Cortex Fridays: Runepriest, Druid, Umber Hulk, and Basilisk

Welcome to the first Cortex Fridays post! Last Saturday I said that I’d start making Cortex Prime versions of the fantasy adventurers and monsters on this blog. I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to organize things, but for the time being I’m going to try and post two adventurers and two monsters every Friday: one of each will be from an older post, and the other will be from the current week. That’ll allow the Cortex Prime content to eventually catch up with the Fate Accelerated content, at which point each Cortex Friday post will just be that week’s monster and adventurer. So let’s get started!


Dwarven Runepriest

Dwarf_Runepriest

Distinctions:

  • Cautious Dwarven Runepriest
  • By the Will of the Forgelord
  • Solid As Stone

Approaches:

  • Careful d10
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d8
  • Forceful d8
  • Quick d6
  • Sneaky d4

Roles:

  • Holy One d10
  • Mage d6
  • Scoundrel d4
  • Warrior d8

Note: For both Approaches and Roles, a d10 may be split into either 2d8 or 3d6, and a d8 may be split into 2d6.

Specialties:

  • Smithing (Warrior) d6
  • Stonecraft (Mage) d6

Note: Specialties may only be included in a dice pool when the listed Role die is also included, unless the player spends a plot point.

Signature Assets:

  • Dwarven-forged Heavy Plate Armor d8
  • Rune-scribed Heavy Warhammer d6

Stunts:

  • Defensive Fighter: Because I fight defensively, if I include Careful in my dice pool and achieve a heroic success when defending against a physical attack, I may turn my effect die into a Wide Open complication attached to my opponent.
  • Unrelenting: Because I am relentless in my advance, whenever a trap or
    opponent attempts to create a complication hindering my mobility, such as
    Slowed or Net Trap, I may step up my Forceful die when opposing.
  • Wards and Sigils: Because I can scribe runes of protection, I may double my Careful die whenever I create or step up assets on myself or my companions representing magical defense or shielding.

Vigilant Minotaur Druid

Minotaur_Druid

Distinctions:

  • I Must Halt Civilization’s Advance
  • Hurloon Tribe Stone-Caller
  • Ridiculously Bull-Headed

Approaches:

  • Careful d10
  • Clever d8
  • Flashy d6
  • Forceful d8
  • Quick d6
  • Sneaky d4

Roles:

  • Holy One d10
  • Mage d6
  • Scoundrel d4
  • Warrior d8

Note: For both Approaches and Roles, a d10 may be split into either 2d8 or 3d6, and a d8 may be split into 2d6.

Specialties:

  • Astrology (Holy One) d6
  • Earth Magic (Holy One) d6
  • Stonecraft (Mage) d6

Note: Specialties may only be included in a dice pool when the listed Role die is also included, unless the player spends a plot point.

Signature Assets:

  • Ironbark Quarterstaff d6
  • Ironbark Buckler d6

Stunts:

  • Burden of Stone: Because my counterstrikes magically weigh down my opponents, whenever I succeed in defending against a physical attack and included Careful in my dice pool, I may convert my opponent’s effect die into a Weighed Down stunt asset.
  • Hymns of the Earth: Because I can raise spires of rock from the ground with my song, I add a d6 and step up my effect die by +1 when including Clever in my dice pool to create or step up assets related to rough, impassible or hazardous rocky terrain in my or an adjacent zone.
  • Thunderhoof Charge: Because I hit with the strength of an avalanche after building up momentum, I may double my Forceful die to attack with my horns as long as I moved at least one zone before attacking.

OK. I hadn’t really meant to put notes on these entries, as four characters makes the post pretty long already. But I feel the need to clarify that I’m still feeling things out with the Cortex Prime versions of the monsters. Major NPCs are meant to be built with the same pieces as PCs (distinctions, attributes, skills, and signature assets/specialties if you’re using the “standard” Cortex Prime pieces). But I’m using approaches and roles for the heroes, rather than attributes and skills. It makes sense for the monsters to have approaches, but unless they’re intelligent, the holy one / mage / scoundrel / warrior roles that PCs have don’t really fit.

But as major NPCs should have similar number of “dice buckets” to the PCs,  I suppose I could use behaviors instead of roles. Something like brute / controller / lurker / reviver, to help reinforce how the monster acts. Does it wade heedlessly into battle? That’s brute. Does it toss out effects that make things more difficult for the heroes to deal with? Controller. Hang back and harry the PCs directly but run from a fair fight? Lurker. Reinforce its monstrous allies rather than directly engaging the heroes? Reviver. (MMOs aren’t really to my tastes, but you can see I’m borrowing some of their terminology here.) I think that sounds pretty good, so let’s go with that for now.


Umber Hulk (Major NPC):

Umber_Hulk

Distinctions:

  • Large Gorilla-Beetle Hybrid
  • I Must Gorge on Humanoid Meat
  • Subterranean Juggernaut

Approaches:

  • Careful d4
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d4
  • Forceful d12
  • Quick d8
  • Sneaky d8

Roles:

  • Brute d10
  • Controller d8
  • Lurker d4
  • Reviver d6

Specialties:

  • Burrowing (Forceful) d6

Signature Assets:

  • Steel-Hard Chitin Plates d8
  • Super Sensitive Antenna d8

Stunts:

  • UMBER HULK SMASH!: Because I am an insectile engine of destruction, I may double my Forceful die when attempting to overcome physical obstacles that can be smashed through.
  • Sharp Digging Claws: Because I have claws sharp enough to burrow through solid stone, I add a d6 to my pool and step back the highest die in my pool by one when making an attack. If the attack is successful, I step up my effect die by one.
  • Mind Scrambler: Because I have a hypnotic gaze, I may double my Sneaky die whenever I create or step up a complication representing my mind scrambling effects, such as Confused, Dazed, or Hypnotized.

Scale:

The Umber Hulk is a Large creature (weight 2). It adds a d8 scale die to its dice pool and keeps a third die in its total when acting against opponents that weigh less than it does. Two Medium creatures (each weight 1) or four Small creatures (each weight 1/2) must engage the Umber Hulk at once to negate the scale die bonus.


Stone-Eyed Basilisk (Major NPC):

Basilisk

Distinctions:

  • Medium Magical Lizard
  • I Must Add To My Den’s Statuary
  • Incredibly Slow Metabolism

Approaches:

  • Careful d8
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d6
  • Forceful d10
  • Quick d4
  • Sneaky d8

Roles:

  • Brute d4
  • Controller d6
  • Lurker d8
  • Reviver d4

Specialties:

  • Lying in Wait (Sneaky) d6
  • Extremely Robust Digestive System (Forceful) d6

Stunts:

  • Cunning Ambush Predator: Because I attack from ambush, whenever I include both my Sneaky die and an asset related to concealment, such as Buried, Disguised, or Hidden in my dice pool on an attack, I keep a third die for my total.
  • Paralyzing Gaze: Because I can turn creatures to stone by locking eyes with them, I can include my Forceful die in a roll to create a Slowly Petrifying complication on an opponent at any distance, as long as we can both see each other. In addition to creating the complication, a success begins the Stone Curse effect for that character (see below).

The Stone Curse

At the beginning of the basilisk’s turn, each Slowly Petrifying complication automatically steps up. If it would step up past a d12, the character is taken out of the scene and the complication becomes Totally Petrified d12.


The character and monster illustration are the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

Cortex Fridays: Runepriest, Druid, Umber Hulk, and Basilisk

Monday Monsters: Basilisk

The basilisk is another awesome paper mini made by Printable Heroes, and I felt compelled to stat it up for Fate Accelerated Edition. (Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Kobolds won the poll I ran on Twitter back in October of 2017. You’ll be seeing them soon.) It’s a classic monster that has a really nasty ability: turning opponents to stone.

As the monster itself isn’t that dangerous in a fair fight, making it a Hitter seemed appropriate. Hitters are types of enemy introduced in the the Fate Adversary Toolkit. Unlike threats, hitters can dish out a lot of damage under the right circumstances, but they aren’t that durable. They’re easily dealt with, relatively speaking, once the players discover what their trick is. That works really well for the basilisk, as they’re slow and lazy, preferring to attack foes from ambush whenever possible. Their petrifying gaze is also easily avoidable (by averting your eyes or using a mirror), but can be deadly if the players/characters aren’t prepared for it.

I made the basilisk a fair hitter, setting its lead approach at Great (+4), one step above the lead approaches of the adventurers on this site as I intend for them to be used together. I made Forceful its best approach, as the basilisk’s gaze attack is sort of “force of will” effect, and Quick its worst approach, reinforcing that it’s rather slow. To highlight its ambush attacks, I reused a stunt from the Juvenile Black Dragon and just gave it a different name. Cunning Ambush Predator deals two additional stress on a successful Sneaky attack if the basilisk has an “concealing” aspect attached to it. That encourages the GM to have the monster set up an attack first by creating an an aspect like Hidden, then really laying the hurt on a character.

Coming up with the petrification effect was a bit harder, but still fun. In Dungeons & Dragons (and similar games), a player whose character has been affected by the gaze attack has to fail a number of dice rolls before they’re completely turned into stone. That seemed like a perfect place to use a countdown, again from the Fate Adversary Toolkit. The Stone Curse countdown starts when the basilisk successfully sticks a Slowly Petrifying aspect onto a creature. I felt being partially petrified should have an effect on a character, which of course means it needed to be an aspect. That allows it to be invoked and compelled, giving mechanical weight (ha!) to a character slowly turning into a statue.

Basilisk


Stone-Eyed Basilisk

High Concept: Medium Magical Lizard
Motivation: I Must Add To My Den’s Statuary
Aspect: Extremely Robust Digestive System
Aspect: Incredibly Slow Metabolism

Approaches:

  • Careful: Good (+3)
  • Clever: Fair (+2)
  • Flashy: Fair (+2)
  • Forceful: Great (+4)
  • Quick: Average (+1)
  • Sneaky: Good (+3)

Stunts:

  • Cunning Ambush Predator: Because I attack from ambush, I deal +2 stress on a tied or better Sneaky attack while benefiting from an aspect related to concealment, such as Buried, Disguised, or Hidden. (I won’t get a boost on a tied attack this way.)
  • Paralyzing Gaze: Because I can turn creatures to stone by locking eyes with them, I can attempt to Forcefully create a Slowly Petrifying aspect on an opponent at any distance, as long as we can both see each other. In addition to creating the aspect, a success begins the Stone Curse countdown for that character (see below).

Weight: 1 (Medium)
Role: Enemy: Fair Hitter
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢
Consequences:

  • Mild (2):

The Stone Curse

Obstacle: Countdown
Opposition: Great (+4)
Countdown: ▢ ▢ ▢
Trigger: An exchange elapses.
Trigger: Someone tries to remove the curse, by overcoming the Slowly Petrifying aspect, but fails by 2 or more shifts.
Outcome: The Slowly Petrifying aspect becomes Totally Petrified, as the character turns into a statue.


The monster illustration is the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

Monday Monsters: Basilisk