Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Great Adventure Hooks in Art History 3: The Fish of Vettersfelde

The Fish of Vettersfelde

So this fish. Found as part of a gold hoard in Poland, the fish is typical of the Scythian zoomorphic style. The fish has other fish on it, plus panthers and deers and stuff. "Scythian" is kind of a collective name for a not-exactly-mongols central-asian-but-wide-ranging group of nomadic tribes whose impression on literate peoples might be best visualized as Dothraki but actual plus the women fought alongside the men rather than sitting on gazelle hides going "It is known" like some kind of dirt-smeared grassland feelies in an Eclipse Phase thread. Also they had very distinctive metalwork, often gold, usually animals, always with a long rollercoastering line and rhythmic proportions similar to what we know of central Asian tattoos and always with these golf-hole eyes.

We know little of the Scythians actual lives or leaders. This fish was found buried along with some circular medallions and a sheath. Nobody knows what any of it was doing that far north.

But all that has changed because here's this blog entry...

The Fish of Vettersflede isn't art and would be depressed to hear me say it was. Actually it probably would just ignore me or pretend to because it is a god.

A god of the Scythians, to be exact, The Fish Of Roaming, who appears in mid-day dreams. One day a shocked fisherman drew him wriggling from the River Frigid (that's what they call it, they don't know what you call it) on a winter morning in the Hollow Year and brought him to Orvet the Taking Prince, who put the god in a broad trough on high, wide wheels to be dragged behind his raiding train for luck and good counsel.

The god (a small member of one of the philosopher species, related to the aboleth) bored of this situation quickly and demanded the Prince free him. The prince's oracles and witches advised against it. On an abandoned plain, beneath a shining sun, before all the raiding riders, the fish god cut a deal in two parts:

The prince would be granted one wish.
The god would be released into the sea.

Orvet then displayed poor judgment. "Very well, small god," said Orvet "before I give you up, I wish for everything on this plain to be turned to gleaming gold".

And all the tents turned to gold, and all the ropes holding them, and all the tent-stakes and carpets and all the straps and leather and the meat inside and all the goats and all the arrows in their gold quivers and the horses and the daggers in their sheaths, and all the tiny socket-eyed animals that they'd collected and all the Scythians, and Orvet, and the Fish of Roaming as well and all the other things on the plain.

Weeks later, three thieves adventurers from the north came upon what was once a tribe and was now a pile. They took all they could carry, including the fish, buried the rest under the sand, and made a map.

These adventurers soon fell to ill fortune and such treasure as they carried was in turn plundered. And on and on until your game starts.

So anyway there is the fish, found somewhere. It's treasure, yes, but it also retains a divine consciousness, dulled by centuries of use as currency. It is a god, if a very tired one.

The Fish of Roaming has the ability to make anyone possessing it see or believe long distances to be short and vice versa (no save). It will employ this ability to one purpose--to get it back into the sea, where it will regain its full power. It can also, of course, send cryptic dreams. The more anyone looks at the fish, the higher the DC or negative modifier to successfully get a night's sleep. It can telepathically communicate with any living thing if it decides it's really important, which it usually doesn't.

The Fish is worth 100,000 gp, easy, but only if it's actually sold to someone. You don't just get the gp for picking it up.

There's also the rest of the chrysomorphosed encampment, still somewhere in the desert, and the map to it, currently in three parts and rolled in three small sandalwood tubes in three attics still belonging the adventurers' three families in Brandenberg. The fish knows the identity of these adventurers, having traveled with them and been privy to their conversations.

Further complicating things is that, following a massive earthquake, rockslide and some empire-building, the burial site of the literally golden horde not only lies entirely beneath the city-state of the Slender Khan, but has begun to be surreptitiously excavated after having been discovered by the necromancer Abbat Khuor, a man of considerable influence, rumored to be in contact with other gods beneath the sea, who now seek their fellow.


  1. Totally unrelated but running a group through the Maze of the Blue Medusa and it is pretty hilarious. They do not even know how to cope with how unique it is. Three of them still have not left room 1 while one unlucky monk is trying to find his way back after being transported by well you know...

    Anyhow great work and look forward to your further ones. How many Medusa sisters are there? :)

  2. Nice, although now I plan to have my group find a hoard of near perfect human statues, and only find out what happened after they melted them down into coins.

  3. Equal measure tragic, creepy, and hilarious.