Thursday, September 21, 2023

Meanwhile, down at the fungal oasis...

"An oasis lies amidst rolling crimson dunes of rusty ore; a sump of sludge and slime surrounded by weird fungal palms and spore-retching bracken-bushes."

Vade Mecum Infernum by Aughm Lightchaser (p. 32) 

Oasis of the Lost (#22/30, #265/365)

"You notice two strange things about the fungal oasis that appears before you in the desert. Firstly, what remains of the vegetation is a blackened burned mess; though here and there you can see new sprouts, shoots and spore-balls erupting from the dusty iron soil. Secondly, dead-straight scorch-marks, apparently caused by the tracks of a large animal, lead away from the oasis in completely opposite directions, both vanishing equally at a sudden point amidst the blasted sands."

Contents: The Oasis of the Lost is the lair of the Crimson Fury, the Flaming Camel Demon of Vengeance! Here is where it rests during the day, fresh from another night-time excursion to claim the souls of the guilty upon Titan. Roll a die to determine exactly where it is at any time:

1-2 At this oasis

3-4 At the Desert of Skulls, Allansia, Titan

5 Travelling to Titan

6 Returning to the Pit

If the Crimson Fury is here, it will attack immediately. If it is returning to the Pit, it will appear on a 1 on a roll of one die every 30 minutes. If the Crimson Fury is slain here, it is destroyed utterly. Incredibly, if this happens, the Heroes will see a ghostly spirit of a desert nomad on a camel materialize, thank and Bless (as per the Priestly Power) them for their actions, and then rise up, disappearing to the Plain of Reeds and the Home of the Gods.

[History: The Crimson Fury is the cursed ghost of a great desert nomad warrior, who died in single combat against the Chaos Warlord that became the DOOM DEMON (see Return to the Pit, pp. 60-61). Their geas was to become a fiery camel, fated to collect souls for all eternity, or until slain on their home Plane by a mighty champion.]

 The oasis itself comprises the following locations:

- Bone Pile: When the Crimson Fury slays a warrior they deem worthy enough, that warrior becomes the Skeleton Rider that accompanies the camel of doom on its missions of vengeance. As these warriors are slain or start to fall apart, their remains are dumped here, on the Bone Pile. Some of them are still active, to whit:

  1. "Lefty" ANIMATED LEFT HAND SKILL 6 STAMINA 2, Damage as per Unarmed Human
  2. "Dexter" ANIMATED RIGHT HAND SKILL 6 STAMINA 2, Damage as per Unarmed Human
  3. "Skully" FLYING SKULL SKILL 8 STAMINA 5, Small Bite
  4. "Bonehead" FLYING SKULL SKILL 8 STAMINA 5, Small Bite
  5. "Curtis" HALF-SKELETON SKILL 6 STAMINA 5, Sword

As Skeletons, these creatures take only half damage from bladed or pointed regular weaponry; crushing and smashing weapons will do normal damage. They will attack if attacked themselves, or if Heroes start searching through the bones, but are otherwise content to rest on the Bone Pile, hurling insults at the Heroes, or, in the case of the hands, making rude gestures.

There are enough bones and rusty weapons and armour in the Bone Pile, for a competent Necromancer to create a cohort of 4-24 Skeleton Warriors. Also in the Bone Pile are 3-36GP in a range of coinage, 2 Sapphires worth 40GP each, a leather pouch containing 3 Black Pearls worth 10GP each, a necklace of Hydra Teeth (75GP), the horn from a Yachar Hell Demon, a Gauntlet of Weapon-Skill and a huge two-handed iron-bladed Sword of Cleaving. Both of these last two items require immediate treatment with Rustbane to use properly, otherwise they will only last for one combat before breaking.

- Sump of Sludge: This is the oasis proper, surrounded by scorched fungi. If drunk, the weird blueish liquid in the pool acts as Unholy Water (see Demons of Doom, p. 51), and also causes a random non-cumulative Chaos Mutation (see Encyclopedia Arcana: Volume 1, p. 57). Any sort of purification magic or potion will turn the blue sludge into normal water.

- Tree of Souls: This tall blackened dead tree has weird things hanging from its branches - iron chains connected to small trap-sized black-steel cages, inscribed with runes of binding. These are Soul Cages, containing the souls collected by the Crimson Fury on its night-time depredations across the Desert of Skulls. There are six full Soul Cages on the tree (and six empty ones), roll a die to see what soul each cage contains, in addition to its victim's rotting skull:

  1. Desert Nomad
  2. Caarth
  3. Black Elf
  4. Desert Elf
  5. Sand Stalker
  6. Serpent Guard

If the soul is freed from the cage, it will appear as a ghostly version of its normal form. It will be grateful for its freedom, accompanying the Heroes until their next combat, during which it will fight as a SHADE (SKILL 11 STAMINA 6, Small Claw). After this battle it will depart to the Spirit World.

Every 2-7 days, the First Retrieval Team (see below) will show up via a Demonic Portal connected to the Tower of the Wheel upon the Plane of Pain, to collect all full Soul Cages, and issue 3-18 returned empty ones. If the First Retrieval Team is destroyed, a Second Retrieval Team (also see below), will appear the following day to determine what has happened. If the second team is destroyed, the demonic bureaucracy at the Tower of the Wheel will assume the Crimson Fury is no longer functional, and assign the DOOM DEMON away from its regular duties, to show up here in a further 2-7 days to document what has happened, and take its place until another mighty warrior can be slain and reborn as the Crimson Fury.

- Plinth of Records: On the Plinth of Records lies a stoppered skull full of red ink, the white quill of a demonic bird, and a book with a brown leather cover - the Journal of Doom. In this book the Crimson Fury's nameless rider has recorded the nightly carnage caused by the creatures when they venture to the sands of the Desert of Skulls upon Titan (perhaps surprisingly, all entries are written in Allansian). A sample entry:

"7th Day of Reaping, 281 AC, the Year of the Dog

We toiled long across the dunes, leaving a trail of fire but saw no sentient souls for most of the night. Towards dawn we encountered the camp of a priest and their mulish steed, but the holy man was most blessed and held off our attack until the sun was about to rise and we were fated to return to the oasis."




5 BLADE DEMONS, SKILL 5, STAMINA 6, Arm Blade (as Sword)

Blade Demons are five feet tall with cruel, horned, dog-like features, spindly limbs, and arms that end in wicked curved blades of bone.

1 CURSED WARRIOR, SKILL 6, STAMINA 8, Sword, Leather Hauberk

 A Cursed Warrior appears as a skeletal warrior missing its lower jaw and covered with a strange green glow. The soul of an evil warrior serving its time in the Pit, by being placed in charge of unruly lesser demons.

(The BLADE DEMON and the CURSED WARRIOR are taken from Jonathan Hicks' excellent AFF mini-adventure, The Taskmaster's Tower)


4 SMOKE DEMONS, SKILL 9, STAMINA 12, 2 Attacks, Small Claw. Anyone fighting a Smoke Demon must deduct 1 from their SKILL due to the stench-laden haze that surrounds these creatures.

1 FIRE DEMON, SKILL 10, STAMINA 10, 3 Attacks, Fire Sword, Fire Whip, Fire Breath, Light Armour, +2 to Damage Roll.


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