Sunday, April 8, 2018

GvM: Summoning Eldritch Horrors for Fun and Profit

Summoning is a disturbingly common ritual among Those who Know.  It is easy to conceptualize, and easy to do, and has quick results.  Those who Know summon Spirits of Knowledge and otherworldly creatures to gather information, Wizards summon and bind the ethereal inhabitants of other planes for any number of mischievous schemes, and the elite are said to summon Outsiders for assassination, espionage, or to spice up their orgies.  Even the Company are said to summon creatures, on a rare occasion.  That being said, Summoning is very easy to do, but very hard to do safely.  It carries with it a number of risks, most centering around the being you are trying to summon.

The prime problem of summoning is that it requires you to know the name of a specific being, to call it forth.  But of the common names know, most of them are of very famous, very powerful beings.  So while it is not listed below, the real first step for a Summoning Ritual is to find out the name of a creature, either a specific one or just any creature that you can summon semi-safely.

But this leads to a secondary problem.  For example, almost everyone knows what the names of the Folk's Queens are, or who the First Vampire was.  But the first rule of summoning is this: the stronger the being, the less likely they are to accept an invitation.  Even lesser beings can refuse a summons, and powerful beings are much more likely to not answer, so to speak.  Remember, this ritual does not compel someone to arrive, it is an invitation, nothing more, nothing less.  Though once someone arrives they can only leave with your permission.  But in that case, the whole situation changes from "I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me," sort of situation.
Also, before I delve into the ritual itself, I will note one thing.  Their are many different variants of this ritual, and almost all of them work.  Some are quite exacting in their steps, others much more lasseiz-faire.  This is the middle ground, the one that seems to work the best with the minimal amount of effort on your part.  For example, some merely describe a pentagram and some candles, while others prescribe you ritually bathe yourself, then don natural robes of pure cotton and perform the ritual at times of astrological significance or at certain points of latitude and longitude.  And while I have not investigated all these variants, I do believe that some of these extra precautions may be necessary to contain a more powerful Outsider.  So if you are going to summon a Lord of the Folk or something of a similar magnitude, I would not rely on my version of the Ritual.  

Finally, a note.  Outsiders are stronger, faster, and more powerful than you.  So be very, very careful when summoning one.  Odds are, if you do something wrong, it ends poorly for you.

Summon Outsider
Description: Summon a being from outside our world to do something for you.
Ingredients: You will need some chalk, 5 candles, salt, matches, four trustworthy friends, a compass, a name, and a sacrificial animal (Depends on the creature)
1) Draw a circle in chalk.  It need not be perfect, but the closer it is to perfect, the better.  Some sources claim red chalk is best, but any color should be fine.
2) Draw a pentagram inside the circle, with its top pointing north.
3) Have your between three to thirteen of your most trustworthy friends postion themselves, one standing by each point of the pentagram.  The position does not matter, except for whoever stands at the northern point should be the most strong-willed (Highest CHA).  Make sure they do not step over the chalk lines as well.
4) Place a candle in front of each one.  I hear that red candles work best, but any color should be fine.
5) Make a circle of salt around each of your friends, and place one where you are going to stand.
6) Then make another larger circle of salt encompassing them all and the pentagram.
7) Take the host creature or person and place it within the central area of the summoning circle.  Make sure it is restrained or otherwise compelled to remain within the circle.
8) Light the candles and take your spot within your circle of salt
9) Speak the thaumaturgic words and equations you were told to, and say the creature's name.
10) If you did everything right, the circle will begin glowing, and something will emerge from the center of the circle.  Magic will happen, and hopefully the thing you summoned will arrive.  If so, proceed to step 11.
11) Now, you can ask the creature you've summoned for whatever you want.  This will entail a negotiation.  Now summoned creatures react differently, but almost all of them are suave as they come.  They will try and get you to release them with no oath.  DO NOT DO THIS.  Instead, make the creature swear an oath to you that they will do what you ask.  In exchange, the creature will make its demands of you.  If you come to an agreement, both of you must verbally promise to each other that you will do as the other asks.
12) If an agreement has been reached, and you need the creature to remain in this world for a while, smudge the chalk circle in front of you.  That will release it from the pentagram.  Then break the larger circle of salt.  Assuming you have negotiated that the creature will not immediately assault you, you may step outside your circle of salt.
12.1) However, if you have not reached an agreement, dismiss the creature and tell it to leave.  Do not be vague.  Say something along the lines of "Return to where you came from" or "Leave our world and return to your own" and "shove" the creature away (Make a CHA check). 
13) When the creature has done its task and has been paid, it will leave.  Until these obligations are fulfilled, it will be stuck here, assuming it is not a nigh all-powerful being.  And if it is a nigh all-powerful being, no advice I can give you will help you.

Beware of Failure

The Summoning Ritual is very, very popular, despite its manifold dangers.  Summoning creatures from another universe is just too fun or too useful, it seems.  But while useful, it is also a ritual that is easy to mess up.

The first and easiest way to do this is to not complete steps 1-9 correctly.  If you do this, then nothing will happen, and you'll have wasted an hour and a few dead animals.  But while embarrassing, this is not a dangerous way to mess up the ritual.  So it is better to fumble early on, rather than later.

Secondly, if you have improperly constructed or rushed or forgotten parts of the containment, then the creature will not be trapped within the center of the pentagram, and will be free to move.  Most will still pretend to be trapped, until they decide they might get a better deal out of you.  Additionally, a creature that is bound improperly can leave whenever it wants to, in both senses.  It can leave the pentagram at any time, but it can also leave our universe with a thought (as a free action), though it won't be able to get back until it is summoned again.

Thirdly, and this is the second most common way to mess up the ritual, is to make a bad deal.  Most summoned creatures are very savvy negotiators, and they haggle like a combination between a fishwife with a record breaking trout and Donald Trump.

Also, as a side note, most arrangements look like this: For X, you will do Y for me.  However, in an event where you cannot give me X, I want Z.  But if I cannot give you Y, I will give you H.

The agreement can be as long and as complicated as you want it.  And when an agreement is reached, you both must swear to obey it.  Once you do that, it is binding, and cannot be broken, except with the consent of both parties.

And those are the most common ways to mess up Summoning.  Remember to always exercise extreme caution when doing so, and never, ever trust what a summoned creature says, until you have its oath.  And maybe not even after that.  

And if you remember nothing else, remember this: never summon something alone.  

Some Outsiders you can Summon

Explosion Man

True Name: The sound of meat being torn apart by a high-pressure blast wave

Proper Host: A predator (human or animal) fitted with explosives and doused in gasoline.  The explosives should be armed.  Before you begin the actual summoning, light the animal or person on fire. 

Special Instructions: Make a big circle for this one.  And you might want to put a concrete box or something in the center of it.  A traffic barrier works wonders.  Take your sacrifice and chain it to the barrier, then tie the explosives as close to the head as possible.  This is so you can use less explosives and place everyone in less danger.  Then have everyone hit the deck and detonate the explosives.

Also, make sure it is an impressive predator.  If you tie det-cord around a weasel and blow it into bloody shrapnel, he might now show up.

Looks like: A naked man covered in hideous, third degree burns from the top of his bald head to the bottom of his feet.  Has ethereal flames constantly burning around his body.

What does he want?: Explosion Man wants to witness explosions, to participate in contests of valor, to fight and duel powerful opponents, and to destroy important or valuable things.

What can he do for you?: Explosion Man can explode.  He is a crude, if effective assassin.  He is also perfect for making a distraction or destroying something no one else can break.  He can also prove to you that fire insurance wasn't a waste of money.

HD: 8

Powers: Explosion Man can detonate himself as a full action, dealing 3d6 damage in a 30', save for half.  He then regenerates after 1 full round.  He can do this 3/Day.
He can also cause the thin curtain of flame clinging to his body to transform into a howling vortex.  This incinerates non-magical projectiles before they strike him and does 1d6 fire damage to anyone within 10' of him.  This also causes anything flammable around him to catch on fire.  Try not to fight him indoors.    

The Father of Corpses

True Name: a death rattle, mingled with the tears of a mother whose baby has just died

Proper Host: A goat or a lamb that is at least a year old, submerged in oil.  Shove the beast under the surface and make sure it cannot resurface.  Then begin the ritual.  If you have done it correctly, the goat or lamb will resurface as the father of corpses, the excess flesh and blood filling the area around it.

Special Instructions: Do not have any lights with you when he arrives.  If there are any on, he will not arrive.  He will provide light for you to see, if he is pleased with your offering.  Always address him as Father, or My Lord.  Do not use his name except in the summoning.  Be respectful and deferential.   

Looks like:You won't see him well, but he resembles a giant skeleton, clad in a robe of black silk.  Bone fetishes adorn his body, and his pockets are heavy with lost treasures.  Underneath his robe he wears garments of human skin and lined with human hair.  Over his cold, bony hands he wears gloves made from the soft skin taken from the faces of women and young children

What does he want?:The Father of Corpses is mercurial.  To see what he wants, roll on this table below.

What does Father want?
1: Nothing.  He is curious what you want.  If your request is novel, he will grant it without asking for anything.  If you have nothing interesting to ask, he will leave immediately, unless you try and stop him (Succeed a CHA save).  But if you try and trap him here and try and force him to do anything for you, he will curse you to die, and die soon.  To determine what is novel, consult what he can give you.  If the players ask for something interesting or doesn't quite align with what is below, then it is novel.  If not, then he will most likely not help you.   
2-5:  A specific person has lived more then they should, or is attempting to cheat death.  Father cannot stand this.  Find them and deliver them to him within 1d20 days, or he will take you as recompense.
6: You.  Father wants you to kill yourself.  If you agree to do so after he has performed some service for you, he will aid you with whatever you ask of him.  However, if you are not willing to kill yourself, he understands, but will not negotiate further. 

What can he do for you?: Father knows anything the dead know, knows the whereabouts of treasures and objects only the dead remember, knows who is alive and who is dead, and can locate the corpse or remains of anyone who has died. 

HD: 7

- Can animate any corpses within 100'.  These corpses rise as 1 HD zombies under his control.
- He can summon the ghosts of people you have murdered*.  If you have killed anyone in an unjust way, they will claw their way out of hell and return to attack you.  These murdered souls have as many HD as they did while alive, and do 1d6+STR cold damage on a hit.  If you have not murdered anyone, nothing happens.       
- He can pull the soul of your body.  Make a CON save.  On a failure, he plucks your soul from your body.  On a success, he cannot take your soul yet.           

*Murdered here means someone who you killed in a deliberate manner, that was not in self defense or sanctioned by an official body, such as a Nation or the Company.

The Hungry Darkness, the Hivemind of Chaos, He who Arrives

True Name: As if you'd be worthy to speak it!

Proper Host: He asks for your eyes, for once he comes, you will see nothing more.  He demands your skin, for nothing will protect you from his punishments.  He will take your lips, for now you will speak nothing but his praises! 

Special Instructions: Take off your jewelry and your ornaments, leave them at his feet.  Shave your heads and cut your beards, leave yourself as smooth as a child.  Then clothe yourself in sackcloth and rags and pour dust on your head.  When you approach him, lay on your face.  Do not speak unless spoken to, worm!

Looks like: You are unworthy of seeing his beauty!  The stars shine at his command, in the hopes that their light might shine upon his holy flesh, and are extinguished at his word.  In his right hand he holds a dead star, and in the left, the Candle whose Flame is Shadow.  And his eyes!  His eyes!  They see all; they see you!  He knows what you plan, he can see through yours schemes.  Do not resist, or your punishment will be far more severe.

What does he want?: He wants what is rightfully his, unbeliever.  He was entrusted your life a thousand thousand generations ago: you personally.  He engineered this very moment, everything up until now has been his plan.  Doubt all you wish, but every step you take was predicted and calculated for!  Bow at his feet, it is inevitable you will do so, whether now or once he is finished. 

What can he do for you?: He could do all for you!  You could be like him, a God among Men.  But you will reject him, run in fear, run from your destiny!  So he will take your bones so you will melt like tallow.  He will take your blood, so you suffocate even as your lungs fill with air!  He will take your heart, and even as it thunders in your ears, he will dine on it! 

HD: Your pathetic weapons could not possibly harm Him!

Powers: He has been given power of all things, including you!        


True Name: David Robert Green

Proper Host: A live chicken, placed on a silver platter.

Special Instructions: Be nice to him, okay.  Dave is a cool guy. 

Looks like: A Caucasian, 20 year old man with brown hair, some stubble on his chin, wearing casual clothes about 1d10*10 years out of style.

What does he want?: Conversation, batteries, CDs, food, gossip and information on where he is or what's going on in the world politically.  

What can he do for you?: Dave can help you with anything a 20 year old college dropout could, or with something relating to his powers.  

HD: 1

Powers: Dave appears to be completely invincible.  Every weapon every deployed against him has failed to kill or even mortally wound him, though he can be hurt and feels pain normally.  He's been shot, stabbed, punched, run over by truck, and blown up and yet, somehow, he survived it all.  Despite of, or perhaps because of this, he is very paranoid and will run away from any situation where he thinks getting hurt is an inevitability.                               

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