Monday, April 18, 2011


Here's something really nasty I came up with for a high-lvl/high-power campaign long ago, slightly re-tooled.

The VORPION is an intelligent Gnarthropod resembling a giant scorpion, with one pincer larger than the other,  and a wicked pronged barb instead of a stinger.  It's metallic, glossy black carapace is crisscrossed with scarlet markings resembling a network of veins, and its limbs are ringed with crimson bristles.  This creature can Detect Magic, will attempt to attack Spellcasters in preference to all others, and likes to collect Magic Items... and skulls.  The larger pincer is the Crushing Claw, while the smaller is the even deadlier Vorpal Claw.  The Crusher does 2d8 damage, and once a hit is scored, damage is automatic each rnd  (Bend Bars to escape).  The Vorpal Claw does 2d6 and decapitates opponents on a natural 20 TH, and if this attack is used on a foe already in the clutches of the Crusher, only an 18 or better is req to sever the head.  Note that DEX bonus to AC is negated while in the grip of the Crusher.  The tail barb impales for 2d4, doing an auto 1d4 the next rnd as it is withdrawn.  The tail is controlled by a secondary, lesser brain, which can still function independently if the main brain is affected/influenced somehow.  Although it does not normally attack with its mandibles, it will do so if it has no other choice, for 1d4 dam.  If a head is severed, things get really creepy, as the tail barb ceases to attack and instead impales the severed head and swings it aloft like a lantern.  The head's eyes light up bloody red, and the Vorpion then employs any Mental Powers/Spells/Knowledge stored in it's memory against any remaining attackers, taunting them in the voice of their former compatriot!  (Freak 'em out: have one appear with an already skewered head, cast a nasty Spell, toss the drained head, and advance seeking another!)

# appearing; 1 for God's sake; MV 12"; AC 3; HD 7; AT 3; Crusher 2d8+ crush, Vorpy 2d6+ snip, Tail Barb 2d4+ impale; (Spell use); Size 10' long; and as if all this isn't enough, the Vorpion takes only 1HP/die of Electrical damage (no save), just 'cause; XP; your game; Treasure; see XP, but give 'em a break!

Vorpion carcasses really should be worth something on the Alchemical/Spell research market; possibly their secondary brains are used as an ingredient in some arcane brew, their eyes (four pairs of increasing size -oh, they live underground, so Infravision!) are used in Potions, barbs could be made into (possibly magical) spears, and I'm thinking their claws might be fashioned into cool-looking shields, either small or large.  (NOT Vorpal-edged shields, though!)

UPDATE:  I just figured out why my battered notes on this Party Killin Machine read "Can employ Wands, etc, but not weapons"... the original draft did not have a tail spike, but rather an oversized human-like hand, which performed the same functions as above.  It was orig created as some sort of Wizard-hunting beast...

My turn to Play, your turn to DM!

Haven't been posting; distracted by the real world, and not DMing lately.  Our group takes turns at the helm, allowing those who want to DM to do so, and ea DM has their own campaign world, so I've been kinda lax with developing Gnarth and have just been enjoying playing my favorite character in my buddy's game.*

Thinking I'm still going to post "This Week's Game" anyhow, and blog about the events from a Player's point of view.  The last session involved climbing the "Endless Stair" from the module of the same name, heavily modified from the original version, no doubt, as our current DM is notorious for altering published adventures to the point that the original is barely recognizable, yet is immediately recognizable as "Brett's Game"!  You have taught me well, my master!

Spent the entire session climbing a spiral staircase into the sky, trying to avoid/overcome traps, posted guardians, and Summoned beasties, in an attempt to reach a "planar nexus" which would allow us access to the Abyss.  I could spend a few pages detailing our efforts... but I think that the best part of This Week's Game was the Staircase itself!  Knowing that we could slip or be tossed off of the stairs to fall hundreds of feet to our deaths at any time was a real Rush!  Made us really Think, and Discuss, and Argue a bit, too!  None of this "Screw it, let's just charge 'em!" mentality.  It was a genuine Thinking Player's session, and a lot of fun, and all because of a simple change of  venue from the norm.

*Aesson the Thief is now 14th (holy crap!) level... I like to incl a "starting date" for my PCs on the Char Sheet.  At the top of Aesson's sheet it says "Summer '86."  That's Nineteen Eighty Six, kids.  ...Wow.  Happy 25th anniversary Aesson!  'Bout time you settled down with a Guild of your very own, old friend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Well, SOME Dogs go to Heaven...

Was thinking of the Eight Million Mummified Dogs, and was reminded of Fritz Lieber's "Gods IN Lankhmar" (as opposed to the Gods OF Lankhmar), the Mummified Undead protectors who would rise and defend the city...  How about a city teeming w/cats &/or dogs, afforded the privilege of roaming free, considered sacred by the populace... a city which has stood for quite some time, partly due to the fact that, interred in the series of catacombs below, there are Eight Million Mummified Dogs...  ("Your War Dogs refuse to enter the tunnel.  Hmm?  Well, they look kinda scared, actually...")

(Oh, and dibs on "8MMD" as the name of a band, narrowly edging out long-time favorite, "The Chewy Turds")

Monday, April 4, 2011

Step Inside the Chamber, Please

Tossing around ideas for a Lovecraftian-creepy weird science laboratory dungeon, possibly the lair of Great Race or Primordials, was going to compile a list of (mostly) classic SciFi machines/technology, realized many involve "something you must enter"; Chambers, Tubes, Capsules, Booths, Vats, etc.  Padded it a bit to accommodate a d30, added some rough detailing

1. Clone-O-Matic - takes "samples" of DNA and begins growing a Simulacrum which shows up later.  Maybe it only makes a copy if the original donor dies, and the "new guy" comes walking around the corner in a state of Confusion, and can't understand why everyone seems upset to see him

2. Bacterial Spew Chamber - moist sphincter coughs up toxic cloud; Save and age is reduced 10+1d10 yrs, Fail and become terribly ill for 1d4 days

3. Probulator - restraints activate, manipulative arms extend, remove clothing/armor (possibly transfers them to locked "storage" compartment/area), body orifices are um, probed.  Unpleasant at best.

4. Orgasmatron - a strange but mostly pleasant experience, unless the machine malfunctions (%?) and becomes stuck in continuous cycle, lose 1 pt of CON/rnd for 5d4 rnds, 0 = coma, regain 1pt/hr

5. Suicide Booth - disposal of unwanted test subjects, possible selection of "Quick and Painless" or "Slow and Horrible"  (Save vs Disintegration, or take damage from variety of piercing/drilling/chopping thingys)

6. Career Chip Implantation Device - put your hand in there; the Morlocks will report you to the Primordials if you don't perform your assigned task.  "Ya gotta do what ya gotta do"

7. Astral Projectocarphagus - sends your Astral Body to some bizarre locale for predetermined stay, or until specific task is done, or item brought back

8. Potential Realizator - Gain (d4) 1d4 HP, 1 point to lowest Ability, 1 point to Primary Abil, enough XP to reach next level

9. Teleporter Pad/Pod - oldie, but still goodie

10. Cryogenic Freeze Tube - slams shut, flash freeze, readout counter says you can return to adventuring in 1d% yrs

11. Reanimator - Primordial Flesh Golem/Vat Guy factory!

12. Transmogrifier - (d4) gain additional limb/organ, gain new weird limb/organ, bizarre body proportion alteration, "ZAP, you're a Morlock"

13. Joy Can - mind-reading holographic projector fulfills your greatest desires, but its all evil.  You'll have to be dragged out by friends with metal headgear.  Fun way to explore PC motivations, and design future storylines

14. Interphasic Defragulator - caught between dimensions, you gain the benefits of Displacement (-2 AC, first strike always misses), but also suffer the effects of being Displaced (-2TH, first strike?  miss!)

15. Memory Upload Interface - gain knowledge, skill, ability, perhaps some familiarity with the odd devices here

16. Cosmetic Surgery Autodoc - performs necessary medical procedures to allow +1d4 CHAR pts, but does 1HP permanent dam in the process

17. Nanite Injector - I dunno, immunization, mental conditioning, "tracking" nanos... hmmm, "Midi-chlorians"?

18. Zero Grav Interspecies Toilet - extensive wall post of instructions in several alien languages.  If translated/comprehended somehow, contains numerous unfamiliar nouns and verbs.  Looks kinda like a shower stall; maybe you should stand in it.  Not that switch; it'll back-up and expel contents!

19. Cranial Unit Harvest, Preservation & Reattachment Bank, with Body Internment/Incineration feature - takes off yer head and attaches it to something else from the Stasis Chambers in the back, either saving your old body in stasis... or not

20. Cybernetic Limb/Organ Replacement Tank - we can make him better, stronger, faster, maybe by chopping off something and replacing it

21. Tattoo/Branding - experimental test subject indexing/identification.  Maybe something stupid will ignore you, or at least assume you shouldn't be attacked

22. The Nozzle - cybernetic "eye" on flexible tube extends and stares at PC.  Just do that.  Stare at them.  When they start to say something, interrupt and say, "Do not speak while the nozzle calibrates".  If they attempt to move, say, "Movement is not wise while the nozzle calibrates".  Just keep staring at them, and saying, "Nozzle is still calibrating" until they start to freak out.  Then the nozzle retracts without explanation.

23. Autodoc Vat - knocks you out and fixes you up.  Full HP!

24. Environmental Adaptation Capsule - modifies subject's structure in order to allow operation in dangerous/inhospitable environ; gills for underwater breathing, hairy pelt -1/die Cold damage, etc

25. Soylent Processor - basically a human-sized garbage disposal unit

26. Soylent Dispenser - organic materials from #25 are cooted forth as tiny green rosettes of edible meat by-subtances, served in corrugated paper cups

27. Time Machine - I know it wouldn't be a classic if it hadn't been done before, but this one is about tapped-out... maybe it sends you one hour into the future, and some Random Encounter is "suddenly" there waiting when you come out

28. Memory Wipe Amnesiotron - *FLASH!*  "Who are you guys?  Who am I?  Is this blood on me?!""

29. Synthetic Replicant Synthesizer - high-speed malevolent Android twin manufacture, possibly a "Terminator" model, if you're inclined

30. ROLL TWICE Combine results in bizarre fashion (no, please, not #18 + #26!)

Applicable nods, thanks, apologies, as appropriate, to Mr. Wells, Roddenberry, Kubrick, Publick, and Groenig, et al