Dungeon hogs are a vile breed of swine raised in the underlands by all manner of subterranean races as a food source when more delectable adventurers and other surface meat isn't available. They are ill tempered and vicious, immune to poisons of all kinds, and can digest almost anything, even bones, wood, or metal. It is a well known fact that anything that winds up in their slop troughs will be completely irretrievable before long, and thus the pens of dungeon hogs are said to be good places to bury things you don't want dug up eventually. (There is one apocryphal tale of a green slime infestation overtaking a goblin swineherd's pen. There is much dispute between tellers of this tale as to whether the slimes were digesting the hogs or vice versa.)
These creatures appear as massive, hideous pigs with an overall greenish tint to their tissues. Their eyes gleam red with a feral intensity belied by their utter stupidity. They develop bioluminescent nodules in random patterns across their skin, which make them easy to keep track of in the deep darks.
Occasionally a dungeon hog will break out of its enclosure and wander about the tunnels and caves making a dangerous nuisance of themselves. Adventurers would be well advised to give these creatures a wide berth, and under no circumstances should you feed them if you want to keep all of your appendages.
The meat of a dungeon hog is greasy but flavorful, and if properly roasted, salted, or smoked it's almost certainly safe for surface dwellers to consume.
Almost certainly. Sir Guy looked dubiously at the morlock pitmaster, who smiled at him with a jagged mouthful of filed teeth, then back at the "sandwich" of greenish pulled pork smothered in a pungent sauce of unknown provenance between two thick slices of black fungus bread. He shrugged, then hunched his shoulders and took a big bite. The morlock rubbed his pasty hands together expectantly, his scarlet eyes lighting up. "Well? What does the surface man think? It is choicest meat not on two legs, raised from squealer in my own pens on nothing but lichen and kobolds." The questing gastronome gave his host a sidelong glance and a smile. "Mmm. Verily, 'tis gold pieces."
Mose was grinning from ear to ear as his gaze lit upon the large, golden jewel embedded in the forehead of the squat, antediluvian idol crouching in the dank, dripping alcove of the half-sunken ruins. While he was cold, and wet, and still a bit upset at the circumstances that had separated him from his companions, if he could pry this pretty bauble loose and… somehow… make it out alive, then it would all be well worth it. And if he ever saw his partners again they didn't need to know every detail of his miraculous escape. With numb fingers he produced a shiv from his sodden sleeve and began to work at the setting, scratching away at the black, pitted lead solder holding the apricot sized gem in the carved diadem encircling the ugly effigy's rumpled brow. He let out a stuttering sound between a laugh and a shudder as it popped loose into his grime caked palm. He held it in the guttering light of his last stub of a candle, admiring how the facets shimmered like a fountain of gold coins pouring between his fingers in a freshly picked treasure chest. Maybe his luck was changing. He shrieked like a rabbit in a snare and dropped both candle and jewel into the murky water at his feet as something sinuous and hideously strong wrapped around his ankles and dragged him backward through the muck and then hung him upside down. He went limp and silent with primal terror as a burbling growl that came from a place where daylight never penetrated filled the echoing catacomb. Mose didn't know if he was hallucinating when he saw something like a small sun light up by the base of the idol. The gem he had just pried loose rose up from the ground, a golden corona expanding around its glittering mass. This coalesced into a human-like shape that sprouted limbs and a head as it went from amorphous to sharply detailed in its outline.
The figure drifted down to the ground, landing lightly on its feet as it resolved into the lithe figure of a girlish boy, or perhaps a boyish girl, with tawny skin and an unruly shock of bright yellow hair. She was clad in a half cape, tunic, and leggings with knee high boots and gauntlets, all of gleaming white, gold, and orange. The jewel that Mose had prized from the idol was embedded in the skin of her hip as if it had grown there, visible through a circular cutout in her form fitting garments. The mysterious being opened her slightly luminous, almond shaped eyes and scrunched up her nose in disgust as she looked past Mose at the unseen thing that held him dangling over the black water. Her gauntleted hand hovered for a moment over the gem at her hip and a sharpened brass quoit with a white hot edge appeared beneath her palm, keening as it spun into a blur and then flew with a flick of her wrist. The beast bellowed in pain as the hapless rogue felt its tendril go slack around his ankles, and he landed with a splash. Then all was swirling turmoil and flashes of yellow and the stench of ichor billowing thru the fetid water as he flailed and wallowed in blind panic. He felt something large and foul slither beneath him and vanish, and then quiet reigned once more. He was pulled spluttering and coughing to the surface by a firm hand and set in the lap of the idol, where he sat blinking at the golden girl who stood regarding him with equal measures of wry condescension and cheerful bravado. She gave a jaunty wave of her slender hand. "Hello there. I'm Topaz. Thanks a lot for getting me loose, Mister…" Her voice trailed off with a questioning note. He stuttered out his name through chattering teeth as the receding adrenaline rush left him wan and shaky. Topaz gave him a brash nod. "Well, Muh-muh-muh-mose, how about you and I see about getting out of this dump. After a thousand years stuck in the Toadlord's tiara, I could sure use a change of scenery." With that she strode off into the gloom. He stumbled after her, still dumbfounded by what had transpired. His heart sank as he realized that when… and if… he was reunited with his cronies he wouldn't be able to keep mum about this part of the story, or pocket this particular bit of loot.
Beyond this world there exists an interstellar empire, vast and ancient, ruled by an order of life that marks time by the passage of millennia. They are known by the more transient races they encounter as Living Gems, for their physical bodies greatly resemble the precious stones that adorn the crowns of kings, glitter in the dark in the eyes of lost idols, or rest fleetingly in the pouches of thieves and adventurers. Inherently magical, these crystalline beings are able to project bodies of solidified light with which they can interact with material objects and other creatures.
The Empire of the Gems is a rigidly stratified society that changes at a geological pace, with the oldest and most powerful being quite set in their ways and ruthless in their defense of the status quo. Yet still there are those who yearn to break free, who are capable of feeling curiosity or passion or love for one another and for other forms of life. These are generally the Living Gems that are encountered outside the dominion of their timeless, ossified empire, crusading on behalf of causes that inspire them or merely adventuring to see what the universe has to offer.
The bodies projected by common Gems are generally short in stature, ranging from halfling size to average human height, with builds varying from slight to stocky depending on what social caste they originated from. (Although there have been reports of brutish warrior Gems serving in the armies of their Empire who are as large and imposing as ogres.) They are genderless and androgynous, but may tend toward more masculine or feminine aspect or behavior depending on their personality. They seem slightly unreal to mortal eyes, as if a figment of one's imagination is standing before you in the light of day. Their clothing, skin, and hair are always shades of the color of the gemstone that is their true form. This stone is usually large enough to fit in the cup of one's palm, and appears embedded somewhere on their manifested form, usually on the head or torso but any location is possible.
In addition to a humanoid body, a properly trained Gem can manifest a weapon or a shield from their gemstone. This weapon reflects their personality and fighting style. They are also capable of casting spells appropriate to their level of skill.
Gems sustain themselves on their own magical energy, and have no need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep. Some Gems will still indulge in those activities anyway, having decided they find them pleasurable, but many view organic processes with mild to intense distaste. If a Gem's projected body suffers a sufficient amount of damage from accident or violence it will discorporate, leaving the inert gem behind until they can regenerate their form, a process that takes at least a day if not more. They are very vulnerable while inert, subject to theft and other misadventures. They can be prevented from reforming if they are confined in a small physical space or set into an object like a normal jewel. Certain spells will also prevent reformation. A Gem can be permanently killed if their stone is shattered.
Perhaps the most remarkable ability these beings possess is a process they call Fusion, where two or more Gems will co-operate in projecting a body that is a combination of their personalities and skills that is greater than the sum of its parts. Within the Empire of the Gems, Fusion is viewed with distrust and contempt, a disruption of their carefully arranged hierarchy. It is a very intimate act, a mingling of multiple minds in perfect communion, and between Gems of compatible outlook and temperament it is viewed as a deeply empowering experience. The Fusion increases in height and mass with every participant, and appears as a combination of the features of all their components. Gems whose mentalities aren't in sync cannot maintain a Fusion for very long before breaking apart into their individual forms again.
GEMS AS LABYRINTH LORD PLAYER CHARACTERS:
REQUIREMENT: Wis 9
Prime Requisites: Con and Wis
Hit Dice: D8
Maximum Level: 10
Gems use the Elf tables for combat, level advancement, and saving throws. Their spell progression uses the Elf table as well.
Their projected bodies are naturally Armor Class 8, while their actual gemstone body is Armor Class 3. Due to the fluid nature of their forms they prefer to forgo heavier armor but will carry shields if they cannot generate them themselves. They are immune to suffocation, starvation, and natural poisons, but are affected as normal by magic attacks of all kinds, including Sleep, Charm, and Hold spells. They don't need to sleep, but can suffer from fatigue if operating at a high level of activity for long periods of time.
If their Hit Points are reduced to 0, their physical forms vanish in a puff of smoke, leaving their gemstone behind. This has Hit Points equal to their level. If it is destroyed the Gem is permanently dead with no chance of Resurrection short of a Wish spell. If the gemstone remains undamaged and there is sufficient space around it the Gem will reform their body with full Hit Points in 1d4+1 days.
A Gem can generate a weapon or shield of their choice from the gemstone at will. This is chosen at character creation and doesn't change. Upon reaching 3rd. level a +1 of magical enhancement is added, with an additional +1 at 6th. and 9th. levels. If separated from the Gem this manifested item will vanish. They can reform their weapon or shield the following round.
A Gem's gemstone appears as an unusually large, richly colored stone of 1d10X100 gp value. If a Gem is set into an object, they are permanently trapped in gemstone form until pried loose. If a Gem is trapped in an object for long enough, generally a period of d100 years, the object will be subject to the rules for Sapient Swords.
One or more Gems can enter into a Fusion, forming a composite being with Hit Dice equal to their combined levels, with commensurate improvement to their combat and spellcasting abilities and Hit Points totaling the sum of all participants' current hit points. The may manifest a weapon that is a combination of the component gems' chosen weapons or shields, with pluses added appropriate to their temporary level.
Fusion is a very delicate and difficult state to maintain unless the Gems are very closely in sync with one another. If the components are of differing alignments they must each make a saving throw vs. Wands after the first round to stay fused. If player character Gems are in a Fusion, any time the players disagree on their course of action they must all roll a save vs. Wands as well. If any of the components fails their save the Fusion breaks apart. Gems in the same adventuring party can become accustomed to one another with trust and experience. With every Turn spent fused they gain a +1 to their saves to stay that way.
Upon reaching 9th. Level, a Gem can opt to found a temple. There are ruined structures from the Empire of the Gems scattered across the universe as their influence ebbs and flows, ready to be cleared of monsters and occupied. Younger Gems (1st. Level) and other warriors seeking training and knowledge will begin to gather under the auspices of the mistress of the temple, which will become a center for magical and martial learning as time goes on. Unfortunately, sooner or later agents of the Gem's Empire may take an interest in their wayward subjects, which can make life quite interesting for its denizens and those under their protection.