Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Strange Places: Glowfield

The glow gets more intense the closer you get. Quieter, too. The silence is eerie. Unnatural. Colors tend to fade, often permanently, after being exposed to the glow emanating from this abandoned, not-exactly-empty lot. If you approach it carefully, like the Feral Kids and Changelings like to do when they're playing their obscure tricks on those passing through, and if you're lucky not to cross-over the oh-so-delicate threshold, you might catch a brief glimpse of...something. No one is sure what it is. The Nickel Dreadfuls and less savory Pulps are filled with the speculative adventures of creative liars who've never set foot in the place. The Yellow Journalists tend to avoid the place, as its color-deadening effect would end their careers, if not their fetid half-lives. The kids and the misfits and the assorted dregs surrounding this place will egg you on, dare you to take one more step, just to see what happens. It's a game to them. They also stand to make a little money selling the translucent bones they are able to pick from the brittle black weeds and stark white scrub surrounding the Glowfield.

At 30', if you remain within sight of the Glowfield for more than ten minutes, you must make a Save or lose your perception of color for 1d4 hours. All colors are faded from their person and gear for the next 1d4 days. There is a cumulative 1% chance of the faded coloration remaining permanent. Disorientation due to the strange glow reduces movement by half.

At 20', if you remain within sight of the Glowfield for more than five minutes, you must Save or suffer temporary blindness for 1d4 Turns. Each subsequent exposure at this range incurs a cumulative -1 penalty to the Save, and the duration of the blindness effect doubles each time. Blindfolds, or simply turning one's back to the Glowfield allows you to go for fifteen minutes between Saves. As above, there is a color fading effect, in this case the victim loses all their coloration for 1d4 days, with a cumulative 5% chance of the colorlessness becoming permanent. Disorientation by the glow reduces Movement by 2/3 the normal rate.

At 10', those exposed to the Glowfield for more than five minutes must Save or begin to become transparent. Each failed Save incurs a cumulative -1 penalty on all subsequent Save attempts. The transparency effect is also cumulative, roll a D20 for the % of the victim's body that is now transparent. The effect persists for 1d4 days and there is a cumulative 5% chance per exposure/failed Save of the effect becoming permanent. Those rendered transparent by the Glowfield can sacrifice 1 WIS point to re-roll one failed Save, if they are successful, the loss is temporary, if they fail it is a permanent loss. Those rendered transparent can also sacrifice 1 WIS to overcome the blindness generally caused by the effect. Disorientation reduces movement to 10% normal rate.

Entering the Glowfield for less than five minutes is pretty much like the effect at 10', only with a cumulative 10% chance of the transparency effect becoming permanent. Remaining within the Glowfield for longer than five minutes may or may not have more serious repercussions. No one knows, because no one that has stayed in there for more than five minutes has ever returned, at least that anyone knows...

Who Goes There?

(1d20) Encounters just outside the 30' limit
  1. A lame child with too many fingers and toes laughs at you as you pass by them. They whisper something unintelligible in what sounds suspiciously like Aklo, if you're at all familiar with the language. If questioned, they will hand you a bloated eyeball with a grayed-out iris dangling several inches of optic nerve. If harassed, the child will make a rude gesture, some obscure imprecation, and attempt to run away. If killed, the child collapses into a frothing mass of nearly colorless corruption that remains inert for 1d4 hours before it slithers off as a form of Lesser Jelly.
  2. Three dirt-smeared Urchins are poking ahead with sticks as they move step by step towards the Glowfield. They've been promised a few nickels apiece if they can go right up to the edge of the Glowfield without actually crossing the threshold into the glow itself. None of them suspect that they've each one been told the exact same thing by their underhanded patron; they've each been instructed to push one of their companions into the Glow. They are being watched at a distance by a Yellow Journalist using a telescope from a near-by attic garret.
  3. (2d4) Refugees have gotten lost and were mis-directed to this place by some drunken locals. The Refugees are most upset that this is not the public pump house. They begin to argue about which way they need to go to get back to their cluster of shacks. They dislike this place intensely. Their chanters have been warning them for months now that their neighbors have been using this place as an unhallowed burial ground.
  4. Translucent scapula. Look a little more closely and you'll spot a tibia, femur and a few ribs as well. Each bone is waxy in your hands, pebbly-textured, translucent. If you pick them up, you can gather (3d6) bones. Every bone you pick-up results in another (1d4) Feral Kids taking an interest in what you're doing over there. If you leave the bones alone, the Kids will pretty much leave you alone. There are no skulls in the grass. Never any skulls. No one knows why.
  5. You almost trip over a slightly bloated dead body. Some hidden experimenter has staked-out corpses at intervals of ten feet leading up to the very edge of the Glowfield. Each body is tagged with a yellow card bearing its number. Whoever set this up is probably still out there. Watching. Waiting to see if you disturb the Gore Worms wriggling in anticipation of a fresh host.
  6. Someone lugged the heavily weathered and stained limestone corner-stone from some ruined manor out into the weeds. You can still see some of the tracks leading back to the burned Over District. Jerver, the Oddling, has been using it as an altar to unspeakable things. He maintains his dominance over a band of Afflicted through fear and frequent sacrifices. Fail a reaction Roll, and he'll designate one or more of your group as the next sacrifice.
  7. (3d4) Changelings have trapped a medium-sized Drab Jelly using some purple-lensed lamps and torches. They've been so intent on capturing the jelly, that none of the Changelings have quiet realized how close to the Glowfield they've been led by the thing that they think they've trapped.
  8. Balo-deela, an insane morlock ex-sapper with a wooden leg, has dug-out a few shallow tunnels that lead up to the edge of the Glowfield. Every now and then one of the tunnels caves-in. Usually when someone walks over it. There are 3d6 Questionable Trinkets and Trash items scattered about in these crawlspaces. No one has seen the crazy old morlock in weeks. All the locals know about the sapper's gladius he always carried. Get close enough and you might hear it muttering and swearing to itself in the darkness. You'll need to break the old sapper's glass-like fingers to get the thing out of here, if you do find the corpse and the sword.
  9. A jagged fragment of a Petrified Colossi's pinky-nail. Some Forager dropped it when they cut through here as a short-cut. There's a blue tag wired to the fragment, but the burlap it was wrapped in has been mostly removed. This thing might be valuable to someone, but it causes 1 point of damage every hour it remains in contact with living flesh. If you pick it up, you might notice that the ground where it has been lying has become very hard, dry and dead-gray due to the low-level petrification effect radiating from the thing.
  10. Three-quarters of an elegantly carved bone staff juts from the dirt like a slender tooth. The upper section is not far off. The ivory Flidder-cage has been smashed. There's no sign of the creature that used to be bound into it. The Perdu sorcerer who carried the staff into this place was knocked unconscious by a gang of Feral Children and overlooked due to their innate invisibility. 
  11. Rats. Dozens of piebald, hairless, translucent rats scurry around the place pathetically. They are all blind. Some of the locals kill the rats with sling-stones, but so far no one has been in a hurry to eat one. So far.
  12. Those brittle black weeds right where you are standing used to be Red Weeds. Being this close to the Glowfield has changed them. Their oily-gray sap causes 2d6 damage on a failed Save due to unstoppable bleeding wherever the stuff has stained a victim's flesh. If dried, or removed from here, the sap goes inert.
  13. Two seriously wounded Feral Children run past you. One collapses only a few feet away. Their companion doesn't look back. Abandons them. If you go to the fallen child, they are crying and in a great deal of pain. Right before falling unconscious from severe blood loss, she whispers 'Horla.'
  14. Something hard, yet brittle, snaps under foot. It is a small, tapering and twisted cone of highly polished quartz. There are (3d4) more of the things right near where you are now. Most of them are still arranged in a circle. All of the quartz cones contain a strange purplish stain inside. They are also all cracked and crazed as though they have been exposed to intense heat. Each of the cones will melt away into nothingness within (1d4) hours. There is a base 30% chance that a medium-sized Gloomswallow is near-by, having only recently escaped from the circle of containment formed by the quartz cones. The weird beast needs to get farther away from the Glowfield in order to be able to slip back into the Oneirical layers, but it is confused and disoriented.
  15. Dozens of bloated white eels wriggle in and about the frizzled grass surrounding this place. The locals are used to it by now. Some of them are busy catching the eels with buckets and make-shift nets. Those that they roast or poach can be eaten, the ones they don't cook fast enough tend to fade away. The eels have nasty bites (inflict 2d4 damage), but don't tend to live very long out of water.
  16. Two Eloi Foragers are arguing over which of them discovered a Brazen Scale of Ylantru. They are so caught-up in their disagreement that neither of them notices you, unless or until you do something to attract their attention. 
  17. (2d4) Gunpowder Grubs have been left in an old cardboard box underneath a section of moldy plywood. The grubs are mostly translucent. The gunpowder inside them has turned a peculiar milky blue. It may or may not be inert. 
  18. Thaddeus Porzimio, a scholar of Opticks, is complaining bitterly to three Urdiz mercenaries. It would appear that the scholar engaged these fellows' services as protection while he studied the Glowfield. They've decided to rob him and go somewhere less disturbing. You've caught them in the act.
  19. A mostly transparent zombie stumbles about, flailing their claw-like hands and gnashing their see-through teeth. They cannot see, due to their eyes being transparent, but they can still hear and possibly smell. There are several more of the things in here; one of the Refugee camps has been burying their dead here because they were sure no one would tamper with their bodies in this place. There's a cumulative 20% chance of a Kallittrian burial party showing up with a recently deceased corpse for every zombie destroyed. They will not be pleased by any of this. (-2 Reaction Roll.)
  20. (2d4) Abseen have come here to bathe in the glow. They believe that it will give them visions, or improve their ability to shift between visible and invisible states. Some choose to meditate, others to make offerings or to look for some sort of omen. None of them are interested in anyone else, seeing them as a distraction.

(1d10) Things Encountered at 20'
  1. (2d4) Transparent bones. Mostly animals like bats, rats and eels. No skulls whatsoever.
  2. A mostly colorless corpse. Their skin is peeling, oozing a clear fluid that reeks of corruption. Something is squirming around in their guts. Transparent worms.
  3. More bloated White Eels wriggle and thrash about in the grass, gasping for air and quickly dying. They can still bite for (2d4) damage, if someone comes within reach in the next 1d4 minutes.
  4. (1d4) Abseen have taken-up meditative positions around a small pool of milky fluid that stinks of rotten cabbages. There is a sulfurous rime around the filmy edges of the pool. The fluid is toxic (Save at -2 or suffer 3d6 damage and lose all sense of taste for 1d4 weeks). There are large, three-eyed catfish just barely visible in the pool. The catfish have poisonous spines protruding from their fins (Save at -3 or suffer double damage from all attacks for next 1d4 days). The Abseen will shift into complete invisibility if disturbed. 
  5. (4d4) Transparent penguin bones. Completely stripped of all flesh. A jagged shard of hand-knapped whitish stone is embedded in a vertebrae. At first it appears to be a form of quartz, but no, it's some sort of obsidian. Again, no skulls.
  6. (3d6) Colorless gulls flutter past. Their eyes are dead, milky-white, yet they can somehow see. They make no sound. Not even the flapping of their wings can be heard.
  7. (6d4) Transparent human bones. Quite an assortment. None of them connected, all of them scattered and most splintered, and again, no skulls.
  8. (3d6) Colorless slugs slither through the brittle white weeds. They appear harmless, however, if touched by bare skin, they inject a powerful poison (Save at -4, succeed and take 4d4 damage, fail and take 4d4 damage and lose the ability to speak one language permanently, lose language slot).
  9. (10d4) Transparent bones. Penguins, whales, bears, seals, various birds, even humans, but no skulls.
  10. (3d6) Huge, colorless worms wriggle and rear up from fresh furrows in the increasingly white soil. They exude a nauseating sweet scent. Their mucous saturates everything within a 10' radius of each worm. Anyone coming into contact with the worm-slime must make a Save, those succeeding suffer 1d4 damage and lose their sense of smell for 1d4 days. Those who fail are blinded for 1d4 hours.

(1d6) Things Encountered at 10'
  1. A massively muscled albino penguin stands imperiously atop a jumbled pile of whitish slate. The penguin was completely black (even its blood is black if anyone cares to find out) and it is a man-eater. There is a mound of bones behind the huge malevolent bird, all of them cracked and splintered by its powerful beak.
  2. (1d4) Abseen stand vigilant, as though listening to some far off thing that you cannot hear. If you ask them about it, one of them will offer to help you. If you refuse, they will smile and wish you a good journey, then go invisible. If you agree, they will reach out and touch both of your ears; there will be a momentary sensation of gentle heat, followed by the thunderous noise of a massive waterfall very, very close by. Your hearing is so sensitive now that you take 1d4 damage per Turn that you remain this close to the Maelstrom or whatever it is just ahead. 
  3. Pillars. Three heavily eroded limestone pillars. Each one more eroded and pitted than the last one, each one spaced about three feet apart. A large, transparent python is coiled atop the third pillar. It is sleeping-off its recent meal and is quite sluggish. If you notice the sleeping serpent, you'll also notice that the pillars are inscribed in crude Tsalalian, however none of the markings are complete. (Just in case, the body within the python is that of a Tsalalian hunter. Perhaps there is a foot poking out of the python's still distended jaws? Her obsidian-tipped spear and war-club are somewhere close by. Not that they did her any good.)
  4. Roll a Save. Fail and you lose your hearing for the next 1d4 hours, but if you leave Right Now, you can report having heard the distinctive roar of a massive cataract or thunderous Maelstrom. Take one more step forward and you'll need to roll a Save or lose your footing and go tumbling over the unseen edge into the roaring waters below.
  5. A Perdu warrior will appear before you, very briefly, only long enough to startle you. Make a DEX check to remain standing. If you fall, you'll notice that the ground is shaking from an intense vibration that is very close. The Perdu will take turns taunting each of your party. They laugh in great amusement, but you cannot hear them at all. Then they are gone.
  6. Bones. Hundreds of colorless and transparent bones litter the uneven, rocky area leading up to a sheer cliff-edge overlooking what appears to be a churning, billowing curtain of fog and mist. If you choose to make your way through the haphazardly strewn bones, you'll need to make a DEX check or Save at -1, then again at -2, then finally at -3 penalty as you go towards the edge. Fail and you lose your footing and the bones begin to shift and slide towards the edge; you'll get one final chance to Save, or go over the edge into the yawning abyss beyond. If you manage to make it to the edge without slipping, you'll find a low wall of skulls erected right at the very edge of the precipitous drop-off. Through the mist you can see what appears to be a vast cataract, a waterfall roaring thunderously down into the dark depths below...but there is no river outside the Glowfield. Careful observation from this vantage point will reveal that the 'low wall' is in fact a sort of sloping walkway leading down around the interior face of the great chasm surrounding the massive waterfall...


  1. Excellent random tables--and that's from someone who is largely indifferent to random tables.

    1. Thanks! One small vacant lot can hold all sorts of weirdness...


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