Monday 10 June 2024

Conversion Crawl Classes 21: Hawkmoon (1): The Twisted Village

If you have never read any of the Hawkmoon novels, the setting is the future (and hopefully alternate) Tragic Millennium, where the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) is in the process of conquering what remains of Europe. It is a post-Apocalyptic setting where there is still a fair amount of technology being used, especially by Granbretan. Judges who wish may find Mutant Crawl Classics and/or the Umerica setting useful if they are creating campaigns in the Tragic Millennium. This series of posts will assume the use of Dungeon Crawl Classics, with the goal of converting the material to a usable DCC adventure.

Hawkmoon has a very different take on skills, artifacts, and statistics than Dungeon Crawl Classics or Mutant Crawl Classics. We will need to decide whether or not we want to take things as they are, turn technology into magic, or make other adjustments to move closer to mainline DCC. If you’ve ever read or run Silent Nightfall, you will know that mixing magic and technology doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In addition, I think it is worthwhile to preserve the flavor of the original adventure when converting it.

Getting There

The text provides a hook and discusses skill checks that might be needed to shorten the journey to the adventure location. It is probably somewhat worthwhile to consider other hooks that might be dropped later in the campaign if the players do not jump at the first one. I would also strongly urge you to consider what might happen during a 60-mile journey through hilly woodlands infested with mutant animals.

If the NPC providing the hook had some form of “wondrous artifact” said to come from the ruin, the players might be more likely to follow up on the hook. For instance, he could have a butane lighter. Even if the PCs steal it from him, the judge has done little harm to the campaign. Expectation of greater things could easily whet the players’ interests.

Likewise, the judge could create a random encounter list and/or place set encounters en route to the main adventure location. The remains of other ancient buildings (intact or not, and possibly inhabited) act as signposts that the PCs are heading in the right direction. The aforementioned Silent Nightfall has a simple method of creating mutant animals that could be of some use. Likewise, other remains of “the black road” (Point Four in the “Outside the Compound” section) might still remain and help guide the PCs to the main adventure location.

Remember, in a sandbox setting, it is entirely okay for the PCs to miss things, including whole adventure locations. The judge can (and should) place hooks to other adventure sites in every location they create or use. This might draw players’ interest back to the things that they missed, or simply supply a sense of mystery and verisimilitude. Either way is okay.

If you are running a one-shot, on the other hand, it is not only reasonable to narrate the hook and journey as part of the adventure setup – it is in this case recommended. Neither adds anything significant to the adventure as written.

Outside the Compound

There are four areas (or “points”) described outside the compound (the main adventure site). The first two of these provide potential camping/resting spots. The fourth (the black road) is color. The third (the stream) provides a challenge, so I will take a closer look at it. The text of the adventure reads:

Water dragons are carnivorous plants. They somewhat resemble water lilies, but have black flowers and the edges of their floating leaf pads are extremely sharp and coated with an anticoagulant chemical. Water dragons can whip their leaf pads around with lightning speed, but cannot reach more than a half-meter or so from where they are rooted in the river shallows. A successful Biological Lore is needed to recognize these plants and know the danger.

Anyone walking though a mass of water dragons is attacked 1d8 times a round by the plants. Each ford takes two rounds to wade through. An adventurer can try to run, taking one round to get through the ford, but he must also succeed at a DEX x 3 roll or he trips and falls, taking 1d3 more rounds to get up and scramble out of the river, during which time the water dragons flail madly.

Each water dragon attack has a 30% chance of striking home. Any successful attack does 1d3 damage. If the damage penetrates the target’s armor, the anticoagulant causes him to suffer an additional hit point loss each turn until a successful First Aid stops the bleeding.

The adventurers can attack the water dragons if they want. The plants only have a single hit point each and no armor. Any successful attack severs the stalk and sends the plant floating down stream. If the adventurers try to destroy the plants by spreading burning oil or something similar on the water, the plants pull their pads and flower beneath the surface until the stream’s current floats the annoyance away. Each ford has 20-30 separate water dragons. Perhaps some kind of sharp-toothed rake could be improvised to dredge a path through the plants. But the quickest solution is to run through as fast as possible, trusting in your armor to protect you.

If the adventurers are discouraged from using the fords because of the water dragons, they might try to swim a deeper part of the stream. Even here, the shallows are infested with the bothersome plants, but a successful Jump roll will carry the leaper right over the plants into the deeper part of the stream. A successful Swim roll gets the user safely across, and a second successful Jump roll gets him over the far shore’s accumulation of plants.

In DCC terms, we might say:

It takes two rounds to wade through the ford. Water dragons attack once each character 1d8 times each round, -5 melee (1d3 damage). Those hit suffer an additional 1 hp damage per turn until the bleeding is stopped with a DC 7 Intelligence check (remember untrained PCs make this check with 1d10). Characters can run through with a successful DC 12 Reflex save; otherwise they fall and take an additional 1d3 rounds to clear the ford. Away from the fords, the plants can be avoided by a DC 5 Strength or Agility check, a DC 10 Strength check to swim across the stream, and a DC 10 Strength or Agility check to leap out of the stream over the plants on the far side – Armor Check Penalties apply to all these rolls.

The water dragons are too dense for melee attacks to be effective, but an area-affect attack which does 25 hp damage is effective. Floating burning oil on the surface is not, as the plants can simply submerge until the stream’s current floats the oil away.

The attack modifier was based on a 30% chance of hitting an unarmored average person (15+ to hit AC 10), with AC modifiers rather than damage reduction helping to protect better protected PCs. You will notice that I gave no check to recognize the danger. This is in keeping with the general “Make Monsters Mysterious” vibe of DCC. Dangers of all sorts may be mysterious.

Alternatively, the judge could create a potential encounter with water dragons leading to this sight, which would give the PCs a chance to recognize them. If your players are anything like mine, though, the black flowers are probably enough to prompt a cautious approach.

Inside the Compound

There are three things we need to deal with here: (1) the treasure, (2) creature statblocks, and (3) the Bio-Warfare Lab.

In terms of (1), it is probably safe to acknowledge that your PCs will not be ripping out the commodes to install them in their home base. There are, however, a lot of books and some weapons that the PCs may certainly appreciate. I assume that “23s” is the equivalent of 23 sp, and this works in most cases, although you may occasionally wish to raise this to gp value, so that a “gold ring holding a sapphire” is worth 30 gp instead of 30 sp/3 gp.

If a book has a potential to raise a PC’s level in a skill (Chemical Lore, for instance), we can just say that the PC’s die for related skill checks goes up. Untrained is 1d10, and trained is 1d20, so there are three steps in the standard dice chain (d12, d14, d16) we could use. Or we could grant a +1 bonus per +5% otherwise gained. Finally, we could link some of these books to specific spells, possibly with unique Mercurial Magic based off the books themselves.

For weapons, I have no problem with a .38 revolver doing 1d8+2 damage if the rounds misfire half the time and you need to figure out how to clean and oil the weapon before using it. I would suggest an initial DC 20 Intelligence check (on 1d20) to determine what needs to be done, with a cumulative +2 bonus for every week spent examining the weapon.

Nonetheless, there is very little in this adventure for DCC characters to scavenge. The judge may wish to include a few generic odds and ends which the PCs may recover and find some use for. Crawling Under a Broken Moon, Umerica, and (to a lesser extent) Mutant Crawl Classics have random tables that might be of some use here. The judge may also simply turn out their own pockets or look around their own homes for inspiration. Pencils, pens, a manual coffee grinder, tweezers, fingernail clips, and a grater are all items within my immediate surroundings as I write this, for instance. Items like paper clips, a stapler, and bull clips are more valuable in a world where they are no longer easily purchasable.

 Creature Statblocks

This adventure includes handwolves, sabrecats, and a group of five mutants as primary opponents.

Handwolves are mutants descended from domesticated dogs, whose forepaws have become manipulative appendages like hands. They are able to walk on their hind legs and wield weapons. Providing statistics for these creatures should not be hard; simply modify the wolf statblock from the core rulebook like so:

Wolf, common: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL L.

Handwolf: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4) or by weapon +3 melee (by weapon); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 40’ or 20’ on hind legs; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

If you wish your handwolves to be more dangerous, you could modify the dire wolf statblock instead:

Dire Handwolf: Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2) or be weapon +7 melee (by weapon+2); AC 14; HD 2d6; MV 40’ or 20’ on hind legs; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL N.

You will note that I made the use of weapons slightly advantageous to the creatures. I penalized movement on their hind legs, and I shifted alignment from lawful to neutral because only three handwolves are present in the scenario, suggesting that they may be less apt to form packs than their canine forebears.

Likewise, the five mutants can be built off of the bandit statblock, with modifications for the weapons, armor, and mutations given in the text. I am also going to modify hit dice to better represent what is seen in the text, and to reflect the mutants’ position as the primary antagonists in the adventure.

Bandit: Init +2; Atk scimitar +2 melee (1d8+1) or javelin +3 missile fire (1d6); AC 15; HD 1d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

“Orlo’s skin is tough and leathery, and covered with great calloused lumps, giving him 1d6-1 points of armor, but greatly reducing his DEX. He wears leather armor in addition to his tough skin. He does not have enough DEX to use his poleaxe, so the damage he does is halved.”

In DCC, your Agility doesn’t have to meet any threshold to use a polearm, but we want to keep the “tough but clumsy” flavor. He takes 2 points less damage from any attack, and his leather armor doesn’t fit any normal humanoid. Here is our Orlo:

Orlo: Init +0; Atk polearm +0 melee (1d10); AC 14; HD 2d8; hp 12; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP DR 2; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +0; AL C.

“Uvas is a giant, over 2.5 meters tall (nearly 9 feet). He has not stopped growing since he was 13 years old. Someday, he will grow too big, and his legs will snap.” Ulvas is given a CHA (Personality) of 4 and a CON (Stamina ) of 21, as well as an 18 STR (Strength), reflected below:

Uvas: Init +1; Atk spear +5 melee (1d8+3) or short bow +3 ranged (1d6); AC 11; HD 3d8+18; hp 37; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +9, Ref +1, Will -2; AL C.

“Egrinn’s skin is slate-blue, with large raised purple blemishes. She has no other mutations. Her mutations did not manifest themselves until after puberty, and she remembers her former life well. If adventurers could somehow offer her a reasonable chance to rejoin human society, she’d leap at it. She wears chain armor.” She is also listed as having “Ambush 72%, Cut Purse 72%, Dodge 55%” so I am going to give her some thief-like skills. Her low Will save is based off of a listed CHA (Personality) of 2.

Egrinn: Init +1; Atk cudgel +2 melee (1d4+1) or short bow +3 missile fire (1d6); AC 16; HD 2d8; hp 14; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP stealth +7, Pick Pockets +7; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will -4; AL C.

“Zharge has extremely delicate bones. Any damage that penetrates his half-plate armor is doubled.” Because DCC doesn’t use armor as damage resistance under most circumstances, it is far easier to lower Zharge’s hit points that double damage every time he is hurt.

Zharge: Init +0; Atk warhammer +3 melee (1d10+1); AC 17; HD 2d8-4; hp 10; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

“Igoa has a third eye in the left-middle of her forehead, and her left arm ends in a whip of gristle and skin. She wears crudely sewn-together leather armor.” For some reason, that whip doesn’t do anything to Igoa’s stats in the original adventure, but we will fix that. I gave her an extra action die so that she can use the gristle-whip in addition to another attack:

Igoa: Init +2; Atk cudgel +1 melee (1d4) or gristle-whip +2 melee (1d3) or thrown rock +2 ranged (1d3); AC 12; HD 2d8+8; hp 20; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

In Hawkmoon, each creature in a group is given its own statblock. In the case of the five mutants, above, this allows each individual to have its own flavor and abilities. In the case of near-homogenous creatures, like the three handwolves described above, or the four sabrecats we are going to look at below, this doesn’t add enough in DCC to make the effort worthwhile.

Sabrecats “are descended from wildcats and have grown somewhat. Their forepaws have been transformed into knife-sharp scythes of bone, and they rear onto their hind legs to fight. If the adventurers can get away from the cats into the open, they can easily outrun the sabrecats, whose ground movement is impeded by their enormous fighting claws, though they can still climb just fine.”

Init: The four sample sabrecats have DEX 15 to 21, and Dexterity corresponds to Agility in DCC. I am inclined to average this out at a +2 bonus.

Atk: Again, we are dealing with four separate ranges, but I think 1d6 as a baseline for their claw attacks works, as it is analogous to a short sword. The cats can also bite, so we’ll make that 1d3 damage is it is not their primary attack. I think that +3 to hit works for the claws, and +1 for the bite.

AC: The monster has Parry 48-59% and 2 points of Armor. Assuming the armor is for thick fur, let’s make it AC 13 (+2 for Agility, and +1 for the fur).

HD: Hit points are listed as 5, 12, 13, and 14. HD 2d8 allows for this range.

MV: If the PCs can easily outrun the sabrecats in an open area, let’s give them MV 10’. Since climbing is unimpeded, we can add a 20’ climb speed as well.

Act: Because we want the sabrecats to be able to use both claws, we give them 2d20. We could raise that to 3d20 to allow for a bite each round, but I don’t see them biting instead of clawing. If a claw is damaged (due to a critical hit or mighty deed), the creature can start using its teeth.

SP: There are no indications of special abilities.

SV: Looking at the listed DEX and CON for these creatures can give us an idea as to how Reflex and Fortitude saves should be converted. We’ve already granted +2 to Initiative, and I am inclined to raise Reflex save modifiers to +4. Fortitude is a matter of Stamina (CON), which seems to average to a +1 bonus. That fur might help to, so we can say +2. We don’t have any real guidance for Will, and I see no reason to go higher than +0. Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0.

AL: As normal (albeit mutated) animals, Neutral is appropriate.

Crit: Following the table on page 385 of the core rulebook, we get a result of M/1d8.

Put altogether, our statblock looks like this:

Sabrecat: Init +2; Atk claw +3 melee (1d6) or bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 13; HD 2d8; MV 10’ or climb 20’; Act 2d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N; Crit M/1d8.

Bio-Warfare Lab

If this vial is broken, everyone within the room will die of super-pneumonia in 2d10 hours. If any of the outside doors or windows are opened, the disease will escape and eventually wipe out all human life within fifty kilometers (before the rulers of Bavaria and Shekia quarantine the entire region, preventing all entry upon pain of death).

If you are going to use this adventure in DCC, you need to realize that the PCs may well take the vial, and not open it until reaching some more populated area. If this happens, my recommendation would be to just roll with it.

In terms of game mechanics, there is no save to prevent infection if you are present when the vial is opened. Later, allow a DC 20 Fort save each time to contagion is encountered to avoid contracting it. Every hour, an infected person is allowed a DC 15 Fort save to avoid 1d3 damage to Strength, Agility, and Stamina (determine each point randomly), with death occurring at 0 Strength or Stamina. Even if the disease is cured by magic, the victim remains susceptible to future infection. At the judge’s secretion, a neutralize poison or disease spell with a result of 34+ may destroy the released super-pneumonia while it is still contained (either by the vial or within the Bio-Warfare lab).

It takes an hour for the first symptoms to manifest, so if the PCs have opened the vial, the disease has probably escaped before they are aware of it.

Next: Hawkmoon: The Chatillon Caverns

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