An Account of the Gadolim: The Beginning

Previously, I mentioned the hook for this series of adventures: the sage Ladan hires the player characters to search the ruins of lost Acadus for ancient texts.

What I didn’t mention was that the characters are the second group Ladan hired for this purpose. You see, he had previously enlisted the services of Edward and William, two adventurers who successfully located the Hall of Sages.

Unfortunately, only William returned from the expedition, reporting that Edward had accidentally fallen to his doom shortly after they found a magical-looking tome. Ladan was upset to learn that Edward had been carrying the book when he fell into the chasm. Nevertheless, Edward received his due pay, and went off to deliver William’s share to his next-of-kin.

Now, Ladan has finished brooding over the matter and has decided to hire a new group of adventurers to examine the Hall of Sages again, more carefully. He hopes that perhaps the chasm was not as bottomless as it seemed and that the book can yet be found.

The directions to the Hall, left by Edward, are quite vague and consist of just a small number of landmarks. While the characters are wandering the ruins trying to find the correct place, use the die-drop table below to select random encounters.

Hall of Sages: Level A SelectShow
Hall of Sages: Level B SelectShow
Hall of Sages: Level C SelectShow
Die-Drop Table: Acadus Ruins Encounters SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 6

The capital is clean and beautiful. Money flows in the markets, and comfortable housing lines the streets. It is a good place for a respectable person to be seen! Official palace statistics report that the poor are well-provided for, and numbers of homeless people living on the streets are lower than they have ever been. Many noble-sponsored charitable organisations exist to help the needy, with fanciful names such as The Guild of the Golden Cup, The Great Hand of Plenty, and The Porcelain Heart.

One of the homeless people in the city is David, who is known to one of the characters’ contacts. He has been visiting The Silvered Cloud‘s charitable hostel lately to get somewhere to sleep at night, in exchange for which he does some simple manual labour. The organisation’s leader is a well-known industrialist with a large canned food business, who makes weekly visits to the hostel in the Harbour Quarter to give encouraging speeches.

Nobody has seen David for the past week; the hostel state that he has “graduated from the programme”, but otherwise offer no information. Those who live on the lowest rungs of society can relate other stories of homeless people going missing, stretching back over several months. Shortly after the characters’ contact enlists their help in trying to locate David, the contact succumbs to a sudden and mysterious death in their own bedroom, having apparently just finished a dinner of canned sausage. The body is shrivelled and desiccated, the jaw is dislocated, and the vocal cords severed.

Stats: Hostel enforcer SelectShow

The Anchor Canned Goods factory in the Merchants’ Quarter is a busy place, with a complicated production line and a huge shipping department packing tins for distribution to all parts of the kingdom. Somehow the production line doesn’t seem quite big enough to produce cans at the rate they are shipped out. Their canned food is quite popular and the characters will have encountered it on shopping expeditions: especially the popular canned beans, beef, sausages, tomatoes, sardines, and strawberries.

A number of people, from all walks of life, have fallen prey to the same mysterious death that affected the character’s contact, but it is being kept under wraps by the authorities for fear of panic. In each case the condition of the body is the same, but there is rarely much sign of a struggle. Some of the victims died in locked rooms with nobody else present. Observation of the scenes will reveal that each had recently had a meal of delicious canned food.

Stats: Baroness Joanna SelectShow

In the hostel’s main office there towers a huge ornate glass clock, whose shimmering dial tracks some rhythm of unearthly origin. The ticking sound of the clock echoes strangely. A glass door on the front of the clock (which is an Arcanum) opens to reveal a passage to a spectral world adjoining the mundane one. Time flows differently here: a day in the spectral world passes in only an hour’s worth of mundane time. In the sandy ground of the spectral world, missing homeless people labour to dig new tunnels in the nest of the native phase insects; the tunnels are lined with multi-coloured glass by the insects themselves.

Also in the spectral world is an extension of the Baroness’ canning industry. Taking advantage of the different rates of temporal flow, she compels the homeless slaves to labour hard at the canning production line when they aren’t tending to the needs of the flitting phase insects, or catching a scant few hours’ sleep. The factory’s machinery is steel, of human make, but the structure itself is mostly the glittering glass excreted by the insects.

The phase insects themselves are two feet long and of beautiful aspect, with shimmering dragonfly wings and iridescent bodies. Their eyes sparkle with entrancing rainbow hues, and a faintly metallic scent accompanies them. They are habitually airborne, landing only to rest or lay eggs, and their wings emit a harmonious droning hum which is hypnotically pleasant to listen to. They prefer to congregate in large numbers and dislike being alone.

Slaves who dissent or become too weak to work are chained down and implanted with a phase insect egg. This egg grows to maturity very rapidly, draining the vitality and mass from the host’s body to leave a shrivelled ruin. At length, the juvenile insect forces its way up through the host’s throat, tearing the vocal cords and cracking open the jaw.

As part of her business arrangement with the phase insects, the Baroness has arranged for a certain number of eggs to be introduced into cans of food. Most of the insects which hatch in the normal world instinctively make their way to the glass clock to return to the nest, although some may seek out new nesting sites in the normal world. Mostly the deadly cans are included randomly in regular shipments, although the Baroness isn’t above ensuring that specific enemies receive such a “special” can.

Stats: Phase insect SelectShow

Stats: Phase insect, juvenile SelectShow

The immediate area around the factory and the nest is a sandy place filled only with the glass sculptures of the phase insects. Should the characters decide to explore further afield in the spectral world, feel free to get creative!

The Baroness has a safe place to hole up in the spectral world, a comfortable office in the slaves’ factory. Her secret records and anything else incriminating are kept here, along with a stash of other paperwork she would prefer to keep out of others’ reach. The spectral world office is in the same relative location as her office in the normal world’s factory, and hence her glass bangle allows her to move between them. Included in the document safe is a scroll case holding the sixth page of the Cadian document.

Cadian Document: Page 6 SelectShow

Stats: Graciaon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 5

The coastal town of Cacheto-on-sea is a generally peaceful place with a long history of solid industry. The town’s salt mines have brought prosperity to the area, and many of the townspeople are quite well-off. Lately there have been strange happenings, however. A series of unusually aggressive diseases has struck randomly throughout the population — never the same disease twice, and never anything previously known to medicine. In the past few days there have also been one or two accounts of people going suddenly missing, all of them quite young and all of them completely healthy.

The diseases progress quickly and often fatally, so the town’s elderly priest is struggling to keep up with demand for his healing powers. He doesn’t know the source of the problems, but is starting to suspect that something has been stirred up by the work in the mines. The missing young people are a new mystery which he is baffled by.

Stats: Father Martin SelectShow

A malevolent earth-spirit, disturbed by the mines, is abroad in the town. When it was first awoken, it intended to bring about the town’s complete destruction, tearing the earth and sending the whole place tumbling into the shadowy depths. However, a high-class woman who secretly practices dark magics has bound the spirit and prevents it from doing so. The spirit is compelled to serve the witch’s goals by helping her pull magical power from the roots of the world. Her seal on its mind is not perfect however, and the earth-spirit exacts what revenge it can by calling up terrible diseases throughout the populace.

The town’s missing young people have in common that they had recently spoken to the witch (in her public upper-class persona). They have been kidnapped and are chained up in her secret underground chambers, where she uses them to experiment with her new powers. One in particular, a shy young lady named Genevieve, has the dubious honour of being clamped to a wooden chair and forced to wear a magical armlet that protects the witch from physical harm.

The underground chambers are accessible from the mansion’s library by pulling a switch inside a hollow marble bust (a sculpture of the witch herself). The house servants have sometimes seen their mistress go into the library and then “disappear” without coming out again.

Stats: Ulthogg SelectShow

Stats: Constance SelectShow

Smashing the great wall mirror in the witch’s hilltop mansion will break her hold over the earth-spirit. If it has not already been placated or otherwise controlled, it will immediately start rending open a huge chasm to sink the entire town, although this will take several minutes to accomplish. If it succeeds in doing this, it will collapse the hill under the witch’s mansion in a final gesture of contempt. It will then return to the deep earth to sleep.

The earth-spirit is not very deceitful and will make no secret of its loathing for mortals (especially the witch), if the players should speak to it. It is quite open about its desire to demolish the entire town, the better to ensure that its sleep is never disturbed ever again. If offered suitable guarantees about the mines staying away from its home, it might be talked into leaving the town intact. It is unlikely to stretch to sparing the life of the witch, whom it especially hates, but it will mention the existence of the kidnapped young people if the characters have failed to locate them.

The witch made a few unusual visits to the mine works shortly before the disease outbreaks began. Neither she nor any of her servants have been affected by any of the diseases, nor does she seem afraid of falling victim to any. Ever since the start of the outbreaks, occasional minor earth tremors have been noticed by people passing near her mansion.

Among the magical texts and enciphered notes in the witch’s hidden chambers is the fifth page of the Cadian text. Many other riches and luxuries can be found in the mansion.

Cadian Document: Page 5 SelectShow

Stats: Medellon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 4

Sean, an aged widower who sells alchemical and herbal mixtures in the town of Jadeborough, has been sad lately since his wife Mary died. His only daughter Fiona left town many years ago, having abandoned her studies and fallen in with a bad crowd. The last he heard she was rumoured to be part of a bandit gang in the north, near Ferleigh. He doesn’t know what has become of her.

The bandits’ hideout is known to the Ferleigh villagers, although they aren’t keen on revealing it for fear of reprisals. The hideout is within a huge hollow petrified tree in the forest. It’s been furnished quite comfortably, with living space for the entire bandit gang and a private office for the bandit leader. They keep a careful lookout and will try to draw adventuring parties away from the tree.

Stats: Idrina SelectShow

Stats: Bandit SelectShow

The bandits’ hoard consists mostly of coins and jewellery, and is kept in a secret chamber dug out between the tree’s roots. A trapdoor under a rug in the dining-hall grants access, but one of the steps down is rigged to a slicing blade trap.

Fiona tried to leave the bandits some time ago, to settle down with a baker in Nettford and raise a family. The gang’s rule is that nobody leaves except in a box, and so she was tracked to that village and killed. This is clearly documented in the gang roster and in the leader’s diaries; those bandits that were in the gang back then also remember the event personally if questioned. Each source of information also mentions in passing that the husband and child were left alive.

In the village of Nettford, the baker and his son — Thomas and Brian, respectively — are well-known; the father is caring and hardworking, while the boy is now three years old and loves to be helpful. Thomas relates that Fiona rarely talked about her family and was too ashamed to return and visit them.

If the two can be united with Fiona’s father, Thomas will in gratitude show the characters the space under his floorboards where some of Fiona’s belongings were hidden when the bandits came to exact revenge. This cache consists of her weapon, a map with ciphered notes, and some scroll cases. Thomas can’t read any of the esoteric writings in the cases but believes them to be valuable. One of them is the fourth page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim.

Cadian Document: Page 4 SelectShow

Stats: Fiduciaon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 3

The lake known as Merus has always been the abode of certain moon-spirits who, at their whim, bestow mystical blessings on mortals. Lately the lake has been invaded by a wicked naga — a serpent with the head of a woman — which has polluted the waters with mind-twisting poison. At night, the laments of the moon-spirits can be heard for miles around.

The people of the nearby village of Perdeeco, which relies on the river Perdie bringing water from the lake, have had many of their number succumb to madness. These poor souls hide in the wilderness during the day, coming out at night to try and catch food, including humans. Beware: the victims are fast and agile despite their zombie-like mentality.

So far, many brave warriors have tried to best the naga, but her vicious trickeries have been the undoing of them all.

Stats: Poison Victim SelectShow

Stats: Hessen-Isha SelectShow

The moon-spirits will be effusively grateful if the naga is driven off, and will use their magic to purge the waters, and to heal both the villagers and the characters. Raising the dead, however, is beyond them: any poisoned villagers slain while in their zombie-like state remain dead.

The spirits will offer to show the characters the way to the naga’s secret hoard. This is stored in a chest submerged in the muck around one of the lake’s tiny islands: the moon-spirits, being insubstantial, cannot dig it out. Among the treasure (much of it looted by the naga from previous challengers) is the third page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim.

Cadian Document: Page 3 SelectShow

Stats: Castisson SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 2

Outside the town of Sullaham, a grand pavilion has been set up near the bridge into town; two banners, orange and red, flutter in the breeze. A pair of sibling dark knights set upon any travellers, demanding tribute before the travellers will be allowed to either pass the bridge or return the way they came. They have built up a nice stash of riches using this stunt, and the townsfolk will use that as an incentive to try and talk adventurers into driving the two sisters away (or killing them, the townsfolk are past caring by now).

Stats: Anna SelectShow

Stats: Beatrix SelectShow

Among their stash, in the most securely-locked chest, is a scroll case containing the second page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim. Apart from this and a few other arcane texts, the treasure consists mostly of mundane riches; the knights have sold most of the Arcana they have stolen, retaining only a few useful ones which they keep on their person.

Cadian Document: Page 2 SelectShow

Stats: Aequiton SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 1

Some weeks ago, you undertook to explore the ruins of the ancient city-state of Acadus for the sage Ladan, and retrieved several books and pages of arcane interest. Ladan has been poring over them for all that time, and now he has recalled you for another task; he seems rather excited about it. The job is simple but the pay is good: you are to deliver a packet to the Tower of Glory in the capital.

Sneaking a peek, the packet contains a letter:

Ladan's letter SelectShow

Also enclosed in the packet is a copy of one of the pages of ancient Cadian text you retrieved from the ruins, with a curious illustration. Translated, it reads as follows:

Cadian Document: Page 1 SelectShow

In addition to your fee, rations are provided and fresh horses have been placed at your disposal. Any reasonable expenses will be covered.

Stats: Veredicton SelectShow

Stats: Ladan SelectShow

Halfling Pantheon, the Crunchy Bits

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

The halfling pantheon is rather kinder than the Goblin Pantheon, but not as well-rounded as the Elemental Tetratheon. There is a strong focus on community, and the Death, Evil, Fire, and Magic domains are all absent.

Creating the Halfling Pantheon

The polyhedral pantheon process can be summarized quite simply.

  1. Choose a polyhedron.
  2. Assign a domain to each point and face.
  3. Group domains for each god.
  4. Determine the ‘chosen weapon’ of each god.

This provides all the information needed to use the gods in play. There is no setting-specific information here, but it is enough for a cleric to choose her god and domains.

Let’s begin.
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Jhesiri God: Natlot, Battlesinger, Lethal Dancer

Natlot is an anomaly among the jhesiri deities. Most jhesiri deities are savage and undiscerning, but Natlot is pragmatic and efficient in combat.

His followers are the same, carefully choosing their enemies for the benefit to be gained in killing them and then doing so in as efficient a manner as possible. This is not the same as being cautious; a Natlotian worshipper or priest is quite comfortable risking his life in a stunning display of martial artistry if it can bring enough glory and lead to greater slaughter of the enemy.

Natlot

Battlesinger, Lethal Dancer

Alignment Neutral

Portfolios Flamboyant grace in combat, fluid movement, derring-do

Domains Glory, Destruction, Fire, Madness, Death

Favored Weapon Heart-Seeker (artifact rapier)

Artifacts Hearts-Blood (rapier; keen, heartseeking, glorious, vorpal [piercing weapon stabs to the heart rather than chops off the head])

Herald TBD

Greater Ally TBD

Ally TBD

Lesser Ally TBD

Alternate Channeling Choose at the time of channeling:

  • Creatures gain a channel bonus on weapon damage and critical hit confirmation until the end of your next turn [Battle/Wrath variant channeling, ‘heal’ option]
  • You may channel as part of a successful critical hit to add a bleed effect equal to the number of channel dice [Murder variant channeling, ‘heal’ option, modified]
  • Creatures may not take attacks of opportunity until the end of your next turn [Strategy variant channeling, ‘harm’ option]

Identification

Appearance Unusually tidy and presentable goblin with precise movement and grace, clothes show ostentatious repairs where someone managed to wound him.

Symbol Rapier with a heart impaled on it

Manifestations Serendipitous opportunity in battle for a precise strike, unexpected avoidance of precise strike or ambush

Legends The Deepest Scar, Dance of Days

Relationships

Friendly Ramdzasha, Yakhar, Hadang Samptar

Enemy Pretty much all non-goblin.

Mixed Arak-Zoth, Ravena, other goblin gods, other goblin tribes

Religion

Worshippers Dervishes, bards, assassins, duelists

Temples Other deity’s temples, desecrated with the temples’ priests pinned with weapons to key points (altar, nave, idol, etc.), until the priests die of their wounds.

Shrines Anywhere a worshipper of another deity or an innocent is pinned with a weapon, after death, as long as the dead remained pinned with the weapons that killed them.

Altars Anywhere a worshipper of another deity or an innocent is pinned with a weapon, until death.

Holy Sites Anywhere an act of precision violence (assassination, successful raid, battleground where one side was exterminated) has taken place.

Priests Bards (Dervish archetype especially), assassins (prestige class or dedicated precision killer), successful duelists.

Priest Appearance ‘Duelist-appropriate’ clothing (snug and allowing movement, at the least, may be flamboyant as long as it is serviceable in a fight).

Priest Training Jhesiri (and sometimes others) who practice deadly precision in fighting, alertness for optimum opportunity, and so on, are invited by the rare Natlotian priest to take training. This training is a mix of dedicated martial training, movement and agility (Perform (Dance), Acrobatics, etc.), and similar. Many become bards (with dervishes being unusually common), others end up moving toward the silent arts (many Shadowdancers, compared to the number of priests).

Dogma Take every advantage, give up nothing without expecting advantage in return, you live most when death is closest, leave none living behind.

Rituals Mostly around preparing for combat, each battle is seen as a ritual itself and a sacrifice (of others) to Natlot.

Prayers “Another to your glory!” “Death guides my arm!”

Natlot and Hadang Samptar are unlikely allies. One focuses on skill and precision in combat, achieving maximum gain for minimal effort, while the other is an indiscriminate slaughterer. In both cases, though, the goal is to destroy the target. Where Hadang Samptar’s followers aim to simply kill everything because it’s easier, and burn the things that cannot be killed, Natlot’s followers are more selective in their targets, removing those that will make it easier to defeat their enemies. The followers of Hadang Samptar will simply attack and kill, the followers of Natlot will infiltrate encampments and assassinate critical figures, seek out leaders on the battlefield, and likewise efficiently remove lynchpins in the enemies’ troops.

As an aspect of Ramdzasha, Natlot’s herald and allies can be used by Ramdzasha. The converse is not true, since Ramdzasha’s other heralds and allies are drawn from her other aspects.

Like Ramdzasha’s temples and holy sites, Natlot’s’s temples and holy sites are opportunistic and temporary, empowered by death and destruction.

Elemental Tetratheon, First Analysis

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

Polyhedral Pantheons Cover

As I assigned domains to the sites on this polyhedron I started having ideas about how to interpret the results. I had started with the idea of four ‘elemental poles’ to the pantheon. The normal relationships between the elements (Air opposes Earth, Fire opposes Water) don’t seem to apply; if you were to project the polyhedron onto a sphere the elemental domains are assigned to equidistant points. That is, each domain is equally opposed to each of the other three.

I want to play on that. Each site with an elemental domain represents a major deity, but these deities have fewer domains than the nominally lesser deities. I realized that if I treat the adjacent faces as aspects of the major gods then each major god, through its aspects, grants direct or indirect access to thirteen domains.

That seems ‘major enough’ to me. There will be some slight overlap in domain assignments between the different deities, around the edges, but that should be fine.
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