Monday, January 16, 2017

The Stones of Teufel

Lately, I've been thinking about the meaningless of reality. About the unstoppable march of entropy leading to the eventual heat death of the universe. About how void life is of meaning; the uselessness of effort.

I've also been thinking of demons, wizards, dogs and runes. Two of these I'll jam together. The other two, I'll hold for later. Let's see what the hell I'm up to:

The Stones of Teufel


Runes carved on to stones have been used for divination since magic came to the northern lands. Place them in a sack, think about your question and draw. Knowledge can then be gleaned from the results. Basic stuff that everyone knows.

However, there was one wizard who saw this as nothing more than random chance. He sought more in his divination rituals; he sought certainty. He sought knowledge unknowable. In his madness he carved the runes and inked them in his own blood. Then, from the gap beyond physical space, he drew forth twenty four shapeless consciousnesses, and bound them to the stones.

For this his name should have been remembered for all time. Instead, due to what happened next, his name has been burned from the history books. Cursed and forgotten.

The stones - or rather the consciousnesses bound to them - given form in this reality did indeed provide the accurate divination the wizard so craved, but in doing so began to learn. Began to grow.
Within the decade, the entities on the rune stones gained true sentience and with it, free will.

The stones whispered out to those nearest the wizard, tempting them into stealing the stones, and taking the stones for themselves. Promises of power, appeals of lust, or brute mental assault; these were the lures used, and, in time, the stones were stolen. Once claimed, however, the thieves found themselves patsies to, and now hosts of, the entities bound within. Through these hosts, the entities were able to take full physical manifestations.

Now calling themselves the Teufel (or "Demons" by the peasantry, as they spit and make several warding gestures), they sought nothing more than to sew fear and destruction through out the ages. Some formed cults, others played games of chess with city-states as pawns. Still others turned the weak minded into murderous psychopaths. Several groups have risen to defend against them, yet all eventually fall, the stones they took possession of returning to circulation.

Interestingly, should conflict arise between the Teufel, lines seem to be drawn along aett membership.

Listed below is overview information on the Teufel. More indepth information on each to follow as warranted. They are known to have three physical forms: that of the host, that of the Tuefel in full, and a hybrid of the two forms. While in hybrid or true form, a mark of the Teufel's rune burns dully on their skin. While the rune names are used for individual Teufel when needed, feel free to create your own by mashing the keyboard randomly, then adding random apostrophes - because fantasy names.

A smarter man would have shortened this list by aetts. I've started this and stopped, several times, overwhelmed by the amount of work I've bit off. I've learned a lot about production management and setting timing goals in writing this thing. Or, rather, I've encountered these problems. It is likely I've learned nothing from this.

Rune
   A humanoid with multisegmented legs, matted rusty fur hiding rows of barbs, an over broad head bound in a carapace and flesh with a mouth poorly stretched around two mandibles, dripping a foul viscus fluid, and two burning green eyes. Hosts tend to be wealthy individuals, whether suddenly or old money. In both host form and teufel form, any treasure given out freely is cursed. Holder of the treasure should make a Save vs Magic per hour, until the curse is triggered. Once the curse has been triggered, the treasure is no longer cursed.

Rune
   The beasts stands a foot or more higher than the host, bearing the legs and head of an ox, though the chest of human, matted in thick fur. Onyx horns grow from the side of the head, tipped in gold. Its eyes, nose and mouth constantly drip blood. The host enjoys significant increased (+4) physical attributes, significant lowered (-4) mental attributes and the ability to perform bull rush attacks. They also gain a lust for brutality.

   In an ancient age, the Mad King Tryggvason received the uruz stone as a coronation gift. Where his father's reign was known as a time of peace, his is noted for the violence and suffering forced onto the kingdom by the king. Myth states he built a hidden maze under the capital city, in which he hunted humans for sport.

Rune
   A hulking, hunched over, blue thick-scaled reptilian humanoid monstrosity, armed with five inch claws on each finger. Lighting arcs across the beast's body, occasionally leaping to near by things, allowing the host and demon to apply electrical damage to their attacks. Externally sourced electricity tends to provide healing. The host also gains a controlled and moderately uncontrollable (save based, when angered) ability to enter a Rage state.

   There is a  tale of an old man that stalks the ruins through out the Pass of the Thunder King seemingly searching for something. The old man, if encountered, will offer hospitality, but inevitably grow short in temper, casting the adventurers back out in the harsh weather of the pass. In short order, the old man summons a hulking beast and a monstrous storm to hunt down those who provided the offense. None are known to have escaped the beast. So...how do these stories get back to be told? Same way they always do.

Rune
   A speaker of honeyed words (a constant charm effect), the host form tends to have the ear of a king, general or other person of power. The transformation to teufel form involves the peeling of skin and sickening shifting of bone. The head elongates and sprouts four extra eyes, the hair melding into fleshy tendrils. Along the body further tendrils sprout. Each of these flesh stalks - including the tongue in the skull - split open on the tip, revealing a mouth. As the beast moves, the mouths whisper  secrets and taunts; lies and truths.

Rune
   The monstrosity appears as the host, but with six extra arms growing from their abdomen, multi-jointed backwards; their legs merged together, bending the wrong way around into a crude stinger tail, tipped by bone spikes generated from their feet. They crawl on their backs, neck twisted 180 degrees. Their lower jaw splits open, creating mandibles dripping with a thick green toxin. This toxin allows for a Poison attack via bite and stringer, which offers the standard Save vs Poison to resist, and causes paralysis and eventually death.

   Centuries ago, the beast ravaged a countryside, poisoning the fields and water, praying upon livestock and peasants alike. Farms were razed, meadhalls abandoned. A passing band of gallowglass heard of the destruction and sought the beast out. What they found was a maddening cave of gore and horror. Quivering sacks of flesh, pools of poison, shifting caverns that doubled back on themselves and, at the center of it all, the beast. Before confronting the monster, the leader of the men sent the survivors to find their fallen alchemist's supplies and, as he distracted the creature, bring the cave entrance down. Neither were seen again, though the land remains uninhabitable.

Rune
   Walking upon festering, cracked hoof legs; wearing thin stretched yellowy skin over a lithe frame; and having a horse skull for a head, Kaunan is the Plague that Walks. Where he walks ruin follows. Plants wilt and die, milk curdles in the teat, livestock begin to rot while still alive, peasants grow festering wounds.  Standing ten feet tall, it is capable of belching forth a cloud of disease (once per hour; 20ft radius; Save vs Poison) as well as imbuing arrows with plague (as Apollo from Greek myth; 3/day).

   Centuries ago, a strange sickness befell the small village of Krankheit. One in every three fell sick. The king, in his grace, sent his very own physician. Arriving in customary plague garb - bird mask, brim hat, overlong robe - the physician took the old town meeting building as his ward. At first, it seemed relief had finally arrived to the town. Yet, despite the efforts of the plague doctor, the plague grew worse. Or, rather, it simply grew. It spread to the live stock, the plants, the very ground. A purple, spore releasing weed slowly grew from the town hall.  And then, most disturbingly, the dead began to walk. The mass graves emptied themselves, the newly deceased rose from their sick beds. In fear, the people sought out the doctor. What they found in his stead, however, was the Kaunan tuefel.

  A sole survivor was found miles from the town, suffering and in pain. Based on the account he relayed, the king ordered a wall built around the town. Since then, the wall has been guarded by the kingsmen, and expanded out of necessity twice - to attempt to hold off the spread of the strange weed. The tuefel has not been seen since, but no one has had the steel will to journey into the town to check.

Rune
   In teufel form Gebo appears as a figure covered in pink, wet, burned-healed flesh, lacking hair, eyelids, nose, ears and nails. On occasion the skin can be seen to squirm of it's own accord. Other times - the bad times - the skin can be seen to peel away from the body in strips, exposing the leaking flesh underneath, and lashing out as if tentacles. Further, should any weapon (missile) strike the sticky wet skin, the holder of said weapon makes a Save vs Paralysis/Resist Disarm, or have the item wrenched from their hands (missiles, obviously, do not get this save). The aforementioned skin tentacles can then easily weld these weapons.

Rune
   Unlike the transformation of the other teufel that usually involve the slow and subtle changing of features, the transformation for Wunjo involves the host literally vomiting their insides up, until the expelled quivering mass of flesh inhales the remains of the host, before solidifying into a lithe form with cloak like black molting wings for arms, and a horned raven head. Black, fermented ichor spills from its mouth as it speaks. Strange parasites crawl in and out of the feathers. Those that come in physical contact with the creature suffer from a hangover, though all within 30 feet find it hard to remember the encounter later.

Exposure to the ichor causes permanent memory loss.
Exposure to the parasites bestows (on a failed save) a blood borne disease that causes uncontrolled dancing.

Rune
   While most teufel forms are fairly consistent, Hagalaz's form alters based on the dead in the surrounding area, as they crawl from their resting spot and join the collective form. Due to this, Hagalaz is typically composed of animals, however in urban areas it tends to be more humanoid form. Which ever form it takes, Hagalaz carries the ability to bestow unlife onto corpses around them, from zombie to bone golem  when fresh bodies are hard to find. Often works in conjunction with Kaunan.

Rune
   A creature of pure, twisting shadow, Naudiz is rarely encountered directly. His power, however, when encountered, is rarely forgotten. The teufel is able to bend light and shadow to form the most believable illusions, showing the victim their greatest fears, pried from the depths of their very souls. So fine is its control over the illusions that it can show one adventurer an image of their mother peeling her own skin off before disemboweling herself while never losing her ever widening smile, whilst the rest of the party watches helplessly in imaginary chains as the original party member is swallowed whole by a (real??) flesh worm.

Rune
  Appearing as a Large, vaguely humanoid form of solid ice, save for the host trapped frozen within, Isaz is a slow moving force of nature.  Any water based substance that touches (including blood) freezes instantly, allowing for an increasing of mass and change in shape relatively easily. As an abomination of ice, fire does time and a half damage in both teufel and host form. Not exactly known for it's ability for independent thought, Isaz is often used as muscle in the plans of other teufel. The host is given little consideration.

Rune
   On first sight, Jera appears to be the host from the waist up, and a large, swollen locust from the waist down. Though, on a closer, more awful, second look, they're revealed to be entirely composed of locusts, of various size and colors, squirming and crawling over one another. At will, the teufel can explode into a swarm and control said swarm with full proficiency, and can strip a corpse of all flesh in mere moments. When in this state, Jera attacks as though a breath weapon (save or be bit for 1d8), and can only be damaged by area effects.

Rune
   Often confused for a Bla-Maor of the southern Highsunlands by the untraveled peasantry, Ihwaz appears as a bald, muscular, figure standing seven feet tall with deep obsidian skin and glowing red eyes. It rarely speaks, and prefers being hosted by mutes, but when it does it speaks in a voice as deep as stone slap sliding over burial vaults. Ihwaz grants the ability to cast and read the runes with complete accuracy, however all divinations are grim and of ill portent. Consider it a Bestow Curse [Pretty Fucked] if you're needing more detailed mechanics.

Rune
   Appearing as a floating sack of flesh with a subliming form and trailing, elongated arms, the body doted with a plurality of eyes, and a maw lined with needle teeth, Pertho allows the host to summon spirits of the dead, and compel them to speak. With this ability, the teufel has formed many cults through out the ages, tempting the followers with ability to speak to lost ones once more.

Rune
   Standing a noble seven feet tall, Algiz appears as a humanoid covered in short brown fur with a deer's head, the antlers of which are shedding and bloody. A flame burns eternal between the antlers, yet produces no heat and only the faintest of light. Those posessed by it gain access to magical abilities  and arcane knowledge (+3 level). They also gain the desire to wear nothing but fine magical robes.

   Little is known of Algiz, as it prefers to work behind the scenes, in support of other teufel plots.

Rune
   The host's hair burns away as scales erupt from their skin, their legs elongating and forming a twelve foot tail. The eyes are completely replaced with fire. A ridge of bony spines runs from the base of the neck to the tip of the serpentine tail. The upper torso, besides the scales and spines remains mostly the same. Anything the teufel touches takes fire damage; parchment burns, metal heats up hot enough to brand, leather...does whatever leather does when heated. Smells delicious? Weakens it, surely. Further more the teufel is immune to said fire, and even has some control over nearby fire sources (as thematically appropriate). The cold, however, strikes at his heart doing damage and a half again.

   Some scribes attest that the burning of the Knowledgehoard of Wissenstadt - famed for being the largest collection of human works of art, literature and research - to a failed attempt by the Brothers of the Sworn at exercising a pyromancer bound to sowilo, in order to imprison the teufel and secure the stone. Along with hundreds of lives, many rare secrets were lost that night, as the collections of scrolls and codices provided fuel for the raging fires.

Rune
   Ill doom falls upon the community in which Tiwaz takes residence. Magic falters, artisans lose their passion, the common folk become disinterested in their various duties. Continued contact with the teufel imposes cumulative penalties to Mental attributes as minds dull, communication becomes difficult, cleverness is lost (only restored via Remove Curse).  As the small folk don't tend to be strong in the mental functions, towns soon devolve into roaming hordes of angry, grunting thugs.
 
   In transformation, the hosts body twists like a washrag, with all of their limbs splitting in two, gaining length and ending in spikes. Despite being elongated and wrapped around its head, the teufel suffers no hindrance in sight or speech.

Rune
   While the host is always a striking lovely young woman, the teufel appears with a broad, eight-eyed, four mandible mouth full of barbs, on an eight limbed body. The four limbs not shared by the host end in the needle sharp points, and gore webs between each of the limbs.
   In host form, it fully understands the power its physical attributes carry, and will use them in full to carry out its plans. In teufel form, it is fond of lounging in a web of arms and tormenting victims trapped in cocoons of flesh, through injecting them with venom and slowly, agonizingly melting their insides to eventually be drank.
   While rare, on occasion the host can become pregnant. When carried to full term and excreted from her flesh womb, the spawn almost always come out wrong. Too short limbs, tails, tiny horns - all possible deformities. There has only ever been one to come out perfect and passable for human, and he is her Favorite.

   Should she ever find herself in dire straits and at least one of her less favorite children be alive in the world, she need only climb into her armweb, which can then fold in on itself, smaller and smaller, into a singularity. The armweb, and her, will then erupt violently from the offspring, killing it and making a general mess of the area.

Rune
    Gifts the host with extreme speed, but also curses them with a short temper and the ability to be summoned by Mannaz. When in demon form, the host's skin splits and peels away as Ehwaz crawls out, a skeletal horse with eight legs and constantly on fire (has resistances like skeletons). Burning hoof prints mark the ground upon which it walks. Fire belches forth from the bone jaws (Breath Attack, every 1d4 rounds).

   When mounted by Mannaz, Ehwaz gains several additional abilities. Fire solidifies into armor on the skeletal flanks, burning any whom might touch it (save Mannaz) and providing protection. Bull like goring horns burst forth from the horse skull, allowing for an additional attack. Liquid fire drools from the mouth of the horse.

Rune
   Appearing as the host, but with rotten and decaying skin, blood maggots swimming in and out of the flesh. Mannaz, however, when in teufel form, prefers to don bone plate armor over its horrific visage - the suit always having a helm of a human skull fused with ram horns. The teufel bears attack progression as a fighter, and when in the bone plate can sacrifice pieces to force the opponent to reroll damage. On a critical hit, Mannaz has a chance of stealing a bone from the target and replacing the missing piece (through a failed Save vs Magic, obviously). When pieces are missing, however, he gains the ability to attack using the blood maggots, which very much want to burrow into the heart of whom ever they land on. Failed save victims have 1d3+2 rounds before the maggots get to the heart to drink up all the blood within.

Rune
   The head of the host takes the form of a cephalopod with over large eyes and ten tentacles, two of which are three times as long as the rest, encircling a barbed filled mouth, that constantly oozes a thick viscus substance. The body is covered in chromatophores allowing for a Skilled blending into the environment (5-in-6). When in a panic, Laguz can expel a thick cloud of nauseating ink, that both blinds and hinders it's opponents. Further, while uncomfortable, the host has the ability to breathe underwater.

   While not known for one specific event, Laguz tends to take a pleasure in hired killing, considering it a form of art. Perhaps the truest form. Hosts tend to be already skilled assassins. The last known host was rumored to be Longshot Cecil, a member of the Rocktown Assassin's Guild.

Rune
   A bloated, hulking, malformed toad of a thing standing ten feet tall, with gelatinous rolls of fat, hunched shoulders, and pale sickly skin constantly dripping with mucus. A neckless head bears a hinged bullfrog mouth full of needle teeth that is capable of swallowing a small calf whole and two eyes larger than melons. What makes Ingwaz truly terrible, however, are the pox marks covering its back. Evidence of the thinly scab sealed puss sacks underneath it, each mark is an exit point for a one inch, plump, tendriled worm, which, when introduced into the cranial cavity of a host, proceeds to grow its tendrils into the nerves of the host, soon gaining control over them.

Rune
   Appearing as an androgynous humanoid with alabaster skin and a face void of features, save for a ring of cataract filled, lazy dead eyes that encircle the head. While the eyes are physically incapacitated, they offer the host/teufel normal vision in 360 degrees, albeit colorless. Although Othila floats a couple feet off the ground, as touching said ground would sully Othila, it lacks actual capacity for flight. In the rare instance it chooses to speak, it's shrill voice seems to come from within the listener's head.
   While playing host to this stone, the host gains a wealth of arcane and forgotten knowledge, though lucidity may be an issue.

   In the times when prophecy and divination come in fashion, one may find the Brothers of the Poisoned Eye lurking in major cities. Appearing as a social club, they are actually a cult in service to Othila, worshiping it as a deity and, in exchange for their devotion, the teufel teaches the followers the art of divination.

Rune
   A figure of pure light, Dagaz offers the host the ability to see into other realities, even though the way be traditionally blocked. From this the host can glean knowledge of people they couldn't otherwise have, using this (giving bonuses) to persuade or intimidate the target. This ability may also be weaponized. On a successful touch, and failed save by the target, the target is filled with glimpses of other realities. Visions of their infinite failures and uncountable insignificance flood the mind of the target, staggering/stunning them for 1d3 rounds. On a critical and failed save, the target is driven to suicide because, after all, what does it matter? What does anything matter?

Variants 


While I'm personally against its usage, if you're of lesser moral character, you could use the blank stone:

Rune:
   While not actually a rune stone, some sets of lesser integrity hold a blank stone to represent the unknown or unforeseeable. While this seems in contrast to the nature of a divination tool, the set used all those centuries ago contained one. Through dual slit irises, its eyes glow softly with the color of void. Its voice echos with the sounds of burning suns and existential probability. This teufel has only ever had one host, who, upon binding the other teufels to stone, set out to burn his name from existence. In his presence probability and chances tend to alter. Sure Things tend to become Far Shots, and One in a Million Chances happen Nine Times Out of Ten.

Another potential variation is instead of voluntary possession caused by whispered temptations, the stones act as Magic Jars, forcing the hosts out of their bodies and trapping within the stones. How awful would it be to watch the hulking horror melt into an ectoplasm covered old man, who proceeds to vomit up a strange stone, just as the tank screams in pain and begins arcing lightning off themselves? Very much, that is how awful.

Originally, the thought was to have these demon bound to tarot cards, but then flavors and ideas changed. Using that idea is simple enough, however. The above demons are bound to the Major Arcana, while the Minor Arcana is host to minor demons without names. These minor demons provide bonuses to the host based on the card value (divided by 4, round up) and to the attribute represented by the suit.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rent-A-Spell


Are you tired of dealing with piles and piles of scrolls taking up your precious inventory slots?

[Scene of dwarf becoming covered in an avalanche of scrolls, throwing his hands up in hopeless despair]

Are you tired of the Magic User handling all the arcane utilities?

[Scene of a screaming wizard tied helpless to an alter, having his heart carved out for the glory of Xl'azz the Ever Hungry. Zoom in on the dwarf from before, caged and helpless to be sacrificed next, his hand on his hips, shaking his head over exaggeratedly]

Well then come on down to Rent-A-Spell and rent yourself a spell!

[Scene of Magic Users sitting around paper work and arcane knick-knack covered desks, looking mostly board; all of them smoking pipes]

We've got the best trained professionals, waiting to imbue you with the highest quality spells, for half the cost of a scroll. From Airy Water to Wizard Lock, we've got them all!* And they're waiting for YOU!

[Scene of the same dwarf rubbing his beard while looking at a sack of gold, then nodding eagerly and handing it over to a Magic User seen in the previous scene]

No more will hordes of needed scrolls be taking up inventory slots that could be holding treasure instead.

[Return to avalanche scene. The mountain of scrolls vanish with a ting! leaving on the startled and surprised dwarf.]

No more will you be relying on the party's Magic User for the most awkward situations.

[Return to sacrifice scene, wizard is now eviscerated, the lead cultist holding his innards up to the idol of Xl'azz the Ever Hungry. Zoom in to the dwarf from before, now whispering to the cage lock, casting Knock. The door swings open as the dwarf gives a thumbs up to the camera.]

So come on down to Rent-A-Spell, across from Honest Hanks "Horse" Haberdashery, and pick out your new spell, today! 

(Service and processing fees apply)


"What?" You might be asking, with good reason. I was reading through LotFP spells and noticed Bestow Spell Ability. Seemed a good way to make money, if'n you had an over abundance of unemployed Magic Users.



* Summoning spell not available. We're not messing with that hassle. Strange Waters 1 currently out of stock. 
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