Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Nabu - Part Five

7408 Sandstone Quarry: An ancient Nabu quarry of sand-stone has been re-opened by a clan of 324 dwarf exiles. The dwarfs live in burrows dug into the upper portions of the quarry and have created a great hall, a shrine of Pluto and Vulcanus and a fortified treasure room guarded by a sand trap. The community has 15 warriors in scale armor with shield and axe and a similarly armed and armored sergeant named Hvaxi. The miners are led by a council of elders. They also tend goats and make a potent liquor from mushrooms grown in their burrows.

Dwarf Warrior (15): HD 1 (8 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 6; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Detect stonework.

Hvaxi: HD 3 (24 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8+1); Move 6; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Detect stonework.

7435 Mekhosis the Mind Master: A powerful psychic called Mekhosis has repaired an abandoned castle and keep located near the western border of this hex. The castle is built atop a granite prominence within sight of the river. Here, Mekhosis plumbs the depths of the Astral Plane and has congress with strange creatures from beyond.

The castle is constructed of sandstone and consists of an outer wall (30’ tall, 10’ thick), courtyard with fountains and gardens of mind-altering herbs, fruit trees and mandrake root and a keep (30’ tall, 40’ square).

Mekhosis employs 36 men-at-arms and a gruff sergeant-at-arms named Gamil to maintain order. The warriors wear tall, saffron turbans and Egyptian-style kilts over their ring armor. They arm themselves with spears, tulwars and short bows, and are accomplished horse archers. Mekhosis employs 50 servants, including cooks, maids, jongleurs and musicians. He also has a court astrologer named Haphis and an overbearing major domo named Stavro. Haphis and Stavro are lovers, but also bitter rivals.

Mekhosis keeps a harem of seven psychic women, all students and devoted lovers of the Mind Master. The harem consists of Umbalna of Cush, Semphis and Azalia of Ibis, Kiva the Chalkeion (HD 5, hp 20, AC 5 [14]), Jambe of Kirikersa, Kamlaa the Aziza* and Shashua of Mu-Pan. All of the women save Kiva attack as level 3 monks (HD 3, hp 18, AC 7 [12]) and are capable of reading minds.

Mekhosis is usually benign, but he does suffer from rare and violent mood swings. He is a true gourmand, and weighs nearly 300 pounds. He is usually found in his hall, seated atop a pile of velvet cushions, his body swathed in silken robes that part enough to reveal his bulging, sweaty form beneath, an ivory pipe carved to resemble two wrestling youths (50 gp) clenched between his teeth. He is always surrounded by a dozen warriors and his sergeant and a flurry of serving boys and maids catering to his every whim. His castle stores include almost any food, drink or spice one might think of, some of it plucked from the weird planets that float in the Astral Plane, the rest purchased from trading ships who visit regularly from Ibis. The great hall is decorated with rich tapestries (12,600 gp).

Mekhosis’ treasury is a small demi-plane of sapphire sand and amber skies that can be reached using astral travel. It is protected by an enslaved djinn called Mazimik. The treasure is kept in a large alabaster cistern carved in weird alien designs that causes confusion in those who gaze upon it and fail a saving throw. The treasure consists of 6,300 cp, 2,037 sp, 2,475 ep, 228 gp, 111 pp, a bronze figurine of a boy with a massive, cubic head (3 gp), a silver signet ring decorated with tourmalines (20 gp), two masterwork weapons, a heavy mace and a trident, made of bronze and covered in swirling silver tracery (100 gp each) and a cursed papyrus scroll which de-magics the nearest magic item when read.

Mekhosis, Psychic Lvl 10: HP 48; AC 9 [10]; Save 6 (4 vs mind magic); Special: Astral projection, ESP, memerism, psionic blast, telepathy, sixth sense, mental resistance +2; silver dagger, vial of perfume, vial of poison, potion of giant control (orange and opaque, biting taste, conical glass container).

* Aziza are tall, gaunt, mahogany-skinned elves from the jungles of Cush.

7532 Fortress of the Lurker: An old Nabu tower rests here. Built of limestone and sandstone, it rises 20 feet tall and has a 10-ft square base. The tower is empty save for a ceiling lurker on the top floor.

Ceiling Lurker: HD 10 (60 hp); AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 crush (3d6); Move 1 (Fly 7); Save 5; CL/XP 10/400; Special: Smother.

7534 Great Pyramid: The great pyramid of Ikhsos, second priest-king of Nabu, lies here, within sight of the river but buried in 30 feet of shifting sands. The entrance to the pyramid is located about 15 feet below the surface of the sand. From the entrance there is a long, wide passage containing a variety of simple traps (spring-loaded spears, rolling lead weights, spiked pits). Narrow passages that branch from this passage lead to a series of connected chambers containing lesser mummies, golem-like guards, minor treasures and goods intended for the next life.

At the end of the long passage there is an antechamber decorated to look like Nabu of many millenniums ago, with its lush savanna, gleaming geodesic domes and strange, flying chariots. This chamber contains terracotta jars filled with ancient spices and resins and bronze sculptures of primitive herd animals and ancient plants. A hidden trap-door in the middle of the chamber leads to a passage that descends two hundred feet into the ground to a chamber of a size similar to the first, but decorated very differently.

The lower chamber is clad entirely in obsidian blocks. Four hundred crystal studs are set into the walls and ceiling and resemble the starry sky of 5,000 years ago. When any source of light is brought into the room, beams of light erupt from the crystal studs, crisscrossing the room and acting as burning hands spells. In the middle of the room there is a black pool of still water. One can dive into the water and find themselves standing in a massive pyramid of crystal looking out at the Astral Plane.

The crystal pyramid is roughly 300 feet long and wide and 250 feet tall at its pinnacle. Four pools, like the one the adventurers stepped in to enter the place, are placed along each wall, while in the middle there is a platform ringed by magic circles and ever-burning braziers. The pools all lead to different places, specifically Luna, Saturnis and the Ethereal Plane. Atop the platform there is a sarcophagus cast in orichalcum and decorated with black opals and champagne pearls (4,000 gp). The sarcophagus holds the mummy of Ikhsos. The mummy wears an alabaster death mask that reveals a gaunt face, pointed chin and large eyes. Around his neck is a silver vial hanging from a silver chain. The vial contains a milky, white liquid with a spicy flavor that is a potion of diminution. The tomb proper is guarded by an army of 50 shadows, all former servants of the priest-king. Against the black floor and inky darkness of Astral space, the shadows are virtually invisible until they attack and even then enjoy a +4 bonus to Armor Class unless countered with a light spell.

Stepping upon the sarcophagus platform causes the platform to disappear, leaving a 30’ deep circular pit (6d6 falling damage) with black, glassy walls. The sarcophagus will continue to float above the pit. In the bottom of the pit, there is a serpentine shadow dragon (i.e. black dragon with the powers of a shadow) guarding a treasure horde.

The horde consists of 10,000 cp, 1,500 sp, 1,600 ep, 500 gp, 24 pp, 9 stones (mostly amber and pearls), 2 gems (topaz and carnelian), 1 sapphire, a vellum scroll containing the spell floating disc and a suit of +2 leather armor that looks like a blue, halfling-sized skinsuit.

Mummy: HD 6+4; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 fist (1d12); Move 6; Save 11; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Rot, hit only by magic weapons.

Shadow (50): HD 3+3 (20 hp); AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 touch (1d4 + 1 str); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Only hit by magic weapons.

Shadow Dragon: HD 8 (48 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4 + 1 str), bite (3d6); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Spit acid, only hit by magic weapons.

7615 Roc Remains: In a small crater there lies the skeleton of a roc. A carriage of sorts is strapped to the back of the great bird. The carriage is a flat wooden platform surrounded by a guide rail. It is apparent that six wooden stools surrounding the skeleton were once attached to the platform, which is held together by thick leather straps. The whole contraption is now warped beyond repair.

7630 Gazelle People: This portion of the riverbank is especially fecund, giving rise to a large grassland. The primary inhabitants of the grassland are a tribe of gazelle people. The gazelle people are quick and graceful, but easily fooled. They live by hunting the herds of basidirond that live in the spongy grasslands near the river. The primary hunting implements of the gazelle people are stone-tipped javelins thrown with an aklys. They also make use of blowguns with bone needles dipped in poisons harvested from the basidirond.

The gazelle people live in huts woven from grass. The tribe has two males, Gnoor and his young son Looor. The rest of the tribe consists of Gnuur’s harem of 18 females. The females share huts with their sisters. Looor lives with his mother and sister, while Gnuur moves from hut to hut. Gnuur owns an old-but-usable sickle-sword which he claims is magical. The primary danger to the gazelle people (aside from wandering adventurers) are the cat people who hunt them. The tribe’s entire treasure consists of 270 gp that Gnuur keeps in a leather sack.

Gazelle Man: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 gore (1d6) or 1 weapon (1d4); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: +1 initiative.

Looor, Fighting-Man Lvl 1: HP 5; AC 6 [13]; Save 16; Spear, javelins (3), +1 initiative.

7640 Marble Quarry: A wide, paved trail now overgrown with prickly weeds leads to an abandoned quarry of white marble. The quarry contains a very shallow pool of water govered by viscous brown slime (non-hazardous). The trail becomes a raised, paved highway through the desert. The highway is covered by dunes in some places, but can still be followed without too much difficulty. It leads to a sandstone tower inhabited by Rufus, a reclusive wizard and clockmaker. The tower rests on a small hill about 300 yards from the river and has its own quay (though no boat).

The wizard lives off fish and crayfish he captures with clever clockwork traps made of copper. The lands around his tower are patrolled by a troupe of six clockwork cavaliers called Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quatrus, Quintus and Sextus. Two of these clockworks are stationed by the entrance to the tower, while the others patrol the hex on living camels. Besides their scimitars, they carry muskets and 10 shots of ammunition and powder.

The ground floor of the tower has a diameter of 25 feet and a 20-foot high ceiling. Serving as Rufus’ laboratory, it is a tangle of wires, gears and scavenged pieces of armor. The middle of the laboratory is dominated by a giant robot in the midst of construction. The robot is surrounded by scaffolding. During the day, the laboratory is patrolled by three bronze cobras.

Rufus lives alone above the laboratory in a room crowded with books, scrolls and plans. He doesn’t sleep enough and he rarely bathes. One wall of his room has a mirror he uses to spy on his lady love, Petra , a beautiful sorceress married to his late rival Fodwic. Three iron chests with puzzling locks (-6 to open) and poisoned needles contain 43,900 sp.

Clockwork Cavalier (6): HD 5 (30 hp); AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 sword (1d8) or 1 musket (3d6); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Slows down, immune to sleep, charm, hold and non-magic piercing weapons, explodes if beheaded.

Rufus, Magic-User Lvl 10: HP 30; AC 7 [12]; Save 6; Special: Spells (5th); +1 dagger, repeating crossbow, potion of healing, spellbook.

7647 Tomb of Hashminep: Hashminep was a wizard of the Nabu empire who once governed over the savanna south of the River of Death . He once ruled a great fortress that was surrounded by a thriving river port called Yatum. During the cataclysm, the town was wiped from the face of Nod by a burning wind. Successive river floods then buried the remainder in silt, and soon the grasses and shrubs of the savanna completed the work of erasing the existence of Yatum from human memory. All that remains of the town is the 60’ tall limestone tower of Hashminep , girded with magical power. The tower is now Hashminep’s tomb, for though he had planned to become a lich, his rituals were interrupted. The tower’s battlements now rise about 10’ above the surface of the savanna and serve as the aerie of a giant owl and its young. A search of the tower’s top will reveal an ancient, rusted trap door.

Inside the tower one will find three floors, each separated by a circular stair that rises from a central pillar. The pillar is composed of smooth marble inlaid with electrum tracery that runs the length of the pillar and makes of the place impossible to enter or exit dimensionally without holding a sapphire scarab that serves as a magical key. This scarab lies at the bottom of the place in the grasp of Hashminep.

The highest level of the tower was Hashminep’s lab. It is a large, circular room 30’ in diameter. The floor is lined with glazed terracotta tiles, all a mute brownish-red. The molded remains of laboratory tables and shelves litter the room, along with dust that would have once represented a well-stocked library of scrolls. One might make out the tattered remains of wall hangings as well. Five tiles, completely unremarkable (consider them secret doors) hide coffers that contain the wizard’s treasure (see below). All of these coffers are traced with explosive runes and removal of the treasures from the tower invoke powerful curses. One corner of the room is blanketed in complete darkness, and herein dwells a type II grue.

Grue: HD 6 (40 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk Bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Immune to all but light/magic weapons and spells with light component/effect, extinguish lights within 100’, restores own HP with damage inflicted on enemies.

The wizard’s treasure is divided as follows:

Coffer #1 contains 10,000 cp, 5,000 sp, 2,600 ep, 45 gp, a tiara of silver and chalcedony (190 gp) and one ounce of myrrh (10 gp) in a sealed clay jar.

Coffer #2 contains 8,000 cp, 8,000 sp, 100 gp, 3 pp, 5 moss agates and a jargoon.

Coffer #3 contains 3,000 cp, 516 sp, 1,200 ep, a glass lense (100 gp) and a vase carved from olivine (140 gp).

Coffer #4 contains 6,000 cp, 1,000 sp, 1,000 ep, 15 gp and a masterwork light mace (+1 to hit, 100 gp) wrapped in an oilskin cloak and a ring of blinking (9,800 gp/1,960 XP).

Coffer #5 contains 4,000 cp, 550 sp, 650 ep, a rosewood yarting (40 gp), a fertility idol carved from sardonyx (170 gp), an ivory pendant bearing the royal seal of Nabu, a double-headed phoenix (70 gp), a vial of antitoxin (50 gp) and a royal outfit from the days of ancient Nabu (300 gp).

The second level of the tower was composed of dozens of small cells with barred doors. Here, the central stairs become very narrow, with the cells being built into the walls at varying levels. Some of the cages are no more than one or two cubic feet in size, while other are long and low and still others could uncomfortably hold a hunched human figure. It was here that Hashminep kept the subjects of his grisly examinations into mortality. The cages now hold nothing but dried bones, the tortured souls that once inhabited them now empowering a poltergeist. Bronze keys and iron pokers hang from the walls beside the barred doors and can be used by the poltergeist, along with the bones, to cause considerable damage.

Poltergeists (8): HD 1d4 (4 hp); AC 9 [10]; Atk None; Move 6; Save 18; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Fear, invisibility, incorporeal, only harmed by magic or silver weapons.

Passing through this gauntlet, one will find themselves in Hashminep’s reception room. Most of the room is filled with desert sand that was blown through the door and completely obscures a second set of stairs that led to the tower’s only entrance. Here, one may find Hashminep, charred and preserved by the burning sands resting on a divan. He wears a platinum signet ring (1,500 gp). Other furniture, similarly burned and broken, lie beneath the sand – small tables, a second divan, a chair. In one corner, again, beneath the sand, there are a half dozen canopic jars containing the organs of notables that the wizard planned to use in his bid for immortality. The tormented, disembodied spirit of Hashminep still lurks in this chamber, mad and murderous. It manifests as a 10 headed serpent, not unlike a hydra, composed of sand.

Hashminep: HD 10 (66 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 10 heads (1d8); Move 9 (Burrow 9); Save 5; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Half damage from blades, only harmed by magic or holy weapons, bite causes loss of 1 level (temporary, save to avoid).

7730 Necropolis: This hex holds the infamous ruin of Nabu, center of an empire that covered Map J11 and portions of Maps J12 and K11. The city-state was originally founded by a zetan called Nabu. Nabu organized the slaves of the debauched lizard kings that ruled the savanna into an army and vanquished them once and for all. He established his tower in a bend on the river along with a fortress. Over time, this settlement grew into a powerful city-state. After Nabu passed on, a succession of wizard-kings, all descending from Nabu and human women, ruled Nabu. Some brought it glory, others infamy. The last ruler of Nabu was a woman called Necotis. Necotis was a black magician and poisoner who eventually became a vampire. Under her rule, the empire became especially cruel and was eventually vanquished in what sages label the Cataclysm. Just what caused this destruction is unknown, but it turned the Nabu Savanna into a desert.

The city-state of Nabu proper is no more than dust. What survives of the city-state is its old necropolis located a few miles into the hills. The necropolis is a collection of cave tombs, monuments and fortress-tombs constructed in a canyon that once supported a tributary of the River of Death . Many of these tombs connect, whether by design or by excavation by ghouls and other subterranean monstrosities such as mummies, mummy golems, bats, cat-weres, vipers, spitting cobras, basilisks, ghouls and grimlocks. The subterranean pleasure palace of Queen Necotis is reputed to lie deep beneath the surface. The Queen is still said to rule here, attended by mechanical men, man-apes and fiendish leopards.

7802 Petrified Forest: You see a vast forest of petrified trees hemmed in by tall dunes. The petrified trees rise anywhere from 5 to 30 feet above the sand. The entire place has an eerie feeling to it; one often hears footfalls in the sand but finds nobody present to make them. The forest is haunted by a tree ghost. Her tree is the largest in the forest and one can make out vaguely humanoid shapes that it has absorbed. Should one care to dig in the sand around her tree, they may (1 in 6 each hour) find a scroll of remove fear (magic-user).

Tree Ghost: HD 3 (13 hp); AC 6 [13]; Atk Claws (1d3) or thorns (poison); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Charisma drain, insect plague, animate wood, immune to normal weapons, cold, electricity, acid and non-magical fire.

7807 Vipers: This entire hex is infested with crystal vipers. They become thicker as one heads toward the center of the hex. The Referee should make five encounter checks as adventurers move through the hex, with the chance to encounter 1d12 crystal vipers beginning at 2 in 6 and increasing to 4 in 6 as one moves through the hex. Buried twenty feet below the dunes, roughly in the center of the hex, is a crystalline orb approximately 5 feet in diameter. Touching the orb transports one to a dimension made entirely of crystal and gemstones and inhabited by an advanced civilization of crystalines.

Crystal Viper: HD 2; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15 (Burrow 12); Save 16; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Poison (1d6), natural invisibility.

7825 Skeleton: Half buried in the sand is a skeleton wrapped in the robes of a wizard and wearing an Egyptian-style headdress composed of gold and tattered, faded purple cloth (20 gp). His left hand clutches a large emerald that appears to have been chipped from a larger gem (400 gp). His right hand juts from the sand, pointing to the southeast. This is a clue to the whereabouts of the Emerald Tablet of Thoth. Those possessed of a sixth sense can use the chip of emerald to guide them vaguely toward the Tablet. Unfortunately, its emanations have a 1 in 20 chance each day of attracting 1d10 hostile hounds of chronos.

Hound of Chronos: HD 3; AC 7 [12]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d6); Move 18; Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Temporal jump, heal.

7828 Bandit Caravanseray: An old caravanseray in this hex has been turned into a small village by a band of bandits. The village is protected by earthworks (20’ tall) that are embedded with shards of yellow glass. The radioactivity of the glass interferes with magic-user spells, causing them to fail 1 out of 10 times. The village houses 80 people, most of them bandits, prostitutes and the children of same. The village is supported by a bowyer named Creop. The village is a democracy. The leader is a level 7 dwarf thief named Zmep. Upwards of 200 bandits will be camped around the caravanseray. Bandit leaders often stay in the structure, while their men camp outside.

7834 Poplar Grove: A grove of white poplars, with their characteristic greenish-white, diamond-checked trunks, grows along the river bend here. The trees reach about 50 feet in height. The trees are sacred to Harpocrates (Horus) and must not be violated. A copper idol of the deity, green in color, rests amidst the great trees.

7847 Korbin the Hunter: This hex contains the camp of Korbin, a hunter from Antigoon. Korbin has been coming back to this camp for years, and this season he has amassed a small fortune in rare pelts and animal goods.

The camp consists of three pavilions, all made of white canvas on iron poles. The largest pavilion belongs to Korbin, and includes a traveling chest (changes of clothes, a stash of ammunition, an extra dagger, 20 glass beads worth the equivalent of a gold piece with the more primitive humanoids and 100 gp), cot, desk and chair. The pelts (3,000 gp worth, including the neck scale of a bulette) and other goods he has taken are kept with Korbin and guarded by his war dog, Zash (12 hp).

One smaller pavilion serves as a barracks of sorts for Korbin’s eight bearers (0-level humans, 3 hp each) and his shieldmaiden, Swala. The other pavilion is used for storage of supplies (barrels of flour, wine, salted fish and meat).

Korbin doesn’t take too kindly to being surprised by strangers, but if approached cautiously he will prove to be friendly enough. He will expect to be paid for any kindness shown, and he is easily offended.

Swala, Fighting-Woman Lvl 2: HP 12; AC 7 [12]; Save 15; Spear, shield, dagger.

Korbin, Ranger Lvl 9: HP 61; AC 3 [16]; Save 7; Special: Favored enemy is the lion; Musket (treat as heavy crossbow), +1 short sword, dagger.

Zash, War Dog: HD 2 (12 hp); AC 7 [12]; Atk Bite (1d6); Move 14; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.


Photo is actress Theda Bara as Cleopatra


And so we leave Map J11 behind as we continue our tour of NODTM. I believe next we will go north to Venatia, a land of thick forests and several competing city-states, including Lyonesse, a city of knights and dames, Antigoon, trading capital of Mother Ocean and Blackpoort, city of smugglers and thieves. Venatia has a more Western European feel, so it should be a nice change from the Mediterranean/N. African vibe of the Wyvern Coast and Nabu.

Before I hit Venatia, though, I have a druid class and spell list to write ...

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