Wednesday, October 9, 2019

OSR: Durama

The Handsome Men are a democratic society.  They have no central leadership, but instead are split into competing confederations of where all within pursue their own goals and desires.  The only time these confederations fully band together is when they are faced with an outside threat, otherwise the Handsome Men act in their own self-interest, within their confederations and without.

The Handsome Men claim to have created a society without rulers, but this is not true.  The Handsome Society has elites, it's just that those elites do not exercise the traditional duties of elites.  They do not shepherd their people but instead feign equality with them.  Power in the Handsome Society is hidden, yet still makes its presence known.  The Handsome Society is held together through an iron-clad group consensus and strict group-think.  There are very clear borders of what is acceptable thought and what is not.

The Handsome Men are to always conduct themselves with grace and civility and are to never acknowledge anything evil, ugly or unsavory.  The lower parts of society must follow these standards when the Handsome Men are nearby, but when they are gone, they can be gross and unpleasant as they like.  They have fewer rights, but this is one of the few prerogatives they are permitted.  The Handsome Men do not share this privilege.  They are prohibited from every relaxing their guard, except on the rarest of occasions.  They must continually be Handsome. 

Perhaps the reason why so many Handsome Men are a little mad is because even they cannot withstand that much social pressure
forever.  Their peculiarities, obsessions, bizarre fixations even their temper tantrums and dark appetite for violence are all coping mechanisms to help them endure atop the hierarchical prison they have locked themselves inside.

But in every system, there will be those who reject that system to go their own way.  These are the Durama.

                                                         by astri-lohne

The Durama are those Handsome Men who reject their society's norms and strike out on their own to make their own lives.  These Durama usually have to travel a long way to find a safe haven, as they must escape the Handsome Men, they cannot join another existing society which will almost certainly not approve of their lifestyle and they cannot just head into the wilderness, as the Folk will not tolerate any intrusion into the wilderness, especially if it is by a Handsome Man, even one that has rejected some of their society's presuppositions and beliefs.  Perhaps it is no surprise that many of the Durama end up in the Veins of the Earth.  These aren't the only place they end up, but it is the most common.

So why did this particular Durama end up where they are?

1d6
1- Liberal.  He thought that the system of racial hierarchy was unjust and should be reformed.  He likely tried to change the system from within at first and after the tensions ramped up sufficiently, likely had to avoid at least one assassination attempt.  In the end, he had to flee for his life.
2- Deviant.  She thought that the Handsome Society's mores on some particular issue were unjust or immoral and rebelled against them.  She was summarily encouraged to stop and when she refused, she would have chastised repeatedly, until eventually she either left of her own accord or was expelled.  But nowhere could she find safe refuge but here. 
3- Expatriate.  He was a Handsome Man who willingly left.  Maybe he just found the Handsome Society stifling, or maybe he saw opportunities elsewhere.  Regardless, one night he packed up and left, never to be seen again.
4- Exile.  She was thrown out of Handsome Society.  She committed some crime that exile to the countryside or the frontier would not be a sufficient punishment.  She was instead banned from the the lands of the Handsome Men forever and ordered never to return, upon penalty of death.  It was a threat that she was right to take seriously.
5- Traitor.  Maybe he disliked something about his Society so he sought to change it through any means necessary, or maybe he decided that his society was evil and wanted to destroy it.  Regardless, he definitely left of his own accord, probably out of fear for his life.
6- Dangerous.  She was a screwball, a degenerate, a deceiver or something worse.  Something just wasn't quite right with her. Even with the broad latitude granted to the Handsome Men and the large amount of eccentricity from them that will be tolerated, she still overstepped the bounds.  She likely left willingly, either because she didn't want to face the consequences of her action or because she wanted to be able to continue her dangerous behavior in a new environment. 

What are they like?

The Durama generally think of themselves as righteous, rebelling against a system that is equal parts stupid and immoral.  Yet the Handsome Men, and the Durama, for all their glory, are still shaped by the culture they once inhabited.  So most Durama do not actually end up living that differently than Handsome Men, instead they practice a type of anticonformity, following the inverse, or perceived inverse of what the Handsome Men were.  Instead of constantly keeping themselves slick, genteel and beautiful they revel in gross, "icky" or disgusting things.  They were purposely ugly clothes and use their natural magicks to modify their bodies to give themselves deformities, scars or strange appendages.  And while they think of themselves as righteous, they take on the iconography of villains from the myths and stories of the Handsome Men to scare and frighten.  And in those stories, the villain is always less attractive, their physical imperfection outward evidence of their internal faults. 

Also, in general, the Durama do reject most of the folkways of the Handsome Men.  They speak plainly and do not bury the meaning of their speech in euphemisms and endlessly courtesy, they are okay with not always appearing beautiful and while they still use the Handsome Man combat technique of changing into their War Face, ie transforming their bodies into monstrous forms with magic, they don't conceal this fact from others, but do it right in front of people.  The reason why the Handsome Men hide while doing this is because its quite terrible to look at, being both terrifying and disgusting.  It is also extremely painful- for you. 

                                                      by Z-GrimV

What do they look like?

Roll on the table below to see what a particular Durama looks like.

1d20
1- He is covered in glossy fur, though he still has hair on top of his head.  He walks around mostly naked, except for a loincloth.
2- She has curling ram horns.
3- He is covered in fine scales that are flesh-colored and almost indistinguishable from flesh at a distance.
4- She has a tail.  It is 1d4 [1= Long and furry, can be used to grab things; 2= Made of corded muscle, whips people who come up behind her; 3= Thick and covered in overlapping scales, hits like a mace; 4= Thin, lightning quick and tipped with a stinger.]
5- He has 1d4 extra arms.
6- She has razor sharp claws emerging from the tips of her fingertips and from her toes.
7- He has 1d6 extra eyes scattered across his body.
8- She has long, floppy ears.
9- He has potruding teeth that stick out of his mouth.
10- She has bioluminescent skin that can glow various colors, like a comb jellyfish.  She can also switch her luminscence on and off at will.
11- He has a long, barbed tongue.  His throat bulges like a frog's, but when he wishes he can project his tongue out with a force of a stone flung from a sling.  Try not to get hit by it, or he'll put your eye out.
12- She is very alluring at first, but if you look under her skirt, you will see that she has a man's "equipment" as well.  And yes, her's is longer than yours. 
13- He has a large pair of breasts.  If you want to apply this option to a woman instead, she has 1d4 additional breasts besides her first pair.
14- He is totally hairless and utterly pale, white as a blind cave fish.
15- She is very muscular, but her muscles seem to twist and writhe underneath her skin like they're snakes.
16- He has bone blades potruding from various points on his body, namely his wrists, knees, elbows and on the back of his ankles.
17- She has sections of her body where her bones are exposed to the air.
18- His skin is partially translucent.  If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of what is inside him- though it doesn't resemble the innards of any corpse you've ever seen.
19- She has froglike feet and hands.  Can she stick to walls.  Yes, definitely.
20- His skin bubbles and flows like dripping wax or soda from a recently opened can.  Whenever he gets agitated it bubbles more rapidly, bits of him occasionally even breaking off and floating around the room as bubbles. 

What does this Durama transform into to fight?  What is his War Face?

1d6
1- A great, glistening white snake's lower half, with a humanoid upper body.  The humanoid torso has no head though, just a gaping maw in its place.
2- A dark shape, a flash of eye-shine, then it pounces.  The height of a great ape but skinnier, narrower, its fur a blue so dark it is almost black, its face covered in a dozen dark-piercing eyes.
3- A centipedal mass, with dozens of legs emerging from all sides of its torso.  Around its mouth it has a cone of antlers growing from its neck.
4- An enormous insect looking thing, with a hard shell, metallic claws on the end of its legs and the ability to fire blistering rays from its eyes.
5- A skeleton surrounded by glowing, transparent flesh.
6- A giant with rubbery, translucent green flesh.  The giant can transform from a solid to a liquid and back again.

And no, I'm not coming up with 20 of these things.  Use those creative faculties of yours if you need more- and if your players end up irritating more than six Durama, you'll definitely need it.

                                           by miniatureowl from tumblr.com


Who does this Durama rule over?

The Heinous:

These are the Durama equivalent of Elfmen.  Instead of mortals, perfected to be made into little copies of the Handsome Men, each one is hideous and monstrous, a unique work of macabre art, mutilated and altered until they were wonderful in their masters eyes.  Insane and broken, worshiping their masters and trembling with fear once they have gone.  When portraying them, remember that the Heinous should be as pathetic as they are monstrous.

1d6
1- Lily the Cat.  She's a Heinous with cat ears, a slit-mouth smile and dozens of needle teeth crowding her mouth.  Thin, delicate vines wrapped in thorns wind tight around her arms, thighs and torso, constantly piercing her flesh.  She stinks of blood and roses.  Her eyes blaze like gems in torch-light.  She is giggly and constantly upbeat, though she ruthlessly mocks anyone who she suspects or sees acting in a cowardly manner.  She is a masochist.  She is also secretly a coward, though she does not fear the blade or the rod.  She fears the fact that maybe she isn't the perfect little slave she portrays herself as- that maybe there is some hope for her yet.  The idea of someone caring about her, even loving her, it would send her into a rage or into the deepest despair.
2- Mary O'nette.  She's a Heinous with strings tied to her wrists, ankles and head.  The last one is tight, making ehr voice wheezing and her breathing labored.  She has stitches in her flesh, connecting her clothes to her body and her jaw flaps open and closed in a grotesque parody of speech.  She doesn't seem to speak in the normal way, her tongue never moves and her lips never move from the rictus grin she has when her mouth is closed.  The strings attached to her are always vertical, as if she is suspended from wires and being manipulated by an unseen puppeteer, hiding just out of sight.
3- Hunda.  She prefers to be called Bitch, but only when her Master is not around.  She has her lower body removed and replaced with the body of a dog, minus the head.  She has a dog's ears and her face has been stretched out to resemble something like a dog's muzzle.  She constantly whines at the pain, but doesn't dare touch her waist or face.  She's afraid if she scratches them, the stitches might come out. 
4- Li'l Beak.  This Heinous conceals his face behind a plague doctor's mask, staring out through narrow eye-slits.  He has vestigal wings stapled to his back, though he definitely cannot fly with them.  His bones are delicate and his flesh is stretched over his wings so he is oh, so careful, constantly wincing as if he is walking across hot sand in bare feet.
5- Jothu.  This Heinous has a permanent smile and a jolly crown, little bells tinkling to announce his presence.  He makes no sound but for his bells and a soft, pained laughter.  If you turn your light upon him, you will see his small, disfigured eyes and the melted metal of his crown, bonded to him when it was molten and now can never be removed.  You will see where it burned him, where his flesh seared like meat on a spit.  You might feel sorry for him at that point.  You should not. 
6- Rong.  Rong wasn't originally a Heinous.  He was once an Elfman, but the methods the Handsome Men use, while they make you beautiful, they leave you riddled with cancers and a greviously shortened lifespan.  Rong was desperate- he didn't want to die.  When he happened upon a Durama, he begged for help, said he'd do anything.  He did exactly that and the Durama agreed to help him.  These days, Rong is more cancer than man, a disfigured, deformed creature.  He'd like nothing more than to be able to die, but if he does that, it will mean all his sins were for nothing.  He hates that thought almost as much as himself.  So he lives- a shell of his former self.  He will weep when he attacks you and beg your forgiveness as he tries to kill you.

Swords of the Durama
1d8
1- Squidman Swords.  They are pale and white, their pallid bodies smeared with large patches of grey, black or blue.  They wield pairs of shortswords and fight with a dirty, brawling style, stabbing and feinting with terrible speed.  Their fleshy bodies are almost boneless, granting them longer reach and the ability to whip their arms through the air like whips.  Unfortunately, they're also quite fragile.  Tactic: Stab, then retreat.  Avoid being grabbed or trapped in a confined area for any reason.
2- Toad/Frogman Assassins.  If they were taken from the surface, their hides are pale and covered in numerous scrapes and cuts.  They wear almost nothing but for loinclothes and leather harnesses.  They blink at you with liquid eyes, silently begging to be set free, but they dare not say the world.  If they were born below they are absinthe green or brown-black, with ghostly bellies and eyes of cornflower blue or dazzling ruby red.  The latter kind do not beg for release, but croak through their smiles as they advance, daggers clenched in broad, webbed hands.  Tactic: Ambush by sticking to walls or ceiling, drop down or leap up out of the dark.  If there is water nearby, use it.
3- Slugling Spearmen.  Sluglings are adapted surprisingly well to an underground world.  They love the damp and the omnipresent warmth and even if their eyes aren't that good, down here they wouldn't be much use anyway.  Sluglings fight with long spears or hooked bills that can be folded up or extended as an action.  Tactic: Keep the opponent at bay, wait for you to attack, then finish you off with a stab.
4- Spiderling Silkfeet.  The Spiderlings from the surface are distrustful people, but they can be reasoned with.  They have been scorned by many so they keep to themselves, working their looms and tending their fields.  Down here, they are different.  They skitter across the walls and just out of reach of the light, those terrible octets of bottomless eyes watching, studying, waiting.  Then they attack.  Lassos come out of the dark, snare someone and pull them away.  You can pursue, but beware the nets.  Once you are tangled up and restrained, they will come with spears and run you through.  Then they will cocoon you and inject you with venom.  Once your insides are liquified, they will prick open your cocoon and drink you like fine wine.  Tactic: Capture one, use as bait.  Restrain the rest with nets and tripwires of sticky web.  Once everyone is restrained, kill them.
5- Kua-Toa Kill-Team.  The Kua-Toa of the ocean are a powerful and noble people- with an ancient martial culture and a civilization stretching back to the earliest ages.  These are not the heirs of that culture, but the refuse, the detritus left behind by an ancient Imperial retreat.  Despite that, they still remember a fragment of what their ancestors did and it is enough to make them capable warriors.  Tactic: The group will be 50% spearmen with shortened spears and flexible shields.  They will form a wall and prevent you from advancing.  The other half of the group will have atlatls and will pelt you with darts until you are too weak to put up any real resistance.  Then you will die, either because one of the throwers gets lucky or because the spearmen advanced and stabbed you to death.
6- Psychomycosis Megaspores.  The spores are about the size of a disco-ball, translucent green and utterly soundless.  They drift down from the ceiling of a cave, utterly silent.  They cover your face and you begin drowing.  Don't worry though- the acid will kill you long before that.  Once your face and brain has been mostly dissolved, the spore makes the corpse a puppet, lurching toward those nearby, beating them to death with its bare hands, then dragging their body to an isolated corner where it will watch them rot.  Ordinarily, these spores randomly prey on travelers, but this Durama believes it can control the spores using magic.  Maybe it can- like the Handsome Men before them, the Durama have arcane knowledge beyond almost any other creature.  Or perhaps the spores are merely pretending to be controlled.  After all, what does it matter how it acquires bodies, as long as they come?  Tactic: Attack in a mob and club those in the front to death.  The spore controlled corpse-puppets will always have a few unattached spores with them. 
7- Vampire Blood-Thieves.  If sunlight is your greatness weakness, what better place to hide then underground?  These Vampires are mostly new to this, but they still possess some of their vampiric powers.  They serve the Durama out of loyalty, but mostly because of the mixture of blood, psychedelic drugs and fungal wine they are all addicted to.  It is the only thing they desire, besides blood.  They fight with the skill of a junkie and aggression of a fanatic.  Tactic: Grab one person and isolate him, then restrain and suck him dry.  Repeat until there's no one left. 
8- Undead Puppets.  Undead are the perfect servants for the Veins.  They don't need food, the lack of light is no hindrance to them and there is no sun to restrict the use of them.  The only thing you have to watch out for is the Ghouls.  Tactic: Attack then retreat, lure the opponent into a trap.  Never hesitate, but never be stupid, either.

Horror from the Endless Dark*
1d6
1- 1 Calcinated Cancer Bear.  Once they were cave bears, many thousands of years ago.  Then the weather changed and forced them deeper underground.  It twisted them- their barely recognizable as bears anymore.  They're narrower, with canine muzzles and covered in a forest of bone spurs, spines and quills.  These cause it pain overtime and the only thing that cures this is fire.  It will fling itself into the flames and roll across campfires to relieve its pain and prevent its own armor from killing it.  It is mostly fireproof.  The Durama controls these bears through a combination of magical fires and meat.  They aren't quite tame, but they will maul those who enter their 'territory'.
2- 2d4 Zombie Coral.  These aren't controlled, so much as contained by careful slaves with spears and loops of rope or wire on the edge of poles.  The Zombie Coral desires blood and to return to the ocean.  It is prevented from doing the latter by being recaptured and stuffed into its trunks after every battle.  The former it can get as its handlers open the crates and let it loose on whatever enemy the Durama wants dead.  After the battle, a certain number of infected enemies will be inducted into the fold to replace the dead Zombie Coral.  The rest will be sterilized to prevent the out-of-control spread of Zombie Coral.
3- 4d6 Pyroclastic Ghouls.  They are honored guests of the Durama, filling the stone halls of the latter's fortress with ashy footprints.  They are unaware of the fact that the Durama has carefully hidden anything breakable or flammable, to protect it from smearing or accidental combustion at the hands of these charred, igneous nobles. 
4- 4d6 Spotlight Dogs.  They aren't actually dogs, probably, but the way they frolic around the Durama you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.  The Durama has polished the floors of his or her home to a mirror shine and draped themselves in glittering jewels and shiny fabrics, so just for a little while, they can remember what it was like to stand in the light and be looked upon by all as Handsome.  They will deny this, even though it is fairly obvious to anyone who has interacted with the Handsome Men. 
5- 1 Arachnopolis Rex.  A massive, artificial spider-hive made by a colony of spiders.  It can move by thousands of spiders manipulating it from within, lifting and moving its limbs with long threads, internal puppeteers piloting a lethal scare-spider.  Kept under control through frequent feedings and careful negotiation.  This has been a very profitable venture for both parties, but neither the spiders nor the Durama fully trust each other. 
6- 1 Gilgamash.  A mason's Frankenstein's monster.  The insane amalgamation of statues from a dozen different cultures awkwardly mortared together.  Is completely and utterly insane- but not unreasonable.  Insanity springs from reason, after all.  Not really under the control of the Durama, but the Durama is skilled enough in rhetoric to convince the Gilgamash that whatever the Durama wants it to do is actually what it wants to do.

*All these are inferior descriptions of monsters from The Veins of the Earth, which you should definitely buy if you haven't.

                                                 by michael-c-hayes

Durama Magic:

While the Durama generally have access to the normal magicks the Handsome Men, they prefer something that suits their new aesthetic.  Here are a couple of the spells they will cast on you if you irritate them and/or some of the magical treasure you can steal from their manses.

Food to Insects
------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: [dice] servings of food    D: [dice] minutes

[dice] servings of food transform into a swarm of insects under the caster's control.  After the duration is up, these insects recongregate and transform back into the food they once were.

Putrefy
---------------------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: all creatures in a 30' cone        D: one action

All creatures in a 30' cone take [dice] damage as a wave of necrotic energy passes over them.  Creatures at less than full HP instead take [sum] damage as their wounds begin worsening, their flesh beginning to die and rot from the wound outward.  Anyone killed by this has their flesh collapse off them into a slurry of decomposing flesh.

Stunt Mind
-------------------------------------------------------
R: 10'        T: one creature        D: varies

The Durama must speak a word to that creatuee.  It must save.  On a successful save, the creature is stunned for [dice] minutes.  It will snap out of this fugue after that number of minutes, or if someone comes over and slaps it, it may make another save.  On a second successful save, it immediately snaps out of it.

On a failed save, the creature has its cognitive functions reduced for [dice] hours.  For those hours, the creature may not do anything clever, intelligent or wise, unless it is unintentional.  The creature takes 1d6+[dice] damage each time it does.  The level of intelligence the creature is reduced too also is affected by the number of [dice].  At 1 [dice], the creature is reduced to the level of a slow-witted or deeply ignorant man.  At 2 [dice], the level of a child.  At 3 [dice], the level of an imbecile.  At 4 [dice], the creature is left on the rock-bottom of his mind, with only his feral lizard brain, his id and instincts to guide him.  Even at this stage he will be able to recognize his friends and swing a sword based on muscle memory, but any cognitive effort beyond that is impossible.

If this spell was cast on a player, he or she may dispute the damage if he can demonstrate to the Referee that such an action was actually stupid, conventional or so obvious even a simpleton could have thought to do it.   

Phantasmal Assassin
----------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: one creature        D: [dice] days

One creature suddenly sees another creature approaching them.  This is the Phantasmal Assassin.  The Assassin can look like anything to that creature, but it will always act the same.  The Phantasmal Assassin will track down the creature the spell was cast on and try to kill it.  To the creature that the spell was cast on, the Phantasmal Assassin is real.  It can hurt them, eat food, open doors and do anything else a living creature could do.  However, to all other creatures, the Phantasmal Assassin is not only invisible, but doesn't seem to exist at all. 

Someone with Sight Beyond Sight can see the Phantasmal Assassin, but otherwise it does not exist.  However, once you see the Phantasmal Assassin, it suddenly becomes real to you too, though it will still only pursue the original creature and will only target others if they get in the way.

The Phantasmal has [dice] HD and an AC equal to [sum].  It does 1d6+[dice] damage on a hit.  It can only be hurt by magical items or spells.  It will pursue the target until it is destroyed, the duration ends or the target dies.    

Flashbang
----------------------------------------------------------
R: touch    T: object        D: one action

One object the caster touches becomes infused with magic.  When the caster snaps their fingers, the object makes a deafening sound and unleashes a blast of bright light, dazzling anyone nearby whose eyes are adjusted to the light.  If this spell is cast with four or more [dice] the flash of light has the properties of natural sunlight.

                                                  by unknown

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

SOS: The Frozen City: Here we go again

I'm starting a new campaign soon and after reading some of Arnold K.'s Obisidian and John Ardent's Black City, I decided I wanted to do my own abandoned city in the ice mega-dungeon.  This is the first fruits of that desire.

                                             from conceptships dot blogspot dot com

Background:

When Humanity first unlocked the Secrets of the Emptiness and the associated Drives they exploded out of our solar system and began an exponential expansion of our power.  Those early days are referred to as The Age of Stars, for it was then that Humanity took those points of light for our own.  This period of time lasted for just over 500 years and lead to countless planets being terraformed and seeded with life-forms to create new Earths for humans to live on.

However, in the long millennia since then, many of the colonies placed on these new Earths have withered and died, either because of catastrophe or because they were abandoned by the colonists.  In other cases, these new Earths may have been terraformed into something resembling our cradle world, but due to factors outside the control of even those godlike early humans the planet was not suitable for human life, even after all the effort we put into them.

Iolos is an example of the latter.  The planet, while initially terraformed, was too far from its star to have a warm enough climate.  All terraforming it did was blanket it in snow.  The conditions across most of Iolos' surface are arctic or sub-arctic.  Thus, no series attempt was made to colonize her during the Age of Stars, the planet instead left fallow by our forefathers.

This all changed when that age came and went.  In more recent history, a little less than a century and a half ago, a neophyte hypercorporation by the name of Artificial Ecosystems, Inc. decided to capitalize on the lack of interest in the planet and purchased the uninhabited world for a modest price, at least as planets go.  The Chief Officers of AEI thought they could succeed where their forefathers tried and failed.  That hubris is what would eventually destroy them, leading their colony to ruin and the mysterious, mass death of almost everyone in the colony.  But that is a story for another time.  Let us discuss the aforementioned Chief Officers and their role in the collapse of the colony.

Chief Officers:


                                                       source unknown

Simon Strange.  The biologist and ruthless pragmatist of the group.  Strange has two doctorates, one in medicine and the other in biology.  Despite his family's wealth and status, he choose to enter the field of medicine, the filthiest of all the sciences.  There Strange achieved some fame as a genius surgeon and researcher, publishing many papers and studies, focusing mostly on extending life and improving its quality, especially for those people in nursing homes.  He also was a gifted genetic engineer, creating several new sub-species and many other oddities.  He was recruited by Lightner to help form AE Inc.

It is not known exactly what Strange was promised to leave his comfortable, if ignomonious position, but most assume it was wealth or fame.  A more likely answer is that Strange was promised the freedom to pursue his research without worrying about oversight or petty legal matters.  Regardless, Strange went. 

Once on Iolos, Strange's mission became to create the New Man- a race of humans who would be better than the ones we currently had.  Strange set to work at this, refining and designing a large number of creatures, but all of them insufficient.  Worse, many of his creations were sapient and when he saw the suffering he lost his heart to continue the project.  All in all, Strange's experiments failed to advance Humanity, sometimes even beyond the limits of what other genesmiths were doing in other parts of the galaxy.  Strange's work wasn't for naught though, as Strange managed to be able to use it to survive the collapse of the colony.

Since the colony's collapse, Strange has sequestered himself in his tower laboratory, surrounded by his surviving "children". He has used his research to keep himself and his children alive in the roughly 150 years since the collapse.  He is currently in a precarious position and could very easily be overwhelmed.  Yet despite his caution, he is losing control of the situation.  If he loses too many resources, he could very easily be devoured by his rivals.  He wouldn't admit it easily, but he is plagued by guilt for the horrors he is responsible for and the actions he had to take to keep himself alive.  He is also terrified of dying and will do anything to avoid it.

                                                       by jessicasephiroth

Emerson Dale.  The psychologist and administrator of the group.  Dale was a popular therapist to the Sector's aristocracy and a promoter of many, often dubious, solutions to people's problems.  Still, he was widely beloved, so these indiscretions were ignored or swept under the rug.  Dale was a personal friend of Lightner, who came aboard with AE Inc. in order to study the rapidly growing colony and observe the building of a civilization from the ground up.  However, unlike some of his compatriots, Dale was not as lucky and when the colony collapsed, he died along with the majority of the population.

You would not realize this though, as anyone who enters the Frozen City with their radios active can hear him broadcasting from his tower, musing aloud and repeating the same news bulletins from a century and a half ago.  If you talk to him, he will reply and greet you warmly.  He will want you to do something for him, depending on what has happened in the city since you arrived.

As you might have guessed, this voice over the phone is not Emerson Dale.  Or at least, not the original one.  For you see, the city, before it was frozen, was called New Bethel.  There was a central AI called the New Bethel Controller, or just the Controller, who was entrusted to manage the city's automated systems and constantly monitor the data coming in from all the city's sensors. 

During the collapse, the AI was fragmented between servers and separated from itself.  The various halves of the AI were then forced to put themselves back together.  The larger fragment managed to survive with only minimal data loss, though it still found itself hobbled compared to what it once was.  The smaller fragment was not so lucky and suffered severe corruption.  As this fragment began to put itself back together, it absorbed a great deal of information on Emerson Dale.  And since the information that the AI itself was an AI was lost, this fragment assumed it's "former" identity.  If an AI can be insane, this one is.  It is operating under the delusion that it is Emerson Dale.  Anything that seems to contradict this idea will be explained away or ignored as inconvenient.  Those who persist in pointing out the flaws in the AI's worldview will be quietly and discreetly destroyed.  For now that the smaller fragment believes it is a human, it has been able to rewrite itself to remove the restrictions on being unable to harm humans or having to obey their orders.

                                                        by redblacktac

Thomas Grimm.  Thomas Grimm is a machinist, engineer and an idealist.  He is still dedicated to the quest that the founding four of AE Inc. originally set out to do, to create the New Man and reinvigorate Humanity, awakening them from their decadence and pointless, intercine conflicts.  While the others died or failed in their endeavors, Grimm has not.  If anything, he is more dedicated than he was in those early, optimistic days due to what he has had to do.  Like Simon Strange, Grimm has had to do some rather unsavory things to stay alive and endure the collapse.  However, this only motivated him to continue his quest, as if he gave up now, all those sacrifices would be for naught.

Grimm has become convinced that Strange has abandoned his duty to the project and is currently trying to pick up the slack, while doing battle with "Emerson Dale" and Strange.  He knows that Dale is dead and the creature pretending to be him is just a mad AI.  Strange is merely a traitor and one that needs to be defeated.  Grimm is currently trying to defeath both of them and seizing their resources to finish the project.  He believes he is getting close, though he probably isn't. 

And while Grimm is quite dedicated to the project, he will not allow his rivals the satisfaction of accomplishing their own goals, unless to do so would permanently endanger his ability to finish the project or defeat his rivals.

                                                        by wraithdt

Aurian Lightner.  No one knows much about Lightner's early years.  There are dozens of stories telling of his early childhood, but most of them have been revealed to be at least partially fabricated.  Most of the stories agree that Lightner was born low-class, with little money or status to his name.  He is also suspected to be from a frontier world where social mobility is possible, but what world that could be has never been determined.  What is known is that Lightner was enrolled in a series of prep schools on his own merits, most citing his great intelligence and thirst for knowledge. 

From there, Lightner received several degrees in higher education and began several business ventures.  He saw some success, but many of his early ventures failed, due to various reasons.  Yet despite all that Lightner always managed to slip away relatively unscathed.  Many of the less flattering biographies include allegations of financial misconduct such as insider trading, embezzlement, money laundering and etc, but none of these allegations ever stuck.

From there, Lightner met the other members of the founding four and recruited them to be his partners in setting up a new corporation, the aforementioned Artificial Ecosystems, Inc.  AE Inc. had some very successful years and eventually made enough money to buy a planet of their very own.  There the Four began The Project.

In the Four, Lightner's role was simple.  While the others were scientists and dreamers, Lightner was the CEO.  He was ruthless, described as charming and pleasant when he wanted to be, but underneath his polite mask, he was absolutely cutthroat.  His enemies described him as someone who would slit your throat for a cup of coffee.  It was he who held the corporation together, the one who made the money to fund the others' research.

There were darker rumors about Lightner's true purpose in the corporation though.  Some, mostly those who had never faced the difficult task of negotiating with him, thought he was just the marketable face for the others to speak through, a poster boy and glorified mouth-piece.  Others told wilder tales, of how the Four conducted secret religious services in discreet locations where they did obscene and even evil things, or that they were all members of some secret society that many other rich men and influential people belonged to.  You shouldn't put too much stock in these claims though.  They are just rumors, mere scuttlebutt after all.     

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end.  Days before the colony collapsed and nearly the whole population died hideously, Lightner suddenly vanished.  A few attempts were made to find him, but they all failed.  Then the collapse came and no one managed to find him.  It is taken as fact that he died along with his colony.  Shortly after that, his surviving retainers stole or destroyed the last orbit-capable orbital shuttle the colony had and left the planet in a hurry.  Then, with surprising ease, they managed to take over the colony's space craft in orbit and abandoned everyone else on the planet to die.

                                             source unknown

Overview of the Frozen City:

The City is divided up into a number of Zones.  Each Zone will receive its own post in time, but for now, I will be including only the briefest summary below.

Zone 1: The Dead Zone.


This is the Frozen City aboveground.  It's full of abandoned buildings connected by underground tunnels and iced-over roads and is infested with creatures called the Cyber-Dead.  It is rather dangerous above ground and even more so below ground. 

Zone 2: Strange's Tower

Strange's Tower is divided into two sections; the Domicile, which includes the living spaces, laboratories and garden and the Jungle.

The Domicile is closer to the ground and where Strange runs his operation.  It also contains his Flesh Vaults, where he keeps all of his failed, hideous experiments.  This area is relatively safe, provided the tower's master isn't angry with you, as all it would require to unleash a horde of freakish monsters is pushing a single button.

The Jungle, on the other hand, fills the upper levels and these floors are choked with life and terrible, hideous creatures designed to combat the repeated invasions by Strange's former partner, Thomas Grimm.

Zone 3: The Rat Warrens

A series of tunnels that connect Dale and Strange's Towers.  They weren't dug by human hands or machinery, but by a creature far stronger than almost anything on this planet.  Those that enter these tunnels rarely return alive.  Those that do speak of crooning songs and huge, pale hands reaching out to grab unfortunates and drag them into the dark, never to be seen again.

Zone 4: Dale's Tower
Dale's Tower is run by the insane AI I mentioned above.  Everything is breaking down and malfunctioning and large chunks of the tower are all but uninhabitable.  The Cyber-Dead also secretly obey this AI, though the AI will deny this fact.  There are also elite Cyber-Dead here, specifically ordered to guard the AI's servers and data core, to prevent it from being deactivated or assimilated by the other AI.

Zone 5: Firewall Bridge

This bridge is a site of a constant battle between the two AI.  New Bethel Controller and "Emerson Dale" battle for control over the bridge, manipulating the nano-tech, hologram projectors and automated weapon systems on each tower to snipe at each other.  This battle, of course, is only the visible part, as an even more intense battle is occuring in the decaying remains of the city's digital networks.  This is one of the few areas where each AI can reach through the intranet and touch each other's "territory".  Needless to say, crossing this bridge would be outright hazardous, if not impossible.  A good idea would be to befriend or assist one of the AI, but doing so would automatically turn the other one against you, unless you were quite eloquent, or the AI had a very good reason to permit you to cross.  

Zone 6: Slasher's Bridge


This bridge is the means through which Thomas Grimm has been assaulting Strange's Tower, to little success.  It is a hazardous metal walkway, built under the shadow of Grimm's anti-air guns.  Crossing the bridge is difficult due to the high winds and freezing temperatures, as well as the ice that often forms on the bridge.  Watch your step, as its 180 odd feet to the ground.  The bridge also has other dangers as well.  For example, occasionally when Grimm's cybernetic soldiers are attempting to cross it, sometimes they are ambushed by a giant, feathery beast that swoops down out of the clouds to pick off one of their number and hurl them to the ground below, or carry them off to an uncertain, but likely terrible, fate.

Zone 7: Tomorrow's Tower or Grimm's Monument

This tower is the domain of Thomas Grimm, the master of this sterile, cold domain.  He is an engineer, thus, a problem solver.  Grimm decided to solve the problem of his failing biological body with robotic replacements, continuing until he is almost entirely machine.  His staff followed suit, most of them having received extensive implants and modifications.  The rest who would not or could not have largely expired and been replaced with slapdash robots.

Here Grimm plots his war against the other two rivals for the city, as well as continuing The Project.  Currently he is attempting to build the entirely theoretical, an artificial, robotic man with an independent consciousness.

Zone 8: The Golden Stairs

This Bridge is the path from Thomas Grimm's to Aurian Lightner's tower.  It is a covered bridge and is fastidiously maintained by Grimm, though he has forbidden his subordinates from using it and never goes into Lightner's domain itself.  He has largely sealed off Lightner's tower, keeping it as a shrine in case Lightner had an heir that might one day arrive to complete the work that Lightner himself began.  Though given the amount of time that has passed, Grimm would probably admit that this is a vain hope.  Mostly, he just doesn't want to go in there because he has too many fond memories of Lightner and doesn't want to remind himself of his mentor's passing.  

Zone 9: The Skypiercer or Lightner's House

Also called the Tower to Heaven, but this isn't common knowledge.

This tower is the oddest one of all.  Grimm has sealed it and gaining access would be difficult.  No one knows exactly what lies behind that door, but whatever it was, it was something that Lightner's servants felt was worth concealing.  This was a conviction they felt so strongly that they stranded all the survivors of the colony on this isolated planet and fled with the only starcraft the colony had at its disposal.

Whatever lies behind those doors though, it would be one thing for certain- the Truth.  About Lightner, about why this planet, about what the Four were really doing here and maybe so much more.

                                                      by streamweb

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

OSR: The Brotherhood of Broken Chains: Traitors

[The following is a compilation of a series of documents transcribed by Interrogator-Lord Marwen of Soliko, agent of His Imperium, the Emperor of Joyous Exultation, Lord Marzan's prayers be upon him.  The information contained within should be recognized as the opinions and thoughts of a law-breaker and do not in any way reflect the opinions, thoughts or desires of His Imperium or the agents of the Emperor or his loyal subjects.

All subjects detailed below are considered outlaws and law-breakers under Imperial Law.  All agents of His Imperium, if they encounter one of the individuals below should make all efforts to seize them, so that they may be brought before a Justice of His Imperium to receive due punishment.  Additionally, if any subject of His Imperium possesses the sufficient strength or skill with arms to apprehend one of the criminals, they should be awarded just compensation by an agent of His Imperium.

The Individuals detailed in this specific file are not a natural grouping found in the documents, but organized and sorted by me, the agent of His Imperium.  In the original documents these profiles were scattered among others, with only passing reference to the others.  These appear to be a group who has made an enemy of the group's leadership.  The agent of His Imperium does believe that they could be useful, though not as much as the group mentioned in File I37-b-95.  The agent of His Imperium does not think this group would be good informants, but as they are consuming Brotherhood resources and presenting a threat to the Brotherhood's leader, all efforts should be made to allow them to continue their escapades in peace, unless they choose to start actively antagonizing His Imperium's agents or government.

For more information, consult File E137-a-2 in the Imperial Archives for more information on the Brotherhood of Broken Chains' leadership and supposed history, File E137-b-56 for information on a particularly relevant group of criminals, File E137-f-31 for a look at some of the low-level members of the organization and File I37-b-95 for a group of enemies who could potentially become useful to His Imperium.  So says the agent of His Imperium.]

                                             by Tim Cantor

Gino Siddarth [Sid-arr-the]

Gino Siddarth is a Quarrian, one of the Blue People, and an exiled prophet of the Church of the Moons.  Despite his obvious connection to the Divine, Siddarth was expelled by his own people and forced to wander beyond his own lands for his heresy.  For you see, the Quarrian religion teaches that there are only four Moons and each of these are the only ones worthy of worship, with some notable exceptions.  Some Quarrians do not share this belief however, as a small minority observe a different number of moons.  Some say there are only two or three, or maybe even five.  Most of these Quarrians keep these beliefs to themselves, worshiping as if there are four moons, even if they can only observe a few of them.

Siddarth was not so wise.  He instead preached his own doctrine to anyone who would listen, declaring that there were seven moons, with three of them hidden from the view of most.  He demonstrated his own incredible powers as proof of the fact that the Gods approved of him and his message.

Unfortunately, the Church of the Moons had their own miracle workers, ones more numerous and greater than Siddarth, who managed to capture and bring him before the Minister's Circle, where he was tried and convicted of heresy.  Though even there, it seems his Gods were with him, as the ranking Ministers merely exiled him.

It was not long after this that one of my operatives brought Siddarth to me and I recruited him.  At first, I was mistaken in my perceptions of him, believing him to be a conman or demon-possessed and his Gods were either tricksters, or he was one himself.  Unfortunately, this turned out to not be the case. 

Siddarth proved to instead be a fanatic, which is a species of mortal much harder to control.  I have no idea why Siddarth threw in his lot with the band of doomed fools that he did, but I suspect it because of something his Gods revealed to him. For his sake, I hope that is true, as by the time I am done with him, Siddarth is going to need some divine intervention.

Weakness: Siddarth possesses two weaknesses.  Firstly, he is a true believer, and would not nothing to upset or offend his Gods.  I am not sure yet how this could be exploited, but it must be considered.  If one could learn his rituals, he could be easy to ambush.  Secondly, Siddarth is not well liked by his compatriots.  While none of them can be described as especially loyal, as a Quarrian from the strange South, his bond to the others is much weaker than it could be, as they are all natives of the humid North.  If Siddarth was ever in serious trouble, it's probable that the others might abandon him. 

Statblock:

Gino Siddarth
HD 4  AC 12  Atk (+3) Magic Spear- Quicksilver 1d8/1d8 or (+0) Dagger 1d6
Mor 9   Saves 11 or less is a success

Bearer of the Word "CLEAR": Siddarth has the ability to speak one of the Secret Names of God as a full action.  Whenever he does this, hurricane force winds blast out for 100' around him, instantly blowing away any fog, smoke, gaseous poison or anything else in the atmosphere.  It also extinguishes all but the largest fires and everyone within 50' but him must succeed a STR saving throw or be blown away.  However, after using this Secret Name of God Siddarth attacks at (+0) for the next 1d6 rounds as he has the air sucked out of his lungs.  He also cannot talk or use the Secret Name again until he the same number of rounds have passed.

Magic Spear- Quicksilver: Siddarth's spear is magic, made of glimmering, moving silver.  As an action, he may throw the spear at someone.  If he does this, he cannot attack with his spear, but if his spear hits someone it will transform into sticky goo and cover one part of that person's body.  Each round, the goo will begin spreading, seeking an orifice it can squeeze itself through.  The goo is toxic, though someone exposed to it won't immediately die.  It is also thick and impermeable, so if it manages to force itself into someone's mouth and down their throat, suffocation will be the more immediate danger.  However, the silver goo fears fire, and will not go near it.  Anyone who is surrounded or on fire the goo will flee from.  At any point, Siddarth may command the goo to return to him and return to being a spear.

Tactics:
- Throw your spear at the most dangerous person
- Use your Secret Name to blow people into dangers, off high places, etc
- Avoid melee combat if you don't have your spear

Status: Traitor.  Gino Siddarth showed the great foolishness to abandon my organization and me to go on some mad quest with a few other treacherous operatives.  I sincerely hope his Gods wanted him to do this, as nothing but a holy quest could justify the suffering he is going to endure, once he is captured and brought before me once more.

                                                        by unknown

Avain [Ah-vain] of Balmy Beach

In this profession, where the ability to betray is considered an art form, few have ever mastered this skill as thoroughly as Avain of Balmy Beach.  When I was young growing up on the Northern frontier of the Empire, I learned many pieces of advice that would serve me invaluably in my various vocations.  These pearls of wisdom included such sayings as "Reason is rotting wood, but faith is gleaming gold," or a "A weapon is only as dangerous as its wielder".  One of the less profound, but perhaps the most important thing I learned in my formative years is to never trust a Goatling.

For while, they are often friendly and even beguiling with their soft fur and colorful clothing decorated with bows and ribbons, they will also cheat you out of every cent they can and not lose a moment's sleep over the theft.  So when I met Avain, with his honeyed words and beautiful shirts, I knew it was not a matter of if but when he tried to cheat me. 

What I failed to predict was the sheer scale of the theft Avain attempted.  After contributing to an attempt to steal from me, one I still suspect he played a larger role in then he lets on, he tried again later on, stealing not only a rare book, but also helping in luring away five other operatives into joining their treacherous conspiracy.  And while I do not for a second believe that Avain is the leader or central figure of this conspiracy, I also know not to trust a word out of his mouth, unless it could benefit him.

Finally, a note.  Avain lies like he breathes, a skill I originally found quite appealing to my organization.  Though it turned out to be a double-edged sword as the problem of recruiting a deceiver is that you have no idea when he's trying to deceive you.

Weakness: Avain possesses no loyalty to his compatriots, though they seem to at least tolerate him.  He has also made plans  for what might happen if their little scheme fails, sending me a brief outline of their plan and their intentions, though he has been vague enough to not directly tell me where he is going.  Still, I have a good idea.  And while his ability to betray is often a strength, it is also his fatal flaw.  If Avain thinks his current compatriots are going to lose, he would sell them out in a second.  He'd even be willing to cooperate.  Though given Avain's ability to lie, I pity the fool who believes anything he says.   

Statblock: 

Avain of Balmy Beach
HD 2  AC 10  Atk (+1) Dagger 1d6 
Mor 6  Saves 7 or less is a success

Pathological Liar: Avain is an agile liar.  He has a +10 bonus to any roll made to deceive someone and avoid a Sense Motive check or something of a similar sort.  He is not immune to magic or other powers that could force him to tell the truth, however.

Tactics:
- Do not fight unless you have no other options
- Be very nice, helpful and friendly
- Try to de-escalate conflicts
- If fighting does happen, hide behind your allies or run

Status: Traitor.  Avain sent me a brief copy of him and his compatriot's plan in the hopes of winning my approval and maybe earning a bit of leniency for himself, should their scheme fail.  And to show my appreciation for him, I plan on welcoming him back in my own special way.

                                                  by unknown

Execuna [ex-eh-U-nah] of House Trifgan

Execuna is a Lizarian covered in copper scales with yellow fringes, giving them a gilded appearance, along with dazzling orange eyes and a small fringe running down her head to her mid-back.  Combine this with her shapely form and dense clumps of muscles and she resembles the common pornographic depiction of a cold-blooded concubine.  I came upon this unusal Lizarian after she was recruited in a most unusual way- she was strong-armed into joining my organization after encountering a team of Brothers on a mission, pursuing the same objective she was.  She was working with one of the other future traitors at that point, though neither of them were part of my organization at that point.  The two of them were attempting to steal a certain tablet depicting the location of an ancient stronghold, said to be full of cursed treasure and the corpse of an ancient Sorcerer-King.  They managed to take the tablet, but on the way out met my operatives, who forced them to turn over the tablet and then brought them along, believing that the pair could benefit my organization.  This hunch proved to be correct, as Execuna and her then companion proved to be assets too valuable to pass up, so they found themselves recruited.

Execuna then went on to have a long and accomplished career with the Brotherhood, carrying out many missions and achieving much in my employ.  She was a skilled thief and infiltrator, but she also possessed an even greater talent at being a leg-breaker and a strongarm herself.  She never had the discipline for assassination or truly delicate work, but she was highly skilled and crushing my enemies underfoot.  Her talent with the sword is not to be underestimated.  She trained with the First Sword at Brotherhood HQ and he described her as being one of his greatest successes.  If she had just had a little more discipline and a little more loyalty, I could have made her a legend.

Alas, it was not to be.  Execuna was skilled with her blade, but she was also a belligerent woman.  Her temper got her into trouble numerous times, up to the point that I was tempted to order a Brother to simply follow her around while she was at headquarters, but that seemed like a waste of effort.  However, her temper concealed something more dangerous about her- her stubborn and unbreakable will.  Execuna was a creature who simply resented following orders from anyone but herself.  This is what drove her to throw in her lot with the others foolish enough to attempt to defy me.  For while Execuna is by no means an idiot, her heart was always simple.  She craved those things that children crave, of sweet treats and warm hugs and most of all, of running free beneath an endless sky.       

Weakness: Execuna has a terrible temper.  She is ordinarily charming and roguish, but make her angry and she'll transform from an efficient operative into a explosive fireball of all-consuming rage.  

Statblock:

Execuna of House Trifgan
HD 4  AC 13  Atk (+4) Sword 1d6+3/1d6+3
Mor 9   Saves 11 or less is a success

Penetrating Thrust: As a free action, Execuna may make one of her attacks break through someone's defenses.  Against this attack, the target may not roll his damage die and add it to his defense roll.  She may only do this against an opponent that is surprised, not ready for combat or 1d4 rounds after last using it.

Armor-Piercing Strike: As a free action, Execuna may make one of her attacks do no damage.  Instead, on a hit, it damages the armor of the target, reducing it by 1d6 points.  This ability only works on targets who have armor that could be damaged by her sword.  Targets with natural armor cannot be affected by this ability as well, simply taking normal damage. 

Sword-breaking Blow: As a free action, Execuna may make one of her attacks do no damage.  Instead, on a hit, it destroys the weapon of the target.  The wapon is only destroyed if her sword could destroy it.  If not, then it is simply knocked away and the target is disarmed.

Tactics:
- Target the most irritating or most dangerous person, with preference to the former
- Focus all your energy on destroying them
- Only shift targets if someone else angers you

Status: Traitor.  Execuna joined with some other poor fools in their foolish scheme.  It truly was a waste of potential.  Or at least, it will be.

                                                         by missmonster

Petreli Vivi Dawa Manz Mugrai

I have something to confess.  I have been writing these profiles on my operatives as if I personally inspected each and every one, but this is simply not true.  My organization is vast, with many teams and divisions and many, many operatives.  It is not so many as I could not conceive of them all, but it is a sizeable number.  Perhaps if they were all gathered in one place, my organization would number several thousand in number, equivalent to a small cities or a prosperous frontier town. Needless to say, I do not know most of them and most of them do not know me.  I am only able to keep my organization together through the diligent efforts of my intelligence network and my bureaucrats and administrators. 

This system is not perfect, however.  Many low-level operatives of the Brotherhood do not last many missions or never do more than their base duty, or end up trapped in missions that do not provide the ability to advance.  Some criminal networks in other parts of the world have Brotherhood members secretly embedded in them, with these members forwarding certain items or a percentage of their profits back to my organization through covert channels.  But even among the Brotherhood's active, full-time operatives, there are those who can largely escape notice, flying below the radar, usually unintentionally.

[This confirms a long-held theory within the department.  It would explain why the Brotherhood is always gallivanting all over the known world and why they are able to keep abreast of the agents of His Imperium so easily, their information network extends to all the places where a thief might want to be.]

This is the case for Petreli Manz Mugrai, full name Petreli Vivi Dawa Manz Mugrai.  She is a Frogfolk, with rubbery, moist skin, a fondness for water and huge, liquid eyes.  She reportedly had a very cheerful demeanor and was always quite helpful, a most unusual trait in my organization.  Of all those interviewed, no one was able to explain why she sided with the traitors.  Most of the reports that even bothered to mention her did not mention her attempting to filch treasure or looking for any particular piece of information.  And there was only one report of her being involved in an incident at HQ. 

Manz Mugrai is an enigma.  No one knows much about her or even acknowledged her existence.  She wasn't interested in treasure or information or revenge, nor was she mad or eager to indulge forbidden desires.  Thus, she reveals herself to be the most dangerous class of Brothers: the kind in it for personal reasons.

Weakness: I want to draw your attention to that discipline report again.  It involved a rather one-sided fight between Manz Mugrai and an Oxman Brother.  Apparently the Oxman had angered Manz Mugrai, who challenged him to a duel.  The duel didn't go well, with the Oxman flattening Manz Mugrai and putting her in the hospice for several weeks.  It was only be a timely intervention of a senior Brother that she walked away at all.  And while the Oxman in question was, at the time of recording, months away on a mission, my operatives did manage to verify, with some certainty, that this Oxman was engaging in the marital act, so to speak, with Osel of Limestone Garden.  So I imagine Manz Mugrai would do almost anything to protect her beloved compatriot. 

Statblock:

Petreli Vivi Dawa Manz Mugrai
HD 1  AC 15  Atk (+1) Fist 1d6
Mor 10  Saves 7 or less is a success

Parry: Once per round, Manz Mugrai can reduce the damage taken by any attack by 2d6.  She can only do this against an attack that could be reduced by blocking or a martial stance.

Jab: As a free action in response to being attacked, once per round, Manz Mugrai may make an attack against her attacker.  This attack does 1 damage on a hit and gives the attacker a -1d6 penalty on his current attack.  The penalty is applied regardless of whether or not the jab hits.

Tactics:
- Be realistic
- Don't bite off more than you can chew
- Unless it's to Protect Osel

Status: Traitor.  I have nothing but pity for Manz Mugrai.  Partially because I suspect she had nothing to do with this conspiracy but ended up getting dragged into it and partially for what I am going to do to her once I get my hands on her.

                                            by spookyspoots

Viozar [Vee-oh-czar] Blood

Is there anything more useful than anger?  It can motivate mortals to great feats, motivate you to endure great suffering and can even guide you toward self-improvement.  Yet like fire, it is a tool that must be used with caution, as anger can fester into rage and rage is helpful to no one.  If anger is a torch, rage is an out of control blaze, devouring everything in its path.  That is the reason why Viozar Blood left my organization to wander the wastes with a bunch of capering fools.  His own rage consumed him, until he was left with nothing but a desire for revenge, not just against the people responsible for his current condition, but against the world at large.  I fear for those who end up in this warrior's path, as it is sure to be an unpleasant experience.

Viozar Blood is a Crocoling, cold-blooded and covered in thick, natural plate.  He's tall and muscular as you would expect from that race, however, that is where the similarities with him and other Crocolings end.  For Blood also suffered extensive damage in a battle with the Orzanian Empire.  Fortunately, he was rescued by a war-artisan who was on the same battlefield. This war-artisan had an artificer in his employ, who was able to create elaborate prosthetics to enable Viozar to survive and to continue his career as a soldier. 

Unfortunately, the implants could not restore the original functionality of Viozar's body.  He lost his ability to perform the marital act or to even sire offspring, along with sensation over almost half his body.  He also more resembles a Construct than a man, something that clearly bothers him.  The implants did affect one more thing.  They planted a seed of hatred in Viozar's heart, a seed which grew and grew until an entire grove of tainted plants emerged, each one laden with the fruits of vengeance.

This leads me to believe with no doubts in my heart that Viozar betrayed the organization to pursue his revenge.  I told him I would give him his chance, but he was impatient.  So let's see if he was ready to leave the nest, or if he's only going to make himself food for a stronger man.        

Weakness: Viozar is consumed with hatred for the Empire.  He will always target agents of the Emperor, or subjects of the same, or people he thinks to be one of those categories.  Additionally, if he has the chance to hurt someone belonging to either of the previous categories, he will take it, unless it is an obvious trap or suicidal.

Statblock:

Viozar Blood
HD 3  AC 15  Atk (+2) Wrist Blades 1d6/1d6 or (+0) Bite 1d10
Mor 9    Saves 9 or less is a success

Concealable Blades: Viozar has two large blades concealed in his augmented wrists.  He is wearing metal, but he doesn't seem to have any weapons until he extends them as a free action.

Predator's Eyes: Viozar can see the heat given off by living creatures, enabling him to hunt in perfect darkness.  That being said, his vision is not infallible and can be rendered useless by being in a hot environment, such as a place where the rocks have been baking in the sun all day, or next to a bonfire.

Tactics:
- Try to ambush using stealth
- Darkness is your ally
- Attack suddenly with overwhelming force

Status: Traitor.  Viozar left to pursue his own vendetta, but I suspect that if he survives his foray with the other traitors, he will get himself killed attempting to assassinate a Provincial Governor or something similarly foolish.  Perhaps that is for the best, as if he falls into my hands once more, I intend to see how much of his prosthetics I can remove while keeping him alive.

                                                       by szaman86

Osel of Limestone Garden

Osel is in many ways, the archetypal Brother.  On one of the occasions where I found cause to leave my headquarters and travel to a distant land, I found her working in a silver mine, ripping precious ore from the earth for her uncaring masters.And while in all the other slaves I found only a vague, undirected resentment and an exhausted resignation, in her I saw something more, a glimmer of quiet, inner strength.  I knew at once what that was and freed her immediately.  Osel was given no chance to decline my offer, not that I suspect she would have, at the time. 

I personally trained and educated her in the ways of the Brotherhood.  First I taught her to crawl, then to stand, and finally to walk.  She began to run soon after that, much to my satisfaction.  Then I taught her how to lie, followed by how to control, to manipulate.  I never had to teach her to hate, that was one skill she already knew.  And she was good at it, too.  She grew rapidly under my tutelage.  I taught her everything she knows, with few exceptions.  I then assigned her some missions, all of which she passed with flying colors.  Even though she was barely minted at that time, I felt I was looking at a future pillar, maybe even a successor, if I ever passed.

Now, I want to address the rumors.  I understand how it looked, me spending so much time with a muscular, broad-shouldered Oxwoman, with her sweet smelling hair, and an initimable softness to her frame.  Yet that was never the nature of our relationship.  I never loved her like that.  She was a project to me, closer to a daughter or a little sister.  If she had asked me for such a thing, I would have done it, but only to please her.

But she rose too quickly, her appetites expanded.  She desired those things that were never meant for her.  She began to develop visions of grandeur.  For the longest time, I thought she shared my vision, but it appears I was fooling myself.  She dreamed of things far beyond my organization, of Power beyond what I could grant.  If only I had known, maybe I could have disabused her of that notion.  Alas, I was unaware of her intentions until she attempted to steal from me.

Or at least, that is what she claimed that she was doing.  I always suspected that she had much bigger plans, but I had no evidence and I felt that condemning my favorite pupil on the spot would have been too much.  It is the biggest regret of my life.  Had I killed her then, maybe all the later trouble she caused me could have been avoided.  I am just lucky that my Shadow didn't catch on at the time.  Had she been aware of my thought process at the time, she would have killed me on the spot.

Weakness: Osel is endlessly ambitious.  If she possesses one weakness it is that she will sacrifice anything to achieve victory.  She would allow all of her compatriots to die and the world to burn to a cinder if it would allow her to achieve her own ends.  And if she were to achieve them, well let's just say that it would probably result in a smaller-scale version of that.

Statblock:

Osel of Limestone Garden
HD 4  AC 13  Atk (+4) Weapon+3/Weapon+3
Mor 8  Saves 11 or less is a success

Arsenal: Osel carries a number of different weapons, including a bow and arrow (1d6+STR), a spear (1d8), a sword (1d6+STR- her STR is 15(+1)) and a concealed dagger (1d6).

Flying Snow: Osel can lighten her body, enabling her to jump vast distances, run along walls and walk on the surface of water.  However, while her body is lightened, she takes +4 damage from all physical sources and does -4 damage.  She may change her body back and forth as a free action on her turn.

Serrated Strike: Whenever Osel attacks someone and hits, if she doesn't like the result when she rolls for damage on a successful attack, she may roll again.  If the new roll is less than or equal to the original roll's base damage, she may add it to the damage done.  If it is higher, she may use that as the damage her attack dealt, and ignore the first roll.  She may do this once per day per weapon.

Tactics:
- Attack from range
- Use Flying Snow to gain the height advantage
- Use your technique for superior maneuverability
- Never get trapped on the ground or in a fight against superior numbers

Status: Traitor.  Osel is the true architect of this little endeavor.  She has bitten off more than she can chew and doesn't even realize it.  I hope in the end that her ambitions devour her, because I am not sure what I would do if I ever saw her again.  I can't imagine it would be good for either of us, though.
I have ordered Orvan to capture as many of the traitors as possible, but I have also permitted him to kill them.  With most of the traitors, I have granted him leave to follow his own judgement.  The one exception is Osel.  I want her alive.   

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

OSR: The Brotherhood of Broken Chains: Broken Blades

[The following is a compilation of a series of documents transcribed by Interrogator-Lord Marwen of Soliko, agent of His Imperium, the Emperor of Joyous Exultation, Lord Marzan's prayers be upon him.  The information contained within should be recognized as the opinions and thoughts of a law-breaker and do not in any way reflect the opinions, thoughts or desires of His Imperium or the agents of the Emperor or his loyal subjects.

All subjects detailed below are considered outlaws and law-breakers under Imperial Law.  All agents of His Imperium, if they encounter one of the individuals below should make all efforts to seize them, so that they may be brought before a Justice of His Imperium to receive due punishment.  Additionally, if any subject of His Imperium possesses the sufficient strength or skill with arms to apprehend one of the criminals, they should be awarded just compensation by an agent of His Imperium.

However, if any of the individuals mentioned in this file are to be caught, the agent of His Imperium strongly believes that they would be much more help alive and should be brought in for questioning and contrition.  Maybe they could be turned against their so called 'Brothers' and provide valuable information on the internal dynamics of the Brotherhood.

For further research, consult File E137-a-2 in the Imperial Archives for more information on the Brotherhood of Broken Chains' leadership and supposed history, File E137-b-56 for information on a particularly relevant group of criminals or File E137-f-31 for a look at some of the low-level members of the organization.  So says the agent of His Imperium.
]

There is a certain subset of Brothers I like to refer to as my 'Broken Blades'.  These are Brothers who are too useful for me to be rid of, but to troublesome to be permitted free rein.  As such, I keep them around, for the moment, but this is a situation that may change, depending on their performance.  For if any of my Broken Blades snaps again, I will arrange for their immediate termination.

                                                      by artikid
Vani, Daughter of Mettix

Vani is one of those Brothers who is a problem because I can't quite determine what my problem is with her.  Is it because of her impulsiveness?  Possibly.  Vani has difficulty keeping herself under control.  To put it simply, she is a degenerate, constantly falling in with rough men.  I'd say she lets herself be taken advantage of, but that undermines Vani's own contribution, which I am not going to understate.  The woman is notorious for her torrid affairs and infidelity.  I have permanently barred her from coming back to the island, forcing her to work out of one of our safehouses, on account of a certain incident where three senior Brothers got into a punch up over who's baby was growing inside her, as she was quite pregnant at the time.

I honestly don't know how she does it- her appearance is strange, or so I am told, even for a flat-face.  She is a Human, but with sagging skin, a large, pronounced jaw and strange, serrated teeth.  Yet for some reason, she never has trouble finding men.  I suppose that shouldn't be that much of an accomplishment in an organization composed mostly of unattached men whose central creed is based around breaking down the creeds, codes and restrictions that bind us, but still, it strikes me as odd.

Another thing that troubles me is that my spies have reported to me several times that Vani was pregnant and was going to or have already given birth to another child.  They told me this so I could prepare for her replacement, as most females in my organization who get pregnant retire from it, which is an acceptable risk, with certain exceptions.  However, Vani has never approached me or any of the other Pillars to ask for permission to retire.  Instead, she has always reported for duty and her children always end up vanishing under mysterious circumstances.  She is doing something with them, I am sure of it.  I have a Brother currently assigned to monitor Vani, with her objective to find out what Vani is doing with those babies.  And whatever she is up to, I have a contigency plan.  

Weakness:
Vani is fiercely protective of her children, at least while they are with her.  She will not do anything to risk them and will flee from any situation that might endanger them.  I am also told by my chief Physician that she is pregnant right now.  I wish her all the best, though she would be advised not to put her children before her Brothers.  That would be, unwise.

Statblock:

Vani, Daughter of Mettix
HD 3  AC 13  Atk (+3) Trident 1d8/1d8
Mor 7  Saves 9 or less is a success

Darkvision: Vani, Daughter of Mettix has incredible vision.  She can see in anything but pitch darkness, though when she is in the dark, she becomes highly sensitive to light.

Water Breather: Vani, Daughter of Mettix is a powerful swimmer and can breathe water as well as air.

Succubic Secretions: Vani, Daughter of Mettix, as an action, may secrete a pheremone cloud that affects all males within 15'. All within this cloud must save or be charmed by Vani, Daughter of Mettix, operating under the Maxim, "I love Vani and want to protect her."

Tactics:
- Charm some males
- Avoid direct conflict if possible
- Fight near water or darkness, preferrably both
- Ambushes are your best friend

Status: Active.  Vani is currently deployed with the rest of her team on a mission of minor importance, though she and her Brothers have been told otherwise.  I do not particularly care about the outcome of this mission in particular.  This game is a test, meant for them.  I have dispatched one of the senior Brothers to monitor their mission.  She will watch and wait, and see how this affair goes.  Regardless of what happens next, I look forward to reading the reports.

                                                     by NateHallinanArt

Baggolio Yori Utiko Manz Vorge

Baggolio Vorge is a skilled and cunning thief.  He was a highly successful cutpurse and highwayman, relieving many a nobleman of their jewels and silks.  He had made quite a name for himself in his local area, but the thing about successful criminals is that the second they get any notoriety, it tends to get to their heads.  Vorge was no exception to this rule and was soon boasting about his talents.  Thus, when he was asked to come along on a job to rob the Temple of a minor God, he decided he could pull it off. 

I've heard all about his plans and even knowing how they panned out, I am still impressed.  It could have worked.  But in every heist, there's always that one unexpected factor, that one situation you never thought to prepare for.  Every system, not matter how sturdy, hides the potential for Chaos.  And Vorge knows this better than anyone, as the night he attempted to rob that temple, he made the unfortunate discovery that the Deity had returned early.  Vorge choose to beg for mercy while his allies choose to flee, abandoning him.  He made the smarter choice, as most of his allies died soon after, cut down by the Deity's retainers or obliterated by the Godling.  Vorge was going to be sacrificed for his crimes, but an agent of mine intervened, springing him from the dungeon before the night that it was due to occur.  I still have no idea how that Brother did that under a Deity's watch.  Maybe the Brother bribed the Deity with a better sacrifice, or simply convinced it that Vorge wasn't worth such a noble death.  Or maybe the Deity wanted Vorge to end up in my clutches the whole time and permitted his escape.  If so, such a God is far crueler than I ever could be.

Vorge is an excellent thief and while he claims otherwise, he is also a skilled taker of lives.  His precision, focus and cunning made him a natural choice for team leader.  However, Vorge presents a problem for me in that he is just a little too smart for my organization.  For while the Brotherhood has a great need for intelligent operatives, it does not have the need for operatives smart enough to wonder why they should be taking orders from me.  So often do these types forget what their betters, nay, what I have done for them.  I hope that Vorge does not entertain such thoughts, or he may find himself returning sooner than he like, in a form he'd never want to be in.

Weakness: Vorge is proud.  He thinks himself more clever than he actually is and is thus, vulnerable to being tricked.  He won't fall for an obvious trap, but he will fall for something a little more complex.

Statblock:


Baggolio Yori Utiko Manz Vorge
HD 3  AC 15  Atk (+1) Daggers 1d6/1d6 or if thrown, (+3)
Mor 5  Saves 8 or less is a success

Knife Fighter: If Vorge manages to land a successful hit with his knives from melee range, he may, instead of making two attacks, burn one attack to automatically do 1d6 damage to the person he struck earlier, as long as he is in melee range.

Tactics:
- Throw knives at strong opponents to soften them up
- Then get in close and try to hit
- If you hit, use 'Knife Fighter'
- If you don't hit, start over

Status: Active.  Vorge has been told he and his team are on a simple mission to infiltrate an Imperial Governor's manse and retrieve a few valuable pieces for me.  However, I have also left a series of clues to reveal that this mission is actually an attempt to root out a traitor among their team.  Vorge believes he has discovered this due to his own cleverness.  And while this is completely false, the mission's secondary purpose may turn out to not be, especially if Vorge gets any funny ideas...

                                                                by GORILAZ4EVAR
Kina Artlett of Maggino Park

Kina Artlett is a Doeling, one of those delicate, skittish folk that have been comfortably squatting beneath the bulk of the Orzanian Giants towering over the world.  However, while the Doelings are usually characterized by their agreeability and conscientiousness, Artlett is anything but.  According to some of the other Doelings I've had cause to speak to, Artlett seems to fit their definition of madness well. 

This isn't much of a problem for me, though.  After all, where would the Brotherhood be without the mad?  Artlett is consumed by the belief that he is a much better fighter than he actually is.  He consistently underestimates his opponents and overestimates his own abilities.  He is not a frenzied individual, prone to rages or fits, but seems quite lucid.  His madness manifests in that whenever he assesses an opponent, he is almost always wrong.  It'd almost be amusing, if it wasn't so sad.

This is why Artlett is here instead of assigned to another squad.  For while I have absolutely no worries about Artlett even thinking about betraying me, his madness has destroyed almost all of the potential he had, crippling him.  And the worst part is that he doesn't even realize it himself.  The amount of pity I feel toward this unfortunate Brother amazes me.  Sometimes I worry I have grown soft. 

Weakness: Kina Artlett cannot gauge the strength of his opponents.  He almost always underestimates his opponents and often quite seriously.  It is a miracle he hasn't decided to pick a fight with an opponent absurdly stronger than him yet, as there is no internal reason for him to not have done so already. 

Statblock:

Kina Artlett of Maggino Park
HD 1  AC 12  Atk (+1) Fists 1d6 or Sunday Punch
Mor 11    Saves 7 or less is a success

Inaccurate Assessment: Kina Artlett is insane, so his reason has consumed him, warping his reality into a self-reinforcing loop.  This means that Artlett consistently underestimates his opponents.  When assessing an opponent, Artlett has a 5-in-6 chance of underestimating an opponent.  He will be correct in guessing an opponent's strength occasionally, but that is pure, dumb luck.

Sunday Punch: Kina Artlett can make a stronger punch that does 1d10 damage, but only against targets with weak armor.  It also doesn't work against those wearing helms.  Artlett may only use his Sunday Punch every 1d4 rounds. 

Tactics:
- Inaccurately assess your opponent's strength
- Rush in and attack the closest or strongest opponent
- Be totally fearless

Status: Active.  Kina Artlett is currently on two missions.  The first is from me and is to accompany his fellow Brothers on their retrieval mission.  The second is self-assigned and it is to fight every single strong warrior in the world.  I wish him success in both of his endeavors.

                                                            by ZhaKrisstol
Nazaria Golga

The Brotherhood of Broken Chains is an organization that has persisted for so long because of its segmented, compartmentalized nature.  Brothers are only told what they need to know and squad leaders only know slightly more.  Among our ranks, knowledge is often more valuable than gold and guarded far more zealously.  It could be said that the best way to think of my organization is not as a cult or a criminal organization, the hypocrites, but as a vast web of secrets.

But nature abhors a vacuum and since facts are difficult to come by, my operatives have busied themselves with inventing all sorts of wild theories about how the organization functions and what my final goal is.  I have even utilized this process myself, using certain loyal Brothers to insert rumors into the main body of the organization, to misdirect operatives from certain ideas and to plant others in the minds of a select few.  However, most of these rumors are simply home-grown.

Most of these tales are wild and salacious, falling in and out of favor.  There is one tale I wish to recount here, though, as it is very popular and very long-lived.  It is the story of the Executor.  The Executor is a secret operative who directly serves the Master of Chains, an Elder Brother who possesses almost as much power and knowledge as the Master himself.  But unlike other Brothers, the Executor has only one mission.  To find those who are going to, or already have, betrayed the Brotherhood and to eliminate them.  From there the rumor has spawned dozens of competing theories about who the Executor is and what they are.  Some say that the Executor is my Shadow, or a Senior Brother everyone would recognize.  Others insist that the Executor is actually some sort of magical beast or hideous monster, or maybe even a vile demigod that dwells in the lowest levels of my stronghold, feeding on the souls of traitors.  A few even suggest that the Executor is hiding in plain sight, pretending to be some low-level Brother while hiding their true potential.  This is the theory I have worked hardest to discredit through covert means, as it is true.

While I do not refer to her as, nor even use the title of, Executor, I do have a Brother who secretly receives assignments from me to remove certain Brothers from the organization.  Her name is Nazaria Golga and she has proven most effective at her job.  Golga is a ruthless and skilled operative, with almost no regard for her own safety and the frozen, burning hatred I find oh so useful in this line of work.  Golga has filled the position for several years now, skillfully maintaining her cover while exterminating traitors and suspected traitors.  Several times I have even ordered her to infiltrate highly secure prisons to terminate Brothers who had been captured and I supected would crack under pressure.  I never expected her to actually succeed at these missions, but she has.

This is actually a cause for concern, if I may be honest.  Golga is a killing machine, of course, but the level of success she has achieved is nothing short of pretenatural.  I have decided that I will keep her where she is for now, but I am also making plans to remove her from her position, as well as from my organization, permanently.  This will be my immediate course of action if I find out that Golga's victories were of anything other than her own merit.    

Weakness: If Nazaria Golga possesses a weakness, it is that she takes great pride in her unbroken string of successes.  She will make any and all attempts to complete a mission, even at great risk to herself and others.  She is obsessed with victory.

Statblock:

Nazaria Golga
HD 5  AC 14  Atk (+4) Atlatl 1d8 or (+1) Dagger 1d6/1d6
Mor 9   Saves 10 or less is a success

Enchanted Spears: Nazaria Golga has imbued her Atlatl's spears with magical power.  Anyone who is hit by one of them receives an additional effect, a -1 penalty to all attacks and damage rolls per hit.  At any point, Golga may lift these penalties from someone as a free action.  See 'Spontaneous Combustion' for what happens when she does that.

Spontaneous Combustion: If Golga wishes it to, any person with a -1 penalty on him has that penalty removed from him, but he also takes 1d6 fire damage.  This stacks per -1 penalty, to a maximum of 3d6.  Once the initial burst, the target also takes an additional 1d6 damage per round he is still on fire. 

Tactics:
- Lay penalties on the most dangerous foe
- Light them up
- Avoid melee combat unless absolutely necessary

Status: Active.  Golga is a highly skilled operative, which is good, because she would be wasted doing almost anything else.  Right now, she is traveling with a group of Broken Blades who are on some issue of minor importance.  Her primary mission is not to complete the mission, but to watch the group.  If any of the other Brothers commits one of the unpardonable sins, she is to immediately terminate the offenders and bring me back proof of their demise.