Warning!!! – Players in my Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaigns should not read this entry. It will ruin your day if you do!
Threat from the Deterministic Dimension
Questons are visitors from the Deterministic Dimension. They stand 5’ tall and appear like encephalitic androids, though are not machines, and wear tabards with a single yellow “!” emblazoned upon them (a symbol which is also found in the Hyperborean runic script).
The Questons seek to guide events upon the Forlorn Plateau according to a teleology of only they seem aware. To accomplish this, they blast living beings of all kinds, from lowly insects to Barbaric Pantless Atlanteans, and send them upon often pointless seeming quests, like moving a single boulder twenty yards or burying the corpse of a currently living chieftain to the western riverbank of the Dreadskull River.
Above all other animal life on the Forlorn Plateau, whether beast or sentient or somewhere between, the Questons exhibit a particular obsession with Fanged Cave Goons, whom the transdimensional meddlers have driven to discover fire and invent the wheel and cave painting—though the process and results of these endeavors has been less than optimal for the Questons (see entry for Fanged Cave Goons). Somehow the Fanged Cave Goons fit prominently in the Questons’ designs for the Forlorn Platea, but as of yet, those ends remain unclear.
Geas-raygun: This futuristic-looking raypistol projects a 30’ cone wherein all targets must succeed at a Save vs. Device saving throw or suffer the effects of a geas spell as if it were cast by the Queston.
Predetermination Field: Within 300’ of a Queston, no dice rolls can be made by Player Characters. Instead, the GM should generate a last of pre-rolled numbers appropriate to each die type and present these lists to the players. While a PC is within the Predetermination Field, whenever they are called upon to roll a die, players will instead take as their result the top number from the list for the corresponding die type and so on and so forth going down the list for future rolls of that die type. This field persists even if the Queston is killed; it is intrinsically tied to their presence on the Forlorn Plateau. (Note: these numbers are not necessarily randomly generated; the GM is free, even encouraged, to generate the strings of results according to whim. Who is to say that the PCs are not predetermined to roll fourteen natural 20s in a row followed by a single natural 1 while in proximity of the Queston? The predetermination field should undermine the assumption of probability and randomness on which the game system operates. This is what makes the Questons truly frightening opponents.)
Dreadskull River Beaver Giant, moody river-dwelling rodents
1d3 (3d3 in lair)
40’ (60’ swimming)
D (lair only)
Dreadskull River Beavers are 14’ long semiaquatic rodents who build their dams along the winding, labyrinth of river channels from the Jungles of Baslaag to the Dreadskull River Delta. Notoriously territorial, Dreadskull River Beavers will aggressively defend their dams against any and all intruders.
The dams are impressive structures riddled with nesting chambers and tunnels that often span a hundred yards across a channel. Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans of the Surly-bearded Tribe seek out abandoned dams to serve as river fortresses; though more often than they would like, the original builders return, none too pleased to discover squatters.
For barbarian hunters, few animals offer a challenge and payoff equal to the Dreadskull River Beaver. A complete pelt, unmarred by wounds, will often sell for 1,000 Blood Knots (equiv. to gold pieces) in a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean village, but the real treasure is to be found in the Dreadskull River Beaver’s rectum. The castor sacs of these magnificent beasts yield the vital components of many valuable concoctions, from perfumed body oils to painkillers to flavoring for food, but when combined with a paste made from the crushed petals of the white lotus that grows on the cliffs of the Holy Mountain, the excretion of the Dreadskull River Beaver’s castor sacs serves as a powerful hallucinogen that allows Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean shamans, and those unfortunate enough to join them, to peer through the walls of reality into the placid, deathlike realm of Null-Space, which the shamans refer to as “That Deep Shit.”
Jade Robo-sarcophagi of the Warrior Phantoms of the Ethereal City of Ruul Ancient ghost-powered robot warriors
# of Attacks
4 (by weapon)
Ghost in the Machine;
DR 3; SR 3:12
I (minus gems)
The robo-sarcophagi are six-armed, jade constructs that serve as tombs for the shriveled and mummified remains of the elite warrior class of the ancient humanoid city of Ruul. They roam the Feral Savanna and northern reaches of the Jungles of Baslaag in hovering war-chariots, driven by a need to capture human sacrifices to power the soul-dynamos of the Ethereal City of Ruul.
A phylactery of black crystal embedded in the mummy’s chest binds the long-dead warrior’s ghost to the robo-sarcophagi and serves as its power source. As the warrior’s tomb, he sarcophagi also contain his-or-her most treasured possessions, from gems and jewelry to magical items.
After thousands of years, the warrior phantoms have become exceedingly cruel and callous. They rarely communicate with living creatures, preferring to torture them to the very limits of what is survivable until they are returned to the Ethereal City.
On occasion (a 1:12 chance), a fragment of the nobility and honor which guided the warrior in life may remain, and they will speak with living creatures if they share a language (highly unlikely, as the language of Ruul is unique on the Forlorn Plateau), though the likelihood of their aiding captives is very slim, as they understand the necessity of the sacrifices to the soul-dynamos and would not conscious work against their own people’s survival. However, sects within the Ethereal City exist that oppose the continuation of the city’s stagnant afterlife.
Ghost in the Machine – The ghosts of the warriors that power the robo-sarcophagi are able to detach from the jade constructs that house their bodies and move about as incorporeal phantoms. While the ghost is outside the sarcophagi, the robots may not take any actions other than to defend. The phantoms are able to operate outside the sarcophagi for 1d3 rounds (treat as ghosts of 4 hit dice) and may not do so again for 1d3 days. These ghosts may only be harmed by silver or magical weapons or may be vanquished if the black phylactery inside the sarcophagi is destroyed.
Bodies of Jade – The latticework of jade stone and five gem eyes (250 gold each) protects the robo-sarcophagi from physical attack and sorcery, granting damage reduction of 3 points and a 3:12 chance to resist sorcery.
Background info for a (supposed) one-shot I’ll be running on Google+/Roll20.
You are wanders: Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans questing to attain the title of Gloryseeker; a Rogue Termitoid Hive Mind out to find and expand itself; and (possibly) a Giant Sexy Cave Amazon thief on her way home.
For the evening, you have joined the Barbaric, Pantless Barbarians in the yurt-village of Croog-Ma in the southeastern reaches of the Feral Savanna, north of the steaming Jungles of Baslaag, and partake heroically of the fermented woolly triceratops milk that flows freely in Chieftain Mokda!’s longhouse. Morning arrives with its hangovers and the scent of burning grass in the parched air. Stumbling out into the dawn, you grumble and, squinting, gaze upon a great, swollen and towering cloud of black smoke rising from the grasslands to the south. Below it glows, like a second dawn, a great conflagration sweeping across miles of the savanna.
The tribespeople gaze upon the fire with wonder and grunt assuredly that the catastrophe affirms Crom!’s moody nature. Everyone takes in a bit of the hair of the woolly triceratops that bit them and settles in to watch the world burn. Soon, however, dozens of pantless people appear out on the grass to the south, soot-covered, some horribly burned. They stumble, fearfully, into Croog-Ma and are welcomed. Between stoic grunts against the pain and coughs, these refugees speak of a great fire-breathing death lizard that appeared in the night and burned the hive town of Sogg, scouring it with gouts of flames from out of its long throat. The death lizard is said to have been larger than a horned brontosaur.
Chieftain Mokda! listens glumly and worries that such a beast may soon make its way to Croog-Ma. Tthe chieftain’s gaze swings slowly over to you. You watch him stare. You glance at one another. The chieftain nods and says, “Lo! gloryseekers, ye shall scout the burning country to the south and lay eyes upon this death lizard!” He looks over to the local shaman, a hunchbacked and sniveling man with long, black fingernails who nods his assent. “Crom! wills it. Also, you owe me for the woolly triceratops milk. So, go forth into the burning lands and lay eyes upon this death lizard, kill the great beast if you are worthy, and return with proof so your names may be shouted in glory!”
Nothing quite encourages the sort of bottom-up development of a campaign setting over the course of play like a well-constructed random table. In the days before I discovered the OSR blogosphere, the extent of my table use was the occasional poorly developed random encounter table which I often forgot to use. Fortunately, those days are behind me, and I’ve come to appreciate the creative power found in randomness thanks mostly to Chris Kutalik’s posts over at Hill Cantons on Building Dynamic Sandboxes (and his other discussions about random tables and campaign development), basically everything Jason Sholtis writes in The Dungeon Dozen, and of course, as is clearly the main influence for the tables in this post, the entirety of Yoon-Suin. As a result, nearly everything in my Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaign, from monster encounters to major and minor “story” developments, has been generated with random tables. (In the future, I’ll be sharing the details on one of the regions to be found in the Forlorn Plateau, which is composed almost completely of random tables that allow for a dynamic experience every time PCs enter any region in the world.)
So, what follows is a preview of a series of such tables used to generate a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean village in Spear! Fang! Raygun! using the Yoon-Suin method for develop the PCs’ social circle in the Yellow City. This isn’t yet complete, but it offers a peek at both how Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaigns are generated and, through the use of details within the tables, how the tone of the setting is continuously presented and reinforced during play.
Without anymore nonsense, here is the preview:
Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean Village Generator
The following tables can be used to build a fully fleshed-out Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean town or village. The tables included will generate particular locations and groups within the village or town; conflicts, NPCS, and rumors within those locations; personages who live in the village or town; rumors being spread therein; random encounters to be had while visiting; nearby locations of interest that may or may not be connected to the town or village; and the issues and assets that make this particular town or village someplace special in the hearts of those who dwell there.
Village/Town Locations and Groups
The following tables generate locations and groups the PCs may interact with in the village. Choose or roll a group/location type, a source of conflict, and the type of rival group/location. Do this as many times as you’d like, depending on the size of the village or town. Generally, a village will have 1d3+1 groups or locations and a town will have 2d3+2, but it’s ultimately up to whatever you want. Once you’ve determined the group/location, roll on the associated table to generate the details.
 Woolly Triceratops Milk Fermenters would only be found in Tyrannokiller villages. Other specific groups/locations would be found in other tribes, as listed following: Great Melancholy – Dung-builders quarry; Great Mirth –Tall-house Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons; Hill Panthers – Ironsmith’s yurt; Bloodaxes – Berserkers’ cave; Sullen-eyed – Two-headed pterodactyl roost; Muddled-brain – …; Bronzed Hide – …
 Heresy and faux pas among the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans come in many shapes and colors. Of course, the most common heresies involve taking Crom!’s name in vain (very common) and invoking one of Rad!’s balls (rare and done only when matters are serious). The most obvious faux pas would be the donning of pants, but other faux pas are more common, such as talking shit without being able to back it up in the longhouse, tying your own knots, or pissing in the fire-keeper’s pit. Other faux pas, of course, exist, and are dependent not only upon the village but also upon the tribe.
Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean Longhouse Within this great hall, built of the skeleton of horned brontosaur bulls, the chieftain, his gloryseekers, and his family gather to discuss matters of import to the village/township, such as alliances, war-making, and general badassery. Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans of the village are all welcome to the longhouse, where they are free to drink of the chieftain’s supply of fermented woolly triceratops milk, if they offer their fealty and generally accept that the chieftain is much more badass than they.
Aged, invalid gloryseeker
An extensive cave or tomb system is discovered underneath the site of the of the longhouse.
After years of failure, one of the chieftain’s wives is with child…
Milk-stirrer (like a king’s jester)
A well-aged jug of fermented woolly triceratops milk the chieftain’s grandsire pillaged from the tomb of his own grandsire is found empty!
Time to move! At a whim, it has been decided that the entire village must be uprooted and moved to a random location in (roll 1d3) 1) the same region; 2) a neighboring region; or 3) a mysterious, unspecified location faraway.
 Basically, a diplomat and entourage. Roll 1d8 to determine tribe: 1) Tyrannokillers; 2) Gigantic Melancholy; 3) Gigantic Mirth; 4) Bloodaxes; 5) Hill Panther; 6) Sullen-eyed; 7) Muddled-brain; 8) Bronzed Hide.
 Ambassadors/explorers of foreign origin come to entreat with the chieftain. Roll 1d10 to determine origin: 1) Sexy giant cave amazons; 2) Fanged cave goons; 3) Monks of the Golden Dome Dojo; 4) Goolaag; 5) Gel-men; 6) Rogue termitoid hive; 7) Decadent Zûl; 8) Crater Cities of the Famine Lands; 9) The Brutal Shore; 10) the Pale Moon.
Shaman’s Yurt (incomplete, but you get the idea)
A place where the mysteries of the universe drift about like the smoke of clot-swollen bloodgrass, or the gnawing upon of the strange, jerked meats of alien fungoids reveal the underlying vibrations and beats of an interdimensional life-mesh, a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean shaman’s yurt strikes awe, discomfort, and terror in those who enter there, whether to hear spoken their own dooming or beg the shaman’s advice on the settlement of mundane matters like land disputes or the naming of a firstborn son. Shamans are revered and hated by their tribe, but their powers are indisputable and necessary for the tribe’s survival. Usually, the shaman’s yurt is a large building built some distance away from the rest of the village or township. It is hardly a hermitage, however, as a shaman’s role within Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean society extends in nearly every facet of their lives.
What follows is the first post regarding the history and overview of the Forlorn Plateau, the continent-sized sandbox where most Spear! Fang! Raygun! stories take place (we’ll get to the Omniverse in a later post). In no way will this be a complete and/or final rundown of the Forlorn Plateau but is intended to give anyone interested in running a Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaign of their own (or just wanting to steal some of my ideas) a place to easily reference.
Welcome to the Forlorn Plateau
History & Myth, Part One
When the planet was young and nameless, the great single-celled organism, Yaag, covered it in an ocean of writhing cytoplasm.
For eons, Yaag has died.
And out of its vast cell membrane crawled its multifarious offspring. Lifeforms totally devoid of regular shape, creatures rife with inquiring limbs, glands, and organs, they preyed upon and bred with one another in a senseless riot of meat. At first, life acquiesced entirely to whatever it subjected itself to: to eat and be eaten; to breed and be born; to live and to die.
In many ways, life behaved no differently than it had when it was composed solely of Yaag itself. It remained as a singular substance, without will, without thought, until after generations, a pattern emerged out of the mindless compliance with procreation and slaughter. Life learned to resist: certain beings developed forms that allowed them to escape being eaten; life learned to entice: other beings had qualities that increased their likelihood to breed.
A billion or so years passed.
As what remained of Yaag receded, leaving a planet-spanning desert in its wake, new organisms flourished upon a lone, continent-sized plateau that rose miles above the desiccation. A few of the plants and animals of this Forlorn Plateau developed rudimentary intelligence, organized into social groups and were eventually wiped out by others in the merciless rise and decline of civilizations. After eons, as the carcasses of the extinct fossilized and their ruins turned into geology, one species of bipedal formicidoid thrived, emerging from remote hive complexes in the weird, writhing Jungles of Baslaag to conquer and enslave the extant sentients.
The Age of the Hyperborean-Insectoid arrived.
This conqueror species, which the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans would later name the Hyperboreans, developed a singular hive sentience that could nearly instantaneously transmit information across its network of drones via specialized ganglia capable of a sub-dimensional (unconscious) and hyper-dimensional (conscious) telepathy. The hive intelligence learned to harness and guide its own neural development and manifest other psychic powers. It flourished and grew in intelligence and power as the hive’s population increased. It built great cities. It developed super-science and sorcery.
With these powers, they dominated other insectoid species and bred them, converting their neural tissue into ganglion which the hive intelligence could tap and access and control. The emergence of a telepathic hive sentience within this new conqueror species allowed the development of a civilization-wide super-being, where every individual drone, every warrior, every breeding queen, every “node-bug” (which serve as essential conduits in the hive’s telepathic network) worked towards absolute dominion over the Forlorn Plateau and its lifeforms.
It enslaved lesser, mammalian, reptilian, icthyoid, and vermiform species and bred and hybridized and mutated them for its own purposes and pleasure. It developed bio-vat technology, harnessing what remained of Yaag’s seminal cytoplasm, to create entirely novel species of its own design. Even its constituent insectoid species were modified to serve its purposes: it created coleopteran warriors, vespid explorers, termitoid laborers, etc. It even developed mutant species which would serve as land vehicles or vessels for traversing the vacuum of outer space. Nothing seemed beyond its grasp.
The Hypborean-Insectoid hive intelligence surveyed and mapped the structure of its own physical dimension and drove its ever-expanding consciousness to envelop the world. Like Yaag, the Hypborean-Insectoid civilization became a planet-spanning entity, but unlike Yaag, which was composed of unthinking material, with it the planet became aware of itself. But this was not enough. It envisioned its expansion to the very rim of the universe, and beyond, as manifest. It discovered the Null-Space between dimensions, and there its mind had formed like an imprint upon the non-stuff between realities. The Hyperborean-Insectoid civilization discovered it could transverse this Null-Space through hyperspace tendrils that spanned between dimensions. Thus a new phase of transdimensional expansion and invasion began…
The Hyperborean-Insectoid discovered the Omniverse, and in doing so, it secured its doom. It woke the Null-Titans.
BARBARIC, PANTLESS SONS OF THE GIANT SEXY CAVE AMAZONS
(The rules included herein are intended for use with the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rules, but they could easily be adapted to any OSR-style retroclone or original.)
Among the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans of the Gigantic Mirth tribe, the following rite is performed: In order to be named war chief, a gloryseeker must first allow himself to be captured for mating purposes by the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons, who dwell in the Caves of Immeasurable Splendor and raid the tribelands of the Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans for well-gammed menfolk. If the candidate survives this union uncrippled and a son is brought and abandoned by his Giant Sexy Cave Amazon mother in the father’s village nine months later (as Giant Sexy Cave Amazons only keep and raise their female children, who grow to become 9′ tall Amazons themselves), he may thenceforth lead his people into battle, as he has proven his mettle, his prowess, and his vigor.
These sons, however, grow prodigiously and often eat more than their fellow tribesmen believe is decent or advisable, but in time they become great, powerful warriors (if not a little sensitive by Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean sandards) warriors. On average, the Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Sexy Cave Amazons will grow to over 7′ in height, not quite reaching the 9′ of their mothers but towering above their fathers’ people. Other than these differences in heritage, and abandonment issues, Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons differ very little, culturally, from their Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean cousins and sires.
Within Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean society (or lack thereof), the Barbaric, Pantless Sons are treated with a combo of awe and tight-lipped pity. As they age and it becomes apparent their mental and social growth is as stunted as their bodily growth is prodigious, their tribesmen will often develop entire cults of personality around the local Barbaric, Pantless Son as way of explaining away not only their oftentimes quite obvious deficiencies, but why they’re a cut above the rest physically. (It should be noted here that Giant Sexy Cave Amazons, who will be detailed in a later post, do not suffer from these same deficits; it’s a nurture over nature sort of deal.) Nothing makes the tribesmen feel as guilt-ridden as hurting a Barbaric, Pantless Son’s feelings. You’d understand, as well, if you had to see a nearly 8′ tall barbarian bawl like a petulant toddler with a Strength attribute of 19. So, it’s not uncommon for a Barbaric, Pantless Son to be told (and believe) outrageous legends concerning his birth and childhood by his father or tribesmen if he ever bothers asking. Roll a 1d8 and consult the following table determine the nature of this origin yarn:*
Kidnapped by Fanged Cave Goons as an infant who replaced his brain with dung.
Discovered in the wild having been raised by an actual boulder.
A long time ago, a great sage journeyed to the tribe’s village from the holy mountains of Crom!’s Bones and spoke of a time when a hero of unmatched prowess would umm, uhh… “Hey, look at that woolly triceratops over there is trying to stand on its hind legs!”
For two years before the Barbaric, Pantless Son was born, his father strictly ate four raw horned brontosaur eggs for breakfast each morning.
“Your mother didn’t love you, and I don’t either, now shut up!”
Toddled off from a long lost tribe of Giant Barbaric, Pantless Atlanteans (disclaimer: no such tribe exists), found his way to the village that raised him, and once coming of age, he absolutely should definitely return to them the first chance he gets.
Dropped off outside the father’s yurt by a two-headed pterodactyl.
Harvested, like all children, of course, from a patch of Hyperborean Spawn-Cabbages.
*Note: Such flimflam about origins and backstories justifying behaviors and choices displeases Crom! so be warned. The GM may want to determine that such a background disqualifies Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons from being Worthy of Crom! but the lack of detail in this backstory and the fact that it’s completely false should be enough to allow them to be Worthy of Crom! though Crom! himself may be less understanding.
Barbaric, Pantless sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons apply a +2 to Strength and +1 Constitution but a -2 to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, as they are densely made, both physically and mentally,
Pantless Sires:When not wearing pants (except loincloths or codpieces, though these are optional), as their fathers’ people, Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons receive a bonus Luck Point and +1 to Armor Class. (Rules for Luck found here.)
Mommy Issues:Likely due to their abandonment as babes and being suckled upon the less bountiful mammaries of Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean wet nurses, Barbaric, Pantless Sons have a hard time of it interacting with members of the opposite sex, receiving a -2 reaction adjustment when doing so. This manifests as anything from insurmountable bashfulness to a severely misguided overconfidence in their own sex appeal.
Tribe: Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons roll for their Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean tribe as per described in the entry for the other race; however, Barbaric, Pantless Sons add a +2 to their roll as they are more likely to hail from one of the southern tribes, due to their proximity to the Jungles of Baslaag where the Cave of Immeasurable Splendors is located. The northern tribes never count Barbaric, Pantless Sons among their numbers. (Details regarding Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean tribes forthcoming in a future post.)
Tribal Occupation:Roll on the same table as a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean for the Barbaric, Pantless Son’s tribal occupation.
What is Most Pumped in Life? Being that what is best in life is inborn and not a social construct, Barbaric, Pantless Sons of the Giant Sexy Cave Amazons do not roll on the What is Best in Life? Table. Instead they roll on the much narrower, much more exuberant What is Most Pumpedin Life? Table below.
What is Most Pumpedin Life?
…fresh cave bear grease slathered over your bod…
Must maintain greasing with cave bear (or suitably badass animal) grease or lose bonuses and suffer depression (disadvantages on some rolls)
Gain Glistening Gams as a Barbaric, Pantless Atlantean except at a 4:12 and +8% on Extraordinary Feats of Dexterity when properly greased
…skin bronzed by wasteland sun…
3:12 chance per month of developing melanoma; dead in 2d3 months unless removed
Unaffected by heat damage from sun, unappetizing to primordial beasts (3:12 chance they’ll only bite once or spit out if swallowed whole)
…rock solid shoulders, arms, and chest…
Skipped leg day; speed reduced by 10’
+8% bonus to Extraordinary Feats of Strength when lifting in squat position (or deadlifting), +2 damage to unarmed attacks