Corpse Farmers, or Ravagetarians: a new postapocalyptic faction

green vehicle 2Where do people get their food, in the postapocalyptic wasteland? Piracy and cannibalism are fun for a while, but now and then you want to eat something other than decades-old canned dog food or your dead neighbors. Fruits and veggies, f’rinstance. Plus, if you could grow green things, you could trade them for fuel and weapons.

So, growing things is desirable, but in the postapocalyptic desert moisture and nutrients are thin on the ground. There’s one place where you can get them both in convenient lots of 100-200 lbs, however: the bodies of your fellow beings.

human skull planters

Enter the Corpse Farmers, or Ravagetarians, surely the most efficient of desert raiders. Normal scavengers will kill you and take your stuff. Cannibals will kill you, take your stuff, and eat you. Ravagetarians will kill you, take your stuff, eat the choice cuts, and use the rest of your mortal remains as mulch for their mobile gardens. But they don’t have to kill all the time – most of the other factions leave dead bodies in the wasteland on a regular basis. A good gang war or multivehicle road battle is practically a harvest.

fox skeleton with plants

The plants that survived the apocalypse are just as thrifty and adaptable as the humanoids. Seeds will germinate in the moisture of a decaying body. Roots thread their way along ribs and through vertebrae, drawing vital nutrients from the bones. Sure, it smells ghastly, but no-one ever went into farming to get away from unpleasant odors.

green vehicle

Being a mobile faction, Corpse Farmers have a particular problem keeping their plants out of the wind during high-speed road battles. Motorcyclists grow gardens in their sidecars, those with cars and pickups use trunks and beds. As vehicles get to be van-sized or larger, space is no longer a problem. The apex of Ravagetarian technology are the grotesque ‘produce trucks’, which neatly combine covered greenhouses above and flesh-rendering cauldrons below.

Human skull planter

Skulls are highly prized among Corpse Farmers as planters – especially human skulls. They hold dirt more securely than a regular flowerpot, and they’re easier to come by.

So keep an eye out for a tell-tale hint of green during your next desert chase. If the people in those vehicles don’t take your intestines for fertilizer, they might trade you some carrots. Just make sure you wash them before you eat – you know all too well where that food has been.

– – – – – – – – – –

Inspired by Maximum Road, and the seed lady in the new Mad Max movie.

Posted in Postapocalyptic, roleplaying | Leave a comment

Dinosaur Island: Across the Ogroan Frontier

Dinosaur Island sorcerors v2

Been a while since my last actual play update, and much has transpired. The PCs intercepted one of Malyar Ogroa’s emissaries, who bore a letter to Zelzennak Soth confirming that Ogroa’s army would meet up with Soth’s in two weeks to jointly invade the forest and crush Veletria Brightwing and the lizardfolk. We killed the whole convoy, of course, and made it look like simple predation by one of the local tyrannosaurs.

Now we have split the party. One group of PCs is going south to Diomedia to try and solicit aid from Zael Zotrin for the upcoming fight. The other group is sneaking into Malyar Ogroa’s territory to learn more about the disposition of his forces. The overarching plan is to gather Veletria Brightwing’s forces, possibly with help from Zael Zotrin, intercept Malyar Ogroa’s army, and destroy it before it can link up with Zelzennak Soth’s. That way we only have to fight one army at a time. If we can get Crogg Nur’s Neanderthals across the river in time, we might be able to reverse the 2-on-1 scenario (Ogroa + Soth vs Brightwing) in our favor, or at least make it into an even fight.

We haven’t been to Malyar Ogroa’s territory yet, so that means new tables.

Ogroan Frontier Encounter Table (1d20)

For when the players are exploring but haven’t attracted serious unwanted attention yet. Malyar Ogroa’s Picts do have villages and farms and so on, just not out on the frontier where the Watchtowers are located.

  1. nothing to see here, just grass and the occasional boulder or non-magical standing stone
  2. same
  3. same
  4. same
  5. ruin, empty
  6. ruin, inhabited by swarm of bats
  7. ruin, inhabited by pack of wolves
  8. ruin, inhabited by one or more Mome Raths
  9. wild animal – roll 1d4 on ‘Plains’ section of Dinosaur Island Monster Table
  10. wild animal – roll 1d8 on ‘Plains’ monsters
  11. wild animal – roll 1d12 on ‘Plains’ monsters
  12. wild animal – roll 1d20 on ‘Plains’ monsters
  13. Ogroan patrol – 6 gnoll mercenaries (see army table, below, for stats)
  14. Ogroan patrol – 12 hyenas plus controller (ditto)
  15. Ogroan patrol – 6 worgs with goblin riders (ditto)
  16. Ogroan patrol – 2 rhinos with Pict riders (ditto)
  17. Watchtower
  18. Watchtower
  19. Watchtower
  20. Watchtower

Battle Encounter Table: Malyar Ogroa’s Army (1d20)

I had some extra room on the third page so I added the Frontier Encounter Table and a short statblock for Watchtowers. PDF here: Dinosaur Island battle encounter table 2 – Malyar Ogroa’s army

Battle encounter table 2 - Malyar Ogroa's army p1

Battle encounter table 2 - Malyar Ogroa's army p2

Battle encounter table 2 - Malyar Ogroa's army p3

Posted in D&D, Dinosaur Island, roleplaying, RPG tables | 3 Comments

Denizens of Dinosaur Island: Watchtowers

Watchtowers

New Monster: Watchtower

Not every standing stone on the rolling plains of Malyar Ogroa’s territory is a Watchtower, but enough of them are that interlopers must be very cautious. The Watchtowers or Seeing Stones are the sleepless sentries of the Pict king’s domain.

Armor Class: 17

Hit Points: 126 (11d12+55)

Speed: 15 feet

STR 25 (+7)  –  DEX 4 (-3)  –  CON 20 (+5)  –  INT 6 (-2)  –  WIS 6 (-2)  –  CHA 3 (-4)

Skills: Perception +4

Damage Resistances: slashing, piercing, cold

Damage Immunities: poison, fire

Senses: passive Perception 14

Languages: none

Challenge: 8 (3900 XP)

Actions: once per turn, a Watchtower can cast either of the following spells as a 3rd-level spellcaster. Both attack spells are ‘fired’ from the Watchtower’s eye, and can only be aimed at targets within the tower’s field of view.

  • Scorching Ray, range 120 feet, 4 bolts at up to 4 targets, +4 to hit, 2d6 fire damage per bolt
  • Lightning Arrow, range 30 feet, 1 target, +4 to hit, 4d8 lightning damage. Each creature within 10 feet of the target must make a DC 15 Dex saving throw, taking 2d8 lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful save.

Intruders must be very careful about engaging the Watchtowers in combat. The magical bolts fired by the towers are visible from long distances on the plains, especially at night, and patrols of gnolls or worg-mounted goblins will be quick to investigate.

When settled on the ground, Watchtowers stand 8-16 feet tall. With some effort, the towers can rise up to stand on stumpy stone legs. Although they are slow they will trudge tirelessly after intruders, only giving up the chase if they fall at least half a mile behind, or if they lose sight of their quarry for a full minute.

Although it is not clear how or if the Watchtowers communicate, they are known to come to each other’s aid. For each minute of combat, there is a 1 in 6 change of another Watchtower approaching.

Unless it is blown to bits or knocked prone, upon dying a Watchtower will slowly settle to the ground, the light in its eye will go out, and henceforth it will resemble any other non-magical standing stone. For the first day after a Watchtower dies, its eye can be cut out – after that, the eye decays into non-magical stone and appears to have been carved into the surface of the tower in bas relief. A severed Watchtower eye is the size of a bowling ball and weighs 50 lbs.

Every watchtower has a unique, secret name inscribed on the back of its eye socket in a particularly meme-virulent dialect of Abyssal. Anyone who does not speak Abyssal who sees the glyphs in which the name is inscribed, or hears the name pronounced, must make a DC18 Wisdom save or go temporarily insane. Abyssal speakers must still make the Wisdom save but at DC12. Anyone who learns the secret name can command the Watchtower (assuming it is still alive), or use the severed eye to fire the spells described above. When used this way, the severed eye has 1d20 charges, each of which is good for one spell use. Once removed from the Watchtower, the eye does not recharge. When it runs out of charges, it turns into an inert sphere of non-magical rock and cannot be restored.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Both the visual concept and the name come from Barlowe’s Inferno by Wayne Douglas Barlowe, all I did was add stats and behavior.

Posted in D&D, Dinosaur Island, new monsters, roleplaying | 1 Comment

Denizens of Dinosaur Island: Octyrannopus and Rocketceratops

Octyrannopus

New Monster: Octyrannopus

Stats: as Tyrannosaurus, except with tentacles and a central beak.

Attacks (in addition to stomp and tail-swipe):

  • Tentacles: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., 2 targets. Hit: 15 (2d8+6) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the Octyrannopus has advantage to attack with its beak.
  • Beak: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., 1 target. Hit: 17 (2d10+6) piercing damage.

The Octyrannopus is a hunter and scavenger of the Haunted Jungle. At some point in the past a normal tyrannosaur either ate or mated with some Cthulhoid horror from beyond space and time, and now there are octyrannopods running around, being all disturbing with their slick wet tentacles and disturbingly blank giant squid eyes. They’re more cunning and more cruel than garden-variety tyrannosaurs (INT+5), and expert at attacking from ambush.

My party encountered their first Octyrannopus when they came out of their most recent dungeon. As they’d been killing guards on the way in, they’d dragged the bodies out and stashed them in the jungle so roving patrols inside the dungeon wouldn’t find their dead comrades lying around. Eventually they penetrated the inner sanctum, had a big fight with the boss monster, and solved the puzzle that was the focus and raison d’etre of the dungeon. Wounded, wealthy, and happy, they staggered out of the dungeon and BAM!, there’s ole Octyrannopus gorging itself on the dead bodies they’d hid in the woods. Thereby illustrating the Smithian principle that it’s not just where you are geographically that generates story-fuel, it’s where you are in a chain of consequences.

Rocketceratops

New Monster: Rocketceratops

Stats: as Triceratops, but with 2d6 rockets where the horns should be.

Attack (in addition to charge and trample):

  • Rockets: +3 to hit at 0-30 meters, +0 to hit at 30-100 meters, -3 to hit at 100-300 meters, fires 1d4 per turn. Hit: everyone in 15-foot radius from point of impact makes a DC 12 DEX save, taking 4d6 explosive damage on a failed save or half as much on a success. Alternatively, rockets may be used to deliver biological or chemical weapons (hallucinogens, poisons, spores, etc.).

The rockets are ignited by bio-electrical pulses. If a Rocketceratops takes more than 10 electricity or lightning damage in a single turn, roll 1d6 and consult this table:

  1. No effect.
  2. Half the remaining rockets had their ignition systems fried, and will fail to launch when triggered. (For more fun, wait until the Rocketceratops tries to launch them and then roll one at a time see if they work.)
  3. One rocket launches immediately on a random trajectory.  Roll 1d12 to determine heading (like a clock face, Rocketceratops facing 12:00) and 1d20 x 15 to determine the range in meters.
  4. Half the remaining rockets launch immediately on random trajectories. Roll heading and range for each rocket.
  5. All remaining rockets launch immediately on random trajectories. Roll heading and range for each rocket.
  6. All remaining rockets detonate immediately, dealing their normal damage to the Rocketceratops and to any creatures within the blast radius.

Unlike the Octyrannopus, which is a(n un)naturally-occurring consequence of trans-dimensional biological mingling, the Rocketceratops is a product of deliberate alchemical experimentation and genetic engineering. The horns develop normally, with hollow bony cores covered by a thick layer of keratin. Once the horns have attained full size, highly energetic compounds are deposited in the hollow spaces inside, until the horns are completely packed with what amounts to biologically-produced rocket fuel. The bony connection between each horn and the rest of the skull breaks down, and a cluster of massively enlarged neurons develops at the base of each horn. The neural clusters beneath each horn are under voluntary control – the Rocketceratops can deliberately trigger these neurons to deliver a powerful electrical pulse that ignites the rocket fuel and launches the horn. Aiming is fairly haphazard since the rockets are unguided. Rocketceratops brigades are therefore useless for pinpoint bombardments but they are effective against massed enemy formations, fortifications, and cities.

It is not uncommon to see a Rocketceratops fairly bristling with long metal pikes. Canny dino warriors know about the rockets’ vulnerability to electrical damage. They use the pikes, in conjunction with one or more chains dragging on the ground, as lightning rods to draw and dissipate bolts of electricity hurled by enemy sorcerors. For every pike sticking out from a Rocketceratops, jump up one die before rolling on the table above (i.e., 1 pike, roll d8 instead of d6, 2 pikes = d10, 3 pikes = d12, etc.), and ignore any results higher than 6.

Trying to remove a rocket horn from a live Rocketceratops is just asking to get shot in the face, but the horns can be cut away from the heads of dead animals with very little effort. The potential for PCs who steal Rocketceratops horns to accidentally set them off or detonate them is up to the DM.

– – – – – – – – – –

Gigantelopes

One third of the inspiration for the Rocketceratops came from the Mutant Dinosaur Generator at Goblin Punch, one third came from Jeff Rients and his NecroDinoMechaLaser Squad, and the final third came from the Rundihorn from Dougal Dixon’s book After Man: A Zoology of the Future – I always thought it looked like a rhino crossed with an antiaircraft battery. The font in the pictures is the Vornheim alphabet by Zak S.

Posted in Dinosaur Island, dinosaurs, new monsters, roleplaying | 13 Comments

Denizens of Dinosaur Island: the Haunted Jungle

The Haunted Jungle is basically tropical Mirkwood. The jungles have been corrupted by the dark magic of the Yuan-ti, who want to raise the Serpentine Continent – of which Dinosaur Island is the last exposed remnant – reestablish the Ophidian Dominion, and enslave or exterminate all other sentient races. Most of the monsters here are related to snakes or vines. The few mammals that survive in the Haunted Jungle, like the transparent tigers, are shifted two long steps toward the weird.

The setting in 25 words: strangling vines, oppressive humidity, poisonous flowers, rot, scales, roots, venom, army ants, stench, slime mold, howls, stone ruins, illusions, quicksand, camouflage, ambush, confusion, madness.

Haunted Jungle Monster Table

  1. winged snakes – 8+1d8
  2. vine blights – 4+1d4
  3. giant constrictor snake
  4. Alloconda (see below)
  5. giant poisonous snake
  6. transparent tiger (see below)
  7. shambling mound
  8. Yuan-ti pureblood cultists – 6+1d6

It’s a short table because our party isn’t going to be spending very long in the Haunted Jungle (or will they?). I stole the mechanic from the inside cover of A Red and Pleasant Land where you use the same table with different dice. So for the first encounter in the jungle, roll 1d4 to find the monster, then 1d6, then 1d8 – the farther in you go, the worse the things you find.

I deliberately left the Yuan-ti malison and Yuan-ti abomination off the table. My party doesn’t get to just stumble across those guys randomly in the jungle. They have to find a creepy stone ruin, suppress their instincts for self-preservation, and go inside before they get to discover what turned this jungle dark and corrupt.

Resting Alloconda

Resting Alloconda

New Monster: Alloconda

An Allosaurus with an anaconda where its head and neck should be – the theropod version of the Diplodocobra. Normally keeps the anaconda/neck coiled up on its shoulders, so it looks like a large anaconda coiled atop a headless allosaur, or a small-headed theropod wearing a fat scaly muffler.

Armor Class: 13

Hit Points: 60 (7d10+22)

Speed: 60 ft.

STR 19 (+4)  –  DEX 13 (+1)  –  CON 17 (+3)  –  INT 4 (-3)  –  WIS 12 (+1)  –  CHA 5 (-3)

Skills: Perception +5

Senses: passive Perception 15

Languages: none

Challenge: 3 (700 XP)

Actions:

  • Multiattack. The Alloconda makes two attacks per turn against different targets: a claw attack, and a bite or constrict attack.
  • Bite. +6 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.
  • Constrict. +6 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the Alloconda can’t constrict another target.
  • Claw. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) slashing damage.

The main gotcha here for parties encountering the Alloconda for the first time is the very long range over which it can strike. In D&D, as in the real world, most snakes can only strike out to 1/3 or maybe 1/2 of their total length. Because the anaconda portion of the Alloconda is sitting on a stable, 2-ton platform, it can strike a lot farther, twice the distance of a normal giant constrictor snake.

Transparent tiger

New Monster: Transparent Tiger

Borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, of course. If you haven’t read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius“, you should go do that now, it’s way better than anything on this blog.

Armor Class: 15

Hit Points: 68 (8d10+24)

Speed: 40 ft.

STR 18 (+4)  –  DEX 14 (+2)  –  CON 17 (+3)  –  INT 4 (-3)  –  WIS 12 (+1)  –  CHA 8 (-1)

Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +10

Senses: passive Perception 15

Languages: none

Challenge: 4 (1100 XP)

Keen Smell. Transparent tigers have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Transparency. Transparent tigers are visible only as dim outlines and ghostly stripes against the background. Creatures without Darkvision are at a disadvantage to detect or attack them in dim light, and creatures with Darkvision are at a disadvantage to detect or attack them in darkness.

Pounce. If a transparent tiger moves 20 ft. or more in a straight line toward a creature and hits it with a claw attack, the target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. The tiger can make one bite attack against the prone target as a bonus action.

Carried Away. Once a target has been knocked prone and bitten, the transparent tiger will attempt to drag it off into the underbrush to kill it and eat it. A tiger dragging a medium-sized victim can only move 20 ft. per round, or 30 ft. if carrying a Small victim. The victim can try to escape with a DC 14 Strength saving throw, but the tiger gets an attack of opportunity against the prone victim on a successful escape.

Actions:

  • Bite. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) piercing damage.
  • Claw. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) slashing damage.

Parties typically have to travel single-file though the dense jungle. A transparent tiger will attempt to knock down and drag off whoever is last in line. Feel free to impose Perception deficits for anyone more than 2 spots from the end to even notice the tiger is there – before Tail-End Charlie gets dragged off screaming, that is.

– – – – – – – – – –

The font in the Alloconda picture is the Vornheim alphabet by Zak S.

Posted in Borges, D&D, Dinosaur Island, new monsters, roleplaying, RPG tables | 3 Comments

One possible Infernal Machine

I participated in Scott Taylor’s Folio 1E relaunch Kickstarter, and got my hardcopy of the module in the mail a few weeks ago. It’s a nice piece of kit – you can read a more thorough review here. But it didn’t fit into my Dinosaur Island campaign so I handed it off to London. We just finished it, after about a week of playing for an hour or so in the evenings. We’ve also backed the Folio #2 module, which runs for about 2 more weeks – you can still get the first module as part of a higher-level reward package.

One of the things in the dungeon that is deliberately left up to the dungeonmaster is the location and nature of the Infernal Machine, a mysterious device that is apparently responsible for all the monsters infesting the dungeon below Roslof Keep. London was stuck for ideas so we divvied it up this way: I’d write the rules for the Infernal Machine, he’d decide where in the dungeon it would be located. Here’s what I came up with:

Infernal machine

The Infernal Machine

A crystal-powered steampunk device about the size of a phone booth. Covered in gears, levers, capacitors, tubes, bellows, wires, flywheels, and less identifiable bits. Upon close inspection some of the components seem to be biological in nature, and others give the viewer the vertiginous suggestion of landforms viewed from a great height. The machine has been running at some low background rate for weeks or years or maybe forever, pulling monsters from across the world (or multiverse) and depositing them randomly around the dungeon. Once the PCs enter the chamber it cranks into high gear, causing monsters to appear much more often and at closer proximity. Every other turn, a row of multi-colored crystals along the top of the machine flashes, and 1d4 new monsters appear at random locations in the chamber. Roll 1d12 to find out what kind:

  1. delving orc
  2. bugbear
  3. dire rat
  4. lesser salamander
  5. ghoul
  6. giant scorpion
  7. giant spider
  8. hobgoblin
  9. kobold guard
  10. ogre
  11. wight
  12. zombie

The machine has an AC of 16 (being mostly made of metal) and 100 HP. Once it’s down to 10 HP or fewer, the numbers of monster appearing drops to 1d4-1. The machine is immune to damage from magical weapons, and each time it is hit by a magical weapon 1d4 new monsters appear immediately and the 2-turns-between-monster-apparitions clock resets.

infernal machine 2

How it worked

Man, this damn thing nearly killed us. London’s barbarian, Bryn, kept wailing on it with his magical battleaxe, and we almost got overrun with monsters. Our nastiest roll generated 4 ogres, each with 59 HP – this for a party of 4 3rd-level PCs with about half as many HP apiece. A couple of those ogres managed to incapacitate both of my PCs. Fortunately, London went on a hot streak, rolling a string of natural-20 critical hits. Between those crits and a couple of rounds where the monsters (i.e., me, DMing this one room) rolled very poorly, London’s druid, Lia, was able to heal both of my PCs enough to get them back in the fight. London also figured out the Machine’s reaction to magical weapons. We managed to take down the last ogre fast enough to finish off the Machine. It was pretty darned close – none of the PCs had more than 7 hit points by the end, and my two only had 3 apiece.

Here’s what we rolled (no fudges), and killed:

  • 3 hobgoblins
  • 1 ghoul
  • 2 hobgoblins
  • 1 kobold guard
  • 2 ogres
  • 2 kobold guards
  • 4 ogres
  • 3 dire rats
  • 3 zombies
  • 2 giant spiders
  • 1 ogre

I set the XP value of the machine at 1100, equal to a challenge rating of 4 in D&D 5e, on the basis that it very nearly killed a group of 3rd-level characters with decent tactics and wardogs. Obviously you should feel free to modify the XP value of the machine – and everything else about it – if you use a version of it in your own campaign.

If you have alternative ideas for diabolical machines that PCs might run across in their adventures, let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new goodies to spring on PCs.

Posted in actual play reports, D&D, roleplaying, RPG tables | 3 Comments

Epic sandboxery, remixed

Sources

Part of the OSR/DIY ethos is building on what others have built, and I’ve taken that to heart here – almost everything in this post is borrowed from somewhere else. The basic framework is from Jeff Rients’s Epic sandboxery, with four of the six major world powers borrowed from the “very simple gameworld” example in Zak Smith’s Do you really want to know? The Six Spheres of Lubanjawi are from Rients again, the wonderfully evocative (to me, anyway) Ape Sultans are of course from S. John Ross’s Encounter Critical, and the Many-Angled Ones are Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s thinly-reskinned Cthulhoids from their Marvel cosmic comics. The abyssal ocean of blood is from James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen.

The Story

The Short, Short Version: the PCs have to find an Epic Sandboxery McGuffin – the Armor of Dawn – that can prevent the end of the world. But the parts were deliberately scattered and have now been lost for centuries or millennia.

Before their final battle with the Mother of Chaos, the Wind Dukes of Aaqa forged the Armor of Dawn for the hero Elbor Eocarr, their greatest ally on this plane. To the one who wears the complete Armor of Dawn is given the power to make and to break bridges between the worlds. After the defeat of the Mother of Chaos and the retreat of the few remaining Wind Dukes, the six pieces that make up the armor were separated by a council of powerful wizards. Those six parts were distributed to the six Great Powers: the Mountain Kings (King Evard’s distant ancestors), the Sea Queens (Queen Doralyne’s ancestors), the Lord of Death (forerunner of the Skeleton King), the Outer Dark (whence come the Many-Angled Ones), the Frost Giants, and the Ape Sultans. The idea was that the six powers would never share the pieces of the Armor of Dawn, nor would any one power let its piece fall into the hands of another, unless the world was once more faced with annihilation.

But that was long ago. These days few remember even the name of the Armor of Dawn, and among those who do, it is often dismissed as a myth. This is a problem, because the remaining Wind Dukes are planning to conquer chaos once and for all – by burning the Prime Material plane down to subatomic particles. Someone is going to have to go out there and reassemble the six pieces of the Armor of Dawn and stop them. Those pieces are:

  1. A sword, Worldbreaker, that can destroy anything it strikes (like the Lazy Gun in Ian M. Banks’ Against a Dark Background) – given  to the Sea Queens, who seek trade rather than conquest.
  2. The Shield Impenetrable, which can withstand any blow (like Captain America’s) – given to the Mountain Kings, whose strength resides in their armies and their walled cities.
  3. The Fey Boots, which allow the wearer to step between any two places (like teleporting in Jumper) – given to the Ape Sultans, whose splayed feet cannot fit inside.
  4. The Hawking Helm, which allows the wearer to send and receive thoughts across any distance – given to the Many-Angled Ones, who think not as men, but only hunger.
  5. The Vital Scale, a chestplate that can cure any wound – given to the Lord of Death, who is not alive and cannot be healed.
  6. Might’s Compass, a belt which allows the wearer to lift any load – given to the Frost Giants, who are too big to wear it, and have the least need of it anyway.

BUT

There are some wrinkles:

  • The empire of the Ape Sultans collapsed long ago, and the apes of the south are nearly extinct. The few that remain outside the jungles are bodyguards or pit-fighters in the desert cities. The jungles crawl with were-jaguars and the ruined cities are haunted by the Hounds of Tindalos. The Fey Boots are lost to history.
  • The Shield Impenetrable has passed out of all knowledge of humankind (and elf-, dwarf-, and halfling-kind to boot). It was hidden on one of the Six Spheres of Lubanjawi by the wizard Vespar, who discovered its true nature long ago and foresaw the day when other powers would contend for it.
  • The belt of strength, Might’s Compass, was built into the base of the crown of the Frost Giant king.
  • The Hawking Helm was hidden by the Outer Dark in the stomach of a living planet.
  • In the abyss below the Fortress of Death is an ocean, filled with all of the blood ever spilled in the name of peace. The Vital Scale is on an island in this ocean.
  • Accounts of the whereabouts of the sword, Worldbreaker, are many and varied. It is rumored to be on the hidden island home of the Sea Queens, from which no man has ever returned. It may have fallen into the sea when the ship it was on was sunk by pirates. A roc may have carried it to its nest on a rocky precipice at the edge of the world.

So, that ought to keep ’em busy for a while.

Posted in Armor of Dawn, Big Ideas, campaign ideas, D&D, roleplaying | Leave a comment