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Rating: 4.1111
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ID: 7763


March 8, 2014, 2:56 pm

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Gravediggers' Legacy


A short tale about a shovel, a spade, and two trowels

They started out as trench-diggers and quarry-men, their names forgotten to time, and ended their lives as grave-diggers. Not all tales are of wizards and knights.

The few tomes that mention the pair do so sparingly, and none tell an identical story.

Posthumously in print, they were dubbed Ezra and Grymes, for reasons unknown. Alas, their names are unimportant.

As young men, the pair were conscripted into service to join the armies traveling to distant desert lands in the war against the encroaching enemies of the faith. These turbulent times were known as the Half-Century Wars, and more men died during those fifty, bloody years than could be counted by historians.

But two friends both escaped before long, and lacking ambition or skills of any kind took to digging trenches and hammering at quarries for little coin and even less dignity. But they didn't care, anything was better than dying on the battlefields, with a spear through the throat, or an arrow through the bladder.

To spend much time writing on the next few decades in their lives is unnecessary. Suffice it to say, the pair continued digging, soon switching to graves and cemeteries, as their milieu. Corpses were returning by the wagon loads from the Half-Century Wars, and diggers were kept busy in those days. It was during these times in fact, that another macabre legend arose, that of the Yird-Swine, but that is a different tale.

Returning to Ezra and Grymes, it was one stark, late winter's day, when they found themselves digging yet more graves along the edges of the long-abandoned grounds of some overgrown, heathen temple-lodge.

Here the pair finally met their maker, when they disturbed the burial ground of an ancient undead sorcerer named Kodomon Longtalons inadvertently. The ghoulish mage arose to smite the interlopers, and it is said made short work of them, by animating their shovel, spade, and trowels against them. The pair's own tools, beat them mercilessly, some might say ironically, to bloody pulps.

Satisfied, Kodoman Longtalons sank once more into the earth, to await the proper time for his re-emergence.

But so much had the lich's power grown over the centuries of entombment as he slumbered, that his single act of magic persevered, and thus the shovel, the spade, and the two hand-trowels of the gravediggers remain animated to this day, centuries later, and some say, that the instruments even gained a rudimentary sentience of the malevolent variety.

And so the legend was born. As to where the four tools "floated off" to next is unknown, but years later there are still rumors and whispers circulating amidst the folk who live above the countless grave sites of the those fallen and buried during the Half-Century Wars.

Currently the shovel, spade, and twin trowels are said to "inhabit" a vast, nearly forgotten cemetery on the bawn of Martyr's Wood, but the tools have been known to "travel", usually from cemetery to cemetery, always on the lookout for unwary victims.

The tools spend their days either in an idle torpor or occasionally digging, pecking, and rummaging in the moist earth, as if mimicking their past jobs, absent-mindedly. Due to Kodomon's vile magic however, they wait for only one thing. Someone alive to come along, so they can slay and bury. The tools sense any and all "life" within one hundred feet of them, but only humans and humanoids stir their blood-thirsty passions.

Wives warn their husbands to avoid all cemeteries when stumbling home drunk from the taverns at night, and for good reason. But alas, drunkards will be drunkards, so the gravediggers' tools manage to nail the occasional victim who happens to wander too close to their eerie domain.

In combat the four implements work in perfect unison. The spade flies quickly through the air attempting to bash any unsuspecting trespassers, across the face and head, often at least fracturing a skull. The shovel meanwhile will attempt to drive its rusty metal head into the torso, hopefully puncturing a lung or another organ. The trowels make coordinated stabbing attacks, attempting to bleed out a victim, like fattened dirks.

Dispelling the magic that keeps the tools animate and semi-sentient is nearly impossible, as Kodomon's might surpasses that of most modern-day wizards, so the tools are quite difficult to repel or "defeat." Especially if one doesn't happen to be a great wizard or mighty warrior in the first place, or if one is simply drunk and staggering home along a short-cut through the bone-yard, or even more tragically, if one is someone who just happens to be visiting the grave of a loved one.

After slaying any given "foe", the tools get to work on a proper burial, as is their nature. The spade excavates, the shovel digs, and the trowels poke at, and then smooth over, the ground they work over. This happens quickly and efficiently. After seven minutes, no trace of anything that transpired remains. Just one more unmarked grave among the many. Sometimes the victim is not quite dead when buried. The tools have no prejudices against burying victims alive.

It is not known how long the gravediggers' tools will remain in one bone-yard or cemetery before moving on to another. Perhaps it depends on the number of passing victims or lack thereof. How they traverse the lands without being noticed by many is also unknown. One theory states they fly by night, another claims they "disguise" themselves as ordinary shovel, spade, and trowels, and have witless people transport them to and fro.

Plothook? The PC(s) have picked the wrong cemetery tonight to do whatever it is they have set out to do. Besides whatever else the GM has planned, the shovel, spade, and trowels animate and swoop in on silent, invisible wings, attempting to bash the PC(s) into oblivion. Then bury them neatly and snug.

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

Voted Stork
March 8, 2014, 10:48
Quote ".....or an arrow through the bladder."

I love that!
Voted Cheka Man
March 8, 2014, 15:07
You don't use these tools, these tools use you. 5/5
Voted axlerowes
March 8, 2014, 17:30

I know when to call spade a spade.

Please don't think I am troweling here.... But from the description of their animation and origin it sounds like they might seek to stop diggers, so undead mages or other ground dwelling super beings won't be disturbed. These could be funny antagonists for miners and grave diggers.

March 8, 2014, 17:41

Aaarg, I wish I'd thought of that! They kill diggers, that's brilliant! And miners makes sense too. I may have to add that. I'm rusty.

Voted Silveressa
March 8, 2014, 17:37
With a little adjustment these cursed tools would work well in a Supernatural campaign, especially with the creator being part of a follow up adventure.

A solid 4/5 with an extra .5 for having immediate use to me in my gaming endeavors!
Voted Gossamer
March 9, 2014, 8:14
So this was why you asked for names of gravediggers. :)

First, I had to double check what trowels were. I was right, but there remains some uncertainty. Why does a grave digger need a trowel? To flatten the earth? To lay the brickwork in a mausoleum? That could be kinda fun, getting trapped in a mausoleum by terms of knocked unconscious and walled in. It just seems like they're going against their nature by just turning into stabby things.
March 9, 2014, 15:22

yep, yep, you and axle are right! Will edit this to change from stabby, stabby, bash.

Voted valadaar
March 10, 2014, 12:14
Nifty - this could be a very interesting encounter to add when pcs are hunting undead. Little would they suspect this added complication.

Voted Dozus
March 11, 2014, 16:16
Sentient shovel sub is a go! I always like animated objects that do their own thing, and this one has a nice background.

It would be interesting if instead of or in addition to burying folk, they dug them up. You go into a cemetery one morning to find all the coffins uncovered, with no trace of the perpetrators.
Voted Scrasamax
March 18, 2014, 1:56
Interesting, and it makes me think of the older Dungeons and Dragons stuff, and that somewhere there is going to be a necromancer/gravedigger who will figure out how to master these four items and end up as the Gravelord with his dancing shovel and flying assassin's trowels.
Voted Longspeak
October 14, 2014, 19:55
Man, I really DIG this-- hmmm... no.

Man, those SPADES sure are aces-- hrm.... no quite.

Okay, I tried to be clever but I guess it's time to throw in the trowel.

Well-presented, engaging, darkly humorous. 4.5 and my HOH of the day.


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: DaWergyling

Other improvisational weapons/tools:
Icicles are useful as daggers,
Bag Of Holding filled with copper pieces used by chucking the contents at foes, (by strolen)
sleeves make useful garrotes. Ya can't cut anyone's neck, but you sure can choke 'em!
Flaming Logs make great clubs, (any Barbarians out there?)
and Bee hives are very effective when thrown at a mob of enemies. :-)

Ideas  ( Items ) | December 15, 2002 | View | UpVote 0xp

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