Friday, November 2, 2018

_______-____ the Everliving!

The Mummy-Sorcerer Lich Variant

Features:

Polyhedron-shaped stone fastness containing its sarcophagus and power-source. Determine polyhedral shape randomly. 33% chance the fastness is floating 3d20 yards in the air (fastness can be piloted from interior control room).

Can magically increase its STR and CON to 20 by spending 35 HP. The change will last until the mummy-sorcerer is reduced to 50 HP or less.

Remnant of an ancient empire that revered [1d6]: (1) cats, (2) dogs, (3) crocodiles, (4) snakes, (5) displacer beasts, (6) night-gaunts. Will usually have a special servitor with 8 HD of the determined type that is totally loyal (fearless morale).

Encounters:

Ejecting magical waste from its floating fastness near a town or in an important water source or waterway.

The shadowy figure behind a clandestine operation to kidnap a local noble or monarch and replace them with one of its shape-changing puppets.

Engaged in a small land war with a traditional lich. Purely about territory and resources.

Felling a sacred or otherwise significant forest to feed the fires of its engines.

Digging a massive trench that exposes part of the Underworld. The massive, dripping carcass of a purple worm is being hoisted by a crane being operated by an ogre supplicant (INT 12).

[Image: Mumm-Ra and Ma-Mutt]


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chaos and Law (2)

Death is a token of Law's love for living things.

...

Law is the first Autocthon. In the scriptures of Yeredwan, Law emerges from the bloated womb of Chaos into the starless, sterile expanse that would become the Multiverse.

The Lords of Change are Her other offspring, and they are many. Yeredwan credits the existence of no less a number than nine-hundred-ninety-nine, though others have come to different god-countings. The matter is disputed among the wise. All solutions to the question are complicated by the endless copulating that occurs among the nobility of Change, who generate with great fecundity. In some cases these progeny merge with their forebears or produce many children of their own. .

...

Law is sometimes characterized as a unity of doctrine, a thinking power at one with its thoughts. Only reluctantly does it divide this placid consciousness into lesser outgrowths, who are called the Lords of Hegemony.

...

Because all matter is contaminated with Chaos, there is some of it in the composition of all things. Matter was an invention of Law, wrought during the First Aeon from raw Chaos-stuff alloyed with Law's liquid thoughts.

(Image: Druillet)


Chaos and Law (1)

Chaos and Law seek integration into a state of non-Eternity.

As individual forces they exist forever.

Left to its own devices Law takes on forms of mechanical purity, perpetual engines that power the organizing patterns of the Multiverse.

Outside, between, seeping through Law, Chaos rages back and forth, from grotesque eidolons into abject formlessness and back again. A no-place where coherent thought dissolves into a violent dream that can never be recalled or realized, only experienced endlessly.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Salvage (Part 1)

In the ruins of the planet Loke, a world whose last war smeared it across the heavens for several parsecs, I came upon the house of an old wizard. My boat's sensory organs had perceived his homely cottage amongst a dense drifting vapor of debris and wreckage.

The place was located in a region barely illuminated by the gloaming of the system's geriatric sun. Loke still orbits the old lady faithfully in patterns that become steadily more predictable as time goes by.

It is not unknown for enterprising hermits to establish domiciles in such places, gathering tiny atmospheres and regenerating dead plantlife to beautify makeshift estates. Wizards tend to have strange ideas about retirement or whatever this phase in their life cycles is supposed to be called.

The boat was getting particularly low on refined quanta, having nearly exhausted the sea-sized supply I purchased her back at D Station. It had been months since we had come across a settlement, and the last one had been a real ghost town. In its heyday probably a booming little burg enriched by local mining, but now a worthless antique exhibit, all its useful loot plundered ages ago. Of course there had been no fuel chunks of any sort. Those are always the first things to disappear when a boom town goes broke.

I didn't walk away empty-handed though. While I was navigating the partially collapsed cellar of an old timey burger joint, I came across the carapace of a late 28th Century autonid. Practically in mint shape, which is really beyond hope for a collector. Minimal markings on its chassis, maybe a little tampering evident around its operator panel -- the thing was valuable, that was clear. Back at D Station a bot like this could get you a small fortune at the mech market. The fur-coated bastards would clog their robotic colostomies for the chance to take it off your hands. Inevitably it would find its way into the collection of some sultan of the Corporate Rim. Well-dusted but forgotten.

I called down the crawlers and they dragged it up to the surface with minimal whining, though I noticed that the tertiary unit was leaking fluid again. Minor issue, but the odor -- something akin to artificial flowers mingled with hot garbage -- always manages to creep into my suit's air filter.

Whether or not the bot was functional was a critical factor in its value, so I spent the next week in the boat's diagnostic lab trying to wake it up. Failing that, I might at least determine why it would not wake. This proved to be about as difficult as I expected. I had very little data on units from this bot's time period. The record was only partially complete, and I lacked modern renditions of its schematics. I tried for a while though and managed to partially disassemble its central cognator before throwing in the towel. In truth my back was aching from sleeping in front of projection banks while perched on the lab toilet.

Thus finding this isolated wizard-hovel in the middle of nothing seemed like a blessing from the space gods. I had food stores aplenty to barter for some refined quanta, and if this coot (I assumed he was old, like a proper wizard) could unravel the mystery of whether my salvaged bot could still recite its multiplication tables, then I had really done something to please Lady Luck, bless her little black heart.

I set down the boat near the edge of an orchard, where several spider-legged pickers surveyed me with their needle optics and skittered away toward their master's monolith-like house that rested several hundred yards in the distance. In their haste they dropped their fruit baskets and several of the lumpy yellow things rolled toward me. The sensors on my glove told me their innards were gel-like and sickly sweet. I'd never seen sugar molecules so byzantine in structure.

I followed the pickers at a slow lope and took in the full scope of the brutalist structure before me. It looked like an ugly block of concrete nestled in a grove of redwood-sized ferns. I couldn't see any windows, just a slightly-decayed blue-gray rectangle with rounded edges. Pale pink smoke emerged from somewhere near the top, coiling playfully in the windless midget-atmosphere. I saw the pickers clatter through a low door that gaped and then quickly receded.

When I came within stone's throw of the wizard's manse, a surge of gravity swept past my knees. I buckled and fell on my face as the invisible wave continued to batter me. A metallic voice rang out.

"State your business, interloper. You tresspass on the land of Uganid," it stated. I sensed animosity, though my helmet registered docility. It was usually mistaken in situations like this.

Momentarily the gravity calmed and I was able to stand again. I wiped the smashed yellow fruit off the front of my chest console and performed the standard somatic expression of universal brotherhood before addressing my host.

"Inestimable power of this lonesome reach, I come to request your hospitality," I stated while simultaneously jetting a warm steam of genuflecting pheromones from my chemical flaps. I saw now that the voice had emerged from a massive face that had formed on the stone house's surface. The countenance was humanoid though vaguely reptilian. Several sets of eyes had fixed themselves upon me and were staring with snake-like intensity. It spoke again.

"Uganid will supply you with hospitality according to the quality of goods you carry." This was standard practice in these far-flung regions, and I could hardly argue for better treatment.

As I approached the bare surface of Uganid's fastness, the wall reached to envelope me with teeth like packing foam, and I was gently masticated into a purple-walled foyer. Two humanoids with complimentary sex organs in the archaic style stepped around a wooden podium to greet me. Each took one of my gloved hands and proceeded to walk me toward a yellow door.

The one with the fulsome chest paps turned to me. "Is this the current style of clothing? None of the transmissions reach us out here."

I was about to answer when the other one interjected, "Recall what happened the last time you interrogated a guest, Gynon."

"My intellect is curious unlike yours, brother," she replied and stuck her nose in the air in a somatic expression I have witnessed on ancient films. She was interesting to behold, full of such long-dead expressions. Their bodies were vigorous and athletic and both exuded a thick misting of pheromones from their primitive external glands. Fascinating, but they stunk like zoo animals. I toggled off the odor receptors on my helmet.

The pair lead me to a longish and narrow atrium where sheets of crystalline water slid noiselessly into small circular pools. These latter were black as space. Uganid was perched on an unclassifiable piece of wooden furniture, his prismatic lower half spread to display its peacock-like scaling while his humanoid upper half slurped absently at a plate of steaming shellfish. He grasped a jeweled goblet in one of his delicately clawed hands, watching me with his array of eyes from above the rim as he took a deep quaff.

Uganid was not particularly interested in my predicament until I mentioned that I carried a cache of exotic meats on my boat. At this his whole body perked into full activity and a ripple of electricity passed along his rainbow undercarriage. The archaic humanoids looked bored. The one equipped with the phallus began urinating absent-mindedly in one of the wells. Gynon sneezed.

The transaction was to my liking. I was able to unload some rancid flesh from my boat's pantry in exchange for several chunks of refined quanta with just a modicum of bickering over the perceived rightness of my meatstuffs. With this accomplished I turned the salvaged bot over to Uganid.

"Rudimentary," scoffed the wizard, "like most human garbage." He flicked back the operator panel and licked his lipless muzzle. A miniature display flickered into view just above the panel. I watched as Uganid shuffled through the web of amber light with his long forefingers, tap-scratching a weird dance across its non-surface.

The bot shuddered. I heard fans creak into action. "I think we have it now," Uganid opined. Gynon and her brother looked alarmed.

From somewhere behind its optics, lights flickered, and the bot swung its upper torso into the air. Its sensors frantically shaped up the environment, sampling everything. Speech patterns erupted from the fabric grille on its chest, spitting out serial numbers and identity markers that meant absolutely nothing to its audience.

Lady Luck was being absurdly generous today. I expressed my gratitude to the wizard and began making ready my departure. I had enough fuel now to get me to Anchor Plaza, roughly halfway back to Station D, where I could unload this salvage at fullest market value.

END PART 1

Image by Chaotic Atmospheres

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Of Bortothelo

Bortothelo [Hiddengarde] is situated forthway and crossers to the pale milky starflow of the Cosmic River. It is a ruinous city-planet orbiting the epileptic sun called Mote, a defunct star that burns the skin a mottled canary yellow. The place has temporal confluence with many planes and may be accessed through the ancient networks of the Elder Archaics.*

Currently occupied by scattered gangs of rat-men magic-users, abhuman fetish-mongers, hideous elves and their questionable offspring, and long-armed goblin snatchers and hobo-burglars, Bortothelo was built in a time beyond memory, when the godlets stalked the worlds in raiment of naked flesh. Its primary architecture is studded with brutalist towers that rise like decaying fangs, occasionally dropping their crumbling upper masonry onto the serpentines of streets far below them. Many of these structures stand empty, or largely so, due to the inhospitable nature of their interiors,  where it is said many monstrous fungi bloom thick as darkness, befouling the air.

A few towers, like Jorn's Tooth, are hives of activity where the more powerful gangs, cabals, conclaves and syndicates conduct their business. These enterprises rely on the city's access to an unknown number of worlds (the "potshards" in the local dialect) to operate.

All those who dwell in Bortothelo for three consecutive blinks of the Mote-star will begin to have an unquenchable thirst for the ichor of the chained godling Nyctalion, He who is imprisoned in the hollow heart of the city-planet that lies below their feet. Nyctalion's blood is a blue nostalgium for a divine place-that-never-was, and mortals who consume it will recall that non-place's surreal beauty and be transported to a state of bliss for a short period. None who stay in Bortothelo will be capable of leaving by their own will, though the practice of exile is common.

The supply of Blue Ichor is controlled by a greedy clan of warty dwarfs called the Dungbeards (due to their inordinate fondness for the guano of bats -- they have mastered its properties). These reprobates crafted Nyctalion's bonds and muzzle from a metal they call Scorn, jet black and lusterless and harder than Adamant. Their unassailable dwelling is the Aortic Fortress where they have squatted for untold blinks of the Mote's eye, having murdered or imprisoned all of its former occupants long ago. The Dungbeards dress and eat extravagantly, flaunting their wealth and power like grotesque fops when they travel to the surface. They employ a small army of servants, veritable zombies to the Ichor, slaves to the thirst for it.





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*Elder Archaics: That long-dead race of proto-reptile travelers who still journey along the Cosmic River in their mobile sky-necropolis, the Ossuary.