Saturday, 6 October 2018

On the coming of a shadow in the night towards a fogged pane


Spilderhesten Peak rises regal from coastal waters, through a black spruce and winturpine coat towards cragged rock and snowfall crown. Sharp shadows fracture across the seaward face as the sun tumbles below the west and, come morning, the eastern light brings a particular crimson sheen to that mountain, as if it existed only in a dream long ago and half-forgotten. In this, the Spilderhesten is not unlike any of those innumerable peaks of the Eastern Sorvind Range. Here, however, similarities end. 

There is a shadow in the night. A mote of northern darkness that no moonlight will ever illuminate. A shadow that sounds of leather and wings. She comes down from that Spilderhesten, over the bay when she thinks no one is watching, but someone always is. 

This night, it is a mother of three, warm but for the one they took, who presses her face against fogging pane. Now that shadow comes over the water in place of the unreturned child. She gives herself freely to that dark presence, to dry wings and silent sound, sifting the halcyon memory of that summer through the approaching shadow like water through a sieve.

It was a cold summer that summer many years ago, when white clouds swept low, across the Nidarholm in that morning. The monks came down from the Abbey one by one until the hill was strung red and white with robes among dark trees. Below, the villagers in the Monkholmen raised bleary morning eyes through the fog. The brewer saw grim portents. The fishmonger’s mistress cried of the end times. The houndmaster knelt and wept and kissed his daughter on the forehead. The eider rook gazed across the bay towards that cold Spilderhesten.

As the sun began to slide down the slope of the sky, that houndmaster’s daughter looked back over her shoulder to see that dark hill of the Nidarholm across still water. The tide soon willed the low stone huts of her childhood from sight, until all was a single, shadowed mass in the spreading gloam. Ahead loomed that Spilderhesten, a crooked bird beakbent over the bay, growing large in the girl’s saucerplate eyes.

You see, the monks knew of that beast roosting atop that mountain, the one who gave a golden milk that smelled of wisteria and wax. They had built a nursery, an oblong structure of stone and thatch under the winturpine boughs where those now-orphans would live. And feed. And sleep. 

And, when those children woke to the first snows of winter, the monks gathered in redwhite cluster about feather beds. In that nursery on Spilderhesten slopes, they proclaimed their success with smiling faces. How the fall had changed those children. 

Across the bay, in the Monkholmen, the villagers awaited the forepromised return of their young ones, counting days as the leaves fell, one by one. When the eider-ducks left their rookery northward for warmer nights and longer days, patience turned to pleading. That brewer fatally accosted a monk down on the wharf and was put to death. That fishmonger’s wife gathered that houndmaster and eider rook and together they marched up the Nidarholm to the dark stave church to ask after their children. The redwhite hosts welcomed them, sat them near the hearth and fed them full of duckmeat and blanched potatoes. “Your children,” they said, “are never coming home.”

That fishmonger’s wife and eider rook descended the Nidarholm that evening and the expectant Monkholmen villagers met their blank gaze. The houndmaster never made it back down from that Nidarholm. Nobody asked where he went. 

Yes, there was a mob. Under the blanket of first snow — just as the children were waking from their slumber — Monkholmen’s finest and most broken emptied their wineskins and regrets until both sat, pooling, in empty stomachs. Footsteps in fresh snow. Crossing tracks. All leading up that Nidarholm. A red, smiling face greeted those footsteps at Abbey doors. That smile broadened. Those footsteps pivoted. By next morning, all was hidden in a fresh fall of snow. 

The snow stayed throughout the winter, bending the winturpines neatly to their knees. Through the long, dark winternight, that frozen Spilderhesten mocked the Monkholmen under northern sky. When the daylight lingered only minutes, a child was born by candlelight to that eider rook. He was named Beccor, first born. 

As the land thawed, the sun rose a new color over the Monkholmen. The children were mentioned only in whisper. When that fishmonger’s widow drank too much and took her sorrow out into the evening streets she was reminded of that brewer, of that houndmaster. Soon, too, she quieted.

The morning those eider-ducks returned, a small vessel crossed the bay from that Spilderhesten. As vessel neared shore, the Monkholmen thronged to the dock. Only that eider rook was absent, gone away south at the first sign of his charge. The monks, too, descended from the Nidarholm that morning, one by one, speckling the hillside red and white among those winturpine trees.

That craft carried only one monk in tattered red robes faded pink over a white barely distinguish
able. He laughed through cracked teeth as the villagers pulled him apart. His blood soaked that dock in crimson vengeance. Those eyes on the hillside watched the proceedings through to their bloody end before turning and climbing back up that Nidarholm, one by one.

No further word was ever heard from that Spilderhesten across the water. And none ever go there. Only the shadow in the night. Dry wings. Black on black. A mother of three, warm but for the one they took, presses her face against that fogging pane. She gazes deep into the shadow that comes across the water in place of that unreturned child. She wishes it so hard she can almost see . . 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Among the Shrines of Empires Past


The old shrines are cracked under millennia of creeping moss, the worn flags have long since blown free from their poles. Opulence in decay becomes home to the proletariat risen.

Before the Hvalbarons and their hulking iron and craws, before the Neonate Cradle scattered its spores across the isles, before the Ascendants crawled from the blessed muck, before the coast itself shattered in that ancient cataclysm, there was the Pthracean Empire. 

Of what it was, little is known. Those that remember aren’t much help. The Val Knights and their cursed oaths are bound by the shackles of their betrayal and hold no sympathy for the curious, the odd Junk can still be dredged from the sea floor, encased in lead. And then there are the Kr’s. 

----
The Kr’s are an interpretation of Zedeck Siew & Mun Kao’s Mr Kr Gr zine, planned for insertion into the holarctic frontier, shattered isle setting I am about to throw at some unsuspecting players. Support their Thousand Thousand Islands project, if you haven’t already.
----

According to the Hvalbaronage 
‘We were three days from the Crowns, passing the Mistkylne in a fog when we saw the crenellated peaks of that ruined temple. The rotting stone complex was half-submerged and there were eyes in the water. Damned Crox wouldn’t even let us get our anchor down before they chewed Jorbah’s arm clean off, even pulled off bits of the shoulder - fuckers. Stay away, they don’t seem to mind if you’re somewhere else.’

The first omen is the eyes in the water, unblinking. In any semblance of foul weather they surprise on a 3 in 6. Attacking from below, the bite of a Kr’s can snap a stout dugout in two. Once blood is spilled, the hordes come in to feed.

1d6
Encounters with the Kr’s
1
A lone Kr’s bathing in an eddy of perfect ph water, wanting to be left alone. Throws 2d6 to reaction roll.
2
1d4 Kr’s who have been scouting the players’ movements for 1d4 days now, coveting that which they carry. Throws 2d6 to reaction roll.
3
1d6 Kr’s hunting a bed of molting eels, luckless so far. Throws 1d4 and 1d6 to reaction roll.
4
1d8 Kr’s searching for a nearby relic of their former kingdom (see Kr’s Trinket below). Throws 2d6 to reaction roll.
5
2d4 Kr’s planning an ambush on a Landsharpuniere retinue who have decided to camp in their shrine. Throws 2d4 to reaction roll.
6
3d6 Kr’s, refugees searching for a new home. Their shrine was flooded out in the spring rains. Throws 1d6 and 1d8 to reaction roll.

Kr’s (L, 8’)
Thac0: 18 AC: 9 HD: 2+2 Att: 1 Dam: 1d4+1 tail whip or 2d6 bite
- surprise on a 3 in 6

Sounds: Cognitive dissonance - no sound from the Kr’s but all sounds in its presence are heavier. 
Smells: Metallic tarnish of dried blood. 

According to the Cattering Mouldenpriests
‘Savage Crox, not up to much good them - I’ll tell you one thing: they come from that Old Empire. Same one the Crowns is built right on top of. Betcha there are tunnels. Betcha they know things. Can’t ask them anyways, they’re too quick to bite. Not much use to anyone, I’m afraid . . . Sure, we tried building churches but nothing stays up long in that quagmire. Seeker Törgrem thought they could be taught, could be civilized. They’re too attached to those shay-mens they have. Bloody fuckers. Last letter we received from him - two months ago - said there were pale eyes in the night that would wash in with the tide . . .’

Kr’s can understand basic human communication, often over-gesticulation is required to get your point across. They are quick to attack when hungry, excessive quantities of food aid with diplomacy. 

Kr’s seem to congregate around certain individuals in some sort of daily ritual. It’s the only semblance of non-animal behavior yet seen from any of them.

1d6
Kr’s Shamans
1
Ftigiq, yellow skinned and speckled, dresses in a crown of heron feathers. Is possessed by the spirits of Pthracean Queens. Sleeps on a low-hanging spruce bough, tail drooping into the water.
2
Giggek, rotund, perfumed and pea green. Reads fortunes by dropping water through sieves. Resides in an alkaline hot spring that slows time.
3
Yillic, azure, aged and greying. A colony of psychophagic fungus grow on their back and aid in spiritual journeys. Nests in a pool of red algae, warm and parasitic.
4
Hiiiq, small and white, black eyes. Brews decoctions to purge evil spirits and maladies. Occupies an empty blackwood beaver dam under suspicious circumstances.
5
Xtlitx, nightblack and blind. Sends young Kr’s to gather medicinal plants and is an expert teacher. Nests in a cracked bathhouse amongst the ruined shrine, where water has re-established a murky, stagnant presence. 
6
Dridl, vermillon and quadriplegic, borne upon the back of a large, white Kr’s. Has seizure visions of other ruined Pthracean shrines. Imprisoned in an untarnished mirror rescued from a mad wizard by the constituent Kr’s. 

Kr’s (L, 10’)
Thac0: 17 AC: 8 HD: 3+3 Att: 1 Dam: 1d4+1 tail whip or 2d6 bite
- surprise on a 3 in 6
- cannot be surprised

Sounds: The prolonged snapping of dry wood, a sluice of thick water.
Smells: Algae - green, dead, full of life.

According to the jaundice-clad Landsharpuniere
‘The Kr’s is a magnificent creature. Jaws wide enough to swallow Rictus whole (pointing), tail knocked Laila a clean twenty feet. And their hide cannot be pierced just anywhere - you got to stick it in the underbelly. Lure it onto its hind legs and then go for the kill. It made these awful sounds as it died, I . . . I think it was trying to communicate, I think it . . . spoke? Can’t tell for sure - what I can tell is that it’s hide is worth a damn penny on the market, those eyes too.’

The gargantuan beast is clad in an impenetrable carapace hide across its back and tail. Once per turn, it can grapple a target with its mouth and begin to swallow, the process taking 1d4 rounds. The target is granted a save each round to free itself but the teeth rake 1d6 on the way out. 

Kr’s Trophy
That’s Odd
Intact
Damaged
Head
The jaws can be hacked into serrated knives that deal 2d4 (one on entrance, the other on exit)
500sp
250sp
Eyes
If removed properly, they retain their reflective film and make excellent lantern amplifiers, mediocre light sources or shitty mirrors. 
100sp each
20sp each
Hide
Anyone wearing an outfit made of Kr’s hide gets a +1 save against curses. AC as Chainmail.
1,500sp
750sp
Tail
Attaching a hilt, sharpening the hide’s ridges, a Kr’s tail can be fashioned into an absurdly large broadsword (more a pole arm really), dealing 1d12 and requiring 16 Str to wield two-handed.
300sp
200sp


Kr’s (L, 20’)
Thac0: 16 AC: 2 (Belly AC: 7) HD: 4+4 Dam: 2d4+1 tail whip, 2d6 bite and swallow 
- surprise on a 3 in 6
- cannot be surprised
- swallow grappled target in 1d4 rounds

Sounds: The metallic artifacting induced by slowing down a recording of someone talking - or a bad video call.
Smells: Pungent flora, a riverbank after twenty days of rain.

According to the swamp denizens of the Fenburg
‘Ol’ Kr’s, aye, knowem well. Mothers used to trade withem, you’d never guess what they keep beneath those waters inem ruined shrines. I’s always thoughtem too uppity to be trading, thems got the idea somewheres that they’re the rightful rulers of this place, ‘Thrassea’ they call it. O’ course they can talk, how else be we tradin’ with the lubbers (yuk yuk). Takes some time to get the hang uvvit but sure as snow those bastards can talk.’

Kr’s are cursed with an imperfect forgetfulness and behind reptile eyes they begin to remember. The trinkets they accumulate from the ruined shrines bring back images of vaulted temples and stone cities, banners flapping in the spring breeze. 

Landpolitiks has changed much over the years since the Pthracean Empire fell. Yet that has kept from the Kr’s an inflated sort of pride - in a sense, these absent shores are theirs to command, passed to them in the wake of a empiric cataclysm (in a sense, if the claims of the Pthracean Empire are to be granted credence).

Kr’s love to swallow those who they feel have wronged them. Judge, Jury, Executioner style. Digestive Justice. If they speak, their voices sound like two stones grinding in slow circles. 

If encountered in a Pthracean Ruin, the Kr’s leader will possess some trinket that reminds the Kr’s of their past. Though the Kr’s may trade in common goods, they will never trade this.

1d6
Kr’s Trinket
1
A cracked crown of bone that will bond with the skull of its rightful wearer. An inscription in Pthracean Runes describes the borders of the kingdom.
2
A balanced stone dagger carved in the likeness of an accusatory human finger. +2 to hit those who are guilty of a crime they have not paid for.
3
Three glass rings molded for three princesses who brought three warring duchies into a prosperous peace. Can cast Sanctuary at will. 1d8 charges, with the final charge of any ring shattering all three rings and causing anyone effected by any casting of the Sanctuary to become trigger happy for the next three days. Whoever molded these rings obviously did not want the peace to last.
4
A tall, swooping hat of polished oyster shell. Very impressive. +1 charisma modifier. Too impressive. Plots to kill the wearer and steal the hat thicken.
5
A polished steel orb affixed to the end of a silver handle like some smooth morningstar. When a storm is nearby, that receiving orb crackles something fierce and deals an extra 1d4* static damage. 
6
A necklace of finger bones belonging to 1: Edda, the first Svinfylking 2: Thormir, the first Gravriddr 3: Wassily, the first Myggknight 4: Iona, the first Ulfhethnar, 5: Rhodan, the first Bjornkrigr 6: Orion of the hunters**. This phylactery contains the Geas that curses the knight and their kin.
*d4 explodes: If a 4 is rolled, roll 1d4 more damage. Keep doing this until you stop rolling 4s or every molecule of the target is eviscerated.
**Each are founders of an order of Val knights, eternally cursed to lead their people on a quest that has no end.

Kr’s (L, 12’)

Thac0: 15 AC: 6 HD: 5+5 Dam: 2d4+1 tail whip, 2d6 bite and swallow
- surprise on a 3 in 6
- cannot be surprised
- swallow grappled target in 1d4 rounds
- can cast Suggestion 1/day if within a Pthracean Ruin. 

Sounds: A tap turned on too quickly, too full, too loud.
Smells: A saline smell, soon masked by green death.

According to the Cursed Knights of the Val
‘Nothing good can be said of the Kr’s.’

The Kr’s are blessed with the forgetfulness of time. They know not the true extent of their tragic past and for this the ever-remembering Val knights despise them. The Kr’s guard the ancient shrines of their former Empire yet they have invented themselves anew. 

A fraction of Kr’s memory returning, a forgetting dream of oncepower, is a dangerous thing indeed. Anytime a Kr’s rolls a prime number, they remember one of the following spells and can cast it 1/rd:
1. Anti-Magic Shell
2. Control Weather
3. Forget
4. Invisibility
5. Phantasmal Force
6. Sleep

1d6
Memories of the Kr’s 
1
Driftwood ships with wide decks, where spoils of conquest and war would be heaped in piles and triumphantly paraded home - - now, sadly, encased in lead and sunk to the bottom of the sea.
2
A great, yellow bell that would announce the arrival of the sun - - when it finally cracked, the sun refused to rise.
3
A secluded temple where the souls of those departed would congregate and gossip - - now, the mystical airwaves are silent, the ancestors stay away.
4
A black scar across the sky, bleeding storms, bringing wanton death - - the end of all, final and merciful.
5
A king, bent and wicked, pinned to his damned throne by six golden blades - - what he deserved, perhaps, but the traitors would pay.
6
A shattering of the land, the slow drift of the sea - - the promise of new shores.

Kr’s (L, 14’)
Thac0: 14 AC: 5 HD: 6+6 Dam: 2d4+1 tail whip, 2d6 bite and swallow
- surprise on a 3 in 6
- cannot be surprised
- swallow grappled target in 1d4 rounds
- can cast Suggestion 1/day if within a Pthracean Ruin 
- gains a random spell if Kr’s rolls a prime number

Sounds: Bog-silence. 
Smells: Opulence and decay, united in algaeic pungency.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Auric Impressions


. . . breathe deep . . .

Spirits of those who have passed saturate the land like the first spring rain. A certain watering hole, a stretch of blacksand shoreline. Spirits linger.

Along the coast, whatever barrier exists between this spiritual world and our own wears thin. Spirits linger and tell of times long past, of times yet to come. They give advice, dire warning . . . they pose trials and offer comfort. The guidance of a spirit is a treasure greater than any gold. 

Places are thus imbued with certain power and reverence that pass generation to generation. Hidden, shrouded from unwanted eyes, these sacred places are known to few - yet when you stumble unwittingly out of the treeline and behold the moss-speckled granite plinth there can be no mistaking it . . . the spirit reaches down towards you to wipe away the tears.

1. On Spirits

Sprits were all once living places, creatures or people held up within their community. Or else they were figures of prehistory . . . a legend whispered to wide-eyed children of an ancestral navigator that led their people from absent shores, tales spun of a place where the buried dead grew roots to hold the land together. 

Each spirit has its nature - that impression of who or what they once were and once meant to somebody. To determine the nature of a spirit, roll 1d6 across and 3d6 down:

3d6
1. Warrior
2. Prophet
3. Leader
4. Animal
5. Place
6. Child
3
who liberated the oppressed
who was martyred by the oppressor
who displayed supernatural resilience
who hid this place from outsiders
that offered protection
gifted with otherworldly power 
4
5
who died at the hands of oppressors
for lovers
6
who told of the outsiders’ coming
7
who was a notorious trickster
where the saviorchild was born
who died, beloved by all
8
who died protecting what they loved
who negotiated peace with outsiders
9
for whom this was gesthemane
where the stars align
10
11
of legend who inspired many
who let their people out of a great famine
where a battle was fought
12
who brings tranquility
who was a savant wonder
13
who settled great disputes
for one to mourn
14
who led their people across the waves
15
who showed the way
came to house the dead
16
who saw the future in others’ eyes
who began a revered ancestral family
17
18

No spirit is bound by any eternal promise or oath - eternity is for the living to worry about, not for the dead to suffer. 

Spirits do have, however, certain vows from which they gather their spiritual power. These vows have as much to do with what the spirit has become as they have to do what they once were. The rumored presence of a nearby spirit is almost always followed by a hushed mention of their vows. 



3d6
The spirit . . .
And will never . . .
18
alters reality while they dream
confess the true extent of their power
16-17
knows truth from lie
tell a lie to friends or tell a truth to enemies
13-15
is known for their bravery
stand an affront to their ancestry
9-12
holds a great power
gift power to one who does not pass their trials
6-8
protects evidence to a dark secret
tell specifics of their past
4-5
brings down wrath on their enemies
let an enemy pass unhindered
3
waits for some prophesied event
reveal why they linger where they do

Rumors seep like grease through the cracks. The keen ears of a land-scouring profiteer are quick to pick up any mention of a spirit. It is a common lie that spirits know where the bodies are buried, where the treasuresoaked tombs lie hidden, where the golden cities are shrouded in cold mist. One way or another, word of a spirit’s grove has reached your ears. Judging by the peg-legged sailor whose grubby lips wove the yarn, it couldn’t be more than a day’s journey east. 

When the sun finally mounts the horizon over shimmering glassy sea, you are well on your way.

2. Initial Encounter

The first question any spirit will ask is why you’ve come.

Whispers upon the breath of nature fall lightly on those ears that know how to listen. Yet many pass through sacred space entirely oblivious to the being in their midst. Perhaps it is for the best. For those that come with open heart, mind and ears, their WIS modifier determines passive awareness to spirits . . .

 WIS mod.
Passive awareness to spirits
-3, -2 or -1
Can only sense spirits with a successful wisdom check, which they must instigate.
0 
Can sense the presence of a spirit nearby.
+1
Can get an Auric Impression, can hear nearby spirits.
+2
Can get an Auric Impression, can converse with nearby spirits.
+3
Spirits reveal themselves in their True Form, the place shimmers with its spiritual likeness.

- Ex. Onas’ chosen path passes through a sacred place, their WIS modifier a +2. As they enter the grove, a human-shaped shade of falling ash exuding an auric golden shimmer is revealed as it raises its head to speak.

----
Fog hugs the ground in the ravine ahead; a form is revealed:
1d20
Auric Impression
True Form
1
a faint reflection on absent air.
a 5’, translucent disembodied head with mirror eyes
2
a golden glimmer, a sarcophagus impression
a shade of falling ash, opaque white eyes
3
oscillating static of worlds collapsing
a milky fluid filling the container of the spirit
4
a person right behind you, waiting for you to turn around
an exposed nervous system following twin eyes
5
a warp in the air like the spherical pull of some unseen gravity
classic milquetoast ghostie ghostie
6
the pressure of the air increases, limbs drop like lead weights
a shimmering form of rotating air, backs reflecting like glass beads 
7
a contagious weeping. First you hear it, then a tear drops from your eye.
a gentle fall of fat, golden raindrops. A disembodied voice
8
a form, standing impossibly thin in the blind spot of your left eye
the spitting image of your first regret
9
a Brockengespenst extending from your feet with no apparent light source
a host of twelve figures, each displaying one emotion, trading punchlines accordingly
10
a heat-wavering refraction of the spirit’s true appearance
shifting fireflies like a school of fish, forming the body of the spirit
11
palinopsia: tracers following the spirit’s movement
a floating tube of clear energy, like water running through air
12
dark purpleyellow afterimages that cannot be blinked away
a silhouette, whatever is behind it appears in negative
13
your ears pop, everyone around you’s ears pop, another set of ears pop. 
a strobing form 
14
one by one, your senses invert. First you hear the blood pumping through your ears, then smell the air in your lungs, feel the flesh in your fingertips, taste your tongue, see your . . .
the spirit appears as an apparition on the horizon, floating amongst the clouds and clearly visible
15
your perspective shifts two feet to the left. 
the spirit animates a nearby feature of the landscape
16
the ground beneath your feet shifts into a palimpsest for your steps. 
the ground beneath explodes, chunks of rock and dirt and sod hang suspended in the sprit’s form
17
The next step lasts four hours.
an amoebic form of liquid starlight
18
saccatic suppression is impaired, a startling lack of motion blur
an inkblack form shrouded in billowing smoke
19
body hairs raise and flatten, raise and flatten. It is a repeated pattern, in code.
a form pressed against a sheer white gauze, flapping in an unseen, unfelt wind
20
your movements smear the air like brushing recent pastel
a shadow puppet projected from some unseen source onto the nearby landscape

----

For those who would seek the counsel of a spirit, prior knowledge of the spirit is almost always required. This pre-requisite narrows the demographic to a select few - relations of the spirit, those informed by such relations, aso. And they each seek the spirit for their own reasons; to ask a question, to send a message to a one who has passed, to seek empowerment or advice. The journey may be perilous, but the audience of a spirit has cured the world of many ills. 

Spirits actively sought can be encountered on their sacred grounds. The spirit, however, is under no obligation to reveal themselves to a seeker and may avoid contact if injured, in pain or otherwise occupied. Silence in a sacred place is a terrifying prospect. Anyone casting Speak With Dead or any spell to that effect will bring about an audience with the spirit.

During the first encounter, the reaction of the spirit depends partially on the players’ approach:
Players are openly hostile towards the spirit
players throw no dice
Players bear bad thoughts towards the spirit
players throw 1d4
Players come with an open mind
players throw 1d8
Players come with respect and humility
players throw 1d10
--any totems or objects of value to the spirit, as well as any ancestral ties to the spirit bumps the die type up by one (1d4 to 1d6 aso.)

Spirits always throw 2d6 to the reaction roll. The reaction is rolled with the three thrown dice at the chart below:
2d6+X
Reaction of the spirit
15-18
Invested in the players’ goodwill.
12-14
Willing to hear the players out.
9-11
Reluctant to engage players yet curious.
6-8
Warning the players to leave before taking hostile action.
1-5
Open hostility towards the players, often to the players’ surprise. 

Any encounter with the spirit beyond the first requires no reaction roll.

3. Seeking Guidance

Oracular prophecy, divine healing, protection, information, companionship - a spirit’s guidance comes in many forms and depends greatly on their nature. Yet no spirits will ever willingly aid any person or cause that brings them, their sacred place or their relations to harm - this is of the utmost importance. Spirits may be vengeful but they well know the power they can aid should not be given freely.

Should a spirit’s guidance be sought, the reaction roll determines the offer of guidance from the spirit. Should, over the course of interaction, there be enough evidence contrary to first impression to change a spirit’s demeanor towards those seeking guidance, adjust the offer of guidance up or down by one result (never more than one)

Reaction
Spiritual Guidance
15-18
Spiritual Companionship with chance of Possession (3.1)
12-14
Spiritual Protection (3.2)
9-11
Spiritual Healing (3.3)
6-8
Pertinent Information (3.4)
1-5
Opaque Prophecy (3.5)
The result rolled on the table is the most the spirit is willing to offer - thus a spirit willing to offer protection (12-14) is also willing to offer healing, information and prophecies.

3.1 On Spiritual Companionship 

Spirits cannot be separated from the places which they call home. To do so would destroy both spirit and place in a gout of ink-black flame, scarring the land and causing every nearby item remotely divine in nature (including the heads of clerics) to combust. Spirits can, however, bind aspects of themselves to another living form on adventures beyond the sacred place. Thus, a spirit can be in two places at once. 

Spirits willing to travel with(in) a host must have some investment in the host’s success and will often offer their companionship if the host accomplishes something in their interest - lay the bones of abused captives to rest, raze a proteinfarm near the spirit’s sacred place, rescue the child of one who often visits the spirit aso. Spiritual companions decide how visible they are to anyone except the host, who can always get an Auric Impression. 

Spiritual aspects, while traveling with a companion, can grant Spiritual Protection (3.2), Spiritual Healing (3.3) and give Pertinent Information (3.5). They will not fight alongside the host, but they will take any chance to spout Opaque Prophecy (3.5).

3.2 On Spiritual Protection

Spirits can choose to impart some of their power onto a host in such a way that protects them. Before doing so, the spirit will give an ultimatum of when their protection will wane. This can be the fulfillment of a request, an astrological alignment, anything that seems sufficiently ambiguous yet plausible to the host. 

While a host is protected by a spirit, they receive two of the following benefits:
2d6
Spiritual Protection
1
+1 to hit
2
+1 retainer morale
3
+1 initiative
4
+2 AC
5
+1 to all saving throws 
6
only surprised on a 1 in 6

The protection of a spirit lasts until the host commits an act anathema to the nature of the spirit or the ultimatum is reached. At such times, the host may roll 1d6 each round/turn, a 1-2 indicating that the spirit’s protection remains, while a 3-6 indicating that the power flickers and fades.

In the heat of conflict, a spirit’s protection takes 1 round to manifest and acts as the Bless spell. For these purposes, spirit’s caster lvl = HD.

3.3 On Spiritual Healing

Any spirit can heal a target’s wounds to the effect of a Cure Serious Wounds spell (2d8+1) once per day. The ritual healing takes 3 rounds with a recovery time equal to the remainder of hit points gained (thus Onas, healed for 12 (2d8+1) hit points spends 3 rounds under the spiritual knife and 9 rounds in semi-conscious recovery). 

Spirits leave their mark. If you have been healed by a spirit, other spirits and anyone with a +3 WIS modifier will know it . . . forever. 

Those healed by spirits must succeed at a wisdom check or . . . 
1d20
Spiritual Touch
1
the skin around the wound constantly swirls and breathes. low noticeability.
2
the area around the wound sheds dead skin, the underside of which is gold leaf. low noticeability.
3
the wound acts as a lightning rod. If struck by lightning (1 in 10 chance if in the open during a storm) take 1/2 damage and roll once on the Spiritual Protection table. This lasts 2d4 hours. low visibility.
4
anytime the wounded area is touched, your eyes flash gold. low noticeability.
5
long, thin hairs grow from the wounded area. If woven into any sort of fabric, it grants +1 AC. low visibility.
6
the skin around the wound gets a heavy rash anytime a storm is approaching. low visibility.
7
the wound heals over using genetic code that is not yours. It is the spirit’s. Depending on the nature of the spirit, this may look no different. low visibility/high visibility
8
the wound never quite heals, a small, dark hole that will never close. You find that you can breathe though it. If any substance is smoked through the hole, it will have triple the standard effect. low visibility.
9
the shadow you cast has a gap where the wound was that leaks light. low visibility.
10
scar tissue grows in and crystalizes like quartz. if chipped away, it will pass for a precious gem to unskilled appraisers. high noticeability.
11
a searching eye grows in slowly where the wound once was - the spirit sees through it. high visibility.
12
the wound grows into a cyst from which can be drained a fluid the color of the d20 you rolled. Consume the liquid and you can see what the spirit sees for 1d4 minutes. roll an Opaque Prophecy. high visibility.
13
you wake the next morning. a tattoo of words in a language you do not know have inked themselves around the wound. Every morning for the next 1d4 days, you find more words inked on your flesh. If translated, they are cries of help from a sentient consciousness trapped inside a deathprison of flesh. high visibility.
14
through the accumulating scar tissue, you can see whatever is behind the person. high visibility.
15
you find that a word forms in the scar tissue around the wound. You must make a Wisdom check to speak this word or any word that communicates a similar meaning. high visibility.
16
the wound secretes a yellow ichor that will turn black if it contacts someone who is lying. high visibility.
17
the wounded area becomes a knot of muscle. It’s a painful extraction but there is a golden egg at its center that will hatch soon after extraction. high visibility.
18
the wounded area rots away and an ochre, gelatinous substance takes its place. Any damage to this part of the body (body part must be randomly rolled) takes 1/2 damage. high visibility.
19
the next day a black liquid oozes from the wound just under the skin. Tracing your hand along the inky stain, you realize you can use it to draw, or write - it fades back to the old stain overnight. Anything drawn/written with this ooze can be seen by the spirit, who can communicate in kind. Slashing the skin to extract the strange ink will reveal only a clear, sappy liquid with a lemon smell. high visibility.
20
The skin stretches and grows tight around the frame of your bones. First around the healed wound and then spreading across your body. Every Monday, you must molt. high noticeability.

Any attempt to alter the spiritually touched area will re-open the wound (take damage) and make any future encounters with the spirit super awkward. Probably best to just assume that the spirit has thought all this out and everything’s going according to plan.

3.4 On Pertinent Information

Spirits, if they so choose, can tell of anything that has transpired within their domain. They have perfect memory. 

They will not, however, speak of the movements of the Ancients or any of their relations. Neither are they omniscient. They may know some horrible deadseafish beastie staggered through their rocky crevice two months ago to the day but unless they have a reason to know that it’s called a Sammerslåing, it’s a deadseafish beastie.

If the party asks “whas been happening” or some shit, roll 1d20 or make it up.

1d20
“whas been happening”
1
“Here, take this rusted spoon. There is a spirit that stalks the ruined castle above the Clagmere that’s been looking for it.”
2
“Tonight the Aurochs leads the charge across the sky. Under such a sign, you cannot be led astray.”
3
“Rigghanshabula Pennybosom was here not three moons ago, asking the same questions you are now. Do you know them?”
4
“That Lectorum in Rottingkröner - you know it well, I can see - well, it’s built right on top the largest city of those you call the Ancients.”
5
“Seek the Dvargr, my children. I have seen their eager glances. Soon we will all be buried beneath the earth just like them.”
6
“Yellow coated fools. They hunt a Stranding Troll. I sent them west. You might be able to find something left of them, some corpses to pick clean.”
7
“Kerlaugar river freezes slower than most. Three more days until it is impassible.”
8
“Fir boughs droop almost to the ground under the weight of all this snow. I have heard the whispers. Fimbulvetr, they call it. The end of times.”
9
“The crows of the Bröcken are cursed. They speak only lies except to their masters and keepers. And you don’t want your truths being told to them.”
10
“Beyond the Reef, the sea is bottomless. The whalers say it drops all the way to Hel. What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.”
11
“This stone reminds me of the first summer ever to grace these isles. Ah, I remember now. Two cormorants brought the summer on their wing. Where have they got to now?”
12
The Forest Queen and her wolves visit this place often, they ask me for guidance. Soon they will learn of my treachery - you’re best off far away when that happens.”
13
“I found a small girl the other day, all alone, staggering as if drunk towards the coast. She is safe now, but I fear that the call of the sea is getting stronger.”
14
“An Ötun passed not two dozen paces North of here just yesterday. Something must be drawing them from their frozen capitol, though I know not what.”
15
“Disease and rot in that Fenburg near the Bröckenwood. The new Ælderman has sought my council and I will help the best I can but I fear the task is beyond me.”
16
“Hrmmm. Volcanos . . . they’re getting restless hmm. Best not stray too close hrmm.”
17
“Those Ælfs pour in from the north. They show no mercy. Those who have seen them say they are searching for something . . . or someone.”
18
“I have seen the filth that Hel vomits up, I have seen the Carving Arks and the Broodmothers. Avoid the frozen rivers.”
19
“There is a wizard who comes to me the first night of each month with a proposition. Each time, I turn them away yet each time, they return.”
20
“Do not head west from here. The dragon that makes its home in the eyrie has been growing restless.”

3.5 On Opaque Prophecy

A spirit speaks the language of prophecy. The future cannot be known but it can be prophesied as long as there is room for interpretation. Birnam wood moved for Macbeth but only because the doomed king believed it could never happen. The portentous words of a spirit do not tell you your future - they tell the interpretive probability of your future (which, it just so happens, is the axle around which the wheel of dungeons & dragons turns). If questioned about the future, the spirit will communicate the only way it knows how. 

1d20
Opaque Prophecy
1
In a tight spot, under the full moon, the way will be revealed.
2
That which you hide from those close to you will be your downfall.
3
Trust not the dead bird.
4
The person who betrays you will never tell you their true name.
5
Your greatest triumph will be the beginning of your troubles.
6
The sickness you will catch cannot be treated by any doctor.
7
There is one out there who passes themselves off as you.
8
The coughing rat emerges before death.
9
When the coin winks back at you, run.
10
Fear the sister.
11
You will die twice.
12
Do not trust the man who smiles too wide.
13
False machinations lead to ground meat and split bones. 
14
Take care in the next lie you tell. (It will come true)
15
Purple eyes see through your disguise.
16
Under a cascade of fullmoonlight, you will become what your mother prayed for.
17
Your blood is not your own.
18
Your child will find you, alone and bleeding.
19
The river will run its course.
20
They have found you.

-----
A Note on Prophecy: Mechanically, the prophecy of a spirit does not have to mean anything. Simply reading a result on this chart puts it in the DM and players’ heads, which is enough. DMs: you do not have to angle play towards fulfilling the prophecy, just roll some dice and smile every once in a while. Players: try and avoid prophecy if you can, but the dice will fall how they will. 
-----

4. Sacred Places

Every spirit has its place, a grove or strand where the power of the spirit is imbued and reflected in the landscape. Such places are rife with Auric Impressions and will be readily known by locals and guides, though they may not believe the rumors. In such sacred places, spirit cannot be separated from land, nor land from spirit. And thus, entering the the sacred home of a spirit is no different from entering the spirit itself.

Where exactly a spirit makes its home usually stems from a place of importance to the nature of the spirit, to who they once were or once meant to somebody. If such a place is not immediately apparent, roll 1d6 across and 3d6 down the table below:


3d6
1. Forest
2. Mountainous
3. Coastal
4. Lowlands
5. Cave
6. Pelagic
3
under a rocky hillside, in front of a moss-spackled granite plinth
a crevice in a cliff face leads to a stone courtyard
a small cove, sheltered by twin cliffs that leave little opening for trespassers
a low,  fog choked ravine where clusters of strange flora flourish.
a crevice in the seaward side of a fjord, accessed by an exposed switchback trail
A basalt shelf just underneath the water’s surface. Dangerous for ships, safe to walk.
4
5
6
a lower summit, offering sweeping views and blustering winds
a natural stone arch, megaliths forming a natural crown on the outcrop
A circle of menhirs, chiseled holes framing the setting sun at each eqinox and solstice.
7
8
a massive, gnarled root leads you up to a hollow in the trunk of some goliath tree
a cave of blue ice, ankle deep in water and filled with hollow sound.
9
a protruding tongue of stone over a precipitous drop
a coral atoll, effervescent in the saltwater sea like a dissolving alkaseltzer.
10
A swath of blacksand shoreline, a ridge of clam-choked stones out at the tideline
11
A sheltered clearing. A dense grove of mosshung pines forming the perimeter. Dappled sunlight filtering in through the canopy above
a film of water coats the low ground, perfectly reflecting the sky.
12
a twisting stair up the sheer face of a cliff leading to a safe, if exposed, landing
A rocky shelter in an otherwise sheer mountain ascent. Probably the only safe place here
13
A serene stretch of sea, ringed by underwater pillars that pierce the waves.
14
a collection of tidepools, curling tongues of steam
15
in the shadow of a rock balanced impossibly atop a pinnacle
16
a swimming hole, framed by bubbling waterfalls and luminescent blue lichens
A barnacle-choked sea cave, the water full of bioluminescent life
17
Within the floating ribs of a petrified whale
18


and if the place isn’t special enough:

1d20
Sacred Details
1
a faint mist falls in the spirit’s presence, forming itself into images should the spirit tells any stories.
2
a human child is present, lost yet unafraid. The spirit will soon return it home.
3
the spirit perches in one of the Isgrøft, the frozen branches of the Tree of Life, protruding from the ground
4
shadows depart their owners and join the spirit in elaborate theatrics.
5
any silver planted underground in the spirit’s presence is transmuted into gold, as demonstrated by the half-silver, half-golden sword thrust into the earth.
6
if the spirit is an animal, they have a human companion. If the spirit is human, they have an animal companion.
7
tongues of mist curl upward from the ground, gravitating towards living creatures.
8
the air twinkles with golden motes of light that cling to anything they land on.
9
anything falling towards the ground gently slows and curls back upwards, falling skyward until it hovers just out of reach of the tallest visitor. When the place is visited for the first time, 1d12 random objects will be thus suspended. 
10
birds clutter the perimeter and watch, utterly silent.
11
the grounds are choked with thin spider webs, where moonlight collects like dew and dries, hissing in the morning sun.
12
a collection of smooth coastal stones has made its way here, in the beaks or paws of some small creature over months of dedication.
13
from this place, the stars are always visible, night or day.
14
this place is a resting point for a myriad of migrations, currently 1: foaming butterflies 2: vermillion squirrels 3: flightless storks 4: Sveppnir’s webcaps 5: arachnid gestalt 6: rabbitworms.
15
dry branches of twisting red wood sprout from the ground, berries fruiting along their low boughs. Consuming the berries here reveals the spirit’s true form, anywhere else they are poisonous.
16
your feet sink into the soft earth up to your knees. Should the spirit begin to trust you, the ground underfoot grows gradually firmer.
17
The spirit’s home is much larger from the inside. Any suitably large landscape feature – rock pillars, mother oaks, cascading falls, watering holes - for the terrain of the sacred place can be found here, disguised from outside eyes.
18
If examined closely, the landscape here subtly holds a perfect geometry. Spirals in the leaves, right angled stones, polyhedral trunks, flat ground – the place is uncanny.
19
Dew collects in hearty, gourd-like plants low to the ground. If consumed in any way here, it cancels out any doom* you may have. Anywhere else it’s just water. 
20
a thick fog, no way out -the far off clang of a church bell the creak of wood your heart drops in your chest the smell of seawater a burning in back of your nose a terrible taste you open your eyes – and find that you are underwater. A shadow dappled cave that resembles the topography of the place you knew above. You have no trouble breathing, no trouble speaking. The spirit appears before you.

Should the audience with the spirit end, a hideous vacuum sound white vision a rushing upwards the smell of ascension and you clamber out of the fog on the other side of the spirit’s home. 
*works like disadvantage in 5e. There is no advantage. Thanks Logan.

Should the home of a spirit come under threat, they will fight to the death to protect it. A spirit fighting for their home is a terrifying thing to behold. And if they are cast out, everything remotely divine (including the heads of clerics) within the spiritual place combusts in a gout of inky black flame. 

The spirit becomes an undead revenant: no longer tied to their home, they begin to wander the land as your favorite form of incorporeal undead (ghost, banshee, spectre, aso.). You can tell a displaced spirit by the golden nails protruding from their chest, one for each who betrayed them. 

Yet deep within their hollowed heart, a seed of their nature remains . . .

.more to come.