Take a flat wooden board and carve a rectangular, shallow piece out of it on one side. Fill the hole you created with molten bee wax, flatten the wax as good as possible and let it solidify slowly. This could have been the instruction to build the medieval equivalent of the notebook: the wax tablet.
Wax tablets have been found in various forms, ranging from simple on-sheet version consisting of a single slab of wood with waxen surface, up to ten or more page books, bound with leather or metal rings. The single "pages" however were usually rather small. Only few tablets found exceed a size of 10x20 cm.
Parchment was extremely expensive and paper was not yet known in Europe. An alternative was needed for things that needed to be written down, but was not meant to be kept for a long time. While it was possible (and frequently done) to scratch the ink from a sheet of parchment with a knife, ink itself was expensive. Thus most writing that was not intended to be kept for long, was done on wax tablets.
A book of wax tablets shown in the Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte in Bremen, Germany.
Using the wax tablets is quite easy: To write on them a wooden or sometimes metal stylus was used, carving the letters into the soft waxen surface. A stylus with a flat end could be used to erase smaller parts of the tablet or apply smaller corrections. To renew a complete wax tablet, it was held above a candle for a short time and then flattened with appropriate tools such as the side of a knife.
Wax tablets were used for a number of purposes, including the obvious use as a notebook of sorts. Another popular use of wax tablets was for teaching writing in church schools. Any mistakes could be met with a reflattening of the page, instead of spoiling expensive parchment.
Archeological research has found wax tablets, that were obviously used to write down and record texts not meant to be erased after a couple of weeks. Such use, however, was rather the exception.
http://www.randyasplund.com/browse/scribepg/tablets.html Go to Comment
As human society became more entrenched in technology and the digital world, certain malevolent beings from the nether regions evolved to reflect the new tech-reliant reality. These cyber demons integrated the use of technology into their diabolical manipulations of humanity and reality. Eventually many of these demons melded with the technology to become truly cyber in nature. There are a wide variety of cyber demons, differing in their methods and use of tech. Some of these demons travel the grid, playing upon the vices of those who use the digital world to feed their dark impulses. Other demons revel in the negative side of industrial development, finding easy prey in the urban squalor created from industrial growth and subsequent economic crash.
Seductrix are cyber demons created from the concentrated lust and perversion inspired by the numerous pornographic sites on the grid. Seductrix can enter the real world if summoned or at times or in places where the barriers between dimensions are weak. They can automatically transmit their demonic shadow into the grid at any time though, and prefer this method in contacting mortals.
Description: In their natural form a seductrix appears as a beautiful human-like female between 1.7 and 2 meters tall with reflective glasslike skin of a dark blue hue. Their hair appears to be made of light blue metallic filaments that dimly glow, fluctuating in intensity every second. Their pitch black eyes appear to be made of the same glasslike substance as their skin. Seductrix have sharp glowing blue claws. Small green digital 0s and 1s race across their skin as if flowing across a computer monitor, fading in and out in random patterns. At will they can change shape to appear as the ideal beauty to any person (both female and male) they encounter (Treat as the Great Looks perk).
Encounter: In the real world seductrix will attempt to seduce and manipulate people to fulfill their goals. If confronted with physical violence a seductrix turns into a viscous fighter using her claws and electrical energy blast to cause harm. They are also likely to utilize guns of the latest design as well. On the grid a seductrix's shadow can perform normal actions, including shadow combat and hacking (see grid section below).
Habitat/Society: Seductrix usually work for a greater cyber demon, recruiting mortal servants for the demon's cause. Many seductrix like to set themselves up as secret advisors to powerful people who control the proliferation of the grid and digital entertainment. Such individuals could be politicians who are in a position to control grid regulations, corporate leaders pushing technology to new levels, or movie studio heads creating entertainment for a large impressionable audience. On the grid seductrix will often set up provocative sites that entice grid users to experience any pornographic entertainment they can imagine. Their goal is to addict the grid user and weaken his will, eventually making him a mind-controlled slave.
Special Abilities: Seduction (Unique Mesmerism spell): Seductrix use a powerful charm magic that allows them to create feelings of infatuation and desire in the target. The victim of the spell feels a need to please the seductrix, seeing her as a person to court and win over. In this state, the victim will react towards the seductrix according to the degree of success. On an Ordinary result the target's attitude is automatically changed to Charmed. The victim sees the seductrix as a potential lover. He will follow reasonable suggestions given by the seductrix and will try to impress her, even to the point of defending her from harm. A Good result changes the attitude to Fanatical. The target is in love with the seductrix and will do almost anything she says unless it is totally against his nature. A ruthless mercenary will kill at her request, while a law-abiding cop will certainly balk at a command to murder. An Amazing result changes the attitude to Fanatical as well with an enhanced effect. A person in this state will do whatever the seductrix asks without question, including killing his best friend to prove his love for the demon. This spell even works on people who are Hostile or Combative towards the seductrix. This effect lasts for 10 minutes.
-More Targets: At ranks 4, 8, and 12 the seductrix may affect 2 additional persons with the use of this power.
-Seduction Ritual: A seductrix is able to perform a special ritual that changes the target into a Fanatical slave (as the Amazing result) for a much longer duration than the normal use of the power. This ritual can take many forms, but always involves manipulating the lustful desires of the victim. The most direct method is actual sexual activity with the victim. After a series of successful trysts, the victim eventually becomes a willing slave to the seductrix. Another way the seductrix can perform this ritual is by setting up a pornographic site on the grid that actually acts as conduit for her power. As the grid user involves himself in the pornographic media his will is weakened by the seductrix's power, eventually succumbing to her domination. In game terms the ritual is a complex skill check requiring the seductrix to achieve 5 successes. If successful the victim becomes Fanatical as described earlier. The seductrix makes a check for every hour of activity. This complex skill check does not have to be made continuously and the demon can even break off from the ritual and return another day to complete the magic. For instance the grid user may visit the porn site one hour each day eventually losing control to the seductrix. If the ritual is successful this effect lasts for 1 day. At the end of this period the victim may make a Resolve-Mental check to break free. At rank 6 the duration becomes a week, while at rank 12 the duration is a month.
Electrical Bolt: A seductrix is able to discharge a bolt of electricity from her mouth. This is equal to the super power Energy-Energy Blast. A seductrix who uses this power while kissing someone gets a -5 bonus to her skill check.
Seductrix Game Data
STR 9 (d6+8)
DEX 13 (d6+10)
CON 10 (d6+8)
INT 12 (d8+8)
WIL 10 (d6+7)
PER 14 (d6+11)
Action Check: 13+/12/6/3
Move: sprint 22, run 12, walk 4
Reaction score: Ordinary/2
Last Resorts: 3
FX energy points: 10
FX Skills Mesmerism-seduction 17; Energy-energy blast 12; Diabolism-black warding 14, command 16 rend the weave 14, tongue of the damned 17
Seductrix on the Grid
A seductrix can send her spiritual essence onto the grid from the hellish dimension she originates. When a seductrix sends her shadow to the grid, the following information applies according to the Progress Level of the grid technology.
Progress Level 5: Tactics: At PL5, where true shadow forms have not been developed, a seductrix is a unique entity jumping about through various computer servers and stealing space to host her arcane websites. When she interacts with grid users she takes over sections of another user's system to run her programs and send messages. This can be a nasty surprise for a user when the seductrix's activities are traced back to the user's computer. When communicating with a user a seductrix will often send X-rated pictures of herself or a digital animation of herself performing provocative poses. The seductrix is able to use her seduction power through the pictures or the playing of her animation. When she has captured the attention of the user she then will direct the user to her websites, where the stronger seduction ritual can be performed. Due to the primitive nature (relatively speaking) of the technology used, the seductrix suffers a +1 penalty to her seduction power. At PL6 and higher a seductrix will have a true shadow form that can perform normal functions within the virtual reality of the grid. Her tactics will be similar to that mentioned before but the enhanced interaction of the technology allows her powers to act normally. She has no penalties for the use of her seduction powers in this environment. Of course a seductrix may use more sophisticated means to make someone do her bidding, especially when the intended victim is a powerful mortal with which long-term interaction is desired. She will set up a mortal identity for herself and then attempt to seduce the target through normal means, both on the grid and in the physical world if possible. She will resort to her mystical power only when necessary.
Seductrix Grid Shadow (PL 6 or higher): A typical seductrix's form on the grid is equal to an Ordinary shadow form which takes up no active memory slots. When using programs on the grid the seductrix acts as if she is using a gridcaster with a processor of Ordinary quality, giving the normal -1 bonus on action checks. Although the description and function of these programs are identical to actual grid technology they are arcane in nature. They combine technology with the seductrix's diabolical power. This means a spell or psychic power that could be used to detect or counter arcane or even evil energy, would be effective against these programs. For instance a splash of holy water may protect a computer system from a seductrix's virus. More powerful seductrix may have Good or better quality shadow forms, programs, or processors.
Typical Shadow: (using PL 6 technology)
resistance modifier vs. Grid attacks: +1
resistance modifier vs. encounter skills: +1 (INT)
Programs utilized (all Ordinary quality)* Slots
Break-in (appears as snake burrowing) 2
Shadow Armor (appears as electrical energy field) 1 d4 (+1
Shadow Bolt (appears as lightning from mouth) 2 d4s/d6s/d4w
Shadow Weapon (long sharp claws) 1
d4+2s/d4w/d4+2w (-1 bonus)
Trace (black metallic demon dog sniffs out prey) 1
*These are the typical programs used. A seductrix may have other programs available at the PL of the campaign's technology.
Story Seed for Seductrix in Dark*Matter: The peace of an affluent, suburban community is shattered with the horrific death of a visiting religious leader. To the shock of the community, three bright high school boys are revealed to be the murderers. With no apparent motive the boys killed and then mutilated the man by cutting strange markings into his torso. Immediately fingers are pointed in all directions trying to place the blame. The common bond of the boys is their obsession with computers and violent video games. When an investigation is performed the police find large amounts of downloaded pornography on their harddrives.
Unknown to the public, a seductrix had contacted each of the boys on a chat site and established a digital relationship centered around sex. Eventually she magically seduced each one in turn with her websites and then ordered them to murder the minister using a satanic ritual. The minister was in fact a member of a religious order of demon hunters who had foiled earlier plans of the seductrix. His ritual death weakened the barriers between dimensions and allowed the seductrix to pass through into this world. The seductrix has taken on a mortal identity as the beautiful new computer teacher at the local high school (the old teacher mysteriously left one day, tendering his resignation through e-mail). Now the seductrix has a large number of potential slaves to do her bidding as she sets her sights on seducing the owner of a successful software company conveniently located in the town. Go to Comment
This pyrimid forms the basis for a metaphysical and philosphical view of the world. It is like the expansion of the tao (two forces ying and yang), into the five elements, into the 8 baggua, into the 64 elements of the I-Ching. To take an European view, whihc unfortunately is much more occult in the other definition, takes the unity, to the balance, to the trinity. The trinity expands into the four forces (yod he vau he), which manifest as the five elements (fire, earth, air, water, spirit). The Trinity and Four forces expand into the 10 centers/ sepherot of the kabalah. Now this process can continue on to the echo that are the 22 Tarot. Several of these combine to 30 Aethyrs, and the 64 expanded tablet of union. (Well, I did say it was obscure and hard to follow).
Now your world needs something like this, but not this complicated. For this, I provide the pyramid of existance.
The Prime: Existence
The Two Poles: Light and Dark
The Three Motives: Creation, Destruction, Change
The Four Pillars: Earth, Air, Fire, Water
The Five Natures: Blood, Bone, Flesh, Bile, Spirit
The Six Thoughts: Love, Hate, Fear, Dream, Disbelief, Wonder
The Seven Virtues: Justice, Hospitality, Courage, Inspiration, Charity, Wisdom, Prudence Go to Comment
elementals are yes indeedy spirits of the natural elements (so things like wood are mixed with the air earth fire water)... but the reason they're elementals is not because they come from some 'elemental plane' where everything is like them, but because they are the creative/generative force behind existence. Thus everything that is has/had a form on one of the higher planes. Elementals basically take generative ("positive") energy, use it to create ... things... like plants, water, fire, wind, storms, animals, magic, emotions and so forth. Smaller elementals are responsible for smaller things - a tiny earth one might be responsible for the creation of pebbles, whereas a giant earth elemental may have once created mountains (or maybe is just a smaller one that has fed on/funneled more energies). demons are their polar opposites. spirits of entropy that feed on these 'basic energies' breaking them down before energy goes into the Void. so, there are frost, water, fire, lava, earth, plant (etc etc) demons as well. Go to Comment
If there is only one in an area strong adventurer team could take it. That is why they have pods.
They could travel between worlds, but few would notice that generally speaking.
They are designed to be a heavy handed tool for dealing with a world where the magical cottage industry has generate too much stuff. When the GM changes their mind about the texture of the rewards this gives you an in game reason for the changes. Or if you want a post apocalyptic generic fantasy world, let a few pods of these things decimate it. Go to Comment
A quite useful item for limiting magic within your world. Great for those of us who don't rely on components getting rarer as time flies, as it explains the general lack of magic items. A good encounter for your players if they happen to hit on the untouched magical trove of coolness. Go to Comment
I like it. I imagine these buggers might beeline for large cities where there's tons of good eating! Better have good guards at night or your magic shop might depreciate while you sleep. Oh you set an alarm spell and magical traps? Yeah, I'm sure it will be fine ;-p Go to Comment
These feel a bit too heavy as a magic garbage collector when your campaign has accumulated too many items. I might only only have one of these things at a time roaming around, and also have it visit other worlds.
Perhaps you only get these things once magic use exceeds a certain threshold, and the PCs actions - Hey we finally can cast 9th level spells! - might trigger it. Now they need to clean up the mess.
The nice part of "The Maze" is that it can not unbalance a campaign. If it is the only "dungeon", the magic swag and cool tchotchkes will have limited effect outside The Maze. It will give people a place to gain experience and skills that they can take out into the world. Go to Comment
Actually, it would work well in an Urban Fantasy game, being the "doorway to magic" so to speak. Some "Evil Lord" has an army in the maze looking for a key or the door the players are using to get in and out of. Now they have to stop these guys on the maze side of the door, because they still have their magic and powers when they exit into our world (being innate to them, not gifted by the maze).
Horror could be applicable if you turn up the ick and esher-esk qualities of the maze, add more horror and unexplained elemenets.
The Ochre door, or something much like it, was there in Antioch for a while. They charged a toll for people who entered in. And they taxed what they could take out (as it did not dissappear there). Go to Comment
I would have to say that this is an idea worth doing. It smacks of player frustration. Send them in as a task to a King, or for their redemption for a crime. If they return they are set free, but they have to bring back a special key.
This is an interesting, if not simple idea turned evil and malicious. I like it. Go to Comment
My immediate thoughts were - this is something created by a (possibly sadistic) Trickster God
Would fit nicely, with little or modification, into almost any fantasy game-world, as well as most horror or dark fantasy settings (come to think of it, I'm almost certain I've seen something similar for CoC but I couldn't swear to it)