[Runequest] Basilisks, Gorgons, and Headhangers

strobus at sympatico.ca strobus at sympatico.ca
Thu Jan 14 01:05:24 EST 2010

Nikk, Tony;


Thanks for your responses so far. I may well have to create a new creature, but I wanted to explore my options with these, first. 


For plot reasons, I need a creature that can kill (destroy the body or otherwise somehow induce a death-like state) without destroying the soul. It needs to be something that can be recovered from, in a way. I'm not doing this because I'm afraid of killing the PCs, but rather because the PCs might specifically seek this creature out for the purposes of entering that inbetween state and being brought back later. As a GM, I'm not telling the players it will be easy or guaranteeing it will work - but I want to give them the option.


Here's the background:

One player has some magical marks on their skin, like tattoos. He has learned that these are associated with a god or god-like entity, and that this marks him as an 'avatar' of the God. One gets these marks by being in physical contact with another who has them when they die - so they can move from person to person. The only known way to get rid of the marks is to die.


I think the player will want to find a way of removing the mark without dying - and I should give him a fighting chance. I've thought of several ways this might work - anything from dabbling in necromancy, to finding the ancient artifact of the snake god which allows a human to shed his skin, to experimenting with spirit transference. One of the ways I thought of is to find and harness the abillities of a creature such as a Gorgon or Head Hanger. It should be something they realistically have a chance at (however small) - and probably there is no chance with a Basilisk.


It just occured to me that that soul-transference trick with the microrhizae in the film Avatar might work - but maybe that's too obvious a borrowing.


Anyway, thanks for the suggestions and any more that come my way. I'd like to hear more monster anecdotes, too, if anyone has them - at least so I can learn how a head-hanger is properly used!


> Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 11:50:54 +0000
> From: nikk.effingham at gmail.com
> To: runequest at rpgreview.net
> Subject: Re: [Runequest] Basilisks, Gorgons, and Headhangers
> 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
> alone.
> 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
> giving).
> 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).
> Nikk
> > 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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