The Breaking Wheel (Catherine's Wheel)
The victim is lashed upon a large wheel, with joints in paritcular places. They are then beaten with clubs, which combined with the pressure points of the spokes easily break bones and joints. The rubbery usless limbs are threaded through the spokes, and the wheel is placed up high for the victim to die of dehydration days later while being pecked at by birds. Mercy may be extended by strangulation of the victim after several blows, or a coup de grace.
A seventeenth-century chronicler wrote the victim looked like, "A sort of huge screaming puppet writhing in rivulets of blood, a puppet with four tentacles, like a sea monster, of raw, slimy and shapeless flesh mixed up with splinters of smashed bones."
This device is the opposite principle of the Duke of Exeter's daughter, more commonly known as the rack, and was created for the Tower of London as the rack was too difficult to move up and down the stairs. Instead of stretching the body, the victim is forced into a compressed kneel and the clamp tightened.
I like the idea of this as a sort of treasure hunt, a way to encourage players to explore places more thoroughly than they otherwise would. The submission needs some polishing, some sentences don't read as clearly as they should and some words didn't get spell-checked (libaries, buchered). I think the backstory could be more detailed as to why they were so interested in secrets in the first place, but the core idea is solid.
Small. Functional. Usable. A little on the cliche side with the woe is me. Would prefer it be subsumed into a single submission about the three since there is no point in putting one in the game without the other two.
How could anyone not pick up on that pun?
This is a damn good undead, and a great submission. Skeletons and zombies are for pansy necromancers, to try and control one of these is true nectomantic power - but one doomed to failure. I agree with others, I dislike things that are truly invincible unless it's the terrasque. There can be only one! (Invincible thing, that is. Something has to be on top and it's sure not the gods.) The comments on this submission are great too, giving a lot of good food for thought. This community is simply awesome.
Practical, complete, and not the typical old-psychic-woman. It makes more sense in a game where these sorts of heroes are commonplace and can be called on. Her powers seem a bit more extensive than a mystery would want. Her 'spaciness' reminds me of the Clayr in the books by Garth Nix.
This is a top of the line submission, but I believe the reason most people don't RP their horses is because the game is about the player characters - not their horses. It's the same logic as why many DMs just assume a spellcaster has all the components they need in their pouch, no one wants to keep track of those details. Gaming is about fun and adventure, not record keeping and minutae and unless you have a serious love of horses the very large equipment list needed is nothing but minutae. I was hoping the article could provide some more insight into how to incorporate those details without it being distracting or droll.
Having spent far too much time in 3.5 I will mention that there are ways of tricking-out baddies without actually giving them items. There could be a misguided Vow of Poverty druid, a cleric or warlock who buffs him/herself a great deal at the start of the day, and my personal favorite Incarnum characters. In fact, there is no reason for an obscenely wealthy noble to not Permenancy a number of buffs on himself instead of walking around with magic items that totally clash with his outfit. None of the aforementioned will drop any magic items when they die either so you can tailor their power without worrying about the characters becoming inflated by magic. If you really want to get your players acting smart give them a bunch of one-use potions or limited-use wands. After all, what average thug can invest in a +4 belt of whatever for the one or two battles he'll have in a year? The players will have to act fast and smart because a prolonged battle will mean less booty when they win.