Horrors 0 comments on Stranger Things

Stranger Things

The Flea by adividerCC BY-NC-ND 3.0
The popularity of Netflix series Stranger Things has a lot to do with nostalgia for the kid-focused coming-of-age movies of the 80s, but also the sounds, sights, fashions, and that damned game Dungeons & Dragons.

The other fascination comes from the adventure potential of the Upside-Down and the creeping horror within – nicknamed the Demogorgon by the kids, but something else altogether.

The story progression of Stranger Things is not too far adrift of a Lovecraftian tale. A slow progression, with a brooding menace lurking; a group of outsiders with their own agenda at odds with the locals and with common sense; an investigation over a disappearance that starts out as a missing person case but slowly turns into something more sinister. And, a monster that only comes out for a slow reveal mid-way through and only comes face-to-face for a showdown toward the very end.

Here’s my stab at something akin to the creature itself for The Cthulhu Hack, lurking in the mirror world ready to strike.

WARNING! Spoilers. If you haven’t watched the Stranger Things through to the end, then this entry will contain spoilers of one form or another.

Demogorgon (10HD)

The Demogorgon has a body like some sickening collision between an athlete’s corpse and a bulky hunting dog, with a barrel chest, muscular limbs, and a hungry, animalistic gait – as comfortable on four legs as two. In place of a head, the Demogorgon has a pulpy, fleshy ‘bud’ that expands to reveal a fetid maw surrounded by four ‘petals’ of raw, slavering mouth flesh lined with rows of shark-like teeth.

The horror’s raking claws toy with prey like a cat tormenting a mouse, while it’s necrotizing spittle slowly diminishes a victim’s strength to resist. Eventually, a victim either dies and becomes the next meal or remains barely alive serving as a living incubator for the horror’s larvae.

The horror can exist in environments inimical to life, even poisonous clouds or completely submerged. It moves with stealthy, swift, padding steps when ahunt, using its short, muscular tail for both balance and an additional bludgeoning attack. Lacking eyes, if hunts with a keen sense of smell and a blood-sense akin to a shark.

Once in possession of prey, it can vanish in an instant, giving it time to enjoy the poor victim’s final moments – or make the still living prey incubator for a living, hungry larval young.

Actions and Specials
2 Claws (1d3), 1 Bite (2d4), 1 Tail (1d6); Mirror Strike – the Demogorgon always attacks in the first round of combat, unless surprised, with Advantage and +1 to all damage; Whispers – the hypnotic whisper of the Demogorgon means all opponents must Save vs WIS each round to avoid creeping paranoia, allowing the horror to attack with Advantage; Necrosis – the Demogorgon has a necrotic bite, Save vs CON or take d6 damage and lose 1 point of CON per round; Upside-Down – the Demogorgon can phase, or teleport, to a DISTANT location instead of defending itself and if it makes a successful attack on the same turn, it can elect to cause no damage and take the victim with it; Swallow – the gaping shark-toothed maw of the Demogorgon means that any natural roll of 20 to defend results in the horror half-swallowing the victim, inflicting 1d8 points of additional damage; Resistance – immune to poison, toxins, radiation, drowning, suffocation and pressure; Weakness – the Demogorgon takes double damage from fire.

[Smokes] The hunters sit brooding over their drinks, tight-lipped; but, gentle probing gets them to loosen up a bit. “Sometimes the forest can be a dark and unforgiving place and, in the wrong frame of mind, it can feel like you’re the hunted rather than the hunter. Last trip, down near the lake, I heard something slithering near the water side, something that stayed out of view; a shadow out of the eye’s corner, worrying the mind to distraction. The movement and sounds were enough to set a man afraid of everything; then we came across a fresh kill. Blood warm and thick, limbs still twitching. The utter horror on the animal’s lifeless, staring face… well, it can worry even a seasoned hunter like me.”

Horrors 0 comments on Beware the Jurrawarra

Beware the Jurrawarra

Read through Waste-Land Beasts and How to Kill Them and felt I had to post a variant of the Yowie, as the Australian variant of the classic Big Foot (or the Yeti) has so many names and faces according to which Aboriginal tribe sighted them. Looking at some of the Waste-Land monsters clearly triggered something.

Aboriginal myth helps no end. It makes for great reading in preparation for a session of Convicts & Cthulhu, simply as a taster of the native culture and the rich mythology. I’m reading through a great book of Aboriginal Myths, Legends and Fables, which I thoroughly recommend. Short tales, ideal for bedtime reading!

Jurrawarra (4HD)

Yowie from Tales of the Cryptids

Jurrawarra range larger than Yowie, with broader shoulders and a bounding step. They have short dark, almost black, hair with a patch of blood-red fur on their chests, like some gruesome bib. Tales suggest a pent-up aggression, coiled tight, focused firmly on those trespassing in their wide-ranging hunting territory.

Actions and Specials
Claws (1d6, 2 attacks), when struck by the Jurrawarra, STR Save or thrown Nearby and fall prone.

[Lamplight] Scattered marks show the passing of kangaroos through the loose trees, the prints deep in the loose soil. Then the ‘roo trails explode wide, as if suddenly panicked, and several trees show the marks and ruptures of splintering impacts, the bark sticky with blood and fur. Something attacked, hard; either battering the ‘roo against the trees like beating dust from a blanket, or throwing them, like a sack of swedes, into the trunks with immense strength.

Horrors, In Development, Releases 0 comments on Lean and Lulu

Lean and Lulu

Fernand0FC under Creative Commons
Fernand0FC under Creative Commons

All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment; I cannot be certain. But I heard them breathe…

Keeping busy here, with more work on The Haunter of the Dark for The Cthulhu Hack ongoing and ideas trickling in for Unaussprechlichen Kulten, which will provide options for expanding or swapping out features of the game, along with dozens of tables for random content.

In the meantime, you can find another article from Mark Chance, presenting his take on Flying Polyps, Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua, Ghouls, and the Hounds of Tindalos for The Cthulhu Hack.

And you can now get physical copies of the core Cthulhu Hack rules from the Just Crunch Lulu store.

Horrors, Session Reports 0 comments on Horrors and Derelicts

Horrors and Derelicts

horror-in-the-museumFollowing on from Mark Chance’s read through review of The Cthulhu Hack, he has now posted up four new Horrors For The Cthulhu Hack – the Chthonian, Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, Dimensional Shambler, and Fire Vampire.

I like the use of Improvised damage as the reduced harm to the essentially immaterial Fire Vampires from gear that smothers. Nice use of the available mechanics.

I also posted a brief overview of my first session of The Derelict, Chaosium’s special release for Free RPG Day, that you can now pick up as a physical book through Lulu.

Finally, I liked the use of old book covers in Mark’s horrors article – so, I recommend digging through a few old pulpy covers when coming up with ideas or imagery for your sessions. While some of the covers don’t exactly inspire, the more psychedelic efforts are great.