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Lively Locals 6: The Godstone

A Big Rock in an Open Field - The Stone of Gifts
A rock from the Wind Wolves Preserve

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A bag of holding is a coveted prize for an adventurer. In one small sack, a person can carry an entire armory of weapons, more potions than a wizard could brew in a year, and enough riches to buy a kingdom. Never does the bag grow in size, or become any heavier than a skin filled with water. Few know how these marvelous devices work, but the truth is that each bag accesses a small pocket of the Astral Plane. The infinite nothingness which flows between the dimensions, holding them together into a single multiverse. Each bag of holding is a small portal into a pocket of that void.

As precious as these items are, they’re also a great liability. It’s a simple task for a thief to rob you of your entire fortune, if you’re foolish enough to put it all in one place. Thieves are not even the greatest of an adventurer’s worries. A far greater danger is that posed by a stray blade, or arrow. A whizzing bit of steel which, while it may fail to harm the adventurer, damages their bag. When a bag of holding is broken, it does not simply split as a bag of canvas would. A bag of holding implodes, sending its contents whirling into the astral plane in all directions, and the unfortunate adventurer will be lucky if they’re not sucked in along with their lost treasures.

Over the centuries, countless bags have burst into the astral plane. Since the acquisition of such a bag in the first place is a dangerous–or at least expensive–proposition, the items contained in them are often quite valuable. Powerful magic items and artifacts float aimlessly throughout the vast nothingness.

But the astral plane is not entirely empty. Planar travelers use the astral plane as their road between worlds. The alien Githyanki even call the astral plane their home. There are many astral phenomena as well. Young wizards preparing to travel the planes for the first time are warned of the dangers of sonic rain, and transformative clouds. Worst of all is the bridge lightning. Arcs of energy which are drawn towards physical matter. They appear as if from nowhere, and move so quickly that by the time the eye has seen them, they are already gone.

If a person can survive the shock of being struck by bridge lightning, they’ll suddenly find themselves somewhere completely different. The lightning draws anything it touches to an area of intersection, where the astral plane overlaps another plane. Whatever the lightning strikes is unceremoniously dumped into a seemingly random spot somewhere in the multiverse. It is said that the astral plane’s natural state is emptiness, and the gods created the bridge lightning to enforce that.

Lost treasures are far more numerous than travelers in the astral plane, though. The lightning is often drawn to a mighty sword or magic potion lost by an adventurer who trusted their magic bag a little too much. Sometimes the items fall into the fires of hell or the endless fields of Elysium. Occasionally, they even end up in the depths of a dungeon, only to later be found by another adventurer. And other times, the items are zapped to a rock.

It’s not a particularly interesting rock. It’s just a stone in the middle of a field, which happens to intersect with the astral plane. Every so often, some item appears on the rock without warning. One day, a magical sword might appear, and six months past that, a dozen gold coins. A week after, a collection of goblin teeth, then a year later a powerful suit of plate armor.

A century or so ago, a clan of nomadic orcs were wandering through the wilderness, and came upon a small pile of gold and other treasure. They fell upon it eagerly, and took it as an omen that they should make camp around the stone. They intended to stay only a few weeks, but while they were there, they noticed that magical marvels continued to appear. The shamans declared the rock to be a manifestation of the orcish god, and the tribe cast off their nomadic ways to remain with the godstone.

To this day, the Tribe of the Godstone guard their land viciously. They are impossibly wealthy and well equipped, and eagerly offer outsiders as sacrifice to please their deity.

Colorful Characters 19: Henrietta Thaeblum, the Ghost of the Uprising

Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 holding an AK-47
Sarah Connor from Terminator 2. One of the most badass women in film.

No matter who you are, life in the Land of Admon is harsh. The God-King tortures the royal family, encouraging them to betray and murder one another to prove their worth to him. The royal family uses the nobility as pawns in these games, manipulating them, and commandeering their property or lands whenever it is convenient. The nobility oppresses their serfs, forcing them to work themselves to death and selling their children to other nobles if they need to raise some money. But as bad as everyone has it, no one suffers more than the women of Admon. They are insignificant baubles, regardless of their station. The God-King’s own daughters would be no better off than peasant women if they weren’t useful to their father. And when the God-King dies and one of his sons ascends to the throne, the best the new God-King’s sisters can hope for is that they’ll be sent to live out the rest of their lives amongst the peasants.

Forty years ago, the women of Admon had enough of their slavery. There was an uprising. Wives slit their husband’s throats while they slept, harems smothered their noble lords, and slave owners were strangled by the very chains they had used to assert their control. It is still unknown how the attacks were conceived of or coordinated, but the death toll was massive. Tens of thousands of men were killed, and the unbroken line of God-Kings seemed poised to give way to the reign of a God-Queen. But the God-King was ruthless, and summoned his armies to him. The vile orders which he gave to them that day have echoed throughout history.

“There seems now to be a great excess of women in my kingdom. Bring me the head of every woman of childbearing age. Fill the courtyard with their skulls, and let the imbalance be corrected.”

The slaughter which followed is unspeakable. There were enough remains that every building was required by law to display a decapitated head above its door for a decade after the uprising ended. With all the women gone, it was years before any new children were born.  And after the brutality of the God-King’s counterattack, no one dared whisper a single word of dissent.

Save one.

No one knows her name, who she is, or where she came from. No one who has ever gotten a clear look at her has survived the encounter. Her crusade began shortly after the uprising was put down. The heads of women displayed throughout the town would be taken in the dead of night. In their place would be the head of a man noted for his brutality. On most mornings, a would-be assailant’s body is found, skull crushed by a brutally heavy object. For lack of a better name, the people took to calling her the Ghost of the Uprising.

Numerous attempts to ensnare or kill the Ghost of the Uprising have been made over the years, but to no avail. For decades she has eluded the authorities, waging a private war against oppression. Giving the men of Admon reason to fear. But in recent years her attacks have slowed. No one can fight forever. She has grown old, tired, and bitter. For all her work, the system she fights remains in place. If she’s ever going to bring the God King to his knees, she needs to find help…

Henrietta Thaeblum, the “Ghost of the Uprising” (CR 14)

XP: 38,400
Female Human 15 (Fighter 10 / Rogue 5)
CN humanoid
Init +10; Senses Perception +18 (+2 v. traps)


Defenses


AC 26, Flat Footed 19, Touch 120 [10 + Dex(6) + Dodge(1) + Armor(6) + Ring(3)](+1 v. traps)(Cannot be flat footed)(+4 v. attacks of opportunity)
hp 107 (10d10 + 5d8 + 25)
Fort +9 Ref +13 (+1 v. traps)(If 1/2 damage, No damage) Will + 4 (+3 v. fear)


Offense


Speed 30ft
Melee Flail/Flail + 20,15,10/20,15,10 (1d8 + 11 + 1d6 Fire, 20/x2 + 1d10 Fire)
Melee Greataxe +20/15/10 (1d12 + 9, 19-20/x3)
Sneak Attack +3d6


Stats


Str 18 (+4) Dex 22 (+6) Con 12 (+1) Int 16 (+3) Wis 11 (+0) Cha 08 (-1)
Base Atk +13/8/3; CMB +17; CMD 33
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (Flail), Weapon Specialization (Flail), Greater Weapon Focus (Flail), Quick Draw, Two-Weapon Fighting, Double Slice, Weapon Focus (Greataxe), Weapon Specialization (Greataxe), Dodge, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Greater Two Weapon Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Mobility
Skills Acrobatics (+24), Craft (Arms & Armor)(+13), Disable Device (+19), Knowledge(Local)(+21), Perception (+18)(+2 v. traps), Sleight of Hand (+14), Stealth (+24)
Languages Common, Admonan, Thieve’s Cant, Tongue of the God King,
SQ
–Stand Up: May stand up from a prone position as a free action.
–Fast Stealth: May move at full speed while moving stealthily without penalty.
–Armor Training 2: Armor check penalty decreased by 2. Maximum dex increased by 2. May move at normal speed in heavy armor.
–Weapon Training 2: +2 attack and damage with Flails, +1 attack and damage with Axes.
–Combat Reflexes: May make 6 attacks of opportunity per round.

Gear Masterwork Hide Armor, Ring of Protection +3, Two +3 Flaming Burst Flails, +2 Keen Greataxe

Colorful Characters 18: Laura Kraul

Spear Woman by LJF Hutch
Spear Woman” by LJFHutch

Laril Kraul spent his early years in a small village on the Venusian coast. For generations his family–along with most other families in the village–had been fishermen. Laril was taught to use a net and spear from a young age, and proved adept in their use. During his teen years, he even created and popularized a form of gladiatorial jousting within his village which used the tools (the spears were blunted, of course). As he grew older, however, he became increasingly aware of the fact that he was different from the others in the village. The responsibilities he was expected to shoulder were awkward for him, and he often fantasized about what it would be like to be other people within his village. To experience their lives, and everything that went with that.

When Laril reached manhood, he took his leave of the village. He had always been strong, and the call of adventure gave him ample opportunity to explore his feelings of discontentment. Mastery of his unusual weapons proved beneficial to adventuring life. After a handful of minor successes on his own, Laril was approached by a small band of dungeon delvers who were impressed with his deeds. They asked if he would like to join them as they hunted for treasures hidden in crypts beneath the earth, and Laril was happy to accept. Adventuring life was dangerous, and he’d been hoping to find some companions to mitigate some of that danger.

The group traveled together for several months, and their excursions were largely profitable. Laril took pleasure in the excitement of the hunt. The fact that he’d recovered more gold to than anyone in his village had ever seen before didn’t hurt either. Yet his discontentment remained. Even in the life he’d made for himself, he felt out of place.

About a year after joining the group, Laril and his companions were exploring a particularly dank cavern. They’d slain the troll who lived there, and were beginning to worry that the treasure the beast had supposedly hoarded was fake. It took them nearly an hour to find the chest, modestly sized, hidden under a pile of rocks. Its contents were hardly worth their trouble. A measly few bags of silver coins, a pair of jewels, and a jade-studded leather belt with a silver buckle. Everyone agreed the belt must be the greatest prize, and they rolled bones to see who would get it.

Laril won, and immediately began putting the belt on while his companions set about dividing the rest of the loot between themselves. He was surprised by how comfortable it felt. In fact it affected his comfort much more than he would have imagined a belt could. He began to comment to his companions that the belt seemed to be magical, only to have his thoughts interrupted by the sudden and hysterical laughter of his friends. He asked what was funny, and noticed that his voice sounded strange in his ears. Worried, he went to his pack and began to fumble around for the steel mirror he kept there. As he rummaged through his bag, he noticed something else:

He had breasts.

“It’s a belt of gender changing!” the group’s wizard called to him, having finally regained his breath. “A cursed item. You won’t be able to take it off without a spell ofRemove Curse.” Laril was silent for a long moment as he pondered this development. Despite a change which should have upset him, he still felt strangely…comfortable. More comfortable than she’d ever felt in her life. The nagging discontentment which had pestered her in otherwise quiet moments was nowhere to be found. She felt whole.

Laril remained silent for the moment, unsure of how to broach this issue with her fellows. But when the morning came and the wizard had prepared his spell, she knew she couldn’t go back. She refused to allow the Remove Curse spell to be cast upon her, stating that she was happier this way. The party was confused, and concluded that the belt must have additional magical properties they were unaware of–some manner of mind control. They took hold of her and held her in place while the wizard performed his spell. Laril protested, but the others were certain they were doing her a favor, and held fast.

The spell was completed, and the belt destroyed. Laril again found herself in a male body, once again disconcerted, once again less than whole. She was so overwhelmed by rage and loss that all she could do was sit and weep over the ruined remains of the belt that had changed her life. Her companions were concerned for her, and opted to remain another night without traveling, to allow her some time to work out whatever was wrong. The following morning, she informed them that she had come to two decisions.

The first was that she would no longer remain with them. Now that she’d found what she’d been looking for, she intended to waste no time in figuring out how to get it back.

“And the second thing?” they asked.

“My name is Laura.” she answered. Then left.

Laura Kraul (CR 5)

XP: 1,600
Female Human Fighter 6
LG humanoid
Init +8; Senses Perception -1


Defenses


AC 20, Flat Footed 14, Touch 16 [10 + Dex(4) + Armor(5) + Dodge(1)]
hp 53 (6d10 + 24)
Fort +7 Ref +6 Will + 1


Offense


Speed 30ft
Melee Shocking Burst Longspear + 9 (1d8 + 3 + 1d6 Electricity/x3 + 2d10 Electricity)
Melee Net +10 (Causes the Entangled condition)(Ranged Touch Attack)(10ft)


Stats


Str 16 (+3) Dex 19 (+4) Con 14 (+2) Int 11 (+1) Wis 9 (-1) Cha 13 (+1)
Base Atk +6/1; CMB +9; CMD 23
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (Spear), Weapon Specialization (Spear), Dodge, Weapon Focus(Net), Quick Draw, Lunge, Toughness
Skills Craft (Boatswain)(+11), Knowledge (Engineering)(+11), Ride (+10), Survival (+5)
Languages Common, Dwarven
SQ
–Lunge: Can increase the reach of your melee attacks by 5ft in exchange for a -2 AC penalty.
Gear Slick Lightly Fortified Hide Armor; Mithril Shocking Burst Longspear; 3 Silk Nets; Backpack; 842 GP, Dagger, Bedroll, 10′ pole, steel mirror, 3 weeks rations, 1 lantern, 3 flasks of lantern oil, small jar of salt, fishing line, 3 hooks.

Lively Locals 5: Three Religious Sites

Burned at the Stake, artist unknownWhile at Paizocon, I attended a seminar on homebrew game worlds. It was one of the more thought provoking seminars I attended, and in particular one of the panelists really got me thinking about religion. I’ve never had a problem with religion in my game worlds, and you could even call me a pretty huge fan of Vecna, a god from D&D. But I’ve never spent much time thinking about the wider impact of religion on my worlds, which I now recognize as a pretty huge failing on my part. So, as a bit of fun, I decided to make this Friday’s post about something with religious significance. Nothing which deserved a really large backstory came to mind, so I settled on breaking this post up into three parts.

The Stake of Ereon

Long ago, in a small village, the Church of Arethae overstepped its bounds. Arethae was a god of contemplation and philosophy, but over time her followers in this village involved themselves more and more in the petty politics of governance. As the village grew, the clerics of Arethae became powerful and corrupt, encouraging their followers to ostracize any who did not submit themselves to the teachings of Arethae. Teachings which were often interpreted by the clerics to match their own selfish whims.

Arethae was saddened to hear her name spoken as a tool of oppression. Spurned to action, she communed with a lowly priest named Ereon, who lived in a city far from the village. She bestowed upon him her seal, and commanded that he travel to the village. There, Ereon was to meet with the church leadership, and prove his divine authority by presenting the seal. None who touched the it, she said, could have any doubt who had sent him. Ereon did not believe himself worthy of the task, but he submitted himself to his goddesses command, and left the comfort of his monastery home that very day.

It took four months for Ereon to travel the many leagues between his home and the corrupt village, but as he walked the seal infused him with his goddesses wisdom and strength. Through the challenges he faced on the road, it brought forth his inner courage and taught him how to lead those who had gone astray back to the truth of Arethae. When he arrived, he presented himself to the church leaders with the might of his goddesses’ conviction in his heart. The town’s clergy examined the seal, and knew it to be genuine. They were saddened to learn of their goddesses’ disapproval. When Ereon commanded that they submit to his guidance, however, they made a decision:

They did not need their goddesses’ approval.

They declared Ereon to be a heretic, and announced his execution to the townspeople with much pomp and circumstance. A stake was erected in the village square, and the clergy made a great show of binding Ereon to it. Ereon made no objection as they lit the fire beneath his feet. As he began to burn, he serenely chanting prayers to Arethae, until the smoke made it too difficult to speak.

The moment Ereon’s final breath left his body, every priest and priestess within the village began to choke and cough, as though they too were trying to breathe through smoke. The entire populace watched as their leaders–dozens of men and women–slowly suffocated for no apparent reason. The village was abandoned shortly after, and the buildings have long since been destroyed by the elements. But the stake remains, a charred black log standing alone in a field of grass. Even now, any character of evil alignment who steps within 100 yards of the stake is suddenly overcome by a fit of coughing, which will not end until they retreat.

Bloodstain of Vecna

Millenia ago the great warlord lich Vecna was betrayed by his lieutenant, Kas. The two fought a long battle, and at its conclusion Vecna’s tower mysteriously collapsed, presumably destroying both Vecna and Kas. No one knows what the outcome of that battle was, for the only remains ever found were Kas’s mighty sword, and Vecna’s hand and eye. Regardless of the battle’s outcome, it was soon revealed that Vecna had risen as a demigod. Much later, it was revealed that Kas had been raised as a vampire, and was a prisoner within Vecna’s Citadel Cavitius. But that is another tale.

When Vecna’s tower collapsed, so did its foundations, which extended deep into the earth. A veritable mountain of stone came crashing down through level after level. Through the eons which have passed since that fateful day, the site of Vecna’s tower has become obscured. But deep beneath the surface, in the bowels of the underdark, is a stone. Once, this stone served as part of the floor of Vecna’s audience chamber, and now it serves that same function in one of the numerous labyrinthine passages of the underdark.

During his battle with Kas, Vecna was wounded and a few droplets of blood were flung from his undead veins. They splattered on this stone, and there they remain. A dark brown stain, appearing to be perhaps a few days old at most. Not that anyone can see it in the pitch blackness of the underdark. None have ever discovered this stone, and even Vecna himself does not know of its existence. However, if anyone were ever to set foot upon it, they would immediately be granted knowledge of the locations of both Vecna’s hand, and eye.

St. Baria’s Rest

A blind prophet once came to the court of Kerrogon seeking food and shelter. Gustaf Teranar, the Primarch of Kerrogon, was not a kind man. His people suffered greatly under his tyrannical rule,and he found their suffering offensive. When the disheveled old prophet entered, Gustaf nearly had him killed on the spot for daring to present himself before the Primarch. But his advisers intervened, for they recognized the man, and knew of his gift. Intrigued, Kerrogon offered him food and shelter, in exchange for an insight into the future.

The man gladly accepted the food and shelter offered him, and on the morrow he met with the court once more to reveal Gustaf’s future: that even now, a child lived within his kingdom which would someday rise up, and slay him. The Primarch was enraged, and had the old prophet cast out of the court. He would have killed him, but he feared the consequences of slaying one who had been gifted by the gods.

Gustaf rallied his soldiers in the early morning, and ordered that every child in the kingdom–all those below the adult age–were to be killed. Ruthlessly, the soldiers went from home to home. Bodies were left in the streets, and the gutters ran with blood. The grieving wails of parents filled the air, becoming indistinguishable from one another. A righteous woman named Baria gathered together as many children as she could, and tried to flee the city. She managed to gather forty of them before she led them into the wilderness. As she entered a narrow pass, however, she heard the sound of hoof beats behind her, and the clatter of Kerrogonian Armor. Thinking quickly, she noticed a cave and bade the children to hide within. Only too late did she realize that the cave was shallow, with barely enough room for all of the children to fit, let alone hide.

Baria looked frantically for another option, but it was too late. She could see the soldiers outside as they examined the tracks the children had left. She was sure she was doomed, and it was all she and the children could do to keep quiet and still. The soldiers dismounted and walked around for a long while, puzzling over the tracks, appearing not to see the woman and the children she was trying to protect. The two even followed the tracks right to the mouth of the cave, and stared directly at the group for long minutes, before returning to their horses and riding off.

Baria was mystified, and thanked the gods for whatever miracle they had performed to save her and her wards. They continued to flee, and successfully escaped the slaughter. They settled in a faraway city, and indeed, one of the children eventually returned to slay the tyrant king who had killed so many others. And to this day, none with evil intent are able to see the entrance of St. Baria’s Cave, even with powerful spells and divinations, it appears to be naught but solid stone.

Lively Locals 4: The Wood of Lost Paths

Link stands in the dappled sunlight of the Lost Woods. Legend of Zelda Fanart, artist unknown. Far to the north west is a deep forest. A girl with leaf-green hair, perhaps 10 years old, roams there. She cares little for the world of humans. Her days are filled by picking flowers, climbing tress, and running through the woods as fast as she can. She’s been there as long as anyone can remember, and longer, all without growing a day older. This unique fay is said to be the forest’s heart made manifest. But, truth be told, no one knows which came first: the forest, or the girl.

Civilization has long since grown around this forest. A number of villages, and even a large city, are within a day’s travel of it. But no serious attempt has ever been made to harvest its wood, or settle in its shade. For the trees of this forest can move as surely as a man can walk. Which isn’t to say that anyone has ever seen them move. The trees somehow know when there are eyes upon them—even the magical eyes of a diviner. But a traveler entering the forest is best advised that the path behind her will never be the same one she traveled.

The girl has some part in this, that much is certain. The paths of the wood shape themselves to her whimsy. Those few who have returned from the Wood of Lost Paths tell stories of meeting her. She introduces herself as Asria, and leads the lucky traveler down a path they had not seen; wide and straight, leading directly to the forest’s edge. The moment they set eyes upon the grassy planes that surround the forest, the girl disappears again into the trees. Most are wise enough to avoid the forest entirely. For every tale of a traveler who was led out, there are twenty of men and women who never returned. But a legend sometimes draws foolish adventurers to the Wood of Lost Paths: the tale of the Kingsblade.

A Link to the Past Screenshot - The Master Sword in the Lost Woods (LttP is the best game ever, yo)It is said that a great king once lost a battle near the forest’s edge. Upon seeing the suffering of his soldiers, caused by his own rivalry with another lord, the king drew his sword and cast it into the forest, declaring that he would force his people to do battle no more. Three celestials saw this powerful act, and were moved by it. They were sisters, representing the virtues of wisdom, love, and courage. They carried the blade to the center of the forest, and saturated it with their powers. They transformed it into a weapon which could stand against any evil. It is said that the blade is still there, its hilt held aloft in a single hand shared between three statues of these celestial creatures. They wait only for one worthy enough to wield it.

Recently, a band of a few dozens Drow discovered the forest. They’d offended the spider queen, and fled to the surface world to escape her wrath. After a lifetime of living in the depths of the underdark, however, they found the light of the surface world unbearable. They sought refuge in the Wood of Lost Paths, finding the shade to be an acceptable substitute for the darkness of their home. It was only after they entered the forest that they realized it was not a simple task to leave it again.

The impossible to navigate landscape nearly drove the Drow to madness. Several of them were separated from the group and lost, presumed to be dead. It was only good fortune that saved them when they encountered the girl, Asria. She offered to show them the way out, and when the drow discovered that she could navigate the forest, they immediately began scheming. Rather than follow Asria’s path, they captured and bound her. Despite her great powers and apparent immortality, Asria was as weak and naive as a child.

One of the drow wizards fashioned a headband for her, one she could never remove herself. To it, he bound four stones. Each stone allowed the wielder to instinctively navigate the forest’s shifting landscape as though they were Asria herself. By exerting their will, the drow could even force Asria to create paths and clearings for them.

Since then, the drow have been raiding the nearby settlements for food, supplies, and treasure. A number of attempts have been made to pursue them, but none dare follow them past the treeline.

Lively Locals 2: River of Blades

Aerial view of the Innoko river in the summer, source unknown. Wide river. Once, there was a tribe who lived by the river. They were not skilled in technology or magic, but the river provided everything they needed. Its water was clean, and its depths filled with fish. The tribe flourished under the leadership of Matron Ulanae. Ulanae was wise, and was the first among her tribe to begin to discover the powers of magic. She used her gifts to improve the lives of her people, and she was beloved. But the elders were jealous of Ulanae. Before she had begun to display her magical talents, they had ruled the tribe as the speakers for the River Spirit.

The elders told Ulane that the River Spirit wished to commune with her. To do so she must travel seven days up river to the place where the river falls from the high cliff. She was to climb the high cliff, and bathe above the waterfall to form a sacred bond with the river. Ulanae and her people still had great reverence for the River Spirit, so she obeyed the elder’s commands and began her journey. In secret, the elders followed her. They remained hidden until Ulanae reached the top of the waterfall, and began bathing in the waters there. They then emerged from hiding, and overpowered the matron. They threw her over the cliff, and her body was destroyed on the many sharp rocks below.

The elders returned to the village. They intended to tell the people that Ulanae had offended the River Spirit with her brashness, and that the River Spirit had consumed her as punishment. But when they arrived they found the people in great distress. The River Spirit was angry, they said, and would not let them enter the River. The Elders tried to calm the people by praying loudly to the River Spirit. When they had finished, they waded into the water–and their bodies were torn asunder by the river’s bite.

Without strong leadership, and lacking the resources the river had provided them, the tribe eventually moved off to settle elsewhere.

By all appearances, there is nothing out of the ordinary about the River of Blades. The somewhat muddy water flows at a fast pace, but not so fast that it would be difficult to stand in. It is between 50 and 90ft wide, and over 500 miles in length from the waterfall where it begins, to the estuary where it meets the sea. There are no towns near the river, nor are there any bridges built across it. The only oddity about the river is that it contains no plant or animal life whatsoever. No algae grows on the rocks, no fish swim in the water, local animals do not drink from it, and even trained horses will only enter it with extreme reluctance.

When anything makes contact with the water, it is attacked as though by dozens of swords all at once. Leaves and branches which fall into the water from nearby trees are quickly chopped into dust, and the effect is no less dramatic on adventurers. If the water is touched only very lightly, such as with the flat of one’s palm, or the toe of one’s boot, no damage is dealt. Instead, the character will feel as though they are being sliced, and if they look at whatever part of them touched the water they will see numerous tiny lacerations cross-crossing in all directions. If a hand or foot is submerged in the water, the character takes 1d4 slashing damage per round. If the character stands waist deep in the water they take 3d6 slashing damage per round. If the character swims, or is submerged in the water, they take 5d8 slashing damage per round. Anyone foolish enough to drink this water will suffer massive internal injuries, and instantly be reduced to -1 hit points.

No effect visible to the naked eye accompanies this attack. A character who is using Detect Magic or a similar spell will be able to see faint outlines of blades in the water, but only when an attack is taking place. There is also a very faint sound of slashing swords (again, only when an attack is taking place) but this is normally drowned out by the river’s flow. Anything which is placed in the water is subject to this attack. Most wooden craft are quickly shredded. Stone seems to hold together alright, though visible scratches constantly appear in its surface, and it would likely erode to nothing after a few hours of contact with the water. Curiously, if a bladed weapon is submerged in the water it is not damaged. Rather, when it is removed from the water, the wielder will discover that it has been expertly sharpened.

Water removed from the river will retain this slashing property so long as it is within 1 mile of the river. Note that this means it will destroy many of the containers water might normally be placed in. If this water is used as a weapon, by throwing it or splashing it at an opponent, the damage dealt is at the GM’s discretion. Roughly 1 cup of water would deal 1d6 damage, but more water might deal greater amounts of damage as indicated by the list above.

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