In the City Above, the Spire Lords live lives of extravagance; lives of never-ending parties and balls with only the finest vintages, the choicest of meats, and the purest of substances both mundane and magical.
Or so you guess. You’ll probably never know. You’re stuck down here on the ground where they dump all the shit when they’re done, at the bases of the mysterious mooncoral towers that support the City Above. Down here you have to look to the horizon to see the sky; the massive alabaster pedestal that supports the City Above, and from which Moonthrone gets its name, blots most of the sun and casts the streets in shadow.
You’re new to town (or not), not even at the notice of the Merchant Houses who live halfway up to the City Above, in the Mid-City, neighborhoods of terraced houses and platforms built into the sides of the alabaster towers that dot the city.
You only reached Moonthrone today (unless you didn’t). You likely passed through the fortress at the northern entrance of the city, Rustgate, where the bestial dogmen guards halfheartedly checked you for contraband (whatever that might be, they never said), and much more forcefully interrogated you about any magical abilities. If you’re a spellcaster, you were likely tested and forced to register (and pay) for papers, to prove you’re no warlock. Unless you are a warlock, in which case you either bluffed your way through, proved you’re bound to one of the city’s approved patrons, or entered the city by more circuitous means.
Oh, and you’re not a gnome, are you? If so, you better have a good disguise. Those choicest meats (or maybe purest substances) I mentioned the Spire Lords getting? Their favorite is gnome. Stuff supposedly gives you magic powers or something.
Dogmen are the descendants of humans and werewolves, the result of generations of controlled breeding by the Wizard-King Xarog Moun to produce the perfect soldiers and guards for the city of Moonthrone.
While sorcerery is not full-on outlawed in Moonthrone, sorcerers are looked at with more scrutiny than your typical wizard who attains spellcasting through rigorous study. Since the gift of sorcery often results from exposure to otherworldly energies, sorcerers are rigorously tested for signs of corruption before being licensed and allowed to enter the city, typically with a 3 day quarantine period at one of the forts at the city gates (Fort Rustgate to the north and Eastgate in the Pelt District), or on board their ship if entering by river or sea.
Furthemore, sorcery licenses have limited expiration dates, and must be re-upped every 3 months, with further inspection to check for corruption.
Also of note, sorcerers may call upon their inner magic to boost their spells, much like a warlock boosts his spell with his patron's help (see Warlock Pact Magic). A sorceror may do so using sorcery points with no ill effect, or push further with any ability that uses sorcery points once he is out of sorcery points, but doing so comes with a cost--the sorceror must roll for corruption, and risk an incursion at DM discretion (you never know who or what may be watching just beyond the boundaries between worlds).
Invoke Patron Corruption Effects
I'm not going to give everything away, the results are proprietary! But here's an overview of the basics.
1-10 Your patron must be bored with you, or maybe it’s just busy. Or not listening. Or maybe it likes to see you suffer. Whatever the case, nothing happens.
11-25 Your patron is displeased that you’ve bothered it. Your request goes unanswered, but roll again and take the corruption effect.
26-40 Some pretty messed up stuff happens to you, typically involving a permanent decrease of an ability score and/or worse effects. A limb might shrivel, or part of your brain leak out your nose, or something like that.
41-85 Some other unpleasant stuff happens to you, typically with some negative aspects, such as penalties to interactions with "civilized" society (i.e. those afraid of warlock corruption), but possibly (though for sure not definitely) with some benefits as well; typically the better the higher you roll. For example, you might grow an extra eye somewhere that makes you pretty freaky looking, but that eye might have darkvision, or let you see out the back of your head.
86-99 Roll again, re-rolling anything 40 or below. You gain the corruption effect, but can remove it for as long as you retain concentration.
100 Your patron is pleased with you! You suffer no negative repercussions, and in fact you may either remove a prior corruption, or have one of your ability scores permanently increased by 1. Roll a d6: (1) Strength; (2) Dexterity; (3) Constitution; (4) Wisdom; (5) Intelligence; (6) Charisma.
Many adventurers have been hired and brought into the city by a shadowy organization, who initially refused to identify themselves. Eventually the black leather armor clad contacts reveal themselves as operatives of the Cog, usually after a mission or two of less than "legal' missions have been accomplished.
The Cog seems to have connections to half the factions in Moonthrone. They've recently made outreach to the Folk, and have implied they have ties even as high as the Spire Lords. Some new recruits believe they are working for the Beggar's Guild, as the Beggars are the most notorious criminal organization in the city, and the Cog's "aren't we mysterious" style of hiring is in line with the illuminati style rumors that surround the Beggar's Guild. However, whether the Cog is actually part of the Beggar's Guild, secretly in charge of the Beggar's Guild, or merely have contacts to them is unclear.
Slur 4/23/17, Gnome Liberation!
Delegations from the Withered Goats and the Folk, along with some hired adventurer's, met in a secret room beneath the Hanged Witch. Battle plans were devised for a raid on a secret "gnome farm" hidden in the City Beneath. Halfway through the meeting, the mysterious Andolphus and another delegation, Father Hoya's Dreamer in the Dark cultists, arrived. Andolphus offered the use of some contraband equipment, while the cultists offered manpower to help, including a handful of monstrously corrupted insane cultists.
The raiding party (consisting of around 30-40 people after all the adventurers, Folk, and Cultists were counted) discovered a fortified cavern protected by guard towers, and holding a central fortress surrounded by garrisons, gnome holding pens, and huts of dogmen families.
The raiding party managed to take out the guard towers without setting of any alarms, and ultimately managed to free 60 pale ghost gnomes, who swelled the ranks of the Withered Goats, making the bandit gang hiding in the swamps east of Moonthrone a para-military guerilla force that Moonthrone's leaders will find increasingly difficult to dismiss.
While raiding the central fortress, the group also noticed the architecture, carved or shaped from mooncoral, did not quite match the styles seen in Moonthrone's City Below (the surface) or possibly even the City Above (the raised mooncoral platform where the Spire Lords reside). Inscribed on the walls were mysterious squiggly runes and characters.
Also, at one point Barbara the warlock his invoked his patron, Glamorfrodorfidelphiding, and something unseen may or may not have escaped into the caverns of the City Beneath.
Production has apparently been good, as more witch shine has been quietly sneaking onto the 'secret' menus of inns and taverns throughout the city!
Perceptive drunks may have noticed an increase in... off-putting, red-headed halflings rushing into and out of back alleys, filling orders at their favorite drinking-holes.
In fact, popularity may be growing enough that the City Watch may not be able to look the other way much longer. The Spire Lords are wary of anything that seems related to witchcraft or unregulated magic, for fear of incursions, so as popularity and rumors of the shine increasingly reach the City Above, there are murmurs among more forward-thinking business owners of an imminent crack-down.
As for the Widowers, I assume any player character involved has been taking on day to day duties at the shine operation hidden in the ruins of Havenbender Manor, since their last exploit (when not adventuring through the Multiverse in other NL Multiverse games of course), unless anyone wants to give me any ideas in the forums for what they might be up to.
So it’s not a regular Friday Night RPGs night, but I’ve got some free time tonight, and haven’t been able to run since Nerdlouvia so I’m jonesing for a game. Got 3 or 4 lined up for a last minute table, might be able to fit in 2-3 more if anyone’s interested. Thinking around 7 at Heroes.
The blood and essences of an unknown number of gnomes have been cooked into these cast iron pans, imbuing them with eldritch power.
Fiery Frying Pan (Rare, requires attunement)
This magical frying pan is always warm to the touch without being anywhere near a stove or heat source. If food is place in the pan, the pan heats up and can cook even without a fire present. Any food cooked in the pan is extremely spicy, even without any seasoning applied. A person who eats food cooked in the pan must make a DC 8 constitution save to avoid a level of exhaustion from the food’s kick, but if he succeeds, one time before his next meal, the eater can breath a 15 ft. cone of fire, as a red dragonborn of the same level. Or it can be used over a fire like a regular frying pan for no magical effect.
In addition, the fiery frying pan can be used as a +1 club that deals an additional 1d6 fire damage upon a hit.
Frosty Frying Pan (Rare. Requires attunement)
This magical frying pan is cool to the touch. If food is place in the pan, the pan becomes freezing to the touch, yet somehow manages to cook the food placed in it. A person who eats food cooked in the pan must make a DC 8 constitution save to avoid a level of exhaustion from the hypothermia the food induces (with disadvantage if eaten in extreme cold conditions), but if he succeeds, one time before his next meal, the eater can breath a 15 ft. cone of frost, as a white dragonborn of the same level. Or it can be used over a fire like a regular frying pan for no magical effect.
In addition, the frosty frying pan can be used as a +1 club that deals an additional 1d6 cold damage upon a hit.
The evening after Glam goes missing, watch-gnome Haggle cries out the alarm just before a pack of wolves tears through the Withered Goats base camp. Chaos ensues, as many panicking (and some sleeping) gnomes are trampled, but after a few minutes of sniffing over the terrified and confused bandits, the wolf pack disappears back into the swamp. Surprisingly, apart from some bruises, no one is injured.
Ben, the former Beggar's Guild urchin adopted by Barbara, finds a letter in his pocket. It reads:
So. "The Withered Goats," huh?
That was a neat trick you pulled magicking those gnomes out of the city. We know now of course that you weren't the mercs we thought we had hired for the job, but you seem to have done right by the little guys, so we can't complain too much, even if you did screw up negotiations with some other friends we had planned to make.
A little dog of ours heard you might have some big plans. We might be able to help.
If you're interested, meet us in the basement of the Quartered Witch at midnight, three nights from now. We may have some friends who'd like to help out.
A Murder of Marcrow
Normally Moonthrone's diminutive birdmen are easy to ignore. Just throw them a copper or a scrap of bread and they'll thank you and scurry away. But not now.
A crowd has gathered in the street at the base of one of the city's mysterious mooncoral towers. Looking up, you see maybe a hundred of the simian bird-things crawling and gliding in slow circles around a mansion built onto the side of the white spire.
A dogman city guard rides up astride his giant lizard mount and begins to disperse the crowd. "Move along, nothing to see here!" he yells, as he jumps down and sidles up next to you.
"Agern paid me good money to look the other way, but I can't let this go on much longer," he says to you under his breath. "I can give you an hour or so, three tops, then we're going in, whatever Agern says he can pay."
You've been hired by Agern Havenbender, prominent member of the Waxing Coin, Moonthrone's Merchant Guild, to rid his home of an infestation of filthy marcrow, sometimes colloquially known as rat-birds. For some reason, he wanted it done discreetly, without the City Watch's attention. That might be harder than you expected.
A witch is burned at the stake. Wanted posters of a certain known werewolf dominate the usual public postings. Sooty outlines like doorframes are being found on walls around the city, especially in the Pelt District. Are these related? Maybe.
@Lane We're after their money, not their lives; on the other hand, you gotta set a good example for your boy: can't leave any lose ends.
So the ones that get violent or seem only partially affected get a good clubbing and a shallow burial, but the real outliers (like Mr. Pile o' Gears, for example) we abandon; they've got enough problems at it is, being penniless and also monsters.
Besides, what would a monster want with gold anyway?
'Course, if the patron ever cared to chime in on what to do with the afflicted, Barbara'd respect its wishes.
Those of you who returned Door-Face to the cultists are offered two routes of escape from the City Beneath by the cultists. You may escape via a route which leads upward into to the sewers proper, from which you can easily find egress into Moonthrone's City Below, or by a longer route, likely similar to the way the Beggar's Guild caravan originally took you, which exits a cave into the swamps to the East of Moonthrone.
If you said screw those creepy cultists and left immediately from the Beggar's Guild hideout, you can climb the spiral staircase in the large central room of the hideout; after a nearly two hour climb up the stairs, you find a hole, small enough to crawl through, that exits the base of a mooncoral tower into an alleyway behind a warehouse in the Moth District. Or you could keep climbing the staircase and see what you find.
And you all, except strangely for Barbara the half-orc warlock, find your next few nights plagued by half-remembered nightmares about doors and windows.
Glamorfrodorfilding, Lord of Portals - Great Old One Patron
An entity bound in a mysterious non-euclidian realm accessible via a door where the face of the escaped prisoner known as Door-Face's face should be.
I'm hoping to get a semi-regular Moonthrone game going in the next month or so, hopefully bi-weekly, but subject to a lot of rearranging due to my schedule. Assuming all goes well, the next game should be at Heroes 1/20/17.
My goal is to have more one-shot, drop in and out games for Slurs I run at, and more serial-ish ongoing plots in other games.
I'll make a post soon for character details and if anyone is interested and drops any info there, I'll try and work character stories into the more episodic games.
In the interest of making things a little more interesting, whenever I get the chance to run again, these new death rules will likely be tried out. If I like them, this post is subject to editing and will no longer be marked tentative.
On the turn after a character falls below 0 hit points, he has the choice of either immediately rolling for death saves, or waiting for the end of combat, when companions, through medicine checks and other means, may give him more chances for successful saves. As usual, 3 failed death saves, and you're dead.
Three death saves are required to prevent a character from dying, but a healing spell, while helpful, is not enough to pop somebody right up.
Each Con save for death is made at either DC 10 or however many hit points the character is negative, whichever is greater (unless Spare the Dying is used, see below).
In addition to constitution saves, there are a number of other ways to gain the saves required to prevent dying, but other than a regular constitution save, a character may only benefit from each type of death save once.
Instead of being an instant save vs death, a healing spell or potion will count as one automatic save, and subtract from any negative hit points (possibly making later saves easier if the brings the HP to 10 or less), but even if the character is brought up to positive hit points, he doesn't for sure survive (or even wake), until he has 3 successful saves. In non game mechanics terms, even magical healing is not enough to ensure the character doesn't die from shock.
Furthermore, while any further healing may effect his total HP, a character cannot benefit from more than one auto-save versus death through magical healing, with the exception of the Spare The Dying cantrip (see below).
Spare the Dying
Spare the Dying gives a dying character an immediate save success, and brings any subsequent con save to DC 10, even if they are more than 10 hit points negative. Unlike other spells, it can stack with other healing spells as a separate death save success. (I'm toying with letting Spare The Dying straight up bring a character to 0 Hp, just for simplicity's sake, but not sold, since death should still be kinda hard, right?)
Prayers for Aid
Any character who sincerely worships a deity may call for the aid of that deity to help a dying companion, with a Wisdom save at a DC of the negative Hit points of they dying character, or DC 15 (10 if a cleric), whichever is higher. A non-cleric may only do so once per day, while a cleric May do so once for each companion who goes below 0.
After combat, another character may make a medicine check, with the same difficulty as a constitution save from the dying character (DC 10 or negative hit points, whichever greater) to give a successful death save (cannot be done during combat, as 6 seconds isn't enough time to check someone's injuries and stabilize them).
A character only becomes conscious if he makes three death saves AND has positive hit points.
Immediate Saves versus Death
There are two exceptions to the general requirements that a character make three saves to survive and gain consciousness.
A cleric may bring a character immediately back from death, alert and ready to fight, requiring no saves, by channeling divinity.
A warlock or other character with access to a magical patron may call on that patron to save a companion from death with no save, often with extra, unpredictable effects. For example, the saved character may find that he is temporarily infused with that patrons power, gaining new abilities, or maybe transformed into a monstrous beast for the rest of the fight. And of course the invoker and invokee run the risks of extra planar corruption as normal (a sure thing for the invokee, and a 50% chance for the one effected; see house rules for warlock pact magic).