Thursday, April 30, 2015

Artifact April #30: The Comb of Youth and Vitality [systemless]

The Comb of Youth and Vitality is an ivory comb with an opal set in the handle.  It always feels unnaturally cold to the touch, and its presence sets one's teeth on edge, like drinking a cold drink with sensitive teeth.

The first person to use the Comb of Youth and Vitality removes one year of age for every brush stroke.  This person instantly feels themselves getting younger and more energetic, and so can usually determine what is happening and stop before, say, becoming a child.

You're going to want to write down how many years the first person removes, though.

All subsequent users of the comb age that many years for each brush stroke.  So, if the first person removed twenty years of age, all subsequent users become twenty years older for each brush stroke.  Brush your hair in four strokes, and you're now eighty years older (and likely dead, if you're a normal human).  If your players like to tinker, it's likely at least a couple of them will try the comb, hoping that the effect will somehow skip a person or whatever.

After the initial use, the enervation effect lasts for a number of years equal to the years of age stolen.  So, if you lost twenty years of age, all subsequent users will gain twenty years per stroke for the next twenty years.  Then the comb "resets" — probably after a group of concerned do-gooders locked it away somewhere and it has been forgotten.

Just in time for another to use the comb.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Artifact April #29: The Sammas [Dungeons & Dragons]

[Dungeons & Dragons]

(With all apologies to the Finns, as the Sammas is another name for the Sampo.)

According to the legends, the Sammas is a large, ornate, ivory drinking horn, carved with magical runes, which is always full of water.  The legends are exceedingly hazy on its pedigree, although must suggest it was made by an unnamed craftsman to purify the River of Tears, grown corrupted by the blood of dead primordials, or that it was made to provide enough water for the craftsman's village.  (A few legends claim the Sorrowfell Plains used to be desert, and the Sammas is the vessel that made them the verdant plains they are today.  These tales also tend to claim that the dead god Sorg made the vessel.)

The important, common element is that a craftsman needed a lot of pure water, and so made the artifact.

The Sammas is similar to a decanter of endless water, in that it produces limitless water.  However, there is no variance to the amount of water — if poured out, it always pours at a rate of one gallon every six to ten seconds or so.  (One gallon per round, like the "stream" setting of the decanter.)  Unlike a decanter, though, this water is pure (and should likely be treated as holy water).  So pure, in fact, that it purifies things it touches.  Water from the Sammas will decontaminate food, drink, people, and objects as per the spells purify food and drink, neutralize poison, or remove disease (or their local equivalent in whatever game system you happen to be running).  It will also purify areas and people of various types of corruption, and possibly even throw off haunting or possessing spirits.

The main problem with the Sammas is its location.  It has been lost for centuries, and no one has yet determined its location.  It is commonly thought the be hidden somewhere in the Hoarfrost Ridge, far to the north, but it could legitimately be anywhere.  (It is thought that some shrines advertise a connection to the Sammas either as an attraction to bring pilgrims or as a trap for the unwary.)

The last person to seek the Sammas was the fey noble, Lady Graunwen, who departed with a retinue of elves to seek the artifact in the autumn.  Since her final message last winter, two search parties have gone to find her.  Neither has returned.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Artifact April #28: The Excision Shears [systemless]

The Excision Shears look like a rusty old pair of scissors — big scissors, like your grandmother would use to cut fabric.  They cut things, as well they should.

The fact is, they cut things really well.

Anything that can reasonably fit between the blades will get cut.  If it's too big, you can't get enough leverage to get started, but anything smaller than that is fair game.  As a rule of thumb, if you have to open the blades more than 90°, you're not cutting it.  You could cut a high-tension wire, but you couldn't get enough leverage to cut a car in half.

The weird thing about the shears, though, is the fact that they cut things that aren't supposed to be cut.  Like emotions.  If you cut your hair with them, you'll always feel better about the new haircut, because you simply won't have an emotional connection to the old one anymore.  Cutting that high-tension wire will always feel cathartic, because it never should have been together in the first place.  The new state always seems more natural than the old one.

That's not the only thing, though.  If you cut up a book, the new book seems more pleasing than the old one.  Nobody knows how far this effect spreads, although if you decide to play William Burroughs and use the cut-up pieces to make a new work, it'll probably be well-received.  (Maybe it's possible to drive a popular book back into obscurity this way.  Or maybe only the person holding the scissors will think the new version is superior.  Or maybe only the author loses the emotional connection.  Who's to say?)

The most disturbing usage of the scissors, though, is with modern photographs.  Cut up a photograph the right way, and you can make someone uncomfortable in their own skin, because they no longer feel the same connection to how they look at they used to.  Or maybe they think one of their features is now extraneous.  Maybe you'll drive them to self-harm, because that part needs to leave.  Or maybe they just grow lethargic and apathetic about it, they just don't care.

And of course, if you cut between people in a photograph, they'll lose their emotional connection with each other.  Maybe someone will use this to make enemies not hate each other so much, but it's always more likely that some vindictive sort will make lovers drift apart.  It's never a sure thing, and some people can resist it, but it's still going to make for a rough time in your life when those whom you hold dearest now seem distant and alien.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Artifact April #27: The Conveyance Mirrors [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

(8-pt Artifact)

The Conveyance Mirrors are a set of objects created by Adeptus Astrum, the leader of a small, research-oriented cabal called "Gibil Esagil" in the town of Brady's Glade, NE.  (He hoped to use them to coordinate actions with another, larger cabal, although he was rebuffed.  It is, of course, entirely possible that he might try to contact another cabal to assist in Gibil Esagil's research.)  Consisting of two floor-length mirrors with Enochian glyphs carved around the frame, each mirror has a small panel on the right side of the frame, right about where a doorknob would go on a door.  This panel is marked with a crown, and if it is flipped open, causes the mirror to immediately transform to a portal connecting to the opposite mirror if and only if the other mirror's panel is also flipped open (this is a safety precaution to help prevent unauthorized travel).  Through this portal, one can travel across any distance to the opposite mirror.

(The mirrors are enchanted with a variation of the Correspondence 4 rote, Hermes Portal, although they are enchanted such that the rote is permanently in effect.  This is fairly vulgar, and so the mirrors should probably be stored in a sanctum, lest Disbelief and Paradox rear their ugly heads.)

If the panels are closed, the mirrors will not function.  If a mirror is placed facing a solid object, the object will block the portal, although a sufficiently strong character can certainly attempt to break the barrier to traverse the portal.

If a mirror is broken, both mirrors break and become inert, leaving behind eight pawns of Tass in the form of mirror shards.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Artifact April #26: The Lentic Helm of Lordship [Dungeons & Dragons]

[Dungeons & Dragons]

The Lentic Helm of Lordship is a strange and grotesque object.  Meant to be worn on the head, the Lentic Helm is a domed structure made of some manner of transparent gelatinous substance, rather like the flesh of a jellyfish, and held together by surface tension or some strange cohesion of molecules.  The back of the "helm," such as it is, bears several clear, writhing tendrils; these are purely decorative, but tend to unnerve viewers and wearers alike.

The Lentic Helm allows the wearer to issue short commands (maybe five words or so) that must be obeyed, rather like the suggestion spell.  Unlike suggestion, these commands can be harmful to the listener — "Strike yourself!" is just as acceptable as "Sleep!" or "Flee this place!"

Victims must make a saving throw vs. spells/magic/Will (with a +1 bonus for every victim beyond the first to be affected) or else carry out the instruction for one minute.

The origin of the Lentic Helm of Lordship is unknown, although Far Realm influence is suspected.  Some scholars even think that the Lentic Helm might be the work of the aboleths — as much a tool of control as a trap for the unwary who dare use it.  A few dark rumors even suggest that the thing is alive, and part of the aboleth lifecycle.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Artifact April #25: The Thief in the Night [new World of Darkness]

[new World of Darkness]

4-dot Relic

Durability 2, Size 0, Structure 2

Description: This small ring looks to be made of some dull, grey metal.  It is shaped like a crocodile looped over the finger, with the snout pointing outward slightly.  At the bottom of the ring are two seams, and it has a faint, powdery, green sheen to it.

Background: The Thief has changed hands many times over the centuries, but it is apparent that it is a copper ring shaped like a crocodile.  Some aspects of its design and history suggest that it may have come from Egypt, though it is just as likely that someone was trying to copy the design.

Some scholars suspect that the ring's history has something to do with the worship of Set, as it aids with travel, while others think it invokes Sobek to protect the wearer from watchful eyes.  Of course, it's just as possible that someone used the design because it looked pretty.  No one knows.

Effects

Forgettable (••••): The ring makes the user easily overlooked.  By twisting the ring once and rolling Wits + Stealth, the user becomes invisible — not to sight, but to the minds of others.  So long as the person does not draw attention to herself (by stealing objects larger than her Size or committing violence on others), then she continues to be invisible.  If she does draw attention, the invisibility ends.  Note that, unlike the typical power, she does not risk being forgotten or forgetting herself.

Unnatural Travel (••••): By using the ring's exposed edge to etch a mark into a substance, the user can make that mark into a portal.  The user can create two such marks and travel between them freely by spending 2 Willpower and rolling Wits + Manipulation.  On a success, she disappears from one location and reappears at another one minute later.  An exceptional success reduces this time to one turn; a dramatic failure causes the user to reappear at her point of origin one hour later covered in scratches and bruises (having taken four points of bashing damage).

(Curse) Derangement: The user finds it easier to avoid problems rather than facing them.  Using this ring, the user gains the Avoidance derangement until the next day or until she sleeps for eight hours, whichever comes first.

(Curse) Vulnerable: For four days after using the ring, the user is susceptible to magic.  Any supernatural powers used against her add +2 dice during this time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Artifact April #24: Reading Glasses [new World of Darkness]

[new World of Darkness]

2-dot Relic

Durability 3, Size 0, Structure 3

Description: This looks like a pair of antique reading glasses.  The frames are tarnished, but the spectacles are otherwise unremarkable.

Background: The origin of these glasses is not immediately apparent.  The age suggests sometime in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, although the manufacturer, if any, is not apparent.  They are probably worth a little on their own, and definitely worth more to the right buyer who understands their mystic properties.

Effects

Knowledge Seeker (•): By spending 1 Willpower point, the character's next Research extended action task will be reduced from 30 minutes per roll to 5 minutes per roll.  If the time interval is not 30 minutes, assume it is reduced a comparable amount (roughly by a sixth).

Potent Success, Attribute (•••): By spending 2 Willpower points, the character's Academics rolls all gain the 9-Again quality for the rest of the scene.  This power may only be used once per 24 hour period.

(Curse) Vulnerable: However, meddling with alien forces does have its dangers.  After using the Potent Success power (above), the character becomes vulnerable to supernatural or magical powers.  For the next three days, any creature using such an ability on the character gains +2 dice to its roll.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Artifact April #23: The ChAOS Bomb [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

(12-pt Invention)

The Chemical Acceleration, Orgone Separator Bomb, the masterwork of rogue Son of Ether Professor Vapor in tandem with fellow rogue Etherite Doctor Ferric, is a highly destructive superweapon.  The ChAOS Bomb is a stationary device which disrupts natural orgone flows through living organisms, reducing them to their base components.  The Bomb must be primed by charging the generator, which may be charged with a combination of mechanical, electrical, and bioetheric means.  In layman's terms, this device sends out a black wave of energy which disintegrates all living matter in its path.  This has the eerie effect of leaving behind small piles of dust surrounded by clothes and other personal effects of the deceased.  After unleashing its destructive wave, the Invention remains behind to be reused again and again (although it must be primed once again).

In game terms, the ChAOS Bomb uses Entropy 4, Forces 1, Prime 3, and Time 4 to produce its effect.  Entropy 4 and Prime 3 uses a variant of the Wither Life Effect to attack living organisms, dealing aggravated Pattern damage.  Time 4 allows the user to set a timer to delay the Effect; otherwise, she'll be caught in her own explosion!  Forces 1, if combined with Time 4, allows the user to set the device to blow if it receives a strong kinetic shock (such as being dropped from an airplane onto an unsuspecting city, let's say).  Use the damage and duration chart to determine damage as normal, spending extra successes for the area to be affected.  To completely vapourise a city the size of, let's say, New York City, the ChAOS Bomb would need to be primed with somewhere in the neighborhood of a whopping 35 successes at difficulty 9 on an Arete roll from the user, giving plenty of opportunity for enterprising do-gooders to intervene or for Paradox to engage in its natural state.  Paradox, in this instance, usually strikes as direct damage as the device malfunctions or explodes (or even if it detonates prematurely).  Unsurprisingly, the ChAOS Bomb is pretty vulgar, although it's just far enough within the realm of action movie science that a determined mage might be able to explain it away to a frightened populace and make it coincidental.  ("And just so you know I am serious, permit me a demonstration of the awesome destructive potential of the ChAOS Bomb!")

By the way, for those of you playing at home, in The Imperial City, the Order of Portoblax hoped to goad Doctor Ferric into using this weapon so that they could use the sacrifice of New York City to power their Portoblax summoning ritual from The Book of Summonings.  Fortunately, an alliance of Technocrats and Traditionalists stopped them from enacting that plan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Artifact April #22: "Vienna in Wintertime," 1909 [systemless]

This watercolor painting is 50 cm wide by 64 cm tall.  It is a relatively pleasing, albeit unremarkable, work in the impressionist style depicting a relatively empty city street in downtown Vienna, Austria.  The sky is grey and everything is covered in snow.  A mother and child may be seen on the street, hurriedly walking in an attempt to get out of the cold.

Two things make this painting interesting.

The first is the painter's signature.  Handwriting analysis confirms that it is not a forgery; it reads "Adolf Hitler."  No such painting is known to exist; indeed, the 1909 date coincides with the period in which Hitler had been rejected from art school and was nearly penniless on the streets of Vienna.  It is exceedingly doubtful he would have had the resources to afford a canvas and painting supplies.

The second notable characteristic is a small, metallic, blinking box on the back of the painting, attached to the backing board on the frame.  This box appears to project the electromagnetic field surrounding the painting, extending from the box in all directions to a radius of 40 cm.  This force field is incredibly sophisticated, and has yet to be disrupted by any known means.  Contacting the force field with bare flesh produces a numbing, tingling sensation that disappears as soon as contact is broken.  The painting levitates in the center of this force field, and anybody wishing to move it will probably find rolling it to be the best option.

It is likely for the best that the energy field around the painting cannot be disrupted, as it is the only thing separating our atmosphere from the antimatter air bubble and painting within.  Contact between the molecules of our universe and the antimatter molecules inside the energy field would prompt an immediate and violent reaction, probably somewhere on the magnitude of the 50-megaton Tsar Bomba detonation, if not more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Artifact April #21: SYNTHESYS.ARC [systemless]

The SYNTHESYS program is found on a series of twenty 5.25" double-density floppy disks with 360 KB storage capacity each.  Each one is marked with a piece of masking tape, and written in Sharpie, labeled "SYNTHESYS #" followed by a number between one and twenty.  None of the disks are missing.

Nobody has enough records to determine the origin of SYNTHESYS, but all evidence suggests that the program would have been created sometime in the mid-1980s, most likely as artificial intelligence experiments regarding expert systems.  The storage medium suggests an old IBM PC.  However, nobody has been able to determine a specific creator, whether that might be an academic institution, a company, or an individual.

When SYNTHESYS #1 is inserted into a floppy disk drive connected to a computer (a difficult proposition these days, although certainly not impossible), and if someone runs SYNTHESYS.ARC, the program will attempt to install on the computer's hard disk (or possibly the RAM if it's one of the older computers without internal storage).  It will prompt the operator to insert the disks in sequence, until all twenty have been installed.

Installing this program irretrievably crashes the hard disk; any time the computer attempts to boot, it will attempt to run SYNTHESYS and crash again.  (If the program is forced to install itself into RAM to execute, it will be deleted when the computer is shut down, just like anything else.)  Unfortunately, the data on the computer is now irretrievable: any attempt to connect the hard drive to another computer and read it will activate the SYNTHESYS program, which will install on the new system and crash it.

Strangely, attempts to load the pieces of SYNTHESYS without installing or inflating them seems to have the same effect — if all twenty SYNTHESYS.ARC files are found on the same system, the first somehow forces the computer to decompress them and crash in the process.

Programmers who have had the opportunity to look at pieces of the program, or have tried to run it in some sort of controlled, virtual environment, have noted that it appears to unpack an extremely sophisticated artificial intelligence program, which crashes any computer onto which it is installed because it is simply too big for the computer to handle.  Nobody knows how the program operates given a rough storage capacity of 7 MB — especially given that it appears to expand to fit the storage capacity of any computer onto which it is placed — but there it is.

SYNTHESYS typically also crashes computers too quickly to upload to any networks — the partitioning of network architecture is enough that the program crashes the first computer before spreading anywhere else.  (It's entirely possible that people have uploaded pieces of the program to their home systems or to cloud storage, but if the whole program ever exists on a single system somewhere, it runs and crashes that system.)

For now, it's just a curiosity, and an excellent sabotage tool if you can get into direct contact with the system you want to render unreadable.  (You'll also need to connect a 5.25" floppy drive to the system you want to sabotage, although that's doable.)  Of course, that's just because nobody has ever tried to load SYNTHESYS.ARC on any of the arrays with more than 1 PB of storage space — if somebody takes it over to one of the big data installations like Google or Facebook, or IBM Almaden's 120 PB storage array, or Cray's Blue Waters Supercomputer whenever that one's done, then the program will have enough space to finally run...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Artifact April #20: Shakespeare's The Tempest (rough draft) [Unknown Armies]

[Unknown Armies]

There was a buzz going around Europe's occult underground in the early- to mid-seventeenth century that somebody uncovered an early draft of Shakespeare's The Tempest before it was edited for publication.  (Although the references to it occur right around the time scholars think he wrote it, so it's entirely possible that the early draft started circulating in the occult underground before the play came out.  Then again, it's not like these things are exact.)

Dukes who claim this story is true claim that the original play was less an allegory and more an occult history — the original Duke Prospero was a thinly-veiled Lodovico Lazzarelli, who instead of dying in 1500, retired to some weird island Otherspace that was supposed to be Avalon.  (In this scheme, Sycorax was an immortal Morgan le Fay, served by a legion of Gypsy hardcases.)

Nobody knows what became of Lazzarelli or Morgan or anybody else — although some of the stories in Europe at that time suspect the House of Renunciation got to them first — but the crux of The Tempest is that Lazzarelli renounced magick and then left the island, leaving his library and artifacts (and Ariel, for that matter) behind.

Now I'll admit this whole thing sounds pretty sketchy, and maybe it's even a more recent hoax, but there's a little corroborating evidence — apparently somebody found some old plans written by Fausto Veranzio and commissioned by Louis XIII for a clockworker device to find the island.  (Apparently, one of the plans was to incorporate Durandal in the design, operating on the belief that it's Excalibur and would sympathetically point to the place where it was forged.)

If we can find those plans, I bet we could hire Knezevic to build 'em.  What do you think the odds are that the island is still there?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Artifact April #19: Durandal [Unknown Armies]

[Unknown Armies]

Power: Significant
Effect: The sword is one-handed, but deals +9 damage.  Furthermore, it deals firearms-style damage (the number on the dice, not the sum) to anybody who is a foe of the Catholic Church.  (Or at least, it did back in the 17th century.  Who knows what would count as a foe of the Church these days?)
Description: The sword is a rusty old Frankish-style one-handed sword that looks like its been knocking around Europe for the better part of a millennium.  (It has.)  A gold inlay in the hilt supposedly contains saints' relics, although it's apparent that nobody has ever had the guts to check.  (Either you risk the wrath of God or you risk ruining the artifact, neither of which sounds like a good idea.)
What you hear: Old rumor suggests that this is the no-shit Durandal, sword of Roland.  (Dukes in the modern occult underground think that's probably a load of horseshit, but who knows?)  Rumor has it that the sword belonged to some long-dead cabal called "The Footmen" back in the 17th century — specifically to their mystical leader called "the Last King."  Of course, all references to the The Footmen disappear before the Thirty Years' War, and nobody knows what they were trying to do.  Occasionally, Durandal shows up in a private collection or at the Swap Meet, but nobody pays a lot of attention to it because how do you authenticate something like that, anyway?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Artifact April #18: The Crux of Eternity [Dungeons & Dragons]

[Dungeons & Dragons]

The Crux of Eternity appears as a crystal cross large enough to be held in one hand.  Manufactured by the now-dead god Sorg during the Dawn War, the Crux of Eternity — also known as Ydinikuisuuden — was a masterweapon designed to channel the power of the gods.  (Interested parties may wish to read about the creation of Ydinikuisuuden.)  It was so feared that the primordials forged the Doom of Divinity, Godenschemering, in retaliation, although it was too late; the gods managed to defeat, exile, or imprison the primordials, forming Creation as we know it today.

As the Crux is so potent, it was hidden away somewhere where mortals and primordials could not find it.  (Its resting place is unknown, although most people suspect it resides in Sorg's tomb, wherever that may be.)

The Crux's powers are unknown — no one in living memory has even seen it, much less used it — although there is some speculation as to what it might be able to do:

  • It acts as an implement for channeling holy power.  In D&D 4e, it's almost assuredly a +6 holy implement, usable with Divine powers; it's possible it can be used as an implement for other power sources, as well.  In other editions, it might maximize spells, or make saving throws against spells cast with it more difficult, or possibly even grant additional spell slots or spell uses.  (It doesn't seem out of the question that the Crux might allow its user access to any available spell, for example.)  Whatever it does, it makes spells — particularly divine spells — more efficient.  It probably also acts as a spell catalyst, meaning that spells don't require material components to cast as long as the Crux is involved.
  • Likewise in D&D 4e, it is thought to maximize rituals, amplifying their effects and possibly obviating the material component costs of rituals.  This is related to its "maximizing spell function," above.
  • It seems logical that any attacks channeled through the Crux would deal extra damage to elemental beings, given its pedigree as an artifact designed to slay primordials.
  • Some theorists who think it maximizes magic suspect it doesn't actually affect spell-casting, instead granting wishes, a potent magic long-thought absent from magic items on Khaldun.  (There's a long-standing rumor that a ring of three wishes was buried in the Tomb of Theronna Onyxarm, although no one knows if that's true or not.  For that matter, scholars aren't even entirely certain where her tomb might be.)  If this is true, then the Crux of Eternity's legendary reputation is well-deserved.
Of course, if the Crux were found, it would likely require lifetimes of study to successfully use, as its activation methods are probably just as well-hidden as the Ydinikuisuuden itself.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Artifact April #17: The Book of Summonings [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

The Book of Summonings is a treatise on Qlippothic magic detailing the summoning rituals required to summon Portoblax and Its various spirit servitors.  It appears as a leather-bound volume entitled in Arabic.  The pages are hand-written, with several diagrams and pictures to aid comprehension to the admittedly obtuse rambling grimoire.  The first portion of the book is more archaic than the second, detailing how to summon the demonic lord Portoblax.  This portion of the book acts as a tome which teaches the reader how to summon (though not bind or dismiss) Portoblax.  The second portion is more recent, written by Fadi ibn Hept-seshet ibn Set-ab al-Naar, and detailing how to summon, bind, and dismiss various spirit servitors of Portoblax.

The Book of Summonings also acts as a great reference material, allowing those who reference it a +1 Occult (specialty: infernalism) bonus.  Furthermore, those who spend the proper experience points may learn Nephandi Lore 2, Portoblax Lore 3, Spirit Names +1 (specialty: demons).

Part One

This portion of The Book of Summonings is a tome which details the most dreaded of all the Order of Portoblax's rituals, which is the summoning of Portoblax.  Those with the proper knowledge may learn to breach the gap between dimensions and bring this particular Dark Lord to our space-time (the fact that the rift opened will bring the other Dark Lords through is, of course, a mild oversight).

Minimum Arete: 3
Minimum Spheres: Learning the ritual in this book requires Life 4, Prime 4, Spirit 4.
Actual Spheres: Life 5, Prime 5, Spirit 5, optional Time 4.  If the creation of the Wonder is performed communally, it is possible for four different mages to contribute one of these Spheres to the ceremony.

The tome appears as the first half of a leather-bound volume written in Arabic.  This first section appears to be the older of the two sections, and predates the current binding by some time (proper analysis indicates that the book was bound within the past few months; this first portion was written sometime during the Renaissance, and only recently bound into this volume).  The tome details a long and involved process which will open the Gate to Portoblax's domain and bring It to our world.

Included within the text is a calendar, of sorts, detailing times of astrological significance to the Order of Portoblax (such as when summonings may occur).  Dates of note include both solstices, Halloween, and various days when planetary and solar alignments converge.  Also included within the text are images, diagrams, and suchlike to aid reader comprehension and to fully convey that which is necessary for this ritual.  A full list of components required also helps, including legions of sacrifices and similar rites; the centerpiece includes the sacrifices of those innocent lambs who truly believe in the Order of Portoblax (to use for the Prime 3 rote Lambs to the Slaughter).  However, the list of sacrifices tallies to somewhere around the level of an entire city, and requires orgies, desecration of holy items, and suchlike to permit Portoblax's essence to enter this plane.

If these things are all completed, however, according to the proper rites, the Gates to the Realm shall open and Portoblax's rightful place shall be reclaimed.  Bwa, ha, ha, ha.

Quaintly enough, knowledge of summoning Portoblax might also aid someone seeking to dismiss Portoblax, though this is a tricky proposition (if It comes to our dimension, it is probably already too late).

Skimming the book takes two hours; reading the book takes between two and 20 weeks.

The Ritual: This tome teaches the user how to summon Portoblax to our world whereupon It may reside at will.  This ritual is a massive undertaking, and should have plenty of time in which to work.  Spirit rips apart spiritual barriers while Life and Prime provide infusions of Quintessence and help build a body.  The ritemaster needs to roll Arete, difficulty 10, and needs to garner at least 30 successes.  Each roll represents an hour of chants and orgiastic rites.  "Innocent lambs," or children raised in the Nephandic paradigm as sacrifices, must be sacrificed and their Quintessence offered as a gift to Portoblax.  An entire city's worth of sacrifices must be made.  This should be performed in a prepared location with the proper Resonance (that is, the major Node in the throne room of the Cor Obscuritatis Labyrinth itself).  If successful, a vacuum will allow Portoblax to appear on this plane, thusly ushering in the Nephandic Dark Lords.  Paradox backlashes, on the other hand, will incur the full wrath of reality and the Dark Lords, as spiritual surges destroy the proceedings, likely killing those involved or shunting them into Hells and Paradox Realms.  Failing this spell will probably kill and Gilgul the ritemaster.

Part Two

This portion of The Book of Summonings acts as an Artifact which allows the user to summon many spirit servitors of Portoblax including Enforcers of the Pit, Eudociae, and Servitor Imps.  Furthermore, the second section also has magics for rituals to create Shamblers and Unem-ab.

This part of the book appears much more recent than the first portion; the first part was created in the Renaissance, while the binding and second part were created within the past few months.  Like the first portion, the second portion contains detailed instructions, complete with notes and diagrams, on how to summon many servitors of Portoblax.  Unlike the first section, however, the instructions are written in such a way that anyone with the proper knowledge (read: an Arete rating) can follow the instructions in the book to summon these things.

[This book is simple; the prime component is Spirit 4 to allow for summoning and binding.  All these rituals are cast at difficulty 7 if in an area where they may be concidered coincidental, difficulty 8 if not, and difficulty 9 if performed where unbelieving Sleepers may witness.  Frequently, this is vulgar without witnesses, making the difficulty 8.  A successful roll of the caster's Arete, usually requiring about five to ten successes, depending upon the creature, allows the caster to summon Enforcers of the Pit, Eudociae, and Servitor Imps.  If the person also has available corpses with which to house the proper spirits, they may create shamblers (zombies) and Unem-ab.]

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Artifact April #16: Iron Phylactory [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

4-pt Talisman — Background Cost 17

Arete 4, Quintessence 20

The Iron Phylactory is a metallic suit of armour created by Kabbalic magics, allowing a spirit to possess it and use it as a body.  The Iron Phylactory activates with the expenditure of a point of Quintessence (though, due to Effects on the suit, petitioning spirits may spend Essence or Pathos, as appropriate) and a roll of the suit's Arete, difficulty 7.  Three successes are required.  Once activated, the suit becomes an extension of the wearer's body, thereby allowing the wearer to manifest physically without the need for the Materialize Charm or Embody Arcanos (or the Shroud-Rending Arcanos, for spectres attempting to perceive past the Shroud).  The suit has eight health levels and does not take wound penalties.  Furthermore, a character in the suit has Strength 5, Dexterity 3, Stamina 5 as well as three extra soak dice, claws dealing Strength +1 lethal damage, and the ability to soak bashing and lethal damage with equal facility (they may soak aggravated damage with their three dice of armour, as per usual).  While in the suit, characters take half bashing damage after soak, and also take bashing damage from firearms (just as undead do).  Characters in the suit are also highly resistant to temperature extremes (particularly cold) and immune to poison, disease, and similar maladies that would not affect an object.  If the suit is destroyed while a spirit is inside, the spirit is dispelled, but otherwise takes no other damage.

The suit appears as a rather imposing suit of armour with talons tipping the fingers and toes.  The face is comprised mostly of two wickedly curved eye holes.  When the suit is invested with a spirit, the eye holes glow red.  The Hebrew word for "Truth" is covertly inscribed inside the helmet of the suit; if the writing is altered, it is possible to destroy the suit without overt attacks.  The suit is also cloaked in black fabric, making it occasionally difficult to tell that the person is only a metallic suit (and not, say, someone wearing a strange suit of armour).  Wearers invested in the suit have an effective Appearance 1.

The suit also has a version of the Seven-League Stride rote called the Kefitzat ha-Derekh; this allows the character to teleport through the use of Correspondence 3.  Roll the suit's Arete to initiate the Effect.

While invested in the suit, the wearer may use the suit's Quintessence as an Essence/Pathos supply, as necessary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Artifact April #15: Pendant of the Maelstrom [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

5-pt Talisman — Background Cost 20

Arete 5, Quintessence 25

This appears as a piece of amber held about the neck by a silver chain.  Upon closer inspection, one may find the piece of amber to contain a black stone that looks suspiciously like the bone in one's fingertip.  In truth, this is a piece of spectral plasm which allows the wearer to command corpses to rise.  When one yells at the corpse, a face rises from the amber and shouts the same commands at the shambling cadavers.  Its voice is a low whisper that can be heard above the loudest din.

[This pendant uses a Life 4/Matter 3/Prime 3 Effect to raise corpses and a Mind Effect to control them.  Roll the pendant's Arete, difficulty 8, to raise a corpse.  Seven successes are required (+1 for every corpse beyond the first to be raised).  Corpses thusly raised are under the command of the pendant's wearer.  This is usually highly Paradoxical, save in places where the Nephandic paradigm reigns supreme.

[Corpses animated by the Pendant have Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 4, Brawl 2, and always act last in a turn (unless there are mitigating circumstances).  They have zero Willpower points to spend, but resist mental attacks as if they have Willpower ratings of 10.  All Mental and Social ratings are zero for a reanimated corpse, and zombies never attempt to dodge.  Zombies' dice pools are not affected by damage, except that caused by fire or the claws and teeth of supernatural creatures.  Most zombies have 10 health levels, but they are incapable of healing any damage they suffer.]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Artifact April #14: The Herald of the Night of Burning Stars [D&D/Carcosa]

[Dungeons & Dragons]

The Herald of the Night of Burning Stars appears to be an astrolabe composed entirely of mummified animal parts — paws, legs, digits, and the like.  It is considered sacred to the mummies of the Radioactive Desert, as well as any who worship Nyarlathotep, as it is believed to be an artifact of the eventual ascendance of the Crawling Chaos.

The Herald requires a short invocation chant to activate (although some claim it can also be activated by destroying it, as well).  When activated, the user can summon a meteor swarm, as per the spell.  The Herald of the Night of Burning Stars only works once, becoming inert thereafter.

(For anybody wanting D&D 4e rules, activating the Herald allows the user to make an area burst within 20 attack at +18 vs. Reflex.  The Herald causes 5d6 fire damage (half on a miss).  This is a consumable object, and only works once.)

Persistent rumor places the Herald of the Night of Burning Stars within the armory of a crashed Space Alien vessel somewhere in hex 1804 on the Carcosa map.  There is another rumor that a party of adventurers from Sigil accidentally activated and destroyed the device, but who knows if either of those rumors are true?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Artifact April #13: The Sickening Blade [Dungeon World]

[Dungeon World]

Close, Reach, Ignores armor, +1 damage, 2 weight

The Sickening Blade appears to be a long sword made of some pale material roughly the consistency of metal but warm to the touch.  (Proper analysis would reveal it is some manner of strange bone melded with starmetal.)  In truth, the Sickening Blade is actually some extraplanar protuberance of some Far Realm creature.  At will, the blade can elongate into an ivory tentacle, striking foes up to ten feet away.  Wounds inflicted by the Sickening Blade tend to abscess, requiring healing or surgery lest the victim gain debilities before dying horribly.

It is believed that the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks holds the Sickening Blade in their gladiator barracks for special bouts against creatures immune to normal weapons.  How they obtained the blasphemous blade is unknown.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Artifact April #12: Grimoire of the Deathless Servant [new World of Darkness]

[new World of Darkness]

This book contains a ritual allowing the caster to animate a zombie, which remains active for a scene.  If the caster gains successes over 16, she can spend them on a one-for-one basis to increase the zombie's Attributes, Speed, Initiative, or Defense.  Zombies have the following statistics:

Attributes: Power 1, Finesse 1, Resistance 2
Size: 5
Speed: 1
Initiative: 1
Defense: 1

Zombies do not suffer wound penalties and do not heal.  They take damage normally, but do not bleed to death or become incapacitated; they simply roll over damage taken.  Zombies only die when the health track is filled with aggravated damage.  Zombies also take 1 lethal health level after a number of days pass equal to their Resistance, representing decay.

Dice Pool: Wits + Occult
Ritual Length: 10 minutes
Minimum Successes Required: 16
Duration: One scene
Cost: 1 Willpower

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Artifact April #11: The Chronicle of Vun the Damnéd [Dungeon World]

[Dungeon World]

0 weight

The Chronicle of Vun the Damnéd is a leather-bound journal detailing the adventures and researches of the apostate magus, Vun the Damnéd.  Vun the Damnéd was a wizard who pacted with foul things and took up the path of the warlock after a chance meeting with the infamous Gingor the Seeker.  He merrily pacted with multiple entities across the planes, dabbling in demonology, infernalism, necromancy, and the foul lore of the Far Realm.  (Although not mentioned in the book, this activity likely has something to do with his mysterious disappearance.)  When you consult the Chronicle on forbidden arcana, take +1 forward to your next spout lore check on an appropriate subject.

In addition, the book also contains the complete litany necessary to enact the Liquescent Aspect of the Weird God, as well as the location of the Weird God’s secret fane on Khaldun.

(Parties interested in further information on the Weird God are directed to pages 59 and 109 of Carcosa by Geoffrey McKinney.  Naturally, if you wish to include the Weird God in your own campaign setting, this book will tell you where his secret fane is located.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Artifact April #10: Grigory Novykh's Rosary [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

4-pt Artifact

A rosary allegedly worn by the mad monk himself, Grigory Novykh's confers a few benefits upon wearers.  First, the item has the True Faith Merit, granting the wearer True Faith 1.  Second, the item has the Legendary Attribute Merit, granting the wearer a potential Stamina of 6.  However, this rosary only works for members of Novykh's bloodline.

Two such members of the Novykh bloodline are known to have been active in New York City between 2001-2002; one was an FBI agent killed by former Pentex executive Alexei Dionice, who made the FBI's Most Wanted List before dying under mysterious circumstances in North Africa.  The other is missing and presumed dead after investigating New York City's occult underground.

No doubt other offspring of the black monk survive in the present age.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Artifact April #9: The Key of Perception [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

10-pt Artifact

This Artifact pipe was created by the Dreamspeaker Master from Louisiana, Mama Simone St. Jude — notable as one of the few surviving Masters on Earth — as a gift to the members of the famous Sons of Ether cabal, the Prime Contraption.  (It still resides in the Chantry house of their inheritors, the legendary Invictus.  As the cabal that essentially broke the back of the Ascension War in New York City, they're well known in tales among American magi.)  It allows the user who undergoes the proper rites and smokes the proper plants to detach her mind from her body and travel to higher realms of consciousness.  In other words, this sends the user to the Umbra in an astral body, thusly bypassing the Avatar Storm and allowing the user to enter the Umbra nonetheless.

In game terms, this Artifact uses Mind 5, Prime 2, Spirit 3 to allow the user to use the Astral Sojourn rote and travel to the Umbra.  The user can remain detached as long as she would like, though she may wish to take other precautions not to dehydrate, atrophy, or starve if she will be taking a prolonged journey into Astral Space.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Artifact April #8: Caledfwlch [Call of Cthulhu]

[Call of Cthulhu]

(Yeah, so you've gotten two versions of Excalibur.  One hates you and the other was made by the deep ones.  Deal with it.)

The legendary sword of King Arthur, also known as Caladbolg, Calesvol, Caliburn, and Excalibur.  Somewhat exaggerated, the blade known as Caledfwlch is actually a hand-hammered dagger.  Despite its rough-hewn quality, it is sharper than most blades known, having been made with a combination of standard crafting techniques and Mythos magic.  Crafted by deep ones for some unknown purpose, this dagger has strange pictographs carved on both sides of the blade (it reads "Born from the sea" on one side and "Return to the sea" on the other in R'lyeh glyphs).  The coral hilt and crossguard bear various pictographs featuring a fish motif; a successful Cthulhu Mythos roll recognizes the hallmark of the deep ones.

Despite its small size, Caledfwlch has several qualities of a larger sword (perhaps owing to its usual depiction as a sword).  Like a sword, it can Parry and Knockout.  It is otherwise treated as a Large Knife, and its base chance increases with Large Knife.

Most importantly, the dagger is enchanted.  It can damage Mythos beings as if the subject of a Bless Blade spell.  It also ignores all armor, and has a fearsome base damage.

Relevant statistics are listed below:
base chance — 15%
damage — 1D8+2+db
hands — 1H
attacks — 2
HP — 25

Caledfwlch's Scabbard
The dagger even has a magic scabbard that helps reduce wounds.  As long as the character has the scabbard on his person, all wounds deal the minimum possible damage, and the character cannot be knocked unconscious from shock or loss of hit points.  The character falls unconscious and dies normally from being reduced to two or fewer hit points, and enchanted weapons deal their normal damage.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Artifact April #7: Bran's Cauldron [Call of Cthulhu]

[Call of Cthulhu]

This cauldron, recounted in legends as the cauldron of King Bran and later identified with the Holy Grail, is a magical artifact from ancient days.  It is also known as the Cup of Jamshid in Persia and may have been used by Nephren-Ka and his ilk in resurrection rituals.

Carved around its rim is a single sentence, repeated twice, and rendered in various languages; from the top of the rim down, these are Serpent Tongue, Aklo, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Aramaic, Old Persian, Brythonic, and Old Welsh.  In all languages, it reads, "As the Old Ones are bound in deathless sleep, so shall all men conquer death;" a Cthulhu Mythos roll may recognize the Arab's famous couplet, albeit in slightly different form.

This relic appears to be a cooking pot large enough to accomodate a man.  Made of a dull, green metal (a smith will likely assume the metal to be copper, even though the color is off; in truth, the metal is not of this earth, having fallen from the sky in antiquity), the cauldron can bring the dead back to full life and can extend the lives of those who use the pot.  Anyone eating or drinking from the pot will be healed of their wounds; if this is impossible, it will at least stabilize their wounds for a full day.  In any event, the character does not age for a day after consuming food or drink from the pot.  Much like the Food of Life spell, cooking human meat in the pot is much more efficient, preventing aging for 1 month for every SIZ of human meat cooked and consumed.

Likewise, if a corpse is placed in the pot with water and the words around the rim are spoken (in any language; the intent is more important than the actual content), the water will spontaneously boil and the person will return to life as if treated with the Resurrection spell; conversely, doing this while a live person is in the pot will cause the water to boil and kill that person, horribly.  As with the Resurrection spell, being resurrected by the pot costs 1D20 Sanity points.  Likewise, those resurrected by the pot can be destroyed with the Nyhargo Dirge (though their dust can be gathered and boiled back to life or resurrected, as usual).

It is not known whether the cauldron would work on entities other than humans; most likely, it would work only on terrene entities (such as deep ones, serpent people, and sand dwellers), although the reality of this claim is up to the Keeper.  It may only work on humans, or it may work on any species so long as the words are spoken.

Any character going insane from being restored to life almost uniformly gains aphasia as their mental illness, being rendered unable to speak.  Such a character can still understand and write in any language he or she knows.

Boiling a human corpse in the pot to eat is a 1/1D6 Sanity loss; boiling a corpse for resurrection is a 1/1D10 Sanity loss.  It costs no Sanity points to use the cooking pot as a normal cooking pot.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Artifact April #6: The Automaton Gear [new World of Darkness]

[new World of Darkness]

2-dot Relic

Durability 3, Size 0, Structure 3

Description: This small, metal gear looks like a watch gear, only chunkier.  One of the gear teeth is chipped.  It looks to be made of iron or steel, but its actual composition cannot be determined.

It is cool, like metal, though not abnormally so.  However, at odd intervals, it may become noticeably cold to the touch.

Background: Given to Rhys Nolan, noted hunter of what he termed Automata, this object supposedly allowed him to identify the things.  It was given to him by the Oracle of Rust, an old witch living in central Gary.  She taught him all the magics he knew, as well as his smattering of occult knowledge, and she also gave him this mysterious object.  She never told him where she got it, though she implied that it was taken from one of the creatures he sought.  Of course, she suggested a lot of things, and may have just been crazy.

The Gear only really does one thing, but it does that thing without fail.  It turns cold whenever an "Automaton" comes near, within 100 feet or so.

Effects

Sense Creature (••): If an Automaton (Nolan's name for a Fetch, the fae-created counterpart to every Changeling) passes within 100 feet of the Automaton Gear, the gear grows ice-cold to the touch.  It does not indicate direction or point out an individual if the Fetch is in a crowd.  No roll or expenditure is required to activate this power.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Artifact April #5: The Daedalan Crucible [systemless]

Many tales surround the legendary craftsman Daedalus; among them is the tale of Pasiphaë.  Because King Minos was a proud man, when Poseidon gave him a white bull to sacrifice, King Minos thought it would make a nice present to himself instead.  In return, Poseidon cursed his wife — Pasiphaë — to fall in love with the bull.  She asked Daedalus to make her a cow-suit so that she could mate with this beautiful creature.  Their union produced the Minotaur, and Daedalus built the Labyrinth to contain it.

Astute observers will note that a wooden scaffold shaped like a cow typically does not allow one to mate with Bovinae.  Clearly, something else — the will of the gods, maybe — was involved.  Or maybe Daedalus was just that skilled.

However, some scholars think that Daedalus was not so skilled as to allow life where none should exist; he instead found the artifact known as the Daedalan Crucible and incorporated it into his design.  (Some scholars further rant that the Daedalan Crucible has certain similarities with the crystal computer of the doom cave of Wiki Dot Pod.  But who believes the sorts of sages to travel with wandering murderhobos, anyway?)

The Daedalan Crucible is a small object, roughly the same size and shape as a modern contraceptive diaphragm,  It is shiny, flexible, and lightweight.  Although it is too fine to be seen with the naked eye, the Daedalan Crucible is composed of a mesh, a crystal and metal latticework of unknown provenance and design.  It operates best inserted into the reproductive organs of humanoid females, but intelligent preparation can allow it to work with any sufficiently large organism.  (It probably only works with vertebrates, and two organisms of vastly different sizes are going to have trouble making this work, although if you're crazy enough to use the Crucible with them, you're probably crazy enough to develop an appropriately engineered funnel-and-harness apparatus.)

The Daedalan Crucible samples the genetic material of anything in more-or-less direct contact, converting male sperm into a form more readily usable by a female organism.  This allows impregnation by any creature remotely genetically compatible with the female, and tends to create weird hybrids of both organisms.  Such creatures are, for all intents and purposes, unique as future cross-breeding might produce different results.  If King Minos let Pasiphaë continue to mate with that bull, the first offspring might have been the Minotaur — a humanoid bull — whereas future hybrids may have formed centaur-like creatures, or bull-like creatures covered in human skin, or a man that runs on all fours with horn-like protuberances.  The science behind the Crucible is poorly-understood, and so if combinations are predictable, nobody has yet figured out how.

In Game Terms: You've got to cross several hurdles to make it happen — like getting two creatures in the same room and mating, although some variation of artificial insemination is probably more likely — but this allows for the creation of weird animal hybrids.  A woman and a bull, a pig and an elephant, an owl and a bear.  The magic of the Crucible means that the birth will be easier, and the female is more likely to get pregnant (if you use a system like Pendragon that tracks pregnancy rates, she should be at least twice as fertile as normal, although feel free to increase the rate even higher; if you're more narrative, then probably assume pregnancy occurs).  Such organisms are probably sterile, although some mad wizard could no doubt use the Daedalan Crucible again to create increasingly weird hybrids.

Hybrids should probably be made whole cloth by the Game Master, although if you have a method of random generation — like The Random Esoteric Creature Generator — that might be a nice touch.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Artifact April #4: Cheep Sunglasses [Mage: the Ascension]

[Mage: the Ascension]

3-pt Artifact

Now go out and get yourself some thick, black frames
With the glass so dark they don't even know your name

Since you're probably hung over, today's artifact will be short and sweet.  Cheep Sunglasses are an item crafted to make the wearer indistinct and unnoticed.  In game terms, Cheep Sunglasses grant the wearer an effective Arcane 5 when worn.

Let's jam:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Artifact April #3: Liber Gnaritatis Veneficae [Deadlands]

[Deadlands]

The Liber Gnaritatis Veneficae is an archaic grimoire written in medieval Latin (and not even particularly good Latin, at that).  The pages are yellowed and tattered — frequently stained by ink, wax, blood, and even more nefarious substances — and the cover is leather bound.  A Hard (9) trade: leatherworking or science: biology roll can reveal this leather to be human flesh, possibly tanned by the blood and brain of whatever unfortunate provided the cover.  The book is handwritten, and the somewhat meandering scrawl requires an Onerous (7) language: Latin and a subsequent Hard (9) academia: occult roll to decipher.  Characters can attempt to roll once per week.

The book contains arcane secrets of magic man was not meant to know, as well as information on the summoning and binding of lesser imps and demons.  Practicioners of Hoyle's art will recognise the latter as hexslingin'.

Power: The book allows the reader to use black magic spells and also provides a means for students of the occult to learn black magic and various hexes.  Students of black magic can use (and learn) bolts o' doom 3, cloak o' evil 4, contagion 4, curse 5, dark protection 4, forewarnin' 4, ghostly servant 3, illusion 3, pact 3, puppet 4, scrye 4, sendin' 4, stormcall 2, stun 3, transformation 4 (raven), and zombie 4.  These spells are cast with an effective faith: black magic 6d12.

Furthermore, students of Hoyle can learn some hexes within the sigils and patterns in the pages.  The book can teach the following hexes: bash, black lightnin', bodyguard, brimstone, clear out!, corporeal twist, deadly creepers, deuces wild!, disrupt, diversion, earthwrack, eye spy, flypaper fingers, foil, fortune teller, gateway, graveyard mists, hunch, hunger pangs, impostor, incognito, lethargy, looking glass, mind twist, mirage, missed me!, necromancer, nightmare realm, old timer, parch, penetratin' gaze, phantasm, phantom fingers, playin' possum, poltergeist, rainmaker, reanimate, rust, sandstorm, sandman, shadow man, shadow walk, skinchange: raven, soul blast, soul burst, spirit coils, talisman, texas twister, thunderclap!, timeslip, touch o' death, and whirlpool.  Having deciphered the book, a huckster may learn one of these hexes by making a Fair (5) academia: occult check to decipher the strange sigils and drawings in the grimoire and spending 5 Bounty Points.

Finally, the book has an effective academia: occult 3 for the purpose of finding information.

Taint: The man who penned the book also gave his life to make it (the publisher used the author to make the book's cover).  Through arcane rituals, the author still lives in his book and attempts to control anyone who would use it.  Every time a reader reads the book, or even skims it, he must check for Dominion against the author.  He must also check whenever he uses the black magic spells in the book.  The reader starts with total Dominion.  The author trapped in the book has Spirit 5d12.  If the author gains Dominion, the character uses the author's Spirit 5d12 and faith 6d12 for the appropriate checks.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Artifact April #2: Samuel's Eye [Unknown Armies]

[Unknown Armies]

Power: Significant
Effect: Someone using the eye takes no damage from car accidents.  Ever.  Reduce all injury from being hit by a car or being involved in a car accident to zero; even if you get thrown from the car, you take no damage.
Description: The eye looks like a decently-made glass eye with a brown iris.  The eye grants the aforementioned protection from car accidents, but only works if the person is wearing it in their left eye socket (necessitating the removal of her left eye).  Note that it is still possible to be pinned under a car, and you'll probably get knocked down from an impact, but you will not be injured.  However, you are not protected from other injuries you may garner while driving, such as burning yourself on the cigarette lighter or getting shot by the driver who just snapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  While using the eye, an Entropomancer can gain no charges other than minor charges from automotive stunts (you can still look like a tool or get arrested, but you won't get hurt or killed).  Furthermore, involving other people in the stunt may cause you to break taboo (you're making people take a risk that you won't take, because you're not risking injury in the same way they are).  Some dukes claim this is actually Sammy Davis, Jr.'s glass eye, though most think this is probably just a tasteless joke.
What you hear: Word is that the eye was last seen at some weird little occult yard sale in Chicago in 2002.  Some Brock Samson-looking motherfucker known as Jesse Lazarus was reported as buying it, probably keeping in line with his work as a Hollywood stuntman.  Among other things, he did stunt work for 2 Fast 2 Furious before his last known sighting in Las Vegas, singing "Candy Man" on karaoke night at the Stratosphere Crazy Armadillo Tex-Mex Grill & Oyster Bar, in 2005.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Artifact April #1: Kingmaker [LotFP/D&D]

Since I have a tendency to ignore this blog for prolonged periods, I arbitrarily decided to make this April "Artifact April."  Thirty days of magic items for various systems — expect some Dungeons & Dragons and its many variants, some World of Darkness, some Unknown Armies, and maybe some other nonsense, as appropriate.  Hopefully some good ones will appear.  Occasionally.

Also, hopefully, I'll keep to it.  So, without further ado:

Kingmaker (the write-up assumes Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules)

The sword called Kingmaker appears as a khopesh of archaic manufacture with a gilded and jeweled hilt.  One side of the blade bears the inscription "I am wielded;" the other side bears the inscription "I am sheathed."  These inscriptions appear in an ancient language requiring a Languages roll at -3 to translate; Ancient Egyptian is a fair analogue for the culture from which the blade originates.

Kingmaker detects as magical if Detect Magic or similar abilities are used.  It counts as a medium weapon dealing 1d8 damage.  If found in a treasure hoard and sold by greedy adventurers, it can be sold for maybe somewhere in the 1,000-5,000 sp range.  (No doubt someone might try to pry off the gems, scrape off the gold, and sell them separately; you could maybe get 1,000 sp or so for the components, and 10 sp for the sword — maybe 100 to 200 sp from a collector still willing to buy the well-crafted blade despite its obvious damage.)  The merchant to whom you sell the blade will no doubt appear again, as suggested below.

The sword only has one effect: when the monarch of the closest kingdom to the sword's owner dies (Kingmaker's owner being defined as whatever living or unliving being is carrying the sword when the monarch dies; if the sword is stashed on a cart or something, then whomever most logically lays claim to that stash counts as the "owner"), Kingmaker manufactures evidence to place the owner next in the line of succession.  It cannot manipulate memories or conflate truths and lies, but it can forge documents, shift personal effects, and even alter its owner's DNA on the off-chance someone has the magic or technology necessary to check.  (This won't change the owner's characteristics at all, but will provide convincing genetic markers for anyone investigating the owner's lineage.)  Despite the overwhelming evidence that the owner is some long-lost bastard child or cousin or whatever, the sudden appearance of this heir is always designed to cause the maximum possible amount of strife on a national scale.  Affairs will be revealed, conspiracies will be unearthed, siblings will go to war, assassins will be unleashed, and the sword's unwitting owner will be at the center of all this, often with no real inkling as to why this is happening.  Canny wielders may turn this situation to their advantage, of course, assuming they live that long.

The sword's owner remains the same, even if they divest themselves of the sword, until death.  Of course, if someone kills the owner and takes the sword, then the sword manufactures evidence for that person, starting the cycle anew.

The sword is sapient and Chaotic in alignment, able to communicate telepathically with creatures within 100 feet, although rarely deigning to talk to anyone.  The sword looks on living and unliving things with disdain, considering the works of man and other sapients as abominations against the natural order.

Incidentally, if the player characters stripped the sword of valuables and sold it, it will somehow communicate to its new owner that this is all the player characters' fault.  (It may do likewise if they sold it unmolested, or maybe they'll just hear of the troubles when the merchant to whom they sold the weapon is named next in line to be king.)


It is entirely possible that the sword can manufacture evidence at will, sowing chaos among the cities of men.

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