What follows are the top 7 entries in the OSR Superstar Competition. Tomorrow I hope to list the other 34 entries (or so) that are also moving on to the second part of the competition.
- Coward's Heart
The betrayal, abandonment or mistreatment of one of the Green Circle, the Bone Charmers, is rarely wise for their torments are eternal and exquisitely cruel. Unlike most powers, necromancers need not lose the services of those who receive their greatest punishments, and often the utility of mortal servants is only enhanced by their deaths.
The Coward’s Heart is a filthy bundle of stained rags scribbled with illegible sepia sigils, reeking of camphor, but also an artifact of necromantic revenge. Fabricated from the preserved heart a craven, when a sorcerer stitches the Coward’s Heart into the chest of a corpse it will raise the body as a pusillanimous thrall.
Undead servants created by the Heart are timid creatures, suffering from the same terrors and lack of resolve that afflicted the Heart’s original owner. The very fear and timorousness that drove him during life prevents the donor’s soul from abandoning the heart for the peace of death, and this stubborn attachment to the self makes the Heart a desirable arcane object.
As long as the Heart is intact placing it into a new corpse will create a thrall, allowing the Heart’s owner to quickly recreate a destroyed servant. Unfortunately, thralls created by the Heart are so cowardly that they cannot undertake tasks that would be dangerous to a living person: opening strange doors, testing potential traps, leading others into a new place or engaging in combat. Perhaps because of the limited utility of Heart thralls, Coward’s Hearts are most frequently found in the possession of weak necromancer, or even for sale as a memento mori. On rare occasions a Heart Thrall remains active after the death of its master, and these piteous things skulk and scuttle at the edges of civilization, becoming increasingly afraid of discovery or enslavement.
Heart Thrall: HD 1, AC8 ATK 1 flailing (1d2), MV 12, SV 17, AL Chaos CL/XP A/5
Thrall may be destroyed easily by normal weapons, but there is a 5 in 6 chance that normal physical damage will not damage the Heart, allowing it to raise another. Fire and magical attacks will destroy the heart 4 in 6 times along with a Thrall, and if special efforts are made the Heart may be easily crushed or incinerated. Thralls are effectively completely loyal henchmen, capable of carrying a load, holding torches and standing watch while their master sleeps. They have normal undead immunities but may speak, though without a great deal of volition or intelligence, and are usually ordered not to as their frequent timid whining annoys most masters.
The Codex of Dungeons is an unassuming tome, bound in leather with tarnished silver clasps. It feels lighter than it looks, and opens easily, almost willingly.
Each page of the Codex bears the name of a dungeon, a map, and a few jotted notes and sketches. A few of the dungeons may be familiar to adventurers, but most are unknown. The maps are fairly uniform in size and scale: some display the entirety of a small dungeon; other maps are clearly subsections of larger complexes.
The notes are written in same hand throughout the Codex. Some indicate traps; others show likely guard positions, barriers, or entrances to passages not indicated on the map. A few indicate treasure. The sketches depict a variety of features: doorways, arches, columns, reliefs, and so forth.
The first time the Codex is opened with an intent to study it, it opens to the first page. The book may be closed and opened any number of times thereafter, but it always opens to the same page. The pages flip stiffly and with great difficulty, and only one at a time. Once a page is flipped, it cannot be reopened again – the dungeon depicted is no longer accessible via the tome.
Tearing a page from the book transports the tearer and anyone around them to the entrance of the dungeon depicted on the page. Adventurers exploring the dungeon will find the map’s directions reasonably (~75%) accurate but incomplete: no more than one or two traps are usually indicated, for instance, even if the dungeon holds many more than that. Inhabitants, treasure, and other features are similar: a dungeon may hold goblins as its primary inhabitants as written, but they are allied with ogres instead of gnolls, and keep a cave bear instead of hyenas.
Burning the torn page returns everyone who was transported to the dungeon back to the point of origin (where the book was when the page was torn out). Corpses and the like typically return as well, unless they were consumed, cremated, or otherwise destroyed. The Codex can be opened and have multiple pages torn out (individually, not as a group), transporting characters to a variety of dungeons and back again (clever characters might use this to their advantage, or find themselves leaving the frying pan for the fire).
The dungeons become progressively more dangerous as the pages are turned, so characters that frequently flip pages will rapidly find themselves over their heads. (assume 1d4+2 dungeons per party level, beginning with dungeons suitable for 1st-level characters, then 2nd-level characters, and so forth). The total number of dungeons listed in the Codex of Dungeons is unknown, but may be beyond number. Many of the more dangerous and fantastic dungeons are rumored to be on different planes of existence altogether.
Finally, there is a danger to the book not revealed by any form of divination magic. Each time the Codex is opened, there is a 5% chance that it reveals the master map. This map can be unfolded to reveal a vast, sprawling dungeon labyrinth that seemingly includes every dungeon portrayed in the Codex. One minute after the master map is unfolded, however, everyone in the area is transported to the master dungeon, and the Codex and any of its torn pages disappear from their possession.
Simon Hogwood - Merkil's Marvelous Map
This normal-seeming piece of parchment, when unrolled, will be found to contain a map of the immediately surrounding area, up to 100 feet away (300 feet if used outdoors). All permanent physical features will be shown, but monsters, treasure, and other such items will not be noted.
When looking at the Map, characters automatically find all traps and secret doors and, when outdoors, have the chance of getting lost reduced by 20%.
The map refreshes itself every time it is unrolled, but requires one full combat round to be rolled back up for each time this is done.
The Map is usable by all classes.
This curious bag appears as a small, black linen carpet bag with a simple handle. Inside its extra-dimensional space dwell six “demons,” elemental powers that are useful in certain situations. Each may be drawn from the bag and used once, at which point the bag will become useless. For each type of elemental creature, there is a 15% chance that it is of a major order of power. The demons are:
Wood – drawing this will cause an area of up to 60’ diameter to sprout entangling roots that will entrap enemies (save versus spells or be trapped for d4 turns). If a major demon is drawn, it will cause a huge forest to appear (DM discretion as to size, but potentially miles across).
Fire – this will cause a Fireball-like effect of 8d6 power to strike the desired enemy; no matter the area struck, it will not affect the drawer of the demon or any allies within 20’ of him. A major fire demon will cause a firestorm that will cause 4d6 damage for 3d6 rounds over a 100’ diameter area (save for ½ damage; once again, does not affect the drawer and allies within 20’ of him).
Air – this will cause a wind of over 75 miles per hour to blow in the direction the drawer wishes. This is strong enough to blow any aerial creature away from the drawer and to prevent most ground movement against the wind. Additional damage at DM discretion. A major air demon will cause a powerful tornado that lasts for d6+4 minutes (damage is 16d6 to those caught in it).
Water – this causes a deluge to appear, enough water to fill a 10’ cubic space per round. The water will flow away from the drawer and will not affect him. Anything less than giant size will be washed away and possibly drowned (DM discretion). A major demon will cause either a huge monsoonal storm or a tsunami.
Earth – this will cause a large crack to open at the feet of an enemy, who must save versus magic or fall into it and be lost in the bowels of the earth. A major demon will result in a large earthquake, which may harm the drawer.
Metal – This will cause a bolt of lightning to blast forth from the caster – treat as a Lightning Bolt spell from a 12th level caster. A major demon will cause a lightning storm for d6+4 turns over a large area (up to a mile in diameter). Anyone in the affected area not under cover has a 50% chance of being struck by lightning every other round (6d6 damage, save for ½)
This feared tome exudes a brown mist that constantly swirls above it. Standing 20 inches tall, 30 inches across and one half inch thick, it is has two quarter inch sheets of rusted iron as back and front covers, bound by three rusted iron rings. Within lies a single page. Any who touch the book with their bare hands end up with rust stained hands. The rust is foul smelling and of a nasty brown hue, and can never be washed off. It will forever stain everything a person touches. However, touching the book with your bare hands is the only way the book can be opened. Many have paid the price, as the contents of that one page can be very powerful. Within lie the instruction on how to make one of the most feared golems there is, the Rust Golem. In addition, there are two spells, detailed below. Only one who has actually held the book in his hands can cast any of these spells or create the golem, as the rusty covered hands seems to be a material component for all three.
Area of effect: 1 cubic foot per caster level
Any piece of metal that the magic-user touches turns to rust, just as if it was touched by a Rust Monster. In addition, the mage can, once per day, mix that rust powder with water and drink it, curing himself of 1-8 hp of damage.
Area of effect: 90 degree fan, extending 20 feet in front of the mage
A rust cloud causes all within to save v. breath weapon or choke for 1-6 rounds, unable to take any other action even if they get out of the cloud until the choking fit is over. In addition, another save is required v. spell, or else the victim loses one hp of constitution permanently.
Cost: 200,000 gp
Time to create: 6 months uninterrupted work
# ATT: 2 fists
DMG: 2-20 each blow, plus Rusty Grip effect upon landing a blow. Note that this effects Iron Golems, who save at a -6 penalty.
Special Attack: Rust Blast emanates from its mouth five times per day.
Special Defense: Metal objects hitting it turn to rust instantly and have no effect. No save. Magic items get a save, as per their wielder's save v spell.
This foul smelling metal beast is the bane of all mages who build iron golems to protect their possessions. It stands 12 feet tall, and a constant cloud of foul smelling rust dust emanates from it. It has no known weaknesses and is immune to all non-magical weapons. The only spells which seem to affect it are those which douse it fully with water, which slow it by 50 percent. Otherwise it usually just has to be pummeled to death to kill it.
+Dwayne Gillingham - Torvit’s Amulet of Historic Viewing
(this one needs the applicable graphics)
The mage Torvit created an amulet to aide him with his passion for history. The amulet has two ivory rings carved with runes used to set the date that is desired to be viewed. The outer ring is lined up with the pointer clasp that connects the amulet to the necklace and the inner ring is lined up with the gold pointer that the diamond is set into. The inner ring is divided into 16 sections with the 3 months of each season grouped together and the solstice day following each season.
Depending where on the rune block the two pointers are resting is what date in the month and decade the users will be viewing. With practice the user can dial in a specific day in a month up to 160 years back in time.
The amulet is activated by pressing in the diamond after setting the two rings to the desired date. After activating the user will see the world in ghostly images for intelligence feet from where they are standing. The images will be of what occurred in that area at the time selected and play forward in normal time. If the user moves so does his perspective of the ghostly world. Use of the amulet in intoxicating for every hour viewed a save vs spell (-1/hr viewed) must be made to turn off the device. It is rumored that Torvit himself was lost to over use of the device dying of dehydration.
The amulet has many practical applications, solving murders, spying on meetings that have already occurred and making sure your wife is not cheating on you. *This device allows players to gather historical information on the Game Masters campaign world, giving the game master a way to showcase the hours of work he has put into his campaign.
Fred Bednarski - Umarlak (Mourning Cap) -Amanita Spectra Mortis
Umarlak, known as the Mourning Cap by common folk, or Amanita Spectra Mortis by magisters, is a magic infused mushroom, that grows on bodies of those, who died recently. It bears a pale purple and gray cap, often with a pattern that resembles wailing faces.
It is used mostly by witches and druids, seconded by necromancers and even magi. Small colonies of it can be found nearby their lairs, as once harvested, the mushroom dries (turns useless) in D6 days. But even common folk where known to posses it, as a token showing their grieving.
Umarlak has magical qualities, and is often used as a magic ingridient, but a fresh and raw Grieving Cap can be used to see into a dead person's mind, before their demise, or even to disguise oneself as an undead.
Undead Disguise: When eaten (used as a potion), Umarlak makes the person look and smell like an freshly risen zombie. This makes undead creatures see the person as one of their own and not turn hostile. Other creatures will treat the person like undead (akin to zombie).
The transformation process is almost instantaneous and somehow painful - failed saving throw vs Poison gives penalty of -1 to all the rolls for the duration of the effect. The transformation lasts for 3d6 minutes, but more mushrooms can be eaten at the same time to extend that time. Each mushroom requires it's own saving throw and each failure gives a cumulative -1 to rolls for the duration.
Dead Mind Trance: When burned, Umarlak produces a high volume of thick gray and purple smoke. This smoke will induce a trance in anyone who inhales it long enough (1 turn per hit die). You can try to resist going into trance by rolling saving throw vs Magic. The trance lasts d6 turns. Those affected, will just stare into nothingness, their pupils turned white. They will not respond to any stimuli, even harmful ones.
Once in the trance, anyone who inhaled the smoke from the same mushroom will find themselves transported together to a “memory world”. This world will consist of d6 hours before the death of a person's on whose body this Umarlak has grown on (host). The world will seem very much real, albeit dream-like. You can explore it, talk to its inhabitants and even die (dying in the memory world requires saving vs. Magic or dying in real world). This world is somehow limited by the memories of the place that the Umarlak's host had: doors can lead to nothingness, people can have only know only a sentence or two, you can even stumble upon invisible walls. The trance always ends at the exact time of host's death, and those in trance will wake up in the real world, where only moments have passed. They will remember everything (keeping the experience points gained while in trance) and even show wounds suffered while in the memory world.
Cultivating Umarlaks: Once harvested, Umarlak dries and looses it's qualities in d6 days (it can still be sold as a magic ingredient to a right buyer). The most common way of keeping once harvested Umarlak's qualities is to plant it on a new host to grow a new one.
One should cut the mushroom into small pieces and turn it into a paste (usually mixed with water and ash) using mortal and pestle. This paste should be applied to a recently dead body of a intelligent creature and left in a dark and damp place overnight. The following morning a full grown mushroom will appear somewhere on the host's body, pulsating slightly as it drains the body's fluids. Leaving it on can produce more mushrooms over the course of weeks. Those mushrooms will now host the memories of this creature.