Thursday, February 23, 2023

Random Monster: Carnivorous Grass

Solomon dropped his pack. This little copse of grass would do to rest for the night. Green and soft - better than that rocky camp last night. He kicked aside a desiccated dear corpse mounded in the center of the grass. He wasn't about to share a bed with that. Solomon threw down his bedroll, took a nip from his flask, and shut his eyes...

The sun hit his eyes. Groggy, he realized he'd slept past the dawn. He felt numb, his limbs heavy... He'd only had one nip... Feebly, he tried to sit up, only to find himself bound to the ground. Farkin' pixies! No, that wasn't right. His vision cleared, and he saw in horror that his skin had been pierced and threaded with countless blades of grass! Solomon struggled, feebly, feeling drained, as the sun continued to rise. He vaguely felt the grass pierce more fully into his body and wrap more securely around his limbs... 

Don't Step On the Grass

One of many banes of the unwary in the wilderness, Carnivorous Grass presents a tempting "bed" of thick, soft turf for a weary traveler or animal to rest upon. The grass may give itself away by one or more desiccated corpses within its bounds, although the age of the corpse may not be clear, as the grass' attack and consumption of victims accelerates any apparent decay.

Only after they slumber, will the grass present its true nature, working its way through bedding and clothing to pierce the flesh and bind the victim to the ground as it slowly drains them of lifeblood and strength.

The grass manages this feat by producing an anesthetic effect (save vs poison to detect/be awakened). If awakened, the victim may escape with little difficulty, tearing away the grass blades from their flesh. Extracting oneself will cause 1d4 damage.

Those who do not awaken will take 1d6 damage +1d4 STR drain (One "attack" per night, three "attacks" per day). A trapped individual must make a STR test upon awakening to escape the entwining and piercing grass. They may make an additional attempt after each grass "attack," but repeated failures will lead to decreasing chances of escape as their blood and strength are drained. 

(AC: Umm, it's grass.  HD: No matter what you do to it, it's eventually growing back...)

Beware of the Lawn

And of course there's real "carnivorous" grass (via symbiotic fungus, but who's counting?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Random Monster: The Conflagration Spider

Stumbled upon via a friend's feed:

art by Edward Gorey, of course

Anyway, this fellow looks like a fun time. 

And since I enjoy aggravating my poor players with yet another spider variant...  After all, they almost had their asses handed to them by a single pesky crustacean last session. So let's do this...

Conflagration Spider:
Angry, belligerent, and aflame, these arachnids were the unholy development of the vivimancer-alchemist Vladan Bačić. Bačić consorted with certain abyssal powers to create a predator with flammable glands that bathed the beast in arcane fire as it sprinted after its prey or invaded a lair.

The spiders, bred and controlled by the vivimancer, were used to protect his lord's fortifications and to raid the camps of besieging enemies or an opposing army, wreaking destruction and panic. The spiders eventually broke free of their bond-magic, escaping into the mountainous region of the Kawrwel Wastes, a rough land of sparse forests and rocky escarpments, where they lurk and dwell among the ruins and caverns of that ancient borderland to this day. 

Stalkers and sprint-hunters, the spiders lurk among the rock, before bursting into the open, igniting their flames, to descend upon panicked and confused prey. Although born of arachnid stock, Conflagration Spiders have a distinct intolerance for other spiders, stalking them, burning their webs, and consuming any that they capture. 

Attributes: HD4, AC 5/14, Atk: 1d8 bite + 1d8 flame damage (1d3 rounds). Anyone in melee takes 1d6 automatic heat/fire damage. The flame is arcane fire, and not readily extinguished. An individual spider can maintain its fire for 2d3 rounds before needing to regenerate its fire-gland stores. Resistances: Immune to fire, half damage from cold attacks. Curiosities: The glands may be of great value to alchemists and similar researchers hoping to reverse-engineer Vladan Bačić's methods. Great care is required to safely remove a spider's flame-gland, requiring an appropriate attribute or skill roll at difficulty. Failure will result in an explosion (2d6 damage, 10 foot radius, save for half).

seemed apropos

Note: According to the table of contents I found for the book, the cover image depicts "The Black Spider," by Jeremias Gotthelf, a horror story/morality tale of misfortunes befalling a town after a bargain is struck with the Devil (and his avatar, the eponymous spider). I was hoping to find a Project Gutenberg or Librovox version, but it looks like "free" English versions aren't currently available... What translated excerpts I have been able to find have an atmosphere of classic gothic horror and desperation.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Sunday Session - Don't Knock Over the Urns

 What happened this week, folks?

Tonight's party:

  • Jax, barbarian+dog
  • Frederick, thief
  • Fulvus, halfling
And introducing:

  • Brandor, dwarf
  • Nolan, thief
We started in Neuforde, observing some of the new settlers and developments in the area (toll booth at new bridge, a few new homes, militia barracks, survey markers for future walls and a new temple). Things are booming in our little town on the frontier... (Oh, and Frederick just returned with the local halflings after finding some random goods that fell off some wagons. The local Adopt-a-highway program is effective.)

A bit of introduction, and the PCs sought out some rumors about the past history of the land. It seems that there was once some sort of barrier or network that helped keep Chaos at bay generations ago when the land was more settled. With the ensuing loss of the lands, and general instability in other domains, much of the local history has been lost. It is known that the "Ring Road" as the trade road passing through town is known, was formerly part of a border, although the route has been altered somewhat.

As a starting point in their search, the party headed upstream to a lake and cave previously explored and cleared of a polluting alchemist. On the way, they encountered a band of bullywugs, set on defending their territory. Through a bit of pidgin language, the party made clear that they were just passing through, and the leader seemed to recognize Jax. The bullywugs demanded a fee for passing. Frederick offered some pearls, and Fulvus his bag of marbles. The bullywugs were a bit meh regarding the pearls, but quite excited about the marbles. 

shiny marbles!

Reaching the cave, the party now sought to investigate some carvings that had been noticed during the prior exploration. Clearing some moss and debris, they deciphered what appeared to be a schematic representation of the local area, with a number of mystery points. Conveniently, one appeared to be nearby. Oh, and Brandor found a couple of unbroken bottles with mystery fluids in the ruined lab. I'm sure they are perfectly harmless...

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Random Magic Item: Lamp of the Hound

Inspirational image originally found on r/greyhounds (because we have those silly running couch-hounds).


From the item description: "Bronze plastic lamp in the form of the head of a greyhound, holding a hare in its mouth. The hound's eyes are inlaid with discs of silver (one missing)..." 

Really, I can't do better than that...

Lamp of the Hound

Monday, February 6, 2023

Deathstyles of the Lich and Famous

Time to craft up another play report for my eleven readers.

Small band of miscreants this week, as a couple of the usuals took the night off. And without Goober the wardog in attendance, I knew things were going to be touch and go.

Tonight's cast:

  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Mareth, elf 
  • Thayer, another elf

We started our scene with Fulvus and Mareth emerging from the crypt of Olaf the Black, slightly singed from certain magical fallout. I armwaved Frederick and Jax taking their leave, and we met Thayer as he was vision-questing his way around the forest.

Fulvus, acting on a hunch, tried out his new ring (found last session), which turned out to be a ring of jumping. We now have a jackrabbit of a halfling, with both fast boots and a bouncy ring. Mareth tried on his ring, but found no apparent qualities, other than the fact is was now stuck on his finger... Although he did have a fancy new bow.

Fulvus and Thayer got reacquainted over their shared red hats and we got to exploring. The area was home to several barrows, left over from prior generations before the area's depopulation. Always in the search for capital, the party decided to go grave-robbing.

Friday, February 3, 2023

A Curse of Demons - Some Toren Atkinson Inspiration

After F'Norp's misadventure, I explored a bit more of Toren Atkinson's portfolio, and borrowed these fine individuals for a bit of hellish creativity:

Of the five lovely specimens below, all have demonic resistances to normal weapons, requiring silver or magic to cause damage (in addition to whatever other physical resistances they may have). All take half damage from non-magical fire. 

Soth'tath: The Hound-Headed: 
Appearing to wear the oversized skin of a flayed victim, this multi-limbed "Hound of Draglemol" acts as a servitor-porter and tracker that retrieves the damned, both on the Abyssal planes, and without. Its mole-like nose scents out fugitives from the dark places and unpaid pacts. Two or more are typically dispatched to hunt down their prey.
Running on bird-like feet, or scrabbling along walls and ceilings, the demon moves at the same pace on any surface. Upon catching prey, they are often seen portaging them away, grasped on their backs with their posterior claws.

HD: 4+1; Armor: as Chain; atk 4x claw (1d6 ea), if two or more attacks strike, the target is grappled, taking 1d6 automatic dmg/round until freed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Jungle Tower

Back on the creative bent, or at least completing a few really rough drafts languishing long enough that I needed to call a necromancer to help me revive them...

Some time ago, I found a few maps posted by Billy Longino on some social media (defunct blog, shared post? Google lens has failed me.). Anyway, selected a few that had good, workable spaces to my amateur's eye. This tower...

... was a good candidate, and I roughed up a few ideas that sat in a notebook. I had a tough time building a 'story' for the space and its occupant(s), but a pool on the summit of a jungle tower needed some story...

I came up with a damaged or controlled 'spirit' or similar being held in thrall by a Bad Person (tm). I had some helpful inspiration from JB's Comes Chaos, in creating the side-effects of such tampering.

So here is a short scenario, of bringing things back into order. We'll see how this presentation works, since the accessory spells, etc., take up as much page count as the scenario itself, but I wanted to show everything in a single space. 

Anyway - let's go see if we can clean up the local water supply...