Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cryptotherium: Keeping Place of Secrets

The Bando know that the things they find in the wastes of Benu are from ancient and powerful civilizations that fell long before they set foot across the salt flats. Those finds that hum and glow with unknown energies are transported to the Cryptotherium, a massive museum and laboratory in the capitol city.

Here the wisest and most learned among the Bando try to uncover the secrets of the past. More often than not, the artifacts stored here are relegated to storage and deemed undecipherable.

Physical Structure, Azure and Ancient

The Cryptotherium is a 20-story tall tower with an observatory dome on top. The entire building is covered in ancient glyphs, scrawled on thousands of pieces of ornate stonework that have been scavenged and fastened together to create this monumental edifice and shrine of the past.

The inner layout of the building is honeycomb of passages and skyways connecting hundreds of vaults and labs. Many dangerous objects are housed here so the walls are thick and seemingly impenetrable. The building's original blue glaze, while cracked and faded, still quite captivating, while trimmed with a precious platinum-colored metal that gleams brightly in direct midday starlight.

The observatory dome crowns the top of the building with colorful and strange stained glasses that at one time filtered out direct sunlight so observations could be made during the day. In the waning light of Benu's star, the windows have taken on new properties--shifting auras and colored shapes of light in mid-air--which Bando astronomers are at a loss to explain.

There are three entrances to the Cryptotherium, one main ramp that leads to a hall of vaults and two skyway bridges 10 stories from the ground that lead from the adjacent buildings. These are ramshackle bridges covered with deep blue canvas tenting. Similar coverings dot the building over breaches or fallen walls where passages are now vulnerable, as the building has been in general disrepair for the last millennia. 

Powerful Secrets Means Tight Security

The building is heavily guarded--not against threats from within (the punishment in Bando society is to be abandoned beyond the Indigo Gates of the city, a fate of certain death) but from without. Seekers from other worlds, competitor races on Benu, and other oddness have besieged the tower in the past.

The Bando forbid all outsiders from entering and installed an permanent garrison of 300 Bando sentinels called Mazhji to watch over their precious treasures. Armed with weapons familiar and ancient, these Mazhji will lay down their lives to keep intruders from making off with any secrets of The Kings.

While the tower appears to have it's weak points, the Bando's resolve to protect the Cryptotherium is boundless. An outsider looking to get in should consider that there are better ways to die.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Zeth, Benuvian Moon

Image: Blue Cloud Planet 2.0 by Fragile-stock
Zeth is a windswept moon that orbits Benu. It was formed out of the detritus from it's larger host planet and later became fortified with heavy metals from meteors. Eons later the planet would be mined for its rich ore complement to the point of being riddled with deep shafts and sinkholes.

The Winds of Zeth

When Benu and Zeth had grown old and the solar winds stirred up the climate of both bodies, Zeth's gale-force gusts began to pulverize what was left. With so much material in the air, lifeforms on the surface had little chance of survival. What did remain retreated to the sinkholes, canyons, and subterranean caverns or under the pillowed dunes.

Life On-Planet

Zeth's atmosphere is filled with particulate (dust, etc.) and air-breathing lifeforms native to the world have evolved special lungs lined with filters to extrude dangerous matter. (visitors require artificial means to breath.) The winds also carve anything and everything, breaking solid objects down with the passage of time, adding all matter to the winds' mighty rending will. Special precautions must be taken in order to venture out into the wilderness by natives and visitors alike.

Fauna on the planet is especially hardy and distempered. The Nikac is a native species to Zeth.

Cultural Impact

Zeth is named for the daughter of the great creators Oduz and Erul. In Benuvian lore, she was the first sired princess and Queen of Secrets. During the high season, when the moon is full, her reflection is said to reveal all betrayers. The moonlight from Zeth bathes Benu in silver twillight during these periods--during day and night--making the ambient sky much brighter than ususual. Runes written while Zeth is full can only be read on other full moons--regardless of the method of rendering.


When Zeth and Benu are in alignment with their parent star, the winds die down on the surface and great celebrations occur across the orb. The entire surface of the moon appears transparent--as a ghost--during an eclipse. Seers, astralmongers and cosmotographers have been known to peer into the eclipse, and auto-scribe starmaps, calendars, and witness other strange visions. Ships looking to land on Zeth during these times find the moon has quite simply disappeared.


  • Some say that Zeth was once the shipyard that built the great tetratic "colony" ships (a cross between a warship and planetary seed engine) and the discus-shaped escort fleets. The planet's rich iron core is mixed with other unknown metals made it a favorite source for magical weapons, shields, and starship hulls.
  • Either due to it's geologic makeup or for other unknown reasons, the moon is a bright source of psionic energy, which has affected everything from sentient culture development to the lifeforms in residence.
  •  Zeth still has great cities, buried beneath the dunes and embedded inside abandoned mines.
  •  A great war was once fought between Zethian slaves and their Benuvian masters. While the rebellion was eventually put down by Benu, several space vessels, crafted in secret, made it off-moon. It's rumored that their descendants began their own empires elsewhere and are among many reasons why Benu has fallen from its former glory.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Nomadic tribesmen: The Bando


(A new race for X-plorers RPG)

Requirements: PER 10, PHY 9, INT 10
Prime Requisite: PER and PHY
Hit Dice: Add +1 for a hardy, rigorously physical lifestyle
Max Level: None


Benu has been home to many races over the eons. At several points in the planet's history, different humanoid species existed at the same time and though the diversity and number are greatly reduced, a few races still persist. Only one though is humanoid. The Bando are a race of human nomads that travel in giant caravans across the deserts, badlands, and steppes of Benu and are the progeny of whatever humans previously lived there. The bando live in hostile conditions but have met their genetic potential for longevity which is around 270 years old. The bando language is a complex system of whistles, tweets, and throaty calls that presents an intentional barrier for would be adversaries and outsiders.


The Bando raise quarra as pack animals and for other purposes. While they used to treat them as livestock they now know better of it. They raise a variety of other domesticated animals have a talent for husbandry. They are talented scavengers, traders, and craftsmen (basically making things they find "useful"). While finding things comes naturally to them, occasionally certain finds present themselves to be ancient, mysterious, and possibly dangerous. These items are held in high regard and taken to the the Cryptotherium for further study.

They also make excellent guides and wayfinders for travelers who find themselves on Benu (usually stuck there for one reason or another). Occasionally an offworlder may come to Benu looking for a Bando Protector for hire, as they are highly regarded warriors and body guards. Protectors swear an oath to fight to the death to defend their masters, but generally very few can be persuaded to leave Benu, let alone to look after someone else.

For the most part though, the Bando live off whatever they can find as far as food, shelter, and tools/weapons to fight off the marauding races and dangerous fauna that still exist on the planet. It's important to note that the Bando are not the dominant species on Benu and they travel largely to avoid becoming sitting targets.


The Bando obscure their physical appearance in mainly blue colored cloaks, capes, veils, and the like over grey or tan colored wrappings to protect against the desert sands. It's unknown what their true likeness are, but though they appear to be humanoid. They are comparable to other human races in size and frame, though they are nearly all strong and lean, having grown accustomed to the harsh climes and difficult lifestyle on Benu.

Special Abilities/Bonuses

The Bando gain a +1d4 + level on searching, scouting, or hiding as they've developed keen eyes (even in the dim Benu daylight) for finding artifacts, fossils, etc. and detecting predators. Edged weapons are hard to come by, but the Bando have made due with a variety of handcrafted spear, staff, and club weapons with barbed or hooked implements. In addition bando have mastered several types of ranged implements (slings, javelins, and nets) and gain a +1 per level in their use.

The Bando also seem to retain a natural ability to "activate" or make use of found objects regardless of whether they know how to use them or not. As a result they often consider special finds to be "magical" or imbued with the "Song of the Kings," which should translate to a +1-per-level psionics bonus. Ability without knowledge is dangerous however and there's a 1d8 chance of mishap or accident occurring.


There are many mysteries about the Bando, but the most common question about them is often their hidden faces. Travelers often gossip that they were once very attractive in appearance, which is thought to be a genetic trait handed down by their supposed forefathers, the long extinct Kings of Benu. It's rumored that many millennia ago they likely were more than 12 feet tall, and had angelic faces that would put the meanest disposition at ease with their sublime grace. Legend says the Kings, having been obsessed with human dominance over everything, apparently imbued their lines with physical perfection. A superior standard, that offworlders claim has been slowly ground away by the passage of time into a hard-skinned, cragged, and gnarled forms --a shadow of their former race.

When distressed, it's said that a Bando tribe member can call her or his bonded quarra to their side simply by thinking it.

Bando widows hold vigil for several days praying for a colossal sandstorm. When one finally appears they are said wander into them, cooing and whistling, lamenting their lost loved ones--and then disappear forever.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fauna: Quarra (pack animal)

The quarra is a smallish, fleet-footed, hoofed animal that roams the rocky outcroppings and foothills of Benu's steppe regions. The beasts resemble the pony-sized hyracodon of prehistoric Earth (horse-like in appearance, but actually an ancestor of the modern rhino). Quarra hold much in common with their Earth counterparts, though the males sport a bony skull-plate studded with short, broad spikes above the eyes and down the snout.

Use as domesticated animals

Several nomadic tribes have domesticated the animal, and use it's surefooted climbing abilities and speed over open plains to their advantage. Quarra are often used as pack animals for small to medium-sized loads that accommodate their lighter frame, but they excel at navigating rough terrain so they often make for ideal pack animals.

Long ago, quarra were hunted to near extinction (prized for their colorful coats) until one tribe, the Bando, discovered their innate intelligence. Unlike other pack species, quarra exhibit a higher degree of intelligence and can understand both spoken and gestural commands by their masters. They remain loyal to their death or the demise of those they serve, upon which the pact that bonds both is dissolved and the companion is free to join the wild herds.
Courtesy Wikipedia
Male quarra are slightly larger than females and appear in a variety of brown, grey, red, and purplish tones. They mate twice yearly and face off to claim dominance over suitors and breeding priority in the herd. Females are known to birth twins often, which is thought to be a natural defense of the species who are the preferred prey of Benu's mega-sized strigiforme predators.

A single quarra is matched to a nomadic adolescent upon entering puberty as part of a rite of passage ceremony. The young adults are charged with caring for their companions and will use them to build their  livestock herd. Quarra will live nearly as long as their masters if cared for properly and predators are kept at bay. Quarra also possess some unusual abilities (see below).


NO. APPEARING: Herds (8-40); Always paired with nomad at puberty (about 12 years or older)
MOVE: 15 on open plain
HIT DICE: 2d8+2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2d6+1 ramming
SPECIAL ABILITIES/SKILLS: Low light/dark vision, scent, when 6 or more adult quarra are present they provide their masters with an additional protection (not known if this is magic, but should be treated as such) against fear/intimidation/morale-based attacks (+2 on any saves)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Studded/bony skull-plate
ALIGNMENT: Neutral in wild/good if domesticated by good aligned nomads (will remain good if released)
Quarra are immune to illusions produced by living beings


125 lbs (light load)
126-275 (medium load)
276-330 (heavy)
A quarra can drag 1,275 pounds for 1d6 rounds before getting tired