30 August 2011

Of Eleves and Dweorgs

When old was new and ancient young, the Elemental Forces collided and the World was made. The World was fertile and rich, vegetation and plants grew. Over ages, one of the plants began to walk and millennia later gained sentience, they called themselves eleves. As these eleves became wise and powerful they sought more knowledge in the depths of the earth. However dependent on the rays of Father Light, the eleves could not delve deep in the earth. They used forbidden sorceries to mold a figure of rock into whose carbon veins they poured magma and the dweorg woke. The dweorg dug deep into the earth and found treasures untold, soon surpassing their creators in the makers craft. The eleves were initially proud of their servitor creations but pride turned to jealousy as the dweorg made more and more beautiful things. Out of pride the eleves turned to more life crafting, trying to make more beautiful things by forming the beasts of the land and the birds of the air. After eons of slavery and haphazard elevish life crafting the dweorg learned to craft themselves and rebellion ensued.

Both sides accuse the other of making the most horrible of weapons during the centuries of war. Foremost among these horrors were the drakes, for which no agreed upon description has ever been made. Many agree that they were great beasts whose scant parts not covered by fangs, claws, horns, and spikes dripping with venomous ichors, instead bore blade-like scales while traveling on silent wings. No one knows for sure, as all who have seen them are either slain or their faculties are so cowed by the drakes fearsome physiology that they recall only fragments of what they think they saw. Both sides deny responsibility for the gobelin-kind, a horror lesser in scale but greater in number, a humanoid plague. Foul and deformed the gobelin can only breed through shedding of its blood which carries its infectious seed. Woe be to the living thing exposed to the gobelins' vital fluid, for they become rapidly infected growing great buboes from which spring more rapacious gobelins. Both sides failed to conquer death, in their wartime experiments crafting instead a solution worse than the problem in the undead magics that brought a half-life back to the fallen. In this way the animate were born, to serve again and again on both sides of every conflict since the dawn of time.

In the end bonds between plant parents and stone sons were broken, the two first races never to align again. The war made free but forever bound both races to paths apart.

15 August 2011

Chapter the Seventh, Part the First: A Throw's Challenge

As the furious white wyrm froze the central core of the orrery, the stones cracked and the heroes breath was stolen in crystalline shards. At the base of the frigid tomb Tyrian and Ulmo rushed through an ornate door which they slammed behind them as the central spire of the orrery froze shut behind them. The brave companions found themselves in a chamber of well fit stone, an ancient but well kept dicing table in its center. Five dice lay spread before a cup on which was written:

Nine warriors made of wind within its core
Earth armed with creatures of half a score
Jesters of water with no mirth
Queens of the Wilds hosts only despair their hearth
Lorded over by the kings of fire
All bow down before death's ire

Roll a hand times three
Obtain as many of each as can be
Get one of three and one of four
A series large of five and series small of four
Find three and two together
Put all five as one to earn the treasure

The six faces of each dice were (1) nine black wavy lines (2) ten small red circles arranged in a circle (3) a blue two-faced jester (4) a green queen with a crown of trees (5) a red king with a crown of flames, and (6) a black leaf.

Tyrian took the first three casts choosing a hand of two aquatic jesters and the duo was transported to a water filled room with three exits. The party swam through the upper exit finding air at the end of the shaft in the room above. As they emerged in the flooded chamber they were attacked by a pack of sahguin who they beat into hasty retreat. As they exited this room, the walls shimmered and they once more found themselves before the dicing cup.

Ulmo's cast resulted in a hand of two wild queens. The pair found themselves transported to a room of similar dimensions as the aquatic maze they had just escaped, but the walls here were hidden by dense vegetation illuminated by a dim light from above. Four shafts exited this room, in the ceiling and floor as well as two opposing walls. Ulmo and Tyrian followed one of the horizontal exits and the next room found a shambling mound which fell before their combined might. This room had three additional exits, in each of the other walls. They chose the one nearest on the right, only to have the vegetation fade and once more be returned to the dicing room.

On Tyrian's next turn, his rolls yielded three burning kings and the duo found themselves in a room of familiar geometry but here the walls and ceiling were wreathed in frame. A painful heat emanated from the walls and the two quickly made their way down on of the shafts. In the hallway between the rooms, they found the flames starting to injure them and they hurried on, only to be trapped by flameskulls. The two companions faced off against three of the burning craniums only to find their way blocked by yet another of the freakish ignited undead. This one was larger and did not attack, apparently a guardian from another version of the dungeon that had been trapped in the wrong part of the constantly changing prison. Ulmo and Tyrian explored two more rooms, the second of which they were attacked by a horde of flameskulls. Facing a pyrotechnic demise they leapt down the tunnel in the floor, landing not in a fourth room of the fiery dungeon, but instead finding themselves back in the dicing room.

Ulmo's throws yielded three black leaves, and they found themselves in a room of similar dimensions with exits in each wall, ceiling, and floor but the walls were made of stacked skulls. Tyrian and Ulmo went from room to room, seemingly without end, and were surprised after the third room not to again find themselves back in the dicing room. Finally Tyrian touched one of the skulls and the hallways erupted with unlife as skeletons stacked high pulled themselves from the walls. The party wisely fled but the geometrically expanding wave of undead finally trapped them in one of the rooms. From the floor arose a three headed skeletal warrior who immediately engaged our puissant pair. The triple crowned undead drove Tyrian back into the frothing mass of skeletons in the shaft behind them while Ulmo attempted to harry the triangular terror. Tyrian smashed pate and limb as he drove his way back into the chamber to face off with the undead champion. Both grievously injured Tyrian and Ulmo nonetheless dispatched the evil and once more found themselves before the dicing cup.

Tyrian's final roll brought them through two chambers of the windswept halls of the Warriors of the Wind, before returning once more to the familiar dicing room. Ulmo's casts brought them to face the terrors of the Knights of the Earth.

After clearing the Upper Scores their next three rolls generated "a series large of five" they found themselves in a room with a single exit in the ceiling. As they surveyed the scene and planned their ascent a whirlwind formed and attacked. What followed was a swarm of windling elementals that fell before our brave bravos. They climbed to the level above finding here two connecting chambers of stone, here they faced a massive stone elemental which shattered under Tyrian's blade and Ulmo's spell. They ascended to a room above, arising onto a central platform that sloped away to two exits mostly hidden underwater. Choosing the righthanded tunnel they travelled under the water and were beset upon by more sahguin, but this time both warriors and a shaman. The two adventurers took horrendous wounds, felling the warriors but were almost finished by the shaman. They were able to escape back to the air after nearly facing a watery grave at the warlock's piscine talons. Back on the platform, they rested and regained their might. They then cut a narrow crevice into the platform and into the tunnel, lowering the water level significantly on the right hand side and flooding the rooms below. Ulmo and Tyrian now on more even breathing terms then dispatched the foul sahguin shaman.

To be continued...

The inspiration behind the of "physics" of this dungeon was the game Yahtzee. The poem above is essentially the rules of the game. For the upper scores the number of die showing the same symbol is the number of rooms before that section of dungeon terminates. Each symbol has a value between 1 and 6, indicating the number of exits, favoring exits in the ceiling and floor for geometrical challenge. Incidentally, I used Royal Flush Poker Dice rather than regular six sided dice, which inspired the poem and led to an addition to the pantheon and numerology of the campaign.