Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Ice Grill of Dis

The bards of the coastal city of Dis are known as much for their ostentatious and flamboyant style as they are for their cruel wit and quick fire verse. The gaudy wordsmiths are notorious for possessing a savage competitive streak that often results in epic feuds. Magicians of Dis work in tandem with the cities booming jewellery industry to produce unique (and incredibly expensive) items that give the bards an edge in their poetic battles. The Ice Grill is one such piece, gifting the bard with the ability to literally freeze their opponents in place with nothing more than a well timed insult.

Description: The Ice Grill appears to be a mould of an adult humans upper teeth, carved out of solid platinum. It is inscribed with tiny, intricate runic etchings that glow with a blue flame when the item is activated. It is worn by being inserted onto the upper teeth, and will magically tighten or loosen to hold firmly in place when in a wearers mouth.

Effects: Once per day, a bard wearing the Ice Grill may pick a single sentient target that can understand the language the bard is speaking as the subject for their vicious rhyming insults. They roll to affect the target as if using the bardic ability Charm. If the target is affected they are paralysed for 1 turn per level of the offensive bard, and may not move, speak or cast spells, attack or take any action except defending themselves with their AC modified -2 [+2]. If the player can successfully improvise a 4 line rhyming insult tailored to the target that makes the table cheer, then the AC modifier is increased to -3 [+3].

Friday, 28 March 2014

Parker's Pipe

This is the famous pipe of Captain Pineas Parker, believed lost in the elven raid that destroyed the trading colony on Crab Shanks island. Parker was renowned for his habit of crumbling coral from the reef around Crab Shanks into his tobacco before smoking, an affectation that he described as 'victuals for the sharp mind and a tonic for the shaky soul'. Survivors of the colony have suggested that this habit was also the catalyst for his eventual horrible death at the hands of the elves.

Description: A long handled ivory pipe, carved from the horn of a narwhal. Delicate grooves circle the slender handle, and the bowl is carved with the face of a jungle puck.

Effects: Parker's Pipe is inhabited by a capricious sea daemon that hates the elves and poisons the mind of anyone that uses it. When used to smoke crushed coral from an elven reef, it will increase the users Intelligence score by +1 and give magic users the ability to memorise one more spell per day up to the highest level available to them. This effect lasts for 24 hours or until the pipe is smoked again, but bonuses do not stack. Each time the pipe is smoked, there is a cumulative 5% chance that the daemon will be activated and begin to affect the mind of the smoker. Once the daemon has been activated, the bonus increases to give a +2 Intelligence score to the user and the ability to memorise two more spells per day, but this only lasts for 4 hours before the pipe must be used again. The activated daemon will whisper secret recipes to the user, suggesting that using the pipe to smoke elven flesh along with the coral will bring further powers. Each time the daemon activated pipe is smoked the user must make a saving throw or be possessed by the subtle devil for the next 24 hours, during which time they will quietly seek to murder, flay and smoke an elf.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Illume Chisel

The Chisel is the grand prize at the Illume, the annual art contest in honour of Easel, God of Artists and Corruption. It's entire purpose is to give the winner an unfair advantage in the next years competition. The Illume gets incredibly vicious, as judges are bribed, works are destroyed, artists are assassinated and backs are stabbed. The Chisel gives it's wielders supernaturally attuned senses when carrying out the dark deeds necessary to assert their artistic dominance.

Description: A steel headed chisel. The handle is made of smoothed and polished onyx, carved with beautifully illuminated images of artists at work.

Effects: The Illume Chisel may be used in combat as a Dagger +1.

When holding the Illume Chisel, a character who does not have access to Thieving Skills gains the use of Thieving Skills as if they were a Thief at ½ their current level (example; a 4th level Fighter wields the Illume Chisel. He may fight as if using a Dagger +1 and gains access to Thieving Skills such as Climb Walls, Hide in Shadows and Open Locks as if he were a 2nd level Thief).

When holding the Illume Chisel, a character who does have access to Thieving Skills (Assassin, Monk, Thief) increases their effective level when using Thieving Skills by 3 levels (example; a 5th level Thief wields the Illume Chisel. He may now use Thieving Skills as if he were an 8th level Thief for as long as he holds the Chisel).

In addition, the Illume Chisel is a masterful tool for sculpting. It has a particular affinity for any work which sucks up to Easel, God of Artists and Corruption.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The ruins of Crab Shank's old town

 A couple of hexes from the Isles of Fire and Cruelty


18.15 – 19.14 – 19.15: Ruins of the old town

Crab Shanks Isle is located on the south east of the archipelago. The last Edge Landers to set up shop here angered the elves at 25.06. One night the whole tribe mobilised and attacked, wiping out the entire settlement. The elves burned the buildings, tore up the agriculture and tortured and killed everyone they found. Most of the bodies are gone now, decomposed, washed away or eaten, but the charred remains of the town are still standing.

A brave (or reckless) Hungry Keeper seeded a dungeon in the ruins at 18.15, dedicated to Shut Lung. It is inhabited by a school of deep ones in the waters below, tended to by a motley cult of brainwashed and traumatised human survivors. The deep ones are paranoid and careful not to alert the elves to their presence, and are planning to escape to less hostile waters if they can manage it without incurring the wrath of Shut Lung.

The ruins at 19.14 has attracted a crew of outcast Puck treasure hunters. The diminutive fae have modelled themselves on Edge Lander dungeoneers, and as such are violent, amoral and lustful for gold. They have adorned themselves with whatever accoutrements of the gold hounds trade they can scavenge or jury-rig.

In the ruined port at 19.15 lives the ghost of Captain Pineas Parker, former governor of Crab Shanks. Horribly tortured before his death at the hands of the elves, Parker is tied to this plane by the continued existence of Parker's Pipe, a magic item now in the hands of the elves at 25.06. Destruction of the Pipe will free Parker to the aether.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

"Elf Island" - Sandbox / Hexcrawl Preview

I've been playing about with Hexographer recently and I've put together this little map, a Far Flung Island inhabited by warring Elves, mischievous Puck and a nervous Edge Landers trading colony.

I'm planning to write this up as a sandbox / hexcrawl module, including such highlights as;

- Warlike tribes of vindictive Elves, bearing centuries old grudges and savagely cruel imaginations.
- Mischievous villages of creatively genius, but morally bankrupt, Puck.
- Sea Devil infested marshlands.
- Dormant volcano. Dormant volcano. Volcano!
- A newly settled trading colony.
- A recently destroyed trading colony.
- Dungeons and not-dungeons galore.

I'd love to hear any suggestions you guys have for things to put into the island, monsters you'd like to fight or locations you'd like to adventure in, as well as any hints + tips on making better maps next time round!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Houses of Waste and Plenty

An example temple and festival for each of the major Hungry Gods that plague the Edge Lands.

Portly, God of Feast and Famine

1: A squat golden dome located in the centre of a meat packing district. Starving pilgrims from across the Edge Lands bring offerings of raw meat, which are thrown onto a barbecue kept burning by well fed priests. The dome has no windows, only a handful of small entrances and a single inefficient chimney. Smoke fills the room, along with the mouth watering smell of cooked meat. Hungry visitors tempted to steal food sometimes end up on the coals themselves.

2: This month long festival takes place in a remote monastery. Devotees and priests of Portly are locked away in cells and starved for 6 days. Then on the 7th day they feast, throwing themselves into an orgy of food and wine and sex and drugs. The next day the cycle begins again. Many die from starvation or over consumption, lose their minds to drug abuse and isolation, or commit suicide or murder.

Rasping, God of Greed and Gold

1: The Counting House, great temple of Rasping, is located on Crestbourne's western tip. It is where all of Crestbourne's gold goes before it is consigned to the abyss. Priests of Rasping toil night and day, ritually counting and recounting the gold whilst preparing ornately illuminated lists of purchases that the wealth could be spent on. Then they burn the lists and pile the hoards onto the sacrificial boats, destined for the Edge and oblivion.

Unhappy priests of Rasping, hard at work counting gold and illuminating redundant shopping lists.

2: My Desires Eve is Crestbourne's anarchic festival of theft. Law is suspended from nightfall until morning, during which time devotees of Rasping are expected to take to the streets to pillage and loot from their neighbours. There is no legal recourse to recover any property, virtue or honour stolen during My Desires Eve, and not taking the annual opportunity to seek possession of the things you lust after is considered both sacrilegious and rather rude.

Tumble Down, God of Fate and Gambling

1: The Wheel is a great golden spire connected by eight spokes to a massive hollow wheel which contains the most dangerous casino temple on the Edge. Priests of Tumble Down collect wagers and determine the odds on games of chance that range from the mundane to the deadly. The Wheel is a sacred ground, and admission is open to all. Riminal children are warned early about the dangers of the Wheel, as there are well documented cases of reckless youths losing their liberty, their lives or their souls during a childish game of knuckle-bones or conkers.

Cheating is a risky business in the casino-temples, but losing is even more so.

2: Dice Day is a festival of luck. The festivities begin in the early morning, with wild games organised in the streets, dancing and feasting. Devotees of Tumble Down are required to attend temples where they roll dice under the watchful eye of the priesthood. The results might be good or bad - lucky winners could be handed gold coins and sent back to the party or given free reign of a pleasure barge, whilst unlucky losers may be publicly flogged or press-ganged into serfdom for the day.

Easel, God of Artists and Corruption

1: The opulent former residence of a Lip Bound nobleman, converted into a vast studio. Artists from the Edge Lands are 'invited' by Easel to attend the studio, where they are tasked with producing works that please the God. Their canvases are the living flesh of priests that have displeased Easel.

Penitent priests of Easel

2: The Illume is an annual competition of artworks devoted to Easel. Priests and devotees are expected to pick entrants and scheme towards helping them achieve victory by any means necessary. The competition gets incredibly vicious, as judges are bribed, works are destroyed, artists are assassinated and backs are stabbed. And woe be to Riminal if the winner of the Illume is not to Easel's taste.

Horn, God of Lust and War

1: This amphitheatre is the stage for elaborate competitions and displays of prowess. Horn demands exhibitions both erotic and violent, but has been known to change his mind about which he wishes for midway through a performance. One may witness stunning sexual athletes thrown weapons mid-coitus and tasked with fighting to the finish, whilst lethal gladiators toss aside their weapons, drop their armour and fuck furiously, all for the fickle favours of the God of sex and death.

2: Healing is free at the temples of Horn during the Feast of Fist and Bottle, with only one caveat – if you take to the streets, then you have to fight. Children fight children, men fight men, women fight women, and grandparents fight grandparents. If an Unfallen is in the streets and they come across a peer, they must fight with their fists or be shamed in front of the community. The drinking holes and restaurants fill up with fighters taking a rest, as the open public spaces of Unfall become one huge, rollicking, alcohol fuelled melee. The harassed clerics of Horn move amongst the wreckage, dispensing healing spells and (in rare cases) resurrections.

The Feast of Fist and Bottle

Lisp, God of Lies and Public Speaking

1: The Pandetorium was once a public forum where the citizenry gathered to discuss politics and elect officials. It is now a sort of speakers corner, except that many of the speakers are priests of Lisp who lace their rhetoric with just enough truth to suck the listener into the web of falsity. Whole doctrines have sprung up around the most charismatic and subtle of these orators, and passionate citizens crowd the Pandetorium daily, arguing furiously over the finer details of philosophies bred from falsehood.

False wisdom and subtle half truths hold sway in the Pandetorium

2: Chaos reigns at the Great Masquerade, during which no Unfallen may be in public without wearing a mask, and no enquiries may be made as to a persons true identity. The Masquerade is held on the hottest day of the year, when tempers and passions are at boiling point, and inevitably the feasting and merrymaking of the day gives way to anarchy come nightfall. This is the day when young Unfallen traditionally lose their virginities, and it is notorious for leaving a tidal wave of cuckolded husbands and scorned wives in it's wake. The truth is considered gauche at this festival, and a state of high alertness is required if you wish to keep an eye on a wayward spouse or disobedient offspring.

Stutter Eye, God of Voyeurs and the Deranged

1: A prison laid out like an ants nest, full of two way glass, open topped areas with viewing platforms, and arcane methods of scrying upon the inmates. The lives of the prisoners are studied and documented religiously, and whenever there is a lull in activity the priests will instigate drama, stoking the fires of conflict and changing the rules at random. Devotees sometimes volunteer for imprisonment, tasked with keeping the human show interesting for the Peeping God.

2: Devotees of Stutter Eye are notorious for carrying out pop-up theatre shows in temples to the God and other public spaces. Attendees are often drugged with mind altering hallucinogens,  before being exposed to bizarre and horrific avant-garde dramas. These shows are incredibly popular amongst Overpeakers, and young dramatists will scheme viciously to secure a casting audition.

Theatre in Overpeak is hallucinatory, intense, and reliant on audience participation.

Shut Lung, God of Drowning and Visions

1: These public baths have been converted into a series of drowning rooms. Devotees of Shut Lung come here to be ritually drowned and (hopefully) resuscitated by the priesthood. The lucky survivors report fascinating visions of their pasts and futures, insightful messages and signs from the God. The less fortunate do not.

Fingers crossed for a vision, eh?

2: The Feast of Descension is a grand festival, when the citizens of Overpeak take to the waves in their thousands. Galleys and gondolas, warships and pleasure barges, all are packed with revellers and socialites, devotees and priests, the brave and the curious. The boats set out at first light and approach the Edge, vying amongst themselves to show their bravery and recklessness as the wine begins to flow and the captains sail nearer and nearer the squalls that could drag them over the side of the world. There is feasting and entertainment and speeches from the great and the good. At sunset lots are drawn and unlucky souls from the grand boats are thrown overboard, destined to drown if they are lucky or to be sucked over the Edge still alive if they are not.

How Peakers let you know that the party has finished.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Puck

There are children in the morning...


Little cousins of the elves, the puck were born within the savage beauty of the islands fauna, elven magic mingling with jungle wildlife to give a spark of life to these tragic creatures. Elves have the advantage of limitless life to spend on their whims. Pucks will rarely live longer than thirty years. They burn brighter than any of the young races, all the more so for their proximity to the inhuman revelries of the elves.

Pucks are tiny winged terrors, barbarous and beautiful and utterly fascinated by every aspect of existence. They are prolific creators, their inland strongholds oases of stunning artwork carved out of the very stuff of the islands. It is for puck handiwork that the young races have ever risked coming to the lands of the elves.

Puck jewelley

Puck sculpture

The puck dress themselves in elaborate creations carved out of the jungles. They petrify petals and wear them as jewellery, bleach the bones of the islands vicious mega fauna with dyes of vivid colour and wield them as weapons. They stitch together human sized clothing of such detail that they are prized by the nobility the world over.

The puck are notorious for their self flagellating behaviour. Their limitless imagination for self expression does not limit itself to creative urges. They have little impulse control, and destructive and wanton behaviour pours forth when they are struck by the need to break something. They torture themselves with elaborate body modifications, mortifying the skin and adjusting their souls, remaking themselves with magic and crude surgery to better fit the self image that their fickle mind has thrown up.

Whilst it is a rare elf who leaves the islands, the puck are driven by a deep and powerful wanderlust. When traders arrive upon the shores of the island they will inevitably be leaving with a pack of puck,  regardless of whether they would like to or not. Puck are fecund and lustful beings, but they have no concept of family ties or anything properly approaching duty or commitment. Their loyalties are reserved for those that they choose.