Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Vault of the Dao

(75 - 80)

 Dao love gloom and the beauty of huge masses of worked stone. They like sculpture but loath painting and fresco’s, as well as any material that pretends to be what it is not. They can tunnel through both stone and soil but not worked stone. The greater the mass of masonry around them, the safer they feel (from other Dao).

The least of the Dao has the capacity to match the greatest of human architects. Yet they belong to an aristocratic culture that denigrates useful work. Any Dao that built their own maze would be mocked by others. The building must be done by slaves. Status can only be displayed through non-functional work.

Dao are the only monster pleased to see you pass through their dungeon, they rarely get the chance to question anyone about its effectiveness. They may request ideas from you* for improving the dungeon you just got through to meet them. The mazeworks are like riddles, if everyone can understand them then they are worthless, if no-one can then the same is true. Only the right kind of person can pass through.

Two schools of architecture exist. The first, Umbral, regards the placement of massy shadows of prime importance and arranges all stonework to produce precise gradations of shadow and depth.

The second, the Lithic, regards the placement of shadowed mass to be the true path to beauty and arranges all shadows to highlight masses and arrangements of stone.

Few but the Dao can tell the difference between the two schools, though they loath each other.

“You may call me..”

Shaker of
All Knowledge
Omnipotent Dream
The Quaking Earth
Timeless Lumitor
Sleeping Stone
Prince Tectonic
Continental Grind
Lord Sedimentary
The Flawless Fault
Igneous Composer
The Mountains Heart

Amusements of the Dao

1. Smashing in thier vaulted roof, slowing it in time, having chained-up poets scribe the falling stone.
2. Naked girls in golden cages locked 1001 times. Each good story earns a key.
3. Tattooing children’s backs with idle thoughts, making them run around till sentences form.
4. Collected court of clerics of each god, Dao converts to new religion every hour.
5. Archean orchestra on toxic instruments, so slow it plays one note each hour.
6. Forcing scholars to debate the merits of a grain of sand. Winner rewarded, loser killed.

Opulence of the Dao

1. Slaves wave slow pennants of black velvet in their shadowed wake to intensify their gloomy majesty.
2. Kebabs on silver skewers which they use to pick their teeth, then throw away.
3. A ticking harem of clockwork courtesans in polished ebony and blazing gold.
4. Evert stone and tool and fold of cloth enchanted to whisper their praises with each move, the air fills with a susurrus of quiet adoration.
5. Zoo of surface animals kept petrified when not in use. Awakened and re-petrified with insanely expensive potions sprayed from golden tubes.
6. Lamps are petty elementals bound in silvered skulls of elves.

In their endlessly-rebuilt palaces deep beneath the earth, the Dao are often troubled by strange dreams. Explaining the troubling dream in an effective way, without inadvertently insulting the Dao, can vastly raise you in their esteem

Strange Dreams Of The Dao

1. “I stand upon a yellow shore. A silver ship burns. A survivor turns to me and smiles. ‘Is this ever acceptable?’ he asks.”
2. “I am a Lion (which I know is good) and eat a ghoul (which is bad). I taste cinnamon and sleep for seven days.”
3. “A city of glass and shadow. I wait. The dawn comes, but not the dawn star. Why?”
4. “I am speaking to a giant that crawls around my house tying knots in my columns and doors, the giant whispers names I cannot hear.”
5. “I crystallise, memoryless, in the magma chamber under the hill. It will not let me out.”
6. “I am a souk in the City of Brass, merchants trade in my veins, thieving children run across my golden heart, yet I protect them.”

Intervening in the murderous and easily-triggered rages of the Dao can be deadly, so can not intervening in them.

Petulant Rages of the Dao

1. Constructions of anything but stone. The existence of ‘plaster’ and ‘wall-paper’ Dao has never seen them but hates them.
2. “There is a forged coin somewhere in this room. Find it! By the stones of the abyss you will bleed fire till it is found!”
3. “You Efreeti Fuck!” Dao thinks the fire in a lamp is laughing at them. Hunts and smashes lamps, lights and flames till it is found.
4. Dao convinced reflection in a particular pearl exhibits a single flaw. Curses pearls, casts them aside then hunts through them, demands larger and larger pearls.
5. Dao stricken by violent self-loathing over inferiority of own mazework. Belives counter-arguments proof of secret contempt.
6. Universal and malignant incompetence of inferiors. Demands your agreement then turns on you. Demands agreement of others re – your worthlessness, then turns on them.

Dao wear rings of iron with a high level adventurer bound within each one for a certain number of services. This is the prison of the Dao. The captives age slowly in the iron cells inside the ring and may die of old age before their deeds are done.

They love beauty but only bound. Free beauty is nothing to them, but lock it in an object or trade it as a service and they love it.

Treasures Traded by the Dao

1. An iron ring that holds a hero’s soul. Bound for seven services.
2. A pet fire elemental which will serve you so long as its golden chain is linked.
3. An eye of Lapis Lazuli which terrifies the spirits of the earth. (Must remove own eye first.)
4. A functioning phylactery which you may bind to you with blood.
5. A Serpentinite torc that becomes a venom’d sword at your command.
6. On a book of sliver-thin slate, the means to make golems of stone.

And Their Demands

1. “Illithid-blood ink for my poetry, and quickly, before the muse passes!”
2. “My weight in gold, or holy bone, or both.”
3. Delivery of this (sexually degrading) letter to a Medusa, and its reply.
4. “A powerful cleric of Lloth, alive and willing. I have questions.”
5. “I owe a Knotsman, this offends me. Have him forgive the debt.”
6. “Kill this Efreeti that mocks me so I might etch poems on his burning heart.”

*Often with a multiple choice form

1 comment:

  1. They may request ideas form you for improving the dungeon you just got through to meet them.

    I assume this is a typo, but perhaps they do hand over a slate and chalk with a set of questions about their experience in the maze...