Hello again. My quest to string together three words in a vaguely entertaining fashion continues with this Runequest monster. If you want to convert it to D&D, then it should be a breeze, unlike the opposite proposition (I'll probably get round to it eventually). Please enjoy. As usual, credit to the people who are good at this and whose example pushes me into ever more embarrassing arenas (Zak S, False Patrick, Noisms, Scrap Princess, etc...)
the far wastes of Zhar, there is a space inhabited not by men, but by
information. Living fractals that are able to occupy this plane of
existence , not because they belong here, but because of the horrible
damage wrought to reality when the moon fell from her place in the sky.
creatures ...they are not to be understood on our terms. The
environment they inhabit is at once, arid desert and mathematical
euqation. To wander there is to risk dissolution and madness...yet some
do, for the fractal beings seem never less than pleased to communicate
and welcome pilgrims. This welcome of theirs, might take the form of an
implanted bliss; a blasting, uncommunicable truth; assimilation into
their number or the discovery of the pilgrim's bleached bones upon the
steps of their mother's home a thousand miles away. Somehow they know to
weep for their foolish children.
And yet these beings, these
anomalous guests, are not the focus of the words before you. They do
not, afterall, leave the desert. Their purpose is private enough and
unfathomable enough to the princes of men, that they are considered no
more dangerous than a shark. A shark will never eat you in your bedroom.
Recall I told you that these beings are not to be understood on our
terms? I did not lie to you. But they possess some of the qualities we
might associate with life...seeming consciousness, purpose and emotional
weight. There is an ecology at work. They even produce excrement...
waste matter. Except this substance is not matter, for the beings that
produce it are, or subsist on ideas and information. Indeed, their shit lives. Ahh, now you raise an eyebrow! It is this defecation that proves of the greatest danger to men.
ideas, a violent, coruscating storm of mobile waste information,
imploding into itself (the concept of 'self' having lost all meaning), a
mandala that cannot find satisfaction in the undulations of its own
presence, but must violently pull in other information, other data in
order for it to cease to exist. Or at least this is how it seems in
dully remembered, incohate dreams...memories of when these miasmic,
chaos blurs/mobile, possibly living shit storms came the way of men.
they destroy themselves after a certain amount of information has been
collected, as if a balance had been re-asserted. Furthermore, though
capable of moving as fast as a good horse, they rarely make it as far as
civilised lands without first discovering a tribe of nomads or a cave
of primitives. They are drawn to the thoughts of sentient beings in
order to erase the problem of their being.
Their touch invites
assimilation...one's very substance (also a kind of idea) and
consciousness becomes fused with the über mass of semi-alive
information. Those with a strong will can resist. likewise they can be
fought with the weapons of will; certainty of purpose serving to act as
surely as hapless absorption when it comes to satiating their needs. If
one trusts hard enough in the steel they wield or the magics they utter,
then that individual might prevail...but this is rare indeed.
drawing a certain amount of conscious reality into their core, a
critical juncture is reached and they wink out of existence. It is
possible to escape from the Fractal Optimiser (as they were dubbed by
the Order of the 66 Archons), requiring the consumed to face a riot of
insane pre-consumed sentiences. This battle occurs purely in the realm
of thought and it is a struggle of ego vs conceptual annihilation.
adamant bottles have appeared in certain bazaars in Vornheim, Jukai,
Marlinko and Syrone. Within, is contained the raging essence of a
Fractal Optimiser. They change hands for thousands of silver; weapons of
Characteristics -------------Attributes ------------------------1d20 Location AP/HP
STR: (-) ------ ------ Action Points 3 --------------------- 1–20 Incohate Form 0/11
CON: (15) ------ ----- Damage Modifier 0
SIZ: 6d6+20 (40) ------ Magic Points 18
DEX: (14)------ ----- Movement 12
INS: (15) ------ ------ Strike Rank 15
POW: (18)------ ----- Armour None
Dark Sight, Immunity (Any attack made wthout an accompanying wilpower
roll better than the attack it supports and better than the Fractal
Optimiser's own Willpower resistance roll), Regeneration (1 HP/Round),
Terrifying, Life Sense, Engulf, Flight
Skills: Endurance 52%, Evade 64%, Perception 75%, Willpower 70%
Combat Style: Absrobing Undulation(Fractal Pseudo Appendage) 60%
a character is engulfed by the Fractal Optimiser, then they must roll
Willpower vs Willpower. Failure indicates that they have been absorbed
into the Optimiser. Within, the consumed finds themselves in a
fractured, shifting dreamscape, composed from the memories of its
previously absorbed victims. Here they will be forced into something
resembling spirit combat with their own identity.
character may choose to use either his Willpower or a Passion in an
extended test against either their own Willpower stat or another
Passion, GM's choice. Success leads to escape, although magic points
will be drained consumate with the utimate degree of success at a rate
of 3 MP per Fractal Optimiser success level (maximum loss of 12 mp) .
Any degree of failiure results in the victim remaining trapped in the
Fractal Optimiser with the same loss of MP. Reduction to zero MP, means
the characer has been forever lost.
The Optimiser vanishes after it absorbs MP equal to its SIZ.
HP are an abstraction, not really representing anything material so
much as its remaining reality. If its HP are reduced to zero, it
transforms into a random mundane object drawn from the consumed
information within its form. This could be literally anything.
there's some fluff from my own campaign mixed in with the description
of the Fractal Optimiser. It's really up to you why the beings that
produce these things exist. I leave that to the GM as an exercise in RPG
Monday, 28 September 2015
Friday, 25 September 2015
The Dream Whistler
Sometimes, the membrane between the realms of wakefulness and sleep grows threadbare. That untenable things of both beauty and madness sometimes find their way into the waking world, is beyond dispute. That those inhabitants of dream are violently forced to conform with the physical laws of our own bleak cosmos, is fuel enough for a thousand nightmares of horrors born afresh to a hunger, which must now feed.
One such horror is the Dream Whistler.
Arising from the chimera of amour which most often assails youth, in slumber they are amorphous clouds of half forgotten loves and desires. In flesh, they are cruelly rendered as obscene mollusc things as big as hippos (although no bigger than mice when first conceived, upon taking a lair, they quickly and unnaturally grow in size... a process which leaves them ravenously hungry). Their heads are always different: generally idealised representations of people the Whistler's original host once dreamt of. If that love was true and reserved for one person alone, then only one head will be present and near perfect. If that host longed for more than one person, then multiple faces will develop, with imperfections in their features growing with the number present. These slack jawed, drooling countenances are all sculpted from flesh, hair included, so as to resemble awful, glistening statuary. The creature has one functioning mouth set into it's upper trunk. Beneath this horrible lamprey like orifice are arrayed row upon row of pendulous mammary sacs.
Their means of locomotion are extremely limited, having to rely only upon long spindly arms and barely obedient cephalopodium. Ultimately they bind themselves to surfaces wherever they find themselves lairing, in a fashion akin grotesque barnacles. The lair is of particular significance to the Dream Whistler, being in a sense, a part of it's body (and hunting routine). They secrete themselves in lonely places of beauty...beneath crumbled bridges, in the dark of mossy forgotten crypts, at the bottom of crumbling wells, in the hollows of great dead oaks. Places where lovers might wander and carve their names into wood or stone and perhaps leave a little of themselves behind.
How do they get there? Some say that they are born from the death anguish of suicidal unrequited love. The monster manifests near a place where someone has taken their own life out of despair (this is partly true). Others suggest that (and these scholars are perhaps more accurate in their assessment), the Whistler gestates within dreams and whilst still tiny, manifest physically within the cerebellum, ultimately exiting the host via the nasal cavity. This can be the result of grotesque magics, but the spectre of spontaneous creation is also postulated as viable. If this be so, could our very dreams be merely incubators for monstrosities? If so, what then of our true natures?
The Dream Whistler, once created, secretes itself in the aforementioned lair and waits. A kind of hidden antennae set within the creatures' head area, picks up electromagnetic signals from nearby psyches. These are nearly always the minds of romantics, given to wandering and contemplation in places of serenity: poets, artists and lovers--- the forlorn, the lost, the pining and the mad. Once it has detected such a mind, it makes an imprint of the brains waveform and then 'pings' this waveform on a frequency only detectable in deep sleep.
The chosen, wherever he is, receives this waveform and it alters the very fabric of his dreaming. Any loved one that appear in the dreamers' sleeping worlds, can be replaced by an illusionary puppet under the control of the Dream Whistler. This puppet looks, speaks and acts exactly as the dreamer would expect of the loved one being replaced. It then attempts to lure the dreamer back to the place of serenity. This manifests beyond mere reverie. The suggestion or 'whistle' is strong enough to induce somnambulism. The poor slumbering victim will rise from his place of rest and make his way physically to the lair of the Dream Whistler. This may take several attempts over a number of nights and/or weeks. Sometimes the whistle is lost (lead blocks it as do more exotic, magical materials) and the victim awakens to find themselves miles from civilisation in the darkness of the countryside. In terror they flee home, but the process will only repeat itself, night after night.
Upon arrival at the lair of the Dream Whistler, the victim remains asleep, perceiving the image of the dreamt loved one waiting with open arms, drawing the sleep walker to fall into their loving embrace. In reality, the Dream Whistler's physical manifestation enjoys or needs to consume a certain amount of fatty tissue and compels it's victims to suckle at it's grotesque teats. These mammary glands produce something akin to an opiate/glucose/milk. The Dream Whistler will then nurture the victim for weeks. Throughout that time the poor dreamer never awakens, sucking greedily at the things narcotic breasts, insensible to the straining of their flesh and skin, the weird milk coursing through their bodies. In a short period of time, victims are flabby, oily mockeries of their former selves and ready to be plucked like gross fruit.
The ultimate fate of the Whistler's victims is to be messily devoured, lifted with ropey arms and stuffed into the waiting maw. This process is surprisingly swift, considering the measured pace of the Dream Whistler's hunting and fattening ritual; the victim is only barely aware of their own grisly demise as their somnolent bliss is ended.
Hunting the Dream Whistler is not impossible and upon discovery, it can be destroyed with flame and steel. The fact that it is largely stationary works against it. However, it is more than capable of defending itself and is able to use it's milk gorged victims as loyal and suicidal bodyguards (for their part, they perceive attackers as monsters invading their dreaming or threatening their beloved). The creature is dangerously psionic and is capable of employing surges of brain cooking energy waves. Finally, it's long, ropey arms clutch and grasp spasmodically and unpredictably, attempting to grab and then eat brave adventurers.
The final tragedy, is that upon the Dream Whistlers death, it's former victims are never able to truly forget their experience. They pine for that long dream wherein they were glutted upon ambrosia in the arms of their beloved. Following a period wallowing in a wasteland of cakes, pastries and other fattening foods (which they crave following the cessation of the Dream Whistler's milk), they are eventually found, having taken their own lives, at or near the old lair of the Dream Whistler. But before that moment comes, there is yet a worse horror: a freshly incarnated Dream Whistler (the same one?) crawls from the victims nasal cavity to nest anew... to whistle once more into the darkness for prey.
I'm going to forego the dice roll required to get a species variant. I figure you'll only use the Dream Whistler once. Plus I'm lazy. Also...yeah, I'm lazy.
Characteristics Attributes. Location AP/HP
STR: (20) AP 2 (+3 for heads)------ 1-6 Cephalapodium 2/13
CON: (19) Damage Modifier +2d6 -- 7– 9 Abdomen 2/13
SIZ: (44) Magic Points 17 ------------ 10-12 Chest 2/14
DEX: (6) Movement Immobile ---------13-15 Right Arm 2/11
INT: (10) Strike Rank 8 ------------ 16-18 Left Arm 2/11
POW: (17) Armour : 'Almost-flesh'. --19-20 Head 2/12
Abilities: Dark Sight, Grappler, Multi-Headed (3), Terrifying, Swallow (After successful grab), Psychic Emanations
Skills: Athletics19% Brawn 90% Endurance 80% Perception 70% Sing (Whistle) 95% Willpower 88%
Combat Style: Clutching Horror
Weapon Size/Force Reach Damage AP/HP
Bite M T 1d6+2d6 As for Head
Claw H VL 1d6+2d6 As for Arm (victims grabbed , will be moved towards the mouth for biting and swallowing)
An immature Dream Whistler has only 2hp per location and no armour, but possesses a Movement speed of 6.
The Dream Whistler's Psychic Emanations can be detected only in sleep and only if the dreamer has passed close to the lair of the Dream Whistler. The Dream Whistler first attempts a psychic 'mark' which grants it a long range connection. This attempt is imperceptible to the victim. A Resisted Willpower roll is required, with failure indicating that the Dream Whistler has established a connection. From that point on, the Whistler will enter the dreams of the victim night after night...each night requiring another Willpower roll to resist sleep walking towards its lair. Whilst the Dream Whistler is present inside the mind of the victim, normal sleep is impossible, the victim being rendered Weary for the duration of the psychic onslaught. The victim, upon arriving at the lair of the Dream Whistler, does not awake and immediately nestles into the creatures blubber to glut itself on the creatures milk.
The Dream Whistler's milk is a POT 95 toxin (resisted by Willpower) that induces blissful hallucinations and subservience to the monster. For each week of suckling, the victim gains a point of SIZ and loses a point of CON.
As mentioned above, the Whistler is capable of using its psychic power to do more than merely lure the weak to their deaths. It is capable of launching a Psychic Wrack (see Luther Arkwright p.62) which damages the body of the target. It may spend 1 MP+1MP per target and, if it succeeds in a Willpower vs target's Willpower, deals an intensity 5 psychic burn to the victim. This manifests as d8 damage right to the head, bypassing any armour unless head gear is made of lead. For the purposes of magical protection, consider the psychic wrack to possess a magnitude of 3.
Note: Obviously the Dream Whistler makes an eerie whistling sound...like a fragment of a tune. This whistling sounds quite disarming and out of place.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Here's some bit of funk from my Runequest 6 game...essentially built around the toils of the DIY scene. Enjoy it for what it's worth. I'll try and post more shit in upcoming days and weeks.
The Book of Fundaments
Mythos and History
It is said amongst certain scholars, that mankind and possibly all sentient life began amidst the Garden of Ulfire. At some point, man rebelled against the prime architect for he wished to perceive himself perfected. Alas, nothing perfect could tolerate separation. Only in unity was the 'one' realised. The primal colour, Ulfire, became many and these new colours and the newly born perceptions which governed them exploded outwards, creating the multiverse and all things.
St Marten was the wise man that first codified this knowledge in a coherent form. Like many Hermetics, he sought the truth behind the universe. He rejected the quasi-gnosticism of the worshipers of Thassaidon as self aggrandising. He laughed off the studies of the Silent Voice as being a decadent exercise in daemonism. Instead, he found wisdom amongst the cult of Metronon with their invisible god and its sacramental knowledge of the prime building matter of the multiverse (the Cube of Metronon, the unifying particle ).
However, where that cult was concerned with the glorification of Metronon and creation as it stood, St Marten considered reality to be 'unnatural'. The multiverse was in a state of malaise brought upon by self perception. Only by returning to the conditions at the beginning, to resurrect the Garden of Ulfire, could any kind of truth be found.
St Marten traveled the length and breadth of the world...from Vornheim to Jukai...from Macmóhrda to Yoon Suin, observing different practices and distilling their wisdom into a grimoire...the Book of Fundaments. In it, he gathered together the sum total of knowledge regarding the fusing of matter, spirit, time and space.
Naturally, St Marten gathered about him others of a learned and fervent persuasion. A lodge was built in Vornheim, declaring itself to be 'The Hermetic Order of the Infinite Thought', though it did little other than study in seculsion and donate heavily to the coffers of various institutions, not least the Lord's Treasury and the Eminent Cathedral. At any rate, the generosity of the Order ensured it was left alone.
St Marten left the Order he had accidentally founded, after some 15 years. He announced to his brethren and to his fellow Hermeticists, that the calculations and formulae within the Book of Fundaments were 'overly complex', its obsession with theurgy a distraction and overall a 'muddying of wisdom'. Meditation and inward contemplation were the way back towards Ulfire, not an attempt to manipulate the outer cosmos. With a small core of loyal students, he went south and was never seen again. However, the Order which he created and the grimoire about which it was founded would go from strength to strength.
The Order of the Infinite Thought organises itself along classic Heremtic lines, recognising apprentices, adepts, practicioners, magi and a single arch-magi. Since St Marten abandoned the Order, its leaders have taken a more active role in society, acting as advisors to local aristocrats and sorcerous troubleshooters with whom favour can be found through the promise of future boons.
In recent times, following the Church of Metronon's lurch into fundamentalsim and their subsequent crack down on Witch Craft and Blood Magic (Folk magic in my campaign), the Order has found a new niche, styling itself as 'White Wizards', willing and able to assist the Church in rooting out as many witches, demons, necromancers and diabolists as it is able. The cynical suggest that the Order is targetting its enemies and suggest that it will not be long before they turn the fury of the Metronon cult upon the other Hermetic orders. Others whisper that the Order are playing a dangerous game that may end with them being cast upon the very pyres they profess to feed.
One must pass a series of tests designed to shake the applicant's faith in the reality they cherish and know. This is usually accomplished by showing them visions of their own demise and demonstrating how little the world notices or cares. Hallucinogenic mushrooms are consumed and applicants attempt to free themselves from a maze constructed of memories. Only through philosophical unity with their own past may they escape the maze and be accepted into the Order. Philosphers are valued over artists or scientists...especially those who hold abstract, objective, nihilistic or absurdists ideas to be the bedrock of their being.
The grimoire is only accessible to Practicioners and above. Thus one requires a master and apprentice realtionship to progress. If one were to lay one's hands upon the grimoire, it would be discovered to be quite accessible. St Marten was essentially writing a text book or instruction manual. It was written to be understood. Since then, the magi in control of the work have occluded its lore via a series of invented lingual cyphers. Their premeinence depends upon not allowing others free access to the grimoire. The original, concise, uncoded original is kept within an adamant vault beneath the Lodge, guarded by a monstrous space goat. If one were to find it, they would be surprised at its clean, unassuming appearance; red leather with vellum pages, adorned with a simple ring, cast in copper.
Lore (Customs of Unifaction), Lore (Theurgic Laws of Attraction), Invoke (Book of Fundaments), Shaping, Willpower.
Interestingly, since the book is something of a grand anthropological study and it is on hand, its oberved nuance can be used to forge a philosophical mystic link to foreign cultures and individuals one encounters. Within its pages are reams of text on the factors that ruminate upon the factors that link all things to the self or 'the one'. In game terms, given 1d4 days of study, a sorcerer can construct a dialectical theorem. This theorem allows the sorcerer to cast spells upon a given individual or group and ignore Shaping restrictions and cost on Range (treat as if the target has been afflicted with a Mark spell of infinite range, with an intensity equal to the spell spell being cast). When the Book of Fundaments is utilised in this way, it levitates half a foot above the surface it initially rested upon and the copper ring on its cover emits primal Ulfire light (David Lindsay in 'A Voyage to Arcturus', describes Ulfire as being 'wild and painful').
The above is not generally known. Indeed, only the original grimoire possesses this potent capabilty (latter encoded copies have been shorn of much of St Martens rambling notes on culture and philosophy, the magi responsible mistakingly believing these scribblings to be tangenital to the true meat of the spells contained therein).
Folk Magic: Glue
Sorcery: Mark (Symbol of Connection), Portal (Spatial Unity), Summon (Instantaneous Presence), Loxodromic Phasing (See Monster Island), Attract-Creatures/Magic/Spirits (Infallible Oneness), Transmogrify (Come Together) *
*The version of Transmogrify within the Grimoire is a powerful, yet limited variant. In essence, the target can be transformed into any substance, so long as that substance is touching the targets unadorned surface or bare skin.
Meditiating on 'oneness', the true student of the Book attains a kind of primordial insight. He may immediately trade in his Invocation and Shaping for Meditation and Mysticism resepctively. This takes approximately 1d3+5 weeks of study and a successful Invocation (Book of Fundaments) roll.
The Ulfire Path has been followed only by a select few, including St Marten. Its details remain hidden for now...
Allies and Enemies: Currently, the Order of Infinite Thought counts the Church of Metronon (or whatever monotheistic, invisible arsehole god your setting enjoys) as allies. It enthusiastically courts its witch finders and crusading priesthood, though as mentioned above, this is a tenuous and opportunistic relationship.
It counts both the Hermetic Order of the Silent Voice and the Hermetic Order of the 66 Archons as enemies. They see the adherents of the Infinite Thought as unpredictable backstabbers engaged in a Faustian pact with forces that threaten to destroy them all.
Credit to Zak S. for his inspirational 'Vornheim', Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess for 'Fire on the Velvet Horizon' and Noisms for 'Yoon Suin '. All OSR stuff, but also amazing for Runequest.