Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In the City at Night - The Night Holds Terrors

The roads are pure and timeless, and around them the detritus of a civilization that has failed from efforts  tawdry efforts to emulate the roads' perfection. Bright avenues run to the horizons - imperishable blocks of bonewhite and alchemical stone set straight and true to the compass points, surrounded by gardens of tangled briar, monuments of crumbled ruin, industrial yards where a few lackadaisical workers loaf in the shadows of ancient machines, store front churches to venal gods and dusty monuments faceless with time.

1970's Sci-Fi art - artist David A. Hardy
While this expanse of baroque decay calls out for contemplation, there is no safety here. Whether native son or bold intruder from some savage remoteness, the streets are hungry for flesh and the stuff of mortal souls.  Fellow citizens are hardened and travelers predatory even in the bright noon light, but at night other things come creeping and hunting from the endless ruins, to waylay the unsuspecting.

Below is a table of 38 random encounters for the Imperial Capital.  I expect that with these encounters, the locations table and the treasure table I have previously posted under the title "In the City at Night" one would have sufficient material to run the location.  A 3D6 table of random new PC/NPC equipment and identity might also be helpful to flesh out the citizenry a bit.
When a random encounter occurs roll D12 during the day and d12 + d20 at night. Signs and intimations of nearby dangers are also included.

Simpering Friendship and Howling Hatred
Description (For Exploration Rolls of 1)
Signs (For Rolls of 2)
Tinker - One harridan and her mule, weighed down with pans, cutlery, shoes and the tools of her trade.  Tinkers are wanderers who know much, and are sacred to the both Imperial Cult and the new gods.

Tinker - HD ½*, AC 13, ATK +0 (by weapon), MV Normal (4), INT 0, SV F0, ML 6
*Anyone harming a tinker must save vs. spells or suffer a curse, taking maximum damage from all hits.
Dagger [close], leather and felted wool travellers clothes [light AC 13], mule, specialist tools, tinware (100 GP)
An almost rhythmic clanking and clattering can be heard from a surprising distance away.  Badly tuned bells?  A walking armory?

A flyer depicting a mended pan above a crude map to a nearby plaza.
Religious Procession - Chanting, simpering and parading banners and bright painted wooden statuary of several Sainted God-Emperors a band of robed pilgrims makes there way towards a shrine.

Pilgrims (4D6) HD ½, AC 11, ATK +0 (by weapon) MV Normal (4), INT 0, SV F0, ML 10
Staff, robes, religious trinkets (5 GP)
Scattered hell money in the damp gutters seems trail of fine ash winding down the avenue.

The sounds of sanctimonious chanting and joyous ulation.
Convict Laborers - Two overseers in the white enameled plate of templars watch from the scant shade as a coffle toils ceaselessly cleaning the muck from a canal or replacing paving stones seemingly at random.  Over half of the laborers are reanimated dead men, and their living companions have a look of hungry madness in their eyes.

Carceral Templar (2) HD 4, AC 19, ATK +5 (by weapon), MV Normal (4), INT 1, SV F4, ML 10
Enameled plate (heavy AC 18), Shield, White steel crook [penetrating, silver, special] crook can raise zombies from any bearing a carceral brand.
Zombies (2D6) HD 2*, AC 12, ATK + 1 (bite/pummel) MV Sluggish (3), INT -2, SV F2, ML 12
* Undead with immunities to electricity, cold, sleep and charm.
Convict (1D6) HD ½, AC 11, ATK +0 (weapon) MV Normal (4), SV F0, ML 6
Mattock/shovel [light]
A great chain wrapped around a pillar or milepost, with several manacles attached and the mark of the Church emblazoned in chalk.

The steady sound of picks and shovels clinking away nearby with a religious hymn to the first emperor sung as a work song, though its chorus has been replaced by unearthly moans.

A small battered barge filled with pavers and guarded by a single elderly church servant.

Vigils - Armed with fancifully shaped weapons, and clad high spired helmets of ancient make, these hereditary peacekeepers move slowly through the streets, occasionally stopping to demand honorariums for their forbearance, or to accept bounty deposits for investigating ‘crimes’.

Vigils (2D6) HD 1+1 AC 17 ATK +2 (weapon) MV Normal (4), SV F1, ML 8
Heavy enamelled scale[heavy, AC 16], shield, antique cudgel [hexed/penetrating], heavy crossbow [heavy, slow], 30 bolts.
The sounds of the hourly clarion echos from surprisingly near.  

A sign leans against a nearby building advertising a Vigil checkpoint where crimes may be reported and bounties offered for the perpetrators.

Drunken singing and a street strewn with flowers, Vigils are always required at weddings, and frequently become very intoxicated.
Canal Swine - A menace to barge traffic, though quite tasty and susceptible to a concerted attack by poison and harpoon, these huge, stupid, six-legged hybrids of vegetable and meat often wander onto shore, especially at night and can be quite truculent if their grazing and sun bathing is disturbed.

Canal Swine (1D6) HD 8 AC 13 ATK x3 +3 (claw[heavy]/claw[heavy]/bite [penetrating/2d6] MV Sluggish (3), SV F6, ML 6.
A dead Canal Swine is worth 400 - 800GP Wholesale.
A trail of canal slime, thin viscous stool filed with bones and odd flat footprints leads off towards a garden or other greenspace.

Trumpeting, bellows and splashing carry from the nearest canal.  Canal Swine are quite territorial, especially in must.

1D6+1 Trampled corpses (perhaps Demes desperados) with long broken pikes, shatter pavis and crushed crossbows.
Grifter - A Seller of Saint’s fingers, Pine Hell charms and miracle oils these men and women dress in crude copies of the ancient sorcerers and sometimes carry a minor magical item or two for use or sale at an outrageous price.  Many are also good sources of rumors.

Grifter HD1 AC 11 ATK +1 (by weapon) MV Normal (4), SV MU2, ML 4
Ornate Robe, Dagger [close]
Spells: Maleficence (Magic Missile), Sleep, Charm Person. Dancing Lights
The stink of cheap incense wafts from a nearby doorway.

A crowd in the distance gathers around a man in an absurd robe.

Neighborhood Gossips tell of a miracle worker who wanders from tavern to tavern.
Slavers - The dirty uncouth bastards of the Resurgent Kingdoms, a mixed band of murderous thugs and criminals seeking to grab ‘soft’ and skilled Imperial citizens (or simply the young, fit and/or attractive) for smuggling to the most backwards areas of the Kingdoms.

Slavers (3D6) HD1 AC 16 ATK +2 (by weapon) MV Normal (4), SV F1, ML 8
Dirty chain hauberk [medium AC 15], Kite or target shield, arming sword[finesse], bearded axe[overpowering] or mace[penetrating], net [reactive/entangling/binding]
The neighborhood looks inhabited by windows are shuttered, and doors appear barricaded.
A brutally beaten body rests in the gutter, manacles on its wrists and ankles.

The harangue of an Imperial priest is distinctive even from a distance.  This one calls out the utter evil of slavery, and seeks “Stalwart Imperial Citizens” to fight it.
Demes - A small group of Demes (local sports and self defense clubs) loiter with their arms.  They will have colored bands or motley representing their set (Yellows, Blue and Browns, Red Checks) and will take violent offense over the display of at least one other color.

Demes (2D6) HD 1 AC 14, ATK +1, (by weapon), MV fleet (5), SV SPC1, ML 8
Padded or leather armor [light AC 13], buckler, cutlass or ax [overpowering], 6 javelins [thrown, light].
Banners and scraps of distinctive color are tied everywhere.  Around columns, hanging from archways and emblazoning pole stuck haphazardly in the ground.

Drunken singing seems to come from everywhere, echoing off the walls, it sounds both bellicose and

Jeweled Birds - Once a curiosity and ten day wonder, these 6’ tall carnivorous birds’ beautiful opalescent plumage gained them the love of the 406th Emperor, who declared them free citizens of the Capital.  To kill one is murder, though their tendency to steal and devour children makes them unpopular, and there is a strong grey market for their feathers.

Jeweled Bird - (1D6) HD 3 AC 15, ATK +4, (kick[heavy]/display*), MV fast (6), SV F3, ML 8
* Jeweled Birds can spend a round (usually their first) making a display with their long sparkling tails, all within 50’ must save vs. paralysis or suffer blindness for 1D6+2 rounds.
The feathers of a jeweled bird are worth 500 GP
A long feather - rippling and opalescent is caught on a tangle of bramble, or flutters near a narrow squeeze between two columns.

A group of serious children, equipped with long hooked sticks creep cautiously forward.  They follow a flock of jeweled birds collecting fallen fathers, but are wary of being hunted in turn.

Unearthly vaguely human cries, strident and keening rip through the air, seemingly without sense or meaning.  
Wreckers - Brave young reavers from the Resurgent Kingdoms, making their fortunes by tearing apart the still living corpus of the Imperial world.  They may be happy to see a new face, or jealous of rivals.

Wrecker (2D6) HD 1+1 AC 16, ATK +2 (by weapon), MV normal (4), SV F1, ML10
Chain, scale or lamellar armor of steel, iron, bronze or bone [medium AC 15], shield or buckler, spear[reach], axe[overpowering] or sword[finesse], oil bombs [explosive BV 2] x2, shovel or pick, 50 rope, lantern.
The sound of shovel on gravel and pick against stone carries quite a distance.

Corpse of several Imperials, slaughtered in and around their home, seemingly for amusement.

Handbills pasted to various walls declaring that a certain merchant at “The palisade of the slaughtered ox” will pay for “relics, fine dishware and bonewhite armory”
Monkeys - A motley troupe of filthy thieving beasts in bright colors. Alechmically modified to thrive on trash and resist the light snows of the Capital's winters, these beasts are given scraps for luck, and are shockingly competent scavengers.

Particolored Monkey (5D6+3) HD ½* (1HP) AC13, ATK +1** (bite), MV fast (6), SV F0, ML 6
* All Monkeys have the skill Sleight of Hand at level 2.  These use this to steal from anyone that isn’t immediately hostile, they are fond of food, money and magic wands.
** Faced with larger enemies Monkeys leap for the face.  The first successful attack will do normal damage and automatically grapple - at STR 9 with the monkey’s teeth considered a [close] weapon.
Horrible stinking dung spots the road.  Inexplicably it is in a variety of bright colors.

A road shrine to some Emperor covered in tiny filthy handprints, the offerings plundered.

The smell of ripe fruit wafts through the air, and across the road/canal is and a joyous cacophony erupts from within - hoots, calls and wild eeps.
Owlbears - Stinking and grunting these vermin are everywhere, even the Capital.  Smaller specimens, with bright feathers and dusty grey fur, urban owlbears are excellent climbers, and while smaller, much more agile than their wilderness counterparts.

Urban Owlbear (1D6) HD 3 AC 15, ATK +4, x3(claw/claw/bite*), MV normal (4), SV F3**, ML 10
* If both claw attack hit the same target the target is hugged and will take 2D6 damage per turn and considered to be in a STR 17 grapple.
** Magic spells have a 2 in 6 chance of being absorbed by the owlbear, having no effect beyond feeding it.
Owlbear pelts are worth 100 GP.
Some kind of foul stink exudes from the stones, and a weird grease is smeared about.

Horrible cawing growls...the sound of owlbears comes from nearby.

Greasy fur and long feathers scattered about.
Demes - Bushwhackers! The Orange and Greens (or the Purples, or the Red Checks) are out in search of a rumble and robbery.  Slights have been committed by strangers, and strangers will pay.  These Demes have a prepared ambush and are looking to inflict injury and humiliation on outsiders.
Demes* (2D6) HD 1 AC 14, ATK +1, (by weapon), MV fleet (5), SV SPC1, ML 8
*Demes attacking from concealment will make a backstab attack on their first action, and gain surprise on a 4 in 6.
Padded or leather armor [light AC 13], buckler, cutlass or ax [overpowering], 6 javelins [thrown, light].
Well ordered insula line the street,their second stories painted in a repeating garish colors. Everything is far too quiet.

Crude graffiti shows scenes of violence in a very particular color pallette.  A declaration of violent intent seems encoded a well.
Barbarians - Poorly organized and badly led many of the groups of sellswords that flock to the Capital find that it is not the place of easy riches they expected.  Some of these groups turn to wrecking and scavenge, others to banditry or extortion - at least until the local Demes or Syndicators manage to track them down.

Warriors (2D6) HD 1+1 AC 16, ATK +2 (by weapon), MV normal (4), SV F1, ML10
Chain, scale or lamellar armor of steel, iron, bronze or bone [medium AC 15], shield or buckler, spear[reach], axe[overpowering] or sword[finesse], short-bow [range], 30 arrows,
1D6x10 GP in plundered household goods
A dead man, woman or child lies in the street, beaten and stabbed - robbed of everything, even their sandals.

The still warm ashes of a campfire, built from furniture in the yard of a wrecked and plundered modest home.  
Blackheart Pack - The miscreant cannibal dead, warped by their immortality gifting disease.  The pack of ragged men and women are focused on their hunger and will tear at anyone they can catch - fleeing with the dead and wounded if threatened with defeat.

Blackheart (2D6)  HD 1*, AC 11, ATK +0, DAM 1d6/2** or by weapon, MV 4 (normal), SV F1, ML 12***
*Immune to normal weapons. Undead - may be turned, immune to sleep or charm effects.
** If injured save vs. poison after any battle or be afflicted with the Blackheart Contagion.  Any victim dropped to 0 HP or lower by a Blackheart attack who survives will also automatically become infected by the Contagion.
*** When hit with an attack that would do 4 or more damage Blackhearts are stunned for a round and must Save vs. Paralysis to avoid fleeing, squealing with hurt.
Dripping blood trails seem to lead towards an especially decrepit ruin.

The windows and doors of this neighborhood all seem more stoutly barred then normal.

Locals have reports of disappearances or half-hearted inquiries about a family member, usually of the ‘weird uncle’ or ‘deranged aunt’ variety - Imperials will know this is code for Blackheart activity.

Charms in white paint - the Veve of the First Emperor -  hang from the eves and are painted on the roadway here.

Hunting Roses - A flower of the Black Morass to the Northwest, where the alkali waters hold no nutrients, hunting rose are great tangles of semi-intelligent plant.  They slowly creep and prefer to ambush sleeping prey, constricting with their thorny wines and draining blood until their white blooms turn red.

Hunting Roses (1) HD 1D6+1 AC 13*, ATK 1 1XPer HD at +2 (lash**), MV slow (2), SV F4***, ML10
*Immune to arrows, bolts, spears, maces and other piercing or crushing weapons.
** On a successful lash attack the tendril will entangle - save v. paralysis or become trapped (4D6 v. STR to break), paralyzed and drained of blood (at 1D6 +1 HP per round).
*** A plant is immune to sleep, charm and other mind affecting spells.
The dried petals of a Hunting Roe are worth 100 GP per HD to perfumers.
Sweet nectar odors waft from some hidden bower in the ruins. The enchanting smell is fresh, clean and delicate.

A corpse naked and drained of blood is curled in the dirty gutter.  The wretch appears to have been lashed with barbed whips and then somehow exsanguinated.

A canal has burst it’s banks nearby, and created a small mire, overrun with brambles and glittering black butterflies.
Owlbears - A sloth of these things, dams, bruins, cubs - swarming and hungry.  Brown feathers and white and grey fur create ideal camouflage, but the screeching roars of the beasts give away their positions.

Urban Owlbear (2D6+2) HD 3 AC 15, ATK +4, x3(claw/claw/bite*), MV normal (4), SV F3**, ML 10
* If both claw attack hit the same target the target is hugged and will take 2D6 damage per turn and considered to be in a STR 17 grapple.
** Magic spells have a 2 in 6 chance of being absorbed by the owlbear, having no effect beyond feeding it.
Owlbear pelts are worth 100 GP.
Enormous fragrant pellets of fur and clothing cover the road and nestle near walls.  The scent is indescribable, both because it is overpoweringly foul and because it reeks with strange magical esters.

A new handbill glued to the pole outside a nearby pub describes and illustrates the gruesome attack of a sloth of owlbears on a band of temple virgins.  A reward of 50 GP per pelt from a ‘concerned citizen’ is offered for the creatures currently at large in the region.
Blackheart Mob - A swarming pack of hungry flesh eaters, hiss and stumbling, their infighting laid aside for the moment.  They will surge to attack and retreat in fear like a stinking yellow-toothed tide.

Blackheart (6D6)  HD 1*, AC 11, ATK +0, DAM 1d6/2** or by weapon, MV 4 (normal), SV F1, ML 12***
*Immune to normal weapons. Undead - may be turned, immune to sleep or charm effects.
** If injured save vs. poison after any battle or be afflicted with the Blackheart Contagion.  Any victim dropped to 0 HP or lower by a Blackheart attack who survives will also automatically become infected by the Contagion.
*** When hit with an attack that would do 4 or more damage Blackhearts are stunned for a round and must Save vs. Paralysis to avoid fleeing, squealing with hurt.
Cryptic warnings are painted the walls at the edge of the Blackheart territory - images of a black heart, cracked through the middle are the most common. Also strips of gunny sack tied to any upright surface and small shrines of personal items (including many children toys) of those who have been lost to the undead mob.

A stink of rotten flesh fills the air.

The cracked, bloodstained white porcelain mask of a lower Priest of the first emperor is lashed defiantly to a pole here.

Drinkers of Joy - All creatures have their parasites and as far as arcane biology is concerned, cities are creatures.  The Drinkers of Joy are such a parasite, a roving band of malicious ideas that appear to be mere drunken rowdies.  They will breeze into an establishment, rough and offensive in the most cliched manner.  As long as they receive alcohol to guzzle they will merely threaten and bluster, but when their thirst is denied the will turn malignant and eventually violent, delighting in torment and brutality.  In appearance they look like any urban tough - except their faces leer too large, their moustaches twirl too expressively, their muscles gleam with too much oil and their scars are too tritely disfiguring.

Drinkers of Joy (2d6) - HD ½, AC 16*, ATK +0 (bludgeon/bite/rend), MV normal (4), SV F0, ML8
*As paraphysical entities Drinkers of Joy are immune to normal weapons.
A huge pile of broken and empty liquor bottles stands before the still smouldering ruins of a rathskeller.

The sound of weeping is much quieter than the shout of drunken revelry that come from nearby, yet they cut through the boasts and guffaws like an axe through meat.

The air here is scented with fear, drunkenness and cruelty and cheap liquor.  There’s nothing obvious that causes these scents but everyone in the area must fight back the urge to cover or check their shoes for vomit.
Forgotten Dreams - Dreams gone sour and rotten - the aspirations of the dead millions do not simply fester and crust over like sugar or rotten meat.  Shared yearnings will manifest in titanic explosions - creating new gods.  These are not so great, the dead dreams of the Capital are cruel and petty things, wisps of malignancy, light, and woe that produce spectral tricksters who promise wealth and power. They are easily appeased with a bowl of human blood and a few coins.

Dream Deferred (1D6/3) - HD 2* AC 15, ATK +2 (touch)**, MV normal (4), SV F2, ML 6
*Immune to normal and hexed weapons,
** The touch of a Rotten Dream is not painful, but drains 1D6/2 WIS (will recover after session), and at 0 WIS can result in death.  In combat victim must also Save v. Paralysis or fall asleep.  Dreams are more likely to negotiate then to attack.
Gravity and sorrow hang in the air, and memories of past hopes, long abandoned or dashed float to the surface of consciousness.

Laying in the shade of an ancient portico, a traveller slumbers deeply, twitching in an irreversible sleep and dreaming terrible nightmares.  He will die of thirst in two days and his pack has already been stolen.

Syndicators - The annal of crime in the Capital could fill as many libraries as the debates of the Imperial Cult’s collegium, but these men and women of business, in their sleek leathers and harlequin's masks only know the current edition of skullduggery and power.  Arrogant, but used to compliance they do not like being disturbed when going about their activities.

Syndicate Badge Holders* (1D6) HD 3 AC 14, ATK +3, (by weapon), MV fleet (5), SV SPC 3, ML 10.
* At least one Syndicator will be concealed in the shadows well behind the rest (stealth 4 in 6) this individual will either attack with a backstab or flee and inform the syndicate should the Syndicators look like they will be overrun.
Fine leather armor [light - AC 13], dueling pins [finesse/close, +1 attack for dual wielding] and hand crossbow [light/reactive] 20 bolt covered in red froth poison (Save v. Paralysis or collapse in agony for 1D6 turns). Syndicate badge (250 GP), 50’ silk rope, specialist’s tools.
A young man in slick clothes stands at an intersection, forbidding passage.  Brawny stevedores and even Demes brawlers nod and wait.  In the distance are screams of pain.

A turtle wanders out from a nearby house, a lit candle stuck to its shell.

Swarm Rats - Infested with crystal phage these everyday rodents have transformed into a menace, their sickly bodies moving to a collective will, each individual rodent an appendage of a hungry and malevolent entity growing ever more encrusted with glowing blue crystals, the oldest rats, immobile masses carried by their brethren.

Swarm Rats -  HD 4* AC 10, ATK +3** (swarm), MV sluggish (3), SV F1, ML 6
* Attacks with weapons and individually targeted spells do only 1HP of damage each to the Swarm.  Swarm is immune to sleep and charm spells.
** Swarm automatically does 1D6 damage per round to any within 10’ or engaged in melee with it. Target armor reduces this damage by -4 for heavy armor, -3 for medium and -2 for light.
The gutters are clean, the sewer grates devoid of filth and even the ubiquitous lichen that covers the white stone of the Capital and ever present weeds have been scoured away.

The stink of ozone and cinnamon fills the air, wafting up from the storm drains and from cracks in the walls.

There is no insect or small animal life in this area, but here and there tiny middens of bone and chitin are found.
Cultists - Hope is in short supply as the sun sets on civilization, and the decadent phase of religious devotion to quackery, millenarianism and evil is several generations old.  Robes, chanting and daggers crooked to the point of near uselessness indicate these are no robbers.They may not be inimical to reason, but their beliefs demand frequent human sacrifice.

Cult Kindnapper (3D6) HD 1 AC 13, ATK +1, (by weapon), MV normal (4), SV F1, ML 10
leather wrappings and thick robes [light AC 13], ceremonial kris [close].
Chanting, low, repetitive and sinister comes from all around.

A rash of kidnappings has been reported in the area, children and youths are locked indoors and when they emerge wear bells or carry whistles.

Crawling signs are smeared on the walls in some vile liquid.  The signs are meaningless, but look menacing.
Duppies - It’s a sad fact that more people die obsessed with their possessions then thinking about friends or family, and that most are so divorced from their own bodies, but so intimately connected to their material goods that many a wicked spirit returns to haunt the knicknack, furniture and gimcracks of a life then the corpse.  Duppies are the remnants of these lives of accumulation - ill proportioned humanoid amalgamations of detritus, bound together by the fragments of broken souls, and hatefully hunting the living.

Duppies (2D6) HD 2* AC 14, ATK +3 x2(claw/claw), MV normal (4), SV F2, ML 8
*Duppies are excellent at appearing to be piles of forgotten refuse and household goods.  They will surprise on a 5 in 6 - suddenly springing to life.
Piles of wrecked household goods and carefully hoarded mundane items rot and decay in the windows and on the stoops of nearby abandoned buildings.

A haunting singing in the distance, just on the edge of hearing with indistinct words and the occasional tinkle of chimes.

Thralls - Most of the hive factors in the Capital’s abandoned suburbs are empty except for vermin, but a few still function and a larger number are still home to their beastial workforce.  Luckily the more dangerous sorts of Thralls tend to remain laired up in shuttered factors, but some of the more motivated and intelligent, such as the tusk mouthed ‘Feng’ of the old porcelain works scavenge and hunt in the Capital.  Some thrall bands even peacefully trade, though distrust will always remain between true men and the subhuman arcane creations of the ancients.

Thralls (2D6) HD 1+1 AC 14, ATK +2 (by weapon*), MV normal (4), SV F1, ML 10
*Stronger than men, Thralls do +1 damage in melee
Piecemeal armor [light armor AC 13], makeshift shield, spear [reach] or cleaver [overpowering], tomahawk x2 [light, reactive]
The sign of a coin painted on a piece of fine porcelain decorated with strange eyeless beasts.  This is a call to trade, and if food, wine, cooking oil, armor, weapons or household goods are left near the plate they will be replaced in the night by more china.  The trade plate is watched however, and if taken or damaged it will invite reprisal.

A hooking and growling chorus fills the night from past the canal, where horned and armed figures leap around a bonfire.
Geists - Most who return from the the dead without a necromancer’s intervention are revenants, animate corpses motivated by singular obsessions.  Hate though is a special emotion, soul brooding, life destroying hatred and desire for revenge can anchor a vengeful spirit to the world even without a physical vessel.  Such are Geists, the pure manifestation of revenge and hate in almost elemental form - immaterial whirlwinds of life draining power centered around the screaming spectral face of the long dead.  While Geists will interact with the living, discussion can only end in violence, as the Geist knows only hate and has a very short temper.

Giests (1D6/3) HD 5, AC 13*, ATK+6 (buffet)*, MV normal (4), SV F5, ML 10
*drawn into the Giest’s maelstrom of heat and rage, few survive, their flesh and soul ripped from their bones. A giest drains 1 level of experience (Save vs. Spells to avoid) and if a giest misses it’s next attack against the same target will bypass any armor as it’s clawing wind learns the gaps and weaknesses of its foe
The day darkens, or the night deepens as lanterns and torches dim or shift to the red.

Sound becomes slightly muffled, nearby friends voices come as if from across the room even one’s own footfalls start to echo from other rooms.

There’s a heat here, a like cinders in the air that burns the throat and nasal passages.

A handprint in soot or blood on the wall is augmented by a single word “REVENGE”.
Demonic Minions - Demons have sworn eternal enmity to the Empire and at least one of their kind has made its way to the Capital to spread destruction.  While demons hide away in the depth of the undercity or the spires of abandoned mansion towers, they send their minions abroad to spread lies, create terror and bring ruin to mortals.  Hunched, child-sized, humanoid, and nearly human “Imps” are the most common, and they are never alone - as they cannot be trusted if they are ever left unwatched.  Imps are mortal enough, but their stringy bodies and knobby muscles give them strength and speed far beyond the normal range.

Demon Imp (1D6) HD 2* AC 16, ATK +3, x2(claw/claw**), MV fleet (5)***, SV F2, ML 10
*Cuts from normal weapons heal rapidly and Imps regenerate 5 HP per round (even after ‘death’) from wounds  inflicted by normal or silver/blessed weapons.  They are immune to normal fire.
** Imp claws tear through armor and treat all armor as maximum of AC 15.
** Imps are not only fast but acrobatic, having Acrobatics 4 and Climb 4.
The distinct smell of burning bodies and sulfur - there’s no smoke visible but their should be a pyre around here from the smell.

Laughter and the dismembered body of a tradesman.  The scattering of limbs is entirely disquieting, more even then such an act should be, The laughter seems forced and suspiciously timed to the discovery of the body.

Impossibly high on a chimney, or the 12th story of an insula wall is a crooked sign, leering and hateful, the mark of the Demon Emperor's - disposed tyrants of the Old Empire’s last years.

Wyrm Spawn - Things they crawl up from the canals.  Eels, crabs, worms with the heads and arms of men or a melange of various bits from each - all in chitin and corroded brass.  They start about the size of cats, hunting rodents, housepets and devouring the odd vagabond in a hungry swarm.  They are the Spawn of the Verdigirs Wyrm Zadom, and this group is about the size of men or small ponies - except they are a snarling mass of green-stained metal, gears, jagged bone and hungry yellow eyes.

Wyrm Spawn (medium) (1D6/2)  HD 3 AC 16**, ATK +4, x2/x1(claw/claw or spit**), MV normal (4), SV F3, ML 10
* Verdigris worms spread malaise and hopelessness.  Anyone in combat with the worm must save vs. Spells or suffer a -1 to hit while fighting the creatures.
** They may be small wyrms, but they are big enough to shrug off 1 point of damage per attack.
*** Luckily these wyrms are still small and cannot breath great corrosive gouts, but can spit a blob of corrosive slime up to 30’ at a single target for normal damage.
A intense feeling of lethargy strikes all who wander this street. Hopelessness, despondency and pointless

A rainbow gleam of volatile oils covers the nearby canal, dead and free of fish. Close investigation will find  strange claw marks in the limestone and imperishable bonewhite of the canal walls.

No flies settle on the oily slicks that make ominous sigils in the street and on the walls hereabouts.  The marks are long, swooping and discolor everything they touch, making even the crumbling walls of ruin appear dirties and more sordid.

Nothing lives here - not birds, no rats, even the dandelions and crabgrass bursting through the cobbles appears to have been cropped close by some voracious thing.
Owlbear - Ancient, scarred and cunning, this great white furred owlbear is at least a century old.  It prefers a solitary life, primarily devouring its kin.  Hunting from ambush it will wait in tangles of bramble or behind a thin wall before bursting out, its crest of red feathers erect, slashing with terrible claws and its great crimson beak.

Owlbear Matriarch (1) HD 6+6 AC 14*, ATK +7, x3(claw/claw/bite**), MV normal (4), SV F7**, ML 10
* Owlbear Matriarch is a monstrous creature with two points of damage absorption per attack.
** If both claw attack hit the same target the target is hugged and will take 3D6 damage per turn and considered to be in a STR 18 grapple. Bite attack does 2D6 damage.
*** Magic spells have a 4 in 6 chance of being absorbed by the owlbear, having no effect beyond feeding it.
Owlbear Matriarch pelt is worth 1,000 GP.
The mangled corpse of an owlbear cub, mostly devoured, it’s huge dish like eye staring upward in terror.

A crushed path leads deep into the brambles of a nearby park.  The ancient, wrist thick vines have been snapped and broken despite their dagger long thorns.  White fur clings to some of the brambles.

A  puppet theater nearby delights children with the story of a huge white owlbear that protects a little boy from all manner of danger in the city.  The puppeteer, Clavidus, says he’s seen the owlbear that inspired his play, and he is proud that his puppet is made from bits of its fur. [The Owlbear Matriarch is protective of nothing, but tends not to bother with non-magical prey.]
Blackheart Royalty - It hunts at night, swollen and canny with madness.  A Blackheart King or Queen (it’s hard to tell), with its devoted coven of lesser Blackhearts.  This sinewy giant that hunts man in the night with stealth and strength.

Blackheart (1D6)  HD 1*, AC 11, ATK +0, DAM 1d6/2** or by weapon, MV 4 (normal), SV F1, ML 12***
*Immune to normal weapons. Undead - may be turned, immune to sleep or charm effects.
** If injured save vs. poison after any battle or be afflicted with the Blackheart Contagion.  Any victim dropped to 0 HP or lower by a Blackheart attack who survives will also automatically become infected by the Contagion.
*** When hit with an attack that would do 4 or more damage Blackhearts are stunned for a round and must Save vs. Paralysis to avoid fleeing, squealing with hurt.

Blackheart Royal (1) HD 6+6, AC 15*, ATK +7 x2 (Claw/Claw)**, MV 5 (fleet)****, SV F6, ML 10

*Immune to normal weapons. Undead - may be turned, immune to sleep or charm effects.
** Blackheart Royalties’ claws are [overpowering] weapons. If injured save vs. poison after any battle or be afflicted with the Blackheart Contagion.  Any victim dropped to 0 HP or lower by a Blackheart attack who survives will also automatically become infected by the Contagion.
*** When hit with an attack that would do 4 or more damage Blackhearts are stunned for a round and must Save vs. Paralysis to avoid fleeing, squealing with hurt.
**** Blackheart Royalty are disturbingly agile, and have an Acrobatics Skill of 4 in 6 and a Stealth Skill of 3 in 6.
A great black painting, in charcoal, tar or dried filth covers a wall here.  It depicts the forbidden, bat winged silhouette of the demon Emperor.

A neat array of human skulls, set high in a wall stare down forbiddingly.
This entire neighborhood is disturbingly devoid of human and animal life.

A small home nearby, set discretely in a side street, overflows with gnawed bones, predominantly human.  The pour in slopes from its windows and doorway, and push out of the broken thatch.  The newest are atop the pile, a child’s skull still red and flensed less than a day before.

The stink from the canal is indescribable, and here atop a rich bed of algae floats a human ribcage.

Rumors place a Hunter of Men in the nearby desecrated shrine to some forgotten lesser emperor.  It hunts the night, leaping from roof to roof, a huge shadow of some knobby muscled thing that snatches all it finds - reaching for babes through open windows, snatching frunks from the boisterous company of their companions and stalking any who come late along these streets.
Hellburner - Once faithful guardian and protector of the deep ways, this bronze construct’s ley-channels have been overwritten and now it turns it’s 12’ pill bug form and blazing maw towards any it finds on its nightly hunts.

Hellburner  HD 6 AC 18*, ATK 1 (bite)/ Breath**, MV sluggish (3), SV F 6, ML 10
*A Hellburner is a construct, immune to normal fire, electricity, cold and to all poison or mid affecting spells.  It’s bronze plates absorb 2 points of damage per attack.
** The white hot jaws of a Hellburner are [magical] and [penetrating] and inflicts 2 additional points of fire damage.  A Hellburner’s breath is a stream of intense heat that will inflict it’s current HP in damage to up to 5 targets in front of the creature and under 50’ (BV 5, ranged) away.  Cover can protect against this attack (half damage), and a Save vs. Breath will reduce it to ½ damage (or none under cover).
A sound comes from under the street a, grinding and clicking, growing louder.

A small park of statuary, has been interestingly defaced, the grasses burnt, shrubbery charredand statues molten as if they were wax under a flame.
True Nightmare - See table below.
Each of these entities is rare or unique, and if destroyed will never be encountered again.  If not destroyed the entity is now “in play” and will have its own plans and schemes.
See “True Nightmare” table below

True Nightmares of the Urban Stews
Imperial Scion & Retinue - It is known by most, but only spoken of by the foolish, that the Imperial line is inbred, mad and deformed, guarded by the Amber masked Excubitores of the Cult of the Living Emperor. All in the Capital can hear the mad cries from the Emperor’s Palace Spire.

Some scions are corrupted and must feed on mortals, and despite the unwholesome aspects they are still of the Imperial line, and must be given the opportunity to live.  Such pale, lanky predatory scions are allowed to hunt the night and feast on the flesh of Imperial subjects until their perfect patrician faces run red beneath their mad glowing celestial eyes. The scion is guarded by hulking Excubitores, who will not intervene if the Scion attacks its prey (even if the prey individual fights back or flees) but will put a stop to any group effort to kill the Scion and will eliminate any witnesses or any who kill a Scion.  They are implacable and cannot speak intelligibly, as beneath their masks and armor they have the faces and bodies of giant infants.

Excubitores (1D6+3) HD 6+6, AC 19*, ATK +7 (by weapon)**, MV normal (4), SV CL 6, ML 11
*Excubitores lack nerves and cannot feel pain, they have a natural damage reduction of -2 per attack received.  Excubitores are also magically warded and bred to be immune to sleep and charm spells.
** Excubitores are huge and hulking sports with catastrophic strength and all melee attacks from them do +3 damage.
Oversized enameled and gilded steel or Bonewhite decorative plate armor, greataxe [Overpowering, Heavy]

Imperial Scion  (1) HD 2+2 AC 16*, ATK +3 x2 (claw/claw)**, MV fleet (5)***, SV CL 3, ML 8
* The Scion has Celestial blood and is the product of generations of alchemical and arcane modification - some careful, most clumsy.  It is immune to normal weapons, blessed/silver weapons,normal fire, charms, electricity (including magical attacks) and magic missiles.
** Should the Scion strike successfully with both attacks it will (after doing normal damage) have trapped the target in a grapple where it can bite and gnaw on them for an automatic 2D6 damage per round unless they break free.  The Scion’s has a 16 strength for grappling purposes.
*** Scions are nimble and prefer high places, using their natural Acrobatics skill of 5 in 6 to leap in and out of combat and scurry up walls and columns.
Accursed Beast - A man can have too much of sorcery - worked by him or worked upon him it - doesn’t matter now.  This unfortunate individual, a man, women or child, has been the victim and likely perpetrator of a magical atrocity, the transformation of the human form into an amorphous mass of arcane monstrosity.  Shorn of human will and all but the most rudimentary and concealed human form, it is now a flagella spouting mass of bruised meat the size of a bull, with a great toothy maw at its center, ever hungry for magic and flesh.  

Accursed Beast HD 14*, AC 15, ATK +8 (Devour)** 3D6, MV slow (2), SV CL10***, ML 12
* The beast is immune to normal weapons, and regenerates 3 HP per round, even after having been slain (it can only be slain if it is dissolved with some enormous amount of holy water or if dispel magic is cast upon its remains)
** In addition to attacking with its central may the beast may take a swipe with a flagellum or crooked limb at anyone and everyone in melee as a normal attack.
*** Spells cast at or within 20’ will be absorbed 4 in 6 by the Beast, healing is for 1D6 HP per level of the caster.
Dead God - The Imperial rule has been unkind to Gods, syncretic and predatory the Imperial Cult has taken the beliefs of a thousand peoples and renamed their gods Imperial Saint, masked in mummery of court pomp, most of the ancient gods are subsumed, becoming aspects and finding worship in second hand prayers and sacrifices.  A few gods do not go easily into exile, and now hunt the city of their destroyers, connected to their plundered holy relics.  These creature appear in the form of avatars - broken, half-corpses of enormous power.  They may not be hostile, but they have nothing to offer in exchange for service and the hauteur and cruelty of a savage deity fallen on hard times.  The White Pine Woman is a Northern Goddess of lies and a particular variety of frozen death - she now wanders riding the body of tall, snow pale Pine Hellswoman courtesan, bloody footed, mad-eyed and strangely alluring.  She leaves a trail of frozen corpses in the night, but rarely haunts the same neighborhood for more than a day or two.

Horse of the White Pine Woman (Dying Petty God of Avalanches and Falsehoods)  HD 6* AC 20**, ATK +7 x2 (claw/claw) or 1x Breath*** or spell, MV normal (4), SV F 10, ML 10
*If her horse is slain the White Pine Woman will return in 1D6+3 sessions in a new body with a grudge against her killers.
** The White Pine Woman is immune to normal fire, cold, electricity, and poison attacks, she is also immune to any form of cold based attack no matter how magical.
*** The Dead God can breath a mist of terrifying cold capable of instantly stilling hearts and turning hale limbs to brittle frozen meat.  Any within 10’ of her will take cold damage equal to the Avatar’s current HP, a Save vs. Breath will reduce this damage by ½.
In addition to her icy breath the Avatar may cast the following spells: (at will - command, invisibility, resist fire, shatter, levitate, charm person; three times per day: ice storm, slow, wall of ice).
Stone Loper - Who controls this beast of blood and fury?  One of the lesser military automata, Stone Lopers are a late product of Imperial arcanism, remotely operated killers, animated by enormous reserves and loci of magic (often stripped from earlier more potent automatons) and controlled by a ‘rider’ who moves and sees through the statue like automata remotely while suspended in a special ‘rack’ far from the Loper.

This Loper, 12’ tall at the shoulder, with the body form of a stooping ape and carved from solid marble is well maintained but crudely sculpted, and it’s cracked fists are soaked in blood, and banded with alchemical bronze.  Whoever controls the Loper is a sadistic murderer, stalking through streets and massacring those the construct comes across leaving their pulverized and torn limbs in strange patterns meaningful only to the killer.

Stone Loper - HD 8 AC 19*, ATK +8  x2 (crush/crush)** 2D6/2D6, MV normal (4)***, SV F 8, ML 11
* The Loper is immune to all but crushing damage - normal weapons lacking the [penetrating] or [heavy] modifier can damage it.  The Loper is a construct, immune to normal fire, electricity, cold and to all poison or mid affecting spells
**The massive stone fists of the loper treat all normal armor as if it was light armor (AC 13).
*** Despite its huge size the Loper moves stealthily, having a stealth skill of 2 in 6.
The arcane materials of a destroyed Loper are worth 4,000 GP but their sale will draw pointed questions from Imperial Military authorities.  The ‘rack’ to operate a Loper is far more valuable.
Verdigris Wrym - The Verdigris Wyrm, most poignant of dragon kind a beast of corroded copper, brass and silver, half mechanical and born of failure, sloth and decay.  Such creatures find their homes in places of collapse, and like most who see the foundations of plenty crumble beneath them they are hoarders.  The drakes of the green wyrm broods often find their way to the Capital, but no Wyrm yet has been able to make the eternal city it’s desolation.  Skulking in canals and piling treasures and rotten supplies stolen from murdered rivermen and looted from ruins in the long abandoned bathhouses of the 194th Emperor, The Jale Tanks,  Zadom the Eyeless is the most recent green scion to try to seize the capital as his domain.  Like his predecessors he will fail.

The 35’ wyrm sports an eyeless eel’s head and a foul breath of rusting, decaying gases.  His body is that of a lungfish crawling on a myriad of semi-mechanical human arms that hang, cillia like beneath his long torso.  Zadom is a predator, but he is starting to recognize, as  much as his solipsistic draconic nature allows, that the Capital is beyond him to control with wyrm spawn and brutality alone.  Zadom may seek either catspaws among the Wrecker bands or allies among the decadent houses of degraded nobility - but he cannot make a fair deal, and any offer the Verdigris Wyrm extends is a mere expectancy, to be renegotiated or broken for him and a bargain written in lifesblood for any other party.  He is especially fond of adding ivory and rare spices to his horde, where these items quickly rot.

Zadom, Adult Verdigris Wyrm HD 8+8* (HP 48), AC 18**,  ATK +9 x3 (claw/claw/bite [2D6])/breath***, MV Sluggish (3)/ swim fast (6)/ fly slow (2)****, SV F9, ML 10
* To come within 50’ of Zadon is to feel the hopelessness, anxiety and resignation of a 1,000 starving souls. Any within this distance (or further is Zadom meets their gaze) must Save vs. Spell to avoid being paralyzed for 1D6 turns as they contemplate the inevitability of decline and try to compose romantic  poetry about the beauty of death, evil flowers and the universe’s implacable desire for eternal degradation.  Even those who save will be at -1 to hit as they are drained of vim and wipe back tears.
* The resilient plating and redundant organs and systems of Zadom will absorb the first 3 points from any attack.
** Zadom may breath a cloud of foul corrosive gas, which rots weapons and armor (armor and wielded weapons get a save vs. paralysis as the level of their wielder, +1 if magical) to uselessness, and inflicts Zadom’s current HP in Damage, Save vs. Explosives/Breath for ½ damage.  The cloud will harm all potential targets in melee or at reach range.
*** Zadom’s wings are small and incapable of carrying its bulk for more than four rounds at a time. It must rest for four rounds between these clumsy, flapping flights.
Knight Perilous - The Banneret is concealed in a suit of inches thick bonewhite armor, standing 11’ tall from the decorative spires of the helmet to the curled spiked sabatons.  The white of the armor is marred by splashed blood, or crudely blackened with tar and mud.  This arcane knight has turned from the Banners of the Imperial Cult and now follows its own path of destruction and war.

Sir Cocles was a knight beneath the banner of the devoted to protecting the rest of the dead, but he has become warped by his faith and duties and now seeks to sacrifice the living, granting them peace and filling the catacombs he has taken as his personal temple.  His armor has been defaced with tar and he hangs garlands of human bone and broken swords over his armored form.

Sir Cocles, Knight Perilous HD 10+10 AC 20*, ATK +11, (by weapon)**, MV normal (4), SV F10**, ML 10
* The armor of a Banneret absorbs 2 points of damage per die of any physical attack.
**Sir Cocles wields a huge meteor hammer [penetrating, entangling], unusable by normal humans and inflicting 2D6 damage per strike.  Whenever the weapon strikes successfully the target must save v. paralysis or be stunned, losing their next action and allowing Cocles to continue his attack onto any other target in melee.
*** The armor of a Banneret renders them immune to magic, absorbing it and redirecting it.  Magical attacks and spells will be absorbed by the armor and will heal Cocles for 1D6 HP on a 3 in 6 chance.


  1. great! do you plan maybe on publishing fallen empire as a mini-setting?

    1. I have no such plans - I may add more tables and such to the Fallen Empire tag or make a page on the blog.

    2. Keep in mind, if intending to publish, that there is already a Tales From the Fallen Empire.

  2. I think the artist is David A. Hardy.

    1. Yep. That picture is in the "SF & Fantasy" gallery on his website.

  3. Wait, is a duppie a "dead urban professional"?

    1. maybe, but the name comes from Jamaican folklore where it's a ghost or revenant.

      The 'Blackhearts' here are also a take on Jamaican folklore's 'Uncle Gunnysack' or 'Blackheart Man' who steals children who are naughty and such in his gunny sack.

    2. That was my first thought, because I remember thinking that was a cool direction to take things in while reading the first Blackheart post. But the monster description seemed like a satirical commentary. Probably just a coincidence.

    3. Nothing's ever just one thing around here.