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.