Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Village of Baegsveit

The Village of Baegsveit

A crossroads village, commanded by a stout stone tower.  The village population is comprised of approximately 80% human and 20% gnome.  The gnomes are natives of these parts, and hold a slight animosity toward the big-un's who built the trade road and tower through their lands. However, the industrious gnomes have capitalized on the humans' presence, establishing a number of shops in the settlement.

The stone tower overlooks the junction of the local trade road to the south and east, and is home to garrison, commander, etc.  A small stone blockhouse watches the bridge.  The bridge is rigged to collapse by removal of a series of linked lynch pins in the event of a significant hostile force or hazard.

Greta Salel, the tower commander, was granted a charter of land in the area in exchange for her past service campaigning (5th level fighter, 23 HP, Chain and shield (AC 4/15), heavy crossbow, Axe +1, 269 gp, jeweled dagger (300 gp), gold and topaz brooch (200 gp), potion of cure light wounds). She owns a fat mastiff war dog ('Arrowmagnet' 10 HP, AC 7/12, Atk: Bite 2d4).

She commands a small force that mans the garrison and patrols east and south:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

RPG Blog Carnival - Gates and Portals - 2

A second brief meditation on this month's Blog Carnival - Gates and Portals - hosted by Phil over at Tales of a GM...

While many folks have been envisioning a myriad of gates and guards and devices for opening and closing of portals, both magical and mundane, let's take a quick look at wards...

And, for a bit of inspiration, how about a story perhaps familiar to many of us. The Passover.

(Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish or any sort of Biblical scholar. I know the Passover via the book of Exodus (and that movie with the former head of the NRA), so if I get anything incorrect, please feel free to correct me. Additionally, I don't think that the stories and mythologies of the Bible get a lot of Appendix N love...)

Most familiarly, the Passover is associated with the 10th Plague brought upon the Egyptians during Moses' petitions to free the Israelites.  To recall, any home not properly warded would be visited by the Angel of Death, who would take the life of firstborn children.  Any warded home would be 'passed over' and left unmolested.

Here is the evocative scene from 'The Prince of Egypt'...

The ritual and 'material components' of the warding are very specific:  "3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste-- it is the LORD'S Passover.…"

According to my half-vast research of wikipedia and other such hallowed sources, the Passover actually predates the Exodus as a springtime warding or protection rite, and   the prescription includes using a hyssop bough for painting the blood onto the lintel.

Not having read this since teen Bible study, something interesting that I hadn't noted before is that the blood is both spread on the lintel, and consumed (along with the meat of the sacrificial lamb), thus extending or fortifying the protection from the portal to the inhabitant as well, as sort of redundancy (or perhaps an early form of 2-step authentication).

Now, this isn't a unique traditional warding by any stretch of the imagination - many cultures have wards of one sort or another.

A quick summary - a sacrificial animal meeting particular criteria, its blood both spread on the door lintel and consumed, and its meat cooked in a specific way and consumed with accompanying foodstuffs, all while wearing your travelling clothes.  Oh yeah, and don't go outside...

So to create some veracity in a game/story environment, perhaps add the necessity of collecting rare components or knowledge as prerequisites for the ward itself... Building tension and time-pressure before the approach of a physical, magical, or spiritual threat could create some excellent game moments or opportunities. Likewise, it can add to the living nature of the cultures or systems in place in the game world.

"Ok, Dingwall, here's what you need to do to protect your castle from the Wight-bear.  Take the bark from the foo-tree collected under the gibbous moon, mash it into a poultice with some tapioca using a rubber-tipped arrow. Wipe it on the portcullis with a Backscratcher +1, and dab the rest under your armpits, as well as those of everyone in your household.  Eat of the Sacred Chicken Pot Pie of Swänsön.  Oh yeah, all while wearing a thneed."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

RPG Blog Carnival, Gates...

Phil at Tales of a GM is hosting this month's Carnival, themed 'Gates & Portals'

I had a bit of an alien incursion scenario - mentioned here, Let's flesh it out a bit...

Standing Stones of Leth:

The stones are scattered throughout the Lowlands.  Their original masons and erectors are a mystery, and the stones themselves are not native to the country, appearing to have been transported a great distance.  Scarred and exfoliated by lightning strikes, these stones glow pale blue under a full moon.

In spite of their allochthonous and mysterious origin, several settlements have grown up around the stones in the belief that they provide some sort of protection or good fortune.  Indeed, gardens and orchards appear to grow more verdantly in the vicinity of these stones.

The stones were placed for more alien reasons, to allow entry into this world by ephemeral shades. Lightning strikes upon the stones provide enough impetus to temporarily open a gateway to a dimension of incorporeal beings, the Shades of Leth. During a storm, 1d6 shades will pass through these temporary gates into our world.
However, a Shade of Leth can not survive in this plane for more than four hours without finding a 'vessel' - an intelligent host. The shades will take advantage of the surrounding village or thorpe and possess the first humans they encounter.

A possessed human will have the blue glow of the stones in their eyes.  A captured vessel is 'ridden' by the shade in its inscrutable mission.  Anyone possessed in such a way will likely be exhausted and spent by a shade, requiring replacement every three to five days, wracked by dehydration and shock. An abandoned body, if still alive, will be mindless and hopeless for revivification.

Shade of Leth: 5HD, AC0 (AC2 if possessing human), Atk: 1d6+1, touch, (save or 1 CON loss, permanent), not undead, incorporeal resistances (resistances transfer to the possessed body), destroying the shade also kills the host body. Save vs death (or equivalent) is required to avoid possession (CON bonuses apply). A shade loses 1HD per hour outside of a host, dissipating after four hours.

The shades, once crossed over into this world, attempt to convene upon a central location in the Lowlands - a massive, buried hearth stone of the same composition as the standing stones.  When sufficient shades have arrived, the stone will arise, allowing not only shades, but their home dimension to spill through, wracking the world in unreality and making it a hospitable colony for the shades.

So far, insufficient simultaneous lightning strikes have occurred to allow a critical mass of shades through to activate the core stone.  However, there is rumor of misled or manipulated apocalypse cults intending to artificially create simultaneous lighting storms in the stones' vicinity...