Thursday, April 25, 2013

Items of Psychotronic Might #2: The Brazen Head of Criswell



Preserved by strange alchemies from the far-flung XXth Aeon, the head of this legendary seer will utter strange and terrible prophecies for the benefit of any adventurer bold enough to consult it.  When it speaks, its stentorian tones can mold and mutate the world around it, bringing mundane reality ever closer to its mad vision.

The head may be consulted once per day with a question relating to the following:

     1.  The past or future history/provenence of an object, NPC, building, or geographical feature.  The answer  may well be negated by PC actions/repurcussions of same. 

     2.  The customs, mores, etc., of any society/culture/ethnic group,etc. known to the PCs, at any point in its past or future development.

     3.  What is going on, at this exact moment, in a location known to the questioner.

For every consultation, make two percentile rolls.  The first gives the probability of an accurate answer (the head is notoriously unreliable) while the second represents the consultation attempt itself.  If the answer is inaccurate, the GM is free to invent whatever outrageous bullshit he or she desires, but both accurate and inaccurate answers should be delivered in the same stentorian, overblown, and slightly delerious manner, with the PCs referred to as "friends", "my friends," "dear friends," etc. 

After the oracular pronouncement has been given

If the second roll is an even number there is no additional effect.  On an odd result, roll a d10 and consult the following chart ) :


d10
 Random Brazen Head Effect
1
 "Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives."  The next 24 hours cycle in a continuous loop "Groundhog Day" style.  This can be broken by one of the party making a successful Save vs. Magic (or whatever), which can be attempted once per day.

2
 "And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future."
At any point within the next session, one fact can be made retroactively true or false, up to and including death, dismemberment, purchases of vital equipment, and ill-considered fashion choices.

3
 "You are interested in the unknown... the mysterious. The unexplainable."  The questioner can Identify any objects encountered within the next d4 days as per the spell.  There is no actual casting involved-- the character simply knows these things.

4
"My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer." The Head psychically scans the questioner, who must make a (whetever's appropriate for the system) save or yield up their deepest darkest secret, which the Head will decide to announce, in unsparing detail, at a time when it is least advisable.

5
 "Let us punish the guilty." As above, but all present must make the save. Of the characters who fail, anyone who's committed a shameful act (by the Head's Eisenhower-era standards) within the last 48 hours rolls twice and keeps the worse result for all rolls in the next 24 hrs.

6
 "Let us reward the innocent." As above, but this time acts of virtue (according to the Head) are rewarded, and any characters so affected roll twice and keep the better result.

7
  "Perhaps on your way home you will pass someone in the dark, and you will never know it, for they will be from outer space."  The next random NPC the questioner encounters is actually an otherworldly entity in disguise whose inscrutable designs involve the questioner in a pivotal role.

8
"My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?" Instantly summons d4 Ressurectionoids armed with laser scalpels and revivification rays. 

9
 "It is even more of a shock when Death, the Proud Brother, comes suddenly without warning."  Instantly summons d10 Astro-Zombies armed with vibro-machetes.

10
 "My friend, you have seen this incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't happen?" However insane the Head's last utterance, it is now part of consensus reality, challenged only by liars, cranks, and the deranged.  Re-roll on the off chance it answered the last question correctly.


Special Bonus! The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future (1970)








9 comments:

  1. This is so getting added to Tartary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. just listening to the burial section: radar-enbalming is also going in.
      Riot, rape and revelry... via a simple headache tablet.

      Man, he was so right!

      Delete
  2. Thatś awesome, man! Definitely going to be part of my game.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I follow the idea of a percentile roll for accuracy, but how does the second roll "represent[ing] the consultation attempt itself" work, other than as a 50/50 chance of rolling on the d10 table? Does it reflect the length of the prognostication? The degree of detail?

    Beyond that, this is thoroughly inspired, in the details as well as the basic concept. And you've thrown in the perfect resource to brush up my Criswell impression...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first (secret) roll gives the likelihood of an accurate response (some days it's pretty reliable, other days not so much), and the second (out in the open) roll is an attempt to get under whatever percentage the first roll gives you. That second roll is all the player has to go on, so ideally they should never be entirely sure if the information they're getting is accurate or not.

      Does that make any more sense? It could probably be handled in a more elegant fashion-- I'm certainly open to suggestions.

      Delete
  4. I think you'd only really need one roll, but your the idea that the player sees only the second is a nice mechanism for giving them some insight as to the accuracy.

    ReplyDelete