Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bane Toad Ritual

The Bane Toad Ritual
some demented Medieval guy's idea of a toad
A Bane Toad is a magical creature that is created using a ritual on the night of Samhain, the same night which the Holy Church calls All Hallows Eve. Only an Evil/Chaotic Witch or Sorcerer can create a Bane Toad.

The Ritual:
During the night of Samhain, the foul practitioner takes a live toad and places it into a pumpkin which has had the pulp and seeds removed from it. Into the pumpkin is placed a pint of fresh blood, which may be the magician's or someone else's. Three Belladonna leaves are placed in with the blood. The live toad is then put into the pumpkin. The pumpkin is placed over a fire made from coniferous tree branches.

A chant is said over the components as the finally toad boils to its demise:

“In dark night I give of life that woe and ward may become a snare.
Ere one touches this creature again, methinks they should show 'ware!”

Once the creature dies, the pumpkin is removed from the fire and the admixture is allowed to cool.
Eventually the now dead toad will hop out of the gourd. Its appearance will have been altered. This newly created corruption, a Bane Toad, will have pale greenish-white skin. It continually oozes a mucus that is poisonous to the touch. It can also bite someone for the same poisonous effect. The Bane Toad will now have only one, great, bulbous red eye with a yellow pupil. The creature is now able to see not only what it could beforehand, but also invisible beings and also “see” vibrations of moving living beings in even pitch blackness.

a handsome, newly created Bane Toad

The Bane Toad is not a familiar, though its creators sometimes keep them as a pet. Its purpose it to ward and watch over a person (the creator or other) or a singular object. If anyone other than the creator of the Bane Toad attempts to harm the person warded or touch the object so warded, the Bane Toad will attempt to bite them. If a saving roll vs poison at a difficulty of -2 is not made, the person bitten or who touches the toad will become paralyzed for 1 to 6 hours. If the Bane Toad is to guard a person other than the creator, its poison will not affect them.

The object or person warded is chosen by the Witch/ Sorcerer at the time of its ritual creation. Once the person or object and the toad are joined, the toad will never willingly leave its obligation. It must be destroyed before it stops its warding. Of course, the creator or the person it wards could do so easily. Bane Toads are considered a highly prized pet and guardian by rich, decadent nobles, who will willingly supply ALL of the components, as well as a substantial sum of money to have one created for them, because of their rarity. They are considered a status symbol by those twisted enough to buy the creation of one and are handy for magicians, to safeguard their person or magical grimoire, etc. The toad will croak an alarm if the thing they ward is harmed/touched.

The Bane Toad is a ½ HD creature (1 to 3 Hit Points)
Bite for 1 HP of Damage + Saving Roll vs Poison or become paralyzed for d6 hours.
(Touching the Bane Toad also requires a SR vs Poison)


Components as related in the Bane Toad Ritual description:
  • Live toad
  • Pumpkin
  • 3 Belladonna leaves
  • Coniferous branches
  • 1 pint of freshly spilled blood

Friday, October 28, 2011

Witch Oracle - a strange and powerful NPC encounter

Just in time for Halloween:
The Witch Oracle

The Witch Oracle is a powerful sorceress. They are a rare, solitary type of witch, living in secluded places that others do not frequent. They may live in a hut in a dangerous swamp, in a hidden cave, at a ruined temple, a stormy mountain top or any other creepy, perilous and appropriate site. The point is that finding a Witch Oracle is not easy and the place where they live is fraught with enough natural dangers to dissuade the average person from approaching their lair.

A Game Master might want to include a Witch Oracle in the game when rare and vital information is needed to be acquired by a Player Character or a party of characters. Quests, recovery of valuable artifacts, knowledge of the weakness of a foe, the need to know the whereabouts of a lost loved one, etc. are all possible reasons for PCs to inquire of a Witch Oracle.

Witch Oracles are capable of foretelling future events, remotely seeing over great distances, casting curses and have secret knowledge that no one else possesses. For their information, there is always a price. Here are some possible ways of handling that:

1- The Game Master may have previously made it known that the Witch Oracle requires a specific rare item (such as a spell component that is dangerous and difficult to get – a Roc's egg, for instance)

2- The PCs may not know what it is that the Witch Oracle wants until they ask her for information, at which time, she will name her price – something that could lead the PCs into to a side-quest to get for her.

3- The Witch Oracle may demand to have sexual relations with the querent or the PC with the highest Charisma stat, if an entire party is seeking knowledge. Here is where one of the abilities of the Witch Oracle comes into play. The Witch Oracle is capable of making her appearance be that of any type of woman of any race. When the PCs first see her, she will appear as a woman of any form, with an apparent 18 Charisma. Any person seeing the Witch Oracle in this form must make a Saving Roll vs Charm or be enamored of her beauty. (“Surely the foolish people that warned the PCs of seeing the Oracle must be superstitious and mistaken!”)

Her true form is, however, extremely hideous; that of an old crone, with bugling eyes, warts, large nose or any other way in which the Game Master wants her to truly be – the point being that she is really a Charisma of 3 and extremely ugly to look upon. The crone will not reveal her true form until after the unnatural sexual union has occurred. There is a 20% chance of the Oracle becoming pregnant with a PCs child if they have relations with her. The pregnancy will last 3 months. The child born of this union will be a powerful child, mirroring both the abilities of its mother and those of the father. This could lead to some interesting adventures in the future. The child will always disdain its father and will seek somehow to make their life miserable, if not to end it! It only takes one year for the child to grow to maturity.


Anyone that kills the Witch Oracle is always cursed. This is a good rumor to spread to the PCs beforehand as a warning, to make her seem even more terrifying. No matter how a Witch Oracle dies, even if decapitated or disintegrated, etc.immediately afterwards, an audible voice will curse the specific person(s) who caused her death.

Possible Curses:

1- The PC(s) are doomed to never complete their quest!
In this case, all rolls made by the PCs will be at a minus two [-2] until the quest or adventure is completed.

2- The PC(s) will be told that they will be haunted by the Witch Oracle for the rest of their days!
If this is the case, they will have nightmares every night, slowing healing and causing exhaustion in the character(s) until an Exorcism/Banishment is performed by a high-level Cleric, which is another possible quest.

3- The PC(s) will be cursed to rot until they reach the grave, where the Witch Oracle threatens to consume their soul!
The killer(s) will begin to be covered with oozing sores and begin to rot for 1 unrecoverable Hit Point per day. This can only be removed by a combination of Cure Disease & Dispel Curse(or Chaos) being used upon the sufferer(s).


The Witch Oracle will not harm the PCs if they do as she bids and do not harm her in any way. The Oracle always has a familiar appropriate to her natural surroundings. This creature will fight to protect her to the death, if she is attacked.

An Oracle is always of equal or higher level to that of the most advanced PC and will have Magic Spells of that level (determined by the Game Master).

If treated well and her bidding is done, the Witch oracle can also give a Boon to the PC(s).
A Boon is a sort of “blessing”, such as plus one (+1) to all rolls involving a specific upcoming encounter, which will be foretold by the Witch Oracle. This is up to the Game Master's discretion and can be anything the GM wants it to be, in addition to any information gleaned from the Witch Oracle, as was originally purposed in seeing her.

A visit with a Witch Oracle should be handled as a major encounter in an adventure/quest, not merely as advanced rumor gathering or the like. A good Game Master will be able to use her to good effect in making any adventure or quest more interesting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Grand Basilica of Wisdom

This place of note is located near the heart of the ancient city of Luindel. It dates from the brief period of when Luindel was the capital of the now-crumbling Empire. The Grand Basilica is also the home church (or cathedral) of the Grand Patriarch of the Holy Church of God – one of the powerful monotheistic religions that span the regions the Empire of old has reached. Even though the Empire itself is in a state of flux (with several rulers vying for the throne) the Holy Church is very much alive and is quite influential across the lands that make up Sylvaeon.

The Grand Basilica has traded possession in history. When the invasion of the Jihadis came to Luindel during the troubled times after the War of the Immortals, the city was under seige for 3 years. Finally, the city fell and the fanatically devout Jihadis replaced the faith of the Holy Church with their own. Some of the architecture inside and outside of the Basilica of Wisdom bears the mark of this 300 year period. Crusaders eventually reconquered Luindel and most of the surrounding lands, driving the Jihadis back to the South. However, by this time, the Empire had weakened, so the Holy Church stepped in as the true binding force of much of society.

There are hundreds of shrines in the many nooks and corners of the Basilica of Wisdom. The various saints and events they are dedicated to, as well as the holy relics they contain, bring many pilgrims to visit each year. The catacombs beneath the Basilica also contain the tombs of many ancient saints and the Grand Patriarch, as well as some of the most famous Jihadis. It is rumored that great treasures that have not seen the light of day for thousands of years are waiting for the pious thief. It is also rumored that horrible creatures and spirit wards guard the tombs and treasures of the dead, so if anyone has tried to loot them, they have not returned to tell about it.

Many different faiths still thrive throughout Sylvaeon. Some of these are folk or tribal religions. The Asatru faith of the Volk of the Nordmen is one of these; which is shared by some of the Elves and Dwarves from the North. The Holy Church faces a possible Schism, because of the increase of corruption and events surrounding clerical backing of the various contenders for the Imperial throne, as well as other, more technical, theological matters. In order to stave off threats to the Holy Church and to increase harmony amongst the citizens of the Empire, the ancient Emperors called for an Ecumenical Council to be held at the Basilica every ten years – a practice that is still observed today.

Only faiths that are recognized lawfully by the Empire are allowed to join in the Ecumenical Council. The petitions of unrecognized groups to be recognized still come to the Emperor – or did- until recent events. This has caused some consternation among the Holy Church (which secretly and openly seeks to repress other faiths) and those groups which are vying to regain or ascend to prominence during the flux that has overtaken the Empire. Of disconcerting note to some is the boldness of the Chaos cultists, who have vowed to attend the soon upcoming 374th Ecumenical Council. Complete with pomp and ceremony and long-winded clerical speeches, the purpose of the Council is to iron out differences, promote harmony and to share religious insights, etc. among the various faiths of Sylvaeon. However, a dark cloud of political and religious intrigue seems to be hanging over it this time.

The Watch of Luindel is on the alert for any increased unrest regarding the Ecumenical Council, but the city Magistrate is reticent to call for the aid of Imperial Guard, because of his own political troubles. It is rumored that Crusaders and Holy Warriors of all types will show – but it is also equally rumored that dark forces are already at work behind the scenes. Even though it is supposed to represent the wonder and joy of holy understanding, the Grand Basilica has always been a focal point of religious and political intrigue as much as it has been of faith. There is much unknown history and an unknown future surrounding this magnificent structure.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Waiting For Midnight

Fog filled the air, coming in off of the bay as a shadowed figure moved through the streets. This night was like many others in the city of Luindel and night was when Adelwulf did most of his business, if he could help it. Slipping down an alley, the rogue stopped and listened for several minutes to determine if he were followed or not. The moon above was as obscured by the fog as he was below. Sensing that all was clear, he made straight for the door of the Drunken Druid inn.

Once inside, the cool damp air turned to alcohol-scented, smoky damp air – but Adelwulf found it somewhat pleasant, because it was the familiar environment where he conducted his affairs. The table at the back of the room was empty, even though the rest were filled with carousers and loud chatter. he threw his cape upon the back of the chair and sat down. This was his reserved spot at one of several establishments around town. Here at the far corner of the Drunken Druid, Adelwulf could spy out the clientele for new-comers, fresh and ready to lose their purses in a card game... or he could sift the conversations for rumors that might lead to other prospects.

Just as these thoughts flashed through his mind, the serving wench, Marie, came with his usual: a snifter of aged brandy from the unusually well-stocked reserves of this otherwise seedy-looking place. She was certainly the best thing to be seen around here. Adelwulf rose, removed his hat and bowed to her as if she were a noblewoman. She giggled as he placed the coins in her hand and let his linger upon hers for a brief moment, smiling. As Marie left, she glanced back over her shoulder at the scoundrel, but he made sure not to be seen noticing. “Another night, like many other nights”, he thought, “yet something more than fog is in the air”.

Adelwulf Volker, supposed son of a lowly baron and master of the underground world of Luindel drank a sip of his brandy … and he waited; waited in this place that he could almost call his second home... waited for his midnight appointment to enter...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Queen of the Fairies

Queen of the Fairies

Like many ancient myths, there is no clearcut or authoritative version of just who the Queen of the Fairies is and what her nature is like. The name of the Queen of the Fairies changes according to different adaptations. She has no name in the oldest times, but has been associated with Morgan Le Fey in Arthurian legends and Shakespeare called her Titania. Oberon (also spelled Auberon) is often considered her consort and the king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature.

William Blake's Oberon, Titania and Puck With Fairies Dancing

Titania. Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third of a minute, hence;
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders 
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.
(A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Act II. Scene II. Another Part of the Wood)

The Queen of the Fairies is a beautiful, cunning and commanding Fey creature of great magical power, able to assume any shape she pleases. She is sometimes said to ensnare mortal for her purposes, as in the Queen of Elfen legend of the Scottish Lowlands. Humans ensorcelled by her sometimes become a "tithe to hell", which reflects the conflict between Christianity and Paganism in those days.

In a sylvan setting in an RPG campaign, she could be a figure that lies behind happenings or has agents among the woodland creatures and her various subjects. She appears to mortals only when she desires to be seen. It would be very difficult to trap or threaten the Queen of the Fairies, as her own realm is one of particularly fey magic and possibly a dimension all to itself, where she is in absolute authority. She seems to be favorable to whom she will and as equally capricious.

Certainly the Queen of the Fairies is a fascinating and mysterious figure for any campaign, the mythology of whom has only been scratched here.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in

Yggdrasil - The World Tree

In the Germanic spiritual tradtion, Yggdrasil is the cosmic World Tree or "Tree of Life". It is a gigantic tree that rises out of the Well of Wyrd ("Destiny") and gives the universe its basic infrastructure which binds together all of the Nine worlds of the universe.

These Nine Worlds rest within its roots or branches and due to this the World Tree often serves as a conduit for travel between the worlds. Yggdrasil is often spoken of as an ash, though it was thought to have needles like a yew and also bore fruit. More likely than not the tree cannot be compared to any mortal species of tree, but may, indeed be a combination of them all.

The name Yggdrasil literally means the 'Steed of Yggr' i.e. the horse of Odin, since Yggr ( "Terrible One") is one of Odin's many names. This name refers to the nine nights Odin is said to have spent hanging from the World Tree as a self-sacrifice in order to find the Runes, as described in the Havamal (although the tree is not explicitly identified as Yggdrasil):

"I hung on that windy tree for nine nights wounded by my own spear.
I hung to that tree, and no one knows where it is rooted.
None gave me food. None gave me drink. Into the abyss I stared
until I spied the runes. I seized them up, and howling, I fell."

Three roots supported the trunk, with one passing through Asgard, one through Jotunheim and one through Helheim. Beneath the Asgard root lay the sacred Well of Urd ("Fate"), and there dwelt the three Nornir, over whom even the gods had no power, and who, every day, watered the tree from the primeval fountain so that its boughs remained green. Beneath the Jotunheim root lay Mímisbrunnr, the spring or well of Mimir ("Memory"); and beneath the Helheim root the well Hvergelmir ("the Roaring Cauldron").

Ásgard, Álfheim and Vanaheim rested on the branches of Yggdrasil. The trunk was the world-axis piercing through the center of Midgard, around which Jotunheim was situated, and below which lay Nidavellir or Svartálfheim. The three roots stretched down to Helheim, Niflheim and Muspelheim, although only the first world hosted a spring for Yggdrasil.

On the top of the World tree perched a giant eagle, (with a hawk upon its forehead named Vedrfolnir ("wind breather"), who blew the winds over the worlds with his mighty wings. The Niflheim root of Yggdrasil are gnawed at by the dragon Nihogg ("Vicious Blow"). The messenger of the World Tree (and thus between the worlds) is the squirrel Ratatosk who scurried up and down the tree between Nidhogg and the eagle, forwarding insults between them. There were also four stags feeding on the bark of Yggdrasil: Duneyrr, Durathror, Dvalin, and Dainn.

Yggdrasil is also central in the myth of Ragnarok, the end of the world. The only two humans to survive Ragnarok (there are some survivors among the gods), Lif and Lifthrasir, are able to escape by sheltering in the branches of Yggdrasil, where they feed on the dew and are protected by the tree

"The bellowing fire will not scorch them;
it will not even touch them,
and their food will be the morning dew.
Through the branches they will see a new sun burn
as the world ends and starts again."