Homebrew Monsters: Octopus Dragon and Mantis Dragon

While the bestiaries for Numenera, The Strange, and Cypher System have plenty of wonderful creatures for your players to encounter, sometimes you see something you know your players need to encounter during their adventures.

A dragon-like sea creature with blue rings, and spikes and 4 legs ending in claw, four ending in tentacles

Octopus Dragon (Level 7)

While it bears little relation to the intelligent octopodes that reside in the deep, the Octopus Dragon was named for it’s resemblance to them. A cunning predator, the Octopus Dragon camouflages itself to match it’s surroundings and ambushes it’s prey. An Octopus Dragon can breath air, but prefers the ocean, where it’s a more effective hunter. Octopodes despise any association with these relatively mindless predators and will pay handsomely to anyone who brings evidence of a successful kill.

Motive: Hungers for flesh
Environment: Anywhere in the Ocean, Solitary
Health: 35
Damage Inflicted: 8 points
Modifications: Stealth as Level 9, Speed Defense as Level 6 due to size
Movement: Short
Combat: The Octopus Dragon can make two attacks in a round, a bite attack, a claw attack, and/or grabbing with it’s tentacles. The bite attack is venomous and requires a Might Defense roll if the attack succeeds. On a failed roll, the victim becomes respiratory muscles begin to seize up, and breathing becomes difficult. They take an additional 2 points of Intellect Damage (then Might, then Speed) each round as oxygen struggles to make it to their brain. To stop the progress of the venom, someone must pass a level 6 heal check, assisting with false respiration.
The tentacle attack prevents the Octopus Dragon from moving, but allows it to grab onto a target, increasing the difficulty of avoiding it’s bite or claws by two levels. To avoid being grabbed, the adventurer must succeed on a Might Defense roll, level 7.
Interaction: The Octopus Dragon is not intelligent like the Octopodes it resembles. It cannot be reasoned with. Patient predators, they use their superior camouflage abilities to blend in the with terrain and attack when prey draws near.
Use: When a party is investigating something on the sea floor or in a coral reef, the Octopus Dragon might be laying in wait. They are drawn to numenera, or semi-precious jewels, and will kill to add them to their hoard.
Loot: Like most dragons, the Octopus Dragon keeps a hoard, usually in a nearby cave. While typically composed of pearls and shells, adventurers may also find several oddities, 2d20 abadis, 2-3 cyphers or even an artifact in the hoard. If time is taken, a careful explorer might be able to extract enough venom for three uses from the mouth of the Octopus Dragon.
GM Intrusion: The PC fails to realize that the Octopus Dragon has another limb that has been camouflaged, and it now uses it to attack the PC.

A dragon like creature with front arms like a preying mantis, and dragonfly like wings

Mantis Dragon (Level 6)

With a silhouette that shocks with its very wrongness, the Mantis Dragon is an enormous hybrid that is as deadly as it is frighteningly alluring . With their ability to enthrall prey, Mantis Dragons typically wait until their targets are too close to even contemplate escape before capturing them with their hypnotic hum and fluttering of wings. Many an unlucky explorer has been ripped apart by a Mantis Dragon’s powerful forelegs, dumbly smiling all the while.

Motive: Hungers for flesh
Environment: Grasslands, temperate and tropical climates, Solitary
Health: 28
Damage Inflicted: 6
Modifications: Stealth as Level 7, Perception as Level 7
Movement: Short, Long when flying
Combat: The Mantis Dragon has powerful forelegs that it uses to clasp and cut apart it’s prey. Once grasped in the strong forelegs, it’s a difficulty 8 Might Defense roll to escape. The Mantis Dragon does an additional 2 points of damage each round once it has a creature in it’s clutches.
The Mantis Dragon frequently mesmerizes it’s prays with it’s wings. As an action, the Mantis Dragon may spread it’s wings and move towards it’s prey in a slow rhythmic motion, emitting a low hum. Each creature in line of sight must make a Level 6 Intellect Defense roll or become mesmerized by the patterns in it’s wings and the sound it makes. On a failure, the targets are stunned and unable to take actions until the Mantis Dragon ceases it’s dance, or they suffer harm from an attack.
The Mantis Dragon can also bite it’s prey, though it’s preferred attack is to crush a victim in it’s forelegs.
Interaction: Mantis Dragons are predators, and cannot be reasoned with.
Use: The Mantis Dragon, blends into the surrounding environment, rather then tracking it’s prey. The party might venture into its territory and it sees a chance for a meal, or hunters in the region have reported the Mantis Dragon as a threat on their ability to hunt for food for their families.
Loot: Mantis Dragons hide their hoards well, and it will take some time to discover it’s location. The hoard typically consists of 2d20 shins, several oddities, and 2-3 cyphers, taken from previous meals.
GM Intrusion: While an adventurer is in its clasp, the Mantis Dragon takes to the air, and drops them. The adventurer has moments to try to stop their fall.

Images from Gomalemo on Tumblr

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

Spire RPG
I’m really interested in Spire, an RPG where you play as part of an ongoing revolution, fighting for freedom and against your oppressors. The worldbuilding that has been done for you looks incredible and I love their redesign of character classes. The game uses a d10 system and as the game continues your character will accrue stress, which can cause them trouble when their luck as a member of the resistance turns. I really think this game will be a meaningful one, and I can’t wait to play it.

“You are a dark elf. The touch of the sun burns your grey skin, and you hide from the light in twisting corridors, crumbling temples and the lawless undercity of the metropolis known as Spire. The high elves, rulers of the city, alien and capricious, allow you to live here as an underclass forced to beg for scraps.

Your religion, your culture, and your people are being destroyed all around you. You have seen your fathers, your mothers, your grandparents subjugated by the high elves, and you have had enough. You have joined the resistance: the ministry of Our Hidden Mistress, worshippers of a forbidden goddess. You have sworn in blood that the high elves will fall, that you will destroy them through subterfuge, and insurrection, and terror.

Spire offers players a chance to take part in a fantasy revolution, and to fight back against those who oppress you. Unlike many games, the monsters aren’t out in the wilderness; they’re living above you in obscene luxury, dominating your people in the aftermath of a brutal war. Spire tasks players with changing the city, whether for good or ill, and that’s how they gain experience and new abilities.

We’ve taken the common tropes of D&D (and other fantasy mainstays) and adjusted them to mesh with our own world, so while there’s plenty that’ll seem familiar to any seasoned roleplayer, there’ll be something in there to surprise everyone, too. ”
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Scratch Made Pies: Introduction

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

Hello, welcome to Scratch Made Pies, a blog that covers my trek through fashioning a fictional universe that I use for a bi-weekly Pathfinder game. I will be using this blog to work through my ideas and thoughts as well as the process that I am using to spin my own little slice of a fictional reality.

But first, a little about me. I have been playing Pen and Paper RPGs since 1990 when I first played the old Marvel Super Heroes published by TSR. After that I played in various games of AD&D when I was able to check the books out of the library (I’m from a small town. Comic book and game shops are nowhere near my home.) I really hit my stride when I moved to a town WITH a game shop and delved deep into the White Wolf and AEG offerings of Vampire, Legend of the Five Rings and 7th Sea. And then 3.0 hit like a lightning bolt and it was EVERYWHERE. This is where I got my first taste of running games and was fortunate enough to have a regular group where all of the other players were seasoned Dungeon Masters. This gave me some very harsh lessons in how to and not to run a session. Fast forward to a good deal of time later and I’ve been a player and DM for The Redacted Files.

But one thing that I had wanted to do for the last few years was to develop a game world for my Pathfinder/D&D games that I really could call my own.

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What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

I haven’t had a chance to play a lot of 5e yet, but I really love it as a d20 system. Scrivened has previously adapted 5e for scifi games with Hyperlanes, and now they’re bringing it to the post-apocalypse. This is a complete reskinning of 5e, with new classes, vehicle rules, and converting the magic system to the same Gambit system they used in Hyperlanes. I’m really interested in seeing what Hellscapes does with both 5e and the post-apocalyptic setting.

“HELLSCAPES is the beaten and battered manual you need to run post-apocalyptic survival games. We’ve scavenged the noble bones of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, reworking its lightweight materials into twisted mechanics to serve our needs. We bastardize classes into those that suit the wastes, allowing for new and dangerous heroes to arise. We’ve repurposed the raw materials of Feats and Backgrounds to reflect the storylines of hardened scavengers. We recast Races into Origins, allowing you to customize tribes, mutations, and robotic enhancements to suit the hellish campaign settings you choose.

Need a game where society collapses as the dead rise to consume the living? Want to see how you’d fare against the unblinking gaze of robotic overlords? Hope to lead the uprising of a human resistance against alien conquerors? We’ve got the system for you.

HELLSCAPES includes all the post-apocalyptic baddies your DM needs to tear you limb from limb, leaving more food for those who remain. Just kidding, we’re sure you’ll make it tough guy.”
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What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

Arcana Note 5e Leather Journal
This journal is beautiful. It almost makes me wish I ran 5e so I’d have a reason to use it. This journal has everything you need to go with your game, including a dice tray, cards with useful information, and a GM screen. As a player or a DM, you could put this journal to use for your campaign. Plus it’s in leather! You should really give the Arcana Note a look if you want to make sure your game is organized and stylish.

“Arcana Note is a portable, rugged leather notebook filled with 5E tools such as character sheets, cheat sheets, a collapsing dice tray, a ruler that measures game feet, a mini GM screen, grid paper, condition/spell/item cards, card pages and more. The inside pages contain templates for tracking sessions, NPCs, organizations and locations within your campaign.”
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Review: Icons and Conditions Deck for 13th Age

Eaxamples of each of the condition cards and three of the icon cards

This past year, Dread Unicorn Games released Gods and Icons, which expands the Icons in the game, giving them names, organizations, relationships with over icons, and even variations to make them more unique for your game. Each Icon also has a list of gods associated with them, which I love because 13th Age doesn’t have any named gods. I reviewed this excellent supplement earlier this year, and now Dread Unicorn has released cards to make game play even easier.

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What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

The Yellow King RPG
Aser and I backed this kickstarter without even looking at all the details of the campaign. The King in Yellow plus Robin D. Laws? You know it’s going to be good. It features four setting books you can wind your campaign through as the effect the Yellow King has on the world is realized and people band together to fight back. The settings are Belle Epoque Paris as the play is first released, an alternate reality 1947 where soldiers fight in the ongoing WWII while the Yellow King and his daughters make things much more complicated, a 2017 that exists in the same reality as the 1947, where people are trying to rebuild their lives after a vicious civil war, and a 2017 more reminiscent to now, though reality isn’t quite as solid. The game uses the Gumshoe system, but expands some of the combat and health systems based on the recently released GUmshoe One-2-One. The books are going to come in a beautiful slip case, part of which will unfold into a GM screen. There are, of course, deluxe versions and even some super limited versions that you can get, as well as a sourcebook, a novel, and a gaming roll.

“Pelgrane Press is terrified to announce The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, an innovative new GUMSHOE core game written and designed by creator of the system Robin D. Laws. YKRPG takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines.

Inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ influential cycle of short stories, YKRPG pits the characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. This suppressed play, once read, invites madness. Or a visit from its titular character, an alien ruler intent on invading and remolding our world into a colony of their planet, Carcosa. Four books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront your players with an epic journey into reality horror.”
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Borrowing from Other Systems for Fun and (Mechanical) Profit

Pile of translucent polyhedral dice, all in bright colors

While I haven’t been in the RPG community for as long as many, I’ve had the opportunity to play and run a huge variety of systems. I’ve found that most systems have an idea that I always miss when I’m playing any other game. Like spending an XP to reroll my dice when I’m not playing a Cypher Game, or the duel Sanity/Stability system in Trail of Cthulhu. Unfortunately, moving a lot of these mechanics to a new system isn’t possible without re-writing the system, and work instead to be something that makes returning to that system every time we sit down to play. However, I think there are some ideas out there that could be moved to different systems with a little effort.

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Finding a System for Your Next Campaign

Every couple of months around here at TRF, we finish up one of the three or so ongoing campaigns we have running at any given moment. For some people, this might represent an opportunity to pause, bask in the afterglow of a satisfying finale and plot out what comes next. More likely than not though, for us it means it’s time to hit the ground running with our next big idea. When you run this many games, you begin to get a good feel for the best, read easiest, ways to plan for these things and the sorts of factors that make for a good experience.

Bookshelf filled with RPG books

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What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

The Nightmare Gallery
The Nightmare Gallery is a horror movie written by Rob and Jhan of Orpheus Protocol (look for an interview with Rob later this week!). The movie follows a professor of anthropology who receives some cryptic messages that claim to be from a TA that went missing three years earlier, and the path that pushes her and her wife down. What’s really cool is that this professor is played by Amber Benson, aka Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the goals of this movie is to develop a horror movie with fleshed out LGBTQ characters, and I’m really excited to see a movie that is really thoughtful about this. Plus if you’ve listened to Orpheus Protocol you know the horror is going to be amazing. It’s only $15 to get a digital copy of the movie, and you also get access to a lot of amazing additional material from Seraph Films, including a short film, your name in the credits, and an exclusive episode of Horror Haiku. This is a movie that I never knew was missing from my collection, and I can’t wait to see it!

“Amber Benson stars in The Nightmare Gallery as Professor Rand, an anthropology professor whose life is turned upside-down by the sudden, suspicious disappearance of a star pupil. But when a package of paranormal artifacts arrives on her doorstep three years later, the professor embarks on a nightmarish journey into mystery that will shake her and her wife to their cores. Through a terrifying, Lynchian lens, the film follows Professor Rand’s horrifying loss of self in pursuit of an extra-dimensional truth that could doom the world.”
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