Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fic Rip: Jurassic Park

So Jurassic Park in a world with wizards. Taking fossils and bringing them back to life. Like undead? Could be. Dinos? Maybe. Like a vampire raptor would be horrifying. Archaeologists are scraping away at this skeleton when one of them scratches his hand. A solitary drop of blood rolls down his finger. It reaches the ancient skull...clever girl.

(lifting the script of the movie as a whole and simply replacing dinosaurs with vampires would make a rewarding and possibly hilarious adventure. "i have spared no expense" for nice coffins and finest virgins' blood. Instead of herds of herbivores the PCs see some sophisticated salons where tired gothic lesbians recline and complain of ennui. Wayne Knight ruins the system of holy symbols and running water, letting frustrated immortal teens looking for love mob the players' transport. Also suggesting the bard player do goldbloom impressions the entire time would be worth it by itself)

I don't exactly want to do straight dinos though. The bit about using frog DNA makes me think of slaadi, and the fact that they infect humanoids to progenate makes it perfect. The toadlike ancients are perfectly preserved, but some weird colored dust was kicked up and now a nasty flu is going around the diggers' camp and the priest has been looking a little green.

Instead of living in Limbo or wherever cosmology you have they were just ancient rulers of the dinosaurs. An amphibian/fungus hybrid race. If you don't have myconids give these guys all their abilities too, like confusion spores. Miners break into a slaad grave and start going crazy and burping up clouds of spores on each others' faces. wait that's a little too 28 days later.

Okay miners dig up a weird froggy skeleton and start getting sick and growing fungal lumps and their features start looking decidedly toadlike. This is all covered up by the mining company and quarantined. A wizard who loves-knowledge-and-doesn't-count-the-ethical-cost decides to "breed" some reds in a big petri dish, like an island or life-sustaining cavern. Keeps the human host thing secret and engineers it somehow so they don't produce more spores. Gets aristocrats from the nearest decadent civilization to invest in the curiosity of the ancient masters of the earth. Somebody gets attacked by a crazy frogperson and shows signs of transformation. Wizard hires PCs to distract/protect the rich folks while he finds out why. Act 2 a new big blue slaad appears and attacks the rich group. Act 3 a semi-infected green has been sabotaging security. Wizard shows that maybe he is the real monster here etc etc.

I like all this stuff but it isn't sandbox material so probably just stick with "miners dig up something that is making them crazy" or like "people drinking from a certain stream look froggy" and have it be one of several factors in a dungeon or town instead of THE thing

Friday, September 26, 2014

Creature Design: Displacer Beast

So I have recently re-read Black Destroyer by A. E. Van Vogt, which features a mightily familiar creature as the antagonist. The coeurl's description is almost identical to the displacer beast's, though TSR seems to have added at couple legs and canonized it as purple. It was a particularly interesting creature, though, with a lot of potential for interesting interactions. I want to combine the two - displacer beasts have a lot of potential themselves but there isn't quite enough information about them to really dig in the kitty's claws

Let's see how well they expy'd it, though

From Black Destroyer: Coeurl
-Some kind of (probably black) cat. Tiger-ish.
-Is a hunter
-Eats id, a kind of phosphorous compound. Found in bone marrow. It smashes people up just to suck their bones dry. So a hunter which is uninterested in actual meat.
-Very long-lived, possibly immortal if kept fed. Can be killed though
-Has tentacles coming out of its shoulders (probably two) with either slender fingers at the ends or suction cups, depending on the version of the story you read. Can manipulate tools to an extent.
-Sensitive to/ has control over vibrations. Specifically radio waves, though other electromagnetic radiation is mentioned. This could maybe extend to sound? Unclear. Also there is a frequency of radio which is unaffected, so it seems limited in band. Interesting.
-Intelligent, with implied communication skills via radio telepathy (though no spoken language)

from Dungeons & Drawings

From MM 3.5: Displacer
-Catlike. (name-checks Bengal Tiger) MATCH
-Hunter. MATCH
-Carnivore. SORTA MATCH
-Nothing special mentioned about lifetimes. DANG
-Tentacles. MATCH
(though describes them as horny) RACY LANGUAGE MATCH
-Displacement. A continual supernatural ability to bend light in order for their true location to be unknown i.e. some power over photons ...A UNIT OF ELECTROMAGNETISM. MATCH

So some folks really focus on the photon thing, which is cool, having the displacer exist in a probability cloud, constantly hopping around. Like some quantum type stuff - Heidelburg etc. That's all really cool and I like that monster but they have already made that monster and I want to make a different thing.

let's do stuff:
-Keep the id thing, it's unique. Monsters don't discriminate which part of you they eat except for vampires.
-Also keep the near-immortality. Killable immortals are always cool.
-So an immortal who needs to eat bone marrow. Why? I'm gonna go with just a general gnawing hunger. Maybe it's related to fueling the displacing abilities, but I hate making rules for that stuff and it seems unfair to have it be a guess thing. I guess we'll come back to this
-Tentacles hell yeah. I like the finger ends, so it can pick up certain objects, just not use like guns or wands (do you need a thumb to use a wand? you do in hogwarts. maybe not for like druid style ones? there are some nature Darwinists who would probably be way into intelligent predators using wands)
-Displacement. Extending this to include other light manipulations would be ideal. Color shifting, chameleon style stuff, bending light for cloaking etc. Just in the immediate area. perfect for a stalker
coeurlskin anorak 

-Other waves/radiation. The radio telepathy is cool, so if there was a pack they would coordinate (I doubt there would be a pack though. They live the solitary life of a shifting shadow)
ALSO: interact with spells that are blocked by lead sheet? They're basically xrays. So they could fool Detect Evil/Law/Kitties/whatever. So could play dumb for detect thoughts, or do a passable nystul's aura for detect magic. This would depend on it encountering that spell before, to get the frequency right and know how to scramble it. Same with Message - could be a good trap component (see below)
  (also if you have any other radiation-dependent stuff you play with sitting around, go to town. like the aurora is extra strong around its lair; it lives in a thorium cavern; it can cook popcorn by concentrating on it; it reroutes migration patterns and alters compasses; whatever. If you give it free range of the spectrum the implications are pretty wacky, so i'm keeping it to radio, light and detect)

The fact that it is constantly misrepresenting its location is intriguing. Why? It has a deep fear of being pinned down, trapped, seen for what it is. This means constant deception, even to each other (so no packs, then) plus staying in open spaces, so no bottlenecks, tunnels, lead-lined rooms. Work through proxies. like Keyser Soze but a giant flickering panther. Hates being touched
  - also it hates both full darkness and bright light - both are harder to manipulate to cloak itself. Grays and shadows.
  - also since it fakes teleporting around all the time, it is insanely jealous of anything that can for real like blink dogs or wizards. Same with polymorphing or shapeshifting. like serious berserker rage level jealousy. This is generally the only way to ruin a coeurl's plan once it's in motion
  -finds undead skeletons inconvenient because if the bones STAYED DEAD they would more easily give up their id. Like, just hold still for a sec Mr Bones this won't hurt

clearly if this thing was known about by civilization it would be thoroughly hunted since it is a goddamn bengal tiger that can turn invisible and fiddle around with magic. nobody would just let that exist in their forest. especially if there was a pack or den or something. staying secret and spread out is the only way to survive in this loud and probing world (oh yeah i forgot to mention they are still aliens. biowizards can't explain this GLORIOUS APEX BEAST. they stargated in or something)

what does it do though???for activities
some strategies it might employ for a steady source of bones:
-cloaked hunting obv. Pounce on animals from a hidden location. This would work best on nonsentient creatures
-visible lures, like a glamer of a little girl sitting in front of a tree, or a pile of treasure or whatever. basic illusions 101
-magic traps. like faking some magic items in a good pounce location; pretending to be a dumb/good ally; altering a magic message to tell someone to go into a trap. This is all adventurer-dependent so it kinda sucks as a real plan but still an effective tactic
-reversing detect thoughts waves to project thoughts to the user. a lucky coeurl with access to a helm of telepathy could purposely bequeath it to an unsuspecting victim then threaten, bully, plead, whatever
-same with radio waves. find somebody with the right dental work and convince them you are an angel or whatever. develop a cult of dentists who gladly find sacrifices for the dark prince fangwhisper. get fat
-generally the control of humanoids would be for the purpose of fomenting conflict. remain anonymous and unsuspected while coercing others to kill, then slurp clean the bodies.

Ideas to fight it (for the dullards)
-full darkness or bright bright light to throw off displacement
-lead sheets
-hidden mundane trap. bait with bones
-find out its secret name and threaten to expose it. yes you can blackmail the giant space panther but good luck finding out. probably need commune or something powerful
-faerie fire still works. glitterdust has a 50% chance

(i just remembered something about it switching from chlorine to oxygen atmosphere without any problems so i'm sure there are implications from that. i don't really care though)

The coeurl is a big cat with grasping tentacles. It hungers for bones constantly, is intelligent, and probably very old, so can plan long-term. It can look different and mess with certain spells, and can send and receive radio waves. It sets traps and keeps to the shadows.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quick places: Westing mine

Town built around and in a mine owned by the Westing company. Exports orichalcum ore. Over half of population lives in tunnels. Led by Mayor Gwannon - not a company man.

Has the mine proper, headed by Boss Slaghorn (gnoll male), as well as about fifty itinerant miners and haulers. They stay in the cave or surface bunkhouse, respectively (both run by a kind middleaged man, Julint). There is an elf woodsman (Etla), a priest of Fengrid (Abraxas, human male), and five guards for the company under Slaghorn’s command. In the tunnels there is a brewery (run by a female triton, Lanola). Outside, and tanner (Belkor, male gnoll) and a leatherworker (Laren, optimistic young human man).

-Gwannon is haunted by buzzing when he sleeps and is paranoid that Lanola is letting her wasps into his house. It’s actually a guard with a noisemaker - Slaghorn is trying to drive him out.
-Mining has extended farther away from the town to continue following the ore vein, so there are many empty tunnels between the active dig and the dwellings. Some facts/rumors of their uses:
>There is a demonic shrine, covered in gold and ore dust. Anyone who finds it is hunted down by its undead guardian (actually the hermit, see below)
>Some of the wasps have escaped and prey on those lost in the tunnels (see Lanola)
>Something like a gnoll has been sneaking around the tunnels (suspect Belkor obviously, is actually one of the crazed miners. See below)

-Laren is Julint’s nephew. Each will do anything to protect the other. He has also taken a liking to Belkor, who is generally avoided by most of the town. They will often be found drinking together.

-Lanola is an accomplished alchemist and has made her own version of gorgon wasp brew, which is actually pretty good. She keeps her wasps in a warded off area of the tunnels that most people know about. Her real intent is to study an antidote to petrification. Her right hand which she keeps gloved has turned to stone as a result of self-experimentation. So far her closest product is a draught which turns one into living stone. She will teach cheap potion recipes if the trouble with Gwannon is cleared up (choose three lvl1 spells, when brewed into potions you get two for one).

-Etla fells trees and fashions rafts for transporting the ore downriver. He keeps to himself generally but if bought a wasp brew will tell something of the local area - the hermit’s hut, locations of two hidden mine entrances, a riding lizard nest, and an area upstream where he spotted rush (signs of ore) which he has kept secret from the Westing men.

-Miners in a freshly cut area start going crazy after a month or so there. The new vein they have tapped into has some kind of spores which affect the mind - a fossilized slaad is within. Slaghorn has been switching them out and sending them away to keep it quiet, but one miner has wandered off into the tunnels. In another week he will transform into a slaad himself.

-The hermit in the hills has a long tangled head of silver hair and beard, and is generally ignored, though he stops in about once a month to trade for supplies. He always has skins and small metal goods like nails or a knife. Is an aasimar paladin, who has been melting down his plate armor to buy supplies. He is wracked by guilt over the loss of the boy he was entrusted to guard, whose skeleton lies where he was trapped by a boulder while exploring a mine entrance near their hut. The hermit has decorated the corpse and the rocks around it with bits of orichalcum and the filigree from his armor. Will defend this shrine like a madman, and can be found there every night. If confronted peacefully he will give his sword and beg for it to be delivered to the boy’s parents in Accra.