Wherein your humble scribe presents a monster and an artifact (in Barbarians of Lemuria format) that he whipped up for his nascent Lovecraftian Fantasy setting, Nogoloth, as he continues to dither on which system to use for such things. You might note that this makes two BoL-based Nogoloth entries in a row. Make of that what you will.
In the port city of Pnikigystros, on the southernmost shore of Nogoloth, there stands an ruined church – once consecrated to St. Xavier of the Kettle, according to the few ancient residents who can recall the times before it was boarded-up and abandoned for reasons unspoken. Despite its dilapidation and lack of occupants, the bells of this cathedral still ring out at dusk and dawn on odd days – days that some claim are holy to the darker gods who hold sway over the affairs of man and beast. The mournful tolling of the bells can be heard from one end of Pnikigystros to the other, even in the fine mansions atop Owl Hill. The people of the city take extra care on these days, when bad luck and murder are in the air. Sailors refuse to weigh anchor on these days, and children who are born between the ringing of the bells are quite often sickly and haunted in appearance.
The residents of the neighborhood where the church stands – called Blacksend by those who dwell there – shun this structure, crossing to the other side of the street and spitting on the ground when they must pass by it as they hurry down Margrave Lane. In the early evening, when the blood red light from the setting sun streams through the building’s high stained glass windows and plays upon the cobblestones outside its doors, even the least superstitious folk choose a route that avoids that sullen street entirely, regardless of the distance that traversing Margrave might save.
In other places of the world one might expect that such a structure would attract the attention of curious children or, perhaps, the interest of a criminal element that might seek to take advantage of such a blighted place, to engage in their unlawful activities out of the watchful eye of the constabulary. But in Pnikigystros, one finds nothing of the sort. My own efforts to recruit urchins or footpads to investigate the church further on my behalf – a system which has proven useful in other areas of Nogoloth, as you’ll recall – have fallen upon willfully deaf ears. Once word reached the broader communities of these sources of inexpensive explorers I found that I was unable even to complete a friendly exchange with such citizens.
If not for the willingness of a certain sea captain and his crew of less-than-sterling repute I might never have found anyone to enter the edifice in question and secure for me the bronze vessel that proved to to be precisely where a particular venerable verger with a tongue loosened by various libations had indicated it would be found. That only the first mate of the Green Phoenix – a peculiar man named Crawford Fowler, whose bearing and features implied a connection to the Cwnuihd Fowlers – delivered the item to me, with a blank stare and far less interest in his payment than I was led to expect from one of his sort, is of no matter.
I must confess that even I – engrossed as I was in my examinations of the Kettle – was slightly unnerved upon hearing that the pirates’ ship – after sitting quietly vacant at the docks for weeks – was suddenly no longer moored there on the 22nd morning after the breeching of the church – a morning, one should note, that followed the tolling of the Bells of Pnikigystros.
Anthrognaath are large (2′ to 4′ long) centipedes with the faces of men. These creatures come from somewhere else, entering our world through various arcane devices that typically contain liquids, such as bowls, cauldrons and kettles. Anthrognaath are quite intelligent and often possess significant magical knowledge, but are unable to wield it in their natural forms. For this reason, they seek out sentient host beings into whose body they burrow once the neurotoxin from their bite takes effect. Once inside a host, the Anthrognaath is able to use its arcane abilities through the form it has hijacked. The process of Anthrognaath “possession” does hideous damage to the host being, who will typically survive no more than several weeks, during which time the Anthrognaath will actively seek out new potential hosts.
Attack with Bite +2; d6-2 plus poison
Protection: d6-2 (chitin)
A person damaged by the bite of an Anthrognaath must make a Demanding Strength check or become paralyzed in d3 rounds. This paralysis lasts for d3 hours, during which time an Anthrognaath will invade the victim’s body, effectively killing the victim. One an Anthrognaath has so co-opted a body, the host creature will still outwardly resemble its former self, but will in fact be home to the Anthrognaath’s evil mind and powerful arcane abilities. Such unwilling sorcerers possess an Arcane Power of 15 and a Sorcerer career rank of 3.
The Bronze Kettle Of Mithathu
The Bronze Kettle Of Mithathu is a damnable relic of an ancient time. Some two feet in diameter and perpetually cold to the touch, the metal that comprises its form is stamped and carven with obscure runes which are a variant on the Star Tongue of the Elds – hard to decipher but clearly full of dire warnings and other such language designed to dissuade casual use of the item.
The possessor of the Bronze Kettle of Mithathu is highly resistant to all extremes of temperature (a Boon that grants an extra die when rolling to resist such effects). Further, all second and third magnitude spell cast by the possessor receive a bonus die when cast and their Arcane Power costs are reduced by 3 AP.
However, a darkness lingers over the artifact. Every time the Kettle is used as part of a summoning spell, there is a 1-in-3 chance that the summoned creature will immediately attack the magician who calls it forth, regardless of any precautions taken to prevent this. Further, all spells cast with the power of the Kettle permanently drain one Lifeblood from the caster. Lastly, at dusk and dawn on the holy days of the Dark Gods, there is a 1-in-6 chance that an Anthrognaath will emerge from the Kettle in search of a host creature.
Hey! It’s that eldritch-seeking Fagin from the Drakemorton estate again. I’m filing a CPS report on that guy.
As if giant, extra-dimensional centipedes with human faces crawling out of assorted liquids aren’t creepy enough . . . you’ve got them burrowing into people, too. Ack.
You know where I stand on the whole rules-system thing. Good to see two in a row for BoL. Reading over your description of the magic kettle, it strikes me how readily the BoL magic system applies itself to this Lovecraftian stuff.
Yeah, that dude is not a good person. Then again, it’s possible that the authorities approve of his methods since they help thin out the undesirables a bit. Nogoloth is a harsh place 🙂
Glad you found the Anthrognaath appropriately creepy. They might be a bit more WS Burroughs (at least as seen by David Cronenberg) than HP Lovecraft, but they seemed to fit well enough.
And you’re dead on about the BoL approach to magic working well for thigns Lovecraftian. That may well be what seals the deal. That and the fact that I’m becoming even more convinced that BoL can serve as a very good point from which to adapt things to another system. It’s not always going to be clean and simple, but if things are described loosely enough (as they’re bound to be for BoL) then a GM who wants to make use of this stuff for D&D or BRP or D6 (and so on) doesn’t have to fight against the highly system-specific stuff you get with any of those rule sets.
Yes, something needs to be done about this fellow of ill repute and his ways!
What’s the tech level and era setting for Nogoloth. Initially i pictured it as very Clarke Ashton Smith – a sort of Hyborian age society clinging to the few safe spots in world gone dark and dangerous.
But it appears to be more a 16th century setting, right?
The universe has its own ways of dealing with miscreants like this fellow. Well, my universe does, anyway 🙂
You know, Gobbo, I’m still struggling with that kind of detail. I think you’re right, although I’m inclined to lean a little earlier in the Renaissance. But that could just be because I haven’t really thought it through. It’s definitely post Dark Ages (or perhaps a world where the Dark Ages never happened, per se), though at present there’s clearly no firearm usage. I’m torn, really, on just exactly what technology to include. Sailing seems fairly well advanced, perhaps slightly ahead of the 16th Century even.
I should probably sit down with a copy of the Civilization IV tech tree and figure out where all the individual bits and bobs stand 🙂