I’m back for a seventh bumper-sized dose of Monsters in the Machine. To re-read our previous entry click here, or you can go back to the start and see how it all began.

To quickly re-cap what’s going on, this is a series where I feed the GPT-3 AI entries from the Vaults of Vaarn bestiary and let it come up with its own monsters based on the prompts. I will then follow up with a post where I edit the machine-generated bestiary entries, proving that human creativity is still superior. I had some free credits that I needed to use up, so this is a longer entry than normal.

Without further ado, let’s meet some monsters!

Cerlox Synthetic
Level: 3 Armour: 15 Morale: 7 Appearing: d6
Attacks: Claw (d6) / Bite (d8)
Notes: A robotic family pet. Constructed by an eccentric inventor before the fall of civilization, these metallic dogs are said to be stronger and smarter than their organic ancestors. They come in a variety of sizes, from small lapdogs to hulking mastiffs. They are loyal to their owner, and will fiercely defend them. 

This isn’t an awful start. We don’t have any synthetic pets in the current bestiary to my knowledge. A robot dog that follows its owner everywhere is a pretty low tier of creativity, but I don’t hate it either. The obvious gameplay effect I can see here is that the PCs are going to want one as a pet.

I looked up ‘cerlox’ as I wasn’t familiar with the word and it turns out to be the trademarked name of ‘a type of plastic binding used in strips to curl through the perforations in separate sheets of paper to bind them together.’ I have no idea why GPT-3 thought this was a good name for a robot dog.

Chaos Eater Synthetic
Level: 10 Armour: 15 Morale: 8 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Bite (2d6) + Chaos Blast (d10)
Notes: Constructed by a mad scientist, this metal monstrosity is a living embodiment of chaos. It is a hulking beast, with a maw of razor sharp metal teeth, and two glowing eyes that seem to shift and swirl. Its most terrifying power is its ability to unleash a blast of pure chaos, which can cause mutations, memory loss, and even madness in those it strikes. 

This is the kernel of something cool, a ‘boss’ type creature. I like that it can eat chaos and vomit it back out. The chaos blast attack seems to write itself (save vs a big table of random effects), but I wonder what the chaos eating ability actually does. Maybe the Chaos Eater lowers the ambient chaos around it somehow? Like a normality aura? I can see this thing hunting down and devouring Outsiders and Quantum Daemons. I also wonder if it can negate Mystic Gifts somehow. A good start here, my creative gears are whirring.

Chernobog Biological
Level: 12 Armour: 18 Morale: 13 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Claw (d10) + Bite (d12) + Gaze (d8)
Notes: A dread creature from beyond the stars. A giant, black furred beast with claws of iron and eyes that burn with a baleful light. Its bite is poisonous and it can hypnotize its prey with its gaze. It is a powerful foe, and one to be feared.

Another ‘boss’ type monster I think. High HP and Armour, with some heavy damage. As it comes from ‘beyond the stars’, can we assume this is extrasolar gene stock of some kind, adapted to life on Urth? Imported to fight in an arena? The AI has given it black fur and a poisonous bite, which makes me imagine something halfway between a giant snake and a ferret. The hypnotic gaze is also serpent-like, although I wonder if that’s too obvious an association. The iron claws make me think its skeletal structure is probably formed of something more durable than calcium. An unusual diet?

Chernobog‘ seems to mean ‘black god’, and is associated with evil and darkness. I think this creature is definitely nocturnal, and may even be a unique monster, something most Vaarnish explorers will never meet. It could even be an inhabitant of deep, lightless caverns. Perhaps the semi-mythic escapee from an Autarch’s menagerie? I definitely want to develop this entry further.

Chimera Biological
Level: 6 Armour: 15 Morale: 8 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Bite (d10), Claw (d10), Fire Breath (d12)
Notes: Monstrous hybrids created by gene-sculpting or magic. The Chimera is a combination of three animals, usually a lion, a goat, and a snake, but sometimes other animals are used instead. The Chimera is fierce and cunning, and will use its fire breath to incinerate its foes.

A second legendary creature, this time from a mythology I’m more familiar with. I like that the AI conflates ‘gene-sculpting’ with ‘magic’, letting us choose which method is being used to create these creatures (and perhaps asking what the difference even is). It’s learning how to write science-fantasy!

The Chimera is such a classic that I’m reluctant to criticise it too much. One thing I like is that while we’re given one ‘loadout’ for the Chimera in the lion, goat, and snake heads, the entry notes that ‘other animals’ can be used instead. Now we’re cooking! I feel like there could be a whole range of Chimera models, created by a gene-sculptor over the course of their working life. Given that Vaarn is all about random tables, I think you should be able to create your own randomised Chimera model from a big list of potential animals. Maybe a ‘prime’ head with a breath weapon, a secondary head, and then a tail with its own attack?

Cobra-Moth Biological
Level: 3 Armour: 8 Morale: 8 Appearing: 1d3
Attacks: Bite (d8), Tail Sting (d6)
Notes: A strange hybrid of a cobra and a moth, the Cobra-Moth is a vicious predator. Its body is a mix of scales and fur, with a long, segmented tail. It has four wings and two large fangs, as well as a long, curved stinger at the end of its tail. It attacks by biting and stinging, and its poison can cause paralysis and unconsciousness. Its chitinous wings allow it to fly and it is highly agile in the air. It is incredibly fast and is able to dart in and out of combat in a matter of moments.

Love love love this! Fits into the current bestiary with barely an edit required. I can imagine these things flying around Ikor Quag, the inner Wall, or the foothills of the Mooncradle Mountains. As they’re moths, I wonder if they’re nocturnal?

Grimpet Synthetic
Level: 1 Armour: 16 Morale: 4 Appearing: d6
Attacks: Bite (d6), Poisoned Blades (d4)
Notes: Created by some long-forgotten civilisation, Grimpet drones are small, spider-like robots that have been found in ruins across Vaarn. They have a simple programming: to guard their designated area and eliminate any intruders. They have a powerful poison in their blades, which causes paralysis and extreme pain.

A fun minor creature that fits in with the setting without much editing. I can imagine swarms of these pouring out of vents in a dark, sand-choked vault hallway. I don’t love paralysis attacks, so I’d probably choose something different for their poison to do.

Also I love the name.

Grimweaver Synthetic
Level: 3 Armour: 16 Morale: 5 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Web (Special), Bite (d8)
Notes: A larger, more powerful cousin of the Grimpet, Grimweavers were created to be sentinels for ancient sites. They weave a powerful web that can ensnare even the strongest of creatures, immobilising them and draining their energy. They are rarely encountered alone, as they often lead swarms of Grimpet drones.

This is pretty interesting: GPT-3 decided to hit me with a larger cousin of the Grimpet. A bigger spider-drone, this time with the ability to weave ‘energy draining’ webs. I’m imagining lattices of nanothread, which appear insubstantial but can easily snare unwary explorers. I think the Grimweaver might stay high up on the ceiling, out of melee range, while the Grimpets swarm the PCs.

Gruk Biological
Level: 1 Armour: 14 Morale: 6 Appearing: d8
Attacks: Bite (d6), Tail (d4)
Notes: Gruks are a small, rat-like species of abhuman. They are often found in large numbers, scurrying around the ruins of cities, scavenging for food. Gruks are generally harmless, but can become aggressive if threatened. They also possess a toxic tail barb, which can be used as a defensive weapon.

Back at it again with the toxic barbs! So we’ve now got tiny rat-like abhuman scavengers. I can’t help but imagine the Jawas from Star Wars, maybe mixed with Warhammer‘s Skaven. We’re also being pushed conceptually towards a ‘goblin’ type creature, something small and annoying that thrives in underground warrens (and gets genocided by Level 1 PCs looking for easy XP).

If they’re habitual scavengers, that puts them in conflict with the PCs, or at least gives them a reason to be frequently found inside vaults. I wonder if they’re like Yurlings, something that wants to steal your treasure?

‘Gruk’ is the kind of generic SF name I try to avoid in Vaarn, although Wiktionary does claim that it’s a Danish word which combines ‘laugh’ and ‘sigh’ into one phrase. Does this have something to teach us about the character of Vaarn’s Gruks? Only time will tell.

Kerberos Synthetic
Level: 6 Armour: 20 Morale: 8 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Claws (d8) / Tail (d8)
Notes: A strange creature made of interconnecting metallic plates, covered in a black hide. It moves with a peculiar, jerky gait, and its four eyes are constantly shifting in all directions. Its claws and tail are razor-sharp and can deliver devastating blows. When threatened, it will emit a shrill, electronic shriek that can paralyze any organic being within earshot.

This one is weird and I’m struggling to picture it. It’s a synthetic creature covered in a ‘black hide’, with four eyes and a tail. It emits a shrill paralysing shriek when threatened and has a notably peculiar gait.

I’m imagining something a bit like the Cornish ‘Obby ‘Oss (definitely worth a read of that article if you’re not familiar with the British folk custom). So maybe a synthetic frame with black ‘skin’ stretched over it? Possibly once used in a festival of some kind, now abandoned or gone rogue and making its own way through Vaarn? To what purpose? Wonder if it demands something from the PCs, or wants them to participate in an ancient game?

The name is clearly being pulled from ‘Cerberus’, but the creature’s description doesn’t seem to tie into the underworld guardian theme at all. Something to explore further?

Void Dragon Synthetic
Level: 15 Armour: 30 Morale: 20 Appearing: 1
Attacks: Breath Weapon (d20)
Notes: Gigantic flying construct, made of interlocking plates of void-resistant metal. Its multiple sets of wings are powered by a reactor, and it breathes a powerful beam of energy which can melt through solid rock. It can hover in place for hours, silently tracking prey, and when it attacks it unleashes a devastating barrage of energy that can level entire cities.

Well this is… certainly an encounter. 30 Armour, d20 damage breath weapon, flying. This seems less ‘dragon’ and more ‘sentient stealth bomber’. You can easily imagine a villain NPC trying to find the means to wake one of these Void Dragons up and CONQUER VAARN using it. How do you fight this thing? I would be tempted to have the PCs go inside it somehow and have a mini-dungeon trying to find the reactor core.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I love this one.

Frost Hounds Synthetic
Level: 3 Armour: 10 Morale: 5 Appearing: d6
Attacks: Frost-Chilled Bite (d6)
Notes: Sentient canine-like robots whose circuits are cooled with antifreeze. They are capable of generating a cold aura that weakens their opponents and lowers their morale, as well as an icy breath, capable of causing frostbite on any exposed flesh.

And we’re back to the robot dogs for the last entry. GPT-3 still trying to make synthetic hounds ‘happen’. This time they have a freeze power which ‘lowers morale’. I tell you what’s lowering my morale is the AI spitting out an old idea again and trying to pass it off as new!

This one is fine. I don’t hate the cold theme, it just doesn’t ‘click’ with the robot dog concept in any way that excites me. Like the antifreeze thing is fine, I just don’t get why a robot dog needs to be so cold? Do they hunt something that’s really hot? Is it so you can keep beer inside them? Answers in the comments please…

3 thoughts on “MONSTERS IN THE MACHINE 7”

  1. So for the Kerberos, reading that it was snake like with two appendages with claws and it’s four eyes, I immediately thought of a steatlhy security drone of some sort tasked with snaking through the vents and complex structure of some large mainframe AI or something. It’s name Keberos suit it as a gaurdian or gatekeeper as a physical security countermeasure for this AI and it’s four eyes are alwasy watching and giving it a nearly 360 degree field of vision. It cannot be surprised!


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