Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 143

The Chrononautical Airship Wanderjahr is under attack by a rival gang of pirates. Bujilli and Leeja have carried the wounded first officer to the sick-bay. Now hostile blob-things are plopping through some sort of interdimensional aperture...

One by one a series of squishy gray-green blobs wiggled and jiggled through an aperture just barely large enough to accommodate their boneless bodies. A foul, gray smog dribbled through a bit more with each new creature that plopped out into the sick-bay waiting room area. The creatures had eight pseudopods surrounding a single glaring black eye and they were clearly hostile. Each one was armed with various hacking and slashing weapons and they appeared intent on putting their blades to harmful use.

"I doubt they're going to want to be our friends..." Leeja laughed as she drew forth her hand-axe.

"They're Transvectors. If they kill us, they'll ransack our dead brains for whatever spells they can salvage." Bujilli had encountered one of these things before. Years ago. In his Uncle's yurt. It had been sent to murder them both in their sleep by his Uncle's one and only apprentice.

"They bleed if we cut them, right?"

"Usually, yes. but they are sorcerers in their own right so--"

Harsh green flames erupted from the tips of  the closest blog-thing. Acrid yellow-green chlorine gas swirled like dragon's breath as the creature flailed its limbs about.

Bujilli knew he had to act fast. He cast Julidi's Darts directly into the central eye of the out-gassing blob-thing. The eye exploded, yellow syrupy fluids spewed onto the floor.

"This is a place of healing. How dare you engage in violence here of all places. Get Out!" a stocky nurse wearing a blood-spattered apron over her medical habiliment pointed to the door with the poise and authority of an affronted empress.

The chlorine gas dispersed. The damaged blob-thing convulsed pitifully on the floor in a pool of fluids and mushy bean-like masses of internal tissue.

The other three blobs began to move toward the door.

"Don't even try it. We'll do what we can for your friend--" the nurse scowled at Bujilli; "and send them along back to you, however things turn out. But you are not going to invade this ship from here. So either you go back now of your own accord, or I send you on your way and I promise that you won't like where I'll send you."

The three remaining blob-things hovered over the thrashing form of their fallen comrade. Their eyes fixed in anger and hatred on Bujilli. For a tense moment it seemed as if the blobs were going to continue their attack regardless of the nurse.

She sighed in disgust then shut down the aperture with a curt gesture; "Fine. Be that way." Then she made three successive gestures that left a peculiar pink afterglow in the air around her right hand and the blobs were gone, including their grievously wounded fellow.

"You too!" The nurse growled and shooed Bujilli and Leeja out of the waiting room back into the corridor; "If you run into a janitor, let them know we could use one."

The door slammed.

Bujilli and Leeja stood there staring at the door in disbelief.

"I'm not sure what just happened..."

"Probably better to not think about it too much." Bujilli scratched his chin. His beard needed a trim.

"I can still hear fighting down that way," Leeja pointed the way they had come from. The clang and clatter of close-quarters combat was getting louder as it approached them.

"I'm fine with going the other way for now--this is not our fight and I'm disinclined to get caught-up in things..."

"I'd rather we didn't find ourselves on the wrong side."

"Agreed. Let's find the helm or whatever they use to steer this ship around."

"The command and control area?"

"Sure. That sounds right."

"Then what?"

"We take over the ship while everyone is busy fighting--"

Six lightly armored combat homunculi armed with cutlasses and small bucklers trotted around the corner. Each one had a large red, green or blue number painted across their torso, the front of their helmet, and across their buckler. Bujilli froze in mid-sentence and began to prepare another spell--Zymurgic Disgestion this time. Leeja raised her hand-axe.

The combat homunculi trotted past them.

Bujilli watched them go down the corridor. He lost sight of them as they turned another corner and the sounds of fighting got a lot louder all of a sudden.

"That was weird." Leeja looked at him questioningly.

"I think that we're still technically guests of the Baroness."

"Ah. That makes sense. Maybe we can use that to our advantage."

Electricity coursed through the coils and a violet radiance flickered deep within the fluid condensers. Loops of seven-metal cables coated with gutta-percha led from the crackling, sparking, smoking apparatus to the inert form of their fallen master. Ozone cut through the lingering stench of corruption and grave mold. The nosferatu cultists twitched with every discharge or wild arc of errant power. They stood huddled around the lead-lined coffin, claws shaking, rat-fangs dripping, their beady eyes glowing lurid red in anticipation of the fulfillment of their clever scheme. Retaliation and revenge would soon be theirs! The master would rise again! The vampiric minions didn't hear the squeaking and scratching of the hordes of rats descending upon them as Old Man Putney directed his little friends against their once and former tormentors. The rats harbored a deep and abiding resentment towards these once human things that had lorded it over them for so very long. Many were still mere animals, most in fact, but here and there among them were larger, smarter specimens, rats who remembered and who hated and had ambitions of their own and who went along with the one they considered an ally. For now... 

Neither of them had ever been on a real airship before, so they spent as much time wandering about lost as they did trying to avoid clusters of combatants. The mis-matched and rag-tag members of the Baroness' crew and their squads of Pruztian homunculi put up as good a fight as they could manage against the crew of aerial brigands or mercenaries who had boarded the ship.

After passing through yet another corridor littered with bodies and discarded weapons, Bujilli decided to take a better look at who they were dealing with, so he examined one of the brigand's face-masks. It incorporated built-in goggle-lenses and a pair of tubes that connected to a brass cylinder strapped to their chests. The mask had a set of clasp-like catches that popped free easily enough. It was well-made stuff. Then he saw the face behind the mask.

"What is that?" Leeja hissed.

Gray, wrinkled, the brigand's face was wizened in a disturbingly unnatural manner. Stiff whitish whiskers and hairs stuck out every which way. Their eyes were oozing pink orbs surrounded by puffy, gray folds of flesh with lines of scabrous flakes spiraling outwards. There were three or four small brass hooks still holding folds of flesh together on each cheek. The thing reeked of stale vinegar and moldy cheese.

"I've never seen anything like it."

"Are they human?"

"I don't have the least idea how to answer that. I mean...we're both--"

"Look out!" Leeja chopped her hand-axe into the arm of the unmasked brigand. A wickedly serrated knife clattered to the floor. They slumped, head lolling, mouth gaping to expose six rows of sharp iron teeth.

Bujilli shoved the corpse back against the wall and made sure it was dead before he released it. His Counsel displayed a sequence of simplified glyphs in his peripheral vision. One designated the gray-skinned creature as definitively Abhuman. Another denoted 'Unnatural,' and a third was for 'Hostile.'
But that was all preliminary speculation based upon its very limited observations--whatever this creature was, it was not something the machine etched into Bujilli's bones could either recognize or name.

"This thing has teeth like a manticore." Leeja scooped up the knife.

"Manticore? I've never seen one--"

"Yes you have. In the beast-pens where we first met. It was the large lion-thing with the man-face and spiked-tail..."

"Oh the strange not-cat thing. Yes. I remember it now. I didn't know that it had teeth like that."

"Most people never notice the teeth, it's usually the spikes that get you."

"Do you think these things are related to manticores then?"

"I don't know. All I can say is that those are not the teeth of an we might want to avoid getting taken prisoner by these things."

Bujilli considered collecting a sample or three, but he didn't feel it was the best use of his time. They still had not found the helm or control center. So they kept moving.

They avoided two more pitched battles between the gray-folk and the homunculi. Leeja had six new knives in her belt. Bujilli had four. Then they came to a junction where three corridors met and merged into a round chamber. On the far side of the chamber was a massive opening. Cables, ropes and netting held a smaller airship in-place. Bodies were strewn all over the place. Mostly homunculi and crew-members in their gaudy, mis-matching uniforms.

"This must be the brigand's ship."

"It appears unguarded."

"They were probably too busy fighting their way inside this ship to leave anyone behind..."

"That would be stupid. Unless they had no intention of leaving. I've heard about some tribes in the Septagoorean Archipelago that will set fire to their canoes or rafts so that they cannot retreat when they invade a rival's island. Maybe these gray-things intend to take this ship...or die trying."

"I say we take it."


"Let's get out of here!" Leeja ran to the tethered airship.

For a moment Bujilli hesitated. He didn't know where he was, where the other airship had come from, who the gray-things were, why they--it simply didn't matter. He ran to catch up to his partner. She beat him to the ladder, but he was the faster climber.

Within half an hour they managed to get the airship operational and began clearing the lines. After hacking through the second cable Bujilli decided it would be easier, and faster if one of them un-did the knots while one of them kept the ship as steady as possible.

That proved to be far easier said than done and he nearly got crushed twice before finally getting the last line cut loose--he gave up on the knot and resorted to his hand-axe.

He returned to the pilot's gondola just as Leeja pulled the release for the nose-tether clamps.

The airship lurched to the left. Shivered. Shuddererd. Then the fans kicked in and they began moving backwards, away from the larger airship.

"I'm not sure what half of these dials or levers or other controls do, but it has a wheel for steering it like a riverboat and there are levers right here that let you raise or lower the nose." Leeja demonstrated the controls. She was like a small child with an amazing new toy.

"Good. You seem to have everything under control for now..."

"It is pretty handy that everything is labelled in Franzik, so we have a chance to work out what each of the labels mean." Leeja was beaming happily. She'd never stolen an airship before.

"Good. Get us out of here, as far away from the Baroness and her airship as quickly as you can. I'm going to go check the rest of the ship. I don't want to get surprised by some stow-away or guard that was sleeping on duty or whatever."

"Which way should I go?"

"I don't know. Pick a direction. One's as good as another. You decide."

Click. The Synchronocitor snapped into visibility and hovered before a black box-like apparatus off to the right of the great wheel that steered the ship. Violet light flickered along the mechanism as it began to pulse.

"What is happening?" Leeja whispered.

"I'm not sure."

Transpositional Engines at one-third power. Initiating System Recharge Protocol.

"Does that mean what I think it does?" Leeja smiled mischievously.

"It means we can take this ship just about anywhere we want...once it is fully charged."

"Well I'm going to take us...hmmm...North for now. We can let the magic doohicky thing there recharge things for now."

"It's a Synchronocitor. It isn''s...I don't know what it is really, only that it gives the person who operates it the means to travel from one world to another. I've never really had a chance to examine it very closely, or to experiment with it. I don't really know what all it might be capable of doing."

"You might want to consider looking into that when you get back from making your rounds. Hey. Do you want me to come along? I can lock the wheel into long as we're not gone for too long, that ought to be alright."

"I'm not sure I trust that. I'll go it alone this time."

"Fine. I offered. Bring me back something to eat, will you?"

Bujilli headed up the ramp that led up from the pilot gondola into the body of the airship where the inner decks were located, hand-axe at the ready...

Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Recharging Transpositional Engine number one: currently at 28% and charging.

Roll for Initiative...
Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Anyone/anything that might be up there inside the seemingly abandoned airship.

We need to decide which direction Bujilli will go first once he reaches the top of the ramp. He can go right, left or forward. Right leads to six doors set into the walls of a hexagonal chamber, as does going left. Going towards the tail-section leads down a 12' wide catwalk with another set of the hexagonal chambers set thirty feet away. The catwalk continues another thirty feet to a single hexagonal chamber at the end. If Bujilli looks around a bit before heading down the catwalk, he'll see that there is a loop around the ramp-entrance and the catwalk extends towards the front of the airship about half as far as the one that leads back towards the tail-section. That section of catwalk also terminates in a hexagonal chamber. So which direction should Bujilli go first? Do you want him to go toward the nose or the tail first? Should he open every door, or just make a quick check of things? Is there a spell he might consider using in this situation?

More Dice...
We need a few D20 rolls, a well as a few d6 rolls in order to sort out any potential encounters, salvageable bits, unattended loot, supplies, etc.

And Then...
Now Bujilli and Leeja have their own airship and the Synchronocitor is getting it ready to transition to another world at their command. So where should they go? What should they do first? Any suggestions or questions? Let me know in the comments!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Octovoidal Transvectors

Four gray blobs wiggled and jiggled through the aperture. Each of them wielded a variety of melee weapons in their pseudopods that surrounded a single glaring black eye...

Octovoidal Transvectors
No. Enc.: 2d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 4 [15] (tentacles 6[13])
Hit Dice: 6+
Attacks: 1d4
Damage: 1d4+1 per tentacle, or by weapon
Save: MU3+
Morale: 10

Special: These loathsome things can only gain spells by plundering the brains of their dead victims. It requires 1d4 hours per level of spell to remove it form a corpse, but if the process is interrupted at any point, the spell randomly discharges and is lost, rendering the victim's brain unusable by the Transvector.

Squishy, soft, bloated sacs of interstitial fluids with demented dreams of conquest; Transectors prey upon spell-casters to amass personal power. They dwell deep within the fringes of obscure regions where the laws of nature break down and all manner of nightmares and insanity run rampant. Cold, inhumanly callous and completely self-serving, these flaccid interdimensional narcissists only cooperate with one another while one of them retains enough power over the others to ensure their obedience, but given half a chance, they will harvest spells from the brains of their would-be masters, one-time peers or foolish allies as they would from anyone else.

All spells that target humans affect the Transvectors, leading to some unpleasant speculation among sorcerers and scholars.

Inspiration: The Octovoidal Transvectors are related to the more octopoidal forms of Mucoids, some of whom have established isolated colonies in deeply weird interstitial regions of time/space. Little is actually known about these beings, though they are extremely hostile to Interstitial Insectoids, seem to have some sort of agreement with the Thysanurians, and are rumored to employ War Grubs from Nhorr to patrol their fortified domains.

A more barbaric form of these creatures are the Octovoidal Degenerates, who will be addressed in their own entry.

From The Sketchbook (4)

A wicked wizard from Patraal...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Clatterdelve, T'Zugri, etc.

Work proceeds at a snail's pace on Clatterdelve. The one 'false entrance' mini-level we released previously is just one of six such 'false entrances' that might or might not lead would-be looters and explorers to this infamous inter-dimensional redoubt...

Clatterdelve was put on the back-burner in favor of some other projects that are now nearing completion, and once I wrap-up work on T'Zugri, I am considering posting a monthly look into the depths of Clatterdelve for the curious.