Monthly Archives: March 2012

Instatown, Part 2- Zak Suggested I Give it a go, Who am I to Argue?

Yesterday I did a post discussing how to use Zak’s Instadungeon and Instaregion method in conjunction with Vornheim to create Instatown.

In the post I mentioned looking at the number on the d6 to generate what is going on in that building.

Zak suggested I take it a step further, and like his Instadungeon, utilize the number value on every die.

Instadown Situation Generator

D4

1-     Woman is fighting with her husband after he hit her.

2-     The Decayed Bed of the Chaotic Constable is hidden here.

3-     The owner of the building has been having nightmares of a strange apparition and wants to know what it means.

4-     1d4 bandits (same level as dice) are holed up in building.

 

D6

1-     A man has seen a strange glow on the horizon to the north and swears the wind whispers his name.

2-     The owner of the building is a serial killer and one of the players is the next target.

3-     There is an attic filled with long forgotten relics, however the owner is terrified to go up there because of strange noises.

4-     Landlord is threatening to evict tenant.  Argument happens in front of player(s).

5-     The Goopy Broom of the Massive Warrior can be purchased here.

6-     Beneath the building is a tunnel that leads to an ancient burial site.

 

D8

1-     The priest of the town is actually a demon in disguise

2-     Player(s) walking in just as someone is murdered.  Killer is standing above body laughing.  Seems deranged.

3-     Landlord wants to hire players to get money out of tenant.

4-     The building smells like rancid meat.  Clings to player(s) for 1d6 days, no matter how much they bathe.

5-     A person is desperately attempting to sell the Squealing Shirt of the Vicarious Noble out of sheer annoyance.  They don’t realize the rare items special powers.

6-     The building conjures food, water, and 1d20 gold for each person that stays in the house for 24 hours.  While in the house occupants aging halts.

7-     A rich noble disappeared one night while drinking from the well.

8-     The mayor of the town has been bought off by slavers- who are coming to raid the town while the guard is out.

 

D10

1-     Someone was just in town asking about one of the players.

2-     It was just discovered that a tavern/Inn that serves food has been serving patrons cooked people for years.

3-     Five children have gone missing out in the fields.  Bloody clothing was found on a tree.  People are desperate for answers, begging players for help.

4-     Owner is preparing for a celebration that is taking place in the town center that evening.

5-     The Crimson Musicbox of the Childlike Slave has been playing for 40 years nonstop.  All those who enter room must make a Wisdom based save or hear music in their heads permanently (-2 to all perception/concentration rolls).

6-     Three people are talking hurriedly in whispers, as player(s) walk by they hear name of one in group.  If asked- people swear they said nothing.

7-     A wizard is close to a magical discovery- he just needs one last ingredient; a troll’s heart that is backed in the sun for 4 days and then kissed by a virgin.  He will pay well for this.

8-     Player is confused for a person’s dead spouse.  The bereaved glom onto the player and won’t leave them alone.

9-     Someone has been messing around in the cemetery at night.

10- Old friend of one of the players is in building.  Roll d3- 1) Happy 2) Angry 3) Outright Hostile.  Ask player how this came to be.

 

D12

1-     A crazy old lady in town, heralded as a prophet, begs the players to find the Ever Warm Heart of the Rabbit to protect their village from the harsh winter.

2-     The players have a reputation for causing trouble (justly or unjustly) and people eye them with suspicion.

3-     Giant Centipedes burst from the ground and begin attacking the livestock.

4-     A local farmer is looking for people to guard his shipment of grain and foodstuffs on a trip to a neighboring village for trade.

5-     The local magistrate is declaring martial law as a way to protect everyone from recent attacks.

6-     The Worthless Mosaic of the Boorish Monkey God is on display here.

7-     The owner/tenant is actually a worshiper of a strange Spider God.

8-     Strange looking people have been visiting the large house on the outskirts of town.

9-     No one in the town has been able to sleep for 7 days.  Hysteria, paranoia, and exhaustion are taking their toll.

10- The dead have stirred and wander the outskirts of town.  The town priest is looking for brave souls to aid him in putting them to rest.

11- A woman runs across the street crying after a guy screaming, “It’s your baby you bastard!  It’s your baby!”

12- A strange man is wearing the Searing Chainmail of the Perverted Troll and causing a scene by arguing with a patron.

 

D20

1-     The woman here is actually an exiled princess who hopes to remain hidden.

2-     It is said that long ago a goddess wept and created the river that flows here.  It is dangerous to get to, but said to have magical properties.

3-     Bandits are robbing the place.

4-     The mayor’s son is missing in the mines.  He wants players to go find him.

5-     A fight breaks out between two different races.  This seems to be a long time coming and seems to have divided the whole town.  Fighting spills into the streets.

6-     The Burned Pearl from the Petite Vampire can be seen glowing in the window at night.

7-     The mirror here shows you one fortune.

8-     People are whispering about a strange smell coming from the house on the hill, but all are afraid to go investigate.

9-     Mages spell backfired and created a vortex and a demon has come out and is causing havoc.

10- Strange beasts have been attacking the outskirts of the town.  They need help with this problem.

11- A person gets violently ill all over the players.  The townsfolk believe the person has a plague.

12- A woman has a potion she is looking to sell called the Gaunt Victory of the Mourning Bastard.

13- The owner/tenant of the building is blind, yet somehow can see everything.

14- If you bathe nude in the well at midnight you will gain unnatural beauty for 1d3 days (in actuality the townsfolk are just having one over on the person and come out and laugh).

15- The building is on fire and people are scurrying to put it out.

16- A group of raiders bunked out in the hills have been raiding the countryside.  The town fears they will be next.  People ask for help.

17- Someone the player has wronged in their past shows up and starts making a scene.  Have the player explain how this came to be.

18- The Screaming Sword of the Crumbling Demon has been kept locked in ruins beneath this building for over a century.

19- The Obnoxious Parasol of the Angry Dwarf can be purchased here.

20-  The town was founded on an old swamp and is now hurriedly sinking into the bog.  Evacuation efforts need to be organized and aided.

***

If none of these suit your fancy, you can still utilize the original method to generate a quick theme and then create your own idea:

Themes

1-     Rumor

2-     Active Problem

3-     Job

4-     Interesting Situation

5-     Strange and Random Item

6-     More Than What it Seems

Nerdville

I created another town using the outlined method as an example and for people to steal if they feel so inclined.

Now when a die lands on a line to create a jumble of buildings, it’s kinda boring to have the whole group have the same issue (unless it makes sense, I.E. a block fire or something).  I just re-rolled the same die to generate a different situation.

For residences, if you want them to have some sort of situation, I would honestly just roll a d6 and use the themes rather than one of the actual die situations.

Both map pages are one town, Nerdville.  Just slap em right next to one another for a full town of awesome.

Nerdville 1

Buildings

Jail– d4 (2)- The Decayed Bed of the Chaotic Constable is hidden here. *I swear I actually rolled that and didn’t plan it..  Fitting.

Town Hall- d4 (3)- The owner of the building has been having nightmares of a strange apparition and wants to know what it means.

Candlemaker– d12 (6)-  The Worthless Mosaic of the Boorish Monkey God is on display here.

Gambling Hall– d20 (13)- The owner/tenant of the building is blind, yet somehow can see everything.

Leatherworks– d20 (5)- A fight breaks out between two different races.  This seems to be a long time coming and seems to have divided the whole town.  Fighting spills into the streets.

General Outfitter– d10 (3)- Five children have gone missing out in the fields.  Bloody clothing was found on a tree.  People are desperate for answers, begging players for help.

Jeweler– d10 (5)- The Crimson Musicbox of the Childlike Slave has been playing for 40 years nonstop.  All those who enter room must make a Wisdom based save or hear music in their heads permanently (-2 to all perception/concentration rolls).

Locksmith– d10 (1)- Someone was just in town asking about one of the players.

Church– d8 (1)- The priest of the town is actually a demon in disguise.

*Again- this is what I rolled..  Yet how fitting.

Printer/Engraver– d8 (4)- The building smells like rancid meat.  Clings to player(s) for 1d6 days, no matter how much they bathe.

Tavern/Inn– d6 (4)- Landlord is threatening to evict tenant.  Argument happens in front of player(s).

Nerdville 2

Buildings-

Apothecary– d20 (11)- A person gets violently ill all over the players.  The townsfolk believe the person has a plague.

Granary– d6 (1)- A man has seen a strange glow on the horizon to the north and swears the wind whispers his name.

Hatter– d6 (5)- The Goopy Broom of the Massive Warrior can be purchased here.

Money Lender– d10 (4)- Owner is preparing for a celebration that is taking place in the town center that evening.

Mason– d10 (7)- A wizard is close to a magical discovery- he just needs one last ingredient; a troll’s heart that is backed in the sun for 4 days and then kissed by a virgin.  He will pay well for this.

Bordello– d8 (2)- Player(s) walking in just as someone is murdered.  Killer is standing above body laughing.  Seems deranged.

Ostler– d8 (3)- Landlord wants to hire players to get money out of tenant.

Doctor– d12 (10)- The dead have stirred and wander the outskirts of town.  The town priest is looking for brave souls to aid him in putting them to rest.

Shoemaker– d12 (5)- The local magistrate is declaring martial law as a way to protect everyone from recent attacks.

Large Residence– d4 (1)- Woman is fighting with her husband after he hit her.

After you roll a number and if it seems really unique and not able to be used again, cross it off and create a new one!  

Hope you enjoy and get some use out of this!


Instatown Using Zak’s Method and Vornheim

A long long time ago, on a blog post far far away, Zak showed a quick, easy, and awesome way to generate dungeons on  the fly.  Last month we saw this insta”X” evolve into INSTAREGION, which again, is a quick and easy way to generate locations and interests in the surrounding area.

The other day I started thinking that the same thing could be used to create an instatown.  Zak has already given the foundation of this method in his Vornheim book on page 71 (PDF) or Inside Back Cover (Print).

Before I rolled the dice I was hit with inspiration on having the d6’s mean something.

Here’s what I came up with:

The number facing up on the d6:

1-     Rumor

2-     Active Problem

3-     Job

4-     Interesting Situation

5-     Strange and Random Item

6-     More Than What it Seems

After that I placed a blank piece of white paper over the Vornheim chart and tossed the dice.  I traced the boxes that the dice had landed on and boom- in 5 minutes I had a map (see pics below).  These took longer because I inked the fucking things and what not.

Town 1

Based on the dice here is what I ended up with:

Town 1

Butcher- Active Problem

Cheesemaker- Interesting Situation

Gambling Hall- Job

Hatter- Job

Jeweler- Strange and Random Item

MarketHall-Job

Mason- Rumor

Printer/Engraver- Active Problem

Shoemaker- More Than What it Seems

Stonecarver- Rumor

So I have a bunch of ideas for what could be going on in this town, should my players decided to stroll through.

Town 2

Based on the dice here is what I ended up with:

Town 2

Farm- Rumor

Curiosity Shop- More Than What it Seems

Furrier- Rumor

General Outfitter- More Than What it Seems

Granary- Strange and Random Item

Leatherworks- Interesting Situation

MarketHall-Active Problem

Money Lender- Rumor

Ostler- Job

Tavern- More than What it Seems

Taxidermist- Job

*I added the tavern and farm because I felt like the town could use one.

Both maps I added in residences throughout and even those, if you felt so inclined, could get a d6 roll to see what is going on.  I drew streets on the first map and said fuck it on the second….  It doesn’t have paved streets because they’re too hardcore.  However I added where the doors were in case that was needed for player knowledge.

Crafting these towns and maps literally took me about 10 minutes.  I now have two maps I can use if needed.


Wrathofzombie’s Stab at the Monster Manuals- H

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Harpy [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

I’ve always like the Harpy; a disgusting female creature that lures you in with her beautiful voice and then kills you.  The interesting thing about a Harpy is the cool implied story.  What caused this creature to become what it is?  Behind the savagery and evil is a beauty that can’t be denied (even if you are trying).

I read up on Harpies on Wiki and found out that during the Greek and Roman eras there was confusion between the Harpy and the Siren (hence why Harpies are portrayed as having the heavenly voice). Also that the Siren’s were either given wings by Demeter to find Persephone when she was abducted by Hades or flip that and they were cursed by Demeter for letting Persephone be abducted.  I’m using mythos influence how I will handle Harpies.

Harpies were once beautiful Nymphs who have been cursed because they failed in their charge to protect the unsoiled and sacred areas of nature.  When this happens the Nymph goes through a terrifying and painful transformation.  Her skin becomes coarse, flaky, and scaly.  She sprouts wings covered in a sickly auburn plumage.  Her face becomes twisted and ugly yet there is evidence of the Nymphs once overwhelming beauty that still lingers.

Once the transformation is complete the Harpy is banished from the realm and seeks out its sisters in the far reaches of the land, preferring badlands or blighted areas.  They are cruel, evil, and extremely emotional, sometimes to the point of hysterics.  The Harpy has the ability to use its voice, which only the strongest are able to resist, to lure in human prey.

Possible World Knowledge

  • The Harpy is an extremely cunning hunter that uses a creature’s weaknesses against it.
  • The Harpy’s song captivates those who hear it making them forever a slave.
  • The Harpy is vain compulsively believing that they are the most beautiful creatures alive.
  • The Harpy is able to control the mind of men [F].
  • The Harpy is the offspring of a demon [F].
  • The Harpy is afraid of mirrors [F].

Hellhound [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

Hellhounds are fucking badass; flaming wolves that hunt and bite and burn.  I’d pretty much keep them as they are now, but I’ve added one thing to them.

Unlucky Aura– Hellhounds carry an evil aura around them that causes any “non-evil” creature within 30 feet to suffer from grave misfortune.  Targets in the aura must reroll all checks and take the lowest of the two rolls.  This aura is highly appreciated by those who train Hellhounds as guard/attack dogs.

Hobgoblin [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

Really not much I can add to the Hobgoblin.  I like Pathfinder expanding on just how crafty the Hobgoblin is by using siege engines, alchemy, and various forms of engineering to overcome the enemy’s defenses before utterly destroying them.

I could see Hobgoblin’s being a bit like the Jem’Hadar from Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  They are utterly rigid in their devotion to war and the glory of a death in battle.  Those who die of old age are ridiculed and not spoken of again.  Only Shaman’s feared for their magical ability are given allowance to live into their twilight years.

Homunculus [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Homunculus (aside from letting a player create one) because they’re basically weak and pathetic imp-looking creatures.  If I want a creature that will be troublesome for players..  It will be Imps, not a Homunculus.

The Monster Manual Homunculus is just fucking boring, there is zero flavor text.  The Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades at least have some flavor of this creature that goes bat-shit crazy should the master die.  That’s a little better.

Zak posted a link to wiki page about the Homunculus and there is some pretty cool info here.  Zak’s version of the creature offers some good food for thought and taking in what the Wiki page said, especially about Teratoma, made me think of how I would handle Homunculus from now on:

Wizards dabble in the secrets of the arcane and to some this is an all-consuming arduous task.  Wizards often require help but loathe sharing their research or secrets with others, even possible apprentices.  Thus they delve into the strange world of the Homunculus.

These strange creatures are created from the wizard’s own flesh and blood.  The Wizard must craft a potion containing his blood, flesh, hair, and a tooth that are mixed with herbs and charged with arcane energies.  Once the potion is drunk the wizard’s body small pulsating lump on his side that grows over three months to the size of a large watermelon.  On the full moon of the third month the lump bursts and in a deluge of pus, blood, and worse this strange creature is deposited on the floor.

The Homunculus is an extension of the wizard and has some of his personality and features, although oddly distorted as if possibly showing what is really inside the wizard (this can be determined by the player or rolled randomly on the table below) standing roughly 18 to 24 inches in height.  The creature is absolutely dedicated to the wizard and will follow any command without question.  The Homunculus has a personality and is conscious but does not have free will.  The Homunculus also has one strange ability or power that is granted due to the magical nature of its creation.

Should its master die the creature obtains full free will but something inside the Homunculus has broken, as if a vital piece of itself has been lost forever.  This can lead to violent outbreaks of rage, sorrow, or even delusions of grandeur as the creature thinks it is now the master and seeks its own gains, but often these are strange and incomprehensible as the creature is an artificial being removed from humanity.

Should a Homunculus be destroyed the wizard suffers 2d10 damage.

Roll twice on table, once for deformity and once for ability.

Homunculus Table

Roll

Deformity

Ability

1

Hunchback Ability to cast 2 spells (levels 1 or 2) as a 3rd level wizard

2

Odd colored Skin (blue, green, black, purple, yellow, etc) Able to discern lies

3

Curled hands Poisonous bite- 1d6 dex damage

4

Oddly deformed extremities Able to cause target relive terrible tragedy

5

Bleeding gums Fear aura

6

Needle fanged teeth Acidic Vomit- 1d8 damage

7

Scarred body Sprout Wings- gain flight

8

Enlarged head Change Shape into small animal

9

Exact copy of wizard Can attempt to merge and posses creature

10

Pustules all over body Cover area of floor with sticky thick mucus

11

No eyes Able to absorb memories from target

12

Constant Conjunctivitis Feed of creatures vitality- 1d6 con damage

13

Unable to talk only shrieks Ability to warp wood into any shape

14

Strange pot belly Ability to rust any metal it touches

15

Infantile body Blood is an airborne hallucinogen

16

Black pulsating veins Magic spells cast at it are absorbed and cause creature to grow in size

17

Organs on outside of its body Is able to create food and water for one person once per day

18

Necrotic Body parts that fall off and eventually grow back Is able to mimic the skills of a person it touches for 24 hours

19

Shallow hollow face with terrified eyes Its fingers are edible and grant the wizard strange random effects.  Once all have been eaten they grow back

20

Constantly twitches, spits, and wets itself Causes nodes to appear all over target that turn into edible fungus and mold in 1d4 days.

Howler [Monster Manual]


The picture of the Howler is pretty cool and I can dig that the beasts howl, when subjected to it for too long, can cause madness and hysteria.  That’s pretty fucking awesome actually.  Imagine being trapped in a cave attempting to get away from a pack of these baddies coming after you, all the while chittering and howling and slowly driving you mad.

Why a dog though?  Too many dogs in D&D.  I especially don’t like that this is a dog-like creature since it is an evil outsider.  I would rather have it look like one of the little crazy critters from Cloverfield (see pics below) that if bit you exploded.  That’d make Howlers even worse.

Blood Explosion– If bit by a Howler you must make a Constitution based save, failure mean that you swell and burst taking 2d12 damage and continue to bleed 1d6 per round until healed.

Hydra [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

There really is nothing I can say about a Hydra to make it any cooler in my book, however I really don’t dig Hydra’s with legs or breath weapons because that’s what we have dragons for.  I prefer the ones that have snake body.  Neither the C&C or MM books have mention of a Hydra’s head growing back and you’ve GOT to have that shit!  That’s what makes them really awesome.


Anyone Played Interface Zero- Savage Worlds Edition?

I’m scoping out Interface Zero for Savage Worlds for two reasons

  1. I’ve promised some o’ my players (for some time now) that I would run a Cyberpunk game for them.
  2. To hack it to add stuff to my Firefly game I am currently running.

 

I like incorporating that darker dystopian theme to my Firefly games and it works well.

I’ve scoped out some reviews on the game and it seems pretty cool and has stuff I could use.

I’m interested in the Cyberware rules and the Contacts/Streetcred as well.

Anyone know if this could be hacked easily for something like Firefly?

 

Thanks for the info!

 

 


Firefly: Hurtlin’ Through the ‘Verse Session- Tying the Characters Together

This Sunday I am going to a session of Firefly: Hurtlin’ Through the ‘Verse for a few friends, but the kicker is I’m not going to use the rules I created using the AGE system.  I’m going to use one of my favorite systems: Savage Worlds.

I’ve created some Edges and Hindrances based off my Wrath of Zombie as well as inspired by two other Firefly Savage Worlds conversions (here and here).  I also found a cool fan made generic Sci-Fi kit that has an AWESOME adventure generator (pages 39-41).

This is basically a one shot, with the hopeful possibility of playing more often (we’ll see).  The first session is inspired by Brandon’s own Firefly game (to my players- don’t peak!).

Into the Black

I wanted the characters to be linked together somehow and have a quick story as to why (see the amazingly awesome picture below).

I rolled up who knew who through various jobs.

I got skillz

 

At the start of the game the players will roll a d6 to determine how long they have known one another:

1-2- Just met on a job (within a month)

3-4- Met months ago- roll 1d6

5-6- Met 1d3 years ago.

 

After that I thought it would be a great opportunity to utilize the Interlude rules from SWDX, pg 91.  Give the players 5 minutes to come up with a story and BOOM!  We know how/why they are together and we will be hurtlin’ through the ‘Verse!

 

What are Interludes?  Well I’m so glad you asked!  Check em out!

 

I will have a session recap for Firefly next week!


WrathofZombie’s Stab at the Monster Manuals- G (Big One Today)

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Gargoyle [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

The Gargoyle is such a badass enemy and not only does it represent something that has existed in human societies for millennia, but it keeps players on their toes.  Put them up against one or two gargoyles in a roof top battle and they’ll never look at stone architecture the same.  Each stone statue is now a possible enemy that can carry them into the air and let them drop to their death.

Zak S. makes a good point on Gargoyle construction:

“The solution is to suggest that the human artisan’s mind has been possessed by some sort of demon, which then forces him/her to carve an idol in the shape of the demon that’s whispering in his ear and thus to create a body that the demon can inhabit on earth out of stone.”

I like this idea of construction.  It reminds very much of Call of Cthulhu.  As Cthulhu shifts restlessly in R’lyeh his thoughts strike and influence artists to create maddeningly strange and dangerous artifacts across the land for what purpose people know not. 

Possible World Knowledge

  • Gargoyles are artistic constructions infused with demonic magic and presence.
  • The stone composite of a Gargoyle makes them resistant to normal damage.
  • Some Gargoyles have a purpose given to them by the demonic influence that they attempt to carry out.
  • Gargoyles are the offspring of demons [F].
  • The stone of a Gargoyle has magical properties [F].
  • The Gargoyle is a highly intelligent creature [F].

Giant [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

I’ve rarely used a Giant in my campaigns…  I have nothing against them, it just hasn’t come up.

Cloud Giants

Cloud giants are fucking lame and I would never put them in a game.  Even the pictures makes the giant look like a fop who sits on a cloud guffawing at your puny attempts to talk with it or fight it while sipping on wine muttering things like, “How a propos..”  Or “You’re fighting me with poisoned tooth picks..  How avant-garde.”  Yeah..  Not in my game.  Not to mention other depictions make them look like the Jolly Green Giant.

Frost Giants

These guys are badass and would make great villains.  They are vicious raiders with little regard for what they consider lesser races.   Want good examples of these guys read Conan the Barbarian stories.

Hill and Stone Giants

How about we just combine these two giants into one race?  I really don’t see the point in these two races.  They basically do the same thing and look like they have same temperament.  Nothing is really lost by the merge.

Gibbering Mouther [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

The Aboleth subjected many slaves to untold amounts of torture and agony through their ability to transmute flesh.  The worst and far more pitiable ones are those who were merged together to create the Gibbering Mouther.

This creature undulates across the ground wandering constantly with no real direction except with the strange need to visit places that one of the many slaves used to find important.

Gibbering: To hear the many voices of this creature is to bring madness.  Each mouth babbles recollections of its former life, begging, pleading, and mewling.  Targets within earshot must make a Wisdom based save or be driven insane for 1d4 hours.

Absorb: The Gibbering Mouther will bite down on a creature and begin to digest/absorb it into its collective mass.  Each bite does 1d3 points of damage and a successful Constituation based save must be made to avoid 1d3 Con damage as well.  If the targets Con is reduced to zero they are enveloped by the Gibbering Mouther and become a part of it.

Githyanki [Monster Manual]

Once again Zak S. has a pretty damned cool idea for an enemy.  I would also make them crazy ass zealots that mutilate their flesh and bodies in honor of their twisted gods and beliefs.

Priests allow their wounds to become infected and the pus is used to foretell the future.  I could see these creatures having strong Psionic abilities.  I’m not really big on allowing players psionic abilities, but giving them to enemies is fine by me.

Gnoll [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

Gnolls are great enemies.  They are fierce looking while being cowards in a solo fashion, so when a player sees a single Gnoll they are afraid, not of the one, but the pack that is lurking in the shadows about to spring some completely unfair trap.

Gnolls should use every dirty trick in the book to come after the players!  For some reason I see Gnolls as the Marauders from Mad Max.  Organized just enough to function in some strange pack-like mentality but they’ll eat each other for when one shows weakness.  Gnolls boarder on utter insanity, but can have moments of sheer frightening brilliance.  These are the creatures that will somehow fashion a set of crossbows on a swivel so they can fire a shit ton of bolts at those they are attempting to waylay when the technology isn’t really there.

Goblin [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

The Goblin is always a staple in my campaigns since I first started role-playing.  I’ve loved Goblins since I read Goblins in the Castle when I was little.  They are terrifying, mischievous, with a culture beyond our comprehension.  Not because it is so vastly alien or complex, but just because it doesn’t make any damned sense.

Noisms makes a very good point about how Goblins should be portrayed in fantasy settings.  I know that Paizo did some awesome stuff with Goblins in their Classic Monsters Revisited book.

I’ve never really just treated Goblins as part of the Orc family.  Here’s how I handle it:

As long as there has been civilization there have been naughty children.  Legend speaks of children so disobedient and unruly that their parents offered them up to the Witch of the Woods hoping that the token of a bad child would grant her blessing in the future for a more obedient offspring.

The Witch of the Woods came in the shadows of the night and snatched up these children and took them deep within the forests.  There she encouraged the children’s terrible behavior, teaching them new ways of naughtiness, disobedience, and cruelty.  With each act the child took it changed them, warped their exterior to match the terrible nature within until they were mutated into what is now known as the Goblin.

While Goblin’s are not physically fierce foes it is their cruelty, complete unpredictability, and lack of care and respect for life, even their own, that frightens people and keeps them living in fear of Goblin attacks.

Golem [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

Not much work can be done on Golems except to make them as cool as hell instead of “This lifeless stone statue clobbers you to death with its big ol’ boot!”

I think the statues that shoot the fire from its eyes in Never Ending Story made for a cool and different type of Golem.

Gorgon [Pathfinder and Monster Manual]

First let’s look at Zak’s thoughts about the Gorgon because it is what stirred the memory in my brain:

What do you do with this thing? A metal bull with poison breath named after the creature that D&D calls “a medusa”.

First, change the name. Second, I think, is look up the (possibly apocryphal) Bull of Heliogabulus. This is a torture device shaped like hollow bull, into which the victim is placed. The bull is then heated, and bad things occur.

Perhaps the victim is still in there, and the posion breath is made from the dying breath of the torture victim, or the victims are all long dead and their spirits inhabit the bull. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be a bull. I mean, minotaurs are better and kind of hog the slot. Maybe it’s a metal…horse? Boar?

First I have NEVER liked the Gorgon.  First because a magical metal bull that roams the countryside just seems, to me, extremely lame and out of place.  I checked out what a Gorgon was in mythology and low and behold..  They are like Medusa, only immortal.  Well we have Medusa for that so we don’t need a fucking bull to do that.

Anyways let me point back to Zak’s comment for a moment.  His talk of the Bull of Heligabulus reminded me about something I read on Erzabet Bathory.  When she was a child she was forced to watch as her father tortured a gypsy and then cut open a horse stomach, forced the man in there, sewed him inside, and left him to die.

So I got to thinking that what if that is the same thing.  This guy is sewn up in the stomach of a horse and dies, but the horse still lives in some half necrotic wound infected state, unable to truly die due to this ghost or wraith or whatever inside of it…  It wanders around and emits a fog cloud that can cause nasty necrotic injuries and wounds.  This makes the Gorgon (which I agree with Zak the name needs to be changed.  I’m not even sure why they called it a Gorgon in the first place)  really feared and it isn’t dead/undead so it can’t be turned or anything like that.  Maybe the Gorgon can only truly be killed if the “spirit” that is trapped inside is freed and destroyed or whatever.  That would make them fun.  Your players think they killed the damned thing only to see it stand up again and charge at them.

Possible World Knowledge

  • Gorgon can rot a person from the inside out.
  • The Gorgon is immune to damage from mundane weaponry.
  • The Gorgon will attack healthy horses with reckless abandon.
  • The Gorgon is an undead monstrosity from the depths of hell [F].
  • The Gorgon’s fog aura is capable of turning a person to stone [F].
  • The Gorgon fears the touch of holy water [F].

Green Hag [Pathfinder]

I really dig the Green Hag in Pathfinder.  This nasty creature would be fun to put up against the players.  The sweet barmaid that one of the players have been banging for awhile and seems so sweet and innocent is really the one who has been causing them so much trouble and hassle.  Turn such a minor NPC like that into a big bad and the PC’s will have no idea who to trust.

Looking at the Green Hag’s abilities I think Mimicry is pretty boring.  I don’t think being able to scream “Get them my pretties!” in chipmunk, alligator, and swamp rat would lend itself to being the most thrilling of fights.

The drawing in the book shows massive lumps on the hag. I think that is kick ass.  I see these things filled with nasty puss that can explode when struck leaking a nasty smelling burning substance all over the players.  Maggots spill out and writhe on the floor.

Pustules– When a Green Hag is struck by any form of weapon or magic there is a 2 in 6 chance that one of the many pustules on her body will erupt spraying all in a 5ft cone w/ the thick burning substance.  Targets take 1d4+1 damage and must make a Constitution based save or become nauseated.  The pus and maggots glop onto the floor making it slippery and difficult to keep balance.  A Green Had has 1d6+1 filled pustules.

Possible World Knowledge

  • The Green Hag’s favorite food is the meat of the innocent, preferably children.
  • The Green Hag cannot resist destroying a love sick young man.
  • Mirror’s can show the Green Hag’s true appearance.
  • Green Hags are weak against silver [F].
  • Green Hags have the ability to suck the life force out of a person [F].
  • The Green Hag has the ability to command the creatures of the swamp [F].

Grick [Monster Manual]

The Grick shows where the Mind Flayer evolved from.  I just don’t think that the Grick would inspire fear so much as a “what the hell?” kind of feeling.  I guess I could put them in my game in dungeons, but there are so many other things that are cooler.

Griffon [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]

Griffons are badass and awe-inspiring to behold.  Totally belong in my games.

Grimlock [Monster Manual]

Grimlocks are blind non-hairy version of Morlocks from HG Wells Time Machine.  The picture from the Monster Manual doesn’t exactly get my scare on, but I think if the Grimlocks were treated more like that creatures from the Descent that would definitely do it.  Bat-like, almost completely feral, its society a pack-like mentality with an Alpha.

The creatures love the taste of flesh and the pheromones created by fear are like a drug to them.  They prefer to eat the flesh of a living starting with feet and legs and work their way up, savoring the scent of fear the entire time.


No One Cares That You are a Beautiful and Unique Snow Flake Except Your Mom, Part II- Show Don’t Tell and Star Wars

I did a post last week talking about disliking pages and pages of back story from my players in my current Swords and Sorcery OSR style game and how I handle (in general) back story in other games.

I got some good comments and feedback via Google+ and comments on the blog.

My post even got a post reaction from two fellow bloggers (The Rhetorical Gamer, and Role | Playing).  I was pretty flattered by that.  I read through their reactions and I’ll admit it, their right.  However so am I.  Different ways of handling things, preferences, and fun is what makes this hobby fun and diverse.

I do want to state that I’m not opposed to back story from my players, which some people seemed to take as what I was saying, I’m just not in favor of pages of back story.

I am a big fan of show, don’t tell mentality.  If you want to give me, as I said in the last post, a few pieces of fluff to build upon in game that’s awesome!  I just don’t need family trees and histories and etc, especially if it isn’t something that isn’t going to come up and occur in game.

The other morning it dawned on me that Star Wars Episodes IV-VI are an excellent example of my preferred play-style (again you may disagree, which is totally jake with me).

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away..

Let’s treat Star Wars Episode IV as if it was an actual game session that we were watching.  The GM has told the players to roll some dice and create a character.  They have a few minutes to get a handle on them and then it’s go time.  When everyone is ready….

Boom!!  Opening Crawl begins!  This is the GM telling us what is going on in the game setting/session.

When you look at Episode IV there is only one character who really has any back story that filters in and that is Luke, but again it all happens on screen and the players (if this was a game) are experiencing it as they play.

You don’t know that Leia is adopted until the third movie….

You don’t know how Han and Chewie ended up together…

You don’t know how Vader got in the suit…

You don’t know who created C3PO and R2D2…

None of that background is as important as what is currently happening to the characters at that moment, sure it may come up as blurbs here and there and add flavor, but is quick and built on.

As you progress through the V and VI, small bits of “back story” flit in but again are small things that a player could jot down, but not huge walls of text.

Lando adds to Han’s back story through play.  He’s a new player that is thrown into the game and is asked to connect his character with one of the others.  It is easiest, given both character’s personalities to link them into a shady deal in the past, but again it’s never mentioned.  All you know is that somehow Han fucked over Lando.

Please don’t point out what is explained in the Extended Universe (I read the books and some of the comics, so I know), comics, back of toys, etc.  If we take the info given to us only through the lens of EP IV-VI movies, things become completely different than with all the superfluous information from the extended sources. 

Episodes I-III are crap (from this example’s point of view and not the myriad of OTHER reasons- see video below for that) because they are basically the back story that DIDN’T to be told.  They aren’t interesting and really didn’t add anything to the game play at hand.

If you want deep and complicated back story as a player or a GM, more power to you and there is nothing wrong with that.

I just don’t desire overly complicated and convoluted back story in my games.  Every so often I get a wild hair up my butt and ask for it.  Again I’ll state that if a player WANTS to do it, I never tell them no.  Let the writer beware.

I just look forward to the stories that are emergent in play and not what is on paper.

Absolutely feel free to disagree or agree with what I’ve said.  I look forward, as always, to the discussion.