Friday, October 30, 2020

OSR: Sphinxes

                                                           by mltc

The rivalry between Giants and Dragons is famous, immortalized in myth and legend.  The Dragons through the sky, unleashing a rainbow of death upon their foes, a flood of acid and fire and everything else, while the Giants stand in ordered ranks, their colors regimented and organized, proud and resolute in the face of Chaos.

And it is true that there is a deep animus between those two races.  But the true mirror of the Dragon has always been the Sphinx.

Dragons are the exemplars of Chaos, respecting no laws and doing as they wish, with similarly little regard for custom, tradition or even the feelings of others.  They do as they wish and trample everyone else in their way. 

Sphinxes, on the other hand, are paragons of law.  They dwell in cities, placing urban areas under their protection, building their nests on the roofs of tall buildings or in the lofts of airy palace.  Many Law Gods respect the Sphinxes greatly, and allow them to roost atop their pyramids or in special rooms constructed for exactly that purpose.

From there, the Sphinx dedicates itself to the welfare of the city, and depending on the Sphinx, this will mean different things.

What is the the Sphinxes’ primary concern?

1d6

1- Protecting the city from foreign enemies and keeping the peace.  The Sphinx will punish anyone guilty of disorder.  No riot or revolt will endure it’s terrible roar and razor claws.
2- Policing the city.  The Sphinx works with citizen-investigators to track down criminals and punishes them, either by forcing them to confess or by simply rendering summary judgement itself.
3- Maintaining the moral standards.  The Sphinx seeks out those it feels are or could corrupt the morals of the youth and deals with them in whatever way that seems fit.
4- Hunting the servants of Chaos.  The Sphinx is constantly vigilant for signs of Chaotic incursion, and seeks to prevent them from gaining any purchase in the city.
5- Protecting an important resource.  The Sphinx has either been charged or has simply appointed itself as the guardian of some rare or dangerous resource.  The Sphinx wishes to keep this resource safe and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. 
6- Tracking down and destroying beasts, magical or otherwise, that live near or in the city and could threaten the citizens.

The Sphinxes described above are known as the free Sphinxes.  Other Sphinxes, known as the Bonded Sphinxes, dwell in more isolated places or on the steps of Heaven, guarding holy cities sacred to the Gods of Law.  There these Sphinxes protect holy treasures and areas hiding divine artifacts, keeping them secure for the day they will eventually be used. 

Bonded Sphinxes are sometimes also known to be Agents of the Law Gods, dispatched to hunt down criminals, Servants of Chaos and rogue deities.    

                                                       by SirenD

Sphinx
HD X
AR Magically Hardened Fur and Feathers [15 Armor]
Atk Pounce (1d10/1d10 magical bludgeoning)
Mor 14
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to being Charmed or Frightened

Inscrutable: Sphinxes are protected by powerful innate magics.  Their thoughts cannot be read and no ability or spell that detects feelings or mentality works against them.  Additionally, a Sphinx cannot be detected through a divination spell unless it wishes to be found. 

Flight: The Sphinx can fly.  A Sphinx gains +4 to its armor and initiative while flying.

Spellcasting: Sphinxes have X Mana Dice.  These burn out on a 5 or 6.  Doubles or Triples trigger Chaos.  Sphinxes have the spells Banishment, Call to Heroic Death, Divine Retribution, Flame Strike, Greater Invisibility, I expect you to Dine, Shield and Zone of Truth prepared.

Chaos of the Sphinx: Roll 1d6 on the lower table to see what happens when a Sphinx's spells trigger Chaos.

1d6
1- Lightning bolts rain down on a circular area 50' in diameter, centered on the Sphinx.  All within must save or take 2d6 lightning damage
2- A thick fog that cuts visibility to 10' rolls in, covering a circular area 100' in diameter, centered on where the Sphinx is right now.
3- The Sphinx loses a Mana Die.
4- A glowing pattern of lights and patterns appears in front of the Sphinx.  All who were looking at the Sphinx must save.  Those who fail their save fall into a hypnotic trance for 1 minute, or until shaken out of it.  The Sphinx must also save.
5- The Sphinx is teleported 50' in a random direction, appearing in the nearest unoccupied space.
6- The Sphinx experiences a moment of divine revelation, losing its action and falling into a pseudo-trance.  The Sphinx will contemplate the mysteries of Heaven for 1 hour or until distracted from it by something worldly, such as being attacked, a loud noise or a bunch of irritating adventurers.      

Roar: All Sphinxes can roar three times a day.  These roars are audible for anyone within a square mile and faintly audible for 3 miles around it.  Anyone who is within 500' of a Sphinx when it roars must save if the roar calls for it. 

The first roar is incredibly loud.  All within 500' must save or be frightened.  Those who are frightened take 1d6 COG damage upon hearing the roar and each time they see the Sphinx do something impressive or scary.  This includes roaring again.  If a creature's COG is reduced to 0 by the Sphinx, that creature will flee, hide or beg for mercy. 

The second roar is even louder.  All within 500' must save or be frightened and deafened.  If a creature is already frightened, they only need to save vs deafness and take 1d6 COG damage immediately.    

The third roar is loud enough to shake the pillars of Heaven.  All within 500 take 4d6 thunder damage, save for half.  Any frightened creatures take 1d6 COG damage upon seeing this. 

Tactics:
- Open with the first roar
- Take to the skies, use your spells to keep your distance
- Use roars as needed, depending on the amount of frightened creatures
- Punish the unjust, but let the worthy or righteous escape from you

To Customize a Sphinx, roll on the tables below:

This Sphinx is a...

1d6

1- Androsphinx.  It has the head of a handsome human male.
2- Gynosphinx.  It has the countenance of a regal female human.
3- Criosphinx.  This Sphinx has a Sheep's head and majestic horns.
4- Hieracosphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a falcon.
5- Canisphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a dog.
6- Taurosphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a bull.

How strong is this Sphinx?

1d4

1- 6 HD. 
2- 7 HD.
3- 8 HD.
4- 9 HD.

A Sphinxes' MD is equal to their HD. 

Sphinx Plot Hooks:
1d4

1- The Demon Seloza has returned to take his revenge on Az-Hari, the City which he ruled in ancient times before he was banished by a Prophet.  Now he has returned to retake what was once his.  The Sphinx who now guards Az-Hari has a problem with this.  Their clash is likely to destroy much of the city.  Will you aid one side in the hopes that it benefits you, or will you merely use the chaos as an opportunity to enrich yourself?
2- A Sphinx approaches you with a request for aid.  The Sphinx has become aware that an ancient artifact of Law has fallen into the hands of a Dragon who hoards war-booty.  The Sphinx wants to steal the artifact back.  The Sphinx will distract the Dragon, all you need to do is wait for it to leave it's cave, then go and steal it.
3- Cleo Quickstrike, an adventurer, attempted to rob a Sphinx and was captured for his trouble.  Fortunately for Cleo, his brother-in-law happened to be the Governor of an Imperial Province.  The Governor wishes you to go rescue his brother-in-law, and will reward you handsomely. 
4- King Taro of Elshain, ruler of the city of Yu, is currently being besieged by an enemy army.  It is only a matter of time before his walls are taken or they run out of food.  Either way, the city will be destroyed and he will likely die.  He has been trying to convince the Sphinx that lives in the city to intervene on his behalf, but the Sphinx has sworn only to fight Chaos and its' servants.  He wants you to fabricate evidence that there are Chaos cultists among the enemies and present it to the Sphinx, in the hopes of stirring it to action.      

                                                           by Kid-Eternity

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

OSR: The Orzane

The world belongs to them.  Of all the races in Nukaria, they have claimed the top spot.  They are united beneath their Emperor, who rules them and their client races with an iron fist.  They maintain their top spot through an iron rod and crush any who oppose their dominion with terrible violence.  

The Orzane have no rival within their own lands.  They dominate all from the edge of the steaming jungles of the North to the Cold Gates of the South, and from the Mountains of Eve and the Sea of Beasts in the West to the rugged Steppe in the East.  Within these lands, the Orzanian Empire controls all.  All the Kings within owe fealty to the Emperor, and all Gods pledge their friendship and loyalty to Anuman, current King of Heaven and chief of the Orzanian Pantheon.

To be obedient to the Orzanian Empire is to know peace, prosperity, and safety.  

To resist is to condemn yourself to humiliation and pain, followed by a hideous death.  Whole cities, tribes and cultures have been condemned by the Emperor of the Orzane, and when the Emperor condemns someone, the judgement is always the same: death on a scale you can't even imagine.

                                                             by NuMioH

Appearance:

The Orzane are hogfolk, with pink skin covered in fur of brown, black or tan, occasionally with splotches or stripes of white.  They have long muzzles with flat snouts, and tusks poking out of the corner of their mouths.  They have hooves and do not wear shoes.  They are generally muscular and stocky in form, being taller than Dwarves and most Quarrians but shorter than Humans, Oxmen, Crocolings and anything taller than that.

In cooler climates, the Orzane are known to grow out their hair and style the longer parts of it.  Mohawks are very common, along with braids and dreadlocks, for those who can get their hair to grow that long.  In hotter climates, the opposite is true, as the Orzane shave parts of their body to expose their pink flesh.  However, this can expose their sensitive skin to the sun, so many who have to work out in the sun will paint their exposed flesh with zinc paste.  Sometimes this paste is made so that it approximates the usual skin tone of the Orzane, but others prefer to smear themselves in brilliant hues and lurid colors.  Additionally, Orzane in all parts of the Empire are known to dye their hair, especially their mohawk, if they have one.  Every Orzane is very particular about what color of paste they apply to themselves or what color they dye their hair.  But more on that later.   

Racial Archetype:
The Orzane generally are:
- Passionate
- Domineering
- Consummately Polite
- Prone to rapid mood swings
- Have fiery, explosive tempers
- Quick to anger but slow to forgive
- Thin-skinned

The Orzane are known most strongly for their violence and their rages.  When in danger, Orzane are even known to enter a state called the "Battle Rage", where all feelings and emotions are temporarily drowned in a sea of rage.  All Orzane have slightly different Battle Rages, but they all usually result in the same thing.  And while the Orzane's Battle Rage can leave them vulnerable once they are finished, usually few survive the initial attack.

That being said, the Orzane are more than just the violent, brutal rulers of the world.  They are also known for their elaborate Imperial rituals, their great love of tea and etiquette, their martial pride and honor, as well as their seemingly superhuman ability to make noodle dishes.  Noodles are considered a staple food among the Orzane, each one being paired with different vegetables, sauces and occasionally, meats.     

Family ways:


The Orzane used to have a strong family structure underpinning their society, with families bonding together to form clans, which were the basis of all political organization.  However, the common belief among many Urban Orzane is that this family-centric structure undermined the stability of the government by ensuring there was always something interfering with total allegiance to the Gods and to the Emperor.  As such, families are highly passe for the Urban Orzane.

Instead, children are taken from their Mothers at a young age and raised in large, collective groups.  Here agents of His Imperium watch over and monitor the children, with workers recruited from the local population helping to care for the children.  Once the children have reached a certain age, they are removed from their Children's Collective and sent to work in a trade as befitting their class.

Many Rural Orzane dislike this practice, and keep the old ways of maintaining iron-clad family structures, where the oldest responsible male relative takes the mantle of Patriarch and works to guide his family to live good lives.  The Patriarch of the Family is considered to be its head and has almost absolute authority when it comes to deciding what the family should do.  

Marriage ways:

Rural Orzane practice the traditional form of marriage, as conducted by their ancestors in the pre-Imperial and early Imperial centuries.  These marriages are arranged, often without consulting the people to be married, by representatives of the two families.  Prices are arranged and then the engagement is announced.  Engagements are serious business to the Rural Orzane, if one is broken off, the party that broke the agreement must pay the other double the dowry or bride-price paid for the engagement to go forth.

Then, a feast is arranged.  This feast will be a large party, with much drinking and merriment.  Finally, at the end of the night, the whole feast reaches its climax in a game of Bride-Snatch, where the Bride and her female companions go and hide throughout a pre-agreed upon area and the Bridegroom goes in search of her.  The Bridegroom's male relatives and companions are also allowed to go and search for the Bride, while the Bride's male relatives are expected to try and stop the the Bridegroom and his male helpers through such tactics as riddles, stalling, taking the Bride from one hiding spot and putting her in another, or just guarding her.  There is much wrestling and mock-combat during a game of Bride-Snatch, usually done with wooden swords or sticks.  The game ends when the Bridegroom finds the Bride or a certain amount of time has passed.  The person who wins the game is usually the one who is allowed to decide where they will first make love. 

After the marriage has been consummated the feasts ends and everyone goes home, unless it is late, at which point you will likely be asked to stay.  And you could stay because you know the roads are dangerous and you're tired and hungover, but you also know that if you stay, you're going to have to listen to the newlyweds giggling in moaning in the garden right outside the guest suites and frankly, that was an experience you only needed to have once.

Finally, a man may have as many wives as he can afford, though there are several conditions.  Firstly, he must go through all the steps above described.  Secondly, his other wives, or concubines, will be considered lesser to his first wife, who will retain a position of superiority over them and will help manage them.  It goes without saying that the first wife must be consulted when a husband wishes to take a new wife.

Urban Orzane, on the other hand, do things a bit differently.  No one is exactly sure who came up with it, some say it originated when a provincial governor suffered from an abundance of daughters in his population and there were insufficient men from his own cities, or maybe it was from a bureaucrat who traveled into Dwarven lands and was astonished at their customs and brought something home with him, but regardless, here's how it works. 

It is called a Night Marriage.  Instead of a private negotiation, on a certain date, all the unwed women of the city are gathered in one place and all the men in search of brides gather there as well.  The men then bid on the women, the auction beginning with the most beautiful and working down to the most homely.  There is a ceremony then conducted and the Brides and Bridegrooms are married.  There is then a feast thrown for each of them.  Since all these marriages are conducted on one night, whole cities can grind to a screeching halt as dozens or hundreds of simultaneous parties are thrown across the city. Due to the more communal nature of Urban Orzane, it sometimes occurs where partygoers will wander from party to party, starting the night celebrating with friends and waking up with a splitting hangover on the couch of some Orzanian couple he's never met.  Drink responsibly, kids.

And despite the unorthodox way they are conducted, Night Marriages are indistinguishable to normal Orzanian marriages, with one exception.  If the Bride and Bridegroom do not want to be together, as long as they agree to separate before the sun comes up, the marriage is considered null and void.

This is a huge asset for the indecisive, as divorce is a major hassle in all other circumstances.  Either party can initiate divorce proceedings and if a women leaves her husband, whatever property she owned before her marriage is to be returned to her.  The main problem with marriage is not legal though, but social.  To divorce one's husband or wife is considered to be deeply shameful and tends to stir up rumors, duels and occasionally, blood oaths.    

Gender ways:

The Urban Orzane, particularly their women, will tell you how their society is most beneficient, because it grants them the most freedom.  They crow about how women don't need to shackle themselves to families or to children anymore and are instead allowed to serve the Emperor in whatever way they serve.  These same Urban Orzane also studiously ignore the fact Night Marriages give males all the power and enable exploitation and Child Collectives can leave women childless and alone.  This is an inconsistent position, but it is one reinforced by almost all of the institutions, including the Emperor and the Imperial Ministries, albeit subtly.

In the rural, less developed parts of the Empire, among the Rural Orzane, almost the direct opposite is true.  Here traditional gender roles are maintained.  A wife is expected to take up her husband's trade and become his helper, assisting him in all things, except for those things that are solely the domain of men.  Similarly, he is expected to do the same, aiding his wife in all things, except those which are reserved for the fairer sex.  This applies to married Orzane obviously, but even unmarried women are expected to obey the orders of men, especially if those men are older than them, and men are expected to be the guides and protectors of women, even if they don't personally know or have any attachment to them.          

Sex ways:

While children are the primary purpose of sex and marriage to the Orzane, sex is considered to be a noble and normal part of life.  There is no shame attached to it and it is considered to be an important part of life.  Compared to some peoples, the Orzane are almost sexual deviants- doing it outside, on their roofs, in every room but the bedroom, etc.  It is considered rude to stare, but there is no shame in simply seeing it.  Don't watch though- that's how you end up fighting an incredibly awkward duel with someone's brother.  

That being said, the Orzane do not tolerate pre-marital sex or adultery.  The punishments for the former vary from place to place, but usually are a family matter and kept within the family.  There are some marriages that result from this, a so called Daggerpoint wedding, and many Fathers agree to such unions to avoid a potential blood oath.    

For adultery, the punishments are much worse.  Someone can be put to death for adultery, but both participants in the act are judged together.  For example, if a adultress is sentenced to death, her lover is as well.  But if her husband wishes to take her back and thus asks the Justice of His Imperium to spare her, her lover will be pardoned along with her.          


 

                                                             source unknown

Child-rearing ways:

Many of the children of the Urban Orzane are put into Child Collectives, often with the parent's consent.  Here is what that is often like.     

For younger children in a Child Collective, the experience is largely identical to daycare, except the children have small rooms and never go home.  To them, this is home.  But as the children grow and mature, they are given more and more independence.  Once they reach adolescence, they are moved to special so-called "Adult Plantations" where few guardians ever visit, instead allowing the children to organize themselves as they see fit.  Sometimes these Adult Plantations teach the children how to be strong, intelligent, the difficulties of building a new society and wisdom beyond their years.  Other times it leads to petty strongmen, bully-kings and teen pregnancy. 

Regardless of how the actual raising process goes, the result is usually the same, with violent, tribal young men with no idea how to conduct themselves as men, highly sexual young women with no understanding of what a decent, healthy relationship looks like, and both with no loyalty to their parents or city, both instead only giving fealty to His Imperium and his agents.

Naming ways:

In the past, the Orzane were conquered and subjugated by many people, and often their oppressors would insist that it was not proper for those of lower status to possess ornate names.  This, coupled with the need to keep track of the Orzane led to the tradition of Orzane identifying themselves by what city they were born in or lived for a long time.  For example, an Orzanian name would be something like this: John of New York.  If an Orzane is not from a city directly or does not wish to identify with the closest city, the Orzane will pick some recognizable or well-known landmark instead.  An example of this would be "Susan of [the] Shenandoah [Valley]."  

Death ways:


The Orzane take their history as a warrior people very seriously, a fact that can be seen most clearly in their funerary rites.  Firstly, the corpses of the dead are washed and annointed with oils or sprinkled with flowers, depending on how wealthy the family is.  Then the corpse will be fitted with a death mask, which will be painted or carved to look like the deceased.  Depending on the class and wealth of the deceased's kinsmen, this mask can be made of anything from fired clay to carved, lacquered wood and for the wealthiest, forged gold or iron.  After the corpse has been laid to rest, but before it is buried, the mask will then be removed from the corpse and offered to the deceased's heir.  However, it is traditional that others who are attending the funeral may duel the heir, or the heir's champion, for the mask.  The winner receives the mask.  Sometimes these duels are merely for show and tradition, but other times they are serious competitions that draw real blood.

But assuming the heir ends up with the deceased's death mask, it will then be taken back to the deceased's home, or their family's home and placed in a shrine.  The deceased's weapons will then be placed in the shrine as well.  The shrine will then be decorated with things the deceased loved in life and other things about them, such as medals, art depicting what they did, trophies from battle and etc. 

It is considered common courtesy to visit the shrines in an Orzane's house and offer prayers there.

For Urban Orzane or those raised in Child Collectives who do not have family homes, their death masks are displayed in two different ways.  Sometimes the Orzane's house will be left unused and unoccupied, transformed into a shrine to the deceased.  In other cases, especially after large battles, monuments with communal shrines will be built and the death masks of all the deceased will be displayed there.

Religious ways:

The Orzanian Religion is based on three central principles; firstly, that Law is Good and the work of the Gods, secondly that Law must be preserved for the safety of all and thirdly, that this will require constant struggle, within and without, because all mortals have a corrupt nature, being naturally selfish and weak-willed, giving in to evil impulses.

The Gods are seen as just and perfect, for they restrain us from commiting all the evil deeds we would like to, by giving us Law so we might see the error of our ways and then by setting governors over us and blessing those governors with justice, so that the mighty might not devour the lowly and the strong might not trample upon the meek.

Furthermore, because of the lowliness and wickedness of mortals, a hierarchy of spirits and divinities has been constructed within the Imperial religion to prevent the Gods from becoming angered by the wretched attempting to speak to them directly.
This hierarchy also coincidentally happens to correspond perfectly with the Imperial caste system. 

Notable Gods:

Anuman, is the God of Law, Kings, Art, Music and Magic.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Authority.  He is the current King of Heaven, the master of all Law Gods, at least in theory.  He is credited as the one who invented writing, the concept of a legal system, written laws and monarchy.  He is also said to have crowned the first Emperor, the Emperor of Shining Glory.  He is also believed to administer the whole world and keeps it turning, so to speak.  Unlike the other Gods, anyone may pray to him, however you are expected to be in good standing at the moment of making your prayer.  The requirements for what constitute 'good standing' are quite strict though, so with the exception of the especially pious or the righteous, few pray to him.  The only people who do pray to him regularly the Priests of his Cult, Kings, those of Royal Blood and other Gods, as Anuman will also hear those prayers, while he doesn't always hear the prayers of those beneath him.  This is also why it is considered beneficial to send your prayers up through the hierarchy, instead of directly to Anuman.

Iel is the Goddess of Pregnancy, Merchants, Shepherds, Motherhood and Dogs.  Her Church is the Imperial Cult of Peace.  She is the Consort of Anuman and mother of the Queen-Killer.  She is said to protect mothers who are with child, shelter innocent, young girls and advise old, wise women.  She is credited with being the foster mother to the first Orzane, who promised to honor her forever as well as being the soft hand the Empire often needs.  It is said that she often intervenes from behind the scenes to prevent wars and rebellions from ever beginning.  For this reason, despite the fact that her Cult is quite female-centric, many men still come to her temples to pray.  Mothers, those wishing to become Mothers, those with child, diplomats and peacemakers are those who usually pray to Iel.  However, if you are offering a prayer for peace or for the safety of a child in the womb, or your Mother, your prayer will not be ignored.

Marzan is the God of War, Soldiers, Carpenters, the Suicidal and the Insane.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Glory.  He is the firstborn of Anuman and Iel and the heir to Anuman, should the former fall.  He is the one who slew the Queen of Chaos at the beginning of this age and built the world from her corpse.  He is also said to be the Guardian of the Imperial Household and Shadow of the Emperor.  If the Emperor ever becomes corrupt, wicked or incompetent, it is said that Marzan will step in and kill him, then appoint a new Emperor or take the throne himself, though the latter outcome would only occur in the most dire of circumstances.  The only people whose prayers Marzan is said to hear are those involved in a martial conflict, soldiers or those surrounded by war.  He very occasionally answers other prayers, but these occasions are so few to be almost mythic in and of themselves.

Unta is the God of Lies, Traitors, Desserts, Slaves, Prostitutes and Sailors.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Bondage.  He is a former attendant to the Consort of the Queen of Chaos, the God Quino. After Marzan slew the Queen of Chaos and Quino was punished for his crimes, Unta was spared, on the condition that he swore eternal obedience to Anuman, which he did.  Unta is credited with causing much of the suffering in the world, that which is not caused by the corruption of mortals and the stains left on the world by the Queen of Chaos.  He is said to be the source of tooth aches and crop failures, of conspiracies and adulterers, of slave revolts and provincial rebellions.  However, because the other Gods are mostly righteous, they attempt to restrain and monitor Unta, so he cannot do these things.  However, Unta is clever in the extreme and somehow always manages to slip away, at least for a time, before being recaptured. Unta is an evil spirit and the only people who are supposed to pray to him are slaves and captives, but many others also pray to him in secret, asking him to inflict suffering on their enemies, or to spare him the next time he escapes, or to grant them a boon the other Gods would refuse to do.  Unta is said to hear all these prayers, but he rarely chooses to answer them.     

Angels:

Angel of Obedience

Angels are Obedience are composed of dozens of interlocking metal cubes, constantly shifting and moving in perfect harmony. They are fascinating and spell-binding to watch, as they continuously shift into newer, more exotic patterns.  Angels of Obedience come to preach on the merits of law and why all should obey it.  They come to dissuade criminals, rebels and traitors through their well-polished arguments and simple logic.  They are also known to occasionally step in and attempt to destroy those groups.  Many an obedient servant of His Imperium have been spared by the timely arrival of a kill-team of Angels sent from on high.  As for that killing, Angels of Obedience can fire lasers and bolts of electricity out of their cube faces, use parts of their bodies to construct cubes of force and freely maneuver each of their cubes independently, even dissassembling themselves and then putting themselves back together.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Oppression, Demons of Subjugation or Conqueror's Angels.

Angel of Service

Angels of Service come dressed like your ancestors, wearing garments of ancient origin and symbols of authority from long antiquity.  They wear crowns of flowers in perpetual bloom and resemble youths, perpetually in the spring of their lives. They come to tell mortals that they owe their superiors their due.  To pay the piper and honor the Angels.  This is the message these Angels come to bring us.  They speak to those harboring thoughts of corruption, insubordination or of shirking their duties.  They despise slackers.  When forced to fight, they do so with the Fist Art of 49 Empty Palms, a style they invented and taught to certain mortals.  They are still the indisputed masters of the style, with skills that exceed any mortal.  They can project the force of their strikes over distances greater than 20 paces, parry dozens of attacks with bare hands and blast someone's soul out of their body with a solid hit.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Taxation, Demons of Submission and Demons of Boot-Licking.  The last one is never used when the Angel is in the room, of course.

Angel of Temperance


The Orzane are a passionate people, taken to fits of passion, especially when it comes to rage.  The Orzanian battle rage is famous the world over for transforming decent soldiers into homicidal killing machines from which there is no escape.  But this rage lurks behind all Orzane, stalking them, seeking any chance it can to overtake them.  As such, the Orzanian Gods send these Angels down to aid them, to council them and remind them how to control their wild impulses.  Angels of Temperance resemble tall, muscular Orzane with shimmering hair of glowing wire.  They are also covered in other, flat faces all over their bodies, which whisper quietly to anyone near them.  They come to give advice and bring absolution, as well as to teach and encourage all Orzane to pursue virtue.  When called upon to fight they can fire blasts of magic that freeze people in place, strip away someone's impulse control and charm the humorless and self-righteous into doing their bidding.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Denial, Demons of Masochism and Demons of the Crucifixion of the Self.

Demons:

Demon of Rebellion


The Orzanian Empire is infamous for its brutality.  The Orzane themselves are legendary for their tempers and as the state is just the soul, magnified, so the State is worse than any man and an Empire is worse than any State.  The Orzanian Empire's list of atrocities is as long as their list of conquests and in many cases, the lists overlap.  As such, it is no surprise that the Demons of Rebellion have found easy purchase among many Provincial Governors, Folk Heroes and Adventurers.  These creatures resemble fluttering banners wrapped around someone's body like an improvised robe, but lifting up the banner will reveal there is no one inside, and all you have is some frayed, stained fabric.  Demons of Rebellion have the power to turn themselves flat as a sheet of papyrus, allowing them to slip under doors or into tight spaces.  They have the power to control the wind and fire bolts or spheres of lightning at their enemies. 

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Liberation.  

Demon of Disfavor

Demons of Disfavor are creatures of hideous countenances, possessing skeletal faces with skin stretched tight over bunching muscles and twisted bones, wings of tattered flesh potruding from their backs.  They come to incite panic in the populace, to terrify and brutalize.  But they also come to encourage vice and the breaking of taboos.  They find those they believe to be vulnerable and whisper devious ideas into their ears.  When challenged or threatened, these Demons have the power to animate corpses as their servants, sing songs that induce pain, fear or madness and conjure balls of acid. 

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Holy Terror or Angels of Chastisement. 

Demon of Excess

Demons of Excess are fat and jolly, with elegant, curling horns and booming voices.  They clothe themselves in impossible garments surpassing all mortal tailors and carry torches or candles that rain sparks of light.  They bless certain creatures with great boons, bumper crops or massive earnings and encourage them to celebrate.  Whether they are deliberately trying to get people to overindulge or just fail to understand the motives of mankind is an issue often debated, though only in secret. In public, they are demons and are to be hunted down and destroyed or exorcised and anyone who questions that fact is guilty of sedition.  Demons of Excess have the powers to multiply mundane items, create glowing constructs of light such as ropes, cages or walls and charm animals and people.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Plenty or Angels of Prosperity.  

                                                             from here

Magic ways:

The Orzane are suspicious of magic, but they do not actively scorn it.  They consider it a dangerous tool, comparable to using warriors that are up to their eyeballs on combat drugs.  Yes, it is an option, but it ultimately is simply too dangerous.  Wizards are not included in the Orzanian Army and those who can learn magic are excluded from conscription.  This has lent many Wizards an unprecedented status they never received before the Empire.  Not only do they have certain legal privileges, such as above, but they also have a strange relationship with other Orzane.

This is a cultural divide that is not divided Rural vs. Urban, but Young vs. Old.  The Young Orzane love Wizards and Magic-Users as a form of "moderate radical".  Wizards are rebels against the ideals of the old, but they are still accepted by society.  They are a middle way between totally rejection or conformity with society.  They are rebels, but they are rebelling within a structured system.    

Learning ways:


The Urban Orzane, who tend to be wealthier than the Rural Orzane, prize education.  Joining the bureaucracy is one of the goals of many wealthy Orzane, but especially of the city-dwellers.  For this reason, the pressure to succeed and excel academically is extremely high.  This does apply to the Low Color Urban Orzane, but it especially applies to the High Color  Urban Orzane, who mostly still raise their children in the traditional fashion.  Child Collectives are for the Low Color Orzane.  High Colors seem to support Child Collectives, but keep their own children out of them.  They know that most of the children who come out of Child Collectives are not well educated, as the children within have little direction and minimal adult guidance. 

Low Color and Rural Orzane tend to think of education as just another tool the High Colors use to gloat and show off their status.  They prize practical wisdom and knowledge of things like botany, animal husbandry and trade skills such as carpentry or masonry, but other things seem pointless to them.  This is usually because of sour grapes, as most Low Colors and Rural Orzane could not attend one of the expensive schools the Temples have or hire private tutors for their children.       

Sport ways:

The Orzane's favorite sport is dueling.  Most Orzane love fighting duels and even more love watching them.  And because most Orzane possess a hair-trigger temper, you will have plenty of chances to duel someone.  The rules vary from place to place, but generally they are that you can challenge anyone who is wearing a weapon and that the other person must accept.  You must also have at least four witnesses that aren't all associated with one person.  This last requirement is usually assumed if the duel takes place in public, unless it happens at night or in a thick fog.  Someone else can also fight on your behalf, though this is generally considered a sign of cowardice or ineptitude, though that mostly only applies to men.  In some situations, the greater shame is not stepping in.  

For example, if a married woman is challenged, her husband is expected to fight for her, unless she insists otherwise.  The same applies to the old, crippled, lame or otherwise disabled.  Additionally, certain government officials have bodies that are sacred- they are imbued with Prerogative, which means that to touch them without permission is usually a crime.  These officials usually do not duel themselves, but they have champions that duel on their behalf.  This is one of the privileges of rank.     

Finally, in regards to honor, class also plays a certain role.  Generally, one is not supposed to challenge someone two or more colors, or castes, above you.  Or course, if someone from a higher color challenges you, you are generally supposed to accept, no matter what.    

Additionally, fighting with a "greater" weapon than the one your opponent drew is considered highly dishonorable and grounds for ending the duel on the spot.  There is a hierarchy of weapons that exists in the Orzanian mind and for a duel to be valid, the person challenged must fight the challenger with a weapon that is equal or lesser than the one the challenger uses. 

There are other games that the Orzane like to, such as Netstrike, which is a game based around using small scoops, knees, elbows and chests to maneuver a hard, leather ball into the the enemy teams goals.  This is the second most popular communal sport and is usually played by groups of four to 12 on small fields, but larger games are often organized for festival days that can involve hundreds of players and take place over dozens of square miles.  This game is an incredible affair to witness and participate in, as while scoring goals is how you win the game, the most common way this is done is by fighting the other players and disabling them.  This is especially prevalent in the larger games, which often more resemble battlefields than sporting events.

The favorite spectator sport of the Orzane is Wizardball, but as this one requires players to be able to cast magic, it is generally only played by Wizards and Magic-Users.  

Work ways:


To the Orzane, work is something based on class.  The High Colors are not expected to work and do menial labor, but to save their energy for important political and religious activities.  This is such a common belief that it surpasses all sub-cultural boundaries among the Orzane.  Thus, if a High Color is seen working, it usually indicates a dire situation, as if it was not, they would be far away, watching on the Low Colors.

The one exception to this is the battlefield.  On the battlefield, all Colors must work together for the glory of the Empire. In ancient times the High Colors actually lead their armies into battle and fought on the front-lines, but this is much less common these days, though it does still happen.   

Wealth ways:

Wealth has one purpose in Orzanian society, to care for those beneath you.  Or at least, that is what the Orzane will tell you.  That is how it has always been, even in the pre-Imperial days, when the Orzane were divided into hundreds of small kingdoms, principalities, free cities and independent regions. 

However, during the reign of the divinely appointed Emperors, the Orzane achieved such unimaginable prosperity and material wealth that the Emperors were left with bulging coffers and no need to fill their people's mouths.  So, beginning with the Emperor of Continued Blessings, the Second (divinely appointed and numerically) began filling the Imperial Capital, Urya, with incredible public works, along with building the Cathedral of the Empyrean.  This began a trend of High Colors in a positions of authority to build expensive public works and later on, to spend lavishly on themselves.  They began to wear fine silks that would be shredded if used to do anything besides standing regally, or hanging jewels and ornaments off their bodies.  This is supposedly to show how good things are, that the High Colors have done such a good job taking care of the Low Colors beneath them that they have tons of money to spend on themselves.

In truth though, the High Colors, especially those that are also Urban, tend to spend much of their money on ridiculous fancies and trying to out-do their social rivals.  This often leads to resentment in the urban Low Colors, who see how their High Colors traipse around in brilliant silks and glittering jewels, while neglecting those they are supposed to be taking care of.  This is something the rural High Colors have noticed, so they generally do a better job of caring for the low Colors, even shunning the elaborate dress of court, in favor of more grounded styles.  Still, appearances must be maintained, and even these more humble High Colors still wear jewels and finery.   

Furthermore, even if some Low Colors do resent the High Colors, most of them blame other castes, besides the Purples for their troubles.  Additionally, most Low Colors are actually comforted by the High Color's extravagence.  Even if they are struggling, if they see their High Colors walking by in coats interwoven with silver threads or diamond earrings, they tend to breathe a sigh of relief.  If the High Colors are wearing silks and satin, then things are fine.  It's when they're wearing linen or armor that you know things have gone terribly wrong.

                                               by eastmonkey

Rank ways:

Orzanian Society is divided roughly into seven castes, or Colors.  Each caste has certain privileges and certain responsibilities, some legal, some social.

The top Color, or caste, is Purple.  Purples are all either Royalty, as defined as those related to or inheritors of a Kingdom, Principality or other hereditary position of authority over a certain area or number of people, or those who belong to The Blood, that is the biological or adopted members of the Emperor's household.  They are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies Purple.  They do not have to pay taxes and are the only class permitted to carry swords off of the battlefield.  However, Purples are not without responsibilities.  They are expected to participate in certain religious and civic rituals and depending on their rank, will have to make the journey to the capital to the Imperial Court to see the Emperor.  For truly important Royals, this occurs annually, but for less important ones they might be required only to visit every other year or every three years. 

Also, note that higher castes generally have the rights, privileges and immunities of all the castes below them, unless specified otherwise. 

Indigo is the next Color.  This is the caste for high ranking government officials, military commanders and the priesthood.  Indigos are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies that color.  Indigos and above are the only ones permutted to carry bows off of the battlefield.  Indigos have the right to hold any important position that is not reserved for a Purple and cannot be charged by any non-Imperial Court or any Court not headed by an Indigo or greater.  They are effectively above provincial law.

Blue is the next caste.  Blue is the caste for the servants of His Imperium, the fingers of his great hands.  It is a caste for soldiers and bureaucrats.  They are the only ones permitted to wear blue, dye their hair blue or paint themselves blue.  Blues and above all the only ones permitted to carry spears off of the battlefield.  Blues have the right to legal council and to a barrister when at trial.   

Green is the caste for those who produce the necessities of life, such as farmers and herdsmen.  These are the only people permitted to wear Green, dye their hair green or pain their bodies green.  Greens and above are the only ones permitted to carry axes off of the battlefield.  Greens are exempt from conscription and cannot have their lands or property taken from them without a trial or a legal process.   

Yellow is the caste for those who only work with raw materials produced by others.  It is the class for artisans and merchants.  This class are the only ones permitted to wear yellow, paint their faces faces or dye their hair the same color.  Yellows and above are the only ones permitted to carry daggers off of the battlefield.  Yellows have the right to appeal any case judged by a local Magistrate to the Provincial Governor or to a servant of His Imperium if they feel the Governor is also compromised.  

Orange is the class for laborers, farmhands and the other members of what we would call "The working class".  Oranges are the only ones permitted to wear, dye or paint their faces that color.  They and above are permitted to carry clubs, batons or bludgeons that can be held in one hand.  Oranges have the right to be treated fairly if detained, to be well cared for by their employers, overseers and overlords and the right to paid to paid for their labor.  They usually will not be paid in money, as the Orzanian economy is not cash-based and will usually be paid in other things, such as being allowed to use certain public services their employer provides, or by living on his land, or something else.

Red is the slave class.  Reds are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies red.  They are not permitted to carry weapons except when the law or their masters permit such.  Reds have the right to be protected and cared for by their masters, the right to be protected by His Imperium's servants and the right to be released once they have served their time and made restitution. 

Additionally, one last note.  Just because you belong to one Caste doesn't mean you have to wear that color all the time legally, with the exception of Reds.  Most Orzane do wear outfits dominated by their Color, or wear some token to show what Color they belong to.  Dying your mohawk is the easiest way of doing this.  Not doing this will be seen as rude or in some areas, illegal.

Altering your colors or outfit to convince people you belong to a different Color is very, very illegal.  The punishments can be very severe, but only if you pretend to be someone of a High Color.  If you are pretending to be someone of a Low Color, the punishments are generally mild, unless you did so to cause mischief or commit some other crime.  

Social ways:

The Orzane, especially in more recent times, view themselves as a nation besieged.  Whether in their homeland or in a foreign nation, they view themselves as islands in a sea of Chaos.  Generally, the only people you can trust are other Orzane.  Those of other races can be recruited, used and even befriended, but at the end of the day, your own kind are the only ones you can trust.

But the divide can go deeper than that.  Some Orzane are distrustful of other Colors, thinking that they either can't understand the struggles of another Color or worse, are spies working to undermine the position of the thinker's own class.

In some cases, this paranoia can even trespass Color boundaries, with Colors divided against each other.  Among the Purples, those of the Blood and the so-called old Royals actively feud and compete with each other, though both of these factions take care to make sure their subordinate Colors are unaware of this schism as much as possible.  They have been largely unsuccessful at this measure. 

This is not the only intra-class struggle, but it is the most obvious.  Most Colors are fairly united in their belief that their enemies are the other races in the Empire and those belonging to the other Colors. 

So in short, the Orzane prefer to form groups that are composed not only of themselves, but also of members of their own race who belong to the same Color as them and often to the same persuasion or sub-culture within that Culture.      

Order ways:

The Orzane are a people of rampaging passions.  The battle-rage of the Orzane is terrifying to behold, where a warrior loses all sense and rushes headlong into battle, crushing their foes down before them in a wild frenzy.  As such, the Orzanian aristocracy always tried in the past to teach discipline and self-government to the lower classes, so that they would not spread chaos and madness.

In more recent times, however, the ruling classes have focused on the opposite, inciting the passions of the Low Colors by promoting vice and doing away with old customs in favor of new ones that do not stress virtue as much.  This is their new method for keeping control, as it allows them to neglect their old duties and focus on enriching and empowering themselves, instead of focusing on the common welfare.   

Power ways:

The Orzane believe power and authority come from Heaven.  The Emperor is divinely appointed and all beneath him are ordered as they see fit.  This is a belief that all largely hold, even down to the lowliest slave.  They all believe they are where they are because of the will of Heaven. 

One thing that is less often taught, but is still present in many traditions, is the belief that those above should use their power to bring about order, peace and justice.  This is a more neglected part of the official history, because it raises inconvenient facts and makes the Low Colors and other subjects much less agreeable when it comes to the antics of their rulers.   

Freedom ways:

The Orzane have always believed it is their duty to do as Heaven wishes them to and not to as they would personally like.  One must accept their lot and do their best, no matter they be a king or a farmer.  The idea of being free to do as one wishes is regarded as a dangerous sentiment that could lead to chaos and disorder.  And even should the High Colors and the Emperor be tyrannical, even tyranny is preferrable to the abyss of Chaos.       

                                                             by jsmarantz

Monday, October 26, 2020

TwK: Hermit Geist

 You fill find a cabin in the middle of the woods, despite encountering no signs of people being nearby.  Inside, you will find a fire burning and tea brewing, but no one is home.  Upon further inspection, other things don't seem quite right- there is no food in the kitchen, only tea and salt, the cushions are moth-eaten and there are suspicious slashes in the wood that look like they were caused by knives.  But before you could  

They are Ghosts, of a most tragic and vengeful kind.  No ordinary death is suitable to produce one, only the most tragic, horrid or defiling.  Most of the time, the death involves some sort of violation, usually of the sanctity of a home or the laws of hospitality.  The slain is robbed of their life and their blood seeps into the foundations of the house.  Their anguish fills the pipes and their moans of pain and sorrow echo through the halls, often being mistaken for wind or the creaking of old wood.  But do not doubt they are there, and they are angry.  

Such Ghosts are known as Hermit Geists, or Poltergeists.

                                                                  by neverdying

Base Hermit Geist Statblock
HD X
AR None- Ethereal Nature
Atk Withering Touch (1d6) or Improvised Weapon (1d6+Y)
Mor 16
Saves (7+X) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage.

Ghost: A Hermit Geist counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Hermit Geists take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Invisible: Hermit Geists are always invisible.  However, they leave signs of their presence.  These signs can include pockets of cold air, scents, a linger presence, the feeling of being watched, etc.  Additionally, Cats and Dogs can detect a Hermit Geist and they can always be seen in a mirror.

Conditional Immortality: Hermit Geists are bound to an object.  As long as that object is intact, the Ghost cannot truly be killed.  If reduced to 0 HP, a Hermit Geist will return to life the next day at midnight.  The only way to permanently get rid of a Hermit Geist is to destroy the object they are bound to. 

Locally Bound: Hermit Geists cannot leave the dwelling they currently inhabit.

Object Control: A Hermit Geist can control any mundane objects inside the dwelling it inhabits as if they were extensions of its' body.  To see how powerful a Hermit Geist is or how many objects it can control, consult the tables below.  A Hermit Geist can also control the fixtures and features of a house that a person should, meaning it can open, close and lock doors, draw blinds or do anything a person could. 

Tactics:
- Lure people inside
- Separate them into manageable groups
- Destroy those who pose a real threat to you first
- Keep them away from your "heart"

To customize a Hermit Geist, roll on the tables below:

How strong is this Hermit Geist?

1d4

1- Pathetic.  The Hermit Geist has 1d3 HD.  It has an Attack Bonus of +1.
2- Weak.  The Hermit Geist has 1d4 HD.  It has an Attack Bonus of +2.
3- Strong.  The Hermit Geist has 1d4+2 HD.  It has an Attack Bonus of +3.
4- Terrible.  The Hermit Geist has 1d6+1 HD.  It has an Attack Bonus of +4.

Hermit Geists can simultaneously move a number of objects equal to their HD. 

                                                     by MercuryRapids

Hermit Geists begin usually in humble dwellings, but as they slay those who enter their homes and drink the life-force from their shattered frames, they grow in power and strength, until their once comfortable domiciles become cramped and stifling. At this point, the Hermit Geist seeks out another like it, a haunted home with no living residents. 

You may see such a duel, though it will not look like much.  A cottage on the isolated plain will suddenly be faced by a thatch-roofed bungalow that fell from the sky and assembled itself in seconds, or a yurt will suddenly find an elaborate tent with an attached pavilion fly down from the sky like a dragon of canvas and wooden poles, before assembling itself before the rival's threshold.  The two ghosts will then engage in a contest of wills, a duel testing the depths of the other's hatred and their malice toward the living.  Then, it will be over.  The winner will occupy the other's home and the loser will be forced out into much more humble environs.

This will occur each time the Geist grows too large for its current housing and seeks a better view.

To see what building a Hermit Geist currently inhabits, roll on the table below, adding a bonus to the roll equal to the Hermit Geist's Attack Bonus.    

1d12
2: A tent or other mobile housing.
3: A yurt,
4: A cottage,
5: A modest family home.
6: A longhouse.
7: A repurposed building.
8: A tower.
9: An underground survival bunker.
10: A treehouse.
11: A boathouse.
12: A manse.
13+: A palace.

As a Hermit Geist trades up in living space and accumulates notches on it's knife, it gradually loses bits of itself.  What begins as a ghost seeking to avenge itself upon a particular person gradually transforms into a force of concentrated malice, with no real desire but to continue it's bloody spree, carving a covert swath across the world, one broken body at a time.

Hermit Geist Plot Hooks:

1d4

1- You fill find a cabin in the middle of the woods, despite encountering no signs of people being nearby.  Inside, you will find a fire burning and tea brewing, but no one is home.  Upon further inspection, other things don't seem quite right- there is no food in the kitchen, only tea and salt, the cushions are moth-eaten and there are suspicious slashes in the wood that look like they were caused by knives.  But before you can seriously consider what this mean, the sharpened, oiled knives hanging on the racks in the kitchen animate and fly right for your throat!
2- A mysterious tower suddenly appeared at the edge of a town.  A group is sent to investigate, but only one returns, claiming that the Witch inside killed the others.  Go and retrieve the witch and bring her here, so she can answer for her crimes.  When she cries that she did not do it, that it was her house, just ignore her.  When the tower disappears a few days later, ignore that as well. 
3- A possible Demon cult has been spotted.  However, the members behave strangely.  Instead of performing black rituals, they simply kidnap people and spirit them away, leaving no trace of where the deceased could have gone.  Find out where the cult is taking people.  Secretly, the "cult" is just a group of concerned people whose children are being held hostage by he Hermit Geist, who are placating it with sacrifices.  The leader of the cult is the only genuinely evil one- though he's pretending otherwise. 
4- A Necromancer who is famous for devouring the souls of ghosts wants the party to help him locate a legendary Hermit Geist and help him trap it.  The Necromancer, if he devours such a Ghost, would be far more powerful than any wicked man should be. But at the same time, the Hermit Geist will just continue killing if it is left alone.  Can the party neutralize both parties or will one become vastly stronger at the expense of the other?

                                                                     by Luca Nemolato

Friday, October 23, 2020

OSR: Greater Incorporeal Undead

 

                                                              by Tom Shropshire

Most Ghosts are insubstantial things, mere shreds of the original soul that were left behind, spiritual detritus.  These Ghosts repeat specific, repetitive actions, such as the Ghost of a suicide throwing themselves off the same building once a year, or the ghost of a murder victim protesting that they need more time before being shot by an unseen gunman.  These Ghosts are harmless.

Other, more powerful Ghosts take on the semblance of being full persons, and carry out repetitive actions that they did in life.  Some of these Ghosts seek to finish some unfinished Ghost but have been unable to do so, because things have changed but the Ghost has not.  Alternatively, in the case of a vengeful spirit, the task may be a mad quest or impossible to fulfill, such as seeking vengeance on someone who was also dead, so the Ghost simply takes vengeance on people it thinks are it's original target. 

Base Ghost Template
HD X
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Varies
Mor Varies
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Abilities:

Ghost: A Ghost counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Changeable Image: Some Ghosts can change their appearance, though this does not change their attributes.  They can also turn invisible, but they is revealed when they attack or uses an object.  However, even while invisible, they leaves signs of his presence.  These signs can include pockets of cold air, scents, a linger presence, the feeling of being watched or etc.  Additionally, Cats and Dogs can detect Ghosts even when they are invisible, and Ghosts can always be seen in a mirror. 

Sunlight Damage: Ghosts take 6 damage a round if they are exposed to sunlight.

Conditional Immortality: Ghosts are bound to an object, location or person.  As long as that thing is intact, the Ghost cannot truly be killed.  If reduced to 0 HP, a Ghost will return to life in 1d4 days at midnight.  The only way to permanently get rid of a Ghost is immolation by sunlight or by destroying the thing binding them to this world. 

Possession: Some Ghosts can also possess people. 

There are other incorporeal Undead other than Ghosts, however.

                                                        by Arnold Lobel

Spectres:

Base Spectre Statblock
HD 1d3+1 
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d6+HD)
Mor 14
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Spectre counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Spectres take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Tactics:
- Destroy all living creatures
- Take pleasure in slaying the helpless
- Flee only if in danger of being destroyed

A Spectre is the mere fragment of a soul, a flayed section of a soul, a shattered fragment of a mind plucked from the remains of a whole and sealed in a spiritual shell.  Within this hollow prison, the fragment grows distorted and strange, struggling to return to the rest of its soul, but being unable to.  This drives a Spectre mad, stretching what little soul it has to the breaking point and beyond. 

Whenever a Spectre sees a living creature, that creature's completeness makes it again remember it's own imperfection, which drives it into a state of homicidal rage.  The Spectre will then attempt to snuff the life of that creature.  This is the only thing that grants a Spectre even the slightest bit of satisfaction.  But even after slaying another creature, the Spectre will once again be left with the knowledge that it is hollow, imperfect, and should not exist.

Spectres are created by blasphemous magic, usually wielded by Necromancers or other perverse Sages.  Spectres can be easily bound and many can be spawned from one powerful soul.  Additionally, they are much more dangerous to the unprepared- a Skeleton can be smashed with a hammer and a Zombie riddled with arrows, but a Spectre is a much more dangerous guard-dog.

A Spectre that is not pressed into service by an evil Sorcerer usually stalks some isolated place, hiding from the sun by day and destroying sentient creatures who stray close to it by night.  If a Spectre finds itself in an area full of mortals, it might flee in despair, or it might go on a rampage until it runs out of visible targets or is destroyed.

When a Spectre is destroyed, the fragment of what it was disappears and returns to the largest nearby fragment, or back to the rest of the soul that it was peeled off of.

Spectre plot Hooks:
1d3

1- The party are hired to exorcise a murderous Ghost.  However, when they arrive, they find a powerful, but Genteel and largely benevolent Ghost who has lost his memories.  They also find a Necromancer operating in the area.  Secretly, the Necromancer attempted to bind the Ghost but failed and instead fractured it, creating a Spectre in the process.  If the Spectre is freed or destroyed, the Ghost would regain his memories and be free to move on.
2- An evil Sage has split the soul of a hero into a dozen fragments, each one a terrible Spectre sent out to do the Sage's bidding.  These Spectres are kept apart and sustained by magic, but if these bindings could be broken, they would merge together and be restored to one, glorious whole. 
3- The party are asked to break into a Sage's home and recover some trinket or accomplish something else.  However, they discover a terrible secret- the Sage has been performing profane experiments on people in the basement.  Now, can they escape before the "Servants" catch them and take them to the lab, to be more fodder for this madman?

                                                                 by u/ellieinthesky

Banshees:

Base Banshee Statblock
HD 1d4+1 
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d6/1d6)
Mor 10
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Banshee counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Banshee take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Terrifying Appearance: Banshees are frightening and grotesque in appearance.  Anyone who lays eyes on one must succeed a COG save or become frightened.  Anyone who is frightened by a Banshee takes 1d6 COG damage they remain in combat or nearby a Banshee.  If this COG damage reduces a creature's COG to 0, that creature flees and continues running until it is certain it is far away from the Banshee.  If the Banshee kills any of the creature's companions while the creature is frightened, the creature gains the Conviction, "Banshees are dangerous and I will avoid them whenever possible.  If I can, I will run from them."     

Wail: 1/Day, a Banshee can unleash a terrifying shriek.  Any creature within 50' of the Banshee must then make a CON save.  On a successful save, a creature takes 3d6 psychic damage.  On a failed save, the creature, if it has any FS left, drops to 0 FS.  If the creature has no FS, he drops to 0 HP.      

Tactics:
- See if anyone is scared of you
- If they are not, immediately Wail
- Slay the weakest looking
- Retreat and use hit and run tactics on the others

While it is debated whether or not the souls of the dead are judged after death, one thing that is known is that the Gods bless and curse those who are still alive.  There is the famous story of King Tabex, who had a habit of killing his guests and stealing their possessions, a grave violation of the laws of hospitality.  As punishment for this, the Gods ensorcelled his horses, transforming them into meat-eating beasts.  When Tabex entered his stables, he found his grooms dead and his prize steeds turned to freakish beasts.  Those creatures chased him until he was exhausted, then fed upon his flesh and ate his innards. 

Another common example are Ghouls, which are creatures cursed for eating the flesh of their own kind, or Vampires, who are cursed for their promiscuity.  But one relatively unknown example is that of the Banshee.

Banshees are usually women, though a male Banshee is not unheard of, who were blessed greatly but abused their gifts in life. Usually these gifts amount to great beauty, but those blessed with great artistic ability, musical talent or powers of persuasion can also end up becoming Banshees.  The curse comes when the accursed refuses to use their gifts for the betterment of the world or to bring joy to others, instead exploiting their talents for selfish gain or evil ends. 

For example, Yuli Manz Bethshabi was a Frogling woman who had the rare talent of being able to sing at the low volumes her countrymen find so appealing.  But rather than use this talent to win herself a good husband or enrich the lives of her people with song, she used it to mislead locals and travelers into following her into the bog, where they would drown, either because they could not find their footing or her accomplices would hold them under the water.  In response to this, the Gods cursed her to become a Banshee.  At first, she barely noticed this judgement, but as the curse progressed, she lost her voice slowly but surely, until she could barely speak.  Finally, the curse took her life and bound her to the bog where she drowned her victims.  She still stalks it by night, her croaking songs all but inaudible unless she is right behind her.

Banshees are bound to either the place they died or the place where they committed their crimes.  Most Banshees despise the Gods and continue their crimes to spite them.  Others merely seek to take revenge on those who harmed them while they were alive.  But some seek to escape from their cursed fate, but don't know how.  The only way for a Banshee to be released from their curse is for them to seek redemption and find it. 

Banshee Plot Hooks
1d3

1- The party is hired to assassinate someone, but they need to make it look like an accident.  Their client recommends they investigate the lair of a Banshee, who was a talented conman before he died.  The Banshee sold useless cures and false magic while alive, and now he sells spiritual poison that leaves no physical traces.  He'll sell you some, as long as you don't anger him.  If you do, he'll kill you and scrape out any hatred you have to make more poison.
2- A local man hires the party to investigate the disappearance of the local woman who he has been attempting to woo.  She ran into the wilderness and he hasn't been seen since.  Secretly, she has been killing people by luring them to her doom using her beauty and stashing their bodies in the woods.  The Banshee's curse has been slowly robbing her of that beauty, and she has fled rather than face the consequences of her actions. 
3- A rich woman comes to the party and tells them that her wealthy husband is a sick pervert who has been abusing and torturing her.  She knows that the local magistrates will not take action, so she can only rely on extralegal means.  Secretly, she is lying and just wants the party to kill her husband so she can take possession of his wealth.  Afterwards, she plans to betray them.  If she is killed, she will turn into a Banshee and attempt to take her revenge.               

                                                        by Matt Hubel

Wraiths:

Base Wraith Statblock
HD 1d6+1
AR Ethereal Nature- see "Ghost"
Atk Withering Touch (1d8/1d8) or Life Drain
Mor 12
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Cold, Poison and Necrotic damage

Ghost: A Wraith counts as being Undead.  They can also fly and are intangible, so non-spiritual objects pass through them.  They are immune to damage from non-magical weapons, as well as cold, poison and necrotic damage.

Sunlight Damage: Wraiths take 6 damage a round they are exposed to sunlight.

Life Drain: If a Wraith touches a living creature, it can force that creature to save.  On a successful save, that creature takes 1d6 Necrotic damage.  On a failed save, that creature takes 1d6 CON damage.  This can also reduce a creature's total HP.  If this reduces a creature's CON to 0, that creature immediately dies.  Note that once a creature makes or fails one save, each subsequent use of Life Drain on it does that kind of damage. 

CON damage done by Life Drain is permanent until removed by a spell such as Greater Restoration or the target is blessed by a person granted divine power, such as a Priest, Prophet (Paladin) or King.  After such a blessing is bestowed on the creature, CON returns at a rate of 1 point per day.      

Create Spectre: If any creature has died within the presence of the Wraith, the Wraith can attempt to catch the creature's soul before it can depart for the afterlife.  This struggle is invisible to those not properly attuned or without the eyes to see, such as with Sight Beyond Sight.  If the Wraith catches such a soul, it can shred it into fragments, and create a Spectre.  Such a Spectre is bound to the Wraith and must obey it's commands no matter what.  Wraiths can bind and command a number of Spectres equal to their HD.  The other pieces of the flayed soul the Wraith wraps around it's neck, to add to its robe of inky shadows.  Only by destroying the Wraith or with it's consent can the fragment spirit be reassembled and released to the afterlife.    

Tactics:
- Open with Life Drain
- Try to create a Spectre
- If that is impossible, focus your attacks on the most dangerous enemy

The greatest enemy is Death, and the desire to conquer him is the foundation of all civilization.  This has not changed over the eras, and many great Sages have plotted against Heaven and Nature, seeking to cheat death and become eternal.  This has resulted in the twin methods of Daemonhood and the more famous, Lichdom.

However, becoming a Lich is fraught with difficulty.  It requires special physical preparations, unique spells and other magical preparations.  It also requires great humility and perserverance.  And even if you do everything right, you could still make some magical error that leaves you trapped in a corpse, unable to move or do anything until your phylactery runs out of power and you die again, or you could succeed, only to forget to adjust your blood-pressure and give yourself a stroke before dying again.  Or you could slice off some important part of your personality, leaving yourself without the motivation to continue your original plan, or accidentally misplace your memories and leave you wondering what all these metal cylinders and explosive compounds are for. 

Wraiths are one of those potential outcomes when someone fails to properly ascend to Lichdom.  Such an outcome can result from getting the potion to poison ratio wrong, fumbling one of your incantations and failing to rectify it later, or because someone jammed three feet of steel through your chest before you could finish the ritual.  There are also other ways to become a Wraith, of course.  Failing to ascend to Lichdom is just one common way.  Regardless, the result is the same.

A Wraith is a person's consciousness, minus their body, but plus incredible power.  Sometimes Wraiths manage to maintain the full suite of emotions that a living person would have, the spells for Lichdom preserving their spirit.  However, if those spells were botched, incomplete or otherwise rushed, then they could flay the person's soul, leaving the Wraith with dulled emotions and empathy.  Regardless of initial circumstances, most Wraiths share one trait, and that is the ability to hold a grudge.  That, along with blood-thirsty rage. 

Wraith Plot Hooks:
1d6

1- A villain is attempting to become a Lich.  Stop him.  But be careful- just because you kill him, doesn't mean he is gone for good.
2- Someone is eliminating the old, retired members of a group of heroes that once saved the Kingdom.  The Paladin, frail and senile in her old age has been raving that one of her old enemies has returned from the grave to get his revenge like he always promised he would.  Is she right, or is this just the babbling of an scared old woman?
3- The party is asked to investigate a mysterious string of murders.  All the victims died in concealed locations with locked doors and no sign of forced entry, and none of them had any visible wounds on their body.  The local watchmen suspect a Wizard, but no one has any real idea what is actually going on.  Secretly, it's a Wraith taking revenge.
4- A Kobold stumbles into a village, asking for help.  The Kobold tells a story of how an evil spirit has taken control of his tribe.  He needs help to get rid of the spirit and the Kobolds lack the power to do so. 
5- As the party explores a darkness shrouded ruin, the party is approached by a Wraith.  With a voice like knife scraping bone, the undead tells them a tale of how it seeks to avenge itself upon a flock of Gralei that betrayed it so many years ago.  All the Wraith wants is for them to help it terrorize the Flock, in exchange for their aid, the Wraith will let them keep all of the loot.  None of that interests the Wraith.  Will the party help the Wraith?  And will they be able to avoid the Wraith's inevitable betrayal?
6- The Necromancer Lysandar Boneheart terrorized the nation of Ardol for many years before he was finally captured and hung.  But before he died, he spoke a curse over them, declaring that he would return and have his revenge against those who hounded him in life.  Now, as the one year anniversary of his death approaches, strange omens fill the dreams of the Prophets and disturbing omens torment the Oracles.  Has Boneheart really returned, or is it just the nervous murmurings of peasants?       

                                                          by Arnold Lobel

Monday, October 19, 2020

OSR: Faerie Dragons

 

                                                                 by Brian Syme

Bastards.  Invisible, giggling bastards.  Faerie Dragons combine the puckish sense of humor of the Folk, the avarice of Dragons and the intellect of a mad genius.  They are terrors.  Faerie Dragons are known to wreak havoc, largely for their own amusement.  They are the bane of adventurers, nobles and important occasions alike. 

Faerie Dragons love to play "pranks" on people.  But being Folk, their pranks are often cruel or nonsensical by our standards.  For example, turning someone's wife into a sheep then hiding her in the pasture of some other shepherd.  They do enjoy tormenting and harassing people for their own amusement.  However, they are not needlessly cruel.  A Faerie Dragon is fine with causing someone a bit of pain if it's funny, but it won't torment someone who is already suffering or pick on someone who can't at least attempt some resistance.  Their favorite targets are the rich, proud and pompous.  Additionally, another way to earn the ire of a Faerie Dragon is to be rude in it's presence or to violate one of the laws of hospitality.

Faerie Dragons are known to take up residence in distant glades or by sparkling ponds.  They favor virgin wilderness, but they are not above living near civilization, as that means endless entertainment for them.  Regardless of where their territory is, they zealously defend it against invasion, engaging in harassment campaigns against any who dare to enter their territory.  It is possible to cross through a Faerie Dragon's territory if you bribe it with baubles, sweets or liquor, all of which they adore.  Alternatively, you may bring it something it hoards, or simply try to flatter it's ego.  Faerie Dragons are still Dragons, and they think very highly of themselves.     

Faerie Dragon
HD X (see below)
Armor Scaly Body [8 Armor]
Atk Bite (+1, 1d8)
Mor 11
Saves (7+HD)

Cold Iron Weakness: Faerie Dragons take +1 damage per die from all Iron Weapons.

Truth-Teller: Faerie Dragons cannot lie, but they can deceive, manipulate or omit information, just not tell bold-faced lies.

Flyer: Faerie Dragons can fly.  While in flight, they add +4 to their Armor and Initiative.  They cannot hover and must continue moving to stay in the air. 

Invisibility: Faerie Dragons can turn invisible as an action.  The Dragon can stay invisible for as long as it likes, but attacking or casting a spell causes it to turn visible once more.     

Telepathy: Faerie Dragons are telepathic, able to communicate with any creature with a mind within 100'.  If the Faerie Dragon looks, it can also detect the presence of creatures with minds within that area.  The Faerie Dragon cannot read thoughts, but it can sense the thoughts and feelings of those it communicates with, and those it speaks with telepathically can sense the same.   

Innate Spellcasting: Faerie Dragons have a number of Mana Dice equal to their HD.  They can cast the following spells as an action.  These spells do not trigger Chaos or Corruption, but their MD do burn out as normal.  Note that "At-Will" spells can be cast for free as Level 1 spells, or can have their power enhanced by spending more MD.  However, in the latter case, such MD will burn out as normal on a 5 or 6.  To see what spells a Faerie Dragon can cast, see the "Magic of the Faerie Dragon" table.

Breath Weapon: Faerie Dragons have breath weapons like their bigger cousins.  All Faerie Dragon Breath Weapons do 3d6 damage (if they do damage), sometimes permit saving throws (see below) and are only usable every 1d4 turns.  They strike a 30' cone, and have a 30' range.  To determine a Faerie Dragon's breath weapon, consult the Breath Weapon table below.  

Tactics:
- Avoid direct confrontation
- Harass and threaten, use Fabian tactics
- Only attack when victory is certain
- Never be afraid to retreat

To customize a Faerie Dragon, roll on the tables below:
 
The Faerie Dragon is...

1d4

1- Cat sized.  It has 3 HD.
2- Deer sized.  It has 1d4+1 HD.
3- Man sized.  It has 1d6 HD.
4- Elk sized.  It has 1d6+1 HD.

It is...

1d12

1- Red.
2- Orange.
3- Yellow.
4- Green.
5- Blue.
6- Indigo.
7- Violet.
8- Black.
9- White.
10- Metallic colored- 1d4 [1= Gold; 2= Silver; 3= Copper.]
11- Spotted, roll 1d10 twice.
12- Striped, roll 1d10 twice.

The Faerie Dragon also has...

1d6

1- A crest of fur running down it's spine.
2- Claws and teeth of clear crystal.
3- Antlers.
4- A third eye.
5- A tail that instead resembles the tail of a 1d4 [1= Lion; 2= Horse; 3= Monkey; 4= Devil (forked).]
6- Wings like that of a 1d4 [1= Bird; 2= Bat; 3= Butterfly; 4= Dragonfly.]

Magic of the Faerie Dragon:

HD        Spells Known

1        At will: Illusion, Levitate, Light
2        1/Day: Hypnotic Pattern
3        1/Day: Mirror Image
4        1/Day: Geas
5        1/Day: Suggestion
6        1/Day: Perfect Illusion
7        1/Day: Polymorph   

Breath Weapon:

1d6

1- Euphoria Gas.  Anyone who is caught in this breath weapon falls into a state of chemically-induced bliss.  They must succeed a successful COG save to take an action that might harm another creature.  
2- Hallucination Breath.  Anyone who is caught in this breath weapon starts suffering from hallucinations for 1d6 hours.
3- Laughing Gas.  Anyone who is caught in this cloud will find themselves starting to laugh impulsively.  They get a -2 to any complex actions and every round they are in the cloud of smoke produced by the Faerie Dragon, they must save.  On a failed save, they lose their actions and cannot do anything but laugh hysterically.
4- Sleeping Gas.  Anyone who is caught in this breath weapon must save.  On a failed save, the creature falls asleep until they take damage, a loud noise occurs near them, or they naturally awaken after 1d4 hours. 
5- Shrinking Cloud.  Anyone who is caught in this breath weapon must save.  On a successful save, the creature is reduced by 1 size category.  On a failed save, 1d4 size categories.  If this shrinks you enough, you might end up falling into the Microverse.
6- Exhaled Youth.  Anyone who is caught in this breath weapon is reduced in age by 1d20 years.  Any character who is reduced to adolescence or childhood will receive appropriate penalties.  Characters who are de-aged must save.  On a failed save, they forget all memories from before that date.  On a successful save, they retain all memories.

                                                   by Sarah Dalinger