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Season Content Suite One: Winter   1 comment

Here is my entry for the Winter is Coming festival, and my first Season Content Suite. Following this I will hopefully be designing a module/adventure titled “The Abandoned Temple of Istlah-Dul”, which will (hopefully) include a set of villages, several useful tables, items and monsters, and the named Temple of Istlah-Dul. No clue what level it will be yet.

All stats are based for Swords and Wizardry (though easily converted to other games, as always), with some inspiration coming from The Random Esoteric Creature Generator and Realms of Crawling Chaos (the first helped with the Bloody Maw, and the second with the Circlet of Jaas Halud).

SEASON ONE: WINTER

  • Festivals
  • Monsters
  • Spells and Rituals
  • Non-Player Characters
  • Mundane Equipment
  • Magic Items
  • Random Tables/Charts
  • Miscellanea
FESTIVALS:

Sian-nital: Celebrated continent-wide on Balsanar, even in the Savanna. Sian-nital is a celebration of the new year, marked by the first true day of winter. The holiday is much in the way of a crafting week. Those skilled with woodworking make crafts from dying trees. The hunters have begun to bring in the first winter pelts and so beautiful white furs are sold. Those skilled in botanical mixtures begin to sell their elixirs that can only be made when the winter-blooming plants and flowers grow. All in all it is a gathering of the populace, no matter the size of it – from large city to the smallest village – good cheer – and good beer – is to be had by all.
Alongside these winter nights, many volunteer to guard the borders of civilization, as creatures soon to hibernate hunt for their last gullet-filling meals, and the occasional cult seeks to practice their wicked rituals. These volunteer guards are drawn from all walks of life (though are often from the Mercenary Guild and various adventurers and actual guards), and are well taken care of by wandering Aid Caravans through the week, carrying with them warm meat, warm ale, and warm lovers.
To go with the festival are the ever-present festival activities and games. You have the typical assortment of children running through the streets, making games up as they go, but the adults have their own entertainment:

Snow Packing: an absurd measure of masculinity (often joined in by women eager to prove their mettle), Snow Packing is a strange competition to see who can stuff the most snow inside their clothing without looking as though they are actually packed full of snow. The contestants stand in a metal bucket so as to catch any melting snow. At the end of the contest (typically around ten minutes), judges determine who appears to have the least amount of snow in them, in order, and then everyone empties their snow into the bucket and melts it. Whoever has the best ratio of least appearing to most water in the bucket wins.
This game goes back to a practice by those that travelled the mountains in the winter, where the only way down sometimes was to roll down the side of a cliff. To prevent harm, they would pack their layers of clothes with snow and roll down, hoping for the best. While the practice worked, it was still extremely dangerous, and tales of it were carried into local taverns and have always been a bit of a joke on failed expeditions and hopeless travelers.
Yellow Arrows: a game played only by the drunkest, often in the dead of night after a long day of celebration. This game is to see who can manage to urinate the farthest into the snow. Many of times this drunken game has ended in a friendly brawl outside the back of a tavern over who took the farthest piss.
The White Doe Hunt
: a traditional game among hunters played on the first day of the festival. The hunters go out to the nearby forests or woods and attempt to find the finest white-haired deer they can, and capture it. The deer is not killed, but subdued and carried through town to the judging table, where the deer billed as the finest is killed and offered to the ruler of the town, while the rest are set free.

The Great Beast Hunt: This is a festival held midway into winter when all the big beasts have gone into hibernation, but the stranger beasts of the wilds being to wake. The target of this hunt is a winter-waking breed of Drake that live in the forests close to civilization. These great beasts are rare, often only one or two at a time in an entire region; however during winter they gather to breed. Females are far more limited than males and so several swarm on whatever forest happens to hold a female. Typically only the nations of the grasslands have to worry about this problem, and to control it, the Great Beast Hunt was developed. When scouts see the large drakes flying in from the mountains and forests from beyond, they signal to the people to hide indoors. The hunters, and often many travelling adventurers, gather their equipment and set out to make camp on the edge of the woods, attempting to sleep through the echoing sounds of mating and fighting among the drakes. In the morning, when the drakes are sated and asleep, the hunters creep through the trees and single out one drake – as the males refuse to sleep near one another. They then ambush the drake and attempt to kill it and drag it back to town. There are rarely many deaths but broken bones and permanent injury are common, but acceptable to those involved as the various parts of a drake are highly useful for many trades. Whoever strikes the final blow is awarded a cloak of drake-skin and heralded as the best hunter for that year.

The Rites of Istlah-dul, God of the Frozen Wastes: this day-long festival takes place near the end of winter and is dedicated to the local god of death, who is said to live in a land of endless, dark winter. There are three rites: a sacrifice of a bear in a wicker sphere in the snowy fields, the burning of those that died from wintry troubles to carry their spirits to Istlah-dul, and a somber feast.

MONSTERS:

Winter-Waking Drake
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4) or bite (2d6), tail slap (1d6)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: spit freezing phlegm, immune to cold
Move: 9/20 (flying)
Alignment: Neutrality
Challenge Level/XP: 8/800

The Winter-Waking breed of drake only wake when the weather becomes cold, where they quickly devour anything edible nearby and then hunt down females of the species and mate, often fighting many other drakes for the right.

This breed of drake can also spit a freezing ball of phlegm at their enemies. Unless a save is made, the target is entangled in the sticky, freezing goop until it turns brittle in around five minutes. The target also takes 1d4+2 points of damage from the temperature alone unless they are wearing thick winter wear.

The Winter-Waking Drake has many properties for which its body is prized. The skin, scaled and hardened against the cold, is valued highly for use in the creation of cloaks, boots, and hats. A full skin can sell for about 800gp (or sp if you use the silver standard). The teeth can be sold as a set to collectors or novelty lovers for about 12gp, and the claws for around the same price. The gland that allows the Drake to spit their freezing phlegm is valued by alchemists for elixirs and potions used for anything involving low temperatures, and by spellcasters for similar reasons. This gland can go for upward of 1000 to 2000gp depending on the market. (Used alongside a relevant spell, such as Cone of Cold, the target saves at -2)

The Bloody Maw of the Cold Woods
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Attacks: bite (1d8+2), 2 vines (1d4+1)
Saving Throw: 12 (6 against magic)
Special: aura of fear, feast of fear, swallow whole, rubbery body
Move: 6
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

The Blood Maw of the Cold Woods is a warped being, summoned by strange cults during rites only able to be completed in winter. The being is a rubbery, quadruped plant, about the size of an elephant, with two large vines and a “neck” and “head” resembling a Fly-Trap, and coated in blood that seeps from every inch of its body – which shows starkly against the white snow. It walks plodding through the woods it has been summoned in as a passive guardian, feeding on dead animals and its favorite, the fear of sentient beings. For the relevant ritual, see the spells and rituals section further down.

Upon seeing the beast, saves must be made against Fear, as per the spell (though only within sight). Anyone who fails their save has their fear “harvested” by the creature, where it gains +2 temporary HP per failed save. If everyone present passes their saves it will ignore them and walk on. Its rubbery body helps it defend against attacks, in that any attack that rolls below half its possible damage (eg 1-2 on a d6) simply bounces off. As an additional horrible possibility, if it manages to hit with its bite and both vines on a single target, the target will be shoved into the “mouth” of the monster and will be coated with sticky blood and slowly pulled down the throat to be swallowed whole.

Snow Wight (a bit of humor)
A Snow Wight is spawned when a dwarf dies out in frozen grasslands during the depths of winter. They are rather uncommon, with all the same abilities of a regular wight, except that their touch also freezes their victims solid.

The Ghoulish Wolves of the God All Consuming
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Attacks: Bite (1d6+4) + paralysis
Saving Throw: 12
Special: Immunities, paralysis
Move: 20
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP:
Amount Appearing: 2d10+4

The Ghoulish Wolves of the God All Consuming are strange not-quite-undead wolves said to be summoned by the barbaric avatar of Istlah-Dul when he hungers. They streak out of a blizzard at night and take any they see, from adults to children to other animals. Their bites freeze an individual (granting a save), effectively paralyzing them. After taking 1d10 victims they will tear off back into the blizzard and disappear. They are immune to sleep, charm, and hold effects, but can be banished if done quick enough.

SPELLS AND RITUALS:

Animate Snow
Spell Level: Magic-User, 1st level.
Range: 60’
Duration: 1 hour

This spell allows the caster to animate one creature made of snow per level of the caster. The creatures can take any shape the caster desires. They are each 1/2 HD (3 hit points), save at 18, have an AC of 9 [10], and may make one attack that deals 1d4+1 damage upon hitting.

Ritual of the Bloody Maw
This ritual is a well-kept secret of the various druidic cults, part of their seasonal defender summoning rituals. The ritual is passed down from head druid to head druid and has never been written down in full, and only fragments of that document are said to exist.

The ritual takes two hours and requires five members of the cult to stand in a circle holding hands, inside of which a bear must feast upon a living sacrifice. The head druid must chant the ancient words and finishes as the sacrifice finally passes away. With a loud shout from all the members involved the bear is grasped by vines from deep within the woods and turned inside out and the power invested through the ritual infuses the bear, slowly turning it into a Blood Maw over the course of the final hour, after which it is able to be commanded by the members of the cult.

Grasp of Primeval Winter
Spell Level: Cleric, 4th Level
Range: target within sight
Duration: 1 Turn + Concentration

This spells calls to the very Concept of Ice itself to consume the target with tendrils of ancient black ice, causing them to hallucinate visions of horror and icy death as they slowly freeze to death. This will only last for ten minutes, and while they become paralyzed it won’t kill them, unless the caster concentrates on keeping the connection to the Concept of Ice open, in which case the target will die after 2 failed saves (one per following Turn), but wounding the caster 1d6+2 points of damage each turn spent concentrating.

Ritual of the Shrouding Snowstorm
This ritual requires a snowy area of at least 5 miles and takes 10 minutes to complete, but takes about 30 minutes to begin to take effect. When completed, a mild snowstorm will begin to kick up in a two mile radius around the ritual site. This snowstorm will appear to all but the most aware as a natural weather pattern. The snowstorm will protect against all forms of magical scrying and mundane vision, shrouding the ritual site entirely except for 20 feet out from the location. Those involved can see out of the storm without a problem. It will also prevent mundane animals from wandering into the storm.

To complete this ritual, a 20 to 30 foot ritual circle must be drawn in the snow with the blood of animals and the winter pelt of any animal burned in a pyre per hour the effects of the ritual are to last. An invocation of protection from the god of secrets must be chanted, followed by the eating of two eyes by the invoker– animal or not.

NON-PLAYER CHARACTERS:

Aberash Kamali

Aberash Kamali is a Cleric of Istlah-Dul, God of the Frozen Wastes. He has always lived in the frozen lands of constant winter and as such is intimate with death in the snowfields. His early years he spent cloistered until wanderlust send him adventuring into ancient ruins, covered in the deep snow, alongside many delvers. After many years, he has come back to his home town to care for the people there, especially in aiding the dying and helping to ease their passage into the afterlife. Much of his time is spent in either the monastery or watching the stars through his looking glass at night.

Aberash certainly is an unusual man to look upon. He stands 6’6”, with a tall, skinny figure, hungry eyes, and a full length slowly graying beard. His hair too is streaked with gray, far beyond his age, he walks with a limp, and one ear is missing – while the other contains a silver earring. He wears a slightly tarnished bronze circlet on his head, an artifact found during his travels.

Personality-wise, he is a sullen and doleful man, though slightly neurotic when stressed. He has a fear of being touched by others and has a halting speech. His travels have taken him among many peoples, so he can speak the basics of Elven, Goblin, and Gnomish. He also has a minor obsession with playing with campfires, staring deep into the fire while poking at it the entire time he is awake.

Aberash Kamali: HD 5; HP 14; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 polehammer (1d8); Save 12; Special: Circlet of Jaas Halud

Circlet of Jaas Halud: this ancient circlet enables the wielder to summon six large albino worms from the earth to constrict one or more targets within 30’. Treat these worms as the tentacles of a giant octopus for all statistical purposes. These worms disperse after 1d6+1 rounds. This power may be invoked up to 3 times a week, and emits a faint, maddening piping when used.

MUNDANE EQUIPMENT:

Whale Bone Pulk: This is a cargo toboggan is built with the long bones of the cold water whales. With the hollow bones, it is light, yet sturdy. The key point of using whale bone is the length, allowing for less material to be required. A whale bone pulk requires at least two individuals to pull it, or several dogs. It is large enough to hold most, if not all, the supplies for a sojourn into the cold lands.

Requires: whale bones, cloth, adhesive or nails, rope.

Snow Blind Goggles: These goggles are used to control the amount of UV rays entering the eyes, keeping the harsh reflection of the sun on the snow from burning out your corneas. Traditionally made from caribou antlers with thin slits cut into them, they have kept many safe from going blind in the wastes.

Requires: antlers or wood slab, tool for cutting slits, sinew or string to attach to head.

Ulu: The ulu is a crescent blade attached to a wooden or bone handle. The ulu is a multipurpose knife, used heavily in the skinning and cleaning of animals, as well as cutting up food and whatever else needs to be. The curved blade and close handle give excellent control compared to most knives, especially for cutting such things as bone. Due to its build it is also able to easily be used one-handed for most purposes. The ulu is not meant as a weapon, but if built strongly could be used in a pinch. (Treat as a knife that only deals slashing damage for all statistical purposes).

Requires: slate, copper, steel, iron and ivory, bone, or wood.

MAGICAL ITEMS:

Orb of Winter: An orb made of black ice about 5 inches in diameter, created by a desperate sorcerer trapped in a snowed-in cave in the frozen wastes. The sorcerer sacrificed his two companions to some being known only to him in return for an implement that might allow him to save himself. The ice around him turned black with an evil energy and shed pieces off which coalesced into the Orb. With it, he was able to control anything made or related to frozen water.
When used, the wielder cannot place the Orb down as it will freeze to their hands through any and all material, and will slowly remove the heat from their body, freezing them to death after one turn (ten minutes) of use. The Orb will release its grip when it ceases to be used for its primary function, but if the wielder dies it will stay frozen in their grasp.

The Necklace of Yula Machan: The necklace is made from caribou sinew threaded through the tooth of an ancient white dragon. Yula found the dragon’s remains on a trek into the mountains in the north and raided what little was left of its hoard, taking a tooth as a keepsake – and for its ease of enchantment. She worked her magic on it and the necklace was created.
The necklace will protect the wearer from the physical effects of freezing temperatures, but the use will still feel these effects. So diving into a pool of 40 below waters will not cause any damage to the wearer, but they will feel every bit of pain that they would normally feel from doing so.
Every week the necklace is worn risks a cumulative 1% chance of the spirit of the long-dead dragon forces itself into reality and assaults the wearer, fighting as a 10 HD dragon, but incorporeal and unable to be damaged except by magical weapons or magic.

Hand of the Ice Witch: This dried, shriveled and inhuman hand has been made into a glove, with stitching of troll hair and arcane symbols inlaid in silver. The hand belonged to an elder troll witch of a northern cabal. When delvers slew her, her fellow witches took her hand and used it to make this powerful artifact.
The hand can be used to cast control weather once a week, but only to produce a blizzard in a 20 square mile area. Once a day it may be used to cast Ice Storm as per the spell.
Each use brings a 5% chance of the hand growing into the user’s skin, slowly becoming one with the user. If the user spend a full round cutting and digging into his or her hand, they can remove the glove. Otherwise, after a full turn (ten minutes), the hand will become their new hand and both it and the arm it is attached to will organically grow double their original size.

Yahruk Desmal – “The Book of Isolation”: Yahruk Desmal is a book with thin, pressed copper pages bound in the skin of an unknown creature that always feels cold to the touch with a copper clamp on the spine. . Each page has designs cut into it and when the book is clamped to an upright pole and the sun is overhead, allows for the page to be easily read against the ground. In this manner, the designs can be carefully drawn with whatever the ritual therein requires. The book contains the Ritual of Shrouding Snow, a barely comprehensible ritual for freezing one’s self alive for cryo-hibernation, and an article in a long dead language that can be translated with careful study to essentially be about the finer points of isolation. If destroyed, the book will exile everyone within 30’ into the void between the stars.

 

RANDOM TABLES:

1d8 What’s hidden under the snow?
1 A long-dead lizardman frozen in a layer of ice, dressed in sorcerer robes with a look of horror on his face. Has a strange book on a ten foot pole in front of him.  (Yahruk Demsal – “The Book of Isolation”).
2 An expedition of gnomes dressed for mountain climbing and huddled around a dead fire pit. Total gold: 3d10 pieces and 4 precious gems worth 80-100gp each.
3 A single door, standing of its own volition. If opened, it will reveal a portal to the top of the nearest mountain peak, one way.
4 4 elder creatures from beyond the stars, unrecognizable by modern sentients.
5 A single candle, emitting Continual Light as per the spell.
6 2 giant skeletons in embrace. Will awaken and fight if disturbed.
7 An entire mammoth. Can be animated as a zombie if a player feels like it.
8 A crack in the earth leading to an underground lake with a prehistoric Giant Fish (10 HD 23’ long)

 

1d10 Treasures of the Frozen Wastes
1 A Polar Bear-skin cloak with the head used for a hood and snow-blind goggles built in.
2 A steel longsword with a hilt made from mammoth ivory, pommel carved in the shape of a snow leopard’s head, the designs inlaid with silver, and a feathered cord of ancient leather and white peacock feathers tied to the guard.
3 A leather bag filled with 7 mushrooms known to only grow in the coldest, darkest caves. Eating one will daze an individual for 2 hours and open them to suggestions. They fetch a high price on the right black market.
4 A glass vial filled with an emulsion of poisonous cold weather flowers in alcohol and essential oils. If burned as incense, the smoke from the flowers will erase the breather’s memories for the past 1d3 days, and if drunk as a whole will send a person into a slow death spiral as their brain cells degrade one by one over the course of 1d6 hours.
5 A man-sized statue of Istlah-Dul (or any other god of winter or death) carved from quartz and turquoise. The patterns and various designs of the “clothes” are gold. The appearance of the god does not match the commonly accepted appearance of the modern day, with a heavy deviance into an almost monstrous appearance.
6 A large wooden box with a blanket made from the winter coats of foxes. Superior craftsmanship.
7 A walking staff made from the tusk of a narwhal with strange trinkets tied to it with strips of leather, from idols of various gods made out of ivory and gold, to pouches of dried flowers. 1d10+5 small pouches in total, contents randomly determined by the GM.
8 A bull walrus stuffed with a female walrus stuffed with a baby walrus stuffed with damaged furs. Each walrus is completely gutted.
9 A small, fist-sized iron box filled with spores of an unknown fungus. When it is opened without care, the spores will go everywhere, infecting those within 5’ of the box. If a save is passed, the individual is fine, but if failed they will be infected as the fungus begins to grow from the inside, infesting organs and liquefying them over the course of 1d4 days, resulting in the individual’s death. The fungus will eventually get grow through the skin and liquefy the body until all that is left is a patch of horrid purple fungus that smells of rotten flesh.
10 A skin-tight body suit sized for a Halfling made from the skin of a penguin. When worn it will protect against the cold (giving a -5 to saves against cold weather or water) and is waterproof.

 

MISCELLANEA:

Istlah-Dul, God of the Frozen Wastes: Istlah-Dul is one of the more prominent and recognized gods in the frozen lands. Considered a local god, Istlah-Dul is very rarely worshipped outside of the people in cold fringes, and many monstrous tribes worship strange avatars of his. His realm is said to be a never-ending winter wasteland, snow always falling and nothing alive and growing.
To the more civilized races, Istlah-Dul’s avatar is that of an extremely tall and gaunt – yet regal – human wearing a walrus-hide robe, one hand holding a radiant sphere and the other outstretched and open. His face bears no ears and eyes, as it is said he cares not for the whimpering and begging of the dying, and will take all regardless of their form of existence. This avatar is a lawful being.

To the more barbaric, his avatar appears to be mutable, seen differently by each race of the wilds. However, they all contain similar aspects. Istlah-Dul still appears tall and gaunt, but his skin is removed and his teeth are fanged; the shining orb is replaced with a skull and his hands are long and clawed, encrusted with filth. On his cloak are blasphemies against the living written in blood. In this form he is said to take all – dead or alive, as all will one day pass into his realm. Sacrifices are made to this avatar in hopes of keeping his appeased and away from their tribe. It is said he sends howling, ghoulish wolves into villages at night to steal away children for his dark feasts that, like his hunger, never end. This avatar is a chaotic being and is named ISTLAH-DUL, THE GOD ALL CONSUMING.



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