Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Kolchak Files OSR: The Zombie


The Nightstalker was a great resource for horror detective gaming. Fun, not overly complicated, and always moving forward. The plots did not sit idle, a lot was needed to be done in the 50 minutes of each episode, just like a good game. Lots of clues, lots of clue sources, research, a few minor encounters before the main monster brawl. Perfect game rhythm. 


In the second episode of The Kolchak: the Nightstalker series (1974) Kolchak encounters a zombie, an undead automaton raised by voodoo magic to avenge its own death.

"Popular folklore would have us believe that there exists in the underworld ruthless men who fear nothing. This story should debunk that myth."

The story opens at night, August 14 at 2 a.m. in a seeding part of town.  Inside of a shipping container is a secret counting house of the Benjamin Sposato crime family. The doors are barred from the inside with a stout wooden board as Al Berg, Sposato's incompetent brother in law, is leading a group of mobsters counting and preparing money from their rackets. Among them is Willie Pike, former boxer. A loud pounding on the door begins, shaking the container and cracking the door bar. The mobsters run around in a panic collecting money and shredding documents as the door flies open and a shadowy figure climbs in. The mobsters open fire but the figures fling them aside, grabbing Pike above its and breaking his back. Berg escapes in the confusion. Thus begins the terror of the Zombie.

Kolchak is at the INS office as his boss, Tony, begins to butter him up for an assignment. Kolchak resists until Tony mentions his resources tell him it's am exclusive: a raid on a syndicate (mob) burial ground, a full raid involving tactical units. Kolchak takes the bait and Tony throws in the catch: Monique Marmelstein, niece of NY INS exec Abe "the Smiling Cobra" Marmelstein. The plump Monique is young, inexperience, brusque, and way to eager. Kolchak finally gives in and she goes with him in his yellow '66 Ford Mustang.

"Captain Leo Winwood and I had a relationship that was long and bloody, like the Crusades, only without the chivalry."

The duo arrive at the raid site, Apple Farms and Cider Works a front run by mobsters James and Perry Russo. They arrive in the midst of firefight as the police Captain Leo Winwood, a serious not fan of Kolchak's, has given the order to attack when fired up by the Russos. Monique puts herself in danger trying to take pics prompting Kolchak to trick her into and locking the car trunk. He then exchanges a few barbs with Winwood as the shooting subsides. The mobsters have been killed. Entering the bullet riddled farmhouse Captain Winwood comes out and bars reporters from entering to take pictures. Seeking more information Kolchak goes to visit a contact at the morgue.

Gordy "the Goul" Spangler runs a death lottery from the morgue, forcing Kolchak to buy. Kolchak then pays for info on the Russo's bodies.. Gordy acknowledges that they are here and mentions WIllie Pike from two nights prior, showing Kolchak x-rays that refute the official police report of death by 'severe blows'. He also reveals (after trying to get more cash out of the broke Kolchak) that a third body, a large black man was at the Russo scene as well. Gordy reveals the body was there last week, dead of six .44 mag  slugs, and there was chicken blood in the ears this time. They are interrupted as Tony calls a distracted Kolchak to apologize to Monique but Kolchak is busy listening to Gordy and hangs up as soon as Gordy promises to get info on who the black man was and where he was buried. He then runs off to an official police briefing.

Kolchak and Captain Winwood verbally duel as Kolchak demands to know about broken backs and about the third body at the Russo farm. Winwood deflects the questions only answering basic questions about the third corpse and abruptly ends the briefing as Kolchak brushes off the attempts of other reporters for info.

A phone call from Gordy leads Kolchak to the black man's second burial at St. Lucie's cemetery as city expense. This is confirmed by an older cemetary worker who thinks they are burying bodies on atop the other. Captain WInwood shows up to watch the burial and encounters Kolchak who throws more questions at Winwood who not so subtlety threatens to break his arms if he doesn't get lost.

A trip back to Gordy's (and another unwanted death lottery ticket) reveals the black man was one Francois Edmonds, a young bookie apparently hit by the Syndicate. Gordy theorizes that Edmond's was almost caught as a bookie and swallowed bookie receipts and the Russo's dug him up for 'exploratory surgery.' Kolchak immediately dismisses this as Gordy reveals there's been problems between the black numbers operators on the south side and the syndicate.

Kolchak tries to place a bet and get info on the south side but none of the bookies will do it. He poses as a former customer of Francois Edmonds and he is told to get a 'lucky' number at a voodoo shop, Le Bocor. There he meets the aged Uncle Filemon who will give him a lucky number for eleven dollars. He pours out a bowl of bones and other items and asks Kolchak about his dreams to find his lucky number. Kolchak tells him he dreamt about Francois Edmonds and Uncle FIlemon states that it must have been a bad dream. Kolchak is them spooked by a chicken in back of the shop as Sweetstick Weldon and his men enter the shop. He is a major black numbers boss and remembers Kolchak as writing a piece on him referring to him as ' an all around civic headache' and Kolchak denies this (that was my brother Marshal!) Kolchak's snooping has alerted Sweetstick and Kolchak doesn't seem to take the hint too shut up about Francois Edmonds as Sweetstick's right hand man Poppy gut punches him and throws him into the street. Later that night Al Berg is killed in an alleyway, back broken in the air. This prompts a meeting between the syndicate head and the numbers operators.

Kolchak hits up another of his contacts, the Monk, and gets the location of the meeting, a midtown garage owned by Benjamin Sposato. At 8.21 p.m. Sweetstick arrives with his men in a purple pimp cadilac to meet with Sposato and his men. Insults and threats are exchanged as Kolchak tapes the exchange in secret. The meeting ends unresolved and Kolchak fumbles with his recording, causing to to make noise as it rewinds. He is caught and brought to Sposato's limo. Sposato remembers Kolchak as the one who crashed his daughter's Barabar's wedding (no no that was my brother Sydney!) Sposato remembers Kolchak's 'two dollar hat' and is going to have Kolchak hurt badly or killed by Carl saves himself by telling them he knows that Francois Edmonds is killing his men. They know he's buried in St. Lucie's but Kolchak swears he's not there now.

Sposato and his men, including his right hand man Victor Friese, drag Kolchak to the grave and make him dig it up. It is empty and they mobsters begin to panic and argue as Friese did the killing of Edmonds but Sposato denies giving the order as they begin to believe Kolchak's assertion that anyone connected with Edmonds' death is being killed. Loud footsteps are heard and the zombie enters the scene. Sposato's men try to shoot the zombie but he batters then aside and ignores their bullets. Friese tries to run but trips over the grave dirt. The zombie picks him up, breaks his back, and leaves. The police arrive soon. The Sposato's have fled, leaving Friese's corpse, and Carl is still sitting in the grave, waiting on the cops.

"I saw Victor Friese get his back snapped! I heard it crunch!! ...and the man who did it was dead - dead - and had been dead for over two weeks!"

Kolchak is being held in Captain Winwood's office as a disheveled Tony Vincenzo arrives to bail him out wanting to know what Carl has done this time. Winwood lists:  grave desecration, suspected theft of corpse,  various health law violations, and setting next to a fresh body. When allowed to speak (he had been threated with a year in jail if he said anything) Kolchak raves about seeing Edmonds' walking corpse , the spine breaking murder, voodoo, chickenblood, and corn kernels. Kolchak is booted out into Vincenzo's custody.

Another trip to the monk reveals the name and location of Edmonds grandmother: Mamalois Edmonds, an old colorful Haitian lady.  Kolchak shows up at her door and she calls him in by name before he can knock. He questions her about where Francois' body is ( she claimed it was burned as a family custom), why she's called mamalois as he's heard of a papalois, a voodoo magician (she claims it's because she can cure little sicknesses with potions, etc). She asks Kolchak if he has any aches and he reveals a back problem. She mixes up a 'little medicine' of rum but Kolchak refuses to drink and flees the house to her taunt of 'you're crazy sonny!' Feeling slightly ill he spies a dead chicken in her trash and investigates. Doing this he sees her come outside with what looks like a mini-coffin, grab a chicken from a roost, and go into her garage, painted with a voodoo sign and a dead chicken hanging at the door. The garage is filled with voodoo paraphernalia including dead chickens, skulls, black candles, a cross with a tooth necklace, etc. On the alter are several mini-coffins with names painted on them in blood. Mamalois turns on a record of voodoo drums and starts with a ritual. Kolchak sneaks into the loft of the garage and, through a gap in the ceiling, begins taking pictures. He is horrified to see his name being painted on the new coffin, next to one with Captain Winwood's name. He heads back to the INS office to do some serious voodoo book research and write a zombie article.

"You oughta commit this to memory. You oughta really bone up on this, Captain. Especially the part on how to kill a zombie. What's the matter? You can't read? Well, I'll tell you how. You instruct all of your men that go out looking for this zombie to look in places of the dead- in graveyards, in cemeteries, in mortuaries or whatever. Each one of them has to be equipped with the following items- white candles, matches, salt and needle and thread. Now, after you catch the zombie, you pour the salt into his mouth. Then with the needle and thread, you sew the lips very tightly together." 


 "What do you do with it then, Kolchak? Cook the guy? Baste him with butter?" 

"No, you light the candles around him. So far, this zombie has only killed people who were connected to his murder. That's why its so important, Captain, for you to find out how to kill him. "

"And what's that crack supposed to mean?" 

"You see that little knickknack there, Captain? That is your coffin. And spelled in blood, chicken blood, on the top of it, is your name, Winwood. W- I-N-W-O-O-D. What it really spells, Captain, is not only are you a crooked cop, you're also a murderous one. How long have you been on Sposato's payroll, huh?"

Captain Winwood barges into INS to shut Kolchak down for good even threatening Tony with a number of fire hazard violations. Kolchak is not intimidated and tells the Captain how to find a zombie by looking in places of the dead and how to kill a zombie with the ritual of pouring salt in its mouth while resting, sewing its lips very tightly together, and then lighting white candles around the corpse while showing to Tony and Winwood the items he is raving about.
He then shows the pair the pictures with the voodoo coffins and names and outright accuses Winwood of being on Sposato's payroll and participating in Edmonds murder. Furious Winwood storms off with Kolchak badgering him to the stairway. Kolchak then tries to ditch Monique and heads out to Zachary's a nightclub where Sposato's girlfriend is singing in hopes the zombie will show up. It does killing a number of Sposato's men and breaking his back like the others. Carl shows up and begins snapping pictures soon followed by Monique who goes into complete shock from the carnage. Carl gently puts her in a cab bound for Brooklyn.

He then looks across the street and sees the zombie get on a city bus (yes you read that correctly.)   Kolchak gets his paper bag of zombie slaying gear and jumps on the back of the bus. The zombie soon gets off at an old wrecking yard: Moore Auto Graveyard.

Following it in Kolchak makes his way into the scrap yard amid stacks of rusting junk car, tripping over hubcaps and making a lot of noise at one point. Soon he finds it lying in the back of a wrecked hearse in a pile of cars. He onto the pile and warily takes a few pictures through the broken windows before climbing into the tight space in the back of the hearse and over the body to do the ritual to de-animate the corpse. He prepares by lighting a few candles, laying the sewing kit on zombie's chest, and begins to pour salt into the corpses mouth. He begins to shake and sweat as his nerves slowly begin cracking (one of the creepiest scenes IMHO in tv history) as he takes the needs and prepares to sew the mouth. As he's doing this Mamalois is working a ritual for the zombie to find and kill Kolchak. As he is about to pierce the lip with needle the zombie opens its eyes and looks about.
Carl's nerve shatters as Kolchak freaks out and runs. The zombie slides out of the hearse and swiftly pursues Kolchak over the car piles,  almost catching him. Kolchak manages to get the zombie to run into a looped cable from a crane, hanging itself in the air as he prepares three lit white candles on a hubcap beneath it. The corpse de-animates as the candles shake and blow out one by one. Carl's camera was smashed in the pursuit and he loses any evidence he might have had. Again.

"Item- Mamalois Edmonds was deported to her native country only one day after the events of the junkyard. Item- Captain Leo Winwood was relieved of duty for "reasons of health. '" Item- Francois Edmonds, the deceased, was buried a third time at public expense. A third time. However, this time rock salt was poured in his mouth, and his lips were sewn shut. City officials will deny this, but you can see it for yourself, if- if-you'd care to venture out to St. Lucy's Cemetery and exhume the corpse. Be my guest. If you've got the nerve."



Revenge Zombie
Hd: 3
Hp: 19
Ac: 12
Hit: +3
Save: 15
A corpse raised by a bokor or practitioner of voodoo magic for the purpose of taking violent revenge for some wrong, usually revenge for murder. The corpse is raised up with a ritual of awakening by the bokor and sent to kill those targeted, one victim at a time.

The revenge zombie is of course undead and has the standard zombie undead traits such as immunity to sleep and charm spells, etc. This type of zombie is as fast as a normal human being and moves at the standard human movement rate; they roll initiative normally. The revenge zombie takes half damage from piercing and blunt damage.

The revenge zombie's primary attack is to pummel with its fists for 1d6 damage. If the attack roll hits by 5 or more points the revenge zombie grabs its victim over its head instead of doing pummeling damage and begins to break the victim's back for an automatic 1d8 damage each round. The victim can try to escape the grip in the next round by making a Saving Throw with a -4 penalty due to the zombie's strength.

It must reast in a place of the dead such as mortuaries, graveyards, cemetaries, etc. The revenge zombie will go dormant until revived by the bokor controlling it. While dormant any hp damage done will be 'healed' after eight hours. Even if a revenge zombie is burned, dismembered, or even blown apart it can 'heal' if the remains are placed in a place of the dead. If the corpse is missing parts they can be replaced, stitched on the corpse from another corpse by the bokor. It continues to slowly rot as time passes. This will not affect its statistics, it only makes it look more horrific as it becomes mottled and bloated.

Once the ritual of awakening is started the zombie is animated and unerringly makes its way to the person it is aimed at. It will attack until it is destroyed or its target is dead. Once the target is killed it returns to its resting place to lie dormant and await the next ritual call.


But how did it get on the bus and how did no one on the bus notice?
That's always been a bit of fun fan speculation over the years. Were the seedier folks of Chicago that oblivious in 1974? Did they mind their own business that much?

My own theory is that Mamalois was watching over the zombie as it was animated. When Kolchak destroys it she was seen intensely concentrating and crying out in pain when it de-animated. Perhaps she must upkeep the ritual during the entire animation and she can cast other rituals through this contact such as a glamour to make it appear alive except by those she wished to see it, namely its victims and their allies. Perhaps she could slightly control the zombie's actions? Perhaps she had money in its pockets for bus fare? Ultimately it doesn't matter, just make something up. The unusual and absurd are normal in the Kolchak life.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL_zTT7mbmM&list=PLZs0gQed9tMSBS9DTLZCWyUnLZmOBR5Wm

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Kolchak Files: OSR

Kolchak stats (Yes I'm going to do a short revision, mostly clarifications and slight mod of skills/abilities listed, of the OSR Survival Horror Rules soon) here:
http://theosrlibrary.blogspot.com/2015/02/70s-80s-and-90s-survival-horror-dying.html



 In the first episode of The Kolchak: the Nightstalker series (1974) Kolchak encounters Jack the Ripper, an immortal serial killer and the most famous un-named serial killing fiend in Western history. In Chicago women are being killed and mutilated, including victims in a go go dance club, a massage parlor, and a woman in an alley, in a manner eerily similar to the original 19th century Ripper killings in London.He also leaves writing in blood on the massage parlor mirror.  Glimpses of the Ripper before he kills show Victorian attire, including a red lined opera cape, and cane with a gold devil-faced handle.

 Cornered by police in a violent rooftop shootout the Ripper shrugs off bullets, leaps off of a four-story building to the street, throws cops around like rag-dolls, leaps over a car, gets hit by a car going 30 mph,  and flees into the darkness to escape. This happens again later in the episode at a construction site, with the Ripper leaping from girder to girder, after the cops try a sting with an undercover female masseur. This time the Ripper leaps up onto an electric fence and is rendered immobile. He is taken into police custody and put in a concrete and steel maximum security cell. However he recovers, knocks the door off the cell and escapes.

A colleague of Kolchak's, reporter Jane Plumm is interviewing potential Rippers as the usual quacks and crazies are coming out of the woodwork to claim responsibility. She gets a hit as she is sent a ripper letter describing things done to a victim the police withheld from the public and news. Added as a PS on the letter is a poem:  Now a pretty girl will die, so Jack will have his kidney pie. This is in reference to the mutilation that the police hid; the kidneys were cut out.

Jane  is getting closer than she thinks as the Ripper is sending her poems, setting her up as a victim. The latest is: Jack is resting be reborn, to finish up on Wednesday morn. Kolchak recognizes this as the same poem as was written on the massage parlor mirror by the real Ripper. Jane however doesn't believe she is in danger and is eager to get the story. This leads her to her doom as she meets with the Ripper in Wilton Park.

As Jane is missing Kolchak contacts her mother and finds a number of locations she was meeting her fake Rippers at. At the mention of Wilton Park Kolchak remembers a letter to the newspaper's advice column from  an elderly lady complaining about her strange neighbor prowling around at night in a 'foolish costume' and 'x-ray eyes' in Wilton Park. This leads Kolchak to an interview with the elderly neighbor and the dilapidated  house at the south end of the park and a confrontation with the Ripper.

Remembering the incident with the electric fence Kochak rigs a trap with power cables from a water hole to the utility box on the Ripper's house. Kolchak breaks in and finds a number of antique items from the Ripper's decades. The Ripper returns and Kolchak hides in a closet. His nerve soon breaks and he flees downstairs, discovering Jane's body. Fleeing outside he connects the cable as the Ripper wades through the water hole after Kolchak. The Ripper is electrocuted and his fried body disintegrates in the water. The utility box overloads and catches fire and the house burns down with almost all of the evidence of the Ripper's existence. The only piece of evidence left to Kolchak is one of the Ripper's shoes salvaged from the fire: a shoe Kolchak has traced to a shoemaker in London who had discontinued the shoe type almost seventy years ago.

Facing charges of arson and malicious mischief Kolchak rips up his story as he laughs knowing no one would believe it.

The Ripper
HD: 5
Hp: 33
AC: 7/12
Attacks: by weapon +3 str bonus
Save: F5/11
1d6 to unarmed and weapon damage from inhuman Strength. Two attacks per round.
0 damage from normal weapons. He takes full damage from  electricity, fire, or magic.
Immortal: The Ripper can only be permanently killed by electricity.
Regenerate 2 hp per round.
Springheel: The Ripper can leap over objects 10' high and up to 30' distant. Can make a controlled drop from up to 50' and take no damage. If it is an uncontrolled fall he can make a Saving Throw to take half damage from a fall.

Devil-headed sword cane (1d4+1d6)

The Ripper never goes out of his house except at night as noted by Ms. Aginwiley, the nosy neighbor of the Ripper. With the aid of her telescope she also keeps a log of his comings and goings with dates and times coinciding with the new Ripper killings.

He always appears in period Victorian dress and carries his devil-headed cane.
He kills in a pattern. Five women, three individuals leading up to a final night of two victiims and then the Ripper moves on.

What is the origin of the Ripper's condition?
 It is never explained although Kolchak, in conversations with Jane Plumm and a tirade to Police Captain Warren, gives details of his investigations of the Ripper's past. Kolchak believes that each ripper described is the same man, Jack the Ripper, the current Chicago Ripper.
Many instances of rippers have cropped up worldwide over the decades.
Jane describes a ripper that killed five flower girls in Italy.
In 1908 a rIpper identified as Eugene Lang was caught  in New York but escaped in a frenzy. Kolchak believes his frenzied escape was due to the use of the electric chair. He feared itnand knew it would end him.
Five women were killed in Paris in the summer of 1888.
The RIpper was hanged in Germany but survived (Kolchak has a pic of the Ripper he took at the first rooftop police fight showing what is probably a rope burn on the neck.)
On August 14, 1904 a crack Athenian firing squad tried to execute the RIpper three times and failed.

Perhaps the RIpper is cursed, partakes in the ritual murders of five women to attain immortality, has made a deal with the Devil, or some other explanation to gain his abilities.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

OSR Oriental Adventures: Possessing Spirits (Yokai)

Possessing Spirits
https://hyakumonogatari.com/2013/07/02/tsukimono-the-possessing-thing/

Tsukimono is the possession of a body by a yokai or animal spirit. This is always involuntary as no invitation is given. The possession is forced upon the host body, often those who are weak of will, sick, or evil.

These spirits invade the flesh and twist it into a parody of the host body combined with the spirit's animal type. Given the joy of flesh they will often not be able to contain themselves and will glut themselves on drink, meat, blood, and violence. They are unnatural and must be hunted down and exorcised or destroyed for the sake of the areas they are terrorizing.

As presented here they are a template with features added onto the possessed character's level or NPC hit dice. While oriental in flavor they could easily be used for any horror game, fantasy to modern.

Each has unique abillites but all share a few features:
They retain all of the abilities and statistics of the host body but gain extra hit points and can regenerate damage due to their otherworldly origins. They retain the memories of the host body and may use that to their advantage.
They only take half damage from weapons which are not blessed (the spell), holy, magic, or with fire which will purify their flesh.
As a spirit or yokai they can be turned as if undead. They can also be barred from entering a dwelling if a talisman is placed upon the entryways. The possessing spirit must make a Saving Throw with a four penalty to enter.

Here are a few examples of a possessing animal spirit.

Fly and Spider
The fly and spider possessed are a hideous sight. Twisted human forms with exoskeletons, legs, wings, etc bursting forth from and melding with the human flesh. They are terrifying to behold.

Fly
A greasy exoskeleton, hairy legs, compound eyes, gigantic wings, and a drooling sucking mouth.
+2 hit points per level/hit dice.
+1 Armor Class (tough exoskeleton.)
Acid Vomit: Every third round the fly possessed can vomit stomach acid as a 10' ranged touch attack (no armor bonus.) 2d6 damage the first round, 1d6 the second round, Save for half.
Detect Carrion: 1-4/1d6, 100' radius.
Flight: 180'/60'.
Regeneration: 1 hit point per round.
Wall Walker: they're flies, they walk on walls and ceilings.

Spider
A hairy exoskeleton, large spider legs, mutiple spider eyes, and huge mandible dripping with venom.
+3 hit points per level/hit dice.
+3 Armor Class (tough exoskeleton.)
Claws: The large spider legs can slash twice per round for 1d4 damage per claw. If both hit the spider possessed automatically rips the victim for an extra 1d6 damage.
Bite: In lieu of the claw attacks the spider possessed can attack with its large mandibles. If the attack hits it does 1d6 damage and the victim is injected with a paralytic venom. He must make a Saving Throw or be paralyzed for 1d4 turns.
Regeneration: 2 hit points per round.
Wall Walker
Web: As per the spell. Can be used once per five rounds.

Shark and Squid
Unlike the fly and spider,  the shark and squid possessed are not masses of torn flesh and hideous parts. With shark and squid animal smoothly melds with man creating a new humanoid form. Although they prefer water each can operate on land. Their regenerative powers will protect them from dehydrating away from the waters.

Shark
Large humanoid form with shark fin, webbed hands and feet, rough hide, black shark eyes, and a mouth full of rows of razor sharp teeth.
+ 4 hit points per level/hit dice.
+3 Armor Class (tough skin.)
Amphibious: The shark possessed is as comfortable in water as it is on land. It can breathe under water and swim at a rate of 180'/60'.
Cold Immunity: Take one half damage, no damage when a Saving Throw is required and successful.
Bite: The powerful bite of the shark possessed does 1d8 damaged. If the attack is successful by five or more points the shark possessed clamps onto and begins to violently shake the victim doing an extra 1d8 that round. Each round after the victim will take an automatic 2d8 per round from bite/shake damage unless he makes a Strength check with a four penalty due to the shark possessed's jaw strength.
Blood Scent: When a creature is bleeding the shark possessed has a chance to sense it. In the water the chance is 50 percent plus 5 percent per level/hit dice with a maximum of 100. The range of this is 100' per level/hit dice. This chance is halved land and the range is 30' per level/hit dice.
Dark Vision: 60'.
Regeneration: 3 hit points per round.

Squid 
Arms and legs become tentacles and four new ones emerge from the torso, the skin is rubbery and slick, and a squid's beak forms beneath black eyes.
+2 hit points per level/hit dice.
+2 Armor Class (rubbery skin.)
Amphibious: The squid possessed is as comfortable in water as on land. It can breathe under water and swim at a rate of 180'/60'.
Cold Immunity: Take one half damage, no damage when a Saving Throw is required and successful.
Dark Vison: 60'.
Ink Spray: Three times per day the squid possessed can release a jet of ink. If on land it can target one creature within 10' with a ranged touch attack (no armor bonus.) If successful the creature must make a Saving Throw or be blinded for 1d6 rounds. If released in the water it gives those within the cloud a -4 to hit penalty in the murky water.
Tentacles and Bite: The squid possessed attacks with four tentacles per round doing 1d3 damage per hit. If two or more hit the same foe in a round the target is automatically entangled and slowly crushed for 1d4 automatic damage per round and is dragged towards the squid possessed's beak for an extra attack (not automatic) doing 1d6 damage. The victim can break free with a strength check with a -1 penalty per tentacle attached. Until he does so he is subject to the automatic crushing damage and the extra beak attack.
Regeneration: 2 hit points per round.

Destroyer Demon
The Destroyer Demon is a rare possessing spirit that is not an animal spirit. It is the manifestation of nature's rage, hate, cruelty, and vengeance thrust into a human shell. The possessed body transforms into a large shaggy white-haired beast with red eyes and large iron teeth. Unlike possessing animal spirits the destroyer yokai will use man-made weapons. They are deadly foes given to murderous rage and debauchery against any living foe they encounter or stalk. The white fur is often stained with gore and offal of victims. While intelligent they often lose themselves to their rage and act as beasts. They usually feast on the corpses of their victims.
+5 hit points per level/hit dice.
+4 Armor Class (unnatural toughness.)
+4 bonus damage to strength and strength checks. The Destroyer is a physically powerful beserk thing filled with a terrible rage. This bonus damage is in additon to any normal strength bonus the character had. It applies to the Destoyer's bite or to weapon damage.
Beserk: The Destroyer gains an extra attack and a +2 bonus to hit in combat.
Bite: The Destroyer can bite with its iron teeth for 1d6 plus strength bonus + bonus damage. It prefers to use man-made weapons especially large weapons such as the naginata or tetsubo.
Cold Immunity
Dark Vison: 60'.
Regeneration: 4 hit points per round.
Track by Scent: The Destroyer has a base chance of 50 percent plus 5 percent per level/hit dice with a maximum of 100. This roll can be modified by weather and other conditions. This is also the percentage that the Destroyer avoids surprise if it is rolled against him.





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

OA Adventures: The Blind Dead

Another quickie using OA with western horror themes, this time a homage to the Blind Dead series of  70's  horror films.


The Blind Dead
Years ago in a small castle town a group of samurai betrayed and murdered their young lord in an attempted coup of the clan. They were defeated and the vengeful clan elders blinded them and cast them into the abandoned mine shafts on the edge of town, sealing them in to starve and die a pififul, honor-less death. A shrine was erected at the sealed entrance to lock in their evil spirits should they attempt revenge on the clan and the town. Time passed and the clan was abolished by the shogunate, the castle torn down, and the town lost its prestige and prosperity.

An earthquake shook the town last night. Many were killed in the collapsing buildings and an old nearly forgotten shrine on edge of town fell down, its holy seal broken, and half buried in a long forgotten pit now cracked open. As the living help to rescue those trapped in the rubble evil awakens below and the blind dead will craw forth and take their revenge on the living!
Art by Po Wen

The Blind Dead
Vengeful Undead
Number Appearing: 23 or as many as the DM wishes.
HD: 3
Hp: 15
AC: 6/13
Attacks: Claw or bite (1d4) or by weapon+1 due to strength
Save: F3/13

The blind dead are undead corpses reanimated for their desire for revenge on all of the living. They will attempt to kill any living thing in their path. They are withered and nearly mummified from their time locked in the tunnels below the town. Each is dressed in the rotting and ragged clothing of a samurai and their eyes are empty pits long ago burned out. They will fight with their clawing hands or biting mouths untill they obtain a weapon, preferably a katana or yari lance.

The blind dead are undead and have all of the normal traits of an undead. They are turned normally and are damaged by holy items or talismans. If they encounter a holy item or talisman they must make a Saving Throw with a 4 penalty or retreat from it. They do not have darkvision but can sense the living breath of creatures within 30' of their position. If a living creature holds his breath he is effectively invisible to the blind dead. If he does not the blind dead cannot be surprised and the living creature cannot hide from it while within the 30' radius. All missile attacks by the blind dead are made at a -4 penalty ontop of any other penalty.

Their state of death has diminished their samurai fighting abilities but it has also given them other advantages gained from crawling around in their charnal pit. They are stealthy and are skilled at skulking in the shadows. They can move silently at a 65 percent chance and can hide in shadow at a 55 percent chance. They are intelligent and will use these abilities to attempt to backstab a victim for x2 damage if they are out numbered. If the blind dead do have the numbers advantage they will likely charge in and attack, only retreating if losing a number of their horde or if repulsed by holy items and talismans.

The blind dead cannot abide the light of day. They must hide from the sun and direct sunlight will burn them for 1d8 hp damage per round. Any activity taken while the sun is up costs them a -4 penalty, even if they are hidden away deep underground.

The blind dead, once dropped to 0 hit points are destroyed. Their greatest advantage is in numbers.
They will emerge from their broken pit, crawling up through the half sunken shrine, and attack any living they discover. This is an opportunity for a survival horror scenario as they will hide among the rubble, picking off survivors until weeded out like roaches. Pick a mine map, drop a busted shrine on it, put it under a decent sized and half wrecked fishing village and viola.

Art by Dennis Darmody


OSR Oriental Adventures: The Headless Samurai

Continuing with both the Oriental and Halloween themes I decided to mix up a bit of East and West based on, of course the Headless Horseman. The Headless Samurai is a vengeful spirit, eternally tortured to search for his head and those who betrayed him in life many many years ago. Tragedy, betrayal, vengeance. All the good stuff.
Art by Kyle Bolton

The Headless Samurai
Vengeful Ghost
HD: 6
Hp: 31
AC: 5/14
Attacks: Flaming katana (1d10+1d6 fire) or flaming yari/lance (1d10+1d6 fire). Two attacks per round.
Save: F6/10

The headless samurai is the vengeful spirit of a disgraced samurai forced to commit seppuku. The samurai's lord betrayed his loyal retainer, framing him for theft of a clan relic, and forcing the ritual suicide so that the lord might take the samurai's wife as a concubine. The samurai's body was not buried with the proper rituals and was thrown into a nameless grave. His head was taken as a trophy by a rival samurai. Soon after the vengeful spirit manifested on the nearby roads on a darlk fiery steed and began to kill any it encountered at night seeking its head and the lord who betrayed it in life. Those decapitated often accompanied the samurai on its midnight rides as flying heads trailing in his fiery horses wake. Locals and travellers avoided the cursed road and nearby forest. The lord grew old and died and the samurai's head was lost to legend over the years. Denied its revenge the headless samurai still haunts the area on many dark nights with its fiery steed and floating, biting heads.

The headless samurai is a physical ghost which manifests on certain nights immediatly after sundown near its hidden grave in the forest. It rides a nightmare which manifests nearby as well. The two begin to ride the roads near the forest and are joined by 1d6+6 flying undead heads of past victims. The samurai cannot abide the light of day and will fade into non-existence 1d6 rounds after sunrise, as do his companions. If dropped to 0 hit points it will fade away only to return on the next night it manifests.

The samurai is undead and has all of the normal traits. It can only be hit with silver, magic, or holy items/weapons. It is immune to fire. It can regenerate 3 hp/round until dropped to 0 hit points and fades away. It has darkvision at a range of 60'.

The samurai can attack twice per round with either its katana or yari, both aflame with the fires of Hell. On a natural roll of 20 the victim must make a Saving Throw or be beheaded in combat. Three times per night it can project hellfire from its weapons or hands in a 60' stream. It is a ranged touched attack (do not count armor on AC) and if the samurai hits it does 3d6 damage the first round, 2d6, the second, and 1d6 the third. The victim may Save for half damage. This is the only attack allowed in the rounds it is used.

Its primary strategy is to charge in with the nightmare and the flying heads to do as much damage as possbile with its yari. It will then dismount and fight the strongest looking foe as the nightmare and heads attack the foes allies. All slain will be decapitated and the heads taken.

Destroying the headless samurai:
The samurai can only be laid to rest by achieving the following conditions. They are a great opportunity to run an investigative game if the DM is so inclined.
  • Find its lost head. It was stolen decades ago although it is known by some older clan retainers which rival samurai stole it from the grave. 
  • Place a name marker over the headless samurai's hidden grave and perform proper burial rituals.
  • The oldest living male descendant of the lord who betrayed him must formally apologize to his spirit at the grave-site. 


The headless samurai is accompanied by a Nightmare as its steed (use stats of system of choice, minus flight and ethereal abilities) and the flying heads of its victims.

Flying Head
Cursed Undead
HD: 2
Hp: 6
AC: 7/12
Attacks: Bite (1d3) and swarm bonuses to hit.
Save: F2/14
Move: As fast as the nightmare.

The heads are the remains of past victims decapitated on the roads and in the forest. 1d6+6 will manifest nightly and fly along to join the samurai on its ride wailing and gibbering. They are pale shriveled things with dark eyes and blood stained teeth. They have all the normal undead qualities including vulnerability to holy items and being turned as zombies. If a head is dropped to 0 or less hit points it explodes into dust. It will reform on the next night it joins the samurai on the hunt.

When attacking a victim they swarm about biting for 1d3 hp damage and wailing in anguish. For each flying head on a single foe the heads get a plus one bonus to hit past the first head with a maximum bonus of +4 (for five plus heads.)







OSR Oriental Adventures: Holy Classes


Here are three religious classes for Oriental themed games. The familiar Sohei and Yamabushi/Shukenja and a not quite fluffed out Priest. I have seen many interpretations of these: OAD&D, Bushido, L5R/d20, and various retro-clones and releases alternate classes in pdf and on blogs, etc.
Here are mine. I wanted something more in line with the historical descriptions of these two types of warrior-monks and warrior-priests with the slightly magical D&Dish influence of the Cleric role. We'll get to the Priest after that.
 And so....

Sohei 
Buddhist warrior-monks, trained temple guardians, more fighter than cleric. They are primarily trained in combat, can use any weapon and wear any armor, and slowly gain a few clerical spells. They are bound to the temple they serve and their masters will send them on various missions to serve the temple's interests. A Sohei must be of Lawful alignment but they can be Good, Neutral, or Evil depending on their temple's alignment and masters they serve. 

The Sohei does have a few basic religious restrictions such as not eating meat (fish is allowed) and moderation of his behavior in gambling and drinking, but it is allowed. Over indulgence is frowned upon. As a soldier of his temple and faith he may use violence and kill his enemy in battle but murder and assassination are forbidden. 

Prime Requ: Wis
Ability Requirements: Str 13, Wis 12
Exp: As Cleric 
HD:  1d6
Save:  As Cleric 
Attack:  As Cleric 
Armor:  Any
Weapons:  Any.
⦁ Spells: As Cleric. Gains first spell at level three. Gains a new spell level at levels 3, 6, 9, 12, etc.
⦁ Unarmed Combat: The Sohei is trained to fight bare-handed as well as armed. At first level the unarmed damage is 1d3, at fifth level it rises to 1d4, and at twelfth level it rises to 1d6.
⦁ AC Bonus: The Sohei is trained to protect himself when unarmored. When he has no armor bonus from equipment he adds a +1 to AC at level one, +2 at level five, and +3 at level twelve.
⦁ Favored Weapon: The Sohei may choose any one weapon type such as Naginata (pole-arm) and receive a +1 to hit with that weapon type as well as increase the weapon's damage by one dice step. 
⦁ Religious Fervor: Once per day per two levels (round up) the Sohei can call upon his fanatic zeal and dedication to his duty to increase his damage in battle. The attack is at a -2 to the attack roll but does  x2 damage if successful, x3 if a natural 20 is rolled.

Yamabushi/Shukenja
A wandering warrior-priest devoted to the service of others he is a practitioner of the religion of Shugendo, they are also known as Shukenja. 

 Yamabushi must always be of Lawful (Good) alignment. They are mountain mystics studying religion, mystical texts, and the arts of war. They are similar to Sohei but are less combat orientated and are free to wander as they please, often performing ceremonies such as marriages and funerals for the often isolated mountain folk. The Yamabushi are mostly solitary but will form alliances with Buddhist or Shinto temples to serve the people. They would also participate in defending a temple or in major battles with Sohei and Samurai.

The Yamabushi has a number of religious restrictions: he cannot eat meat, he must show moderation in eating and drinking, he must refrain from violence when possible, and must not kill outside of war or in defense. They sever all connections to family and social status when becoming a Yamabushi and  is expected to donate excess wealth to charity and live a life of poverty. 

Prime Requ: Wis
Ability Requirements: Str 12, Wis 13
Exp: As Cleric 
HD:  1d6
Save:  As Cleric 
Attack:  As Cleric 
Armor:  Any
Weapons:  Any.
⦁ Spells: As Cleric. Gains first spell at level two. Gains a new spell level at even levels thereafter. 
⦁ Turn Undead: As Cleric.
⦁ Favored Weapon: The Yamabushi may choose any one weapon type such as Naginata (polearm) and receive a +1 to hit with that weapon type as well as increase the weapon's damage by one dice step. 
⦁ Create Talisman: Creates a temporary holy item in the form of writings and drawings on paper. The Yamabushi can create one talisman per day per level. The item's power lasts for a number of days equal to the Yamabushi's level. 
⦁ Spirit Strike: The Yamabushi as the ability to strike undead, spirits, and creatures that require silver or a magic weapon to hit. This ability does not add a bonus to hit or damage but only confers the ability to hit and damage the foe with an otherwise ordinary weapon. At level one he can hit foes requiring silver to hit. At level four +1 weapons. At level eight +2. At level twelve +3. IF your game goes beyond these levels : At level sixteen +4. At level twenty +5.

And then we get to the Priest. 
I'm stuck at the  moment. I confess I do not enjoy religion in gaming. In my normal Old School D&D I tend to hand wave deities for clerics. The players probably know more about the evil humanoid gods than their own. I'm just not into that. So....... I need to do a bit more research on Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism etc to round out this class with restrictions, etc. I really don't need to but if I'm going to to this class I feel I have too even if it's just a few fluff paragraphs. 

For now: here's a generic priestly class orientated towards ceremonies and little bloodshed.
Add in restrictions such as vegetarian, cannot kill, no wealth, etc for now. 

Priest
Ability Requirements: Wis 13
Exp: As Cleric 
HD:  1d4
Save:  As Cleric 
Attack:  As Magic User
Armor:  None
Weapons:  Bo, jo, sling, and any other blunt weapon which will not likely spill blood or kill. 
⦁ Spells: As many per day as a Magic User but uses the Cleric Spell List.
⦁ Rituals: The Priest can cast spells via rituals and can attempt to cast spells of a higher level. The Priest may add his level to the casting roll. 
⦁ Turn Undead/Spirits: As a Cleric. 
⦁ Create Talisman: Creates a temporary holy item in the form of writings and drawings on paper. The Priest can create one talisman per day per level. The item's power lasts for a number of days equal to the Priest's level. 
⦁ Languages: The Priest is educated in many languages and writing, often being utilized by the local lords as a translator or scribe when necessary. He begins with an bonus language at first level and gains another at levels 4, 8, and 12.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Onryō: The Grudge Spirit OSR/Halloween


Onryo 
Grudge Spirit, Vengeful Ghost
HD: 6
Hp: 33
AC: 5/14 (only hit by holy,
Attacks: Rip and tear (1d8)
Save: F6/10
https://tamiart.deviantart.com/art/Onryo-265228404

The Onryo is the ghost of a person who has died a tragic death full of powerful passions: jealousy, rage, hatred. Their souls are unable to rest and return from the shadows seeking revenge on the living. Its pitiful state causes the ghost to vent its fury on any that come across it. It makes no distinctions on who it destroys; all living men, women, and children are its victims and subject to its unholy wrath. The Onryo may also toy with it victim, savoring the fear, confusion, and anguish until it finally snuffs out their life. It is an engine of wrath, not mindless, but ruled by its evil passions, an absolute inhuman thing with no trace of humanity within its tortured form.

The Onryo will attach itself to a location or an object associated with its death. This place or thing will become shunned by those nearby and gain a reputation as being evil. Objects haunted by the ghost will usually be abandoned or locked away.

The Onryo is a ghost with a physical form; not its original body but a pale dead imitation given to existence by its suffering and wrath. It lives in the realm of shadows and can enter our world through any dark shadow. It cannot abide the light of day. It appears as a pale corpse with black eyes full of madness and hate, and wearing either a white death shroud or ragged clothing like its corpse wore in death. Violent wounds or trauma inflicted before death will be evident. The Onryo is silent except for groans or death rattles. It's body may be contorted and move in strange ways. It can Spider-climb as per the spell.

It has all the qualities of an undead creature. In combat it rips and tears at its victims with its undead strength, often tearing them to pieces. Its form is not subject to the laws of the physical world and it can only be harned by holy items and magic, ignoring all other damage. It can be turned and damaged with holy items as any other undead, although it cannot be destroyed by either.

Shadow Walk
The Onryo enters our world and moves freely through the shadows. Any shadow large enough for the ghost to crawl through will serve. It has the ability to sense any useable shadow in the presence of its victim and will often attack from the closest shadow (such as appearing in the darkenss of her victims bed covers... see the Grudge.) To move through a shadow is a free action, the Onryo simply enters into it and instantly emerge from a shadow near the victim, a shadow in its lair, or any other shadow at a location it knows. It can also choose to stay in the shadow realm between worlds.

DM's may include a variation on this. For example in the Ring the vengeful ghost psychic Sadako  uses her abilities to curse a video tape and can emerge from a television to kill a victim unless a ritual (in this case making a copy and having someone else watch the tape) is performed by a victim to avoid their fate. In a fantasy setting a mirror could be cursed and the ghost could emerge from it to kill. Mix it up.

The Grudge-Curse
The curse surrounding an Onryo is incredibly powerful. Those who visit the place haunted by or handle an object tied to the Onryo may become infected with the curse unless they make a successful Saving Throw. The curse is potent enought that a penaty equal to the Oryo's hit dice is applied to the Saving Throw. Those afflicted must suffer as the grudge-curse attaches itself and blackens their lives, perhaps even catching the attention of the Onryo itself. Those who actually witness the of the Onryo itself and survives are subject to attacks by the Onryo. Once seen it will hound the victim nightly.

The true isidiousness of the grudge-curse will become apparent as the influence of the curse may seep out beyond the initial victim, infecting loved ones, friends, and confidants close to the victim. If a cursed victim speaks of the affliction, discusses the Onryo's haunted place/object, or describes the sight of the Onryo itself they may extend the curse to the person they are confiding in. The listener must make a Saving Throw (no penalty) or become cursed as well.

The only way to end the curse is to lay the Onryo to rest and exorcise the haunted site/object with a
Remove Curse spell. Both conditions must be met. Even if the Onryo is destroyed the site/object will continue to be a source of the grudge-curse. Roll on the chart below, re-roll all 1's if the Onryo has been destroyed.

The Grudge-Curse
1. Attacked by the Onryo
This will continue nightly until the curse is lifted or the victim is killed. In rare cases, at the DM's discretion, those killed may return as an Onryo themselves.

2. Sickness
Each night the victim must make a Saving Throw with a penalty equal to the Onryo's hit dice. Each fail costs the victim one point of Constitution and Charisma as the victim withers and sickens with disease and decay. No natural or magical healng can bring this back until the curse is lifted.

3. Despair
You are consumed with severe depression. Every day is a struggle to care enough to get yourself together and face the world. All actions are at a -2/10 percent. If you are prescribed medication this drops to a -1. Any roll of the dice at maximum failure ( 1 on a 20, etc) will increase the penalty to -4-/20 percent  until a good nights rest is taken.

4. Haunted
The victim feels a heavy weight on his shoulders and catches glimpses of the ghost out of the corners of his vision, and a feeling of someone always watching. Sleeping difficult and all actions are at a -2/10 percent penalty even with rest. Recovering spells is difficult with the sleep issues. On a roll of 1-2 on a 1d6 the victim did not rest sufficiently that evening to recover spells.

5. Madness
Possibilities include:

Addict
You self medicate yourself in order to deal with daily existence. To get through the day you must have at least a bottle of drink or a hit of drugs to keep yourself going. If you do not have your daily fix all actions are at -2/10 percent. When you do have your 'medication' you are only at a -1 penalty.

Compulsion
You must do certain things each day. Compulsions can include such things as having to wash your hands, check your weapons, etc. The DM can call for these randomly (at least one per play  session) and you must make a Saving Throw to avoid doing your little ritual. If you must do it immediately or take a -2/10 percent penalty to actions until the ritual is completed. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are so distracted by your compulsion you take a -4-/20 percent  to actions until the ritual is fulfilled.

Kleptomania falls under compulsion but works differently. If you fail your Saving Throw you must acquire the object of your desire. You will be at a -2 to actions until you steal it. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you must have it NOW and will take it despite any consequences.

Particularly dark DM's can come up with more sinister compulsions such as cannibalism or necrophilia. Such particularly debilitating compulsions may call for a weekly roll instead of a daily roll given the severe social and legal consequences associated with such behavior.

Dark Personality
When under stress you must make a Saving Throw or a darker piece of your psyche emerges. You are more aggressive and every time you are irritated or challenged you must make a Saving Throw or  become violent towards the object of your irritation. This lasts for 2d6+4 rounds. Once it ends you come to your senses, even if still in a fight. You will not manifest this again for 1d6 hours. You gain a +1 bonus to melee/unarmed damage while in this state.

Delusional
You believe things that are odd and, frankly, not real. Hallucinations are not uncommon. The DM will describe these things as if they are fact to your character. If challenged to the reality of what you believe you must make a Saving Throw. If you fail you refuse to believe what you are told and cling to your reality. If you fail by 5 or more you will be become irrational and refuse to listen. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you will become physically violent for 2d6+4 rounds.

Maniac
Your madness builds into a murderous rage. If provoked or if you become angry you must make a Saving Throw (Paralysis) or fly into a rage and attack the source of your anger. This rage will last for 1d6 rounds.

If you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you will fly into a murderous maniacal rage with a +2 bonus to melee/unarmed damage until the target is dead or you are restrained.

Mutilator
You cut, beat, or burn yourself. When you are stressed you must make a Saving Throw or be overwhelmed. To calm yourself you damage yourself doing superficial damage. However if you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you go overboard and do 1d3 points of damage. Those that see you do this will probably be very upset by it. Especially strangers.

Phobia
You have an irrational fear of an object or situation. The DM will choose an appropriate one. When faced with the source of your fear you must make a Saving Throw. If you fail you take a -2/10 percent penalty to actions while in the presence of the fear. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are paralyzed, unable to act until the source of fear is removed.

Quirk
You have personality quirks. Severe ones. It can get so bad people become agitated by your presence. You may be paranoid, talk to yourself, wildly laugh inappropriately, constantly fidget, eat odd substances, mimic those around you, or other socially inappropriate behaviors. You may be afflicted with tics, stutters, strange gesturing, tremors, etc. You receive a -2 to Charisma for your quirk. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail your particular quirk is particularly bad today increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day.

Voices
You hear voices telling you things, arguing with you, taunting, or just giving bad advice. You suffer a -2 to Charisma. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail they are exceptionally loud and annoying today and you can't help but talk back to them, increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are constantly distracted by them and take a -2/10 percent penalty to actions.

6. Pariah
The victim is a vortex of bad luck and ill fortune. A darkness of the soul lingers on him.
Any dice roll (players or DM) within 30' of the victim is at a -2/10 percent penalty. Others can sense the darkness around him and his Charisma is at a -4 penalty.

Destroying the Onryo
This is left up to the DM to individualize his Onryo. Some may require that who ever wronged the is punished, others may require their bones be found and given a proper burial. Investigation, mundane and magical, into the nature of the grudge-curse can lead to an interesting game with PC's racing against the clock to stop their afflictions and save their loved ones.