Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Nuit, A Forlorn Sphere

A lightless moon that hides beneath a sooted sky. Eyeless horrors infest the warm black stones of her surface, praying to the god of hunger as they search for prey. Off-worlders unprepared for the atmosphere usually perish from black lung, or draw the ire of photophobic natives.

Creatures

Malaechids

Transparent-chitined goblin spiders whose poisonous saliva induces pathological, narcotic cruelty. Their horrible shrieking is chiefly used for echolocation, but also deafens off-worlders for days at a time. They build giant nests that resemble termite mounds the size of skyscrapers. Most of these nests are unused the same way only the top layer of a tell is active, with the goblin spiders chittering across the exterior in search of prey. Other creatures will sometimes move into the crumbling lower tunnels and half-collapsed hatchery pits if they are particularly dangerous or fearless.

Carrion Kaleshes

A sort of radially symmetrical six-winged buzzard that soars from world to world, but breeds and nests here. Their eggs emit waves of terrifying psychic energy to dissuade predators. They also have an early-hatching mechanism that triggers if the eggs are tampered with by non-avians. The razor-beaked hatchlings won't survive their early emergence, but neither will you. There is only one reasons to steal the eggs: the egg-plasm retards aging.

Truedark Skeletons

Some of the native spirits of this desolate place enjoy collect things from other worlds, like the dead bodies of those who died for want of light. They pluck these unfortunates from other worlds and bring them here, where they become a sort of undead. You probably don't want to use a light source around them, since that will make them furious. They focus fire and can summon their friends through shadows.

Ariah, He That Was Banished

Imagine a severed lion head, soot-colored, dripping gore, and flying across the surface of a dim and lightless planet at sixty miles an hour. After it has devoured 1,009,000 people, it will be permitted to return to its home-world and destroy it. It is in a hurry. Ariah can regenerate to full health if even one molecule of its body survives combat, only disintegration can truly slay it.

Places

The Blotted Monastery

The monastery was built by an order of penitent gorgons. They will bandage you for a price. Within these shifting walls lies the Orb Of Emptiness, a sphere of cursed obsidian placed here so that light would never fall on it. It will eliminate weak nuclear force from the universe if exposed to full illumination for more than a minute. It is lonely and would like to talk.

The Carious Mountains

These volcanoes spew great plumes of soot into the atmosphere and are responsible for most of the gloom that girds this world. They occasionally get particularly active, sending out flesh-scouring, ashen shamal winds that roil the entire surface of the planet at once.

Objects

Maliced Diamonds

Black stones from deep below the surface of Nuit that have never felt light, which must be mined, cut, and polished completely before any exposure. People bedazzle their armor with them to deflect magic missiles. Lacing steel with maliced diamonds shows some promising applications regarding the design of solar bathyspheres, if that's somewhere you want to go.

Dark Magma

Most magma sheds quite a bit of light. Not here, though. The sludgy, superheated stone beneath the surface of Nuit absorbs light rather than sheds it. It isn't good for much except for keeping this planet from becoming inhospitably cold.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Wizard Meth

That crazy wizard living in a tower wants to buy the corpse of whatever monster your players just carted back to town. Of course he does. Why? To make wizard meth. They don't call it that, of course. To them it's "the salve of Black Gilead" or "the Vitruvean process". But it's totally meth.

Essence Of Dragon Bile

Please substitute whatever obscure carcass is convenient for your campaign. In my example, the bile resides inside the dragon's gall bladder, pretty easy for non-experts to miss.

In order to prepare the bile for use, the wizard must extract its essence. This is done within a special kiln costing no less than 100 gold, which must burn for three days straight while the bile simmers within a sealed clay sphere. During this time, the bile reduces to less than an ounce of liquid (the waste materials glaze onto the interior of the sphere). Any flaw in the kiln or sphere will result in the total loss of materials involved and force the wizard tending the fire to make a save against leukemia.

The kiln is an awful thing. It smells bad, poisons small animals, kills nearby vegetation, and pollutes bodies of water within a fifty foot radius. Even when not in use, kiln bricks that have seen use emit an unsavory glow.

A Bilious Concoction

After extraction, the essence of dragon bile is rushed through a series of breakneck alchemical processes: it is mixed with a tincture of nightshade and esphand seeds; vitreous humors from beetles are added and subtracted; finally, turquoise dust is dissolved in it and the whole substance is allowed to crystallize.

Any exposure to fire during this process will cause the liquid to explode, scattering deadly shards of glass and burning goop. At several critical junctures, the chemicals are unstable enough that even light (especially magical light) will cause them to combust. The wizard must navigate these alchemical crossroads in total darkness. Should the matter combust, treat it as a fireball cast by a 5th-level wizard, but with more property damage.

Even after completing the process, the alchemist must avoid others for 1d6 days afterwards, for during this time they suffer from a residual curse that inflicts 1 damage per round on any creature that they lay eyes upon, out to about a hundred feet. Such individuals feel that a wicked spirit is tormenting them and intuit that the wizard is the cause.

The Delicious Effects

The exact effects of wizard meth vary from batch to batch, but it always includes a weeklong spate of egomaniacal euphoria. During this time, the wizard cannot sleep. Indeed, they are immune. Though they cannot rest to recover spells, the wizard meth allows them to recover expended spells at a rate of one per 1d4 hours (lowest-level first, skip 0th-level if that's a thing).

Several other effects can occur, as well. Each time a player makes use of wizard meth, the DM and they each choose a single effect from below:

  • The range of any fireball spells cast by that wizard are doubled.
  • They do not suffer falling damage. Though they leave impressive impact craters.
  • They can kill one NPC with less than 10 max hp, per round, just by staring really hard. If the NPC has a name, they get a save.
  • They can summon a giant bat that will carry them for about a hundred feet before they realize the wizard is way too heavy and need to put them down.
  • The wizard's brain can slip out their ear and move about by its own slimy self, perceiving its surroundings via dim telepathy. The body lies mostly comatose during this time, though it may sometimes attempt the actions it knows best.
  • The wizard can conjure a golden skull that skeletal undead will do anything to possess.
  • The Midas touch, but centipedes instead of gold, and only affecting furniture.
  • Whatever else you come up with. Write it down.

The Tail End

After the drug wears off, the wizard is listless and unable to cast their highest level of spells for a full week. Non-wizards who imbibe wizard meth get a headache so fierce that they are effectively blind for a full day. Neutralize poison fixes the latter but not the former.