Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Their Name is Legion: Team Tsathogga move into the monster-making business

One day, long after the adventures of Team Tsathogga have been forgotten, a dusty case in some as-yet-unbuilt museum on their world will preserve as its most prized possession a human skull, stained with old blood and enscribed with ancient runes, with a severed and mummified human hand folded inside its cranium. A nearby plaque will inform the curious that the engraved skull is that of Anthrax the Destroyer, and that the hand once belonged to his killer, Judacus the Betrayer, and that the relics of these legendary heroes of the ancient world must never be parted, lest doom and destruction fall upon all nearby.

It will all be lies.

The relics are fakes.

There were no such people as Anthrax the Destroyer or Judacus the Betrayer.

Team Tsathogga made the whole thing up as part of a demented plan to steal a magic bomb.

* * *

I don't even know where to start describing what Team Tsathogga have been up to since they left Qelong. The whole 'Anthrax and Judacus' scenario was so bizarre and convoluted and ultimately pointless that I'm really not sure I can do it justice. The short version is that they created a fake relic, complete with a fake legend and a fake haunting, as part of an over-complicated plan to gain access to a sealed laboratory and steal an orb full of evil magic: exactly what they would do with this orb once they had it was never really settled, although some of the PCs tapped into their inner Bond villains and suggested using it to hold a city to ransom for ONE MILLION GOLD PIECES. However, their efforts led the sorcerer who owned the orb to call in his mercenary soldiers to defend it, leaving his half-built castle nearly undefended: so the PCs promptly gave up on the whole 'fake haunting' plot, rode off to the castle, and stole all his castle-building money instead. Then they ran away.

Knowing that the mercenaries would be hunting for them, the PCs fled to the one place they knew they would never be followed: the goblin warrens beneath Bright Meadows, whose inhabitants worshipped Circe as the prophet of the Frog God. On her last visit to the warrens, Circe had ordered the goblins to start breeding maggots, with the vague intention of using them as a living weapon against the Science Fungoids: her reasoning was that maggots ate both mushrooms and dead flesh, so they would probably be eager to devour the spore zombies of the Fungoids. In the intervening year, the Maggot Trench in the goblin warrens had grown to monstrous proportions: and when they heard from their friends among the toad-folk that the Science Fungoids had become more oppressive than ever as their mysterious 'great project' neared completion, the PCs decided it was time to put their maggot-based war machine into action. All would be well, they reassured the toad-folk. They had a terrible bioweapon on their side, which would devour the minions of the Science Fungoids. It had many mouths. It was always hungry. Its name was Legion.

It was a trench full of maggots.

Quite aside from the rather underwhelming nature of their 'secret weapon', there were serious logistical problems involved in deploying it. The Toad Folk and the Science Fungoids were separated from the goblin warrens by a miles-wide underground lake: how could the maggot swarm be carried across? Once they were over the water, how could they be herded in the right direction, through miles of tunnels, into the mushroom forests of the Science Fungoids? A delivery system was needed. And, after some careful thought, the PCs found one.

Their logic went like this: Preserve Corpse spells obviously prevented corpses from being eaten by insects, otherwise there would soon be nothing left of them. So preserved, animated zombies could be hollowed out and filled with maggots, safe in the knowledge that they would not be eaten by their passengers. The goblins ate their dead, which meant they didn't have a supply of corpses to hand, but the nearby spawning grounds of the vampire toads offered more promising pickings: the needle-fanged vampire toads sacred to Tsathogga simply drank the blood of those who perished, rather than consuming their flesh, and the presence of those same vampire toads meant that other would-be scavengers had a hard time getting access to the bodies of the dead. With the aid of the goblins, the PCs retrieved the waterlogged bodies of dozens of large vampire toads, dried them out, cast Preserve Corpse on them, and had their necromancer buddy Titus animate them as zombies. Then they filled them with as many maggots as they could contain and commanded them to swim across the lake, ready to engage the forces of the Science Fungoids, with orders to vomit maggots onto every fungus-creature or spore-zombie that came within range. Thus reinforced, the PCs set off for the mushroom forests, keen to put their new weapons technology to the test.

And thus Team Tsathogga more-or-less accidentally invented the giant projectile maggot vomiting zombie vampire toad. And the world was never the same again.

Image result for zombie toad

  • Giant Projectile Maggot Vomiting Zombie Vampire Toad: AC 10, HD 1-1, saves 15. Attacks: 1 bite (1d6 plus blood drain: instead of making new attacks, the toad hangs on for an extra 1d4 damage per round until it or its victim dies) or 1 projectile-vomit (save or be covered in ravenous maggots, -1 to all rolls and 1 damage per minute until maggots are somehow removed). Each toad contains enough maggots to vomit once. If a toad which still contains maggots is killed by a melee attack with a heavy weapon (maces, greatswords, anything liable to make it pop), its killer must immediately save or be covered with maggots, as per its vomit attack, as the toad explodes in a giant maggot-burst.

Their name is Legion. 


  1. I love these convoluted plans and their results

    1. It's what D&D is best at. Working together to tactically combine your powers in order to kill a bunch of monsters? Wargames, video games, and board games can all do that better than D&D can. But accidentally inventing maggot-vomiting toad vampires? Only in RPGs!

  2. Team Tsagothogga sound like a joy to play with, as they all sound completely mad.

    1. It's less madness than a very peculiar form of rationality. Most of their weirdest plans start off with something logical, and get crazier and crazier as they pursue that logic to stranger and stranger places...

  3. Replies
    1. You'd have been proud of them, Scrap. Especially when they started using Speak With Animals spells to try to indoctrinate the maggots.

  4. Hello Joseph, just one short question.

    I checked out the original four classes you wrote up, but from the play reports it seems You use some other system. (eg. you wrote about charm person and caster balance, but You didn't write a spellcaster class)
    Would you share the system you use? Thanks!


    (great blog BTW!)

    1. The Team Tsathogga game doesn't use the Wicked City rules or setting: it's a knockabout science-fantasy game using a modified version of the LOTFP rules. I started writing the blog as a substitute for gaming, at a time when work and childcare made it difficult to assemble a group; and when I did get a new group together, 'romantic fantasy adventures in early modern Central Asia' didn't quite seem like the right place to start with a group of players new to D&D...

      So it's basically LOTFP with some minor changes. Fighters get extra hit points and to-hit bonuses, plus a damage bonus every three levels. Clerics and magic-users get spells. Elves get darkvision, half the spells of an MU and to-hit bonuses to ranged attacks only. Thieves / specialists don't exist. Saves are FORT, REF, and WILL. Everything else is pretty much what you'd expect.

  5. Thanks a lot for the reply Joseph!

    I toyed with the idea of not allowing thieves for a long time, but didn't make the step yet. The archetype in fiction, while usually named a thief or assassin, is usually a fighter in light armor (with parkeour stuff on occasion, like the Mouser), rather then a classic burglar. So the class generally adds more problems then fun into my games.

    New Players:
    I introduce new players regularly, and what I found is that cleric's players are sometimes overwhelmed by spell choices. I generally create lists of 10-12 spells, cherry picked to match the portfolio of the selected god. (if they would prefer a not-yet-considered god, then fine, I usually create a list like that in a few minutes)

    An other thing about new groups. My regular group is friends+wife, but for the youngsters, all effort to run a classic game would be a waste of time.
    They don't know who Elric&Corum, Mouser&Faf, Solomon Kane&Kull, Croaker&Goblin is. (generational gap I think, because on the other hand, I am quite clueless about Witcher, World of Warcraft and such. Last game everybody had a good laugh about an arrow to the knee (except for me...).
    I guess generic fantasy with some weird added is much easier to GM nowadays then a campaign in the Young Kingdoms or Hyboria.