Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DUNGEON MIX: Septet Upon Contanimus Caldera

Add like some treasure and key NPCS? Maybe some maps.
A strange village named Ecctrix has become something of a black hole for travelers. People check in, they don't check out. Missing people along the road is one thing but nobody from Ecctrix has been seen for weeks, either, missing even the local hog faire and the parade of discount gods in Gelmondo, the closest to a big city in the region. No birds fly out from Ecctrix. The stream that runs from Ecctrix through the forest is drying up, and the wood beasts are crawling from the brambles, thirsting, dying.

or

Ecctrix is the holiest and happiest of all cities. Any who wish to live closer to their gods, who wish harmony with nature, who wish to be great all the time, should come to Ecctrix. The sick and the dying will be whole and pure here. Criminals will be forgiven and find haven. All that you desire is in Ecctrix. So the gossip has spread, and people in dozens are deserting vital chores and key strategic posts to seek their fortune or clemency in Ecctrix. They must be brought back.

or

Ecctrix is filled with witches, heretics, blasphemers. It's said that they profane the normal gods and praise some new, horrible force. Some dark god builds its power in the south, drawing all its tendrils through the people, ready to tense and destroy and feed and move on to the wider world. This cancer must be cut.

or

Weeks ago there was a commotion in the villages of the valley, for it looked as if Contanimus the great horned mountain should erupt, spewing smoke and ash into the air for the first time in recorded history. The good people of Promontory were so certain of the dead peak they build their house upon it, a house now lost. An investigation must be carried out to ascertain what happened, assist any survivors, consecrate any dead, determine the toll of the damage and the cost of rebuilding this crucial vantage point, and (a small thing really) recover the resources and gold housed there, banked against the coming invasion. It's a treacherous climb now that the road is destroyed, and you'll need a guide or you'll never make it. Guides and provisions to undertake this important mission can be found in a village at its feet, named Ecctrix.

This is all a matter of perspective.

If Ecctrix is scryed the seer will witness their own death, usually in the caldera. They will survive all harm to befall them before then, just barely, but their fate cannot be prevented in any way.
If Ecctrix is viewed from a distance using spyglasses or some manner of optics a pastoral tableau is seen: children run in circles while holding hands, oxen plow fields, a man chops wood, people file into church. If it is viewed again later, describe it exactly the same. Exactly. Even if from a different angle. The children never stop circling, the church never gets full, the same row is furrowed forever...but after a while the woodcutter begins setting human legs and feet upend on the block to split.
If other planes and powers are consulted regarding Ecctrix you will learn two of these: 1-Everything is going to plan, 2- Nothing can be done to save Ecctrix, 3- Ecctrix is a place of pure evil; 1- Ecctrix must be destroyed, 2- Ecctrix means a new age for man and manlike, 3- Ecctrix is no more. The gods or monsters you consult will be hesitant to elaborate, moving in mysterious ways and shit, but if forced be as forthcoming as you feel given the rest of all this.
If you teleport into Ecctrix gain 1d10 mutations and have your Max HP set to 2. You are immune to all damage and magic, meaning you cannot heal or cure yourself. Every round that goes by without you attacking something reduces your HP by 1. You realize this the first time you lose HP. If you are reduced to 0HP or less you turn into a statue of pure pumice. If you are restored to flesh and life you are restored at 2 HP and the clock ticks over anew. You may be reincarnated, breaking the cycle, so long as you are out of Ecctrix.
If Ecctrix is thoroughly researched it will be found to be a peaceful hamlet, prizing faith and austerity. They historically shelter during times of trouble upon Promontory, and the village has been rebuilt many times. Thought now godsfearing, they are rumored to have once worshiped something called the Iron Baron.
If Ecctrix is prophesied of, or if its fortune is cast, give them the parentheticals in this statement only on a superior result: "Death comes (for all beneath the heel of the Lords of Ecctrix).The army (of tiger men) will fall. Only those worthy (of being food) shall achieve salvation. You (cannot) escape."
If you send your Familiar into Ecctrix without you it gains 3d10 mutations, 6HD (35 HP), and is no longer under your control in any way. It wants you to come and let it eat you so it may become you. You share whatever bonds you possessed but you are kind of dragged behind the boat, spiritually speaking.

RANDOM ENCOUNTERS OKAY?

1) Determine how far away Ecctrix is if you drop it into a map, or how many days you want it to take if you're just starting up. Do an encounter per day, plus one during the night before they arrive. 2) You could also do every six hours or so. 3) I'd just describe each day of the trip to Ecctrix in detail, trying to be all evocative and creepy, for a few minutes. Every time someone interrupted me for anything other than a question like "Did you say dire or fire?" we get a random encounter. After that I begin again. After a couple of these "The rest of the trip is uneventful."

On the Road to Ecctrix:

1. Tiger Man Scouts (4, one has 2HD and his nails confer diseases)
2. Feral children (3, 2HP, from farms near Ecctrix, abandoned by their parents)
3. The Needler, a sinister necromancer and jolly traveling salesman. He can put any spell he knows into your skin so you can cast it once a day. You choose the design he tattoos you with, size, location...in your dreams, this tattoo will try to kill you, whatever its form, like Ghozer. Handle like a waking combat. If you survive then upon waking you can cast that spell three times per day. If attacked, the Needler will try to poke you with one of his needles, and if you kill him his own face will appear in the wound. Then treat as above.
4. Bonewhite Priest-Chiefs of Murderchurch, 3d4, looking for a new place to erect a temple after theirs was destroyed.
5. Wolves who stay at bay if you pray. A bunch of 'em.
6. Blood. It's a big pool of it and it follows you. It never attacks, but if you act kindly it comes up around your feet.
7. Bandits on mushrooms. 1d7. One will have declared himself captain and have six light crossbows on him. They will attack and rob and even kill, maybe, because their primary aim is to get enough material to build their pirate ship. They are nowhere near even a large lake.
8. Three stone pillars, one higher than the rest, depicting shepherds. They cast twelve shadows. Out of three of these shadows may (1/d6) emerge carnivorous rams. Normal reaction roll.
9. The Stoat-Talking Woman
10. Traveling prostitutes. They will accompany you if you seem nice, and "accompany" you if you can pay in Tiger Man money. They aren't taking any chances.

In the Wood:
  1. Half-mad dryads, desperate to drink your tears. They appear and whisper horrible things to you.
  2. Woodcutter birds. Fiercely territorial of their nests. The strike of their beaks cuts through old growth like samurai swords through bamboo, raining down treetops.
  3. Forest coral. Everything cuts bare skin on contact. Everything is poisonous. Spiny squirrels nest in the purple ones.
  4. The mad stargazer, who claims intimate knowledge of Ecctrix. He knows that Ecctrix is infested from a force from beyond which threatens to consume them. Every question they ask him, roll 1d20: on a crit, the Concept appears.
  5. A plague of rats, run out of Ecctrix, who will watch but not strike. They can sneak like crazy and will nibble at the sleeping.
  6. The Door and Stairs. Only entering the door can one ascend an otherwise unseen, moss covered ziggurat. Everything here is sevens. Seven faces on columns. Seven feet to their verses.
  7. Bear
  8. The Most Bear
  9. A fog where you see your dead sister, even if you never had a sister. She will chase you if you leave, but you will only catch fleeting glimpses if you chase her. The fog hides ROLL AGAIN.
  10. A great stone, common on one side but forming into a swirling obsidian sheen on the other. It follows you and hums loudly when ignored, potentially giving you away, but it is otherwise benign. It will not follow toward Ecctrix or Contanimus.

Up Contanimus Toward Promontory:

1. Tiger men transcending their corporeal bodies. Their bodies sleep in a nearby tree. Their spirits strike as men. If destroyed, the real tiger men awake and drop down to strike anew.
2. Triceratops whose horns and frill have grown beyond normal reason and skeletal capacity. Seems pretty fine with it except that these are caught in thick vines it cannot free itself from.
3. Conscious landslide. Sent by the angel in the mountain to deliver you safely to Ecctrix.
4. Troat. Troll goat. Regenerates, can charge to send you spinning down the mountain on a hit for double damage.
5. The Needler. If the Needler has already been encountered and destroyed then this is another creature imitating the Needler: a copycat peacock, a bird who likes having sex with human women. Can spread its plumage around itself in the seeming of a human form.
6. Silencer mantis. They krikk krikk krikk nearby, and until they are killed no spell may be cast.
7. Emaciated women in a drunken rage, hungry for flesh.
8. Something the player just said is the activation phrase for the hidden library of the Bookwurm, a paper dragon who is created by reading about it in its library. Easy to hit but buckets of HP, papercut breath 1d4 times daily.
9. Wild dogs. They have begun to change. Thick phlegmy projectile discharge. This is harmless but make players save every time anyway.
10. Promontory survivor overcome with grief, setting themselves on fire.

Within the Caldera:
  1. A handful of small rolling stones. They watch you, follow you, roll away, and then come back with more. They never attack. They are interested in you. If followed they will not go anywhere in particular. They want you to roll with them forever.
  2. Gray dwarves made by the angels. They climb along walls and ceilings. They prefer to smash their enemies with their fists to subdue them, then bite them to death. They build nothing. Tunnels open for them. They take nothing. Mute but always flapping their jaws like speaking, their teeth clacking together. 4d8.
  3. Alterbats. Their sonar can make shapes in the air, near solid in their force, which are as convincing as illusions, if not complete...SOMETHING is there, right? Save to notice the bats, if attacked they will swarm.
  4. Magma fissure and scalding steam. Save or take like twenty? damage. This way is quickly blocked.
  5. Elf cavemen.
  6. The Diggers. Deer, raccoons, bears, robins. They are changed now. Are they even themselves or something new? They are awakened to a curiosity, and a bond, and a drive: more. More dexterously than their limbs and digits should allow they have burrowed through the earth with strange machines. Only in the dark is it obvious their eyes shine magma gold. None must stay them from their quest.
  7. Ashenkind. The citizens of Promontory have been changed, too. They are a weird undead that take the form of Pompeii-like walking corpses, trapped how they died, lumbering along with what little locomotion is available to them. Lovers. Parents and children. Slow but confused and angry. Their skeletons were atomized and their muscles and organs are all changed: within their shells they look like geodes, and the crystals are noon-bright even in the dark. They don't light their surroundings but they can be seen.
  8. Teeth. These are not stalagmites any more. They are thirsty, only able to absorb liquids. They send illusory orgies roaming through the halls, ensnaring people into jumping into the fuckpile---a massive gorge with stony spikes at the bottom. Slurrrp.
  9. The echoes of the Ecctrix expedition. They are here looking for survivors in the wake of the Promontory disaster. They are disheartened and have been searching for days. Some say the Innercrag is sacred and they risk the wrath of gods to tred here. They discover the Angel. It gets screamy from there.
  10. Ancient machine titan. Voice #9 was right, there was something ancient and holy here. You find its vast and nonhumanoid body. Parts are still active.

SO WHAT'S UP NOW?


Terrestrially speaking it would be all the same, give or take, if you were visited by angels, demons, or aliens. The effects on you, your mind or your eternal parts, and the physical effects on the world around, would be similar. Drastic. New. Indiscriminate. Devastating as a new idea. There's a movie about this. Yes, that one. The devil is an angel. The Thing is an angel. They don't understand us and we don't understand them.

Two months ago the kingdom began preparing for an invasion by the tiger men, blood-skinned humans in black paint who like fighting with diseases. Promontory is a key position against the advance and so it was vested with a measure of coin and infantry.

One month ago a meteorite struck the mountain. It burrowed deep into its heart. It boiled the mountain as it changed the world around it, and the peaks and Promontory fell like a soufflé. It is replacing our stone with the stone it makes, which is also itself. It replaces terrestrial gold with new gold. Awake gold. Everything is being changed or replaced, and this work is Good. The rock called the angels. As the rock became the countryside the angels hooked into the nearest village and began changing it, making it, becoming a paradise. We will call the rock Mineral Angel. The angels are not bothered by us and do not want us to be happy. They want us to be or to be them. Some prayed to the angels and that made things worse. The angels gave horrible gifts. Then they changed their gifts as they were asked. Then they took back their gifts. This was usually the last straw and everything has been going to shit in Ecctrix. Bosch-cum-Stepford in there.

The invasion draws close and there is a power that is sensed by opportunists and fools and refugees. The countryside has become like the aftermath of a war before the invasion has even begun.

THE ANGELS

Once per turn an angel can change one thing. This can't be like "I change the PC into a dead PC" but you can change one into a jar. Lots of saves vs. transformation going on here, and remember everything can be undone...you might need only ask. An angel cannot create something unless something nearby ceases to exist. There is an economy to celestials. Very few things in Ecctrix are things untouched. Very few things even predate the angels any more. The same can be said of the people there. Treat everyone like elves capable of casting Light until the angels make more interesting modifications.

Angels may be attacked and slain in a manner consistent with their being. You cannot stab Color Angel. Magic words are particularly effective against Music Angel. So forth. Remember an angel's forms do not limit its abilities, just how it manifests.

Angels have like AC 0 or 20 or whatever you use, good AC, and maybe 6HD? Sure. If an angel is killed then its unique ability are absorbed by all other angels, they all gain 1HD and 5HP, and their AC improves by 1. Also all angels immediately know where you are. Their manifestations begin to blend together.

If all the angels are convinced to come together they will form a discreet god, some beyond monster of amazing power who will play with the world until it breaks it, but at least in this form it can be bargained with. This also happens by attrition, as angels become near-gods, translucent and fleshy, before the final angel becomes its own beyond monster. NOTE: if Mineral Angel is the last angel, the new god takes the form of a flying magic volcano.

Only one angel will be apparent at a time. After 20 minutes (real time) they will disappear if unmolested, content with their changes, and another angel will move mysteriously in another part of the city.

Mineral Angel- This angel comes in the form of a massive castle-sized boulder of strange unworldly metal which pops and sizzles surrounded by a corona of liquid rock. It reaches out with tendrils of magma and touches the earth around it, changing it and giving the new earth the property TO change. Save vs radiation every hour exploring earth beyond Ecctrix or lose 1 from your saving throws permanently. This accumulates. After every 10 hours save vs transformation or gain a mutation. Does not actively engage you specifically. Busy. All treasure touched by Mineral Angel is worthless, dangerous, and aware.

Color Angel- A column of pure light, a cascade of dazzling colors, a rainbow, a glowing mote where none should be. Because of Color Angel night is a stranger to Ecctrix. The people, already pushed to the brink, are even closer to the edge thanks to that. The streets are awash with visions of their heart's desires, their most shameful secrets, their darkest fears. You cannot walk but walk through some strange scene.

Timespace Angel- This is the angel that makes escape impossible, folding everything so that every step away from Ecctrix draws you fairy tale-like deeper into it. It has restored the dead to life and youth and aged those who displease it to dust. Obstinate travelers are sent into the inky reaches of the stars rather than keep rerouting them.

Music Angel- Save vs paralysis to do anything when this angel is about, as its music is a constant cycling, escalating bwammm. People hemorrhage and die in its presence but it doesn't seem particularly concerned about changing much, except that most things in town now whisper, albeit nonsense baby talk.

Conceptual Angel- Thinking about this angel too much summons it. It is a perfect mathematical proof of angels. Comes upon a vessel which speaks only values from every acre part of flesh. It fights by Inceptioning and defends by being noncorporeal. It feeds on those who displease it. First they will forget the angel. Then they will forget themselves. Then you will forget their name. Then you will be unsure of their place in space relative to you, or whether they have object permanence. Then you will forget them staring right at them. Then they stop existing. Then they never existed.

Bio Angel- A big ol' eyeball. Every time you see it it has some weird new thing. A big ol' eyeball covered in cillia. A big ol' eyeball covered in cillia and livers. A big ol' eyeball covered in cillia, slithering around on all livers to attack with its drill-like penis. So on. It is concerned by buildings and the sky, and wants them to be meat. You cannot attract its attention without it trying to change your body. Heals by turning things in its line of sight into nonviable creature hybrids.

Geometric Angel- Massive shapes constantly moving and clipping through one another, made of glowing planes, made of humanoid outlines, powered by perspective. Likes big clean fuckoff polyhedrons and spheroids. Likes buildings constructed fractally. Keeps trying to make two people occupy the same space...they survive but can't get separated, like a video game glitch, which is troublesome.

XP awards and the sale price of angelflesh increase exponentially as the angels become more powerful.

Diseases of the Tiger Men

1- Butcher Blue- Your skin begins to fester and discolor, and you become something of a pussy magnet for botflies, which are the Worst Thing.
2- Spit- You forget what water is. You try to drink everything on the off chance it's water. Your body thinks you are waterlogged, and you will drool and pee yourself to death.
3- Ropeburn- Long, delicate, knotty tumors filllllled with nerve endings start growing quickly from all over your body, wearing any armor hurts you a lot and you take an extra HP of damage per day, cumulative, when you're hurt, because these things are real bleeders.
4- Tunnelvision- You gain darkvision but lose all other vision, and can no longer see well enough to read without drastic assistance and tools.
5- Pearling- Your bones increase to twice their size, many fusing in the process. Your teeth become one calcified plate, a beak. Your skin develops a hard crust, and moving enough to break that crust makes you bleed. Your blood hardens. Within days you are in a tomb of yourself, waiting to die.
6- Alabaster Fever- Magical tourettes, save vs magic or randomly cast one of your spells.

Invasion Timetable

The invasion is not expected for another couple weeks, according to reports from scouts. Well, some of those scouts got lost in Ecctrix. Beginning the night before you enter Ecctrix, you have four days.

DAY ONE: Some tiger men scouts will get into Ecctrix. They will hide as best they can when they see the state of it. The main army approaches the kingdom but a column scales the far face of Contanimus, oblivious to the face of Promontory. At night you will see the lights of their fires adorning the mountain like a bridal veil.

DAY TWO: A volunteer militia seeks to skirt both Ecctrix and Contanimus and meet the tiger men on the open plain. They will be led astray by the angels and scattered. The tiger men will be discovered within Ecctrix, and they will have a merry time killing until they attract the attention of the angels. Strangely their unified, single purpose manages to not exhaust the angels' patience, so they are able to turn the place out if not opposed. On the mountain the fires grow cold as the tiger man column follows its delver scouts into the mountain.

DAY THREE: The tiger men have pledged themselves to Mineral Angel, sacrificing their souls for never-ending gold. They united have one aim: destruction. The mountain begins to rumble. In Ecctrix, some of the mercenary stragglers make it into town and they turn it into a war between they and the tiger men. Angels will pick sides, then switch sides, then become the battle. The main tiger man armada will clear the valley of Ecctrix and make its way towards Gelmondo.

DAY FOUR: The angels have left Ecctrix but nobody trusts this. Any remaining militia and tiger men will fight it out, and will not spare the PCs in their quest to destroy their enemies. The citizens of Ecctrix are considered acceptable losses by both sides by now and at this point they're honestly fine with it? The angels circle the caldera on Contanimus, and the mountain erupts. You have to escape before the city is destroyed by flowing lava. The mountain begins to walk. The mountain begins to soar. Gelmondo is no more. Every pregnant woman looking towards Ecctrix has her baby immediately. In a sonic boom all the missing birds appear, a swarm thicker than storm clouds, flying into each other and killing each other and coincidentally secreting the true coming horror from the kingdom anticipating tiger men trickery.

DAY FIVE: The main tiger men armada is joined by the demon space god and their skyborne brother. They are now the iCloud of divinity. The angels have finally figures us out: we destroy and get destroyed. Book a cruise to another continent with big ass wizard fuckers on it. Cancel all long term plans.

You know, unless the party does something to fuck all this up.

Remember: the tiger men and their invasion are incidental. They're a stick, and the promise of royal appointments, military power, riches, and the favor of your gods are all the carrots. The angels just happen to be a much bigger stick, an adamantine war club that smashed the original stick to slivers, dangling the carrots from a daisy chain of lips.