Protection, the Healer of Flesh and Soother of Spirit, the Redeemer, the Cosmic Counterpoise, the Prince of Peace, the Bringer of Joy, and the Husband of Ilonda
Lady of Song and Mirth, the Lady of Spring, the Healing Hand, the Cup Bearer, and the Wife of Galendar
Moon Queen, the Silvery Light, the Daughter of Tyrm and Ilzara, and the Wife of Suliir
Messenger of the Gods, the Celestial Psychopomp, the Guide of Souls, the Queen of the Valkyries, the Wife of Tyrm, and the Mother of Iluna
Lady of the Harvest, the Queen of Grains, and the Wife of Vislak
High King of Heaven, the Great Lord of Elysion, the Sky King, the Creator of Men, the Husband of Andara, and the Father of Suliir
Lord of Starry Wisdom and the Eldest of the Elder Gods
Sun King, the Great-Star, the Father of Fire, the Flame Unquenchable, the Son of Koram and Andara, and the Husband of Iluna
Lord of Storms, the Celestial Warlord, the Warden of the Straight Paths, the Guardian of the Gate of Elysion, the Paladin Prime, the Sword of the Gods, the Husband of Ilzara, and the Father of Iluna
Lord of Anvils, the Divine Artificer, the Celestial Smith, the Armorer of the Gods, and the Husband of Jamala
Sea Queen, the Lady of Sweet Waters, the Mother of Rivers, Mother of Maigyn by Elthonell
A Partial Listing of Saints and Exalted Beings of the Temple of the Great Good Gods [Patron God]
Saint Allitur the Martyr [Galendar]
Exalted Atroa, Handmaiden of Ilonda, Maiden of Spring, the East Wind (f) [Ilonda]
Saint Berei of the Hearth (f) [Jamala]
Saint Celestian the Far Wanderer [Qnath]
Exalted Cilborith, Celestial Elf [Koram]
Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel [Koram] (Very popular among Highlanders)
Saint Delleb the Thoughtful [Qnath]
Saint Exmin the Valkyrie (f) [Ilzara]
Saint Fharlanghn the Dweller on the Horizon [Galendar]
Exalted Fortubo, The Mountain, Master of Metals [Vislak]
Exalted Frantilla, Shield-Maiden of Koram (f) [Koram]
Saint Heironeous of the Sword [Tyrm]
Exalted Kazadarum, The Divine Dwarf [Koram]
Exalted Lydia, The Lyre (f) [Ilonda]
Exalted Myhriss, The Lovely (f) [Andara]
Exalted Norebo, The Lucky [Andara]
Saint Pelor of the Healing Light [Suliir]
Saint Pholtus of the Blinding Light [Suliir]
Exalted Promehene, The Youth [Galendar]
Saint Rao the Serene [Galendar]
Saint Sashu the Beggar [Galendar]
Exalted Sinakad, The Ram, the Merciful Liberator [Galendar]
Exalted Sotillion, Handmaiden of Ilzara, Maiden of Summer, The South Wind (f) [Ilzara]
Saint Trithereon the Liberator [Tyrm]
Saint Tyrebill of the Lawful Light [Suliir]
Exalted Velnius, Shield-Bearer of Tyrm, Master of Clouds [Tyrm]
Saint Vicon of Celestial Visions (f) [Qnath]
Exalted Wenta, Handmaiden of Jamala, Maiden of Autumn, the West Wind [Jamala]
Saint Zodal the Merciful [Galendar]
Saint Zuoken the Sunlander [Qnath]
Saturday, April 9, 2011
D6 ... GM Brain Fart/Lack of Preparation Recovery
1 ... Rain of Frogs, Cats, Dogs, or Goblins
2 ... Something Attacks!
3 ... Hey look, a map!
4 ... You are all arrested!
5 ... One of you is a doppelganger!
6 ... Umm... I got nothing guys. Take five!
PS: My Blogspot posts have been losing all sentence and paragraph returns lately, and I actually have to go in and add HTML code to keep everything from bunching up in one paragraph. Anyone know WTF that is about?
Friday, April 8, 2011
There have always been fungal forests in the Realm, though prior to the Wizard War, they were almost exclusively found in subterranean locales. Since then, however, some sort of magical mutation has caused the rapid growth of surface-world fungal forests throughout the Realm. These fungal forests usually grow in places where more traditional surface forests of trees or marshy lands once stood. The fungi of the forest include slimes, molds, jellies, mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, and morels, from small common-sized organisms through gnome-high mushrooms to colossal toadstools the size of size of tall trees. Often the forests are as dark and dank under the eaves of the mushroom caps as any subterranean cavern.
It is thought that the surface fungal forests formed when a large cavern housing a subterranean fungal forest collapses, but not fully, leaving some portion of the fungal forest intact. Some sages believe that the strange and powerful magic released during the Wizard War mutated these fungal forests, such that they could thrive in the open air of the surface world. Others say that it was the work of the Dungeon God, or perhaps one of the various Daemon Princes such as Juiblex, seeking to expand their subterranean domains. Perhaps each different fungal forest has its own distinct origin.
Due to the relatively dry wastes dominant in the western Heartlands, fungal forests are rare, with one notable exception… the Great Fungal Forest, the largest such in the Heartlands, can be found straddling the western slopes of the Giant Spine Mountains, north of the Jotun Hills and south of Pendrayk. This hilly region was once home to extensive mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, favored by local wood elves and gnomes. When Kishar was foolishly summoned by one of the local Wizard Kings, she unleashed her wrath, which re-sculpted the landscape for hundreds of leagues around. Large cavern systems under the local forested hills collapsed en masse, killing countless goblins, orcs, elves, and gnomes, not to mention untold wildlife of surface and subterranean sort. Many of the trees were destroyed in the volcanic eruptions that created the Flaming Highlands of Herkull. Flattened and burned, the fallen forest was ripe for fungal invasion.
The shifting landscape also caused the many mountain streams to change their course, flowing down into the local cavern systems, instead of west into the plains of the Heartlands. Over the following centuries, the fungal forests of the lands below expanded into the dying forest of the surface world, until today the Great Fungal Forest covers an area almost 200 miles north to south by 180 miles east to west. No city or kingdom claims the Great Fungal Forest, not even Djiabaleur, as there are far too many dangerous creatures with far too little to gain. However, the rare and often magical fungi that can be found in the forest, together with the rich ruins that still remain untouched from before the Wizard War, often attract adventurers seeking wealth and glory.
Of the old inhabitants, few remain; goblins, elves, and gnomes alike consider the region cursed, which makes it a haven for orcs and ogres, though they have much competition from the more unusual inhabitants of the region. Too, there are primitive, degenerate men found in the forest, descendents of the men of the mountain towns ruined in the catastrophe, often living in the ancient silver, gold, and other mines their ancestors dug. Finally, the fungal forest is also home to a number of bands of outlaws, both bandits and freedom fighters, who prey on the people of Pendrayk and/or fight against the occupation of Djiabaleur.
Natural surface fauna is rare in the Great Fungal Forest; subterranean creatures, many known only to myth and legend in the surface world, make the forest their home today.
Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 1
2. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 5
3. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 4
4+5. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 3
6-8. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 2
9+10. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 3
11. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 4
12. Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 5
Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 2
1. Bat, Common
2. Beetle, Giant Boring
3. Beetle, Giant Fire
4. Centipede, Giant
5. Men, Bandit
9. Spider, Huge
10. Spider, Large
Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 3
1. Bat, Giant
2. Carrion Crawler
3. Gelatinous Cube
6. Hobbit, Black
7. Jelly, Ochre
8. Lamprey, Land
9. Lizard, Giant Subterranean
10. Men, Adventurer
11. Men, Pilgrim (Usually Dungeon God or Juiblex)
12. Mold, Yellow
15. Pudding, Black
16. Scum Creeper
17. Slug, Giant
18. Snail Man
20. Spider, Giant
Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 4
2. Bat, Doombat
3. Cave Fisher
4. Cave Moray
5. Cricket, Cave
6. Dire Corby
8. Fungi, Violet
10. Gas Spore
12. Hook Horror
13. Jelly, Mustard
14. Men, Caveman
15. Men, Patrol (Pendrayk)
17. Myconid (Fungus Man)
18. Ooze, Gray
19. Ooze, Slithering Tracker
23. Slime Creature
24. Slime, Green
25. Urchin, Land
28. Yellow Musk Creeper
29. Zombie, Yellow Musk
Great Fungal Forest Encounter Table 5
3. Centipede, Megalo
4. Dwarf, Duergar
5. Elf, Dark
6. Elf, Deep
7. Eye Killer
8. Eye of Terror
9. Gibbering Mouther
10. Jelly, Symbiotic
11. Kech, Fungal
12. Mold, Brown
13. Mold, Russet
15. Shambler, Fungal
16. Slime, Olive
17. Snail, Flail
20. Treant, Fungal
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
War elephants of the Realm are used as they have been on Earth, deployed to crush and break infantry lines, trampling the enemy underfoot. They are also very effective against massed cavalry who are not used to facing elephants. Howdahs are used as platforms for archers and for pikemen, though the pikemen are used only to keep away heroic warrior-types who would seek to hamstring the elephant. Most war elephants wear special barding; full suits of armor includes leather barding for 500 gp (AC 4); scale barding for 1,000 gp (AC 3); and plate barding for 2,500 gp (AC 2). Half-barding is available to protect the front legs, forequarters, shoulders, head, and trunk, and is available at half listed cost, but attacks from the rear or rear flanks of the elephant are still against AC 5. Many war elephants are trained in the use of a trunk-wielded weapon, such as a giant-sized sword or ball-and-chain; such weapons are larger than any man could wield, even in two hands, and thus deal 3d6 points of damage. War elephants can attack once per round with their weapon in addition to attacks with their tusks.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Woo-Hoo! I said, WOOO-HOOO!
Further Thundarrverse adventures of Rash, Canthar, and Bakra the Puma Girl in the Madzone... short and sweet reports:
Session 2: They hid from the minions. Made their way to the Troll Bridge. Used a variant of Floating Disk to cross the moat and skirt the tower. Made it to the Citadel undetected. Climbed up the wall using a rope and grapling hook. Saw the giant War Machine of the Mad Mage in the center of the Citadel; the War Machine looks something like this, but square, with four large rotors (one at each corner), helicopters rather than jets, and in the center, the ancient Wisconsin State Capitol Dome:
They saw a few towers amidst the town within the Citadel; there seemed to be "pilot-like" humans among the trolls and rattocks in those areas (i.e., jumpsuits, helmets, mirrorshades, etc.). They snuck into the Citadel down through one of the half-towers. Discovered the town along the inside walls was a rat warren, appropriately enough for a race of rat-men like the Rattocks. After getting lost for a bit, they made their way to one of the towers. Saw four Humans chained to a wagon like beasts of burden, and four more human slaves unloading big bags of turnips. A rattock wearing a red sash and bearing a whip was whipping the slaves, told them if they didn't hurry up he'd feed THEM to the trolls. Bakra, in a rage, leapt up and gutted the rattock. They hurriedly hid the body in the tower storeroom, then questioned the slaves, who all had conflicting reports on the rumored nature of the Mad Mage, though all agreed that his head was huge and his body was tiny and that he seemed to have many personalities. They also noted that the factory was nearing completion of the army of flying robots for the Mad Mage!
Session 3: Rash, Canthar, and Bakra decided they had to get into the War Machine, so the slaves said they would run a distraction while the three hid among bags of turnips on the next run to the War Machine, which was being provisioned for the coming war. This was successfully done, and while the wagon was making its way up the ramp to the War Machine, Canthar (who knows something about Wizard technomancy) noticed that the War Machine's rotors were assisted in their lift by anti-gravity pods on the bottom of the War Machine... an important point that would come up later.
They were thrown into the supply room, like the bags of turnips they posed as. They were deciding whether to take the Jeffries Tubes or the Air Ducts to get further into the War Machine when a Rattock chef, complete with apron and big white hat, entered the supply room carrying only a big spoon. He barely had time to be surprised before Rash grabbed his neck and twisted it, snapping it like a rotten twig (Nat 20 on that surprise attack). They hid the body among the turnips, then skedaddled into the Jeffries Tube system.
They followed it for a while, crawling further in toward the center. Finally they came out in a small triangular room with tools and parts on the walls. Bakra went to listen at the only door opposite the tube entrance, when to her horror it opened with a "whoosh" and there stood a Rattock, dressed in a jump suit and with tools on a belt. He turned to run back onto a catwalk, and Bakra quickly followed and pushed him off, to fall down a level with a squeal and a thud.
Session 4: In the momentary glimpse that Canthar had of the large room before Bakra rushed back in and they jumped back into the tube, he saw a huge, multi-storied lava-light like device... obviously the Power Generator of the War Machine! But they did not know how many other Rattocks and Trolls might have been there, so they fled. Going all the way back, they passed their original entry and continued on to the corner of the War Machine, where Canthar expected to find the control center/engine for the rotor.
Find it they did, and Canthar looked it over intently, deciding that he could rig it to overload once it was underway, blowing out the rotor and the AG unit, and ideally causing the War Machine to crash. He was just about to rig it so, when one of the doors opened... Rash and Bakra quickly jumped back into the Jeffries Tube "tool shed," (which was like the other one at the other end), but Canthar got caught up on some of the protruding machinery of the engine, as three Engineer Rattocks and a Troll walked in.
Thinking he was dead, Canthar was relieved when the rattocks mistook him for one of "the master's apprentices," and respectfully asked him if they could assist. He waved them off kindly, telling them he was done here, and that they could go about their business. They went to perform their routine maintenance, and as Canthar turned to leave, the troll (who was carrying tools and parts) gave him a strange look. "I thoughts as I knew'd all th' Master's prentices," the Troll said, gruffly and suspiciously. Nervously, Canthar hit the Troll with a hypnotism spell, and convinced him that he was indeed an apprentice, just that he hadn't met him yet. Failing his save spectacularly, the troll nodded agreement, and said, "Pleezed ta meetchya!"
Canthar joined Rash and Bakra in the tube, and they decided to lie low for a while, until the War Machine got underway, and then sabotage the equipment... though they weren't sure how they would get out then, before the thing crashed! They eventually settled on finding a supply cabinet with things that were seldom used by rat-men and trolls, such as soap and other hygiene. They finally noted such a supply room (most rooms on the lowest deck being supply rooms), and were about to enter it when they heard voices coming from it.
There they discovered three apprentices of the Mad Mage in secret conference (seems a good locale to remain undisturbed, indeed). They were contemplating the madness of their master, and the dangers it presented to themselves, especially once the campaign was underway and their services might seemingly no longer be needed. They decided to wait to see how the campaign went before doing anything hasty. One left to tend to business, while the other two discussed the terrible fate of some escaped slaves that had been recaptured in the Citadel. They were chortling about how they were going to torture them and gut them, as their Rattock overseer had been, but far more slowly, when Rash and Bakra burst in and finished them off before they could even act or think. Rash critted one of them with his Star Sword, and took his head clean off (this is not your father's "Saturday Morning" Thundarrverse!)
They decided to hide out in the supply room until the War Machine took off, which it did several hours later. If the Mad Mage or the other apprentice noticed the other apprentices were missing, they didn't check down there, fortunately. Once the War Machine was underway, they waited for a half-hour before acting... then to their horror heard the sounds of bombardment! The campaign against the nearby villages had already begun in earnest! Poor Bakra, with her superior hearing, was having a devil of a time with the ringing sounds of huge weapons going off all around her. They quickly made their way back to the rotor room nearest the supply depot where they entered, hoping that once the War Machine went to ground, they could open the ramp and escape that way.
When they entered the rotor room, they discovered a Rattock engineer; they quickly finished him off, but to their horror, discovered that somehow, they were locked out of the controls that Canthar planned to use to sabotage the rotor and AG module! Putting caution to the wayside, as they saw the village of Dunn being attacked on a nearby viewscreen, Canthar pointed to a spot on the engine and told Rash to strike there with his Star Sword. Lighting arced from the device, and both were singed, but with a whine and many sparks, the engine stopped running and started grinding.
The whole corner of the War Machine dipped drastically, and they all tumbled back and forth in the engine room as the wounded War Machine turned back toward the Citadel while slowly falling from the sky... and failed. It made it about halfway back before it fell to the ground with a resounding crash and a horrible grinding sound that deafened Bakra. They scrambled back into the tube, lest they be caught when engineers arrived to investigate the disaster, and made their way to the supply depot. They were incredibly lucky on the way there, and once they got there, as they failed to have any encounters (the dice were not with me tonight, let me tell you).
They were able to get the ramp open, but only partway, as it got caught up on some ruins... as the War Machine lay atop the southern ruins of the inner Madzone, not far from the shore of the Lake of Lunacy! Fortunately, the ramp stood over mostly solid land, rather than swamp or lake, and they all jumped down the 20 feet or so, with only Canthar getting any bruises from the long jump.
In the gathering darkness, they then saw the helicopter robots in a vast swarm to the south, still attacking Dunn... but then, slowly, they stopped and turned and headed toward the downed War Machine! The trio scrambled through the ruins, hiding here and there, seeking to remain out of sight of the robots... which looked like this:
Fortunately, they were able to avoid the robot's attentions, as the robots took up a wide guard patrol around the downed War Machine. The trio crossed over the southern Madline just east of the ruins of Oddann, and hid out in the nearby forest, taking shelter under an Ancient bus that had been lifted into the air by the trunks of several trees long grown through it. With their supplies back in Dunn (or wherever their steeds were hiding, if they were safe), they got by on some nuts, fruits, roots, and grubs that Rash was able to gather, together with what appeared to hopefully be some fresh water. They were undisturbed during the long night.
The next morning they went to the treeline to find out what was going on with the War Machine and the robots. Things had not changed noticeably since the prior night, though with the full light of day and plenty of time, Canthar was able to count 144 of the flying robots circling above the downed War Machine!
It looks like they have quite a fight on their hands, still...
Heaven had fallen, or at least, half of it. The Gods above were distraught, bereaved, withdrawn, or even comatose… and one of them was dead. A full third of the Angelic Host had left, never to return. Another third were left bereft of hope, confused, and bewildered, wandering without guidance as the remaining Gods sought to save what was left of the Vault of Heaven, with the assistance of the last third of the Angels.
Below, the Great Pit yawned wide and spat lava and death. The World around it was going mad. The horrible, unnatural energies generated by the Fall of Galendar and the collapse of the Twilight-side of the Vault of Heaven caused plants to wither, animals to go berserk, the living to go mad, and the dead to rise. Their energies being drained in their efforts to save the Vault of Heaven, the golden orb of Suliir Sun-King and the silver orb of Iluna Moon-Queen dimmed and darkened, turning day into twilight. Dragons, Dark Elves, Orcs, and Trolls roamed free and caused further chaos and horror.
Upon the World below, the Taur Elthon and the Taur Duarg struggled to keep back the wave of destruction and death. Leihos Elf-Star and Flumon Fey-Moon, united at last against this common threat after long ages of estrangement; but the lights of their stars, day and night, dimmed, too, as they concentrated on saving the Elven realms from the Chaotic onslaught. Twilight turned into night, and save in the forests and meadows of the Elves, darkness reigned.
The first Winter fell upon the World.
Abandoned by their Elven allies, the Dwarves dug deep, when they were not busy digging out of the wrack and ruin caused by the Fall of Galendar and the opening of the Great Pit. Never forgetting an insult or an injury, the Dwarves consider the Elven abandonment of their ancient allies in this time as the First Betrayal.
Chaos reigned below, as above.
The Host of Amdosias, as his Rebel Angel followers now called themselves, retired to the distant wilds of the World, far from the civilized heartlands where Chaos now reigned. There they sought to freed themselves from the mental conditioning of the Gods and open their minds and hearts to their Father, the Dragon Primeval. There they could feel His Presence and His Approval. But He spoke only still to Amdosias; He told the leader of the Rebel Angels that so long as the Gods ruled still in Heaven above, His children could never be free from Their power, that his children could never truly know His Mind, and He could never fully welcome them into His Heart.
Dejected, bewildered, and angered by this news, the Host of Rebel Angels resolved to tear down Heaven with their bare hands, if need be. Together Amdosias and his elite cohort made plans to ally with the Dragons, Dark Elves, Orcs, and Trolls, to use them in diversionary battles to spread out the power of the Gods. They knew now that the Gods could die; thus, if weakened enough and caught alone, they could be slain, one by one, until they were too weak to defend the Vault of Heaven.
His strongest supporters Amdosias sent to the leaders of the Dragons, Dark Elves, Orcs, and Trolls. He also set other Rebel Angels to the gathering of other resources. One Angel named Horkos, the Keeper of Oaths, noticed the walking dead created by the dark energies of the Dead God as he fell unto the World. He quickly sought a way to control these creatures and use them in the coming battle against the Gods and the Angels and mortals loyal to them. Amon, the Hound of Tyrm, sought out the wolves of the wild, and turned them to their cause. Geryon, formerly the quiet and studious Overseer of Contracts, sought out the serpents of the World, the least cousins of the Dragons, and sought to turn them to their cause.
And so it went, as the Rebel Angels prepared to battle the Gods.
In the Vault of Heaven, Qnath and the Loyal Angels, and such Gods as were not in despair, sought to rebuilt and reinforce the remaining portion of the Vault. Sun-Fire and Moon-Light kept the Vault fixed in the skies, but many of the great works of the Gods were undone, many Angels still gibbered in madness at the sight of the Dead God and the Great Pit, and much work was to be done if all was not to be lost when the Rebel Angels attacked.
Many Loyal Angels were sent forth into the World to seek out the Taur Elthon, the Taur Duarg, and the Taur Dracos. While they had little success summoning the Gods of Elves and Dwarves, who were busy protecting their own peoples, among the Taur Dracos they found no few allies willing the answer the summons. Krakentiri and Kabanlari answered themselves, as did 77 Gold Dragons, and the greatest of the Dragon Mages, Katosari. This last sought to hold back the Darkness and Winter. To this end, he gathered together the last remaining shards of the Golden Dragon Orb, that which birthed Krakentiri, fused them with Adamant and Mithral, and bound the whole with the Heartscales of the 77 Gold Dragons who answered the summons. The whole was forged into a great spherical lantern. Each of the dragons present, including Krakentiri and Kabanlari, then breathed fire into the lantern, which burst into silvery-blue flame. Katosari then took the lantern high into the sky, where he placed it in conjunction with the Great-Star and Elf-Star.
The silvery-gold light of the Dragon-Star turned back the Darkness, and the World was no longer draped in Night. But it was still held in the cold grip of Winter…
These events all took place over a period of one month since the fall of the Dead God.
When the first light of the Dragon-Star struck the Vault of Heaven, Tyrm rose from his stupor. Without a word to any other God or the Angels, he set forth from the Vault of Heaven, with the self-avowed purpose of recovering the body of Galendar and, if possible, correcting his grave error. Normally, being a God, there was little threat to him out in the wider World… but now, with one God having died, and the Fall of the Dead God having caused unknown but potent changes in and around the Great Pit, his quest to find the body was not at all certain, nor his fate even if he did find it.
But set out he did, unarmed, for his weapon, the Blade Undaunted, had fallen into the Great Pit and was covered with lava and fire, lost to him forever. Only Qnath marked his departure from the Vault of Heaven. But others noted his arrival in the World below, spies of Amdosias, who quickly reported on his arrival and descent into the depths of the earth near the Great Pit, which still boiled and burbled and spat out lava and strange and terrible fumes.
Amdosias chose this moment for their concerted attack on the forces of the Gods; they would have no better chance to storm Heaven than when the Celestial Warlord was absent from his very own citadel! His allies among the Dark Elves, led by the Daughters of Morda and aided by Amon and his wolves, would attack the Taur Elthon and the Elves. The Orcs, led by Osgdagor himself and aided by Geryon and his serpents, would attack the Taur Duarg and the Dwarves. Such Trolls as could be gathered by the two Worldly forces would add further reinforcements. A Dragon Queen and her followers would reinforce each of the other two forces, while three Dragon Queens and their forces would attack the Vault of Heaven together with the Rebel Angels. Finally, Horkos, who had secured the secrets of Necromancy and Undeath, would take his Army of the Dead and seek out Tyrm himself in the depths below.
The battles raged in Heaven and on the World below for a full month. With Koram still sequestered in his throne room, and Tyrm away on his quest to find Galendar, the defense of the Vault of Heaven is left to Qnath… who is not at all a fighter, though he is an excellent strategist. He places the direct command of the Host of Heaven in the hands of Basiam the Bailiff, who, during this battle, earns well the sobriquet, “The Battle-Axe.” It is with this weapon that he meets and battles, hand to hand, with his former friend, Amdosias, on the very walls of the Vault of Heaven. It is with his battle-axe that he cleaves the Spear of Amdosias in twain. It is with his battle-axe that he shatter’s Amdosias’ helm and knocks him senseless, upon which Bienthe stood above the prostrate form of his leader and commanded the host of Rebel Angels to retreat.
The battles upon the World below go similarly, with the long-drawn out battles ending in the favor of the Gods, but only just barely. The Rebel Angels were unsuccessful in their primary goal, for not a single God was felled in battle, though many took great and terrible wounds, and great numbers of mortal creatures met their untimely end. Kaeron the Artisan, a former assistant of Vislak and one of the Rebel Angels who went mad when he saw the Dead God fall, took an unhealthy interest in assuring the deaths of the enemies of the Rebel Angels, performing a coup de grace with his hammer on them as opportunity permitted. Having consulted with Horkos on the nature of Undeath and Necromancy, he found that his own power grew with every soul he thus claimed…
Meanwhile, in the depths near the Great Pit, Tyrm continued his quest to find the body of Galendar. Passing through vast cavern systems ancient and new, skirting great seas of lava and steaming waters far beneath the earth, there he encountered monsters of nightmare, such that even the Gods knew not existed, had they existed ere the fall of the Dead God. Much to his horror, though, he realized that many of these creatures, warped and terrible as they were, had lived in the great depths long before the Fall of Galendar and the formation of the Great Pit! Between these terrible beasts and the sniping at him from all sides by the undead creatures at the beck and call of Horkos, he determined that he needed a new weapon. Thus he turned to the Great Lake of Fire near the heart of the Great Pit. There he found as shard of Adamant; perhaps, even, a shard shattered from the Roots of the World by the Fall of Galendar. For the first time in the whole age of the World, the Thunder of Tyrm echoed throughout the depths of the underworld. There, at the Heart of the Great Pit, he forged Holy Vengeance, the Blade Imperishable.
With this blade his progress remained steady, as all fell to the flame and thunder of his new weapon. He knew that he was getting close when swarms of Undead fell upon him like rain in a thunderstorm; but all fell to the God of War. He cut through the ranks of foul creatures like a farmer through wheat with a newly-sharpened scythe. He finally reached his goal at the Root of the World… and there discovered horror beyond even his imagination!
For when the Dead God had fallen and struck the Roots of the World, he punched through… not through to Beyond, but through to Somewhere Else. For Tyrm discovered a at the foot of the Great Pit a vast cavern, the limits of which even he, with his Divine sight, could not see. Scattered about the cavern were the shattered remnants of the Twilight-side of the Vault of Heaven. At the heart of the cavern was an abyss… nay, not an abyss, the Abyss, a great rift of unfathomable depths. Lit by the fires of the Forge of Creation, Tyrm saw that he had been beaten to his goal, for there lay the body of Galendar, spread atop the cracked remnants of the Twilight Altar, where once the Gods had met at nightfall for common prayers and rituals of blessing. Around the Altar stood 13 Rebel Angels, led by Horkos in some unholy necromantic ceremony. The Rebel Angels sought nothing less than the animation and control of the Dead God for their own vile purposes!
Tyrm went berserk. Had even the mightiest of the Rebel Angels been there, they too would have been cut down. The countless Undead servants were laid waste; the 12 Rebel Angels in service to Horkos were ripped asunder. Horkos himself survived only by the abandoning the ritual and diving out into the Abyss… Tyrm thought for certain that such was madness, and that he would never see Horkos again, much as he would like to, that he might finish him personally. He would, after a fashion, for though Horkos did not survive the fall into the Abyss, neither did he quite exactly die, either…
Victorious in his recovery of Galendar, Tyrm slung the body of his old friend across his shoulders and began the long journey back to the World above. He failed to see the strange shadows gathering around the fallen Altar, shadows that took on the form of the Dead God… too, he failed to hear the screams of anguish and horror rising from the Abyss, screams that all too soon turned to deep, maniacal sepulchral laughter.
Tyrm reached the World above even as Amdosias was struck low by the Battle-Axe in Heaven above. A full month had passes since the birth of the Dragon-Star, and two months had passed since the Fall of Galendar, the Sundering of Heaven, and the Rebellion of the Angels. The First Winter was in its second month, and wolves, serpents, and undead stalked the World while the forces of battle stopped to rest… for but a brief moment’s time, a fortnight, to mourn their dead and gather reinforcements.
When Tyrm finally arrived in Heaven seven days later, he barely noticed the signs of battle all around the walls of the Vault. As even the Vault of Heaven could not hold the body of the Dead God, he placed it in the hands of seven great Angels, Aeuphes, Solidissere, Rasonaeim, Oechil, Tertraein, Hieriel, and Estarin, who held Galendar lovingly as his body was cleansed and purified by the Angels Andoriel, Celandise, Rapheionas, Athael, Visaein, Honaraeis, and Aesias. Tyrm returned to Koram’s throne room, where he found the King of the Gods still in deep despair. He told the full tale of his quest, and of the forging of the Blade Imperishable, and his battles against the things-that-should-not-be, and of the Abyss he found at the foot of the Great Pit. He called to his attention the fact that neither Heaven nor the World below could hold the body of the Dead God… especially since the Rebel Angels had already tried to desecrate the body to their own purposes.
Koram remained silent and unmoving throughout Tyrm’s tale, until he came to the part about the Rebel Angels and their desecration of the body of the Dead God.
A terrible spark grew in the eyes of the King of Heaven at that moment, and the Adamant of the Throne of Heaven cracked as Sky King gripped its arms in wrath.
What Koram might have said at that moment will remain unknown, as Qnath, who had quietly followed Tyrm into the throne room, then spoke.
“It is not meet that a God should be buried here, in the World. There is but one place for a Dead God… the Realms Beyond, whence We came. We must prepare.”
Koram looked to Qnath, and nodded his assent. Vengeance upon the Rebel Angels would have to wait.
Three days later the Gods gathered in the great square before the Council Hall. There the Seven Bearers and Seven Mourners brought forth the body of Galendar. They carried him, with the whole Host of Heaven and the Gods together, to the edge of the Vault of Heaven, to the nearest point of the Twilight Altar, ere it fell, and all silently stared over the precipice to the darkened World below. Night had fallen, in the twilight realm below, where only the Dragon-Star brought light to the World in the day. And this night, of all nights, was a conjunction of the Three Moons; and with Iluna and Flumon only dimly lit, the power of Rogull, the Dragon-Moon, was at its height, and the darkness below was flooded with his reddish-purple moonlight.
Wordlessly, Qnath and Koram opened a door to the Realms Beyond; through they went, with the Dead God carried by the Seven Bearers and attended by Tyrm and the Seven Mourners. A great honor was this, for no Angel had ever passed into the Realms Beyond. The Unbearable Light of Beyond was dimming in the eyes of the gathered Angels and Gods when, to their horror, they realized that the red glow of the Dragon-Moon was no longer the only source of light, for a new star had risen in the east, a blood-red star, the Morning Star of Amdosias, the Demon-Star.
Great and terrible was the Demon-Star. Nearly of a size with the Great-Star of Suliir, it sought to hold a place of preeminence in the skies above. But it was not a bright star of cheery golden-yellow, nor a merry star of bluish-green, nor a strong star of silver-blue. It was a pulsing, angry, lusty red star of crimsons and rubies, casting all that its light touched in rust and flame. It was forged from the Blood of Amdosias and the Hate and Rage of the Rebel Angels. It caught the Gods and Angels at the nadir of their despair, when their greatest leaders were gone to the Realms Beyond to see to the final disposition of the Dead God. The Demon-Star rose on the 66th day of the First Winter, 66 days after the Fall of Galendar, ten days after Tyrm returned to the World above with Galendar’s body from his quest to the Underworld, and three days after Koram was stirred once again from his melancholy by the terrible tale of Horkos and Galendar in the Underworld.
To be concluded...