Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dread Haruspectre of the Frozen Hand (an old school D&D joint)

So I'm hanging out with my pal A and our friend M is in town, and these two ladies want me to watch the Woody Allen movie. There are decent actors in it, so I go OK and we get to the theater and it's sold out. Then they talk me into seeing the male stripper movie, and I'm like OK, Soderbergh, and it was way better than it had any right to be (I do not enjoy naked men, which is sad, because men are hella sluts). Plus, afterward I could make M all fluttery by talking in a Matthew McConaughey accent, and while she is coupled up with another dude it was funny and fun to watch her reaction.
All of which is to say, I got home at nearly 2 AM and couldn't sleep, but I wasn't really getting ideas for the things I should be writing. Instead, I kept thinking about this drawing that Zak S posted the other day. 

It would probably be easy to fill several D&D sessions just getting to this encounter, and/or deriving from it.

PROSPECTUS: The big face-person in the drawing is a hologram projected from the platform but more importantly a fortune-teller who reads the entrails of freshly-gutted intelligent creatures who have to have cared about the answers she is seeking. So. One of the PCs has to die to get the answer they want. Another PC has to hold his/her guts in front of the face-person.
Two wrinkles are in the PCs favor. Wrinkle 1: if what they desire was impossible, trying to find the answer by letting her read the fresh entrails makes an answer possible. Wrinkle 2: The big box of shapes below is a quantum-engine thingy that makes a duplicate of whatever's inside, including a person. Make a clone of yourself, but one of you has to die to get what you want.*
All this can be found out by questioning the inhabitants of this cruel moon.

DETAIL: The Haruspectre of the Frozen Hand is encountered by those who, by teleportation mishap or starship crash landing, wind up marooned on this forgotten moon of an abandoned planet. She wishes to leave, but cannot mention this directly. For most, she is the only way off the planet. Those who do escape abandon her here, for the safety of other systems and so there will be a way out if they end up here again.

The Haruspectre of the Frozen Hand (giant face w/legs in the drawing)
-secretly a hologram projected by floating platform; only observed on this platform and voice comes from it and not her face; face only moves to change expression
-weapons (magical or not) and spells pass through her to no effect; damage to platform causes her to disappear for 1day per HP of damage (platform has 50 HP and will regenerate [1hp/day] to full due to nanobots or whatever, as long as 1 HP is still there)
-Haruspex of the Frozen Hand is actually her title, as she is the last of her dread order. She can see the future, and in some ways make the future, by reading the entrails of an intelligent creature. The creature must care greatly about the answer sought, and must die in the process. If there was no answer to the question asked, reality will alter to make an answer possible. 
An example: "How do I get off this damned rock?" If there was previously not a way off, but the ritual gutting and entrails reading happens correctly, there will now be a way. ("Combine the parts from the ship in the valley to the south with the power couplers at the bottom of Bloodfly pond." or "Invoke the demon Gamm√ľn and make a deal with it to cross through the Plane of Dream's Regret.")

Drawn by ZakZak, if I should remove the drawing for some reason let me know and I will.

*Her platform is often floating above an obscure object with many interlocking planes of metal and glass. There are several shafts and enclosed chambers in it. If the PCs are very successful in questioning the locals, they can find out it is a Quantum Double-Slit Diffraction Drive, a device that will pull in a version of whatever is put in one of its chambers from a slightly different reality, including a living being.
-If a PC is duplicated in this way, the 'new' being has the memories and allegiances of the original PC, but rolls HP from scratch and rolls a D6 for each existing ability score, in order:
1-3: subtract this number from the ability score
4: add 1 to the ability score
5: add 2
6: add 3
(This is an opportunity if a player likes their character but wants to change something subtle and have an in-game reason. Abilities, personality, whatever. Or just a disturbing, wacky mess.)

A common practice for those who have sought out the Haruspectre or are trapped here is to duplicate themselves, then either have the duplicate sacrifice them or subdue and sacrifice their own double. The duplicate knows the situation, and will endeavor to be the one that survives. If neither is killed in 1d6 days after duplication, both will decay and mutate in bizarre ways even if they leave this moon.

The Haruspectre is served by creatures that enjoy dispatching the remains of the dread fortune-telling ritual; several Giant Flies and a Doublegator. (Doublegator stats as Crocodile from MM but additional bite attack from back end.)
She has befriended a telepathic Giant Frog of genius intelligence, but he does not serve her. They play odd forms of strategy and riddle games, sometimes involving creatures of lesser intelligence in their hobby, to their detriment.

This moon is mostly deserts, frozen tundra, mountains, and crashed spaceships. Some of the crashed ships had sufficient resources and population to form small communities around. Most of these groups are friendly enough, although cutthroat about survival. Others have developed bizarre habits in their isolation. The Haruspectre and her companions are left alone until an individual needs help, then there is a lottery among those concerned to see who will have the honor of being the sacrifice.
If the Haruspectre is killed (by destroying the platform), the weird and sometimes savage moon-tribes will seek the death of whoever did it.

EDIT: did a quick grammar edit and moved the picture up to break up the text.

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