Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Harpies

AD&D Harpies-
Derived from the grecian myths, AD&D harpies have an alluring song that allows them to slaughter all who fail their save vs magic and are lured to it. As usually, the entire adventuring party will not fail their save, the question becomes how to save the entranced party members from 2d6 flying monsters with 3HD and 3 minor attacks... though this is rather complicated by an additional, deeper 'charm' effect that takes place on touch, a rather rude surprise to adventurers who stuffed their ears with wax to dodge the song.

Honestly, charm spam into being 'attacked, tortured, and devoured' by a bunch of bird women reeks of a TPK with little player agency or counterplay if the encounter is sprung upon you without forewarning. This post goes into the variation by edition and even suggests some potential countermeasures to this ignominious character death, mentioning that, at least in the AD&D version, the text does not state the song is a charm as the touch is, merely that it requires one to move towards the harpy, which could allow the character to sling arrows and spells as they walked towards the harpy. Since later editions specify that the entranced characters 'take no actions but to defend themselves' and proceed directly to the harpy, regardless of cliffs or dangerous terrain, this suggested strategem seems likely to be against the spirit of the rules, though later editions also tend to remove the charm on touch ability, giving entranced characters at least a single round to defend themselves after the song stops and, one presumes, the harpy flock goes for the kill.

All in all, a bit suspect as far as good monster design goes, but I'm not the biggest fan of any effect that means the player isn't playing. If it was just problemsolving to avoid hearing the song/disrupt the hearing of the entranced, that would be decent. But the squad of 3HD feathery maulers kind of puts a damper on that. Mythologically, they were abductors and befoulers (and conflated with Sirens) so focusing on them attacking supplies if denied their entranced thralls would be better, as 'how can we get these awful birds to stop shitting on us' is a more interesting problem than 'fight flying monsters that swoop down for a claw/claw/bite + charm spam.'

From Top: Vulch, Bat-harpy, true Harpy



SUNSET REALM HARPIES
The word harpies refers to three beings primarily- the Bat-people of the fault, the Vulch of Saresare, and the monsters of the name.

Bat People, or House Desmodia
Despite having supersonic vocalizations to daze most vertebrates, anaesthetic saliva, a diet of mammalian blood, and better than average odds of being bi disasters, the bat people of the cavernous earth of the Fault are not actually vampires.

all sorts, according to science

Birds do not, as a rule, live underground, so these batty creatures mainly exist because it made more sense to have bat-harpies in the subterranean tomb caverns of my megadungeon than birdly ones. After all, dungeons have a lot of opportunities to make walking towards an enemy a dangerous prospect, so underground harpies have a lot of potential. A pack of them charmed a character who was separated from the rest of the party by a fear effect from a headless horseman, but then rolled very low on the con damage from bloodsucking, allowing the player to survive. From this I reasonably assumed that, as flying creatures, these bat-harpies do not drink all that much blood in one sitting, which makes sense. You wouldn't want to be so bloated you couldn't fly, after all. And from this, it followed that, once the whole megadungeon thing calmed down, they would likely integrate into the already rather furry society of Phillipstown (dominated by wererats as it was) as a superior source of blood than the troll they had been feeding on before. And from there, they'd likely prove valuable as night scouts and mass-manipulators during the intersolar period, which would then give them the clout required to secure exits from the Fault once the 5th age began, escaping the curse/blessing of undeath. And in the more human-dominated lands beyond the Fault, they may have shaved their fuzzy faces and hidden their wings beneath cloaks while in human society and, with their foreign wealth, gotten into advantageous positions, extracted modest blood taxes far more amenable than taxes of silver, and so became the Desmodia family, with the branches extending to Queen's Coast, where they lived as sanctioned beings of Our Lady after initial tragic misunderstandings, and Vint Savoth, where imbibing corrupted blood did indeed make them more vampiric, tarnishing the reputations of those dwelling in Queen's Coast, whose dalliance in the military, the market, and the nobility were honest enough.

But those are just one family. There are doubtless more of the bat-folk in the caverns of the world, unfettered by the social structures of the Desmodia, winging through dungeons in search of blood.

Bat-Harpy
No Appearing 1d6
HD- 1
AC- as chain due to dextrous flight, unarmored if not flying.
Move- twice human flying, half-human crawling on the ground or walls.
Treasure Type C- All will be very light objects
Morale- 4
Echolocation- Provided they can click and squeak, they can tell where physical objects are within their hearing.

Supersonic Song- Bat-harpies singing while stationary causes a chosen species (humans, typically) whether asleep or awake within 300', regardless of walls, to save vs spell or proceed towards the Bat-Harpy at maximum speed, not needing light to navigate and dropping any encumbering packs and items to move faster. They may defend themselves, but not from the harpies. There is a +1 to the save per 10 years of age(assuming human lifespan), as the higher registers are harder for the elderly to hear. The harpy chooses whether the entranced victim will fall into traps or off ledges or wade into water, or take circuitous but safe routes, depending on if they wish for a living victim or a corpse. Upon reaching the harpy, entranced victims are sonically sedated and stripped to expose veins, bitten (the bite causes no damage, being a minor incision from which blood is lapped) and have 1d4 points of constitution drained from them per feeding harpy, feeding taking 1 turn per harpy.
Surviving victims are then abandoned and the harpies flee, taking any lightweight objects they find interesting with them.

Directed Squeak- The subtle effects of supersonic vibrations on the brain can cause other effects when screeched/whispered directly at a target within melee distance, forcing a save vs Sleep or Confusion with the same +1 per 10 years of age to the save. Sleeping victims do not wake if fed upon.

Bat-Harpies must feed once per day or begin starving. They may feed more than once per day, draining another 1d4 points of constitution, but must space out these meals 6 hours apart or become bloated and unable to fly until 6 hours of digestion pass. They do not favor open conflict and will prefer to lure targets and attack sleepers, and corpses are of little use to them so they only kill those who attempt to kill them.



The other winged beings one might call a harpy goes by many names. Mercians called them Vulch, for Vulture-Harpy, Saresarens call them Ibn Nasir, Yubans called them the Yazata. They are long necked and bald, hairless in fact, and hold to a pacifistic, scavenger faith where they do no violence, and take nothing but what has been abandoned, subsisting on trash and carrion in their ascetic lifestyles. They were the first necromancers, though they sang to the restless dead to show them to their dreaming afterlives, and consumed them so their remains may return to the earth. The bell exorcists crafted their instruments from the tones of Vulch-humming, and the earlier, kinder portions of the Necronomicon were penned in part due to apprenticeship under one of them. Their song is for the dead though, not the living, and are able to live among humans as mendicant mystics in Saresare, quelling certain disturbances in the netherworld that go unnoticed or unmanaged by established funerary services.


And lastly, for the monsters that truly bear the name 'Harpy.'

The true harpies of the Fault are birds said to have the heads and torsos of women, though this is a misapprehension. Their 'breasts' are pectoral muscles for flight, their hair, downy feathers, their eyes the far-ranging, wide-open glare of an eagle, not a wide-eyed maiden. Their young are fed flesh, not milk, and they are not birds, despite the eggs and the feathers. They are monsters, creatures that descended upon ill winds from Beyond and now infest the jungles of the Fault and the Beast Islands. They speak your language in the fashion of birds, part cunning comprehension, half thoughtless mimicry. And they speak that which you most wished to hear, the words carrying on the wind and rousing you from sleep, drawing you off the paths with promises of knowledge. Do harpies truly know the secrets and answers, half-heard, or is it merely some monstrous trick? Either way, they are not particularly dangerous in melee combat, having sharp talons and teeth. They roost atop trees and cliffs, and knock the entranced climbers to their doom, or live near larger, more terrible beasts that kill those they lure, leaving the scraps for the harpies. They like shiny things, and so their nests are another sort of glittering lure, promising the treasures of dead heroes when in fact it is mostly fools gold and broken glass. They do befoul things they fear to attack directly with their excrement, ruining rations and marking the shat-upon with a smell that indicates to other creatures that here, here is man-flesh for the taking.

True Harpy

No Appearing 2d6
HD- 1
AC- as leather
Attack- 1d3 claws swoop, save or fall if climbing/precariously situated, fall prone if battered on unremarkable terrain. They may attack at any point during their movement.
Move- twice human flying, half-human crawling on the ground or walls.
Treasure Type C
Morale-9

Swooping Menaces- Harpies cannot be hit in melee by people they are tormenting, as they attack from behind, cause distractions to cover each other, and may well have some supernatural power to torment and victimize those who are alone. Targets the harpy is not targeting in a round may attack them as they fly by as normal.

Nest- Harpy nests glitter enticingly with potential treasures and sparkle from miles away. Harpies sing when they spot prey animals coming, their song reaching about 3 miles (ie, covering a 6 mile hex).
1d6 Nest Location-
1- 40'-90' tall tree (or higher!). Harpies begin attacking once creatures climb to 20' tall, hoping the fall will slay them.
2-50-100' tall cliff or waterfall. The nest will be situated halfway up, and harpies attack once prey are within 20' of the nest.
3- Rock island on raging river, deep lake, or sucking swamp.  Attacks begin once victims are swimming, pushed underwater on failed saves on hits
4- Ruins- highest point of ruin exterior, likely contains dungeon.
5- Bramble Patch- Very slow movement through patch, 1 damage to unarmored AC, harpies viciously harass as soon as the target enters the bramble.
6-Monster Lair- Harpies hope monster will kill entranced targets, less used to personal combat. Roll up a monster lair, Harpy morale reduced to 6.


Secret Song- Players may tell the GM what hinted-at secrets or mimicked voices would  lure them away on a failed save that lures them to the harpies, if the GM wishes to convey truths, half-truths, lies, or nonsense on that topic. Those without DEEP CHARACTER MOTIVES could be given rumors of treasure or simply be lured by the beautiful song. Affected players are not deeply hypnotized, just tempted, and may justify their actions to their allies and will defend themselves even from the harpies, who usually lurk in their nest out of direct line of fire until the time comes to dash the victim onto the rocks. Their goal is to listen to the fragmented information of the harpies, though the harpies themselves invariably foil this goal.

Excrement- Harpies can befoul targets with their droppings from above, with the usual to-hit roll, befouling 1 random inventory item and the target themselves. Though no damage is caused, the reeking smell makes stealth impossible until the character is washed with soap, and items are forever stained, smelly, and (in the case of consumables) ruined, though magic items get a save vs poison or similar.
The smell also attracts wandering monsters at double the normal rate, and the character must save vs a random disease unless they discard the befouled item and clean themselves within an hour or so.

As true monsters rather than simply carnivorous beings, spells such as Protection from Evil ward off harpies, and their very presence brings ill luck and ruin to the waking world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Halflings

I have put off this post for some time, for must admit I find halflings a mediocre addition to most fantasy games and can muster no excitement about them. Even in Tolkein's work from which the D&D halfling is derived from, their prosaic, domestic nature is in fact their defining quality. This is all well and good for a story with thematic purpose and authorial intent indicated to highlight the virtues of rustic civilians vs those consumed by power struggles, but in D&D games that message is rather hard to pull off outside of 'and then my character retired from the disgusting murderhobo life and lived happily ever after' which is a fine ending but a poor incentive for actually continuing campaigns.

They seem to be meant as a sort of 'underdog' character which I can understand the appeal of, but on the player-end of things, their impressive offensive and defensive bonuses spoil such notions for me, as they end up less underdog, more 'low-profile artillery platform/tank.' The idea is that to a halfling, humans and similarly sized foes would be like ogres, twice as tall and 8 times as heavy. But whereas ogres compared to humans have quadruple the HD and unarmed deal the same damage as a halberd, there's ludonarrative dissonance at play when that difference, one that we intuitively understand should be a nigh-insurmountable combat disadvantage, is represented in game by halflings merely suffering a strength capped at 17, max fighter level 6 or other such negligible differences that pay lip service to the notion that halflings face bigger, relatively speaking, perils.

AD&D Halflings

This is the monster statblock rather than the player bonuses, the player side of things being rather tamer in AD&D 1e but, in later editions and in various retroclones, prone to the defensive creep mentioned that turns them into short tanks. Tactically speaking, they may appear to be essentially goblins who cannot see in the dark, but are crack shots with the bow and sling. +3 to hit with their ranged weaponry is, for masses of soldiers, incredibly menacing, moreso even than Elves. They also resist magic, saving as 4 levels/HD higher, have a few uninteresting fighter/leader types of levels 2-4 based on # appearing, and have 1d4 dogs per halfling when encountered in lair. All in all, fighting halflings would be a numbers game that one would be unlikely to win, and they have treasure type B, which is likely to be no more than a few thousand GP worth of treasures and maybe some halfling-sized magic arms and armor on the leader types. Not at all worth the effort required to defeat, treasure wise, for most would-be pillagers.

There are also the Tallfellows, who are taller and get along with elves, and the Stouts, who are shorter, have infravision, and get along with dwarves. From this I conclude halflings are just shorter humans/elves/dwarves and not actually their own thing, and move on.





Sunset Realm Halflings, or Little People
They're just short humans, or if you take the halfling viewpoint, humans or 'hugemans' are just tall halflings. Most commonly found in the Beast Islands, they hold they are the original humans, and those humans who left small islands for the gigantic mainland grew larger as their habitat did, much like goldfish. Halfling, though not a slur, is a slightly rude term to refer to them as, a diminutive -ling suffix and assumption of deviance from a 'whole' norm. "Little people" is a generally acceptable term when referring to them as a group based on height rather than the actual culture they hail from.

Those who live in the moonlands are rumored to see in the dark, but in truth, those often dark lands simply encourage people to lean more heavily on senses beyond sight. Little clicks for makeshift echolocation, feeling air currents, smelling and hearing, and of course, simply letting ones eyes adjust rather than brandishing a torch can all contribute to this notion.

Due to their small size, they favor training beasts as guards and hunters, and are the origins of the 'Beast Battling' culture of the isles. They also are excellent sailors, mostly culturally but partly physically. After all, a 200 pound grown human requires more food than a 60 pound one, so their ships can be trimmed down and lighter weight compared to larger ships to take advantage of the winds and currents. Rowing is one aspect where they lose out to larger sailors, so most ships of levels larger than personal rowboats are entirely sail-reliant.

Islander customs of beast-befriending can be traced all the way back to the 2nd age, with children who had come of age being sent through rites of passage to claim a pet to serve as their friend and defender. As technology advanced, the war-torn 3rd age added a reputation as trap-makers, as it was easier to defend ones home with gravity, torsion, and so on than with force of arms. The technical skills required to build such devices also allowed one to identify and disarm them, and so 'security specialists' were often hired from the Beast Islands for all manner of legitimate and illegitimate ventures, making the trap-maker reputation shorthand for 'burglar.'  The 4th age saw them in conflict with the dwarves, desiring the  banned clockwork and gunpowder tech which cared not for the size of its wielder, and this gave the Beast Islands, already regarded as roguish, a further reputation for piracy, as dwarvish and Saresaren ships became prime targets of Beast Islander ships aiming to claim the unobtainable tech, and settling for whatever else was onboard. The calmer 5th age saw the rise of fine beast islander alchemists, as trade opened up and technology advanced further, and before the 6th age, the islands became known as the scientific hub of the world, surpassing the rationalist Saresarens and the stagnated dwarves.

On a less lore-heavy note
Rules for Halfling Players(Also children, goblins, ratfolk, and other ~1 meter tall beings)
HD per level never higher than 1d6
5-in-6 chance to hide, gain surprise, etc etc, compared to base 2-in-6, at least vs larger entities in larger environs. Not applicable in metal armor.
Saving throw bonuses based on whatever your system says, based on things missing you mostly
"Darkvision" is a more like a skill for moving without sight. Unless Goblin, they do see in the dark.
Weapons are 1d6 1-handed, or 1d8 2handed, and d10 weapons are too large (guns aside).
Though not explicit, it is assumed most entities find you less threatening due to size, which has its pros and cons


Friday, June 11, 2021

Griffon, Gryphon, Groaning Spirit (Banshee)

AD&D Griffon

I rather like griffons as an encounter, because they are, statwise, essentially flying lions with AC as plate that come in unmanageable numbers of 2d6, but mostly care about eating your horses. A great calamity/opportunity to befall adventurers of any level venturing into the wilderness, really. Young griffons sell for 5000 gold and eggs for 2000, which is more reliable than the rarely-impressive treasure type C, but griffon adults, while fierce enough as is, fight to the death to protect their young.

AD&D Groaning Spirit (Banshee)
The spirit of an 'evil female elf' is, in the original monster manual, specifically called out as a 'very rare thing indeed.' With the later development of the drow, one might wonder if the underdark is absolutely infested with banshees. They are less menacing than spectres, dealing only 1d8 damage instead of level drain, but can do the famous death wail once per day, interestingly only being able to wail in darkness, and the death effect having a short range. Their appearance causes a save vs fear, so one could imagine them being a monster that appears, forces a party split due to saves vs fear causing fleeing, then the scream being used against whichever part of the party fled without light, with their impressive AC of 0 (20), typical immunity to nonmagic weapons, 50% magic resistance and 7 HD  keeping them safe from quick destruction (save for the Exorcism, a 4th level cleric spell) and allowing them to mop up survivors.

Mythologically, it's interesting to note the origin entity (Bean Sidhe) was more of a lamenting spirit mourning the passing of families who were "true" irish, the Milesians, as opposed to english or norse or whoever else was about on the isle. Initially I assumed this degeneration from fairy-bestowed honor1 into an evil deathbringer spirit might be the usual christian demonization of local legends, but the idea of Milesians themselves come from christian pseudohistory, so this is probably just a case of muddled correlation into causation leading the myth to drift from warning of death, to being the cause of it.


Sunset Realm Griffon or Gryphon


a Fault Griffon or Pelicat

The noble gryphon is a chimeric hybrid the result of a political marriage between the King of Beasts, the Lion, and the King of Birds, the Eagle, the resulting beast a nearly unparalleled predator sure to sit at the top of nearly every food chain. Slightly more historically, they are the mounts of Mercian kings and noble knights, which gives them a certain appeal in some ages and places, and a certain symbolism of the rapaciousness of imperialism in others (especially Yuba, whose troop losses to wyverns in the Yuban crusades was the origin of the 'griffons love eating horses idea). As a very rough overview, Griffons were known in the late second age (once Elves rose up from the ashes of the Serpent Empire), were popularized in the 3rd age by elvish warriors and ensuing Witch-Knights, remained popular (though their numbers were reduced) through the 4th age, and were viewed more as just another monstrous animal in the 5th age, and one that was supplanted as the 'flying mount' of choice by Oroboron Goose Wyverns (or Gyverns) which, while equally vicious, were at least vegetarian.

However, in the height of the 4th age, the popularity of griffon mounts far exceeded the population endemic to mercia, and so the Beast Breeders of the Beast Battler circuit (of the Beast Islands, naturally) saw an opportunity, and so began the era of designer griffons. While the variety is too great to provide an exhaustive list,


 

some of the most notable were the Night Gryphons, owl/panther combos favored by assassin cults such as the Esoteric Order of Neuph, the Palace Gryphons, Parrot/Ocelot combos favored as gifts for bratty nobles who wanted gryphons suitable for admiring and entertainment moreso than warbeasts, and the Fault Griffon or Pelicat, a Pelican/Tiger combo that escaped and bred in the Fault after a shipwreck on the coast and was an absolute horror of a beast prone to swallowing people and young donkeys whole, and able to subsist of of sea-fishing in otherwise uninhabitable coastal areas and be just enough of a hassle to dragons that the two species preferred to avoid each other rather than battle for territory.

Sunset Realm Banshee
Elves are immortal in several ways, both biologically, and via reincarnation. However, this reincarnation requires a certain magical construct found at the heart of their cities, and of course, within the Iron Moon. If the soul is banned from returning to any city and able to resist the pull of the Iron Moon (typically thanks to death occurring well within the perimeter of the Daylands), it may linger just as any other soul might, and become a ghost. Given that being banned from reincarnating from EVERY available city means that one must be very near irredeemably unpleasant to be around, these spirits are often quite ill-tempered and dangerous. The theory that the name comes from a translated elvish court record that states '...from reincarnation, the council bans she who would slay without cause the mortal races for sport' could explain where the term came from.

The common misconception is that it is the scream of the banshee which kills, when in fact, it is simply the killing-spell the dead elf uses (typically at screaming volume) which kills. As such, there are banshees which use fireball to burn down any domicile built near the grave, banshees which strike people dead with lightning strikes, banshees that cause the heart to stop, and so on, depending on the favored spell the elf uses. As such, a proper silencing spell is good preparation, but plugging ones ears and going 'lallala' is not.

Cold iron may disrupt their form in death as it did in life, and serve as the DIY exorcism tool in a pinch, but the soul will almost certainly reform after disruption or escape rusted bondage sooner or later if destroyed via such generic means. Proper exorcism requires either petitioning an elvish settlement to open their reincarnation queue to the lost soul, or performing a ritual to banish the soul to the Iron Moon, or Elfland. Related note, no banshee will ever pass through an intersolar period without being collected by the Iron Moon unless located deep underground, so while the surface of Alvish ruins are typically free of this variety of restless dead, their depths, if any, do not have the same guarantee.

Banshees are not technically bound to the place of their death, but as they live under threat of being drawn into the Iron Moon, they typically stay nearby, only gradually expanding their area of influence over years of haunting and confirmation of lunar cycles, and typically staying nearest at night, when the Iron Moon could potentially draw nearer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Gorgon, Grey Ooze, Green Slime

 AD&D Gorgon
In what cursory research suggests orginates from The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes + accounts of grecian Khalkotauroi, the AD&D gorgon is a 'bull like creature' that breathes out a short cone of petrifying vapors, an attack they prefer to do over their 2d6 attack, presumably a gore/trample. Like many other petrifying creatures, they perceive into the astral and ethereal planes, and their petrifying effects extend to there.

There is not too much to say about them, save that a favorable stratagem, once their breath limit was realized, would be to force them into combat with something other than the party, then slay them once their petrifying abilities were exhausted.

AD&D Grey Ooze
This ooze is roughly in the middle of the deadly jelly-monsters of AD&D. Slow and easily dispatched by melee or ranged, its main defense is appearing as damp stone. It eats metal at the same rate as a black pudding, meaning dispatching it may leave the party unarmed and unarmored against later threats. It is immune to spells save lightning, and is also 'impervious to heat or cold' which notably removes burning oil as a solution and may waste a magic missile or the like. All in all, it strikes me as a creature intended to encourage versatility, backup weapons, and scavenging, but lacking the single-minded charm of the rust monster.

As a final note, some exceptionally large grey oozes attempt to psychically crush any psionics who dare to use this much maligned subsystem around them. While this seems to be more Gygaxian psionic-bullying, the idea of a monster whose size correlates with intelligence isn't bad, and were it applied to oozes that could split and combine this could be very interesting.

AD&D Green Slime
A properly horrific threat, green slimes are technically plants, and are indeed sessile apart from their 'drop from the ceiling' on people attack. Those who it attaches to turn into green slimes in 1d4 melee rounds, a transformation probably variable in whether or not the slime hits the bloodstream, disperses through the body, and devours the unlucky target from within in a flash. Plate armor adds 3 melee rounds before it is eaten through, and wood is very slowly eaten.

Removing attached green slime required scraping, excision, freezing, or burning. Cure disease kills it, but other forms of attack do it no harm (Though it may be reasonable to think plant-affecting spells would affect it as normal.) I thought sunlight killed it as well, but perhaps that was a later conceit made by GMs to assure green slime released into the wild would not consume the world.

It is barely a monster, more of an environmental threat, but it is a memorable one, and a reminder to players with Darkvision that having fire at hand is advantageous for reasons beyond light.

As usual, Goblin Punch has had some jolly good ideas on green slime, including their use as illegal bioweapon thrown in opaque flasks to nigh-instantly kill just about anything.

Perhaps the horror of the green slime is a reflection of the horror of death and decay
A corpse at least has a face, burial rites
someone eaten by slime is just gone in a flash, once a person with hopes and dreams
Now faceless slime, contamination



Sunset Realm Gorgon

I see no great reason to have this creature exist, as there is 'standard lore' for Petrification with regards to it being a sort of byproduct of Yg-based cognitohazards most of the time, and muddying the waters seems unnecessary.
The word, however, may exist in a more grecian/Sunset Realm terminology. Gorgon is the title/rank of a medusa who has forsaken scholarly pursuits, donned arms and armor, and gone to war for the Serpent Empire. So unless a campaign is to be set in the 2nd age when the Serpent Empire was still around, Gorgon is a term of historical note only.

As far as 'killer cow monster' goes I would still use my pandora's ox as a bull that wanders through a dungeon grazing on all manner of normally inedible, abstract things and gaining their powers for itself, and releasing a flood of corrupting energy if slain. The design goal of this creature being to
1- Be different every time, but thematically appropriate based on what it has eaten
2- Be a question of whether to let it roam and collect powers, risking it becoming too dangerous, or to kill it and unleash its corruption to make the rest of the dungeon more dangerous.

Sunset Realm Grey Ooze
As is, the grey ooze has no place, but I am inspired by the bigger=brainier idea, plus the depiction of slime intelligence from the manga Heterogeneous Linguistics, which is all about language and thought from 'monsters.'

Thinker Slimes
While most slimes are unintelligent, ravenous maws of consumption, the Thinker Slime is different. It is unknown what causes an oozelike monster to gain intelligence, but it probably has to do with either eating books, or brains. Any slime can probably become a thinker slime, so this is not a specific 'type' of slime, but more like a template to apply to other slime monsters.

At human size, it has about human intelligence, stronger in pure memory and computational power, but lacking experience and context. It can learn social norms and speech much faster than a baby, but must learn them still. Each halving or doubling of HP roughly halves or doubles its intelligence, though it will often split into more slimes rather rather than seek the abstract heights of braininess unless it has a goal better served by a gigantic thinking jello.

It may split willingly, creating duplicates of itself, just smaller. Small duplicates of 1-4HP size are used as scouts which explore, then return and merge with the original to share information, or as an escape method in which the original sends out as many small versions to escape as it can, increasing the odds that at least 1 will survive and prosper.

If it is split unwillingly (typically by being struck by a bladed weapon) its intelligence and self is not evenly distributed among each part. If split in half, each half has a 50% chance of retaining any given knowledge the original had, with the other having that knowledge if this half doesn't. They may also reroll reactions, as they are essentially new beings, as might multiple slimes that re-merged back into a whole. Merging or splitting takes but a single round, but requires the round to be 'spent' by all involved parties.

They grow rapidly when fed, but require more feedings hence or will be forced to shrink under hunger's yoke. As a rough estimate, 100pounds of organic material(and/or whatever inorganic material this slime may dissolve) grants them 1d8HP after a dungeon turn of digestion.

Sunset Realm Green Slime
This menace is not a natural being, but rather, a nightmare vision of Life, mindlessly self-replicating, perfectly efficient, without any constraints on the simple eat-replicate cycle. It is, perhaps, a vision, a collective nightmare of Fauna imagining a plague-predator Flora. There are prophecies where the entire world drowns in slime, ancient ruins beneath the earth with no inhabitants save a single slimy colony of the stuff. Things have gone wrong with the Slime before, and will again. It is most common in Vint-Savoth, leading some to believe it is algae corrupted by the Blood Moon, or perhaps a variant form of Blood of that moon, but, deep enough in the bowels of the earth, it can be anywhere, dripping down through a thousand miles of hairline cracks and subterranean waters..

Taking this stuff into the sunlit world is a capital offense everywhere. Fools who seek to weaponize it invariably fall victim to it with the dramatic inevitability of a horror movie- it's not just dangerous, it's downright cursed. Political bodies that legalize its use in warfare are declared Dark Lords and crusaded against, much like what happens if some warlord has the bright idea to weaponize Moonspawn and other existential threats to humanity.

Still, fools rush in and all that, so with regards to adventurers, they should know that larger beasts take longer to be devoured- if a human takes 1d4 rounds, each doubling of mass adds +1 round to total conversion as the exponential flesh-to-slime conversion takes effect. Unlike a human being consumed, a monster or beast is likely to flail around as it is consumed, infecting all it collides with in its death throes.

The undead are unaffected by green slime, or at least, digested at a slow enough rate that a zombie leaking green slime is not a sight unheard of. Green slime that attains intelligence typically manifests as a Sludge Vampire (see goblinpunch posts above) and oft mimic real vampire behavior in an attempt to get people to waste their time with ineffective countermeasures. The Sanguine Church is aware of these creatures and suspects at least one vampiric lineage in Vint-Savoth is actually this type of blood drinking slime, as opposed to accursed human.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Four More Campaign Worlds And Retrospective Lessons


Three years ago I made this moderately popular post about past campaign worlds, and I think it's about time I updated it with what I've run since then and perhaps what was learned.

CASTLE NOWHERE

A drawing of the most active characters- Leah the thief and her goblin minions, Blix and her fairy and spider sidekicks, Aten Bast the mighty wizard (Later replaced by the also mighty Thirbaek Merrymace after Aten's many deaths cheapened his life in the players eyes), Olaf the wicked old usurper of the Sheriff position, Leo and Pilgrim/Lily the Witch, character and decoy replacement character after some party PKing, and finally Ambrose Noure, the sociopathic but easy to work with Gothic Villain and his pigman retainer Lump. There were other important characters such as Erhard De Vend as well, but such is the nature of open table games that there is no snapshot of the party that is perfectly comprehensive.



After the politicking of Crownless Lands, I wanted to return to ye dungeoncrawling, and an individual sense of struggle and survival rather than faction jockeying. At this time I had been playing quite a bit of Enter the Gungeon and Darkest Dungeon and had belatedly gotten into the lore of Undertale, so I had a notion of looping time where each adventure would go through similar areas, with increasing familiarity allowing easy bypassing, knowledge of where the plate armor was to upgrade the frontliner, and so on. Additionally, death would be irrelevant, a time loop ensuring a way to keep characters constant but threat level high, even easier than even widespread Raise Dead. To keep the focus on individual treasures rather than gold hoards, I used a copper standard without changing rulebook prices. 1 copper piece was worth 1 xp, making lanterns and other mundane items valuable treasures, and a suit of plate stolen from Castle Noure's armory racks

Not much of this design sentiment survived the early drafts, as I think it would have required a singular carefully crafted megadungeon to work, but I did not have that sort of prep time available. So the focus of the campaign was a single small village beneath the eponymous Castle Noure

A quick view of the village map. Upgrading the village wasn't the focus of the game, but was a satisfying part


With a very small hex map in case the players got cabin fever and wished to wander, though this campaign was set in the Moonlands, a place where the sun was a rare occurrence and the lights of alien moons warped reality and spawned monsters. It was no place for mortals to go wandering about narratively, and on the meta level, this was not a hex crawl campaign.


With the dire outside established, the focus then turned to the accursed, time-looped estate which was composed of 3 modules- Ynn, Castle Gargantua, and Maze of the Blue Medusa, with Ynn as the ever-changing grounds of the estate that must be crossed, Castle Gargantua as filling for the towers and 'minidungeons' that might be found from entering buildings that were not Noure proper, and MotBM as the 'Final Area' within which were contained the secrets of the decadent nobles and mad experimentation that caused this loop. All were warped to suit the campaign setting rather than used as is, but Ynn was praised, MotBM disappointed, and Castle Gargantua was mostly ignored, but I feel like, with some tweaking, could be worth trying again.

Another sleeper hit was a tweaked version of the Meal of Oreshegaal, (which I still can't spell) which in my warped version had the Tuskmen as once-human peasants subjected to famine that Oresh turned to pig-people so that they could survive via cannibalism rather than become ghouls. As some of the more ghastly elements of the manor were removed, Oresh became everyone's favorite creepy wizard uncle and the party allied with him against the entity responsible for the time loop (which in a twist, was not a time loop at all, but a manual reset using clockwork machinery, cloning facilities, which then gave everyone a bit of an identity crisis upon the revelation that many of them were clones made to play out assigned roles).

Player attendance became wobbly near the end, but a final epic conclusion or three were achieved, and a combination of retirement and new recruitment was set out for the next portion of the campaign.

Things I learned from Castle Noure
1. Having the players be desperately poor is fun, but can wear thin in the long run- I am more likely to switch to 'barter only, coin isn't real' than go full on copper standard but silver/gold book prices again.
2. Making death a non-issue has mixed results depending on playgroup. Some players had more fun not having to worry about permadeath, and/or learned the value of permadeath by seeing the effects of hanging on to a character who had outstayed their welcome. While others used it as a crutch to support existing over investment and loss-aversion and were led astray, perhaps. I think future games of mine will have to pick a path, so to speak, either making death more menacing, or leaning harder into the 'fantasy soulpunk' idea I have for the setting, where death is just deportation to the netherworld and human consciousness in artificial bodies is the new transhumanism mood.
3. An absolutely hostile wilderness less fantasy wilds and more 'cosmic horror' is very fun, but again can wear thin in the long run. I am greatly amused by my veteran players who survived the Moonlands chuckling to each other when newbies ask about the Moonlands or naively assume that they couldn't be that bad out loud.
4. Reliable 'crafting systems' for potions and the like have a sort of appeal, but I think are doomed for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, I think potion ingredients must be confined to things that cannot be farmed safely, or you run the risk of having to run Magical Industrial Revolution with potions/magic items. Which could be fun if that's the premise of the game, but if it's just one player wanting to set up basilisk and mandrake factory farming, you probably get a pacing/tone/balance issue.
5. Having a premise to do 'one thing' in a campaign is great and good and has always been more successful than keeping things strictly 'get in ye dungeon and get rich and figure out what you REALLY want along the way". "Break the Curse of House Noure or Get Rich Trying" was the initial goal of the campaign, it fragmented into other goals, and finally, when the campaign was over, some characters retired, but some had formed a proper adventuring party forged from the unity of their common goal.

If there was a theme to the 54 sessions or so of Castle Noure, it was something about leaving past trauma behind and focusing on found friendships and family. But of course, it was not to last, for call no PC happy till they are safely retired offscreen...

IRON-CROWNED OROBORO
Map lacks some player added portions

After the party finished with Castle Noure, their next goal was to take their 60-foot tall clockwork fighting robot and walk it out of the hellish moonlands to sanity and sunlit lands, for a variety of reasons. Thirbaek Merrymace, cleric of dead gods, had properly put one of his gods to rest, and now sought to find the sunshard fragments of Riikhus and reassemble him. Blix wanted to honor the wishes of some bugfolk and bury them on the isle of Ebetheron, and also go on a honeymoon with their protein polymorph gf. But mostly, people just wanted to keep playing and get out of the moonlands, and Oroboro was a part of the setting that was well-fleshed out due to the past Crownless Lands campaign, so it made for a good destination.

Oroboro was supposed to be a city crawl+megadungeon, and I had a vision for the megadungeon, with rooms that would fill and empty with seawater, making timing very important, and equipment more important yet, as armor protected from monsters, but not drowning. A hell of undead and fishy monstrosities, a corrupt sore at the heart of the city that had formed from the unfinished business of Oroboro.

After the very positive experience with Ynn, I did not prep the Sunken Sepulchre megadungeon,but instead filled it on the go with random tables. I think dungeons benefit from building in advance so parts coincide, but I think the enemy composition between sea creatures, outlaws, and undead was a memorable mix as they required different tactics to approach and the players rarely rushed in, rather scouting, then returning to 'lair' areas with preparation.




Looming threats were the cult of Janus, cthonic demon god of blood and gold, their temple a crater filling with seawater, and the dread Ningen King, a giant merman made into immortal monster by the artifact Topaz, and his rivalry with King Samuel Goffnagoff, an old PC who had become king, as well as the machinations of the ancient serpent rulers of the city, a necromancer cult which outlived the loss of its head, a giant wasp-queen Happy who was raised by humans but whose offspring lacked morality and hungered for brains, and the neighboring country of Fassulia in a magical cold war with Oroboro.

The players were no mere murderhobos delving with rusty spoonshivs now, however- levels started at about 3-5, and reached 6-7. Waterbreathing and light were spells that trivialized some of the mundane threats of the dungeon, which was slightly disappointing, but the players found the place disgusting and dangerous enough that they probably would not have been willing to delve it without these magical tools. A fine balance is required to make dungeon delving at higher levels still feel dangerous, and I think it was barely met here, but, especially once teleportation and flight became available, it surely felt like the players were outgrowing many of the problemsolving parts of dungeon delving.

However, their heightened power, especially mobility-wise opened them up to the wonders of hexcrawling and domain building, and I soon found myself in need of prep far beyond the Sepulchre.


They fought (and lost against) blue dragons in the deserts relying on their metal clockwork battle bot (but came back with a plan and grapple ballista and a small army and won), delved a ghoul-missile silo in Fassulia and uncovered the machinations of the lich Magister Verdurus (villain of Crownless Lands), riddled with terrible ifrits who could only be tricked and outwitted, not beaten, visited the islands of the realm and other city-states like Phavea and the accursed City of the Emerald (within which a kiss-spread curse made all appear as the lost Queen of that city), met the Knights of the realm in their castles, accidentally assassinated Oroboron Queen Buckley at the machinations of a player from Crownless Lands picking up an old character, igniting mroe Fassulian-Oroboron intrigue (tho necromancers were behind it all) and made war Against the GiantsSaga of the Giants™ and defeated and claimed the hill giant section of that module to dip their toes into that hazy theoretical realm of 'domain play, ' which really came into full force after the players defeated the Heart of the Kingen (and betrothed the High Incarceratrix of Janus) removing the two main sources of evil at the heart of Oroboro, only to be confronted with a choice- both the King of Oroboro, Samuel Goffnagoff, and the Serpent Queen Tinnea, giant platinum medusa (one of three medusa) offered payment for the monstrous-immortality granting Topaz, but each was vying for rulership of the city. Tinnea got it in the end, simply because she could pay the ONE MILLION SILVER bounty upfront, while King Samuel offered a payment plan.

Apologies for that doozy of a runon, have an image of Blix, Erhard, and Thierbaek, as well as retainers Serenity the hatecubus/Erhard's Sword, and Kitadatapa, moral compass spider cleric.



Samuel was petrified and overthrown, which led to what would later be known as the Oroboron Civil War, in which some supported the legitimate claim of the Serpent Queens, while others supported the human Goffnagoff family who refused political marriage and opted for revolt (Princess Evalyn being the Rebel leader). I rolled reactions amongst Samuel's knights to see who would join the rising serpent queen and who would rebel, and was surprised to see that most rebelled (save for the most mercenary of them). More surprising still was the split of player loyalty to different sides of the civil war. Each side was largely identical in politics, so it really was down to character moments- Some valued their feudal oaths to the knights, or had sinister mirror-cult conspiracies at play, or simply sided with their best friends or just were double-agent lesbians
hey, a motive's a motive


Anyway, each side was given private channels to communicate in, and they plotted and schemed, drawing allies from local factions they met in more standard play to aid them, employed counter-measures and counter-countermeasures via spying and double agents and intelligence work, and I as GM was just the neutral arbiter of all this. Though some people felt betrayed, for the most part this was very enjoyable to everyone, as playing against other players with GM as arbiter lead to lots of problem solving. In the end people died, players retired, and the Serpent Queens were cast into prison or the pocket dimension from which they came (or beheaded by KAN for inscrutable purposes), the Lumarian conspiracy was revealed and [REDACTED] (he sold his name to a bugbear) the Mirror-Pope fled to the mirror realm, and the party's ties were now shooketh and everyone resolved to sail away from this political squabbling on a boat to become pirates instead.

What did I learn from this 65 session campaign? Well, one thing was what D&D in the 5-7 range really starts to look like. I would not go so far as to say this was 'true' domain play as we did not get deep into the nitty gritty of how many pikemen can guard a 5' wide breach in a player-build castle wall, there were mercenary troops hired, there were night raids on war camps, there was A player castle built on the ruins of the reclaimed Hill Giant Steading, there were religious conspiracies and marriage angles, it was all pretty great. With regards to 'domain play' I think there needs to be a goal- idly upgrading and sleeping at Fort Fortenfort (said player castle) was briefly fun, then ignored, but the goal of the Civil War galvanized players into 'domain level' actions. The trick might be setting- you need it to be wilderness enough that the players have room to grow, but also have nearby factions of all types so the players aren't just clearing hexes of direwolves or whatever.

According to one player, the theme of this campaign was 'Loyalty' not just to fellow party members and maximising loot, but to ideological goals. While fun, the Civil War took a lot out of people and they resolved to go on a piratical boat adventure with no complicated politics, just a desire to escape Oroboron politics and stop a prophesy that said the fled wasp-princess might bring about the end of the world via domination of brain-eating wasps.


VOYAGE OF THE THIEFBOAT


Things seemed to start off well- the party scrying the wasp-princess, robbing a tower of an archmage of its goodies (even learning the Wish spell, albeit a Glogified one), dealing with plague rats on the ship and pressganging pirates into joining. Then came Cycladea, a Lungfungus created island module meant to emulate bronze-age greek mythology.

In and out, talk to the wasp-princess out of causing the apocalypse, and definitely don't get caught up in Iliad/Gigantomachia shenanigans, 20 minute adventure

Bouncing around Cycladea started low-impact, looting some dungeons, helping villagers, meeting wizards. But these were not fresh characters. They had strings on them. Arsem's madness and Firstborn(the forsaken homunculous 'daughter' of Blix)'s pact with the Great Raven led them to piss off a terrible wizard who was cursed by the gods after their initial friendly meeting. Animated skeletons (and covert vampires who snuck on in Oroboro) caused a mutiny on the ship, and Finzu, the Pyromancer, lit a city aflame with everburning fire with some magical shenanigans. The party sided with the king who had imperialist dreams, and vowed to defeat the goddesses of Cycladea who were admittedly jerks in the greek pantheon way. The temples of the goddesses were burnt and pillaged, the kings forced to bow. Those of the party who enjoyed the chaos revelled, those with morals left the boat behind, Kithri the halfling slipping off to garden and raise sabre-toothed tigers elsewhere, Firstborn teleporting back to Fassulia to atone and work on the side of law, mourning the lost friendships the Civil War had ruined, Thirbaek and his wife the High Incarceratrix used a sunshard and miracles to have a vampire-dwarf-sunchild and started a new pantheon and went on to rule Stonefast 2 in other lands, Grift died and joined said pantheon as a new incarnation of Kispiritis, and so on. The islands fought back, but frankly, Lungfungus's world was not meant to deal with level 7-8 adventurers with a wide variety of spells and multiple spellcasting systems, especially when supported by arguably the most powerful faction there.

However, the victory-drunk party did not heed the hint that they may be succumbing to hubris when the previously pissed off wizard got a good lightning bolt off, and did not correlate characters leaving them to their capabilities weakening. After the final temple was burned and the Cyclops were freed, they sailed to the forbidden Isle of the gods, slapped around some fantasy creatures, then picked a fight with 13 lions lazing under a tree.

After round 3 arrived and half the party was dead,

This is how a high (for OSR) level campaign ends- hubris, and cats

The survivors retrieved a teleport scroll from a corpse, and tried to teleport out. The teleport landed on the 100 result, the dreaded 1% chance to teleport yourself into rock and die (though we left it open to interpretation that they ended up in the Veins or another plane of existence) and so ended the campaign, on a wild but somewhat anticlimactic note Those players who had quit while they were ahead got happy endings at least.

I was gladdened to hear feedback that the 22 sessions of Thiefboat were satisfying to players though. It was not a glorious story, it was a tragedy of the corruption of power, hubris, and how fractures in interpersonal relationships go deep. What did I learn from Thiefboat?

1. High level play is strange, with its teleportations and flight and so on. Verisimilitude-wise, GMs must think of how cities and rival wizards will defend themselves from obscure methods of attack like, say, 2000-foot long dragon turtle shells being dropped from the sky, or magical arson. But things are still dangerous, and reliance on the big obvious tools can leave the players blind to the fact that they have 23 HP and that can go away from 3 dudes with arrows in one round.
2. Boat travel can be hard to make interesting without succumbing to the temptation of  shipwrecks and krakens. One of the more interesting things was the homicidal Captain Arsem secretly engineering a mutiny as an excuse to kill the 3 crew his madness demanded die to save the future from the prophecy, only to have that mutiny coopted by the vampires who had snuck aboard a while ago. While that's a rather extreme example, social scenes with people on a boat have a lot of potential, as can problems like 'how to get rid of plague rats' or 'find out who is drinking all the rum' or 'secure limes' and so on.
3. Player attrition, especially on open tables, may be inevitable as the scope of campaigns shift away from what originally drew them. Part of why Castle Nowhere/Oroboro/Thiefboat lasted as long as it did was thanks to player recruitment persisting so even when some players had to leave, there were usually some waiting to take their place.

Anyway, player numbers had dropped from 'open table' to more 'single party of regulars' by the end of thiefboat, so it was time to move on, and time to do something a little different (no no, we aren't at Lancer yet)

BETRAYAL AT QUEENS COAST

 
As a change of pace,  Betrayal was a game in a more idyllic, Shrek-like realm. Having read a great deal of Otome manga such as Bakarina I wanted to have a shorter more storygame style game where the players would be expelled from the Queen's Court and have to clear their name, gain the support of the provincial lords, and return to turn the tables on their nemesis Alicce Von Dumandred. The players had a pretty good time, though the single-group model as opposed to open table immediately showed its weaknesses as players couldn't make sessions, which led to cancelled sessions, which led to lower investment, and I knew its days were numbered... which was fine, as it was a palate cleanser more than anything. The players had to sleep in a haunted manor, saved a nun wedding from Alf Lords after diamond shoes, bullied Good Doctor Ogudugu, had intrigue with and married a Frog Prince, helped on eof Alicce's cronies throw off her influence and accept herself as a centaur, visited the castle of the Dark Lord in the Wurderlands (within an anarcho-communist city of mutants, in stark contrast to the feudal human-central lands of Queen's Coast), infiltrated the manor of Alicce Von Dumandred and had the dreamy Prince of Saresare seduce Alicce(or be seduced?) so they could escape with the party's Gothic Villain's imprisoned one true love, and had exciting dance parties with opaque rules. It was all very fun, though the final dance party conclusion never came together due to scheduling conflicts, but the conclusion was mostly foregone at that point- the party had restored their honor, and Alicce's misdeeds had been brought to enough light that she would flee to Saresare with the Prince (The mysterious foreign prince subplot with a wicked foreign bride and ulterior motives from both of them be good fuel for a potential future campaign)

Whimsical castle Daotengard, overtaken by demon-frogs and a contagious froggification curse


Anyway! I learned a few things here
1.Turning social scenes into more gamified spaces (I had a 'Dance Pentagon' where entering exposed you to various NPCs who could help or hinder you, attacking HP intentionally or unintentionally via mean words or simple dance exertion, but you had to do it to get private conversations) can help to make them feel like they have timing and stakes compared to just 'you talk at NPCs for 12 hours.' Just roleplaying via chat is fine too of course, but I think making weird social games based on positioning and resource management (spare dresses if wine is spilled on you!) is better than making them about rolling a skill check for Diplomacy or what have you.
2. Similar to wolf moons, this was a bloated disaster of houserules... having received the DCC RPG book as a gift from a player, I eagerly sought to add it to the game... on top of GLOG casting... on top of all my other houserules to BFRPG... on top of a mixed level up system using both BFRPG GP=XP and Die Trying X's and DCC's model... suffice it to say that this abominable frankenhack would have been better served by leaping into the nearest dumpsterfire and leaving us to play Fate or PbtA or a proper story game. We squeezed great roleplay and schemes despite the system, and used the system for a few janky heists and dungeon delving for coin, but it was really a ball-and-chain, especially the XP thing. We survived 22 sessions under its yoke, but I could feel my bloated house-rules coming apart at the scenes as it barely supported the story-game mode of play on it.

coins to XP is an elegant system IF you stick to the prescribed purpose of dungeons and dragons as a dungeon delver. This campaign departed far from those goals, but really made me think of the limitations I was working under. In short, I needed an OSR break to ponder what to do rules-wise upon my return. I dread subjecting players to a homebrew rulebook after the disasters of Wolf Moons's Nightmare Glog, but I think I have reached the point where 'BFRPG with houserules' is something I can only run if I return to very bare-bones 'delve the megadungeon!' campaigns, and even if I do that, I need to make a definititive houserules/setting primer document.

Anyway, I'm running and playing in Lancer games at the moment, and we'll see how long that phase lasts, and if I return to OSR immediately, or if my 'break' continues to run some storygames. However, even Lancer takes place in the same setting (after a fashion) so I hope to continue stacking layer upon layer of lore regardless of what the system is.

No proofreading, only post

Friday, April 23, 2021

Lancer NPCs as Biomonstrosities

 So Lancer is a pretty cool game I've been playing/running recently, lots of tactical crunch and charop but in a less oppressive way than other systems. Maybe it's just the fact that comp/con exists to track character sheets- I'd be harder pressed to run/play the game without that wonderful service.

It has great visual support thanks to a 3rd party, retrograde minis, that has little art/tokens not just for the players, but for the NPC enemies too.

But there was one thing I was missing- Lancer supports fighting giant kaiju monstrosities (Never sapient alien species mind you, its a design goal to avoid being Starship Troopers) but the Monstrosity-type NPC is mostly just a 'rargle blargle eat your face' type enemy where the only real counterplay is to shoot it before it turns you to scrap.

But I wanted art for all the other NPC types flavored as biological, so I made 'em myself.

In campaign, these are engineered warbeasts, half genetically modded slime mold, half nanite. They are brainless, controlled by cocktails of pheromones and code, and are not even sentient, let alone sapient, and may or may not be piloted by humans or operating on remote commands. They are solar powered, but for bursts of growth/reproduction they can consume both organic and technological objects to produce self-sustaining squads that were designed to be analogous to modern fireteams.

Included is a KRX, a similarly bioengineered organism that serves as a false pilot (in truth piloted by humans of the lumarian papacy) that is a combination of the linked post and my own brain-eating/replacing wasps of the Autumn Moon, but that's just lore for my own campaign and should be disregarded for your own if you snag these critters. Also, a Keeper of Days, a clockwork mech that was a homebrew frame and reference/vector to the ever-present Kind-As-Night entity within this setting, which again you probably should disregard.

Anyway, here's a link to the actual monstrosities for use in ya own games


https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yNUdHoF-3yGQIvi1WVDRSHffBdMuUMSw/view?usp=sharing