Hu was an ambassador of the Seventh Emperor of the Reng Dynasty. Throughout his life he traveled across many miles and lands to entreaty with neighboring kingdoms and the semi-savages who dwelled amidst the Metal Mountains.
During one such diplomatic mission, Hu was gifted a small iron marble as a gesture, by a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe. Little else is known of Hu, but that marble was lost and is now somewhere out there for someone to find.
A tiny, shiny sphere, the marble has several properties. First and foremost it is a strong magnet, considerably stronger than its size and density would indicate.
Secondly, if thrown or rolled upon the ground and the command word is spoken, the iron ball will magically enlarge to either the size of an ogres's head or to that of a great globe, twelve feet in diameter. The rolling ball of either size will continue to roll or fly at the same relative speed it was when launched as a marble, and can thus cause great damage to anything in its path. The magnetic power of the ball will also magnify when enlarged.
Legends claim that the ball has been tossed from besieged castles upon attacking foes and rolled at marching armies in ages past. At the end of such rolls, the larger size globe has been known to not only crush soldiers underfoot, but to also "collect" many dozens of metallic weapons and bits of armor unto itself, appearing as an armored sphere, with swords and spears sticking out from it in all directions.
Owning this powerful marble has its drawbacks. Anyone carrying it on their person, will experience the iron ball's insidious effects after some time. The owner feels no worse for wear, but after two month's time they will suddenly awaken one morning to find that their hair has fallen out completely, their teeth loosened like baby's teeth ready to drop, and their fingernails simply shriveled and sliding off the fingers and toes. Perhaps unbeknownst to the owner at first, the iron ball also renders an owner sterile or barren by this time.
Regular clerical healing will not reverse this horrible malady. Only finding and beseeching a shaman of the Kiy-Kiy tribe to heal the iron ball's effects with their particular brand of magic, will work.
Hu's Iron Ball should be handled carefully by players and gms.
These rare, fist-sized spiders do not make webs, but rather excrete secretions which harden upon contact with air. These "droppings" resemble barley-sized spider eggs, or even lustrous pearls, once the slime coating them, dries up. In fact, dried Pearl Spider "drops" are indistinguishable from the marine varieties produced by mollusks, and hence of identical value on the open market!
Several centuries ago, they were studied by naturalists, and several observations were made. Firstly, was that these spiders "lay" these pearls for no apparent or discernible "natural" reason, and secondly, the naturalists had discovered that the more these spiders ate or were fed--and they were true omnivores--the larger the spider pearls came out.
A cottage industry began. Enterprising merchants hunted and collected these creatures across the lands, erecting spider-farms for the manufacture of Spider Pearls. It wasn't long before someone got the idea to force-feed the spiders, ala foie gras geese, and soon, the fattened spiders began pooping out pearls of great size! (relatively speaking). The regular pearl market came to disarray, and prices and value fluctuated wildly.
[b]Plothook[/b] The Mermen Mercantile Alliance hires the party to eradicate all terrestrial Pearl Spider Farms!
These magical boots empower the wearer with several abilities at once. Wondrous leaping, water-walking, and even flying! Yet the boots possess an insidious curse upon them as well. A deep and almost unfathomable (by others) feeling of listlessness, boredom, and even apathy affects the boots' wearer at all times whenever they are donned. Magic will not dispel the effects.
And so while the wearer of the boots can perform great feats of action during combat or at other opportune times and key moments, they'll never really want to do so, complaining "Meh, what's the point of it all anyway?" or "I would fly up and save us all guys, but sigh, maybe uhm, soonish, mkay? Bit bored by this whole burning tower at the moment."
Naturally the boots wearer's fellow PCs will grow quickly frustrated with this arrangement. There have been numerous occasions when one angry PC literally tears off the boots from his companion's feet in anger, and dons them in turn, only to immediately suffer from the same effects.
The solution lies in constantly "motivating" the boots' wearer with successful rolls, involving threats, flattery, fiery speeches, or even bribery.
A PC Conjurer or summoner, basically any mage whose sole purpose in life is summoning creatures to aid in battles and various situations, is cursed with a hex, and needs to find a way to undo the curse...before he goes mad, or his fellow PCs throw him out of the party, or worse.
Everything he/she summons, never goes away. So you'll have to figure out what the heck to do with that dire bear or fire elemental once it's done fighting the orcs for you. Eventually a caravan of bizarre creatures either annoyingly ends up following the summoner around, or they go off to cause mayhem elsewhere. Bad news for the poor spell-caster regardless.
Once every decade on the eve of St. Poskov's Day during mid-winter, the coastal city of Tiyabon experiences a horrific event. Quool's Tide rolls in, depositing hundreds of bloated, fish-eaten corpses upon the pebbly shores of Tiyabon's wide bay. This singularity is to this day unexplained, though countless theories abound. It is said for example, that these corpses are not eaten by the myriad fish of the seas completely, due to the fear all creatures of the seas hold for Quool.
Named for Quool, a terrible, antediluvian god of seas and storms, who no longer exists for he has no worshipers, the Tide chokes the beaches and surf with the countless rotting bodies of those who had perished at sea in a violent way.
Almost immediately, the lifeless corpses are fed upon by crabs, gulls, and worse things that await the horrid feast. The townsfolk let nature take it course with disinterested disgust, though lately some enterprising adventurers have taken to searching along the beaches of flesh for former deceased companions, with intentions of raising them again!
Surprisingly no undead ever rise from among the many corpses. This is also a mystery.
Molk Peruda is encountered by the PCs on the second day of their journey west from the salt-choked port of Quyn, as they prepare to explore the jungle.
He appears a gaunt, wolfish man, with matted, dark hair that sprouts from his head in dreadlocks, contrasting with his well-oiled, blue-black, conical beard. His eyes are hidden ebon shards beneath thick arching brows, his nose, crooked, long, and reminiscent of a snout. His mouth is a thin, dark line, his teeth unseen even when he parts his lips to speak.
His skin is the color of tallow, surprising perhaps for a renowned jungle guide, yet his natural helm of dreads and the jungle's canopy keeps the sun from bronzing his originally pale flesh. On his back are tattooed three women from the waist up, side-by-side, each resembling the other but of different ages. This is a tattoo of Molk's mother, sister, and daughter. His wife (don't bring her up to him!) was killed by marauding Qullan years ago, and appears as her own tattoo on his broad but sunken chest.
His feet shockingly are turned around 180 degrees at the ankle, facing towards his back! A curse from a pernicious shaman. Molk walks feet backwards (he's used to it) and walks backwards, forwards. This can be very disconcerting and outright creepy to the PCs as he guides them through the rainforest.
Slung from his back is an archer's quarrel of treated wood carved to resemble a stalking leopard, in his hand a re-curved composite bow of horn and sinew, with a pair of vivid, red eyes, each one painted on the opposite side of the hand-grip. In a leather sheath at his belt, hangs a falchion, its pommel adorned with a curved bird's head and beak.
The third son of a candle-maker, and secretly a spy, Tsiao Fong Wei betrayed his family, clan, and town to the merciless Qongg Dynasty, causing the deaths of his own family members. He survived to an old age hiding out in the country side and keeping a low profile. One day however, the “Paper Knife” finally found Tsiao Fong Wei , and exacted his revenge on behalf of the folk, dead and tortured.
After a furious struggle, the “Paper Knife” plunged twin burning candles into the eyes of the traitorous old man and laughed, as Tsiao Fong Wei howled in dismay and pain. Some say Tsiao Fong Wei died that day. Others say that the old man somehow escaped despite his sudden anguish and utter blindness.
The truth is lost to time.
But to this day the children of the Red-Ridge County towns and villages are told by their parents to always beware twin lights in the darkness and to never venture into the woods at night, and to keep an ear open for the Groaning Ghost, for somewhere out there Tsiao Fong Wei the Traitor, now a vengeful spirit, stumbles about the darkness moaning and wailing, candles still sticking forth from out of his otherwise empty eye sockets. And though the candles plunged into his eyes all those years ago were a’flame going in, now the wax protuberances are somehow lit from within and burn without, and two flickering lights in the darkness, always portend his coming.
Found written on a torn single page…
“Lay thee patiently and still upon the ground, contemplating the Leper Star in the firmament, 'neath a crescent moon, ‘midst the graves of a boneyard 'til the G’na-Shennu come crawling up from the foetid earth. Fear them not. Let them rage about thee, casting ghoul-dust from their chalky talons and scalps,'til they calm, and so begin to whisper their secrets. Then shall they solemnly withdraw into the earth once more, in peace."
Cold Comfort is a long-sword of star-steel, its blade giving off a wan, blueish light. Its grip is wrapped tightly in snow-serpent hide, and its pommel bears a single opalescent gemstone.
This blade is enchanted in such a way, that whoever wields it, begins to fall completely and irrevocably "in love" with the weapon. This love does not manifest itself as the expected reverence and bond formed between any warrior and his weapon, but as a deeper, truer love, one has for a soul-mate of the same species! The longer the wielder carries Cold Comfort the stronger and more disturbing this love becomes, and only the most powerful of magicks can potentially break the sword's insidious spell. The blade's owner will even speak to and coo to the weapon, convinced that the sword understands and returns this epic love.
If the blade's wielder somehow loses the weapon or has it taken away, they will become inconsolable, and will predictably go to "ends of the earth and back" to retrieve it at any cost. Such is the weapon's curse that even separation from it does not damper the feelings the owner has for the sword. Legends tell of several distraught and mind-addled knights who even years after losing the blade, still wander the country-side searching for their lost love. And woe be to the "new lover" if and when they find him or her.
Wytchwolde-Under-Ash, once a great Thorpe, was razed to the ground by the ruthless, and truth told more than slightly deranged, Porcelain Princess and her henchmen, the Purifiers. When the flames had at last subsided, and a kaleidoscope of swirling, dull-gray ash choked the sky, nine hundred acres of old growth iron spruce, black larch and weeping birch, was burned to utter cinders, along with the entire coven of witches comprising the Sisterhood of the Silver Teat.
Now, centuries later, the forests are somewhat re-grown, and the town of Foolswater stands where Wytchwolde-Under-Ash once did. It is said that even to this day, one can still find ashes in the otherwise potable well-water of this village. Once a year during the Winter Solstice, the “Ash-Wind” comes to Foolswater, a suffocating black cloud that passes quickly but leaves dead birds and animals in its wake, darkening the trees, and staining the sky with black snow. The inhabitants of the village know better than to be caught outside during the day-long Ash-Wind. Everyone is locked snugly inside, singing old hymns that curse and re-curse the burned witches who once called this place home.
A wild species, vinus homophagus, more akin to sea-grape rather than the terrestrial variety, is not a monster despite its fanciful name. The grapes, a deep purple color when in bloom, and oozing dewdrops of perspiration, like the most prized and delectable of drinking wine grapes, do however deserve their moniker. Wine made from this fruit, is deadly to most humanoids, as is the raw berry, if plucked and eaten from the vine. It is the unnatural chemical concoction found within the fruit’s tart skin, which gives the man-eating grape its name. The chemical stew found inside each berry, functions as a necrotic agent, the same as found in some species of venomous snakes. The grapes literally eat the victim from the inside out, via cell death, dissolving organs and flesh in quick succession.
The tribes of Pra-Oohk Crater, from the jungles of Ghlush are known to sell the fermented “wine” of this grape to merchants of distant lands. Sadly, the taste of the concoction is divine when first quaffed, and even worse, the man-eating grape wine will never detect as poisonous via mundane means, its horrid natures somehow masking all attempts. Luckily the man-eating grapes are extremely rare, and endemic to humid jungles.
...among the items identified was a dolphin-shaped bathtub of marble and porcelain, a winged-back, high-chair of teak and velvet studded with fire opals, the gear-thing contraption from the dungeon-laboratory of Dr. Bezemot, the oil portrait of the rubicund Madame Orundilde Tarwygg, and a strange item known only as the Last Candle.
Far to the north amidst the endless ice-flows it is rumored that a dwarven Walrus Totem clan exists. These rumors have been unsubstantiated to date, unless the dwarven sage Glurt Goblinguts is to be believed. He claims to once having encountered a troupe of huge dwarves, each standing a beard’s length higher than the tallest known dwarf. These dwarven “giants”, their hairy chins crusted with frozen shards of ice and dirt, hauled gargantuan yellowed horns or tusks upon their wide shoulders, and their helms, likewise, sported massive, down-ward pointing tusk-horns. Glurt Goblinguts later speculated that the impressive size of these dwarves was most likely due to their arctic diets, almost exclusively fat-based.
In the province of Behar in India, there is a bizarre custom that persists to the present day. Young men are kidnapped at knife (gun) point, and forced into marriage. If they refuse or cause trouble upon meeting their blushing bride-to-be, they are told that their family members will come to harm or even be killed if they resist. Some manage to fall in love or accept their fate. This scenario can be adapted to any rpg, ideally with a pc in the role of the abducted future husband!
Next time you're contemplating a horse variation, but don't want to get too dramatic, how about a Zorse? An offspring of a zebra stallion and horse mare. In nature they are infertile, but in a fantasy world, not necessarily. They are also known to be extremely cantankerous.
"It soon became apparent that zorses are not the most easiest of the equine family to get along with." -- Trainer Pat Parelli, on working with zorses
Forsht Bligo is a dwarf who loves the taste of blood. He's become quite the connoisseur over the years. Pigs blood, sheeps blood, cow's blood, if it's red and warm, Forsht considers it a delicacy. The fresher and hotter the better. Forsht will often sneak up on cattle, prick them with his dagger, and catch the flowing blood in his orc-skull drinking cup. His life goal is to taste the blood of every living animal. Although he has not yet sampled humanoid blood, he is not averse to doing so if the right opportunity presents itself. He is not particularly unpleasant if approached and can be easily befriended. Its just that he simply can't get enough of the "Juice of Life", as he calls it. Forsht's troubles come in the form of frightened and angry villagers who have proclaimed the misunderstood dwarf a vampire. Since Forsht is amused by this, he does little to dissuade anyone. This will lead to some dicey situations for Forsht in the near future.
A village where everyone goes blind sometime during puberty. What could be causing this? Perhaps something in their diet. Or some malignant gene. How would an entire village where only young childen can see function?
These little beetles have heads at both ends of their bodies. This allows them to feed on leaves at twice the rate of their normal cousins, causing great damage to crops. They look like ladybugs more than actual beetles, but have no wings. They have a funny way of moving if one stops to watch them, as both heads seem to vie for picking the direction at any given time. Their favorite nourishment is sugar cane. After feasting on these for some time, they develop short bursts of frenetic energy, and can be seen racing back and forth without purpose, which looks quite comical to onlookers. They are otherwise normal bugs. Of course the pc's might not know that.
One day a a wind begins to blow out of the West. The next day it gets stronger. And stronger still the next few days. Eventually (and fortunately), the speed of the wind tops out at a steady fifty miles an hour, but continues to blow. Soon an entire kingdom is wondering why it's not abating. The weather mages deem it unnatural but can't seem to banish or control it. The priests of various faiths claim it's divine. The End-Of-Days crowd is having a field day with their predictions of doom. No one knows why the gale persists. When inquiring with neighboring kingdoms, it seems they too suffer from a persistent western mistral. Eventually the populace begins to adapt to living with a twenty four hour a day wind. Always from the West, and perpetual. What could be causing this? A raging Elemental king? a curse from the gods? an unearthed artifact? Or has Nature itself gone haywire?
The ruling family depends on some magical artifact or place to secure their right to rule. A monarch isn't considered legitimate until he or she has been "accepted" by the artifact or place, whatever that might entail. It is also possible that some one else, not of the ruling family, could be accepted as the legitimate heir... A fact which the monarchs would like to keep secret.