Tag Archives: Mutant

V-Borgs

V-Borg

Well, as a late sign of the apocalypse, or an early sign of the next one, here’s an Earth Delta update! As always, this is a “fresh off the grill” version, not particularly edited or tweaked.


 

V-Borg

V-Borgs, or “Vehicle Cyborgs”, are hideous, blightspawned abominations that fuse partially-living beings with the remnants of vehicles. It’s often theorized that they were the pilots or crew of the craft when they were destroyed, and the combination of blight energies and the vehicle’s self-repair nanobot swarms fused them together. There are countless varieties, many which barely resemble their original forms; over the centuries since the Cataclysm, they have slowly changed and adapted. While not mindless, their motivations are alien and seemingly mad; as far as most who encounter them are concerned, they strike out blindly. Some of them have found their way to the Annihilation Army, while others have been recruited to factions of Turing’s Children.

The transition to V-Borg was hideously painful, and most V-Borgs remain in a state of anguish. This can wax and wane over time; a V-Borg might be rational for a few hours, days, or weeks, then suddenly be consumed by torment and turn violent.

V-Borg Monowheel Gunner

V-Borg Monowheel Gunner

Level 18 Artillery

Medium natural animate (blightspawn, cyborg)

XP 2,000

HP 136; Bloodied 68

AC 29; Fortitude 30; Reflex 32; Will 29

Speed 8

Immune blight, poison, disease; Vulnerability 10 radiant, 10 lightning

Initiative +18

Perception +17

Darkvision, Tremorsense 10

Traits
Monowheel
The Monowheel Gunner gets to save twice when an effect would knock it prone, or once if no such save is normally allowed. However, once knocked prone, it must use all of its actions in a turn to stand. This does not apply to external effects of powers which allow it to stand. In addition, the Monowheel Gunner’s maximum climb speed is 1, due to its lack of legs.
Standard Actions
r Machinegun (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: 20; +25 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 13.
C Spray Fire (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Close Blast 5 (All creatures in blast); +25 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 9.
C Wild Spray (weapon) • Recharge 4 5 6
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All creatures in blast); +23 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 6.
R Line In The Sand (weapon) • Encounter
Effect: Line 8 within 15. The nearest square must be at least two squares from the Monowheel Gunner. (Any creature which crosses the line); Whenever an enemy enters a square that is part of the line, the Monowheel Gunner may make a machinegun attack on the triggering creature as an immediate reaction.
Sustain Minor: The line is sustained. While sustained, the Monowheel Gunner must remain within 15 squares of any square in the line. If it moves (voluntarily or otherwise) more than this distance from any square in the line, this power ends immediately.
Move Actions
Overrun • At-Will
Effect: The Monowheel Gunner can move through any square occupied by an enemy of Medium size or less. This movement provokes opportunity attacks as normal. A critical hit on such an attack will end movement.
Skills Acrobatics +23, Stealth +23
Str 19 (+13) Dex 28 (+18) Wis 16 (+12)
Con 22 (+15) Int 10 (+9) Cha 13 (+10)
Alignment chaotic evil     Languages Binary, Ancient

The monowheel gunner resembles a decaying humanoid torso, interlaced with corroded (yet still functioning) mechanical parts, balanced atop a gyroscopic wheel. Rapid-fire fully-automatic weapons are mounted on both arms; ammunition appears to be endless, possibly synthesized from scavenged materials and stored internally, sufficient to last through any single battle.

Monowheels often roam in packs, speeding across open areas and attacking any living creature they see. It appears they view this as a sport, with complex rules, and the packs often wear identifying tokens, such as scraps of cloth of a particular color, or the skull of a specific animal. Other monowheels will appear with mixed groups of V-Borgs, other Blightspawn, or more rarely wholly unrelated allies.

Their internal balance systems are very effective, allowing them to move over broken and irregular terrain with no more difficulty than a biped.


Design Notes: The idea of the Monowheels as “sports teams” is one of those things that wandered into my brain while I was writing. I was trying to find an interesting hook or concept beyond, “They like to shoot things”, and suddenly the notion of them moving in patterns, wheeling and spinning and criss-crossing as they hunted down some humanoids, competing to kill them or drive them to some goal, according to some set of rules and limits only they perceived, jumped into my mind.

Acid Sands

Acid Sands

Yes, it’s actual content! A hazard for Earth Delta. (I told you it’s not dead, just pining for the fjords.)


Acid Sands

There are many places in Earth Delta where caustic chemical wastes and industrial metamaterials have combined to form pits of ultra-fine particles that in a corrosive suspension. These hazards often merge imperceptibly with the surrounding landscape, and are avoided by the local natives and wildlife (well, those who don’t avoid them tend to suffer the consequences…)

Acid Sands may be as small as a single square or cover an area 20 or more squares on a side. Large patches are rarely perfectly regular, and often have “solid” areas within them and/or wider and narrower regions.

A DC 22 Nature check or DC 30 Perception check is needed to identify a region of acid sands before someone has actually entered it; once tipped off to the existence of the hazard, the DCs to identify which squares within 5 squares of the observer are acidic drop to Nature 15, Perception 22.

Any non-flying creature entering acid sands is slowed and takes 2d6+5 acid damage. (See below for exceptions.)

Any creature starting their turn in acid sands takes 2d6+5 acid damage, and must make a DC 15 Athletics check as a free action or become immobilized. On the second turn of being immobilized, they become restrained. On the third turn, they are submerged in the acid, and begin to drown, but unless they have acid resistance, it’s likely the acid will kill them first. They can continue to make Athletics checks; once they succeed, they can move normally (albeit slowed) until they fail the check again (at which point, the cycle begins anew) or they leave the pit.

Anyone who can reach a trapped character (with a rope, branch, arm, etc) can try to pull them out as a standard action. The is a DC 15 Athletics check, or DC 22 if the trapped character is carrying more than a normal load. (This assumes the trapped creature is willing to grab the proffered branch, has a free limb to do so with, etc.) A creature who has sunk below the surface cannot be easily rescued in this manner. (They are considered to have total concealment, and vice-versa; DMs should consider the various mechanics and options which can negate such concealment and take them into account if players devise cunning plans, as they are wont to do.)

Characters who do not make ground contact (robots with hovering capacity, some types of mutants, etc.) can move freely across acid sands. Creatures who can walk on liquid, but who still make contact with it, take half damage but do not sink. Flying creatures suffer no particular penalties, unless they cannot hover, or are knocked into the sands while not flying, etc. If immobilized in the sands, they cannot fly out; if not immobilized, though, they are also not slowed, though they do take damage from the acid. (At the DMs discretion, creatures whose flight cannot be physically restrained, such as those who fly via telekinesis or anti-gravity, may be able to avoid being immobilized, or they may get a bonus on the Athletics check to break free.)

Any creature who takes more than 20 points of acid damage from the pits in an encounter has the bonus from their armor reduced by 2 (but not to less than 0) until an extended rest. Any creature taking more than 40 points of acid damage in an encounter has the bonus from their armor reduced by 2 until an Easy Technology check at the level of the armor is made during an extended rest.

The acid sands described above are a level 15 hazard. DMs can adjust the DCs and damage upwards or downwards as needed.


Design Notes: It occurs to me that a true Bastard DM could increase the damage by 1d6 after the character is restrained, and again after they’ve sunk into the pit, to reflect the greater exposure.

An interesting scenario using this hazard could be to place an artillery type monster (possibly an industrial robot which is immune to acid, or which is somehow supported above it, or on a rocky outcropping, or whatever) in the center of it, making it harder for the party’s melee types to close with it. This hazard also lends itself to any place with dangerous catwalks, or to mutant creatures or sapient beings with good forced-movement powers.

On a more meta-rules noted, this is a good example of what I consider to be the right balance of explicit rules and player creativity. (Well, obviously, if I considered it to be wrong, I’d just keep editing it…) To my mind, simply saying, “It’s acid quicksand.” and leaving the DM to decide what the effects might be puts too much burden on the DM to come up with rules on the fly and have them be consistent from week to week — nothing is worse[1] than having the laws of the universe change because the DM has a bad case of CRS. (“Can’t remember shit.”). On the other hand, it’s not possible to list every conceivable combination of abilities and situational modifiers. What I’ve tried to do is address the basic “physics” of the hazard (You get in it, you corrode and sink) and the most common and obvious questions and countermeasures (you can hover over it, you can fly over it, flying creatures who are forced into it will be gummed up, you can pull someone out, etc.). Now, it’s pretty likely any DM worthy of the screen could reach most of these conclusions on their own, but why make him do extra work when it’s the designer’s job to solve these problems for him? Even simple things like “OK, you want to pull him out… uhm… how hard should that be?” are things the DM should not need to waste time solving at the table. Given the data points provided, though, as well as gently nudging the DM towards what factors he should consider when making judgment calls (such as encumbrance level and whether you’re above/below the surface and visible to others), the amount of at-the-table work the DM needs to do ought to be minimized.

[1]Well, OK, being eaten alive from the inside by rabid weasels is probably worse. But it’s a close call.

Pyreflies

Pyreflies

More Earth Delta Critters

Slowly, painfully, Earth Delta inches towards the revised goal of being complete for levels 1-20, as I fill out the last of the level 16 monsters and plod on towards level 17! I will be honest — I’m not entirely happy with the Blightburn. It went through a whole lot of revisions and changes while sitting in the Monster Builder, and it still isn’t what I want it to be, even for a first pass. I’ve got a really clear mental image, but it’s hard to come up with the right mix of powers that are fun, playable, and fit the creature’s role. I mean, it doesn’t completely suck, or I wouldn’t be posting it at all, but I know it can be better.

One Of The Main Inspirations for Earth Delta

Part of it is the issue of role, one of the 4e hobgoblins of my little mind, in that I tend to think more in terms of “This is this, you know, thing, right, and it lives in this world, right, and so, it does this and this and the other, because, you know, that’s what this thing does.” The “role” it fills, if any, flows from its nature. 4e, however, inverts that: Nature flows from role. (It’s worth noting that the developers… including those who cheerleaded (cheerled?) “Role first!” in the run-up to 4e, have now done a perfect 180 for 5e, which I heartily applaud, but it would be nice if they explained how they came to recognize their sins and did a little Maoist self-criticism. Not going to happen, I know. Wait, where was I?) So I started with soldier, but the problem is that soldiers are best in groups, and while there are solo soldiers, most of what makes a soldier “soldier-y” is his ability to draw attacks and act as a defender, pointless in a solo. (“You’re marked, you get a -2 to attack anyone but him.” “You see anyone else on the battlefield?”) I then went with controller, but the power mix isn’t “gelling” properly. The easy out is brute — brutes are trivial to design as solos — but I have enough brutes and I wanted to get more variety. So, the Pyrefly Blightburn is still, pardon the pun, half-baked. The basic Pyrefly, I think, works well. I keep getting ideas to do a “Vampyrefly”, and the way in which Blight thematically damages healing surges certainly makes that plausible. The blightburn is halfway there, as it is, and maybe I need to shove it all the way there… or do the blightburn as an elite soldier, and the Vampyrefly as the solo controller, beginning fresh… hmmm…

Yes, I actually do just think and type what I’m thinking, word for word, literally.

In other news, I’ve also been working on my favorite on/off project, Stellar Warriors, which is back to being Pathfinder based. A little work on classes (mostly just changing flavor text) and weapons (two, two kinds of high-tech whips! Ah ha ha!), and, uhm, something else, don’t recall what. Bugger.

Anyway, the critters!


Pyreflies

Possibly related distantly to the thermite, pyreflies are man-size or larger insects commonly found in areas with high background radiation. They strongly resemble giant wasps, but their abdomen is grossly distended and glows with a brilliant, slightly sickening, energy. They can channel this energy into narrow beams, or trigger eruptions of brilliant light. When badly wounded, they respond by igniting the region around them, hoping to incinerate their attackers.

Pyrefly

Pyrefly

Level 17 Artillery

Medium natural mutant beast (insect)

XP 1,600

HP 126; Bloodied 63AC 29; Fortitude 28; Reflex 30; Will 29

Speed 4, fly 10

Resist 10 fire; Vulnerability 10 cold

Initiative +15

Perception +12

Traits
O Glow • Aura 5
The pyrefly’s aura is a region of bright light. It produces dim light in a further 5 squares, for a total illuminated area of 10 squares (5 bright, 5 dim).
O Brilliant Radiance • Aura 1
Any non-blind creature within the pyrefly’s aura is considered to be blind unless they have appropriate countermeasures, such as Resist (Radiant), sunglasses, and so on.
Standard Actions
R Tailbolt (radiant, fire) • At-Will
Attack: 20; +23 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 14 fire and radiant damage.
A Flare (fire, radiant) • Recharge 4 5 6
Attack: Area 3 (All creatures in blast); +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 9 fire and radiant damage, and targets are blinded (save ends).
m Tail Smash (fire) • At-Will
Attack: +22 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + 12 fire damage.
C Immolation Burst (fire, radiant) • Encounter must be bloodied
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All creatures in burst); +21 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6 + 9 fire and radiant damage, and target is blinded (save ends) and takes ongoing 10 fire (save ends). In addition, the entire area of the attack becomes a zone which does 10 fire damage to any creature entering the zone or starting their turn there. This zone lasts until the end of the encounter.
Str 15 (+10) Dex 24 (+15) Wis 18 (+12)
Con 18 (+12) Int 2 (+4) Cha 21 (+13)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

This is a typical adult pyrefly. It will normally be encountered with others of its kind, or share a feeding area with creatures also comfortable in the radioactive zones. Pyreflies are primarily nectar-eaters, and have evolved to eat the highly radioactive nectar and saps of the plants that live in the same ruins they do; it is this mix of highly irradiated organic chemicals which give them their abilities. Creatures which are generally resistant to the pyrefly’s abilities often hunt or feed in the same areas, using the pyreflies as de facto bodyguards.

Common Mutations

Some pyreflies have wings which channel the same eerily glowing radioactive luminescence that fills their abdomen. When viewed through the crystalline exoskeleton that forms the wings themselves, the light takes on shimmering, rainbow hues which have a sort of psychic resonance with most organic life. Pyreflies will often use this ability when closely surrounded or threatened, giving them ample opportunity to retreat and blast their enemies, or just fly away unharmed.

 

C Hypnotic Wings (radiant, charm) • Encounter
Attack: Close Burst 5 (All non-blind enemies in area); +18 vs. Will
Hit: Creatures are Immobilized and Dazed (save ends both).

Pyrefly Blightburn

Pyrefly Blightburn

Level 16 Solo Controller

Huge natural mutant beast (blightspawn, insect)

XP 7,000

HP 628; Bloodied 314AC 30; Fortitude 29; Reflex 27; Will 28

Speed 6

Immune blight; Resist 10 fire; Vulnerability 10 cold

Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2

Initiative +10

Perception +12

Tremorsense 10

Traits
O Sickening Aura • Aura 3
Any non-blightspawn in the aura only regain half the normal hit points from any healing powers. In addition, this aura provides dim light.
Bleeding Blight
When the Pyrefly Blighburn is bloodied, it gains the Bleeding Blight power. See below.
Standard Actions
m Bite (blight, fire) • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 11 blight and fire damage, and ongoing 10 blight and fire damage (save ends).
m Tail Slap (blight, fire) • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 4d6 + 5 blight and fire damage, and the target is knocked prone.
M Pyrelash • At-Will
Effect: The pyrefly blightburn may make up to 3 melee basic attacks against any targets in range, dividing the attacks among legal targets as desired. If all 3 attacks miss, Blighted Burst immediately recharges.
C Blighted Burst (blight, fire) • Recharge
Attack: Close Burst 5 (All creatures in burst); +19 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d6 + 8 blight and fire damage, and ongoing 10 blight damage and weakened (save ends both).
Miss: Half damage, and creatures hits are weakened (save ends).
Minor Actions
Stunted Flight • At-Will
Effect: The Pyrefly Blightburn gains a Fly speed of 10 until the end of its next turn.
A Burning Blightspit (blight, fire, zone) • Recharge 4 5 6
Effect: Area Burst 1; This creates a zone of blighted, burning, terrain. Any creature entering the area, or starting their turn there, takes 10 blight and fire damage. Any creature which ends their turn there loses a healing surge. The zone lasts until the end of the encounter or until the pyrefly blightburn creates a different zone.
Blightfeeding (healing) • At-Will
Effect: (Any creature within 2 squares of the Pyrefly Blightburn that is taking ongoing blight damage.); The target creature stops taking damage, and the Pyrefly Blightburn heals 10 hit points.
Triggered Actions
Bleeding Blight (blight, fire) • At-Will
Trigger: The Pyrefly Blightburn takes damage from a melee attack.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d6 + 4 blight and fire damage. .
Str 24 (+15) Dex 15 (+10) Wis 18 (+12)
Con 21 (+13) Int 2 (+4) Cha 21 (+13)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Pyrefly Blightburns are bloated, hideous creatures, resembling their smaller kin in general outline only. Normally landbound, with shriveled wings, they have a charred black-and-grey exoskeleton and sunken, hollow, pits for eyes. Their abdomen continues to throb with a strange, swirling, miasmic glow, and beneath their ashen flesh, there are occasional sparks of actinic energy. They exist without much purpose, wandering the blight-infused ruins, leaving radioactive fire and crumbling, dead, ground in their wake. When they sense life that is untainted by the blight, they attack with a mindless fury.

The World Of Synnibarr

The World Of Synnibarr

World Of Synnibarr

First Edition Cover, Image From http://www.legrog.org/, because I’m too lazy to scan my own copy of the cover. Hope they don’t mind.

OK, first off, let me note I have a few weird psychological issues with the World of Synnibarr, because I bought my copy (the first edition of the game, with the lion man cover) at an SF con in the early 90s where I a)had a migraine, and b)had my girlfriend of the time decide to spend all her time traipsing around with other people. Yes, I still nurture my two-decade old psychological scars. I hold on to my trivial emotional traumas the way other people hold on to their grandmother’s good china. (If your china is made in New Jersey, why isn’t it new jersey? And how can you have eyeglasses made of plastic? Shouldn’t they be eyeplastics? And that airplane food…)

So. Synnibarr. I will attempt to put my personal issues behind me, and review this San-loss inducing book fairly. No, seriously. No matter what my weird cross-associations may be with things, this game is wonked. I’ve referred many times to things that teeter on the edge of awesome and awful… this doesn’t teeter. Hell, it didn’t even fall off. It never got out of the pit of Awful to begin with.

Or…. so it appears merely from flipping through it, then trying to reconcile what I’ve read with any notion of a sane and ordered universe, or at least, a universe which was not actively malign. I haven’t tried to make a character with it, yet. Let’s see how it goes. Who knows? It might be better than it seems. Odin knows, it couldn’t be worse.

Continue reading

Wastespawn — Oilslick

That is not dead which can eternal lie…

Like I keep saying, Earth Delta is not dead, just pining for the fjords… the fjords filled with deadly killer mutant pine trees that fire explosive laser pinecones!!!! Hmmm… explosive pinecones… I like that… anyway, here’s the first Level 16 monster for Earth Delta, the Oilslick Wastespawn!

(In case anyone’s wondering, and I know you’re not, one of the distractions I’ve been dealing with has been my oft-mentioned but rarely-detailed Stellar Warriors. I should post about that…)


 

Wastespawn 

The wretched ruins of the Ancestor’s excess have left behind vast regions tainted with terrible toxins, not to mention awful alliteration. Various systems, including nanobots and genetically engineered bacteria, were usually dispatched to clean up and process such areas, but, during the time leading up to the Cataclysm, wars were fought by sabotaging and reprogramming such things, trying to turn the cleaners into killers. The mix of confused programming and reprogramming, and the passage of time, caused the ecosystems of cleaning bots, waste-eating bacteria, and offensive counter-programs to use the raw material of the wastes to form ever more complex beings, fast-forward evolution using the tools at hand. These creatures are now called wastespawn, and they live wherever the Ancestor’s offal is densely concentrated. They generally possess only fragments of intelligence, pseudo-minds composed of badly mangled bits of semi-aware code, but they are motivated by a strong hatred of an unknown enemy, which they assume to be any creature which enters their realm.

Some groups, especially rubblers and ratmen, have found ways to tame or herd wastespawn. The Annihiliation Army is known to sometimes capture them, contain them, and unleash them on strongholds as terror weapons ahead of their own invasions.

Wastespawn, Oilslick

Wastespawn, Oilslick

Level 16 Lurker

Medium elemental animate (ooze)

XP 1,400

HP 105; Bloodied 53AC 30; Fortitude 28; Reflex 29; Will 27Speed 5

Immune poison, disease; Resist 10 acid

Initiative +20

Perception +15

All-Around Vision, Tremorsense 50

Traits
Flammable
If the Oilslick takes more than 10 points of fire damage in a single attack, it ignites, gaining the “Burning” condition (save ends). This causes its slam attack to do an additional 1d10 fire damage, and gives it an Aura 2 that has “Any creature starting its turn in this aura takes 2d6+5 fire damage”. The Oilslick takes 2d6+5 fire damage on the start of its turn, as well.
Incorporeal
The oilslick takes full damage from fire and cold attacks.
Standard Actions
m Slam • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 11 damage, and the target is covered with oil (save ends). Oil covered targets gain a +2 to all defenses against being grabbed, but all forced movement effects against them increase by 1 square, and all terrain is difficult terrain for them (as they tend to slip and slide a lot). Flying creatures are grounded. If the oilslick is burning, the target also has ongoing 5 fire damage (the same save ends this condition as well).
Slick Slam • At-Will
Requirements: Must be in Flowing Slick form.
Effect: The oilslick makes two slam attacks. These can target any creature adjacent to it, or standing on its body. It can attack the same creature twice, or two separate creatures.
Move Actions
Flowing Slick • Encounter
Effect: The oilslick spreads out to become a thin carpet of oil, 5 squares on a side. In this form, it ignores difficult terrain, and it can squeeze through any space of up to 1 square wide. Enemies can move through its spaces, though it can make a slam attack as an opportunity action against any creature who moves more than one square through its body. It costs 3 squares of movement to cross each square (flying creatures may move normally). It can return to normal form as a minor action. When it changes to this form, it can pass under any enemies occupying the spaces it will now occupy, and performs a slam attack against each enemy so engulfed, at a +2 bonus. Its AC and Reflex defenses are reduced by 2 when it is in this form.
Return To The Pool • Recharge 5 6
Effect: The oilslick flows into the pool of industrial waste which spawned it. In this form, it is considered to be hidden, gains resist 10 (all but fire), and regenerates 10 points/turn. It can end this state as a minor action. It can move at full speed while hidden in this way. It can take no actions except to move or return to its normal state.
Skills Stealth +21
Str 21 (+13) Dex 27 (+16) Wis 15 (+10)
Con 21 (+13) Int 3 (+4) Cha 15 (+10)
Alignment evil     Languages

Oilslick wastespawn are barely more than animals, possessing only rudimentary self-awareness. They dwell deep in pools and seas of industrial wastes, primarily, of course, oil, which still had many uses in manufacturing and industry, even though, by the time of the Ancestors, it had lost much of its utility as a primary power source. (There were also many stockpiles of it, sometimes locked away for centuries, against some future shortage.) Oilslick wastespawn are basically symbiotic colonies that combine thick, contaminated, oil and highly-mutated oil-eating bacteria, which now function to convert other substances into oil. The oilslick will arise from the pool as a vaguely tentacle-shaped wave or whip of oil, and moves on its own by flowing forward and then drawing itself up. If it senses that its enemies are using any kind of fire or heat weapons, including lasers, a primitive and malicious instinct will cause it to not use its flowing slick power until it is ablaze, and then it will engulf its foes in its burning mass.


 Design Notes

As with most great things, this started with something I saw in a Jack Kirby comic,

What I Stole This From Was Inspired By

but by the time it hit the page, it had very little to do with the inspiration beyond the idea of “oil slick as monster”. Because I’m a lazy-ass bastard, and I’d rather beat one semi-original idea to death than actually come up with more than one idea at a time, I realized that while an oil slick monster was cool, coming up with a whole bunch of monsters based on “animated waste and junk” was even cooler, and by “even cooler”, I mean, “would require very little mental effort to find viable concepts to fill a variety of roles”. So there will probably be more wastespawn in the future.

This one has lower hit points than average, because it’s such a bitch to hurt, and, if you attack it in its native environment, it has a very powerful “retreat and rest” mechanic. Lurkers are supposed to be frustrating as hell and require some thinking to beat. Setting it on fire is a wonderfully double edged laser sword, because while it takes some damage, it also becomes much deadlier, especially if it’s saved up its encounter power for just such a contingency. The ongoing damage from the flames is low because of the other effects the basic slam attack already imposes; without them, the ongoing damage would be 10. The increased forced movement effect isn’t especially useful to the oilslick itself, since it has no powers that do that, but pair it with a controller or a brute/soldier type that relies on push effects, and you’ve got a good game of PC pinball going. I like that it’s an interesting synergy mechanic and a logical effect of what the creature is and what it does. Likewise, the notations on how its powers affect flying creatures are there because I dislike that 4e either encourages you to ignore all logic and apply the rules as written, or makes the assumption the DM will issue rules calls as needed. I’d rather empower the DM by telling him up-front what the game-effect power is modeling (an oil slick) and give him some advice on the most common type of conflict or question which will arise, namely, “Why can’t I fly over it?” The answers, as you see, are “If you’re flying and covered with oil, it goops you up and you fall, but, if you’re flying over an oil slick on the ground, no, it’s not difficult terrain for you.” (Difficult Terrain is a perfect example of “90% is not enough” when it comes to rules. By this I mean, it’s obvious that the 4e designers looked at 3.5s myriad of terrain types and conditions and said, “Look. 90% of the time, all we want is ‘This terrain slows you down’, and it doesn’t matter if it’s slick ice or brambles or deep sand or a high wind.” The problem is that for all of those, there’s different possible countermeasures — can a fire spell melt the ice, or a fire elemental ignore it? A nimble elf can shift on brambles, but what could does being nimble do against a powerful headwind or heavy gravity or a ‘zone of slowness’? The DM is constantly forced to either apply the rules as written, even if they make no sense, or get into pointless arguments over whether or not the rules apply, because the effects-based design of 4e offers little guidance when it comes to interpreting the source of the effect, and this, in turn, causes loss of immersion. This, in turn, is also why I pointed out some of the uses of sand or other “gritty” material, because it’s the sort of thing clever players will want to try, and should be able to, without the DM having to be forced to choose between something like “Uhm, OK, the handful of sand completely blots up the man-sized living oil slick” or “No, there’s no effect, why should sand hurt it?” With the provided guidelines, the DM ought to be able to cover most common variations and have an expected “baseline effectiveness” to work from.

Gameworld wise, I like the idea of a “wolfpack” of these things arising out of a small “sea” of oil at the bottom of a ruined factory, or of a Stronghold using one or two as “moat monsters”. The “overuse” of “quotes” in my “writing” can be strongly attributed to the aforementioned Mr. Kirby.

More Merry Mutant Mayhem

More Mutants!

Sadly, this has nothing to do with the X-Men, but everything to do with Earth Delta, Lizard’s still-ongoing attempt at Gamma World style adventuring for D&D Fourth Edition. As with prior articles, this is a “work in progress” sample, as I had some extra time this weekend and chose to use it writing about mutant turtles (but not, I will note, teenage ninja mutant turtles… though it ought to be very possible to write up on using Earth Delta, come to think of it…)

This article has just monsters, since they’re the most useful to people playing WOTC’s version of Gamma World, but for those who care, I have been constantly expanding tech items, mutations, and tweaking rules here and there as I go along.

The monsters in this section represent more examples of “spreadsheet design”, and by that I mean “I have a spreadsheet showing all monsters by role and level, and I’ve been looking for gaps”. In a perfect world, there will be at least one of every role for every level, and I’m slowly approaching that, but I’m also trying to push forward to get the higher level monsters done as part of my goal to get to Paragon Tier complete. This means there’s still a few gaps in the lower level monsters, and I managed to fill in one of them. So, if you’re wondering why there’s a level 1 lurker mixed in with the level 14 and 15 monsters, that’s why.

Also, in a perfect world, I’d have the CSS needed to display the monsters in a prettier format than a crude cut-and-paste from Word. I can cut them into a separate PDF and attach that, but I’m not sure it’s useful to many readers (this assumes I have any readers, a dubious premise) and I’ve found that any kind of extra step, such as “click here to read”, is often too burdensome for the Twitter age. So, until I actually publish the next full draft of the Mutant Manual, I am going to ask that you bear with me.

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Snakes… Why’d It Have To Be Snakes…

…because snakes are cool, that’s why! Duh! Only sharks are cooler… hm…. snakeshark! Oh, yeah, that’s going in there…

Anyway, here’s a bit more of work-in-progress for Earth Delta, namely, snakevines! I like concepts that lend themselves to easy expansion, mostly because I’m intellectually lazy, and if I get one quasi-good idea (possibly even a para-good idea, and if you get that joke, damn, you’re an old-school gamer), I will not just run with it, I will do a god-damn marathon with it. So, when I got the idea of sort of snake/plant hybrids, it occurred to me I could do all sorts of snakes and fill a lot of different niches, so a quick look at my spreadsheet of monsters showed me I still needed brutes and artillery for level 15… and that’s what you’re getting.

Wait, you ask, level 15 of what? No, you’re not asking that, since this site isn’t exactly teeming with random casual browsers, but, just in case… this is for Earth Delta, Lizard’s version of post apocalyptic mutant adventuring designed for the Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition rules, a lot like WOTC’s own Gamma World, except, a)mine doesn’t have collectible cards, and, b)rather ironically, mine is more compatible with core 4e than theirs. Go figure.

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Stinging Orca

Well, I’m leaving for GenCon in a bit, which means either I won’t be posting anything or I’ll be posting a lot — how’s that for boolean? I’ll be using my laptop, which has become frustratingly sluggish, and I’m not sure my passwords are up to date on it, and, anyway, if I’m lucky, I won’t have time, since if we’re away from home my wife doesn’t need to worry about how much noise she’s making I’ll be too busy gaming.

So, in yet another desperate attempt to pretend this is an ongoing concern and not another “cobweb site”, here’s more stuff from the yes-I’m-still-working-on-it Earth Delta, namely, killer whales. With legs. And tentacles. You know, the normal stuff.

Landwhale, Stinging Orca

Landwhale, Stinging Orca

Level 16 Brute

Huge natural mutant beast (mutant, mammal)

XP 1,400

HP 191; Bloodied 96

AC 28; Fortitude 29; Reflex 27; Will 26

Speed 7, swim 8

Resist 5 weapon; Resist 10 against blunt weapons; Resist 10 cold; Vulnerability 10 fire

Initiative +13

Perception +17

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Six-Legged
It is hard to knock a stinging orca prone. Whenever an effect would knock it prone (including a successful save to avoid being moved into dangerous terrain), it may roll a save to remain standing. If any power or effect allows it to “save or fall prone”, it may roll twice and take the higher result.
Squat Legs
The Stinging Orca cannot jump.
Standard Actions
m Bite • At-Will
Attack: Reach 1; +21 vs. AC; +2 bonus to attack rolls against prone or immobilized targets.
Hit: 3d10 + 10 damage.
M Paralytic Tentacles • Recharge 3 4 5 6
Attack: Reach 3 (One or two creatures in reach); +20 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d8 + 9 damage, and target is immobilized (save ends). .
Move Actions
Trample • Encounter
Attack: +18 vs. Fortitude; The stinging orca moves its speed; it may move through squares occupied by medium or smaller creatures, doing damage as detailed below. It may use this power in place of a charge, as a standard action, if desired. (It will then bite at the end of the charge, as expected.)
Hit: 2d12 + 10 and target is knocked prone.
Miss: Half damage and push target one square.
Triggered Actions
C Tail Swipe • Encounter
Trigger: The stinging orca is bloodied.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): Close Burst 1 (All enemies in burst.); +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d8 + 7 damage, and push target 1d4 squares. .
Skills Athletics +18
Str 21 (+13) Dex 21 (+13) Wis 19 (+12)
Con 21 (+13) Int 6 (+6) Cha 18 (+12)
Alignment unaligned     Languages Common, Growl

Stinging orcas are found mostly in sub-arctic climates, where winters are long and there are many herd animals to hunt. Extreme hunger might drive some pods to attack communities, which can be extremely dangerous; an angry pod of full-grown “black stingers”, as they’re sometimes called, can quite literally flatten a poorly-walled stronghold in minutes.

Stinging orcas have the basic body design of their aquatic ancestors, but they run on six strong, stubby, legs, and two long, ever-whipping tendrils emerge from their backs, just behind the shoulders. These tendrils exude a paralytic venom which leaves their prey helpless and easily devoured.

While less intelligent than humans, stinging orcas are still sapient and they will fight with cunning. A common tactic is for one to bowl over enemies and let his fellows move in on the downed targets while he goes after the object of his charge. They are cooperative hunters and will use their tendrils on each other’s chosen prey, and they will show no mercy when it comes to protecting the young of the pod.

Despite their ferocity and relatively low intellects, it is often possible to deal peaceably with the orcas, especially if there are offers of freshly killed meat. They are a gregarious and communicative lot, though, so news of untrustworthy dealings will spread across thousands of miles with remarkable speed.

Stinging orca blubber can be rendered down into oil by use of the Skin and Gut technique; this yields oil worth 9000 gp per whale, in 10 medium units. (See the treasure section in the Core Rules). Obviously, barrels or other containers are needed to haul it back. Rendering a stinging whale in this way makes it impossible to gather ingredients for consumables using the same technique; it’s one or the other.

Design Notes

A fairly standard baseline creature, with a minor twist, namely, the displacer beast style tentacles. I’m playing around with Traits more; a lot of the detail for creatures that 3.5 handled by subtypes or feat choices can be lost in 4e, if you don’t make the effort to put it back, and I’m starting to make that effort (I may go back and spruce up older creatures when I’m done with paragon tier, as that will be a good way to also fix typos, correct inconsistencies, and so on.)

Rereading the critter now, it occurs me this would make a great mount; I will need to write up a version of that. Perhaps it will be ridden by squid-people or shark-men or something.

 

Yet Another Earth Delta Update

Once more, a smallish update to Earth Delta (Lizard’s take on post-apocalyptic mutant gaming for Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition), very possibly the start of longer and more regular updates. This comes, oddly, just as I’m starting to really get into my design for Stellar Warriors, having come up with a really cool (I think) mechanic for the Medic class and a nice start on “Force” (name changed in the actual text for obvious reasons) powers.  I am simply tired of leaving things unfinished, and I am going to try to really complete ED, at least up to 20th level in terms of monsters, paragon paths, mutations, items, etc. This segment is more of a “filling in the gaps” bit, adding a new mutant animal type — Boars –and a few more Heritage Mutations. In the actual PDF, they’ll be nicely formatted, etc, but here, I’m just pasting them from Word and losing all the styles. (Eventually, I will learn enough CSS to get things to look good on this damn blog. It astounds me how few (that is to day, no) blog editors there are that will generate CSS in a WYSIWYG format while you type. A few have partial functionality, but I want things like spacing between paragraphs, borders, and so on.)


Boar

Boars are powerful, vicious, creatures renowned for ferocity and stubbornness, as well as great big tusks and questionable hygiene. Very often, they are portrayed as crude, belching, beer (or whatever fermented beverage exists in the post-apocalyptic ruins) swilling lechers, or, if you will, male chauvinist pigs. While this portrayal has appeal, and no one who chooses to play a boaroid should be faulted for wanting to indulge in it, these are not the only traits boaroids possess. For example, many also have a fondness for motorcycles. Whether indulging in their stereotypical crudity or not, they are larger-than-life creatures whose presence can be very commanding.

Boaroid Racial Traits

Average Height: 5′ 6″ to 7′

Average Weight: 160-300 lbs

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Strength or Charisma

Size: Medium

Speed: 6 squares

Vision: Normal

Languages: Common, Growl (Languages are listed on page 350.)

Skills: +2 racial bonus Intimidate (from Terrifying Demeanor), +2 racial bonus to Endurance (from Efficient Lungs)

Defenses: -1 Will (from Weak Minded)

Heritage Mutations: Efficient Lungs, Terrifying Visage, Large Fangs, Weak Minded, Double Heart

Other Mutations: You have 2 points to spend on beneficial heritage mutations. You may acquire a negative heritage mutation for additional points.

Boar’s Tenacity: When you are reduced to fewer than 0 hit points, you do not just go quietly into that good night. First, you do not fall prone as part of being reduced to 0 hit points, though you are dazed. Second, on your next turn, you may take one standard action before falling prone. From this point on, you follow the normal rules for dying. Lastly, you add your Constitution modifier to your death saves.


New Heritage Mutations

Alluring Scent (Utility)

Benefit: You emit a scent, subsonic noise, or psychic call that calms and attracts animals. You gain a +2 bonus to all Charisma based skills against creatures with an intelligence of 2 or less, and a +4 bonus on Nature checks when foraging for food.

Cost: 1

Cyberpath (Utility)

Benefit: You have a special affinity for self-aware machines (perhaps you are one, perhaps not). This may be an electromagnetic aura, an odd form of telepathy, or unusual senses. You gain a +2 to all Charisma based skills when used on creatures with the Android, Cyborg, and/or Robot keywords, and a +2 bonus to Technology checks when dealing with robots, cybernetic, etc, devices.

Cost: 1

Flexible Features (Utility)

Benefit: You can alter your appearance. While you can’t change your basic size or type (usually humanoid), you can significantly change the details. You can look like any humanoid of your size, and gain a +5 racial bonus to Bluff checks to resist attempts to penetrate this disguise. Looking like a specific individual is more difficult; you gain only a +2 racial bonus. Changing features is a minor action. You gain no additional powers or abilities by changing shape.

(Some may note this is pretty much identical to the morph power that’s part of the Polymorphic Bloodline; if you have this mutation and choose that bloodline, you get some useful enhancements to your shapechanging. )

Cost: 1

Merry Mutant Christmas!

Today, I finally got around to doing what I’ve been putting off for months — editing the monsters in Earth Delta (just in case you somehow got here from some odd link, Earth Delta is Lizard’s take on Gamma World style mutant adventuring using the D&D 4e rules). For a long time, I’ve been telling myself the lie that I would hook up my old PC, dig out the saved monster files from my old install of Adventure Tools, load them all, convert them all, and re-export them all. The truth is, after 6 months, it ain’t gonna happen, period. Furthermore, Adventure Tools does such a swell job of mangling converted custom monsters that I’d be better off just re-entering them, and, third, Adventure Tools doesn’t actually have the correct Monster Manual 3 attack and damage calculations anyway. So I just went through every damn monster in Earth Delta — that’s 114 so far, from Annihilation Army Alchemist to Wastelander Scout — and manually checked attack rolls and damage, and fixed a whole bunch of other errors as well — ranged attacks with no ranges, conditions with no end clause, confusing or poorly worded powers, missing keywords, typos, general inconsistencies, and more. The actual stat block format is still “old style”, which is a shame, but I don’t want to get stuck on stylistic issues when there’s content to be written.

I also decided to split Earth Delta into two books — the Core Rules, which has all the Player and DM stuff, and the Mutant Manual, because the file was just getting unwieldy in Word. I expect to be posting the core rules, chock-full of changes, fixes, expansions, etc (the last update published was October!), before the end of the year. The Mutant Manual… well, smeg it, it’s here now, and if I find a lot of errors I’ll just slip up another one while no one’s looking.

Anyway, here’s what the cover looks like. You can click on it to get the file.

Mutant Manual