Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monster Ecology: From Rot Grub to Carrion Crawler

One of the most feared creatures for a party of adventurers to encounter by surprise is the infamous Carrion Crawler. This tentacled caterpillar shaped beast stalks through dungeons in search of corpses to eat. Reaching as much as 9' in length at maturity, the crawler is nothing to trifle with.
When Crawlers are ready to reproduce they gather in groups, known as horrors, of up to 6 members, to seek out living hosts to paralyze and into which they lay clutches of hundreds of eggs. Carrion Crawlers are hermaphroditic both fertilizing and laying eggs. Once all members of the horror have deposited eggs into separate hosts they go their own ways and exhibit no parental care of the resulting offspring.

The warmth of the helpless victim triggers the eggs to begin hatching almost immediately to begin devouring the host. These tiny ravenous larva are what we know as Rot Grubs. The larva are highly competitive, racing to eat their path to vital organs and fighting each other to the death for dining rights.

What begins as hundreds of fingernail sized hatchlings dwindles as they consume the living host and each other. As their numbers drop into the dozens the grubs have grown to finger length and nearly twice the girth.

Competition continues over what remains of their now long dead host. Remaining grubs strike out in small groups seeking fresh carrion or warm living bodies to eat.
Upon reaching roughly the size of a human forearm the individual grubs find shelter to begin the next stage in their development. Within a chrysalis the grub transforms into a miniature version of their eventual adult form, the Carrion Crawler.

In their new form they have become dangerous hunters far more mobile and armed with paralytic venom capable of stopping even the largest of prey.

Because of the dangerous nature of both the Rot Grub and the Carrion Crawler, neither form has a natural predator other than those of their own kind.

Rumor is that deep in the Under-realm enterprising tribes of humanoids have trained crawlers as war mounts, but no evidence of this is known. Such a practice seems too hazardous to be worth the required effort.

Among deep tribes tales of enormous Carrion Crawlers persist, though it is unlikely they exist at those sizes.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pearls of Wisdom: Do oozes create pearls?

We know that oysters create pearls by coating irritants in material to ease the discomfort. Could the same be said of oozes?

Typically an ooze dissolves most objects into a form they then devour for sustenance. The remainder is then ejected from their body to be left in their wake as they continue the perpetual search for more food. But what if tiny particulates sometimes remained, unpassed inside the body of the ooze? Might leftovers of very tiny, dust-like size remain and perhaps act as irritants?

While most oozes would conceal these minute treasures within their opaque membrane, the Gelatinous Cube would be an exception. Older cubes might gradually accumulate clouds of encased particles which if observed in sufficient lighting would help reveal their presence.

 Thousands of these little pearls could be carried about until large enough to be expelled by the creature. Following a trail of pearls through a dungeon or cavern might lead adventurers into great danger as they encounter what looks like a reflective star field ahead in the darkness.

Treasure comes in many forms, but the wise remain cautious about the source and oozes would be a dangerous source indeed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What were we talking about?

Over the absence from the blog quite a bit has happened. Most of it is boring and not worth a mention, but there are some recent points that could use effort to try and restart the writing bug.

The West Marches campaign continues.

There have been 5 character deaths (6, see below *) and of the original starting characters 2 are still active.

The player group recently peaked at 9 plus the DM. Shortly afterward some real life issues appear to have resulted in 3, maybe 4 players having to step away from the game. The remaining group of players put forward an invitation to some other people to consider joining the game.

* The party murdered one of their own to cover up their effort to help an NPC sneak away without anyone noticing for at least a few days.  This threw me for a loop. As a DM I have experienced conflict within parties that resulted in killing of characters, and while annoying when it happens without good reason this one feels very different. The character was the one of the newest player, new both to the group and to table-top rpgs who had shown an enthusiasm for the game. The player cannot attend frequently, but it seemed unfair to the player for the party to write her character out and not confirm that she was ok about the decision.

We will see how it goes tonight at the game.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery - Star Trek in Name Only

My two paragraph ST; Discovery review 

*** spoilers*** 

I'm stunned at how much I pretty much hate everything about this show. The plot was full of holes, and the cinematography gave me a headache. The "Micheal' character is a Mary Sue, the Vulcans can communicate telepathically over thousands of light years, the 'Klingons' actions don't make any logical sense. Why did they decide to follow Vos..... or whatever his name was, other than it was in the script? "Let go to war with the Federation.. those guys are assholes!" Other Klingons, "You're not even on the council, who the F.... are you?".. "I'm the guy that found a ship and stuff, and I say lets fight these guys! Oh yeah, prophecy and stuff" .... The rest of the Klingon houses for no apparent reason, "Mmm.. yeah, sounds good!" Every time they spoke Klingon it was over enunciated, and laborious to listen to. The Fed Captain.... like hangs out in space just ... what a few hundred feet from the massive klingon vessel that decloked out of nowhere off the starboard bow?" How about an 'evasive maneuver' captain?" Nah.. we'll just float statically right here. What could go wrong?" 

I was not a fan of the 'odd angle/ 1960s batman hurky jurky, lens flared... shades of JJ Abrams camera work. That's a matter of personal taste... it just seemed like.. "Oooh.. look how creative and edgy we're being'. Style for the sake of style. I don't really care about 'the uniforms', or the 'Transporters aren't the same' or any of that. IF the story and characters are interesting, I'm in. It WAS well acted... The awkward klingon speech was just... weird. It wasn't spoken like a people who grew up with the language, but since all of them spoke it that way, I can only conclude that was the direction given to the actors.. which is strange, because it pulls me right out of the story, because I can't help thinking, "Why are they talking so awkwardly?" 

What a wreck

Lens flares! Aaarrrgh! My eyes! Please stop!

What is this suppose to be? A Drow-Klingon?
He looks 'fabulous' doesn't he?
More Lens Flares!

Even MORE lens flares!

Yummy lens flares!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Adventures in Primeval Thule

Over the last month, I've delved into a new campaign setting that I vaguely heard about a few years ago: Primeval Thule from Sasquatch games. The setting is a low magic, savage setting.... if you've seen Conan the Barbarian (1981 version), Beastmaster, any Roger Corman fantasy romp... if you like Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft, you get this setting. A successful Kickstarter to convert the setting to fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons was done in 2015.

Anyway, I had been running a Monday night game on Fantasy Grounds for Castles and Crusades, but some dissatisfaction on my part with certain participants brought that to an end. Interestingly, after talking to one of my players, he suggested physically getting together on Monday nights, and starting something new. I brought Primeval Thule to his attention, and he was immediately excited about it. We were able to recruit three more players, and voila, we had Sesson 0 Monday night, and the players all created their characters together.

It was fun using Fantasy Grounds on the big screen. Everyone got a laugh as they each, in turn, choose their character narratives. We ended up with a Barbarian named Malstrom.. a former Katagian Pit Fighter, A Warlock named Yara the Bearer of the Black Book, a Druid Beastfriend named Edo, And an escaped pleasure slave Rogue who calls herself Seven. Returning from Katagia, Malstrom and Edo were traveling together as Mal returned to his village of Kalvandahar after years of captivity in Katagia. They encountered Seven (On the run from slavers from Marg) and Yara on the same road fighting a group of Cultists of Set who had attacked them... after the merchant caravan they were traveling with was ravaged by Beastmen.

 It was a tough fight, as none of them had fought together before, but with great injury, managed to persevere. Fortunately, they were not that far from Mal's home village, and they made it there before nightfall. Mal's father, Thorgran, the village chieftan was none to pleased to see his errant son, as the boy had run off in search of adventure... with his younger brother. A brother that he ultimately ended up having to kill in the pits of Katagia!

Regardless, as was their custom, the injured strangers, asking for aid were given it. Thorgran told his son, that once he was healed, he was to leave Kalvandahar until he found a way to restore honor to his name. Until then, he would be named Kin-slayer! However, the characters learned from the other villagers as their wounds were tended to that the Cult of Set was a problem throughout the region, and that the cultist were kidnapping young women for some unknown purpose.

Malstrom vowed to regain his honor by destroying the Cult's temple, or die trying. Edo the druid, of course, felt that ridding the jungle of the cultists was a good plan and decided to join the barbarian on his quest. Yara, while not really enthusiastic about it, felt a slight obligation to help since the barbarian had saved his life. In addition, Cults of Set were known to gather ancient secrets of the arcane. Seven, also felt some obligation, since the barbarian had saved her life as well, and, Cults of Set were known to have treasure!

Thus, the four strangers were now enjoined as companions on adventure!

Unfortunately, the Cultists were experts at covering their tracks, and no one knew the temple's location except that due to the raids frequency, it must be located relatively close, but difficult to detect in the dense jungle region. The PC's knew that the Cultists had taken the horses from the ravaged caravan, and deduced that horse tracks would be more challenging to cover than a man's. Thus, after healing, they trekked back to the scene of their battle, and together Edo and Mal were able to pick up the cultist's trail.

It took them a full day, but by night fall, at the beginning of the new moon, they found what they were looking for. Off in the distance, by firelight, shadowy figures danced and chanted atop a massive stone ziggurat, as they performed some type of ritual. A woman's desperate screams rang out in the night, and the characters sprang into action.

With a quick, but rather stealthy storm to the top of the pyramid, the heroes came upon a vile scene. Cultists gathered around a stone alter, daggers in hand, and chained to the thing, a nubile young lass, surely about to meet a horrid and bloody end! The battle was joined, and now, with some idea of their abilities, they worked together to lay the evil Cultists to ruin.

They freed the captive girl Valesska, and learned she was from one of the nearby villages, and that others were being held in the temple. In addition, the stone stairs at the top of the ziggurat, clearly lead downwards into the heart of the temple, and surely more cultist and who knows what else lies within! To be continued next week!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter 5 Snakes and Jade (and corrections)

More beans have been spilled and a big reveal is coming later today.

First a correction, the blood red in the previous post was (to quote Darkest Dungeon's Wayne June) merely a trick of the light.

The design of the final segment of this kickstarter includes a massive amount of jade coloring and incredibly detailed sculpting of pieces.

This new Dwarven Forge set is gorgeous. I'm anxious to see the details in the full release information later today.