As suggested some time ago by MoonHunter, this Codex will be the repository of all works that have been crafted as a collaborative work between Murometz and myself, Scrasamax.
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Codex30 Beers By: Murometz ( Articles ) Campaign - Gaming - In General
Food of the gods.
1. Groemdeggers Stout
black as death, thick as stone
This is the dwarven grand-daddy of dark ales. No other stouts need apply. At least according to Groemdeggers Breweries, a well-known brand throughout the lands. Quips abound among tavern-goers about this thickest of brews. One can stir it with a spoon for example, so rich and yeasty is the beer. Elves look upon this stuff in revulsion, humans tolerate it, halflings can appreciate it, but only dwarves can truly savor this dark stew! What all dwarves know however, that many others dont, is that so rich in nutrients, starches, and proteins is Groemdeggers Stout, that it can offer a starving dwarf the same nutrition as a buttered loaf of rye bread, and indeed, many dwarves quaff it for breakfast.
2. Ale of the Dales
A common type of beer, the ‘Ale of the Dales’ is the popular way of asking for the house brew at a tavern or inn, rather than drinking beer that was made by the brewers guild. Ale of the Dales runs the gammut from terrible to terribly good, and it is usually very inexpensive.
4. Stella’s Blessing
This lager is special in that it is raised from seed to barrel by a civic minded Loru Valsharris who has adopted the human name Stella. This goddess of the grain maintains a large palatial estate that is overrun with plantlife, wild growing grains, and a mill/brewery in the middle. She has since learned the intricacies of brewing and the value of gold. She has no use for gold other than what it can do for her, but she takes great pride in brewing what is considered the best beer in the kingdom. The only way to get this beer is to travel to her estate and purchase it.
5. Cowhead Double
Cowhead double has a special place in having one of the more convoluted and unsavory fermentation processes. Cowhead is taken in a half fermented stage, while it is still a slurry of water and mash and it is feed to ruminant livestock most commonly cattle. The brew is allowed to spend only so long in the stomach of the cow. Once this is done, the cow is forced to vomit up the liquid where it is strained and mixed with a larger batch of beer that is almost done.
6. Fruits O’ Labor, Lambic Ales
Created by capricious gnomes, and fitting their somewhere-between-dwarves-and-halflings niche, These light, cloudy ales are flavored with fruit, adding a refreshing flavor of tart sweetness to the concoctions. Any and all fruit are used, but particularly popular are gooseberries, quinces, raspberries, and pears. Gnomish Lambic ales are well-known and liked, though beer connoisseurs would never be caught alive drinking the stuff. Fruit in beer? Pshaaww!
7. Giant’s Brew
The giants of old were known for many things, chief among them was their fierce and potent beer. This beer was made from the sheaves of grain grown in high and distant places, fermented in dark vales and barreled in wooden barrels the size of a cottage. The old barrels are long since gone, and the brewers among the giants have since retreated from the world to practice their craft well away from the spears and arrows of upstart humans. Giant’s brew has a full and robust flavor, and no matter how much is drunk will not leave a hang over,
8. Goblin Piss
While many beers are called Goblin piss, there is only one that is the real deal. This local brew is indeed made by goblins, but contains no actual urine. It is a pilsner type beer with an almost sweet taste to it. The goblins who brew it tend to keep the name so they can keep selling their other more appealing and expensive sounding brew to greedy humans and keeping the good stuff to themselves. The goblin taste for this beer has given rise to the expression ‘Happier than a goblin drinking piss’
9. Caravanissary Stout
This thick yeasty beer is one of the strongest of the human made beers, and it is considered semi-dehydrated. Drinking the thick concoction is a sure way to get a sour stomach. The correct method of drinking Caravanissary is to mix the thick brew with at least an equal part of water, and then adding a crushed wedge of some sort of citrus fruit. Oranges and limes are the most common, but it is in vogue in the southern reaches to use the grapefruit.
10. Fog-King’s Mist
Also called, "Possum’s Brew", "Oekkelstagg’s Juice", "Cloudspit", and "Foggymoot", this rare mixture is brewed by the Tribe-of-Possums dwarves, amidst their fog-shrouded fens. The recipe is unknown to the outside world, but the cloud-white ale is one of the most sought after and expensive brews in existence! Pity the ghost-face dwarves of the Possum Tribe do not sell it, nor do they barter with the stuff, but simply brew it for themselves.
11. Haraleven White
This white ale is a specialty of halfling make. Predominantly made of white wheat it is a full bodied beer that is best with a pouch pf pipeweed and a bowl of thick stew. The local brewer of known for having his daughters, all seven of them, deliver his Haraleven by walking donkeys laden with kegs to the various inns and taverns in the area.
12. St. Aviel Ale
This ale has been brewed for centuries at the St. Aviel monastery. The monks there, long devoted pious living, scribery, and the fruits of the harvest. During the feast of Aviel, the monks will don themselves with garlands of flowering hopps and carry about hogsheads of their famous ale, pouring a cup for anyone with a parched throat. St. Aviel was sainted for ending the constant fighting between humans and orcs by bringing them together and getting them drunk to the point that fighting is pointless.
13. Kobold Dragonhead
This beer is unique in that it lasts for a very long time compared to other beers. Once in a keg, a beer’s lifespan in measured in a few weeks in the best of conditions, days in the worst. Dragonhead will oddly enough keep for years in good conditions, and weeks in poor. The secret is that the kobolds who brew this beer have the ill fortune of being around fire breathing dragons. The gouts of flame have the side effect of pasteurizing the beer, provided the beer isnt boiled off, and the kegs aren’t burned.
14. Elven Wheat-Wine
It is commonly known that elves hate beer. As an experiment, an elven vintner attempted to make wine from wheat, as it contained everything needed to make an alcoholic beverage. Several attempts later, he had added the various other ingredients and created elven wheat wine. This ‘beer’ is considered to be one of the worst beers ever to be poured. It has a sharp smell, and after sitting so long it has gone completely flat, and the taste is a mix of sour and wheat. The brew is foul enough that not even a half-drunk ogre would drink it.
15. The Beer of Life
Most beer is brewed from wheat, barley, or other common grains. The Beer of Life is brewed from the Amaranth seed. These seeds are much smaller than most food grade grains, and the plant requires a good deal of work to cultivate. The beer that is brewed from amaranth mash and certain hops is known to have restorative qualities for those who drink it. The taste is both smooth, rich, and pleasurable to drink. This beer is frequently counterfeited with rice beers with a spike of coloring by beer mongers looking to make a quick profit over an unsuspecting customer.
16. The Enchanter’s Decanter of Ale
This ale is produced from one source, a magical decanter. Some decades ago, a hedonistic mage enchanted the decanter to produced ale when it was poured, seldom producing more than two gallons of brew a day. The ale is always crisp and fresh, the head thick and frothy. The mage in question spent more than two years searching for the perfect ale for his magical decanter to produce. Upon his demise, the decanter was given as a gift to the proprietor of the tavern where the mage first struck upon the idea to enchant the decanter.
17. Honey Cream Stout
This luxurious lager is made from milk sugars, extra hops, and honey. The resultant beer is considered to be one of the finest, especially if you listen to the guild beermongers. The beer is made by the silken hands of virgins and delivered by the most buxom of maidens, sloshing and frothy to the taverns and inns. The recipe is old and quite good, property of a whore’s guild guildmaster who has since struck a deal with the brewers guild to make this beer and split the profits.
18. Vonbow’s Pale Ale
This beer is a regular in Vonbows parish. The ale is well known and respected for it’s flavor, which is described as ‘wise’. The ale is brewed in a traditional fashion, but is seasoned with cloves, nutmeg and several other secret spices. It should be drunk only in moderation as it causes some of the worst hangovers known to man.
19. Ol’ Paps Blue Ribbon
This beer claims the honor of having won the blue ribbon for the best beer for the last forty years in the area. It is really a terrible beer, from poor taste to low quality production. Some patrons have found pieces of grain, chaff, and other debris in their tankards of this beer. The secret behind old Paps’ success is that there is no other brewery within two days travel of his. Twice other brewers have ventured to set up shop only to run into difficulty, theft, arson, and such. Old Paps says that is just the lord protectin his own.
This beer is brewed in the southern swamplands, where rice and wheat compete for the flat land. The resultant beer is made from a mix of the two grains and has a flavor that depends on the heaviness of mixture for or against one of the grains. Dry years tend to be wheaty, while wet one are more favored towards rice. The beer gets it’s name from the current brewmaster’s grandfather. He would say that the beer wasn’t ready until his old Redhound dog would drink it. The dog had a nose on him and wouldn’t take a sop of beer until it was just right.
This rather putrid brew, concocted by monks whos abbey sits beside a damp catacomb of wind-caves, have after years of experimentation, combined their two best products, cheese and bear. It was not a huge stretch really. The brewing vats were in the caves next to hanging cheese. Eventually an enterprising monk, deposited curds and bacteria cultures into the bubbling hops and yeast, and cheese beer was born. Foamy, occasionally slippery on the palate, and reeking of donkey hoof, Cheese Ale is as mentioned, an acquired taste. Of course, many demi-humans over the years, have managed to acquire just that taste.
22. Ixian Malt
This dark beer, brewed under the auspices of Ixia, of the Silver Forge, is known for it’s complex and smokey taste. The irony is that Ixia, being the rather matronly and stern goddess that she is, generally disdains the consumption of alcohol, and has long since barred her clergy from consuming even a drop of the beer they brew.
23. Yakspyll’s Finest, Millet Beer
A primitive, fermented beverage, no longer popular in civilized society, millet beer was just that. This rather light yet bitter lager can now be found among the leper colonies of Yakspyll, as these folk survive on the millet crop, and drown their sorrows in its froth. Only the seediest joints stock this poorly brewed swill, or Lepers Ambrosia, as only the poorest of tavern-goers ever order it. "Last-Chance Ale" is another common name for Yakspyll.
Basically another version of the legendary Time-Wine, this stuff is rare and often kept aside by brewers and innkeepers alike, saved for those particuar occasions where the delayed inebriation was desired. Shady types have their own insidious uses for Time-Beer, to be sure.
25. Snowmelt, Ice-Beer
Like its cousins the Ice-wines, these sophisticated lagers are brewed from hop berries that have been flash-frozen while still on the vine. The result is a crisp, sweet, and concentrated flavor, most suitable to after dinner beer-drinking, and as an accompaniment to dessert. The undisputed masters of both Ice wine and beer production are the Grugachi, the wood-ylves of the Slanting Pines.
26. Hrvassk, Wet-Bread
An odious mix to many, a delicacy and staple to others, this lead-gray beer with the consistency and flavor of stale bread left in water for many hours, is low-alcohol and lacto- fermented, possessing a taste reminiscent of burnt malt. Among the steppe barbarians, Hrvassk is also a popular base for summer soups. Raw, aromatic vegetables and herbs are chopped finely and poured into bowls of Hrvassk, eaten chilled.
27. Pepper Peete’s Wicked-Pernicious
Pepper Peete was a well-known saloon owner, famous for winning the Brewers Guild sponsored, Kingdoms Best competition, which was held only once every three years, to ensure and preserve the gravitas of the event. Pepper Peete won an unprecedented three times in a nine-year period, with his now ubiquitous, Wicked-Pernicious Maltless Ale. Considered top-shelf stuff in taverns across the lands, Pepper Peete is said to be working on his next award-winning brew, Falling-Moose-Timber. As his namesake implies, Peete is fond of adding black pepper cloves to his beer, during the mash-turning process.
28. Dead Butterfly
A powerful concoction to be sure, brewed by the satyrs of Badgers Drift, this muddy, chartreuse ale, packs a wallop. Along with the usual hops, barley, and water, the satyrs imbue and steep wild roots and herbs into the mix, such as Wormwood and Angelika Root, and even add crushed butterfly dust of the species, speckled mad-jester. The combined effects of these wild ingredients, imbues the ale with hallucinogenic properties. Dead Butterfly is favored by starving artists, bohemians, and explorers of worlds beyond the doors of perception.
29. St. Psymyon’s Pilsner
St. Psymyon had the fanciful sobriquet, Psymyon of the Drunken Wolves. His legacy, his beer, was the basis of a fanciful legend. St. Psymyon was a hermit who lived in the wilds and brewed his own ales. One day, a pack of hungry wolves surrounded the defenseless holy-man, and surely would have torn him to pieces, were it not for a miracle. St Psymyon offered them the only thing he had to give besides his own flesh. His skin of ale. It was said that the wolves drank long and deep that night, and danced and howled with Psymyon beneath the pale moon. Now many hundreds of years later, St. Psymyons Pilsner, "Wolfs Love" in the colloquial tongue, is a pilsner brewed in the classic abbey tradition, with the recipe of St. Psymyon himself as a guide. Though unproven, many believe a wolf will never attack a man drunk on St. Psymyons Pilsner.
30. Dispater’s Mark
Give the devil his due, he makes a fine and bloody brew!
Dispaters Mark is the local brew of Discord, a city of the Nine Hells, ruled by Dispater himself. Deep, blood-red, or as some call it, Incarnadine Ink, this beer, technically a brown-ale, is one of the few exports which the Nine Hells has to offer. Brewed by colonies of horned-devils, and transported topside via the Gates of Adimox, countless barrels of dead-oak, are carted upon diabolic-looking wagons, pulled by hell-kine, once every year at winter’s solctice. The barrels are delivered to anonymous designated contacts (unsavory merchants) and then dispersed among distributors and innkeepers. Only the most cosmopolitan cities carry the Dispaters Mark brand. Though possessing a superb taste, Dispaters Mark does leave a brutal headache as a calling card, the following day.
MuroMax Productions holiday tribute to Magus of the Citadel and his cheese&wine; works.
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30 Rods and Staves By: Murometz ( Items ) Wand/Staff/ Arcane - Magical
...and walking sticks, and crosiers, and goads, and scepters, but no wands!
Crafted from the mummified, shriveled leg of a Minotaur prince, this staff is six-feet in length, wrist-thick, and wrapped in red-ochre hide, still slightly fuzzy to the touch. Crooked, shaped like a stretched out dog-leg, the staff tapers to a treated, cloven hoof, at one end. Though adventurers may think they have discovered a certain magic item, the Cloven-Hoof Staff, is not in fact magical. It belonged once, the leg, not the staff, to Kurmultar Snorts-Thunder, of the Falhathian Minotaurs. Such was his fury and berserk rage, that all that remained of Kurmultar, after the mighty Minotaur died in mid-battle, was one leg. That was all which was found of the prince, on the battle-field the next dawn, when the fighting had ceased. Horn-of-Plenty, the shaman, treated the leg of the hero with chemical baths, herbs and salves and finally mummified the leg, and so it became the staff of every Falhathain Prince from that day forth. A century ago or more it was lost however by the Minotaurs, and found by the were-bat thieves of the Vrisulni Clan, who still possess the staff to this day. The Vrisulni thieves have no notion of the staffs great importance to the Minotaurs, and have tossed it into a refuse-pile of other non-magical prizes, somewhere deep inside their labyrinthine wind-caves. If only the Minotaurs knew their relic was so close
A long, smooth, cedar staff, seven feet if an inch, and remarkably thin, crowned by several razor-thin wooden spikes, protrusions, appearing much like elongated pine-needles. The hand-hold for the walking-stick is just below this spike-burst, and the pole does indeed make a fine walking-stick, as well as a weapon if need be. Once per day, if the command word is spoken, the walking-stick will transform into an actual, live giant walking-stick insect, the size of a small horse, and fight for or otherwise aid the speaker! The walking stick can also transform into a normal-sized, mundane walking-stick bug, in lieu of the giant variety, in which case the owner can simply pocket the nearly two-dimensional appearing insect, until such time a wooden walking-stick is needed once more.
Greater Crosier of Rosilbeel
A larger version of the Lesser crook, the Greater Crosier of Rosilbeel the Plague-Ram, is a truly powerful weapon. With it in hand, the wielder can control any herd animal, mundane or supernatural, in great droves. Gorgons, hell-kine, and any other creature, animal or monster that is inclined by nature to herd can be controlled unerringly, by the crosiers wielder. Besides being protected by the Temple-on-the-Tundras Bison-Clan bonded-warriors, the Crosiers are doted on by a fetish-sorcerer, who tends to the safe-keeping of the mighty relics of his people.
Lesser Crosier of Rosilbeel
This shepherds crook of mahogany has been one of the holiest relics of the Bison Clans of the Great Grass Sea for centuries. They are holy crosiers of Rosilbeel the Plague-Ram, chief deity of the Bison-clans various cults. Kept behind stone inside the Temple-on-the-Tundra, the Lesser Crooks power is that with it the crosier-wielder can command any bovine creature to do anything reasonable within its power to obey the crosier-wielder, even putting itself in harms way. This involves only mundane bovine, cows, bulls, bison, antelope, and such, and not supernatural creatures such as gorgons or hell-kine.
This weapon, used by the spider-cultists of Shemoq, is a vile thing, a gnarled knob of blackened oak. If examined closely, dozens of the tiniest, scarlet spiders can be seen crawling along its length. The powers of this rod are subtle. If held out and the command word is spoken by a cultist, the tiny scarlet spider-swarm will immediately mobilize, and crawl quickly from the staff to whichever surface the wielder instructs, flesh included, and preferred. The spider-clusters bite the intended victims, almost imperceptibly, many times in succession, and quickly retreat back to the staff. Their cumulative little bites, almost flea-like and unfelt by most, will cause a heavy, lead-headed lethargy to overtake those bitten.
This creature, disguised as a plain, wooden, walking-stick, and used as such, can once per day animate, and take the form of a broom-stick like figure, sprouting spindly arms and legs of wood. This creature will serve the staff wielder faithfully, engaging in any and all tasks that it is capable of with gusto and efficiency. Though a less than stellar combatant, the stick-golem is quite useful, as long as he isnt torched, and set aflame. The Broom-stick golem staff is crafted of living-wood, a rare substance found in only the most impenetrable of jungles.
The Solitarian Staff
This staff is just a hair over six feet in length and seemingly sculpted out of pale wood by the flowing of water or the passage of many hands. The bearer of the staff, after meditating with it for at least two hours can go unnoticed for the rest of a day so long as he doesn’t leg go of the staff. This odd ability was created by a magic using hermit who wished to be left utterly alone. When he had an inkling that some snot-nosed would be heroes were assaulting his mountaintop home, he would pick up his staff, meditate and then head down to the village at the foot of the mountain and get drunk until the troublesome adventurers-upon-return had given up and gone on about their business.
The Rod of Fumigation
This short, thick, fat rod is made of brass and a peculiar green and purple wood. When the rod is extended and a command word given, a noxious cloud spews from the end of it. The effects of the gas can be metered out to three levels of dosage. The weakest dosage, which can be used almost at will causes a small area to be filled with a stinging gas like weak tear gas. The second level hits a larger area and is a very strong tear gas. The last setting covers a smaller area, but the roiling green gas is highly poisonous and can quickly cause suffocation and convulsing death. The Rod was created some years ago by a mage who was beyond the point of being tired of kobolds infesting his pantries.
Persilbridge Walking Stick
This walking stick is popular in the Persilbridge region and is commonly affected by intelligentsia and magi. The folk of Persilbridge are known for being among the most socially upstanding and magically elite, and by default, many people assume anyone bearing on of these staves has these same attributes. Some less than savory magi will further enchant this perception for their own ends. The walking stick is four feet long, comfortable in the hand, and hard enough to be used to deflect a sword for a few strikes, or disarm a dagger wielding hooligan.
The scholar LaTrayte suffered from a life long curse, he was ever chased and per sued by dogs and wolves everywhere he went. Some jested that he had been a cat in a former life, or had killed many dogs and they were just keen to return the favor. Whatever the cause of his malediction, LaTrayte created this forked rod for the sole purpose of controlling canids. While almost useless against a lycanthrope, the rod is irresistible to domesticated dogs, and even wolves find that they cannot ignore a command that wouldn’t violate their nature. A dog can be made to do almost any trick, a few words at the most, while a wolf could be commanded to go away or hunt elsewhere.
Common among goblin shamans and witch doctors, a Wathawurung is a special goblin sized stave that allows a goblin to speak in the tongues of the elements of rock, and flame. In the hands of a non-goblin, the staff causes the bearer to suffer from glossalia, speaking in tongues. Until the staff is dropped, the bearer cannot communicate with anyone, it is not obvious that the staff is the cause of the affliction. It has a minor bonus to combat uses.
Long belonging to a man of the cloth who served a second master, the bottle, Agraffe’s staff is a traditional priest’s crozier but it is hung with a bottle of wine. The bottle will slip and slosh, but some blessing keeps the wine inside from spilling out. The greatest gift, or curse, of the staff is that the bottle hanging from the crook will never truly be empty unless the bottle is broken, or the god of bounty and wine is insulted.
Rod of Suffering
This smooth black rod is tipped with a small blade, half the size of a dagger. It is ideally used by a magic user with some martial proficiency, as the rod offers no skill in attacking or blocking. The blade on the end is durable, but by itself inflicts only cursory damage. When the rod is powered by a spellcaster pumping a spell into it, it becomes something worse. With a scored hit, the rod discharges a Cause Injury spell in addition to any damage from the piercing blade. This magical attack ignores armor unless it is magical armor. The rods were used by monk-like magi who would strike exposed areas of their foes and cripple them with pain before dispatching them with necromantic spells or ritual daggers across their exposed throats.
The Shepherds Crook
A peculiar staff, of limited powers, but useful for anyone in need of a walking-stick, this plain crook of elm, was first used by shepherds of the Endless Ranges, during their long treks, with no company, except for their herds. Gifted to a particular shepherd by a particular wizard friend, the crook was later reproduced in droves by other artificers. The crooks powers are such that it will always sense, when gripped, whenever the shepherd is tired or extremely bored. When tired, a shepherd holding this staff, will receive tiny jolts of energy from the crook, and when bored, the staff will pepper the shepherds mind telepathically, with riddles, humorous anecdotes, and other thoughts, helping the far-ranging, lone-shepherd from losing his mind, or falling asleep from exhaustion at inopportune times.
Barely two feet long, this scepter is barely more than a glorified wand. It’s powers are subtle, and easily overlooked. In the hands of a woman, even the most shrewish book keeper, prim matron, or haughty debutante becomes a coy and frivolous young woman. There are no physical changes, but the old demeanor is replaced with one that is drawn to drama and intrigue, gossiping and scandal mongering. The scepter can be pulled open to reveal a lace lady’s fan.
The Mad Emperor’s Bane
This gold chased rod, set with a goose-egg star sapphire, was pulled from the clutches of a deranged emperor as he lay dying on the floor of his throne room. A kingdom’s ransom went into the making of the rod, and as such it’s powers are impressive. With a gesture, a dozen or more harem girls can be created from the rod. These girls can be as mundane or exotic as the rod’s master’s wishes. The rod has created Tsharan dancing girls, known for their double-jointed hips, Cyrackian warrior maidens reduced to coquettes, and triple-breasted fiendish women with abilities no mortal woman could imagine. Thrice a day, the rod can produce a lavish and thoroughly exotic feast. Rare game like giraffe stuffed with golden pears, dragon steak, and even fried pixies can be produced. The holder of the rod can also use the powers of the rod to cause people to ‘give in’ to their desire to take in pleasurable things, a limited form of magical persuasion. It was later found that after holding the rod long enough, the bearer becomes more and more jaded to the pleasures of life and only more and more bizarre things can stir their passions.
The Staff of Opening Ways
This large and baroque staff is chased with gold, inlaid with panels of ivory and studded with star rubies. Once carried by the hand of a semi-divine god-king, this staff exists as a piece of his now faded divine mandate. The God-King claimed that he could walk, unimpeded, from one side of his kingdom to the other. Some nobles and clerics scoffed but with the aid of this divinely fueled staff he proved himself right. With a triple knock, a stone wall will disassemble itself long enough for the bearer to pass through. Likewise, a tap will make a tree move a few steps to the side. It’s most strenuous use is to break the flow of rivers to allow the passage of the staff bearer. Some wonder if the staff if powerful enough to cross an ocean, or to even make a mountain move. Thus far, no one has attempted to use the staff in such a manner.
A type of rod rather than a specific one, War Rods are popular among martially minded clerics who wish for something with a bit more power than simple clubs, but without the mess and gore of hammers, flails and maces. These rods, usually matched sets, function for the cleric or magus based not on their strength or dexterity, but with their force of will or intelligence. These weapons seldom inflict damage as dire as a sword or mace, but a magic user can cast a spell through the rods which will affect the next foe they hit in combat. Some of the more popular spells for this are shaped fireballs, fear inducing magics, or in the case of the clerics of S’ck the god of pestilence and vermin, a spell that conjures a swarm of poisonous biting insects.
Staff of the Lamb
This iron shod staff is topped with a leering ram-like gargoyle and can be used as an excellent melee weapon. The butt is hardened iron and can take a few hard hits before deforming. Used by the suicidally fanatical troops of Togaille, the Staff of the Lamb is a mutually assured destruction weapon. In combat, the staff bearer is often among the last troops to face heavy combat and among the last to fall. If it seems that defeat is unavoidable, the soldier can activate the Staff of the Lamb, offering his last few breaths to further fuel the arcane energy stored in the weapon. There is a brilliant flash of light and a pulse of necrogenic energy blossoms out from the weapon. In a large radius all mortal life, from insects and plants to men and monsters is snuffed out by the blast. All the remains is silence and the corpses of the dead. It is not uncommon for the staff bearer to rise from this blast as a semi-coherent zombie and either carry on the fight, if anything survived, or return to bear the witness of their defeat.
Arm of the Striking Serpent
This brass clad staff is nearly eight feet long, it’s head a ball of bright citrine quartz, it’s foot a helmet cracking fist. The staff is fast and agile in the hands of a trained soldier, but its real unexpected power is that the warrior can invoke the staff to fire a blast of arcane energy at a foe. This attack is as accurate as a shotgun blast and is short ranged, but can hit multiple foes, stunning and knocking many to the ground with it’s force. The staff is used in a specific martial art that deals with fighting many opponents on level ground.
Staff of Celestial Obedience
This white and gold staff is hung with seven gold rings that jingle as the staff is carried. These staves are gifts from the celestial gods in overseeing the function of little gods, elementals, and demons in creation. Being vessels of divine will, the staff can be used as an automatic holy symbol against undead and infernal forces. When being faced by elementals, little gods, and other sub-god status spirits, the bearer of the staff is more than a cleric, but a magister of divine will. If the staff is planted in the earth and the bearer evokes the names of the celestial god that imbued him with the staff, no elemental can lay a hand on him, and in some instances, the cleric can attempt to steal control of the spirit away from an arcane summoner.
The Baron’s Walking Stick
In the swamps of Suisaidh, death isnt a skeleton clutching a scythe, or a dour faced monster waiting to eat the souls of the departed. There, death is appears like a man, his face painted white, a pipe smoldering between his lips. His breath is liquor and his laughter is loud and frightening. He is dressed as a rich man, but his manners are course and low-born, his humor suited for the tavern or the gallows. But his greatest gift is that of his walking stick, a handsome black length of wood, unassuming in even the remotest fashion. He that carry the death man’s walking stick, he is one who will never die. Knives may cut him, and fire will burn but he will be reborn from ashes in the passage of the sun and will walk again. That is, until the death man comes back for his walking stick.
Scepter of Temophis
The sacred burial scepter, the royal rod the Kings of Samatek take to their graves, is unlike the scepter of office, which they wield during their reign. The Scepter of Temophis is said to be the kings new rod, identifying him as a king, to the legions of spirits in the afterlife. The Scepter, named for the first high-priest of Samatek, is said to protect the king beyond the grave. The staff is of darkened ivory, spiraled ibex-horn, topped by a jewel the color of pigeon-blood. It has no magical powers, but its value is inestimable to the Samatek Dynasty.
Von Zygilveins Staff of Musical Globes
The Mad Composer was always seen with his fine, walking staff, with which he could amaze his friends and befoul his foes in equal measures. The staff can generate as many as seven fluid globes, each the size of a lemon, which simply emerge from the staffs tip, like soapy bubbles, and float languidly through the air, riding the currents. The floating globes are under the staff wielders complete control. He can direct their movement, sending the globes usually near the ears of chosen targets. At this point the bubbles will burst, and either beautiful music or a sound of unbearable, ear-splitting intensity will become audible only to that single target, and no one else within range.
St. Jaroffs Holy-Roller
A smooth wooden staff shaped to resemble a bakers rolling pin, St. Jaroffs Roller was named for a baker, well-known in his day, who went on to be posthumously anointed a Saint by the church. His miracle involved the baking of the Great- Pie of Sustenance, which fed and kept from starvation, six-thousand souls for nearly two years, during the historic siege of the city Jaroff called home. His second miracle was the fighting off of three ravenous wolves with naught but his rolling pin. To this day, Monks of Silpeg carry St. Jaroffs Holy-Rollers as both their staves and as symbols of faith.
Kiebr Gogo Begg’s Goad
A proper slaver-mongers goad, not unlike the Rod of Suffering in effect, this innocuous-looking implement, carved from wood of the mythical dragon-trees of Sotoril, appears as a slender wand-like item. Not unique, these goads are prized by wealthy slavers. It is said these goads are capable of inflicting pain with a touch, anything from mild discomfort to debilitating agony, and helps the obese self-styled Pasha keep his thralls in line.
A short, thick, and sturdy rod made of some dense, blue-black, metallic ore, Starfall, as it is named, was in fact crafted by the northern barbarian tribes of the tundra, forged from meteorite. It is said that the tribes witnessed an auspicious meteor shower streaking across the night sky one night, and followed the streak until they at last came upon a smoldering crater in the ground. Excavating the dense iron-like ore, the smiths of the tribes, forged this rod, as a symbol for their chieftains. And so it would be the end of the tale, if not for the fact that the vile sorcerers of a southern land, anticipated the meteor shower with their astrological scrying, and have now sent a formidable force north, to retrieve the meteorite for their own vile purposes, as their Jackal-headed god has foretold of its auspicious importance in some, upcoming dark ritual. The barbarians are not aware of this, but the metal of the Starfall Rod, is imbued with great magic.
This legendary rod, four feet of lead and iron, covered in a strange coating of moss, and thick as a tree branch, is lost somewhere in the golem-infested, sinking ruins of the Golem-Masters Keep, a once feared artificer-mage, who was finally brought low by a band of stalwart adventurers. His powerful rod remained unfound however. The rod is powered by Golem Moss, a single touch from the weapon, releasing the virulent golem-destroying substance. The Golem-Master used this rod to destroy unwanted and unruly creations and automatons.
The legendary mist-giant Bornegault, had many a weapon at his disposal. One of them was this huge oaken staff, gnarled and blackened by the ages. Sixteen feet long, and weighing in at seventy pounds, this staff cannot be wielded by most humanoids. In the hands of a giant, or someone with sufficiently-boosted strength, the wielder of Bornegaults Staff can speak the language of Treants, and is able to slay any tree-folk or their kin, treants included, with but a single strike! How this massive staff was constructed, and why this brutal weapon was ever made, are questions that cannot be answered, for they died with Bornegault centuries ago. It is said the staff is currently planted vertically in the ground, disguised amidst a patch of spruce and oak, in some dark, unexplored forest. Needless to say, agents of the tree-folk search for this vile item incessantly.
A mundane looking staff with one minor difference. A small humanoid foot of lead, only a few inches in size, is hung from a tassle along the staff’s length. This lead foot talisman, allows the wielder to traverse the mysterious Talon Trails, whispered about by sages and wizards. If removed from the staff, the lead-foot will cease to fucntion, and the staff will lose its power as well. An additonal power of the staff, enables the owner to never get lost, when traveling uncharted terrain.
The Staff of Omens
This legendary staff has long been carried by the warrior kings of Raichias. Seven feet long and made of steel, it can only be carried by someone of Raichian noble blood, a warrior of great heart, or someone with the strength of an ogre. A king can at will use the staff to mystically search for threats to his kingdom, a magical sight beyond sight. In battle, the staff is a blur of steel, able to break shields and crack helmets like ripe fruit. It’s biggest power is the ability to reset a battle. Once per engagement, the bearer of the staff can invoke it’s greatest power. The bearer must give a lusty battlecry and thrust the staff into the air. The crystal set in the heart of the staff will cast a brilliant fiery red light that covers most of the battlefield. Initiative is reset in the favor of the bearer’s allies, his warriors gain a temporary bonus to combat abilities, and his foes a negative modifier. Lesser foes must flee the immediate vicinity of the staff, while stronger ones actually lose their action for the turn. Finally, the injured and wounded warriors of the are blessed with a wave of curative magic. For some it is just enough to get them back on their feet and into the battle, others it helps to survive long enough to be treated by the healers.
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30 Ships By: Murometz ( Items ) Transports - Non-Magical
30 unique ships, for those times when you need one on the fly. The class or type of each ship is provided. Included are three odd ones from the pages of history.
A hulk is a ship that is afloat but incapable of going to see. A prison hulk is a floating prison. The Leviathan is the most infamous of them all. Floating like a great, bloated carcass, Leviathan, or the "Creaking Hell", as inmates call this huge ship-gaol, sits astride the Isthmus of the Vos-Metan, and no more heinous prison, for which there are no words vile enough, exists in all the world.
Xanavar’s Cinnamon Orchid
Shallop (Pleasure Barge)
Xanavaar, a well-known spice merchant from distant shores, is quite famous for his soirees and water-bourne pleasure cruises. Once his business is done in any given port-city, and his coin accumulated, the eccentric man will stage a celebration for his best customers, fellow merchants, and occasional members of nobility. As can be expected, the pleasure shallop cruises the bay or gulf lazily, while delicacies are served to the invited guests, performers and carnal slaves cater to the needs of the gathered, and wild tales and gossip of distant kingdoms is discussed
Zog’s Goblin Mutineers
Sailing from the filthy ports of the Dirdum Islands, Captain Zog and his crew of salt crusted goblins are among the most rank and vile of pirate scum to ever walk the salt road. Their ship is technically nameless since no one recognizes who she was before the goblins commandeered her. The ship itself is a small two master that is surprisingly fast and agile, and the goblins are able to handle the ship fairly well. Zog’s favorite tactic is to shadow ships at distance and then creep up on them when they put into a cove to take on supplies. Many a merchantman has lost it’s crew and cargo to the waves of green goblins who pour over the gunwhales with hooked cutlasses and torches to put to the sails.
A knarr is viking-like merchant ship, deeper-hulled and wider in the beam than the famous longships of war. Strohvang’s Knarr is one such ship. Strohvang is a merchant through and through, and refuses to raid or pillage, or steal. He believes only in fair trade, and despite having forty men who are abler warriros than sailors, he will avoid all conflict if possible. Strohvang’s blood-thirsty (viking-like) brethren who do raid the coasts, give the merchant a bad name and make his attempts at fair trade and barter difficult, as he is looked upon with suspicion by those he tries to deal with.
Rule of Law
A light hulled ship sporting three masts and impressive amount of canvas making her a very fast, if often temperamental ship to control. Most often this courier ship finds itself running between ports in Falhath to points west. When times grow more violent, the Rule of Law hoists the red flag and sails into battle, carrying Trinitine Paladins as marines.
Two years ago, the entire crew of this ship, down to a man, was rendered permanently invisible by some unknown, vile sorcery, somewhere amidst the fumerole atolls of the mysterious Summerhorn Archipelago. The reactions of the men were at first divergent. Some were horrified, some ecstatic (especially the wanted criminals of the crew), some scant few even went mad after only several months, unable to cope with the realization. Others suggested pooling monies and seeking wizards, and yet others partook in near instant skullduggery and even murder.
Eventually the surviving men of the Breathing Wind decided upon a life of cooperative piracy, perhaps predictably, after realizing the incredible advantage, their affliction had granted them. Before long, the Breathing Wind became one of the most famous ghost-ships on the Six Seas. As can be expected, the crewmen recognize each other by their practiced and enhanced senses of touch, smell, and hearing, have no trouble telling each other apart, and working in deadly unison
The Silver Reske
A two masted merchantman, the Silver Reske is broad hulled and has a deep draft. Built some years ago, the Reske cannot be mistaken for anything but a cargo hauler due to her less than impressive speed, deep draft, and poor manueverability. The crew of the Reske carries a mundane of green tea sold under the Aegis of the Elven Green Tea Company and many of the crewmembers have demonstratable elven heritage. Otherwise the Reske is a run-of-the-mill cargo ship.
The Thol Modhra
Most have never heard of the Orkash Empire and their dominion of the continent of Kelkivka, and there is only relic left from when their hands touched Aterrizar and that is the hulk of the Thol Modhra. At nearly 400 feet in length and having 12 decks, she is a massive ship made of a seemingly impervious black wood that has not degraded from contact with sun or seawater. In her day, she had four masts and made decent speed to transport her massive crew of nearly 1000 men and women across the Sea of Worms.
War-Galley, type: fire-ship
Fire ships are generally older ships that are no longer fit for combat. Stripped of unneeded gear these ships are packed to the gunwhales with flammables and explosives and sailed directly into the gullets of enemy formations or harbors. The later explosions and flames can make brutal work of the tar and pitch sealed hulls of wooden ships and their acres of flying canvas. The Hellburner is unique among fire ships in that she has sailed twice, and come back twice. Both times she returned, she was little more than a floating hulk without decks or masts, but the hull held and survived, like it had gone through hell and back.
The Biddle Fee
A small single masted ship, the Biddle Fee is an average trawling ship used by the coasters of Suisaidh. With a crew of seven, the Biddle Fee trawls the shallow waters of the brackish estuary, dredging up shellfish and relics from the past.
The captain of this foreboding vessel is Saltheart, a grim and mournful dwarf. One of the few dwarves on the high seas, he is a notorious figure along the treacherous coasts of the Pagan Straits, for Saltheart and his crew of one hundred able-bodied sailors, one hundred rowers and fifty myrmidons are water-borne mercenaries for hire, plying their trade at the behest of the highest bidders. The ship is named for Qysa, Salthearts beloved, his wife, who died of some horrid sea-borne disease, shortly after joining her husband on board.. Devastated, and refusing to give her a proper sea burial as advised by his men, Saltheart redesigned the lower of the three banks of the ship, to resemble a proper dwarven subterranean tomb, packing the bottom of the dromon with fresh earth and powdered soapstone, and to this day keeps her corpse preserved inside a stone sarcophagi below board. The massive figurehead of the ship, is likewise a likeness of bearded Qysa, weighing four hundred pounds and twinned on both sides of the bowsprit
Metalwave is an abandoned, yet haunted battleship of immense size, a rusted titan of iron, with a dozen cannons for guns. Abandoned after WWI, Metalwave became a ship possessed, haunted by the countless souls who perished on its decks Floating silently, excep for a low, iron-groan, Metalwave seeks out enemies that no longer exist, still ready for battle.
The Megarrazune, the brainchild of Felspan Megarrazune, is a the world’s only marine menagerie. The massive barge is host to a crew of nearly 50 men and animal handlers as three times that number in animals, ranging from the common, most often used as food stock, to the exotic, carried to lure customers aboard to spend their coin. The ship has several problems, mostly due to it’s large size and box-like construction. The Megarrazune does not travel well as it has low sides and in rough weather is prone to taking on excessive amounts of water. It also lacks a mode of propulsion, instead it is towed from harbor to harbor.
The name of an imaginary ship, sometimes mentioned by sailors. If a sailor be asked what ship he belongs to, and does not wish to tell, he will most probably reply, "The Spidireen Frigate, with nine decks and ne’er a bottom!"
Elvish Colonial Ship
It is said that the elves could make a tree grow anywhere and the Cormamin is a testament to their skill with living wood. This ship was grown from no fewer than forty living trees. Their trunks were used to form the masts and the root structures grew very rapidly to form the hull and decking of the ship. The cross-section of this ship is strong due to this intertwining of root structures, making the Cormamin a very sturdy ship. The broad and densely packed leaves of the trees do not make for the best sails so the Cormamin is not a fast ship by any means, but her crew is very much at home in it in a way that no human sailor will never be at home in the sails and rigging of a ship.
The Ship of the Sea
Created ages ago, this ship is comprised of nothing but magically held water. A smallish sloop, the Ship of the Sea is fast and nimble, but unsuited to war as she has no weapons and little room to carry marines. The heart of the ship resides in a magical compas made of sapphire and star metal, and if this object is taken more than 100 feet from the water, the ships explodes in a cascade of water. When it is brought back to water, the ship is reformed in the matter of 1D4 hours.
The Nidus Nefandus
This ship began life literally as a great whale, but as all living things do, the beast died, but washed ashore rather than sink to the bottom. A Necromancer-Lord giddily claimed the corpse and reanimated it and preserved it. While the beast served him well he was at a loss for what to do with it after sinking fishing boats and such became booring. He has his craftsmen, living and dead, fashion a sort of hybrid construction on top of the beast, part palace part ship’s quarters. The Nidus Nefandus was then born as the upper portion of the whale was plated and decked and became one of the earliest self-propelled ships. Most of the crew is undead to save on saving room by not carrying as much foodstuffs and are immune to the diseases fermenting inside the magically preserved corpse-hull.
The Glass Squid
Whatever sorceries were involved in the making of this ship, are now lost to time. The Glass Squid appears as exactly that, a forty-foot ship designed for underwater travel, constructed of some kind of indestructible glass, and shaped by some experet, alien hand into the form of a squid. This bizarre "vessel", is currenty on exhibit in Nimz’ Kunskamer Museuem of Unidentified Objects.
There are few captains quite like Cap’n Arrikan, being a man of song rather than a man of action. Arrikan is certainly no stranger to the fine points of swordsmanship, but he is in his heart, a bard. Few ships can sing sea chanties as well as the crew of the Lanterloo and the number of aspiring bards that join the crew for a short time is large. The ship carries on a good trade, and aside from her boisterously singing crew and ever-smiling captain, is much like any other cargo hauler.
The Ten-Jug Jolly
The Ten-Jug Jolly has the unsettling reputation of changing more owners over more hands of cards than any possible ship in existance. Originally belonging to a wine merchant and part time smuggler, the Ten-Jug has been hauling wine for more than two generations. She has traded hands no fewer than 26 times, once by murder, sold thrice, and lost in games of chance 23 times. Those who know of the ship consider ‘betting the Jolly’ to be a fools chance.
This ship is feared as her captain hails from the stone gazing gorgons and is half woman, half snake. The Captain, a lone and mysterious figure keeps many secrets and her face covered with a veil of gold coins. The Gorgon’s Gaze has done work as plebian as hauling loads of turnips and cotton, to serving as a privateer during times of war as well as turning pirate as the mood strikes the captain.
The fastest ship out there, state-of-the-art, a constantly tweaked and upgraded vessel, the Seven Flies belongs to the infamous bucaneers brothers, and ever-rare co-captains, Artog and Beleg Seven-Flies. Deeds of daring are synonymous with their names. Their success in running blockades stemming from the fact that the Seven-Flies brother’s grandfather, is none other than Ephril Gandess, guildmaster of the Shipbuilders Union.
Gosroff was a well-known beggar of Jantir’s streets, and a collector of obsessive proportions. Knick-knacks, oddities and junk Gosroff collected until there ws nomore room in his manor to stor it all. Gosroff took to the sea, building a himself a junk made of jumk, using hundreds of different materials, and attaching every chocka he possessed somehow to the ship. From afar, Gosroff’s Junk appears like a floating junkyard.
The Sea-Foam Rider
The Sea-Foam Rider is a longship in the Viking fashion with a single mast and oarlocks and is capable of both river and oceanic travel. Unlike viking ships, there is no dragon motif, but rather a swan’s head graces the front of the vessel and the shields hung over the sides are decorated with elven sigils and crests. But this is no ship or harpists and flute players. The crew of the Sea-Foam Rider are counted as the fairest of raiders and among the most fierce. As their white hulled ships beach and spill their cargoes of elven berzerkers and warriors and cut-ear archers, the coastal folk cower in terror. While rapine is less common, looting, pillaging and burning of villages is certainly not reduced.
In true gnomish fashion, the Volcano is a beast of spinning gears, hissing boilers, and cunningly designed cam-shafts and expansion drives. Lacking sails but sporting a thick armor hull studded with iron spikes, the Volcano seems like a fiery island out of Hell’s black seas. The Gnomish marines fight with folding arbalests, steam powered harpoon launchers, and the Volcano can spew a gout of semi-molten slag and debris from the lining of it’s furnace onto ships that venture to close. Thankfully the Volcano has poor manueverability and while is capable of frightening speed, has poor acceleration and almost no braking ability.
The Golden Goose
A monstrous, multi-decked, pompadour of a ship, the Golden Goose is that rarest of all sea-borne finds. A treasure-ship ladden with gold, heaving from the weight of the coin-chests stuffed into its hull. Originally, the Golden Goose and its cargo, was a dowry from one extravagant Pasha to another, in return for the latter’s daughter. The ship was to be sailed with pomp and circumstance as gift, but was lost at sea, and never found again. What will the PCs do exactly, with this once-in-a-lifetime discovery?
The ship of the infamous corsair, the self-styled, Pasha Das-Memsek Rakaswarry "The Boot", boards fifty rowers and fifty more men-at-arms, with a deck protected by wooden rails from arrows and stones. A primitive, poorly manueverable construction, the Pimboogledry, which means "Wife-Stealer" in the Knaga tongue, and its oiled-mustached crew of corsairs, nevertheless plies the waters of the vast Zokr River successfully, due to the highly developed tactical mind and charisma of the five hundred pound, ship-bound, Pasha.
The Clam (the real deal)
Appearing as much like a clam as a turtle, this was the world’s first submarine used for battle. Invented in 1775, it was used to attach explosive charges to ships stationed in harbors. It was 8 feet long, 6 feet tall, and 3 feet wide. It was constructed of twin wooden shells, covered in tar and reinforced with steel bands. None other than Benjamin Franklin himself, suggested bioluminescence, in providing this fascinating contraption some illumination.
Panokseon (the real deal)
These impressive and intimidating warships of pinewood were used by the Korean dynasty in the 16th century, and were the precursors of the later, more well-known, turtle ships, which were simply Panokseons with extra hulls placed as roofs atop their upper decks. Many victories were scored against Japanese forces and pirates with these multi-decked, observation-towered, flat-keeled, behemoths, which were powered by both sail and oar.
Demologos (the real deal)
Demologos was the first ever warship to be propelled by a steam engine. A wooden floating battery, designed uniquely, and built to defend New York Harbor in the War of 1812, the Demologos never saw action due to the abrupt end of the war. No other ship like it, was ever built again. A giant catamaran, her paddlewheel sandwiched between twin hulls. Each hull was an unprecedented five feet in thickness, to protect the ship against gunfire. Sixteen 32 lb guns were mounted on board , and a steam engine capable of 5.5 knots completed the behemoth. (Steampunk anyone?)
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Cloister of the Empty Table By: Murometz ( Society/ Organizations ) Mystical - Area
Come ye who HUNGER!
I have faith in you Oh Emptiness.
I have faith in the Eternal Fast.
I have faith in the Infinite Thirst.
Ayyoshas suffering be praised! Overcome any bitterness that may have come
because you were not up to the magnitude
of the pain and suffering that was entrusted to you.
Like Ayyosha, the Mother of Hunger
who carries the pain of the world
in her heart, each one of us is
part of her heart and therefore
each is endowed with a certain measure
of cosmic hunger
You are sharing in the totality
of that suffering and are called upon
to meet it in joy instead of
Only when you purge yourself of all sustenance
can you begin to tread the path of enlightenment.
Oh Emptiness that I come from,
out of which all things come,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the Emptiness pulls in everything,
shapes and fires, beasts and men.
How easily it gathers them,
powers and people.
It is possible a great energy is moving near us.
I have faith in you Oh Emptiness.
I have faith in the Eternal Fast.
I have faith in the Infinite Thirst.
Ayyoshas suffering be praised!
excerpts from The Gospel of Ayyosha
As the concepts and tenets of the One True Faith became fully forged among the halls of the One-King of Haracon and his cronies, the priests and ambassadors of the new religion began to expand their beliefs and extend their tendrils of influence across the lands. The idea was simple. Regardless of what anyone believed or who or what they worshipped, all the people needed to recognize and heed THE SOURCE of everything. The single point of focus, from which all gods, goddesses, and demons came from, was the heart of all belief according to the newly formed church. The myriad gods and religions of the people needed to be re-calibrated and centralized. There was no other effective way of governing such a diverse and widespread populace. At first, nominated popes of the One True Faith preached passive conversion. Believe in what you will, they preached in their sermons, but understand that your gods come from THE SOURCE. Eventually, and unsurprisingly, the agents of the One True Faith turned toward a more sinister approach to conversion. The word Pagan was introduced into the worlds vocabulary, and soon, all the gods and goddesses of men were being denounced and supplanted by the evolving, rigidly monotheistic One True Faith.
Often, wherever the Faith spread, violence and rebellions soon followed. The final hammer blow, from the One-King of Haracon, came in the form of The Inquisition. The popes and priests of the city of Waod, in northern Haracon, were selected and appointed the purveyors and enforcers of the Faith. These men and women became the favorites of the One-King in their ardor and ruthlessness, and proceeded to ring in a new age of torture and despair among the populace over the next half-century. In almost every sense this Inquisition was not unlike the one in Europe during the middle ages.
This is the story of one such Inquisitor, the vile Sastanimoq of Waod, and Ayyosha, a young sister of a local pagan order of the town of Juosel, what transpired between them thereafter, and the new order which she gave rise too.
Ayyosha belonged to a nameless, humble monastic order, which venerated the Inner Gods. This group believed in the Self, and eschewed worship of gods of the outside realm. The order preached nothing more than self-respect, self-preservation, and self-enlightenment. They believed the gods dwell within the individual, and worship was one of focus on ones own inner strengths and weaknesses as well as the pursuit of self-improvement through abstinence and the necessary suffering of the body and soul to achieve salvation in the next life.
Sastanimoq of Waod, was one of Haracons most vile and nefarious inquisitors. A man who was born to cause pain and suffering upon the less fortunate or the powerless. He took to the One True Faiths crusade of conversion with great relish and false conviction. Sometime during his traveling crusade he came upon the town of Jousel, and the small Cloister of the Inner God. Predictably, when the members of this monastery refused the conversion to the One True Faith, Sastanimoq went to work. Burning the chapterhouse and chapel, he then proceeded to round up the members and torture them, until they either accepted the Faith or died horribly. A few men and women escaped Sastanimoqs wraith. One of those original escapees was Ayyosha, a brave and willful young woman. Not only did she escape but she returned to Juosel under cover of darkness with a few comrades, as Sastanimoq and his torturers were preparing to have their supper feast. Through great guile, Ayyosha had the meals of the inquisitor and his cronies poisoned. Many Hammers of the One True Faith perished that night, but Sastanimoq survived. Learning of the treachery and the identities of the conspirators behind the act, he did not rest until they were all found, including Ayyosha.
Sastanimoq had infinite torture techniques at his disposal, but as punishment for the surviving members of the Inner God, he chose starvation. The monks and sisters of the Cloister practiced fasting as part of their rituals, and Sastanimoq was gleeful with his decision to make the survivors endure the ultimate fast. Six members were slowly straved to death. All but one, denounced their pagan beliefs before the bitter, excruciating end. Only Ayyosha suffered in silence. Throughout her torture, she had only one moment of weakness. Toward the end, Sastanimoq brought her feces to eat, and being delirious and maddened by hunger she partook of the excrement much to Sastanimoqs delight and amusement. Still though she did not renounce her faith. Nor did she beg. What happened next was a miracle of sorts
Ayyosha did not die, but was instead transformed. Sastanimoq saw her pale skin, the darkness around her eyes, and thought that she had perished as rose up as a shambling undead. Such things had occurred before and he was equipped to deal with them. Unfortunately for him, Ayyosha was no shambling corpse. Displaying increased strength, she took the holy symbol of the One True Faith from him and sent the Inquisitor running. He would not recall that she touched him and filled him with a great and terrible hunger. Sastanimoq was found the next day, dead, in front of a table of half-eaten food. After gorging himself to fill the emptiness his stomach burst and the Hammer of the One True Faith was undone by a roasted capon, bowls of lentils, and several loaves of crusty bread.
The Real Story
Locked in a small cell, surrounded by cold stone with only her hunger as a companion, Ayyosha refused to accept the false faith of the One True Faith. She cried out in her soul, weeping for vengeance against the men who had brought low her world, who had tortured her friends, her family. And she was answered, and was changed. She was the first to experience the Purgation as a fragment of the Arch-Demon of Famine wove itself into her body. With great effort of will, the almost dead Ayyosha vomited up her own stomach, giving the black motes of infernal power a place to nestle inside her torso.
The fragment of demonic essence allowed her to live on without consuming food or liquid, though Ayyosha was left to deal with the constant pangs of hunger. But as the gospel of Ayyosha saith; with prayer and meditation, the pain of hunger fades. Ayyoshas metabolism has completely stopped, and she has no need to even breath, but does so out of convenience. She is powered by the shard of demon power within her abdomen, which fuels itself by geomantic respiration (what do you think all that meditating is for) as well as leeching life force from those living around her. This power extends further out to curse people, spoil food and crops, and cause the stillbirth of livestock.
Armed with this new found vitality, Ayyosha returned to the old site of her home, and only the three story block-house that was the old monastery remained. Stone wouldnt burn no matter how much Sastanimoq tried to light it. She began to preach her own Gospel, revealing herself as a living saint of true divinity rather than the false dogma of the One True Faith. Soon, the Cloister of the Empty Table grew from Ayyosha alone to include the Thirteen Disciples and even more to come.
The Cloister of the Empty Table was originally a small monastery that was abandoned by the Trinitine Faith after the ruin of the Cathedral of Haracon. In their wake, the monastery was occupied by Ayyosha and her pagan fellows. It was here that she returned after escaping Sastanimoq. What transpired between the two is unknown, but his body was found the next day stone cold dead. In front of him was found the remnants of enough food to fill six mens bellies. Some whisper that Ayyosha gave him the hunger she held within her own body and he ruptured his stomach trying to fill that hollow ache.
The monastery has a heavy and uninspired architecture. The building is three stories of rough cut gray stone, a massive block with adjoining towers at each corner. The towers are square, and should the monastary come under siege, the walls will be easily breeched. A large set of double doors grant entrance to the main chapel, and a servants door grants entry to the rectory.
The ground floor houses the main chapel for prayer. It has abundant room, but many stone columns, divide the chamber into rows. Hanging between the columns nearest the wall are an array of shadow shrines. The typical shadow shrine holds symbols of self denial, prayer, and devotion. There is also a pulpit, the priest’s rectory, as well as the storage pantry for communion-y things, hymnals, candles and other such items. The rear two towers serve as private staircases to the second floor. One tower door is the main entrance to the high priest (Ayyosha) private chamber. The other leads into the library and archive.
The library and archives for record keeping, as well as the priest’s private chamber and guest chambers are located on the 2nd floor The guest chambers can comfortably accommodate as many as 16 guests, four to each of the austere but spacious rooms. The monastery was built with the tenets of hospitality and asylum in mind, and while there are few nobles and clergy who make use of the room, Ayyosha seldom has vacancies. Many young girls, especially young noblewomen are drawn to the rail thin nuns in response to their own inadequacies. Those afflicted with eating problems gravitate to the Cloister where they are shown kindness and the Gospel of Ayyosha.
The 3rd floor houses the private chambers of the 13 of her devoted disciples, each of whom has gone through the Purgation. There is also a sanctum where the ritual Purgation, the vomiting of the stomach and the accepting the shard of the infernal in its place, is performed. Access to the third floor is very tightly restricted to only the Disciples and Ayyosha herself.
The grounds surrounding the monastary are used to cultivate and grow flax. This crop has really no nutritional value, but is valuable for producing flax oil for making ink and dye, as well as weaving the plant fibers into linen. Rotation crop is basic fodder for the few animals kept to pull plows and to provide roughage for the mounts of those who might visit. The old grain mills have been converted to press the flaxseed for the oil, and the rest to drive looms to help spin and weave the linen. This way the monastary survives, has income, and isnt considered a font of unholy evil.
"Evil dear? Dont be silly, evil people dont make bedclothes."
Ayyosha is the Priestess of the Cloister. Her control is unchallenged by any of the Disciples. Most fearsome of all, Ayyosha and her Thirteen Disciples have the powers of ruination when it comes to foodstuffs. They have largely misunderstood and truthfully unknown abilities, which allow them to spoil meat with a touch, or rot crops and vegetables, even befoul fresh water. How these powers work is a mystery even to the sages who secretly study the Cloister. Lastly, the monks are known to always travel in pairs, and dread usually accompanies the sighting of two of the Thirteen disciples travelling together. They are often mistaken for zombies, loosley wrapped mummies, ghouls, or other various undead.
Many people might think the Disciples are all very much alike. Most people would be wrong. Presented in brief description below are four of the Thirteen.
Zizkanis- the first of Ayyosha’s Thirteen. Zizkanis never leaves the Cloister’s Keep. He is the called "The Second Sufferer" by the other monks and sisters. It is Zizkanis that makes sure Ayyosha’s Gospel is followed at all times, and he is the one that leads all the sermons and prayers within the compund. Ever so secretly, he hungers (hehe) for ultimate power and one day hopes to supplant Ayyosha herself, in leading the world into the throes of starvation.
Kuphsa- only twelve years of age, when she first turned up at the door of the monastery, Kuphsa suffered from severe bulemia. Taken in by the Cloister, she showed an almost unmatched fervor for the cause immediately and a mere three years later was initiated as one of the Thirteen. She is known as "The Vomiter" or "The Waif", and can often be seen expunging greenish bile from her mouth. She is wholly and completely devoted to Ayyosha, and fanatical in her beliefs.
Megiz Mott- this inventive and crafty monk was found by the order, on the verge of natural starvation, in a nameless non-descript swampy village. He had been punished by the village elders for denouncing the One True Faith, and was left to die in the swamp, until found by the monks and returned to the Cloister. It was Megiz Mott who introduced and developed the idea of flax seed farming, enriching the poor monastery, and achieving great respect among the Cloister for his expertise in growing the crop. He is known as "The Harvester"
Yomua - While Zizkanis rules the roost as Ayyosha’s second in command, it is Yomua who presides over the stomach-churning rituals and initiations. The old crone is known as "Sister Husk", among the Cloister’s members. She is more gaunt, putrefied and decrepid than any other member of the Thirteen, and is the one most often mistaken for a ghoul or decomposing mummy.
Beneath the Thirteen Disciples, there are the Initiated, who are the next cantidates for the demonic Purgation. These few are exceptionally devout in their denial of food, but are allowed a meager penance of water, and flaxseed. These are the clerks and clergy of the Cloister.
Beneath the Initiated are the lay-folk. These commonfolk were more than likely local before the monastary, and work the land. They have adopted some of the Cloister’s ideals, denying themselves meat, wine, cheese, deserts and the like, but still eating a fairly solid diet of grains and vegetables. They are of course looked down upon by the dissapproving Disciples.
Travelers, especially nobles and clergy are extended hospitality, though this is out of tradition and fear of drawing the wrong sort of attention. Guests are well treated, poorly fed if at all, and given the good and pious tour of the grounds. Those who probe too far might find themselves poisoned in their next greedily eaten and rancidly spoiled meal. There are those, however, which the order takes in willingly and with relish. Sufferers of Bulemia and Anorexia are whole-heartedly welcomed to the Cloister’s halls. Though these afflictions are unnamed and unknown medically, they do nevertheless exist, and there are girl and boys, quite often from noble families, that find there way to the Cloister suffering from various eating disorders. These supplicants and wayward souls are often preferred over others by the disciples when it comes to conversion to Ayyosha’s teachings. Where as in most monasteries these malnourished youths would be greeted with "Poor creature! come, we will fatten ye up with bread, and fruit, and fish" the Cloister greets such supplicants with "Ayyosha has been calling to you! You have done well to answer her summons, child of Emptiness"
The Feast of the Excrements
While most folk in Haracon ring in the autumn harvest with the Feast of Plenty, The Cloister stages a perverse panegyric of their own at this time of year. The Feast of the Excrements serves twin purposes. The first is the commemoration of the suffering of Ayyosha at the hands of Sastanimoq of Waod, and the deplorable extremes he resorted too during her slow starvation, by offering the delirious woman feces to consume, as a final mockery. The second purpose serves as a right of passage of sorts for the initiates, to judge who is truly ready for the Purgation!
Ayyosha herself, somewhat ironically, enters from her private chambers into the main hall, where the entire Cloister is gathered, and proceeds to gorge herself on some of the heaping piles of freshly steaming feces, both human and animal, laid out on a long spartan table. She then speaks some words of gospel and proceeds to return to her chambers, as quickly and silently as she came. It is then that the actual Feast commences, as the entire Cloister digs in, some with relish, some emotionless, and some of the newer initiates with obvious revulsion. The lay-folk that live near and around the Cloister have the unenviable task of procuring the necessary nourishments each year leading up to the Feast. They can often be seen visiting cattle-herders and public outhouses of nearby towns and cities in late summer, and returning to the Cloister, steering foul-smelling wagons, buzzing with flies. Wahtever is left over from the feast is used as fertilizer for the vast flaxseed crops.
The Rite of Purgation
The Rite of Purgation is the only things that separates the Disciples from the Initiates, and only the fact that Ayyosha was self-granted the rite elevates her over the others. The Rite follows the Feast of Excrement. The hopeful, and likely nauseated Initiated to the sanctum located on the third floor of the monastary. The chamber greatly resembles a prison cell, though the floor bears the markings of a great many sorcerous and not quite divine rituals. Splatters of candlewax litter the floor, and a large brass bowl.
An avater of the dark aspect of Famine, a demon if you will, is summoned for the ritual, a sacrifice of the greater power for the initiate. The Initiate is given a liquid concoction to drink, the contents of which are more foul that the previously attended feast. Aftering draining the vessel, the initiate begins to chant the Gospel of Ayyosha, also known as the Empty Sutra as the liquid courses through his body. During this time, the body and soul are both weakened enough for the fragment of the supernal demon of Famine to enter the body.
The change is sudden, and violent. Everything the supplicant has eaten is discharged. The brass bowl catches the mess, a mixture of poison drink, partially digested excrement, and after several painful minutes, the supplicant’s stomach. Once the organ has been expelled from the body, the pain ceases, and the shard of Famine finds a place to rest. The majority of supplicants simply perish as their will is insufficient to deny death’s call. The rare few who do endure enter the ranks of the disciples.
"Woe is upon you oh worker-of-the-earth, oh butcher of the beasts, oh consumer of foul nourishments, for Ayyosha cometh to lead the way to Emptiness!"
- Zizkanis preaching from from his pulpit
Merry Men We - The PCs are traveling through the area and try to find a place to sleep for the night and only the monastary is close by. How do they fare when facing the almost corpselike nuns and monks, and the very obvious, if questionable faith? How do they handle no supplies or provisions?
Princess Problems - tasked with finding and returning a runaway princess, the PCs track the girl to the Cloister, and not only have to confront the nuns, but the fact that the Princess is unhealthy and anorexic because of the demands placed on her by family and tradition, she has taken to the teachings of Ayyosha.
The Strange Sisters - The PCs are hired by a pair of Disciples as bodyguards for a long trip. The PCs must contend with their odd charges, their demands for privacy, and a holier-than-thou attitude any time they try to eat anything. They will try and convert any clerics.
Dont Spoil It For Me!- The PCs are summoned by a local magistarte who complains to them about failing crops, and sickly livestock. He has no doubt that the cause of this ruination and blight is the Cloister. He hires the PCs to weed out the demonic befoulers.
Join Us- Perhaps a PC, *shudder* gets the gruesome notion of actually joining the order ("Hey, I dont eat that much anyway"). Let them! They asked for it!
This is another Muromax release
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Falhathian Minotaurs By: Scrasamax ( Society/ Organizations ) Ethnic/Cultural - Area
“Listen to the Wind! Listen to Crackling Fire! Listen to the Groan of the Mountain! Listen to my Voice! Listen and you will See through the Smoke! See the Old Ways of our Forefathers! See the Glory of our Clan! See the Might of our Race!”
—Horn-Of-Plenty, Shaman of the Thorondrim Minotaurs, leading his people in the Khuugrad
Her face bears a long scar, one that almost splits the cheek and runs laterally across her jaw and almost to her ear. Among the Taurs she is known as Scars-Flown-Proudly, and is one of the militant followers of Scars-of-Glory. It is an honor and perhaps a novelty to this grim yet noble race that they allow me to come among them and learn of them. She has told me the stories of her scars, and of her pride, her one and only son who has since gone to the High Pastures with Horn-of-Plenty and the other traditionalists. I asked her to tell me of the old tales, and thankfully she obliged me.
In the days of the Old World the minotaurs were among the leaders of Falhath. The Prelate of the Satrap, assistant to the Dynast Regents was always one of the Horned Ones. They stood for what as seen as the heart of Falhath, strength, honor, tradition, and courage. During this time the minotaurs, or the taurics as they were more commonly known not only embraced civilization, but we among its brightest. It is now forgotten that many of the scrolls of philosophy and contemplation were penned by the heavy hands of the Taurs. It was only in the realm of sorcery that the Taurs were unable to compete with humans. The arcane powers of sorcery simply seemed to be incompatible with their physiology and even today most Taurs retain a degree of magic resistance.
Yet when the end came crashing down, the minotaurs were among those who suffered the worse, perhaps only the Grae’ae suffered worse, each having been destroyed by their own power. When the horrors of the Nightmare War came knocking they found the vanguard of the Taurs ready, and much of Falhath’s preservation from the devastation is directly linked to the heroic acts of the Taurs. According to records the deity Izkander, consort to Ixia, the Silver Forge was actually a minotaur warrior god and was among those powers that were snuffed out by the Nightmare War.
The Great Khuugrad
Not an individual, but a ceremony sacred to the Taurs, the survivors build a massive bonfire, mostly out of the ruins that surrounded their former homes. As the rosewood and lacquered bamboo was consumed by the fires, the gathered lords and horned nobles discussed what their plans and options were. Their long time allies, the sorcerous and serpentine Grae’ae were no more, and it seemed that all of the ills that had occurred could be laid at the feet of an ignorant and ambitious humanity. Disgusted with what had happened those gathered elders, under the dying light of a bonfire of vanity decided to forever forsake the path of civilization.
The Minotaurs that survived the Fall, as they came to call it, retreated to the hinterlands, the impenetrable pine barrens, hidden alpine meadows, and most of all the intimidating mountains of Thorondrim. They eschewed the societies of men, bitter and betrayed, and chose to live in solitude above the sodden and long since destroyed home of their ancestral and long since extinct Centaurum rivals.
The Waning Years
The Minotaurs grew more proud and haughty than ever despite their situation. They looked inward and to past glories in order to give their race the semblance of greatness which they all still feel in their hearts and souls. Now several generations later, they have grown much less fecund and much more morose, a dying race holding out valiantly but hopelessly, against the forces of the inevitable. Birth rates have begun to drop and no reason has been discovered for this drop off in fertility. Some expect the Horned Ones to birth the final generation within the next decade or so.
As years went by, their relative solitude and new natural environment has greatly influenced their ways and their culture has changed in many bizarre ways. The society of Minotaurs is really two groups in one now. The first group lives in the stony meadows and alpine valleys at the foothills of the Thorondrim. They dwell in huge tent-like pavilions, hunting the forests, and even growing certain crops. They are the slightly less grim and somber of the two tribes. They are known as the Low Ones by the other clan, but in every basic way are the same as the High Ones.
This second group, much smaller in size, dwells high in the Thorondrims proper, perched in stony structures carved into the very rock of the mountains. This group truly loathes the lands and ways of men, and have retreated even further from civilization than their cousins, who dwell below the gray peaks. They include the Shaman-Prelate, Horn-Of-Plenty, spiritual leader of both tribes, a title that combines the old nomenclature from Falhath with the culture of The New Way. Ironically the New Way is really the Old Way, as the Minotaurs have rekindled the traditions of their ancient ancestral brethren. Here as well dwells the War-Caller, Scars-of-Glory, a nearly berserk female Minotaur who somewhat predictably preaches the hopeless Last War, a final assault on humankind, and the rekindled might of her race.
Lifestyle of the Grim and the Noble
The Minotaurs subsist mainly by gathering the grasses and grains native to the hinterlands. The Lowland septs supplement their diets with tubers, and fruits, while the highland minotaurs tend towards more Spartan fare enriched by the blubber of pog-choy worms. The pace of life is slow, with much time given to deep thought and reflection. During the spring, the males engage in trials of manhood to determine who has the right to breed with the cows. Despite the increasing competition, fewer and fewer minotaurs are being born to the females. While the cause is unknown to the Taurs, it is a factor of their environment. The fescue grain that they harvest has a fertility suppressing agent in it that is related the bitter grass that prostitutes brew into contraceptive maidenhead tea.
Another common contest of manhood is now held in early spring when the snows and ice melt and fill the mountain streams. Young minotaurs will emerge themselves neck deep in these freezing streams and simply stand. They try to stand in the water longer than the other contestants. Their hearty constitution prevents them from dying of hyperthermia, but it is still a good indication of which young bull can stand the freezing water longer.
The minotaurs also have a strange barely controllable predilection for concentric circle labyrinths. This strange habit of circle-walking stems from their ancient history of eons ago. Horn-Of-Plenty sometimes walks these circles in meditation while ‘high’ inside the Great Smoke Hall. This like the Khuugrads itself allows him to ‘see things’. He has been known to walk these circles in a daze for several days at a time, chanting and murmuring! Every minotaur has a small (10 foot radius) concentric walk-way in their home, for personal use. It is important to note that a maze and a labyrinth are not the same thing. There is only one path through a labyrinth and though it is circuitous and long, the center is always reached and there are no dead ends or wrong paths.
Yodeling or more properly Lowing, is another weird tradition among the mountain clans. Scaling the highest peaks and ‘singing songs of race and glory’, the minotaurs try to outdo one another with their baritone voices. It is worth noting that only the bulls of the Taurs will engage in this yodeling, leaving the cows behind to listen in on the competition. To the human ear, these sound more like echoing, thunderous, throaty bellows, and create many legends of the eerie Thorondrims.
The Mountain clan often hunts Pog-Chuy Worms. These are thick, revolting cave-moray like remnants of some past true wyrms approximately 7-10 feet long. While aggressive, they also tend to be languid, and are therefore are no match for the minotaurs and their axes and long spears. The thick grotesque rubbery undersides of these worms, are filled with whale like blubber, which allows the worms to survive on fat deposits, in between rare occasional meals of mountain goats and occasional climbers. The minotaurs use this blubber to create giant candles for use in the Khuugrad. This substance while burning, gives off a sickly smell, but also aids the hallucinations with its strange chemical properties
The Mountain tribes hold the Khuugrad with every New Moon. All the minotaurs attend, the Low Ones ascending the Thorondrims to join their cousins. A combination of mountain plants, herbs, moss, and Lowland peat, along with other bizarre ingredients are used by the Shaman-Prelate Horn-of-Plenty and his assistants to stoke huge bonfires. The fires burn with thick, greenish, hallucinogenic smoke which is then funneled into the Great Smoke Hall, filling the huge pavilion entirely. Horn-of-Plenty then begins his chants, while throwing more strange ingredients into the flames, and lighting giant candles, as the minotaurs take their place in a great circle. It is due to the strange plants used, and the sing-song hypnotic chanting that allows the Minotaurs to see the past and sometimes future. While most of these windows are actually LSD-like induced phantasms, the minotaurs believe these to be actual past and future visions.
The truth behind the vision quests is blurry. Many times the quests are simple drug induced states of euphoria, but as of late there has been a new vitality following Scars-of-Glory and her profound experience at a Khuugrad. She saw the future of the race was bound to an outward expansion, to leave the high meadows and bring war against the humans who have been steadily growing in number and regaining their lost sorcerous might and glory. Scars-of-Glory is opposed by Horn-of-Plenty, the wily and old orator of the tribe who holds to the old path and preaches isolationism and meditation. They both have sizeable followings and the outcome of the power struggle is far from clear.
Freelance - Some younger Taurs have tired of the tribal existence and wander into human lands and sell their services as bodyguards. Having an eight foot horned warrior at your side tends to deter many assailants. The PCs could encounter one of these Bull-Errants as either a guard for a rival or enemy, or even gain one in their employ. Some are simply seeking a new life while others could be advance scouts for Scars-of-Glory plans of expansion.
The New Settlement - As humans drive further and further into the mountains they coming into closer contact with the Taurs on their home turf. Tensions mount and hostilities erupt between the war-hawks of the Taurs and the colonist militia. Can the PCs defuse the situation? Can they find and reason with the Taurs or due they earn the spite of the tribe by launching a new war against the Taurs?
Houses of the Holy - Driven by a vision, a prophet/oracle/seer decides that they must attend the next Khuugrad. It is up to the PCs to escort the frail/elderly/naive seer to the mountains and gain for them access to the Great Smoke Hall.
The Unmentionable One
One way to earn the hostility of the minotaurs is to mention the “Unmentionable One”. Years ago a minotaur named Korokai Maaz went “crazy” from all his hallucinations. Suffering through a deranged and failed vision quest, he was convinced that the glory of the race could be salvaged by breeding with the wild bovine and human-tamed cows of the alpine valleys. It is said he rushed down to these herds, alone, in a mad rage and began to mate with them all. His vision quest and excessive exposure to the hallucinogenic compounds left him to believe that not only would this restore the fecundity of the race, but it would create a new strain of superior minotaur.
Some humans had seen this lunatic behavior and comedic, raunchy tales, awful to the ears of the minotaurs, began to circulate among the people of the area. The minotaurs slew this disgrace Korokai and dubbed him the Unmentionable One. If by any chance he is mentioned whilst another minotaur is nearby the speaker would be censured and ostracized on the spot! Do not speak of Korokai Maaz!
Another post brought to you courtesy of MuroMax
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Flight of the Pegasus By: Scrasamax ( Plots ) Crisis - Campaign
A dangerous romp across the Soviet Union in a race to rescue the eccentric Dr. Pegasus before he can complete his secret design.
Two days ago, the Department of Clandestine Operations, the DCO to you, received some valuable intelligence from one of our moles working with the Bolsheviks. It seems that one of their Tesla’s Kids, Dr. Emil Pegasovich, has decided he isn’t so keen on supporting the Prussian military with his inventions. He’s cooked up all sorts of things for the twin-headed, Black Eagle. Steam injectors, some fish-looking submersible boat, and his latest is some sort of steam powered flying machine. Seems that the Ivans aren’t interested in following grey goose migration patterns.
The mission is simple. Get in, get the Doc and his notes out, destroy the lab where he is working. Easier said than done. We can get you into the Soviet union, but once there, you and your men will have to reach the lab by your own devices, as well as getting back to the spot where we dropped you off. And gentlemen, the clock is ticking, once you are on the ground you’ll have two days at most to get in, do the dirty deed, and get out.
Mission briefing, Colonel St. James, British Intel/DCO
The assembled group of PCs should likely resemble a good cross-section of steam punk archetypes, a gadgeteer, an aeronaut, a marksman, etc. They have all been gathered from various parts of Europe and the Americas to participate in a dangerous mission for the DCO. Why, if it is important, aren’t DCO operatives being used? The answer is simple, the Soviets have an uncanny knack for sniffing out formally trained agents. The spy who can waltz through the Prussian capital of Vienna without a second glance is dog food on the tundra. The PCs have been selected for their acumen with their chosen profession, and for the fact that no one would expect a motley group of adventurers to be working a dangerous mission for the DCO.
The following dossiers are provided for the PCs:
Emil Vasiliy Pegasovich, a.k.a., "Dr. Pegasus", is perhaps the worlds preeminent scientific mind, a brilliant, if eccentric innovator. Son of a decorated soviet general and a Parisian cabaret dancer, Emil was born with withered, atrophied, and practically useless arms, a rare genetic defect, which shaped much of Emils early life. Cast aside by both his father, who returned to Russia after his brief extra-marital dalliance in France, refusing to even acknowledge Emil, and likewise his mother, who abandoned the future genius on a random doorstep and fled into the night, Emil survived, and eventually thrived, and never allowed his lifeless arms to betray his destiny.
Emil was adopted by an old childless couple, but ran away from home at thirteen, a bitter and confused boy, but one with a sun-brilliant mind, and for that matter incredibly strong legs, due in part as compensation for the abnormality of his arms. He lived by his wits for some time, but a few years later, Emil somehow successfully accomplished enrolling as a student at the University Sorbonne, despite never having gone to prep school, and despite still only being fifteen years of age. Like many young minds of the times, Emil was fascinated with the power of steam, choosing to study at the Mecanique et Mecanisme de Vapuer, one of the many colleges within the university. Emil sought only one thing. The complete mastery of his chosen medium. And master the medium he did, for Pegasovich turned out be that rare man, one of those that came around once or twice a century. Emil Vasiliy Pegasovich, or "Dr. Pegasus", as he now started calling himself, after that mythical, winged horse of Greek myth, perhaps for obvious reasons, had graduated the university by the age of nineteen, then taught for a time as Europes youngest professor, and finally became known as a virtuoso, a sort of living legend, perhaps, nay surely, the worlds greatest mind. As professor and inventor, he was now in high demand among Europes intelligentsia and ever-burgeoning powers.
The Great War had not yet begun, though the smoke was portending the fire, when Dr. Pegasus was finally seduced by the Soviets. Their offer was simple. Come to the Motherland, where your intellect will be worshiped, they said. The Soviets had offered Dr. Pegasus everything. A state-of-the-art facility, a palatial scientific compound to call his own, where every whim, every one of his needs would be met, and he would be asked to do only one thing. To create, to do as he had done before, to use his mind to satisfy every curiosity he saw fit, and to design, build, and invent for the improvement of all humanity. For several years, Dr. Pegasus was in a state of professional nirvana, but after a few years, it became apparent that the Soviets may as well have been Greeks bearing gifts, for they showed the good doctor their true intentions, he would work to design advanced weapons and machines for the Soviets, even as the worlds political scene began to drastically change.
Prussia, the two-headed black eagle of Europe had reached zenith as a power and began the Great War. Great Britain and France on one side, Prussia, and its Soviet allies on the other. Dr. Pegasus is now a prisoner. But he did not stop inventing. Few of the Doctors inventions saw combat, and the war eventually ended in favor of the British and her allies. Now a second war is looming. Pegasus has some new toys he has created, and we do not want to see in the hands of the Prussians.
Steam Propulsion Pack
The Steam Propulsion pack began as a tech device intended to accelerate the top speed of land vehicles. A pair of packs could be put on an armored car or small tank to launch it with sports car speed. The basic premise failed, as most of the packs blew themselves off of the vehicle. The stroke of genius came when a pack being carried by a conscript had a regulator failure. The man was carried aloft several hundred feet before plummeting to his death. Some work with a control harness and wire controlled thrust vectoring and the Pegasus Steampack was born. The Steampack weighs 35 kilos and holds compressed steam in a thermally insulated alloy tank. A small burner can be used to recharge the pack once it has expended it’s steam supply. A pack can move at full nozzle open for about 8 minutes, reaching level flight speeds of close to 90 miles per hour. At more conservative thrust, the pack can stay airborne for approximately 30 minutes. Steampilots are encouraged to be cautious as the steam pressure tends to slack off suddenly, and a fall with 35 kilos of metal on your back is not a glorious way to die.
Portable Steam Canister
Some of the devices that the Doctor created tended to be too small for their own boilers, so he created a ‘steam batter’ to power these toys or miniatures of his larger creations.
The Ornithopter is one of Pegasus’ less successful designs. With four wings, it generally resembles a large brass and canvas dragonfly. The craft is capable of flight, but the doctor hasnt found a way to reliably sheild the burner to keep the boiler running. While it runs for a while, refueling the boiler has to be done with the wings stopped, otherwise the chaotic airflows blow out the oil flame.
Automatic Entrenching Vehicle
This steam powered monstrosity is a nightmare of gears, mechanical arms, and sadistic looking metal attachments. Moving on caterpillar treads, the Entrenching Vehicle is much like a tank for locomotion. The front end has a pair of brass sheathed steel arms that have four points of articulation. These arms can be used to use a variety of tools. The Entrenching tool is a giant wheel studded with bucket teeth, and when rotated by the arms quickly digs ditches, trenches, or simply very large holes. As a loader, the arms can use compression pads to lift heavy objects and move them. While this is usually crates, there is no reason the arms cannot lift small to medium vehicles, pull down buildings, smash infantry flat, or anything else a pair of giant rubber faced iron pads can do.
Gyroscopic Steam Rocket
Using highly compressed steam, this rocket is capable of reaching hot air balloon altitude. The gyroscope keeps the rocket upright by adjusting the position of the vent nozzles. Steam rockets generally carry either anti-zeppelin grapeshot, condemned men with binoculars and a parachute, or 100 gallons of napalm and a burner.
The Dyna-Baric Submersable Piscoid
Resembling a large fish made of brass with giant glass eyes, the Submersable Piscoid is a marvel of design and complexity. The main screw drive is powered by a central boiler and piston assembly. A secondary system allows the camshaft to wind tension springs to power the screw drive while the Piscoid is underwater and air is more needed for crew than to feed the burner. There is a third failsafe, the piston assemblies can be unbolted from the central drive shaft, and handles attached to drive the main screw by sheer muscle power of the crew. The vessel hunts the wooden schooners and frigates of enemy fleets, ripping into their keels with a hardened steel ram that runs from the bow to midships of the Piscoid. A collision at moderate speed is enough to tear out the guts of most any merchantman or frigate. Larger ships generally have keels too thick for the Piscoid to damage significantly.
The PCs will find the first leg of their trip into Soviet Russia to be easy, almost oppulent. Passage has been procured for them and their gear on the Ottoman zeppelin Astrakhan II. This airliner will carry them from Cairo, Egypt across Asia Minor and to the port of Odessa, in the Crimean Peninsula. THe zeppelin is lush with thick piled carpet in the gondola, roomy cabins, and room in a cargo bay to carry several large vehicles, but nothing even half as large as a land battleship. The ship is equiped with a smoking lounge, an observation deck, and a wine locker.
The port is another matter. Considered a backwater since the Crimean War, Odessa has seen better days. The streets are filled with litter and vagrants and the local government is nothing more than a front for the Russian Mob. Getting anything larger than a loaf of bread or more important than a stamp is going to go through them or their lackeys. The Mozgov rail line starts in Odessa, with supplies coming into the city through the port, or from the Bryansk rail line.
Supplies are going to be expensive, and anyone who asks the same question twice is likely to be watched by the mobsters and the rare political agent slumming in the city. The PCs might have an advantage in looking like lost arrogant tourists trying to enjoy the local sites. Tourists are strange like that.
Top secret laboratory, a former (and once again) weapons factory, and present base of operations for several high-ranking Soviet and Prussian officials. Kulak Mozgov, or "Minds Fist", is also where the world- renowned scientist, Dr. Pegasus, is currently being held against his will, forced to innovate and create the most advanced steam-powered devices, constructs and machina known to man. Kulak Mozgov sits like an eagles aerie, impregnable, amidst a small mountain chain along the south-eastern steppes, two hundred kilometers from the nearest village or town.
It is protected on two sides by curtain like mountains, the lower end of the valley is home to a large military base. The Soviets and the Prussians have sizable forces there, though most are new recruits and trainees. The command staff is seasoned and were blooded in the last Anglo-Prussian war. The upper end of the valley is the site of the Olvashenksy Dam. The lake behind the dam is frozen six foot thick through the winter.
I have a brief dossier on some of the personel who are in command at the Soviet lab. Not your typical Ivans, i must admit. No one said this would be easy
Col. St. James - DCO
The Peoples Ambassador, Major Larissa Zonogin is a virtuoso, a woman for whom everything came easily in life. Top marks in the classroom, top marks in the field, and most of all, an unerring loyalty to the cause.
Larissa Zonogins title is a relatively new one, created by the Soviet regime to denote an ideal. A paragon of the people. The youngest person to ever hold this prestigious rank, Larissa reports directly to the Soviet premier and his cronies. An expert in propaganda, combat and tactical command, she is perhaps the finest example of super-soldier in every sense of the term. If this was not enough, Larissa also happens to be an incomparable beauty, and is not averse to using her charisma to get what she wants if all else fails.
Currently visiting Kulak Mozgov, Major Zonogins responsibilities include keeping the eccentric Dr. Pegasus in check, keeping party loyalty at a fevered pitch, and secretly inspecting the radioactive-steam reactor project, and planning for its use and potential transport. She carries coded messages on her person at all times, and frequently contacts the High Command for orders and information.
She has nothing but contempt for Groskov, an overfed sloth and grunt, she thinks of him, while Groskov in turn despises the major, jealous of her position and talent, but fears her above all else, as does everyone at Kulak Mozgov.
To be clear, Groskov runs the base and commands his soldiers, but Zonogin is the true political force, and the ultimate authority during her time at the base.
She is Joseph Goebbels, if Goebbels also happened to be a super-soldier. Having Zonogin as an enemy is no ones wish. All obey the Peoples Ambassador without fail.
Lieutenant-Colonel Vadim Groskov
The Lt. Cmdr comes from peasant stock, one of the fabled proletariat of the Soviet Union. His father lead Bolshevik troops against the Tzarists, his son picked up the rifle and carried on the political fight. Three decades of keeping the party line have made the Badger of Bryansk into an overweight and sourtoothed bear. It doesnt help his disposition any that he has been liased with Zonogin.
Kulak Mozgov is not easy to reach. While taking sled dogs is likely the least direct route, it is probably the safest. The DCO mole is currently employed as a technician at the dam above the laboratory. As such, the mole will have the ability to leave a door open for the PCs to enter through as well as provide disguises stolen from the laundry department, passcodes, pilfered keys and intel on where the Doctor can be found as well as the lay-out of the installation.
Players being players might instead opt to take the train directly to Mozgov. This is certainly an option but it cannot be stressed enough that it is dangerous as the train is patroled by commisars and Soviet counter-intelligence personel. This is one of the main reasons that no DCO spies have been able to penetrate Mozgov other than their deep placed mole.
Hide and Seek
Unless the PCs have brought enough resources to face an infantry regiment, they are going to have to use stealth and subterfuge to find their way through the base. As the facility grew rapidly, many buildings are close together creating blind alleys, hidden nooks and creches, and no shortage of places to hide. This can also cover the PCs as they depart from Pegasus’ lab with the doctor in their protection.
Pegasus’ lab is a large building on par with a professional gymnasium. The lower most portion consists of the building’s furnace and the core of the Reactive Steam Engine. This is a large sprawling construct of pipes, valves, tubing, and assorted control panels with brass fittings, needle gauges and toggle switches. There are several tanks of water, both for the furnace, and for the engine. They have since found that if there isnt enough watre pumped through the engine when the throttle is open there is dangerous overheating. Dr. Pegasus suspects that if the engine overheated, it could be more devastating than a boiler burst.
The main floor houses his machine shop, metallurgic labs, and his archive where he keeps his notes, a drafting table, and a fully stocked kitchenette. There are all sorts of steam paraphenalia located on this floor. Most of it will be in varying stages of repair, construction, or being salvaged for parts.
The second floor houses the Doctor when he isnt in the lab. Literally under house arrest, he cannot leave the lab, since the second floor has a small library, a toilet, bedroom, and a few amenities to make the stay a bit more hospitable. The floors have animal fur rugs, and the walls are a mix of newspaper clippings, old Bolshevik propaganda, and Californian play bills.
There are two potential methods of destroying Kulak Mozgov. The first method is to sabotage the dam so that it crests over the top and erodes through the face. With an increasing torrent of freezing water and boulder sized chunks of ice, the dam will fail dramatically. everything in the valley will either be washed away, drowned, or pulverized by the ice chunks.
Dr. Pegasus can offer a second means to destroy the facility. The real project that the Prussians and Soviets have been pushing for is the Reactive Steam Engine. Using a special fuel, this reactor boils water without any form of combustion. It has been learned that is too much of this special fuel is misshandled and placed in a certain fashion there is some sort of violent reaction. The effect is rather catestrophic.
Breaking the dam will give the characters a timer measured in hours till the dam breaches. Creating a cascading reaction to reach critical mass within a Reactive Steam engine will only take a few minutes, so either a patsy has to stay behind and sacrifice themselves or the PCs need have a FAST mode of transport out. Hijacking the steam train and pushing the boiler till it starts popping rivets comes to mind.
If the PCs have been resourceful, smart, and lucky they have escaped Kulak Mosgov and saved the doctor. If they acheived all their goals, including destroying the lab, the Prussian-Soviet effort to create superior land battleships is so badly mauled that they end up canceling any further research into Reactive Steam. If the lab is not destroyed, the program is knocked back almost a year and a half by the loss of the Doctor.
If all goals are achieved, the Allies will be able to develop reactive steam engines and will bve able to retrofit many of their current Land Battleships. This will give them a tremendous advantage in the comming war with the Prussian superpower. If the Doctor is killed in the rescue, but his notes are retained, the Allies can develope a Reactive steam engine, but it will take several years and will not be ready in time to face the threat of the Black Eagle.
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Powlgraff By: Murometz ( Locations ) City - Plains
Powlgraff, The Fowl City.
On the western lip of the Archduchy, separated by the great birch and oak forest of Ganhojol, lie the two Graffs, cities built by rival brothers over two hundred years ago. Never had two brothers hated one another as these two had. No sooner had Powl decided to build his metropolis on the northern boundary of Ganjohol, so immediately did Vander gather his hired architects and masons and begin construction on his version of “civil paradise”, on the southern bawn of the forest, beside the Running Blood River. The two cities have been natural rivals ever since, leapfrogging and replacing each other in style, fashion, and industry, in the mind of the Archduchy’s zeitgeist. Though Powlgraff became an official city only six years prior to Vandergraff, that is all the difference the nobles of the former required in order to consider themselves the more superior of the two cities.
The following is an excerpt from the traveling journal of Pyuss the Second, ambassador to the One-King of Haracon. Observations on his return journey to the capital coming north from The Great Grass Sea, as he passed through the Archduchy.
Powlgraff the Fowl City is pleasant enough to behold as you approach it, certainly. The spires that have been built in its center over the years grow more numerous, as well as taller, thinner and closer together. The noble’s trend of separating themselves from the “rabble” continues as before. The spires and towers crowd the center, while the sprawl of the city, the factories, tanneries, and the houses of the common folk, spread out from the heart of Powlgraff. While more genteel than its more industrious rival Vandergraff, Powlgraff is in somewhat of a decline both commercially and in prestige. Folks are flocking to Vandergraff, while the only thing “flocking” to Powlgraff are maddening hordes of chickens.
Yes, I’m afraid this city is truly still fowl. Ever since the duke and duchess both choked on those chicken bones sixty years ago, that bizarre new law still stands. Kill a chicken, and you will be fined, and off to the gaol for a brief but agonizing stay. What is truly disturbing is that the nobles of Powlgraff think this law shows their refinement and enlightened thought. The truth, I’m afraid, is that strolling along the main avenues and plazas while being hounded by hundreds of fat flightless birds is a truly maddening experience, and does little more than exhibit the folly and cynical hubris of Powlgraff’s lazing bureaucracy. Chickens, partridges, and ducks, no doubt attracted by the city’s lunatic laws, roam the city undisturbed, clucking, pecking, and preening, in a mirrored personification of the very nobility that protects them. I will put this thought to rest for now, but in closing, suffice it to say that I have never seen more feathers and droppings in one place in all my years! Of course as any would, the populace has adapted, and life goes on in Polwlgraff.
Unlike its neighbor to the south and west, Powlgraff has eschewed assarting the Ganhojol forest, and prefers to make use of the limestone karsts north of the city. Almost every building worth its salt is built of stone. This limestone, which is used for almost all new construction, has a peculiar pinkish tinge, no doubt for similar reasons from which the Running Blood River derives its name. It is this unique color, which leads to the prized limestone being Powlgraff’s main export. It is truly comical, I must mention, watching these blocks of stone being transported to and fro, occasionally squashing the sacred chickens of the city, as fearful workers and masons, stop and glance around immediately to see if anyone noticed the poultrycide they have just committed!
As for the Duke and Duchess what can be said. Duke Glimpone is still as anemic and languid as he was during my last visit, his only claim to fame being his uncanny resemblance to his ancestor Powl. The Duchess Oswella on the other hand, seemingly has a hand in every aspect of Powlgraff’s daily existence. Whether setting the fashion trends for the nobility, or vexing the quarry masters and masons of the city with her ever-rising taxes, Oswella is at least quite active in the city’s affairs. Her balls and masquerades are as always, popular events, the exclusive invitations being highly prized among the nobles. Recently, in a fit of rage, Oswella has banned the novel and popular Zettelettes from Vandergraff, and this has caused an outrage among the commoners. Ironically, Oswella herself has become completely addicted to the rolled-paper tobacco sticks, smoking countless Zettelettes a day in private.
The true power in Powlgraff I fear however is Ossidra, guild mistress of the nefarious Cocks and Peckers thieves. Beautiful, wise and quite the political animal, Ossidra has the love and respect of the populace, unlike the mildly despised duke and duchess. She is very protective of her ‘birds’ as she calls them, and is always looking to further Powlgraff’s causes, despite her own guilds shady dealings. In fact there are whispers that she is secretly looking to make alliances in Vandergraff and possibly plans on toppling Powlgraff’s nobility altogether, while assuming the title of Archduchess herself. This new development certainly bears some watching.
What review of Powlgraff would be complete without mentioning The Beefery. While birds are never on the menu here, the cattle certainly are. In fact, Powlgraffians have made beef-eating into an art-form, and every imaginable recipe for beef is available here. The Beefery itself, still run by the Sisters Torraine, is an imposing three-story limestone and granite structure. The cattle go in on all fours, as they say, but come out on silver platters.
Not much left to say I’m afraid. A peculiar city with peculiar people, it is only a matter of time, in this ambassador’s humble estimation, before Vandergraff usurps the reigns of power in Haracon’s Archduchy. The incestuous noble family’s influence is in decline. The middle class is in decline as well, as hordes of enterprising merchants and craftsman move to Vandergraff to participate in its booming economy, and as yet unknown to the general populace, the limestone quarries north of Powlgraff are running out of rock, leaving porcelain vases and urns as the city’s seemingly last export product of note. The brothels and cathouses of Powlgraff remain somewhat well spoken of among visitors naturally. I personally wouldn’t know.
Decline- Powlgraff teeters on economic collapse. This infuriates Oswella, and she is looking to hire some outsiders to help her gauge how to bring the city back to the forefront and its former glory! If the pc’s have any interest in “city-planning”, economics, or engineering, they may very well be the consultants Oswella hires. Just don’t tell her to get rid of the chickens(!), unless you enjoy spending time in the gaol, or worse, the gibbet.
Bird-Flu (!)- A strange new disease has been affecting the chickens of Polwgraff. Birds can often be seen acting crazy in the squares and plazas, often dying a short-while later. There have even been a few human deaths associated with this mysterious virus. Can the pc’s (particularly the clerics) stem the tide, before an epidemic rages!
Dinner with Ossidra- Ossidra will seek out accomplished adventurers to speak with them, in order to determine if they can be trusted, and whether or not they would be interested in joining her revolution! Ossidra should be role-played as the extremely charismatic leader she in fact is.
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Society of the White Azalea By: Scrasamax ( Society/ Organizations ) Natural - Area
None left upon the Mountain, my brothers in arms.
Motto of the Society of the White Azalea
There have always been men who looked not with fear at the darkness beyond the campfire, but with curiosity. It is this spirit of exploration that found fertile soil within a small group of explorers, adventurers-upon-return, and merchant freebooters. Unlike ancient societies with hallowed and storied origins, the Society of the White Azalea was founded within the clapboard walls of the White Azalea Inn near the Skyraker Mountains. Most of the locals called the Inn the White Flower but the man who would charter the society had an interest in botany and herbalism and knew the flower for what it was. Later when searching for a name for his new organization he would borrow the flower.
The White Azalea Inn
Modest as most Inns go, the Azalea was built to accommodate merchants heading south into Falhath and points east across the mountains. Business during the summer often left visitors and travelers sleeping in animal stalls and even in people’s homes for the right amount of coin. Traffic was heavy, but only during the summer. Come winter the passes through the mountains would snow over and be considered closed. During those cold dark months, the Inn would stand empty for weeks on end as few traveled the merchant roads.
Winterstellar is the man who founded the Society almost a century ago, almost by accident. He was a retired Adventurer-upon-return and had taken up the respectable craft of tooling and harness making and traveled along with various merchant bands as a retainer and as a fellow merchant. By various circumstances he was stranded at the White Azalea Inn with a number of other wanderers and explorers of some means of income. Rather than bemoan their isolation in a small alpine inn, the men spoke of their adventures and found a common thread, the mountains.
Like massive fences, the mountains separated nations, divided empires, and seemed so great as to rip at even the clouds. A few had made some climbs during their younger salad days, and the thought of challenging the mountain itself appealed to many of the men there. Number just shy of a dozen, these men hoisted mugs of liquor to their jaunt into the mountains. Winterstellar is said to have coined the Society motto before departing, ‘None left upon the Mountain, my brothers in arms.’
The Stone Dead
There is a local belief that men who die on the mountain are trapped and cannot go on to their final reward or punishment as determined by their faith. These cursed souls are left to wander as restless ghosts that shimmer like bands of wraithflame. Those who were evil in life rise a second time to become ragged and snow covered zombies who stalk the mountain peaks. A proper cairn on the mountain, or better yet, bringing the body of the deceased prevents these wretched creatures from forming.
The Old Days
The ‘Society’ made it’s first ascent of Buhl Mountain in three days, and were the first to reach it’s lofty summit. While not a mighty crag of a mountain, it was a respectable effort that left the men feeling exhilarated and several swore to return to challenge another peak in the coming year. At the next meet, the number of climbers had grown by almost double. Most were friends and colleges of the original climbers and were easily inducted into the Society which adopted all the pomp and circumstance of much older traditional societies. There was a difference of course, and that was Winterstellar was an irreverent man prone to imitation and satire and the ceremonial proceedings were as proceedings to mock the antiquidated attitude and demeanors of the other guilds and societies.
This would last almost two decades with Winterstellar being named the Grand Master of the Society of the White Azalea and the society seeing its membership rise to almost 200 experienced mountaineers, climbers, and mountain men. Events would later conspire to weaken to society (insert various local wars, problems facing the economy and merchant guilds, etc) and fewer of the members were able to actively participate. The Society survived through it’s core members, and even gained some royal attention. It came to the notice of a local noble of some influence that bands of men were regularly climbing mountains and crossing passes that were deemed impassable and had been ignored by royal cartographers for generations.
The Influence of Lord Anderegg
Lord Anderegg was no stranger to the wilds and dangers of nature, he was considered to be a competent hunter and frequently rode in campaigns with his liege. Not to be outdone by pretentious commoners, Anderegg ordered his entourage to prepare to travel and took up the notion to hold a session of his court from the rounded top of Buhl Mountain men and women, sixteen wagons, and several tons of equipment started the arduous task of climbing Buhl, coinciding with the Society mounting a climb themselves to initiate some new members.
A storm blew up, as they often do on the slopes of the Buhl, and the men of the Azalea took shelter as they had done dozens of times before. Lord Anderegg was not so lucky. Caught unawares by the storm, the lord and his caravan suffered greatly. When the sun appeared again, nearly a dozen retainers had lost their footing during the torrential snow and had been lost to the mountain. Most of the wagons were in some way damaged, and one had caught fire and burned when someone tried to kindle a fire inside to warm up. Drawn by the pillar of smoke, the Society climbers found the survivors of the entourage in poor condition, half frozen and hungry. They had brought plenty of food, but none had brought any firewood to cook or even thaw the now frozen food with.
Remembering the Motto, the men of the society applied their skills of mountaineering to the monumental task of saving the caravan. Of the seventy retainers, half died on the mountain, most from falls and injuries, the rest from exposure to the cold. None of the wagons were brought back down and the horses that pulled them were cut loose and guided back down the mountain. Lord Anderegg suffered from exposure and frostbite, loosing three fingers on his left hand, and a large piece of his ear.
Entering his 80th year of life, Winterstellar saw his quaint little mountain club explode into a serious Society. Following Anderegg’s rescue, it became vogue for courtiers and courtesans to become members of the Society. In the next few years membership skyrocketed, topping the thousand mark in the first year, and 5,000 by the sixth. This sudden popularity would soon be the downfall of the Society.
Not content to allow a commoner to hold the rank of Grand Marshall, Lord Kohmstock challenged Winterstellar for the position of Grand Master. As tradition dictated that the Grand Master was elected by the society every five years, this challenge was legal in Society and kingdom law. Having hundreds of supporters in and out of the society, Kohmstock won his election handily. Most historians consider this to be the beginning of the Society’s decline.
Following Winterstellar’s Ouster, the Society became increasingly a cesspool of interaulic intrigue, backstabbing and backroom politics. Local chapters of the Society, mostly near climbable mountains retained some semblance of the original society, but soon nobles had converted the lodges of disbanded guilds and societies into proper motherhouses for the Society.
Disaster and the End
The Society of the White Azalea still on occasion mounted ventures like Anderegg’s ambitious climb of Buhl Mountain picking the easiest mountains, or big hills as real mountaineers called them, had their courts on top of the world. Things took a bad turn during one of these royal expeditions when avalanches, lowland yeti, and storms caused the entire royal train to become stranded high in the Mountains. Of the 300 men and women who mounted the expedition, fewer than 20 returned alive. Each was covered in scars and bore significant emotional and spiritual trauma. Half were deemed insane by the clergy and were ritually purified for the sin of cannibalism.
The Society fell under intense scrutiny as blame for the failure had to be placed. The Grand Master was currently among the dead lost in the expedition so it would fall on the shoulders of the next Grand Master to answer for the failures of the society. Even the King was bereaved as his third son was among the missing, and there would be retributions. The elections for Grand Master turned into a scapegoat hunt that ended with one Emily Kanchenjunga. A resourceful young climber, rug merchant, and mother of four Kanchenjunga was despondent over her condition.
According to various conspiracy theories, Kanchenjunga met with Winterstellar, then almost 120 years old, to determine her course of action. Before a royal declaration could be made against the position of the Grand Master, Kanchenjunga made a stunning speech in which she officially and forever disbanded and dissolved the Society of the White Azalea. She spoke at length of the corruption of the Society’s purpose by Noble politics, and made such actions grounds for the disbanding of the Society.
Legacy of the Society
Though the society is no more, two things remain of it, the Ordinance of the White Azalea, and the legend of Winterstellar’s Cache. The King retains the right to give the Ordinance of the White Azalea as a medal of honor to a man or woman who demonstrates greatness in the sport of mountaineering, be it surmounting a new peak for the first time, courage above and beyond the call of duty whilst in the mountains or the like. The Ordinance is a five petaled azalea blossom crafted of moonstone and silver wire hung from a green ribbon made of silk.
Winterstellar’s Cache is a mystery of the ages, a challenge passed down by Winterstellar himself before vanishing some years ago. According to the legend, the wiry old Grand Master climbed an unnamed peak and left a great treasure to be found. What this treasure was remains unknown as despite decades of searching, none have discovered the location of the Cache or hints as to its contents. Two popular ideas have risen; that the cache is a treasure that was central to the old Society and was rescued from the motherhouse in the capital even as Kanchenjunga gave the Dissolution Speech. Obviously the treasure is magical, valuable, and potentially even dangerous to the powers that be. The other school of thought is that the legend of the Cache is a koan or riddle. It would not be out of character for the second to be true as Winterstellar would have considered seeing the sun rise from the summit of a claimed peak as a great and valuable gift.
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The Black Market By: Murometz ( Locations ) Area - Any
What thieves convention can be complete without the ubiquitous Black Market! The specifics can obviously be as varied as one’s imagination. In fact, please consider this as the scroll it’s intended to be. The more stalls and booths the merrier!! Scras and I would like to see forty or so by next years convention. These are just twelve random ones we came up with. Some are quite standard, while others slightly more unorthodox. Maggot, your ‘thief bugs’ & their insidious proprietor go here.
The Black Market
Ostap’s Oils- This is the original Snake Oil salesman. Ostap has attended every convention since the first one was held in Marsuth, over twenty years ago. Now pushing seventy, he is a staple at the annual event. Ostap has no pure thieving skills to speak of, but like many of the attendees, he is a specialist of the first order. Ostap sells oils. His original ‘snake oil’, derived from a rare species of serpent now nearly extinct, but slightly more common decades ago, was his original best seller. This oil, extracted from the Albino Grass-Cutter snake during its molting ritual, and magically enhanced by a process taught to Ostap by a now dead mage, caused the recipient of a full body rub, to be able to thermoregulate his or her body temperature, even in extreme cases of cold or heat. Alas, this species of snake and the oil itself are now nearly non-existent. That hasn’t stopped Ostap however, from trying himself, without the help of the deceased mage, to make magic oils again. He’s been trying for the last twenty years, in fact, without success. Regardless, Ostap’s reputation has allowed him to sell a dizzying array of fake oils in the years that followed, all the way up to the present day, to unsuspecting marks and hopeful thieves. Of course he also sells quite ordinary oils for various mundane uses. By the way, if you are a wizard, Ostap wants to speak with you privately.
Shaddock’s Den - Not selling anything, Shaddock is a rail of man who sets up a gambling parlor in the middle of the black market. Money flows freely as card tables and over tossed dice. Tall, and predatory, Shaddock haunts the tables, keeping a close eye on his employees and the patrons who are winning too muc, or who have lost too much. He doesnt like a set-up or a con. Aside from two muscle-bound toughs and half a dozen dealers, Shaddock keeps half a dozen scantily clad women on the payroll to distract clients, leaning their assets on shoulders and whispering in ears when the gambler should watch the cards.
Noble Harrods - This small stall is the workshop of the self-titled Noble Harrod of Vandegraff. Armed with a sharp quill and top notch paper making skills, Harrod has forged numerous patents of nobility, indeed passing himself off as the Earl of Lower Vandegraff, a place that does not exist. He sells fake patents of nobility, forged documents of license, allowing for possession of restricted weaponry, or even permits to conduct sorcery in civilized areas
Snuggly Jakes - Snuggly Jake sells clothes and apparel for the well-dressed rogue. His stalls feature jerkins, leggings, boots, cloaks, hats, gloves, vests, and anything else that would make sense based on the fashions of the times. Snuggly Jake is an expert tailor. He doesn’t settle down in any place for too long however, due to his ‘nomad heart’. Hence these events are a perfect way for him to indulge in his favorite past time of traveling, seeing new places, and selling his wares. Jake’s forte, and what makes his stall a staple at these conventions, is what his customers call his "pocket fetish". Having a predilection himself for losing small items, Jake has made it a point, throughout his career, to sew numerous pockets, both visible and hidden into all his clothing. Even his hats and gloves feature pockets! Socks and underwear too!
Ironbow’s - This druid, one Fabious Ironbow, seems much out of place in the machevellian world of the Convention, but he is quite at home. He represents no guild, but rather the banditry of the (insert forest) where he harasses the wealthy to give to himself. To be a further pain in the side of the lumberjacking and assarting nobles, he spends a week a year selling magically enchanted wooden weapons to thieves. Many a constable has been warded away with the line, No minds burke, it’s only a wooden jobber.
Billacopo’s Claws- Billacopo sells grappling hooks, or claws, as he calls them, as well as caltrops of every shape, size, and sort. He also sells a popular item, known as "puncture vine". This is a weed, which grows in the southern hemisphere. Once the small, starburst-like buds of this plant are snipped, they harden quickly, resembling actual man-made caltrops. What makes them unique, however, is that these starbursts, like the weed itself, are mildly poisonous. These not only cause considerable pain to unshod feet, but also slowly cause a sort of drunkenness effect in the individual who steps on one. Those who have already imbibed a considerable amount of alcohol, will be on the verge of a blackout, ten to twenty minutes after stepping on or being pricked by one, due to the strange chemistry involved between this plant and distilled spirits, within the bloodstream. In the southern lands, where puncture vines grow, murderers use them often in their killings.
Bigknee’s Barter Bigknee’s knees are quite ordinary, so no one knows how he got his name. If asked, the grumpy man tells you to mind your own business. Bigknee’s booth looks like an antique shop that exploded. Any and every chochtka you can think of…he has! Bigknee takes no coin however. Instead he will trade your stuff for his. Or a "knick for a knack", as he can often be heard squawking. Barter is his game, Bigknees is his name. Bigknee usually gets in league with the guidmasters of the yearly event, and holds one of the items, which is to be found during the infamous and often times comical (at least to any onlookers) scavanger hunt. Thieves can be seen emptying their pockets in desperation as they fumble to give Bigknee something he will actually accept in return for that special item, needed for the hunt.
Soft Foots’ Secrets- Soft Foot is the most despicable, revolting man one can encounter in their lifetime, despite being a quiet, unassuming man. He prides himself on his physical characteristics, as he is quite average in appearance and would not stand out in any crowd. This helps Soft Foot perpetrate his many crimes. Soft Foot is a serial rapist, and is wanted in almost every city in the realm for countless assaults on unsuspecting women. The worse kind of psychotic, one you would never recognize, if he was chatting with you over some ale in a tavern, Soft Foot sells his peculiar wares only at these conventions, and no where else. Soft Foot sells wares for the sexually deviant criminal. What these items might be is left to the imagination of the reader. In fact, the less that is said about Soft Foot and his stall, the better.
Grigno’s Fruits and Vegetables- Actual fruits and veggies, but with a surprise in every gourd or pear. Kind of like a cracker-jack box for thieves, or fortune cookies so to speak. Grigno’s peculiar tradition stems from those times when law enforcement prevented him from selling thieves nick-nacks out in the open. So he started stuffing items into fruits and veggies. Most of these surprise items are quite mundane but often useful. He also is known for putting one Gold Dragon every year into a random fruit or vegetable. The lucky thief who finds it, gets a prize form Grigno. His profits from the all of the thieves buying his produce just to get to the Gold Dragon, more than makes up for the prize he gives out. This is usually a minor scroll of protection, usable by thieves, which Grigno gets from a mage friend of his, in return for delicious and rare hoarberries, which the wizard cant get enough of.
Blackie’s Black (and Back)- a shop for weapon accessories. Blackie is a rather devious woman, her face marred by a knife-fighting scar. She is a leatherworker and tooler by trade and deals mostly in scabbards with hidden compartments, and the like. she also sells the oils and uguents required for the maintenance of leather and metal goods. She is most famous for her secret recipe weapon black, a polish that renders even the brightest silver to a matte black. No flash of steel to alert those pesky city guards here. Whne not tending the both, she frequents Shaddocks where the blandishments of the working girls do little to distract her.
Elbows Archery - Elbows Murphey is a slight man, one frequently accussed of being a gnome given his skill with intricate devices and his modest height of five feet even. His claim to fame is the folding crossbow, an elegant weapon that can fold up small enough to be hidden under a cloak and used in assassinations and in cities where weapons are strictly controlled. It is a beacon of his pride that the number of important personages slain by his weapons is only rivaled by poisonings and hunting accidents’. His a small and down to earth man who has a very large bone of contention with the nobility and the clergy.
The Ghost’s Raven - An elderly man works at this humble shop, providing one of the secret weapons of the thieves guild, a spell that creates a spectral raven, only visible under the light of the cresent moon. The nameless wizard was once a thief, but had to abandon the rakespath after a career ending injury sustained in a fall. Since then, he has peddled his modest spell talent to the guild in exchange for membership, and an eventual retirement. He loaths the wizard and mage guilds and as such will generally avoid predominantly magic using PCs.
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Thick As Thieves By: Murometz ( Plots ) Event - Single-Storyline
Once a year, and each year in a different place, the wandering bazaar and social gala that is the Thieves Convention is held. Invitations Only!
The Convention of Thieves is a wandering affair, never in the same city from one year to the next. It is held once a year, generally during the fall, and under the aegis of autumn festivals such as the Feast of the Harvest, the Autumnal Equinox, or the Saints Parade. Each of the thieves guilds across the Haracon Empire choose their best and brightest to send to the convention to represent their interests and ideas. In dark backrooms, away from the hustle and bustle of the Black Market the guildmasters wrangle out deals with one another over turf and status, leveling the playing field for the coming year. Now it may seem odd to some that the thieves and burglars, smugglers and illicit goods dealers would come together each year for such a convention. There is certainly the risk of key members being apprehended by the local law enforcement, bounty hunters, or even the doughty knights of the King. But after the violence and death of the Guild war twenty years ago, both the surviving guilds and the locals were more than willing to accept the convention in lieu of more violence.
Origins of the Convention
Twenty years ago in the Year of Leaves-Not-Falling, a great war raged between two of the most nefarious thieves guilds in the empire of Haracon. A bloodier affair could not have been waged on a field of battle than the one fought on the streets, rooftops, and sewers of Marsuth. Blood flowed freely, only to be washed away by the rains. The common folk and even the law enforcement wisely stayed clear of the chaos that ensued. It all began when the upstart Dodgy Brotherhood, led by the ambitious Hoel Spaca began to encroach on the business interests of the venerable and established Soft Wall House, led by its charismatic guild master "Sil". Up to that time, the Dodgy Brotherhood was an up and coming guild, specializing in petty street crimes, and not much else. It was when Spaca decided to advance into the lucrative extortion racket that he crossed into one of The Soft Walls House specialties. Merchants and shopkeepers were devastated when they began to have to pay for "protection" twice, once to the Soft Walls House’s enforcers and again to Spaca’s thugs. The necessary dynamic was in place for conflict. Sil was furious at the gall of the Dodgy Brotherhood, and had four of Spaca’s men captured, executed, and had their corpses dumped in the main plaza in broad daylight for everyone to see. A brutal but effective lesson Sil had thought. What he did not consider was that Spaca was a proud, willful man, and was enraged not humbled. What Spaca did in retaliation, lived on in infamy for a long time afterwards among the thieves of Marsuth. Spaca had the wives of seven of Sil’s men, raped and killed, dumping their corpses in turn, in front of the of the very gates of the Soft Walls House mansion. This was the spark that lit the powder keg.
For the next year and a half, a ruthless, brutal and unrelenting war raged, until Spaca was left with only a handful of men, and even the great Soft Walls House suffered severe casualties. Law enforcement officials were bribed to turn a blind eye, and those that didn’t were murdered along with the thieves of the respective guilds. Assassins and mercenaries were hired by both guilds, in an ever-escalating campaign of terror. It almost goes without saying that the business of making money suffered greatly for both guilds as well. Finally, as the festival known as the "Monsters Ball" approached, one enterprising priest of the One True Faith decided he would intervene and attempt to end the murderous conflict, which was now spilling over to include the innocents. Father Jarry by name, this priest sought to mock both guilds. The "Monsters Ball" was a celebration not unlike a combination of our present Halloween and Carnival. People would don intricately designed costumes depicting monsters of lore and legend (dragons, giants, demons) and paraded the main thoroughfare, trying to outdo their neighbors in their pageantry and fearsome appearances. Father Jarry made two of his followers dress up as huge, exaggerated costume versions of Sil and Hoel Spaca, despite the fears of these priests, and had them put in giant hangman’s nooses, tied together with another rope. He then sent the great float rolling through the streets for all to witness. As a breeze, or a turn in the street, sent either Sil’s or Spaca’s giant head lolling to one side or the other, the rope would tighten, choking both men simultaneously. What a spectacle this was for the people of Marsuth, who had lived through the fearsome guild war over the past year and a half. But not just to the common people. Sil and Spaca also witnessed their caricatures and the thinly veiled parody of Father Jarry. It was Sil, who at that very moment in time, finally came to his senses. He approached Spaca personally in the street, as the latter stared agape at his own and his enemies heads, "strangling each other" with every bend of the road. The two men went to the nearest inn, and unnoticed by the drunken festival goers, retired to a dark corner of the establishment. They then proceeded to talk, and talk some more. They talked all night and the better part of the following morning.
Finally after countless lives and coins were lost, the Dodgy Brotherhood and the Soft Walls House ended their war. Not only ended the war, but declared a permanent truce, as well as some rather fair (for thieves) divvying of turf and profit, along with settling on future roles of their respective guilds. The more they talked the more they realized that they could learn from each other, and another idea, a grand one, was born. Sil suggested a thief’s festival. A week long party, between the men of the two guilds, to try and erase the hatred, jealousies, and overall ill-will which ensued between the two guilds during their war. The gala was a big success, and the two guild masters agreed to stage an annual event! Throughout the following year, inspiration struck Sil, and with Spaca’s agreement, the two men decided to invite another guild to the following year’s event. This third guild was secretive, unassuming, and even older than the Soft Walls House in its heritage and traditions. It was also extremely wealthy. It operated in the docks and warehouse districts of Marsuth. Pororn Wesovi, the guildmaster, was amused by, and accepted this invitation, effectively squelching any designs the now aligned Sil and Spaca, might have had on HIS business. And so, The Esteemed Brotherhood of Cargo Masters joined the party. The next invited guild was from nearby Powlgraff the Fowl City. The precocious Cocks and Peckers, led by the beautiful and wise Ossidra, were making quite a name for them selves, and accepted the invitation, figuring they had finally "hit the big time". And so it went…more guilds were invited and soon the event evolved into an extravaganza
Hosting the Convention
The event is a major undertaking and one of the last events of each Convention is the election of the next site to host. The potentials volunteer their home towns for the honor, so preparations for the convention actually run a minimum of one year before the convention. Some of this is procuring the hall space to host events like the roast, cant off, and a venue to host the Black Market. In this aspect, the Convention is run in a manner similar to the modern Olympics. There is one advantage, in that a hosting city already has the home turf advantage and only tradition of the wandering convention has prevented the event from becoming fixed in one location. Once a city has served as host, its chances of hosting again drastically increase.
Another aspect is greasing the palms of the city administrators and officials who need to look the other way, as well as getting the guardsmen on the guild’s payroll to police the area that is serving as the site of the convention. That way no vigilantism takes place with a do-gooder looking for promotion tries to run in Yoshi of the Thousand Fingers. None of the generally older guild masters want to be caught up in the entanglements of the law system should a trusted associate be apprehended, nor do the younger members want to face such a hassle. It is considered a mark of shame and inability to be taken into custody by the city guard of a host city.
The Final aspect is presenting the city as a place that the thieves will want to visit. Despite the Black Market and thievery awards, another aspect is to draw attention to their city and their pride, be it the exceptional quality of Powlgraff’s prostitutes, Cilagros’ canal-cruising, singing, rogues or the more elitist artistic realm of Vandergraff and its counterfeiters and forgers.
Flow of Events
Opening Ceremony - laying out the bounds of the convention, commemoration of the Guild wars and the cost in gold and lives, opening feast and Thieves Ball in the evening. The opening rounds of the Cant Off begin, with younger streetwise thieves competing for the accolade of their peers.
Black market opens, and stays open for the rest of the Convention, peddling their illegal and illicit wares. The Guildmaster’s Roast commences with the evening dinner (An invitational event, akin to brandy and cigars rather than ale and dice) The second evening Gala, devoid of the esteemed leaders of the guilds is a more raucous affair of boozing, gambling, carousing and a general celebration of all things roguish. The Prize is revealed to be stolen, and the list for the scavenger hunt is released.
Guildmaster’s Summit - with the frivolity out of the way, the guildmasters, many nursing hangovers, get into the business of turf disputes and grievances. Regular thieves enjoy the city, as well as participating in the scavenger hunt. Third evening gala consists of sneaking into Royal affairs during the fall festival, or crashing commoner affairs if security is too tight.
Declaration of the winner of the Cant Off, the Scavenger Hunt (who was actually able to lift a chicken’s tooth off of the wizard AND a pair of the princess’ garters?) The final ball and dance as well as the election of the next site of the convention. The closing ceremonies are quite short as most of the participants are either dead tired from being up all night, hung over from too much ale, and all are ready to go home to spread the tales of the convention, and their own accomplishments.
Competitions and Attractions
The Scavenger Hunt
On the second evening, the list is released, being 3D6 items in length. Some of the items are quite common, such as a pair of ladies slippers, though a thief who lifts the pink silk slippers of the princess is going to get more kudos than the thief who nabs a pair of plain woolen slippers of a midwife. On the end of the list are a small number of very rare, and difficult to find items. These can include keys to the stockade, the Steward’s sword, or an explicit pillow book from the local mage. Those who seriously competed in the hunt present their trophies on the closing day to see who has won. The winner generally receives not only respect but a valuable magic item of some sort. This is also a chance for the local guild to show off its wealth and prosperity.
A new competition, this runs the full length of the event, with the younger thieves and rogues using the skill as fast-talking and using the cant, or thieves lingo, compete with one another. Some sue musical instruments to pace their cant, others simply "keep it real" and show respect to their roots on the hard and dirty streets. The winner of the Cant Off is guaranteed to return next year, as well as getting much respect for his skills.
This tradition came about on the fifth year of the convention when Phinneas Baerd of Vandergraff declared that the thieves of his city were so good that he could lay a gold hilted dagger in the middle of a convention table and none could take it without being caught. Fifteen minutes later the dagger was gone and the Prize came about. Each year, a item is declared the prize and it is the duty of the hosting guild to protect the prize (hang it from a chain in the middle of the room, place it in a strong box, anything except standing armed watch over it. It takes a master thief to filch the prize, and doing so gains respect for that thief’s guild, as well as netting the thief quite a prize in the item taken.
The elders of the Guilds are made men, each having gained their position by wit, skill, cunning and charisma. As such, they are a very diverse and ‘interesting’ lot of men and no few women. At the Roast, the most prominent Guildmaster is the subject of the roast. Most often, it is a retiring member who has decided to pass his seat on and retire to that villa in the countryside. Other times its a Guildmaster who has seriously flubbed up, or one who has proved himself or herself exceptional. No matter the circumstances, the Roastee must accept the roasting in good humor, though only those being roasted for ineptitude are sorely tested on their temper. The roast consists of a recounting of the Roastee’s most memorable, embarrassing and revealing anecdotes, to which the Roastee is allowed to respond, but it is considered bad form to try to hard to refute an anecdote.
Overheard at the Roast
"A moment of silence for Kijik the Sparrow. He finally flew to high, but what a little bird he was! Take his wife for instance, no really, TAKE her!" (with apologies to Henny Youngman)
"How about a big round of applause for "The Gnat", finally hangin’ it up after all these years. Get it boys? Hangin’ it up!" (a few laughs, a few boos)
"They tell me Black Ronnel is retiring to his wife and garden. Well, if that doesn’t convince you to never retire, nothing will!" (Black Ronnel’s wife tosses a tomato, Black Ronnel is napping throughout the speech)
"And last but not least, ‘Baby-Face Ilmar’ is calling it a career, ladies and gentlemen. Look at his face now…not quite smooth as a babies anymore is it? That acid splash certainly didn’t help!" (Ilmar winces)
"Oh and I almost forgot, lets give the Silver Spurs award to Loppy Binderbrook. Most horses stolen last year in the entire Empire! A horse is a horse of course of course..lalala (severe booing and disagreements ring out from other horse-thieves!)
The Black Market
One of the largest draws of the Convention is the Black Market. Taking its name from the underground illegal market, the Black Market deals almost exclusively in illegal goods. Thieves picks, housebreaking harnesses, weapon black, and easily concealed weapons can all be found here, as well as some unorthodox items. The Market is open each day of the convention, save for the first. On the first day, some are setting up shop in their secured location, while the rest attend the opening ceremonies and the like.
Honor Among Thieves
Each DM’s home realm is going to be different, but a thieves post like this would be incomplete without offering some sample thieves guilds from across the Kingdom. Aside from the guilds listed, some good ideas for guilds could be creating them along the lines of a certain skill (beggars, cutpurses, smugglers, etc) or by geographical location (Old Quarter, West Bank, Marketplace) A small city will generally only have one guild that loosely presides over general roguery while a large city can have as many as three or four guilds that can overlapping territories, both in terms of their larcenous skill, but also physical turf. A metropolis, or major city can have as many as a dozen guilds, some no more than street gangs, others organized like the Mafia or Yakuza.
Soft Walls House - The guild that others get judged by. The "Cream". Led by the charismatic "Sil". This guild is located in the capital of Haracon, Marsuth. Sil is the proverbial ‘gentlemen thief’, well read, aware of the best wine vintages, and tending towards magnanimity to the "innocents" of the city, despite his guilds business. It was Sil’s idea to use invisible ravens to communicate with the other guild masters in preparation for any given year’s event. It was also Sil’s brainchild, to include a toast to ‘Saint Jarry’, Patron of Thieves, during every years Roast.
Dodgy Brotherhood - A mid-sized guild with some prestige, which has recuperated quite nicely from the war that started it all. Known to employ countless middlemen and other ‘pigeons’ in its dealings. Still led by the irascible but slightly mellowed Hoel Spaca, the Dodgers still concentrate on "street work", picking pockets, cutting purse strings, and the like.
Esteemed Brotherhood of Cargomasters- Most people don’t know a cargomaster from a ship captain, and for that much, most sailors cant tell the difference either. The normal Cargomaster’s Guild governs the rates of shippage, and decides what will be moved to where and by whom. By virtue of their control over all non-military shipping, the Cargomasters are both weathy and influential. Within this perfectly respectable if sometimes shady guild is the Esteemed Brotherhood of Cargomasters, each and every one a smuggler, privateer, slaver, and pirate. This guild commands ships and their mercenary crews. Some carry contraband cargos of illicit drugs, illegal weapons, and even innocents in chains to be sold on the slave market. They are as powerful and influential as their legit guildmates, but far less scrupulous. Based out of any port on a contiginous body of water (sea or ocean) this is one of the few guilds that is able to extend its reach beyond the single boundary of a lone city. Pororn Wesovi, a distinguished, goateed, middle-aged man leads this guild with the proverbial iron hand and a soft touch at the same time. He is highly respected among the other guild masters.
The Palmers - Proud and haughty self-styled specialists hailing form the mud-caked streets of Old Olmesh. They have a strange way of picking their leaders. A guildmaster is voted on every year, and replaced the following year by another. "Palm work" though not an original concept, is their forte. This year’s leader is one, Handless Henno.
Cryphus Gang - These are bad apples. Employing little organization, and featuring many hoodlums, the thieves here are all relations of the original Cryphus, a fecund hood of the first order, who is now thankfully long dead. Cousins, brothers, sisters and the like, unsurprisingly they all tend to look alike or at least share physical characteristics. Invited grudgingly, the Cryphus gang doesn’t ‘do it pretty’ but they get the job done.
The Roofers - The rooftop brigade! Led by Yazzard the Younger, son of Yazzard the Older, who was blasted off a roof when he was struck by a lightning bolt! Junior has an uncontrollable phobia of lightning unsurprisingly, bordering on lunacy. As by proxy, and due to their particular forte, so do most Roofers. "Chimney-Sweeps", is another appellation they are known by in Josters Lance, the town from which they hail.
Yoshi’s Thousand Fingers - the oldest known guild, from the dilapidated, ruined city of Unercropft. Nowhere near ‘the best’ however, much to Yoshi’s resentment, mostly due to countless wars and lawful persecutions. Their name is quite lofty, since there are only about thirty five or so fingers left today. As always, but particularly so this year, Yoshi is looking to make a splash at the gala, come hell or high water. He particularly dislikes Sil and Ossidra, the ‘blind fox’ and the ‘upstart trollop’ as he calls them. Also, being nearly one hundred years of age, Yoshi has challenged his Fingers to find him the ways and means to achieve eternal life and immortality, and he is dead (hehe) serious on this matter! How this may go is anyone’s guess.
Cocks and Peckers - These precocious thieves hail from Powlgraff, the Fowl City. They are led by Ossidra, a beautiful and wise guildmistress. She is a forward thinker and quite the political animal. Very protective of her ‘birds’, Ossidra is always on the look out for trouble during these events. Unknown to anyone, except Ossidra, Sil of the Soft Walls House has a fierce crush on the gorgeous, flame-haired guildmistress. The Guild gets its peculiar name, from the fact that the killing and eating of poultry is forbidden in Powlgraff. This stems from a long ago incident when both the archduke of Powlgraff and his duchess choked on chicken bones two minutes apart, during a celebratory feast. Thousands of roosters and hens wander the plazas and streets unfettered in Powlgraff, ‘pecking’ and ‘preening’. And the guild has adopted their bizarre guild name in their honor. The guilds particular expertise is running the prostitution racket. Every streetwalker or brothel doyenne in the city, pays homage (and coin) to Ossidra’s collectors and protectors.
The Golden Rule
There is a certain honor among thieves, but the laws they hold as their own are draconian. Any thief caught in the act of stealing at the convention (stealing from a vendor, guild master, hosting party, as opposed to pulling a heist against a local non-protection paying merchant) can be punished by death. But the golden rule comes into play, in that If the thief is not caught, there was no crime.
The Daring Raid - The Convention is a congregation of the wealthy, and some guildmasters like to demonstrate their success by dripping themselves with gold and jewels. For whatever reason (Cuz they can, coercion and blackmail, or get the McGuffin) the PC thieves have decided to rob one of the attending guild masters, or vendors. Can the PCs pull off the heist, and escape without being branded as thieves among thieves?
Oceans Reversed - Rather than steal something, the PC’s have the unenviable task of protecting a valuable item or person. This could be the Prize mentioned above or it could be something that is just really, really valuable. The PC’s have to see the other side of robbery. Can they refuse bribes or brow beatings?
Hot to Trot - The King is really annoyed that someone managed to off with his jewel encrusted scepter, and the PC’s have it in their hot little hands, the problem is that being caught with it is a worse than death sentence, and no one is will to buy it, no matter the discount. Can the PC’s find a fence in the Convention before the law catches up with them?
Do you Have it in Dragonhide? - a lot of thief items are less than easy to come by. The more exotic the item, the harder it is to find. The Black Market is the perfect place to find that wonderful toy the PC wants so badly. The catch, the vendor isn’t willing to part with the item easily. Perhaps the PC’s have to do a task, provide something in barter rather than plain old gold, or have to find a way to steal it and get away.
Thief games - Can the PC’s resist a chance to compete in the Cant Off? Do they want to nab the Prize? The PC’s are drawn into the thief games by happenstance or by bet, or even by the order of their stodgy old guild master.
Knife in the Back - tensions are high, some conflict has not entirely quieted during the Convention and a guildmaster fears that a rival is going to have him killed. What will if be, an assassin, a friend bought with Judas silver? An arrow from a dark alley. Paranoid, but unable to avoid the convention the guildmaster attends. 1. The PCs have to serve as bodyguards and protect the old coot, or 2. The PCs have to sneak into a Thieves gathering to assassinate one of its leading members for an unknown party.
The Long Kiss - A well known thief (likely female for a predominantly male group and vice versa for a female group) has been framed for a major crime in the Convention. It is up to the PCs to help the victim escape, as well as uncovering the parties involved in the frame-up and defeating the main villian. The goal? distract everyone from a McGuffin, or to assassinate an important personage. Mayhem ensues.
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Vandergraff By: Scrasamax ( Locations ) City - Other
Milord I do present a uniquely industrious city located on the periphery of the Sea of Grass and the bawn of the Ganhojol Forest.
Comprising the western portion of the Arch Duchy of Haracon, Vandergraff is a large and rapidly growing city located on the banks of the wide and deep Running Blood river. The river is so named for the deep murky color of its sediment rich waters. A confluence of trades and industry have spurred the growth of the township into a full grown city in less than a generation.
After with Vandergraff’s city council and the appointed steward of the city I find it a place in search of an identity. It lacks the old refinement of Powlgraff or the time tested traditions of Cilagros. Instead the merchant and craftsmen of the city vie with one another in sponsoring musicians and painters, sculptors and acting troupes, giving the industrious city a rather frivolous feel. Much of the city is new construction, a mix of wood and plaster and impressive buildings of stone all growing in a rather haphazard way.
The primary source of income for the city is the felling of tree and the lumber they produce. First and foremost is the rendering of the fine straight white barked trees into ship’s masts and spars. A close second comes in the realm of building lumber and fuel for the forge furnace. This wood is cut from the vast reserves of the Ganhojol forest, a region well known for its massive birch trees and the white-skinned dryads who haunt its deeper reaches. The locals have begun to lessen tension between themselves and the forest dwellers by removing fewer and fewer of the birches and instead focusing on the faster growing and nuisance pines, sweetgum, and elm trees.
The newest fad in the city is the creation of pulp wood sheets that while not as durable as vellum, are much cheaper to make and do not require the mess and smell of a tannery. This zettel, as they call it, makes for the creation of cheaper books as well as a whole new arena of artists who paint on the zettel and even fold the material into the likeness of flowers, and animals. The last innovation came as an act of desperation, a lumberman lost his pipe and desperate for some pipeweed, he rolled his pipeweed in a thin strip of the zettel and lit it, creating what the locals call the zettelette and it is all the rage among the elite.
The western portion of the Vandergraff province is dominated by wheat and cornfields. The grange guild known as the House of the Scythe maintains roughly half of these fields, the rest supported by country gentlemen and by a a goodly number of farming manors. yellowbread, made from corn is a common food item in the city as the loaves are heavy and resist spoilage well. Dark wheatbread is also very common.
Combined with the new charred oak barrels produced from Gahojol oak, the locals produce a stout variation of whiskey that they call bourbon. This liquor is amber in color and has a very pleasant almost honey like smoothness to it. To the gods on high, after each barrel is used only once, the barrels are smashed and burned. Milord I know brewers who will use the same barrels for generations!
Located south-east of Vandergraff proper, and downriver from the zettelworks, distilleries, and lumber mills, this is the seedy side of town. All of the buildings here are new and poorly built. Large block houses dominate with taverns and brothels dominating the ground floors while the rest of the building is filled with migrant workers and displaced rural folk looking to escape the plow life. This ward is best known for its high crime rate, and surprisingly for the quality of it’s folk and tavern music.
Conflicts and Plot Hooks
The Crown - The Arch Duchy of Haracon has long been dominated by the genteel society of Powlgraff, located to the east. In recent years, Vandergraff has eclipsed Powlgraff in both terms of population and income. Now the nobility of the city, themselves barely in control of their own city, vie for possession of the throne of Haracon. They wish to move the seat of Govt to the city and it could become ugly. Assassinations are possibly as well as plenty of thievery, and intrigue. If things go poorly, even a civil war between the two cities could erupt.
The People - For the last decade, the Nobles of Vandergraff have fallen behind. They have no influence in the merchant class, and have little understanding of the zettelworks, or the new shipping of bourbon to foreign markets. As such they are becoming estranged from the populace and in response their issuing of laws and charters is becoming more and more draconian as they try to retain what control they have before it all slips away. The PCs can come in on either side, trying to regain the base power of the nobility, especially if they are looking to become lesser nobility/knights or landowners of such a stripe. On the other side, they can be part of the burgeoning democracy that is growing in the wards of the new city.
The Wood - The growth of the city demands sacrifices. Woodlands are cleared to make room for new farmland or more space to build. The dryads and their tree-hugging druids are up in arms, and the city has to find a way to placate or eliminate the nature boys and girls before events escalate into a war between the woodsmen and the lumberjacks. The PCs can fight a guerilla campaign against a well equipped if disorganized city guard or try to marshall inexperienced city folk into a viable fighting force. Or, could there be a compromise?
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Ye Olde English, the Archaic Word Challenge By: Murometz ( Articles ) Resource - Gaming - In General
Forsooth!! (whatever the hell that means)
Ever since I bought a copy of Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten Words tome, I have become somewhat obsessed with, well…forgotten words. As you read these bizarre, often-silly, and sometimes downright sensible words, phrases and their meanings, you may discover what I did. It seemed that almost every term I came across, instilled some sort of fantasy rpg idea in my head.
I propose a challenge for all word-lovers! Pick any one and do a submission featuring and inspired by said word. Simple enough right? I tried to pick some of the jucier ones.
This can be added to in three ways. Firstly as mentioned, as an entire submission based on one word or phrase. Secondly, more funky archaic terms can be added alphabetically as scrolls, and thirdly, just by using a word or two in future submissions.
If nothing else, these words can be used to pleasantly pepper one’s writing!
Abortive Fine vellum made from the skin of a stillborn calf or lamb.
Adventurers-Upon-Return Those travellers who lent money before they went abroad, upon condition of receiving more on their return from a hazardous journey. This was their proper title.
Alytarch He who seeth that good rule be kept at common games, contests, and exercises. (See Ssao E’hzeir, Alytarch of Yyiszo)
Argyle a secret picture-language of thieves, street people, and beggars. To the uninitiated this appears as childrens graffiti—doodles, gibberish and stick figures on walls around the city, but it is in fact intricate and conveys complicated messages.
Babies-In-The-Eyes The miniature reflection of himself which a person sees in the pupil of another’s eye on looking closely into it.
Biblioklept A book thief; one who purloins or steals books.
Carpet-knight A denomination given to men of peacable professions, who are raised to the dignity of knighthood. They take the appellation ‘carpet’ because they usually receive their honours from the King’s hands in the court, kneeling on a carpet.
Culliage An ancient custom which gave a lord the liberty of lying the first night with his vassal’s new wife.
Eagle-Stone A variety of iron ore, so called from the belief that it was found in the nests of eagles, where it was supposed to prevent eggs from becoming rotten.
Gaberlunzie A mendicant; a poor guest who cannot pay for his entertainment. (see Gaberlunz)
Geloscopy Divination by means of laughter. (See Elziphar of Saliadonia)
Hippospadians Monstrous persons that abuse themselves with a horse.
Idle-Worms revolting, maggot-like, tiny worms, bred in the fingers of lazy girls. (see Solace Worms)
Midnight Friend An accoustic apparatus consisting of a…tube extending from the doctor’s street door to his bed, by which a message can be transmitted to the awakened practitioner, instead of merely the sound of his bell. Hence, it has been fancifully termed the "medical man’s midnight friend".
Mountain of Pity A stock of money raised by charity of good people who, observing the poor ruined by usury…voluntarily contributed good store of treasure to be preserved and lent to them, wherby they might have money at a low rate to relieve their wants.
Myomancer A kind of hedge-wizard whose powers stemmed from mice. (See Hamako the Black)
Oblat A soldier who, grown impotent or maimed in service, hath maintenance or the benefit of a monk’s place assigned him in an abbey. (see Saint Oblat the Maimed)
Palimpsest A manuscript page, scroll, or book that has been written on, scraped off, and used again. (See The Vocran Palimpsest)
Poosk To search for vermin on the person. (see St. Girm’s Pooskers)
Primovant In ancient astronomy, that sphere which was supposed to carry the fixed stars in their daily motions, to which all the other orbs were attached.
Queer Plungers Cheats who throw themselves into the water, in order that they may be taken up by their accomplices, who carry them to one of the Houses appointed by the Humane Society for the recovery of drowned persons, where they are rewared by the society with a guinea each; and the supposed drowned person, pretending that he was driven to that extremity by great necessity, is also frequently sent away with a contribution in his pocket.
Quockerwodger A wooden, clock-work, toy figure which, when pulled by a string, jerks its limbs. Also used as a term to signify a pseudo-politician, one whose strings are pulled by somebody else. (I’m writing a piece on this one)
Rostral-Crown The Naval crown(medal) anciently awarded to the individual who first boarded an enemy’s ship. A great honor among warriors. (see The Rostral Guild)
Screever A man who draws with coloured chalks on the pavement huge, grandiose figures of storms, ships on fire, great beasts, and scenes of legend, and is paid a pittance by admirers and passers-by. Some of the career screevers are true masters of their art, but disrespected by all other artists. (see Stolvi the Screever and Shevourus the Mad)
Shivelavat’s Hen A hen which has ceased to lay; figuratively, a woman past child-bearing.
Smoking Match Smoking matches were usually made for tobacco-boxes or some other trifling prizes, and were performed two ways. The first was a trial among the candidates who shall smoke a pipe full of tobacco in the shortest time; the second was precisely the reverse. These were infamous contests among the poor, generating great excitement and much wagering on the outcomes.
Spidireen The name of an imaginary ship, sometimes mentioned by sailors. If a sailor be asked what ship he belongs to, and does not wish to tell, he will most probably reply, "The Spidireen Frigate, with nine decks and ne’er a bottom!"
Stelliscript That which is written in the stars. He who desires to learn what good they prefigure must read them from west to east; but if he be forewarned of evil, he must read from north to south.
Suthcundman The oldest inhabitant; the one who knows what happened a long time since. The chief man in a small town or village.
Taghairm A mode of divination formerly used. A person was wrapped up in the skin of a newly slain bullock, and deposited beside a water-fall, or at the bottom of a precipice, or in some other wild and unusual situation where the scenery around him suggested little but objects and visions of horror. In this condition, he revolved in his mind the question proposed, and whatever was impressed upon him by his exalted imagination passed for the inspiration of the disembodied spirits who haunted their desolate recesses.(see The Taghairm Skin)
Thieves Vinegar A kind of vinegar made by digesting rosemary tops, sage-leaves, and some other less wholesome ingredients, anciently believed to be an antidote agianst the plague. It derived its name and popularity from the story that four thieves who plundered the bodies of the dead during palgue, ascribed their impunity to this preperation.
Vorago A gulf, a whirlpool, a quagmire, or marvellous deep place that sucks or swallows up even rivers, and whereout nothing can come.
Water-Wolf In drinking out of a wild, natural stream, a man is said to swallow a water-wolf which, it is also said, grows in his stomach.
Whores-Hunting When a wife left her husband to live with another man, the villagers would assemble outside the guilty couple’s house with a horse’s head stuck on a pole, and would pull the jaw by means of a string tied through the animal’s lower lip. (See Goodman Slatterbite)
Yird-Swine a mysterious dreaded sort of animal, called the yird-swine was believed to live in graveyards, burrowing among the dead bodies and devouring them. (see Yird-Swine)
and perhaps my favorite, because its so peculiar and morbid…and because i dont quite "get it"
Zoldering An opprobrious epithet reserved for very wrathful occasions, but without more meaning than the force of the sound conveys. (see Ye Zoldering Grimoire)
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