Friday, December 1, 2023

OSR: Yugoloths: Ripened Company

by Victoria Yurkovets

Other Yugoloths:

Shiver Squad: Shock Troops

Gelid Squad: Silk-workers, infiltrators and spies

Bluster Platoon: Magical powerhouses, negotiators and administrators

Vernal Company: Amphibious Light Infantry

Floral Squad: Magically gifted Lordlings rejected by their peers

Sumhigh Squad: Sappers and Siege Specialists

Swelter Squad: Magical Ninjas and Assassins

There is a City, much known, but widely feared, a glittering promise.  Buried in an inhospitable desert, concealed by enormous, shifting dunes, it glints like a mirage, a glittering oasis of green and glass, shining spires rising out of the sand.  One would think it a hallucination until you walk the streets, wide and paved, passing the performers, the singers and jugglers, the tumblers and dancers, the vendors hawking everything from grilled lizard on skewers to glossy robes in the finest fashions.  It is a City of wonders and glorious excesses, where any injury can be healed, where immortality can be found, where any pleasure, no matter how depraved, can be indulged.  It is a drunken, swirling fever dream; it is the City called Al-Kanari, Queen of Oasises, Jewel of the Desert, and it is the City of the Verdaloths.  

The Verdaloths:

The Children of Sorrowful Jane, the Verdaloths were one of the few success stories the Sewing Circle had when creating the Yugoloths.  Created to be healers and support units to their brothers, the all-female Verdaloths proved to be imminently capable at their jobs, healing and sustaining any Yugoloths they trained with.  But when the Book of Names disappeared, the Verdaloths did not scatter to the winds.  Instead, they traveled with their kin, supporting Yugoloth armies and providing vital support.  They were prized by other Yugoloths, who spend large amounts of time and energy trying to court them.  

It was that, most likely, that dashed the Sewing Circle's careful plans.  For the Verdaloths possessed the one flaw that all Yugoloths possessed, the one thing they had learned from the Sewing Circle above all: greed.  The Verdaloths slowly realized how valuable their powers were and how not only valuable they could be to other Yugoloths, but to outsiders.  In fairness, it was probably only a matter of time before they followed their brothers and went rogue.  

The Verdaloths left and as a group, went looking for a home.  For a time they traveled, being greeted first with fear, then suspicion, then finally joyous celebration.  They healed the sick, made the lame walk and the blind see.  They were a blessing and people flocked to them.  Not that they worked for free, of course.  Even back then, getting a Verdaloth to heal you was expensive.  But it was safe, effective and almost instanteous.  Who wouldn't leap at such an offer?  And so the Verdaloths became rich.  But wealth attracts parasites and thieves, those who wish to take what you have.  Additionally, when you're nomadic, it's hard to actually carry enormous quantities of wealth.  There is a reason why nomadic people measure wealth in things that can move, like livestock.  

The City:

So the Verdaloths concocted a plan.  They could have easily settled in almost any city or nation, but they didn't want to be bound to anyone, nor have to follow anyone else's rules.  So they went out into the badlands and found a tiny oasis out in the desert along a forgotten stretch of coast, visited only by the occasional smuggler's skiff and the herdsmen who brought their goats here to drink.  There they built a City, a decadent, glowing metropolis where anything was for sale and nothing was off the table.  

From there, the Verdaloths send out their emmissaries and their agents to promote business, collect debts and inspire people to come and visit them with tales of miracles.  Injuries healed, lost limbs regrown, life extended, youth and beauty restored: all available, for an appropriate fee.  

Verdaloth Organization:

Unlike their fellows, the Verdaloths do not hold to a more traditional military-esque hierarchy.  They instead are divided up into Sororities, semi-autonomous orders that function like the halfway point between guilds, social clubs and secret societies.  Together, these Sororities govern the City of Al-Kanari, feuding and squabbling with each other, usually only cooperating in the face of an external threat or a sufficiently large business opportunity.  

The Sororities are each run by a Matriarch.  Each Sorority assigns their leader a different title as befitting the traditions and culture of the Sorority.  From there, each Sorority will have it's own focus; some focus on aesthetic improvements and the pursuit of beauty, while others work to develop new and more efficient biological weapons, some investigate diseases and their interaction with life and various other pursuits.  

The Verdaloths who carry out this research are the upper-tier of the Sorority, the Elder Sisters.  Below them you will find the common Sisters, who help the Sorority run it's various businesses in the City, as well as assisting their Elders with research and other things they need done.  Finally, lowest of all are the Daughters, who are sent out into the world to handle commissions, drum up business and maintain the reputation of the Verdaloths as miracle healers and a worthwhile investment.

Most of the time, if you are not in Al-Kanari, any Verdaloths you will meet are either Daughters or low-ranking Sisters who are out on assignment.  

A Note on Appearance:

Verdaloths are the masters of flesh and bone- as such, they often look radically different from their base forms or how they did when they were born.  Verdaloths are hatched from eggs and emerge with an insectile appearance, resembling large grubs or larvae.  They then pupate, emerging from their cocoons in humanoid forms, though they keep their insect features, such as antennae, carapace, a hard shell, compound eyes and the like.

Verdaloths do not usually show off their true forms, though most of them don't think of their bodies like other mortals would.  To them, their bodies are naturally plastic, so changing them is not so great a burden.  As such, Verdaloths will change their form to fit new stages in their life, a change in social status, on the orders of a higher-ranked Verdaloth, or for aesthetic or practical reasons.  More information on how a Verdaloth might look can be found below or by a particular Verdaloth's profile.  

A Note on their status as Yugoloths:

The Verdaloths are content to assist their kin for reduced prices, but they are largely uncaring toward the other Yugoloth factions.  They have achieved wealth and power and now they are loathe to risk any of it.  They are on cordial relations with their Mother, Sorrowful Jane, and will occasionally assist her with her plans, for a fee.  

The location of their Book of Names is unknown.  Some speculate that it was abandoned in the desert, or tossed into a deep gorge.  Others speculate that it is hidden somewhere in Al-Kanari, as the Yugoloths are covetous and selfish above all, and would never abandon a potential attempt to dominate others.      

by Kiguri
Number Appearing: 1 + X Bodyguards (see below)
Alignment: Lawful or Neutral Evil
Languages: The secret Yugoloth tongue, their Sororities' secret language, the lingua franca, 1d4 other local languages
Treasure: Varies depending on the Sorority and status of the Verdaloth (see below)  

Base Verdaloth Statblock:
HD Varies, see below
AR Varies, see below
Atk One weapon Attack or One spell, see below
Mor 8
Saves (7+HD) or less

Innate Spellcasting: Verdaloths have Mana Dice (MD) equal to their HD.  They does not trigger Chaos, but their MD do burn out on a 5 or 6.  They know the spells Alter Self, Healing Touch and X other spells.  To determine which, roll on the Verdaloth Spell table below.   

Regeneration: Verdaloths can absorb Mana to heal themselves.  As a free action on their turns, they can convert MD to HP.  They do this by rolling as many MD as they want.  They then recover [sum] HP.  MD used like this are automatically burned out.  

Reinforcements: All Yugoloths know at least one of the True Names of their kinsmen, usually a member of the same squad.  However, because they will not compel their kinsmen to respond, and because most Yugoloths are selfish by nature, their kinsmen will not always respond.  As an action, the Yugoloth can attempt summon that other Yugoloth to aid them in whatever the first Yugoloth was doing.  

Any member of Ripened Company has a 20% of being able to summon back-up from their own Sorority, or a 50% of summoning a Yugoloth from another unit.  The Officers of Ripened Company have a 50% of summoning a Yugoloth from their own Sorority and a 80% of summoning a Yugoloth from another unit.  

- Hide behind your Bodyguards
- Avoid anything that could endanger you
- Only fight if the odds of actually being in danger are extremely low
- If in danger, run or if that's not possible, beg for your life

by Maxa-art
To customize a Verdaloth, roll on the tables below:

What is this Verdaloth's status?

1- Daughter.  One of the lowest members of her Sorority, this Verdaloth is busy dealing with the contracts that her superiors require her to carry out.  She is overworked and busily getting disillusioned to the true state of her situation.  She has 3 HD, AR 2 and 3 MD.    
2- Sister.  An occupant of a lowly rung of her Sorority, this Verdaloth has a bit more power than a Daughter, which she guards with every ounce of her strength.  Unlike a Daughter, she is likely to have her own agenda, as well as rivals to contend against.  She has 4 HD, AR 3 and 4 MD.    
3- Exile.  This Verdaloth does not belong to any Sorority, but was expelled from the company of her kin and her City.  She was given some wild quest or scheme to accomplish.  Should she be able to do so, she will be able to return as a full member of their society.  Fail to do so and she will lanquish in the company of strangers forever.  She has 1d4+2 HD, AR 1d3 and MD equal to HD.  
4- Criminal.  This Verdaloth has committed some sort of crime and is currently on the run from other Verdaloths and potentially, other Yugoloths.  Roll 1d3 to see what identity she claims for herself.  Regardless of what she claims, however, she is wanted by either her previous Sorority or if her crime is serious enough, the Matriarch Prime.  She has 1d6+1 HD (min 3), AR 1d3+1 and MD equal to HD. 

What Sorority does/did she belong to?

1- Aedic.  Named after the mythical garden in which the first mortal souls dwell, this Sorority prizes the pursuit of grace and beauty.  This Verdaloth is exquisitely beautiful, her form sculpted through magic.  Though note that her ideal of beauty might be very different from yours.  If she is idealizing the Wolfling's ideal of beauty, she is not likely to be super appealing to a Frogling or a Lizarian.  If you are attracted to her (Referee's Discretion), you must successfully save to take harmful action against her.  You automatically pass this save if she takes an action to harm you.   
2- Eteros.  This Sorority is the most research and scholarly oriented.  Unlike their kin, they are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the area of biology, medicine and magic.  They seek to increase all these, in the hopes of increasing the power of Verdaloths in general and themselves in particular.  Besides this, they are also devoted to the study of life extension, with the goal of finding and developing a cure for death: in a word, immortality.  This Verdaloth's body is designed for survival- she has natural weapons, scales for protection and one of the following 1d4 [1= Wings, granting her the blessing of flight; 2= Gills, letting her breath underwater; 3= Thick natural armor, granting her the protection of medium armor even when naked; 4= Acid spit, letting her spray acid as an action (2d6 damage, 15' cone, save for half, usable every 1d4 rounds).]  
3- Sinis.  Unlike the other Sororities, Sinis teaches that all things in life are temporary.  As such, those of Sinis change their forms like clothing, discarding and putting them on as needed.  This Verdaloth will look like whatever would most benefit her in this situation, whether that be ugliness, beauty, strong natural defenses or simply looking plain and non-magical. She could be a vision of beauty, a hulking organic tank or a plain-looking farmwife.  
4- Ulkara.  This Sorority is dedicated to the acquistion of political power, status and wealth.  As such, Verdaloths associated with it will grant themselves queenly guises, never pretending to be anything they are not, but also softening their image to make themselves seem approachable and not as alien.  For example, in the land of the Froglings, a Verdaloth might give herself green skin or black spots on her brows to subtly mirror the amphibious folk that live there.  ULkarans are always escorted by soldiers from the reigning authority, whether that be house troops from the local aristocrats, professional soldiers from the standing army or men hired from famous sell-sword companies.  They find those with power and status and use them as shields, so threatening them means threatening very important, powerful people.  

How many spells does she know?

Daughters know 1d3+1 other spells.  

Sisters know 1d4+1 other spells.  

Exiles know 1d3 other spells.  

Criminals know 2d4 other spells.

What spells does she know?

5- Birth Cancer
18- Sculpt Flesh

New Spells:

Birth Cancer
R: 10' T: creature D: one action

One creature within range must save.  Creatures with 3x or more HD than [dice] are immune.  Creatures with more HD than [dice] may add the difference to their saves.  Creatures with less subtract the difference.  

On a failed save, the targeted creature develops a cancerous tumor.  This tumor will begin growing next round.  Each round it will reduce the creature's STR, DEX and CON by [dice].  This will continue for 2[dice] rounds, until the tumor stops growing at an accelerated rate.  It will then continue growing at a normal rate.  Creatures reduced to 0 CON by the tumor die.

If cast at 3 or more [dice], the caster can also cause a tumor to form but it grows at a normal rate.  This makes the tumor virtually undetectable without magic.

Note: The tumor continues to grow at a normal rate after the duration ends.  If untreated, creatures with a tumor will live for a number of years equal to (remaining points of CON)-[dice]. A result of 0 or less means the creature has only 1d10 months left to live.  This tumor can be treated via normal methods, such as surgery, powerful magic, exposure to radiation or drinking poisonous substances.  And of course, the Verdaloths would be happy to remove it for you, for a small fee.

Sculpt Flesh
R: touch T: creature D: [dice] rounds

For the duration, you may manipulate the skin or flesh of living creatures as if it was clay.  You can rearrange, reshape and alter the appearance of flesh.

For every [dice] past 1, you may select one of the following options:
- You can alter the color of any skin you touch if you so choose for the duration
- You can change tissue types.  You do this by reducing one of a creature's ability scores and moving those points to another ability score.  This only works for STR, DEX and CON
- You can make any change to the creature's body done through another spell or magical source permanent
- You can manipulate bone as well, bending it without breaking it

How many bodyguards does she have?

Daughters have 2d4 Bodyguards.  Bodyguards are hired by the Sorority the Verdaloth serves and are charged with protecting her and keeping an eye on her for her superiors.  They will prioritze her safety above all, even her own will.

Sisters have 1d6+3 Bodyguards.  

Exiles have 1d6 (exploding) Companions.  Companions are those the Verdaloth travels with, but their relationship to her is more complicated.  Her Companions are 1d6 [1= Her friends; 2= Her lovers; 3= Her family, biological or found; 4= Her bondsmen, they have enslaved her; 5= Her captors, they have kidnapped her or are holding her against her will; 6= Her business partners.]    

Criminals have 2d6 (exploding) Companions.  

What are her Bodyguards/Companions?

1- Humans, on horseback and armed with short bows, lances and swords.  Will attempt to run down or impale any enemies.  Will use bows when retreating or to soften up tough enemies.  
2- Oxmen, armed with huge swords, crossbows and bristling pikes, with tower shields.  Will form a tortoise with the Verdaloth in the center and pelt enemies with crossbow bolts.  
3- Orzane, armed with two-handed axes, hammers and maces.  Will work themselves up into a furious rage and charge in a wild, blood-crazed rage.  
4- Lizarians, who fight with nets, bolas, tridents and sword-breakers.  Will work in small teams, restraining and pinning down enemies before stabbing them to death.  
5- Morcai, who rush their enemies with spears and slings.  They will spit poison into your eyes and bombard you with projectiles, while their spearmen rush and attack the blinded.
6- Crocolings, armed with swords, shields and javelins.  They wil challenge their foes to individual duels and if they start losing, all abandon honor to gang up on the weakest one.
7- Coyoons, armed with crude bombs full of hallucinogenic powder, curved swords, bows and paralytic venom they smear their blades with.  They will pelt you with poisonous projectiles, then only close when you look vulnerable.  
8- Wolfmen, armed with short axes, javelins, spears and bows.  They attack in a howling mass, seizing the weakest and hacking them to pieces before your eyes.  Terrifying to horses and other herd animals.
9- Bearman, armed with clubs and huge hammers.  Will just wade in and start swinging, counting on sheer strength and mass to win the day.  
10- Dwarves, armed with axes, warpicks, hammers and the best crossbows you've ever seen.  They will be wearing heavy armor and so will form an armored wedge that carefully advances, while crossbowmen pick off anyone who tries to flee or flank them.
11- Mixed unit, roll 1d10 1d4+1 times.
12- Modified Unit.  Roll 1d10 again, but this group of Bodyguards has been modified with 1d6 [1= Thicker natural armor- +1 HD; 2= Enhanced Adrenal Glands- they don't take damage until next round and seem unable to feel pain; 3= Cat's Eye- they can see very well in the dark.  This group usually travels and fights at night; 4= Poison glands- they do +1d6 poison damage on a hit, having smeared their weapons with their poison; 5= Quadrupedal- they have been transformed into bizarre parodies of a centaur, their lower bodies replaced with four limbs.  This lets them move as fast as a horse and carry heavier loads, though they can't fit into tight spaces or most buildings; 6= Wings- they can fly.]     

All Bodyguards have 2 HD, AR 2, Atk Weapon (1d6+2), Mor 13, Saves 9 or less.  

All Bodyguard detachments of 4 or less are lead by a Bodyguard Sargent who has 1d3+1 HD, AR 3, Atk Weapon (1d6+3), Mor 12, Saves (7+HD) or less.

All Bodyguard detachments of 5 or more are lead by a Bodyguard Lieutenant who has 1d6+1 HD, AR 4, Atk Weapon (1d6+4), Mor 14, Saves (7+HD) or less.

The leader of the detachment always count as part of the total number of Bodyguards- it is not (X Bodyguards + the leader).   

by SassyNugget
Notable Members:

You are not likely to encounter any of the high-ranking Verdaloths out in the wild as almost all of them spend all their time in the City of Al-Kanari.  If you do so, this is for an event as important as the Coronation of a new emperor, the signing of a historic peace treaty or the outbreak of a major war.  Such Verdaloths will also travel with great caravans of slaves, servants, retainers and soldiers.  The following are a few of the Verdaloths you might find out in the wild or outside Al-Kanari.

Yana Jadehair

True Name: Caremi [ka-rem-E]

Appearance: Yana Jadehair usually takes on the form of whatever the majority race of the town or city she is visiting.  She usually keeps some alien features to signal the fact she is not normal.  Right now she has taken the form of an extremely beautiful (if you're into Canids and Mammal girls) Wolfman female with black and pale green fur, with silver highlights.  She has also kept the anttenae and spines on her elbows and wrists from a previous form.  She tends to dress in a very regal and feminine way in whatever the local fashion among rich woman is. 

Yana Jadehair is an ambitious young Daughter from the Ulkara Sorority.  She is young and inexperienced but full of passion.  She has a monstrous ambition and plans to rise to the top of her Sorority, maybe even to the status of Matriarch, or Gods Above, Matriarch Prime.  She is idealistic and actually believes what her Elders tell her, that those who work hard and excel at their work will be rewarded, as well as the naive notion that the hierarchies within the Verdaloth Sororities are meritocratic and based on competence.  

In truth, none of these things are true.  The internal hierarchies of the Sororities are a place of brutal office politics based on the most vile and dirty tactics, including violence, intimidation, black-mail, seduction and rarely, assassination.  Those who ascend the ranks are rarely the most competent or hardest working, but the most vicious, cunning and deceitful.  This is a truth that becomes blindingly obvious once you have spent enough time among the Elder Sisters of any of the Sororities.  

Of course, Yana does not know this.  As such, she is currently taking to her work with zeal.  Her current work is working as healer for an army under a general who is famous for winning many victories, even when outnumbered or outmatched.  She has been doing this, but also has been contacted by a group of agents loyal to the King that the general works for, who are concerned about their Sovereign's relative lack of popularity, especially in contrast to how famous and well-liked the general is.  They want her to kill the general and make it look like an accident.  She is not entirely opposed to this, but is waiting for a sign to see which way she's going to move.  After all, if the general revolts now, he might be able to take the throne.  And regardless of whatever happens, she plans on standing with the winners.  It should be noted that neither of these options are, or would be, sanctioned by her superiors back in Al-Kanari. 

Besides this, she is also looking out for opportunities to meet important or powerful people, potential money-making opportunities and potential alliances she can forge.  She plans on being a big name one day, and as such, is looking out for any opportunity to advance herself.  She would likely find a wandering group of mercenaries with no strong ties to anyone the perfect allies to recruit, for the deniability such a group could provide, as well as the potential to fleece them out of a little money for some easy healing.

Weakness: Yana has a towering ambition.  She will be great one day, she knows it.  As such, she is not one for careful planning, maneuvering or patient steps.  She would rather risk everything on the grand gamble, let her future be decided by a toss of the dice.  She has confidence Fortune and Destiny are on her side.  

Along with all these other goals, her only other goal is to seduce the leader of her Bodyguards, a Wolfman by the name of Tenvir Swiftwind.  Tenvir, unlike his charge, is a grizzled and experienced warrior and mercenary.  He is very experienced with the horrifying internal politics of Al-Kanari and knows better than to attach himself to an ambitious young Verdaloth who is likely to end up crushed and or potentially killed.  If that happens, he's not going to be dragged down with her.  His only goal is to survive this current contract, only two more years left, then try to leave this accursed City and retire.  

Statblock Changes: 

She Has:

HD 3
AR 2
MD 3

Innate Spellcasting: Yana knows the spells Alter Self, Healing Touch, Anti-Life Aura, A Small Death, Birth Cancer and Wave of Mutilation.

She has 7 Bodyguards.  Her Bodyguards are led by a 7 HD Wolfman Bodyguard Lieutenant named Tenvir Swiftwind.  Her Bodyguards are Dwarves, see "10".  

Yana's Treasure:    

Five pouches full of copper coins, gifts and payment from individual soldiers.  Each pouch contains 3d6 coppers.  (10 Coppers = 1 Silver; 10 Silvers = 1 Gold).  She also has a trunk full of fine clothes, including a set of enemy uniforms carefully concealed under a mass of fancy dresses heavy with cloth-of-gold and other valuable things.  

She also is owed a larger sum on behalf of her Sorority, four chests of 280 Silver each.  These are being kept under guard by her employers at the moment, but are near her.  Note that no one will steal from these, as cheating a Verdaloth is a good way to find yourself in a "I have no mouth and I must Scream" situation and that's not even counting how if you steal or cheat from them, no Verdaloths will ever come to your aid. 

by Remarin
Caisha Stoneye

True Name: Abriesha

Appearance: Caisha looks like a Coyoon female with golden fur and a mostly normal appearance with the exception of her eyepatch.  However, she usually modifies one of her eyes depending on the circumstances- if trying to intimidate someone she might make it resemble a hollow cavity, or a tiny mouth; if trying to impress someone with her power, she might make it look like a glowing gemstone; if trying to seduce someone she might make it look like a different color than her other one, which is plain, ordinary brown.  In the stories they tell about her, people attribute many powers to her concealed eye- some say that to look upon her concealed eye is to instantly die.  Others say it lets her read the mind of anyone who she looks at it with, while others say it can see the future.  None of these are true, but the stories are extremely common and widespread.  Some of these stories also mention that she is a Verdaloth in disguise, while others, who are more used to the eccentric appearances of the Verdaloths, think that she is just a Coyoon Maga.    

Low-ranking Verdaloths often go on "Missionary Journies" or a "Healing Tours".  These consist of her traveling to lands nearby Al-Kanari and telling everyone about the wonders available there to experience or for sale, the money-making opportunities and the other reasons to go.  She will also heal those who need it, a few for free, while some for a discounted price.  Her job is to drum up business and entice people to come.  In the land around Al-Kanari, this is an uncommon, though not unheard of thing.  Additionally, especially if you are moving along one of the primary caravan routes, it is not so rare to see a Verdaloth traveling with her escorts, whether to one of the stops along the way through the desert surrounding Al-Kanari or to the lands beyond.  

Caisha Stoneye is a Verdaloth taking advantage of this fact.  She is a criminal fleeing the justice of her own people.  Her crime is the theft of a certain Verdaloth's possession, namely one of her favored slaves.  The slave in question is a young slave boy by the name of Ula and is known for his beautiful singing voice and pleasant face, both of which came about naturally.  The Verdaloth who kept him used him for entertainment and as a personal servant, but Caisha became obsessed with him, seeing him as an unpolluted spring in the midst of a toxic morass.  She "rescued" him and took him with her when she fled the City.

Caisha was a Sister in the Ulkara Sorority, but she gradually became disgusted with their hunger for wealth and power above all other concerns.  She, unlike so many of her Sisters, was burdened by an unfortunate malady: a conscience.  She also felt plagued by her own guilt- there were plenty she could have helped, but instead she turned a blind eye to them.  They could not have benefited her in any way, or even paid her.  As such, they were nothing to her.  But upon seeing Ula, she was struck by a desire to save him, to prevent him from suffering the same cruel fate as she did.

To do this, Caisha left Al-Kanari and established her own criminal fraternity.  She used her powers to act as an underground healer for criminals, no questions asked, all for reasonable rates.  Then as she became trusted, she seduced certain key players to her side through money, power and beauty.  Soon she established her own syndicate, one known as the Green Branch Brotherhood.  They deal in all sorts of illegal goods, smuggling, theft and running protection rackets.  She uses the ill-gotten gains from her schemes to maintain a quiet house for Ula.  He and Caisha now live together, where he enjoys a life of music, education and art.  

Weakness: Caisha feels desperately guilty for her previous crimes.  She wants to make up for them in any way she can.  She knows how hypocritical her past and current actions are and is tangled mess of guilt, self-recrimination and earnest desire for redemption, even as she commits more wicked deeds.  If she saw an opportunity for redemption, she would take it, unless it was obviously self-destructive or a blatant trap.

Statblock Changes:

HD 3 
AR 3
MD 3

Innate Spellcasting: Caisha knows the spells Alter Self, Healing Touch, Carnal Armor, Eliminate Pain, Overdrive and Sculpt Flesh.

She has 7 Bodyguards, all who are members of the Green Branch Brotherhood.  They are Coyoons, see "7".  They are led a 7 HD Lizarian named Avzov of House Kilpri.  He has been modified by her to be even larger and bulkier than other Lizarians and thus is able to command the usually undisciplined and clannish Coyoons.

Caisha's Treasure:

In her headquarters, she has a stash of 200 Coppers hidden in her safe, along with 6 Silver and 1 Gold.  

The majority of her wealth is concealed in other concealed places, mostly concealed in buildings she owns and would have a reason to visit (such as her the servant's quarters of her house).  This stashed wealth consists of 170 Silver.

She also has an ultra-secret final stash of 120 Gold, concealed from everyone, buried under her house and extremely well concealed.  Within her home she also has 2d4 pieces of art and other luxury goods that could easily sell for 3d10+10 Silver each.  

by Materclaws
Scarana Truegaze

True Name: Esha

Appearance: Scarana resembles a large insectile creature, humanoid and covered in a mix of soft flesh and hard outer shell, with compound eyes, antennae and clawed, three-fingered hands.  Her one concession to vanity is her hair, which is composed of a series of short, crystalline fibers closer to a bird's plumage than fur or hair.  This is close to what Verdaloths naturally look like, though they rarely assume such forms.  

Scarana is a Daughter of Eteros, one of the Sororities that is dedicated not just to the pursuit of pleasure and beauty, but instead seek to advance the power of all Verdaloths through the use of rigorous, philosophic study.  Scarana is one of the most dedicated of their young researchers, dedicating all the time she is not working on Sorority projects on her own research.  Unlike many Verdaloths, she finds the lure of gold and carnal pleasures to be far less interesting than the pursuit of knowledge and through it, power.  

Scarana, like many of her fellows, is mostly busy doing grunt work for her Sorority, assisting Elder Sisters with their research as well as helping to run the various operations that keep Eteros flush with coin.  When she is not doing that, however, she is dedicated to the holy grail of Verdaloth research: immortality.  While all Verdaloths are interested in expanding the power of their Arts, as well as pursuing immortality, for Scarana it is an obsession.  She is utterly devoted to the idea of immortality and is confident she can find it.  

Does she have the slightest clue of where to begin, or how to even start?  No, she does not.  However, she is determined and hard-working and is certain that it is possible, she just needs to find it.  Whenever she travels she always seeks out scholars, archives, libraries and other sources of arcane and esoteric lore, seeking any information that could help her in her quest.  She also wishes to meet a real immortal, so she can examine their body and see how it works.  

Weakness: Scarana is weaker than a lot of her kin when it comes to her innate magical abilities.  She is not a cripple, but she is definitely weaker than most of Eteros' other Daughters.  She knows this causes her superiors to overlook her and resents her more talented sisters.  She has a massive chip on her shoulder and desires to prove her superiority over others, and will not overlook an opportunity to do so.  She is easily angered and challenged, though she will avoid challenges she doesn't believe she can win, such as strength or swordsmanship.    

Statblock Changes:

HD 3
AR 2 
MD 3

Innate Spellcasting: Caisha knows the spells Alter Self, Healing Touch, Grasping Vine and Overdrive.

Acid Spit: As an action, she can spit a 15' cone of acid that does 2d6 damage, save for half.  This ability is only usable every 1d4 rounds.

She has 7 Bodyguards, who are Wolfmen, see "8".  Her Bodyguards are led by a 3 HD Bearman by the name of Wise Argol. 

Scarana's Treasure:

100 Silver, stashed in a locked coffer.  She also has a portable alchemical set for mixing potions, a set of chalk, and several books on the philosophy of magic, natural philosophy, biology and history.  She also has several journals full of notes from unfinished experiments and notes on incomplete projects, such as the true identities of potential immortals. 

by Plasmidhentai
Verdaloth Plot Hooks:

1- A wealthy client has a rare disease or malady that no healer can cure.  He needs you to escort him across the desert to Al-Kanari as quickly as possible, as he believes (not incorrectly) that the Verdaloths should be able to cure him.  
2- A group of Unclean (Lepers) are engaged in a crime spree, robbing and pillaging.  They are doing this because they have heard there is a Verdaloth near and want to be cured: but they cannot afford the prices she charges.
3- When in court, the party is asked to steal a sample of hair or blood from the new heir, as the King is worried about the boy's paternity.  He wants you to bring it to the Verdaloth he keeps on retainer and ask her to identify it for him, to see if she can identify if the boy is really his heir.  
4- As above, except the King is also cheating on his wife with the Verdaloth, who looks like an insectine creature to the Court, but in private she takes on whatever form he wishes.
5- As above, except the Queen was unfaithful and wants you to secretly bribe the Verdaloth to confirm the boy's paternity and maybe subtly alter him a bit so he more resembles the Queen.
6- A Verdaloth scholar is seeking out information on immortality for her research.  She is willing to pay you a handsome sum if you break into an well-defended and certainly booby-trapped arcane laboratory to steal anything useful and bring it to her.  
7- A Verdaloth scholar is willing to pay you a princely sum if you will kidnap someone for her.  The Verdaloth is interested in this person because she believes he is immortal.
8- A pair of armies are at war, but while one side has a Verdaloth, the other does not.  The general hires you to sneak into the enemy camp and kidnap the Verdaloth, or at least keep her away from the battle-field for a while, so his men's morale doesn't collapse further.
9- One of the Kingdoms near Al-Kanari's Kings has suddenly died, leaving no clear successor.  While all the most popular heirs are busy raising armies and trying to assassinate each other, a Verdaloth hires you to help her with a scheme; the deceased King conquered the Kingdom and destroyed the previous dynasty, with one exception: the last daughter of that old dynasty, who was born in captivity.  The Verdaloth wants you to rescue her from the monastery she is being held prisoner in so they can groom her into a puppet ruler.  Now the Verdaloth doesn't say it like that, "Restoring her to her rightful throne" would be how she put it, but that's what the Verdaloth wants.    
10- In a Kingdom ruled by a drunkard King with many heirs, the seventh prince plans to eliminate his rivals and take possession of the throne.  He plans on doing this by black-mailing the Verdaloth kept on retainer to help him fake a series of "accidents".  The Seventh Prince hires you to help with these assassinations, offering a large sum of gold.  He might also dispose of you once he's done with you, unless you prove particularly powerful or useful.  
11- As above, except for the Verdaloth has hired you to steal the incriminating evidence from the Seventh Prince so that he cannot influence her anymore, thus allowing her to be free of his control.
12- The King's pet pegasus got loose and was eaten by a Giant Spider!  The courtiers responsible for accidentally letting it escape are scrambling to fix this, as if the King finds out what happened to his favorite pet, he will probably hang the lot of them.  They need the party to capture a horse that looks "exactly" like the Pegasus and then bring it to the next City over. The courtiers know there is a Verdaloth there and want the party to hire her to make the horse into a Pegasus.  Whether or not she can actually do this is unknown, but they are prepared to pay dearly to avoid the noose.  

by RyzzTan

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

OSR: The 99 Names of God

This post is a companion piece to this one.  When selecting which one of the Secret Names of God to give to a Prophet or which one the players find in some sort of random location, roll on the table below.  

At the beginning of time the Authority created the world and everything in it (according to the Church).  It is this feat, among others, that prove to us that the Authority is the one true God, the God of Gods, the One who Upholds the Universe.  

Then, in His infinite wisdom and grace, the Authority created lesser beings known as the Gods, and allowed them to contribute to the Authority's creation.  These beings then proceeded to make changes to the Authority's creation, filling it with all sorts of things, both beautiful and terrible.  This is why the world is broken, for the Authority permitted the creation of things good and ill to demonstrate the truth to His children, both divine and mortal.  

To aid them in their creative process, the Authority also gave his divine children the Words of Authority, or as the Church knows them, the Secret Names of God.  Each one of these Names, when spoken aloud has the power to alter reality in accordance with the will of the speaker.

According to the Canon of the Church, there are 99 of these Names.  Each one is sacred and if discovered, should be returned to the Church for everlasting spiritual (and potentially earthly) rewards.  Not all the Names are in the possession of the Church or Gods aligned with the Church's Protector, Zulin, High King of Heaven.  According to the bureaucracy of Heaven, the Church possesses 35 of the Names.

The Shattered God Heresy:

It is common knowledge that the Authority rules through other Gods and other mortals.  Church doctrine teaches this is because of free will.  But in 670 AR (After Rebirth- the date when the Prophetess Hesaya was first reincarnated by her husband, Zulin), a Bishop of the Church named Oria put forward a novel and wild hypothesis.  This new teaching was that the Authority had utilized all of His power to create the universe and thus could not act to influence the world.  The Lost Words of Authority, the Secret Names of God, he said, were part of the Authority's soul and when he created the universe, his soul was fractured into all things.  

This teaching, known as the teaching of the Shattered God, the Shattered God Heresy or simply Orianism, gradually blossomed into a variety of competing teachings.  Oria taught that the Authority need not be acknowledged as much as He was, and it was more important to pray to Zulin and Hesaya.  He also taught that Hesayans should look to the teachings of other religions for advice on what to do and adopted many of these practices himself.  

Some of his disciples went further and claimed that the Authority is dead and the Heavens empty, or if they were not that extreme, they simply argued that the Authority was a powerless shade who could do nothing and was not worthy of worship.  

It was at this point than a Conclave of Bishops was called to discuss the issue.  Luckily, this Conclave was called when the Prophetess was among us, so she was able to lend her authority to it.  After many days of prayer and fasting and furious debate, the Bishops declared that Orianism was a heresy and that any who refused to recant would be excommunicated.  

Despite this threat, many heretics refused to recant and Oria himself fled the city, just ahead of the secular authorities who sought to arrest him for his many other crimes that he could now be prosecuted from, as he was no longer under the aegis of the Church.  And though that was many, many years ago, it is said that there are still small communities of Orianists out in the wilderness, practicing their own, wildly divergent version of Hesayanism.

But how do they work?

The Secret Names of God are a piece of knowledge that cannot be shared.  If told to someone, you will forget and only they will know it.  Words cannot be stolen or taken by force, only given and received.  The most common way for a mortal to receive a Word is when a Prophet is loaned a Word by their God in order to accomplish a great feat or pursue a holy mission.  The only other ways are if a mortal tricks a God out of a Word or finds one that was lost, though these cases are much less common than folk-lore would have you believe.      

When one possesses one of the Words of Authority, one can speak and alter reality based on what that Word is.  

Consider the Word "Speak".  A Prophet with this Word can order anything he wishes to 'Speak'.  When he does so, the Referee should assign a DC to the action based on how in accordance with what the Word is and how likely it is to work, how easy the task is, how likely his God is to grant his request, etc.  

For example, if the Prophet comes across a book written in a language he does not speak, he can command the book to "Speak in his language."  If he succeeds, the book will either translate itself or it may speak aloud in the language the Prophet used and explain itself to him.  Or if interrogating a prisoner who refuses to talk, the Prophet could try to order the prisoner to "Speak the truth" and force the prisoner to talk and tell the truth.  

Note that certain requests may be impossible, either because of the Word or because the God who gave the Prophet the Word he is using would not want it used for that purpose.  For example, a Prophet could not use the Word 'Speak' to light up a dark room or if someone was keeping a secret that the Prophet's God didn't want getting out, the Word could not make the person reveal that secret.          

The 99 Words of Authority:

1- Speak
2- Seal/Close
3- Mend
4- Open
5- Release
6- Pass
7- Cut
8- Destroy/Kill
9- Burn
10- Purify
11- Corrupt/Degrade
12- Illuminate
13- Dismiss
14- Call/Bring [Forth]
15- Send
16- Solidify/Harden
17- Raise
18- Lower
19- Crush
20- Silence
21- Enrage/Rage
22- Calm
23- Purchase/Redeem
24- Steal/Take
25- See
26- Blind
27- Quicken
28- Slow
29- Stop
30- Make
31- Invigorate
32- Weaken
33- Connect
34- Bind
35- Consume
36- Conceal/Hide
37- Chill
38- Guard/Protect
39- Reveal
40- Restore
41- Distort
42- Alter
43- Progress
44- Move
45- Change
46- Return
47- Forget
48- Remember
49- Grow
50- Wrath
51- Sorrow
52- Truth
53- Peace
54- Command
55- Suffer
56- Wither
57- Vanish
58- Submit
59- Fight
60- Love
61- Repent
62- Pardon/Forgive
63- Storm
64- Expel
65- Freedom
66- Hate
67- Fill
68- Clear
69- Fear/Frighten
70- Dream
71- Wake
72- Save
73- Hold
74- Speed
75- Think
76- Seed
77- Build
78- Disassemble
79- Duplicate
80- Hear
81- Empty
82- Dissolve
83- Fuse/Combine
84- Fear
85- Charm/Seduce
86- Convert
87- Appoint
88- Delegate
89- Promote
90- Record
91- Dictate
92- Hold
93- Shrink
94- Remove/Remand
95- Teach
96- Appeal/Petition
97- Accuse
98- Bury
99- Breathe 

by fangogogo

Saturday, November 11, 2023

OSR: Runesmiths and their Arts

This post is a companion post to this post.

by Zezhou Chen

Rune-Smithing is one of those pseudo-magical arts that is looked down upon by Wizards despite it's many, many uses.  People are all for practicality, but nothing gets in the way of snobbery.

What are Runes?

Runes are symbols that, while not magical in and of themselves, when mana is channeled through them, produce magical effects.  This makes them highly useful for a wide variety of purposes, from defense to weapon development to medicine and countless other purposes.  

How does it work?

First, decide what runes you want to inscribe onto an object.  Runes form a crude alphabet of sorts, so in theory you can do anything with them, but in practice the more complicated an effect, the more likely a Runesmith will get a weakened effect or it will simply not work at all.  So general theory is to limit the number of Runes as much as possible to maximize the effect the Runesmith desires.

Then, inscribe the runes onto whatever object you are working with.  Runes can take almost any form- they can be pounded into metal or chiseled out of stone, embroidered into cloth, carved out of wax or even written on paper.  

Finally, charge the runed item with energy.  For small items, the mana of the user is often enough.  For larger items, it is much more common to use a Mana Crystal or Mana stone.  Mana crystals are small stones that are charged with mana and used by Runesmiths to power their creation.  In traditional Rune-Smithing, Mana Crystals are almost always real crystals or gemstones.  White quartz and diamonds are the most prized, but many other types of crystals and all gemstones will work too.  

In more recent times, some Rune-Smiths have started working with specially prepared glass spheres or cubes which they claim work as well (almost) as well as natural gemstones.  Some Rune-Smiths have also found success with 'Mana Stones' made of platinum, gold, silver or other exotic materials.  Usually these are designed like jewelry and often take the form of bracelets, bracers, necklaces or torcs.  Since they almost always take circular shapes, these are sometimes called 'Mana Circlets' or 'Vita Circuits'.  

Wow, that sounds amazing?  Why doesn't everyone use Runed items?

Well for one, Runesmiths rarely share their knowledge.  Just like the Wizards they envy and the other Sages they scorn, Runesmiths rarely share their secrets.  Learning the language of Runes is a product of years of hard labor and is very rarely given away for anything but money and power.  

Secondly, Rune-Smithing is very powerful and those with power want to keep it, so most Rune-Smiths serve either powerful organizations, ruling families or the State.  Their knowledge is restricted and those caught illegally teaching it can and will be punished for their indiscretions.  

Thirdly, Mana Crystals tend to be...reactive.  A sharp impact, a sudden burst of magical energy ("I cast Fireball!") or excessive background magic can prematurely trigger either runes or Mana Crystals, causing wild and unpredictable effects.  Sometimes this is as minor as some destroyed clothes and a close shave, while in other cases, it ends in the kind of hideous injuries that make industrial accidents look tame.  

by KoTnoneKoT
Common Types of Runes:

Warding: Wards that are designed to keep certain things out.  

Protection: Wards that are designed to protect the wearer/user from something, such as from a type of elemental damage or possession.  

Enhancement: Wards that improve the item they are on. 

Destruction: Wards that channel mana to create a destructive effect.  

Concealment: Wards designed to hide something.

Mana Crystals:

Gemstones: Can store up to X Mana Dice, or MD, where X is the number you multiply 100 by to get the value of the stone in silver pieces.  For example: A 400 silver piece stone can store 4 MD.

Natural Crystals: Can store up to 10 MD.  To determine how much any random Crystal can store, roll 1d10 upon acquisition.  Note that the clearer a crystal, the more it can store.  Opaque crystals cannot store mana.  Examples: White Quartz stores 7-10 MD, depending on quality; Moonstone stores 5-8, depending on quality; Lapis Lazuli stores 4-7, depending on quality; Pink (Himalayan) Salt stores 2-4, depending on quality. 

Worked Glass: Depending on craftsmanship, stores 1-4 MD.  These, while generally more fragile, can be easily purchased from other Runesmiths, Alchemists or glass-makers.  

Worked Gold, Silver or Platinum: Depending on craftsmanship, can store 3-8 MD.  These are only made by other Runesmiths but can be purchased, but only for high costs.  Price of materials is not included.  

How does this actually work?

If your player is playing a Runesmith, he will have a number of Runic items and a number of Mana Crystals to power them.  For example, our Runesmith is named Gin.  Gin has a Razorsoul Sword and a Suit of Firebane Armor.  He also carries three Mana Crystals, which we will assume are charged with power.  Think of the amount of Mana he has stored as charges.  If he has 3 Mana Crystals that can store 3, 5 and 7 MD each, he has 15 MD available.  Each time he wishes to activate one of his Runic items, he must spend at least one of these MD.  Once spent, these charges are gone and the Mana Crystals must be recharged in order for him to use his items again.

How do I charge Mana Crystals?

Firstly, you can donate your own Mana.  If you have at least 1 level in Wizard, Sage or any other class that gives you access to your Mana, you can infuse a Mana Crystal with your Mana.  Unless listed otherwise, you have MD equal to your COG+CON modifier.  You can also get other Magi, Sages or friends to donate their Mana to you.  

Secondly, you can build Mana by wearing a Mana Crystal while doing something that requires effort.  This can be anything you find difficult, from sewing to exercise to struggling through advanced mathematics.  1 hour of effort = 1 MD.

Thirdly, you can tap a source of natural Mana.  Sources of natural Mana include the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, Storms, the Ocean, the Stars, dimensional rifts and other locations where wild Magic is common.  This energy is very volatile and extremely difficult to work with, but it can be harnessed using advanced equipment.  This source is most commonly used to power large projects, such as an entire castle covered in Wards, as it's generally not worth the effort for anything smaller.  Additionally, if any of the equipment you are using to tap a source of natural Mana breaks down, you can very easily cause the magical equivalent of a nuclear disaster.

Runesmith organizations usually conceal the knowledge of how to build such devices from their members and outsiders, but will be willing to allow members to utilize them to charge Mana Crystals.  Outsiders may also be allowed to use such devices, for an appropriate fee.

Fourthly, and though this is (usually) forbidden and hilariously illegal, you can use blood sacrifice.  Kill creatures and steal their life-force.  This works on all living things, from beetles to people and everything in between.  However, doing this tends to attract a lot of attention, especially from the local Witch-Finders and others charged with policing the use of Magic.  Additionally, the Runesmith orders have no tolerance for such behavior and when they become aware of it, they will begin working to destroy the "Bloodsmith" or "Soulsmith".  Your death will be long and painful if they catch you.        

A Note on Safety:

Runes, when not charged with Mana, are just markings on whatever surface that you marked.  They can be erased, scratched out or destroyed.  Beware of this- if your Runic equipment suffers damage to it's Runic structure, that will quickly lead to problems.  At best, this means that the item in question will cease working and will need to be fixed.  At worst, it means that charging said item could trigger a new and unexpected magical effect.  Hopefully, this is one of those cases where your Runic sword just glows and fizzles, instead of one where it suddenly explodes and takes your hand with it.  

Similarly, Runic items are made of normal materials.  Unless covered in Runes of Protection and Charged with Mana, your Runic items are no harder than whatever you made them out of.  Unlike a Magic Item, which is harder than normal and resists it's own destruction, Runic items are just tools that can do novel things.

artist unknown
Common Runic Items:

Wands and Staves
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 10
Wands or Staves are common weapons used by Sages, Alchemists, Artificers and Runesmiths.  Each one produces elemental damage of a specific type.  Requires a chunk of that element or something charged with that element's energy in order to work.  Damage rules can be found here.      

Anti-Scrying Charm
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 5+X (X equals the penalty you wish to impose)
A charm, usually a necklace of some kind that when active, makes the user harder to detect via divination magic or through the use of a Scrying Glass or similar device.  Depending on quality, grants a +X penalty to anyone attempting to find you with magic, a Scry glass or similar device.  Ex: If your Charm grants a +4 penalty to any such attempt, the DC to find you with divination magic increases by +4.    

Simple Charms: X = +4 to any DC.  Require no special materials.  
Advanced Charms: X = +6 to any DC.  Require flawless jet or black pearls to craft.
Expert Charms: X = +8 to any DC.  Hide the user from precognition or any visions of the future.  Requires a body part from an anti-memetic creature or a creature that cannot be detected by Seers to craft.
Master Charms: X = +10 to any DC.  Hides the user and anything near them from precognition or any visions of the future.  Requires Voidstone to craft.

Trueshot Charms
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: Varies
Single-use charms, usually drawn on pieces of paper and attached to projectiles.  They boost the accuracy of said projectiles by a degree, depending on the level of complexity.  

Simple: +2 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 5
Advanced: +4 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 10
Expert: +6 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 13

by Todge69
Healing Charms
Rarity: Uncommon to Very Rare
Crafting DC: Varies
The most prized of all the Runesmith's art, Healing Charms are prized by rulers and the powerful as a means of easing convalensence, guaranteeing health and preventing assassination.  Depending on their effectiveness, they can either speed a length hospice stay, drive off diseases or make the wearer all-but immortal.  

Anti-Possession Charms
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 8+X (X is effectiveness)
Charms that are designed to make the wearer harder, if not impossible, to possess by ghosts, outsiders or other spiritual entities.  Can be made of paper, sewn into fabric, pressed into metal or in the most serious cases, tattooed onto the skin.  

Common - Resistance to Possession - +2 to Crafting DC.  Requires a white feather to craft.  
Uncommon - Immunity to Possession - +4 to Crafting DC.  Requires either a set of honest merchant's scales, a judge's badge of office or a lady's hankerchief to craft.

Razorsoul Blades
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: 10
Blades that are enhanced with Runes that when Charged with Mana, they become sharper and harder.  Depending on the quality of the blade used, the blade can tolerate only up to a certain amount of MD being used to charge it.  Using more MD than the quality of the blade will tolerate causes a chance of a catastrophic failure.  

Common Blades - 1 MD - +1d6 damage 
Fine Blades - 2 MD - +2d6 damage
Superfine Blades - 3 MD - +3d6 damage
Masterwork Blades - 1d4+2 - +Yd6 damage, where Y is the maximum the blade can tolerate

Furious Heart Charms
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 8
Disposable, single-use bombs that when empowered with mana produce explosions.  Can be made of ceramic, metal, paper, fabric or any other type of material.  Furious Heart Charms can also be modified to do damage depending on what type of Runes they were inscribed with: the most common types are fire, cold, lightning, thunder, radiant or necrotic, but there are other less common types.      

Furious Heart Charms - Xd6 damage, where X is the number of MD spent to Charge the Runes.

Enhancement Jewelry
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: Varies
Enhancement Jewelery or just Enhancement Jewels are pieces of Jewelry engraved with runes that enhance the physical abilities or properties of the creature that wears it when the device is Charged.  There are various types- Physical Attribute, Attack and Vitality.  

Physical Attribute Jewels enhance the wearer's physical ability scores, such as STR, DEX or CON.  Attack Jewels boost the wearer's Attack power and grant bonuses to Attack and Defense rolls.  Vitality Jewels increase the wearer's total HP.

Rarity: Varies
Crafting DC: Varies
Runic Armor is the prize and the obsession of Runesmiths the world over.  For generations, the various Runesmith orders have competed to see who can create the ultimate fighting system.  This obsession has led to an incredible variety of terrifying suits of armor, one for every occasion, based on a thousand different philosophies.  The most common types are Spellbane, for fighting Magi and spell-casters; Elemental Endurance, for resisting powerful elemental effects; Manhunter, for stealth; and Iron Soldier, for the professional warrior.


Runesmiths vs. Artificers:

The difference between Runesmiths and Artificers is small, thin and largely a matter of perspective.  An uneducated person would insist there is none and they would be somewhat correct.  The difference is that while Artificers generally investigate the use and building of Mana-based equipment and machinery, Runesmiths seek to study the full implementation of the language of Runes.  So while Artificers must have working knowledge of the Runic tongue, they do not delve into it with the same level of depth.  They are technicians, while Runesmiths all aspire, if not achieve scholarship.  

The other main difference is that while Artificers tend to spend their days plundering ancient tombs and rooting through piles of old scrap looking for useful things, Runesmiths tend to look toward the future.  They build new things and unlike their cousins, who are often lone tinkerers or dwell in small collectives of scholars, Runesmiths tend to come from large organizations that either work directly for the State or work in close partnership with it.  

And while all Artificers can expect to get their hands dirty, not all Runesmiths do.  While many must dirty themselves with the nitty-gritty of maintaining Runic equipment and supporting their patrons, the privileged few get to spend their lives in the ivory tower of academia, studying and learning Without any unpleasant intrusions from the real world and it's unpleasant realities.

Types of Runesmith:

Academic Runesmith- The elevated royals of the Runesmiths, these lucky few spend their time in comfortable halls, studying ancient books and new treatises, studying the implementation of the Runic language, learning grammar and syntax, studying and experimenting to create new Runic technologies.  They are the few, mocked by their envious cousins among the lesser branches of the field.  Despite this, many of the great ideas of modern and ancient Rune-Smithing first emerged here and gradually trickled down to other types of Smith.    

Artisan Runesmith- The most common type, these are Runesmiths who serve in the large guilds or Runesmith organizations.  They are most common in places and societies with more Runic technology.  It is their job to facilitate, maintain and repair such technology.  And while the organizations they serve are often powerful and influential, most of them are little better paid than craftsmen of any other type.  

War-Smith- A sub-set of above, these are Runesmiths who are permanently attached to the military or form their own special regiments.  These Smiths aid the army through the building of war-machines and other devices that enable soldiers to fight better, harder and more easily.  A War-Smith might be tasked to help build an enormous war machine, or to improvise a method of allowing an army to pass over a raging river after the enemy has destroyed the bridges.  Unlike many other Runesmiths, War-Smiths are used to working with limited resources, improvising and taking wild gambles in the hope of success.  If a Runesmith has abandoned conventional methods of advancement and gone off to become an Adventurer, odds are they got the idea from some time serving with the army.    

Artificer- Though most of them wouldn't consider themselves Runesmiths, nor would other Runesmiths, Artificers usually possess a working knowledge of Runes.  Most of the ancient technology they study worked on Runic principles, which have remained relatively consistent over the centuries, due to the largely static nature of the Runes.  Despite this fact, most Artificers lack any deep knowledge of Runes as a language, thinking of them largely in terms of inputs and outputs.  

Rune-Knight- Rune-Knights are elite soldiers who utilize specialized equipment to be terrors on the battle-field.  Depending on what their War-Smiths can manufacture and maintain, a Rune-Knight can be anything from a powerful foe to a demigod of blood and iron.  Most Rune-Knights are attached to larger forces, acting as Shock Troops or Rapid Attack forces, but in other cases a Rune-Knight might be a noble soldier, fighting alongside his house guard and retainers, maintaining his weapons through his personal wealth.  

Wandslinger- The lowest and most common branch, these are soldiers who have a basic knowledge of Runes and use them to effectively utilize Wands, Staves and other basic Runic technologies.  While most of these types are drop-outs of more prestigious institutions or self-taught mavericks, some organizations or groups train small groups of elite soldiers to utilize Runic technology and Wizard Weapons to act as commandoes and special forces.  And while other Runesmiths might scoff at them, Wandslingers can still be terrible enemies to face, especially when their limited technology is paired with elite soldiers and rigorous training.  

by Jillian Venters
Make your Own:

The following are rules for crafting your own Runic creations.  

How big is it?

- Small (Base DC 4)
- Medium (Base DC 6)
- Large (Base DC 8)
- Huge (Base DC 10)

How many sentences would it take to describe what you're trying to do with the Runes?

- One or less (+0)
- Two or Three (+2)
- Three to Five (+4)
- Six or more (+5)

How many effects will it cause?

- 1 (+1)
- 2 (+2)
- 3 (+4)
- 4 (+6)

How complex are the effects?

- Simple (+0)
- Slightly complex (+2)
- Complicated (+3) 
- Complex (+4)
- Intricate (+5)

How powerful is the effect(s) you are trying to create?    

- Weak (+0)
- Not Very (+2)
- Strong (+3)
- Very Strong (+4)
- World-Changing (+6)

A few Examples:

Robert Nimblehands wants to Ward a house against Undead.  The house is a small family home (Large- Base DC 8); he only wants to cause one effect, to Ward off Undead (+1); the effect is simple (+0) but the effect has to be strong enough to protect the whole house and all it's entrances (+2).  On top of all that, the Runic effect is easily described in one sentence (+0).  So the total DC is 11.  

Alicia Silverwit wants to build a suit of powered armor to help her fight.  It only needs to fit her (Medium- Base DC 6); she wants it to protect her from spells, enhance her strength and protect her (+4); the effects are complex (+4); and the suit has to be strong enough to actually accomplish her goals (+2).  That being said, the Runic effects are extensive and not easily explained (+4).  So the total DC is 20.

artist unknown

Damaged Rune Charging Table:

Roll on this table if you're attempting to Charge and/or use a Damaged Runic construct.  

1- The item destroys itself violently, self-destructing.  The item explodes, doing Xd6 damage, save for half, where X is the number of MD it was Charged with.
2- The item destroys itself, blasting mana everywhere.  All Runic items within X*10' are triggered, where X is the number of MD it was Charged with.
3- The item breaks, destroying the Rune-net and rendering itself as scrap.  
4- The item emits a stimulus, such as a cloud of smoke, a shower of sparks, a grating sound, but produces no other effect.  
5- The item works at 50% effectiveness.  
6- The item works as intended.

Mana Crystal Fracture Table: 

Roll on this table if a creature is carrying a bunch of Mana Crystals and one or multiple of them suffer a blow that may cause them to crack or break.

1- 1d6 Crystals immediately shatter.  This causes an explosion that does Xd6 damage in an X*10' radius sphere, save for half.  If you pass a CHA save, you have one round to throw the shattered Crystals before they explode.  
2- 1d4 Crystals immediately begin venting mana.  For X rounds, where X is the amount of MD contained in each Crystal, you create an aura of mana around you that automatically Charges and activates all Runic constructs within X*10' of the Crystals.  Magi can also tap into this loose mana if they are within the affected area.    
3- 1d3 Crystals crack.  These Crystals, next time they are tapped for mana, force the user to save.  On a failed save, they dump all of their mana at once.  This may or may not benefit your Runic constructs, and it could damage them.      
4- 1d3 Crystals begin overheating.  Overheated Crystals are unstable and if you attempt to put more Mana into them or use them to Charge a Runic construct, they could explode or damage the Runic construct.  Roll 1d6 to determine what happens: 1d6 (1-2: The Crystals explode (as "1"); 3-4: The Crystals damage the Runic construct, roll on the above table; 5-6: Nothing happens, the Crystals work, for now).
5- One Crystal begins venting Mana as 1dX [1= Light, the Crystal glows for X rounds; 2= Sound, the Crystal makes an irritating sound for X rounds; 3= Stench, the Crystal fills the air around itself with the stench of discharged Mana for X rounds; 4= Heat, the Crystal does Xd6 fire damage, save for half, to anything it touches.]  X is the number of MD in a Crystal.
6- Nothing happens.  You escape by the skin of your teeth.

from here