Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Night Hagdoms of the Calf Plateau

On the bare galeswept hump of the plateau, nothing can grow except for the most rudimentary life: lichens fed by starlight which achingly spread across the rock, inch by inch, century by century; fungal growths which grope their way over the surface, laying completely flat as though ducked down against the wind. But the surface is riven with deep ravine-like networks of cracks and chasms, gouged into the landscape by earthquakes and tremors, and those places are thick with life, scrabbling around in the utter blackness of permanent night where not even moon- or starlight penetrates. The reason is simple: guano. The bats which lair on the Calf in their millions are constantly producing nutritious effluent which flows in streams - sometimes rivers - of rain that gradually collect in these networks of cracks and flow downhill to the sea. All this waste produces enough food for entire ecosystems to be sustained.

Much of this life is the most base and unthinking kind: giant lice sucking on effluent and the giant centipedes and axlotls which feed on them; myriad types of nameless clawed arthropod things whose origins could only be guessed at if even they were known to the outside world. But there are societies there too: in those pitch black chasms, radiating across the plateau like old tangled cobwebs, are night hag triarchies, each ruled by a coven of three sisters, living off food their minions catch or grow for them, and permanently jostling for prominence against their rivals. There is no use speculating where these night hags came from: probably they are instantiations of the night itself, as though its sheer permanence in the seas of Nox Aestiva had to give effect to personifications such as them. Their slaves are the descendants of the rare travelers who have visited the Calf over the eons and become trapped; most of them ruined by inbreeding but adapted to life in the endless night with almost supernaturally elevated senses of smell, touch or hearing - and without the unnecessary encumbrance of eyes. These slaves in many cases now number in the thousands after generations of breeding across the eons, and have built entire towns by burrowing caves into the walls of their ravine homes. They war, trade, spy and conspire with and against one another with an intensity that is precisely converse to its import: the rest of the Fixed World has no idea they even exist, save for the aboleths who lair in the reefs off the coast and the tiny number of sailors who visit the island. 

To generate a night hag triarachy, roll on the following table. Descriptions of Assets and Issues are found below.

Dice
Minion type
Assets (d3)
Issues
1
Jermalaines – originally stowaways on a wrecked ship blown off course
Stronghold
Famine
2
Humans – originally pirates or traders on a wrecked ship blown off course
Magical lichen
Toxic gases
3
Derro – who originally burrowed up from some ancient now-collapsed labyrinth leading to the underdark
Mineral seam
War
4
Halflings – originally seal hunters from Mane Hiemalis carried on the back of an iceberg
Aboleth alliance
Slave uprising
5
Githyanki – originally pirates carried on the back of a zaratan which died nearby
Ochre jelly spawning site
Rival agents
6
Grippli, tasloi or lizardmen  – who were trapped on a giant tree which was blown into the sea in Meridiem Aestivus and carried to the Calf across the ocean
“Pet” galeb duhr
Monbat predators
7
Urds – who were flying in Mane Hiemalis and blown off course by a storm, to land on the Calf for respite
Magma pool
Tenebrous worm nest
8
Pech – who accidentally came through a temporary portal from the Plane of Earth and were stranded when it closed
Umber hulk breeding pit
Phase spider attacks
*Minions have their ordinary abilities. Unless they have innate infravision, they are now blind and rely on their other senses, and have accordingly outsized noses, ears and hands. This allows them to "see" in the dark, albeit at -2 to rolls requiring quick reactions (including "to hit" rolls).

When generating a triarchy, place the following adventure sites and generate further details using the relevant sub-tables:

1 - Night hunter lair
2 - Abandoned settlement
3 - Powerful exile/hermit
4 - Genie pilgrimage site
5 - Mephits
6 - Lava tube network

[Something incomplete I am working on.]

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