Sunday, October 28, 2012

Artifacts & Items of Power

Culm: A medium shield crafted all of iron, Culm bears no emblem.  Any attempt to paint or inscribe an emblem on the shield is destroyed the first time the shield is wielded in combat.
When Culm blocks a blow in combat, the shield reverberates and booms like thunder.  The wielder and anyone standing behind him are immune to the effects of these cacophony; those in front are not so lucky.
If the wielder strikes Culm with his weapon, or beats on it like a drum,  Culm sends forth low, rolling peals of thunder capable of instilling a potent magical fear in the enemy and sending them fleeing.  If Culm is struck by an opponent, the thunder is far more potent.  The weapon which struck the shield is often destroyed, and the weapon's wielder is wounded and deafened by the noise.  Those in the area of Culm also suffer injury, and may be struck deaf as well. 

Iedain, Crown of Songs: This fabled headpiece resembles no conventional crown.  Said to be formed of songs made solid, the Crown of Songs appears as a band of shimmering light, broken by 9 evenly-spaced transparent crystals.  A 10th crystal hangs over the bearer's head, and lines of magical force link it to the 9 crystals about the band.  The Crown grants the ability to sing without flaw or imperfection, and that singing can charm women and men, bring the beasts of field and forest, and even bind the emotionless creatures of the elements to the bearer's will.  The Crown of Songs is said to be a seductive artifact, however, and those careless with it may find themselves to sing more and more frequently as they grow to love their own voice above anything, until they eventually waste away, unable to stop singing for a moment.
Iedain may also be recognized by the soft and gentle murmur of voices that surround it; these voices are soothing in the extreme, and if the Crown is masterless, the voices often bring an enchanted sleep on those who encounter it, leaving them easy prey for less intelligent and susceptible predators.
Tetallia Silver-Tongued was the last known bearer of the Crown of Songs; she frequented the Hollow Land hunting linwurms in the Kameurhorns until her death in an unknown lair.

Telsingem: A longspear with an distinctive curved blade, Telsingem was crafted by a faerilven runesmith over a thousand years ago.  The shaft is of a dark brown wood as hard as iron; the blade is iron intermingled with mithril, streams of brown in a gleaming silver surface.
Telsingem has long circulated in the Reachlands.  It is was last in the possession of Kurmolt of Kurmolt’s Band, a mercenary/adventuring company that disappeared in the Woodmarches a decade ago.
       Telsingem is a +2 longspear that grants the wielder a +5 circumstance bonus to Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks when in hand.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tefplanz Expanded

Tefplanz:This fertile floodplain is the exclusive domain of Innergild. Canals and dikes crisscross the landscape, controlling flooding and turning the marshy land into arable fields. The border between the Tefplanz and the Middurplanz is heavily fortified and humanoid threats are rare, but ankheg attacks are increasing.

Law and order in the Tefplanz is ostensibly under the control of the Council of Innergild, but in truth the council has ceded control to the local rulers of each settlement, with no central oversight.  The Doredain heritage of the natives make them basically law-abiding and peaceful (if somewhat xenophobic), but there are many opportunities for graft and low-level corruption.  The Tefplanzers consider themselves bound by a common culture and against a common foe (everything east and north of the Middurplanz), but each town and village manages its own affairs.  The Rytteren patrol the roads under the badge of Innergild, but their mercenary status and foreign origins have prevent them from establishing effective relations with local authorities.

Sign of the Three Pigs: This massive, sprawling hostel lies on the Cilnoc-Narnigar road a short distance from the Middurplanz border, and is well known as a place of rest, refuge, and information. The owner, Odlef der Groot, brews his own ale, and has won numerous brewing competitions.

Unbeknownst to anyone in the Tefplanz, Odlef had a relatively successful (he didn't die) first career as a sellsword, looting and pillaging his way across foreign lands for coin before opting for anonymity and the quiet life back in his homeland.  One result of this earlier profession, however, were several half-orc children.  Their mother, also a mercenary, died several years ago, but the children have grown up big, strong, brutal, and nasty.  At least two of them can pass for human, and they have located Odlef and hatched a plan to blackmail him at best, or rob and kill him at worse.  Odlef's new (human) family will die in either case.  The half-orcs don't really have deep personal grudges against Odlef, but they feel like they should make the motions of avenging their mother ( they're not sure for what exactly, but it sounds good and humanish); they have enough evidence to make things hard for Odlef; and it seems like a easy way to make some coin.

The Spectre of Ylg Bridge: The road from the Tefplanz to Narnigar is one of the most heavily traveled routes in the Near North, and the bridge here undergoes regular repairs to the damage from winter ice and spring floods.  A death or two is not unknown during these repairs (victims lost to the river are referred to as Ylg's Toll), and this last year was no exception.  Two laborers were dragged into the river and lost when a load of stone came loose.  Rites were said, and work continued as usual and without disturbance.

Oda Floriswif was widow of one of the workers.  A naturally spiteful and angry woman, she grew bitter, vile, and vengeful after the death of her husband, and followed him into death only a few months later.  The cause of her passing is likely natural (she was well into middle age), but those who knew her attribute it to a personality overflowing with bile and venom.  Ironically, her husband, whose corpse is entombed in mud at the bottom of the Ylg,  beneath the stone block that swept him off the bridge to his death, rests peacefully.  Oda, laid with full rites in sanctified ground, has just returned as a spectre.

Oda's haunting ground extends slightly beyond the bridge on either side.  She killed both of the bridge keepers on the first night of her return, and several more since then. The bridge has become slippery and treacherous even during daylight hours, and animals refuse to cross it.  Traffic has shriveled as a result, and tolls have declined.  The only way to appease Oda is to exhume Floris's corpse from the river and inter it beside her, along with a payment of at least several hundred gold pieces (Oda thinks the weregild she received after Floris's death was woefully, insultingly insufficient, and her opinion of what is "rightfully hers" has only risen over time.) The money must be publicly acknowledged as hers, and laid in her grave, in common coinage (no jewels, fancy figurines, or other object d'art; Oda was a simple, albeit greedy, woman, and retains that simplicity in undeath).  The public acknowledgement is as important to Oda as the payment itself.

Several factors make the matter even more complicated:
- The ferrymen who operate near the bridge are not exactly upset about the dramatic increase in their business.  They won't openly admit to supporting the spectre, but they're not above a little sabotage to keep the bridge closed, and adventurers venturing underwater are obvious targets.
- Scrags, nixies, and a number of other aquatic monsters frequently travel along the Ylg.
- Oda's gravebound weregild will be a rich and easy target for thieves.  Oda, in her typically perverse and misanthropic manner, will announce the loss of her weregild by haunting and killing on the bridge, leaving the thief to make his escape.
- And finally, there might be some real truth to the mention of Ylg's Toll.  It's considered nothing more than an idle saying, and no one gives it much thought, but the consequences of taking Floris's body back from the river could be far worse than a single spectre, and far broader in scope.