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Friday, 6 April 2018

Monster hunt, part 2

Here’s the second half of this distinctly mid-80s scenario. Originally Oliver and I had titled it “Cat and Mouse” but that’s before we realized quite how much of a tool for selling figurines it was intended to be. “Big Game” was much more honest about what it was -- and "Monster Hunt" not only more honest still, but in keeping with Games Workshop's tastes at the time.

We don’t generally use figurines in our own games. Sometimes we’ll break them out for a rare full-on tactical combat, but in that case we’re just as likely to use card counters. I prefer the players to imagine themselves in a real setting rather than as tin figures on a hex map. That probably accounts for why I wrote nothing more for White Dwarf after it had been uprooted and moved to Nottingham.

Well, that’s history. But now – the game’s afoot!

(download larger map here)
The characters’ job if they were employed by Altan is to capture or kill the various monsters on the island. If they have been wrecked here, their problem will probably be to find the jetty where Altan’s own boat is moored.

If they have confidence in their stealth skills, the characters may decide to split up. Less powerful characters will presumably opt instead for safety in numbers. If the characters split up it is probably best to treat their hunting like a board game (let everyone see everyone else’s moves) rather than the usual line of “you lot wait in the other room.” There is particular fun to be had here if the player characters make wagers among themselves as to who’ll get the most kills.

For convenience, movement on the overview map of the island is taken in five-minute turns. Each hex represents 60 metres. Characters get a number of movement points (WFRP: based on M score) which they expend for movement each turn:
For example, a character with M= 4, advancing at normal speed, would get 8 movement points each turn. Clear terrain costs 1 movement point to traverse, so this character could cross 8 clear terrain hexes in a turn.

Other terrain affects movement differently, as shown below:
The contours denote an increase of 20 metres, and a character who wishes to cross a contour going uphill expends +1 movement point to do so. When a contour line cuts through a hex (rather than along the hex side) a character ending their move in that hex must specify which side of the contour line they are on. Characters attacking down a slope get the advantage of higher ground. (Dragon Warriors: -1 from ATTACK of those fighting up the slope; WFRP: +10% to WS of those fighting down the slope.)

Spell duration
In Dragon Warriors this is determined by rolling d100 for each spell at the end of every five-minute turn:
A random encounter is checked for at the end of each turn. This is done by rolling d100 for the terrain the character is in and consulting the Encounter Table. For characters on a path, reduce the roll by d10. If an encounter is indicated, roll again on d100 to see if a second creature is also there.
DW: Check for surprise on both sides by regular STEALTH v PERCEPTION rolls. Make a separate STEALTH roll for each member of the party against the highest PERCEPTION of the monsters they have encountered, and vice versa. These conditions obviously favour the monsters, who are generally going to be encountered solitarily or in groups of two or three, rather than the characters, who are likely to be a larger party. Some characters (notably assassins) may prefer to shorten the odds by splitting off from the main party and scouting alone.

A character moving cautiously (see above) moves more slowly but gets +2 to both STEALTH and PERCEPTION. If running, he or she deducts -2 from STEALTH and PERCEPTION.

WFRP: When there is an encounter, check to see if either the PCs or the monsters heard each other. Each monster has been given a Noise rating (representing the chance of the PCs hearing it) and a Listen rating (which modifies its chance of hearing them). Remember that characters don’t get any chance to hear sounds which are softer than the noise they’re making themselves. Hearing someone as they approach allows the PC or monster to attack forewarned, which gives a bonus of +20 to Initiative for one round only. Alternatively they could try to Hide, which is more difficult (test against Initiative + Cool – enemy’s Initiative) but allows them either to avoid combat or to attack with surprise from ambush.

Optimum tactics vary. There is safety in numbers, and the additional bonus that every character in the group gets a Listen roll. However, characters with Silent Move lose their advantage if they’re accompanied by people who don’t have this skill, so they might prefer to hunt alone.


There is a small stone building here, and in any encounter except with the chimera there is a 50% chance that the creature in question will be lurking in this building. Altan’s ship, the Wave Rider, is moored here. She sits calmly despite the swell on the water, being stabilized and propelled by magic. Altan can still activate the ship’s propulsive magic despite his scrambled wits. A player-character can also try, requiring a test against the average of Intelligence and Will Power. Each character only gets one attempt. The oni and the hag have already tried and failed, so they won’t be getting off the island that way.

The swathe of woodland across the middle of the island has quickly become the favourite haunt of the fungus man (WFRP: black cap). There is a hollow log clumped with mould in which it sometimes hides, first leaving a small jewel (taken from the tower) on a twig nearby to tempt any travellers. If encountered in the log (25% chance), the first the PC(s) involved will know is when a hideous, fungus-spattered skeletal hand whips out from inside the dank log.

An unremarkable brook, except that the barghest will not cross it even though it is only a few feet deep. The water is pure, crystal clear and very refreshing.

This is where the rakshah has chosen to hang out. Its peculiar way of getting about (rolling sideways on its five radial legs) is ideal for the sand and shingle, which will slow its possible prey but allow the creature to move normally.

Formerly Altan’s home, now the residence of Annis the Spit and her accomplice, the oni. The building consists of a long hall with kitchen and living-quarters off one end. At the other end, steps wind up to the tower itself (where Altan’s books and magical paraphernalia litter the desks and floors and several chambers) and the subterranean menagerie, where the various cages now stand empty. All of the cages are enchanted so that anyone inside is powerless to either escape or harm someone beyond the bars of the cage until it is opened from outside.

If encountered here, Annis will get the oni to adopt her form so that the party will be confronted by two hags rather than one. The oni flatly refuses to douse itself in the noxious brews Annis uses as “perfume”, however, so a successful test against Intelligence allows a character to tell them apart. Characters who melee the oni will realize immediately, of course, because it is a considerably more skilful fighter than Annis.

Altan used to have two gorilla-skeletons as servants, but the oni smashed them when it cleared the tower. Characters may find fragments of the two (Altan called them Bones and Napier) still crawling around the place trying to carry out their domestic tasks.

The following creatures are at large on the island. Unfortunately many of them are unfamiliar, with special strengths and weaknesses unknown to the PCs – and Altan is in no state to compile a list. Obviously some of these creatures are much tougher than others, so if the PCs split into groups you will need to assess experience points according to the dangers faced. A character who gains exceptional glory (bagging the chimera single-handed, for instance) will have quite a reputation once word gets around, and he should get a reward that reflects this (WFRP: and perhaps even a Fate Point).

ATT 24; DEF 11; strikes with 1-3 hoofs (d8+1,5) and victim is subject to enervation spell which may reduce him/her to 0 HP; AF 6 (3 v magic weapons); 30 HP; 6th rank sorcerer with 9 Magic Points; MAG ATT 20; MAG DEF 10; EV 8; move 15m (30m); STEALTH 8; PERCEPTION 12 (darksight); special abilities (usable only at night) – regenerates 1 Magic Point each round, can disguise itself as any animal or person, 20% chance of catching lightning- or fire-based attacks and sending them back at the caster, never affected by the same spell twice if cast by the same magic-user.

Appearance: A fierce, leonine face from which five legs grow radially, like the spokes of a wheel. This odd creature is usually a dark bronze colour, but tends to change in hue to blend in with its surroundings.
Special rules: A Rakshah attacks by rolling towards its victim and kicking him with three of its hoofs simultaneously. If it scores a critical hit, increase the value by +1. It also has a 20% chance of reflecting any fire- or lightning-spell back at the caster, and is never affected by the same spell twice.

ATT 22; DEF 16; strikes with sword (d8+1,5) or claws (d8,4 and energy-drain); AF 4; 21 HP; 6th rank mystic; MAG ATT 20; MAG DEF 13; EV 6; move 15m (25m), flying 50m; STEALTH 15 (+3 by day); PERCEPTION 8 (panoptical); special abilities: invisible in daylight (still casts a shadow), can disguise itself as any bipedal creature, automatic shock attack on characters up to 7th rank, breathes strong poison every 5 rounds (reduces victim’s Int by half), claws sap five experience points per blow.

Appearance: Oni vary in appearance. This one has a demonic horse head with huge, blood-red antlers. Its body is manlike, but with three clawed fingers on each hand. It wears a soiled tiger-skin loincloth, more to parody human clothing than out of any sense of modesty.
Special Rules: Breathes noxious gas every five rounds so that characters meleeing the oni must make a Poison test or permanently lose 1d10 x 4 from Initiative and Intelligence. Has 15 Magic Points and can cast all Petty Magic spells. Invisible in daylight, but still casts a shadow. Can change form to resemble any living, bipedal creature. In natural form causes fear in living creatures under ten feet tall

Annis the Spit (hag)
ATT 16; DEF 10; attacks with staff (d6,3); AF 3; 19 HP; 4th rank sorceress with 21 Magic Points; MAG ATT 18; MAG DEF 8; EV 4; move 10m (20m), flying 50m; STEALTH 13; PERCEPTION 13 (darksight); special abilities: gaze exerts a d8 fright attack which may strike her victim dumb, all characters fight her at -1, anyone striking her is subject to a disfigurement spell, anyone struck by her is exposed to the Black Death; special vulnerabilities: first rays of dawn will turn her to stone, she takes +1 damage from iron or steel weapons, loses all spellcasting powers if she eats salt; magic items: flying cauldron, love philtre, vial of smoke, evaporating potion, sands of slumber

Appearance: A hideous and obviously inhuman crone.
Psychological Traits: Like all hags, Annis is immune to psychological effects. She is mad, but has no disorders because madness is the normal state for a hag.
Special Rules: Annis is a 4th level spellcaster with 23 Magic Points and the following spells - all Petty Magic, Assault of Stones, Bewilder Foe, Cloud of Smoke, Cause Rain, Foul Air, Hedge of Thorns, Summon Swarm. Anyone striking her in combat is subject to a Curse spell (causing warts). Anyone she wounds is exposed to the Black Plague. Being in her presence causes a character to acquire 1 Insanity Point each minute from various factors including her crazed babbling, foul stench and horrible cackle.
Vulnerabilities: The first rays of dawn will turn her to stone. She takes +1 damage from iron or steel weapons. Eating salt causes her to lose all her Magic Points for a year and a day. Annis counts as a flammable target (she takes an extra 1D4 damage from fire-attacks) and if she is burned to death, all that will be left is a charred lump of rotten wood like a dead tree in the shape of a woman.
Magic Item: A flying cauldron in which she can travel through the night sky.

ATT 26; DEF 20; strikes with sword (d8+2,6) or fist (d6+1,5); AF 5 (and shield); 36 HP; EV 6; move 10m (20m); STEALTH 15; PERCEPTION 19 (panoptical); special ability: unaffected by direct-attack spells; item: enchanted sword (factored into stats) with spells of Havoc, Nemesis, Turncoat and Sigil of Destiny – one of these can be used per day.

Appearance: A warrior of bronze fashioned a century ago by the famous artificer, Bruno Praetor of Marienburg. It looks quaintly manlike with a sculpted doublet, perpetual frown, and elegantly-styled tin moustache.
Psychological Traits: The Automaton of Marienburg does not have a human mind and so is immune to psychological effects. It displays intelligent behaviour, but many philosophers say that it only has the semblance of true thought.
Special Rules: It is possible to deactivate the Automaton by pressing the button in the centre of its chest. This requires a normal hit followed with a test against Dexterity at -25%.

ATT 25; DEF 7; primary attack with claws (d12+1,7); secondary attack with bite (d8,7) or butt (d12,5); special attack: can breathe flux of rays (MAG ATT 25) three times a day up to 5m which can reduce one target to 1st rank for 1-16 rounds; AF 4; 31 HP; MAG DEF 14; EV 6; move 12m, flying 70m; STEALTH 8; PERCEPTION 9 (panoptical); special abilities: automatic surprise, can constrict up to two characters for 1d6 damage per round.

Special Notes: A smaller-than-average chimera, but still capable of causing fear in creatures under ten feet tall. Altan clipped its wings, so it cannot fly at the moment. Its three bite attacks are venomous (death in 1-3 rounds if victim fails a Poison test). The claws and tail-lash are not venomous.

Water Leaper
ATT 19; DEF 4; attacks by biting (d6+1,6) and teeth are poisonous; special attacks: can spit venom up to 5m with SPEED 12, can swallow opponent whole; AF 1; 40 HP; MAG DEF 11; EV 4; move 8m (12m), flying 30m; STEALTH 7; PERCEPTION 9 (darksight); special notes: shriek is a one-off killing attack (MAG ATT 20, turns victim’s bones to water), carrier of leprosy bacillus.

Appearance: A giant, limbless toad with a long tapering tail, looking something like a huge pallid-white tadpole. It lives in lakes or ponds and uses its tail to leap out at opponents, hence the name.
Special Rules: The water leaper has a shrill shriek which causes terror in anyone who hear it. Its bite is venomous, causing drowsiness on the first failed Poison test, and death on the second. It can also swallow an opponent whole; the character needs to test against Initiative to avoid this. Anyone swallowed is immediately subject to terror (naturally) and will be digested at the rate of 1d6 damage each round if not cut free. A swallowed character who does not panic will be able to cut his way out from inside as long as he has a suitable edged weapon. Anyone rescued from a Water Leaper’s belly acquires 1d6 Insanity Points.

Fungus Man (DW – for WFRP use Black Cap)
ATT 13; DEF 6; attacks with greatsword (d10,5); special attack: 10% chance each round of infecting melee opponent with spores, no immediate effect; AF 1 (3 v stabbing weapons); 24 HP; MAG DEF 6 (immune to control spells); EV 3; move 8m (15m); STEALTH 3; PERCEPTION 9 (panoptical); special ability: demoralizing whispers, opponent must fight at -2 ATT, -1 DEF if they fail to roll Psychic Talent or higher (sic) on 1d20.

Black Cap (WFRP – for DW use Fungus Man)
Appearance: A mouldering skeleton caked with fungus, slightly phosphorescent in darkness.
Psychological Traits: Like most undead, black caps are immune to psychology rules and cannot be forced to leave combat.
Special Rules: Black caps exude a cloud of sweet-smelling spores which expose anyone nearby to Tomb Rot. They cause fear in living beings. Anyone who hears their horrible whispering voices, eerily describing the delights of the grave, immediately acquires the necrophobia disorder.

Kappa septurion (DW – for WFRP use Gillman)
4th rank mystic; ATT 12; DEF 6; attacks with spear (2d4,4); AF 3; 11 HP; MAG ATT 17; MAG DEF 7; EV 3; move 10m (15m); STEALTH 11; PERCEPTION 4 (darksight).

Gillman (WFRP – for DW use Kappa)
Appearance: A powerfully muscled creature with glistening scales. Although humanoid in form, its gills, fin-lined limbs and bulbous eyes show that it actually evolved from fishes.
Psychological Traits: The gillman fears fire but otherwise has no identifiable emotions and exhibits no other psychological tendencies.

Bugbear (DW: aka Ire Goblin)
ATT 15; DEF 6; attacks with claws, ranging from (d6,3) to (d6+3,6), or thrown rocks (d3,2); AF 2 (but 0 v magical weapons); 9 HP initially; MAG DEF 4; EV 4; move 15m (30m); STEALTH 12; PERCEPTION 7 (darksight); special ability: swells in size, each round gaining +3 HP, +2 ATT, +1 Armour Bypass and +1 damage for three rounds, then shrinks back to normal size.

Appearance: A dwarfish figure with wrinkled pink skin, bullet shaped head and sharp fangs. Barely one metre tall, it is naked except for its oversized feet, which are entirely covered in thick curly fur.
Psychological Traits: Bugbears are subject to frenzy if wounded. Other than this they are immune to psychological effects.
Special Rules: If a bugbear becomes frenzied then it starts to swell in size. Each round it gains +5 WS, +1 S, and +1 T. This continues for four rounds (by which time it will be taller than a man) and then it suddenly “deflates” back to normal size.

ATT 20; DEF 6; attacks by biting (d8,6) and transmits faerie poison – character must roll Psychic Talent or less on 3d6 or die; special attack: bark weakens characters within 30m (like the spell) and counts as a 1d12 fright attack which may deplete Strength to 0 (Spell Expiry applies); AF 2; 18 HP; MAG DEF 15; EV 6; move 15m (30m); STEALTH 24; PERCEPTION 17 (panoptical); special abilities: always gets surprise, gaze can transfix (MAG ATT 22), takes half damage from nonmagical weapons unless made of solid silver.

Appearance: A large black dog with flaring green eyes.
Special Rules: Bite transmits a faerie venom which causes the victim’s hair to turn white if a Poison test is failed. Bark requires anyone hearing it to test against Will Power or lose a point of Strength (it only barks once in any encounter). Gaze is hypnotic: test against Will Power or become transfixed until wounded, shaken or otherwise brought round. Magical or solid silver weapons inflict an extra 1d6 damage on the barghest.

Even if the characters round up all the monsters, Altan will still be deprived of his former intellect. Sadly he returns to his tower, to fruitlessly spend his days trying to concentrate on his books in search of a cure. Players being what they are, they will probably shed few tears for him.

A berth on Captain Flint’s ship will take them south to Algandy – and beyond, into the Coradian Sea, if they wish. The fee is 250 Florins per character as far as Algandy, 500 Florins if they’re going all the way to the Ferromaine League. This allows the umpire to take up their adventure with the “Mungoda Gold” scenario in Dragon Warriors Book Six.

The adventure, while not featuring the more subtle elements of story and character, is an excellent opportunity for players to show their command of tactics. Hopefully they will come through it with the realization that a frontal assault is not always the best policy, and that it often pays to think before you fight.


  1. I'd probably modify the oni's poison effect to be something like "Permanent unless antidote is administered" with the antidote being something not easily acquired (Dragon feces, unicorn sperm, etc) that will require a secondary quest to obtain.

    For one thing, there's a decent chance of getting Altan, a powerful wizard as a contact/resource for the future. For another thing, there's a pretty decent chance that the oni will stupidify one of the PCs, who isn't going to like "sucks to be you, you're just dumb from now on."

    1. Good luck even finding a dragon in the lands of Legend. I think we might have encountered one once in about thirty years' campaigning, but I couldn't even swear to that. It was dark so we only heard it moving.

    2. IIRC, there were rumours of one at the bottom of the Gouge between Krarth and Kurland.... and of course there's always the King Under the Forest!

    3. Maybe I'll climb down there at the end of the year 1000...

  2. Well, there you go. A hard to get ingredient. Was your party actively looking for a dragon at the time or was it more like "Oh, shite. Whatever that is sound large and scary. Let's hide and hope it leaves."

    1. Looking for a dragon?! No, we weren't crazy! We just had to take a shortcut through the creepy forest one night. But yes, you're certainly right that it's always better to say "this terrible thing has happened to you but there could be a way to fix it" as that's the hook for a new adventure thread. I'm currently enjoying the Sagas of the Icelanders RPG because very often the result of trying to do something is "you succeed/fail BUT..."