Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Gathoxan Monsters: Zhezhn, Greater - Fear of Falling

Today I'd like to highlight a monster/trap known as the Fear of Falling.

Greater – Fear Of Falling
Armor Class: 2[17]
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: special
Special: falling
Move: 10
HDE/XP: 8/800

As Big As: Two 10' floor traps spaced 10' apart.
Smells Like: A dash of ozone, a whiff of chlorine.
Sounds Like: Nothing.
Favorite Pastime: Perpetually dropping creatures to harvest their fear.
Turnoffs: Unknown.

The Fear Of Falling is a particularly nasty Zhezhn whose sole purpose is to inflict perpetual falling on a creature, harvesting their fear as they go. The Zhezhn consists of two 10' square pits, each of which acts as a portal to the other, which allows the Zhezhen to cause a creature to fall between itself for an indefinite period of time. The Zhezhn will remain stationary until someone approachesit, at which time it will quickly surprise (1-3 on a 1d6) its victim and move directly under it. Once the victim has fallen the equivalent of 100', the Zhezhn will spit them back out where they entered, incurring 10d6 falling damage. The Fear Of Falling can be detected with magic, psychic abilities, and blacklights, and can only be harmed by magic, psychic powers, or lasers.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gathoxan Monster: Surdite, Lesser - Cryptkeeper


Lesser – Cryptkeeper
Armor Class: 6[13]
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1
Special: Hidden escapes
Move: 12
HDE/XP: 4/120

As Big As: A skinny dead janitor.
Smells Like: Windex, rot.
Sounds Like: A carnival caller.
Favorite Pastime: Why, cleaning, of course!
Turnoffs: Messy corpses.

Cryptkeepers are the official janitors of the underbelly of Gathox, cleaning out the dead from dungeon corridors. Many a sunken ruin features a hidden room with 1d4 Cryptkeepers, who play their shoddy instruments through the wee hours and feast upon the dead. They aren't necessarily inimical to the living, and are animated by a curious and intrepid tapeworm. They instinctively know where hidden doors are, and use them to quickly move through dungeons or escape danger.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gathox Alien Race: The X'Xul

Today I'd like to showcase the insipid alien race known as the X'Xul, including some stats, base information, and a couple of NPCs.


The X’Xul (“ZICK-sool”) are a species of bipedal locust wizards who stumbled into Gathox from their home world a thousand years ago. They have built a considerable slave empire in the city while they wait for Gathox to return to their home world. 

The X’Xul are a tight clade of phenotypically plastic, bipedal locust wizards from a planet called Tchk’Lektk (‘Chick LECK-tick-uh’), which Gathox has crossed only once. Stranded in the city after a brief visit, the X’Xul began the hard work of building an empire for themselves. While they trust one another due to their instinct-level psychic bonds, the X’Xul have no qualms with deceiving and destroying any sentient beings with endoskeletons.

While they might be most known among commoners for the miraculous magical tchotchke they manufacture, their reputation among The Craw is very different. First, they maintain great vats of mutagenic, semi-sentient flesh, which they use to disguise themselves as humans when in public and occasionally sell to individuals interested in extensive body modification or controlled mutation. Second, the X’Xul are responsible for the extensive slavery found throughout Gathox, due in no small part to their implementation of press gangs, which they call “Dedicated Volunteerism.”

Cerulean Municipal Conference Hall - This magnificent blue marble palace, built upon the wreckage of a fascist theatre complex, houses the majority of the X’Xul population in Gathox. The Cerulean Municipal Conference Hall features lush bamboo garden dormitories, ritual summoning chambers lined with the husks of powerful dead X’Xul wizards, and a stellar observatory, along with the usual bevy of functionary chambers. From here the locusts plot their machinations for the city, pursue arcane tangents, and greet those Gathoxans who might serve their ends. Few humans have seen the X’Xul unmasked, and those who do generally receive an invitation to the Conference Hall, never to be seen again.


K’x’rizxsa – (Spiritualist 11, X’Xul Overlord)

Cues: Often only dons the upper half of his human skinsuit, spits black bug juice when entertained, leaves a trail of bamboo shoots wherever he goes.

Imperious to a fault, K’x’rizxsa ("KICKS-uh-risks-uh") believes his position as Overlord of the X’Xul to be utterly secure. After all, who else could manage the Mokrons and Gorgontulas while maintaining a slave army and manufacturing the finest magical toys in the town? Certainly not his predecessor, who sat idle as the Dedicated Volunteers revolted and devoted his long mating cycles to the study of human morality. No, K’x’rizxsa is unique among his people in that he is completely incapable of interspecies empathy, which makes him the perfect defender of his race. Furthermore, the rest of the X’Xul know it.

K’x’rizxsa fears the day when humans come to fully understand who and what his people are, and would rather be the singular face of monstrosity when needed than have his entire clade face the prospect of genocide. He also believes himself perfectly competent to handle the issue, although recent Dohjak spy reports indicate that the Overlord’s mind has begun to slip ever so slightly.


Ch’laut’tk - (Cosmic Doctor 4, X’Xul Rebel)

Cues: Human skin wrinkles and bunches excessively, rapid speech filled with clicks, kicks the ground when nervous.

Ch’laut’tk ("Chuh-LOUT-tick") was born with a shrunken gland in his nervous system that kept him from psychic attachment to the rest of his X’Xul clade, resulting in his ability to understand and absorb the moral frameworks of other sentient beings. At an early age he exhibited a disturbing lack of cruelty, resulting, as it so often does, in exile.

These days Ch’laut’tk splits his time between haunting the Chemok Mine, searching for escaped slaves in hopes of leading them against their masters, and exploring the ruins beneath the Spire, often pairing up with other prospectors in the area to maximize his take. Ch’laut’tk currently owns and religiously studies a book called “Liberation Thaumaturgy And The Inner You,” and is quick to share his views on the modern self-improvement movement.


X'Xul
Armor Class: 0[19]
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 2 claws or spell
Special: Psychic link
Move: 18
HDE/XP: 8/800

As Big As: A horse-sized grasshopper.
Smells Like: Bug juice and grape soda.
Sounds Like: The clacking of chitin, the whir of a thousand gossamer wings.
Favorite Pastime: Genetic experimentation, slaving.
Turnoffs: Fleshbags, meatsacks, carnivals.

The X'xul are transdimensional wizards who've become trapped on Gathox. They deploy slaves to work Gathoxan mines, and are capable of reading the obscure signs of Gathox's movements. They often use human skinsuits, grown in vats deep within the Cerulean Municipal Conference Hall, to interact with other sentient species in public. Few in Gathox are aware of the true nature of the X'xul. Most operate alone or in pairs, although all X'xul within a one-mile radius share a basic psychic link with one another. X'xul prefer to use slave labor to fight for them when possible. They cast spells as a Mentalist of equivalent HD, and there are ancient X'xul who've shed their exoskeleton so many times that they've grown to 20 HD.












Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gathox Neighborhoods: The Kettle

Previously we took a look at the map for Berchan Favela, the oldest neighborhood in Gathox, but today I'd like to share with you the largest - a festering pit called The Kettle.

The Kettle


Much of the action and bustle of Gathox reveals itself in the daily thrum of the Kettle. Visitors enter through the low-lying Gate of Exploding Benevolence, first ascending a metal ramp supported by ten thousand muscular human legs grafted to the underside and then passing through the quintuple-arches of the Gate itself. Locals may pass into and out of Gathox through the Kettle by using the Tunnel of Punctuated Peace to the west or the Catwalk of Private Vicissitudes to the northeast.

Once inside, visitors are treated to a dizzying array of sights and spectacles in the central bazaar, The Dregs. In the mornings, the squealing of livestock in mid-slaughter mixes with the raspy calls of town criers as the scent of egg blood soup and Dew-on-Iron fill the air. Dead hangovers and the quiet aftermath of misbegotten nights render this the most peaceful time of day.

By mid-day, the streets clog with marketeers, sly-men, pickpockets, dancehall crashers, and representatives of Neighborhood Friendship Societies. The sewer gases heat and rise, mingling with the aroma of fresh fried meats and body odor. Supplicants of Sha-Benyu, resplendent in their neon pink robes and body paint, preach and beg for the glory of the God That Grows and Grows.

In the evenings, scummers smoke the narcotic huckleberry-like paste of the bakra root in recessed doorways while street barbecues rage into the wee hours. Green neon fumes tepidly billow out of dance halls, and the light of a thousand precariously stacked lilliputian apartments spills out into the streets and delicately illuminates the misty spires of Gathox’s dizzying heights.

Who Rules


Four Neighborhood Friendship Societies maintain a relatively stable balance of power in the Kettle: the highly successful Dohjaks, the conservative Huttimer, alien beings who call themselves Kermen, and fresh upstarts known as The Free Peoples Advancement. Each faction controls roughly a quarter of the Kettle, and all have agreed to settle territorial disputes through public ritual. While the occasional spat of gangland warfare may erupt, these well-established factions agree that, “Peace equals profits.”

The Dohjaks - The Dohjaks (“DOY-ox”) are an ethnically homogenous gang heralding from a distant homeworld long-forgotten by all but the most wizened and historically steeped members of their community. They have thoroughly entrenched themselves in the politics of the Kettle, and while their numbers are dwindling, they nonetheless wield considerable influence and economic might.

Dohjaks distinguish themselves visually with red and purple togas, silver close-toed sandals, and golden touques on their heads. Their speech is generally rapid and overly friendly, often to the point of inspiring discomfort. Their skin tones range from light brown to coal, and their eyes are generally golden.

The Huttimer - The Huttimer people are a conservative, insular group of religious sectarians who follow the pronouncements and instructions of the Gorman clan, whose progenitors wrote the (un)holy Gormanian Edicts.

They fashion their surroundings in a sturdy and plain manner, eschewing graven images. On the legitimate end they sell beer, butter, furniture, and sturdy working tools. Beneath this veneer of honesty and hard work lies a heavy truth: these are sacrificial sex cultists who readily trade the boons of their black rituals for steep piles of hard coin.

The Huttimer wear plain leather clothing punctuated with paisley patterns on cotton. The men wear their hair short with muttonchops or chin beards, while the women wear their hair pinned up in beehives. Their leader, always the eldest male Gorman, is called a Purveyor, and his wife is called The Unburdened.

The Kermen - Kermen business leaders have a saying: “A noble bid for freedom always begins with the loosening of purse strings.” These one-eyed, hyper-capitalist aliens cloak their base greed with a steady drumbeat of individualist poetry and sentiment. Despite their natural selfishness, they regularly fund some of the most ostentatious (if lacking in utility) public works and high-end designs in the Kettle.

Kermen fund themselves through venture capital, investment in factory production at the Temple of Toil manufacturing complex, and slave labor. They often contract hits on rival producers and will occasionally fund ‘grassroots’ mobs to bust up uncooperative marketplaces. They reward selfishness and greed, but always pay humans and mutants less than Kermen operatives. 9-piece suits and overly dramatic capes are the uniform of the elites; their CEO is often required to sport three capes atop a number of stacked blazers.

The Free Peoples Advancement - The FPA started as a labor movement of former factory slaves and outcast mutants, seeking mutual economic protection through solidarity. On the surface this still appears to be true - members speak the language of solidarity and wear the orange armband of the FPA over their working clothes. Beneath the surface, however, a triumvirate of elite families have taken over as silent owners, funding worker revolts in the Kettle to create easy market opportunities for wealthy interests from the Craw neighborhood.

FPA agents specialize in disguise and infiltration, often developing sleeper cells within other Neighborhood Friendship Societies. FPA members pay dues, which afford them a certain amount of protection as well as discounts among fellow FPA merchants. The X’xul, Mokron, and Gorgontula families (see p.xx) run the FPA from the Craw.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gathox Monsters: Zhezhn, Lesser: Contrail Antenna

The last monster I highlighted on this blog was the Flat Earther. Now I present to you the psychic entity which creates Flat Earthers. Behold the Contrail Antenna:



Zhezhn, Lesser – Contrail Antenna
Armor Class: 3[16]
Hit Dice: 5+2
Attacks: 2 laser eyes
Special: Confusion
Move: 24
HDE/XP: 8/800

As Big As: A monolith.
Smells Like: Jet engines, burnt foil.
Sounds Like: A raving lunatic.
Favorite Pastime: Spreading conspiracy theories to increase psychic stress.
Turnoffs: Reason.

The Contrail Antenna is a Zhezhn specifically designed to feed off paranoia and distrust. It takes the form of a massive head, adorned with tin foil and a channeling antenna, propelled by two jet engines which leave thick, stinking, long-lasting contrails wherever it goes. It can shoot a laser from each eye every round, and perpetually spouts conspiracy theories about the individuals it attacks, directly relating the paranoid delusions to the private details of their lives. 3 rounds of listening to this drivel requires victims to make a 3d6 vs. WIS check, or succumb to Confusion, which causes the victim to wander aimlessly in a paranoid haze for 1d4 turns. Confusion can be broken by the destruction of the Zhezhn or by magical or medical means.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gathox Neighborhoods: Berchan Favela

This week I wanted to share the oldest neighborhood in Gathox: the Berchan Favela.


Berchan Favela


Although The Kettle houses the largest population out of any of Gathox’s neighborhoods, it wasn’t the first. The oldest neighborhood, Berchan Favela, bears the marks of untold millennia of construction and dissolution. Ascending the 750 Steps of Reason from the east end of The Kettle, one finds that the steps change from finely hewn granite blocks to cobblestone to mud and rock. From The Craw in the west, one must cross the Great Arboretum at Saplander’s Crossing, an impossibly old and decrepit network of wooden bridges made of oiled branches which have partly petrified. The longest standing tradition in Gathox is the Assertion of Persistence, an annual ritual dedicated to maintaining Saplander’s Crossing and the trees of the Great Arboretum.

Upon entering Berchan, affectionately referred to by locals as ‘Jimtown,’ visitors are first struck by the colorful geometric patterns painted on the crooked buildings climbing the hillside. Next, they note the pervasive scent of pork and frying dough, followed by shock at the abundance of street performers ranging from cornerside puppetry to ad-hoc marching bands. Visitors also register the pervasive presence of men dressed as elves who call themselves ‘Elven Kings,’ augmented with ceramic or rubber pointed ears and half-starved to maintain appearances. As one travels across the modest breadth of the neighborhood from east to west, one will begin to enter and exit numerous tiny gardens, crossing bridges over diminutive streams whose contents range from seemingly fresh water to raw sewage and colorful, dubious chemical flows.

In the mornings, the Hermitsa Avenue Market erupts into bright flame with the striking of the Corner Fires, and callers begin to shout advertisements from their man baskets atop four story poles. Many citizens of Berchan will practice their yoga and other morning exercises in the tiny gardens scattering the neighborhood. In ritual fashion, butchers slaughter their pigs at the front doors of their shops for good luck, the blood running in streams down the hilly streets.

In the afternoons, hungover brigades of Elven Kings march the streets, gruffly making certain that residents and merchants alike erect their great street fans to block out most of the sunlight. A stink likened to fermented cabbage rises from the chimneys of shacks where indentured servants process the raw ingredients for the Sho-Maht drug available so cheaply in Berchan. The distant roar of crocodactyls taking flight occasionally pierces the air, the beasts bearing speculative merchants into the dangerous and seldom explored lands of strange worlds beyond the walls of the city.

Come nightfall, the street fans are lowered and mobile stages erected. Impoverished alley theater performances begin amidst roving drum competitions. The eldest race of Gathox, called The Bloody People by humans and mutants but Sluurgal by their own tongue, emerge from their ground holes to begin the endless process of repainting dilapidated buildings throughout the neighborhood. The flapping of boil bunny ears can be heard beating around the upper branches of the Jimmelune trees, where they feast on the ever-growing Jimmelune fruit which is used to create the cheap drink Jimmy wine. By midnight, the Corner Fires are extinguished and private parties begin behind closed shack doors.

Who Rules


As a smaller community than The Kettle, there are only three gangs in control of the Favela. Although they make gestures toward peace, their interactions are less stable than those of Kettle gangs. The Elven Kings arguably hold the most land and wealth, and certainly maintain the most visible presence in Berchan. In contrast to the Elven Kings, the Headlong Hurlers maintain a minimal profile, alternately policing and plundering the streets from their stories-high perch poles. The Bloody People maintain a quiet underground presence, emerging to maintain bits of the neighborhood in a centuries-old habit of fighting entropy.

The Elven Kings - The Elven Kings come from all walks of humanity, united in their obsessive worship of what they call “Fey Literature.” They grow their hair long and starve themselves in an attempt to appear more elf-like, often going so far as to adorn themselves with striated goldleaf jewelry and custom body modifications, like prosthetic ears. The most fanatic of The Elven Kings will seek out extensive cosmetic surgery, a life-threatening process under the best of circumstances in Gathox.

Elven Kings control most of the southern and central portions of Berchan, patrolling the streets armed with shotguns and lungblades. They control the production and sale of Sho-Maht, a deeply euphoric and hallucinogenic sedative popular amongst both the poor and the leisure class, and derive much of their power from this industry.

The HeadlongHurlers - Originally a skydiving cult dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Who Balances on Narrow Precipices, the Hurlers became an aggressive militant street gang after the arrival of their current leader, Sonandra Massone. Massone armed and organized the cult, emphasizing the shock potential of wingsuiting into the streets to seize whatever they want. Their subsequent successes have led to rapid growth in the Favela.

The Hurlers have taken control of the multi-story perch poles scattered across Berchan, using them as recon posts and launchpads to dive into the streets. They wear colorful, high-tech wingsuits and brandish two-handed swords, and their bravado matches their skill. They only allow women into their ranks and hope to become the dominant force in Berchan, harboring a deep hatred for the Elven Kings. Protection rackets and targeted raids feed their enterprise.

The Bloody People- The least gang-like of the Favela’s ruling social groups, the Bloody People are entirely organized around the fact that they’re a separate and ancient species, apart from the rest of the city. They call themselves Sluurgal and dwell below ground in colony apartments called Mujim. Other denizens of Gathox call them The Bloody People for their habit of bleeding on objects to claim them. A Sluurgal will go to great lengths to retrieve an item upon which they’ve bled.

The staying power and economic success of the Bloody People relies on a complex mixture of ritual marriage and reproduction, ritual thievery, and ritual infrastructure repair. Most citizens of Gathox consider them a tolerable necessity, and so the Bloody People maintain steady and quiet lives below ground. Their greatest desire, and the one least likely to be expressed in mixed company, is to rid the city of all other sentient species. Some say their colonies extend well beyond the confines of the Favela, although no one claims to have thoroughly explored them.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Gathox monsters: The Flat Earther


 


Flat Earther
Armor Class: 7[12]
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: Bodyslam
Special: Ground shake
Move: 6
HDE/XP: 4/120

As Big As: A wrecking ball on stilts.
Smells Like: Molding cheese, halitosis.
Sounds Like: Dullness given breath.
Favorite Pastime: Mashing things into puree.
Turnoffs: Elocution.

Flat Earthers are the farming experiment of a rogue Contrail Antenna (see pp.xx) long ago, which have since become their own self-perpetuating species. They can speak, although reasoning with them is notoriously difficult. They are generally solitary, but deep in the bowels of Gathox adventurers have reported bearing witness to large, slavering, orgiastic conventions of the creatures. They can swing their bodies from the pillars they carry, inflicting 1d6 damage with a 1 in 6 chance of requiring a save against being knocked unconscious for 1d4 rounds. Additionally, they can slam their pillars on the ground, requiring a 3d6 vs. DEX check or everyone in a 10' radius is knocked to the ground for a round.