Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Interview with J. Laakso

Today we are talking to J. Laakso, owner of Vault 0.

So, for full disclosure, the readers should know that J. is my brother.

Without further ado.....

How did you get into gaming? And what are you doing now?

There was that time when kids were playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and those sorts of games.  And there were those of us that wanted to be adventurers, so that what's what we did.  Inspired by Lord of the Rings and similar fantasy works, we made up our own stories and acted them out.  Then along comes TSR and publishes a system for fantasy adventure, and it would be an understatement to say that I was pretty drawn to it.  Queue years of playing, writing adventures, gaming groups, and late-night game sessions.  Yeah, I really got into it.  It started with Dungeons and Dragons and went from there.  So many game systems, but I wanted to play them all.

In more recent years I hadn't been gaming so much; life gets in the way, you move around, work long hours, lose track of gaming groups, whatever.  But I'm back to working on adventures.  I have a son that's an avid gamer, and they're waiting for me to run some Call of Cthulhu, DCC, and now MCC.

You supported the Mutant Crawl Classics Kickstarter. What do you think of the system?

Well, as much as I was into D&D, when TSR released Gamma World it really pulled me in.  I'm a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic setting, so when Goodman Games announced the Kickstart for Mutant Crawl Classics I was pretty excited.  It hearkens back to when I first got into gaming and cracked open that box.  Like DCC, MCC isn't rules-heavy.  The PDF is pretty big, but it doesn't spend pages on complicated combat systems or detailing characters to the nth degree.  It leaves room for the players and especially the gamemaster to flesh things out.  It keeps it simple and fun.  There are world details included, which I may or may not use.  Personally I tend to like to create my own world setting, but I can see where GMs would prefer to create the adventure within the world and not a whole world itself.  Goodman Games is pretty good about leaving the game more open to it's users.

Can you tell us a little about Vault 0?

Years ago when I went to my first science fiction convention, costuming was pretty normal though nothing like it is today.  My first costume, in keeping my love of post-apocalyptic worlds, was based off of Road Warrior in the Mad Max movie series.  Taking parts off an old car, I made myself a "road trash" costume.  Nothing that would win awards, but I enjoyed it and it got a few compliments.  And so my venture into costuming began.

Then one day I found myself suddenly laid off, and seemingly unable to get work in my field.  Sometime earlier I had made a Vault Dweller suit based on the video game Fallout.  My first recreation I found to be a disappointment since I tried using a premade boiler suit coverall for the base, which failed to look quite right.  A stickler for details, I looked to the in-game stitch pattern and made my own template and sewn a new suit from base fabric.  And I found some new ways to add the little details like stripes and numbers.  And it occurred to me there are probably other people out there that felt the same way - wanted something that matched the game better.  So I set up shop.

I've sold a fair number of those suits along with some other standard recreations from games and television, as well as a few custom things for people.  I do a lot of shows now, and I carry a lot of cosplay accessories - props, wigs, make-up, etc.  Online sales are great, but the shows are what keep me going.  Meeting the people and attending the conventions - that's the fun bit.

You also do some work with gaming and science fiction conventions. What's that like?

It's a labor of love.  I enjoy the convention scene a lot, and it's surprising what goes in to putting on a show.  Sometimes it seems like your show is only as good as the worse thing you do, and people can be pretty quick to jump on you if something goes wrong.  And there's a mob of social media always waiting to chime in.  But you do it for those who do enjoy the gatherings of similar-minded people, and for a fun time.  I mostly work with non-profits, and no one I know is bound to get rich working on these things.  

There is something to be said to be a part of something bigger than yourself, and working with conventions is certainly that.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

A new day, a new year.  I have plans to do a lot of conventions this year, and work behind the scenes on a few.  With Vault 0 there's a lot of work to do - expand the line, expand the website, and getting ready for the next show.  It never stops, and a small business isn't something you can get too complacent with.  But every sale brings a smile, and every time a customer says something nice about what I'm doing it reminds why I do it.

And, of course, I'm looking forward to a lot of gaming this year.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Child of Light

Episode 61 of Spellburn included the announcement of the Stephan Poag Dungeon Denizen contest winner from Episode 58. The winner was the excellent The Lumonculus, created by Tim White and Connor Stone.  You can find it here!

Congratulations Tim and Connor!

My own entry, the Child of Light, is reproduced below, because you can never have too many monsters. I had done a bit of research and discovered that Poag means "Child of Light", which was the basis of the creature.

I would also be very interested to see what other people came up with.

Child of Light

Child of Light: Init +3; Atk slam +4 melee (1d8+2) or light cone (special); AC 15; HD 3d8+6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP photonic sonar 100’, detect magic 1,000’, consume magic 30’, light cone 60’, regeneration, undying, power spellburn; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C.

The Child of Light is a strange creature that dwells deep beneath the ruins of the ancient citadel of Poag. It is partially organic and partially silicon-based, gaining energy from telluric radiation through crystals in its head and from magical emanations through two branching antennae-feelers that grow from its shoulders. These feelers allow the Child of Light to detect magic (spells or items) within 1,000 feet. It is attracted to all forms of magic, and no magic functions within 30’ of it (including magic cast outside this radius which then would otherwise take effect within it). The Child of Light consumes this magic, which is immediately restored outside of this range.

The creature is blind, but can sense even very small amounts of light with its skin. It uses light generated by its cranial crystals (or other sources), giving it a form of “photonic sonar” that allows the Child to “see” within a range of 100’, beyond which it is completely blind. Its rocky hide grants it a relatively high AC. The Child of Light regenerates 3 hp/round when within range of a source of light or magic that it can detect, and 1 hp/turn when away from such an energy source. The creature itself cannot be killed by any means known to mortals.

The Child of Light’s most powerful attack is a cone of light 60’ long with a 30’ base. Any creature caught within this cone must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save or be partially blinded for 1d5 rounds (-2 penalty to attack rolls) and a DC 15 Will save or suffer one of the following magical effects (roll 1d7): (1) Strength reduced by 1d3 for 1d5 rounds, (2) affected by an enlarge spell with a spell check result of 1d16+6, (3) ultraviolet radiation causes 2d6 damage, (4) Agility reduced by 1d5 for 1d7 rounds, (5) affected by a sleep spell with a spell check result of 1d24+2, (6) obtain a perfect tan, or (7) compulsion to draw causes a -1d penalty on the dice chain to all rolls until the character has spent at least 10 minutes completing a sketch. Note that spell effects do not allow additional saves after the spell check result is rolled, and any misfire or corruption affects the target, not the Child of Light.

Finally, anyone within the ruins of Poag may call upon the Child of Light to fuel spellburn. When a character does so, roll 1d7 and consult the following table:

1d7      Spellburn Result
1                Incandescent light pours from the caster, illuminating everything within line of sight as though it was daylight. Creatures within 30’ of the caster must succeed in a DC 15 Reflex save or be blinded. Blinded creatures must make a DC 10 Fort save or be permanently blinded; those who succeed are blinded for only 1d5 rounds. The caster gains up to 4 points of spellburn at no additional cost.
2                The caster’s skin blisters and bubbles with extreme sunburn. This is expressed as Strength, Agility, or Stamina damage.
3                The Child of Light grants up to 10 points of spellburn without attribute loss, but consumes the magical energy needed to cast the spell. The spell cannot be cast again for a full 24 hours per point of spellburn. Even additional spellburn cannot restore the spell during this time.
4                The Child of Light grants up to 10 points of spellburn without attribute loss, but the caster is blinded for 10 minutes per point of spellburn taken, and has a -1d penalty on the dice chain to all attack rolls (due to double vision) for 24 hours thereafter.
5                The Child of Light consumes the spell energy. Nothing else bad happens, but the spell does not go off, and the caster’s attempt is wasted.
6                The Child of Light consumes magical energy from the caster, expressed as 1d3 points each of Strength, Agility, and Stamina damage. The spell check is not improved.
7                Not only does the Child of Light grant up to 10 points of spellburn for free, but for every point not used, the caster heals 1 Hit Die in damage, up to his maximum hit points, once the spell is cast.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Gary Con X Scheduling

My games for Gary Con X have been scheduled!

DCC—Prince Charming, Reanimator: Thursday at 2:00 PM, 4 hours, Space FORA-325 - 5 tickets max

DCC—The Falcate Idol: Friday at 11:00 AM, 3 hours, Space FORA-326 - 5 tickets max

DCC—Silent Nightfall: Friday at 3:00 PM, 3 hours, Space FORA-325 - 5 tickets max

DCC—Thirteen Brides of Blood: Friday at 7:00 PM, 3 hours, Space FORA-323 - 5 tickets max

DCC—Goblins of the Faerie Wood: Saturday at 3:00 PM, 4 hours, Space FORA-327 - 5 tickets max

DCC—The Thing in the Chimney: Sunday at 10:00 AM, 3 hours, Space FORA-325 - 6 tickets max

Free Monsters!

The original Monster Manual boasted "OVER 350 MONSTERS" for your game. While I am only halfway there in terms of free content, my last update just hit 175 distinct entries.

Among them are old favorites like the Aboleth, the Otyugh, the Rhadogessa, and the Sahuagin, but there are also a fair amount of creatures from classic programs and movies, like the Amatons, the Daleks, and the Troopers from Stargate. Robert E. Howard is recognized with statistics for Conan and Breckinridge Elkins, while Edgar Rice Burroughs also sees stats for Tarzan.

If you need stats for a Giant Mutated Turkey, a Cyclopean Deep One Pugilist, or a Potted Plant for your home adventure, I've got you covered.

If you want to use some of these stats commercially, contact me. If you need more free monsters, head over to Appendix M.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Tales From the Thousand Lakes

This album cover was suggested by Doomsayer. Interestingly enough, when I was deciding on album covers to inspire Dungeon Crawl Classics content, this is one that I had considered, but had put on the back burner as being difficult. I wasn't sure what inspiration I could glean from its ominous artwork. Whether or not I rose to the challenge is something the reader will have to determine.

Before we dive into the cover, a confession. If you listen to the Sanctum Secorum podcast (and if not, you should), you are aware that Bob Brinkman always has interesting musical picks for each work discussed thereon.

I am no Bob Brinkman.

If you listen to the Drink Spin Run podcast (and, again, you should), you will note that, when I was a guest, I had been listening most recently to the soundtrack to Moana. My musical tastes run from classical to Iggy Pop, but there is a lot of 80s pop and even country in there. Most of these albums aren't really on my radar.

I am devising material based on the covers plus a little very basic research. And, yes, I have made use of YouTube to give the albums a listen-through or find related videos.

If you run into me at Gary Con or elsewhere, though, I am not going to be able to discuss these things intelligently. Seriously. You are, gentle reader, are to a person all cooler than I am.

Without further ado....

Kala Vale and the Thousand Lakes

The village of Kala Vale is located in a region known as the Thousand Lakes, where waterfalls, rivers, ponds, and freshwater lakes both great and small are found among the high hills and mountains. Everywhere there is the sound of water, running and falling, from spring to autumn. Even in the depths of winter, water runs beneath the ice. A few warm days can lead to a sudden thaw, and those traversing the straight path across previously-frozen ice can find themselves immersed in frigid waters without warning.

Deep magic runs with the waters of this land. Runestones give hints of lost spells, or mark the focal points of arcane powers. Here music has power, and many of the region's legendary figures sang and chanted to shape their adventures as they would.

Many are the mysteries of this land. A few of them are described below.

Mårtenson's Ring of the Eagle's Shape

This curiously carved ring is made of finnstone, a blue-green material with a slick texture not unlike that of soapstone. It has been carved with many strange runes and sigils from Elfland. Whoever wears the finnstone ring and knows the hidden song of Mårtenson may take a sea-eagle's form, for as long as he wills, but each time he does so, some portion of his soul remains in that form.

In sea-eagle's form, the PC has exceptional eyesight for spotting creatures when flying. He can fly at a rate of 60', and has an AC of 14. The character's gear and accouterments within 5' of his body transform with him; larger items must be dropped or carried. Magic items retain their effects unless they must be manipulated in some way, but armor loses its normal bonuses. A sea-eagle can make a claw attack for 1d3 damage, and, if diving from at least 50', has a critical range increased by 2 (i.e., a level 1 wizard would crit on 18-20, and a level 1 warrior on 17-20). The character can only cast spells which do not require a human voice or somatic component.

Each transformation to sea-eagle's form requires a DC 10 Will save. On a failure, the character takes 1 point of permanent Personality damage and must roll 1d5 on the table below. Rolling the same result multiple times has no additional effect, but each time the character gains a new result he is reduced by -1d on the Dice Chain when making further Will saves due to transformation.

1d5 Effect
1 The character refuses to eat any food other than fish.
2 The character blinks far less often than normal.
3 The character has a tendency to stare at others.
4 The character's preening behavior reminds onlookers of a bird cleaning its feathers.
5 The character has a marked preference for being outdoors under an open sky.

If the character's Personality falls below 3, he never transforms back to human or demi-human form. After 2d6 rounds, the character is lost forever to his new form. The finnstone ring falls to the ground as the character flies away to live the remainder of his life in the wild.

At the judge's discretion, the character's allies may undertake one or more adventures to restore the lost character's humanity. Such an undertaking is fully in the nature of DCC's Quest For It ethos, and would require, at a bare minimum, locating the lost character in sea-eagle form and destroying Mårtenson's Ring of the Eagle's Shape to release his soul. Indeed, some say that the great bard-wizard Mårtenson of the Keys was lost to his ring, and still haunts the world in avian form.

The Drowned Maid

The ghost of a fair young maiden wanders the shores of Tomi Lake, north of Kala Vale. This unfortunate maid slipped into the cold gloomy depths through a crack in the ice one black winter day. She appears now fair but cold, with skin that is bluish-white. Seldom does she appear as a wraith, and often she is mistaken for a living maiden, solid to the eye if not to the touch.

The Drowned Maid seeks forever her lost lover, although she can no longer remember his face. It is said, in folklore, that she was drowned  on her way to a tryst with the youth. Some say he sought for her high and low through the Land of the Thousand Lakes. Others say that he was with another, and that the Drowned Maid was a suicide.

This spirit is drawn only to those young men with exceptional good looks, or who have a Personality of 13+. She seeks only to draw them to her, but her touch causes 1d12 cold damage each round. Only when her one-time lover, reborn into a new body, willingly comes into her clasp and speaks her name can the Drowned Maid be laid to rest.

The Drowned Maid: Init +2; Atk incorporeal touch +1 melee (1d12 cold); AC 10; HD 2d12; hp 15; MV 30' or fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, immune to non- magical weapons; SV Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +3; AL C.

Holopainen's Lost Ship

Somewhere amid the Thousand Lakes, an ornate anchor of black iron rises up from the water and rests on land. Its chain leads below the surface to the lost ship of Holopainen Ironhand, a reaver of great renown, whose heavy metal axe of meteoric iron, Esa, remains the subject of many legends in the Land of the Thousand Lakes.

Holopainen's ship, the Darkland Queen, is said to be carrying many precious things ravaged from the gorefest of the Chaosbreed in lands to the east. Should the ship ever be recovered, who knows what treasures weigh it down?

According to legend, the winged witch Louhi brought Holopainen low. His ravagers, the Chaosbreed, drowned in the waters of a many-leveled lake, amid waterfalls and ringed with hills. At least one artifact was lost with the ship: The Sampo, which takes many forms, and which brings good fortune to whomever can keep it.

The Blessed

Perhaps the Sampo brought fortune to the Chaosbreed even as they flailed beneath the waters of that unknown lake. Perhaps the malice of Louhi transformed the warriors of Holopainen. Or perhaps some other story is true, but the waters where the Darkland Queen was lost are now  inhabited by creatures which call themselves the Blessed.

The Blessed are amorphous things with dark leather skin, capable of growing any number of limbs, either jointed or tentacular. Most of the Blessed are man-sized, hinting at a perhaps-human origin. Others have grown to a colossal size. All hate human life - perhaps because they were once human, or perhaps because the harpy-witch Louhi nursed dark emotions within them.

The following represents a typical member of the Blessed. Larger ones have far more impressive statistics.

The Blessed: Init +3; Atk claw +2 melee (1d3+1) or bite +0 melee (1d5); AC 14; HD 1d8+4; MV 20’ or swim 50'; Act 2d20; SP regenerate 1d3 hp/round while alive; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +0; AL C.

The Finnish Connection: As a side note, The Land of a Thousand Lakes is Finland, and this album takes the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, as its inspiration. Amorphis is a Finnish heavy metal band. I have a family connection to the Finns who settled the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan. I hope, therefore, that I have done at least a halfway descent job at threading the album cover, the lyrics, and strands from the Kalevala into gameable material. 

Thursday, 28 December 2017


Doomsayer has left a few album cover requests, but before I get to those, here is something a little easier to close the year with.

It is well known that the Valkyries, beautiful warrior women riding winged horses, come to bring the worthy fallen warriors to Valhalla (all shiny and chrome). For those who worship Whaaar! across the wasted landscape of Umerica, a different fate awaits the warrior without heart, who flees battle, or who dishonors himself or honorable adversaries with cowardly attacks or unwarranted mercy.

Doomriders are sent by Whaaar! to slay those who turn their backs to their foes, or otherwise dishonor the Umerican god of conflict. Certainly not every cowardly act results in one or more doomriders being dispatched, but equally certainly, any such act may result in the same. The chance for doomriders to appear to 0-level characters and lowly (unnamed) NPCs remains at the judge's discretion. Otherwise, when a character dedicated to Whaaar! acts against his tenants (see The Umerican Survival Guide for details) on the battlefield, roll 1d30. If the result is equal to or less than the character's level, at least one doomrider appears. For every 2 points below the character's level, an additional doomrider is dispatched.

If the character can defeat these doomriders in an honorable way (according to the tenants of Whaaar!) the god will be pleased. If the character is slain instead, the god will be pleased. An additional doomrider will be dispatched to confront any other being who interferes with the will of Whaaar!

When one or more doomriders appear, the sky turns black and rolls with thunder. Doomriders are wreathed in green flames that do an automatic 1d3 damage to anyone striking them with a melee weapon. These flames also add damage to their claw attacks (already calculated into their statblocks). A doomrider can harness lightning, making a ranged attack with a lightning bolt once every three rounds. This attack has "exploding damage" - every time a natural "6" is rolled, add another d6 to the damage. If this die also comes up "6", another d6 is added. And so on.

If either a doomrider or its steed is slain, its counterpart continues attacking. When slain, either will simply fade from existence, to be reborn in the feasthalls or stables of Whaaar! If both doomrider and steed survive combat, they take their targets bodily to the Hell designated by their god. Otherwise, they simply fade away. It is considered a great honor to be selected as a doomrider after a glorious death, and a doomrider may pause to speak to one-time companions before departing.

Doomrider: Init +3; Atk claw +4 melee (1d5+1d3) or lightning bolt +4 ranged (3d6); AC 15; Armor Die none; HD 2d12; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP green fire, lightning (exploding damage), immune to attacks requiring Will saves, immune to electrical attacks, death throes; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +0; AL C.

Doomrider's steed: Init +2; Atk hoof +6 melee (1d6+4); AC 14; Armor Die 1d3; HD 4d12; MV 60’ or fly 80'; Act 1d20; SP immune to attacks requiring Will saves, immune to electrical attacks, death throes; SV Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +0; AL C.

Note: If not using The Umerican Survival Guide, increase the steed AC by 2 and ignore Armor Die. Although I tied the write-up to the Umerican deity, Whaaar!, feel free to replace with any other god of war appropriate to your campaign. Remember that the alignment of both doomriders and their steeds should match that of the god....and not all war gods need be Chaotic!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Fatal Feast - Mutant Crawl Classics!

An album cover like Municipal Waste's The Fatal Feast: Waste in Space screams Mutant Crawl Classics. Or, at least, it screams Mutant Crawl Classics until there is a Stellar Crawl Classics to go with. This write-up could also easily be used with Crawling Under a Broken Moon or The Umerican Survival Guide.

The official music video takes place on Waste Station 3M-TA3, lost in space 17 years. Needless to say, the scenario could work in a sealed facility on the post-Apocalyptic world just as easily. Or you could have your PCs transferred somehow to an orbital facility.

Without further ado....

The Fatal Feast

Hazardous waste laws are written for a reason. A breach in protocol at Waste Station 3M-TA3 allowed the unintended release of Virus TFRW-2012-SA05, nicknamed "The Fatal Feast".

There are three stages to this virus's infection cycle, and the PCs may encounter it in whatever stage the judge desires. It is entirely possible that the three stages are going on in different parts of the same complex.

Stage One: Initial Infection

Fort DC 15 resists infection. Those infected gain a +4 bonus to all Strength-related checks (including melee attack and damage rolls). They suffer an irresistible desire to consume non-infected living creatures. At the judge's discretion, a desire to use spinal columns to play air guitar, or use a length of intestines as a microphone, may also develop.

Infection is caused by direct contact with the virus, or by contact with an infected creature. Stage One typically lasts for 1d5 days.

Stage Two: Liquification of Living Flesh

Fort DC 20 negates. Uninfected living flesh which fails the Fort save is turned to blood at an astounding rate. Exposed beings who fail the save take 1d5 points of permanent ability damage to each ability score (except Luck) each round. Beings infected at Stage One are immune.

The virus is airborne at this time, and exposure to atmosphere where the virus is active can cause infection. This stage lasts for 1d24 years. (It lasted at least 17 years on Waste Station 3M-TA3.)

Stage Three: Un-death

At Stage Three, creatures infected become nonmagical un-dead. Although they retain an echo of their former personalities, and are able to work cooperatively, they are tools used by the virus to consume and spread. Contact with these un-dead can transmit Stage One of the virus, and these un-dead do not continue to attack those who become infected. Even the remains of these un-dead, once destroyed, can transmit the virus unless they are burned. Improper disposal of such remains led to the infestation on Waste Station 3M-TA3.

This stage is permanent. Any creature with a Stage One infection must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save each day once Stage Two commences, or succumb to Stage Three. At Stage Three, the infected characters are dead. Even if the disease is somehow cured, they remain dead.

Fatal feast un-dead: Init +3; Atk claw +4 melee (1d3+4); AC 10; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, infectious, +4 to Strength-based checks; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5; AL C.

In Mutant Crawl Classics, fatal feast un-dead have no alignment. Physical mutations may remain still be manifested by the un-dead creatures, but mental mutations are lost. Note that plantients (and other non-animal beings) are immune to Virus TFRW-2012-SA05 in all of its stages, and are not targeted by the infected, unless required for self-preservation.


This is a nasty, nasty surprise to spring on characters, no matter what stage is active when it is encountered.

If the means to avoid and/or cure the virus are present, it might make a kick-ass funnel adventure, though. In this case, encountering the remains of a fatal feast un-dead after being sealed into the adventure location can kick off the action, with players retaining control of their infected PCs as well as their non-infected PCs. PVP combat abounds!

A sealed area releases the Stage Two infection. Hope your surviving PCs have been inoculated by this point. Then on to confront the un-dead masters in order to escape the adventure location. Finally, for the big finale, blow it all up so that the virus cannot escape!

Saturday, 23 December 2017


“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Queequeetodon is an enormous white whale with intricate markings across its head and body. Its eyes match the color of the seas - blue, green, grey, or wine-dark as circumstances dictate.

The leviathan, sometimes known as the Shaman of the Deep, is extremely intelligent, and is able to cast both wizard and cleric spells, but does not suffer spell loss or corruption. Rather, Queequeetodon suffers disapproval for failed spells as does a cleric.

Note that Queequeetodon needs no material components and performs no spellburn, even if a spell normally requires them. Whalesong may be noted when he casts spells, but most appear to be naturally occurring events....even if the weather seems to change with preternatural swiftness, or the sharks in the waters seem strangely focused on particular sailors.

In addition to his mystical ability, Queequeetodon's physical prowess is incredible. The white whale can ram a ship, or strike it with his powerful flukes. If using the seafaring rules in Tales of the Fallen Empire, these attacks do 3d50 hull points of damage each. If you are using the rules from Crawl! Fanzine #11, these attacks do 3d50 x 10 damage. This damage is specific to attacks against ships and similar structures only.

A normal creature subject to this creature's bite attack is automatically swallowed whole. There is a 95% chance that the creature is pushed back into Queequeetodon's stomach, there to suffer 3d10 damage per round. Otherwise, the creature remains in the leviathan's mouth, and can attempt a DC 20 Strength check to escape when Queequeetodon makes another bite attack (or otherwise opens his mouth). A character inside the whale may attempt attacks from within, but there is a -1d shift to all d20 rolls for characters in the whale's stomach, and character's in the whale's mouth increase their danger. If a character in the whale's mouth makes a successful attack, roll 1d7, modified by the character's Luck:

(1 or less) the character is immediately swallowed, along with anything else in the whale's mouth; (2-3) the whale swallows, affecting everything in its mouth, but characters succeeding in a DC 20 Strength check can hold on, taking a mere 2d6 buffeting damage rather than being swept to the gullet; (4-5) characters within the mouth must succeed in a DC 15 Reflex save or be expelled through the whale's blowhole, shooting 5d30 feet in the air before falling into the water for 1d6 damage per 10' fallen (Reflex DC 15 for half damage); (6-7) nothing happens; or (8 or more) the character (and only the character) is expelled through the whale's mouth - other characters may attempt to escape by making a DC 20 Strength check, as noted above. Surviving in the open water may still prove beyond the character's prowess.

Despite the dangers of confronting Queequeetodon, men still hunt him for the occult powers inherent in his oil and ambergris. The exact nature of these powers is left to the judge, based upon the needs of his campaign, but the following ideas are suggested:

  • Wrapping a dead man in linen soaked in Queequeetodon's spermaceti oil will restore life and wholeness, no matter the condition of the body or how long it has been dead. This must be done within 24 hours of the leviathan's death to be effective.
  • The 1,000 gallons of oil in the whale's head can be used in magic involving fire or water. Each pint used allows a +4 bonus to the spell check.
  • Each of Queequeetodon's 120 teeth can be used in a ritual to bind a single spell, making the spell effect last an additional 1d7 centuries, even if it would normally be instantaneous (specific results at judge's discretion).
  • Ambergris from the Shaman of the Deep can cure poisons and diseases if consumed. Note that the whale need not be killed to gain this substance.
  • 100 gallons of Queequeetodon's oil can be condensed into a single focus crystal, allowing any spell cast through it to gain an automatic +10 bonus to the spell check. Multiple crystals can be used. However, each crystal can only be used once before being destroyed.
  • Any who partakes of Queequeetodon's freshly slain flesh will gain 1d30 permanent bonus hit points and a permanent +2 bonus to AC as their own flesh hardens.
  • Any being who consumes one of Queequeetodon's eyes (a mammoth undertaking which will take a week or longer) gains the ability to cast second sight. The characters rolls 1d20+4 plus Personality modifier. On a roll of 11 or less, the spell is lost for that day. On a natural roll of "1", the character suffers a unique corruption. These corruptions will make the character pale, result in hair loss, and drive the character into the water, eventually turning him into a new Shaman of the Deep. If there is more than one Shaman of the Deep, they must contest the title until one is slain.
  • A being who drinks blood from the whale's still-warm corpse ceases to age. Neither magical nor mundane aging affects him any more.

Queequeetodon, Shaman of the Deep: Init -6; Atk bite +20 melee (3d20 plus swallow whole) or fluke smash +15 melee (3d24) or ram +10 melee 3d30); AC 25; HD 30d12+120; hp 350; MV swim 80’; Act 2d20; SP smash ships, swallow whole, spellcasting; SV Fort +20, Ref -6, Will +20; AL N.
Spells (+10 to spell check): animal summoning, bolt from the blue, curse, dispel magic, neutralize poison or disease, second sight, weather control.

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Friday, 22 December 2017

Canadian Content

In Canada, there are laws prescribing how much content on the radio or television must be Canadian. Love it or hate it, it means that Canadians have a chance to prosper in the arts.

Now, I have started this particular entry so many times, only to have the file disappear into the electronic ether, that one might think the Dungeon Crawl Classics write-up for this album cover itself should be "Considered Dead", but that isn't what is going to happen.

Without further ado:

The Chamber of Cold Burial

Lost within a lethal underground maze is a chamber whose floor is made of ice. The ice floor is at least 30 feet deep, but can be traversed without slipping if the walker is careful. Walking at more than have speed requires a DC 5 Reflex save to avoid falling; this is DC 10 during any round when a character engages in combat, and DC 15 if a character runs.

Any being who falls in this chamber finds the ice strangely yeilding, although only in one direction. Stuck fast in the ice, the character must succeed in a DC 5 Strength check to break free. After the first round, the character must succeed in a DC 5 Fort save each round to avoid 1d3 damage from the cold. The DCs for these saves increase by +2 each round, until the character is fully entombed in ice or slain.

Close examination of the floor can reveal this hazard, as there are skeletal remains wholly or partially embedded in the chamber's floor.

The Altar of Woeful Consumption

Rising from the floor of the Chamber of Cold Burial is a stone altar. A Chaotic spellcaster, succeeding in a DC 20 spell check, can "feed" a victim to this altar, causing the victim to become embedded in the stone as its body rots away.

The victim gains a single Will save (DC equal to spell check to resist), being otherwise helpless unless rescued. Spells such as dispel magic or remove curse, if they exceed the original spell check, are effective, as is divine intervention. Otherwise, each round the victim takes 1d3 damage to Strength, Agility, and Stamina each hour until dead. The sacrificing wizard, elf, or cleric can access half of these points to use as spellburn with no other repercussions to the caster; the other half of these points are lost. The altar automatically loses one point of available spellburn each day, and must therefore be continually fed to be of value.

A rescued victim can only recover whatever available points are not used for spellburn; the other damage is permanent, including that which is not available for spellburn. These points are consumed by the altar.

Victims who die in this manner are lost for eternity, and cannot be brought back by any means.

Sanguine Hourglasses

There are several of these items believed to exist. Each is an hourglass whose "sand" is made of "grains" of crystallized blood, culled from some alien entities which experience the flow of time differently than do mortal men.

When the sands of a sanguine hourglass are flowing, time is slowed within a 500' radius around the hourglass by a factor of 10. For every minute that passes within the radius, 10 minutes pass without. Multiple hourglasses can stack, so that two hourglasses can work together to slow time by a factor of 100. Note that flipping an hourglass means that it continues to flow, until all the crystallized blood is in one chamber or the other.

It is believed that at least two such hourglasses are possessed by the current Keeper of the Altar of Woeful Consumption. They are said to be used to maintain the available spellburn contained by the Chaos altar, so that one available point is lost every 100 days instead of every day.

A sanguine hourglass is nonetheless fragile, and any hit against AC 12 that does 2 hp or more damage can shatter it. The effects of a shattered sanguine hourglass end immediately, but any creature within 100' must roll 1d7 + Luck modifier:

(1 or less) the creature immediately ages 10d10 years; (2) the creature immediately becomes 7d7 years younger, possibly ceasing to exist as a result; (3-5) nothing happens to the creature; (6) the creature gains momentary insight into the future, and can re-roll any one die roll within the next 2d12 days, taking the better result; or (7 or better) the creature gains insight into the nature of time itself, effectively increasing its initiative bonus by +2 forever. The creature also gains an extra Action Die, which starts at 1d3, but increased up the dice chain each time the creature levels. Judges and players are reminded that this Action Die can be used for a move action even before it becomes high enough to risk using for attacks, skill checks, or spells.

Drifting Remains

This monster is known to inhabit the lethal maze wherein the Altar of Woeful Consumption is found. It appears to be a grey-white almost spidery thing, with sharp appendages and sensory apparatus placed at irregular intervals. It does not walk, but flies slowly about, and is thus immune to the dangers of the icy floor in the Chamber of Cold Burial. One pulpy fungal knob on its upper surface bears an absurd resemblance to a man's head wearing a fedora, which may hint at the creature's origin. It gives off a rancid smell like rotting shredded flesh.

The drifting remains attempt to pierce victims with their many sharp limbs. If two or more limbs succeed in striking the same victim, the remains may hold on (Strength DC 10 + number of limbs attached to break free). While holding a creature, the remains may attempt to use its ovipositer to infect the being with its young.

It takes 1d3 days for the young to hatch as crawling maggots, during which time it is possible to treat the infestation as a disease. For instance, a cleric can attempt to lay hands, or to cast neutralize poison or disease. After this time, things become far more dire.

  • Days 5-7: Skin turns a morbid color. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Stamina damage each day. -1d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Days 8-9: Stiffening morbidity. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Agility damage each day. -1d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 10: Withered veins and difficulty gaining breath. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Strength damage each day. -2d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 11: Organs putrefy, and victim vomits blood. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent damage to all statistics. -2d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 12 and beyond: Catalepsy and death. Fort DC 10 each day to avoid falling into a cataleptic state (so as to appear dead). Once the victim falls into this state, it cannot be removed without also removing the infestation. Each day after the victim becomes cataleptic, he suffers 1d5 permanent Stamina damage each day until dead. 1d3 days after death, the young drifting remains (2d7) emerge. Each has AC 13 and 1 hp. Young drifting remains have no effective attacks, and their only goal is escape (fly 20'). There is a -3d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.

Drifting remains: Init -1; Atk sharpened limb +2 melee (1d3 plus jold) or ovipositer +0 melee (infect); AC 15; HD 4d8; MV fly 20’; Act 5d20; SP hold, infect; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C.