Sunday, March 21, 2021

Artpunk Adventure: Silicasilk

Summary: A mad subterranean plunder-hunt, like sun Vikings in a luxurious Hel the surfacers seek to strip every ounce of the precious silicasilk from outré underworld civilizations to be sold across the oceans. At the terminus of this worldroot is a legendary ring of giant geodes which contain the souls of a lost civilization's Jonestown moment when they crushed themselves into the foundations of the earth. These souls are your ultimate prize if you can return them to the surface without allowing them to wreak their ultimate revenge on their destroyers along the way, thus throwing your journey into the chaos of underground warfare, atrocity, and tectonic destruction.




Areas are arranged linearly as a descent.


SURFACE

The vast arctic plain is icy black beneath the white night sky where the billowing clouds are given life by the sun-silver moon.

The snow is laced with volcanic ash and falls black onto your skin, spotting you leprous or leopardlike. It melts like mascara tears in sootblack streaks of tigerstripe.

In the ground there are cast iron redoubts and hideouts poured into concrete moulds and set. The concrete is gone and there are dark awnings, concave crescent walls between arched doorways into shadow. Black snow is piled high overhead and underfoot in the smooth semicircle valleys where the dugout-redoubts were cut into the walls of rock.

There are signal fires at intervals around this place. It would be impossible to spot otherwise. From the volcanoside the eight flames on the scarred plain of blackness mark the buckling eruption of a younger, more-vibrant Hell.

That is the fear. This place was chosen to be settled and fortified because the caves here lead to a sump which opens into the greater underdark. A watery umbilical cord to the underworld.

Guards watch the sump in small caverns burning with the dung of polar bears and seals. They bar the way to their fastnesses with pavises emblazoned with renditions of underworld predators, upperworld legends, saints, virgins, chalky dicks with “pleased to meet you” etc scrawled on them. Each man keeps a pike laid against his pavise for quick access and has a pair of dragon blunderbuss pistols hanging about his neck by a watch with a pair of long chains to the pommels. Their load is antimony-hardened buckshot but they can also take rock salt (which illuminates the agonized foe should there be any ambient light). These firearms have barrels shaped like serpents, falcons, earthworms, penis heads, olm frills. One such gun has functional fangs that will envenom a foe who is cut by them.

One of the guards has a big, fluffy white dog with him. It is a sled dog but is also bred to be a warming dog, as in it will lay on you to keep you warm. If you are lagging behind he will tackle you and lay on you because you are the source of food. The guard will sell you this dog for five ounces of gold.

The sump looks like the gullet of a snake. It is 5' wide. A film of water awaits you. The water of the sump is ice cold and entering it feels like you are being stabbed through every inch of your skin. Entering it requires a Will check; take +2 if you are being pursued by hostile forces. Silicasilk is not destroyed by the water.


CAVERN

This is a vast cavern ripe with fungi of every color and description.

The absolute floor of the cavern is not visible even by some form of dark vision. It's all columns and bridges, ramps of stone, an escherscape of mineral curtains all the way down. Everywhere you look there are seams of rock crystal, buttery ore, weeping fungi, vistas of gems scattered across the walls like a God’s haughty charity. Like an aurora borealis caught underneath the earth and eroded through the stone across epochs.

There are scouts at the bottom.

These men were blinded at birth and live their lives from the outposts of their civilization, never to see the polities they protect. They move slowly but relentlessly because they touch everything with their hands before advancing like the whole world was a wall to be climbed. They can hear your heartbeat.

Those who took to the practice later in life wear valuable blindfolds of silicasilk. This is the most precious commodity in the world in terms of weight to value. Its origins are unknown. The scouts do not know its origins; only that they take it at war against those deeper in the earth.

They operate in teams of two. The teams tend to perch along the walls and columns using their climbing gear but may be encountered on a lateral sojourn through this cavern and its adjacent underlands.

Each scout team carries a 12’ smoothbore called a shafter on their shoulders. It is a punt gun wrapped in climbing equipment and it fires a blast of hundreds of 00 steel ball bearings which can ricochet up a curving tunnel for a hundred yards or more. The stone shrapnel of such a blast can be just as deadly as the balls. 

Its length and bore are intended to channel a shockwave up the tunnel but the firers still suffer.

It loads a massive charge of gunpowder requiring 15 minutes to properly pour.

The gunners can fire across caverns from wall to wall because their climbing gear includes means of winching up their gun. Each man carries a pair of short blades. After they fire their weapon, they roll it off their shoulders like a log and then charge in to finish off the wounded and disoriented foe. If there are multiple teams present one will form a backstop. If the advanced teams are driven from the melee they will fall behind the live gun and it’ll fire on their pursuers.

Gun charges are cylindrical and come with a leather carrying handle. Oftentimes they hang from the gun itself while the scout teams travel. The charges are divided by a leather disc, half gunpowder and half ball bearings. They make potent anti-personnel mines should a trail of gunpowder be traced to them.

For a symbol the scouts have a wide, terrified eye raised in polished sandstone so that they can feel it with their fingers. They are bald, pale, and most have a streaked scar from temple to temple where the acid was poured.

If you exit downwards from this cavern you will approach the crown jewel of their civilization- the fastness of the Sepia King of Stygoziana.


STYGOZIANA

This is the personal fief of the Sepia King.


You approach via 7’ x 7’ tunnel. There are veins of chalky crystal lining the walls here but they are not a natural feature. They are powdered arsenic set into a ceramic which coats a thin line of gunpowder. These white veins terminate at a guard post at the end of the tunnel where they can be safely detonated against intruders. This fills the tunnel with a choking dust of powdered arsenic. You cannot see the guard post until you are closer but they are likely to hear you.

As you come nearer to the guard post the veins begin to meld together into little strands like the veins of leaves terminating into twigs. Between them now the powdered death ivory has been inlaid into little intricate scenes designed to attract the eye and then horrify and demoralize the viewer before being detonated into his gaping face. Guards watch from embrasures in their lightless fastness.

Each individual story chain can be detonated from the guardpost so as to target individuals, whereas the veins further out in the tunnel must be detonated all at once.

Several warriors guard this redoubt. 

They are wispy waifish men all curly tousled hair, poutiness, earrings. Do not confuse this delicacy for the lack of viciousness. In this place, it marks the opposite. Those permitted to be dandies are killers. The least dangerous men in this fortress look rough and tough like poor peasants or weatherbeaten longshoremen. This is purely an effect of early aging.

Once you enter the fortress you’re likely to see a warrior strike a rough and boring laborer with the speed of a viper and the maliciousness of a cat. The laborer could overpower the warrior if both of them were unarmed but he doesn't know that.

One of the warriors of the guard post is a surfacer who became stuck at the citadel in his quest for the precious silicasilk. He came following a legend of a deep, decadent civilization where the men have forgotten how to fight and do nothing but spin silicasilk. To plunder such a place would make a man rich beyond imagining. This is not that civilization.

He wears a necklace shaped like a chariot pulled by mythological beasts, and on the back of his breastplate he has painted death as a mounted mercenary of the type farmers across the world fear more than plague.

He carries a red-bladed flamberge with a golden cup for a hilt; he pours out death.

Beyond the redoubt is the hall of the sepia king.

Bright red spiraling sashes loop around stalactites. They bear stitchframed pictures above a continuous frill of golden tassels like a curtain’s hem.

Band-shaped flags hang from stalactites in hoops of color.

Pillows on stone benches cut from the very walls, luminous things in pastel teal and pink and violet.

All are precious silicasillk.

Servants turn to face you as you enter. They wait on tables in the shadows set with game pieces at play, stone steins, earthware decanters pale blue in the darkness.

Their socks, gloves and cravats are precious silicasilk.

The warriors freeze with their palms on the tables, scarcely armed with stilettos and strangler’s cords.

Their sashes, neckerchiefs and eyepatches are precious silicasilk.

There is a woman officiating a banquet here. She is dressed in a single red ribbon and that she has wrapped around herself many hundreds of times in spiral crosshatches. A tight binding about the waist to draw out her hourglass. The ribbon forms her sandals and terminates in her hair, weaving in and out of her brown curls like a sea serpent.

Her ribbon is precious silicasilk and she wears a great golden crescent on her forehead like a buttery moon.

The ribbon is the garb of Stygozianian women. Each wears it differently, from a broad black band woven into an austere bodysuit to a single jade strand playing about the shoulders like a snake. Their flesh is as cold as ice and they would find you like demons of heat. However, if you aren’t a warrior and you aren’t interesting and graceful these women will mock you relentlessly

Above this hall is the reception chamber of the King of Stygoziana. It is like a full-service theater box from which the Sepia King of Stygoziana observes his subjects. You may spot his eyes when you look around the hall.

His chamber is sepia and so is his throne, but the silicasilk carpet is crimson and the candlesticks adamantine. He wears purple, like a king.

Silicasilk runs from a ring in his nose, covering his mouth and dividing in two near his solar plexus like a great purple moustache. It terminates at his gold bracelets. Naturally you could strip this and run but you'd drag him a ways before his bracelets came free. Not a bad way to take a prisoner. He wears a purple hood that is tied close to his head, but this is linen and not silicasilk. His only visible flesh is between his brow and his nose: huge, mad, orange eyes.

Should the party have managed to enter peacefully, the Sepia King has one offer for them: you may marry into his royal family should you bring him 100 Typhoean foreskins as proof of the owners' destruction. The greatest living Stygozianan warrior has only taken 78 and he is currently laid up wounded. The king refers to the Typhoeans as “vermin” and “the insect-men from the deep.” He knows little of their ways, never having fought them personally.

Below the grand hall is a larder and an armory. 

The larder is first. Servants flit to and fro here and laborers come from their forges in the armory to help themselves. Stygoziana is the land of frozen seafood. It feeds itself off of subterranean rivers and the dark ice of the surface world touches the tunnels here. The larders are simply icebeds in the walls laden with shrimp, clams, cavefish and lobster.

Beyond the larder is the armory. Should the players have mounted an assault on this hold, the heavy infantry will march from the armory to dispose of them. These are the king's personal retainers.

They are like gothic iron lizardmen. Their armor is forged to resemble snakes, snails, alligators, cave lobsters, dragons. They draw themselves up and sit against their tails when they fire for the tail is part and parcel with their weapon systems. 

Some of their weapons billow thermobaric fire-filaments which are subsequently set alight after drifting for some time, and suck the lungs out of their foes. Others fire shaped charges which are stored in the tail and superpressurize tunnel sections to crush their foes from the inside out. Others still hiss desiccation gas into their enemy’s presumed position.

Some of them have armor of finely-worked crystal and you can see the warrior inside. This is in imitation of the translucent cavern creatures. Oftentimes he is shirtless and a direct hit will pool his blood inside his breastplate. You will see him suffer. 

Their captain’s tongue is a rocket, and he will light it with his teeth.

You can hear the metal tails of heavy infantry dragging over the rough stone as they approach your position. It is a horrible sound.

There are 96 determined heavy infantrymen and the party is unlikely to defeat the Stygozianan garrison without using some kind of WMD. However, they will not pursue the party into Typhoea.

Past the second guard post, the exit tunnel is a horrific morass of razorwire. Bundles of the shit tangle the air and totally bar the way. When it's time to let someone through, the men of the guard post turn a winch which tightens the wires and straightens them into where they emerge from the walls so that a person could actually pick his way through the laser corridor of perfectly straight wires. When they slacken the corridor returns to being a pipe clogged with razor sharp hair and god help you should you be here when that happens.


TYPHOEA

You enter the capital greenhouse and breadbasket of the Typhoeans.

This is a cave region of hanging fungal agglomerative vines, thick carpets of moss that squelch hot water over your feet as you pass, a dewy mist in the air that makes everything clammy and alternatingly chills and threatens to overheat you. A thunderous thermal waterfall crashes upon rocks and lends its mist and humidity into every corner of these caverns.

The vines are some kind of flower-tendril; tangled yellow locks like hair amongst languid vines. They pass through hanging moss garlands and herbal entanglements.

From the corners snake sickly-sweet flowers with sawtoothed petals in opulent bloom above stones damp with their natal warmth.

These plants are fed by a radiance field emitted from a bulbous central cavern. This field suppresses the immune systems of all who enter it without gaining the biological permission of its denizens. As such. the party will begin to be overwhelmed by bacteria and suffer from dangerous flu symptoms after about a day, and any existing diseases will be drastically worsened. Individuals who are already immunocompromised will suffer from an immune response brought to near-undetectability, and will be incapacitated after a day, dead in two. This realm is highly bacterial and hostile to intruders.

The party will soon begin to encounter patrols of Typhoean warriors. This is their realm. They are hulking and have rough, pale skin like white rhinos. Should the party run away, they will witness these warriors emitting strange whiplike extensions from their fingertips in lieu of climbing gear, which are also capable of grappling the PCs from a distance. Should the PCs hide, these warriors will explore the crevices of the cavern with their extensions, which on close examination resemble a limp, fleshy tape.

These are the parasite-people. The warriors have worms which act as extra muscle and secrete androgens. Further in, there are peons and the shepherds of camel sloths. These people all have parasites which secrete tranquilizers or stimulants depending on pheromones from a control parasite embedded in the body of a nearby noble. They can shut down commoners, and so could you if you had such a parasite.

The warriors and nobles are privileged with a parasite living behind their eyes which gives darkvision, amplifying existing light, and thermal vision, which aids in hunting. If you shoot this guy in the head and it explodes you’ll see chunks of the parasite go flying too.

The warriors wear heavy silicasilk cloaks patterned with vistas, warrior heraldry, dramatic scenes, stygian hunting beasts or chemical diagrams. Tectonic patterns (which are the astrology of the deep), and veiny ore underlays like the neuronal structure of a brain or universe. Every one of these cloaks is very valuable for its cloth of silk, but it is potentially more valuable for the things it depicts. The trouble will be matching a subject with an appropriate buyer, because the cloaks are dramatically esoteric.

Their primary weapons are matchlock harpoon guns. These fire chitinous tracking parasites linked to the warrior's parasitic suite. Once the parasite is implanted, the warrior can toggle starvation food-interception and dissociation/self-sabotage neurotransmitter effects on its host. A wounded, fleeing foe has not truly escaped.

They also carry grenades that splash those nearby with fungal residue, causing massive cysts to erupt in their flesh. These cysts are largely harmless but critically bog down the victim and take a long time to drain properly. The warriors carry huge obsidian knives to drain your cysts, or your blood if they won't be taking you prisoner.

When you reach the central cavern, you will see that it is a kind of aerial ranch. It is brightly lit and filled with sprigs of greenery; spice herbs of every description and sweet forms of watercress in v-shaped rock troughs. Huge, tan sloths hang from low stalactites by their claws. They lean their white-maned heads back to receive food poured down their gullets by stiff and wizened sloth shepherds overseen by bored and erratic nobles.

The shepherds feed the camel sloths a molten margarine of oxidized synthetic paraffin wax derived from coal. They love their animals and give the margarine flavor with a variety of herbs and sweeteners. The Typhoeans occasionally eat this margarine as well but consider it a starvation food.

The camel sloths are covered with little fleshy nibs here and there. These are the heads of long worms that live inside their bodies. Whenever a Typhoean is hungry, he’ll come to a camel sloth and suck down a worm like meat spaghetti. This is how they eat while at home. When on journeys, they can draw out their own colorectal parasites for sustenance.

In the heart of this underworld ranch is a great black stone. Walk around it until you see a great strip of salmon-colored flesh like an iguana with a hundred little flagella legs and no head. This great parasite has transcended the need for its native realm, but, like a Buddha, remains near so that it can guide and protect its people. Freed from any need for a human host, this parasite basks on a stretch of wall waving its antennae through the air. This generates the radiance field needed to sustain the plant life in these caverns and suppress the immune systems of those not in possession of a Typhoean parasite.

If the Buddhic parasite of Typhoea dies, so too dies the lush greenery which its emanations maintain. With no hope of sustaining their camel sloths the Typhoeans will tearfully euthanize their beloved beasts and immediately invade their neighboring realms: Stygoziana above and another civilization below. They will conquer or die.

Standing serenely atop this great black rock is the Queen in Green, monarch and despot of Typhoea. She is redheaded but her freckles have fallen away, leaving empty flesh where they once stood so that blood continually runs down her face.

She wears white gloves which go halfway up her vibrant white biceps. Her skin has never been touched by the sun. Two white ribbons of cloth extend from her arms to the small of her back with ivory and bone hanging from them- statues, fetishes, shishkebabs of bead-heads, spikes of subdued light. Across her shoulders she wears something like a fur, but it is made up of soft, green, bushy herbs. A long, green serpent-form twists almost invisibly among these sprigs. It weaves its way around her arm from underneath her nail. It appears to be headless, like the creature on the rock.

She can detonate parasites that are inside of you. This leads to fissures, blood poisoning and compound fractures. She will use this to get what she wants.

Sun-strengthened surfacers are of great appeal to her. If any party members are particularly robust, beauteous, dangerous-looking or impetuous, then she will single them out for an audience. She prefers prowess matched with arrogance in men, but inexperience and curiosity in women.

Her bed is a grand spiderweb of ghostly pale silicasilk set at an angle. Sex with her will inject parasites into you.

When the men and women of this civilization make love, then too will their parasites mate. You will see their bodies wrapped here and there with slick, reedy ropes which curl about one another in true lovers’ knots and stain their sheets with a translucent residue.

Should you make love to a woman of this civilization in her earthwax bower you will find soft worms slipping up your rectum and urethra. Should you surrender to a man, you will feel bundles of tape-serpents moving through you.

Finishing with the Queen in Green feels like being stabbed in the soul as it’s made clear what you’ve done or what’s been done to you.

Further sex may be used to reinforce the power of her hold on you, to inject new parasites, and to recalibrate the ones already inside you. The queen of the parasites lives in the Queen in Green; parasites injected in this way are her agents and may self-detonate should they find you defying their Lady, but their intelligence is alien and their understanding imperfect. Certain drugs could dull them to be surgically removed. Otherwise they will explode when you attempt to draw them out.

An extended battle here will draw warriors from all over Typhoea.

As you depart Typhoea and descend, you will near the source of the silicasilk. The Stygozianans raid Typhoea for it, and the Typhoeans trade for it with the industrial fortress of Asterica.


ASTERICA

The narrow tunnel turns and suddenly opens into a dizzyingly vast cavern. Great stone bulwarks hunker beneath a titanic ridged vault wall. They are a fortress shaped like a bisected log with wide ridges and grooves at intervals down its front like bands about a tree. Great livid banners of silicasilk have been flung out from its alures. They contain more silicasilk than could be imagined in Stygoziana or Typhoea.

You see bridges here and there which extend from the fortress to the great floor of the cave, and there is amber light at the tunnel mouths. There are catwalks between balconies and outcroppings on the fortress's exterior. Silver skeletons which seem hazy and furred march precisely along these ramps and walkways.

On closer inspection these skeletons are glazed in lead to weight their bones. Each bone is subsequently flanged with blades so that the whole skeleton seems to be made up of deadly feathers. In its ribcage is a cask made of shale. This is a bomb.

Running along the length of their bones are articulating wires, axles and cams, mechanisms driven watch-like by a central mechanism above the cask in the chest; windup centrifuges kept in balance by a spinning die tip on a radial spirit level adjust their step as they advance along the bridge or tunnel. You hear whirling driveshafts, clinking cam followers and purring gear assemblies. The skeletons clatter and spark off of each other's deadly blades.

When struck but not detonated their mechanism weeps bulbs of carrot-colored engine grease. 

The skeletons of the outer guardposts bear heraldry, dazzle camouflage, or are black to bake them into the shadows. They are eulogies to their former owners and are a form of sacred tax paid by their family. They decorate the bones and this reflects their wealth and taste. Thus a skeleton may bear the regalia of kingship, or piety, wealth, or shameful contrition. They may be gilded or without any decoration whatsoever.

It might be some time before you see people. They come furtively and set their iron skeletons marching at you from the shadows before slipping away in a hurried retreat.

Some skeletons trail deadly greenish gas, others spray unlit naptha across the walls to be set afire by a subsequent skeleton.

Both men and women dress exclusively in robes of silicasilk dyed with the powder of crushed luminous gems or the ink of Stygian bivalves.

In battle, men drag six foot by three foot iron tubes across the stone by leather straps hoisted about their chests. They stand the tubes up and open them and out come the ticking marching skeletons. The skeleton detonates after marching a distance set by the wielder, and their lead-weighted, blade-covered bones make for extraordinarily deadly shrapnel.

In a battle they will march their skeletons down every hallway and staircase at you in a relentless, explosive tide. Their stairs are measured to receive the step of the skeletons.

The interior of the fortress is a honeycomb of infinite pitfalls. 

The rooms are lit by orange crystal in wrought iron cylinders cut with intricate designs and patterns which cast light throughout this place in highly uneven but distractingly intriguing shapes, for many of these crystal cylinders tell stories like Attic pottery.

The halls ripple with luminous neon tapestries in hexagrammic or nettled incomplete concentric rings that seem to rotate in an optical illusion; nets of joined Xs, pink and black, lime green and black, purple and black, teal and black.

As you approach the heart of the fortress, the light changes from freestanding cylinders to hidden compartments cut into the walls. Vents of light made of energized crystal. The air becomes a dazzle camouflage and here you barely see the skeletons move, you just see them in various states of advance. When these crystals are electrified defensively via hand crank stations they will begin to slowly mutate and mutilate those who stand in the light. You will see companions horribly transform frame by frame as you run in bast bars of stagnant but flickering light.

Further confusing matters are charms hanging from stalactites consisting of hollow centered coins hanging on lengths of leather. These coins are remnants of the oldest civilization and the hole punched through the center is part of their debasement. They consist of many rare earth elements blended together into a peppery-colored amalgamation; useful to be rendered down for ancient materials projects.

If you are advancing on the place where the Astericans spin silicasilk they are willing and able to collapse caverns around you. That said, they will not cut off their access to their primary industry completely.

In the heart of this fortress is the place where the Astericans produce their silicasilk. It is a dome of stained glass lit by an ephemeral light. Outside the glass is a thin layer of bioluminescent scarabs.

The Astericans work gently with the silica spiders, shy creatures whose joy is to spin their silk if fed on herbs and button mushrooms. The silica spiders will run and hide if there is chaos in their home, but if seized upon will bite their assailant. Their bite instantly detonates flesh and bone like a hand grenade.

The boldest Astericans cover their eyes with silicasilk and go out into nearby tunnels. They see the prancing ghosts of underworld creatures that have passed away and hunt them with imaginary spears.

The departed beast’s ghost leads them to its carrion, and this is Asterica’s main food source.

Beneath Asterica there is a place the Astericans do not want you to see.


THE LODESTONES OF PHLOGISTON CREOSOTE

There is a column of fire surrounded by eight hulking geodes. Each has a hole in the side; entry can be achieved quickly if one has metal boots because the geodes are magnetized.

The geodes' exteriors are comprised of phlogiston creosote. Inside them, they are crystal of essential salts. They are the suicide-sacrificed essence of a civilization crushed by those above and now their place of palingenesis.

Each geode has a flame in its core, like the core of the earth. You may step into this fire to add d8 souls to your body. These souls originate from this ancient civilization crushed by Asterica and its cohorts in ages long since passed. If you ask them, they will tell you it was called Orphicorum.

When you sleep for at least nine hours you may cede control of your body to one of these souls more suited to the situation (or deserving of a reward). You remain the primary soul and may always attempt to wrest control from the manifested soul, but doing this outside of a nine-hour sleep period will utterly destroy the controlling soul.

The Orphicorians dream of vengeance against the progeny of their old rivals, namely Asterica, Typhoea and Stygoziana. The souls may present a unified front in their goals and will remember it if you tyrannize them.

In addition to taking revenge on their destroyers, each soul will have a meta-objective from their life that they would like continued. They can guide you to caches of Orphicorum's wealth in exchange for carrying out their old missions.

Roll a d8 to determine each soul’s former profession: 

1 Sage, 2 Priest, 3 Soldier, 4 Mineralogist, 5 Fungicist, 6 Noble, 7 Slave, 8 Trapped Foreigner.

Next, roll a d8 to determine their life orientation:

1: Accelerationist millenarian: Seeks to connect the oil seas to magma flows.

2: Awakener: Seeks to make the earth’s ore veins incandescent and awaken the sleeping consciousness of the world, and believes that smelting ore will make it more stupid and violent when it awakens and should be minimized as such.

3: Core colonization advocate: Seeks infinite energy in the core of the Earth. Knows how to ward off the heat, pressure and creatures there.

4: Revanchist: Wants the players to conquer and colonize Stygoziana, Typhoea and Asterica in the style of Hernan Cortez and will reveal ancient weapon caches to aid you. 

5: Underworld megastructure colonist: Great works in the inner darkness of the earth similar to incomplete runic Dyson sphere plates near great magma pillars, an underworld sea sectioned into a steam engine, etc. Would like to recover these things

6: Petrified ecosystem cultivator: Seeks to awaken the biological potential of petrified bioforms (ie petrified wood) through cosmic ray bombardment; the idea being that they will produce petrified fruit et al with otherwise unachievable properties.

7: Mechanical computer denizen: Once lived in a mechanistic paradise that he or she will seek to recreate. This computer was built of fluid, machines and creatures, and involved many pumping, flooding and counting machines.

8: Outstation anchorite: These folks were notorious for the worship or propitiation of strange entities, elements, phenomena, etc. They will long to seek out their former masters and friends.

You still control your actions when another soul has manifested

However (and you won’t know this until it happens), a soul may go rogue while possessing you and you will need to make a Will check to reassert control; if you fail you may try again in an hour. Your companions will not necessarily know you have been shunted out of command.

The soul is likely to say to you, “I will do this thing and then give you back control. Forgive me but I have unfinished business with these vermin,” and will attempt to do something like flood Stygoziana, kill the Buddhic parasite of Typhoea, or set off the central powder magazine of Asterica, which will bring tectonic ruin to the entire region.

If any of these things happen and the Astericans, Typhoeans or Stygozianans know you did it, they will invade the surface.

Otherwise, they will invade one another in a nightmare war of shadowy screaming death and atrocity and your only escape route will be filled with the clashing of armies and their subterranean superweapons.


---




Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Passages from the Gardens of Anomie

Summary: Originally posted this cause I was out of town for a couple weeks.

For those short on time, here are my favorite passages excerpted from the Gardens of Anomie.



Engraving is general across the walls of the six buildings.

Stony star-shapes summoned from a dawning sky-vortex, blood sacrifice upon the pitch.

Male figures ten feet tall hand-in-hand with women half their size. Serpents lazily overlooking asymmetric lovemaking in the orchards.

The moment of carving when the giants scooped away their own genitals as one.

The destruction of whole walled cities, a sprouting of form, a transformation among the great ones. Cities laid on the table. People standing on the rooftops agape at the giant sitting down to eat. Houses cut in two, cross-sectioned with cutlery.

The building of ships, stages, sets where men are ground like wheat. The first floodlights clicking on above sawdust blood-bowers to-be. The unearthing of the scorpions; a flood of them being led into the Garden.




Many brides perished in those first days of horror. Some of heartbreak, some of hemlock, some, finally, upon the table. But some remain.

They were pushed beneath the garden near the waters that once washed them and their quarters given over to the strange animals bred by the Anomites as ammunition.

They wander here in the funnels between deadroot and foundation where the vines which the waters snaked past to caress the garden’s thigh are now poisoned by spite and thirst. For the brides who remain here have not forgotten the solar caress which they once knew, though the angels have forgotten them. So near the mother of rains these women have not perished but their subterranean yearning has warped them into clomping hags just as it has twisted the roots of the poisonous coils of thorns.

The Crones are still massively sympathetic to the Anomites and their people; they remember the days when the Hanging Gardens were built for them. They believe the Anomites will remember them yet. They are aware many women did not survive the fall. They are unaware of the Anomites’ self-emasculation.
They wander these caverns and carry poisoned pins which inflame wounds. They will hang you on poisoned thorns and torment you with their pins for threatening their angels.


Marching down the valley from this gehenna is a column of five hundred men.

They are clad in hooded black tunics girt with leathern cross-straps bearing sun-discs of gold bleeding with gemslivers laid between the radial veins of light like pools of stained glass wine beneath fallen limbs and wings.

Their arms, calves and chests shine like wavetops with golden plate and scale. On closer inspection, this has been somehow bonded to their actual skin. It cannot be removed without removing the skin.

Tiny gold and silver chains hang like silky spiderwebs between fastnesses set into their chests and shoulders and slinking back and forth along their lengths go tiny statues; graven sphalerite icons of women in gowns, old men writing at desks, clumps of children. The things these men no longer see.

Tucked in broad belts are slithering flamberge daggers, iron question marks with alabaster pommels linked to necklaces by delicate chains.

They have their red rawhide calfskin gloves tucked beneath their belts. Some belts are buffalo fur, others the witch-weird flesh of river snails.

They wear armored torcs and have lengths of canvas twisted around daily servings of tobacco, a linen chain of balls hanging about the neck. Their white teeth are studded with black chew.

The straps of their sandals wind up their legs like parched and undead vines, but some are lined with glittering snakeskin or lengthy climbing caterpillars of buffalo fur.

Red sheets of corded twine broaden here and shimmer there across their bodies, discrete strands bobbing as they move their shoulders.

Some wear catfurs across their shoulders beneath their hoods, tails hanging down the back or arm.

They walk with staves that have unique hafts but uniform cylindrical sockets atop them. One staff might be ivory and notched with cinnabar fire descending through a milky sky, while another is alabaster with jade notching throughout like platforms of grass. A third is a glossy purple metal like a flutelike decanter of wine. And so forth.

Each man has two dozen thin cylinders hanging about him. Some clatter from apostle bandoliers draped around their bodies, others clink round the hems of their tunics like wind chime tassels, others are clasped to the lengths of their limbs by black bindings to turn sword blows. Some have thin gold line-etchings of trees writ deep into their lacquered surfaces, others are bony enamel and writhe with obsidian inkstains bearing bloodstain apples, others are wrapped in sapphire snakeskin and have actual snake heads blinking at the tips, and others are rough sandstone sarcophagi that riot with hidden multitudes within. These cylinders may be slotted into their staves and sent whirling about the party with gasping detonations of unearthly payloads. See Appendix 6: Fruits of the Garden for the most common types of warlock grenade.

The soldiers joyously sing a funerary dirge as they march; ancient language expertise reveals that it is about the death of one’s friends on the battlefield, with the porters murmuring over their corpses in disbelief. It is a boast of the horrors of war.

They are marching to one of their wild slave raids. Alas the people are wrong about this. This is wishful thinking. They do not enslave their captives.

Above you in the reddened clouds there are occasional flickers of darkness. These are warlocks who glide the arid winds on wicker wings stretched with spiderskin.


There he lays a black-boned skeleton swaddled in what remains of a midnight-blue raiment bound fast around his crown by an iron-girt circlet studded with lapis lazuli. Across his chest is a starry nebula of gemstones set in silver, a triptych of treasure hinged about his shoulders and lain atop him like the law tablet of a geode.

Around his bony wrists are white gold bracelets in four quarters around fat dollops of ruby segmenting the monorail. They are bound by tiny gold chains; this was how he closed his eyes, wrists clasped in the high finery of the Anomite age.


The waters wait, dark and hidden with congested magic.

They curl about themselves soft and azure glowing within rich and warm soil beneath the fallow planters of their fallen gardens. This is where the waters have built a bower in which to lay, a place of richness in an ocean of sand. They dream of the sun and sky that once made them glitter, now cut off on the other side of the Garden’s wall. The waters look to the four winds and wait to meet once more such a desire as once inspired them in times of cool spring. They bore fruit for the love of angels and womankind, and this valley was a bedsheet for their rapture. Alas the hearts of angels as men are inconstant and when blood began to soil the sweet streams of the sea snails the waters recoiled and recalled their melody from the sounding valley.

With nowhere to go in this vast desert, the waters fell back into the aquifer and wept while the garden hung with husks and the stones who had known dancing feet cracked beneath the weight of their bereavement.


A purple candelabra writ with white engravings, places where the paint has been peeled away to show the white wax wherein there are symbols of universal rebirth, for few things will survive the closing and the opening but one can step outside the galaxy by the incandescent ekembrites instilled in the antediluvian fat of this preconstructed candle. It will entrap you in an alternate energy form and things will be lost in your reassembly but perhaps an element of your consciousness will survive, for that is the only thing somewhat translatable across universes- but even then information is corrupted.

When you burn this candelabra and sit in its center upon a small steel dais set between the candles, you will be entwined and perforated by the mites of the steel mist and writ into energy currentsimperceptible to mortals of this dimension; you will be spun into the systematic energetic undercurrents of another universe in a way that is able to keep your consciousness more or less consecutive by locating a set of reoccurring energy streams that are compatible with your pattern. Your location will be held by the mites until it is time for you to return to this universe.
Roll a d20:
1: 71 hours
2-10: d20 years
11-19: d100 x d100 years
d20: d100 x 1M years

When you reenter this universe your consciousness will erase the consciousness of another being of your species who is nearest the place of your departure and you will occupy their body until its natural death.

If there is no suitable host available, for example if you utilized the candelabra to escape an extinction event, you will be held in a buffer- an energy entrapment pattern in a suitable host such as a star- until there evolves an organism capable of hosting your re-insertion.
Information corruption is inevitable in this process. Roll a d20 for effects:
1-5: -2d20 IQ
6-10: Retrograde amnesia
11-14: Amygdalian corruption: Extremely poor impulse control and lack of fear
15-18: Hippocampal corruption: Extreme furtiveness and neuroticism
19: Pattern breach: entities rewrite your personality for their purposes or install a backdoor or spy.
20: Left-body paralysis

Naturally this is one way to escape death.


Black musculata, arms and legs. Porcelain wings and volcanic claws, eight sapphire eyes piercing a milky helm, obsidian shard-blades flange its crown.

A gossamer white robe clinging to fatless, fleshless gifts of snakeskin-wrapped muscle. A straining, skinless head, ivory coins upon the eyes, for once this creature conspired to die. A golden wreath about sunken temples.

In ribcage hangs an ambergris brazier whose silkclouds snake between spice-speckled bones.

Plates of ivory, plates of jet in harlequin diamond round him set. Red eyes gleam past a twinkling mask held before his face on a pair of little arms from his upper chest, one jet and one ivory.

A palanquin his own four legs wrapped regally in crimson cape held hand-in-hand before his chest, a lace of gold brocade an inch from every bangled lip. He lays against a seatback throne of velvet pierced with brazen studs, it balanced on his rearmost thighs with oaken slats on femur set. He is a howdah and a burden-beast, a puppet hand and his own priest.


Tales of the Warlock-raiders of Anomie describe sorcerous staffs of many powers.

Indeed. They have many means of capturing you for the blood pits or the tablecloth.

There are three categories of staffshell: dumbfire, airburst and discarding-sabot.

Seer’s stone: Dumbfire crystal linked to a Warlock’s glass eye.

Fin-stabilized discarding sabot serpent shell: This is the extreme long-range Warlock Grenade due to the lightness of its warhead. A snake encased to the neck in a rigid, fin-stabilized tube. The user adjusts the snake-release range by moving a sliding knob up or down the staff to set the detonation distance before firing. When the missile has reached 90% of its range, a gunpowder fuse (set by the slide) detonates and frees the enraged serpent to strike at whoever it lands near. This round is also useful as a close-range chemical weapon because the serpent’s venom sac can be squeezed with a thumb, ejecting a spray; this can be employed once a day or so assuming the serpent has been fed. The fin-stabilized discarding-sabot concept would be a valuable prize for city-state engineers.

Scorpiorion shell: Airburst round loading dozens of small megavenomous scorpions. Their hemotoxic stings bloat up extremities to 2-3 sizes their original mass, drooping, useless, red, and necrotizing into the bloodstream. This shell uses the aforementioned sliding knob to set the scorpiorion shell’s detonation range fuse before firing.

Agrippan beeswax stinger grenade: The fruits of the hanging garden’s beekeepers, this alchemical wonder bursts in the air and sprays a misting of molten beeswax over the target area. Once exposed to oxygen the beeswax bonds at the molecular level with whatever it touches and gradually sets into a ceramic as hard as stone over the course of about a minute. Simple water will prevent the bonding process if applied within 30 seconds, though this was a sacrifice Anom’s enemies were often unwilling to make. This is the origin of the golden-armored bodies of the Warlocks; it is not gold or gilded, but hard-set Agrippan beeswax permanently bound into their flesh. This is a sacrifice; the unnatural and interruptive grafts bother the warriors all day.

Armor piercing discarding sabot love dart penetrator: The love dart of a psychoactive river snail from the time of the hanging gardens. It is sharp-tipped and somewhat rigid, but bendy enough that you could use it to strangle a foe from behind. The dart drips in anticipation. If it hits, d4 snails begin gestation inside the target, emitting megadoses of hallucinogen intended to incapacitate the target while keeping them alive during the three-day gestation period. While the hallucinogen is technically nontoxic, it will gradually psychologically dissolve the target.
5 minutes: the victim begins to see the material world disassociated from his or her personal frame or schema; instead of seeing the world in an instrumental way, the victim simply sees the matter of the objects in question and must focus very hard to know what to do with them and what their context even is.
8 hours: the victim will have developed a radically open personality.
24 hours: the victim will only barely recognize familiar forms; they will be capable of gardening unsupervised, and that’s about it.
48 hours: the victim is completely psychically dissolved and able to respirate but not swallow
72 hours: the snail worms its way out of the host’s rectum.
The only way to stop the process is the surgical removal of the embryonic snails. The surgeon should be careful as the snail ichor carries the hallucinogen.
An alternative round is the love dart flechette canister round, which contains a bundle of love darts from sea snails younger than the ones which standard darts are derived from. When these canister rounds burst, a shotgun blast of small love darts hits the target area. Each delivers only a single embryonic sea snail rather than the d4 from a mature penetrator.

Diamond dust round: The cloud from this airburst round perforates lungs and degloves eyes.


He is the Honey Knight.

He was a mighty mason taken captive on the dunes. His test in the Playsets was a driftwood castle set afire, with children tied among the highest branches. The mason rescued one but couldn’t reach the other. He dragged his ward through the fire and the flame but was horrifyingly burnt. He is beloved of the Anomites now, who fused his sloughing flesh with the musculata, mask, greaves and braces of gold honey plate from the bees of paradise. He cannot speak any longer, but the boy can tell the party about him.
He despises the mutilated angels. He cares only for the boy he rescued, who was spared from the table using the sole wish granted the mason by the Anomites for his performance.


The Warlocks live on caravan raiding. This is where their bounty is kept. Aching moats of rice greet the party when they enter, bags blasted open by being flung on the floor spilling alps of shivering snow-spikes, here and there bales of barley by the bushel wound up in twine and hairy like filth-matted dogs, buckets of beans like ten thousand inverse eyes all distended pupil with but a fleck of white to bear the burden, sausages rotating in space like medals to be contemplated, pears on pears in baskets pushing stem down into mottled flesh like sister-sabotaging bucket crabs, whole heaps of jerky on bloodstained butcher paper, their innermost reaches bearing an ephemeral glow like the last light in the eyes of a dying life, sweet potatoes with their skin split in transit looking like autumn in the earth, dumplings losing face and deflating before the onslaught of pretzel sticks tearing them gaping and shivering to spill a salty brew from their innards inappropriately over the crystalline skin of ripe apples whose fragrance dominates all, a spring victor, orchard king, ringing word of plenty over the meek voices of subtler cohorts. The Warlocks could bathe in their grain, riding ass-first down dusty piles of oats or diving nosefirst into vast quivering casks of strawberry jam, swinging about on whole banana bunches like lemonade chandeliers, or climbing two-by-two vast ropes of licorice slimy and dank like the pseudopods of a giant spider’s nasal parasite. The giant erotic ass of a plum. The butter bounty of coffee beans, mudstaining cocoa lumps like unicorn turds, calamari tentacles that point accusingly over the ice, you, you, you.


Waist-deep in water is a stone. It was once tall and majestic, a tablet of law for a thousand tiny tribes who once stood in harmony beholding his kneeling shoulders. When the angels came the people besought him, “o stone of worth and prophecy, give our bodies to the angels that we may host the gift of God.” And the stone did as they asked and gave union to seven men of the tribes and the seven angels lit with celestial fire (for they too were stones).

But they were usurpers, and in time the men of the tribes played treason upon the stone and rolled it into this clammy nightmare cave where loping hags rake it with their bone-white dripping talons to keep the lengths down. The waters of the aquifer set loose by the dimming of the garden began to pour past the rock in eternal retreat and thus he has been much diminished, the old laws all but washed away, his hulking form shrunken like a prized head.

He wants revenge and will say as much. The party finds him half-submerged and crooked in waist-high water. He will speak to them in terms of their strange missions, for time and erosion have humbled him. He will offer to unlock the Angels’ greatest treasure for the party, or whatever elsehe can give or promise to remove him from this grinding hell. Two could roll him, four could carry him. He describes the treasure of the Anomites; a great golden spear with spirals of coral etched like ibex horns curling to the base and at the top a conic mound of outré ichor bought at blood-price from otherworldly outlaws when the garden first fell. This burbling pile is an opaque, sunny blue like tropical waters and is priceless beyond priceless to any who would know the places where the incompatible incomparable matter of universes intersect and misalign themselves. The stone will offer to use what power it has left to unlock the spear from its moorage, for the spear can be used to destroy the angels for good. This is true in a broad sense.

When the spear is removed from its docket, a great burning sigil silently appears above anearby mountaintop. The livid, star-fusion bars of blinding, steam-wreathed light form an esoteric, angular eye which glares down on the valley of its betrayal, for this is a manifestation of the Angels’ master and the removal of their spear has unhidden them. The mountain weeps like bloody wax beneath the burning eye, a lava lament for lost children.

The valley heats horrifically as the burning eye bathes it in macro-microwave which flash-focuses about the bones of the warlocks, His marrow superheating sight blasting their bones like alabaster shrapnel through ragged flesh and fabric, remnants flopping like spongiform aquatic animals. A burning blasting pillar-ray erupts from the starlight iris of the burning eye and goes raking through the valley rocks and what is left of garden stone goes blasting wide beneath the pulse of godly mighty thunder-wrath, a beam of vengeance long denied. This superpowered electrolaseris like a thousand bolts of lightning woven together into a constant strand and demolishes all discrete forms in the valley.

That is the punishment of mortals. About the Anomites grow shimmering and then all-consuming vortices; localized gravitational axes that slowly and with relish twist the Anomites into coiled ropes, barely-recognizable ridges of color and texture denoting what had been where, now wrapping tape for their horrifically constricted and elongated bodies. The vortices of the burning eye wrap these angel-coils about each other into a great multicolored beehive of twisted material which it then turns its electrolaser upon and sears into a molten bundle of inconstant colors and alternatingly clinging and weeping materials. The Anomites will remain in this bundle as it cools, and there they shall experience the full rigor of the Burning Eye’s justice as their trained, insatiable hunger can meet no peace.

There they shall fuse and harden and experience a long, slow death of starvation and calcification, and their fading essences shall not be captured by their home universe. This woven, spiral-bodied cask of angel flesh shall be of immeasurable worth to any who study mysterious science or the divine.

Players need to face d4 deadly challenges each to survive this cleansing, such as staggering through superheated air, lifting burning boulders from the way to shelter, dropping behind crushed masonry and rolling to put out one’s burning clothes, rushing to a blasted Warlock and using his burble-boiling gore-slicked corpse as a fireshield, diving from the way of an armed collapsing warrior statue, and evading the very beam of the Burning Eye.

Once the last of the Anomites have been twisted into their barrel-form, the great electrolaser will dissipate and the burning eye will grow translucent before disappearing, bathing the charnel valley in night once more.

After this, if the stone has not been destroyed it will relax and go dormant unless the GM can think of something he’d really like to use it for. For those interested, the rock was once a forge chimera who spent a day and a night immersed in molten gold and emeralds; his siphoned ashes became the rock. This was long ago.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Gardens of Anomie: Artpunk Dungeon Poem

Summary: An antediluvian beauty-nightmare. This is the second Dungeon Poem I’ve done. Something about this format works.


HEBREW APOCRYPHA


If you are a Starling & Shrike detective: Read Appendix 1: “Eyes Only: 7/2 0330 airborne op chalk” and proceed to O1, where you will have parachuted into.

If you are a bandit tribesman: Read Appendix 2: “Legend of Chained Waters” and proceed to O1, where you will have mushed your lynxhound sled.

If you are a Cynthian Knight: Read Appendix 3: “Desert Warlock Interrogation Report” and proceed to O1, which you will have infiltrated after departing your palanquin and servants. Note that Starling & Shrike and the Cynthian Empire are hereditary enemies.

Otherwise, proceed to O1.


O1 THE HIGH ROAD

This is the area surrounding what is found on the map.


https://dysonlogos.blog/maps/geomorph-mapping-project/



A red valley lit by black rocks; ridges lipped with root-woven clods and outcroppings. Gray-eared mountain cats mark your path from on high.

Along the trail are sunken stelae to coastal gods raised in glimmers of syncretism before their cracking apart under immeasurable blows.

Ahead there is a segmented structure in the heart of the valley. Chiseled pyramidal boulder-buildings cut from a single primeval stone. About them are layers of inscription, figures and scenes.

Marching down the valley from this gehenna is a column of five hundred men.

They are clad in hooded black tunics girt with leathern cross-straps bearing sun-discs of gold bleeding with gemslivers laid between the radial veins of light like pools of stained glass wine beneath fallen limbs and wings.

Their arms, calves and chests shine like wavetops with golden plate and scale. On closer inspection, this has been somehow bonded to their actual skin. It cannot be removed without removing the skin.

Tiny gold and silver chains hang like silky spiderwebs between fastnesses set into their chests and shoulders and slinking back and forth along their lengths go tiny statues; graven sphalerite icons of women in gowns, old men writing at desks, clumps of children. The things these men no longer see.

Tucked in broad belts are slithering flamberge daggers, iron question marks with alabaster pommels linked to necklaces by delicate chains.

They have their red rawhide calfskin gloves tucked beneath their belts. Some belts are buffalo fur, others the witch-weird flesh of river snails.

They wear armored torcs and have lengths of canvas twisted around daily servings of tobacco, a linen chain of balls hanging about the neck. Their white teeth are studded with black chew.

The straps of their sandals wind up their legs like parched and undead vines, but some are lined with glittering snakeskin or lengthy climbing caterpillars of buffalo fur.

Red sheets of corded twine broaden here and shimmer there across their bodies, discrete strands bobbing as they move their shoulders.

Some wear catfurs across their shoulders beneath their hoods, tails hanging down the back or arm.

They walk with staves that have unique hafts but uniform cylindrical sockets atop them. One staff might be ivory and notched with cinnabar fire descending through a milky sky, while another is alabaster with jade notching throughout like platforms of grass. A third is a glossy purple metal like a flutelike decanter of wine. And so forth.

Each man has two dozen thin cylinders hanging about him. Some clatter from apostle bandoliers draped around their bodies, others clink round the hems of their tunics like wind chime tassels, others are clasped to the lengths of their limbs by black bindings to turn sword blows. Some have thin gold line-etchings of trees writ deep into their lacquered surfaces, others are bony enamel and writhe with obsidian inkstains bearing bloodstain apples, others are wrapped in sapphire snakeskin and have actual snake heads blinking at the tips, and others are rough sandstone sarcophagi that riot with hidden multitudes within. These cylinders may be slotted into their staves and sent whirling about the party with gasping detonations of unearthly payloads. See Appendix 6: Fruits of the Garden for the most common types of warlock grenade.

The soldiers sing joyously a funerary dirge as they march; ancient language expertise reveals that it is about the death of one’s friends on the battlefield, with the porters murmuring over their corpses in disbelief. It is a boast of the horrors of war.

They are marching to one of their wild slave raids. Alas the people are wrong about this. This is wishful thinking. They do not enslave their captives.

Above you in the reddened clouds there are occasional flickers of darkness. These are warlocks who glide the arid winds on wicker wings stretched with spiderskin.

Perhaps three dozen Warlocks remain in the garden itself, and the GM may distribute them as needed.

The party can approach the walls from any direction.


THE WALLS

Engraving is general across the walls of the six buildings.

Stony star-shapes summoned from a dawning sky-vortex, blood sacrifice upon the pitch.

Male figures ten feet tall hand-in-hand with women half their size. Serpents lazily overlooking asymmetric lovemaking in the orchards.

The moment of carving when the giants scooped away their own genitals as one.

The destruction of whole walled cities, a sprouting of form, a transformation among the great ones. Cities laid on the table. People standing on the rooftops agape at the giant sitting down to eat. Houses cut in two, cross-sectioned with cutlery.

The building of ships, stages, sets where men are ground like wheat. The first floodlights clicking on above sawdust blood-bowers to-be. The unearthing of the scorpions; a flood of them being led into the Garden. 


A1 SCORPIONS AND GLASS

The walls of this place carry dozens of wooden shelves atop which are hundreds of glass jars filled with furiously crawling desert scorpions, their skin translucent, their orange hearts glowing furiously inside their abdomens. Thousands of crickets jump all through the air in this room. There is a man here who periodically unscrews each jar so that crickets may jump inside and feed the scorpions. The crickets do not go outside into the heat. The wall of this room has a mesh curtain to seal it at night.

The man here is the Beastmaster. He tends the apiary, the scorpions, the sea snails and the serpentry.

In his eyes he wears a pair of black monocles. He wears the black tunic of a warlock with a cloak fashioned of many discrete diamond-shaped pieces of fur joined only at the tips, the outermost of which end in livid golden tassels.


The tips of the upper diamonds are connected to his shoulderblades and to the undersides of his arms.

He wears rawskin boots which are rough, almost furry like a coconut.

He bears a bolt of silver hanging from a heavy necklace; when he fires it from his staff, which is a long, striped, black and yellow petrified snake from the Plenarite tribe with a grenade receiver jammed down its throat, it will create a cloud of diamond dust that will grind the eyes and denude the lungs of those who are not shielded from it. This will not necessarily damage the scorpion jars or the crickets.

His outlook is:
“The foe of our fathers has turned to a woman
And shakes behind curtain and wall
I shall fill her with soldiers and serpents and snails
For they are my progeny all.
With them I will poison the cities and tribes
and poison the armies in strongholds.
And poison the herds of the cattle
and poison the husband and wife.
And poison the maid and grandmother
and poison the wagon and wheel.
And poison the dog and his farrier
and poison the eldest sage.
And poison the rivers and snowmelt
and poison the youngest girl.
And poison the sacredest places
And turn grassland to wasteland forever.
And so I shall plow her with serpents
And they are the harvest she'll reap.”

He carries a whip that is like a bolt of lightning and has the same effect as one.

There are stairs here which lead to a landing; the landing continues up into A2 and down into U1.


A2 GUNPOWDER AND SEA SNAILS

This is the ammunition foundry of the Warlocks and their masters. It is a dark room lit by little lamps that rest beneath glass boxes of water, warming them and underlighting their inhabitants.

Basking in oceanic terrariums are many mounting sea snails; their winding spiral-shells are etched with bizarre black ink within, and as you watch them you see runes form and bleed beneath their glossy surfaces. Mastery of ancient languages allows an observer to recognize certain runes which generally describe (in a language attributed to mesolithic shamans) the contents of the room in which the snail is. Alas, these humble creatures cannot broadcast their message further than their shells due to the presence of the Ichor Spear in E1

These randy creatures pierce one another with oversized love darts; when fully developed, the Beastmaster plucks these tiny weapons and hangs them on the walls like spears and swords of old where they wait to be loaded into cylinders which sit by the bouquet inside little lacquered wooden towers. See Appendix 6: The Fruits of the Garden for a description of their use.

In the center of this room is a large quantity of mashed antimony and a strange white powder (hagnail) carried from U6. This stuff sits like sifted salt and pepper in a bronze basin in the center of the room; if a spark touches this thing it will blow all of A hundreds of feet into the air.


A3 SOIL SHRINE

The Warlocks secretly remember the age before their wars, even if only in song and story. In their heart of hearts, they believe that the iron of the world has turned it warlike. Blacksmiths and steelworkers are like dark mages. Ore is the cancer of the earth.

The Warlocks count three epochs, which they represent with three stones and three ores in their art and what remains of their architecture. 
The High Garden: alabaster and galena.
The Military Empire: sandstone and limonite.
The Prison of Water: onyx and gold.

There is a plot of the purest soil in this place. It’s been taken from the arms of the Mother of Rains itself. The Warlocks revere it in this parched place. Whenever a woman miscarries in the Gardens (which was always the case after having mated with one of the Warlocks’ masters), the Warlocks secretly burn the fetus beneath the soil in a cradle of medicinal herbs.


A4 CATWALK FESTHALL

There is a plate glass catwalk here.

To the side is a disused festhall where guests once watched the testing of the souls of men. It is a gray cobweb riot of rotten wood.

There is a creature on the catwalk. It stands 12’ tall and is like a man but elongated. It’s body is black musculata, arms and legs. Porcelain wings and volcanic claws, eight sapphire eyes piercing a milky face above which obsidian shard-blades flange its crown like a scepter. It is gazing down through the plate glass floor into an empty maze, but its vision is vast and it will likely see the players.

It is an Anomite. It no longer speaks. 


A5 PLAYSET: MAZE

“They came as conch-clad biotites in energy anemone.
We called the angels Anomites for micalike and anomie.”

The seven angels were given seven human bodies.

But with our bodies came our desires.
The angels had no training; no long life of guarding against these things.

They held for a time. They gave themselves to love, and upon the desert bare they built a Hanging Garden for their paramours. White wavecaps were seen in the desert. Vine-girt canals, manors among the fruit boughs.

They husbanded many wonderful creatures in this place. Honeybees who built golden halls, snakes shepherding the wandering ways, and sea-snails who made the rivers sweet.

Finally their lusts grew morbid and this was a time of horror and of war for flesh. Finally the angels removed their offending instruments, and ceasing to desire mankind they began to admire mankind having witnessed their courage and self-sacrifice in the battles of their raid-wars. Cerebral entertainments were planned by which the angels might bask in the valor of their wards under the most horrific circumstances. Places were built for this purpose.

This is one such place.

Those to be tested enter through the west or southeast archways. In the heart of this hall is a maze whose stone walls reach the plate glass ceiling above, through which the Anomites and, once upon a time, their guests could watch the men to be tested make their way through this maze. It is a swirling cacophony of walls wherein one can only pass by flattening himself against both sides and shimmying; from above the maze looks like a literalized swarm of swirling winds, open only for a passage here and there.

If captured and sent to this room, the PCs will be subjected to the Sidelong Fight or the Walk of Fire. In the former, enemies will be pushed into the maze on the other side and the party will have to kill them with their bare hands while pushing themselves through corridors scarcely wide enough to step into sideways. In the latter scenario, kindling will be stuffed throughout the floors and set afire behind the party, and they will have to push their way through to the end of the maze before smoke and fire consume them.

Entrants who survive are allowed to join the Warlocks. This is the case for all Playsets.

Over the years, the Anomites have become master composers of bloodsport arrangement. There are seven schools of thought through which the Anomites have passed, and now each has his own preference.
First: “Collapsing House.” Emphasises intricate setups and difficult solutions. Rarely completed but when it is there is much admiration and approbation.
Second: “Hunting Scene.” Beauty, artistry and companionship
Third: “Melee.” Free-play with a wide variety of objectives and incentives
Fourth: “New Collapsing House.” Requires logical deduction with no missteps allowed
Fifth: “Synthesis.” Collapsing House and Hunting Scene.
Sixth: “Strategy.” Emphasizes sacrificial or self-sacrificial battle command/Lemmings-style play
Seventh: “Variety.” Changes of environment, objective or participants while the scene is taking place.

See Appendix 5 for context about the Anomites.


A6 COSMOLEUM

Once upon a time the Anomites used this place to commune with a master in their home universe. Now they hide from it.

There is a large object in the center of this room. It is like the emulsifying interior of a geode and it seems to shift in and out of focus, staggering and sickening you as you look into it. If you had to describe it you might mention ridges of blue on shining black like esoteric shooting stars.

Touching this thing will prepare you to shift into the Anomites’ universe; however, you cannot actually do it as the Ichor Spear in E1 shields this place from theirs. However, it will temporarily expand and constrain your experience of life to be ready for the additional and narrowed layers of perception inherent to the other universe. With no preparation, this projection is similar to what the Anomites experience in the human body: previously unknowable avenues of experience whose every motion is an undreamed-of addiction.

It will be impossible to separate yourself from this thing. Others will have to do it for you. Thereafter, you will long to return to the enticing dreams of the otherworld and all of the things which you will otherwise never again experience. You may fight to return to it. Treat this as a severe drug addiction with no physiological degradation.

There is an Anomite here. A hulking armored form with a ridge of spikes down its back, the head set low at an animal angle, visor of sapphire powdered and set. The veins of this terror-terrapin are mercury and it lurches with the uneven swing of tides before the typhoon time to strike. It swings with every ounce of its mercury distributed so as to maximize its momentum, and its tremendous torque. Its clicking spreads gas on the wind.


A7 APIARY

This is the place where the precious beeswax that turns men to gold is kept. See Appendix 6 for a description of Agrippan beeswax. There is a table where one may lay to receive the painting of the wax; ever after will his skin be clad in golden armor there.
It is said by the coastal folk that the wrath of the Warlocks may be bought off by a flower. This is partially true; it would be more accurate to say that the promise of a load of flowers may spare your life for a time. The reason for this is that the Warlocks require pollen to produce their armor and their stinger grenades.

The Agrippan bees waddle through the air like enormous puffballs, their big eyes seeming to glance as they rotate towards you while they pass by. Their hexagonal heliopoli line the walls and sheer golden ooze swells from their honeycombs.

They are used to people but their stings will turn your flesh to gold where they pierce you; soon after that a nugget will fall out, leaving a chunk missing forever, taking with it nerve and bone if the sting was deep enough (and a good one enters you an inch).


B1 SLAMWALL PLATFORM

A Warlock might be placed here to operate the walls if something unusual is desired by the Anomites observing from B3; there is a lever that controls the action of the walls. The Warlock can also fire into the race arena.


B2 PLAYSET: RACE

There are many tests possible in this place but the favorites of the Anomites are the Death Race, the Press of Battle and the Funnel Web.

The Death Race is simple. Two or more entrants are placed at the eastern entrances. They must each rush for the western door. They may not touch each other. The first through the western doors is safe; the doors will slam shut behind him with incredible force. The second is left behind. All doors lock, and the walls (not just the highlighted section) grind inwards with incredible slowness and loudness. It takes a full hour for the walls to touch in the middle, after which they will recede in a heartbeat.

The Press of Battle: Two parties enter this area from the east and west entrances. The party to the west slightly outnumbers the one to the east. The walled sections indicated on the map grind inwards slowly, and meet after roughly three minutes. The parties must defeat one another, and while the eastern party is outnumbered by the west, if they can contain their enemies in their entry area long enough then their foes will be crushed by the rapidly imposing walls.

The Funnel Web: The entrant(s) enter from the east. A dozen spider-strands pass between the walls in central B2 almost invisibly, but if any one of them is stretched an iota it will disturb the walls and send them wailing in at the entrants, crushing them so fast that B1 will be in the splash zone. Behind the entrants are released hundreds of colorful, starving, meat-crazed, deadly poisonous spiders. Any entrants who make it out the western doors are safe.


B3 OBSERVATION PYRAMID

This is a platform with a pyramid of ascending and descending stairs in the center from where an Anomite might witness the agon of the entrant in B2.


C1 PLAYSET: DECEPTION

Captives awaken on red satin fainting couches underneath the comforting auspices of large potted ferns. This playset looks very much like a beautiful country home’s drawing room. There is an elegantly brocaded floral curtain along the northwestern wall, and several small tables are ready with marvelous delicacies in the center for guests who are hungry and thirsty after their sojourn in the desert and the accompanying horrific nightmare of capture. There are an assortment of furniture pieces etc; a grand piano, a grandfather clock, a chandelier, library shelf with rolling stepladder and a great rolling globe with a world map 100 years out of date set into a table.

There are several games which the Anomites like to play on their guests here after giving them some time to graze and discuss.

Bad News: A Warlock (dressed as a smart butler) enters the room and regretfully informs the guests that the manor is sinking. He indicates that the haggis contains a bladder with enough air for one guest to survive. If they share the bladder, all will drown. The butler then leaves his puzzled guests, and the room begins to fill with water pumped from the aquifer well in F2.

Gentleman’s Rules: A Warlock (dressed as above) enters the room with a platter. Upon the platter is a wine-colored tartan runner with a number of daggers laid upon it equal to the number of guests. Half of the daggers have silver hilts, half of them have golden hilts. The Warlock Butler sets the daggers on a table and informs the guest that once one team has killed the other, they may leave. It is up to those present to sort themselves into teams.

Dark Offerings: After a period of perhaps five minutes has gone by, all of the cakes, melons, bread loaves, oyster ice-beds and casseroles explode. They contained primed Warlock grenades, and now irate scorpions and snakes swarm all over this room. After all guests but one are dead or after fifteen minutes depending on the Anomite officiating the spectacle, the western window will crack open.


C2 LEPIDOANTHROLOGARIUM

There is an Anomite here. A gossamer white robe clinging to fatless, fleshless gifts of snakeskin-wrapped muscle. A straining, skinless head, ivory coins upon the eyes, for once this creature conspired to die. He has concentric wreaths of peacock feathers rising from his back like an aura.

He is a keen lepidoanthropist.

This place is filled with resin-treated corpses of men who have giant pins stuck through their chests into large, elegantly-smoothed wooden display boards. They are remarkably well-preserved. Bronze plates are etched with place names near their feet, phrenological details and informational paragraphs on what is known about their homes.

Some names are familiar. Ascension. Bounty. Mandrake. Starling & Shrike. Troutbridge. Great Loom. Archzenith. These are modern City-States.

Some names are not familiar. Some are recognizable only to skilled archaeologists. Armonadom, felled by a rain of wooden parasitic snakes. Misruzei, imploded by the cosmic withdrawal of a miraculous building material. Navagastar, brought to heel by an ungainsayable legal advocate from before the time of man, so the people scattered themselves to the wind and when all were gone from the capital, finally the slug disappeared.

These bodies are very ancient and decayed.

Especially the man from Misruzei. There he lays a black-boned skeleton swaddled in what remains of a midnight-blue raiment bound fast around his crown by an iron-girt circlet studded with lapis lazuli. Across his chest is a starry nebula of gemstones set in silver, a triptych of treasure hinged about his shoulders and lain atop him like the law tablet of a geode.

Around his bony wrists are white gold bracelets in four quarters around fat dollops of ruby segmenting the monorail. They are bound by tiny gold chains; this was how he closed his eyes, wrists clasped in the high finery of the Anomite age.

This man is is beyond resuscitation.


C3 MEN WHO HAVE FAILED

This is a dank room of rust-colored masonry bricks with collapsed skeletons once suspended from chains screaming in obscenely distended rictus-grins from where they have scattered on the floor. Upon the walls near where they once hung are graven images bearing their fates. One man was chained for buzzards to eat his liver. Another man was wounded so that he couldn’t walk and rats devoured him.
Once, the Anomites attempted to categorize men who failed in the Playsets, but they were overburdened and gave up this science. Now only those who succeed might be preserved in C2.


C4 SPERMACETI AND AMBERGRIS

These are small closets containing substances precious to the Anomites. The east room contains a trove of spermaceti and the west one contains a fortune in ambergris. The Anomites love these smells and can detect them from several rooms away.


C5 SYNCRETIC SHRINES

Once upon a time, when the garden flowed with life, the Anomites insisted that their human servants follow their God.

When the garden fell, the worship of this savage deity was forbidden.

At first the worship of other gods was permitted, but in time the Anomites came to insist that the Warlocks regard them as the sole divines.

Still some statues remain. The Anomites have desecrated these shrines as an example to their servants, but the Warlocks make supplication here nonetheless while respecting their Anomite masters. There are shrines to:

The Moon Bear: This is a veined white marble like a passsng cloud. The huge bear gazes down with concern upon the overburdened and heavy-hearted Warlock.

The Maven: A matronly figure seemingly melded into a chair. The Warlock may sit here briefly, close his eyes, and perhaps hear grandmotherly advice from this sagacious deity.

The Fates: A set of intersecting trapezoids forged from titanium; alas they have been beaten and bent like an old coat hanger. It is said that gazing into these sacral angles may help the viewer set straight and align his actions with the momentum of matter at large; now that this thing has been so ruined, it is unclear whether it is no longer the case or is now actually possible.

When times are good the Warlocks sacrifice only their hair here, not to become too grasping and avaricious, but a finger is the ultimate sacrifice, for if the Anomites discover it then the offender will be cast back into the Playsets.

There is a boy wearing a canvas sack kneeling and praying before the Moon Bear. Behind him stands a Warlock with his arms crossed; while most Warlocks have a few plates of woven gold attached to their arms, legs and bodies, this man seems to have been made of the stuff, and his face is a golden mask within a dark hood. He wears an encompassing purple cloak with an ermine hem. You can glimpse ravaged skin between his armor plates. He is the Honey Knight.

He was a mighty mason taken captive on the dunes. His test in the Playsets was a driftwood castle set afire, with children tied among the highest branches. The mason rescued one but couldn’t reach the other. He dragged his ward through the fire and the flame but was horrifyingly burnt. He is beloved of the Anomites now, who fused his sloughing flesh with the musculata, mask, greaves and braces of gold honey plate from the bees of paradise. He cannot speak any longer, but the boy can tell the party about him.
He despises the mutilated angels. He cares only for the boy he rescued, who was spared from the table using the sole wish granted the mason by the Anomites for his performance.


C6 PLAYSET: MANIFESTATION CHAMBER

This room was a great risk for the Anomites to construct, for the obfuscating power of the Ichor Spear in E1 is not unlimited, but this place is the purest manifestation of their wish to explore mankind’s potential.
Within each of these columns is a sea snail of the old garden, held in stasis in a crystal display cylinder surrounded by a whirling haze of tiny gray mites. Their shells do not lazily manifest runes describing the environment as in A2 but whirl in ticker-tape ant-armies, so fast do the antediluvian sigils print across their spiral surfaces.
The Anomites’ understanding of this universe’s underpinnings (having had much experience dissecting the fundamentals of their own) has been utilized to create a real-time write function accessible by all local parties.
The sea snails provide a neurolinguistic user interface for everyone present so that words spoken in this place can rewrite the physical environment as best the interpreter can manage. The snail pillars are exempt from direct manipulation but could be damaged by e.g. creating an object above them letting it drop. However, The Anomites hold ultimate power in this place, and may override whatever is happening here with a word from without. Unless something happens which they didn’t think of.

Complex or large modifications take time to execute and may happen slowly and visibly, giving the opponents a chance to counterpose against the threat or to get out of the way.

Naturally such a function set is extremely disjointed, imprecise and unstable. Quantities of matter are likely to be disturbed by any activity, crumbling into unbound clouds, having their temperature set at random, or turning local space into a kind of protocosmic vacuum which spreads in spikes and corrupts local matter into unrecognizable and barely-perceptible states.

It is up to the GM to interpret and effect what those present are saying. Normally the Anomites enact 1v1 duels here but whole groups have been sent against each other before. 


D1 OCCULT RELIQUARY

Upon a table draped in purple stands a prize taken in a desert raid against occultists fleeing a purge in Port Cittacotte.

A purple candelabra writ with white engravings, places where the paint has been peeled away to show the white wax wherein there are symbols of universal rebirth, for few things will survive the closing and the opening but one can step outside the galaxy by the incandescent ekembrites instilled in the antediluvian fat of this preconstructed candle. It will entrap you in an alternate energy form and things will be lost in your reassembly but perhaps an element of your consciousness will survive, for that is the only thing somewhat translatable across universes- but even then information is corrupted.

When you burn this candelabra and sit in its center upon a small steel dais set between the candles, you will be entwined and perforated by the mites of the steel mist and writ into energy currents imperceptible to mortals of this dimension; you will be spun into the systematic energetic undercurrents of another universe in a way that is able to keep your consciousness more or less consecutive by locating a set of reoccurring energy streams that are compatible with your pattern. Your location will be held by the mites until it is time for you to return to this universe.
Roll a d20:
1: 71 hours
2-10: d20 years
11-19: d100 x d100 years
d20: d100 x 1M years

When you reenter this universe your consciousness will erase the consciousness of another being of your species who is nearest the place of your departure and you will occupy their body until its natural death. 

If there is no suitable host available, for example if you utilized the candelabra to escape an extinction event, you will be held in a buffer- an energy entrapment pattern in a suitable host such as a star- until there evolves an organism capable of hosting your re-insertion.
Information corruption is inevitable in this process. Roll a d20 for effects:
1-5: -2d20 IQ 
6-10: Retrograde amnesia
11-14: Amygdalian corruption: Extremely poor impulse control and lack of fear
15-18: Hippocampal corruption: Extreme furtiveness and neuroticism
19: Pattern breach: entities rewrite your personality for their purposes or install a backdoor or spy.
20: Left-body paralysis

Naturally this is one way to escape death.


D2 PRISON

This room is divided in two by a set of bars with a door. On the other side of the bars there is a candle on a table in the darkness

There may be several prisoners here. They may make for contingency PCs in case the party takes casualties. These characters may also be used in Playsets if the PCs are captured or happen to witness a Playset drama taking place.

Count Uriel Underglaze: His people were conquerors who took many city states across the Wine, setting themselves up as a warrior aristocracy. They ruled for many generations but finally there was a peasant revolt of unprecedented magnitude and many of the high families were butchered. Those who survived fled and brought with them their capabilities; Underglaze has all the skills of a medieval knight, an early modern reiter and an industrial era rancher. His kit is in the sodden coffers in U2; it consists of a lance tipped with an anti-tank grenade, ten .44 revolvers (eight to be worn down the chest and two at the thighs), a chain shirt, three shortswords and a longsword in a kind of joint scabbard, a beautiful tapestry depicting the settling of his homeland, and a bag with 110 ounces of gold coins.
By and large his people no longer wed amongst themselves or live as organized warriors, and their people will fade in a generation.

Sheshach: A linguist from Port Cittacotte. He can interpret much of the ancient language used in this place. He has been hit with a love dart and the boundaries of his perception are expanding until they no longer exist and he is completely incapacitated. He is sort of dying but if taken to C6 while he is still able to speak he will become a kind of demigod until/if his mind totally disintegrates.

Ashchenaz: A bounty hunter from the coastal hills who walks among the wandering tribes of the Heroön Coast. He rides about on a horse and when he has a bounty he turns up with his prize in tow holding a thin rope of horsehair woven throughout fresh piercings in the man’s body. He is hulking, fearsomely scarred and has been known to simply pick up his quarry over his shoulders and walk off with them. His kit has been carried off to the coffers in U2, for he saw the Warlocks bringing it there. It consists of: a 20’ horsehair rope with a kusarigama at the tip, a basin for producing mare’s milk liquor, a chain of blood sausages made from the blood of his horse, a coach gun and a bundle of javelins. The javelins are connected at the tips by a net, so when thrown they will expand so as to entangle the target.

Ashton Summerbird: The Remittance Man; the quarry of S&S detectives in the party.
He is pale and has big cheekbones, big cheeks, eyes like knives. His head is set low on his shoulders.
He traveled here on his own volition with nothing but a compass and the clothes on his back.
He was given the test of the burning driftwood, just like the Honey Knight. He laughed at his good fortune till he was bent double, for he had prepared for deadly combat and horrific torture. He simply walked away from the castle and admired its collapse, thrilling to the shrill screams of its cargo.
The Anomites despise him and keep him alive only by the terms of their covenant. He expected to be admired for his logic and ruthlessness, and will conspire to use the party to lead him to a new home; but certainly not his father’s estate in Vineforest, who will put him in a dungeon for the rest of his life should he return. Should the party insist upon taking him to Vineforest, he will appear to cooperate and wait for his chance to have the party destroyed, after which he will continue to wreak havoc in the world. Should they try to take him there by force, he will become their nemesis until killed.
As a minor son of a Vineforest Duke, he was given extensive combat and wilderness survival training throughout his entire education.
He will try to kill the Honey Knight’s boy, safe in the knowledge that the detectives have come to rescue him (or are wandering gunmen who won’t really care, as long as he can help them).

He longs to throttle fawns with his bare hands.


D3 PLAYSET: SINKING SHIPS

The ships are impossibly curvaceous and have bay windows at the waterline and fireplaces in the bilge. Whoever designed these has never seen real ships before. They are smashed and set at sinking angles in a 1’ deep layer of water held in an open cistern. Scenarios which captured PCs or other unfortunates might be subjected to here:

Spillage: The ships are greased with whale fat and the water treated with a poison which will necrotize flesh on contact. The participants must cross ship, crate and plank to reach the “shore”, the edge of the cistern, and escape the situation.

Magazine Hit: One of these ships contains a powder magazine that is counting down to detonation and the participants must determine which one, because it will detonate after an unknown time. They must hide on the far side of a ship from the magazine, for the ship that explodes will blast deadly wooden shrapnel throughout this entire place. Those who enter the water have water moccasins fired at them by waiting Warlocks.

Broken-Backed War: The culminating exercise, when the Anomites feel it’s time to set up a new meta-scenario in this chamber. Set in the twilight moments of a naval battle where all ships are sinking but the sailors and marines must fight on. One side must defeat the other, or the survivors of one ship must defeat all others. The ships are set close enough for leaping boarding actions, and the participants must be quick because the surface of the water has been coated in oil and set on fire, and the ships are copper-bottomed but made of wood.


D4 OBSERVATION WEST

A small group of botanists from Feyglade are present here. They are a secret society who comes to this place to view the Playset games, paying the Anomites in pollen for the thrill.


D5 OBSERVATION EAST

A number of prisoners from Archzenith are present beneath the spectator boxes. Their leader is an Archzenith noble who fancied himself an explorer. With him are two savage Affidavit spider-lodge warriors as bodyguards, and a pair of enslaved POWs from Palmgrove who were acting as the noble’s palanquin-bearers.

The coffers in U2 contain the noble’s gilded silk sash, dual smoothbore shotpistols, and the Affidavits’ powdermanes, boning knives and rotary jezzails. Even disarmed, once they begin to hunt these Affidavit warriors will gradually sprout extra arms and eyes. In an exercise in D3 they will begin hunting the foe, and then go to the porters, and then go to the noble as necessary, and then finally one will submit to the other to be executed should the scenario require a single victor.


E1 ICHOR SPEAR ROOM

This room contains steps up to a raised platform with a dais containing an intricate clockwork of intersecting loops of various colors and some unknown cream-colored metal forming bolts fastening a central plate, in the heart of which stands a great golden spear with spirals of coral etched like ibex horns curling to the base and at the top a conic mound of outré ichor. This burbling pile is an opaque, sunny blue like tropical waters.

There is an Anomite here. He is a creature half-petrified; for he longed for his original form, so like wood he bound himself in volcanic ash until much of his flesh became rock. Still he lives and hungers. Within his ribcage hangs an ambergris brazier whose silkclouds snake between spice-speckled bones. He has a flame in his face.
This one never trusted its osseous chassis and left a structural backdoor to shed it. It does so if trapped, for its pseudoenergetic form is only an approximation of its original, which was transliterated to utilize structural building-blocks found in this universe but not its own; it will soon die anyway and return to its own dimension for judgement, but it will not risk doing so trapped in a parahuman form.

The Ichor Spear is the Anomites’ sole defense against their furious master in their home universe, and it is fastened to this point in reality with such wards that it will not be removed by any temporal power; but there are atemporal powers that may unfasten it...


E2 PLAYSET: MACHINE

This place is a mechanical nightmare of articulating armblades, piston levers with mismatched counterparts and whirling steel cables attached to runners on complex and rarely-repeating wall track patterns. You might think the central axes would be the safest place to be because things are observable there, but that’s where the whipping is most inescapable.
Normally entrants must simple escape this place. Occasionally they must survive for five minutes, or enter to recover an object from near the center before escaping again.


E3 SUNROOM

The garden of old has been preserved in this place. It is very warm and humid; light pours in from without, and tiny holes here and there from the floor allow in wet air from tunnels dug into the aquifer. Weeping bells of tangerine and green, vines lit with tiny sprigs hugging the walls like 2D roses, reams of butterflies to make a Cynthian lepidopterist green with envy, stately flowers with roots thick enough to be barked, gazing holly-heads with seeds thick enough to be eaten, little succulents like white grapes burbling out of the soil. The scent here is heady after the desert, and it would be tempting to join the plants in languid repose were it not for the Anomite here, tending the garden.
Plates of ivory, plates of jet in harlequin diamond round him set. Red eyes gleam past a twinkling mask held before his face on a pair of little protrusions from his upper chest, one jet and one ivory. A golden wreath sits about sunken temples; you recognize the leaves of this shoot to have been taken from this place.


E4 BARRACKS

This place is a dizzying network of white ropes and nets suspended in the air; looking about it’s like entering a giant, bright spider’s nest, but actually it’s where the Warlocks spend their sleeping shifts; this place contains six layers of hammocks from floor to ceiling.


F1 STOREROOM

The Warlocks live on caravan raiding. This is where their bounty is kept. Aching moats of rice greet the party when they enter, bags blasted open by being flung on the floor spilling alps of shivering snow-spikes, here and there bales of barley by the bushel wound up in twine and hairy like filth-matted dogs, buckets of beans like ten thousand inverse eyes all distended pupil with but a fleck of white to bear the burden, sausages rotating in space like medals to be contemplated, pears on pears in baskets pushing stem down into mottled flesh like sister-sabotaging bucket crabs, whole heaps of jerky on bloodstained butcher paper, their innermost reaches bearing an ephemeral glow like the last light in the eyes of a dying life, sweet potatoes with their skin split in transit looking like autumn in the earth, dumplings losing face and deflating before the onslaught of pretzel sticks tearing them gaping and shivering to spill a salty brew from their innards inappropriately over the crystalline skin of ripe apples whose fragrance dominates all, a spring victor, orchard king, ringing word of plenty over the meek voices of subtler cohorts. The Warlocks could bathe in their grain, riding ass-first down dusty piles of oats or diving nosefirst into vast quivering casks of strawberry jam, swinging about on whole banana bunches like lemonade chandeliers, or climbing two-by-two vast ropes of licorice slimy and dank like the pseudopods of a giant spider’s nasal parasite. The giant erotic ass of a plum. The butter bounty of coffee beans, mudstaining cocoa lumps like unicorn turds, calamari tentacles that point accusingly over the ice, you, you, you.


F2 WELL

This is a bitter well that draws from the aquifer. There is enchanted water beneath this garden, but this is not it. That said, it is a pleasant place and water lilies float atop the dark water.

There is an Anomite here. A palanquin his own four legs wrapped regally in crimson cape held hand-in-hand before his chest, a lace of gold brocade an inch from every bangled lip. He lays against a seatback throne of velvet pierced with brazen studs, it balanced on his rearmost thighs with oaken slats on femur set. He is a howdah and a burden-beast, a puppet hand and his own priest.


F3 LYNXHOUND CARAVANSARY

For rapid or heavily-burdened actions the Warlocks use long trains of dogsleds designed to be pulled over the sand dunes.

Each sled train contains four or five distinct segments, each being dragged behind the last, which can be loaded up with cargo, prisoners, or mount a weapon; indeed, several of the sleds have machine guns or mortars bolted to their base.

This is a likely mode of escape, but the Warlocks are likely to follow you should you not disable every train except the one you’re taking. This could be an interesting time for a sandstorm.
This place is guarded by at least a dozen Warlocks, although should they hear trouble elsewhere in the complex some of them may go to help.


F4 LYNXHOUND KENNEL

This room contains a number of blocks, platforms and little wooden or masonry arches. The lynxhounds yawn languidly; they have draped themselves over nearly everything in this place, and many will need to be shoved off their perches and hooked into their harnesses before they’ll remember their duties.


U1 STAIRWELL OF SOULS

This is the underworld. It is a dank and sodden place and in the darkness can be seen strands and weaves of thornvines like brown barbed wire. There is a slight electrical current running through the marshy ground.

https://dysonlogos.blog/maps/geomorph-mapping-project/
Note: I have modified the layout of this map from its original manifestation by enclosing it.

This is where the Beastmaster breeds his serpentry.

Scattered all throughout the underground are balls of snakes in mating pits glinting with the static electricity which has been excited by their bodies as they coil and slither together in the wet soil. Coming too close to a pit will startle the snakes, who will burst outwards in a 15’ sphere. The skin-on-skin of the eruption loads every snake with a strong electric charge

They are not the only denizens of this place.

Many brides perished in those first days of horror. Some of heartbreak, some of hemlock, some, finally, upon the table. But some remain.

They were pushed beneath the garden near the waters that once washed them and their quarters given over to the strange animals bred by the Anomites as ammunition.

They wander here in the funnels between deadroot and foundation where the vines which the waters snaked past to caress the garden’s thigh are now poisoned by spite and thirst. For the brides who remain here have not forgotten the solar caress which they once knew, though the angels have forgotten them. So near the mother of rains these women have not perished but their subterranean yearning has warped them into clomping hags just as it has twisted the roots of the poisonous coils of thorns.

The Crones are still massively sympathetic to the Anomites and their people; they remember the days when the Hanging Gardens were built for them. They believe the Anomites will remember them yet. They are aware many women did not survive the fall. They are unaware of the Anomites’ self-emasculation.
They wander these caverns and carry poisoned pins which inflame wounds. They will hang you on poisoned thorns and torment you with their pins for threatening their angels.


U2 COFFERS

There are several wooden caskets in which the Warlocks keep treasure which they don’t want to turn over to the Anomites. Firearms all have a supply of ammunition.
Crate 1: A lance tipped with an anti-tank grenade, ten .44 revolvers (eight to be worn down the chest and two at the thighs), a chain shirt, three shortswords and a longsword in a kind of joint scabbard, a beautiful tapestry depicting the settling of his homeland, and a bag with 110 ounces of gold coins.
Crate 2: A 20’ horsehair rope with a kusarigama at the tip, a basin for producing mare’s milk liquor, a chain of blood sausages made from horse blood, a coach gun and a bundle of javelins. The javelins are connected at the tips by a net, so when thrown they will expand so as to entangle a target.
Crate 3: A noble’s gilded silk sash, dual smoothbore shotpistols, and the Affidavits’ powdermanes, boning knives and rotary jezzails
Crate 4: A supply of illicit cheese smuggled to this place to be sampled by friends of high-status warlocks. A wheel of gruyère with a cheese knife stuck in it, a tin of water with a net in which a number of orbs of muzzarella 'e vufera bob, and, stunningly, a lightly capped truckle of casu martzu in full bloom with a dessert fork resting within.


U3 UPWELLING

The waters wait, dark and hidden with congested magic.

They curl about themselves soft and azure glowing within rich and warm soil beneath the fallow planters of their fallen gardens. This is where the waters have built a bower in which to lay, a place of richness in an ocean of sand. They dream of the sun and sky that once made them glitter, now cut off on the other side of the Garden’s wall. The waters look to the four winds and wait to meet once more such a desire as once inspired them in times of cool spring. They bore fruit for the love of angels and womankind, and this valley was a bedsheet for their rapture. Alas the hearts of angels as men are inconstant and when blood began to soil the sweet streams of the sea snails the waters recoiled and recalled their melody from the sounding valley. 

With nowhere to go in this vast desert, the waters fell back into the aquifer and wept while the garden hung with husks and the stones who had known dancing feet cracked beneath the weight of their bereavement. 

As you go by, if you gaze into this startling pool of glowing sapphire blue water, it will languidly extend a warm pseudopod and caress you for a moment, before falling back once more. It will quietly say a prayer for you as you go on.

The partymember whose desire is strongest may lay with and be one with the waters should the Anomites be destroyed. His desire will bloom the desert and bring it to life again, and he will find what it is he seeks.

See Appendix 4: The Valley in Bloom if this happens.


U4 TEMPLETOP

A cathedral in the deep; a sign of the earliest times.

You pass a pair of statues each half sunken in the mud. They are tall, thin, beautiful men, their arms like reeds, their faces sightless and serene. Their alabaster bodies are stained and cracked. These were Anomites before they clad themselves in ceramic, steel, snakeskin and stone.

Beyond them is a steeple poking from the mud at an odd angle. It reaches for the heavens with terracotta tiles and around the walls below the roofing sections are graven four faces of civilization: the Sun Lion, the Moon Bear, the Burning Eye and the Clockmaker. These deities are commonly worshipped in this world. Should the party remove the terracotta and stucco they will find the steeple and walls are made of an unknown, shimmering, lavender-colored stone-metal, for in addition to being a temple this was once a form of transuniversal rebroadcasting station.


U5 HIDDEN ALTAR

This altar is accessible only by a harsh squeeze. The hags have grown too large to enter this place; only the Warlocks know of it. The altar here is to the Hymnsinger, and those who have suffered psychic damage can kneel here and be guided by the goddess of prayer-song to recite in trochaic tetrameter improvised verses about their deeds, lives and times. Roll a d6.
5-6: The singer creates a memorable narrative in their song and it helps them fit their memories into a logical schema, soothing them and helping them metabolize their experiences. The effects of their psychic damage are lessened, by one step if they are measured on a scale.
1-4: The damage they have suffered is not of a type that can be healed by an ordering of thought and experience.
This can be attempted once per character. Characters who have a knack for this kind of thing may attempt it twice.


U6 THE STONE

Waist-deep in water is a stone. It was once tall and majestic, a tablet of law for a thousand tiny tribes who once stood in harmony beholding his kneeling shoulders. When the angels came the people besought him, “o stone of worth and prophecy, give our bodies to the angels that we may host the gift of God.” And the stone did as they asked and gave union to seven men of the tribes and the seven angels lit with celestial fire (for they too were stones).

But they were usurpers, and in time the men of the tribes played treason upon the stone and rolled it into this clammy nightmare cave where loping hags rake it with their bone-white dripping talons to keep the lengths down. The waters of the aquifer set loose by the dimming of the garden began to pour past the rock in eternal retreat and thus he has been much diminished, the old laws all but washed away, his hulking form shrunken like a prized head.

He wants revenge and will say as much. The party finds him half-submerged and crooked in waist-high water. He will speak to them in terms of their strange missions, for time and erosion have humbled him. He will offer to unlock the Angels’ greatest treasure for the party, or whatever else he can give or promise to remove him from this grinding hell. Two could roll him, four could carry him. He describes the treasure of the Anomites; a great golden spear with spirals of coral etched like ibex horns curling to the base and at the top a conic mound of outré ichor bought at blood-price from otherworldly outlaws when the garden first fell. This burbling pile is an opaque, sunny blue like tropical waters and is priceless beyond priceless to any who would know the places where the incompatible incomparable matter of universes intersect and misalign themselves. The stone will offer to use what power it has left to unlock the spear from its moorage, for the spear can be used to destroy the angels for good. This is true in a broad sense. 

When the spear is removed from its docket, a great burning sigil silently appears above a nearby mountaintop. The livid, star-fusion bars of blinding, steam-wreathed light form an esoteric, angular eye which glares down on the valley of its betrayal, for this is a manifestation of the Angels’ master and the removal of their spear has unhidden them. The mountain weeps like bloody wax beneath the burning eye, a lava lament for lost children.

The valley heats horrifically as the burning eye bathes it in macro-microwave which flash-focuses about the bones of the warlocks, His marrow superheating sight blasting their bones like alabaster shrapnel through ragged flesh and fabric, remnants flopping like spongiform aquatic animals. A burning blasting pillar-ray erupts from the starlight iris of the burning eye and goes raking through the valley rocks and what is left of garden stone goes blasting wide beneath the pulse of godly mighty thunder-wrath, a beam of vengeance long denied. This superpowered electrolaser is like a thousand bolts of lightning woven together into a constant strand and demolishes all discrete forms in the valley.

That is the punishment of mortals. About the Anomites grow shimmering and then all-consuming vortices; localized gravitational axes that slowly and with relish twist the Anomites into coiled ropes, barely-recognizable ridges of color and texture denoting what had been where, now wrapping tape for their horrifically constricted and elongated bodies. The vortices of the burning eye wrap these angel-coils about each other into a great multicolored beehive of twisted material which it then turns its electrolaser upon and sears into a molten bundle of inconstant colors and alternatingly clinging and weeping materials. The Anomites will remain in this bundle as it cools, and there they shall experience the full rigor of the Burning Eye’s justice as their trained, insatiable hunger can meet no peace.

There they shall fuse and harden and experience a long, slow death of starvation and calcification, and their fading essences shall not be captured by their home universe. This woven, spiral-bodied cask of angel flesh shall be of immeasurable worth to any who study mysterious science or the divine

Players need to face d4 deadly challenges each to survive this cleansing, such as staggering through superheated air, lifting burning boulders from the way to shelter, dropping behind crushed masonry and rolling to put out one’s burning clothes, rushing to a blasted Warlock and using his burble-boiling gore-slicked corpse as a fireshield, diving from the way of an armed collapsing warrior statue, and evading the very beam of the Burning Eye.

Once the last of the Anomites have been twisted into their barrel-form, the great electrolaser will dissipate and the burning eye will grow translucent before disappearing, bathing the charnel valley in night once more. 

After this, if the stone has not been destroyed it will relax and go dormant unless the GM can think of something he’d really like to use it for. For those interested, the rock was once a forge chimera who spent a day and a night immersed in molten gold and emeralds; his siphoned ashes became the rock. This was long ago.

As noted in U4, many in this world worship a deity known as the Burning Eye. Worshippers of the Burning Eye in good standing are not affected by its onslaught. However, if the Eye detects the trace of servitude to the Anomites upon the players it will annihilate them with the Warlocks.

Alas, vengeance of the burning eye is fell and indiscriminate. The waters beneath die in the heat. This leads to a sandstorm that will never end in this valley, which begins roughly fifteen minutes after the disappearance of the burning eye.

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APPENDIX 1 - EYES ONLY: 7/2 0330 AIRBORNE OP CHALK

Addition 1 (Airborne Brief) to Tab J (Operation Index) to Appendix 7 (Special Reconnaissance) and Appendix 9 (Personnel Recovery) to Annex D (Starling & Shrike Contracting Authority) to Council Order 1

Concept of Operations
Who: Enneaplane (prize) Swallowtail chalk + attachments
What: Night airborne operation
When: 7/2 0330 wheels up to 7/2 0530 time on target to 7/2 0730 touchdown
Where: S&S airfield and DZ 022 649 High Desert Heroönlands
Why: Special Reconnaissance and Personnel Recovery pursuant to Contract D114 SR0002 PR0001, client Duke Marcus Summerbird for his seventh son Ashton Summerbird.

Report - Special Reconnaissance Cell Starling & Shrike
Target: Ashton Summerbird
Descriptors: Pale, chestnut brown haired, brown eyes
Anthropological Classification: Lordling
Known Associates: Antinatalist terrorist cell Ringwyrm in vicinity of Cities on the Plain
Last known location: Little Iguanas, Coastal Heroönlands Outlying Islands
Whereabouts: Little Iguanas outfitter reports Papinchaon, roughly “Place of Seduction”. CIC Heroönlands indicates site #00003 Gardens of Anomie, Heroönlands High Desert.

Report - Cultural Intelligence Cell Heroönlands
Apocryphal legends tell of a people from a Hanging Garden who brought good tidings to the coasts and islands from the middle of the high desert. In the words of an ancient chronicler, they reported having “bloomed the desert with their desire.”
This ended when the rivers of the garden, which extended to the coast, began to drive the people of the coasts insane with their runoff. “The Garden was a cup of unwatered wine.”
The only complete records are from the middle days of their diplomacy when messengers were sent to the Garden to complain, and returned mutilated.
Some time after this, the coastal folk warred with the “Warlocks” of the high desert and were finally forced by their magic to pay tribute in cash, crop, kine and people.
One day the Warlocks retreated from their holdfasts on the coast and returned to the high garden. The rivers dried up. From that day, severe sandstorms have plagued the high desert. But the warlocks did not disappear; to this day they raid caravans who dare to penetrate the desert interior.
The Gardens are designated site #00003 Gardens of Anomie and are believed to be ruins, but internal maps have yet to be made.

Contract - D114 SR0002 PR0001
Contractor: Recover Ashton Summerbird and remand him to the custody of Duke Marcus Summerbird of Vineforest.
Client: Upon receipt of Ashton Summerbird not having lost life (-2800) limb (-1000) or eyesight (-1000) in transit, Duke Marcus Summerbird deposits 3000 ounces of .999 gold to S&S Banking Liaison Troutbridge. S&S Contracting Officer Vineforest receives 300oz. D114 SR0002 PR0001 detectives and attachments receive 2700oz.
Addendum: Special Reconnaissance Cell Starling & Shrike mapping bounty on #00003 “Valley of Anom.” 800 ounces of .999 gold transferred to designated S&S bank account.


APPENDIX 2 - LEGEND OF CHAINED WATERS

You may be a strangler from the Crag of Songs; you may be a mud-slitherer of the Place of Things. You may be a thunder-ravisher of the Heroön hills; you may be an Affidavit heroin priest
You have heard a legend of the Hanging Gardens and the waters trapped beneath.

You know of the shrouded warlock-men in the desert’s highest house, for necessity has drawn you nigh them. The Queen of All the Rains is held captive by a host of devils, and she yearns to be set free again by the force of your heart’s desire. You have been called forth for this mission to unlock these captive waters because you alone among your clan have a wish strong enough to inspire the waters again, as in the days of old when celestial love bloomed that valley white and green.
What is this wish?


APPENDIX 3 - DESERT WARLOCK INTERROGATION REPORT

A Missive from Sir Epixton Lycaemilae, Her Expeditionary Claimant to the Heroön Coast:

Records from every tribe and city along the Heroön Coast report once paying tribute to a lost hanging garden in the desert. Logically, this would be a site worth excavating. To any Knight who can find it for me I grant the right to all the plunder which can be carried out in a day by his manservants.

A note: Servants, Stewards and Sea Legionnaires, you will not be granted this right, so look to your duties.

To those wishing to undertake such an expedition I will consign four palanquins with a dromedary caravan for luxury necessities, as well as a crew of porters and body servants from Port Cittacotte. Auxiliaries or Sea Legionnaires will have to be financed by whomever answers the call.

Now for some intelligence I’ve acquired about the nature of this “Hanging Garden”.

I recently purchased a prisoner from the Cape Cittacotte security forces. This man was captured in a failed raid on a caravan en route to Port Cittacotte from Dunwren. The surviving caravan guards described being assaulted by spells which conjured snakes and scorpions from thin air. Several caravanners died of venom in the days following the attack; others gradually entered a dissociative and then comatose state, having to be fed by tube before being taken off life support.

Both the caravanners and the security men referred to the captive as a “Warlock of the High Desert”; a traditional enemy of the tribes and cities of the Heroön Coast. Their ability to conjure creeping things is well-known.

This “Warlock” was stupendously resistant to torture; I wouldn’t have believed he could speak our tongue if the Heroön Coasters hadn’t assured me he could. I tortured him with cold water, electricity, truncheon, cuts on the shoulders (working around the golden plating I found to have been somehow bound to his skin), finally I moved down and worked his palms and fingertips with the blade before he swallowed his tongue; only after I pulled it free with pliers did he relent and begin to address my questions.

Here is what I gathered:

-The Gardens are located at a ~270° grid azimuth from Port Cittacotte, given that he gave Mount Saggar as a point of reference.
-There are several hundred warlocks just like him. Tread lightly. A “return expedition” may be needed if you find this place.
-Their spells are prepared at the Garden; these were taught to them by their masters. The warlocks call them with their magic staffs. None were collected from the ambush site; the surviving warlocks retrieved them before retreating.
-Their society is led by “Anomites”. He describes them as sky giants; however, he began to panic while attempting to describe their origins, and when he finally calmed down it seems he’d developed the wherewithal to bite through his own tongue and drown himself in blood. I thought this was about as much detail as I was going to get, and so I allowed him to expire.

Well, come join me at the Heroön Coast and take your share of the archaeological and astrological plunder.

Sir Epixton Lycaemilae, Her Expeditionary Claimant to the Heroön Coast


APPENDIX 4 - VALLEY IN BLOOM

First an azure glinting in the darkness of the sand. The night falls in the day and prismatic lights whip in flitting weaves far over the desert floor. Suddenly an upswelling from a hundred hidden waterspouts and electric azure light erupts again from its deeping prison. In a heartbeat latent seeds are spread and burst to life, filling the waiting air with ferns, saplings, springs and boughs. The water washes your feet and kisses your calves. Roots take hold and wander beneath the earth and flagstones crack and moan, giving way to the union of the waters and their hero.

There is no more tan sand in this valley but rich soil; a desert rainforest. The mountains cover themselves in the bright and shining fur of light green trees.

The old pyramidal houses of the garden crumble. The lavender cathedral in the deep has risen, and inside of it you will find what you have sought.

Note: one who has died on this adventure may come back to life if that is your most heartfelt desire.


APPENDIX 5 - THE ANOMITES

The people welcomed them in and gave them pseudo-human forms.

The angels cried over sun and earth, shackled by skin and nerve. But they turned their burning souls to love. They made the salt mesa a Hanging Garden for their beloveds. They made the waters sweet with their creations.

The people lived like gods, eating of the fruit trees and waiting on their tall and lovestruck masters. They danced among the courts of the coast, who agreed that it was a fine thing that angels and human women should make love upon the earth. The first of the Warlocks were the angels’ highest advisors; shapers and assemblers. And they were men who could find no wives, so many did the angels take.

Every impulse was contained by a hair’s breadth.

Those of the river valley came to the gardens and told the Anomites that the river of Anom had been bothering them greatly; a plague of poisonous snails. The Anomites replied that the waters were most pleasing and cut the noses, ears and lips from the messengers in a paroxysm of desire.
The innocence of the garden was shattered in the eyes of the cities and tribes.

The angels gave themselves to gluttony. At first there were burnt sacrifices which the Anomites devoured thereafter. In time they no longer could bear cooked flesh and turned to the living. They first ate the flesh of their wives.

There was once a seventh Anomite, but it was murdered- truly murdered, that its soul would not return to its home universe- when it refused to join their carnivorous covenant.

With the women gone, the men of this place turned upon their herds until the Anomites devoured those too.

With the withdrawal of the waters and the curling of the hanging gardens, where were they to eat of meat? Who were to be their cupbearers in the drought? Here I am, said the flock. I am the meat. I am the cup. And the shepherd ate of the lamb.

And what is eaten by the lamb? That which it treads underfoot.

And so the war of raids began.

Their foe was a mother with seventy sons, walled cities all, burnt and emptied by the Anomites and Warlocks, their women to the platter, and soon thereafter, their men to the Playsets, for during the war the Anomites came to revere mankind.

The very presence of the Garden turned the nearby tribes to confession and repentance. Their only hope became the destruction of the earth, and so they prophesied it in their anguish. And then one day, the warlocks left them and went back to their Hanging Gardens.

The Anomites had pared themselves down until only hunger and bloodlust remained. Their whole bodies are masks.

The war has ended, but the raids continue.

Their blood is mana to man.


APPENDIX 6: THE FRUITS OF THE GARDEN

Tales of the Warlock-raiders of Anomie describe sorcerous staffs of many powers.

Indeed. They have many means of capturing you for the blood pits or the tablecloth.

There are three categories of staffshell: dumbfire, airburst and discarding-sabot.

Seer’s stone: Dumbfire crystal linked to a Warlock’s glass eye.

Fin-stabilized discarding sabot serpent shell: This is the extreme long-range Warlock Grenade due to the lightness of its warhead. A snake encased to the neck in a rigid, fin-stabilized tube. The user adjusts the snake-release range by moving a sliding knob up or down the staff to set the detonation distance before firing. When the missile has reached 90% of its range, a gunpowder fuse (set by the slide) detonates and frees the enraged serpent to strike at whoever it lands near. This round is also useful as a close-range chemical weapon because the serpent’s venom sac can be squeezed with a thumb, ejecting a spray; this can be employed once a day or so assuming the serpent has been fed. The fin-stabilized discarding-sabot concept would be a valuable prize for city-state engineers.

Scorpiorion shell: Airburst round loading dozens of small megavenomous scorpions. Their hemotoxic stings bloat up extremities to 2-3 sizes their original mass, drooping, useless, red, and necrotizing into the bloodstream. This shell uses the aforementioned sliding knob to set the scorpiorion shell’s detonation range fuse before firing.

Agrippan beeswax stinger grenade: The fruits of the hanging garden’s beekeepers, this alchemical wonder bursts in the air and sprays a misting of molten beeswax over the target area. Once exposed to oxygen the beeswax bonds at the molecular level with whatever it touches and gradually sets into a ceramic as hard as stone over the course of about a minute. Simple water will prevent the bonding process if applied within 30 seconds, though this was a sacrifice Anom’s enemies were often unwilling to make. This is the origin of the golden-armored bodies of the Warlocks; it is not gold or gilded, but hard-set Agrippan beeswax permanently bound into their flesh. This is a sacrifice; the unnatural and interruptive grafts bother the warriors all day.

Armor piercing discarding sabot love dart penetrator: The love dart of a psychoactive river snail from the time of the hanging gardens. It is sharp-tipped and somewhat rigid, but bendy enough that you could use it to strangle a foe from behind. The dart drips in anticipation. If it hits, d4 snails begin gestation inside the target, emitting megadoses of hallucinogen intended to incapacitate the target while keeping them alive during the three-day gestation period. While the hallucinogen is technically nontoxic, it will gradually psychologically dissolve the target.
5 minutes: the victim begins to see the material world disassociated from his or her personal frame or schema; instead of seeing the world in an instrumental way, the victim simply sees the matter of the objects in question and must focus very hard to know what to do with them and what their context even is.
8 hours: the victim will have developed a radically open personality.
24 hours: the victim will only barely recognize familiar forms; they will be capable of gardening unsupervised, and that’s about it.
48 hours: the victim is completely psychically dissolved and able to respirate but not swallow
72 hours: the snail worms its way out of the host’s rectum.
The only way to stop the process is the surgical removal of the embryonic snails. The surgeon should be careful as the snail ichor carries the hallucinogen. 
An alternative round is the love dart flechette canister round, which contains a bundle of love darts from sea snails younger than the ones which standard darts are derived from. When these canister rounds burst, a shotgun blast of small love darts hits the target area. Each delivers only a single embryonic sea snail rather than the d4 from a mature penetrator.

Diamond dust round: The cloud from this airburst round perforates lungs and degloves eyes.

Art - First Run