Somehow a morlock joined my players’ party. Yay for we playing a mix of gonzo and serious fantasy!
But I found the original morlocks did not fit the role I wanted them to play in my world. This is how Sham describes them:
Morlocks(N-C): AC 5 Move 9 HD 1+1 Once tech-advanced time-travelers, now lost devolved species of cannibalistic subterranean men. Covered with pale fur, they are extremely sensitive to bright light. Able to slink silently and track foes. Wield clubs and spears. Favorite dish is pickled Mole-Man.
Right, we have a race of “fallen” chrononauts to mod. This is more or less what happened:
- Misread the monster entry and notice just 5 months later when you’re blogging about it. They used to travel in time, not space. Well, so wha’?
- The party stumbles in the workshop full of morlocks in the first level of the Dismal Depths, after stumbling in countless pieces of odd and deadly machinery. One of them notices the party and gets charmed to stop raising the alarm. Come up with name: Ugub, come up with a number of gimmicks for the race (because everybody’s weird):
- Keep the cannibalism, change aspect to pink skin with sparse white bristles (think of a pig, or of a kinda glabrous mouse lab), give them coloured overalls with pockets full of tools. Thin frame, like an elf, but about 1 meter tall. Long prehensile ratlike tail. Basically a rat-elf-space-midget, wielding spanners their height as two handed weapons.
- Goggles, as they need them. No, wait, make the goggles glow a soft yellow from the inside.
- push the weird even further: during the dungeon crawl Ugub takes the goggles off and shows that morlock eyes are bright as lanterns and can illuminate the room.
- Morlock hands have about 20-30 fingers. Lots of them come out of strange places (like wrists, back of the hands, other fingers…).
- This was all fine but I made the error of make a humanoid alien. Humanoids are not alien. Well, District 9 crabs are alienish, but erect posture, bilateral symmetry, 2 walking and 2 manipulating limbs arranged the human way make aliens too similar to humans to my tastes. Epic fail for me. Time to compensate with some behavioural and cultural weirdness.
- Ugub takes travel notes about lots of mundane stuff because everything’s alien to him. And he makes strange questions. He’s an alien engineer after all.
- Whenever morlocks speak in common about anything not from the non-local world put the “space-” prefix before it. Space-worms, space-ship, etc. Ugub even referred to his long-time-lost home planet as “space-planet”.
- Playing an alien alienation is another meta-tool that can be used, for example, to highlight societal structures and mores belonging to the game world, such as feudalism and marriage being very similar in their oppression of personal freedoms, or how odd is that PCs don’t see anything wrong in being a roving band of murderers and tomb raiders but have problems with killing kids. Or simply that they don’t eat the corpses of their comrades, because “saving your corpse for your friends’ next lunch is the best gift you could do to them”. See, alien. An alien is alien to you.
- Laser weapons! Pewpewpewpew! And gimmicks!
- Morlock’s space-ship crashlanded generations ago and, due to problems evident to anyone who ever tried design-by-committee, didn’t manage to rebuild one. One that worked, at least. Only a morlock of great leadership will be able to stop this stupid design practices and lead everybody back to space-planet.
- Here’s your morlock tinker endgame: reach level 14, build a sonic screwdriver, put together a research lab, gather a project-team with the best morlock tinkers, spend a heckton of money into the project and, over 10 years (same time BECM advices for elven flying ships and dwarven undeground vessels, less if many research labs are parallelized) you’re ready to take off and “win the game”.
- Or use the thing to bomb the f*ck out of cities from low orbit if they don’t recognize you as their overlord. Orbital insertions are always fun.
This improv-session took maybe 5 minutes, while the PCs were making friends with Ugub.
Last bit I needed to put together were the actual game mechanics…