The Rejuvenation Pit

The magical doodad in this one involves age reversal. You can pick up some penalties if you sacrifice too many people to the pit and get yourself bumped down to fifteen years old. This immediately begs the question: Why can’t you get stat bonuses for going from 30s or 40s back to your 20s? How come there’s penalties for messing up, but no benefits for actually using the pit correctly? The answer is that characters who are already in their 20s would be unable to get those bonuses, which would be unfairly penalizing them, because it’s not like they got more characteristics at chargen or anything.

Additionally, I expect few parties will end up stumbling into the penalties, whereas many parties would figure out how to get themselves the bonuses. This means that characteristic bonuses could be had for the low price of snuffing a few Chaos sorcerers, which would benefit people who rely on those characteristics a lot (like melee builds) while being barely noticeable to people who don’t tend to use them in the first place (like ranged builds, face builds, psyker builds – anyone for whom being in melee means something has gone horribly wrong, and 5 extra points of Toughness and Strength won’t change that). It’s not like it’s a short-lived bonus, or one that requires a lot of effort to acquire.

Summary: A reclusive trio of Chaos sorcerers hide out in a small castle here, using sorcery and Chaos sacrifices to remain young for over a century. Their thirsty Chaos rituals require frequent sacrifices, so whenever anyone stumbles into their abode, they’re always eager to make sure that person stays long enough to have the life sucked out of them.

Discovery: The castle is small, but easily visible even from a fair distance, as it juts up through the canopy of the light jungle surrounding it.

Exploration: The three Chaos sorcerers are quite welcoming, and immediately offer hospitality to any travelers. Indeed, they insist that anyone who makes themselves known to the castle’s inhabitants peaceably stay the night, a request which might range from friendly and sensible if it is late to unusually clingy if it is still early in the morning (something which is likely to happen only if the characters have arrived in a vehicle capable of covering multiple hexes a day or if they have for some reason intentionally camped out in the woods and waited for morning to approach the castle).

If the characters do not wish to stay the night, the Chaos sorcerers will claim that their castle has rejuvenative properties, and that staying here can permanently improve the health of those who do so. It is a Difficult(-10) Insight check to determine that they are lying (technically telling a half-truth – the castle does have rejuvenative properties of a sort, which the sorcerers intend to use to siphon life out of the characters for themselves). A Challenging(+0) Psyniscience check (made at any time in or near the castle, whether in response to the sorcerers’ claim or not) will reveal that there is indeed some Warp juju somewhere near the foundations.

If the characters insist on leaving, the sorcerers will not attempt to stop them. Strangers wandering through dangerous wilderness may themselves be dangerous, and these sorcerers aren’t interested in deadly prey when they can just nip off to the river villages and abduct some helpless locals instead. Though eager to convince the characters to stay and save themselves a trip and the trouble of evading the Red Guard, their lives aren’t on the line and they won’t take potentially lethal action against the characters.

For the same reason, if the characters post a watch and the sorcerers are uncertain of their ability to overpower that watch, they’ll leave the characters be and see them on their way in the morning (still asserting that they are surely healthier than when they arrived if they claimed the castle could rejuvenate them, though there is no actual effect). If the characters post only a single character to the watch, then one of the sorcerers will enter the room at night and use the Dominate power with the command “come.” If the character follows the sorcerer out the door (either because they’ve been dominated, they’re playing along pretending to be dominated, or maybe if they’re foolish enough to mistake the “come” for a friendly invitation and leave their post without asking questions), the other two will enter the room and attempt to use the Puppet Master power to command characters to follow them down to the ritual room. In the castle cellar is a large pit filled with bubbling red liquid. Puppeted characters will be instructed to descend into the liquid. As it doesn’t take a master of heretical lore to realize this may be fatal, puppeted characters are entitled to the usual Challenging(+0) Opposed Willpower test to try and break free of the control.

While the sleeping party members are being puppeted down to the cellar, the sorcerer who dominated the watch will play the domination off like a trick of the character’s sleep deprived mind and stall for time by bringing the dominated character to a fake ritual room, a bathhouse full of incense. The invigorating fumes from this natural spring are the source of the castle’s rejuvenating power, the sorcerer will claim (even if the sorcerers had not yet claimed the castle had such power), and the sorcerer did not want the character standing watch to be denied their effects by virtue of his post. If the character ignores these excuses and tries to leave, the sorcerer will either attack with his telekinesis powers or, if the characters is heavily armed, attempt to puppet the character into the real ritual room with the others.

Confrontation: If a fight breaks out outside the ritual room (either as a result of the sorcerers’ suspicious actions or if the characters just decide to kill them on principle because they’re servants of Chaos or just want their castle) and the sorcerers do not have the characters present outnumbered, they will attempt to retreat to their ritual room (with the exception of the sorcerer who dominated a night watchman, who may attack to prevent him from warning his allies if he thinks he can win, as described above). Likewise, a critically wounded sorcerer will flee to the ritual room, and at that moment any sorcerers remaining in the fight will reassess whether they still outnumber the characters when choosing whether to continue fighting or flee. The sorcerers will not give up their ritual room, and will instead fight to the death if cornered inside it. If the sorcerers end up winning a confrontation, they will take characters incapacitated by critical wounds down to the ritual room to dump them in the fluid.

Any character who descends into the red liquid takes 1d10+5 energy damage every round they are in the fluid. This damage ignores armour, but not other sources of damage reduction like T bonus, and if it does critical damage, it does that damage to all bodyparts simultaneously. Every round a character survives in the liquid, they may make another attempt to throw off the puppeting power if they haven’t already. Otherwise, they can attempt an Ordinary(+10) Athletics check to climb up the slippery sides of the vat.

Any character who reaches 10 critical wounds in the vat is completely dissolved (characters who reach fatal amounts of critical wounds are still killed, but will need more damage to finish dissolving). This heals 1d5 wounds of everyone currently inside the castle, and reverses the aging of anyone present in the castle, splitting up the remaining years of life of the sacrifice between every living person left inside. This is based on the current vitality of the character, not taking into account things like the probability of future chemical rejuvenation treatments which keep the average Imperial upper class alive for 300-400 years. As such, a single sacrifice of someone in their 20s is unlikely to give more than 40-50 years, and a sacrifice of someone who either is actually in their 30s or 40s or who, thanks to rejuvenation treatments, has the vitality of same, is probably going to give no more than 20-30 years. Bear in mind these years are split among the living inhabitants of the castle, so reversing 40 years of aging split among a party of four would reverse their aging by ten years each (assuming all of the sorcerers are already dead, otherwise the years would be split between them as well). Everyone who benefits from this sacrifice must make a Challenging(+0) Willpower save or take 1d5 points of Insanity. If the character intentionally shoved the victim into the vat or helped keep them inside while it consumed them, they take 1d5 points of Corruption instead.

This age reversal can reverse people into adolescence (about 14-16 or so), which damages S and T by 2d10 each, to a minimum of 20, into childhood (about 8-13 or so), which damages S, T, WS, and AG by 2d10 as limb shortening becomes a serious problem, to a minimum of 10, and caps all four of those characteristics at 25, and even to age seven or younger, which causes an additional 1d10 damage to S, T, WS, and AG, to the same minimum of 10, and with the characteristic cap now at 20. Additionally, characters reversed to age three or younger are effectively retired from play no matter what characteristics they rely on or how much they have to lose, and those who are reversed to a negative age shrivel up into a fetus and die pretty much immediately. In addition to stat penalties, characters may also face serious social stigma if they have been reversed into childhood. They still retain their adult temperament, skills, and mental and perceptory characteristics, so some archetypes (i.e. psykers) may not have to care. For most, however, being reversed younger than seventeen calls for the character to be retired.

Characters wishing to destroy the rejuvenation pit can make a Difficult(-10) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check to find out how: Dumping decayed corpses in will sap the pit of its rejuvenating powers, and a few dozen skeletons will destroy it completely. A Challenging(+0) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check will reveal how the pit works if the characters never see it in action.

Rewards: The castle itself may be a useful stronghold, and unless the characters go out of their way to destroy it, the pit in the cellar will retain its rejuvenating abilities. While this has little utility in the timeframe of the hexcrawl itself (except maybe as an amusing way to incapacitate troublesome captives), it also represents dramatic life extension, far beyond the effects of normal chemical rejuvenation, for anyone who controls it long term. For characters who can find some way to keep Corruption at bay, it could even be used indefinitely. As such, particularly for characters who are Chaos-aligned or extremely radical Inquisition aligned, this castle could potentially represent one of the biggest prizes in the hexcrawl despite its lack of immediate utility.

The sorcerers themselves could also be talked into aligning themselves with the characters. The ringleader has a cautious personality (see below), and the other two have submissive personalities (they are quite scared of dying). All of them have a chilly 25 Disposition regardless of the characters’ alignment, though they do not especially mind if one or more of their number is killed before negotiations. They have sworn to help one another, but adhere to that pact mainly out of pragmatism: It would be dangerous to set a precedent of treachery, because then a dagger might end up in their own back one day, and as they all three plan to be immortal, “one day” is going to be very soon relative to their planned total lifespan no matter how long it actually takes to happen. They are quite cautious and dislike taking any risks. Any attempts to convince them to do anything dangerous, especially anything that requires journeying outside their castle, take a -30 penalty. Despite these drawbacks, they are all quite powerful

Cautious personality:

Skill Modifier Effect
Charm +0 +5 x DoS
Command +10 +10 x DoS
Deceive -20 -10 x DoF
Inquiry -10 -5 x DoF
Intimidate +10 -5 x DoF
Scrutiny +0 N/A

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