Sunday, July 25, 2021

OSR: d12 Magic Spears

This post is inspired by this post by Cacklecharm.  It contains d10 other magic spears. 

from here, Xiangling from Genshin Impact

Salt-Tooth:
Damage: 1d6+Atk modifier

Salt-Tooth is a spear made of a branch from a mangrove tree, sanded to the smoothness of a child's bald head.  It is warm to the touch and smells faintly of rot and tropical fruits.  The tip is leaf-shaped and the edges of the blade are lined with rust.  The spear was created by a swamp dwelling Druid whose lover was slain by a man armored in steel mail, with a length of shining metal in his fist.  The Druid was powerless against such metals, his stone blades proving utterly useless.  So he beseeched the green spirits of the Swamp, bidding them to help.  He promised them anything, and moved by his hatred, those wild nature spirits gave him instructions.  

Killing a dozen men armed and shielded by iron, he gathered these works of civilization and brought them to the center of the swamp.  There the spirits kindled a wild blaze for him and as the metal melted, they danced around the blaze and drank the molten metal like wine.  When they were finished, the chief of the spirits spat out a single piece of metal that had cooled between his teeth and told the Druid to mount it on a piece of wood.  That piece of metal was the head of the spear that would one day become known as Salt-Tooth. 

Salt-Tooth's ability is that it destroys armor and shields.  When a piece of armor comes in contact with Salt-Tooth or Salt-Tooth's wielder (as long as he is holding the spear), that piece of armor loses 1 point of AR.  If this reduces the piece of armor to 0 AR, it crumbles and falls apart. 

Magical armor is not destroyed, but is instead covered in a fine layer of rust that prevents it from being used as armor or it's magical abilities from used.  Magical armor must be purified with lightning or by immersion for at least 1 day in a fast-flowing river.  A Water Elemental's magic or a Dragon's fire could also work in a pinch.

The one problem of Salt-Tooth is that it affects the user as well, as the magic of the spear flows through him (or her) as well.  Any piece of armor the user of Salt-Tooth tries to wear is rendered useless in minutes. 

Salt-Tooth is a precious heirloom of the Druids, and is still in the possession of a swamp dwelling Circle of them, though it likely isn't the circle the forger of the spear was from, despite what they might claim. 

Rosethorn:

Damage: 1d6+Atk

Rosethorn is a spear made of snow-white birch with living green vines curling up and down the handle.  The blade is a long piece of finely worked bronze.  Blooming near the base of the blade is a living, dark red rose.  It is a Handsome Man design, obviously, the work of a master craftsman, though few outside those lands would recognize the latter fact.  The creator is a Handsome Man war-artisan known for incorporating living plants into his weapons, after altering the plants to feed on the blood and mana of the slain.  His name is Binilli Crayasi [Bin-ill-Eh Cra-Ah-See].  His weapons are famous in those lands and very valuable to the right buyer.  

Rosethorn's ability is that 1/Day, you can animate 1 plant for ten minutes.  That plant becomes your ally for the duration or until it dies.  The plant will obey your orders and attack on your turn.  The plant's damage and HD depends on it's size (Referee's Discretion applies).

Plant Table:
Grass/Flowers- 1 HD, 1d6 damage
Shrubs/Bushes/Hedges- 2 HD, 1d6+2 damage
Small Trees- 3 HD, 1d8 damage
Large Trees- 1d6+2 HD, 1d10 damage

A group of bandits currently terrorizing travelers along a stretch of Imperial road near the Northern border of the Empire found the weapon on the body of a dead Handsome Men, the last survivor of a shattered raiding party who managed to crawl away before expiring.  Since that day, they've been using the spear to commit larger jobs and have been far more successful.  However, as they become more brazen, they've been getting more sloppy.  They are unaware of this fact, but there is currently a bounty on their leader's head, as she was the only one who could be positively identified.

Boarsbane:
Damage: 1d8+Atk+STR modifier

Boarsbane is a boar spear, shorter and wide-bladed, with a shaft of sturdy ash.  Below the blade, two long tusks stud the shaft of the spear.  The spear constantly stinks of blood and unsettles people not used to violence when they see it. 

Boarsbane was created when a Hoba named Paul Lightwhisker's family was abused by a pair of Imperial Roadkeepers, who are ordinarily tasked with protecting travelers, collecting tolls and preventing banditry.  But in some places, they are little more than legitimized bandits, as Lightwhisker soon learned.  The Roadkeepers took the lion's share of his family's produce as "tolls" for using His Imperium's roads and when his father complained about this, they beat him bloody.  They then threatened him and his family, insisting that they must hand over half of their next harvest to them, or they wouldn't get to use the road at all.

But Lightwhisker's father wasn't a weak man.  He refused to obey, even traveling to the nearest city to speak with the City's Prelate.  Unfortunately, the Prelate was unable to help, but promised to send a request to the Province's governor.  But when he returned home, the Roadkeepers heard of this and fearing the hangman's noose, they went to the Governor and accused Lightwhisker's father of being a servant of Chaos.  They said he was indoctrinating his children to hate the Emperor and the Gods of Heaven, and to only serve the Red Princes of Chaos.  The Governor granted their request for a writ to arrest this man and bring him in for a trial.  The Roadkeepers then used this writ to go to Lightwhisker's house and kill his father, then rape his mother and two sisters, before killing them as well.  They would have killed him as well, but Lightwhisker escaped.

They sought him out though, seeking to kill him, as he was a witness to their crimes.  So Paul Lightwhisker went into town and told everyone that he was looking for them, and he would be waiting under the dead elm tree on the hill overlooking town at sunset.  When the Roadkeepers returned to town, they heard this from the locals and went to that location.  They suspected a trap, but they were still not prepared.  When they arrived, Paul was hiding nearby.  He threw a stone at oen's back, luring him into the brush.  This caused the first Roadkeeper to stumble into a tripwire and fall, entangled in rope.  Paul then threw a bundle of straw wrapped in a cloak onto him and yelled, "Let go of me!"  When the second came, he thrust his spear downward into what he thought was Paul, but instead was merely straw.  Thus, the blade went straight through the bundle and impaled his friend.  When the second Roadkeeper realized what he had done, he threw up and went into a panic.  He turned to run for help, only to find himself impaled on Paul's spear. 

After that, Paul Lightwhisker chopped off their heads and left them impaled on the fence overlooking the village green, after carving the words "Thief" and "Murderer" into each of their faces.  Despite the fact that the two were known to be abusive, he was still branded an outlaw by Imperial officials.  Since that day, he has been known as Paul Redfoot, a servant of Chaos to some and a man seeking true justice by others.  And though he later lost his spear in battle, by the time he did, the spear had already gained a bit of his cleverness. 
    
Boarsbane's abilities are as follows:

1/Day, it can produce a pheromone cloud that attracts boars, pigs and pig-like creatures, including Pigmen.  It attracts all such creatures within 100'.  Intelligent creatures get a save to resist.

1/Day, it can produce a pheromone that causes all boars, pigs and pig-like creatures, including Pigmen, within 30' of a point that the wielder designates to fly into a murderous rage.  For the Orzane, consider it as if it automatically triggered their Battle Rage.  When in such a rage, such creatures will attack the first perceived threat or enemy they can see.  Their rage is so intense that they will not be able to recognize their companions, so if there are no other targets around, they might end up attacking each other. 

Boarsbane is currently being used by a serial killer who has been using it to lure Orzanian travelers and caravans off safe routes into areas frequented by monsters, then preying on the survivors of the inevitable monster attacks.  He has also developed a taste for hogflesh, of the four-legged and talking kind. 

Gravedigger's Guard: 
Damage: 1d6+Atk

Gravedigger's Guard is a spear with a shaft of dark wood and a pair of petrified feathers mounted below blade, which is barbed and cruel looking.

This spear once belonged to the first custodian of what would become Nu-Zir, City of the Dead.  At the time, it was just another spear.  But one day, when the custodian was accompanying his staff through the crypt-lined streets, inspecting their sacred charges, a raven flew down and landed on the spear and told them, "Death awaits."  The custodian, trusting the word of the Raven, sent his young aide to lead the non-warriors ahead, while he asked for volunteers to go forward with him.  A few stepped forward and he led them deeper into the boneyard, where they were attacked by a mob of zombies that had been lying in wait.  The custodian and his brave men were surrounded and though they fought bravely, they were vastly outnumbered.  By the time reinforcements arrived, all that was left of them were their weapons, left impaled in the ground.  But by sacrificing himself so that others might live, the custodian's spear was imbued with the strength of the slain. 

Gravedigger's Guard's abilities are as follows:

If any Undead should come within 100' of the spear, the stone feathers below the blade glow a sickly green.  The light's brightness depends on the number of Undead or their strength.  A Lich or an army of zombies will trigger the same brightness, roughly.

1/Day, Gravedigger's Guard can conjure a Unkindness of Ravens, who will stand guard over the wielder of the spear, keeping watch and alerting him of any who would approach him.  They will automatically attack any Undead who come within 100' of the wielder, unless ordered to do otherwise.  When these ravens are slain, they disintegrate into shadows and vanish.

Gravedigger's Guard was once passed down by the custodians of Nu-Zir, but after the last custodian broke his neck in a shameful accident, the spear went missing.  It is currently in the hands of an Adventurer named Bogran Skullgrinder of Temris, an Orzane who hates necromancers more than anything in the world.

Pallbearer's Point:
Damage: 1d6+Atk

Pallbearer's Point is a spear with a blade of heavy black iron and a shaft of solid, sturdy oak.  The wood is wrapped in red cord and a pair of white tassels hang down from below the wide, square blade.

Pallbearer's Point once belonged to a Dwarf clansman who was entrusted with the duty of guarding the bodies of his brothers during the winter, standing guard over their corpses to prevent Ghouls and other creatures from despoiling their bodies.  He faithfully did his duty and this offended a Ghoul who disliked such loyalty and wanted to demonstrate the falseness of such sentiments, along with eating the corpses of the Dwarf.  So he disguised himself as a friend of the Dwarf and hired a prostitute to "reward", ie to distract the Dwarf and lure him away.  As Dwarves are all sterile men, many of them have no experience or even feelings of the matter unless awakened.  So when the prostitute described what she wished to do with him, the Dwarf's resolve crumbled like a dog presented with a plate of bacon grease.  But as he was enjoying her, he realized the strangeness of the circumstances and told her to wait for just a moment.  When she attempted to stop him, he broke her nose and ran, snatching up his spear. 

When he returned he found the Ghoul and his necrotizing companions feasting on the bodies of his slain brethren.  Filled with rage at himself and his own weakness, he charged in and attacked them.  The Ghouls were unprepared and he cut down half of them in a single furious assault, breaking their resolve.  Their leader saw that the Dwarf had been wounded as well, and was bleeding out.  So he simply waited for the Dwarf to fall over and die.  But the Dwarf didn't- he remained standing.  Eventually, the Undead realized that he must actually have died on his feet, braced on the spear so that it kept his body upright.  But when one of the Undead attempted to push him over, the Undead brushed the Dwarf's spear.  At this, a burst of holy light erupted from the spear and the Undead was instantly destroyed.  At the sight of this, the rest fled.  The Dwarf's brothers found him that morning, unarmored and naked but for his loin-cloth, dead from a dozen horrible wounds, yet still standing.

Pallbearer's Point's abilities are as follows:

3/Day, should the wielder wish it, upon striking an Undead with the spear, he can force that Undead to save.  On a failed save, the Undead is instantly destroyed.  Note that this ability only works on Embodied Undead such as skeletons, zombies, Wights, Ghouls and etc, not on Immaterial Undead such as Ghosts, Spectres, Wraiths, etc.

1/Day, the wielder can draw a line or circle in the dirt.  No Undead may pass beyond this line for the duration.  Living creatures are unaffected, as are projectiles.  The barrier last until the next sunrise, after which it dissolves and becomes nothing more than a line in the dirt.

Pallbearer's Point is a semi-famous weapon in the South, with at least a dozen Dwarf clans claiming to be the clan whom the original owner belonged to.  The truth is disputed and some allege that the story is nothing more than a piece of fiction.  Regardless, the spear is currently in the hands of an elite Dwarf warrior by the name of Crint Ten Shields of the Harvix Clan.  He is the bodyguard to that clan's lone princess, protecting her until she is old and developed enough to succeed their aging Queen.

from here, artist unknown

Bloodhunter:
Damage: 1d6+Atk+X

Bloodhunter is a spear made of smooth, transparent red crystal.  It glitters brightly in the sun and is always cold to the touch.  It can absorb the blood of those it injures, which automatically makes the spear grow in size, as well as making the designs and ornamentation of the spear grow more elaborate.  From simple studs grow blossoms of razor crystal and curling vines that are cold as iron left in the snow. 

Bloodhunter's ability works like this:

Should Bloodhunter be used to successfully attack and injure a creature that has blood, the spear gets a +1 bonus to damage.  Only add this damage bonus after an attack is confirmed to hit, not as part of the Attack roll.

However, whenever the creature using Bloodhunter makes an attack and fails to hit against a creature with armor or a shield, there is an X-in-10 percent chance that Bloodhunter shatters into shards of crystal.

On a natural 1, the spear shatters automatically.

Bloodhunter, if destroyed, will leave behind a sphere of crystal that resembles an acorn carved of the same transparent red crystal.  If left in a pot of blood, wine and oil for 1 month, the spear will reform with non damage bonus. 

Bloodhunter is currently being used a mercenary who is fighting in one of the many skirmishes between the Dwarf clans and the Empire in the South.  He is not a bad man, but his company has switched sides multiple times and isn't well trusted.   

Infriga:
Damage: 1d6+Atk + 1d4 ice damage on a successful hit

A spear with a wooden shaft that is encrusted with rime and has grown white and stiff, with a tip of ice carved into a delicate looking arrowhead shape, Infriga is a beautiful and exotic weapon.  The tip is perpetually cold and smokes in hot environments, cooling the air around it.

Infriga is a Quarrian weapon, the tip made of lunar ice carved by a aging smith.  When his son was conscripted, he prayed that the Gods grant his son some way to protect his son.  And the smith's distant Gods heard him and sent a messenger, bearing the ice which had frozen in the Darkness between the Stars, wrapped in cloth made of moonlight.  The smith carved the ice into a spearhead and mounted it on the pole, then wrapped the moonlight around the wood, which hardened the wood and made it indestructible.  This act destroyed the smith's hands, freezing then burning them.  So when he presented his son with the spear, his son wept at his father's wounds.  The son swore to use the spear with pride.  His name was Amanaxes Gollow, Prophet of the Moons and Unifier of the Quarrian people. 

Infriga's ability is as follows:

1/Day, if stuck into a container of water, Infriga charges that water with energy, allowing the wielder to hurl the water as a projectile.  Upon impact, the water instantly freezes itself and anything it splashes.  Depending on the size of the container of water, this affects the damage.

The wielder can also use this ice to create an object made of ice.  The amount of water around Infriga's tip affects the size of the object that can be created.

Container Size Table:   

Canteen.  Can create hand-sized object or does 1d6 damage.        
Bucket.  Can create bucket-sized object and does 1d8 damage.
Bathtub.  Can create bath-sized object and does 2d6, save for half, damage.
River or Lake.  Can create an object up to the size of a carriage and does 3d6, save for half, damage.

Infriga is still viewed as precious relic by the Church of the Moons, who occasionally lend it to champions working on behalf of their people or their Gods.  The rest of the time it rests in the Cathedral of Lunador, their God of War, where it is venerated by many.

Basilisk's Barb:
Damage: 1d8+Atk+STR

A heavy spear with a wide, wedge shaped blade of heavy bronze with an ornately detailed closed eye beneath the blade.  The blade is roughly the same shape as a Basilisk's fang and there is a scrap of skin hanging on the opposite side of the blade that the sculpted eye is.  It could be mistaken by Basilisk skin for someone who is unfamiliar with the beast, but any trained adventurer would be able to tell that it's actually just skin from a Giant Snake.  The skin is a relatively new addition, much newer than anything else on the spear.

Basilisk's Barb's true origin is lost in the haze of rumor and folklore, but one story tells of a well-liked man and pillar of the community who was also a degenerate.  He would kidnap and assault women, keeping them as his play-things, then feeding them to the Basilisk that he kept in his basement when he tired of them.  This continued for years until the man captured a pair of twin girls.  He tortured them for a bit, then attempted to feed them to the Basilisk.  But as he was moving them downstairs, one got free and scratched out one of his eyes.  This pain distracted him enough that he forgot to restrain her.  So when the Basilisk failed to eat her, as it was full after eating her sister, she was able to escape and alert the neighbors to what was happening.  The murderer realized what had happened and fled, but the townspeople were still able to exact some measure of revenge, by filling the basement with oil and burning the horrible beast alive.

Supposedly, the spear was then crafted using one of the Basilisk's eyes, but no one knows what happened to the other, or who made it. 

Basilisk's Barb's ability is as follows:

As a free action, the wielder can command the eye to open.  If he takes an action to focus the eye on a creature, that creature takes 1d6 DEX damage.  Should this damage reduce a creature to 0 DEX, that creature is petrified.  Note that unless the wielder uses his action to focus the eye it will roll around and look at everything but what he wants it to look at.  He can close the eye as an action.  Additionally, line of sight is required for the eye to work- even a cloud of smoke in between you and your intended target will block the eye's petrifying effect.  DEX damage done by this eye is undone, with the affected creature recovering 1 point of DEX per 10 minutes after it stops being exposed.    

Basilisk's Barb is currently in the hands of one Yotham, Son of Yarthi, a man who looks every inch a proud and courageous adventurer.  In actuality, he is a spoiled rich boy who is pretending to be one to sleep with loose women and impress strangers.  He has only been in a couple fights before in his life and his best friend is his bodyguard.  He's secretly quite pathetic.

In some of the communities near the Quarrian border, where the trees grow till they touch the clouds and Elephants roam freely through the deep darkness beneath the canopy, there are stories of Ice Eyes, an immortal killer with a snake's eyes.  Those eyes supposedly freeze those who look into them, preventing them from running away, turning blood to slush and flesh stiff as cold stone.  Ice Eyes is used by boys to frighten girls into cuddling with them and by parents to frighten children into doing their chores, but there's no truth to the stories.  At least, probably not. 

Rotgut:
Damage: 1d6+Atk

A spear with a shaft that is just slightly covered and a long, narrow tip with hooks extending from the bottom of either side of the blade.  A good weapon for disarming people or hooking other people's weapons.  It smells faintly of cloves and licorice.

Rotgut was created by an anarchic Culinary Wizard by the name of Simon Seven-Layers, who created the drunken lasagna, a meal that is only enhanced the drunker you are.  But when people insisted on eating his food while sober, he got creative.  Dosing people's drink, mixing rum into the candle wax so that inhaling the fumes would intoxicate you, hiring tiny folk to injecting people under the nails with slivers of frozen liquor, all of these were tactics of his to ensure that all those who ordered his food were the appropriate level of intoxicated.  So it was only a matter of time before he ran afoul of the authorities.  The incident in question involved a dinner where the Governor got drunk and slept with the son of a visiting dignitary, instead of his male paramour, provoking an international incident.  For this, Seven-Layers was hunted down and hung by the neck.  But after his body was turned over to his students for burial, they found a very strange recipe tucked into his clothes, written in an unfamiliar hand writing.  They made the recipe on a whim and instead of the cake that the recipe proported to create, the spear Rotgut spilled from the oven instead.

Rotgut's abilities are as follows:

As an action, the user can open a slit in the spearhead and pour from it a shot's worth of high quality liquor.  This cannot produce an infinite amount of liquor, but it can produce enough to get at least 30 people stone drunk. 

1/Day, as an action, the wielder can produce a cloud of alcohol-laced fog that covers up to 50' square feet of floor.  Anyone in an area that is covered by the fog gains 1 point of drunkenness per minute breathing in the cloud.  The fog cloud lasts for 1d10 minutes indoors, 1d6 minutes outdoors or in strong winds, 1d4 rounds.

Rotgut is currently in the hands of the Chef-Terrorist Fiery Grigor, a Crocoling master of cuisine seeking to devour two of every creature under the earth, including sentient species.  He was last seen bundled in furs deep in the South, but that was years ago.  He could be anywhere by now.

Andronicus:
Damage: 1d8+Atk+STR

A spear with a ruddy-red shaft that gradually deepens to a red-violet color near the tip.  The tip is huge to the point of near-impracticability and always shines like it is freshly polished, no matter how dirty it should be.  It has several gold rings incorporated as part of the design, and they flash with jewels.

Andronicus is an Ego Weapon.  To wield it you must be one of the following:
- A man with a STR and CON of 13(+1) or more
- A woman with a STR and CON of 15(+1) or more
- A person with at least three (female) wives, concubines or paramours

If you do not fit any of the above categories, Adronicus is too heavy for you to lift.  If you attempt to lift it in some other way, such as trickery or sorcery, Andronicus accidentally falls as slices you open, seriously injuring you.

Andronicus is a weapon that once belonged to a Djinn, one of the Genies.  After losing a great amount of wealth in a bet, he created this spear to enable him to quickly regain it.  When he was finished with it, he threw it to Earth, where it landed and proceeded to cause endless amounts of grief for those who gained it.  For while the power of Adronicus is not great, it is an extremely disruptive ability that disrupts communities, rips apart families and generally tends to corrupt those who obtain it.

Adronicus's ability works as follows:

1/Day, if you injure a creature with Adronicus, you can force a creature to save.  On a failed save, that creature will be overcome with a desire to serve you (as Charm).  Depending on who you are, "serve" will take on different meanings based on how that creature would interpret such a desire and how you present yourself.  For example, the grizzled bandit captain will interpret that in a far different way than the harem dancer.

This effect is a Charm effect, but it persists until you die, give over Andronicus willingly to another person or mistreat a creature badly enough.

Andronicus is currently in the hands of an Ogre, who is using it to assemble a "family" that will love and take care of him.  All of the others in his family are actually charmed into carrying out their roles for him, but they will fight to the death to defend him.  Their actual kin would like them back, preferrably undamaged.

Cloud Carver:

Damage: 1d10+Atk

A spear with a shaft of finest cedar and a head of creamy metal that resembles white gold, Cloud Carver is clearly a weapon from another, higher world than ours.  The blade is adorned with cloud-like designs and a ribbon of palest blue surrounds the head and flaps in the breeze whenever there is one.  The weapon is never dirty and when wielded by an appropriate user, seems to weigh no more than a length of balsa wood.  As such, Cloud Carver is immediately recognizable as the prized weapon of Jacura Nivic [Jah-sir-ah Niv-ick], Skyclimber, Hoghunter, Bane of Giants, Ocean-Tamer, Wrestler of the East Wind and Father of Horses.

There are more stories about Jacura than could be recounted in a single lifetime, most of which are common knowledge.  All you need to know is that almost anyone who saw this weapon would think, "Doesn't this look vaguely familiar?"  They might immediately recognize it as Jacura's weapon, but since some cultures describe him differently, with a different personality, weaponry, abilities or even as another race, not all would identify it as his.  The Orzane always describe and depict him carrying an Axe, which to them is a weapon of the Soldiering and Landed class, while in other lands axes are tools used primarily by peasants, so they depict Jacura as carrying a sword.  Nonetheless, even if someone did not know the slightest thing about Jacura, they would still recognize Cloud Carver as a mighty weapon.

Cloud Carver is an Ego Weapon.  To wield it you must have the following qualities:
- Have a DEX and COG of at least 16(+2) and have at least 5 HD/Class levels
- Have slain a great flying monster (such as a Roc, Griffon, Chimera, Dragon, etc)

If you do not fit any of the above categories, Cloud Carver sizzles with energy and radiates hostility when you pick it up.  If you refuse to heed this first warning, you are struck by lightning the next time you try to use Cloud Carver (4d6 lightning, save for half).

Cloud Carver's abilities work as follows:

1/Day, the wielder can alter the weather in a local area (within 10 miles) to whatever he wishes, as long as the weather is seasonally appropriate.  That means no snow in high summer or warm rain in autumn.  Additionally, all changes take 1d4 hours to manifest as clouds rush to be in the proper position.

1/Day, the wielder can create glowing wings of light that appear on the back of the wielder or the wielder's mount.  These wings grant the ability to fly and levitate for 10 minutes, after which they disappear.  The wielder can feel when they are about to run out and will be urged by the weapon to land before it happens. 

Cloud Carver is currently in a hidden cavern concealed in the Garden Peaks, a mountain chain that is far less pleasant than it sounds.  There it is guarded by a Sphinx, who awaits a champion virtuous enough to claim it.

from here, presumably by OP

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

OSR: The Horns of Valhalla

This is a post based on a magic item from 5th Edition.  I kept the name, but nothing else is the same.  This was also inspired by a Cacklecharm post, which I will link here, but also in the text below.

by Dilorom Abdullaeva
Most people in Nukaria believe the world is circular and eternal.  Like the seasons, the ages come and go and things persist as they always have.  The adherents to Chaos, however, do not share this belief.  They know the reason why the Orzanians, the current superpower straddling the civilized world like a Colossus sacrifices people.  They're not the only ones who know, of course, but they are the only ones who know the truth.  The Orzane offer sacrifices not only to their Gods, but to Tiamat, the Dragon-Goddess of Chaos.  This is because Tiamat is the world. Lord Marzan, Son of their Chief God Anuman, slew Tiamat in battle long ago, in a battle that ended the First Age, the Age of the Gods and began the Age of Heroes.  Before, Gods and Man lived in splendid harmony, but man's unrighteousness allowed Chaos to enter the world and nearly destroyed it.  Since then, the Gods have been divided into the Lords of Law, who seek to continue the world and await the return of the Lawgiver, and the Princes of Chaos, who seek to destroy what remains of the world and remake it in their own "glorious" image.

For there was a problem.  Shortly after the Second Age began, the Lords of Law realized that Tiamat was not actually dead.  Too powerful to be destroyed by them, her body still lived, albeit in a divided form.  As such, the new creatures the Gods had created to people the Earth were being devoured by Tiamat's body, which sought to repair itself.  But while the Lords searched for a way to permanently slay Tiamat, this information leaked to Unta, the Imp of Suffering.

Unta was faced with a delicious conundrum.  If he did nothing, mortals would continue to die and he could watch it for as long as he wanted.  But if this state of affairs was allowed to continue, Tiamat would eventually be resurrected.  And should that happen, he would be killed, as he betrayed the forces of Chaos and her deceased husband, Prince Quino.  As such, while the Lords debated, Unta slipped out of the Court of Heaven and made his way to Earth.

Once he reached Earth, he took the form of an old man and traveled to one of the largest city in the world where he found the people cowering in their homes and praying feverishly for deliverance which did not come.  He went to the elders of the city and found them huddled in an upper room, shaking with fear.  When he saw them, he rebuked them, excoriating them for their cowardice.  When they grew angry and rose from their seats to strike him, Unta transformed and took on a glorious form, dazzling them with his power.  They immediately were overcome with fear and fell on their faces, believing him to be the salvation they had prayed for.  Unta then told them what to do.  He ordered them to take 100 people from the city and offer them as sacrifices to the Gods, spilling their blood into the Earth. 

The elders protested, but Unta insisted that the disaster that threatened their city would swallow them all up if they did not do this.  He told them it did not matter who died, whether they be Kings or Slaves, as long as they died.  Then Unta spoke a prophecy, "As long as the Earth is watered with blood and the Gods do not die alongside men, then the Dragon-Mother will sleep.  But should the blood fail to flow or her killers perish, she will rise and bring about the Last Day, the Day of Red Sun."

The elders then did as Unta ordered them to do, and to their surprise, Tiamat was quieted around their city.  Unta then traveled to other cities, giving them the same orders.  He only did this several times before the Lords of Law realized what he was doing and sent the Throneguard to retrieve him.  Unta was recaptured and returned to his chains in Heaven, but the damage was done.  Not only was the practice of sacrificing mortals to the Gods spreading by itself across the world, but this act of profane violence awoke the taint left in each mortal who participated or witnessed the event.  All the mortals alive on Earth were actually either those who had been resurrected by the blood of Quino the traitor, or they were the descendents of the same.  And when they saw such an act, it awoke dark instincts with them.  Before they had lived in peace with each other, but gradually as the blood continued to flow, it infected their hearts.  For the first time, men fought and killed each other.  The bond of communion between Man and God had been broken, but now that bond was broken between Men as well.

The Lords of Law longed to punish Unta for his dreadful crime, but they feared that because of his prophecy, should they do so, they might speed or cause the resurrection of the Dragon-Goddess.  So they instead punished him harshly by forcing him to eat the worst, most shameful parts of every sacrifice offered to them until his stomach ruptured.  Then they healed him and had him do it again.  This process continued for 1 year.

by Alex Graham-Heggie

The State of Affairs today:

Mortals continue to offer sacrifices to the Gods and spill the blood of the slain into the Earth.  This, along with their wars, massacres and murders feeds the Dragon-Goddess.  Slowly it heals her.  However, because of Unta's prophecy, it is not enough for men to merely die.  He forced the Lords of Law to protect him, by making the death of a God in a specific circumstance the source of her resurrection.

As such, Chaos Cultists seek not only to provide the Dragon-Goddess with enough blood to heal herself, the greater of their numbers also work to engineer a scenario through which Unta's prophecy will be fulfilled.  They speak of the Day of Red Sun, when Tiamat will be resurrected and the remains of this world will be swept away.  The adherents of Chaos believe this will usher in a Heavenly Age, where the innate goodness of man will return when he is no longer being corrupted by the cruelties of Law.  Those who cling to Law on the other hand believe that the resurrection of Tiamat will lead only to death and destruction on an unimaginable scale, if not the end of the world itself as it dissolves back into the formless void that it emerged out of.

But the Lords of Law have not been sitting idle, waiting for this day to come.  Not only do they fight the Princes of Chaos through their proxies, just as the Princes use their cultists and demons as proxies, but they have also been recruiting.  Whenever a glorious or heroic soul is near death or completes some great deed, the Lords of Law appear before him and give him a choice: live on here in this world and potentially die, or come with me.

Those who come with the Lords are placed in a long sleep and concealed under mountains, in hidden caves guarded by Sphinxes, or sealed in a special Sarcophagi that will preserve and heal them.  They become the Sleepers, those legendary heroes who will return on the Last Day to do battle with Tiamat and the armies of Chaos.  This struggle will determine who rules over the world and whether existence will continue or it will all return to the abyss of Chaos.

artist unknown

The Horns of Valhalla:

The Lords of Law also sought to repay mortals for their generosity and to provide them with some aid, should they need help, as men were deprived of their greatest mortal champions.  So the Gods crafted from the horns of the great beasts of Chaos four horns and imbued them with sacred power.  Should the forces of Law and Justice need aid, they can blow one of these horns and receive aid.                

The horns made from the horn of some great, long dead beast, banded with gold, silver, brass or iron.  The horn is always in pristine condition and the metal bands are molded into scenes of battle and victory.  The horn is a tool of heroes, and refuses to be used for evil or chaotic beings or by them.  When sounded by an evil or chaotic creature, it instead causes that creature to take 2d6 damage and forces all evil or chaotic creatures who can hear the sound of the horn to save or be frightened by the sound.

However, if sounded by a heroic or lawful creature, the Horn will summon a number of Sleepers to aid the Horn-Blower in battle.

Once sounded, the horn cannot be blown for some time, or until Heaven wills it.   

To see the specifics on each horn, consult the table below:

The Sleepers:

- All Sleepers have 1d3+5 HD
- They make all attacks at +4 unless stated otherwise
- They cannot be magically aged and are immune to all save or die effects
- When they take the field, allies of the Horn-Blower receive new saves against any Charm or Fear effects afflicting them and enemies of the Horn-Blower must immediately check morale or flee
 
What Sleepers do you summon?

1d20

1- The Emperor of Shining Glory.  The first Emperor of the Orzane, he is a pig-man with a shaved body and a snow white mohawk, his tusks cut short and capped with white gold encrusted with fire opals.  He can enter a rage that is icy cold and does not prevent him from thinking rationally.  Additionally, while he is raging, he takes half damage from all types of damage.  He is also immune to psychic damage and his mind cannot be read or influenced by psychic effects. 
2- The Demigod Urzai Bullslayer.  A Deerling with fur the color of copper and emerald eyes.  Fast as a charging horse and much stronger than his slim body has any right to be.  He has the ability to dodge anything 1/Day, even a magical effect or something like a fireball.  His red cloak, when revealed, provokes rage in those who see it, compelling them to blindly rush forward to attack and his bright weapons can pierce any mortal-forged armor. 
3- Sulicar, Prince of Djinn.  A human with a swarthy complexion and bearing a pair of magic rings, each one that imprisons a Genie.  He can use these rings to cast any spell he wants as an action, and the spell can use up to 7 MD.  He does not suffer Chaos or Corruption.  He is also incredibly intelligent.
4- Marix Carlo, The Hammer.  The leader of men and the destroyer of the foreign hordes, this Quarrian man has long, dark hair and matching eyes, his blue skin covered in pale tattoos.  He wields a magic hammer that superheats metal armor on contact and rides upon Destrier, Prince of Equines and Son of the King of Horses.  When he is with you, your allies fight like demons and automatically pass all morale checks. 
5- Elia, Bearer of the Word "Burn".  She arrives shining like the sun, riding in a chariot of fire being pulled by a pair of Celestial Centaurs.  Her voice can make objects combust or call down fire from Heaven.
6- Culo Fairskin.  An albino Crocoling, he is a gifted swordsman with icy blue eyes and wears a robe of shimmering grey silk.  He possesses the power to transform into a grotesque simian monster, but his greatest technique is his ability to dance, which creates a rhythm that makes it impossible for his enemies to hit him. 
7- Wilma Silvershot.  The greatest archer who ever lived, she is a Frogling exile who rejected those who cast her out and took the future into her own hands.  She can shoot out the flame of a match without damaging the match and when her son was to be hung for a crime she did not commit, she fired a single arrow that cut the rope he was to be hung with right as he dropped, then managed to kill the executioner and the magistrate who had come to oversee the execution with the same shot.
8- Archon of Nu-Zir.  A metal statue of a warrior that was brought to life by a child's wish and divine intervention, the Archon zealously protected those who dwelled in the necropolis of Nu-Zir, until he misinterpreted the orders his charges gave him and started imprisoning them to keep them safe.  To prevent him from doing this further, the child's father erased the Divine Script on his hand, which is believed to have killed the Archon.  However, an Angel of Law came to the child the next night and told him that the Archon had been taken to Heaven and he would return one day to protect all the world's children.  The Archon is immune to all non-magical weapons and fire heals him.  He imprisons the ghosts of the unjust in the jewels in his gauntlets and can release them to attack people, then pull them back to protect the innocent.
9- Abimelech the Wise.  The greatest Magi who ever lived, he is widely believed to be the one who rediscovered sorcery after the tumultuous close of the First Age and the Deluge.  He was known for his crudity and kindness, as well as for his legacy of teaching mortals how to do magic.  But when he failed to protect his King from a sorcerous witch, he withdrew to live out his life in exile.  However, as he was beloved by the Gods, they did not curse him for his indiscretions and failures and promised him one last chance to fight for redemption.
10- Alhazu [Al-hah-zoo].  The last of the Vulkari (Vulturemen) Emperors, he was the victim of prophecy and foreign invaders, who he welcomed and who took him captive.  When the people grew violent, the invaders asked him to speak to them, that their lives might be spared.  He agreed and walked out of the occupied palace to speak to the people.  When they heard what he had to say though, his rivals declared he was a traitor and whipped up the agitated crowd against him, which threw stones at him, one that split open his beak and nearly killed him.  As a result, the Lords of Law destroyed the Vulkari and blighted them with a horrible plague that broke the last of the Empire's strength.  But Alhazu did not curse his people, but when the invaders fled, the Lords came to him and asked if he would protect them one last time.  He agreed and was sealed inside a sarcophagus of amber that healed him and placed him in a deep sleep, from which he will rise to aid those who deserve his justice.  Alhazu has the ability to pronounce judgement on the guilty and can absorb damage from the wounded, healing them, then transfer it to another by touching them.
11- Vitilo of the Yora.  The Coyoons tell stories about how before they were exiled by the Wolfmen, they lived at the feet of the same, oppressed by their elder brothers.  But one Coyoon rose above his humble origins to become King over not only them, but their elder brothers as well.  This Coyoon, beloved by all, was Vitilo of the Yora, a courageous warrior who brought peace and discord to the lands of the Canifari.  He is the greatest of their Kings, and the Coyoon believes that from his line will arise a savior who will redeem their people and restore their ancestral homeland to them.  Vitilo is said to carry a magic sword that could command the freezing wind and a scabbard that could make his flesh as hard as forged steel.  He also had the ability to frighten people with his gaze so badly that they froze in place like rabbits.
12- Zealous Ripton.  A Loxodon who defied the servants of Chaos when they overtook his city and defiled the Temple, he exhorted the people to remain with their principles and to refuse to kneel before these invaders.  For his crimes he was exiled from the city and imprisoned in a cave, where a Prince of Chaos forced him to watch things from a God's perspective, so Ripton saw his city grow from a village to a great metropolis then crumble and wither away.  But even after seeing civilization rise and fall like the tide, Ripton refused to acknowledge the Chaos God's point.  And at that moment, he realized the stone that imprisoned him had aged as well, so he smashed through them and attacked the God, who he wrestled with.  Terrified for his life at the Loxodon's incredible power, the Prince of Chaos hurled Ripton into the space between worlds.  But through the help of the Lords of Law, Ripton was able to surpass time.  Now he can freely travel to whatever point in time he wishes, and travels through time and space, righting wrongs and fighting evil.  He possesses incredible strength, the ability to teleport and to travel through time.
13- Yin the Boltra.  A Lakazu clad in a mask of gold and robes of perfect black, Yin overthrew the foreigners who oppressed his people and denied them the right to practice their ancient customs, successfully driving the invaders from his homeland and keeping his people safe for ten years, until he was slain via treachery.  Or at least, that's how the story goes.  But legend says that he did not actually die, but instead crawled away and when writing a curse on the floor of his castle in his own blood, an Angel of Law whisked him away where he awaits the opportunity to return and punish those who would abandon his people to Chaos and suffering.  He possesses the ability to unleash psychic blasts which scramble the mind and has the ability to move objects with thought alone.  He can also levitate using this same ability.
14- Leath Cinnafax of Mullberry Grove.  A humble Goatling prostitute, she discovered a pair of foreigners, Froglings who had entered her city as their God had promised them a free land apart from their captors.  She had heard what the Frogling Gods had done to those who challenged their people and was filled with fear, but still had the courage to ask them what they planned to do.  When the Froglings told her that they meant to take the city by force and slay all who resisted, she pleaded for the life of the city, claiming that she could get them to surrender without a fight.  They agreed with her, feeling that the Gods were with this woman.  But when Leath slipped into the chambers of the tyrant of the city to ask for him to surrender the city into the hands of the Free Froglings, he rebuked her and refused.  So she promised him her body if he would.  He pretended to agree, because though she was lowborn and a harlot, she was very beautiful.  But then when the tyrant fell asleep, she assassinated him and forged a document in the tyrant's hand that the gates should be opened.  She then went to the gate before the body could be discovered and showed it to them, claiming reinforcements were coming.  But when the gates were opened, the Free Frogling army rushed the open gate and forced their way inside.  And while some still fought, the city was saved and Leath was proclaimed a hero.  For that, and to protect her from those who thought her a traitor, the Lords of Law took her to Heaven so she could remain fair and virtuous forever.  Leath has the ability to charm people and to enforce non-violence on people through her soft lips.  No one can harm her without passing a saving throw and animals, even wild beasts, refuse to harm or offend her.
15- Ganvi Bloodywine.  A Badgerfolk warrior, he fought for his people and guarded their borders against the raiders from the plains that would have despoiled their lands and carried them away into slavery.  He is said to have been fatally wounded in a battle against Demon Clanlord, but was sealed inside a magical jar by a pair of angels, who concealed him in a cavern of quartz and gold beneath the earth.  There his wounds heal and he enjoys his well-deserved rest.  But should he be needed again, he will emerge from his resting place and take to the field to defend his people once more.  Bloodywine has the ability to create sinkholes and fortifications out of Earth, sculpt stone like it's putty and wields a magic halberd that disintegrates metal on contact.
16- Jasiel, Son of Orimor.  When his people were subjugated, they were forced to offer tribute each year in the form of several human sacrifices, which were given to a monster that their enemies worshiped.  He volunteered to be given over so he could infiltrate the monster's lair and slay it.  However, as mortal weapons were unable to slay it, Jasiel subdued the monster and ate it alive.  This ingestion of the monster's polluted flesh destroyed it, but then the monster attempted to possess and take over his body.  Luckily, he was rescued by the Lords of Law, who tore the Monster's soul away and cast it down to Sheol, then imbued him with it's power.  Jasiel then performed many heroic deeds due to his enhanced physical powers, until finally he was called away by the Gods for one final service.  Jasiel cannot be injured by weapons forged by mortal hands and possesses the strength of a team of oxen.  He fights bare-handed, or with a small tree he tears from the ground.     
17- Azul of Sandcrag, the Glass Castle King.  An Oxman who slew the Dragon threatening his people, then bathed in it's blood.  This gave him the ability to nullify the power of flames, covered him in nigh-unbreakable armor and gave him the gift of prophecy.  Azul used these abilities to bring peace to his fractured homeland, but was ultimately betrayed by envious rivals who thought they killed him.  Fortunately, he was rescued by the Gods, who offered him the chance to guard his people forevermore.  Azul is covered in dragon-scale, can extinguish flames with a gesture and has the ability to peer up to 1 minute into the future.   
18- Nikali the Hunter.  A half-Orc, his other half was human, Nikali was a man who rejected his father, the Slave-King and spent his life traveling around, destroying those who preyed on the weak.  He was a ruthless and efficient slayer, hunting many dangerous beasts.  He had a special hatred for rational creatures that fought against civilization and regarded them as little more than filth.  When he was wrongly accused of murder and hung as an outlaw, he vowed that he would return and judge not only the monsters who he fought, but those who were merely monsters in men's clothing.  Nikali fought with a pair of wands that could produce a gushing blasts of flame.  He also possessed the ability to brand people with magical seals that weakened them and allowed him to track them to the ends of the Earth. 
19- Ovali Jingles.  A Caribusa who hung golden bells on his antlers, he fought against the foreign oppressors who had taken over his country, flouting their rules and humiliating their officials.  When they sent bounty hunters and posses after him to arrest him, he killed them.  When they send armies, he killed them too.  It is not known if he died, he just seemed to disappear one day, as if he took off into the air and never came down.  Ovali was a gifted flier, able to fly extremely well when it was snowing.  He also possessed the ability to manipulate clouds and weather in a local area and was the master of Hale Kai style, which uses a javelin and shortsword simultaenously.
20- Piermont of House Voyin, The Guiding Light.  A Lizarian conquerer and master of medicine, Piermont led his armies across the plains, subjugating the wild peoples there.  He slaughtered all who resisted, but raised up those who submitted, leaving behind schools, hospitals and infrastructure that is still used to this day.  It was he who established contact with the people of the Cold Plains (the Equatorial Lands) and he was the inventer of many things, mostly advanced medical techniques that laid the foundations for what we know today.  After dying peacefully in his bed, he was raised and placed in the armory of Heaven, should they need his military genius again.  Piermont possesses the ability to heal with a touch, can produce clouds of toxic gas and carries a magical mace that can allow him to send telepathic messages to anyone whose blood has touched the head of the mace.

Character Retirement:

Characters can and should be encouraged to retire, especially if you're playing a game that spans over years, decades or some other great length of time. 

One unusual method of retirement is that if a character is sufficiently great and heroic, the Lords of Law may recruit him to become a Sleeper.  This retires the character, who is still alive, but likely will not return until a Horn of Valhalla is sounded or the Last Day.

Besides passing down their material possessions to an Apprentice, should the player character wish to do so, if a player allows their character to become a Sleeper they receive a boon for their next character:

Possible Boons:

- Roll 4d6 for all ability scores, then drop the lowest die
- Replace one ability score of your choice with a 16(+2)
- Start with a magic item of the Referee's choice
- Your character has the gift of prophecy and occasionally has prophetic dreams relating to the future
- Your character begins play with an NPC retainer, a faithful servant, bodyguard or advisor bestowed upon them at birth
- Your character is a child of prophecy and has a grand destiny to fulfill

artist unknown

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

OSR: The Dread Magnificence of Doctor Arcadia

by Lee Bermejo
He was just an ordinary man until a lab accident became the smartest man in the world.  Formerly a minor researcher working for DARPA, the man who would become Dr. Arcadia was accidentally exposed to a strange cocktail of chemicals meant to boost cognitive and biological efficiency in those who took them.  These chemicals then proceeded to combine in his body, creating a positive feedback loop where one enhanced the other, which activated more of the former, until this formerly intelligent man towered above the Sons of Adam, his luminous mind capable of grasping the greatest of conundrums and plucking them apart with ease.

Dr. Arcadia then went on to become one of, if not the most, dangerous supervillains in the world.  His schemes terrorized nations all over the world, and his exploits were extensively recorded in comic books and later on, movies that used special effects and superheroes with powers good for simulating such scenes to replicate what only superhuman eyes had seen before.  Audiences gasped in horror as he explained how he planned to sterilize the population using genetically engineered mosquitos; blot out the sun with his artificial, self-replicating mirror robots; and attempted to replace the President with a robotic duplicate covered in living skin, identical in every way except that he secretly obeyed Dr. Arcadia's every command.

These ghastly schemes were largely real, only slightly fictionalized.  What the official accounts leave out is Dr. Arcadia's impossible manipulations, his webs of deceit and elaborate strategems that entrapped countless people and made them unwilling pawns of a madman.  To this day, long after his death, we are still attempting to piece together what Arcadia's true plans were and how close they were close to fruition.  We may never know for certain, but it is widely believed that if anyone came close to ruling the world, it was him. 

Arcadia's Sanctums:

Arcadia had a habit of disappearing and then reappearing on the opposite side of the world weeks or years later.  This was due to the ingenious tunnel networks and secret entrances he had built into his hideouts, which enabled him to slip out and escape when his enemies closed in.  The other reason he could do this was because he had hundreds of hideouts and hidden sanctums, scattered across the world in hidden locations.  Some were in isolated regions, others were built under cities by construction drones disguised as humans and have perfectly legitimate businesses over them, with the workers inside none the wiser for what lurks beneath their feet.

Occasionally, a group of normal people, such as construction workers installing plumbing or repairing a sewer tunnel will stumble upon one of these hidden sanctums.  Most of the people who do so end up dying, either because of the defenses built into the sanctum or the defenders left behind to ensure that no unauthorized persons enter.  On other occasions, people are able to enter these locations and that is an even worse situation, because that means that Arcadian technology can escape and potentially make its way onto the black or grey market where it almost always causes the authorities an immense amount of grief.

What bars access to this Sanctum?

1d6

1- The door is built like the vault door attached to a bank and plasma bars are built into it's face.  The door can be opened by a retinal scan or by entering the appropriate 16 digit code.  Scanning an inappropriate retina or entering the wrong code triggers the plasma bars, which fire, doing 3d6 fire damage, save for half, to anyone in front of the door.
2- The door is concealed, but there is an unrelated hand-print scanner next to one of the doors.  Forcing the door next to it leads to a metal box full of anti-personnel mines, which will explode and do 5d6 damage to anyone inside that room, or 3d6 outside.  Only scanning a proper hand-print will open the secret door which is concealed under the floor. 
3- The sanctum is hidden in the middle of the African wilderness and surrounded by a lot of wildlife.  Secretly, most of the animals around here have been chipped and if you come here without giving off the proper pheromone cues, they will attack and maul you to death.  Those with the proper pheromone cues will be lead by the hyenas to the secret gave, where a finger prick from a robot will confirm your identity and admit you inside. 
4- The sanctum is concealed in the sub-basement of an office building, and sensors are built into the floor to monitor the movement patterns of every person who walks across them.  Should someone matching any appropriate patterns be detected, the security guards will give them a key card that will allow them to access the sub-basement.  Those who do not will not be admitted. The security guards have been hypnotized to do this, they won't remember giving over such a security card, or that it even exists.  The sub-basement does not exist on any diagram or blueprint.
5- An extremely wealthy family, new money who rose within the last generation made their money thanks to the aid of Arcadia.  As such, they allowed him to operate out of one of their villas, along with providing themselves with an extensive series of denials and potential excuses so they have no reason to ever go there and see what he is doing.  Additionally, ill-gotten or not, they have enough money to fend off any government investigation or official complaint. 
6- An isolated tribe that is believed to be uncontacted which was visited by Arcadia many decades ago.  He healed their sick, immunized them from modern diseases and gave them "magic items" that if they use on the women in childbirth, they produce babies which grow to be six four and have the strength of bulls.  As such, this tribe protects the house they built for him and the shining door within and refuses to let anyone enter the house, much less look at it.  They believe Arcadia was a reincarnation of the spirit that created and protects their tribe, and so will do anything to defend this legacy. 

Despite the immense danger they pose to those who attempt to enter them, Arcadia's many hidden bases represent not only an opportunity for immense personal profit, but also a chance for his followers to carry out his vision.  For Arcadia knew there would be those who would stand against him, so he prepared the way.  The sanctums are intended to be caches and safe-houses for his disciples, who can carry on their master's work after his passing. 

To create these disciples, Arcadia not only made many speeches and videos which are almost continuously uploaded to the Internet and taken down just as fast, he also wrote two books: Triumph of Man and The World According to Arcadia.  Triumph is half autobiography half persuasion, the story of Dr. Arcadia and why he came to hold the beliefs that he does.  In it he evangelizes for his favorite cause, the salvation of humanity.  Only through a rejection of the myths and lies of the current age can mankind be saved, he argues quite persuasively.  Arcadia was a historicist or perhaps a Hegelian of sorts, arguing that not only is progress inevitable, but that it is the the duty of moral people to accelerate the evolutionary progress of mankind, to drag us up from the mud into the coming Golden Age.  Arcadia considers himself and his disciples as the avant garde of that struggle, those laboring to shed the detritus of the society to bring about Heaven on Earth.  This book is banned in 107 countries and suppressed in all others, but is still easily obtainable, provided you know how.  His followers regard it as Gospel, treating it with the same reverence Muslims treat the Quran or Catholics the words of Christ.

The second book, World, is a book of principles to follow and advice.  It is half Book of Proverbs, half Art of War with a sprinkling of common sense advice and persuasion techniques added to enhance the mixture.  It is intended to be a guide for the disciples who follow Arcadia, to teach them when he cannot.  It is an extremely useful book, widely read not only by most of Arcadia's more cerebral followers but also by CEOs, politicians and other movers and shakers.

from Invincible

The Servants of Arcadia:

In many cases, Arcadia's sanctums were/are defended by his hunter-killer robots or by human lieutenants.  But Arcadia often found such servants ineffective or unsuited for his goals.  As such, he genetically engineered a tribe of servants, a series of clone-races that would serve and obey him.

Arcadian Maidens:

A race of beautiful, auburn haired women with blue eyes and fine features, the Maidens are believed to be created from the DNA of one of Arcadia's mortal lovers.  Some insist that Arcadia had no mortal lovers and regarded all humans as little more than pets, but he evidentally felt something for this woman.  Her clones are mostly uniform, differentiating themselves with nicknames, different stylistic choices and occasionally, scars, piercings or tattoos.  The Maidens, when left to themselves, organize into a bizarre and mostly nonsensical hierarchy with those who most resemble what that group decides the original looked like at the top, with those who look less like her closer to the bottom based on decreasing similarity in appearance. 

Maidens have bio-organic machinery built into their bodies and if you have the proper equipment and access, you can control them like puppets.  You can physically move them like game pieces with the right knowledge and technology, or you can trigger the release of hormones in their bodies to change their behavior.  Maidens can also be sent into a heat state where they become animalistic and will engage in sexual intercourse with almost anyone and strangely enough, they seem to be on some form of self-produced birth control that prevents them from getting pregnant. 

Some have used these facts to theorize that Dr. Arcadia created these maidens to make his own perfectly obedient harem, which is likely true, at least in some respects.  Some who have broken into his sanctums and found Maidens like this have taken control of and enslaved them, using them as prostitutes and tools to make money.  For while the Maidens do have a semi-distinct look, it is not one that most people have seen.  As such, if you encounter a Maiden out in the wild, you are unlikely to know she is one unless you have seen one before or know what to look for. 

Additionally, one other fact might shed more light on the ultimate purpose of the Maidens.  They cannot get pregnant, except in specific circumstances.  When they engage in sexual intercourse with a man of certain pre-selected qualities, they can and do get pregnant, and usually produce large numbers of children, the average number being triplets, which are usually all identical.  The Maidens usually do not know this, but find themselves subconsciously seeking out such men and evaluating them based on pheremone and visual cues.  Example qualities they look for is a certain natural ability to produce large muscles, lack of chronic diseases, a certain level of intelligence and other more esoteric qualities.  It is possible that Arcadia planned to use the Maidens to either produce an army, or engage in a soft form of eugenics to breed the superior man.

Statblock:

Arcadian Maidens, unless they have other training, stat as 1 HD Commoners with the following changes:

Remote Control: Those who know how can use Arcadian technology to control the Maidens like puppets, making them move and speak what the controller wants.  He can also control the hormones in the Maidens, influencing mood and behavior.

artist unknown

Arcadian Soldiers:

Unlike the Maidens, they are not all the same.  Some are dusky or dark-skinned, while others are pale as cream or covered in carpets of freckles.  Arcadian Soldiers are made from a genetic slurry created by combining the DNA strands of the greatest mortal warriors that Dr. Arcadia encountered while he was alive.  These precious friends, servants and enemies now have clone progeny spread across the world, fighting to carry on the legacy of the Doctor. 

Arcadian Soldiers are modified genetically and in the embryonic stage to be the greatest mortal warriors on the planet.  They are modified to produce much more muscle than normal, their bones are hardened and their fight-or-flight response is modified so that instead of freezing or feeling fear, Arcadian Soldiers just get more dangerous when they are scared. 

Then once they are born, they are given a hypnotic and subliminal education which instills in them all the knowledge they will need for their role as warrior and protector.  This indoctrination helps to protect them against propaganda from the outside, but also from mind control and other techniques or technology that would influence their thought process. 

Arcadian Soldiers who are let loose in the sanctums or in other places spend all their time training for battle, convinced by their indoctrination that they are about to enter a glorious and righteous war against the forces of evil.  In other cases, the Soldiers might be in cold sleep and only roused by the sanctum's automatic defenses.  As such, they might have never actually fought anyone and find themselves carrying out their orders without a clear understanding of why, or even what is going on.  They sleep-walk through these battles, loading guns with practiced ease, despite the fact that they have never touched such objects before today, or automatically using squad-based tactics which have been drilled into them on a subconscious level.  Only when the killing begins and their clone-brothers begin dying does the battle become real.

Arcadian Soldiers who are "fresh from the cooler" tend to be much easier to defeat, on account of the fact that they are predictable in their actions and counters can be prepared to defeat the likely strategies they will employ.  More experienced Arcadian Soldiers do not have this weakness.

Statblock:

Arcadian Soldier
HD 1d3 (exploding)
AR 2 [Light Body Armor]
Atk Automatic Rifle (1d8+1, save vs firearm) or Combat Knife (1d6, throwable)
Mor 14
Saves (7+HD) or less

Resistance to Control: Because of the hypno-indoctrination they have endured, Arcadian Soldiers have advantage on all saves to resist mind control or other mind-influencing effects such as Charm or Fear effects.  The one exception is the Son's 'Aura of Majesty', which the Soldiers have disadvantage against. 

Battle-Rage: If an Arcadian Soldier does become frightened, he can save.  On a failed save he flies into a berserk rage and attacks the nearest identifiable "enemy" and rips it apart with his bare hands, or whatever weapon he has on hand.  While raging, Arcadian Soldiers do +2 melee damage and enemies have advantage on saves  against their firearm attacks.  Additionally, damage taken by Arcadian Soldiers doesn't arrive until next round, so even if killed, unless disintegrated or blown to bits or injured in some way that prevents them from moving they can still do a lot of damage before expiring.  Some Arcadian Soldiers (1-in-10) can trigger this state on purpose.    

Tactics:
- Gang up on weak enemies, grapple and have allies make melee attacks against restrained foe
- Throw in grenade, take the door and spray the room with bullets
- Retreat if in danger
- If a Son is in danger, fight like fanatics to free him

from Countdown #9

Sons of Arcadia:

The Sons of Arcadia are clones of the Doctor, intended to perpetuate his schemes after his passing.  Each one is unique to an extent- though all come from the same stock.  They are not as intelligent as the original, but are still ferocious and brilliant like he is.  Some of the older ones knew their "Father" personally and were hand-raised by him, while others have to do with holographic lectures and their hypnotic programming. 

The Sons are Arcadia's intended heirs, the ones meant to inherit his weapons and use them to continue The Plan, which Arcadia insisted must be finished at all cost.  However, despite all their brilliance, most Sons of Arcadia fall for one particular vice- envy.  They resent each other, for they are not all the same.  Some are taller, smarter or stronger than their brothers. Some inherited more servants or technology, while some began with nothing.  As such, the Sons tend to dislike each other, and when they are not plotting some diabolical scheme they are playing elaborate games of subterfuge against each other, each seeking to prove to the others that they are the superior one, or in other cases, to slay the others and steal their resources. 

Almost all of the Sons believe that they are the superior one and that all others are inferior doppelgangers of the doctor.  They resent any accusation otherwise. 

Statblock:

Son of Arcadia
HD 1d6 (exploding)
AR 1d4+1 [Costume]
Atk [See below]
Mor 11
Saves (7+HD) or less  

Aura of Majesty: Sons of Arcadia exude an aura of charisma that borders on the tangible.  Any creature who sees one or hears one of their voices must save.  On a failed save, such creatures are unable to attack the Son nor take hostile actions against him, unless he attacks first.  Additionally, should they enter combat with him, they take 1d6 COG damage a round they are in combat with him, unless he is unconscious, dead or behaving in a cowardly manner (Referee's Discretion).  Should this COG damage reduce a creature's COG to 0, it immediately flees or hides. COG comes back at a rate of 1 point per hour, once the affected creature can no longer see the Son of Arcadia.      

Tactics:
- Always have a plan
- Never start a fight you can't win
- Let others take the risks
- Be smarter than anyone else

To customize a Son of Arcadia, roll on the tables below:

If the Son has...
1-3 HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack (1d6+1) or 1 Melee weapon attack (1d6).
4-6 HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack or 2 Melee weapon attacks (1d8+1/1d8+1).
7+ HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack or 3 Melee weapon attacks (1d10+2/1d10+2).

Sons of Arcadia also have 1d4 of the following abilities:

1d8

1- Telekinesis.  The Son has Tier 1 Telekinesis (as per this post).  If he has other powers, he can instead sacrifice them to increase his ranks in Telekinesis.
2- Invulnerability.  The Son has a Damage Threshold of 2d4.  Any attack that does less damage than that Threshold is ignored as if it did no damage.  If the Threshold is equaled or exceeded, he loses 1 SHP.  He has X SHP, equal to his Damage Threshold. 
3- Heat Vision.  The Son can, every 1d3 rounds, fire a pair of lasers from his eyes.  These lasers do 2d6 fire damage, save for half, and can ignite flammable objects and cut through non-reinforced metal.
4- Fire Breath.  The Son can, every 1d4 rounds, breath a 3d6 blast of fire in a 15' cone, save for half. 
5- Regeneration.  The Son heals 1d4 HP each round he is below max HP.  If he is dropped below 0 HP, he sustains Horrible Wounds like a player-character.
6- Invisibility.  The Son can turn invisible as an action.  He turns visible when he does something strenuous such as running, attacking or lifting something heavy. 
7- Superhuman Speed.  The Son adds +X (roll 1d4 to determine X) to any roll based on evasion, speed or agility, this includes saves vs firearms.
8- Psychic Powers.  The Son can 1d6 [1= Read Minds and has Telepathy; 2= Can see the future; 3= See Ghosts; 4= See people's auras and always determine their health/power level; 5= Dream-Walk, entering the dreams of sleeping people; 6= Empath: can sense people's emotions.]

Despite the variety in his clone-servants, one thing they all share in common is a level of Arcadian brain-washing.  All of them were hypnotized with subconscious dictates and indoctrinated into obeying Arcadia and his servants, as well as holding him in near-divine reverence.  They see him every night in their dreams, where he tells them of his plans.  He tells them the problems with the world, beginning with human fraility and weakness, ie sin.  He then argues that only through drastic and serious reform, his byword for revolutionary action and terror, can mankind be saved. 

He then describes the clones he is addressing as the tools and agents of that revolution.  He calls them saviors, redeemers, deliverers.  He praises them, calling them his chosen ones, those who will save the world.  Then, dramatically changing the subject, he describes the punishments for those who abandon the cause.  Not only will they be responsible for propagating human suffering, they will be accursed by all their fellows and by him, their God.  Then he describes the way their genomes will unravel and the litany of horrible diseases and curses that will come down upon them.  He will glower down at them and declare that no matter where they go or who they say they are, they are his, and he will never let them go. 

Even the most loyal of them sometimes wake up screaming.  

from Treasure Planet

The Doctor's Unimaginable Wealth:

Arcadia gathered plenty of loot in his decades long crime spree, but the most valuable thing he ever produced was the miraculous technologies he created.  These wonders fill his sanctums and even the smallest trinket can sell for a handsome sum, so it is no wonder that people risk their lives to try and enter Arcadia's sanctum.  Arcadia's technologies cannot be replicated by modern technology, even the smartest superhumans only vaguely grasp the principles of most of the devices he built.  It will be decades, if not centuries before the governments and scientists of the world understand Arcadia's technology fully.  Until then, it is kept in highly secure vaults away from those who would misuse it. 

And foremost among the Arcadian technology that the Powers that Be are interested in keeping out of people's hands are the many horrible weapons Arcadia created.  Some of these weapons are basic, others incomprehensible, but all are incredibly dangerous.  Those who wield such devices invariably become forces to be reckoned with.  It is only the device that determines whether they become the strongest man on their block or the strongest man in their nation. 

Arcadian Weapons:

1d6

1- Selenium-Sword.  A blade that is acts as an ordinary sword, until it touches any other metal.  Then it causes the metal it touches to instantly superheat.  By tracing a line across a metal wall, the user of this sword can cut out a section of it.  Do not be wearing metal armor when attacked with this sword, you will regret it for the rest of your life, which will be about 2 minutes.
2- Teardrop Grenade Launcher.  A device that can create explosives out of organic material, including human body parts, and fire these slugs like an ordinary grenade launcher.  These grenades do 2d6 blunt/explosive damage, save for half.  If the flesh of a superhuman or a creature with some degree of invulnerability is used, the damage is boosted to 3d6.  The device can create 1 explosive round in 10 minutes in an emergency, but when functioning normally produces 1d6+2 explosive rounds every 12 hours, assuming it is continuously being fed material.
3- HARP Gun.  Fires a cloud of electrified metal shards that move in a guided cloud.  Does 3d6 damage on a hit, save for half, and the cloud can be guided to hit up to 1d4 other targets before all it's energy is expended and it can be fired again.  Each one can only be fired 1d4+1 times.
4- Assassin Wasps.  Containers of genetically engineered wasps that respond to the frequencies produced by the attached control device.  The user can control the wasps, which inject a venom that induces allergic reactions in 50% of people and is merely extremely painful in all others.  The wasps also spray acid that can blind people and are trained to attack the eyes.  Each colony of wasp also responds to a different frequency, so a creature with one control device cannot necessarily control all frequencies. 
5- Piezer.  A gun that fires crystalline rounds that can ricochet off walls and splitter into clouds of tiny, razor shards that pierce the skin and are extremely difficult to remove as compared to a bullet.  Can fire a variety of rounds 1d4 [1= Electrified- non-lethal conductive crystals charged with energy.  Functions as a high-powered taser but more effective; 2= Poison- rounds are made of a toxic substance frozen or compressed into crystalline form; 3= Infectious- crystals are loaded with nano-particles that when exposed to a certain radio frequencies rupture, dumping a viral payload into the creature they are embedded in; 4= Halluciogenic- rounds made of crystals slathered in LSD.  Hallucinations from this last for 1d8 hours.]
6- HEHK Drone Swarm.  A swarm of tiny drones, each no bigger than the pit of a plum, each one carrying a high explosive charge.  The drones can be set to follow specific instructions or be remote controlled.  Each one is a tiny suicide bomber and when it explodes, does 1d6 blunt/explosive damage.  That isn't that dangerous, which is why they travel in packs of 1d10+6.  Each drone swarm can do serious damage to any group set against it.  Some drone swarms also have differing payloads, such as incendiary loads for drones meant for anti-structure or fortification purposes, while others are loaded with gas bombs for anti-personnel or terror purposes.

Arcadia's Treasures:

1d6  
    
1- The Holy Grail.  A strange device that resembles a melted goblet made of stained glass.  If a human puts his hand into it, it injects him with nanobots that give him the ability to heal extremely fast.  Users of the Grail heal 1 HP a round or 1d6 HP a minute.  Those under the effects of the Grail can heal from any injury, but cannot regenerate lost body parts.  They also become ageless, their bodies not aging any further.  Finally, they receive resistance to poison damage and gain advantage on any checks against conventional diseases.  The only way to kill someone who has used the Grail is to decapitate them or chop them into pieces. 
2- Daybreaker.  An anti-matter bomb ten times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba, with a blast so powerful that should it be dropped on Manhattan Island, the shockwave would be felt as far away as Dallas.  An undescribably powerful weapon. 
3- The Red Angel.  A suit of power armor that grants the user a Damage Threshold of 10, a Strength score of 20(+5) and the ability to fly.  It also has cannons built into the suit that can fire anti-armor, anti-personnel, incendiary or other miniature shells.  A burst of cannon fire does 1d12+3 damage.  The Angel can also carry up to 4 air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles, each of which do 6d6 damage, save for half, and the former type of missile does double damage to structures.  However, the suit sucks energy and can only be powered by special Arcadian power cells that allow for one use, then are expended. 
4- The Secret Formula.  A mixture of chemicals and other more esoteric ingredients that if mixed into food or made into a potion allows the user to commune with any of their alternate selves in the various worlds of the multiverse.  Or at least, this is what it seems to do.
5- The Golden Barge.  A fully functional space ship that is capable of reaching escape velocity.  Is actually a shuttle attached to a much larger space craft that Arcadia built using robots smuggled aboard routine shuttle visits to the ISS and privately funded space flight ventures, funded by various wealthy families and corporations who knowingly or not had a connection to Arcadia.
6- The Spider.  A computer program that can predict the future.  If you have the proper credentials to access the secure website where it is stored, you can access the Spider a question 1/Day.  The program will then spit out an answer to the question within 1d20 hours.  The Spider is not omniscient nor is it always reliable, but it is much more accurate than it has any right to be.  The Spider will give you concise answers, but they're not always correct, especially when it comes to predicting the actions of humans.  For example, if you ask it about whether a certain government is likely to declare war, the Spider can analyze economic, historic and political trends, as well as the geography of the nations involved, and so it has an 80% of being accurate.  If you ask it about a group of people, there is less data, but it will still be able to produce an answer that has a 50% of being accurate.  And if you ask it about a single person, it only has a 25% of being accurate.  Additionally, the Spider is forbidden to accurately answer questions that could harm Dr. Arcadia, his Plan or his servants.  As such, it will give wrong answers for questions relating to that.

Plot Hooks:

1d6

1- A series of mysterious terrorist attacks strike a city.  After a bit of investigation, it is revealed to be caused by a pack of Arcadian Hunter-Killer robots, who are attacking anyone in a certain range.  A team is needed to find the source of these robots and find a way to shut them down, before they do more damage.
2- A contact of the party tells them that he believes he has discovered an undiscovered Arcadian sanctum and needs your help to raid it.  If you can, he claims that the government will pay top dollar for the technology, mostly to prevent anyone else from getting it.
3- A plague breaks out and suddenly spills across a region, infecting and harming all who cannot resist it.  You are informed that the Powers that Be think that this disease is not natural, but is instead an Arcadian bio-weapon released as a means of protecting something.  You are then hired to find out how the disease got loose and to see if there is any cure for it. 
4- As above, but the bio-weapon wasn't released by automatic defenses, but by a group of Arcadian sympathizers who are using the disease to carry out one of Arcadia's plans. 
5- A horrible disaster or accident occurs and it is seems to have been deliberately caused.  A new villain that no one has heard of then suddenly appears and takes credit for it, then demands a hefty ransom or he trigger an even worse catastrophe.  The party is ordered or hired to catch this man and stop him before he can do any more damage, but as they investigate they find this new villain's identity seems rather flimsy.  Is he who he says he is, or just a pawn in a much bigger game?
6- An unscrupulous and very wealthy man contacts you with a request.  He has heard that Arcadia developed the ability to clone humans without genetic degredation and he wants the secret.  He hires you to find and obtain an Arcadian Clone-Engine for him.  Money is no object, he assures you.


both from Countdown #8