On Western Venatia – Part Seventeen

Done Done Done! Finally done writing the text for the Western Venatia hexcrawl. All I need to finish now for NOD #6 is another dungeon level for Izrigul’s Pleasure Palace, and hot diggity that magazine is ready to go. So, probably one more Western Venatia preview after this one. Here goes …

2235. The hither gnome village of Borbet overlooks the sea. Its inhabitants make their living by fishing, keeping guinea fowl, and growing vegetables in well-tended gardens. The village’s population stands at 150 gnome-wives, 80 gnomelings and 230 gnomes. They dwell in several dozen stone cottages built around a central square that contains a stone well. A low stone wall surrounds the village. It has two gates on the east and west sides of the village, each overlooked by a tall wooden tower. The walls and towers are covered by creeping, flowered vines.

Borbet is known for its fine, pale ale and its smith-work. The smiths of Borbet maintain a forge in a sea cave, allowing them to harness the elemental power of wind and wave when manufacturing their magical weapons and shields.

The village milita consists of 115 gnome warriors under the command of Nereva. The village is governed by a warlock called Kindle.

Treasure: The town treasury holds 4,085 sp, 2,860 gp, a hematite worth 65 gp, a bronze statue of Mercurius worth 3 gp and 3 sq. yd. of linen worth 12 gp. It is locked in an iron chest with a complicated lock in the cellar of the mayor and guarded by a bull mastiff.

| Kindle, Gnome Magic-User Lvl 9: HP 20; AC 9 [10]; Save 7 (5 vs. spells); CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Spells (5th), phantsmal force 1/day. Golden amulet of office worth 1,000 gp, beechwood staff carved with gnome faces, silver dagger, money pouch stuffed in right boot containing 30 gp.

| Nereva, Gnome Fighter Lvl 5: HP 19; AC 4 [15]; Save 10; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Phantasmal force 1/day. Chainmail, shield, boots of elvenkind, short sword, short bow, dagger.

2337. On a granite promontory that juts into the sea there is an ancient, weathered stone chair. Legends say that those who spend the night of a full moon sitting in the chair will learn the secret of their doom and how to avoid it. In truth, they will probably be killed by the enormous black pudding that lives inside the promontory and seeps out the cracks to engulf the chair each night.

| Black Pudding: HD 10 (60 hp); AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 attack (3d8); Move 6; Save 5; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Acidic surface, immune to cold, divides when hit by lightning.

2410. The Blood Hawks are the most northerly of the orc clans and the weakest, having recently been decimated by the adventuring company from Blackpoort. The Blood Hawks have 100 warriors. They are ruled by Nar, who is assisted by Zhor, a shaman of the Gods of the Lake (see Blackmere Lake). The Blood Hawks dwell in a cavern lair set amidst rugged cliffs. They fletch their arrows with blood hawk feathers and paint the birds on their shields.

| Nar: HD 5 (21 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 battle axe (1d8); Move 9; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: None. Chainmail, shield, battle axe.

| Zhor, Orc Adept Lvl 3: HP 10; AC 7 [12]; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Spells (1st), alchemist (brews poisons).

| Blood Hawk Orc: HD 1; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 spear (1d6) or short bow (1d6 + poison); Move 9; Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Poison on arrows causes paralysis for 1d3 rounds.

2516. In a dry gulch called the Valley of the Angel there is a small village of folk who make their living collecting the valuable resins from the acacia trees that grow therein. The valley is named for a rock formation that looks vaguely like a winged creature bent down on one knee. The village is built around the base of this natural monument and consists of small hovels woven from the branches of the acacia. It is protected by a dry moat and a low wall of stacked stones. The village is ruled by Baron Nestor the Mad, an outcase of Antigoon who seized control of the village with his hired goons as a young man and has ruled it ever since. He is now pushing 60, not long for the world and fretting over the fate of his only child, Krapahild, now 30 and unwed. Krapahild, of course, is not in the least worried. She longs for freedom from her impetuous, often schizophrenic father, and enjoys a fine reputation among the villagers, who often seek her wise council and will almost certainly accept her as their new baroness on the passing of her father. The 20 warriors of the village wear ring armor and dashing white capes and wield shield and longsword. They are commanded by Morward, a man of 50 years who has served the baron since before his exile. Morward is an unassuming man, grey-haired and slight of build, who happens to be a very skilled assassin. Morward is quite a bit less excited about Krapahild assuming command of the village, and would gladly marry her or kill her to remain in power.

Treasure: 1,800 sp, 102 gp and a hematite arrow worth 105 gp.

| Morward, Assassin Lvl 6: HP 25; AC 7 [12]; Save 10 (9 vs. death); CL/XP 6/400; Special: Decipher script, disguise, sneak attack x3, skullduggery, poison. Leather armor, buckler, long sword, several daggers and poisoned darts hidden on his person.

2710. A small band of bugbears is traveling to join the hobgoblin army in [2505] before they cease being. The bugbears travel only at night, and are a strange band indeed. The leader of the band is Zorion, a yawahu bugbear, albino sorcerers akin to ogre magi. His comrades are the product of his dealings with demons, mutants possessed of extraordinary powers.

Treasure: 100 gp each.

| Zorion, Elder Yawahu: HD 6 (36 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 spear (1d6+1) or 1 shortbow (1d6); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Spells – charm person, magic missile, cause blindness, invisibility, weakness (rev. of strength) and rope trick. Wears a cloak of elvenkind he stole from a hapless adventurer on the way.

| Zunx, Undead Charred Skeletal Bugbear: HD 3+3 (22 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d8+1); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, surrounded by cloud of ash (10’ radius, save or cough and choke, suffer 1d3 damage, -5 to hit from obscurement), touch causes metal to heat (per heat metal spell), rebuke undead as lvl 3 cleric, only harmed by magic weapons, at 0 hp explodes into 3 dice fireball.

| Nobbit, Tenebrous Bugbear: HD 3+1 (20 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d10+1 + 1d6 acid); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, acidic bite, filiments on head inject poison into unarmed attackers (paralysis 1d4 rounds).

| Unog, Demonic Bugbear: HD 3+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claw (1d6), bite (1d8+1); Move 9 (F9); Save 14; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, immune to poison, half damage from acid, cold, electricity and fire, only harmed by magic weapons, magic resistance 15%, cast darkness 15’ radius and inflict light wounds 1/day. Unog is a distant relation to Melchom, Paymaster of Hell.

| Tmor, Blink Bugbear: HD 3+3 (16 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d8+1); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, cast dimension door, blink as blink dog.

| Gux, Undead Bloody Bugbear: HD 3+3 (21 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d8+1); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, damage from bite adds to its own hit point (up to 27), creatures killed by it become zombie spawn, magic resistance 15%, only harmed by magic weapons.

| Zbugod, Giant Bugbear: HD 4+1; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 bite (1d10+1); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Surprise on 1-3 on 1d6, throw boulders (40’ range, 1d10 damage).

[This was me playing with some old d20 templates, I guess they’re like the X-Bugbears]

2735. The sea dragon Zavicus makes its lair here in the submerged dome of some ancient sea fortress. Zavicus is a small dragon, about the size of a horse, with smooth, black skin and markings reminiscent of an orca. He is highly intelligent, but unable to speak or cast magical spells. Zavicus keeps its treasure in a large, round pit in the center of its lair. Seven mer-maids of exquisite beauty are kept there as the dragon’s prisoners, all chained to metal hoops that circle the treasure pit.

| Zavicus: HD 9 (36 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), bite (1d8); Move 12 (S24); Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Only harmed by magic weapons, can emit a cone of sound (30’ long, 20’ at base, 9d8 damage and deafness, save for half damage and to negate deafness), claws are so sharp one must save against them or begin bleeding (1d4 damage per round until cured by magic or staunched by normal means).

3427. Loquash, the mythic “Invisible City” is situated near the banks of the Vrusk River. The city and its inhabitants are only visible in the moonlight, becoming completely visible during the full moon and otherwise existing in an invisible, quasi-real state the rest of the time. The Loquashi have ophidian blood flowing through their veins, and their time under the curse has diminished them, making them about 5-ft tall on average. Their skin glistens like thousands of pink and yellow diamonds, their features would be elven save for the fact that their arms are more swept back and their torsos are a bit longer. They are terribly graceful, and sneak through the world, collecting secrets and knowledge and stealing precious articles, leaving clues to the location of the Invisible City to lure those from whom they have stolen to them during the full moon. These intrepid investigators are greeted warmly, their property returned to them, and they are permitted to feast on delicacies, the food being poisoned to turn the guests into Loquashi themselves.

Loquash has walls of pearly stone that gleam and shimmer in the moonlight, and thirty tall towers of dark, polished wood that rise 30-ft above the 30-ft stone walls. The city’s gates are polished steel and decorated with whimsical arabesques. The buildings within the city walls are graceful, most in the style of slim towers that taper gently from base to peak. They are topped with observation decks to permit the inhabitants to gaze at the stars. The streets of the city that are paved are paved with grey cobblestones. The city’s primary industries are the exchange of secrets and knowledge (their invisible lurkings around the world have brought them much knowledge) and the catching of fish in the Vrusk River using nets that, for most of the year, are completely invisible. The lands around Loquash appear to be barren under the light of day, but the moon reveals them to be lush croplands of beets, dates and pears and durum. Goats are kept for their milk, but they are never killed.

Loquash, in the days of the Lizard Kings when it was a normal city-state, was known for its fine metalwork, and in fact is still produces exceptional work. The city is also known for its lush parklands and its race track, where the locals watch the newt derbies.

Loquash once had a ruling monarch, but it was the king’s sinful ways that brought the curse of the gods down on the people’s heads. Since then, the palace has been allowed to sit empty, a monument to vice, and the priesthood has ruled the city with a gentle hand. The Loquashi, most of whom are not born, but rather made, have few family ties. Instead, people are stratified by classes based on their skills. The wise make up the ruling class of priests, while the dextrous and intelligent make up the middle class of artisans, sages, mages and thieves. The strong and tough make up the lower class of warriors, servants and laborers, while the charismatic make up the slave class of jugglers, actors, poets and storytellers.

The Loquashi worship the old gods of the ophidians, from whom they received their curse and to whom they beg for forgiveness. The two main deities of Loquash are Saclist, the goddess of virtue (which the ophidians define as loyalty and dilligence) and Phu’abbo, the lustful god of dreams. Minor divinities include Latha, god of craftsmen, Azol, goddess of wealth and Phothar, goddess of winter and dreaded hibernation. The days of the full moon are grand celebrations in Loquash in which the people travel a cirrcuit around the city to each temple, reciting prayers and leaving offerings of flowers and prayer scrolls scribed in their own blood. During the full moon, the taboo on physical contact is lifted and much revelry ensues. It is also during this festival that most outsiders come to Loquash and are tricked into consuming the city’s accursed food. The priests of the city-state wear bronze masks and go everywhere carrying censers burning sweet resins.

The soldiers of Loquash are apathetic and poorly trained. They wield morninstars and light crossbows, and primarily fight in the hopes of taking slaves. The army numbers 350 men-at-arms (HD 1d6), 20 sergeants (HD 3d6) and 2 captains (HD 5d6).

The Hanged Man is the finest tavern in Loquash. Located in the center of the city, it features service and fare fit for a lord (and priced for a lord as well). The tavern has two medium-sized rooms for rent, though they are occupied about 50% of the time. The Hanged Man is always loud and bustling, with dozens of tables featuring card games. They serve fermented goat milk and curds of goat cheese as well as many fine raw fish dishes.

Some of the more interesting people of Loquash include Shollo, a member of the old royal family who has suffered many financial setbacks since the overthrow (and who insists he has amble gold in his old apartment in the royal palace, if only someone would retrieve it); a seductive mage named Zhaua who is toiling under the threat of blackmail; Thath, a wealthy garrison commander whose schemes go far beyond Loquash and Thigomin, a wealthy courtesan who has dabbled with many powerful priests and who spends money very freely.

Loquashi Characters: The fact that the Loquashi spend most of their time invisible makes them problematic as player characters, but excellent foils with which to challenge the player characters.

Treat the Loquashi as elves with a +2 bonus to save against poison instead of an immunity to Charm Person and Sleep. In addition, their “class versatility” ability replaces Fighting-Man with Thief (the one published in NOD #2 or any other version you favor).

Miniature from Otherworld Miniatures, painted by Richard Scott.

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