One month. Thirty days. I’ve spent thirty days trudging through the third circle of Hell, the circle of gluttons that is, by Dante’s description, a giant sewer in which the damned souls lie on their backs in the raw sewage, mouths open, catching new sewage as it falls like snow from the sky. Yuck. Glad to be done with it!
Over the weekend, I not only finished Abaddon (well, 90% finished, still need to add monster stats and edit), but converted another chapter of Rappan Athuk (this baby is going to be big – and very cool) for the Frog God, edited Space Princess (I’m starting to really dig this one – it’s all falling into place nicely), did some more work on Blood & Treasure (primarily the re-laying out the monster chapter and adding bits of art) and got in a few updates to my Google + play-by-post games. One party in the Nod hex crawl has ventured outside Ophir, the other is looking for a wizard to check out their magical frog; meanwhile, in the Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance campaign, three heroes are preparing to join battle in a cellar in the hills of Mexidor while the others have discovered Nazi flying saucers hidden in a subterranean base in Greenland.
On to the preview …
29.40 Silk Pavilions: Hundreds of tattered silk pavilions flap in the breeze here. The ground is solid here, and about six feet above the surface of the sludge, and is littered with broken arrows and bolts. Each pavilion is inhabited by a single female shade, their grey skin painted with mauve and white paint and their bodies clad in skimpy costumes composed of copper coins (100 cp each). These shades (there are 100 in all) are completely silent, and when they discover intruders they approach warily and begin dancing and cavorting about, trying to lure them into their pavilions. Those who enter the pavilions discover a warm, comfortable space, dimly lit, with velvet pillows and silver platters of dumplings, croquets and other foods. There are flagons of wine and the sound of silver chimes. Any person that disbelieves this feast will “see through it”, seeing nothing but wooden platters of rotten food, soiled pillows, etc. In fact, the food and comfort is real, but only lasts a single night. In the morning, the pavilions and their weird inhabitants have disappeared.
30.80 Cloaca: A low, flat plain of mud covered with rotting vegetation and shed scales and teeth is punctuated by a large fort of mud ramparts topped by a picket of rotting timbers. The fort is occupied by 400 stout, black ratlings with long snouts and wearing tattered loincloths.
The ratlings hate and fear everything that isn’t a black ratling wearing a tattered loincloth. They survive on the rotting vegetation and by hunting. Their village is collection of shanties constructed of driftwood and bits of stone, brick and metal. The village is dominated by a large, round tower of chipped red brick. The tower has no roof and contains a deep pit in which lived the slumbering form of Cloaca, a titan of sewage who acts as a patron of rats, ratlings and otyughs.
The ratlings are currently gathered before their “temple”, their high priest Urdish is leading in them in wild chanting while a feast of captured adventurers is being prepared over open fires. One of the adventures, a magician named Gonda has been saved, for she is sought by Cloaca. Cloaca has long dallied with both Beelzelbuth and Jubilex, playing one off the other. Gonda has caught her intention because she is currently carrying the cambion son of Jubilex in her belly, on her way to deliver him to a waiting cult.
35.26 Bone Market: A village of 100 painfully thin goblins with turned up noses and rheumy, dripping eyes run a bone market here. Their village is constructed of bits and pieces dragged out of the sludge. It rests on a muddy flat punctuated by noxious herbage. In the middle of the village there is a square in which dozens of little tents and booths have been erected selling every kind of bone imaginable – assume a gold piece cost equal to a tenth of the original owner’s XP value. In the center of the square the goblins keep a large kettle ever on the boil, making a thin, greasy soup using some of their precious bones.
Each of the goblin houses has a trapdoor in it that leads to a stark chamber with spiked walls located well beneath their village. Here, they keep instruments of torture and yet another kettle for stripping the flesh from bones. Beware an invitation to enter one of those homes and share some tea and biscuits.
37.86 Cursed Causway: When folk enter this hex, they see a brick causeway 10-ft. wide rising from the sludge and pointed in whatever direction the party is traveling. The causeway rises at a gentle slope, but after 3 miles it is about 60 feet high. At the mid-point of the hex, the causeway stops. When people turn back, they discover that what was behind them has faded away, leaving them with no more than 40 feet worth of causeway. It is at this point that the flock of twelve erinyes attack, trying to grasp people and carry them to the dungeons of Mammon in the fiendish city of Dis (see NOD 14).
41.28 Forest of Rusty Poles: This hex is devoid of large islands of debris, but it filled with hundreds of long, rusty poles. One of the poles in sight of the adventurers has a red scarf tied to it. There is another about 50 feet away, and so on, leading those who follow them on a pointless journey through the hex. There is a 1 in 6 chance per hour that the adventurers come across a strange woman balanced atop one of the poles on one knobby-kneed leg.
The woman is called Geirl, and she is a rather strange entity. She beckons people to climb her pole and speak with her in hushed tones, promising them one wish – anything, including escape from Hell – in return for killing one of their companions and delivering their heart to her.
Image from Wikipedia