Archive for March 19, 2018

Oops! Someone opened the wrong egg…

© 2018 G.N. Jacobs

Excerpted from the journals of Stephor the Seeker:

It was a night of bloody pissed drunk. The Rainbow City, Blue Sixteen, that pub where the serving ladies tell you to hide your eyes sparking up the special order, at least so I remember. The bright blinding near white blasted through the hands covering my eyes revealing the hidden forms behind my bony digits. Mug with my ale chaser. My dagger, just in case. I saw both of these with reversed colors on the bar. And then I saw the black egg resting between my drink and blade.

When my eyes cleared of spots, the black egg remained on the oak. Someone must’ve used the distraction of my Flaming Blue Flamingo to give me something. I didn’t leave home nagging my parents into a ship and sword to avoid impeding my brother’s accession to the Big Chair with the intent of being impressively stupid about strange gifts. I swept the egg to the sawdust floor and continued telling my best jokes to Brienne the blonde. Sadly, the Lady B, as the patrons called her, carefully explained that while we could disappear somewhere her man would want to watch and then attempt to outdo me afterwards…that killed the mood faster than her kiss to the forehead.

It was in this after phase of trying to figure out how I would get back to my ship without waving a red flag for the usual thugs inhabiting port cities that Lady B tossed a coin to the innkeeper instructing that I should land facedown over a chamber pot in a room upstairs. In so doing, she knelt down to find the black egg that I had so casually dismissed cracked open…

Editor’s Note:

I will stop the first person narrative here what with the legendary Stephor the Seeker about to spend the rest of the evening in the self-induced misery of being loaded to the eyeballs and paying off that karma at a vastly accelerated rate. The journals become more coherent the next afternoon to reveal what lay inside the black egg.

Other sources from that time reveal that the Rainbow City, a fabulous magical city with easy portals to nearly everywhere, nearly wrecked its entire Blue Section in a succession of disasters seemingly man made or natural but for being too far away from the regions where such phenomenon can be expected. A storm roughly equivalent to what Maine lobstermen might name Nor’easter blasted the three-square blocks around the pub. Six trolls seemingly appeared from other dimensions stepping carefully through imaginary doors in side alleys that no wizard ever replicated. And then there was the dragon as the end of level boss fight.

With each new inflicted terror, either Stephor or one of the other sources had found a black egg that was then cracked open. The shards of the previously cracked egg had disappeared when the new black egg appeared. All told the journals relate ten seemingly random destructive events that were finally curtailed when the shells were ground into fine powder and burned destroying the curse. Or just killed off a pernicious monster in its own right. Hard to say what happened.

Stephor entrusted me with his story when we’d met on the Los Angeles leg of his mission to find a lady with a certain necklace. He got one look at my all in one printer and started running off copies of four years of adventures for my benefit. I’d told him that I made my living telling stories, including repackaging unbelievable truths as fictions, and he knew he had the way to honor our first meeting when he was a child. He also put me on his Rainbow City library card as plus one knowing I would want additional sources for the wonders contained in his copied pages…like the black egg that I facetiously named the Noir Easter.

My research with the Rainbow City Library using Stephor’s card showed that black eggs show up across the multiverse mostly in places where magic provides shortcuts to science. Terrible and extraordinary events occur immediately upon cracking open the egg. One landed in the Sixth Ring of the Golden City and took out four blocks. The first of many appearances of the great storm much like Nor’easters once the rescue team swept up finding the cracked black shell. Because of this high correlation with storms unleashed in this manner, the resemblance to an Easter egg, this is how I came to name this phenomenon Noir Easter. Even serious research needs a few puns.

Was the Noir Easter a magical shell unleashing anything that had been locked inside waiting for a modern day Pandora to make French toast? Was the Noir Easter a sentient being, a monster that changed itself into the form most likely to amuse it laying waste to whole cities? Frankly, having followed up the additional sources the answer is elusive where perhaps both statements are true.

Wizards and scholars reporting back to the Library have stated that sometimes the Noir Easter can be appeased and propitiated with tender caresses or leaving the remains of the evening’s sandwich so the egg or the monster inside could feed. In some cases, the eggshell had strengthened with the offered food that nothing happened, even when the egg dropped from a great height. Such effects always proved temporary as the storm and plague of monsters that should’ve defined far off and therefore legendary merely waited a few days.

So for the benefit of my fellow game masters and authors who perhaps don’t have access to the Rainbow City Library, it is time to set down the parameters of what the Noir Easter could be. I think that, yes, the egg is in fact alive, but that it also makes agreements with other kinds of monsters to protect them when facing extinction in the home range until a gullible sentient (usually a human) can be enticed like Pandora to crack it.

The great storm appears to be the first form of the egg itself. That it releases itself from the small space in the egg as a sentient storm perhaps taking the form of a triumvirate of elementals: water, air and fire (providing the underlying energy of great storms). Then the many and varied monsters that come after the storm are either the creatures given a lift from elsewhere to the new range, or could be further manifestations of the Noir Easter itself. The wizards involved can’t agree, but they do agree that the mayhem ends when the shells are powdered and burned.

Luckily, for those of us that live in low magic realms the Noir Easter is just a fable to be ruthlessly exploited at the gaming table or in print for the temporary terror of our readers and players. Since the Noir Easter can either be anything or hide nearly anything in the various monster books for your favorite system, I will include a non-inclusive list of devastation to give the GM/author a quick goose to the imagination to tailor the fun and mayhem. Oh, yes, and my usual loosey-goosey suggestions as to the combat stats of the thing (assuming it’s alive).

1. Orcs, Vorgons and Goblins. The egg unleashes a number of pissed off humanoids roughly equivalent to the amount of hit points in the party. A warm up fight.

2. Trolls. Now the egg gets nasty transforming into a pack of trolls equal to three times the hit points of the whole party.

3. More trolls or giants. Mayhem equivalent to four times the hit points in the whole party.

4. Medusas, sirens and sirdusas. This one waits until the party makes it back to town and springs the leggy female upon them when they least expect it in the tavern – “buy me a drink kind, Sir.”

5. An even bigger storm. Perhaps the Noir Easter wasn’t finished leveling whole neighborhoods and just has to come back for more…

6. The dragon. Draw up a narratively appropriate dragon, wyrm, draco-bear or anything similar and get busy.

Of course, the individual DM/GM and author has complete freedom to expand these six choices into ten choices, twenty choices or even a hundred (a lot of work creating that D100 table, but…). I suggest that in its native egg state the Noir Easter whether whole or cracked should be able to survive at least thirty hit points of damage with resistance up to at least leather armor. And allow for random occurrences of “feed it and try to make friends.” There that covers that stats and rules geekery.

And if you should ask how in the real world one comes up with Noir Easter. I was loaded at a bar and I found a black plastic Easter egg, so not far off from what Stephor asserted in his journals. I’m a professional at this…until next time.

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