Monday, December 22, 2014

Carcosa: Psychic Cyborg Sorcerer (of Slaughter)

I owe back taxes to Joesky so here is a Carcosa for you.

This adventure is intended for levels one through ten or something like that. There are monsters here that would pummel most level seven parties. That said, I’m pretty sure it’s possible for level one characters to kill everything in this hex if they really apply themselves.

There are two deserts on the map in the Carcosa book. Pick a hex in one of them, and put this stuff there. If you have the book, you know that each hex has two briefly described features. It shouldn’t be too hard to add them in to make this mess even weirder.

Roll random encounter checks (1/6 chance) every 90 minutes in this hex. Descriptions, stats, and reaction tables for the monsters are at the end of this post.
1 2d4 blue people riding mutant protoceratopses (shield lizards)
2 3d6 green people hunting with long spears
3 mutant apex dinosaur (great tooth)
4 psychic cyborg sorcerer of slaughter
5 3d12 wild shield lizards
6 2d4+2 mutant tetrapterix (cliff birds)
7 spawn of shub-niggurath
8 acid bug

This hex is riddled with the maze-like sandstone cliffs of a technicolor desert. Small clumps of spiny bushes appear every so often, but most have been stripped clean by shield lizards. Every 12 hours, there is a 1/8 chance of a sandstorm picking up that is fierce enough to force the PCs to find shelter or take 1 die of damage per 10-minute round. These storms last 1d8+2 rounds. In addition, PCs must consume double the normal amount of water and food rations due to the harsh climate.

The connections on this node map take three hours to travel on foot (so two encounter checks). Instead of forcing players to map out and navigate some contrived and irritating maze, make them roll an intelligence check to not get lost whenever they try to move from one node to another, unless they’re following a guide. If they fail, they find themselves traveling in circles, traveling for 1d12 10-minute rounds and finding themselves back where they started.

Using a highly detailed map grants advantage to navigation checks. Nothing is stopping the PCs from saying “we take the time to carefully map the canyons as we explore” so that retracing their steps is easier.

I would start the PCs off here, where they are railroaded forced to seek shelter from a fierce sandstorm in a deep cave with a tight entrance, too small for any of the local dinosaurs to have gotten into. There is, however, a man-sized acid-spitting centipede living in here, which gets a surprise round unless someone passes an awareness check. The centipede’s acid glands can be harvested to fill 2 standard oil-or-potion sized glass jars.

In the corner of the cave, they find a human looking figure half buried in the sand. If they approach it for a closer look, they see that it’s a long-dead space alien. All that’s left of it is a skeleton and gauntlet (treat as small shield) that has a screen and a switch on the left forearm. If the switch is pressed, the screen activates, pointing the way to the alien’s nearby ship. If anyone can actually read the space aliens’ language, they know exactly what this is. Otherwise they just know it’s a topographical map of the area, centered on their current location, with a blinking beacon to the northwest. The sandstorm dies down after 1d6+2 10-minute turns.

The spaceship is located in the middle of a fairly large crater (which is old enough to have some sparse vegetation), and appears to have been badly damaged and partially repaired. The cargo bay door is open. All the interior doors are closed but can be opened with a successful strength check, with advantage if using something like a crowbar. This makes a lot of noise, which will alert the psychic cyborg sorcerer to the PCs’ presence if it’s currently in the ship (a 2/3 chance).

The armory contains six grenades (3 dice of damage) and four high powered laser rifles (2 dice of damage), as well as ten napalm canisters for the cyborg’s flamethrower arm and sixteen power cells for the rifles. The rifles need to be loaded with a power cell to function, and each cell has 50 charges.

In the robotics lab, the PCs find a whole mess of mad scientist style notes, from which they can learn that: 

1) The psychic cyborg sorcerer found a damaged robot in the crashed ship, which he repaired and into which he transplanted his brain. He’s been using the torch and advanced strength of his new body to repair the ship.
2) He knows the conjuration ritual for the Violet Mist, but won’t perform it until he learns the ritual to bind the creature.
3) That binding ritual is inscribed on a tablet that is probably in a serpent-man temple a week’s march away. 
4) That temple is currently inhabited by cannibal bone men that exact tribute (as in people to eat) from all the nearby human groups through force of arms.
5) All of the structural repairs to the ship are complete, at this point it’s just the engine left, which should take about four weeks to fix. The notes are complete enough that only an intelligence check with advantage would be necessary if the PCs wanted to finish fixing it.
6) The sorcerer has a serious grudge against any leader of men you as the DM want, either an original one or any of the ones described in the hex crawl, and would not hesitate to wipe out that man’s entire settlement for the sake of vengeance.

A settlement of 200 green people live in another cave in the cliffs, hiding from the local predators and hunting the smaller dinosaurs. They usually arm themselves with long stone-tipped spears, slings, and stone axes, but their leader and his two lieutenants have acquired red laser pistols (1 die of damage, d100 charges). They aren’t actively at war with the nomadic blues that have set up camp nearby, but they live in a state of mutual distrust. Every week there is a 1/6 chance of the greens performing an elaborate ritual (not the powerful kind that sorcerers perform, more like church) in which they sacrifice a group of 1d12+6 captives to the spawn in the oasis.

There is a completely dark chamber at the back of the caves, the walls of which are covered in cave paintings. The paintings’ subjects include the alien shipwreck as an event, the local dinosaurs interacting with the greens, the spawn of shub-niggurath rising from its lake to accept a blue man sacrifice from green worshippers, and battles between the greens and peoples of various other colors.

Another chamber in the cave system contains dozens of crude candles and well-polished fertility figures carved from precious stone, with a large mat of leaves and feathers covering most of the floor.

The nomadic blue people are a bit more advanced than the nearby greens. They’ve learned to tame the shield lizards and use them as mounts and beasts of burden. Their hunters and war parties are usually armed with short bows and iron axes, wearing leather armor and shields made from deceased shield lizards. Their tents are similarly made from shield-lizard hide and bones. The leader of the blue nomads is armed with a sonic bazooka (3 dice + save or unconscious for 10-30 minutes, 25 charges).

This group of blue men likes to collect hollow objects of all shapes and sizes, and use them as percussive instruments in elaborate drum-circle dance rituals.

Unless something unexpected and probably terrible happens, this small tribe of about 60 will stay in the area for 1d6+3 weeks. Every week, there is a 1/6 chance of all-out war breaking out between the nomadic blues and the cave-dwelling greens.

The connection marked ‘narrow path’ protects them from the nearby apex dinosaur, which would have to squeeze through, making it vulnerable to attack.

Roll a d6 to determine the color of lotus using the description in Carcosa as a table. There are 2d6 harvestable doses of that here. That’s all. Move along. Well I guess you could be a dick and put a radioactive mutant snake or something in the bush, hiding. Actually yeah do that.
HD: 1/2 AC: as unarmored
Attack: bite (1 die of damage + poison (save to resist) + radiation sickness (save to resist))
Move: 20’

There is a large bone pile in the corner of the cave. If the PCs search it, they find a magic chain whip forged by serpentmen among some human bones. It has a ten foot reach and gives its wielder a +6 bonus to any attacks that attempt to disarm or otherwise disable their target rather than cause HP damage. It would have been useful when the serpentmen were capturing humans alive for sacrifice.

Halfway up the cliff (about 40’ above the ground), there is a very large outcropping covered by clumps of thick, dead bushes and brambles. There are 2d12 cliff birds up here at any given time, as well as 3d4 eggs the size of pineapples.

The amphibious spawn of shub-niggurath lives in a large cave hidden near the bottom of this quarter-mile wide and half-mile deep freshwater oasis. Anytime you or anything else approaches the waters’ edge, there’s a 1/12 chance that the spawn will attack.

Acid Bug - A centipede the size of an adult human, and it spits acid. Sickly white coloring.
HD: 2  |  AC: as chain
Attacks: acid spit (2 dice of damage)
Reactions: ambush (2-12)

Cliff Bird - A brightly feathered tetrapterix-like creature the size of a large dog. They like to climb the cliffs and attack silently from above. Passing an awareness check means you see their shadow and there’s no surprise round.
HD: 1  |  AC: as unarmored 
Attacks: 2 claws (1 die) + beak (1 die)
Move: 40’ land, 250’ air
Reactions: ambush (2-6), stalk and wait for opportunity (7-10), intimidated (11-12)

Great Tooth - Like an allosaurus with a tail like an ankylosaurus and flashy neck frills like the dinosaur that ate Newman in Jurassic Park. About the size of a bus. Always hungry. The PCs can hear it coming from a quarter mile away, but it can also smell them at that distance. It only sees light and movement.
HD: 12  |  AC: as leather
Attacks: charge (8 dice) or gore (2 dice) + bite (2 dice) + tail (1 die)
Move: 80’
Reactions: try to eat you (2-11), brief confusion before trying to eat you(12)

Psychic Cyborg Sorcerer of Slaughter - A ten-foot tall humanoid robot with a thick glass dome at the top of its head, protecting a sorcerer’s undead brain. One of the robots’ arms ends in a human-like hand and the other is mounted with a flamethrower, which also has a setting that converts its napalm fuel into a gas suitable for welding. It’s been using this to repair the dead alien’s spaceship.
HD: 14  |  AC: as full plate
Attacks: incinerate (4 dice) or punch (2 dice)
Move: 30’
Psionics: as 9th level psionic (pgs 18-21)
Reactions: exterminate (2-7), try to recruit you (8-11), lets you go free (12)

Shield Lizard - Like a protoceratops the size of a car, with spikes all around the edge of its face shield and a sharp beak.
HD: 6  |  AC: as leather w/tower shield
Attacks:bite (1 die), charge (4 dice), or trample (6 dice).
Reactions (wild): charge (2-7), ignores you (8-10), curious but tentative (11-12)

Spawn of Shub-Niggurath - About the size of a tenement building, this spawn has a body type basically like that of a fur-covered caterpillar, with four giant bat-like wings that beat with the speed of a hummingbird while it’s flying, two compound eyes, a simple insectoid mouth from which it spits webbing, and a long, whiplike tail.
HD: 10  |  AC: as unarmored
Attacks: tail whip (4 dice) + spit (no damage, target is stuck (save to avoid), strength check or fire (which also burns you) to escape)
Move: 25’ flying, 10’ land, 80’ underwater

Reactions: try to eat you (2-7), not hungry, but webs you out of spite (8-10), ignores you (11-12)

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