Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The domesticated dungeon (part 2): Welesbur's death and more work!

Illustration by Rob Jr.

Then what?
Welesbur’s last spell… That’s a good one, sure. It has no name, for Welesbur was wise, and knew if somethings have a name, then people will want it for themselves. The wizard built it over twenty years, and long sleepless nights and painful introspect; it is tailored just for him, and nobody else can use it, well not to good avail anyway. A skilled (very skilled) and patient wizard can, however, replicate the process to make his own.
The principle is very simple, but requires great dedication and constancy. First, one needs to build a receptacle, a reliquary of sorts; this doesn’t need to be big, it could be as small as a shoebox, for minds have no shape nor volume. This thing must be sturdy, for it should last for ever (or at least a very long time); Welesbur made his from a rock the size of a chair, and carved it by hand, slowly, over many months, for it to look like a normal stone on the outside.
Then one must forge the links between himself and the reliquary, which is done by selecting pieces of yourself and placing them inside the receptacle. When we say pieces of yourself, we’re not talking a pinky. Welesbur placed a lock of his hair (which never grew back), a nail (for pain is a great sacrifice), and a very fond memory (the very first time his mother said she was proud of him). He used pints of his own blood to paint the inside of the reliquary (he was pale to the day he died), and most of all, he gave roughly two years of his life carefully carving and polishing the thing (for time is a very prized material, and in limited quantity).
This done, the rough part comes. Every night, you must take a fraction of time to concentrate on the reliquary and remember the day, and comment it, with the greatest honesty, for it to be transfixed by magic inside the box. Every report, every thought, every idea given to the box, will stay there, and with time, melt and connect and meddle with the others, reproducing your mind and the way it works.
If this is done long enough, the reliquary holds a more-or-less exact copy of your mind, a save if you will, detached from your flesh; At the moment of his death, Welesbur triggered a switch in his soul for it to tap into the box instead of his dying brain. And he went on as pure spirit, his soul unaware of the death of its body.
Now, questions: Where is welesbur’s reliquary? Well, nobody knows, not even the wizard; he erased the memory of hiding it from his own mind, and from the box. Can I do that too? Well, yes of course! That is to say, if you’re able to do all the things described above (you’re probably not). What are the risks? If the save is not built over enough time, or badly built (if you’re not honest enough, or if you tend to exclude to many things), you’ll end up with a largely incoherent copy, with many psychic problems, and who, probably, won’t even feel like you.
As honest as Welesbur was in his reports, a few things changed in his state of mind, from the transfiguration. People who knew him before would say he is now less patient, less calm, and probably even more difficult to follow than before. But he is mostly the same guy.
As a pure spirit, he now roams his domain invisible and quiet, as he likes it. He mostly continues his work, so he reads a lot and writes a lot. He doesn’t need to eat or sleep anymore, but he must stop and rest periodically, for his mind gets tired after a while. He won’t be bothered at all by adventurers, except if they mess with his stuff (the laboratory), but won’t care for them either, he will mercilessly make noise whenever he needs to and take the books he needs when he needs it (even if a hero’s holding it); He won’t hide from them, but won’t show himself unless it seems to be the best solution to preserve his tranquility. It is probable that heroes electing to live in the hole will realize his presence quite rapidly.

If (when?) he decides to reveal himself, he’ll look like he did that day on the floor of the laboratory; actually, as pure spirit, he could appear as anything or anyone, but he just doesn’t care that much what he looks like. So he keeps himself real. He is… Well, kind of broody and distracted, and stupid questions will annoy him pretty fast (and smart as he is, most questions will seem stupid). He can be pretty harsh but will never be cruel; he is a good judge of characters of a sort, and will share his work if asked (but he won’t explain anything, you get it or you don’t; and you usually won’t). He will happily test his discoveries on the heroes with or without their knowing or consent but won’t harm them (except by accident).

The spellbook
The little spell book found in Welesbur’s secret box in the abandoned room is written by his own hand. The red cover is made of leather, and the title is burnt in it, “the domesticated dungeon”. Of course, Welesbur didn’t need the book to cast the spells, but he wrote it in the eventuality that he should let someone else take care of his lair. Which is now, sadly, the case.
Technical infos: All the spells in there have a non-reducible casting TN8, and they cannot be learned, because they are early glyph spells and in this non refined form, are a bit… fiddly. Casting time is 3 rounds (because you have to read them as you cast, which is longer) plus whatever time it takes you to draw the actual glyph (say 2 more rounds). Of course you need chalk, or paint, ink or even charcoal, anything that can leave a mark on the ground (it’s a bit dramatic, but in case of emergency, 1HP worth of blood should do nicely).
The fiddly part: the description of each spell (except for the amulet making one) has a “fiddling” section, which specifies logical modifications that can be made to the glyph to alter its functioning. To operate this, a spell caster must first study the spell for at least one full day, to understand its architecture (roll MEN TN9, once a day). He can then note a “new version” of the glyph, with one factor changed, then cast it as he would have the original one. Each successful day of study authorizes to note one alternate version of the glyph, but after the first day, the spell caster may at will alter the glyph “on the fly” when incanting it: this takes two more rounds and is TN 10 instead of 8.
Note: If two magic users are present, one can do the spell while the other draws the glyph. A non magic-user wouldn’t know how to draw that, and cannot help at all.
The book contains the entire procedure to create the amulets, and the full text of all 4 glyphs used in the dungeon. And it is full. There are of course margins, in case you need to add personal notes to the thing.
Create an amulet: First you need to procure a small piece of the precious stone corresponding to the amulet you are making: onyx for the ward rune (the one in the cells), lapis for the thunder rune (in the abandoned room), or bloodstone for the fire rune (the one in the laboratory). Those can be bought in any major city, and should cost at least 30 to 60 gold. Then you need to craft the amulet itself, which requires a PHY roll (TN9, TN8 works but will be fragile). You can finally cast the spell; It takes 1 round, 1 MP, and is TN9. A failure has a chance (3/6) to break the stone, which will make it useless. Note to fiddling wizards, the amulets will work with any version of their mother rune, so, you’re safe.
Create an imp: This Glyph summons an imp from coal hell and binds it into the flesh (which is not really flesh, but some kind of Helloplasm); moreover it contains the working schedule for the imp, and its acceptable interruptions. So the newly created Imp will start to work immediately upon invocation, tending to the dungeon. It will continue as long as the glyph stands undamaged (Welesbur used to make them on the Kitchen walls). The glyph also specifies that the imps obey Welesbur; so they will obey the schedule, but not the heroes orders. Same idea, the glyph says that the imps must stop schedule anytime an hostile enters the dungeon; as the heroes are merely curious, the won’t be identified as a threat, but if they try to break walls or if a truly hostile being comes in…
Fiddling: First, you can summon an imp from any hell you want, which will change their appearance, and sometime the way they fight, but this is mostly cosmetic, as it is really improbable that their stats will change. Then you can alter their schedule, in almost every way. You can make them answer to anybody you want, but only one person at a time. Finally, you can specify their interruptions and triggers, and of course, write any name you want on the guest list (people on the guest list won’t ever be identified as threats).
Fire rune: When triggered by stepping on it, this rune creates a vertical burst of flames; it does XD6 damage on the burst, and ignites anything that can be ignited; it then burns for X turns at D6 damage, then withers for X damages for X rounds, and finally dies.
Fiddling: by default, every X value is set to one. Any of the values may be set to… well, anything really.
Thunder rune: When triggered by stepping on it, this glyph creates a strong spark which causes XHP damage to the trigger. The spark isn’t coming from the floor, so rubber boots won’t help.
Fiddling: the damage value is set to 1 by default. It can be set to any number by spending 1 more MP per point above 1. If damage goes above 7, the victim has 2/6 chances to die on the spot, from a heart attack.
“If Then” rune: when stepped upon, this glyph opens all the cages and closes the outside door of the holding pen. The glyph can be draw anywhere in the dungeon, it will always do the same thing when triggered.
Fiddling: this glyph is so specific that rewiring it too much equals creating a new one. The only thing graspable is to change the doors involved, like “open the stove door and close the kitchen door”, or “close the laboratory door and open the cupboards in the pantry”, but is it worth the effort?

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

If (like me) you don't like to dress up...

... But still want to do something halloweeny tonight, this is for you!

Bump in the night is a supplement for LARA; it is about (yeah, you guessed) horror and madness!
You can get it here!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The domesticated dungeon (part 1): Welesbur's life and work

So, here we are again. If your players have played “People die at the fair” (or “death at the fair” in its first edition), they now have the outer side of the portable hole, and are sole owners of Welesbur’s dungeon.
The dungeon is a commodity most heroes would cherish: never camp again, never have to carry dry rations, and no need to pay for the Inn, no more worrying about the weight of their equipment; nothing to stop or slow down the adventuring.
But the dungeon is a source of adventuring on its own. In people die at the fair, some questions were left unanswered. Who really was Welesbur, why did Talak Naho want him dead,who the hell is Talak Naho, what about the face –crushed statue, what is the strange amulet and of course, where the hell is the dungeon, geographically?

Welesbur's life
For what the heroes know about Welesbur, he was just an itinerant trader, specialized in magic items and other oddities. But the existence of the dungeon, and the portable hole should tell them otherwise.
First his real name was Dorian, and he was, in fact, one of the greatest minds of our time. He was a wizard, a scholar, and a Wiseman, but most of all, he was an inventor. Not the kind that have one idea in its life and just rides the success, no. Welesbur had an idea every twelve minutes, and most of those where good, when they weren’t revolutionary. A quarter of the spells commonly used today are, one way or another, the result of Welesbur’s work. But most of all, the guy invented a totally new kind of magic, Glyph Magic.

One of the apprentices (his name lost to the mists of time) Wanted fame and power, but Welesbur wasn’t the kind. So he took the spells and went out into the world. He died soon after, for he wasn’t that good, and some of the fire based glyphs he tried to demonstrate weren’t tuned yet. But Glyph magic was out there, and with it, Welesbur’s name.

At first, he enjoyed his notoriety, for it enabled him to work with anybody he chose, but soon it all became too much for him. Conferences, diners, social calls, this wasn’t his thing, that impeded his work. So he vanished. He changed his name (to Welesbur) and nobody saw or heard about him for more than two years.

Those two years, he used to get down in the Dungeon, and carve himself a piece of it. He went down to level 6, and searched for the perfect spot. He finally found it, by creating a war between the local deep elves empire and their lizard men slaves. He took advantage of the confusion to isolate a small piece of the dungeon and seal it from the inside. He then installed his lab in there and began a discreet life on the road.

He started working on a new project, linking the magic of wizards with the one priests use. This capacity priests have to tap their power from gods or demi-gods intrigued him and gave him an idea: all wizards know their power is limited by the concept of channel.; to cast a spell, one must open a very narrow channel between reality and the Magic pool; the power used, and thus developed by the spell is limited by the size of the channel and the pressure of power that the wizard is able to control. Welesbur himself knew he was one hell of a wizard, and even he couldn’t manage more than 50 MP a day, on a good day. But what if you could open several channels at once? What if you could open several channels at once? Say one per pool and one per god? Imagine the kind of power you could muster!

He started working with priests, but they soon stopped, for the idea of tapping a god without asking kind of scared them. And by himself, being totally ignorant in the mysteries of faith, he was stuck. So he started again, on another foot, and decided the right way was experimentation. He summoned a Hellion (a semi-god to be precise) from Coal hell, bound it in a powerful circle, and experimented on it. But this proved a dead end too, mostly because it is really difficult to work with a coal hell resident growling and insulting you all day long. One day Welesbur lost his cool and the following argument resulted in the collapse in room 10. Welesbur took it as a sign he wasn’t on the right track, and started all over again, but as most geniuses do, he just… forgot to clean the lab.

That is where Talak naho gets into the story. He is… hum… Let’s say a wiseguy, from the baronies. Well, he’s not from the baronies, but he hides… hum… lives there. Welesbur met him in shady circumstances in a shady bar in the XXXX Barony, and they made a deal. Naho was to furnish Welesbur with an actual piece of a god, that is to say a piece (say an arm) of a sacred idol actually venerated nowadays. Welesbur hoped to use it and the active faith attached to it to reach for the concerned god. He wasn’t precise enough and ended up with an actual piece from the idol of the waves, from the actual temple of the deep on the island of Makuda; the cultist there… let’s say they don’t kid with revenge, and do never shy in front of blood. Moreover, their God was a Dead one, entombed in the darklands, and as such, very dangerous to stir. He got rid of the arm (somewhere on the rock), and refused to pay what he owed Talak naho. But the gangsters had started a war with the cultists, a war they ultimately won, but Naho put the blame on Welesbur. He sent some of his guys to capture the mage and his stuff, for he wanted to make him work through his debt.
Welesbur didn’t want to work for Naho, for anybody in fact, and had a new project in mind which he didn’t want to abandon nor delay.So he rushed to his lab and cast the last spell of his life.

That is where the heroes came in.
Glyph Magic
The basic idea was to create spells that would last longer, with no effort. And that would not occupy the caster’s mind continually. The first tries were unsuccessful, until Welesbur went the way of the auto-recast: Spells that do not need to be maintained because they actually recast themselves every once in a while. To make that happen, the magic energy needs to be trapped, so the same power could be used again and again, like a perpetual motion thing.   

Finally, it succeeded, using three spells bound together into one: the first to produce the effect, the second to capture the power (the actual glyph), and the third to recast the whole thing. Welesbur then added a trigger mechanism, a fourth spell that would detect circumstances and turn the loop on or off. Then it was just a matter of simplification and streamlining.

The first actual glyph spell lit a candle in the privy on entrance, and put it out when you left. This may seem ridiculous but it was a magic revolution. Welesbur and his two apprentices of the time worked even harder after this trivial success, and soon had a series of glyph spells ready to use. And then Welesbur went on to another idea.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Something for next week end.

Okay, so a little something that's been brewing for a long time... Little follow up to Death at the fair, as Alderion and co continue their travel to arlandia. Their road goes through a little village in dire need of heroes.

Get it Here!