Monday, August 8, 2011

RPG Blog Carnival: Animals in RPGs

The Tower of the Archmage is hosting an RPG blog carnival this month on the subject of animals in RPGs. David, the archmage in residence (for that is a good name for an archmage) poses the question:
How have you used animals in your games? Do your adventurers bring Dogs in the Dungeon? Have your space cowboys ever had to transport a herd of goats? Have your adventurers ever bought chickens or cows? Do Cardassian voles or mynocks ever muck-up the ship's engines? Does anyone keep a rat in their hood or an exotic fish in their office? Are the local crabs sacred and not for eating? Do you allow animal PC classes? Or do you even run entire games with nothing but animals?
Several post ideas immediately sprang to mind, so I decided to bust out my cotton candy machine and get in on this carnival.


Without further delay, I bring you my first post of Animals in RPGs


The Dreaded Giraffelich!
The idea of a giraffelich first popped up on Obsidian Portal's Facebook page. For those not hip to the lingo, the term combines the long-necked herbivore, known as a giraffe with an undead sorcerer of incredible power, commonly called a lich. Once the idea popped up, OP recognized it as roleplaying gold and decided to hold a competition to design the giraffelich. Contestants could create a picture and/or stat block for the creature and submit them to win fabulous prizes. I did just that and wound up taking second place in the stat contest with an honorable mention for my artwork.


I should note that the creature's backstory was largely the product of my lovely girlfriend's imagination.


You see what appears to be an emaciated giraffe. Its hide has turned a corpse-blue, and its soft, doey eyes have been replaced by glaring pin-points of malevolent arcane fire. The horns atop its head are bathed in a sickly green light and its body is adorned with bits of armor and magic trinkets taken from those who have previously crossed its path. Beware, for before you stands the dreaded giraffelich!
Origins
Legend has it that deep in the plains of the southern continent, rises a forbidding ring of mountains, surrounding a massive crater. In the center of the crater grows a thorn covered tree rumored to have risen from the corpse of a fallen god. The tree bears fruit that are said to impart tremendous knowledge and arcane power to anyone who eats them.
Centuries ago, a young adept embarked on a quest to gather the fruit of the tree. By eating it, he hoped to gain knowledge that would allow him to cure a terrible sickness that was plaguing his village. Knowing that the fruit of the great tree grew only on its topmost branches, he decided to bring along a giraffe to help him gather it.
When the boy reached the tree, he ordered the giraffe to fetch him a piece of fruit. However, the giraffe did not obey. When it plucked the fruit from the topmost branches of the tree, the giraffe gobbled it up and immediately began a horrible transformation.
The fruit twisted the giraffe under the horrible curse of undeath, binding its soul to the tree and granting the giraffelich, tremendous arcane powers. Awakened to its situation, the giraffelich slaughtered the young adept, determined to keep the power of the tree to itself.
To this day, the giraffelich has dwelled beneath the tree, building it’s arcane powers and eating of the tree’s fruit.
Becoming a Giraffelich
The fruit of the great tree is imbued with the residual power and knowledge of the god who fell to earth on that spot. It triggers a horrible transformation in any giraffe who eats of it. The creature is immediately elevated to sentience as it absorbs the energy and memories contained within. The giraffe’s soul becomes bound to the tree, which acts as a sort of natural phylactery for the giraffelich.
An awakened giraffelich is consumed by a malevolent hunger for arcane knowledge and power. It begins to manifest the ability to spontaneously manipulate arcane energies as a sorceror, and spends its time honing those skills in an effort to increase its power. (The example giraffelich above has gained six sorceror levels since its transformation.)
Combat
A giraffelich’s natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Anyone struck by a giraffelich makes contact with the chill of the grave taking 1d6 additional cold damage.
Fear Aura (Su): The giraffelich is shrouded in a dreadful aura of death and evil. Creatures of less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that look at the giraffelich must succeed on a Will save or be affected as though by a fear spell from a sorcerer of the giraffelich’s caster level. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same giraffelich’s aura for 24 hours.
Turn Resistance (Ex): A giraffelich gains +4 turn resistance.
Paralyzing Tongue (Su): The tongue of the giraffelich is permanently coated in the necrotic pulp of the fruit it has consumed. Any living creature a giraffelich touches with its tongue attack must succeed on a Fortitude save or be permanently paralyzed. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim. The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by a giraffelich seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.
Undead Traits: A giraffelich is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, magic sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. It is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to its physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. It cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if it is willing.
I have not actually had the chance to use the giraffelich in game, but I definitely have it on my to-do list. However, a friend of mine did incorporate my version into his game, apparently to good effect. 
Anyway, keep an eye out, as I plan to create more animal-related posts throughout the month. I like this blog carnival! I'm happy to be a part of it!
NOTE: The runes around the giraffelich's feet are written in the Angerthas font and read "I am an evil herbivore, I shall eat more leaves than I am supposed to so that other giraffes may die."

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