Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parasite zombies (October 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

I realized that I overlooked making my "Things that go bump in the night' entry for this month's Blog Carnival.  I had my wife sketch up a critter and everything!  Oh well, here's another extrapolated real-world nasty for your gaming environment...

There are several varieties of parasites that, as part of their life cycle, 'zombify' or mind-control their hosts in order to procreate.  The typical strategy is to cause the host to lose inhibitions or self-preservation, and therefore expose itself to predation or other harm in order to distribute larva or advance its life cycle. The Cordyceps fungus takes over ants and spiders, the Horsehair worms take over crickets, the broodsac flatworm controls snails.  All lovely lifeforms that are cause for plenty of skin-crawling.

Although known since the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Rhizocephala parasitic barnacle popped up on several nature blogs last year, probably due to a lull in people finding things to cringe at on the Internet.

Illustration by the incomparable Ernst Haekel
Briefly, the Rhizocepahla is a parasitic barnacle that has shed its shell, appendages, and most organs in order to become, essentially, a swimming set of gonads and a nervous system.  Which it attaches to, and infiltrates, a crab host, co-opting its digestive and nervous system.  Oh yeah, and reproductive system, making the host a brainless walking reproductive organ...

And so, I'll make it a game critter...

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Joy of Used Books.

Ordered a used copy from Amazon, $4.50, shipped.

Opened it to see if it had any stories (besides those on the pages).

It's autographed.

RIP, Iain. Hope you're enjoying that perfect dram somewhere.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hex 18.16, Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Mapping Project

My modest contribution to the island sandbox...

Welcome to Hex 18.16, The Head of the Ghavor:

(Done with inimitable colored pencil technology.)

The northern portion of the hex is forested with primeval evergreens, typically monkey-puzzle trees and similar. A Methuselah tree grows in 0502. Centuries older than the remainder of the forest, it towers over the area, allowing surveying of the northern half of the hex for anyone brave enough to climb its gnarled, spiny trunk (and deal with the giant wasp that lives there).

0303/0304/0404/0405/0503/0504: Explorers in the area will be greeted by loose rows of obsidian sculpted into mysterious, helmeted figures and odd, twisted stele with indecipherable cuneiform. The figures have not been carved, but expertly shaped (Stone Shape equivalent )by the lizardmen shamen (below) as tribute to their ancestry and for a secondary purpose. Each weighs 400 to 500#. Astute observers will find the figures to be arranged in a 'Y' shape with the east and west arms of the Y pointing at the position of the star Akbal during spring and autumn equinox. Upon the equinoxes, the shaman goes into a trance at the junction of the Y. The stele act as an amplifier or antenna, which the shaman uses for far-seeing to communicate with fellow lizard shamen scattered across the globe to share information and make their ineffable plans. Even one sculpture would exceptionally valued by collectors or sages, but if any were to be moved or disturbed, it would immediately be detected by the lizardmen, instigating a fierce and terminal pursuit.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bearguana

Because we watched Godzilla last night and noted how bear-like the big guy was, and because, honestly, owlbears are kind of silly.


The bearguana, a chimera of bear and reptile, was developed by the vivimancer Duil En'quae two generations back. He had hoped to sell the beasts as exotic cavalry mounts, but the creatures' intransigence showed this project to be folly. His breeding stock eventually escaped, and has been a terror of the local forests since then.

The bearguana have the head and body of a bear, with the iguana's claws and tail. Bearguana hide consists of a toughened combination of fur and scales, along with the reptile's signature spines. As such, it is in demand by exotic armor-makers as an alternative to simple leathers.  Adults weigh approximately 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, and stand up to 8 feet tall when rearing on their hind legs. Omnivorous opportunists, they will dig up both live prey and plants found via their acute sense of smell, or will chase other predators and scavengers from their claims. Their reptilian aspect will find them sunning themselves on rocks or in clearings.  Bearguana are very protective of their wide-ranging territories, attacking perceived interlopers aggressively. They are typically solitary, although mated pairs will comingle periodically, and sows with cubs are common.
The reptilian metabolism contributes to the bearguana being somewhat sensitive to cold, and the creatures tend to hibernate longer than their pure ursine cousins. Any hunter who happens upon a slumbering bearguana during the cold months must quickly take advantage of this, for although the bearguana may be initially sluggish, it will quickly recover and defend itself mightily (-2 attack for 1st two rounds, +2 rage attacks on subsequent 2d4 rounds). On an attack roll of 18+ (natural roll), the bearguana grabs its opponent and hugs it for an additional 1d8 points of damage.

Bearguana: HD 5+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 5/240; Special: hug for additional 1d8 if to-hit roll is 18+, bearguana awoken from hibernation attack at -2 for 1st two rounds, +2 rage attacks on subsequent 2d4 rounds.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Contributions - my mad skills.

The question went out on the group page for the mapping project, "When asked about how to approach the actual doing of things, a comment was made that design and development each to his or her ability. With that in mind, I wanted to ask what are folks strengths?"

I replied with:
"My writing skills rival those of a room full of monkeys with keyboards, and my artistic skills are equivalent to those same monkeys with buckets of multi-colored poo."

I'll probably not get many requests for editing. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Territory Claimed

Erik Tenkar found a map from a set-aside project and decided to share it with the unwashed masses for a crowd-source sandboxing project.

Hex-claiming went live this AM on G+.  We claimed a nice-looking little hex in the center of the island with a mixed terrain of forest, mountains, and the head of a river.  Very promising.

Welcome to Leicestervania:

And of course we brought our flag.

Rollin' d30

Heard a holy racket in the kitchen.

Max found my d30, and among its other applications, it makes a VERY satisfying noise when being batted across a wood floor. 

Richard LeBlanc would be so proud.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crnobog's Well, a pointcrawl entry for the Slumbering Ursine Dunes

Chris Kutalik has a Kickstarter going for his Slumbering Ursine Dunes sandboxing region, a Slavik-flavored madhouse of a desert, complete with polearm-bearing bear-soldiers, alien artifacts, and lazy godlings.

He and his colleagues are past their 3rd stretch goal and several hundred dollars short of stretch #4.  Go ahead, throw him some coins.

C'mon, people - War Bears!

Anyway, last week he offered up some prizes for readers to add a few encounter areas to the sandbox (or as he calls it - a pointcrawl).

Sure - what the heck...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quigh Caverns

Quigh Caverns

Up the coast a ways, where the cliffs begin to rise up, and the beach narrows to a sliver (often less at high tide), one may find the three entrances of the Quigh Caverns.

Marked by three stones jutting from the water, the caverns are accessed via a narrow beach.  The cavern network is tortuous and partially inundated.