Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Afterlife of the Shadowend

Beings in the Shadowend are composed of three parts: body, or corpus; mind, or spirit, called the essae; and soul, or vitae. The body, the physical aspect of a person, is exactly as one would expect. The mind, or essae is not just the conscious thoughts of a person but their essence; the "themness" of them. The soul, or vitae, is the animating force, the "aliveness".  

Death is a discarding of the body and a migration of the soul and the spirit. Unless interrupted, these travel by various means and ways to Orod's realm, where the two are separated and the soul remains. The passage to his realm can take some time, and the dead are vulnerable during this time, but may also be recalled to life or contacted with relative ease. 

Accounts have described the souls as candles, illuminated jars, or crystal stars; these are gathered and guarded by Orod until such time as Aeva, the Lady of Life, calls for them to return to the Wyrld. They are sometimes stolen by necromantic magic and used to animate undead constructs.

After travelling through Orod's realm, only the essae remain. Hitherto the dead appear as they did in life; now they assume somewhat lesser forms. Faithful dead are gathered by their deity or its servants; others are dispersed to the various petty realms, usually (but not always) under the care of Aeva or another protective divinity. Spirits attacked and killed in the petty realms reform whole and intact within a day. Spirits assigned to a realm reform there; manes generally reform in the realm that they died in, but occasionally in other random places (it makes no difference to them, really).

Lares: Good, virtuous, and beneficent spirits become lares.  Lares resemble themselves in the fullest bloom of life and health, but viewed from behind are hollow, lacking their vitae. Despite this they are happy and content, dwelling in the petty realms much as they did while alive, but without disease, hunger, or woe. Some, the penates, find themselves returned to the Wyrld as guardian spirits of their family or clan; others, the einherjar, become crusaders against their foes, the baleful spirits of lemures and fiends. 

Lemures: Malicious, cruel, or vengeful spirits become lemures, hollow waxen creatures with melted features. Faithful lemures are gathered by their patron deities; others are seized by whoever can take them and carried off. Some manage to return to the Wyrld and plague the living as undead, but most fall into the "care" of various fiends, where their experience is much as one would expect. Lemures universally hate and envy lares, and continually seek out ways to find and destroy them.

Manes: People who were neither particularly good nor evil become manes. Like lares, manes resemble their living form, except manes are hollow from the front, faceless and empty-torsoed. They instinctively keep this concealed from others, usually by turning their back, but occasionally by wearing concealing robes and masks. This affects their movement and perception not at all.  They can be encountered almost anywhere among the petty planes, but generally lack motivation or desire. They may act much as they did in life, but without a care for success or failure. Others simply wander, acting out a deep-rooted dissatisfaction with their bland existence. 


I don't usually crib wholesale from existing mythology (I prefer to steal it piecemeal), but this just clicked for me. I was thinking about the "petty realms" of the gods (and other beings), and specifically Broken Emr. As (technically) an "outer plane", it seemed some spirits of the dead might be found there, but Enyo doesn't care about the dead, so they had to be placed there by some other semi-random mechanism. (The whole "death is just like life" aspect of the Planescape Campaign Setting always REALLY bothered me.) Then I had an image of a spirit that you could only view from behind; a spirit lacking. Thus, manes. The tri-part identity is rooted back in college.

The many, many divinities of the Shadowend practically dictate that most people worship the gods collectively, favoring whichever is most applicable to the current endeavor. Thus, people with a patron deity are relatively rare. Most people are simply "one of the dead".

Aspects of the Shadowend afterlife are still in development; fiends and celestials are not evolved spirits, for instance, but some of the races that sprang up in the footsteps of the Elder Host when they first came into the Wyrld. Still, it ought to be possible for a particularly accomplished spirit to become something like that. Not sure that's a question that NEEDs to be answered anytime soon, though.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

3e Remnants

 I decided to compile and release all the various 3e things I've done over the years. Most of them were already in one of two documents, and it's a totally bare-bones effort - I even used a stock Word cover page. My goal is to clear my metaphorical desk and move past this stuff!

I broke them into four files: Monster Templates; Monsters; Character Lore; and Magical Lore. Templates and Monsters are 32 pages each (4 pages of cover/ToC/OGL); Character Lore is 24 pages; Magical Lore is 20 pages. Right now any effort to throw art in seems like too much, but I might do it for Character & Magical Lore (easier to use stock art in those).

I just uploaded Monster Templates to DrivethruRPG and will post a link when it goes live. My inclination is to do one a week.  $1.99 for this and Monsters; probably a little less for the other two.

"3e Remnants: Monster Templates is a collection of 15 monster templates and 10 sample creatures for 3.x and compatible RPG systems.  These templates were written between 2000 and 2010 for my home campaign.  Rather than let them continue to gather dust on my hard drive, I decided to compile and release them in the hope others will find them useful and enjoyable. 

The following templates are included: Ancient One; Blind Horror; Cloud Creature; Daemanthrope; Equitus Creature; Half-Equitus; Half-Nomos; Half-Shambolic; Half-Sphinx (plus Half-Andro/Crio/Gyno/Hieracosphinx variants); Lokiskinder; Mi'Raj; Mundane Beast (and the Mindless Beast variant); Nomos Creature; Shambolic Creature; Warmonger. Several entries have new or sample creatures and adventure hooks. 

This is an OGL product and all text is OGL except the names Xevber, Azezel, and Darkwater Press."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Feral Fey

 There are lots of homebound fey spirits in mythology and folklore. Lots and lots and lots. Which makes sense; that's the most important place and most occupied place in everyone's life. But how do they translate into an RPG, which is (lets face it) generally about conflict?

There are a lot of ruins in D&D and similar games. And a lot of ruins in real life. Without modern building materials, buildings decayed and fell apart. Streams moved, families died out or went elsewhere. What happens to the fey of those places?

They go feral. Spriggan. Redcaps. Buckawn. Field fey that are left with gifts and a good-bye party might dwindle and become grig or pixies. Those abandoned become will-o-wisps.

Neutral or good fey might be domesticated or reclaimed if people return, but fey that have "gone sour" must be removed before a field or foundation may be reclaimed. And that is an adventure. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Planar Domains I: Broken Emr

 Broken Emr, The Domain of Enyo the Leveller

Emr  is a land of rubble and ruin, of shattered cities and tumbled walls. Scrape the ground anywhere in Emr and you’ll uncover a road, or patio, or foundation. Carvings and writings are worn to indecipherability; paintings and murals little more than scraps of color hinting at what they might have been. Springs flow from broken fountains, forming streams and rivers that course through canyons of worked stone. Trees break through cobbled streets, and vines pull inexorably at the remaining walls.

Enyo seemingly takes little notice of who lives in Emr, and it is relatively safe by most standards. Its principal inhabitants are scavengers, hunter/gatherers, and beasts of all sorts. These live by their nature, ignoring visitors unless hungry, or tempted by something they’ve brought from outside. Building and constructing is the only taboo in Emr; erecting any sort of permanent structure immediately draws the attention and wrath of all nearby natives, who will attack and destroy any such attempts.

Artificial and worked materials more complex than leather, pottery, or simple knits degrade quickly in Emr. Even iron, if worked, rusts to uselessness within a decade. Spells and magic items that create or preserve physical items (including structures) do not operate, and may lose puissance and become wholly powerless if they remain in Emr too long.

Entering Emr is achieved from within a ruined structure, where the appropriate spell must be cast. and each person seeking entrance must destroy an object of value. There is little traditional treasure in Emr, but it is believed that every ruin there is the mirror of one in the Wyrld, and searching one can give clues to the other. Broken Emr can also serve as a shortcut: two ruins many miles apart in the real Wyrld might be adjacent in Emr, and travelers can enter through one and depart via another. Finally, no few people have found Emr a useful place of exile or seclusion. The One Tree, Gray Road, and Wyrldflow also touch upon Emr.

Encounters in Emr

Emr can be considered a stereotypical wilderness, except fey and undead are very rare and there are no organized societies beyond small tribes.
  • Orbin Scalmon (hm F7) and his surviving retinue (2 guards, 1 sergeant, and a cleric of Adosil who is secretly Orbin’s bastard sibling). They are searching for clues to the rumored treasure-laden subterranean vaults beneath his deposed family’s ancestral castle, slighted nearly two centuries ago. They’ve been here a month without success supplies are gone, clothing in tatters, and desperately want to get out. They are being followed by a pair of ogres who are anticipating a good meal or two.
  • The Vermilion Locket, a cog-type ship that travels the myriad branches of Wyrldflow, has gone aground in Emr. Ships travelling the Wyrldflow are typically immune to Emr's deleterious effects, but the Vermilion Locket is aground and Emr has begun to shift the channel of the Wyrldflow away from the stranded ship. The characters are dispatched to locate the ship and its Very Important Passenger (which might be a royal bride; an evil cleric; a powerful magic item being sent as a bribe or payment...). They're not the only party searching: the owners are looking for the ship, and a faction opposed to the characters' is also closing in (who is looking to rescue the passenger, and who is looking to stymie any rescue, is left up to the GM).
  • A mongrelfolk hunting party, with 3d4 members and 1d4 hyena companions. The mongrelfolk aren't interested in eating them, but a bit of robbery is fine. The hyenas have no such compunctions and may circle back once the party is weaponless and devoid of armor....
  • 1d4 stinking leucrota, screaming and shrieking at each other. They aren't particularly hungry, but absolutely won't pass up a chance to torment the party by following them for a day or two.
  • A regal leonine lamia and her two sniveling jackalwere servants. The lamia is finding it hard to live in the luxury she prefers, since everything keeps rotting, and is willing to bargain in exchange for a way out of Broken Emr. The jackalweres like it here, and may not support their mistress's plans to leave.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Typhos I: The Leveller



The Leveller, Scatterer of Stones

AoC: Destruction of Cities & Civilization
Symbol: A foot crushing a building
Allies: Tamati, Talabas, Samaan
Enemies: Ados, Kaduv, Madate, Palanar
Avatar: Barbarian 20/Fighter 10

Enyo takes the form of a heavily armored woman of near-giantish height, or a thick-plated monstrosity large enough to topple towers and city walls. In humanoid form she uses her powerful fists to smash opponents. In ancient days she sometimes appeared as a woman carved of stone bearing a two-handed greatmace called Nem, or Breaker, but that avatar has not been seen in many centuries.

The Leveller is a great and ancient Typhosian power, strong enough to surpass most Envidier and rival many of the Dalerain. She is the child of Tamati and Samaan, and serves both of them when they wish it, destroying cities and towns, scattering people, and erasing their works. She is capable of subtlety and patience, particularly when serving the Forestlord, whose plans tend to grow slowly but steadily, like trees, but better known for the devastation and destruction she brings in the Bloody Queen’s service.

Enyo’s own goals are hard to discern. Unlike most Typhos, she serves her parents willingly when called and otherwise keeps to herself. In keeping with her nature she has no dwelling or court but simply travels the wild places of the world, sleeping under the trees and stars like the force of nature that she is.

Enyo occasionally creates monstrous beings or races devoted to destruction; certainly the bulette is hers, but also the rust monster and disenchanter. She may empower ogres and giants; those touched by her wrap themselves in armor or chains and set out to destroy. She is a scholar of siege machines and siege warfare, and sought for that information (although those seeking it try not to draw her attention to their own castles and cities). She is equally often called upon by nihilists, vengeance-seekers, and zealots of nature.

Cult Servitors: Servitors of Enyo summoned by her cultists appear as heavily armored monstrosities (see Bulette, Monstrosities pg.54; CL varies*) or statuesque women of bronze or stone (see Chalkeion, Monstrosities, pg.64; CL 5, 6,7, or 11; or Caryatid Column, Tome of Horrors pg.83; CL 7) and can have the following special abilities: Extra Attack (+1 CL), Improved Armor Class (+1 CL), Improved Damage (+1 CL), Magic Resistance 25% (+1 CL).

 *The bulette’s Challenge Level is increased by one for purposes of summoning as a servitor.