Runequest Thursday #85 - More Clanking Ruin Material!

Clint Staples

This is a continuation of last week's post on my prep for an upcoming foray by the Heroes of Brightwater to the Clanking Ruin. This post addresses some of the things that are not directly related to the ancient Machine City.

The magnificent merman art is by LDAustin.

Of course, the Machine City is on the island of Zistorela. So I wanted to have some stuff related to inhabitants of the sea around the island, specifically in the bay that is what remains of the old harbor of the Machine City. So I populated the old harbor with Merfolk and Sea Trolls. Both are part of Gloranthan lore but have received relatively little treatment. This is mine, and in no way official.


Today - The Merfolk:

The Merfolk, or Ludoch, as they are also called, are mammalian aquatic humanoids, generally hairless, with rather rounded minimal facial features and eyes slightly larger than those of men. Their human upper body is proportional to that of a largish person, but their fish-like tails are long and muscular, making them significantly larger than humans overall. Females are hardly the comely lasses of sailors' stories.They are of much the same size as males, but do have a more feminine form and female mammalian sexual traits.

Ludoch live in communities, generally in shallow seas, usually in or near coral beds or reefs, which they hunt and patrol in much the same way that humans would a nearby forest. When threatened, they are agile swimmers, often leaping out of the water to confuse pursuers. Sea trolls, sharks, carcharids and more count Ludoch as prey, but not easy prey.

Without metals, fire or mining, merfolk have learned to craft natural sub-marine materials. Coral is used for many of their material goods. Some Ludoch are masters of its crafting, and coral items of art are rare and sought after on land. Fish bones and scales, large squid or octopus  beaks, and the spines of stingrays all are used routinely. Spears, tridents and other thrusting weapons are preferred.

The Ludoch of the Bay are not hostile to humans or other land folk, though they generally are wary. Many Ludoch frequent the harbor markets of Anchor Home or the Rotunda, but will never be found near the troll waters in the west of the Bay.

As children of the Sea Court, Ludoch worship Magasta primarily, but also venerate others of his children. Some especially feral hunters worship Wachaza, and a few pay homage to the Annihila of the Blue Moon.

Merfolk reliance on the natural world has allowed them to become skilled merchemists, deriving magical effects from natural sea materials and ingredients. As explorers and adventurers began to infest the islands of the Bay, Merfolk learned that some of these merchemicals had considerable value among these desperate land folk. To exploit this demand, certain Merfolk have specialized as merchemists, and now provide a number of merchemicals specifically for the land market. One such is Air Gum.

Many Ludoch of the Bay speak at least a smattering of Sartarite or another human tongue spoken nearby.


Merchemical Items:

Air Gum

Small white ovoids about the size of a thumbnail. An alchemical chewable that lasts for 4 hours. It is chewed until soft, then it remains in the mouth, allowing one to breathe the air trapped within the gum for up to 4 hours. Cost: 50L


Healing Morsel

A morsel of coral pink flesh, wrapped in seaweed, sometimes with spicy fish roe or other condiment inside. When chewed, it tastes like the finest raw salmon. it heals 1 hit of damage per round over the course of the next 1d6 rounds. Cost: 100L


Ink Jar

A coral jar, often finely made and valuable of itself, containing the temporarily animated and concentrated ink of an octopus or squid. When the stopper is removed the ink shoots from the jar and fills a water area of up to 5 yards x 5 yards with obscuring black ink. Visual sighting and combat are very difficult within, through or into this area is at -40% to all checks for 1d10 Minutes (current or similar will disperse the ink in 1d10 rounds). Trolls and other creatures that do not rely on sight are less affected, but the ink still inhibits their abilities (-20%). 50L, +20L for the lovely coral jar.


Fish Poison Bulb

This coral bottle contains a simple paralytic poison merchemically animated to shoot from the bottle when unstoppered. It fills an area of 5 yards by 5 yards with a Pot 14 Paralytic poison cloud that any water-breathing creature must either Evade, or Resist. Failure means that the target creature's DEX, and swim speed, are reduced by 14 for 1d10 rounds. Creatures that have 0 DEX are completely paralyzed. The poison cloud disperses after a single round.


Weapons of the Merfolk:


A spear throwing device made somewhat like a slingshot with a steadying channel for the spear, and large fish tendons for tension bands. It is a two-handed weapon. Spearcasters shoot Spears (below),  but may shoot Tridents or Stingray Spears if available, with the listed damage and effects. Short range is 5 yards, and has a bonus of +20% to hit. Long range is up to 15 yards.

Weapon          Range             Damage          Reload                       Cost

Spearcaster    5/ 15              1d8+1               Move Action               100L


Stingray Spear

A spear with a head made from a stingray spine. It does 1d8 damage, but has Piercing 1 naturally, and injects poison if the attack penetrates armor, doing 1d6 damage, and inflicting a Potency 15 attack. On success, the target is incapacitated by agony for one round for each percentile point by which the attack succeeded. If all damage is healed, the agony immediately subsides. Stingray Spears are fragile, and break if they do damage of 6 or more. The breaking attack still damages the target, and may even impale on a special. Cost 50L

Sawfish Glaive

This is a pole weapon with a head comprised of an alchemically strengthened sawfish blade and the shaft made from hardened seaweed stalk. Whether because of its manufacture, or the nature of its components, the sawfish glaive can be used without any skill impediment underwater.

Weapon           Reach  Damage   Special                            Cost

Sawfish Glaive     4       1d8+3     Entangle, Slash, Impale   300L


Hooked Net

This fishing implement has long been turned to the craft of hunting and killing men and beasts. Merfolk have improved upon the basic design by adding many sharp hook carved from the beaks of large squid. On land, hooked nets can be thrown up to 5 Yards.

Weapon          Reach              Damage          Special            Cost

Hooked Net     3                     1d6+1              Entangle         300L



Next Week: Sea Trolls and Sea-Bugs!