Monday, May 8, 2017

Beyonders (+ Some Astral Sailing Stuff)

Space, as you think of it, is composed of two main parts.

There is the Astral Sea, in which all of the planets and solar systems are embedded.  (Light from the Astral "water" doesn't penetrate the ozone layer, but as soon as you leave the planet, you'll see it shining in all its glory, like an ocean of thin, pearlescent mucus.)  Picture a universe filled with thick spiderwebs, and then sailing across the surface of those spiderwebs as if you were a very tiny ship.

<digression>It's not hard for mid-level characters to sail into space.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Equip your ship with both a stormsail mage (collect and shape enough rain as it's falling and you can sail into the sky) and the proper astral sails and you're set.
  • Go to Ba Dwai La, where you can walk to the moon.  Buy a ship and launch yourself off the Last Waterfall, into the Astral Sea.
  • Climb the Cat's Tail to the moon, when it passes overhead.  Buy a ship and launch yourself off the Last Waterfall, into the Astral Sea.
  • Sail to one of the poles, and sail up the chalaza--the twisted string of an ocean that connects the planet to the Astral Sea and the solar system.
Hell, you could do any one of those things before level 3.</digression>

Then there is the Beyond.  It is everything else.

In practice, this means the parts of space that are very far away from the surface of the Astral Sea.  Away from the egg stars and the light-hives.  Nowhere near the mirrored pillars of creation.  Away from the beaconed sea-highway that leads to the Seat of the Authority himself.

There are dead planets.  Cold places where no light has ever shined.

There are the tessuract-ships of liches, who have finally found the peace and quite they could never get on Centerra itself.  Tomb-cities buried deep beneath the crust.

There are elf-seeds.  Impenetrable spheres of runed adamantine, carrying the belongings of some elf lord forward a billion years into his kingdom at the end of time.  They will survive the heat death of the universe, when the elves will return to claim them.  Time machines traveling one hour per hour.  Just fancy luggage, really.

And then there are the creatures that were born out here.  These are the beyonders.

There are many kinds of beyonders, of course.  These are just the ones that are encountered most often in dungeons.

The Beyonders

It is rumored that they are related to the organic satellite-people that orbit Centerra (although the planet is more accurately called Phosma) but this is probably untrue.

Out in the beyond, they look like large hula hoops of flesh and organs.  They're about 60' in diameter.

But your players will probably never encounter them in their native state.  They'll probably encounter them because they rolled a random encounter on dungeon level 6.

So how does a fleshy hoop explore a dungeon?

They do so by creating a portal.

The portal is shaped like a human.  A round, innocuous bubble-shaped human.

They can seal the skin of this portal with something akin to glass.  Which is good, because otherwise they'd just be human-sized holes in space, sucking in crap from all over the dungeon and blasting it into empty space, where some of it would presumably collide with the Beyonder.

When they are walking around a dungeon, they look like a man inside a bubble-suit.  Opaque and dully reflective.

like this, except less shit
At will, they can open up part of their body as a portal and suck stuff in.

They can open up their hand to suck in a coin, and close it smoothly behind it.

If they open up their chest, they can suck in things as large as a human.

They have to be careful with this tactic, though, because anything that gets sucked through is also being shot at their own body, which is a fleshy hula hoop encircling this portal.

They have some telekinesis.  They use this to catch stuff (coins, weapons) and pass them back outside the portal to their bubble-body as they are needed.

Beyonder Bubble Skin
HD 4  AC plate  Space Mace 1d6+1d6 cold
Move as human  Int 10  Mor 4

Immune to non-magical slashing and piercing.

Summon Skin -- Create or remove the glass-like bubble skin that covers the body-shaped portal.  Usually only has a certain patch open at any given time.  Free action.

Portal -- Unless there is bubble skin covering the portal-body beneath, the Beyonder sucks stuff in like a tornado.  5' away = Str check with a -4 penalty.  25' away = Str check.  No effect beyond 30'.  Once you get sucked up, you get a second chance to catch yourself if there is something between you and the Beyonder that you could potentially grab onto.  And yes, if you get sucked through the portal, you can remain conscious for one round while you stab the Beyonder's flesh-body in its stupid flesh-face.

At-will spells:

  • telekinesis
  • teleport up to 10', disappears on one turn, reappears on the next turn. (this is just the Beyonder closing the portal, and reopening it nearby.)

If the bubble skin is broken (or if the Beyonder turns it off), the Beyonder isn't defeated, but it is probably getting smacked in the face by all the stuff that's being sucked through.  Getting bathed in cold air is extremely unpleasant, and most Beyonders won't endure it for more than a couple of turns at a time.

If the bubble skin is broken they can regrow a new one tomorrow.

Beyonder Corpus (the hoop of flesh in space)
HD 2  AC plate  Attacks none
Move *  Int 10  Mor 4

Even if the bubble skin is broken, it isn't immediately obvious that there is a ring of flesh 30' into the portal.  The easiest way to discover this is probably to throw a torch through.

Beyonders aren't stupid, and as soon as they realize their foe has figured out how to damage them, they'll withdraw (which is as simple as closing the portal).  They'll probably come back later.

By the way, they can't teleport their bubble-skin body all over the planet. Whenever they re-open their personal portal, they can only re-open it in the same location where they closed it last time (or at least, within 10' of that point).  This means you can imprison one, as long as the walls are at least 10' thick.

Each Beyonder also keeps 1d3-1 things on hand that they can throw back out their bodies in case things get desperate.

Holdout Weapons [d6]
1. Just a big brick of chlorine.  Quickly evaporates into a gas upon hitting our atmosphere.  As acid cloud.
2. 2d6 legless ghouls.  (Space is full of ancient, insane ghouls.  They're about as common as hailstorms.  Most cut off the unnecessary bits and throw them in order to gain some momentum in space.)
3. Captured light from a dead star.  3d6 necrotic damage, 100000000' cone, save for half.
4. A jet of dust going 400 miles per hour.  Functions as a 30' line of piercing damage that does 3d6 piercing damage each round for up to 3 rounds (as long as the Beyonder concentrates).  Half damage if you succeed on an Armor save.  (Roll your AC like a save.)
5. A lump of lead the size of a VW bug.  Treat this as a melee attack roll (it can't throw the lump very far) with a -4 penalty (it's not very accurate) that does 3d6 damage and pins its target.  The lump is so cold that it sucks the heat out of the room, dealing 1 cold damage on each each subsequent turn for an hour.  Ice will form after 1 minute.
6. A domesticated florgurg.  Just tentacles and teeth.  Sings like a whale being sucked down a garbage disposal.  HD 3  AC leather  Grab/Grab/Bite 1d12.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Wombs and Witch Kites

Crows are the favored pets of witches, and so their kites are made primarily from crows.  They are sometimes confused with smirches (dire crows).

This doesn't have to be the case, of course.  It is said that a witch can make a kite from any flying thing, as long as it loved her and no other.

It is a common misconception to think that they are undead, or that they are somehow mindless.  Although they seem ghastly and otherworldly, they are flesh and blood.

They are only ever constructed by witches, because witches have wombs.

Witches and Wombs

A man cannot be a witch, because he does not have a uterus.  

<digression>There are, of course, exceptions.  

The generative process (the second, vegetable soul) has produced every conceivable arrangement of the sexual organs.  There are rumors of boys born with internal wombs.  And of course, phenotyphical men have gained wombs from certain ecliptic rituals, or from their patrons.</digression>

The Church teaches that while the vagina is sexual, the uterus is spiritual.  After all, it is the womb that receives the soul that is sent by Zulin to populate the body of the developing embryo.  

However you explain it, the uterus is doing an impressive feat: growing and differentiating tissues while simultaneously installing the remaining 5 souls, each installation occurring approximately two months apart.

<digression>This is not how eggs work, which explains their very different properties.</digression>

<digression>Growth, by itself, it not impressive.  Even stones will grow at the proper confluence of leylines, and they only have the first soul--the mineral soul.  This is where mountain ranges come from.  See also: Round Mountain.</digression>

The part of the uterus that collects the incipient soul is called the perimetrium.  This is why different sexual positions can affect the nature of the resultant creature--different positions affect the sacred geometry of the perimetrium, which likewise affects the characteristics of the souls it is able to attract (or retain).

For example, it is known that those conceived in the rear mount position are predisposed towards shamelessness, vandalism, and scurvy.  This is why the Church discourages it.

There is even the chance of entrapping 'souls' that are not human souls at all, and are incompatible with the other souls and tissues.  These are spirits, demons, angels, and all the sundry pseudofauna of the ethereal plane.  Accidental incorporation is the prime cause of stillbirths and birth defects, and it is why such things are quickly burned and buried.

More than any of the body's organs--except for the brain--the uterus touches on the ethereal plane.

A uterus is an immensely powerful tool in the hands of a witch.  Like all tools, it can be turned from its original purpose (receiving godly souls sent by Zulin) and towards darker intentions.  It can be a net used to capture spirits.  It can be a sieve to sift through them.  It can even be a garrote, or a scalpel.

This is why so many hags and witches choose to grow larger: more room for more uteruses.  The witches that are most successful at this endeavor are able to achieve thousands of conceptions in their lifetimes, and hundreds of births.  Souls and newborns are powerful currency to witches.

And that is why you will often find hundreds of infant skeletons beneath the floorboards of a witch's house.  

not a witch kite, but cool anyway
from the Space Cowboy
Witch Kites

They were crows before their consumption and second birth.  Now they are something else.  They've been shuffled.  A little less crow, a little more human, a little something else the crept in around the edges, like a tree root into a cracked pipe.

They look like four-winged crows with large amounts of black hair woven into their feathers.  Crows with weaves.  Their wings are long and finely articulated--feathers can be individually shifted.  A normal crow can move its wing the way a human moves their foot, a witch kite can move its wings like a human moves their hands.

They have no legs, and so they cling to the sides of trees with their tiny talons, or hang upside down from ceilings.  

Their wings do not touch the air.  Instead they fly by shifting their wings to catch different etheric (intangible) currents.  It's similar to how a ship angles its sails to catch the wind, except in this case there are multiple, overlapping, non-interfering winds.

It looks a bit like a four-winged bird rapidly alternating between yoga poses.

And each pose catches a different etheric wind, throwing the bird in another direction, or with a different type of angular acceleration.  Open all four wings wide, face vertical, and the bird can hover.  They don't travel fast, but no other flyer can change direction as fast as them.

They do not eat, and instead sustain themselves by watching meat decay.  The larger the decay, the faster they are fed by watching it.  

A day's worth of sustenance might be gained by watching an elephant rot for 10 minutes, or a full 8 hours of a weasel slowly bloating in the sun.

Witch Kite
HD 1  AC chain  Atk none
Move as hawk  Int 6  Mor 6

Shadow -- When a witch kite's shadow passes over you, you take damage at the end of the witch kite's next turn.  The damage manifests as scratches on your most vulnerable body parts, as if delivered by an enormous crow's talons.  The amount of damage depends on the light.

Sunlight: 1d6 non-lethal
New moon: 0 damage
Partial moon: 1d6 lethal
Full moon: 1d10 lethal

Suicidal Impulses -- If a witch kite flies under a creature's legs, that creature must save or attempt to kill itself as quickly as possible.  This usually takes two rounds (one round to fuck yourself up, and another to finish the job) unless that person isn't carrying weapons for some reason.  A person gets a save at the start of each round (beyond the first) to end the effect.  An animal (or someone with animal-level intelligence) gets a save at the start of each hour, instead.

Tactics: Witch kites like to fly higher than arrow range.  They like to use their suicidal impulse ability against a party's animals (since donkeys don't get to make attacks of opportunity).


Witch Kite Cloak
When flared, this cloak launches you upward at 50' per round.  It offers no protection against falling.

Adamantine Ouroboros Necklace
This 5' length of steel chain is as thin as a piece of string.  There is a carved serpent head at each end.  When the two heads are brought together, they bite each other's jaws and lock together.  They cannot be separated except by thing capable of breaking adamantine.  One command word causes the jaws to unlock.  Another command word causes the necklace to each itself, severing whatever it is attached to and causing itself to disappear.