Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 111

Previously...
Welcome back to Wermspittle...there's frost on the windows and Franzikaner Soldiers braking down the door...

"Where's Hedrard? she was supposed to be with you..."

Then Shael spotted the cocoon surrounded by the whispering, jostling, restless band of Morons. She began to cry. This was not what she had expected...

The door Sprague had just left though exploded in a slow-motion cloud of green smoke and wood splinters that spun and swirled through the air like lazy snow-flakes. The herd of Morons screamed, howled and knocked over furniture as they panicked.

"Scheiss!" Old Man Putney swore as he staggered into a side room and slammed the door.

Four infantrymen in Franzikaner uniforms rushed into the apartment wielding unfamiliar-looking fire-arms; long rifles with strange cylinders and flattened canteen-like things attached to them by hoses, nozzles and tubes. They wore strange battery-harnesses that were linked to the guns by heavy cables coated in gutta percha. Acrid gray blue smoke and tiny sparks spumed irregularly from a sort of venting apparatus strapped to the frames of their field-packs. Whatever they were, however they operated, the weapons were at least partly electrical in nature.

Leeja simply ducked behind the woodwork arch that separated the sitting room from the vestibule. She drew out her stiletto and began to weave her particular version of a Web spell into readiness.

Bujilli went over all the phrases he knew in Franzik and tried to come up with something suitably intimidating or questionable that might take these soldiers off-guard. Sometimes a good bluff can work wonders. But he wasn't quite sure what to say. His grasp of the language was not exactly fluent. He did not want to botch things. It would be all too easy to get it wrong, to say something stupid or nonsensical.

He was intensely curious about their weapons, but not particularly interested in seeing them put to use against him. He began to prepare himself for casting Gestural Globs even as he slid out his hand-axe. Just in case.

Before he could speak Headmistress Shael glared at the intruders and demanded; "What is the meaning of this?"

Two of the infantry-men took up positions on either side of the door while a third began to investigate the rooms. The fourth one, an officer by his heavy gold braids, overly-polished buttons and ornate helmet, strode past the destroyed door and surveyed the place with a haughtiness that would rival a Pruztian's disdain for the lesser folk. He ignored Shael and unstrapped his breathing mask. He had the solid black eyes and deep ebony features of one who had Tsalalian ancestors, only livid purplish tissue pulsed and writhed across his left-side; Mucoid tissue that had been crudely grafted into place.

All four of them bore the insignia of the Imperial Third Tripod Tactical Triplicity. It was the badge used by a unit of deserters from the Red Army that had entered Wermspittle several Winters ago and set themselves up as bandits who lorded it over a small section of the Burned Over Districts. They were said to have two mostly-working Tripods.* Hedrard had told Bujilli about these notorious mercenaries in response to his telling her about his more recent adventures prior to coming to rescue her, and Lemuel, from the Gormenstille.

The officer folded-up the straps and closed the flaps on his breathing mask then replaced it into its belt-mounted carrying case with the crisp punctilliousness of too much practice.

AAAAARRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! Thud.

Six Morons scrambled to get away from the door Old Man Putney had disappeared behind  as it slammed shut again. Blood began to puddle outwards from under the door. There was no sign of the soldier sent to reconnoiter the apartment.

The Officer raised one eyebrow askance then gestured abruptly, crisply, and one of the other two soldiers stomped over to the door, their triple-cleated boots tearing the old carpets into shreds with each step.

She slung her rifle-weapon and drew out a wickedly serrated short sword.

The door burst open and a fat gray-black rat flew into the soldier's still-masked face.

Old Man Putney never went anywhere without a few of his friends along just in case.

He lobbed another rat at the Officer.

BANG!

A triple-barrelled trench-gonne was in the Officer's good left-hand. The rat was spattered across the ceiling, a mess of shredded meat and still-twitching paws.

"Ooooh you bastard. Shouldn't ought to have done that!" Old Man Putney jabbed his own short sword into the guts of the soldier struggling with the rat scrambling across his face and shoulders.

The rat ripped free one of the straps and began to gnaw the soldier's face. He screamed, as best he could, with blood gushing from his mouth and crumpled to the floor.

Leeja began to move but one stern look of disapproval from the Old Man held her in place. For now.

Bujilli moved over to Shael. It got him out of the way of ant more rats getting lobbed by the Old Man and gave him a chance to possibly out-flank the Officer.

All around the apartment, the Morons that had followed Bujilli and his friends through the Synchronocitor's vortex busied themselves trying to position themselves behind any available cover. All the while the four priestess-attendants and six honor-guard warriors stood stock still as they formed a human barrier in defense of Hedrard's red cocoon. The priestesses made furtive gestures and the warriors stoically allowed their fingers to extend into sharp, black owlish-talons.

Shael struggled to sit upright. It hurt her terribly. Tiny trickles of blood dribbled from dozens of spots where her spell-twisted flesh gave way to glass. Her left hand might be immobilized, but her right one still worked fine and she used it to call forth a golden trapezoid wreathed in violet flames: "Tell your remaining soldier to stand down and I'll let you live long enough to explain yourself."

The Officer stared at her with his emotionless solid black eyes. A slight nod and he re-holstered his trench-pistol and gestured to his subordinate to stand down. For now.

"I did not promise any such thing." Grumbled Old Man Putney who kicked the dead soldier's body out of his way. Two more very large rats had joined their fellow to dine on the corpse. One of them reared up on its hind-legs and made a rude gesture with its fore-paws before nuzzling back into the gore next to its kin.

"Mercenaries don't invade senior faculty member's rooms in the Academy without good reason--I want to know who sent you and what you were paid to accomplish. Now!"

"The subject of our seizure is not present. I presume he has indeed fled the premises after all. You have dispatched two of my men and I do not flatter myself that you would have much trouble eliminating myself and this one with equal ease. There's no profit in following such a course of action. Our patron wanted us to secure and convey a harmless academic to them at haste, hence our forced entry...though now I doubt that any attempted subterfuge on our part would have worked any better."

"No. It would not." Shael shuddered from the pain of holding herself up. Bujilli replaced his hand-axe and adjusted her cushions to better support her head and shoulders. She gave him a brief look of appreciation, unable to nod her head, just talking caused her a great deal of discomfort.

"So. Our mission is scuttled. Are we to be held as your prisoners?" Already the Officer was calculating reasonable ransom amounts, possible exchanges, options he could put forward in the negotiations he expected to facilitate according to established protocol.

"I have no interest in prisoners." Shael gestured disdainfully. The golden trapezoid flew through the Officer's torso wrecking havoc much like a cannon ball might, then it killed the other soldier before flaring into a small violet star that simply winked out and was gone.

"Damn it woman--how do you expect us to find out who hired these bastards?" Old Man Putney growled.

"They were after Gnosiomandus and did not know for sure whether he had already left the city or not. Whomever hired them did so as disposable cats-paws. I disposed of them. We don't need the distraction."

"Cold blooded much?" The Old Man shook his head and took a bite of something like reddish tobacco. He seemed to be grinning.

"First Frost has come early and hard upon the Low Streets. My husband has turned out to be a dark reflection of the man I thought I had married...a man who now detests me and distrusts me. I've been cursed by the Privy Council and sentenced to a slow death for having had the temerity to try and change things, and not having had the power to back it up adequately. I've been abandoned, not just by the monster I married; more than half the Senior Faculty are missing, disappeared or indisposed and the Academy stands in danger of being broken once and for all as our enemies are making their moves. If anything I'm not nearly cold-blooded enough." Shael closed her eyes. A single tear of blood ran down her cheek.

The morons began to whimper and sob softly in response to Shael's distress.

"We leave now." All four priestess-attendants spoke in unison...in Hedrard's voice.

"Yes. Of course." Shael waved her right hand in farewell.

"Bring her to us in three nights. We'll do what can be done." The priestess-attendants spoke directly to Bujilli.

He nodded in agreement.

The warriors took up positions in front and behind the priestesses and a few hangers-on who helped them to carry the red cocoon. They left.

"It's a fine mess. Indeed. Ah well; such things make for excellent opportunities for folks like myself. Whatever happens, my friends will certainly dine well in the days and nights ahead. not many can say such a thing with Winter coming on like it is..." Old Man Putney clomped over in front of Bujilli and proffered his grimy, questionably-soiled hand.

Bujilli shook the aged scavenger-scholar's hand.

"If you want to talk some time, just let one of my friends know. They'll pass on the word and we'll see what we can work out. In the meantime, I intend to go on living."

"As you always do." Shael tried to smile. Winced from the pain.

"As I always do. Despite all the other bastards." The Old Man left. The rats scampered after him, causing the few remaining morons scattered about the rooms to cry out in disgust and alarm as one after another of the large dark rats ran after their friend. The soldier in front of the bedroom door was mostly bones and chewed-up gear. the one that had gotten snatched lie on the bedroom floor, also mostly bones. The rats had not bothered with the Officer or the third soldier by the ruined door. They were not greedy. They trusted their friend to provide. He always did.

"We can't stay here." Leeja held on to her stiletto as she came over to her Aunt.

"No. We can't. But I have been informed that you two have a friend who might be able to offer us shelter...if you're willing to lend me your assistance. They've revoked my standing, abolished my office and removed my authority as Headmistress...even as they've done this to me." Shael removed the tattered quilt from her left side, exposing the hand that was more milky-opaque glass than flesh any more.

"But--"

"We can discuss the 'why' of it all later. You've been marked by powerful forces..." Bujilli considered the situation. He knew all too well what it felt like to be at the mercy of circumstance and the whims of people who did not care about him. He always swore he would not grow up to be like that. Now he had to ask himself if that was still the case.

"I understand if you don't wish to help me now..."

"No. It is not whether or not we want to help you--it's really up to our friend--if you're referring to whom I think you might be." Leeja sensed some of his inner turmoil, having gone through somewhat similar experiences growing up in Aman Utal. Shael was her Aunt after all...

He looked into Leeja's green-gold eyes and they both laughed; "Idvard."

"We do have a standing invitation to visit him**." Leeja mused.

"But do we want to return to Idvard's Keep?"



What should Bujilli & Leeja do next?

You Decide!


* Actually only one mostly-working Tripod after the events of Episode 98 when Bujilli wrecked the other one.
**As of Episode 49.


What to do, what to do?

Bujilli and Leeja need to decide if they are indeed going to help Ex-headmistress Shael get to Idvard's Keep, or try something else. They might try to follow Old Man Putney or they could try to follow Hedrard's entourage. Or maybe they would prefer to stay put to see which of Gnosiomandus' various enemies or rivals show up next.

Whatever happens, we'll need a few D20 rolls to handle any combat or encounters that might take place. A couple of d6's for checking on possible Wandering Monsters would also be appreciated.

So should they head off to Idvard's Keep or go somewhere else? They could take her to Bujilli's room to wait things out a bit, but there's no point in waiting for classes to begin. From the sound of things, there might not be any classes and possibly no more Academy in the near future, unless they do something. Of course helping Shael out now will certainly draw the wrath of those who have marked her for a slow death...though maybe Hedrard might do something about that in three night's time...

So what will it be?

What do they do next?

You Decide!

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Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dust Collector by Emilie & A New Blog Begins

Dust Collector by Emmy

We recently received a wonderful note from one of our readers who have not only introduced the insidious white powder into their home game, they've adopted one of our stranger monsters as a recurring villain. We both really love this new interpretation of a creature we thought was all but forgotten. Maybe we can collaborate with them on a few other monsters and things...

I've been using your Dust Collector for a few months in my D&D game as a kind of amoral, exterior figure to the sorcerous politics my players are immersed in. I did a drawing of one and I thought I might as well send it along to you.

The party have been caught up in a plot to use the white powder to assassinate their master's rival which has gone Very Badly and now she's synthesising it and dealing it to their community. The Dust Collector seems to have an interest in the stuff so they keep running into it. This one wears a veil over its vestigial head organ, I wish you could have seen the party's reaction when it pulled the veil back and rattled its 'head' at them like a snake.

Regards,
Emilie

You can find a larger version of Emilie's Dust Collector at the newly inaugurated Sarcophagi of the Ash People blog. We're looking forward to more session recaps from Shailanu and A Billion Stars Underground!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Golden Ticket



Spring has passed and Summer is gone, the cold rains of Autumn have returned and Winter is not far behind. Already the Ometto and L'Omino, twisted little dwarfs with comical faces, criss-cross the countryside in their gaily-painted little coaches. They always know where a Golden Ticket might have been found. Perhaps their tiny capuchin companions whisper each such location to them as they careen and dash from isolated hamlet to nearly-deserted village through the desolate wilderness surrounding Wermspittle. Many believe this to be the case, though some few claim it has something to do with the bats instead, that the little people have some sort of treaty with the bats who flutter through the might skies bearing the infamous tickets in their little rodent-feet.

Wherever a Golden Ticket is found, the coachmen are not long absent. They offer each child Hard Candy, Turkish Delight, mugs of warm nutmeg-laced Korova Milk (liberally spiked with bandy), and other treats with which to tempt and to trick their intended passengers into coming along with them to visit the Land of Toys. It is a fabulous place, a wondrous space, where all manner of toys are to be had, and all the lucky children chosen to come there always have plenty to eat and never have to do chores ever again. All they need to do is leave behind their familiar beds and ride along in the little coaches and everything will be taken care of forever after.

Once long ago, before the bombs and the wars and the plagues, or so the old ones claim, there really was a Land of Toys and it truly was a fantastic, phantasmagoric place filled with toys and candies and all good things...but those days are gone now and the Ometto who were raised to serve the old factory-owners, those funny little people who were grown within urns and deliberately shaped in such curious ways now serve less-agreeable masters who are best not named.

Some children who receive a Golden Ticket run away before the little coachmen come for them. Those with families and kin to defend them might refuse the summons of the child-takers. But those who are alone in the world, who have been left behind by parents who have succumbed to the plagues or whose families have been driven off by roving bands of mercenaries and brigands (nearly all the same thing really), those poor lost ones who cry themselves to sleep with no supper, who shiver in the cold, in the dark...they can't help but to wonder if such a thing might be real...if perhaps there was a better place waiting for them if they only dared to use their Golden Ticket...



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 110

Previously...
They had come here to rescue Hedrard and Lemuel. One had run off and was wandering through the lower-levels of the Gormenstille, the other was wrapped-up in a vegetative cocoon recovering from the effects of the Mucoid's heat rays. It had not gone quite as he had hoped. But they had managed to reach a place very close to the roof-tops and in a couple of hours Bujilli could attempt to use the Synchronocitor to take them back to Wermspittle. In the meantime, the band of Morons were celebrating and dancing wildly around Hedrard's cocoon working themselves into an ecstatic frenzy...

Bujilli went to the nearest of the eight evenly-spaced massive internal buttresses along the sloping walls of the chamber. There was a modest access panel at the base. The covering came off easily to reveal a yellow metal grating which swung open at the touch of his fingers. There was a corkscrew-style ramp leading upward. To the roof.

He checked the Synchronocitor. They had a couple of hours to go before he could try to use it again. The marching morons had led them to a place where they could access the roof-top levels of the Gormenstille. If there was a chance of escape, this was it. He hoped. He considered exploring the yellow-metal ramp that corkscrewed up to the roof. He didn't trust the morons to scout ahead. He wasn't even sure if they understood anything he said. They just nodded, smiled and went on with whatever they were doing. It was Hedrard whom they listened to, whom they served. And she was trapped inside a cocoon, healing, changing...transforming in ways he didn't understand.

Ever since they had freed the hag, she seemed to have come to a decision of sorts. She had mentioned something about no longer having to observe previous restrictions or something like that. whomever had abducted her and tried to sacrifice her and Lemuel to the Purple Clouds had made a big mistake. Or maybe they had not taken into account that Bujilli and Leeja would come here to rescue their friends. Rescue. Ha. They had liberated three other victims chained to the old stones alongside their friends. One, a Nullgarian cavalry officer, was taken by the walls and lost to them early on. The roof-runner had tried to help out, but in the end they were too damaged to really ever be free again...and the Ignoble was so deeply twisted by having grown-up in this place that they could not cope with the thought of leaving. Both had run off into the darkness. So had Lemuel. But in Lemuel's case, he had charged towards a swarm of Varn-spiders to give the others a chance to escape...but then something strange had happened and Lemuel lost all interest in leaving. He was on his way down into the deep places of the Gormenstille and he was happy. Truly happy. Bujilli could feel the boy's hearty elation through their link. Lemuel had no interest in returning with them at this time. Maybe someday. But not now. He had found out things about himself...things he could not explain, thing that Bujilli could only sort of feel in a vague stream of jumbled impressions...mostly good things...he hoped. It was an adventure. It was his very own adventure. Bujilli would not interfere. He wished the boy good hunting and let the link fade into the background so it would not be a distraction. To either of them.

Leeja stood next to the access-panel, keeping watch over Bujilli. He was smiling for the first time in what felt like ages.

He still wasn't entirely sure that the Synchronocitor would work up here, but he would do the best he could. Perhaps Counsel could help him learn how to use the strange device. Maybe. But they had hours left before he could make the attempt and Leeja was smiling at him.

They joined in the festivities. It was good to laugh again. There would be time enough for tears when they got back to Wermspittle.

If they went back...

They lost themselves to the dancing, the drinking, the increasingly wild carrying on--the Morons danced themselves into a frenzy as they spiraled around the red cocoon of the hag. The liquor wan't as good as gapf, but only the Almas knew how to brew that stuff.

Bujilli tripped over a couple locked in a deeply intimate embrace. Leeja tugged him back to his feet and they danced along with the mob until they found themselves close to the outer-edge again. She led him away from the folicsome host with a troubled look on her face.

"What are we doing?" she hissed.

"I..." The question, her vehemence, shocked him sober. "Scheiss. We've allowed ourselves to get sucked into the midst of all this..."

"But to what end? I have a bad feeling about this..." She came from a place were paranoia was institutionalized, regulated by mandates and laws, her childhood, what he knew of it, was a constant challenge to the prevailing laws and mores...Leeja had been as much an outsider as he had been growing up, possibly even more so. Yet here they were fitting right in with the Morons and their festivities...their celebration...their ritual.

"This is all Hedrard's doing. It must be..." But why? He was stymied. Ever since releasing her from her chains and thwarting the plans of the Purple Horde, Hedrard had acted strangely. Different.

"Whatever her plans are, she has not felt like confiding in either of us--"

The dancing exploded into a riot of violence and screaming. A loud buzzing vibrated through the wailing, the yelling and the babbling. Then Bujilli saw them. Giant Blue-Speckled Hornets. At least six of the things had descended upon the revelers and were proceeding to skewer one after another with their wicked stings. One had three Morons impaled, one after the other, and was struggling to extricate itself. Bujilli had his hand-axe out and charged the burdened hornet.

His first blow cracked one of the thing's hind-legs and it ceased trying to shake-off the still struggling bodies of its victims. It turned away from the source of pain and faced Bujilli. He used Julidi's Darts, sending a stream of sizzling silver missiles through the hornets over-large eyes, exploding its head.

The hornet's now headless body bucked and thrashed insanely. Two of the morons slid free of the sting but the third remained transfixed. He had to hack open the thing's thorax, revealing its heart and spattering sticky fluids everywhere before the massive insect fell to the floor dead.

Bang! Leeja used her hand-gonne to blast a hole through the thorax of another hornet. It skittered along the floor and crashed into one of the buttresses where it buzzed and kicked, but could not rise again.

Bujilli rushed the nearest hornet. A lucky strike snapped off a two-foot section of sting. A gout of mucousy-yellow venom gushed from the ruined stump. He leapt for its back, but misjudged the rapid blur of the thing's wings and was knocked backwards. The impact dazed him. He staggered, dropped to one knee and another hornet's sting slammed through the space where he had been standing only a second before.

Leeja was swearing in Dendo. Her crystal stiletto had gotten stuck in the joint of a hornet's leg when she had been aiming to hit it's mid-section, hoping to sever the abdominal mass from the thorax. A quick flip of the hand-gonne provided her with a sturdy club to pummel the thing back and away from her.

All around them the Morons rushed madly to and fro, some still danced heedless of the turmoil, the band played on, and a few busied themselves dissecting the wounded hornets for possible use in making new ornaments.

Bujilli caught another hornet in the eye with his hand-axe. It jerked upwards  suddenly, lurching him off his feet and carrying him upward toward the peaked ceiling as he dangled from his weapon stuck in the creature's eye-socket.

Leeja barked out three sharp words and a glimmering white mesh of translucent tendrils flashed into the air trapping three hornets. Their rapidly vibrating wings quickly tangling the Web spell around their bodies and limbs. She retrieved her stiletto and proceeded to remove the thing's limbs and to sever their heads where she could get at them.

A small crowd of Morons started cheering and prancing about waving the pieces and parts of the hornets even as one of their number was impaled on another hornet's wicked sting.

One of the smaller children shrieked and pointed at the impaled member of their herd and as one they swarmed over the insect and tore it to pieces.

Bujilli wrenched his hand-axe free only to over-compensate and loose his grip on the hornet. He fell backwards, striking another hornet that broke his fall, then sprawled onto the floor. He slid into the pool of venom and only barely managed to roll over to avoid the worst of it.

He was flat on his back with venom gooped across his left-side. Then a hornet landed atop him. It seemed to stare into is eyes with an implacable insectoid malevolence. His hand-axe was gone. He reacted instinctively and cast Light as far inside the hornet's eyes as he could force the spell.

The hornet shot away from him, hitting the nearest buttress with a loud crack. It slumped to the floor, it's head a glowing mess of brains and broken chitin.

Then is was over.

All the hornets were either dead, dismembered or struggling through their death-throes.

Bujilli sat up. Slowly. He was sore where he had struck the floor from his fall, but nothing was broken.

Leeja gave him back his hand-axe.

He got to his feet.

The morons were busily making fresh new ornaments from the carcasses and body-parts of the hornets. A few were arranging the dead into sensitive tableaus.

"You're covered in venom. you know that, right?"

"I know. It isn't a problem. not unless I get cut. Their venom works on the blood, it doesn't seem to have much effect if it's only on the skin. At least the green-striped hornets I grew up with worked that way. I knew a crazy old Almas who collected their venom, but from smaller specimens, and lathered himself in it before going out to hunt Yeren, If the things grabbed him, there were scores of small hooks and blades all woven into his matted hair and he'd wriggle and twist and do everything he could to draw blood from them. We all thought he was crazy. Maybe he was. But he managed to kill over a dozen Yeren that way. Before one caved-in his head with a rock."

"Still it might be a good idea..."

Several young Morons came over and began to wipe away the venom from Bujilli's hair and clothes. They carried on a chattering pseudo-conversation with each other as they went about cleaning him off but never acknowledged him beyond serving as the target of their cleaning efforts. One of them splashed wine over the worst globs of venom, another scraped it away with the backside of an ornate hair-comb.

"Is it time yet?" Leeja seemed impatient with the impromptu ablutions and grooming.

"We can try." He extricated himself from the crowd of morons busily cleaning the venom form his hair. Several of them had begun braids. One was trying to work beads into his whiskers. He closed his eyes and felt the Synchronocitor near at hand. It shimmered into place, into solidity once again.

The Morons backed away in superstitious awe at the sudden appearance of the device.

"Come on." He led Leeja back to the access panel they had opened before and headed up the corkscrew ramp toward the roof. One by one, then by couples, then in small groups the Morons followed after them; a dedicated contingent carried Hedrard's cocoon. They left the mutilated hornet carcasses behind.

Bujilli felt the Synchronocitor adjust to its surroundings, and to him. It was not a sentient thing, not in the same sense as he or Leeja were sentient. It was filled with memories and information accumulated over centuries, but it was not capable of making decisions on its own. It needed to be wielded like a sword or a key.

The ramp ended beneath a blister-dome of hexagonally-bound glass at the top of a tall, tall tower. It was night, with roiling gray clouds obscuring most of the sky and threatening rain.

He walked along the edge of the dome looking out upon the world of New Chillon and letting the Synchronocitor adjust to the current situation. Leeja strode along beside him. He knew that no matter where he went, she would follow. It was a good feeling.

He turned back to the ramp exit. Dozens of Morons stood looking around them, mouths agape and gesticulating extravagantly as they observed all the trivial details of the dome and the vista beyond.

"What do we do about them?" Leeja said before he could.

"I'm not sure..." He wasn't keen on bringing a herd of Morons back into Wermspittle. It wouldn't be doing anyone any real favors.

Thigh-bone trumpets sounded and tambourines rattled as a procession entered the room. Hedrard's honor guard and the four priestess-attendants brought the cocoon up the ramp, surrounded by prancing and jostling Morons waving banners, juggling random objects, riding unicycles and playing their various musical instruments.

It appeared that they were not going to be given a choice in the matter.

Bujilli shook his head--he had no idea what Hedrard had in mind, but he wasn't going to block her. Not in this. He trusted her. For now.

He held out the Synchronocitor and felt his Counsel flow into the thing, linking with it, giving him access to it far more fully and cleanly than previously. He was getting better at this sort of thing.

A lambent purple glow flickered outward from the staff-like Synchronocitor. The weird-light spread out to fill the domed chamber. He could smell the scent of blackberries just on the verge of ripeness, the bitter tang of duik-bark, the warm frothiness of gritty stout like they served at the Grampus-and-Krampus. The purple light swirled, began to twist, to rotate.

All around him a cavalcade of landscapes spun into view then were gone after only a brief glimpse. It seemed like looking outwards through a tornado at hundreds of disjointed places that didn't connect to one another except through the swirling light, the vortex produced by the Synchronocitor.

Dark caverns ornately carved into grim likenesses of even grimmer queens. A forest of bone-like trees clattering in a vile red wind. A rich, brown sea of tall grasses that ran off to the horizon and beyond. Blue sand frozen into harsh angular shapes beneath a dim green sky. Gelatinous bogs that wound about the feet of needle-peaked black mountains where no trees could find a purchase and the rains never quite ended. Crystalline badlands fuming with scalding milk-white pools of mineral-dense water and sulfurous formations that didn't quite resemble flowers. Ruined cities half submerged beneath rising waters and cooling lava, mounds of rubble stretching onward into the unrelenting blackness of a centuries-long night. Red sands forming wind-sculpted dunes beneath a weakly pinkish sky--columns of pitted stone and dull metal rose overhead, each one topped with a crystal egg-shape--a whiff of ozone--Someone--SOMETHING--was watching them!

Bujilli instinctively twisted away from the mental compulsion assaulting them, but not before dozens of Morons had already leaped past the bounds of the Synchronocitor's zone of effect to be lost to the Red World.

SNAP.

Thud. A large old chair toppled over next to him. It knocked over a small night-stand beside it. Tea cup, saucer and spoon crashed to the carpeted floor. The walls looked strange, all bare and denuded of books and all the other stuff Gnosiomandus used to have crammed into every nook and cranny.

The room had been haphazardly and hurriedly emptied of all books, maps, documents and other scholarly materials. Everything else had been left behind. Maybe the old man meant to return someday. More likely he had some sort of agreement with his land-lady. For all he knew the apartments came already furnished. That would make sense; Gnosiomandus was not very focused on day-to-day matters or trivialities like dishes or furniture.

"Where?" Leeja looked about the room. Morons were already scrounging about for bits and bobs to make ornaments with; two of them were busily sawing tassels off of a lamp.

"This room used to belong to Gnosiomandus..." It was where Bujilli had first entered Wermspittle...how long ago had it been? It felt like years.

"There's frost on the windows. If we're lucky it's still Autumn and it's just an early frost...otherwise..."

She didn't have to say it. Otherwise it was Winter. the worst possible time to be in Wermspittle.

"Bujilli?" a woman called to him from the next room.

It was Shael. The former Headmistress of the Academy.

He pushed past the curtains, antique temple tapestries from Jashqua, if he remembered the distinctive pattern from his time before coming to this place.

"It is you. Good." Shael was propped-up on a couch. Her left hand was stiffened into delicate semi-opaque glass. There were raw, glossy streaks radiating up her neck and across her throat that made moving her head stiff and painful.

"What happened?"

"I've been punished for exceeding my authority..." She looked away.

"She knew that you'd come back. to this place. I did not believe her. But she knew." Sprague came into the room from the kitchen. He was carrying a steaming tea pot.

"But why?"

"This is the one you told me about?" Grumbled a scrawny old man who wore a baggy set of coveralls that had armor plates riveted into strategic sections and cinched with a Morlock tool-belt around his waist.

"Who?"

"Now that he's here, I intend to go. I have work to attend to, revenge to carry out, that sort of thing." Sprague set the tea down on the table before Shael and bowed slightly. There was something bitter and wistful between them Not entirely distrust, not quite betrayal, but something strange and unsettling and mutually unsettling.

"Go run off to your bed then. The rest of us have our own fighting to do." Growled the old man.

"Rest assured. I will be fighting no less fiercely than you. I intend to sell my life dearly if it comes to that."

"Be that as it may. I intend to go on living."

"Like a rat? That's no life--" Sprague scoffed half-heartedly.

"None the less, I'll outlast the bastards, just like my kind have outlasted all the other bastards before them." They shook hands. "Good hunting to you cousin."

"And good scurrying or scampering or whatever it is you do down there." He laughed as he went to the door and left.

"So are you lot coming with me, or staying here top-side so you can get scorched into ashes by the Tripods or caught in the Black Smoke?"

"Where's Hedrard? she was supposed to be with you..."

Then Shael spotted the cocoon surrounded by the whispering, jostling, restless band of Morons.

And she began to cry.

The door Sprague had just left though exploded.

Four infantrymen in Franzikaner uniforms rushed into the room wielding unfamiliar-looking fire-arms...


What should Bujilli do next?

You Decide!



Now What?
We need to roll Initiative (P. 50, LL) by rolling 1d6 each for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) The Old Man, 4) The Squad of Infantrymen, and 5) The Morons. Because of her condition, Shael goes last and does not require a die-roll.

Bujilli and company need to decide if they are going to attack the soldiers, or attempt to flee, or try something else.

We'll need a few D20 rolls to handle any combat that might take place.

Should they cast some spells, draw weapons and charge, attempt to parley, bluff their way through the encounter by demanding to know the meaning of this intrusion, attempt to escape, or something else? 


You Decide!

Previous                            Next

Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Red Herring


In late Spring and early Autumn, on nights when the fog rolls in as thick as soup and every window glows with the soft yellow light of candles long forgotten, that is when people take to the roofs to dangle baited hooks while others stumble through alleys and backstreets swooping make-shift nets or seines through the dim twilight murk in the hopes of snaring a few fog fish.

Midwives and mothers warn their children of the goonch and dogfish, eavespike and a dozen varieties of catfish; all wide-mawed or sharp-toothed and quick to swallow-up the unwary or the unlucky. Especially the very young and the smaller in stature. Old-timers warn of the dangerous sting of carpetfish that tends to linger on after the fog has faded. Every bar and tavern has trophies of particularly gruesome or toothsome specimens stuffed and mounted over their mantles, both as a warning of what might enter a carelessly open window and as a source of bragging rights for those who finally and successfully wrestled the beasts into submission and into a cooking pot, canning jar or skillet.

But of all the biting, stinging, gulping things that flutter and flitter through the swirling, whirling gloomy effluvium the most notorious by far are the Red Herring. Shimmering, shiny little fish with no bite, no sting; they flash and flicker through the haze taunting those that try to capture them. Beguiling and tempting little morsels, they seem to take a will-o-the-wisp's cruel pleasure in evading capture while leading would-be fishers into any and every hole, pit, obstacle or hazard in the immediate vicinity.

Occasionally a school of Red Herring is caught, usually by groups of hungry children who string up multiple seines and nets across several adjacent alleys. They must clear the nets quickly, before the thrashing fish attract too much attention and something else claims the catch. Those that survive the night's dangers dine on the succulent flesh of the rascal fish while they mourn those of their friends who were lost, one set of hunters feeding off of another.

The fish must be eaten quickly, before they evaporate with the fog, though some claim that if you manage to place a still wiggling fog fish under your pillow before going to sleep, you can dine on all the fish you like for so long as you can dream away the rest of the night and in the morning your belly will still be full. Or at least that's the way they tell the tale in the shanty-camps...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mad Distortions of Humanity...

I see the black powder darkening the silent streets, and the contorted bodies shrouded in that layer; they rise upon me tattered and dog-bitten. They gibber and grow fiercer, paler, uglier, mad distortions of humanity at last, and I wake, cold and wretched, in the darkness of the night...

The War of the Worlds,
by H. G. Wells

Mad Distortions of Humanity
No. Enc.: 2d4 (4d10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 8/11
Hit Dice: 1 (use d12)
Attacks: 1 (attack at -1 penalty due to slow reactions/stiff movement)
Damage: 1d6 or by Weapon + Black Smoke Residue (See Below)
Save: As zero-level human
Morale: N/A

Eerie and silent, they lie sprawled and scattered across streets drifted with acrid black ashes, the mostly harmless traces of Black Smoke that has been neutralized by the rain or some other source of water. Some are missing pieces and portions of their bodies that have been snapped off by the wind or perhaps gnawed off by packs of hungry dogs. Others are entirely buried beneath a coarse blanket of the black particulates with only a vague hummock or depression to betray their presence while they lie in wait, still as statues, until some unwary traveler or refugee wanders too close. Then they lurch into a stiff, brittle mockery of the living to attack, gibbering insanely as they form into a mob, flailing and hacking away at any living thing they can reach.

These horrid things are covered with a heavy layer of Black Smoke Residue that coats their hands and weapons, lending a lingering nastiness to their melee attacks.

Black Smoke Residue: Victims need to Save or suffer a -2 penalty to AC, lose all DEX benefits, and a 50% reduction in Movement rate for the next 1d4 hours. All damage suffered while under the effects of Black Smoke Residue heals at one half the regular rate and all magical healing is likewise halved in its effect. Survivors are often marked with lasting black stains on their skin and incur a permanent -1 penalty to all subsequent Saves versus Black Smoke and its derivatives.

Upon reaching zero hit points in combat these wretched cadavers shatter into dozens of charcoal-like shards and pieces, releasing a Cloud of Black Ashes.

Cloud of Black Ashes: Fills a 10' diameter area with toxic black ashes that inflict 1d4 damage per minute of exposure and force those affected to Save or suffer blindness for 1d4 hours. Anyone failing the Save by rolling a natural 1 is permanently blinded.

Unlike most typical forms of undead who seek to sustain their existence, these mad things are completely given over to their overwhelming need to dissolve themselves in the blood of their victims. They will do anything that results in bloodshed, no matter how crazed or pointless. Those that succeed in dissolving themselves leave behind a grotesque scabrous black mass of inert matter that drives away lesser spirits, minor geists and low shades. There might be some way to use this stuff, but so far no one has admitted to anything publicly...

Any attempt to Turn these Mad Distortions of Humanity obliges the Cleric to Save or else suffer temporary insanity for 1d4 hours.

These things are particularly common around the South-West section of the Inner Ramparts...


Source of Inspiration: The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells. These things are a deliberate misreading of a passage from Book Two, Chapter Ten: Epilogue.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Boreal Sea-Bear

“Neither I nor the four flippers of the sea-bear of the Boreal Ocean have been able to solve the riddle of life.”
Comte de Lautréamont


Boreal Sea-Bear
No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 40' (120')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 3 (2 claws, bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8+2
Save: F4
Morale: 9


Massive aquatic mammals of the polar regions there are unconfirmed reports of specimens reaching in excess of 16' in length from snout to rear flipper-tip. They are exquisitely adapted to life in the cold waters of the polar oceans where they prey upon any and everything that comes within reach of their fore-claws. Fearless and mighty, they are notorious for capsizing or sinking ships that stray into their territory.

Boreal Sea-bears may be related to the White Beasts, but this is doubtful as Boreal Sea-Bears possess two pair of flippers and one pair of powerful fore-limbs, while the White Beasts are merely bipedal. Since nothing has been conclusively proven or dis-proven at this time most authorities prefer to hedge their bets.



There are several unconfirmed reports of a Boreal Sea-Bear making its lair deep within the Lidenbrock Reservoir...

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