Monthly Archives: December 2012

SECRET SANTICORE: Collector of Secrets Map!

Though the season has passed, the Santicore is still with us!!!

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

“A map of a lair (or just an inner sanctum) that would best suit the needs of a Collector of Secrets…”

Anthony F. did an awesome job with this map!

CollectorOfSecretsLair

Fa la la la..  la la la- oh fuck you...

Fa la la la.. la la la- oh fuck you…

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SECRET SANTICORE: Trouble at Tangkor- Tibetan-themed Site

The Santicore desires more Bone-marrow filled donuts!!

 

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

“A Tibetan-themed or -flavored site for a fantasy game.”

Rob S. summoned the demons of hell to bring us this bit of awesome!!

 

Due to formatting it has been kept as a PDF: Trouble at Tangkor Temple

Fa la la la..  la la la- oh fuck you...

Fa la la la.. la la la- oh fuck you…


SECRET SANTICORE: Monster Encounters in SPACE!!!

We choke on chicken bones… The Santicore chokes on Dire Mammoth bones…

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

“Either an encounter (monster or group of monsters) or a random encounter table for bronze-age astronauts travelling through space in some kind of primitive vessel.”

Justin D. heard the transmission and sent the signal back with this bit of goodness:

1d12 Encounter
1 Maze-steroid infested with mechano-minotaurs
2 Funerary rocket-barge carrying spirits of demolished robots
3 Star-sphinx singing “Riddles Of The Spheres”
4 Comets pushed by massive sky-scarabs
5 Constellation golems
6 Convoy of automated mining-chariots shuttling moon-copper into black hole
7 Laser-ziggurat of the gas giant, Vituprex The Vaporous
8 Saucer-viking raiding party
9 Debauched revel of the quasar-druids at Space-Henge
10 Pulsar-sirens and nebula-nymphs luring astronautical explorers to their doom
11 Contagious, infectious sunspots
12 Freshly hatched larval planets seeking sustenance
Do you have any floss?  I have a femur stuck in my teeth!

Excuse me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?


SECRET SANTICORE: The Santicore Traps!!

The Great Santicore is pleased with this!  He can guarantee that many people were hurt, mauled, maimed, tortured, poisoned, shot, stabbed, harmed, disemboweled, drowned, beheaded, killed, and subjected to multiple other nasty acts that made the Santicore have a great day.

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

 “A table of traps, either with different qualities so I can mix-n-match, or, say, 20 quirky traps that players won’t be expecting.”

Joshua M. slaughtered this pig wholesale, chewed on the intestines, and was granted this marvelous vision!

The Traps of the Santicore

Being a set of tables for generating concepts for traps for any system, with examples and discussion.

 

Tables

Purpose of Trap (d8)

  1. Capture
  2. Impede
  3. Injure/Kill
  4. Resource Sink
  5. Hazard
  6. Practical Joke
  7. Lock/Barrier
  8. Alarm

 

Trigger Type (d12)

  1. Pressure Plate
  2. Trip-wire
  3. Opening a container/door
  4. Removing pressure
  5. Occlusion
  6. Heat/Light
  7. Magnetism
  8. Guard-activated
  9. Permanent
  10. Sound
  11. Unusual Sense
  12. Timed

 

Location (roll separately for trigger and trap, d6)

  1. Floor
  2. Wall
  3. Ceiling
  4. Container
  5. Entrance
  6. Other

 

Obviously, some effort needs to be spent to make the trap coherent; if the trigger is a pressure-plate on the ceiling for a trap on the floor, it should be something like a place the door will brush as it’s opening, or be part of a feature on the ceiling like a mosaic or chandelier that the players will be tempted to explore.

Mechanism (d10)

  1. Gravity (pit trap, falling block, tilting floor, sharpened pendulum)
  2. Spring-loaded (arrow or spear)
  3. Clockwork (crushing walls, retracting catwalk, portcullis releasing beast)
  4. Hydraulic (liquid filling area, rising floor)
  5. Chemical (gunpowder, chemicals combining to form noxious fumes, acid)
  6. Physical Properties (flammable material, radioactive, poisonous)
  7. Magical (known magical effects and spells, such as magic mouth, or fireball)
  8. Electronic (electrifying areas, as well as hi-tech substitutes for clockwork)
  9. Biological (spores, parasites, released critters)
  10. Arbitrary (magic not using known/documented spells)

 

 

Notes

Purpose of Trap

 

Capture

A Capture trap attempts to hold victims until they can be dealt with later; in some cases the trap is meant to hold them until they expire from natural causes or injuries suffered.

 

A pit trap is the classic capture trap, though others might throw a net or sticky substance, or simply lock adventurers in a room with no way out.

 

Impede

Impedance traps are meant to slow down victims, either to make them easier to catch or increase the likelihood of patrols running into them.

 

Classic impedance traps include mazes, caltrops, sticky or slippery floors, magically darkened areas, or cryptic messages that adventurer’s may waste time trying to decipher.

 

Injure/Kill

Injury traps are intended to harm the victim, perhaps killing them outright.

Classic injury traps are pit traps (if deep enough or with spikes), spear or arrow traps, swinging blades, falling blocks, crushing walls, poison darts, and the like. Some can be dodged or defended against (particularly ones that poke or slice with a regular weapon), or depending on damage rolled might not injure you that much. Others, such as being dumped into lava or having cockatrice feathers poured down over you, are meant to be lethal so they have to be avoided, whether through noticing the trigger or making a saving throw.

 

Resource Sink

Traps that cost resources are meant to deplete the intruder’s stock of available resources, softening them up for later, or perhaps stranding them if they turn out not to be carrying enough torches or rope to get through the area.

 

Resource traps might be stretches that require a lot of technical climbing (with spikes and ropes, or use of fly spells), or passage through long underwater sections, or strong magnets that make the party abandon iron gear (a rust monster is the animate version of this), or contain things like slimes or oozes that eat away at wooden or leather gear.

 

Hazard

Some “traps” aren’t designed as such at all (or at least not designed by any creatures in the gameworld), but are simply hazardous areas. Narrow mountain passes prone to avalanches, or areas with volcanic fumaroles, or treacherous ice don’t have a specific design goal, they are simply there and dangerous if you try to traverse them.

 

Practical Joke

Some traps are designed to amuse the placer of the trap, and often do no more than inconvenience or embarrass the victim. These may also serve as alarms or to discourage intrusion in places where it would be unwise to put a trap that can actually injure or kill. E.g. a wealthy merchant probably won’t have a pit-trap with poison spikes in his town-home to keep his servants out of the liquor, but might put lampblack on the knobs of the cabinet to stain their hands.

 

The real-world version is a bucket over the door or a whoopee cushion. Magical traps of this sort planted by a whimsical wizard or fairy might curse somebody with an animal’s head, or change their sex.

 

Lock/Barrier

Some “Traps” are just meant to prevent access to unauthorized people. The simplest is just a locked door or gate. Elaborate or magical ones may involve puzzles, perhaps an entire room that forms a puzzle. There might be consequences, including lethal ones, for making a wrong move in the puzzle, the essence is to actually to provide a means of ingress to somebody who knows the secret, not to keep everybody out permanently (as might a rolling boulder or falling block trap in a tomb).

Note that some locks or barriers aren’t there to prevent adventurers from getting in, but to keep something dangerous from getting out….

Alarm

Alarms aren’t intended to directly harm those triggering them, but to alert others to the fact they’ve been triggered.  They might respond by arranging and ambush, or by running away with the treasure.

 

Trigger Type

Pressure Plate

A Pressure Plate is any sort of pressure sensitive mechanical trigger. It is usually activated by stepping on it, and typically has some threshold weight that is too small to trigger it (whether that’s a coin, a mouse, or a hobbit).

 

It can typically be detected by careful examination of the area for a mismatch in the height of the material, seams where the plate meets the rest of the area, a slight wobbliness or give if manipulated; because of the presence of a mechanism beneath the plate, sand or water may be able to flow through the seams where it wouldn’t in ordinary crevices.

 

Pressure plates can often be jammed by wedges in the seams or levered beneath the plate, or can by bypassed by not stepping on them.

 

High tech or magical pressure plates may be nearly impossible to detect, save by detecting the presence of magic or electricity itself, though a fair trap will still usually a least be triggerable by dropping a sufficient weight on it.

Trip-wire

Trip-wires are any sort of physical wire, rope, or cord that triggers a trap by pulling on something when somebody steps on or through it.

 

They can often be spotted by visual inspection, though if they are camouflaged, very fine or in bad lighting conditions they can be extremely hard to spot without unusual senses; adventurers of unusual size (small enough to pass beneath) or means of locomotion (always flying) may bypass them without even noticing.  They may also be detected, or at least triggered, by poking ahead with a pole.

 

They can be bypassed by stepping over or under them, or jammed by preventing the wire from moving or breaking.

Opening a container/door

Opening a container or door can trigger a trap by the mechanical action of the hinges, by the lid or door pushing or pulling something as it changes position, or releasing pressure on a spring, by the twisting or pulling of a knob or handle attached to the catch that holds it closed, by poison on the handle or on something sharp that someone manipulating the handle is likely to cut himself on  or simply because the container or room has something dangerous in it.

 

Spotting such traps can be difficult unless you have unusual senses allowing you to see inside the container, since all the mechanical parts of the trap may be on the inside.  It might be possible to detect the trap by an slightly higher resistance to opening than expected (particularly if the hinges are well-oiled first) or the sound/feel of something scraping or being pulled.

 

Such traps can be bypassed by creating a new opening in the container, by breaking a wire or flange that would be pulled out of position by opening the lid, by applying pressure to a spring that would otherwise release, by manipulating the knob or handle remotely or through protective gear.

 

Removing pressure

Pressure triggers can be set off when something is removed from where it should be, such as when a heavy gold idol is taken off an altar, allowing a spring to uncoil, the other end of a counterweighted lever to descend, or weight that was held in place by a cord beneath the idol to fall…

 

Spotting such triggers can sometimes be done by seeing the cord or noticing the seams where the trigger mechanism will move once the weight is gone.

 

Disarming the trap can be done by swapping the weight for a similar one (be careful that the replacement weight is close enough… particularly if the builders took extra care so that if too much extra pressure was applied to the balance the trap would trigger anyway), or by jamming the balance platform so that it can’t move even if the pressure is removed.

 

Occlusion

Occlusion triggers are set off when something blocks the sensor, as with an “electric eye.”  These usually require magic or high technology, though a goblin with a peephole would do in a pinch.

 

They can be spotted by noticing the opening for the sensor, or if the sensor requires a visible beam of light (or one that can be made visible, say with smoke) the beam.

 

They can be bypassed by avoiding breaking the beam or passing in front of the sensor, or by arranging mirrors to divert the light in a path that reaches the sensor but leaves space to pass.

Heat/Light

Heat/Light triggers are set off by the presence of extra heat or light, such as generated by torches or just by warm-blooded creatures.  The trigger might be an exotic material that melts easily, releasing a spring or a weighted cord, or perhaps the material itself is poisonous once it’s heated enough to form a vapor, or perhaps phototropic plant that pulls or pushes the trigger as it turns toward the light.  Or it could just be magic or tech.

 

Spotting such traps will be very difficult without some way to observe the trapped area remotely or in perfect darkness.

 

Bypassing the trap might involve nothing more than being able to pass through the area in darkness, or by interfering with whatever mechanical part is connected to the sensor.

Magnetism

Magnetic triggers will usually have some catch that is pulled out of place by magnetic attraction, generally to the armor to the adventurers wear… though if the magnet is powerful enough it might itself be the trap, pulling the adventurers off a ledge or just immobilizing them unless they abandon their armor.

 

If it’s not obvious, a magnetic trigger might be detected by its effect on compasses, or by the very subtle pressure it exerts (a realistic magnet would have to be quite powerful if the metal isn’t going to come within a few inches of it, unless it was suspended in something to reduce friction. Otherwise the trap might as well be magical for all the adventurers can do to detect it).
Magnetic triggers can usually be bypassed by being careful not to bring metal near them, or by the usual mechanical jamming methods depending on what they’re attached to.

Guard-activated

Some traps are simply activated manually by a guard from an observation post.

 

Spotting the trap usually means spotting the guard, or at least the peephole or camera (or magical equivalent) the guard is using to observe the area.

 

Such traps can be bypassed by avoiding the field of vision of the guard, presenting the guard with a fake or illusory view of the area, taking out the guard, distracting or tricking the guard, or waiting for the guard’s attention to lapse (e.g. fall asleep, or leave the observation post to make rounds or relieve himself).

Permanent

Permanent traps don’t have a trigger, the area is simply dangerous (or dangerous to unprotected/unprepared people) all the time.  A room might be full of poison gas, so the only safe way to enter it would be if you were immune to the poison, took an antidote, or wore protective gear.

 

Depending on the nature of the danger it might be obvious to any observer, or it might only be revealed if you see somebody aware of the danger taking precautions.

 

Bypassing the trap usually requires ascertaining what precautions are necessary and taking them, since by definition there’s no way to avoid the trigger.

Sound

Sound triggers are set off by sounds or vibrations; they might be carefully balanced stones or snow (as in an avalanche), or a cavern or other structure that amplifies sound until it’s sufficient to dislodge a lever or weight.

 

Sound traps might be spotted by the area being unusually quiet or having peculiar echoes, or by observation of whatever pile of rocks or lever/pulley structure that’s the mechanical part of the trap before you get close enough for the sound to dislodge it.

 

Bypassing the trap could be done by being unusually quiet, by somehow stabilizing the delicately balanced trigger, or by jamming the mechanics if there is an accessible mechanical part of the trap and not just tons of stone that will fall from the ceiling if disturbed by loud sounds.

Unusual Sense

When magic or high tech is involved, many bizarre or nearly arbitrary phenomena might serve as a trigger.  (e.g. the presence of “good alignment”)  These usually can’t be spotted or bypassed unless you have appropriate magic or tech of your own, though you might still be able to infer the presence of the trap by observing the behavior of those “in the know” about it.

Timed

No actual trigger, rather the trap activates periodically, regardless of what’s going on.  A simple example would be a cavern that filled with water at high tide, but more complex ones might be something like pendulums that constantly swing, or walls that crash inward every few minutes.

 

Detecting timed traps can be done by noticing the remains of previous victims of the traps (since such traps are often unattended and automatically reset, so nobody ever takes the bodies away) or by observing the trap going off (since it will activate whether or not there’s reason to do so).

 

Bypassing the trap usually consists of figuring out the timing of the activation and passing through the area during the quiescent period.

 

Complications

Nastier traps often involve traps with precautions, failsafe mechanisms, extra concealment or misdirection.

 

Precautions

Extra care might be taken to build the mechanism in such a way that it’s hard to interfere with.  For instance a trap where opening the lid of a box pulls a cord that activates a poison blade on a spring might make the cord out of wire so that it’s hard to cut even if spotted, or include extra metal baffles that extend downward from the lid so that you can’t poke a knife in until the lid is lifted enough for the cord to do its work.

 

Failsafes

Traps may have extra mechanisms to thwart attempts to disarm them; this can be an entirely separate trap that guards the mechanism of the original trap, or just extra precautions so that obvious ways of trying to disarm the trap trigger it anyway. For instance, using the example of a box and cord again, the trap could have an additional spring mechanism that puts tension on the cord so that if it’s cut the spring contracts and releases the poison blade regardless.  Or a trap that is triggered by a balance arm might be rigged so that it goes off if the balance goes in either direction (the idol is removed from the altar or the idol is replaced by something heavier).

 

Extra Concealment

Any trap can be made more dangerous by spending extra effort on concealing its mechanism.  This can range from the completely simple (painting the tripwire black, removing the debris from when the trap was activated previously) to the cunning (trompe l’oeil painting to deceive the eye as to the actual dimensions of the room or make the exposed parts of the trap completely blend in) to making the trap magically undetectable to all intents and purposes (illusions and invisibility fall into this category unless the characters have magic to deploy against it).

 

Misdirection

Some traps are concealed by the presence of obvious other traps or suspicious things.  E.g. an obvious pit-trap with an illusory floor trap just beyond it so that if the characters vault the first they land right in the second.  These are usually more amusing for the GM to contemplate than for the players to encounter, unless they are explicitly attempting to beat a “deathtrap” dungeon and are prepared to spend hours trying to out-paranoid a mad wizard with arbitrary resources in order to cross a 30’ corridor.

 

Still, in the real world there are such things as fake safes and dummy security cameras, so a certain amount of misdirection is probably allowable without being a complete bastard.

Do you have any floss?  I have a femur stuck in my teeth!

Do you have any floss? I have a femur stuck in my teeth!


SECRET SANTICORE: Heist Scenario Notes!

All work and no play makes Santicore want to slay!!!

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

“Some notes for running, or an adventure outline for, a heist scenario. Could be in a medieval fantasy world, modern-day, or far future space — your choice. Thanks!”

Dave W. delivered some good advice for something that he hasn’t ever considered doing before.  Well done!

(VAGUE) HEIST SCENARIO GUIDELINES

Let me first begin by stating that I’ve never before contemplated a heist scenario, so the advice below should be taken as highly speculative.

As no details were given as to the genre of the heist, I will assume a classic bank robbery. The bank would be protected by passive security systems (electronic, mechanical, or magical depending on the setting) and by armed guards in any case. Bank employees would be schooled in how to react to robbery attempts. These things should be assumed, and as they are predictable and mundane, should largely remain in the background of the scenario, unless the characters deliberately interact with them.

Based upon examples of heist films I have seen, a heist doesn’t become interesting until something goes terribly wrong. Given this fact, elaborate plans by the players should be mildly discouraged, as those plans are destined by the fail by the requirements of the plot. If everything goes as planned, the heist is successful, but the game is boring. So, the first thing to consider is what will go wrong. In lieu of having the characters script their heist plans, ask the players the following questions:

(1)   What props are required for the successful heist? Perhaps, they plan on tunneling in from the basement of an adjacent building, and consequently require digging equipment.

(2)   Who do they have on the inside (past or present) who might have provided insight into the inner workings of the bank? Perhaps the lover of one of the characters is a bank teller.

(3)   What NPCs outside the stable group of player characters are required to make their plan work? Perhaps, they need to hire a safecracker, or a skilled getaway driver.

(4)   What is going on outside the bank at the planned time of the heist? Perhaps it’s Christmas time, and carolers abound. Perhaps a nearby building site is swarming with construction workers.

Choose which of the elements above will complicate the lives of the characters. As they’ve helped construct the scenario, they can’t strongly object to the logical consequences of their choices. Perhaps

(1)   The required props fail at a critical time, requiring the characters to improvise;

(2)   That lover has been cheating on the pc all along, and has his/her own plans for the heist, getting away with the money and laying the blame fully on the pc;

(3)   Those NPCs are disloyal (cliché) or become injured or sick. Perhaps they encounter a loved in in the bank during the heist, and are conflicted as to how they should proceed;

(4)   A holiday means drunks, and drunks attract cops. There might be an accident at the construction site that attracts an ambulance. While these forces might be entirely ignorant of the heist, their proximity will heighten tension.

Another common theme of the heist genre is the twist. Heist films often portray a dire situation, only to reveal that the characters have had an ace in the hole all along. Things may have looked bleak, but everything was going according to plan all along. When things look most bleak, allow the players to suggest how it’s all actually going according to plan. For every fact they introduce, introduce an additional complication they must overcome. This should lead to an escalation of revelations and complications until the final reveal is sufficiently satisfying.

Give me all of your cookies!!

Give me all of your cookies!!


SECRET SANTICORE: A Centaur-like Race!

Jingle Bells.. Jingle Bells.. How I want to slay… Bones and teeth make a great old treat, especially on Christmas day!

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

 

“A centaur-like race.  Either DungeonWorld or D&D please

Chris C. has delivered on the amazing Centaur-like race, the Ha’Vass!

 

Ha’vass (for 4E D&D)

 

Strength earned and debts paid from a lineage of pain.

 

RACIAL TRAITS
Average Height: 5’6” – 6’3″
Average Weight: 275 – 350

Ability scores: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution
Size: Medium

Speed: 6 squares

Vision: Normal

Languages: Common, Draconic
Skill Bonuses: +2 Endurance, +2 Perception

Ha’vass Weapon Proficiency: You gain proficiency with the greatclub and the javelin.

Hardened Flesh: The skin of a ha’vass is a natural armor, and can slough off specific attacks based on the lineage of the ha’vass. At character creation, choose which punishing environment the ha’vass family line hails from.

 

Environment

Damage Type

Volcanic

Fire

Desert

Lightning

Swamp

Poison

 

Benefit: You gain resist 3 fire, lightning or poison depending on ha’vass lineage. This resistance increases to 6 at 11th level and 9 at 21st level.

 

Claws Out: When an effect forces you to move – through a push, pull, or slide – You can move 2 squares less than the effect specifies. This means an effect that normally pulls pushes, or slides a target 1 or 2 squares does not force you to move unless you want to.

 

Rear Kick: Flanking a ha’vass is a dangerous prospect. When an enemy gets a flanking bonus against you, you may make a single, unarmed attack against them using your powerful hind legs in addition to your normal attacks.

 

Rear Kick (Ha’vass racial attack)

At-Will

Opportunity Action / Melee 1

Trigger: A flanking enemy hits you with an attack
Target: The triggering enemy

Effect: You make the following attack against the target:

Attack: Strength vs. AC

Hit: 1d6 + Strength modifier damage.

Increase damage to 2d6 + Strength modifier damage at 21st level.

 

 

PHYSICAL QUALITIES

 

The ha’vass are a quadrupedal (4-legged) race somewhat akin to a centaur in shape, but completely reptilian and hairless. They are tall and muscular in the torso with a low and wide body and the stump of a tail. Their rough skin appears in a range of natural colors: from the tans and browns of the desert dwellers, to the grays and blacks of the volcanic regions, all the way to the yellows and greens of the wetlands.

 

Life for the ha’vass is a struggle, and material goods are often seen more as an encumbrance than a boon.  Totems and symbols worn about the neck are common, as is face painting or ritual scarification. Clothes are rarely worn, except for ceremonial garb or armor for those who choose to wear it. The few material goods a ha’vass might have usually fit in a pouch worn at his side.

 

Ha’vass hatch from eggs but receive little in the way of upbringing. Ha’vass surviving long enough to reach maturity are generally welcomed into the tribe after proving themselves competent hunters. A naming ceremony is the final step towards adulthood, shedding themselves of the “hatchling” moniker all unnamed ha’vass youth bear. Without the rigors of a normal ha’vass lifestyle, they would live 80-100 years, but few “uncivilized” ha’vass reach that age.

 

PLAYING A HA’VASS

 

Little is known about the origin of the ha’vass since they have no written language. They pray to many gods but primarily to Melora, goddess of the wilderness and the sea. Legend holds that they were once a mighty race with castles and vast wealth built through abundant slave labor. Avarice eventually led them down the path of decline. With their riches gone and their castles taken from them or destroyed, the ha’vass wandered to the only places they could find solitude and safety from persecution – the most inhospitable regions in the world. Over time they adapted to their harsh environment and grew to think of their new life as a form of redemption.  Today’s ha’vass simply assumes that they need to struggle against the harsh elements to harden them into the very best warriors.

 

The ha’vass are natural hunters, traditionally employing javelins and bows for smaller prey, but preferring two-handed weapons for most other combat. Magic is not unknown among them, but it is a rare gift usually discovered by accident. With little need for material goods, few ha’vass have mastered crafting anything other than the simple weapons they bear. Metal is often scarce in the wild, so weapons reinforced with bone and teeth are common.

 

Other intelligent creatures sometimes steal ha’vass eggs, and the young are used as pit fighters, slave labor, or worse. They are rarely found in the cities, except the more adventurous or enlightened ha’vass who have escaped bondage or found value in the shiny coins earned in hard labor or as frontier guards.

 

Outsiders view the ha’vass as strange, particularly for their self-imposed hardships and lack of gender roles. Largely raising themselves, the ha’vass see no difference in gender when it comes to survival, only individual strengths. With little in the way of exterior genitalia, only the ha’vass can determine male from female (by smell, mostly). Mating is infrequent, and based on proximity more than extended courtship.
Ha’vass Characteristics: Quiet, attentive, hardworking, introspective, faithful, proud.
Ha’vass Names (both genders): A’shosh, Be’yush, Bosh, Da’teerus, Es’goss, Foss, Go’nesh, Jon’tay, Suss.

 

HA’VASS ADVENTURERS

 

Bosh is a ha’vass fighter who earned her name after single-handedly stopping a goblin incursion. With leather armor and her war club “Ho’gok” she patrols her swamp home, insuring no foul creatures are able to get a foothold there. Once she found a traveling band of merchants, hopelessly lost in her swamp. Curious to learn more of the outsiders, she offered to help guide them back to the roads north of her wetland home. Finding she had a taste for adventure and coin, she now offers her services to merchants traveling through dangerous areas.

 

Es’goss is a ha’vass cleric. Stolen as an egg and named “Spathrax” by his eventual owner, he was raised to be a pit slave. Eventually he made contact with other, older ha’vass who taught him the traditions of their people and gave him a proper name. A wise elven cleric helped Es’goss and his fellow captives escape, but he could not forget the help he received and the power of the gods wielded by the two-legs. Seeking guidance and admission at a temple of Melora, he now goes from tribe to tribe preaching the gospel of his god and helping those in need.

 

Da’teerus is a ha’vass ranger. Entering his tribe in a traditional manner, he eventually learned to craft the finest of bows from the scarce wood of his desert home. With armor made from the scales of felled beasts and sharpened blades crafted from their bones, Da’teerus patrols the eastern desert. Stumbling into an ancient ruin exposed by the shifting desert sands, he eventually pieced together that it had been built many years ago by the ha’vass! With this revelation, he now knows that he his part of something much larger and travels the land to uncover his lost lineage.

 

 – Chris Carpenter, with help from Bennet Akkerman and Jim White

Jingle Bells..  Jingle Bells..  How I want to slay...  Bones and teeth make a great old treat, especially on Christmas day...

I know you think I’m beautiful!

 

 


SECRET SANTICORE: Remote Gothic Noble House Generator!

Thirst for blood?  Have a cherry slurpy!

OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE!  PLEASE GRANT ME:

“Dear Secret Santicore, I would like a table or tables for generating remote Gothic noble households and their decadent inhabitants. Something along the lines of the House of Usher or Wuthering Heights, but with a bit more of a fantastical bent so it’s usable for D&D.”

Jeremy M. didn’t throw any wimpy punches when he clobbered this bad boy!

Gothic Manor Generator Tables

Abulafia Link

The House

1.            Is a huge, squat keep, built in an ancient style, now crumbling and enveloped by ivy.  It is filled with empty rooms, rotting furniture and dusty wall hangings.  If examined closely, the tapestries depict ancient crimes – murders, rapes and much worse – all the perpetrators and victims appear to be members of the same family.

2.            Is a timber hunting lodge filled with stuffed, skinned and mounted trophies of animals and monsters, hanging alongside weapons, rusty traps and paintings of prized hounds and horses.  Everywhere you go within the hall, dozens of glittering eyes seem to track you from the mounted heads that cover every wall.  Occasionally, the faint sounds of a baying pack of hounds seem to echo through the rooms.

3.            Is a shining pleasure-palace, with high white walls, turreted towers and carefully landscaped ponds and gardens.  Its placid tranquility and languid calm are restful, but the gardens are full of unnaturally vital blood-red roses, the ponds are bottomless and are bitterly cold, and the high, ornate windows seem to glare menacingly when seen out of the corner of the eye.

4.            Is a tall manor on a point overlooking an isolated cove.  Built of the local white chalk, it has patios and stairwells that extend down the cliffs below it.  Seen from the day, it is an attractive structure, but the light of the moon bleaches the white walls to the color of unburied bone, and cause the building to shine with unnatural brightness.  The cove below constantly washes up old bones and the corpses of the drowned.

5.            Is a square, multi-floored brick house with a central courtyard that can be accessed by 4 arched entrances, one in each wall.  Walkways lined by arched windows face the interior courtyard on all floors.  At the center of the courtyard is a deep well with a rusted iron cover and a stout, new padlock.  When the wind blows through the house (which it frequently does) the arches of the courtyard seem to howl with unearthly voices, and the doors fly open and slam closed unpredictably.

6.            Is a fortified manor house with a solid gate, paved courtyard and solidly-build hall.  The courtyard is dominated by a stone statue of a seated man leaning on a great sword.  Time has eroded away most of his features, but the carved eyes remain intact, and glare down fiercely at anyone entering the yard.  The base of the statue is ringed by disturbing engravings in an unknown language.

7.            Is an old trading stockade that has been converted into a makeshift manor.  The log palisade is rotting, and weeds grow around the neglected stables and storage sheds.  Half-feral dogs wander about and the surrounding forest presses ominously close.  The place smells of mildew, dogshit and fear – all door are barred and lights doused as soon as night falls.

8.            Is a tall, moated round-house set on the edge of a deep swamp.  The interior of the keep is a deep shaft with a circular stair that goes all the way to the roof.  The place is infested with frogs, toad, newt and other, less pleasant things.  At night, the strange lights in the swamp are mirrored in the black water at the base of the central shaft, and the odd piping of the swamp inhabitants almost seems to form chittering voices.

The Master

1.            Is long dead.  His remaining family seem reluctant to mention his name or speak about him, especially in the presence of one of the many painted portraits of him that hang about the place.  Closer examination of the portraits reveals them all to be the exact same image of the man, a robed, grey-haired human with odd whitish eyes – save that all the backgrounds are different.

2.            Is a fit and charismatic middle-aged man with a distinctive strip of white hair.  He is charming, welcoming and invites the party to stay as long as they desire.  Occasionally, you might notice him staring at one of you with an expression of awful hunger on his face, but that might be your imagination.

3.            Is a grim and powerful aging warrior with a black beard and fierce disposition.  He is given to drinking binges of epic scale, followed by black rages, intense weeping and insane ranting.  He is liable to attack anyone who interferes with him during these episodes, including family members.

4.            Is a corpulent and florid drunkard who wallows in food and drink.  He is an avid hunter, but uses it as excuse for depraved cruelty towards animals, his retainers and his family.  His drunken feasting and gluttonous feedings occupy the main hall at all hours, except when he disappears into the kennels and basements for long  periods of time.

5.            Is grey and colorless, gaunt and grim.  His seemingly emotionless glare and leaden features are off-putting, but he welcomes everyone and asks probing questions about the parties experiences.   He seems extremely knowledgeable in certain esoteric areas, although his habit of standing atop the keep and staring, unmoving, into the distance for many hours at a time is somewhat off-putting.

6.            Is a reckless dandy who loves fine food, beautiful women, wine and music.  He is attended by bards, courtiers and obvious mistresses, living life in a swirling, debauched party.   For all that, he is lean with solid muscle and obvious duelling scars, and the finely-crafted weapons he displays all about have marks of hard use.  Each day he spends several hours on weapon drills, his movements unnaturally swift and precise.

7.            Is an enormous, shambling wreck of a man, clad in worn and stained clothing and with a massive, shaggy beard.  He communicates mostly in grunts and scowls, seeming to stare at nothing and mutter to himself constantly.  Occasionally, glimpses of his limbs and torso reveal horrible, barely-healed scars and oddly precise tattoos in what appear to be arcane designs.

8.            Is ancient and decrepit, having to be fed and cleaned by members of his staff and family.  He wanders in and out of lucidity, raving about ancient battles, betrayals and intrigues.  Anyone knowledgeable about local history will quickly realize that his ranting reveal secret details of many of the major events of the past hundred years.  In the odd times that he is coherent, he displays a razor-sharp wit and seeks to draw newcomers into convoluted plots.

The Mistress

1.            Is dead, but the staff whisper that they hear voices in the night, and a female voice seems to whisper and titter in empty rooms as you pass by.

2.            Is pale, distant and ethereally beautiful.  She walks silently about the house at all hours, even appearing in places that seem impossible to get to.  Her skin is oddly chilly, but perhaps that’s just because she walks around barely clothed all the time.

3.            Is attractive, with raven-black hair and full red lips, but her horrendous temper makes her beauty perilous.  She’s given to psychotic rages, and nobody is safe from her when her anger is triggered.  Too bad the Master of the house dotes on her every whim…

4.            Is enormous and toadlike, croaking commands and running the staff ragged.  She clearly runs the manor, and anyone who interferes with her suffers debilitating stomach ailments shortly afterwards.   Her control of the kitchens is particularly suspect, as are the many “exotic” ingredients found in the pantries and stores.

5.            Is locked in a tower and rarely spoken of.  Something seems to scrabble at the inside of the barred doors and windows, though, and faint shrieking and odd chanting can be heard echoing down in the night.

6.            Is ancient but unnaturally spry, seeming to be aware of everything that happens within the manor.  Her hunched, black-clad form can be seen bustling around at all hours. In fact, she sometimes seems to be in several places at once.

7.            Is a terrified mistress who is desperately trying to maintain the attention and affection of the Master.  She is young, beautiful and growing desperate enough to do something really rash in order to get out of the Manor.

8.            Is pampered and demanding, but oddly skilled at getting what she wants.  Something about her just seems to encourage compliance, perhaps it’s the odd sibilance in her voice, or the sinuous sway of her walk.

The Staff

1.            Are an unshaven crew of slovenly ruffians who are oddly respectful and subservient around the family, but cruel and bullying to all others.

2.            Are squat and clad in mud-coloured smocks, with oddly misshapen bodies and strangely shaped turbans.

3.            Are barely-visible, performing their duties as quickly and quietly as possible, then disappearing into other parts of the house, visibly terrified.

4.            Are oddly uniform in appearance, dress and features, moving about their duties with silent, mechanical precision.

5.            Are wracked with deformities, twisted limbs and misshapen faces are common, but they appear to be happy and competent, running things with smooth skill.

6.            Are regimented and tightly trained – all of them bear weapons and appear to belong to an elite military unit, but perform domestic chores and labour about the manor.

7.            Have bestial features, oddly enlarged teeth and smell of wet dog.  They seem loyal, though, and travel about in groups whenever possible.

8.            Are oddly servile humanoids from surrounding tribes.  They obey the family without question, but occasional flashes of resentment are visible on occasion.

The Heir(s)

1.            Are an indistinct horde of grubby, wild and violent children.  It’s impossible to distinguish gender or age under the grime, scabs and snot, but they seem to be everywhere within the keep, and see everything that happens.

2.            Are twins, with identical appearance and clothing.  They are rarely out of each other’s company and often speak in unison or finish each other’s sentences.

3.            Is a single daughter who is dour and severe, with an intense stare that seems to cast a chill on its target.  The smallest lapse in decorum or etiquette seems to invoke her silent ire.

4.            Is a huge and simple son. He is persistent in his affections for attractive women, and mindlessly cruel to animals, staff or those smaller than himself.

5.            Are a son and daughter in their teens who spend much of their time in the wilds outside the manor. They are fit, tanned, and occasionally seen sneaking inside in the middle of the night, naked and splattered in mud and less wholesome things.

6.            Are numerous bastards that make up much of the staff.  They seem resentful of their position as servants.  Their resemblance to the master and mistress is obvious, but not commented on.

7.            Is hidden away and not discussed, but whispered rumors are that the infant has been hidden since birth and is somehow terribly unnatural.

8.            Are several adult men and women, who come and go frequently and constantly plot against each other and their parents.

The Hunt

1.            Is a huge pack of shaggy, feral dogs led by a shambling bear-like fellow with a rusty halberd.

2.            Are lean, reddish hounds that work with a crew of silent red-coated huntsmen and seem to feed only on blood.

3.            Is a pit full of half-starved wild boars, used for baiting animals and men alike.

4.            Is a mixed pack of vicious mongrels, kept roughly in line by several surly, cursing huntsmen.

5.            Is a wolf-pack that seems to form instantly from the surrounding woods when the Master rides out to hunt.

6.            Are a swarm of lumpish, malformed pit-dogs that savage anything unlucky enough to cross their path.

7.            Are a hyaena-like, humped and cackling pack with a hunched and hooded keeper.

8.            Are a pale and silent pack of long-haired hounds with several slender, silver-clad attendants.

The Demesne

1.            Are a cluster of muddy, reeking huts surrounded by animal pens and tended fields.

2.            Are a scattering of strongly-built farmsteads, all barred and defended night and day.

3.            Are small villages built at the junctions of rivers and valleys, connected by rough trails.

4.            Are mostly savage wilderness – all the inhabitants cluster around the manor itself in a sprawling slum.

5.            Are fenland villages with stilted huts, where the inhabitants move on flat-bottomed boats over deep mires and marshes.

6.            Are rough rock houses built among the ruins of older, larger cities.

7.            Are semi-permanent herding camps, linked by animal trails and log roads.

8.            Are towers built on hills, manned and alert at all times.

 

The Dungeons

1.            Are a network of limestone caverns that extend far beneath the manor.  The upper areas are worked and used for storage and security, but the lower reaches are unexplored.

2.            Are a dank series of half-flooded galleries, dripping oubliettes and muddy sewers.  The place is infested with snakes and toads of unwholesome size, along with other, even less pleasant lurkers.

3.            Are an extensive and crumbling series of basements and storage rooms which attach into a set of much older, deeper tunnels.  Those tunnels have odd proportions, and are seemingly not built for human traffic.

4.            Are clearly dwarven stonework, carefully fitted and lovingly carved.  All coated in a layer of dust and grime now, though, save the occasional prints of a pair of heavy boots going here and there.

5.            Are dug into the raw earth and are full of twisted roots, hanging vines, moss and mold.  The plants often seem to be the only thing keeping the tunnels from collapsing, and in some areas, they haven’t even managed that.

6.            Are beautifully carved and clearly much older than the manor.  The flowing, fluted columns and ornate balconies appear to be elvish design, but the prevalent spider motifs make you wonder which elves, exactly?

7.            Are a seemingly endless labyrinth of rough-piled stone, dotted with small alcoves that hold unnerving pieces of statuary or small oddly-stained altars.  The sounds of footsteps seem to echo throughout the halls, making it seem like people are always moving around down there.

8.            Are built around a single shaft with a circular stairwell that drops straight down into the earth.  The occasional archway leads to a network of old mining tunnels and drifts, scattered with ancient, rusted equipment.

The Secret

1.            Is that the tunnels under the Manor are the center of a demon-worshipping cult that sacrifices humans.

2.            Is that the manor is the old lair of a necromancer and a warren of the undead.

3.            Is that the area is infested with dopplegangers, although not everyone has been replaced yet.

4.            Is that guests are sometimes snatched for magical experimentation.

5.            Is that hateful alien entities have thinned the barriers between realities and are pressing through.

6.            Is that cannibalistic orgies are regularly held at the manor, and guests of honor are usually the main course.

7.            Is that the area is haunted by a variety of ghosts and spirits, making moving about after nightfall very dangerous

8.            Is that the Master has a secret alliance with surrounding humanoid tribes for some nefarious purpose of his own.

Donald Trump for President!!  My plans for the destruction of man is in his hands..

Donald Trump for President!! My plans for the destruction of man is in his hands..