Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Knave's Guide to Eberron: The Mournlands

Cyre, the Purple Jewel in the crown of Galifar, sits in ruin. The dead too numerous to be counted, seared away in supernatural cataclysm which still taints the land like an emanating radiation, like noxious fumes wafting out of a bloated corpse. This is the Mournland, for it is a place of sorrow and for remembrance of a dark event that destroyed a culture without explanation.

The Mournlands bifurcate Khorvaire, its borders defined by a powerful miasma which churns like a dust storm, like a warning not to enter. The mists are said to drive men to madness by way of unceasing malaise, they carry the cries and psychic fears of those who died during the Day of Mourning upon them. In the thickest of the fog, their shadows wage in endless war as silhouettes.

Bodies litter the Mournlands in various states of decay, the rampant arcane energy toys with the natural decomposition process. Fields of charnel atrocities twitch and seizure, choked cries by consciousnesses trapped in dead frames echo out on the winds. Some sites are locked in time, bodies fallen but unblemished by the ravages of time or vermin. 

The fields of the Mournland, of Cyre’s former rolling hills and beautiful horizons, are overgrown. The grains which once created the most artisanal goods, crumble at the most errant touch into a gritty silt. Vineyards grow their crops, unattended, the fruits resemble fetal forms; it is likely pareidolia but only the most desperate would risk this unkindness of imagery. 

The waters of Cyre have receded, turned crimson or reverted into pestilent bogs. Death strandings of all manner of creatures can be found upon the forsaken shores, twitching in half-life, translucent in the skin, bones shown. Flies drone endlessly, though they never seem to be present. Mechanical cables, larger than any sane thing, shudder upon the beach and trail back down beneath the waters in the distance. Steel Krakens, some say, but even a kraken should must obey the rules of nature. It should not be this large.

The sky is always cloudy, overcast, ready to rain down ash, greasy waters, or other pestilences upon the fog-choked land. Travelling the Mournlands without proper shelter is just as risky as travelling it without weapons at the ready. The tattered husks of civilization within are just as treacherous as the open wilderness. 

Cabin Boy is an underrated film and speaks to my upbringing.

Cyre did not deserve this fate, it was a land of beauty and plenty. King Jarot’s daughter was meant to inherit the crown, not this legacy of horror. Cyre has no true ruler anymore, though Prince Oargev ir’Wynarn can claim a right to rule, he has no land to call his own. He hardly has a people. Cyran refugees litter the surrounding nations, untrusted for their former military’s actions in the last war, for the glory they once had, and for the doom that some believe follows them. They are as a people, from a culture of high art and fashion, primarily now destitute and hopeless. Cyran artifacts are worth a lovely sum, ensuring a flooded market that forces them into further indignity, and the prevalence of scavengers who will plunder their former homeland; risking life and limb for their own petty gains.

The Warforged may find their purpose here, as the Lord of Blades seeks to make this ravaged wreck heap into a homeland for the betterment and propagation of his race. His supremacist politics, vicious rhetoric, and ruthless efficiency reveal him to be the very worst of Cyre and the Mournlands, married into the frame of a hulking mechanical monstrosity. For every cultural milestone he seeks to claim, he looks upon the rest of the world with the same ambition which denied Cyre it’s crown. The mantle of a becoming god calls to him more than any petty throne, and his followers must straddle the line between violent zealots and peaceable wanderers to those who encounter them in this blasted place. 

Considerations for the Mournlands
The Mournlands are if you took a WWI no-man’s-land, turned it into Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombs dropped, and then allowed it to be the Chernobyl zone of exclusion. It is a place of tragedy, and therein lies the horror. It is fitting in a pulp perspective, but the tone should feel very "deep behind enemy lines" wherein the enemy is existence.

The Mournlands is not scary because it is filled with monsters, it is scary because it is wasted potential, it is a place where everything a civilization should strive for--maybe even deserve, has been inverted in a terrible way. The most beautiful and cherished realm of Galifar is now a heap of filth to suffer only the molestations of bonepickers, vultures, wayward cultists, and the misguided. Might makes right here, but this is not a place where goblin warlords wage for dominance in that philosophy; this is a place where might makes right because nobody is coming here to save you, nobody cares you’re here, you have no motives here but the ulterior; you cannot save this land, you will lose yourself here.

Characters who travel the Mournlands must contend with the mist, which will slowly infect their dreams and drive them into a depressive state where self-harm, suicide, or homocide seem to make sense as a means of coping with their utterly insiginificant place in a world where such atrocities can occur. Warforged are immune to this, in theory; those found in the Mournlands are considered to be some of the worst of their own kind---but it’d be too easy to blame that upon the mists.

Monsters in the Mournland
The creatures who dwell here represent the folly of man, of overgrasped ambition and nature’s inability to allow the wicked toil inflicted upon the earth to prevent animal life from attempting to retake the civilized world. 

HD 3, AD 13, ATT 2d6 (Ghastly Claws), Morale: - , Speed: 50 ft (Flight). No. Appearing: Solitary or a Haunt (2-5).

A swirling torrent from the mists, humanoid at a glance, like a man stretched and bent, broken and tattered into merely wind. It howls and echoes in profound sorrow, clutching ghastly claws of razor wind as if holding its hand might allow you to pull it out of this endless torment.
  • Hopeless - Mourners, upon dealing maximum damage with their Ghastly Claws, inflict a hopelessness in their victim. If the victim falls prone or would otherwise die from this attack, they must make a Constitution Saving Throw. On a failed throw they inhale deeply the mists and begin suffering psychic trauma, haunted by visions of a life not their own and a diseased attraction to the items in this vision. If a hopeless character were to say, encounter the living spouse of a Mourner, they would feel compelled to make them their own--acting in anger and desperation. Psychic surgery, therapy, or alcohol can numb this hopelessness into a more...internalized problem.
What’s it doing? [d6]
1. Shrieking and searching for something, scanning the environment with frenzied intensity.
2. Manifested in almost physical form, weeping and holding itself. The mists claim it when approached.
3. Banging recklessly upon the ruins of a structure, attempting entry, looking back towards the mists that spawned it as though it wishes to outrun the calamity.
4. Crying upon the winds, in baleful calls it asks where everyone is, why it’s so alone, why it cannot find them all.
5. It has its claws upon a looter, who as you watch, slits their own throat as they cry out how they “just want this to stop feeling so painful.” 
6. Screaming up at the sky, cursing the Sovereign Host and beckoning any dark power which will let it see its family again.

Shroud of Death & Despair (Living Finger of Death)
HD 9, AD 19, ATT 3d8 (Slam) or Finger of Death, Morale: - , Speed: 20 ft (Throb). No. Appearing: Solitary or a Hateful Hand (5).

A gelatinous pulsating pillar of blackest night, throbbing and sluggishly pulling itself through the land. The world around turns to ash, flesh grows tight across the bone, necrosis overtakes living tissue. When it aims its nucleus upon a being, they age away into ash.
  • Finger of Death - A Shroud of Death & Despair must focus upon a creature for two turns as its nucleus is pushed from the bottom of its ooze-form to the very top. The nucleus, white, almost skull-shaped yet liquid, affixes itself on a victim once it is pushed to the top. If a victim has not taken cover, the Shroud releases a horrible beam of white energy which deals 7d8 damage, aging the victim until they are nothing but bone dust and ash. 
What’s it doing? [d6]
1. Pulsating in a rhythmic pattern, as if communicating to something in code.
2. Leaning against a structure, slumped, as if resting; the structure is slowly aging itself to dust against it.
3. Submerging part of its base in a deep puddle of filthy water.
4. Seeking out organic matter to obliterate.
5. Remaining perfectly still, almost dried, as if inert. Rouses to life if approached by organic matter.
6. Spreading flagellum out, as if seeking to divide itself into two shrouds.

Steel Kraken
HD 8, AD 18, ATT 2d10+8 (Crush), Morale: - , Speed: 50 ft (Swim) or 10 ft (Crawl). No. Appearing: Solitary.

Steel cables, articulated by cumbersome, drag this leviathan of Cannith constructed folly at a slow pace. It is too large to engage with conventional weaponry. Its eyes shimmer a gemstone red, and its mouth is a spiralling razor pit of blades. 
  • Colossal - A steel kraken is too large to be harmed by normal weaponry, taking damage only inflicted by war magic, large impediments (such as tumbling boulders or vicious shrapnel filled pits), or by siege weapons. Its reach extends hundreds of feet, but its crushing attacks are slow. A steel kraken would make an amazing dungeon.

What’s it doing? [d6]
1. Attempting to drag the whole of its immense sky-scraper sized frame on to dry land.
2. Spraying a vicious red miasma into the air above itself. Thunder crackles as a result.
3. Staggering and grinding, as if an internal mechanism is broken.
4. In-taking loose sand and silt from the shoreline where a death standing has taken place.
5. Emerging from the depths of the water in the distance, its eyes locked firmly upon any interlopers with hateful intent.
6. Wrapping its brutal cable-strong tendrils around a foreign ship, crushing the hull as though it were as flimsy as tin.

Having run my first session of A Knave's Guide to Eberron on 6/15/19, I had a damn good time. The session took place on its way into the Mournlands and the party who were utterly unfit for the job, did a great job botching it, getting maimed in the process, and are now likely going to find themselves hunted by both House Cannith and the Karrnathi military for the knowledge they shouldn't have about a planar experiment to create a more perfect (i.e. less sapient) warforged; which the party believes may have been a catalyst for the Day of Mourning. That's their theory anyway.

I look forward to doing more of these, I'm enjoying writing about this from an attempted pulp perspective, and the Mournlands should thematically really hammer home man's folly and ambitions in everything it is about. At least in my opinion.

Hope y'all like and can make use of any of this. I'd write more, but alas, grad school and factory work in the morrow.

- Brian

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Knave's Guide to Eberron: Familiars

I absolutely forgot to put these in the document, so I’ll be putting them in here. Monsters too, shall show up at some point. Familiars are meant to be weird oddities, strange things you can use to your advantage but often attached in some way to spells or that would be too cumbersome to use all the time like a weapon proper.

They take up an Equipment Slot each and can be used once per day at your instruction directly, though many of their powers can be used in a latent capacity if one is clever enough to learn.

Robo-doggo is a monster, not a familiar, IMO TBH.

Bantam Fastieth
A small sauropod, with vicious teeth and patterns upon its snout that resemble a Halfling’s hunting mask. 
Boon: Clinging a Bantam Fastieth with both hands allows its user to jump twice their movement rate. Users feel awash with a spiritual power. 

Bound Element
A carved form, vaguely humanoid though abstract, sculpted around a bottle of Khyber dragonshard’s deep binding. Within swirls elemental motes.
Boon: Using a spell with a similar elemental quality as the bound element increases the damage by one dice degree when cast. The Bound Element can be thrown as a grenade.

Buzzing Gadfly
A colorful though disconcerting large insect of vaguely mechanical make, its tones are hard to acclimate to. 
Boon: It buzzes with strange rhythm, those who spend time to learn the buzzings can be alerted to specific types of creatures within 300’ of the owner. Its buzzing sounds pleasant if you let it drink blood.

Clockwork Scorpion
The workings of long lost empires in Xen’drik, a mechanical scorpion of black metal that moves in ancient rhythms.
Boon: If you have the scorpion on your person, when you are struck in melee combat you may allow the scorpion to inject poison into your enemy freely. You may put any sort of poison within it.

Crawling Clot
It lingers inside its host, expelled upon the slightest of pains. Like an expelled tumor of red, it throbs with sinister purpose.
Boon: You may enter a meditative state to see, hear, smell, and taste anything the crawling clot is able to sense. If you swallow the clot, you gain 1d3 hit points and may spit it out again freely in 24 hours.

Dragonmark Reflection
An abstract symbol, inverted and reversed from the true one displayed upon its master. It exists somewhere between the second dimension and the third, shimmering in the air when it can be perceived at all.
Boon: You may concentrate to display the mastery and benefits of aligning with your Dragonmarked House to those who look upon the reflection. (Yes, this is essentially just a holographic advertisement of your abilities and that’s potentially useful for trade purposes.)

Floating Implements
Magewright’s must often defend their workshops, those who do not possess the same touch will often find themselves attacked by the artificer’s latest projects.
Boon: You may use your floating implements to assist you in repairing the quality of an item. In the event that someone tries to touch or steal them, you may have the implements become a swirling mass of professional tools that have 6 HP, DEF 1 and deal 1d4 damage per turn until the thief flees. If defeated, it can be re-calibrated by a day of arcane work, blood, sweat, and toil.

Horror of Xoriat
A lingering foulness upon the world, a sentient polyp, a mass of flesh and teeth and timeless purpose. It whispers madness and tempts with power.
Boon: Playing host to a Horror of Xoriat makes you immune to the insanity of the foulspawn and their daelkyr masters, granting you a 2d6 damage defense when creatures try to manipulate your mind. It wants you to carve yourself with strange symbols though...

Lingering Nightmare
It hangs upon the head like a sullen depression, a black aura of broken promises and trauma to come. When in unison with its host, nightmares become reality.
Boon: This vestige of a quori grants you the ability to conjure an illusionary scene of a creature’s nightmares and deepest trauma, dealing 1d3 damage to you per turn you keep this activated. 

Living Infusion
Sculpted within the form of this homunculus is a jar of succulent red which sloshes with each awkward step. Beneath the creature is a stinger, or more accurately, a syringe.
Boon: With adequate instruction beforehand, the Living Infusion will inject its contents at your discretion during times of crisis, combat, or worst case scenario. You must, of course, place something within its vial. It becomes inert when empty. 

Saddle Squire
A locking saddle of leathers and metals, emblazoned with nationalistic patterns. It holds deep upon a mount and stabilizes its rider.
Boon: Riding upon a Saddle Squire makes the wearer nearly impossible to be dismounted by anything other than their own volition. 

Silver Lamp
This simple lantern, when lit by the pious, emits a flame that emulates the Silver Flame.
Boon: Casts light as a lamp, makes lycanthropes uncomfortable, makes Shifters unhappy, makes the pious feel as though you are truly chosen by the Flame. Rouses something in the zealous.

Tri-Gorgon Hammer
Powerful mauls, emblazoned with the Cannith emblem, a mark of the three-headed gorgon, emitting similar fumes when it temps at the ground.
Boon: Can be used to expel a petrifying gas in a 10 foot aura, that slows or hastens constructs, repairs items by a quality level, and chokes vermin. Usable once per day. Functions as a Quality 6 Warhammer if not expended.

Summoner Homunculus
An astrolabe in the form of a miniature man, whose movements swirl and churn with the cosmic movements of the spheres.
Boon: When properly observed, it will display the directions of nearby manifest zones and align itself to movements in the spheres. Can be used to determine the influence plane of outsiders.

Tinker Feyling
A petty sprite, a gremlin in truth, no large than a beetle and golden in color. It bloats itself on latent magical energy, and like a wasp, it regurgitates arcane sealant when it has had its feel.
Boon: Can repair damaged magical items, but makes them unusable for a number of days equal to the Quality level repaired. Can nullify another’s magical item for a combat, but makes it more potent when next used.

Tome Caddy
A somber lectern, its face a grotesque of sorts. It floats, always within reach but out of the way, hoping to be granted attention.
Boon: Tome Caddy’s can carry a spellbook for you, allowing you to cast from it while still using your hands for weapons, shields, wands, or spellshards. 

Warforged Faceplate
The face of a Warforged, derelict from the Forges or perhaps a pilfered trophy from the battlefield. It watches, unable to speak, its mind still very present.
Boon: Will attach to your face while you sleep, granting you clarity of all events that take place while you’re asleep and rousing you from slumber in the case of an enemy approaching. You may also yet dream the memories of the Warforged, which is invasive and strange but will prevent your mind from entering Dal Quor. 

Xen’Drik Bloodthorn Creeper
A red vine that swirls and constricts, one thorn into its host, and many more on the ready to be put into its prey. 
Boon: You take 1 point of permanent Constitution damage (until the creeper is removed), but all melee attacks you make against unarmored or bleeding enemies now heal you for 1 Hit Point per turn. 

House Rules Document: Knave's Guide to Eberron

Hey y'all, sorry for the lack of production; work is killing me, nothing new there. Attached is a campaign document for a game I'm going to start running in a week or so, it's mainly a hack of Eberron for Knave, using Bastionland's Scars/Afflictions rules, and the Scales of Wars backgrounds; both of which are openly available on the web without any paywall.

Regardless, this is just a house rule document I'm tossing up here. A few of the changes include races/distinctions, which provide different types of benefits or bonus to HD to help represent the more heroic character types Eberron is meant to have. A lot of it runs on my own personal referee ideas in mind.

Click Here

I realize upon posting this, I did forget to put in rules for familiars, which might actually be useful for people. C'est la vie. Knave is a CC.A4 game, designed by Ben Milton.

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

The Hole in the Oak is a low level adventure about venturing into the Mythic Underworld for Old-School Essentials , and though it features s...