Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

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Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:13 am

Manscorpions in the City of Brass

In the caverns of Nimmur in the far west in Mystara, dao have enslaved some of the native scorpion-folk. Some of these hideous, transluscent-shelled albino monsters have been sold to the efreet.

And in the Bright Desert on Oerth, the efreet have enslaved scorpionfolk of the Sulm nation, fiery-eyed creatures the color of desert sand, and brought them back to their home plane.

In the City of Brass, they are protected from the full fury of the flames, and are able to survive.

There, they live gloomy lives, primarily in the Avencina district where they lurk in pitiful warrens among the wretched harginn grues when not serving their great masters elsewhere in the city, or in the Char where they are forced to work the great forges. A few are kept as exalted house servants in the grand palazzos; these seldom see the outside, but they communicate with their brothers outside through the lesser slaves of the sculleries and aquaducts.

United in hatred of the efreet and their situation, the two races of scorpion creature live as one people, worshipping in the same temples and even intermating at times. The Nimmurians, with their visible organs pulsing beneath their exoskeletons, were initially viewed in disgust by the Sulmish, but living in an cross-planar metropolis has the effect of gradually removing Prime sensibilities; in a city where baatezu and yugoloths could be seen rubbing shoulders with rukarazylls, marrashi, fihyrs, clockwork horrors, psurlons, and tso, see-through scorpionfolk didn't seem strange at all. In any case, their masters saw them both as "bugs" and seemed to see no difference between them. After a while, neither did they. When manscorpion slaves appear from more distant lands, like Zakhara and elsewhere, they too are absorbed into this same society.

The scorpionfolk subculture in the City of Brass, such as it is, is a strange hybrid of Nimmurian and Sulm cultures. Primarily they worship the Nimmurian gods: Menlil the Guide, he of the whispered promises, the mother-goddess Nin-Hurabi, mistress of the primordial darkness, and Idu, the forsaken god of the sun, bringer of the curse of transparency. Some of the faddish common efreet have also taken to worshipping Idu, a fact that makes the scorpionfolk hate their masters all the more. Some few Sulm adepts remember the ancient Sulmish deity, pictured in their crude bas-reliefs as a black spiral. The Black Spiral God is viewed as nearly as forbidden and awful as Idu, although nearly his opposite in nature, and few revere him. Finally, the Sulmish influence gives them great fear and respect for elemental spirits, which are of course a common sight in the City of Brass. More than one fire elemental has found burnt offerings left outside its lodgings.

NPCs:

Shen was once a Nimmurian scorpion-man, much the same as any other. That was before he found the ring that allowed him to brave the Plane of Fire and find the Infinite Staircase on the fiery plain outside. There, he heard, one could find the city of one's true desire.

And he did.

While the glow of the City of Brass' fiery skies do not hurt them, even moonlight can burn the thin, transparent flesh of a Nimmurian manscorpion. Still Shen braved the Stair's painful glow and found a city that he thought only existed in his imagination. It was a very ordinary place to most eyes, with lush forests, a clean river, and a central ziggurat. It was populated by ordinary humans.

And in that city, Shen was one of them. The Staircase had found the one city in the multiverse where a scorpion-man could be human. The manscorpions of Sulm were once human, according to their myths, before they were cursed by their Black Spiral God. The Nimmurians have no such myths, although they believe they once had normal exoskeletons without any vulnerability to light, and the two curses have been confused by the scorpionfolk of the City of Brass.

His idyll may not last forever, however. It seems the ring he found was the crucial component to a ritual being prepared by the scorpionfolk priests - a ritual that would enable all scorpionfolk in the City of Brass to gain immunity to fire, at least for a time. The priests believe they know where he is, but they are reluctant to follow him on the Infinite Stair - and anyway, the city is Shen's heart's desire, not theirs; they don't want to become human. So secretly, so as not to alert the efreet, they have contacted a party of planewalking adventurers, begging them to help them. The scorpion people say persuasively that they are being tyrannized by the efreet and deserve to gain any advantage they can - and they are able to offer a sizable reward, gathered painstakingly from donations begged, stolen by, and tipped to scorpionfolk for years now.

The problem? Besides the hazards of the Staircase and the xenophobic officials of the city, Shen is in complete denial. He is unwilling to admit the existence of the ring or his former nature. Sure, he remembers, but he doesn't want to, and he'll hotly turn anyone away who tries to remind him of the bad old times. He's afraid that his new life is a dream that he might wake up from. And who's to say he's wrong? The city seems to exist on no particular plane; it seems alone in a vast wilderness, with nothing to explain where its population comes from. The humans of the city deny that there is anywhere else to be from, although strangely they accepted Shen readily. Perhaps it is, after all, only a construct of Shen's desire, aided by the nature of the Infinite Staircase.

If Shen was forced to regard his former life, would the city and its surroundings disappear? And what would happen to those still within it?
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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby Azaghal » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:25 am

An excellent adventure setup, bravo! I really like the 2 differnt scorpion-man races and how they interact.
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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby Chimpman » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:14 pm

This is another hit rip! It seems like the City of Brass is really starting to shape up. When do we get to see a sourcebook? ;)
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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby Havard » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:58 pm

I like it :)

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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby Chimpman » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:15 pm

Are there canon references to scorpionfolk from any other published campaign settings? It would be really interesting to bring as many of these different cultures together as possible.
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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:15 pm

The stingers, or tlincalli, are manscorpions from Maztica who magically transported one of their cities to the Underdark beneath Amn. I don't know a lot about them, though. They're obsessed with divination and sacred geometry, and their 11 deities probably correspond to the 11 gods of the Maztican pantheon, with different names.
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Re: Scorpionfolk and the City of Brass

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:46 pm

Chimpman wrote:Are there canon references to scorpionfolk from any other published campaign settings? It would be really interesting to bring as many of these different cultures together as possible.


There are scorpionfolk in Dragon Strike. I don't think they have a specific name.
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