Saturday, April 14, 2012

Horrifying the players with giant Cthuloid monstrosities

Try and include a moment like this in your next session:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lands of Lyrion - Random Homeland Determination Table

Use this table to determine where in the Three Seas your character is from (d%):

Homeland (d%)
01 - South Continent*
02-03 - Forest of D'Norr
04-05 - Mountains of Yx
06-07 - Forest of Ux Kang
07-09 - Bitter Coast
10-12 - Yng Wastes
13-14 - Mountains of Dor Haaz
15-16 - Hills of Nok
17-21 - Satrapan Desert
22-23 - Hills of Kemprioar
24-25 - Mountains of Yeshimal
26-75 - City State (roll on Subtable A)
76-77 - Wodruul Swamp
78-79 - Jungles of Ziss
80-81 - Steppes of Hool
82-83 - Forest of Mekro
84-85 - Mountains of Kringor
86-87 - Hills of Hood
88-92 - Isle of Eramor
93-94 - Forest of Ba'Rekh
95-96 - Mountains of Droon
97-99 - Sea Folk (roll on Subtable B)
00 - North Continent*

Subtable A: City State (d%)**
01-20 - Lyrion
21-40 - Neethra
41-60 - Mythrior
61-75 - Hasturl
76-85 - Pazzix
86-95 - Ontandis
96-00 - Yng Yoon

Subtable B: Sea Folk(d%)***
01-10 - Bay of Yar
11-34 - Sea of Pelkior
35-66 - Sea of Deloord
67-88 - Eeshi Straits
89-95 - Ocean of Wull
96-00 - Extrica River

*Characters from the Southern or Northern Continents are typically only in the Three Seas because they are fleeing or hiding from an unpleasant past of some sort, or are some sort of merchant.

**Being from a particular City State does not always mean the character is from the City itself; 60% are from the City State, 20% are from the farmlands under the City State's control, and the remaining 20% are from the City State's tributary towns, villages, and hamlets.

***The Sea Folk of the Three Seas are largely nomadic, and will typically range throughout the region following their trade or fishing routes. However, they still usually take pride in declaring a particular body of water as their "home" range.

It should be noted that fully half of the population of the Three Seas lives within (or within the protection of) one of the seven great City States. This is no exaggeration; the wild regions of the Three Seas are a harsh place to live. High birth mortality and low life expectancies are due to numerous factors including weather, predators, lack of food or potable water, and frequent raiding and wars.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gods of Lyrion - Belara

Last of the five primary gods of the Three Seas region, Belara is the goddess of the Sea and Storms. In such a marine-based region, it is no surprise she is an overwhelmingly important deity in the everyday lives of the people of the Three Seas. Also known as the "Lady of Storms", she is alternately depicted as a ravening, silver octopus, or as a six-armed, voluptuous woman with a fierce visage gripping scimitars or lightning bolts in her hands. It is customary to give offering to Belara before embarking on any sea journey, in hopes of currying her favor or warding off destructive storms and weather.

Her temples are often constructed of sea-green stone, and always feature a deep, wide pool in the innermost sanctuary (some of which are rumored to pen Holy Octopi of great size). These temples are always to be found within sight of the sea if not, as in the case of the beautiful Temple of Storms to be found jutting from the harbor of Hasturl, actually surrounded by water. The first day of spring, also the first day of Monsoon Season in the Three Seas, is her most holy day, and a week of carnivals and festivities follows, livening the streets of even the most sullen towns and cities. The temple has its dark side however: human sacrifices are known to be drowned in the sanctuary pools on certain other holy days.

Only one City State in the Three Seas does not host a temple of Belara; that is Yng Yoon, the notorious City of Mysteries beyond the Mountains of Dor Haaz. There is some enmity between the Sister-Queens of that place and the Lady of Storms, possibly due to the Queens' rumored connection with the goddess Lansril, who is often at odds with Belara.

The clergy of Belara typically garb themselves in togas of foam-green, salt-white, and deep blue, and openly wear silver amulets depicting the Holy Octopus. Traveling clerics of Belara favor light armor and wield scimitars, tridents, and daggers. Clerics of 2nd level or higher can Breathe Water for up to one turn per level.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gods of Lyrion - Phrygios

Another of the five primary gods of the Three Seas, Phrygios is the patron of Trickery, Knowledge, and Magic. Known sometimes as the "Lord of Wine", Phrygios is often depicted as a handsome, arrogant youth with an enigmatic expression on his face and a laurel wreath on his head. Phrygios is notorious for having stolen the Scrolls of Kronus (rumored to hold the secrets of immortality) from their Underworld hiding place, as well as stealing the hearts of a long succession of maidens, often maidens promised to other suitors. The popular Three Seas saying, "Safe with Phrygios" (such as, "Lester left his young wife at home during his five year sea voyage, I'm sure she's safe with Phrygios!") means someone has taken no precautions to safeguard what is valuable to them.

For all his mischief, Phrygios is nonetheless credited with the survival of much knowledge that would otherwise have been lost to one disaster or another, such as the tragic burning of the Great Library at Anslore, and he has an uncharacteristically stoic following of cloistered monks who spend hours toiling over copies of important books and scrolls so they can be shared and spread throughout the known world.

The temples of Phrygios are often very different from city to city. For example, the temple in Hasturl is a relatively sedate marble edifice of learning and study, wheras the temple in Neethra is a rambling assortment of gardens, pools, and shrines playing host to a number of sensual indulgences. The priests of Phrygios are often garbed in cotton or linen togas of green, purple, or white, head-wreaths of mistletoe, holly, laurel, or wine-leaf, and thin belts of precious metals or sashes of rare silks and textiles. Traveling clerics, on the other hand, rarely adhere to any sort of uniform raiment, preferring instead to sport whatever robe or armor suits their whim or the circumstances they are traveling under.

Clerics of Phrygios are often employed as messengers, and it is considered blasphemous and unlucky to thwart the mission of a cleric thus engaged. Some charm of anonymity follows all priests and clerics of Phrygios: they all Pass Without Trace unless they specifically try and do otherwise.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gods of Lyrion - Lansril

One of the five major gods of the Three Seas region, Lansril is the goddess of fertility, mysteries, and oracles. Also known as "the Dark Lady" or "the Fickle Maiden", she is typically depicted as a voluptuous, beautiful, youthful maiden with pale skin and waist-length black hair. Her eyes are often described as being filled with stars. Her temples are usually constructed on high places, and are often open to the stars. Many of these temples, such as the ones in Neethra and Hasturl, are modern temples that have been constructed around ancient megalithic rings aligned with the stars and their annual movements across the night skies. Scholars believe the cult of Lansril is one of the most ancient religions in the Three Seas, and they have found clay sculptures of immeasurable age in the primitive but undeniably voluptuous image of the goddess.

Lansril is the patron of oracles, and as such, her priestesses are frequently consulted for advice in weighty decisions. One of the most famous oracles of the cult is the Maiden of Eyes, who traditionally resides on the Isle of Azor in the Eeshi Straits. The Maiden of Eyes is always a girl of thirteen years' age who serves for one year, offering the guidance of the Dark Lady in return for extravagant offerings. Of recent note is the tale of one of the Sorcerer-Kings of Lyrion who visited the oracle of Azor for guidance on how to end the seemingly endless seige of the City-State of Ontandis. The Sorcerer made an offering of seventy-seven flawless rubies, but was given only the quizzical advice to "Seek the Sea-King's daughter; by her voice alone shall the walls of Ontandis crumble".

While the clergy of Lansril is open to both males and females, typically only females ever gain access to the innermost Circles of Mystery. Clerics of Lansril dress in simple white linen shifts, often very revealing, and ornate head-dress of white, silver, and black strung through with moonstones and black opals, though the cult's infamous order of Warrior-Priestesses favors chain-mail, large shields emblazoned with the crescent moon, and sharp spears. Four phases of the moon are honored as holy days each month. The Faithful of Lansril are able to see in darkness as if it were instead a clear night lit by a full moon (though this does not allow them to see in the unnatural darkness of the Underworld).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gods of Lyrion - Kronus

Kronus, another of the five primary gods of the Three Seas region, is Lord of the Underworld, and the god of Fortune, be it good or ill. Kronus typically appears as a bald, obsidian-skinned man with piercing silver eyes, wearing a silver toga, and holding a black spear in one hand. Other times, he appears as a large crow with silver eyes, or even as a pale-skinned maiden with silver hair and black eyes that, within them, may reflect a man's past and future. He is sometimes referred to as "Old Night". His symbol is black obsidian disc.

Among that dubious class of folk known as "adventurers", Kronus is a frequent patron, or, at least, given frequent homage and offerings in the hopes of currying favor, tipping the scales of fortune towards the good end, and especially when trespassing in his realm: the Underworld, as adventurers so frequently and unwisely do.

The temples of Kronus are typically flat-topped pyramids constructed of black basalt, and filled with a warren of tunnels, chambers, and odd, well-like shafts leading straight down or at odd angles. The innermost tunnels are often kept unlit, and some are rumored to lead either to natural caverns deep in the earth or to access points to the Underworld itself. Solar eclipses are the highest holy days of the temple, and offerings (sometimes live ones) are burnt upon the flat top of the pyramid. The temples of Kronus seem to attract flocks of crows, for some reason, though they curiously never defile the stone with their droppings.

The priests of Kronus typically adorn themselves in gauzy black togas, sometimes over silver scale-mail, and typically wield scimitars (unlike some other cults, they have no proscription against the shedding of blood). Males and females alike shave their heads bald, and have a strong aversion to defiling the sanctity of their bodies with piercings or tattoos. It is considered to be highly unlucky, if not ruinous, for anyone to refuse free room and board to a traveling priest of Kronus. Beginning at 2nd level, clerics of Kronus are ignored by any undead whose HD is less than their level (similar to the effect of a Sanctuary spell). Clerics also have a cumulative 10% chance per level of being sent a crow familiar (as per the Magic User spell, Find Familiar) by their patron.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gods of Lyrion - Mythra

Mythra, one of the five primary gods of the Three Seas region, is the god of Strength, Wisdom, and Nobility. He is commonly depicted as muscular, darkly-tanned man with a flowing white beard, usually holding a greatsword, point down, in one hand, and a set of golden scrolls in the other. His worship is popular among warriors, benign rulers, and the nomadic folk of the endless Satrapan Deserts. The faithful often refer to him as "the Radiant King", or simply, "the Radiant".

His worship was fairly low-key in the Three Seas until about forty years ago, when a notorious hermit stumbled out of the Satrapan Desert clutching a set of golden scrolls he claimed were given to him by the Radiant King in person. The hermit set up camp on a ridge of lifeless dunes outside the seaside city of Tanek-Ur and there, for seventeen days straight, read aloud from the scrolls to any who would listen. A small crowd of curious onlookers soon gathered, and their ranks would shortly swell into the thousands. On the seventeenth day, the skies darkened and rain fell on Tanek-Ur for the first time in a century. When the rain stopped, the dunes of the ridge flowered with hundreds of rose bushes, and the mad hermit was declared to be the Rose Prophet, and led triumphantly into the city. The fanatic mob pulled the Tyrant of Tanek-Ur from his palace of debauchery, and the city was renamed Mythrior, and reborn as a Theocracy.

To this day, the Rose Prophet holds court in the sprawling temple of Mythra, though the City State has since become a tributary state of Lyrion. Thus far, the Sorcerer-Kings have been too cautious to tamper over much with the tenets and festivals of the faithful, and an uneasy peace has been maintained.

The clergy of Mythra typically go shirtless, though they wear long skirts of white linen and girdles of brilliant scale-mail embossed with silver. The chests of the faithful are tattooed with the symbol of a fiery sun, and their festivals are based around the cycles of the sun. Their faith appears to be particularly inimical to the negative energy of undeath - clerics of Mythra turn undead as if they were one level higher.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lands of Lyrion - Neethra, City of Thieves

Of the seven City-States of the Three Seas region, Neethra is, easily, the most notorious. Also known as the "City of Thieves", the city is a sprawling hive of dark alleys, sullen tenements, and rowdy taverns that clings to the side of Mount Raven-Red like some seething mould. It is also one of the greatest trade cities of the Three Seas, being somewhat free of the normally heavy-handed import restrictions of the Imperial officials who nominally rule the city in the name of the Sorcerer-Kings of Lyrion (the current governor being one Hjorrm, a Lyrion admiral who is seldom in attendence). The harbormasters are also, for the price of a modest bribe, known to turn a blind eye to the export and import of goods that would be considered illegal in the other City States. Nearly anything, be it goods or services, may be purchased in the City of Thieves for the right price.

Neethra is a favored destination of depraved pleasure-seekers: the "Night Garden", a maze-like district of brothels, theaters, and outdoor auditoriums and parks, provides any distraction the bored wealthy thrill-seeker can imagine, again for the right price. The so-called "Guild of Lanterns" provides guides knowledgeable in the ways of the Night Garden for a nominal fee to steer tourists towards the indulgences they crave. Looming ironically close to the Night Garden is the "Plaza of Five Lies", a great circular plaza surrounded by the temples of the five primary deities of the Three Seas (Mythra, Kronus, Lansril, Phrygios, and Belara), as well as numerous shrines consecrated to dozens of other, foreign, gods. The temple of Phrygios was, once, the grandest of the five, but its famed School of Mysteries (a college of sorcery) was cast into ruin decades ago by the Sorcerer-Kings of Lyrion, and the ruins left for all to see as a warning to any who would defy their mastery.

Higher up the side of the mountain is the mysterious Tower of Louris the Lost, a sorcerer who disappeared a century ago. The Sorcerer-Kings have tried many times to enter or destroy the Tower, but it has, thus far, withstood even their most ardent efforts. Louris is suspected to be the creator of the Mad Halls, a unnatural maze of chambers and corridors that exists beneath the City of Thieves. Scholars endlessly debate the nature of these halls; some assert they are ruins left by a lost civilization, while others claim they are an actual, physical encroachment of the dark Underworld. The Underworld hypothesis is not so far-fetched as it would seem - the Mad Halls earned their moniker well - the place is ever-changing, and haunted by beasts and dark folk that should not be found there, and the traps and hazards within seem to reset and move themselves around at their own whim. Despite the danger, the Mad Halls are reportedly filled with wealth as well, however, so they have become a favored destination of treasure hunters and explorers, and it is not considered polite among their company to speculate over-long on the mortality rate of such endeavors.

Slouching beside the deep black harbor of Neethra is a notorious inn and tavern - Verdigris House - with a dark reputation and a clientele of pirates, outlaws, smugglers, and renegades, as well as treasure hunters looking to take advantage of a peculiarity of the establishment's cistern. At the bottom of the great well is a stone face, through the open, gaping maw of which one may gain entrance to the Mad Halls, if one is unwise enough. Old Fang, the innkeeper, a hideous hulking man rumored to have some Lizard-Man ancestry (though the author is loathe to ponder how such a thing may have come into existence), charges a small fee for access to the basement in which the cistern lies, and keeps its door heavily locked and barred - not, it would appear, to keep anyone out, but, rather, to keep something in.


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