Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Uralar, Bog Moon of Mysteries

So continuing with the ideas expressed in yesterday's post, I rolled up another moon. This was a 'living world' with a single antagonist: hags. With a little help from, I got:

Uralar is a loathsome world of thorny forests and yellow skies. It is ruled by hags.

Ok, good start. A single antagonist isn't enough, though, for a forest planet. And I don't know about you, but I'm excited at the prospect of dark fey matriarchs lording over amphibian beast men. So let's add boggards. And now that we've got boggards, let's add dinosaurs, because I would love to see barbarian frogs riding stegosauruses chasing my friends' characters through a planet-sized swamp.

Honestly, this is just how my brain works.

The hierarchy goes Hag Countess > Hag > Boggard Chief > Boggard > Dinosaur, with dinosaurs being utterly unaware of their proper place and mostly just dumb and hungry. So, big dinosaurs occasionally eat Hag Countesses, and the cycle continues.

Now, Uralar can get all kinds of weird if you want it to: Hags breeding with boggards or capturing monsters to cultivate dire progeny for some prophecy or another, or maybe the hags are a celibate ruling caste that despises all other living creatures. I think Uralar's a great place to introduce some adult themes, but strictly speaking, you don't need them. Uralar could very easily become an land of fairy tale witches, swamp dinosaurs, and bumbling, comical toad-men. Personally, I want it to be an unsettling place full of unsolvable mysteries, so that's where I took it.


Art by Jaime Jones

Melting Arm Tribe
Boggards of this tribe ritualistically pour acid onto their forearms, then sew animal bones into the flesh while the wound heals. This process often leaves their limbs looking withered and sickly. They are ruled by a cruel tyrant called Broghbok who is quick to use his touch of corruption to keep weaker boggards in line. Broghbok and his greatest warriors ride crested tyrants into battle.

Thunderfoot Tribe
Boggards of this tribe paint themselves in red mud and ride trained thunderfoot tyrants into battle. Gulogo, their priest-king, keeps a coterie of animal trainers well-fed and well-armed, knowing that the tyrants are essential to holding power in the region.  They also breed whiptails for food.

This small, secretive tribe of boggards is prone to mutation. Many are born with extra limbs or eyes, and boggard magic users are far more common. Although the tribe is small, it is fierce: the magic users who rule it demand constant sacrifices for their dark rituals, and over time, the Poison Garden tribe has mastered the art of raiding. (As linked above, the mutation table for The Cult of Blood and Briar from The Swordfish Islands is amazing and I want an excuse to roll on it, hence these dudes).

Worm Tribe
These insane boggards worship the great destroyers as gods.  They paint their flesh blue or white or yellow, or a mixture of all three, and conduct unspeakable orgies in the hopes of attracting bholes to their presence. These religious orgies are the central focus of their lives; everything else they do is done in service to these perverse observances.

Art by Jacek Irzykowski


Hags are fiercely individualistic. No two hags look alike (at least, not if they can help it). I love the stats for Green Hags, how they're this great amalgamation of fighter/illusionist/rogue that works well with all sorts of allies, and would assume such creatures make up the majority of Uralar's hag population. Of course, being fierce individualists, no two hags have the exact same stat-block. Below are three such hags, their quirks, and my proposed stat-blocks.

Steel Euphenia is a sadist and a killer. She loves nothing more than to watch the light go out in a living creature's eyes. Most nights, she wanders along the banks of the River of Shadows hunting dinosaurs for sport. Occasionally, she grows bored of murder and retires to an elaborate ruin where mutilated boggards tend to her whims, but Euphenia never keeps to a schedule. She is extremely old - legends say she neither eats nor drinks nor sleeps, and hasn't for centuries. Her fighting prowess is coveted by all, and countless hags and boggard chieftains have attempted to sway her to fight for them. Some have even succeeded.

To build Steel Euphenia in Pathfinder, I'd start by replacing pyrotechnics and whispering wind with rage and vampiric touch, removing skill ranks in Disguise and adding them to Athletics, and giving her a sweet +3 vicious flail. And she totally has max hit points and a couple levels in Fighter.

Cleo the Breathstealer is a powerful sorceress. She makes her home atop an ancient tree whose branches are so wide that an apatosaurus could stand on them without causing them to bend. She sustains herself on moonlight and stolen breath. She wear beautiful silks woven long ago and far away by otherworldly visitors. She is a mystery, and cultivates ambiguity and misunderstanding whenever possible. The Worm Tribe venerates her. They believe she knows all the secrets of the great destroyers and offer her carcasses, slaves, and precious stones in the hopes of coaxing her to share. The boggards say that when she dreams, long dead giants stir below the muck...

Stats wise, Cleo could easily be represented by a fey mothman. If that doesn't feel right, instead add a few levels of Oracle to a Green Hag, or just slip phantasmal killer into an advanced green hag's spell list.

Niora of the Brass Rings is a charismatic ruler who extorts offerings from seven different boggard tribes, most notably the Thunderfoots. She can change her form to that of a raven or crow, transmuting back again in a moment's notice, and she seems to have a powerful affinity for flying creatures. Niora claims she is a pacifist. However, the golems she controls have no qualms about violence and mete out terror on her behalf. Some of her golems can transform into birds - none of the other hags know how she accomplished this feat, or where she found golems capable of such transformation - and Niora isn't telling.

For Niora's stats, replace tree shape with beast shape I. She is served by 2d6 golems, which are scarecrows with giant cloaks and no pumpkin heads. Replace Fascinating Gaze with At will--beast shape I, crows or ravens only. Also, taking inspiration from the art, I imagine these scarecrows fight with beautiful, enchanted greatswords, and that Niora controls them with one or more magical rings she wears beneath her gloves. Convincing her to part with a brass ring of golem command could be one hell of a quest.


So that's Uralar. Honestly, when it comes to rolling up more hags, I think a random name generator and some killer art is the way to go. Build the hags you'll need for the story you want to tell. 

Same with the boggard tribes. Sacred color + domesticated dinosaur + weird ritual = new tribe.

Uralar asks more questions than it answers. Why are there dinosaurs? Why are human-appearing fey creatures lording over amphibians? Were there other civilizations here? If so, what happened to them? You can answer those questions however you like, but when it comes to this particular moon, I'd play it like a hydra: For every mystery answered, two take its place.

Note: Artist unknown where unlisted. I'd love to know who did the sculpture for Steel Euphenia. Also, Uralar has no meaning as far as I'm aware. It sounds both Scottish and Sumerian to me, so I dig it.

No comments:

Post a Comment