Friday, April 17, 2015

#SWApDay2015 Post #3: The Astral Seed

It's time for part 3 of my Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2013 posts! Yet again, you're getting a scenario, this time inpsired by Erol Otus's fucking gorgeous cover to Swords & Wizardry Complete!

Here's another room you can totally throw into a dungeon your 3-5 5th-7th level adventurers happen to be exploring. Enjoy!

The Astral Seed

Sometimes, gods are born out of mortals' faith. Sometimes, two (or more) gods get together and produce offspring on their own. Sometimes, however, the universe stores up enough energy that new god may be spontaneously generated out of that surplus; until it does, that surplus solidifies into an astral seed, an orb of immeasurably vast potential and possibility.

Some time-lost wizard whose name was forgotten before man learned to master fire found such an astral seed and hid it away in a dungeon somewhere, hoping to prize its secrets from deep within. Or drain its power. Or make some sort of crazy astral seed-god omelet. Who knows. Wizards, amirite?

Eventually, the wizard left his dungeon complex, as wizards are wont to do, and the astral seed began to gestate. Soon, dungeon life of all sorts came to bask in the pleasant aetheric energies that the seed emits. Some of the lowliest creatures, simple, single-celled things, grew in unpredictable and surprising fashions, become the dungeon's many gelatinous cubes or indigo coagulates. More complex microbes became gibbering mouthers and other strange slitherers and lurkers, but chief among those who came to dwell in the eerie light of the astral seed were the ineffable specie of salamander that grew, reproduced, evolved and ultimately fused together into one creature. This creature, feeding on the astral power of a seed that would be a god were not for the feeding, grew colossal in stature, gained some degree of sentience and now lingers in its ancestral home, still bathing in the aetheric light, still leeching off a would-be god's proto-life.

The Creature

Imagine what a salamander would think of as its god. You have no idea. Neither do I. But I imagine it would look a lot like the thing that Erol Otus painted on the Swords & Wizardry Complete cover. This giant being constantly emits a faint glow, irradiated as it has been in the light of the astral seed. Mostly a sickly white color, deep, midnight blue patterns emerge on its skin, like bones or other osseus structures welling up from under the skin's surface.

Succling as the creature has on the very nectar of divinity, it has a monolithic and powerful will. As such, it may command any of the lesser, many-eyed organisms that slosh and galumph about the floor in this chamber, and does so to protect the astral seed from outside interference. So long as the seed remains in this chamber, neither the creature nor its subordinates need to feed.

Monsters

The Creature: HD 10; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 spiritual dagger (3d4 and lose 1d4+1 spell levels of memorized spells) and 1 aetheric ray (2d8); Move 18; Save 4; AL N; CL/XP 11/1,400; Special: immune to fire, cold, electricity; regenerates 5 hp per round and 2 hp per spell level drained.

Slithering, many-eyed beasts: HD 2; AC 7 (12); Atk 1 creepy gaze (1d6, save vs. fear or stunned for one round); Move 9; Save 15; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: none.

Recovering the Astral Seed

If the Creature is killed and the astral seed is recovered, it will soon finish its growth into a godling of no small amount of power. Of course, a wizard may find some nefarious end to put it to, but this seed is ready to grow. If the seed does "hatch" into a god, it is a god without purview or pantheon, one undevoted to any particular ethos or sphere of influence. As such, it may be shaped by those who possess the seed. When it is born, the deity will take shape based on the alignments and beliefs of those in possession of the astral seed. Asking your players "what is this a god of?" is a perfectly viable idea. In any case, there's a new god in town and he owes the party a favor. How's that for treasure?

Questions for the Referee

What other treasures did that nameless, pre-human wizard hide about the dungeon, ready to screw with the players' ideas about reality?
Having killed the closest thing salamanders have to a god, have the PCs become the personification of evil to amphibians everywhere?
Will the new god try to recruit the PCs as his/her/its first followers? What does this deity ask of them?