Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Metal Scorpion, With A Winding Screw Protruding From Its Back

Fortune Card: The Smith, Reversed - Evil Effort

It's not a clockwork assassin bug, although it has killed people. It is called an Augur Bug, a divination tool that writes its answers in the sand. The truths it produces often lead to violent action. The first of these metallic arthropods came from the realm of Merryflag - "the realm where it is against the law not to avenge a slight or insult" (Playing Guide, p. 25). Recently, certain disreputable members of the Scratch and Smith families of Everway have begun to corner the market on the manufacture of these devices.

Mechanics (Literally):  Once the querent poses their question, the scorpion will write its answer in the sand. To use the scorpion, someone must first summon and bottle a spirit (Magic: Air 4) inside the metal scorpion, also known as an Augur Bug. Then, one winds the Spite Auger on the scorpion's back until it rends the spirit's flesh. You will know when that is, because the scorpion's tail will cock itself into a deadly curl. Quickly, carefully, drop the Bug onto a divinatory sand table before the Bug starts to move its limbs. If you are not careful, you could loose a finger - the legs jerk into motion suddenly and are very sharp. Don't even ask what happens if the tail stinger pierces flesh (Poison: Strength 4, Effect: feverish visions of betrayal)!

  1. What kind of spirits does the Spherewalker collect to feed to the Augur Bug? Where are these spirits gathered?
  2. What was the last question posed to the Augur Bug? Who asked it?
  3. What price did the Spherewalker demand for its use?
What are your answers?


  1. 1) The spirit collected must be local to the subject of the question. Must be intelligent enough for communication, but not too intelligent as it would become too dangerous in the Auger.

    2) A village bought the services of a Spherewalker to determine why their children were going missing.

    3) The Spherewalker demanded room and board for a month in preparation (to build, and set the spirit trap, all of the materials required for the spirit trap and divination table, and the right to choose one of their remain young to take as a slave/servant/apprentice, who may one day become her successor.

  2. Jonathan, excellent points in #1 above. Local will be more useful, and not too smart/not too powerful is key, since the spirit is being tortured for information.

  3. I like this. Clockwork geomancy. One point though--it is not necessary and rarely desirable (long-term) to torture spirits for information/services rendered. The grimoires that insist/propagate this approach are clunky artifacts of an adversarial mind-set that supplanted earlier, more cooperative approaches. Some spirits might well be enticed to enter into a well-made structure in order to gain status, attention, energy or to enter into a relationship with another being. These clockwork creatures could spark something of a revolution among those immersed in the older, harsher approach and those finding their results via a more engaging, elegant, constructive, even cooperative method. That could lead to some interesting scenarios...

  4. Hi Jim, these are very good points and well-taken. The Spherewalker who uses these devices is also creating a lot of bad karma for themselves. I can imaging spirits could also be enticed to reside within such devices because they also reduce banality/ennui for the spirit by offering new experiences. I like the idea of a revolution that restores the old ways...

  5. This is a great plot-driving mechanism. I was thinking of how it paralleled the Spirit Houses that can be found in parts of Thailand, or Babylonian 'demon bowls.' you can also find some intriguing tid-bits in The Secret Commonwealth...hope that helps.

    Oh, and the geomancy mention previously was intentional. Since these scorpions write their answers in the sand. The sixteen figures in Western geomancy might be of interest. We have some geomancy tables for Wermspittle, but they haven't gone up on the blog yet--we were thinking of saving them for a PDF instead.


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