Thursday, November 24, 2016

Current Projects Update. Creature Features: LOVECRAFT

One of a few current projects:

Creature Features: LOVECRAFT
Exploring and playing the roles of the bad guys (or in this case critters) in all of their entertaining and cathartic glory.
In this case: Ghouls, Deep Ones, Serpentmen, Cats, and perhaps a few other Lovecraftian race classes I have set up here at the blog. More coming soon.

The Setup:
The PC's are Mythos creatures, champions of the lesser servant races, whom are summoned by their elders to oppose a Cult which is about to complete a ritual to raise their god, an obscure and little known Old One, and end the world in blood and fire.

As horrid as their existence is, it is still existence, and the servant races do not desire the end of the world...yet. They are sure as Hell not about to let some obscure little human cult raise their relatively unknown God to end the world and leave the servant races' Gods out of the picture. If anything is going to end the world they plan on it being Cthulhu, Hastur, and a few other choice beings of worship.

The human cult, so obscure they don't even have an official cult name, is composed of a number of degenerate hillbilly inbred cannibals led by a more socially polished but no less dangerous priesthood. Finding the grimoire of a mad ancestor of one the cult's leaders they have discovered in his mad ravings a possible way to raise their personal Alien God from its prison in the earth. If they achieve this it will mean the end of the earth as the entity will spread fire and death in its wake. All life will be destroyed as the planet is ravaged to ash and slime and the world is then broken apart to drift into space. Or some wacko thing like that. The mad ravings weren't too clear on that part.

Fortunately for humanity, although they do not realize it, help is on the way. The cult's priests have consulted with a wise old Ghoul about retrieving the necessary objects to raise the obsure God. Alarmed, the Ghoul had no choice but to give them the information and then made haste to the fetid warrens of his kin and told them of the plans of the cult. Believing that the cult might actually pull it off the Ghouls quickly sent emissaries to other servant races and a meeting was set, with the elders and champions of each race attending. It was quickly decided that the cult must be stopped and stopped quickly before they actually pulled off their crazy scheme and destroyed the world, messing up the servant races Gods plans for their own Armageddons.

Given the location of the cult's ranch and the locations of the necessary ritual objects from the wise old Ghoul, the PC's are tasked with stopping the ritual and ultimately destroying the cultists.

Caveman Vs the Fire Apes! Part Three Into the Fire!

The Hills
The swamp peters out and turns into miles of grassy hills. Dotted with the occasional 'sinkhole.'
There are also piles of bleached bones lying here and there among the hills. The holes and bones have a sickly sweet odor about them.

About halfway through the hills the Cavemen will run into a few Giant Ant scouts from the massive colony below the hills.

Each ant is dug into shallow pit just below the grassy turf. The pits are spread out at the top of the hills. When the Cavemen approacheth within ten feet of a pit an ant will pop halfway out of the pit with a 1-4 on a d6 chance of surprise. The sickly sweet odor of the ant or the waving of grass might give the pit away.

If surprised a helpless Cavedope is dragged into the ten foot deep pit for personal time with the ant in question.
If not surprised the ant leaps out of the pit to engage the party.

Once they are aware of the danger their surprise drops to the normal odds. Once they make it through the picket of ant pits they can see the ashy sky and smell the burning lava of the Firelands.

Giant Ant scout
HD: 3
Hp:  18
AC: 3[16]
Attacks: +3 to hit,  Bite (1d6+ poison)
Saving Throw: 14
Move: 180/60
Alignment: Neutral
Special: poison (2d6 or 1d4 with a Saving throw).

The Firelands are rocky ash covered hills with open lava pits and flows. Ruins of a pre-human civilization dot the landscape, blasted from existence eons ago by an ancient volcano. Very few animals live in this waste, mostly insects and lizards, which prompt the Fire Ape tribes to range north to more fertile lands for meat and captives.

The Apemen that stole the tribe's women live in cave temple of the ancients.
Their tracks to and from the cave has worn  a clear path to follow.
The number of Apemen in the caves and their locations and movements are up to the GM.

The chambers and tunnels are not natural, being rough-hewn but level by a pre-human/ape Serpentman civilization with far more advanced technology. The floors are littered with centuries of rubble: bones, stones, broken petrified wood, etc from centuries of use by the Fire Apes. The treacherous footing calls for use of the Combat Chaos rules:

During combat when a character or creature rolls a natural one on the d20 roll, roll a 1d6 and consult the following chart.
1. Trip and fall: stunned (-2 hit.-2 AC) one round.
2. Twist ankle. Half movement for 1d4 days.
3. Step on sharp object: 1 pont damage, half movemenet for 1d3 rounds.
4. Wrench shoulder: arm useless for 1d4 days.
5. Hit self: damage yourself.
6. Crack head: stunned (-2 hit.-2 AC) for 1d6 rounds.

Scattered throughout the complex is a number of small glowing stones the size of a small hen's egg in a variety of colors. They give a weak light source of 10' diameter.

1 The ledge and cistern: 
The ledge leading up to the cave opening is of black volcanic rock and ash. It is roughly ten feet wide. A pool of lava lays fifty feet below the ledge dropoff.  A large stone cistern, filled with brackish but drinkable water sits near the opening to the tunnel. A crude wooden and hide cover keeps the majority and ash out of the water.

None have dared to attack their lair before and the arrogant Apemen do not keep a guard out here.

Lava damage
Fall into a pit: death
Lava flow: 2d6 per round while exposed.

2  Entry tunnel: 
A cube shape roughly fifteen feet wide and forty feet long. The tunnel is dim save for the dim light from outside the caves and the orange glow from the heart chamber.

3 Heart chamber:
The central chamber of the cave complex. It is roughly one hundred by seventy feet. The flat, smooth ceilng rises thirty feet into the air. A large lava pit drops twenty feet in the center of the chamber. Five more tunnels branch off and four ancient carved columns stand in the cave corners. The floor is worn down and the walls are faded mosaics and carvings of serpentmen and strange beasts. Strange glyphs which the Cavemen have no idea are run around the chamber.

A surprise lurks on the ceiling. A giant spider the size of a pony lairs here, fed by the Apemen from their raids, and acts as a guard. It lurks on the ceiling and will attempt to drop on and surprise the Cavemen after they enter.

Giant Spider 
HD: 2+2
Hp: 12
AC: 6[13]
Attack: +3 to hit, 1 bite (1d6 + poison);
Saving Throw: 16
Move: 180/60
Alignment: Neutral
Special: lethal poison (Save or die), 1-4 in 6 chance to surprise prey.

4 Sword chamber:
A narrow unlit tunnel leads to a thirty-five by thirty feet chamber with a flat ceiling rising thirty feet. The room is dominated by a three tier platform of glossy green stone rising fifteen feet into the air. Atop the platform is a two-handed sword, stuck point first. It is a +1 sword, shiny and as strong as the day it was forged.

Any Caveman pulling the sword sets off an ancient blade trap.
Gears grind and long closed slots open across the platform and walls. Ribbon blades whip out of the slots filling the room. The ancient trap winds down after three rounds of edged chaos. Each round a Caveman remains he must make a Saving throw or take 2d6 damage. Once the trap has unwound it is inert. The room is now an obstacle course of dead blades causing movement to be halved in the room.

5 Guardian's den:
A small tunnel leads to a squalid den. The smell is palpable halfway to the lair.
Feces, bones, and God knows what else encrust this chamber. Chained to the wall are a dozen baboons which are used as dogs by the Fire Apes. If the Cavemen are discovered the set loose upon them in a wild melee rush.

HD: 1
Hp: 6
AC: 7 [12]
Attack: +1 to hit,  Bite ( 1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Neutral

6 Apeman den:
Slightly less squalid than the Baboon den is this room. The lair itself is a large chamber filled with dirty furs, bones, feathers, shrunken heads, and other trinkets in piles all across the room or hanging from cracks and carved frescoes on the walls. Ancient wooden bed frames, smashed and petrified with age, lay in the corners. A small fire in the center of the room is the only illumination.

A large crystal pylon (marked with a C on the map) stands in a corner of the den, a four sided pyramid.
It is an ancient teleport device. One can step through the flat side facing out and emerge from an identical pylon in Area 10. The teleport works both ways. If a heavy object such as a petrified table or large boulder is placed in front of it the teleport does not work. Only one creature at a time can enter the pylons. The Apemen do not like using the pylon due to their primitive superstition but will do so if they know there are invaders in the caves. It will most likely be used as a flanking device.

During the day a few Apemen children and women are here. During the evening the room is filled with males, females, and children piled into sleeping heaps.

HD: 2
Hp: 10
AC: 7 [12]
Attack: +2 to hit,  Unarmed ( 1d4) or Weapon (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Chaos

7 Pyramid chamber:
A large 20' four sided pyramid of black stone. Atop the pyramid is a giantic petrified lizard head with two glowing red eyes. The glow comes from two special glow gems. When touched by a living thing that has lost hit points they automatically heal 1d6 hp and the stone goes dark, never to be used again.

8 Secret room:
Ancient petrified chests, locks and hinges long rusted away. Inside are piles of gold and silver coins. The Cavedweebs have no idea what these thing are, other than possibly shiny amusements to trade for other items. Two more of the red healing stones are here, in a cracking lizard skin pouch.

A large four feet tall stone jar stands in the center of the room. The lid can be pried off. To do so breaks the ancient spell keeping its prisoner locked away. A Spawn of Tsathoggua springs out with a roll of 1-4 chance on a 1d6 to surprise the Cavefodder. It is super pissed and ready to take out its frustrations.

Spawn of Tsathoggua
HD: 5
Hp: 33
AC:4 [15]
Attacks: +8 to hit,  Two unarmed attacks ( 1d8)
Saving Throw: 13
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Chaos

The Spawn is a tarry ooze which can move up walls, along ceilings, or through the smallest cracks. It is immune to normal weapons, only magical weapons, spells, or fire damages the thing. It attacks up to three times per round with whipping tentacle doing 1d6 damage per hit.  It can also choose to make only one attack per round, engulfing a victim in its body. It can ony do this to one man-sized victim at a time. The victim must make a Saving Throw (Dragon Breath) or be fully engulfed and take 1d6 damage per round as he is digested. If he made the Saving throw the victim is only partially engulfed and can fight back. Any attacks on the Spawn when it has fully engulfed a victim does half to the victim inside and none to the Spawn unless it is vulnerable to the attack. If the Spawn is killed before the victim is digested, the victim survives.

9 Pillar room:
The skeleton of a giant Ape, at least ten feet tall, slumps chained between two pillars. It is long dead. Shreds of mummified flesh and teeth marks cover the bony frame. Light from the Cavemen's torches or glowstones cause shadows to move on the skeleton, giving the illusion that it is moving.

10 Lava bridges
The room is a large chamber. In the center is a series of lava pits. The room is guarded with Apemen and Baboons. To get past the Cavies must defeat them.

A crystal pylon pyramid teleporter stands in on corner linked to Area 6.

11 Tunnel
Roughly ten feet wide. The tunnel is dimly lit in orange from the lava pits on each end.

12 Lava pits/Throne room:
A massive room with numerous lava pits cut into the floor.
One of the step stones over a pit is trapped. When stepped on it flips throwing whoever stepped on it. Save or die.
Another small tunnel leads from the chamber.

Over one of the pits a group of Apemen have stretched logs and are roasting what looks like a small gaggle of Cavehobbits caught earlier for supper. They do not take kindly to the interruption.

In the far end of the chamber, past the myriad pits, sits a massive onyx throne and on the throne is the Fire God of the Apemen.

A half a dozen frightened Cavewomen are chained to the wall behind the throne. Fresh and old blackened and chewed Cavewomen bones lie in heaps around the throne.

The Fire God is an alien creature which fell to earth eons ago; a Rock Ape. It is gigantic, covered in rocky hide and has evil glowing red eyes. It is cruel and prefers to eat the meat of Cavewomen and the occasional Cavebaby. It spends much of its time bathing in the lava or sitting on the massive onyx throne.

The Rock Ape, Fire God of the Apemen
HD: 8
Hp: 43
AC:4 [15]
Attacks: +8 to hit,  Two unarmed attacks ( 1d8)
Saving Throw: 10
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Chaos
Special: Heat immunity, heat from lava.

The Rock Ape is immune to the heat of the lava and can swim through it.
When the Rock Ape emerges from the lava it gains an extra +1d4 to damage from being glowing hot. This lasts for 1d6+6 rounds. It can be renewed if the Rock Ape dives into the lava and reemerges.

13 The Lair of Gorchutk
A hidden room, a former holy shrine to the Serpentmen, converted into a swinging Apemen bachelor pad by the massive Apeman warleader and second in command to the Fire God. The room is dominated by a massive fur and straw pallet, massive humanoid and dinosaur skull furniture, and several glowstones for illumination. Gorchutk has a fetish for Cavehobbit women and two of the feral shorties live here with him. He retains the secret door to the room as a means of privacy. His men can get his attention by banging on the hidden stone door, they all know its here

If aroused from his party time (such as by a massive brawl with the Apemen and Fire God in Area 12) Gorchutk will attack savagely with a metal battleaxe he found at the former shirine. His Cavehobbit lovebunnies will attack as well.

Gorchutk, Apeman Warlord 
HD: 4
Hp: 20
AC: 7 [12]
Attack: +4 to hit,  Unarmed ( 1d4+2) or Battleaxe (1d8+2)
Saving Throw: 14
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Chaos

Feral Cavehobbit Loveslaves
HD: 1+1
Hp: 6
AC: 7 [12]
Attack: +1 to hit,  Scratch and bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Move: 120/40
Alignment: Chaos

The female Cavehobbits have been together a long time. If they attack the same target they get a +1 bonus to attack.

14 Tunnel of Death
This long twisting tunnel is one giant death trap. When the Cavemeats reach the end the trap is sprung. A stone door drops down over the entrance and a pulse of energy surges through the tunnel, the last gasp of antediluvian Serpentman war technology, the Madness Ray. Everyone caught in the tunnel must make a Saving throw (death ray) or be struck with a berserk rage and attack everyone else in the tunnel.

While berserking the Caveberserks receive a +2 bonus to attacks and damage rolls. The effect lasts for 2d6+6 rounds then they return to normal.

The door at the end of the tunnel can be opened by finding the hidden switch, a 1 in 8 chance per round.

Survive. Get the women. Gain a few items. Go home as big heroes.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Caveman Vs the Fire Apes! Part Two: the Journey Begins!

Assaulting expendables with traps and beasts. Mangling the unwary, quelling the DM blood-thirst which rises....

If you maul and murder too many of the Cavemen you can have mercy (let your players sweat it, don't tell them you actually have mercy and a backup plan) and boost some numbers before the final crawl into the fire caves.

The Fire Apes have ranged far and wide ravaging othe tribes as well. If they need a few extras to boost the numbers its entirely OK to have a few members of one of these tribes encounter the player Cavemen and join up to head into the finale.

It's also pretty railroady but this kind of thing is really just an excuse to sit back, throw dice, and try not to die last. Character development is not a high priority. It's not meant for long-term character driven play. It's a lot like a horror or survival movie. Its meant for one or two shot amusement and a big part of that amusement is trying to stay alive to the last scene.

This is just a bare-bones frame: PLEASE liven it up a bit or your own players. Random encounters (God knows there's enough charts out there), travelers, natural disaster, Gonzo, whatever trips your player's trigger. Go for it.

So let's get to it:
First a crappy homemade map!
The Cavemen's home cave is in the north hills. The Fire Apes raid from the Fire Lands, beyond the southern edge of the map.

Home Caves
The Cavemen live in a nice hilly region with plenty of game and vegetation to forage. There are a number of caves to protect them from the weather and life is good.

The Fire Ape raid caught them totally by surprise. The apemen had never journeyed this far north before.
Their tracks lead south, towards the river.

The Journey
I'm going with a series of set encounters for this. Add as needed.

An important consideration for the party will be rest, food, etc. A night in a wet swamp surrounded by snakes and eaten alive by mosquitoes is not good rest. Penalize actions and no healing til they do get a proper camp.

A Caveman's life away from the cave is tough. At least game is plentiful until they get to the Fire Lands.

The River
An hour's travel from the cave.
Nearly a hundred feet wide. It is heavy with fish and almost 30' deep at the center.
Crocodiles and snakes occasionally hunt this bend of the river.

If the Cavemen choose to swim, as opposed to say floating on a log, they will have to make a Strength check to avoid being pulled under by the current. IF they are pulled under they must make  Saving Throw to reach the surface or begin drowning as per your rules of choice.

If you need to throw in some excitement throw a crocodile at them as they reach the other side of the river.
If they've annoyed you throw three or four at them.

The forest is a half days journey wide.
It is lush and thick with trees, bushes, and furry animals of all sorts.
Perfect or a roaming pack of  remnant Raptor dinosaurs out to get some Cave meat.
Sweet sweet Cave meat.

One per player should be plenty to rip up a few Cavemen and scare the crap outta the rest.

You've seen Jurassic Park, you know what they look like.
OH, btw, This is their home territory and they are fantastic hunters: they gain surprise on a 1-3 on a 1d6.
HD: 3
Hp: 15
AC: 5 [14]
Attack: +3 to hit,  two claws ( 1d6) or one bite (1d8)
Saving Throw: 15
Move: 150/50
Alignment: Neutral

Dead Raptors have fantastic hide for armor (+3), and their claws make excellent daggers (1d4). Plus they taste great.

The swamp will be another half day's journey, possibly longer with the hazards and treacherous footing.
Miles of crocodile and snake infested stagnant water, trees, and the occasional island poking from the muck. An ancient pillar or pile of cut stones pokes from the waters or lies scattered on the islands in various areas in the heart of the swamp.

A dying race of amphibious frog-men. They lair in the stone rubble on the islands at the center of the swamp in dank, pools lying beneath the toppled walls and columns. They have no treasure, only bones and other natural trinkets, and the females stay here, protecting the few viable eggs which are laid in the pool. They do not venture outside of the swamp and were heavily decimated by the ravaging Fire Apes, though they managed to kill a few.

When the Cavemen wade through the muck approaching the domain of the Swampies they will see three dead apemen strung up on crude crossed poles.

In addition to the hazards of the swamp the Swampies have also heavily trapped the area leading to their domain.
Every turn the Cavemen must roll a 1d6. On a 1 or 2 they have encountered a trap or hazard. The trap or hazard can be avoided with a successful Saving Throw.

If they fail the Save the trap goes off or they blunder into the hazard.
If it is a trap or if they make a lot of noise blundering into the hazard they alert the Swampies who will arrive in 2d6 rounds.

Possible traps and hazards:
Snare: the Caveman's foot is caught in a vine snare, jerking him into the air 20' where he takes 1d3 damage and dangles helplessly until he saws through the rope (a Dexterity check with a -2 penalty) or a companion climbs up the tree and cuts him down (at 0 penalty.) The time to cut down is 1d4 rounds (add 2 to this if the Caveman is cutting himself down.)
Spear trap: a massive log spear flies out of the dense swamp and hits a Caveman for 2d6 damage. It is large and awkward and his movement will be 1/2 until someone makes a Strength check and pulls it ot of him.
Spiked log: a log swings out of the trees and slams into the Caveman, doing 2d8 damage and sending him flying 20' back down the trail, possibly causing his companions to make Saving Throws to avoid being hit by their flying kin. Anyone hit by the Caveprojectile takes 1d4 damage.
Quicksand: Save or get sucked down. Your friends have 1d6 rounds to make three successful Dexterity checks at -4 each (one Caveman or several cooperating, as long as they hit three successful checks) get you out or you die! If any of the rescuers rolls a natural 20 they fall in and suffer the consequences.
Poisonous snake: attacks the Caveman. +1 to hit, AC 10, 3 hit points. If hit, Save or die horribly in 2d6 rounds!
Green Slime: A pool of floating green slime on the water. It attacks any Caveman who blunders into it. Good luck Cavedude!

Bipedal naked frog guys. A sad dying race who are pissed off at the world. Throw quite a few at the Caveman. It'll make them feel good to kick someone else's ass for a bit. Especially if they took some hits from the traps and swamp hazards.
HD: 1
Hp: 5
AC: 8 [11]
Attack: +1 to hit,  spears (1d6)
Saving Throw:  17
Move:  90/30 on land, 120/40 in water
Alignment: Neutral
The Swampies have an irrational fear of fire. If even one torch is lit the Swampies will have a -2 to attack.

The Giant Snake and the Stirges
Two natural predators in the swamp. They stay away from the Swampies island for the most part as they have learned the Swampies spears and traps hurt!

When you need something to spice up the final bit through the swamp, throw one or both at them.
The giant snake would be a fantastic night enconter. They have to eat and sleep sometime.
Eat a couple.

The stirges would make  good 'race to the edge of the swamp' encounter. The very last kick in the furry pants. Wearing them down for the finale to come.  Fire is your friend.

Statted in almost every edition and clone. Look them up.

Next Time:
The Hills of the Ants and the Cave of the Fire Apes!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Caveman Vs the Fire Apes! A Classic/OSR Funnel Thingee...

I love the idea of a funnel: low level characters run en masse, sent into a bloodbath to see who survives. They are great for one-shots when not all players can make it, you need a break as DM, or you just want to murder large amounts of characters for fun and amusement.
I've run a few and this one is the latest.

To start we'll need some cavemen.....

Each player has four Cavemen
HD: 2d8 hit points each.
Base to hit: + 2/as Fighter plus the usual stat bonuses.
Save: 13/as Fighter

Rolling Ability scores:
Strength: 5d6 (take best three)
Dexterity: 4d6 (take best three)
Constitution: 5d6 (take best three)
Intelligence: 4d6 (take worst three)
Wisdom: 4d6 (take worst three)
Charisma: 3d6

Special Abilities:
+1 Ac due to gristle and inherit toughness.
+4 to Str checks for climbing if a roll is deemed necessary.

Made of stone, wood, and bone and vulnerable to breakage. When each weapon rolls maximum on it's damage dice it has a 1-2 on a 1d6 of being damaged. If it is damaged the damage dice drops by one dice. When it goes below 1d4 damage dice it is useless as a weapon.

Axe 1d6
Club 1d4
Dagger 1d4
Two-handed Club 1d6
Rock 1d4
Two-handed Rock 1d6
Spear 1d6

Leather and hide: +2 to Ac
Leather and hide shield: +1 to Ac. Only allowed if a player thinks to ask about them. Don't offer it up.

The tribal shaman has whipped up a batch of healing paste. Each Caveman gets one dose. When taken it heals 1d4 Hp.

Allow them to have grass rope, fire-bow and kit for making fires, water skins, etc.

(Yes it's a fumble chart....)
Caveman combat is violent and dirty with very little style compared to more modern warriors. The push, shove, jump, bash, and roll around a lot. They also tend to fight in dirty, natural places filled with rocks, loose dirt, downed trees, tangling bushes, etc.

During combat when a character or creature rolls a natural one on the d20 roll, roll a 1d6 and consult the following chart.
1. Trip and fall: stunned (-2 hit.-2 AC) one round.
2. Twist ankle. Half movement for 1d4 days.
3. Step on sharp object: 1 point damage, half movement for 1d3 rounds.
4. Wrench shoulder: arm useless for 1d4 days.
5. Hit self: damage yourself.
6. Crack head: stunned (-2 hit.-2 AC) for 1d6 rounds.

The women of the PC's tribe have been kidnapped!
Apemen of the fire-lands have raided and killed many while the Pc's were off hunting. They are tasked by the tribal shaman to retrieve them.

Actual encounters, stats, and maps next time!