Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spontaneous Generation in the Dungeon

Back in the day, people believed in the spontaneous generation of life; that is, they believed that life forms, such as worms, insects, and even mice, swans, and other larger creatures, generated spontaneously from unrelated things, such as corpses, water, and barnacles. Of course, today we know this is not true… but what if in your Dungeons & Dragons fantasy world, it was true?

This could easily explain the nature of the population of dungeons; explain how dungeons can so easily and quickly become re-populated; and also eliminates the need for humanoid nurseries, if you dislike the idea of baby orcs or goblin whelps.

Spontaneous generation in the dungeon begins with the death of a living creature in the dungeon. If that creature is not wholly eaten, if it is not buried with proper holy rites, if it is not burned to ashes, or otherwise if its body is not completely destroyed, then one or more new creatures might spontaneously generate from it within three days.

Note that humans and demi-humans are not spontaneously generated in the dungeon, though if their bodies are left in the dungeon, they can spontaneously generate other creatures! It might be most disconcerting for a party to leave their erstwhile delving companions in the dungeon after death, to return several weeks later and discover a whole new orc tribe with their facial features!

Note that evil versions of demi-humans, such as duergar and drow (the “maggots of the earth”), might spontaneously generate in a dungeon; you might also allow for spontaneous generation of human types, such as berserkers and cultists, who might look mostly human, but incomplete, and would lack a soul.

The order of species and potential generation is thus, in ascending order:

Slimes, Molds, and Jellies
Humanoids (baseline for human and demi-human bodies left in the dungeon)

Monsters with an asterisk (*) indicate monsters with that number of special abilities, as per the B/X rules. Note that humanoids (and humans and demi-humans) and certain monsters can rise again as spontaneous undead through this process! Skeletons, zombies, wraiths, and spectres are the most likely to be generated by this process; note that multiple skeletons and zombies can rise from a single body, after all, it is a strange kind of magic!

Whenever a creature dies, is left in a dungeon, and remains mostly whole roll a d6. On a 1-3, one or more creatures spontaneously generates from the body after 1d6-3 days (on a 0, roll 1d24 for number of hours; -1, roll 1d12 hours; -2, roll 1d6 hours).

If the original roll to determine spontaneous generation was a 1, re-roll the die; if the re-roll is a 1, then the creature(s) that spontaneously generates from the body are of one order higher than the creature; continue re-rolling as long as you roll 1s, until you no longer roll a 1.

Otherwise, the creatures will either be of the same sort, or a similar sort, or at the judge’s whim of a lesser order (for example, a boar might generate more boars, other animals, vermin, or slimes, mold, or jellies).

Thus if a cave locust (vermin) is left to rot, and you roll three 1s in a row, humanoids spontaneously generate from the corpse.

It should be noted that orcs, goblins, and other humanoids often have a slimy pit in their lair; there their shaman or sorcerer throws in bodies of victims, and using their dark magic, direct the forces of spontaneous generation such that they can assure the generation of new orcs or goblins or such from the bodies thrown therein…

Halve the number of maximum hit points the creature had (individually, not based on maximum HD roll), rounded up; this is the total number of hit dice of creatures that spontaneously generate from the corpse. The bigger and more powerful the individual, the more potential... In the case of the cave locust, a 2 HD creature with 7 maximum hit points, up to 4 HD of creatures can spontaneously generate from the corpse.

If a massive pile of dead creatures is left to rot, then group them together in 5s or 10s to determine spontaneous generation, and tally up all the hit points of the creatures to determine the maximum number of hit dice that can spontaneously generate from the mass of bodies. This is how dragons and other large creatures can spontaneously generate from lesser creatures.

Spontaneously generated creatures can be a mixed bag, and need not be the same creatures from even the same body; if most of the hit dice are taken up with one creature, and no creatures of that order can be generated with the remaining hit dice, go ahead and choose lesser order creatures. Creatures generated from the same mass of bodies often remain allies, and can communicate with one another or at least understand each other through a common language.

Creatures generated through spontaneous generation can reproduce normally (except for the human-like berserkers and cultists and other such pseudo-creatures).

The odds of spontaneous generation and improved order of creatures might be improved the deeper one goes in the dungeon; or near certain magical emanations; or if the bodies are left in the shrine of a god of the underworld; and so forth. You can also tinker with the number of hit dice generated by hit points, with perhaps 1 HD per three hit points or even less, depending on how quickly you want your dungeon to refill itself spontaneously…

As an example, a party slaughters a small clan of 17 goblins, and leaves the bodies to rot in their lair, sealed away from vermin and other things that might eat the bodies. The judge checks for spontaneous generation in blocks of 5s, with three blocks of 5s and the remainder of 2. On the first he rolls a 4; no spontaneous generation. On the second he rolls a 3; on the third he rolls a 2; and on the two remainders he rolls a 1, and then rolls another 1, and then a 5. The two normal rolls total 30 maximum hit points, generating 15 HD of goblins, replacing almost the entire clan. The two remainders with 6 maximum hit points generate a 3 HD monster; the judge decides that a giant black widow spider emerges from their putrescent bodies. Thus is born the Clan of the Black Widow…

The powerful lord Dahneel Vahr-Ghoom, an 11th level fighter with 79 maximum hit points, is slain in the dungeon; his body left to rot in a deep well by his erstwhile companions. The judge rolls for spontaneous generation; a 1, then another 1, and another 1, and another 1, followed by a 3. 40 HD of potentially two-star monsters are generated from the dread lord’s corpse. The judge decides to go with the lord himself rising again as an 11 HD spectre; the additional 29 hit dice are divided among seven wraiths (4 HD each) born of his wrath and the lord’s animated skeleton (1 HD), still dressed in his fine armor and wielding his magical sword. The new undead lord seeks the destruction of his former comrades, and quickly takes over the local dungeon level…

Friday, September 4, 2015

[Found Treasures] SnarfQuest Westrian Kingdoms

And here is a rendition of the Westrian or Olde Young Kingdoms of SnarfQuest in Hexographer.

I took my old hand-drawn map, scanned it, plunked it into Hexographer and ran with it. The Hexographer map is a mix between the original and my hand-drawn version. Seems like it could make for a nice, interesting B/X or Labyrinth Lord campaign setting...  I'll have to see if I can do anything with it...

Click to embiggen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Magical Cat Companions

Any character type can have a magical cat companion; they are not limited to spell casters (magic-users who already have a familiar may still gain a magical cat companion). Elves commonly have cat companions, usually Caitshees; dwarves are unlikely to have cat companions, though some cats consider dwarves to be a good challenge. Generally, a magical cat will be attracted to a character that can benefit from its abilities, as the cat thereby in return gains power and status in the feline world (un-measurable by normal standards).

The process of bonding with a magical cat takes several days. First, the character must be kind to the cat, feeding him or her treats and food, offering water, and spending time petting and playing with the cat. The prospective caretaker must protect the cat and care for him or her as he would any other companion. If, after several days, the character’s behavior has been exemplary, the cat signifies it has adopted the character as its own by placing its paws upon the character’s head and nuzzling him with its nose.

Thereafter the character gains the benefits from the magical cat companion as appropriate to the magical cat companion type. The benefits work irrespective of distance between the cat and companion. In addition to the listed benefits, the cat’s companion gain 1 hit point, suffers only half damage from falling damage, and also gains Infravision out to 30’ or increases the range of his Infravision by 30’.

The cat, which normally has 1 hit point, AC 2 (due to size and speed), no effective attacks, and Infravision 60’, gains a number of hit points equal to the level of the companion; these increase as the level of the companion increases. They make saving throws as per their companion, as though they were three levels higher.

Should the magical cat companion die or be purposefully driven away by the companion, all abilities are lost and the companion permanently loses a number of hit points equal to the hit points of the magical cat companion.

While some magical cat companions can speak, not all do, however, the bonded companion of a magical cat companion can understand the speech of his or her magical cat companion. They also have an empathic link, know each other’s emotions at any distance, and know what direction the other can be found, though not the distance (other than “near” or “far”).

Alley Cat
Alley cats are usually all black or all gray, and are usually small and lean. They are usually of the same gender as their companion. Alley cats make boon companions to thieves. The companion of this cat gains a +20% bonus to all attempts to Move Silently and Hide in Shadows, has a 99% chance of Climbing Walls, and a +1 bonus to Hear Noise; if the companion does not already have these abilities, he gains them as though he were a 1st level thief, with the bonuses..

Battle Cat
Battle cats are small, weak-appearing, and often are quite cowardly, almost sniveling. They can speak Common. Their power is in transforming into a large saber-toothed tiger form, brave and powerful, which is large enough for the companion to ride, should they so choose. They may transform three times per day, from small form to large form and back counting as a single use. In their large form they attack as per a saber-toothed tiger and have a number of hit dice equal to their hit points; roll for current hit points each time the cat transforms from small to large. When transforming from large to small, the cat returns to its small-sized hit point maximum, regardless of current hit points.

Caitshee are usually all black save for a white spot on their chest, and are usually quite large. Caitshees generally only bond with elves or half-elves, or those with elf or fey blood, but some make exceptions for others with promising natures (especially druids). They are usually of the opposite gender of their companions, though this can depend on the proclivities of their companion. Caitshees can speak both Elvish and Common. They can shapechange from cat to elven form at will; in their elven form they wear minimal clothing and fine jewelry, and have spell-casting abilities of a magic-user equal to the level of their companion; they know a mix of random magic-user and druid spells. The downside of the Caitshee is that in order to maintain their shapechanging ability, after every nine shapeshifts (to and from elven form), they must steal the soul of a dead human by passing over the corpse before it is buried.

Cats-o-Nine-Lives are usually calicos, and are often quite small. They are usually female. They can speak Common. They are always very sweet and kind, always trying to make friends of even the meanest creatures. The cat provides its companion a -1 bonus to all reaction rolls. The cat can cure light wounds, once per day per creature, by licking the wounds for a number of rounds equal to the number of hit points restored (1d6+1). If the cat’s companion is reduced to 0 hit points, the companion is immediately restored to 1d6+1 hit points and the Cat-o-Nine-Lives loses one of her nine lives. When the ninth life is used up, the cat dies; this does not penalize the companion any hit points, though she does lose all magical cat companion abilities.

Chatty Cat
Chatty cats are usually blue coated, with their own glowing nimbus, and with glowing green eyes; they are usually quite large, and often pudgy. Chatty cats can speak and understand all languages, and provide their companion with the same ability. They are excellent diplomats, tricksters, and often con-men. They can levitate, turn into gaseous form, and turn invisible at will.

Lionheart Cat
Lionheart cats are usually tabbies, orange or grey; they tend to be large, with a sleek build. They can speak Common. They are able to stand on their rear legs and can handle tools and wield weapons with their front paws. They are often quite brave and cut a dashing figure, and leap into fights with aplomb, preferring the use of small, fine rapiers. They have a +4 bonus to hit creatures of ogre-size and larger. They are almost fearless (+4 to save versus fear) and grant this bonus to their companion.

Lucky Cat
Lucky cats are usually torties, and tend to be small. They have a saving throw of 3 for all effects, and an Armor Class of 0. They grant their companion a +2 bonus on all saving throws and a +2 bonus to Armor Class. However, as they are so lucky, they also tend to be unwise, and get themselves and thus their companions into dangerous situations.

Spellcats are often strange and unusual colors, including neon red, lime green, or electric blue, with glowing eyes of the same color. They tend to be small and lean, and often wear wrappings like a mummy. They generally only form bonds with spell-casters. They can speak Common and 1d3 dead languages, usually those associated with eldritch magic. Spellcats sleep on their companion’s heads while their companion sleeps; provided they sleep on their companion’s heads for a full night’s sleep, the companion can memorize one additional spell of each spell level known the next morning. The companion can also concentrate and use the sense of the cat companion at any distance. The companion can also use the cat to deliver touch spells at any distance; however, it cannot be the source of spells with any range other than touch.

Wild Cat
Wild cats are usually grey tabbies, very large, almost as large as dogs. They have an aura of feral wildness about them. They can speak Common, though it is always with a barbaric accent. They love to fight; they attack as though they had a number of hit dice equal to their hit points, and have a claw/claw/bite routine that deals 1d2/1d2/1d4 points of damage. When cooperating against a target with his companion, the Wild cat and the companion each gain a +2 bonus to hit that target. A Wild cat can leap up to 10 feet forward, 3 feet backward, or 5 feet upward from a standing start; with a running start, the forward leap can reach 20 feet, and the upward leap can reach 10 feet.

A character can have only one magical cat companion at a time. Being cruel to a cat companion or ensuring its death merely to enable the character to take on a new companion makes that character ineligible to ever have another cat companion; it also makes him a marked target for all feline creatures he ever encounters (they immediately attack him). There is also a percentage chance equal to the character’s level that the King of the Cats sends a Sending after the offending character.

A Sending is a magical cat assassin. It always knows where its target can be found. It can Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, and Climb Walls with 99.99% efficacy. When it finds its target, it waits until the target is sleeping, then sneaks in and sits on the target’s chest. The target must make a saving throw versus Death each round; each round the target fails, the Sending drains one life level. If the target makes its save, it wakes up and sees the Sending staring down at it. Though the Sending is no larger than a normal cat, it fights as though it were a saber-tooth tiger, complete with hit dice and attack forms appropriate to that creature.