The red-coated infantry of the 23rd Yorkshire regiment stood steady formed up in two lines on the reverse slope of the hill. The omnious drumming of the approaching enemy column filled the air.
Over the crest of the hill sprouted the banners of the oncoming hosts, a brilliant gold eagle at the top of the largest banner. Shortly thereafter the first ranks of the blue-uniformed soldiers broke into view.
"Fire!" shouted the captain. Two ranks of muskets and two 12-pounders loaded with grapeshot blasted away into the troops of the Napolean Adalaid. As the smoke cleared, no void opened in the front ranks. The captain stood speechless with shock. Could they have all misfired?
Elsewhere, the 2nd Regiment of the Napolean's forces stood hidden in heavy forest. Their color party bore a banner and Eagle the mirror image of the one born by the attacking regiment.
Out from the banner stuck a multi-forked bolt of blueish lighting. It slashed out and struck down dozens of the lined up soldiers. Go to Comment
An apparently normal world that suffers from massive earthquakes and severe gravitational variation.
Through some freak occurance - perhaps artifical in nature, the planets' core has inexplicably collapsed into three small black-holes which orbit each other in a wild dance which causes severe earthquakes and perceptible variances in gravitational pull. This world is in the process of collapsing into itself and only the low overall mass of the black holes prevents the world from simply imploding in one sudden collapse. The planet is in effect a Dysan sphere, but the inner region is too bathed in radiation to be habitable.
The planet is doomed to eventually collapse inward as the crust and mantle crumble over geological time.
This erratic gravitational field makes low orbit quite difficult - it is much easier at higher orbits since the tidal effects of 3 centers of gravity are mitigated by distance and behave more like a point source.
The planet, being so unstable and dangerous, is home only to a few scientific installations (mostly unmanned) and a few desperate miners. The world is quite rich in mineral resources, and there are the ruins of some lost race dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Go to Comment
A common ability granted to relgious types within many game systems is the ability to 'turn' undead. This article examines other options that could be used.
Too many times the undead hordes are viewed simply as opponents or simple robots to be disposed of. In truth, the existence of undead of any form is a tragedy of immense proportions, and most religions should hold the bringing of such to rest as very high in their priorities. The penalty for creating undead should obviously be very high.
Redemption will cause undead to have any controls upon them sundered, and full knowlege of their state restored. Even their sanity will be restored for a short window of time. Depending on their nature, this might cause them to seek out whoever brought them to this condition, or simply find a proper place to lie down and finally die.
Instead of blasting the walking dead with positive energy, the corpse is pushed away from it's source of negative energy.. Go to Comment
Constructed of extruded fullerene-reinforced plastics, advanced pneumatic arms can take a wide range of appearances, and can be made
The development of true fullerene-reinforced materials has revived an older technology. Even in the 1800's, there were air rifles of sufficent power to be dangerous. Now, with the ability to produce storage vessles 10 to 500x times the strength of steel, one can store immense energy in the simple form of compressed air.
The cartridges of the projectile, followed by a fullerene storage vessel sealed by a plug of a slightly different formulation of fullerenes. This one has about 50% of the structural strength of the rest of the cartridge and is much more electically conductive then the rest of the vessel. When exposed to a short electric pulse, the fullerene weakens still further to the point where the contained pressure breaches it, resulting in sufficent energy to propell the projectile.
These weapons have several advantages aboard ships and space stations:
Non-pyotechic. The amount of carbon acutally used in the round is quite small, and due to the use of nitrogen as the propellent, only the 'plug' is exposed to enough heat and oxygen to combust, resulting in a brief muzzle flash as it exits the barrel. The lack of other byproducts of combustion means less impact on environmental systems.
Scalable. Rounds can be prepared with varying levels of propellent, allowing for sub-sonic rounds to be produced.
Easy to produce. The vessel and propellent can actually be drawn from atmospheric sources and organic waste.
A place where huge dinosaur-sized rodents travel in vast herds accross grassy plains. A small, pygmy-like people lives on the backs of these creatures, travelling with the herd.
They only come down at night when the herd stops to rest, but do not wander far, for flightless predatory birds the size of T-rexs will occasionally attack and send the herd moving once more.
This Elemental is fantastically rare - it is theorized that there simply is not enough iridium readily available to concieve of summoning one. Those that do exist are more common in the voids between worlds then upon any planet.
They are also amazingly dense - a man-sized Iridium elemental weighing more the two tons. They are also nearly indestructible. The Iridium Elemental is virtually impervious to acid effects and does not react with any of the other elemental types. Go to Comment
Cliffworld is a unnatural finite and closed universe.
To the inhabitants, it is a great shaft in endless stone, 200 miles deep, and 200 miles in diameter.
The Cliff: The edge of the vast shaft, 120 000 square miles of cliffside. Cities, waterfall-rivers, terraces and odd shaped trees are the main artifacts visible.
Dreadfully hard and stable bedrock, tunnels take a great deal longer to dig then on other worlds, though mineral resources are common. Caverns do exist, and if one digs deep enough, they would emerge at the other side of the cliff.
200 miles down, a plain of about 300 square miles is a mixed landscapes of water,earth and fire - lakes of water and lava and volcanoes .
"For every day you're in this place, you're two days closer death." - Great Big Sea's Chemical Worker Song.
The land of Elrith is not known for the health and happiness of its people.
The Black Mines of Nemith are one of the worst places in a rather unpleasent country. The Miners that work here live short lives, and the local women bury many husbands in the course of their lives.
This was common with the deadly coal mines of our world, the black coal ruining mens lungs. However these mines are diamond mines, but a malignent type indeed. Deep beneath the surface their lies some fell place whose foul emanations work their way closer to the surface. Go to Comment
Another ploy to reduce mobility and danger of possible undead is for the corpse to be mutilated. From as simple as cutting all major tendons, decapitation, and full dismemberment.
32. Crossroad Burial
To confuse the arisen dead and preventing it from finding its home, corpses of beings likely to arise are buried at crossroads.
The Kayeed people have a special area south of their captial, called the Ithinia or Hashworks, which consists of a massive array of criss-crossing roads with many scores of crossings. At each crossing may be found many graves, with the corpses interred vertically and head-first to further impede possible rising.
Appeasment of the Dead
From as simple as closing the eyes of the dead, to long, elaborate ceremonies, the following customs are intended to appease the dead to not bother the living.
Respite is a large city with a population of over 50000 squeezed into its wooden palside walls. No stone buildings exist yet - the most advanced structures being multistory wood structures, and most being leather tents.rnrnFood is a constant issue - no harvests have yet been made and even cleared land for planting is in short supply. Hunting, and fishing in the nearby Broadbank river provide most of the cities food.rnrnSanitation is non-existant in the city - though efforts are being made to change this. Though thrown together by catastrophy and lacking a strong central authority, there are factions strong enough to begin to bring the chaos to order.rnrnFactionsrnrnThe LifebringersrnrnA church formed from an amalgum of religions, it is continutally evolving as its members hammer together its’ doctrine and its pantheon of gods. It is led by the powerful cleric Motensheve. It has one of the strongest military resources with many brought in looking for something to believe in, shaken by the death of their world.rnrnKing GrethulrnrnNot the most powerful king before the Fall, he was one of the farthest from the demonic incursion, and so was able to bring the largest homogenous force through the gate. His control faltered though, and many of his lords broke off fealty. Many of these made joined the two outmigrations that took away much of Respite’s original population, seeking to establish additional cities.
Krolor - Sir Velanth Krolor. Knight of King Nyar - who led most of his people through the gate.
King Nyar led most of his people on the first Excursion,leaving Krolor and about 300 other 'knights' and men-at-arms behind as his 'abassadors'. In truth, Nyar did not trust Krolor and had the Fall not happened, might have thrown him into a dungeon to rot.
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The gate flashed, and a dozen bedraggled figures emerged, surrounded by the Sentinels. Quickly they were disarmed and spells readied. The beastmaster with his pair of wolves moved in, searching for clues - for signs that abyssal evil had hitched a ride with the newcomers. One of the wolves suddenly howled and immediately the young man they were examining was grabbed by the Sentinels.
He made to fight, but an amber beam from a wand transfixed him. He then collapsed and was dragged away by two Sentinels.
"One day, no more" High Wizard Ionus said quietly to the grey-robed cleric who stood nearby. "The incidents are getting more frequent. One of these times, it will be something more then a dark-tainted human that they find."
"My prayers are for those who did not make the journey, Ionus, and I understand the need to close the gate. The sacrifices made ", the cleric unconsciously handled his spherical holy symbol, " to open it forbid us from squandering the sanctuary we have here. It is a new world, and our place in it has yet to be decided. You have my support on this matter."
"My thanks, High Garun. Where are you going?"
"To try and save one more soul," said the cleric as he walked towards the isolation tent.
Dimi ibn Yousif found the chaos here almost as bad as where he left, though little blood was being shed. Though many decended into subterfuge, most had their fill of violence in their exodus. Dimi's journey was no different - his group of raiders had been nearly wiped out by a squadron of demonic lancers. The touch of their cruely barbed spears was enough to incinerate horse and rider, quick enough for the demonic rider to burst through the acrid clouds of smoke. Only the intrecession of the remaining gate defenders saved Dimi's life and granted him the time to make the gate. The fight must not have gone well, for no further members of his people came through the gate therafter.
A week has passed since his arrival, and he has found no signs of his countrymen in Respite. He did find that even in this pit of chaos, wenching and carousing could be had, though it was difficult to find something to pay for the pleasures of the flesh. His horse was having similar difficulties - good fodder or even ground to graze upon was very difficult to find.
He was not entierly unsuccessful - it was mentioned more then once that just prior to his arrival, a massive exodus of nearly thirty thousand left Respite to found their own city, and some people who wore similar clothing had left with them.
Kou'rha's day was very interesting. A hunting party from the outsider's city had come within a few bowshot of the village, and the village council was in an uproar. A bit closer, and the strangers would have come across the northmost Stoneflute and surely that would make them look even closer. Now the council would decide on their course of action.
Rajani found the entry fairly painless. After entering the gate at a somewhat undignified run, he percieved little transition as he appeared in front of a heavily armed phalanx of warriors. He felt the touch of powerful magic dance across his somewhat feeble magical defenses, and then felt them delve deeply - as if examining his soul on a vivisectionist's table. A moment and it was over, and the soldiers parted to allow him to pass.
A man wearing ornately painted leather robes walked over to him, bearing a long, equally ornately painted staff.
"Welcome to Respite, and pardon the intrusion - though I believe you understand it's .. necessity. Come, sit with me. I have a few minutes to speak before the gate opens again. Too few have been of your nature my friend."
The contrast was incredible. One moment he was running pell-mell to the gate as unimaginable horrors slid over the castle walls and onto the outer battlement. "All is lost! Every man for himself!" was the cry as the defenders turned from steadfast force to a panicked herd. Perhaps one in three made the gate, and Toboran was one of those.
He barely noticed the searching spells and took interested note of the wolves that came up to him, but did little apart from sniff at his trail rations - their reactions one of distaste.
"Welcome to respite! The warriors hostel is to your right ", the soldier who addressed him pointed. No-one even asked his name, he noted.
Food and shelter were ridiculously high priced here - both were in short supply. He would need to find employment soon, or perhaps go hunting. Hunting was his preference, but the forests here were unknown to him, and had been demonstrated to be dangerous.
Walking about the chaotic city, he happened upon one of the few taverns here, the Bearded Gremlin.
What the hell, he thought as he turned to enter..
The barkeep looked at the noisy one. He barely understood a word - "Ale" and "Swine". Terrisch was not the brightest of men, nor the best listener, but he understood intent. The noisy one found his ale distateful - which was no surprise, because Terrisch thought it so as well. No matter - he would show this one why there was no bouncer here. He straightened up, displaying his full six and half feet of height, his broad shoulders and massive fists. He cracked his knuckles, smiled grimly and said "Sez you what?"
And it was this moment that Toboran entered the bar.
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Darkness raised. He tried to sit up, but found he could not move. He was not paralyzed, but he was trapped inside something - something metal. It felt like a suit of armor, but unarticulated - down to his fingertips. He couldn't see much either, though apparently there were holes he could breath through, and a little flickering light filtered in through those holes.
"Awake I see" said a disembodied voice. "Just as well - I was growing tired of waiting. Now my friend, or perhaps fiend, you will tell me about yourself. Why you bear the taint, and why I should not have your torso cracked like a walnut?" At that, Jhoric felt pressure on his chest - cold and unyielding. It relaxed almost as quickly as it started.
"Take care in your response - falsehoods will be ... unfortunate."
Ionus looked with suprise as the fear crossed Rajani's face. Perhaps he was wrong...
"I mean one of the Art, my Lady. Nothing more. Is there something you wish to share?" - a pause. "No matter - you are free of Demontaint, and that is all we care about. The Diabolic arts we have decided to ban forever. We shall not allow for the fate of our worlds to follow us here, and so we must prob all who enter, and be vigilant against any such magics. We dug no further then to satisfy this need. Could you share with me the last happy moment you had in your world? I hear too much grimness lately, and would like at least one moment to reflect upon before I hear another tale of woe - all with the same ending."
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"I have a few of their eggs," shell produced a half dozen mottled green and brown spheres from a small purse, "But I do not think there is life left in them, I think they were of Endkelton, but not of this place."
Well Damn, these little critters are going to make an appearance at some point for sure!
High Garun has a hold over Jhoric - part blackmail, part Geas, part worse.
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Definately worth one, plus the sweet plot hook.
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Scras - Rajani
Dozus - Alun
Pariah - Dimi
Drackler = Toboron
Hrofgar - Balin
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Toboran lunged at the swine, his spear striking the beast yet again, driving it into it's side and eliciting an enraged squeal. At that moment, Dimi swung his weapons at the beast's exposed throat. The scimitar glanced off the beast's tough hide, but the kuri plunged deep into its throat, an obviously mortal wound.
But not obvious to the swine .
Turith slashed at the beast attacking him with desperate strikes, but failed to part the fell beast's hide. Two more of the warriors at front swung their weapons at the beast and one managed to injure it with an axe.
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It took the better part of a day for the party to find the roadstone. The streets of Respite had been choked by yet another influx of refugees, and it seemed it would not be long before the cramped city burst from the already huge population. Improved catches from the fishermen had somewhat alleviated the hunger situation, and had contributed to several pounds of dried fish being added to the party's provisions.
The gaurds had said little to the odd party as it marched out of the gate, though they had attracted many stares as they wended through the streets. A half-ogre with an old man riding him like a mule, Jaegarmond, a brace of lizardfolk and a dwarf made a very strange picture.
Balin had been given a scrap of precious parchment and some charcoal to take an impression of whatever was on the roadstone, and was also asked to grab any samples of odd plants he should encounter.
Windell had laughed when Jaegarmond approached him about the sapling. "Well, my dear Jaegarmond, you seem to be quite the fertile fellow! Now, take care of him - he _can_ move by the way, and he's not quite as helpless as he looks. Have a good journey!"
The party had also been given a pair of healing potions, to be returned if they weren't used during the expedition.
The stone had been fairly easy to find, just a few dozen yards north of the treeline. A group of charcoal burners were at work nearby and stared at the party as they approached.
The stone was about 4' tall, and had five smooth facets, all carefully carved and polished. Not a sign of an errant chisel mark could be found. On the smooth faces were a number of words deeply enscribed and filled with moss. The runes, Balin could attest, were definately of dwarven origin, but the words themselves, being names, did not provide much information. "Hathredhar", the north-oriented face said. "Othisthar" said the North-east, "Yaardmar", the south-easterly, "Marythranar" the southern, and "Traya Thnar" the western facet said. Some of the words rung somewhat familiar, but it would take some time to digest their meaning.
While Balin pondered over the meaning of the runes, the charcoal workers became bored and went back to work. Toboran noticed that nearby the charcoal workers a number of warriors were stationed under some cover, and each worker was quite well armed. Apparently this was not a quiet area.
Eskithar, rooting about, gave a hiss of triumph and held up a turtle he had found nearby a log. "Lunchssssh!" he said...
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Lefttover from before
Houses and Buildings
Concrete,wood and steel did not pass out of style as the years advanced, so most buildings had similar 'bones'. However, broadcast power was heavily used and so was greatly decentralized power generation with photovoltaic roofing tiles in common use. These tiles were terribly vulnerable to the EMP pulses that occurred during the Fall and so most of the common electricity sources are gone.
Some facilities still exist that could be brought on line if their control circutry could be replaced, either with new tech, or simpler tech - the turbines and furnaces are largely intact.
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Nine times out of ten, it’s the undead that do the running.
Not strictly animal or vegetable, the Corpse bud is a peculiar individual that shares characteristics from multiple kingdoms and species. In appearance, all corpse buds bear a shape of a large rounded top bud divided into four lateral segments, and a much longer, narrower bottom bud, also divided into four segments. Between the two halves are a set of four radial limbs, rounded on top and flat on the bottom, covered with tiny serrated hooks facing towards the body. In overall size, it’s limbs reach as wide as a spread hand, with the body being as thick as a fist. It is as long as a human hand from top to bottom.
Internally, the top bud of the corpse bud contains a bacteria filled membrane that produces the hydrogen that the corpse bud uses to stay aloft, and a series of fungal gills for the dispersal of spores for reproduction. The lower half of the bud contains a number of fine filaments, as well as a sharp barbed stinger containing a powerful local anaesthesia.
The Corpse Bud mobilizes by inflating its top bud, and steers by rotating its arms rapidly about its body. The corpse bud ordinarily drifts with the wind, orienting towards the scent of recent decay and death. It preys on the recently dead, burrowing the lower bud into the victim, using the anaesthesia in case the victim is dying, and not truly deceased. Once embedded, it releases its filaments into the body, replacing the current nervous system. This gives it full animation of the body, and allows the corpse bud to direct it.
Corpse buds are not a malevolent species, being primarily concerned with breaking down the host body for food, and infecting the reproductive cycle with spores in order to mate with other corpse-bud bodies. To preserve the corpse for this purpose, Corpse buds will seek out dry locations to prevent bacteria from destroying the corpses. This often causes a large number of corpse buds to gather in a single location.
In culture, Corpse buds are used to repair broken spines or degenerative diseases, as the sentient mind will easily overcome the mind of the non-sentient corpse bud. Once infected by a corpse bud, however, removal is usually fatal, and the infected individual cannot reproduce, or risk infecting another. Thus, it is a technique often reserved for the elderly, or a last resort.
Necromancers and other dark sorcerers will often preserve the corpses of their victims magically, and infect them with corpse buds, creating traditional undead as well, so as to seed their lairs with undead both offensive and non, in order to throw their enemies off balance. They will also enslave the rudimentary minds of the corpse buds, and transform the docile things into a plague. There have also been accounts of magically transformed corpse buds with stronger minds and a taste for living flesh, but thus far all accounts are unproven rumors.