Monday, June 19, 2017

Lightning and the Thunder

The moment before their arrival lingers, heavy with a faint musk of fresh rain off concrete, that elemental smell so peculiar to the city. The ozone in this instant almost condenses on the tongue, an acrid taste, alien yet reminiscent of vomit.

I've only seen a red liminal twice during thunderstorms
And then, a Brobdingnagian boom resounds throughout your body and soul, shaking you down to the toes and up to the hair. Your eardrums have probably burst by this point, which would have happened soon anyway. The pain is sudden and dazing, another crimson pall cast over your vision in addition to the cerise light spilling over the horizon, painting everything the eerie color of almost-blood. 


The pavement or cobbles will rattle again as two figures descend from the rooftops. Both of them wear heavy metal masks wreathed with jagged smiles. The one behind you is grotesque, their arms, legs, and torso contorted by a series of metal spikes driven into their body, with a clear yellowish substance seeping from the swollen wounds. The muscles on this person are exquisitely defined, with every slight shift in position rippling a river of tendons. These spikes, connected to tubes, run all over this person like acupuncture gone amok. The tubes are bound to a thin leather backing which accentuates the hyperinflated musculature but fails to completely cover the bulging meat. 

Like this but all over with turkey-baster size needles and piping connecting the needles
This person wields two big hammers. If you get too caught up in the verismilitude of their body, they will sidle to the side and smile before slamming their hammers together in a fraction of a second, blasting you onto the lance of the one waiting behind you, where you will dance with the lightning. 

This is the Thunder. 

Lightning is completely plated in sooty metal armor. Nothing can be seen of the person underneath except a small, shaded slit through which two eyes ostensibly peer. They wield a long, shiny lance that catches the reddish illumination, draping the lance in blood. This lance conducts electricity well enough to act as a lightning rod. As the clouds above rumble and begin to pour down rain, Lightning will salute you with their lance, raising it upwards. The last thing you see will be a blinding flash as lightning is collected and redirected to your body. If you survive this, which many do, then the hammers of the Thunder will generally end your head's condition as a solid. 

This is a lance rest and the picture works with 3-D glasses
Lightning also proves to be incredibly quick with a lance in close quarters, much to the surprise of several lightly armored victims. More than one person has been found with a glazed look of shock and a mildly charred hole in their chest, right where the heart used to be. 

All victims have lightning scars seared into their face.

damn
The tales of survivors are all extremely varied accounts, remarkable for their depth and difference. No two people report Lightning and the Thunder the same way, and many of them die before getting to finish the story. Lightning and the Thunder like to finish the job. 

Why, then, is there this fundamental disagreement between those who lived through the storm? Is anyone right? Who are Lightning and the Thunder?

All the varied accounts, from eyewitnesses (of which there are few) and survivors (of which there are even fewer) hint at a larger, more terrifying truth. 

The only constant is the armor. It does not matter who dons it. 

So, I present to you two powerful suits of armor that your players will clamor for. Please neglect to inform them of the extremely nasty side effects. 

Lightning (plate, elemental, purposeful)
AC 20 (+2 plate) Damage Threshold (DT) 20 non-AoE
Prerequisites: Living Medium size creature. No Strength requirement.
Stormkissed: Any creature that has worn this armor for an hour and let the magic percolate through them gains immunity to lightning damage, thunder damage, and the blinded and deafened conditions.
Winged Feet: Any creature that dons this armor gains a bonus to their Dex score equal to their Con score divided by 2, rounded down, and +10 to their movement speed as long as they wear the armor. This bonus cannot exceed whatever your maximum ability score cap is. This creature also gains the ability to use feather fall at will.
Flash of Fury: Any creature that dons this armor gains a bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls equal to their Con score divided by 3, rounded down. Their hit point maximum also increases by an number equal to twice their Con score for as long as they wear the armor.
Spellcasting: The wearer of this armor can cast call lightning, lightning bolt, thunderwave as a 3th level spell, fog cloud as a 3rd level spell at will.
(Note to DM's: The spells can be freely cast 2 times each. Any additional castings beyond 2 will first drain 1 HD (permanently) per casting, and then one Con point per casting. If a casting subtracts any Con, the wearer treats their Con as the number it was before it was drained until they remove their armor. If their Con would drop to 0 or below, they die after 2 rounds. If their Con is less than it was, they have to make a Con save (using the new, shitty modifier) with disadvantage. If they succeed, their Con score returns to what it was. Otherwise, they keep it.)
Stored Charge: Once per round, if the wearer of this armor is hit by a lightning bolt or an attack that deals lightning damage, they may opt to store the energy within them. Roll damage normally, and record the result. For every 4 lightning damage the wearer would otherwise take, the wearer gains the ability to cast lightning bolt when they hit with a melee attack. (This casting does drain Con.)
Master's Command: When a creature dons this armor, it must make a very difficult Cha save or fall under the mental influence of Yshaak, Yuan-Ti Lord of Machines and Suppurations. Yshaak can telepathically communicate with them and use dominate person on them (with no save) as long as they are on the same plane. In addition, Yshaak can cast dream on them 1/week. At any time, Yshaak can forcibly unattune the armor from the player. Unwilling players get one Cha save against this (save DC very difficult) and if they succeed, Yshaak cannot force them to unattune. (He can, however, remove certain enchantments on the armor that help it function.) If the player if forcibly unattuned, treat it as if they had removed the armor, and proceed as necessary

Thunder (studded leather, elemental, purposeful)
AC 15 (+3 studded leather, lets you add your full Dex modifier) Damage Threshold (DT) 15 non AoE
Prerequisites: Living Medium size creature.
Stormkissed: As above.
Brute Feet: Any creature that dons this armor gains a bonus to their Str score equal to their Con score divided by 2, rounded down, and +10 to their movement speed as long as they wear the armor. This bonus cannot exceed whatever your maximum ability score cap is. This creature also gains the ability to use feather fall at will.
Flash of Fury: As above.
Spellcasting: The wearer of this armor can cast haste, freedom of movement, thunderwave as a 3rd level spell, shatter as a 4th level spell, thunderous smite as a 3rd level spell, and thunderclap (treat it as a fireball that deals thunder damage) as a 4th level spell.
Stored Charge: Once per round, if the wearer of this armor is hit by a thunderclap or an attack that deals thunder damage, they may opt to store the energy within them. Roll damage normally, and record the result. For every 4 thunder damage the wearer would otherwise take, the wearer gains the ability to cast thunderclap (centered on them) when they hit with a melee attack. (This casting does drain Con.)
Master's Command: As above.

Commentary

Obviously, anybody wanting an assassin just has to contact Yshaak through one of his many feelers and feeder agents. 

Secret Agents of Yshaak (1d6):
1. It is a wild white rose growing between two cobbles in the center of the street, placed so that carriages will not clip its top nor horses tamp it down. If you bend down enough and look, the center is a milky greenish-white, and the thorns drip yellow poison. It can only be whispered into. 
2. A gutter through which no rain will ever flow. Tap out your message in the dot-code of the ancients, and your call will be answered.
3. A garden snake with a white stripe running down the center of its back. Its fangs are not filled with venom but rather a paste that casts speak with animals upon you. It has three fangs and a baby's tongue, small and pink.
4. The tavern drunk. His mind is weak to influence by things, or maybe he just drinks to drive the voices away. For whatever reason, he never lacks coin to buy a drink, and he never remembers what he mutters in the voices of the other.
5. Any wall that has been whitewashed within the last 24 hours. When you speak into it, the surface becomes spongy, and a greenish ooze collects at the bottom of the wall. Even stone. Even adamant.
6. Any scar that came from a giant snake or stinstergris, mutant snake of the city. Prick it with a needle so the blood flows, and place a drop of venom upon it, and you may talk into it like a speaker.
In every city, inside a small, dusty room, sits a human, covered with a mass of snakebites, with blood dripping off of them like sweat and jars of venom surrounding. Each bite is keyed to a specific snake lord.

So, Yshaak's minions will just collect a random person (preferably an adventurer down on their luck) off the street, pay them a cursory sum, and fit them in the armor. Yshaak will whisper into their ears, and the armor will go hunting.

Later, the corpse will be tossed in a river after the gold is recovered, or fed to snakes.

Use this on a desperate NPC the PC's know, or let the armor slip into the PC's hands, starting off a frenetic subquest to rid them of the walking tomb their friend now resides in, as their friend slips into insanity fueled by dreams of snakes, incense, and blank white sheets concealing pustulating sores and insidious drips.

The symbol of Yshaak is a slight curve. It is the shape of a cloth draped over a stiletto.