Spoilers Ahead, GMs Only
Bonus web content for The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady
Player characters who temporarily take the gibbering descriptor see things in a different way. Change how you describe things, just for them. For example, if the group walks down a metalic corridor, tell your gibberers, “You see your faces reflected in the walls, but where your eyes should be are just pools of emptyness, as if a great void lives just behind your face.”
Don’t forget to print out the descriptor handout on page 67 and give it to your gibbering players.
When gibbering murkens meet gibbering PCs, play it like those scenes in zombie movies where the protagonists nervously walk through a mass of zombies who exude menace. Just like in the movies, once the spell is broken, all the murkens turn at once.
Remember, other PCs in a group with gibbering PCs can try and fake it. See the Gibbering Murken writeup on page 54.
If you run the Suicide Detonator scene, you could have Zorta give the gibbering PCs a questioning look, then shrug. “Sorry, but you’re hanging out with a bad crowd.”
When you reach The Mind Nodes of Golthnor, pay attention to your PCs. If any has the gibbering descriptor, the scene will run differently than if none of them has it. The Child of Golthnor will not be invisible to those with the descriptor, causing those PCs to face the full Intellect attack as soon as they enter the chamber. Everyone else will be hit by the invisible effect, risking much less damage.
You can play this as a maybe real, maybe hallucination. Describe the chamber first without the Child of Golthnor. Tell everyone they feel uneasy. Then tell the gibbering PCs, “You see what others do not. Hovering over the portal…” then describe the child, including the face of Kashif. Have the face silently mouth “Help me,” in order to keep the perceptions of the two groups of PCs separate.
Tell the others “You don’t see anything at all. Your friends looks more than a little crazed at the moment.”
Run the mental attacks, depending on who can see the child. While this might seem a big detriment to the gibbering PCs, it’s really not. Eventually the normal PCs will face the visible-child mental mental attack, and the gibbering ones will have skipped the invisible one.
Feel free to use the Gibbering Descriptor elsewhere in your campaign. After all, some of us are just here for the cackling.
Golthnor and its minions have a serious eldritch horror vibe. This is no mere coincidence. I’m sure many of you noticed that Golthnor was inspired by Yog-Sothoth and the Child of Golthnor by Wilbur Whateley.
You already have a lot of Lovecraftian mind shattering mechanics built into the adventure: Intellect damage, the gibbering descriptor, and a number of mental attacks. Here is one more: Horror Mode from the Cypher System Rulebook, page 262.
Horror mode creates a feeling in escalating dread and menace by messing with the free intrusion rule. It’s not just when a player rolls a natural 1 anymore. As the doom gets closer, you keep adding to the chance the player will roll an Intrusion. First a 1-2. Then a 1-3. And so on. Here’s a little piece on Horror Mode. See the Cypher System Rulebook for more information.
Wait For It
You may be tempted to start using horror mode as soon as the players reach Bursang. Don’t. Doing so would let the cat out of the bag, pointing the eldritch finger at Golthnor before the players have a chance to figure out what’s going on.
You should use horror mode in Golthnor scenes, but not in Storm or Liluna scenes. But if you do that from the get-go, most players will quickly focus their efforts on Golthnor, and the entire Liluna plot line will be ignored.
So wait. Wait until the players reach Taming the Transdimensional. As soon as they open the door to that chamber, slap your biggest d20 on the table, 2 up, and announce that they will get a GM Intrusion not only on a 1, but on a 1 or a 2. Then use the exploring rules, incrementing every 10 minutes until they enter combat. At which point you switch to every round. Each time slap the d20 down and announce the new threshold for a free intrusion.
Horror mode in Taming the Transdimensional
On round one, any free GM Intrusions can be used to bring in the abykoses that are due on round two. Use the abykoses’ GM Intrusion for other free GM Intrusions, destroying cyphers and artifacts. (Core, page 230)
Make the abykoses’ frenzy on round three a result of a GM Intrusion on round 2. Don’t forget to add more abykoses from the rift, and blame the GM Intrusion for the new creatures as well. If the players don’t roll for a free GM Intrusion in round 2, start round 3 with a regular GM Intrusion you pay for with 2 xp.
Use Cultist of Golthnor GM Intrusions (TSB:SL, page 52) for other free intrusions, firing off their group nightmare ray.
If the PCs wake the praithian knight, decrement the horror threshold by 1.
Once the rift is closed, end horror mode for now, and drop the die back to 1.
More Horror As the Adventure Continues
Follow this model for the rest of the Golthnor encounters (except Enter Golthnor, which we’ll get to later). Most have a third round frenzy you can jump to if a PC hits the intrusion threshold. Don’t forget to use the GM Intrusions listed in the encounters and in the creature descriptions.
Whenever Golthnor’s power points go up, increment the threshold. Reset it to 0 whenever the PCs successfully complete a Golthnor encounter. It’s OK if it gets set to 1, then back up to 2 as Golthnor gains power points.
If the players are off fighting Liluna or something else and get an intrusion because of the increased threshold, tie the intrusion to Golthnor. Having a Child of Golthnor show up to make it a three way fight can really make things interesting.
When the players veer away from the Golthnor chain and you want to get them back on it, start horror mode ahead of time. Say they are off exploring and ignoring Golthnor, use the exploring a large area rules to increment the threshold.
Liluna events, including combat, do not increment the threshold. Don’t punish them for negotiation with Liluna, Storm, or Lebby, or for evacuating Bursang.
All these GM Intrusions will change the encounter balance in Golthnor’s favor. Allow players to find or be given plenty of cyphers before each encounter. They should be near or at their cypher limit before entering a horror mode encounter. If they are going down hard, let impaired and debilitated characters find rejuvinator (or other healing) cyphers within their bloody graps.
Don’t worry about horror mode for this encounter. This is the horror. Pay for your GM Intrusions with xp and enjoy the show.
The Tootsie Frootsie Man
Pinky, the Tootsie Frootsie Man (TSB: SL p. 11), is one of those NPCs some groups love, others hate. Go ahead and have him flee the party if your players don’t enjoy playing with a gleefully obvious con man.
In the blog post Channeling the Marx Brothers, we talk about how to give your characters roleplaying situations where they are supposed to behave badly. Why should players have all the fun? Watch this Marx Brothers clip to give your players a good Tootsie Frootsing.
Then once the PCs enter Bursang, spring Pinky on them. In playtest, some groups played along even though they knew they were getting fleeced. Others enjoyed arguing with him. It was part of the fun, and fun is why they play rpgs. Other groups, not so much.
If your group likes Pinky, or likes to hate Pinky, the dh’lann can be a reoccurring character, popping up all over your world, and cheerfully running scams. It’s nice to know that one constant in your world is a person who can’t be trusted.
PLAYTEST NOTE: Another playtester said: “When I GMed the Sleeping Lady, I played Tootsie Frootsie more like Peter Lorre. They’re a hilarious character either way.”
The Prisoner of Golthnor
Ar-Glish the slithik savant (TSB:SL p. 63) is found as a bound prisoner of Golthnor’s minions. You can place her anywhere you find gibbering murken, Golthnor cultists, Children of Golthnor, and so on. Ar-Glish is a good pointer back to Bursang and the surface to get the PCs involved with the earthquakes on the surface.
The party finds Ar-Glish toiling on numenera repair for Golthnor’s minions. She’s shackled with a synthsteel lock around her neck-stalk. She begs for rescue.
As the party enters the area with Ar-Glish, the slithik breaks free and gives an asset to a party member for the duration of the encounter as she slithers around, getting in the way of the PC’s foes.
Ar-Glish was one of the slithiks in Mor-Klish’s ill-fated investigation into the problems of the numenera mine. She and The Dice Never Lie know each other, and are embarrassed that both shared the same secret. It seemed so important back then, when they were cheating Mor-Klish by selling off numenera on the black market. Now it seems petty.
Ar-Glish is no warrior. She’ll plead for an escort back to Bursang. If the party agrees, she’ll reward them with one cypher each once they reach town.
If she is left to try and find her way home by herself, she won’t make it. The PCs stumble upon her corpse later in the adventure.
If the party won’t escort her but The Dice Never Lie is with the party, the synite will escort Ar-Glish back to Bursang. They’ll both make it, but there will be no cypher reward for the PCs and The Dice Never Lie won’t be assisting the party unless they eventually return to Bursang and pick up the synite.