Monday, October 10, 2016

Herbert West - Reanimator. For Classic and OSR gaming.

A serialized short story published in 1922 by HP Lovecraft and adapted into a cult classic serious of movies beginning in 1985. This write up will focus on the original short story characterization of Dr. Herbert West.

The short story tells the tale of Herbert West a student doctor obsessed with finding a way to defeat death. He creates a serum, a reagent to reanimate the dead and with the assistance of an unnamed doctor begins to rob graves and try to revive corpses with the serum with mixed and horrific results.

Here is the story. It is a fun bit of pulpy Frankensteinian fiction Lovecraft admitted writing only for the five dollars he received or each of the six installments.

Spoiler!
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The nameless assistant and confidant of West narrates the story and claims West was torn to pieces and dragged away by the 'tomb-legions', escaped past experiments of West under the guidance of one of his more intelligent reanimation's. 

For our game purposes this did not happen. The nameless narrator went mad and swooned before they reached West. West escaped with his rejected experiments hot on his heels. Waking and mad the narrator hallucinated West's demise to the detectives in charge of the investigation and nicely leaving Dr. Herbert West free to enter our games. 

Dr. Herbert West, Reanimator
"Damn it, it wasn't quite fresh enough..."
HD: 3
HP: 15
AC: 10/9
Hit: +2/ as Cleric
Save: 13/ Cleric

Diagnose
West can make a  check (16 or less on a d20) to diagnose the illness of a patient, giving him information on proper treatment of the illness and a bonus on any further checks with that patient. 

A successful check gives West a +1 hp per Healing dice below and a +2 bonus on Stabilization attempts below.

Healing
As a doctor West may heal 1d6 points of hit point damage per set of wounds following an injury. Only one healing can be used per set of wounds. He can use another healing if the patient has been wounded again after treatment as this is a new set of wounds He can heal three different wound sets per day, be it three people once apiece or the same person three times in the same 24 hours, provided that person was wounded on three separate occasions. This healing can be used for not only combat damage, but also disease, poison, and any other type of damage which affects hit points.

Once it is treated natural healing takes over, A patient under Wests direct care heals twice the number of hp per day with natural healing.

Surgery
As a doctor West can try to control bleeding, massage organs, etc to stabilize any character that has reached 0 or fewer hits points, and would otherwise be dead. West must reach the victim within three rounds following the victims incapacity, beginning on the round after he drops to 0 or below. Once he has reached the patient, he must then make a check (16 or less on a d20)  with a  -1 penalty for every hit point below 0. If he fails the patient continues to lose one hp per round until he is dead at -10.

If he succeeds in this, the character is stabilized and does not die. If the victim is wounded again, another attempt can be made but with an additional -4 penalty in addition to normal bonuses and penalties, representing the shock of additional wounds to the body.

Equipment
Reanimation Serum (One dose reanimates one human-sized corpse)
Doctor's Bag (+1 to Diagnose and Surgery checks)
Pistol (1d8), Scalpel (1d3), Amputation Knife (1d6)

Reanimation Serum
An evilly glowing viscous fluid, injected into the veins of the deceased. Herbert West has spent decades experimenting and refining his great discovery: the reanimation serum; the fluid that brings the dead back to the world of the living. 

Unfortunately he can't get the damn thing to work quite right.

The reanimated may not retain all of their higher brain functions. In fact, the less 'fresh' the corpse the worse the reaction is. Early versions of serum produced violent animalistic reanimated corpses. West later tried to refine the serum and its doses but the results were uneven as many of the corpses only blinked, gave horrible expressions, or cried out before sinking back into the oblivion of death. West has since gone back to the stronger, earlier version of the serum which produces the psychotic effects but he is more than willing to inflict them on the world to study them, examine them to hopefully find out what is wrong with the formula and hindering his 'great work.'

The subjects appear to be dead: their skin is pale, blood is pooled as there no heart beat, they foam at the mouth, and any wounds they have at death are not healed. Most are unpleasant to look at. 

The normal reanimation serum works as follows: 
Reanimation occurs within 2d6 rounds of injection and the subject doesn't come back with the same amount of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma it had in life. The degree of loss depends on how long the subject has been dead as the less fresh the corpse, the more the brain is deteriorated. If the corpse had an Intelligence and Wisdom higher than the max on the chart below it automatically drops to the maximum allowed. 
Less than five minutes: Intelligence, Wisdom, and  Charisma maximum of 13
Five minutes to an Hour: Intelligence, Wisdom, and  Charisma maximum of 8
Longer than an Hour: Intelligence, Wisdom, and  Charisma maximum of 3 

Those reanimated come back are treated as a creature with HD equal to half of the HD it had in life, round up (minimum one HD.) HP, attacks, Saving Throws, etc are treated as a normal monster of that HD. 
The receive the following special abilities:

Bite 
1d3 damage

Hideous
The reanimated are  prone to be dangerously psychotic and barely able to pass for human without some sort of disguise. Any wounds they died from will be obvious and unhealed. Most appear to be 'deadish' and leaking fluids and foam. Those who see an undisguised reanimated and realize that it is not human must make a Saving Throw (Paralyzation)  or suffer a -2 to all actions against the reanimated.  If they fail the Saving Throw by more than five they will likely flee in terror.

Fear of Fire
These reanimated have an instinctive fear of fire. If confronted with any fire torch sized or larger they must make a Saving Throw (Paralyzation) or be unable to melee attack the person wielding the fire. 

Retained Abilities
Those with more than a 3 in Intelligence may retain some use of abilities or skills they had in life albeit usually at a greatly reduced rate of competency. 

Above all else remember that the serum is a plot device, a tool for you to use as you see fit to have a good time. Roll with it.



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