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June 21, 2009, 12:08 pm

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Cheka Man

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Crickets of Ziust


"For days, we've heard nothing but cricketsong, from the coming of dust to an hour past dawn. Nothing he happened, but I'm sure something will."

last journal entry, Traggion the Explorer


The Crickets of Ziust resemble mundane crickets in almost every fashion. They are a mottled brown to black color, have modest leaping ability, and are nocturnal by nature. The can be differentiated from common crickets by close examination. The abdomen of a Ziustian cricket bears a mark that is commonly associated with Mathom, the god of delays.


The Crickets of Ziust are named after the fabled city of Ziust. This city was a marvel of efficiency and engineering during the age of K'ton. Of this paragon of industry, only it's name and the crickets remain. The city, by means unknown, deeply offended the God of Delays. Perhaps it was their tireless efficiency? No task was left for another day, nothing put of that could be done then. Such was the way things were in Ziust.

Then one night, the crickets came, singing their songs in the dark. A few K'tonians put off their tasks, for a little while. But they did get back to them. Then there were more crickets, nibbling at bushes and roots, all the while filling the darkness with their insectile orchestra. A few long breaks soon grew, like cracks in a stone. Procrastination blossomed, some folk preferred to listen to the insects, some took up drinking. The end effect was the same, Ziust's vaunted time-table started falling behind. Production fell, efficiency wavered, and things that should have been done weren't.

The fate of Ziust isn't precisely known. Like the rest of the K'tonian culture, it ceased to be. some scholars speculate that there was a great war, and due to the snags and delays in their infrastructure, Ziust and its allies were destroyed. So much time has passed since that fall that the location of Ziust's ruins are not even known. Some modern philosophers consider Ziust to be a metaphor or a legend and not a place that ever actually existed.

The biggest flaw in their argument is that the crickets of Ziust do indeed exist.


From a biological stand-point, these crickets are mundane in almost every fashion. They have no special immunities, no magical resistances, or any other seemingly supernatural trait. They congregate in dark moist places, forage at night, and rub their legs together to make what is called cricketsong. This is the only place where they differ from normal crickets, as the cricketson has a magical aspect to it. (More on this later).

Crickets of Ziust are asexual in nature, neither laying eggs nor having live young. Close examination reveals that the crickets are entirely artificial in origin, and bear a divine magical aura. Examinations of said crickets are excedingly difficult. Not in terms of the exam itself, but in that the process of examination will be repeatedly put off, delayed, and otherwise interrupted. Like all things that touch upon Mathom, the god of delays leaves his mark behind.

Mathom's Melody

No different on an acoustic level, the Ziustian cricketsong channels the divine essence of Mathom. This constant background emission of Mathomeric energy causes all sorts of strange and very easily overlooked effects. Being a divinity of causality, these effects are very rarely ever suspected of being artificial or engineered, rather just annoying tricks of timing and changes of luck.


A magus, making notes for a spell overlooks a vital spell component because he spilled his remaining ink and couldn't finish his task at hand, let alone composing his acquisition list for spell components. When the time came for the spell, the magus in question had to stop, and backtrack and figure out which component was missing, and instead of casting the spell at the best time, instead has to opt for a less effective time a few weeks later.

The Prince of the Kingdom has several tasks to attend, including delivering a seemingly unimportant message. Along the way, he takes some liesure time in a family garden, has a roll in the grass with a pretty servant girl, and forgets to deliver one of his messages. The spymaster, waiting for word from the queen never recieves his cipher, usually delivered by the unknowing prince.

The PCs seek new gear in a productive town, only to discover that the craftsman/artisan they require isnt available at that time. Seems that he forgot about something else and is a few leagues travel away and should be back in a few days, if all goes well. (Works great for slightly absent minded folk such as oracles, scholars, magi, and the like)

The Citadel remains silent for 5 days, except for the singing of crickets in the background.

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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Fallen Angel
June 21, 2009, 19:53
Only voted
Voted Cheka Man
June 22, 2009, 11:17
I like it, crickits of procrastination. What happens if they turned up at the seige of a town?
June 22, 2009, 12:45
I would guess a general loss of vigilance on the part of both the attackers and the defenders, maintenance of siege equipment would fly out the window, discipline would go to shambles.
Voted Murometz
June 22, 2009, 17:10
I like this. This may be the most "serious-minded" of the Mathom-connected/inspired subs we have. Crickets of procrastination, as Cheka says. Songs of Sonambulance. lol

One must ask...*did* Mathom punish the citizens of Ziust? And if he did, how the heck did his holiness manage to get off his butt long enough to punish anyone?

Anyway, it would be fun and easy to introduce these critters into any game. A nice, subtle side-thingy to attach to any actual adventure/location/etc to mess with PCs minds. Good GM's tool.

As I write this, I'm thinking about the many different ways I can use a swarm of these guys in my new campaign.

( Yep, the cricketsongs of Ziust seem to be in full force here at the citadel ;) )
June 23, 2009, 15:53
This is a pretty good one, all right. Crickets of procrastination, sweet.

Muro, my guess to your question was that Ziust probably thrived for many decades before Mathom got around to punishing them.
Voted Netlander
June 23, 2009, 15:54
Whoops, forgot to vote.
Voted manfred
June 23, 2009, 18:39
Your theories are clearly flawed, I will put them to rest when the time is right.
October 7, 2010, 0:08
manfred, take an xp for that comment. Lol
Voted axlerowes
October 7, 2010, 10:01
Sure blame the crickets! I can't see this excuse ever flying with a detailed theological and biological treatment of the the above mentioned cricket specimen.

But where the did Ziusts go? Did they get absorbed by other cultures? Did they turn into crickets?

Nice work

About the teaser
dusK till dawn

nothing hAS happened
Voted Aramax
November 30, 2012, 9:50
4.5,very,very nice!
Voted valadaar
January 5, 2015, 14:47
Finally got around to voting on this.

Interestingly enough, Mathom comes off as opposing change, and therefor Entropy.
Maybe he seeks to prevent the end of the world by stopping progress, for good or bad. By fighting the fight against the march of time, but failing that and only impeding progress.

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