Friday, September 30, 2011

Some Seriously Good Horror Music - or, you got your Mythos in my Music!

I ran across Out of Orion (Ox3) entirely by accident while doing my bi-weekly Jamendo dig. They have a lot of stuff on Jamendo for private download....and it is all very, very good stuff, especially for backgound music while playing Call of Cthulhu, Conspiracy X or GURPS Horror in any flavor. Hell, it's just good for background music while name it. Here are a few samples of Ox3 for your perusal:

....They have 34 albums up on Jamendo. It is all amazingly good darkambient, horror, sombient-like and, well....if you like this kind of stuff, its kind of like a goldmine of aural evil!

Mercury's curious Blue Hollows

Check out the color-enhanced pictures here at National Geographic. High-res snapshots coming back from MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury are changing perceptions on what Mercury looks like, and giving consideration to what sort of active geological forces are at work on the First Planet.

Mercury image: hollows

Personalities of Port Draemen

And now for part 2 of the NPCs of Kharabys. This section provides short bios and a couple stat blocks on the noted personalities of the chain-devil run independent Port Draemen:

Personalities of Port Draemen

Meenlock Radamarch                                    AL NE    Goblin Rogue 6 Assassin 4
   Goblin assassin for hire; a mean little old coot, notorious locally for his cunning efficiency and network of young tiefling and kytonian urchins that work for him, a gang known as the Shadow Coins.

Kaelie “Sultry” Neramas                              AL LE      Kyton Expert 7
   A female Kyton who runs “Astarte’s House of Please,” a den of iniquity that caters to the sadomasochistic set and promises any number of possible fantasies made horribly real. Sultry is nonetheless an excellent ear to the streets and hears about many strange goings-on no one else does, especially in the Abyssal quarter, known for its lawlessness.

Skalam Veruun                                                 AL LN     Ifrit Expert 10
   The most notoriously efficient planar merchant in Draemen is Skalam, a fireblooded ifrit who trades directly with the elemental lower planes and has known connections in the fabled City of Brass. Skalam is always looking for reliable agents and mercenaries to protect his cargo and ships, and will proactively seek out and destroy planar raiders and pirates that threaten his business.

Jazastar the Mirthless                                   AL NE    Mummy Bard 5
   Jazastar is the most notorious entertainer in Draemen, and is considered the personal entertainer of the Chain Lord. His dirges are impressive, but his efforts at humor can be disturbing, as he engages in uncharacteristically dark gallows humor. He is accompanied by a troop of abyssal ghouls, called Merol, Dring and Splast, who work with him for some impressively deranged skits. The Chain Lord loves him. Precisely where he came from originally, or how he came to be free of any confinement is unknown.

Salaam Ragast                                                   AL TN    Mercane
   Salaam is a famous local mercane who does a great deal of business in the magical device trade in Port Draemen. He funds the Office of Investigative Research on Baranask (ORB), focused on hiring brave teams to enter the haunted ruins of the Abyssal City and find new and fabulous ancient artifacts for his collections. Rumors abound that he is backed by powerful abyssal agents who are barred from the city by an ancient Devanic Curse.

Krugal Silth                                                         AL CN    Human cleric of Hades
   Krugal is a relentless stalker of petitioners and other beings that rightly should have been claimed by the dark domain of Hades, but who have somehow escaped its grasp. He works exclusively out of Port Draemen for unknown reasons, and is famous for his periodic sermons in the region. On occasion he will receive a missive from his god, sending him out to unknown planes in search of the offending escapee from the Stygian Darkness. Krugal has been known to recruit mercenaries to aid him on his astral barge, the Death Bringer, piloted by a skeletal bone devil called Kharos, who says he’s Charon’s cousin.

Chain Lord Andressa Nytu                           AL LE female Kyton fighter 12
   The ruthless and powerful chain lord is the dark mistress and protector of Port Draemen, latest in a long line of appointees given the position by popular vote. The story goes that Andressa Nytu received her commission a century ago, during an attempted invasion by the Chaos Hordes of the demon god Lloragesh. The story ends with saying that you can see the skinned and tanned hide of Lloragesh on the floor of the Council Chamber in the Chain Lord’s Palace, and that Andressa carries a phylactery with the demon god’s soul around her neck. No one disputes this story, least of all the kytons of the region, who are very long lived.

General Zanj                                                      AL LN male cambion fighter 8
   Zanj is known only by his one name, and is known also for being a mixed humand and kytonian halfbreed, but he is favored by the Chain Lord and acts as her consort. Zan is also responsible for running the all-volunteer and mercenary-focused standing army, which serves to protect the city from attacks both regional and extraplanar. He is said to have been made famous for his efforts at stopping the last Uprising of Souls on the plane of Abaddon. He is also known to be a member of the church of Osiris, and is a long time friend of Jazastar the Mirthless.

Tereneka Vile                                                   AL CE female Succubus Wizard 10
   Tereneka Vile is one of the few demons to be allowed within the walls of Port Draemen, and also one of the few who seem to be unpeturbed by the ancient devanic curse placed on the city thousands of years ago by Metatron. Tereneka runs a spy network and provides espionage services to the highest bidder, and has a strong force of tieflings and other planetouched in her service called the Burning Guard. Tereneka seems to have earned the trust of the Chain Lord, for she directly contracts out to the palace, and seems to rely on many contacts in the lower planes to aid the protection of the city. Exactly how she came to be exiled from the Abyssal realms, to find herself working for chain devils, remains unknown.
Skaz The Mad                                                    AL CN male kobold sorcerer 20
   Skaz wanders the streets of Port Draemen acting most of the time like a cooky old kobold who knows a few cantrips that he performs for money. Many foreigners have mistaken him for a common kobold however, and died horribly for it. Skaz is in reality the most powerful sorcerer in the city, and the Chain Lord relies on him as a sorcerous adviser at times, calling upon Skaz when it fancies her. Skaz, it is said, went mad when he was young, after he was gifted with the Vision of Cosmic Insight after he travelled to the Realms Beyond and allegedly had direct contact with the progenitor god Ea.

Fendren Lore                                                     AL LG male aasimar wizard 3 ranger 5 arcane archer 6
   Fendren is a rare example of an agent of good that has somehow found a home within Port Draemen’s walls. He travels between Draemen and Kharabys on regular business, and often engages in interplanar journeys of various unknown natures. Fendren is said to have once been a ranger and scholar in the service of Athena, but something happened and he fell out of grace with the goddess. Fendren now provides his services as a seeker, aiding those in need of a way of finding something or someone that has hidden themselves away in the infinite planes. Rumor is he is extremely good at his job.

Gelek Samursan                                               AL CG male aranea Rogue 4
   Gelek gets around, and he is another local odd fellow who is known throughout the streets of Draemen and generally regarded as a curiosity. He appears as a Halfling with tiefling traits, though his spider form is largely unknown. Gelek is not that powerful, but he represents a subterranean society of his kind that dwell beneath the city, and he is especially good at keeping up on the gossip and goings-on in Draemen.

Skaeldron. alias Mournweaver                 AL CE Adult Umbral Dragon
   Skaeldron is a true wolf in sheep’s clothing, masquerading in a polymorphed form as an older hunch-backed tiefling man who goes by his proper name, acting as a local seer and engaging in palmistry in various local taverns. He is seen as yet another of the many eccentrics in the city. Deep beneath the city, in the catacombs that stretch well in to Baranask, Skaeldron’s secret lair and slowly growing army of monsters awaits. There, as Mournweaver, he intends to drive the kytons and their allies out, and to claim the city and the ruins of Baranask for his own. What stops him right now primarily is his knowledge that the ruins are guarded by an ancient devanic curse, and he has not yet unraveled how to break it.

Thresha the Handmaiden                            AL LE Gylou (Devil’s Handmaiden)
   Thresha is a terrifying creature who is feared by all children in the city. She is real enough, dwelling in the Northern Tower, tallest pinnacle in the city which overlooks the ruins of Baranask, and the base of which serves as the only secure gateway therein. She has an unknown relation with the Chain Lord, but sought refuge in the city some fifty years ago to escape some crime in the Nine Hells. Thresha’s indiscretions are tolerated, and it is generally accepted among all kyton children that she is the city’s punishment for weak children who cry.

Yan Kor Nag                                                       AL NE Human male wizard 5 Cleric of Eragoth 10
   Yan Kor Nag is a mysterious fellow, and dwells in the Eastern Tower of the city, highest pinnacle to the eastern edge of the Great Ruins. He is said to have been here since before the Kyton migration, and to have tolerated them in exchange for services they offered as guards and agents. Yan Kor Nag is the only cleric of the enigmatic Eragoth, whom some say is one of the destructive Star Gods.

Bilious Vern                                                       AL LE Immolation Devil
   Bilious Vern is known for his propensity for drink and vomiting. He is one of the legendary immolation devils, even more terrifying than a pit fiend some day, and yet he is a nothing, a no-one who has lived for as long as any can remember as a drunken lout who barely seems to remember his own name. Some claim he was stripped of most of his mental faculties by an aggressive enemy, left a bumbling idiot for the most part, but no one really knows his curious story.

Mister Quareg                                                  AL CN Shoggoth
   Quareg is a strange sort of “man” who works with a small group of skum along the waterfront. He manages a curio shop, and is known for his proud display of ancient and often very disturbing religious iconography. He is abreast of all the latest manifestations of the Star Gods throughout the prime material planes, and regards himself as somewhat of an authority on planar eschatology.

Skarzbana, keeper of the Strangling Vine Inn
   Skarzbana is the well-known innkeep of the prestigious and formerly haunted Strangling Vine Inn, built around an ancient Strangling Vine tree, which itself is said to have been in Draemen for a thousand years. Skarzbana is a sucker for hard-luck cases and always helping down and out adventurers who arrive in Draemen get on their feet.
AL: LN    Race: tiefling                                        Class: expert 3                      Deity: Isis
App: female tiefling, blonde hair in a bun, thick horns and a long tail, a very large, robust woman
Init:        +0           AC 12 (Tch 10 FF 12)           FT +1 RF +1 WL +3               HP 15                    
DR none; Immune none; SR none   Senses: Darkvision 60 feet                 Armor: Leather Apron (+2)
Speed 30 ft.          Melee Broom (as a staff) +1 (1D6-1)                Space 5 ft; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Silvered Dagger +1 magical +2 (1D4 damage)
STR 8 (-1); DEX 10(+0); CON 9(-1); INT 11(0); WS 13(+1); CH 12(+1)       Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 11
Feats toughness, skill focus (cooking)
Skills Appraisal +6, Craft (cooking) +10, Diplomacy +7, Knowledge (local) +6, Perception +7, Sense Motive +7
Languages Planar Common, Abyssal                 SQ Darkness (tiefling ability)                                                            
Wealth 2,504 gold pieces in hidden coffer in her room; carries 50 gold, 100 silver and 100 copper

Doctor Vigoron                                                 AL NE Flesh Golem alchemist 10
   Vigoron is a local chirurgeon who specializes in alternative means of healing and fixing wounds, as well as mechanisms for removing curses and diseases that do not use divine magic. He is a sentient golem, a rare breed, with a cunning intelligence and (some say) a hidden laboratory in the catacombs and sewers of the city where he performs diabolical experiments in his effort to create a master race of golems.

Maleus Torimaer
   Maleus is a notorious local knave who regularly is looking for the Big Ticket out of Draemen. His father was ostensibly an elf, but his mother was a cambion with kyton blood. Presently Maleus is in trouble with a local gang of rogues called the Hooded Legion, whom he owes money. He recently stumbled across a map that leads to a legendary abyssal tomb within the ruins of Baranask, and is trying to find some naive planar visitors that he can use as cannon fodder to rob the tomb to pay off his debts.
AL: NE    Race: tiefling                                        Class:      rogue 8  Deity: Loki
App: Male tiefling, dusky red skin, a persistent smirk, shaggy dark hair, short horns and tail
Init:        +4           AC 19 (Tch 14 FF 15)           FT +2 RF +10 WL +1            HP 48                    
Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5      Senses: Darkvision 60 feet                 Armor: Studded Leather +2 (+5 AB)
Speed 30 ft.          Melee +2 rapier anarchic +13/+8 (1D6+3; 18-20/X2) Space 5 ft; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks sneak attack (add 4D6 plus 4 bleed); anarchic rapier does +2D6 to lawful beings
STR 12(+1); DEX 19(+4); CON 10(+0); INT 15(+2); WS 8(-1); CH 12(+1)   Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +10; CMD 21
Rogue Abilities Sneak Attack +4D6, Trapfinding +4, Evasion, Trap Sense +2, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Rogue Talents: bleeding attack 4, fast stealth, finesse rogue, surprise attack
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise (-2 att/+2 AC), Weapon Focus (rapier), Lunge (-2 att/reach)
Skills Acrobatics +15, Appraise +13, Bluff +14, Climb +12, Disable Device+15, Knowledge (local) +12, Linguistics +13, Perception +10, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +17
Languages Planar Common, Infernal, Abyssal, Sylvan, Terran, Ignan, Elvish, Orcish                XP: 51,000
Tiefling Racial Ability: darkness once/day at level 8 casting level
Wealth: 157 PP, 353 GP, two +1 daggers, 4 normal daggers, 2 silver daggers

Copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Drunos and Druuna: Twin Kyton Chain Fighting Devils of Draemen

To finish off the material I worked out for Kharabys and the Astral Island of Isnathar, some stat blocks and details on various and sundry NPCs the players encountered during the course of the mini-campaign, for use with Pathfinder. This will be Part One of Three:

Drunos and Druuna
   The brother and sister Kytons are twins, chain devils in the free-service of the armed militia of Draemen, where they work as part of the privately-funded police keeping force that passes for the City Watch. The limited governance of Port Draemen is a libertarian dream (or nightmare) of independent merchants, land-owners and aggressively self-promoting free agents, and Drunos and Druuna are no exception, providing paid muscle, investigative services and general head-knocking skills to those elected devils and humanoids that sit upon the city council.
   Drunos is a dour and quiet sort, but quick to action. His sister is more hot-headed and also the voice and brains of the operations. Both are extremely proficient chain-fighters.

AL: LE     Race: Kyton Chain Devil      Class: Fighter 1, Outsider 8                Deity: Belphegor
App: Male Kyton, looks about 30, blue gray skin, chain intwined dreadlocks, red eyes, scar over right eye.
Init:        +9           AC 23 (Tch 15 FF 18)           FT +10 RF +11 WL +2          HP 73     Regeneration 2 (good, silver)           
DR 5/silver or good; Immune cold; SR 17             Senses: Darkvision 60 feet
Speed 30 ft.      Melee 4 chains +14/+9 (2d4+4)  Space 5 ft; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with chains)
Special Attacks dancing chains, unnerving gaze
STR 19 (+4); DEX 21(+5); CON 16(+3); INT 11(0); WS 10(0); CH 14(+2)   Base Atk +9; CMB +13; CMD 26
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (chain), Combat Reflexes (+5 aoos)
Skills Acrobatics +16, Climb +15, Craft (blacksmithing) +11, Escape Artist +16, Intimidate +13, Perception +13, Survival +4, Swim +8
Languages Common, Infernal    SQ chain armor                                                 XP: 80,000
Chain Armor (Ex) The chains that adorn a kyton grant it a +4 armor bonus, but are not treated as armor for the purpose of arcane spell failure, armor check penalties, maximum Dexterity, weight, or proficiency.
Dancing Chains (Su) A kyton can control up to four chains within 20 feet as a standard action, making the chains dance or move as it wishes. In addition, a kyton can increase these chains’ length by up to 15 feet and cause them to sprout razor-edged barbs. These chains attack as effectively as the kyton itself. If a chain is in another creature’s possession, the creature can attempt a DC 15 Will save to break the kyton’s power over that chain. If the save is successful, the kyton cannot attempt to control that particular chain again for 24 hours or until the chain leaves the creature’s possession. A kyton can climb chains it controls at its normal speed without making Climb checks. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Unnerving Gaze (Su) Range 30 ft., Will DC 15 negates. A kyton can make its face resemble one of an opponent’s departed loved ones or bitter enemies. Those who fail their saves become shaken for 1d3 rounds. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

AL: LE     Race: Kyton Chain Devil      Class: Rogue 1, Outsider 8                 Deity: Astarte
App: Female Kyton, looks about 35, blue gray skin, chain braided hair, red eyes.
Init:        +9           AC 23 (Tch 15 FF 18)           FT +8 RF +11 WL +3            HP 73     Regeneration 2 (good, silver)           
DR 5/silver or good; Immune cold; SR 17             Senses: Darkvision 60 feet; Perception +15
Speed 30 ft.      Melee 4 chains +11 (2d4+2)       Space 5 ft; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with chains)
Special Attacks dancing chains, unnerving gaze
STR 15 (+2); DEX 21(+5); CON 14(+2); INT 15(+2); WS 12(+1); CH 14(+2); Base Atk +8; CMB +10; CMD 23
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (chain), Sneak Attack +1D6, Trapfinding
Skills Acrobatics +16, Climb +13, Craft (blacksmithing) +11, Escape Artist +16, Intimidate +13, Perception +15, Stealth +15, Sleight of Hand +9, Linguistics +6
Languages Common, Infernal, Terran     SQ chain armor                                     XP: 80,000
Chain Armor (Ex) The chains that adorn a kyton grant it a +4 armor bonus, but are not treated as armor for the purpose of arcane spell failure, armor check penalties, maximum Dexterity, weight, or proficiency.
Dancing Chains (Su) A kyton can control up to four chains within 20 feet as a standard action, making the chains dance or move as it wishes. In addition, a kyton can increase these chains’ length by up to 15 feet and cause them to sprout razor-edged barbs. These chains attack as effectively as the kyton itself. If a chain is in another creature’s possession, the creature can attempt a DC 15 Will save to break the kyton’s power over that chain. If the save is successful, the kyton cannot attempt to control that particular chain again for 24 hours or until the chain leaves the creature’s possession. A kyton can climb chains it controls at its normal speed without making Climb checks. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Unnerving Gaze (Su) Range 30 ft., Will DC 15 negates. A kyton can make its face resemble one of an opponent’s departed loved ones or bitter enemies. Those who fail their saves become shaken for 1d3 rounds. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Some more great music I would like to share. Oneiros is on Jamendo, and is some great, exotic "ambient tribal/space" music:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead Island Reality Style

Spotted this at Gamepro and was rather amused. It's great because they play it so straight...I immediately got the twitchy urge to load up Dead Island and look for a coat hanger....

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Hints of Monte Cook

If you're not in the loop, Monte Cook has been brought back aboard in some capacity for design work at Wizards of the Coast. Many (myself included) consider this a good thing. Rule of Three addresses some of the questions about what this means (and what Monte is doing) here.

I'm pretty comfortable now betting on a 5th edition of some sort in 2014, although if we don't see some talk of an open playtest by the end of next year then I might revise that estimate again.

UPDATE: Monte's first Legends & Lore column is up here. Reactions have been....interesting, to put it mildly. Myself....I think I'll wait until I see a couple more culmns from Monte before assuming he's too out of touch with the current audience for D&D, but it does sort of feel like that.

Alexandre Benois!


Just wanted to offer up a link to this site, where Christian is producing a good old fashioned digest size 'zine. It's reminding me very much of the good old days, 'lo those many years ago...
Anyway, I may have to subscribe if I can remember to save some money for fun things again in the near future....these days, in the world of the internet and blogs, an old fashioned print fanzine is a genuine curio worth investigating!

Speaking of the old days.....anyone remember this game? I've been keeping an eye out on ebay and elsewhere, hoping against hope a copy resurfaces, but so far no such luck:

...Or its first edition, the one I was most familiar with. I purchased them both directly from Wargames West in Albuquerque here, all those years ago (Wargames West still exists, sort of, by the way, albeit not as a mail order retailer or distributor; its called Active Imagination these days and is Albuquerque's best game shop; it's also where I hold my Wednesday games).

Ysgarth was one of those  peculiarities, a distinct artifact of gaming's early days, an experimental system loaded for bear with exotic and esoteric mechanics and rules for extreremly detailed "simulationist" play styles. I really wanted to run it, but the opportunity never arose, and by the time I was in a position to do so and surrounded by like-minded gamers, it was more or less too late to generate renewed interest.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kharabys, the City of Relics

At the beginning of the year I ran a short four-session game set on an Astral Island called Kharabys. The scenarios were using Pathfinder, but the locale is pretty system-neutral (any D&D iteration should suffice). I don't know if I'll ever deploy this in print, but I figure I can share the original setting manuscript for those who can use it. No map, alas; the island was entirely charted in the mental cartography of the mind (though clues lie below; being a planar realm, I offer only the disclaimer of: actual physical properties of astral demiplanes may vary.

The City of Relics, along the coast of Isnathar in the Astral Ocean

   Kharabys is an ancient city founded thousands of years ago by the lost Mythric Empire of Chirak. Once, Kharabys was the chief hub of the ancient empire’s robust efforts at extraplanar trade and exploration. The city was founded upon the even older ruins of a lost age, about which little was known then and now, the island upon which the city rests apparently having been used as a hub many times in the past.
   When the Apocalyptic war came that destroyed the ancient empires and the very pantheon of Chirak, Kharabys was cast in to isolation, far removed from its founding empire and without resources save what it could gather on its own. Much happened to the city port in this time, and it is said that only a few centuries ago it nearly vanished during a period of great change and conflict, when astral marauders travelled through the stellar darkness of the vast astral oceans, enslaving and pillaging all they encountered.
   Kharabys recovered, as survivors hid within the catacombs of the ancient ruins and were eventually rescued by the astral elves called Naelythians. The Naelythians were conquerors of a sort as well, albeit gentler, establishing rulership over the city and its people as well as offering protection and substantial improvements to the ancient city. The brought with them improved versions of the astral ships that they used for trade along the vastness of the Astral Ocean, to replace the aging and lost technology of the old Mythrics that had long since fallen in to disrepair. With the Naelythians, Kharabys prospered once more.
   Several centuries later and Kharabys is now regarded as one of the great ports of the Astral Ocean. It is centered along a convenient hub , where the astral currents wind and weave in to the planar domains, creating unique tethers to hundreds of remote planes of existence, including Chirak, Lingusia, Enzada and others. From here, traders of the planes gather and depart, bringing unique wares and goods from across the planes for trade and sale. The naelythians keep the peace, and dozens of local cults have sprung up to gods as far-flung as Etah, Akuuris, the Star Maiden, and more.

   The island of Isnathar is a modest land mass jutting from the etheric depths of the Astral Ocean. Here, the elemental planes have converged to mix water, land and ether in to a mass that is reminiscent to many of the more conventional mundane planes, though in any given direction the astral realm fades in to starry depths in the distance. The region is effectively its own demiplane, created to float in the astral realm, designed clearly as a hub for such regions. It’s unique tether to both the astral ether and the watery seas of the mortal planes means that it is possible for ships to sail here by either medium; conventional ships may arrive by means of planar gates, and astral ships may sail in on the etheric currents.
   The island itself holds ancient ruins, and some scholars have identified these remnants as belonging to the lost culture of the Prehunates, ancient sorcerer-kings who were destroyed for impudently seeking the power of gods on their own plane of existence. The island is riddled with ruinous remnants of their vast power, as well as deep and ancient catacombs. In the heart of the island is the entrance to a vast machine, said to be the device which maintains the convergence of elemental and astral forces, and allows the network of planar gates and astral currents to converge so conveniently.
   Because the island is constructed around such a unique circumstance, it is also known for its debris. The shores of Isnathar regularly are inundated with ancient relics, curious yet meaningless artifacts, lost stragglers and even stranger entities from abroad, all carried here by the currents of both water and ether.
   As Isnathar is a constructed island, it bears many artificial traits that are distinctly eerie when observed, yet become even more mysterious when studied over time. There is a sun which appears in the skies, but it is clearly no sun that can be reached by means of ship or spell, and mages have studied this curiosity extensively, determining at last that carefully constructed portals to other dimensions open up on these foreign suns and allow their light to enter in to the domain, simulating the day time effects of a normal plane of existence. There appears to be no single sun chosen for such a task, and observers have developed a complicated regional astronomical calendar based on observing which sun is evident in the sky at any given moment. The gate that activates has never been directly observed, though aspiring atinquarians have sought it out, to learn its secrets, speculating it must be prehunate in origin, and perhaps contains the secrets of boundless magical energy to have functioned for so long.
   The night skies of Isnathar as equally eerie yet less mysterious, for they in fact look upon the mysterious astral currents and eddies that the island floats through. Ships descending from such eddies and currents can frequently be seen, provided they are able to sustain themselves in flight against the gravity imposed by the island’s mysterious machines. Telling one’s position from the star-like patterns in the astral ocean is a difficult task, but possible.

Weather on Isnathar
  Isnathar is mostly subject to a perpetually warm Caribbean environment with period storms appearing as a byproduct of its strange relation to the Astral domain at large. Periodically freak weather will strike, caused usually by the spontaneous opening of elemental gates, spilling tumultuous effects out and having a dire impact on the island. Other occasions lead to entire storm fronts blowing through anomalous gate portals, delivering immense typhoons, snowstorms and other weird weather effects. But most of the time, its calm and warm.

Weather Chart (Day to Day):
D100                Result
01-80               calm, warm weather
91-95               roll on the Types of Weather chart 
                        (such as thePFGMG Pg 224 or back of RQII book)
96-00               roll twice on the Types of Weather chart for simultaneous effects.

Denizens of the Island
   Isnathar is about one hundred miles in diameter, and populated by many entities, some that have dwelt here long enough to claim native status, others freshly washed ashore with the flotsam and jetsam. Among the more notable local groups, outside of the city of Kharabys itself can be found the Igurtas, large iguana-like bipeds that tower over normal men and have claimed the island as a home for many centuries, having arrived long ago by rafts drifting in the waters. The Naelythians, ruddy blue-skinned elves native to the astral ocean have taken up residence here for centuries. A young race of Halflings known as the kithe dwell here as well, long since displaced from their homeland, the kithe have become quite accustomed to the island and the city, acting as insightful and cheery guides and assistants to those who visit the island, while mainting their own inland and coastal communities. Finally, thetrolls of Enaldaram dwell on the island. Though few in number, the trolls are remnants from the time of the legendary Astral Marauders of Nur, which consisted of many species, including the Enaldaramic trolls. The trolls who remained behind were at first taken captive and imprisoned by the Naelythians, though in time it was determined that they were an underclass of the empire of Nur, who sought escape when the opportunity presented itself. They were eventually freed, and have remained on the island ever since.
   Aside from the indigenous groups that occupy the island one can find a vast number of temporary residents, both within the city of Kharabys itself and abroad. Kharabys has the largest population, but there are roughly two dozen other small communities and townships across Isnathar, including the reasonably large Castle Argonesse on the far side of the island, ruled by the self-proclaimed Duke Ralinar, a man who is said to have been exiled from his own planar domain long ago for an attempted coup upon the throne.

The Rulership of Kharabys
   Kharabys is ruled by a council of three regents, appointed to their positions by an election of the land-owning aristocracy and all Naelythians (to have right of vote in the republican government of the city one must either own property or be of astral elf blood). The council presently consists of Lord Taros Demkin, a popular and very affluent human merchant, Lady Seris, the naelythian high priestess of the Star Maiden,  and Yathan Kuur, the naelythian general of the city’s standing militia. Beneath the Council of Three are a series of appointed agents who represent the individual interests of each. Demkin rules the Cabinet of Mercantilism, Seris rules the Cabinet of Theological Interests and Kuur is general over the Cabinet of Defense.
   There are a few lesser positions of authority in the city that are still quite important, including the Harbormaster, a portly man by the name of Gozan Seth, who controls the trade by way of the sea passages to and from Kharabys, as well as the Skymaster, an avian Quarian known as Telherath who also manages the somewhat modest but efficient aerial defense patrols of the city under Demkin’s supervision. The city’s system of justice is managed by the dark elf justicar Nurlindar Skallane, who himself is rumored to be a true dark elf long fled from Yggdrasil’s roots itself. Skallane reports directly to Lady Seris instead of Kuur, as the city watch is kept apart from the city’s standing militia defense. This grew out of a dispute two centuries ago during a political power struggle that erupted in to civil war; the purpose was to insure that not all military power rested in the hands of only one regent. The result was a division of military power between each regent.
    Because there are three regents, there are three separate palaces within the city. However, the center of power is situated in the Citadel of the Regents, a structure built within the largest surviving ziggurat of pre-human times. The Citadel of the Regents is where the courthouses, standing troops and the greater bureaucracy are all located.

Layout of Kharabys
   The city is built on no concrete plan, being a mixture of ancient ruins re-appropriated for modern use intermixed with modern structures sprawled far and wide along the Great Bay of Stars, a wide open-mouthed harbor that is nonetheless too shallow on close approach for most ships, which must instead drop anchor about half a mile out. The city has numerous sprawling towers with boarding ramps for the aetheric astral ships that visit, powered by magic. At any given time two or three dozen vessels both on sea and airborne can be spotted in and around the city.
   The city has loosely divided itself in to six districts, being:

Trade District: The trade district is nestled along the waterfront and is where most cargo imports and exports are handled, both by sea and through the astral ships docked along the sky towers. It is a bustling, busy district and here no one never seems to sleep.

Market District: Adjacent to the trade district, the market district is a lengthy expanse of merchant shops, additional warehouses and local curios shops that specialize in everything from relic hunting to leasing hirelings. The market district is not as ambitious in the late hours of the night, when most such crowds move to the entertainment district.

Entertainment District: The naelythian-dominated local government is incredibly liberal when it comes to restrictions on entertainment, and as such Kharabys has developed a healthy entertainment quarter, with theatres, brothels, gambling halls, arena fighting and other sports regularly underway. The theatre of the district, managed by the astral elves of house Termidan is especially noteworthy for its fabulous collection of the best plays cultivated from across a hundred dimensions.

Residential District: The majority of the inner city is dominated by the so-called “residential district” which is simply the wealthy quarter of the region, where most elves and land owners can be found. The residential district as such is noted for its integration with the older ruins on which the current city rests, including the ancient Mythric and even more ancient Prehunate ruins.

District of the Regents: The central region of the city is dominated by the three palatial residences given to the acting regents, clustered around and near the Citadel of the Regents, a vast hollow ziggurat in which the city bureaucracy resides.

Popular District: The popular district is the nick-name for the rest of the city. The bulk of the city is property owned by the elite land-owners, mostly a mixture of naelythian elves and indigenous humans who claim direct descent from the original Mythric founders of the city. These people own much of the land in the region, and build and lease out residences to the landless citizenry, holding them in thrall after a fashion as landlords. Most of what is considered part of the popular district is built outside the region of the city that is built around the old ruins, and so is dominated by shanty towns and cheaper housing of lower overall quality.
   There are a number of barrios in the popular district as well. These regions include neighborhoods that focus on specific racial and regional groups that prefer to cluster together. The kithe, trolls and other groups all have such barrios.

Skaldine’s Tower and Draegor Keep
   Named after the now legendary dragon king Skaldine that supposedly created the tower a thousand years ago, this strong keep is located just north of the city along the coast, and serves as the center of military operations for the city as well as the prison tower for those who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Further inland is another prison, called Draegor Keep, located beside a major rock quarry where new resources are mined from the Inner Mountains of the island. Here most non-lifers are kept, to work their debt off in the mine pits and quarries until they are released. The warden of Draegor Keep is a stern naelythian named Arinthyr, who seems to relish his duty.

The Necropolis
   Built on such ancient ruins, the city is not far from the region known as the necropolis, which consists of the less tame and much more dangerous sprawl of ancient ruins stretching up to the length of the Inner Mountains. This immense region constains thousands of ancient structures, many unexplored or even untouched by living beings in thousands of years. The relic hunters of the city favor these ruins, which are fraught with ancient dangers and riddled with curious traps and monsters. Indeed, the preponderance of entities dwelling in this region has led some to speculate that there must be underground planar gates to other hostile realms, to justify the source of so many beasts. One at least two occasions within the last century mysterious hordes of orcs have boiled up out of the ruins in an attempt to seize control of Kharabys, in fact, both times led by powerful orcish warlords driven by different deities from across the planes. There was a different invasion about ten years ago, when nearly ten thousand ibixian broo showed up following their charismatic leader the Horned King. The siege lasted six months before they were driven out and scattered; many tribes of ibixians now wander the ruins and the deeps of the mountains, causing trouble for all.

The Coastal Ruins
   A curious effect of the island’s antiquity is that many ruins can be found beneath the waters of the coast, and indeed it appears that over the eons the water levels of the island have risen a couple hundred feet. Aquatic denizens including the skum and other batrachians races dwell in these ruins, having arrived long ago from remote dimensions. They seem obsessed with the idea that the island is not a creation of the Prehunates but existed prior to that extinct race’s arrival, and that the island serves an even darker purpose, to serve perhaps as a focal point for the enigmatic Star Gods.
   That said, the underwater ruins are even more difficult to reach than those on land, and a healthy trade exists amongst antiquarians and relic hunters willing to use mechanical and magical means to enter the water and explore such ruins.

The Seronician Fragments
   Scattered across the island are eleven ancient monuments, crudely constructed and meticulously etched in fine detail using primitive tools. The tight nonsensical scrawl on these ancient obelisks is untranslatable, defying even magical means of interpretation, and have been a mystery for as long as the island has been inhabited. A few more audacious scholars like to point out that the obelisks seem to predate even the Prehunate artifacts and ruins on the island, though that point is hotly debated. On occasion mystery cults will rise up around one or more of these obelisks, or pilgrims from some remote plane of existence will arrive to seek them out, displaying a strange familiarity with the obelisks themselves, though no two groups agree on their particular “translations” of the scratchy lines that seem to be some sort of language. No Rosetta Stone has been found that can help the matter, either.

 The Inner Mountains and the City of the Machine
   The bulk of the island’s central region is dominated by these vast, ancient mountains. In the heart of the mountains rests yet another Prehunate city, at the center of which is a powerful, enigmatic machine that pulses with resonant energy and seems to be at the very center of the island itself. Many believe this machine is what holds the demiplane of the island together. It is generally believed that the prehunates made the machine, though some speculate that the Prehunates merely discovered the island and the machine and merely built their city around it. The evidence in favor of this is the indication that the language written on the walls of the machine’s chambers does not seem to be the same as the one used throughout the prehunate ruins.
   The machine has mysterious properties, and those who enter its core find gravity evaporates and the default laws of motion by mind resume within. Those who stay in close proximity to it for too long experience strange hallucinations and a persistent sense of unease over time, and a few researchers have been known to go mad.

Castle Coralan
   This ancient castle was built about nine hundred years ago and has been occupied by many different forces since then. It is presently a remot bastion owned and managed by Lord Gryfaltor of the elvish house Nystramus, and is noted for its secretic nature. House Nystramus is the branch of the Naelythian Empire trusted by Empress Verythryn to handle all matters of spying for her throughout the many planes of existence. Gryfaltor often vists the city on business, and has been known to recruit worthy mercenary adventurers for dangerous tasks in remote planes of existence. The castle is also said to have the best private fleet of astral warships on the island.

The Ruins of Baranask and Port Draemen
   On the southern stretch of the island this ruined city reflects some ancient failed effort to start a trade hub, wiped out about five thousand years ago before the arrival of the Mythric colonists. The founders of Baranask appear to have been demons of some sort, and the city has remnants of a vast fortress along its outskirts that may have been the staging ground for an ancient invasion from the Abyssal Realms into the domains of the Astral Ocean. It is said that the city is haunted with the spectral remnants and vestiges of demons and seraphim that perished during the city’s destruction, as well as other monstrous beings that find it a comforting place to dwell. A small town called Port Draemen, run by the demonic Kytons can be found along the coast. The port was started as a place of pilgrimage for demonic beings to the city, but has since turned in to a small trade port in its own right, as well as a place for the chaotically tainted to make their own incursions for artifacts in to the haunted abyssal city.

   This is the chief township of the island trolls (the Enaldaram). The trolls have built their small city around an ancient ruined ziggurat, smaller than the one in Kharabys but still of large size. The trolls worship Jormungandr, the World Serpent, whom they believe winds through the twisting nether of the Astral Ocean and beyond, and who will one day end all of creation. The troll chieftain is Ninangur, a tall and broad-shouldered fellow with far too much hair going in wildly different directions.

   Sethys is a small township founded by kithe and dominated by the little folk. They are friendly and open, living an egalitarian life and all chipping in to the common good of the community. As is their wont, many young kithe develop wanderlust and head off to the big city, to experience what it has to offer, and occasionally to hitch a ride to unknown dimensions on foreign ships. The spokesman for the community is Mayor Myra Songbright.

   Amaltain is actually a human-dominated settlement located just south along the shore from Kharabys. Amaltain is known for its shipwrights and has a dedicated shipyard where quality vessels capable of both sea travel and astral voyaging are made to specification. The town was founded by a clan of men from a remote domain, a place they called Het’Ka’Ptah. Not long after the vessels of the displaced people arrived, they found that they could not relocate the passage back to their homeland. The people of Het’Ka’Ptah eventually settled on the island, migrating away from the city which they disliked due to their cultural and religious beliefs, and took up their skills as craftsmen to make boats.
   Amaltain is centered around a simple life style and the worship of a deity called Ptah, whom they believe to be a primal deity (like Ea) that is the creator of all. They have a modest temple to him in town, and believe that their crafting of goods is the most direct way to honor the creator god.

Mount Demalatar
   This single mountain is located along the southeastern region of the island, and stands alone. It is a smoldering volcano, though its heat and magma spill forth from an ancient planar gate opening directly in to the elemental plane of fire and magma. Stories of old invasions from the plane of fire, driven by the elemental king Aggaros have been told, though none know of their truth. A temple to Aggaros rests midway along the volcano’s heights, and is manned by a fiercely dedicated priesthood of planetouched.

Scorion’s Enclave and Ancient’s Pass
   Those seeking the safest passage though the Inner Mountains must use Ancient’s Pass. Here, the rogue elf lord Scorion has taken hold, managing a sophisticated operation of relic hunting and piracy, though he would claim he is an independent operator and a privateer. The pass contains a large Freeport called Scorion’s Enclave, accessible only by astral ship, and a mixed crowd that holds loyalty to none save Scorion himself. The officials of Kharabys have tried twice to root out and destroy the enclave, but each time it simply disperses and then reassembles elsewhere on the island.
   Rumor is that Scorion is seeking something out in the ruins of old, a device called the Infernal Machine, that he believes opens up a gateway to a lost chaos plane that predates even the abyss, though why or for whom he seeks this relic is uncertain.

 Plotlines in Kharabys

Campaign One:
Arrival on Isnathar

Possible Entry: The Slave Galley “Bloodcairn” of Zaag Satuna
   Zaag Satuna is a devious slaver, a tiefling sorcerer who plies his trade in human flesh. He usually stops off at Port Draemen, where slavery is welcome, and he is headed that way with his fresh cargo. The PCs may get an opportunity to escape; if they see none, then the ship will come under attack by an astral frigate under command of the naelythian privateer Delan Zigarto called the Auspicious Fury.
Crew of the Bloodcairn:
Captain Zaag Satuna (tiefling sorcerer 3, abyssal bloodline, CE)
1st Mate Peskin Torre (tengu rogue level 2, NE)
Taskmaster Martin (human fighter 2, NE)
22 armed crewmen (12 human rogues level 1 and 10 human fighters level 1)
120 slaves and oarsmen

   The PCs otherwise arrive by various means on the island, some perhaps being native, others by accident, and a few even by design. In the end, they are all to be found in the same location: a long, barren stretch of coast along the southern shores, near the small town of Staddler, or perhaps near Port Draemen:

   Staddler is a quaint little fishing town and offers no resources for trade. It consists of about two dozen families living together along the coast. They have good relations with the local Igurtas lizard men, and try to stay out of trouble. Twice a month a caravan arrives from Kharabys to do business and bring needed goods to the town. On occasion one or two of the fishermen will take a coastal cog to the city with loads of fish for sale.
   Staddler has been faced with a recent problem. It seems that a gang of gnolls have moved in to the region, and are now attempting to extort money from the village, a sort of protection racket. They have already ambushed and destroyed the caravan that was arriving for this months’ trade, and taken the caravan master Jonas Asteram hostage. The gnoll warband is apparently led by a rogue kyton named Arabasas, a former captain of the guard who was disgraced in Port Draemen over a relic smuggling scandal (rumor is he was selling abyssal relics to a holy temple of Apollo that was consecrating and destroying them!)
   The spokesperson for the town, Talner Asteram, will glady pay 500 gold pieces to mercenaries willing to secure the freedom of his brother and drive out the gnoll raiders.
   The gnolls are presently holed up in a waterside grotto, one which has been used by pirates and smugglers in times past. They have a trained bear guarding the entrance, and there are fifteen gnolls in total, as well as a tiefling rogue named Sable who was occupying the grotto before they arrived and has been playing nice so far while she continues searching for old pirate treasure in the older tunnels. Finally, they have imprisoned the human Jonas, as well as his bodyguard, an aasimar named Gleywin.
Sable (tiefling Rogue level 3 CN)
Arabasas (kyton fighter level 3 CE)
15 gnolls (standard)
Jonas (human merchant level 4 LN)
Gleywin (aasimar paladin level 2 LG)

Arriving in Port Draemen
   Draemen is a rough town, a small city with a population made up by more than half of demonically tainted beings called kytons. Any non-demonically tainted beings will have a tough time here, and death seems to be fairly easy. Despite the abyssal taint of the port, the kytons are a free population and have struggled since their rebellion to keep it that way, allowing only limited passage between the abyssal planes and the city, lest a powerful demon lord seek to usurp their control. The ruler of this city is the High Chain Lord Andressa Nytu, along with her consort, General Zanj. Less experienced adventurers may want to get out of town as quickly as possible, but it turns out that the sadistic Kyton guards will charge a hefty fee (100 gold) to open the gates to the mainland…only entrance in to the old ruins of Baranask is free!
   There are several ways that the adventurers can earn some money:

Haunted Inn: The Strangling Vine Inn is haunted by an Allip, its owner, the tiefling merchant Scarzbana will pay 200 GP to the adventurers who can drive it away. The allip is from the ghost of a woman named Teresas who as murdered on the premise (by a traveling merchant named Alsabad) and now seeks retribution.
1 Allip
1 innkeeper Scarzbana (tiefling expert level 3 LN)

Search for the Tears of Dagon: A scholar and adventurer known as Malazar Vyndasten, a cambion by blood (human half-fiend wizard level 5, NE) is offering 500 GP to a crew of mercenaries willing to escort him in to Baranask in search of a mysterious new artifact called the Tears of Dagon that have been spotted by pilgrims and relic hunters. The so-called Tears are an ancient myth, said that they were obsidian tears of blood, shed by Dagon when he was summoned to defend the city in eons’ past from invasion by the Seraphim, and no one has since seen these profane objects. Now in the space of four weeks multiple reports of an ancient plaza overgrown with assassin vines, rust monsters and ochre jellies seems to indicate that these multi-ton obsidian stones have mysteriously been found….or appeared. Malazar is elderly and not particularly good at self defense. He arrived by ship from his home in Tartarus, but along the way his own agents were slain in a pirate attack, though the ship fared well, and only his one bodyguard, the stoic knight-revenant Alimar lived (Wight, Fighter 2, LE).
   Unknown at first to the adventurers, Malzar is actually an advocate for the Titans, and he has studied long and hard to understand ways he can breach the prisons of these ancient beings trapped in tartarus. He believes that the essence within the Tears of Dagon may contain the infernal energy necessary to break the chains of the hecatonchires, which in turn may have a domino effect on the imprisonment of the other ancient titans.
   Pursuing Malazar is an agent guardian out of Tartarus, a Hound Archon named Nemesor, who can’t get in to Port Draemen without being killed, so he waits for Malazar to leave the protection of the Kyton city before he strikes. He is accompanied by a swarm of lantern archons (ten in all) to aid him.
   Should the PCs aid Nemesor instead of work against him, he will reward them with magical devices in the form of medallions of protection or other similar spell effects.
Malazar Vyndasten (half fiend human cambion wizard level 5 NE)
Alimar (wight fighter 2, LE)
6 Assassin Vines
1 Ochre Jelly
1 Rust monster
Nemesor (hound archon, LG)
10 lantern archons (LG)

The Tomb of Baron Elgaunt: A grifter and thief named Maleus Torimaer has come across a map recently, leading out of the city and out to the Tombs of ruined Baranask. He knows how to get there, but he needs willing victims to aid him in his scheme to rob the dead baron of his treasure. Elgaunt was an evil man in his time, who perished and was reborn a mane, gradually crawling his way up the ranks of demondom. He eventually became a noted Nabassu, and came to rule over Port Draemen for a time before an untimely demise during the kyton uprising. The kytons hauled the demon off and entombed it within, separating its soul and placing it in a Soul Gem. The soul gem was supposedly encased in stone and placed in the capstone of the sarcophagus which holds the nabassu’s body.
   There is a fiendish gorilla which dwells within the chambers of the tomb, as well as a number of undead guardians that rose naturally through dark taint over time. The rumor is that in Baron Elgaunt’s chest cavity rests a sculpted heart of solid platinum, worth at least 10,000 gold pieces, as well as more loot than can possibly be carried. What Maleus knows that the others don’t is it’s riddled with traps. He plans to use his “allies” to set off the traps and defeat the guardian, then he snags the heart and makes a break for it.
Maleus Torimaer (tiefling rogue 4 NE)
1 Half-fiend dire ape
24 skeletons
Various traps

Voyage of the Imperfect Maiden: The Imperfect Maiden is an astral galleon that needs crew. It plans to make a quick stop-off in Kharabys, a short trip of about three hours, and Captain Rashtyr (a werewolf expert level 4) will take 30 GP per person for payment if they seek transport, but he’ll give them a ride for free if they act as defense, and pay a 100 GP bonus if they end up successfully defending the vessel. It turns out he’s been tipped off that Scorion’s rogues in the mountains are gunning for his ship and he needs some reliable non-kyton help (he hates the kytons). Rashtyr is hauling a major relic, an ancient coffin said to hold the remains of a demon lord known only by the name Nasur. Scorion wants it for himself; the story about Nasur is that his very soul was destroyed by the Solar Seraph Metatron himself, and that his demon-flesh seethes with chaotic power, waiting to be mastered by those willing to “put it on” like a suit of armor. Rashtyr doesn’t care about the story, he has a wealthy patron in the form of Galon Skord (death knight of the Ebon Skull Order of Corlione, Espanea) who has paid handsomely for the delivery of the sarcophagus and all its contents. Galon is presently detained in Kharabys and barred from Draemen due to an “incident” in which he accidentally slew the Harbormaster of the port and was driven out in a rather impressive battle.
Captain Rashtyr (human werewolf expert level 4 LN)
1st Mate Acostor (human rogue level 1 NG)
Quartermaster Jenkins (gnome fighter level 5 LN)
Chief Medic Crookston (Troll cleric level 1 TN)
Lord Scorion (elf rogue 4 sorcerer 5 NE)
30 pirates (elf rogues level 1 NE)
Galon Skord (human skeletal champion warrior 10 LE)

Kharabys, City of Relics Copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved.