The Death Cart
By Daniel J. Bishop
For his cart comes down the lane,
And his lanterns burn with greed,
Race you away, your soul is screaming.
Bone rolling wheels.
O! old people choke with ashes!
O! Children weep with fear!
Shelter us from his fast reaping!
One more day to exist here!
The Death Cart rolls down the night-dark streets of Ur-Hadad. Its wheels are made of bone, and it is pulled by two black horses whose breath and eyes are fire. Old Edward the Great lets the horses take him where they will, for his un-dead hands are concerned only with the scythe he bears, and the reaping that it does. Lanterns swing wildly behind the Death Cart, whose wheels rumble like thunder. The lanterns are lit with the burning souls of the reaped. The more he reaps, the brighter they blaze.
Old Edward: Init +0; Atk scythe +5 melee (1d8 plus soul drain); AC 15; HD 4d12; hp 30; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, sense living 100’, soul drain, death throes; SV Fort +8, Ref +2, Will +10; AL C.
Any creature hit by Old Edward’s scythe must succeed in a DC 10 Will save or take 1d3 points of Stamina and 1d3 points of Personality damage as the scythe drains a portion of their souls. The lanterns swinging from the Death Cart flare dramatically when this occurs! (See the Death Cart, below.)
When Old Edward is reduced to 0 hp, his body is consumed in a gout of emerald flame. If horses remain, the cart careens off down the streets; if the horses are slain, the entire cart is apparently consumed in flames. The next time that the Death Cart is seen, Young Edward is seen driving the infernal vehicle. Over the next few months, Young Edward ages into Old Edward. There is always a younger Edward, so long as the cart itself endures.
Edward’s Horses (2): Init +5; Atk bite +2 melee (1d3) or hooves +5 melee (1d5); AC 17; HD 2d12; hp 15 each; MV 50’; Act 2d20; SP breathe fire, cannot move and attack with hooves, immune to mind-affecting, death throes; SV Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +3; AL C.
Each of these horses can breathe fire in a 10’ line, causing 2d10 damage (Ref save DC 10 for half), using an Action Die. A horse can only breathe fire once every 1d5 rounds. If the horse uses its hooves to attack, it cannot pull the cart that round. This means either that the cart must come to a halt (if both horses use their hooves), or that the cart is pulled in a tight circle for one round (giving Old Edward and the Death Cart a -1d shift for their next attacks). Each horse has a 1 in 3 chance of using its hooves on any given round.
When one of the horses is reduced to 0 hp, it explodes in a burst of emerald flame, doing 1d10 damage to all within 10’ (Ref DC 10 for half damage, plus Ref DC 15 to avoid catching fire if the first save is failed). If one horse is slain, the Death Cart’s move is reduced to 20’. If both horses are slain, the Death Cart’s move is reduced to 0’. If both horses and Old Edward are slain, all is consumed in emerald flames, as described for Old Edward, above.
When the Death Cart is next seen, it is pulled by two horses identical to those which were slain.
Death Cart: Init +3; Atk trample +3 melee (2d5); AC 20; HD 8d12; hp 60; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP sense living 100’, DR 5, soul regeneration, spell resistance, death throes; SV Fort +15, Ref +4, Will +10; AL C.
The only way that Old Edward can be destroyed is for the Death Cart to be reduced to 0 hp, but this is not an easy task. First off, at least one horse or Old Edward must be allowed to continue attacking, or the cart disappears. Secondly, every attack against the Death Cart reduces the damage done by 5 points. Third, the Death Cart regains lost hit points equal to the attribute damage done by Old Edward’s soul drain. Finally, spells which target the cart are suppressed, having an effect as though they were cast with a -10 penalty to the spell check (this does not change the actual spell check result, just the effect).
If the Death Cart is reduced to 0 hp, there is a clap of thunder, the joyous singing of trapped souls set free, and a distant sound of electric guitars. The streets of Ur-Hadad open to drop the cart into a flaming pit (anyone on the cart must succeed in a DC 10 Reflex save or be lost forever), before crashing shut with a shudder that knocks everyone prone. There is a lingering smell of sulphur and an echo of the wailing of the damned. Everyone involved in destroying the Death Cart gains a permanent +1 to two randomly determined ability scores, a gift from grateful spirits and gods alike.
This was originally a submission to The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad. Did I kill The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad by submitting this? I am not sure. However, it is the first "album cover" write-up I did, similar to others in this blog, and it is time now to make this material available to the world at large.