Friday, 30 November 2012

Known Space Wiki

At long last despite work hassles and general purpose aggravation, I have the Known Space Wiki in a vaguely useable form.

First session will be on G+ Hangouts on Friday 14th December (look out for the event announcement thingy), anyone else wanting to jump in with a game set in this gameworld feel free to jump in.

Your Character, Your World

Now hopefully most people will be computer literate enough to just bung things on the wiki directly, but if you are not mail me the bumph at with 'Known Space' in the subject line and I'll wodge it up.

Can't find any sensible way of allowing anyone to update the map without a lot of faffing about so if you do concoct a new planet (or bit of a planet), let me know you have done it and I'll update the master copy accordingly.

Getting Started

Do a PC using any Traveller system you like (and I'm open to non-Trav sci-fi PCs if you can give me conversion notes to make them run with 2d6 skill rolls) and make up a planet for them to be from, or have them come from someplace on Earth.

Use High Guard and Mercenary if you wish, but I'll be using the following house rule to prevent skills bloat - max two skills per term plus 1d6.

Each nation on a planet will have some skills that natives get at level 0 just for being from there, and maybe a bit of cheap equipment or two (see the Epsilon write up on the wiki), plus some general purpose things that you might pick up before the age of 18 (Drive 0, Art 0, Science 0, Language 0 etc.) and maybe a stat mod.

The number of Level 0 skills depends on initial Education score - 0 = 0, 1-2 =1, 3-5 = 2, 6-8 = 3, 9-11 = 4, 12-14 = 5, 15 = 6.

When we have some idea of how many PCs of what sort will be involved we'll decide what kind of starship you have available, if one is available at all.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More Tekumel Monsters

A couple more beasties from Tekumel.

Gétlen – The Phase Spider 

NA: 1-6; HD: 2; AC: 2; T: nil; M: 12”/18”; L: 90%: 1-12; T in L: A:75 
‘One must beware the glowing eyes of the Gétlen; they hang in the dark and she espies all through their pallid light. Then she shall creep by way of the eighth corner of the Nexi, reaching grél-ward with her left claw and vráz-wise with the right and thus clutch the Báletl before extracting it and delivering it unto the Demon Chegéth…’ 

Anonymous document on the Underworlds, found in the Library of the Temple of Qón in Khirgár.

‘May a spider f**k your brain!’

Traditional tomb-curse used by the Temple of Grugánu.

The Gétlen is usually only found in caves and in the underworld. It is the result of the wave of mutation that followed the fluxes of trans-planar power when Tékumel was isolated. It is 50-70 cm across, with eight very long and skinny legs, though when it runs it appears to have more than this and in repose it is hard to make out all its limbs at once as some project into other dimensional spaces.

It is usually a pale dirty white colour, though it can change to black or any monochrome pattern it chooses using chameleon like colour cells in its skin. Its dozen or so eyes are always a beady black, and have a disconcerting habit of disappearing and reappearing as the spider espies matters in other planes than our own.

They make labyrinthine webs up to 100m across in tunnels and caves, and even along especially dark and dank forest floors. These are hung every couple of meters or so with small glowing globules of transparent slime, each with a tiny black eyeball floating inside. These provide enough light for the spider to see normally, but are dim for humans. While the spider is hanging onto certain magically enhanced strands of its web they also enable it to spy on who is passing to and fro. Its sense of touch is also exquisitely sensitive and the merest breath of a draft from a moving creature will attract its notice and it will scuttle along its web to investigate.

The spider has two innate psychic abilities. It can detect invisible creatures and attack them at no penalty. It is alleged that some Gétlen have opened nexus points to escape foes or to summon demonic assistance and that they have driven people insane using magic.

Their poison induces hallucinations, terror and then convulsions and results in 3-18 hours of unconsciousness (see below). The fate of the victim depends on how hungry the Gétlen is; may insert its transplanar mouthparts through the skull and suck out the brain via the fourth dimension, leaving the rest of the corpse for scavengers or it may lay eggs inside the skull. A corpse with a missing brain but no visible sign of head injury is a sure sign of a Gétlen attack.

The host of a clutch of Gétlen eggs may not know anything about it, waking up in a dank underworld corridor or a grimy back alley in a city thanking their lucky stars that they are uninjured. Bit by bit they will succumb to a strange disease of the Pedhétl, losing emotional affect and becoming very placid and calm while also subject to random visions of the horrors and delights of the planes beyond, which they will relate in a deadpan fashion while stumbling around cross eyed. After a few weeks they will become possessed by an irritating urge to sneeze while being unable to do so. When they do finally snort, the roof of their nasal cavity will collapse releasing what is left of their brain and dozens of Gétlen spiderlings from their nostrils.

The symptoms may be treated with Khapá cactus berries and even a mix of ordinary stimulant like Chúmaz with Mághz powder can keep a person awake and dull the intensity of the hallucinations. Treating the egg infestation itself is more difficult. Only an expert in psychological disorders will recognise the source of the problem, and those who know the spell Seeing Other Planes may perceive the infestation quite easily. A spell of Cure Disease will kill the eggs, which will then putrefy inside the skull causing the loss of 1d20 Intelligence and 1d20 Psychic Ability, requiring a Heal Serious Wounds spell and several months to repair. The priests of Meshmúr, the aspect of Thúmis who cures internal injuries, have a specific ritual to remove these eggs and expel them into another plane, but it requires many costly sacrifices and incenses to perform. The other alternative is brain surgery, an uncertain process in an age without antispectics, sterile operating rooms and anaesthetic.

It is alleged that the priests of Grugánu have spells that enable them to control these beasts and to use their webs as spying devices, and that some Thúnru’u keep them as pets. It is also thought by some scholars that the Gétlen is not native to Tékumel but is instead a demon, with the substance of Avánthe and the essence of Hrü’ü.

Those that know their underworld lore recognise that the presence of Gétlen is an indicator of high magical energy in the vicinity, perhaps a powerful magic item or a major protective spell on a secret shrine or tomb. It would appear that Gétlen require this kind of magical aura or an area of local interplanar weakness to survive; they have certainly never been encountered in any magically barren or semi-barren areas, and those who are very knowledgeable about the beasts know that surrounding it with a Sphere of Impermeable Quiescence will kill it outright, and a successful Dispel Magic spell renders the creature blind and stuns it for a few seconds. They induce utter terror in the uninitiated, but a knowledgeable sorcerer can handle them.

Harúchamal, The Plovers of the Further Shores

NA: 1; HD: 8; AC: -2; T: A; M: 12”/36”; L: 0%; T in L: D:75

This race of demons is of the Substance of Hnalla and the Essence of Belkhanu and dwell on the Plane of Golden Sands, the first of the Paradises Beyond the Isles of Teretane. They appear as stilt legged birds with rainbow-hued crystalline plumage and steel-grey beaks and their eyes shine golden in the eternal sunset of their home plane.

The exact criteria of how souls end up in the Paradises is a matter of continual argument among the philosophers and extra-planar explorers of the Temple of Belkhanu, but is would seem that in some cases gifted people’s Balétl, or Spirit-Soul can be washed up in the Plane of Golden Sands by the Tides of Dreams. There they are picked over by the Harúchamalkoi, who eat them and then transport the soul to its appropriate fate, be that immolation in the light of Hnalla, being laid as a spirit egg in the body of a newborn sentient back on Tekumel, or as a being on another plane of existence or within a paradise of a specific god.

They are summoned by priests of Belkhanu who bargain with them for their aid in carrying messages to and from long departed souls, and if they can to retrieve specific souls and ensure their rebirth on this plane.

The ritual must be carried out at sunset on the shortest day of the year, beginning as the lower edge of the sun disc touches the horizon. The summoner, who must be a priest of Belkhanu of at least the 12th circle, stands inside a protective circle drawn in powdered topaz and agate with a choir of fifteen choristers and assistants who chant the sixteenth through eighteenth stanzas of the Hymn of Mórskodel, master of the Harúchamal in endless overlapping cycles.

The light of the dying sun is focussed onto a spot on a marble wall in front of the circle through a yellow lens. At the first phrase of the summoning this is made into a nexus point by the use of Visitations of the Other Planes, and the summoner invites the Harúchamal, whose individual secret name he must know, to bargain with him.

The second phase involves the sacrifice of at least one M’rur or Shedra by means of the Viaticum of the Yellow Robe, thus releasing its spirit soul back into the Tide of Dreams, an act pleasing to the Harúchamal who will eagerly await its arrival at the farther shores.

The last phase is the striking of the bargain. This must be done quickly and efficiently, as the Harúchamal will leave as the final glimmer of light from the setting sun fades away and the bright nexus point closes behind it. These unearthly birds will demand whole logs of white Ssar wood carved into spirals for their nests, agates and quartz crystals, and magical items such as Eyes and Talismans. Under no circumstances should one leave the protective circle to remove the diamond studded golden ticks from the Haruchamal’s plumage, even if asked, as the bird will grab your Baletl and drop it into the Sea of Souls. Once the bargain is struck the bird flies off to search for the departed soul and returns within seconds. Messages to the dead cannot exceed twenty words and their replies rarely exceed ten.

The Harúchamal cannot contact every dead soul. Some are too recently dead and still float among in the seas around the Isles of Teretane. Others have been removed from the endless cycle of souls by having their corresponding bodies made into undead, yet others have been absorbed into the light of Hnalla or the dark of Hru’u and yet others walk the mundane planes clothed in new bodies. If it cannot find a soul it will at least inform the summoner why before disappearing with its payment.

There is a binding spell that, it is said, can compel a Haruchamal to act as a steed, carrying the summoner to a specific place within the Isles of Teretane or the Paradises Beyond. Those who use this spell must be aware that time often travels at very different rates within these planes and their journey may take centuries to complete.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Least Demons

Robert Parker, author of the Rogues and Reavers blog, said nice things about the collection of Tekumel monsters I had in Fight On! Issue 3 and asked me to stick them on my blog. So here they are.

In the original Empire of the Petal Throne the Creatures spell summons one hit dice monsters from the original rules. They are a fun collection of beasties, but you can meet them by the dozen in the underworld and this spell is supposed to be bringing allies of the sorcerer's deity from other planes. I have also added some special abilities to these creatures so it can double as a utility spell. Stats are for EPT, but will work for any old school D&D style RPG.


The Radiant Ones

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 4, T: nil, M -/24”, L: 0

The radiant ones are levitating glowing ovoids some 50 cm tall devoid of any surface feature. They talk in a melodious unemotional version of the native language of the summoner and can manipulate objects using telekinesis, punching their foes with invisible bolts of raw force which are very hard to parry, ignoring any bonus to AC due to a shield. They defend themselves with electricity in a similar manner to Ru’ún, and anyone striking them with a steel weapon takes 1 dice damage from an electric shock.

They will serve for longer periods in return for clear crystals, especially diamonds, and will be very keen to acquire any ancient technological items or power cells.

They have considerable knowledge of such devices, and can aid a summoner in researching their use and even help repair them if suitable materials are available. They can also use their fine telekinetic manipulation to open modern locks and disable traps, usually commenting on the crudity of such devices and the ease of the task, disparaging the current fallen state of Tékumeli humanity.

Any resemblance to the Drone class robots from Iain Banks’ Culture novels is purely intentional.


The Flautists of the Mighty Orchestra

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 6, T: nil, M -/18”, L: 0

These creatures are only ever partly corporeal on Tékumel’s plane, and consist of a levitating vaguely spherical body made up of gelatinous tubes and peculiarly formed orifices. They continually emit melodious chords vaguely reminiscent of a clarinet, flute or organ, backed by angelic singing or chanting. They cannot be attacked physically except by steel or enchanted weapons or by magic, and they in turn cannot physically assault any solid creature. They can however use their eerie song to hypnotise and immobilise a foe who fails to save vs Eyes; the person does fight back if attacked however, or they can use the Group I spell Fear to cause an enemy to flee in panic. In any case their stirring music will give +1 to attack rolls of any worshippers of the gods of stability within 30 feet, and -1 to the attacks of any change worshippers.

They cannot talk as such, only communicating by parroting anything said to them in the form of a musical phrase, but can be persuaded to take spoken messages to a named person anywhere on Tékumel, or sometimes even on a plane beyond, in return for being sung or played to on an instrument. Being incorporeal they can move through any solid object and are unhindered by the majority of foes, and though slow for a flying creature they will always get through eventually.

With thanks to HP Lovecraft, Cthulhu and Azathoth.

Thúmis and Keténgku

The Dwellers in the Mist

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 6, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0

These tall, thin humanoid beings appear wreathed in mist as if in a garment and are only visible as dark patches with the impression of large sorrowful eyes looking through a veil. When they fight this mist expands, confusing friend and foes alike – any attack made within the mist has a 15% chance of fumbling and being accidentally directed at an ally, in addition to the base chance of fumbling for those with low Dex, and any bonus to hit or damage gained from Intelligence is nullified as people flail about at random at fleeting shapes.

The Dwellers themselves are perfectly able to see, and reach out languidly with long clawed hands to tap their foes. Each tap leaves a wound of 1 dice -1 damage.

The Dwellers never speak, they merely nod and point towards things they want with gaunt hands, and hold their palms up in admonition when they are presented with an unfair deal. In return for magic scrolls the Dwellers can assist in a number of other ways. They can become partly immaterial and merge with a summoner, surrounding him in a pearly grey nimbus of cloud which gives +2 AC. +2 on all saves, +4 vs Illusions or magic directed at his mind. Any hits against the summoner do damage to the Dweller first however, and when the Dweller reaches 0 HP the mist fades and the bonuses are lost.

The Dwellers can also cast Cure Minor Wounds on 1d6 people at once, Cure Serious Wounds on one person, and Cure Disease and Neutralise Poison, but will only do so in return for scrolls of spells of equivalent power.


The Gnomes of Dedé

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 4, T: nil, M 12”/6” tunnelling, L: 0

Servitors of Dedé the Lord of Earth, these brown-skinned creatures are a mere meter fall, with four thickly muscled arms, huge hands, four legs, a pot bellied body and a round bald head with one wide yellow eye, no nose and a wide mouth. They are immensely strong and they punch, kick and headbutt foes into submission doing 1dice +1 damage, and have +1 to attack.

They are always hungry and in return for large amounts of food, which must always be strictly vegetarian and accompanied by copious quantities of héngka beer, they will help the summoner dig tunnels and demolish doors or buildings, or hold back foes by building earthworks or walls if the stone is available.


Daughters of the Sea

NA: Special, HD: 1-1, AC 2, T: nil, M 12”/12” swimming, L: 0
Appear as Aridáni warriors with delicately scaled pale green skin dressed in highly decorated blue armour made of giant sea shells, wielding elegantly designed polearms with speed and grace. They can walk on water, or swim beneath it as easily as they can run, and fight at +2 to hit and +2 damage.

In return for blue gems and blue tinted glass coral they will lend one item of their equipment for a short time. Their helmets confer the ability to breathe under water, their sandals enable water walking and they will lend their polearms for one formal combat against a male only. These do +2 damage and can be used by any female character as if she was skilled in the weapon and with the same potential for multi-dice damage as a Warrior of the same level.

Belkhánu and Qón

The Áspisai

NA: Special, HD: 1-1, AC 4, T: nil, M 3”/30”, L: 0
Gold and iridescent green dragonflies with a 1.3 meter wingspan, these beautiful and delicate creatures strike at blinding speed with the razor sharp edges of their wings. In addition to doing half a dice damage each attack also drains one use of any spell or magical ability known by the target, starting with professional skills and ending with Group III enchantments. If the target is an apparition or a summoned creature it is immediately dispelled or dismissed, though creatures of 3 dice or more get a save vs magic. Undead attacked by Áspisai must also save vs magic or be immediately de-animated.

In return for gold leaf to burnish their carapaces the Áspisai will guide the summoner to safety from wherever he may be in the multiverse via a series of nexus points. Some these transits across different planes may be fairly hazardous, but there is never any danger of accidentally walking into a plane devoid of breathable air or with an unsurvivable temperature or pressure. Ones sanity might be at risk when traversing two or four dimensional planes (five dimensions are a no-no for humans and most other sentient species, though Pé Chói can just about cope, six plus are too weird for all but the Mihálli), but you will probably arrive back at your home plane and time physically intact.

Áspisai will also act as magical bodyguards, hanging around the summoner in an invisible and incorporeal state. They will then appear to intercept any hostile spell directed at him, taking it through the nearest nexus point for disposal. Only one spell can be taken care of in this fashion per Áspisai guardian.


Lightning Bugs

NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 2, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0
These are giant stag-beetle like insects with shiny silver carapaces and glowing lamps for eyes. Between the tips of their metallic mandibles is a constant electric arc which gives foes a nasty 1 dice+1 shock. Against foes with metal armour this is doubled, and anyone using a metal weapon against them who misses has a 50% chance of being parried by the spark and receiving a 2 dice shock in the arm. A fumble against a Lightning Bug automatically hits the arc.

Two bugs can create a bigger spark between them, stretching up to 3 meters and doing 1 dice+3 damage to anyone who touches it. It is only about 60cm off the floor so brave souls can jump over it if they make a Dexterity roll.

In return for spools of silver wire wound round amber rods the lightning bugs will also permanently magnetise any metal object, giving it anti-magic properties, or they will ‘spot-weld’ any two metal objects together.

The usual bug is a meter long and 40 cm high, but larger versions have been encountered with correspondingly larger sparks. The very biggest are five or more meters long and comparable to a Lightning Bringer siege engine in their damage.


The Legion of the Red Axe of Contingent Justice

NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 4, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0
These are handsome bearded warriors dressed in red lacquered antique Salarvyáni style armour and wielding red two-handed battle axes at +1 to hit and +3 damage. Legend has it that they were a crack unit in the service of the Fisherman Kings dedicated to wiping out corruption among the nobility, who fell foul of the Black Priesthood of Ksárul which was growing in power at the time. This is nonsense according to the Ksárulites, as Chegárra was not contacted by Pavár until several millennia after the Fisherman Kings were no more, but it is a fact that the Legion speak an ultra-archaic dialect of Bednálljan and wear armour of that period.

They are not very reliable servants however, and will inevitably involve any summoner in a debate (in Bednálljan) about the honour and justice of his actions in bringing them to this plane and requiring them to slay his foes. If they decide they are not following a just cause they may turn on the summoner. If however the summoner is eloquent enough in his pleas and can make sufficient citations of legal precedent they will serve without further payment, and may provide assistance over and above that asked for. Any law code will do, but that of the Fisherman Kings (unfortunately only known in fragmentary form) has greatest weight, and summoners must be aware that the Legion’s enthusiastic pursuit of their own version of justice may lead to a mini-crusade that violates the Concordat or breaks Imperial law.

Their usual help other than fighting is to advise the summoner when someone is telling a lie in his presence (and offering to decapitate him on the spot), leading a military unit in a forced march at double speed (though any slackers will be decapitated), dispelling illusions and enabling anyone near them to save vs Illusion at +2 (and insisting on hunting down and decapitating the lying illusionist who cast the spell).

They are also prone to sexism, a vice of their apparent historical age, and any female summoners will have even greater trouble controlling them and they will fight at -2 to hit against female foes for fear of hurting the dear ladies. This does not apply to their hereditary enemies, the followers of Ksárul and The Daughters of the Sea who follow Dilinála.

Hrü’ü and Wurú


NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 6, T: nil, M 3”/10”+2” per hit point, L: 0
The Notules are fluttering scraps of unreflective darkness, like a piece of the night sky given animation and a desire to kill. They are extremely hard to hit in the dark, gaining +2AC in twilight or in shadowy areas, +6AC in darkness. If slain with a slashing weapon like a sword or axe they rise again as two Notules, each with (original HP-1)/2 hit points, and are immune to damage from blunt weapons (though they will take damage from any magical bonuses such a weapon may have), and take half damage from piercing weapons.

Their attack is to drain heat energy. They do 1 damage per hp they have, gaining 1HP per 5 damage they inflict. A save vs magic halves this damage. In addition they drain 2x damage inflicted from the targets Strength, which can only be regained by magical healing.

On a critical hit they plaster themselves across the target’s face, blinding him and suffocating him in 3 rounds, in addition to any damage they may do by draining his body heat. Any attacks against the notule will also harm their victim at half damage.

They dislike bright light however and attack at -2 within the confines of a Light spell or in open sunlight. They will by preference attack the source of any Light spell in the hopes of dousing it.

They have no other functions and do not bargain or negotiate. Some more powerful sorcerers do have spells to keep them trapped in little metal boxes as surprises for their enemies, and others can direct them to seek out and assassinate named vicitms.

Blatantly stolen from The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe.


Those Who Stand Aside

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 4, T: nil, M 15”, L: 0
These creatures are never actually seen, their presence being announced by their thin whispery voices and the hair raising feeling that one is not so much being watched as quietly appraised for nutritional potential. At best they are seen as a shadow cast from behind the observer, a flickering indistinct shadow that tells nothing of their shape or size. They do reveal themselves fully to those they attack, but those who survive remember nothing clearly and describe fur, feathers, slime, claws, tentacles, eel-like bodies and avian demeanours each victim saying something different.

They do not attack physically, but deploy magical terror and shifting shadows. Each round they can terrify a victim, as per the Fear spell. They roll to attack as per AC9, their mere touch being enough to create the effect. Anyone who fails a save vs Magic must lose 1d20 Intelligence as well as flee in abject terror, and those reaching 0 intelligence have gone permanently insane. 

Those who fail their magic save must make second save vs Eyes must be made or the person takes 2d6 damage from an immediate heart seizure, losing another 1d20 Intelligence, and if they survive that they must make a third save or lose yet another 1d20 Intelligence and be paralysed with fear.

They do not ask for payment, they just quietly steal what they like from a summoners’ goods and depart, usually taking magic scrolls, talismans and amulets, but sometimes they will take the summoners’ child or spouse.

They can be called upon to help translate difficult writing. They do not know Thu’úsa or the Tongue of the Lord of Worms, but do know Sunúz and Mihálli, as well as the writing systems of other non-humans.

They can also guide a party to their nearest nexus point, but there is no guarantee that the point will be safe to use; it may lead to an airless void or the heart of a sun, or a plane infested with vicious inimical demons, they cannot tell.

Finally they can also follow the summoner in incorporeal form and materialise to push him aside when he is about to take a blow that will take him to 0 HP or below. They will do this once only for any given payment however.


The People of the Monolith

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 4, T: nil, M 0”/special, L: 0
These really are monoliths, 2.5 meters tall, 1 meter wide and 25cm thick, made of some very dark almost opaque glassy substance. They do not move as such but can teleport themselves into position near their targets (usually surprising them) or to wherever the summoner would like them to deploy.

They are masters of density and substance, and have a number of peculiar forms of assault. They can make themselves as hard as diamond and heavier then lead, giving themselves AC 0, but are unable to attack while in this state. They can also make a target semi-solid, making it impossible for them to attack physically as their weapons just pass through solid objects without causing harm. A target can only be harmed by steel weapons or magic while in such a state, and is in danger of being blown away by any psychic winds that may be blowing into or out of nearby nexus points. They may also make a person and their weapons very heavy and dense, slowing their movement and rate of attack by half, but increasing their AC by 2. All of these attacks are automatic requiring no throw to hit, have no saving throw and have a range of 20 feet.

They also increase the chances of spell casting success of any worshippers of Grugánu or Ksárul within 20 feet by 15%, and reduce the saving throw against their magic by 2.

They communicate by producing pale blue writing on their dark glassy surfaces, and know Sunúz, Ai Chè, Duruób, N’lüssá and Llyáni. They demand human sacrifices in return for their services. These are made in a particularly unpleasant manner; the sacrifice is bound and placed in a magical square ten feet in front of the Monolith. A tiny spot of light appears on the monolith which then sucks up the victim, stretching his physical being out like piece of screaming spaghetti.

A typical use of such a demon is to temporarily block a corridor or hold up a collapsing tunnel, though canny magicians have summoned them while they are falling into very deep chasms and had the monolith make them temporarily incorporeal, or had them make heavy golden treasures lighter and more portable. These demons can also act as a kind of transplanar webchat panel. A summoner may ask one of a pair of demons to teleport to a friend’s location and then speak to the one that remains. It translates his message, telepathically sends it to its mate, who then projects the message in the form of writing on its surface, sending back any reply made by the summoner’s colleague in the same fashion. The only drawback is the comparative obscurity of the languages known by the Monoliths.



As EPT p. 68

The priests of Sárku summon the relatively prosaic Mrúr as other priests summon demons. These Mrúr arrive equipped with armour and weapons from all periods of Tékumel’s history (including some yet to happen), though in a dilapidated state. The Mrúr cannot do anything other than fight and eat brains.


The Voices of the Unwilling Dead

NA: Special, HD: 1, AC 6, T: nil, M 0”, L: 0

These peculiar demons manifest as maces made of spinal columns with attached skulls. They cannot move of themselves, and teleport into the hands of the summoner and his allies, causing them to drop their currently held weapons.

Despite having no vocal chords and lungs these maces keep up a very lively screaming and gibbering, reducing enemy morale and their chances to hit by -1. The Voices give +1 to hit and do +1 damage. Each hit there is a 20% chance that the skull will manage to sink its teeth into an enemy, causing an extra 1d3 damage and passing on a terrible wasting disease. This disease immediately reduces Constitution by 1d20, and then by another 1d10 per week until it is cured. Starting with the fingers and toes the person begins to rot, losing the use of their hands and feet after a week, then their arms, knees, shoulders and so on, until nothing is left working except the torso, and even that goes mostly putrid. All that is left in the end is a screaming skull and a spinal chord.

The disease can be cured by the Temple of Durritlámish, but only in its early stages and the price they charge is steep. They will offer to care for the victim of the infection and ease their pain, on the understanding that they will be required to serve as an undead weapon from time to time.

The Voice can be deliberately targeted by an enemy, blows being directed at the weapon during combat rather than the wielder, but this requires some expertise in combat and can only be done on a successful % roll under Dex +10% per level , and only by a Warrior using a weapon he has some skill in.

In return for being allowed to infect a human sacrifice with their awful curse Voices will consent to serve as guards in the tombs of the faithful of Sárku and Durritlámish, usually sitting in a niche near a sarcophagus and raising a blood curdling scream to summon Mrúr and Shédra should it be opened.


The Everbabies

NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 4, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0

The Everbabies look like pale skinned toddlers of 2-3 years old, with chubby cheeks, wide blue eyes and fine curly blond hair, but expanded to about seven feet tall, and wearing body suits of chainmail with pot shaped metal helms adorned with pom-poms. They are armed with great bronze maces with little silver bells attached, and shields painted with brightly coloured designs depicting demonic beasts unfamiliar to people on Tékumel (teddy bears and fluffy ducklings).

They find great pleasure in violence, and once unleashed on an enemy they giggle and gurgle at the sight of blood and find screams of pain utterly hilarious, dancing happily in pools of gore as real babies do in rain puddles and stomping their enemies to meat paste. Their weapons do +2 damage on the first round, and if they hit they gain a further +1 to hit and +1 damage as the Everbaby works itself into a killing frenzy. They must save vs Eyes at the end of a combat or they will fail to disappear back to their own gruesome playpen of a plane and continue attacking any living thing in sight. A sorcerer or priest can attempt to dismiss any Everbabies he himself summoned, but needs to roll a successful spell casting roll to make it work.

They speak a simple lisped form of Tsolyáni, as well as their own gurgling tongue. They will offer to stay and ‘play’ with the summoner in return for all kinds of random and sometimes outrageous demands; flowers, a glass of milk, a crate of strong beer, the skull of a Sró, a pet Chnéhl, a moon on a stick, ten thousand káitars cash, all have been recorded in the annals of the Temple. The summoner should have the words of dismissal handy though, if the Everbabies are angered in the course of their bargaining they will throw a homicidal tantrum.

Their usual use by the temple is as assassins. Spells known to the highest circle sorcerers of the Temple will temporarily shrink the demons down to normal toddler size, and with a bit of hair dye and make up they will pass for a normal Tsolyáni child. Once smuggled into their enemy’s home in this innocuous guise, the spells are dispelled and the great infant thug gets to work.

They have a special animus towards Sárku and his more worm-like followers, taking great delight in throttling them with their bare hands and eating them. They are immune to all the poisons used by such creatures.

With thanks to my nieces.


The Bruvverhoud of the Dyslexicon

NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 4, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0

The Brothers are short humans about five feet tall clad in heavy red and orange sackcloth robes that cover their entire bodies. They wear rubber masks with glass eyepieces and strange cylindrical attachments on the front (gasmasks) and thick rubber gloves and boots. They wield shortswords for 1 dice damage and also have an unusual missile weapon, a three foot long tube with a flexible attachment that connects to a backpack made up of two glyph covered red and yellow cylinders (a flamethrower). This tube has various handles and attachments, and spews a gout of burning oil out to a distance of 30 feet. This does 1dice damage, plus 1 further dice per turn from burning until the target saves vs Eyes or has the fire extinguished by a friend. This is not so easy, mere water does not douse the oil and the flame must be smothered. They can also create pools of burning oil as a barrier.

The Brothers hate the written word, magic and intelligent non-humans, which they regard as evil in the eyes of their aspect of Vimúhla. They will accept that the God has sent them to aid a fellow worshipper by dint of a holy prayer, but if they witness any other magic of any kind being practised they will become angry and hostile. If they see any written words, or any hieroglyphs that look as though they might be words they will immediately try and seize and destroy the offending material. If they see a non-human organism behaving in a sentient fashion such as talking, using a tool, wearing clothes etc. they will attack them without mercy. They sometimes carry books with large brightly coloured pictures (never any words) of things that they say their deity has commanded them to burn, which they will consult if in doubt. Their robes are fireproof and they take no damage from flame-based attacks, though explosions such as Doomkill will still do concussion damage. Their masks make them immune to gas attacks as well.

They do not speak any language known to the scholars of the Five Empires and can only be communicated with via telepathy – which of course involves use of magic and immediately raises their suspicions. They can be persuaded to aid worshippers of Vimúhla in missions to destroy libraries, non-humans and spell casters, and with a sufficiently glib negotiator can be convinced that the use of magic by Vimúhla’s loyal priests and sorcerers can be tolerated if it is done in a holy cause. They can never accept non-humans as anything other than fuel for the holy fire however. If sufficiently impressed by the fervour and fighting ability of their Tékumeli allies they may also ask if the summoner can find a way to come to their aid in their endless crusade in their own universe. Those that have found the appropriate nexus points have not returned to tell any tales of the Brothers fiery war.

Their weapons are much coveted by the warriors of Vimúhla, but unfortunately they disappear when the demonic owner returns to his own plane or is slain.

Any resemblance to the Temple Avesti from the Fading Suns RPG is again intentional.

Hriháyal and Chiténg

The Dichotomanes

NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 9, T: nil, M 9”/18”, L: 0

These are more or less humanoid, but with some major differences from the standard human body plan; firstly they have decidedly confused sexual identities, sporting both large breasts and a penis, they have hands equipped with sharp claws, their feet have talons and they have bat-like wings. They have no body hair and are a pale grey colour, and wear no clothes, but do have needles stuck into their flesh at approximately one inch intervals, all over their bodies, and have heavy brass rings piercing their nipples, lips, noses, ears and various parts of their sexual organs.

They make two attacks per round, one using a long whip studded with bits of broken glass which does 1dice -1 damage, and anyone hit must save vs Eyes at +4 or lose a turn writhing in agony, the second using a barbed rod which injects a drug into the victim causing hallucinations and extreme ecstasy unless they save vs poison. This likewise makes them lose one turn, and they must save vs poison at +2 per turn there after to return to the fray, unless rudely awoken by a blow from the whip.

Pain and pleasure are all one to the Dichotomanes, and will demand to be tortured or allowed to take part in one or more of the 32 Unspeakable Acts as part of their payment. They have an uncanny ability to locate lost objects, as long as they are on the same plane as the Dichotomane, and will direct the summoner to the nearest hoard of emeralds, rubies or silver, though they cannot say how much the hoard is worth or what is guarding it.

Unallied demons

Not all demons worship one of the 20 Pavárian deities; some worship only the greater demons, some follow a Livyáni Shadow God, and certain documents hint at the awful servants of the Pariah Deities. Others worship no known deity at all, and act as trans-planar mercenaries, serving anyone who knows the spell to call them and meet their price.


NA: Special, HD: 1+1, AC 4, T: nil, M 9”, L: 0

The summoning spell for the Ürghk is contained in the epic poem ‘The War of the One Eyed God’, copies of which are found in several temple libraries. The priesthoods vigorously discourage the summoning of these demons, as they are far from easy to control, and summoning even a couple of them carries a risk of eventual invasion of the entire planet (see below). The Priesthood of Dlamélish have tried to convert them, since their behaviour suggest they are kindred spirits to the Green Lady’s followers, and have been eaten for their trouble.

They appear as humans with horrible snouted and tusked heads, slightly larger and stronger than the average man. They have thick hides, wear crude leather armour and wield stone axes and wooden shields. They stink and express themselves in the crudest and most guttural version of Tsolyáni imaginable. They appear in twice the usual numbers for minor demons (ie a Type I creatures spell will call 2d3), 80% of them being male and 20% female, and they will demand human captives to torture to death and eat before they will even consider fighting. They sometimes settle for sexually abusing their captives though, leaving them severely battered and often mutilated but alive (and unfortunately pregnant, see below).

They fight well enough once placated, but are very unwilling to return to their home planes and will flee from their summoner given half a chance. The males will attempt to mate with anything that moves out in the Tékumeli wilds, usually leading to their deaths, while the females will have litters of Ürghklings that will run wild and die trying to fend for themselves.

Any creature, male or female, that has mated with an Ürghk become pregnant, the foetus being parasitic on the intestine of any male victim and killing him by eventually eating his liver and bursting from the abdomen. The offspring of these unions are half-Ürghk, bizarre looking and often semi-intelligent beasts, but with the same insatiable sexual urge, and the ability to produce viable offspring, no matter how different their parents were. The products of mating with half Ürghk are of course quarter Ürghk, and so the Ürghk character becomes diluted – but eventually two organisms carrying Urghk genes will mate, producing an Ürghk with sufficient native characteristics to survive in Tékumel’s unforgiving environment.

Interplanar explorers have claimed to have found worlds where Ürghk have become endemic, breeding out in the wilds in such numbers as to be unextinguishable by the most determined attempts at genocide, and yet others where the Ürghk have managed to take over completely, savage planes full of interminable tribal warfare, rape and cannibalism.

The Ürghk are capable of gaining levels in professions as humans are, and it may prove very difficult to eliminate a high level Ürghk Warrior before they lead their demonic band to colonise the wild, and Ürghk Priests are the most dangerous of all, as they may be able to summon yet more of their brethren to this plane.

The Nebísh, aka The Screaming Pink Midgets aka The Blemmyae

NA: Special, HD: 1 hp each, AC 7, T: nil, M 12”, L: 0

There are demons greater than humans, and there are some, like the Nebísh, who are definitely lesser. The summoning spell is said to have been discovered by accident by the wizard Metállja, who ended up being captured by these creatures.

They are 6-9 inches high, humanoid but with no head, their faces are on their torsos. They use tiny bronze spears and polearms doing 1HP damage each, attacking at -2, but wear no clothing or armour. One Type I summoning spell will bring 3d6, for what it is worth. They will do whatever their caster asks of them to the best of their very limited abilities, but are utter cowards and will run away and hide if too many of them are getting killed.

They will ask that the caster or one of his servants accompany them back to their home plane to assist them in their wars; this is not usually possible as the spell to create a nexus point to this world is not now known. Sometimes a Nebísh priest will be among the horde summoned and he will know how to open such a gate. If the summoner disagrees he will find himself being kidnapped and dragged through against his will.

Those who have ended up in this peculiar situation (like Metállja), will be worshipped as a manifestation of the Nebísh wargod, and will be required to sit in a throne while his worshippers caper round him doing wardances, banging tiny cymbals and sacrificing endless processions of screaming victims to him. Every now and again he will be asked to smite enemy tribes of Nebísh, a gruesome and pathetic task involving much blood and suffering.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Known Worlds 3D Mapping

How to do it

3D maps are a bit more fiddly that 2D ones, but far from impossible to do.

Step 1
Make a 10x10 grid of squares on a big (A3 or more) bit of paper or computer graphics file. Hexes are OK, but squares are easier to draw, and once you get beyond jump 2 it's as much of a pain to work out distances as it is with squares.

Number it 0-9 along the X and Y axes.

Step 2
Roll 1000d10. Or do what I did and use a spreadsheet. Do it by groups of 10, one group for each square of map, and note where in the sequence of d10s you got a 1, stick a spot in your square with a number on it for each 1 you got, the number being the Z axis (how far 'up' your system is), again using 0-9. Some squares will have no planets, some multiples, just jig 'em about so they fit.

Example: I roll 7, 1, 3, 10, 4, 6, 7, 1, 3, 7. I put spots marked 2 and 8 in my square. If the tenth one had come up a one I'd have put 0, we want a range from 0-9. Makes writing the positions a tiny bit easier in the UPP, you just put xyz as three digits without having to stray into hexadecimals and use A for 10.

On the example map I used a bit of colour coding as well, easy to do with a graphics program.

Step 3
Eyeball your map and look for planets close together and mark key jump routes. I'm going to explain this by long-winded stages as I know maths evades many people.

Now to be generous I'm allowing Jump 1 ships to cover everything out to 1.99 parsecs, anything short of 2, Jump 2 covers 2 to 2.99, Jump 3 out to 3.99 and so on.

Distance between two points is √(x2 + y2 + z2), where x, y and z are the distances on the x y and z axes. Set up a widget on your spreadsheet to do the maths.

Example: Planet Alpha is at grid 137, planet Beta is at 145, so distance is 1-1 = 0 on the x axis, 4-3 = 1 on the y axis and 7-5= 2 on the z axis.

Square them, 0, 1, 4, add them up, 5, take the square root, 2.236... and it is a Jump 2 between these two worlds.

In practice you don't have to get your calculator out and do hundreds of sums, as anything one square over, one along and one up or down or less turns out to be jump 1; 2 squares difference in just one or two of the axes jump 2, and 2 squares difference in two and one in the other is jump 3.

On the example map I have marked all the jump 1 routes in magenta, some of the jump 2 routes in blue and a couple of jump 3 routes in yellow. Putting in all the routes will make the map an utter mess of lines, but make sure each has at least one connection.

Go on doing this until you have a web of connections joining every planet and you have an idea of how planets cluster and which are comparatively isolated, though such worlds may be easily accessible from neighbouring sectors. If players want to go off these lines, fine, they will have to get their calculators out and see if they can do it.

Where is my sector?

Earth is at the centre of Known space and occupies the far corner of the eight central sectors. Your sector's 0,0,0 square will be some multiple of 10 parsecs spinward, trailing, coreward, rimward, north or south of Earth. The first four directions will be familiar enough to old Traveller hands, north and south refer to being 'above' or 'below' the basic galactic plane. The example map, Aquila Sector is 0 parsecs spinward, 10 parsecs rimward and 0 parsecs north of Earth.

On the diagram below the eight core sectors are in blue and Aquila Sector is marked in yellow, with the 000 point marked as a spot in one corner.

Didn't you say something about distance from Earth affecting population?

Yup (see last post). Now you know where Earth is relative to your sectors 000 point (0, -10, 0 for the Aquila Sector) you could work out the exact distance for each planet in it, but that being a ball-ache, you could use a rule of thumb and say everything left, right, above or below a certain line will have a certain pop mod. In the case of the Aquila Sector I deem everything one the left half of the map up to column 4 to be close enough to Earth to merit a -2 pop modifer, so pop is rolled on 2d6-4, everything in column 5 or above a -3, so pop is rolled on 2d6-5.

The right half of the map will have plenty of sparsely inhabited or uninhabited systems, places with nothing more than a few dozen people eking a living on the frontier, making up a scientific expedition or perhaps a military unit left as a 'place marker' until their home nation can get enough people together to make up a proper colonising expedition. Some places will be a name and a number on a star chart somewhere, visited briefly by a scoutship years ago to count how many planets they had and rarely visited since, if ever.

The real edge of Known Space is another 10-15 parsecs out, with places ever more vaguely mapped and more systems not visited at all. Anything could be out there, anything... That lost colony of space Nazis you hear about it starport bars, that interstellar equivalent of the Donner expedition, stranded on an airless moon eating each other, an asteroid made of gold, a monastery of psionic Buddhist monks, real live bug eyed monsters with tentacles and everything...

Filling in the details

Don't. Start with one planet, maybe roll up the planets within one jump in case the players decide (or have to) skip town. The players might want to know where the highest tech place is they can go to and stock up on gear – tell them a random blank one some way off and dice it up when they get there. Ship's Star Atlases are generally an out of date mess (see Scouts below) and further out from Earth you get the sparser the data gets. The only reliable info will be the actual location of the stars themselves. Some crackpots claim they have seen wandering stars and that the Russians/Americans/Chinese/Freemasons/Secret Cabal of Lizard Overlords have deliberately introduced falsified data on that to hide secret systems and lead enemies into jumping into interstellar space light years from anywhere.


There is no unified scout service in Known Space. Each large nation and alliance on Earth and the well established independent colonies has their own, and private companies and freelancers operate as well. With colonies springing up, amalgamating, splitting and fizzling out all over the place much of the work of the national scout services is surveying, visiting known worlds and seeing what is going on, and as couriers maintaining contact with colonies set up by their home nation. Exploration still goes on, with scout companies sending ships hither and yon gathering data and selling it to the highest bidder, all hoping to strike it rich by finding a new Earth and selling it's location and resource data to any nation willing to pay for getting a head start on its exploitation and colonisation.

Next week - the Known Worlds Wiki, and, hopefully, an adventure.