Friday, December 17, 2010

Gygaxian Democracy #3: Like 'Diamonds Are Forever' Only Not

Still doing the thing where we crowdsource some D&D stuff...

Like 'Diamonds Are Forever' Only Not

Shriekglass is a translucent lurid greenish substance made from the solidified cries of dead virgins. It is being smuggled into the city/country/etc. by a ring of thieves (most of whom think it's merely a strange form of amber or emerald).

Do the PCs steal the shriekglass away to interrupt this grisly trade or merely to sell it for themselves? It's not important.

What is important is that the stones are an essential ingredient for the Marilith demon who secretly runs the ring to unleash some form of ritual awfulness on the unsuspecting gameworld.

What's also important is, in addition to the Marilith and her dupes, several other parties are also interested in the shriekglass, for reasons of their own.

All will use guile and deception to approach the PCs and determine whether they have the glass.

The various interested parties and their means of approach are...

21 comments:

  1. A Wizard will approach the PCs, whether or not they have any shriekglass, and tell them he will pay a good price for the magical substance. He will be very blunt about his wants, and doesn't seem to care who knows.

    The Wizard wants the shriekglass to use in making the ocular components of a mechanical beholder.

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  2. The local thieves' guild will approach the PCs while they are asleep, and attempt to outright steal the stones in a "second story" job. The motivation for the thieves' guild is that, when you boil holy water with the stones in a pot, the water when consumed makes you impossible to attack directly. Others' perception of you changes to that of the most benevolent person possible, and removes any motivation for them to attack or harm. You are *not* impervious to harm, however the thieves' guild doesn't know that last part.

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  3. A competing adventuring party of near opposites (twisted mirror style) want the shriekglass to use as a hostage with which to negotiate power from the marilith.

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  4. Kanarin is the last surviving member of Shaik'ha Arrameth's legendary virgin harem. It seems that the last batch of Shriekglass was collected en masse in a daring raid of Arrameth's palace while he and his royal guard were out on a campaign to secure the verdant vineyards of the Northern border. Kanarin managed to escape by an act of her daring and cunning (hiding underwater, in a closet, dangling from the outside of a window ledge) and now attempts to recollect the last physical traces of her former fellow-virgin concubines.

    Kanarin approaches the PCs at first requesting some appropriate non-glass related hero service (escort to a city, protection from an assassin, recovery of a fictional family treasure) then uses her time with the PCs to try and seduce one or all of them (she is incredibly adept at all non-intercourse related sexual acts) to discern the presence or absence of the S.Glass.

    If she finds the PCs with the glass she will attempt a sneaky midnight abscond, and if discovered, will spill the truth, playing on the PCs sympathies. She will never physically attack the PCs, but if made desperate enough, will attempt to manipulate others to do so.

    If Kanarin is captured and returned to Arrameth, he kills her and provides a reward of one mildly-enchanted emerald-per-PC.

    If Kanarin is not discovered, allowed to, or compelled to stay with the party - eventually a small detachment of Arrameth's royal guard will arrive to find her (they are ignorant of the S.Glass).

    If Kanarin is given the S.Glass she will leave, and travel South to some appropriately famous religious landmark, to attempt to contact her fellow virgins in the afterlife and let 'em know she got their screams back.

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  5. A group of bedraggled mendicants, claiming to represent the Orphanage of St. Aloysius, patron saint of possums, stevedores, and the excessively sweaty, enters town. They attempt to befriend the party, offering protection from diseases if accepted by the PCs. The group will mention that they are searching for rare ingredients for a poultice which the Orphanage’s herbalist needs to treat the children. Some have come down with the lethal malady of Lava Shits, a dire fate indeed. The group will first attempt to convince the party to willingly offer the shriekglass. They next will attempt to steal it when the party sleeps; then, if not discovered, a betrayal at a most inconvenient time for the PCs. Finally, outright attack will be used.

    The group is actually a band of Nurgle cultists, seeking the shriekglass for their druid. He believes powdering the substance and using it for fertilizer will mutate his collection of shriekers and violet fungi. The shriekers, when successfully hit, would release a roomful of yellow mold spores. The violet fungi, when hit, would ooze green slime. (The druid is correct). The cultists’ cure for disease is actually a sort of anti-flu shot. Anyone receiving their disease protection will fight off all but the most potent sicknesses for d6 weeks, then gradually become consumed with a horrible, festering pox of boils and open sores.

    Unknown to the cultists, a band from the Temple of St. Aloysius is also searching for shriekglass. They want it not for orphans, but as an ingredient for a potion which will convincingly make the imbiber appear dead for a week while remaining fully aware of his/her surroundings and able to snap out of the state at any time. They are roaming the countryside, posing as traveling mimes.

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  6. A duo of half-orcs named Wint and Kidd approach the party at a pub; they are posing as waiters. If they even remotely suspect the PCs have the shriekglass or know of its whereabouts, they will wait until the PCs leave, then tail them until an opportune moment presents itself (e.g., a dark alley). They will then ambush the party with the help of 1d6 hobgoblin thugs. (Maybe they have a vial of sleep gas, and Wint and Kidd and the thugs have breather masks to escape its effects when burst amidst the party.) Their intent will be to kill or disable all but the wimpiest-looking party member, who they will then haul away to a warehouse for serious interrogation.

    Wint and Kidd and the hobgoblin thugs ultimately work for an ogre mage named Stavro von Blofeld who wants the shriekglass for use in an as-yet-incomplete magnifier device that harnesses sunlight (and/or moonlight?), focusing it into a destructive death-ray of some kind.

    (Sorry, you mentioned "Diamonds Are Forever," one of my FAVORITE Bond films. . . )

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  7. Lorgtion Kagree is a 30th level wizard. He needs it to lure a Xorn, but he cannot allow the creature to actually get the S. Glass as Shriekglass combined with Xorn blood is a crucial component in turning into a Lich. He will transport the players into an alternate dimension when they are asleep, if they have the Shriekglass. While in this dimension the players will find that they are 1d6 miles from their previous location, and missing the Shriekglass. Otherwise they appear to have remained in Vornheim, except that the inhabitants will be subtly different. Unless they manage to figure out what happened within 3 weeks he will begin turning into a lich, at which point the spell will collapse and they will be transported back to Vornheim, 10d6 miles away from their current location, or 2d100 miles from Lorgtion's home (This could be a good three minute dungeon). If they attack the smugglers but cannot defeat them, he will retrieve the Shriekglass from the smugglers while they are weakened from the attack.

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  8. I really hope this makes sense, I'm rally sleepy right now and I'm not sure if words mean what I think they do...

    --------------------------------------------

    The PCs will be questioned by a well armed group of the area's primary law enforcement agency. Upon finding (planted) evidence of illegal activities, the agents/guards/whatever will take the party into custody.

    Unarmed and unable to escape from prison, the PCs will be approached by an officer that will offer them to let them go free if they accept make some discreet errands for the city guard.

    If they accept, they will have to find the shriekglass smugglers ring (they will be given some starting info), learn everything they can from them (how do they smuggle it, who are the suppliers, where does it come from,...) and give this info to the guard. Of course, to ensure they are not simply going to vanish the moment thy go out the door, the party will be inoculated with some form of nastiness (a poison that needs certain specific antitoxin / an explosive device prepared to unbrain them / a curse than will turn their innards into outnards...) that will be safely taken back after the job is done.

    The truth is that all the guards involved are either false or in the payroll of another thief ring, a rival of the smugglers, that wants to eliminate their competitors and keep all their businesses.

    The second ring plan expects the PCs to learn something and be discovered and killed by the smugglers (as that's what has happened to all previous "investigators") but, hopefully, at that time they will already have the info they need to attack. If this comes to happen, they will plant evidence blaming the PCs (living or otherwise) for all the bloodshed and the ruckus.

    Just to be sure they get the info, the mean to ensure the PCs cooperation is secretly also a way to extract info from their minds.

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  9. During some moment when the PCs are generally isolated from the public-at-large (on an empty road into "town"; asleep in an inn/stronghold/house; camping) they are met with the following seemingly random encounter. A gang of large (random dumb monster of appropriate type) are chasing a lone human. The human is a) extremely badly injured, b) has his/her mouth sewn shut, and c) wearing a breastplate of incredible quality.

    Should the PCs do nothing, the gang of whatever takes the lone human down, kills it, cheers in triumph and leaves (without touching the body). If the PCs have a chance to intercede, the gang will still have a very good chance of killing the lone human. If the PCs stop the gang and save the human, any attempt to treat the wounds of the human, or to free the human's mouth will happen only moments before the human's death.

    All of this is true because the interested party in this case is the ornate breastplate worn by the human. The gang has been hired to kill the human captive in front of you in the hopes that a PC will loot and wear the extremely attractive and effective breastplate which is actually a shapeshifting mercury golem. At any moment when the party is asleep, or otherwise unaware, the breastplate will slowly transform into a semi-liquid humanoid and search for the S.Glass before reforming into the form of a breastplate. If the PCs are not careful they will simply wake up one day to find the armor and the glass gone (if the glass is carryable).

    The mercury golem was spawned from an enchanted lake which can give life to any inanimate object submerged within. The lake has (over the years) become sentient and desires to make an elite force of liquid Shriekglass golems for itself. In addition to the mercury-golem-breastplate the lake in question has a number of other solid/liquid golems who act as its agents.

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  10. The Boy will take your Shadow. You can't really stop The Boy from taking your shadow; he's extraordinarily fast with his scissors & soap. The Boy wants the shriekglass to make a special mirror that will let him get to The Girl who is wandering the planes without him. He will extort the players for their shadows back-- they can't: (1d4) heal without them (1), gain xp without them (2), speak in any language except infernal without them (3), see sunlight without them (4).

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  11. A trio of Succubi, shapechanged into two female clerics of Celestian and one female Paladin. However, their language skills in the local dialect are so poor that that the DM must use his or her best Eastern European accent and mistranslation. For example, "May Celestian shine his Eternal Light" becomes "May I Shine my Golden Gift on your Lighthouse".

    I love my D&D to have creativity and seriousness involved, but I play with my friends on Wednesdays and we drink alot. We need dirty jokes and bad accents.

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  12. Tahlla is a nymph who lived in the grove where the city currently stands. She has spent the entire time since the founding of the city, and her concurrent murder, haunting the city in ghost form searching for some measure of the physical pleasures she experienced during her life. She has known for some time that she can taste Shriekglass despite her ghostly nature, and that it causes a sensation very akin to an orgasm, so whenever she hears about Shriekglass entering the city (and she has learned who to eavesdrop on to find out about it), she does everything in her power to get it in her possession.

    In the past, she has seduced a male who is guarding it to steal it for her (doing her best to hide that she's a ghost), before she kills him in the most pleasurable way she can so he can't betray her to the rightful owners of the Shriekglass. She is unlikely to change tactics unless there are no males guarding it, in which case she might resort to seducing a local thief to do the job for her.

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  13. @SirAllen:

    Yes, you supply the creativity, and the rest of the people provide seriousness, right? :)

    Also, can I use that trio of Succubi in my idea for a second person?

    ----
    And here's my second idea:

    Gurgle the Foolish is an evil Eladrin cleric of Unjumsh, also know as, The Foul One, or The Muck King. To be continued:

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  14. 1) The Dead Virgins. (2D6 of whatever Undead you like. Banshees? Wraiths?) Their solidified screams are anchoring them to this world, and they feel exactly the same as they did when they made the screams in the first place. Such is the misery of their torturous existence that they will attack brazenly and fanatically, trying to retrieve their screams and not afraid to kill anyone in the way.

    They must abscond with the shriekglass and shatter it within aural range of their bodies. If they are prevented from doing this, they will rise each night and wreak havoc, endlessly pursuing whomever is responsible and mindlessly wreaking havoc along the way.

    2) A ruthless band of the clergy. The Militant Friar John Posrick leads the posse. He is essentially a witchhunter from Warhammer Fantasy. Knowing the risks involved in the creation of shriekglass, he is tracking the theft, hoping to bring firey burning justice to anyone involved in the situation and banishing any undead side-effects.

    He may consider allying himself with a party who was A) sufficiently detached from the theft B) of sufficiently benevolent reputation and C) actively interested in the retrieval of the blasphemous object with intent to turn it over to him immediately. Any incidental 'treasure' taken from the immolated heretics will be left to said party. This party may not necessarily be the PCs.

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  15. Oh, apparently I glazed of the "Guile and Deception' bit. FINE.

    The Militant Friar John Posrick will pose as the charismatic and harmless Friar Davide Cooper. As Davide, he will promise the PCs riches from the church coffers for their assistance, imploring them to help return the shriekglass to the clergy so that they may destroy it sanctimoniously and rid the world of the undead threat left in its wake. They will then call in the cavalry, as it were, to start warhammering and conflagrating everyone involved.

    One more by way of repetance.

    3)Dopplegangers! Agents sent by the Thrice Annointed Viceroy Of The Barony Of Faire Whisperwood, Leithelielm Skunkdream. The Dopplegangers have been sent to retrive the shriekglass as it, along with several other rare items, are required to wake The Prime Thinker Of Faire Whisperwood, who has been cursed with eternal slumber whilst fulfilling his Geas'd quest! The Prime Thinker slowly falls to entropy as he sleeps away the precious days allowed for his quest. Elves did it.

    The Dopplegangers will kill/replace anyone they feel like in order to obtain the Shriekglass and whisk it away through the moon shadows of a gibbous moon and into the misty halls of Lake Whisperwood.

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  16. A twofer:

    An enterprising, but failed, necromancer and his glass-making nephew have combined their knowledge to make counterfeit Shriekglass.

    Their product physically appears to resemble the glass, but has exhibited none of the known or repudiated properties of actual Shriekglass.

    They need some samples of the genuine Shriekglass to pass off as their own, in order to pay off their creditors or leave town.

    They will approach the PCs about the possibility of procuring some Shriekglass, perhaps trading some of their own, but have little of monetary value to offer in exchange.

    If refused, the pair will attempt to steal the glass themselves or with the help of a gang of pick-pockets and street kids.

    ***

    An aged Ocularist has fashioned an experimental prototype: magical spectacles made from Shriekglass.

    They failed to produce the desired effect, but members of a sect of Sun-worshipers claim to have witnessed fantastic and ecstatic revelations while viewing the world through the Shriekglass spectacles at sundown.

    The glasses have been stolen. Whether by a common thief, the adherents of a rival faith, or by another member or faction within the sect, is unknown.

    As a result, the Ocularist has gone into hiding. Or at least he had, until he approached the PCs, begging for help.

    The followers of the Sun Cult will attempt to obtain both the Ocularist and more Shriekglass by any means at their disposal. They have modest financial means, but a large and varied following. There are certainly town officials and assassins among them.

    The possible possession of the spectacles by the Sun cult has many leaders of rival temples and faiths worried about their power-base and potential for lost revenues if the Sun cult gains in followers. Because of this risk, they will attempt to stop the PCs from circulating the Shriekglass.
    Again, they too have a large and varied following...

    The Sun-worshiping cultists may also approach the party, at first requesting, and then demanding they give them any of the Shriekglass.

    Other religious orders may do the same.

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  17. When ground into a fine powder, the shriekglass is the only known cure for a terrible wasting disease afflicting a race of shapechangers/doppelgangers/changelings. This disease arrests their shape changing abilities and eventually turns them into solid glass statues.

    Disguised as clerics of a church of healing, the changelings will approach the PCs and tell them that the glass is poisonous by its very presence -- some will pose as victims of this effect, all boils and melting flesh -- and that only by taking it back to their church for blessing can it be made safe.

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  18. An Elven Swordsman of the 'BladeSinger' variety has learned of a way to use the spell Glassteel in combination with others to make a 'Singing Sword' of Shriekglass.

    He is presently haunted by the ghost of a Human virgin maiden whose death screams are part of the collection the PCs have. The Elf, who loves this maiden as much in death as he did in life, has sworn vengence for her upon the culprits of her demise. He intend to use this secret weapon, once made, to destroy the Marilith and its operation.

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  19. Carmine and Ao, two high-level illusionists are interested in the stones, but only as a means to determine which of them is the best. They know exactly how many stones there are and have given themselves 72 hours in which to procure and many stones as possible. Whoever has the most at the end of that time is the winner.

    The rules are simple -- the stones may only be obtained through the use of illusions with the exception that each illusionist can directly interact with the PCs if they so desire. Thus, stones may be stolen by Phantom Monsters, or by an illusionist disguised with an Alter Self or Invisibility (or in their real guises if they wish), but they can't use an illusion on some henchmen to help him get the stones.

    Carmine prefers the more direct approach and will actively seek out and interact with the PCs. He will be "the friendly wizard" who helps the PCs stop his own rampaging phantom monsters to try and gain their confidence.

    Ao will attempt to use phantom duplicates of the PCs to sow confusion and gain control of the stones.

    Both will employ fake shriek stones (rocks with some sort of glamour on them) and larger illusions (such as turning a barn into the local police headquarters where the PCs can safely turn over the stones to the authorities). Further, as the numerous rival groups show up, the illusionists will look for ways to use them to get at the stones (although they can only take the stones from the rivals via illusion or personally as with the PCs).

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  20. I'm late, so I'm turning to a Tarot deck to answer the burning questions here:

    Q: Who are the interested party? A: King of Swords Reversed

    A political ruler in a nearby area. Very intelligent, and wants you to know it.

    Q: What's their motive for the glass? A: Three of Swords

    The King (or whatever suits you) is a widower with one young child - a son. This son is his life - every decision he makes for his kingdom is made with the Prince's future in mind, not necessarily the people's. Still, what's good for the future King is often what's good for his subjects - until recently. The boy hasn't been seen at Court for months. In the meantime the King has ordered all virgins of either gender of the correct age to come to Court and be presented to the Prince. Thus far dozens have had their audience, which is held in private. None have returned.

    The truth is that his son died months ago and the King temporarily went mad with grief. The Marilith demon is taking advantage of this. She revived the corpse as a lich (implanting the soul of a devotee in the boy's place), which convinced the father his son wasn't dead, merely "gravely ill," and that somewhere in the kingdom there was a virgin lover whose embrace was the only cure. Of course, each time the King checks in after another loud, terrible "audience" he discovers a dead virgin, an apologetic corpse-son and a fresh coat of awful green glass coating the room.

    The thieves are double-agents - they've been hired by the King to get rid of this grisly evidence, but also by the Marilith to bring it to her.

    Recently the King found a passage in an old tome describing the shriekglass and its uses, including a description of the ritual awfulness. While he's too deep in denial to question his son or his motives, he is now suspicious of the thieves and will have them and their cargo watched. Ultimately he wants to recover the glass for safekeeping, and will only allow one more batch to exit the castle.

    Q: What's his game in getting it from the PCs? A: Ten of Wands Reversed

    The thieves and their last shipment are being tailed by undercover agents of the King, with the goal of A: seeing where they take the shriekglass, B: killing them afterwards, and C: recovering as much as possible. They will try to accomplish as many of these goals as possible no matter the PCs actions.

    To insure success, the King had this shipment cursed before letting it leave the castle - anyone in possession of it cannot willingly give it up. Should the PCs take it from the thieves, they won't be able to part with it (they don't have to have it on their person, but they can't knowingly take any action to leave it behind, sell it, give it to someone or toss it in a hole, etc.). Once this is evident, the agents will approach them, explain the curse, and offer the following lie - they will lift the curse if the PCs figure out where the thieves were taking the glass. Obviously, they intend to kill them once they do. The real way to lift the curse is to give the glass back to the person that cursed it - the King.

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