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Old 02-23-2019, 03:14 PM   #1
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default [Monster] Keepers

Keeper
Spirit
One thing that drives a lot of new delving sages borderline crazy is that most dungeons just do not make any sense. WHY have fourteen different goblin tribes moved here over the centuries, set up shop, and fought all comers until exterminated? Why does every second human that dies in here rise as an angry spirit? What keeps the ropes supple, bows taut, and poison potent for traps inside a tomb that has been sealed for a thousand years? What do dragons have against banks? Why doesn't the slime escape and take over the world? Or the Vampires? HOW THE HECK DOES THIS THING EVEN WORK IT'S BUILT UNDER A RUINED RIVER KEEP IN FRACTURED ROCK BENEATH THE FREAKIN' WATER TABLE IT SHOULD ALL BE UNDER WATER AND IT'S BARELY DAMP EXCEPT FOR THE 10' LONG TALKING CRAWDAD AND NONE OF IT MAKES ANY SENSE!
(... pant ... pant ...)

Around this point in the rant a more seasoned delver, often a druid, cleric, or wizard, will take the sage by the hand. Making a sweeping nebulous gesture, they whisper conspiratorially "Keeper Spirits"


In terms of stats, keepers are almost identical to Spirit Guardians (DFRPG Monsters, p. 52), but the small differences that there are make all the difference.

Domain: A Keeper has an inner domain and and outer domain. It only has traditional Spirit Guardian powers in the inner domain, but it can move around in the outer domain and observe things and plan, or influence it's minions. Even from a distance, it can still notice ... exciting ... events.

Add the following attack:
Corrupt Weakness(18, resisted by Will): This can only be applied to someone who unconscious in the keeper's domain. It allows the keeper to add 1 point of disadvantage to the victim, as long as the trait is it applied to is clearly related to an existing trait. It stacks. In the keeper's inner domain, it can also add a positive point to "Higher Purpose, Defend the Keeper's Domain" if it has a full week to do so. With even more time it can add other traits at the GM's discretion.

Traits: Add the following:
Cautious
Keeper Contingency Casting 5 This is a modified version that allows the spirit to cast any non-combat spell, and perform small supernatural effects of similar power level to spells, as long as they cost 3 FP or less per use of KCC expended. Treat critical failures as normal failures.
Shy
Remove incurious and no fine manipulators
Divine Curse is often more flexible than "defend an area."

Skills: Add stealth 16. It will often receive large bonuses due to being invisible, or inside of a wall, etc.

Class: Spirit.
Notes: Keeper Spirits are bound to protect something, but also bound to keep it from being forgotten. Originally placed to guard the tombs of the great royalty of old, the keeper spirits kept their charges safe with elaborate tombs, guardians, and traps ... and kept them from being forgotten by luring greedy yet braggy types into their clutches, letting out just enough hoarded wealth the keep the legend alive. Over time, the secrets of binding ritual to create these spirits has spread, been used, re-used, and mis-used in many times and spaces. Yet exactly how common keepers are is unknown, as they are very shy and cautious. They observe their mandate from the spirit world, making subtle changes here, and exerting subtle influences there, like a fanatical hobbyist adjusting the rigging on a ship in a bottle.

In practice, most keepers use their powers to make the denizens of their domains committed defenders, with fanatacism, sense of duty, or other binding disads, as well as a sprinkling of trickster, greed, and other traits that make for opponents worth singing about in the tavern later. Those close to the object of the keeper's curse will often have one or more levels of higher purpose, and a favored few will have been subtly modified in other interesting ways. (The GM should always feel free to add "fun" traits to their dungeon critters of course the keeper is just getting the blame.)

The oldest keepers tend to be the shyest, and the ones with the most mundane looking focuses for their curse. There is a keeper who has been protecting the same set of three finger bones (all that is left of an ancient prince) for millennia. Occasionally explorers have breached the inner sanctum, and driven off and exorcised the spirit, and destroyed the (decoy) prince's undead body, but those finger bones have been carefully wedged between two wall stones in a back corner, and the keeper has been called back again.

An example of "Corrupt Weakness"
a group of delvers, exploring the omni-maze, sets up camp in the outer domain of a keeper. The curious keeper seeps through the cracks of the stone to the room where they have camped, and listens to them talk of their adventures, noticing that Tvalin (who has a sense of duty to underground nature) really appreciated the natural beauty of the Flowcaves, another area inside of its domain. In the morning, Tvalin wakes up with a new quirk: Really Likes the Flowcaves. Usually that's it as delvers seldom linger ... but Tvalin gets captured by the local orc tribe in a terrible battle that forced his fellows to flee the dungeon. By the time the rescue mission finds him again, Tvalin has a -10 point duty to protect the caves from interlopers. The next delvers through that cave are going to have to deal with him.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:12 AM   #2
johndallman
 
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Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

And indexed.
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Old 02-24-2019, 11:52 AM   #3
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Hmmm. On one hand I'm bound (contractually) to agree that it makes an incredibly good excuse, and really does the job well, of 'why do these dungeons keep filling with monstrous humanoids"... but on the other... I don't use excuses, so... not much use to me.

But it might make for a great adventure hook... hmmm.
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Old 02-24-2019, 03:17 PM   #4
martinl
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Hmmm. On one hand I'm bound (contractually) to agree that it makes an incredibly good excuse, and really does the job well, of 'why do these dungeons keep filling with monstrous humanoids"... but on the other... I don't use excuses, so... not much use to me.
I have to admit it - most folks don't need any excuse to explain the dungeon. What I was hoping for was to introduce a new model of how the dungeon works.

Keepers started out as a source of "lower purpose," that extra fun special "Higher Purpose, Defend the Dungeon" variant Peter proposed all those moons ago. It gelled when he reported his players suspected that sufficiently successful delvers moved into the dungeon to become the boss monsters for the next generation.

But keepers provide more than just that.

Keepers mean that the dungeon is a being with goals. It want's to protect something or things, but it also wants fame. This means when the GM colludes to make the delve as epic as possible, there is an explicit tool to take up. When the monsters let the bard escape the TPK, AGAIN, there's a creature doing it. The crazy monsters are just the right kind of crazy to be fun, and not boring crazy or terrifyingly competent crazy. Etc.

There's also the possibility of the learned PCs or NPCs negotiating a deal with the dungeon itself. What will the PCs do when they learn that their fiercest rivals for the King's favor have mostly been bribing the Keeper spirits with really good tavern tales?

But the core of it is actually my brain, which sometimes does do much better when there is an excuse for the monsters to be just the right kind of crazy, the traps to be just the right kinds of flashy almost lethal nonsense, rather than something effective, and the talky monsters to be just the right kind of entertaining. For those of y'all for whom this sort of nonsense is not even a bit off-footing, well ... a keeper is you.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:15 PM   #5
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Variant that may appeal to North American gamers of a certain age:

Trapper Keeper
Spirit
Sages dispute the origin of this diabolical version of the standard Keeper spirit, but they are clearly closely related. The Trapper Keeper is obsessed with capturing and preserving delvers and their equipment. It keeps its dungeon meticulously organized with color-coded rooms and door-tabs for ease of reference. Most Trapper Keepers are obsessed with decorating their dungeons with culturally significant icons (unicorns, rainbows, kittens, etc.).

The Trapper Keeper has most of the traits of a standard Keeper, with these changes:

Replace Corrupt Weakness with:
Suspended Animation (20, resisted by HT): Every 15 seconds, the Trapper Keeper can cast Suspended Animation on any single target within its inner domain. Since this spell is permanent, it does not penalize additional castings.

Traits: Add the following:
Compulsive Behavior (color code everything); Energy Reserve 20 (Magical); Odious Personal Habit (thematic decoration scheme)

Skills:
Search-16
Most Trapper Keepers have developed a deep understanding of their collections, possibly represented by Eidetic Memory, Heraldry, Hidden Lore, Languages, Naturalist, Occultism, Research, Thaumatology, Theology, and/or others.

Notes: Trapper Keepers attempt to put any living beings into Suspended Animation. Once all interlopers are suspended, the spirit searches them and begins sorting them into its meticulously organized dungeon. Each Trapper Keeper has its own, often inscrutable, scheme. Delvers might be organized by profession, race, height, religion, or more esoteric measures. Possessions are similarly sorted into chambers with other similar objects. Most Trapper Keepers are especially obsessed with writing implements, paper, and smelly stickers.
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:25 AM   #6
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
I have to admit it - most folks don't need any excuse to explain the dungeon. What I was hoping for was to introduce a new model of how the dungeon works.
No, I get it. Which is why I admit, it gave me a plot hook idea.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Trapper Keeper
:|
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:49 AM   #7
martinl
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Trapper Keeper
That is sick...



I like it.
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:59 AM   #8
DouglasCole
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Variant that may appeal to North American gamers of a certain age:

[/INDENT]
For a less overtly campy version of this, each "color" could instead be a magical aura "tag" that functions the same way.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:02 PM   #9
Dalin
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
For a less overtly campy version of this, each "color" could instead be a magical aura "tag" that functions the same way.
Heh. This whole post was entirely out of character for me. As a rule, I never do campy or meta-humor in my games. I've played in goofy games and loved them, but as a GM, I take my fantasy seriously. (Of course, plenty of humor arises from situations and interactions in the otherwise serious world.)

Even as I wrote this tongue-in-cheek post, though, I started mulling over the idea of a more serious version of a Spirit Guardian who, like an obsessive museum curator, wants to collect, classify, and preserve everything. Adventurers might not need to defeat the spirit itself, but just come up with a way to extract someone or something from its halls.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:33 PM   #10
martinl
 
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Default Re: [Monster] Keepers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
I started mulling over the idea of a more serious version of a Spirit Guardian who, like an obsessive museum curator, wants to collect, classify, and preserve everything. Adventurers might not need to defeat the spirit itself, but just come up with a way to extract someone or something from its halls.
So a Zookeeper?
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