Uralicans Uncut takes us back to Aventyr—when we last saw our intrepid heroes, their air ship struck a vacuum mine on the way out of Timeaus and instead of being destroyed, suffocated, or both, the party is sucked into the demiplane of Uklonjen. Danger abounds however, and they are immediately pulled down into a gravity well where they must face off against a dreaded tyngdekraften, a construct as strangely empowered as this new, low-gravity realm.
After the fight the PCs must navigate through Uklonjen using a crystal compass, following its trail to the Ancestral Gateway and, hopefully, back to Aventyr. Their route takes them straight through space infested with HEL spores and bloodcensers, nefarious psionic traps and haunts sure to harrow the crew. These hazards funnel the ship straight towards HEL’s Uklonjen gateway, bringing the adventurers to the notice of a truly dangerous foe, Vrag the Candlekeeper (along with a host of devils and his pet devilbound dinosaur). The gitwerc attempts to make the PCs’ vessel his own when it nears the gateway to HEL, but by ending the wretched creature’s existence the party brings an end to the portals infernal influence.
Before heading to the next gate, we showcase one of Adventureaweek.com’s artists, Jacob Blackmon and his beautiful illustrations.
As the PCs consult the crystal compass on where to go next, the ship’s power fades, forcing the vessel to land where the party meets the natives of this plane, the Uralicans. These psionic peoples offer their help in exchange for information about their home plane, lost to them for centuries. While money isn’t useful here, the Uralicans can trade items, such as the black pudding cloak, or offer assistance in returning power to the PCs’ ship. Psionically charged xyrx crystals can be altered by taking them to the Plane of Ooze and should power the ship, but the gateway to the Plane of Ooze has been sealed away, and the only access is through a ventilation shaft. As the party approaches the gateway, the remains of an ooze who tried to return home lie in wait at the sentient ooze haunt before they can finish their mission of altering the xryx crystals.
The maddening nature of the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh is a thing of legend and myth, but quite real—the subterranean swamp is literally writhing with delusion and insanity. Many claim to know how it devolved into this dangerous state, but many of the rumors cancel one another out. Some say it was the warren of aquatic aberrations before the Great Schism, others blame the spirit of a deranged lich, and still more believe that an ancient, fell, and hysterical dragon roams the cavern.
All agree on one thing—witches are involved. How exactly, and for what purpose, none can say for sure. The presence of a coven of some kind is undeniable if any of the gossip is true, but few travel below and are well enough in the mind to be understood when they return (if they are ever seen again). Many speak only in rhyme if they do so at all, and even then, it is almost always nonsense.
Nothing emboldens a man like the promise of gold though, and the discovery of the karz slugs—and the unique, valuable properties their treated remains possess—have led to some concerted research into the area. A scholar and anthropologist, Geðveikur Krankzinnig took a great interest in the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh. Traveling across the countryside he sought out the hunters turned mad by the subterranean swamp, studying each in turn to better understand the hysteria that gripped them.After decades of dedicated research, Geðveikur compiled his masterpiece: Dar’Spelun Objasniti. In it he expounds on the nature of the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh’s most unique properties. A number of theories are explored, but ultimately the scholar decided that the most likely source of the oddity—the original source—stemmed from one of the calamities in the Underworld. Psychic energies run rampant from the anomaly, and drew forth from the aether a creature that is kinship to madness. Lairing in the subterranean swamp, it attracted creatures and spirits likened to it to the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh, completely warping it into a place of insanity. Even items of similar ilk eventually find their way there.
The last chapter of the book explains the vast number of preparations Geðveikur undertook before traveling to the Underworld bogs in search of it, explaining the effectiveness at the ability of each to deter various forms madness and insanity. He disappeared for a decade after the obscure book published, and was assumed dead before appearing in Mohkba, dashing through the streets turning all of the horses blue while evading authorities with his magics. Eventually he was brought in by the Sanctioned Arcane Practicioners of Mohkba, who are still trying to make sense of the old man’s ramblings.
Word among the hunters does speak of the witches however, and some trackers of the occult have begun to target the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh in search of a coven. They believe their offenders to be a sort of drow unlike any other, but it is difficult to get reliable information about the Underworld swamp. Some of the tales seem too far fetched to be true—there’s talk of roving pits, disappearing and reappearing forts, and all manner of beasts driven hysterical by the land itself! True or not, travelers best be wary of the mind-peeling AaWBlog for all of Maddening May!
Most people think of and experience telepathy as a simple voice inside their head: a totally silent conversation to whom only those in the telepathic link are party. However telepathy is more than that, and as a touching of minds it can share anything that can be expressed by thoughts, relaying messages as complex as both minds are capable of appreciating—and sometimes more.
When both creatures are sane there is little concern for stray thoughts that cross over this mental link, but when one of the creatures is insane or deeply alien, stray thoughts can range from distracting to downright disabling in their oddity—and opening one’s mind too deeply to a connection with a mind gone mad is only inviting insanity to oneself.
When one creature in a telepathic link (such as alter thoughts, detect thoughts, or any form of telepathy) is insane, an aberration, or otherwise has an alien mind, the sane creature must make a Will save each round (DC 10 + ½ the insane creature’s HD plus the creature’s Charisma modifier). On a failure, the mental link is unstable and the insane creature’s mind bleeds through into the sane creature’s, leading to all sorts of unpredictable effects. Ten sample effects are included in the list below—GMs are encouraged to pick whichever most closely matches their insane telepath!
1) Long-Term Link The telepathy effect becomes permanent. During this time, the insane creature can re-open the link to mentally contact the sane creature at any time both creatures are on the same plane, and the sane creature has no control over the contents or duration of these incursions (though, the sane creature gains a +5 circumstance bonus from any further direct contact from that specific insane creature). Further, the insane creature can read the sane creature’s thoughts at any time as detect thoughts (caster level equals hit dice). This effect ends if either creature dies.
2) Maddening Images The images that bleed through the psychic link disturb the sane creature to its very core, shaking the very foundation of who they are more the longer they think about it. Each day the sane creature takes 1 Charisma drain.
3) Stolen Thoughts The insane creature replaces a number of the sane creature’s memories with its own less comprehensible ones, doing 2d4 Intelligence damage but granting a +5 insight bonus to each Knowledge skill that the creature has ranks in. This bonus disappears once half of the Intelligence damage has been healed by any means.
4) Forgone Conclusions The creature’s voice whispers in their head, distracting them from making rational decisions and offering inappropriate advice. Each day, the sane creature takes a variable (changing daily) -1d6 penalty to their Wisdom score.
5) Hallucinations The telepathic link is so strong that the sane creature sees after-images of the experience for 1d4 days afterwards. During any stressful situation, the sane creature must make a Will save (DC equal to the original save) or be confused for 1d6 rounds.
6) More Than You Asked For The sane creature gets a deep, dark glimpse into the mind of the insane creature, and is offered almost free reign of their mind and memories. The sane creature can ask the insane creature any number of questions, which the insane creature must answer truthfully and completely, to the best of its ability. Asking and receiving an answer to a question takes a full round, though the sane creature is unaware that time is passing until the end of the process. During this time the sane creature is in a trance and considered helpless, while the insane creature is entirely unaware of this process (though it remains aware of a telepathic connection if it would normally be aware), and may act normally.
7) Phobia Something in the insane mind utterly terrifies or fascinates the sane creature. The GM chooses one thing closely related to the insane creature (such as brains, crowds, noise, etc.), and the sane creature immediately gains a mania or phobia (50% chance of either; see the “Sanity and Madness” section in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide) related to that substance.
8) Xenophilia The connection to the insane creature’s mind fascinates the sane creature in a way they cannot explain to others. They become utterly obsessed with the insane creature’s original insanity (or in the case of unusual creatures, obsessed with that creature type). Any time the sane creature encounters the subject of its new obsession, they must make a Will save (DC equal to the original save DC) or move towards it in the most direct means possible, even if such movement would put the sane creature in danger. Further, any time the sane creature goes a number of days equal to its hit dice without encountering the subject of its obsession, it is affected as though it had failed to fulfill a geas and begins taking penalties to its ability scores until the sane creature satisfies its new need.
9) Shared Mind A fragment of the insane mind seeds itself into the sane creature and becomes a permanent aspect of that character’s mind, utterly impossible to remove without permanent damage to the sane creature. Aside from the new insane voice within the sane creature’s head, the insane creature can compel the sane creature once per week into any action it so chooses. This functions either as dominate monster with a duration of 1 hour, or as a geas with a duration of one week (caster level equal to hit dice). In addition, the sane creature is aware of this possession, but is stopped by the insane creature from communicating the affliction to any other creature.
10) Something Breaks The sane creature’s mind simply cannot handle the connection to the insane creature, and goes immediately insane itself. The sane creature is inflicted with 1d4 random insanities (see the “Sanity and Madness” section in Chapter 8 of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide) and is staggered for 1 round.
The majority of these effects are permanent, and can only be removed by the same means that would remove insanity normally, such as wish, miracle, or other high level magic.
[Submitted by Michael McCarthy]
Disclaimer: Any point of view expressed in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not in any case represent, define or otherwise reflect the view of the AaWBlog, AdventureAWeek.com, or AAW Games, Inc. For more information on insanity in Pathfinder, see the “Sanity and Madness” section in Chapter 8 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Gamemastery Guide.
Love is in the air as the spring snows melt and the sun shines once more on verdant valleys of green—which the AaWBlog is washing in blood with a project as ambitious as it is gruesome: Cultus Sanguineus!
This month we’re bringing a theme to the AaWBlog, one borne of three things: the linen of the chosen, one of our users requests (kevin_video) to see a vampiric version, and the great submissions from contributor Jonathan Ely (two of which: the mask of thirstand amulet of the sundered hearthave already appeared).
Technically, there’s a fourth thing: my inadequacy in telling Mr. Ely that three items that together usher a change into a vampire would do. Once I was sitting there with them in hand, it became clear that the regular format wasn’t going to work.
So, once more (publicly this time), I’m apologizing to Jonathan Ely for my foolishness.
I am reticent to throw away great material, however, and before long I’d hatched a plan! Brian Wiborg Monster is joining the AaW Crew as a regular contributor for the AaWBlog (as are a few others—keep your eyes peeled!), partly because he approached me around the same time with a similar theme laden in blood (and has done a fantastic job of fleshing it out). With some quick brainstorming it became clear that we had an opportunity on our hands, not a snafu! Now the entire month is centrally themed around Cultus Sanguineus, an insidious cabal in Mohkba intent on summoning forth a primal daemonic entity that is anathema to life—the Exsanguinator! The first week introduced the mask of thirst, the blood thirst box and the alleyway of blood haunt (as well as manifestations, a new mechanic for haunts!) in addition to an article on tips for luring players into duplicitous doings. Our weekend posts centered around a mugging scenario for Sidequest Saturday and then one of the lead antagonists of the plot, Krev Ragata, for Statblock Sunday. Week two began with the amulet of the sundered heart, continued with the (chilling) sanguineus mirror trap, rain of blood haunt and yesterday, an article on running memorable social encounters. Tomorrow we’ve got a whallop of a post ready for everybody—an excellent 2,500+ word foray into the seedy, secret underbelly of Mohkba society under the auspice of a grand masquerade!
Next week will bring a close to Cultus Sanguineus, and perhaps an end to some PCs: stay tuned and check back in at the AaWBlog to see what awaits adventurers in Aventyr this month on AdventureAWeek.com!