Friday 20 October 2023

Atop the Wailing Dunes: the Artefact


Centre spread of Atop the Wailing Dunes: illustration by Edd0 text transcribed below


Form of the Artefact

  1. 3D realisation of Mandelbrot set, to be worn as a mask by its wielder
  2. Incandescent floating ovoid, size of an ostrich egg
  3. Plumed helmet as the Blighted One’s, though fits a human head
  4. Set of animated, concentric golden rings, levitating

Tales of an ancient magical object—a gift from the gods or spirits, now lost within the Wailing Dunes—are told by every human culture in the region. This object—the Artefact—represents a lost golden age of great abundance, supplanted by great tumult. While these legends serve as a cautionary tales or myth, the Artefact is very much a conscious agent in the Here & Now...

What is the Artefact’s provenance?

  1. A creation of the ancient giants: the sole survivor of that civilisation—The Blighted One—now stalks the dunes in search of it...
  2. It fell to earth: a shooting star gifted to humanity from the Spirits of Beyond, now lying buried in the sand... waiting to be rediscovered by a true hero...
  3. Plucked from the eye of a sleeping goddess: the Dawn Queen cursed the thieves that humanity might never benefit from The Artefact’s true power...
  4. A creation of The Others to blight humanity: in revenge for destroying their ancient civilisation, the terrifying beings known as The Others created the Artefact to tempt, entice and confuse the human tribes...

It longs for the touch of a human hand, to be wielded by and at once welded to a new master. It whispers on the breeze, but the Blighted One’s magic ensures that none born in these lands can grasp the whispers’ meaning nor their precise place of origin...

...but those born outside these lands understand these whispers clearly: their heart knows the precise location of the Artefact, and longs to be united with it...

Whispers of the Artefact

  1. Allow me to embolden you: your enemies shall tremble before your might. 
  2. By seeing into the hearts of those who would deceive you I can keep you safe
  3. Come to me, fulfil your heart’s deepest desires: I long for your touch.
  4. Do you miss those that you have lost? I can bring them back to you...
  5. Gold and riches hitherto unimagined can be yours... let me show you how...
  6. Heal your hurts and the wounds of your friends with my magic, come!
  7. I can show you what lies beyond the stars, the true mysteries of The Beyond
  8. Slake your thirst: be it for water, wine or blood... I yearn to sate your longing.
  9. With my help, even the great spirits of the land will bow down to you as a god.
  10. You need never experience hunger again, I can nourish your body & soul...

The Artefact is utterly loyal to its master and cannot be wielded by another while the master yet lives; correspondingly, the master cannot suffer being more than ten feet from the Artefact at any time. They share a deep bond, and are aware when one another experiences emotional or physical distress.

The Artefact can only be destroyed by casting it into the Spirit Mountain’s crater (Hex B). If thrown into the sea it will be returned to a random coastal hex.

Randomly determine the Artefact’s power each day. 

Daily Powers
  1. Command spirits: set Genius Loci dice as desired, lesser spirits are charmed 
  2. Compel all within earshot to listen to wielder’s speech; hostiles may save vs. spells
  3. Conjure 1 ton of livestock, 1 lb of star metal or 1 oz of gold every hour
  4. Heal sick or injured to full health, equivalent of 6HD per hour all day
  5. Improve or worsen weather one step on appropriate hex-flower each hour
  6. Petrifying ray: emit once/round, 1 ton of biomass to stone (sentients may save)
  7. Psychic power:  enjoy the benefits of telepathy, clairaudience and clairvoyance
  8. Return 1 corpse to life regardless of state of decay OR animate 2d6 corpses
  9. Teleport to a previously visited location—immediately and at will—once/day
  10. Visit a previously visited alternative realm OR summon entity from that realm

The master may utilise a previously utilised power even if another power is active, but for a price: roll on the cursed table below.

Curse of abusing the Artefact's powers:
  1. Annihilation: all within 30’ sphere centred at master annihilated (except master & Artefact)
  2. Bifurcation: the wielder separates into 2 identical clones, becoming arch enemies
  3. Exsanguination: the wielder is drained of all blood; gains the curse of thirst
  4. Mutation: over the course of one night’s sleep, the wielder develops a mutation (see AHPS1)
  5. Obliviation: the wielder is immediately forgotten by everyone who as ever met them
  6. Transportation: the wielder is immediately teleported D6 hexes away; the Artefact is not
Atop the Wailing Dunes is an adventure for PARIAH currently being delivered to all its patient and loyal backers. It will available to the wider public at some point before the end of the year.