Thursday 7 December 2023

South of Kambyra: The Sea-hag's Isle I

 HEX 3


The Sea-Hag’s Lair

As a continuation of the reef-strewn Cowdray Shoals (See Hex 1), this area is dominated by rough and treacherous channels between a small chain of rocky islets that are arranged in a ring around a sand-choked body of shallow water, at the centre of which is a small crescent-shaped isle. The isle is predominantly a brackish marsh, subjected to regular tidal inundations, backed by a serrated ridge of rock that curves for about two miles NE-SW, ranging in height from 30’ to 160’ at its highest point. This ridge ranges in width from a few feet at either end to approximately 200’ at the midpoint. A narrow beach of gravel slopes steeply up from the marsh to the ridge, where tough grass and stunted trees cling to a precarious existence in a meagre bed of soil at the base of the ridge. This unprepossessing stretch of land is home to Khaetos, a psionically-empowered  Giant Sea-Hag of particularly vindictive character, and a small clan of Sea-Grymne who serve her - quite willingly - as helpmates and guardians.

Khaetos herself dwells in a rocky cave at the base of the highest point on the rocky ridge that forms the spine of the isle. This cave is only reachable by a 200’ long tunnel, sandy-floored, with rocky walls veined with a phosphorescent form of coral that gives out a putrid purple luminescence. This unwholesome radiance causes those over-exposed to it (for a number of rounds greater than their CON score) to pass a Saving Throw or be sickened until they have been out in the open air for at least 1 minute per round exposed to the luminescence. Khaetos and her Sea-Grymne are, of course, not susceptible to this effect, and a favourite tactic of theirs is to pen intruders in the tunnel and wait until they are weakened before moving in for the kill.

Khaetos’ cavern home is a rounded sandy bowl some 40’ across, without a ceiling - it is in fact the floor of a 140’ tall chimney of rock, tapering to a very narrow slot, no more than 18” across at the top. It is thus dimly-lit during daylight hours. The floor of the cavern is just high enough to avoid the worst of the storm surges that occasionally sweep the rest of the isle, but it is still damp and unpleasant. The Sea-hag herself sleeps on a crudely-made bed of driftwood with a blanket of dried, loose-woven seaweed. She possesses little, but does retain trophies from her most precious victories, and these she treasures above all other things: a pair of minotaur horns, lovingly polished, sit in a rough hewn alcove above her bed, over which are draped a glass bead necklace. Beside these sit a pair of old, cracked spectacles and a one-armed porcelain doll. Although the minotaur horns have no special faculties, the other three items all possess minor magical power: the glass beads are lesser prayer beads which, when used by a Cleric or Priest of Good alignment seeking to prepare an Advanced spell, they lower by 1 the WIS check required to prepare the spell (effectively rendering the spell one level lower for the purposes of preparation only; this does not void the requirement to make a check in the first instance, even for first level spells). The lesser prayer beads can only be used to prepare one spell per day.

The spectacles belonged to Count Nilberth, a minor Khonoy nobleman who hoped to carve out some sort of island estate in the Malstedts, but never made it beyond the Isle of Horn (Hex 5): Khaetos and her Sea-Grymne attacked his ship upon his arrival, sinking it with nearly all hands lost. Count Nilberth, an Illusionist and antiquarian was captured and exquisitely tortured until, crazed with pain and horror, he was allowed to flee into the interior of the island, where he then fell afoul of the undead denizens of the ruined abbey, ultimately joining them. His now rather relaxed and philosophical shade remains in the ruins, having devoted himself - as is proper - to the preservation of the library there. Some of his hirelings and serfs survived and joined with the locals, strengthening their numbers against the undead monks and priests. Nilberth’s spectacles are enchanted with the ability to see invisible things, but only within 10’, and due to the damage they have suffered, have only a 1 in 6 chance of actually working on any given occasion. If worn too long, they will also ultimately give the wearer a headache, giving a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, mental skill checks (such as Lore or Alchemy) and spell preparation rolls. A Saving Throw must be made for every 10 minutes of continuous use, and the only way to ease the headache is to sleep it off.

Finally, the one-armed porcelain doll belonged to the (now-defunct) granddaughter of the  Witch of Arraskil (Hex 74 - much further north in the Archipelago). This aristocratic Witch was Khaetos’ first teacher - a cruel and vindictive individual, but far more powerful than Khaetos. When she ultimately rejected Khaetos as too weak and too vile (even for her), Khaetos took her vengeance by kidnapping and slaying the granddaughter. The doll, which was intended to serve as a disguised guardian to the granddaughter, is actually a polymorphed Ooze Mephit named Vekses. It has been locked in doll form ever since its arm was broken off by Khaetos. She keeps the arm hidden in the wreckage of the Hadmond’s Joy (see Hex 1), lashed to the remnants of the hull, and wrapped in seaweed. She continually taunts the unfortunate Vekses with promises of a returned arm and reminders of its failure to protect the deceased child. Should Vekses be reunited with his arm, he will be able to return to his normal form: after exacting any possible vengeance on Khaetos and her Grymne minions, he will leave, although - given his failure to protect the granddaughter - he is unlikely to return to his mistress.

Khaetos does, of course, retain a certain amount of treasure, although she values it more for use as a sweetener in her dealings with various pirate captains or their underlings - she is many things, but avaricious is not one of them. In a locked box under her bed, she holds, at any given time, between 200-500 gp worth of coins, gems and baubles (roll 1d4+1 and multiply by 100).

Khaetos is a servant of Zirakghir, a dark-hearted Kraken, whose great desire is to bring all the Volsturand Archipelago under its sway. Zirakghir dwells in the Bonedeeps (Hex 117) in the far north of the Archipelago, but is concerned even with such a seemingly minor area as the Malstedts. Khaetos - as probably befits the least of the Kraken’s lieutenants - is tasked with keeping the Malstedt Islands as poor, disunified, lawless and unappealing as possible, for Zirakghir realises that these sparsely populated islands are a potential stepping stone to power for prospective rivals, be they merchant princes from the Kanthéan mainland (Khonoy’s oligarchs most definitely favour a return to their ‘rightful inheritance’ in the Archipelago), or some other, less-foreseeable threat. The aim is to make sure that the Malstedts remain anything but a prize worth fighting for, until Zirakghir has consolidated power through proxies in the more desirable parts of the Archipelago.

The Sea-Hag accomplishes this end through some rather byzantine diplomacy with the various pirate captains who plague the region, using a policy of endlessly shifting and unstable alliances to keep any single pirate captain from gaining too great an ascendancy, whilst using them to keep external threats at bay. She pursues a variation of the same policy regarding raiders from Trukko - on occasion she will allow them to launch a successful raid (even going so far as to permit repeat successes) - but at other times, she and her Sea-Grymne attack them as soon as they appear, sometimes destroying them utterly, on other occasions settling for merely driving them off.

Her policy has, in general, succeeded, but she has created one lasting and significant enemy in the pirate captain Hadmond (see Hex 4). This cruel but clever brigand soon tired of Khaetos’ manipulations, and, thanks to his own fine seamanship and the skill of his astute aide, the Wizard Galmarn of Gnesse, has so far survived her efforts to remove him from her calculations. She is currently supporting the vile Grebbeth Grallord (Hex 12), ignoring Algot Stone-Eye (Hex 8) whilst providing encouragement and intelligence to the new ‘rising star’ of the Malstedt pirates, Birgamonte (Hex 11). She is uncertain in her approach to Khattriyuba (Hex 7), for she is convinced that his madness will severely limit any help he might give in furtherance of her Kraken overlord’s schemes. 

Khaetos, Sea-hag (Psionic, Giant templates) Type: Monster; Size: Large; HD: 5 (hp 19); AC: 14; Attacks: 2 claws (2d6); MV: 30’ (40’ swim); Save: 14 (MR 50%); INT: High; AL: CE; NA: 1; XP/CL: 1800/6; SP - detect magic, pyrotechnics, shield (1/day), empty mind, ESP, precognition, mind thrust (3/day); SA - revolting appearance (save or 2d6 STR damage), gaze 3/day.

The details of the remainder of the Isle - and more about the Sea-Grymne - will appear in the next post.

Thursday 20 July 2023

HoNK Rules! Character Building

 The following is a brief discussion of how characters are built in HoNK/ToNK. Character Classes are built using this system, as are 'classless' characters.

Character Building


Characters are built using Proficiency Points. Most of these points at first level are spent building the character Class but the character always has at least 10 free Proficiency Points to spend. You may not, however, ‘double up’ on any expenditures that your Class already grants


1 point of Proficiency can be spent gaining Proficiency in:

a weapon/attack style;

an armour type;

a shield;


3 points on a standard weapon group (such as light blades or medium hammers), or all shields, or an armour group*;


9 points on a full weapon group (all polearms, or all blades);


30 points for proficiency in all weapons;


8 points on all armours;


2-6 points for extra Vitality dice (2 for 1d6; 4=2d6; 6=3d6, 1 extra dice only if purchasing Vitality beyond 1st level):


5-15 points to gain a permanent bonus of 1-3 to a Specialty or a Skill (although there must be a limitation attached when applying a bonus to a Skill, see below). 5 points per point of bonus (e.g., 15 points for a permanent bonus of 3 - i.e., adding 3 to the target number - for Influence rolls, using the Specialty Haggle). If the bonus is conditional or limited (e.g., a bonus of 3 to Nature skill - Hunting, only in forests), the cost is reduced by 3 per point of bonus. This limitation must be significant, preventing the bonus from being applied in at least half of the likely situations. If a limitation is blatantly ridiculous or meaningless there is no discount.


4-8 points on a Magical Aptitude (access to a style of magic to a certain level);


6 points to increase a Skill Pool (this is known as a Boost) by 1 (once per Skill only);


9 points to purchase an extra Skill (Crafts cost 6 points; Vocations cost 8 points).


Characters gain 3 Proficiency Points per level above the first (these can be saved).


From 3rd level (Fighters, Gallants, Knights, Rangers, Berserkers, Paladins & Barbarians may do so at 2nd level) a character may spend 3 Proficiency Points (if they have them available) to gain a permanent +1 to all attacks with one weapon, combat maneuver or attack mode. Proficiency Points can be spent in this way no more than three times for a single weapon, combat maneuver or attack mode. This cost may be tripled to apply the +1 bonus to a standard weapon group. Proficiency points can only be spent in this way once for any standard weapon group, and cannot be spent this way for a full weapon group. Bonuses for standard weapon groups and individual weapons within that group do stack with each other.


 *Note that if you wish to buy proficiency in a weapon group, or armour group, or a Magical Aptitude, you must meet any prerequisites, such as having proficiency in at least one type of light armour before purchasing the chain armour group, or knowing Level 1 Witchcraft in order to learn level 2 Witchcraft


All characters begin with a Base Vitality score equivalent to their HT score plus 1d6.


There are 9 levels. Every second level (2, 4, 6 and 8), a character may attempt to increase an Attribute by 1. They must roll over the Attribute score on 1d20 to do so (they must exceed the number. Merely rolling equal is not enough). No Attribute may be boosted above 19 by this method.


Characters select their Class. This grants them a number of abilities: Skills, Proficiencies, Skill Boosts, Specialties, Weapon & Armour Proficiencies, Magical Access and access to a special Class-related Skill Pool.


Characters receive skills as per their Class. Each Skill has an associated pool of 4 points, which the character may apply on a 1-to-1 basis to increase the target number (or, in the case of Combat, add to the roll). This pool replenishes with rest, and increases by 1 every level (to a maximum of 13 or 15 for an Advanced Combat Pool).


Characters also begin play with 3 free Specialties (spent as preferred, such as a single +3, a +2 and a +1, or three +1 Specialties) over and above those they receive from their class. These are entirely the player’s choice, save for the fact that no limitations are permitted, and that Specialties already received due to Class cannot be improved (at level 1).


Characters may also purchase new skills from level 4, gaining a base pool of 3 points, which increases as normal (e.g., 3-point pool in a skill selected at 4rd level will increase to a maximum of 8, and so on).  There must be some sort of narrative justification for any skills chosen.


Advanced Combat (costs 18 points, pool = 8)

            Points may be spent in any way within a given round, and may be applied to any Attack roll, Active Defense, Initiative, any Combat Maneuvers, Wounding Strike checks.

Advanced Flexible Combat (costs 15 points, pool = 8)

            Points are allocated to either Offense or Defense each round. If nominating Offense, points may be applied to the Attack Roll, Initiative, Offensive Combat Maneuvers, Wounding Strike checks. If nominating Defense, points may be applied to Active Defense, Initiative, Defensive Combat Manuevers.

Simple Defensive Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points may be allocated to Initiative, Active Defense, Simple Defensive Maneuvers.

Simple Offensive Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points may be allocated to Initiative, Attack Rolls, Simple Offensive Maneuvers.

Simple Flexible Combat (costs 9 points, pool = 4)

            Points must be allocated to either Offense or Defense each round. If nominating Offense, points may be applied to the Attack Roll, Initiative, Simple Offensive Maneuvers. If nominating Defense, points may be applied to Active Defense, Initiative, Simple Defensive Manuevers.


You can only ever have access to one Combat Pool, although once you reach 3rd level, (2nd level if you are a Ranger, Berserker, Paladin or Barbarian) you can spend 9 points to upgrade any of the Simple Combat Pools to the Advanced Combat Pool or 6 points to upgrade to the Advanced Flexible Combat Pool, or 3 points to upgrade from Advanced Flexible Combat to Advanced Combat. If you bought a Boost for the previous Pool, this carries over to the Advanced Combat Pool, as do any level-related increases to that Pool.


Skills: (cost 9 points each unless otherwise specified)




Craft (costs 6 per Craft, pool = 3, no passive advancement)


















Vocation (costs 8 per Vocation, pool = 3, no passive advancement) 

Below is an example of a character class:


The Infernal Realms strive constantly to conquer and colonise the worlds of mortals, and the Diabolist is one of their mightiest servants, inserting themselves into all corners of civilization, and subverting or corrupting all that they find.


Skills: Arcana, Guile, Influence, Religion (cost: 36)

Boosts: Arcana, Guile, Influence (cost: 18)

Proficiencies: four light weapons (cost: 4)

Vitality Bonus: none

Specialties: +3 Demonology (15); +2 Diabolism (10); +1 Wizardry (5); +4 distributed between 2-4 Specialties in the Guile Skill (20); +1 Scholarship (5); +3 distributed between 2-3 Specialties in the Influence skill (15); +2 distributed between 1-2 Specialties in the Interaction skill (10).

Magical Access: Diabolism – Basic (cost: 8)

Free Points: 14

Class Talent: Fiendish Pool (10) Creates a 4-point pool (passive increase of 1 point/level, no boosts), that may be applied to any Spell casting, Countermagic, Conjury, Demonology, Diabolism or Insight check.

If the Fiendish Pool is full, all points may be expended to create a Demonfire Bolt, a ranged attack that does 1d6 Vitality damage per point in the Fiendish Pool, to a maximum of 6d6. The Bolt has range of 20’ (plus 5’ per point in the Fiendish Pool). A normal ranged Attack is required to strike with the Demonfire Bolt, and there is an attack bonus of +1 per point. Demonfire Bolt damage is magical and ‘unholy,’ and ignores ‘holy’ defenses, including Divine or Devotion Points applied to Active Defense. It cannot produce a Wounding Strike. If the damage dice roll produces 3 or more rolls of 6, the target must make a Magic Resistance check or have their alignment shifted by one factor towards that of the Diabolist (as per Conversion). Note that if the full Pool contains an odd number of points, the remaining point is nonetheless consumed by the Demonfire Bolt. If a Demonfire Bolt is used, the Pool is empty until replenished and cannot be recovered.

Fiendish Points can be used instead of Vitality points to power Diabolical spells.

The Fiendish Pool can be recovered by a normal Recovery check (Discipline), and replenishes once per day, assuming a period of full, undisturbed rest.

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