Wednesday 29 April 2015

Ix: Seasons

The environmental cycles in the deserts of Ix do not follow the typical patterns of seasonal variation which are found in the various climes of Earth.

The Season of Winds
The beginning of the Ixian year. For three lunar cycles, the airs of the world are turbulent and violent.

1. Hot, blasting wind
2. Raging, spiralling wind
3. Dust storm
4. Sand storm
5. Descending wind, great heat
6. Special environmental condition

The Season of Bones
For three long lunar cycles, the sun intensifies, as if in an attempt to raze the surface of the world. Water recedes deep underground, leaving the earth parched and barren as bone. In this season, much life perishes.

Water consumption requirements increase by 25%.

1. Scorching heat
2. Withering wind
3. High pressure
4. Deathly still
5. Relentless hot dust
6. Special environmental condition

The Season of Dreams
Before the year's end, the hazy violet moon has cosmological dominance for two cycles, ushering a time of wantonness, willfulness, madness, and the concrescence of dreams.

1. Mirage winds
2. Murky skies, like muddy waters
3. Shadowy haze
4. Howling winds
5. Radiant light
6. Special environmental condition

The Season of Flowers
This season, regarded as the ending of the year, sees the desert winds placated and the fierce heat of the sun soothed. In this short season of two moons, flowering plants bloom, bringing a vibrant gaiety to the desert. (Of course, not all of these blossoms are as benevolent as they appear.)

Water consumption requirements reduced by 25%.

1. Cool breeze
2. Still, warm air
3. Hazy heat
4. Lazy whirlwinds
5. Billowing dust
6. Special environmental condition

(More details on the lunar cycle of Ix and the noted special environmental conditions to come in future posts.)

Tuesday 28 April 2015

New Vivimancer Spell: Minimus Replication

2nd level, Range: Touch, Duration: Permanent, Casting Time: 3 days

Suspended in a vat of electrically charged nutrient fluid, the genetic material of a tissue sample is distilled and grows, forming a miniaturised clone of the being from which the tissue originated. The clone is mindless, non-sentient, and does not survive beyond the three days over which it develops, but represents an exact physical likeness of its progenitor. In this way, the vivimancer may be able to identify careless intruders or unknown life forms.

Unlike most spells which require a tissue sample, this procedure functions perfectly well on inert biological matter such as bone, hair, shell, teeth, etc.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Ix: The Deserts of Ix, Part 2: Inhabited Regions

Following on from the previous post, here are detailed the regions of desert in which the Sandestine dwell.

Regions of Sandestine Dominion

1. The Broken Land
West of Zjom, east of the night, and north of the transparent wastes lies a region of barren, dusty plains, cliffs, and jagged rock formations. The land itself seems to have been rended and broken asunder. Akin to the floating oasis, Zjom, cyclopean chunks of earth hang ominously in the bruised sky.

The Sandestine of this land are few. They are of the Jilka (moon-shadow) clan and dwell primarily underground, out of the feared gaze of the looming rock-chunks. The Jilka are protected by Seraphs of the utter darkness, who have taught them a secret art of communion with the void.

2. The Seething Sands
The sands of this region are so hot that they scorch unprotected flesh. Not only does the sun bear down here with a merciless intensity, but the earth itself seems to be heated from within. Great, black worms writhe beneath the surface. The Sandestine who dwell here, the Rigpa (talon poised to strike) clan, are not numerous, but are renowned as experts of steel-working and navigation.

3. The Desert of Spires
A region wracked by incessant winds and roiling dust storms, the name comes from the presence of the many protrusions of sandstone which jut in curious forms out of the orange sands.

This northern region, beyond the main influence of the Empire, is now one of the most heavily populated Sandestine domains. It is ruled by the Kadga (knife-blade) clan, who are great merchants and are famed for their wines and cloth.

4. The Pacific Dunes
A swathe of gentle, rolling dunes, dotted with many small oases, wells, and ruins. Continuous human habitation in this area for millennia has rendered the wilderness to the south (towards the great oasis cities of Aakla and Lillurm) tame. The northern and eastern reaches, where Templars and Slavers venture less often, remain treacherous.

Regarded as the ancestral homeland of all Sandestine, this region is now hotly contested with the Empire of the Radiant One, who also claim it as their central dominion. This, along with the profusion of slavers (who are not in any way averse to kidnapping Sandestine), has led to many bloody conflicts and the gradual exodus of Sandestine from the area. A tenacious clan, the Sagrka (diamond) people, remain here. They are a people of war and poetry, and bitterly hate the Empire. They exclusively worship the eagle-headed Arch-Seraph Mamman, who has dominion over light, burning, birth, and re-birth.

5. The Desert of Lost Ages
A region plagued with political turmoil, located between the religious core of the Empire (the Cathedral of Tears) and its military bulwark (Bardash and the Fortress of Resplendence). Many ancient ruins lie here, the remnants of civilisations crushed by war. Indeed, legends tell that the last battle of the great war, when the world was broken, was fought on the sands of this region.

Harried by Templars, the reclusive Ulgpa (sole of the foot) clan call this desert home. They are masterful herdsmen and are said to move without a sound. It is rumoured that the matriarchs of the Ulgpa clan know of hidden ways into the ruined city of Bosj, and have witnessed perilous secrets about which they refuse to speak.

6. The Birdplains
Between the unrelenting  vortex of the Bowl of Shifting Sands, to the north, and the threatening barrens of the Mountains of Madness, to the south, lies this land of wide-open vistas, rocky crevasses, hidden springs, and stunted savannah. Giant mountain eagles range in the skies above, hence the name.

The Sandestine who dwell here are of the Kalam'h (withered leaf) clan, and are renowned for their hospitality, their feasting, and their exquisite tents.

7. The Mutoid Wastes
Only marginally habitable, this barren expanse of dustland rolls eastward to an indeterminate end. The land here is tainted with an energy of unknown origin which causes the mutation of biological life. The native flora and fauna is twisted and hostile. The eastern reaches of this land are so infused with mutagens that humans perish there within days.

A scant few Sandestine call the western regions of this land (south of Hul Nostra) home. They are of the Zkamga (lizard fang) clan and are known as breeders of lizards of all kinds and manufacturers of the most advanced osmosis suits.

8. The Scorched Dunes
A region of black sand, scarred by ancient war. Deep wells exist here, around which unusual plants and animals dwell -- all have taken on an ashen hue and shun daylight.

A near-extinct Sandestine clan lives here, known as the Hlahla (gullet). The ongoing war between the Empire of the Radiant One and the deamon-city of Agra rolls back and forth across this land, devastating it and its native people. The Hlahla are unusual among Sandestine in that they have a patriarchal society, ruled over by a shamanic order called the Dahron. They are masters of herbs and fungi.

Ix: The Deserts of Ix, Part 1: Uninhabited Regions

The desert people of Ix, known collectively as "Sandestine", divide the known plains and dunes into eighteen regions. Here follows their lore on those which are inhospitable to human life.

Regions Uninhabited by Men

1. The Dusklands / The Encroachment of Night
It is believed that, in ancient times, the northern sands were cool, hospitable regions, guarded by Seraphs (benevolent spirits of shade) and blessed with a profusion of oases. Since the beginning of the dark age, no life may flourish here in the eternal dusk.

2. The Desolation of Mount Abrax
Scarred by the frequent eruptions and emissions of the great volcano, whose name derives from the ancient dragon who dwells in its core, this region is hazardous to traverse and is shunned by all desert folk.

3. The Bowl of Shifting Sands
Inhospitable due to its twisting winds and treacherous dunes, the Sandestine regard this lowland region as accursed, home to Ahamol, spirits who devour souls, and ruled by the snake-deamon Boal, who resides upon a crystalline plateau lost among the dunes.

4. The Ashlands of Dis
East of the cities of Kalamd and Hul Nostra, all life ends. The desert sands are replaced with brittle ash and the air is filled with smoke. The extent of this toxic region is unknown, as no one has traversed its depths.

5. The Quiet Dunes
No Sandestine venture here as it is said that these placid, barren dunes work a sinister influence on men's minds, driving them to insanity, suicide, and cannibalism.

6. The Caustic Deadlands
No living Sandestine is said to have traversed the Cliffs of Abbaddon to descend to this region, but legends tell that it is utterly toxic to human life. The very sand is said to dissolve flesh, and the air to burn skin.

7. The Desert of Wailing Souls
Also legendary and unknown to those who traverse the desert sands in the current day, Sandestine believe that the souls of those who die without honour are banished to eternal torment in this land.

8. The Mazelands
This region of maze-like sandstone spires and ridges is inhabited, but not by humans. Strange beings of wood and smoke, known only as "maze-dwellers", live here. They are said to be the guardians of a gargantuan water-deamon who slumbers in a vast cyst of dark water at the centre of the maze. While the maze-dwellers are not said to be hostile to humans, the rapacious giant insects which also make their homes here are.

9. The Tombsands
The fell magic of the deamon kingdoms oozes across this land which was once home to an ancient people known as the Haddrim, who built great cities of imperishable, grey stone. The blasted remnants of their cities and mausoleums litter these sands. The dead have been awakened and scour the dunes for mortal life, which they drag into accursed tombs and crypts to perish in the dark.

10. The Transparent Wastes
The sands of the desert suddenly give way here to a seemingly endless plane of glass. Beneath the surface, terrifying forms are said to leer and swirl. Legends say that, after several hundred miles, the glass plane fades into a vortex of mist and sucking winds, pulling all matter into the hell-void at the end of the world.

Part 2 describes the lands inhabited by the Sandestine.

Wednesday 22 April 2015


2nd level, Range: 30', Duration: 1d6 turns

This spell causes the instantaneous conjuration of 1d4 trained monkeys per three experience levels of the enchanter. The monkeys are obedient, if rambunctious, and may appear dressed in whatever livery the caster desires (typically that of minstrels, jesters, or valets). They have 1d3 hit points, an armour class of 7, a movement rate of 12, and a morale of 7.

In addition to its costume, each monkey is conjured with an item in its paws, which it is trained to use. The enchanter may choose: musical instruments, common tools (hammers, spades, saws, etc), or weapons (small ornate cudgels, spears or lances).

If commanded to attack, the monkeys inflict 1d2 damage with claws and biting (one attack per round) or 1d4 damage with weapons.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Inches to Miles

5th level, Range: Self, Duration: 1 hour

This spell lays a brief but powerful enchantment on the fabric of space, bending it such that the enchanter may travel many miles in a short moment. Once the spell is cast, the enchanter may make either one or two steps. As the spell's common name implies, the length of each step is greatly magnified -- inches are literally transformed into miles. The following possibilities exist:
  • Road travel: a step may take the enchanter far along a road upon which he stands. Up to three junctions may be navigated.
  • As the crow flies: the enchanter may travel in a straight line, landing at ground level.
  • Step back: as the spell allows two steps to be taken, it is possible for the enchanter to travel to a distant location then return by turning around and making a reverse step, returning to his original location. After the first step has been made, the enchanter must decide whether to end the spell, leaving him in the new location, or to maintain it. In the latter case, the caster must remain stationary, taking no steps until he wishes to return to the original location. Making any steps except the returning stride ends the spell.
A simple means of calculating the maximum length of a step is to halve the character's height in inches. This is this the maximum number of miles that can be travelled with the enchanted stride.

Sunday 12 April 2015

High Horse

1st level, Range: 30', Duration: 2d6 rounds

This cantrap has several applications. Cast upon a person of haughty or arrogant disposition, it brings about a brief spell of humility. Cast upon a horse (with or without rider) it either lifts the beast unwittingly into the air (up to 20') or evokes in it a mood of high folly, as if drunken or moonstruck. In all cases, a saving throw versus spells may be made to resist.

A higher level enchanter may affect one subject per three experience levels.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Gingerbread Charm

1st level, Range: 5', Duration: Special

Casting this charm upon a figure of freshly baked gingerbread causes it to come to life. The spell affects a single animal or humanoid figure, to a maximum size of 1'. Living gingerbread creatures have a movement rate of 30' (10'), an armour class of 9, 1d3 hit points, and cannot attack in any meaningful way. They are, however cunning (INT of 12) and very stealthy (able to go unnoticed on a 1-4 on 1d6).

The wizard who gave life to the creature is able to communicate with it via a limited form of telepathy which only functions when the two make eye contact (assuming the gingerbread creature has eyes of some kind) and enter into a brief hypnotic trance. The personality of the gingerbread creature is one of the following, determined at random (secretly by the referee):
  1. Loving. Wants nothing more than to cuddle and nestle with its creator.
  2. Duplicitous. Outwardly friendly to its creator yet secretly strives to undermine his plans. What does the creature do at night while mortals sleep?
  3. Adventurous. Lusts after travel and new experiences. Will abandon a staid creator.
  4. Contrary. Stubbornly refuses to obey its creator. If left to its own devices, may create beautiful things.
  5. Homely. Loves to help with household chores.
  6. Hateful. Takes pleasure in causing pain (especially physical) to living creatures, including its creator.
  7. Wise. Its head is empty of knowledge and experience, but the creature is surprisingly perceptive when asked for moral or personal advice.
  8. Demanding. Has extremely high standards of living. Will have tantrums if it doesn't get its way.
As a form of construct, gingerbread creatures do not require air, food, or water for sustenance, and are immune to poisons. They may, however, be affected by spells of charm and mind manipulation, including (curiously) sleep.

Living gingerbread creatures naturally perish after 24 hours, disintegrating into crumbs as the enchantment which binds them dissipates. They may, however, be kept alive indefinitely if fed small quantities of one of the following substances daily: mercury, fine rum, human blood. (The liquid stains their mouths.)

The spell may also be cast upon a normal loaf of bread, enchanting it such that the hair of anyone who eats part of it will turn permanently bright red.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Forget-Me-Not (reversible)

3rd level, Range: Touch, Duration: Permanent

This hex operates by means of a dainty, unassuming flower, which must be proffered by the enchanter and accepted in good faith by the one to be enspelled. The spell may be cast up to one minute before the flower is proffered, but delaying any longer causes the magic to dissipate. The one accepting the enchanted gift finds that, from that moment on, their thoughts return inevitably to the one who gave it to them, remembering the gesture with the utmost fondness.

The reversed version of this spell, forget-me, must be cast under the same circumstances, but causes the subject to utterly forget the enchanter's existence.

Monday 6 April 2015

Exceedingly Good Cake

5th level, Range: Touch, Duration: Permanent

A cake of exceptional quality is enchanted such that the alignment of the first person to eat of it is permanently altered to the most righteous and virtuous hue of goodness. A saving throw versus spells is allowed, with a -1 penalty if the cake was baked by the wizard casting the spell. Those of previously evil bent may be overwhelmed with regret at their former deeds.

Alternatively, the wizard may cast this spell in order to conjure artisan cakes, gateaux, pastries, doughnuts, or pies totalling up to one cubic foot in volume per level of the caster.

Saturday 4 April 2015

Doorman Hex

2nd level, Range: 10', Duration: Special

Uttered beside a doorway, this hex has two possible uses:

1. It may cause a single doorman or guard to grant the wizard passage through the portal. A wizard of higher level may beguile multiple wardens: one additional guard per level beyond 5th. Magical or enchanted guardians may also be beguiled, but may save versus spells to resist. Afterwards, the guards have no memory of the wizard's passage.

2. It may summon into being one or more doormen to protect an unguarded portal. At low level, a single servant is summoned, but their number increases as follows: 5th level: 1d4, 8th level: 1d6, 11th level: 2d4, 13th level: 2d6. The doormen are normal men, dressed in smart livery (with advance planning, the wizard may choose the exact design), and armed with ornamental spears (usable in combat, but -1 to hit). The wardens will guard the door to the best of their ability, allowing or denying access according to the wizard's instructions. They are wholly loyal in this task but will, if asked, freely tell their master's name to any who enquire. It is impossible to command the doormen to perform any other task, and they cannot move more than 10' distant from the portal they protect. When the duration (1 hour) expires, the doormen vanish.

Friday 3 April 2015

Candy Crush

4th level, Range: Touch, Duration: 1 day

This spell enchants a handful of candy (of any kind) with one of two possible magical effects, chosen as it is cast.

1. Any being which eats one of the sweets must save versus spells or become hopelessly infatuated with the wizard. This infatuation lasts for 24 hours, after which affected beings regard the former object of their admiration with a grudging suspicion.

2. The sweets leap from the wizard's palm into the air, expanding to terrifying proportions as they cascade back to earth. Anyone caught within the 30' area in front of the wizard must save versus paralysis or suffer crushing damage from the falling sweets. The amount of damage depends on the type of candy used -- from 2d6 for soft marshmallows to 6d6 for rock hard boiled sweets. The sweets remain in gargantuan dimension for the remainder of the spell's duration and may, during this time, attract children, insects, dogs, and other sweet-loving beasts.

When the duration expires, the sweets spontaneously evaporate in a puff of pink dust.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Bonnet Glamour

3rd level, Range: Touch, Duration: Special

A single fine bonnet, cap, or hood of elaborate craft (laced, embroidered, sequinned, bejewelled, etc.) becomes enchanted such that the one who wears it takes on the uncanny likeness of a specific noble or person of pious import (as selected by the wizard). The bonnet itself is not in any way disguised, but the glamour is otherwise efficacious in the realm of all applicable senses. It is not, however, a true transmutation -- certain physical tests may reveal the deception.

The garment must be donned as the spell is intoned, remaining enchanted for as long as it remains firmly in place.

A Merry Band

4th level, Range: 15', Duration: 1 round or longer

Up to one person within range is affected per level of the wizard. Two things happen. Firstly, any items held in their hands are instantaneously transmuted into musical instruments (1. drum, 2. pipes, 3. bell, 4. lute, 5. fiddle, 6. trumpet). Secondly, they are enchanted with a wondrous musical virtuosity with the instrument which has manifested in their grasp and a compulsion to play a merry jig with great glee and vigour. Those without instruments will clap and sing. Thus may any situation be transformed into a merry ball. There is no saving throw.

The enchantment lasts for at least one round. At the start of each subsequent round, enchanted subjects may make a saving throw versus spells to break it. At this point, transformed items are returned to their normal state. Those of a musical predilection suffer a -3 penalty to the saving throw, as they are inclined to enjoy the effects.

Physical damage to an enchanted subject also ends the effect.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

From the Vats: Last Few Illustrations Needed!

I'm just assessing the list of outstanding illustrations for From the Vats and am delighted to report that nearly all spaces have now been filled!

Just two remain. We be needing images depicting:
  1. A 6" long, leech-like monstrosity being inserted into the throat of a horrified but willing human subject. TAKEN
  2. A crown of fused heads and neural fibres.

Anyone up for it? Let me know and I'll send you a PDF of the page, showing the available space and the textual context.

Let's rock!