[Actual Play] Lost on Carcosa XIII+XIV; Scylla and Charybdis

Status update:  Translating Creature del Terrore. Italian is tricky but I have google translate and managed to find an italian SRD to use as a sort of rosetta stone for the stat blocks, feats etc. etc.. Possible Nephandum in the future if I can get a handle on the precise aesthetic and find players ( I can). I think for all the inspirational references I gave in my review of the original work, I missed Order of the Blade (Orde van de Kling), a belgian comic in a sort of dystopian post-Lotr world that almost perfectly captures the vibe I’d be going for.

ETA; 123 pages of monsters with less then a page per day. Eat shit prince.

To the couple of folks from various countries that come by here every other day and read the reviews and the occasional Age of Dusk post and are content to just read and chill out, I am glad you liked it. You guys don’t get enough love (even you Norway!).

This thing is too long. It’s a playreport and it covers only the essentials but it is too long.

They say the gods care not for the lot of mortal men.
They say they give us nothing and demand nothing in return.
They say they destroy without thought and create without reason.
I say they are wrong. 
They have given us lust, lotus dust & wine, so we may forget our agonies.
They have given us dreams and madness, so we may imagine a place that is not here.
They have given us death, so our suffering will end. 
What is that if not love? 
-The Imperishable Echo

After a long, harrowing road, our heroes had arrived at the Citadel, but first they had to recover from the journey to lick their wounds at a nearby village of purple men, girdled with briars and thus a very safe harbour. Friendly they were, these purple men, in defiance of the cruelty and capriciousness of lost Carcosa. Cannibals they were also.

Without food after a raid by the degenerate brown men of the swamp, the villagers were very hungry, and thus overjoyed to see travellers wanting to trade. Deciding to spare the rations and gain what was for them an unprecedented amount of local rapport, they gleefully handed over 4 brown men for the welcoming feast, declining to partake themselves (with the exception of Mordak, white warrior and also part-time cannibal). And there was much rejoicing, wine from the fermented desert cactus and swamp-root, nubile purple wenches and the fearful muttering of the remaining brown men.

Now well rested, they set out for the great rock massif on which perched that terrible holdfast, the Citadel that Waits, where time flows like water and bound spirits await oblivion at the end of time. Avoided by the Purple men for fear of provoking the wrath from the ancient sorcerer that was said to have constructed it, the Citadel was a construction of crumbling sandstone, built atop of twin rock formations devoid of all life. Yet our heroes did detect footprints as they marched upwards, indicating that while the Citadel seemed empty, it was not without habitation.

Protected from invaders by a great chasm, the only egress twin drawbridges and a millenia-old gate-house, flanked by weathered statues of the vile sorcerer Uyu-Yadmogh, the Citadel was formidable indeed. Yet the drawbridge was lowered, with only the ancient wooden gate serving to bar would-be intruders. Taking care to post men (and the superstitious brown men who would not enter the fortress under any circumstance) in the gatehouse, they inched forward, the dead silence violently shattered by arrow fire from the gate-towers.

Vile bandits of all colours, ridden with disease and covered with offal and faeces, attempted an ambush, a deadfall trap with rocks very nearly killing the powerful Sago. They thought themselves secure behind ancient gates and crumbling masonry. They were wrong. Using his clairvoyant abilities, Satiros directed the ire of the Nameless Blue man, armed with the energy weapon of the hated and distrusted Sky Daemons, to each of their positions. And with a thunderclap and a light like the molten heart of the sun great beams did reach out from the gatehouse, piercing stone and burning flesh, to carve open the gate and lay waste to all who stood before them. A desperate last charge saw the bandits slain with only minor injuries, one of which carried with it a slow and lingering doom that would lay low Mordak, had the fates not decided upon another course. In addition, a strange amulet in the shape of a spiral was discovered on the filth spattered body of the bandit lord.
.
Unto the courtyard our heroes went, Mordak now armed with a great spiked chain that the bandit lord had claimed for himself. They avoided the filth-spattered barracks and chose a storage shed filled with the tools of carpentry as their temporary base of operations instead. Eyeing the great pit and strange altar (with inscriptions for a chant above the carving of an eye that were lamentably ignored) warily, they moved towards the gate of the citadel proper, three blasts of the ray gun sufficient to open it. Ancient dust and silence awaited them inside.

Exploration revealed a sorcerers library, infested with perilous ulfire mould, that yielded a description of a ritual to summon the dreaded Diseased Guardians, whose touch brings the slow death, and an odd tome (The Book of Recursion) that has not been examined yet. Moving on, they eventually encountered the throne room and its 1st Guardian.

A great knight, armoured in plate and perched atop of a skeletal dinosaur mount with a long tail leading out of the room, with glowing red eyes, demanded to know who dared to enter the Citadel that Waits! After meaningless dialogue during which it repeated three sentences endlessly, it charges. Ah las, the wits of our heroes must have been addled by the ancient sorceries of the Citadel, for they did not act upon great Sago’s suggestion they cut the creature’s tail, which turned out to be a power cable attached to a strange generator hidden in the back of the throne room. Taking injuries, they downed the mechanical monstrosity by brute force where subtlety and cunning could have won the day.

On they went, these ravagers and rogues, up crumbling revolving stairs that nearly took the life of Ragnor the Sorcerer as the stones gave way beneath him. The tower proper held the impaled corpses of men and alien, and the formidable horror that preyed upon them; A great winged arachnid, its dagger-like legs coated with paralytic ichors making it a formidable foe. It paralysed Satiros and then it died by arrow and beam and axe, the only member of its kind. Our heroes discovered a can of healing spray and on they went.

But the great Uyu-Jadmogh had no short supply of guardians. As our heroes explored the groundfloor of the Citadel they encountered the greatest of them all. From a hole in the floor leading to perilous dungeons below it flowed upward, a tide of black bile with at times vaguely antropomorphic features that emitted a constant spectral howling. By unknown means it could assume control of lesser creatures. As it possessed Ragnor, our heroes held him down and dragged him out of the Citadel by the ropes they had used to secure themselves against more pitfalls and collapsing floors, tying him to an altar until the possession abated. When they returned, the Guardian had departed.

Shaken but not demoralized, they pressed on, descending to the dungeons. Claustrophobic, cold, dark. The air choked with the dust of prior aeons. Death awaited them. And did not take long to arrive.

As they travelled onward, the Guardian, that fearsome creation of the apostate Sorcerer Uyu-Jadhmogh, exiled from the city of sorcerers for crimes abominable even to them, came upon them once more. In this terrible Citadel, he created his guardian by imbuing it with part of his hate-blackened soul. It seeped through the cold stone and attacked them from behind, controlling and devouring the Silent One. They fled, blindly and deeper into the dungeon, the darkness oozing after them.

It is at this point that our party separated, and Asuz and Mordak encountered the second most fearsome of the Sorcerer’s guardians. From distant, non-euclidean realms Uyu-Jadmogh had conjured forth the Sartoom, a great black sphere whose gaze evaporates the very bonds of matter, its only weakness a blindness to any angular object. Eternally patient, it waited in a great checkerboard room, feeding on the life-essences of its prey. With the Guardian at their heels, Asuz rushed forward, thinking he could make it to the relative safety of a nearby pillar, but swift though he was he could not escape the gaze of Sartoom. Caught in a blaze of witch-light, he vanished from this world, leaving nothing but fine black ash.

Thoroughly vexed, our heroes chose a different route, the Guardian close on their heels. Through a winding maze of passages they passed, eventually ending up in a room where time seemed to have stopped entirely. Objects and men, both Ulfire and White, were held in suspended animation, frozen in time. A single amulet in the shape of a spiral was dropped on the floor, amidst fallen men with grievous wounds glinstening like ice. Quick deduction and a desperate gamble made them deduce it was the same as that of the bandit chieftain. Boldly, they rushed forward, one by one, protected by the amulet in the frozen place where even the Guardian could not follow.

Thus our heroes gained reinforcements, for the men locked in combat could be unfrozen in time. The Ulfire men were raiders from the City of Sorcerers, there to punish Uyu-Jadmogh for his crimes, locked in stasis for ten thousand years. The White men were his servants, frozen together with their opponents when the raid had almost penetrated the inner sanctum. By trickery and deception Mordak discovered these things, removing them from the stasis with a touch and returning them there when he had new information, to ruminate and learn more. A slip of the tongue caused one of the white men to attempt an assasination, but Ragnar quickly intervened. They cut the white men’s throats, and banded together with the Ulfire men and another adventurer locked in stasis but a few centuries prior. A thief and spelunker by the name of Kamicollo…

A thief and spelunker by the name of Kamicollo he was. Armed with a chitenous staff that could perceive creatures lurking beyond the realms of five senses, his prior knowledge of the fortress proved unreliable and useless for it was out of date and he had not passed this room. Reinforced, our heroes passed beyond, into Uyu-Yadmoghs Sanctum, there to meet his spectre, who invited them to join him in the long wait for oblivion at the heat death of the universe. Ragnor attempted to fingle the old ghost out of his sorcerous secrets but was informed the crotchety old bastard would prefer it turn to dust and perish with the rest of the universe.  The sorceror laughed and gestured and from a great basalt urn poured the Guardian, and many sphincters tightened as a result.

Faced with the might of the Guardian on one side and the temporal room, that could only be crossed by 2 people (2 amulets) at the same time, our heroes were in a tight spot.

How they perservered, and how they fell, this is a tale for another time.

Death toll: 18
[A] Rohnan (Specialist 1): Eaten by giant spiders
[B] Jaxxon Windwaker (Ftr 1) :  Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[C] Mongo the Red (Sor 1) :  Impaled by Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
[B] Klak (Specialist 1) : Skull crushed by Animate Snake-man statue
[B] Kristal (Ftr 1): Drowned in Quicksand
[D] Kakarot (Sor 1): Beheaded by Jale Berserker
[A] Midros (Sor 1): Bissected by Jale chieftain
[E] T’Click (Spec 1): Butchered by treacherous Ulfire men
[B] Kris (Spec 1): Gutted by Elite Yellow Temple Guardian
[D] Rake (Ftr 1): Devoured by Dolm Worm
[A] Sayeed (Ftr 1): Drowned in the Great River to be food for the creatures below
[A] Ronaan (Spec 1): Beheaded by the mighty Bone man champion in honourable single combat
[B] Jahlin (Spec 1): Taken by the invisble horror of the Great Canyon
[A] Menon (Spec 1) : Cut down by the vile and contemptible Ulfire Slavers
[B] Sarumon (Ftr 1): Mind-wiped by alien technology and imprinted with memory and personality of the Master.
[E] Speaker to Animals (Sor 1): Mind-wiped by alien technology and imprinted with memory and personality of the Master. Body Slain by Tellurium Beam Weapon.
[B] Hannibal (Ftr 1): Perished by the harsh clime and dangerous climb of the Tsaggasoth Peaks.
[D] Asuz (Ftr 2): Slain by the Gaze of the Sartoom

Compatriots & Henchmen: 3
Burlap – Cut down by the Master of the Valley.
The Unnamed Green Man – Dissolved by Dolm Ooze (or Pudding).
Silent One – Devoured by the Guardian

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4 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Lost on Carcosa XIII+XIV; Scylla and Charybdis

  1. Nefarious and amusing stuff – though what hath the poor White Man done, to earn such ire from your compatriots? You’re not reverse racists are you?

    In one of life’s great ironies, I have a dear friend and comrade who is not only Italian and bilingual but a professional translator of gaming materials. Sadly she will not work for a promise of government heroin alone and I suspect she is too Tumblretta for your palate – or possibly you too Reddito for hers.

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    1. [Reverse racist]

      I think the white men have been a particular thorn in the side of my players and thus they automatically assume the local cultural characteristics are universal. Ironic perhaps.

      [Ironeeeey]

      That’s a shame. I’ll have to manage myself. It will be rough but serviceable and the statt blocks are comprehensible.

      Like

    1. Being predisposed to both laziness, houseruling and atmosphere over complex if comprehensive systems, in general I establish the time you need to absorb the work (sorcerers may teach rituals other sorcerers but this takes longer, about double the length), with a language skill check (i.e 1 in 6 + int modifier) for tomes that are written in odd languages or strange dialects. It goes without saying Rituals cannot be bought in the ritual-store, though the odd Sorcerer may bargain for them (in exchange for another ritual).

      I’ve looked at more complex systems like the one in Realms of Crawling Chaos but the added complexity does little for my game of Carcosa, flavour-wise.

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