Friday, 21 February 2020

Being Dead

February 19, 2020

Caller of Path and Orla Ondine awake in a barren space. This sunless place seems endless, and there is little feature to the ground beneath them. As their eyes open and the confusion of their being settles, they recall the moments prior to their apparition here; the battle that cost their lives.

Orla feels on her body, recalling where she was stabbed in the moments before her death. Caller feels a bittersweet loss as he remembers bargaining with his god to save the lives of his friends, now with full knowledge of what the exchange had cost. Although Orla and Caller recognize their demise, it is a small satisfaction knowing that somewhere else, Luxia Fielding, Sava Smallman, and Magic the Dwarf remain alive and well.

Although the wizard Orla has reached this place with none of her magical totems, Caller finds a candle in his pocket. Perhaps it is a gift from his god, or some offering sent from the grateful living, he lights it and feels a humble bliss.

Together they wander by candlelight, but not long before encountering another odd paid. Before them, a woman and a halfling; both scarred by weapons still stuck in their torsos. They introduce themselves as Jora the Whip and Jillian Jailhound, tell of their deaths in the heat of combat at high sea. Jora had been a hearty shipmate and Jillian an escaped convict. 

Four of them then encounter yet another odd couple; an elven woman escorted by a nearly decapitated goat. She introduces herself as Almathea, and her companion as Sir Cudsworth. Although she is not sure how she arrived at this place, the group informs her that she is most probably also dead, which comes to her easily as the last memories she has are of wandering away from a battle, the last of her group to survive and only barely. Almathea presumes that it was not long afterward some hardship of the wild took the last of her health.

Altogether unsure what to do with themselves, the sextet wander the empty place and contemplate the meaning of their demise. Jora and Jillian eject the weapons from their bodies and in doing so realize that in their current form, they are able to manifest objects that they once held dear in the land of the living. Jora produces a javelin more fitted to his small frame than the unwieldy spear, while Jillian plays with her newly procured rapier.

Caller calls them to hush as they approach another figure. Hooded in dark robes not far in the distance, a skeletal being hovers and beckons them. It speaks very little, but is of some authority in this domain.

The being presents the party a choice; accept their death and move on to the afterlife which they most deserve, or face the challenge of death's gauntlet for a chance to return to life. Succeeding would give an opportunity to return unto the land of the living, but failure assures their eternal souls be lost forever. 

After moments of deliberation, none feel ready to accept their passing, and thus the band of heroes hastily agrees to the being's challenge. It gestures to a massive skull in the distance, its mouth open and large enough to enter and suggests that their challenge awaits through its gaping maw. They part with the skeletal entity and prepare themselves to descend into whatever depths await.

At the mouth of the skull, loud screams echo through the plains. It is unclear to them if they are hearing the sounds of tormented spirits within the gauntlet below, or merely the harsh winds whipping through the giant skull's parted teeth. Looking into its mouth provides no clue to the horrors that await them, but with brashness and gusto Jora leads the group downward into the depths.

Descending a stairwell for sometime, the screams fade away, and a chatter of voices begins to rise. A collection of familiar voices surround the group. As if pulled from distant memories of forgotten friends, lovers, and relatives the voices are a fascinating array of nostalgia and curiosity. It feels as if every lingering wonder over a lost connection could be answered if only one would stop and listen here for long enough.

At the base of the stairs, still surrounded by these voices, the group finds themselves at an intersection and unsure of which way to go. Jillian looks to her god for guidance and receives a warning about dangers awaiting down a corridor to the right. She asks again, asking for more knowledge, but finds only anger and obliges the group to wait a moment while she prays for forgiveness.

During this time, Jora hears a familiar voice but can't quite place who they were. He remembers their importance, but no face comes to his mind. This puzzle in his mind begins to take hold, and he tries long to put answer to his curiosity until he remembers his purpose in this place. Many more questions could be answered, once he escaped from death's grasp.

Heading down a corridor to the left, the group finds themselves in a hallway of indiscernible length, seemingly filled with infinite doors of various make. To their side, an open archway leading elsewhere.

Almathea studies the doors, looking for something familiar from her life but finds nothing. Mystified by the multitude, she ushers the group instead toward the archway and peers through to see a hallway full of nooks. Inside each, a mummified corpse stands erect. Jora is spooked by this sight and urges her to turn around immediately.

Upon reversing course, Jora notices one of the many doors begin to open. With less sense than most, he calls out and approaches to greet whatever is coming through. A moment later, a spectral entity burst forward through the doorway and skitters up the wall to the ceiling. It has a ghostly figure and shifts as it moves. It lets out a screech and dives toward Almathea, slashing her down.

Jillian reconnects with her deity and commands the spirit away with her divine might. Orla follows with some magic that fails to affect it, and Jora stabs at the figure. Turned by the might of Jillian's conviction, the spirit flees back from whence it came, leaving the group to scurry away while Sir Cudsworth drags Almathea's body back to the central pathway.

Though fallen, Almathea realizes she is not dead. Or more, she's already dead. Her vitality here is not measured in blood or consciousness, but some other form of spiritual power. Harnessing it, she pulls herself back up and remedies the pain the spectre had caused.

Still fearing the ill omen to their right, the group heads down the central hallway leading to a large space filled with mist. It is so wide that there seems to be no walls or ceiling, but it is most certainly an illusion of the heavy fog. Far in the distance, a large dark shape stands. Caller illuminates his candle and casts a spell to detect evil forces around them. Lighting the way, he leads the party through the mist.

Reaching the dark shape, they recognize it as a large gallows tree. Hung bodies sway from its branches by nooses, though no wind blows them to motion. Caller's vision tells him that this tree is most certainly evil, and wishes them harm.

Crows flap about the bodies, pecking at their flesh and cawing menacingly. One such bird carries a golden coin in its beak. Recognizing the concept of the coin as a token of passage within the world of the dead, Orla tells the group that it's probable such a piece could help them find their way back to life.

Jillian grows curious about the coin the bird carries and casts bewitchment upon the crow, commanding it to 'GIVE'. In kind, the bird flits down to her, placing the coin at her feet. Then, it returns to one of the hanging bodies and pecks out an eye to also lay at her feet. Again, it repeats this with another eye in offer, then an ear, a nose, and more small bits of body for almost an hour. By the time it finishes, Jillian has been gifted a small pile of mutilated flesh and organs.

As the bird finishes, it perches on a branch. Another crow flies toward it, and the two winged bodies merge into a larger one. Then, again another and it grows larger still. While the group wishes time to inspect the coin they received they feel wary of staying longer and head away to their left.

They come to a large brass door, marked with runes of fire and pyramids. Jora recognizes some of the shapes but fears them far less than the crows they just left, opening the door. Inside, he sees a room of polished metal with lewd tapestries hanging from the walls. They depict lustful acts of pleasure, while a large wooden desk and throne-like chair sit in the center.

Upon entering, a very handsome man appears at the desk. With horns on his head, goat-like legs, and red skin, he appears a familiar sight to Orla who had studied some occult writing. He grins at her with a devilish smile and asks how he can be of service. Orla asks him to explain their situation.

The man introduces himself as The Ambassador from Hell, and tells them about the golden coin that Jillian had procured from the crow. They are a currency called Obols, equivalent to one eternal soul.

Summoning one such coin in his hand, he tells the group that they'll need them if they're ever to return to life, but reminds them that the odds of surviving the challenges ahead are slim. He offers an easier course, conscripting their souls to hell in exchange for an easier return to life, suggesting the probability of doing so otherwise would be rather unlikely given what awaits. 

Orla tries to make a deal, offering a plethora of souls once turned to the land, but the red man declines as payment in such bargains must be offered up front. It would seem there is no system of credit to be found among the damned.

The Ambassador extends an invitation to his Palace of Innocent Deaths, elsewhere in the land of the dead. He describes it as a place of feasting and pleasure, and recounts the many satisfactions that await them should the party accept.

Jora studies the lewd tapestries with skepticism, and sees a myriad of scenes that depict a wide range of turgid delights. It's tempting, but not enough. Jora rushes to The Ambassador and tries to snatch the golden coin from his hand. This delights the red man and makes him laugh as he hoists it above the halflings hand and away from his reach.

Jillian explores the back of the office, finding a winding passageway filled with mummies similar to the sort they'd found earlier. Meanwhile, Caller and Almathea discuss the merit of offering Sir Cudsworth's soul, but Almathea will have no such bargain claim her companion. Instead, the group bows away from The Ambassador and leave to return from where they came. The Ambassador from Hell reminds them he will be waiting for their return, and that his door is always open for a bargain.

Passing the tree again, the group carries onward to an archway and stone passage that lead to a large wooden door shaped somewhat like a coffin. Through it, they see a relatively small room lined with many shelves of different jars. Though some are glass, and others clay, they are countless in their multitude.

Almathea and Cudsworth enter the room to inspect the jars further, and are shocked when suddenly a very tall and thin humanoid appears. It stands above them, at least twelve feet tall and is placing a jar on a very high rung of the shelf. Its head is naught but a wide mouth of teeth and two golden eyes sewn like buttons on its face.

Cautiously, the elf greets it and is immediately met with aggression. Jillian reacts, cursing it, while the goat pulls Almathea out of the room in terror. As soon as she is beyond the archway of the coffin-door, the being vanishes from sight.

Recalling what he'd done with his javelin, Jora manifests the armor he had worn in life, and the others follow suit, preparing themselves to face this creature once more. Quietly, Jora then sneaks into the room, causing the tall thing to reappear in the group's vision.

Though it doesn't notice Jora's hiding, it definitely sees Jillian fire a bow, striking it in the chest. In response, it grabs a jar from the shelf and opens it to release a ghostly figure. The tall one opens its mouth and drinks the spirit, ejecting the arrow from its body and healing itself of its wound.

Almathea rushes back in and swings her sword, but panics and makes a fool of herself. Orla summons a rope to bind the creature, hoisting it into the air while Caller protects himself in a holy sanctuary. With the beast bound, Jora jumps out from hiding and stabs at it, but slips and poorly misses.

Jillian summons the power of her god to turn the unholy being away, but instead causes several of the jars to crack open, releasing dozens of spirits from their confines and into the air. The monster sucks in some of these spirits and it loosens the bonds Orla had placed on it. Almathea tries her best to recapture it in the binds, but fails, and Orla can't hold it either.

Protected by the blessing of his god, Caller calmly walks in and assesses the situation. He regards the golden eyes of the beast and recognizes them as the coins The Ambassador had been discussing. He then grabs two soul jars, and places them outside the room for safe keeping.

In this process, the monster spots Caller and dives to attack him, but from the cleric's blessedness, the tall creature trips in the process and falls prone before them. Jora sees the coins as well and seizes the opportunity to stab out one of its eyes, claiming one of the Obols for himself. In triumph, Jora shouts, "In the land of the floor, the short one is king!"

Jillian neglects the eyes and again tries to command the spirit to flee but fails to overcome its will, and the beast rises again to suck up more souls in the process.

Almathea and the goats start smashing as many jars as they can, setting loose hundreds of spirits and Orla tries to bind it again in her ropework spell. Meanwhile, Jora and Caller steal more soul jars, and Jillian attacks the beast with her axes. In kind, the monster responds by striking Jillian.

The elf and goat continue breaking jars, now freeing hundreds of souls into the air but barely making a dent in the thousands that are present in the room. Orla gives up on her magic and helps Jora steal more of the jars, to which he assures her they can trade to The Ambassador for coins.

Caller reaches the wounded Jillian and casts a protective spell on her, urging her to battle as he tries to rally the group to a sensible plan amidst their chaos. Almathea summons a second goat.

Jora and Jillian continue fighting while Almathea borrows some luck to rebind the creature in her rope spell. The goats try to knock the tall creature down, but fail and break a horn in the process. Orla stabs at it with her sword, but misses. Caller, Jora, and Jillian all fail to bring the beast to their level.

It continues to repair itself on the souls of the dead, and the battle seems unwinnable. Caller stands dumbfounded and helpless to calculate a strategy, but through the state of doubt Orla manages to bind it with her ropes and Jora pulls it to its knees. Jillian captures her second chance to steal its eye, and pries it loose from its socket amidst her cheers.

The beast rages, and Almathea tries to throw some broken glass in its mouth, slicing her hands in the process while Orla, Caller, and Jora make their quick escape. Jillian continues to stay and fight despite their beckoning, and when she exits it is made apparent that she never collected the coin that fell.

With face in palm, Caller grabs one of Almathea's goats and re-enters the room to see the tall beast sewing its eye back on. Focused on the safety of her goat, the elf casts another rope spell to loosen the threads of the beast's eye, giving Caller enough time to run and grab the coin as it hits the floor.

They all exit and bring their stolen jars back across the misty room and to The Ambassador from Hell.

Certain that they'd earned themselves at least a dozen Obol coins for their bounty, the group proudly offers him the exchange. Unfortunately, The Ambassador informs them that such captured souls are not theirs to give, and laughs at their naivete. 

He reminds them that his offers still stand, though with a coin each for three of the six in their group it seems quite possible the the challenges he mentioned may have been overstated.

- As recalled by Caller of the Path

Sunday, 15 December 2019

City of the Apes

May 15 2019

Inside the carved mouth of a dragon statue, the pary surveys a city from on-high. Below them, a hidden metropolis full of giant apes stirs. An entire civilization, unknown to the world above, goes about its routine as the intrepid adventurers look onward. Above it all, a large orb hovering in the air casts artificial light unto this secret world, emulating the cycle of the outside world's sun. Unsure of what to make of this marvel, the group makes camp inside the mouth of the massive dragon statue, while the sky orb dims to night.

In the "morning", the group notices that a pyramid, central to the city structures is a hub of much activity. Curiosity plagues the party, as they wonder what mysteries this undiscovered place may hold.

The cleric Caller of Path speaks to his god in early prayer, asking for the clarity to find way unto these many secrets. His words are seemingly unheard by the divine, but in his lament a previously unseen staircase suspiciously finds its way into his view. Taking his prayer candle in-hand, the humble cleric sets the party downward into the depths of the cavern and to the outskirts of this unexplored city.

Led by the halfling Sava Smallman, they follow in darkness as to avoid drawing attention to themselves as they carry forward. This proves problematic as tiny winged dragonlings besiege the group, pestering them with little bites and scratches. Realizing that a little blood loss to these flying vermin would be less trouble than the cost of a larger altercation, the gang allows the baby dragons to peck at them with no greater mind than one would pay mosquitoes in a swamp.

Upon reaching landfall, the halfling races ahead to scout the surrounding area. She finds a stream that leads passed several ruined buildings, now home to none but rats, and unfrequented roads in poor repair that lead inward to the city proper. With no sign of the apelike beings or other intelligent life, she returns to the group and suggests its safety. They light torches and proceed, in kind.

Together, the band carries along the stream towards a broken tower that they spot in the distance. It seems uninhabited, and a safe place to park themselves for the moment. Yet, as they march, a group of well-armed apefolk turns corner some hundred feet ahead of them. Carrying large spears and leashes, this group of about one dozen patrols with a small pack of dog-sized lizard creatures. It seems unlikely that the adventurers will find adequate cover to hide before they are in eyesight.

Stepping forward to intercept them, Orla the Snake-Witch speaks some arcane words and aims to set a magical charm unto the soldiers. Caller of Path prays for his god to sanctify the ground beneath them as a holy and protected space.

Meanwhile, Theiline the young squire calls upon his own deity to know the hearts of these apefolk, praying to find goodness within; It is a naive gesture.

The ape-men begin firing crossbow bolts about the party, striking none but startling all. They shout forth for surrender, prepared to strike again lest their warning shots be ignored. Outnumbered, the adventurers desist until they are surrounded on all sides by the troop. Two of the largest apefolk, bearing the standards of their clan, step forward to question their captives.

Caller of Path does his best to eloquently explain the group's meager desire to find their way home, and the soldiers agree not to kill them presently. The party's fate would best be decided by the apefolk's elder leaders, and thus the entire party is taken prisoner as Sava, Orla, and Grog the Strong are led by escort to the tower they had once thought abandoned. All others are kept under close watch by the soldiers, while their fate is decided.

In a room at the top of the tower, above a long and winding staircase, the leaders of the apefolk reveal themselves in fancy robes, decorated with astrological symbols. They offer their charges fruit and tea, but only the halfling is spirited enough to eat. The elder apes listen, as Orla explains her mission and in turn, the apes question the group's motives.

Through their conversations with Orla, the elders reveal that the city of apes is far from a unified state. Several differing tribes live in conflict with one another, and that valuing wisdom and enlightenment the group that these elder apes represent House Zamoush, the sole tribe of civility. Respecting these values, Sava offers them a parchment covered in runes that she had pilfered from her dead boyfriend's body. They take it, barely offering thanks.

Orla probes for more information, learning of the other tribes; the militant House Virdius, and rebellious House Tarex. The elder apes ask Orla what she hopes to accomplish, and she reveals her desire for ultimate magical power. Although it is a startling revelation to hear from such an outsider, the leader-apes come to respect the earnestness of her expression and offer a small building for the party to reside while their fates are deliberated upon.

Within this building they are well cared for, though kept under strict guard. The party is given food, and all the accommodation that they need, as they are made to wait three days while the leaders of House Zamoush come to their decision.

During this time, the group learns of the dragon Servok and the faith that House Virdius has placed in him, believing him to be the living avatar of a powerful god named Baphotek-Core. There are many within House Zamoush who carry doubts on this truth.

After the days of waiting, the group is brought back to the tower to speak with the elders who now have a purpose in mind for the adventurers. They seek to smuggle the party near the avatar Servok, and create a clever ambush wherein they will slay the dragon and reveal the falseness of his divinity; setting balance and truth unto the ape city once more. In exchange, House Zamoush will provide permanent sanctuary once the deed is complete.

Without much option, the party accepts the task.

Later in the day, the adventuring group is accompanied by a troop of ten soldiers and five heralds who lead them through the city. On their tour, the group plays witness to the reality of the society and they realize how unsafe it is. Fights and brutalities are common, and they witness several harsh acts that would leave creatures of their stature permanently maimed.

Their escort leads them to the city core, and the steps of a pyramid where two well decorated ape-men guard an entrance. With no brighter plan, the party seizes their concealed weapons and blitzes forward in an incredibly obvious assault. Seeing the oncoming non-apes, the guards sound horns that draw the attention of surrounding hordes who rush to the city center.

Now surrounded by enclosing walls of ape-soldiers in all directions, the group has but one option to survive; enter the pyramid and close the gates behind them. Above them now flaps the wings of a massive green dragon that roars and swoops toward the band. Javelins fly toward them from all directions, striking Orla and the farmgirl Luxia as they scramble up the large staircase to the pyramid entrance. Treiline prays again to his god, this time asking for safety, but the only response is another javelin to strike him down and unconscious.

Luxia grips her trusted pitchfork and grits teeth as she skewers one of the two standing guards, pushing her way inside. Grog and the cleric known as Magic the Dwarf finish the second and follow suit. Soon all are inside, and Sava trips the portcullis to close the gate as she watches Treiline's still wheezing body overrun by the trampling feet of House Virdius' soldiers as they stampede toward her.

With the gate tricked shut, the party has a moment of calm and reflection for the dead whom they barely knew. Their gaze panning around to view tapestries which depict vivid artworks highlighting the god Baphotek-Core's greatest cruelties. Two staircases at the end of the entrance hall lead upward to the left and the right, a silvery pool between them. As the group cautiously marches forward, large swinging blades let loose across the path, barely missing their heads.

Deftly avoiding the booby traps, each member makes their way through the bladed hall to the pool before ascending the rightmost stairs. It leads them to a dark throne room with a black chair and a statue of the dragon they had previously witnessed. A woman with a sword gestures to the group from a shade of comfortable looking pillows. She beckons them to join her and relax while pouring wine.

Caller begins to protest her seductions, but before words can escape his lips, two hidden assassins jump to murder Groote the Soft-Spoken. His comrade Bagel the Healer rushes to arms, but cannot save his best friend. Luxia joins the skirmish late, but skewers one of the killers with her pitchfork as Grog clears the other's head off in response.

In the chaos, Sava is mobbed by the concubine woman and knocked out cold. Caller of Path rushes to her rescue, calling upon the divine power of his god to heal the little one.

Grog steadies his weapon and attacks the woman, knocking her sword to the ground. Luxia follows with her pitchfork, upending the woman and tossing her to the floor also. From below, the concubine shouts a foreign word, and the dais in the center of the room begins to rise. From an opening in the ceiling, the green dragon Servok enters, perching himself atop it.

Terrified of the beast, and grateful for her life, Sava dives among the concubine's pillows to hide. In the process, she kicks up a cloud of poisonous dust that slows her body and dulls her mind.

Caller of Path speaks word from his deity and commands the woman to surrender, while Orla attempts to conjure magical ropes to bind the dragon. Both are failed in their attempts as the dragon descends into the room.

From its great mouth, the dragon speaks and the concubine bolts to his dais, escaping as it rises back upward to the hole in the ceiling. She scrambles out the top, leaving none but the party and this avatar of a god within the throne room.

Orla summons a ball of magical energy and whips it at the dragon's snout, enraging it. In return, Servok opens its maw and breaths fire all over Merelyn the Maiden and Grog. It then swoops forward and bites Orla, nearly ripping her in two. She falls to the ground, unconscious.

Quickly, Bagel the Healer rushes to save Grog from his burns. Caller does likewise for Orla, rescuing her life from the clutches of death.

Furiously, Orla rises and summons her greatest magics. Sacrificing her strength for ability, she attempts to summon magical ropework again while Servok volleys a counterspell. As if dueling in some realm outside their own, the dragon and witch lock gaze as their powers clash. Intense power can be felt by all near, as their conflict rages inside them.

Then, a string appears; It grows into a yarn, twists into a rope, and extends to wrap itself around the mouth and body of the dragon. The rope tightens at Orla's command, compressing Servok's wings and flattening him to the ground. With a gesture, it drags him forward, helpless and bound before her. For the first time, mortal fear seeps into the mind of the once proud beast.

With no hesitation, the others jump to stab the dragon a thousand times over with their blades. In glee they rip through his flesh and ravish Servok's helpless body, ultimately beheading him in triumph.

From above, the concubine watches in horror and calls to them when they are done bathing in dragon blood. Considering her harmless, and in their delight, the group awaits her descent. She chastises them as fools, and warns of the trouble they unwittingly have set upon her and themselves.

Revealing a gem from her pocket she urges the party to follow her, lest they face the furious soldiers of House Viridus. She then uses the gem to create a portal away from the pyramid, and into some world unknown. With only moments to choose, the group rushes into the portal and unto their next adventure.

-- As scribed by one of the participants of these events.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

News In & Around Denethix

At the moment, Toronto Crawl Classics is focused on an area somewhere within the former United States, the city-state of Denethix. The city-state is currently prosperous, despite being a bastion surrounded by the territories of hostile wizards, largely due to the protection of its ruler, Feretha, the Black Claw.

Celebration of the Black Claw

Feretha’s birthday is celebrated on the 15th of November. By this time, the first snows have fallen. There will be parades, hot mead vendors, and a general celebration. The Black Claw is not likely to attend; indeed, his popularity seems to increase in inverse proportion to how often he is seen. Having been locked in private experiments now for over two years, the protection Feretha provides against the other sorcerers of the surrounding lands has begun to outweigh the memory of his own depridations.

Some Locations of Note

Tower of Feretha: The tower of the great wizard dominates the city. This colossal eight-legged web of steel girders stands in the middle of the Verdant Plaza, 1000 feet tall, supporting a perfect white sphere 200 feet in diameter. Only the Vizier Yrenum and Captain Tyro of the Unyielding Fist are permitted to enter the tower.

Verdant Plaza: In the center of the city, surrounding the Tower of Feretha and overlooking the Voltaic Cataract, is the Verdant Plaza. The city gardeners keep this park in impeccable condition, with nary a flower petal out of place during the summer months. There are wide lawns, tree-shaded rhododendron hedge mazes, topiary gardens, orchards, vineyards, flower beds, and a multitude of other botanical delights.

The gardens are patrolled by the mounted cavalry of the Unyielding Fist, carrying lances, swords, and gilded blunderbusses. Both cavalrymen and mounts are resplendent in their dress uniforms and ceremonial barding.

Palais Immaculate: To the west of the Tower of Feretha is the Palais Immaculate, the grand palace of the Vizier, Koyl Yrenum. The palace is a marble structure ten stories high, and houses Koyl, his harem, eunuch slaves, personal guard, sycophants, advisors, household staff, and those dandies he finds entertaining at parties.

Palais Indomitable: On the opposite side of the Verdant Plaza stands the Palais Indomitable, the massive towered fortress of Captain Tyro. The fortress itself houses the Unyielding Fist, its armaments, and the repair-bays of the Steel Leviathans. Below the Palais are the feared Judicial Vaults, the dungeons where the sentences of the Star Courts are carried out.

Palais Public: This seven story building is the center of political life in Denethix. The first floor of the building is dedicated to the Hall of Deliberation, where the Exalted and Chosen Brethren’s public sessions occur. The upper floors are dedicated to the offices of bureaucrats not esteemed enough to have space in the Palais Immaculate, the Brethren’s personal offices, and the Star Courts.

Rumours In & Around Denethix

  • The Yellow Sign continues to appear scrawled on various buildings throughout the city.  Who is making it, and what might it portend?
  • A were-grunkie is hunting beggars in the City Underfoot.
  • A man who casts no shadow is breaking into buildings where people have recently been murdered.
  • Plague is brewing in Tarryfield. It is said that, with the cats gone, the rats grow bold. Perhaps they are the cause of the plague?
  • An idol found in a back alley of Denethix has attracted many worshippers, based on the number of candles and offerings left before it. She appears to be an ivory-hued woman, about 2 feet tall. Strangely, the idol appears to have burst out of the wall which holds it.
  • Another wrinkled, balding child was found wandering around the Street of Lesser Men. They don’t speak, none of them ever speak.
  • Slavers operating near Marston have made an unholy alliance with the Insect Men of the Wastes. Surely this cannot be good for anyone traveling east.  Whether being sold to any of the hostile wizards surrounding Denethix, or being taken into the Wastes to feed the grubs of the Insect Men, neither is a fate one would desire. Luckily, their activities have slowed with the winter months.
  • Moktars are camping out in the old temple of Ahriman north of the Cones. It is to be hoped that they don’t stir up whatever may sleep there.
  • Stories out of Chelmfordshire claim that demons made of bone and metal have raided outlying farms to the west. Those who are taken are never seen again.
  • Giant worms, which do not seem to mind the colder weather, are bothering folks near Harwich.
  • When they were digging the City Underfoot, they had to drive out some weird little blue fellows out of the caves that were already there. It’s all gotta be flooded now, but my brother Bill told me he saw a little blue man crawling into the storm drains last night.
  • The Unyielding Fist seeks agents to root out cultists in Kingshire, southwest of Tarryfield.
  • There is a site near the Bazaar Incomparable where the snow melts as soon as it falls, and men with torches stand guard at night. Rumour has it that a vault filled with priceless jewels is hidden somewhere near.
  • William Stoddart, a merchant , was attacked and killed by a beggar – and the beggar then began to drink his blood! The merchant’s guards soon slew the beggar in turn, but it is said that the beggar’s wounds did not bleed.
  • The bandits along the western roads grow bolder of late, and more cunning it is said.

Monday, 21 October 2019


Note that these rules assume the reaction roll system described here.


Once you have a stable of potential characters, it is desirable to limit play during any given session to one character each.  Characters not in use are enjoying downtime. There are obvious reasons why a party may wish to use downtime even for their main characters, and this is entirely permissible.

Downtime takes place in units of 1 week.

It is entirely possible for costs accrued during downtime to exceed a PC’s capacity to pay. In this case, a PC may borrow up to 10 gp/level from unscrupulous nobles, mob bosses, loan sharks, and similar people. These folks expect to get paid back, with 25% interest, within the next 1d3 weeks, and will take pains to ensure that the PC remembers to pay the debt owed. PCs who owe more than they can pay, or who refuse to borrow, lose all benefits from downtime, including hit point recovery. The end of the week sees them no better off than they began, and they are wanted debtors to boot!


Once per downtime, no matter how many weeks that downtime lasts, a player may refuse a die roll result and accept a Shenanigans! result instead. The Shenanigans! table consists of 120 unique events which may occur. This is a living document, which is updated periodically to prevent the same result coming up twice. If the same roll is made before the table is updated, the first available later result occurs. Unlike the other tables in the downtime system, players do not have access to the Shenanigans! table, and whether an entry is good, bad, or indifferent is not dependent upon the roll.

Pay Upkeep

During downtime, a character pays for food, shelter, and other expenses. Depending upon the character’s lifestyle during downtime, there may be secondary effects (as noted below). Cost assumes DCC average prices, and may be higher or lower in certain areas based upon local economy. Actions taken by PCs can also defray costs – for example, establishing a home base.

Additional Effects
1 gp
DC 10 Fort save or 1d5 points Stamina damage at end of week; 1d5 additional Stamina damage on a natural 1. Social reactions shifted by 2 dice (penalty). Luck check to avoid an Unpleasant Encounter. Character experiences 1d5 – Luck modifier Unpleasant Encounters (1d30 – Luck modifier).
5 gp
DC 5 Fort save or 1 point Stamina damage at end of week; 1d5 on a natural 1. Social reactions shifted by 1 die (penalty). Luck check to avoid an Unpleasant Encounter (1d20 – Luck modifier).
7 gp
10 gp
Luck check to gain a Pleasant Encounter.
25 gp
DC 20 Fort save to heal an extra 1 HD due to good food and pampering.  Social reactions shifted by 1 die (bonus). Character experiences 1 + Luck modifier Pleasant Encounters (to a minimum of 1; 1d20 + Luck modifier).
100 gp
DC 10 Fort save to heal an extra 1 HD due to good food and pampering. DC 20 Fort save to recover 1 point of permanent Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss (chosen by the player), due to expert medical care. Social reactions shifted by 2 dice (bonus). Character experiences 1d5 + Luck modifier Pleasant Encounters (to a minimum of 1; 1d30 + Luck modifier).
Pleasant and Unpleasant Encounters

Details of these encounters are determined by the player and judge, with the judge having final say.

Pleasant Encounters (1d20 or 1d30 + Luck modifier)
1 or less
Catastrophe! The Pleasant Encounter turns into a Unpleasant Encounter! Roll 1d20 – Luck modifier on the Unpleasant Encounter table.
A secretive cult is interested in extending you membership. You may gain their enmity if you refuse to join (DC 10 Personality check avoids).
A small animal, such as a cat, dog, bird, mouse, or squirrel, befriends you. There is a 10% chance that the animal may be brought on adventures.
You gain access to a shady business deal. If you wish, you may invest up to 100 gp. After 1d5 months, roll 1d12: (1-6) Your money is lost; (7-9) wait another 1d5 months to determine the outcome; (10-11) your investment returns double your money; or (12) your investment returns four times your money.
You gain a minor windfall of 2d10 gp.
You hear an interesting rumour, which could lead to another adventure.
If you are willing to tell tales of your adventures, you gain a free round of drinks. This adjusts your reaction dice by 1 die in your favour.
You make a potential friend, albeit one in a lowly position.
An omen in your favour grants +1 Luck.
You are given a gift worth 1d10 gp.
You find yourself the subject of the amorous advances of a commoner. Do you accept?
You are offered a business deal. If you wish, you may invest up to 50 gp. After 1d5 months, roll 1d12: (1-4) Your money is lost; (5-6) wait another 1d3 months to determine outcome; (7-9) you make a return of 150% of your original stake, rounded up; (10-11) you make a return of 200% of your original stake; or (12) you make a return of 250% of your original stake, rounded up.
You gain a windfall of 2d20 gp.
You hear an interesting rumour, which could lead to another adventure.
You make a potential friend, who is a commoner.
You are given a gift worth 1d20 gp. The person who gives it to you hopes to earn your favour.
You are invited to a party, and may make a free Carousing roll if you wish.
You are invited to a dinner party; make a DC 10 Personality check to gain a 1 die shift in your reaction dice to your benefit. Fail, and you gain a 1 die shift penalty.
You are subjected to the amorous advances of a freeman or freewoman. Do you accept?
You are offered a business deal. If you wish, you may invest up to 200 gp. After 1d5 months, roll 1d12: (1-4) Your money is lost; (5-6) wait another 1d3 months to determine outcome; (7-9) you make a return of 150% of your original stake, rounded up; (10-11) you make a return of 200% of your original stake; or (12) you make a return of 250% of your original stake, rounded up.
You make a potential friend, who is a freeman or freewoman.
You learn a valuable secret. Make a Luck check; if you succeed, no one else knows you learned it. Otherwise, there might be those who would see the knowledge die with you.
You receive a gift worth 1d100 gp. The person giving you this gift is trying to earn your favour, and will be offended if you sell it.
You earn the favour of a god or other supernatural being, resulting in the gain of 1d3 Luck.
You make a potential friend, who is a noble.
You are subjected to the amorous advances of a noble. Do you accept?
You are offered title some valuable property, such as a mill, which will yield an income of 1d3 x 1d20 gp per month. However, accepting the title includes a demand of fealty to a local noble.
You are offered a business deal. If you wish, you may invest up to 100 gp. After 1d5 months, roll 1d12: (1-4) Your money is lost; (5-6) wait another 1d3 months to determine outcome; (7-9) you make a return of 200% of your original stake, rounded up; (10-11) you make a return of 250% of your original stake; or (12) you make a return of 500% of your original stake, rounded up.
Marriage is proposed.
You make a potential friend, who is a noble.
You are offered an alliance with a church, noble house, or other powerful group.
You gain a windfall of 1d100 gp.
33 or more
A monstrous being takes a n interest in you,

Unpleasant Encounters (1d20 or 1d30 – Luck modifier)
1 or less
Surprise! The Unpleasant Encounter turns into a Pleasant Encounter! Roll 1d20 + Luck modifier on the Pleasant Encounter table.
An unexpected shortfall finds you with 1d10 gp less than you expected.
Some small part of your adventuring gear is lost. The value of the item must be at least 1 gp, but the player chooses what is lost.
Bad food causes serious problems. The PC only heals half what is expected this week.
You make a foe, but one in a lowly position.
You are infested with fleas and/or other parasites. You begin the next session with 1d3 points of temporary Agility damage.
A hygiene failure results in a 1 die penalty to your reaction dice.
You are mistaken for a ruffian, and the hounds are set on you. Take 2d4 damage. Gain 1 Xp if you survive.
You have offended a commoner.
Duel! The opponent is average. Roll 1d4 under your level or suffer 1d6 damage. Alternatively, you can run and hide, losing prestige.
Contact with the plague. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d5 temporary Stamina damage. Once play begins, you suffer 1d3 points of additional temporary Stamina damage each day that you fail a DC 15 Fort save. Three consecutive saves cure you (but do not heal the Stamina damage).
Robbed! 1d5 x 10% of your coins and gems are stolen!
Duel! The opponent is inept. Roll 1d6 under your level or suffer 1d7 damage. Alternatively, you can run and hide, losing prestige. If you survive, gain 1 XP.
Robbed! All of your coins and gems are stolen!
You have offended a freeman or freewoman.
Duel! The opponent is skilled. Roll 1d12 under your level or suffer 2d7 damage. Alternatively, you can run and hide, losing prestige. If you choose the second option, you take a 1 die penalty to your reaction dice. If you fight and survive, gain 2 XP.
Beaten and robbed! All of your coins and gems are stolen! Make a Luck check for each major item you own, or it is stolen too. Finally, you start play with 1d6 damage from your experience.
Duel! The opponent is expert. Roll 1d16 under your level or suffer 3d8 damage. Alternatively, you can run and hide, losing prestige (a 2 die penalty to reaction dice). If you fight and survive, gain 4 XP and a 1 die bonus to your reaction dice.
You have offended a member of your own adventuring class.
You encountered a dangerous animal. Take 1d4 damage per level. If you live, you defeated the creature and gain 2 XP.
You have offended a fey creature, a ghost, or a household spirit. It works against you, causing a -1d penalty to any rolls you must make this downtime. Make a Luck check using 1d24. If you succeed, the creature becomes bored at the end of downtime and abandons you. Otherwise, it continues to play minor tricks on you (as determined by the judge) until somehow dealt with.
You are pilloried. Start the next session with 1d5 hp damage and 1 point of temporary Stamina damage. In addition, you suffer a 1 die penalty to your reaction dice.
A bounty is issued for your capture or death, with a value of 1d5 x 25 gp.
Local authorities issue a warrant for your arrest on a capital crime.
You offend a noble.
You are accused of sorcery. Make a DC 10 Personality check to win free. If you are a spellcaster, make this check with 1d16. Take a -1d penalty for every corruption you currently possess. If the check fails, the next session starts with you being about to be burned at the stake. Perhaps your friends – or your sorcery – can rescue you?
You offend a supernatural being. Lose 1 Luck.
You encounter a monster, or a dangerous animal. Take 1d6 damage per level. If you live, you defeated the creature and gain 4 XP.
You are cursed! Lose 1d3 Luck, and then make a Luck check. If the check fails, the curse may have other effects chosen by the judge.
30 or more
You are shanghaied or dragooned! For the next 1d20 weeks, you are unavailable for adventuring. On the other hand, this might be good for your physique! For each week, roll 1d16 for Strength and another 1d16 for Stamina; if the result is below your current score, increase your score by 1. As it turns out, the exercise is good for you.

Downtime Actions

A character can do one of the following during downtime:

Ameliorate: A character might do something to shift their effective Upkeep by 1 place. For instance, a cleric might request Divine Aid to treat her Squalid conditions as Poor, because she is a cleric of a god of filth, or because she is living as an ascetic hermit for this period. A thief might attempt forging documents, or picking pockets, to supplement money spent. Success requires a check of some kind, and the failure triggers an Unpleasant Encounter (1d16 – Luck modifier).

Check DC

Assist: A Lucky Halfling, a Plantient, or other character capable of spending Luck on another’s behalf may assist one other character with their downtime activity. A spellcaster may be able to assist with casting a ritual spell.

Carouse: A character can roll on the General Carousing Table or a Class-Specific Carousing Table using 1d30, or on another class’s Carousing Table using 1d20.

Craft: If a character has the materials and skill, they may wish to craft one or more items. Complex or expensive items may require more than one downtime period to craft. The judge may require a skill check, with failure destroying up to half of the materials.

Cast Spell: Some spells and rituals require a week (or more) to cast. These spells may be cast during downtime.

Heal: Unless this option is chosen, a character heals 1 hp and 1 point of ability damage per day of rest (for a total of 7 points of each). Heal doubles this rate of recovery.

Procure: A PC may wish to gain something rare and/or expensive, such as the herbs used to cast find familiar or plate armour. If this is not immediately available, a character can try to procure them during downtime. Pay the cost for the item, and then make a check. The DC (5 to 20) is set by the judge based upon how difficult the item is to obtain.

·         If the check fails: You only spent 10% of the cost (rounded up) to try to track down a proper armourer, a witch who can sell you a particular potion, etc. Sadly, you were unable to discover what you wanted.
·         If the check succeeds: You have either purchased the item, or you have spent 10% of the cost (rounded up) to determine where you can acquire the item, as determined by the judge. In the latter case, the seller might want something other than/more than money for the item. In some cases, you have just learned of an adventure site where the item can be gained through blood, sweat, and wits.

Proselytize:  Usually reserved for clerics, this is an attempt to convert people to the character’s religion. Non-clerics usually make this check using 1d10 + PRS modifier + ½ level (rounded up). Clerics roll 1d20 + PRS modifier + level.

If more than one cleric uses this downtime action:

·         Allied clerics allow one cleric to make the check, while the other assists. This effectively gives a +1d bonus to the rolling cleric. This bonus cannot exceed 1d30.
·         Opposed clerics each roll a check, but the difference between results is subtracted from the lower roll before determining outcomes.

For obvious reasons, a cleric cannot convert more NPCs than potential converts are available. Clerics of oppressed or secret cults may face serious repercussions for openly proselytizing; these clerics may avoid these penalties by rolling their check with a -1d shift on the dice chain. Finally, if converts come from an established religion, priests of that church may take action against the cleric.

Die Roll
Failure and worse – immediately roll an Unpleasant Encounter using 1d10 + Personality modifier + level.
Failure. Your preaching has no effect.
Minimal success. 1d3 commoners are converted to your religion.
Some success. 1d5 commoners are converted to your religion. Roll a Luck check; if successful 1d3 yeomen, freemen, shopkeeps, etc., are also converted.
Success! 1d6 commoners are drawn to the cause, as are 1d5 yeomen. Roll a Luck check; if successful, a noble (or similar) is also drawn to your religion. The cleric gains 1 point of Luck.
Success! 1d7 commoners are drawn to the cause, as are 1d6 yeomen. Roll a Luck check; if successful, 1d3 nobles (or similar) are also drawn to your religion. The cleric gains 1 point of Luck.
Success! 2d4 commoners, 2d3 yeomen, and 1d3 nobles are drawn to your religion. The cleric gains 1 point of Luck.
Great success! Minor miracles – healing, lost objects being found, the sorrowful being comforted – are associated with your preaching! You gain 3d4 commoners, 3d3 yeomen, and 2d3 nobles as converts. Further, the cleric gains 1d3 points of Luck.
Great success! As news of the miracles wrought by your preaching spread, you convert 4d6 commoners, 4d4 yeomen, and 3d4 nobles. Half of these converts are non-local, having been drawn by your fame. The local economy reaps the benefits, and social reactions shift by 1 die in your favour. The cleric gains 1d3 points of Luck.
Amazing success! Your god shines through you, performing some great miracle as a sign of divine prowess. 50% of the people within a 5 mile radius now profess to follow your religion, although some may simply be offering lip service. Roll 1d50 to determine the remaining percentage converted in the region (0 to 49%). Social reactions shift by 2 dice in your favour. The cleric gains 1d5 points of Luck.

Research: A wizard wants to discover where a desired spell might be found. A warrior seeks the weakness of a difficult enemy. A Halfling wishes to discover more about family genealogy. A thief wants to know where a great treasure was last seen.

The important variables are the Difficulty of the question, the Resources available, and Expenditures made. The Difficulty sets the DC of the check at the end of the downtime period. Resources determine what die is rolled for the check, with a natural 1 always resulting in failure. Expenditures may increase the die used, but only as indicated below. Note that a success may lead to another source of information, or to an adventure, rather than a direct answer.

Often, the required check is based on Intelligence. However, some attempts at research (such as seeking rumours) might rely on Personality, as determined by the judge.

Check DC
Almost Impossible to Answer

Die Used
Expenditures Possible
10 gp raises to d5, 50 gp raises to d6.
Thorp or Hamlet
10 gp raises to d8, 25 gp raises to d10, 50 gp raises to d12.
20 gp raises to d12, 50 gp raises to d14, 100 gp raises to d16.
Small Town
20 gp raises to d14, 50 gp raises to d16, 100 gp raises to d20.
Large Town
20 gp raises to d16, 50 gp raises to d20, 200 gp raises to d24.
20 gp raises to d20, 100 gp raises to d24.
Major City
50 gp raises to d24, 500 gp raises to d30.
Cosmic Nexus
Esoteric exchanges can raise to d30 or higher. These may take the form of service, souls, permanent spellburn, etc.

Schmooze: You wish to gain some local popularity with little risk. Pick a number of gp to spend. You have a percentile chance equal to that to shift your reaction dice by one (bonus).

Train: If you have found a suitable trainer, you may take this time to learn a new skill or occupation. This may take more than one downtime period, and skills may grow incrementally.

Working Holiday: You do whatever is normal for your class. During the downtime period, you make 1d10 gp per level.
Other: As determined by the player, and adjudicated by the judge.


Carousing offers a PC the chance to gain XP during downtime. It also provides a chance to gain (or lose) Luck…or even reroll Luck anew! Any character can choose to roll 1d20 + Luck modifier on the General Carousing table, or the Carousing table for their class. They can choose to roll 1d16 + Luck modifier to roll on the Carousing table of a different class. Regardless, the character must abide by the results of the roll. Specifics of the result may be determined by the player, so long as the judge concurs.