A Sinner's Last Testament

J Harper

Cosmic Mongoose
Here's something the players in my game will be receiving. I just wanted to share with someone. Comments and questions are welcome. Feel free to use it for your own games or adventures - I think it's open enough that you could slip it into a game with little trouble.

We are a week from the Skull Gate, three from Mount Voor. My hold on my vassals is thread-slender. Only by appealing to their petty cupidity did I manage to keep them. The adventurers I recruited in Tarantia are on edge and overly curious. They seem willing to stay, for now, but if that damn thing strikes again I do not know what they will do.. They ask me too many questions, and I doubt I can come up with further excuses. Things have gone on too far and too long. Even Raldaro doubts me now. He was never a fool, but the ties of loyalty held him fast and kept him blind. Damn that Argossian fop for putting questions in his head. Damn my idiot cousin, for getting himself killed, stripping me of my protection. Or was ever really safe? Could he have killed me at any time, and is merely toying with me, as the cat toys with the mouse? Knowing what he and his cousins are---

It does not matter. I need but survive for another three weeks, and I’ll be safe. Or slain, in a way as horrible and sanity-blasting as any destruction he could devise. But death is certain if I surrender; If I press on, I may yet survive, but at what cost? The Old One’s appetite is great. My vassals will die. The adventurers will die. Gesric, Armanicus, Raldaro will die. Belanna and Michilo’s doxy will wish they had died – he needs vessels to birth his formless spawn, if the stories I’ve read are true. But it will be worth the cost. They will not have me.

But perhaps I will not reach Mount Voor. There are other hazards in the Border Kingdom, besides what he can whistle down. But they are trivial. Death at the hands of a robber baron or Hyberborean savage is better than the slithering annihilation that treads on my shadow.

Damn you, Anar-Akhen-Ur! Damn you for involving me with such obscenities. And damn me for ever trusting a Stygian. I wanted to believe that he found wonders from the Ancient World. Lost treasures and antiquities from Valusia and Atlantis that would make the wealth of the modern world seem like the baubles of children. But there is nothing under the sands of Shem but terror – terror and madness.

Mitra preserve me! I still see them, in my dreams, as vivid as yesterday’s memory. I saw them rise, and walk. They walked on two legs, but they did not walk like men. I can still see Anar-Akhen-Ur falling on his belly before them, abasing himself, kissing their clawed feet. I remember flying from them, half-mad, and the promise the youngest of them made to me, when he visited me in my tent, days later. Has it been only a year since this horror began? It feels like an eternity. Mitra, save your foolish son –

No. It is hypocritical of me to call upon Mitra. He has abandoned me. Damn him. He has put me on this path. His protection is a lie. Only in the dark will I find safety. To save myself from them, I must align myself to an evil as great and as old. I must have the Aegis of the To---

I used a font called Dobkins to provide a handwritten, scholarly look.


Jeremy Harper
Good work! That is an excellent hook, if the PCs already have some idea that "the Aegis of ...." is extremely valuable or extremely powerful, or if they have reason to search for the writer (a reward, for example). Thanks for cluing me in to the Dobkins font, too. I would personally choose Allembert, I think, but chacon a son gout.

When using a computer to make "handwritten notes," a valuable tip which is given by the proprietor of a site which has such gems as "Siloam" and other ancient Hebrew, Canaanite, Syrian, and early Arabic fonts is to not place the letters evenly on a line, but to raise or lower some of them slightly to reflect the fact that an actual human has supposedly written it. Even the Macintosh Teach Text application can raise or lower a glyph slightly to reflect super- and sub-scripts, and full-featured word processors should be able to do it easily.

The handout itself was a bit too informative, I think. I can't imagine anyone in real life writing with that much directness and terseness about something which probably happened over months, if not years. I think that I would have the information on three separate pieces of "parchment," each in the same hand, but with the pieces apparently torn or cut from a larger whole. That way there is an implication that the writer didn't put it all down at once, like some Lovecraftian character who is about to die, but wrote it down over a period of perhaps several days, with other, "irrelevant" material. The catch is that the PCs don't know yet what is or isn't relevant, and the GM has the option of inserting another piece of the manuscript somewhere else in the adventure as an added clue if the PCs are going off on a tangent. The GM can also add other elements of danger and then have the PCs find the section warning of that horror after they have faced it, adding to the tension -- if that (which they just barely survived) was on a missing piece of the manuscript, what worse things might there be?! The aim shouldn't be to have them chasing after scraps of paper, but to use what they do have as valuable tools to both guide them and to add to their suspense. The important parts which start the adventure shouldn't be so hard to locate that the PCs never get properly started, but they should have a sense that what they do have is something precious.

Apropos of it being in a "scholarly" hand, isn't illiteracy almost universal? Anyone who can write is, in a sense, a scholar (not in the character class sense), so GMs who don't have fancy fonts shouldn't worry too much. The PCs will be lucky if one of them can read and write (and so much the better if none of them can -- that allows for an extra NPC who can accompany them, warn them off of their quest, or, perhaps best of all, warn them off and then make "secret" preparations of his own to leave in search of whatever the writer was searching for, thus demonstrating its value). That's how I would probably use it.

I noticed the reference to Mount Voor. Is that Voormihadrath from CAS's Hyperborea? There should be some powerful (and nasty stuff there!!!! Ancient stuff. Pre-human stuff. And Pre-Humans, too! Hehehehehe....