Saturday, June 13, 2015

like mutations, but...not?

So I always feel like my monsters fall flat. Thought about it for a while and settled on the thought that I am usually seeking to identify everything around me - to learn the limits and such. This is anathema to mystery. Any sense of wonder is lost when my mental image of the thing is “well it’s a giant rabbit but purple and it hates humanoids” or whatever. Not useful in a real game. Same with so many monster manual entries: describe what it is but not what it does.

If you (like I did) were to dig into the archives of False Machine you can find some stuff on e-prime. A very inconvenient language, but particularly suited to monsters since their actions are what actually appear at the table.

Thus, a short list of interesting monster actions, harvested from what little could be found amongst various 3.5 MMs:

  1. Despises (creature type)
  2. Inherits parent’s knowledge
  3. Assimilates knowledge
  4. Psionically enslaves
  5. Babbles madness
  6. Levitates constantly
  7. Cultivates fungal camouflage
  8. Bathes rarely
  9. Jams bracelets on wrists
  10. Provokes fights for gems
  11. Feeds on corpses of slain
  12. Exacts tribute from weak
  13. Declares own form ideal
  14. Prefers to ambush
  15. Attacks anythings edible
  16. Lives as hermit
  17. Melts others into goo
  18. Hunts on ground and wing
  19. Collects skulls
  20. Unfurls to attack
  21. Flies directly into faces
  22. Discusses strategy before battle
  23. Hangs from ceiling by muscular foot
  24. Feeds by dissolving rock
  25. Weighs >2 tons
  26. Enjoys taking slaves
  27. Emits carefully focused harmonics
  28. Traps prey in ribcage
  29. Has aura/tone that soothes
  30. Has an aura/tone that enrages
  31. Skids across liquid surfaces
  32. Hides near aristocrats
  33. Commands an army of tiny animal relatives
  34. Wears a mask over missing face
  35. Takes psychic commands via brain tentacle
  36. Fortifies itself with embedded metal plates
  37. Can command but has limited language
  38. Warps wood to decorate
  39. Attacks with four insectoid arms
  40. Sprays a flammable acid
  41. Causes nightmares within 1 mile
  42. Can extend thin blades from forearms
  43. Wades through the ocean
  44. Creates mindless spawn resembling another creature
  45. Sprays insanity-causing blood from own face
  46. Holds arcane spells inscribed on its body
  47. Stupifies with a touch
  48. Flees own death as a sparkling mist
  49. Particularly enjoys eating elves
  50. Watches strangers even when in danger
  51. Sustains itself by spreading corruption
  52. Melds its body with a host to control it

I’ll add more as they appear

Friday, June 5, 2015

Shrine of the Ploughfather

So perfectionism means I took way too long on this damn thing. Without further ado (whilst shamelessly pilfering from Patrick Stuart):

"a dungeon outline for the old, sealed-off temple of a forgotten Dwarf god. Monsters, traps, whatever, dungeon stuff. Back story unimportant unless amazing and necessary. My tastes lean towards the weird"

Pic unrelated. From here
Dwarvenkind has always excelled in technology, crafting the tools they need to create even better tools. One might say that they are too focused and unimaginative, though that is inaccurate. They lack the vision to create something new out of whole cloth, yes, but the wonders they work by adapting and honing the ideas of others have led to their current legacy of advancement.

Long ago, when they lived on the skin of the world, a young dwarf (hungry and sick of foraging) (envious of the elves and their bond with nature) (curious of the humans and their new 'dogs') witnessed a shooting star land in a field of aurochs. Excited, he ran to it...

Shrine of the Ploughfather

1- Elf ruler has heard of a very embarrassing secret hidden within the farm-dwarves’ temple. Find out what it is so he can gossip with the drow queen about it and tease the Underking over social media.
2- A fashionable doomsday cult has been unable to summon a certain messenger imp. Auguries give his location as underground, near an abandoned dwarven surface town. He is required to herald the apocalypse.
3- Lassie returned to town barking that little Timmy has fallen down a well, near the wild potato patch in the woods.
4- The usurper king has offered his daughter’s hand to anyone who can cut the adamantine lock off the throneroom door. A lecherous old scholar sends you here, having researched the starmetal forgings of the dwarves.
5- Legends speak of a giant Doomsday Hourglass counting down until the eschaton. Calculations guess it is nearing an end. However, the magic is such that if more grains are added to the top, such a fate can be waylaid…(obv you would need to put a huge wheat hourglass somewhere in the temple. Or not, it’s your game)
6- You find and ancient dwarven manuscript that sounds like a blog post about the evils of some overarching agricultural organization, a la Monsanto. It gives the location of their base of operations...and says they hoarded their riches.

There are seven necessary ones plus 3 or 4d6? That sounds reasonable. Just use something from Dyson or whatever. This could work:

>>>>Drop a d4 and d6 on the map until they land on rooms. The d4 is First Plough and the d6 is Udril’s head. But more on that later.

NECESSARY ROOMS are the Oblatorium and Shrines of the Lesser Fathers.

The Oblatorium should be close to the center. Inside are statues of the Ploughfather and the Lessers, and a burn altar. A chimney leads up to the woods above. This is the (now) main entrance, though there is another one, buried in rubble and known to locals as a wild potato patch. Multiple doors to different parts of the temple fork from here.

The Lesser Fathers’ shrines are plain altars with names, scattered in rooms throughout the temple. Their statues depict them with symbols of their craft:
1- Lenod, Sowing. Bears a seed bag
2- Tig, Fertilizer. Gull perched on arm
3- Tegir, Breeding. Two stems in his hand
4- Golud, Reaping. Bears a sickle
5- Lolum, Carpentry. A share-less wooden plough frame
6- [Head missing from statue in Oblatorium. His altar says “Udril”], he bears a yoke

The Lesser Shrines get an extra roll for what they contain, plus all have an OFFERING (d6):
1- Lazarene Linen: wrap this blindfold-sized white cloth around the eyes of a dead person and they will raise as a blinded intelligent zombie, compelled to obey you. Both corpse and linen turn to dust when killed again, or if the blindfold is removed.
2- 1d4 Warding Salts: a line of this on the ground will make plant creatures halt. Enough for a 5ft line or circle 1 medium creature.
3- Blessed Kernels: bag of grain that can be thrown. Works like holy water.
4- Blessed Birdseed: sprinkle over 5ft sq under open sky and birds will flock to eat. They will be distracted and easily caught.
5- Cask of Malt Whiskey from the Barley Baron hobbits. Worth 300gp in a city. Flammable in a pinch
6- Distilled hot pepper pesticide from the Maize Pyramids across the sea. Basically pepper spray, but ouble lethal damage to bugs.


>All rooms without creatures have 1d6 hoppers of 1-3:Wheat(50gp each) 4-5:Maize(60gp) 6:Barley(40gp)

roll 2d20 or a d20 and d12
Plus roll one here every couple rooms. d12 for creatures only
1- Nothing! but the grains.
2- Dismembered priest, red paint drips
3- Red paint: “THE GRAIN IS A LIE”
5- Dead radical with d3 intact firebombs
6- Mosaic of dwarf pointing at shooting star
7- Mosaic of dwarf at forge w/ ploughshare
8- Mosaic of dwarf at field w oxen; stash of coins
9- Mosaic of dwarves bearing heaps of food
10- Collapsed tiles litter floor; d4 radical bodies
11- Floor is map of continent as-was 200 yr ago
12- Dead radical, firebomb; pale overgrown carrots
13- d3 ceremonial gold leaf bull masks
14- Crumbling papyri re: control of economy
15- Thick mycelium floor covering, d3 kegs beer
16- Two scorched priest bodies, jewelry
17- d6 Jars of valuable heirloom grain seeds
18- Lazarene Linen and a contaminated hopper
19- Bin of tribute corn cobs w/ sacrificial dagger
20- Wheat hopper w/ preserved pontiff corpse
1- d3 Myconids and fungus-covered priest body
2- Corpse of a radical; Root Titan guarding
3- Linen wrapped priest mummy
4- Beheaded priest skeleton; room torched
5- Shambling radical corpse, mushrooms on head
6- Undead armored guard, plough-shaped khopesh
7- Radical poltergeist, restless til room is burnt
8- Roach swarm; coin coffers hidden beneath straw
9- d4 Scarecrows; cask of malt whiskey
10- 2d6 smoke-preserved monks, one is ‘all’ wight
11- 1d6 idiot kenku snuck in. Equipped as thieves
12- Heap of bones; fruits d6 myconids after 2 min
13- a Root Titan fighting...(roll d12)
14- Polished brass mirrors alter spell targets
15- Door releases spores; save or roll mutation
16- Psi Pscarab: attaches, +2 Con but can’t track HP
17- Mosaic of field; sun face has petrify laser eyes
18- Imp trapped within circle of blessed kernels
19- Golden-bull-masked skeleton in ploughcophagus
20- Giant plough-like blade trap, d4 scarecrows

Root Radicals - corpses have threadbare clothes and red cloth gas masks, all falling apart. History has forgotten how they toppled the Grain Hegemony. All carried jars of dirt on back filled with root veggies, 1 in 3 are still usable (see Root Jar below). You find one, hiding but dead, in the room that holds the First Plough, clutching it tight.

Root Titan - See below

Myconids - Seeping up from below. They have tried to find purchase in the stores of dried grain but have a hard time digesting it, so are often sickly and weak. Try to encourage damp.

Priests - officials of the grain hegemony; lived in the temple. Their descendants live on among exiled surface dwarves. Their bodies are dressed in fine linens (mostly rotted) and some gold leaf jewelry (mostly valuable). Some were given unlife through the Lazarene Linens.

Random Encounters in the Plough Temple (Roll d6)

1-2 : Root Titan AC-inverse of chain (like a penalty) HD-3 Attack-d8.
Like a big vegetable gorilla. Very slow; always goes last. Can Body Slam for d8 but must spend a turn getting back up from prone. If owned, will defend owner until dead or called off. See Root Jar below.

3-4 : 1d6 Scarecrows AC-as chain HD-2 Attack-d4
Trail straw as they hop around on a single pole. Can cast Cause Fear or Enervate or whatever, plus will smell and track down any birds in the temple (every random encounter is a hostile scarecrow encounter if you brought a bird).

5 : Corn Smut Myconid AC-as chain HD-(roll d6) Attack-d6
Fungus is slowly creeping up into the temple from below. A bloated, saggy blue-gray mushroom man with half a dried corn cob sticking out his head. Really dumb. Edible, restores 1 health per HD it had. A delicacy among Mountain Dwarves who will pay 50gp per HD

6 : The Salt Druid AC-as scale HD-4 Attack-1d3 plus blinds (flings salt)
Hates everything that was here since they were all asshole farmers. Can be parleyed with and assist you. Wants the First Plough in his keeping or destroyed.
Knows Plant Growth, Enrage Plants and Metal to Salt.
Also has an allied rock salt Geodude (small earth elemental) named Geddy Lee. Weak to water.


Pic unrelated
Root Jar.
A big clay jar with runes and straps to wear it on your back. Full o dirt. Plant root veggies inside: pull one out for a portable meal, or dump it all at once to create a Root Titan. It can't speak but will obey your spoken commands. Guards you til dead. You can cut off its eyes to replant but it will be blind. Takes a week to grow enough for a new one.

Udril’s Head. He had vestigial horns, very embarrassing. Attaching it back to his statue will open the way down to The Undertemple beneath the burn altar. At that time (or earlier if you use Speak With Animals) he can tell you what he's seen in the room he was in - usually something regarding the root/grain conflict. When you ask what’s up with his horns, makes it clear he will not talk about The Undertemple.
Things Udril might tell about the Undertemple:
1- Do not go! But when you do, ask my kin to visit. It has been an age of this world.
2- My father knew what he was doing. The weak minds of this age do not. The blood runs strong.
3- Remember: drink deep of immortality, or not at all! Such forces are not to be dabbled in!
4- Be careful to know your way back. There is no other way.

First Plough. This is matte black and razor sharp. It makes a zipper sound if you run your finger down the side and will shred it if you run it the other way, like insane sharkskin. It can plough anything. Soil, rocky soil, packed soil, rubble, lava, solid stone, water, human flesh and bone, piles of grain, linen, a tree trunk. Anything. You need to reattach it to a frame and hitch it to an ox to do it properly though.

Pic Semirelated

Anything you plant in the furrow it leaves will grow. This leads to all sorts of wacky effects, obviously, because it is from space and it’s replicating something (you can dig up the ‘seed’ when it’s done). Lots of people will want this. Apart from normal nearby kingdoms etc, one of these will track you down per week if word gets out you have it:
1- Sisyphian Marxist Tritons, to plough the sea...for the proletariat
2- The sole Coeurl trapped on this world, to replicate necessary stargate parts
3- Illithids. They forgot how to reproduce a long time ago so want to try cloning

4- Le Culte D’Arthur, to plant more swords in stones (to up their chances)

The Undertemple is basically a whole ‘nother dungeon which will be revealed in time.