Endless hatred of the Uttermost South

As the earth cooled, the continents died. They shrunk, solidified, and choked on their own dirt. The last one left alive is the Uttermost South. In its old age, it has become bitter, senile, and insane. It feels every step you take upon it like a pin-prick. It hates you for it.

Use the table below to determine how the continent is reacting to the PC's. Start in the middle. Every day your players spend in the Uttermost South, judge how the continent is feeling towards them. If they've pissed it off, roll a d8 and bring them up that many spaces. If they've laid low and avoided its notice, roll a d8 and bring them down by that many spaces.

Things that draw its notice:

  • Looking up at the sky
  • Staying out in wide open spaces
  • Travelling towards the center of the continent, where its massive dark heart still thumps the old slow rhythm under the inland sea
  • Killing dolphins, albatross, or gulls
  • Saying one of the continent's names - better to call it something vague like "The land"
  • Any misfortune you predict will be sure to happen. For this reason, you need to adopt a "She'll be right" attitude of permanent optimism, or die. 
  • Starting a journey on a Friday
  • Digging, cutting down trees, starting fires
  • Civilization. Speaking, writing, making laws and systems of government, organizing the wild places.

Things that soothe its broken mind:

  • Nailing a stolen piece of wood or a silver piece to the keel.
  • Pouring out rum: 
    • On the boat, cart or horse that you're going to travel on, 
    • A little on the floor whenever you open a bottle
    • On the dirt you're about to dig up for a grave
  • Lending your clothes to someone else: the continent may confuse them for you, and concentrate on them instead.
  • Starting a journey with your right foot.
  • Staying in the shadowy places, never speaking or writing, communicating only through drawings. Most inhabitants of the country do this. They leave behind the signs from this random generator. (Or are these signs left by the land itself?)

The idea here is to encourage and reward superstition and fear. I suggest you think up a bunch of other superstitions yourself, make anything the players say at the table into instant fact, and inflict any terrible and capricious judgement you can think up on the spot whenever the players do something that seems like bad juju. The PC's can learn the ways to divert the omens in this table by asking the locals.

  1. You are forgotten. People find it hard to notice you or concentrate on you, even when you're talking to them. Most forget you as soon as you leave. Everyone gets a bonus on stealth checks.
  2. Dark clouds overhead. Everything's in half shadow. This is a good omen: The continent's gaze is obscured. Snakes will turn away without biting, dogs will not attack, diseases will clear up.
  3.  The wind is at your back. The party can travel twice as fast as normal.
  4. You find a spider in your clothes. You will find an oasis when you need it most. Killing the spider will divert this omen. 
  5. A bee lands on your head without stinging you. Animals will be friendly today.
  6. Juicy fruit hangs invitingly from all the trees the party goes past. It's delicious.
  7. A strange dog follows the party. They will be given some money soon. Chasing off the dog gets rid of this omen.
  8. Drizzling rain covers the party's tracks.
  9. It finally rains! Torrentially. Any river-beds flash-flood.
  10. Start here. Nothing happens. The continent is barely aware that the party exists. Weather is dry, water is scarce.
  11. The flies are omnipresent. 
  12. Westerlies. Shrieking winds will tear things out of your hands, fling arrows astray, send your tend flying across the countryside, etc.
  13. Chattering birds steal the party's food. They'll swoop in and take it straight out of your hand if they can.
  14. A lone magpie follows the group. Their food will go rotten today. You can avert this omen by saluting the magpie and asking after his children.
  15. Juicy fruit hangs invitingly from all the trees the party goes past. It's all poisonous. 
  16. Cold nights. Water will freeze, which may crack open canteens. Anyone who can't keep warm using clothing, etc, will become exhausted.

    I'll just use the rules D&D next uses for fatigue. Whenever you do something exhausting, roll a con save or go up a level of exhaustion.

    Level 1:
     You roll two d20 and take the lowest for physical rolls.
    Level 2: Half speed. Make a constitution check to cast spells.
    Level 3: Half hit points.
    Level 4: Quarter hit points, you can only crawl.
    Level 5: Unconscious
    Level 6: Dead
  17. Heat wave. Traveling outside is exhausting. They can avoid this by drinking water. I assume you're just hand-waving the amount of water they're carrying, right? If they're carrying a normal amount of water, they'll need to drink it all over the day. If they've prepared with a cart full of the stuff, make a judgement.
  18.        |
  19. These three are the heat wave, as above.
  20.        |
  21. The sunrise is red. The group will be unable to find water today. 
  22. You hear the laughter of kookaburras. Some piece of equipment will go faulty with rust, damp and dirt, and break at a crucial moment. The birds will laugh.
  23. Even hotter heat wave. Doing any kind of hard task is exhausting. 
  24. Wild bushfire rages through the area.
          1. You feel the glare of the continents gaze like an invisible spotlight. Every person and animal turns to look at you as you go by. You can't hide. 
          2. I-Is the sky getting bigger, or what? You become more and more agoraphobic. 
          3. Snakes everywhere.
          4. Tiny rats and insects cluster in the footprints you leave. One of you will gain a terrible disease.
          5. You find a dead snake in your home or campsite. It tried to eat a mouse that was too big for it, and choked. The things you have built will begin to crumble and decay.
          6. Even inside, you can see the sun as a ghost-image imprinted on your eyes. It's gotten bigger. You know it's an eye, watching you. You can't stop sweating. Everything is exhausting.
          7. A dead owl lies in the group's path. One of them will die today. It is possible to divert this omen onto an animal by having it step over the bird.

            (If you can manage it, have one of the party accidentally kill an owl. Then have groups of owls watch the party whenever something terrible is about to happen.)
          8. Insects crawl for miles to cluster in your warmth. Try using some of the tables from Insect Hell in Dangertopia.
          9. You feel like you're suspended in-between two suns. There's an overwhelming pressure building inside your head. When bad things happen you'll need to save or snap - panic, lash out in anger, break things, collapse, etc.
          10. The sky clears, and you can see that giant sun eye looking down on you even at night.  Everyone and everything on the continent knows exactly who you are and how to hurt you.
          11. The magic in this place is wrong. All spells will warp and twist away from you into something bizarre.  
          12. You start to sprout. Small tendrils grow from the dirt in your fingernails. If the continent pays more attention to you, your eyes will bloom, your mouth will vomit wattles, your feet will root to the ground.
          13. The environment will crack and change in any way it can to destroy you.
          14. You get more and more real, while the people and things around you become foggy and vague, slightly changing each time you look at them. This is the Continent's hyper-focused attention: it will shift from PC to PC, throwing one into high-definition and leaving the others crumbling and melting. The PC in focus must save or become exhausted, and will eventually begin to smoulder and burn if nothing distracts the continent.
          Functionally, this table is here to serve as rules for weather, food rot, equipment breakage, etc. Rather than the bean-counting approach that has you marking off squares and trying to keep all of this stuff in your head at once, this gives you a single threat to think about each day and personifies the wilderness as a character the PC's can curse for all their woes.

          Just like how Chinatown is the last boss of the movie Chinatown, and Colonel Kurtz is Africa and the Vietnam War, the final goal of any campaign in the Uttermost South is to hunt down and kill the continent itself.


          No comments:

          Post a Comment