Vance Adventure #1: Heathen Wheel

I’m planning to write a series of Jack Vance DnD Adventures, inspired by Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel’s Saga. I may explain further later, but nutshell: The Players need to get from one place to the other, and there’s something in their way. Here’s number 1.

Razor Forest is visible ahead, with a giant wheel sticking out of the tree-line a day’s journey in.

At night in the forest, the PC’s are attacked by 2d4 RAZORDOGS. Wolves with rusty razors for teeth and organs laced with metal. Any PC who takes a good gnawing from one will catch Razor Disease.¬†Drinking Holy Water will cure it, making them vomit up five meters of Razorwire. If left uncured:

Day 1: Painful guts. Day 2: Take 1 damage and vomit after eating food. PC begins to crave metal, which they can eat. Day 3: Teeth bleed. Wounds reveal shining flesh beneath skin. Midnight, Day 4: PC becomes a Razordog.

When most of the Razordogs are killed the rest will retreat and howl for help from the main pack of 3D10 dogs. The dogs can be evaded by carefully covering tracks, or by escaping to:Inline images 2

THE VILLAGE. A giant Ferris Wheel with a golden bird-god idol on the front looms over it. The village is currently in the middle of a big religious festival, thronged with worshippers and surrounded by fence strewn with charms. The fence may be jumped or bridged, but touching it will destroy anyone inflicted with Razor Disease (Reflex save or die (Give them fair warning)). Anyone with Read Magic can learn the charms in d4 hours and write them down to ward against Razordogs.

The single gate is guarded by the High Priest, who will welcome the party as fellow worshippers of the all-mighty BUNGUMBLEWITZ, ruler of the globe. None of the PC’s have ever heard of him. The High Priest knows that they must be joking, of course, and will usher them in to take them on a tour of the festival, starting with the Heretic Wheel.

“You wouldn’t believe the heretics out tonight! Why, just an hour ago I saw a man who could not perform the seven-fold handshake of Bungumblewitz when asked!” the priest chortles,¬†extending his hand.

Any of the following actions will be viewed as the vilest Heresy:

-Ignorance of any of the thousand-and-one commandments of Bungumblewitz

-Refusing the advances of the Virgins of Bungumblewitz

-Failing to perform the sacred post-coital dance after coupling with a Virgin of Bungumblewitz

-Publicly revealing your belly-button (or “Devil nipple”)

-Anything weird/funny you can come up with on the fly.

Confirmed Heretics will be mobbed by 2D10 worshippers and tied into a carriage on the rotating HERETIC WHEEL. It’s a Ferris wheel with a golden idol of Bongumblewitz on the front, controlled by a nearby panel. When a carriage reaches it’s zenith, the top is mechanically pulled open so that the unbelievers inside may be grabbed and savaged by:

3D4 HARPIES, AC 12, HP d4, STR 8. They’ll work together to grab PC’s out of the carriage and then drop them to smash at the feet of Bungumblewitz.

If any heretics manage to escape the Harpies or otherwise defy Bungumblewitz on this sacred festival, the great golden idol of Bungumblewitz will come to life and tear away from the Heretic Wheel to savage all before him.

The idol is slow and will focus on generally rampaging rather than attacking the PC’s specifically unless they piss it off. Normal damage will only dent it, and it can crush buildings. It’s made of gold alloy, and could possibly be melted with great heat. If it falls over it will have great trouble rising.

The Heretic wheel is secured by fragile bonds: if the center pole is damaged by Bungumblewitz’s awakening or anything else, the wheel will fall down, wobble for a moment, then gather speed and roll over the fence, through the forest, and finally into the nearby River of Woe, taking along anyone inside it. Anyone tied into the carriage or wearing heavy armour will have to make a dexterity check or get help to avoid drowning. The carriages can be detached and used as primitive boats.

Possible festival attractions:

-Young worshippers put on flying contraptions and use them to fly as far as possible across a tar pit. Those who fly the farthest are the most blessed in the eyes of Bongumblewitz. All of them suffocate and die in the tar on landing, of course. Some say a true prophet will someday reach the other side of the pit.

-Sideshows asks punters to throw a paper plane through the eye of Bungomblewitz. Golden idols are offered as prizes.

-Sick and ailing worshippers may bid for the limbs of condemned heretics. If the harpies devour that limb, your illness will be cured.

APPENDIX N: “The Sourceror Pharesm”, in Jack Vance’s “Eyes of the Overworld”. The protagonist is sent back in time and almost sacrificed for violating the principles of a religion he knows nothing about.

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About Jack McNamee

In the third year of a game design course in Queensland, Australia. Thinking a whole lot about games. Scrabbling desperately against the oncoming future.
This entry was posted in Dungeon Master Adventures, Vance Adventures. Bookmark the permalink.

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