Being a wise, and benevolent leader, the Queen of Chiaroscuro made it a habit to plan for the worst, and hope for the best. As it was, she distrusted the thing that her husband had summoned to protect their land from the rays of thesun. She herself had said that new pacts should have been made with the golden eagles to once again grasp the winds in their claws and bring the rains. While her husband summoned the cthonian horror that was the Swollen Shadow, she herself worked to make a method to control the shadow.
Her final effort was a jewel, a star ruby the size of a child's upraised fist. Into this she poured moonlight and starshine, sunbeams and the warmth of flame. Once the jewel was completed, she hid it away, for safe keeping. In the beginning, the pact with the entity of murk was good, and the city was spared the brutal heat of the sun. The King, being generous more than wise, ordered a statue built to commemorate his wife's magnanymous acceptance of the pact with the Shadow after her protest before.
The Queen's Gem is a repellant that drives shadow minions away from its light. Should a lesser shadow be subject to its radiance too long, the shadow will dissolve into nothingness, never to return to the Swollen Shadow. Against Haints it is as potent as silver to a werewolf, or garlic to a vampire. Its presence causes them pain, and they cannot bear its light. The Swollen Shadow itself is terrified of the Gem as it believes that should the right person take the jewel, they would rightly be able to destroy it (the Swollen shadow, not the gem!). Go to Comment
The flower produces a blossom several inches wide that is almost the color of flame along the edges of the petals, and darkens to a midnight shade of blue or black in the center. The stalks are thin and hollow, and the plant grows from a small seed.
It is not known where the Shadowmaster came from, only that it appeared roughly around the same time that the Swollen Shadow was summoned. The flower grows in wet and boggy soil, and can grow in full sunlight, but grows best in half light or less. The only things that can prevent them from growing in wet climates is freezing temperatures or alkaline soils.
The flower is an effacious defense against shadow minions, with a blossom working in the same fashion as a bulb of garlic to a vampire (assuming said vampire is repulsed by garlic). Vars raises beds of the flowers around his home on the edge of the Umbral Fens, and often wears a blossom or three in his hair or beard. A distillation of the plant's juices can be used in a manner similar to holy water, destroying shadow minions, and burning haints. Against the Swollen Shadow itself, the flower has negligible power, if any at all. Go to Comment
A black iron hooded lantern with red tinted glass panels.
A last tool of the queen, these iron lanterns are closed in with a special pane of red tinted glass, created by the queen herself. She made as many of these cressets as she could during her last few years of life. It is whispered that between how much of her power that went into the Gem, and the grief over her slain husband, her years were cut painfully short.
This glass when illuminated has the same effect as that of her gem, albeit much weaker. It wards shadows away, rather than destroy them. These lanterns number around two dozen, and are precious treasures that have made certain parts of the Western district safer. The Shadow itself has claimed and destroyed a few of these, but most remain in Sihl hands. Vars himself has a cresset that he uses when he goes out stalking chamugra or shadowmaster lillies. Go to Comment
A hand-and-half, or bastard sword with a heavy blade. The crossguard is fashioned of a golden metal.
The sword of Lord Nayer, the captain of the adventuring band of the same name, is a semi-legendary sword. The giantcraft sword was created by the hand of an unnamed giant smith who imbued the weapon with power over metal, stone, and wood.
With sheer will, the sword could be used to cleave almost any natural substance in half. Stone pillars would fall, shields would shatter, swords would snap like twigs. (In game terms, this power requires an expenditure of willpower or related attribute to use, and can only be used by a warrior/barbarian class character). This power made the sword very powerful in Nayer's hands, but served him poorly when facing the shadows, as they lack substance and thus cannot be cloven in half. Go to Comment
Originally one of the 'Eight Implements' of the gods, the Farsmoke Thurible is an artefact of a bygone age. Few wizards or sages understand the true nature of the device and its original purpose is clouded in myth and lore. Fewer still, know that the original Farsmoke Thurible, a huge bronze and silver censer which perpetually oozed sickly-green and purplish vapors, is now long lost, and what adventurers, scholars, and mages research and search for, are actually the so-called 'Fragments of the Thurible'. These half-dozen relics were suposedly created during the 'Shattering of the Thurible', by an antediluvean Lich-Lord named Arprat N'Moomzi, who broke apart the Farsmoke Thurible into six miniature replicas of minor power. Admittedly, this legend is vague even among those historians who dedicate their lives to unravelling the origins and secrets of the Eight Implements.
What little is known can be read about in the olden texts. According to the known lore, Arprat N'Moomzi not only broke the FT into six parts, but sundered himself as well into six inferior lich-like aspects! Each of these new creatures, the Six Lichlings, had impressive wizardly abilities in their own right, hinting as to the fearsome power of their sire, Arprat N'Moomzi.
Each of the Six Lichlings took a Thurible Fragment, and used the powers of the apparatuses to transport themselves through myriad worlds and planes, each settling into a different realm of their choosing. Little beyond that is known.
A thousand years later, during their travels, Nayer's Slayers, that irreverent band of companions, came upon one such Lichling Lair, and after an awful confrontation with the atavistic horror, vanquished it, and discovered one of the Farsmoke Thurible Fragments in its vault. The rest, as they say...is History. Nayers Slayers experimented with the insidious device, and helplessly propelled themselves into one of the countless demi-planes of existence, they came to the City of the Swollen Shadow.
Presently, due to the aforementioned calamity which ensued when the Slayers discovered this new Shadow realm, specifically the confrontation that led to their ignoble demise, the Farsmoke Thurible Fragment, now lies in the vaults of the Swollen Shadow. Not ignorant of its presence, the SS cannot yet grasp how to activate the Thurible's world-travelling powers, but it is experimenting....(bwahaha)
For such a potent device, one crafted by the gods themselves, and later used by one of the most powerful liches to ever walk the earth, surprisingly nothing is known about the actual powers of the original artefact. The powers of the individual Six Fragments however are thus: Each of the six Thuribles allows inter-planar and inter-dimensional travel. Through the efforts of Abroin and more powerful mages he had enlisted to study the object, what was learned was fairly simple. Two types of smoke issue forth from the Thurible. This smoke seeps of its own accord, and cannot be controlled in any way. When the sickly-green smoke is acivated, stepping through its vapors allows safe worm-hole like travel to an unspecified realm of existence, chosen at random apparently by the Thurible itself. When the purplish smoke ensues, it allows return to the original plane from whence the plane-travellers came from. Each period of smoke-travel lasts an unspecified (and uncontrollable) amount of time. You can explore the far reaches of reality, but when that purplish smoke oozes, you had better get back to the Thurible.
Nayers Slayers learned this the hard way, as only Gazzo Sleep-Eye, managed to flee through its mists, before the purplish smoke expired, stranding the remainding Slayers forever! Go to Comment
Chamugra Oil (inspired by the real life Chaulmoogra)
Chamugra Oil comes from a plant of the same name, which grows exclusively in humid, dusky environments. They can be found in most dense jungles of any world, but grow in surprising abundance in the Umbral Fens. Small to medium-sized bush-like trees, the Chamugra sprouts plump grayish fruit, which resemble oranges in shape and size, feels like peaches in the hand, and taste disturblingly sour, more so than lemons. The fruit of the bush-tree has neither beneficial nor harmful properties of any mention, but many stubborn souls have mistakenly focused on the fruit over the years when investigating the peculiar nature of the plant.
The acrid oil from the Chamugra bark-like roots, however is another matter entirely. If properly harvested, the syrupy substance yields a yellowish oil, which coats the bark-root, and allows it to burn like a candle of pale greenish flame, when lit. Visitors who need to make their way among the fogs and shadows of the Umbral Fens and City of Shadow, might well find the 'Chaulmoogra Sticks' useful torches in essence. They would also find themselves quickly attracting the wrong kind of attention, for fire is taboo to the Silhouettes, a dangerous element best left forgotten.
The Oil has another property, of which scarce few are aware. Chamugra Oil is a near perfect cure for leprosy! The whys and hows of how it fuctions are unknown by even those few that no of the Oil's power, but eight out of ten lepers who smear the oil on themselves would be cured of the dreadful affliction over a period of several weeks to a month.
Finally, Chamugra Oil has a baneful effect on the malevolent shadows of the city. Smeared on weapons and fired up, the feint greenish flames which flicker along the blade, cause grievous wounds to the creatures of shadow-essence. (extra damage)
A handful of Silhouettes, including several in Vars' Liberation Front, Vars' Luminous Faction, or the VLF as they also call themselves, are aware that during the glorious Luminous Years, one of the Queen's apellations was Hydhealer, 'Hyd' meaning leper, in the language of the City. These Silhouettes (and Vars) are also aware of how she acquired that title, as it was this much-loved queen herself, who first discovered the plant's extraordinary properties, sharing her wisdom with her subjects. They are also certainly aware that the Chamugra Oil does great harm to their enslavers, all but the Haints and SS himself, feel its burn. Vars has sent several sorties into the Fens over the years, but only several even came back, and those that did, brought back only limited amounts of the plant. To further complicate matters, the Sils fear the flickering green flames the oil causes, it is as equally harmful to them as it is to the true shadows.
Side Note:Having the PCs interact with or team up with Vars and the Silhouettes against the Swollen Shadow is certainly not an absolute necessity in this adventure, but the initial role-playing pains can certainly yield some fruit later on!
Their is one other potentially dangerous way for the PCs to discover the secrets of the Chamugra. Somewhere in the Umbral Fens, twitter and flutter the Shadow-Lepers
Abroin's Great Favor This gold and moonstone ring, can be found on the remains of Abroin, below the Umbral Fens, in the secret tunnel, now inhabited by Fairhog the Shadow-Spectre. The ring allowed Abroin to temporarily bestow magic-using abilities on those he deemed worthy. One did not have to be a spellcaster to enjoy the short-lived, but powerful boon and benefits of acqiring the ability to cast Abroin's spells Go to Comment
Well, the first part begins rather like a sketch and we are presented with mundane scene after mundane scene in a rapid fashion.
The real ingeniuety dwells in the reference to the swollen shadow plot: Most intense and an excellent read. Nearing the end the sub is a true 5 and with honours to boot, but alas: Not all of the post is of such high quality.
I like this character. Even without the shadow stuff, he is still a valid addition, and an NPC that should exist - who is better to remind heroes of world's dangers, than a member of a legendary group, now old, weak and practically homeless, atoning for his cowardice which was the only way to survive. And he is still marked by the evil he tried to escape... good work. As said, I like this one, with or without the plot.
(Note: include why he is called 'Sleep-Eye' also here. It is a neat, defining detail.) Go to Comment
This is a good character, with nice depth and good dramatic hooks... even if you are not specifically using the plot. The story, which is important to their plot, is interesting and a nice addition. (Of course, the moment you show them a completed story, the PC's will have an alarm go off in their head and they will know that this is insanely important). Extra .5xs for being part of a greater whole and the storyhook. Go to Comment
A tale within a tale... A lot of good imagery given with plenty of detail. This is probably my favorite section of his tale.
The wind flutters no banners in that city, carries no scents away from it. The sun shines but the gloom cannot be washed away by such simple light. The rains fall, but the stones of the houses remain cracked and dry, the mortar splintering and weakening until the towers toppled to the earth. The locals, now prisoners of fear lived under the rule of Swollen Shadow and his seven Haints. Go to Comment