Pilot, Piper, Explorer of Unusual Mental States, few space dwarves can compare with mighty Redhatch! Even fewer would want to!
In the radiation hell that was the surface of Gemma II, homeworld of the long-extinct species known as the Predathien, even the resilient Salvorathans could barely survive for long. It was there, in the midst of one of the lost culture’s incomprehensible places of worship, that they found the Pipes. Most of the party died right there, shredded by the alien artifact’s unearthly power, but the drug-addled assistant pilot named Scarlat Redhatch survived. Strangely drawn to the bizarre musical weapon, he wrenched it from its primordial tomb and seized it for his own…
...and the rest, as they say, is history!
Master of the Pipes
Standing a towering 4’6” in his gunmetal blue trousers, gleaming golden codpiece and platform boots, the black-skinned Salvorathan named Scarlat Hedhatch is covered with intricate tattoos in phosphorescent shades of red and gold that perfectly match his striped hair and beard. The intricate designs are almost impossible for the eye to follow, as they cross his bare chest, weaving drunkenly in and out of each other. Even Scarlat can’t make sense of the bizarre images inscribed upon his skin, images he sketched from dreams he received soon after acquiring his unique instrument, the Predathien Pipes.
The Pandimensional Pipes of the Predathien
A bizarre agglomeration of dozens of gleaming, golden tubes protrudes from a gleaming red synthleather bag of Redhatch's devising, transforming the alien instruments into a sort of bagpipe. Winding in uncanny undulations, the instrument's tubes seem to fade in and out of visibility, stretching into alien dimensions and realities. The unearthly pipes follow no comprehensible system, instead following the patterns of madness-inducing, non-Euclidean symmetries.
A less powerful set of lungs would be inadequate to provide the air needed for this inefficiently converted device, but Redhatch’s lungs are far more potent than a normal Salvorathan’s: For years, Scarlat has been recklessly ingesting hundreds of strange alien drugs in his quest for "celestial oneness" and "deeper reality, man!"
The bizarre chemical barrage that he has exposed himself to has somehow caused his lungs to mutate, causing him to have twice the lung capacity of others of his species.
An alien artifact of awe-inspiring might, Scarlat's bagpipes are more than a mere musical instrument. In Scarlat’s hands, it can not only deliver blasts of nearly deafening cacaphony, but he can shape the device's alien energies into lethal blasts of gravitic force, serving as a gravity lance with the power to crush objects and foes with hundreds of gravities of shattering power. Powerful enough to level city blocks, the pipes are also precise and accurate enough to burst the lids off of storage canisters without harming the contents in any way (...an ability that Scarlat enjoys displaying with distressing frequency, especially when meeting new people in foreign spaceports).
Please Fasten Your Accel Harnesses, Dudes!
Scarlat Redhatch, the most skillful pilot in the quad... the syst... on the shi... in the band, regularly pilots the intrepid members of the Tungsten-Trousered Troubadours in their travels, despite the fact that interstellar authorities revoked his pilot’s license years before. This occasionally causes them some problems, as he has a tendency to flee from any ship that appears to be on official business. Fortunately, fans of the band have become accustomed to occasional delays while the band’s members are bailed out of the local hoosegow.
At any given time (Particularly when piloting: Flying makes him nervous), Scarlat is certain to be intoxicated in some way. He is particularly fond of opening himself up to "new experiences", and will eagerly sample bizarre alien substances. Occasionally, these intoxicants will broaden his perceptions, but usually they just leave him befuddled and courting a hellacious hangover. When he can't get access to strange alien highs, he'll be addled by more ordinary (if not more legal) substances. Go to Comment
Perhaps Clochardshire is not the only place they are found, simply the only place that they have been noticed. Within the rat-infested alleys of the Dovecote Rookery, they crawl unregarded, simply more hopeless denizens of the night's shadows.
Forlorn and pitiful, these undead might slowly spread. Crawling along the Bindlestaff Roads in the dead of night, their pathetic hoards of gewgaws and rags wrapped tight around them, they meander slowly across the land.
Whenever a vagrant or beggar falls to hunger and Winter's frigid touch, they are drawn to the place, there to welcome a new member into their hopeless brethren. If his final thoughts were of his meager possessions, he may rise to join them. Go to Comment
I disagree with the critiques offered above. While I don't have a whole lot of interest in subs that are simply cut and pasted from other sources, this essay shows good research and editing, not simple collection of facts. It is a work of creative effort, a foundation upon which others can build.
The information is well-presented and makes a potentially difficult subject understandable. It presents a basis for others to launch their creative endeavors, a role which it fulfills well. Go to Comment
I like the way these little guys came out. They are likely to be the major species encountered if Stoneholt is used in a game, and they are well-rounded, with a variety of roles they play.
Once they learn enough of human politics, the Caretakers might send envoys to different factions of humanity, either trying to "buy off" the humans or turn them against other groups of intruding humans.
Feral Shargu might try to abduct young from other groups, or human young, hoping to turn them into members of their warbands.
There may be "triggers", behavioral cues that force the Feral ones to become more peaceful, or that turn the more peaceful ones violent. Humans may not know of these, or an alchemist working in the city could inadvertently enrage a horde of previously-docile Shargu. Go to Comment
Of course, neither Cuspi nor Dreckler realize that the magical paste he used was made from a stolen recipe. If an additional complication is needed, ruthless assassins could pick up his trail, eager to eliminate anyone who has learned of their secret...
I rephrased the sentence you were referring to, as you were absolutely right. I wasn't originally picturing truly romantic love, but something more covetous: Not animal lust, but a desire to possess the salve's wearer. The words that I had chosen didn't match what the unguent grew into.
Another worthy addition to the Legends of the Iron Spike.
I would expect the main spike to have a command word that would lock it in place, so that it couldn't easily be knocked out accidentally. How much force do you picture these spikes exerting? I picture a sturdy fighter struggling to keep the spike he's hanging on to from retracting into the wall, even as all the others vanish into their holes.
Alternatively, a "control spike" could effect only every third or fourth spike. This would allow a ladder to have three or more "control spikes", perhaps in different parts of the ladder. Another possibility would be for a shaft to have several ladders, only one of which is the true path. The rest could retract whenever someone reached ten feet below the top. Go to Comment
The task of making Summoning Magic interesting is something that the player can participate in as much as the game master. If your character is summoning, you can come up with interesting descriptions and names for your summoned beasties and the "special effects" that go with the spell. After all, your hero is dedicating an entire round to the task: Instead of summoning "a Celestial Buffalo", why not have... "The Plains Spirit Toromshe appears in a flash of celestial brilliance, his brilliant white coat almost glowing in the unearthly light."
It helps if you bring some miniatures for your favorite summonings. My character used to routinely summon fiendish scorpions, not because they were more effective than other creatures, but because I had cool minis. Go to Comment
A potent artifact for the cause of justice. I particularly like the tale of the sword's powers and history. The description of what it does is clear and original. In many ways, the sword reminds me of the Clark Ashton Smith tale The Two Necromancers.
I could see a plot where an undead needs to be "redeemed" so that the deceased can pass on information that has been lost since he was slain. Since the sword is a treasured relic, hidden away (if not lost), perhaps the undead needs to be captured instead of being destroyed, then brought to the sword's location. Go to Comment
I would have preferred to see a less stereotyped collection of NPCs. While the list effectively gathers the cliches common to depictions of prisons, it doesn't really add anything to them.
You seem to be under the impression that prison rules are enforced through intimidation or that rules are enforced as a means of harassing the inmates. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inmate despise the weak and corrupt just as much as they hate those who are arbitrary or disrespectful. Go to Comment
These daggers seem well-suited for a secret cabal of assassins. The method for creating the daggers is interesting and well-detailed, and they have enough mythic background that they could be easily inserted into an adventure.
The background described is meant to match the Dungeons and Dragons goddess Wee Jas, "the Stern Lady". The background given fits well, but the idea of a disease-causing dagger seems more suited to a god of disease and decay than a stern goddess of death and magic.
I could see a party finding one of these, and then being confronted by different groups that want the sacred item returned to them. The assassins that originally possessed the dagger would want to recover it, while less bloodthirsty sects might request it as a trophy of their triumph over one of the dreaded assassins. Go to Comment
Yes, it was inspired by my readings about the Tarot. I used to be fairly proficient at Cartomancy, a practice that I have since concluded is spiritually perilous and unwise: Those seeking promises of the future often lose the lessons of the present.
I didn't try to stay true to the commonly-accepted meaning of the card (Sudden reversal or catastrophic change), instead visualizing it as an example of the perils encountered by those who arrogantly traffic in spirits and seek to foretell the future. It became a place where Wisdom, if not respected, brings doom. Go to Comment
The line of pale children followed their schoolmistress silently and obediently, not even reacting to the frantic barking of the neighborhood dogs. Their school uniforms were bright and clean; their unblinking eyes so large and beautiful.
As they filed past a harried clerk, the impatient man rudely shoved one of the silent children out of his way. Slamming into a lamp post, the girl gave not a sound, quickly rejoining her class. In moments they were gone.
No one noticed the gleaming glass eye left behind in the gutter, so bright, so beautiful.Go to Comment
In the dead of winter, the party finds out that a local orphanage may be shut down if they can't come up with a massive amount of money. Apparently, a local nobleman covets the land it's on and has determined that the self-sacrificing matron in charge of the place is behind on her taxes. (For some reason, the previous tax collecter had neglected to collect from her.)
Naturally, the heroes wouldn't want the orphaned children and poor Mistress Solon thrown out into the street! That would be terrible! Go to Comment
The Jiangsi was the name of an undead being in Chinese folklore and mythology. Usually translated as zombie or vampire for Western palates, the Jiangsi was really neither. They appeared as simply risen, fresh corpses. They moved (peculiarly!) by hopping rather than walking, and sought out the living to suck the Qilife force from their victims.
Perhaps significantly more interesting than the Jiangsi itself, was the lore surrounding them. "Zombie wranglers", or "Corpse Herders", usually Daoist priests, were men tasked with delivering these undead beings back to their respective home towns. Tradition in China placed great importance and emphasis on the return of the dead to their homes and families, and thus the corpse herders came to be. By using magick words and talismans they would animate the dead, and by placing specially inscribed parchments of paper over the Jiangsi heads and faces, the corpse herders would be able to control the hopping corpses. Then like pied pipers, they would lead processions of subdued undead, across many miles, rhythmically chanting and ringing tiny bells.
Special inns were built across China to house these undead caravans, as the zombies could only travel by evening and night, the sun anathema to them. Rows of doors opening to barely a closet-space, lined the walls of these special establishments. Behind these doors, the corpses would be stored upright while the corpse herders rested in rooms.
The Jiangsi under the control of a corpse herder were quite harmless, merely hopping after him, silently and without complaint, for weeks and months. If however, the magicked parchment would somehow be removed from their faces, the creatures would immediately seek living humans to kill. Their thirst for Qi was unquenchable.
The job of a corpse herder was an interesting one to say the least.