Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Opal Island

This is a relic from the fall of 1998, my first semester at college (Tulane University).  I was not actively gaming at the time but I still created game material as if I was.  I recently found a notepad from back then that had a two page write up of the Opal House, and I think it is a pretty cool little locale.  I have transcribed the text below, but I have also included the original two pages at the end of this post for shits and giggles.  I left the text unedited with the exception of fixing a "they're - their" goof.

West Riverside, Opal House

Built on the muddy banks of the Chala River, dozens of ramshackle huts are home to Chala's poorer residents.  Severe storms sometimes push the muddy river water up into this tangle of humanity, but there are always desperate people more than willing to throw up new shacks and call Chala home.  The Opal House is the most infamous of the areas many bars / brothels / smokehouses.  Built on the only permanent island among the myriad shifting sandbars of the Chala River, it is a three story structure built on a massive rock that juts out of the water. There are ferries that run on a cable between the isle and the mainland - the cost is 1 GP to go over to the island, but that fee includes free drinks and a bunk in one of the small bunkhouses if so desired.

[2012 Annotation: I am pretty sure the "small bunkhouses" I refer to are the 5 large one story buildings with a single door.  There must have been a disconnect between the map drawing and the writing.  One can only imagine the conditions inside those flop houses.]

The first floor of the Opal House is a bar with seating and tables.  The air is smokey and music drifts in circles around the naked women dancing on platforms around the walls.  Up one flight of stairs is a cushioned room.  Silver hookahs snake their arms through a haze of sharta smoke to the mouths of the semi-conscious lying on the couches.  Access to this upper level - another two gold coins paid to the slim, dark men standing in front of the stairway.  Ten private rooms adjoin the main smoke room - tapestried and curtained off for privacy, more than a few deals and murders have occurred in their confines.  One more flight of stairs leads to the brothel - drugged out men and women stumble up the velvet covered stairs and emerge into a blue dream.  Rustling blue silk lines the floors, ceiling, and walls.  An unseen and unfelt force moves the silk in gentle swaying motions, and blue-green light flickers out of silver balls that float in mid air.  Passing out in this maze of hallucinations can be deadly - people have disappeared, and there is always a demand for drugged human bodies.Three gold at the door, and you can have a night of delirium on the third floor of the Opal House.  Ferries back to the mainland leave every half hour - 12 person capacity, 1 SP each.

Opal Island is riddled with caves formed when limestone intrusions in the granite rock dissolved in the river water.  Several of these caves have been linked together by Sama Shadow and serve as store rooms and secret meeting halls for the mysterious man.  These caves and store rooms are usually empty - occasionally, hired hands will be loading or unloading boxes of wine, black lotus, sharta and lak.  These boxes are marked with Sama Shadows emblem, a black orb in front of crossed silver scimitars.  The northern store room has a wooden shield bearing Sama's standard - the orb and scimitars over a field of gold.  It hangs on the east wall, and pressing on the orb opens the sliding panel.  The lower levels are very damp and seldom used for anything other than holding drugged bodies.
The lowest levels are home to Sama Shadows "servants".  In the first cave a horrific snake demon coils and flexes in the dark devouring virgin sacrifices and waiting for Sama Shadow to summon its services.  The lower cave swarms with larva, twisted yellow worms with human faces.  Sam Shadow uses these monstrosities as currency in many of his dealings.

Sam Shadow keeps beautiful women in the upper cells - their noses are plugged and a pipe inserted into their mouths.  With every breath in and out they inhale a blend of sharta and black lotus.  After weeks of this, they are beautiful  compliant puppets.  In the large cage, men and women who ended up in Shadow's care huddle terrified in their own feces awaiting their fate - there is always a market for deaf and dumb slaves, their will broken by Sama Khadoum... Two skeletons guard the long hall, terrifyingly resilient and resistant to damage.  A ladder in the corner of the first room leads up to a small cave with a submerged tunnel leading into the river, close to the main dock.

Alien Insects - Tube Sucker

Tube Sucker

Number Encountered: 1d6: 1-5: solo tube sucker, 6: encounter 2d6 tube suckers

Move: Jump 6       Initiative: +15   Perception: +25  

AC: 25  (35 in full retracted mode)
REF: 26  (20 in full retracted mode)
FORT: 24  (40 in full retracted mode)

Minor: Full Retracted Mode:  The tube sucker pulls all extremities inside the central body and turtles up.

Minor: Tractor Beam: ranged 15   +20 vs.FORT, pull target 1d4+1 squares

Basic Melee:  Claw: +22 vs. REF, 2d10+5 dmg and knocked prone

StandardStomach Tube: melee reach 1, +22 vs AC, 3d12+12 acid dmg, ongoing 12 acid save ends, pull target 1d4+1 squares.

Recharge 4,5,6: Claw Pounce: Jump 6 and make 3 x Claw attacks vs target, this move does not provoke attacks of opportunity, if all 3 Claw attacks land make a Stomach Tube attack at +26 vs. AC.

The ubiquitous tube sucker is the aquarium cleaner of the alien planet's surface.  Three metal plated tentacles ending in wicked claws emerge from the 5' spherical body, itself a metal plated ball of muscle.  A charged gas cloud inside the body serves as a simple brain, and three organs floating in the gas detect electro-magnetic radiation and minute vibrations.  A 10' long flexible tube containing an acid-filled stomach exerts a telekinetic pull on living organisms.  

The tube sucker reproduces asexually, a new organism forming like a corm on the outside of the parent's body.  Even the youngest, newly separated tube sucker has the claw and stomach attacks described above, and they typically grow to full size in very short order feeding on the detritus left by the winter storms.  Their ability to quickly assume a fully retracted spherical form allows them to survive even the harshest of winter storms.  Their gas cloud brain is not affected by the constant jarring as the metal plated sphere of muscle surrounding it bounces across the landscape.

Tube suckers usually drift around alone, but occasionally groups are encountered.  Often the group has its origin at a large food source nearby, such as a downed red layer giant gas body.  Hundreds of tube suckers might be found at a fresh collision site, sucking up the thick layer of organic debris.

Tube suckers seem to be constantly hungry no matter how much material they dissolve in their tube stomachs.  The particular kind of acid found in the tube stomach has a connection to shadow in its molecular structure.  It has a constant supply of hungry ions that stream into existence from beyond.  A shadow organ at the base of the tube sends the byproducts of the digestive process through shadow to re-incorporate as energy elsewhere in trans-dimensional space time.  It is possible that every living tube sucker is part of a single larger entity elsewhere, the functional mouths of a multi-dimensional being.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alien Spore Thrasher

The Alien Spore Thrasher is a parasitic organism that propagates with special spores that drift around looking for a suitable, moist, living environment to start growing in.  A tiny intermediary form is assumed by the thrasher, barely anything more than several sacks that produce a mixture of venomous secretions and a set of mouthlike tubes that connect to the host organism.  The spore thrasher kills its host in short order and consumes its body to grow the thrashing fruiting body depicted above.  The stats below are for the fruiting bodies of large spore thrashers that grow in the metal arm forest ecosystem from the body of fallen metal arm trees.

HP: 1d4 x 100 HP 
AC:20  FORT:22 REF:25 WILL:18
Basic Attack:  melee reach 1 Thrash +12 vs. REF, 5d12 dmg
Minor Recharge 4,5,6:  Release Poison Spore Cloud Close Burst 1d6(6's explode on the radius of the burst roll- roll an extra 1d6, all subsequent 6's also explode) (choose 1 spore type)
Redirecting Cloud : Until the end of the Alien Spore Thrasher's next turn, if any enemy rolls a natural 1-4 on a melee attack roll, the thrasher chooses a new target for the attack and the enemy must reroll against the new target.
Stupifying Cloud: Persists for 1d6 rounds.  Any creature beginning its turn in the cloud or entering the cloud must immediately make a save or become dazed, save ends.
Blinding Cloud: Persists for 1d8 rounds.  Any creature beginning its turn in the cloud or entering the cloud must immediately make a save or become blinded, save ends at -2.
Infecting Spores:  +20 vs. FORT vs. all in burst.  Those hit are infected.  The tiny growing organism rolls Stealth +30 to hide its presence (and avoid future heal checks).  1d4 days incubation period.  -3d12 HP from Max HP total.  Save at -2 each extended rest or the infection progresses, -1d12 additional HP from Max HP total.  Three consecutive saves ends the infection, as does magical healing specifically targeted at the infecting organism.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alien Insects

I have been on a really productive streak lately in my 4e game as far as generating new material.  Most of the time I spend doing DM prep work is in creating new individuals or species for the party to encounter and detailing environments and locations for those encounters to happen in.

Twists and turns in the game have led the party to leave the jungle that they have been adventuring in for a couple dozen sessions and explore an alien planet in another dimension.  Different dimensions in my game have different rules for how energy and matter behave.  This planet has a solid metallic core that slowly cooled, forming well separated bands of different metals at different depths.   Some of these metals can take a gaseous form if subjected to an intense energy charge, and some take a crystalline form when the gaseous form is cooled.  Some of the metals have natural connections through shadow to other dimensions, giving them wondrous properties such as 10 x elasticity or compounding energy storage.

During the planet's summer, when it is closest to the sun in its very elliptical orbit, the heavy gasses of the atmosphere stay a few thousand feet above the surface of the planet, but during the long winter the planet grows cold and the gasses blanket the surface.  Most of the planet's biomass lives in the atmosphere; the bottom of the food chain are tiny chemosynthetic organisms with bouyant gas bladders which produce a strong bioluminescence as a by-product of digesting metallic gasses.  The light visible on the planet's surface is entirely the result of these glowing zooclouds.

During the winter storms, cold winds send tons of atmospheric life smashing into the planet's surface.  An entire ecosystem that mostly hibernates during the summer and comes to life in the winter specializes in cleaning up the detritus, eating the cleaner-uppers, eating the eaters, etc.

I have made up dozens of alien species, many blurring the line between plant, animal and insect.  And luckily I can now post about them even before they are discovered by the party!  Last session Tilia and a giant elder dragonfly creature shared a mind meld (Tilia has a nature spirit living inside of her which facilitates such things).  The ancient creature imparted thousands of years of encounters with the planet's denizens to Tilia, nearly killing her in the process with an overload of energy to the brain.  I gave Tilia a bonus to knowledge and nature checks conducted on this planet as a result, but I also thought it would be fun to post some creatures here so Mike (Tilia's player) can actually gain some real game knowledge that might be very useful...  starting with the creatures that were swooping in to engage Tilia in combat when we paused at the end of last session!

Ice Fly (adult form)  Initiative: +50 (superconductive nervous system)  Stealth: +25  Perception: +25

HP: 30                                 Movement: 15 Flight Hover
AC: 40                                 Shift 5 Fly as a minor action
FORT: 30
REF: 50
WILL: 30 (an incoming attack must hit the WILL defense twice to connect - superconductive nervous system)

Aura 1: Stinger Spine Aura:  Any creature that starts its turn in, moves into, or has the aura move past it suffers the following attack: Im. Reaction, melee +30 vs. Reflex, 5 dmg, ongoing 5 (stackable) save ends.  All damage done by the stinger spines also deals stackable ongoing damage because shadow connections are made that enable the ice fly to keep pumping a very effective cocktail of anticoagulents and uppers into the victim until a successful save is made.  Any creature taking 20+ points of ongoing damage from this gains an extra minor action, taking 30+ gains an extra move action, taking 40+ gains an extra standard action due to the stimulant effect.

Basic Attacks:  Stinger Spines (melee +35 vs REF, 3d6+5, ongoing 5 [stackable] save ends);
or Pincer Mouth (melee +35 vs REF, 2d12+8 and slowed save ends.  The target is also marked.)

Standard Attacks:  2 x Tail Stinger Spines OR Tail Stinger Spine/Pincer Mouth combo

Recharge 4,5,6: Blinding Dance:  Close Burst 10, +25 vs Will against all enemies in burst, Dazed and Blinded, save ends at -2, and the ice fly can teleport to any point within the burst.

Recharge 6:  Swarming Flies: Remove ice fly from play.  Place 4 ice fly tokens at the corners of a 5 x 5 close burst 2.  Each token has Aura 1 Tail Spine Aura and cannot be targeted by melee attacks.  Each token shifts 10 squares.  Remove ice fly tokens from map and place ice fly at any point in the original burst.  The ice fly gains 40 temporary HP.

Encounter:  Ice Fly Arrow:  move 30 fly (must move at least 10) and make the following attack at any point during the move: +40 vs. REF, 5d12 dmg +Blinded +Slowed, save ends at -2, and the target is marked.

Mark:  If marked enemy takes a move action, the ice fly shifts 10

The ice fly is a feared predator of the boundary between the red layer and the uppermost blue layer of the atmosphere.  Its exoskeleton is metallic crystal, and its nervous system is entirely made up of a superconductive metal that actually transmits signals many times faster than the speed of light.

Nymph Form:  Ice Fly Nymphs live in liquid gas lakes that pool on the upper surface of the floating living islands in the red layer of the atmosphere.  They are also feared predators.
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