Friday, October 9, 2015

Southland: Cairns

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Cairns (The Lost Settlement)

[This would be a good place to put your favorite haunted village.]

Commonwealth colonists found their northern limit along the east coast the hard way.  Cairns was a major settlement attempt near the Cape York swamps as primarily an agricultural township.  It was fertile farmland, but far too close to Lizardmen territory, not to mention the Gillmen Kingdom offshore, and occasional marauding Humanoids coming around the mountains. 

The settlement was progressively weakened by attacks over several months until one horrific night raid.  In a nearly unprecedented alliance, three different Humanoid groups (Orcs, Lizardmen, and Gillmen) encircled the town and destroyed it to the last man.  A relief column arriving two days later could do little more than bury the dead. 

There was not enough potential wealth in the area to justify restarting the settlement, not that you were going to find any volunteers to do so anyway.  Reprisal raids would be carried out (the Orcs were tracked down and destroyed, the nearest swamp with a known Lizardmen settlement was ignited with Alchemist/Greek Fire, and the nearest known Gillmen city was hit with primitive depth charges).  The town site was abandoned, though not forgotten. 

Particularly, it wasn’t forgotten by the so-called “Necromancer.”  There are actually few haunted areas in the Southland, in spite of all the mass deaths of the Ancients.  A strange byproduct of the Catastrophe is that it absorbed nearly all of the souls on the continent, including those of the dead still “chained” to reality for whatever reason.  Cairns, as a site of a recent mass murder, would be an irresistible “laboratory” for a Necromancer.

After un-hallowing the site, hostile spirits rose to haunt the former town.  The Necromancer then brought up a legion of corporeal dead.  These undead are usually hidden and only come out if the living are trespassing nearby.  They are hostile to both humans and Humanoids.  The Necromancer has lairs across the continent, but this is his main lair.  The worst of it, there’s been plenty of other massacred colonial villages, outposts, mines, and caravans for him practice his craft.

Officially, Cairns is quarantined by the Colonial government.  While everyone is aware that the town is currently haunted, there are only rumors that the Necromancer is involved.  Unofficially, Cairns is under constant surveillance by the Rangers.  Adventurers have been well paid to make quick raids into the place, which is interesting, since there’s nothing worth looting left in the town.  They’ve also been paid to keep quiet about what they were sent for. 

The most common undead present are listed here.  The violence done in Cairns would naturally give rise to probably a few ghosts, but it was the Necromaner’s unhallowing of the grounds that has created so many undead here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Southland: Desert Denizens

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Desert Denizens

There are two other persistent denizens of the desert that bear explicit mentioning.

Sand Worm
HD 16 (d10), Hp 160, AC 19 (Natural)
Fort +17, Ref +8, Will +4
Melee: Bite +16 to hit and Stinger Tail +8 to hit 2d6+6 + Poison DC 12 Fort Sv or Incap. 1 hr
Swallow: On a Natural Bite hit, victim is pinned in mouth, DC 18 Str or Escape Artist check to escape.  Any hit will also cause the Worm to drop the victim.  Otherwise, swallowed next rd, 2d8+8 dam each rd.  A swallowed creature can cut its way out by using a light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 15 points of damage to the gizzard (AC 12).

These gigantic worms were not an Ancient creation.  Rather, the magical devastation of the Civil War, opened up accidental portals that allowed them in from another desert world.  They dwell beneath the surface.  Detecting slight vibrations from those traveling above, they rise and attack.  Normally, those above get plenty of warning from the shaking ground of the worm’s imminent arrival.  Water and rock seem to be the only surfaces they actively avoid.  Thankfully, these creatures confine themselves to only the sandiest areas to the west. 

Stalker (Feral Vampire)
HD 4, Hp 29, AC 15* (Magic or silver to hit)    
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +5
Melee: Claw +5 to hit 1d8 + Energy Drain DC 12 Will Sv or lose 1d4 Negative Hp.  A hit on a Natural hit, the Stalker has also grappled, DC 18 Str or Escape Artist check to break.  Next rd, victim is helpless, automatic hit (1d8) and possible Energy Drain.  Stalker is helpless while feeding and will usually disengage themselves if they can’t kill their held victim within two rds.
Stealth +5
Can crawl on walls and ceilings
Metaconcert: Can work together with a group mind
Minor Telepathy: DC 12 Will Sv from them to successful fool a victim with a voice, a distraction, or an illusion for 1 rd.

These animalistic-looking humanoid undead are from another world, also brought in via an accidental portal.  (They’ve also been encountered by an expedition to the Doomed Peaks ***link***, which is somewhere in within the Commonwealth homeland.  I guess.)  As per their name, packs stalk their prey in the desert for energy draining.  They do not exhibit more intelligence beyond feeding themselves, but they’re pretty clever at that.  They are capable of luring and fooling victims into traps, as they have some small telepathic sending ability.  Packs then tightly coordinate their attacks with feints and infiltration.

There are rumors that they operate out of a ruined city deep in the desert.  It has not been discovered as it exists in an area of tenuous reality.  They take captives, making them thralls, and imprisoning them there as a steady food supply in between hunts, even using them as decoys for traps.  These creatures seemed to be confined to the northern end of the desert.   

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Southland: Big Sandy

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Big Sandy (The Southland Deserts)

Seven Sisters Myth: The Sisters found no refugee across the battle-scarred landscape of their homeland.  They cursed this land to never bear inhabitants again. 

[I’m sure you’ve got or read some weird little adventure delves that you’re not sure what to do with.  Here’s where to put them.]

The deserts of the Southland were the sites of the many of the heaviest of magical battles in the Ancient Civil war, where cities were razed to component atoms.  They go by several names, but the locals tend to lump them together under the name, “Big Sandy”.  Not only has the environment been destroyed and reduced to near lifeless desert, reality itself has been warped.  The Humanoids instinctively avoid the worst areas.  So far, the humans haven’t been quite as bright, as explorers often wander off into the desert never to be seen again.   

As reality is tenuous in this desert, anything can happen.  There are ghosts, demons, spirits trapped in time loops, and transit zones to other times in Southland history (past and future).  Sandstorms are often prelude to weirdness and travelers can end up anywhere, encountering anything.  Just as suddenly, they can find themselves back right back where they started.

[For Ref’s who like environmental effects, this is for you.  Otherwise, just ignore this.]  For characters not acclimatized to the desert (at least a month), they must make a DC 12 Fort Sv each day they are active (traveling for example).  Failing that Save, they can still function, but all of their Bonuses and Skills go to 0.  A day’s rest will cure this condition.  Without that rest, DC 18 Fort Sv the next day.  Success means you’re still in the same condition.  Failing it, you’re incapacitated and must rest two days to fully recover.  Also, traveling in metal armor automatically zero’s out your Bonuses within an hour and forces the DC 18 incapacitation save.  So, just put your armor on right before expected combat.

Mad Maximilian and the Lost Caravan is one of the most famous Southland colonial legends.  Max was a famous retired Ranger who lead 200 colonists inland to a massive oasis he claimed to have found in the desert.  It’s not that they’ve entirely disappeared, it’s that 20 years later, people in the desert are still claiming to have encountered them.  Most of the tales say that Max, un-aged, is still trying to lead his people to the Promised Land.  Sometimes, the teller of the story had dinner with them and stayed the night, only to wake up alone.  Others say, the caravan has turned into cannibalistic monsters and teller only barely escaped them.  There are any number of variations on the story.  It has been said that those lost in the desert can call for Mad Max, and he’ll appear and lead them to safety.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Southland: The Olgas

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

The Olgas (Ancient-Kata Tjuta, also The Giants’ Playground)

Seven Sisters Myth: The Sisters sought the wisdom of the earth for help in their escape.  They blessed the rocks here with life for their assistance.

Ancient records call this “The Place of Many Heads.”  It is not immediately obvious to the casual observer, but the 30 large red stones here are sentient.  They radiate strong magic.  They may be conduits to entities in the Astral Plane or other distant places.  Perhaps they are giant memory stores for the Ancients.  Perhaps they are large stone beings.  They could be all of that and even more exotic possibilities. 

With the proper Calling ceremony, these rocks can be awakened and consulted.  (DC 12 or 18 Will Sv for the Calling character to awaken a Rock and have them acknowledge them.)  They understand any language and seem to have knowledge on any given subject.  Whether they want to say anything worthwhile to the petitioner, is up to them.  These divinations are a whimsical crap-shot, though if one rock is being obtuse, perhaps another will be more useful.  Regardless, they will always speak the truth, of a sort.  The main problem isn’t the rocks’ personalities though.    

This potentially valuable resource is not well visited.  The Giant clan inhabiting this place were put there as guardians by the Wizard-Kings.  These are completely unnatural creatures.  Essentially they are giant golems, artificial men.  They require no substance and are not flesh-eaters, but they are fiercely territorial about defending Kata Tjuta.  They do sleep, but are very light sleepers, with excellent hearing, sight, and sense of smell.  Thankfully, there are only a handful of them, and they aren’t disciplined or smart in their patrols (though they will mass to engage a dangerous threat and call for reinforcements).  Their range seems to be limited to the only the rocks area, likely needing the strong ambient magic there to animate. 

The Humanoids generally give this place a wide berth, as there is no native food supply there, and the Giants are dangerous, hard to kill, and inedible.  (It’s so frustrating because there’s so much meat on them.)  However, it is another mystical spot for the Humanoids.  Small, brave, stealthy groups will make trips there to “talk to the rocks,” for insight.     

HD 12+48, Hp 102, AC 20 (hide armor)
Fort +12, Ref +3, Will +4
Melee: Greatclub +16 to hit 2d8+10, Reach 10’
Grab: +15 to hit, DC 18 Str or Escape Artist or held

Ranged: Large Rock +8 to hit 2d6+7, L

Monday, October 5, 2015

Southland: Ayers Rock Spirits and Undead

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Ayers Rock Spirits and Undead

Ayers Rock is also one of the very few places on the continent that could be considered haunted.  Most of the haunting spirits in the land were absorbed by the soul-draining Catastrophe.  The mystical nature of the giant rock protected the spirits chained here.  The majority of these spirits are human, but many seem to be of otherworldly and extra-dimensional origin, as Ayers Rock is a communications conduit to far away places.  There are human spirits there that aren’t even all from the time of the Ancients, but from the far past and future. 

What these diverse spirits have in common is that, however they got there, they are trapped there.  From that point though, motivations diverge.  Some are perfectly content, while others are screaming to be released.  In short, these aren’t all mindless, energy-sucking creatures, some will be happy to talk or do deals. 

HD 4 (d12), Hp 26, AC 15* (Natural, Magic or Silver to hit)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +5
Melee: Slam +3 to hit 1d4+1 + Energy Drain DC 12 Will Sv or 1d4 Negative Hp

The Avenue of Kings is a long hallway with a series of tombs of the various Ancient kings and nobles.  It’s difficult to say how many tombs are present, as this structure extends into the Astral Plane.  Many are in mass mausoleums, with a few important ones given their own chambers.  These tombs are richly appointed in precious metals, valuable artifacts, and even magic items.  Almost all of the tombs are un-plundered.  This is because all of the tombs are inhabited by Barrow Wights jealously guarding their hoards, ALL OF THEM.  And there are bodies of looters lying around the tombs to prove it.  There are more powerful undead beings and even various immortal guardian creatures in some of the more ornate tombs.  However, no tombs of the Wizard-Kings themselves has been found or reported.

HD 5 (d12), Hp 32, AC 13* (Natural, Magic to hit)     
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +6
Melee: Incorporeal Touch +6 to hit 1d4 + Energy Drain DC 12 Will Sv or lose 1d4 Negative Hp

Flashing supernatural energy force.  Possibly non-human.

HD 7 (d12), Hp 45, AC 15* (Natural, Magic to hit)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +7
Melee: Incorporeal Touch +6 to hit 1d8 + Energy Drain DC 18 Will Sv or lose 1d4 Negative Hp
Stealth +10 in dark conditions
Vulnerable: Strong light, stuns 1 rd

Human-like, translucent spirit.

HD 3 (d12), Hp 19, AC 13* (Natural, Magic to hit)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +4
Melee: Cold Touch +3 to hit Stun 1 rd + Energy Drain DC 18 Fort Sv (different type of Save) or lose 1d4 Negative Hp
Stealth +10 in dark rooms
Vulnerable: Strong light, disperse for 1 rd

Supernatural shadow spirit.  Possibly non-human. 

Wraiths, Spectres, and Shadows are all spirit forms that are not attached to a physical body.  They are essentially all the same thing, but with some differing characteristics.  Not all of these spirits are human, and they are not all necessarily malevolent.  Most are minor spirits who were communed with in a Dreamtime ceremony.  They were not powerful enough to escape the Rock’s magic after being summoned and became trapped.  Some though, actually came and stayed willingly.  They’re probably on the run or in exile from their true home.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Southland: Trolls

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Trolls were the last of the Wizard-Kings’ Humanoid creations.  Big, relentless, effectively immortal, and easily controlled, they were their masterpiece of combat infantry.  They couldn’t allow them to reproduce and did give them the Achilles Heel of fire and magic vulnerability, just in case.  The Wizard-Kings didn’t make many of them before the end, due to their high magic cost of production.  Trolls are carnivorous and never actually subsisted on Vegemite, unlike other Humanoids.  If their food supply runs out, they simply go dormant until they smell food.       

There are a few of these creatures wandering around the Outback and some are hidden and dormant.  Other Humanoids will make an effort to avoid Trolls, since they’re very hard to kill and their flesh can’t be eaten.  Ayers Rock is the only place where there is a concentration of them.  They were probably set there as guardians of the site by the Wizard-Kings.  In spite of all of the Humanoid traffic making pilgrimages to the rock, the Trolls effectively own it.  They seem to have an innate understanding of the mystical landscape that allows them to raid and escape easily.  No one has found any Troll lair there.  No one knows how many there are there.  The Humanoids have just had to acknowledge them as an inherent hazard of the journey. 

HD 6d8+36, Hp 63, AC 16 (Natural)
Fort +11, Ref +4, Will +3
Melee: 2 x Claws +9 to hit 1d6+6
If both Claws hit the same opponent in 1 rd add Bite 1d6+3

Regeneration: 3 hp/rd from up to –10 hp, only fire (which they will run from), acid, and magic damage is permanent (does not regenerate or heal).
Die Hard: May act normally up to –10 hp, however Trolls will not regenerate at 0 or less hp unless they rest for 1 turn.  (So they may be playing dead at 0 hp.)
Track +5

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Southland: Ayers Rock

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Monster Territories Index

Ayers Rock (Ancient-Uluru, also “The Rock”)

Seven Sisters Myth: The Sisters came here to seek the wisdom of the spirits in their escape.  After distracting the mad cannibals guarding the grounds with easier prey, the Sisters performed the Dreamtime ceremony and spoke to the spirits.  For their help, the Sisters raised a giant mound in memorial to them.

The Bell Bird Brothers Myth: (Most Ancient sites have more than one myth attached to them.  This is one of the more famous, non-Sisters myth.)  The Bell Bird Brothers were once hunting a trophy animal near Uluru, who disappeared into the rock.  The Brothers performed the Dreamtime ceremony and followed him inside.  They found a long corridor of tombs and their animal killed by a blue-tongued creature.  With their magic, they set fire to its tomb, grabbed their prey, and escaped.

This is no ordinary big rock.  Physically, it’s a massive sandstone structure, six miles in circumference and 1100 ft tall.  Metaphysically, it’s a giant magical tomb and a conduit to other worlds, dimensions, and times.  However, unless one knows the “Dreamtime” ceremony, it’s just a big rock.  The tomb’s main defense against looters is that it exists in the Astral Plane, the Dream Lands.  [The characters might already have some familiarity with the Astral Plane and its inhabitants if they survived The Endless Night in Azimuth House ****link****.] Of course, that’s in addition to a multitude of Trolls that hunt around the rock.  Also, the various Humanoid tribes have attached a mystical significance to this place and frequent it.  And, there are a large number of dangerous undead and spirits in the tombs themselves.

The Ancients regarded this as place as a religious artifact.  It was where they received their advanced magical knowledge.  Supplicants would enter the mystical caves, which are covered in painted magical symbols.  Via a fasting induced trance and various narcotics, they entered into a state they called “Dreamtime.”  Their spirits would enter the Astral Plane.  From there they could commune with supernatural entities and gain their knowledge.

There are various high-level Wizard spells which can be used to enter the Dreamtime.  There are Ancient magical ceremonies which can be used by anyone, but they are hard to come by and very hard to enact for non-magic-users (you may need to acquire the services of an Ancient scholar at the University perhaps).  There are caves in the rock which function as portals into the Dreamtime with certain celestial alignments, though no one has catalogued more than a couple of them.  The Humanoids seem to be well acquainted with them.  Finally, there are spirits living in the caves who might be persuaded to “open the door” for others, for favors. 

There are also various points of departure once inside the Rock, depending upon where you entered.  There are two known caves which are entries into the so-called “Avenue of Kings,” a massive series of burial chambers.  [And here’s a good place to drop in your favorite tomb dungeon.]  Other caves go to other places, including other planets, dimensions, and even different times, though there always seems to be a time-limit on travelers before they are drawn back to their entry cave (as though they’d never actually left the cave).  Of course, there are also caves and pits in the Rock that are just simply haunted, though beings there may have extensive knowledge of the environment.