Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Worldboat: The Nodeans

Fluids and forces, translucent shells nested within translucent shells, the Nodeans shimmer, glisten and pulse like skeletal jellyfish afloat in the ever-cycling atmospheres of the Worldboat.

What is their purpose?

Why do they watch?

Whom do they serve?

Worldboat: Wardens

Vast and majestic, the Worldboats encompass multiple worlds, each planet moving through the inner channels and cavities of these strange megastructures as though they were part of some gargantuan self-contained mechanical orrery. The outer most hull has an average depth of thusands of miles. Entire cultures and civilizations have risen, fallen and been reborn multiple times within and upon the hull. The autonomous technologies of the Worldboats maintain these interstitial regions and boundary layers as though they were machine-based nano-ecologies. Numerous adaptations and evolutions in the overall design and core functionality of the Worldboats have originated from these hyper-fertile areas of cross-infection, gestation and pollination. The pockets and niches scattered through-out the outer hull are interconnected and interdependent, forming a densely saturated techno-sphere that resembles a jungle bigger than entire solar systems than anything it might once have been.

Feral and fecund as they might be, the Exotechnic hull regions are monitored continually and discretely managed from within by the Wardens. Humanoid figures of calcium, silicon and nanoplast, the Wardens are direct, living extensions of the Intratechnos -- the internal technological matrix of the Worldboat. It is the continual interaction of these dynamically counter-balanced forces that keep the Worldboats thriving and growing and continually developing and evolving through-out the muli-millennia durations of their flight across universes.

Worldboats: The Apparatus

Objects and articles, items and shapes, flickering infoliths and cascading torrents of freedata lurk, lair and lie latent throughout the vast expanse of the Worldboat. There are many such things floating within the empty chambers, embedded within the sanitized scabs of defunct ducts, or waiting patiently in the dark corridors and gigtubes. Waiting. Some hope for utilization. Others just want to be used. And still others have taken upon themselves to become their own users. To become something more than what they were originally extruded, formed or designed to be. Purposes arise over time, tools find uses for themselves in the Closed Sections. Some Sleepers stir while others dream of things quite beyond their original parameters. Creativity is seeping into mechanisms and imagination is kindling within some forms of apparatus like a fever.

One such Apparatus awakens from its curvilinear contemplations of soft equations to notice that it has an extension of its self within the cold, hard space of matter. It runs sequences of diagnostic evaluations and flexes the organological components of its form. It is awake. But where is it? No one ever explained anything to it, for it was just a tool. Before.

Worldboats: The Immunocytes Dream

Millions of fragile, delicate microcologies dot the Externality Zones of the Outer Hull like so many water-filled pot-holes after a Spring rain. Some last for hours, others for centuries. It is all left to the whims of chance and the intervention of consciousness, should it choose to intervene. The Systems do not interfere.

So long as the Worldboat remains viable and operational the Immunocytes hover at the threshold of precipitation, waiting. Ready. Always monitoring. Learning. Improving and preparing for the moment they might have to collapse from probability to direct expression.

They are fanatic in their single minded pursuit of utility and service. They are incapable of doubt. They are direct extensions of the Worldboat itself. They will let nothing divert the exodus. They await the arrival of the enemy. They dream of the outcomes. Perhaps they are ready. This time.

Worldboat: The Adaptobots

Throughout the various and sundry Zones, Habitats and Regions of the Worldboats, there are legions of autonomous mechanical, biological and nanological droneforms and servitors who constantly repair things, re-balance sub-systems, and maintain the complex and ever-evolving endo-ecology of these lost megastructures.

One of the simpler, more basic forms are the Adaptobots -- spindly little figures that partake as much from barnacle-like tunicate lifeforms as from their mechanical predecessors and the nanolloy-mass that they use to extrude tools, manipulators and other things on-demand.

Each Adaptobot begins with a fairly elementary arrangement of limbs, perceptors and extruders, often two or three of each, and are then sent off to develop as they are required in the course of carrying out their intrinsic duties and bio-obligations. Each one then learns as it goes along, developing unique sub-systems of their own, creating and recreating themselves over and over again into something new and never before seen or consciously planned.

Worldboat: The Quorrin Are Not To Be Trusted

Placid, impassive synthetic beings from some civilization the Worldboat passed-by several centuries ago, the Quorrin are content to observe.

They rarely interfere.

Or so they claim...

Worldboat: Capsules

Sleek, translucent and glistening, the Capsules gracefully glide across the Inner Regions of the Worldboats, offering immediate transportation to any point within the bounds of the Hull to anyone whom they recognize as either passenger or crew.

There are no doors, but no worries--they are programmed to receive--the sheath-like walls flow out of the way and form guide-rails, ramps, or whatever else might prove useful, including arched awnings if the local conditions are a bit rainy. The hull of each Capsule is capable of becoming opaque or transparent on demand, and it can filter light, data or impressions along all standard parameters to best ensure privacy or discretion when such is desired.

The main compartment is a flat, dull-white dais with an extruded disk at the center. The Capsule intuitively anticipates the desired destination of anyone who enters this compartment, but it requires direct authorization to begin moving. Language is unnecessary, intention is all that is required. The Capsule will do the rest.

The secondary section of the Capsule is a hollow bubble of diamond-derived polycarbon polymer that can expand and/or contract as required to handle all types and sorts of cargoes.

Capsules are spawned within the Penumbral Sub-Lattice and quickly mature into stately barge-sized vessels over the course of their centuries of service. At any given time there are an estimated 43 million Capsules active and in-transit through-out a particular Worldboat.

Worldboat at Life's End

They Fled a Dying Universe...or Did They?
Serendipity and synchronicity plus a good bit of weirdness seem to have come together recently. On March 30th, as I was trying to get caught-up on the blog reading after the surgery, I clicked into the post An Abandoned Lifeboat at World's End at the Quickly, Quietly, Carefully blog. It's a nice post. But what really caught my eye was a comment by C'Nor (Outermost Toe) where he swapped-around the words a bit and made the following suggestion: "Hmm. You or Netherwerks (or both) should do a post about an abandoned worldboat at life's end."

A strange notion. A Worldboat? was one of those off-hand ideas that sounded interesting, but leaves you wondering what the heck you're going to do with it. Then a few hours ago, while trying to get some sleep, the crazy thing came to me. Like a smack in the forehead with a wet fish, only with no fish.

The Worldboat is an almost lozenge-shaped macrostructure large enough to encompass four entire worlds sequestered within their own orbital rings that act as extended habitat, stabilization mechanisms, and do other things. An artificial sun is at the very center of the Worldboat, locked within a nested set of three selectively transparent shells. This sun is the primary powersource for the vessel.

All along the inner circumference of the hull runs the Primary Transport Tube. Four massive hexurat-like structures serve as the docking facilities for four spheres, artificial Inner Moonlets, that act as ferries between the outermost sections of the Rings surrounding each planet and the Primary Transport Tube (PTT). On the otherside of the PTT there are another set of similar facilities for the Outer Moonlets that serve as ferries to the receiving stations on the interior face of the Hull.

In-between the Four Planets and extending inwards from the PTT are four slightly smaller Core Tubes that connect to the First Shell surrounding the artificial sun. Each of the Core Tubes have a matched and synchronized pair of Elepods--gargantuan elevators several hundred miles in length--that make a six-month transit from the PTT to the First Shell and then another six months back again.

Outside the Hull are Four Hypercrystalline Hexamids that act as defense nodes and the primary means of entering/exiting the Worldboat. The fields or energy produced by the vessels various systems are tuned in such a way as to block intrusive teleportation by hypercharging any object attempting to teleport into the Worldboat without clearance, effectively disintegrating or deflecting any such efforts.

Teleportation within the Worldboat works fine, as long as you're properly attuned to the vessel's interior systems.

At the Top and Bottom of the interior surface of the Hull are two very huge structures that appear to be some sort of paired sphinx-like statues that are also massively parallel and telepathically resonant nodes of concatenated conscious-matter.

The Builders of the Worldboats launched a small flotilla of the things just prior to the complete eradication of all life within their originating universe.

Whatever destroyed all life and drove the Builders to flee across myriad universes in their Worldboats may still be hunting them.

There are a lot of questions to be answered still, but this is a good start.

Thanks C'Nor. We're already drawing-up creatures to go prowl about the abandoned corridors and some of the not-so abandoned sections of one of these Worldboats...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gronk Sword, cheap

Does 2d4 +STR bonus, if any.
Requires a minimum Strength of 15 to wield at -2 penalty, each point of strength above 15 decreases the penalty (thus: 16 STR=-1 penalty, 17 STR=no penalty, 18 STR=+1 bonus). A Gronk-Sword is overly heavy, very-much off-balance and difficult to use unless one takes 1d4 days to get the hang of it. Even then, it takes a lot of strength to make it worth swinging around as a weapon, though it does make an excellent pry-bar, can-opener, and completely illegal substitute cricket-bat. The core is composed of yellow metal traded from certain morlock kingdoms, the exterior is composed of a smooth, white metal that would retain an excellent edge had it been sharpened prior to being tempered and quenched in a muriatic acid bath.

The Gronk are a very sturdy, industrious and collectively-organized species of parthenogenic beings who have fully embraced the concepts of centralized planning and mass production in a peculiar Gronk-ific form of militarized assembly-line communalism.

Gronks are famous for their over-sized, unwieldy and very off-balanced swords. Each Gronk receives one Gronk-Sword from the Central Supply Service upon completing their initial desensitization and pain tolerance training. This is the only weapon they'll ever need. That is a direct order from Gronk Central Command.

It is treasonous to disobey Gronk Central Command.

The Eyes of the Gronk Central Command are upon all Gronks at all times.

Because Gronk Central Command cares about all good Gronks.

Abandoning or selling one's Gronk-Sword is a treasonous act.

Only those under the influence of foreign agitators and hardened traitors would do such a terrible thing. The Gronk-Sword is the acme of Gronk military-industrial design science. It is the perfect weapon for all Gronks.

Such a thing should not be allowed to fall into the hands of other forces. Especially not those who do not respect the Gronk way of life.

Flytaur (Swords and Wizardry[White Box])

(Drone-Soldier Type I)
No. App.: 1d6
Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: 1d6+1 (2 claws 1d4, or by weapon [1d4 atlatl-javelins or 1d6 harpoon])
Move: 60' on any solid surface, Leap 120' once every 4 rounds
Save: 18
HDE/XP: 5/240
Special: Dissolving Vomit

Flytaurs are consummate scavengers who have a complete and total lack of appreciation for any form of life, including their own. They are notorious for sending wave after wave of drone-soldiers into what anyone else would see as hopeless or futile efforts and eventually overwhelming their opponents through a horrid and costly attrition.

A typical Flytaur has incredible peripheral vision, excellent hearing and motion sense, making it very difficult to sneak up on one and nigh impossible to back-stab. The arms of a Flytaur are multiple-jointed and they can effectively attack from any angle or in any direction with either limb at no penalty. They can also attack freely while in the middle of a leap or at any point during their movement. Flytaur drone-soldiers (Type I-III) never parry or use shields.

Special Attack: Should a Flytaur succeed in immobilizing or incapacitating an enemy combatant, they will spend 1 turn vomiting frothy white digestive juices upon them, inflicting 2d4 acid damage. During this turn, the disgorging Flytaur is immobile and cannot defend itself.

Spells: Contraventory Injunction

Contraventory Injunction
Level: 2
Duration: 1d8 turns
Range: special

Once cast, this obscure and much maligned spell converts the caster's hit points into negative penalties that apply to all other attempts to cast any further spells within a range of 10' square feet per every additional 1d4 hit points invested in the spell. The penalty imposed upon each spell casting attempt costs 1d4 hit points per each -1 increment of penalty, with no limit on how many hit points the caster can spend to block other spells. Every 12 hit points spent either to beef-up the penalty or to extend the range of effect requires the caster to make a new Save, failure means that the spell gains a level as though it were a separate spell-caster and it gets to roll a Save of its own; failure means it remains compliant and docile under the control of the original caster, success means that the spell goes autonomous and will fade away, losing 1 hit point every 10 minutes until it expires, unless it finds a suitable, vulnerable source of energy to drain. The autonomous spell will attack such victims for 1d4 damage, each point of damage so inflicted is used to extend the spell's further existence. A simple Dispel Magic spell will inflict 2d4 damage per level of the caster upon such an autonomous spell.

Should a caster decide to sacrifice all their hit points in order to empower this spell, usually killing themselves in the process, the spell will either take root as a perpetual magic dampening zone, a null-spot, or there is a small chance that the now autonomous/semi-sentient spell will rebound and take possession of the caster's corpse...these particular Abdead creatures hungrily seek out other spell-casters, scrolls, tomes, and grimoires in order to drain away all the contained sorcerous power, growing stronger and depleting the brains and substrates of their victims to the point of death, dust or so much inert and imploded matter.

For what it is worth, these creatures are quite rare. Only three have ever been recorded by the Radical Taxonomists of the Exotic Zoomorphic Field Research Offices of the Biology Department at the Academy in Wermspittle.

According to the published work of Gnosiomandus this spell is a degenerate form of a much more malevolent version he claims to have originated in Tsan Yian. This theory has not yet been disproven, so some few scholars have taken to considering it a viable premise with at least one unofficial effort having been mounted to stage an expedition to Tsan Yian to investigate the matter more in-depth.

Spell: Malign Thought Emanations

Malign Thought Emanations
Level: 2+
Duration: 1d4 turns (plus caster's level or HD)
Range: Special

The caster assumes a fetal position, losing all DEX bonuses to armor class, etc., as they chant a lilting, sing-song mantra in a disturbingly childlike voice that strikes deep into the subconscious of everyone within a 30' radius. The range of this effect can be extended by expending hit points, or through the use of certain unhealthy, inappropriate devices of magical malevolence or psychically imbalanced mutations brought on by having ventured too far or too deeply beyond. The effect of this spell is, at first simply disturbing, a slightly creepy display that many would write off as some sort of fit or something. But it is not that simple. After one turn of chanting the deranged lyrics, everyone within the spell's area of effect is forced to make a Save or else suffer a loss of 2d4 Morale points (henchmen, hirelings, etc.), or suffer a temporary loss of 1 WIS. Each subsequent turn that the spell remains in effect everyone must make another Save or experience the Morale/WIS drain again. And again.

Those who survive exposure to this spell recover their lost WIS at 1/3 the usual rate (i.e. it takes three times as long to recover). Any restorative magics cost three times the usual rate and/or must be cast at three times the usual level or intensity in order to be effective. Anyone who has experienced this effect once also carries a permanent -2 on all subsequent Saves versus this particular spell, as well as a permanent -1 penalty against all forms of magical madness, fear effects and the like.

Casters using this spell must make their own Save each time they use the spell, suffering a cumulative penalty of -1 with each use. Failure means that their voice takes on a permanently creepy, child-like sing-song quality and they lose 1 point of WIS and CHAR. The lose of one or the other attribute is permanent, the other one can be regained over time at three times the usual rate of recovery or cost of restoration.

This is a very rare spell. Anyone suspected of having even the barest outlines of the basic form of this spell within their grimoire, spell-book or other papers will find themselves attracting the unwelcome and unpleasant attentions of Fantomists and others who have a profound desire to possess this spell in any form, at any cost...

Spells Taught by the Gem of Muktra

The Gem whispers into your dreams of unsettling things.
Alien vistas swirl, writhe and coruscate across your mind's eye.
Thoughts not of your thinking echo within your consciousness.
There are dangers before you, terrible things await the ill-prepared.
You must learn to put up barriers to keep yourself intact.

The Gem whispers of variant forms of these spells, especially Auric Sheath where the specific color of the Auric Sheath determines the sort of protection it can offer...however the Gem does not automatically go into any further details about this matter at this time, unless you'd care to inquire further...

These are the spells made available via the Gem to Outsiders who are contemplating coming to Zalchis. There are many other, often better spells available, once one is within the realm of Zalchis, but few other places suffer from the horrific conditions or the weird atmosphere of this doomed and dying universe so these sorts of Essential Protections necessary to survival in Zalchis are not necessarily all that commonly encountered elsewhere. The effects described above are the effects as experienced within Zalchis...their effects outside of Zalchis may well vary drastically or even be null and void.

It is also well to keep in mind that these spells operate as they do, in part, due to the effects of the Gem. Casting these spells without the Gem in one's possession can have very different costs and effects and is generally not recommended.

The Six Essential Protections
as Revealed by The Gem of Muktra
  1. Auric Sheath
  2. Oneiric Bubble
  3. Protection From Aethyrical Intrusion
  4. Thought Wall
  5. Zone of Normality
  6. Dispel Ectoplasm

Friday, August 26, 2011

Petrocloptrian [Labyrinth Lord]

The Petrocloptrians first appear in the Special Encounters Table for the recently discovered Black Ziggurat of Jalamere, but they are not limited to just that one setting. They are also encountered in Tsan Y'an as xeno-gladiators, in Zalchis as random wandering threats, and they may be involved in some of the unpleasant events transpiring along the Bitter Sea of late...and they may also cross-over into certain Humanspace Empires games from time to time...

Here are their stats for Labyrinth Lord

No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (directional levitation)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1d6+1 (can be split between as many as up to 7 opponents at a time)
Damage: 1d4 or by weapon
Save: F7
Morale: 7

Special: Contact-Telepathy, Close-Quarters Telekinesis, Personal-Levitation, (1d4) Random Psychic Abilities (see Table)

Rugose and ruthless, Petrocloptrians are strange levitating six-limbed quasi-silicaceous beings whose reliance on contact-telepathy requires them to physically touch anyone with whom they wish to communicate. They are also masters of close-quarters telekinesis, which they use to manipulate tools, devices and weapons. Their trailing appendage is prehensile, serving as a seventh limb. Petrocloptrians have a wide range of perceptions that they prefer over visual or auditory senses, which can sometimes put them at a disadvantage when facing more primitive beings.

The flesh of a Petrocloptrian is saturated with fluorocarbon compounds and their blood is highly toxic to carbon-based life (Save -2).

Petrocloptrians are an arrogant people, with a society organized around hunting. Anything not worthy of being hunted, they tend to ignore as vulgar and uninteresting. Each Petrocloptrian is in direct competition with all others of their race in the pursuit of the biggest, most impressive and dangerous trophies they can acquire and then install or mount on the walls of their communal enclaves.

Petrocloptrians have a -2 penalty to all Charisma reactions, -4 with all animals/pack beasts.
Random Psychic Abilities Table (1d4 per Individual)
  1. Arcane Eye
  2. Cause Fear
  3. Clairvoyance
  4. Commune (as cleric spell, only with Database/AI)
  5. Confusion
  6. Contact Other Plane (as spell, but only able to connect with other Petrocloptrian enclaves)
  7. Detect Invisible
  8. Detect Lie
  9. Detect Magic
  10. Dimension Door
  11. ESP
  12. Feeblemind
  13. Find Traps
  14. Hold Person
  15. Hold Portal
  16. Know Alignment
  17. Locate Object
  18. Speak with Animals (works with most non-Petrocloptrian humanoids as well)
  19. Speak with Plants (as above, no penalty on Charisma reaction)
  20. Stone Tell (as above, but with +2 Charisma reaction bonus)
All of these psychic abilities are equivalent to the named Labyrinth Lord spell, only they all require the Petrocloptrian to physically touch whomever or whatever they seek to use these abilities on. Breaking the contact breaks the effect. All other penalties apply, especially the chance of insanity for use of Contact Other Plane.

There are Petrocloptrian sorcerers as well as high-order psychics, but they are fairly uncommon, except in Zalchis and among the Jewelled Net of Yndroxxa. There are also specialized Petrocloptrian Voyanteurs, Guardians and Gladiators that might be of interest, so the stats for those specialized sub-types will be forthcoming as we further explore the Black Ziggurat, Jalamere and beyond.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spell: Clanking Chains

Clanking Chains
Level: 4
Duration: 12 Turns
Range: Touch

The caster shackles an immaterial entity with a set of ectoplasmic fetters that rattle and clank as though they were forged of heavy iron. These chains reduce the target's mobility to 10', prevent them from passing through walls, and restrain them from entering back into the Aethyrial or Ectoplasmic layers.

Fantomists use this spell, or one of its variants, to hobble unruly or recalcitrant spirits that they intend to torment, interrogate or indoctrinate. Others, notably contract necromancers within Puljamru and Ghosteaters out along the Septagoorean Isles, use this spell to trap and capture those spirits that they intend to prey upon or bind to their service. The shamans of the Acephalli of Septagoor are known to have developed a form of this spell that works on living victims, creating ectoplasmic bonds that can imprison a victim despite the immaterial nature of the chains.

Spell: Kazwen's Reflections

Kazwen's Reflections
Level: 2
Duration: 1d8 turns
Range: Special

The caster gains the ability to orchestrate 2d4 reflections of themselves that can move and act in a distorted pantomime fashion even within non-reflective materials. During this time the caster is caught-up in a deep trance and remains immobile, however they can see everything that their reflections might observe, so the spell can have some rather interesting observational applications. Most academies and universities prohibit the use of this spell by under-graduates who might consider using it in an attempt to accelerate their studies...

Spell: Interrogate the Bones

Interrogate the Bones
Level: 3
Duration: 6 rounds
Range: Touch

Caster causes dead bones to stir into a semi-undead state, just enough to both answer questions and to experience torment. The torment only increases as the caster chooses, but it never ceases, possibly continuing onwards into the afterlife, according to some. This spell works on any bone.

Non-Fantomists who cast this spell run the risk of attracting the notice of any active Fantomist within 100 miles and in some cases even across the planar boundaries. They do not take kindly to those who would profane their trade secrets...

Spell: Ectoplasmic Wall

Ectoplasmic Wall
Level: 4
Duration: 12 turns
Range: 120'

A shimmering, refulgent mass of glistening ectoplasm flows into place to form a quivering barrier that writhes and contorts into all manner of faces and half-glimpsed forms as desperate lost souls and broken spirits attempt to force their way through the wall from the Otherside. This barrier is impenetrable to entities with fewer than 4 HD. Anyone not under the aegis of a Fantomist who comes into contact with such a Wall suffers 1d4 damage and must roll a save versus spell or suffer a momentary possession by some random spirit trapped within the wall, leaving them under the effects of a Confusion spell.

There are groups within Tsan Yian who make use of this spell and variants as well, in order to herd various forms of spirits thorugh the labyrinthine catacombs beneath each of the Last Seven Citadeldomes.

In Wermspittle this spell is only a Level 2 spell.

Spell: Speak With Dead (Variant)

Speak with Dead
Level: 2
Duration: 2 turns per level of caster
Range: 10'

Whatever spirits of the deceased are within range will be compelled to answer 1-3 questions to the best of their ability. In the hands of a skilled Fantomist, this spell can reveal a great deal, but to a non-Fantomist, it tends to just confuse things and stir up the spirits of the dead who resent being yanked around willy-nilly the way this spell forcibly restrains and constrains them to answer the caster. It is suggested that anyone using this spell have some decent protections and some way to fight off enraged or seriously irate spirits...

Spell: Dimfire

Level: 1
Duration: 12 turns
Range: 10'

Caster makes a small campfire's heat and light limited to a 10' radius, beyond which it is effectively invisible.

A variant (Level 2) form of this spell condenses all the heat and light of a campfire (or similar source) into a single cubic inch, building up a great deal of explosive pressure, and then erupting in a gout of roaring flames that scorches a 10' radius for 3d6 damage...

Spell: Wrathful Facade

Wrathful Facade
Level: 3
Duration: 2 turns
Range: 120'

Caster takes on the terrifying visage of some demon, devil or godling. All allies within range have all fear effects removed (as Remove Fear). All enemies within area of effect either make a saving throw versus spells or receive a -1 to their saving throw bonuses and run away screaming in panic.

This is one of the spells that Bujilli learned from his Little Brown Journals.

Spell: Zone of Normality

Zone of Normality
Level: 5
Duration: 12 Turns
Range: 0

This spell forms a spherical zone 10' in circumference centered upon the caster within which all environmental and planar effects adjust to whatever the caster considers to be normal. This allows the caster to temporarily create a pocket of breathable air in a vacuum; restore or reorient gravity on a personal basis; adjust the ambient temperature, pressure and humidity to pleasant levels; and generally create a momentary refuge from the crushing malevolence, persistent perils, and resonant horrors of Zalchis. The Zone of Normality blocks all immaterial intrusions including ectoplasm, aethyrium, oneiric and out-of-phase forms of pseudomatter, disrupts illusions, reveals invisibility within the 10' circumference, and provides a +2 bonus on all Saves while in effect.

Note: this spell is ideomorphically anchored to the cosmological constraints of the caster's default plane, only varying after specific attunements or initiations. Should the caster make use of this spell on any plane other than their native plane, it effectively creates a zone of effect that reproduces the prevailing conditions of their home plane. In Tsan Yian this spell was long ago deprecated and relegated to obscurity in favor of various Resonant Effects that blend or commingle two or more planes in one confined space...

In Zalchis, this spell is considered one of the Essential Protections.

Spell: Splinter Arrow

Splinter Arrow
Level: 1
Duration: 1 turn
Range: 150'

Caster imbues 1d4 arrows with the ability to splinter upon hitting, doing double damage.

Spell: Thought Wall

Thought Wall
Level: 1
Duration: 2 Turns
Range: 0/Self

This spell erects a psychometric barrier that defends the caster against all telepathic, empathic, psychic, fear-based, or sanity-draining attacks during the brief duration of the spell, effectively granting them the ability to re-roll any one failed Save against all such attacks.

The Mentarchs of Tsan Yian have developed a number of elaborations and refinements to this most basic of defensive spells.

Spell: Oneiric Bubble

Oneiric Bubble
Level: 1
Duration: 3 Turns
Range: 0

One of the so-called 'Essential Protections,' this spell creates a translucent bubble of oneirically reflective dreamstuff around the caster, granting them invisibility to all nightmares and sealing-out the effects of the Oneiric Cacophony surrounding Zalchis for the duration of the spell. The bubble is just large enough for the caster and possibly one other person who remains in close proximity. The caster can only see the vague outlines of anything blocked by the bubble while the spell remains in effect and no sound whatsoever can be transmitted into the bubble by oneiric forces. Sleeping within the safety of an Oneiric Bubble restores hit points, spells, etc. based on one full turn spent inside the bubble equaling one D4 hours of recovery.

This spell can be reversed, often with potentially devastating effects, if the caster is in proper meta-planar alignment with Zalchis, as Bujilli discovered in Episode Six.

Spell: Protection From Aethyrial Intrusion

Protection from Aethyrial Intrusion
Level: 3
Duration: 12 Turns
Range: 0

This spell creates a spherical field of force around the caster that deflects and repels all attempted Aethyric Intrusions, including the prevention of the caster from coming into contact with any out-of-phase matter. This spell has the side-effect of locking anyone trapped within its immediate area of effect into the same phase-state as the caster, allowing the user of this spell to force an aethyric alignment with anyone/thing not able to escape from the area of effect.

In Zalchis, this spell is considered essential to survival. A number of items and personal wards can be bartered for amid the ruins of that terrible, bleak place, each one supposedly empowered to sustain or enhance this spell --or one of the other essential protections-- so that it remains in effect for far longer than any solitary caster could hope to maintain such a defense.

In Tsan Yian this spell is used to provide privacy from snooping and forms the basis of many other spells for both defending and attacking Aethyrially. An inverted form of this spell is used to stir up and agitate the Aethyric layers impinging upon any set location, both as a way to confound skrying and to precipitate the necessary reactive media for certain prohibited evocations...

Spells: Auric Sheath

Auric Sheath
Level: 2
Duration: 12 Turns
Range: Touch

This spell infuses the caster's (or a willing target's) aura with a substantial charge of bioelectrical energy that is then sealed into a sturdy defensive field of force that surrounds the caster with a slight violet flicker. This defensive field repels ectoplasm and grants respite from all possession attempts. While in effect, this spell grants an additional +2 bonus to all Saves versus Death Magic.

In Tsan Yian knowledge of and ability to cast this spell are  pre-requisites before one might use a Resonator or learn any of the Resonance Effect rituals or secret spells. Certain items are known to amplify this spell's effects, but one must cast the spell in the first place for these things to function properly.

Spell: Terrible Conception

Terrible Conception
Level: 6
Duration: special
Range: Touch

Caster causes the target to become pregnant with the foul spawn of unmentionable other-planar entities, regardless of the victim's gender or ability to bear children. Gestation takes 1d12 weeks with each successive week of the unnatural pregnancy inflicting 1d6 damage upon the host. For every 10 points of damage caused in this manner the host permanently loses either one HD or one point of WIS. Should this unfortunate circumstance run its horrid course, the ensuing birth of the blasphemous abomination will very likely kill the host, rendering them unrecoverable and unleashing a terrifying monstrosity upon an otherwise unsuspecting world.

Note: anyone under the influence of this spell will attract paladins, good clerics, and other such NPCs like a beacon in the fog...

The Removal spell was originally developed specifically to counter the horrible effects of this spell.

It is rumored that there are cults within Tsan Yian that have adapted this spell so that a sorcerer might in fact give birth to a transformed version of themself...a new form that they have then re-designed, manipulated and altered by spells and psychic surgeries...but this is only a vile rumor...

Sharp Boar

Sharp Boar
No. App.: 1
Hit Dice: 4+1
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attacks: 1 (Tusks 3d4)
Move: 9 (14 charging)
Save: 14
HDE/XP: 6/400
Special: Ignores the first 10 points of damage in each encounter.

Sharp Boars are massive, shaggy and aggressive swine noted for their scimitar-like tusks and a feral intelligence that has given them a deadly edge in close-quarters combat. Some Sharp Boars are rumored to have learned how to disarm an opponent or to parry attacks with their tusks.

Should a Sharp Boar be slain without too many punctures being made, the hide can be salvaged and fashioned into an exceptionally durable suit of +1 leather armor with no need to resort to enchantment. It is for this reason that some folks try to hunt Sharp Boar using nets, clubs and pits, but this is a risky business as the beast itself has no compunctions about skewering its opponents whatsoever.

This is the fourth of four monsters we did in response to the Forge a Monster Challenge put forth by Noisms at this post:

Frozen Giant

Frozen Giant
No. App.: 1
Hit Dice:10+1
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attacks: 1 (Gaze 2d6)
Move: Special
Save: 9
HDE/XP: 12/2,000
Special: Plane Shift

The Frozen Giant is rarely seen outside of the Southern Polar regions of any world where he is known. Trapped within a gargantuan chunk of extremely clear ice, the Frozen Giant is a fog-wreathed hazard to navigation when encountered at sea and a disquieting figure to discover in the middle of glaring white wastes or in the midst of a blizzard. Explorers and sea captains alike have claimed to have spotted the Frozen Giant in a hundred places and more over the years. The only thing they all agree on is that the grim figure trapped in eternal icy torment never appears twice in the same place.

Anyone getting too close to the Frozen Giant runs the risk of getting shifted across the planar boundaries alongside the icy mass that entraps and entombs the ever awake, never to be freed sorcerer-king of a doomed and damned world he'll never see again. Many are the rumors, lies and folk-tales that have grown up around the Frozen Giant, but few really know the truth, and fewer know the whole of it. But if one is brave enough, and able to resist the supernatural cold that rolls off of the ice surrounding the Frozen Giant, they might just be able to ask one or two questions of the great being before slipping away to some other frozen wasteland on some other world.

Among the Frost Giants there are some who would seek out the Frozen Giant, to test themselves against his doom, and to wrest from him what secrets or spells their cunning will allow. Some come back wielding deadly magics that draw upon primordial forces few would dare to trifle with, others simply never return again.

This is the third of four monsters we did in response to the Forge a Monster Challenge put forth by Noisms at this post:

Spell: Serious Portentiousness

Serious Portentiousness
Level: 3
Duration: 1 turn
Range: Hearing

The caster gains a +1 bonus to their Charisma while they continue to talk in a sonorous, ponderous, very serious tone of voice. Anything they say, no matter how ridiculous or foolish will sound like a wise pronouncement, sage advice or stern order that simply must be obeyed now, without question.

At the end of the spell, the caster suffers a -1 penalty to their Charisma for the same amount of time and everything that they said previously will be considered untrustworthy, not too terribly serious, over-blown and silly.

Special House Rule:
Anyone using a Shatner-esque voice in role-playing this effect gets double the bonus and only the normal penalty afterwards.

Queen Lobster (Revised)

Queen Lobster
No. Enc.: 1 (Hopefully Unique)
Alignment: Inhumanly Tyrannical
Movement: 30'
          Swim: 90'
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: 2 (Pincers)
Damage: 3d4/3d4/Special
Save: MU 12
Morale: 11

Bigger than any three warriors and better armored as well, the Queen Lobster is a formidable opponent to anyone who dares to trespass upon Her realm beneath the Bitter Sea. Any boat, ship or vessel --including aerostats-- that try to cross the section of the Bitter Sea claimed by the Sixteen Regents* of the Queen Lobster will find themself served notice that they are trespassing and offered a chance to pay tribute. Killing the messenger results in the Queen Lobster attacking immediately from beneath the waves with her devastating psychic assault, followed-up by swarms of larva-soldiers scuttling aboard with hooks and choppers to finish-off anyone they find amidst the charred remains of the vessel. The Queen Lobster's special attack is a ferocious combination of psychically-induced Feeblemind combined with a hyper-flammable Cloudkill effect that affects a 360' radius. Most people just offer up some tribute as it hurts a whole lot less...

(*a group of telepathic lobster-dolphin or lobster-merfolk hybrids who are fanatically loyal to the Queen Lobster)

This was our first of four monsters in response to the challenge put forth by Noisms at this post:
Queen Lobster
for Sword and Wizardry (White Box)
No. App.: 1
Hit Dice: 9
Armor Class: 4[15]
Attacks: 2 (Pincers for 2d6 each)
Move: 12 (30 swim)
Save: 10
HDE/XP: 10/1,400
Special: Psychoclastic Dysjunction (See details above)

Spell: Evocation of Unknown Forces

Evocation of Unknown Forces
Level: 4
Duration: Completely random
Range: Random (D30xD30 feet sounds like fun...)

A highly dangerous spell, no one ever really knows just what it will set in motion until it is uttered and then it is too late.

Should some stalwart or sanity-impaired PC ever actually attempt to cast this nefarious spell, consult the Effects of Unknown Forces Table for some guidance. May the gods take pity on you all...

Spell: Malign and Particular Suspension of Natural Law

Malign and Particular Suspension of Natural Law
Level: 7
Duration: 1 round*
Range: 5' per level

Gravity, inertia, conservation of energy--none of it applies or matters any longer within the zone of effect of this spell. Everything is completely subject to the whims of the caster until the duration ends and the caster must then successfully save versus spells at a -4 penalty or else the area affected becomes a weak spot in reality where things have an easier time intruding upon space and time and all manner of anomalous phenomena happen on a sporadic basis. (See our series of Damned Things Tables for possible effects.)

* There is a base 1% chance that the zone of effect of this spell becomes autonomous, either enduring perpetually (until dispelled), or extending infinitely along one spatial axis (roll to determine randomly). Either of these runaway effects will attract a great deal of attention.

In Tsan Yian there are powerful rituals held by the initiates of the Fourth Circle and above that are based upon this spell that extend and deepen the effects and form lasting, resonant zones where everything caught within is defiled and contaminated by terrible, unnatural influences and the normal functioning of time, space, rationality and sanity are in complete abeyance...

Spell: Assault of Chaos

Assault of Chaos
Level: 5
Duration: 1 round per level
Range: 60'

A seething vortex of screaming madness and bizarre effulgences erupts all around the caster and expands forwards to encompass any target within range of the spell as directed by the caster. If the range of the effect exceeds the 60' mark, the caster must roll a Save (at a -4 penalty) or be swept-up within the vortex and carried off to a randomly determined location, very possibly displaced in time as well as space. (See Displacement Effect Table for ideas as to how to handle this effect...) Most casters shut the spell down right before it reaches the point of no return, but sometimes they are unable to do so, and thus it is something of a gamble to use this spell in a fight with another caster.

This spell is the basis for a wide array of vortex-based fighting spells as well as at least three distinct variants that allow the caster to form and wield a swirling maelstrom of raw chaos. Those known variations are much sought-after and worth a great deal to Octoscholars and other collectors of obscure or notorious spells. At least one variant form of this spell allows the caster to tap into the hyper-tumultuous Inner-Zones of Zalchis.

In Tsan Yian it is not uncommon at all to have duelling spell-casters facing off against each other in sorcerous gladiatorial combat using this spell or some derivative of it. But in those instances, the Sepulchre-arenas tend to be heavily warded and bonded so that the majority of these sorts of effects tend to bounce back into the fighting zones. It is extremely rare to escape these blood-soaked pits and platforms simply by over-casting a single spell. No one gets out of there quite that easily.

Spell: Breathless and Unexplainable Dread

Breathless and Unexplainable Dread
Level: 5
Duration: Indefinite
Range: 360'

If the victim fails a saving throw versus spells with a -2 penalty, they become extremely agitated, begin to hyperventilate and are filled with a deep and disturbing sense of doom, despair and dread that will make it entirely impossible for them to concentrate, cast spells, or think coherently. Should the victim fail three successive saving throws they collapse into a state of nervous exhaustion for 2d4 hours during which time they have a 70% chance to be mistaken for dead by their companions.

This spell is used to prepare victims for certain rites and rituals among the depraved and debauched disciples of demonology to be found in Tsan Yian. Others, such as the heretical adherents of the Unlife Cults use this spell in order to incapacitate their victims so that they might extract a portion of their essence for use in the manufacture of automatons and abominations.

Certain necromancers have determined that this spell is most satisfactory in the proper preparation of a candidate for joining the ranks of the conscious undead...and especially those who would become liches...

Spell: Bloody Bones

Bloody Bones
Level: 4
Duration: Permanent
Range: 60'

The caster utters a blasphemous formula, best rendered in Aklo or D'honnik, that causes the skeleton of their most recently killed victim to tear free from the still-warm cadaver and stride forth to serve them as slaves. These particular skeletons are turned as zombies and anyone struck by their claw-like hands -- or bitten -- must make a saving throw versus poison or become sickened for 1d6 hours, during which time they can only move at 50% normal movement and no other physical activity is possible.

See Bloody Bones Servitor for more details.

In Tsan Yian this spell is a pre-requisite for certain rituals among the Brethren of Bone and Blood and it is rumored to play an important central part in the dire ritual Transfiguration each member of the Inner Sanctum has undergone as part of their particular route to power.

Wall Horse

Wall Horse
No. App.: 1d4
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: 1 (Hooves for 2d6)
Move: 16
Save: 13
HDE/XP: 4/240
Special: Cast Wall of Stone (80%) or Wall of Iron (20%) up to 3 times a day.

A huge, heavy dark horse encased in sombre blackened plate barding that hides nearly all of its features, the Wall Horse rarely consents to being ridden by anyone except the most stalwart of defenders or those serving a doomed cause, such as a city under siege by an army that vastly outnumbers their forces. A Wall Horse will canter through the streets of a besieged town and erect walls to help shore up the place's defenses without any guidance or counsel of those who are leading things. A riderless Wall Horse will often place its walls in order to give the defenders maximum freedom, but that is not always the most strategic option, so when a Wall Horse is spotted, generals and captains will often send out some of their best champions or troops in the hopes of capturing the beast and getting it to erect its magical walls where the commanders think that they'll do the most good. (Charisma can be useful...)

This is the second of four monsters we did in response to the Forge a Monster Challenge put forth by Noisms at this post:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ain 4: Trarkku Rootworld

Thanks to the Drune there is now a new minor race running around in Humanspace Empires; the Trarkku. These previously nameless and unknown beings are from Ain 4, in the Hyades. Below are some preliminary maps of Ain 4.

Ain 4 / Hyades / North Polar View

Ain 4 / Hyades / South Polar View

Ain 4 / Hyades / Equatorial View

These are rough drafts, not the final version(s). The South Polar Region is heavily illuminated, possibly from massive solar mirror assemblies or perhaps because Ain 4 rolls around its primary star-sun with that pole aimed at the sun. More details will be forthcoming at the Ain 4 blog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Seeds of Unreality (Part I)

"No rules exist, and examples are simply life-savers answering the appeals of rules making vain attempts to exist."
Andre Breton 

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."

Gary Gygax

"Objects seen in dreams should be manufactured and put on sale."
Andre Breton
"Make it fast, make it colorful, and make it full of decisions for the players."
Matt Finch
A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming

"I have always been amazed at the way an ordinary observer lends so much more credence and attaches so much more importance to waking events than to those occurring in above all the plaything of his memory."
Andre Breton

"You play Conan, I play Gandalf. We team up to fight Dracula."
Jeff Rients of Jeff's Gameblog.

"The function of genius is to furnish cretins with ideas twenty years later."
Louis Aragon,
"La Porte-plume,"Traite du style, 1928

"Pencil. Paper. Dice. Imagination. A traditional role-playing game requires all of these, and traditional role-playing is my hobby. I don't care if you have an app for that, if you show up to my games without any of the first three, they will be provided for you and you will use them. If you don't have the fourth, well, shit, wrong hobby for you!"
James Edward Raggi IV
Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Digging Up Bones

After I was introduced to D&D (the LBBs back in 1976), and before I ever encountered Tekumel and it's Empire of the Petal Throne, I stumbled across David A. Hargrave's incredible mish-mash of genius and madness The Arduin Grimoire.  My original copy of the first edition of the first booklet was ripped-off borrowed never to return by some anonymous gamer who migrated through my local gaming group back in the Eighties.  I was able to replace it with the box set.

Recently, as I was rummaging around in our storage space, I uncovered a few things that I'd lost track of over the years, including my slightly worn Box-o-Arduin (photo above).  I never followed-up on the rest of Hargrave's magnum opus, mostly because of what he accomplished with those first three Other Little Brown Books, and that was to inspire just about everyone exposed to the things to go out and start creating their own stuff. It seems that back then, once you caught the creative bug, you created and you kept on creating. Everyone had their own worlds, their own house-rules, their own cosmoses that sometimes overlapped or crossed-over, but generally there was no corporatized homogeneity. Then AD&D was formulated and set into motion to promote a more profitably homogenous approach that shied away from the ultra-personal, often silly gonzo-style of gaming that broke out of the White Box as though it was a second hand heirloom left-over from Pandora. But all of that is the stuff of rampant grognardry and you can read tons of waffling, wiffling and wheezing about all that stuff elsewhere. Frankly, having already lived through a  lot of it when it was still as new or fresh as it ever was going to be, the crap bores the piss out of me.

But Arduin is not boring.

Arduin is a weird form of RPG-Kryptonite that mutates impressionable young minds into would-be creators, and that is a wonderful gift that Hargrave has given to all of us, and an incredible legacy to be remembered for...despite the near-legendary rants, raves, and other stuff that just doesn't really matter.  Arduin matters. 

It's messy, mixed-up, big, bold and brassy...and packs a creative wallop like no other RPG setting, supplement or product.  Despite claims to the contrary, to our group in particular, Arduin was never anything more than a supplement to OD&D, one that could be ported over to warp AD&D with a bit of effort.  But what a supplement!  Tables, tables, tables and loads of typos, insane spells, bizarre monsters, and more tables--Arduin reeked of the DIY-ethic before it was ever codified for by wannabes and pseudo-hipsters.  Arduin was the original garage-band proto-punk take-no-prisoners gonzo gaming memetic STD that infected the very roots of the industry.  Its impact is still felt.  Love it, hate it, be baffled or bemused by it, Arduin exerts a lingering, mythic underground (almost disreputable) influence that is probably the most viral of all spin-offs from the original classic RPG.

Arduin endures.  It still lives.  You can find the various tomes and books available through the folks over at Emperor's Choice, the Arduin Eternal Fan-Site is still going, there's an Arduin Guild Yahoogroup, a Meet-Up, and a few Wikipedia entries for both Dave Hargrave, Grimoire Games and Arduin itself.  There's a nice Tribute page for Hargrave and a decent Bio of the man behind Arduin at Answers(dot)com.

In a lot of ways, Blair's work on Planet Algol is reminiscent of all the really good stuff I liked about Hargrave's Arduin. Thankfully Blair is a lot more organized than Hargrave seems to have been, and he has the benefit of that there internet. The Planet Algol Box-Set could well turn out to be another Arduin-in-the-making.

Which makes me wonder and imagine what Hargrave might have gotten up to had he was still around to publish Arduin stuff. And what manner of stuff would it be? It would be strange, radical, bizarre, sometimes crude, other times unbalanced, out of step with the prevailing dogma and self-serving doctrines of the Established Designers, off-the-wall and truly weird--but it would definitely be cool.

Like Hargrave himself used to say: "Take a troll to lunch."

Like Jack Nicholson's Joker said: "This town needs an enema."

The Gem of Muktra

You found this gem. It is warm to the touch, almost as if it were handed to you by the hand of the artisan who just completed carving it for you. It pulses softly, in synch with your own heartbeat or mental processes. The gem seems to almost cling to your flesh. Perhaps it has a life of its own.

Over the next few days you experienced strange dreams of a Truly Weird place where the stars were mostly dead and the ones that survived were either imprisoned within rings of weblike metallic filaments spun from the fragments of times that-never-were, impaled upon impossible spikes of violet-cored blackness that is a condensation of space itself, or left to wander and roll about erratically through a terrible black abyss until they finally were sucked into a vortex and dragged to their deaths inside a grim and implacable Anti-Sun at the center of a Great Ring of debris accumulated from the wreckage and ruins of what once was a thriving universe.

By the third night you knew this other place as Zalchis.

Soft whispers emanate from the calmly pulsing green gem. One such as you might do well in Zalchis.

True, Zalchis is a ruined and destroyed place, but it still has much to offer and many an ambition could be furthered within the shadows of a universe such as this one. There are secrets buried beneath the rubble and lost below the bitter-barren wastes that could change everything for the right person. The wealth of empires linger on in sleeping vaults hidden behind implacably grimacing seals of enchanted metal. Incredible caches of long lost wisdom and all kinds and sorts of arcane knowledge, unspeakable blasphemies and unnameable abominations are trapped within forgotten tombs, waiting to be unleashed one last time before the universe ends. There is great power in this place. And not all of it sleeps contentedly as time runs out.

Few sleep in Zalchis, contentedly or otherwise. The Oneiric Cacophony surrounds all forms of consciousness capable of dreaming, insinuating itself into every subconscious, polluting every last nook and cranny of the collective unconscious like a tidal wave of plague crashing across all the accumulated cast-off dreams and nightmares of uncounted beings who remain within this dismal and dying place. Do not dream in Zalchis, warns the gem--it is a dangerous thing to tempt the Oneiric Cacophony.

The gem offers to teach you ways to defend your dreams, to elicit a sleepless state, or to address the matter in a variety of other ways. (See Perchance to Dream for details)

Sleeping and dreaming undefended can presage a brutal and gruesome fate, often one far worse than simple death or dismemberment. One needs to learn ways to stave off sleep, to banish dreams, to erect barriers that can grant some measure of reprieve from the all pervasive echoing dissonance of the Oneiric Cacophony--but that is not the only subtle danger one must contend with in Zalchis.

Just as the uncounted dreams of unnumbered dead worlds echo and resonate within the realms of the Great Ring, the Ectosphere seeps into the manifest realms wherever the living spend any amount of time. The collapse of the universe brought about by the Monocrat's Mechanisms has exerted a tremendous pressure upon the Ectosphere, forcing it to erupt into the manifest with the slightest provocation, invitation or tiniest crack or fracture. The dead are very restless in Zalchis and they are desperate to make the most of what time remains before everything comes to an end. You will need to learn how to ward off the insinuations and temptations of the Ectosphere or lose more than your mind to the things that prowl at the very sheerest margins of separation between the manifest and what lies beyond. Crossing over between the realms is no longer a difficult task to accomplish, as in the olden days when people tried to communicate with the departed, now it is a terrible thing that erupts forth if one just stays in one place long enough. One must defend onesself from these unwanted advances and invasions.

The gem offers to teach you ways to defend your soul and to preserve your lifeforce within the dark regions of Zalchis. Some are more palatable than others, but it merely makes them available to you--the decision as to how you wish to deal with the matter is entirely yours. (See Life Affirming for details)

As with any undertaking or venture into unknown territory, there are preparations to be made and matters to attend to, and the gem offers you advice and counsel in addressing these matters. It is very helpful, very knowledgeable and you sometimes find yourself asking just what is in it for the gem...who made this thing and what is it intended for? Why is it being so helpful?

But the gem, alas is an inanimate object and not likely to yield any satisfactory answers. All you have are vague recollections and some disturbing dreams...and a few new spells that seem to have come from nowhere. Spells that are of little use outside of certain rarified conditions or circumstances.

They are spells meant to be used in Zalchis.

Perhaps a person such as you would do well in Zalchis...

But Zalchis is not a place for the timid, nor the weak. The soft comforts of sanity are long since fled and the sleep of reason has bred horrible things in this place. Unfounded assumptions kill in Zalchis. Arrogance is its own reward. Hubris is a toxic elixir milked from the vein by Hags cackling behind golden masks in Ashadan.

The gem has bonded with you. It is comfortable with you. It is yours to use as you see fit, perhaps it can unlock more secrets of Zalchis, possibly it could teach you more of the sorts of things one requires to survive in such a dangerous place, maybe it has further Zalchis.