Tuesday 23 September 2014

The city braces itself to die

War is in the air, and the urban population breathe deep – a heady scent, which clouds the minds of many…


Though the street urchins don't know it, they can feel the impending devastation. Pickpockets stand around despondent, and gangs attempt to make amends rather than continue their rivalries.
An in-the-know merchant is selling dodgy goods he picked up basically free, but is selling for extorted prices in the rush for supplies.
Many are turning to a new fad-religion which celebrates raucous partying, especially before important events. This is probably not a ploy by the invading force, but simply poor luck for the defenders.
The animals know, and are streaming out. Dog rubs shoulder with cat, cat with mouse.
High profile, street-court in progress. The accused will hang if found guilty, but if the prosecution cannot convict he will hang instead. People love the show either way.
Someone is stealing cobblestones, but only from main streets. This causes havoc from all the outgoing traffic.

Drinks and Drinking

You take a refreshing swig, a drink well earned. Something's not right - the taste? Smell? You look in your vessel, and see…

What do you see?
A pair of long, thin, white worms. They writhe in your drink, and - damn does your throat itch - you can see tiny teeth at either end of the things.
The surface of your drink is acting like a perfect mirror, until you start to speak. The reflection just watches.
Dozens of tiny white spheres. The word ‘egg’ occurs to you. Breathing is becoming difficult.
Something like a weasel in lurid colours leaps out of your vessel and quickly flees the scene. You feel your pulse quicken significantly.
A twig of some unknown herb of tree sits at the bottom of the drink. You’ve never seen the like before. You’re sweating.
A small, unstopped glass vial rests at the bottom. Some oily liquid is seeping out the neck. You feel that the floor would be a great place to rest.
Your drink is frozen solid, but it is not cold. There is not a drop of moisture in your vessel. You feel warm.
Your drink is black as ink, and you feel the residue of it all over your lips, tongue, teeth, mouth, throat, stomach. It stings.
A fresh razor-blade is suspended in your drink. A droplet of blood is diffusing in your drink. Your tongue is bleeding.
The drink smells of rot – no, worse than rot. A thousand years of renewed decay bottled and distilled and infused and enchanted and cursed and hexed and spoiled and sullied. You feel the bile rising faster than is (demi)humanely possible.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Impact of Golems

Continuing on from previous thoughts on golems-in-war. Probably worth noting a thing that could dispatch a golem is another, better one. Or two golems. Yeah, that'd do it.

Of course, the military applications of golems is only one use. When used in industry, the widespread effect will be far more pronounced, as can be seen by the development of similar systems in actual history - the inventions of the Industrial Revolution are a good roadmap, as is the modern computerisation of many processes. A long-term investment which enables more work, faster with greater efficiency all round - no upkeep, no requirement for sleep or indeed living quarters. A well-constructed golem, though probably wildly expensive, can indeed pay for itself. 

Of course, many of the negative impacts of both the industrial revolution and the modernisation of industry are inherent in golem-labour too - widespread loss of jobs for the working classes, who have been replaced. Societies using golem-labour could not simply train some of these people as operators or repairmen - as inherently magical creations, the average folk would be unable to interact with the golems in any meaningful way. This leads to widespread unemployment and dissatisfaction, a dangerous thing in a more primitive, feudal society.

Potential coping mechanisms could include the development or expansion of a permanent military force, probably equipped with arms and armour made of golem-mined ores. A well-equipped permanent army will compound the economic advantage this society has over its neighbours, and would allow significant military success -  not only are the armies larger and better equipped, the men are soldiers by profession and are not needed back home to till the fields and work the mines. This is in addition to the use of golems in war, nearly assured in a society which utilizes them to the degree that a significant number of people are out of work.

In addition to this, the use of golems within industry allows for new forms of product to be created and sold - golems cannot drown, and could well be capable of extended underwater operations. Furthermore, although slow, the inherent ability to bear incredible weight and move tirelessly throughout the night makes them effective pack animals for all manner of journeys, in addition to doubling as intimidating guards.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Idea-Sketch for Golems

In a setting with limited magical fire-power, most monsters and creatures get ramped up significantly in terms of fear and power. A mixed blessing is the nature of many of these things - by definition, many of them are uncontrollable and therefore make for poor tools. This does not apply to a golem. Being made of construction materials, your standard weapons won't do much. Combine this with the fact they're mobile meaning scoring a hit with some form of siege weapon is pretty unlikely. As we specified at the beginning, your traditional magical artillery battery is out too. So how do you deal with such a thing?

Obviously, this depends massively on the construction materials and creation methodology, but the most common types would likely be stone and clay, with the rare iron golem appearing. Of course, there will always be more exotic and outlandish materials used for specialist application. Methods of creating golems include

  • Creation via rituals, either divine or arcane
  • A scroll with the name of (a) God written upon it inserted into the inert form
  • Use of limited quantities of incredibly rare minerals
  • Imbuing the form with a 'spark of the divine' or similar phenomena
Assuming the use of a common, workable material for the majority of the body, individuals without magical support would be forced to fight a golem using unconventional tactics. A possible strategy which could be used would revolve around three main elements - bait, trippers and sappers. A pair of horsemen would hide, a rope or chain strung between them. The bait would attract the attention of the golem, who would then approach. At this point, the riders would attempt to bind the legs of the golem using the chain/rope, causing it to trip. Thus disabled, the sapper team would then move quickly, damaging the material of the golem with appropriate tools - mining picks for stone for example. Ideally, the golem would be disabled sufficiently in a single operation, but it is not impossible that multiple trips would have to be made before the golem was rendered ineffective. Aiming for a 'mobility kill' via the legs would increase the likelihood of a single strike being effective, although a golem would have the ability to drag itself around unlike modern military vehicles which are targeted for mobility kills.

Golems created with the name of a God or with a 'brain' of rare materials could be dealt with by targeting this control element - though practically this would require an incredibly brave individual to mount to golem, survive the attempts to dislodge them whilst also removing, damaging or otherwise disabling this control element which is most likely armoured, hidden or otherwise protected. This work is far better suited to adventurers rather than the common soldier.

Given enough time, golem-traps could be constructed utilizing either deep pits or soft sand areas, in which the naturally heavy golems would become trapped and therefore unable to continue the assault. 

Of course, none of this is needed with the application of either magical firepower/items or more accurate siege weapons. Fighting a golem without these things toe-to-toe is suicide, which is why the secrets of golem-crafting are not common knowledge.

Wednesday 10 September 2014


"You does not understand the concept of an individual, but this is not to say You is not one - You simply does not empathise enough with others to understand how they are also individuals with their own helping of thoughts, fears and dreams. You does taste them however. An essential element of You's mimicry, the ability to deform and shape You's mind into an effective emulation of the target. A wolf in sheep's clothing, You will then assimilate into the life of the target, replacing them entirely to remove any suspicion before the task is carried out. You would then stay hidden until You could disappear without risking capture."

Every doppelgänger is a unique creature, more of a broad family than a member of a species. It is not known where they come from. Many struggle with issues of identity, with the most common response being to not have one - they became perfect blank slates upon which they pin their deception. Others  instead fail to understand that anything else is really alive and sentient, seeing those it slips between as a great herd. Beyond these two broad archetypes, there is an infinite variety of possible outlooks and attitudes.

The 'blank slate' archetypes are owned by a handler who they are suicidally loyal to, or else aimlessly wander, replacing random individuals seemingly erratically. They often pass entirely undetected, until some unknown trigger causes a brutal slaughter, commonly met with death by the authorities.

They are known to gather in groups, most commonly when operating as mercenaries. It is not known what they do with their pay. Those who do group together are usually of the more eccentric kind, sporting more outlandish habits and preferences. They are considerably more talented, motivated and intelligent than the others of their kind, despite having no real goal. This makes them a formidable force and a great boon to those who can afford their hefty fees. Incredibly unusual is the tendency for these groups to take on names, something which exists entirely within these groups.

All members of this species have what is known as the 'rest form' - their appearance when not impersonating another. There is a great deal of variation between these, with the features approaching common usually being present on those of the 'blank slate' type ;

- Overall body is standard human configuration
- Translucent skin, not quite transparent enough for organs/bones without bright light behind them.
- No sensory organs
- No sexual organs
- Emaciated appearance
- Average height 5'5

Theft of items with great sentimental value – this one delights in stealing such items, and will store them in its personal stash. This stash will be defended to the death.
Murder of the dependent – this one savours the killing of the elderly, the children and the sickly.
Savage Brutality – it revels in pure carnage, brutally slaughtering targets and those near – usually to have it blamed on the one being impersonated.
Being caught – this one allows itself to be caught in the act, before slipping away once blame is solidly levelled at the one being impersonated.
Destroying relationships – this dynamic individual will rapidly shift to destroy all friendships and relationships the target has, leaving them utterly alone.
Specific Impersonations – this one has a knack for impersonating a specific variety of target, feeling incredibly comfortable in that form – to the point that their rest form reflects this preference. Roll on table below for the specific variety.

Preferred Impersonation
The holy, the pious, members of clergy or of known upstanding character.
A specific gender.
Children of a certain age – (D12 +4)
Nobility, those possessed of great wealth or titles, guild leaders.
A specific race, often from somewhere distant than their current locale.
Those known for a specific strong temperament.