Sunday, December 3, 2017

Agents of The Black Lotus



They who believe in the influences of the stars over the fates of men, are, in feeling at least, nearer the truth than they who regard the heavenly bodies as related to them merely by a common obedience to an external law. All that man sees has to do with man. World cannot be without an intermundane relationship... No Shining belt or gleaming moon, no red and green glory in a self-encircling twin-star, but has a relation with the hidden things of a man's soul, and, it may be, with the secret history of the body as well. They are portions of the living house wherein he abides. 

Phantastes, George MacDonald

Sometimes when an orphan disappears in the City State, or when a criminal is sentenced to death but never appears before the executioner, who waits impatiently by the cutting stone with his great axe slung useless on his back, this is what happens. Taken blindfolded and bound by nondescript men, he is led by secret tunnels to a forgotten chamber beneath the Cryptic Citadel. His hands are loosed as a door suddenly closes behind him. So it is that he finds himself in the chamber of the Black Lotus.

A queer stone of a hue impossibly black rests upon an altar of purest white marble. Its majesty is terrible to behold, drawing in the gaze even as it repels. Although unmoving, it seems to turn upon itself folding like the petals of a trembling black flower. Then its song begins. One in ten leave the chamber to begin their training as a new member of the Order of The Black Lotus, the Invincible Overlord's society of monk assassins, secret police, and agents provocateur.

The Order of the Black Lotus was formed long ago, during the period known from obscure markings on the great calendar obelisk as the Cycle of the Black Sun. This heavenly body appeared at first to be an unpredicted solar eclipse, a disk of black surrounded by a solar corona. This lasted for ten days of hideous waking darkness, before the black disk separated itself from the sun, assuming for a period of seven years its station as a counter-sun in the day's sky, casting an eerie grey light with white shadows.

Manuel Tinneman

During this time unknown demons stalked the earth, and the principles of natural philosophy were stood upon their head. Alchemical processes were subject to strange and deadly alterations in the light of the Black Sun, and many a scullery maid's stew was ruined, or hands burnt by the sudden boiling of water, when the strange grey light fell upon their kitchen. Mass hysteria led to numerous inconclusive but bloody revolutions.

The Order of the Black Lotus arose at this time, one of innumerable apocalyptic cults. How this group came to possess the Black Lotus is not known, nor its relation to the Black Sun; whether it is a fragment of that other sun, or its effluvia, or even its seed, or whether it bears no relation at all. The cult was brutally suppressed and the Black Lotus interred in the undercity and forgotten for many years, until a pair of goblin engineers stumbled upon the chamber (and their doom) while excavating old tunnels beneath the Cryptic Citadel. With some research, the Overlord's sages uncovered smudged and torn copies of the cult's holy text, Gospel of the Alien Sun. From these the meditative practices of the cult were reconstructed.

In addition to their earthly training in arts of stealth and deception, the agents draw from their esoteric communion with the Black Lotus strange powers over density, gravity, and the void. These powers are harnessed in their weirding martial art, and in a variety of disciplines that initiate alchemical processes within their body. The limit of their power is unknown, but the Gospels speak of disciples whose open palm strikes with the force of a comet, and others who are able to survive the void of space.

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Requirements


Only humans may become agents of the Black Lotus. To survive their ordeal with the stone, they must possess certain remarkable qualities. They are the following:

Strength:       15
Dexterity:     15
Wisdom:       15
Constitution: 12

They must be Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.

Hit Dice


The HD of the agent of the Black Lotus is 1d4. However, an agent begins at first level with 2 HD.



Class Abilities and Limitations


Combat and Movement

Agents of the Black Lotus may use any weapon, but cannot wear armor. They fight as thieves of like level. They do not receive strength bonuses to hit or damage, nor dexterity bonuses to their AC.

However, as their meditative journeys penetrate deeper into the labyrinths within the stone their ability to control the density of matter, gravity, and other less well-understood forces increases. Through constant training they learn to weaponize these abilities and employ them as fearsome defenses.

As a result of these defenses, their AC decreases by one for each level above first. They may also save vs. paralysis to avoid normal missile attacks, and save vs. spells to avoid magical missile. Finally, if an attack (e.g. dragon breath) indicates that they would take half damage from a successful save, they take no damage.

Offensively, they receive +1 to damage with weapons for every two levels; and they gain extra unarmed attacks that do increasing damage as they progress in their weirding. (See the chart below.) Furthermore, if they roll 5 more than is required to hit a foe, then the foe is stunned for 1d6 rounds, with a base chance equal to their opponents AC +1% per level over 7 to kill them outright.

Every level above first their base move increases by 10'. 

Thief Abilities

As the secret police of the Invincible Overlord, agents of the Black Lotus receive extensive training in arts of stealth and deception. Like the houri, the agent of the Black Lotus employs +Chris Kutalik's B/X thief variant, which resembles the LOTFP specialist. Thief skills require rolling equal to or under on 1d6 modified by circumstances as the DM rules. The agent has starting skills equal to the following, and receives one additional point to distribute per level.

Stealth         2
Climb           4
Hear Noise    2
Disguise        1
Pick Locks     1

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Requirements to Advance in Level


To ascend in levels, the agents of the Black Lotus must perform certain actions. To go up in any level, the agent must withdraw to meditate for a period of time, delving further into the Black Lotus. If you are not using training rules like those in AD&D, then the agent must miss one game session, where it can be assumed he is deep in meditation. (During this time, the player is encouraged to play a henchman or hireling.) In addition, to reach certain levels further tasks must be accomplished:

To reach 3rd level, the agent must win a minor victory for the Invincible Overlord. Minor feats might include disrupting or temporarily setting back an enemy's plan, sewing temporary discord between two of the Overlord's enemies, or delivering a piece of genuinely useful information to the Overlord.

To reach 5th level, the agent must win a moderate victory for the Invincible Overlord. Moderate victories include permanently ruining an enemy's plan, delivering a useful object (magical item, map, etc.), acquiring a piece of major intelligence, or significantly advancing one of the Overlord's plans.

To reach 7th level, the agent must win a major victory for the Invincible Overlord. Major victories include assassinating a minor enemy of the Overlord, sewing lasting discord between two of the Overlord's enemies, delivering a powerful magical object, or achieving one of the Overlord's major goals.

To reach 10th level, the agent must win an epic victory for the Invincible Overlord. Epic victories include assassinating a major enemy of the Overlord, starting a war between two of the Overlord's enemies, recovering an artifact (in the AD&D sense), or gaining a major asset of decisive significance of the Invincible Overlord.

To reach 11th level, the agent must slay the current Master of the Fetid Calf in unarmed combat, for there can be only one.

To reach 12th level, the agent must slay the current Master of the Gelid Membranes in unarmed combat, for there can be only one.

To reach 13th level, the agent must slay the current Master of the Five Voids in unarmed combat, for there can be only one.


Special Powers

At second level, his special secret training in resisting magical interrogation allows the agent of the Black Lotus to mask his true thoughts from ESP with 70% success. This percentage increases by 2% per level.

At third level, his meditations allow him to enter the first of the chambers within the Black Lotus. There he will encounter the Rippling Torus. If he is not overwhelmed, he may now call on his uncertain bond with this entity to create distortions in the gravitational field, allowing him to jump, as the spell, once per day.

At fourth level, his mastery of the Rippling Torus deepens, and he no longer takes falling damage if he is within 20 feet of a wall or other vertical surface when he falls.

At fifth level, his meditations take him beyond the first chamber, to the threshold of the Labyrinth of the Echoing Shadow. Across the threshold drifts the Wind of Five Crystals. By inhaling this incense, he may cease breathing for 1 hour plus 1 hour per level over fifth level.

At sixth level, the agent may enter the Labyrinth of the Echoing Shadow. But to do so he must take it into himself, consuming it in a great psychic feast. After this, he may at any time enter the antechamber of the labyrinth within. Here he will hear the buzzing of the Hive Bells. By silencing them, he may slow his heart beat and other vital functions, feigning death once per day, as the spell.

At seventh level, he may penetrate further into the Labyrinth within the Black Lotus, wandering many turning ways in the darkness. When he is ready, he may follow the paths of his own whimsical memories, which lead to the White Room. The great Alabaster Map there charts the flow of alchemical forces through his body, allowing him to slow poison in his blood, as the spell delay poison, once per day.

At eighth level, he may follow his painful memories of rejection to the Frozen Apse, where the cold of space bleeds through the perforated masonry. He may now travel there once per day, allowing him to resist cold, as the spell, for 1 hour plus 1 hour for each level over seventh.

At ninth level, he may follow the trail of his guilty deeds to the Heavy Priory, where the churning of the space is a crushing weight. He may now travel there once per day, allowing him to survive in high pressure environments for 1 hour plus 1 hour for each level over ninth. During this time he may act as normal.

At tenth level he may he may return to the Alabaster Map, opening its hidden ways to travel throughout the byways of his body. This allows him to neutralize poison in his blood stream, as well as cure his own diseases once per day.

At eleventh level, he may follow his childhood fears through the Labyrinth to reveal the Sanctum of the Fetid Calf. Here he will encounter the Rippling Torus in its true form. Should he survive the contest, he will master the torus, gaining the ability to subject his enemies to crushing gravitational effects with a deliberate blow. He may now slow an opponent with a successful strike of his palm, as per the spell, once per day.

At twelfth level, he may follow the path of his lost memories to the Nave of the Gelid Membranes. This is a terrible place of no consciousness. He may now go there one per day, allowing him to inflict blindness and deafness on an opponent once per day with a successful strike of his palm, as per the spells.

At thirteenth level, he will finally begin to hear the reverberations of the Echoing Shadow. They will come to him unbidden, and will fill him with terror. Should he find the courage to follow them to their source, in the heart of the Black Lotus, he will find the Transept of the Five Voids. This will allow him to deliver the dreaded touch of the void once every two weeks. If he successfully strikes an opponent with the palm of his hand, he may plant a void seed within their body, bringing it to fruition at any point in the next two weeks. The victim must HD equal to or less than the agent. When the void comes to fruition, the victim will be swallowed from within, disappearing utterly.

It is not known what powers or perils those who choose to delve further into the Black Lotus. For, it is thought that to go beyond the station of the Master of the Five Voids is to come face to face with the Echoing Shadow itself.



Level


Title

XP

Required Task

1


Informer

0

Meditation

2

Interrogator


2451

Meditation

3

Saboteur

5241

Minor Victory for Overlord


4


Infiltrator 

11025

Meditation

5

Initiate of the Labyrinth 

20075

Moderate Victory for Overlord


6

Disciple of the Labyrinth


50051

Meditation

7

Wanderer in the Darkness


102301

Major Victory for Overlord


8

Eye of The Overlord

214501

Meditation


9

Hand of the Overlord

374001


Meditation

10

Blade of the Overlord

616001

Epic Victory for the Overlord


11

Master of the Fetid Calf

858001

Slay the Current Master of the Fetid Calf


12

Master of the Gelid Membrane


1100001

Slay the Current Master of the Gelid Membrane

13


Master of the Five Voids

1342001

Slay the Curret Master of the Five Voids


14+

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2 comments:

  1. I'll send this to my DM, who runs a WL campaign. Thanks Ben!

    Allan.

    ReplyDelete