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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-19 05:03 PM

Thorn-Elk Riders of Lesser Oq

Entry 494, chapter titled, "On why Lesser Oq is larger than Greater Oq, and on our encounter with the Thorn-Elk Riders." wherein we learn to fear impalement while studying an incredible animal, and how no traces of Mhug-Atla'r presented themselves in these parts to Barbo.

Lesser Oq, that great expanse of forest and tundra, which lies just south of Greater Oq, the endless wasteland of ice, held many curiosities we longed to investigate, among others, were the Thorn-Elk Riders, a strange tribe which had managed to tame and even breed a truly dreadful creature.

We were not disappointed. Barbo smelled them miles before their approach, and we both marveled at their primeval appearance, as they neared. The elks were huge, ashen gray and speckled black, with twisted and towering crowns of antlers. Their unique features were two-fold we soon learned. Firstly, they were covered head to hoof with bony, sharpened spikes, or thorns, which erupted from their stinking, saggy hides. Their backs, upon which their riders sat in saddles, were the only area of their bodies not sprouting vicious, wicked spikes and razor-sharp protrusions, some only inches long, some extending several feet from their bodies, like horns, oily to the touch. Their loose leathery skin seemed to grow around these many thorns, hinting to me at least, that these creatures were natural and not arcane in origin. The points of all these spikes and thorns were wickedly sharp.

Secondly, the Thorn-Elks possessed carnivorous teeth, which were sharp as fangs. This proved disconcerting. Not even dear Barbo, so fond of random, spirited skirmishes, wanted any part of facing one of these elks in battle. No doubt that even the fiercest of cave-bears or snow lions, avoided these demonic ungulates. Attacking one physically would in fact prove suicidal, and any predator with a sense of self-preservation, would not come close. The creature could spear you with its mighty antlers, impale you upon its many spines, and sink its wolf-like jaws into your flesh. Quite the trifecta.

This begged my next question, as to the natural enemies of the elks. The Riders laughed and told us that the thorn-elks had no natural enemies, for all creatures feared them. When I asked as to the Thorn-Elk's diet, the Riders laughed even harder, but did not answer the question. Barbo then asked slyly, why the Riders had not yet taken over the world with such dreadful mounts as these, and they took his question literally and seriously, explaining the breeding cycles of the elks, which basically boiled down to only one or two elks being born every so many years, even with the Riders' skills at husbandry. The Thorn-Elk (thankfully!) were not prolific beasts.

The riders themselves proved to be a rather aloof if ordinary folk, subsisting on the tundra's few blessings, hunting the terrain astride their fearsome and gruesome elks.

I learned, while questioning the folk over bronze cups of butter tea, inside one of their magnificent yurts, that drinking the boiled urine of a thorn-elk bestowed upon the drinker extraordinary powers of sexual prowess and eternal erections. Having heard this same song in a hundred other lands, I was dubious. Barbo snorted, insisting he didn't need to drink "porcupine-deer piss" to slow him down. Harsh words were exchanged, and only barely did I manage to extend our stay, and keep our heads, with quick and loose diplomacy.

The next day Barbo asked our hosts if he could ride one of the Thorn-Elks, and was refused. With that, we left the Riders of Lesser Oq behind.

Though in our travels we often find that creatures rarely turn out as impressive as they sound through talk and tales, the Thorn-Elks left upon us a lasting impression. Truly incredible beasts, though for all appearances, demonic entities from some nether realm of iniquity.

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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-20 10:40 PM

Golden Toad of Pagh-Ti Temple

Entry 614, chapter titled "Across the Sea in exotic Wu-Saban" wherein we learn of queer local customs, visit a temple, meet a peculiar toad, and where Barbo thinks he has finally caught up to the Mhug-Atla'r, only to realize that it has eluded him still.

We had to reach Wu-Saban by ship, and so Barbo spent the voyage hacking his bile into the sea. The dwarf was not fond of water travel.

Once disembarked, our first stop along Wu-Saban's Onyx Road was the quaint town of Pagh-Ti. Here we were warmly greeted by the local populace and offered the finest of hospitalities.

On the second day, we were taken to their temple and shown a huge golden toad, which proceeded to ignore us.

Barbo looked unimpressed and even I was unsure of what to say, but then the priest informed us that the toad vomitted gold. Needless to say I was dubious, Barbo just laughed, but the high priest petted the golden amphibian, scratching its head as if it was some loyal dog, and lo and behold, the toad opened its maw and spat out gold chunks!

I know what you may be thinking happened next. Barbo took his trusty axe to the necks of the locals, while I grabbed the grotesque, little yellow miracle, and together we high-tailed it out of Pagh-Ti, dreaming of riches...

No, we did no such thing. Instead I inquired as to this weird creature's nature. The priest spoke riddles back to me, mentioning something called the Sea of Dirt, bait in the form of gold coins on a string, a mighty general of ages past, and other esoterica I could barely follow.

Then Barbo, bless his bluntness, asked the high priest why no one as of yet, had stolen this fantastic gold-making frog from the temple and the people of Pagh-Ti. And why, he further inquired, were not the Pagh-Ti people, the richest in all the lands?

The high priest demurred, but later an inn-keeper explained this weird creature to us further. Apparently the golden toad inside the temple was a fake, its gifts of gold a parlor trick, and the real Golden Toad, he insisted, resided safely and secure, hidden from all, in some cave nearby, and only used sparingly by the villagers whenever gold was actually needed. Not too much gold at any one time mind you, but just enough. He winked. The people of Pagh-Ti had no intention of attracting the attention of the Wu-Saban Imperium and its avaricious eunuchs, with their gold-gifting miracle toad.

This still made little sense to me.

Barbo meanwhile, kept asking everyone he encountered, as to where he might be able to find the real Golden Toad. Just to have a look, and maybe a quick pet.

This tale becomes more political and philosophical rather than biological and ecological if I continued it, so I will stop writing of this mysterious beast instead.

Barbo and I left Pagh-Ti none the wiser, and still confused. A toad made of gold, which ate gold, and regurgitated gold back twice-fold. Or so we were told. I hesitated in adding this entry to my journal. On the other hand, the people of Pagh-Ti all looked quite happy, and were constantly smiling. Who knows.

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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2015-07-10 11:04 PM
No doubt they did. Go to Comment
Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2015-07-29 09:56 PM

Thanks axle! And I'd love it if you added a tale or two of your own.

I should probably add that inspiration sprung from the bizarre critters in Moonlake's mythological Chinese life-forms series of subs.

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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2016-01-12 10:50 PM

No! No way!!! :P

Of course you can!

(just make sure Din-Bak is always dry and "droll" and Barbo is always direct and "irreverent." :) )

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Din-Bak and Barbo's Bestiary
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2016-08-04 08:18 PM
Place-Holder: Man-headed goat (and Goat-headed man.) Go to Comment
Society/ Organizations  (Mystical)   (Trans World)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-17 10:38 AM
A truly enjoyable read. A window into our own humanity's future? The verisimilitude of the virtual reality experience and the effects thereof described here is awesome (and yugen!). And of course, the Japanese.
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Legendary Chinese Bows
Items  (Ranged Weapons)   (Combat)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-18 03:25 PM

The names of the bows are glorious! As far as use/utility, keep the names, change/adapt the lore how you see fit, and presto, the bows are transplanted to whatever your world/genre you like.

I do enjoy these compilations.

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Legendary Chinese Bows
Items  (Ranged Weapons)   (Combat)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-18 03:27 PM
I also feel strangely compelled to write up the "Shadow Ox" and "Thorn-Elk" life forms. Go to Comment
Legendary Chinese Bows
Items  (Ranged Weapons)   (Combat)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-19 02:03 AM
I managed to blurb both, shadow and swallow :D

But yeah, I think that quite a few of these bows, and harmless (or otherwise) creatures, and so on, that just have a few evocative sentence descriptors to them, beg to be expanded upon. Go to Comment
Universe 26
Plots  (Crisis)   (Campaign)
Murometz's comment on 2017-02-20 01:37 PM

Thanks manfred, for the bump and thoughts. Another great read here, Scras!

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The Electric Mind
Lifeforms  (Constructed)   (Any)
Murometz's comment on 2015-07-02 04:10 PM
Followed the Maw link to Cymeks here, to see what they are exactly, and i love the multiple meanings of the term, as well as the description. Could be an insult, could be mis-used, could be help for traumatized brains, not just straight-up "enhancers", etc Go to Comment
Han Yu (Cold Jade)
Items  (Art and Music)   (Magical)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-11 09:17 PM
I love the flavor text here as well. I can sort of "hear" it playing, based on hearing similar-looking instruments played in movies. The only thing that slightly bothers me (very very minor nit-pick) is the switching from "the author" to "Moonlake" to "I" throughout the piece. Love the lore and the peculiar side effect.

Question: if used in warm climate (tropical or sub-tropical) settings how would this side-effect work as far as the elementals? Would it be obsolete?

Love your Chinese-inspired subs!

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Shuang Gu Jian (Double Branched Sword)
Items  (Melee Weapons)   (Combat)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-11 09:25 PM
Quite familiar with the 3 Kingdoms lore (especially the bad rep of Cao Cao), so it's great to see this written up in an entertaining and concise manner. As mentioned the weapon seems secondary, but I see what you mean with fitting the Quest. Favorite part (aside from the tales!) is that the sword requires faith and belief. Go to Comment
Iron Muse
Items  (Wand/Staff/ Arcane)   (Villanous)
Murometz's comment on 2015-06-11 02:40 PM

What val said, plus love the "Ye olde complex sorcery" feel to the process and result.

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Ulysses Crane
NPCs  (Major)   (Criminal/Espionage)
Murometz's comment on 2015-05-30 11:13 AM
I like him. Doesn't hurt that I keep picturing Andy Serkis as I read this. Good non-ultimate adversary. Just enough angst and issues, but nothing too unbelievable or over the top. Go to Comment
The Fleshspikes
Items  (Melee Weapons)   (Magical)
Murometz's comment on 2015-05-28 01:57 AM

Interesting. I hate using that word but there you have it. So these are iron spikes on long thin chains? Or more "meteor hammers" or "death-birds" of Chinese inspiration? We learn nothing of the weapons really.

I enjoyed the tale however! Quite grr martin-ish, particularly with some of the phrasing and pace. The weapon itself seems secondary to the story. But as you said, to be continued, so I'll wait...

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Lifeforms  (Ethereal)   (City/ Ruin)
Murometz's comment on 2015-05-26 11:55 AM

Nice! This really has the feel of an old-fashioned undead "monster" (and I mean that as a positive) and yet the "old man" thing is an original nuance. I take it you were inspired by some muttering curmudgeon you encountered in your travels? :)

Seamlessly fits into an "army" of various undead, sent against PCs, the white-haired, gray-skinned floating spectral head is a great visual.

Finally, knowing that the head was recently someone's grandpa is a macabre touch. "Noooo! Gramps!!"

What exactly does "ghost-flame" do?

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The Baitala of Palibantan
NPCs  (Mythic/ Historical)   (Travelers)
Murometz's comment on 2015-05-22 04:09 PM
Well written tale. You know what's coming but the suspense is still effective. Big fan of Hindi mythology, so nice to see this spirit creature used in game.

Is Baran just hungry at the end, or...? :)

The GM note is a nice touch, neatly explaining how you used this, and how else it can be used. Go to Comment
A compendium of different Chinese ranking systems
Articles  (Resource)   (Gaming - In General)
Murometz's comment on 2015-05-24 12:35 AM
So useful. Good! Go to Comment
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Join Now!!

       By: Michael Jotne Slayer

As the PCs cross a brigde/tree over a deep river they see the glimmer of gold and jewels lying at the bottom. At further inspection they notice that it is the skeleton of a man still holding on to a sack of treasure. Will the PCs try to dive to get it? What killed the man? Did he simly not let go of the bag he could not swim to the surface with? What cleansed his bones so? Are there flesh-eating beings that dwell in the deep? Can the players resist the chanse of being wealthy for once?

Encounter  ( Any ) | July 5, 2004 | View | UpVote 2xp