July X-Mas and Rongykorongs

Before we get to our new monster, please take note of X-mas in July at Spes Magna Games. Clicking the link in the previous sentence reveals the possible presents under the X-mas tree. And now for that new monster.

Rongykorongs cross into the Material World from planes of chaos and madness, realms that exist beyond the Pale, the bizarre barrier that squirms at the limits of the known universes. Rolling, thrashing masses of ropy tentacles roughly the size of a man, rongykorongs have bodies composed of nonterrene materials that almost certainly defy analysis by senses limited to a mere handful of dimensions. Thus, rongykorongs suffer minimum damage from all nonmagical effects. They are immune to cold and poison. Always hungry, rongykorongs attack with a strong bite and up to five flailing tentacles covered with writhing barbs. The barbs exude a powerful paralytic toxin that lasts for 2d6 minutes with a failed saving throw. While paralyzed, the victim experiences horrifying visions of the rongykorong’s native environs. A rongykorong’s senses of hearing, sight, and smell ignore mundane barriers.

Rongykorong
Hit Dice: 3+1
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Attacks: Bite (1d6), 1d6-1 tentacles (1d3 + paralysis)
Saving Throw: 14
Special: 50% magic resistance, nonterrene composition, paralysis
Move: 18
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

July 23rd, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

A Not-Haunted House

In theory, this Sunday I’m hosting a dinner and gaming night at my house featuring hillbilly cuisine and an adventure for The Cthulhu Hack entitled The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers. The adjacent map is my not-quite-done rendering of the first floor of the bootleggers’ home. If you click on the map, it gets bigger.

I’ve also drafted six characters for the players to choose from. You can take a gander at them by clicking here. Any unchosen characters become NPCs and probably will be among the first to go insane and/or die.

I still have to draw the house’s second floor, a small section of cave, and a map of the terrain around the house. After that, all that’s left is to flesh out some details in the adventure and fix dinner. I’m aiming for stew, maybe rabbit, maybe oxtail, with carrots and potatoes, some moonshine, either some greens or a salad, and dinner rolls. If I get really motivated, I might fix a sweet potato pie for dessert. I’ve not made a sweet potato pie in quite a while.

Of course, life being what it is, it’s starting to look like my gaming plans for the weekend are going to get pre-empted by other stuff. Say, “La vee.”

July 21st, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Help Kaela Get Better

A friend of mine, Shadow Byrd, has a puppy named Kaela, and Kaela has parvo. For those of you not familiar with this virus, here’s a link. Short version: It’s bad, especially for puppies.

Shadow is trying to raise money through sales or donations to help with the expenses. She has a photo album of items for sale at this link. That’s a link to a Facebook album. I don’t know if you can see it if you’re not on Facebook, et cetera. The first post by Shadow under the pictures includes a list of books she’s got for sale.

I met Shadow several years ago through a local RPG club of sorts. I like Shadow. She laughs at my jokes, which perhaps indicates a lack of wisdom on her part, but no one’s perfect. Close to a decade ago, I had to have my cat Puddy put down. The circumstances were different. Puddy was just old, too old to take care of herself, too old to even eat enough to stay healthy. I didn’t have the money for a vet at the time, so I took Puddy to the SPCA and surrendered her. When I put her on the counter and the SPCA worker picked up and walked away with her, Puddy craned her neck to watch me, meowing the entire time. She was scared and, in my more maudlin moments, I think I could see accusation in her eyes.

Losing a pet can be heart-breaking. If you can help, please help Shadow take care of Kaela. If you’d like to contact Shadow, her e-mail address is at the second link above.

July 20th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Lean and Athirst!

More horrors for The Cthulhu Hack.

Flying Polyp

According to these scraps of information, the basis of the fear was a horrible elder race of half-polypous, utterly alien entities which had come through space from immeasurably distant universes and had dominated the earth and three other solar planets about six hundred million years ago. They were only partly material—as we understand matter—and their type of consciousness and media of perception differed wholly from those of terrestrial organisms. For example, their senses did not include that of sight; their mental world being a strange, non-visual pattern of impressions. They were, however, sufficiently material to use implements of normal matter when in cosmic areas containing it; and they required housing—albeit of a peculiar kind. Though their senses could penetrate all material barriers, their substance could not; and certain forms of electrical energy could wholly destroy them. They had the power of aërial motion despite the absence of wings or any other visible means of levitation. … Such was the fixed mood of horror that the very aspect of the creatures was left unmentioned—at no time was I able to gain a clear hint of what they looked like. There were veiled suggestions of a monstrous plasticity, and of temporary lapses of visibility, while other fragmentary whispers referred to their control and military use of great winds. Singular whistling noises, and colossal footprints made up of five circular toe-marks, seemed also to be associated with them. (The Shadow Out of Time by H. P. Lovecraft)

Hit Dice: 8
Notes: Tentacle (1d10). Windblast (1d6+1 Nearby targets must make DEX Saves to avoid 2d8 points of damage). Sucking wind (1d6+1 Distant target must make STR Saves to avoid being pulled one range category closer). Armor 4, plus invisibility. Takes minimum damage from physical weapons. Casts 1d6-1 spells.

Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua

At any rate, when the men of K’n-yan went down into N’kai’s black abyss with their great atom-power searchlights they found living things—living things that oozed along stone channels and worshipped onyx and basalt images of Tsathoggua. But they were not toads like Tsathoggua himself. Far worse—they were amorphous lumps of viscous black slime that took temporary shapes for various purposes. The explorers of K’n-yan did not pause for detailed observations, and those who escaped alive sealed the passage leading from red-litten Yoth down into the gulfs of nether horror. Then all the images of Tsathoggua in the land of K’n-yan were dissolved into the ether by disintegrating rays, and the cult was abolished forever. (The Mound by H. P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop)

Hit Dice: 4
Notes: 1d3 whips (2d4), or bite (1d4 plus engulf), or tentacle (1d10). Engulf (STR Save at Disadvantage to claw free; otherwise take points of damage equal to the number of Moments engulfed). Immune physical weapons, including magical weapons. Can be harmed by spells, fire, chemicals, et cetera. Casts 1d4-1 spells.

Ghoul

Rubbery flesh encrusted with earth and mold, hooved, wolf-like features, clawed fingers. Speaks in gibbers and meeps.

Hit Dice: 3
Notes: 2 claws (1d4) and a bite (1d6). Firearms do only half damage.

Hound of Tindalos

“They are lean and athirst!” he shrieked. “The Hounds of Tindalos!”

“Chalmers, shall I phone for a physician”

“A physician cannot help me now They are horrors of the soul, and yet”—he hid his face in his hands and groaned—”they are real, Frank. I saw them for a ghastly moment. For a moment I stood on the other side. I stood on the pale gray shores beyond time and space. In an awful light that was not light, in a silence that shrieked, I saw them.

“All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment; I cannot be certain. But I heard them breathe. Indescribably for a moment I felt their breath upon my face. They turned toward me and I fled screaming. In a single moment I fled screaming through time. I fled down quintillions of years.” (The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long)

Hit Dice: 5
Notes: Paw (2d4 plus CON Save to avoid 2d4 damage from poison), or tongue (WIS Save to avoid losing 1d3 points of WIS). Armor 2, plus regenerates 4 hit points per Moment unless dead. Can fly, travel through time, and materialize through any corner. Cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons. 1d4 spells.

July 19th, 2016  in RPG 1 Comment »

Sacred Places

In those days, the Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. (Genesis 18:1-2)

When the divine appears to a person, that person experiences a theophany. Ancient literature, such as the Illiad, and ancient religious texts, such as the Book of Genesis, describe such experiences, which take a variety of forms but always lead to an important change, event, or revelation. Thus, as the story of Abraham quoted in part above continues, Abraham is told that his wife Sarah will give birth to a son.

The site of the theophany itself may take on new signifance as it marks a place where the sacred and the profane touched, transforming the latter into a place set now apart from the normal. For example, near modern-day Hebron, the Oak of Mamre, reportedly 50 centuries old, stands at the site said to be where Abraham welcomed three visitors from Heaven.

Such sites attract pilgrims, many of whom journey with specific intentions, such as hope for healing for themselves or a loved one. Often, these sites become the focus of a group of believers, and then a larger community that may include residents whose motives are primarily related to just making a living. Not everyone can live a life solely devoted to prayer or contemplation. Someone has to do the laundry and grow the food, and the larger the community around or near a sacred site, the more varied the motives of people in the community become. The city of Jerusalem is perhaps the most famous example of a community with a complex, rich history that attracts pilgrims year-round.

The inclusion of sacred pilgrimage sites is a good way to inject some verisimilitude into a campaign. Even in our postmodern age, where what appears to be a distressingly large number of people think that divine favor or good fortune can be curried by liking and/or sharing pictures on Facebook, the attraction exerted by sacred places ought not be too difficult to understand. Wars are still fought over holy places, and people still shed blood in the streets in defense of ideals that, while not necessarily religious, are clung to with religious fervor.

The potential for conflict, and the resulting adventure, grows when a site’s significance acquires various interpretations that conflict with each other, as when the persecution of Christians and destruction of Christian holy places in Jerusalem by the caliph of Egypt helped motivate Christendom into the First Crusade. Translate the events of the First Crusade into a swords-and-sorcery campaign and a GM at least has a dynamic backdrop against which his players’ characters adventure.

To this backdrop, add sacred places that ought to be important to the party’s religiously motivated members. What does the party’s cleric of Olidammara do when the local ruling hierarchy of Wastri decides to suppress all music that does not sing the praises of the Hopping Prophet? What happens when the faithful of Merikka take action against the planting rites of Sheela Peryroyl right under the nose of an adventuring cleric of Yondalla?

And, of course, don’t neglect putting some thought into specific game effects or events attached to the site of a theophany.

Six Things That Might Happen at a Sacred Site
1: A cleric of suitable alignment or faith receives an extra first level spell for the day.
2: A character of suitable alignment or faith is cured of an illness or freed from a curse.
3: Someone sleeping at the site receives a prophetic dream.
4: A pilgrim who possesses useful information or skills may help the party.
5: A divine messenger, probably in disguise, requests the party’s help.
6: A gang with reason to dislike what the site represents shows up to cause trouble.

July 18th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »