Posts Tagged ‘ horror ’

Mephitic Horrors

Another trip through From Unformed Realms, this time aiming to create a Lovecraftian horror for use with Swords & Wizardry!

Its leathery flesh, covered with finger-length spines, sharp and dark, glowed faintly from deep cracks and pocks, as if some internal fire guttered just beneath its skin. It walked upright, like a man, but balanced itself by means of a sinuous tail that ended with a knobby clump of something like bone. Where arms should have grown from its shoulders extended writhing, muscular pseudopods, growing and retracting, seeking to touch, to grasp…to burn!

Mephitic Horror
Hit Dice: 5+5
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attack (Damage): 2 pseudopods (1d4)
Move: 9
Save: 12
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 8/800
Special: Constrict and burn, immune to fire, spittle, toxic bile

Mephitic horrors are a sort of evil elemental that serve unholy entities that seek to return to the Material World in order to terrorize, enslave, and devour. In melee, mephitic horrors attack with their pseudopods. A creature struck by a pseudopod is ensnared to be crushed and burned, which causes an additional 1d6 points of damage per round the victim remains grasped. Instead of a pseudopod attack, mephitic horrors may spit up to twice per round (once per pseudopod attack not made). This spittle has a range of 30 feet. If it hits, the target suffers 1d4 points of damage as the spittle burns. The target must also make a saving throw to avoid being blinded for 1d6 rounds. A mephitic horror that takes more than 5 points of damage from a single attack involuntarily coughs up a gout of toxic bile. Creatures in melee combat with the mephitic horror when it regurgitates must make saving throws to avoid being splashed. The ghastly bile quickly worms its way into flesh. Those exposed to the toxic bile (meaning those that failed their saving throws) develop painful, aggressive tumors after 2d6 days (a Cure Disease suffices to overcome this malady, the exact effects of which are left to the Referee’s discretion).

Adventure Hook: The discovery of an intriguing artifact leads to a long-abandoned fort controlled by bandits for nearly three months. The bandits stumbled across the fort while trying to evade the authorities. One or more mephitic horrors prey on the bandits, seeking to slaughter them all.

July 18th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

From Unformed Realms? Excellent!

I recently acquired several Paul Baldowski’s The Cthulhu Hack products-in-print via All Rolled Up. One of these products is From Unformed Realms. According to the introduction, this 20-page booklet is a “system-free supplement for a Gamemaster running games involving creatures of alien horror for role-playing games of all genres, fantastical or horrific”. The author suggests rolling 3d6 six times “to generate a customized aggressive horror”.

Each set of 3d6 determines a category, subcategory, and specific trait. There are six categories, such as Extremities or Fluids. Each category included at least three subcategories, and each subcategory includes six specific traits. That’s quite a lot of variety, and it looks like fun, so let’s play. I get 3d6, one black, one purple, and one red, and I roll them six times each, recording the results in the color order already mentioned. I get these results:

3, 4, 4: Skeleton, Bone Mutations, Blades
5, 6, 6: Appearance, That Looks Like, Ooze
1, 4, 2: Extremities, Weapons, Pincers
5, 3, 5: Appearance, Protuberances, Digestion
2, 6, 4: Senses, Vision, Compound
1, 2, 4: Extremities, Limbs, Spines

In other words, something like this:

Before our horrified eyes, the blasphemous thing lurched forward, glistening wetly in the moonlight. Shadows of bones rolled within its amorphous bulk, translucent and fetid, and some of those skeletal remnants slid from within, hooked and sharp and some clacking like monstrous pincers. Globular compound eyes bobbed within its body, pressing toward air. Even in the dim lunar glow, we could see half-digested remains: a dog, several rats, and — God help us! — a man’s arm!

Turning to The Cthulhu Hack core rules, I put together some quick monster stats:

Hit Dice: 5
Nota Bene: The gelatinous horror moves stealthily (roll with Disadvantage to hear it before it’s too late), and its fluid form is difficult to grapple (also roll with Disadvantage). It is impervious to flame or heat. Its compound eyes see in nearly all directions at once. It attacks 1d4 times per Moment, and each attack inflicts 1d4 points of damage.

After From Unformed Realms describes the various traits by category and subcategory, there is a single page “Summary of Traits” followed by two pages of “The Obligatory Appendix”. The latter provides tables that answer questions such as “The Hook?”, “Location?”, and “Horror’s Motivation?”, and with a few more dice rolls I determine the gist of an investigation into madness and death. Bolded parts of the following sentence indicate the results of dice rolls.

A chance visitation leads to a boot camp that has been a cover for anarchists for nearly two years for the purpose of medical research. The boot camp has become the target of the horror because the camp is built on the monster’s food source.

And there you go. In a fraction of the time than it took me to type, format, and edit this blogpost, I’ve got the framework for an investigation that pits the players’ characters against secretive, Mengele-like anarchists unaware that a Horror from Beyond lurks at their doorstep.


July 14th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Grasping the Ineffable

Lately, I’ve mulled about using Monster of the Week to run a Call of Cthulhu-style game that would be more about investigating unspeakable horrors than confronting monsters and destroying them. One of my thoughts involves replacing Luck with Madness, and treating Madness much like Harm. I’m not quite sure what that means. Regardless, I did fiddle about with a couple of new basic moves. A hunter’s Weird rating would modify that hunter’s Madness. For example, a hunter with Weird +2 would have two fewer Madness boxes.

Grasp the Ineffable
When you attempt to understand the unfathomable nature of cosmic horror, roll + Weird.

On a 10+, hold 2 and 0-madness. On a 7-9, hold 1 and 1-madness.

One hold can be spent to ask the Keeper a question. Use the questions for investigate a mystery or read a bad situation. If you act on the answers, you get +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.

Advanced: On a 12+, you may ask the Keeper any questions you want about the cosmic horror, not just the listed ones.

Maintain Sanity
When you confront sanity-blasting eldritch terror, roll + Cool.

On a 10+, you do not succumb to the terror you feel. You suffer less madness (-1 madness). On a 7-9, choose 1:

* You briefly lose control in the face of the terror. The Keeper will give you a worse outcome, hard choice, or price to pay, but you gain hold 1 as if you attempted to grasp the ineffable. This does not grant +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.
* You maintain composure, but are shaken. You get -1 ongoing until you get a chance to collect yourself.

Advanced: On a 12+, not only do you not succumb to the terror you feel, but you may choose 1:

* You gain hold 1 as if you attempted to grasp the ineffable. This does not grant +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.
* Your courage rallies all hunters involved in the confrontation, giving them +1 forward.
* You suffer no madness at all.
* You recover 1-madness.

June 21st, 2017  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.


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 »

Horrors for The Cthulhu Hack

One of the first things I do with a game system is write up monsters, villains, et cetera. Hereafter, I try my hand with a few horrors for The Cthulhu Hack.


An enormous squid-like monstrosity at least 20 feet long. Numerous grasping tentacles. Its worm-like body coated with slime. All around, an alien chanting that seems to come from the very air itself.

Hit Dice: 10
Notes: Tentacle (1d6 plus CON Save to avoid additional 1d6 from blood drain). Crush (1d4 nearby targets for 1d8; DEX Save avoids). Armor 5. Powerful telepathy. Regenerates 5 hit points per round until dead. Casts 1d6 spells. Multiple Chthonians working in concert can cause earthquakes.

Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath

An vast mass of writhing, ropy tentacles the color of night. Covered with puckered mouths that drool green goo. Lower tentacles end in ebon hooves upon which the monster walks. The stench of an open grave hangs thick in the air.

Hit Dice: 7
Notes: Tentacle (1d8 plus CON Save to avoid weakness causing a Disadvantage in STR Saves). Firearms do minimum damage. Casts 1d6 spells. Stealthy in forests.

Dimensional Shambler

“Shuffling toward him in the darkness was the gigantic, blasphemous form of a black thing not wholly ape and not wholly insect. Its hide hung loosely upon its frame, and its rugose, dead-eyed rudiment of a head swayed drunkenly from side to side. Its fore paws were extended, with talons spread wide, and its whole body was taut with murderous malignity despite its utter lack of facial expression. After the screams and the final coming of darkness it leaped, and in a moment had Jones pinned to the floor. There was no struggle, for the watcher had fainted.” (The Horror in the Museum by H. P. Lovecraft and Hazel Heald)

Hit Dice: 4
Notes: 2 claws (1d4). Travel between planes (INT Save prevents being dragged along when applicable). Armor 3. Casts 1d3 spells.

Fire Vampire

“On the instant that the final guttural sound had left his lips, there began a sequence of events no human eye was ever destined to witness. For suddenly the darkness was gone, giving way to a fearsome amber glow; simultaneously the flute-like music ceased, and in its place rose cries of rage and terror. Then, instantaneously, there appeared thousands of tiny points of light—not only on and among the trees, but on the earth itself, on the lodge and the car standing before it. For still a further moment, we were rooted to the spot, and then it was borne in upon us that the myriad points of light were living entities of flame!” (The Dweller in Darkness by August Derleth)

Hit Dice: 1
Notes: Touch (1d6). Immune to material weapons. Suffers improvised damage from materials that smother flame.

July 14th, 2016  in RPG 1 Comment »