Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Call of Cthulhu Campaign



*If you're one of my players, stop reading now.

Over the summer, I left D&D behind to start a Call of Cthulhu campaign. Strangely, prior to this, I had never played the game before, despite having devoured all the Lovecraft I could find as an adolescent and having done a heck of a lot of roleplaying. I had a strong desire to rectify this terrible deficiency in my later years. What pushed me over the edge was reading Robin Law's brilliant Trail of Cthulhu campaign, The Armitage Files.

At its heart, the Armitage Files consists of a series of 10 documents. Their apparent author is the chief librarian of the Orne Library at Miskatonic University, Henry Armitage of "The Dunwich Horror" fame. The first document presents itself as a desperate missive from the future, sent back to his earlier self from a point in time after Armitage failed to prevent the Old Ones from awakening. Having watched the towers of New York sink beneath the waves, Armitage is now fleeing in upstate New York from "the things that stole his face". The writing is disjointed, and in parts, seemingly mad. He refers to the "Moebius Wasps" that have colonized his mind, and stresses that the documents written earlier should be trusted more than the documents written later. The other nine documents, which arrive slowly over time, are apparently drawn from Armitage's notebooks, written (mostly) before the Cthulhu Apocalypse, case notes from his ultimately failed investigations. Each document introduces a large number of hooks for a desperate sandbox campaign. I am one of the (lucky?) gamers who is capable of feeling fear when reading horror, and I am happy to report that these documents, especially the first, but also certain sublime later ones, scared me.

I knew right away that as an open ended sandbox the Armitage Files was too much for me to handle without some experience running Call of Cthulhu. Also, the documents presuppose that the investigators are in some way linked to Armitage. Drawing on one of the campaign settings presented in Trail of Cthulhu ("The Armitage Inquiry"), it suggests that the players might be members of a secret society put together by Armitage and other professors at Miskatonic University to investigate mythos phenomena. I like the idea of the secret society, but it didn't seem like a good starting place. I wanted the quintessential Call of Cthulhu experience, where the investigators start as ordinary people with no knowledge of the mythos and slowly acquire, at great cost, a dim vision of the horrors that surround them. Seen in this light, beginning as a member of the Armitage Inquiry is a shortcut: you start as part of a secret organization, in control of the Necronomicon, whose members have had a good bit of mythos experience. So I also wanted a way to slowly introduce Armitage and the Inquiry, and to set the stage for the delivery of the Armitage Files into the laps of the investigators with as big a punch as possible.

For these reasons, I set about cooking up a scenario of my own, something more manageable that would introduce the world of the Armitage Files. My group is now 8 sessions in to that scenario. The year is 1935. The scenario is split between depression era Arkham, Massachusetts and Block Island, Rhode Island. Working up Block Island as a setting for Call of Cthulhu has been unusual good fun. I've been to Block Island twice, once on my impromptu honeymoon. I am fond of the place, and I had an experience there that was eerie enough to have stayed with me through the years. (I'll talk about that another time.) It's been great fun to learn about the history of the island, and to weave it together into sinister layers--Native American, Colonial, 19th Century--with a delicious mix of the real and the imagined. It's also given me the opportunity to delve into the beliefs of strange Christian sects, since on my Block Island there is a Shaker village, a heretical offshoot of the Harvard Community. This has allowed me to introduce theological disputes and occult texts.

I'll be posting about all this in the weeks to come.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Call of Cthulhu, Baby


Luis Nessi

So I started a Call of Cthulhu Campaign with Chicago area folks I (mostly) met on G+. I ran it all summer with a hiatus around the birth of my daughter Maddy. One player left town at the end of August, but we're still going.

Here's the thing. My work is demanding, I have two kids, and I game about once a week. The result is that I'm only able to produce content that I make for actual play. If I'm going to post anything to this blog in the near future, it's going to have to be Call of Cthulhu. This is a change of identity for the blog. When I get back to dungeon mastering D&D around February or March, I'll return to Ruined Ghinor. Right now, my head is in New England of the 1930s. I'm crazy for Call of Cthulhu. I regret nothing.

More transmissions shortly.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Desperate Men for Hire



*With much haggling, at Wolsdag you are able to secure passage on an aging vessel, the Bare Bodkin. It is newly inherited by the young captain Lillimar, and he agrees to transport you on the condition that none of his crew be involved in the execution of your schemes. The throngs of roustabouts, privateers, and seasoned mercenaries usually willing to risk their lives for coin melts away when they hear what you propose. To sail among the Shattered Isles is ill-omened and foolhardy. But to sink beneath the waves of that cursed sea through the art of sorcery is sheer madness. Among those desperate or foolish enough to agree should you choose to employ them, the most promising are:

Lem F0 AC9 Hp3 Spear 1d6 Morale:-1 Fee:1/4 share of treasure
Chafing at the rigors of the Scarlet Censors in Rastingdrung, this youth gave up his life as an apprentice carver to seek his fortune beyond the city's walls. He is on the verge of starving, with hollow eyes and sunken cheeks.

Voldar F1 AC6 HP6 Sword 1d8+1 Morale:+1 Fee:1/2 share of treasure
A fanatical devotee of Manannan, Voldar believes with all his heart that the true home of man is beneath the waves. Although he believes that your plan is mad, he views the opportunity as a gift from his god that he dares not decline.

Luther Th2 AC7 Hp7 Shortsword 1d6 Light Crossbow1d6 Morale:+0 Fee: Full share of treasure
PL23 F/RT17 PP27 MS27 CW88 HS17 HN1-2    
This greying ruffian of dubious morals has a scar around his neck from a near miss with the gallows. A long career of thieving has netted him little, and he wishes to risk everything on a final gamble.

We will be using these house rules for underwater exploration.

*This pertains to my upcoming flailsnails game exploring the Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper at 9pm-12 Sunday 9/7. There are still a couple of slots open. Leave a comment if you're interested and haven't read through the dungeon. I'll send you the invite.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Road of Lost Tombs



The Road of Lost Tombs is a free adventure by Gus L. of the Dungeon of Signs blog. He is a prodigious creator, with over 12 free adventures available here. The module is inspired by Piranesi’s etchings of the Via Appia. These etchings represent the Via Appia as a phantasmagoria of cluttered and incongruous monuments and tombs. In the adventure, the road once was the major trade route connecting the Capital with outer provinces. Later it became the pilgrim’s way to the religious centers of the Empire. Now, having lost this function as well, it is an ancient road leading nowhere. But throughout its history it has served as burial grounds, accumulating the surreal pastiche of tombs and monuments depicted in its source material. The great achievement of the module is that in 42 pages Gus L. channels these etchings into something strange and wonderful that could serve as the centerpiece of an entire campaign.

The hook for the adventure is a familiar one. People have been disappearing from the Road of Lost Tombs. Until the troubles began, it served as the primary smuggling route along into the city. Hints suggest that it has something to do with the Red Massif, the tomb of an ancient sorcerer general and his slaves that lies 20 miles down the road. In the few miles just beyond the city walls the Road of Lost Tombs is a red light district. Beyond the reach of the law, its abandoned mausoleums and catacombs have been converted into whorehouses, black-market bazaars, and sword schools where ex-gladiators teach the finer points of bloodletting. The module includes a rich set of rumor tables about the trouble on the road.  They have separate entries for the bearer of the rumor and the rumor itself. This allows the society of the red light district comes to life by introducing a fine cast characters. There are some wonderful touches, including a guild of tomb robbers who are marked by the stone mask they must wear in public, and an ex-gladiator who sips water painfully through a grill that has been bolted to his head. In short, the red light district is the sort of place where adventuring scum should feel right at home—the seedbed of a thousand lawless adventure.

Further out, the road becomes a forlorn and dangerous place. The adventure provides a brief encounter table (d6) for the road that is evocative but a little thin. For the adventure, this is not a problem, since the trip to the Red Massif will take the PCs only a few hours on horseback, or a day on foot. The table includes the unquiet dead, and also a neat reimagining of owlbears as arcanovors who feast on magical trinkets scrounged from graves. I love the idea of owlbears as scavengers among the tombs, but was itching for a grottier version. If I were going to run this, I would probably treat them as filthy beasts, drinking putrid flesh, cracking dried bones, and rutting and rolling in the dust of tombs. 

The destination of their travels, the Red Massif itself is an enormous cube of red stone, pulled from the rock below through the sorcerer general’s puissant art. Gus L. provides a gorgeous map. (Even if you don’t want the adventure, you should download this map. Just staring at it for 5 minutes will give you all kinds of ideas.) Gus L.’s maps are among my favorites, up there with Benoist Poire’s rare achievements. The massif has four locations: the Necromancer’s Repose, The Court of the Robber’s Bride, The Chambers of the Sleeping God, and the Feast Halls.  Each of the locations is well crafted. 



The necromancer’s former abode is pleasantly quirky and low-key. (He was no great shakes, being primarily a re-animator of horses.) It is the sole location not connected to the others. The Chambers of the Slumbering God is delightful. The God in question is a yazata, a war titan, the greatest servitor and siege weapon of the sorcerer general. He lies curled up, his slumbering body taking up an entire cave through which the underground river on the map passes. His empyrean dreams of the Celestial Thrones have poisoned his resting place, and woe to those who manage to awaken him!   

The main action comes with the other two locations. The Feast Halls is the home to the Order of the Golden Feast, a truly hideous cult that has set up an inn in the massif to lure travelers into their clutches. The Order is a formidable adversary and the descriptions of their depredations are not for the faint of heart. They are highly organized with packs of paralysis inducing ghouls on leashes and eerie cursed hounds whose baying can be heard only at a distance owing to the ring of silence they radiate. The Feasters have some high level villains among them, and the Golden Ones—“elevated” Feasters who have become beast men perpetually in the frenzy of the hunt. Everything about them is deliciously awful. The Court of the Robber Bride is home to the other faction in the massif, the Dust Family. This scrappy band of brigands has its hideout in secret chambers of the massif. Outgunned, they are conducting a guerrilla war against the Feaster. They are led by Sister Dust, a Robber Bride—a human possessed by the avatar of a goddess of lawless thievery and social rebellion. The Robber Bride is a fascinating and capable character who will try to play the PCs against the Feasters through ruses and misdirection. (One small thing that mars this otherwise delightful locale in the massif are the names of the “Dust Family--“Chancibel Dust”, “Donald Dust”, “Morely Dust”, etc.--which seemed more at home in a Boot Hill adventure than in the twilight of the Roman Empire setting of the Road of Tombs.) 

This factional struggle at the heart of the Red Massif is masterfully designed. The PCs are walking into a situation that is like a tightly coiled spring. Depending on how they interact with the Feasters, they may be ambushed immediately, or may take up residence of the inn to be used against the Dust Family, or be poisoned by the evening’s meal. Or perhaps they will have an initial skirmish at the Inn, only to be approached by the Dust Family when they camp somewhere outside the Red Massif. There’s no saying how it will play out—it might go a dozen different ways in a dozen different games. The Red Massif is open-ended, presenting formidable challenges, capable and interesting factions, and numerous tactical possibilities to players who are good at this kind of thing.

I have one only one criticism of the Red Massif itself. The map, although excellent in every other way, represents the Red Massif as very small. As a result the factions are practically on top of one another. For me, this stretched my credulity a bit. The PCs could walk out the door of the inn, walk around the corner of the massif, and find the rather obvious secret door concealing the Court of the Robber Bride in 10 minutes. Similarly, somehow the Feasters have never explored the Necromancer’s Repose, supposedly because there are some skulls enchanted with a magic mouth that scare them away. (The Feasters have at their disposal an 8th level cleric, a 5th level fighter who can’t be killed by natural means, packs of ghouls, etc.) Now there is a long tradition of dungeon design in D&D with factions in implausibly close proximity to one another. This might even be said to belong to the genre, so it won’t bother some people. But I have an easy fix for those it does. Just look at the Piranesi etching that Gus L. presents of the Red Massif. 


If I were to run this module, I would present the Red Massif as gargantuan. Each side of the Massif is very long, much longer than on the map, and jammed packed with monuments and statues. Numerous arches lead to tiny courtyards, and dizzying steps lead up to tiny nooks, or to faux doors carved into stone. In that sort of riot of architectural over-design, the Red Massif would be a challenge to explore, and the factional co-existence would be more probable. I would probably cook up a d20 chart to cover exploration of a side of the massif in a pinch with entries like this: 

  1. A set of narrow steps lead up precipitously to a narrow nave, which is taken up with a statue of the sorcerer general’s chief eunuch. Its once jeweled eyes have been chiseled out, and some filthy bedclothes at the foot of the statue now serve as a nest of rats.

The best thing about this module, however, is not the Red Massif, or not the Massif alone. It’s the way in which the module left me wanting more; not to be given more, but to make it. Reading the module, I found myself with a keen appetite for cooking up a long and narrow hex crawl following the Road of Tombs and its environs for 100 miles or so outside the Capital. It would be replete with catacombs and barrow mounds, some repurposed as smuggler’s dens and others home to the disturbed and unquiet dead; with tombs of the ancients still sealed by their wards and defenses; with reclusive orders of tomb dwelling penitents, or colonies of lepers; with hags and necromancers; with shrines and temples to strange and forgotten gods; and everywhere, the owlbears rutting and feasting. Of course, for this sort of thing you would need an encounter table with 20 or 100 entries on it, perhaps divided by the regions through which the road passes. But this would be a delight to concoct; it feels like it would practically write itself. Maybe I should do it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Two Approaches to Sharing the Screen



In my last post I discussed sharing the screen with three rotating DMs in a single campaign. A conversation with +cole long on G+ got me thinking about some of the problems with rotating, how we were dealing with them, and what alternatives there were. Here I discuss an obvious problem with DM rotations, and two different ways of handling this problem. They would give rise, I think, to campaigns with very different flavor.

When I refer to DM rotation, what I mean is that everyone in the group plays, and everyone has the opportunity to DM, all in the same campaign. This can be contrasted with co-DMing, where the roles of DM and player are fixed in the traditional way, with two or more people in the role of DM cooking up together the campaign world and adventures. Rotating has some advantages over co-DMing, since playing and DMing have distinctive pleasures, and it's nice to get to regularly experience both in the same campaign. In our campaign, I find that I learn a lot by playing under the other DMs in the group as they work their magic (and sometimes fail to work it). Also, since we spend less time "on" as a DM, there's less burnout, and a more equitable sharing of the preparation. (We're three years in and going strong.) But most of all there's the sheer pleasure of making a thing together. It's a higher degree of creative unity than a traditional fixed role arrangement provides. We build a campaign world together, all as players and, at least potentially, all as DMs. It's a lovely thing.

The two approaches I have in mind arise as responses to a special problem that DM rotation presents in light of two elemental joys of D&D. The first joy arise from genuine player agency. In the kind of game I like to play, a great deal of the fun comes from the fact that the world is open to the players. As a player, I want to be deciding where I go when and what I do when I get there. This is why, for me, the ideal campaign will always have the structure of a sandbox. It need not involve a literal hex crawl across an open map--maybe it centers on court intrigue and planar travel--but it needs to involve equivalent combination of structure and potentially infinite open endedness. The world is our playground with the limits set only by our shared imagination.

Another of the great pleasures of D&D is the uncovering of secrets. By design, an informational asymmetry exists between the dungeon master and the players. This is the source of great fun. When my group stood on the parapet of Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper, looking down beneath the waves at the tower below them, there was a sense of tension and anticipation on their part. They were embarking on a thrilling journey into the unknown. As DM I shared in that pleasure from the other side. It delighted me to see them deliberate about how to enter the Spire (e.g. should they take the stairs down from the bell tower, or plunge down to the base of the keep and enter from another level? etc). Similarly, knowing about the mad laboratories in the inner precincts of the dungeon was fun for me from the get go, and it would have been fun even if they had left the dungeon without having discovered them, or had left for the moment to return in a year's real time. From one side the pleasure in question involves involves cooking up secret wonders, and mapping undiscovered countries; from the other side it comes from the sense of anticipation, from exploring, probing, discovering.

The problem with rotating DMs is that these two elemental pleasures come into tension under this arrangement. For example, suppose I cook up the Submerged Spire and the players partially explore it. During some other DM's turn, the players (including me) decide they want to go there. How's that going to work? If I have to share the map and key of the Submerged Spire with the other DM, then I reveal my secrets to him. But now I'm also a player going into the Spire. I have to pretend I don't know what's coming and that's no fun. Indeed, the point generalizes; it's not just about maps and keys. Suppose another DM sets in motion a chain of events. We have learned that the white pods of the Moon Lich have crashed into the Screaming Hyena Jungle, somewhere near the lost City of the Archivists. Is this an advance force, scouting for an attack? Does the Moon Lich seek something slumbering within the lost city's precincts? Presumably the DM who introduced this event knows or has some ideas. But suppose we don't figure it out for now, and we switch DMs. And suppose then we head off to the jungle. You see the problem.

It seems to me that there two ways of handling this problem, each of which comes at a cost. The first involves sacrificing some player agency. Here the general approach is to collaborate on a campaign by dividing and conquering. Each DM is encouraged to take responsibility for some portion of the setting by introducing locations, central NPCs, and chains of events that are his own. While there is room for endless cross fertilization, borrowing, and mutual influence, these elements, once introduced, are the presumptive property of the DM who introduced them. If you're going to the Submerged Spire, then I'm your DM. If you're going to try to go up against the minotaur Malveraux who slaughtered Pierre's character, then Winston is your man. This can be accomplished on the side of the players by having a norm that they will only interact with something that belongs to one DM during that DM's turn. This is a cost because the balkanization of the campaign world introduces an artificial limitation of player freedom. (This is the approach my group uses. It works well, and is a viable solution, but I definitely feel the loss of agency that it introduces.)

The alternative approach that I've been thinking about this week resolves this tension in a different way, by sacrificing, to some extent, the pleasure of keeping secrets. Here the central concept is campaign canon. Something is canon if it's an established fact that has been encountered in play. For example, if the players have been to the second level of the Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper, then the map, layout, and contents of that level are canon. Similarly, if we have learned that the white pods of the Moon Lich have landed in the Screaming Hyena Jungle, then that too is canon. On this second approach, what passes from DM to DM is canon only. Supposed the PCs don't explored the bottom level of the Submerged Spire that I created during my turn. Suppose that they return at a later time, during another DM's turn. At that point, the DM works with the map and location as it exists in canon, but is free to put whatever he wants beyond the last closed doorway. Then, when I go as a player into my own dungeon, I have no idea what I'll find. Player agency is thus perfectly preserved. But it does come at the cost of wiping clean the geography of the undiscovered country that each DM may have created. The secrets count for nothing when the DMs rotate; canon is everything. Longterm slumbering secrets would not really be a viable option, since everything is always up for grabs. Here we see the same problem resolved in the opposite direction from the divide and conquer approach.

I haven't tried this second alternative, but I think it could be a real blast. It would be great fun to see another DM take something I made and spin it out in a direction that I never anticipated. I suspect that it would naturally produce some interesting dynamics. For example, it would certainly encourage DMs not to prepare too far in advance. I suspect it would also lead DMs to introduce evocative hooks that he would enjoy seeing other people develop. I bet there would also be a premium on elaborating canon in a surprising way, and I might expect a competitive dynamic to develop with DMs vying to take one another's material in a strange and wonderful direction. But then I don't know, since I haven't tried it.



The Protocols

Getting Started


On either approach, you will need to start with what I call a campaign frame. The campaign frame consists of three things.

(a) A paragraph long description of the setting that captures the aesthetics, genre inspirations, and main themes of the campaign world.*

(b) A campaign map. This can be a hex map for a sandbox, or a looser world map of some kind.

(c) A barebones description of the campaign base and its immediate environs.

*For example, "A sword and planet campaign set in the final days of the dying sun. Vast graveyards from the Draftsmen Wars dot the landscape, their technological horrors slumbering, as a dwindling mankind turns ever inward, languishing in highly mannered, hierarchical societies. Imagine it as sort of a fusion of Jack Vance's Dying Earth and Rifts."



The Divide and Conquer Protocols


(1) Everyone is a player, and everyone has the opportunity to DM.

(2) A schedule will be fixed in advance, giving everyone a chance to DM who wishes to do so. Alternatively, volunteers can be solicited towards the end of a DM's rotation with preference being given to those who have not DMed before, or have not done so recently.

(3) Once a DM has introduced a major setting element, including an adventuring location, NPC, or chain of events, that element is considered his.

(4) Players may do anything they like in the world, except interact in a significant way with the property of a DM who is not behind the screen without first seeking his permission.

(5) A DM's typical rotation will have an expected length suitable to your schedule and the number of DMs who wish to participate. In our group, the expectation is 6-8 sessions per rotation. When the upper end of that limit is being approaches, players and DM will voluntarily allow adventures centering on the current DMs property to wind down.



The Canon is Everything Protocols


(1) Everyone is a player, and everyone has the opportunity to DM.

(2) A schedule will be fixed in advance, giving everyone a chance to DM who wishes to do so. Alternatively, volunteers can be solicited towards the end of a DM's rotation with preference being given to those who have not DMed before, or have not done so recently.

(4) When DM rotations occurs, all that is carried over to the next DM is campaign canon. Canon is defined as fact that has been established through play. DMs are free to treat what is not yet canon in any way they like.

(5) Players may go anywhere and do anything with any DM.

(6) The length of a rotation can be fixed by arbitrary fiat, or by social consensus. I would suggest starting with the presumption of 6-8 sessions per rotation.*

*In theory, using the Canon is Everything Protocols, you could rotate DMs as frequently as you like, even every session. I suspect that this would produce an experimental quality to the game that would probably be a buzzkill once the novelty wore off. It would also be a bitch to rotate in new PCs every session. How did they get there?



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sharing the Screen



My face to face D&D group rotates between multiple DMs in the same campaign. We've been doing it for almost three years now. It all started when I moved in next door to Winston. He's the man behind the screen. Winston heard that I played D&D from my wife, and told me that he was reconvening a group of neighborhood folks who used to play. He had been homebrewing a campaign world for the group. He offered us three things: a map of the campaign world "Elmontare" (el-mon-TAR-ee), a minimal description of the setting, and a first adventure to set the tone. He explicitly conceived of this as a framework. From the start the plan was to switch off DMs. Everyone would play, and everyone would have the opportunity to DM. Through our collaboration, and shared adventures, Elmontare would become a living breathing thing. We would build it together.

When he gave the minimal description my heart sank. Owing to some sort of apocalypse past the distant edge of human memory, an advanced, decadent, and evil civilization was destroyed and the region reverted to pristine wilderness. In this wilderness, our people grew from infancy to maturity. We have no name, for we are the only humans of whom we know. We are hunter gatherers who live in relations of social harmony. There is no a currency, and our economy combines stoic independence and sane communal arrangements, with barter around the edges. It is largely matriarchal, being ruled by a queen, advised by a female priesthood (druids) devoted to our sole deity, the All Mother. In short, the setting was about as far from Vancian shenanigans and murder hoboism as you could conceivably get. There's no such thing as money, and the only (human) spell casters are druids. Oy vey.

But our first adventure convinced me that this could work. At the age of 17, those who chose to enter the ranks of the warriors (i.e. adventurers) underwent a secret ritual initiation. After a long day at the sweat lodge, the elders fed us brew laced with potent hallucinogens, and, while we were each suffering our own private spirit visions, we were taken on a wild ride through the air to some wilderness region beyond the edges of our tribal civilization. We awoke on a raft floating down a river, wearing only loin clothes. A set of instructions informed us that we could only return bearing the pelt of a great grizzly bear. So after psychedelic visions we were plopped down with absolutely nothing in the middle of a wilderness hex crawl. It took us a full SEVEN sessions to find and kill the bear. The adventure was very challenging and had the eerie flavor of a primeval wilderness filled with inhuman dangers. It was a blast. I learned a lot about how to do a wilderness adventure from it, but that's a topic for another time.


Noah is the dude with the hat


Noah, the next DM up followed suit. His adventure had us working on loan to another clan during fishing season, providing security for the fishing operation. Once again, a definite wilderness terrain was introduced that we got to know over several sessions. After the group blew it through some poor tactical choices, the fishermen were slaughtered, and we ended up waging a guerrilla war behind enemy lines. The world was developed through the introduction of a clan structure to our tribe, and some delineation of the economic basis of our existence, as well as by the introduction of a well defined wilderness area, and some new humanoid threats.

I was up next, and found myself facing quite a challenge. I doubted that I could pull off the kind of wilderness adventure that they had done so well. And the setting was just not the sort of thing that got my creative juices flowing. I never in a million years would have come up with it. My first apparently bright idea was to take the whole thing in the direction of Imaro. I asked myself why our society had no wizards. Maybe there was a taboo against magic, and a lot superstition about witches. Cults of freaky, demon worshipping witches as villains in a tribal setting seemed like a lot of fun. But from the beginning, I could see that the players didn't like it. Although I thought of myself as acting in good faith, in reality I had done something very different than the second DM. What I had done was introduce elements of paranoia and bigotry into the society, and internal sources of evil. This wasn't building on the frame as Winston had presented it; it was changing the basic premises to make the setting something (different) that I wanted it to be.

So I gave it up and switched gears entirely. What I needed to do was to make the game mine, without introducing something that would stretch or alter the minimal premises of the framework. Winston had shown me on the map where the coast line had extended before the apocalypse submerged half of the continent under water. Ancient evils slumbering under the sea--I could work with that. My solution was to plop down the Shattered Isles from my Wilderlands setting off the coast of Elmontare. They were a set of islands that were once the geographical high points of the evil civilization that was destroyed in the apocalypse. The PCs went wavecrawling and explored the demon haunted ruins of an evil Aztec type ancient civilization. The group has been to the Shattered Isles twice now, the last time diving beneath the waves to explore the Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper. It's been a big hit. The lesson is that you can always find ways to introduce something that suits your fancy, perhaps by locating it in a unexplored region (across the sea), or in the distant past, or, in my case, both.

Over time, some very nice effects have emerged from alternating DMs. The first thing is that we learn from and inspire one another. I can't tell you how much I've learned by watching Winston DM. The rotation also introduces a nice competitive culture. When I took the PCs under the sea to explore a freaky vivimancer's castle, I laid down a gauntlet. Winston responded by taking us into the heart of the apocalypse, traveling through the strangely altered wilderness, and into the endless dwarven mines that had been ground zero of the radioactive comet strike that ended the previous civilization. Since we're only DMing three months a year, we have loads of time to prepare. And it's fun to sweat it a little bit, like, "Man, what crazy shit am I going to bring to top this?"

There are also certain accidental effects of the arrangement that are worth mentioning. Perhaps the most significant is that adventures don't tend to take a completely open-ended, player driven form. This is because we each have some ownership over the themes we've introduced. When it's my turn, it's just not cool for the players to go after the minotaur priest Malveraux that Winston introduced as part of a brewing threat, even though one of our PCs died on his gore-drenched horns the previous session and we're itching for revenge. As a result, there also tends to be a bit of hard-framing to get things started. That's not to say that there isn't tons of meaningful player choice. If Winston introduces a bear hunt wilderness crawl, or if I induce the PCs to go on a wave crawl by dangling some juicy hooks, after we're off and running it's all maximal open-ended player agency. But there's a certain amount of, "It's my turn; here's what we're doing." This isn't inevitable, but I suspect that there is a natural inertia to the arrangement that will tend in this direction. It's likely that the DMs are going to stake claims to different parts of the world, including different areas and different trajectories of events, and this will necessitate a certain amount of steering at the outset of a session.

Other accidental effects include a sort of episodic feel to the game, which necessarily involves rotating party members, and adventures with different styles and themes. We also play fast and loose (Gygax would hate this!) with the campaign timeline. It's not entirely clear that the adventures are happening in the sequential order that we're playing them, although to make strict sense of player advancement, equipment, and so on, they would have to. No one is keeping track of how many years its been since such and such happened, or what season it ought to be. We often pick up old themes from a (real life) year ago as though only a month of game time had passed. Again, I think you could avoid this if you wanted to, but there is a certain natural tendency for things to go this way. I, for one, don't find it to be a bad thing.The combat round is famously abstract in early D&D. Why not do the same with the campaign timeline?

The last three years have convinced me that sharing the screen is one pretty great way to do things. My advice would be to give it a try if the opportunity presents itself. Don't shy away, even if differing tastes and interests involves figuring out how to fit your style into a setting very far from your default. If you're going to share the screen, you have to be willing to give up a lot of fussy control. But if an obsessively over-preparing, Vance loving, swords and sorcery guy like me can do Elmontare, then anything is possible.

        

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Bestiary for Ruined Ghinor

This is the bestiary for Ruined Ghinor. When a post contains a creature, I will also include it here, in alphabetical order.

Kora
Apparition Shrimp
No. Appearing: 1d6
Armor Class: 2
Move: 9'
Hit Dice: 2
No. Attacks: 2 Pincers
Damage Attacks: 1d6 
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: M 
Special: +3 to surprise underwater

Apparition shrimp are massive shellfish (4' long) that have been changed by feeding on the mutagen infused carcasses of Luminous Jellies. They are usually found near the underwater wreckage of ancient magical sites. They have translucent, ghostly blue shells, and long wicked razored appendages. Owing to their transparency, they are difficult to spot underwater, and frequently are able to surprise their prey. They often travel in packs and can be aggressive.

John Blanche
Blink Tiger
No. Appearing: 1-3
Armor Class: 2
Move: 15'
Hit Dice: 5+5
No. Attacks: 3 Claw/Claw/Bite
Damage Attacks: 1d6/1d6/1d10
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: L
Special: They blink every round making it difficult to strike them (hence hte low AC). Each round, on 1-3 on a d6 they strike from the rear at +4

Blink Tigers are fearsome predators of the Screaming Hyena Jungles. They are great cats, with a lustrous black coat and yellow stripes, must prized by nobles throughout the Wilderlands. They constantly flicker in and out of existence, moving in a disorienting mayhem of shifting locations. Like other great cats, they are lazy but cruel hunters, considering themselves kings of the jungle. 

Alberto Carrera Avila
Cenarach
No. Appearing: 1-3
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 3+3
No. Attacks: 1
Damage Attacks: 1d6 + poison (save or die)
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: L (5' high spiders)

Cenarachs are a product of the blending cubes and mixing vats of the Sorcerer Lords. They are a horrifying blend of human and arachnid. Their human form is bent over backwards. From the base of its spine, eight spider's legs emerge. The top of their head opens into a spidery maw, and above it are set eight small black eyes. Although they can breath comfortably in both land and water, they cannot swim, and can only travel on the seabed like crabs. They are filled with a hatred towards the unmarred human form. Their lairs are filled with aquatic webs, in which nestle the white pods that hold the corpses serving as food for their implanted eggs.



David A. Trampier
Cerebral Malice
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1d6
Armor Class: 4
Move: 18'
Hit Dice: 6
No. Attacks: 2
Damage Attacks: 1d8 or domination
Intelligence: Very
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: M (size of a large dog)

These creatures are great hunters, able to follow the psychic signature of an individual who has passed through any terrain up to one week. They receive their sustenance by absorbing the brain matter and psyches of intelligent creatures. When they do so, for d6 hours they acquire the ability to speak, taking on the voice and memories of the one consumed. Their method of attack is most disconcerting. In addition to their vicious claws, they are able to dominate the minds of men. Once per round, they may attempt to seize control of a victim who must save vs. magic at -2. If dominated, the individual will follow their every command. They can control up to four victims at once. They are not native to the earth, hailing from the bleak corners of space.



Compass Worm 
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1d6
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 3+1
THACO: 16
No. Attacks: 1 Bite (2 in frenzy)
Damage Attacks: 2d4+1 + Blood frenzy
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: M
Special: As soon as any of the worms tastes blood (does damage), all worms in a 30' radius enter a wild, thrashing frenzy, receiving an additional attack per round. 

Compass Worms are five feet in length. Their otherwise featureless head ends in a maw ringed by sharp teeth. They are filled with a hatred of sapient life and an uncontrollable lust for blood. They have an unerring sense of direction, and potent alien senses that allow the worm to “see” in darkness, and detect invisible or hidden creatures. Compass Worms are valued for their frightful force as guardians, and also by all those sorcerers who have reason to tread in twisting labyrinths or the dark places beneath the earth. Compass Worms dwell in a place the Book of Six Circles refers to as “The Sightless Labyrinth”.  Although the text is vague, it seems to be a place of claustrophobic darkness, in which cramped and twisting passages are laid out in a non-euclidean geometry.



Stillenacht
Dismemberer
Frequency: Unique
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 4
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 8 (40)
THACO: 12
No. Attacks: Claw/Claw+ichor grab, or breath weapon
Damage Attacks: 1d8
Intelligence: Medium
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: M  
Special attacks: Once per day ichor spray doing 3d6 to everyone in a 10' cone, save vs. breath weapon for half. When striking with his claws, on a natural 20 the Dismemberer will pull a victim's head into his weeping ichor for 2d6 additional damage.

In ages past, the Dismemberer was a master architect. He raised for the sorcerer lords mansions to suit their whims, constructed like puzzle boxes, with secret gardens, jeweled libraries, and glittering towers. But in his arrogance, he slighted Sarpedon the Shaper, and so entered his protein bathes and blending chamber. He no longer remembers why he builds, but build he must. So he fashions a cathedral to his long dead master from rude materials, fastened with an ichor secreted from the weeping surface where his face once was. Embedded within the walls are the tanned limbs of his victims. From the walls of the nave, a choir of tortured faces peer, and the entryway is decorated by torsos from which spring a bewildering farrago of limbs. He dwells on the Island that is his namesake, one of the Shattered Isles.


Ctenophoric Maiden 
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 2
THACO: 17
Attacks: 1 Stinging tentacles (10' radius) or psionics
Damage Attacks: 1d10
Intelligence: Very High
Alignment: Neutral
Size: M
Special: The Ctenophoric Maiden may use the following mind powers once per hour: (1) Levitate, (2) Hold Person, (3) Magic Missile (2d4+2).

Ctenophoric Maidens are beautiful women from the nose down. Immediately above the nose, their face ends, bulging into something resembling the medusa jellyfish from which they were originally spawned. They are possessed of a cold and calculating intelligence, and wield fierce mental powers in the service of their strange ends. They may also attack with their writhing tentacles that carry deadly stings, which they may focus either on a single target, or use as an area effect weapon (10'). Ctenophoric Maidens were originally spawned in Sarpdon the Shaper's vats during the twilight of the Sorcerer Lords. They enjoyed a brief period of popularity during which they were in great demand. But the fad among that jaded crowd quickly passed to other curiosities and aberrations. Most of the Ctenophoric Maidens were thoughtlessly destroyed or casually sent into exile. It is rumored that a community of Ctenophoric Maidens has survived into the present day, hidden among the shattered isles. If so, it is a highly secretive enclave.



Jelly, Luminous
No. Appearing: 10-60
Armor Class: 8
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 1-3 depending on size
THACO: 18
Attacks: Tentacles + poison
Damage Attacks: 1d6 + save or lose 1d4 con
Intelligence: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small

Luminous Jellies are shaped as beautiful transparent bells, within which luminous geometrical patterns emit a phosphorescent glow. Their stinging tentacles are dangerous, and they may attack moving entities, especially if they come close. Luminous jellies feed off magical energy and are usually found clustered around some magical artifact or depository of power. If someone should be unfortunate enough to cast a spell, or employ a magical object within 100' of a colony of Luminous Jellies, they will all swarm hungrily to the new source of nourishment in shining, deadly waves.
Janjetov

Jelly, Muscle
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 10
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: Variable (4-12)
THACO: 15
Attacks: 1 Slam
Damage Attacks: 1d8
Intelligence: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small to Large
Special: For every HD over 8 add 1 to damage. Victims struck by such large Muscle Jellies must save vs. paralysis or be stunned for 1 round.

Muscle Jellies are the byproducts of abandoned muscle culture vats used by the practitioners of bio-occult science. When these vile vats of perpetually roiling muscle fibers are allowed to stew for months unattended, they will coalesce into mindless and aggressive Muscle Jellies. The longer they are left unattended, the larger they will grow, reaching their maximum size at 12 HD. They move and attack by growing powerful pseudo-pods. On the plus side, they are delicious when grilled. During the age of the Sorcerer Lords, especially tender Muscle Jellies were intentionally grown for consumption at huge feasts. This gave rise to a short-lived profession of gladiatorial butchers. 


Gary Chalk
Lunar Spawn 
No. Appearing: 1d20
Armor Class: 6
Move: 15'
Hit Dice: 1+1
THACO: 18
Attacks: 1 painful touch
Damage Attacks: 1d6 + cumulative -1 on all rolls for 24 hours
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral
Size: M

Lunar Spawn are lunar entities. To the human eye, they appear as billowing, incandescent clouds, coalescing momentarily into membranous wings and cerebral appendages. To the ear, the beating of their wings is the cracking of frozen panes of glass, their cry the chiming of bells. They bring with them the cold of empty voids, and the desolation of crystalline spires, rising without life or purpose from blasted lunar expanses into a perpetually black sky. They care little about the ways of man, although they are drawn like moths to the warmth of our life force and the integrity of our psyches. Unfortunately, the brush of their wings and the touch of their dangling appendages are deadly to the human psyche.


Nervous Engine
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 9
Move: 10' (See below)
Hit Dice: 100 hp total
No. of Attacks: 3 per node (See below)
Damage Attack: 1-10/1-10/1-10
Special Attack: Spell
Special Defense: No
Intelligence: High
Size: See below

A Nervous Engine is a complex network of nerve fibers running from a cerebral crown, consisting of a fleshy ring of fused heads. These nerve fibers terminate in spatially distant nodes. Each node is a cluster of sense organs and dangling ganglia. These organs cluster in corners, and can be hidden behind fixtures if desired. The nodes may be installed within a 1000' radius of the crown, although nerve fibers must be run from the crown to the site of each node. The total hit points of the nervous engine is divided between crown and nods. Up to nine nodes may be installed. Each node possesses 10 hp of the total, with the crown possessing the remaining amount (minimum 10 hp). Should the fibers connecting any node to the crown be cut, that node automatically dies.

Only a specially prepared subject may don the crown. To do so, a ring of removable flesh plugs must be installed in the wearer's skull. When the wearer removes the plugs and dons the crown, its tendrils make direct contact with his brain. This enables him to sense through the organs of all nodes. He may also direct the dangling ganglia to attack, which can extend 30' from the sense organ cluster. They attack by transmitting agonizing electrical pulses into the nerve fibers of the victim. Finally, the user may cast mind affecting spells through the organ cluster targeting any perceived victim. If a node is destroyed while a user wears the crown, he must save vs. death magic or suffer 10 hp damage as well.

The creation of a Nervous Engine is a ghastly affair. Like, the Sanguinarythey are generated through the 7th level vivimancer spell Create Organ Golem, found in the second part of The Hidden Metamorphoses. This requires a working laboratory of at least 3000gp value. Five victims must be procured and placed into long term deep slumber, usually through use of the 3rd level vivimancer spell Slumber. The victims must be arranged in a circle, with their heads dangling into a protoplasmic bath infused with the royal jelly of giant bees. Through painless surgical incisions, the brain casing of the subjects are exposed to the fluid. Within two weeks, a tough and fleshy growth will sprout form within their skull cavity, beginning to fuse the heads. At this point, their bodies will begin to rapidly waste away, sloughing off in two more weeks. In the process, all their hair is shed, and cauliflowers of neural matter sprout from every orifice. When the heads are fully fused into the cerebral crown, the neural fibers may be drawn out, and the distal nodes cultivated. The whole process of growth takes two months of active tending.
Q

Russ Nicholson
Quiet One 
No. Appearing: 1d6
Armor Class: 5
Move: 15'
Hit Dice: 4+1
THACO: 15
Attacks: 3 claws
Damage Attacks: 1d6 + special poison
Intelligence: Medium
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: M
Special: Owing to their unnerving silence, they are at +2 to surprise rolls. Anyone struck by their claws must save vs. poison or be rendered silent as if struck by a silence spell.

The Quiet Ones appear on our plane as long tangles of segmented legs and joints, ending in wicked hooks. They only come when summoned, entering our reality by unfolding their twisted limbs and pulling themselves rapidly from the mouth of the summoner. Their name is doubly earned. For they move, strike and die utterly without sound. But their hooks are also covered in potent venom that is at once excruciating and simultaneously renders the victim silent as though subject to a silence spell. Their psychology is strange. At times, Quiet Ones seem to delight in rending flesh, although at other times they are stubbornly impassive, and move into battle only with goading. Owing to their superficial similarity to the Tessellated Carvers of the Archivists, some have speculated that Quiet Ones are one of their servitor races. What silent realm of agony they hail from is not known. They are favored by all those who seek to kill their enemies in silence, and are often mastered by those searching for a potent weapon to employ in a duel against other sorcerers.

R

S

Walter Oltmann

Sanguinary
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 7
Move: 12
Hit Dice: Variable
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage Attack: 2-12/2-12
Special Attack: Blood Drain
Special Defense: No
Intelligence: Semi
Size: Variable

Sanguinary is a swaying, pulsating, web of arteries and capillaries, roughly humanoid in shape. Its spoor is a rust-colored dappled pattern of droplets it leaves on everything it touches. Sanguinaries vary in size, beginning with 1/2 the hp of their former host. They attacks by pressing their twisting and writhing capillaries against the flesh of a living victim, which drill beneath the skin in search of blood. When it scores a hit, it adds any hp it deals in damage to its own total up to a maximum of twice its starting total. It may continue to drain blood after this point, which pours in spurts from its engorged tendrils.

Sanguinaries are ruled by their ceaseless thirst. They required 5 pints of blood per day, and without blood perish within 3 days. For this reason, they willingly serve any master who provides (and withholds) their gruesome sustenance. They are created through the 7th level vivimancer spell Create Organ Golem. This spell is contained in the second part of The Hidden Metamorphoses. It requires a working laboratory of at least 2000gp value, a living victim, a tub of elemental earth, and a pint of aboleth semen. The technique involves first liberating the intact cardiovascular system from the living victim. Needless to say, this process involves terrible life sustaining magics, and requires mastery of anatomy, surgical precision, and an iron stomach. Once the cardiovascular system has been removed, the bleeding heart along with its veinous root system must be carefully buried in the elemental earth that has been fertilized in advance with the potent semen from the Aboleth. If the heart bulb is properly tended for a month, it will sprout a strange growth, blossoming within a fortnight into a Sanguinary ripe for the harvesting.




Sapless One
No. Appearing: 1d8
Armor Class: 7
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 3+3
THACO: 17 (incorporeal touch ignores all armor)
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage Attacks: 1d4+1 + energy drain
Intelligence: Medium
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Size: M
Special: If they succeed on a to hit roll, the victim must save vs. death or lose a level and suffer partial permanent amnesia. At night or in shadowy places Sapless Ones receive +4 to surprise rolls.

The Sapless Ones are the shades of those who died alone and forgotten, left to rot without proper burial and funeral rites. Those who were cunning in life eventually win passage through the Verdigris Gate into Ushanpor, the great city of the Brass Sepulcher. There they slip from doorway to doorway, past desecrated temples, rank gardens, and silent bazaars to congregate listlessly with their kind in filthy courtyards, where they find brief solace in company with those who share their plight. Over time their memories fade, and with them their dreams, hopes, and personality. They remember only that they do not remember, and driven mad by a dull aching lack, long for whatever would fill it. They lack substance, and although they are filled with an envious hatred of the living, they are desperate to serve those who can provide it. 



Delano-Laramie
Slaver Squid
No. Appearing:
Armor Class: 2
Move: 12' (fly)
Hit Dice: 6
THACO: 14
Attacks: 3 tentacle or special
Damage Attacks: 1d10
Intelligence: Genius
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: L
Special: Every other round they may forgo other attacks to unleash waves of agony. Everyone in 100' must save vs. spells or take 3d6 damage and suffer paralysis for 1d4 rounds. Once per day they may also cast darkness 15' by injecting their black ink into the fabric of spacetime.

Slaver Squids are lunar cephalopods whose skin is colored like the starry night's sky. They have a mind that cuts like razors and believe that all lesser species--such as man--are fit only for servitude. Their alien culture is organized through a cruel and byzantine hierarchy. They work tirelessly to build an army of slaves from the many worlds, using them to erect a pearly ziggurat as a great memorial to their dead god, Kalipash-Or. The Slaver Squid will try to enslave any humanoids it encounters and transport them to the Ziggurat.



Stillenacht
Still Prelate 
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 2
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 7
THACO: 13
Attacks: By spell
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: M
Spells per day: Darkness (x2), Cause Fear, Silence 15' Radius, Hold Person, Blindness (x2), Dispel Magic, Insect Plague, and Monster Summoning II (summons 1d6 Compass Worms).

Still Prelates are gaunt figures. In the place of a face, a dense manuscript is set, supported by an elaborate iron cage drilled into their skull. They are silent and malicious figures, who revel in pain and suffering. When they cast spells, their manuscript flips open to the relevant page, and the runes inscribed thereupon glow green. Little is known about these strange figures. They are denizens of the Sightless Labyrinth, and are able to command the entities that reside there. Perhaps they are spiritual leaders of the religion that prevails in its non-euclidean corridors; perhaps they are manifestations of the maze's hatred for life; or perhaps they are what remains of those who were banished there from the earth in earlier times, when men still knew how to open the ways to many worlds. Should they be slain, the manuscript may be extracted from their head. It contains the spells listed above, plus the ritual that binds Compass Worms. However, to consult this text, one risks madness.

T


Chris Burdett
Tentacled Guardian 
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 2
Move: 15'
Hit Dice: 8
THACO: 12
Attacks: Spear/Tentacle/Tentacle
Damage: 1d6+2/1d4+2/1d4+2
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Neutral
Size: L
Special: On a successful tentacle strike, the victim make a dex check or be constricted and recieve automatic damage until dropped.

The tentacled guardians were among the most fearsome of Sarpedon the Shaper's blended monstrosities. They are cowled figures rising from a mass of think tentacles that supports them as a throne. They may rear up to 12' tall, and are capable of condensing themselves to pass through narrow apertures through which a slender man could fit. They are usually bound by fearsome magics to permanently guard a particular place, and serve as faithful and relentless guardians. They are often equipped with ancient magical weapons and arcane items. 

Kora

Threnody Crows
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 5
Move: 12'
Hit Dice: 6
THACO: 14
Attacks: By spell
Intelligence: Genius
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: M
Spells: The Threnody Crow may cast at will: Invisibility, Darkness, Charm Person, Suggestion, Sleep, Improved Phantasmal Force, Confusion, and Fear. Once per day he may cast: Phantasmal Killer, Hallucinatory Terrain, Mass Suggestion, Mass Confusion.


Although it is found on no map, there is a land that borders all the waking worlds. It goes by diverse names: The Half-Remembered Kingdoms, Juxtaposition, The Unbidden Shores, Wishery, and countless others in tongues no man has ever heard. Within its perplexing and shifting geography, there are some places more than others where nightmares roost. The sand strewn isles of the Sea of Palimpsests is such a place. It is here that one may find the Threnody Crows that the Fourth Circle binds.

Threnody Crows are beautiful in the wrong way, with pearly white eyes, feathers black as midnight velvet, and the head of a crow. They wear rotting finery, and carry ornate instruments, usually stringed. They are great singers, for they have as many mouths as hopes they have betrayed, and their every note is thus a harmony. They are themselves formidable sorcerers, weaving great illusions through their dark threnodies that maze the minds of men and give substance to our nightmares. They are wise but fickle, and could never be bound, except that they rejoice in the novel sights of the waking worlds, and in sewing destruction and misery.

U

V


Vothak 
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1-2
Armor Class: 1
Move: 20'
Hit Dice: 8
THACO: 11
Attacks: Claw/Claw/Claw/Claw/Bite
Damage: 1d8/1d8/1d8/1d8/1d12
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: L
Special: If their bite hits by 4 more than needed, they will swallow whole a creature of man size or smaller. The harsh stomach acids of this fiend will do 3d12 damage per round, automatically. From within the stomach, one may only attack with medium sized weapons (longswords and smaller), but one need not roll to hit.

These pale, leathery horror hail from the lush white bowers of the Dangling Jungle in Wishery. The offspring of Martian nightmares, these eyeless hunters are well suited to their inverted home. Their sucker covered feat allow them to climb any surface, and they are comfortable in any orientation. They move with a brutal speed, and attack with four razor sharp claws. Most terrible of all is the bite of their massive maw, filled with needle like teeth. They appetite is limitless and they strike without mercy. Only a superior show of force can turn them aside from chosen prey.

W

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