Wednesday 27 April 2016

d10 Monster Weaknesses

Drawing from Arnold K's post about shitty dragons and some of his posts on G+ about making weakness as integral a part of monster design as strength.
  1. Monster is afraid of something. This could be something stupid, like cats or bards or children. It could also be something that humans are afraid of, like darkness or heights or talking to people.
  2. Monster is very old. If it breathes it's wheezy and asthmatic, if it has bones they're fragile, if it has memories they're unreliable. If it's an ooze then maybe it's tough and rubbery, like old Blu-Tack.
  3. Monster is lonely and depressed. It desperately wants friends, but it also still wants all the other things that monsters usually want. Which is probably why it doesn't have any friends.
  4. Monster is vain. It won't kill anyone who is actively bolstering its self-esteem. You can distract it with flattery, gifts, or easily-refuted objections to its favourite line of intellectual argument.
  5. Monster has creepy obsession with one specific person, who thus exerts a measure of control over them.
  6. Monster has awkward deformity, like teeth where they shouldn't be or a useless extra head.
  7. Monster collects something. This could be something stupid, like cats or bards or children. It could also be something that humans collect, like paintings or teddy bears or Magic cards.
  8. Monster is lazy. It's overweight, has unhealthy eating habits, doesn't stir from its lair before midday and has a hard time really committing to any project. If killing you looks hard enough it might just not bother.
  9. Monster is hiding from other, scarier monster. It might owe them money or just be lower down on the food chain.
  10. Monster is just incredibly dumb. This is probably funnier if it thinks that it is incredibly smart.
These fall into a few distinct categories. Physical peculiarites (age, deformity), character flaws (laziness, vanity, stupidity), conflicting goal systems (avoiding something, collecting something, stalking someone). The last is probably the most useful of the three. The tension between wanting to do X and wanting to do Y seems likely to lead to some interesting emergent behaviour.

Anyway you should ignore all this because I have just discovered that Googling the phrase "awful taxidermy" is a better summation of the ethos of this blog than any words could ever be. This blog is about awful taxidermy now.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

d10 More Terrible Assassins*

thank you, google image search

  1. Lichen Mahone. 100% success rate, but insists on going at her own pace. Has been known to take up to ten years for a single kill, by which time the intended victim had caught on, hunted down Mahone's employer and had their whole family slowly boiled.
  2. Fastidious Raj. Peculiar religious precepts mean he can only kill people who are wholly submerged in water. Has come up with various strategies involving barrels, trapdoors, rivers, bathtubs.
  3. Vargo Featherflank. Either committed to erotic griffin roleplay or genuinely believes self to be an erotic griffin. Jumps on victims from rooftops, nude except for clawed gloves, oiled and fully erect.
  4. Marta the Moustache. Lulls victims into a false sense of security by pretending to be utterly convinced that her false moustache renders her invisible. Distracts them with antics until her accomplice strikes.
  5. Mr. Cranberry. Reverse vampire. Has too much blood. Face is puffy with blood always. Holds people down and puts blood in them till their veins burst.
  6. Rem Bardscowl. Will only kill you with something that is an anagram of your name. Most of her victims, sadly, not named Fnike.
  7. Hildegard Spry. Gets really enthusiastic about the job, comes up with brilliant plans for like an hour then can't figure out how to make it as good as she wants it to be, gets bored and distracted and spends the next three days slumped on the couch reading comic books before finally doing a half-assed job at the last possible second.
  8. Oxman Jake Jarvis. Really really wants to one day kill someone with a stampede of oxen. Won't stop talking about it. Always trying to figure out if his latest job could possibly involve a stampede of oxen.
  9. Petra Squidlegs. Has squids for legs. Not individual tentacles, whole squids.
  10. The Right Honourable Thumbus T. Macflann. Poses as a merchant or local politician, approaches his target through the usual channels and offers a hefty, though not absurd, reward if they perform some moderately dangerous task. Task is 1000% more dangerous than he makes it out to be. Will actually pay reward, though, in order to maintain his cover.
*terribleness of assassins not guaranteed.

Monday 25 April 2016

d10 Terrible Assassins

The women and men of the Assassin's Guild are among the most deadly entities ever to walk the earth. They can slit your throat with a whisper and break your back with a glance. The least of them has taken more lives than the plague and knows less mercy than the desert. Once they mark you, your fate is more inevitable than Death itself.

Nobody ever actually hires them. People aren't that hard to kill, and there's always some asshole hanging around a tavern who'll do it for the local equivalent of a buck fifty. Here is a selection of those assholes.

have at thee!

  1. Katy the Sponge. So named for her habit of sponging up every last drop of her victim's blood before leaving them lying in an alley. Often this takes long enough that somebody wanders along and she has to kill them as well, which causes an unfortunate chain reaction.
  2. Jumbles Marco. Trying to build a Frankenstein in his basement out of trophies he takes from his victims, but can never remember which parts he's missing. Has three left feet and no right ones.
  3. Joey Two Eyes. Has two eyes. Believes for some reason that this is a huge deal. "I got one little advantage, see. These babies." *points to eyes*
  4. Goolblum the Wizard. Gets close by disguising self as wizard, then pulls knife out of hat.
  5. Mucky Mike Callahan. Always has a cold. Always having his sneak attacks foiled by ill-timed sneezes. Would otherwise be a pretty good assassin.
  6. Nimbus Urk. Moves with absolute silence. Sadly, is an eleven-foot swamp troll who glows in the dark. Often teams up with Mucky Mike, to the advantage of neither party.
  7. Puzzles Malone. Has a gimmick where if you solve all her puzzles you can go free. Puzzles are pretty hard, but this still leads to a lot of annoying conversations with clients when she has to explain why the guy she was paid to kill is still walking around.
  8. "The Butcher". Is a butcher. Flatly refuses to use any of her butchering equipment in her assassin work on the basis that it would be unhygienic.
  9. Colander Jones. Down-on-her-luck flower fairy. No wings. Crawls in through your window at night with tiny dagger between her teeth, the game plan being to fill you with holes until you bleed out. This never works, but she is a relentless optimist.
  10. Trudy Crabs For Hands. Four knives, one in each claw.
thinking about all the black clothing he still has left to buy

Sunday 17 April 2016

Tell Me More About The Golems And Their Silent Bureaucratic War

People make golems and they tell them what to do. But the people don't agree so the golems don't agree. But golems don't talk. They do. So when one golem's trying to build a tower and another golem's trying to dig a well in the same place they come to an impasse, incapable of communicating and both deeply and utterly furious with each other.

In those places where there were once people who made golems there are now only golems. The people succumbed not to natural disaster but to a lack of interdepartmental communications.

When you tell a golem to do a thing it doesn't stop doing the thing until you tell it to stop doing the thing. Otherwise it will continue to do the thing forever. And by the time you realize you should have told the golem to stop doing the thing two weeks ago it has probably already completely fucked you in some way that will require golems to fix. Which would be fine if you were better at keeping track of which golems needed to be stopped at any given time. Unfortunately you delegated that task to golems.

So you have three golems digging sewer tunnels according to Blueprint A and four golems digging sewer tunnels according to Revised Blueprint B and two golems digging aqueducts for fresh water according to Blueprint C. And you had a golem who was supposed to make Blueprint Golems A stop when Revised Blueprint Golems B started. But in order to avoid contaminating the water supply you also had a golem who was supposed to make Revised Blueprint Golems B to stop when Blueprint Golems C started. And another department had a golem who was supposed to make Blueprint Golem C stop when Blueprint Golems A started. And all golems look alike so neither of you realized there were two golems. And also you thought there were only two golems working on Blueprint A so now every time the two metagolems go around turning golems on and off one additional golem gets turned on and told to dig sewer tunnels according to Blueprint A. And then you died of cholera.

And the golems are all still digging those sewer tunnels.

And a hundred hundred years later your city isn't a city any more. It has all the right pieces, roads and tunnels and buildings and walls, but none of it connects right. None of it works. If you tried to build a house Planning Commission Team 476-KR would turn up, politely wait until you had left each room, then tear it to pieces, just as they do when the construction teams come past on Tuesday mornings to put six hours and forty-three minutes into building half a minaret. The layout of the city is constantly changing as the golems try to balance thousands of contradictory commands. They cannot. There is no acceptable equilibrium. There is only the slow, silent war.

Sometimes the golems stay in the place that was the city. Sometimes they spread across the landscape like a plague, turning everything into city as fast as they can, but they can't make more golems so they thin out as they spread until they are alone, a thousand miles from the nearest other golem, a cone of metropolis abandoned behind them. Sometimes they build down, and the bottom floor of the dungeon is golems who will keep digging even when they strike lava. Sometimes they build up. Did you know there's not a single bad painting of the Tower of Babel?

this is a thirteenth-century terracotta figurine from djenne, mali
they're good and you should google more of them
it's also a golem

Friday 15 April 2016

Gameable Shit From "Quest for Camelot"

Rewatched a childhood classic the other day. First of all, it's completely astounding that this movie was released four years after The Lion King and yet is such complete, unmitigated garbage*. Secondly, this movie fucking rocks, if you have some children you should foist it on them. If you are a child you should foist it on you.

Here is some gameable shit from the film, because I am kind and generous and benevolent and etc.

d6 Plant Traps from Living Forest
  1. Whirlstumps. Man-sized, grow packed together. Pressure on base and touch at shoulder/waist height cause it to snap itself into the air violently, carrying you along/smacking your skull. 
  2. Snatcherbranches. Trees that grow all branches with enormous tension along bottom. Older branches cave to less and less disruption. Trees at centre of grove suddenly start ramming down trying to trap you, but younger trees at edges will start to slam if you run past them, snapping vines.
  3. Sprinting Twigs. Actually a parasite growing over the surface of all the leaf litter. Causes burnt twigs to start crawling in random direction. Will seem cute until you realise how much you need a fire.
  4. Whipbuds. Thick petals of pig-sized bud hide dexterous stamen, open at a touch. Stamen whips towards your breath when exposed. Sap paralyses.
  5. Hillmaker. Meters-deep moss reacts when you walk on it, rolling out of the way so you can't apply lateral force. Shallows make running hard. Hit a deep section and all of a sudden you can't run, walk or jump.
  6. Mossmaws. What looks like moss/algae covered stone is actually thick-skinned pitcher plant, jerks open to swallow people whole. Tendency to grow into bottom of shallow streams for maximum surprise value.
d6 Monsters That Deform Their Environments
  1. Dragon. Acidic urine carves out gullies and canyons, leaches into soil, kills plant life. Guano worth a small fortune. 
  2. Stone giant. Farts out suffocating, heavier-than-air gas that pools in caves and low places, killing small animals and anyone who crawls.
  3. Roc. Tornado-speed wind of wingbeats erodes away topsoil to create scrubby plains and scoured-clean mesas.
  4. Gorgon. Petrified forests. Herds of basalt buffalo grazing on granite grass. Only living things are lichen and reptiles.
  5. Golem. Trenches dug, towers erected, mills built in places where water has long since dried up, all in accordance with centuries-old instructions.
  6. Giant flies. Harvest huge mounds of rotting flesh, vegetation. Maintain nitrogen-rich atmosphere for larvae.

AND Merlin has this one weird cameo appearance and he is the only character that looks like the mouth animation was done for a different language, which is exactly what I want from Merlin.

AND the comic relief is a stunted set of conjoined-twin dragons with opposing tastes in art which is such a good idea for an NPC you might not actually do it justice.

AND the villain has a plan to steal the Excalibur and fuse themselves with it. Uses fusion potion to first make army of mercenary/weapon hybrids. Works with sentient, servile griffin, whom is bullied mercilessly. Is voiced by Gary Oldman for some fucking reason.

* Turns out this is not a Disney film, which I thought it was (thx Jeremy Duncan) though I guess that explains why the songs feel like a lazy attempt at psychological torture.