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Nine Powers title

The Powers

The nine Powers help make the world ripe for adventuring through what they oversee: dungeons and temples, heroes and villains, monsters and secret societies, artifacts and quests. They also cause adventures to sprout through their overlapping interests and authorities. Exciting and daring events happen as they vie for influence by trying to convince, manipulate, trick, or coerce significant characters.

PowersDungeonsContestsChampionsGiftsMonstersWondrous Feats

When the world was new, in the Age of Greatness, the Creator made three Powers to oversee mighty heroes...

Yarnspinner Enchanted Forest Bardic Competitions Story Finders Annotated Maps Witches Forensics
Achiever Memorials Sporting Events Oathsworn Passports Bigbeasts Animal Styles
Speleoth Caves Round Trips Elementalists Scene Recorders Oozes Movement

The Age of Goodness began when the Creator made Powers to help ordinary people also seek out adventure and challenge...

Maw Lute Dragon Lairs Treasure Hunts Buskers Panoplies Dragons Music
Little Humble Isolated Keeps Wild Hunts Errants Serendipity Bags Bugaboos Minimalism
Futhorc Faded Realms Faded Hunts Casters Spell-Scrolls Echoes Spell-Scroll Use

In the current age, the Age of Troubles, the Creator made Powers that encouraged and equipped violent people...

Gnash Mansions Last One Standings Bounty Hunters Necrotic Weapons Undead Pursuit
Voker Provocations Revokings Evokers Invocations Convocators Advocacy
Frosty Kostkey Ice Fortifications Zip Tag Games Remotes Oversprings Abominables Metamachinery

The nine Powers are above mortals. But they can be encountered by those brave enough to seek them out. They more often affect events subtly, within the deepest layers of intrigue, as they compete to expand their influence. The Powers can manifest with physical bodies. Each can only observe the location in which it is present, but can instantly travel to any place they have previously been. They cannot be killed, but can be wounded if cut by weapons whose blades are made of the mineral jadeite.

The world of Spyragia has a background of myths rooted in fact. Its people know many stories of ages past that grant them a sense of identity and purpose. Although these stories may have details that are inaccurate, overall they are trusted because they involve the Creator and the nine other Powers, all of which are still active today. Thus religion is an integral part of most lives and most people are actively devout. Both individuals and groups have important reasons for giving devotion, service, and worship. Religious activity helps individuals to find comfort, experience joy, receive guidance, build identity, and gain a sense of purpose.

Unlike in many fantasy role-playing game settings, the Powers do not correspond to character races or classes. (It is not true that all Dweorgs worship Speleoth, all machinists worship Frosty Kostkey, etc.) This allows more subtle and realistic conflicts. For example, the people involved a legal dispute might argue about which Power's temple should help resolve their case: one party might favor Gnash's strict justice, another Achiever's acceptance of ongoing conflict, a third the non-materialistic perspective of Little Humble.

Because the Powers are not tied to races or professions they can be used to allow adventures to spotlight or evaluate spiritual and moral topics: issues such as contentment, temptation, pride, faith, forgiveness, and service can be woven into adventure plots and character personalities to create a setting more worth talking about. (This must involve the nine created Powers rather than truly divine beings, for the realities of knowing and following the divine contradicts the types of suspense and uncertainty necessary for a fun RPG adventure.)

Jadeite is one of the two minerals commonly called jade. According to some Chinese legends, jade weapons can harm mythical or immortal monsters and people.

The Creator link to here link to tables of contents

The Planner of Planners spoke to me,
But not about the plan.
My spouse was ill, I shouted complaints,
I asked, "Please help! You can!"
The Creator only told me a joke,
My spouse giggled for days.
Did that laughter help my spouse to heal?
Can a miracle be a phrase?
    - Therion nursery rhyme

Cultural Significance

The Creator is called "Planner of Planners" because the Creator's plan for the world will eventually be fulfilled in every detail despite the agendas of people and of the Powers.

The Creator's plan is secret, wise, and inevitable. Yet the Creator desires the chocies made by mortals to change the pace and manner in which these plans unfold. So questions abound! Which events and circumstances are among the plan's details? When will prophetic events unfold? At what pace will the plan progress? Where will key events take place? Why did the Creator want nine specific themes to have extra significance and intentionality, and for those created a Power?

The Creator maintains no dungeons, sponsors no contests, chooses no champions, creates no monsters, grants no wondrous feats, and gives no gifts besides an occasional conversation.

The Creator apparently does not mind that so many people take being created for granted. According to some philosophers the Creator owns everything because crafters own the items they craft. Other philosophers claim the Creator gave each part of creation itself as gift, so everything owns itself. The Creator has not spoken up in favor of either view.

The Creator has ultimate authority and patience. Exasperated people often proclaim "May I have the Creator's patience!"

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

The Creator is the only divine being: existing before creation and responsible for the world's existance and fate. The Creator knows everything, can observe any place, can do anything.

The Creator still acts, yet prefers to remain subtly hidden. Usually the hand of The Creator is only recognized in hindsight.

Although The Creator's actions are ambiguous, spoken prophecy is always clear and public. On the rare instances when The Creator reveals more about The Creator's plan for the world, this always happens with hundreds of people hearing, and time after the proclamation to answer questions.

The Creator recently revealed that the island of Theralin is the geographical center of the world of Spyragia. The Creator then prophesied that the island would be instrumental in the upcoming creation of a tenth Power. At the time the island only had a small village. But the village quickly grew as people flocked to the island to search out its secrets and perhaps witness its prophecy unfold. It became Arlinac Town, now one of the region's busiest and wealthiest ports.

Appearance

The Creator uses no visible form—not even in dreams—and has no gender (and is referred to by name instead of using a masculine or feminine pronoun). The Creator cannot be physically touched or hurt.

A group of strange yet similar legends describe a special doorway through which the Creator will some day enter the world in bodily form. Differences among these legends include what the doorway is made of (diamond, gold, pure light, etc.), where it will be located, and what this arrival will signify.

Worship and Groups

The Creator enjoys when mortals speak to him aloud. The Creator will sometimes reply privately using a quiet tone that seems very like normal thought except that it could never be mistaken for anything but the Creator's voice. Many replies are humorous truths the hearer would never have otherwise deduced or imagined.

The Creator refuses recognition or worship from temples, shrines, or altars. If a mortal tries to build one for the Creator then the Creator will knock it down with lightning, a small meteor, or a well-aimed giant watermelon.

A small and belittled sect named Primary Laud claims that only the Creator is worthy of worship. They do so with proclamations and shouting.

The Creator is neither good nor evil, helpful nor hindering, generous nor demanding. Yet the Creator and the Creator's plan are wise, noble, and foundational. Because the Powers and other forces struggle to influence the pace and details of this solid plan the world becomes planned yet uncertain, noble yet corrupt, and overseen yet dangerous: a setting ripe for heroism and adventures!

Yarnspinner link to here link to tables of contents

Take a drink, take a seat, and listen to my tale.
Dangers loom yet bravery shines and unfortunates prevail.
Hope and justice win again, it warms you like your ale.
"Life should be like that!" you say,
Then I agree and start my play.
Enjoy your stay.
Pray do not fail.
    - on a painted sign at an entrance to the Enchanted Forest

Cultural Significance

Yarnspinner was created at the dawn of the Age of Greatness to oversee stories and histories, to help immortalize great deeds, and to encourage worthy fictions.

His dungeons are adventures in the Enchanted Forest, his contests are bardic competitions, his champions are Story Finders, his gifts are annotated maps, his monsters are witches, and his wondrous feats involve forensics.

The teachings of Yarnspinner ask people to define themselves in part by the stories they tell about their family and culture.

As the patron of stories and cultural histories Yarnspinner watches over libraries, museums, theatres, taverns, and campfires. Directors pray for his favor. Curators pray for his insight. The guards at libraries, museums, and theatres and the bouncers at taverns pray for his assistance in doing their duties—and his appearance if they encounter more than they can handle.

Many people compliment a well told story with "Yarnspinner would love that!" and ridicule a poorly told story with "Not even Yarnspinner could belive that!".

Interacting with Yarnspinner

Yarnspinner is the most accessible of the Powers. He personally greets each person wishing to enter the Enchanted Forest. He is also easy to meet in Arlinac Town. He uses many appearances, but always wears a gold brooch to make his identity clear.

Yarnspinner has no allies or enemies among the other Powers.

Yarnspinner seeks to promote self-efficacy in his followers. The concept of obedience is foreign to his worship. His followers either enter the Enchanted Forest seeking adventure or they do not; his worshipers either travel to meet him or they do not. Some philosophers speculate that Yarnspinner does not understand "worship" because he knows his own worth and does not care if others ascribe worth to him.

However, Yarnspinner does appreciate two types of gifts. He loves when his worshipers visit him to tell him a story. He also treasures being given items of historic value that were recovered from abandoned buildings, neglected attics, or old ruins: these he returns to their rightful owners if possible, or gives to a museum if not. (He usually does not do this personally, but makes this the goal of someone else's annotated map quest.)

As Arlinac Town grew in size and importance, Yarnspinner observed that it was a current locus of stories and an appropriate place to dwell. He adopted an inn named Crashing Place. Yarnspinner can often be met inside, lounging in the common room near the huge fireplace, listening to guests and drinkers. The inn has grown in size and developed physical properties that defy logic. Not only is it now much bigger within than it appears from outside, but it stands in every district of Arlinac Town. (Those who have learned the secrets of its doors can pass through the inn as a shortcut when traveling through the town.) Its floors and rooms are many, and its hallways often extend in impossibly contradictory directions without crossing. Anyone who ascends past the ground floor and tries to hide is automatically successful: only Yarnspinner can find that person. Many stories are told in the inn's common room. After an exceptionally well told tale, Yarnspinner will stand and crash his glass into the fireplace to show his approval. Others in the common room often follow his lead. Less commonly, a person about to tell a story will preface it by crashing his glass into the fireplace as a call to attention, a plea that the upcoming account is personal and meaningful and even if not told well should be heeded as vitally important to the teller.

Yarnspinner is not based on any legendary figure. But a Power in charge of stories, focusing on traditional fairy tale tropes and settings, is worth including!

The name "Crashing Place" refers to both a place to sleep (informally, people "crash" there for the night), the noise of the glass mugs breaking in the common room fireplace, and how the inn serves as a refuge for people facing desperate situations (they have "crashed and hit bottom").

Crashing Place has some characteristics similar to Callahan's Crosstime Saloon but lacks the remarkable empathy of the characters of those stories—a lack which really makes the two places not alike in any important way except in tribute.

The Enchanted Forest link to here link to tables of contents

The Enchanted Forest is a magical place near Arlinac Town, in the southeast Theralin island. It has impenetrable borders except for a few paths that are sunny and clear. Inside Yarnspinner creates all manner of fairy-tale-like adventures.

People who enter the Enchanted Forest without focusing on a desire or goal will travel along a boring path while encountering nothing, or perhaps find that the path engages in twists and turns that soon lead out of the forest. But travelers who enter with a desire or goal in mind soon have an adventure whose difficulty corresponds to the size and significance of their objective. Yarnspinner will also structure the story they follow and the challenges they meet so that they learn and grow more than they intended.

Many people who quest in the Enchanted Forest initially desire a goal that will not truly help them. To these adventurers Yarnspinner appears as a character in one of his own stories, wearing a gold brooch to signify dual status as character and narrator. A candid discussion about the person's life circumstances, desires, and actual needs often allows refining desires and seeking a simpler yet more effective goal.

Most adventures in the Enchanted Forest are completed (or failed) within a single day. To minimize aimless wandering, Yarnspinner creates obvious paths in the forest, and might even provide an annotated map at the start of the adventure.

The adventures that Yarnspinner creates for seekers in the Enchanted Forest are his type of dungeon. These adventures are always isolated from the real world: a new problem or crime is being caused by a villainous person or creature who must be outwitted or fought. The quest's internal logic is clear: all goals, conflicts, potential allies, and puzzles are clear and the solution is always sensible (even if not obvious) and solvable with the resources at hand. Most conflicts are short and involve familiar monsters and predictable tropes. Treasure only appears if a part of the protagonist's goal.

When people adventure in the Enchanted Forest they face real dangers and risk real loss, injury, or even death. But the potential gain is real too: nearly any item, ability, power, or destiny can be obtained by successfully completing a quest in the Enchanted Forest.

Yarnspinner is fond of his witches and most advetures in the Enchanted Forest involve meeting at least one. Usually the witch is not a major part of the adventure, but provides a small reward or hindrance that makes a small side-quest more significant. Because each trip into the Enchanted Forest is a personally constructed adventure, no allies or enemies are encountered except those that are part of Yarnspinner's intended story. Even Story Finders have nothing to find in the Enchanted Forest because Yarnspinner creates new locations for each personalized story.

Numerous fairy tales have the theme of venturing into the forest to find your heart's desire. Usually the hero matures during the journey, and often he or she finds what is truly needed rather than what was initially wanted (or the initially desired goal is indeed achieved but it fails to bring the peace or happiness the hero wanted).

Note that rewards can be anything. The 9P sample setting contains three excuses for "wild card" items that have any magical effect and perhaps unlimited uses: items recieived from Yarnspinner as rewards of quests from the Enchanted Forest, the panoply items given as gifts by Maw Lute, and prizes from Gnash's contests called last one standings. This flexibility allows the GM to include in the story any items expected to be fun, memorable, neccessary to solve upcoming quests or puzzles, or merely helpful in keeping the story going.

The trope of "by leaving the path you can have an adventure" was brought to my attention by this blog post by Shamus Young, reviewing an indie computer game named The Path.

Bardic Competitions link to here link to tables of contents

Yarnspinner celebrates wordsmiths with his bardic competitions. People from all walks of life gather to share poems, stories and songs. Bards perform tales of recent heroics and newly composed ballads. Theatre troupes perform new and old plays. Children act out skits and tell jokes.

Yarnspinner himself awards small trophies to anyone judged (officially or not) to be the best in a category of verbal performance.

Most villages, towns, and cities host a bardic competition four times each year, with seasonal themes.

Story Finders link to here link to tables of contents

Yarnspinner's champions are Story Finders: people empowered to recover forgotten but historically significant stories. Yarnspinner never gives his Story Finders a specific quest, nor does he reward them when they finish finding a story. Instead, his Story Finders travel as they wish, knowing they will sense when a location has a story they can discover.

Story Finders are given a special ability. When they touch an item or enter a location they sometimes see a related and incomplete vision of past acts of heroism or villainy. A Story Finder may spend extra time with the item or location to receive more visions. The content of a vision does not depend upon the character's Identify/Lore skill rating.

Story Finders use their visions along with more traditional types of research (questioning the locals, reading civic records, etc.) to uncover a complete story.

A few Story Finders who dislike travel work as detectives, attempting to make their special ability more useful at home. But most Story Finders decide to embrace their destiny and set aside their old lives. These usually find an annotated map to help them get started—typically in a library, museum, dusty attic, or park.

During combat a Story Finder can use his or her power to touch a opponent and learn one of that person's embarassing secrets. Saying the secret aloud can be very distracting for the opponent!

Story Finder Trait

Skeletons In Your Closet - This creature can touch someone to learn one of the target's embarrasing secrets: in combat doing so and sharing the secret aloud causes a 1-point situational disadvantage that lasts as many turns as this creature's Intuition/Provoke talent rating.

Note: This page about the 9P setting has links to the 9P rules. As examples, a character's skills have a numeric ratings, and traits are abilities that allow a character to bend or break the rules. When reading about the setting for the first time, please skip the links to best enjoy the flow of fantastic and fanciful ideas.

The profession of Story Finder is taken from Sean Russell's Swans' War trilogy.

Annotated Maps link to here link to tables of contents

Yarnspinner enjoys giving out annotated maps. These maps have accurate, intriguing, ambiguous comments. Their magical nature is clear in how the annotations change over time (but they never while being observed).

For example, consider the annotation "Wedded bliss, appreciates visitors". That location could be about a happily married Bergtroll king and queen who need someone to go on a quest. It might mark the home of a sweet, elderly couple who just became grandparents and cannot tell enough people how happy they are. Or It could lead to two dragons who are setting up a lair together and need not stop decorating to go hunting for food if tasty would-be adventurers visit.

Some people claim Yarnspinner uses these maps to help teach his followers that everyone has a story, and respecting other people's stories includes carefully choosing whether or not to participate. Others believe the maps are simply an excuse for Yarnspinner to cause trouble by tempting people into more adventurous lives.

My favorite RuneQuest setting was Griffin Island with its large player's map delightfully annotated with handwritten rumors. Yarnspinner's annotated maps are a tribute to that masterful game supplement.

Witches link to here link to tables of contents

Yarnspinner's monsters are witches, who look like women but are ephemeral creatures able to use an eldritch implement (usually a wand, ring, cauldron, hat, or box) to create magical effects to help them fulfill their mission.

Most often a witch's mission is to initiate a story. Examples from legends include a witch who kidnaps an oppressed princess to introduce her to valiant suitors, a witch who arrives in a village disguised as a traveling apothecary charlatan but whose lotions and balms have amazing effects, and a witch who moves to a city and turns an abandoned building into an apparently innocent pet store that actually sells monsters each midnight.

Witches know they have a temporary existence and lack a sense of self-preservation. They always prefer a dramatic death to abandoning their purpose.

Interacting with Witches

A witch can look like a woman from any intelligent race. Witches always appear to be young, middle-aged, or very old: a maiden, matron, or crone. Their apparent age never changes.

There are no bald witches. All witches have hair at least long enough to reach their shoulders.

The apparent age does not relate to how attractive or charismatic the witch seems. At any age she might be strong and beautiful or might look ugly and shriveled. Instead, the apparent age of a witch corresponds to what type of magic they use. Maidens are enchantresses. Matrons are conjurers. Crones are transmogrifiers.

Many witches live or travel alone. Others live in groups that most often have three members, one of each apparent age.

A rumor claims that a witch can be identified because the relection of the sun in her eyes will be shaped like a crescent moon instead of a circle. Another rumor claims that speaking a witch's true name can force her to grant a wish.

Witches are neither benevolent nor malicious. They are never generous but will repay favors.

A rare witch will be assigned the story of disguising herself to join an adventuring party. The witch will appear to be in need of help or useful as a potential ally. She will initially be genuinely helpful to whomever she meets. However, as time goes on she will become more and more demanding. As soon as any demand is not met, the witch becomes hostile. She tries to take back any sources of aid that she has lent to her former companions, fairly offering trades if appropriate but willing to fight if resisted. Then the witch flees and disappears forever.

Abilities

Witches can elongate and shrink their hair, and also use it as a dextrous, prehensile limb to reach up to four meters away. Even physically weak witches can do feats of immense strength with their hair.

Witches can do fearsome magic. Many tales tell of witches turning a person into a frog, turning vegetables into vehicles, or instantly creating a house made out of cupcakes. Most people believe a witch can do anything with her magic. Yet the witch needs to use her eldritch implement as appropriate to her age to create an effect that directly helps accomplish her mission's goals by effecting other things or people. This fourfold limitation almost always prevents a witch from using her magic to ambush or attack people.

A witch can gain the ability to use the another type of witch magic by taking the eldritch implement from a witch of a different age.

Witch Traits

Eldritch Implement - This creature has a special tool (usually a wand, ring, cauldron, hat, or box) it can use to create magic effects that effect other things or people (never the creature itself).

Story-Driven - This creature can only do magic effects that directly progress their assigned mission.

Enchantress (Maiden) - This creature can only do magic effects that affect the mind (examples include granting boldness and luck, forcing people to speak the truth, granting intelligence to animals, or helping couples fall in love).

Conjurer (Matron) - This creature can only do magic effects that create items or terrain effects (examples include summoning a flying carpet, creating fog banks, aiding heroes by creating disguises or mystic armor, blocking passages with walls of fire, or trapping foes in suddenly appearing pits).

Transmogrifier (Crone) - This creature can only do magic effects that alter objects or bodies (examples include turning people in animals, making intelligent animals able to talk, granting objects flight, making people huge, shrinking objects to toy-sized, or cursing foes with muteness or blindness).

Terrible Tresses - This creature receives a 2-point equipment bonus when using its prehensile hair for the Melee/Press skill, Wrestle/Disarm skill, and Block/Dodge skill.

Issues - This creature has personal baggage that can make it easy to distract, befuddle, or dupe: all attempts at bluffing or fast-talking receive at least a 1-point situational advantage bonus.

Magic Resistant - This creature is unaffected by special item bonuses with a magical source (alchemy, tempering, musing, and fortunosity).

True Name - This creature can and must use its magic to grant one wish to the first person to ever say its true name: the request cannot happen during combat and must either cause an accident, prevent an accident, make someone invisible, find a nearby missing item (not hidden by magic), or increase walking speed.

Flavorful Treasure

When a witch is killed or fulfills her mission she turns into a puff of scintillating smoke. After several seconds, the smoke coalesces into a green pearl. Touching one of these pearls to one of Yarnspinner's annotated maps adds a new location to the map and causes the pearl to vanish.

A witch's eldritch implement vanishes when she turns into smoke. For this reason evil witches that prey on other witches by stealing their eldritch implements (to gain other types of magic) must capture but not kill their victims.

Witches can potentially do almost anything to other creatures and objects. This is a contrast to fuses, who can potentially do almost any one thing that affects itself.

Why do witches fly through the air on or in household items? Because they cannot grant themselves the ability to fly!

Prehensile hair is a trope linked to RPG witches by Pathfinder and the film The Forbidden Kingdom.

The rumor about a witch's eyes is a reference to the song Witchy Woman by the Eagles.

The wish-granting ability/requirement of witches is similar to shamanistic spirit use in the Shadowrun role-playing game.

Green pearls are a tribute to Jack Vance's novel The Green Pearl, the second part of the Lyonesse Trilogy.

Forensics link to here link to tables of contents

Yarnspinner's love of stories respects that many stories have sad endings. In every town and city a few of Yarnspinner's followers become detectives, and solve mysteries involving violence and murder. Yarnspinner devotes his wondrous feats to abilities that aid gritty detective-work. His most talented followers can use forensics to become amazing sleuths.

People learn the techniques of forensics through apprenticeship, or more rarely through the study of esoteric tomes. Gaining a new forensics feat costs as many advancement tokens as the feat's rating.

A character who is a devoted follower of a Power has access to that Power's wondrous feats with rating equal or lesser than the character's Wonder talent rating. That rating is zero for most people, but experienced adventurers may increase it up to 8. Not all Powers provide eight different wondrous feats for their followers to perform.

  1. Has seen things - The character gains a free 1-point situational advantage bonus when examining wounds or looking for blood or bloodstains. If the injury is recent this increases to a 2-point situational advantage bonus.
  2. The blood calls out - The character may use a blood-stained object as dowsing rod with a pull towards the creature that caused the blood to be spilled. The Wonder talent rating measures the number of meters the object will pull before the effect ends. The same object cannot be used again.
  3. Hunches - The character receives a free use of the Intuition skill each time he or she enters a location that contains a clue.
  4. Autopsy - The character may use the Identify skill to study a corpse. A skill rating of 2 reveals the cause of death and types of injuries. A skill rating of 4 reveals the time of death and presence of foreign substances. A skill rating of 6 reveals the kinds of foreign substances, except for alchemical substances which require the Alchemy talent to identify.
  5. Gloom and doom - The character may ignore dim light penalties to the Perception skill. In dim light he or she still see colors as vividly as in sunlight.
  6. Eyes everywhere - The character's Perception skilll is no longer halved when not actively used.
  7. Eyeball memory - The character may touch a corpse to see a vision of what the person saw during the moments before death. The Wonder talent rating measures the number of seconds.
  8. Object memory - The character may touch an object to see a glimpse of the face of the last person to touch the object.

Yarnspinner's champions, the Story Finders, can search for old stories by seeing visions of past heroism and villainy. But these visions and unreliable, and focus on what is imporant historically, not personally. They seldom provide forensic clues. Therefore Yarnspinner needed to create a separate way to help adventurers find clues.

Achiever link to here link to tables of contents

A river swift starts under ground,
Tunnels of water slam and pound.
It fills the hill with damp and sound
    As it starts its journey.
Down from the peaks the river falls,
Crashing down high, stony walls.
In froth and roar to us it calls
    Halfway along its journey.
To the ocean deep it flows,
Wide and deep and strong it goes.
We hear new songs and old echoes
    As it completes its journey.
    - Navigator song

Cultural Significance

Achiever was created during the Age of Greatness, after the Creator observed mighty people become corrupted and do terrible deeds. The Creator made Achiever to be the patron of setting and pursuing goals, in acknowledgment that mighty people are driven to compete and excel yet sometimes need help aiming this drive along productive channels. Achiever has also become the guardian of rivers and archers.

His dungeons are memorials, his contests are sporting events, his champions are the Oathsworn, his gifts are passports, his monsters are bigbeasts, and his wondrous feats involve animal styles.

The teachings of Achiever ask people to define themselves in part by what goals they set and how they compete.

Achiever's early followers became divided by a schism. A faction named the Navigators developed a philosophy named the Water-Way to explain how a river is the best metaphor for setting and pursuing goals. The Water-Way emphasized that just as a river passes through mountains, hills, forests, and plains without diminishing these, different people should respect each other's goals and avoid competition. The other faction was named the Toxophilites, and their archery-based philosophy of Goldboss claimed that friendly competition was the crucible that gave meaning and value to personal goals. Achiever appeared when the strife finally became violent. He declared that the two philosophies, although apparently contradictory, only had merit when yoked together harmoniously. The two factions remain both rivals and allies in the philosophical and cultural development of Achiever's followers.

Achiever's connection to both rivers and setting goals has led to the custom of people who live near a river going to its waters and putting a hand in the river while declaring long-term goals and resolutions.

Achiever is the only Power to decree certain calendar days as special days. These days are foremost instructions for optimal fishing, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Achiever's more devoted followers also use them as appointments for worship. For example, the Day of Flax Planting is a day when all farmers know to plant their flax, although only Achiever's followers congregate on that day to pray for a good harvest. (Achiever's oversight of rivers gives him enough influence on weather to make his calendar's guidance trustworthy but not infallible.)

Achiever's calendar features many special days of first-fruits sacrifices. As a particular harvest begins, farmers throw the first of their harvest fruit or grain into the nearest river to express thanks to Achiever for overseeing and guiding their agriculture and to demonstrate trust that the remainder of that harvest will be sufficiently bountiful.

The calendar asks animal herders to participate in a different kind of first-fruits sacrifice. The first newborn animal of each kind is set afloat on the river in a basket. Far down river (out of sight, the distance varies along the river depending upon how smooth is its flow there) poor people gather to collect the animals as their own.

Interacting with Achiever

Achiever only appears in physical form when defending a river. He rises from it as a towering and muscular person made of water, with eyes glowing like sunlight reflecting off water and with a long beard of foam.

Achiever is fascinated by Arlinac Town, a current focus of competition by many people and Powers. Within Arlinac Town, inhabitants of the Navigator district must promptly confess any crimes against the Water-Way, or Achiever might take them away during the night. Many members of that district are distrustful of non-Navigators because those outsiders may have unconfessed crimes.

Speleoth is responsible for the Arlin River's unnatural start high within the caves of Arlinac Mountain. Achiever is grateful for this, and is friendly towards Speleoth.

The only buildings dedicated to Achiever are arenas and archery fields used to host various competitions and help his followers rank (and then publicly display) their achivevements in archery, hunting, fishing, wrestling, chases, games of strategy, and other activities suitable for goal-setting and personal development.

Many people who worship Achiever prefer that their home touch a river. Whether the home is a boat, house, or even temporary encampment these homes always include a shrine to Achiever on a small dock. (Usually this is a "ritual dock" too small for actual boat use.) In these shrines are set a bowl of clean river water. The shrines are not otherwise used: replacing the water each day is sufficient to help the home owner remember Achiever. Some people enscribe the five tenants of the Water-Way on the bowl.

The philosophy named the Water-Way has evolved over the centuries. Its current form has five statements.

Some of Achiever's Navigators consider paying taxes to violate the fifth tenant of the Water-Way: a government is taking what is yours. These people negotiate volunteering on the town watch or doing other types of community service to gain exemption from taxation.

The philosophy named the Goldboss has also evolved over the centuries. Its current form has five statements.

Achiever's song is a rewrite of the song Act One Prologue from the musical Into the Woods.

How is Achiever involved in adventures? Holy days are always opportune times for adventures, as many people are busy with rites or celebration. Before the holy day the preparations might include challenging tasks, and during the holy day devout merchants may need hired help to guard their shops. The Navigators or Toxophilites might also be involved in political intrigue or other kinds of adventure plots.

Memorials link to here link to tables of contents

Achiever watches over the achievements of both the living and the dead. He protects memorials built to remember famous people and the goals they accomplished that brought them greatness.

The memorials Achiever loves most are sculpture gardens, cemeteries, tombs, and vaults. He prevents these from decay and weathering, and repairs accidental damage caused by visitors. He will also slowly replenish ancient treasure, so that treasure-hunters will have valuables to find. He will reset traps in tombs and treasure-rooms.

Some memorials are ancient ruins. Occasionally the goals of a famous person will be linked to a lost city, a crumbling outpost, or an abandoned building. Achiever adopts these memorials too, but does not restore them to their former glory and utility. They remain covered by overgrowth or forsaken by townsfolk, but will not suffer further decay.

Achiever may create a bigbeast to guard a memorial, especially if the memorial is threatened by looters wanting to use it as a source of stone.

Achiever cares that memorials are tributes and testimonials. He values remembering abstractly that significant goals require struggle and greatness. He does not value a place's particular history. He does not defend the artwork, literature, or wealth that some created as part of achieving their personal goals. He ignored what lessons from the past should be learned today. Theus memorials are one type of place that Yarnspinner's Story Finders visit to learn what once happened there.

Ruined buildings, vaults and tombs guarding treasure, and abandoned settlements (aboveground or underground), and inexplicably uninhabited castles are classic settings for a dungeon in a fantasy RPG.

Sporting Events link to here link to tables of contents

Achiever's followers thrive on friendly competition. They enjoy many types of physical exercise and sport. Achiever helps his followers organize and host sporting events to celebrate these activities. Most villages, towns, and cities have at least one sporting event each year.

Common competitive activities at sporting events include archery, foot races, wrestling, weight lifting competitions, tug-of-war tournaments, and gymnastics contests. Many other activities are highlit with demonstrations but not competitively judged: acrobatics, juggling, and feats of skill with balance and throwing. Most settlements augment these lists with their own favorite local activities. Activities also include water sports if an appropriate river or bay is available.

The leaders of the settlement often award medals or other prizes to competitors judged best at each competitive activity. Achiever does not award prizes, but victorious achievements do appear in people's passports.

Oathsworn link to here link to tables of contents

A person can become an Oathsworn by asking Achiever's for help achieving a goal. The plea must be made in a moment of crisis, when success or failure with skill use jeapordizes achieving a significant goal. The person puts himself or herself under obligation in exchange for receiving short-term help from Achiever.

The petition is a bargain in which help now is paid for with a commitment to pursue a new goal later. Achiever can hear any plea of this type, and will often grant the request. The person receiving help can decide to receive any type of bonus to that skill's use. Thus a person that already has an equipment bonus could decide to receive a special item bonus, etc.

A bargain that grants a 1-point bonus needs an oath that requires at least five hours to complete. A bargain that grants a 2-point bonus needs an oath that requires at least ten hours to complete. These commitments do not include travel time. (Helping a widow finally mend her farm's fence is not a "bigger" oath if she lives farther away.)

Achiever will not make a new bargain of this type with someone who is already an Oathsworn. The first oath must be accomplished before a new bargian is heard.

Passports link to here link to tables of contents

Achiever also commemorates achievements with special passports. These small, indestructible books are initially blank except for the person's name and picture. But they magically fill with truthful summaries of the significant goals and achievements the person has accomplished.

At all of Achiever's sporting events a table appears from which people may take a passport. If it is their first one it is empty. If they are replacing a lost one, the replacement is a copy of the old one.

A passport only records goals and achivements that are accomplished while the passport is worn or carried. The only exception is that if the winner of contest at a sporting event does not own a passport, that victory is recorded if the first passport is taken before the sporting event concludes.

Passports glow red when held by someone besides their owner. This allows them to be used to confirm a stranger's identity.

Achiever was pleasantly surprised when his followers were motivated to creative types of friendly competetion because of passports—especially when the achievements remain accessible to anyone with the time and courage. Which townsfolk have spent a night in the nearby spooky ruin, run up the nearby butte without stopping, or gone over the nearby waterfall in a barrel? Their passports will often record goals that have no lasting impact on the world, but are nevertheless significant personally as courageous deeds or valued memories of friendly competetion.

Achiever's passports are both the legal type of passport that provides personal identification and a "passport to adventure" that facilitates admission and achievement.

Bigbeasts link to here link to tables of contents

Achiever creates bigbeasts, which are larger and exaggerated versions of normal animals, as challenges for hunters.

Most bigbeasts are unsociable and live alone. A few appear as a small group of identical animals that behave like a family or pack.

Interacting with Bigbeasts

Bigbeasts are created far from any settlements. The are created with a desire to cliam an isolated but distinctly describable location: a butte, signal tower, signpost at a crossroads, remote shrine, etc. If they find such a location they move there. When claiming such a site and establishing a lair they do not disturb the local wildlife and are only dangerous if provoked.

A bigbeast who has finished its lair changes its goal. Now it strives to expanad its territory. It roams farther and farther, ignoring small animals but hunting other large predators and attacking any intelligent creatures. (Evil people sometimes cause havok by finding a way to lead a bigbeast to a village or town, where its instinct to attack intelligent creatures causes it to frenzy.)

Passports will record which bigbeasts a hunter has tracked and killed, and whether the deed was done alone or as a member of a hunting party. Some hunters will also mount the heads of slain bigbeasts on a prominent wall of their homes.

Abilities

Bigbeasts, like all monsters, cannot breed and are immune to therianthropy.

Bigbeasts are much bigger and tougher than a normal animal of their kind. As examples of size, a bigbeast rat is as large as a normal wolf, a bigbeast wolf is as large as a normal pony, and a bigbeast bear is as large as a normal elephant. Most dangerous bigbeasts are so large that enough that only traps especially designed to catch a such a huge target can ensnare them.

Bigbeasts gain exaggerations of their innate animal abilities. As examples, bigbeast snakes are unnaturally able to detect heat and hypnotize, bigbeast crows have a shriek that causes pain and panic, and bigbeast centipedes have nearly impervious chitin and can dig with incredible speed. Similarly, bigbeasts have their personalities exaggerated from those of a normal animal of their kind. A bigbeast jay is an especially vicious bird. A bigbeast maltese is dangerous in its doggy desire for attention. Bigbeasts always have extra intelligence: bigbeast insects are as clever as normal rats, bigbeast squirrels deceive with elaborately planned tricks, and bigbeast swine can read road signs.

Bigbeasts are usually at least as habitually alert as a normal animal of their kind. Most have high Perception skill, although those at the top of their local food chain may have become fat, spoiled, and unperceptive.

To make bigbeasts more difficult to hunt, Achiever gives each a special power that makes it difficult to track.

Bigbeasts radiate a faint visible aura (usually green or grey in color) that causes weakness in adjacent living creatures. Old bigbeasts develop incredibly tough hide with rocky or bony protrusions, and often additional horns.

Bigbeast Traits

All Bigbeasts have these traits.

Tricky Tracks - This creature only leaves tracks under certain conditions (in moonlight, after feeding, etc.)

Debilitating Aura - This creature radiates an aura that causes anyone adjacent to suffer a 1-point situational disadvantage.

Sucker for Potential - Anyone attacking this creature can display (one or two unspent) advancement tokens which count as talent bonuses: this does not use up the advancement tokens.

Possible Bigbeast Traits

Some Bigbeasts have one or two of these traits.

Gallop - This creature's Acrobatics/Climb talent rating may exceed its Acrobatics/Climb skill rating.

Trample - This creature is so huge that its attacks do the same damage to all opponents no matter what weapon they wield or armor they wear: ignore its opponent's equipment bonuses.

Knockback - The character can use Wrestle skill to knock back a foe in one turn (usually this requires one turn to grab, and a second turn to throw). The character's Wonder talent rating counts the number of meters a foe can be knocked back. (Divide by two to count map squares.)

Float Like a Butterfly - The character is much quicker than most people when fighting unarmed. Once per combat, while unarmed, he or she may use the Block/Dodge skill "for free" without it taking a turn.

Sting Like a Bee - The character's experience with pugilism means he or she receives a 1-point situational advantage bonus when using the Wrestle skill to punch a foe. This bonus is increased to a 2-point situational advantage bonus if the opponent is unarmed.

Webs - This creature can create thick, sticky webbing, one strand per turn, as its action that turn. Breaking free requires an Escape skill rating equal or greater than the number of entangling strands.

Intimidating Shout - The character can attempt to intimidate a foe (using the Wonder skill, as usual) for free each time he or she defeats an opponent during contested skill use.

Bear Hug - If this creature succeeds in two consecutive attacks, its humanoid opponent can no longer use its arms.

Tail Swipe - This creature's attacks are accompnied by a tail swipe: when it successfully uses a reach attack to cause one minor loss it may immediately use the Wrestle/Disarm skill in the same action (representing the opponent being struck by the tail and knocked down, grabbed, disarmed, etc.) to attempt causing one additional minor loss.

Pounce - This creature may make an attack with each of its claws and its bite during any turn in which it drops down upon its prey (resolved as one attack benefitting from a group bonus of up to four assisting attacks).

Vicious Wrestler - This creature is especially able to cause harm when grappling: when it successfully uses the Wrestle skill to cause one or more losses (representing the opponent being knocked down, grabbed, disarmed, etc.) it may immediately use the Melee skill in the same action (representing an claw or bite) to attempt to cause the opponent to suffer losses twice in one turn.

Quick-Acting Poison - This creature's attacks that cause at least one loss cause one extra loss.

Beast Wrestler - The character has experience wrestling all kinds of strange beasts, in all kinds of situations. He or she ignores all situational disadvantage penalties to the Wrestle skill.

Gang Wrestler - The character has experience wrestling multiple opponents. Using the Wrestle skill to maintain a hold on an opponent never causes a situational disadvantage penalty when facing attacks from the others, and is more likely to provide a situational advantage bonus.

Skunk Spray - This creature has a nauseating spray that reduces one opponent's skill ratings by half for a two turns.

Massive Roar - This creature's roar automatically causes N losses to anyone in front of it; the roar can be used every N turns (N ≥ 2).

Winged Flight - This creature can fly if it moves at least two map squares that turn, which exempts it from most movement issues involving difficult terrain as well as allowing it to soar high above many foes and obstacles.

Flavorful Treasure

In the lair of a slain bigbeast ... ???

Fantasy literature is full of fights between heroes and dangerous animals.

Many times the favorite fantasy animal of a GM or Player can be included in the setting as either a non-monstrous animal or a bigbeast. Does the fantasy world contain rocs and unicorns as "normal" animals, or are these bigbeast eagles and old bigbeast horses?

Squirrels really are deceptive, using false caches of food to minimize thefts from rivals. Pigs really do have a talent for understanding print: they have been taugh to differentiate known scribbles from new scribbles they have not seen before

The magic pendants found in a bigbeast's lair only appear after the bigbeast is slain. The pendants resistance to harm means they cannot be used to fuel semblancy despite being magical.

Here in an example of using the bigbeast concept to recreate a famous heraldic creature:

The fearsome seps (reference) is a type of bigbeast viper. It breathes dreadful fumes that cause nausea but no lasting damage. Its steaming venom quickly liquifies any creature it bites, allowing it to swallow whole even huge animals. The scales of a seps are thick and prized by armorers. The venom is used by alchemists as an ingredient for the most potent of acids. A seps is quite agile with its tail, and can pick up one opponent with it (usually to toss it or bash it against the ground) while biting another opponent. Thus, if it fights more than one opponent it gets two attacks on those turns when it does attack.

Animal Styles link to here link to tables of contents

Achiever inspires his followers to develop animal styles of combat techniques. This efforts respects Achiever's appreciation of martial skill and his creativity in making different bigbeasts.

People learn the techniques of animal styles through apprenticeship, or more rarely through the study of esoteric tomes. Gaining a new animal styles feat costs as many advancement tokens as the feat's rating.

The animal styles of combat use practiced movements to mimic the effect of bigbeast traits. They do not actually change the body or physiology of the character who uses them. (The trait "Trample" involves learning to exploit weaknesses in armor, not growing as massive as an elephant. The trait "Tail Swipe" involves a leg sweep, not growing a tail. The trait "Quick-Acting Poison" uses intense blows to cause more damage, not injections of poison. Etc.)

A character who is a devoted follower of a Power has access to that Power's wondrous feats with rating equal or lesser than the character's Wonder talent rating. That rating is zero for most people, but experienced adventurers may increase it up to 8. Not all Powers provide eight different wondrous feats for their followers to perform.

  1. Initiate - The character may acquire one of these possible bigbeast traits: Gallop, Trample, Knockback, Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee.
  2. Underling - The character may acquire a second of the possible bigbeast traits listed above.
  3. Disciple - The character may acquire another of the possible bigbeast traits listed above, or one of these possible bigbeast traits: Intimidating Shout, Bear Hug, Tail Swipe, Pounce, Vicious Wrestler
  4. Apprentice - The character may acquire a fourth of any of the possible bigbeast traits listed above.
  5. Adept - The character may acquire another of the possible bigbeast traits listed above, or one of these possible bigbeast traits: Quick-Acting Poison, Beast Wrestler, Gang Wrestler
  6. Expert - The character may acquire a sixth of any of the possible bigbeast traits listed above.
  7. Master - The character may acquire another of the possible bigbeast traits listed above, or one of these possible bigbeast traits: Skunk Spray, Massive Roar
  8. Legend - The character may acquire an eighth of any of the possible bigbeast traits listed above.

Speleoth link to here link to tables of contents

Picks and hammers make crashing profound
  Far—below the wind's calls, below our dear halls.
Mine for the ores whose joy we spread 'round
  Far—from our cavern home, to brave ones who roam.
Our ancestors' travels and treasures shine bright,
Our hearts' they ignite and our dreams they incite.
Glory to delving, dark earth will astound
  Far—to all that does gleam, the fruit of each seam.
  Far—to wonders below, e'er onward we go.
    - Dweorg work song

Cultural Significance

Speleoth is the embodiment of the joys and thrills of exploration, especially exploration that is not searching for anything in particular but only follows curiosity. He is associated with caves and caverns for in those places every passage, formation, and gem is unique and potentially beautiful.

His dungeons are caves, his contests are round trips, his champions are Elementalists, his gifts are scene recorders, his monsters are oozes, and his wondrous feats involve movement.

The teachings of Speleoth ask people to define themselves in part by where they have been.

Speleoth encourages his followers to travel widely. During the Age of Greatness his followers were both unusually heroic and especially vulnerable to encountering strange ideas and corruption.

Speleoth watches over all his worshipers who live in caverns, caves, or tunnels. Speleoth aids these followers by helping underground air stay fresh, preventing cave-ins, training intuition about where to mine, and rescuing lost children and trapped miners. However, Speleoth's aid is unreliable because of his spontaneous and disorganized perception of the world. (Most of these are Dweorgs, Kobalts, Bergtrolls, and Arzens. The Unseemly do live under hills, but instead of considering themselves a "burrowing race" they view themselves as forest-dwellers who live in ornate palaces that just happen to be underground.)

Interacting with Speleoth

Speleoth is very rarely seen. He has not appeared visibly for many generations.

Stories claim that on those special occasions when he is physical encountered he appears as giant wearing a huge grin, the universal grin of joyful discovery.

During the Age of Goodness, Speleoth was approached by the newly created Maw Lute after she had been created on Arlinac Mountain. They agreed to share Arlinac Mountain, which has since held both the large lair of Maw Lute and a frequently-changing cave dungeon maintained by Speleoth. Both locations are visited by Arlinac Town's more adventuresome residents and by curious tourists.

Speleoth considers Maw Lute his ally. He views Frosty Kostkey as a rival with nearly opposite values.

Speleoth and his followers have many minor conflicts when other Powers or their followers claim underground locations or enter them for reasons other than exploration. (Achiever has many underground memorials, and some of Frosty Kostkey's Ice Fortifications are subterranean. Yarnspinner's annotated maps sometimes lead people to retrieve items lost underground. Many monsters acquire underground lairs.)

Speleoth is worshipped primarily with percussion instruments. Extensive traditions have developed over the years: upbeat rattles and chimes to recall sunrises and new vistas, solemn drumming to remember the dangers of exploration, mysterious bells to commemorate forests and storms, clacking sticks to recount traveller's footsteps. Yet new melodies and ways of using instruments are always welcome when worshipping the Power who celebrates pleasant surprises.

The temples of Speleoth are usually one large room, whether above or below ground. Benches line the walls so that the young, old, or tired may sit. Musicians stand or kneel in a circle, around a central pit used for ecstatic dancing. Many temples also contain archived scene recorders so his faithful can see the wondrous places their colleagues have visited.

Speleoth is not based upon any traditional creatures from myth or legend. However, a being that oversees cave-like dungeons is simply too useful to not include in the religion of a fantasy RPG!

The word "speleology" means the scientific study of caves and the cave environment. I could not think of a suitable name for this Power based on the word "caving", and the word "spelunker" has acquired negative connotations.

Speleoth's song is a modification of the Pomona College song Torchbearers.

Speleoth's followers worship by moshing in literal circle pits.

Caves link to here link to tables of contents

Speleoth's dungeons are caves. More accurately, they are large cave-complexes ripe for exploration. He creates many dungeons because he delights in providing new opportunities and challenges for his cave-exploring followers. The first few rooms of each cave-complex are impressively welcoming for all visitors, but only experienced explorers should risk venturing deeper because of monsters and natural hazards.

Many of these dungeons initially look like a normal cave. But they quickly become small underground worlds, lit by phosphorescent plants and fiery animals. Speleoth always includes many seeps and springs of water as well as many edible plants in his dungeons, since he does not want adventurers to be distracted from exploration by trips back to the surface for provisions.

Speleoth's cave dungeons have no "big picture". There is no building urgency, climactic conclusion or principal treasure. They are simply places to explore, for Speleoth believes exploration should be its own thrill and reward. An exception happens when Speleoth uses a room (and item) in one of these caves as the goal for one of his round trip contests.

Most tunnels and rooms within the cave-complex are empty and unexciting. But the others contain many oozes and cave creatures never before seen by any explorer.

The only traps are the natural hazards contained in any underground cave system. Initially the caves lack treasure. However, a famous cave dungeon may contain valuables on the corpses of previous explorers who did not survive encountering a monster or other danger.

Unsurprisingly, exiting the cave-complex is often more physically challenging than the descent into its underground passages. However, the creatures that live in the dungeon move about slowly, so a departing adventurer will seldom meet new monsters during the ascent to the surface.

Speleoth occasionally creates dungeons that look like hewn chambers instead of natural caves. These often contain tricky puzzles whose solutions involve the use of odd items placed in the rooms and passages.

Caves make nice hideouts for criminals because of the availability of food and water in a remote location. So Speleoth often puts an Elementalist in the cave to help defend it from those who would rather claim it than explore it. Frosty Kostkey's wicked Remotes enjoy ransacking and ruining Speleoth's caves, delighting in turning a nourishing place of warmth and light into a barren place of cold and darkness.

Another classic setting for a dungeon in a fantasy RPG is a cave full of monsters.

How do all the creatures survive in their underground home with no balanced and sustainable ecosystem? Speleoth makes it so. All the dungeon types benefit from this "cheat" that allows the setting to contain traditional challenges without worrying about how the dungeon endures or maintains itself.

Round Trips link to here link to tables of contents

Speleoth hosts round trip contests to encourge people to visit new places.

The contest begins at one of Speleoth's temples. An Elementalist starts the contest by announcing where Speleoth has placed a special flag. The challenge is to be the first contestant to get to the flag and then return to the starting location.

If the flag is touched a copy appears. The person who reached it takes this copy while the original remains, immovable, for others to find. The first contestant to get to the flag is not always the first contestant to return to the starting location!

Often the flag is within a brand new cave dungeon created just for the occasion. When this happens the flag is in one of the first few rooms of the cave-complex, moderately safe to get to. The deeper and more spectacular (and dangerous) parts of the cave dungeon are not part of the round trip contest.

The contestants in a round trip are not supposed to interfere with each other. But just in case, Speleoth has given the flag-copies protective magic that helps shield their carriers from sharp projectiles.

The winner of the contest earns a trophy-shaped scene recorder as his or her prize. The Elementalist working as the contest's official presents the award.

After the contest, all copies of the flag disappear.

Elementalists link to here link to tables of contents

Elementalists are people able to transform their bodies into the elements, established by Speleoth as the defender one of his caves and shepherd of its oozes and other creatures.

Elementalists were once normal people, but were permanently changed when they accepted an invitation from Speleoth to become one of his champions.

An Elementalist can transform his or her body into earth, air, fire, or water. Any items worn or carried vanish while in elemental form. An Elementalist in elemental form cannot be affected by Transmutery.

A person who turns into a Elementalist cannot use his or her race's special ability when in elemental form.

Elementalists neither eat nor sleep; some of the oldest Elementalists have developed a prejudice and look down upon "lesser" humanoids burdened by these needs and unable to fly.

Elementalists can speak with cave animals: troglobites, troglophiles, and trogloxenes (centipedes, millipedes, bats, beetles, flies, spiders, crickets, salamanders, rats, swifts, mites, snails, bears, foxes, raccoons, wild cats, fish, snakes, and frogs). They can also speak with oozes. Elementalists who live in one of Speleoth's cave dungeons will organize and train its animals.

A few Elementalists are given a different kind of task: instead of overseeing a cave, they travel on Speleoth's behalf to gather information or deliver messages.

Elementalist Traits

Sustained - This creature does not need to eat or sleep.

Trogtongue - This creature can speak with cave animals, including oozes.

Rock Solid (earth form) - This creature's movement rates are all reduced by one map square, but ignores most types of losses: only losses that represent being restrained (grabbed, tripped, pinned, etc.) still apply—and nearly all of these are only minor losses.

Air Steps (air form) - This creature can walk through the air, which exempts it from most movement issues involving difficult terrain. It can stand still while in the air. When still its nearly transparent body provides a 2-point equipment bonus to the Stealth skill. However, it is especially vulnerable to being blown about by winds.

Aflame (fire form) - This creature has a fiery body that can burn flammable objects. The heat emitted is normal for its current source of fuel. It need not burn any fuel to remain stationary, the same temperature as the surrounding air. However, it can only take steps while heated by burning some type of flammable object(s).

Unpokably Wet (water form) - This creature has a body that looks liquid but feels somewhat solid. It can douse fires by touching them. It suffers one less loss from attacks made with piercing weapons. However, it suffes a loss when partially soaked up (walking across dry sand or dirt, buffeted by strong and dry winds, etc.).

Scene Recorders link to here link to tables of contents

Speleoth encourages people to visit new places, see new sights, and enjoy the pleasures of travel and exploration. He appreciates that some sights are so incredible that family and friends back home may have trouble understanding the majesty of what was seen. So he creates scene recorders in his caves and in other dramatic destinations.

Scene recorders are amazing devices that look like a magnifying glass with a metal frame and handle. An ornate button marks the front of the handle. When the button is pressed the device records what it is pointed at for ten seconds. Forever after, the button causes the device to create an illusionary projection of what it once recorded. The illusionary projection is one meter tall and appears in the air a few feet in front of the scene recorder.

Although scene recorders are intended by Speleoth to memorialize the highlights of travel, people have found so many other uses for them that "empty" scene recorders are expensive. Wealthy people buy them to record weddings or other lifecycle events. Politicians desire them to record the summary and handshake that seals an important treaty.

Oozes link to here link to tables of contents

Oozes are rubbery and nearly transparent creatures (slimes, puddings, jellies, molds, and lurkers) that are amorphous and mindless when created but gain shapes and intelligence as they consume animals and people.

Appearance

Oozes are actually colonies of single-cell units which are each too small to be visible to the eye. Their rubbery bodies can make them difficult to damage.

There are three sizes of oozes. Speleoth creates the smallest oozes to be helpful to people and easily capturable. Large oozes are created where Speleoth desires dangerous monsters. Immature oozes advance in size about annually: the single-cell units need to age before being able to effectively network in larger numbers.

The smallest oozes ("compost size") can only dissolve cellulose (plant material) and are not dangerous. These are often purposefully put in compost piles. After a small ooze has grown slightly larger ("outhouse size") it gains the ability to also dissolve proteins, but can still be safely kept in a smooth-walled metal container or at the bottom of a rock-walled pit. A full-grown ooze is about three feet in diameter ("dangerous size") and has the ability to also dissolve fats, making it a threat to animals. Rumors say the biggest oozes can even dissolve rock.

Oozes can slowly undulate across the ground or creep along a wall or roof. But most oozes are encountered when resting motionless.

Oozes attack with a relentless grasp, using a pseudopod or stretching their entire body around prey. Oozes also die in a dramatic and dangerous fashion: splattering, exploding, or expeling spores. Adventurers who attack a ooze should try to kill it from a distance.

Abilities

Oozes perceive the world around them using the five normal senses and two special senses: they can sense heat and detect magical energy. Oozes feel pleasure when they surround magic things, so even unintelligent oozes seek out magical items and will fearlessly attack anyone carrying a magical item. Oozes keep their magical items in a special vesicle, safe from digestion.

The five traditional ways to attack oozes are by cutting, burning, freezing, electrifying, or splashing with salt water. For a particular ooze two of these will be damaging, two do nothing, and one will cause the creature to split into two smaller oozes, unharmed but disoriented. (Most split oozes grow quickly because their single-cell units have the prerequisite experience networking.)

Some oozes have some unique abilities involving acid, fire, water, ice, or electricity.

Here are four examples of oozes:

Oozes gain two benefits each time they completely surround and dissolve an animal or person. They become as intelligent as the smartest prey they have eaten. They also learn to change shape to approximate that of digested creatures, and with a little practice using those shapes also learn to move as did those creatures. Most oozes have consumed several animals and can quickly change to any of those shapes. However, oozes always remain rubbery and mostly transparent blobs. They can still move along walls in addition to any mimicked movement. They never gains from dissolved prey any claws, teeth, or special abilities.

(An ooze is able to stretch its body incredibly, which enables it to mimic even very large animals. But an ooze can only compact its body slightly and cannot mimic any creature smaller than a fox. Nearly all oozes have consumed countless flies and ants, but cannot adopt such tiny forms.)

The Sagacious debate whether the oozes in Speleoth's caves that mimic creatures do so because they digested such creatures before any adventurers entered the ruins or because Futhorc created fully functional mimics with a faked history of having consumed certain animals.

Flavorful Treasure

Oozes are often collected or hunted. Small ones are useful for sanitation. Big ones usually carry multiple magical items inside them.

Ooze Traits

Transparent - This creaure's body is difficult to see, and counts as a 2-point equipment bonus for the Stealth skill.

Rubbery - This creature's body is so elastic and unstructured that all weapons affect it equally: no equipment bonuses affect this creature.

Thermoception - This creature can detect heat and use heat to track warm-blooded creatures who have recenty passed nearby.

Sense Magic - This creature can can detect magical energy, and feels pleasure when close to magic items.

Death Throe - This creature's death triggers causes a certain affect in its map square and all eight adjacent map squares.

Attach - This creature attaches itself to its target after a successful attack with the Wrestle skill: in subsequent turns it automatically succeeds in using the Wrestle skill against that same target, causing a minimum of of one loss (the person the creature is attached to benefits from a 2-point situational advantage to hit the creature).

Constrict - This creature grabs onto its target's arms (or forelimbs) when using the Wrestle skill: while constricted, the target cannot do anything that requires both arms.

Easy to Gang Up On - Anyone attacking this creature doubles any group bonuses.

Rule of Fives - This creature is affected oddly by the five traditional types of harm used against it (cutting, burning, freezing, electrifying, or splashing with salt water): two of these will be damaging, two do nothing, and one will cause the creature to split into two smaller creatures (the smaller creatures suffer a 1-point situational disadvantage the turn after splitting, due to the shock to their systems).

Movement Mimicry - This creature can learn to reshape itself to gain new methods of movement.

The first published version of Dungeons and Dragons had several creatures on the "clean up crew": black pudding, gray ooze, green slime, ochre jelly, and yellow mold. That is out of 5 out of 51 monsters—about ten percent of that old RPG's opponents were ooze creatures!

Sean K. Reynolds has written a great rant about D&D infravision.

The phrase "rule of fives" is a tribute to the Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, which borrowed it from Discordianism.

Movement link to here link to tables of contents

Speleoth...

Yarnspinner's love of stories respects that many stories have sad endings. In every town and city a few of Yarnspinner's followers become detectives, and solve mysteries involving violence and murder. Yarnspinner devotes his wondrous feats to abilities that aid gritty detective-work. His most talented followers can use forensics to become amazing sleuths.

People learn the techniques of forensics through apprenticeship, or more rarely through the study of esoteric tomes. Gaining a new forensics feat costs as many advancement tokens as the feat's rating.

A character who is a devoted follower of a Power has access to that Power's wondrous feats with rating equal or lesser than the character's Wonder talent rating. That rating is zero for most people, but experienced adventurers may increase it up to 8. Not all Powers provide eight different wondrous feats for their followers to perform.

  1. The character can jump twice as high, and his or her climbing speed doubles.
  2. The character can walk or stand on soft surfaces such as snow and leaves without sinking or leaving footprints.
  3. The character can walk, stand, or run on any hard objects, no matter how unsteady or breakable.
  4. The character can hold still in any position, ignoring normal concerns of balance and muscle fatigue.
  5. The character can safely fall any distance if a vertical surface such as a wall or tree trunk is within arm's reach.
  6. The character can walk, stand, or run on liquids as if they were solid, although a moving surface like a river is still treacherously in motion.
  7. The character can walk, stand, or run on moving surfaces as safely as if they were stationary.
  8. The character can walk, stand, or run on the sides or bottoms of objects, ignoring being upside down or sideways.

Speleoth's wondrous feats empower characters to move and fight like fictional protagonists of Chinese Wuxia literature in ways beyond how talents already do this.

Maw Lute link to here link to tables of contents

Welcome to Arlinac Town museum and bank.
Please do not feed the dragon.
    - Brass plaque by that building's front doors

Cultural Significance

Maw Lute was the first Power created at the start of the Age of Goodness to help ordinary people do big things. She is the patron of music and collecting.

Her dungeons are dragon lairs, her contests are treasure hunts, her champions are Buskers, her gifts are panoplies, and her monsters are dragons.

The teachings of Maw Lute ask people to define themselves in part by which items they value.

As the patron of music she encourages people to be musicans, protects wandering minstrels, and helps melodies spread throughout the continent.

As the patron of collecting she encourages people to have at least a private collection, and perhaps also contribute to a group's collection. She watches over all institutions that protect collections: banks, museums, zoos, and merchant caravans.

Maw Lute understands that weath is a popular type of collection. She values people's inalienable right to work to gain wealth. She opposes excessive taxation, greedy tyranny, and all slavery. But she offers no teachings or guidance about how to properly use wealth.

She also oversees heraldic symbolism, allowing even the illiterate to understand who owns what land, buildings, and famous items.

Maw Lute's respect for group collections leads her to respect town and city governance. Many towns and cities have a small dragon living in the town square to answer questions about that settlement's population demographics and to assist with heraldic issues.

Maw Lute loves hoarding but is also generous. Much of her own immense hoard of treasure is hidden in small portions in many locations. Maw Lute can reveal the location of one of these stashes of treasure to reward her followers with some of her treasures without requiring them to brave her own lair.

Maw Lute herself is law-abiding. But many of her dragons pillage to increase their hoards. Thieves, highwaymen, and pirates also ask Maw Lute to protect their wealth—recognizing that she will not protect them but she might help maintain their treasure as a single hoard that a successor can inherit.

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

Maw Lute says she was created on Arlinac Mountain, and decided that it would be a perfect place to make her home.

Speleoth had already claimed the mountain's interior. But Maw Lute won his favor with politeness and a song. He gave her half of the mountain's interior. The lair of Maw Lute, named Igneous Halls, has remained under the mountain ever since—although she often renovates and redecorates.

Maw Lute considers Speleoth an ally. She has no enemies.

Igneous Halls link to here link to tables of contents

Maw Lute lives in Igneous Halls, a vast place that resembles both a stately museum and a dangerous dragon lair. Many of its magnificent rooms and passages are large, made of smoothly worked black rock, and lit by candles in ornate sconces and candelabras. Its wondrous treasure is on display in hallways and piled in treasure vaults: coins, jewels, vases, carvings, statuettes, ornaments, jewelry, musical instruments, paintings, tapestries and vestments (and those sconces and candelabras).

Its actual entrance is a cave near the top of Arlinac Mountain. But to show hospitality towards people unable to make that ascent, Maw Lute also creates a portal in Arlinac Town that brings people to and from the cave entrance. She does not mind when hikers or sightseers use her portal as a shortcut get to or from the mountain top.

In the grandiose foyer people may meet Maw Lute. She enjoys when adventurers accept the challenge of questing in her halls, which are guarded by her newest traps, favorite monsters, and strongest minions. Most who enter will quit—exhausted and defeated—after having only seen a small portion of the outermost chambers and having only collected a little treasure. She bestows her compliments and some additional prizes to honor their courage in making the attempt.

Igneous Halls also serves as a secondary prison for Arlinac Town. Criminals who have committed crimes which in other places would earn life imprisonment or the dealth penalty are instead handed over to Maw Loot who henceforth provides them with a room and food but forces them to help guard Igneous Halls.

Appearance

Maw Lute looks like an enormous red dragon. But unlike an actual dragon, she is the same color all over (without splashes of lighter colors on the wings and chest).

Maw Lute can be met personally by those willing to explore Igneous Halls. She very seldom travels from her lair.

Worship and Groups

Maw Lute is worshipped with music, especially singing and stringed instruments.

The "temples" dedicated to Maw Lute are large buildings that serve both as museums and banks. (These banks do not offer loans. They only provide a secure location for storing valuables.) Maw Lute often sends a dragon to roost atop these buildings to help guard them. The building's curators maintain collections owned by the building. People often donate items to these collections as an act of worship. Less common is to donate an entire, completed, personal collection—this is often done posthumously. The curators organize string quartet performances to help celebrate the receptions or anniversaries of exceptional donations.

Any public fountain can serve as a "shrine" to Maw Lute. Coins dedicated to her and then tossed into a fountain disappear, and are added to her personal hoard.

Maw Lute's name is a pun on her dual patronage. Try pronouncing it to say both "mother lute" and "my loot".

Little Humble link to here link to tables of contents

What's the way to gather the clouds away?
Bitterness can be changed to sweet.
Little Humble dances on, on down Sublimity Street
Every day rest in joy and play.
Don't own, prize, or strive, but love all you meet.
Little Humble dances on, on down Sublimity Street
    - Therion children's song

Cultural Significance

Little Humble was created to teach how exceptional focus could reliably produce a life of peace and purpose.

Her dungeons are isolated keeps, her contests are sporting events, her champions are Errants, her gifts are serendipity bags, and her monsters are bugaboos.

The teachings of Little Humble ask people to define themselves in part by what they can do without.

Little Humble cannot lie. Her name is used to enforce a vow. Even people who do not worship her or follow her teachings swear by saying, "If I do not do such-and-such may Little Humble punish me." This vow, if broken, can cause misfortune. (Often a bugaboo hunts down the vow-breaker.)

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

Little Humble was the second Power created during the Age of Goodness.

She is respected by almost everyone. But few people follow her teachings rigorously.

Arlinac Town has a special place in Little Humble's heart because she established her first Meek Manor on Theralin island. At that time the only settlement on the island was a tiny village at the foot of Arlinac Mountain, sustained by tourism to the mountain from pilgirms visiting Speleoth's cave and Maw Lute's personal lair. The first Meek Manor was established in the northwest of the island, to make it isolated and very scenic, distant but not overly remote.

Little Humble has no allies. She directly opposes Gnash, whose active ruthlesness completely conflicts with her passive serenity. Her philosophy sometimes brings her followers (who find peace in owning little) in conflict with the followers of Maw Lute (who collect things) even though the collections Maw Lute loves could in theory be small enough to be compatible with Little Humble's values.

Appearance

Little Humble has no home, but frequently appears to travelers as they walk along roads.

She looks like a young girl, usually a Therion child. Her clothes are plain. She wears neither shoes nor jewelry.

She enjoys being lent a pretty hat. From the time the hat is returned to its owner until the next sundown gently touching the hat will cure any disease.

Worship and Groups

Little Humble has worshipers among all of the intelligent races. She does not mind when her worshipers also worship and serve other Powers as long as doing so does not interfere with their ability to live according to her values.

There are no altars to Little Humble, even in the many belvedere gazebos constructed in scenic locations as shrines in her honor.

However, quite a few of her devout followers run thrift stores to help people get rid of posessions they do not truly need and to help the poor.

Little Humble is usually worshipped with dance: various slow dances that are often little more than swaying, that allow her worshipers to also be meditating on her teachings and quietly petitioning her for aid in finding tranquility. Her followers also dance joyfully together in celebration, but view these louder and more active dances as social activity instead of worship.

Sublimity Street link to here link to tables of contents

Little Humble espouses a philosophy named Sublimity Street that provides peace and purpose. Its four tenants are:

Meek Manors link to here link to tables of contents

Little Humble organizes her worshipers into communes named Meek Manors. These large homes for communal living to allow people to meditate and pray about Sublimity Street and together act upon its truths.

Meek Manors function as a small business. The manor owns all property inside its walls; its members own nothing. (Members who often travel may own two sets of clothes and a backpack, stowed under their bed while home at the manor.) All Meek Manors grow their own food but otherwise rely on charity for income. When Meek Manor members are skilled at crafting, the items they produce are given away to the needy instead of sold for personal or manorial income.

Together, Members practice dance and unarmed martial arts to develop the body, and memorize and discuss poetry and philosophy to develop the mind. Most of they day is spent quietly doing these activities or community service. When a town or city has a Meek Manor, senior members are often asked to judge legal disputes as well as officiate trials, coronations, confirmations, marriages, and burials.

Little Humble exemplifies what the Tao Te Ching calls "non-Ado". But her philosophy has differences from the Way of Taoism, so the words "Way" and "Path" were avoided when inventing the name Sublimity Street.

Little Humble's poem pays tribute to the Sesame Street theme song. The line "gather the clouds away" is a tribute to Sean Russel's masterpiece, the two Initiate Brother novels.

Little Humble's fondness for hats is a nod to Neil Gaiman's comic book character Death.

Little Humble represents truth: she cannot lie, her champions can detect lies and must avoid lies, and her name makes a vow binding. Note, however, that there are no oracles in the setting of Spyragia: completing an adventure in the Enchanted Forest is normally the only way for a person to beseech a Power to answer a specific question.

A belvedere gazebo is simply a small pavillion structure open on all sides situated and perhaps furnished to take advantage of a scenic view.

Futhorc link to here link to tables of contents

If you are resourceful quit your worrying
If you clever aim for what's free.
Futhorc offers no-risk adventures!
Quest this morning and be home by tea.
    - Kobalt playground rhyme

Cultural Significance

Futhorc was once a lowly Kobalt who only excelled in courage. When he became a Power he decided to create safe yet excting opportunities for ordinary people to adventure and become special.

His dungeons are faded realms, his contests are faded hunts, his champions are Casters, his gifts are spell-scrolls, and his monsters are echoes.

The teachings of Futhorc ask people to define themselves in part by what they have tried to accomplish.

Futhorc loves when people attempt something fun and reckless without worrying about the chance of success. Parents will reprimand their children's dangerous and foolish ideas by saying "Futhorc would like it, but you better not try that!"

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

Futhorc became a Power by succeeding in the most difficult quest the Enchanted Forest has even known. That ordeal still haunts his memories. He avoids the Enchanted Forest.

Futhorc sometimes visits Arlinac Town. He avoids ascending Arlinac Mountain, from which the Enchanted Forest can be seen.

Appearance

Futhorc still appears as a small Kobalt.

Worship and Groups

Futhorc is worshiped at small, enclosed shrines with few chairs but many tables and notice boards. On the tables are boxes in which his followers leave puzzle-folded papers with written petitions. On the notice boards his followers post philosophical, mathematical, or logical puzzles for other visitors to ponder.

At equinoxes and solstices children write letters (often with parental aid) requesting a spell-scroll and explaining how it would be a great help. These letters are put in a box on a table. In the morning the letters might be replaced by a spell-scroll. A child who requests a spell specific to a single, detailed need usually receives it as requested. Children learn to ask for "a scroll to heal Grandma Woodbox of her sickness, during the first week of Spring in the year of the Yodeling Dragon" rather than "a scroll that cures disease".

The name Futhorc refers to a runic alphabet, with an echo of orc because Kobalts are the literary ancestors of orcs.

The practice of leaving various types of puzzles in shrines is broadened from Japanese sangaku geometrical puzzles.

Gnash link to here link to tables of contents

All tax-paying residents of the Gardeners district
may expect and enjoy the benefits
of a community inflexibly devoted to
security, cleanliness, and public lawful behavior.
    - plaques at the entrances to the Gardeners district

Fie! Fume! What do I hear?
A man who hurts what he should hold dear.
He beats his child and calls it love.
I'll take them both and drink their blood.
    - Ogre nursery rhyme

Cultural Significance

Gnash is a being from another star, brought to Spyragia to signal the beginning of the Age of Troubles. He elevates ruthlessness: an uncompromising and unyielding loyalty to purpose and people that shows focus, intensity, and strength.

(The ruthlessness Gnash favors allows no room for mercy towards those deserving of punishment. But towards innocents it need not be vicious or violent. It may feel pity and remorse. It may include generosity and charity.)

His dungeons are mansions, his contests are last one standings, his champions are Bounty Hunters, his gifts are necrotic weapons, and his monsters are undead.

The teachings of Gnash ask people to define themselves in part by those things for which they are fearlessly willing to die or kill.

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

For all of history Ogres have been afflicted by the Ogre's Hunger. Most are predatory, and all are shunned, persecuted, or hunted when discovered by people of the other races. One day many Ogres gathered and pleaded for the Creator to help them. The Creator brought them Gnash. Gnash rallied many of the Ogres and taught them to live in cooperative packs that fed on those neighbors who abhorred them. "Cannibals!" cried the members of the other races. "Justice!" cried Gnash.

But Gnash soon became dissatisfied with leading the Ogres. He realized that he was serving their interests, and they saw him as a tool they were using. Gnash desired the reverence and devotion enjoyed by other Powers. He withdrew for several years. He reappeared with a new identiy: the patron of all ruthlessness, willing to elevate all who act with unbending loyalty to an ideal or person.

Gnash treats every person and Power based upon their recent deeds. Other Powers may consider Gnash an enemy, but Gnash does not have favorites or hold grudges.

Gnash did not care about the island of Theralin until the other Powers decided to share governance of Arlinac Town by each supervising a district. To their surprise, Gnash appeared and declared that he would also oversee a district. His portion of the town would exalt security, cleanliness, and public lawful behavior. The streets and public buildings would be free of crime. The old or infirm could live without fear of violence. No resident would be troubled by litter or graffiti. Those fleeing from persecution or feud could find safety.

Gnash was allowed his district, which he named the Gardeners district. At first, rumors spread that the district was populated by Ogres and everyone within would be eaten. But the rumors were false, and people slowly moved in to enjoy its safety and neatness, its efficient trimness in appearance and laws.

Appearance

Gnash appears in a variety of forms, appropriate to the temperament and beliefs of those watching.

Worship and Groups

In Arlinac Town

Gnash receives no worship from the people of his district of Arlinac Town. He occasionally appears in the district square to give an encouraging speech. He acknowledges that living under his supervision can make them misunderstood and mistrusted, and he thanks them for holding fast to his values, demontrating that ruthlessness to civic virtues can be noble and meritorious.

By Predatory Ogres

Most Ogres feel a sentimental loyalty to Gnash, and perhaps even a kind of kinship with him as the "black sheep" of the Powers. They often worship him at secret altars hidden inside buildings or caves. Ironically, through abandoning headship of the Ogres, Gnash did inspire in them the genuine reverence and devotion he felt they lacked.

These Ogres believe they can "give ruthlessness" to Gnash by sacrificing ruthless intelligent creatures on their altars. The origin of this belief is debated. Did Gnash teach them? Is it a confused extension of the Ogre's Hunger? Is it a lie from the oldest Grand Ogres, invented as part of their complex game to control Ogre society, in which the winners feast upon the losers?

Some of Gnash's Ogre worshipers secretly distribute religious texts that use metaphor to explain how to worship Gnash. These texts promise both ecstasy and peace of mind to those who properly offer Gnash ruthlessness. Such texts are mostly pleasant proverbs, oddly interrupted by short stories featuring acts that are shockingly calllous, dreadfully brutal, or eerily malevolent.

A popular rumor claims that Ogre altars allow Gnash's followers to create undead, proving that Gnash heeds and approves of that murdurous worship. But perhaps that rumor lies. Many Ogres collect necrotic weapons, and sacrifices performed with those would explain the creation of undead.

Another rumor claims that Gnash will be able to summon more of his kind from his star if he absorbs enough ruthlessness from his worshiper's sacrifices.

A third rumor claims that Gnash sometimes give a tome of forbidden knowledge to an extremely fanatical worshipper. Reading it can unlock a strange and fantastic ability, but at great cost to health and sanity.

The Sagacious claim they do not worship Gnash despite being Ogres.

Gnash is based upon the Great Old Ones of the Lovecraft Mythos: an immensely powerful creature from outer space, with ruthless followers, who perhaps thrives on merciless devouring.

Gnash differs from the Great Old Ones because he might not actually be evil. But three similarities remain: knowledge relating to Gnash can be found in obscure and foreboding arcane books, pursuit of such knowledge causes depression and insanity, and adventure plots may still center around a fanatic cult that is planning an evil and maddening ritual.

A fun list of Lovecraftian adjectives can be found on the yog sothoth forums.

Gnash allows philosophical musing on the "otherness" of ruthlessness and harmful consumption. Our inclinations towards actions we acknowledge are merciless, self-interested, or gluttonous can sometimes resemble an external influence that tempts and coerces, rather than an internal desire or yearning.

Gnash's nursery rhyme ponders Fee-fi-fo-fum. Do the "Fie! Fume" belong to the villainous father or the speaker? This version is perhaps less gruesome than what Jack's giant chants, but irrationally offends more by its blatant unfairness (Yet Jack's giant would also have eaten both father and daughter).

Pursuit link to here link to tables of contents

Gnash...

A character who is a devoted follower of a Power has access to that Power's wondrous feats with rating equal or lesser than the character's Wonder talent rating. That rating is zero for most people, but experienced adventurers may increase it up to 8. Not all Powers provide eight different wondrous feats for their followers to perform.

  1. The character is immune to magically or supernaturally caused fear.
  2. The character is immune to magically or supernaturally caused mind control.
  3. The character can ignore being cold or hot, providing the temperature is not extreme enough to actually cause frostbite or burns.
  4. The character sees well in dim light, and ignores all penalties to Perception caused by dim light. Penalties due to complete darkness are halved.
  5. The character has enhanced senses and ignores all penalties to Perception.
  6. The character, while acting as a Bounty Hunter, cannot be killed by the hunted criminal. Cuts, impacts, fire, acid, and other potential injuries do no harm if directly caused by the quarry. However, the character gains no extra strength and is no more difficult to confine or trap.

Voker link to here link to tables of contents

When problems cause panic, when life gets haywire,
Voker will be there to help and inspire.
If the ground is all swampy and you are stuck tight,
Let Voker free you, in exchange for your sight.

When no one will listen, and scoffers cause rage,
Voker can lift you up to center stage.
If bitterness has drained your cup to the dregs,
Let Voker refill it, in exchange for your legs.
    - whispered rhyme

Cultural Significance

Voker is the patron of things getting out of control. She is worshipped by liars, zealots, criminals, demagogues, lovers, and fighters.

Her dungeons are avocations, her contests are provokings, her champions are Evokers, her gifts are invocations, and her monsters are convocators.

The teachings of Voker ask people to define themselves in part by what they call important and call upon—especially when getting into or out of trobule.

Voker loves watching what people do during crises and pandemonium. She never acts on her own to cause or resolve difficult situations. But she never needs to. People do enough of that themselves, and Voker enjoys aggravating bad situations in a small way. She will also help someone escape from trouble, but only in a manner that worsens the situation for everyone else, or gives rise to a larger future crisis.

Voker uses a philosophy called the Five Contrasts to help her followers understand why situations get out of control. Some of her followers use those insights to sow discord. Others use the philosophy to live a more peaceful life.

Voker believes that violence should never be encouraged. Yet sometimes violence is unavoidable or necessary. She uses the imagery of a snake, since that animal is famous for being dangerous yet only using violence to hunt for food or defend itself. Voker's philosophy does not call violence a virtue or a vice: she sees violence as a tool to calmly use no more than is needed. Soldiers, guards, bouncers, and executioners worship her and pray for her guidance, assistance, and protection.

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

Voker has no special tie to the island of Theralin. But Arlinac Town is currently a focal point of religious and political intrigue, with a multitude of issues slowly and quickly growing out of control.

When the other Powers established their own districts in Arlinac Town she told her followers to do the same. Various guards, mercenaries, visionaries, and treasure hunters tried to organize themselves but had irresolvable differences and interests. Voker did not assist in the structuring or governing of her district. It has become an eccentric and argumentative place, avoided by respectable people because of its poverty and the occasional outbursts of violence.

Voker has no allies. The other Powers regard her as untrustworthy and unproductive.

Appearance

Voker appears as a very beautiful woman from any of the eight intelligent races with her lower body replaced by the tail of a snake.

Worship and Groups

Voker's worshipers are a motley lot: criminals and guards, loners and soldiers, bitter old warriors and naive young lovers, quiet swamp hermits and unrestrained fanatics.

Voker watches over all swamps and slums. Her worshipers pay her honor by leaving statues in those places. On the bottoms of the statues the worshipers write brief accounts of how a crisis has been a crucible that helped them grow and mature.

The Five Contrasts link to here link to tables of contents

Voker has decided that most examples of things getting out of control happen because of five vices. These are compared with their opposite virtues in the Five Contrasts.

Voker's followers appreciate these Five Contrasts. Some of Voker's followers want situations to get out of control, and promote the vices. Others of Voker's followers try to avoid things getting out of control, and devote themselves to the virtues.

Voker physically resembles some versions of the Greek mythical Lamia, but has none of the themes of revenge, gluttony, child-eating, or sorcery.

Frosty Kostkey link to here link to tables of contents

Biting Cold wants your despair.
Weep and moan for Winter Glare.
Abandon hope, for don't you know?
None escape from Kostkey's snow.
    - hiker's chant

Cultural Significance

Frosty Kostkey is the patron of conquest, Winter, and machinery. He is the original machinist.

His dungeons are ice fortificiations, his contests are zip tag games, his champions are remotes, his gifts are oversprings, and his monsters are abominables.

The teachings of Frosty Kostkey ask people to define themselves in part by what they sustain, and what places they occupy.

Originally Frosty Kostkey focused on the sustaining and occupying done by his armies. He encouraged his followers to conquer, and to share in the glory of his military forces. His military leaders proclaimed the motto "Each gear deserves the glory of the machine".

However, Frosty Kostkey learned that his values were more widely applicable, and could be presented in a more universally attractive manner. For the past three generations he has done little to lead his armies in conquest, and instead has focused (successfully) on making machinery use alluring and captivating.

Frosty Kostkey now avoids mottos. He does not want people to notice the parallels he instills between the bleak snows of Winter and the impersonal uniformity of machinery—and the relentless toil needed in both to sustain oneself and one's works.

Frosty Kostkey remains the most skilled of machinists. He personally builds his armies' most dreadful machines: massive weapons mounted on enormous sleighs, or elaborately fierce whimsical contraptions.

Frosty Kostkey is in many ways the opposite of Speleoth. He focuses on creating or claiming, not discovering and visiting. He secretly delights in the despair caused by repetition and monotony, perhaps the opposite of the joy of exploration and discovery. He is amused when people are valued impersonally as a part of a bigger system. He likes frantic searches where the goal is not to find something new but merely to find a means to endure.

Yet Frosty Kostkey loves and cares for his followers. He is not always successful in moderating his natural cruelty, but compensates by generously providing positive attention. He challenges his followers to sustain, expand, build, and occupy. He sometimes sneers coldly at their failures, but always smiles brightly at their successes. He might mock a person who despairs and quits too early, but merrily celebrates when a follower perseveres to accomplishment and triumph.

History and Relationship to Arlinac Town

Frosty Kostkey longs to conquer Arlinac Town, either literally or symbolically, because it is treasured by so many other Powers. But so far he has not (apparently) acted on this desire.

Frosty Kostkey has no allies. He is often opposed by Speleoth.

Appearance

Frosty Kostkey appears as an immense humanoid made of ice and machinery.

Worship and Groups

The worshipers of Frosty Kostkey do not beseech him. Instead, he appears to them and gives them orders as their commander.

Altars dedicated to Frosty Kostkey create regions of Winter around them, in which his monsters and armies flourish.

The only ritual worship of Frosty Kostkey appears, to outsiders, to be a huge snowball fight. Frosty Kostkey himself appears. Then the temperature begins to drop mercilessly. The snowball fight continues at least until the cold forces at least one person to quit. The Sagacious ponder if these bitter contests serve to identify his toughest worshipers or are simply pleasing to Frosty Kostkey as morbid, frantic situations.

Frosty Kostkey is obviously a parody of Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and other Winter characters in Western culture. Frosty Kostkey is also based on Koschei the Deathless, a villain in Russian fairy tales with some ties to Winter through the name Crnobog.

Most stories of wolves or bears that prey upon people happen during the hungry winter months, making it natural to categorize "Winter" as a category of evil similar to undead or dragons. Many fantasy authors use winter animals as predators or villains.

Note that the machines constructed by Frosty Kostkey's champions can remain functional until encountered. This allows the GM to create locations populated by machines.

How is Frosty Kostkey involved in adventures? The PC might need to stop a temple of Frosty Kostkey from being built, or find a hidden, newly built temple to halt the spread of Winter; either task may involve fighting one of Frosty Kostkey's champions. Alternately, a PC might need to sabotage one of the potent mechanical items Frosty Kostkey has given one of his followers, or foil the newest scheme to make machinery alluring yet depressing. Frosty Kostkey's dungeons can be of any size and shape, and are suitable locations for a powerful PC to raid. Frosty Kostkey might even be sought for his technological expertise to help bring down a mad scientist who is giving machinery a bad reputation.