Thursday 23 May 2024

D12 Meteoric Metals

I had a draft of the post D12 Anomalous Orbs sat unpublished for long enough to justify its "retroactive dating", so it sits neatly in the April posts... but this is genuinely hot-off-the-press, unadulterated May 2024 content just for you.

When I first used the phrase STAR METAL in PARIAH volume 1 I imagined the reader would assume this to be meteoric iron, though I made no explicit statement regarding its nature... though a while back I washed my hands of a monster created by cryptomnesia known as an Ancient One  Now fully immersed in UFO lore and the existence of supposed “exotic materials”, I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of alternative material properties for “star metal”. In addition to the usual fantasy sources, this table was inspired by anecdotal accounts from ufology and the preindustrial metallurgists and alchemists. There used to be a spiritual element (pun intended) to material science which is sadly lacking today!

Metallic cube photographed from an axometric perspective, fills most of the frame. Light silver and grey metal, criss-crossed with what might at first appear to be artificial engravings or scratches are in fact a structural property of the metal. An annotation indicates the cube's edge dimension of 5cm
Cubic of polished meteoric iron illustrating the Widmanstaetten structure

  1. Meteoric Iron
    Lump of cold steel from outer space. Can be worked only by the most skilled artisan-priests of the largest cities of the settled peoples. Metal weapons perform better as described in this post, but steel carries with it a powerful associations that communicate across cultures greater than violence. Items fashioned from this metal should provide bonuses to reaction rolls, especially where intimidation is being attempted.

  2. Frog skin
    This star metal comes in oblong or circular sheets up to a square yard in area yet barely the thickness of a human hair. It somewhat resembles frog skin, having a mostly dark, matte colour divided into irregular sized cells by lighter coloured "veins" with a glossier sheen, slightly recessed. It cannot be torn, ripped or melted at temperatures achievable by proto-Neolithic humans but it can be folded in half up to 11 times, though once any force (grip or weight) is removed it immediately returns to its own shape.

    Cannot be ripped, torn or separated by mortal means, but will not resist the heat of a spirit-mountain or the heart of a star..

  3. Memorious metal
    This star metal has the appearance of polished steel, and is typically found in oblate spheroids weighing between 2-4 lbs. The metal begins to melt if struck by lightning or otherwise receives an electrical charge charge, slowly forming a puddle of molten material without any change in temperature. During this state it can be decanted into moulds or formwork, as after one turn it begins to solidify, retaining the shape of the mould.

    If it is not forced into a mould or container it returns to its previous, oblate spheroid shape. However, the metal remembers previous forms it has assumed and will cycle through these forms if successive electrical charges are applied to it. There is no limit to the number of forms the metal can memorise, but it always cycles through forms from the most recent, always resetting if allowed to return to its original shape.

    The metal is at least as tough as meteoric iron: weapons and tools cast from memorious metal inflict one die step higher than usual and are very difficult to break or damage,
  4. Light bending
    A highly polished sheet of very thin metal, similar in texture and weight to the frog skin, but without its memorious properties. When the sheet is worn like a cloak it appears to bend light around it, rendering the wearer virtually (though not completely) invisible: those looking directly at the wearer can see their outline only. Incredibly strong.

  5. Super lightweight
    Has all the appearance and properties of meteroic iron but is about a tenth of the density. This enables craftsman to create tools, weapons and armour of ridiculous size.

  6. Lodestone
    This piece of unrefined ferrous ore is a strong magnet, and can be made more powerful by binding to a Spirit of the Sun and Heavens: a storm spirit can be induced to charge the lodetone with lightning, raising its magnetism.

  7. Bound spirit 
    Roll 1d6 on this table to establish the metal's base form: in addition, it is bound to a Spirit of the Beyond. It has full sensory perception of everything within a 20' radius but nothing beyond that. It can read the thoughts of all beings within that radius, but is only able to communicate via telepathy with any entity in physical contact with it.

    While the spirit's desires are opaque its truest desire is to be free. This can only be achieved by an elaborate ritual and a specific artefact, the details of which are known to the entity (including the current location of the artefact). It will attempt to manipulate anyone with whom it is in contact to achieve these goals.

    The entity has advanced cosmological knowledge (including all the realms of the spirits and how to navigate them), a grasp of technology exceeding that of a real-world 21st Century human and has gathered the memories and secrets of all living things that have ever entered its vicinity. It is, in short, an extremely powerful ally, albeit one unable to directly interact with the world except by exchanging information. 

    If ever released, the entity's goal is to witness as much suffering in the Here & Now as it possibly can, scheming and manipulating humans and other animals to create some kind of cataclysmic event. 

  8. Bileblack
    Incredibly dense fist-sized lump of  dull black metal, more than twice the weight of an equivalent sized lump of meteoric iron. Only the smith-priests of the dragon mountain are able to work this material, but it is valued by many other sages of the settled peoples for other reasons.

    Tiny quantities of this substance can induce severe illness or even death if ingested, usually prolonged and painful. Proximity to the substance for protracted periods induces headaches, nausea and leaves burn-like rashes all over the skin... it can even cause hair to fall out. Yet some strange sorcerers seek it out for the mutations it can induce in those who sleep with it beneath their head at night, marking them out as servants of the Spirits of Beyond.

    A weapon forged from this metals induce mutations in anyone from whom it draws blood.

  9. Floating Disc
    A 2 foot diameter disc, an inch thick, weighing a surprising 90 lbs (lighter than an equivalent weight of iron). The disc is large enough to stand on and can comfortably bear several times its own weight.

    By the application or exposure to (roll D6) 1-2 a particular frequency of sound 3-4 moonlight 5 lightning 6 human blood the disc appears to lose weight and lift off the ground. It will continue to rise at a steady 10'/round until it is no longer exposed to the sound/moonlight/electricity/human blood, and will then free-fall from whatever height it has achieved . While levitating it can be pushed and prodded as desired.

    Image is a photograph of six metallic objects on a white background: the top left object is a cube, he other 5 are irregularly-shaped lumps
    Synthetic bismuth crystals

  10. Solar aggregator laser
    A highly polished, lenticular disc similar in size and weight to the floating disc above. This can be used to focus the noon sun into a 300' directed energy beam nearly one foot wide, disintegrating (8d12 damage) all in its path (save vs. surprise/sun/breath attack for half).

    Spending time around the weaponised metal allows its bearers to attune to it, and understand its broader applications: it can "charge" if left facing the sky under direct sunlight, allowing its devastating attack to be employed at the will of its bearer. With further practise, the bear can learn how to focus that charge into a fine beam to carry out divine craftsmanship.

  11. Divine jewel
    Not metallic as pariahs might understand it, this crystalline heart of a meteor resembles a flawless ruby the size of a baby's head. These sacred objects renowned among the high priests of the settled peoples for their supposed power to grant wishes to those deemed worthy by the deities of the Beyond.

    This is partly correct: the gem does indeed grant wishes, but it makes no judgment regarding the worthiness of the wish nor the one making it. The first person to peer into the gemstone and see their reflection will become bonded to the Divine Jewel, and intuit that they are able to make one wish. This wish is fulfilled through a series of rapid yet apparently natural events, and carries with it all the tricks and traps seasoned RPG enthusiasts are familiar with.

    Following the fulfillment of this wish (i.e. the sequence of events leading to its conclusion have all occurred and the fallout is rendered obvious), the lucky recipient will dream of their opportunity for a second wish, repeating the process as before. The bearer of the Divine Jewel receives a total of 3 wishes.

    During this period no one else may make a wish. following the granting of the third wish, the jewel will sleep for 1d100 years, after which it will awaken, ready to grant a further three wishes.

  12. Soul trapper 
    This polished metal cylinder is about 12" tall and 3" in diameter, weighing 22 lbs. It emits a barely audible hum. When held with two hands (or one hand, but placed against the chest), the holder's spirit enters the jar, while heir body remains standing or seated in a state of suspended animation, requiring no sustenance. The holder's spirit is fully conscious, and is able to sense their surroundings as the spirit in entry 7 (20' radius, telepathy). The barely audible hum ceases.

    From this cylinder, the holder may attempt to take possession of humans or other animals within 30', as the ghost-walking ability of the spirit-touched, within PARIAH volume 1.

    The holder's spirit may return to their body at any time. If the cylinder can only be destroyed by melting, in which instance any spirit within it is reborn as a fire spirit (NPCed). Conversely, the holder may be trapped in the cylinder if their body is slain and they are unable to take possession of a new one. Likewise, if they are occupying another body at the moment their own is destroyed, they are forced to remain in their new flesh-suit, alongside its previous occupant.


  1. As I've said previously I really like this recent emphasis on bringing in elements of modern ufology into Pariah, and specifically conforming the sensibilities rather than the typical science fantasy anachronism, which I do love but feel has already been done plenty.

    That's an interesting choice of photo for Bismuth, as I usually see photos of the saturated rainbow colors, I've always loved that kind of Bismuth. It looks so weird and alien. This still has the cool structures to it though.

    I like the mutagenic idea of Bileblack, and it might be interesting if the mutations are of a particular kind, like if it maybe implies something about where it comes from based on the nature oft he mutations.

    These are all great, but maybe one more I would have liked to have seen, would have been some kind of entheogenic meteoric metal. An alien metal that makes you think with an alien mind, sane in the wrong context.

    1. Ah shucks that's a missed opportunity- sort of precedents set by lead or mercury poisoning! Thinking like an alien... if you'd be so kind as to write up an entry, I'll stick i ton the list as a bonus starmetal.

    2. I have not been a very prolific writer recently but I'd like to do it so I'll think about it and give it a shot :).

  2. Seconding Max - a nice blend of modern UFO lore and Pariah's neolithic animism - like a smoother successor to Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

    3.5e D&D had a neat prestige class that was about tracking down and eating star metal to eventually become a living statue of the stuff.

    Another star metal idea:

    Cricket Beans

    Always perfectly spherical and the colour of stained copper, found (very rarely) in sizes ranging from a ball bearing to a bowling ball. The metal is extremely bouncy, ignoring the half of Newton's third law of motion that would impart energy into whatever it strikes and absorbing it all itself for 1d6 bounces (number of bounces never changes for an orb, only between them) and then afterwards doing so in reverse, imparting all energy of the impact to what it strikes.