Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gift Horse

Nightmare the Gifthorse:

Players encounter a two dead bandits and a wandering horse, the men have been savaged, as if by animals. Blood still fresh.
Obviously the horse is the lone survivor of a bloody scuffle between two bandits, perhaps rivals, a bad debt or a drunk taunt too many. Easy pickings!

The horse is impressively large, a dark beast that is easily co-opted as a mount or beast of burden.
It is in the battered saddle and harness of the red raiders.
If players do not adopt the beast it will clop after them in a desultory fashion (if completely left behind will taunt telepathically with dreams and madness for three nights and attack when appropriate)

If the players look a gift horse in the mouth they will find razor sharp conical teeth like those of the killer whale, black clotted ichor serves as saliva. The horse will attack.

If the players offer the horse with food by hand it will obligingly eat, roll a check to see if they notice the stench of blood/get black ichor on them(defend against insanity, don't say why unless pass)/see a white flash of tooth.
If left at a food-trough it will stare at the hay balefully and never be seen to eat.
In a field of clover it will stand still and watch the party until moved. It never defecates.
Perhaps it grows thinner over the course of three days.

The horse is digesting fresh picked bandit when you happen upon it, it is sated, gorged, apathetic.

In three days it will again hunger, in the interim it will gain your trust and companionship.
To relieve the monotony it will occasionally cast fear or insanity either on the party in the open road (chance to flee, attack closest party member once in a rage. PCs may assume harrying from the roadside brush or parasites or treachery. encourage.) or on enemies during battle (secret rolls, it will not reveal its-self willingly).
The Dark Horse is placid and disinterested during even the bloodiest battle, unless it has a rider to whom it will mockingly carry.

The horse will wait out stays in towns and villages, starving and frustrated. Maybe tavern rumors speak of missing children or black smeared, gnawed dog skulls that induce madness.

The horse is wily and intelligent enough for forward planning.
It knows when the game is up, it knows what you can do with those cleavers and shooters, but it knows it is hungry. And it chose you, it has been enjoying your company, adventurers do the darnedest things. You are the equivalent of kobe beef-  riddled with fear and adrenaline and taut muscle. Marbled inside with hate and murder and implacable drive.

It will wait for a nice hinterland setting, you camp, set a watch and a fire. whittle and eat and sleep.
You are woken by madness (ambush, automatic hit roll to save),  the stallion is rearing over the fire. Your sentry was facing the wrong way.

Black stag horns erupt from its forhead, it smiles a wide, wide white smile, clotted ichor like congealed motor oil drips between the teeth (killer whale, shark, needlelike, carnivorous or just way too human.)

The perceptive among you can see raised humps on its back, veins standing out as blood is forced to the additional brain, the dark one, the hungry one that whispers of bellies full of teeth, the choking pleasure of blood matted scalp sticking in the gullet, the pop of eyeballs.

The stallion is nothing but an apex predator, there is no loot, no blood gods or ethereal nightmare spirits. Just one more genetic joke, too cruel for this world. Its life was long and successful.

Its blood is potent, madness inducing if used within the week. it will etch glass and corrode metal, mind that it is spent or decanted before the week is out or the black will ooze through your pack and your bile will rise and so will your fists.

Who carries your baggage now, anyway?

I threw out the stat card i used, but it had approximately:

-Dual brain to allow many mental abilities AND double mental attacks (brain talent?),
-Beguiling (Attackers save or forced to use least leathal attack.. nerfs strongbads :) )
-Area effect Fear(run or pass out),
-Smaller area effect Confusion effect that forced you to attack the closest entity OR the caster (FUN!)
-Something that cloaked it from Empathy(senses intentions! although it may give off a false reading of benevolence while it is sated as it truly sees you as an amusing pastime..)
-Horns was a physical mutation, i had a few vanilla physical attacks like charge, gore, bite(madness via poison chart). The bite/ichor thing could be the poison phys mutation.
-maybe mental control that i didn't get to use.

These were all flavored standard Gamma2E mutations or from this site (

Bear in mind this thing has to take on 3 to 6 badasses solo so the ambush+beguile+confusion really helps to tie up characters while you play with them.

Also the old movie convention of "never kill a dog or a horse onscreen" works great here as its less of an Ol Yeller mercy kill and more of a premeditated malevolent betrayal followed by brĂ¼tal session of nightmarish cry-murdering and dismemberment.

Remember its dark, the low fire is kicked all over and you wake up to see your friends stabbing EACHOTHER while a horn-ed daemon that used to be your trusty companion sows discord and madness amongst you.

I used this in a Gamma World 2e campaign and it worked O.K!
They spent alot of time in civilisation so the horse was ravenous. Originally they did not loot the horse, so it ingratiated its-self as a carthorse. I should have spent more effort on making him a character as noone has really become attached to their mounts.
Attacked them out of the blue with confusion multiple times and they happily stabbed each-other and went about their business as if it was a sneeze. One battle it helped them and got fear reflected back by an enemy mutant. Did not tell them why but the enemies fled for a while and the horse ran off with their cart which they rode to safety.
Dismay and horror during ambush, grief and rage as they hacked it down.
They harvested the gore and drove an alchemist mad trying to sell it

Please read and buy Equoid by Charles Stross for great devil horsery, released for free on TOR here:

Its short, and his unicorns are horrific sexual angler-fish formed when a lovecraftian space crustacean grafts its conical mass to the brain of a horse &etc, you know, the usual.

12/08/16 unedited go nuts. out.

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