Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 5b
"...we forthwith started to explore a left-hand avenue, which, though it had been laid out with mathematical directness, vanished at no great distance among the fronded trees. Here, somewhat apart from the other buildings, in a sort of square that the jungle had not yet wholly usurped, we found a small temple of antique architecture which gave the impression of being far older even than the adjoining edifices. It also differed from these in its material, for it was builded of a dark basaltic stone heavily encrusted with lichens that seemed of a coeval antiquity. It was square in form, and had no domes nor spires, no facade of pillars, and only a few narrow windows high above the ground. Such temples are rare in Hyperborea nowadays; but we knew it for a shrine of Tsathoggua, one of the elder gods, who receives no longer any worship from men, but before whose ashen altars, people say, the furtive and ferocious beasts of the jungle, the ape, the giant sloth and the long-toothed tiger, have sometimes been seen to make obeisance and have been heard to howl or whine their inarticulate prayers."
"...the black interior of the temple yawned before us, and from it there surged an odor of long-imprisoned mustiness combined with a queer and unfamiliar fetidity."
"...the place was paven with immense quinquangular flags of the same material from which its walls were built. It was quite bare, except for the image of the god enthroned at the further end, the two-tiered altar of obscenely figured metal before the image, and a large and curious-looking basin of bronze supported on three legs, which occupied the middle of the floor."
"I had never seen an image of Tsathoggua before, but I recognized him without difficulty from the descriptions I had heard. He was very squat and pot-bellied, his head was more like that of a monstrous toad than a deity, and his whole body was covered with an intimation of short fur, giving somehow a vague suggestion of both the bat and the sloth. His sleepy lids were half-lowered over his globular eyes; and the tip of a queer tongue issued from his fat mouth. In truth, he was not a comely or personable sort of god, and I did not wonder at the cessation of his worship, which could only to have appealed to very brutal and aboriginal men at any time."
"What unimaginable horror of protoplastic life, what loathly spawn of the primordial slime had come forth to confront us, we did not pause to consider or conjecture."
ADVENTURE IDEAS (Continued from 5a)
As the drums begin to beat scores of ape-men rush from the surrounding ruins. A group of eight with an alpha male leading run toward the stairs. It will take them no more than 2 melee rounds to cross the stone paves of the square and reach the bottom of the stairs, and only another melee round to rush up them and engage anyone at the doors at top.
NOTE: After the first group has begun their charge other small groups of 1d6+6 ape-men (with a 25% chance of an alpha male leading them) begin to make their way behind them or pull themselves up the walls on all side. As an example, for the first 11 melee rounds ape-men will rush up the stairs or make their way around the sides of the ziggurat ever other melee round, 5th round, 7th round, etc... and on the 9th melee round since the ape-men first charged the stairs, a group of six and an alpha male will climb to the top of the ziggurat above the doors and be able to jump down on the next melee round.
NOTE: These ape-men need make no morale cheeks and are immune to any charm spells. The are already under the complete swat of Xathoggua.
If anyone makes it inside the top floor, after opening or smashing down the doors, they will find that the ape-men will not enter. If the entire party is inside the top-floor room the ape-men will disappear from view, moving down the stairs, around the corners of the walls, or peer down from the roof above. Anyone steeping beyond the doors or sticking their head out will be pelted with 30+ thrown stones each melee round for three rounds and then attacked by a rush of ape-men. In no case will an ape-man step within the temple and any that do will go wild, frothing at the mouth, and then collapse in a shuddering semi-conscious heap. Such ape-men will only awaken if they are brought outside the temple or at the sound of a gong being beaten somewhere below (this will be dealt with in a future post).
The interior of the top floor is dank and slimed with a glowing greenish substance that has the smell of rotting vegetation and a slightly acidic quality that will burns the skin and stains and disfigures cloth and hide. It does add enough light to see within the chamber if there is no other illumination.
1a-1g are pedestals with what appear to be iron statues (or broken fragments of iron statues) of humanoid appearance. Each is of a warrior though their shape is slightly disturbing, legs appear too long, the chest narrow and sunken, the arms oddly jointed and the fingers numbering more or less than a humans. Such faces as can be seen are a strange combination of toad, bat and giant sloth. Each statue is exactly detailed and the work masterful, though slightly horrific and bizarre.
It can easily be seen that each of these statues have received severe damage, and several have been almost completely destroyed, and one appears to be missing. A closer look shows that they are covered with slowly moving fragments of metal as if they were swarmed by some infestation. A few moments will reveal that these fragments are minding the fragments, rebuilding the missing pieces and reconstructing each damaged statue.
These statues are a new creature for my campaign.
The Iron Men of Xathoggua
No. Encountered: 1
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 8
No. Attacks 1 (Plus Special)
Saving Throw: 11
Experience Points: 4,000
Treasure Class: -
Constructed by Olman sorcerers in the distant past, the Iron Men of Xathoggua are similar to automaton's of iron. Each is dedicated to Xathoggua and can be commanded by the deity at will (overriding any other commands). Each Iron Man is constructed by a single priest of Xathoggua and controlled by a scroll of a silver-like metal. Only a single controlling scroll can ever be possessed and such a scroll allows command of only a single specific iron man. Anyone trying to possess and use more than one scroll will cause those iron men to attack the user. An iron man must be within sight of someone using a silver scroll and their voice must be able to be heard (an Iron Man has average hearing).
The art of building the Iron Men is now lost, but they are well nigh indestructable. Built from a magnetic black iron which fell to Hyperborea from the dark void of space, the priests of Xathoggua enchanted the alien metal, turning it into a viscous liquid and through their dark arts imbuing each with the life essences of ten powerful warriors and ten colonies of foul green slime, and a quantity of their own blood.
An Iron Man can be shattered with normal weapons, but the metal, even smashed to fragments, is drawn to each other with a force strong enough to pull free from the grip of a strong man. These pieces will find each other even across great distances. It would require great magic or the heat of a mighty forge to destroy this metal.
Allowed to reassemble itself an iron man will 'heal' at a rate of 3hp/turn. When it has reached half its hit points it will be able to function once more though only able to move at half speed and deal half damage, (it will still be able to carry out its special attack).
Immune to charm, sleep, hold and other mind-affecting sorceries.
Electrical attacks slow the Iron Man for 3 rounds
Fire attacks due 1/2 damage or no damage if saved.
Acid attacks do no damage
Every 5 melee rounds the Iron Man can vomit a green acidic substance up to 10feet striking a 5foot diameter sphere of space. This attack will cause 3d6 damage.
Each Iron Man is constructed with an flanged mace gripped in one hand with its other hand free.
Top Floor (continued)
1a) This Iron Man is utterly destroyed. The fragments are slowly shifting together but have only reformed the feet.
1b) This is an empty predestal
1c) This Iron Man is partially reformed and able to function. It's armor is chipped and cracked. The top of its head is missing and the glowing green liquid sloshes out over its face as it moves. It cannot use its special vomit attack.
NOTE: All surviving iron men will attack if anyone approaches within 10feet. If any of the iron men are activated then all are activated and will go on the attack (this includes only the iron men at locations 1c, 1e & 1f).
1d) This Iron man is only half complete. Its body has been rebuilt up to its lower chest. Inside its bowl-like interior is a pool of acidic slime. This glowing green slime may be collected in glass or metal containers. A jar's worth, if used as a missile or poured onto someone, will do 1d10 damage. There is 5 jars worth of slime that can be recovered.
1e). This iron man is at three-quarters hit points and functional. Its body is cracked and missing small pieces, through which leak the green acidic slime, but it is still able to perform its vomit attack. See 1C for the NOTE regarding the functional iron men.
At the feet of this Iron Man is the body of a half-orc sorcerer. The body has received grievous wounds and its right hand is missing. There is a +2 Dagger of Venom concealed in his left boot (5 doses of poison remaining) and 5 100gp gems sewn into each cuff of his pants (10 gems total). His belt has been cut and pockets turned out, but there is a large silver serpent-shaped buckle on his belt worth 50gp with a hidden compartment containing 3 doses of poison for his dagger. In a half-destroyed pack that still hangs over one mutilated shoulder, there is an acid-eaten spellbook which still contains 2 1st level spells and 1 2nd level spell (to be determined by the DM).
1f) This iron man is at half hit points and its special vomit attack functions normally. See the NOTE at 1c concerning this monster.
If activated this iron man will step forward, perhaps off its pedestal and reveal the squashed hand of the half-orc sorcerer whose body is at 1e. There are 2 rings on the broken fingers of this hand. One is in the form of a snake with emeralds for its eyes. It is of ancient craftmanship and worth 250gp to the right buyer. The other is a Ring of Shooting Stars. NOTE: This ring is made of an opposing metal to that of the iron men and the wearer of such a ring will be the focus of any attacks.
1g) This iron man is completely shattered. All it appears to be is a squirming pile of metal fragments oozing a glowing green liquid slime.
2) The stairs leading down to the 2nd floor.
(To Be Continued)