Thursday, October 25, 2018

OSR: Prophets and Clairvoyant Monsters

This is a post about seeing the future, and some other monsters who can do it too, sort of.  So first, I would recommend reading this post, as its where I got the idea of Prophets for.  Secondly, the two monsters below are inspired by Fire on the Velvet Horizon, and as such, are mostly the work of Scrap Princess and the fabulous Patrick Stuart.  Also, you should read that book anyway, not just to get their takes on these creatures, but just to read the book, as it is well worth you time.  Additionally, for further reading, you may wish to consider the Angel of Fate.  Now the formalities out of the way, let's get started.

To see the future is a boon, yet is not granted without a heavy toll.  The few people who have this ability are called Prophets.  Prophets suffer from the ultimate curse, and the greatest blessing.  They lose the ability to do anything normal, but in exchange, you can gain almost anything you desire.  For one blessed with foreknowledge and foresight, talking to people is often an irritating formality, sporting events and political contests are tedious exercises in futility, and wars are massive tragedies, one the Prophet may have attempted to stop, only to reason that they could not, most likely too late.  But while Prophets cannot engage in such things, they gain much.  Prophets can see into the future, and knowing the outcomes to almost any event, they can manipulate the future to their advantage.

How it works

Prophets can, before taking an action, see all the possible outcomes of doing so.  For example, if they are about to roll a d6, they can see all the outcomes, from 1,2 and 3 to the one where the die goes  flying across the room and getting lost under the couch, etc.  This ability to foresee events and outcomes is limited from Prophet to Prophet.  Some can only see the most likely events, while others can see almost all of them.  Though even for the most astounding of Seers, no one can see all the outcomes.  There are simply too many, and Prophets rarely have the time to meditate and consider all of them.  There is always a chance that the person they are speaking to suddenly dies from a falling piece of debris, for instance.  Sure, this is the slimmest, most infinitesimal of chances, but it still exists.

But even for the more limited of Prophets, they are set above almost all other mortals, granted power over history and the future, a power of powers.  They usually use this power to obtain wealth, prestige and power.  Even in cynical times, Prophets amass great wealth and fame, their names known to all, or at least whispered in seedy wine-sinks and run-down brothels.  The greatest Oracles live on desolate moors, surrounded by slaves and servants, but even the lowliest of Seers can afford a few retainers and a roof over their heads.  For even for the largely untalented, there is no shortage of customers.  From Kings to beggars, all desire the Prophet's counsel.

To receive their wisdom, all you need do is seek them out, and ask your question.  After a suitable fee has been paid, of course.

                                                          by Aranthulas

HD Varies  AC Varies  Atk Weapon
Mor 10   Saves 9 or less is a success

Future Sight: For purposes of Combat, Prophets can see X rounds into the future, based on the table below.  When entering combat, have everyone roll a number of d20s equal to the Prophet's abilities, and arrange them in a row.  Every time the player would take an action that would require a d20 roll, instead merely use the first number on the list.  After that, the number is expended, and the player must roll the d20 again, and add it to the bottom of the list.     

Curse: If a Prophet is near death, they can curse their opponents with any number of grisly fates.  Even the weakest Prophets can do this.

- Check everyone's numbers, eliminate the person with the highest overall numbers
- Ignore those who have low numbers, unless they might threaten you
- Run if you see two many foes with high numbers.

How powerful is this Prophet?

1: Weak.  This Prophet can see 1 round into the future.  They have 1 HD and an AC of 11. 
2-3: Mediocre.  This Prophet can see 2 rounds into the future.  They have 2 HD and an AC of 12.
4-6: Average.  This Prophet can see 3 round into the future.  They have 3 HD and an AC of 13.  They cannot be surprised.
7-8: Strong.  This Prophet can see 4 rounds into the future.  They have 4 HD and an AC of 14.  They cannot be surprised.  Additionally, the first attack against them always misses, no matter what. 
9: Mighty.  This Prophet can see 5 rounds into the future.  They have 5 HD and an AC of 15.  They cannot be surprised.  The first attack against them always misses, and they get a +4 bonus to their saves if foreknowledge of the situation could give them an advantage. 
10: Nigh-Omniscient.  This Prophet can see 6 rounds into the future.  They have 6 HD and an AC of 16.  They cannot be surprised.  The first attack against them always misses, and they get a +4 bonus to their saves if foreknowledge of the situation could give them an advantage.  Additionally, their first attack always hits, no matter what.   

Ideally, if you know your players are just going to visit a Prophet, you should write out unique prophecies to give them.  However, if you can't be asked or you don't want to do that or for any other reason, when a player asks a Prophet a question, roll on the table below.

What do they foresee in your future?

1- Catastrophe!  Something hideous is going to happen to this person soon.  It may be avoidable.  It may not be.  Either way, this person is bad juju to keep around.  Ex: They are going to be fatally wounded and die alone in a dark sewer, while all their friends run away or die as well. 
2- Mostly bad things.  This person is about to have a string of bad luck.  It might not be life-destroying, but it will be unpleasant.  Ex: This person is going to lose their job, their car/horse will break down/die, and their dog will run away. 
3- Misfortune.  This person is about to have something unpleasant happen to them.  It might not be the worst thing in the world, but it won't be fun.  Ex: This person is going to get drunk the day their mom gets out of prison, and she's going to be incredibly angry.
4- A trial.  This person is about to undergo a trial, but luckily, this is something they could turn to their advantage, and possibly gain a boon.  If they are clever, that is.  Ex: They are about to be framed for a crime, but they will be given a chance to prove their innocence. 
5- Good luck.  This person is about to have a sudden stroke of good luck.  Ex: They win a raffle, they suddenly meet their twin with whom they were separated at birth, or they encounter a celebrity while out grocery shopping.  
6- Triumph!  This person is about to be monumentally blessed.  Ex: They find a winning lottery ticket stuck to the sole of the shoe worn by their long-lost father.

The Eaters of Fate

Oranorns are also known as Prophet-Hunters, Prophecy Breakers, Seer-Killers, and Fatebreakers.  They are Thieves of Time, contaminated flows of pure Chaos that seeped out of some crevice in the cosmos, droplets of insanity in a world of normality.  They lurk in dark places, whispering prophecy to themselves and chuckling with their many mouths, laughing at the outcomes they foresee.  When this happens to us, it's going to be so funny.  They just cannot wait to see it.

Oranorns are aware of the future, and of possible outcomes, and seek to drive the future toward the most interesting or amusing one.  They would prefer the world where the King, upon making a big, dramatic gesture to rally his army, trips and falls off a cliff and dies.  They love anti-climax, sudden reversals, and twists of fate.  Nothing amuses them more than the seemingly chaotic and indifferent machinations of this cruel universe.  This is the reason why they hate the Stars and Prophets.  The Stars they despise because they are the cogwheels of Fate, and Prophets because they are constantly altering the timeline with their predictions, forcing the Oranorn to re-evaluate all their predictions, all their calculations suddenly rendered worthless.  This is why they hunt Prophets, and try to eat them, if they can.  They don't always succeed, but they never give it up.  Every experienced Prophet has at least heard of these creatures for that reason, as they are known to make snacks of Seers.

But Oranorns do serve other purposes, besides thinning the local soothsayer population.  For a desperate person or one not accepted in civilized lands, an Oranorn can be an Oracle of last resort, though Oranorns are unlikely to tell you anything accurate if it will benefit you.  Though if your future is likely to lead to death, tragedy or some other hideous fate, it will gleefully spill the beans on whatever horrors you are likely to endure.  They can do other things as well though, as their unique abilities make them useful for several unique services.  For example, some have found success in hiding rare treasures with Oranorns, as the creature's unique aura renders foresight and divination useless.  Of course, Oranorns are also insane and crafty, and just as likely to give the treasure to a bunch of interesting strangers as guard it, but this is simply an unfortunate reality when it comes to employing Oranorns.  Finally, for the Cursed, the leper of lepers, the Oranorn can be the physician they need.  Oranorns are experts on curses and other forms of future manipulation, and can easily identify any Curse, and what actions are required to break it.

In appearance, Oranorns are quite ugly, with low, squat bodies, hard basins out of which springs a thick trunk of flesh like a tree limb, topped with a dozen twitching eye-stalks.  It's flesh is like that of a crab but pale fleshed and without armor, instead dabbed with light oranges, soft blues and the palest of yellows.  It's eight limbs each end with a sticky, three-toed hand, allowing it to grip and climb with amazing strength.  Oranorns are rumored to be able to climb walls and hang from ceilings, and this is, unfortunately, not idle rumor on behalf of common folk.  But of their strange bodies, the central trunk is the oddest, covered in dozens of whispering mouths, along with one central one that resembles a thrashing food processor.  This larger mouth is primarily used to devour prey, while the smaller ones are used to converse, speak prophecy, or engage in endless, circular debates with each other about the nature of reality, divinity, and what is the best fluid to swim through.  The last one is currently a dead-lock, stuck between melted cheese and wine.


HD 3  AC 14  Atk(+3) Grabbing Hands 1d6/1d6 or Bite(-2(unless target is restrained/grappled)) 1d10
Mor 10  Saves 10 or less is a success

Foresight Gap: Everything within 30' of the Oranorn cannot be detected through any form of divination, and the Oranorn itself cannot be seen in any possible future through a Prophet's vision, a spell, or any other mechanism.

Oracle: Oranorns can predict the future, though they are unlikely to tell you what your future is if it might benefit you.  However, if you are headed toward a "Bad End", they will eagerly inform you.

Sticky Fingers: Oranorns can stick to walls and climb any surface that is solid enough to support their weight.  Additionally, anyone it successfully hits with a "Grabbing Hands" attack is grappled, and must succeed a DC 15 STR check as a full action or take 1d6 damage and a full action to free themselves from its sticky, sticky grip.

Voices: Every round the Oranorn is in combat with the players, the Referee should read one random line from their notes to the players.  This should be phrased as "in-character" knowledge, so it's describing events within the fiction of the game, but otherwise, do not bother translating any of your shorthand.  If you do not use notes, on the other hand, instead state the outcome for something that is happening in the game world that affects the players.  If after learning this the players want to alter their actions or plans, let them.  Encourage meta-gaming as much as possible.  Let the players go wild with their own bizarre theories about what each line means.       
- Jump on people
- Grab onto someone and run up a wall
- Threaten to eat them
- Throw them if they refuse to sit still
- Use Verticality, climb out of reach of people who might be dangerous

                                                            by StDamos

The Ferry-women of Fate

The Medictor is a strange creature, even by the standards of magical beast.  They are large, grey-scaled beasts with humanoid torsos and delicate hands more suited to knitting than hunting.  Their faces are sanguine and maternal, soft-lipped and heart shaped.  If they covered their strange hair, you mistake it for a human face, if not for the scales and slit-pupil eyes.  But the hair is difficult to ignore, as her flowing trestles are made of long, coiling, multi-colored serpents.  These snakes dart around her head, snapping but rarely biting, and even when the snakes do, they never use their venom unless she feels her life in danger.  She can usually soothe the snakes and keep them calm, but they reflect her emotions, and if she is not tranquil, they lash about her, hissing at anything too shiny, too fast, or too unfamiliar.  The snakes reflect part of her nature as a cold-blooded creature, though this fact is easily grasped if you look below her waist.  For there her humanoid torso ends and you see her lower body is a powerfully muscled snake tail, thick around as a column and strong enough to crush a cord of firewood into sawdust.  Still, despite the fearsome power that Medictors possess, they are well known for being civilized, cultured creatures with well developed understanding of language, law and order, and courtesy.  In almost all regions, they are considered Urban Angels (or Civic Devils, depending on who you ask) and welcomed by those who value Law. They are one of the few magical beasts allowed to enter cities and behave as an ordinary traveler would, because of their consummate manners and impeccable respect for law and order.  But this is not the only reason why the City Elders are so eager to welcome the Medictor.           

The Prophet studies the intricate flowing rivulets of time, the drops of possibility falling from the heavens, each moment laden with possibility.  The greater the Prophet, the more droplets they can see, and the more efficiently they can see how light bends through each one, the chain of casuality that flows from moment to moment, stretching all the way back to the Prime Mover, the Unmoved One.  This allows them to look ahead, and see where the next link of the chain is to come from. 

But the Medictor takes a different approach.  Rather then focus on the details of each raindrop, they instead take a step back, looking not at the drops, or even at the storm, but at the river that these drops are falling into, and how this transforms a mere creek into a raging torrent that sweeps away whole towns.  These creatures can see not each individual moment, but the grand arc of history, the cycle of the ages is laid bare before their enchanted eyes.  According to Prophets, Oranorns and Medictors, an individual has many possible futures.  But the crowd, the city, the nation, it can only have one. As you zoom out more and more, you see how forces far greater than any current individual's action have already determined the path of history, regardless of if their descendants know it or not. 

The Medictor can see this grand passageway of time, and as such, see far more clearly than any prognosticator.  Unlike the Prophet, which can usually only see the immediate future or near certainties, a Medictor can predict the next golden age, the fate of a tribe, or the destiny of a whole clan.  This makes them prized by Kings and Priests and well-to-do people, who do everything they can to lure the Medictor to their domain.  Once they bring her there, they lead her up onto a hill or atop a great ziggurat and she as looks out across the city, she begins to speak.  She closes her eyes and the snakes composing her hair begin to move, rising up to survey the city from all angles.  Then, with a hissing chorus backing her, the Medictor speaks her prophecy, detailing the fate of the city, the nation, and occasionally, the people.

She is never wrong.

                                                       by yingakirah

HD 5  AC 12  Tail Lash(+0) -special- or Venomous Bite(+3) 1d6/1d6 venom damage + see below
Mor 7  Saves 11 or less is a success

Venom: If one of the Medictor's snakes bites you, you must save.  On a failure, you take an additional 1d6 venom damage.  On a failure, you take 1d6 venom damage each round until the venom has done 3d6 damage, and then it goes away.  You can only suffer from the effects of one failed save at a time.  The Medictor's venom isn't potent, so she pumps you full of them stuff.  As such, if you failed a save but get bitten again, you take the base 1d6 damage and nothing else.

Tail Squeeze: If a Medictor makes a Tail Lash attack against someone, the attack does no damage and instead restrains the person hit.  Then the Medictor can, as a free action on her turn, do 1d6 HP damage and 1d6 CON damage to the person.  If the Amount of CON damage taken by this equals or exceeds the person's total CON score, they pass out.  If the Medictor is allowed to continue dealing damage past that point, they die, no save.  If not, they can be revived. 

God's Eye View: All opponents fighting a Medictor, if greater than 1, when rolling a d20, must roll Xd20s, where X is equal to the number of total combatants, counting the Medictor.  Once they have done so, the Medictor can choose from the outcomes she would most prefer, and the combatants must use that result. 

- Flee if possible
- Avoid duels or single combat
- Grab the weakest looking person and squeeze, then bite those who try to come rescue them

                                                                  by spawnofblacksheep

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