Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Work-in-Progress: A Few New Geomorphs

So in-between bouts of drawing more monsters and getting some work done on Wermspittle, I've been tinkering around with some sketchy geomorphs, for example...

and...

and...

...all of which are works-in-progress and the final versions will no doubt undergo a few changes or revisions as things move along.

The first sample tile is part of a set that I've been building for Dave's Mapper off and on for a while now. The full set will be simple black and white, but I wanted to experiment a little with some gray tones toward the center of the tile.

The second sample-tile is for a set for what's beneath Wermspittle. The grays were dropped-in willy-nilly in order to test how it works--the final version will have a more coordinated gradation scheme and I may add-in a few more details. I was toying with the notion of converting all of these tiles over to a sepia-esque look, perhaps something like this...


...or not. Once the set is completed, I'll try-out some variations and will post a few more samples here to solicit some feedback.

The third sample-tile is part of a set of four I did while still a bit feverish and were intended for the Community Geomorph Project at the Save Vs Dragon blog. I'm not sure how well they'll fit into that effort, but if they aren't suitable, I'll use them as seed-morphs for building some new maps for something else.

Well, those give you some idea of what sort of geomorphs I have simmering on the back-burner. My main focus has been in getting a stockpile of new monsters drawn-up so that if I do go ahead and set-up a Patreon thingy, I have stuff already done and ready to go before I open it up. The goal for this was to have 500 sketches done before the end of the year and I've broken the 400-mark. I just might make this goal after all, which cheers me up a great deal since I lost quite a bit of productivity-time being sick these last few months. Since I'm feeling better, I'm getting more stuff done and hopefully I can get caught-up on a few projects that have been nagging at me. I'm happy to be making progress again and getting things done.

Oh and speaking of getting things done, I have some aliens coming out in the new OSR Quarterly, and will be sending Tim some critters for The Manor and I think there's another item on my To-Do list that ought to go out later today...so yeah...it feels good to get things done and out. Very good.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

From the Sketchbook [24 November, 2015]

This is still a bit rough, but since I drew it last night and only had half an hour to mess about with it today, it will do as a Work-In-Progress example of the sort of thing I've been working on lately. I'm feeling a lot better and I'm getting things done, though I am by no means back up to full speed just yet. So while I may not be posting as often or as regularly these days, I am making progress on various projects. Lots of fresh new content from Wermspittle, including more tables and monsters, and Bujilli will resume as well...but you'll need to bear with me as we navigate our way through the impending holidaze and all that comes along with the Krampus-o-rific season of misrule...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Even the Best-Made Plans...


Envious and unsympathetic, cold and calculating, these decadent descendants of a vast, star-begotten empire that had once stretched across the intractable gulfs of space looked down upon our world and determined that they would make it theirs. But their plans of conquest went awry...



...the recent hiatus was unplanned, but unavoidable. Now that I'm feeling better, I am at work on more new Wermspittle and other long-overdue things.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 143

Previously...
The Chrononautical Airship Wanderjahr is under attack by a rival gang of pirates. Bujilli and Leeja have carried the wounded first officer to the sick-bay. Now hostile blob-things are plopping through some sort of interdimensional aperture...

One by one a series of squishy gray-green blobs wiggled and jiggled through an aperture just barely large enough to accommodate their boneless bodies. A foul, gray smog dribbled through a bit more with each new creature that plopped out into the sick-bay waiting room area. The creatures had eight pseudopods surrounding a single glaring black eye and they were clearly hostile. Each one was armed with various hacking and slashing weapons and they appeared intent on putting their blades to harmful use.

"I doubt they're going to want to be our friends..." Leeja laughed as she drew forth her hand-axe.

"They're Transvectors. If they kill us, they'll ransack our dead brains for whatever spells they can salvage." Bujilli had encountered one of these things before. Years ago. In his Uncle's yurt. It had been sent to murder them both in their sleep by his Uncle's one and only apprentice.

"They bleed if we cut them, right?"

"Usually, yes. but they are sorcerers in their own right so--"

Harsh green flames erupted from the tips of  the closest blog-thing. Acrid yellow-green chlorine gas swirled like dragon's breath as the creature flailed its limbs about.

Bujilli knew he had to act fast. He cast Julidi's Darts directly into the central eye of the out-gassing blob-thing. The eye exploded, yellow syrupy fluids spewed onto the floor.

"This is a place of healing. How dare you engage in violence here of all places. Get Out!" a stocky nurse wearing a blood-spattered apron over her medical habiliment pointed to the door with the poise and authority of an affronted empress.

The chlorine gas dispersed. The damaged blob-thing convulsed pitifully on the floor in a pool of fluids and mushy bean-like masses of internal tissue.

The other three blobs began to move toward the door.

"Don't even try it. We'll do what we can for your friend--" the nurse scowled at Bujilli; "and send them along back to you, however things turn out. But you are not going to invade this ship from here. So either you go back now of your own accord, or I send you on your way and I promise that you won't like where I'll send you."

The three remaining blob-things hovered over the thrashing form of their fallen comrade. Their eyes fixed in anger and hatred on Bujilli. For a tense moment it seemed as if the blobs were going to continue their attack regardless of the nurse.

She sighed in disgust then shut down the aperture with a curt gesture; "Fine. Be that way." Then she made three successive gestures that left a peculiar pink afterglow in the air around her right hand and the blobs were gone, including their grievously wounded fellow.

"You too!" The nurse growled and shooed Bujilli and Leeja out of the waiting room back into the corridor; "If you run into a janitor, let them know we could use one."

The door slammed.

Bujilli and Leeja stood there staring at the door in disbelief.

"I'm not sure what just happened..."

"Probably better to not think about it too much." Bujilli scratched his chin. His beard needed a trim.

"I can still hear fighting down that way," Leeja pointed the way they had come from. The clang and clatter of close-quarters combat was getting louder as it approached them.

"I'm fine with going the other way for now--this is not our fight and I'm disinclined to get caught-up in things..."

"I'd rather we didn't find ourselves on the wrong side."

"Agreed. Let's find the helm or whatever they use to steer this ship around."

"The command and control area?"

"Sure. That sounds right."

"Then what?"

"We take over the ship while everyone is busy fighting--"

Six lightly armored combat homunculi armed with cutlasses and small bucklers trotted around the corner. Each one had a large red, green or blue number painted across their torso, the front of their helmet, and across their buckler. Bujilli froze in mid-sentence and began to prepare another spell--Zymurgic Disgestion this time. Leeja raised her hand-axe.

The combat homunculi trotted past them.

Bujilli watched them go down the corridor. He lost sight of them as they turned another corner and the sounds of fighting got a lot louder all of a sudden.

"That was weird." Leeja looked at him questioningly.

"I think that we're still technically guests of the Baroness."

"Ah. That makes sense. Maybe we can use that to our advantage."



Meanwhile...
Electricity coursed through the coils and a violet radiance flickered deep within the fluid condensers. Loops of seven-metal cables coated with gutta-percha led from the crackling, sparking, smoking apparatus to the inert form of their fallen master. Ozone cut through the lingering stench of corruption and grave mold. The nosferatu cultists twitched with every discharge or wild arc of errant power. They stood huddled around the lead-lined coffin, claws shaking, rat-fangs dripping, their beady eyes glowing lurid red in anticipation of the fulfillment of their clever scheme. Retaliation and revenge would soon be theirs! The master would rise again! The vampiric minions didn't hear the squeaking and scratching of the hordes of rats descending upon them as Old Man Putney directed his little friends against their once and former tormentors. The rats harbored a deep and abiding resentment towards these once human things that had lorded it over them for so very long. Many were still mere animals, most in fact, but here and there among them were larger, smarter specimens, rats who remembered and who hated and had ambitions of their own and who went along with the one they considered an ally. For now... 





Neither of them had ever been on a real airship before, so they spent as much time wandering about lost as they did trying to avoid clusters of combatants. The mis-matched and rag-tag members of the Baroness' crew and their squads of Pruztian homunculi put up as good a fight as they could manage against the crew of aerial brigands or mercenaries who had boarded the ship.

After passing through yet another corridor littered with bodies and discarded weapons, Bujilli decided to take a better look at who they were dealing with, so he examined one of the brigand's face-masks. It incorporated built-in goggle-lenses and a pair of tubes that connected to a brass cylinder strapped to their chests. The mask had a set of clasp-like catches that popped free easily enough. It was well-made stuff. Then he saw the face behind the mask.

"What is that?" Leeja hissed.

Gray, wrinkled, the brigand's face was wizened in a disturbingly unnatural manner. Stiff whitish whiskers and hairs stuck out every which way. Their eyes were oozing pink orbs surrounded by puffy, gray folds of flesh with lines of scabrous flakes spiraling outwards. There were three or four small brass hooks still holding folds of flesh together on each cheek. The thing reeked of stale vinegar and moldy cheese.

"I've never seen anything like it."

"Are they human?"

"I don't have the least idea how to answer that. I mean...we're both--"

"Look out!" Leeja chopped her hand-axe into the arm of the unmasked brigand. A wickedly serrated knife clattered to the floor. They slumped, head lolling, mouth gaping to expose six rows of sharp iron teeth.

Bujilli shoved the corpse back against the wall and made sure it was dead before he released it. His Counsel displayed a sequence of simplified glyphs in his peripheral vision. One designated the gray-skinned creature as definitively Abhuman. Another denoted 'Unnatural,' and a third was for 'Hostile.'
But that was all preliminary speculation based upon its very limited observations--whatever this creature was, it was not something the machine etched into Bujilli's bones could either recognize or name.

"This thing has teeth like a manticore." Leeja scooped up the knife.

"Manticore? I've never seen one--"

"Yes you have. In the beast-pens where we first met. It was the large lion-thing with the man-face and spiked-tail..."

"Oh the strange not-cat thing. Yes. I remember it now. I didn't know that it had teeth like that."

"Most people never notice the teeth, it's usually the spikes that get you."

"Do you think these things are related to manticores then?"

"I don't know. All I can say is that those are not the teeth of an herbivore...so we might want to avoid getting taken prisoner by these things."

Bujilli considered collecting a sample or three, but he didn't feel it was the best use of his time. They still had not found the helm or control center. So they kept moving.

They avoided two more pitched battles between the gray-folk and the homunculi. Leeja had six new knives in her belt. Bujilli had four. Then they came to a junction where three corridors met and merged into a round chamber. On the far side of the chamber was a massive opening. Cables, ropes and netting held a smaller airship in-place. Bodies were strewn all over the place. Mostly homunculi and crew-members in their gaudy, mis-matching uniforms.

"This must be the brigand's ship."

"It appears unguarded."

"They were probably too busy fighting their way inside this ship to leave anyone behind..."

"That would be stupid. Unless they had no intention of leaving. I've heard about some tribes in the Septagoorean Archipelago that will set fire to their canoes or rafts so that they cannot retreat when they invade a rival's island. Maybe these gray-things intend to take this ship...or die trying."

"I say we take it."

"What?"

"Let's get out of here!" Leeja ran to the tethered airship.

For a moment Bujilli hesitated. He didn't know where he was, where the other airship had come from, who the gray-things were, why they--it simply didn't matter. He ran to catch up to his partner. She beat him to the ladder, but he was the faster climber.

Within half an hour they managed to get the airship operational and began clearing the lines. After hacking through the second cable Bujilli decided it would be easier, and faster if one of them un-did the knots while one of them kept the ship as steady as possible.

That proved to be far easier said than done and he nearly got crushed twice before finally getting the last line cut loose--he gave up on the knot and resorted to his hand-axe.

He returned to the pilot's gondola just as Leeja pulled the release for the nose-tether clamps.

The airship lurched to the left. Shivered. Shuddererd. Then the fans kicked in and they began moving backwards, away from the larger airship.

"I'm not sure what half of these dials or levers or other controls do, but it has a wheel for steering it like a riverboat and there are levers right here that let you raise or lower the nose." Leeja demonstrated the controls. She was like a small child with an amazing new toy.

"Good. You seem to have everything under control for now..."

"It is pretty handy that everything is labelled in Franzik, so we have a chance to work out what each of the labels mean." Leeja was beaming happily. She'd never stolen an airship before.

"Good. Get us out of here, as far away from the Baroness and her airship as quickly as you can. I'm going to go check the rest of the ship. I don't want to get surprised by some stow-away or guard that was sleeping on duty or whatever."

"Which way should I go?"

"I don't know. Pick a direction. One's as good as another. You decide."

Click. The Synchronocitor snapped into visibility and hovered before a black box-like apparatus off to the right of the great wheel that steered the ship. Violet light flickered along the mechanism as it began to pulse.

"What is happening?" Leeja whispered.

"I'm not sure."

Transpositional Engines at one-third power. Initiating System Recharge Protocol.

"Does that mean what I think it does?" Leeja smiled mischievously.

"It means we can take this ship just about anywhere we want...once it is fully charged."

"Well I'm going to take us...hmmm...North for now. We can let the magic doohicky thing there recharge things for now."

"It's a Synchronocitor. It isn't...it's...I don't know what it is really, only that it gives the person who operates it the means to travel from one world to another. I've never really had a chance to examine it very closely, or to experiment with it. I don't really know what all it might be capable of doing."

"You might want to consider looking into that when you get back from making your rounds. Hey. Do you want me to come along? I can lock the wheel into position...as long as we're not gone for too long, that ought to be alright."

"I'm not sure I trust that. I'll go it alone this time."

"Fine. I offered. Bring me back something to eat, will you?"

Bujilli headed up the ramp that led up from the pilot gondola into the body of the airship where the inner decks were located, hand-axe at the ready...



Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Recharging Transpositional Engine number one: currently at 28% and charging.


Roll for Initiative...
Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Anyone/anything that might be up there inside the seemingly abandoned airship.

Then...
We need to decide which direction Bujilli will go first once he reaches the top of the ramp. He can go right, left or forward. Right leads to six doors set into the walls of a hexagonal chamber, as does going left. Going towards the tail-section leads down a 12' wide catwalk with another set of the hexagonal chambers set thirty feet away. The catwalk continues another thirty feet to a single hexagonal chamber at the end. If Bujilli looks around a bit before heading down the catwalk, he'll see that there is a loop around the ramp-entrance and the catwalk extends towards the front of the airship about half as far as the one that leads back towards the tail-section. That section of catwalk also terminates in a hexagonal chamber. So which direction should Bujilli go first? Do you want him to go toward the nose or the tail first? Should he open every door, or just make a quick check of things? Is there a spell he might consider using in this situation?

More Dice...
We need a few D20 rolls, a well as a few d6 rolls in order to sort out any potential encounters, salvageable bits, unattended loot, supplies, etc.

And Then...
Now Bujilli and Leeja have their own airship and the Synchronocitor is getting it ready to transition to another world at their command. So where should they go? What should they do first? Any suggestions or questions? Let me know in the comments!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Octovoidal Transvectors

Four gray blobs wiggled and jiggled through the aperture. Each of them wielded a variety of melee weapons in their pseudopods that surrounded a single glaring black eye...


Octovoidal Transvectors
No. Enc.: 2d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 4 [15] (tentacles 6[13])
Hit Dice: 6+
Attacks: 1d4
Damage: 1d4+1 per tentacle, or by weapon
Save: MU3+
Morale: 10

Special: These loathsome things can only gain spells by plundering the brains of their dead victims. It requires 1d4 hours per level of spell to remove it form a corpse, but if the process is interrupted at any point, the spell randomly discharges and is lost, rendering the victim's brain unusable by the Transvector.

Squishy, soft, bloated sacs of interstitial fluids with demented dreams of conquest; Transectors prey upon spell-casters to amass personal power. They dwell deep within the fringes of obscure regions where the laws of nature break down and all manner of nightmares and insanity run rampant. Cold, inhumanly callous and completely self-serving, these flaccid interdimensional narcissists only cooperate with one another while one of them retains enough power over the others to ensure their obedience, but given half a chance, they will harvest spells from the brains of their would-be masters, one-time peers or foolish allies as they would from anyone else.

All spells that target humans affect the Transvectors, leading to some unpleasant speculation among sorcerers and scholars.


Inspiration: The Octovoidal Transvectors are related to the more octopoidal forms of Mucoids, some of whom have established isolated colonies in deeply weird interstitial regions of time/space. Little is actually known about these beings, though they are extremely hostile to Interstitial Insectoids, seem to have some sort of agreement with the Thysanurians, and are rumored to employ War Grubs from Nhorr to patrol their fortified domains.

A more barbaric form of these creatures are the Octovoidal Degenerates, who will be addressed in their own entry.

From The Sketchbook (4)

A wicked wizard from Patraal...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Clatterdelve, T'Zugri, etc.


Work proceeds at a snail's pace on Clatterdelve. The one 'false entrance' mini-level we released previously is just one of six such 'false entrances' that might or might not lead would-be looters and explorers to this infamous inter-dimensional redoubt...

Clatterdelve was put on the back-burner in favor of some other projects that are now nearing completion, and once I wrap-up work on T'Zugri, I am considering posting a monthly look into the depths of Clatterdelve for the curious.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 142

Previously...
Hauled aboard the Chrononautical Airship Wanderjahr, Bujilli 7 Leeja are brought before the baroness-commander only to get caught in the cross-fire when an unknown assailant strikes...

"Baroness--" Oberleutnant Schaungrazz stopped in mid-step as a wet scarlet flower blossomed from his right shoulder, then another erupted from his left thigh. Sparks jumped from a three other spots where his cuirass deflected a hail of bullets.

"Death has found you Margaret!" yelled a burly man in blackened chain-mail as he cast aside his modified six-barreled fowling-piece and drew forth a pair of short but heavy sabers and charged directly at the Baroness. The fowling piece clattered and clicked as parts of it retracted or rotated or slid into new positions. It took on the form of a sort of candelabra, only with fluorescent tubes flickering into life in place of candles. Then a stick-man figure crafted from cunningly crafted brass rods peeled itself out of it's notch and began the process of reloading each of the barrels. The six glowing tubes started to hum with a menacing electrical current.

Bujilli caught the wounded officer as he crumpled to the catwalk and dragged him back, away from the impending carnage. Leeja started ripping off sections of the Oberleutnant's jacket-lining to bind his wounds. They were stopped by the railing. In order to get away, they would need to get past the attacker or else go the long way around, past the Baroness.

The attacker stalked right past them. He clearly didn't consider them worth his attention. But the Barnoness was staring at them both in surprise through reflective golden eyes.

Sparks ricocheted from the catwalk to the man in black chain-mail. Tiny blue arcs leaped form the man's armored arms and shoulders to the railings and metal fixtures. Bujilli could feel the surge as power built-up around the candelabra that used to be a gonne. The stink of Ozone assaulted his nostrils.

The Baroness brought up her hands, not to surrender but to ward off the crackling blue cascade of electrical energy that washed past her attacker to form a globe about her and him...and Bujilli, Leeja and the wounded Oberleutnant...and the surly Ourang.

The aeronautical homunculi stood in mindless obedience while the gargoyle screeched and scrabbled at its chains trying to get free.

Pink flames rose into the electrically-charged air from the Baroness' out-stretched hands, but it was not enough to counter the crackling globe of energy that surrounded them now. With a nod she relinquished her efforts and withdrew the flames as though she were merely playing a game of chess that had only now gotten interesting.

"You have no right to invade my ship!"

"I serve the Keepers of the Keys--"

"Liar! You answer to the Faceless Lords of Zevaq. You always have. Pawn."

The man in black halted three paces from the Baroness. His sabers shimmered like glass or ice as electrical arcs skittered along their edges. The globe of electrical power pulsed. The candelabra-device at the center of the globe hummed more loudly. Bujilli felt the immense powers coming into play. His hair was standing on end from all the static. They needed to get out of here. Fast.

"Take his feet. We're getting out of here." He hefted the unconscious Schaungrazz, adjusted his grip and began to trot toward the nearest exit-point he recognized; back the way they had entered this chamber, past the candelabra-device. Bujilli hoped against hope that the man in black-mail would ignore them a little longer, so they could make their escape. This was not a fight he anted to get caught-up in.

"Alowawa ullititi gan-gosh-i-rosh." The surly Ourang rose to it's feet and drew forth a wicked looking club fitted with hundreds of screws with their pointed ends jutting out every which way and spinning madly.

"Silence. Beasts should not talk in rude imitation of their betters." The man in black-mail thrust one saber in a sort of looping motion directed at the Ourang. Lightning sprang from the super-charged floor to blast the creature in its mid-section...



Meanwhile...
Jomish watched the sun set behind the columns that stretched up past the clouds into the dark night above. He counted sixteen pylons topped with golden orbs before the angle of the light changed and the valley was plunged into darkness. Just at the very limit of his physical sight she came into view; a small seemingly inconsequential speck in the far distance. No one would ever mistake such an insignificant thing for a Princess. there wasn't even a glint of dying light to betray her silver-alloy arm. But then she wasn't a princess any more, not since her disgrace and exile from Ylgreve. Jomish smiled; it would be an intriguing challenge to work with this one. Her head was filled with faulty assumptions and so much misplaced malice while her heart was a seething furnace of pride and arrogance and hatred...much as his had been when he first came here all those long years ago... 





Bujilli and Leeja carried Oberleutnant Schaungrazz back along the catwalk encircling the central glass globe, putting as much distance between them and the Baroness and her attacker as they could.

The Ourang wobbled on its feet and lurched towards his killer, but dropped to its knees after four shuffling steps. Dead.

Screeching and struggling furiously, the gargoyle managed to snap one of the links in its chains and flew up into the durallium rafters overhead.

The door closed and they were in the corridor hung with tapestries, so they kept going. They passed two dismembered aeronautical homunculi and a cluster of combatants in mis-matched uniforms whom they managed to avoid by the simple expedient of ducking down another passage and waiting for them to pass.

"Where are we going?" Leeja whsipered.

"There." Bujilli nodded his head in the direction of a familiar doorway. The sick-bay where Leeja had been treated upon arrival. They carried Schaungrazz inside and the nurses quickly took over, leaving them standing in the foyer all alone.

"Those crew-members we passed..."

"Pirates. Or worse." Leeja nodded.

"Their uniforms and insignia seem to be almost random. I spotted Franzikaner things mixed-in with Nagrothean and some stuff I've never seen before, as well as the Pruztian and Voldarian things...and I thought Voldaria was a country only active where I came form originally..."

"There were two of them wearing White Guard armor, but I'd swear they were neither Jeelo nor Pallid. This makes no sense." Leeja went to the door to keep watch on the corridor.

"Well, we can stick around and try to sort it all out, or we can get out of here while the Baroness is occupied by her ungentlemanly caller."

VVVvvvVVVVVvVVvvVvvvVvvvvvvv-----

Hot blue arcs leaped up from the floor panels, scorching the carpet, and singing the walls as the electrical currents coalesced into a narrow oval aperture.

"Oh scheiss..."

Four gray blobs wiggled and jiggled through the aperture. Each of them wielded a variety of melee weapons in their pseudopods that surrounded a single glaring black eye.

"I doubt they're going to want to be our friends..." Leeja laughed as she drew forth her hand-axe...



Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Recompiling Core Datacache to Integrate Recent Influx of New Input.


Roll for Initiative...
Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) The Gray Blobby-things.

Then...
We need a few D20 rolls, a well as a few d6 rolls in order to sort out the impending combat. Also, should Bujilli and Leeja resort to some spells, or just use their weapons, and if so, should Leeja stick with the hand-axe or switch to another weapon? Likewise, should Bujilli rely on his hand-axe or something else? You decide!

And Then...
Should they hide-out in the sick-bay? Go through the aperture that the Gray Blobs used to reach them? Try to find another way off this Airship? Or would you prefer that Bujilli and Leeja did something else? they might help secure the ship from boarders...if they knew which crew was which. They could try to take over control of the ship by taking over the helm or the engine room. They could also try to sabotage the thing or try to find out where the boarders are coming from and try to take over their ship...or maybe you've got a better idea? Let me know in the comments!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Meanwhile (2)

Meanwhile...
Green Ice. Sizzling, acrid, translucent green ice. It was a type of congealed corrosive substance that slowly ate away at the stone floor and the rough-hewn walls of the chamber. Sixteen glyphs inscribed in his field-grimoire and not one of them would do a damned thing about this green ice choking the passage to Aman Utal. His brass hand clicked and clattered wildly every time he approached too near the stuff. It was clearly otherplanar matter; a barrier deliberately erected to impede his progress. But who would do such a thing? His slipper brushed against something hard and cold and half-buried in the snow that still drifted lazily on the air currents within the cavern. It was a small brass monkey figurine with amethyst eyes. He knew without touching the thing that it had been left for him by Lutezzia. One last taunt before she left him trapped and powerless to pursue her any further. He did not give in to his anger. That was what she wanted. Instead he pulled his hood into place and gave the command to turn about. They would leave this place, go back to the tower and find another way to rejoin the hunt. Just imagining her frustration and outrage that he did not play along as she had expected would be repayment enough...almost...


Bujilli has gotten dragged aboard an airship just in time for an assassin to strike at the Baroness in command. There's still time to help us decide what he should do next--You Decide!

Episode 141 (Look Up)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 141

Previously...
the pavement ended suddenly and Bujilli and Leeja found themselves half falling and half sliding down a steeply inclined pit..

Cold gravel scrunched like snapping teeth under Bujilli's boots as he tried to check his momentum. He bent his knees, shifted his weight, used his hands to slow himself down and to not tumble. The gravel around him started to slide so he flopped down on his backside and dug in his heels.

It worked. But only just.

Leeja screeched in pain as she rolled past him in a flickering cloud of hair. She came to a stop less than a dozen feet further down than he was. Her feet were badly scraped and bleeding. gold-green eyes wide with anger at having fallen into a hole in the ground, Leeja started to clamber over the loose gravel towards Bujilli.

"Stop! You're going to start a landslide. We'll get carried even farther down into this pit."

"I'm not staying here..."

"No. Neither of us are. Let me get my bearings and we'll find a way out of here."

"Fine. Just hurry. My feet hurt."

Bujilli cast a minor Glyph of Gloom and sent it floating back towards the lip of the pit.

Gravel. Small rocks. Bits of fractured pavement. No weeds. a piece of something metallic-looking here and there. Possibly some glass fragments as well.

There was nothing to grab onto. No overhanging branches, no sturdy bushes, no protruding pipes or culverts. Just a lot of gravel ready to slide down over them if they weren't careful.

"Scheiss." Bujilli swore softly to himself. This was a bad spot. He felt that he had a good chance of making it out on his own, but he didn't see how Leeja could follow without making the gravel give-way...and that would be catastrophic for them both.

"Looks like you two could use a little help!"

Bujilli looked up. Something darker than the surrounding darkness loomed overhead. Whatever it might be, it was huge and slowly coming down lower and lower towards them...



Meanwhile...
Rinjal set the hammer down. Six spikes ought to be plenty. Especially for a stout oaken door like that. Shame to ruin it, but he didn't want any of those horrid pig-things coming after him. He checked the softly glowing sigils encircling his wrist. Less than three minutes until the next transition... 




Bujilli shifted his position in order to get a better look at whoever it was that was approaching them from above. Dim violet light seeped along the edges of a vast oblong object that floated majestically overhead. Brighter spots winked into view. Markings, symbols, some sort of insignia all became slightly more visible.

"What is it?" hissed Leeja.

"An airship." Bujilli couldn't believe it. No one had seen such a thing for several generations among his mother's people and the folk of Wermspittle had given up on ever seeing one again.

But there it was right overhead.

"Here! Grab hold of the harness and get it around you so we can winch you up out of that pit!"

Clank. Scritch. A harness landed less than a foot away from Bujilli.

Leeja yowled in anger. Her harness had landed on her toes.

Bujilli clipped the harness into place as best he could; it was enough like the harness he had used as a dangler that he got it sorted out fairly quickly. Once he was ready he waved to signal that he was ready.

The cable went taut almost instantly. He lifted off from the gravel and started to spin slowly as he was pulled upwards at a constant, steady rate of speed.

He looked back to see that Leeja was not far behind him. Then they were both hauled through an opening in the floor of some compartment. Both their cables stopped at the same moment and they hung there suspended over the mouth of the pit below where they could see what might be water or dark oil down at the center of the crater-like depression. Then the hatch slid shut and they were pulled over to the side and lowered so their harnesses could be removed by a crew of winch operators.

The crew were silent and highly efficient. Each one had a number on their crisply-creased military overalls. Bujilli realized they must be Pruztian-style homunculi. He'd seen an old magazine article on these creatures that his uncle had acquired form a Dravulish trader.

"Welcome aboard the Freeship Wanderjahr." A tall, slim morlock officer wearing a baroque military jacket three sizes too wide and with too short sleeves clicked his boot heels together and saluted them both. "I am Oberleutnant Schaungrazz." the oficer's boots were clad in greave-like armor plates of some yellow metal and he wore a cuirass beneath the lopsided, mis-sized jacket. The insignia of a black three-headed eagle was hard to miss.

"Thank you." Leeja grabbed onto the railing surrounding the hatchway to steady herself.

"Yes. Thank you for getting us out of that pit." Bujilli moved closer and pulled Leeja's arm over his shoulder to help her walk. He whispered to her; "I think we may have been picked up by pirates..."

"Not at all. We were in the area and one of our observers spotted you and the Baroness gave the order to retrieve you from your precarious situation. you are both cordially invited to attend her at your earliest convenience in the forward viewing salon...but first, perhaps we should attend to you my dear--"

"Yes. Please. My feet are still bleeding." Leeja clutched more tightly to Bujilli's shoulders and whispered; "They may just be mercenaries..."

"Of course. Follow me if you please." The officer nodded his head only the slightest bit then turned on their heel and proceeded to march through a doorway that the homunculi-aeronauts quickly opened before him and held open for them all.

Oberleutnant Schaungrazz led them along a narrow corridor into a round chamber then up a set of catwalk-ramps that zig-zagged three times before they came to another wider hallway that led to the main corridor through the center of the airship. They passed more of the silent homunuculi and a couple of other soldiers or sailors who seemed to duck out of sight at their approach.

The sick-bay was a small, but very clean and orderly space overseen by a pair of nurses who quickly tended to Leeja's scrapes, bruises and cuts then gave her a pair of thick felt slippers to use until she could acquire more suitable foot-wear. The entire process was over and done with and they were on their way to meet the Baroness before Bujilli could get a word in edgewise or even ask any questions.

They boarded a small capsule-car that Shaungrazz ordered to take them to the forward viewing salon. Leeja seemed to enjoy the little capsule-car. It made Bujilli nervous. The car slid smoothly into place at a platform flanked by a pair of black eagle statues, both with three heads and a sword in one claw. One wore a monocle, the other a triple-spiked helmet. He didn't get a clear look at the heraldic markings on the shield strapped to their chests.

Lavishly carved wooden doors opened before them. The walls of the intervening corridor were hung with expensive tapestries depicting stylized boar hunts, heroes wrestling with griffins, valiant horsemen charging into battle, cannons bombarding a city under siege and more such scenes. The floor was tiled in a checkerboard pattern of red and black. Another set of doors opened and they entered a round mezzanine space that formed a circle around a globe constructed from hundreds of overlapping layers of little glass hexagons.

Their guide led them to the left and as they came around the globe they could both see the Baroness standing there with her back to them. On either side of her there was a gargoyle wearing a scratched and scored cuirass and heavy spiked collars with chains that were connected into a heavy block of metal. Three more aeronautical homunculi stood off to one side awaiting further orders stood just out of reach of the smaller gargoyle while a surly looking Ourang scowled at their approach in obvious disapproval.

"Baroness--" Oberleutnant Schaungrazz stopped in mid-step as a wet scarlet flower blossomed from his right shoulder, his left thigh, sparks jumped from a three other spots where his cuirass deflected the bullets.

"Death has found you Margaret!" yelled a burly man in blackened chain-mail as he cast aside his modified six-barreled fowling-piece and drew forth a pair of short but heavy sabers and charged directly at the Baroness...



Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Quietly observing the current situation.


Roll for Initiative...
Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) The Mysterious Attacker, 4) The Baroness, 5) Schaungrazz, 6) The Ourang. Right now, the Mysterious Attacker has a +3 bonus to their Initiative, everyone else is suffering a -1 penalty.

Then...
Time to either pick a side, run away or maybe just take cover. Should they get involved? would you rather they attempted to defend the Baroness (she did save them), or should they attack the Mysterious Attacker, or should they try to drag poor Oberleutnant Schaungrazz out of harm's way and try to stop his bleeding? Or so you have a better idea? Let's hear what you think they should do next in the comments...

We can always use a few bonus d6 & d20 die rolls, if anyone would be so kind. Thanks!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 140

Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja quickly,  quietly, carefully moved away from a group of Pit Nibblers who were just attacked with a Fireball spell. Now they must decide if they want to investigate the ancient Barrows before them, or move on toward distant Monoliths, strange trees one of the other peculiar landmarks only now emerging from the stygian gloom...

Rough-hewn and lichen spattered, the Barrow was formed by octagonally-sectioned lengths of basalt stacked one upon another, with the gaps sealed-up by smaller, lighter colored stones, all of which were incised with runes. It didn't help that the grayish lichen clutching the vertical surfaces pulsed feebly and gave off a fetid fragrance. A riotous mass of unwholesome vegetation, most of it distinctly fungal in nature, bulged and sprouted and loomed over the Barrow like a slow motion sculptural interpretation of vomit. The dim reddish flicker seething about the edges of everything only made it all the more unsettling.

Leeja wrinkled her nose at the scent. It did not agree with her. Something crunched underfoot. Bones. Many, many tiny bones. Mice? Rats? Zoogs? The bones were so splintered and gnawed as to form a crunchy carpet that extended all around the Barrows.

Bujilli considered the sharply-sloping ramp leading down through a trench to what was intended to appear as the entrance to this Barrow. The walls of the trench were arranged in a crude pattern, not quite a full-blown mosaic. Gaps and holes were easy to pick out from the trails of bird lime and grime. Three--no four--of the holes showed traces of a sort of black oil leaking out from some sort of reservoir behind the walls. Even the lichen's rancid stench wasn't enough to hide the oil's pungency. He had no doubt that it was incredibly flammable, possibly even toxic.

At regular intervals there were bas-relief carvings set into the walls and little stone daises or platforms, three of them in all, in-between the wall-carvings. At the base of the trench was the supposed doorway underneath a massive lintel that was blocked-up with smaller rocks stacked and mortared into place with a thick white paste-like substance.

Bujilli knew that to disturb the false entrance would result in some sort of trap being triggered, something involving the black oil, or possibly something that was being held in suspension within some sort of pool of the black stuff. There were nasty jelly-things that could be stored within certain substances; he'd read about that sort of thing as part of his preparation for delving into the deep dark for his uncle.

The runes were harsh, angular slashes cut into the stone by something that struck with such force as to craze the surrounding surfaces from the sheer amount of force involved. Each rune was composed of three longer lines and two smaller, shorter lines. No two were the same.

The arrangement disturbed Bujilli; it reminded him of something he once saw as a child. One of the deep places his uncle had taken him in the course of his treacherous double-dealing with various demons, sorcerers or undead.

Undead. Yes. That was it.

Now that he knew what to look for, it was fairly easy to spot. The carvings were stylized skull-faces with gaping mouths and hollow eye-sockets where gems might once have glinted menacingly. Each one spewed a torrent of stylized water the flowed down to the bottom of their tile and then was continued by the almost mosaic pattern of the intervening stones to connect to each of the other carvings, forming a black river.

The Barrows were connected to Nitondre; the Black River of Souls that led to the Gravelands. Bujilli had been brought along by his uncle to meet with the ghouls who plied cold, dark waters of the subterranean river in their elegant funereal barges. He remembered the toothsome grimaces that passed for smiles among the un-masked members of the ghoul's entourage. He recalled all too vividly the ghouls refusal to consider him part of the bargain when his uncle suddenly offered him up to the ghouls to be rid of him. That had gone badly for his uncle. The barge-master had an even more perverse streak than his uncle and insisted that Bujilli be brought along for any future dealings.

His uncle had been furious. Not long after that, he abandoned his arrangements with the ghouls and struck up a conversation with otherplanar entities from Dalash.

Bujilli caught himself. Did not spit in disgust.

"You recognize something about this place?" Leeja stood next to him, one hand on her hand-axe.

"Enough. We can locate the actual entrance, if you're interested, but it isn't just a simple Barrow filled with old grave goods; these structures are connected to someplace dark and vile..."

"They reek of bitter old things best burned and forgotten."

"Except I don't intend to be the one to try and burn them. Let them lie here undisturbed. We have other things to go explore. No sense stirring up this sort of trouble."

Beyond the Barrow, off to either side was another Barrow, more or less similar. There was at least one more to the right. He knew without looking that there would be a fifth Barrow near-by. He meant to avoid them all...



Meanwhile...
Snails clustered around the trap-door set into floor. Fat, blue-striped things. Juicy and stupid. A good sign. Old Man Putney gave his pets the silent all-clear signal and the rats rushed in to snatch-up all the snails. It was a quick, messy little massacre and it left the rats wanting more. Good. He knew hey'd find plenty more to eat down below. He oiled the hinges then eased the trap-door open slowly, taking his time to make sure it didn't make any more sound than necessary--nosferatii were notorious for having keen hearing. It might have been something they gained form their kinship with vermin, with bats, mice and rats...like his little friends. Little did Putney realize that another of his friends was watching him intently from a vantage point just beyond his perceptions. Just as sneaky as the old man. Just as patient. Krosker waited with his finger on the trigger of his crossbow... 




Bujilli moved away from the Barrows. He had no interest in going back towards the Pit Nibblers and whomever had hit them with a Fireball spell. That meant going either right or left, then either continuing in those directions or going around the Barrows to see what might be past them.

To the right were masses of strange 'noodle' things. On the left were more of the petrified coral-trees. Between the 'noodles' and the Trees were gargantuan Monoliths that extended far into the darkness looming over everything.

There seemed to be a gap of some sort between the 'noodle' things and the Monoliths, and the Trees grew more profuse, taller and thicker and more clustered together towards the Monoliths, growing even thicker towards the far left.

"I'm inclined to head more towards the Trees..."

"Monoliths. Definitely the Monoliths." Leeja rejected the notion of getting any closer to those dreadful, grotesque tree-things in a tone that brooked no argument.

"Monoliths then. We'll head that way, after we give these Barrows a wide berth..."

"I don't see why we can't simply cut through in-between them..." Leeja set off at an easy jog, knowing that Bujilli would have to work much harder to keep up with her. He really wasn't much of a runner.

"But..." Bujilli shrugged. There was no point standing there when Leeja had made up her mind and was already in motion. He considered--but only briefly--using his Haste spell to run past her, but thought better of it. No sense in wasting a spell to win a foot-race.

He followed Leeja past the first Barrow, between the next two, then to the left of the fourth one. She kept her pace just slow enough for him to keep up within an arms length of one another.

The air grew colder, cleaner as they left the Barrows behind. The round underneath them was spongy with a type of moss and in places he could spot clumps of blue manda grass jutting out from cracks in tumbled sections of walls and what might be a road of some sort.

Leeja laughed softly, playfully as she sped up upon reaching the fractured pavement.

Bujilli smiled, huffed and puffed, and pushed himself to catch up to his friend.

The pavement ended suddenly.

Leeja tried to stop herself. Bujilli reached out to her...



Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Patiently waiting for something to do.

DEX check or Saving throw?
Bujilli and Leeja are at the very brink of a nasty fall into some sort of yawning pit...so you the readers can either roll a Saving Throw (versus Petrification) to keep them from falling, or if you prefer a more modern mechanic roll 4d6 and compare it to their respective DEXteriy scores. Either way works fine for me--You Decide!

Roll for Initiative...
Whether they fall or they manage to remain at the very lip of the pit, Bujilli & Leeja need to determine whether they can catch their breath and be ready for what happens next...or whether something else happens before they can get settled. Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) Whatever/whomever else shows up. No modifiers this time, as the circumstances negate their modifiers.

Roll Another 1d6 for a Wandering Monster...
There are things prowling about in the dark near this pit, so let's check whether Bujilli & Leeja attracted the notice of something hungry or maybe someone who might lend a hand; not all encounters have to be with things that want to kill, maim or eat them...

We can always use a few bonus d6 & d20 die rolls, if anyone would be so kind. Thanks!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 139

Previously...
Bujilli has just spotted Leeja, but there are seven little Pit Nibblers in-between them...

Bujilli stopped in his tracks. There. He blinked three times. It was her. He smiled. Then he noticed movement between him and Leeja.

Scrape-scrape-scrape.

Leeja held up one hand as if to ward him off from her position. He nodded. Waved in response.

Crouching in the dark he watched the creatures at work near one of the larger masses of Black Sack fungi. They were gathering samples of the sticky, tarry gunk and smearing it on their weapons. Bitter, acrid vapors filled the area as the substance reacted to the metal of their weapons.

Bujilli considered their options. Behind him lie more of the Black Sacks and off to the left was a Weak Point that appeared infested with fungal-things. Neither direction felt like a particularly good way to go. He quietly backed away from the creatures who were busily poisoning their weapons.

Large, angular shapes loomed in the distance, only barely discernible in the all enveloping gloom. Past some sort of unforest of weird petrified trees. There were other shapes out there, more to the right, adjacent to the forest...some of those looked like nothing quite so much as a massive pile of noodles.

He was hungry.

They would need to get moving--if they lingered too long, the little poisoner-things would notice them and he thought he made out at least five of the things, probably more.

Bujilli closed his eyes and concentrated. He knew a spell that would allow him to silently make contact with Leeja. The spell would let him 'read' her surface thoughts and emotions. But that was not enough this time. He needed it to allow him to send her a subtle message, to let her know which way to go, that they could re-group past the creatures and head off towards the 'noodle-things.'

Gold light seeped into his field of vision. The spell unfolded itself before him. A few deft tucks and twists, a couple of re-folded sections and it was ready. He cast it effortlessly and could feel when she received it.

Wordlessly, stealthily, they both set out to avoid the creatures and to find one another farther on towards a small hillock of mound of debris that seemed nearly equally distant to them both.

Twenty-seven steps towards his destination and a sizzling yellow explosion erupted from behind Bujilli, right where the creatures had been working.

Yill-Yoi VIL vil VIL Kashijoshibash-bash-bash!

Bujilli didn't bother looking behind him, but instead started running to the hill where he was to meet Leeja. Whatever had attacked those creatures had used a Fireball. There would not be much of a fight following that...



*ESP, page 31 of  Labyrinth Lord.

Meanwhile...
Lucrettia smashed the mirror. Seven of the things had failed her. Her pet wormfaced theriomunculus gingerly picked the fractured shards from her still-clenched fist. She was livid with rage as she called for her armorer, her master-at-arms, her other retainers. If that crow-faced bitch thinks that she can humiliate me and get away with it she will soon regret it. Her retainers assembled before her, each one more fearful of incurring her wrath than the next. As it should be. Prepare my ship. We are going to pay a visit to my old mentor and I intend for Beatrice Eberhard to die as horribly as possible, as soon as possible...






Leeja didn't realize she was running until she reached the hill where she was to meet Bujilli. It wasn't a hill so much as a barrow constructed from massive stones, crudely cut with runic characters and smeared with some sort of dimly luminous ochre. Black fern-fronds jutted out of the cracks toward the top of the structure. Peculiar undulating coral-stuff curled and coiled about the place like a swarm of petrified snakes. It was too much like home to make her comfortable.

At least it smelled better than where she had woken-up.

She could feel Bujilli getting nearer through his spell. It was an interesting sensation. Leeja could 'see' how it might be possible to alter the spell to get other results. The golden light inside her bones was waking up, unlocking new possibilities for her. She smiled. It had come to her as a gift in the course of Bujilli attempting to heal her back in Wermpsittle. He had saved her life then. Now what he had done was changing her..them both..from deep within.

"A crypt." Bujilli huffed and puffed; his legs were shorter than hers. He wasn't built to run like she was. His people, at least his mother's people were climbers, high altitude mountain people who delved into deep places after dark secret things.

"A barrow. Very old. Very quiet." She didn't like it. none of the runes were anything she recognized. The ochre-stuff hurt her eyes after looking at it for more than a few seconds. The fronds had shifted, as if they were aware of her and Bujilli's presence. Leeja distrusted plants that moved of their own accord. She knew all too well what sort of things grew in the gardens of Valdruke. Flowersnake venom caused a painful fever she hoped to never experience again.

Bujilli looked back toward where they had left the creatures scraping gunk from the Black Sack fungi. a massive cloud of thick smoke obscured all but a few of the lingering flames started by the Fireball. He could only just make out the sounds of fighting through the plaintive whines and howls of those who had only just survived the blast. A grim  business. He wanted no part of it.

The Barrow had a rough-hewn ramp leading down through a trench to an entrance that was blocked-up with smaller rocks stacked and mortared into place with a thick white paste-like substance.

Beyond the Barrow, off to either side was another Barrow, more or less similar. There was at least one more to the fight.

Past that there were huge, monoliths of some sort looming high into the deep dark above, with a gap between them and the 'noodle' masses on the far right. The weird petrified trees were sparse hereabouts, becoming more thick and foresty towards the far left...



Which Way Should They Go...Barrows? Monoliths? Weird Noodle-Masses? Some Other Direction?

Synchronocitor Status: Feeling Just Excellent, Thanks For Asking.

Barrows?
Bujilli and Leeja have at least 5, possibly 6 ancient Barrows to consider examining. They could attempt to find a way inside one. should they use a spell to determine what might be inside these Barrows? Perhaps they might take a look at each one of the Barrows and try to figure out more about who built them. Maybe they should just say no thanks and walk away--You Decide!

Roll Another 1d6 for a Wandering Monster...
Purely just in case we end up in a situation where another check might be appropriate. Pleae roll 1d6 and let us know the result. Feel free to roll on the Wandering Monster Table, if you'd like to help determine what else might be out there...

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Zindlebarf

This is Zindlebarf. He had made it to third level as a fighter before apprenticing himself to a magic-user who helped him to learn spells and reach fifth level as a magic-user. I just found his portrait sketch in one of my old sketch-books the other day. It was a lot of fun to play a kobold back in the OD&D days. Hit-Points were always an issue, but he was scrappy and sneaky and a real survivor. I've re-statted him up using Swords & Wizardry below...


Zindlebarf
Fighter 3rd / Magic-User 5th
XP Bonus: none
Kobold, age 14 (getting old for a kobold...)

Alignment: Neutral
Deity: Open to suggestions (Might pick a random Petty God...)

STRength: 9 [To Hit: +0, Damage +0, Open doors on a 1-2, Carry Mod. +5]
DEXterity: 13 [Missile Weapon Bonus +1, AC Bonus: Better by 1 point]
CONstitution: 14 [Hit Point Mod. (per HD) +1, Raise Dead survival 100%]
INTelligence: 17 [Max. Add. Languages 5, Max spell Level 9, Chance to Understand New Spells 85%, Spells per Level 7/all]
WISdom: 8
CHARisma: 15 [Max. Hirelings: 5]

Hit Points: 16
Saving Throw: 11
Armor Class: 9[10] Wears a vest, girdle and a pair of stolen shoes that don't fit well.

Spells per Day: 4,2,1


Gear

  • One Ancient Zinmurrian War-club does 1d6 damage, no special abilities, despite Zindlebarf's belief that it must be a powerful magical artifact.
  • One Dagger
  • Three wine-skins
  • Two Torches
  • One Iron Spike (rusty)
  • 12 copper pieces and something he thinks is an electrum piece.

Spells

First Level: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Read Languages, Read Magic, Sleep

Second Level: Knock, Mirror Image


Third Level: Fireball



Zindlebarf was included in the In A Dark Place wandering monster matrix (Table III, Option 2). I have a feeling he might just stick around...kobolds can be like that...

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