Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God of the Earth

Need to rewrite my Albion favor tables and I'm dreading it. Messing around with Delving Deeper, a Original Dungeons and Dragons clone instead.

OK, so:
  • Type V has all these interesting(ish?) material components and then immediately handwaves most of it away with arcane focuses and what have you (though I like the idea of, say, an imprisoned wizard with a confiscated wand grubbing around for bat shit so they can break out of jail with some righteous Fireballs). 
  • I go back and forth on spell slots and spell preparation. I don't actually don't mind them, but explaining them to players leaves me cold.
  • Are you reading Kill Six Billion Demons? You should be reading Kill Six Billion Demons. Take a look at (link leads to medium-grade spoilers) this. The six-armed blue demon lady who is so clearly a magic-user is just loaded with stuff. A doll, a book on a chain, a mask-face, glasses, a weird popcorn bottle necklace, a pair of yellow sunglasses, a humungous bag of just stuff, plus whatever she has secreted about her person. I like that.
  • I love this encumbrance system
  • I feel exactly, perfectly neutral about wizards wearing armor, but explaining equipment restrictions is work, so I ignore them.
This all converges on wizards. So how about magic-users have no limit on the number or level of spells they can know. They can cast each spell they know once, and must rest before they can recover usage of a cast spell. Each spell requires a material component, which is not consumed in the casting. A spell's power correlates with how burdensome and rare a component is; Magic Missile only requires a want capped with flint, while Time Stop requires a three-foot tall lead hourglass inlaid with gold. All components take up a minimum of 1 encumbrance slot. So a magic-user can wear armor, but it cuts into the number of components they can haul around. Plus they are ladened with occult accruements. 

  • Animal Growth: a head-sized mass of crystallized pituitary fluid, harvested from a cursed beast, such as a werewolf or dire animal.
  • Animate Dead: a complete human skeleton. Does not have to be in one piece; some necromancers grind it to dust and keep it in a sack, while others strap the bones to their body.
  • Charm Person: a book with fine vellum pages, bound with red silk thread. Casting the spell requires writing the name of the target (or a description of them) in the book. 
  • Comprehend Languages: a pair of glasses tinted blue with cobalt; the caster must look through them for the spell to work
  • Darkness: a black velvet hood. The magic-user momentarily pulls it over their own eyes to cast the spell.
  • Knock: a silver skeleton key, roughly the size and weight of a longsword
  • Fireball: a fire giant's ulna (roughly the size of a quarterstaff)
  • Fly: a sack of crow feathers (about 100 birds' worth) that insinuate themselves into the flesh of the caster when they are under the effect of the spell
  • invisibility: a cloak woven from human hair; the caster must be wearing it for the spell to work
  • Magic Missile: an oak wand capped with flint; the caster must point the wand at their target
  • Light: a fist-sized silver sigil depicting an eye; the caster must turn its gaze towards the target
  • Shield: a small actual shield of hammered tin depicting a pentacle
  • Slaying Spell: an iron bell, at least three feet tall, inscribed with open eyes and forged in a graveyard. The caster must ring it for the spell to work.
  • Sleep: a long-handled silver bell, about the size of a dagger. It must be rung for the spell to work.
  • Water Breathing: a whole fish, often mummified or suspended in formaldehyde to prevent it from rotting into uselessness 
  • Web: a giant spider (at least the size of a terrier), usually dead for the sake of convenience. 

Anywhere, here's the skeleton of a open-air-dungeon-unless-it's-a-point-crawl I'll be maybe running this maybe filed down version of OD&D in.

The town of Braquefort sits at the foot of a mountain (its name is taboo). A decade ago, the Ecclesium's holy knights succeeded in exorcising (i.e. killing) Cybele, the goddess who lived on its peak, and extirpating her cult from the town itself. However, starting a year ago, a beast has begun coming down from the mountain, seizing livestock and ripping apart anyone who stands in its way. This has been accompanied by a sudden increase in fertility--the farms are yielding an unnaturally large harvest, the surviving livestock grow to prodigious size, and the mountain itself teems with dangerous life. The Ecclesium believes that some of the Braquefort villagers have begun making sacrifices to the creature, and are willing to pay the party generously if they bring back its head.

  • overripe fruit
  • rotting plants
  • rotting meat
  • animal musk
  • haze of flies
  • swarms of bloated rabbits scrambling over the corpses of their fellows
  • tumorous fruit hanging heavy on the branch
  • handprints in solid stone, haloed with fractures
1-2. Wolf (1d6)
3-4. Cougar (1d6)
5-6. Serpent (1d6)
7-8. Die-off
9. Artesse, last shaman of the mountain
10. Sacrifice-bearers (2d6)
11. Vigilant Benbraches
12. God of the Earth

Statistics as Hill Giant. Cannot surprise enemies.
He stands as tall as two men, filthy, naked, covered in matted hair, and when you first see him, he will be doing something appalling like grinding the hind legs off of a screaming goat with his blocky white teeth or gouging obscene pictures into stone with his fingertips. He smells, and smells bad, and it is awful and awesome in the old religious sense, a profound glandular stench that puts animals in heat and stirs plants into frantic growth.
     The God of the Earth is the orphaned son of Cybele. He is a divine feral child and cannot speak, though he instinctively understands Numen, the language of gods and spirits. The presence of his dead mother's corpse-tree on the mountain drives him to rage and despair, though he can be appeased for a time with a meal of livestock. He will attack and consume anyone without such propitiations. His heart is a god-seed, and will sprout into a new divinity if planted and tended.

Statistics as dire wolf, cave bear, or giant snake. Can eat their HD in corpses before they choke to death.
The predators of the mountain have grown enormous and corpulent, maddened by the buzzing of insects and the reek of dead flesh and the God's musk. They attack in numbers, and will devour defeated prey until it kills them.
When passing by a die-off, make a DC 12 Constitution save or acquire the Poisoned condition. Those afflicted can make another save at the end of every long rest to recover.
Under the God's influence, the lesser beasts of the mountain live and die like mayflies, generations of rats and rock hares passing over the course of a week. They are born in massive litters and subsist on the endlessly growing plants and bloated fruit of the mountain. Their thousands of corpses have made fertile ground for disease and insects.

statistics as a 5th level magic user
Artesse is an elf of the old school: lambent red eyes and filed canines, deep black tattoos delineating strange geometries, emaciated body scored with scars. He is the oldest being on the mountain, older even than the God of the Earth. He was the high priest of Cybele when she lived, and he wants nothing more than to return the mountain to the way it was under her reign. To do that, he must acquire the divine seed in the God of the Earth's heart and use to grow a new god, this one raised under his careful tutelage rather than the wind and wolves.
     Artesse hates the Ecclesium. They killed his goddess and drove him away from his holy ground, leaving the infant God of the Earth to grow mad in its solitude. However, he is perfectly willing to negotiate with the party--he will reward them with a scroll of Speak with Animals if they provide him with the God's heart, and is even willing to let them take the God's head back to the Ecclesium to prove they killed him, with the understanding they will keep Artesse's presence a secret.
     The shaman can cast Invisibility, Animate Reptiles, Plant Growth, and Create Food and Water in addition to any other spells you see fit.

Statistics as Bandit
Villagers from Braquefort desperate enough to risk the censure of the Ecclesium and dangers of the mountain. They are armed and each carries a squirming bag. Each contains a contains goat, with which the villagers hope to appease the God of the Earth. They will be hostile to anyone they come across--as far as they know, the only other people on the mountain are servants of the Ecclesium. If they are cornered, the villagers will release their goat, attracting the attention of mountain predators or the God himself.

Statistics as a 5th level Fighter; wears chain and wields a longsword
Vigilant Benbraches believes in sanitation and traffic laws as much as he believes in God, and he really believes in God. Even in the warped wilds of the mountaintop, he polishes his armor, shaves daily, and cooks nutritionally complete meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This may indicate a man out of his depth, but Vigilant Benbraches has survived thus far on the mountain by his talent for spectacular acts of violence. He was in the area when the God of the Earth began attacking Braquefort, and climbed the mountain to deal kill the God without waiting for further instruction from the Ecclesium. If encountered, he will be polite and helpful if the party is working for the Ecclesium, and wordlessly hostile if they are not. Should their allegiance be uncertain, he will insist on escorting them off the mountain, forcibly if necessary.
  Benbraches carries the blessed sword Galconda. None of the wounds it inflicts bleed, and the Ecclesium teaches that anyone killed by its blade are delivered unto the Heavens, redeemed in their final moments. Benbraches finds both of these characteristics pleasingly tidy.

The most difficult to traverse part of the mountain: a 500 foot slope of scree and loose rock. Climbing checks without equipment are at disadvantage, and all climbers move half their normal rate. Failure sends the climber tumbling down the slope, taking d6 damage per 100 feet. Smart parties will lure the God of the Earth here.

A house built on the limbs of a great tree. Everything is covered with a poisonous powder, which causes anyone who comes in contact with it to hemorrhage from all orifices (DC 15 Constitution save or d6 damage/hour. Victim can make an additional save at the end of each short rest), because Artesse is not stupid and knows that the Ecclesium wants him dead.
     His actual home is underneath the tree, accessible from a small hole between the tree's roots. It is underground, reasonably warm and dry. A locked stone casket contains a scroll of Speak with Animals. A random philtre and a lesser ester sit on a crude table. Artesse also keeps his Gallows Prophet here. It is a four-foot tall mummified corpse, proportioned like an adult, with a noose tried around its neck. If strung up on a gallows or tree, it can Detect Magic on everything in a 13 mile radius and report the results back to its owner. It can also make Arcana checks with a +5 bonus. The Ecclesium will want it burned.

70% chance the God is here when the party enters. Roll on the encounter table as normal.
 when the party enters. Filled with bones, rotting viscera, and piles of shit. Scattered beneath the mess are 10d100 copper pieces worth of jewelry, the former possessions of the God's many victims. There are d6 Rare ingredients of the same type here, as well. Major structural damage to the back of the save will open up vents of toxic vapor, which inflict the Poisoned condition on anyone who breathes them. After d6 Rounds of direct exposure, the sufferer must make a DC 10 Constitution save or be paralyzed until removed from the gas cloud. 
     The God's smell/influence is overpowering here; animals become hostile to their masters, and intelligence creatures must make a DC 10 Wisdom save or be frightened of the God for a round. They must make the save every round they are in the cave.

50% chance the God is here when the party arrives. Roll on the encounter table as normal.
A large, dead oak on the edge of a cliff face. Everything here is dead and withered, and the animals avoid this place. If the God is here, he will be some distance from the tree, screaming, weeping, and throwing stones at it. He will not come closer unless provoked by someone near the tree.
     The tree can be safely destroyed by harvesting the Grand Poison ester inside of it. This turns the tree to dust. Otherwise, harming the tree releases sprays of poisonous ichor (all within 10 feet of the tree must make a DC 12 Dexterity save or take d6 poison damage). This ichor deals double damage to the God of the Earth.

  • If the party kills the God of the Earth, all vegetation on and around the mountain will wither and all soil nearby will turn to dust without his influence within months. This will end Braquefort as a habitable town. The Ecclesium will reward the party and blame the blight on the God's curse.
  • If the party destroys Cybele's tree, the God of the Earth will become less violent. The mountain will become a verdant, wild place: still dangerous, but without the riot of telluric forces warping flora and fauna. The villagers will continue to propitiate the God, and the Ecclesium will send inquisitors to destroy the heresy, investigate the party's failure, and kill the God of the Earth for good.
  • If the party kills the God of the Earth and gives the god-seed to Artesse (or plants it themselves), it will grow into another divinity. Artesse will raise it to be more circumspect that the God of the Earth, but it will be no friend to mankind. If the seed is planted and abandoned, it will grow into another beast like the God. If the party raises it, use your imagination. 

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