Tuesday, October 31, 2017


“But need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.”
Ursula K. Le Guin,

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7 (as Studded Leather)
Hit Dice: 2 (Advance as Magic-Users)
Attacks: 1d2 or Spell-Taking (can also use Magic Items such as Wands)
Damage: See Below
Save: MU2
Morale: 6

Special: These creatures can attempt to drain any spell a victim has memorized by making a touch attack that inflicts 1d2 damage per Round, requiring 1 Round per level of spell being extracted. If contact is broken during this attempt, the spell is lost to both parties.

Driven by obsession and totally lacking in conscience and possessing only a vague echo of their former intellects, Book-Keepers are undead creatures of unnatural memory and lingering reflex, beings so caught-up in the pursuit of spells and the act of spell-casting that even in death they pursue new spells at any cost.

Seldom encountered outside the Academy, Book-Keepers are considered Very Minor Undead; verminous magical pests best left to apprentices and students to deal with generally. Only in rare instances when a Book-Keeper might have stumbled upon an ancient, forgotten trove of old scrolls or books and gained a considerable number of spells would there be reason enough to alert the elders, professors or administrators of academia. Many faculty members look upon the Book-Keepers as something of a test for their charges, an opportunity for those with the wits to make the most of it or a contest of skills and/or personal power for those too dim to continue along the path of spell-casting.

Some nuisances are really gifts in disguise, if one only knows how to make the most of the situation.

'If you want to make things go BOOM! join the artillery or the grenadiers. Spells make lousy -- and overly expensive -- bombs.'
Jadivak Klinehorst,
Third Exchequer of the Academy at Wermpsittle
from a quotation carved over the door to the Little Arena as a reminder to others

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nelashtil (White Star)

5 [14]
3 (May Advance as a Class, but require 200% XP)
By weapon or Sting (1d6)
Detect Invisible, Telekinesis, Levitation

Nelashtil are hyper-intelligent molluscoids whose primary culture is centered within the Splendid Array, a swarm of habitat-structures encompassing a trinary solar system and the various 'peripheral clusters' of semi-autonomous habitat-clusters engaged in forming star-shells around dozens of otherwise unremarkable orange dwarf stars scattered across known space. Ancient allies to the Rugalli, the Nelashtil approach to technology is entirely biological and involved time-scales measured in millions of years. They are patient, but determined in a way that most other species cannot begin to fathom.

Nelashtil brains are decentralized and massively redundant, making them extremely difficult to interact with using the standard forms of telepathy and their languages are so inherently self-referential as to make it nearly impossible to communicate with them until the Jrozzik were able to develop a suitable interface organism to serve as a translator for the Nelashtil, giving those voluntarily infected with the organism the ability to use any language contained within the Galactic Lexicon.

Relatively non-violent, the Nelashtil employ Telekinesis to wield various weapons or defensive mechanisms (shield-pods, etc.) out to a range of 10' per HD. This same Telekinesis allows the Nelashtil to Detect Invisible within the same range restrictions. The Nalashtil use their innate Telekinesis to enhance their mobility, especially in zero-g and micro-g environments.

A Nalshtil's Sting attack is usually reserved for last-ditch defense, unless the individual is a Sting-Fighter (their version of a Brute), and only has a range of touch, however it also forces the victim to make a Saving Throw to avoid having their advanced-technology items becoming encrusted with a slow-growing, glistening pink goo that replaces their inner workings with living components.

Nelashtil are absolutely fascinated with the non-biological technologies employed by so many starfaring species and individual Nelashtil have been known to join merchanter crews or to exchange repair services for a berth on less reputable/more interesting ships where they serve as translators, advisors and mechanics...though they have the tendency to graft, grow and embed biological sub-systems into the complex workings of any starcraft or habitat they occupy for extended periods.

Rip Floaters are monstrous beings from whom the Nelashtil might be descended, or perhaps the Nelashtil become Rip Floaters either through some rare form of atavistic degeneracy or the dangerous mutagenic sacraments of certain ancient cults that claim to hold unbroken lineages dating back millions of years. Rumors abound and many academics are keen to discover the truth, despite the dangers. Click over to the Swords & Stitchery blog to learn more about the Rip Floaters.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

From The Zones: Images From An Abandoned Camera (4)

Designation: Driftwood
Status: Active, Mobile, Malevolent

The so-called 'dead' trees surrounding various bodies of water in the ruins and Contested Areas of the old Metro Area may not be quite as defunct as they ought to be--multiple reports have come in concerning huge old trees that have begun to migrate away from their original locations. Drone surveillance and teams of Observers are monitoring the situation...

Designation: Weirdpool
Status: Active, Static, Malevolent

Weirdpools are apex-level hazards and should be avoided at all costs. They may be radioactive, in addition to being highly toxic and there is a growing body of evidence to support the theory that these things might somehow be possessed of some form of animal-level awareness...

Designation: Cross-Cut Glare
Status: Active, Spontaneous, Short-Duration

Cross-Cut Glare is a condition predominantly occurring in wooded areas, though at least two instances have been reported taking place within alleys deep within the old Metro Zone near the river. This phenomena is preceded by a distinct crackling sound reminiscent of a short-circuiting comms unit. This sound fluctuates and can persist for up to fifteen minutes, during which time all electronics within a roughly 60' radius crash, lose all charge, drop all signals, lose all memory, or even in some cases have the internal systems completely melt. Then the Glare erupts like an anti-personnel mine at the center of the effect. The Cross-Cut Glare is over in an instant, leaving behind an area devastated by over a dozen spiraling horizontal cuts that slice through trees, posts, cement, rebar, and most other things but not affecting living flesh in any recognizable manner.

From the Zones is a community project hosted by John Till over at the FATEsf blog. This community project is inspired by the novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which was the basis for the movie Stalker.

There is a handy index of the current Field Reports from the Zones that features posts from across the Blog-o-sphere, as well as a nifty guide explaining how you can participate in this ongoing Community Project.

Monday, October 9, 2017


...let us meet,
And question this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further.

Macbeth [II, 3]

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Evil (Any)
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4 (Blood drain)
Save: F5
Morale: 10 [Incur a -1 penalty to Morale per successful blood-drain attack]

Invulnerable to silver weapons (including enchanted silver).
Take double damage from salt or fire.
Normal weapons only affect a Bloodfetcher for one hour after it successfully feeds on a victim's blood.
All spells affecting blood have some effect on these things.
All forms of healing cause them damage; Cure Disease destroys them if they fail a Save.
There is a base 10% chance of contracting a blood-born infection from the attack of a Bloodfetcher. 
They usually break-off their attack and flee after only a few successful draining-attacks. 
In those rare instances where they've managed to actually kill someone, that person cannot be raised or resurrected by the usual methods.
In moments of great duress (reduced to 2 or fewer hit points), a Bloodfetcher has a 30% chance to use a form of Planar Transition that gives them access to some dark, inverse realm not immediately recognizable to lay-men and lesser scholars.

First noted during the final years of the Great Purge when the last of the vampires were finally executed or assassinated, the Bloodfetchers are malignant creatures formed from unclean residuum such as tainted blood, rotting bandages, and the more atrocious things cast-off or cut-out during war-time battlefield surgeries. Sordid things, they were little better than tulpas or fyljjas or crude synthetic elemental-things when first created, but their masters deliberately mired them in both literal and psychic filth and bought them forth amidst carnage as weapons in a lost war.

The vampires were said to have some sort of arrangement with the Ungezeifers, leading some to speculate that the Bloodfetchers are related in some way to Cacozombies, but this is according to the testimony of tortured Thysanurian collaborators. Others claim there is a connection of sorts to Scabrous Froth or Sanguinovores, but prevailing doctrine leans more in the other direction--that Sanguinovores are more likely to be twisted versions of Bloodfetchers...but this does rather beg the question of how something already so corrupt and defiled could become further tainted or contaminated. One disturbing line of inquiry and investigation conducted originally behind the scenes and that has only recently been revealed claims that Bloodfetchers are actually a contrived form of geist derived from vampiric test-subjects who were part of a clandestine operation overseen by Colonel Vannerwirth of V5Korps, a notorious Red Ops unit that went rogue during the Bitter Winter during which Brischtof, Valzig, and Preshtomin were all completely emptied of all human life. Conspiracies and fantasies are springing up all the time and no one has been able to offer definitive proof to settle the matter, so the rumors, the theories and crack-pot notions proliferate wildly.

Bloodfetchers avoid bright lights as much as possible, preferring to lurk in shadows and to ambush their victims in dark places and especially wherever blood has been spilled in battle or in pain, such as hospitals, sanitariums, the pits, or the less well-warded arenas.

It is a curious fact that the Bloodfetchers only feed upon their prey for short time and then seek to flee as best they can. This suggests that Karlov and Grampier may well have been correct in their preliminary summary of the findings of the surgical inquisition led by Malthon just after the end of the Great Purge. They surmised that Bloodfetchers were somehow incomplete, transitional things enslaved and employed by the vampires to collect blood from their enemies and return it to them in a useful condition...but alas they are so filthy and corrupt that not even Lesser Nosferatus can gain any real sustenance from the spoiled blood these things carry. In the words of Malthon herself; 'They appear to be so much rubbish, another failed experiment that lingers long after the initial error that brought them into existence has been expunged. These vile things need to be rooted-out and destroyed before they fester and further degrade into something worse or more hurtful.'

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Superstition in Wermspittle (October 2017 Blog Carnival)

The Theme for this Month's RPG Blog Carnival is Superstitions and it is being hosted by the Of Dice and Dragons blog.

A Selection of Superstitions in Wermspittle

"There are things one does Always, Never, and Sometimes. So long as you remember that 'always' doesn't mean every time, that 'never' rarely lasts, and 'sometimes' is just another way of saying 'when it counts.' Like most everything else in life, these will be best defined each for themselves, according to experience and circumstance. In the meantime, let us cover a few of the most common folk practices and urban remedies you will likely encounter..."

Mistress Alicia's Compendium of Expectations, Explanations and Ettiquette
with Guidelines for Dueling, Dating and Discourse (both kind and dire)  
(Expurgated Third Edition),
Wermspittle 1156

Ahem. In Wermspittle it is considered expedient, efficacious and possibly estimable for one to (almost) always do the following...

  • Always mind your own business, especially as it pertains to your person, your mind, or any dealings for which you will be held accountable.
  • Always lock your door, seal any windows, and check under the bed before retiring. Salt, wards, charms or other such sorcerous or religious bric-a-brac will not defend or protect those who do not also use due diligence or good sense.
  • Always keep one eye out for opportunity. Of course, you may use the other one however else you like.
  • Always remember that loud noises attract attention and that in most instances, especially when one might be inclined to make a loud noise, such attention is very likely not desired; thus it behooves one to always carry some rags, old socks, or such-like in order to muffle things, or however else makes the most sense.
  • Always check your boots after traipsing through damp regions; a moment's offhanded inspection could save your toes, preserve your feet, or prevent you from a crippling deformity or even a nasty death.
  • Always use a stick to test for traps. Better yet--get someone else to do so for you. At a safe distance.
  • Always consider how your words might sound coming from the lips of an enemy. To prevent all but the most determined of foes from twisting your words after the fact, consider first sipping some green mead before engaging in any confrontational exposition or contested oratory.
  • Always check your bed before--and after--you lie in it.

...and to Never do these things for they are considered egregious, erroneous, and even evil in all the worst ways.
  • Never ask what kind of meat is being served, and by no means should one inquire as to how it was acquired.
  • Never leave a mirror un-covered, especially if it should be exposed to moonlight.
  • Never spill salt without following it with a flame or three unhallowed nails. No one knows the reason behind this practice. It's just something one does.
  • Never remove a stake, spike or similar device from any corpse, cadaver, or skeleton you might encounter under any circumstances. This is believed to be a hold-over from the old days when vampires where more common, but in any case it is a good idea nevertheless.
  • Never cheat the Little People. They never forget, rarely forgive, and can extract a terrible price for any perceived slights, trespasses or transgressions. Fortunately, they are often amenable to bribery, flattery or subterfuge.
  • Never shave on Wednesday.
  • Never accept a charm, talisman or amulet for free--these things always come at a cost, so make sure you are aware of what you will be expected to pay up front and not after the fact. Also, be certain to get a full and honest explanation of just what the thing is intended to do; never assume it will serve in a particular way, shape or form out of lazy ignorance and empty hope.
  • Never look a gift-horse in the mouth; one can learn far more from examining the beast for parasites, open sores and assorted diseases, maladies or poxes by use of a sliver of podgir horn, or better yet just ask an expert.
  • Never tamper with someone else's spirit-traps, small-bindings, or un-examined effigies unless you are properly prepared for the consequences. Keep in mind, almost no one is ever really, truly prepared for every eventuality.
  • Nothing ruins a friendship quite so thoroughly as an addiction, a debt, or a noble cause.
  • No charm ever offered more benefit to its buyer than it brought upon the one who crafted it in the first place.
  • Never engage in a pact you wouldn't feel inclined to have reversed against you.
  • Never accept a challenge to enter into the Mao Games unless you are surely ready to forfeit your soul...or worse...should you lose.
  • Never cheat a fortune-teller. If they are competent, they will know where, when and how best to ambush you or interfere with your plans. If they are incompetent, they probably have connections or friends in low places whom they can call upon to make your life more miserable than necessary while costing you far more than their initial fee.
  • Never wear new gloves to perform an old task. Likewise, never start a trip in new boots.

When circumstances dictate or an opportunity presents itself, it may be advantageous to do the following...

  • Sometimes it is better to love and lose than to hate and win, but that is philosophy and few have much patience for such tripe. Best to keep philosophy to a minimum in public. It is bad luck to enter into serious arguments without the soothing balm of good food and the social lubrication of liquor. Hungry, sober people make poor philosophers, lousy debaters, and worse audiences.
  • Only ever leave something to the experts if they are working on your behalf, or you have effective leverage over their actions. The second-best academic or authority is often far more pliable, amenable and susceptible to an entreaty, offer or request than the pre-eminent scholar or most respected author on a particular subject.
  • On occasion it can be beneficial to show kindness to strangers, so long as you are prepared to confront the unkindness of strangers, neighbors or your own kin in return.
  • Sometimes even the basest, foulest, most ridiculous rumor, lie or innuendo is preferable to the bald truth.
  • Only take-up protection against that which you feel is warranted -- of course it is often difficult to tell what is truly warranted or needful or appropriate until after things have run their course...after which time it is too late to take up any further such protection. So choose as best you can, then let it be; either you've chosen well, or you'll just have to do your best to muddle through.
  • Sometimes it is better to study another language than to rush to acquire a new spell.
  • Generosity will overcome most social ills, but it might cost dearly. Fear, however, will often serve as a more immediately useful goad to action, but where past generosity might accrue some benefit from the recipient's tardy recollection, fear never bears remembering and is seldom recalled without stirring up feelings of vengeance and wrath.
  • Sometimes even an ignorant lout has a better grasp of the fickle nature of fate, destiny, or luck than any prognosticator, diviner, scryer or the like.
  • Fire doesn't always kill everything. Pay attention. All things have vulnerabilities, if you but know where to look, what questions to ask, and apply the principles of informed observation. It is for this reason that a well-prepared person will carry more than one kind of weapon, damage-inflicting utensil, or a range of harmful substances to test-out as called for by the prevailing circumstances. It is also a good idea to just not get in a fight with things you don't understand how to kill in the first place...if that is an option.

Last Month's Blog Carnival was hosted by Roleplaying Tips,
The theme was 'Short Dungeons & Adventures,
and you can find the Summary/Index post here.

The RPG Blog Carnival this month is hosted by the Of Dice and Dragons blog with the theme 'Superstitions.' Check out the RPG Blog Carnival page as well as the Archives for past Carnivals over at John Four's Role Playing Tips site.

From The Zones: Images From An Abandoned Camera (3)

Designation: Grimslick
Status: Active, Peripheral, (Possible Tampering)

Grimslicks have quickly become notorious hazards encountered upon nearly any sort of concrete surface whether horizontal or vertical. Contact with these slowly fluctuating patches of viscous fluid results in severe, sudden alterations in ones inertia that tend to be aligned to the surface area of the Grimslick. Touch the stuff and you get thrown hundreds of yards at very high speed. This rapid acceleration can also be used to fling inanimate objects at opponents, similar to how one might skip a flt rock across the surface of a pond. Recently there have been unverified reports of  unidentified forces within the Zones that have begun to employ Grimslicks as makeshift boobytraps.

Designation: Clumps
Status: Passive, Peripheral, Reactive

Moss is usually fairly innocuous, except for the Clumps recently encountered in the rockier areas North of the surveyed sectors. These Clumps appear to be serving as some sort of anchor for what have been designated 'Sheerfields,' mostly transparent fields of force that form a razor-sharp edge along one spatial axis. These Sheerfields tend to get slightly more distinct close to the Clump that anchors them, at least according to initial tests.

Designation: Soggy Boards
Status: Passive, Fixed, Erratic

Despite several accounts that have now been un-redacted and re-admitted to the general survey, the phenomena now designated 'Soggy Boards' still elicits serious amounts of skepticism from those who have not yet encountered them. Very little has been verified at this time, but is is alleged by multiple survivors that these anomalies tend to manifest along boardwalks and some wooden structures such as dilapidated bridges and walkways and that somehow the super-saturated boards seep across distances of over a thousand miles. No one has survived the transition from one instance to another of the Soggy Boards, but there is high confidence that with proper analysis and sampling these anomalies may become very useful for rapid transport or evacuation purposes...

From the Zones is a community project hosted by John Till over at the FATEsf blog. This community project is inspired by the novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, which was the basis for the movie Stalker.

There is a handy index of the current Field Reports from the Zones that features posts from across the Blog-o-sphere, as well as a nifty guide explaining how you can participate in this ongoing Community Project.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sector T-3: Report Two (Kepler 22-B/Strange New World)

Kepler 22-B is a Super-Earth that orbits within the Kepler 22 solar system's Habitable Zone (at 0.849 AU). It is one of the earliest confirmed Exoplanets located 600 light years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation. The Strange New World blog is coordinating a collaborative effort to map and explore Kepler 22-B as an environment suitable for table-top role-playing games.

Sector T-3 occupies a rocky, mountainous region with warm Mediterranean coasts with a few large freshwater lakes and is dominated by vast, dense forests that are book-ended by two distinctly different desert regions. We have only begun to explore this region...

Kepler 22-B: Sector T-3
Situation Report Two
Northwest Quadrant

<Breach Detected-->
-o-Security Protocol 17v5b7999p4s358-INIT45.6-o-
<<NavSec Compromised>>
Continue? [Y/N]


[Transmission Begins]

Colonists have begun to make the descent from orbit earlier this week, now that the Loop has been completed after numerous delays and various acts of sabotage. Autonomous units have begun the work of dismantling the first arkship to supplement the infrastructure efforts on the nearest moon and the asteroids now parked in trojan orbits. Replication of essential systems is proceeded according to plan.

Primary lunar habitat has been designated 'Verdecurd' despite intense objections by MilSec Command, the Industrial Relations Board, and the Secondary Council for Colonial Affairs. Some jackass entered the name as a joke and now we're stuck with it.

The Loop is currently operating at 30% capacity. ForbinCorp AI Projects an increase of another 20% by month's end. It is expected to be fully operational within the next two months. There have been no more acts of sabotage since the coordinated drone-strikes in the South West Quadrant.

Survey drones and aerostats have been working along the eastern boundary of our assigned sector. Initial resource assessments, reconnaissance imaging, and sampling missions have yielded seventeen potential colonization sites, twenty eight locations designated to be of Significant Potential Interest by the Developers, and thirty four sites that qualify as Anomalous.

End of Report--

<Backspool Blocked>
-o-Security Protocol 17v5b7999p4s358-OVERRIDE-
<<IndSec Compromised>>
Terminate? [Y/N]


[Transmission Ends]

Sector T-3 Intro | Sector T-3 Index