Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Retro Gear #2: The Silver Sphere

In keeping with our continuing series on Retro-Gear, and with Halloween just around the corner, we present the silver ball from the creepy and excellent Phantasm movie from 1979!  Now if you haven't seen this yet, buy or rent it and enjoy a truly atmospheric experience.  Sure, it's a low-budget movie.  But it's also quite good, and if you take nothing else away from this...

It all begins with the "Tall Men"; a race of extra-dimensional outsiders who appear as large (6' tall) humanoids.  These travel the universe, establishing themselves as legitimate members of society and using the ruse to collect the dead.  That's right.  The Tall Men seek the recently dead for SLAVES; reanimating them through some unknown means and then crushing them down to dwarf size (typically, around 3-4') to suit the gravity of their world.

The dwarfs are shipped in barrels and teleported by means of mysterious metal pillars.  These stand 3' tall and are always found in pairs, having 2-3' between them, with some reports suggesting they operate like a tuning fork, employing vibration to open the way into their red and barren home world...

Standing between these and placing one hand on each pillar is normally enough to activate the portal, noting that those who do so inadvertently can be retrieved by a nearby companion if they can reach into the void within 1 round and make saving dice.  Otherwise, the victim is lost, although, presumably, able to return through some other portal on the other side, and this can signal the start of a new adventure if the referee is willing!

The Tall Men command the silver
spheres and come seeking our dead...

The Tall Men often set themselves up as undertakers or related professionals, exploiting this ready access to the dead for their own nefarious purposes.  Note here that only the most observant characters will notice anything amiss; perhaps their unusually high strength or strange behavior, etc.  Once suspicion this sets in, however, the Tall Men move quickly to silence the curious, whether sending dwarf slaves or dealing with them personally.

DEAD-DWARF (Pits & Perils)

ATTACKS 1(claws) LEVEL: 1 (1-3 HP)  MOVE: 40'  SIDE: C 

The dead-dwarfs are squat and deformed, although this is typically hidden beneath simple cloaks.  They are NOT true undead.

TALL MEN (Pits & Perils)

ATTACKS 1(*) LEVEL: 3 (3-8 HP)  MOVE: 30'  SIDE: C

Tall men avoid engaging in prolonged conversation, but are highly intelligent and treated as physically strong.  They have total control over nearby dwarfs, but will otherwise use a SILVER SPHERE to hunt down their unfortunate quarry.  Another ability includes regeneration (1 HP/turn), and should any limb be amputated, it will become a CADAVER-BUG in 1d6 rounds and attack the enemy.

These dwarfs are killer.  Well,
actually, they're already quite dead...

SILVER SPHERES are as big as a baseball, but appear as a smooth metallic silver.  These are controlled by the Tall Men and are highly maneuverable, flying 60' and easily turning sharp corners at full speed, possibly under psychic command.  Spheres sprout any number of scalpel-like implements, and upon a successful hit (treat as 6th level for attacks), deliver 1d6+1 hits per round until the target is slain or otherwise rescued...

Assume these are indestructible and unusable by others, although telepathic control should not extend beyond 120'.

CADAVER-BUG (Pits & Perils)

ATTACKS 1(*) LEVEL: 1 (1 HP)  MOVE: 90'  SIDE: N

These terrible creatures appear as leprous, bloated flies small enough to fit in the palm of the hand.  These can fly at incredible speed and deal an automatic 1 hit of damage per round on contact with living flesh.  Cadaver bugs are easily contained...   

Once again, it is unclear whether the Tall Men are a magical or technological civilization.  These details are left to the referee, who should have no problem introducing them.  Happy Halloween!    

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