Sunday 7 February 2021

Journey to the Sandsea

In remote places, as well as in the dark bowels of great cities, the Lungsmen ply their trade in illicit substances, including the Covenant Weed whose powerful fumes transcend space and time. Those who partake overmuch of the Covenant Weed find themselves in the deep sandscape of the Sandsea - an alternate plane where twin moons share the sky with unending sunlight. The desert stretches on forever, cut by oases and fertile river-washed plains whose waters come from some unknown birthplace and to some unknown end.

Crossing the Sandsea forever are the Creedsmen of the Covenant, carrying tightly-bound bundles of the Covenant Weed across the desert sands, making forever for the Holy City where they will find smoke-induced rest.

Lungsmen: Init +4; Atk breath drug powder or smoke (special); AC 14; HD 2d6; MV 40’ or climb 20'; Act 1d20; SP drugs, immunity to drugs, death throes; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +4; AL N.

This stuff isn't going to sell itself. 

The Lungsmen may look human - if a bit thin and unkempt - but they are not. They creep into our worlds from the Sandsea, bringing with them the Covenant Weed and other drugs. If the judge has access to Narcosa, she may wish to convert some of the illicit substances described therein, and allow the Lungmen to travel to and from that plane as well.

The Lungmen spread the Covenant Weed as part of their religion. Although they demand payment for their wares, this is only because they have learned that humans (and their ilk) are less suspicious of those pleasures which are dearly bought.

If forced into combat, a Lungsman can throw or breath drug powders or smokes in an attempt to confound its enemies. When a Lungsman uses this ability, roll 1d7 and consult the following table:

1:    The Lungsman tosses a handful of black powder at a single target within 10'. Target must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or lapse into pleasant unconsciousness for 1d3 turns.

2:    The Lunsman breathes out a pale green smoke in a 15' radius centered on the Lungsman. All within the cloud must succeed in a DC 10 Will save or be numbed and unable to act for the next 1d3 rounds.

3:    The Lungsman throws a pale yellow powder in the air, affecting up to three adjacent targets within 10'. Targets experience indescribably ecstasy for the next 1d6 minutes, and make all rolls at a -3d shift on the dice chain during this time. There is no save.

4:    The Lungsman blows a line of thick grey smoke at a single target within 30'. Target must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or take a -1d shift on the dice chain for all rolls until they have spent at least three rounds eating.

5:    The Lungsman tosses an amber-and-orange colored power onto a target within 5'. Target must succeed in a DC 20 Fort save or be effectively blinded by hallucinations of strobing psychedelic colors lasting 1d30 minutes.

6:     The Lungsman breaths a cone of mauve-hued smoke 15' long with a 10' base. All caught within it must make a DC 10 Will save or be so overcome with peaceful goodwill that they cannot make an effective attack for the next 1d5 minutes.

7:    The Lungsman throws an emerald powder at one target within 10'. Target must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or take 1d5 points of Strength, Agility, and Stamina damage. This damage is recovered at 1 point per minute, and cannot reduce a character to 0 in any ability score.

A Lungsman itself is effectively immune to all drugs. If slain, there is a strong odor of potent smoke as the creature passes out of existence, disappearing entirely. Roll 1d7 on the table above; all targets within 30' are affected.

Note that Lungsmen do not harm or molest those who fall to their drug-induced stupors. They are not violent as a rule.

Covenant Weed

The Lungsmen usually charge 5 gp per dose of this substance, although it is possible to acquire cheaper doses cut with impurities that may remove its potency or even endanger the user. Covenant Weed is smoked, requiring about 5 minutes to fully partake of a dose. It has the following properties:

  • Each dose can be used to add +5 to a single spell check made within the next turn.
  • Each dose adds 2 temporary hit points to the partaker; all damage comes from these hit points first, which fade after 1d3 x 10 minutes if not used.
  • Each dose cause 1d3 temporary Agility damage, which recovers at the rate of 1 point per turn.
  • Each dose requires a DC 5 Fort save to avoid the permanent loss of 1 hp.
  • Each dose requires a DC 10 Will save to avoid a permanent -2 penalty to spell checks.
  • Each dose gives a cumulative 2% chance of falling into a dream in which the character's spirit is transported to the Sandsea.

The Sandsea

There is endless sand everywhere. The sun is hot. Characters not equipped for the desert take 1d3 damage from exposure each hour. Wandering or standing still, it takes a full hour before a Creedsman caravan finds the character.

The judge may rule that other creatures - giant scorpions, serpents, or giant sandworms - might pose threats when characters are not travelling with the Creedsmen.

Creedsmen: Init +2; Atk hookah pipe +0 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP immune to drugs and the Sandsea, death throes; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.

The Creedsmen are humanoids whose features are never seen. Their creaky rasping voices suggest that they are some form of insectkind or arachnids, but if slain they simply fade away, with only their robes and their hookahs remaining. They spend their time marching toward the Holy City, refreshing their hookahs, repacking their beasts, and preaching the pleasures of the Covenant Weed and the glories of the Holy City.

Each hour spent in the company of the Creedsmen caravan grants a wizard or elf a +1 bonus when attempting to learn a new spell within the next 30 days.

Beasts of the Caravan: Init +0; Atk butt +4 melee (1d4+2) or kick +0 melee (1d5+2); AC 12; HD 3d8; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP immune to the Sandsea; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +1; AL N.

There may be some strange circumstance that brings these beasts into the deserts of the mundane world, or where creatures from the Sandsea attack a caravan - but such circumstances would be unusual indeed. It should be noted that these creatures have human intelligence and speech, and wax poetic of their service to the Creedsmen and the Green Herbsmen (who- or whatever they might be). They too dream of the Holy City, where, according to the Beasts, night will finally fall and they can rest.

Ending the Dream

Time continues, hour after hour, in the Sandsea, and little changes. Each hour, the damage from the Sandsea continues unabated. The Creedsmen of the Covenant do not tire, nor do their beasts, but every three hours the damage taken by PCs travelling with them (unless they have protection from bowing sand, heat, and dehydration) increases the damage per hour by another die. PCs traveling with the caravan for more than 6 hours must make a Fort save (DC 10 +2 per additional hour) to keep up. Those left adrift on the sands may become prey for other creatures, at the judge's discretion.  Usually, the drugged travelers only awaken when their hit points reach 0, or they would otherwise die within the Sandsea. The judge may also allow the trip to end when it becomes boring for the participants invovled.

The judge may also allow the PCs to meet other strange creatures from other worlds travelling with a caravan before the PCs awake, although these events should not occur on more than a 1 in 7 chance. The Sandsea is vast, the caravans many, and the visitors at any given moment are few.

Visitors to the Sandsea slumber in a drug-induced haze within their own worlds. During this time, their bodies are untenanted and vulnerable. The dream lasts a little longer than an hour in the mundane world, no matter how long the dreamer's spirit spent in the Sandsea.

When a traveler to the Sandsea awakens, they have the benefits of having slept a full night - including restoration of lost spells, healing, and Luck (if applicable). Clerics find their disapproval ratings reset. Any damage taken within the Sandsea 

However, not all voyagers survive the experience. The dreamer must succeed in a Will save (DC 2, increased by a cumulative +2 for each subsequent trip to the Sandsea). Failure means that the slumberer never arises. Their body dies and, if the Lungsmen are to be believed, their souls complete the journey to the Holy City where they may rest in smoke-shrouded temples.

I try to include elements from the album as well as the cover image when I do these posts, and I try to make the content both interesting and usable at the table. The history of this album is actually interesting, and you can listen to the album here.

I have tried to make the Covenant Weed something that would actually be used by a PC by choice. The mechanical benefits are intentionally greater than the drawbacks, but the drawbacks are such that continuous use of the drug may alleviate them. This is intended to mirror the wizards of Robert E. Howard and others who spend an inordinate amount of time in the dreams of the Black Lotus to keep their magic strong.

Finally, the Class Alphabet actually contains a Drug User class, which might be of use if you wish to place whole adventures in the world of the Sandsea or Narcosa.

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