Lost Chapter #23

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                                *   *
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                          *               *
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                      *    THE ADVENTURERS    *
                    *                           *
                      *     Lost Tales...     *
                        *                   *
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                                *   *

*    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      *
*  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  *
*  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      *
*  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  *
*  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    *
*  way, shape, or form.                                             *
*    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    *
*  right 1991-8 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons   *
*  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  *
*  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   *
*  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    *
*  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         *
*                                                                   *
*                                  Thomas Miller                    *
*                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   *
*  immaterial wispy thing                                           *
*  Date:        10/31/574 C.Y. (Common Year)                        *
*  Time:        inconsequential                                     *
*  Place:       the Ethereal Plane                                  *
*  Climate:     none                                                *
*  "Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then          *
*   suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath.  At night,      *
*   the ice weasels come."                                          *
*                                                 - Matt Groening   *

                      XXIII.  A Wisp Adrift

  As time and space twisted around it, the wispy thing rode the
storm out calmly, as one might expect from a being with neither
cares nor worries.  Inherently a thing of magic, the wisp had
just been shunted from Prime Material existence when its mortal
companions had sailed into an anti-magic zone.  Now, the wisp
was drifting through the Ethereal plane again - a place it hadn't
been in ages.
  Of course, the wisp didn't _know_ that it hadn't visited this
plane in a long while.  It wasn't capable of rational thought,
despite what some people suspected.  At best, it was only semi-
intelligent, rather like a smart animal.  It had a rudimentary
language of twenty or perhaps thirty monosyllabic "words" which
it formed by uttering different sounds.  Still, those who it was
around seemed to think that it was their mental equal, which
just wasn't true.  The wisp was clever without being cerebral,
cunning without being intelligent.  While virtually every other
being in existence thrived on something tangible - food, power,
blood, souls, or whatnot - the wispy thing thrived on simple
curiosity.  It craved experience, without knowing or caring why.
Its lot in life was to drift from place to place, watching and
only occasionally acting.
  There were only limited things it could do, though.  Utterly
immaterial, the wisp could not be touched, harmed, or affected
by any physical force it had yet encountered.  Weapon-blows,
wizard-spells, dragon-breath - all were as nothing to it.  The
recent repelling by the worldly island's anti-magic zone was
the first and only time the wisp had ever been defied...and by
that, the small one had been made more curious than ever, though
somewhat uncomfortable.
  It (or he - for some reason, the mortals in the wisp's recent
experience had taken to referring to it as a "he") had never
remained in one place for long, but it had also never remained
with one worldly, mortal "master" for long either.  Until, that
is, the tall, lean, nasty elf in the red cloak.  For some strange
reason, the wisp was attracted to that elf.  It wasn't the kind
of attraction mortals experienced, or even the kind of attraction
that a faithful dog has for its master (though the second one was
closer.)  The elf spoke and acted, and his words and actions had
consequences, and for whatever reason, the wisp enjoyed watching
such dramas play out.  Occasionally, it had even contributed;
there were certain beings, among them banshees and demons, that
the wispy thing could influence, repel, or possess.  Such deeds
on the part of the wisp were few and far-between, but they were
  Before "finding" the red-cloaked elf who had been giving it so
much amusement of late, the wisp had followed other mortals along
the course of their lives.  Some it had stayed with for years;
others it had left within hours.  Nothing was predictable, and
if people could see the places the wisp had been and the things
it had seen, they would have stood in awe.
  Once, the wisp had hovered over a barren field as total battle
raged below, thousands of warriors colliding with each other,
spears and swords and arrows dispatching gory death at every turn.
Mortals of that world knew that conflict as a pivotal point in
their history - and the wispy thing had been there.  Another time,
the wisp had followed an ill-fated band of adventurers as they
ventured into Hell itself.  While the devils there had defeated
and tormented the foolish mortals with ease, they had held no sway
over the wisp, try as they might.
  Yet another time, the wisp had stood (floated) by and watched
calmly as a great typhoon swept in from the ocean and annihilated
an entire coastal civilization, the great deluge of churning water
wiping out everything that stood before, leaving only wreckage and
puddles.  Such was the wrath of an angry god, and the wisp had
been privy to the fantastic and terrible sight.  Not long after
that, the immaterial one had discovered a great and terrible one
to watch, a warlock of fearsome power.  The warlock had tried to
learn the wisp's true nature - tried and failed.  On some basic
level, the wisp knew this, and was muchly amused.  Eventually,
the warlock went head-to-head with a demon lord and was wiped from
existence...and on the wisp flew, ever-searching for the next
  Such thrills came in all shapes and sizes.  The wisp had once
sailed through a city ravaged by a deadly plague, watching the
mortals perish by the score.  Some, before dying, had thought the
wisp a death god, come to claim the souls from their failing bodies.
In another time and place, the wisp had witnessed the miracles
worked by a true and holy saint, upon a populace of commoners.
The two events had about the same impact upon the wisp:  they were
interesting, no more, no less.
  Of course, these were just a handful of its experiences.  After
all, the wisp had been around for millennia...floating...watching...
grinning its nonsensical toothy grin.  It had spanned worlds and
planes, crossed dimensions, seen great glories and terrible evils.
Not strictly evil or good itself, the wisp was beyond such simple
classifications.  Though the red-cloaked elf had discovered it in
a place that reeked of evil, that was mere happenstance, a casual
frivolty, a divine trick perhaps.  The wisp was no demon, and if
the truth be told, it could just as easily affect angels as demons.
It was a powerful force disguised in a flippant form - a form not
fully capable of understanding its true potential.
  Had the wisp possessed true intelligence, it might have thought
and reasoned and eventually questioned its reason for being.  The
query would not have met with any success, for none save the sole
and unique power that created the wisp knew that answer.  Suffice
it to say that the wisp was akin to a forgotten accident from a
distant plane of existence.  Then again, most accidents didn't fly
around between planes and worlds spouting weird sounds as they
followed mortals around happily.
  Yes, better for the elf and his henchpeople and their friends
to all think of the wisp as some kind of idiot savant.  The truth
was beyond their comprehension anyway.
  With an immaterial smirk and a playful flip, the wisp set out
into the Ethereal Plane, content to breeze along until it found a
world - and some new mortals - to join, beginning the cycle yet

next:      the iron dwarf!
ftp:       ftp.myths.com in /pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
           ftp.intertex.net in /pub/users/zac/rpg/adventurers/
www:       http://www.myths.com/pub/rpg/stories/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv/adv.html
mail:      tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu       (preferred)
           thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu         (emergency)
notes:     At last, I've written a story without a single uttered
  word!  This story was a challenge, because I wanted to reveal
  _something_ about the wispy thing, without revealing too much.
  The result was more of an essay than a story, but it's all I have
  to give you right now.
    I can say that the final two lost tales (iron dwarf and Whisper)
  will feature full-fledged origins.

    Here is a summary of the wispy thing's momentous moments:

  epi   game date    location

  114    2/24/572    Forgotten City of the Sueloise
                       (Belphanior found the strange coin)
  118    2/28/572    Forgotten City dungeons
                       (appeared after coin was "used")
  121    6/ 1/572    revealed itself to party
  201?               first spoke
  225    9/19/574    Lao Khan's isle (disappeared)
  474    5/ 7/576    Helgate (reappeared)

    Here is a basic monster sheet (in 2nd edition format) for the
  wispy thing:


wispy thing

Climate/Terrain:          any (Ethereal Plane)
Frequency:                Unique
Organization:             solitary until it attaches itself to
                          a mortal or mortals
Activity Cycle:           never rests
Diet:                     none
Intelligence:             Semi- (4)
Treasure:                 none
Alignment:                Neutral
# Appearing:              1
Armor Class:              see below
Movement:                 up to 24" (flying - maneuverability class A)
HD:                       1 hp
THAC0:                    none
# Attacks:                0
Damage/Attack:            0
Special Attacks:          possession
Special Defenses:         intangibility
Magic Resistance:         see below
Size:                     S (1' long on a good day)
Morale:                   Fearless (20)
XP Value:                 none

  The wispy thing does not fight.  It cannot be touched by any
physical force or spell.  Psionics, ESP, illusions, etc. do not
affect it.  It is not undead and cannot be turned.  It can,
however, be sent back to the Ethereal Plane if caught within a
dead magic zone.  Dispel Magic spells do not affect it unless
cast by a divine power.
  If the wispy thing chooses to (and it usually does) it can
"follow" teleport spells cast upon a person or group.  The exact
nature of this ability remains a mystery.
  Through some unknown magical power, the wispy thing can possess
certain beings, included but not limited to demons, devils, and
semi-material undead such as ghosts and banshees.  When within
such a host, the wispy thing has access to (if not understanding
of) that being's entire range of physical powers.  It cannot use
any special powers that require rational thought from the host.

  The wispy thing roams the Ethereal Plane until it chooses to
enter any bordering plane.  It is fully capable of plane travel
though it does not quite understand what that entails.  The wispy
thing cannot in any way make other beings or matter immaterial,
nor can it transport them between planes with it.
  Incapable of influencing people or events directly, the wisp
thrives on watching and "helping" others take action.  If it finds
someone who provides it with particularly entertaining adventures,
it is likely to remain with that person or group for a long time.

  The wispy thing neither feeds nor sleeps.  It is a semi-sentient
force whose sole purpose is to have no purpose.  It has been around
for at least three millennia.


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