Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LONE PINE HILL


Lone Pine Hill is visible from several miles in each direction.  On the Eastern side of the Kos River Valley, it rises from the surrounding gently sloped valley-floor.  Atop the hillock is a pine, ancient and vast.  It crawls upward, gnarl upon gnarl, a dense titan bristling with dark needles, hundreds of feet high and host to a self-contained ecosystem.

The undisputed master of that ecosystem is the White Serpus of Lone Pine Hill.  Albino and blue-eyed, it spends its days nestled in and amongst the innumerable curving boughs of the Lone Pine, descending only to destroy and devour anything larger than a Murder-Crow that passes beneath its home.

Once, the Serpus was a beautiful young woman.  Her lover traveled far away to war and never returned.  She waited by the Lone Pine until finally her spirit, fetted with jealously at the thought of him finding another, transformed her into a Serpus.  Since then, she has waited in the timeless manner of the Serpus for her lover to return.  Unfortunately, the mind of the Serpus has largely taken control by now, causing her to coil and to choke, to strangle and to envenom and to feed, and to spend dreaming decades in reptilian stupor, dreaming of her lost love.

The Serpus will not attack a young male warrior who does not attack her first.  Instead, she will descend silently and stare with bright blue eyes directly into his face until he does something.  If he treats her with kindness, he may be able to keep her as a "pet".
The only way to transform the Serpus back into the woman she once was is to pronounce (truthfully) that you love her at the Island-Temple at Par-Kos.

Amidst the tangled roots of the Pine lie half-bured the detritus of the Serpus.  Most of it consists of crinkly shed skin and the occasional animal bone or Lowder husk, but wedged between two massive roots is the skeleton of a Far-Traveler from the late 19th Century.  His corpse bears a large silver belt buckle attached to a shred of leather belt, and an antique (but still functional) .50 caliber revolver containing 2 spent shells and 4 unspent shells (should be treated as a magic item - non-Earthlings probably will not immediately grasp how it functions.  Medium range, deals 2d6 damage) along with a Bowie knife (treat as non-magical Dagger +1).  He also wears a gold ring on one finger and a pair of steel spurs.  Other than that, only a few buttons remain.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

STAR EATER

This is a magic sword for my Pendragon of Mars campaign.

THE RELIC SWORD
"Star-Eater" is an ancient electro-sword from before the Apocalypse.  It can function as a normal sword, but this is not the true power.
STAR-EATER can be sheathed in a powerful electric field similar in design to a particle shield, which allows it to slice through any object.  Unlike a regular particle shield, STAR-EATER grows more powerful when it contacts extreme heat, energy, or kinetic force.
In addition, STAR-EATER contains a highly advanced onboard AI.  To activate this AI, several wires which hang from the pommel must be inserted into the wielder's nerve-endings.  Once this is done, the mind of the sword and the mind of the wielder become one.  The Sword is laden with complex spatial cognition algorithms.  When properly connected, the user can make Personal Combat checks at +10 and can also use the Sword to absorb incoming plasma blasts or laser beams.  As the sword absorbs more energy, it gains greater combat bonuses.
The Sword uses up a Type A energy cell every other round when the field is activated, except rounds in which it absorbs energy.  If the Sword is plugged into the wielder, it requires no energy cells (it instead draws from the life-force of the wielder).
Some say that the Sword is cursed, and will cause only destruction and ruin to all around it.  Every time STAR-EATER is plugged into the wielder's nervous system, he must take a check for trait: VENGEFUL

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NEWS & GOSSIP in KOS

NEWS

Every town or city should have a random chart for news, which in turn provides opportunities for adventures.  These charts can also be used for gossip rolls, which some adventurers are wont to seek in every tavern large and small.  Or really any other time you feel lazy being a sandbox DM

if the Party stays in a certain settlement for a while, more News items should be added to each list.

Each chart should have the same 3 categories:
roll 1d3 per news/gossip
1. GOOD NEWS
2. TERRIBLE NEWS
3. SUPERNATURAL NEWS

Here's an incomplete example for the small caravanserai of PILGRIM'S PASSING:

GOODS NEWS!
1. "The new axe in Piku's shop is the finest I have yet seen.  I watched him shave Nahvarok with it, and  even Nahvarok had to laugh."
2. "The domesticated Carnivorous Goats are breeding rapidly - perhaps too rapidly."
3. "The Trader Jah is in town!  O Happy day! He brings always the finest goods from far-off lands, and never gives a bad deal.  The young people will be happy tonight when he opens his market in the center square.  I've heard Iaello may open one of his most hallucinatory fig wines."
4. "As I came here, I passed a Holy Man of God-Kos sitting by the side of the road.  He seemed lost in prayer, but had a small basket in front of him."
5. "Shearing Day is here!  It is time for all in the village to help wrangle and shear the female Canivorous Goats."
6. "Today is the Blessing-Day of Kos.  We must all go to the river to be re-baptized, to protect our village for another year.  Will you come/watch my insane bedridden grandfather/serve as an acolyte?"
7. "Today is the Thirteenth Ide of Io!  Free whippings and prostitutes for all!"
8. "The Loe River Clan have their basket-boats in the town harbor.  They are offering pearls and other strange things in return for metal."
9. "A minstrel is playing songs in Iaello's drinking house!  He appears a well-traveled fellow, and his voice is deep but pleasant.  He has an ear for tragedies and great deeds."
10. "Flax Harvest day!  Rhynt the Elder has demanded that all women take the traditional role of guarding the men while they harvest the Flax. (or vice versa)
11. "Did you see the Loean Barge at the docks?  By the Blank Face, I've rarely seen such riches!"
12. "A Road-Tribe is passing through town.  It's always worth seeing their bizarre walking houses, even if their goods are mostly junk."
13. "The Floods have come!   Quickly, retreat to the rooftops!  Today is a day of partying and celebration!"
14. "A Show-Barge is in town!  I always feel like a little child again when the Show-Barges come."
15. "A Harvestman named Logo was gone for a while.  We feared him dead, but he returned with powerful objects.  He said that he said seen strange things beneath the White Mounds, and was ready to go again."
ETC etc etc

TERRIBLE NEWS!
1. "Someone has stolen the Silent Girl!
2. "There is a duellist pacing around in the town square.  He says he seeks a worthy foe.  Sherriff Dronlan Three-Swords will probably kill him soon."
3. "The handle to my shovel broke!  Fah... I'll have to cut a new one.  I hate to buy anything from the Wood Tribe."
4. "A minstrel has appeared at Iaello's Drinking House.  He is quite handsome and has a fine tenor.  I have a feeling there will be jealous men tonight."
5. "I'm worried about Abor the Gong-Man.  He pleaded for higher wages, Elder Rhynt denied him.  Now, he seems to spend all his time moping at the Drinking House or alone."
6. "It's time for the Flax Planting.  All hands are needed - both to plant the seeds and to fight off monsters."
7. "A Toad-Man Bully has shown up in town.  He's pushed several people around on the street and hit one man with a broken shovel-handle.  Now he sits in Iaello's Drinking House, demanding free wine and picking fights with everyone.  Everybody's too scared to do anything about it, and Sherriff Dronlan Three-Swords is in one of his moods."
8. "Rooster the Red Merchant is in town.  He always has rare things, but I would count my fingers after meeting him.  The mothers had better lock up their daughters."
9. RAID!
...etc ...etc

SUPERNATURAL NEWS!
1. "I saw a Goblin last night.  It was in my shelf, watching me.  I threw a good blanket over the shelf, but he only watched me from beneath.  I sang loudly, blinked three times, and crossed my eyes at him.  After that, I could tell he was harmless, but he continued watching me all night and gave me nightmares."
2. "There are far more Ravens than usual.  Either Rhialto is planning something, or we're in for bloodshed soon."
3. "A Ghost has inhabited Five's farm!  He tried to chase it out by throwing rocks and shouting, but it did not work.  Nobody knows what to do - he can't go home."
4. etc etec 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

DOMESTICATED BEASTS of KOS

DOMESTICATED BEASTS of KOS
A Beast is a creature which is too large or strange to be an animal.

1. Herd Beasts - very important for labor + trade.  large, stupid and slow, good for hauling carts & meat. this term is used to describe any livestock kept for the aforementioned purposes. endlessly proliferate pagentries of horns, frills and antlers.
2. Carnivorous Goat - goats have evolved to eat anything, including humans.   Swift omnivorous scavengers with 6 legs, crab-like shell on the back, and fangs.  Produce sweet milk and wool, and are thus kept as livestock despite their dangerous nature.  Steamed legs are a delicacy
3. Pack-Lizard - large, slow-moving lizard used for desert travel.
4. Riding Lizard - deinonychus-sized speedy predators, used as deadly light calvary
5. Riding Bird - exceedingly swift, can fly in short bursts and uses wings to propel self when running or jumping.  used as courier mounts
6. Blood-Beast - provides nourishing blood, useful for drinking in lieu of water.  Nutritious Blood can also ferment to form a thick alcoholic slurry, or mixed with ground grains to provide a protein-rich gruel.  This gruel is sometimes boiled in cases made in the small carapace of the Blood-Beast's thorax, and then allowed to congeal into Blood Pudding - a rare treat on the march.  Immobile and otherwise almost worthless
7. The Chained Artifact
8. Scrap-Beast - road-tribes sometimes construct these golem-like creatures from scrap wood, small structures, and bits and pieces of other large animals.  Family groupings then live atop and travel upon these ungainly engines
9. Armor-Beast - large and loud mixture of insect, dinosaur, crustacean and pachyderm.  Used as steeds for ultra-heavy shock cavalry, or goaded forth as living siege engines. long, banner-like tails slowly change color to match the coat-of-arms of the owner
10. Pavilion-Monsters - large pachyderms outfitted with various spikes, hooks, palisades and fighting platforms to deter attackers.  Used as mobile fortifications and personnel carriers during battle.
11. The Tower-Monster - local name for a enormous brachiosaurus with a small keep built onto its back
12. Riding Snail - very slow, but able to crawl up vertical surfaces.  retracts into shell when it perceives danger, whether the owner would prefer or not

Thursday, October 3, 2013

the GREAT CATACLYSM & the UNDERWORLD

It's tough to write about the Great Cataclysm.
For one thing, it's technically still happening.  Adventures in Kos are the story of the ongoing defunction of a once-grand and noble people.  The other reason is, the Cataclysm affected physical, universal laws (such as time, causation and correlation, chemistry, physics, genetics, etc).  Therefore, it is difficult to describe.
For example: in some places, the Great Cataclysm is still happening.  It happened hours ago.  The dead rose from their graves.  The oceans began turning to shrieking squalls of red blood as the mountains shattered.
Poets, drug addicts and evangelists went insane by the thousands.  Every apocalyptic prophecy turned out to be true simultaneously.  The men and women of those places are still fighting the war.
In other places, the Cataclysm happened 40 or 50 years ago.  Pre-Cataclysmic technology is considered magical, and effectively is.  Man has descended to a primitive state, little better than apes.
In yet other places, the Cataclysm was generations ago. Civilizations are beginning to rise, resembling the old ones in some ways but substantially different in others.
In still other places, the ancient monuments have dwelt long to lonely marble mounds.  The dust that once composed them is carried by wind and wave to places unrecognizable by an inhabitant of the forgotten former world.
Pre-Cataclysmic knowledge is largely mythical.  "Sorcery" is simply a method of manipulating the illogical physics which compose this brave new world, like a programmer "hacking" a computer.  Bizarre and competitive new species (and even worse things) have arisen, seriously challenging the future existence of mankind.

Most of Kos, as I have written it so far, takes place in one or two of the latter categories.  the town of Pilgrim's Passing occupies a relatively neutral area, as does the majority of the Kos River Basin and the surrounding Wildwoods, Lands of Woe, and Harshwater on the West Side of the River.
However, Thrundunmun exists in such a situation that the Cataclysm is still taking place, and will do so forever in this place.
SUPPLEMENTAL NOTE:
"I have developed a habit where I simply lie in my bunk at night.  I'm not the only one who does, but I go in early.  I lie and I look at the ceiling and I picture it as the sky.  And I look at the stars that you see when you close your eyes, and imagine they are the stars, and I am looking at the sky, which we can no longer see. When I do this, I wonder if, in all of the coincidences that happen in the world, maybe you will be closing your eyes and doing the same thing, and looking at the stars inside your eyelids too, and - I know it makes no sense - somehow it will be like you and I are looking at real stars together again.  And so I go in early, to increase the odds it'll be at the same time.  I do it alot, actually; we don't sleep much any more.  There's not much time between attacks and other things that occupy the days which have no sunrise.
It's temporary, though, like everything.  The pain and fatigue are just temporary sensations.
It'll end, and it will seem like it wasn't that long ago, when we're together again."
Letter carried by Red Courier.  Delivered to a location which was found to have been abandoned.  Letter remanded to Secretary General of the Red Knights, Thrundunmunn.
 Nort B. Unthbe, 33rd Red Light Legion"

One area is in fact actually the rotting carcass of an incarnate being of physical decay, which occupies a space the size of a peninsula (such as Cape Cod or Cornwall).
Other areas are actually infinite.  The Endless Mountains, as far as can be ascertained via both experiment and magic, have no physical endpoint.  Neither does the 7th Desert of the 7 Deserts.
Nor the South-Land Sea, to the South.  The Eastern Mountain Country is poisonous to body and mind and thus considered forever unknown and unknowable

In an area like Pilgrim's Passing, the land called "Kos" is actually the area once occupied by a nation called the Kingdom of Kos, now shattered and irrevocable.  The few poor survivors of the disasters and the predations of savage new inhuman inhabitants must now contend with a vastly different world.  They are a hard people. Items and knowledge from before the Cataclysm are hoarded by the very powerful.  "Magic", (understood as the language and culture of the Pre-Cataclysmic People) is in the infancy of understanding, and largely misapplied (with disastrous consequences).
People receive rare reports from other communities but far-off lands are a mystery.  Yet, new religions have arisen from foreign lands to confront the ancient Kossick deities.  The barrens and even the roads have fallen into serious disrepair and are flocked with brigands, lunatics, witches, hungry beasts and monsters of all description.  They are not untraveled, but Merchants and other adventurers are often considered brave to the point of dangerous lunacy.
And yet, even as the White Mounds of the First Age wither into dust, there is yet no end.  The society of Kos will continue to slip away, forever, always leaving tantalizing pieces but growing farther every year. This is the true Curse of the Great Cataclysm: it made itself permanent, except in the ways that the players change it.  Those are not only permanent, but often permanent to all other players of Kos, and all interpretations of Kos, as long as I am the Dungeon Master.

In Pilgrim's Passing, the standard starting town, most people don't know this.  Most people don't figure stuff like this out until they've raided a few dungeons.




THE UNDERWORLD
The Underworld is literally the place underneath the world.  It is a Hell, populated by montrously otherworldly beings and the severely insane.  The Underworld is easy to find - go to the deepest place you know, and keep going down.  In the Deep Dark, everything drips downwards - all of the evil, all of the liquid, all of the corpses, all of the hunger, all of the treasure, all of the strongest and blackest.  At the bottom is the Grey Sea.  The Grey Sea is where the Unworthy go when they die.  It is a sea
made of their souls.  It can be navigated and traveled, by certain measures.  The places it leads to are terrible, and sometimes the terrible things in these places are able to get the World In Which We Live.  These are called "Bleed-Throughs", "Intrusions", "Demons", "Spirits", "Sandestins", etc.  They have a connection to the world of Death (they are always its vessels, unwitting or otherwise), and spread It everywhere they go.  Some take on human flesh as a vessel; others exist invisible to most eyes, and still others take on bizarre shapes of their own devising and understanding.  Some used to be human.  Some philosophers conjecture that it is these creatures who, in fact, rule the Underworld.  This may be.  The only way to escape the Grey Sea and the Underworld is to die in an interesting way - in which case, Adventurers (who are heroes by virtue of occupation - they always die in an interesting way) ascend to the Hall of Heroes*


*Which takes the form of a piece of notebook paper with the name of the dead character written large in crayon, with the method of their death and perhaps a few details or fond memories.  Occasionally they are adorned with extra distinguishment or salient comments from former comrades.  It is whispered that sometimes, those characters can even be contacted through certain complicated spells.
The piece of paper is kept tacked to the wall of the room where we play D&D

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

HOW ANIMALS (and lots of monsters) FIGHT (in Kos)

In ancient times, the Gods (in their wisdom) divided all animals & monsters into two types:

1. ANIMALS THAT LOVE TO STOMP & ROMP

2. ANIMALS THAT ALWAYS FLEE
the Gods aren't perfect, though, and most creatures do a mixture of both.


TYPE 1: ROMPIN' STOMPERS 
Those That Stomp use the Rampage Circle Style of Combat (some humans use this style too - including berserkers, Blood Bull worshipers, and other desperate / mentally unstable people).
the attack power of a Type 1 animal or monster (or a person using the Rampage Circle Style) is dependent on its size, strength, endurance, and desperation.
- Smaller than a medium dog: -1
- is pretty big and strong, like between a wolf and a tiger - +1
- is really big and strong, like a bear or a buffalo - +3
- is enormous and overwhelmingly strong, like a rhinocerous or a triceratops - +5
- is truly huge and monstrously strong, like a brontosaurus or an elder serpus - +8
- is unusually ferocious (tiger, hyena, displacer beast) - +1
- is unfathomably, unreasonably ferocious (troll-wolf, tyrannosaurus) - +2
- protecting young or a mate - +3
- wounded - +1
- badly wounded - +2
- in its lair - +1
- has powerful natural weapons, such as giant claws or powerful jaws - +1
- has supernatural weapons, such as acid for blood or firey breath - +3

Add up these bonuses.  This is the amount of "attacks" it can make.  Anybody entering its range is subject to these attacks.  The full total of the bonuses can be applied in one attack against one character, or it can be divided against a number of attackers.

OR, it can make a SPECIAL ATTACK.  these depend of the type of animal, but here's some example:

- POUNCE: monster jumps at you.  you get a free attack if you're aware of it and can respond, but if you're flat-footed, caught off guard, etc it's an automatic success.  animal can knock you down.  and at that point, you're on the ground with a tiger/bear/whatever on top of you

- CHARGE: bull through / over enemies, trampling them / knocking them down

- ATTACH TO VICTIM: some monsters tend to attach themselves to people - ticks grab on and suck blood, crocodiles bite + shake, wendigos grab and then strangle, etc.  usually, this involves an initial attack, and then further automatic damage every round until the victim finds a way to get it off OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF

- DIVE-BOMB: some creatures can fly, and this is often how they attack.  the dive-bomb involves swooping in, making an attack, and then swooping away.  the defender get an attack of opportunity, but only 1 attack per Fight mod (minimum 1).  if the dive-bomb is a natural 1, the attacker accidentally crashes into the ground or something. flying creatures don't normally end their turns in melee distance, so all you can do is attempt to shoot it or attack it as it dive bombs



- sting/venomous strike/breath weapon etc ???: the "everything else" category


TYPE II: THOSE THAT FLEE
will come later



ENCOUNTER ROLLS in KOS

An encounter has occurred in the Wilderness!

Encounter Chances by Area:
Road, near a town: 60% / turn
Road, wilderness: 15% / turn
Plains/Kos Basin: 15%
Marsh/Swamp: 20%
Badlands: 15%
Badlands, near Rampage Circle: 90%
East Broken-Back Mountains: 15%
North Broken-Back Mountains: 5%
Area near Ar-Kos: 25%
Northern Kos: 5%
Wildwood: 35%



(1d4, +/- fieldcraft mod of best fieldcrafter)
1: The Player-Characters are surprised.
2-3: Nobody is particularly surprised.
4: The monster is surprised.

(1d4 +/- terrain)
1: They're right in front of you (melee range)
 2, they're close (medium archery range).
3, kinda far (100 - 500 yards).
 4,+ Quite far (dots on the horizon).
Terrain:
Desert / Ocean: +2
Barrens, plains, rivers: +1
Rocks, roads, fields: 0
Towns, forest: -1
Jungle, swamp, city: -2


Unintelligent Beast/Monster/Animal Reactions
1d4.
1. they want to fight, right away (hungry or very threatened)
2. They will fight but will growl, menace, etc (normal animal behavior)
 3. they could give a fuck about you (eating, sleeping, mating, grooming, etc)
4. They run away or attempt to parley (cower, mimic human speech, offer treasure locations, etc)