... now with 35% more arrogance!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hand of Wrath

Back when I posted about gargantuan menaces, Roger suggested I should write a "gargantuan monster manual", or at least some examples. I'm not so sure about that; they are very campaign or adventure-specific creatures, and the best publication format for them would be in modules, one monster per module. It takes a lot of work to come up with something like that, not so much because of the stats and mechanics (which, as I said, should be minimal,) but because of the need to establish a context. Who has heard about this menace? How do people feel about it? Has it struck in the past? What triggers an attack, and how often? If there is a specific weapon useful against it, what is the history behind it? Where is it now? Where are the clues to either the weapon's location or the monster's details? Any maps of these available? And what is currently living there? Etc.

I did have one idea several weeks ago that I thought I'd posted, but hadn't. It might serve as a seed to develop all those ideas.

Hand of Wrath (Chaotic Colossal Supernatural Menace)

1 unique creature; 15 dice per finger/palm, Move 3, Heavy Armor, crushes cities

An enormous hand, sometimes called "The Hand of God", that flattens entire cities. The span of the hand is 1 league across, and each of its five, clawed fingers is 400 yards in diameter. It is not known if the hand is disembodied, or attached to some enormous entity.

The Hand strikes, it is said, when the people of a city show great hubris, but there are also rumors about The Idol of Wrath, an artifact that can be activated with a ritual to summon the Hand of Wrath to punish the city where it stands.

The first warning of the coming of the Hand is the sun being blotted out by shadow at noon. In 1d6 hours, the Hand will reach its target; it will be visible as a hand when half that time has passed.
  • Riots/Looting: roll 1d6 for each 20% of the city's population; on 5+, that portion of the city panics.
  • Panicked Flight: one-third of the population that fails the previous check has Wisdom 13+ and will flee instead of riot. See Panic in the Year Zero for more information.
  • Beasts: Any animal able to flee will. Those being restrained may (5+) attack their master.
When the Hand strikes, each clawed finger will drive itself 1000 yards into the earth. Roll 1d12 for a clock direction. The thumb strikes the outskirts of the city at that location; the pinky digs into the ground on the exact opposite side of the city. There's a 50/50 chance that the index finger strikes 90 degrees clockwise from the thumb or 90 degrees counterclockwise; the other two fingers will be evenly spaced between the pinky and index finger.
  • Unlucky Victims: Anyone moving through one of these five areas at the time of the strike must roll to avoid being in the area at the wrong moment (5+ on 1d6 to escape for Move 3 characters; +1 to roll for each doubling of speed.) Those who are unable to escape are completely pulverized.
  • Structural Damage: Any building beneath a finger when it strikes is destroyed. Adjacent buildings collapse on 5+; it takes 1d6 turns for any given building to collapse, so use this to gauge escapes.
  • General Populace: Roll another morale check for each 20% of the remaining population in the city; those that make it continue to riot, flee, or act sanely, but on 5+, that segment of the populace faints or stands paralyzed.
People can attack a finger, or in rare cases the palm itself. (The stat line lists "Heavy Armor", but really, no attack roll is necessary in typical circumstances; just roll damage.) The Hand cannot be killed, nor can the fingers be severed, but 15 dice of damage to one finger triggers a d6 roll to see if the hand hesitates; each injured finger or palm adds +1 to the roll. After the Hand hesitates, it will retreat in 1d6 hours. During the retreat, make another d6 roll for each 20% of the remaining population that is currently paralyzed or panicked; on 5+, that group calms down. Paralyzed people recover completely when the Hand is completely gone, but those rioting have to make a final roll; some people take the end of the world as a permanent license to pillage.

Magic that banishes or drives away supernatural entities may work. Treat the Hand as a 30 HD monster for most purposes. Low-level spells like Protection from Evil have no effect.

If the Hand is not driven away, 2d6 turns after it strikes, it will begin to contract its grip, digging its fingers under the city's foundation.
  • All buildings except those within 300 yards of the center will automatically collapse.
  • Those in the center collapse on 5+ (1d6).
  • Anyone in a collapsing building has 1d6 turns to escape, but those in the center of the city can't escape the Hand itself without unusual methods.
At the end of the contraction, the Hand will rip the city from the earth and return whence it came.

If the Hand was summoned by the Idol of Wrath and is thwarted in its goal, it will try again in 2d6 days. If the Idol is moved, it will strike the new target. If the Hand has been triggered by hubris, it's on a general apocalyptic rampage: on 5+ (1d6) it will strike again, either the same city (if thwarted) or a new location in a random direction.

One of the clever ways to halt the End Times rampage would be to sacrifice the worst city in the world to the Hand. I leave it to players to figure out a way to do this.

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