The Styx



Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 21 June 1999
Last Updated On 21 June 1999
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1999

The Guardian of Hell, Styx, defines the border between Hell and the rest of the Underworld. She is the Last Drop of Darkness or the First Drop of Water and is the Guardian of Mighty Oaths.

Crossing the Styx

Any HeroQuestor who travels to Hell must cross the Styx at some stage. Most cultures have access to the "Call Ferryman" spell or similar paths. Certainly, Troll, Earth, Storm, LightBringer and Lunar cults can call Jeset. The costs of crossing the Styx may differ between cultures as may the method of Summoning Jeset, nut the principle is common.

Some cults know HeroQuests which allow Questors to sail across the Styx, others can fly across or even walk across the Styx. Gerak Kag jumped across the Styx and so can his worshippers. Nikk Effingham has a HeroQuest path of Orlanth and Humakt where they swim across the Styx, but this is particularly difficult.

Touching the Styx

The Styx is a very difficult river as She is very jealous of her water. Anyone who touches the Styx without magical protection suffers a penalty, in RuneQuest I play that it costs 1 POW and 1D6 General Hit Points. Being immersed in the Styx is even worse, once again I play that this costs 1 POW, 1D10 Fatigue and 1D10 General Hit Points each round of immersion. If the character fails a CON roll he will begin to drown, swallowing a mouthful of water and losing 1D10 POW. If the character's POW is reduced to 0 it dissolves in the Styx. Vampires touching the Styx are automatically and immediately annihilated. Other undead lose 1D10 Magic Points per round until they reach 0 Magic Points and dissolve.

Taking Styx Water without permission costs 1D10 POW per drop, angers the Styx and is very difficult as the Styx naturally tries to recoil from touch.


Styx HeroQuest Spells

There are several HeroQuest Spells which are available from the Styx. These allow them to cross the Styx, to take Styx Water and to make terrible Oaths. The main Styx Spells are given below, although there are almost certainly others.

Styx Shore (HeroQuest, 5 point, Reusable)

This is a compound HeroQuest made up of the Call Ferryman (Summon Jeset) spell, the Collect Styx Water spell and the Black Oath spell. As these three tasks are the most often performed at the Styx, most cultures have this spell. Each of the three spells act as Stations on this Quest which in itself is normally a Station on other Quests.

Rather than repeat myself, I will describe each constituent spell/station and individual GMs can combine them as they see fit into the Styx Shore Quest/Spell.


Call Ferryman/Summon Jeset (HeroQuest, 3 point Reusable)

This spell must be cast on the Shores of the Styx. It brings Jeset to the shore and forces him to carry the HeroQuestors across the Styx in return for payment.

Invoked Powers The caster may cross and river or lake on a boat without being attacked by the river or its servants, but must give a gift of either 1D6 POW or a magical item to the river, dropping the gift into the water before setting off


Collect Styx Water (HeroQuest, 3 point, Reusable)

This allows the caster to collect a drop of Styx Water without the normal problems associated with collecting Styx Water.

Invoked Powers

One drop of liquid may be safely collected, even if this is normally impossible


Black Oath (HeroQuest, 3 point, Reusable)

This allows the caster to drink Styx Water and to gain an Oath Spell from this.

Invoked Powers

This allows the caster to take one drink of poison per invoking with no effect.


Styx Oath (HeroQuest, 5 point, Reusable)

This allows the caster to make a pact with one or more other people by swearing an Oath to the Styx. This is normally cast beside the Styx and each participant must drink a drop of Styx Water as part of the ritual. If the pact is ever broken by one of the participants whether willingly or unwilling then Styx will take revenge.

Each participant must sacrifice something to the Styx, for mundane Quests this would be POW and Magic Points, for special Quests this may be body parts, gifts, powers or abilities.

The Mundane punishment is a Sever Spirit of the combined POW of the participants plus the total Magic Points used when making the pact, cast a number of times equal to the POW expended in the pact. So, if two characters of POW 20 and 18 respectively cast 10 and 9 magic points each with 3 and 4 POW, breaking the pact would cause up to 7 Sever Spirits to be cast at a POW of 20 + 18 + 10 + 9 = 57.This Sever Spirit is not stopped by any defensive magic.

Non-mundane punishments may include losing POW = Magic Points expended, being attacked by Furies, being cursed never to cross water, being affected by the Styx as a Vampire is, all water being treated as Styx Water to the transgressor, losing the abilities/powers mentioned in the pact, being attacked by the powers used in the pact and so on. Normally, the punishment is specified when the pact is made so that the participants know the penalties of failure.

Ignorance is no defence for a Styx Oath. If the participants agreed never to eat the flesh of a dog and one person is given dog flesh to eat without his knowledge then the effects of the Oath will be felt.

Whatever the punishment it should be severe enough to scare even Heroes. Nobody enters into a Styx Oath lightly and only a fool would try to make a pact thinking he may survive if he breaks it.

Invoked Powers

This produces an Oath effect which if broken attacks with a Sever Spirit of the combined POW of those taking part in the Pact.

Ratifying Oaths

It is possible for one of the participants of an Oath not granted by Styx (for instance one granted by Humakt) to ratify the Oath on the Styx. He must travel to the Styx and perform the Styx Shore ritual, expending twice the POW than normal. If the Oath is broken then the Styx Oath effects are used. The other participant need not be willing and need not even know about the ratification, but the effects of the ratified Oath only takes place when the ratifier informs the other participant of the HeroQuest.

Ratifying Oaths is a Cult Secret of several cults, especially Humakt, Yanafal Tarnils, Arkat, Styx, Zorak Zoran and Ikadz. It is a closely guarded secret as the cultists do not always want people to know that their Oath may be made much more deadly through HeroQuesting.

Summary

These snippets should give GMs ideas about using the Styx for HeroQuesting. Most people will only know the Call Ferryman spell or be able to cross the Styx in other ways. However, as anyone entering Hell must cross the Styx it is necessary to have some knowledge of the spells.

Since the Styx is so deadly to Vampires, many Vivamort cultists and even Vampires try to ambush Questors travelling to the Styx, this is especially true when the Quests are from Humakt or Yanafal Tarnils who know the Collect Styx Water spell. They often have to fight many Vivamorti on the way, often including HeroQuesting Vampires which are terrible foes to face.

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