Thursday 14 March 2013

Mother Hippolita

The following material was recently submitted to Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque contest

Chapter XXII: Strange Incidents Amidst the Broken Ossuary

At last they had arrived.  A compact stone vault with a heavy portal marked the entrance to the Mircea Family Mausoleum. The main body of the structure could be seen stretching out into the dark, protruding but a couple feet from the ground, like the hulk of some great reptile sprawled out across these funereal grounds.  In places the roof had collapsed, its slow but definitive decay mirroring that of its occupants' line. After a minute's work with the heavy prybar, Ludovico had the door open and the lantern lit.

The portal quickly swallowed the thin form of Count Mircea as he descended the stairs into the main body of the mausoleum, leaving his servant to await his return.  He soon found himself treading a path between the silent biers, working his way back further and further amidst his family's generations.  His father had not been buried here.  He had been an optimist, hoping to overcome the family's lot through pure will of character.  Well, for all his energetic enthusiasm, the inauguration of the new family burial plot had been the only change to leave any lasting mark.  The young Count was much more the pragmatist than his father.  You cannot change where you come from--best to reconcile yourself to it.  But then that's why he was here now, wasn't it?  Pragmatism.

Passing under a pointed archway, Count Mircea found himself staring down into the final vault of the mausoleum, into the Ossuary where the oldest of his ancestors lay.  The descending stair was in a bad way, and one side of the room had collapsed, but the center of the room was untouched, and there she sat.  Like the lich of some predatory bird, perched on a throne of granite, surrounded by the bones of her husbands and sons.  Countess Hippolita Mircea.  The Woman, or so she was called, who had both made and doomed the line of Mircea.

Making his way down proudly into the chamber, the young Count looked up at his family Matriarch.  Despite the great decay, this shrunken mummy didn't quite look right.  The Count had learned basic anatomy at the Academy--her bone structure, it wasn't exactly...Human.  As he surveyed her, the corpse's empty eye sockets seemed to stare back at her issue with a malignant evil that the grave could not quench.

"Countess!" he began with a tone of command.

"You no doubt know why I, Count Jander Mircea, am here and what information I need from you.  As your heir, you certainly would like to see my interests furthered.  Therefore I request that you activate your renowned ability as a provider of otherwise unattainable information."


The Count began again "Countess Hippolita, you are reputed among the superstition peasants for your ability to reveal the Unknown, from beyond the grave, to those who seek you out.  The tales are as abundant as they are fanciful, such that I cannot help but take them seriously enough to appear here and appeal for your help."

More silence.  The Count looked again at the parched skin, tight against the skull of the lich, its expression almost mocking--No. Definitely mocking.  She was mocking him!  Her own flesh and blood and she would leave him helpless in the clutches of those vicious mongrels!

"Mother Hippolita!" He ejaculated, addressing her by the name by which her household had known her when she was still alive, his voice cracking with desperation.  "I beseech you!" he cried, falling to his knees.  "I'd do anything, give anything, to know who..."

He stopped.  Had her expression changed?  To one of smug victory?  On an impulse, he reached into his pocket and pulled out...a ticket stub...for the train to Liverpool...dated November 3rd.  Reading it, the color returned to his face.  "Of course. It must be Fredrick!  I should have squelched that insolent whelp when he was but a puppy!"

Then his face paled again.  His Right hand--it was changing before his eyes!  What was happening?  Oh no!  Anything but that!

The Count awoke lying on the cold stone floor of the ossuary.  After a minute's groping he managed to find his overturned lantern and light it.  Glancing at his hand, or what had taken its place, he turned, looking up in both horror and gratitude at the grinning visage of the Countess.  Her skin was dry, but not quite as parched as before, and her teeth shone like the polished ivory crown a Sorcerer-King from distant Stygia.

Mother Hippolita

Mother Hippolita's withered corpse sits in her Ancestral Tomb.  It is known for its ability to reveal secrets to those who beseech it.  The revealing can be quite cryptic in its own right, as the Mummy never talks or moves.  Nevertheless, Mother Hippolita's secrets come with a price, and those who receive her aid are inevitably stricken with some unnatural malady or affliction.  As such, it is only the most desperate or most foolish who seek her advice.

If she is not treated with proper reverence, the Curse will be given without the help.

Turned as Lich, though she still cannot move or speak.  Only permanently harmed by Magic Weapons.

Random Clue Form Generator

The DM should come up with a clue in the form determined by this table.  This can demand some creativity on the DM's part.
  1. Diary Entry/Book/Scroll
  2. Telegram/Letter
  3. Business Card/Newspaper article/Advertisement
  4. Ticket Stub/Event Program/Playbill
  5. Riddle appearing in the air in glowing letters
  6. Map
  7. Photograph/Painting
  8. Sketch
  9. Statue
  10. Coin
  11. Key
  12. Article of clothing
  13. Body/Body-Part
  14. Message in Bodily fluid
  15. Familiar Smell
  16. Dead animal
  17. Disembodied Skull speaking in foreign language
  18. Disembodied whisper directly in character's ear
  19. Vision/Hallucination
  20. 1d6 minutes of Time-Travel as disembodied spirit

Random Malady Generator

  1. Mutant: Random limb mutation 1d6 to determine which
  2. Not So Special Now- Prime Requisite reduced by 1d6
  3. Blank Slate: all skills forgotten except for 1 language chosen randomly
  4. Unlucky: -1 to all skill checks/ability checks/luck checks
  5. Unlucky Partner: 10' aura effect of Curse
  6. Aura of the Grave: Smell of Cadaver follows him around perpetually
  7. Energy Drained: Total HP is reduced to 1HP per HD
  8. Rotting Sickness: Body is perpetually covered in leprous sores(-4 CHR, -3 CON, -2 STR)
  9. Lost Soul: all of character's acquaintances don't remember him, relate to him as a total stranger
  10. Not the Man I Used to Know- swap highest ability score with lowest, 2nd highest with 2nd lowest, etc. 

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