Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Women of Gerrstain + [Class] Squirrel Woman

Gerrstain is a fine, humble little country situated between two mountain ranges. The land is dotted with thick forests and mountainous hills; crags and canyons criss cross its body and make the place generally very rugged and hostile. There are few, if any, towns and villages. Instead, the people live in small huts or live on the side of the mountains. Most are fur trappers, some miners, many lumberjacks.

If you were to travel this land unaware; you would be surprised. Every single person you'd meet on the road would be a man or a child. There are no women, and no girls over the age of fourteen. The men are kind and hospitable, and always have room for guests with news from the outside world- they don't have much time to travel. You see, the menfolk here do the work and raise the children. They feed the young with milk from fat-teated hardy goats and build their houses halfway buried in the dirt. It helps keep in the heat but is more due to respect then anything- in Gerrstain, the men live on the ground, and the women in the trees.

The Women of Gerrstain
When a young woman blossoms into adulthood in this country, changes go through her. Changes that go through every young girl, of course, but here, it's different. The women begin to lose interest in things like pretty clothes, reading, work and play. They become more distant, keeping their hair long and unkempt. Eventually, they leave their father's houses and go far away to live in the woods. Every woman in Gerrstain lives in the trees.

You can catch a glimpse of one, sometimes. They all look the same; pale, naked female forms dancing and flowing between the branches of the thick canopy, each one with thick black hair that goes twice her height. It flows behind her like a black streaking comet, or a long tail. This is also why they are called the "Squirrel Women". They're all totally unwashed, unshaven, with long claws that grow to adapt them to nature. Their faces are even worse; like ghouls, but can be striking if you catch one in the moonlight. But it's best to take the local saying to heart; "Beautiful things are best appreciated at a distance".

They survive in those woods by hanging from the trees; they'll eat anything they can catch. Usually squirrels, rabbits, birds and a steady diet of the golden acorn. Sometimes other things wander through those woods, and sometimes you'll find their corpse, ripped half open with the heart pulled out and messily devoured. They never go bigger then a kobold, but its frightening just how close some people get to being the size of a kobold. Some find it hard to believe that these women are capable of such feats of acrobatics, despite how wild they be, but their hair moves as though it was a hand, and it is more then capable of supporting their weight- letting them sleep upside down like bats. More then one traveler has found something gone missing from their pack from a long black "snake" coming down from the trees above, grabbing something shiny, and then retreating away.

These women are also sorcerers. Since even girls who have never learned how to read will become one of them, and since the women of Gerrstain don't seem to socialize with each other at all, it is not well known where they learn these powers from. Perhaps it is something in the winds and the waters of this land, whispering the arcane secrets to those who are most respective. Some instead go by the more fanciful notion that these women are just using powers innate to all people- but only by living so close to the wild, true self can one bring it out.

Of course, this arrangement has to result in courtship at some point- and it does. Men in this country notice the change in the behavior of the Women at around mid fall; where they will creep closer to his cabin and home. They will watch him in the day, while he works, and at night will leave corpses of squirrels, twisted in half, or sometimes little stacks of three stones. Regardless of the gift, her consistency shows her interest. If the man is afraid of her, or if he has room for another child in his house, he will sneak out of his home one night without a weapon (suicidal in a monster infested country like this), and leave things up to nature. He will come home the same night; and during early to mid spring, a child may be left outside his door. There's no way to know if they are truly his, but the women in the trees are not flippant; they will never court a male that has just moved in to a place- and no unwanted child is left in those woods by accident- this is the only country on earth where leaving an unwanted child to die in the woods has a very low success rate. Any man who abandons a child given to him by a lady here will find the child returned to his home soon after and himself with one less finger once she's made the point clear.

Nobody sees the women in the Winter. That's because they're asleep. Travelers will be advised to never make camp underneath a wiry black beehive if they see one, high in the brambles, and especially don't try to knock it down. It's more convenient to explain it that way; as long as they don't disturb the women, it doesn't matter what they think.

[Class] Squirrel Women
Max AC-
14 / Minimum Hit-Points-3

All Squirrel Women are very agile. Take whichever stat is the highest and swap it with your Dexterity, unless if your Dexterity is already the highest. Squirrel Women are incredible climbers regardless of their Dexterity. Like the Spider Climb spell is on at all times; or they can climb any tree, building, or stone face with zero difficulty. If a truly impossible thing must be climbed such as a wall of glass- assume they have the Climb Sheer Surfaces skill at the same rate / chance as a Thief twice their level.

Squirrel Women receive +1 to hit with all attacks at levels 4 and 8.

As a rule, the Squirrel Women do not wear clothes or armor, nor do they use weapons. Their claws and magic is all they truly rely on. If forced- Squirrel Women will wear clothes and make a very base effort to go around in civilized society- constantly pulling and itching and scratching and themselves in uncomfortable clothes and holding utensils and drinking cups all wrong- much preferring their fingers and hands. They can speak, but only barely, and cannot be taught to read or write.

All Squirrel Women have very long hair that is under their control. This is the first of their magic powers. Their hair is their greatest tool and asset, and is prehensile. They can use their hair like a third arm, but its as long as they are and much stronger then a normal human arm. It can hold up their entire body weight, for example. Their hair can be used as a weapon at 1d6 damage, counting as magic damage at 3rd level and higher, and dealing 1d8 damage at 6th level. If their hair gets wet, they temporarily cannot use it.

Additionally; every Squirrel Woman is gifted in the arts of magic. At levels 1, 2, 5, 7, and 9- roll on the spell table below and add that spell to the Squirrel Woman's arsenal. They can cast each spell once per day. They can teach it to someone else only through doing, as they can't read or write. The Squirrel Women can also learn standard magic user spells too- but once again, it must be taught to them, it cannot be learned from scrolls or spellbooks. For all spells besides their own, they cast them as though they were one level lower from being amateurish spellcasters.

Finally; the Squirrel Women are tied closely to the powers of nature and are wild, untamed creatures of the forests. If they ever willingly take a bath, or are forced to take one by someone else, they are drained of one level. Note that jumping into a river or fighting sharks in the ocean doesn't count as a bath, but bathing in a hot spring or noble's bathroom with soap and bubbles and all that does.

At 10th level, Squirrel Women become Tree Matrons. Older and stronger then the others; these Squirrel Women can grow in size with no loss of dexterity, and gain considerable strength. Your strength grows to a supernatural level (+3 modifier) and you may roll on the Squirrel Women spell table every winter when you hibernate- when you wake up, you learn the new spell until you've learned all of them. 

You also become a defender of a large swathe of Gerristan forest- your territory has many juvenile Squirrel Women who will aide you in daring raids on the camps of invading orcs or to put down rampaging monsters, etc. These gatherings are always temporary, can only be done once per season, and draw 2d6 Squirrel Women of 1d6 HD / level to you for a single night.

Squirrel Women Spell Table - Roll d10
[1] Beetle Carry
Summons forth a carpet of beetles that arrive in 1 turn. The beetles pack closely together and flow like a small river. They will pick up and carry any object laying on top of the soil, or gently placed on it. If anyone steps into the beetle stream quickly or throws an object among them, they'll disperse around it like a stone in a stream. Using this, it is possible to divert but not steer the great stream.

The beetles move in the direction indicated by the squirrel woman when summonsed, and will continue their march for about three hours. They can carry a nigh-infinite amount of smaller or more medium sized items, but very heavy things like boulders won't be moved at all. The beetles march and carry stuff at about a medium speed walking pace.

[2] Extinguish
Puts out fires that are pointed at or motioned towards with the caster's hands. This spell can snuff out a small angry mob's worth of torches, a large campfire, or a volley of burning arrows in flight. Causes a save or die effect in a number of Fire Elemental worth of HD equal to the caster's level or less. These HD could be from multiple elementals, or one big one. If the HD of the elemental is over the casters level, this spell cannot extinguish their flames.

[3] Turn to Wood
This spell temporarily transforms the caster into wood, either partially or wholly. If the caster level is 1 to 3, it is only a partial transformation covering 50%/75%/90% of the body respectively. If the caster is any higher level then this, the transformation goes over the whole body.

While wood, movement is slower and more difficult, but no loss of climbing ability- sneak is negatively effected because you squeak. But if you stand still, you blend in perfectly with foliage and trees at a distance.

Additionally, you gain +4 AC while made of wood. Using this spell is how most of the Squirrel Women (who don't wear armor, remember) reach their maximum AC value while in combat. While in wood form, you become flammable and take double damage from fire.

[4] Mushroom Husband
This spell requires a tall, flowering mushroom to be the focus for the casting. Upon being cast, the mushroom rapidly grows into the height and shape of a man, become a bipedal mushroom person. The mushroom person is bound to the will of the Squirrel Woman who summoned it. It has a limited, thought still nearly-person level of intelligence. Some people claim that they see a resemblance in the faces of the Mushroom Husbands in that they look like the men the Squirrel Women fancied and who have since died, but this is probably pure superstition from the outsiders of Gerrstain.

The Mushroom Husband is physically weak and slow, but very hardy. If it is chopped apart it will reform in one exploration turn from feeding off nearby decay and plant matter. It can only make attacks by succeeding on a saving throw vs spells (using the Squirrel Woman's modifiers / chance) and on failure cannot attack or fight back for the duration of a combat. The Mushroom Husband can attack with squishy fists, dealing 1d3 improvised damage.

Additionally, whenever the mushroom man is killed or hit with a blunt weapon, it releases spores. If within reach weapon range (spear, whip, etc) you take 1d2 damage. Because of this, the Mushroom Husband can be used like a walking scout or deterrent which can be used over and over again to follow someone. If the Mushroom Husband's body is burnt or killed by a fire attack, it won't reform. The Mushroom Husband lasts for 3 days before shriveling away into dust.

[5] Cursing Howl
The caster lets out a fearsome, bone-chilling howl. Anyone who hears the howl is cursed if they do not immediately begin to leave the place where the caster considers home. For the Squirrel Women, this is the entire Gerrstain forested region, since the whole land is their home. Those who consider the same place home are immune to this spell.

If those who hear the howl and do not immediately begin to leave the area, they suffer the curse. The next time they fail a saving throw, increase the damage by +1d6 they take, if damage is taken. If no damage is taken, increase the magnitude by a similar amount. Every time they fail a saving throw, the caster of this spell can get a general sense of where they are. More howls ensure a deeper curse.

[6] Isolated Wood
This spell is cast on a forest glade. If there is a dryad within a tree nearby, the dryad will become this glade's guardian. The area of this spell is roughly equal to a few minutes of brisk walking through woodland, or a large tangle of trees separated by grasslands/rocky mountains around them.

The Isolated Wood becomes a magically enchanted place. It's like a sanctuary; it becomes quiet, with no birds or loud animals to inhabitant it. The place becomes a sanctuary for the spell caster- while they are within the Isolated Wood, they can sleep safely (they are awoken if something approaches), and once per day they can cast a magic spell as though they were one level higher. They can also send their whispers out- their whispers travel like on the wings of a bird. They can whisper on a high tree branch towards somebody below and they will hear it as though it was right in their ear.

The Isolated Wood effect ends if the wood is destroyed- a forest fire being used to flush out a forest witch is not an uncommon occurrence on the borderlands.

[7] Ivy Boots
The caster grows a pair of boots made of ivy around their feet. These boots are made of plant material and are rather light, meaning they don't grant any protection from tiny biting rats or caltrops, but they have the specific effect of granting improved movement through brush and making the user immune to the slowing effect of Entangle.

Secondly; the boots grant a bonus to stealth. The stealth bonus is equal to how heavily forested or how rich in plant life the place where they step is. On stone floors or raw dirt, the effect is minor. In lightly wooded areas or on grass, it is greater. In heavy brush or while moving through tall grass the effect is very powerful and makes each step totally silent. Grant the caster the Thief Skill of Move Silently at 20%/60%/100% respectively OR just use a ruling that they cannot be heard.

[8] Talisman
To cast this spell, the caster must create a talisman out of materials gathered and crafted by themselves. It can be of any design, but is to be worn around the neck. When this talisman is being forged, the caster must imbue within it a single curse or spell that is to activate if the talisman is destroyed, disrespected, or removed without permission from the wearer. The talisman is then presented to the target (either by force or chosen willingly) to be worn- the target of the spell will always know that the talisman is magical and taking it on is a serious thing, though they won't necessarily know why. 

The first person who wears the talisman is now under its spell; anyone wearing a talisman crafted by you can be felt at quite a distance, a general idea of what is happening to them and where they are, as well as the muffled sounds of speech or blurry sights of things that can be "seen" out of the talisman, as though it be one astigmatic eye. Covering up the talisman such as hiding it in a shirt, or bundling it under heavy clothes are some ways of limiting the caster's watchful eye.

The Women of Gerrstain hang talismans on the doors of men they fancy, usually after offering several shredded birds or skinned lizards. This is considered a form of marriage, and any man wearing a talisman is off limits to any other Squirrel Woman. At the same time, the man wearing this talisman must go about their life knowing that removing it will mean whatever curse the squirrel women has put on it will befall them; and since they will know if the talisman is destroyed or removed it will probably make her very angry as well.

[9] Brush Bandages
Requires handfuls of plant matter from a woodland or forest. These plants are then wrapped around wounds and injuries with a special spell; this requires at least two turns to cast. This spells heals 3d6 Hit Points and temporarily reduces Dexterity by the same value as the body stiffens and is infested with weeds and growths. You cannot die from this loss even if it drops Dexterity to zero or less; instead you become a tree for that duration.

Every turn, the bandages are absorbed by the body and increase Dexterity by 1 until fully restored.

[10] Devil Dreaming
This spell only works on sleeping targets. Those who are asleep have this spell magically cast on them while the caster must stare at their sleeping body; in turn, the sleeper begins to have a nightmare. The nightmare will be unqiue to the sleeper, and the caster of this spell has no control over it, but the result will be a sleepness night with poor rest. Multiple nights of this spell being cast on someone can greatly reduce their health and well being, though it requires a fresh casting each night. At 3rd level, the caster may not influence the dreams of the sleeper, letting them control exactly what they see, or even sending them messages amidst the nightmare.

Additionally, if the caster of this spell is at least 5th level or higher, the spell has an additional effect. The spell-caster may form a dark spirit from the energies and fear released by the sleeper under the effect of this spell. Their nightmares made manifest. Each night this spell is cast on them, roll a 1d6 with a bonus of +1 for each great fear or phobia the caster knows about the sleeper, which are subconsciously added to the dreams of the sleeper to further harry them. Once this number reaches the victim's Wisdom score or greater; these nightmares soldify into a lesser dream devil. (As imp; 1 HD, 1d3 claws, casts spells, etc.) From then on, the dream devil can torment people in their dreams and if they fail a save, they have a level drained, while the dream devil gains +1 HD and can become a more powerful form of evil. If the devil is slain, or the person finally has good dreams, such as from sleeping in a church, the lost levels and HD are returned to normal. 

If the victim is eventually killed by this creature or commits suicide because of it, it becomes a permanent minion under the control of the caster with its HD and powers it has upon the victim's death, stealing all it can from their pathos. While under the caster's control, it will always be Chaotic Evil and refuse to obey command to those who are not constantly looking for or give the devil opportunities to hurt more people.

The Squirrel Women use this spell to punish and harass those who enter their lands or men who displease them; but rarely become powerful or sadistic enough to create dream devils. This has, in turn, become the domain of evil wizards who have taken the traditions of witchcraft from these lands and turned them to their own ends.

1 comment:

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