Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Foes of the Wicked City 1: The Children of the Sun


In the deserts to the south of the Wicked City, there are places where the sunlight becomes so heavy that it can almost be grasped. In such places - the Sun's Anvils, as the desert tribes call them - to speak of the sun 'beating down' starts to seem less and less metaphorical; each sunbeam feels almost like a solid physical object, pushing downwards from the sky. On really hot days, at the very heart of the sun's anvils, that sunlight doesn't just fall: it coalesces, becoming a shimmering, liquid mass, too bright to look at, too hot to touch. Put your hand into a pool of liquid sunlight and it will burn right off. All day the pool of sunlight will churn and seethe and bubble; but when night falls, most of it will drain away, evaporating into the cooling air. Left behind at the bottom of the pool will be a new-born Child of the Sun.

They look like humans, the Sun's Children, but their skin is the colour of bronze and their hair is the colour of bright molten gold. They have no childhood: they are born as either gleaming maidens or as splendid youths, apparently in late adolescence, and with an instinctive knowledge of languages and all the basic arts of life. They do not need to eat or drink, feeding solely upon the sun's glorious radiance; if they are deprived of sunlight, they weaken and die. They are strong. They are stern. They carry the Way of Solar Righteousness in their hearts. 

All through history, the Children of the Sun have come down from their desert plateaus and mingled with humanity, trying to teach them the Way of Solar Righteousness. All through history, they have retreated in shock and sorrow from the inability of humans to put the Way into practise. The Way teaches that you must never lie, never cheat, never steal, never commit any act of unrighteous violence or deception, and never, ever break your oath. Most humans agree that those are pretty good moral guidelines, but they keep going on about 'exceptions' and 'edge cases' and 'white lies' and 'extenuating circumstances', and the Children just don't understand that at all. There is righteousness, and there is unrighteousness. There is nothing in between. 

Unsurprisingly, most Children of the Sun soon end up wandering back out into the desert, where they can practise the Way of Solar Righteousness with their own kind in peace. They live in austere, roofless monastery-temples, every room open to the sun. Occasionally, idealistic humans get it into their heads that they should seek out one of these temples and try to join it. The tough ones last a week.

A few of the Children, however, refuse to give up on us. Year after year they remain in the world, trying by word and deed to impress upon the people around them the importance of the Way. Some of them gather cults of followers. Some of them build temples. Sometimes they are enlisted by communities to act as judges: they may be harsh and unsympathetic, but they are also totally incorruptible. Some of them roam from place to place, into lands far from their native deserts, enduring for our sake the long nights and the cold winters when they scarcely glimpse the sun. Wherever they go, they act as scourges of evil and teachers of righteousness. And they hate the Wicked City with every grain of their molten hearts.

You can play a Sun Child if you want to, but make sure the whole group is OK with the idea first: most PCs tend to be very morally flexible people, and constantly getting lectured about your moral failings can get really old really fast. (The rest of the players are also soon going to get bored of having to sneak around behind your back every time they want to do something devious.) Mostly, they're intended for use as NPCs: allies for whom the question, for once, is not 'can we trust them' but 'can they trust us?' (A Sun Child who discovers that she's been tricked into acting unrighteously won't get all torn up about it - she knows her heart was pure - but she will refuse to have anything more to do with the people who deceived her.) Game information is as follows:
  • You must have Constitution and Wisdom 12 or higher.
  • You can use any weapons and armour. You can wear the heaviest armour on the hottest day without discomfort.
  • You gain a bonus to all your to-hit rolls equal to your level.
  • You gain 1d6 HP per level.
  • You cannot be blinded or dazzled by flashes of light or similar effects, and are immune to damage from heat or fire. (Gunpowder explosions damage you normally: it's the blast, not the heat, which messes you up.)
  • You get +2 to your WILL saves. (Included in the table below.)
  • You are totally incapable of moral compromise, and will never, ever, knowingly behave in a deceptive, unrighteous, or dishonourable manner. 
  • You feed on sunlight. You do not need to eat or drink, but you must spend at least one hour a day standing in full sunlight, soaking up rays. (If only weak sunlight is available, you might need two or three hours instead.) You will die if deprived of sunlight for a number of consecutive days greater than your Constitution score.
  • When you are cut, you bleed sunlight. This may be an issue if you're trying to sneak around in the dark!
Sun Child Summary Table

Level
Hit Points
To Hit Bonus
Fortitude save (FORT)
Reflex save (REF)
Willpower save (WILL)
1
1d6
+1
14
14
12
2
2d6
+2
13
13
11
3
3d6
+3
12
12
10
4
4d6
+4
11
11
9
5
5d6
+5
10
10
8
6
6d6
+6
9
9
7
7
7d6
+7
8
8
6
8
8d6
+8
7
7
5
9
9d6
+9
6
6
4
10
10d6
+10
5
5
3

Starting equipment: Helm and breastplate (+5 AC), heavy shield (+2 AC), sword (1d8 damage), longbow (1d8 damage), holy golden amulet (worth 50sp, though you'd never sell it), extremely irritating sense of total moral superiority, 1d6x10 sp

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