Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour (Updated 29 Jan 2014)

Shemeska

Adventurer
That is awesome, congratulations!

And as if I wasn't already going to be hoarding everything to do with Wrath of the Righteous... is that the last thing you're doing for Paizo ever given the science job or is it just the last thing for now?

The last for now. Hopefully I freelance a lot more for them in the future! I adore the world they've built, and there are so very many parts of it I'd love to be able to contribute towards in the years to come. Especially more on their planes, double especially for anything to do with proteans/the Maelstrom, axiomites/Axis, the mentioned several times but yet to be fully detailed planar city of Galisemni, etc.

I've got two fey-related releases from Legendary Games coming out as well, with Faerie Passions that I co-wrote with Russ Taylor having just released today. Otherwise my slate is clear for the moment, except for an adventure I wrote to run at GenCon next month.

In fact, go politely demand that they sign me on for lots more stuff! shemmysmile.gif

I may have ended up making the time to start that bestiary blog. We'll see how long it lasts. If anyone's interested, you can find it here

Bookmarked :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

ianesta

Explorer
Hello, I've read like 100 pages over the last couple of days, haha. I'm loving this story it's great, nice one dude. I got to the point where they're at the Rakshasa's place on Carceri and noticed blood leaking under a door, after that it seems to be mostly blank posts? Is this just me or is it a fault with the forum or something else? Please help I need my fix :)
 

Voran Mith'aj

Explorer
Ianesta, if you like, there is a PDF version I put together here:

dl.dropbox.com/s/43dk2m7vn7cfvsn/shemeskas_psh.pdf

It's not fancy, and currently only covers updates through 7 Dec. 2012, but should get you around your issues.

Hello, I've read like 100 pages over the last couple of days, haha. I'm loving this story it's great, nice one dude. I got to the point where they're at the Rakshasa's place on Carceri and noticed blood leaking under a door, after that it seems to be mostly blank posts? Is this just me or is it a fault with the forum or something else? Please help I need my fix :)
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Not an update, but if anyone was interested, I recently wrote a short story involving Nisha (or at least the Pathfinder cosmology's iteration of her): Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

Two other finished pieces of fiction on the way as well, both planar, both set in the Pathfinder cosmology, but suitably Planescapey. Once they appear online I'll provide some links and details. And a third story in-progress.
 



Shemeska

Adventurer
****​


The ascent up the Crag’s ragged slope was a difficult one, compounded by the darkness and the harsh shadows cast by any artificial light sources. Additionally the winds were unpredictable, and that was the only real difficulty of note as Larill Moonshadow neared the end of her ascent. Wings aided in her climb, and her ability to see in the dark regardless of light removed the risk of any dangers hiding in patches of shadow. But still, making the trek alone was hardly the most pleasant experience.

“I swear,” The lillend softly cursed under her breath. “You academic sods could at least have waited for me. I appreciate the company, especially when you drag me out of a round of story-telling for a last trip up the Crag. Besides, you need me more than I need you in roughing it back up here. Could have been eaten by a nightwing for all I know by the time I even got halfway up.”

She frowned and rustled her wings. By preference she would have flown the entire way up the slope, turning an ascent of nearly an hour into one only a few minutes in duration. But no. That was out of the question. The ferocious and sudden winds that whipped about the Crag's flanks were like the paws of a mad, cornered howler swatting its claws at anything that came close.

Thus, the lillend slithered her way up towards the summit, moving amid the shadows of boulders and the black, yawning mouths of the caves that riddled the artificial mountain like worm tunnels in a rotten apple.

Nearly an hour earlier, Leobtav had messaged her through the telepathic link they’d shared earlier that day. The professor had cast that rather useful spell to avoid having to speak up and over the random, hellish outbursts of wind that struck without warning higher up the Crag. The duration was long enough to last into the evening, and even though they’d spent several hours in the cave working on the last sections of their translation, apparently they’d needed one last thing and it couldn’t wait till morning.

Professor? I’m at the cave mouth. Do you need anything from the rucksacks you left out here? The cave seemed particularly ominous as she stood there alone. She pulled her wings tight against her body, shivering in the wind and looking up with pronounced discomfort. The last times she'd always been there with a group, and in the absence of the comfort of camaraderie her eyes played tricks on her. The cave yawned wide like the maw of a buried, fossilized howler, jagged edges of rock like teeth, and the discarded rucksacks like the scraps left over from the beast's final meal.

Neither the Professor nor the two others with him replied. Mental static filled the air. Several minutes passed and no response came.

I know you’re busy and all, but do you need anything before I leave your things behind and slither a few hundred yards down to meet you?

Once again only silence answered the lillend’s mind in reply.

She frowned and looked at the bags scattered at the entrance. They’d left their log books and their lanterns. Something wasn’t right.

Leobtav. Answer me. Is everything all right? Allison? And...Reorik? Ronald? Rodrick? Whatever your name was? Are any of you three alright down there? Please answer me.

Larill’s eyes focused into the shifting gloom within the cave mouth. Something was there. Something was moving a dozen yards in, just behind a cluster of rocks.

Hell with this, I’m coming in.

Softly whispering a tune, the lillend’s scales glistened with a layer of protective force. A second tune waited at her lips, there to charm anything that might be lurking in the dark: something that she feared might have already taken the lives of the three she’d been called to meet.

"There shouldn't be anything else up here. We scoured the caves, we burned the bebeliths out of their lair." Her mind retreated from the idea that whatever killer had been at work was both one of their own as they'd feared, and had been here waiting for a less equipped, poorly defended group to arrive to murder at their own morose whimsy. "Selune look favorably upon me, even in the darkest hour of the darkest night."

Whispering her prayers under her breath, she made her way forward. She glanced at the walls, ceiling, and floor in turn. Nothing waited in ambush there, and the wind from outside still prevented her from discerning any noises from deeper in the cave itself. It would have been wiser to call for immediate help from back at the camp from the others, but time was of the essence if they needed immediate rescue, if indeed they weren’t already dead.

"Lady Moonlight, Warden of the Stair, protect this humble servitor as she... F*CK!!" Her voice trailed into a muffled, hissed curse as she came across the first corpse. One of the sages, a middle aged arcadian human named Allison Dallimore lay slumped against the wall. A trail of blood slowly trickled down her forehead from an almost invisible puncture wound.

“Oh gods help me.” The lillend whispered again as she looked at the corpse and saw her own reflection in the glazed over surface of the dead woman’s eyes. Then her ears perked at the faintest sound of movement and her eyes followed a moment after.

A second corpse lay spread-eagled in the middle of the passage. From her distance she couldn’t identify it, but she could clearly see that its head was missing. Smoke still coiled up from the ragged stump between its shoulders, and partially obscured by the smoke, something perched on the limp form. “Ficklebarb?”

The tiny familiar looked up, ashen and pale. The pseudodragon's scales had lost their ruddy luster. He was gaunt and he seemed to have lost considerable weight. His wings dragged behind him on the corpse, and he was barely able to crane his neck up in Larill’s direction. Tears welled up in his sunken, rheumy eyes as he saw the lillend approach.

“No…” He whimpered.

“Hush poor thing. I’m here.” Larill glanced down the passage, looking for another corpse to complete the trio or whatever had killed them. “Ficklebarb, it’s going to be all right.”

“No!” The pseudodragon croaked, coughing up blood. “It won’t be alright. Run! Run!”

Soft, practiced footsteps approached and the lillend looked up. Her eyes widened and a question formed in her mind, framing her killer's face like a painting hung in the museum of her last thoughts. Those thoughts died, just like her a moment later when the darkness that swathed the cave’s depths solidified and drove into her body like a hundred, bitterly cold, dagger-like teeth.


****​


Fyrehowl’s eyes continued to dance over the crowd, looking and hoping that her count had been off. In fact it had. Not only were they missing the Priest of Thoth, the shadowdancer, the expedition’s leader, and the lillend, they were short two other expedition members as well. She recalled the two for no other reason than that they’d spent most of the day up at the Crag along with Leobtav and Larill.

Clued in by the crowd’s speculation, Clueless glanced out over the crowd as well, doing his own count. “Has anyone seen Frollis?”

“I just saw him.” Toras shouted back from across the crowd.

The bladesinger scowled, “Well he isn’t here now.”

“I saw him just now. He was walking off, back towards the Crag.” One of the expedition members called back.


****​


Meanwhile, off to the side, Doran, Tristol and Nisha discussed their current predicament among themselves, trying to avoid letting the crowd become aware of its severity.

"Magic seems to be working normally otherwise." Tristol gestured with his hands and briefly conjured a sphere of blue-white light. It shimmered and drifted for several seconds without interruption before flickering out and vanishing with a subtle twitch of the aasimar's tail. "That worked fine and so have all of my other spells that weren't already altered by proximity to the Crag. It's just that now we can't case anything involving transportation."

"What about natural portals?" Doran asked, casting a brief string of lower sphere spells just to test if his own magic would otherwise function as smoothly as it should, sans the obvious and inexplicable restrictions.

"There haven't been any portals in the immediate vicinity except for the one leading down to Agathion, and well, that's a worse situation to be sure." Tristol shuddered, remembering how Clueless had described the creature. With any luck they'd never come across it or any of its wind-maddened ilk again. "But as for any others, those might be sealed off as well to be perfectly honest."

"Gods above I should hope not." Doran grimaced at the implication.

Nisha glanced at both wizards, "So what exactly is doing this?"

The elf shrugged, "I wish I could say. Looking at magic auras in the area there's nothing obvious that I can point to. But it..."

Tristol finished Doran's sentence with a disbelieving shake and a shrug, "It looks wrong."

Doran nodded, "Tristol knows what I'm talking about. He's seen it too."

"Care to explain it to me the not-exactly-an-archmage-yet?" Nisha brushed her hair back and tapped her right index finger on the tip of a horn.

"There's something there but it's saturated into everything." Tristol explained, gesturing to the shadows blanketing everything outside of the immediate circle of lights. "It's there casting a shadow over the landscape without presenting anything discrete that you can point to, pick out, and unravel. It's absolutely brilliant whatever it is."

Nisha stuck out her tongue, "We can publish something on their brilliant technique once we get out. It creeps me out. Seriously."

"We can't apparently do anything about it directly, but in the absence of our knowing how it's being done, that still leaves open a number of possibilities." Doran reasoned, "It's possible that it's just on the immediate area, or on the other hand it's on whoever cast it, radiating from them. Given that they've been preying on our people, I'm inclined to suggest that it's the latter. It would follow them wherever they go if they're hunting."

"Then we find them and kill them." Nisha stamped a hoof into the ground, sending a scatter of pebbles flying. "We sneak up, we put a blade between their ribs, and we're free to leave. I'd say that's a pretty direct way of doing something about it."

Doran and Tristol both glanced at her, each of them mildly frowning.

"Yeah yeah, except for the fact that we don't have a clue who they are..." Nisha sighed and glanced towards Clueless and several of the others who appeared to be in the midst of their own animated discussion. Fingers were being pointed and names were being spouted of people who come to think of it weren't anywhere to be seen. "Ok, different approach. So assuming that the person doing this doesn't appear in a burst of fire and brimstone or break out into a melodramatic cackle when we express our despair, what about ways of leaving that don't involve planeshifting?"

Doran shook his head and smiled half-heartedly, "Oh if I was gifted enough to cast Gate we wouldn't have had half of the problem's we're having. Back to your not-quite-an-archmage statement, that applies to all of us."

"Aspirations notwithstanding yeah." Tristol paused and eyed the tiefling as she fiddled with something at her waist. "You've got something weird don't you?"

Nisha grinned and rattled the silver bell at the tip of her tail, "I've always got something weird."

Doran glanced at them both, "I'm missing something here."

"A tail." Nisha blurted out. "You're the only one of us three without a tail. But that's ok, you're still a good person."

Doran squinted at the complete non sequiter and Tristol chuckled. "What's the weird thing you might or might not have dealing with planeshifting?"

"Bebelith eyes!"

"Bebelith eyes?"

"Yep! Bebelith eyes!"

"What about bebelith eyes?"

"You don't know that trick?"

"What trick?"

"The trick with bebelith eyes."

Doran squeezed his eyes shut for a moment once more, breathed in deeply and refocused. "How will bebelith eyes help us?"

"They're really handy!" Nisha excitedly explained. "You swallow one whole and if you don't vomit and manage to keep it down, you'll slide up or down a layer of a plane. Depends on which you focus on."

"I don't think that's true..." Doran gave her a sidelong glance as she made various pantomimes of plucking out, popping into her mouth, swishing it around, and finally swallowing a phantom bebelith eye.

"No no, I've done it before." Nisha insisted. "It was really useful this one time in Pluton."

Tristol watched as she pantomimed some more before he spoke, trying to preempt any further physical illustrations of the process, "You know the pushing your tongue against your cheek to make it look like you had one in there really wasn't necessary."

"Nothing's ever necessary." Nisha ruffled Tristol's hair. "But it was fun and that's what matters most of the time."

Tristol shot her an absolutely disgusted look as he smoothed his hair back into place, "Please tell me that your swishing around a bebelith eye like a piece of rock candy wasn't anytime close to when I've kissed you."

She grinned and didn't answer the question, drawing out a pronounced pause before winking, shaking her head in the negative with a soft giggle, and drawing a bottle of apparently fresh bebelith eyes out of a bag of holding at her waist where'd she'd previously been fiddling with its cinching. "And this is why having the Crag colonized by bebeliths was so incredibly fortuitous."

"How many of those do you have?" Doran tried to do a mental tally of the crudely extracted iridescent spheres.

Completely ignoring Highsilver, Nisha was making faces again, causing Tristol to squirm at the thought of swallowing an eyeball anywhere from the size of a marble to a nectarine. Through it, she remained completely oblivious to two more repetitions of Doran's question.

"I said," Doran raised his voice and neared being ready to grab hold of her ever-flicking tail, "Assuming they work, how many of those do you have?"

"Huh?" Nisha looked up after staring at and making faces at the jar of eyes in her hands. "Oh! All of them!"

"All of them?" Doran shook his head in disbelief. "Did you go through and pluck out every single eye from the bebeliths before we burned the corpses?"

"That I did!" Nisha pointed at the bag of holding and grinned. "I got some weird looks though when I did it. I think I told one of the cartographers that I was planning on eating them in a stew because I was part tanar'ri," She paused and pinched two fingers together. "-A teeny tiny bit tanar'ri at least and who knows what else-, and that it was revenge for their preying on my ancestors. Or something like that. I was being whimsical. Come to think of it though, nobody in that cave wanted to go near me ever since. Whoops."

Doran stared at the bottle of eyes before turning his head, "Let's use that as a last resort."

"That's probably for the best." Tristol mused. "But, having said that, I'm in favor of trying to find a natural portal to somewhere else, really more or less anywhere else that isn't going to kill us by its very nature. It might take a few days of wandering, but we've got enough planars with us that I think we could do well in spotting any possible way out."

Doran raised an eyebrow, "And if the portals are all sealed?"

"Well? Well then we go with Nisha's idea."

Both Tristol and Doran turned to look at the Xaositect who at present was looking neither at them or anyone else, but talking to herself and looking every which way, shuffling about on her hooves, kicking some pebbles, and looking more like an introspective child who got caught with a hand in a jar of sweets than anything else.

"Maybe I went a bit too far on that joke." The tiefling fussed at herself. "They probably think I'm evil now, or something like that. Ewww." At that point she began chiding herself in Xaosspeak, and except for a hug from Tristol, was almost entirely ignored by everyone in earshot. This was probably for the best.


****​


While Doran, Tristol, and Nisha discussed their own problems -and their peculiarities- out of earshot, Fyrehowl, Toras, and Clueless canvassed the crowd trying to figure out what the hell was going on and where certain persons had gone. It didn’t take long to figure out that Frollis had bolted around the time that the attempts to planeshift out had failed. They also mentioned that he’d been carrying something, some sort of package, in his hand.

Feeling that his earlier suspicions had been correct, Clueless drew Razor and stalked off into the howling gloom. “Gotcha you son of a b*tch.”


***​


The darkness hung heavy over the eastern flank of Howler's Crag, the same as it always had been and likely always would. But where light did not shine, Wisdom did. Settys crouched in the deepest of shadows and stared at a solitary figure hunched over, perched in the split between two boulders. He'd come here to hide, slinking away as he had before multiple times in the past few days when death had come for members of the expedition. There was no question of his guilt.

Settys watched him, holding his breath until he saw the man move, letting the guilty one's subtle noise hide the signs of his hunter's presence. There he was: the man who had preyed upon his fellows like a mad dog snapping at his pack mates and master alike, its mind ravaged by poison or disease. Frollis Terpense was guilty, and even now he shuddered and his hands shook, fumbling with something as justice crept ever closer.

"Why do I keep doing this?" The shadowdancer mumbled, once again fidgeting with the object in his hands, something just out of Settys's view. "I shouldn't. I shouldn't. I shouldn't... but I can't stop."

Settys drew closer, carefully moving now to within a dozen feet. His khopesh was drawn and at the ready, raised and keen to act with judgment against a pitiable monster of a man. For the first time in months, he whispered a soft prayer to the Ibis-headed god of knowledge, though whether out of long-lapsed habit or out of honest desire, he could not say, his faith had long ago withered and died, though for the sake of others he had feigned that nothing had changed.

Perched atop the rocks, Frollis rocked back and forth, softly whispering to himself and trembling. "But it makes me feel safe. You make everything ok again. I don't have to worry. I don't have to feel guilty. I can feel guilty later. I love you. I love you so very much."

Settys scowled. Thoth might no longer answer his prayers, but even in the absence of his former divine patron's guidance, he was still a good judge of darkness and trouble in mens’ hearts. The shadowdancer had always had loss and pain lurking behind his eyes, and even though he'd known him for less than a month, he knew that whatever haunted him had finally caused him to snap.

Five steps away now. The khopesh would have gleamed if the fallen-cleric had not suppressed its magical radiance. Four steps now and Settys tensed, ready to leap forward, ready to strike a killing blow, ready to end this madness.

Three steps.

Two steps.

One step.


****​
 

81Dagon

Explorer
In progress, along with a bunch of other things (both products and stories).

Also, I got married last week. View attachment 59483

I've been a busy busy 'loth
That's awesome Todd, congratulations! Baby loths next? ;)

Awesome update as usual. You've really got me on the edge of the seat right now, it will be interesting to see how things play out. I also wanted to pop in to let you know that I just made a post in the Planescape Bestiary that was directly inspired by the Storyhour, if you or the players are interested in seeing it. Here's wishing the best and hoping that you'll be just much of a beacon to your new family as you have been to the fantasy community.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
That's awesome Todd, congratulations! Baby loths next? ;)

Not going to happen. The world doesn't need more of my influence darkening the hearts of humanity. Or something like that. ;)

Awesome update as usual. You've really got me on the edge of the seat right now, it will be interesting to see how things play out. I also wanted to pop in to let you know that I just made a post in the Planescape Bestiary that was directly inspired by the Storyhour, if you or the players are interested in seeing it. Here's wishing the best and hoping that you'll be just much of a beacon to your new family as you have been to the fantasy community.

I'm absolutely flattered! Also let me state that I follow your Planescape Bestiary (originally linked there by the Daily Bestiary blog).

Thing is, I'm not sure that I can claim any credit for that idea that inspired you. It has been a number of years, but I think Skalliska's player actually came up with most of her backstory. I might have in turn inspired them by the appearance of some illithids in my game or talking the concept over with them, but I truly can't remember the specifics and so I can't really take any credit for it since I'm not sure I had any role in its genesis. :)

Then as it happened, my second Planescape campaign was all full of illithids, psurlons, Far Realms critters, and Gith's petitioner. Went overboard on the psionics in that one.

And totally random here now, but I'm running a planar Pathfinder game now, and it's so totally a love letter to Planescape.
 

81Dagon

Explorer
I'm absolutely flattered! Also let me state that I follow your Planescape Bestiary (originally linked there by the Daily Bestiary blog).

Thing is, I'm not sure that I can claim any credit for that idea that inspired you. It has been a number of years, but I think Skalliska's player actually came up with most of her backstory. I might have in turn inspired them by the appearance of some illithids in my game or talking the concept over with them, but I truly can't remember the specifics and so I can't really take any credit for it since I'm not sure I had any role in its genesis. :)

Then as it happened, my second Planescape campaign was all full of illithids, psurlons, Far Realms critters, and Gith's petitioner. Went overboard on the psionics in that one.

And totally random here now, but I'm running a planar Pathfinder game now, and it's so totally a love letter to Planescape.
Awesome! Well, the Storyhour is what inspired me, so even if the idea's genesis didn't come from you, the way you told it gave me my own ideas. :) If I ever get a chance to actually run a Planescape game again, its a fair bet that Far Realm-y things, Aberrations, Outer Gods and Great Old Ones are going to show up a lot.

I'm more than happy to edit Skal's player into that post too, I just don't remember if he/she ever posted here.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top