Four Christmas-Themed Magic Items

Ugh, man, don’t you just hate Christmas? It’s such a stressful time of the year, with all these dumb obligations and traditions you have to endure. Blech, the worst, right?

Pft, no, dumb. Christmas is the best. I’ve been listening to Christmas music all day and now it’s time for you to read this post that resulted!

The Hat of Awakening

In a distant epoch, the demon Frozti, born beneath Satan’s wing, battled with a powerful wizard. The forces of good prevailed, and in the end, Frozti’s spirit was sealed within the wizard’s hat, where it has remained ever since. But, it is an immutable law of magic that any seal must have a key. Hoping to deny the vicious Frozti any means of escape, the wizard decreed that the seal would only be broken if the demon inside was able to befriend a million children.

Time passed, and in the smallest degree the seal began to leak. Whenever the Hat of Awakening is placed upon an inanimate object with human form, Frozti can animate that object, and control it as if it were his own body. But this false body is not enough for Frozti, he wishes to truly be free. And, so, whenever he has this chance, he plays the role of friendly oaf, befriending every child he encounters.

The untold ages since this demon was sealed have been the most peaceful in humanity’s existence. Every war in our memory pales in comparison to what came before. None now living could ever begin to understand the untold violence their forebears endured.

Frozti’s long effort nears its end. He need only befriend a handful more children before he is free.

Sock of Many Things

A white woolen sock, with red stripes. It’s fairly cozy, but lacks a mate, so you’ll look like a dingus if you wear it.

If the Sock of Many Things is left to dry by a fire, and remains unobserved for 6+ hours, it will miraculously fill with all manner of cheap junk!

Whilst carrying the full sock, at any time, the player may dig around inside of it, and pull out any item they desire. The only restrictions are that the item must be able to fit inside of the sock, and must have a standard market value of 10 silver pieces or less.

There is no hard limit on how many items can be pulled from the sock each time it is filled. The referee should merely declare that the sock is empty once it seems like the player has pulled out as much stuff as the sock could have held.

Tree of Generosity

Less of an item, and more of a location, given that it’s rooted to the ground it was grown in. However, it could easily be chopped down and transported, and would retain its powers for up to a month, if properly watered.

Anyone who smells the pine scent coming off the tree must make a saving throw versus Magic. On a failed save, they will be compelled to find a suitable gift for everyone who was present when their save was failed. Until the gifts are delivered, the character cannot pursue any other goal, or attempt to do any harm to the intended recipients of their gifts, unless those people attack them first.

Gifts cannot be just anything. They must be a material object (not a service, or other intangible gift), and it must be something the giver truly believes the recipient will appreciate, based on what they know of them.

Genesis Gingerbread

There’s a strange woman who sells this stuff in various markets all over the kingdom. She always trundles out of some nearby woodlands, but attempting to tracker her movements is the path to maddness. One day she comes out of the Bluewood, sells her wares, then returns from whence she came. The next day she emerges from Yellingbird Forest, eighty leagues to the North.

And no matter how well informed people are to be on the lookout for her, she’s never spotted by anyone who is wise to her tricks. Only folks who’ve never heard of her ever seem to encounter her cart, or her curious dough.

That’s really all she sells: gingerbread dough, by the pound. It’s an odd thing to find for sale at a market stand, but she offers a fair price, and assures you that it makes the tastiest cookies you’ve ever had. But, of course, only if you cut it into cute shapes before you make it.

When cooked, the woman’s gingerbread comes to life, mimicking whatever it was shaped like. Little gingerbread dogs act like dogs, little gingerbread men act like men, and if you’re a fuddy duddy who just makes normal disk-shaped cookies, well…they roll around a lot.

Sex in D&D

This turns me on. This is the sort of thing I like. I’m comfortable with sex as a subject matter. I would imagine that’s fairly obvious to anyone who has been reading my work here for any length of time. If you keep up with my play reports, session titles like “In Which My Ex Kills My Penis Monster,” “Have Your Cake and Fuck It Too,” or “Passing Through the BDSM district.” may have clued you in. Heck, I wrote a sex worker class at one point, and have never made any secret of the fact that I write pornography under a pseudonym. Sex is something I find very artistically engaging, and I’m not shy about pursuing that interest.

Until recently, it never occurred to me that I was unusual for feeling this way. After all, how many dungeons have you delved that included a harem? How many monster books include some creature inspired by psychosexual horror? In 2017, the ENNIE award for best adventure went to a book that includes a gangbang. That same publisher, LotFP, recently released a book called “Vaginas are Magic.” To me, it seems like sex is pretty well represented in the OSR scene.

Yet increasingly, I feel like I’ve been developing a bit of a reputation as a guy who “gets” how sex in RPGs works. I keep getting tagged into google+ threads where people are talking about it, because “Nick will have something to say about this.” And the other day, on Reddit, someone asked me point-blank to explain to them how I get away with including sex in my games without it turning into a shitshow.

So, alright, lets talk about sex.

First, why is sex interesting? Like, obviously we all enjoy a good orgasm now and again, but why include sex outside of a sexual situation? Why include in D&D?

Because sex is an elemental force. Beyond our individual lusts and experiences, it is a basic, primal thing that we all think about. And whether or not a particular flavor of fuck piques our interest, each new idea gets mixed in with the complex morass of our own sexuality. Sex is interesting because it’s universal.

But sex is also something that is deeply personal. People don’t tend to talk about it as much as they probably want to. We rarely have the opportunity to sit down with someone and intellectually engage with what sex is and what it means to us. It’s an emotional state, not so different from anger, joy, disgust, fear, or sorrow, and yet its exploration in life and art is comparatively shallow.

That’s why I feel compelled to put sex in my art. And, yeah, to some extent I do consider the D&D games I run to be my art. I know it sounds pretentious, and (even worse), story-gamey, but there it is. And I don’t mean to say that I’m rocking people’s world with how fuckin’ eye-opening my games are or anything. But, if your world has a BDSM town where everybody wears rubber and half the citizenry is on leashes, then that’s probably not something your players will have encountered before. It’s probably something they will remember, and that is a pretty decent accomplishment on its own.

Which I guess brings us to the question of how to do it right. The honest, but lazy, answer is “I don’t fuckin’ know.” You and yours are going to have different comfort levels than me and mine. I can’t write you a guide for how to make your friends comfortable with something they’re not comfortable with. But even ignoring that, even just writing about my own experiences, I can’t claim to be any kind of expert. Sex, in my games, is more of an ongoing experiment than anything else. That being said, I do have quite a bit of sex in my games, and I more or less make it work, so, what’s involved in that?

I never let sex be about anyone’s personal gratification. That’s what people are afraid of when they think about sex in a D&D game. They remember every horror story they’ve ever heard about some greasy basement dweller describing the contours and proportions of an NPC’s tits, while he fumbles and fails to hide his erection. That’s less about having sex in your game, and more about one person foisting their exhibitionism fetish onto the group.

Fortunately, if you play with decent human adults, that’s not going to be a problem.

You could probably chart a scary-accurate map of the sorts of weird sex stuff I’m into by paying attention to everything that doesn’t show up in my game world. I don’t think that sort of avoidance is really necessary to make sex work in a game, but it does help me stay honest. I know I’ll never get gross and linger over-long on the cake farting NPC, because cake farting isn’t my thing.

I also don’t make my game about sex, (most of the time). I just make sex part of the world. Players randomly encounter a dildo salesperson, but they don’t generally go on a quest to retrieve a magical sex toy. Sometimes the players are amused or interested, and they spend time role playing with the weird sex thing they bumped into, other times they ignore it and get right to the point. It depends on their mood.

When it comes to players actually having sex in the game, I want to share two examples I feel are usefully illustrative. One is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like sex was becoming a problem, and the other is just a good example of how sex should normally work in a D&D game.

To tackle the latter case first, the players were in the middle of traveling, and had a random encounter with a succubus. She openly flirted with the party, and made it pretty clear that she would be happy to have sex with any one of them. One player decided to take her up on that offer.

The player mentioned that his character was a fairly modest guy, and would prefer to do the deed out of sight of his companions. The succubus agreed, and so the PC and the demon disappeared into a nearby bush. I then briefly described how sex with a succubus is weird, and terrifying, but so intensely good that it kinda ruins sex with anybody else. (After all, what mortal could measure up to a literal embodiment of the act? ) I tell the player what the experience is like, without lingering on sordid logistics.

In-game, the act took 30 minutes, so I ask the rest of the party if there’s anything they want to do with their 3 exploration turns. When that’s resolved, the PC was kicked out of the bushes, and the succubus left without another word. (At least, not until 13 game-months later when she showed up and handed off their infant child).

In this situation, the player self-censored by taking things into the bushes. But, even if he hadn’t, I would have described things almost exactly the same way. I might have included a few other notes for the observers, like “You see things you’d never considered, and new fetishes take root in your mind.” Given that it was a sex demon, I may even have required some kind of saving throw against the desire to join in. But one way or the other, the whole thing lasted a handful of seconds, and the game moved on.

I don’t “fade to black,” but neither do I obsess. I describe sex with the same level of detail I would use if my players said “Lets stop in this town and find something to eat.” I don’t describe the firmness of the vegetables, or the way the meat’s juice dribbles down their chin. BUT, I do make a point to come up with some interesting local cuisine, I tell the players how it tasted, and maybe throw in a tidbit about some strange local dining custom they encountered.

If those same players then wanted to have sex with the bartender, and he agreed to it, I’d say something like “He leads you back to the store room. He’s surprisingly gentle, and at one point does this weird thing with his feet that you really didn’t like at first, but was actually workin’ pretty well for you by the end. When you finish, he quickly excuses himself to get back to work, lest he get in trouble.”

Easy.

When she asks what sort of things you're into

My second example involves an NPC named The Hangman. She’s a towering bodybuilder of a woman, and a high level wizard to boot. Her role in the game is a long story, but the short version is that she is the party’s patron. She gives them access to some cool stuff, and in exchange they do jobs for her.

At one point, one of my players announced his intention to seduce The Hangman. His attitude about it made me a little uncomfortable, because it felt like he was only interested in seducing her because he found her annoying. She’s an imperious and demanding NPC, and it felt like he wanted to sexually “conquer” her as a means of bringing her down a peg or two.

(I don’t want to unfairly malign this player. He’s a decent guy, and was never anything but respectful. This is more about how I felt, how I reacted, and how the game world was affected as a result).

I waffled for awhile about how I wanted to deal with this situation. On the one hand, The Hangman is an NPC, and the player just wanted to build a stronger relationship with that NPC. It’s a completely reasonable thing for a player to want to do in an RPG. On the other, the situation was bumping up on my internal barometer of grossness. I didn’t want to let this powerful character be reduced to her sexuality. I could have easily just said “She’s not into you,” but honestly, I didn’t want to fiat an NPC’s feelings like that. I try to let the dice handle that sort of thing.

It took me awhile to come up with a solution that, in retrospect, is painfully obvious. I just played to her character. The Hangman is immensely powerful, physically, magically, and socially. Just because she’s been seduced by a player, does not mean she will become any less powerful or imperious.

So after a few game-months of (honestly pretty charming) flirtatious role play between the player and the NPC, the Hangman decided to take what she wanted. The PC had sex with The Hangman, yes, but like everything The Hangman does, she did it completely on her terms, and afterwords expected him to be ready for a booty call at any hour of the day.

Which is, again, precisely why sex is so interesting to include. Dealing with that situation forced me to understand this NPC better, and created a lot of fun role playing opportunities, and character moments, for everyone involved.

Lots of folks will read this, and think I’m some kind of deviant whack-job for including all of this in my games. And of course, there are plenty of actual deviant whack jobs out there who go even further than I do. Like anything, it’s all about your level of comfort, and what you and your group enjoy. But, if nothing else, I hope I’ve demonstrated that games with sex in them aren’t necessarily doomed to fail.

 

 

NES OSR Bestiary 4: Faxanadu

And here you thought I’d only ever played the NES’s greatest hits collection. Pshaw, I played my fair share of weird ones, and Faxanadu always fascinated me. (Even though I sucked at it). It has some of the creepiest, most inventive sprites of any game on the console. The game had this brooding atmosphere to it that has always stuck with me.

The Pendantrist
Draws strength from correcting you. Anything you say, it will find some technical error to comment on. Half the time its corrections aren’t even accurate. For each correction it makes, the Pendantrist gains 2 hit points, which can raise it above its normal maximum. The green bile that leaks from the creature’s mouth is liquid knowledge. If consumed, make a saving throw. On success, you gain some significant knowledge (perhaps represented by a skill point) If you fail, the slow transformation into becoming Pedantrist yourself will begin.

Creepin’ Goat
They sneak everywhere they go. Generally they’re a benign enough race, preferring not to be seen, but only as a matter of preference, and not as a means of conducting illicit activities. However, they do have a violent reaction to being perceived.  If you see one, it’s best to pretend you didn’t. If they think they’ve gotten away with being sneaky, they’ll continue to sneak off. If they think they’ve been seen, they will attack.

Toothcare Worm
In a time before proper dental hygiene, the Toothcare Worm is here to try and help us. He has an intense love of teeth, particularly human teeth. To him they are works of beauty, simultaneously religious and erotic. He has developed several devices, such as the toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, and will teach anyone willing to listen about these things.

The Toothcare Worm is a generally amicable fellow, but hates being lied to about teeth. If someone tells him they’ve been brushing and flossing when they haven’t, he will know, and he will take their teeth away from them. Clearly, they are not capable of handling the responsibility.

Turkovik
Just before the alien ship ran out of power, the captain ordered her crew to download as much as they could about the world they were going to be stranded on. One of the most notable things they discovered while reviewing the information tapes was that humans love to eat a native creature that looks a great deal like they do–the Turkey.

Fearing the humans would kill and eat them as well, the captain ordered the whole crew to pluck their own feathers, exposing their pinkish flesh as an attempt to disguise themselves. They avoid humans whenever possible, as they are terrified of us, and will attack and kill out of that fear, rather than be taken to be roasted alive as they believe humans will do.

Parti Boi
While others merely enjoy parties, a PartiBoi is a party. They’re big tubby guys with huge mouths, who dance and clap around, and take a party with them wherever they go. A PartiBoi’s epistemology is entirely contextual. They know no language but the languages that the person they are speaking to knows. They don’t know anything about the calendar, except what reasons might exist for their celebration right now, at this moment. They have no craft or hobby, save for the ones that will promote good conversation with whomever they are with. Though their intentions are entirely innocent, there is a real danger that a PartiBoi will trap a person in a cycle of perpetual celebration that will leave them exhausted, destitute, or dead.

Bone Lips
Bone lips knows things. She’s a catalogue of the grizzly secrets that no sane person wants to know, but which adventurers sometimes need to know in order to get their job done. She’ll happily share, but only if you’ll let her have her way with your brain first. She likes to slide her tongue into a person’s ear, and probe every wrinkle  for some dark pocket of secrecy. She’ll share what she knows whether she finds something juicy or not.

The Capricious Batallion
You know those people who get weirdly uptight about the importance of “accuracy” and “realism,” in situations where those concepts have no bearing? Well, there’s a god like that. One day this god got really pissed off about the way children played at war. So he twisted their bodies with unnatural muscle, turned their sticks into swords, and their sweaters into chainmail. He filled their minds with hate and bloodlust, and organized them into a regimented body of troops.

Like anyone with a misplaced passion for realism, however, the god was strangely selective in his critique. He didn’t really develop the children’s minds at all. They’re still as unfocused and capricious as any children are, but with enough muscle and skill at violence to be  a real threat. He also gave them no goal, and so they wander around, killing and maiming whatever seems fun to kill and maim. Many have tried to assert some kind of control over the army, but any success is short lived, as the used-to-be-children quickly get bored and want to kill something else.

Kevin
He used to be a decent enough guy: quiet, never late for work, always polite to people. Then he turned 32 and it was like a switch got flipped in his brain.  He put on a robe, started insisting that he was a powerful sorcerer, contsnatly makes allusions to his ‘dark plans.’ It was offputting, but he still did his job, so people mostly just tried to ignore him.

What nobody realizes is that Kevin actually is spending his evenings attempting to summon a devil. Soon he will succeed, and manage to trade his soul for some of the dark powers he lusts for.

Outraged Obbo
Obbos have a rigid, traditionalist sense of morality. They are easily shocked by anything that might be considered inappropriate. They are also frail creatures, prone to heart problems. So even something as simple as seeing a woman wearing pants, or two men kissing one another, might be enough to kill an Obbo. Obviously, the Obbos themselves are not really much of a danger, as they can be easily killed with a string of mild cuss-words. However, killing an Obbo also causes it to stop excreting Liquid Euphoria while it sleeps. When the people who are used to enjoying that delightful tincture discover that their supply has been cut off, they may become predisposed to violence.

Miscreated Creatures: Arraku Arraku Arraku

One last peek into Miscreated Creatures. I hope you all have been enjoying these posts. As of now my life should be a little more under control, and I should finally be able to dedicate a more reasonable amount of my time to writing work. These last few months have really torn through my post buffer, and I haven’t been able to do much to replenish it.

Arraku Arraku Arraku

(Intelligent)(Unique)

AC 0, 8 HD + 32HP, Move 120’(40’), 1 Atk for 1d6, Morale 12
Head AC: 13

It is unclear if the body of Arraku Arraku Arraku is infinite, or merely surrounded with a complex series of undetectable portals. If one were to find her body and walk beside its length away from her head, they would find themselves back where they started before they found her tail. Yet they would detect no sudden change in the environment suggesting magical teleportation. And no one has ever stumbled upon her tail to begin with, ever.

Arraku Arraku Arraku (This is her name. To shorten it would not be her name. To call her by a name which is not hers would be a grave insult), is a snake-like creature with a flat, 5’ wide body. She secretes a sticky, viscous fluid which pools on her back to a 1” depth. She slides slowly through subterranean passages, her long body trailing behind her, never stopping even to sleep. She has an uncanny knack not to be noticed by anyone who isn’t actively searching the floor for danger. And anyone who carelessly walks over her back will be stuck.

Upon feeling the familiar tugs of struggle on her back, Arraku Arraku Arraku will fold back over herself, flipping her head onto her own back, and sliding along her length upside-down with her mouth open, ready to swallow whomever has succumbed to her trap.

  • If the lead character is not testing the floor when Arraku^3 is encountered, they will step on her back and become stuck. Arraku Arraku Arraku detects this, and her head will arrive in 1d10 rounds.
  • Hitting her body is as easy as hitting a rug on the floor, it’s an automatic success. However, any weapons used to attack her will become stuck after dealing damage, and can’t be used again.
  • When her head arrives, she will begin to twist her body back and forth, slamming any stuck characters into the walls and floor for 1d6 damage each round, + Save v. Paralyzation to avoid losing hold of any held weapons or items. If there are other characters in melee range, Arraku^3 may attempt to hit them with their companion using an attack roll. On success, 1d6 damage is dealt to both characters.
  • Once a stuck character is properly subdued and weaponless, Arraku^3 will slide forward and distend her jaw to swallow her victim whole.
  • If she is so inclined for whatever reason, her breath neutralizes the sticky substance on her back, so she can free any stuck characters by breathing on their feet, which is accompanied by an overpowering peppermint scent.

Whomever delivers the killing blow to Arraku Arraku Arraku is granted immunity to the next sticky trap they encounter, be it a web, or some other goo. The character can walk through it as though it isn’t even there.

Upon her death, the sticky goo will become inert and watery. It will overflow onto the floors as her body becomes a brown and withered husk. So brittle it will break under any pressure. But even in death, you’ll never find her tail.

Miscreated Creatures: Buzzbeard

Another entry from Miscreated Creatures:

Buzzbeard

Armor 15, Move 120’ (40’), 4hd , 2 Antennae 2d4, Morale 9

Some gods really aren’t supposed to be creating anything. It’s beyond their purview. But, like us, sometimes the gods break the rules. The Buzzbeard should not exist. The god that created them should never have made any creature, but he defied that dictate of the universe, and, predictably, an abomination resulted. The god was destroyed in the act, and forgotten by all who worshiped him. Only the Buzzbeards remember his name, and only as a foolish, arrogant sinner.

There are 18 Buzzbeards in total, and everything about them is grotesque. As though they were made to intentionally flout any sense of aesthetics. Their rudimentary language is composed entirely of croaking, and the buzzing of their insect-wing beards. They smell of mildew.

  • With its eyes glowing a dull red color, the Buzzbeard can mark everyone in a 60’ arc each round. No save is allowed unless a character is already behind partial cover, in which case they may attempt a save versus Breath to avoid being marked. Marked characters glow the same shade of dull red as the Buzzbeard’s eyes, including their clothing and any equipment they have. This glow illuminates up to a 60’ radius, and requires that an additional encounter die must be rolled every exploration turn per marked character. The mark will disappear if the character is touched by natural sunlight.
  • Buzzbeards always know where everyone they’ve marked is. They will ambush marked characters at the most inopportune times they can.
  • The Buzzbeard has four antennae-like appendages on their heads, which function like spears. These appendages attack in pairs, and a pair deals 2d4 damage. On a successful hit, if the antennae deal 4 or more damage, they become lodged in the target and cannot be removed without dealing an additional 1d8 damage.
  • The Buzzbeard’s main goal is to spread disease via its bite. But the shape of its face makes biting difficult. Once the creature is attached to their prey via their lodged antennae-spears, they can make a bite attack at +2. The bite deals no damage, but requires a save versus Poison. Once they’ve successfully bitten, they will dislodge themselves and retreat until they can attempt to surprise their prey once again. Characters who fail their save gain a disease called Yellow Flux.
  • Yellow Flux causes a banana-yellow pus to ooze from the bite wound. Every day after the bite the character should randomly determine one ability score, and permanently lose 1 point from that score, and must save versus Poison a second time. After the first failed save, the flow will increase and the ability score loss will increase to 3 a day. After the second failed save, the pus will begin to spray from the wound like a firehose, with enough force to knock someone off their feet. This process is excruciatingly painful as all of the fluids are drained from the dying character’s body. After a minute or so the spray will stop, leaving only a dry, withered husk behind. Cure Disease is sufficient to end the process. It is also worthy of note that the pus itself is absolutely delicious. It can be enjoyed plain, mixed with salt or liquor, and it’s also a superb marinade for both chicken and pork. (This is why the disease is sometimes referred to as “sweet flux”)

Buzzbeards are intelligent, but their intelligence is broken. They were created knowing everything that they can know. While their range of knowledge is impressive, they can never learn anything new. They might be able to understand a sentence, and they could respond to it, but they would be unable to repeat it.

One of the most important things they know that a Buzzbeard should always be the supreme being in its own environment. This is why two Buzzbeards will always retreat from one another, in acknowledgement that neither’s supremacy should be challenged by the other. There is a fairly exhaustive list in their minds of which creatures are greater than them, and which creatures are lesser. Humans, Dwarfs, and Halflings are most certainly superior to Buzzbeards, which is why the presence of humans is so enraging. The presence of a human forces the Buzzbeard to be an inferior creature. Elves, notably, are considered an inferior creature and may pass through a Buzzbeard’s presence peacefully.

If two Buzzbeards are forced into the same environment, they will tear each other to pieces. If a Buzzbeard can somehow be tricked into looking directly at the sun, a fire ignites within its brain, and it immolates from the inside out.

Whomever delivers a killing blow to a Buzzbeard will briefly know the location of every other Buzzbeard in existence. There are only 18 total, and they all live and hunt within a 15’ mile radius. Likewise, each of the remaining Buzzbeards will know the face of the creature that slew one of their number.

Miscreated Creatures: Revisiting the Rotocula

At some point, as a young college student, I heard some quote or other about how it was impossible for humans to imagine a truly unique creature. All the various mythological beasts are just combinations of different animals: the head of a this, the body of a that, and the tail of another thing. I don’t recall where this quote came from. It might have been something Rene Descartes said while trying to provide rational evidence of god, but google isn’t backing me up on that.

Regardless, as a young man who had always prided himself on his ability to come up with new creatures, I took this as a challenge. Could I come up with a body part for a creature that had no analogue in the natural world?

After some thought, I came up with an orb which would spin in a fleshy socket, allowing a creature to roll on a kind of organic wheel. I was proud of myself for the originality, despite failing to actually disprove the proposition. All I had really done is take an eyeball, sever the optic nerve, and make it a foot. I could claim creativity, but not originality.

Anyway, the idea stuck with me, and five years ago when this blog was just starting to hit its stride, I used the idea to create a sexually dimorphic creature called The Rotocula. The Male Rotocula was my 11th entry in the Merciless Monsters series, and the Female Rotocula was the 12th. Both are dragged down by being Pathfinder monsters. Lots of pointless statblocks and mechanical information, without any real life to them beyond a clever idea.

When I got started on Miscreated Creatures, I knew I wanted to revisit the idea to see what could be done better. Here is the result:

The Rotocula, as illustrated by cbMorrie

Rotocula (Female)

(Unintelligent)(Solitary)

Armor 12, 10 HD + 35 HP, Move 420’(140’), 1 Atk for 1d12/Xd6, Morale 9

Rotocula are a sexually dimorphic species. The females and males have significant differences in their anatomy, requiring separate entries for the genders.

Female rotocula appear to be an elongated lump of sagging blue skin, with a head on one end and a short tail on the other. On its back is a white diamond shape, matched by the white underside of the tail. The female rotocula has a vertical mouth which completely bisects its head, and can be opened wide enough for the tongue and tonsils to be in front of the teeth.

Rotocula move on a set of wet, rotating orbs. Alzazi the Bloody Hand, a wizard who captured and dissected a number of these creatures, wrote:

“These strange appendages–I hesitates to term them ‘feet’–are not (as heretofore suspected) completely unique. Upon vivisection, it cannot be ignored that these spheres closely resemble an organ found in our own bodies: the eye. Without the binding tassel of the optic nerve, it is allowed to roll freely, lending the creature a remarkable level of speed and silence of movement, but denying it the ability to travel outside the flatlands of its home.” -Alzazi the Bloody Hand, Archmage of the First Rank, from his seminal work, “Aberrant Anatomy”

    • Female rotocula prefer to attack victims which are fleeing by keeping pace with them, and moving forward to envelop them in their jaws. On a successful attack roll, the target takes 1d12 damage and is swallowed whole. (Standard swallowed whole rules apply)
    • If the female rotocula’s prey is standing still or moving towards her, she tends to clumsily slam into her target with force. On a successful attack roll, this deals 1d6 damage for each 30’ of movement traveled this round to both the target and the rotocula. (1d6 if the rotocula/target moved 30’ this round, 2d6 if they moved 60’, etc.)
    • Due to their high rate of speed, poor stopping power, and leading with the soft tissue of their mouths, female rotocula take x4 damage from weapons which have been set to receive a charge, and have a 5-in-6 chance to break any such weapon into pieces.
    • Female rotocula have a 5-in-6 stealth skill for the purposes of moving silently over flat terrain. If they must also hide from visual detection while moving, their stealth skill is only 1-in-6.
    • While the female rotocula is perfectly adapted to movement through the flatlands of its home, any kind of rough terrain provides a significant obstacle. Underbrush or trees do not hinder them, but any attempt to enter rocky terrain puts them in danger of getting stuck without purchase for their ‘wheels.’
    • The first time the referee would normally roll the female rotocula’s morale, she instead raises her tail and bellows a mating chirp that echoes loudly. There is a one-time chance that there are male rotocula nearby who will respond to the call and come defend their potential mate. Roll 1d20:
      • 1-13: No male Rotocula nearby.
      • 14-17: A single male rotocula comes to assist in 1d6 rounds.
      • 18-19: Two male rotocula come to assist, roll 1d6 for each.
      • 20: Three male rotocula come to assist, roll 1d6 for each

Whether or not any male rotocula are around, the next time the referee would check for morale they should do so normally.

While there is a kind of skull on each side of the female’s bisected head, only one side has a brain. Which side varies between individual specimens. There is a noticeable visual weakness from the eye on the non-brain side. It only vaguely sees hints of color and motion. If the weaker visual side is identified, it could be exploited by characters wishing to slay or trap the creature.

When mating, the female opens her mouth to its maximum degree. The male must place his snout in her throat. Once the act is complete, the female’s jaws snap closed, killing her mate.

While not ‘minions’ per se, it is notable that female rotocula don’t view insect people as prey. Often, small groups of insect people will climb on the backs of a rotocula to spend days feeding on the parasites that live there. If the rotocula is threatened while they are present, they attack with bows or by spitting acid.

The Rotocula, as illustrated by cbMorrieRotocula (Male)

(Animal Intelligence)(Solitary, or Mounds of 1d4 + 1)

AC 16, 6 HD, Move 360’(120’), 1 Atk for Xd8, Morale 7

Male Rotocula have sagging, reddish-brown skin. When they draw their three trunk-like legs up inside their bodies, it’s easy to mistake them for a pile of mud or dirt. They spend much of their time concealed like this, waiting for prey to wander into their territory. When they spring up, they move by rolling the three spheres at the end of their legs, much like the female does. Allowing them to move incredible speeds over flat terrain, but limiting them significantly elsewhere. The male’s mouth, filled with yellow teeth, is at the end of a fatty snout appendage dangling from beneath its body.

  • Characters who do not notice a hiding male Rotocula have a 4-in-6 chance of being surprised when it attacks.
  • Rotocula have a 6-in-6 stealth skill for the purposes of moving silently over flat terrain, or disguising themselves as a pile of dirt. If they must also hide from visual detection while moving, their stealth skill is only 2-in-6.
  • Thanks to their legs, male Rotocula are less hindered by rough terrain than the females are. They can move up to 90’(30’) in any terrain which they cannot reasonably roll through.
  • Male Rotocula attack by slamming their heavy bodies into targets, dealing 1d8 damage for every 30’ of movement between themselves and their target at the start of the round. (1d8 if they must travel 30’ to attack, 2d8 if they must travel 60’ to attack, and so on, to a maximum of 4d8). A successful hit roll is required for this attack to succeed.
  • Due to their high rate of speed and poor stopping power, male Rotocula take x2 damage from weapons which have been set to receive a charge, and have a 5-in-6 chance to break any such weapon into pieces.

Duchess Annabelle Drocellia, a student of the anatomical sciences, once successfully removed the creature’s brain and most of its internal organs and rode it around from the inside like a kind of carriage by pulling at the creature’s various ligaments. The body quickly atrophied and ceased to function further, and her notes on her methodology are spotty. But it is theoretically possible to turn the male’s corpse into a kind of rudimentary automobile.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thoughts and theories on tabletop games.