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The Skull of Good King Vaclav

Good King Vaclav was the son of Stanislaus I, the penultimate king of Hemiboa. His grandfather, Boris I of Hemiboa, was converted to the Via Lucis by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Vaclav’s mother, Dragoríma, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief, but she was baptized into her husband’s faith at the time of her marriage. Vaclav’s paternal grandmother, Dulmila of Hemiboa, oversaw his education, Vaclav excelled as a scholar and at an early age was sent to the college at Weisblud.

When Vaclav was thirteen, Stanislaus, who had become king just a few years before, died and Dulima became regent, a move which enraged Dragoríma so much that she arranged to have Dulima murdered by assassins. Reportedly, these killers strangled Dulima with her veil. After this, Dragoríma assumed the role of regent, and immediately initiated measures against the Via Lucis. When Vaclav came of age, he wrested control of the government from his mother and countermanded the persecution of the Via Lucis. Vaclav had Dragoríma exiled, and then went on to put down a major rebellion led by Duke Mouřik, one of his wicked mother’s paramours.

Eleven years into Vaclav’s reign, a group of nobles allied with Vaclav’s younger brother, Boreslav, plotted to kill Vaclav. Boreslav invited Vaclav to the celebrate a holy day with a feast. Three of Boreslav’s lackeys attacked Vaclav during dinner, stabbing the young king several times before Boreslav ran Vaclav through with a lance. The kingdom fell into civil war shortly after Vaclav’s murder. Even now, Hemiboa remains fractured and unstable.

Vaclav was widely hailed as a martyr saint almost immediately after his death. Although Boreslav tried to dispose of the body in the wilderness, followers loyal to Vaclav retrieved the corpse and hurried into a Weisblud, which has since become the center of Vaclav’s cult. Vaclav’s skull ranks chief among the saint’s relics. For decades, it was kept under guard in Weisblud’s cathedral, but just a few years ago thieves stole it. Vaclav’s skull remains missing to this day.

All manner of stories surround the lost relic. Some claim descendants of Boreslav paid to have the skull taken, and that these evil scions use the relic in profane rituals. Other tales say the thieves were killed crossing into the Recondite Frontier and that the skull was lost in a rain-swollen river. In and around Weisblud, the most common legend holds that the skull vanished when the thieves left the city with it. Angels took the skull up into the mountains above Weisblud, hiding it in a cave. When a time of great evil befalls the city, Vaclav himself will descend from Heaven, take up his skull, and lead an army of the righteous dead to reunify Hemiboa and place a rightful heir on the throne.

In the hands of a faithful cleric of the Via Lucis, the Skull of Good King Vaclav acts as a bronze horn of Valhalla. Evil characters who so much as touch the skull lose 1 full experience level, dropping to the lowest possible number of experience points to hold the level. If the evil character is a cleric, he must also atone in an appropriate manner; until then, he cannot cast cleric spells higher than 1st level. The Skull is rumored to have other powers as well, which may be chosen from Artifacts and Relics Powers/Effects Tables (see pages 162-164, Dungeon Masters Guide). The Skull of Good King Vaclav reportedly has these powers/effects: Minor Benign Powers x2, Major Benign Powers x1, Minor Malevolent Effects x2, Major Malevolent Effects x1, and Prime Powers x1.

April 26th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Yozuvchi of the Endless Tales

Nestled near the center of New Motor City stands the library of Yozuvchi of the Endless Tales. Yozzie, as she is called by the locals, is a mutant human gifted with great longevity, intelligence, and a bizarre mutation. Rumors say that Yozzie has lived for centuries, and that she spent much of her time traveling the world, seeking and finding the knowledge of the Ancients.

Whatever the truth of these rumors, Yozzie’s knowledge cannot be doubted. She understands many technological artifacts, and her advice to New Motor City’s rulers has proven invaluable in improving the quality of life for the city’s residents. New hybrids of grain and farming methods help ensure that few go hungry even in the leanest of times. Her work on the city’s water purification systems has likewise been a boon to all. In her position as Prime Educator, Yozzie oversees schools as well as New Motor City’s library.

Yozzie appears very much like a human woman in late middle age, but she stands a mere 20 inches high, or so it appears. In truth, Yozzie is a woman of average height, but a strange spatial displacement effect causes her to be 30 feet away from objects that can touch her even when she is really only an arm’s length or so away from the object. What’s more, this displacement effect does not affect Yozzie. This means that Yozzie can be close enough to slap you but too far away from you to hit her even with a polearm.

Not that Yozzie worries about being able to attack enemies. She is very nearly revered throughout New Motor City. She has repaired and reprogrammed two assault bots called Bric and Brac. These formidable machines serve as Yozzie’s guards. Yozzie also carries a stun baton. If she’s expecting trouble, she’ll be wearing ballistic nylon armor.

No. Enc.: 1 (unique)
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120′ (40′)
Armor Class: 9 or 5
Hit Dice: 8 (36 hit points)
Attacks: 1
Damage: Weapon type
Save: L9
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 2,560

Mutations: Intellectual Affinity (Tinkerer), Regenerative Capability, Quick Mind, Unique (Paradoxical Spatial Displacement, Slow Aging)

April 25th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Grand Temple of Oevrumines

Oevrumines, the brutal Lord of Mazes, enjoys public worship in only one place in the known world, namely the accursed island kingdom of Kríti, whose corsairs prowl the seas, raiding coastal communities, attacking ships, and collecting tribute from vassals. The Grand Temple of Oevrumines sits atop the Kalokairinos, a broad and low hill that gently rises some 85 yards above the surrounding countryside.

The complex is a maze of halls and chambers staffed by a minotaurs, minotaur shamans, and dozens of slaves whose lives count for nothing to their wicked overlords. The beautiful and cruel Pasiphaë, immortal consort of Oevrumines, rules Kríti. She is the high priestess of the Lord of Mazes, and lurid tales of her cruelty and lust have terrified listeners for generations.

Those captured by the corsairs most often die so that their pain, fear, and blood can propitiate Oevrumines. These victims most often die during savage bloodsports held in the Central Court. Unarmed and unarmored, the sacrifices face fierce bulls or minotaur soldiers. Other victims are tossed into the vast, multi-level maze that twists and turns within Kalokairinos. Minotaurs and even infernal beasts prowl those subterranean corridors.

Rumor has it that the corridors and portals of the Grand Temple shift constantly, which is why no slave has ever escaped from the complex. Of course, the minotaurs and Pasiphaë have no trouble navigating the Temple’s halls and chambers. It is said that even divination magic is of no avail within the Temple, for such spells and items always yield deceptive results unless Oevrumines wishes otherwise.

Most inhabitants of Kríti live debased and fearful lives, tilling the land and fishing the coasts. The corsairs occupy positions of privilege, but the minotaurs of Kríti rank higher than all save Pasiphaë herself.

Minotaur Shamans: Treat as normal minotaurs, but add spellcasting ability equal to a 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-level Cleric. Increase Challenge Level/XP to 7/600. For more exceptional shamans, increase Hit Dice and perhaps add a special magical ability or two.

Pasiphaë: HD 12+12; hp 66; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 melee weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 3; AL C; CL/XP 18/3,800; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to paralysis and poison, magic resistance 50%, never gets lost in labyrinths, spells (equal to 12th-level Cleric)

Nota Bene: If you click on either of the first two pictures above, the image will embiggen for greater detail.

April 23rd, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Nanny Death

For the past several months, about every other Saturday we’ve been playing Fate Accelerated. One of the nifty (if not the niftiest) thing about Fate Accelerated is that one can make up just about anything for use as a character. For example, let’s meet Nanny Death and her hell toddlers.

Nanny Death is an undead monster who disguises itself as a kindly woman, usually somewhat elderly and genteel. She infiltrates some unsuspecting family, taking great care of the children, earning everyone’s trust and even their love. Then, one evening after dinner, Nanny Death reveals her true nature, unleashes a pack of hell toddlers, and revels in a night of terror and bloodshed.

Nanny Death
“Stop screaming and eat your spiders.”

High Concept: Skull-Faced Nanny of the Damned

Trouble: Maternal Instincts

Other Aspects: Excellent References, I’m Already Dead, Necromantic Baked Goods

Approaches:: Careful – Strong (+3), Clever – Average (+1), Flashy – Mediocre (+0), Forceful – Average (+1), Quick – Fair (+2), Sneaky – Fair (+2)

Stunts:
* Face of Fear: Because I Embody Death, I gain a +2 to Flashily create an advantage or overcome an obstacle by invoking feelings of fear.

* No Place Like Home: Because I am Strongest in My Lair, I gain a +2 to Forcefully attack when I am at home.

* Reassuring Presence: Because I can Appear Harmless, I gain a +2 to create an advantage or overcome an obstacle when I Carefully disguise myself.

Pack of Hell Toddlers
Undead Flesh Eaters
Skilled (+2) At: Evading detection, playing horrifying games, tearing through flesh
Bad (-2) At: Acting in the presence of holy objects
Stress: Two boxes (3 hell toddlers per box)

April 22nd, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Shadows, Benign and Deadly

In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that through God’s grace even the “touch” of Peter’s shadow could heal the sick. Since so many fantasy RPG spells clearly draw at least some inspiration from Jewish and Christian scriptures, why not one more?

Petrine Umbra

Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came his shadow at the least might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. (Acts 5:15)

Spell Level: Cleric, 3rd Level
Range: See below
Duration: 10 minutes

By means of this spell, the Cleric transforms his shadow into a conduit for divine power. For the duration of the spell, the Cleric may use the “touch” of his shadow to transmit spells with a range of touch. In low-light conditions, such as provided by candle light, the Cleric’s shadow has a range of 15 feet. In full daylight, this range increases to 45 feet. This spell requires a light source sufficient for the Cleric to cast a shadow in order to function.

*

I’ve been watching The X-Files on Netflix. I watched the series when it first aired. Currently, I’m somewhere in season two at the moment. Some of the episodes don’t hold up well. A few of the stories are little too pat or else a little too confused. For example, season two’s “The Calusari” is kind of a hot mess. Is it a low-rent riff on The Exorcist? Is it an insult aimed at immigrants?

But enough commentary. Let’s snatch up Tony Shaloub and turn him into a creature for Mutant Future:

Shadow Killer

A shadow killer is a strain of mutant human with some most unusual abilities. In most respects, a shadow killer appears to be a Pure Human. Sure, a shadow killer’s demeanor reflects a combination of agitation and exhaustion, and its flesh looks sallow and glistens with what appears to be the sheen of sweat, but a Pure Human who has endured a period of illness and stress might exhibit the same signs. What makes these solitary mutants dangerous are their shadows, which are semi-sentient projections of destructive “dark radiation”.

Many shadow killers exhibit behaviors contrary to their ominous name. They are not killers, but instead are often lonely creatures who think of themselves as cursed by their mutations to always been on the outside looking in. They cannot really take part in society because of the lethality of their shadows, but they still long for some contact with other sentient creatures. Of course, some shadow killers seem to revel in their destructive powers, and it is these individuals that have given shadow killers their fearsome reputation.

In combat, a shadow killer attacks with whatever weapons it has on hand. Also, each round, its semi-sentient shadow is 50% likely to attack a random target within 30 feet. The shadow stretches across the ground, along walls, and so forth in order to reach its target. A successful attack by the shadow inflicts damage as exposure to radiation equal to class 1d6+4 (roll for each attack). A shadow killer can not always control its shadow. If the shadow killer has not killed a creature with its shadow in the past hour, the shadow is 50% likely to attack any creature than approaches within range regardless of the shadow killer’s wishes.

Diffused light or total darkness that negates shadows prevents a shadow killer’s most dangerous, unpredictable attack from functioning.

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Any
Movement: 120′ (40′)
Armor Class: Armor type
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 1 (50% for 2)
Damage: Weapon type/radiation class 1d6+4
Save: L10
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XII
XP: 2,400

Mutations: Ultraviolet Vision, Unique (Semi-Sentient Shadow)

April 8th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »