Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.
Tale of the Peasant Regent
Legends of Peng-Kun sometimes pop up when investigating Strange Manifestations, despite the fact no manifestation has ever been traced back to an Alterniverse connected to Peng-Kun. The first Strangefinder to encounter a new legend fo Peng-Kun normally then must deal with encountering a Sanatorium Script shortly thereafter, but once report sod the legend get out, Strangecholars can safely recount them, and analyze them
One of the most well known of these legends is the Peasant Regent, from which tale those Strangefinders who identify themselves with the Phoenix Black House of Peng-Kun take their nomenclature.
Once in the Graven Lands of Peng-Kun was the Phoenix Black House, which was surrounded on all sides and at all times by inequities and evil. No band of living champions, no matter how mighty, could maintain this Black House given its endless array of enemies. But the Phoenix were strong, for they could call upon each fallen ancestor once to arise and face a foe, and thus were able to call upon far more than their living champions. And if a Phoenix Scion was destroyed, her House-Bound could call upon her even at that same moment to return and finish her task.
Among those who opposed the Phoenix was the Heron Black House, and they saw that no force of eldritch or pragmatic force could defeat the Phoenix. Thus instead the Hero used their shadowcasting ways, and spoke of how great the Phoenix were, and how no other Black House, and certainly no lesser bloodline, was worthy of their companionship.
Thus did, over generations, the Phoenix fall to the Heron’s shadow, and mate less and less outside their own numbers. Their tree of ancestors ceased to broaden, and as each past champion could be called upon only once, their greatest power became weaker and weaker. The Hero whispered that it was impurity that weakened the Phoenix, and thus the Black House of fire and renewal reinforced the traditions that were killing it.
After a Time Unknown (legends of Peng-Kung often speak of “time unknown,” and rarely give any specific dates or temporal references), there came to be only a single Phoenix Scion left. Her name is unknown, but when speaking of her time fleeing from the enemies of her Black House, she is called the Lady of Embers. The Lady of Embers could not hold the lands and duties of the Phoenix Black House, for she knew only a dozen fallen champions still uncalled by her house, and though personally a great champion she was ever outnumbered.
Instead of fighting to the last and destroying her land, she taunted the Lokis Black House and showed them weakness. When they attacked, she fled and hid. Thus did the Lokis overtake all her lands with no bloodshed, and the other foes of the Phoenix found they could not divide her lands among them, because the Lokis guarded their conquest fiercely.
The Lady of Embers shed her grand apparel and took on the guise of a peasant woman, and lived among those she had once rules. She was quiet, and humble, and took as her mates three men and two women, all spurned bastards of Black Houses that hated the Phoenix and who had thus fled their own ancestral homelands into Phoenix territory. The Lokis thought her defeated, and made no effort to find her. The Heron feared her presence in the shadows, but could shed no light upon her.
She bore children, and quietly had them anointed and made Scions of the Phoenix. She secret complete the Black House Rituals to become Regent over her young offspring, and ensured their parents and her mates were secured away. Then, armed with their rights as Phoenix Scions, she challenged the Lokis Black House in the heart of what was once the Phoenix Stronghold.
A thousand Lokis surrounded her, and demanded to know her intention. She offered them this. As the Peaseant Regent, she could now call on the ancestors of her children, including Lokis Scions going back to the First Days. This would surely win her victory over the Lokis on that day… but leave the Lokis weakened, and herself with far fewer ancestors to face the other Black Houses that would fall upon her like lionvultures.
Of the Lokis could ally themselves with her. She would marry her offspring to Lokis Scions, in time, and establish a rule of drawing in other Black House offspring to ensure the Phoenix would never again lack champions to call from the grave. She and the Lokis would both be strong, and both profit and grow in power.
All who heard her knew the Peasant Regent was now among the most powerful and wisest of all Scions, for she had found power in humble origins, and could offer a strong hand to those who were once her enemies.
The legends does not say how the Lokis replied, though Lokis Strangefinders and Phoenix Strangefinders are often strong allies.
Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.
Being a Strangefinder
Strangefinders, well, they find strange things. It’s in their title, and everything. So, any Strangefinder PC must have that ability. (Strangemasters, Strangesages, and Sanchos are covered elsewhere. Well, I mean, they may be eventually.)
A Strangefinder can sense if something Strange is going one by examining the direct evidence of a manifestation of Alterniversal frequency overlap. Hearing about it and reading about it aren’t good enough, but seeing footprints,. Interviewing witnesses in person (though not by video), and, of course, being attacked by a manifestation or something caused by a manifestation are good enough.
For each day of secondary direct research (such as interviewing witnesses) a Strangefinder engages in, or each noteworthy piece of primary evidence a Strangefinder finds, the Strangefinder may make a Strange Hunch check. This has a percent chance of telling the Strangefinder is he has found something Strange, and if so what Strange Case it is connected to. The % chance is equal to 70%, +1% per Strangefinder level, +1% per Strange thing connected to the case that has been successfully identified with Strange Augury already, +10% if working with a Sancho.
On a failed check, the Strangefinder just doesn’t know yet. He never gets a false positive. If something isn’t Strangem, but is Weird, the Strangefinder learns that on a successful check, but that’s all he learns. (If there are Weirdfinders out there, they aren’t talking to us.)
As a result, Strangefinders have to go to places with unexplained or freaky occurrences, ask questions, and poke around.
Strange Cases are names a GM gives to a specific Alterniversal manifestation. This name may or may not be a hint about the Strange occurrences. Each source manifestation has a single name, sometimes with sub-titles for those that are only distantly related. For example, if an Alterniversal manifestation is from Alterniverse A, the name for it may start with A. So if gelantinous cubes from Alterniverse A have leaked into the sewers, and they are mutating local underground creatures, the Strange Case name might be “A Thing in the Sewers.”
If something mutated by a gelatinous cube has escaped and began a cult that is drawing new Strange energy into an area that might be a sub-title: “A Thing in the Sewers: Secret of the Unknown Horror.”
Once a Strangefinder knows the Strange Case she is working on, each new successful Strange Augury check allows the Strangefinder to use the Research rules from Anachronistic Adventures to attempt to discover how to defeat the Strange monsters (if necessary), or gain a clue about the Main Plotline (as determined by the GM). One additional research check can also be earned on each Strange Case by visiting a place like Marlowe House, or (if you can find it… or it finds you) 1428 Oceanic Ave.
As a result, even if they know what they are up against, Strangefinders generally keep going into the places with freaky occurrences, poking around, and asking questions. If a Strange manifestation seems undefeatable and keeps kicking a Strangefinder’s ass, one of the best ways to learn how to defeat it is to keep pissing it off and having it kick your ass.
Strangefinders also often develop Strange Powers. We’ll (maybe) cover those later.
Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.
1428 Oceanic Ave.
This detached single-family American Craftsman residence dates back to the 1930s, when it was the Maine residence of an active Strangefinder, John Virtue, Esq. Virtue was a legend in his own time, but eventually was defeated by Strangeness in the Sedgefield Sanatorium, in Jefferson Country, Kentucky.
The next resident of the house, Professor Amanda Pentracroft, was NOT a Strangefinder… until she moved into 1428 Oceanic. Then she kept mysteriously finding notes of Virtue’s, and things that lead her to the Marlowe House, and eventually resulted in her taking on the Strangeness at the Sedgefield Sanatorium.
When she returned to her address, she discovered there was no record of 1428 Oceanic Ave existing, though she did have a huge real estate escrow account. She went on to have a distinguished Strangefinder career.
1428 Oceanic DID turn up again, however, during the late 1930s in Selma, Alabama. Here is was bought by Doctor and Mr. Jane and James Fletcher. Through a series of discoveries within the house, the James couple discovered that some Strange horror in the abandoned city of Cahaba was taking and torturing children. The Jameses fought a series of Strange manifestations for a decade, and their house both consistently had random useful discovers (old boxes of files, weapons under floorboards, geometrically impossible concealed safe rooms, and again links to the Marlowe House).
When they finally cleansed Cahaba of Strangeness once and for all… their house disappeared with no sign or record it had even existed (to be replaced by a massive real estate escrow account).
Over more than 75 years, 1428 Oceanic has shown up again and again — Wickenburg, Arizona (near Vulture City), Atlanta Georgia (not far from the Ellis Hotel), Lewiston, Idaho (near the Lewiston Civic Theater), and most recently New Orleans (within sight of the Six Flags park). In these and a dozen other cases a new buyer moves in, “randomly” discovers hints and clues abut Strangeness and a local location that poses a threat, finds significant aid in the house, and when the threat is dealt with, the house disappears. There is never any sign, record, or memory of anyone who hasn’t been inside that it ever existed. Sometimes the entire Oceanic Ave is gone. But the owners always find they now have a massive escrow account, and since 1953 all owners have found their possessions in storage (though sometimes hundreds of miles away).
It’s unknown of 1428 Oceanic Ave is a Strangeness, or something Weird, but it’s a well-known nexus for Strangefinder creation. Most Strangesages categorize the house itself as a Strangefinder. Given that a Strangefinder is primarily someone who recognizes Strangeness, analyzes it, and takes steps to ensure it’s not a danger to society, it’s had to argue the house does not qualify.
Only one medium has ever attempted to communicate with the house. He nodded, painted over a stain on one wall of the house, left, and has refused to ever discuss the matter or return to the house.
It’s common for Strangefinders, who are experts in finding, analyzing, and overcoming Alterniversal frequency manifestations, to assume everything unexplained by the normal laws of their home Alterniverse is a result of Strange manifestations. In short, they assume the phenomenon of Alterniversal overlap is the source of everything unusual and odd.
But it’s not.
Some things are inexplicable, even to experts in the rules of Strange events.
These thing are often referred to as “weird.”
Weirdnesses don’t follow any of the rules for Strange events, and experienced Strangefinders can identify the differences. Only those who refuse to see the signs (or lack thereof) that a weirdness has nothing to do with Alterniversal overlap try to push Strange solutions onto Weird problems.
It’s important to remember that it’s a more-than-Strange -world. Yes, 80-90% of the things a Strangefinder encounters will follow the (very loose) rules of Alterniversal manifestations. But… the rest is unexplainable, and doesn’t even seem to be connected to each other.
Common Weirdnesses Include:
People who, when they sleep, cause everyone asleep around them to dream of elephants.
Forests in which young filmmakers inevitably disappear, but their footage is found.
Cars which get into a lot of wrecks which kill the driver, but leave the car good enough to repair and resell…
Swedish Fish that, when consumed, causes the eater to gain physical health but also work to spread the sale and acceptance of Swedish Fish.
Mists which cause mass hallucinations of vengeful dead, horrific monsters, and phantom musicians.
People who extend their lifespan and health though organ cannibalism.
Children with imaginary friends that can actually affect the material world.
Legends of Peng-Kun
Many Alterniverses with frequencies close to our own reality have had creatures and travelers cross over so often, they become an influence on the myths and legends of our reality. These are often twisted or misunderstood, but useful tidbits (lycanthropes vulnerability to silver, vampires picking up matches, grizzlysnakes seeking warm basements in early winter) can be gleened from them.
Then, there is Peng-Kun.
No record anywhere, from the Marlowe House to the 11th Hour Society to the Zheng He Society, exists of a manifestation from Peng-Kun. Strangesages generally identify it as Alterniverse PK and have a broad theoretical (though generally agreed upon) list of signs that would suggest a manifestation originated from there, and none have ever considered a case to have any evidence of Peng-Kun origin.
But the Legends of Peng-Kun are everywhere.
It is described in stories as a land with an indigo sun and crimson moon. In addition of many city states ruled by monarchs with descriptive titles (Queen of Graves, Twin Barons of Sorrow, the Silent Emperor, the NeverTime Prince, Duchess of 1,000 Foes), it often mentioned the dreadful and necromantic Wasps of Peng-Kun, sly and deceptive moon cats, and horrific bipedal monsters known as Ktak who once ruled a Multi-Alterniversal Empire, before being brought down in a war with serpentfolk.
Most legends are short, focus on a single region or city-state, and involve a moral or twist. They are generally not in particular extraordinary. However, when a Strangefinder encounters a new Legend of Peng-Kun, one never before read or mentioned, it almost always presages finding a Sanatorium Script. Some Strangefinders even survive the experience.
The Andromeda Strange.
Sometimes, the manifestation of aligned Alterniversal frequencies is a disease. This kind of incursion varies from barely noticeable (if it only spreads to a single person and makes them allergic to cheese) to world-threatening epidemic (if it’s airborne and turns people into were-koalas).
The trickiest part of disease manifestations is that the Alterniversal bacteria or virus may remain present long after all symptomatic victims are accounted for. This can make it very difficult to end the manifestation. Additionally, many such diseases are immune to all normal treatment, though for some reason they all respond to SOMETHING as a curative.
Known Alterniversal diseases include:
Rolling Dementia: Airborne. Victims become convinced shadows are living creatures eating their souls. Can be treated with chocolate.
N-Spice: Transmission through bodily fluids. Victims gain intelligence, lose all hair, crave hot sauce, and all share a common goal to destroy existing civilization and replace it with something better. Can be treated with rogaine.
Rage Lice: Technically a parasite, passed by even casual contact. Victims become irritable, then violent, then rage monsters. Can be treated with loud music *except* You Might Think (by the Cars), which instead strengthens infestations.
Static Flu: Transmitted by being too close to an infected while microwaves or cell phone waves pass through both. Causes those infected to cause minor interference with electronics, including bad reception and going through batteries at a massively accelerated pace. If more than 10% of a population becomes infected, it also summons radio-wraiths that work to spread the infection farther. Can be treated by isolation for a week or more in an area free of microwaves, cell phones, and any form of broadcast.
Pocket Mania: Transmitted by seeing an object a infected creature saw. Infection rate for any single glance is very low, but constant exposure does spread the disease fairly quickly. Causes those infected to seek out a useless commercial product, acquire as much of it as possible, and constantly promote it to others as cheerfully as possible. Can be treated by slapping in the face with a whole dead fish. Cod and haddock are the least effective, while tuna works well (but sometimes leads to bruising).
Deafumbness: Transmitted by listening to an infected person talk about something stupid. Causes those infected to believe the first 5 stupid things they hear, and then promote and support those beliefs, ignoring or mentally discrediting all evidence that counters their stupid beliefs. No treatment is yet known, though further research may be available at the Marlowe House.
Sometimes the manifestation of Alterniversal overlap only exist for a subset of creatures or situations. In essence, the Alterniversal frequency is only close enough to the new Alterniverse to manifest partially, and impact those places, times, or creatures that match some specific attune parameter.
Temporal attunement is the most common. A manifestation may only appear at night, or only one day of the year, or only from 11:11pm to 1:01am. At all other times, it simply does not exist and cannot impact the world around it, or be affected by any outside force. Most temporally attuned Alterniversal manifestations do not experience the passage of time when unattained (hopping from the end of one period of existence to the beginning of their next period of existence with at most a second of blur), but in rare cases such creatures exist in a “limbo” when unattained, able to heal and pass time and think, but unable to see of be seen by the world they manifest upon.
Spacial attunement is the second most common. These manifestations can only appear in a geographic area with some tie to their Alterniversal frequency. For example, a manifestation might only appear within a specific cave system, or only in one building, or only in the legal borders of a specific town or state. Some have geographic limiters, like the inability to cross water or a total lack of existence on holy ground. These creatures dissipate if forced into an area unattained to them, but reform (generally within 24 hours) at the point within their attuned area that is furtherest from the point of discorporation.
Situational attunement is essentially a combination of temporal and geographic attunements. Some manifestations only exist when a specific thing is true, such as only while bells toll in the church tower (and only as far away as they can be heard), or only during a solar eclipse (and only where the eclipse is visible).
Creature attunements are the most dangerous form of Alterniversal overlap manifestation, and among the hardest to identify. For these incursions, the manifestation only exists for a specific subset of creatures (almost always including people, though at least one goat-only manifestation is known to have occurred). Most often, this is a manifestation that only impacts people in a broad category, such as only members of a specific faith, or only people descended from a specific group, or only people who are drunk, or high, or who haven’t had sex, or have had sex with a person who has already been impacted by the manifestation, or who can recite the lyrics from Bohemia Rhapsody. The more specific the parameter, the rarer that form of manifestation.
A particularly common creature attuned manifestation is one of age. While it’s rare for middle-age folks to be the only ones who are impacted by a manifestation, it is common for some Alterniversal overlap to only impact pre-pubescents, or those going through puberty, or those well past middle age. Of course these groups are often not bee lived by the mainstream population when they explain things are living under their beds, or their pills turn into buys that steal their possessions, or that a think is stalking them after school. And even if they were believed, since these manifestations DO NOT EXIST for any other group, it’s up to the affected population to deal with the issue themselves.
Strangefinders who first experience Alterniversal manifestations at a young age sometimes make efforts to seek groups suffering from a creature attuned manifestation as part of their normal work. The Sisters Sternn are particularly famed for their ability to identify a manifestation attuned to only a specific group (most often adolescents), and to aid and train those affected in ways to fight back and, in time, overcome their hardship.
The Sisters Sternn can usually be reached through the Marlowe House.
Strangefinders have existed for centuries, possibly since the advent of thought (as though leads to sub-quantum harmonics which can lead to Alterniversal incursions). Or they may predate thought, taking forms that don’t require sentience or sapience. Really, how would we know?
What we DO know is that many old legends are echoes of both Strangefinder activities, and faded memories of Alterniversal incursions which may have brought along their own legends and myths. Perhaps King Arthur WAS real, but was a great kind from another Alterniverse (we can call it Avalon), and thus his passing lead to all hard evidence of his existence fading.
However, some Strangefinder activities DO leave evidence behind, at least for those who know how to look for it. One such tangible element is Marlowe House, a gathering place for Strangefinders, and sometimes a training ground, library, armory, bazaar, and refuge.
Marlowe House dates back to the 1580s, when the noted Freemason, cabalist, writer, and Strangefinder Christopher Marlowe discovered great and terrible Alterniversal incursions overlapping vast sections of England. More a poet than a warrior, Marlowe had the keen intellect and broad imagination needed to recognize and an analyze manifestations of incursions. He then had others defeat any active threat, and worked to design plays and poems to act as counter-harmonic rituals. When such matters were insufficient, he designed strong measures (such as having the calendar changed).
While Marlowe and his agents were not great warriors, Marlowe DID have an amazing knack for discovering the weakness of incursion manifestations, and designing counter-harmonics to ensure they remained contained. In time other Strangefinders, such as Ivan Fyodorov, Oyamada Nobushige (after his supposed death at the hands of his Oda clan allies), Thomas Heriot, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and even occasionally Sir Francis Drake and John Dee, began to turn to Marlowe for his expertise in researching and analyzing incursions. Where helpful, Marlowe often put such groups in touch with one another.
Sadly, the rash of manifestations he fought off was a plot under the control of a powerful Strangemaster, who eventually managed to have Marlowe killed.
It turned out, this was an event Marlowe had foreseen.
The main work of producing dramaturgical works to hold Strange incursions at bay was adopted by new playwrights, beginning immediately after Marlowe’s death. The work of bringing Strangefinders together also continued, in the form of Marlowe House.
Marlowe House is a place, but not a single place. It is a theoretical place, a Strange incursion in its own right that Marlowe tamed rather than defeated. It is one part vast library, one part dark alleys, and one part cozy kitchen. In the earliest days, Marlowe House could most easily be reached through the back corners of playhouses. Those who had great need, and knew of the Strange or carried something touched by it, could duck beneath a backdrop, squeeze between two props, or dash into a black corner, and find themselves in the Marlowe House’s sitting-room/armory.
There, one of more Keepers (often a family) would see to immediate needs (Strangefinders entering the House for the first time and by accident were often bleeding, poisoned, or slowly turning into mushrooms), and inquire about longer-term plans. Marlowe House is not a charity–the Keepers will grant each entrant one unpaid boon. After that they are happy to hear about what a Strangefinder is working on, and put them in touch with other Strangefinders who might help. More substantial aid, such as using the Restricted Library, or buying some magic, psychic, or weirdtech item, must be met with ideas or objects of similar value.
Many Strangefinders drop off largely harmless materials from incursions at the Marlowe house, to be kept safe and possibly studied. This includes plays, books, and even movies from other Alterniverses. The 1200s catalog of the Great Library of Alexandria. The original Kubla Khan. Mag’s Diversion. Collections of Edgar Allen Poe’s work from his 50s and 60s.
Those visitors who come to be trusted friends to Marlowe House can also beg sanctuary for 24 hours once each lunar month. Of course, trusted friends often drop by just to meet with colleagues, update the keepers on ongoing investigations, and possibly enjoy the David Lynch version of The Empire Strikes Back.
While sections of Marlowe house are still styled after the 1500s, it’s changed and updated over the centuries. It has been accessed through public houses, speakeasies, head shops, abandoned libraries, and video rental stores. Anytime a new generation of Strangefinders change where they seek Strange lore, and society alters where is expects to find weirdos, Marlowe House becomes accessible through new means. And each time, it’s interior takes on some small part of the character of those entrances.
Currently the Marlowe House has a strong focus on video rental stores, tabletop roleplaying games, and knitting. It’s Keepers are kind and friendly folk, but fierce in the defense of their friends and allies. They delight in having known visitors drop by, and bemoan they don’t get to see enough of their friends as often as they’d like.
Marlowe House is a nexus for Strangefinders, and a GM can use it to advance a stuck plot whenever she wishes.
Strange Objects are, well, strange. They do things that don’t make any logical sense. It is known they are not the result of a resolved Alterniversal Incursion, since all evidence of such incursions fades. They also aren’t “magic items” both because they don’t detect as magic, and they function even when no Strangefinder with mystic attunement is present.
The two most popular theories are that they all Strange Objects are the result of a single ongoing Alterniversal Overlap (and many Strangefinders spend their lives trying to find the source of that overlap and end it), or they are “glitches” in our home Alterniverse — examples of things native to our reality but mis-attuned at a sub-quantum level.
Whatever they are, they can be useful. And dangerous. Entire societies exist to seek them out and either sequester them or use them to change the world.
There are known to be at least 157 of them, Here are 20.
01. Weathered copy of a leather-bound book titled “A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.” It has hardness 20, 20 hp, and can be used as a light simple melee weapon dealing 1d4 nonlethal damage. You can’t add your Strength or Dexterity modifiers to damage dealt, but do add you ranks in Linguistics.
02. Corkscrew. When screwed into people (normally a full round action that requires they be restrained and which deals 1-2 hp) it forces them to reveal their name, even if they don’t know it themselves.
03. Mechanical 1 hour kitchen timer in the shape of a plastic cook with a big head (which is twisted to set the timer). If set for 1 hour and allowed to run normally, when it goes off it casts a random summon swarm, which you have no control over.
04. Single old sweat sock, with bluish stain near top. Does not conduct heat, thus can be used as perfect oven mitt.
05. Small flashlight with image of a Speedo-clad male diver enameled on the side. If used to illuminate a digital storage medium (thumb drive, DVD, floppy disk), the raw code on the device slowly scrolls by in the shadow created by the flashlight.
06. Wire-frame glasses. If kept tucked in a pocket, halves falling damage for possessor.
07. Stained paper map of Terre Haute, Indiana, from 1913. If mis-folded and then opened, it creates a gust of wind (as the spell). The map itself is always torn free by the gust, and normally takes (4d4 – 1d4) x 10 minutes to find.
08. Ball point pen with green ink. Rapidly clicking the pen gives a +5 bonus to Perception checks, but only against people using Stealth.
09. Small box of safety matches. If thrown at someone within 15 feet they must make a Will save (DC equal to the touch attack roll to hit them) or spend 1 round picking up the matches.
10. String of Christmas Lights which, when strung up over a series of letters, can be used as a diving device. It may act as augury, divination, or commune, as randomly determined by the GM. Whoever uses it will then have an encounter within 1 week of a high enough CR that average treasure for that encounter would pay for a scroll of the divination spell gained. The lights don’t work again until the creature using them has had this encounter, which doesn’t have any actual treasure associated with it.
11. Tortoiseshell make-up compact. Anyone who has the powder from the compact blown on them is slowed (as the spell) for 1 minute. Only one creature can be affected at a time.
12. Dried pea. If placed up your nose, it grants a +4 bonus to saving throws against poison, and a successful save always ends the poison. Someone who knows you have it up there can get you to shoot it out with a successful dirty trick maneuver (replacing the normal options for dirty trick).
13. Cork table coaster. Anything placed on it doesn’t experience any passage of time as long nothing else is touching it but air. This DOES keep drinks cold (or hot) much longer, but it also prevents fruit from spoiling, grenades from exploding, radioactive isotopes from decaying, and so on.
14. Electronic car key that, when pointed at an animal and the “open” button on it is pushed, causes the animal to talk randomly in French for 1 round. There is a 10% chance it says something useful and relevant to the key holder.
15. Worn leather coin purse. As long as nothing but coins are stuffed into it there does not seem to be a limit how many fit in, but they can only be added or removed at a rate of 4 per round.
16. Laminated complex wiring diagram for an unidentified vehicle. If placed on a stationary, prone creature the wiring diagram changes to represent the organs (and injuries) or that creature, granting a +5 bonus to Heal checks with that creature.
17. Old-style iron key. Fits in any lock. Can’t unlock a lock, but can lock it. If it was already locked, the next person to touch it takes 1 point of electricity damage.
18. Glossy black lipstick. Never runs out. The first time each day someone wearing the lipstick is damaged by an attacker the wearer has not ever damaged, the wearer may kiss a weapon. That weapon is bane against that attacker until it successfully hits and damages the attacker.
19. A die with 20 sides, numbered 7-26. Anyone with this on their person is lucky (gain one reroll each day, rerolling after you see the result of a reroll and taking the better of the two results) except in games of chance (roll twice and take the worst result for all games of chance).
20. An air horn which can be heard (under normal conditions) for 10 miles. If blown directly in someone’s ear is heals them for 1d8+1 hp, and they are deafened for 1 hour per hp healed. If the deafness is removed early, the healing is also removed. It cannot heal someone temporarily deaf from this effect. The healing appears to be the revelation the wound wasn’t that bad to begin with — there’s never any actual sign of improved health.
So, Alterniverses bleed over or overlap from time to time. This most often happens because there is some sympathetic similarities to their frequencies. If a large portion of the population of Detroit believes that giant, chemically-altered alligators are living in the sewers, that belief, at the sub-quantum level, resonates with the nearby Alterniverse where (for whatever reason) there are giant chemically-altered alligators living in sewerlike conditions. If these two sub-quantum frequencies are close enough, the GCA-alligators bleed over and (at least temporarily) exit.
In some cases, rather than resonance of similar frequencies, Alterniverse overlap is brought about by harmonies. Rather than two Alterniverses having a strong similarity, two or more nearby Alterniverses create a harmony that draws in an unrelated Alterniverse. There isn’t anything near Norman, Oklahoma that is any any way similar to the Pumpkin Stalker. Instead, it’s the combination of sub-quantum vibrations of old-west themed sports celebrations in Alterniverse N, the harmonic channeling of Route 666 and the Mother Road in Alterniverses O and D, and the molecular echoes of the Helium Baron Warfields of Alterniverse P that combine in October of most years to draw a horrific carnivorous, undead plant into various pumpkin patches around town (requiring the Menzi, also known as the Knights of McFarland, to hunt down and destroy them).
Luckily, this kind of recurring harmonic can be stopped. In the case of the Pumpkin Stalker, the LKOT (Loyal Knights of Old Trusty) fire a specific cannon (Old Trusty) once a year. As this noble order grew out of the Engineering Club, they fire it on Saint Patrick’s Day to honor the Patron Saint of Engineers. The sub-quantum shockwave of this even subtly alters the Alterniversal harmonics between Alternverses N, O, D, and P, and prevent the pumpkin stalker from being drawn in come October.
Creating a Counter-harmonic Ritual to prevent Recurring Strange Incursions is a multistep process. First, all Manifestations of the Incursion must be destroyed. It’s not good enough that the Pumpkin Stalker isn’t active when you realize a counter-harmonic ritual is needed. The last manifestation of the pumpkin stalker must be defeated, so that it’s evidence of existence is slowly washed away by the quantum forces of your native reality. Only them can a counter-harmonic ritual be established to get between the already-established Alterniversal interactions.
From the time of the last manifestations defeat until a new manifestation appears is the window to establish a counter-harmonic. Designing this ritual requires a Knowledge (planes) check, AND a Knowledge check of one other Knowledge skill related to the manifestation. In the case of the pumpkin stalker, Knowledge (nature) is also required. The DC for these checks is 20 + CR of most powerful manifestation created. This can be researched, using the research rules in Anachronistic Adventures. Counter-harmonics are about breaking things apart, and it is easier to accomplish with two minds than one. If a single person attempts to make this check, the second skill check has the DC increased by +10.
The discovery process nearly exposes what crucial events or thoughts, or feeling must occur, and when, to create the needed counter-harmonic. An actual way to do this must be then be designed and implemented. This requires a third skill check, which may be Knowledge (engineering), Diplomacy, or any appropriate craft or profession skill linked to what the GM reveals as the required ritual. However, it is extremely difficult for people who intimately understand the function of the counter-harmonic ritual to easily address how to make it happen without over-complicating it. Thus the DC is 15 if it is done by someone uninvolved in the discovery process, but DC 30 for anyone who made either of the discovery skill checks, or researched those checks.
When a GM announced what ritual is designed to fulfill the conditions discovered to serve as a Alterniversal counter-harmonic, he should feel free to be creative. A random table of dates (for time and frequency) and professions (to determine what it entails) may be useful. In addition to firing Old Trusty, example counter-harmonic rituals include wassailing the apple tree, Royal Shrovetide Football match, Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scrambling, cheese rolling, mayor weighing, chili cooking, mummer’s dances, and Burning Man.
The GM need not have these make sense, or be in any way related to the manifestation. Indeed, best not.
Of course even when a group of Strangefinders uncover a way to disrupt a harmonic Alterniveral overlap, it can be difficult to establish a way to have the ritual performed as needed (somewhere between weekly and every ten years, as determined by the GM). “Tradition” is often the best explanation that can be offered, especially since all evidence of the supernormal nature of the original incursions manifestation eventually fades.
Of course, even traditions sometimes get abandoned. Indeed, if no ritual is successful discovered, some Strangefinders use Knowledge (history) and/or research to see if the annual Painting of the Sheriff or Ice Swimming Day was cancelled in the years before an incursion’s manifestation appeared, in the hopes that the origin of such strange traditions was more carefully considered than a town remembers.