Apr 19, 2013

Quills of Barthemius - Curious Rocky Formation in the Lost Mare River

At the widest point of the Lost Mare river, where the Nightwash River joins it, running deep and fast down out of the Destriel Mountains, there is a most curious formation of stoney structures.  These are very tall (hundreds of feet) stony pillars, in the middle of the Lost Mare, called the Quills of Barthemius.  The Lost Mare is almost a mile wide at this point, and flows much slower than the Nightwash does, when its fast flowing and frigid waters come crashing into the Lost Mare.  At the base of Mount Estelle, where the Lost Mare flows out from under the Iore Glacier, there is a valley with numerous hot water springs, that not only feed into the Lost Mare, but have a warming effect on the waters, so that although it flows out of the icy heights of the Destriels, it is quite warm for a northern river.

Where the Lost Mare is met by the Nightwash, along a two mile long stretch, there are numerous of these tall stone pillars.  They are often about 400-500 feet tall, and 60 or 70 feet across at the base, narrowing little in their towering heights.  The pillars are thick in the river, and are too close together for all but the smallest craft to navigate through them.  There are channels to the west and east of the pillars where somewhat larger craft can navigate, but the river grows shallower there, so only barges and low draft longboats are often found here.  The space between the pillars is sometimes as narrow as 10 or 12 feet, sometimes as wide as 30 or 40 feet.

The tops of the pillars make for an interesting  There is a breed of curious eight legged goats known as Spider Goats that dwell there.  [gamer's note, these are not the monstrous fanged blood drinking Spider Goats that are found in the game, "Mutant Future", but they are interesting enough as they are].  The goats were joined, years and years ago, by a band of Satyrs that came over from the realm of Faery, through one of the many portals in the Harp hills.  These were led by a Satyr druid named Balthemius.  Balthemius and his brethren, taught the spider goats how to use their latent telepathic ability, and awakened an intelligence in them.  The descendents of the Satyrs, as well as a number of Fawns, have taken up permanent residence on the plateau of stony islands, along with the spider goats.  Northguard rangers that have visited the Satyrs report that their reason for remaining on this side of Faery is by order of King Oberon to keep an eye on the Unseely Court creatures that rise up out of the huge sinkholes to the east, along the southern banks of the Nightwash river.  Balthemius himself is still alive, and it is not know just how old he is, or how long he has lived here, but he was not here in the time of the Old Ones.  The Quills are named in his honor, and he performs a great number of good deeds (although, being a Satyr, he is also known to be mischievious, or certainly his brethren and their telepathic Spider goat companions, are).

It is supposed, by a large number of druids and naturalists, that whatever it is that has given the spider goats the ability to use telepathy, as well as their intelligence, is similar to the similar abilities found in the Great Horses of the Darkearth Plains.

The great sinkholes on the southern bank of the Nightwash river is where parts of the Nightwash disappear in vast waterfalls, deep into the earth.  The region is riddled by layers of underground realms, many with permanent portals to the Unseely Courts.  Without the diligence and watchfulness of Barthemius and his satyrs and goat allies, as well as the Great Khan of all the Horses, there would no doubt be more incursions of the darker, evil races into the surface world.

The spider goats are a curious breed, with a number of special abilities, other than their intelligence and telepathy.  They have the ability to climb sheer walls, and although the Satyrs have constructed a number of bridges connecting the wider separated Quills, the goats have an incredible leaping ability, able to jump 20 or 30 feet, as an adult.  The females have an uncharacteristic development, even for a magical creature.  They have spinnerets, and can generate a web (same effects as the spell) that has a range of 40 feet.  This web is used only for capturing prey and enemies, and not used for building webs or nests.  The thick flocks of nesting black geese provide food for the spider goats, and the breeding cycle of the breed has adapted to this cycle, so that when the black geese come north from the south parts of the Lost Mare river in the early spring to nest and lay eggs in the crags on the sides of the Quills, the goats are also ready with their young, and feed on goose while nursing their young.

Other than in their natural habitat of the Quills, there is a group of Spider Goats that can be encountered abroad.  A successful raid by a number of Drow elves (actual Drow, as per the AD&D race, rather than the more typical Dark Elves encountered in the Valley - proper Drow in this setting usually only occur as temporary incursions from the Unseely Realms, but this group has come over permanently, and lives in one of the underground realms in the nearby countryside) captured a number of young spider goats some decades in the past, and have been raising and multiplying them, imprinting their evil alignment and philosophy on them.  These are sometimes encountered, with the members of the Aa'Lega Coven of Drow Elves, and others.

Name: Spider Goats (Drow variant)
No. Encountered: 2-12 (with a Drow hunting party, or as part of a Drow lair)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 90' (can jump 30'; can scale sheer surfaces)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 Kicks, 1Bite; or 1 charge
Damage: 1d4+1 (kick); 1-4 (bite); 1d6 (charge)
Save: MU2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class:VI (remains on dead victims)
Special: Half of all spider goats encountered can shoot out a web 30', acts as the spell was cast by a 4th level magic user (lasts for 8 turns).  On a successful charge attack, victims Man sized or smaller have to make a saving throw vs. paralyzation or be knocked down.  Against a knocked down opponent, a spider goat that makes a successful Bite attack, will remain attached to their victim, doing 1d6 damage automatically every round, until the spider goat is slain.  The Drow version of the Spider Goat has also been trained to use a psychic shriek attack, based on their telepathy.  This causes all characters below 3rd level (or creatures below 3HD) that are within 80' of a spider goat to make a save vs. magic each round that they want to act.  Spell casters within 80' of a spider goat are particularly vulnerable to the psychic shriek.  They may not employ any spells that requires a Verbal component.

1 comment:

  1. What a unique idea for a creature: spider goats! Cool!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com