Thursday 16 December 2021

Holiday Posts

Looking for something to spice up an adventure this holiday season?  Look no further! Well, okay, you may have to look a bit further...but here's a start.

Last Updated 16 December 2021

Valentine's Day

That Hideous Heart

Father's Day

Grendel's Father


Keeper of the Seven Keys (Part I)

Keeper of the Seven Keys (Part II)

The Following Thing

Better Than Raw

Walkabout Thing


Happy Thanksgiving!


Yukon Cornelius, Warrior of the North

Elf Dentist

This Yuletide: Beware the Bumble!

The Great Intelligence Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from the Laser Snowmen!

Kovacsian Wizard Snowman

Killer Christmas Tree

Scary Holidays!

Yukon Cornelius, Warrior of the North

Yukon Cornelius, Warrior of the North: Init +3; Atk pick axe +2+Deed Die melee (1d6+2+Deed Die) or knife +2+Deed Die melee (1d4+2+Deed Die) or pistol -1+Deed Die ranged (1d6+Deed Die); AC 11; HD 4d12+8; hp 25; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Deed Die (1d6), crit range 19-20, taste silver and gold, dogs; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1; AL L; Crit IV/1d20.

Yukon Cornelius is a prospector in the far north, possessed of great courage, daring, and northern lore. 

He has an ability similar to that of a dwarf's ability to smell gold and gems, but it requires him to plant his pick axe and taste it. If there is buried silver or gold within 100 feet, he can taste it in the residue. Tall, with extraordinary strength and resilience, Yukon Cornelius has even taken on a bumble with no help save that of a 1st level elf dentist. (That they were able to push the bumble off a cliff was used as an indication of the size of Yukon Cornelius' Deed Die, and therefore of his level.)

Yukon Cornelius has a pack of unlikely and mismatched miniature dogs. Although none are appropriate to pulling a sled, they are nonetheless able to do so. One is a Saint Bernard, which carries a potion of healing (2 HD) in a small keg. These dogs are AC 14 and have 6 hp each. They have no effective attacks, apart from yapping at foes and cowering behind Yukon Cornelius. These dogs can made a collective attack roll (with a +4 bonus) once per game session. If they succeed, they do no damage, but instead allow Yukon Cornelius to re-roll a failed Deed Die. Regardless of the result of the second roll, Yukon Cornelius must abide by it.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

The Brightest Smiles For Christmas Come From the....

Elf Dentist

Why are you such a misfit? Far from being a nitwit, you quit from being an ordinary elf. Magic is not for you - except the magic of good dental hygiene and a bright smile filled with straight teeth.

Hit points: An elf dentist gains 1d6 hit points at each level.

Weapon training: An elf dentist is trained in the use of tooth extractors, which look a lot like large pliers, as well as other instruments of dentistry. If used as weapons, these do 1d6 damage. Working with these tools, as well as various dental amalgams and braces, has eradicated all sensitivity to iron from these elves. They can use any armor, but the armor check penalty is applied to their attempts at dentistry.

Alignment: Elf dentists are almost always Neutral, happy to provide their services to paladin and bumble alike. Some are Lawful. 

Very few are Chaotic, and the dentistry of these elves give children nightmares.

Magic: Elves practice arcane magic, but elf dentists give up all that. They gain no spells.

An elf dentist can see in the dark up to 60’.

Immunities: Elf dentists are immune to magical sleep, paralysis, and cavities.

Heightened Senses: Elves are astute and observant. All elf dentists receive a +4 bonus to detect impacted molars, cavities, and damaged teeth. 

Luck: Elf dentists apply their starting Luck modifier to rolls for hit points. That modifier does not change as the elf dentist’s Luck score changes.

Languages: At 1st-level, an elf dentist automatically knows Common, the elven racial language, and one other language. An elf dentist knows one additional language for every point of Int modifier. Additional languages are randomly determined as specified in Appendix L, as though they were ordinary elves.

Action dice: An elf dentist’s action dice can be used for attacks or skill checks at any level. 

Mighty Deed of Dentistry: Elf dentists earn their keep by working on the teeth of others. They pull fangs, perform root canals, and fill cavities. Prior to any attack roll, or as a skill check, an elf dentist can declare a Mighty Deed of Dentistry. This works much as does a Warrior's Mighty Deed of Arms, but it only extracts teeth or schedules a dental appointment.

The Dental Die does not add to attack or damage, but determines the number of teeth removed with a successful attack...or the number of days to the target's next dental appointment. A Will save (DC equal to Skill Check plus Dental Die result) is required to miss the appointment. For most creatures, every 3 teeth removed reduces bite damage by -1d on the dice chain.

Level Titles:

1 - Misfit

2 - Hygienist

3 - Apprenticed Dentist

4 - Dentist

5 - Master Dentist

Saturday 11 December 2021

This Yuletide: Beware the Bumble!

Bumble: Init -4; Atk claw +4 melee (1d4 plus grab) or bite +5 melee (1d8); AC 14; HD 6d12; MV 30’; Act 1d24; SP half damage from cold, superior senses, grab, bouncing, critical as Giant; SV Fort +14, Ref -4, Will +5; AL N.

These hairy creatures are reasonably intelligent, ape-like giants who dwell in the far north. Their favorite food is reindeer, although they will eat any meat. Their superior sense of smell, hearing, and sight, allow them to track potential meals with almost supernatural skill. Fortunately, they are unable to swim, and will be stopped by any body of wide, deep water.

If a bumble hits with its claw, it grabs its opponent unless they succeed in an opposed Strength check vs. +8. The victim is then subject to the bumble's bite attack until it can get free.

Bumbles bounce. Their natural elasticity prevents them from taking any lasting damage from falls - or objects falling upon them - although they can be stunned for 1d5 rounds if the bumble fails a Fort save equal to the damage that such an occurrence would otherwise have caused. Creatures falling onto a bumble are also protected from the first 10 dice of falling damage.

Humbled Bumble: There are stories of bumbles who, having had their teeth removed, become tractable because they can no longer hunt sufficiently. A humbled bumble only does 1d3 damage as it gums creatures with its bite. It is far easier for such a bumble to trade services for shelter and food.

Friday 10 December 2021

The Great Intelligence Wishes You a Merry Christmas!

Intelligent Snow Snowman: Init +4; Atk bite +3 melee (1d5); AC 10; HD 2d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP healed by cold, fire vulnerability, mind vulnerability, instant formation; SV Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

Water molecules trapped in crystalline form, capable of reading minds, intelligent snow is a form of programable matter from some distant world or plane. Molded by the thoughts of Dr. Simeon - genius or madman - they became devouring monsters with shark-like teeth made of ice. 

A snowman created from intelligent snow is not only immune to cold damage, it is healed 1 hp for every die of damage such an attack would normally do. It takes twice normal damage from heat and fire. It has the power of instant formation, effectively using its Action Die to teleport from one location to another, usually attracted by thoughts or directed by some Great (and malevolent) Intelligence.

A PC facing an intelligent snow snowman can attempt to think it temporarily out of existence. To do this, the PC makes an opposed Will save against the snowman. If the snowman is being directly controlled by an Intelligence, the PC makes an opposed Will save against the controlling Intelligence instead. Success in either case prevents the snowman from reforming for 1d8 turns....although other snowman can use their instant formation ability to teleport to the same location.

It is even possible for PCs to attempt to wrest control over intelligent snow from whatever Great Intelligence currently controls it....but this would require an extended contest and is unlikely to succeed, especially if the controller has built up their dominance over years.

Without anyone to control it, intelligent snow eventually melts and becomes water. The water mixes with other water, dilutes, and becomes innocuous. A big enough reservoir of intelligent snow (or water), however, might become powerful enough that even a drop could dominate and transform a living creature, as happened on Mars in 2059. 

Thursday 9 December 2021

Happy Holidays From the Laser Snowmen!

Laser Snowman: Init +2; Atk buffet +0 melee (1d3) or laser eyes +5 ranged (1d8); AC 10; HD 3d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP immunity to cold, fire vulnerability; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +5; AL C.

These alien snowman come from some strange and cold alien world - possibly far Yuggoth, Ribos, Hoth, or some cold and frigid asteroid circling forever around a distant sun.

Although immune to cold damage, they take twice normal damage from fire. Laser snowmen are intelligent enough to follow even complex orders, but are themselves the servants of alien wizards or cold intelligences inhabiting distant worlds. 

Despite appearances, laser snowmen are cybernetically enhanced living creatures with frigid slush moving slowly through their pale veins. A living being bold enough to place one of the snowman's black faceted eyes in an empty socket discovers that it grafts itself to flesh, providing sight and a laser beam attack to a 120 foot range. Any natural "1" on a laser eye attack, however, causes the eye to shatter (instead of other fumble attacks), inflicting 1d6 damage on the creature grafted to the eye. A Fort save (DC 15) is required, or the unfortunate character also permanently loses 1d3 points of Intelligence or Personality (50% chance of each), as shards of the black facets penetrate their brain.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Pulp Plants

Plants are another category of monster that characters might encounter in a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure. When you are adjudicating exactly what "plant" or "plant traits" should mean, the main concern is that these things are vegetal. Their lives occur at different time scales. They can be dormant for a very long time. They are probably hardier than they look - as anyone who has attempted to eradicate kudzu or Japanese knotweed can attest - and, if they are woody, weapons like arrows and spears are unlikely to do much (if any) real damage. Their thought processes are farther from human than those of animals, or even un-dead, so that attempts at contacting, controlling, or affecting their minds might be at a significant penalty if it is possible at all. 

The judge will also have to consider the effects of being a plant-based monster on Mighty Deeds and critical hits. It would not be a stretch to imagine that some of these do nothing, while others might have a reduced (or even enhanced!) effect. In many cases, the description of a plant creature should give the judge some guidance. In many cases, though, things are left to the interpretation of the person running the game. That is okay; you've got this. The rules bend to you, not the other way around.

It is also notable that, while most plants are immobile, plant monsters are often capable of a surprising range of mobility. Still, there is nothing wrong - and everything right! - with treating some plant monsters almost as hazards which are (literally) rooted to the spot!

Here are three plant monsters you can use in your home game. Note that, while these are inspired by the accompanying images, I did not take the actual text into account.

Walking Kudzu: Init +4; Atk vine tendrils +2 melee (1d3 plus grab) or bite +3 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 3d8+6; MV 20’; Act 1d20;  SP plant, regenerate 1d3/round, camouflage, grab, plant seeds; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

When standing still among green vegetation, walking kudzu is difficult to see, allowing it a +6 bonus to all attempts at hiding. 

Its arm-like vine tendrils can grab creatures it hits, allowing it to hold onto them. Held creatures can attempt to escape with an opposed Strength check vs. +4 

Why walking kudzu is interested in humanoids from the animal kingdom (including humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, etc.) is a question which is perhaps better not asked (or answered). If the walking kudzu is able to hold such a humanoid for a full 5 rounds, it will plant seeds within it. Without magical aid (1 HD of clerical healing is sufficient), these seeds germinate in 1d5 hours, doing 1d5 damage per turn thereafter. If a victim reaches 0 hp, what remains of it becomes the nucleus of a new walking kudzu. Don't let the illustration fool you; walking kudzu victimize all genders equally.

Note that a walking kudzu continues to regenerate even after being reduced to 0 hp. It just grows that fast. Even if fire or acid are used, there is a 50% chance that the walking kudzu will begin regenerating again after 1d5 hours. Even if that chance fails, the walking kudzu may begin to regenerate days, months, or even years later. Only if completely reduced to ash, disintegrated, or completely dissolved can an adventurer be certain that a walking kudzu will not return to life.

Giant Predatory Flower: Init +2; Atk flexible stamen +4 melee (1d4+1 plus capture); AC 12; HD 12d8+24; MV 0’; Act 2d20;  SP plant, immune to mind-affecting, aware of creatures within 30', surprise, melee attacks with 30' range, capture, drown; SV Fort +15, Ref -10, Will +0; AL N.

The giant predatory flower can lash out with two stamens, each capable of reaching as far as 30' away. A creature struck by a stamen in automatically captured unless it succeeds in Reflex save equal to the attack roll. Each round, a captured creature may attempt an opposed Strength check (against +6) to escape, and the giant predatory flower can bring prey 10' closer, eventually lifting them into its flower bell, where creatures are drowned within its mildly acidic juices. Climbing out of the flower is a DC 15 check, and each round that a creature spends within it must succeed in a DC 10 check to swim. Creatures failing this check (and most will, as they tire) take 1d6 temporary Stamina damage from drowning. This Stamina damage is fully restored if the creature gets 10 minutes access to air and rest.

Giant predatory flowers are often able to attack with surprise (1 in 3 chance). They capture animal prey, depositing each into their inverted-bell flowers before seeking additional prey. This allows the plant to gain vital nutrients it cannot easily obtain from the soil. Giant predatory flowers are essentially mindless, and cannot be trained, but they are sometimes planted by cruel and devious magicians who have other means to avoid their clutches.

Venusian Human Trap: Init +0; Atk tendril +2 melee (1d3 plus grab) or "bite" +4 melee (1d8 plus trap and digest); AC 14; HD 6d8+12; MV 10’; Act 6d20;  SP plant, immune to mind-affecting, aware of creatures within 60', melee attacks with 20' range, grab, trap, digest; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

The Venusian human trap is a nasty piece of work which moves slowly around the jungles of Venus, looking for prey. Its myriad tendrils pull it along, but can also grab prey. If a tendril hits, it holds on, requiring a DC 10 Strength or Agility check to escape. Each additional tendril increases the DC of the check by +2, so that a PC grabbed by three tendrils must succeed in a DC 14 check to escape. Each round that a victim remains in the tendrils, it is pulled 1d3' closer to the Venusian human trap's maw per tendril grabbing them.

A Venusian human trap can only "bite" creatures it has pulled into its space. A successful bite attack traps a victim within the plant, where they suffer 1d7 points of damage from digestive acids each round (Fort DC 15 for half). A trapped victim has a 50% chance of taking 1/2 damage each time the entrapping plant is successfully damaged. Worse, it requires a DC 20 Strength check to force open the maw of a living Venusian human trap to allow its victim to escape. The plant can only hold one victim at a time; once a victim is reduced to 0 hp, the plant requires an hour to complete digestion. Feel free to roll the body before this time is up; you might just get lucky!

See Also: Fungoid, Lorecaps; Mutated House Plant; Potted Plant; Siren Bush; Stinkdew; Varga Plant; Verdant Stalker; and Zephon.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Empire of the Cyclops Con Debrief

 Empire of the Cyclops Con is over, and, once again, I have failed to take any screenshots whatsoever. What can I say? I guess I live in the moment.

Over the course of the convention, I managed to run three adventures, take a couple of quick sojourns into Gather Town, and spend at least a little while at the Social Hour. All in all, I would consider it a success.

I started my Saturday with Fire in the Mountain, skipping the travelling encounters (except for narration) to focus on the events in the dungeon itself. There were surprisingly few deaths, mostly due to my rolls - lots and lots of "1"s for me all convention - and what deaths there were tended to crowd towards the end of the session. I was really pleased that the players found enough clues to put together at least the broad outlines of the backstory.

Because of time constraints, we didn't get past the room with the Impenitent Abbot. The players never discovered that they could not open the door from this side, and there were likely to be more shenanigans with going down the shafts, dealing with the remaining Impenitent, and finally being confronted by three more capering goat things before being able to escape the mountain. They left the stairway to hell open, but we did have some fun with shifting it to new locations. Even with half the zero-level PCs surviving, one player ended up with no one by the end. These are the perils of splitting the party/

After a brief break, I jumped into running The Arwich Grinder. It has been years - years! - since I ran this for a group that included so many unjaded players, and it was a real joy to heap on the darkness as we went. There were also a fair number of survivors, but again my rolls were less spectacular than they should have been. Also, I had Skatch the Elder reminding people to burn Luck rather than fall for my fearful machinations. Most of the deaths were, again, the result either of splitting the party or of failing to take precautions. 

I have run this adventure many times, and it was a delight to have the players realize that there are more than eight Curwens. It was truly rewarding that they realized the names Uncle Charles called them in his delirium were not merely random, but must be family members they were not aware of.

Finally, I was lucky enough to have a player who was new to DCC - this was only his second funnel adventure!

On Sunday, I ran Dread Orchid, which is an add-on to the Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride kickstarter. The player who had requested a cleric was unable to join, leaving a party that could have survived with caution, but preferred bold action. Because this adventure is not available for generally purchase yet (and the kickstarter backers have not even seen it!) I will omit any details save to say that only the thief survived, and then by the skin of his teeth. The halfling, given a chance due to my rolling two "1"s in a row, came close to escaping, but curiosity did him in.

I would like to offer many thanks to my players over this weekend! You rocked the house and made it fun! Man thanks to David Harvison, Eric Betts, Jim Skach, Joe Colistro, Lucas MacClure, Lucas The Beard, Matthew Shayefar, Michael McMurray, Mike Dawson, Mike McKeown (+1!), Ron Kirkley, Russell Bevers, Todd Hennessey, and Zachary Amsden. If I left anyone off the list, please assume that it is because I am an idiot and forgive me the lapse! A couple of glasses of wine, and I am using the Event Sheets to help me order my thoughts!

Final Thoughts: 

Goodman Games has done a hell of a job making the convention approximate the in-person experience, especially with the use of Gather Town. And I love being able to game with people in different parts of the world. Online conventions are something I am likely to continue participating in, especially the Goodman ones and Cons farther afield, such as AlbaCon

But, man, am I ready for in-person conventions again.

Hopefully, I will see some of you at GaryCon 2022. Right now, I am scheduled to be there in person, and I really hope that comes to pass. I have a fantastic and supportive family,  but I feel guilty taking up the kitchen for the weekend. I feel guilty not giving them my time when I am right here. And the energy around a Discord table, as good as it might be, can never replace the sizzle of playing in person.

Today in Ontario, our Covid-19 case count rose again, and the Effective Reproduction Rate went over 1. This means that, for each person who gets the virus, it will spread to slightly more than one person. This might reverse, or it might turn into a fifth wave. Alll I can really do is hope that we make our collective Luck check.

If things work out, and I make it to GaryCon, please say "Hello" if you see me! I cannot tell you how much it will be appreciated.

Sunday 31 October 2021

The California Raisins

California Raisin: Init +4; Atk slap +4 melee (1d6+1) or bite +2 melee (1d8+1) or music; AC 17; HD 3d8; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP music, dance; SV Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +8; AL N.

Music: A California raisin can use its Action Die to perform music, rolling with a +8 bonus. This sets the DC for a Will save; those who can hear the performance and fail this save spend the next 1d3 rounds dancing (losing all other actions).

Dance: When engaged in melee combat, a California raisin can use its move to travel up to 10' without provoking a free attack. When doing so, it can cause an opponent within melee range to succeed in a DC 10 Will save or move with the raisin, ending within melee range but at a specific point chosen by the raisin. California raisins will use this ability to dance opponents into dangerous terrain, or even off the edges of cliffs!

It is a strange fact, but not all mummies are vulnerable to fire. Nor do all mummies carry the dread rotting disease known as the Curse of the Pharaohs. Indeed, not all mummies are even dead.

In the Land of the Sun Giants, grapes of prodigious size and vitality were once grown. Upon these, the alchemists and sorcerers of the Sun Giants experimented, seeking to preserve the power of the Sun in two enormous Scoops known as the Logos of the Kells. These once-living titans even learned how to preserve dried grapes in humanoid form, giving them souls and personalities for their amusement. Thus were born the California Raisins, named for the Land of the Sun Giants.

At least four such beings still wander the world. A.C, Beebop, Stretch, and Red. Each is a powerful musician, using vocals, drums, guitar, and bass respectively. Their music is classical rhythm and blues from the place they once dwelt in. Their high AC comes from their ability to dance with opponents, perceiving their attacks in their body language almost before the opponent knows what they will do.

There may well be other California raisins still in existence - they used to come in units of about 50!

The California raisins are short by human standards, but they have large faces and considerable mass. They are not typically hostile, but will certainly use their abilities to protect themselves. The roam the world seeking the last of the Sun Giants, the Sun Maid, who they believe can restore them to their lost home.

Rumors suggest that a being who consumes a portion of a slain California raisin's sugar-dusted body gains a bonus 1d6 permanent hit points. This bonus may only be gained once. Raisins are, some would claim, good for you!

(Canid manimals and other canine or semi-canine beings should be warned, though, that California raisins are even more poisonous to them than normal raisins are. Should a canid consume a portion of California raisin, it takes 1d5 temporary Stamina damage and must succeed on a DC 15 Fort save or die in 2d7 rounds,(

Friday 8 October 2021

Empire of the Cyclops Con Submitted Events

 It's all fun and games until someone loses an.....

......Never mind. It's all fun and games!

EDIT: I have been told that finding these games on the Tabletop site is difficult. Here are direct links:

Albacon Debriefing

Albacon was last weekend, and I ended up running a game for the convention. First off, Albacon is run to support a worthwhile cause. Secondly, the organizers are fantastic people. Third...well, do we really need more reasons than that?

Restraints on time and energy prevented me from submitting more than a single game this year, And, while I suck at remembering to take screen shots while running games, at least one of my players was good enough to remember and post one!

The game I ran was Night of the Comet, which was a playtest scenario. This was a good example of why playtesting can be important, because while the players seemed to be having fun, there were areas of the scenario which definitely need work. Many thanks to Julian, Richie, James, Sam, Martin, and Aaron!

Sunday 29 August 2021

The Joy of Swarms!

Swarms are some of the most dangerous opponents you can encounter...not because of the individual prowess of the swarm members but because they are cumulative. Sword, bow, and axe do little to dispel a swarm of yellowjackets, and even firearms cannot stop a tide of army ants. The mightiest warrior in the kingdom is no match for several hundred rats. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that swarms made the cover of several pulp-era adventure magazines. But what if you want to use some of these covers as the basis for an encounter or two in your adventure? The core rulebook offers statstics for four types of swarm: mundane bats, vampiric bats, insects, and rats. It does not, sadly, offer a swarm-specific Critical Hit table. If the judge uses Table M (Monsters) for critical hit effects, the results are often absurd within the context of the encounter. We will rectify that here.

In general, DCC swarms are enough creatures to occupy a 20-foot by 20-foot space. They take half damage from normal weapons and non-area effect attacks. When they attack, they make a single d20 roll (plus modifiers) against all targets in their area. Although swarms usually have a low number of Hit Dice, taking reduced damage from most attacks really makes them hard to disperse.

Every swarm in the core rulebook also has a special effect if it hits, requiring a saving throw to avoid it. In the case of rats and bats, this is the potential for disease. In the case of insect swarms, this is a venomous sting that can deliver additional damage. For some reason, bats care more interesting/diverse diseases than rats, but you can easily change that in your own adventures!

So far so good. Now, let's add a few swarm types from pulp-era magazine covers! If some of these seem silly to you, well, you are not alone.

Crab Swarm: Init +2; Atk swarming attack +1 melee (1d3 plus shred); AC 14; HD 6d8; MV 20’ or swim 20’; Act special; SP attack all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, shred (Reflex DC 10 or 1d3 extra damage), half damage from non-area attacks; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will -2; AL N.

Crab swarms are far more dangerous to slow characters or those who have been disabled due to injury. They attack with claws and bite, and shred flesh from opponents who do not dislodge them quickly enough. Some crabs also have a 20' climb speed.

Crab swarms occur in real life, although not usually as dramatically as they do in pulp fiction. There is some evidence that aviator Amelia Earhart, having sustained injuries in a crash landing, was eaten by giant coconut crabs. The most effective use of crab swarms I have encountered was in Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard. I attempted to reproduce the effect in an encounter in Stars in the Darkness. Clark Ashton Smith's The Master of the Crabs is another inspirational source.

Flying Squirrel Swarm: Init +4; Atk swarming bite +1 melee (1d3); AC 11; HD 3d8; MV 30' or climb 30' or glide 40’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will -2; AL N.

This is a bit of silliness, but it might make a good encounter in a forest of evil repute. Flying squirrel are not normally dangerous. Even the few reported "attacks" seem pretty tame. But for some reason the squirrels in the image are large, and out during the daylight, and apparently have a taste for meat. Do with it what you will.

Lizard Swarm: Init +2; Atk swarming bite +4 melee (1d2); AC 11; HD 3d8; MV 30’ or climb 20’ or swim 20'; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will -2; AL N.

10% of lizard swarms carry a venomous bite, requiring a DC 5 Fort save to avoid 1 point of temporary Stamina damage (heals normally).  

Lizard swarms are common enough in role-playing games, Individual lizards can and do bite humans, and some of them may have bites that are painful, or even dangerous, but you are extremely unlikely to ever encounter lizards attacking en masse in real life.

As a side note, I would prefer to have the images for each swarm alternate between the left side of the text and the right, but cover illustrators (or those who purchased these images in the pulp era) seem to prefer images that face right. They also preferred to tempt their presumed audience with a torn blouse or two.

Monkey Swarm: Init +4; Atk swarming bite +5 melee (1d5 plus disease); AC 13; HD 8d8; MV 40’ or climb 40’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, fling feces and sticks, disease (see below); SV Fort +3, Ref +5, Will -2; AL N.

Monkey bites are unfortunately not at all uncommon. Monkeys can carry diseases such as tetanus and rabies. The judge is recommended to use the disease table for bats in the core rulebook. You could even pump up the risk, considering the virulence of some monkey bites, but if you do this you should make sure that the players have some way of knowing that monkey bites are dangerous.

An arboreal monkey swarm can also fling feces, sticks, overripe fruit, and the like at targets prior to melee attacks. These attacks allow the swarm to target all creatures in a 30' x 30' square, which must make Will saves (DC 5 +1 per additional round) to avoid fleeing the area. Of course, the monkeys can move faster than most targets, so fleeing is seldom effective. A monkey swarm can use this tactic to drive targets toward preferred attack sites, or away from their territory.

Piranha Swam: Init +0; Atk swarming bite +5 melee (1d3 plus frenzy); AC 15; HD 7d8; MV swim 40’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, water protects from fire-based spells, frenzy; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will -2; AL N.

This doesn't have to be just piranha; this can be any relatively small but dangerous fish the judge desires. Are there swarms of freshwater eels? If the judge wants them, there are! Obviously, the easiest way to avoid these dangers is to not get into the water in the first place. Once you are attacked, the easiest way to survive is to get out of the water.

Water protects piranha swarms from fire-based magic and similar effects, granting a +2d shift on the dice chain to saving throws and reducing any damage suffered to one-quarter. The judge may rule that the medium allows electricity-based spells to affect all targets in range (including any potential PCs), and cold-based spells to affect all targets in half normal range, so long as they are at least partly in the water.

When characters are successfully attacked by the swarming bite of piranha, they must succeed in a Luck check, or the piranha attack in a frenzy that round, doing an additional 1d5 damage to all targets that failed their Luck check. For creatures without Luck scores, assume a base score of 10. Particularly cruel judges may have "exploding" frenzy damage. Each time a "5" is rolled, add an additional 1d5 damage. In this way, cattle - and adventurers! - may be stripped to the bone in seconds.

Serpent Swarm: Init +5; Atk swarming bite +2 melee (1d3 plus venom); AC 10; HD 6d8; MV 40’ or climb 20’ or swim 30'; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, venom; SV Fort +3, Ref +5, Will -2; AL N.

Crack open the core rulebook and pick your favorite snake venom from Appendix P. If the serpent you want isn't there, you will find a few additional options in 50 Fantastic Functions For The D50...less than half of them are serpent venoms, though, because the article details venoms from spiders, reptiles, insects, and even mammals.

If you have not had a chance to check out Primal, it comes highly recommended as a DCC-type adult animated series. And by "adult" I do not mean risqué, I mean that it deals with strong themes and violence. Anyway, the second episode is River of Snakes, and despite being drawn almost cartoonishly, the sense of horror is effective.

Spider Swarm: Init +2; Atk swarming bite +1 melee (1 plus venom); AC 9; HD 4d8; MV 20’ or climb 20'; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, venom; SV Fort +0, Ref +10, Will -2; AL N.

As with the previous swarm, you can find potential venom effects in Appendix P of the core rulebook or in 50 Fantastic Functions For The D50. Or you could simply choose to have a DC 5 Fort save to avoid an additional 1d4 damage. Spider swarms are not going to have webs strong enough to capture PCs, but they may impede vision or slow characters down. 

For other versions of the spider swarm, see Tales From the Magician's Skull #1 and Both Foul and Deep.

Turtle Swarm: Init -2; Atk swarming bite +3 melee (1d5); AC 20; HD 5d8; MV 5’ or swim 20’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks; SV Fort +7, Ref +2, Will -2; AL N.

These turtles can apparently leap up from the water, and I am tempted to give them an extra ability where a hit requires a DC 5 Will save to avoid fainting for 1d5 rounds. 

As with piranha swarms, the easiest way to deal with these is to get out of the water if you can. Easier said than done if you are trekking through a swamp. Needless to say, although turtles can bite - and snapping turtles can sever digits - being attacked by a swarm of turtles isn't something you need to worry about in real life. Well, all of these stats are a bit more gamist than realist. 

If your swarming turtles are not large, snapping-turtle types, consider reducing the damage to 1d3 or even lower. Turtles with softer shells might even have a lower AC.

Weasel Swarm: Init +3; Atk swarming bite +3 melee (1d4 plus blood drain); AC 12; HD 6d8; MV 40’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, blood drain (any target wounded by the swarm takes an additional 1 damage per round until entire swarm is killed or dispersed); SV Fort +1, Ref +8, Will -2; AL N.

For some reason, swarms in these covers love attacking anyone who ventures into the water, even if the creatures attacking are not normally aquatic. Nonetheless, in a world where some might bond with Mulferret, Queen of Weasels, things like this just might happen. In fact, I think I included weasel swarms in her write-up, and as I do not have the book in front of me at the moment, they may be different.

Final Note - Swarm Criticals and Fumbles

When a swarm rolls a "20", that is a crit against everyone. That is, perhaps, a bit over the top and breaks suspension of disbelief just a little. I recommend that, if a swarm rolls a "20", each character is given a Luck check to avoid the critical effect. Each character who fails has a critical effect rolled, so that everyone is not always the recipient of the same effect.

When a swarm rolls a "1", that would be a fumble in all of its attacks. Rather than trying to figure out what that means, consider having the swarm just break of its attacks and/or disperse. A 5% chance per round of getting out of a swarm attack alive, just by luck, might not be realistic, but it is true to the nature of pulp fiction. 

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Challenge Accepted

Jack-a-lope: Init +3; Atk antlers +3 melee (1d3); AC 14; HD 1d3; MV 40’; Act 1d16; SP see below; SV Fort -3, Ref +6, Will +0; AL N.

Go West from Sour Spring Hollow a good step, or find yourself slinging lead on some Weird Frontiers, and you just might encounter a jack-a-lope. Truth be told, the glow deserts of the post-Apocalyptic future are as good a habitat for these critters as any, whether it be in Umerica or Terra A.D.

Of course, you shouldn't assume that every jack-a-lope you might encounter is the same. So roll that d14, and see how the one you encountered is different!

1. Bounding: This pinkish jack-a-lope can leap up to 40'. If it does so as part of an attack, it gains a +1d bonus on the dice chain to both attacks and damage. Legend says that this type of jack-a-lope can also teach new-shorn lambs to dance with the rattlesnakes, although exactly what that means is a mite unclear....

2. Al Mirage: This jack-a-lope has only a single horn, but does +1d damage with it. It can teleport using an Action Die up to 60' away. Finally, it can create illusions of standing water within 120' (Will DC 15 to disbelieve) once per hour.

3. Carnivorous: Gains a bite attack for 1d4 damage, and Action Dice increase +1 step up the dice chain. Crits as a monster with twice its Hit Dice.

4. Giant: Increases Hit Die, Action Die, and damage by +1d on the dice chain. Gains +2 hp per Hit Die. Gains +10 move (+20 if rolled a second time, then +30, etc.). Each time this is rolled increases Fort save by +2 and decreases Reflex save by -1.

6. Beloved of Radu: Blessed by the Prince of Rabbits, this jack-a-lope has a +10 bonus to all saves and 6 additional Hit Dice.

7. Tibbar-kin: The jack-a-lope drains the life of other creatures, and can target any creature within 120'. Roll a Action Die +4 to determine the Fort DC to resist. The jack-a-lope drains 1d7 hp, which are added to its hit point total, unless the target saves.

8. Just the Bait: The jack-o-lope has a symbiotic relationship with a nearby monster, drawing in the curious and distracting them so the other creature can attack. Possibly descended from an escapee of a spaceship that crashes in some peaks....

9. Better, Stronger, Faster: +1d to Action Dice and damage. Speed increases by +20'; Reflex saves and Initiative increase by +4. Jack-a-lope gains an additional Action Die.

10. Luck Thief: If you spend Luck within 100' of this jack-a-lope, make a DC 16 Will save, or the jack-a-lope gains hit points equal to your spent Luck, and there is no other effect.

11. Luck Eater: Every successful attack made by the jack-a-lope permanently consumes 1d3 points of its victim's Luck.

12. Bunny Combo A: Roll 1d6 and 1d8. Apply both results. Identical results stack.

13. Bunny Combo B: Roll 1d6, 1d8, and 1d10. Apply all three results. Identical results stack.

14. Bunny Combo C: Roll 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, and 1d12. Apply all four results. Identical results stack. If you roll a "12". that means you also gain Bunny Combo A for a total of 5 modifications.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Evil Birthday Cake


Evil Birthday Cake: Init+3; Atk bite –2 melee (1d12); AC 8; HD 10d3; MV 0’ (20'); Act 2d20; SP uncanny senses 200'  range, enslavement, mesmeric influence, aging to heal; SV Fort +8, Ref –5, Will +12; AL C.

Some people never get the attention they feel they deserve. Their desires coalesce on their birthdays, bringing into existence an evil birthday cake. There is also said to exist somewhere a Book of Pure Evil which can bring such a vile confectionary into existence. Regardless of how it comes to be, the one who desired it is the evil birthday cake's first victim, as it is enslaved to do the cake's bidding. The cake's first command is always the same - to be put upon some form of mobile platform, because the cake has no legs. The 20' movement speed indicates being pulled along on a relatively smooth surface using a flat dolly or some sort.

Uncanny Senses: An evil birthday cake is somehow aware of everyone and everything within a 200' radius around it. The cake cannot be surprised, even if it is part of a surprise party.

Enslavement: The evil cake can enslave one being within 200', unless they succeed in a DC 15 Will save. The being who called the cake into existence gets no save. An enslaved being is dominated by the evil birthday cake, and does whatever it wishes, but cannot go more than 200' from the cake without the enslavement being broken. only when the current slave is released (by being forced away from the cake) or killed may the cake attempt to enslave another.

Mesmeric Influence: An evil birthday cake can use an Action Die to attempt to mesmerize a victim within 100'. That victim must make a DC 20 Will save or use its move and/or any Action Dice to come as close to the cake as possible. The cake uses this ability to bring prey within biting range and/or to make foes lose potential attacks.

Aging to Heal: An evil birthday cake can use an Action Die to heal 3d12 hit points. When it does so, its causes its enslaved victim to age 1 year per hit point gained. An evil cake without an enslaved victim cannot use this ability.

Sunday 1 August 2021

Reddit Prompts New House Rule

This Reddit post asks a pretty important question. I am going to paraphrase it here:

How can you use the Dice Chain to make sense of things like Strength checks, where an 18 Strength should have a real advantage over a 13 Strength?

This prompted me to write:

You could say that each additional attempt is made at -1d on the dice chain, which prompts players to let the strongest go first. (In fact, I will be using this from now on for checks like opening locks as well.)


And there you go. New house rule. Thank you, bored-n-curious, for making me think about this! I would never have come up with this solution without your prompting!

The Doctor, Susan, the Time War, and TARDIS Telepathic Fields

If you do not love Doctor Who, or love discussing the minutia of the program, you may wish to skip this post. You have been warned!

This post is largely to encapsulate two threads from Reddit: This one, and this one. While the idea that events from The Day of the Doctor might have influences the Doctor's abandoning Susan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, speculating that the TARDIS telepathic fields may have something to do with how companions leave the program was notably less well received.

I for one prefer to look at the program from the standpoint that what is actually seen on the screen is true (within the context of the fictional universe). and then work from there what it means. I realize that some people prefer to work from what they want to believe is true, and then ignore contradictory data and/or complain about it being a mistake from the "obvious truth" of whatever they want to believe.

The Doctor and Susan

We know that thirteen Doctors (the 1st through the 12th plus the War Doctor) help to move Gallifrey to a pocket universe at the end of the Last Great Time War. We also know that Doctors earlier than 12 will forget the specifics of the time lock, because 12 is the senior Doctor present. When I talk about Time Lord memory, below, I will argue that 12 also does not recall what happened initially; only when that event occurs for his incarnation will he be able to recall it.

I am going to venture that the 1st Doctor became aware of the Time War during the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and that he flew into his part of it shortly after (perhaps having put Barbara and Ian to sleep or out of the way in another part of the TARDIS), and before The Rescue. Thus, the 1st Doctor knows why he left Susan behind, but does not remember the specifics at the start of the next story.

The 1st Doctor then encounters a much older Susan in The Five Doctors. Although he is (again) doomed to forget the specifics of the adventure, we really do not know how long he travels with Susan between the end of this multi-Doctor story and the resumption of his original timeline. It should be noted that the Doctor encounters the older Susan after leaving her from Susan's point of view, but before leaving her from the Doctor's.

When he finally encounters the 12th Doctor in Twice Upon a Time, he no longer has any memory of his own later incarnations, which he has met at least twelve of.

Even so, I would posit that the Doctor leaves Susan both because (1) he has an intimation of the Time War, and (2) he knows that he will do so. He may have no direct memory of either when he leaves Susan, but he does have at least a partial intimation that guides his actions. Even his speech about returning may be prompted by a subconscious knowledge that he will encounter an older Susan - and that may be why the speech starts The Five Doctors!

Time, the TARDIS, and Parallel Universes

From a basic, four-dimensional standpoint, the universe is expanding. It started as a near-singularity, and will continue to expand until it reaches heat-death. At this point, from an outside vantage point, the universe will once again resemble a near-singularity, and any continued outward pressure will cause another big bang, resulting in a new universe.

The expansion of the universe, on the small scale, causes the phenomenon in quantum physics of particle-wave duality. The expansion is such that a particle spreads into a wave until acted on, where the energy from the interaction is enough to allow it to collapse back into a particle.

Although it is more complicated than that, this is largely why you remember the past but not the future, and why there is an arrow of time at all. Moving backwards requires not only the energy for the motion, but also the energy to deal with the expansion, and that requires more energy that you can obtain.

The TARDIS deals with this problem by side-stepping it. Rather than fight the expansion of the universe, the TARDIS slips into the Vortex, and then slips out at the desired time and place. Because the universe is expanding, though, the TARDIS has to compensate. Experienced subjectively from within, Planck's constant does not change. Objectively, from without, the constant is smaller in the denser past than it is in the expanded future. Eventually, the speed of light is also detectably affected; it was faster in the past during the early expansion and will slow to just over the Planck's constant just prior to the final heat death of the universe.

(This is not easy for the TARDIS to compensate for, which is why the Time Lords are forbidden to go too far forward or too far back. Also, the transduction barriers protecting Gallifrey probably break down at these extremes.)

BTW, that method of dealing with time, and the requirement to also match the "relative dimension" of the universe when the TARDIS materializes? It is part of the name, TARDIS. It is also seen to malfunction in Planet of the Giants.

Each of the potential variables where a particle may collapse from a wave creates a potential parallel universe. Most of these become "bubble universes" that collapse almost instantly. Some, like Pete's World, have more staying power. The wibbly-wobbly ball of timey-wimey stuff is a direct consequence of this. Free will is real in Doctor Who, and it selects which of those potential universes become the prime universe, which become full parallels, and which collapse. The past is no less changeable that the future. The expansion of the universe causes possibility to come into existence, and creates a 5th dimension, a kind of "temporal space" that Susan could not adequately describe to Ian.

For terrestrial Ian, the answer to the problem was simple and fixed. For Gallifreyan Susan, the answer to the problem was complex and variable.

The important point of this is that the skein of the current configuration of the prime universe hangs on certain events - fixed points - while everything else is in potential flux.

The TARDIS, too, understands this flux...better than the Doctor does if The Doctor's Wife is accepted at face value. The TARDIS understands the ramifications of the Doctor landing where they do. The TARDIS takes the Doctor where they need to go. The TARDIS also has an agenda, which it stole the Doctor to fulfil. The TARDIS also has access to the Doctor's most private thoughts (see The Time Monster). All of this has ramifications after the Time War.

The Transduction Barriers

Gallifrey is "oblique to time", largely due to the transduction barriers. These were created by Rassilon to set Gallifrey apart from the standard flow of time, protecting the past of the Time Lords from being tampered with. 

Normally, it doesn't matter when a party approaches Gallifrey - it is always the present. To illustrate this better, imagine that you visited Gallifrey. Then you boarded your TARDIS, went 2 million years into the past, and took a starliner to visit Gallifrey again. Not only would it still be the "present" on Gallifrey, but the amount of time you spent in travelling is the same amount of time that has elapsed on the planet since your last visit. Simply put, the timeline for Gallifrey is independent of the timeline of the universe.

This is also true, in general, for those travelling in TARDISes. Thus, the 7th Doctor can know the Rani's age by knowing his own, and Romana can correct the 4th Doctor about his age. Other Time Lords - the Monk, the Rani, the Master - are always encountered sequentially, so that their timelines match up. This obliqueness to time is so strong that the 1st Doctor was able to visit the same event several times without encountering himself. Presumably, the Rani was able to avoid detection by the Doctor, although they had been at the same events, simply because their timelines were not in sync. Gallifreyan Standard Time (as it is sometimes called) has to sync up in both 4th-dimensional and 5th-dimensional time.

There are some exceptions to this, but they are rare: multi-Doctor stories and Clara managing to meet the child Doctor are the only ones that occur in the televised series. 

The TARDIS operates in at least 7 dimensions, three of which are spatial and 4 of which are temporal. Standard operations only deal with 4 of these dimensions, but the time scoops used in the Death Zone (or to bring The Three Doctors together) operate using 5-dimensional engineering. The height of Gallifreyan technology, the Transduction Barrier around Gallifrey, using 6-dimensional engineering, which is why you might encounter a parallel like the Inferno world or Pete's World, but do not normally encounter parallel versions of the Time Lords or Gallifrey.

The Time Lord object to the experiments of Kartz and Reimer in The Two Doctors not merely because they object to others gaining time travel, but they object to others gaining time travel that can violate the transduction barriers. The Kartz-Reimer experiments clearly do this, allowing two versions of the same Time Lord to meet with potential repercussions that could destroy the universe.

Time Lord Memory

We know that the Doctor claims, on multiple occasions, that the human brain is small. However, the Time Lord brain appears to be the same size. It might be possible that part of the Time Lord's mind is augmented by the TARDIS....effectively, a Time Lord uses the telepathic circuits like a gigantic hard drive.

Another possibility is that a Time Lord's brain has more than four dimensions, and is therefore actually larger than the human brain. This possibility might explain how the Doctor (and other Time Lords) are able to perceive time differently than humans do. It also might explain why the Doctor apparently forgets most of what happens in multi-Doctor stories.

Your personal memories, proceeding one to another, follow a four-dimensional track. This would be true even if you were able to travel in time; your memories would still follow a line. So long as the evens occurred in the past of that four-dimensional track, you can remember them.

A Time Lord's mind has both a four-dimensional track (as does ours), and a five-dimensional track. If an event has occurred in the past of both of these tracks, the Time Lord can remember them relatively easily. It an event has occurred in the past of one of these tracks, but not the other, the differential makes it hard for the Time Lord to recall, even though they have lived through those events. This is similar, in a way, to how short-term memory and long-term memory work in humans.

Another result of this is that an effect can travel up the 5th-dimensional track without following the 4th-dimensional track. Proximity is important. This is why turning the 2nd Doctor into an androgum affected the 6th Doctor without changing every event of the Doctor's fourth-dimensional experience in-between.

The "senior Doctor" in the events that saved Gallifrey in The Day of the Doctor was the 12th Doctor. The War Doctor, 10th Doctor, and 11th Doctor therefore never know that Gallifrey was saved. This is also why we see the 12th Doctor initially not know where Gallifrey is; until the 5th dimensional differential is sorted out, he doesn't have clear memory of those events.

The War, 10th, and 11th Doctor then meet an unknown potential future Doctor played by Tom Baker (the Caretaker). If the Caretaker actually is a future Doctor, they will forget that event after it is finished.

This is also why Queen Elizabeth is so angry at the Doctor - his promise to return and marry her took place during the entanglement of 5th-dimensional memories, and he simply forgot that he had done so once it was over.

(The 10th and the 11th Doctors, by the way, offer perfect examples of how the post-Time War, pre-Restoration of Gallifrey Doctor views physical encounters very differently than any pre-Time War, or post-Restoration Doctor does. More on that to come.)

The Time War

One of the neat things about the Time War is that it probably started with the 4th Doctor's being interrogated by Davros and trying to alter Dalek evolution, but several other stories (both in later and earlier Classic Doctor Who) can be seen as portions of the Time War. This includes the idea that the Daleks would send a deceased Master back to Gallifrey in the TV Movie and multiple scenarios where Skaro and/or the Daleks appear to be defeated forever.

The Daleks not only have time travel, but they are one of the few species with time travel who are capable of being encountered out of sequence. I.e., Dalek time (unlike that of most of the universe) does not match Gallifreyan time. That might be a key to their surviving the Time War, but it also means that the Time War can be used to explain not only continuity differences between the Classic series and the New, but continuity differences in the Classic series itself. Once the Time War started (in 6th dimensional time) it had always been (in 4th and 5th dimensional time).

To both Time Lords and Daleks in the new series, the Time War is in their (relative, 5th dimensional) past. Only the fact that no Dalek in the new series believes the Time War is yet ongoing allows us to maintain with any confidence that the Daleks did not, in fact, gain a greater mastery of time than the Time Lords themselves.

TARDIS Reproduction, Time Lords, and Telepathic Circuits.

The TARDIS is designed for observation, and to allow its occupants to blend into societies without altering them. It is also designed to have six pilots. The basic argument here is that the TARDIS telepathic field suppresses romantic interest under normal circumstances. When that field is not operating in full force, it can cause over-compensation.

In the classic series, the "no hanky-panky in the TARDIS" rule meant that the Doctor's companions were not romantically attracted to him. In the new series, post-Time War, that early rule is out the window. Suddenly the Doctor is attracted to Rose, who is attracted to the Doctor. This continues with multiple companions until Gallifrey is restored, and the TARDIS no longer has a driving need to create new TARDISes. And it just stops. Completely.

The most obvious examples of this dynamic are in the TV Movie and in Human Nature/Family of Blood. In both cases, we see the Doctor severed from the telepathic circuits of the TARDIS, develop romantic feelings, and then see those romantic feelings simply disappear when the connection is restored.

Another clear example: Travelling with the 3rd and 4th Doctors, Sarah Jane Smith clearly saw the relationship as friendly but not romantic. Post-Time-War, when Sarah Jane Smith encounters the 10th Doctor, her memory is altered to the point where she believes that there really was a romantic attachment, and that she could not simply get on with her life. Both K-9 and Company and her appearance in The Five Doctors demonstrate that this was not true. She was definitely getting on with her life.

TARDISes are symbiotic with Time Lords. For most of the new series, the Doctor is not only the last Time Lord, but the TARDIS can be assumed to be the last TARDIS. No new Time Lords, no new TARDISes. The TARDIS has a vested interest in nudging the Doctor and his companions together.

(For that matter, it is relatively clear that the TARDIS telepathic circuits were used to push Donna Noble into creating the Metacrisis Doctor in Journey's End! The TARDIS also locked the doors, preventing Donna from leaving, in order to do so.)

Enter River Song

We can also talk about River Song, who is conceived in the TARDIS, becomes a Time Lord, and actually marries the Doctor.

Remembering that, in The Doctor's Wife, it is clear that the TARDIS remembers the future and takes the Doctor where he needs to go, but is also apparently not bound by predestination. The TARDIS knows that Ganger-Amy is a Ganger. The TARDIS knows that Ganger-Melody is a Ganger. The TARDIS knows that the Doctor and River will have romantic meetings and spend a great deal of time off-screen together. There is, in fact, no reason to assume that they do not have children at some point. Say, a 24-year long evening on Darillium? Or during the hundreds of years the 11th Doctor spends off-screen?

We have already talked about how the future is not predetermined for the TARDIS, but exists in potentialities. If you accept that, you can also understand that the TARDIS can select those potentialities to some degree. The creation of River Song is not just some random thing that happens; the TARDIS is a part of it. And the TARDIS then goes on to have a fantastic relationship with River, allowing her to borrow the TARDIS whenever she needs to, and making sure that the TARDIS is there to rescue her when required.

Remember, the TARDIS takes the Doctor where they need to go.

(We can also assume that the pre-Hartnell/Timeless Child used the same TARDIS, which is why it became stuck as a police box again as soon as was feasible. In this case, the 1st Doctor almost steals the wrong TARDIS, but Clara puts him back on track without really realizing why that particular TARDIS was so important.)

The TARDIS remembers the future, but most of the future exists in potentiality (no matter where you are on the timeline). The 8th Doctor says, "The universe hangs by such a delicate thread of coincidences, that it would be useless to meddle with it, unless like me you’re a Time Lord.” Even moreso than the Doctor, the TARDIS has the ability to meddle with the future. 

We are to believe that the 7th Doctor can manipulate Ace all he wants, and manipulate Davros into destroying Skaro, but the TARDIS doesn't manipulate its passengers? Even when we watch events unfold, repeatedly, which are otherwise inexplicable?

More On Those Telepathic Circuits

We know that the TARDIS telepathic field can:

  • Make you think you hear your native language.
  • Make you think the speaker's lips sync to that language.
  • Make you think written text is in that language.
  • Make you not notice the above. (This is a plot point in Masque of Mandragora.)
  • Affect the emotions of those it is in contact with. (This is a plot point in The Edge of Destruction, and includes feelings of paranoia strong enough to make Susan attack/threaten Barbara with scissors.)

We can further extrapolate from decades of the program that:

  • The telepathic field includes perceptual filters that encourage people to ignore it when it materializes....this is discussed a bit in the first episode of Torchwood, where the effect is partially transferred to a paving stone due to the energy discharge in Boom Town as well as being transferred to Martha, the Doctor, and Jack in The Sound of Drums.
  • The language translation may not always be perfect, due to the limitations of the people being spoken to. What sounds like bafflegab to us might actually make sense if we had the Doctor's knowledge. Similarly, when Susan said the 5th dimension was "space", that was the closest the TARDIS could translate to a concept that Ian would understand.
  • This alteration of appearance may go even farther. Linx, in The Time Warrior, was well aware that the Doctor was not human, and responded to his description that the Doctor would look that way "to your eyes". The Doctor never suggests that a companion "Looks Time Lord" before the Time War. It may be that differences he is normally aware of are being "smoothed out" by the TARDIS telepathic circuits.

For that matter, the racism of the past is more honestly depicted in Rosa than in Thin Ice. it is a serious question how much the TARDIS telepathic circuits play with the perceptions of the TARDIS crew and the people who encounter them. History may indeed be a white wash, and we do see signs of this in other stories (The Girl in the Fireplace comes to mind), but it also may be that the TARDIS really likes Bill and wants her to feel comfortable.

ROSE: They all speak English.

DOCTOR: No, you just hear English. It's a gift of the Tardis. The telepathic field, gets inside your brain and translates.

ROSE: It's inside my brain?

DOCTOR: Well, in a good way.

ROSE: Your machine gets inside my head. It gets inside and it changes my mind, and you didn't even ask?

DOCTOR: I didn't think about it like that.

Perhaps you also didn't think about it like that either?

In Conclusion

When a companion leaves the TARDIS, the connection to the telepathic field is reduced (in some cases, probably, eliminated). The companion, having had their romantic inclinations suppressed, may feel a sudden upsurge in those feelings, over-compensating by falling for potential mates in ways which would, barring this explanation, be inexplicable.

Likewise, following the Time War, the TARDIS telepathic circuits were used to encourage reproduction, and led to the successful creation of another Time Lord in the person of River Song. When Gallifrey was restored, this effect ended immediately.

Obviously, this is not "official canon". Yet.

Thanks for entertaining these rambling thoughts!