Sunday, 20 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: jotunfell

Frost Giants Attack by Jeff Fairbourn
The next piece of 3DPBMCSHMtm returns to Altorr and deals with the reaver giants of Jotunfell. Bards and faerie mock giantish slowness. Yet the warriors recall rocks smashing cavalry and shield-mates sundered by axes and do not laugh.  When the reavers of Jotunfell march, nobody is safe. More than one lordling ignores the hillfolk then finds his steading smashed and his serfs enslaved. The mountain passes are feared with good cause.

The four clans

Jotunfell is a glacial mountain pass surrounded by hills.  The Aerie of Jotunfell is a great castle commanding the pass.  The Skugga family of cloud giants hold the castle, forming the linchpin of an alliance of giants.  The Skugga banner is a black cloud on azure with two silver teardrops.  The frost giants impale a cave bear skull on a longspear.  The cyclops banner is a golden one-eyed ram skull with curved horns on black field.  The hill giant standard is a great spear with three gilded dire wolf skulls pointing three different directions.

Every equinox, the Skugga invite the leaders and retinue to Jotunfell to discuss events this season.   Cautious acceptance is best recommended.  The giants know not to offend the Skugga.  Giants fall badly from great heights.  The Skugga play favourites between hill giant and cyclops as the frost giants enjoy the show. Between such games of state, raids are plotted.  Here the Skugga display tactical acumen and diplomatic skill in getting the giants to agree.

The hills have eyes

Cyclops and hill giant clans violently contested claims to the hills around Jotunfell before the Demonplague. Now the clans work together with occasional violence.  The ogre families who serve the hill giants enjoy opportunities for violence and torturing hill folk.  Their glacial cousins have stranger habits still.

Jotunfell hill giants are ravaging brutes that smash opponents with ogre and dire wolf allies.  Hurled rocks soften up cavalry or spellcasters.  As they advance they bellow dire threats to break the nerves of opponents and this often succeeds.  Then they charge, intent on breaking the bones.  Those taken as slaves are valued for their strength, either as disposable warriors or as labourers.  While hill giants demand the slaves breed, few do.

By contrast cyclops pick their battles.  They take full advantage of terrain and weather.  The large crossbow has versatility. Some bolts are tipped with black adder venom or dung.  Cyclops snipers watch for spellcasters and single them out.  If the foe are softened up, the greataxes come out. Few shield walls can withstand that.  The cyclops delight in slavery, valuing each of their thralls, feuding when a slave is stolen.

Both groups accept bribes from slavers or rogue merchants seeking audience and trade with the Skugga. Each group demands tolls independently of the other.  The Skugga rein in the hill giants by making messy examples of ogre allies of theirs.  Both groups salve their honour and the ogres get a reminder of who's really in charge.

Heart of ice, bloody hands

Frost giants dwell in the glacial crevasses of  Jotunfell.  Serdtsida Bluebeard wields boreal sorcery, leading the clan to reaving softer lands and slave taking.  The great winter wolf Gyar is his companion.  He is chieftain as the jarl was defeated in battle and carried off by the Skugga.  Serdtsida uses magic to deceive or destroy foes.  He thinks the jarl is dead and will brutalise any who suggest rescue attempts within earshot.

The other giants are savage warriors.  Serdtsida has grown brutal and alliance the Skugga has its rewards - this are good times.  Even eating human tastes better.When reaving the lower hills, they are terrifying.  They keep three ogres as scouts and spies among ogre allies of the hill giants.  Though few, they are well fed and equipped.  Relations with the cyclops, hill giants and ogres are cordial despite cannibalism and psychopathic shows of might.  Nobody interferes with slavers visiting the frost giants.  Though few, the frost giants are brutal enemies with poor impulse control and access to magic.  Even the wildest hill giant notices a trail of chewed bones and dismembered, half-eaten limbs.

Kadjila, the slave-handler is the clan's smith and carefully trades slaves and steel with the Skugga.  She hated the lecherous jarl, supporting Serdtsida staunchly.  Those too weak to survive are eaten by the giants or given to the ogres as pets. Kadjila's forge is kept by three ogrekin.  Each has a massive arm, stunted legs and enough smithcraft to make them very valuable.

Castle in the air

Dwelling in the Aerie is the Skugga, a family of cloud giants.  Though only five in number, each has a personal attack griffon and numerous slaves in attendance.  Peto, the family head is a brutal sorceror of Abyssal ancestry who plans to rule Altorr.  His remaining family are ordinary cloud giants.  Clad in finery, evil lives in their eyes and the cruelties they indulge upon their victims.

The Skugga united the giants by tactical acumen and shows of raw power crushing their opponents.  The Skugga view other giants in the alliance as allies rather than friends.Slavers make overtures to the Skugga with choice slaves, finery and treasures to warm the avaricious.  The Skugga now hold a debased court.
Their slaves indulge sadistic whims, terrified of being 'cast out' off walls or left for the harpies.  Slaves are kept for cooking, cleaning and craft.  The Skugga enjoy being pampered by a retinue while playing a harp or engaging in negotiations.

The Skugga enjoy harpysong, numerous harpies nest in the towers, taking odd slaves as mate and food. The nests hold small altars to Pazuzu, a demon lord accepting tributes of bloody fresh tongues. Yet their filth conceals greater horror. The frost giant jarl lies chained, naked and used by the harpies who took his tongue. Others have come before him.  The harpies still bring sacrifices who die faster.

Friday, 18 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: in the underworlds

This installment of 3DPBMCSHMtm deals with the dungeons of the three worlds.  There are places where travel between is possible.  These are often well-guarded.  For other dungeons, getting out is harder.

Dungeons in Altorr

Altorr's dungeons are mostly isolated affairs. The notable exceptions are dwarven holdfasts and the Great Riddle where connecting tunnels run far away. Dungeons in Altorr have purpose. Abandoned mines, barrows for warlords, death-traps for tyrants, druidic labyrinths or dungeons to trap demon or faerie.  These are just examples.

Barrows of the dead
These are typically spear-shaped.  A tunnel with the warlord's deeds and fallen allies leads to a diamond-shaped chamber.  Here the warlord and his grave goods rest.  If disturbed, a warlord rises as undead and seeks vengeance until destruction or goods are returned.

Druidic labyrinths
Natural caverns and grottos are adapted by some druids.  Some are formed into labyrinths by earth magic while others are naturally enigmatic and maze-like.  Apart from shelter, caves are home to numerous natural allies (bats, cave bears etc.) as well as safe storage.

Death-trap dungeons and jails of night.
Some dungeons are built to permanently solve political problems, combining oubliette with death-trap. Others are jails for demons and their cultists.  Still others are built to hold faeries or those who have angered the Court of Shade.  Those last two share less commonality than expected.  Guardians are typically monstrous with traps designed to kill intruders or the prisoners of the owners.

The Great Riddle
These labyrinthine caverns run the length of the forested hills and hold a gigantic bioluminescent fungus. They are located on Clune's southern border.  Used by demon and druid, the Great Riddle is dueling ground, initiatory labyrinth and exceedingly strange.  The Goblin Market regularly appears at entrances.  Those visiting the Great Riddle rarely come out unchanged.  The deepest caves of the Great Riddle are whispered to link to  The Crawler's bloody wake.

Under Bellotra

Bellotra is built upon ruins and decay.  Places not already sacked, burnt-out or colonised tend to a quiet place.  The Rotten Burgs have rat-runs of cellars and vaults.  The canals also have sections underground. These Undercanals combine canal and sewer with volcanic mud, magma flow, desperate refugee and hungry monster.

Extravagant folly 
Most dungeonesque structures in Bellotra have a legacy.  Mausoleums of ancient nobles and vaults for their treasures are well-known though often stories deceive.  These are often decorated by art and sculpture.  The extravagance of a permanent monument sits well with Bellotran taboos around death and oblivion.

Oh yes, there will be magic.  Spellsellers treat vaults as chances to showcase talents, building notoriety with ingenious traps or bizarre magics. Discretion can be a concern.  Some spellsellers take an extended sojourn after a commission to prevent regrettable cases of mistaken identity.  Others merely increase their fees.

Unusual construction materials
Elemental corrosion in Bellotra forces artisans to make lasting structures from elaborate materials and innovative methods.  The artisans decorated the usual materials further. Ceramic tiles, tinted metal panels and glass bricks have been found in the vaults and mausoleums.  Stone still provides the fundamental fabric. This is usually andesite or basalt (created by gate-induced vulcanism) or marble imported from the Elemental Plane of Earth.

Deadly para-elemental and quasi-elemental traps
After a denunciation of fire as passé by certain nobles, use of para- and quasi-elemental matter in traps escalated.  The resulting demand for special traps taxed imaginations. Early traps used super-cold, super-sharp ice.  Later traps drowned thieves in mud, choked victims with smoke or incinerated them in flowing magma.  The last required careful management.  The tombs over Lemizah's Jewel in the Undercanals are slowly sinking into a pool of magma.  Blinding ash clouds burn and choke unauthorised personnel.  Brine pits dessicate air and toughen zombies within.  Exploding geodes, jets of steam and prismatic rays kill.   Lightning traps used deep underground do not invoke the aurora vortex on the surface.  Exact depths are unknown though. Magical duststorms suffocate unlucky thieves and cause others to be lost, half-blind and coughing.

The known world of Carcetus

When all you know is underground the world shifts. Carcetusian communities are close-knit, battling aberrations, oozes, slavers and giant vermin to survive. Light and water are life.  Carcetus is a pragmatic honeycomb of constructed and natural tunnels, taking advantage of changes in geology.  Dwarves take stonecraft further than most.  Magic solves many engineering problems.

Life in Carcetus rarely rises from war footing. Tunnels are fortified by bolt-holes, casemates, choke points and redoubts.  Traps are simple but effective.  Entry and exit tunnels are defended to prevent incursion. Water supplies and food stores are strongly defended.

Pervasive aberration influence.
The presence of aberrations shapes the tunnels of Carcetus.  Aboleth construct dams and shallow lakes using slaves.  Ettercap weave orbs of silk and sinew in three dimensions.  Naga congregate around shrines and desolate tunnels.  Otyughs lurk in cesspits and sinkholes.  Some have been adopted by communities.

Remembrance walls & crypts
Remembrance walls are etched with names of the fallen or bas-reliefs of faces scored into the rock.  These are traced by mourners in the dark.  Communities who revere Mordiggian or Saint-George construct simple crypts.  Carcetusians get quite  passionate about remembrance and history - both involve someone dying to reach this point.

Common items between the three worlds.

Travellers between worlds sometimes journey via dungeons.  There are commonalities though none are that safe.  Being among ghouls, travelling via gates or in the wake of a hungry god  is... interesting.

Crypts of Mordiggian and Saint-George
All worlds have crypts consecrated to the faiths of the Great Ghoul or the Pale Warrior.  Ghouls of Mordiggian tunnel for books, lore and food.  Their crypts hold surprises with lost magic and ancient secrets amid the chewed and cracked bones.  The tombs of Saint-George inter dreadful secrets among the bodies of dead warriors.  Both are perilous undertakings for adventurers.

Nidal's Tunnels
The dwarf Nidal knew refugees would come.  During the Demonplague in Altorr, he sought demonic gates and fortresses yet found tunnels linking all three worlds.  With allies in every world, he made great  maps. These maps are priceless, whispered to hold powerful magic and the secrets to great wealth as well.  His disappearance into the Tunnels has led to rumour of his being eaten by The Crawler.

The Crawler
The god of pain and hunger is known to all three worlds.  It's howling, bloodstained journey is heralded by purple worms.  The resulting swathe of destruction is followed by earthquakes and beasts from all the three worlds.  Chaos is left in it's wake.  The Crawler's hide is  studded with blades from hundreds who tried - and failed - to slay it.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: the hollow hills

Original image by
In this installment of 3DPBMCSHMtm, we head off to Altorr to talk faerie. The 'Fair Folk' play their inscrutable games of state.  Yet the Courts of Light and Shade are honoured by mortal king and commoner alike. Having helped cure the Demonplague they've earned it.  Yet these games have high stakes. They make heroes of ordinary people and paupers rich while breaking others on a wheel of fate and magic.

The Goblin Market

Most people deal with Faerie through the goblin market.  At dawn, the market opens under thickets and in caves.  At dusk, faegoblins grow bold and settle by river banks.  Pipe-music accompanies lilting song promising tempting wares.  Exquisite fruit, fine steeds and nonesuch jewels have lured many a customer into the market. Returning to the world, everything else seems drab. Visitors often begin pining until the market comes again. Some are so profoundly affected by this loss they waste away if denied the market's fruits.

Faegoblins are goblinkin with faerie ancestry.  Brilliant artisans, they are only rapacious in business deals. If a deal is spurned once the market appears, they get downright nasty about it.  Catcalls, threats and mob-handed brawls are known. Drawing steel will cause them to withdraw and seek help.

The Court of Light

To find the Court of Light, look eastward at dawn as fanfare announces the new day.  Then make an offering pleasing to the Court.  It rises from earth or water in stately ceremony.  Courtiers on white horses prance as samite palanquins blossom suddenly. Lords and ladies approach amid reverent hushes.  The Court enjoys hunting, sporting games and music.  The Court's justice is compassionate, if not always fair.

Pharisidhe resemble angular and graceful elves. Violet-eyed, smooth-skinned, of immaculate attire, and complection. Agile and beautiful, their Charisma bonus is added to Armour Class and saving throws.  Cold iron poisons them (save or take 1d4 Constitution damage) and they fear it greatly.  Their singing voices may fascinate the unwary.  When the Court is offended, pharisidhe close ranks.

The Court of Shade

To find the Court of Shade, look westward at dusk as cacaphony heralds the coming night.  Then make an offering pleasing to the Court.  It descends from air or fire amid debauched revel.  Grotesque riders on dark steeds menace as oxblood leather palanquins fall like autumn leaves.  Lords and ladies approach amid fanfare or fierce drumming.  The Court enjoys hunting, combat and debauchery.  The Court's justice is fair, if not always compassionate.

Kernasith also resemble elves, though rawboned and sinewy, as though carved from wood.  They grow spiralling, tined horns each century they live, elder kernasith look like they're wearing crowns.  They prefer immaculate garb yet find durable clothes comforting.  Kernasith always keep a blade handy and are superlative duellists among the fae.  They may move through undergrowth at normal speed and leave no trail, yet plants magics can impede.  Cold iron burns them as if red hot.  Each strike does an additional 1d6 fire damage to kernasith.  When the Court is offended, kernasith fight.


The 'tradition' of exchanging children with mortals is a diplomatic exercise for both of the Courts.  Such fostering is great honour to the fae.  There is a matter of timing of course. The Court of Light often chooses to save children facing certain doom or an evil upbringing.  The Court of Shade takes more indiscriminately and arbitraily.  Over time, the 'unearthly' child will manifest faerie traits.  Ransoming back a child is typical. That said, the Court of Shade won't always use a changeling from it's courtiers for this.  They claim this just adds spice to the game.

Real Like The Others

Other fey make appearances.  Diminutive faeries like atomie, grig, nixie, pixie and sprite make it difficult for easy identification.  While not quite as small, little people (brownies, korred and leprechauns) wield surprising power.  Dryads and quicklings represent intelligent plants as do nymphs.  Satyr and faun sport while stranger fey hide.  The more powerful fey are destructive and best left unless developing savage appetites or apparatus.


The transmutation of one thing into another is a cornerstone of magic.  It is also magic faerie excel at.  From shapechanger pelts to fairy rings anchoring 'unplaces' to repairing broken things, magic is practical. Teleportation, telekinesis and magic of the mind are popular as is magic shaping nature or body.  Faeries love to enlarge, shrink, slow, speed or stop.

Glamer, illusion and dreamweaving.

Faerie is glamour, it's said.  Illusion and dream weaving are vital tools for deception, chicanery and misdirections called sways by fae tricksters.  Illusions that beguile are used in both Market and Courts to achieve diverse ends for all.  Disguises and invisibility add to deception.  More potent illusions draw on shadow or twist minds.  It is whispered the Court of Shade keeps illusionists for their entertainment and to teach lessons.

Under the influence

Faerie enchantment is a nuanced affair.  Magic is one tool among many.  By combining gift, magic, persuasion and performance the fae ensnare those they would need or desire.  Performance of any kind will be accepted if good by any fae, giving bards an advantage.  Food and drink are typically used by commoners.  Etiquette and gift are more for the Courts.  The beautiful may trade locks of hair or tears. Giving part of yourself to those knowing magic is a risky proposition often with unintended consequences.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: gates, pools & windows

Portal Gate by Elartwyne@DeviantArt
In this part of the 3DPBMCSHMtm, some mechanisms of travel between the worlds are considered.  These are not the only ways to travel. Their relative scarcity outside Bellotra makes them noteworthy.

Gates in Theory and Practice

Gates are powerful magic indeed.  Bellotran lore on gates notes difficulty in their creation without aid from the Ten Thousand Worlds. Yet Bellotra is riddled with gates.  The nature of the gates may mean problems. Elemental Plane portals chance eruption.  Astral and Ethereal gates are unreliable due to planar weather.  Gates to other Material Planes are stable but inherently risky.  Gates to the Ten Thousand Worlds are paradoxically the most stable but least trusted.

They appear in a variety of forms.  Portals or doorways, geometric energy manifestations, even bizarre machines.  Other forms have been found elsewhere.  Yet the gate will connect two planes in space and time, allowing transit from either side.  Triggering actions may activate a passive gate.

Particularly ancient or poorly-maintained gates risk gate poisoning.  Arcane energy from elemental corrosion invisibly poisons users.  Steady exposure will slowly kill corporeal beings unless they are resistant to acid damage.  A poisoned gate inflicts one permanent point of damage each time it is used.  Poisoned gate damage requires potent magic.  Heal will only cure 1d4 damage of this kind.

Windows upon Other Worlds

For those without powerful magic, a simpler spell can create a planar window.  These are typically as large as a shield.  Windows seldom allow sound transmission (1 in 6).  Spells that expand sensory perception may be cast 'through' a window.  It is notable some windows open to disturbing vistas.

A few (1 in 12) windows are one-way and allow sound to travel through them.  These are prized by thsoe in the know.  Despite being invisible to mundane senses, they still attract attention as scrying attempts to the powerful.

Additional magics permit communication or travel through a window though the latter is often quite cramped for most spell casters.  Certain outsiders from the Ten Thousand Worlds use windows to speak via telepathy to their allies.

Table: Windows upon Other Worlds (roll d12)

  1. One-way window that allows sound. 
  2. Allows sound.
  3. Allows sound.
  4. Normal window
  5. Normal window.
  6. Colour shift towards red part of spectrum.  Violet appears black.  Infravision gets +10'. 
  7. Colour shift towards violet part of spectrum.  Red appears black.  Low-light vision gets +10'.
  8. Concealed by drape or soft furnishing. 
  9. Guarded by beast with gaze attack (DM's call).  Doesn't work through window, good for a laugh.
  10. Displays permanent illusion.  Roll 1d6.
    1. Boudoir of pleasure slaves of various races lounging about indolently. 
    2. Dusty outdoor gladiator training ground with gladiators practising their combat drills. 
    3. Aviary filled with small birds of motley hue and a human skeleton stripped of all flesh. 
    4. Log cabin with hearth filled with blazing log fire that never burns down.
    5. Never-ending rain of neon-green runes into darkness.  Oddly soothing to watch.
    6. Darkness with pearlescent runes that state
  11. Sealed with cold iron shutters and locked  from other side.  Might be a challenge, that.
  12. Disturbing vista.  This causes a saving throw or causes a viewer to become shaken (-2 to hit and saving throws) for 1d12 hours. 

Pools of Eerie Hue and Reflection

Pools are membraneous, blurry windows to other worlds.  Sound doesn't travel and the image is like a magic-eye painting.  The membrane feels warm and amniotic and can be breached by pushing against it for a round.  This lets you reach into that world and if you want, force your way into it.

From the other side, someone breaching looks odd. The membrane makes faces seem inhuman.  Once the breach completes, others can pull you through.  For some pools, this can be unfortunate.  Devils are fond of dragging unfortunates into their Hell via pools and then claiming the trespasser.

The membrane heals over after each breach, needing to be forced through each time.  The size of a pool is typically 1d20+12 inches across.  The membrane is impermeable to spells and effects.  Breaching allows the casting of magic into the otherworld.

Remaining in a breached membrane for longer than seven rounds attracts the attention of local wildlife. Creatures of animal intelligence or lower are hostile to any lasting breach and attack the breacher.  The animals experience a painful pulsing in their heads alleviated by the breach being sealed over.

Famous crossing-points

The following are referred to in various places. Musty academician texts in the Chained Library at Rulby. The Saffron Enchiridon displayed at the House of Mordiggian.  A remembrance wall along one of Nidal's Tunnels. Those who find these gates, portals and windows face wonderful opportunity and great dangers.

Green Chapel (Altorr)

Hidden in a forest, this overgrown chapel to Saint-George is festooned with saplings and brambles.  This has been abandoned for years.  Once breached, the nave is adorned with a portal made entirely of human skulls nailed together.  By pouring blood through the portal, a two-way gate to Bellotra is opened.  This gate leads to a crypt in the House of Mordiggian.  Furthermore, the crypt of the Green Chapel contains a second gate! A frost-rimed stone arch leading to and from a Carcetan tomb-arch in Klar Shkent.  Both gates enter darkened places.

Horns of Elbram (Bellotra)

In a public park, three marble crescents rise from a staired pillar five storeys high.  On ascending the stair, you have three openings. The northern one goes to an icy glacier under endless snow (the para-Elemental Plane of Ice).  Southeast takes you to a sandy beach with palm trees (Elysium) while southwest opens into an ancient coliseum under a grey sky (Hades/The Grey Wastes).  The name Elbram is lost in antiquity as is the reason for making the gates.  The gates are also one-way. Returning is an exercise for the traveller.

Machinery of Assilha (Bellotra)

Locked in a noble's basement, this ornate device is regarded as the pinnacle of gatecrafting.  Made of brass valves and panels etched with profane sigils,  it is 10' across.  Activation needs an Intelligence check.  Once this is done, travel is possible.  A second Intelligence check is needed to choose the desired location. Failing means a random location is determined (roll 1d6).

  1. The Rock of Agonies in Altorr, where atonement for your misdeeds can be earned by being chained   to it for a lunar cycle.  Watch out for the roc.
  2. A disused courtyard in The City of Brass. If visitors tarry too long, they risk arrest by an efreet for intrusion into a palace.
  3. A long-forgotten atrium in the Elemental Plane of Earth.  Dusty, dirty and quiet.  Drag marks on the floor indicate heavy items were moved. 
  4. A fast-flowing saltwater bore in the Elemental Plane of Water.  Entering enables the crossing of long distances at ten miles an hour plus the character's swimming rate.  The hard part is not being disorientated by buffeting currents.  Leaving the bore requires swimming at double the normal speed or sinking by weighing more than 500lbs.
  5. A grey cloud island spinning slowly clockwise in the Elemental Plane of Air.  Heavy enough to support anyone without flight.  Chunks of purest silver can be carved from it's edges.
  6. The northern edge of Ankanyn in Carcetus. This massive crevasse is home to shantak who launch    themselves from their edgeside nests to hunt and sing songs of doom into the abyss in Aklo.   

 The gate remains open until it is closed (this requires a successful Intelligence check)

Pit of al-Kaiss (Bellotra)

This gate is laid flat on a dais in an open courtyard in the fetid Rotten Burgs.  The gate falls into a massive, gullet-shaped pit on the Elemental Plane of Earth, studded with large quartz crystals.  It resembles nothing so much as the maw of a purple worm carved out of rock.  The Pit is used as prison and mine.  Convicts are sent in to carve out stone and quartz.  There is a 1 in 6 chance each day of an eruption.  1d6 boulders are hurled out in random directions up to 30' distance doing 2d6 damage to whatever they hit.

Sigard's Escape (Carcetus)

This is concealed in a permanent illusion of a ceiling cave-in surrounded by bubbling alkali puddles.  Walking through the cave-in reveals a chilly alcove.  This holds a sea-smelling verdant sphere of guttering illumination and scattered rust grains on the floor.  Entering gates delvers to an aurora-lit beach of ochre rust grains on an icy sea.  This southern rust beach on the Chill Sea of Bellotra is unoccupied.  Behind is a flickering red sphere.  This returns to before the verdant sphere.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: flora and fauna

The 3DPBMCSHMtm rumbles onwards.  The three worlds have different ecologies and this significantly impacts upon the lives of inhabitants. These diverse ecologies sometimes intermingle by passing through gates or transportation by the curious or entrepreneurial.  This bleedover may have surprising consequences.  For the jaded who believe they've seen everything, sometimes Nature has a special surprise with them in mind.

Life on Altorr

A healthy respect for Nature, red in tooth and claw, is instilled by life in Altorr.  Here animals are sometimes deadly as warriors in battlelust.  The recurring presence of dire animals speaks of strange magics.  Plants often display cunning and formidable might.  The influence of Faerie and giants also tells.

Some animals are domesticated  of course.  Dogs, sheep, cattle and aurochs are abundant.  Horses are a sign of wealth for noble and merchant-prince.  Some dwarven clans prefer boar steeds.  Hawks and falcons are bred for courtly hunting.  Owls are favoured by academician wizards almost exclusively.

Predator and prey co-exist. Roc (and visiting shantak) hunt mastodon in mountain valleys.  Boar, elk and deer are found in the forests alongside bear, tiger, wolf and wolverine.  Unusual specimens including dire boar and great elk (megaloceros) are uncommon rather than unknown.  The druids keep watch over certain beasts.

Rivers teem with carp, salmon and trout.  Grizzly bear and giant pike keep fishermen moving.  The Sea of Stones is equally prolific.  Fish and turtle teem and feed shark, squid and giant snapping turtles.  Whales sound and battle giant squid in the deeps.

Plants are equally prolific.  The forests bloom until mid-autumn and harvest brings a profusion of fruits for heroes to enjoy.  Not everything is benign.  Archer bushes and yellow musk creepers proliferate at Clune and Negraglo, fed by battle-enriched soil.  Quickwood, shambling mound and treant are seldom seen yet nobody denies their influence.

The touch of faerie is evident.  Apart from talking beasts there are other signs.  Enigmatic 'forest god' animals with antlers and human-like faces, intellect and druidic powers are sung of.  Elves consider them an auspicious omen.  Those who speak Sylvan may be amazed at what speaks to them and what is said.

Giants may also affect animals, making giants of them. The dire curse has led to conflict between giants and druids alarmed by giant cave lions and other horrors.  The giants do not understand but respond with violence.  Consequently animals around Jotunfell are exempt from druidic bans.  Foolhardy hunters had best beware.

Life on Bellotra

There are few normal animals on Bellotra.  Many make suitable familiars for magic users.  Bats, cats, civet, frog, gibbon, lizards, mongoose, rats, snakes and weasels all serve.  Mouse deer, silk moths, muntjac and tigers are evident.  The majority of Bellotran wildlife is more esoteric, the product of centuries of magical experimentation. Predators like amphisbaena, aurumvorax, bulette, hydra, krenshar, owlbear, stirge, winter wolf and worg keep hunting lively.  Almost any magical beast has appeared in Bellotra equally spurred by arrogant experiment and jaded appetite.

In the canals, hippocampus sport.  In the Rotten Burgs, catoblepas wander like sacred cattle until a mob with ranged weapons mobilises.  Prevaling wind is often the deciding factor.  Hunters seek out dragonne, leucrotta and peryton.  The destructive impulses of all three motivate concerned parties.

Domesticated beasts are all about the status they bring and implied power of the owner.  Griffon, hippogriff and pegasus are steeds.  Shocker lizards are dangerous pets.  Al-miraj, carbuncle and zoog are sometimes bound as familiars.  Those Bellotrans aligned with the Ten Thousand Worlds have stranger pets still, celestial and fiendish beasts are just the beginning.

Out in the Chill Sea, there are monsters in the deeps.  The Chill Sea's fish resemble medieval bestiary images of what fish look like. Leviathans, mottled worms, sea serpents, and shoggoths keep the oceans quiet.  Tritons keep watch over the Chill Sea.  Of the denizens of the Ten Thousand Worlds, the tritons are most trusted by Bellotran sailors.
Plants are limited.  Herbs of assorted kinds, merillia, mulberry, oak, pitcher plant, rice and roses are grown. A few invader species have come over.  Archer bushes, shrieker (including breeds with beguiling song), tendriculos and yellow musk creeper are cultivated by decadent nobles.

Life in Carcetus 

In the sunless world of Carcetus, it's eat or be eaten and the ecology reflects that.  Insects and vermin grow to monstrous proportion.  Oozes creep silently after prey.  Fungi and lichen replace the plants denied sunlight.  Residents of Carcetus guard their few animals fiercely. Cave pigs (eyeless, albino pigs with sharp smell and hearing) and rothe are primary sources of meat.  Cave fish and swiftlets are bred.  The latter warn of poison gas.  Insects and arthropods are sometimes domesticated. Giant cockroaches, fire beetles, house centipedes and giant isopods have all served as pets and familiars.  Tunnels rarely allow steeds yet some races use spiders.

Insects and arthropoda of various sizes make up a significant share of the ecology of Carcetus.  Centipedes, spiders and scorpions form a common foundation.  The further down you go, the larger and more deadly they become to delvers and explorers.  Giant ants are a common competitor.

Oozes are the ultimate clean-up crew.  In Carcetus, ooze-spoor is a portent of opportunity.  In battle tunnels, gelatinous cubes are utterly impartial.  Others, like slithering trackers or shoggoths have more malign intentions.

Aberrations are the last fauna group in Carcetus.  Their bizarre natures limit easy comprehension and more cause raving insanity.  Simpler aberrations display surprising diversity.  Choker, decapus, gibbering mouther, grick, rust monster and vampiric mist showcase this diversity.

Fungi and lichen replace plants.  The lack of sun makes for exotic colours among the latter while the former run riot.  Shriekers are cultivated not just for food but also serving as security systems for the tunnels. Amblers, a mute shrieker are another source of food.  Prolific fungus provides food and in some cases light.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: elemental infusions

Elemental Magic by
Randi 'Gheist' Thompson
Continuing the 3DPBMCSHMtm… As an interdimensional nexus, Bellotra suffers from elemental corrosion. This dissipation of matter into magical energies is prompted by a multitude of permanent gates.  Bellotra is fragile and its fabric frays, tainted by para-elemental and quasi-material manifestations.

A lucrative import business… 

This problem is typically mitigated by bringing in new matter from the elemental planes. Spell casters are paid handsomely for this.  While the Ten Thousand Worlds offer material Bellotrans refuse. They fear their world becoming another. Attempts to set decanters of endless water in fountains ended in theft.

The simple way is for people to go to an elemental plane via plane shift, retrieve material and return it.  Janni make easy coin this way.  Genies also create materials for clients.  This is tolerated, as extraplanar influence is undesirable.  Those who pay are usually bored nobles or rare druids.  The resulting material is mixed with native elements to bolster them against elemental corrosion.

More dangerous routes involve opening temporary gates.  This may lead to elemental eruptions, where the element being gated in surges uncontrollably into Bellotra.  Cyclones, wildfires, eruptions and tidal waves are all examples of elemental eruptions that bedevil unwary spellcasters.  Other methods are possible though at the DM's discretion.

By The Chill Sea

The Chill Sea becomes clogged with salt ice floes, some of which blaze with eerie corposante.  The few beaches on the Chill Sea also change.  Some are stained with rust while others develop 'deathbars'.  These piles of pale, greenish yellow minerals mix calcined baryta, nitre and garnierite.  Corrosively toxic, they cause chemical burns and a racking cough on inhalation.  Only the strangest beasts and appropriately clothed survive them.  Alchemists can make fortunes mining a deathbar.  Until shoggoths persuade them to move on. The nickel, alkalines and black powder are worth it.

The Canals & Rotten Burgs

Volcanic mud silts canals and releases brimstone vapours.    The rice fields grow fruitful with this mud so the poor dredge canals with noble assent.  Deadlier hazards like quicksand in the fens around the Rotten Burgs can turn a battle's tide.  Smogs form about the Rotten Burgs and noble towers.  Lifelong residents boast racking coughs.   These fade after a month of exposure to clean air and return after a month in the Burgs.

The Far Spires  

The mountains of the Far Spires contain active volcanoes, some sages believe their activity is increasing. Ghouls who explore the glass and steel spires for knowledge claim the volcanoes have damaged them. What strangeness lays within them?

Strange weather we're having… 

Roll d10 when adding flavour for the day.  All temperature variations are in Fahrenheit.

  1. Ash clouds darken sky, outside illumination and low-light vision is halved for 2d6 hours.  Creatures visually affected by sunlight are not affected during this time.  Any rain during this time leaves ashen patina.  
  2. Chill blue-grey mist hangs in air.  Temperature drops by  10 degrees.  Visibility limited to 300' in open ground or shoreline.  Lasts 3d6 hours unless dispersed by wind.
  3. Dust storm blows through for 2d6 hours.  Visibility is reduced to 10', Listen and Spot checks take -4 penalty as do ranged attacks.  Unless protective masks, magics or other countermeasures are taken 1 in 6 chance of blinding for 1d6 rounds and taking 1d3 subdual damage each round. 
  4. Freezing fog reduces visibility to five feet.  Those beyond 5' are concealed from sight (this also includes  infravision).  Exposed structures gain hoar frost. Lasts for 3d6 hours, dispersed by wind or large fires.
  5. Hail storm rattles the area for 1d6 minutes.  1 in 6 chance of 1 damage to unprotected characters per round from large hailstones.  1 in 6 chance of rain following for 1d4 hours.
  6. Haze fills humid air, tinting everything sepia.  Light and visibility is halved yet infravision is unaffected.  Temperature increases by 10 degrees.  Those not wearing protective masks take 1d4 subdual damage every hour.  Lasts 2d6 hours unless dispersed by wind.
  7. Orange ball lightning of 1d8+8 inch diameter. Lasts 1d8 rounds, moves 3d6 feet in random direction each round and  1 in 6 chance of arcing to a character for 1d8+1 damage. Finds metal-clad characters attractive, vanishes silently afterwards.
  8. Sleet storm reduces visibility and ground movement by half.  50% chance of extinguishing lanterns (75% chance for open flames).  Imposes a -4 to ranged attacks, Spot and Listen checks.  Lasts for 2d20 minutes.
  9. Smog cloud blown by ill-favoured winds lasts for 1d4 hours.  Illumination is halved and visibility (including infravision or low-light vision) is reduced to 5'.  Those beyond 5' are concealed from sight.  Those caught in the cloud must save vs. poison each round or take 1d3 subdual damage. Protective masks can prevent this damage.
  10. Violet corposante (St. Elmo's Fire) forms on pointed structures, providing candle-light illumination for those structures.  Lasts for 6d6 minutes then dissipates unless subjected to sudden moisture.

Beware the aurora vortex!

Deadliest of all manifestations is the aurora vortex.  Green and blue aurorae usually light Bellotran night skies. A crimson spot in the aurora presages a pillar of vacumn touching the ground like Death's finger.  This forms an cylinder in which the living are chilled and suffocated for a round.  Then air, smoke and dust howl into the void with explosive force, rending all but metal.  As likely as a lightning strike, they are drawn to significant electrical discharges.

Game effects of the aurora vortex

After lightning storms or more than 12 dice of electrical damage in one round, the aurora above the area turns red. The wise move quickly away.  The next round, a cylinder of vacumn 1d20+20' diameter appears from the heavens.

Those within the vacumn face a save vs. death to avoid  5d10 damage from lung collapse.  If successful 1d6 subdual damage is taken.  Those without lungs or gills are unaffected.  The intense chill causes 2d4 cold damage and freezes water in the area.  The area is silenced and all flames are extinguished.  Speech is impossible, spells with verbal components and all sound-based effects fail.

The next round, air and dust explosively fill the void from all directions at once.  The winds are tornado strength, doing 6d6 damage to the unprotected and hurling them 3d6 feet in a random direction.  Giant-sized creatures are knocked prone.  Attempts at Listen checks fail.  Buildings and other structures take damage.

Monday, 7 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: death & undeath

The three worlds of the 3DPBMCSHMtm have different attitudes to death and undeath.  Faith, otherworldly power and fell deeds help shape what rests and what rises again.

…to die in Altorr

Cremation is the norm.  Some druids or faiths (e.g. Fareus) prefer to elevate the dead upon trees or platforms.  Carrion birds will pick apart the body in short order.  Grave goods are shared among surviving kin.  Burial is the province of the wealthy or certain faiths (e.g. Saint-George, Mordiggian).  Barrow-mounds are typical for great warriors or kings. Steeped in death and evil, the buried attract anti-life energies which settle in their bones or the shadow of their remains.

Undeath in Altorr

Opportunities for necromancy are limited unless you're willing to obtain still-cooling cadavers for your research.  Altorran necromancers have a hint of maddened butcher about them, making them easier to spot socially.  Of the mindless undead, many owners keep close by.  This propietary attitude gives them an undeserved mystique.

Ghouls are usually interred in Mordiggian crypts with occasional forays into charnel pits.  Feral ghouls roam graveyards and urban areas, looking to feast.  Mordiggian ghouls foray via tunnels to crypts, libraries and stockyards.  During the Demonplague, entire villages were buried alive in mass graves to rise as feral ghouls. This mocked the rites of Mordiggian.  It also provided shock troops for the demons and their ghasts to control.  Ghasts are corrupted by Abyssal and anti-life energies as well as cannibalism.  These deadly foes of Mordiggian lead feral ghouls in attacks against the Great Ghoul's followers.  Followers of Mordiggian will prioritise the slaying of a ghast above most non-worship activities.

Wights, wraiths and spectres are the result of anti-life energies binding to hearts and souls tainted by evil. Evil warriors interred with nobles arise as barrow-wights.  More powerful undead occur with more death and destruction or more heinous murders inflicted in life.  Mohrgs are feared, all were once serial killers with at least ten kills.  Ghosts are infrequent yet the desperate often become

Vampires are made by demonic pact.  As such, vampire spawn are usually expendable shock troops and seldom win free of their powerful masters.  There are noteworthy exceptions of course.  Druids and bards take reports of vampirism very seriously.  If a master vampire is reported, demons are usually coming.
Liches are unknown in Altorr.  The Parliament of Roses will not suffer any lich and will mobilise to destroy them utterly.  'When the woods walk' is an Altorran proverb for when a situation is sufficiently dire.

…to die in Bellotra

Here, burial is the norm.  At least one city is supported by corpses too-tightly packed to be animated. Corpse-wagons pick through streets ruled by certain nobles, pressing dead flesh into their eternal servitude. Most commoners  die close to home, buying plots in familial or temple crypts.  Nobles take this further by constructing elaborate mausoleums for families and monuments to distant ancestors.  Grave goods are sometimes shared between kin, temples and guilds.  Wills arbitrated by lawful entities complicate this further.

Undeath in Bellotra

Mindless undead are uncommon but known.  Tarred zombies work capstans and winches at the canals while painted skeletons bear glutton mages in sedan chairs. The wheels of Bellotran industry turn by dead hands. Ghouls frequent Mordiggian crypts and libraries, the new-risen aren't great conversationalists but their elders are fascinating.  At least one sage consults ghouls regularly.

Shadows indicate the presence of shadow demons, shadowdancers and other tenebrous troublemakers who would remain obscure.  Forslas priests sent to disperse them leave consecrated shrines with daylight spells in their wake. The evil-hearted are exposed to extraplanar and antilife energies in Bellotra resulting in more undead.  Wraiths and spectres reveal great evil.  Yet ghosts cause the greatest unrest, each is a mystery. Bellotrans love mysteries, there is no shortage of ghost quellers selling services of varying merit.  .

Mummification either by tar pit or alchemical means preserves something of the family for future generations. Some direct mercantile families from their mausoleum.  Others protect their descendents more actively.
Vampirism is an occasional risk with at least one nest trapped by canals by cunning nobles.  Many Bellotran vampires skirt insanity through congress with demons and other entities.  Lichdom is a dark temptation for spell casters, enslaved genies or demons offer wishes.  It is whispered Darkcloak leaders know at least one rite for lichdom.

…to die in Carcetus

As the spirit is called home, morticians harvest the body for bone, sinew, tallow, vellum and spell component. The rest is mulched for fungus farms.  Goods are shared out among surviving kin or peers. Burial is exclusive to Mordiggian and Saint-George.  In spite (or because) of this attitude to the dead, life is cherished the more. Walls etched with names of the dead are common memorials in Carcetus tunnels where many travel.

Undeath in Carcetus

Mindless undead are slightly less prevalent but necromancy is a known quantity.  Tireless labour is valued in the depths.  Ghouls dwell in Mordiggian necropoli.  Extensive libraries, meditation chambers and feast-halls make them gruesome yet educational places to visit.  Ghasts prey on the necropoli, allying with aberrations.
Shadows are feared and hated.  Their insidious nature, loss of self and replacement of flesh with shadow-stuff makes them inimical enemies.  Priests and enchanted weapons are at a premium with priests of Foslas leading in the battle. Ghosts, phantoms and poltergeists are commonplace here.  Unlike Bellotra, anyone claiming to quell ghosts is capable.  The ghost queller is one part exorcist, one part rogue and one part detective.  They believe in research and sharing information.  Even so, ghost quellers often die prematurely.  .

Wights are depressingly prevalent in Carcetus, as killing is often required for survival and many have some skill in battle.  Wraiths are less prevalent than expected.  Spectres are rare, though the slaver races seem blessed with an abundance of them.  The drow are also known for their banshees.  Vampires in Carcetus are known for their endless hunger.  Where food is sparse, they are deadly. Nests of spawn are hunted and eradicated by the living out of fear of bloody annihilation.  Master vampires keep hidden and infiltrate smaller communities.  Here they feast relatively undisturbed.

Liches exist in Carcetus, deep below.  It's said the lost city of Sepuldam contains mausoleums in which liches dwell in fell seclusion.  Yet those who dare return accursed or bodak-haunted.  While it's said Darkcloaks know a rite for lichdom, most believe this stops them accumulating greater power.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: 20 questions about Carcetus

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The third world of the 3DPBMCSHMtm, the tunnels of Carcetus, it is claimed will go on forever.  These questions may help inform those seeking adventures there.

  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
    Clerics are one of the main sources of light and therefore life. Do not, ever, vex the cleric.  Nobody likes being in the dark surrounded by monsters - well more than usual.
    Cadusus - The patient healer, tamer of serpents and producer of many sources of healing.
    Extur - The violent warrior, teacher of battle.  Admired by soldier and goblin alike.
    Foslas - Shining light, patron of knowledge and lawful behaviour.  Not always benign or kindly
    Loth - The weaver of darkness, mother of drow,  brewer of strife and poison.
    Mordiggian - Great Ghoul, dark corona-god and patron of ghouls and necropoli.
    Saint-George - The pale knight who watches over  warriors, wanderers, herders and the diseased.
    The Crawler - God of pain and hunger, placated with offerings lest it curses or consumes you.
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
    Standard equipment can be found in the towns but some things are a little different.  Wood is usually replaced with bone.  Metal isn't plentiful but effectively shaped.  Many weapons have a skeletal or minimalist appearance.
  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
    Custom armour for that beast?  The forges at Klar Kastyn can help.  Or you might find some after a duergar raid?
  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in Carcetus?
    There is some contention.  Five are roughly equal but there is no conclusive battle to rank them. Drefoy Malko. Apparent Darkcloaks leader.  Sardonic, sneering and boyish exemplar of this group.
    Ibarra Spellsmith.  Most powerful spellcrafter known, friend to dwarves and slayer of aboleths.
    Narzem Ironmask.  Conjurer and worm-that-walks who serves The Crawler with fanatical zeal.
    Rastalf Lingrey.  Itinerant and spry Patchrat of subtle power, probably the kindest of all.
    Wyrgana Morddin.  Witch of uncertain humour and deadly powers rising swiftly through the ranks.
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in Carcetus?
    Vargris Trollslayer, bless his blades.  He helped many towns against slavers and monsters.  Now he is missing, believed seeking the surface, from which nobody has ever returned.
  6. Who is the richest person in Carcetus?
    Do you believe the Whispering Darkness is real?  No?  Perhaps the Darklords of Klar Kastyn then or if the stories are true, the temple nagas.
  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
    The temples.  Some wanderers carry their own healing and guard it jealously.
  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions:
    poison - Any temple, though Loth temples will try to turn this to their advantage.  If the poisoning is unjust Mordiggian may offer assistance.
    disease - Any preceptory of Saint-George or temple to Cadusus or Foslas.
    curse - Any temple, especially Mordiggian.
    level drain - The great temples of Extur or Foslas.  Mordiggian and Saint-George will refuse you.
    lycanthropy - A certain preceptory of Saint-George specialises in curing lycanthropes.
    polymorph - Any temple or spellcaster though of course there is risk in doing so.
    alignment change - Atone at the great temples of the appropriate faith.
    death - The great temples of Extur, Foslas and Loth may bring you back for a price.  Mordiggian and Saint-George refuse this regardless of price.
    undeath - The great temple of Extur or Foslas may help restore you from undeath for donation and services.  Do not seek out Mordiggian for this unless you seek annihilation!
  9. Is there a magic guild my spellcaster belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
    There are three main groups you'll come across as magicians tend to be individualistic.
    Darkcloaks - Unpleasant bunch, believe in power and that's it.  Often well-equipped, surrounded by disposable flunkies.  Mercenary in the worst way.
    Patchrats - They give up wealth to help others. Always poor but kind y'know?  Know some impressive magic despite wearing patched clothes.
    Spellcrafters - They make magic items of all kinds.  Even minor magicians make things that save our lives when it's quiet
  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
    Depends where you are.  Klar Kastyn has everything for sale.  The captains of Klar Shkent will take you down the dark rivers and the Understone Sea.
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
    Lakhrymer has sell-spears.  Klar Shkent offers marines.  Orc tribes will also fight for money.
  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
    Avoid Lakhrymer, the slavers have it locked down tight.  Weapons can't be longer than your forearm, no magicians for more than three days unless they become indentured.  Temples are kept small and the darklords batten on the slavers' taxes.
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
    Down these tunnels a mile you'll find the King's Way.  You'll find others like it here and there.
  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
    Countryside, how Altorran of you!  Don't worry, in the tunnels, there's plenty to kill.  Fight the slaver races (the aboleth, duergar, drow and serpentfolk) if you want acclaim.  Fight the grimlocks, morlocks, orcs and vampires if you want to live.  Forget the surface, nobody comes back from there!
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?Always wars going on between slavers.  Be careful, they have allies in odd places.  Klar Kastyn and Klar Shkent are the best places to hear of such.
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?The Pits of Klar Kastyn hold enough fame, death and coin for anyone desperate or talented.
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
    All kinds of secrets down here.  
    Loth has numerous sects.  Assassins, monks and shadowdancers to name a few.  However, Loth is a jealous goddess and the drow aren't exactly good company...
    Saint-George has secret orders of knights and priests alike charged with guarding perilous lore. There's all kinds of stories but I never met a paladin of Saint-George I didn't like.
    The Eye-in-Hand are human and humanoid slavers trading with the slaver races, trusted by nobody. Their trade makes monsters of them.
  18. What is there to eat around here?
    Our rations!  The smoked sausage and sliced morel is delicious. Yes, you need lichen shavings to stay healthy as well as water. Fungal ale isn't safe in the tunnels. Foraging is risky business. Rothe is delicious as is cave boar and fishing is still rewarding.  Shrieker and ambler provide some relief from meat.  I've heard the duergar grind strange blue crystals to make nutritious drink.
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
    There are tales of naga temples holding great wealth.  That means fighting naga and serpentfolk which is a risky proposition.  Sepaldam, a sunken necropolis holds the grave goods of ten thousand souls behind leaden gates inscribed with lethal symbols and curses.  The Tunnels of Nidus are said to fork to a place of dancing lights and granite blocks where the bodies of the fallen hold loot.
  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
    If you don't believe in the Whispering Darkness, the maukhoth of the Understone Sea might help.

Friday, 4 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: 20 questions about Bellotra

Another layer of the 3DPBMCSHMtm, this time Bellotra, decaying nexus of magic and decadence.
  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?In Bellotra, faith decays as magic and science take root. The following faiths may be found:
    Ama'theya - All-Mother, healer, oracle, bringer of catastrophic change.
    Extur of the Bloody Hands - teacher of violence and patron to goblinoids.
    Forslas of the Blinding Light - stern patron of law and knowledge.
    Mordiggian - Great Ghoul, dark corona-god and patron of ghouls and necropoli.
    Seyvyes - the Serpent Divided, trickster and patron of civilisation and sailors.
    Saint-George - the pale knight who watches over warriors, wanderers, herdsfolk and the diseased.
    Thasaidon - Lord of seven hells, crusher of flesh and will, sun of the Underworld.
    The Crawler - god of pain and hunger, placated with offerings lest it curses or consumes you.
    Verlore - petty god of the lost and forgotten, invoked when all else has failed.
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?There are bazaars where one may buy everyday items from the genies and their thralls, from the Dead or envoys of the Ten Thousand Worlds.
  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?The envoys of the City of Brass, the armourers of Dis or the dwarves of Celestia forge such things. Most nobles are less concerned about their playthings.
  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in Bellotra?
    Byram al-Marja yet many vie for that title, including those from the Ten Thousand Worlds.  Proud like a wizard is a Bellotran insult.
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
    The Devil-In-Iron has slain all comers, though it is unjust to call that machine a warrior.
  6. Who is the richest person in the land?
    Saphedamauta, the Pallid Maharajah, whose ringed talons dabble in vice, slaves and esoteric lore with equal capability.  A formidable magician and rakshasa, he prefers living like a sybaritic king to striving for arcane mastery.  Who can blame him hmm?
  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
    The temples are the first choice.  Yet alchemist and scrivener offer healing at reasonable rates. Envoys of the celestial worlds may help if you are desperate.
  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions:
    poison - The temples of Ama'Theya and Seyvyes are particularly effective.
    disease - The paladins of Saint-George have sworn to eradicate disease from Bellotra.
    curse - Any skilled spellseller can remove such with sufficient effort and preparation.
    level drain - Ama'Theya, Extur and Forslas may help.  Mordiggian and Saint-George will refuse.
    lycanthropy - Though some prefer Saint-George, I always send the moon-blooded to Ama'Theya.
    polymorph - Any competent spellseller can remove such with sufficient effort and preparation.
    alignment change - The temples may offer penance through atonement.
    death - Ama'Theya, Forslas and Thasaidon offer resurrection. Mordiggian and Saint-George refuse.
    undeath - The temples of Ama'Theya, Forslas and Seyvyes will help.  Mordiggian destroys unwilling undead in his temples.  Saint-George will seek to inter the undead if they cannot be destroyed.
  9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
    There are several magic guilds!  Those of particular note include:
    Conjurers summon otherworldly creatures to fulfil desires or patch the decaying world.  Ostentation and power go hand-in-hand with them.
    Darkcloaks trade in malicious magics.  They also fall prey to powerful magicians and outsiders who snare them with promises of power.  Other guilds see them as dangerous, immature amateurs.
    Glutton-mages wield potent necromancy but grow corpulently fat and move as if always carrying a medium load.  They may have undead servants and some seek lichdom.
    Phantasmists weave terrible illusions and can bestow nightmarish visions by touch.  The powerful ones are surrounded by eerie phantoms.  They are given a wide berth by the fearful.
  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
    Alchemists can be found in gable-house garrets in the Rotten Burgs making their fortunes or peddling wares in the street.  Sages usually haunt a library or noble's tower.  Other experts are found in various parts of the Rotten Burgs or in the hire of a patron.
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
    The Rotten Burgs are home to several mercenary groups (some human, others not) who fight wars between The Ten Thousand Worlds.
  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?The nobles apply their own laws.  Lady Ghanila is famed for imprisoning armed travellers.  Lord Ratirri confiscates spellbooks if owners refuse to either swear an oath of loyalty or leave his domain in a week.  Other nobles are less hostile but no less predictable.
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern?Taverns are popular in the Rotten Burgs and even around noble towers, a hostelry serves cheer. Travellers enjoy Madame Zsa's hospitality or the ale at the Unicorn's Horn'd.
  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?Hydra, harpies, tigers and will-o-wisps have hunted the canals since time immemorial. Morlocks and packs of cranial rats raid the Rotten Burgs for slaves.  Shoggoths of the Chill Sea terrorise anything they like. Cheer up, there is always something to kill!
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
    There are so many wars.  Efreeti campaigns of conquest, crusades by knights of Saint-George, infernal pogroms, even feuds between nations too!  All pay for soldiers, some even come back!
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
    The Coliseum opens daily and gladiators from ten thousand worlds compete.  Convicts are summarily dealt with there.  Money can easily be made by the skilful.  You are skilful, of course?
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
    As many as guilds of magicians and temples and more.
    Akasheeya are aasimar extremists who take the fight to evil institutions.  These actions may appear unjust yet are always justified. Beautiful, wise and tireless enemies of devil, daemon and demon.
    Jahat are a circus of tiefling rogues and sorcerors.  Motivated by selfish goals, they are sometimes pawns in fiendish games.  They live a hand-to-mouth existence in the Rotten Burgs and Spires.
    The Kallesh are a mafia of wererats with a history of betrayal and grisly ways to make an example of someone.  They own parts of the Rotten Burgs and infest the canal docks.  No Kallesh ever turned informer, even to magical inquisition.
  18. What is there to eat around here?
    Plenty!  From the blood sausage and pickles beloved of beggars to the exotic feasts of artisans and nobles seeking recognition.  Curried meats with delicate flavours and the fruit and spices of ten thousand worlds can be found at bazaar.  Strangely-shaped bread (birds, animals and hands are popular) are baked to delight customers.
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
    So many to choose from… the canals hide sunken payboats for countless schemes.  Fallen noble towers hold wealth and death traps. The Rotten Burgs have hoards hidden by dead mercenaries and Chill Sea or planar pirates.
  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
    The captain of the Unforeseen said that there are dragons in the earth.  An odd way to sell passage to Carcetus but still… if you want fantastic riches, I hear the shantak-nests hold numerous baubles from their petitioners.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: 20 questions about Altorr

Warrior by Eoghan Kerrigan.
As there is no finer way to initially define a campaign setting than by asking Jeff's 20 questions, here's some answers about Altorr, the grimweird world and first plane of the 3DPBMCSHMtm.

  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?While most divine magic here is druidic, clerics are a growing influence. The gods can be split into two pantheons - The Old Powers and the Invaders.  The Invader faiths arrived through the gates and have stayed.  They helped fight the demons so they're welcome.

    Old PowersAmatheya - Great Mother, goddess of healers and oracle with powers of great natural destruction.
    Fareus - Lord Sky, god of heroes and kings. Randy, impulsive, penchant for thunderbolts.
    Mordiggian - Great Ghoul, dark corona-god and patron of ghouls and necropoli.
    Seves - The Bronze Serpent.  Divided Trickster, patron of civilisation, hunting and sailors.

    Extur - Violent warrior, teacher of battle and patron of goblinoids
    Saint-George - Pale knight who watches over warriors, wanderers, herders and the diseased.
    The Crawler - God of pain and hunger, placated with offerings lest it curses or consumes you.
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
    Villages can provide the basics (anything up to 30gp) or animals.  Anything elaborate like armour, expensive weapons or similar, talk to a noble or a merchant-prince.  They have artisans who can make such things.
  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
    The elven smiths routinely armour beasts.  Dwarves may bard their warboars.  The merchant-princes may be able to help with that thing you have with you...
  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
    Jalias, but he'll find you first.  If an old man in raven-feather cloak and leathers offers work, you're dead, famous or both.  He knows some fantastic stories.  His eyes are far too old.
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
    Amalandri, queen of the Kyliasta elves slew a balor in single combat.  The Giant-Killer rangers follow at some distance.  A number of knights have slain dire beasts and barbarians hunt mammoths.
  6. Who is the richest person in the land?
    Skiderik Dragonnest, first among merchant-princes.  He made his fortune trading weapons with the Unforeseen's captain for Bellotran wines and finery.  You'll find him in Rulby fleecing academicians. A bastard's bastard, count your fingers once you've had dealings with him.
  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
    Many places.  Druids and bards may provide this for service.  The temples and monasteries may also grant aid in return for a donation.
  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions?
    poison - As above.
    disease - As above.  The paladins of Saint-George are particularly helpful with this.
    curse - A bard or druid may assist, as may any temple or magician you can pay for.
    level drain - The temples, though Mordiggian will refuse you.
    lycanthropy - Druids may help you, as will the paladins of Saint-George.  Some barbarians consider lycanthropes totemic so trying to cure them is a good way to start a fight.
    polymorph - Most spell casters will do this for a fee.  Those subject to druidic baleful polymorph are never returned by another druid.  News travels quickly.
    alignment change - Chain yourself to the Rock of Agonies for a lunar cycle.  Or seek atonement from a druid or temple of Saint-George.  The latter is easier to be truthful.
    death - Druids will reincarnate you. If you like your body, the temples are a better idea though Saint-George and Mordiggian will refuse you.
    undeath - Mordiggian destroys any unwilling undead in his temple.  It's whispered the Parliament of Roses may save someone lost to undeath.  Good luck finding them though.
  9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
    Most hedge-wizards aren't that organised!  There are the academicians of Rulby, though the entrance exam is hard.  The Darkcloaks are a bunch of power-hungry wizards trading destructive or malevolent magics.  Not people you'd trust with your spell book.  Jalias isn't interested either, what would you offer him?
  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?These people serve the nobles and merchant-princes.  Ovates (bardic druid-types) have loremasters in their ranks.
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
    Almost every town has sell-swords seeking the favour of noble or merchant-prince.  Some of them turn to banditry in winter.  That never ends well for anyone.
  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
    Negraglo tax collectors prove most inventive in the name of their baron.  Sword tax, spell tax and all kinds of trouble if you refuse.  Travellers don't stay in the Barony of Negraglo long.
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
    At the edge of town.  Or at the crossroads next to the market.  In every town so you won't starve. Many villagers brew their own.  Unless you're in Negraglo, of course, where only the Baron has money or food.
  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
    The giants of Jotunfell have raided as long as we remember.  The dire beasts who haunt forest and hill tend to alarm villages.  The sea devils to the south are also a scourge on trade.  
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
    The Border Kings are always fighting.  Mercenaries flock to their lands during harvest-time and war until the first snows.  A shrewd warrior might grow rich doing such work.  The barony of Negraglo always wants mercenaries, even in winter.  How does the Baron afford them?
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
    Every market-town has a Pit where people fight for coin.  Competition can get very fierce.  In Clune, the nobles use their Pit for trial by combat and recruiting elite troops.  They are quite vicious there.
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
    There are alliances between nobles and certain giant clans.  These provide the giants with slaves for various purposes.  Keep away from hooded men with manacles.
  18. What is there to eat around here?
    Plenty!  Boar, bull and sheep are plentiful - which has caused trouble before.  Harvests are rich and famine is almost unknown outside of Negraglo.
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
    Tales of demon cult hoards being uncovered reach the ears of the greedy.  The resulting bloodshed and red gold does more damage than the cults ever did.
  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
    The war with the demons killed all the dragons and their hoards were divided among the survivors. Though I hear that the Rock of Agonies is protected by a roc or some large bird-like thing... 
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