Monday, 30 January 2012


No. Enc.: 0 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2d8
Attacks: 1 (dagger)
Damage: 1d4
Save: M2
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: XIX

This macabre faerie tends animal graveyards, singing to the bones to ease their sorrow and grief.  She appears as a gaunt, pale woman with straw-coloured hair, angular features and sunken eyes.  Those defiling the boneyard are screamed at, a terrifying wail that causes fear (as the spell).  The ossuriad can merge with any exposed skull within 240'.  If she goes beyond 240' from her graveyard she dise in 1 turn.  Ossuriads carry a bone dagger of unusual sharpness and resilience equal to that of steel.  Ossuriads gain treasure from former grave robbers and adorn the graves and bones of those they protect.

Monday, 23 January 2012


No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1d8+1
Attacks: 1 (by weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or by weapon
Save: F1
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None

These undead appear as maimed zombies held together by broken armour and weapons embedded in them.  Animated by vengeful necromancers, they explode if reduced to zero hit points or are turned (but not destroyed).  This explosion causes 1d6 damage in a 10' radius (save vs. Death Magic to halve damage) and destroys the undead.  Those killed in a wartorn's explosion rise as wartorn in three nights unless the deceased is buried on holy ground or receives a bless spell.  Holy water damages them and stops them from exploding.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

inns & taverns: the devil-porter inn

The Devil-Porter Inn sits halfway up a market town's hill, astride an alley's entrance.  Locals passing by always smile at it's statue.  The wooden icon of a portly gap-toothed devil lugging sacks in peasant garb greets patrons.  Only the foolish would fear him.  Bristle-bearded, glass-eyed and five feet tall, his blunt inch-long horns are no threat.  Over the archway, the words 'The Devil-Porter Inn' are painted in immaculate white script.

The inn's wooden door opens on the right leg of the arch from the main street.  Within a rickety wooden stair creaks with each step.  At the top, a doorway opens into a bar-room bridging the arch, narrow yet well-appointed.  Carved wooden benches line the walls.  Before these are thick tables of oak and wrought iron decorated with laden vines and flowers.  Brass lanterns in the corner illuminate the room.  Often tables are mostly filled, encouraging patrons to mingle with regulars if they want seats.  This is normally an agreeable process.  The bar runs along the opposite wall with stairs behind it leading up and down.

A strong, pale ale sells the year round.  Winter brings a smooth dark ale with notes of caramel and salt that sells very quickly.  A fair red wine and a spiced piment (wine with honey and herbs) compliment the ales.  A limited but excellent selection of food is sold. A beef and onion stew with dumplings and pickled cabbage is served with black rye bread.  Pickled eggs and butter pies complete the menu.  While not courtly fare, it is substantial.

Marien, the landlady, is matronly, rotund, redolent of lavender and honey, her clogs drum the floor.  Staff are cheerful, competent locals of assorted ages.  All are clad in plain white chemise, dark breeches and soft leather boots with brass buckles.  This simple uniform is kept immaculate.  Marien's watchful eye keeps staff from lowering standards, service is cheerful, brisk and accommodating.  Good relationships with the watch keep criminals out.  Officials do not visit the Inn but hirelings often enjoy an ale and meal here.  Marien will sometimes treat them in return for news.

While the Devil-Porter Inn lacks accommodation, staff know where rooms may be rented locally at reasonable rates.  These are usually basic but safe and warm.  Though the staff have rooms, Marien doesn't brook guests.  Previous incidents with staff connected with gentry ensure this will never happen if Marien is here.  This is reciprocated by local nobility.

The Devil-Porter Inn lacks pretension.  This has harmed business - nobles and courtly types avoid the Inn, looking down upon it.  Patrons don't even seem to mind.  Yet some younger nobles are violating the agreement.  Brawls seldom happen but over-friendly visitors and nobles with a grudge have to be handled.  The Inn's lack of muscle can be a problem.  Those who help out are feted by Marien, who makes friends easily and looks after them.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

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Today sections of the Internet are going dark to protest the proposed enactment of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in US law.  This blog supports their protest but has no illusion about going dark for a day being more than adding a lone voice to the chorus of protest.

In addition, consider economic sanction against organisations endorsing both acts.  Refuse to purchase from these organisations.  Explain why you are protesting against these acts and their proponents.  Write to your local representatives and media.  Remember the customer has a voice and a choice.

"And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
-- Mario Savio

Monday, 16 January 2012


No. Enc.: 2d4 (3d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3d8
Attacks: 3 or 2 (claw/claw/bite or by weapon and bite)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d4 or by weapon/1d4
Save: F3
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: XXI

These hunched-over, hirsuite humanoids have ape-like muzzles, long, rawboned hands and dead black eyes.  Malicious mockeries of humans made by magical experiments, they band together to prey on the weak.  Narquodi have limited empathic senses, they understand the intent behind any spoken word.  This talent has seen them used as bodyguards by paranoid magic-users.  Narquodi respect, desire and slavishly obey forceful Chaotic women, especially spellcasters or those wielding obvious magic.  Narquodi like to arm themselves with large or heavy weapons aiming to maximise their offensive potential.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

damned city: scissaxa

Scissaxa lies south-east of Chantákia, the road bridges a dreary, ruin-choked fen.  The bridge is laboriously repaired by chained workgangs.  Mounted overseers wear perfect bone china masks and chainmail, armed with shortbow and spiked chain.  Below, the fen's denizens scavenge ruins for valuables.  Scissaxa cannibalises it's own ruins, sinking hulks raided for materials and wealth before they sink.  Dark steeples rise above patched walls and cracked domes.  About Scissaxa's perimeter, flying buttresses laden with catapult and scorpio watch for armies or scavenger mobs.  The northwestern Ochre Gate leads to the Chantákia road.  The western Hag Gate guards the road from the eastern pass in the hills of Lagelido.  The southern Canal Gate is no longer used.  The canal network was dammed up and fortified after incursions from nearby ruins massacred a neighbourhood.  The legacy of Scissaxa often returns to haunt it. 

Entry via either gate costs two silver per head, taken by the Scissaxan Guard.  Scissaxan Guards wear chainmail and coif; bear trident, shortbow, gladius and spiked buckler or lantern shield.  Lantern shields combine spiked buckler with spiked gauntlet and tiny visored lantern.  This last serves as a weapon of surprise.  A cunning mechanism quickly raises the visor, potentially dazzling foes in low-light conditions.  This also provides light for archers.  Tunnels beneath the walls hold weird monsters, ancient necropoli and lethal traps.  Too many fatalities prevent it being profitable yet whispers persist of infamous guilds holding shadowy courts.  As Scissaxa sinks, the tunnels become longer and more complex...

The Ochre Gate opens to Rubragmine, ochre walls and iron statues of city heroes adorn the narrow streets.  Chantákian influences are evident, yet muted.  Residents dress in sober monotones with ochre facepaint and patterned scarves adorned with marcasite on steel. Jewellers and smiths thrive in Rubragmine, working in bloodstone, hematite, jet, marcasite, gold and Chantákian steel.  Oroguidan mercenaries in burnished coin-mail protect traders.  These are factors for familial merchant houses, buying and selling goods or exchanging currency with 10% markup.  Traders sometimes cheat clients, ruining heavy investors.  Scissaxan law protects them unless a Bacino magistrate, Lamaturris lawyer or a district lord over-rules it.  Poorer families in Rubragmine breeds pigs in basements.  Serving to dispose of waste, they are efficiently butchered for meat and hide.  Abbatoir Walk is known for pig-breeding and butchering.  On fortified stone piles south-east of here is Arcemalis, citadel of Lord Menzomuscas, ruler of Scissaxa.  Always expanding or part-renovating, it's walls hold the largest garrison of Scissaxan Guards and the court of Menzomuscas.

Menzomuscas is an enigma, multiple assassinations have not slowed him, baroque intrigues precise as clockwork automata.  His sonorous voice and concise speech hooks your attention.  Everything else is hidden in black silk, gold and a youthful mask with jewelled compound eyes.  His spy networks are legendary.  The Scissaxan Guard seize assets and remove those attempting to defraud Lord Menzomuscas.  The court is the usual collection of sycophants and politicians, impertubable on the surface but underneath…  Courtiers wear golden fly pins with carnelian eyes.  Their ensembles have subtle weaves of bottle green (Prasinus), carnelian (Sardios), cool black (Domurana) or plum (Susino).  Each colour denotes an eminent trading family.  These families maintain their status, presently dependant on the continued goodwill and reign of Lord Menzomuscas.

The Hag Gate opens into Lamaturris.  Famed for it's dark spires, narrow alleys and cobbled thoroughfares crowded with people of all kinds.  Clerks, lawyers and physicks are respected trades here.  At night, upstanding citizens retire and the streets belong to beggars, gangs, whores and Scissaxan Guards.  Monsters with human faces mix with hags and goblins.  The former are feared, arising spontaneously among certain bloodlines. The latter are tolerated as rag-and-bone traders.  They ape Scissaxan dress and conduct with concealed weapons and satchels of papers, trinkets and tools.  Lamaturris street cant includes choice goblin patois phrases.  Tunnels skirt caves older than Scissaxa, within ancient terrors undead and unburied inexorably dig towards vibrations.  Unusually there are no temples or recognised priests.  Menzomuscas has outlawed religion, declaring believers foresworn to his reign and any allegiance to the city.  Itinerant prophets haunt certain street corners at night-time.

Seraustrum lies south of both, falling into disrepair.  A salt dome mined here yielded salt and sulphur for export by the south canal in exchange for jet and hematite.  As the waters dried, the deaths began. Over time, on each full moon murders have taken place, ruined corpses found with ghastly wounds.  Goblins claim giant worms and insectile horrors stalk the tunnels.  While it's true, it doesn't explain the dark-mantled figures or the corpses left in their wake.  Salt and sulphur production is greatly diminished.  Miners are leaving Seraustrum before they are slaughtered by whatever or whoever lurks under the canal.  Menzomuscas has interests in the sulphur mine.  The salt trade is fought over by the four courtly families and has interest from Chantákia's bankers.  Repeated Scissaxan Guard patrols have been fruitless.  While the trade has stopped, mines in the southern fens stockpile for when trade finally resumes.

Monday, 9 January 2012


No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6 (studded leather)
Hit Dice: 5d8
Attacks: 2 (gore, by weapon)
Damage: 2d4/by weapon
Save: C5
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XXII

These abhuman creatures with fiery eyes are what remnants of an order of clerics corrupted by a violent Chaotic entity.  Named for the pair of horns jutting from their forehead, they charge into melee wielding clerical weapons and goring with the horns on their head.  They can cast spells and use magic items as a 4th-level cleric (3 x 1st-level spells, 2x 2nd-lvl spells) but cannot turn undead.  Dicerdecan lairs are temples to Chaotic powers, the dicerdecans performing the duties of clerics eagerly.  Some clerics of Chaos will work with dicerdecans if they make an offering to the cleric.

Friday, 6 January 2012

inns & taverns: good, bad & evil

Another pub crawl just after New Year?  Well it's been a while since the last.  First there's The Tricorn Cow, a slightly expanded take on a lovely moorland tavern near the coast.  Then the new place, Tioso's Grill -a frontier tavern with all that implies, including a table of hirelings.  Finally Beklar's Wayside, a sinister tavern staffed by all kinds of miscreants with two new drugs and poisons.

Creative Commons, Share-alike, Non-Commercial as usual, have some fun with it. Also, if you're missing previous compilations, find them on the Downloads page as I've fixed the link for the second compilation. Not sure I can claim that as an achieved New Year resolution, still... Cheers!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

damned city: chantákia

Across the Fiumorte, the weeping ditches of Chantákia combines ancient tomb, fortress and strip mine. Once an independent city, Chantákia is a decadent district. It can be reached from Bacino by ferry, barque or skiff or southern roads from Scissaxa, Lagelido and Manescor. Yellow mud, rich in limonite clings to everything. Chantákia is famed for ochre, iron, copper, gold and jewels - bloodstone, carnelian, malachite and turquoise. Many Chantákians ochre their hair red or yellow, wearing red ochre to ward against magic. Viaducts cross the ditches in a concave web of roads and fortified tollgates. Chantákia is quarried into a three-mile wide irregular bowl of ten descending ditches. with a tumulus at it's heart. Atop this, a spiral path girded by walls and trenches leads to a castle. This is home to the Hammon. This bull-masked man has an ogre's appetites and strength, demanding tribute for sacrificial pyres. Nine mail-armoured minotaurs form the Hammon's bodyguard. His will is enforced by brutal soldiers or kakonychia. These soldiers wear breastplate, bat-winged helm and clawed gauntlets wielding trident, flail and steel shields. They enforce tolls and laws in that order. Each tollgate has a firepit underneath a hollow iron bull statue. The condemned are locked inside and fires fed until the bull glows red-hot. The bulls amplify and distort screams into bellowing. On midsummer and midwinter, this reverberates across Chantákia.

The Bacino ferry docks at Eisfora, a levee at the northwest edge. Semi-domesticated rats befriend anyone sharing food. Slaves march north on the Scaladuro, a mile-long descent for assessment then sale. The guarded slave trains move slowly. The second and third tiers suffer flooded sewers and cane toad infestations from turquoise mining. Typical miners are feverish bufotenin addicts, obsequious and reeking. Under the Scaladuro has the greatest yield, though the northeast yields turquoise and malachite. The fourth tier is a quarry for yellow clay, dug out by convicts in grueling conditions. Kilns on this tier make pottery and yellow ochre. The prison lies under a viaduct and garrison so the kakonychia abuse certain convicts without reprisal. The fifth tier is a massive market. Buyers can purchase armour, books, clothing, copper ingots, leather, malachite, ochre, pots, turquoise jewellry and weapons. Mercenaries from the Avernine seek work. The sixth tier has masons, potters, sculptors and kilns. Decorative tiles, carved bricks and statues from here are raised all over the city. This industry contrasts with the decrepit seventh tier. Here fugitives lie low among cane toads, played-out turquoise beds and serpents with human faces. The eighth tier is prone to subsidence. Most buildings lie ruined and empty but armourers to the east craft mail scarves weighted with steel. These scarves are prized by warriors.

The eastern part of Chantákia is known for mineral wealth. The first tier holds slave pens and overseers. These work on the second through fifth tiers mining and smelting iron, copper and gold. Blast furnaces of red brick spit fire and forge wrought iron balls called tostomas for sale. Feral cats haunt the smelters and hunt rats. The sixth tier houses miners and a market trading in copper and gold, tostomas and gems. The seventh tier holds gemsmiths and jewelers with locked vaults guarded by traps, owlbears and minotaurs. The eighth tier has merchant villas, bankers and moneychangers. While the Hamman rules, this part of Chantákia is heard by the city. Oroguidan mercenaries and catenisti are used to maintain security.

Western Chantákia is a poor relation. The top two tiers quarry for ochre and carnelian in brutal conditions while wealth flows south and east. The third tier houses slave pens and overseer quarters in narrow, fortified houses. Rioting in the pens is commonplace. The fourth tier is home to the Dioris, a caste of astrologers, sorcerors and seers dealing in omens, oracles and divination. Clad in gold two-faced masks they are feared. The Dioris foresaw the fall of Chantákia to the city's founders and the Hammon's tribute to Manescor. The fifth tier is a necropolis. Rich mausoleums face eastward and are tended by gravediggers and professional mourners under the eastern wall. The sixth tier houses groves of fig trees. Tended by locals, these yield figs, latex and bark sold to the seventh tier. The seventh tier is a slum of dyers, tanners and weavers. Buckram, fine leathers, ochre-red line and cloth-of-gold are produced for sale. Orphans usually become apprenticed here. At the eighth tier is a coliseum. The temples of the ninth tier sponsor athletic games to keep rivalries from turning into riots. Parades to the coliseum are rowdy affairs. Streets turn out armed to 'show respect for the athletes' and perhaps to deter sectarian violence.

Southern Chantákia is part-owned by Manescor under jurisdiction of Lady Aureglas, former chatelaine of Gelusanguis. This annoys most Chantákians but Aureglas has impressed the Hamman with equally fair and cruel judgements. Aureglas and Fiammera of Animardente regularly correspond in ciphers. The first tier routes traffic maximising tolls for Lagelido while reducing them for Manescor and Scissaxa. At crossroads, markets hawk goods. Behind these, tavernas and bordellos offer services. The second to fourth tiers mine and smelt iron. Smelters make tostomas for Manescor.  Leftover goethite is made into brown ochre. The fifth tier is ceded to Aureglas as tribute after an insurrection was quelled by her agents. She lives in a palatial central villa surrounded by gifts from artists, petitioners and hangers-on. The sixth tier, Bosambages, is a ghetto for minotaurs. Their devotion to the Hammon spurs rumours of breeding with humans, profane worship and other perversions. The seventh tier has a bloodstone mine on it's western edge, worked by Hamman loyalists and slaves. Aureglas has sent agents to test their loyalty. A tenth of output is sent to Manescor as tribute. The eighth tier is known for smithies - armourer, blacksmith, finesmith and weaponsmith toil over their wares. Chantákian smiths have numerous techniques to improve goods. All valued, some need black market activity, others need bloodshed at the beginning, middle or end.

Kykliero, the ninth tier, holds monasteries, temples and preceptories. Preachers, prophets and pilgrims fill the streets. Temple rivalries are usually channeled into athletic games in the western coliseum but violent outbreaks occur. Oroguidan and Avernine mercenaries profit from occasional work here. The Hamman threatens to run bulls through the temples 'to tame them' when violence occurs. Both he and Aureglas have agents here.

The bottom basin, Gyalilofo, houses the Hamman's court. Owning the city's biggest herd, he pays handsomely for cowsheds and cowherds to keep them safe. Strange drugs and fatal venoms are brewed by alchemists at his behest to fulfill bizarre whims. Owlbear farms with breeders and trainers have become lucrative. Eggs and young are bought and sold with owlbears trained and bred for diverse violent purposes. At the heart is the tumulus and fortress. Those living here attend court three times a year. Snubbing the court and the Hamman can be fatal.

Monday, 2 January 2012


No. Enc.: 1 (0)
Alignment: As creator
Movement: 10' (3')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2d8+2
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d3
Save: As creator (see below)
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None

The umbiliculous is a mystic creation brewed by magic-users.  A leathery 1' tall humanoid with the facial features of it's maker linked to them by an umbilical cord from their navels.   This cord extends up to 10' feet but is often wrapped around the magic-user's waist as the umbiliculous clings to it's maker or perches atop their shoulders.  Their mouths are filled with needle-like teeth. 

An umbiliculous confers benefits for a magic-user willing to make one.
  • If carrying the umbiliculous, the magic-user gains a +2 to saving throws versus magical effects.
  • It may babble once a day; casting a sleep spell within 120' which lasts for 2d4 turns.
  • Keen senses detect invisible within 20', reduce the magic-user's chance for surprise by 1 in 6. 
  • They provide a pair of small hands for the magic-user.  These can be used to wield a wand (as a magic-user) or to manipulate items up to 10' distance with a Strength of 4.
If the cord is cut, the umbiliculous dies instantly.  If the umbiliculous dies, the magic-user must make a save vs. paralysation or be stunned (-4 to hit, AC and saves) for the next hour.  If the magic-user is slain, the umbiliculous is unable to do anything and dies in 1d4 rounds wailing pitifully.  To brew an umbiliculous, a magic-user must donate a pint of blood, mix it with ochre, one fish head per level of the magic-user and red clay in a ritually-prepared leather sack (costing 1000gp) while casting sleep, detect invisible and mirror image. The sack may be re-used.
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