Nogoloth: The Iron Line

Wherein your humble scribe presents a couple of monsters 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.

The pampered academics at the Great University in Khaarm espouse countless theories about the nature, history, and ultimate destination of the Iron Line. The earthier scholars of Canton-on-Imisk have different opinions; some have even followed the Line deep into the windswept mountains of the north in search of hard, scientific truth. But even the hardiest investigators have been forced to turn back well before reaching the Line’s terminus. It seems that each of the several expeditions sent to identify the source of the Line has been driven back – smaller than it was when it embarked, as is grimly expected by the professors and administrators – due to some singular concatenation of events and circumstances or another, all of which seem natural and plausible enough to the casual observer. But that nineteen souls have perished in the pursuit of something as simple as what lies at the other end of a 3′ wide ribbon of iron that is sunken so throughly within the bones of the earth – extending no less than 10 feet deep, even in the hardest of bedrock – has brought something of a sense of doom to the Iron Line and its mystery.

The course of the Iron Line, which has been mapped thoroughly within the areas settled by man, runs from the edge of the cliff that rises above the port of Pnikigystros in the south and winds its way across much of the civilized regions of Nogoloth – passing as it does within no less than 1/2 mile of each of the other major cities, and sometimes through them – before taking its turn into the northern mountains. At any given moment the Iron Line may feel incredibly warm or icy cold to the touch, often radiating significantly different levels of heat a mere handspan apart. Some dedicated observers of the Iron Line report that under certain conditions (time of year, weather, and other factors contribute) the Line seems to sing (very softly) a complex, undulating melody that stirs melancholy and dread within the audience. That some people appear utterly unable to hear this song even as those next to them are able to describe what they are hearing with exquisite detail only furthers the mystery of this Nogolothian oddity.


Resembling a hideous and eldritch amalgam of insect, ape and lizard, Q’agpthah live in the caves that dot the high passes of the northern mountains. These beasts possess a cunning, if rudimentary, intelligence and have displayed an aggressive nature that makes them a significant threat to any who seek to travel through the mountains – whether attempting to follow the Iron Line or pursuing other business. Those who have risked their lives to observe these beings’ society – such as it is – report that the Q’agpthah appear to worship regularly at a hieroglyphic-covered altar deep within their mountain caves that clearly could not have been produced by their limited culture. According to the hastily written notes in the field journal of a researcher who has since taken his own life, the Q’agpthah also possess several similarly-inscribed tablets from which they appear to read, though this is doubtless a case of the creatures imitating human behavior rather than observing a true liturgy.

Strength 3
Agility 1
Mind 0

Combat Abilities
Attack with Two Claws +1 each; d6+2 damage each
Defense: 0
Protection: d3 (thick fur, chitin, and scales)
Lifeblood: 15

The Tablets of L’thuggothaaa

Within the dark and twisting caves of the Q’agpthah there lies a large chamber – clearly hewn from the rock by some intelligent hand – which serves as the creatures’ Cathedral. An iron altar – stamped and etched with hieroglyphs of a language unrecognizable even to scholars steeped in the deepest mysteries of Nogolothian lore. Atop this altar rest the Tablets of L’thuggothaaa, a pair of ancient stone tablets inscribed with blasphemies so mind-shattering that they have destroyed the minds of all who have read them – including the entire race of alien beings now called “Q’agpthah” by the men of Nogoloth. These tablets, unlike the altar upon which they rest, are written in a language similar to the Star Tongue of the Elds and may potentially be deciphered by any who have studied that damnable tongue.

Game Information: A person who acquires and deciphers the Tablets of L’thuggothaaa – neither of these is an easy task – will immediately be granted the Power of the Void and Magic of the Sorcerer Kings boons. The unfortunate soul who read these words will also be burdened with terrible knowledge that will manifest itself in the form of the Unsettling and Morgazzon’s Curse flaws. As is always the case with Morgazzon’s Curse, the exact nature of the flaw is left to the GM.


Small, grey-furred cat-like beasts that inhabit the caves deep within the northern mountains of Nogoloth, Ilthoth-eg are set apart from the “normal” wildcats of the region by their abundance of eyes. A typical Ilthoth-eg possesses somewhere between 7 and 11 eyes arrayed across their bodies. Though not truly intelligent, these animals chitter and whisper their previous victims’ words as they stalk their prey through the darkness of the caves.

Strength 0
Agility 4
Mind −1

Combat Abilities
Attack with Bite +4; d6-1
Defense: 5
Protection: d3-1 (light fur)
Lifeblood: 8

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0 thoughts on “Nogoloth: The Iron Line

  1. G-man

    Nice . . . getting a sort of Dreamlands feel, here, maybe even something post-apocalyptic about the Iron Line? Alien technology? It’s a good mystery.

    Does Canton-on-Imisk function as a ‘base’ for adventures? Interesting idea, having an acadmeic setting as a hub for PC’s, vs. the traditional tavern or Big City.

    Have you paired down the potential rules systems for Nogoloth?

    1. the venomous pao Post author

      Thanks, G-Man! I don’t feel that this one is quite up to the level I reached with the Drakemorton Hole, but I do enjoy it. Interesting trivia: The Iron Line was the original name I came up with when I was brainstorming the Hole. But it obviously didn’t make sense there, so I shelved it. And then this idea came to me. Kooky!

      I’m glad the Dreamlands feel came through, since that’s a big part of what I was going for with this. Alien technology is definitely in the mix, too.

      Canton-on-Imisk is definitely a good base for PCs. Using the academic setting as the anchor seems more in-line with some of what I have kicking around in my head, at least when compared to taverns and such.

      Sadly, I’m no closer to nailing down the system for Nogoloth than I was when I started. LL, BRP, Mini Six and BoL all offer their own strengths and it’s hard to choose among them. I do think that any final output will have to be dual-statted at least (where possible – some things really don’t translate between some of those systems).

      I’m occasionally poking at some quick-n-dirty conversion rules to do BoL-to-LL and BoL-to-Mini Six (to go along with the BoL-to-BRP ones I’ve already got on the blog), which might make it possible to do NPC and monster stats in BoL only. Fingers crossed that I can actually come up with stuff I feel works well enough to use that way!

      1. G-Man

        I’m on a bit of a Stormbringer kick lately, but I can really see this system as an alternative to my Number-One-Golden-Child pick, BoL. If you combined some of the Stormbringer rules (esp. HP=CON modified by SIZ), with later edition Elric! (esp. the 2d6+6 chargen, step 6, and attack/riposte skills over 90%), you get something approaching true ‘heroic’ flavor, tough enough to face Eldritch Horrors Hand-to-Tentacle, yet still deadly and dark. Tack on the magic system of CoC (not RuneQuest or BRP), which really emulates Lovecraftian flavor, maybe even Allegiances, and we’re looking at the sublime. Likely a little too stat-heavy for my tastes (which is why I prefer BoL), but players looking for more crunch would probably like it.

          1. G-Man

            Ran out of reply space I guess, but you’re right . . . a quick perusal of my “Gold” BRP book shows that ‘Sorcery’ looks sort of like old RQ ‘Spirit Magic’ in that no roll is made to cast the spell and ‘Magic’ looks like what we used to call ‘Sorcery’ in that it is more fiddly and has variable effects per level. So consider me corrected!

          2. the venomous pao Post author

            I live to correct 🙂 But seriously, I’m sorry my terminology confused ya. I really only know the terms from the BGB since I’m a late comer to the BRP party.

            BRP Magic has a place, but for this kind of thing I definitely wouldn’t use it, for sure.

        1. the venomous pao Post author

          There’s no doubt that BRP (and when I say BRP I almost invariably mean “BRP as presented in the Big Gold Book” – where most of the Elric!/Stormbringer stuff supersedes the Runequest stuff) is a strong, strong contender. In fact, if this becomes something I run for my players the odds are great that that’s exactly how we’d play.

          Adding in SAN and Allegiances would be likely, too. Personally, I’d be prone to stick with the BRP Sorcery system (which is the same as Elric!), but that’s mostly due to a general unfamiliarity with the CoC system. An issue that will be remedied shortly now that I have an actual copy of CoC in my hands thanks to a good friend.

          Possibly interesting note: The rules amalgam outlined above is exactly the system I’m using for (a) that Arabian Nights thing I’ve been running (and am currently stalled on) and (b) the Dark-but-not-Lovecraftian fantasy setting I’ve run a couple of times. Craziness!

          1. G-Man

            I’ve said it before, V.P: Great Minds.

            BRP sorcery is a bit too mechanistic for me. Reminscent of GURPS. CoC spells seem more colorful and “literary,” though you might need to add some attack and defense spells to pad out all the summonings and rituals.

          2. the venomous pao Post author

            Hmm. Are you thinking of BRP Magic rather than BRP Sorcery, by any chance? Magic is definitely mechanistic, with a skill roll to cast the spell and such. Sorcery, on the other hand, is the system from Elric! with the serial numbers filed off. You just cast the spell and it happens. Which, unless my general lack of familiarity with CoC is screwing me up, is pretty much the same as that system. It’s just that CoC spells cost SAN, while core BRP spells don’t. Though I’d certainly tack that on to spells that seemed to need it.

  2. bat

    You are an unequalled genius at these creations. I cannot even begin to compare to this post. Sometimes you make me want to cry and pack it up, but it is a great drive.

    Keep up the awesome work my friend.

    1. the venomous pao Post author

      Aw shucks, bat! You’re making me blush! 😀

      But let’s be honest here, the stuff you’ve been doing at Ancient Vaults (for TWO YEARS as of tomorrow! Endurance thy name is bat.) is absolutely badass and unquestionably the equal of – and often superior to – my work. Anyone who says different (including you!) gets an earful from me. So no packing up of anything, dude! Your contributions to the old school geek rebellion are immeasurably valuable, and I mean that, comrade.