The slavers of Coulche have become weak and can be driven from polite society with a well-placed dagger. A small team has been instructed by a neighboring ruler to do just that.
You are abolitionists feared across the Coulche's borders for the force of your zeal. You have hopes to liberate more people than ever before. The orders you intercepted leave no time to lose.
An acquaintance of your group stands accused as a kidnapper. After her arrest you pore over her possessions looking for some clue to her guilt or innocence. You find a note from her "victim" pleading for their help, begging them to come for them in Coulche. The note is old, weeks old.
You are slaves. You have not dared know freedom. However, emanations from the great houses have chilled all peoples of Coulche. If you don't break free now, there may never be another chance.
The men of Coulche routinely raid the forest towns, waylay pilgrims on their way to mission in Ghadabahg, and maintain a constant supply trail through the Sandy Reaches coastward. These are all in service of catching, breeding, training, and selling slaves, Coulche's chief export. All their neighbors, the true kingdoms and the great nations, abhor slavery as a practice on paper. There are some degenerates still who trade with Coulche in secret. There are, of course, envoys from beyond the more civilized nations, blood machines which require grist for their mills of conquest. They would snake their tendrils through the great kingdoms and draw power from the cancer within them. Coulche has remained unlanced by the body politic until now for three reasons. First, the Coulche buy a lot of grains, clay, and lumber to better corral their possessions. Second, treaties from before the civilized kingdoms turned their back on Coulche and slavery make intervention awkward and dangerous, lest many old poisons find purchase in a new wound. Third, it has long been rumored that the Coulche have discovered the body of Lilies In Autumn, feared as a priestess of hellish temperament and diabolical power; her return even as an inanimate fetish of worship would propel the cult left in her wake to new heights of savagery.
What the Coulche have possessed for half a generation now is the sarcophagus of Lilies In Autumn, which acts as a sort of life battery slowly absorbing and amplifying vitality until it can imbue it within its contents. Lilies In Autumn's body was chucked in a ditch to crumble before this had enough effect to raise her. However, the Coulche have come to understand this dread power and even reverse-engineered it. This is the source of the Molds.
It's an elemental question, providing the value of labor without the investment. There's usually nowhere further down to go beyond being a filthy fucking slavedriver, but the Coulche know better now. They know how simple it is to make monsters. Admittedly none of these have proven themselves all that useful for labor but hope springs eternal. They have gathered their resources at Fort Meteor, where these creatures can be easily contained. After all, worst case scenario their efforts prove fruitless and they simply corral them down the pass and into neighboring Argento...
The unfortunate fact is that this is a monstrous act of mercy. Even the lives they're sacrificing to this experiment are deemed a necessary evil. See, the heart of Coulche has turned. They want to be good, to be better. They seek now to abolish their rich slave trade, following the growing will of a new generation of Coulche as well as increasing external pressures. They just need replacements, first. The people of Coulche are the good guys here, and these colossi are as much victims as anything. It's only the twisted upper castes who are so bent they do darker deeds in the name of virtue. The more slaves who are liberated the more the Coulche leaders will turn to these grim arts, the bolder they will behave, the more likely they are to risk a mistake, a breach. Other freed slaves on the run have to weigh their own hope of escape against the welfare of those they travel with, for any who lag behind may become victim or monsters themselves.
The Coulche's sins have long been visited on their neighbors. Now they plan to germinate hells around their sporing new homemade gods.
The map is something of concentric circles radiating from Fort Meteor. This is not a large campaign. Good starting points are marked with a @.
Each section has its own wandering encounter table. Roll 1d6+1d6. I like to use one white and one black. If the black die is equal or higher than your white die then you encounter whatever the value on the black die indicates. If both dice show the same value you still encounter whatever the black die tells you to but you or your enemies are surprised. An odd number means you're surprised, an even number means you're both surprised. You never get the drop on people in their domain from just wandering around, you have to deliberately set an ambush. Anyway, in the event of surprise any Damage dealt to the surprised party is doubled.
There is a separate table included for explicitly noncombat encounters where fighting is never the outcome unless the party chooses to force it, included at the end. One of these will occur in any region where a normal wandering encounter does not occur. This includes wildlife encounters, for hunting/Summoning purposes.
SCENIC COULCHE PASS
C0 @ Fort Meteor is where so many of the great houses have moved the bulk of their slaves. The official explanation for the people of Coulche is that these will be preparing the fort for expansion and modernization, a test case to see if this great force can revolutionize Coulche that they might compete once again with the great kingdoms of the Delt. There are other things here, and they grow in scale and number by the week. Points of interest in Fort Meteor include:
- The Hall of Heaven - This is where the heads of the high houses spend all their time drinking and eating and otherwise debauching until they pass out wake up and start again. A huge manse in castle's clothes, there's room for a few hundred honored leaders and their coterie of guests and achem "servants." Light the banners. Bar the doors.
- The Barracks are enough to hold two hundred or so grunts not granted quarters in the keep. They keep a small armory here, a smith, and the fortress' stables. There is also a mess full of unexpectedly fine confectioneries.
- The Keep is home to the fortress' commander, Hullum Brunse, and his inferior officers. It's largely composed of the titular meteor, and therefore requires a Constitution roll to advance or attack when in metal armor or armed with metal weapons. There are ancient siege weapons here but they are not readied and are impossible to ready in secret.
- The Hollow beneath Fort Meteor was once a literal dungeon but now is sort of a...god zoo. This has required excavating additional room, causing great sinkholes to collapse into the enclosure. Glimpses of gods can be seen from above. There are 5d20 Mudmen here along with the new gods of the high houses. Consider anyone in this space completely deafened, no save.
- The Altar is a ziggurat style dais crudely erected from already-eroding concrete near the Gap Gate, in case an emergency eject has to be pulled; there is a little ramp/slide to the back. Here stands the sarcophagus of Lilies in Autumn, which is fitted in like a filament when powering the magics for the Molds. The gods are conceived here but gestate and hatch in the Hollow. Many don't even realize what they've made, not REALLY, not YET.
- The Corral takes up fully half the inside of the fortress and stretches between buildings. While it is fenced off with biting wires there are guarded gates at five points along it. This is where the assembled slaves stand in the sun and the rain, creating little shanties from refuse and piling up on each other and each other's filths. Some have died already but the dead body pile is in the Corral so...
- There is one great godstone here. It is all that is keeping the new gods imprisoned beneath the Hollow. If it leaves or is damaged then all hell (heaven?) breaks loose.
1. Drunken Lord (use the values of Peasant listed below because fuck 'em)
2. Escaping Slaves (if they are allowed to get away it will raise an alarm)
3. 1d6 Meteor Soldiers
4. Hullum Brunse +2 Meteor Soldiers
5. Tigonlie Soldiers
6. Mold Attendants
B1 Tremont Village lies between Fort Meteor and the Quicksilver Gate; indeed, if one climbs the poplars in the center square, one can just glimpse the tops of each. Tremont is unremarkable apart from being the end of the treeline in western Coulche, right before it disappears into the mountain valleys of Argento. Many of the villagers here have relatives or business interests in the neighboring kingdom. There are fewer slaves in Tremont, they being more progressive, and the ones who remain to work the mill seem to come and go as they like so long as they stay within Tremont and continue to work the mill. There is a Douala here named Non Nooly who can administer basic first aid, and you can usually find a horse to buy.
B2 Humble Gap splits and falls away from Fort Meteor, filled with questing poplars and reaching spear-like pines. A gate in Fort Meteor opens over Humble Gap, and prisoners are often marched off the cliff edge. There really was a meteor once, you know, which extended the gouge of Humble Gap, and part of it is still down there. This is a dead star fragment drawn down by the godstones, and its strange heat has animated the broken dead at the floor of the drop into magnetic husks hell bent on non-euclidean construction. There's...there's so many of these things down here you guys.
B3 @ Ribelline City lies on the other side of Humble Gap from Tremont Village. There's a doctor here, a rudimentary apothecary, and a Magician named Hoy who knows 4 normal spells along with a secret spell called Snakeskin (see below). Ribelline has its own guard as an adjunct force to Fort Meteor but they are not spectacular. You can buy basic supplies and typical gear as found on the equipment table. A blacksmith. Accommodations and drink, enough to carouse. What it also has in abundance are slaves...and ex-slaves. Ribelline is the show city Coulche presents to its critics in the wider world, a city of freed persons, many given slaves of their own along with their liberty. Some freed their slaves, many didn't.
B4 The Temple of Glasses has a veneer of Anglican reverie but it hides a two-faced friar named Bolgefuchs who likes to sometimes help free slaves, sometimes help catch slaves, depending who's paying him the most today. He has also conspired with several neighboring kingdoms, inclusing Argento, to overthrow Coulche. He's your contact, if that's what you're here for, and he may or may not be setting you up the whole time depending on how much money you brought with you. Some healing and quartering is possible here but you tarry at your peril.
B5 Poplar Copse is home to an abandoned grove, once sacred and source of the sparse poplar population here in high western Coulche. If near death Wood Ghost will always retreat here. There is a destroyed camp of assassins here from a previous expedition to "strike the heart of Coulche." Exotic weapons and poisons might be found here, along with a jar containing a spirit who knows Envision.
B6 A lone godstone stands here, waiting. During the day a mighty man of Coulche comes and tries to lift it for most of the day. At night he will disappear into the shadows. He is impossibly strong but will reject all threat or entreaty. He is one of Coulche's own mysteries. Call him the Stoneman. When the godstones move he will be there.
B7 The Sun Tor is an old watchtower situated high above the fortress, attended by a few caved-in shacks. There is a small circle of stones here, as in primordial calendars. Its staircases give way on a 7-8/d8 but its balcony looks out over Argento for first sign of attack. A signal might easily be sent here to alert the fortress, alert the kingdom of Argento, alert your confederates, etc. There are marks of a ritual having taken place here but it's hard to describe what kind unless you're a slave. If you're a slave then it's clear this "ritual" is basically hobo-sign, and "summons" a map of safe havens in Coulche along with the seasonally-appropriate pass phrases to each. The tor has been neglected for a long time since Coulche has feared no true invasion for generations. If the party has yet to encounter Wood Ghost they will face it first here.
B8 The Red Spring has a powerful bacterial colony living within that accounts for its color and its toxic properties. A sample of this water could be valuable to the right apothecary. Roll 1d100: on a result of 1, you witness the "pool" around the spring....blink.
1. Startled Peasants
2. Hayacinth's Mercies
3. Brafan Muscle
4. 1d8 Ribelline Guards
5. 10 Meteor Soldiers
6. Wood Ghost
A1 @ The Quicksilver Gate to Argento, guarded by a detached but friendly column of soldiers. There are accommodations for many more, and there are mechanisms by which the gate can be stoppered against any Coulche penetration, including rigged rockslides and oil spouts. The captain here is Mawney, a fat man who screams. The Quicksilver Gate is proof against an invasion that never came, more than a match for a single god. 2 or more, however, and the gate will fall and leave Argento unprepared and vulnerable. You can get rations and water here and in an emergency you may be deputized and granted access to the armory. Mawney and the guards use the information for the Ribelline Guard listed below, but Mawney gets +2 Damage and +2 Control. Only roll for wandering encounters to determine whether to use the noncombat table instead: otherwise, any force encountered in this area is made up of Argentoes.
A2 There is a small cave here, the air wet and heavy like breath. It doesn't go back very far. Its surfaces are slick with slime mold. If you're being pursued nearby this is the first place your pursuers will think to look, but it certainly seems like a good place to hide. There is an abandoned pack here with climbing gear and a journal filled with a shorthand account of a journey from the other side of Coulche. There is a potion here which, if drank, gives you a glimpse of the distant past: primitive persons worshiping a massive standing stone. You may recognize its shape and markings as the godstone at the heart of Fort Meteor, but how did it get from the mouth of the cave all the way over there?
A3 The rice farms cascading down the stepping slopes here help to supply Ribelline. A mix of slave and free persons work these fields, depending on who the fields belong to. Contraband and secret messages smuggled over the border with Argento are often secreted here, only in certain fields, beneath the water. The Ribelline guard knows this and will do regular checks of random households. The party has a 1/4 chance of running into such an inspection here, and an even chance this inspection will turn ugly. If the farmers are innocent they will have nothing to offer the players except meager local information and food, but if they are in fact complicit in the smuggling they may have some cool stuff.
A4 The Ruined Rise features buildings set into the mountainsides, in some cases carved from them. Many structures here are destroyed, echoes of a long-ago invasion. This is a ghost town, completely abandoned, which of course means it is occupied. Some slaves live here but for the most part this is a place for criminals. Thieves, fugitive killers...The Brafa from the northeast will be surely hiding out here, and there's a chance another rival party may be using a distant part. You might even run into the Stoneman or Wood Ghost here. If you haven't run into any of the major factions here yet you'll meet one in the Ruined Rise, basically. There's nothing intact of value except what its new population brings with it, the rest being looted long ago.
A5 Humble Gap continues stretching and spreading to the east, its sides becoming less sheer as it does so. There is a Woodcutter's Family here, each of them wearing wooden "shells" and masks like the one Wood Ghost wears. This blocks their bioelectric signals to the magnet men and allows them to move about unmolested. They will be naturally suspicious of you, and have four dice to Hide in this valley when so adorned. This "armor" has no value and protects like Ring and looks very creepy. If you attack and injure one of them thinking them to be Wood Ghost the rest of the family, children included, will set on you.
A6 Brass Boughs on your map represents a particularly gorgeous mix of forest and meadow, a popular hunting ground in the old days, now exclusive reserve for the Overcount of Coulche. There are no signs of civilization here and the animals have become bold for being ignored. 3/6 chance of wildlife encounters here, 5/6 at night.
A7 There is an old caved-in mineshaft here, overgrown with brambles. Dexterity to avoid falling in. There is one Meteor Soldier trapped here, nearly dead from thirst. He can be plied with drink for information, but setting his shattered legs and hauling him out is a daunting prospect. He does carry a letter to his kids that he swears the party will be rewarded for delivering. Some simple tools for breaking through rock and stone can be found here, picks and hammers and such.
A8 High Lake waits still and sour. A big-ass murky lake like this demands a monster. There is a fish here very much like an alligator gar who locals refer to as Fancy Fred. Bigger than a man, Fred doesn't go in for worms. He'll take your bait on a 1/10 chance, +1 for every day you've let your bait decay. Catching Fancy Fred is hard but Summoning him is possible. Landing him as a trophy will be worth 1000c and an audience with most local people of import outside of Fort Meteor, at the very least earning you some ale and lodgings. If you use Fred for food, consider all Rations checks to have +2 while you remain in Coulche. If you gain him as an ally he will ride in the body of a retainer, appearing as a tattoo on their face and conferring +5 to ST, IN, and KN.
A9 The Pines take over here: this is their rightful domain, not a place for poplars. They have a seductive shade and are home to a few cabins of simple Coulche peasants who know little of the political games they're caught in. They will offer rest and safety to those who ask, mostly in fear of night lions. If troops from Fort Meteor or the Ribelline Guard, for example, happened by looking for outsiders, however, you would be turned out quickly. The only factor is whether they make you leave or hand you over.
A10 There is a cave here chockablock full of bats, home to a mother mountain lion and her children. Investigating will cause....tension, but if the cave mouth is emptied it can be followed further down to a great heaving chamber filled with what looks like some sort of wizardly apparatus. It's a still, abandoned so long ago that it's becoming part of the cave. The hooch to be found here could be worth a fortune as spirits or could carry more punch than gasoline. Consider the items in these creatures' Packages to be items strewn about the lair in disrepair, evidence of some previous tenant.
Basic Animal (1d6+1HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Graceful (Half normal Save to avoid hazards, +1 Die Fitness), Fury (+1 damage each time this enemy is hit in combat), Bloodline (Beastly Locomotion, Natural Weaponry, +1 Mana)
Packages- Lama (3 Unarmed*1 canteen*1 empty book*1 staff*1 bedroll)
Mundane Animal (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, 1 Damage Maximum)
Extras- Small (+3AR at range, +1 Die Hide)Packages- Lookout (+1 Die Detect*+1 Die Fitness*1 sling*1 cloak)
A11 A Crucified Slaver hangs here with an Argento flag stuffed in their mouth and the sentence hanging around her waist. She looks long dead but lives, barely. Let your conscience be your guide.
A12 @ The Crossing actually represents an undefended part of Argento territory. Both sides of a long rope bridge are technically on Argento land. However, it requires only one small shack full of robbers on probation to man it, since the whole thing can be taken down so easily in the event of invaders from Coulche. This is a peasant bridge, a peddler's bridge, a simple trade route which the party can use to come and go more or less freely. If the party is being pursued a rider will be dispatched to the Crossing to block escape. The robbers on the other side are friendly enough and there's a 1/d20 chance that one of them is a distant family member to one of the party. They use the values for Coulche Peasants, listed below.
A13 A Peasant Cemetery rests here, old and overgrown. It once belonged to the Argentoes beyond the Crossing and is not used by the Coulche for a mix of superstitious and cultural reasons. It has not been minded or cleared in some time, and likely receives no visitors. There is the sound of sweeping when you're not looking, like someone walking through a pile of leaves. At night a voice from behind you will ask for passage to the valley. This area is protected against the intrusion of the new gods.
A14 Ham Deegle is a small village of subsistence farmers living around an old dried-up mine. There's only about eight families here including a quartet of dwarfs. They know the Rite of Fancy Fred here and the dwarfs know the Rite of the Sentinels, being late converts and final worshipers of the old godstones. They will resent you for inquiring after these but if you pull off invoking these then all 50-or-so people of Ham Deegle will join your quest.
A15 Cloud Lodge is a bath house and bordello found here. Anyone traveling to or from Fort Meteor on official business makes an unofficial stop here. Sister Vondu runs a fairly straight-laced place, considering, with nothing too kinky going on. She can fill out your map quickly and knows one fact about everyone mentioned by name in this article. She also knows anything at all about the Stoneman and Wood Ghost which makes her somewhat unique. Treat your experiences in this bordello as a Summoning with attendant benefits that your Control efforts for those in your employ are increased by 3.
1. Forceful Peasant
2. Desperate Runaway Slaves
3. Wood Ghost
4. 1d4 Meteor Soldiers
5. Uver's Bounty Hunters
6. 1d12 Crude Bandits (as Peasants; only half will be encountered initially, the rest gain a surprise bonus to Damage when entering the fray)
1. Squirrel or gopher
2. Hare or mockingbird
3. Fox or hawk
4. Wolf or vulture
5. Bear or ape
6. Fugitive or Hermit
7. Mapmaker or Lost Traveler
8. Peddler or Artisan
9. Lame Horse or Broken Wagon
10. Strange noises or lights
11. Remains from robbers
12. A ruined tent
13. Friendly musician
14. Tax collector
15. Prankish locals
17. Wandering educator
18. Runaway horse or livestock
19. Ghadabahg pilgrims
20. The Stoneman, glimpsed then gone
THE COULCHE PEOPLE
Feature Officer (7x2d6HP, Guile 20, Save 4, Attack +10, 1d6x2 Damage)
Extras- Wealthy (access to 10,000c in funds), Station (This enemy has all the benefits conferred by a title), Magic Item (Meteor Armor), Extra Attack (Twice each Combat turn), Magic Item (The Oversword)
Packages- Rider (1 horse*1 saddle*1 spear*1 sabre*1 shield (AR), Knight (1 Shell (AR)*1 sword *1 horn*1 canteen*500c), Captain (+10 Control*1 sabre*1 scabbard*+5 troops)
[*Unchallenged Control, Troops 25, and AR 30 Package bonuses]
Advanced Warriors (24HP, Guile 15, Save 8, Attack +4, 1d6+2 Damage)
Extras- Fearsome (Penalty equal to Type bonus to players' Control rolls), Extra Move (move twice in a round), Magic Item (Meteor Armor)
Packages- Rider (1 horse*1 saddle*1 spear*1 sabre*1 shield (AR), Archer (1 Soldier's Bow*60 ammunition*1 quiver*10' rope)Level Bonuses- +1 Die Detection, +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity, +1 Willpower
Basic Warrior (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +3, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Extra Move (move twice in combat), Fortunate (roll Skills using 1d12)
Packages- Point (1 Splint (AR)*1 hook*1 lockpick*1 flint*1 oil flask)
[AR 17 Package bonus]
Level Bonuses- +1 Constitution, +1 Dexterity
Basic Magus (1d6+2HP, Guile 13, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage with weapon)
Extras- Magic Item (Hoy's Ring), Venom (possesses one poison HR3, one HR4, one HR5, may apply in Combat)
Packages- Sorcerer (4 artifacts*1 grimoire*5 spells*1 face paints)
Spells- Snakeskin, Fade, Reprieve, Prophesy, Sustain
Woodsman and Family
Basic Hermits (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 11, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage with weapon)
Extras- Bloodline (Elf Sight, Elf Majesty, +1 Mana), Extra Move (twice each round)
Packages- Sniper (+2 Die Hide*1 hunter's bow*40 ammunition*1 dagger)
Level Bonuses- +1 Die Dodge
Mundane Cleric (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Wealthy (access to 8888c)
Packages- Prophet (2 artifacts*1 cuirass *1 staff*1 icon* 2 books)
Basic Healer (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 11, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Stranger (Half'un), Fortunate (make Skill rolls with 1d12)
Packages- Attendant (1 boat pole*1 hanging lantern*1 backpack)Level Bonuses- +1 Die Heal, Mastery of Craft
Mundane Healer (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Unique (can heal up to 20HP total per day with a successful Craft roll)
Packages- Wastrel (1 dagger*1 staff*1c*10' rope*1 candle*1 ritual)
Rituals- Rite of the Hearth
Mundane Madame (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Wisdom (3/8 chance to predict Orders (treat as intercepted))
Packages- Courtier (+10 Experience *+5 Control*1 ritual*1000c)
Rituals- Rite of the Hearth
Mundane Husks (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Undead (can't be dispatched by the lack of anything; get a Save against Spells)
Packages- Wastrel (1 dagger*1 staff*1c* 10' rope*1 candle*1 ritual)
Ritual- Instead of a true ritual, considered and extended study can lead one to learn how to perform a "Summoning" to break the meteor's hold on the dead; they will wander away and eventually collapse.
Mundane Assholes (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Backup (one enemy in group (often Mundane) gains surprise damage the first time this enemy is targeted)
Packages- Trapster (1 crossbow*1 cloak* 40 ammunition*+2 Die Craft)
Peasants and Slaves
Mundane Victims (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Extras- Last Gasp (always gets dying words, which can cast a Spell)
Packages-Wastrel (1 dagger*1 staff*1c* 10' rope*1 candle*1 ritual)
Rituals- Rite of the Wode
FIENDS ARE VISITING FROM THE COUNTRY
Outsiders from the Brafan plains north of the Delt are here to recommit to Coulche, offering their services as personal security for the slave trade in Brafa. They have a black road cutting through the borders of the Delt kingdoms and they keep it running smoothly. They're here to run interference for the Coulche during this large scale enterprise. They have sent only their bastards.
Basic Bruisers (1d6+2 HP, Guile 13, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage with weapon)
Extras- Unique (Attack bonus actually equals the number of Brafans in a group), Fury (+1 Damage each time they are hit in Combat)
Packages- Berserker (1 axe*1 Furs (AR) *Unarmed 2*1 helmet*1 stein)
[AR 15 from Package Bonuses)Tigonlies on the other hand are eager to see its slave stock liberated of this mad experiment and down the eastern Delt to its waiting cigarettes. Tigonle makes a lot of money distributing Coulche's slaves and it saves them the trouble of sacking slaves themselves. They are petulant and quick, and prefer a mix of whips and pikes.
Basic Mariners (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage with weapon)
Extras- Bloodline (Silver Tongue, Beguiling, +1 Mana), Last Stab (get one free attack when you Fall)
Packages- Pillager (1 horse*1 flint*1 net* 3 torches*3 satchels*1 map), Executioner (20' rope*1 axe*1 mask*1 bottle*200c*1 book)
Uver Stamble is a bounty hunter feared even beyond Coulche. Wanted in two kingdoms he has less respect for the law than even his fellows. He makes it clear and obvious to everyone he meets that he plays the flute because he wants the slaves he hunts to know it's HIM coming when they hear they piping, so they lose their nerve and give themselves away.
Basic Bastard (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Extra Move, Fury
Packages- Point, Musician
Eli is tired of telling people that it can be a girl's name too. She is stronger than Uver and likes throwing spears for fun. She doesn't prioritize protecting her face.
Basic Bounty Hunter (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Last Stab
[AR 15 from Package Bonuses and Type Bonus]
Cheen the Mystic has heard of modesty of appearance and doesn't hold with it. In the city he stays cloaked and robed, away from society he usually hunts in the painted nude.
Basic Magician (1d6+2 HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Level Bonuses- Mana Die
Magic Shortcut- Wizard (may replace any one spell requirement with a Relic)
Spells- Boarman, Mana Control, Mana Block, Mana Strike, Stranger Gift, Whispers, Listen, Trace, Darkness, Disguise
Wetherbee is a dwarf of flexible moral fibre, like a bamboo reed. He believes in justice, law, and peace, and he also believes that any attempt at dissolving Coulche's slave trade begins with these things being done properly, and returning runaways to their owners is the first step. We can't just have chaos! Soooo tired of Uver and Cheen, and come to that Eli...
Basic Bounty Hunter (1d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +4, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Stranger (Dwarf), Station (has a high title in Dwarf society)
[AR 21 with Package bonuses]
They just call the big mean orc Rusty. He sleeps in his armor and so is always poorly rested and never properly polished.
Basic Murderer (2d6+2 HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +3, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Hideous, Extra Attack
Packages- Goon (1 mallet*1 Chain (AR)* 1 prybar*3 satchels*1 pipe)
[AR 18 from Package bonuses]
THE SIDE OF ANGELS
Hyacinth is a fiercely abolitionist Halfl'un Hunter with her own gods on her side: she knows Mouthpiece, and has been touched by Glaswulf Bowin, an angelic ancestor spirit sort of deal. Very locally-sourced farm-to-table godding is Glaswulf Bowin. She is something of a holy terror, known as the Widow Deacon due to her habit (alllmost a joke there) of dressing in a friar's frock. She is skilled with hatchets and is easily identifiable from her ears, which have been clipped to a point. She is accompanied by her three Mercies.
Advanced Abolitionist (32 HP, Guile 15, Save 8, Attack +4, 1d6+2 Damage)
Extras- Stranger (Half'un), Enchanting (Players must succeed in a Willpower roll x2 to overcome this enemy's beguiling words), Wisdom (3/8 chance of anticipating Orders)
Packages- Warlord, Pillager
Level Bonuses- +1 Die Detection, +70 Experience
Tanny is Hyacinth's right-hand woman and protector, sure with the bows and arrows of her fallen enemies. She is slightly too tall and has a long chin. She is too distant to be friendly and she wishes she could help that.
Basic Bodyguard (1d6+2 HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Fortunate, Venom
Packages- Archer, Pillager
Felor and Goughtri are twins who use their appearance to aid in subterfuge. They rely on each other utterly and trust each other utterly and hate each other utterly.
Mundane Spies (1HP, Guile 10, Save 16, Attack +0, 1 Damage)
Packages- Musician (1 drum*1 flute*1 horn*3 outfits*1 ritual*1 spell)
Spells- Felor knows Double, Goughtri knows Reverse
Wood Ghost is a kind of spirit soldier who lives where forest and mountain meet, a mediator of sorts whose cloak and mask are always dusted with a powdery snow, even now in July. They reek of sweat and honeysuckle. She can fling her hand-carved wooden shafts like arrows from a Hunter's Bow. She cannot speak your languages but the language of "oh shit a monster we're going to die" is universal, and she can intuit intent. The people of Coulche are familiar with her taboos - where to leave offerings, trails which are forbidden - but do not tell the slave population as a means of security and control. As a result Wood Ghost's actions seem random to the Coulche slaves, affording them an ominous legend. In reality Wood Ghost is an un-alive vessel for dead slaves, rooted in the brittle further-rotted husk of Lilies In Autumn. She delights in killing cruel masters and slavers who wander into her domain, and protects places of sanctuary or egress for escaping slaves. It doesn't know what to make of the party at first, and will stalk and/or attack as it deems necessary until they make their intentions clear.
Lilies In Autumn does not want to rise again to wreak havoc, she just wants her sarcophagus back to rest. Turns out death sucks. However, if reunited, she brings her hundred ghostly passengers along for the ride, and now these new gods filled with primordial confusion and anger and fear and running rampant? Now they're filled with pain and hate of decades, centuries, and all the people of Coulche will be scorched from the world without regard to virtue or vice. THEN maybe they turn to face the world which allowed Coulche to endure.... This is a win condition that stands as worst case scenario.
Star Revenant (80HP, Guile 18, Save 4, Attack +6, 1d6x2 Damage)
Extras- Extra Attack, Last Gasp, Last Stab, Undead, Magic Item (Wood Ghost's Mask), Graceful, Hideous, Ancient (+30 Experience, 3 Rituals)
Packages- Attendant, Sniper, Lookout, Wastrel
Level Bonuses- +1 Die to every Skill
THE THINGS WHICH AREN'T PEOPLE
Okay so I'm giving these things HP but to be clear, we're treating the gods like....a storm, or an avalanche. They're something you can survive. A Hazard to save against. You can pick away at them over time if you're lucky and clever but the idea of going "how many HP do you have left" after a god hits you - even a small god such as these - is anathema. You dead.
The gods haven't been alive long enough to stop screaming (that's one thing that must be absolutely clear when encountering one, the noise, the way the air completely boils around them with the sound of their skin sliding, joints grinding) so they haven't been given names, and the high families call them by house. That information will have no real bearing here so we'll just go largest to smallest, starting with....
G1The Mold for G1 was a bunch of sewn together still-living slaves. These still live but are catatonic with shock and fear and hate, and are worn like a living crown on a face with far too many mouths. Its fingers bend the other way and its skin flickers like charcoal just starting to catch. Things it touches keep sparking to life for a single round. This includes the skeletons inside people's own bodies, who rip themselves right free.
200 HP, HR 10
G2 This god blinds all who look at it for a round, and if you keep looking at it you'll stay blinded - maybe even go blind permanently! Its eyes and mouth constantly pour a frothing sunshine and its skin and extremities are blackened and cracking.
200 HP, HR 9
G3 can't decide whether it wants to be one million snakes or not, so its body is constantly shifting in waves like a broken CRT monitor. The snakes it sheds fall to the ground and become sticks.
150 HP, HR 9
G4 seems to be made of solid gold and burns to the touch like lava. Storm clouds burst open in its footfalls.
150 HP, HR 8
G5 crawls about everywhere bent over backwards, all its joints facing the wrong way. Things in its wake age away like they chose the wrong grail. This god seems most prepossessed with crossing over into Argento.
100 HP, HR 8
G6 can reasonably pass for the biggest, hairiest man or orc you've ever seen at a distance. Up close he's clearly 14' tall and covered in tiny cillia-like arms with babyish fingers all over them. He grows bigger and more dinosaur-like as you watch.
80 HP, HR 8
G7 is the size of a child because oh no. They exude death beams in an arcing plane.
50 HP, HR 10
Mudmen were the early god experiments. There are a lot of Mudmen. They have the same sort of divine consciousness but it's spread too thinly. They mostly mill about in large groups to beat on things. Now these are more like your standard enemies, but they're still a lot to deal with.
Basic Gods (3d6+2HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +3, 6 Damage)
Extras- Extra Arms (+1 trivial act a round, climb or swim without Fitness roll), Giant (-2AR, +2 Die Fitness, 6 Unarmed, Ignore Weight as a Dwarf)
Packages- 1 Random Package's worth of stuff is stuck to/inside of them, largely ruined
The Molds themselves crackle with a power from beyond the bounds of light and shapes. It grounds itself in peculiar ways, giving each a dangerous aura. These can be colored in any way you see fit but amount to raw damage taken the closer you come to the Mold once it's been activated. They turned the dial up too far and now all your me-juice is getting sucked out to create yet another of these...things.
50 HP, HR 5
Attendants are little more than living zombies now, their head all filled with god notions and set to their holy tasks. It's possible the Coulche haven't realized yet that they'll never be able to fully switch off. They busy themselves about the dais and it's not entirely clear how much they're accomplishing. If you get aggressive and they don't just stove your head in with one of the hooked poles they use to manipulate the Molds and their components they may simply make a Mold of you, or try to. This is not a spell that can be learned but, well, you'll become a vampire battery, slowly leaching life away from everyone within 5' of you at 1HP/round.
Basic Zombies (1d6 HP, Guile 12, Save 12, Attack +2, 1d6 Damage)
Extras- Undead, Magic (pick a Magic Shortcut and gain its spells and abilities)
Level Bonuses- Mana Die, 3 Spells
Magic Shortcut- Cultist (may layer Artifact benefits from Aesthetics)
Spells- Forbid, Ward, Distract, Bleed, Chill, Prophesy
THE GODS OF OLD
The western mountains of Coulche near the duskfall pass were considered sacred in olden days. This was before Coulche became a dire nation, even before they rose to be a great nation. The reverend standing stones, great granite obelisks which can't have originated from the local rock strata, still figure in many of the tales and superstitions of the Coulche. The most exalted ones have the most rings carved into them. There are some 114 of these, 9 of which are considered of paramount importance. One resides within Fort Meteor, another just to the west... These godstones can move under their own power if they have a mind to, and they're growing more and more restless as the first among them struggles to contain the blasphemies (gods from stone but disgusting half shapes and fleshes?) beneath the young fortress. These are a vessel for the divinity of the mountains themselves, which have become crowded with gods of late and grown impatient. Don't touch them.
50 HP, HR 5
ARE YOU MAD?
Confronting a Mold or any god or being ensorcelled by a Coulche mystic has a negative effect on your whole brain. Like the Crazy Boys of old, consider yourself +1 to Damage and -1 to Saves and Control/Morale from mounting Horror. Once your Horror overcomes your current level you have to make a Willpower/Wisdom save with each new nightmare. Failure means your actions are not your own: on each turn you may only choose Fight or Flight, and the DM takes care of the rest, controlling your pawn in your stead. Once they decide you've had a chance to collect yourself your actions return to you but your Horror never diminishes. The spell Forget, cast in a timely fashion by another pawn, can remove a point of Horror along with your memory of the horrible thing that caused it; this is not always feasible or pragmatic. Your Horror may be reduced at any time by 1d4 by Jibbering, which makes everyone who hears you make a Willpower save or take 1 pt of Horror.
A watch must be set to protect against, well, everything in this adventure. Watches involve each player trading off in the night. A normal wandering enemy check will occur for each leg of the watch unless the parties involved in the handoff do 2 minutes of in-character RP. This doesn't have to be an involved conversation and can even just be about how each approaches their shift differently, or what their mind drifts to in the dark. Successful monster checks always indicate the player responsible has drifted off and the party receives no warning of any intruder.
There are four types of god you can make.
The first is a god of humors. This requires a Mold, liquid gold, as well as blood, tears, sweat, piss, ejaculate, fresh spring water, bile/vomit, and the juice of 1 pomegranate. It also requires a different person to contribute each of these. These are the simplest gods, stupid but ferocious.
The second is a god of life. This requires a Mold, as well as cooking an ox's heart in an underground fire, at the center of a clay figure sown with barleycorns. This is one of the hardest gods to make, in order to keep the heart cooking without being consumed and maintain the underground fire in the first place. These also make the biggest gods who are hardest to control.
The third is a god of storms, which requires thirteen skeletons crammed into a Mold and soaked in pickle brine. If lightning can be coaxed to strike the mold its body accretes, pushing out and bending the walls of the Mold until it is a thin adamantine flesh the god wears out into the world.
The fourth is a god of gods, created with a viridian anointing of one who has emptied themselves of soul. Their body will enlarge and expand far past its limits, held together with new and undulating hamburger. These gods know regret, and so can be cruelest. This represents the bulk of the Coulche gods.
The recipes for these gods are closely guarded by the great houses of Coulche and their manuals are made deliberately hard to carry around in order to prevent them from being carried off. Go ahead, try and just transcribe them. You probably got everything you needed. Good luck with that. Anyhow, the formulae themselves can be traded for 66000c each, the manuals can fetch 100000c, and a working and infused Mold can fetch 500000c. A new and awful god, somehow taken alive, would be worth a kingdom, and the creation of a bespoke god would let one name their own price.
Because of this there is a kind of god language, walking words which dance away from all magical attempts at interpretation, impenetrable to any intuition or cipher. The current god makers gave up most of their minds to understand it. Be prepared to do the same.
MAGICS AND REWARDS
Snakeskin - Takes 10 minutes to cast and requires Faith, Postures, and Conduits. Your old skin sloughs away revealing a body free from any scars, tattoos, mutations, conditions, and grants you up to 1HP/level in a healing renewal.
Envision - Can be learned from a potion, requires Signs and Drugs, only works conditionally: there must be something worth watching to have occurred in the place you're casting back in the distant past. You can see a scene with perfect clarity and understanding. If nothing of note is available to Envision you do not cast this spell or take Strain from this spell.
Home - Requires a Relic or object infused with magic power like a potion or grimoire. If you are separated from this item it will return to you by magical means by the full moon.
Boarman - Transforms the target into a boarlike peoploid for 10 rounds. Boarmen will fight to the death and deal +3 damage. Boarmen are not able to distinguish non-Boarmen as friend or foe and attack everyone. Humans, Dwarfs, and Half'uns do not get to use their skill bonuses or Mana Powers. Orcs get to add their level to MD rolls as a Boarman. +1 Strain.
Empty - This spell requires Blood, Aesthetics, Signs, and Words. The higher mind of a being is cast out of it for a round, reducing it to a doglike intelligence. If a spirit wishes to take hold of this vessel while it is available the original mind will just sort of wait at its metaphorical shoulder, taking root again once its body is again vacant, and with no memory of any time passing. -3 to MD rolls to cast.
Walk Away - This spell requires Aesthetics and Relics. So long as you look sufficiently magic when you cast this spell you can cause everyone around you to ignore you, conditionally: you are free to walk at a normal pace calmly away without speaking to or engaging anyone or taking any other actions. This stays in effect for 10 rounds, only after which anyone will notice you or notice you've left. You must rest after using Walk Away or be penalized 2 to all rolls.
Mouthpiece - You may cast this on any mortal or spirit, or even invoking the name of a god. For the rest of the day the target you selected can speak through your mouth whenever they wish, saying whatever they like, even speaking languages you don't understand. The communication is not two-way, and people around you cannot talk to the party on the other end of the line.
Nut Liquor- Temporarily raise your HP to max, reducing by 1 every 10 rounds until this boon is depleted. This is a temporary HP situation and when it runs out you revert to whatever your actual HP is, even if that's 0. You can keep drinking doses and topping yourself off but consider yourself -10 EXP and -1 Instinct (purely for the purpose of positioning, Dexterity is unaffected) for each dose you take until all the Nut Liquor is out of your system. One more thing, there is a specific requirement to imbibing: it only works if you say "I want a nut liquor" and another player says "Who doesn't?"
Wood Ghost's Mask- Enemies are -1 Control in combat while you wear this mask. While wearing it you can enter and exit a tree at will. You don't transport between the trees but you can move through them as if they weren't there and get +2 Dice Hide to secret yourself within one when being pursued or planning an ambush.
Oversword- The wielder of the Oversword gains a bonus equal to their HD to both Troops and Control, as well as all Willpower saves during a Summoning. +1 to hit.
Meteor Armor- Enemies attacking you with metal weapons or advancing on you in any armor better than Splint must make a Constitution Save before attacking you, otherwise they are repelled. This also applies to any allies trying to come to your aid or climbing a metal ladder or something.
Hoy's Ring- +2 Mana
Rites are intentionally ill-defined, intended to be sort of a system for bartering with the spirits of things and beings and places, a bargain struck with the person running the game; whatever they think flies at a specific tier of Summoning can fly. That said, if you need some off the shelf options, try these reward rites on for size along with some specific repercussions
The Rite of Fancy Fred
1. Invoke Fred's evasiveness for +1 Die Dodge
2. Creates a big ass fish made of water like that part in Ponyo
3. Fred hisself sort of puts spirit to use for you on the condition that he is free to leave whenever he wishes and his vessel may never be caught or impeded in any way
4. Fred's vessel gains all the mythic properties Fred once enjoyed in his watery home.
The Rite of the Sentinels
1. Know instantly the location of each godstone, sense them at distance
2. The godstones vibrate as if in song, and are capable of independent movement
3. The godstones speak to you, telling you every secret thing they know about this pass and the abominations growing in it; Willpower save to descramble as they each tell you everything all at once. You must act as their agent and guardian in the fight to come.
4. Spinning forward, the godstones become little blenders capable of breaking down nearly any barrier; you may consider any godstone near you to be Troops.
The Rite of Hearth
1. Invoke warmth enough to stave off cold from climate or magic.
2. The spirit takes root in a normal fire, granting it resistance to rain and wind, and control over brightness
3. Agreeing to share your meal with the spirit convinces them to add succor to your savor; that is, you'll recover your full HP when you dine with the spirits.
4. The spirit can appear when bidden and offered any flammable thing, and will listen for you through distant fires.
Boons are little video game achievements you unlock by doing cool things and they can be used with a Mana Die (and all normal bonuses), or can be invoked by those without a Mana Die 3/day.
Godbotherer- If you encounter anything that is worshiped it must pay attention to you. Unlocked by having an encounter with a true god, an awakened godstone, or physically injuring the Stoneman or Wood Ghost.
Emancipation- Gain additional +2 Dice to Craft rolls for escaping bonds or breaking the bonds of others. Unlocked by freeing/aiding the escape of 100 slaves (yourself included, if applicable).
Knife of the Mountain- You may count a combat where you stood alone as a successful Travel roll. Unlocked by holding the Crossing or the Quicksilver Gate against enemy forces.
Detect Evil- As the Goblin ability, this allows you to sense the specific sins another has committed or crudely rank everyone around you in order of corruption. This is a sign of corruption. Unlocked if you learn the true name of a godstone.
Immortal Wound- Roll to avoid all injury from weapons, even magical ones. Unlocked immediately by attacking a god and surviving.