[Runequest] Basilisks, Gorgons, and Headhangers

Nikk Effingham nikk.effingham at gmail.com
Wed Jan 13 22:50:54 EST 2010

Hi Chris,

I get the impression you want a powerful creature that doesn't wipe
everyone out. If you're asking how to recover from these things, I
think you've got the wrong creatures. Headhangers, basilisks etc.
should be creatures of fear and terror - there shouldn't be a
recovery. At least, in my opinion. Only then can you get what you want
from them - namely players quaking in their boots. The only way to run
these creatures is to let your PCs know they're about to face them and
let them tool up appropriately (with Shield spells and the like).
Otherwise, it leads to the TPK you're worried about. So, unless you
think TPK is funny (which I do somedays) I'd leave them well enough

I'd recommend knocking up a new monster instead. So a basilisk is a
sorcerous creation. Maybe there are Basilusks, which are the offspring
of two free-willed basilisks (which, given the sorcerors who create
them are rarely going to let them loose, will rarely have a chance to
mate). Make the Basilusk weaker - give it far weaker poison, make its
glare remove points of CON (permanently - so it's NASTY, but can be
recovered slowly over time by finding people with Restore CON spells
or what have you). So you've got a deadly, unique monster that's going
to do some carnage but not kill the party.

Better yet, you can start by making them think it's a basilisk. Then
let them find out it's a basilusk. This has some nice knock on effects
in that it gives them a bit of world knowledge (which players always
like learning) and, better yet, if there's a basilusk out there then
that means that *somewhere* there is not one, but two, *basilisks*.
Which can be the cue for a latter adventure (in the same vein as
'Bride of Frankenstein' you'll have 'Mother of the Basilusk' and
'Father of the Basilusk' - see, it's the adventure seed that keeps on

Oh, and my best basilisk story is when they knew it was a basilisk so
all closed their eyes to it couldn't hurt them. But RQ basilisks just
get a Glare attack - there was nothing about them meeting your eyes to
kill you, so half the party dropped dead as they wondered why. Also,
my vampire colony had basilisk familiars. They all kept them at the
top of their tower, which acted as a form of internet for them (as
they'd communicate telepathically with their basilisk which would
communicate with the other basilisks and so every other vampire would
know what was going on). Plus, when you walked into the tower you got
20 odd basilisk attacks every round (which sounds deadly, but once
you've got the appropriate level of Shield it's harmless as the
basilisks can't boost their attack to overcome it).


> Hi all,
> I'm looking for a powerful creature to throw at my players. For my purposes, it will be a unique campaign creature and quite powerful. I'm considering one of the three mentioned in the subject line, but I'm open to other suggestions.
> The creature must be able to kill, but not kill. There must be a chance, however small, that someone killed by this creature can be brought back - but their body dies. Here's my thinking on the three:
> The Basilisk kills outright by magical means. This could be tweaked in our campaign such that it's gaze turns to stone. I'm a bit worried about it because it's so deadly in other ways, too (poison) - it's got TPK written all over it. It might be too deadly. The description of it, though, would fit perfectly into our jungly milieu.
> The Gorgon is similar to the Basilisk in some ways - a gaze that turns victims to stone, poisonous snake hair. Less deadly though, and probably more appropriate for my PC's abilities. I would change it's appearance to more closely resemble the basilisk. The benefit of being turned to stone is that the person might still be alive under all that rock.
> The Headhanger is really unique, and that appeals. It'll strike horror for sure. In the case of this creature, a person's intelligence can be captured and stored. This might somehow be returned to a new body (or same body?)  later.
> So - the questions:
> 1. Does anybody have any experience or interesting stories to relate concerning these creatures in play?
> 2. How does one recover from being turned to stone or to having one's head hung?
> 3. Got any other creatures to recommend that might do the trick?
> Thanks!
> Chris

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