Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daphne von Kirin Santos

Found by my players in the snowy surf, curled in the jaws of a sea serpent, which was caught dead in the talons of an ocean hawk, which was dead in the jaws of a pure white fox: the letter was covered in contact poison.

"To my most Pearlescent and Flowering sister -

May these words quickly reach your Orchid Manse -

I have been ruined by pirates -

Send rescue -

I will wait with my attendants in the place where the eels sing their night songs -

Come in Haste, Daphne my Love -

'Ware the giant, he sniffs the bloodshed and prowls from his home among the waves -


PS: I trust you received my shipment of jaguars, passage to Loth Armanea has been made slow by Velkiss.  Offer her a Purple Child when she blows against you."

Sylvia Plath describes the Lady Daphne von Kirin Santos 100% accurately:

All day she plays at chess with the bones of the world:
Favored (while suddenly the rains begin
Beyond the window) she lies on cushions curled
And nibbles an occasional bonbon of sin.

Prim, pink-breasted, feminine, she nurses
Chocolate fancies in rose-papered rooms
Where polished higboys whisper creaking curses
And hothouse roses shed immortal blooms.

The garnets on her fingers twinkle quick
And blood reflects across the manuscript;
She muses on the odor, sweet and sick,
Of festering gardenias in a crypt,

And lost in subtle metaphor, retreats
From gray child faces crying in the streets.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Redoing the numenera bestiary: okay . . . the E's

This was rough.

Earthshaker. A fine monster. HD 20 at d20+4 hps per (15 being average), 1 attack +12 (+16 when charging) deals 3d12 damage against up to four adjacent creatures. AC 18. Yes it can charge 200 feet in a round if it spends a previous round dashing, and then also make its charge attack, which allows it to move through a creatures space or, if the target would prefer, an opposed Strength check failure is full damage and knocked about. He’s large enough to step on a person as an additional attack for 2d6 damage, which if he maintains the pin deals automatic damage each round. An earthshaker with some baleful aura would be a perfect foe.

Edacious destroyer. So this picture is no good. Instead, this is probably a black giant with a really fat worm growing out of one of its eyes. You’d meet the giant and it would either have an eyepatch or a crusted hole or like just a wiggling tip poking out and then it would disgorge a fat white maggot. Maybe there is scabbed hole that the worm breaks through every time it comes out. The giants accept the worms willingly from their Worm Pool. I imagine the worms hunting with the giants and bringing the digestion back to the worm pits to feed their young. The largest worms are ridden upon. They are regarded as an alternate intelligence, like the machinations of weather or divinity, and the worms are consulted on decisions of state. 

Ellnoica. Fuck this monster. Invisible, again. The description (“it tries to suck the flesh off the bones of a fresh kill” . . . “a glowing terror the color of uncooked meat”) is totally different from the picture, which is: a bright pink walking hand with spikes on either end. This is another monster where I could probably use the picture as-is but scrap everything about the description. Instead of a “crushing blow” or acid that liquefies you, it just grabs you and squeezes, and the other end puts holes in you. The shimmering psychedelic speed-lines are to indicate the creepy speed with which it hobbles across the room, like the crocodile-head girl in Tokyo Gore Police. It makes a constant hissing humming static psychic noise, being as it’s a debased mutant mindflayer and all. Phew, I can’t believe I made it through this monster, I thought I’d have to give up on this project completely.

Ember scion. Oh, so it’s just a fire elemental. They live in volcanos and are on fire and they shoot fire and things around them catch fire. Fire elementals are already so boring that I don’t use them in my game. “Reasoning with them never seems to work.” This is the worst page so far. The best sentence is the one that makes the least sense: “It is said that the understanding of the past shaped flesh that could thrive anywhere, and therein lies the most likely genesis of these creatures.” So these things go into cities spreading the Understanding of the Past Shaped Flesh, which is a tenet of Imix, and is incredibly fascinating and complicated and heretical, but as soon as anyone understands it they spontaneously combust and turn into malicious lava with screaming faces, and the ember scions herd these lavas into their volcanoes and smugly bathe in them. The picture is no good and I can’t draw so I have no idea what these look like: so use your favorite demon generator and call it a day. They’re probably more Boschean than Warhammer.

Encephalon. Haha this monster is great. Everything about it is totally fucked: a lamprey-mouthed slimey big-headed guy shoots out flocks of flying slugs that drill into your brain, steal your brains, and fly back into the tree-man’s chomping mouth to feed it brains. It walks on a mass of tentacles. The slugs have butterfly wings. I love it. 

Engineered Viral Host.  “It has bioengineered its own, more efficient hosts.” This seems like a basically good idea. I don’t like any of these pictures: a green jelly guy perched on a rock; a faceless green wizard making a twisty-fingered wrathful non-expression; a predictable four-legged green spider. Why green? The opening paragraph makes me wonder about the psychology of an intelligent virus though. It must be incredibly futile - one humongous, disconnected, impotent body. No wonder they would try to create artificial bodies to live in. It’s decided to build its own cities instead of invading others forever and ever. Probably the hosts are aware of their virulence and try to protect themselves from harm as much as any person would, since infecting another lifeform is tedious and difficult, like a siege. I’d preserve the way they spray horrible diseases when damaged, but they probably go, “Oh noooo!” when it happens and helplessly cover their wounds with their fingers. They probably just look like sick men, skin green with jaundice. Another person at court, and an assassination target for the forces of Nurgle. 

Entrope. They are “never found in warm environments” and are “entities of exotic biomineral.”  I wish I could just say “Fine, next” but I would never use this in my game this way and I shall not cheat you. Here’s the thing: everything this monster does, an ice ooze does better. Biomineral? Never found in warm environments? Splits in two? Sucks the heat from the air? Well the ice ooze sucks in heat and then spits it out too.

Okay, how about this: that picture of the tentacle worm is the size of a finger. If you sever a finger and put an entrope there in its place you can use it to make an attack dealing 1d10 cold damage and on a failed Charisma save its entropy becomes activated and both you and the target lose your next turn while the entrope coils and uncoils its tentacles and makes a loud laughter through its cold lips.

Ergovore Hound. Perfect, another dog to put on the dog list for the players to buy. It eats force effects (magic missiles, force fields, force cubes, etc) by taking big chomps out of them, and in combat it can either maul a guy or whip out its six-tongued spiketongue and make six attacks. The picture is good. “The only dogs in the kennel are a sick bulldog and . . . THIS”

Eurlian. WTF? They show us a picture of a floating brain connected to a spine and don’t specifically say, “This is what happens when a brain gets sick of being in a body, because it’s too smart and powerful for the meat it’s embedded in?” Like, a wizard learns too many spells at once and its central nervous system gains a superior consciousness and rips out of its body. Makes sense to me. I’ll skip the first entry, for the Erulian, because it’s empty (The monster can be incorporeal but chooses not to . . . it can float through objects but chooses not to . . . “Erulians are normally passive” . . . “Erulians can exist in any environment”), and just say the Erulian can take six actions each turn because it’s so fucking smart. Possible options include: any number of wizard spells; cause disadvantage on one kind of ability save; slow a monster for a turn; make one deaf and blind; undo the turn; cause a spell to come into effect the next turn instead of this one; all kinds of bullshit like that.  

Etterick. “They control the machine through means that look much like scuttling around and doing typical insect activities.” Basically, this is an alien ant farm. Ho ho ho. I can’t get over its dopey smile. I can handle the idea of a metal golem with a dopey smile that just spams magnetic repulsion round after round, and then when it takes a certain amount of damage it cracks and a swarm of clicking magnetic flying metal bugs pours out and forms, like, a sword that attacks you, or a screaming skull. I suppose I would do that in my game.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Redoing the Numenera Bestiary: the Ds

Continuing forward.

Dabirri: This is a picture of a jellyfish. The book says they are "created by taking the heart of a creature the size of a human and placing it in a synth shell" which is the coolest bit. So I'm imagining a crawling jellyfish with a beating heart in it. Sloppy and gloppy and quivers and lashes out tentacle after tentacle to drag itself around. That would be good. Their poison ignores armor since it briefly phases the target into Hell and back. And we can say that these are the hearts of mutineers who give up their hearts to the sea in order to avoid hell.

Decanted: Okay, so this is a golem that turns invisible and steals people’s heads. Jesus. They have cold hands. Man oh man. But the idea of a golem with a head in its chest is basically good, and the picture works.

Okay so I’m going to use the original picture, but instead of ceramic or metal it’s a golem made of silk surrounding a cut block of frozen memories with a head in it. It moves like a puppet. I imagine that when someone important dies - like royalty, or a national hero - but they also know important national secrets - their head is frozen and protected in these special puppet golems.

You could have separate hit-points for the frozen head and the puppet head, and it ignores damage to the silk bits. It doesn't touch the ground and can flit around like a kung fu master. Its claws still do extra cold damage, and it can partially thaw the frozen memories surrounding the head so it sprays freezing memory around it, and everyone touched by it is stunned while they experience a flood of foreign memories. When the frozen head is damaged it sprays the frozen memories in a random direction.

Dedimaskis. This is actually a complicated magical mask and when you wear it, it can do the following: 1/week shoot four prismatic lasers dealing 2d6 damage each as 3 + Charisma bonus, OR shoot one laser up to 1 mile dealing 4d6 damage (as same). While worn the wearer cannot sleep but if they meditate for 8 hours they get the same benefits as a long rest plus 3 extra hit-points per level.

Dimensional husk. This is perfect. It's a person surrounded by all of its alternate realities partially phased into our reality. It can make 1d6 additional attack each round, it’s damage ranges randomly from 1d4 to 1d20 (simulating which weapons from its alternate realities it wields), ignores 25% of all damage, and its AC changes each round: 1d20 + 8. It can still teleport as an action. One per week it can rip a dimensional husk from a PC (as in the DM intrusion) which acts as the PC +/- 1d4 levels and accrues 1 dimension per minute until after an hour its a fully formed new dimensional husk (with a bizarro personality of course).

“A dimensional husk spends its existence confused.” No it doesn’t, it speaks every possible sentence simultaneously and knows more than any soul confined to just one reality at once. It can be consulted to see into alternate futures and pasts. It’s what happens when someone is afflicted with possibilities - maybe they mis-wielded a might sword, or was swallowed by Zuggtomy's rot, or were ravaged by wild magic.

Dream sallow. A tree that puts you to sleep and melds with your brain so your mind melds with the tree’s mind. This is a hard one: the tree avatar is already taken by the dryad so I don’t want to overlap, but I like the idea of a special dungeon inside an evil tree.  This is probably more like an tree that’s absorbed the minds of thousands of tortured dead souls, like the petrified one in the graveyard in Deathfrost Doom, and probably each of these trees contains a powerful spell, or you could need to consult one of the souls trapped inside. So here's what you do: you climb onto the tree and impale yourself on it and its bloody sap mixes with your blood and a door opens into the tree which leads to the labyrinthine reality where all its souls and secret spells live as well as the heart of its secret malice.

Drebil. It’s another bat but this time it’s also a mimic. We already did bats and I don't like mimics, so it’s probably a kind of goblin. A dreblin, if you will. It has extraneous and large wings that can’t fly but also that it can’t comfortably fold, so it folds its wings endlessly, alone, like a cat rearranging its fur. It can also refold one item into another item, ("Yes, I shall turn your shield into a crystal lantern . . . for a price!") but after 1d10 hours it starts to come undone and must be refolded. It’s just an abject 1 HD AC 10 goblin that can imitate voices, is vulnerable to cold iron, eats the eyes of children, and serves witches.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Redoing the Numenera Bestiary: the Cs

Continuing on with the Numenera Bestiary. A lot of these have one or two parts of the monster that are to my taste and the rest I want to whittle off, like a caramel nugget wrapped in wood.

Calyptor: I don’t like this picture. Where are all those folds going? What’s that under its chin? And as usual the nugget of monster doesn’t interact with the players or their surroundings in a way that’s new or strange. “Cause Fear . . . Sleep . . . “ zzzz.  “Intensely loud, focused bleat.” Okay, they’re singing goats. Their songs sound like Satanic choirs. They bleat and a rip appears in your flesh or your face falls off or your eardrums pop or your heart stops. Their song-specific powers require certain numbers of goats: 1 goat: Bleat as bastard sword at range 3 goats: Destroy eardrums, deaf until healed 9 goats: Enslave (new save each day) 27 goats: Stop Heart, no save (affects 5d12 hit points of creatures).  As third level thieves, can climb slick walls and open doors and jump as thieves. 

Cave qui: These are pacifist bats. “Cave qui culture puts the colony first, valuing the well-being of every member.” God damn. Some of them are zombies. The curse can “strike without apparent warning or cause.” Geez. There aren't natural caves anywhere in my games, ever.

 So all the living cave quis are dead and there are isolated island nations where flocks of zombie bats blacken the skies. They're just normal sized bats and they're not rotting necessarily, just cursed, and a single bite can turn a person into a zombie, and they flee bright light.  Assassins smuggle the cursed bats in hats or jars. Vampires throw them at enemies.  HP 2 AC 16 Bite +3 1 damage and DC 18 Charisma check to avoid the curse which kills you in 1d10 days and also immediately causes: 1. Halve hit-points 2. Disadvantage on all psychic ability checks 3. 1d6 damage to a psychic ability score every day 4. Unaffected by healing - that sort of thing. When you die from the curse you return as a zombie with the same curse.

Chance moth: I imagine a chaos knight covered in glowing moths of an unknown color. Call it a chaos moth if you want, even that would be better than a "chance moth." I don't like the stings on the wings anyway - who ever heard of a moth stinging somebody? So now it's a small jale colored radioactive moth that touches you and you get a random effect, just like it says. Either roll on the chart provided or roll on the 1d1000 mutation table. There's a chunk of the random table in the book that says "Nothing happens." That's boring. Here's what happens instead:

41-45 Become proficient in random weapon (doubling if already) for 1 hour 46-50 Same for a day 51-55 Learn a random spell levels 1-4 56-60 Learn a random spell levels 5-7 61-65 Repel undead 15’ for 1 day 66-70 Glow brightly random color for 1 day 71-75 Moth turns into random monster 76-80 Moth dies 81-86 Weapons or armor enchanted at +3 for 1 day 87-91 Fall upward 10xd20 feet 92-97 Moth explodes for 8d6 radiation damage in 10 foot radius 98-99 Moth explodes for 8d6 radiation damage and everyone in explosion makes DC 15 CON check or gain a 1d1000 mutation. 00 Con save DC 13 or melt into a random ooze

Chronal feeder: That’s a pretty good picture but I'd prefer if it were more of a giant maggot. Let’s say they have a slow aura 30’ and a time stop aura 5’. They can still burrow into their Nth dimensional home outside of time as an action and teleport - this leaves a tesseract for 1d20 rounds that connects the two places. I’d want it to be more of a giant maggot - HD 8 AC 11 Bite +6 2d8+4 and eats time based magic (Intelligence DC 14). I don't know how someone would kill a teleporting maggot that stops all time in its vicinity but I'll leave that to the players.

Coccitan: Cockroach people. There’s no problem with this. They’re probably well-regarded, immune to radiation, intelligent, and disgusting. “Are not as intelligent as humands” of course they are. “Where they gorge on garbage, sewage, and other scrap” No they’re a dilapidated upper class clad in rich fabrics and jewelry and they feast on roasted fowl and good wine and are served by blue women and boys.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Numenera Bestiary, A's and B's

I like the Numenera Bestiary but I wouldn't use any of the monsters as-is in my weird fantasy ocean d&d marilith game so I'm messing with them.

Accelerator: so when you petrify and animate a drider, and saw off its body and replace it with a dead psychic child embalmed and encased in nearly opaque black crystal, it becomes an accelerator.

Astraphin monolith: Not the plant thing, and not lasers either. Pluck out a wizard’s eye. Pour lava over the wizard and let it harden. Preserve the eye and set it into the elaborately carved pumice statue. The powers just happen when the eye can see you: your flesh corrodes, you catch fire, etc.

Avatrol. Instead of a camel, it’s an evil horse with a hole through its head - just a smooth bore so you can see its bone, flesh, brain, etc.

Balikna: Come on . . . it's a spiky lizard and it turns invisible and its blind but can hear really good so that doesn't matter and it has lobster claws and a club tail and oh man.  Even the name sounds like made-up Czech for "dear grandmother."  So this is now a normal-sized incredibly magical "common quail" that's invisible in sunlight and moonlight, and it's poisonous to touch (which numbs and paralyses what touches it) and a poisonous spur that knocks its opponent out. It hungers for brains.

There really is a bird that's poisonous to the touch in that way. It's called the hooded pitohui, which is a better word than "balikna." I'll call this the shaded nightquail.

Bellowheart: This is a great picture. I've decided it's a mutant giant, so it still speaks giant. Its powers are good - I'd use this almost as-is.

Blitzer: Also serviceable almost without modification. Now they have a tiny demon embedded in their organs that glows and tortures them, so if you can kill or extract the demon without killing the blitzer, they recover. Also if the blitzer overheats it explodes like a fireball and the fire demon crawls out and burns a tiny smoking hole through reality to get back to hell.

Bloodfeast tick: It sucks on a sleeping person until they die, and then it's inflated by the blood and is a giant tick. No way. Now it's the bloodbaby: you inject them under your skin and it feeds on your blood until you have a little baby growing on you that you can pamper and feed other people's blood, and some people let it get so big that it's huge and bloated and crawls around dragging them around behind it all emaciated and dessicated. So the players can meet a lavishly dressed rich-person attached by their skin to a gigantic crying hungry baby. They're malicious and stupid but their "parent" overlooks this.

More later.