Friday, August 18, 2017

Weird Revisited: The Stalker

This post is originally from late August 2011. I don't think this monster made it into Weird Adventures or into one of my games, but conceptually it's one of my favorite Fiend Folio re-imaginings.

If you should find yourself in the City on a lonely railway platform in the wee hours or taking a night train across the dark countryside, you may happen to get the sensation you’re being watched. That may mean you have reason to be afraid.

Travelers in similar situations have looked to see the vague shape of what might be a fellow traveler clinging to the shadows of the platform, or have seen a gaunt figure receding in the distance as the train passes, its eyes glowing like signal lights.

The rail stalker appears to select his prey at random, but once he has done so he always lets the hapless traveler glimpse him at least once. The next time the victim sees the creature’s pale, naked, and emaciated form may be when he strikes.

The creature (it is unclear if there is more than one) attacks by opening his mouth absurdly wide in a caricature of a scream and emitting a sound or vibration. Things directly in its path may be damage as if thousands of years of erosion took place in a single moment, concentrated in a narrow area. Those nearby but not directly in the path describe a sudden wave of fear and a mind numbing hum. The stalker prefers to kill by embracing his victim and deilvering a kiss—a kiss that sends his deadly vibration through the victim’s body, turning bone to powder and liquifying organs.

Some thaumaturgists believe the sound made by the rail stalker is a sound from the end of the material universe, the wail of of inevitable armageddon that the rail stalker somehow carries in his withered frame. And aches to share with others.

[The rail stalker is, of course, a modern/near-modern horror riff on Fiend Folio’s Dune Stalker and resembles that creature in game particulars.  'Cause a naked, clawed dude trying to kiss you in a subway station is scarier than one in a desert, maybe.]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Something Rises from the Prismatic Hole

Layout continues on the Azurth Adventures Digest. It's looking like it's going to shape up to 28 pages.

Anyway, here's another excerpt. The stats of the frogacuda from the Prismatic Hole:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Seven of Aromater

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Seven of Aromater (1984) 
(Dutch: De Zeven van Aromater) (part 6)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Fearing the worst, Ember is elated when she hears Storm call her name. Storm remembers nothing of what happened. After Ember explains, Storm hypothesizes that perhaps the fact they are not of Pandarve somehow made her power affect them differently.

Now that they've changed back to human, the noxious atmosphere begins to take its toll. They move as quickly as possible through the yellow fog. Choking, they stumble back to the stairs where they left Nomad and the Eternal Prince. When they relate the story to the two of them, the Prince can't accept he can't have the brain coral. He runs into the poison fog.

The other three leave to find a way off the Tear.

They find the frog-things gathered outside!

They can't go back the way they came and they can't go back into the temple. Luckily, Storm spots a crack in the cliff face. They stumble onto an ice slipway and go sliding down with the creatures falling after them.

They finally land in a place where the gravity is less, perhaps near the equator. With the creatures on their heels, they run toward a forest that looks like its made of giant dandelions. They notice the winds are blowing the massive florets a way and see a possible way out.

Climbing a tree with the creatures behind them, they grab hold to one of the seedlings. The wind carries them out into the atmosphere around Pandarve--and in the path of a ship.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Fiendish Implications

Yesterday, our Land of Azurth 5e campaign continued last night with the usual uuspects: Kully the Bard, Shade the Ranger, Dagmar the Cleric, Kairon the Sorcerer, Waylon the Thief, and Erekose the Fighter.

Still in the village of Lumberton, the party sets out for the Pine Sawmill to get to the bottom of the rampaging automatons. They figure during the day time that the mill will be mostly deserted as the Iron Woodsmen would be out lumberjacking. They taking the river to the mill is the safest route (considering what happened last time they were on the trail through the forest). They hope they will find the Snarts the wizard Gargam tells them are being imprisoned there and end this mess.

They go into the mill stealthly, with Waylon the Frogling taking point. Waylon spies one Woodsman at work on the second level. Before he consult with the others he also encounters a little blue man (a Snart he presumes) who pulls a megaphone from somewhere and alerts the Woodsman to his presence before running away.

The rest of the party runs to help, but the Woodsman has reinforcements as well, and the battle is joined. Thanks to some strategic spell work from the magic-users, Kully and Kairon, the most serious damage from the Woodsmen comes from the explosions when they are killed. Ultimately, they kill defeat the six in the mill, though Erekose takes heavy damage.

In the battle, Waylon shoots the Snart that caused this mess and he briefly plays dead, but reveals he wasn't injured at all. Dagmar talks to it before it leaves, and it reveals that the Snarts aren't responsible for the Woodsmen going berserk and nor are they being held captive. He hints someone with horns is responsible before he disappears.

A search of the workshop on the highest floor of the mill reveals tracks from some sort of small creature that isn't a Snart. On a hunch, Dagmar turns fiends--and an angry little devil becomes visible with a flurry of curses!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Azurth Adventures Digest Update & A Sample Page

The Azurth Adventures Digest volume one is in layout now. Barring any unforseen snags, it will be out the middle of next month. Contents include: a brief overview of the piratical Motley Isles and random and random tables for generating quirky pirates and pirate captains, details on three NPCs and a monster, thumbnails of some exotic places in the Boundless Sea and a random table of weird encounters, and finally, a short writeup of  Candy Isle adventuring locale.

All of this is enlivened by art by Jeff Call and Jason Sholtis. Anyway, here's a sample page with art by both of them:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weird Revisited: Lies Your Mummy Told You

This post first appeared on August 13, 2010. It was written for Weird Adventures, but I think it could be useful in any setting...
Far to the west of the City, within the great Stoney Mountains, there are remote places where ancient ruins dot the hardpan, high-desert landscape. Unusual artifacts sometimes come from these ruins, and few are more unusual than the so-called dwarf  mummies.

Dwarf (sometimes pygmy) mummies look just as their name suggests: they are wizened figures little more than a foot tall, in their usual seated pose. Despite having none of the usual signs of life, the mummies are endowed with the magical semblance of life at least, and though they don’t move (usually) they are aware, and interact with their environment.

The susurration of the mummies can be heard by all, if conditions are quiet enough, but only the one “owner” of the mummy will be able to understand their dessicated whispering, which will sound as if spoken directly into their ear, even if they are as much as ten feet away.

The mummies' utterances will fall (either randomly or at the GM’s whim) into the following categories:

01-02: Pained, non sequitur reminiscences, possibly related to their long ago lives. These are related to times far too remote for modern hearers to relate to them in any useful way.
03-04: Cryptic foretellings of the future (anywhere from 1 week to 10 years hence) which will relate to the “owner.”
05-06: An exact and surprising statement about some predicament currently vexing the “owner.” The mummy will not elaborate.
07-08: A cryptic statement which seems to be about some predicament vexing the “owner,” but is in fact just nonsense.
09-10: Veiled Suggestions that someone the “owner” is close to is in fact conspiring against them. This may or may not be true, but the mummy will have details that make it seem so. Details will only be delivered in a way that makes the mummy seem reluctant to talk about the issue.

The longer a person owns a mummy, the more uncritical they will become about its statements. After a week or more in their possession, the owner will react to the mummy as if it has a Charisma of 18. After a month, a failed save will mean the owner acts as if charmed by the mummy in regard to believing everything it says, and treating it as if it is a trusted confidant.

No one knows who the dwarf mummies are, nor their purposes.  Any answers the mummies give in this regard will certainly be lies.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Games I Play

Despite relatively frequent reports of Gplus's demise, it turns out it still is a pretty good place to here about some Google Hangouts games. Real life stuff and my Hydra efforts don't allow me to play in as many as I might like, but I manage to squeeze them in every now and then.

I am a semi-regular in Jack Shear's Krevborna game. This is sort of 18th-early 19th Century horror fantasy in 5e. Jack expertise in Gothic literature really helps give this sort of era a distinct flavor. My character is (currently) the highest level surviving character in the campaign. He's Tobias Rune, "Scientific Diabolist" (i.e. Warlock). He's looks a bit like a young Terence Stamp here:

Recently, I'v played a couple of sessions of Paul Vermeren's Gridshock playtest. Gridshock began as a re-imaging of the Rifts setting, but very much became its own thing early in concept and has is attached to a system reminiscent of TSR's Marvel Superheroes. It wears its 80s-ness on its sleeve in many ways, (but it's hardly a pastiche of anything) having elements of superheroes, G.I. Joe, and anime about it. My character is a cactus-man alien named "Scorchin'" Ray Alpha.

Art by JP Cokes

I also continue to play in Jason Sholtis's biweekly Bewilderlands with a very funny crew. My character there is the Wampus Country refugee, Horvendile Early.

All of these games are a lot of fun. I look forward to revisiting them in the future.