Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Glass Desert: 10 Monsters using the SS&SS automatic monster generator

NOTE: Given by big update, I think I'm going to move to a bi-weekly (every other week, not twice weekly!) schedule. Hopefully this way I can queue up enough posts before the shit hits the fan that things will be seamless, and once things are less hectic for me I can switch to a weekly schedule or semi-weekly schedule, hopefully without any dead spots.

I had originally intended for this to just be a table of monsters generated using the SS&SS Automatic Monster Generator, with Weird & Wonderful flourishes. However, as I was coming up with the monsters, I incidentally started running with a micro-setting through-line for these monsters, the Glass Desert. This is actually the Quenduin Desert of my Phantasmos setting, but I think it could totally work as a standalone setting with post-post-apocalyptic science fantasy and sword and sorcery elements akin to Conan, Barsoom, and Dark Sun, which I think is in-line with the SS&SS aesthetic.

I would also like to thank Kyana for providing some excellent monster writeups as well (with some editing by request), provided as BONUS material at the end!

While not quite how I imagine the Qlippoth Tree or the Glass Desert, Zdzislaw Beksinski's art has had a major impact on me over the years, and is definitely one inspiration for the Glass Desert. He also has a painting that is somewhat evocative of my Phantasmos Mythic Being Mother at the Gate, but that's for another time...

1. Jabbers
Monster's Nature: Beast
Form: Torso of one animal and legs of another.
Animal Parts: Alligator, Cockroach
Elements: Glass
Extra Senses: The creature has an additional sense like thermal vision, sonar, E.S.P., aura vision, etc.
Aversion to some substance or object

Water-dwelling reptiles, mutated with chitinous exoskeletons over their cockroach-like legs. They lurk in the fetid bodies of water in the Glass Desert, the closest thing to oases in such a hostile terrain. They have the ability to sense any reflections within or just outside the circumference of their body of water; a useful ability in an environment of sun and glass. They are to the Jabberwocky as drakes are to dragons.

2. David
Monster's Nature: Mythological
Characteristic: Like a baroque statue or wearing baroque armor
Elements: Earth
Immortal: The creature cannot die naturally and a condition must be met for the creature to be truly killed.

Like a Greek statue of a perfectly sculpted humanoid in ornate, white and gold armor. It has the ability to summon blocks of stone and marble, and with a single tap sculpt the blocks into supernaturally functional items, objects, and even minions. It cannot be killed under normal circumstances; if its body is destroyed, it will immediately emerge from the closest block of stone or marble large enough for it to be sculpted from. However, it is vein, taking absolute pride in its sculptures. If challenged to a sculpting contest, it will almost always accept, even if it would be disadvantageous or time consuming for it to do so. Usually it plays for high stakes, assuming it cannot lose. If it loses an honest competition, it will honor its bet, but will experience suicidal despair afterwards, and will commit suicide unless its ego is sufficiently stroked.

3. [Varies]
Monster's Nature: Aberration
Form: Pyramid
Characteristic: Hundreds of mouths of different sizes and shapes cover the creature's body and spew a disgusting goo.
Elements: Magma
Induce Rage: Targets within nearby range must make a willpower test or be driven into a rage, attacking anyone within close range in the most violent way they can for a number of rounds equal to the creature's HD.
Simply knowing its True Name makes it weak

A glowing hot, floating pyramid that spews bio-phlogisten. It's goo is both literally and metaphorically hot, burning and inducing rage in others. It's True Name is an unusual anomaly, being the same as whatever is the most common name in the setting. Although generally beyond mortal comprehension, the two aspects of its psychology shared with mortals are shame, and the impotent rage that comes with overcompensating for ones shame. If it's True Name is spoken, it will immediately apparate to another dimension, plane, or universe.

4. Copper-bugs
Monster's Nature: Technological
Form: Artificial animal form (Protozoa)
Material: Copper
Elements: Sand
Regenerate: Regenerates a number of HP per round equal to its HD.
Reproduce Sound: Can imitate any sound heard in the last HD days.
Need to feed constantly

Techno-organic copper micro-machines, one of the first species to adapt to the glass desert. They are nearly impossible to kill given how quickly they regenerate, and can integrate the sand and glass dust into their distributed network of activity, barraging and choking invaders. The copper makes them conductive, which they use as an electrical defense, but also to transmit information and organize as a distributed network, and can perfectly digitally encode and reproduce any sound they've recently transduced. The indigenous peoples of the Glass Desert have developed a symbiotic relationship with some species of copper-bug, using them to develop simple electronics and communications networks. However, they require quite a bit of energy, especially for the largely barren Glass Desert, and as a result only the wealthiest and most successful peoples can maintain a copper-bug colony.

5. Qlippoth Tree
Monster's Nature: Magical
Trait: Tree branches grow from the creature's body.
Form: Living energy
Elements: Wood
Disease: Causes grave and potentially deadly disease (referee may impose attribute damage, negative dice and loss of HP). Victims can make a willpower test to resist it.
Invoke Ally: Can summon a similar creature of the same amount of HD. A character can make a luck roll to avoid this effect.
Powerful enemy

A gigantic tree made of spiritual energy, covered in numerous branches like eldritch tentacles. The tree is an impossible organism drawing sustenance from extra-universal impossible light. It bears perfectly spherical fruit which hatch like eggs when they fall, producing subservient spirit-tree-men. If the fruit grow large enough, eventually they will root and grow into a new qlippoth tree. The fruit provides sustenance and the tree itself ample building materials, but causes terminal illnesses, all of which induce madness or depression, like syphilis. The eldest of the qlippoth trees wages a slow war with the eldest sephiroth tree just outside the glass desert.

* NOTE: The Qlippoth Tree could be seen as a variant of the Fey Wood and Qhuaos Quince from my Phantasmos campaign setting, which were already part of the Quenduin Desert, the Phantasmos-version of the Glass Desert.

6. Steeling Gazers
Monster's Nature: Technological
Form: Millions of nanobots
Material: Steel
Elements: Light, Steam
Duplicate Appearance: Can assume the appearance of a touched target for up to HD days.
Turn to Stone: Victims that look into the creature's eyes must make a physique test or be turned to stone.
Fears its own reflection

These nanomachines do not feed, but seem to be an artifact of whatever glassed the Glass Desert. They are solar-powered and can harness solar energy offensively, but can also combust coal for steam-power if necessary. They often take the form of drifters. When they meet eye-to-eye with other drifters in the desert, they enter the eye through the optic nerve like light itself, converting the entire organism at the atomic level into inert material like glass or stone, and then take their form. It is unknown why they do this, nor why they only convert intelligent organic life facing them eye-to-eye. It is known that they fear their own reflection, as they seem to be compelled to convert anything they meet eye-to-eye, even if themselves, in their own reflection. For this reason, it is common for travelers to carry at least one shard of looking-glass from the Glass Desert itself. Even if one can avoid their stare, they are as strong as steel, and will become violent if their stare is avoided.

7. Aesthetobites
Monster's Nature: Humanoid
Appearance: Colorful skin (Purple)
Culture: To produce art is the greatest deed an individual can accomplish.
Elements: Rock, Mucus
Animate Dead: Can animate up to 2 times its HD of undead minions. They last until killed again.
Psychic Attack: All enemies within nearby range must make a willpower test or suffer a damage die 1 step lower than normal and receive a negative die for all actions for HD rounds.
True beauty

Humanoids with skin like obsidian, capable of harnessing elemental magics of the minerals in the Glass Desert. They can produce a mucus-like substance capable of preserving organic tissue in obsidian, and can psychically reanimate these mummies to do their bidding. They believe in art and aesthetics at the expense of all else, and take much care in how they taxidermy and mummify their undead minions, often transforming them into exotic, beautiful, and horrifying chimeras. Although generally hostile to other living beings, seeing them as little more than raw materials, they will honor any individuals they believe have or can produce True Beauty.

8. Bony Chaos Fiends
Monster's Nature: Humanoid
Appearance: protruding bones
Culture: Transformation and constant change are essential to save Chaos from the tyranny of Order.
Elements: Acid, Fire
Command animals: Can command a number of animals up to the creature's HD.
Scale Surfaces: Can move over walls, ceilings and other non-horizontal surfaces like a spider.

Fiery, solar-powered humanoids covered in protruding bones. Much of the bone exoskeleton is relatively soft and spongy, more like the cell walls of plants, and has a greenish or purple hue from photosynthesizing agents. However, the hard protrusions, treated with natural acids that calcify them, are harder than normal bone, able to penetrate even iron armor. They use the solar energy to grow new protrusions over the span of days, and use natural acids to dissolve older protrusions. They believe in absolute chaos, and change their bony appearance regularly as a manifestation of this belief. They are also excellent climbers, using their protrusions as hooks, broken protrusions as picks, and even micro-protrusions as spider-like grips. They believe in their doctrine absolutely, and often to a fault. They see any intelligent lifeforms that do not believe in absolute chaos as profane, and will slaughter them without hesitation. While excellent improvisational tacticians, those who are systematic and can survive their onslaught may exploit their lack of order with good strategy. They also have one other ability; they develop a special acid, stored in broken off protrusions which, when struck into unintelligent animals, hijacks their nervous system and slaves them to the bony chaos fiend. They become quite angry when called out for this act of control over nature, given their chaotic doctrine.

9. Qlippoth Claymore
Monster's Nature: Magical
Trait: Translucent body.
Form: Living weapon
Elements: Poison, Wood
Ethereal Form: Can assume an ethereal form, becoming immune to physical attacks and can enter hard to reach places.
Create Barrier: Creates a barrier to hinder or stop movement. Barriers can also inflict damage with thorns or blades. To overcome a barrier, characters will need to make a physique or agility test.

A powerful translucent claymore sword of qlippoth wood carved from the first branch of the eldest Qlippoth Tree. It cuts as hard and sharp as Damascus steel but is as light as air. Its cut induces disease and madness similar to the Qlippoth Tree itself. The weakest Qlippoth Trees or Qlippoth Fruit in the area will be subservient to the wielder, while the more powerful, or those under direct sway of the eldest Qlippoth Tree, will try to avoid the wielder at all costs. The blade is keyed to the wielder, and will be ethereal and untouchable to anyone else unless the wielder is killed. The blade can also harness the power of impossible light to create damaging hard-light barriers. As a blade of impossible light, it induces an epistemological distortion of self and perception, and it is easy to become addicted to the feeling of power and lack of self-awareness that comes with impossible light.

*BONUS: Qlippoth Claymore stats using the Weapon Hack 2.0

Base Form: Heavy (1d8 damage, two-handed)
Total Cost: 6
0 Cost Qualities:
Plant: Made of or contains elements of plant life or is a living plant (excludes normal Wood).
1 Cost Qualities:
Bonded: Weapon only usable by owner, cannot be removed from person without consent.
Concealable: Can be hidden from view.
Elemental (Wood): Has properties related to wood/plants (e.g. benefits to gardening, nature traversal).
Magical: Has general magical properties.
Poisonous: Can cause poisoning.
Unique Appearance: May be a well known item or associated with a well-known person or faction.

10. Mobius
Monster's Nature: Daemonic
Characteristic: Incredibly filthy
Elements: Magma, Diamond
Time Travel: The creature can travel to the past or the future of its location.
Drain Magic: Up to HD targets within nearby range become unable to cast spells if they fail a willpower test. This lasts for HD turns.
Repulsion: Makes it hard for creatures of a certain type (referee's discretion) to approach. Characters can resist with a willpower test.

A true diamond-in-the-rough. A daemon of molten diamond birthed from the event that glassed the Glass Desert. It is a vaguely humanoid, vaguely bestial chimera, covered in dead copper-bugs and other small dead things and slime molds. Only its glistening diamond eyes and the glowing-hot lines around them belie its unfulfilled beauty. It feeds off the radiation and magical energies of the Glass Desert, and produces an impossible-light radiation field around itself, repelling impossible organisms and impossible substances. It is trapped in a mobius time loop starting from the moment the Glass Desert was glassed, up to some synchronous event in the past, future, or adjacently in multi-dimensional hyper-time. It is obsessed with breaking from the loop, but has yet to meet an organism with sufficient knowledge and domain over hyper-time that is not hostile, and can be communicated with. It is mostly mortal-like in intelligence and cognition, except for its innate understanding of hyper-time, and as a result would make for an excellent ally or font of knowledge to any who can help it with its obsession. However, it has no tolerance for anyone who gets in its way.

* NOTE: Hyper-time as described here is basically the Paraverse in my Phantasmos campaign setting.

Kyana BONUS!

Monster's Nature: Magical
Trait: The creature levitates just above ground, having a supernatural lightness.
Form: Giant eye with bloody veins
Elements: Ashes, Mucus, Steam, Air, Earth
Spread Shadows: An aura of shadows extends up to nearby range, blocking the vision of anyone within this space. 
Weaknesses: Addiction

Giants are bigger than any man and the magic of giants is bigger than any mortal magic. It pumps through their blood, it courses through their hearts, it looks at you from their eyes. When a giant dies some parts of them don't fully die the way the mortals do. An eye tears itself free and soars, its nerves and veins trailing like a macabre peacock tail. The gift of foresight for which so many giants are known for is still here, but death inverts its meaning: in the presence of the eye all kinds of vision becomes obscure, and all knowledge becomes occult. Words erode from the books, eyesight darkens, memory clouds, clairvoyant and prophetic visions perceive at best lacunae about everything that is in vicinity of the eye. Surrounded by darkness, both literal and metaphorical, the eye hunts for arcane blood. Sometimes a bold sorcerer seeks such eye to bind it as a familiar or weapon, but wherever the eye exists the air turns to hot ashen steam, and earth seeps with mucus not unlike the putrid liquid from decomposing corpse which makes such familiar obvious after a while.

It is because the binds of giant magic is stronger than of any mortal sorcery, and the giant is never fully separated from their eye, and just like their magic the giant never truly dies but sleeps instead in death dream to one day reawaken.

Monster's Nature: Daemonic
Characteristic: Morbid obesity
Elements: Mucus, Blood, Glass, Light, Lightning
Turn to Stone: victims that look into the creature's eyes must make a physique test or be turned to stone.
Dominate: can dominate the mind of a number of creatures equal to its HD. Victims can resist with a willpower test.
Weaknesses: Aversion to some substance or object

At first you see something like a huge pigskin sack, packed to the point of bursting with some unseen angular things that push and press against the leather, forming odd bumps. The pigskin sack is disgusting but, like a car crash, there is a certain gravity in its appearance, the one that binds your interest and makes its harder to look away. If you do manage to look away very quickly the danger will never come to be, and the sack remains nothing more than a disturbing image in a mind, as the the creature doesn't come to being unless observed. The blood of sorcerers, the one that obscuring eye so longs for, will protect you, as long it is out of veins and smeared all over your own skin, as the creature will fade from the field of view peacefully and simply wait for another victim.

If you keep staring a couple of seconds later you'll notice the dripping red-foamed slime, full of tiny, hot-white sparks – thin, vein-like rivulets of slime are seeping from wounds left by shards of stained glass that pierce the sack at oddest angles, as if the church window exploded into it. Then tiny lightnings that dance between these shards. Then you notice the maw, full of blunt, crushing and all too big teeth, and then the eyes, and then the you'd see nothing, as brief pain envelops you and you turn to stone.

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