Tuesday, December 18, 2018

GFA18 - Sabretooth Cougar

My fourth mountain lion variation for the 2018 Gongfarmer's Almanac is the sabretooth cougar. The biggest changes to my basic mountain lion template is that the sabretooth is giant, so I decided to take advantage of the DCC rules for turning it into a giant. It gets an extra Hit Dice and its die-size goes up by +1d on the dice-chain. Its claw attack goes up by +1d damage, and its bite attack goes up by +2d (because, c'mon it has sabre-teeth). Like other giants, it gets a d24 Action Dice, crits on rolls of 20 or higher, and uses the Giants' crit table. 
   
I think I'm probably espousing a general philosophy of how to treat dinosaurs and megafauna by writing this. I'm definitely advocating that other DCC authors follow my lead and add a Crit entry to the end of the standard stat-block. Most of the time, it just saves having to cross-reference your monster entry against that table of crits by monster type and HD. Sometimes though, like this, having the entry come standard makes it easier to show that a monster has an unusual crit. Danny Prescott edited the entire mountain lion series, and he provided the art for this entry.
 
Art by Danny Prescott
   
Sabretooth cougar: Init +3; Atk claw +4 melee (1d6+1) or bite +6 melee (1d10+2); AC 16; HD 4d10; MV 40' or climb 20'; Act 1d24; SP pounce, crit on 20+; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N; Crit G/d4.
 
The sabretooth cougar is megafauna from an earlier era. It stands a foot taller and a foot longer than other mountain lions with orange fur and a tawny belly. Its most notable features are its namesake foot-long fangs, which give it a vicious bite.
 
If the sabretooth cougar makes the first attack of combat it will pounce; otherwise it attacks normally. Thereafter, it will alternate attacks between claw and bite, pouncing when possible.
 
Pounce: The sabretooth cougar can pounce to gain an extra d24 attack die and attack that round with both claw and bite. The sabretooth cougar can only pounce if it surprises its victims, attacks first due to initiative, or has taken no damage since its previous attack.
 
Giant crit: The sabretooth cougar uses d24 action dice to attack, and crits on any roll of 20+. Its crits roll 1d4 on the giant crit table.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

GFA18 - Mountain Lion Cougar

The third mountain lion variation in my series for the 2018 Gongfarmer's Almanac is the mountain-lion cougar, which is the baseline monster I altered to make all the other variations. It's the simplest and probably the easiest to fight.
   
Danny Prescott edited all the entries in this series. Clayton Williams provided the art for this one. Somehow the black bands on this cougar make me think of an 80s workout music video.
 
Art by Clayton Williams.
 
Mountain-lion cougar: Init +1; Atk claw +2 melee (1d4) or bite +3 melee (1d6); AC 13; HD 3d8; MV 40' or climb 20'; Act 1d20; SP pounce; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N; Crit M/d8.
 
Mountain-lion cougars look like giant house cats, standing 3' tall at the shoulder and measure 7' from nose to tail. They have short tawny fur that turns white around their mouths and down their bellies. Their ears and nose are outlined in black, as are their paws and the tips of their tails.
 
If the mountain-lion cougar makes the first attack of combat, it will pounce; otherwise it attacks normally. Thereafter, it will alternate attacks between claw and bite, pouncing when possible.
 
Pounce: The mountain-lion cougar can pounce to gain an extra d20 attack die and attack that round with both a claw and bite. The mountain-lion cougar can only pounce if it surprises its victims, attacks first due to initiative, or has taken no damage since its previous attack.

Monday, December 10, 2018

GFA18 - Cactus Cougar

My second mountain lion variation for the 2018 Gongfarmer's Almanac is the cactus cougar. Like the ball-tailed cougar, this is a semi-naturalistic take on an American folkloric creature. My idea to give these monsters pre-programmed attack strategies is a little bit easier to see in this one. If it attacks first in the first round of combat, it starts with the drunkard's wail, otherwise it starts with body slam, then bites, then wails, etc. If it gets the chance to pounce, it will just do whichever two attacks come next in the programmed order.
   
The cactus cougar is also the first example of the "wail" attack I thought of. Like a dragon's breath, "wails" hit their targets automatically, but you get some kind of defensive roll to protect yourself. Except instead of a saving throw, you get to use DCC's Luck roll mechanic, which is basically "roll under your Luck score or bad things happen to you." In this case, I wanted more outcomes, adding something like a critical success and something like a critical failure. I initially thought about having them turn up on rolls of 1 or 20, but I decided that I wanted them to occur a bit more often, and I wanted to differentiate them a bit from DCC's official "crits" and "fumbles." Note that any character with a Luck score 2 or higher can potentially get the best outcome, but ONLY characters with Luck 9 or lower can get the worst - at Luck 10 and above, it's simply not possible to roll more than twice your Luck score (unless something forces you to roll a d24 instead of a d20, I guess). 
   
Danny Prescott edited this piece and the others in this series. Again, I want to point out how invaluable his help was in making sure my instructions for pouncing would make sense to people who aren't me. Clayton Williams did the art for this one.
 
Art by Clayton Williams 
 
Cactus cougar: Init +1; Atk bodyslam +3 melee (1d6 + spikes) or bite +2 melee (1d6) or wail (special); AC 16; HD 3d8; MV 40' or 20' climb; Act 1d20; SP pounce, spikes, drunkard's wail; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N; Crit M/d8.
 
The cactus cougar has green tinged fur and six-inch quills growing at intervals across its body. Although as agile as any other mountain lion, it has a clumsy, staggering walk and a distended belly.
 
If the cactus cougar makes the first attack of combat it will use its drunkard's wail; otherwise it attacks normally. Thereafter, it will alternate attacks as follows: bodyslam, bite, and wail, pouncing when possible. If the cactus cougar puts every living opponent to sleep it will eat the sleeping target with the lowest Luck score then return to its den.
 
Pounce: The cactus cougar can pounce to gain an extra d20 attack die that round and attack with any two different options, i.e. body-slam and bite, bite and wail, or wail and body-slam. The cactus cougar can only pounce if it surprises its victims, attacks first due to initiative, or has taken no damage since its previous attack.
 
Spikes: A target hit by the cactus cougar's bodyslam, or who deals melee damage to it, is stabbed by several of its spikes. The target makes a DC 13 Fort save against poison. Upon success they take 1 damage; otherwise they take 1d4 damage and will be affected the next time the cactus cougar wails.
 
Drunkard's wail: The cactus cougar caterwauls like a drunkard singing on the walk home. Affected targets each roll Luck checks to determine how they are affected. If the cactus cougar wails during the first round of combat it affects the target who drank alcohol most recently, otherwise its wail affects all targets who failed their poison save since the last time it wailed:
  • Half Luck score or lower -The water in the target’s canteen becomes very fine mescal or tequila.
  • Luck score or lower - The target is drunk, and has a terrible hangover in the morning.
  • Higher than Luck score - The target falls asleep, and for 1 hour cannot be woken except by taking damage.
  • Higher than double Luck score - The target falls asleep, and for 8 hours cannot be woken except by magic.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

GFA18 - Ball Tailed Couger

This 2018 Gongfarmer's Almanac piece is the first in a series of mountain lion variations. I started with a base monster, and then for each variation, tried to come up with a couple really basic ways that it would be different. The ball-tailed cougar, my naturalistic variation on the folkloric ball-tailed cat, is relatively simple. I decided that DCC's dwarven shield-bash mechanic would work pretty well for the tail-slap attack, so that d14 Action Die listed below is dedicated to only be use for tail-slapping.
  
Danny Prescott edited this series, and he volunteered art for this entry. He was a huge help in making sure the text related to the "pounce" ability made sense. His suggestions made my writing much clearer. I wanted to try out something where each of the mountain lions has a very predictable series of attacks, and a special ability that gives them an extra attack under certain circumstances. The predictable attacks potentially allow the players to strategize how to best to fight these things. In particular, preventing the cougar from winning initiative or going an entire round without taking damage makes it MUCH easier to defeat by denying it the chance to use its pounce ability.
  
Having a predictable order of attacks is also supposed to take some weight off the referee. I'm much more comfortable in the role of "neutral arbiter" than I am in the role of "adversary trying to kill your characters" so having pre-ordained tactics makes it easier for me to run the fight without either feeling uncomfortable about being "too hard" on my players or feeling as though I'm improperly pulling my punches. (Demanding that the claw attack be used every other round also solves a head-scratcher on many monster sheets, which is that if the judge is choosing which attacks to use, why would you ever use the claw attack when the bite attack is clearly better? In this case, you do so because the instructions say that's how this animal behaves.) Pre-programmed tactics can also potentially make different monsters FEEL different by making them do different things, even if their stats are pretty much the same. Programmed tactics might be better for animals than for intelligent opponents, although I also like the "video-game boss monster" feel that you get from knowing that your adversary is running through a set list of moves.
  
Art by Danny Prescott
  
Ball-tailed cougar: Init +1; Atk claw +2 melee (1d4) or bite +3 melee (1d6) or tail-slap +2 melee (1d6); AC 13; HD 3d8; MV 40' or climb 20'; Act 1d20 + 1d14; SP pounce, tail-slap; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N; Crit M/d8.
  
The ball-tailed cougar has a double-long tail that ends in a rounded club like an ankylosaurus or manticore.
  
If the ball-tailed cougar makes the first attack of combat, it will pounce; otherwise it attacks normally. Thereafter, it will alternate attacks between claw and tail-slap and bite and tail-slap, pouncing when possible.
  
Pounce: The ball-tailed cougar can pounce to gain an extra d20 attack die that round to attack with both its claws and bite. The ball-tailed cougar can only pounce if it surprises its victims, attacks first due to initiative, or has taken no damage since its previous attack.
  
Tail-slap: Each round, the ball-tailed cougar can make an attack with its tail using a d14 attack die.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

GFA18 - Mountain Lion Varieties & Signs

My next batch of Gongfarmer's Almanac 2018 pieces are a series of related monsters for Weird West adventures in DCC. My initial inspiration for these was the Pokemon variations meme of drawing multiple versions of the same Pokemon in a way that resembles natural genetic variation. So this is my attempt to create slightly naturalistic monsters out of some famous "fearsome critters" of American folklore. Danny Prescott edited this batch of entries.

  
Travelers in the western half of North America know to fear the mountain lions that stalk the rocky Cordillera region from British Columbia down to Jalisco, and are even found occasionally back East. Mountain lions are solitary predators who follow their prey for some time and often surprise unwary victims. Mountain lions look like giant house cats, standing 3' tall at the shoulder and measure 7' from nose to tail. They have short tawny fur that turns white around their mouths and down their bellies. Their ears and nose are outlined in black, as are their paws and the tips of their tails.

If PCs encounter a mountain lion, roll 1d6 to determine the type: (1) ball-tailed cougar; (2) cactus cougar; (3) mountain-lion cougar; (4) sabretooth cougar; (5) wampus cougar; (6) were-cougar.

If the characters all stop attacking and throw down all their rations, kill an animal or person for the lion to eat, or allow the lion to eat someone who has already died, any mountain lion will take its meal and retreat to its den immediately.
 
  
Signs: Some characters are skilled trackers and can discover the presence of wilderness creatures before they're encountered. Judges may allow their players to encounter clues about the identity of local monsters before encountering them directly. Use the portents below if players are potentially likely to encounter a mountain lion. A character hearing a distant wail as a sign of a nearby lion will be the first character targeted by the wail during combat. I recommend playing Ratatat's "Wildcat" quietly on repeat from the time the characters encounter a sign (or roll initiative for combat) until the end of the encounter.
  
Ball-tailed cougar: The PC hears a sound like a child bouncing a ball, over and over and over.
  
Cactus cougar: The PC smells tequila in the wind and hears caterwauling like a drunkard singing on the walk home. The character who drank alcohol most recently is now drunk again and can feel the hangover coming already.
  
Mountain-lion cougar: The PC smells ammonia in the wind, and for a moment everything goes silent as the birds stop singing and insects quit their buzzing. After a short period the natural sounds resume.
  
Sabretooth cougar: The PC feels a sudden chill in the air, like breeze blowing in off a glacier, and hears what sounds like distant thunder.
  
Wampus cougar: A cloud crosses the sun and throws the PC into shadow. The PC hears a caterwaul like a mother's cry for lost children. The character with the lowest Luck and lowest hit points faints and immediately comes to after losing 1 hit point.
  
Were-cougar: The PC hears a woman singing. He can't make out the words, but it sounds like a lonely woman singing about her cat. The male character with the highest Personality and highest Luck is sure the singer is the most beautiful woman in the world.