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Wonders of NaeraCull: God Tears Fall and The Green Spire

god tear falls

When it comes to magnificent waterfalls, one of the Great Wonders of NaeraCull—the God Tears Fall—is the predominant example. Manifest from a three-tiered system of parallel rivers that cut a swath southwest-to-northeast down the Drakesdown Mountains (one of the highest elevation points in Aventyr), the great falls dominate the length of a valley as it descends from near the mountain summit to eventually tributary into a great lake near another wonder of NaeraCull, the Sentinel Stones.

The highest summit of the Drakesdown mountains, known as Yolotli Ihuicatl, is always shrouded in dark, churning thunder clouds and lightning; the constant unending downpour of rain, the source of water for the three rivers. The two greater elevated rivers, the Rio Ihuicatl and the Rio Iccauhtli crest their edges, creating the God Tears Fall as their waters pour over the sides of the Ixtli Valley and cascade in a torrent down into the lower Mecatl River.

Along the length of the great waterfall (which extends for dozens of miles) there are several gaps and outcroppings that provide respite to travelers and denizens alike. One such sanctuary is known as the Green Spire and consists of a large green-hued stone that juts out from behind the western side of the God Tears Fall. Opposite the unusual landmark is a length of rocky shoreline that follows the Mecatl River across a gap in the eastern side of the waterfall that extends for three miles.

Lower in altitude and nearer the rivers’ tributary lake, the Green Spire is said to be home to a minor goddess—a nature spirit that provides protection to those who would brave the river torrents. For this reason the spire is a local landmark frequented by travelers who kneel beneath it to pray for safe journeys and area druids who pilgrimage the outcropping as a sacred and blessed site.

The river’s length near the Green Spire is inhabited by several hovels of waterfall nymphs and local legends states that it’s an omen of good fortune to spot one of these beautiful creatures dancing across the waves of the great falls.

 

 

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Wonders of NaeraCull: Rest of the Red Death

Strange eddies of reddened water rise up from the bed of the sea near this cove, creating wild melanges of crimson and blue against before breaking into surf against rocky outcroppings and sandy shores. Odd grooves in the sand are everywhere here, dragging away rivulets of water down channels back into the sea.

rest of the red deathSailors that know better often avoid the southernmost shores of NaeraCull as though the horrors of the deepest depths of the sea were after them. This was the site of the final mortal moments of Erik Garun—the Red Death, Scourge of the Waves. Along with his crew, the pirate is credited for bringing down scores of ships during his illustrious career. Eventually a fleet organized for the sole purpose of eliminating him managed to bring the infamous buccaneer down and cornered the Red Death here, but rather than be taken he chose to fight, eventually sinking into the water along with his ablaze ship. The navy that struck him down did so as he and his men made for land, and Erlik vowed with his dying breath that his vengeance against the scurrilous sailors would be eternal, binding the final fates of both the Scourge of the Waves and his crew to the bloodied waters. Some say that under moonlight that the pirates still sail the waters, their captain a leader of dead men in a silent quest for revenge.

Though local legend claims that the discoloration in the water is the blood of pirate corpses, in truth it is actually chemical reactions from nodes of magnetized ore. The Red Death was both talented and clever—he realized the oddity quite early in his career and made exceptional use of it, hiding the plunder of his crew in the magnetized seabed. More than one confident armored warrior’s corpse can be found on the floor of the bay, pulled beneath the water and held fast as they drowned to death. Over time however the magnetized ore loses some of its potency, making the shore a popular location to find gold coins washed up onto the shore.

That is, until the first tide of the undead appeared, dragging away gold scavengers to a watery death. Courageous foragers continued searching the shore for a while, but then more of the aquatic creatures appeared and now only the bravest dare tread upon the sands of the Rest of the Red Death.

 

 

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Tribal Troubles: K’naghi Savanna

Great Pinnacle RockThe K’naghi Savanna
Located on the northern edges of the Alimpulosa, the savanna surrounds the region’s most notable landmark—the Pinnacle Stone. An unusual oasis of life in the midst of an otherwise harsh desert, the savanna covers barely a square mile in surface area and its borders are very nearly circular shaped with the great peak at the center. A sea of sand and dunes expands beyond the border of the K’naghi savanna, named for the tribe of humans who dwell within.

The Savanna is a magical place, sustained by the effects of the song of ancestors, which replenishes the flora and fauna within every morning. Various grasses and acacia trees—as well as a myriad of other plant-life, small animals and an abundance of locusts which feed on the dry grasses—provide ample resources for the K’naghi people.

 

The Pinnacle Stone
The tallest natural feature in the region, the Pinnacle Stone is a narrow-sided butte that rises an astonishing three hundred feet into the air. The sheer sides are next to impossible to climb; however, the K’naghi tribesmen maintain their village on the few outcroppings near its peak, using giant locust mounts to fly up to their homes. The Pinnacle Stone is widely used for navigation through the badlands, as its high enough to remain visible for many, many miles beyond the immediate region.

K'narghi Savanna

The Hanging Village
The village is home to the K’naghi tribe, located upon several stone outcroppings near the peak of the towering Pinnacle Stone. Dozens of huts using the mud and dry grasses from below are connected by a network of ladders that reach from one outcropping to the next. The peak is also bestowed with a series of narrow caves, tunnels, and caverns which the K’naghi people use to navigate from various sections of the village. It is typically high enough to remain safe from the region’s frequent sandstorms, however when a particularly forceful desert gale threatens their people, the K’naghi retreat to the safety of the caverns that pockmark the peak of the Pinnacle Stone—to the tribe’s leader and elder shaman, and a massive stone statue of Naghith, their tribal god.

The K’naghi Tribe
Indigenous to a region bordering theAlimpulosa, the K’naghi people are a tribe of humans renowned for their practice of flying on the backs of giant locusts. They inhabit the tiny savannah region that encircles the great Pinnacle Stone, making their home upon the peak of the towering landmark. The tribe subsists mainly off of the resources of the savannah below their village, gathering water from beneath the bark of the many acacia trees, crafting their homes, clothes, and wares from intricate weaving of the dry grasses. Their staple diet consists of locusts, barriers, and roots, of which the K’naghi Savanna provides in plenty. However, they are also known to trade from time to time with various tribes through the region—in particular the Ayaxan gypsies, who find the lightweight yet durable garments crafted by the K’naghi perfect for their desert travels.

The tribe speaks an unusual mix of broken Common and Giant, which can be loosely understood by anyone that speaks either of the languages. The mythology of the K’naghi teaches that eons ago, their people were the slaves of great desert-dwelling giants until the great hero Anapo organized a bloody revolt. Devoted to their god Naghith, the K’naghi believe he slumbers in a temple visible in the distance from the peak of the Pinnacle Stone.

 

Locust_Rider_SilNaghith, the Many-Winged Father
Naghith is the tribal god of the K’naghi people. He is depicted as a humanoid with three pairs of insect-
like wings, and rounded insectile eyes.

The mythology of the K’naghi people tells of an ancient time, when Naghith arose from the temple complex and freed their people from the enslavement of tyrannical giants. Legend tells that the god was awakened by the prayers made at the foot of the ancient temple by two human slaves—Anapo, a teenage boy, and the witch Banhi, his older sister.

A fierce and violent god, Naghith, surrounded by swarms of giant locusts, laid waste to the giant captors of the tribe. During the onslaught, Anapo bravely mounted one of the giant locusts and rode upon its back in an assault against the leader of his giant overlords, killing it with a spear strike through its throat.

Seeing the courage of their brother, the other slaves followed Anapo’s lead and mounted the giant locusts swarming about the encampment, attacking their brutal masters. When it was over, not a single one of the giants remained living; freed from their enslavement, the humans praised the great locust god whom had come to their aid.

Weary from the battle, the Many-winged Father returned to his slumber within the temple, leaving the K’naghi (and their locust mounts) to their newfound freedom. As the battle-weakened god returned to the confines of his temple, some of the tribesmen wondered at the motives of their new patron; if their savior ever rose again, it could likely mean their own destruction.

The hero Anapo was quickly elected as the tribal leader, and he decided that his people, using their locusts as transportation, would take refuge upon the distant towering peak, where they would forever remain out of the reach of giants. Banhi was charged by her kinsmen with the duty of assuring that the slumber of Naghith remained undisturbed. Using her great magic, she summoned forth the life-force scattered and strewn about the badlands, and created the savanna that today surrounds the Pinnacle Stone, promising that this land would always provide for their tribe. In return, the spirits of the tribe would forever remain at the great stone, assuring their continued survival by softly singing to the slumbering god in the distant temple. The name “K’naghi” translates to Common from Giant to mean, “Watchers of Naghith.”

Eventually Anapo and Banhi joined the whispering spirits of the K’nahgi, but through their lineage was founded a tribal dynasty of shaman—warrior witches destined to watch over the K’naghi. Banthadar—the current elder shaman of the tribe—is the sixth descendant of Anapo and Banhi, and continues the traditions they founded more than three centuries ago.

 

Image_Portfolio_101_Fantasy Jason Walton 07Banhi’s Final Prophecy
Long after the death of the hero Anapo, the great witch-mother lay aged, grayed, and wrinkled upon her deathbed. It was as she neared her final breaths, before joining the hero’s spirit in the K’naghi savannah, that she had a powerful vision. What she experienced was powerful enough to cause her to arise from her incapacitated state and climb—alone—to the highest point of the Pinnacle Stone, to shout down to her people below:

I am Banhi, sister of the great hero Anapo, mother protector to the K’naghi, and curator of our people’s spirits. I go now to join my kin in his song, but I leave this final gift to my children and my children’s children—don’t forget it! When the day becomes night and the sky summons the locust star, the awakening of the Many-Winged Father shall be near forget—our songs cannot forever lull his slumber! When these things come to pass, new heroes shall arrive to your aid. Heroes who, like Anapo, courageously face a new enemy of our people. These outsiders will learn to command the sky and it will be they who send Naghith to his final slumber, freeing you, the watchers and whisperers, from our unending duty. Until that day, my children: live, love, watch, and sing.

This oral prophecy is memorized word-for-word in youth by every member of the K’naghi tribe as a reminder of their inherited duty and what their future may hold. Moments after speaking the words upon the height of the peak, it is said that Banhi dove over the sheer side of the cliff and plummeted to her death, thus adding her voice to the whispers of the song of the ancestors.

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Tribal Troubles: The Alimpulosa

aaw-website - alimpulosa - sade p07 1 [only right side]The Alimpulosa
A vast territory of plains, badlands, and sandy dunes in the Disputed Territories are walked upon by the Ayaxan gypsies. These nomads are well-versed in the fierceness of the elements in the wild lands, but travelers can quickly be overcome by the whipping winds and scouring sands—or the dangerous creatures that lope through them.

Sandstorms

A sandstorm reduces visibility to 1d10 × 5 feet and provides a –4 penalty on Perception checks. A sandstorm deals 1d3 points of nonlethal damage per hour to any creatures caught in the open, and leaves a thin coating of sand in its wake. Driving sand creeps in through all but the most secure seals and seams, chafing skin and contaminating carried gear.

Centuries of predatory behavior have been bred into the animals that wander the Alimpulosa, and they are the greatest threat brought by the sandstorms that whip through this part of the Disputed Territories. The strange magics at work across the realm sometimes color these tempests, making them even more dangerous than normal. The Ayaxan gypsies know the best ways to avoid the dangers of these different storms, better able to recognize them from afar. If tipped off about these anomalies by the nomads, PCs receive a +5 bonus to CMD against galestorms, and any Skill checks or saves made against the other kinds of sandstorms.

d100        Sandstorm Hazard
1-12         —
13-35       Predators on the Hunt
36-57       Shredstorm
58-78       Carrionstorm
79-100     Galestorm

These sandstorms have severe winds (30 to 50 mph) and last 1d4-1 hours (minimum 1 hour), taking up a 3d6 x 50 feet circle-radius that travels at a speed of 60 feet a round, from a random direction (roll 1d8) and moving in a straight line.

Predators on the Hunt     CR varies
The PCs are ambushed as the storm passes by them when creatures leap out of the clouded winds. Roll on the Random Encounter Table and give the party Perception checks (DC = 10 + monster’s Stealth) to determine if they are able to act in the surprise round.

Shardstorm      CR 2
Bits of stone and sharp shards of rock whip through the winds on these sandstorms, though curiously, they only cut those that bleed. Living creatures in a shardstorm must make a DC 14 Fortitude save or take 1d4 points of piercing and slashing damage while they are within its area of effect.

Carrionstorm     CR 4
Fell and foul, these sandstorms carry the detritus of corpses already swallowed up by the Alimpulosa. Rife with sickness, living creatures in a carrionstorm must make a save every 1d6 rounds against a disease (roll 1d6; 1 blinding sickness, 2-4 bubonic plague, 5-6 leprosy) which has an immediate onset. Once a living creature has saved from a disease in a carrionstorm, he is immune to that carrionstorm’s disease (though they might succumb to its other afflictions).

Galestorm     CR 5
Arguably the most dangerous of the strange sandstorms, these tempests carry random, extremely strong winds that can easily lift and throw even the stoutest of travelers. Once per minute, 1d4 creatures in a group (for every 5 total creatures, roll another 1d4; for a grouping of 10, 2d4, a grouping of 15, 3d4, and so on) are targeted by a barreling gale that comes from a random direction (1d8) and makes a bull rush attempt with a +18 CMB. Unlike normal bull rush attempts, on a success the creature is not just moved in the direction the wind blows, they remain aloft for 1 round per each 5 points the wind exceeded their CMD. For each round they remain aloft, a creature travels 20 feet, increasing by +20 feet for each successive round they are aloft. When a creature lands, they take 1d6 bludgeoning damage per round they remain aloft (no save).

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Maddening May: The Sunken Fla’nag Asylum

Last one to the tomb gets locked out when the sun comes upThe Fla’nag Asylum was built not out of the desire for such a structure, but by the necessity for one. The madness that seeps through the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh had left too many madmen wandering the land, dangers to themselves and to others, so the dweorg Fla’nag Irontooth carved this sprawling asylum from the living rock of one of the nicer the caverns nearby, just outside the Tangleroot Forest.

However, Fla’nag was unaware that as he carved the tunnels that would become his asylum, the work was being guided by another hand: that of the swamp’s madness slug. As work progressed, the asylum came not to be an ordered structure as the dweorg had originally intended but one with sprawling hallways and rooms of every size and shape—all of which form a titanic symbol designed to focus madness inwards, concentrated by on a narrow planar breach at the asylum’s heart.

It took only six years after the asylum opened before reality cracked, spilling it into the Plane of Madness (and drawing some of the otherworldy realm into the Material Plane). Today, the asylum exists in at least two places at once, and the architecture constantly warps and folds upon itself, trapping any fool brave enough to explore its halls. Even locating the asylum can prove a challenge: oftentimes its entrance can be found in the Tangleroot Forest, but other times the doorway crawls through the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh, or even disappears entirely.

Those that do escape with their lives and minds intact tell terrifying tales of what the place has become. The committed are dead to a man, though their spirits still stalk the halls and their final screams hang in the air. The hallways stretch to infinity in nearly all directions (though sane enough minds can hold them in place long enough to traverse safely, doing so only makes it easier for the creatures within to track their prey). The once-dweorg guards and doctors are now eldritch horrors and dark scions, endlessly patrolling routes and guarding empty chambers for reasons only they understand.

Worst of all—so the stories go—is the warden: to survive the encroaching madness, Fla’nag reached out to any power that would answer, signing a blood pact with the devils of HEL in desperation to transform him into a powerful gitwerc that could survive, and perhaps even rule over such a place. Now he toils to siphon off fragments of the mad souls to his new masters, eagerly seizing any new life that stumbles into his domain.

ghost__keith_curtisThough impossible to map the majority of the asylum, there is a semblance of order that persists throughout. The atrium that connects to the outside world remains virtually untouched by time, and there are very distinctly upper and lower ‘floors’: the upper floors are often filled with a haze of smoke and mist while the lower floors are instead flooded to a greater or lesser extent. The wellspring of the water that floods the Fla’nag Asylum isn’t known, but the water is tainted with madness, mutating those who drink from it or driving them insane.

No maps of the Fla’nag Asylum survived its collapse, so it is impossible to tell how many of the rooms within exist purely on the Plane of Madness. Rooms seem to appear and disappear at random, or perhaps their appearance is guided by Fla’nag or some greater power distilled from the plane itself.

There remain cells with padded walls and few corners, and offices now often featuring torture implements as often as simple desks and chairs, but other more obscure rooms still exist, whose purpose has been lost to madness or whose original purpose may never have quite been met. The only fragment of Fla’nag Asylum that remain unchanged from the original days is its heart, where the planar rift hangs invisibly in the air. A coven of drow witches makes their lair here, servants of the madness slug herself.

 

Though the architecture is constantly in flux, the spirits and energies within the asylum are fairly consistent. During any encounter, or once each hour spent stationary in the asylum, a GM should roll to see which madness effects manifest in that location.

d100      Madness Effect
0-15       —
16-30     auditory patch of madness
31-45     visual patch of madness
46-65     echoes of the asylum

66-75     both auditory and visual patches of madness
76-85     auditory patch of madness, and echoes of the asylum
86-95     visual patch of madness, and echoes of the asylum
96-99     visual and auditory patches of madness, and echoes of the asylum
100        The asylum writhes as a wave of raw madness energy rolls through the hallways. All characters must make a DC 25 Will save or immediately gain a random insanity (see the “Sanity and Madnesssection in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide).

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Maddening May: Story Locale – Tangleroot Forest


aaw-website - fantasy-art-wallpaper-36Large swathes of the western Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh are covered in unnaturally dark trees that fully extend over the bog. Many creatures don’t notice the abnormality; only those that make a
DC 19 Perception check see that what they walk upon is heavily matted moss covered in dirt, all suspended on the roots of numerous trees! Underneath the “ground” is a 10 to 15 foot drop into murky, disgusting bog water, filled with rotting matter and worse (DC 17 Swim check).

Strange smells that pique your curiosity but defy identification seem to emanate from everywhere and nowhere all at once as you head deeper into these subterranean groves. Skeletal trees are everywhere, their roots disappearing beneath furred moss of greens, browns, and sooty blacks. Despite their lack of foliage, the ebony and dark grey bark are so dense that they block out any sight of the roof of the cavern.


All of the ground in the Tangleroot Forest is considered difficult terrain. Every minute outside of combat or every movement greater than a 5-foot step during combat requires a
DC 10 Acrobatics check; on a failure, a creature gets their feet caught in troublesome roots. Any creature weighing in total more than 100 pounds increases the DC of this check by +2, and a creature weighing more than 200 pounds increases the DC of this check by another +2 and a creature weighing 300 pounds or more increases the check by another +2 (to DC 16). Creatures with a climb speed and creatures of a size of Tiny or less are immune to this effect.

Once affected by the ground of the Tangleroot Forest, a creature cannot take any movement until freed.

aaw-website - Final-Arboreal Menace-CCreatures that snag their feet on the floor of the Tangleroot Forest must succeed on a CMB, Reflex, or Escape Artist check as a swift action to free themselves (whichever is best) against the same DC as the Acrobatics check + 5. Attempting this as a move action reduces the DC of the check to free themselves by -5. Failure on a check to free itself knocks a creature prone.

During combat the danger of stepping into or through the floor of the Tangleroot Forest increases dramatically. Movement of any kind in between squares requires an Acrobatics check as described above (DC 10, 12, 14 or 16 depending on a creature’s weight). Additionally, when a creature reaches the end of any movement during a combat round in the Tangleroot Forest, there is a chance the ground they stop on breaks beneath them! Creatures of Tiny size are immune to this effect, but there is a 5% chance for each size category larger than Tiny that a creature falls through the roots and into the dirty bog water below (5% Small, 10% Medium, 15% Large, and so on).


Monsters of many kinds wander the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh (indeed—
grick swim all over the bog underneath the Underworld groves), but the Taaaw-website - Mark Hyzer Purple Wormlngleroot Forest is almost exclusively ruled over by crazed fey. For the most part, they are not much of a danger. They do constitute a threat, however—PCs that camp on the “floor” of the Tangleroot Forest may fall into the bog underneath, the squares they occupy undermined by the mischievous fey (25% chance). Other dangers like the souls of those that have died here and angry, intelligent, territorial plants stalk the Tangleroot Forest, and many who cross the region waste no time in doing so lest they draw their unwelcome attentions. Whatever the creature

d100      Creatures Encounters
1-22       6 sprites, 2d4 nixie, 1d4 grig
23-46     2d6 quickling
47-64     1d4+2 redcaps
65-82     1d4 will-o’-wisps
82-96     1d4 quickwood
91-100    carrion crawler [see this week’s Statblock Sunday!]