Monday, October 27, 2014

Mutant Monday

Grass Devil

No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 2+ (bite, weapon) see below
Damage: 1d8, poison/by weapon/see below
Save: L3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 2120

This grass mutation of the species Saccharum ravennae generally appears as a green snake-humanoid hybrid. Typically they take the form of a four-foot tall, serpent-headed humanoid with a serpentine tail. There are some variations in each Grass Devil however, roll twice on the following table to determine which serpent-like mutations the Grass Devil possesses:
1Cobra hoodToxic Weapon (Spray Poison), replaces bite attack.
2Flexible torsoThe mutant can go through any hole or space he can fit his head through.
3Tendril tail instead of legsMoves at 120' (40').
4Camouflaged leaf patternMore difficult to spot, surprising beings on a surprise check roll of 1-3 on 1d6.
5Carnivorous tendrils instead of armsAdds 2d3 carnivorous mouths (1d4 damage) at the end of flexible tendrils where each arm would be. Cannot manipulate weapons or objects. Attacks increase to 3 (bite, arm bite, arm bite).
6Constrictive tendril tail instead of legsA 3d6 damage constrictive tendril. Cannot manipulate weapons or objects. Attacks remain at 2, but can use constriction instead of bite or weapon.
7Constrictive tendrils instead of armsA pair of 1d6 damage constrictive tendrils that can manipulate objects and wield weapons.
8Constrictive tail tendril in addition to legsA 2d6 damage constrictive tendril. Cannot manipulate weapons or objects. Attacks increase to 3 (bite, constrict, weapon).

Grass Devils are violently opposed to mammalian life and attack it whenever possible. Intelligent and cunning, Grass Devils fight from ambush, create and utilize traps, and seek to use terrain to their advantage. With their Quick Mind mutation, they are quite adept at figuring out and using technological artifacts and almost always possess one or more objects, typically weapons. In addition to whatever weapons they may possess, they also have a class 12 poisonous bite (or poisonous spit if they have the Cobra hood mutation).

Grass Devils inhabit ruins in swamps, rain forests, and jungles. They typically lair in single level buildings, or buildings with "handicap access" ramps.

Mutations: Animal Limbs (arms)*, Full Senses, Free Movement, Toxic Weapon (poison bite)**, Carnivore, Quick Mind
*Animal Limbs (arms) may be replaced by carnivorous or constrictive tendrils.
**Toxic Weapon (poison bite) may be replaced by spray poison.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mutant Monday

A quick note, I may miss the next Mutant Monday post due to some RL issues.

Tiki Terror

No. Enc.: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 1 (fist, weapon, or mutation)
Damage: 2d8/by weapon
Save: L4
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None
XP: 3060

Believed to be a gene-engineered species of Phyllostachys edulis (moso bamboo), these ten foot tall, evil looking humanoids are vicious killers of those who intrude on their woods and forests. They appear as demonic, wood-skinned humanoids, with often grotesquely exaggerated faces, thick arms and legs, and three-fingered stubby hands. No leaves or other foliage mar their appearance.

They are surprisingly difficult to spot in their forest habitats, at a distance of more than 10 yards, a motionless tiki terror is difficult to distinguish from a normal tree, surprising beings on a surprise check roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They prefer remain motionless until intruders approach within range of their Mental Phantom (see Creatures of the Wastelands) power, unless the intruder is using fire or carries an axe or saw, in which case they single out that intruder for their Possession power. If their mental powers are ineffective in removing or killing the intruders, they will physically attack with their fists (40%) or natural wood weapons (60% chance of having one of the following: Roll 1d8: 1 - Quarterstaff, 2 - Spear, 3 - Heavy Mace*, 4 - Great Club*, 5 - Club, 6 - War Mace*, 7 - Maul*, 8 - Tonfa*).

Mutations: Mental Phantom (CoTW), Possession, Free Movement, Full Senses, Animal Limbs (two arms)
*Weapons marked with an asterisk can be found in Wisdom from the Wastelands #21.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mutant Monday

This is the first in a short selection of Fearsome Critters and Cryptids that I feel are appropriate (and fun) for post apocalyptic settings.


No. Enc.: 3d4 (3d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1+2
Attacks: 1 (butt or bite)
Damage: 1d4, 1d4
Save: L1
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None
XP: 21

Jackalopes are hybrid jackrabbit/deer carnivores. Appearing as a brown- or grey-furred hares about two feet long with deer antlers extending from the head for up to another foot in length. They are typically found in plains, prairies, scrub deserts, alpine meadows, and savannah woodlands and their lairs are flattened nests of grass or shallow depressions in the earth.

Jackalopes attack in waves of 1d6 members, with two or three such waves forming a swarm. With their significant ability to leap up to 20' in one bound, they typically attack prey by leaping from ambush in waves of antler butts. On an attack roll of 19 or 20, the target must make a saving throw vs Stun Attacks or be knocked down. Any target that gets knocked down will be attacked by bites from the wave on the following round.

These creatures have an incredible vocal ability, allowing them to imitate a range of noises and voices. They can sound as a man, woman, child, animal, or other creature, and can even sound like an audio or video recording being played back. While not really sentient, they can reproduce just about any sound they hear, and have been known to reproduce the sounds of creatures that are in pain or sick, repeat specific names, and even imitate the specific voices of those that they hear. Jackalopes generally use this ability to lure prey into approaching within attack distance.

Mutations: Aberrant Form (Natural Weapons)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mook Hit Points

Way back, when I first started playing D&D, I felt that Hit Dice was a bit of a pain to use. Sure it gives you a relative value of toughness (coupled with AC at least) of a "monster," but, unlike AC, it was a variable number, not a static number that was easy to use. So the first thing I did was establish a way to quickly convert Hit Dice to Hit Points for ease of use. The thing is, as any gamer that's been playing for a while probably knows, dice rolls have an average number. For example, the average result of rolling 1d6 is 3.5, 2d6 is 7, 3d6 is 10.5, so on and so forth. (Though, I'll admit, I'm still not entirely up on how the statisticians arrive at those results, I just go with it.) For 1d4 the average result is 2.5, for 1d8 its 4.5, for 1d10 its 5.5, 1d12 is 6.5, 1d20 is 10.5, so on and so forth (it's easy to know once you see the pattern). In our case, Hit Dice are generally represented by 1d8. By knowing the average result (which, in case it isn't obvious, is NOT the same as the average roll), you can immediately establish the average number of hit points for any creature using Hit Dice. Unfortunately, unless you round the average off, most creatures with an odd number of Hit Dice won't end up with a whole number of hit points. So in the case of a 1HD orc, the average would be 3.5 hit points. Following common rounding rules ("round half up" is the term I believe is used) any value of .5 would round up to the nearest whole number, giving the AVERAGE 1HD orc a total of 4 hit points.

So, by following this simple math, you can instantly generate the average hit points for a whole group of monsters without having to roll for each individual one. However, say you want to include some basic variation in your group of monsters, again, without having to roll a whole bunch of dice for each and every individual monster in a group. That's when I started thinking about how to make generically "stronger" or "weaker" individuals without having to roll their specific hit points. So I came up with a semi-simple compromise that lets me (fairly) quickly roll up some variable hit point individuals without just giving them all average hit points.

Kinda Quick Hit Points Determination (Roll 1d6):
Roll Type 1 HD 2 HD 3 HD 4 HD 5 HD 6+ HD
1 Skirmisher Mook hp = 1 hp = 2 hp = 3 hp = 4 hp = 5 hp = #HD
2 Mook hp = 2 hp = 4 hp = 6 hp = 8 hp = 10 hp = #HD + 1 HD
3 Upgraded Mook hp = 3 hp = 6 hp = 9 hp = 12 hp = 15 hp = AVG hp - 1HD
4 Elite Mook hp = 5 hp = 10 hp = 15 hp = 20 hp = 25 hp = AVG hp - 1HD
5 Lieutentant Mook hp = 6 hp = 12 hp = 18 hp = 24 hp = 36 hp = Max hp - 1HD
6 King Mook hp = 8 hp = Max hp hp = Max hp hp = Max hp hp = Max hp hp = Max hp

Max hp = Hit Dice x 8.
AVG hp = 4.5 x the number of Hit Dice (rounded up).
#HD = the number of Hit Dice as hit points (i.e. a 7HD creature would have a value of 7).
When adding or subtracting 1HD from the results, this can be any number you choose (or choose to roll), for example, you could add or subtract 1 hp, average hp (5 in this case), or full hp (8) from the hp already determined.
For creatures (like say a creature with 6+1 HD or a creatures with 3-1 HD) just add or subtract the modifier after determining the hit points.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mutant Monday

Red Tide

No. Enc.: 0 (1d2)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
          Swim: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 2 (bite, tail)
Damage: 2d8, 1d8
Save: L2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None
XP: 650

These serpentine creatures are a heavily bio-engineered form of Karenia brevis, the dinoflagellate responsible for the "Red Tide" harmful algal bloom found along the Gulf Coast. A Red Tide appears as a reddish or pinkish serpent, approximately 120' long and 12' in diameter. The head appears as a distinctive bulge containing a large mouth and no discernible eyes.

Typically found near the surface of the ocean, attacking prey from behind or underneath, detecting their victims by motion. They may attack with both a bite and a tail slap in 1 round. If a Red Tide’s bite attack roll is at least 4 higher that the roll needed to hit (or a 19 or 20 are rolled), a victim is swallowed. A being that is swallowed takes 3d6 hit points of damage per round inside the Red Tide’s belly. The damage stops when the character dies or the Red Tide is killed.

Red Tides can also use their powerful bodies to create a small, but powerful wave in the water, similar to a tsunami. This wave propagates out to the side of the Red Tide covering an area 60' by 60'. Everyone in that area must make a save versus energy attacks or take 2d6 points of damage and be submerged. Those that save just take 2D6 damage. Against ships and boats the wave does 2d6 shp and has a 80% chance of capsizing a galley-sized or smaller vessel and a 50% chance of capsizing a sailing ship.

Mutations: Abnormal Size (Gigantism), Carnivore, Free Movement

Sargasso Sulfinator

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: None
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: See below
Damage: 1d8 swat, 2d10 crush
Save: None
Morale: None
Hoard Class: XIX (x2)
XP: 1020

A mutated species of Sargassum seaweed that has evolved into a carnivore. A Sargasso Sulfinator is composed of a collection of 4d6 brown seaweed fronds with grape-like gas-filled bladders surrounding a central core. Appearing as a normal mass of sargasso, 1d20x10' in diameter, floating on the surface. Because of this, beings must make a surprise check roll of 1-3 on 1d6 to notice the danger posed by Sargasso Sulfinators. The mouth of the creature is hidden near the the center of the mass.

When prey approaches, a Sargasso Sulfinator attacks with 1D4 of it's fronds. If prey is hit, the creature will attempt to drag the victim into its huge mouth. It takes two rounds for the victim to reach the mouth, and five rounds later the victim is completely digested by the immensely powerful digestive agents within. Each frond can receive 6 points of cutting damage before being severed; severed fronds regenerate fully in 2d6 days.

In addition to physical attacks, if the creature takes damage, there is a 50% that several gas bladders will be punctured, releasing a toxic cloud of gas (Class 7 poison) in a 30' radius.

Mutations: Toxic Weapon, Prehensile Tendrils (Constrictive), Carnivore


No. Enc.: 1 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
          Swim: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4
Save: L2
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: XXI
XP: 355

Mutated versions of Macrocystis pyrifera, these aquatic creatures can be found lairing among vast seaweed beds among the coasts. About 14 feet in total length, Sirenweeds appear, from the waist up, as green or brown skinned humanoid females, with long, flowing hair. From the waist down, generally underwater where it can't be seen, the body appears as a long sea serpent, with a long narrowing tail, covered in long, delicate fins, and ending in a wide, fan-shaped fluke.

Sirenweeds generally attack by using their Captivate mutation to lure in victims, which they then drag underwater to be drowned and consumed. Against aquatic prey, they instead pummel the victim to death.

Mutations: Animal Limbs, Captivate (new), Carnivore, Free Movement, and Full Senses

NEW MUTATION (Beneficial Mental Mutation)
This mutation allows the mutant to produce an invisible field that is enticing to all living creatures. The radius of the field is 50 feet and any creature inside the area of effect must make a save vs. energy or be so enticed will stay as close to the mutant as possible and try to protect it, even to the point of fighting other creatures that draw near. Every 5 rounds anyone enticed by the field may make another saving throw. Until the victim is successful, he will stay near the mutant until he dies from drowning, dehydration, or starvation (whichever comes first).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Early Morning Adventure Thoughts

I recall a post on some blog somewhere (though I can't remember where) which discussed the author's use of the module S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks in Gamma World games. That got me thinking about reusing other old modules in post apocalyptic games. So I decided to look at several old D&D/AD&D modules and see if I could "convert" them into something fitting in a post apocalyptic setting. In no particular order:

DL1 Dragons of Despair - Yes, I know, many people dislike this series because of it's railroad nature, however, throwing away the rest of the series and just using the basic themes, ideas, and areas of this module, with some modification strikes me as being playable. Afterall, it's not like the setting isn't post apocalyptic when you come right down to it. However, let's look at some ways to tweak this module into something useable for a PA game set in a post apocalyptic Earth. First let's change the regional map of the Solace Region. Ironically, there don't need to be as many changes as one might think. First rotate the map 180 degrees so that "Qualinesti" is in the north. Doing this gives us a map of a region with a major forest to the north, plains to the south (south west, but go with it), sea and swamp beyond the plains and a small mountain range, and towering mountains to the east. Well I can think of a place in North America that fits that description well enough to be used, Washington State (more or less), heck you could even probably use California or Oregon if you really wanted to, come to think of it, you could probably use the state of New York as well (and those are all from the USA). So now you've got a PA region of Earth to work with, the rest follows without much in the way of major changes. Solace represents a post apocalyptic community living among giant mutated trees, Qualinesti (though it doesn't come much into play in this module) as a forest of forest-dwelling mutants, the Darken Wood as a mutated forest full of fey mutants and possibly robot remnants from the apocalypse, Haven as a pure human safehold (or possibly dome city), the Plains of Abanasinia as grasslands or wastelands full of nomadic tribals (being attacked by armies of whatever villainous mutant species you care to make the antagonist), and the swamp and Xak Tsaroth as whatever major sunken city you want to use (such as Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Albany, etc.). Now change the major macguffin from the Disks of Mishakal into something more technological, like say Microsoft Operating System discs and you're pretty much good to go. Mutants, tribals, pure human techs, ancient robots (kiss gully dwarves goodbye, say hello to Roomba ver 12.6), lost technology, ancient ruins (and cool ones at that), what's not to love?

B2 Keep on the Borderlands - This one should be a no-brainer to convert. Post Apocalyptic survivalist/militia group compound and nearby small town ruins (the titular "Caves of Chaos"...though these could also be mines, an old military research facility, experimental geofront, or even regular caves). A couple of basic things of note though. One the rumor table would have to be slightly reworked, though not by much. For example, the "merchant" could be a water merchant, wandering wasteland merchant, ammunition merchant, arms merchant, etc. The "powerful magic-user" could become a psychic, robot, cyborg, or some other powerful menace. The magic wand could be a firearm or energy weapon. Altars could become some electronic device (televisions or music speakers for instance). "Piles of magic armor" could become power armor. The rest of the humanoid specific rumors could easily be modified (although "dog-men" and lizard-men really need no change) into humanoids from Mutant Future, goblins becoming Higher Baboons, bugbears becoming Pumpkin Men, the ogre becoming a Goliath, the elf becoming an Eloi, and of course, orcs becoming Pigmen. Kobolds could be Cockroahoids, Hobgoblins becoming Morlocks, the Minotaur could be a mutant cow or bison, the gnolls could be medusoids, etc. Of course, it should be obvious that references to magic items should change to technological items, with magical armor becoming advanced armor, magical weapons becoming either advanced melee weapons, or, more likely, firearms and energy weapons (though I think energy weapons are better represented by magic wands/rods/staves). Scrolls could be power sources or explosives, potions would likely be variuos chems and medical items, rings and miscellaneous magic as "Gizmos", etc.

X1 The Isle of Dread - One of my personal favorites (and I think, slightly better done than WG6 Isle of the Ape though I don't think it's difficult to combine the two modules to get the added King Kong effect of giant carnivorous apes fighting dinosaurs). This one is fairly easy if you want to have your own post apocalyptic Jurassic Park thing going. Heck, just replace the Kopru with psychic fishmen, brain lashaers, or humanoid masses, the aranea with spidergoats, the rakasta with catmen of your choice, and phanatons with mutant gliding mammal (such as a flying squirrel, colugo, galago, flying lemur, or greater glider) and you're set. (allowing for the magic item substitutions noted above.)

B4 The Lost City - Another favorite module of mine. This one requires a bit more work to convert than some of the others, but I think concepts of arcologies, dome cities, geofronts, hyper towers and so forth, combined with the typically common post apocalyptic desert wasteland makes for a lot of playability. For an interesting twist, change the three Cyndicean cults into Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (or cargo cult/debased versions thereof, making as many changes as you see fit to avoid offending people) and the cult of Zargon a Cthulhu type cult (no real change there), add in some 60s psychedilic drug culture, and go gonzo with it.

FRC1 Ruins of Adventure - Another easy to convert module of great utility. Clear out the ruins of some ancient city so it can thrive again. Slums, no problem, choose your poison, raider gangs or mutants (or both). Sokol Keep, go robots/cyborgs or fishmen (or some other aquatic humanoid mutant). Kudo's Well, easily a major raider band controlling a fresh supply of water. Podal Plaza provides tons of fun, with an auction, temples (to whatever cults you want), and a "raider" bar for all your bar brawl needs. The Textile House gives us mutant humanoids and political intrigue. Mendor's Library can easily be used for knowledge recovery quests. Kovel Mansion provides plenty of loot caches and thieves. The Wealthy District has some mutant dark cult foes. The Temple of Bane is obviously the HQ of a cryptic alliance or mutant dark cult. Valhingen Graveyard gives you your zombiepocalypse fix (personally, I'd throw some other undead type critters or pseudo-undead in there as well...nothing says vampire like a blood drinking mutant cannibal...though I gotta admit, incorporeal undead are a harder sell in a PA setting). Stojanow Gate is where some serious decisions have to be made. After all, depending on what you chose for the Big Bad, you'll have to figure out what minions you want. As a simple exercise, let's say the Bane "faction" is a mutant death cult (regardless of what you chose for the Temple of Bane block of the city), the giants are Goliaths and Medusoids, mages are brain lashers, the false Tyranthaxus is a skin stealer, and the gnolls and trolls are pumpkin-men and vile slashers respectively. Of course the hedge maze is also populated by various killer plants. For a change of pace, switch around the city blocks so they are in different locations than on the map.
The Wilderness outside of Phlan also provides lots of utility. They Pyramid is obviously the lair of a mad scientist or robot factory. The dragon could be a pro-restorationist AI. The Kobold Camp, Buccaneers, and Nomad Camp are all pretty easy to convert. Zhentil Keep can easily be a mutant supremacist or pure human supramicist stronghold.

FRC2 Curse of the Azure Bonds - Another module that requires quite a bit of conversion. Mostly in deciding what five factions (i.e. cryptic alliances) you want to harrass your characters. Given that most Cryptic Alliances have vastly differing goals, I recommend using an expanded selection of cryptic alliances/post apocalyptic cults such as Gamma Cryptic Alliances to give you a lot more useable options. Personally, in keeping with the basic theme of the module, I recommend a raider band to represent the Fire Knives, a robot or cyborg cryptic alliance to represent the Red Wizard, a mutant plant PA cult to represent Moander, pure human supremacists to represent Zhentil Keep, and a mutant supremacist for Tyranthraxus. (Obviously each faction has its own goals, and they all think they are using the others for their own ends, which means plenty of opportunities for backstabbing and betrayals.) The main problem here is how to replicate the "magical" Azure Bonds themselves. I think that while some form of psychic control is possible, it's not very likely given my suggested usage of pure humans and robot/cyborgs. Nanotechnology or some sort of Snake Plisken virus might do the trick, also bio-engineered parasite/symbiote would also work, or computer chip implant controls (for example, the type from Terminator Salvation). Better yet, a combination of all of the above, each requiring a different method of removal would be a particularly fun trick. Lastly, the problem exists in just what the goal of each of these factions is.

I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City - Obviously a no-brainer, heck you could probably keep the monsters as is for the most part, and just make each section of the city that they control the focus of some pre-apocalypse loot cache such as a national guard armory, police station, hardware store, library, computer center, supermarket, hospital, etc. to determine what kind of loot would be scavenge-worthy. I suppose that the ruined city could either be the result of an earthquake, sinkhole, sunken dome city/arcology, or geofront if you really wanted to.