Monstober Day 17: Laugh

Unfortunately, years of success, money, women, and repeated use of the spell have corrupted Larry Snelling. He has become a dark shell of his former self. The evil muse inside his mind starts to take physical form more each time Snelling invokes the dark powers. It becomes harder and harder to cover each show without the dark secret getting out.

How does a stage comedian stay on top?
(Dead Moines on Stage for Monster of the Week RPG.)

*Content Warning*: Murder, Occult Ritual, Dark Magic, Gore.

By using an ancient blood curse that takes life energy in exchange for talent. The ritual psycho’s stage name is Mr Obtuse, because he always has an angle. He travels from town to town, stage to stage in every local comedy club that can be found. Some venues are so small he doesn’t waste his time invoking the dark magicks. Other times, one or two people randomly turn up missing from the airport bar or nearby hotel.

Larry, “Mr Obtuse” Snelling was a poor, downtrodden, talentless hack of a comedian until he accidentally summoned upon what he thought was a stage magician’s prop box. It contained a grimoire of ancient spells that could enhance many aspects of stage magic. All Snelling wanted to do was make people laugh. After researching the grimoire excessively, he found the perfect spell to do exactly what he wanted.

Some nights Mr Obtuse isn’t quite as funny as others. He started in small, local comedy clubs and only moves up to major venues and elsewhere on rare occasions. He claims he feels more comfortable in small clubs. In actuality, he knows it’s more difficult to tie him to any disappearances or murders that happen in the area.

Unfortunately, years of success, money, women, and repeated use of the spell have corrupted Larry Snelling. He has become a dark shell of his former self. The evil muse inside his mind starts to take physical form more each time Snelling invokes the dark powers. It becomes harder and harder to cover each show without the dark secret getting out.

When he finally gets to Des Moines, stress by being approached by local radio talent and multiple interviews start to take their toll. Suddenly he finds himself relying on the ritual more and more until finally, he snaps. Worse, the dark muse may take its final form and consume Snelling.

Hopefully the group catches on before a beloved pet or family member is sacrificed for Mr Obtuse’s talent. Will the group discover the Grimoire and recover it before he skips town? The monster will only come out more and more if he is not stopped.

Thanks for stopping by to see me, though. I appreciate you! No dark anything needed. Inspired by Tales from the Darkside and my friend Miss Pandora Greaves. More to come for Monster of the Week.

Monstober Day 24: Hag.

While many female Ogres live normal, healthy, productive lives, some sprout wings and embrace the twisted demonic and arcane arts. They soon separate themselves from their tribes, even leaving their mates if they had any. These beings are extremely rare and not to be taken lightly.

The Ogre Hag for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

While many female Ogres live normal, healthy, productive lives, some sprout wings and embrace the twisted demonic and arcane arts. They soon separate themselves from their tribes, even leaving their mates if they had any. These beings are extremely rare and not to be taken lightly.

Ogre Hag: Init +2; Atk staff +5 melee (1d6+6); AC 16; HD 5d8+4; MV Walk 20’ Fly 25′; Act 1d20; SP Evil Eye, Poison Brewing, Demon Servant, Cast spells as Level 3 Wizard; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; AL C.

One of the Ogre Hag’s eyes tends to be larger than the other. This eye projects evil upon anyone who crosses the Hag’s path. When used as a free action, the Eye forces everyone looking at it to make a Will Save DC14. If the fail is saved, the character suffers a -2 penalty to all rolls for attack, damage, saves, spell fails, turn unholy, etc for the rest of the encounter.

Ogre Hags spend a great deal of time brewing poisons for other creatures or their own wicked uses. The Hag will normally have 1d4 vials of contact poison on her that can be hurled or even spat upon enemies to sicken, blind or disorient them.

The Hag may also summon a loyal Type 2 random Demon Servant at a 20% chance, 1x/day. This chance increases to 30% if the hag prepares for at least one hour. The servant lasts for one encounter or until dismissed. The death of the summoner always releases the demon.

Monstober Day 12: Face

A face has appeared out of nowhere. It seemingly has no body, no arms, legs. It’s as if a face were printed on one side of a massive coin. It flew into Bennet’s Cove unannounced, silently, and began taking over the minds of the townspeople. Now it’s up to the Power Rangers Super Lightning Force to stop it.

A new threat for Power Rangers RPG.

“I’m waiting for Brock to say it,” Olivia remarked over the comms.
“Nah. He won’t go there,” replied Trent.
“Guys, we’ve fought a lot of weird stuff, but this one wins the prize. First it’s a UFO. Then it’s a freaky face. Now it’s MY face. What the heck?!?”
“Guess he went there,” Xander said quietly as everyone tried to contain their laughter. “Face puns incoming.”

A face has appeared out of nowhere. It seemingly has no body, no arms, legs. It’s as if a face were printed on one side of a massive coin. It flew into Bennet’s Cove unannounced, silently, and began taking over the minds of the townspeople. Now it’s up to the Power Rangers Super Lightning Force to stop it.

That Face.
THREAT LEVEL: 8
SIZE: LARGE | HEALTH: 6
TOUGHNESS: 16 | EVASION: 16
WILLPOWER: 20 | CLEVERNESS: 20
Flight MOVEMENT: 30 ft.
SKILLS:
Targeting +d8*
Initiative +d6
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Putty.
ATTACKS:
Energy Beams (Targeting): +d8*, Range 90 ft.
(Evasion, 2 Energy Damage)

Sonic Ray (Targeting): +d8*, Range 20 ft.
(Evasion 1 Sonic Damage, Stun.)

Mind Control Ray (Targeting): +d8*, Reach 100 ft. (Willpower,
Target falls under The Face’s Control)

Powers:
Mimic Faces/Voices: The Face uses a limited form of telepathy, allowing it to mimic the face and voice of anyone it sees. However, it does not know what the person being mimicked thinks or knows. This power can be used to confuse or misdirect opponents.

Mind Control Ray: The Face emits a Mind Control Ray to any one target within 100 ft. If it hits the target must make a Willpower save or fall under the Face’s Control. Additional saves may proc if the target is prompted emotionally by friends, family, etc or asked to do something completely contrary to their nature. Only one target at a time may be controlled. Once controlled the target may move any distance and still be controlled. The Face is able to see and hear through the senses of the controlled target.

Teleport anywhere between the Earth and the moon 1x/Scene.

Hangups:
Unable to walk or engage in melee combat.
Gigantify! completely rewrites this threat’s structure and abilities.

Promptober Day 31: Forbidden Books.

This seemingly innocuous cookbook contains a variety of strange recipes that range from bizarre, maybe disgusting, to poisonous and all the way up to powerfully cursed. It may save lives in a pinch or even provide PCs some magical benefits. On the other hand, these recipes could lead to lots of trouble.

Sure we’ve heard of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, but what other scary books are there?

A few ideas for fantasy TTRPG book generation:
The Book of Shadows. Every witch has one. Some more frightening than others. Some hags would certainly have these on hand. An adventurer brave (or foolish) enough to interpret such a book would be privy to new spells. But at what cost?

Manual of Golem Creation. This tome contains all of the information needed to build a golem of one specific type. The question becomes how far would someone to go build one of these monstrosities?

Toben’s Spirit Guide. (*Editor’s Note. This book was inspired by a reference in the original 1984 Ghostbusters and subsequent RPG franchise. It can be found here.) This book contains references to dozens of spirits, ghosts, wraiths and spectres. For the unaware, it may also contain ways to summon them.

Spellbook of the Crazed Apprentice. This book was written by the seemingly unremarkable apprentice of a certain famous wizard whose title ended in “the Mad.” (*Watching out for copyrights on this one.) The apprentice improved upon or even perfected some spells. A player character casting them might suffer ill side effects.

Diary of a Death Knight. This simple journal holds an insidious secret. It contains the tales of a renowned paladin, his fall from prominence, and his eventual embrace of evil. Reading this book has a chance to corrupt or even convert a knight or warrior into one of these foul beings.

The Dark Cookbook. This seemingly innocuous cookbook contains a variety of strange recipes that range from bizarre, maybe disgusting, to poisonous and all the way up to powerfully cursed. It may save lives in a pinch or even provide PCs some magical benefits. On the other hand, these recipes could lead to lots of trouble.

The Alchemist’s Almanac. This book contains a variety of potion formulae. It is invaluable to alchemists and witches alike. Some versions of this book may contain twisted recipes for foul mutations and poisons as well. Characters may wish to use new formulae at their own risk.

The Book of Extradimensional Portals. This book is extremely thick and exceedingly rare. It contains magic rituals and in some cases locations for opening portals to other planes of existence. There is also a convenient appendix in the back containing banishment and portal sealing spells. One would be well advised to read the entire entry on any given portal before undertaking opening one.

The Accursed Memoir. Similar to the Diary of a Death Knight, this tome details a wizard’s creation of a phylactery and transformation into a lich. Wizard characters reading this can follow its step by step instruction to become a lich at their own peril. The last entry in the memoir describes the rush of power and further desire to gain even more power by becoming a demilich.

The Duplicitous Tome of the Diabolical Illusionist. (*This would make a good dungeon reward.) This tome is written in ink that glows faintly of magic. Some of the spells are illusory script. Some are sigils and glyphs intended to harm the reader. There are also powerful spells for an illusionist wizard who doesn’t lose their very mind trapped within its pages.

I didn’t list the Ogrenomicon, the Book of Ogres that I’m working on for Dungeon Crawl Classics. It will appear in the portfolio section of this site as soon as its ready. It’s my labor of love.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be catching up a lot of #Monstober and a few #Promptober entries in November. Lol! I appreciate your patience.

Promptober Day 30: Undead. (WOOT!)

Ghosts: What if every character had a ghost following them around. It never attacks, but it does whisper advice, stories, and so on all the time. What if characters constantly picked up the ghosts of fallen enemies?

The challenge of using Undead in a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game is coming up with something new.

We’ve seen vampires: Strahd Von Zarovich.
We’ve seen Liches: Azalin, Acererak, Szass Tam, Draegoth, Vecna.
There are Dracoliches.
Knight of the Black Rose (Death Knight.)
There’s also Orcus, who is the demon Lord of the Undead.
The list goes on a ways, depending on setting and even game system. We love undead as a #ttrpg culture. But it’s been done A LOT.

So, how do we spruce up Undead for a homebrew campaign?

  1. New flavors of old favorites. Sure, human vampires are cool. But what about a gnome? Pixie? Frost Giant? What about the infamous elven lich? What about a dwarven lich? We have dracoliches, sure. But what about a gold dracolich or a faerie dracolich?
  2. Another demon knocks Orcus off his throne and takes his scepter as a precursor to an attack on the material realms.
  3. Zombies: Maybe instead of just mindless flesh eating slow moving zombies, they’re working for/with a more intelligent zombie? Yes, I appropriated this idea from George Romero. It’s still good.
  4. Broken hierarchy: We’re all probably familiar with the pecking order amongst the undead masses. Skeletons at the bottom, then Wight, then Wraith, then higher intelligent undead. What if Skeletons were the top of the food chain. What if ghouls or wraiths were at the bottom?
  5. Ghosts: What if every character had a ghost following them around. It never attacks, but it does whisper advice, stories, and so on all the time. What if characters constantly picked up the ghosts of fallen enemies?

Much more to come. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you.

Promptober Day 29: Abandoned Locations.

In my game, Des Moines Remote Viewing society used Randonautica to find remote viewing targets for Brenda Hart, the group’s resident psychic and most gifted remote viewer. It was a good source of interesting new cases as well as leads on the ones the group was working on.

This is prime Monster of the Week fodder.

How to use an app like Randonautica without ever installing in real life: Create a series of tables describing how far one has to travel from current location, in which direction, and what they find when they get there.

In my game, Des Moines Remote Viewing society used Randonautica to find remote viewing targets for Brenda Hart, the group’s resident psychic and most gifted remote viewer. It was a good source of interesting new cases as well as leads on the ones the group was working on. The potential for spooky encounters in abandoned locations has always fascinated me.

DsMRVS also used Ouija boards a few times in an effort to locate specific spirits, but such attempts almost always inevitably backfired. Ouija boards are often employed in abandoned places to get a better sense of history of the sites. Of course, in MotW that usually involves a demon, angry witch, ghost, cryptid, or interdimensional being of some kind. Des Moines is legit chock full of abandoned locations in real life, so converting them to fiction for the setting is all kinds of fun.

For the record: I know of several abandoned locations in the real world. I do not go in them. I would also never throw down a Ouija board near them. You just never know what’s on the other side. That’s my opinion as a paranormal researcher and Extraterrestrial enthusiast. Do not F around and find out in some of these abandoned locations. You might get surprised.

Disclaimer: Please DO NOT ENTER an abandoned location in the real world unless you have the owner’s permission! No owner = No permission. Too many investigators get hurt, arrested, or go missing entirely while on abandoned properties. If you find an abandoned house, car, sewer entrance, or mine entrance in the real world- DO NOT GO IN THERE! The physical dangers alone should be discouragement.

This was one of the best prompts all month. I could go on for hours on this subject. Thank you for stopping by. As always I appreciate you being here with us. #ttrpgfamily Much love.

Promptober Day 28: Swamp.

D12 Giant nastiness found in a swamp

Horrible, giant, icky things of all sorts live in a swamp. Roll 1d12:

  1. Giant Dragonfly.
  2. Giant Frog.
  3. Giant Mosquitos.
  4. Giant Alligator.
  5. Giant Freshwater Shark
  6. Giant Catfish.
  7. Giant Skunk Ape *Sasquatch
  8. Giant Ghoul.
  9. Giant Hag.
  10. Giant Bats.
  11. Giant Snake.
  12. Swamp Giants.

Promptober Day 27: Dark Castle.

Such a castle is likely the home to a dreadful Wizard, Knight Lord of Chaos, Greater Demon Lord, or Lich of immense power. The guards are likely to be heavily armored and heavily armed, possibly with magic. Within its corridors lurk all sorts of nasties- demons, undead, and humanoids warped by foul magicks. There could even be a dragon lurking within or nearby.

This is a BBEG dungeon waiting to happen.

I think this is probably one of the easiest prompts while at the same time one of the most challenging. This is the sort of thing I would expect to find either midway or toward the end of a campaign. The Dark Castle is normally home to monsters and villains of untold power.

“Dark Castle” conjures up a gigantic structure, a medieval castle of immense proportion. Its construction is probably mostly an obsidian block or possibly magically enchanted stone. It resembles a regular English, German, or Austrian castle from ages past in the real world, only surrounded by storms almost constantly. Its shiny black exterior is only illuminated by flashes of lightning, making the flags on the pinnacles almost unreadable.

Such a castle is likely the home to a dreadful Wizard, Knight Lord of Chaos, Greater Demon Lord, or Lich of immense power. The guards are likely to be heavily armored and heavily armed, possibly with magic. Within its corridors lurk all sorts of nasties- demons, undead, and humanoids warped by foul magicks. There could even be a dragon lurking within or nearby.

Mapping castles: the ultimate DM challenge.

Mapping out castles is more difficult than building any dungeon. Real life historical castles were enormous. Yes, floorplans of these huge stone structures are available online and in libraries. (Gasp! IKR? Like, big buildings that hold books in the real world.) But real world castles didn’t house wizards, demons, and dragons. And logistical matters? Pffft. Yay magic!

My advice to DMs is to either take advantages of RPG sourcebooks with castle maps and then kitbash in your own rooms as necessary, or draw some modular rooms for towers, quarters, chambers, etc and then design any special focus areas for specific encounters. Both options turn the castle into a sort of point crawl, but it will save the DM time instead of drawing out a massive nine level poster map-sized castle.

Don’t get me wrong, constructing and mapping castles can be a lot of fun. But, when you’re eyeballs-deep in prepping for your next game session, on top of work, school, kids, family, and social stuff, do you really have the time? Another option would be to delegate it to a player who does maybe have the time or even a friend who isn’t in the game who just loves doing detailed maps.

*Friends? Social life? Yeah, not me. Maybe you do. I dunno.

Thanks for stopping by today. This was fun. So much more to come yet this month and most of next catching up on this and #Monstober.

Promptober Day 26: Lost

Key members of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society are lost as of 2022. The data gathered by the trio is also missing in places. Some may have been confiscated by the government or black budget interests. The group went their separate ways in 2020 under mysterious circumstances. (*Then again, it was 2020.)

This one is a subplot running through my Monster of the Week series, Des Moines After Dark.

Key members of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society are lost as of 2022. The data gathered by the trio is also missing in places. Some may have been confiscated by the government or black budget interests. The group went their separate ways in 2020 under mysterious circumstances. (*Then again, it was 2020.)

  • Dan Miller is missing key chunks of his physical files and Internet archives.
  • Brenda Hart moved to Champaign, IL and effectively disappeared. Dan has not heard from her via text, email, or chat in over two years. The two were very close prior to December 2020.
  • Tom Miller is flat-out lost. His mysterious disappearance became apparent when copies of his journal were emailed to Dan and Brenda along with some copies of physical journals arriving at known and undisclosed street addresses.
  • Tom’s last case was his independent study of the (alleged) Reptilian tunnels under Des Moines. His last journal entry indicated he found a tunnel entrance near a bridge and was going to enter it.
  • Lewis (Big Lou) has been reassigned to a different section within the FBI, but his personnel file has gone missing. Dan has been unable to contact him through any of their various channels.

2020 is the year best forgotten. Unfortunately for our heroes, members of the DsMRVS were among those not heard-from again. Even some of their meticulously kept records and videos have gone missing. One of their most notorious case files, loosely dubbed the “Backyard UFO Incident” involved several hours of missing time and blank audio/video footage interspersed with cryptic and bizarre voice lines.

Disclaimer: People and events depicted herein are fictitious and intended for entertainment use only. Any similarity to persons living or deceased is unintentional. There is no Des Moines Remote Viewing Society. This is a work of fiction. No one was harmed in the making of this blog.

Promptober Day 24: Moon.

Closer inspection of the fourth planet in the system does not reveal any significant threat. However, careful examination of the third planet’s geosynchronous moon reveals cloaked bases, monitoring equipment, docking bays and the fact the the entire moon is a hollow sphere designed to watch over the Earth-like planet’s development.

“On the outside, it looked like an ordinary moon, but then we became suspicious.” Capt. Molly Daniels. USS Peregrine.

Today’s prompt is actually inspired by some real life theories about Earth’s moon. However, kindly bear in mind there is little more than a modicum of scientific backing for any of it. Our real moon “rang like a bell for over an hour” on seismic sensors when struck with a lander. To be clear- This IS a work of FICTION.

(Systemless) space game plot idea: The group comes upon a moon in geosynchronous orbit around an Earth-like planet. Sensor data indicates the moon is a normal, lifeless, meteorite-blasted rock. However, the moon is emitting electromagnetic signals coming from somewhere nearby. There are also ships coming and going from the system that seem to just disappear.

The planet’s government(s) are concerned about a potential invasion that they originally believed might be staged from the fourth planet in the system. They are a relatively new space-faring society and would be ill-equipped to fend off any kind of serious threat from outside of their own star system without help from the Federation (Or whatever larger organization the group represents.)

Closer inspection of the fourth planet in the system does not reveal any significant threat. However, careful examination of the third planet’s geosynchronous moon reveals cloaked bases, monitoring equipment, docking bays and the fact the the entire moon is a hollow sphere designed to watch over the Earth-like planet’s development.

Where things go from there is ultimately up to the GM. Is the civilization inside the moon benevolent? Perhaps sent to watch over the fledgling planet’s growth? Or is it a monitoring station to assist in a full scale invasion? Could it be a waypoint for refueling ships for a larger space navy elsewhere? Maybe it’s a galactic meeting place for races in all of the neighboring systems. The possibilities are immense.

Happy gaming! Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you.

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