ATROPAL

 

An atropal is an undead titan creature that resembles an overgrown, dead human fetus. Notable physical traits include rotten skin, patches of exposed muscle tissue, clawed hands, and feet, razor-sharp teeth and eyeholes that have been fused shut. Also of particular note, an atropal will usually have an umbilical cord still dangling from its belly.

An atropal is a weapon and nothing else. They were created during the Dawn War when the gods fought against the primordials. The Dawn War began when the mad god Tharizdun marshaled the primordials against the gods in a bid for universal domination. In his madness, Tharizdun attempted to create life resulting in the nightmarish atropals. Seeing that his creations were faulty, he sealed them away within the Far Realm to be forgotten. Some, however, have been allowed to roam free across the planes, bringing death and destruction everywhere they go.

Atropal are thought to be immortal and unable to be truly killed. Atropals lack eyes, yet they can still perceive their surroundings just as accurately as any sighted being, in fact, they are believed to have True Sight allowing them to see the true forms of beings and objects. They are undead creatures able to bolster others of their kind, using an ability that creates a terrible miasma that can swiftly kill living creatures and repair undead creatures. An Atropal can also sap the life force of living creatures to empower themselves.

Sometime in the late 15th century D.R., an atropal was found drifting in the Negative Energy plane by the lich Acererak and was brought to the Tomb of the Annihilation in Chult to be nourished by an artifact known as the Soulmonger, which caused the onset of the death curse.

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I … is for … IBRANDLIN #atozchallenge

 

The now Dead God Ibrandul imparted arcane rituals to his most faithful followers over the centuries, allowing them to create loyal guardian beasts from captured fire lizards called “IBRANDLIN.” These creatures can be trained from birth to revere and protect men and women wearing the vestments of Ibrandul – dark purple robes or tunics with four interlocked silver circles – and to guard a lair, usually a temple, against intruders.

They are also called “Lurkers In Darkness” because they prefer subterranean lairs. Lurkers do not hoard treasure. They form family groups with all inhabitants of a temple, working as a team to guard the common items and splendors of their home lair. If it remains on the same plane, a lurker removed from the lair will always know the direction to its home lair and will slowly, doggedly travel back. Lurkers who lose their masters will aggressively defend their lair, even if it is in ruins. If new individuals arrive clad in the familiar vestments of Ibrandul, such lost lurkers will readily accept new masters.

 

G … is for … GUTH #atozchallenge

In the Dungeons & Dragons game, Sir Guth of Ormpetarr was a knight of Ilmater (pronounced ill-may-ter) and a member of the Order of the Golden Cup from the city of Ormpetarr in Sespech. He was featured in the book Prayers from the Faithful. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102–103. ISBN 0-7869-0682-0.

 

 

In 1342 DR, the mad priest Bloirt Waelarn stole the Tome of Torment from the House of the Broken God in Keltar, Calimshan. Sir Guth confronted Waelarn and challenged him to “holy combat under the watching eyes of our god.” Waelarn accepted, and promptly used a spell to bury Guth in a huge pile of rocks. Calmly and cruelly, Waelarn then dug Guth out with a pick, and used an axe to chop off any limb that was revealed. Guth was soon killed and Waelarn left.

But that was not the end. Ilmater, the One Who Endures, caused Sir Guth to rise from his grave, but not from the dead. Guth was raised as a Revenant. Untiring and unrelenting, Guth tracked Waelarn across the beautiful countryside of Sespech until the rogue priest collapsed of exhaustion outside the logging town of Elbulder. Then Sir Guth strangled Waelarn as he slept.

The deed done, Guth hid the Tome of Torment then constructed a funeral pyre to burn Waelarn’s corpse to ash. Guth then threw himself on the pyre, still obeying the will of Ilmater the Broken God.

 

 

 

C … is for … CHANGE CAT #atozchallenge

The change cat is a product of tampering by ancient magical forces. In effect, a change cat is two creatures in one. Its natural form, and that in which it spends most of its time, is that of a domestic cat. In this body, it is identical to that animal in all respects. At will, however, the change cat can transform itself into a large, cheetah-like plains cat.

The change cat was created by a powerful magician long ago to act as a faithful pet and a sentinel for his most valuable treasures. Being very fond of cats and having a strong dislike for guards, he set about to create the perfect house cat for a powerful wizard. Although many of these animals now roam the wilds of the world, they are still encountered as pets in the homes of powerful and rich people.

In its larger form, the change cat can sprint quickly over short distances much like a cheetah. This effort is quite exhausting, however, requiring the cat to rest for about two minutes afterward before it can sprint again. A change cat can switch forms quickly, completely in about six seconds. It may remain in either form for as long as it desires.

If a change cat is treated kindly by a human, elf, or half-elf, it will often adopt that person and follow him around, giving no hint of its unique nature and special abilities. If its new companion is attacked, however, there is a very excellent chance that the change cat transforms and comes to their aid. Change cats are fond of humans, elves, and half-elves, suspicious of gnomes, dwarves, and halflings, and have a great dislike of races such as goblins, orcs, and half-orcs.

 

 

The Wealdath Portal

The Forest of Tethir, also known as Wealdath, was the largest forest on the Sword Coast and one of the largest in all of Faerûn. Some scholars were of the opinion that the forest was the “single most important thing” that set the culture of Tethyr. Within this forest, the Emerald Enclave maintains and protects a portal.

This portal is formed by the arcing of two oak tree branches near a stationary elf village deep within the forest. Dryads who have seen enough action in their time to gain druid and ranger levels protect these trees. The dryads agreed to let their trees be used as part of a portal and understand the potential danger. They also understand that having the friendship and protection of the Emerald Enclave outweighs any danger that association could cause. The dryads themselves have the ability to open the portal from the Wealdath side, while the portal is continually open from the Ilghon side.

 

 

A DAY AT THE RACES!

Port Nyranzaru

 

THE PORT

Nyranzaru is a Amnian Trade Colony of about 12,000.  Amn owns and controls all activity in Port Nyranzaru. Taxes are high, but those lucky enough to be employed by one of the major trading companies live in relative safety inside the walls of this ultimate frontier city. One of the most interesting things about Nyranzaru is its use of dinosaurs as beasts of burden. Medium and Large dinosaurs are used as beasts of burden to haul two-wheeled carts, to hoist heavy loads on cranes, and to tow boats along the canals. Dinosaurs compete in weekly races through the streets. These brightly painted racing dinosaurs are fast, vicious, and barely under their riders’ control.

THE RACES

Dinosaurs are painted in bright colors, and their jockies try to steer them along a course that winds around the harbor and the city’s four hills. Spectators are seldom injured, but it’s a dangerous sport. A typical race day has three races: one for four-legged beasts, one for two-legged beasts, and one no holds- barred “unchained” race. Many of the dinosaurs involved are juveniles, since fully grown versions can be too large and too difficult for riders to manage. The dinosaurs are stoutly muzzled and have their claws and horns blunted in ail but the unchained race.

The four-legged race is dominated by young ankylosauruses and triceratopses, but dimetrodons have also done well when paired with Small riders. Most competitors in the two-legged race are hadrosauruses and deinonychuses. The unchained race sees racers on anything, including young allosauruses and very young tyrannosauruses.

 

GAMBLING

During the weekly races, there is a gambling station, where gamblers can stake money on a dinosaur. The three most common ways to bet money are to win, to place, and to show. A bet to win, sometimes called a “straight” bet, means staking money on the dinosaur, and if it comes in first place, the bet is a winner. In a bet to place, you are betting on your dino to finish either first, second, or, depending on how many dinosaurs are in the race, third; for example, in a race with 5 dinos, a place bet would only be for first and second place, but in a race with 10 dinos, the bet is on a dinosaur to finish first, second, or third. A bet to show wins if the dinosaur finishes first, second or third. Since it is much easier to select a dino to finish first, second, or third than it is to select a dino just for first, the show payoffs will be much lower on average than win payoffs.

THE RACES

If you are heading to the races for the first time you will need a program and a racing form. These are available for purchase at the betting stations.  The Official Daily Program contains important information about the day’s races including the dinosaurs, their morning line odds, the jockey that will ride, race distances and much, much more. Programs are usually available at the Harbormaster’s office.

Once you have arrived at the races, you will need to find a good place to watch. Spectators may gather along the race path to watch for no charge and at their own risk. At most, if not all, race days you will have to pay extra for entry into the clubhouse or for reserved seating. After you have settled on your place, and have taken the time to review the track program and/or racing form, you will want to check out the dinosaurs.

THE PADDOCK

The best place to look at dinosaurs is the Paddock. The paddock is where the dinosaurs get saddled prior to the race. After the dinos are saddled, they are walked around a ring. This is where you can observe how “your” dinosaur looks. Examine the dino to verify that it is alert yet relaxed, loose and light on its feet, not acting out excessively, has good looking (not sunken) eyes and generally looks ready to run. If you can manage it, check out the dinosaur’s droppings to ensure it has been eating well.

If you have studied the racing form and looked at the dinosaurs, it is time to place a bet. One note about betting: Unlike other forms of gambling, you are not playing against the house when you bet on the races. Betting is actually a competition with the people around you. This is why it is possible to win at the races! When you are competing against other people – the public – it is wise to invest the time necessary to beat them.

BETTING

Win – You win if your dino finishes 1st.

Place – You win if your dino finishes 1st or 2nd.

Show – You win if your dino finishes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

Exacta – You win if you select the 1st and 2nd place dinos in a race in the “exact” order.

Trifecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place dinos in a race in the correct order of finish.

Superfecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place dinos in a race in the correct order of finish.

Daily Double – Daily Doubles require that you pick the winner of two consecutive races before the running of the first race in the sequence of races. Daily Doubles are usually offered on the first and last two races of each racing card.

Pick 3 – You win if you select the winner of three consecutive races. The bet must be placed prior to the running of the first race in the sequence.

Pick 4 – You win if you select the winner of four consecutive races. The bets must be placed prior to the running of the first race of the Pick 4 sequence.

Head-to-Head – Some tracks offer a head-to-head (H2H) wager. The H2H wager is a race within a race. You pick one of the two designated dinos in the race. If your dinosaur finishes in front of the other horse, you win. Please note that your dino does not have to win, place, or show. It just needs to beat the other dinosaur.

PLACING A BET

There is a basic protocol to follow when you go to the betting station to place a bet. Here is what to say to the clerk:

Track: Tell the clerk what race you are betting on. “Old City, race 3.”

Amount: Tell the clerk the amount that you are betting. “Five Gold.”

Type: Tell the clerk the type of bet you are making. “Win.”

Number: Tell the clerk the number(s) of the dinosaur you are betting. “Number 5.”

Now put it all together. “Old City, race 3, five gold to win on number 5.”

That’s all there is to it!

You can bet on any race being run at the track at any time before it is run.

WAGERING

Across the Board – A win, place and show bet on the same dinosaur.

Box – An exotic bet where all possible combinations are covered for a group of two or more dinosaurs.

Exotic Wagers – Any wager other than straight win, place and show bets.

Key Dinosaur – The primary dinosaur used in exotic bets. Dinosaurs may be keyed to win, place, or show.

Pool – The total of all money bet on a specific wager type.

Probable Payoffs – The current exotic wager payoffs, from all possible winning dinosaur combinations, from active betting pools.

Wheel – The selection of one dinosaur in conjunction with betting every possible combination with that horse in an exotic wager.

Will Pays – The actual payoffs of exotic multiple race wagers (Daily Double, Pick 3, and Pick 4), shown before the final race, of all possible winning dinosaur number combinations.

 

 

OAKMOSS PARASITE

 

Oakmoss was a coastal fishing village near a small inland lake on the Sword Coast. A stretch of cliffs a short walk from the village were riddled with small, shallow caves. Some believe that the small creatures were summoned from another plane of existence and unleashed upon the people of the village. Others suggest that they were mutated by some kind of alchemical mutagen or arcane potion. Either way, the parasites fell on the village in a swarm from the caves, first drinking the villagers dry of their blood and then taking possession on their lifeless bodies.

The Waterdeep Navy dealt with Oakmoss by burning it to the ground, including every remaining villager. The whole area was left lifeless, with everything of value gone and no one to call it a village anymore. But vermin have a way of surviving, and surivive they did.

Oakmoss Parasites, also called Corpse Fleas, are small flightless insects. As parasites of mammals and birds, they live by consuming the blood of their hosts. Adults are up to about 3 mm long and usually brown. Bodies flattened sideways enable them to move through their host’s fur or feathers; strong claws prevent them from being dislodged. They lack wings, and have mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood and hind legs adapted for jumping. The latter enable them to leap a distance of some 50 times their body length, a feat second only to jumps made by froghoppers. Larvae are worm-like with no limbs; they have chewing mouthparts and feed on organic debris.

However, the Corpse Flea is most feared for its interaction with corpses. It has developed its necromanical desires into a way of life, using corpses to propagate itself. Whereas a fly will merely implant eggs into a corpse and leave, letting its offspring use the corpse as nourishment, this creature instead crawls entirely inside a corpse then uses it to walk it around, spreading small nodules shaped like spikes and akin to seeds as it walks. A clear ichor that serves to accelerate the growth of its nodules accompanies the spikes. This ichor often seeps from the orifices of the host.

When a Corpse Flea traveling inside a host encounters another dead body, it “spits” one of its spikes into the body. The spike injects fluid into the corpse, and the spike itself slowly burrows into the body, toward the heart, then grows. Within two days, a new parasite fills the chest of the corpse, animates the body, and walks around searching for dead bodies on its own.

These creatures do not seek to kill living creatures and try to avoid them. However, they are drawn to blood and, like vultures, seek out living things they sense may die. If attacked, they won’t hesitate to defend themselves, spitting spikes at opponents.

The Oakmoss Parasite can sustain a corpse for up to a month. While its fluid prevents the decay of muscle and connective tissue, the creature must eat. The corpse itself is the most convenient source of food, so it nibbles slowly on the inner flesh. Once the body has ceased to be of use, the parasite crawls out through the most accessible opening and inches away, looking for other bodies. Naturally, the beasts are attracted to battlefields and the enormous pickings to be found there. However, the Corpse Flea is keen to pick bodies that are intact. Any gross openings in the skin will allow too much of its fluid to leak out. Therefore, it is more likely to pick a body that has died from blunt trauma than from, say, being hacked to death. It prefers animals and people that have died from sickness. If it cannot find a corpse, it chooses some place to wait until it smells a corpse. It prefers moist hiding places; ideal locations include coastal caves, since they’re dark and wet, and stagnant lakes. During the night, it may sometimes roam the countryside if it is desperate enough.

 

THE DARK CONTINENT

Chult is located at the westernmost end of the Chultan peninsula, in the southern part of the Trackless Sea, off the coast of Calimshan. During the Sundering, Chult was cut off from the mainland, forming an island. Before that, Chult was again forming the westernmost end of the peninsula. Regardless of geographical status, Chult has always been remote and isolated, forming a mountainous jungle of savage beasts, hulking dinosaurs, and disease-ridden swamps. Savage human tribes, goblins, and even stranger monstrous folk haunt the thick jungles. Nevertheless, Chult draws adventurers who search for its legendary riches. The primordial Ubtao is almost exclusively revered in the land, for the divine powers of Faerûn awarded Ubtao the dominion over the land of Chult in exchange for the deity’s vigilance over the threat from under the Peaks of Flame, a chain of volcanoes.

Ubtao (pronounced oob-TAY-oh ) is the patron deity of Chult. He is also known as The Father of the DinosaursCreator of ChultFounder of Mezro, and The Deceiver. He stays distant from both mortals and other deities, and he seems to be above the daily doings of the world and his followers. This may be partly due to his origin as a primordial, and in fact it’s not fully known if he is a deity in the traditional sense. Only since the Time of Troubles has he begun to show interest in his followers again. The many jungle spirits worshiped in Chult are all aspects of Ubtao. But due to this he only has power in and around the jungles of Chult.

Chult is a varied land, but it is hot and humid nearly everywhere. The rainforest, which covers much of the country, roughly follows thedrainage of large river basins, like the Olungand the Tath. The soil in the rainforest is poor for northern-style farming, since the daily rainfall leaches away most of the nutrients.Travel in the heart of the rainforest is easier than one might expect. The tall trees stretch hundreds of feet overhead, barren of branchesor leaves, save for the huge canopies that spread wide in search of light and rain. A thin carpet of fallen leaves, pale vines, and hearty fungus covers the hard ground. The biggest obstacle to travel are the trees themselves, which sport huge, buttressed boles.

Chult is hot — very hot. The baking sun plus the humidity challenge even the most stalwart adventurer. Explorers should be very careful of what they are wearing and how much potable water they have with them. Adventurers who wear armor and are heavily encumbered will soon discover how uncomfortable the jungle can be during an expedition. In any part of the jungle, an average person must drink at least one gallon of fresh water each day to survive. Someone remaining inactive can cut that requirement to a half-gallon. Because the oppressive humidity affects a person in the shade as much as the sun, no further reductions in water requirements can be gained by hiding in the shade or traveling only at night.

Disease lurks in the air and water of the tropics and is carried by insects. Many expedition send in ruin because of this invisible menace,and many explorers in Faerun bear more lasting scars from Chultan diseases than from any of its beasts. The physical environment profoundly shapes disease. The environment is more than just the natural environment. People modify the land and waterscapes in innumerable ways: by building houses, cutting down trees, building roads, grazing livestock, planting crops for agriculture, and introducing new plants and animals. All of these changes create new disease environments.

The humans of Chult live in tribal communities, consisting of a dozen or so families, which move from one area to the next when the poor soil of the largely-jungle covered peninsula becomes depleted. For hunting and defence they rely on primitive non-metallic weapons like clubs, bows and shortspears. Harder metals like iron and steel are unavailable to them, and the few brought in by outsiders are nowhere near enough to sufficiently arm any number of people.

Most humans native to Chult consider themselves part of the great tribe known as the Tabaxi. This is not to say the scattered clan units recognize any central ruler; they most certainly do not. Yet the culture of the Tabaxi ancestors has remained so strong and dominated so many other less expansive cultures that the entire country finds itself peopled by men and women who share a common language and a somewhat uniform social structure.

The humans known as Tabaxi should not be confused with the cat-men that dwell in jungle settings such as Chult. It has been suggested that the baffling sameness of names arose when a stripling Cormyrean explorer mistook a human warrior wearing a war costume made up of the tails of lions and panthers for one of the cat-men. Upon learning from a guide that the mysterious figure was a Tabaxi, the explorer mistakenly concluded that such was the name for the legendary cat-men.

Magic is generally feared, and each tribal-family generally has only one wielder of arcane magic, performing hunting ceremonies and brewing potions to aid the hunters. Despite this restriction on arcane spellcasters, the number of people with an aptitude for magic is the same as anywhere else in Faerûn. Subsequently, the Chultan attitude towards the arcane causes some arcanists to flee into the jungle to practice their art alone. In the days before the Spellplague many also traveled to study in Mezro. Magic is taught under the guidance of the College of Wizards, located in the Scholars Quarter. In rural Tabaxi villages,those who would learn the ways of the Art petition the village elders to study under the clan’s most experienced mage. Rouge magic users are hunted and culled by Hunters experienced in tracking and killing those using the Art without approval.

Aside from humans, wild dwarves, goblins, aldani, ptera-men, bullywugs, and lizardfolk also inhabit the land. In smaller numbers are exotic creatures as chuuls, hydras, nagas, troglodytes, trolls, and wyverns. But the dominant predators of the land are the dinosaurs, worshipped by many of the natives as aspects of the primordial Ubtao.

With everything that Cult has to offer to explorers and adventurers, it is no wonder that it lures so many to it’s shores. Come, all ye seekers after treasure beyond your ken and adventure greater than any you can dream! Come, all ye mighty warriors, seekers after prey worthy of your peerless skills, and stalk the Children of Ubtao. Walk the streets of the city of Mezro, of the Maze of Life. Meet the barae, the holy warriors of Ubtao, those men and women who will live forever sustained by their wisdom and their faith.

jungle