Saturday, January 22, 2022

OSR: A Giant Revision (part 1)

This post is a revision of my original post on Giants.  It borrows some ideas, but this is the new and definitive lore, or until I think of something better.  There will be a part 2 coming at some point in the future, covering the rest of the Giants.  

by W nan

Horrible monsters, massive creatures born from the womb of the world, Giants are lumbering brutes that terrorize civilization.  The Giant is a monster feared as much as the Dragon, if not more so.  For while a Dragon is difficult to slay and can live for centuries, they are reclusive and solitary.  Giants, on the other hand, almost always dwell in groups.  While a Dragon might colonize a vast stretch of territory and transform it into a Desolation, another name for the sovereign territory of a Dragon, marked in the same font as the Kingdoms of Man, their impact is limited as there is still only one Dragon.  Giants, by contrast, put down roots when they settle.  They build homes, have children and set their servants to rearranging the area as they see fit.  

Giants have their own languages and culture, though much of it is hidden from the eyes of mortals.  They worship and practice secret rites far from the little folk.  You will likely never see it, but they live just like us.  They have families and children, villages and towns.  They farm and build, laugh and weep just as we do.  And though Giant Tribes vary from place to place and by variety, the one thing they have in common is that they hate us.

Base Giant Statblock:

Damage Threshold 10
AR none
Atk Giant Weapon (-4, 2d10) or Thrown Object (3d6, save for half)
Mor 13
Saves 15 (7) or less

Damage Threshold: Unless an attack does damage that equals or exceeds a Giant's Threshold, ignore it as if it did no damage.  If it does, the Giant loses 1 SHP.  It has SHP equal to it's Damage Threshold.  When it has 0 SHP, it dies.

Giant Weapon: If the Giant is fighting with a weapon that is sized for Giants or other large creatures, they get -4 to all Attack rolls against any creature smaller than Large.  On a hit, however, they do not subtract this penalty from the damage rolled.  Giants also have weapons used for fighting smaller creatures, but these do not do as much damage.

Thrown Object: As an action, a Giant can throw something large and heavy at a creature.  That creature and any adjacent creatures take 3d6 damage, with a DEX save to take half damage.  Creatures with 16 or more DEX on a successful save take no damage and half on a failed save.

Tactics:
- March in and target the most important looking human
- Crush your enemies with overwhelming force
- Be arrogant and overconfident

 by Adrien Smith

Hill Giants:

Number Appearing: 1d6+1
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Languages: The Lingua Franca and Giantish
Treasure: Tools and weapons from people they have eaten are piled up carelessly in corners of their hovels.  Along with those, you will find huge garments made of fine fabrics and obscene qualities of extremely high-quality food and drink. 

According to the Imperial Cult, when the world was destroyed in the Great Deluge, their God Marzan slew the Dragon-Mother and used her body to repair the world, creating the land out of her corpse and mixing her blood with tears to create the seas.  But as he did this, some of the Dragon-Mother's energy remained in her body.  Without her to control that energy, it leaked out of her in random ways.  This is part of the explanation for earthquakes and volcanoes, as well as for other natural disasters.  Most people don't know about the Elementals, you see.

One of those random ways that her power leaks out is in the creation of the Giants.  Some of her remaining life-force will spill out and give life to the stones, creating the Giants.  These creatures, though intelligent, embody the primeval desires left in the bones of the Dragon-Mother.  This is part of the explanation for why Hill Giants are always so hungry.

They aren't as tall as other Giants, but tend to be twice as wide.  They tend toward fatness, most being broad and stout.  Their blubber ripples as they waddle along, hiding their piggy ears and wide mouths that flap open at the slightest opportunity.

Hill Giants are indolent, lazy creatures.  They live in crude shelters and lean-tos or in burrows dug in soft earth, something that is easy to build and maintain.  They wear crude garments made of smaller hides stitched together to form ugly, misshapen patterns.  They rarely make their own tools and only do so begrudgingly.  They avoid any task they find unpleasant or difficult unless there is no other option.  The only thing Hill Giants will work for is their own pleasures.  Hill Giants love sensual pleasures, soft fabrics, good alcohol, delicious food; they will work to obtain these things and spend most of their time trying to obtain or cultivate them.  They will live in holes in the ground and sleep on the dirt while drinking rare wines and wearing fine, soft velvets.   

Hill Giants won't farm, but they will grow grapes to make wine.  They would prefer to steal casks of it from a little folk's cellar, however.  They won't hunt, but they will raise livestock to eventually cook and eat.  Again however, this is unpleasant and they would prefer to raid and steal a head of cattle to roast on skewers rather then raise their herd.  For this reason, Hill Giants are known to oppress and enslave mortals.  The Hill Giant may make some sort of offer to the mortals, exchanging some service in exchange for food, but they prefer crude threats.  If the villagers refuse or resist, the Giants can just eat them too.  For this reason, Hill Giants are often nomadic, wandering from place to place, impoverishing those they meet along the way.

Little folk who fall into the hands of the Hill Giants will find themselves doing all the things the Hill Giants would prefer not to: growing the crops, brewing the alcohol, tending the livestock, making the clothes, etc.  These tasks will usually be overseen by little folk collaborators who follow the Hill Giants and serve them in exchange for the coin of the plundered people- which the Hill Giants hold in contempt.  These mortals handle most of the oppressing and do things that the Giants cannot do.  The Hill Giants protect them in exchange, though if one or two of them goes missing, the collaborators will be expected to handle it themselves.  The Giants utilize such mortals, but they don't like them, holding in vague contempt. 

Yet for all their laziness, their is one task the Hill Giants won't force others to do.  That one task a Hill Giant will not pawn off is cooking.  Hill Giants love to cook- they consider it an art form and work their very best to make the finest cuisine.  Hill Giant food is extremely good, creating feelings of ecstasy in those not used to it.  Their dishes are so good some collaborators serve not for coin but for crumbs of their borderline-magical cooking.  Yet despite the immaculate quality of their dishes, Hill Giants are not as picky as one might imagine.  Should they be hungry enough, they will eat anything that is even remotely edible, from people to treebark.  If they have nothing else, they will also do other strange things, such as eating moss or sucking on rocks.       

Statblock Changes:

Blubber: Hill Giants are covered in thick layers of fat.  They take -4 damage from all sources that deal bludgeoning damage and -2 from all sources that could not easily penetrate the protective padding under their skin.  Only weapons capable of deep penetration, such as a spear or polearm, can bypass this damage penalty. 

Endless Hunger: Hill Giants are always hungry and obsessed with food.  If given the chance to eat something, they must make a Morale check.  If they fail it, they will try to consume what they desire, disregarding all other factors.  Only something truly catastrophic, such as a raging Dragon could dissuade them from this fact.

Artist unknown

Servants of the Hill Giants:

Hill Giants keep coteries of mortal servants with them to aid in their oppression, spying and other activities where having a Smallfolk around is a useful thing.  To see what servants the Hill Giant brought along, roll on the table below:

1d6

1- Bandits.  A group of ruthless men who serve the Giant, collecting tolls and spying on their enemies.  One or more of their group is hiding in the village as a spy.  Their leader is a charismatic former soldier.  He's having them follow the Giant because the Giants protect them from bounty-hunters and lawmen by their mere presence. 
2- Goblins.  Goblins will worship anything, so when the Hill Giants stomped by their caves and ate the Tiger that had been preying on them, their Boss decided the Giants could be a useful tool.  He now styles himself as the Prophet of the Hungry Gods, who the Goblins serve and offer sacrifices too.
3- Kobolds.  The Kobolds have a vendetta against a nearby Dragon and want the Giant's help to exact it.  The Kobold's Chieftain is close to convincing the Hill Giants to move against the Dragons and abandon their current foolish quest.
4- Ogres.  Ogres revere all Giants, but they are most comfortable with Hill Giants, who act as pseudo-parents but also do not demand much from the Ogre and let them continue their lifestyle of eating, sleeping and doing nothing to improve their situation in life.
5- Ghouls.  Perhaps they originally started as a group of Bandits, but the Giants left them nothing but scraps.  Driven by starvation or sadism, they began to feed on mortal flesh in order to survive.  Soon they found that they did it because they enjoyed the taste.  This group is 50% Half-Ghouls and 50% regular Ghouls.  The former act during the day while the latter hide from the Sun and only come out at night.  They are left by a gruesome Death-poet who murders and soliloquizes in equal amounts. 
6- Vampires.  They were mortals once, but after one of their member became a Vampire, the others were infected with the disease or driven away.  Most of the Vampires are newborn, so they lack most of a Vampire's powers, but also their weaknesses.  They perform profane rites and sexual rituals in honor of the Giants, but this is mostly a pretext to do depraved, salacious acts.  They are led by an Elder Vampire who does not participate, having lost his sex drive, but encourages and coddles his 'children'.  The lesser Vampires revere him far more than the Giants, who are simply a useful way to keep themselves safe.

by Chris Rahn

Hill Giant Shaman:

Hill Giants usually group together in family groups, with one being the parent and others being the children.  In other cases, a group of brothers and sisters may travel together, or a Hill Giant may travel with a spouse.  However, such couples are rare, as Hill Giants are famously and shamelessly debauched, engaging in intercourse with each other like rutting beasts, with no consideration of who can see.  They consider monogamy an inconvenience and do not practice it.  Pairings between them are the exception and are more often because of friendship, rather then love.  A male and female Hill Giant who travel together are likely doing it because they find the other convenient, but do not particularly care for the other in a romantic way.  Even if they do, both will usually cheat on the other constantly. 

When Hill Giants travel in larger groups with no common bonds of affection, they are led by the strongest among them, in a crude hierarchy of 'might makes right'.  Often times, those Hill Giants have some measure of magical ability rise to the top, to lead such bands.  In other cases, the Shaman will be a valued member of the group and their advice will be consulted.

Statblock Changes:

Spellcasting: Hill Giant Shamans have Mana Dice equal to their Damage Thresholds.  Their dice burn out on a 5 or 6 and a roll of doubles or triples triggers a roll on the Chaos table below. Hill Giants know 1d4 spells, plus the spells Enchant Food and Stone to Flesh.

Chaos of the Hill Giant Shaman:
1d6

1- The Shaman begins sweating bacon grease for the next minute.  He is extremely flammable for the duration, taking +1 fire damage per die for the same duration.  After a minute, any grease and fire disappears, leaving only the scent of breakfast behind.
2- The Shaman sneezes and a full continental breakfast appears, including sausage, honeycakes, fruit and a skin full of freshly squeezed juice.  It tastes great. 
3- The Shaman is suddenly covered in a suit of rock candy plate mail.  This suit grants 1d20 temporary HP, but takes double damage from bludgeoning damage.  If reduced to 0 HP, it shatters, littering the battlefield with razor chunks of candy. 
4- All the rocks within 100' of the Shaman turn into meat.  Any petrified creatures are restored to their original form.
5- Clouds cover the sky for 1 square mile around the Shaman and begin raining 1d6 [1= Noodles and tomato sauce; 2= Pork products such as ham and sausage with a sprinkle of mustard; 3= Goat cheese and freshly baked bread; 4= Honeycakes and syrup; 5= Whole roasted chickens, turkeys and other edible birds- all creatures should save or take 1d6 bludgeoning damage; 6= Scoops of ice cream complete with hot fudge and cherries.]  
6- The Shaman immediately transforms into a Hill Giant Maw.

from Pathfinder: Giantslayer

Hill Giant Maw:

But while a Hill Giant Shaman can be very useful, they usually have one other important duty.  For while all Hill Giants love to eat, some are afflicted with a type of madness that causes them to compulsively eat everything around them, their hunger growing until it becomes their sole reason for being, obliterating all other thoughts.  This madness can strike a Hill Giant at any point, though it is most common during feasts.  Hill Giant Maws steadily go crazy, their cravings becoming stronger and stronger until they disappear into the abyss of madness and primordial hunger.  A Maw can be anything from slightly mad to a feral beast with no thought beyond chasing down and consuming prey. 

Maws will strip the countryside bare, their appetites bottomless, eating until they are full then collapsing into a deep sleep, only to wake up and do it all again.  If no other easier option presents itself, they will kill and cannibalize other Giants.  For this reason, Hill Giant Maws are hunted down and destroyed by other Hill Giants, especially by their Shamans, who know that nothing good will come from allowing such creatures to continue to live except further misery for all involved.

Statblock Changes:


Compulsive Eaters: Hill Giant Maws will eat anything in front of them, no matter how unappetizing.  If their addled minds can identify it as edible, it will be consumed. 

Biting Teeth: Hill Giant Maws gain a bonus bite attack that does 1d12 damage, with a -2 penalty to Attack when trying to bite anything smaller than a Large creature. 

Great Jaws: If a Hill Giant bites a creature, it can automatically grapple that creature.  On the Hill Giant's next turn, if the grappled creature is at least 2 size categories smaller than the Giant, the Giant may swallow the creature.  The creature may make a STR or DEX check in contest with the Giant's in order to escape.  If it fails, the creature is swallowed whole.  Creatures who are swallowed are blinded, deafened and restrained.  They take 1d6 CON damage a round as they began suffocating and 2d6 acid damage as they begin dissolving.  If this CON damage reduces them to 0, they black out.  Creatures can only make attacks with Quick weapons, unless they are Small, in which case they may also attack with Balanced weapons.  If a Hill Giant Maw takes damage equal to half it's Damage Threshold or greater, it must save or vomit up the swallowed creature.

Plot Hooks:

1d10

1- A Tribe of Hill Giants have enslaved a town and are forcing the people there to supply them with food and drink.  Those who refuse are eaten.  The townspeople are being eaten out of house and home.  There are already shortages and starvation is imminent.  Drive the Giants off please and they will pay you.  But be careful, not only are there Giants to deal with, but also their mortal servants.  Some are obvious, but some of the towns-people are secretly working with the taskmasters in exchange for more food and special privileges.
2- A merchant was expecting a herd of cattle to arrive soon, but it never came.  Track it down and bring it back to him.  When you follow the trail, you will find the cowherds waylaid by Hill Giants, who have taken the entire herd and are slowly eating them.
3- A group of Goblins once tasted a pie made by a Hill Giant and ever since then, they've been obsessed with tasting it again.  Distract the Hill Giant long enough for them to steal one of the pies and they will give you a reward.  This reward will depend on what you can bargain for, for as Folk the Goblins might try to trick you into accepting their offer of half a ton of dung concealed inside colorful boxes, but if you negotiate well you could extract a real boon from them.
4- The mayor of a small town has asked you to investigate why, as all the people sent didn't come back.  The answer turns out to be because of a crude dam build by a Tribe of Hill Giants, who wanted a lake to soak in but were too lazy to go to one of the nearby lakes, or found them unsuitable.  Try and break the dam without provoking their wrath and/or drowning.
5- A Magi wants a magic item that a Hill Giant's servant carries, but he fears the Giants.  He needs your help to distract the Giants.  He has a plan to do so, involving a very large meat pie. 
6- The Lady Tezika, Imperial Goddess of Parties, among other things, has discovered a group of Hill Giants that have stripped a wide area of land bare to create their perfect lunch.  This disgusts the Lady, who feels this is disrespectful to mortals and to her.  She orders you to challenge the Giants to a cooking contest and humiliate them.  And if they die, then that would just be icing on the cake. 
7- A Hill Giant Shaman has a plan to enact a bizarre magical ritual.  No one knows what he's doing, but all agree he needs to be stopped.  Find out what he is doing and foil his ritual.
8- The nearby forest has grown wild and strange, with enormous plants and insects becoming common.  Investigate what's going on and why.  The truth is that this is a Hill Giant Shaman increasing the size of plants, in an attempt to grow larger berries for tea and cakes.  The ritual has gotten out of hand, however, and needs to be stopped before it destroys everything. 
9- Miners in a nearby cave have noticed that the walls of the cave have started turning into slabs of raw meat.  This is attracting carnivores and local predators and has trapped a group of miners in the cave.  Rescue them.  If you take too long, a Family of Hill Giants will show up to harvest the meat and eat anything else they can catch.          
10- A group of Hill Giants were having a feast, but then one transformed into a Maw and went on a rampage, scattering the Giants.  Now the Giant's wealth is currently scattered across their picnic site.  You could make a good deal of money if you acquired some of it, but that would require sneaking past the Maw.  And don't take too long, else the Giants will recover their courage and go after the Maw themselves.

by Jim Nelson

Fire Giants:

Number Appearing: 2d6+2
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Languages: The Lingua Franca and Giantish
Treasure: Fine, if Giant-sized weapons and armor, along with trophies and war-booty taken from defeated enemies, slaves and tools for summoning or controlling various types of creatures.

Fire Giants are the shortest of the Giants, but not as broad as most of their kind.  They move with an eerie grace for creatures so large, flowing across the landscape even as they smash through forests and trample fortresses.  They are not universally red-skinned, but have skin in hues ranging from charcoal to burnished gold, though most are some shade of red.  They are almost all dark of hair and eye, though some of the most fearsome Hill Giant generals have had white hair or eyes of unusual color, such as beaten gold, bright blue or liquid silver.

To adorn themselves, they tattoo their skin with swirling designs, each one intertwined with ritual marks and Giantish glyphs.  Too anyone who has the knowledge, you can read a Fire Giant's entire life on their hide.  The warriors wear armor as well, beautiful pieces inlaid with jewels and flowing, graceful lines.  For all their cruelty, none can deny the artistry of their smiths.

Fire Giant society is defined by too things, a rigid adherence to the ancient hierarchy, or at least what they assume is an accurate representation of that hierarchy, and contempt toward the Smallfolk.  The hierarchy in their society involves the warriors on top and all others arranged in a descending pyramid beneath, ordered according to the Giant's martial sensibilities.  Blacksmiths are second beneath the warriors, followed by other types of artisans, then farmers and fishermen.  Merchants and Nobles are near the bottom, unless those Nobles fight, in which case they are considered warriors.  This can't always save a Noble however, though it will easily save a common soldier.  

Fire Giants distrust Nobles for their rebellious nature and hold merchants in contempt, for merchants produce nothing of value.  The lowest are the Priests, who are regarded as fools.  No one in their society would ever become a priest, so when a Fire Giant conquers a land, the Priests are punished and lowered to the status of their priests.  Fire Giant Priests are all slaves, regularly and ritually humiliated in acts of vengeance by proxy against the hateful Gods. 

These Priests are robed in rags when they are not naked, clad only in jewels and the tattoos on their skin marking them as accursed.  They are spat on and insulted, mocked and rebuked.  They are forced to dance in the streets and humiliate themselves as ones who have no honor.  When they are not doing this, they are ordered to perform silly and pointless rituals, such as stacking goats in a pyramid or running laps around a conquered city while flogging themselves. 

This is because, according to them, the Giant's Gods abandoned them when Marzan the Usurper, the One who Stole the World, attacked their Gods when his armies darkened the sky and broke the ancient pact between God and Man, destroying the First World and casting it into uncertainty.  The Giant's Gods were unwilling to fight back against this and so fled, leaving their children to face the storm alone.  For this, the Fire Giants despise their Gods and claim that should they ever return, they will climb into Heaven to slay them and feed on their bones.  It is the dream of every Fire Giant King to have sufficient strength to invade Heaven and butcher the Usurper's Gods, who are despised as much as their former deities.

So far, none have had the strength.  But that hasn't prevent them from trying.  In the meantime, the Fire Giants have spent their time making life hard for the Smallfolk.  If revenge against the Usurper's Gods is currently impossible, revenge against the subjects and worshipers of those Gods is not.  For this reason, Fire Giants travel in warbands to try and conquer mortals, burning their cities and enslaving them.  Those who swear fealty and spit on their former Gods will have a place in the new order, but the rest will be enslaved, punished or simply crushed and fed to the red beast War.

Statblock Changes:

Fire Giants are immune to fire and fire damage.  High temperatures do not affect them either.

Boiling Blood: A Fire Giant's blood is the same temperature as boiling water.  If a creature injures one in melee combat, that creature must save or take 1d8 Fire damage as they are splashed with boiling blood.                   

Uncontrollable Rage: Fire Giants are constantly seething with a low level of anger.  If ever enraged, they must save.  On a failed save, they fly into a murderous rage and become fixated on destroying whatever angered them.  They keep raging until whatever angered them is dead or they can't see it anymore or they fall unconscious or die. 

Tactics:
- Fight as unit
- Target the largest group or greatest threat
- Be a glory-hound

artist unknown

Servants of the Fire Giants:

1d6

1- Slave-Soldiers.  Mortals who swore allegiance, they are marked with tattoos indicating their ranks and position as those who have sworn to obey.  Slaves in their society can be honored, but the word of a Smallfolk is never considered above a Giant.  They are considered as beasts, if sophisticated ones that can exhibit loyalty and other honorable traits.  The commanders of the Slave-Soldiers will be ruthless Giants assisted by Smallfolk zealots or those who are merely pretending to be true believers.     
2- Skeletons and Zombies.  Undead have many uses- they never need food, sleep or get scared.  They make ideal cannon fodder and can even be used where living soldiers would balk or be rendered useless.  Fire Giant War-Wizards will reanimate large numbers of Smallfolk corpses to use as part of Undead divisions, which are swaddled in dark cloth during the day or sealed in boxes to keep the sunlight from burning them.  Despite the obvious utility of it, no Fire Giant will ever reanimate a Giant corpse, as this is an abomination in their eyes.  Necromancers who dare to do such a thing are hunted as blasphemers.
3- Bound Demons.  Fire Giants will summon Demons and foul spirits to serve them, negotiating strict contracts or using powerful magicks to compel the obedience of such extraplanar beings.  The Demons usually resent this and even those who negotiated their contracts often chafe under the Fire Giant's iron law.  They will usually rebel in subtle ways and try to squirm out of their agreements as much as possible, but rarely take overt action against their superiors/captors.  
4- Gargoyles.  Gargoyles are ideal servants, especially when created through the use of Magic.  Some Fire Giant War-Wizards have learned the secret of creating them and the warbands fortunate enough to employ such scholars use the Gargoyles as scouts, aerial calvary and skirmishers.   
5- Hags.  Hags are highly intelligent and crafty.  They are adept at sucking up to greater powers and few are stronger than the Giants.  So Hags will often attach themselves to a warband of Fire Giants, acting as a spy, assassin or scout for the warband, going where they cannot and keeping an eye on their Smallfolk subordinates for them.  This often works extremely well, and many an unfortunate Fire Giant Sargent has come to the mistaken belief that the Hag is actually loyal to their group.  This rarely ends well for them.
6- Gralei.  The Gralei venerate strength, believing that those who possess great ability, power or talent are those who deserve to rule.  For this reason they greater admire Fire Giants and seek to serve them.  Coupled with the Gralei's mutual desire to avenge themselves upon the people of the Usurper, the Fire Giants find willing and ready allies in these savage birdfolk.

Fire Giant War-Wizards:

Fire Giants despise Priests, but they venerate Magi and Wizards, for they claim that such people have achieved everything they have through their own efforts, not because it was given them by a cruel and distant being, but because they struggled.  Wizards among the Fire Giants are honored and given high places, even if they are Smallfolk.  Fire Giants use their War-Wizards as living artillery, devastating fixed defenses and supporting their brethren with incredible wards and defenses. 

No one knows why Giant Magi are so much more powerful than Magi of other races.  Most Sages think it has to do with their size, but the Giants disagree.  They say it is because they have a natural connection to the Spiritual World, enabling them to cast without the need for spiritual intermediaries such as familiars or spirit pacts, while mortal Magi must scrape and struggle to achieve what they can do with ease.  It is their inheritance, further proof that they are the race destined to rule over the world. 

Statblock Changes:   

Spellcasting: Fire Giant War-Wizards have Mana Dice equal to their Damage Thresholds.  Their dice burn out on a 5 or 6 and a roll of doubles or triples triggers a roll on the Chaos table below.  Fire Giant War-Wizards know 1d3 spells, plus the spells Blade Barrier, Blood Bullets and Scrying.

Chaos of the Fire Giant War-Wizard:
1d6   

1- For 1 square mile around the War-Wizard, clouds fill the sky.  It then begins raining blood.  Anyone with open wounds must save or become infected with a compulsion to fly into a homicidal rage whenever they are injured.
2- The War-Wizard is struck by a lightning bolt that does 1d10*10 lightning damage.  If the War-Wizard survives, he curses the Gods and dares them to try again.  There is a 1-in-6 chance they take him up on the offer.
3- Earthquakes ripple out from the War-Wizard, toppling buildings in a square mile.  All creatures must save to stay on their feet- quadrupel creatures or people on all fours have advantage. These earthquakes last for 1 minute. 
4- A chasm tears itself upon in front of the War-Wizard and blue flames gush from the fissure.  These flames are Hellfire, consuming mana and destroying non-immortal souls, doing 1d20 necrotic damage to anyone who touches them.  Anyone who falls into the chasm while the flames are burning is teleported directly to Sheol.  The flames burn for 1 minute, then disappear, leaving an ordinary fissure in the ground that leads to an ordinary pit. 
5- All dead bodies within 100' of the War-Wizard reanimate and begin screaming, if such a thing is possible.  There is a 50% chance they take the War-Wizard and an equal chance they run away, attacking anything that tries to stop them from fleeing. 
6- The War-Wizard immediately transforms into a Fire Giant Berserker.

New Spells:

Blood Bullets
--------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: up to [dice] creatures    D: 1 action

You take [dice] damage as blood flows from your wounds and forms spherical projectiles that hang in the air.  You can fire these projectiles at up to [dice] creatures.  This requires an Attack roll of 1d20+1d6+[dice].  Enemies who are hit take 1d6+[dice] bludgeoning damage and [dice] fire damage.   

Lava Armor
----------------------------------------------------
R: touch    T: creature            D: 2[dice] rounds

One creature you touch is covered in rock armor that rapidly heats up, turning molten around them.  This gives them [sum] temporary HP for the duration, but causes them to take 6-[dice] fire damage a round.  The armor lasts for the duration or until the temporary HP is expended, after which it crumbles and falls off the creature it is attached to.  The caster can also end the spell early, causing the armor to break and fall off.

If cast with 3 or more [dice], the armor becomes so hot that any creature who touch it with a metal weapon, their metal armor or bare skin take [dice] fire damage.    

Fire Giant Berserker:

Fire Giants all possess an innate and barely controllable rage that is constantly bubbling beneath the surface.  When angered, sometimes they lose control and throw temper tantrums that can level whole towns.  But usually, this rage can be managed and controlled.  Fire Giants practice mortification and meditation to try and control their rage, only venting it when appropriate. But sometimes it just becomes too much.  In the heat of the moment, or when severely injured, a Fire Giant can lose control and his rage can consume him.  This obliterates higher functions, leaving an empty shell only capable of violence and killing. 

Fire Giant Berserkers charge into battle with no tactical consideration or greater plan.  They can recognize friend from foe, usually, but have trouble telling friendly from unfriendly Smallfolk.  They fight fearlessly, not feeling pain or bothering to think past the next sweep of their axe.  They kill and kill and kill until they are dead or the enemy is defeated.  When not in combat, Fire Giant Berserkers are basically useless.  They have the mind of an extremely young child, acting like enormous babies.

They need to be lead by the hand, told to eat and go the bathroom, then put to bed early and comforted.  Great care is taken to not anger them, lest they demolish half the camp before they can be restrained.  A larger warband might keep one around as a terror weapon, but most of the time the Berserkers are just liabilities. 

Their Sargent will usually put something into their wine to make them go to sleep forever.  It's better this way.

Statblock Changes:


Exploding Capillaries: When angry, the Fire Giant sprays blood from his pores.  Every round a creature comes within 30' of the Giant or ends his turn in that same area, he must save.  On a failed save, that creature takes 1d6 fire damage from the spray of boiling blood.

Too Angry to Die: Should a Fire Giant Berserker be reduced to 0 HP, there is a 50% chance that instead of dying he regains 1 SHP and stays alive.     

Fire Giant Plot Hooks:  

1d8

1- A group of Fire Giants are attacking a City.  The City is going to fall unless heroic action is taken right now. 
2- A Fire Giant is upset that a Smallfolk Wizard from among the Slaves has been elevated over him and some of his brethren.  Kill this Wizard for him and he will reward you. 
3- A Fire Giant Berserker is sitting peacefully on a hill, picking flowers.  He wandered here, away from his keepers.  Lead him away without angering him, or he will go on a rampage that will devastate everything nearby.
4- A spy was caught yesterday, with a Fire Giant slave-tattoo concealed on his navel.  His fellows have fled the city.  Stop the other spies before they get back to their masters, or the Giants will know how vulnerable we are to attack.
5- One of the local Baron's ancestors gained his noble title by slaying a Giant in single combat and taking the Giant's sword and head as a trophy.  The Fire Giants have come to retrieve the sword and correct this error.  Escort the Baron and his family to safety.  If the Giants find them, or you, the best you can hope for is being enslaved. 
6- A group of Gargoyles are harassing a settlement, weakening it for an eventual invasion.  The leaders of said town want you to go to the Fire Giants and try to find out how they are controlling the Gargoyles.  If you can figure out how, they can buy themselves enough time to try and prepare the eventual Giant invasion.
7- A Hag is secretly manipulating the leadership of a City, planning to betray it into the hands of her masters, a Fire Giant Sargent.  The players do not know this, they just know that something fishy is going on and someone keeps trying to assassinate the pro-war leaders of the City. 
8- A Demon starts sending a member of the party dreams, encouraging them to come help him.  The Demon may pretend to be an Angel while doing this.  It wants the party to free them from it's contract, but if the Fire Giants are willing to offer more, it will stay, but only after playing both sides off each other.

Friday, December 31, 2021

OSR: The City of Brass

artist unknown

It is a city located deep underground, below the Veins but above Hell, floating on the surface of the Cauldron.  It is a mega-metropolis, a hub for entire planes, a secret world unto itself.  You could spend a lifetime exploring the city and not run out of interesting things to see or do.

The city resembles a giant puzzle cube of stairwells, plazas and palaces, with streets that wind up and down into its' labyrinthine surfaces, passing through sculpted arcades and carved tunnels.  Every inch of the city is encrusted with decoration- reliefs adorn the walls, statues dot the streets, beautiful tile work supports your feet on shining hands. 

Unlike everywhere else in the depths of the Earth, darkness has no power here.  The city overflows with light, from the lava flows that pass through the city's canals and under her bridges, to the countless magical lights to the glowing occupants, shining with magic and heat, the city is a blinding beacon to all around it, a defiance of all that is gloomy, drab and dull. The city was designed with this mind, with metal domes that glitter like a million new pennies and towering glass sculptures that spray rainbows through the air.  The whole city is a feast for the eyes.

Yet for every plaza with astonishing artwork, jeweled walls and beautiful people attended by flocks of servants, there is an unfinished neighborhood wracked by ethnic conflict, where wildly diverse people forced into close quarters butcher each other.  Riots are not uncommon in some parts of the city and there are multiple insurgent groups operating in the City, seeking to overthrow the government, take over the City or something else similarly violent.

Similarly, these outer areas are also known for their grime and poverty.  The flesh markets of the City are vast, importing mortal cattle from every known world and several unknown ones.  At the World-Gates, steel and gold is traded for flesh.  And even for those who are not enslaved, most have little hope of escaping the grinding wheels of poverty- they will spend their lives laboring in front of a blistering furnace, guarding a door or endlessly polishing the walls of the City's plazas. 

The lucky few might end up becoming part of a Genie's household.  This is a privilege only granted to slaves, but most Genie slaves are treated better than some Freemen, with only a few exceptions.

by derdevil
Inhabitants of the City of Brass:

Genies.  Primordial lords of elemental magic, most of the Genies in the City live in palatial estates within the more developed districts, the City constructed around their domains, or in secluded caverns nearby, for those who favor quiet.  Efreeti and Deep Janeen are the only ones to commonly live in the City, but Marid and Djinn are known to visit occasionally.  The Genies of the City compete with each other for status and power over the City, throwing elaborate street festivals come election years and peppering other times with commissioned public works and games to entertain the citizenry.  The Genies are largely indifferent or ignorant of the violence in the unfinished blocs of the city.  Other problems, such as the simmering unrest toward their apathetic rule also pass beneath their notice.

Azers.  Ageless spirits of living fire in self-crafted shells of metal, Azers were commissioned long ago by the Efreet to build the City of Brass for them.  Despite the impossible splendor of the City, the Azers are still not finished, expanding and improving the outer layers of the City, which are still lovely, though nothing compared to the opulence of the center.  Azers also work at some of the City's forges and are among the best smiths in all of creation.  Be aware of this fact if you attempt to hire one, as there is no end to those who wish to enlist the Azers in their projects. 

Salamanders.  Serpent-folk with molten skin and burning hands.  They are the original inhabitants of the area that the City of Brass is built on.  Some have accepted the fact that the City is not going away and have moved in.  These Salamanders work at the forges, attend the nobles and participate in civic affairs.  A substantial minority of the Salamanders are less content and some are even engaged in an active insurgency and a campaign of terror to overthrow the Genies and grind the City into dust.

Souls.  The dead who have come up from Sheol.  They resemble one of the mortal races, but translucent and seemingly insubstantial.  Most are here as part of a work program or have been let out for the weekend.  They are quarrelsome individuals, grumpy and bad tempered.  Most react to attempts to help them or genuine love with scorn, disbelief or extreme skepticism.  If they have the chance to make you upset or rebuke your generosity, they will.  If you are mean to or abuse them, they will react with smug satisfaction.

Outsiders.  Creatures who have come up from Sheol or down from Heaven.  They have urgent business in the City.  Demons are here to score good deals or to participate in one of the innumerable ethnic or political conflicts brewing in the City.  Angels are usually here to capture Souls that have broken their parole or overstayed their visas in the land of the living and need to be deported back to Sheol.

Surface and Veins Folk.  Some are slaves, but some are citizens.  They live here, attempting to fit in and find prosperity in the City, while doing their best to adapt to their strange new environment.  Here, old ethnic, religious, linguistic and political disputes are born anew among the diverse and fractious population and new ones are created by the bad conditions and constant, bubbling tension many are forced to live under.

Trade and Industry:

The City of Brass is a voracious beast, consuming huge amounts of water, food and other resources.  Unrefined resources flow like water into the city and emerge as worked goods, which are disseminated out to the surrounding communities.  A large minority of the worked goods in the Veins, from forged steel to woven fabrics come from the City. 

The City not only sells to Veinsfolk, but to travelers from distant lands and other worlds.  The vast bazaars of the City spill up and down the vast plazas, some composed of multiple layers of stalls, stores and displays.  Here you can find merchants squatting amidst clouds of perfumed smoke, hawkers walking and shouting out their wares and customers of all colors, sizes and shapes pushing and shoving to try and get the best deal.  If you know where to look, you can find almost anything for sale.    

Besides the Bazaars, which sell an eclectic mix of goods and services, there are also brick and mortar stores that sell goods both fine and common.  The Street of Steel is a long line of forges and smelters, where blacksmiths of dozens of races mold metal and pour steel.  The Flesh-Yards are full of auction blocks and huge pens made of iron bars, where slaves from countless worlds wait to be sold.  The Path of Silk does not lead to a brothel, but is instead where the weavers and seamstresses hawk their wares, selling fine rugs, beautiful garments and exotic clothing that is all the rage in some place you've never heard of, but are sure is somehow important.

by Alexander von Wagner

Amusements in the City of Brass:

The City is not just a place of business and cold calculation, it is also a vast spectacle of art and beauty.  Some of the areas of the City are feasts for the eyes.  These are areas that have been finished by the Azers, but there are other parts of the City that are far less beautiful, as the Azers have yet to reach these areas, or perhaps the locals have sullied them on purpose or by simple circumstance. 

Yet even in these areas, beauty abounds, from the mosaics crawling up the walls to the ornate tile-work, multi-colored stones intershot with veins of natural minerals, so cunning in their construction that they could be confused for natural tunnels, or so orderly and precise that they could be nothing but the work of inhuman hands. 

Besides the amazing architecture, there is also plenty of other things to do in the City.  The Nymph District is a nest of brothels, pleasure-houses and nymphariums, where prostitutes of every race you can imagine sell their services.  The Red Squares host gladiatorial fights between slaves, paid gladiators, volunteers and wild beasts.  The Greatest of these pits is the Brass Ring, a huge arena where the greatest of fighters and the most fearsome of beasts clash in terrific battles to the screams and adulation of the crowds.  There is the Symphonic Walk, a series of a streets that are designed to reflect and channel sounds in such a way that a single musician can be heard streets away as if he was on the other side of the road.  Here people tip-toe on padded shoes and musicians quietly brawl for the best spots, fighting with padded staves and silken strangling cords.

Many of the Genies seek to be adored as much as the City itself, so they commission museums where they display dazzling collections of art and stolen treasures, or vast grounds where they loose their menagaries to the gaping stares of visitors and locals alike.  If you long to test yourself against one of these beasts you can leave the City with one of the many guides who offer their services; this will enable you to track and hunt a dangerous beast and return with a trophy in time for tea.  Alternatively, book passage on one of the Brass Ships and take a pleasure cruise across one of the rivers or lakes of magma that ring the City.  These boats can also take you to other places in the Veins or away from the City, but why would you ever want to leave? 

You can also find other less carnal pleasures in the City.  Temple street is the place where the faithful were permitted to build their fanes and they strove to out-do each other in beauty. Flying buttresses and intricate stonework crowd the avenues as sacred prostitutes and street-prophets declare the superiority of their Gods.  Or if you long to feed your mind, you can explore the Yizawa's Librarum, perhaps the world's largest collection of books, scrolls and written works.  

There are also many academies and places of learning here, including on ones too niche or taboo to be taught in more conventional places.  Here you can learn surgical techniques from enslaved Kytons or the History of the Kilaji Confederation by the Demons who helped it to collapse.  You can study necromancy with the disciples of the Prince Perpetual or debate the merits of Chaos with mutated philosopher-magi.  Truly, the City lacks nothing in terms of what one could do.

by Andrew Mar

Enemies of the City of Brass:

The Druids of the Veins- Druids hate civilization, no matter where it is.  And Veins Druids are no exception.  They have been trying to destroy the City since they discovered it, regarding it as an abomination.  Expect them to unleash plagues of parasitic animals, clouds of hallucinogenic pollen and try to trigger volcanic activity to drown the City in boiling rock.  The Druids, so far, have been largely unsuccessful in their attempts, but they have made life quite miserable for the creatures living in the city's outer districts. 

The Order of the Searing Hand- A secret society of Salamanders, hell-bent on defeating the Council that rules the City and overtaking it.  The Searing Hand believes that the City of Brass is an intrusion into lands that rightfully belong to the Salamanders, and regard the Efreeti and their minions as colonizers and oppressors who need to be driven out.  The Searing Hand operates through small cells of highly capable agents who gather intelligence, carry out acts of sabotage and assassinate high-ranking enemies.  They try to avoid indiscriminately attacking civilians, as they don't want to hurt other Salamanders who could be later convinced to join the cause.

The Chained- A Chaos Cult which opposes slavery and the degredation of intelligent creatures, the Chained are dedicated to the liberation of all slaves within the City of Brass and holding the slave-masters to account.  Their plan is to initiate a slave revolt and then, once the City is under their control, put the slave-masters on trial.  Their plans are highly unrealistic and unlikely to succeed, but they do not seem aware of this fact, or perhaps they are just optimistic.  Note that the Chained are not the only Chaos Cult operating in the city, but it is one that seems like it is actually legitimate, and isn't actually controlled by double-agents and agent provocateurs secretly funded by the Genies.   

The Brazen Fists- When the City's foundations needed to be laid, the Genies enslaved a number of Fire Giants to aid the Azers in this process.  But after the task was done, the Azers forgot about the Giants and the Genies were too busy, so they left the Giants in the hands of their slaves.  These slaves were either unwilling or unable to stop the Giants from escaping their captivity.  The descendants of these Giants are still out there, plotting to destroy the City in a colossal act of revenge against the Genies who enslaved their heroic ancestors.  However, unlike others who despise the City, the Giants are not likely to bother with subterfuge, but instead plan on slaying the inhabitants with boulders and enormous axes, then smashing the City to pieces beneath their iron-shod boots.  

Plot Hooks:

1d8

1- You are hired by a man whose sister was kidnapped by slave-traders and sold as a prostitute.  She is currently working in the Obsidian Boudoir.  Please rescue her. 
2- The party are hired by a man who plans to bring a magic sword to the City of Brass to sell to a Genie.  Unfortunately, the sword is cursed and their employer knows it.  He plans to sell the sword and flee as soon as he completes the sale.  He's bringing you along in case he needs muscle. 
3- The Genies of the City have vast, well-guarded collections of incredibly valuable items.  There is a fortune to be made and your current client, a wannabe master thief thinks he can pull off the heist of the century with your help.
4- The party is hired to act as double-agents, infiltrating a suspected club that is believed to be hiding a Chaos Cult.  Infiltrate the club and decapitate the leadership, then escape.
5- The party are Chaos Cultists, working to undermine the City of Brass' government and society, to bring about a more equal future.
6- The outside district the party is in is attacked by Giants!  You can join the defense of the City or you could use this as a distraction to accomplish another goal, such as getting filthy stinking rich. 
7- A fugitive has fled to the City in order to escape justice.  Find him and return with proof of his death.  But be careful, the City does not tolerate foreign bounty hunters infringing on it's sovereign territory, so you'll have to avoid both the City's constables and the potential allies of your target. 
8- A charismatic warlord is recruiting men for a war.  It could be a good way to make some money to sign up with him, or it could be a good way to die for a cause you don't care about.

artist unknown

Friday, December 24, 2021

OSR: Four Secret Techniques for the Fighting Man

Here are a couple of extra Secret Techniques for the Fighting Men.  For more advice on making Fighters based and murderpilled check out the original here or this post for some additional Fist Arts.

by unknown artist

Weapon Arts:

Warhorse

This school applies to rifles and other long guns. 

There are soldiers and there are warriors.  The difference may seem semantic, but only by those who have not met one of the latter.  The soldier fights for many reasons: patriotism, money, conscription and fear of legal repercussions, etc.  He may good at what he does, but he is not the best of his breed.  The warrior is different.  The warrior is the man who feels an almost instinctive urge to fight, to do his duty.  For him, war is his calling.  He is worth a hundred common soldiers because unlike them, he will never, ever surrender.  Unlike the soldier who merely wants to get paid and survive, the warrior will fight to his last breath because honor demands it.  This is the fighting style created by those men.  It is not clean nor elegant, it is not disciplined nor organized.  What it is is highly effective.  These men are craftsmen and their craft is death.  This school exists as the sum total of the lessons they have gleaned from countless battles, passed down to those who were worthy to stand beside them.       

Novice: "Only in death does duty end."  You can use a rifle as a Melee weapon that does 1d6 blunt damage, even if doesn't have a reinforced stock or bayonet attachment.  If you have a STR of 16(+2) or greater, you can also do sharp damage by trying to impale an enemy with the barrel of the gun.  However, every time you use a firearm not reinforced for melee combat as a melee weapon, there is a 1-in-6 chance that you damage the weapon, possibly beyond repair.    

Journeyman: "In a fight there is only winning and losing.  Rules against hurting are for games."  If there is an enemy that comes within melee range while you hold a firearm, you can make a kick attack against them.  This attack does 1d4 damage on a hit and the enemy must save or be knocked prone. 

Expert: "Death is lighter than a feather.  Duty, heavier than a mountain." You can make a melee attack against any enemy within range or use your kick attack as a bonus action on your turn if you so choose.

Master: "What cannot be changed must be endured.  Death cannot be defeated, so he must be embraced."  If you fire upon an enemy and there is another enemy adjacent to them, you may fire upon that enemy as well.  You may do this for any number of enemies, but the one beyond the first gets a +1 bonus to their Save vs Firearm and the one beyond that gets a +2 bonus and so on.  

artist unknown
Fist Arts:

Dragon Style

Dragons are usually clumsy fighters, they are so powerful that they crush all opposition through brute power.  Whether it is with breath weapons or crushing jaws, nothing can stand against them.  But Dragons are also highly intelligent.  As such, they have developed strategies for fighting large numbers of small creatures.  These movements and strategies were studied by some of the best fighters in the world which eventually led to the development of a new Fist Art, the Dragon Style.  Dragon Style is a flowing stance, mimicking the rolling gait of the Dragon's four legged walk.  It is a style that focuses on launching overwhelming attacks and crushing an opponent as quickly as possible.  It lacks somewhat in defense techniques, but it is otherwise a very powerful style.  

Novice: "Dragons do not attack unless victory is assured."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6+Atk damage.  At the start of each combat, until you attack someone, you receive a bonus to your Armor equal to your level.  This bonus goes away once you make an attack.

Journeyman: "Just as the power of a punch comes from the legs and chest, so should your spirit empower your flesh."  You can, by spending 1 FS, wrap your unarmed strikes in fire.  This does +1d6 fire damage on a hit.  The flames last for 1 minute or until you choose to extinguish them.

Expert: "When fighting the weak, be strong.  When fighting the slow, be fast.  When fighting the distant, be close."  As an action, you can launch yourself through the air and attempt to smash into someone.  This requires you to spend 1 FS per 10' launched.  Then make an attack roll.  On a hit, your attack does normal damage plus X, where X is the amount of FS you spent.

Master: "No matter where you run, the Dragon's vengeance is inescapable."  When an attack would damage you, you may make a save.  On a successful save, you lose 1d6 FS and the attack misses as you disappear in a cloud of smoke and ash.  You then immediately reappear within 5' of the creature who attacked you.  On a failed save, you take damage as normal.

by Wesley Burt

Maneater

Many of the races of this world possess claws, sharp fangs or horns.  Thus, it is makes sense that their fighting styles would incorporate these advantages into their fighting styles.  This is the nature of the Maneater School, an ancient school with as many variants as it has adherents.  Every race has its own version, each one subtly tuned to be used with horns, claws or anything else a race might possess.  For example, the Oxman version focuses on goring, with a special move where the adherent throws an opponent into the air and moves beneath him so the opponent falls onto their horns and impales himself.  As this move, as well as the name, implies, Maneater is a killing school, but rather than focusing on pure lethality, as some vicious schools do, Maneater focuses on maximizing the efficiency of each attack, so that the battle can be won with the minimum amount of strikes.     

Novice: "I'm beginning to understand it now, the reason why I was born a wolf."  If you possess natural weapons, they do 1d6+STR on a hit.  If you do not, your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage on a hit.  You also learn a charge attack where you can rush head-long at an opponent and attempt to increase the force of your attack.  This charge attack does +4 damage, but the target may attempt a DEX saving throw to avoid it entirely, instead of contesting the attack with a defense roll.   

Journeyman
: "The right move is always going to be the hardest, but it's always worth it."  Your unarmed strikes now do magical damage.  If you make a melee attack against a creature and miss or are successfully defended against, you can make a grapple check against that creature as a free action. 

Expert: "Tame the beast inside.  That's the only way to be a man in this world."  If you do not possess natural weapons, you may now grow claws, fangs or horns.  If you do, you may grow an additional type of natural weapons.  If an opponent is put into a vulnerable position where he cannot adequately defend himself such as being grappled, thrown (either in the air or having just landed), knocked prone, you made a surprise attack against him, you may make an additional unarmed strike against that creature. 

Master: "But I don't care.  Because the winners in this world are those who live without hiding their true nature."  You unarmed strikes now do 1d8+STR damage.  If you successfully hit a creature with an unarmed strike, instead of dealing damage, you can instead force them to save.  On a failed save, you can break or disable one of their limbs.  On a successful save, you instead only dislocate or stun one of their limbs.

by Jeremy Saliba

Revised Shield Rules:

Shields take up 1 inventory slot

They add +1 AR to a creature's total. 

Shields don't count as armor if an ability says something like "As long as you aren't wearing armor", so a creature can have Natural Armor and a shield without falling prey to the "Armor doesn't stack" rule.  The same applies to helmets, by the way.

Once per round, as a reaction to taking damage, a creature with a shield can reduce the damage taken by 1d8, assuming that the damage is of a type that a shield could protect someone from.  For example, a shield could protect you from being stabbed with a knife, but not a fireball. 

Below is a revised version of the Unbreaking Art secret techniques, intended for a low-magic setting. 

The Unbreaking Art


This school applies to shields.  

Novice"Life is the teacher, pain her rod of correction."  Once per round, you can reduce the damage of a successful attack against you by 1d8 as a reaction.  You can sunder any shield, even ones that ordinarily could not be broken.  These shields may not technically be broken, but they will become at least temporarily unusable, the why being left up to the Referee.  Referee's discretion also applies to this, as some shields may still be unbreakable and cannot be sundered.

Journeyman"The hand of mercy can only be grasped when it's absence is felt."  Once per round, you can reduce the damage of a successful attack against you by 1d10 as a reaction.  Your shield can reduce the damage almost any attack would do, even from damage types that a shield ordinarily couldn't protect you from.  Referee's discretion still applies to whether a shield could blunt any form of damage- poison gas will not be stopped by a shield and if you are carrying a metal shield, you will likely not be able to use it to protect you from electrical damage. 

Expert"The hand of mercy can only be grasped when it's absence is felt."  Once per round, you can reduce the damage of a successful attack against you by 1d12 as a reaction.  If an effect would damage or otherwise harm a creature and you stand between them and the source of damage, that creature receives advantage on any subsequent save against the effect.  Additionally, if it would be damaged, the creature may reduce the incoming damage by 1d12 as it bore a shield.

Master
"While the trueborn can worry about being disowned, those who are adopted never need to fear being discarded."  When saving against damage or a harmful effect where having a shield would be beneficial, you automatically have advantage on any save.  If for some reason you would have disadvantage, you instead do not, but do not gain advantage.  

artist unknown

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

OSR: Monstergirls for the OSR: Arachne

Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: Any, but usually True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral or Neutral Evil
Languages: The Lingua Franca plus 1d3 other mortal tongues.  She can also communicate with Spiders as if they shared a language, as well as Insects and other creeping things.
Treasure: Money and weapons left by her previous victims, or offerings of spices, liquor and fine foods from those seeking to appease her or the Queen of Spiders.

The Arachne are created by a fusion of mortal flesh and spiritual power.  When a Medium, a magic-user who allows spirits to possess them in exchange for power grows too close to their patron, sometimes their union can become permanent, as the more dominant of the souls devours and envelops the other.  This usually happens during moments of extreme stress, psychotic breaks or at the brink of death.  When this happens, the more dominant soul does not destroy the more submissive soul, but the two of them merge together, creating an entirely new entity. 

This entity will have the memories of both former souls, but it will have a different personality.  This is the most common way Arachne are created, but not the only way. 

Arachne themselves resemble human women from the waist up, regardless of what race the Medium was before.  Their lower bodies are the bodies of spiders, covered in chitinous exoskeletons with twitching hairs.  The Arachne also sometimes have additional human-looking arms, extra eyes or strips of flesh-covered chitin on their upper halves.  Also, only female Mediums can become Arachne.  Male Mediums who merge with spider spirits tend to gain unique forms based on their degree of submission or domination to the spirit.  The reasons for this are unknown to any but the Spider Queen, but she seems to favor that shape for her female acolytes. 

In terms of usual personality, Arachne are not evil, though they are often depicted as such in stories and folklore.  Instead, the primary trait Arachne almost always exhibit is selfishness and self-centeredness.  They are amoral and apathetic, caring little for other people or their problems.  Such things do not concern them, unless they infringe upon the Arachne's plans or desires.  Some Arachne do like to hurt people and exploit them for their own gain, but most Arachne are only malicious by accident. 

An example of a typical Arachne thought process is that she spies a handsome man and decides she wants to talk with him, or perhaps make him her lover.  So she ambushes him, ties him in spider silk and carries him away to his lair.  She probably won't eat the man and might even be a passionate and exotic lover, or she might copulate with him and then in the throes of passion, gobble him up.  Alternatively, she may keep him in her lair and grow bored with him, only keeping him where he is out of sheer habit.  But regardless of what she does, the feelings of the man on the subject, much less his loved ones back home, will never enter the picture naturally.  She will only ever acknowledge those feelings if she is forced to by external circumstances.               

Arachne
HD 5
AR 2 [Natural Armor]
Atk Weapon (1d8+2/1d8+2 + Poisoned Weapons) or Poison Fang
Mor 13
Saves 12 or less

Spider Climb: Arachne can stick to walls and surfaces like a spider and are able to walk on the walls and ceiling with no difficulty. 

Weaving: Arachne can produce webbing as if they could cast the spell "Spider Silk" at will. 

Poisoned Weapons: Arachne poison their weapons, which causes any creature that is hit by one to take 1d6 poison damage per round, until that creature passes a CON save or takes 3d6 poison damage.

Poison Fang: Arachne can make a bite attack that does 1d6+3 sharp damage on a hit, plus it induces the effect of their poison.  Besides the poison that coats their weapons, Arachne can also produce a different type of poison that is unique to each individual. 

Spellcasting: Arachne have a number of Mana Dice equal to their HD.  They can cast the following spells as an action.  These spells do not trigger Chaos or Corruption, but Arachne's MD do burn out as normal.  Arachne know the spells - Arachnophobia, Cloudkill, Speak with Animals, Spider Climb and Venom Bullet.

Daughter of the Queen: Arachne are the adopted children of the Queen of Spiders.  They can speak with spiders as if they shared a language, and all spiders and spider-like creatures get +4 to their reaction rolls when dealing with Arachne.  Insects and Insect-like beings, by contrast get -4 to their reaction rolls when dealing with Arachne and if attacked or threatened by an Arachne, must save or become frightened.  On a failed save, those creatures cannot move toward the Arachne and take 1d6 COG damage a round until they drop to 0 COG or cannot be threatened by the Arachne anymore for whatever reason (for example, she is dead or they ran away).  If reduced to 0 COG, these creatures immediately flee and gain the Conviction, "I am terrified of spiders and anything that resembles one."  COG lost like this then returns at a rate of 1 point per day.

Tactics:
- Set traps, ambush prey, isolate from the group and destroy
- Inject with venom, incapitate if necessary, then restrain with webbing
- Utilize any advantages that terrain might provide, dropping down from ceilings, climbing up walls, etc
- Use guerrilla tactics against superior foes

To customize an Arachne, roll on the tables below:

Where did this Arachne come from?

1d4

1- She was a (Spider) Wizard favored by the Queen of Spiders.  This form and power is her gift.  This Arachne can attempt to charm spiders or spider-like creatures 1/Day.  Creatures she has charmed will treat her like their leader and do anything she suggests of them, as long as it is not unreasonable, suicidal or against their moral code.  If she commands such a thing, those creatures get a new save.
2- She was a Medium who merged with a Spider Spirit.  She has good relationships with 1d6 weaker spirits who she can call on to aid her, in exchange for a favor or other service.
3- She was dying, but on the brink of death, the ghost of a giant spider possessed her body in an attempt to preserve it's own life.  She can catch dreams, ghosts and other immaterial things in her webs.  Additionally, Undead will not attack her unless she threatens them first.
4- She is the offspring of another Arachne and a mortal.  She is savage and brutal, and anyone who fights but doesn't defeat her must save or gain the Conviction, "I am terrified of spiders and anything that resembles one."

How beautiful is this Arachne?

1d4

1- Horrific.  The divide between the two halves of her body are not clean, part of her face resembles that of a spider and parts of her lower body resemble that of a human's, to terrifying affect.    
2- Ugly and Frightening.  Her human upper half is blighted with spider-like features, giving her 1d6 of the following: mandibles; an inhuman face; an eerie voice; long, stiff hairs like a tarantula; potruding teeth or fangs; extra, human limbs on her upper body; marks like those on a spider's exoskeleton on her skin; bulging, black eyes.
3- Odd and Unsettling.  Her human upper half is mostly normal, apart from the extra eyes that all Arachne have.  But her features are still odd and something about her fails to allow you to fully relax around her.  There's nothing especially scary about her, except for the fact that she looks at you like that.
4- Lovely.  The Arachne is a vision of grace and beauty, her upper half soft and plump in the right areas, while her bottom half is majestic and powerful.  People underestimate her and tend to give her the benefit of the doubt, until she proves such things are undeserved.  

What traps does this Arachne make with her webs?

1d4

1- Noise traps.  Tripwires attached to piles of stones or coins that when tripped, cause an enormous racket.  She'll hear you coming.
2- Net traps.  Trip one and you'll be wrapped in a sticky net and suspended above the ground.
3- Tiger pits.  The bottom of the pit is covered in sticky webbing.  Anything that falls down there is stuck and will need to be cut free to move.
4- Falling logs.  A tripwire is attached to a net of strong, but non-sticky threads that suspend either heavy logs or large stones.  If the tripwire is tripped, the logs or stones fall on your head, doing 3d6 damage, save for half.  Those with a DEX of 16(+2) or higher take no damage on a successful save.

What weapons does she make out of her webs?

1d4

1- A lasso.  She can ensnare creatures or weapons with it, then yank them up towards her. 
2- A kumorningstar.  A ball of webbing that, when it hits a creature, ensnares that creature in a tangle of threads, grappling and restraining that creature, preventing it from moving.
3- A garrotte.  When she wraps it around a creature, she can wrap it around that creature's throat and squeeze.  That crushes the creature's throat, cutting off the flow of oxygen to it's brain and doing 1d6 CON damage a round.  If this reduces a creature's CON to 0, that creature falls unconscious and starts dying.  CON damage done like this is healed if the creature can start breathing freely again.
4- Nooses.  As garrotte, but she just brings you up to a high place, wraps one around your throat and throws you off a ledge.

What does her 'Poison Fang' do?

1d6

1- It causes a creature to take 1d6 STR damage per round until that creature passes a CON save or takes 3d6 STR damage.  If this STR damage causes a creature to become over encumbered, meaning it is carrying more items than it has inventory slots, that creature gets -4 to do any action based on STR and Atk rolls and automatically acts last in the initiative.  Lost points of STR start to come back after 1 day, then continue returning at a rate of 1 point per day. 
2- It causes the creature injected to take 1d6 DEX damage per round until that creature passes a CON save or takes 3d6 DEX damage.  If this DEX damage reduces a creature's DEX to 0, it is paralyzed and cannot move for 1 hour. 
3- It causes agonizing pain, any creature exposed to her venom takes 1d4 damage every time it takes an action, which includes movement.  This damage cannot reduce a creature below 0 HP.  After using this, the Arachne will usually retreat and wear her enemies down.
4- It is non-lethal, with any creature who is exposed to it sweating it out through their pores.  However, the poison is extremely flammable.  Should the creature take any amount of fire damage within an hour of being exposed to the poison, that creature bursts into flames.  These flames cannot be extinguished by anything short of a vacuum or total immersion in water.  The poison can also be neutralized through certain chemicals, but only a Sage who had studied the Arachne's venom would be able to know which ones.  The Arachne knows what can do this, of course.  She can also extinguish the poison as a free action.
5- It causes a creature to take 1d6 CHA damage per round until that creature passes a CHA save or takes 3d6 CHA damage.  If this reduces a creature's CHA to 0, that creature's shadow abandons them and joins the Arachne.  The shadow has equivalent stats to the creature it left, but can only be hurt by things that could hurt a shadow.  Creatures without shadows are also considered Undead for the purposes of spells and are damaged by sunlight.
6- It is non-lethal, but it causes a creature to secrete pheremones that attract a dangerous local creature or type of creature, other than the Arachne.  Example monsters includes 1d6 [1= Bears; 2= Big Cats; 3= Giant Crayfish, Crabs or Lobsters; 4= Wyverns; 5= Trolls; 6= Dragons.]  These creatures find the creature injected with this venom irresistible and depending on the type of creature will either want to snuggle with it or eat it, 50% of either.  

Arachne Plot Hooks:

1d6

1- An Arachne has kidnapped a handsome man and taken him to her lair, a cave in the hills.  Retrieve him, alive if possible.  The Arachne is friendly, polite and aristocratic, but will not surrender her prize.  Her lair is also full of horrible booby-traps and hazards she can easily evade. 
2- A group of Goblins who serve an Arachne want to please her, so they have kidnapped the most handsome men they can find and are forcing them to participate in a beauty pageant to see who is the most worthy of their "Queen".  The challenges in the beauty pageant are bizarre and dangerous and suit Goblin sensibilities, with events such as knife-throwing, shark-jumping and the swimsuit contest.  Winners get to meet the Arachne, losers get eaten.  Save the contestants and try to escape with your lives.   
3- As above, except the players need to infiltrate the contest to get close enough to the Arachne to slay her.
4- A greedy merchant found a strange spider several days ago, one that wove webs of gold thread.  He captured the spider and is secretly hiding it in a jar in his basement.  The Queen of Spiders, who blessed that spider, is greatly displeased with this.  So an Arachne and a small army of spiders, small and Giant, have been dispatched to find the Queen's child and slay the kidnapper.  The players and townspeople don't know this, all they know is that a small army of Giant Spiders is attacking their town. 
5- An Arachne, after spying one of the player characters, has fallen in love with him.  She begins stalking him, causing trouble with her presence and leaving him strange gifts, such as birds with severed heads, and writing him embarassing love notes.  Find a way to get rid of her, without making her mad.  She will hurt the other player characters if she has to, but she will only fight her love if she must.  She also might be a bit of a psycho, and if angered, might try to kidnap her love and hold him captive until he loves her. 
6- An Arachne and a Mantis-Maid, servant to the Insect God, are having a spat over who is better at something.  This could be anything from who is more beautiful to who is the better wrestler.  Either way, this argument is causing the local populations of insects and spiders to go crazy and they are causing problems for the locals.  The locals don't know this, all they know is that Ankhegs keep eating their cows and Spiders are mummifying people and that they'd prefer such things don't happen.  Please go and mollify the spirits or whatever is responsible and make them stop.  The players could just kill one or both of the arguing women, but a better way would be to find some way to solve the dispute in a non-lethal manner.

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