Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Bit of Inspiration

So there have been a lot of cool things in the news since I last did one of these, so many that it was hard to pick a few crazy to talk about, so there may be another coming very soon.

One cool thing is that a guy on a Facebook AD&D group posted this image (sadly I could not find any public facing page by which to attribute to him). He took a map of the Forgotten Realms and projected it onto a globe using Celestia, an open-source 3D planet simulator.

I'm going to have to start playing with that.

1) Yet Another Weird Mummy
So, last time I talked about mummifying people in Honey. Well, here is another strange mummy for you. The Drents Museum in the Netherlands recently did a CT scan and endoscopy on a bronze statue of the Buddha and discovered that it contained the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk dating to around 1100 CE.
So, mummies hiding in statues is a great encounter idea in itself. Especially if they remain dormant long enough for the PCs to haul the priceless piece of religious artwork back to their base. When you make them mummified monks (who of course retain all of their monk abilities) it becomes even better. But can we take it up another notch?
In late January, the 200-year old remains of a monk who was mummified while sitting in the lotus position was found in Songinokhairkhan province Mongolia. The body was apparently shrink-wrapped in cow hide after being mummified. The mummy was found in a shipping container, presumably for sale on the black market. 
The thing that makes this potentially more awesome in-game is the theory that the mummified person may not have been dead, but in a state of Tukdam or Sādhanā meditation...
So, you crack open a find a mummy...then find that you are not fighting an undead mummy at all, but rather a monk who has achieved enlightenment and near god-hood.

 2) Vampiric Land Crabs...
New (or new to me) species are always a wonderful source for new game ideas. Geosesarma is a genus of land-dwelling fresh-water crabs native to southeast Asia. Two new species of geosesarma from the island of Java have been described, called geosesarma dennerle (purple claws) and geosesarma hagen (red claws). Dubbed "Vampire Crabs" because of their bright, creepy yellow eyes, both species sport brightly coloured claws. Check these out:
Both crabs are fully terrestrial and are mostly insectivores (sadly they don't drink blood).
Note the Big Creepy Yellow Eyes!
But hey, we play fantasy games here! Obviously there need to be giant versions of these, to whom humans would be like grasshoppers. And, equally obviously, GIANT VAMPIRE CRABS feast on the blood and souls of the poor PCs that become trapped in their giant brightly-coloured claws!
They also like to hide in detritus and ambush their prey. How would you like to see this coming at you? 

3) All of my players know that I'm a big fan of the Plague...
Seriously, I use it a lot, like a lot a lot, disease may be one of my favorite ways to freak out PCs. I like my campaigns dirty, deadly, and disease-ridden. So, obviously, I was pretty interested when the news lit up last week when archaeologists dug up Bedlam Cemetary (London's first municipal cemetary and adjacent to the world's oldest asylum for the mentall ill) and discovered over three thousand corpses of plague victims.
Most of these corpses date from the 16th and 17th centuries, which is slightly sad, since I especially loved reading about the plagues of the 14th century. But the Great Plague of 1665 was pretty awesome too. I'm going to keep following this one, because I'm sure there is a lot to be learned from that many bodies...
Here are some great pictures of the exhumed. 
Now, we always talk about "Plague Zombies" in D&D, mostly as a side effect of modern zombie movies, but what about the PCs wandering into a graveyard and encountering 3000 Plague-ridden Skeletons of Mental Patients?
Insane asylum + cemetery + plague + mass grave == instant Ravenloft adventure!

4) This may be the coolest familiar ever!
Owls are pretty common familiars for wizards. Harry Potter had his snowy owl. Merlin had his highly-educated owl. Well, the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar California may have the coolest owl ever.
This is Zeus.

Zeus is a western screech owl.
Zeus is blind.
Zeus has capsular cataracts.

Owls are often associated with wisdom and divination. How about a blind owl who's eyes reflect the constellations (even during the day) and who grants oracular powers to its master?