Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Divine Wight Part 4 - Jungle Introduction

Dense foreboding jungle the color of a bone bruise, but vibrant with squalling life, spices and bursts of strange color.  Its dangers leak from the body of a fallen god, decaying at its heart.

The Jungle of Midnight is a unfinished country, prehistoric, where a tall, many layered canopy combines with heat and damp to create a steaming, shaded pit, full of obscenity - violent and base.  All nature in the jungle is fighting for survival, choking, asphyxiating, writhing, fornicating and rotting away. Despite the startling blues and jewel greens of feathers and leaves, the jungle it is a place of misery, the trees live in misery, the birds live in misery - they do not sing only scream with misery.  With an overwhelming misery, overwhelming fornication, overwhelming growth and an overwhelming lack of order, there is no real harmony as a human could conceive it in the Jungle of Midnight, only the natural harmony of overwhelming and collective murder.

Travel in the Jungle is hard, sweaty, exhausting and is best done on foot.  The tangled vines, branches and uneven jungle floor make travel on horseback nearly impossible, and pack animals can’t move any better.  Mounted travel or travel with pack animal will be at ½ speed (humanoid porters don't reduce speed).  The heat and damp are oppressive and ruinous, so much so that characters wearing metal armor will be at a -3 to all rolls after only a few turns of outdoor exertion.

The best way to travel in the jungle is by river, though this will only take the party part of the way to their destination.  Foot travel is slow as paths must be hacked through the fecund undergrowth and tangling vines.  Days for travel are marked on the regional map, but represent only a few miles of actual foot travel.

Heat stroke, exhaustion, thousands of stinging insect bites, dysentery, infected wounds  and strange fevers are the fate of non-natives in the Jungle of Midnight. Some extreme implications of the jungle environment are included on the Obstacle/Occurrence encounter list but otherwise I would assume that the party are skilled and experienced adventurers - prepared for harsh environments.  If your players go to extremes in failing to prepare for a short wilderness journey, run out of supplies or are driven away from their camp you might consider the following optional rules:

Exhaustion:  Without supplies, characters suffer from exhaustion after each day.  Suffering a cumulative -2 per day on all rolls.  If this penalty is ever greater than an individual character’s CON they will die of starvation and related ailments. A successful survival check and using up a ½ day can create enough food for the party (assuming all the party members are involved) and some random encounters may also create food.  Scavenging and hunting without a skilled survivalist will also find ‘food’ but require a successful Save vs. Poison for 1D6/3 party members to avoid killing themselves with some of the horribly toxic berries, animals and plants of the jungle.   
Dysentery:  Water is abundant in the Jungle, but without a skilled survivalist (or a clear plan about how they will purify it) drinking jungle water will quickly lead to illness, reducing travel speed by ½ and inflicting 1D6/3 points of damage per day until the sick adventurer receives a week of bed rest and clean water.
Infection:  Wounds in the jungle tend to become infected and infested with blue mold, insect larva and crystalline growth.  Natural healing won’t occur due to minor infection, and wounds have a chance to become infested each day (3D6 vs. Constitution) which will cause 1D6 damage and produce a raging fever (reduce travel speed by ½ and -4 to all rolls).
All negative impacts of jungle ailments are cumulative.  

The Jungles of Midnight are not only a jungle, erupting with life, hot, sticky and strange, but also a magical sink, created by the near destruction of an elder god.  Magical sinks are best thought of as pollution or radiation zones, areas where powerful sorcery has burned through the order of the terrestrial world and slowly leaks out changing and warping everything.  The jungles are an especially powerful, ancient and stable sink.  The radiation from the dying god has changed the people within into both the Brutes and Autochthons, but also transformed everything else - from the matt black dirt to all plant and lesser animal life - uniformly blue, purple, emerald or black and glassy, serpentine, glowing eyed, long plumed or waxy.  

An alien environment, though not intrinsically hostile to travellers more than any other jungle teeming with strange life, is hard on strangers..  The heat, oddity and humidity of the jungles, even for those walking the shadowed depths of the forest floor or poling on the wide slow river is crushing.  To emphasize this one may consider introducing exhaustion rules and requiring the party to drink large amounts of fresh water (at least two water skins a person per day).
RANDOM ENCOUNTERS IN THE JUNGLE: Random encounter checks in the Jungle use an ‘overloaded’ or ‘exploration’ die system and are rolled four times a day, though the actual encounter or event should be placed where and when it makes the most sense to the referee.  A D12 should be rolled on any encounter table if the party is river-borne, while a D10 is sufficient on land.  Dawn, Noon, Dusk and Midnight are the rough times for encounters or events and the type of event is determined as follows:
Type of Event
Encounter - Dangerous encounters with potential rivals and malicious beasts
Landmark - A distinctive landmark is spotted, which provides a good reference point for marking distance and allows for future returns to the location. If the Party is encamped treat this encounter as a ‘5’.
Sign - A sign of potential encounters or possibly some other interesting find.
Fauna - Harmless or at least peaceful fauna is encountered, it may usually be ignored and sometimes hunted.
Weather - The weather changes from the normal or previous condition.  The normal condition is humid, shadowy gloom and extreme heat, day or night.
Occurrence/Obstacle - Some sort of event occurs that requires player attention to resolve.  If this event occurs at camp ignore the result.

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