Sunday, August 31, 2014

Treasures of the Long Halls

Here are 3 treasures that you can find in the Long Halls of Luroc.

Casket of Brealough

Common Knowledge: The Casket of Brealough is full of ghosts what'll smite yer enemies.

Rare Knowledge: Pajranwald the Bashan suffered the loss of all his forces after the unsuccessful siege of the monastery of Gemba the Squeamish.  After this setback, Pajranwald was forced to find a new method to challenge his rival.  Towards this end, he quested for the Casket of Brealough, a goal which he ultimately attained.  Upon opening the box, Gemba the Squeamish was struck with a sudden change of heart, and immediately ceased his oppression of the Bashan people, disbanded his army, and distributed most of his wealth to the poor.

DM Knowledge: The Casket of Brealough is an artifact with the power to completely rewrite your campaign.  When the Casket is opened, the darkness inside seems to swallow up the whole universe.  The person who opened the casket now switches roles with their worst enemy.  The opener's close allies (the other PCs) are likewise switched with the nemesis' lieutenants.

The memories/intentions/personalities of the people who switched are preserved, but the rest of the world is rewritten as if it was always that way.  Change as few things as possible.  The character sheets, for example, should stay the same.

The villain, now that they are sitting in your shoes, will probably realize what has happened and will probably make plans to kill you and/or recapture their old position.  Remember, they probably know all the secret paths into your new castle--and you probably don't.

Example: Alice has tracked down the Casket to defeat the evil necromancer Bob.  Upon opening the Casket, Alice is briefly dazed, but then quickly notices that all of her companions (the other PCs) clothing has suddenly turned black, and now has a definite skull motif.  Disappointingly, there is no sign of the Casket.  Weird.  As the PCs leave the dungeon, they notice a bunch of necromantic minions standing guard by the dungeon entrance, watching outward.

Alice draws her sword but the ghouls are like, "Mistresssss, have you found what you were looking for?  Are you injured?"

Alice is like, "What."

The ghouls are like, "We must return quickly to the Black Tower before Sir Bob reaches it with his company of Mighty Heroes.  They intend to crucify you, mistress!"

Alice is like, "What."

The ghouls are like, "Also we're hungry and bored.  Let's go, mistress."

Sheet Music for the Empty Aria

Much like the Pamphlets of Avool, the Empty Aria is apparently a non-magical piece of paper that creates an extraordinary result.  (The process by which a non-magical thing creates something magical is still not understood.  It is also possible that the Empty Aria is just a subtler form of magic that only seems non-magical, or something else entirely.  (The process by which a non-magical wizard memorizes a magical spell is another example of non-magical materials producing a magical result, so there is some precedent here.)

The Empty Aria is a 11-minute song written for a single singer, optionally with violin accompaniment.  The song is technically demanding and crosses several octaves, so that only the best singers can perform it successfully.

When sung correctly, the singer dies halfway through the song.  However, the voice does not--the song continues with the disembodied voice filling the air.

Different experiences have been reported.  Some claim that the singer's voice takes on a melancholy tone, or a triumphant one.  Others say that the voice becomes impossibly loud and inhumanly beautiful.  And yet others say that the song differs drastically from what is written on the page.

Any listeners get +2 to save versus death effects, forever.

The accompanying violinist, if any, loses their voice but becomes forever immune to death effects.  Since the violin parts of the Empty Aria are equally demanding, a talented violinist is also required.

The Metasyntactic Hammer

The Metasyntactic Hammer is difficult to describe.  It is, obviously, a hammer, but it is also an undefined object.  It occupies an incomplete idea-space in the universe.  It's a semiotic blur.  Instead of existing as an actual, physical object, it merely a set of symbols that code for a hammer.  A semiotic blur.

At any given time, the metasyntactic hammer can function as either a hammer or the last tool that it was touched.  If it last touched a rope, it can be used to rappel down a wall.  If it last touched a knitting needle, it can be used to make a scarf.

This is not a transformation, but rather a redefining of what the object actually is.  In addition to it's new, redefined uses, it can always function as a hammer.

Reality flexes to accommodate these new definitions, but in the case of clear and irreducable paradoxes, terrible things have been known to happen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Long Halls of Luroc

Normally, the pictures I post are all unrelated.
But the Long Halls are huge, weird, and old.
There could be anything in there.  Anything.  Even this.
In the karst hills west of Kelzonn (kell-ZAWHN), there is a dungeon known as the Long Halls of Luroc (LOO-rock).  Or at least, that's where it was last reported.  It moves around sometimes.

an exorcism
Luroc the Architect

About 800 years ago there was a powerful spellcaster named Luroc.  This wizard was also known as the Architect, and built many incredible things under the earth and atop it.  Truthfully, that's really all we know about Luroc.  Origin, history, gender--all unknown.

Luroc loved to build.  He or she built not for any king, master, or end, but instead built for the sake of building.  Luroc studied only one thing: construction.  An enormous amount of intellect and effort went towards this singular goal.  Rumors claim that Luroc never slept, and instead sat and waiting, staring at the eastern horizon while waiting for the sun to rise.  And when the new day came, Luroc would rise and begin carving out dungeons.

Descriptions of Luroc vary.  Some say he was a brown-robed cenobite.  Others say that she was a beautiful woman who hid inside a small, fluffy sphere of cloudstuff.  Personally, I believe he was a giant badger.

Luroc was immensely powerful.  A castle could be raised in a day; a tunnel network, hours.  Luroc was also an anarchist, and despised both kings and religions.  While direct actions were sometimes taken against both of these sources of authority, Luroc was also very diligent about making sure that his abandoned creations could never be used toward a political or military purpose.  (Luroc was a pacifist.  Or at least, he abhorred laws and armies.)

And so such constructions were always in remote and/or useless locations.  An alpine castle built four miles above sea level, where inhabitance was impossible.  A desert coliseum, sitting 100 miles from any other settlement or water source.  Alternatively, a construction might be made impractical or unusable. A maze of tubes built atop 40' stilts. A mansion with 80 sealed rooms and not a single door.

Luroc was occasionally invited into cities in order to construct some public utility (a well, a hospital, or monument).  These invitations ceased when it was discovered that everything he built had some secret message encoded into it, always subversive and critical to government.

Everything we know about Luroc we learned from studying his or her constructions, each of which contains messages.  Luroc was a philosopher and a builder, and just as a potter leaves fingerprints on the wet clay, so did Luroc cover the walls with messages.  Many of his biographers (who have had to travel the world to view the many sites) believe that it was not a intentionally outpouring of hypotheses and political thought, but instead the workings of a rabid mind (possibly caused by the underproduction of mucus within the sinuses).

DMs: Use Marx or Rawls or whatever.

Later in life, Luroc took apprentices, who lived a life of privation and hardship.  While Luroc could topple a city wall with a wave of his hand, he or she suffered from starvation, parasites, and mania.  The apprentices moderated some of these effects by sharing food (as well as fleas).  There wasn't much they could do about his "frenzies", nor his long depressions.

Some of Lurocs apprentices went on to become powerful wizards in their own right.  Pashadeen the Inventrix, who invented the elephant and the Five Useful Beasts.  Taimor the Sky-bringer, who discovered air.  Goorum the Fat, who ate Taimor after a dispute involving a stolen cat.  And most notoriously, Vega, who made monsters: the World Maggot, the churtok horrors, and even the lowly yoblins.

Anyway, as all mortals die, so did Luroc.  Probably.

The Dungeon Without an Address

The Long Halls exist as negative space.  Each room is a bubble that travels through the earth without discovering it.  A shadow in the stone.  People call it a dungeon, but really it is better described as a motley correction of wandering rooms that tumble through the earth like a flock of sheep.

Technically, they are an overlapping instantiation of an alternate volume of spacetime.  When the rooms move through earth, they do not disturb it.  When a room moves beneath you, it doesn't risk collapse.  In fact, once famous incident involves a Fangolian shepherd who fell into the Quartz Courtyard when it suddenly yawned open beneath him, like a sinkhole.  (His name was Yakon, and his account of the Long Halls is one of the most complete.)

While some of the rooms in the Long Halls are believed to have been created by Luroc in his or her lifetime, some of the rooms are clearly stolen from other places around the world.  A curxioun opium den, a veldish minaret, about 2/3 of a Shangalore library. . . the list goes on and on.  Famously, the Long Halls also include the king's bed chamber, from what was formerly Ummadiada Castle.  (When King Diadarus discovered the theft, he spent two nights pacing his hallway and demanding it's return, which was now 50' shorter than the hallway in the floor beneath it.  Eventually, sappers were brought in to tunnel in through the walls, which resulted in the Ummadiada Tragedy.

<digression> A non-Euclidean void is when you have a cube.  From the outside, the walls have area and the cube seems to have a volume.  But from the inside there is no volume because there is no space.  A vacuum is a void within air.  A non-Euclidean void is a void within space.  And like vacuums (and other non-Euclidean spaces, pt 1, pt 2) it exerts a "pressure" on the surfaces of its environment.  In the case of a non-Euclidean space, this pressure is exerted on the fabric of space-time.  When the perimeter is collapsed, something analogous to explosive decompression can occur. </digression>

While the rooms are technically non-Euclidean, they have a constant volume and familiar dimensions.  However, the hallways are pure madness.

The hallways are always linear, with a room on each end and no other doors in the middle.  They exist outside of space-time.  Some are believed to be infinite (at least, one exploratory party travelled 60 miles down one before turning back) or have strange quirks of gravity.  One hallway might resemble a mine shaft.  Another hallway might be appropriate for a palace.

The Long Halls of Luroc famously infiltrated Djanza Town during the 933 TFM rebellion.  The authorities never noticed the small tea shops and ragseller's shanties that sprung up overnight within the city, but the rebels quickly learned that the new buildings interiors were much larger than their exterior indicated, and that they were full of useful weapons (which were quickly put to use).

The new buildings--extrusions of the Long Halls--disappeared overnight once the fort was captured, taking several people with them.

this dude totally hangs out in the long halls
The Dream Badger

<digression> I really should write a real post about the Dreamscape (instead of this shitty thing).  Basically, it's like the internet (you can pretend to be anyone, leave messages), except you connect to it by doing the right drugs and going to sleep, and it's only accessible during the full moon.  This is the only form of long-distance communication in Centerra (no sending spells).  People who do this professionally are called moontalkers, and they sleep like, 23 hours a day.

Basically, whenever a person dreams, it's like they're getting on their computer and playing a video game.  But sometimes random people accidentally access the Dreamscape, which is like logging into an MMO.  This is why people try to stay sober during full moons--to minimize the chance of slipping into the Dreamscape and experiencing a Weird Fucking Death.  This is also why some people try to get extra drunk/high during the full moon.  </digression>

The dungeon known as the Long Halls of Luroc is present in the Dreamscape.

This isn't unheard of.  Sentient weapons are often present in the Dreamscape, and for many of them, this is the only direct way they have of making their voices known.  A few animals frequent the dreamscape as well.  Foxes are notorious dreamwalkers.  (Claims that foxes can travel through dreams, however, and unsubstantiated.)  There's even a fish that resembles a bulbous goldfish that can enter the Dreamscape.

Anyway, the Long Halls of Luroc exist in the Dreamscape.  The dungeon appears as a giant badger, who can always be found atop the (the Dreamscape version of) Hungry Mountain, in (the Dreamscape version of) Asria.

The giant badger evinces all of Luroc's personality traits, and even claims to be Luroc.  It's moods range from grumpy and unhelpful to insane.  However, it knows a great deal about the Long Halls.  If any adventurer's want to find that dungeon, talking to the badger would be a good start.  If the badger likes you, it may even send a room to pick you up.

Most scholars believe that the badger is not actually Luroc, but instead of some daemon or spell construct.  The only immortal things in the world are elves and liches, and Luroc was neither.

When someone says "a wizard did it", they are usually talking about Luroc, who was responsible for over 200 weird dungeons scattered across Centerra, frequently in remote or impossible places (like a castle jutting 90 degrees sideways out from a cliffside).  Some of these dungeons have been co-opted towards a new purpose.  As a DM, you'll never need to justify another weird dungeon again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Black Pyramid of Khalgorond

Pictured: Centerra
Highlighted: Abasinia
In the land of Abasinia, they have no kings.  This is why.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fungal Giants + Moss Men + Disease Rules

Fungal Giants

Fungal giants are rare.

Fungal giants grow spontaneously from marshy ground.  At first only the top of their head is visible, resembling a normal mushroom, but over the course of the next 9 months, the giants head will grow to full size until it is a broad, fungal dome.  The rest of the giants body is underground, and when it is fully grown, it will emerge and begin walking.

Fungal giants walk until their deaths.  From birth, they are intelligent and talkative.  Their minds are filled with thoughts and knowledge that they have absorbed from the last 9 months.  Depending on the surrounding communities, they might be craven or honorable, bold or gossiping.

Fungal giants have only one goal: death.  The will walk to the location where they think they'll do the most good, fall over, and burst.  This location-goal depends on what sort of thoughts they've been absorbing the last 9 months.  If the largest nearby settlement is a human town, the fungal giants usually grow up to be petty and distractable, they will inflict themselves on the human city out of spite.

Sometimes they can be convinced to chill out, and not suicide themselves on a village, but this is difficult to do.  Everyone has a different story about how to calm giants down: riddles, sympathy, proof that humans are good and happy creatures, etc.

When a fungal giant walks into town, it usually shouts out everyone's secrets (which it remembers from its gestation), walks into the town square, and collapses in a cloud of nacreous spores and piles of differently colored dusts, like a spicemonger's cart.

All humans within 1000' must save or contract shambleman's fever (see below).  Furthermore, after 3 days, the body will spawn fungal creatures.  Use any sort of fungal creature you want, but I'm fond of shriekers (2 HD, shriek has 2-in-6 chance of attracting a wandering monster), spitters (shriekers that spit acid, 30' range, 2d4 damage), and snappers (shriekers that bite for 1d8, and surprise on a 4-in-6).

Clearing all of the fungal giant detritus will take 1000 hours of labor just to move it out of town (it's too damp to burn unless dried, which doubles the labor).  Until the location is clear, the area will be filled with a solid yellow haze of spores.  If it is not cleared, the location will usually remain as a fungal oasis for 2d20 years, and draw all sorts of strange inhabitants.

HD 20
AC 10
Stomp +5 (2d8) or Swat +5 (2d6 + grab) or Throw +5 (2d8, 100')
Move 12
Morale 12

Fungal giants recover 1 HP per round.  Each time a fungal giant recovers enough HP to bring it back to full HP, it's HP increases by 1, as its flesh heals in such a way as to become fluffier.  It cannot raise its HP higher than 250 in this way.  Fungal giants hate suffering damage.

Fungal giants' bodies are too wet to be flammable.  Only their heads are dry enough to burn.  Damage done to their head will not regenerate.  A PC can climb onto their head: this takes two turns, and the PC must make a successful Str or Dex check on each turn.  Once on their head, a PC gets +2 to hit and damage.

Moss Men

MOSS MEN (a.k.a. Shagbacks, Green Shamblers, Shamblers, Sammies)
HD 2
AC 6
Throw Moss +2 (30', 0 damage, after one turn: 1d8 damage + disease)
Move 6
Morale 6
Int 6

Moss men are 4' tall and resemble a mixture between a slouching, lumpy humanoid and a mountain of leftover spinach.  They shuffle around, eating anything, and rely on predators not seeing through their camouflague.  In a swampy area, they look like just another pile of sludgy moss on a log, and surprise on a 5-in-6.

They are not hyperaggressive, and would rather let healthy adventuring parties move on past them.  They'll only rouse themselves if the party looks injured, a person is travelling alone, they have an opportunity to corner their prey, or they are attacked.

If they were formally human, they will mumble and slur out half-remembered words and phrases during combat.  (Ex. "Good day, go'od day sah, intrust yu inna purchazz?")  If a moss men is ever submerged in water, it disintegrates and dies.

Moss men are capable (and fond) of joining together in a continuous "carpet" of bodies.  They lose no abilities when in a carpet, and joining/leaving is a free action.  When they form a carpet, pool their HP together.

When moss men attack, they are literally throwing parts of their body at you.  They take 1 damage whenever they attack.  On a hit, a quivering lump of mossy sludge sticks to the target.  If the sludge is still attached 1 turn later, it burrows into the skin, dealing 1d8 damage and the target must save or be infected with shambleman's fever.  If they spend their whole turn doing it, a person can scrape off one of their own lumps automatically, or pull one off an ally with a Dexterity check.

Shambleman's fever does 1d6 Dex damage.  A person who succumbs turns into a moss man.

Rules for Diseases
Once you're infected:
  1. Make a Constitution check at the start of every day.
    • If you fail it, you take the stat damage indicated.
    • If you pass it, you get +1 to all subsequent Con checks against this disease.
    • If you pass 2x in a row, you're cured.
    • Rest and medical care can give you a bonus on this check.
  2. You automatically fail the first day's constitution check--this is sort of represented by the save you made when you first risked contracting the disease.
  3. Stat damage recovers at 1 point/day, but only after you're cured.