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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Black Seed

The creation of a fanatical order of dark druids intent on preserving the wilderness at any cost, the Black Seed can be a terribly destructive force. It is a small cylinder carved from some unknown wood, its surface pitted and scarred with bore marks and burls. A ring of gray stone is affixed to one end of the cylinder, and attached to this is a thin black leather thong which allows the cylinder to be worn as an amulet. If examined for magical properties, the Black Seed radiates Epic nature magic. An Epic test of divination magic will identify the power of the object, though it may not reveal the consequences of using this power.

The Black Seed has a singular power, thrice per day its owner can call forth a half-dozen tiny black seeds that trickle forth from the various burls and wormholes in the object. When cast upon the ground these seeds instantly bury themselves and begin to grow at a tremendous rate. Unplanted seeds vanish after one hour.

Each seed sprouts into a creeping weed-like plant that sends forth runners and shoots both above and below ground. These magical plants twist and bind around any cultivated plant they encounter, choking root, stem and branch in twisting, jagged tendrils. A single plant matures in a few hours, covering ten or fifteen square feet. Once mature, the plant blooms and goes to seed in the space of half an hour, each plant producing dozens of seed pods that pop open and spray their seeds up to thirty feet away, beginning the cycle anew.

Once it has cast its seed each mature plant metamorphoses into a secondary phase. Rigid, bamboo-like trunks shoot up from the ground, each sending forth dozens of thorn-lined, angular branches in all directions, creating a nearly impenetrable barrier. These plants are quite tough, requiring a heavy axe blow to sever a branch. Even fire is of little use against them, as it sears the surface but does not penetrate the plant's hard green trunks. This phase of growth culminates in a dense tangle of thorny growth, a dozen feet high, covering a vast area.

These spiky plants mature in the space of a single day, each sending forth dozens of massive blossoms that fill the air with a nauseating stench. Anyone exposed to the smell must make a Great test of toughness or be driven away, overcome by illness. These blossoms last a few hours, then quickly go to seed. Much like the original weed-like plant these seeds spray forth to cover a large area, though they are much less malevolent in nature. Each pod produces a dozen or more seeds of different types, each a species native to the area. These seeds root themselves among the creeping weeds and spiky hedges, then grow at an accelerated rate for one day before reverting to a more natural growth pattern.

A single seed will spread to cover up to a square mile before the potency of its magical growth fades. As the natural plants begin to grow the tangle of weeds and spikes begin to wither and die, collapsing into an organic sludge rich in nutrients. In as little as three days cultivated farmland can become a tangled scrub of wild grasses, underbrush and small trees, well on its way to becoming native forest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


These foul nature spirits inhabit desolate pine forests in the cold reaches, preying on any living creature that passes through their domain. Each Needle-kin is a about two feet in height, resembling nothing so much as a whipcord thin, fur-less monkey covered in hundreds of dead pine-needles. Their eyes gleam with an evil yellow sheen and they are armed with both fangs and claws. They move through the trees of their domain with unnatural speed and grace, easily keeping pace with their prey.

Needle-kin form loose packs, each inhabiting an area of two or three square miles. Any living creature passing through their territory is hunted down and slain with brutal efficiency. Needle-kin hunt both by sight and sound, herding their victims into dead ends and impassible terrain, then attacking in force. They have the following abilities and characteristics:
  • Great climbing ability - Needle-kin can traverse trees quickly enough to keep up with a running man.
  • Superb endurance - These foul spirit creatures are tireless in their pursuit.
  • Great vision and hearing - Their supernatural senses easily detect any prey within their territory. Their senses give them Great tracking ability.
  • Good claw and fang attacks - Needle-kin swarm their foes, inflicting bleeding wounds on anyone they strike. A successful bite attack requires the victim to make a Fair test of toughness or be Chilled, reducing movement speed by one rank for three rounds.
  • Good toughness - Despite their small size and apparently lack of protection, Needle-kin have tough, bark-like skin. Their partially magical nature grants them Good resistance to magical attacks, though Fire-based magic inflicts an extra rank of damage.
  • Flesh-needles - Each Needle-kin can launch the pine needles that cover their skin at foes like tiny missiles. each Flesh-needle inflicts Fair damage when it strikes, and the victim must make a Fair test of will or suffer a round of dizziness and disorientation. Needle-kin can fire up to three such missiles at a single target per round, and have an unlimited supply.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Curse of the Spilled Bag

This annoying curse was originally created by priests of a lost order who were constantly cheated by the local merchants and lords. Unable to compete on the secular side, they chose a form of divine retribution instead.

This curse has a rather subtle effect. Anything carried by the victim has a tendency to slip out of whatever container it is stored in and drop to the ground. The curse's magic conceals any fallen items from the victim as they fall, making it likely they will be long gone before they are missed. The curse activates itself randomly 1d4 times per day. Each activation affects 1d10 like items (coins, foodstuffs, etc.)

The curse is subtle enough that it requires a Superb test of divination magic to reveal its presence. Once detected it requires a Great test of dispelling magic to remove it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


These quasi-elemental creatures inhabit the still, dark waters of stagnant lakes and swamps, their nearly invisible centipede-like forms creating scarcely a ripple on the calm surface of the waters they inhabit. Each three-foot long Ripplepede has a slender body lined with thousands of feathery legs. At the head end a cluster of rigid, hooked spines line a circular mouth opening, while the tail ends in a three-pronged, flexible tail. Their transparent, nearly liquid forms skitter and crawl across the surface as they search for the rare metals they consume for sustenance. Ripplepedes are most comfortable in contact with water, but can travel on land for an hour or more with no ill effects. They travel in groups of five to ten individuals, roaming the waterways and shorelines of their habitat in search of food.

Ripplepedes have no interest in living creatures, but are drawn to any source of metal they detect. They can sense any sizable aggregation of metal within 300 feet. Their hooked jaw spines exude a potent solvent that dissolves away metal on contact, leaving a gelatinous goo the creatures suck up with their tube-like mouth. A single Ripplepede can dissolve and consume a pound of metal each round if left undisturbed.

Ripplepedes have the following characteristics:
  • Fair toughness - Their quasi-elemental nature makes these creatures somewhat resilient. They gain a one rank bonus to defense versus mundane weapons, but magical weapons quickly disrupt their rather delicate bodies.
  • Ripplepedes swim at Superb speed, but on land they crawl along at Poor speed.
  • Ripplepedes are almost transparent, giving them Superb stealth in water, Great stealth on land.
  • If disrupted in contact with a sizable body of water, Ripplepedes regenerate to full health within one day.
  • Ripplepedes consume metal by touch, dissolving and consuming about one pound of any metal, iron, gold, silver, etc. each round. Treat this attack as Great strength acid for purposes of determining resistance, though it does not affect any other substances.
  • Ripplepedes have little in the way of combat capabilities. They can strike at foes with their three-pronged tails with Fair accuracy inflicting Average damage, but they prefer to avoid combat. If discovered on land they will flee toward the nearest body of water and use their superior swimming ability to evade any pursuit.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This artifact is a left-handed glove made from the finest maroon silk sewn with hundreds of feathers from various species of birds and trimmed with rows of tiny seed pearls. The glove is sized for a fairly small human hand, and extends well past the wearer's wrist over the forearm when donned. If examined for magical properties, it radiates Great nature and enchantment magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the item's powers.

When worn Flockhand allows its owner to command any sort of avian creatures with a simple command word. When activated any bird within a 100 yard radius immediately comes to the wearer and begins circling as part of a great flock overhead. This flock can be directed by pointing or gesturing with Flockhand. The birds will move as desired as swiftly as possible. Flockhand's owner can command the creatures to attack if desired but the default behavior is to swarm and swirl around any creature they encounter, obscuring vision, panicking beasts and confusing intelligent foes. Flockhand's power can be invoked at will, and lasts so long as concentration is maintained. Birds fall to the ground after 10 minutes of continuous control, exhausted.

If Flockhand is used to incite birds to violence, they attack with beak and claws as natural creatures. The GM will have to make a determination as to the effectiveness of the assault based on the types of birds in the flock.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Staff of Limbs

This rather plain staff appears to be nothing more than a convenient piece of wood cut as a temporary staff by some traveler in need. Each end of its bark-covered length has been carefully trimmed and is slightly rounded by wear. The item's only decorative element is a strip of sweat-stained leather wrapped around the shaft, forming a convenient grip. Despite its plain appearance the Staff radiates Superb alteration and nature magic, and a Great test of divination magic will reveal its enchantment.

The Staff of Limbs can be used as a weapon in combat, serving as a quarterstaff and providing a one rank bonus to both accuracy and defense as it naturally flexes and twists in the bearer's hands to block and strike. The Staff's enchantment gives it Superb toughness, making it very difficult to damage or break.

Six times per day the Staff's wielder can call forth a fence of dead, twisted branches which surround a single target, trapping it within their grasp. This wall has Superb strength and is a permanent creation. The wall is susceptible to both fire and force. If set alight it burns with fierce heat for three rounds, causing Good fire damage each round. It requires three Superb tests of strength to batter an opening through the wall.

Twice per day the Staff's owner can speak a command word and plant it in the ground, immediately causing the staff to sprout into a mighty oak, 60 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter. A series of natural hand and footholds lead up into the tree's branches, where a natural platform large enough to hold six people comfortably sprouts hangs in the greenery. This tree remains in place until the Staff's owner speaks a second command word, instantly reverting the item to its normal form.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dead Mothers

These undead apparitions appear when a woman dies in childbirth, but her infant survives. They are shadowy female forms with long dark hair, usually dressed in fine robes or gowns of brocaded silk or wool. They only appear during the nighttime hours, moving gracefully from shadow to shadow. They could almost pass for human except for their faces, which are no more than blank white ovoids, pierced only by shadowed black pits where their eyes would be. Each Dead Mother carries a short wand or rod woven from reeds and twigs.

Dead Mothers are driven by one purpose, to find a child to accompany them into the afterlife. They prowl the edges of civilization, peering through windows and creeping into unguarded halls and rooms, looking for a newborn child to steal. Should they find such a child, they begin to stroke it with their reed wand, pulling the infant into their own shadowy realm. The Dead Mother must carry out this minor ritual on three successive nights to successfully claim the child as their own.

Dead Mothers are immune to all physical attack. They can be driven away for one night by exorcism magic or ritual (requiring a Great test of such magic to succeed). Anyone seeing a Dead Mother must make a Great test of will or be fascinated by the creature's graceful, almost dance-like, movements. Males suffer a one rank penalty to this test. When in the presence of a vulnerable infant, any female blood-ancestor of the child is immune to this fascination effect and can drive off the Dead Mother for the night simply by gazing upon their blank, white face.

Infants that are exposed to the midnight light of a full moon become immune to the appetites of Dead Mothers, and for this reason children born before midnight on such a night are considered blessed. Parents often invite a newborn's grandmothers to stay with them until the child can be properly protected to assist with guarding the infant from the depredations of these sorrowful undead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Planter of Endless Growth

This rather plain planter is made from terracotta clay. It is approximately two feet in diameter and a foot and a half in height. A relief pattern of leaves, branches and vines, highlighted with various earth-tone glazes, covers the entire exterior. The Planter's rim and base are further adorned with a coiled rim covered in gold leaf. If examined for magical properties the Planter radiates Superb alteration magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the item's sole enchantment.

To activate the Planter's power, it must be filled with fresh soil, which has been drenched with a pint of freshly drawn blood (the equivalent of an Average wound). A single mundane seed of any type is then placed within the planter and a command word spoken. When this process is complete the seed instantly sprouts and begins growing at a fantastic rate. A typical annual plant (flowers, vegetables, etc.) grow to full maturity in a few rounds, a tree or shrub takes six or seven. Once matured, the plant blossoms and produces fruit in a single round. The plant remains in this state for one hour, after which it shrivels and turns to gray dust, consuming the soil used to activate the Planter as well.

Any produce harvested from the resulting plant is wholesome and nutritious, providing the equivalent of a full meal. Once harvested the produce is subject to the normal effects of time. Delicate fruits or vegetables last a few days, more robust items lasting a few weeks.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Blade of a Thousand Edges

When first discovered this weapon appears to be some sort of club or baton. When in its passive state the Blade resembles a shaft made from a thousand or more layers of variegated metals, iron, steel, copper, and bronze. This shaft is firmly welded to a basket-shaped steel guard and thin, leather-padded hilt. A small bloodstone decorates of the pommel of the otherwise rather plain weapon. If checked for magical properties the Blade radiates Great animation and combat magic. A Superb test of divination is required to determine the process required to activate the weapon.

The Blade is useless until its powers are activated by a brief ritual, which involves the item's owner speaking a command word and holding the weapon's bloodstone pommel against their own flesh. The Blade will drain an Average wound's worth of blood from the wielder, then spring to life. The metallic layers that form the striking portion of the blade unbind and spring apart, forming a snake-like blade of spinning, shimmering, razor-sharp blades held together by flickering threads of deep red light. From command word to fully active Blade takes a full round.

Once active the Blade can be wielded as a normal weapon, but it strikes with a will of its own, twisting, spinning, extending and contracting like an enraged serpent. The Blade has the following characteristics in battle:
  • Great bonuses to accuracy and damage.
  • Any blow struck by the Blade causes Fair bleeding damage.
  • The swirling lash-like blade automatically parries up to two blows per round. Parried blows suffer a three rank penalty on their accuracy.
  • Any mundane weapon parried by the Blade has a Good chance of being sliced apart by the contact, it's fragments and pieces incorporated into the Blade's own matrix.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Army of Clay

This artifact is a collection of small clay figures, each about three inches high. The figures are primitive, but bear a certain elegance of design the belies their crude form. Each is coated with layers of brightly colored powdery glaze, chiefly blue, green and red. There are several types of figures in the collection:
  • Swordsmen - These figures are depicted wearing heavy green armor and helmet and wielding a stabbing sword and tall rectangular shield. Each figure's shield bears the faint red outline of a spread-winged bird of prey. There are 18 of these figures in the collection.
  • Spearmen - These figures wear lighter blue armor and wield a heavy two-handed spear. They also wear cloaks decorated with the same red bird of prey device as the Swordsmen's shields. There are 18 Spearmen in the collection.
  • Archers - These figures wear the same armor and cloak as the Spearmen, but wield a short recurve bow and have a long knife at their belt. A quiver of arrows hangs from their shoulder. There are nine Archers in the Army.
  • Charioteers - There are only three of these figures in the Army. Each depicts a chariot pulled by a pair of white-glazed horses fitted with red barding. A driver tends the reigns while a second javelin wielding figure stands behind him in the chariot. Both are wearing lightweight armor and cloaks similar to that worn by the Spearmen.
The entire Army is contained with a shallow chest of black oak fitted with bronze hinges. The interior is lined with a thick layer of padded leather, which holds the figures securely when the lid is closed. A simple latch holds the chest closed. The figures radiate Epic alteration, combat and animation magic. A Superb test of divination will reveal their purpose, but an Epic test of research in ritual magic is required to unlock the process required to active the Army.

The Army is a terrible weapon of war. When the proper ritual is performed each figure comes to life, slowly growing until they reach their full height of about 15 feet, a process that takes several minutes. Once fully grown their commander can indicate their foe which sets the Army on it's inexorable path. The army moves as a unit, each figure assuming a position within the ranks and striding toward the target at a steady pace with military precision. As they approach they change formation to suit the terrain and tactical situation. Once set upon their course the Army marches until they engage the targeted foe, fighting until either their foe is destroyed or they are shattered.

Each figure in the Army is a terrible engine of destruction, fighting with Epic skill. The Archers and chariot-riding Javelineers fire and hurl magical missiles that can crack stone walls with ease. Each figure has Epic toughness and armor and Great resistance to mundane weapons. The figures are immune to fire- and cold-based attacks. Figures continue to attack so long as they have limbs to strike with. Should a figure be rendered inert it will shrink to its original three inch height. All figures revert to their small size once the battle is won or all figures are destroyed. Any figure, or portion thereof, returned to the containing chest, will regenerate into a complete figure in one month's time.

Activating the Army is a Great test of ritual magic. It requires the ritualist to sacrifice the life of a blood relative and douse the Army in their blood. This ritual can be carried out once per moon at most.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blake_lennon/ / CC BY-NC 2.0