Monday, 20 March 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #79: Lightning Strikes the Desert

 Three hexes south, two southwest of Alakran.


Even those who believe devoutly in Mitra and other latter-day gods refer superstitiously to storm lightning, usually appearing only in the rainy winter, as the "arrows of Hurru" (the old Urig war-god); the heat-lightning that flickers across summer nights is known as "the banners of Hurru."

Among the rare phenomena to be seen in the sandy erg desert is the aftermath of a lightning strike that hits wet sand during the rainy season and creates small, knobbly glass pegs known as fulgurites. These relics are rapidly covered over by the dunes and erode in the course of time, but each hour's searching in a sandy region has a 1/20 chance to find one, subject to passing a Nature check at DC 15 (and disadvantage unless one is versed in the desert terrain).

Fulgurites are useful in making magical charms and certain alchemical mixtures, and are part of a secret recipe for creating lightning wands; most such wands created in the Urig cultural sphere will have a polished fulgurite for a tip. Due to these objects' great value to alchemists and wizards (100 gp) some unscrupulous wizards try to set up an industry of false fulgurites when they learn the lightning bolt spell. Alas, these synthetic creations are without magical force, having come from the hand of a mortal and not from dread Hurru himself.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #78: Scorpion Women of the Sands

Four hexes south, one southwest of Alakran.


The earliest written monster book is the Epic of Gilgamesh, and among the monsters are the scorpion-men -- guardians of the entrance to the land of the dead. Although ancient depictions have these creatures as bipedal,


they look a little silly to modern eyes, more like chicken-men. So gaming, starting with Runequest and continuing in Basic D&D (but never Advanced), has followed the Rule of Cool and portrayed man-scorpions as centaurid, with six or eight legs of the scorpion in their undercarriage. The 5th Edition SRD has open stats for the scorpionfolk from the City of Brass adventure, though the stats are miscalculated; it should be CR 3 and the creature's hit points should be 68.

Level 2: Runequest - Scorpion Men. 

Anyway, this hex is the home range of two patrols of d4+2 scorpion-women warriors who are charged with guarding the approaches to Zigmunus. They carry shield, spears, and slings, using barbed bone bullets laced with a dose of their own tail venom (2d6 poison damage over 2 rounds, CON save for half.) They are part of the reason the southern desert has such a fearsome reputation, for they will implacably attack anyone who is not a woman carrying a juniper branch. To women bearing the sign of asylum, though, they are helpful if brusque, and will guide them southward to the Amalug Statue.