Sunday, December 3, 2017

Turning 3.5 Dungeon Encounters into a Dungeon, part 3/20

The 3rd level encounters are atrocious. It is the sort of style known as a 'monster zoo' with a massive quantity of random monsters with no rhyme or reason. How will the players get a coherent feeling and adapt to the changing scenery if it could be any old nonsense?

Anyway, the third level is below the keep of the town, sealed behind iron doors. The demon cult has no presence here, and I'm treating this place as a 'sub-level.'
THE ENCOUNTER CHART(Just look at this shit)
Allip- Crazy ghost with no identity that makes you crazier.
Cockatrice- Death chicken that turns you to stone if you touch it.
2d4+1 Dire Rats- Because increasing numbers of angry rats is thrilling
Doppelganger- Not bad, honestly.
1 wyrmling brass dragon- fighting baby dragons is lame and I've never met anyone who fought a 4HD lizard with no breath weapon and then said 'wow we killed a dragon, so cool.'
1d3 drow elves- I like the way drow look like color-inverted normal elves but that's no excuse to put them here.
1 ethereal filcher and marauder, which are just extradimensional assholes.
1 ettercap- like spider-man but gross
1 violet fungus (fungus)- I don't know what that second parenthetical (fungus) means either
1 Ghast (ghoul) Ghasts are stinky ghouls
1d3 gnolls- You know the dungeon has gotten dangerous because now we got arbitrarily 2HD humanoids
1 grick- lame tentacle monster (carrion crawlers are cooler)
1 hell hound- Might keep this actually
1 howler- 's like a porcupine dog from hell.
1d3 krenshars- more dogs with scary faces
1d3 lizardfolk- more 2hd humanoids
1 werewolf- following the progression from wererat, I guess the next floors will go wereboar, weretiger, werebear, possibly with numeric increments
1 ogre- shrek
1 gelatinous cube- these are hilarious and I love em
1 phantom fungus- invisible evil mushroom. No (fungus) for this one.
1 rust monster- we're attacking more than HP now Like inventory slots!
1 shadow- And STR points!
2d4 stirges- And CON points, unless stirges suck HP in 3.5
1 wight- ...and levels!
1 locust swarm- 1 swarm per encounter chart, is that the rule here?
1 yuan-ti pureblood- snakepeople is classic osr but I don't think I'll keep this 2hd humanoid
1d3 trogolodyte zombies- Maybe the lack of any trogolyte presence has sinister implications
1d3 poison snakes- enough with the poison vermin wotc, plz
1 giant praying mantis- thank you
1d3 medium monstrous scorpions- dammit

Well, lets sum up. We got several encounters that come in varieties of invisible and 'after your inventory'

We got several undead of the 'aw hell no' variety and a cockatrice which is also a 'do not engage' sorta thing

A lotta doglike things

And some miscellany.

1- Tentacle Monster
2- Chimera
3- Cynocephalus
4- Servitor Ooze
5- Hellhound
6-Undead Wizard
7-Magma Worm- Use sparingly, to change up terrain and provide access to below.

This sublevel is the sub-basement of a wizard, whose tower was knocked down by the ancestor of the lord of the Keep and sealed away. The apprentices were in the basement during the siege and died down there, but some of the magical experiments survived the decades of entombment. Better put some clues up in the Keep about what might be down here, in paintings, tapestries, and statues. Let's talk about what's down here though.

The Tentacle monster is an alchemical construct the wizard used to aid in breeding chimerae. Its body is several clear sacs each the size of a large barrel, with more long, clear tentacles topped with bone needles. Its function is to draw blood and use that blood to create creatures, and now that it has escaped its containment pit, it wanders the halls jabbing things for 1d4 damage and retreats to said pit to gestate and birth a monster composed of a mix of all the blood it has drawn since the last gestation. These homunculi/chimerae are ready in a few dungeon exploration turns and are then added to the encounter chart, and are combinations/clones of the blood taken. These homunculi tend to view the tentacle monster as their deity-mother.

The tentacle monster retreats as soon as it has one or more samples of blood, and should be clearly tough enough, with lots of attacks and HP that the players will be glad to see it go and not keen to follow. Those offering no resistance will lose only 1HP from the blood drawing process, incidentally.
This is my take on the 'swarm encounter,' and stirges only with lots of tentacles instead of lots of locusts or rats or whatever. Also it's the 'doppelganger' encounter in a way. This creature, if the players can figure out what's going on, could be an interesting source for replacement characters or other mad schemes, but as long as it's alive, this sublevel will swarm with weird chimeric beasts.

Speaking of-
Chimera- Rather than the dragon/lion/snake/goat, 'Chimera' just refers to a cloned monster manufactured by the tentacle beast. Since the blood source in this isolated area is pretty much rats, dogs, and humans, most the Chimera are fairly similar.
 roll 5d3, indicating, shape, size, head, body, and limbs
1-Humanoid   1-Rat Sized/headed/Body/limbs
2-Quadruped  2-Dog Sized/headed/Body/limbs
3-Centauroid  3-Human Sized/headed/body/limbs

Anything with any human bits also has human hands and the traits of that human.
Rat and Dog headed chimera do 1 damage if rat sized, d4 damage if dog sized, and d6 if human sized
Rat sized come in packs of 4, dog sized in 2, and humans are solo unless they band together

The chimera have an unnatural ecology of cannibalism, sustained by the procreative powers of the tentacle monster. For the first few years, there were endless clones of the wizard apprentices. Then rat got into the mix, and things got hairy. Literally. In recent times, a dog got past the locked doors in the cellar that led into this sublevel, and so the Cynocephali arose. Larger and fiercer than the rat-men, they had both brains and brawn, and so devoured.those chimerae who had only one of brains or bites, and so have eked out a crude family tribe worshipping the tentacle beast and despising the undead wizards. They are the oldest chimerae to have ever survived in this tiny cannibal prison, and range from 1-5 years old, though they have mature bodies and brains and lack only context and knowledge.

Cynocephali- 2HD, bite for d6. Humanoid bodies, though rather furry. They can talk, but are suspicious, racist, naive, and usually hungry, so negotiation is not as with a rational human. They will offer themselves to the tentacle monster to replenish their numbers if attacked, but try to keep their population at 8- one for each toe of a dog, and a number that can survive decently on the production of edible chimerae. Their priest keeps the mummified paw of their ancestor on a necklace, and it may have become magical with all the faith poured into this trinket. These are my drow, gnolls, lizardmen, and other humanoids.

Servitor Ooze- More alchemical constructs, these are simply janitorial slimes working in overtime to clean up all the dead bones and garbage produced by the tentacle monster. They have multiplied insanely over the years and are very numerous.
They are very corrosive to organic matter, but the sheer mass of  hair and bone by all the furry chimerae eating each other is overwhelming and the oozes look like slithering half-orbs of hair, like giant dustbunnies
They shy away from movement (a safety feature) and move silently (an anti-annoyance feature) but while they aren't your typical 'chase and eat' style of monstrous ooze, they are still dangerous because they wish to
1-clean dirty things, like, say, bloodstains the wounded wizard is leaving behind
2-pick up garbage, like, say, the inventories of the players.
This leads to them following the players around, cleaning up messes, and stealing anything left unattended. On a bad reaction roll, they will deprioritize 'avoid movement' and attempt to silently pickpocket the players, as the foreign objects like 'backpacks' and 'swords' all register as garbage.

The oozes attempt to flee from movement (when not acting as overzealous maids) and so do not 'fight' in a traditional manner, but they leak corrosive fluids that spray and drool when hit and wounded, and may then attempt to clean up the spilt blood or sundered contents of a dissolved leather backpack, and all in all they are a tremendous pain. If you manage to cut into the storage vacuoles  of the hairy slime though, you'll find various indigestible pieces of 'garbage' like the dead wizard's spellbooks, wands, jewelry, etc.  They are, incidentally, my combination of rust monster, gelatinous cube, and ethereal filcher.

Hellhound- An imp came down here once, got 'sampled' by the tentacle monster, and retreated in fear. As such, there are a few chimera that have demon ichor as part of their creation process. This has given them weird powers and made them prone to malevolence and wickedness, and there are no morally upstanding dog trainers around to lead them onto the path of good. There are 4 hellhounds currently, and both the Cynocephali and the undead Wizards fear them for their demonic resilience and lock them behind portculli doors whenever possible, trying to keep them away from themselves and the tentacle monster. They spend their days eating chimerae and scheming on how to escape their walled off prison.
1- The Howler Inspired One- This Hellhound is a dog with spines like spears. If it flexes, everything within 10 feet is menaced by a bunch of bristling spines. It is very tough due to its spine armor, and can fire spines like javelins. The spines are hollow and make whistling noises, and could become musical instruments with strange potential.
2- The Krenshar Inspired One- This Hellhound can jump out of its own skin, becoming a skinless horror and a flapping, smothering skin-horror. It can even hide inside the skin of others that it flays, though being a dog, this disguise is seen through with the remotest examination.
3-The werewolf inspired one- This Hellhound can eat the minds of those it bites, dealing intelligence damage. Those reduced to 0 intelligence become like dogs themselves, mentally, and view the hound as their master.
In addition to the obvious, these are the nasty but not undead 'solo' encounters like the ogre, mantis, etc. Some doppelganging and alternate attack forms are covered here too.

Undead Wizards
Or rather, Undead Wizard Apprentices. They all met horrible ends down here and became vengeful spirits after their bodies were eaten by oozes. None of them are very sane or very nice.

Shadow/Allip Inspired Undead Wizard Apprentice- trapped in a collapsed part of the basement with just a create water spell, the confinement, darkness, solitude, and starvation over a month left a ghost that can't abide the sight of people having what it didn't. It hates the dogs but they've learned its tricks. Said trick is to cast an illusion, making people think the doors have vanished, and hopefully keep them confined to a room until they die of thirst/hunger/paranoid cannibalism. It has no means of affecting the world in light, but in darkness (say, if a 'trapped' party runs out of torches) its touch makes people hungrier and hungrier. It's very stealthy, looking like an extra shadow attached to someone in the group it is stalking.

Its spellbook is with its buried corpse.
Create Water- Creates drinking water, enough for 1 person for 1 day per [dice^2]

No Exit- Can be cast silently. Up to [sum] targets must save or believe there is no escape from a particular situation- no doors from a room, no ladders up a cliff, no good excuse to leave a dinner party, that sort of thing. Lasts as long as the caster concentrates.

Cockatrice Inspired Undead Wizard Apprentice- Facing being eaten by his fellows, he cast Stone Skin to defend himself and flubbed it in his panic, turning himself to contagious stone. There are several petrified chimerae around, some in the room, who succumbed to this. This ghost is bound to his stone form and wants to share his fate with others out of extreme boredom and idle cruelty. His statue could become very dangerous if broken apart, as even a grain of dust from it contains the petrifying plague- though secondary victims are not contagious.

Stone Skin is as Sand Skin from the Silk Wizard spellbook, though this variant has a unique Doom- that of the petrifying plague. You get +1 AC for each failed save against the plague, and -2 Dex. At 0 dex, you are a statue. Save once per day until you find a cure or die.

Wight/Ghast Inspired Undead Wizard Apprentice- He spent years eating clones of himself and other chimerae, and became a flesh-hungry cannibal monster, the curse of the wendigo grasping him full force. He is physically mighty from his feeding but the loathsome stench of death has repelled the beastmen and they will never accept him as master or even friend despite how many share his face, and so he has become a shunned and loathsome monster even among monsters. His rotten flesh is bloated and putrid, and he shambles about seeking fresh meat at all times, since there's nothing better to do. Maybe he could be given some purpose if treated kindly, but it would take a saint to overlook his monstrous nature.

His spellbook is inside a slime, as he gave up spellcasting along with his humanity, content to overwhelm prey with his claws and teeth. Eating meat boosts his HP, up to what could be maximally rolled, and also gives him boosts to his strength.

Anyway, that about covers all the intended modes of attack, gives some roleplay opportunities, gives the players something to play with in the form of a hybrid clone generating monster, maybe has some puzzle aspects for retrieving treasure from the oozes... oh, and I suppose there should be some surviving notes that direct the players to the bottom of the ravine, which is where the wizard could have learned some of his wacky stuff.

We want things that go well with oozes, bestial manimals, nasty undead wizards
1- Pillar with something valuable atop it. Surrounded by oozes trying to reach it.
2-Hallway with hidden portcullis trap. All the portculli are of metal and lock once down. requiring a key. Most keys have been eaten by oozes, but the Cynocephali and the Ghast probably have some.
3-Tunnel to Ravine Bottom, bored by magma worm.
4- Tables with attached manacles
5- Abandoned chimera nest of bones and hair. Cleaner oozes will get rid of it eventually.
6-Rocks left over from magma worm tunnels that the cleaner oozes collect and leave in piles. 
This place could get pretty weird if the magma worm tunnels or the doors are left open and more monsters wander in, depending on what the players do. So long as the tentacle monster is alive it will likely remain a constant battleground of mutant freaks. If the dogs escape, they might become really weird pack leaders of remaining chimera or new wandering monsters. The undead could end up saturating the place with other cursed spirits, which might attract some of the nastier ravine dwellers.
In any case, there should be  a decent amount of weird treasure, and overstuffed oozes should maybe leak some coins to indicate to the players where the treasure is. It was the basement of a pretty adept wizard at some point, so there should be some good stuff in the cleaner oozes, even if the real treasure is the players finding a way to exploit the magical disasters of the place.
A rough example- as opposed to the keep level, this place is a free-for all. Players should be running from things, getting cornered, stumbling across chimera battles, spying incoming slimes come to clean up battles, meeting their own chimeric clones after initial blooddrawing encounters with the tentacle monster, and generally going 'this place is a total shitshow, what the fuck man.' I doubt they'll interact with everything, but I think it's a memorable 'monster zoo'

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