Friday 14 February 2014

That Hideous Heart

It is said that when Percy Bysshe Shelley died, his wife, author Mary Shelley, plucked his heart from the still-burning pyre, and kept it until her own death.  If so, his was a lucky heart, for not all are so dearly loved.  Some are ripped untimely from the breast of the lovelorn by the actions of cruel lovers, and, while their owners never love again, they are unaware that their hearts have left them to become the bloated un-dead known as hideous hearts.

A hideous heart appears like a monstrous, throbbing heart, swollen to the size of a human head.  Pulsing, rope like veins extend from it, which it uses to pull itself along.  It can also use these veins to grasp and strangle, causing its base damage automatically each round.  The hideous heart still makes a normal attack roll; if it succeeds, it also does 1d3 points of temporary Stamina damage from strangulation.  It is possible for the heart to critically hit a grasped character, with the normal effects.  There is a 3 in 6 chance that any melee attack against a hideous heart which misses must be rerolled against any character it is grasping.  A grasped character can escape from a hideous heart with an opposed Strength check (the heart has a +5 bonus), but this uses an Action Die.

This creature is stealthy, attacking by surprise on a 3 in 6 chance.

A hideous heart is completely immune to all charms and mind-affecting magic, having long ago given up on its emotions.  It radiates cold, and although this does no extra damage it may offer a hint to the heart’s weakness:  fire- or heat-based attacks do an extra 1d6 against the monster.

Hideous Heart:  Init +4; Atk grasping vein +3 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 4d12; MV 20’ and climb 20’; Act 2d20; SP un-dead traits, grasp, strangle, stealthy, vulnerable to fire; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +8; AL C.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Hi Raven,

    I posted a few questions on your Al-Mi'raj about issues of meaningful choices, lethality in adventures, and whether there is any kind of rule of thumb for figuring out how much of each to give players in a game. Any pointers you can offer, or articles on the subject?

    1. Hi Wyatt,

      You will be happy to know that I am composing a response to your questions, but, as it is not done yet, and it is Valentine's Day, I thought I would post that hideous heart in the interim.

  2. Raven,

    Very cool! I've really enjoyed your posts. Filled a good part of a notebook with the observations you'd made on issues of choice, context and consequence.

    I also liked how well you handled knocking down, one by one, the deceitful claims, manipulative fraud and sociopathic games-playing of a certain well known blogger. It was masterfully done. From various comments here about his treatment of others, I can see he's more of a spider in his web waiting to savage people than I'd thought. More people should confront these characters and their self serving claims that they "advocate" for anyone else - the world would be a better place for it.

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      I assure you, though, that I don't go out of my way to find things to argue about, although I do argue when I see that a position, if accepted, will either close down the conversation or lead to problematic conclusions.

      If I am rebutting someone, it is because I am reading them. If I am reading someone, it is because they have things that are worth reading. None of us is perfect; all of us put forward arguments from time to time that should be looked at a little more closely. When I "knock down" a fallacious argument, it is also an endorsement to read the original poster.....but you might want to pick and choose, and you might want to have a grain of salt handy.


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