The Campaign Builders' Guild

The Works => Contests => Topic started by: Steerpike on June 06, 2014, 12:33:44 AM

Title: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Steerpike on June 06, 2014, 12:33:44 AM
The winner of this month's contest (,210089.msg227983.html#new) gets to chose new user titles!



The Baneful Bandits

Lurking in the shadows, waiting to catch their victims unawares, the members of the Baneful Bandits skulk about ancient crypts and forgotten ruins in small, elite teams. They target the weak in order to plunder their personal treasures, be it gold, gems, or even just a nice sword or helmet, and they think little of brutally murdering entire peoples just to collect a few coins per ear. Roaming from village to village, they drift about the frontiers of humanity where the laws are less present and victims plentiful. There they make their living by preying on the unsuspecting.

While the true origins of this band of deadly drifters has been lost to the mists of time, the popular legend holds that they were once brigands who, after one too many close calls with authorities, struck on a novel way to predate on the weak. They would stop targeting civilized peoples and begin killing those society labeled "monsters" for their wealth. Very quickly, they found that not only could they easily slay families of goblins and gnolls in their sleep, but cities and towns would even pay them for such deeds! In time, their exploits attracted new members who, though greater manpower, were able to target more powerful or prominent threats to society.

Today, they are a widespread organization of loosely affiliated ruffians, bandits, burglars, and mercenaries who take on the dirty jobs respectable soldiers and guardsman shun. Hunting large, man-eating game to extinction, slaughtering entire tribes of orcs – women, children, and all –, etc. They are rumored to prey on the occasional hero, as well, but such opinions are rarely voiced. Most focus on the good they do society. They keep civilized lands civil (as much by staying out of them as by keeping monsters out), they tame borderlands, and they explore and conquer new lands on behalf of humanity.

Despite their contributions to civilization, they have always retained a darker aspect. While no one would dare voice such an idea, it is widely known that the Bandits use their talents to extort smaller towns for free room and board, help themselves to whatever women they fancy, and generally ignore the rule of law. Ostensibly, they suggest that they deserve such rights because they provide such a vital service, but between the lines, everyone understands that to deny the Bandits even once will mean they will stand aside while monsters destroy a village. No one suggests they are directly in league with the enemies of humanity, but they have been known to loudly leave a village shortly before it was overrun and destroyed.

Light Dragon:

Three Coins in the Fountain

Dwarf Cecropians are often mistaken for garden snakes, what with their shrunken and withered human elements and their inability to speak, thus they are outcasts from both human and Cecropian society. Dwarf Cecropians measure about a third the size of a typical Cecropian, roughly two feet long. They communicate by vibration and by forming runes with their shapes in sand, dirt, or dust, like chalk-created images. Although they have difficulties communicating their thoughts, they can hear as well as a normal Cecropian is able.

Mz'salfar, a full-sized Cecropian exile from their isolationist island, put his fellow exiles' size to good use, organizing his coil, his group of Cecropians, to infiltrate bathhouses through their waterways, pipes, and drains and rob or slay occupants with poisoned daggers. Together, he and his coil have raged through the isles, coming like a gale upon the land and biting it dry. They have left few survivors, which has resulted in his group to be considered mostly myth and rumor, and which has left their deeds to be presumed to have some larger purpose-- they are agents of the Gods, retribution by enemies, omens in action. Many a lay details their deeds, and many a bard weaves tales of their villainy. Bathers quake at the sight of a snake, and rumor of their presence has doomed many a bathhouse's custom.

The Coils are summoned, it is said, by placing three serrated coins in a fountain near the bathhouse to be targeted. This rumor is untrue. The Coil comes of its own desire, gathers its own intelligence. It acts for no agency but its own free will. This has not stopped copy-cats who wish to undermine rivals' thermae, to employ the tactic before sending in a contortionist wetback to effect their own vile deeds.

The name actually traces its history to the tattoo etched across Mz'salfar's chest- a fountain in which three jagged coins, bearing the twisted faces of his first three minions, are coiled around the base of a fountain, barely floating on the pool's surface.

Their most remembered hit actually was done on behalf of a human seeking revenge...a hit done when the Coils were desperate, and before Mz'salfar learned to not trust those who walk on two legs. Mz'salfar personally entered the thermae after his coil struck, and, when the carnage was finished, but one eunuch witness, less several other portions of his body, survived to warn about the snake-being with three eldritch coins emblazoned across his chest, a being who was let into the steamrooms through doors thought locked, to emerge and strike, stabbing and ripping amongst the smoke. In the aftermath, three Cecropians lay dead, and more than thirty humans... the three Cecropians whose faces were emblazoned on Mz'salfar's chest, and three images that burned in the mind of the surviving chief Archivist of the city, a man with a perfect memory. And although Mz'salfar's memory is not as perfect as the Eunuch's, he carries his past with him and along with it, his hate.


The Black Orchestra

Their calling card is a severed finger. Their night call, the soft snip of scissors. Their victims, no one recognizes. They are the Black Orchestra, and they deal in pieces.

Science, the evolution of species, must press on. The wings of the jatayi, the graceful dexterity of the lilix, the ingenuity of humans; no race quite manages to perfect every angle of their being, falling short in one way or another. Grafting is the way of the future - but there are so few willing donors in the Twilight Cities that an organization known colloquially as the Black Orchestra has taken it upon themselves to find unwilling victims with unusual gifts.

So named for the chorus of screams their operations evoke, the Black Orchestra was once a respectable organization of scientists and forward-thinkers looking to assist the various species to bring out the perfect adaptations through grafting. The crippled, the maimed, even the genetically impoverished were their clients, all of whom risked their lives in experimental operations to improve their livelihood in an attempt to make up for the features they so lacked. Most often, the clients did not survive the operations and their parts were reused in future experiments, but one such experiment (dubbed enigmatically “Emperor Seven”) who refused to be taken by death's sweet embrace allowed them to graft and regraft and internally modify until they created something unrecognizable, monstrous, horrifying… and unconditionally perfect. The beast known as Emperor Seven tore through the city, mindless with pain and rage, and vanished. Its body turned away steel and bullet, and it displayed such graceful rage, such perfect destruction that it transfixed the minds of the unnamed scientists - they had to try again and keep the mind intact this time. But from that point on their reputation was irrevocably tarnished, so they disappeared for a time, disbanding. The Black Orchestra is what remained of these eccentrics.

Throughout Macellaria, the Orchestra has subtly located what individuals contain the features they desire: the impeccably strong right arm of the human blacksmith, the unerring precision of a mantid pit fighter's scythe-arms, the unnerving quietness of a particular zerda thief. Though the Orchestra's numbers are small, in time they collect what they believe to be their dues, dragging the drugged clients back to their illicit chambers in the deep undercity and unceremoniously depositing them somewhere far away when they've exhausted their use of the client. In the end, their new clients will surely see what their pain has wrought, when the Orchestra unleashes the perfect specimen from its depths. For now, the Black Orchestra steals what parts it can get away with, and waits patiently for other opportunities to arise.

Rose of Vellum:

The Flayfire Jackals

They fall like Red Rain from hollow skies. Their wake transforms most into carcasses stripped of clothes, coin, and flesh: a buzzards’ pittance. The rest are not so lucky. Abandoned amidst the wastelands, they wander unmolested save for five ashen scars where once eyes, ears, and tongue adorned their faces. Some find shelter, blindly stumbling across pitying merchants, nomads, or caravanserais. Their respite, however, is brief. Within days, their flesh begins to smolder, then burn as strangely canine-jawed blisters consume both skin and sanity. Before madness or death overtakes them, a few manage to frantically scrawl or sign the source of their torment: The Jackals.

An enigmatic terror, the banditos known as the Flayfire Jackals stalk the Slaughterlands, preying upon flash-pan towns and unwary travelers. They strike under the veil of darkness, swift and unseen like nocturnal shadows. Their few witnesses speak of blood-furred zerda with hexed bolos and sinew-sewn lips. Their leader, they call the Harvester, Padre Opiliones: a hirsute, six-limbed gholmuz and erstwhile prodigy of Chaulaxna’s Torturer’s Guild who crawls across the sands in a scum-green sombrereo and sleeveless duster, clutching the gore-stained tools of a sawbones. Whilst the zerda subdue their marks and slay any who interfere, Padre Opiliones performs the Jackals’ trademark mortifications with a proficiency both monstrous and mesmerizing. They vanish then, hauling ill-gotten organs and lucre alike, their tracks swallowed by the gluttonous sands.

They return to the scute-burrows of their allied zerda –and its fell oubliette: the Well of Red Myrrh. True to its name, the Well contains an ancient myrrh tree, wounded with hell-runes that weep rivulets of crimson light. Bound to the bole are the bandits’ namesakes and gods-cum-slaves: the Jackals, a pair of monstrous, flensed coyotes with boiling blood. The Jackals are carrion-jinn, siblings and lovers, imprisoned during the Membrane Wars. The vulnerae, known as the Mirzas of Mirages and Echoes, can divine all that a living mortal has respectively seen and heard by devouring their eyes and ears. This ‘gift’ drives the Harvester to purloin organs and deliver them to the Fabler-in-Flames—the decrepit, but eldritchly puissant, jatayu elder—that guards the Well.

Saving the tongues for herself, the Fabler prepares the daeva’s macabre sacrament –and then siphons the secrets the jinn consume: a power she gained after sacrificing her left eye and ear to the Mirzas. The Fabler uses this lore to not only direct the Harvester’s raids, but to brief her other disciple: Sal Yszib, a Marainein-born huckster known as the Sower of Ash.

Sal blows through bordertowns like a vagrant tumbleweed, astride his wicker-wrought ostrich; dressed in silken sarapes, corduroy suits, and skink-banded bowlers; flashing smiles like flesh-blown whiskey bottles. He sells the Jackals’ lore for lucre and less tangible rewards, trading with rival merchants from Crepuscle and Skein, river-bandits from Gryss, Macellarian tomb-raiders, Marainein inquisitors, and more. Sometimes, he sells the untarnished truth; other times, he twists it to suit the Jackals’ purposes. One secret, however, Sal never shares: with each sacrifice, the Jackals grow, and soon their fetters will fail…

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Steerpike on June 09, 2014, 09:25:07 PM
Crazy neck and neck!

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Steerpike on June 19, 2014, 10:10:09 AM
In the case of a tie, perhaps we should hold a Sudden Death round?

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: sparkletwist on June 19, 2014, 12:34:13 PM
Or just call it a tie.

Everyone's a winner! (Except the people who didn't win. So there. :grin: )

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Azrin on June 19, 2014, 12:39:31 PM
Either sounds like a good plan to me. :)

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Weave on June 19, 2014, 01:24:56 PM
I'm okay with having Rose-of-Vellum take this one if he's so inclined (assuming we remain tied). I won't mind an honorary second place - besides, I didn't actually have any new user titles in mind :P.

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Rose-of-Vellum on June 19, 2014, 04:43:28 PM
To be fair, if a tie occurs between the Black Orchestra and the Flayfire Jackals, I would rather defer to Weave. My submission was technically late. Also, I'm a greenhorn here, so I'd feel reluctant to create user titles for this august body. :)

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Rose-of-Vellum on June 20, 2014, 09:59:32 AM
Huzzah! Congrats, Weave!

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Ghostman on June 20, 2014, 10:53:11 AM
Congrats for the victory! I'm looking forward to our new user titles, what ever they'll be.

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Steerpike on June 20, 2014, 12:18:45 PM
Well done, Weave!

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: sparkletwist on June 20, 2014, 01:16:19 PM
Congrats Weave.

I'll take care of implementing the new user titles whenever you have them ready, so let me know. :)

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: Weave on June 20, 2014, 02:26:44 PM
Aw thanks guys. I had some serious competition!

Now I need to think of some user titles. How many titles do I need?

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: sparkletwist on June 20, 2014, 03:52:53 PM
The current setup uses 10. So, at least 10. There is some flexibility with how the icons are used so we could come up with a new scheme if you had more you wanted to use; I'd rather not go below 10, though, because it's nice to see a variety of different titles in use.

Title: Re: [Monthly Contest Vote] May Miscreants
Post by: LD on June 20, 2014, 07:00:14 PM