I’m back for an eighth installment 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 then follow-up with a post where I clean up and refine the stat blocks given to us by the machine learning algorithm, and talk a bit about why I changed stuff. This is one of those follow-up posts.
Level: 4-20*, Armour: 15, Morale: 8, Appearing: 1
Attacks: 2 x Quicksilver Darts (d6) + Chaos Blast (Special, see table)
As science-mystics grew ever more greedy in their untangling of natural law, the threat from paradoxical and extra-dimensional disasters grew. Chaos Eaters are the first line of defence against such incursions, hovering polyhedrons of pale crysteel that absorb paradoxes like a sponge drinks water. These synths once answered to THEMIS, but now serve no law except those of lucid reality. They hunt down Quantum Daemons, servants of the Imminent Kingdom, and all others who seek to unravel the warp and weft of our universe.
The Eater is not simply a storehouse of paradoxical energy: it can also deploy chaos as a weapon, spewing beams of distilled chance to baffle the unwary.
Variable Level: Chaos Eaters were manufactured in various polyhedral forms, increasing in rank and power with the number of faces the Eater possesses. Low-ranking tetrahedral Chaos Eaters are pyramid-shaped, having 4 sides and 4 Levels; hexahedral Chaos Eaters are cube-shaped and have 6 Levels, and so forth, all the way up to a mighty icosahedral Chaos Eater with 20 sides and 20 Levels. If the Referee is unsure which rank of Eater appears, they should use the size of the dice they most recently rolled.
Normality Aura: Chaos Eaters project an ontological stabilisation field, ensuring a highly lucid local environment. Hypergeometric and Outsider-type creatures suffer automatic damage each round from exposure to the aura. The damage taken is equal to the Chaos Eater’s Level. Mystic Gifts cannot be used within the Chaos Eater’s aura.
Roll on the table below, using a dice size equal to the Chaos Eater’s Level. A Level 4 Chaos Eater rolls a d4, and so on.
|d20||Effect of Chaos Blast|
|1||Flame Deluge – target takes d10 fire damage|
|2||Ice Beam– target takes d6 cold damage and loses d4 DEX|
|3||Acid Blast – target takes d6 acid damage and loses 2 points of Armour Defence|
|4||Reinforcements – a new Chaos Eater of one rank higher appears to join the fray|
|5||Minor Wound – target rolls d8 on the Wounds table|
|6||Minor Metamorphosis – biological targets must CON save vs Mutation. Roll d100 and consult the Mutations table|
|7||Lighting Storm – all opponents take d8 electrical damage|
|8||Toxic Cloud – all opponents CON save vs a d10 TOX attack|
|9||Space Time Portal – a random creature from the local encounters table appears. It is not allied to the Chaos Eater|
|10||Wound – target rolls 2d6 on the Wounds table|
|11||Mass Metamorphosis – all nearby biological creatures must CON save or roll on the Mutations table|
|12||Reinforcements – a new Chaos Eater of one rank lower appears to join the fray|
|13||Lithifying Beam – target must CON save vs Lithification. Target loses d6 DEX permanently and gains +2 base Armour Defense.|
|14||Healing Aura – target regains d10 hp.|
|15||Evil Twin – spawns hostile clone of the target, with all their stats and gear. As a paradoxical creature, the Twin takes damage from the Chaos Eater’s aura|
|16||Reversed Fortune – for the next round of combat, all misses are hits and all hits are misses. This effects the Chaos Eater|
|17||Rapid Aging – target ages several decades within seconds. They permanently lose d6 STR and gain d6 PSY.|
|18||Major Wound – target rolls 2d10 on the Wounds table|
|19||Self Destruct – the Chaos Eater explodes, dying and dealing 4d10 blast damage to everyone nearby|
|20||Exotica – target gains a random item of Exotica. They remember always having possessed it|
A fairly complicated creature, but I’m happy with the result. I’ve been thinking for a while about psychic-hunters and Quantum Daemon countermeasures, and I think the Chaos Eater seems like a good start.
The Chaos Blast is dangerous – the Eater breaks quite a few rules and can inflict some really nasty penalties and unwanted changes. The table is written so that the Level 4 Eater has quite a reasonably high chance (25%) of spawning a Level 6 ally each turn, and so on. Not a creature you want to fight recklessly.
Level: 12, Armour: 18, Morale: 12, Appearing: 1
Attacks: 2 x Claw (d10) + Bite (d12) + Black Cloud (2 damage, aura, doubles each round)
A dread creature from beyond the stars, brought to Urth in the hold of an Aurum Barge. The Chernobog is a colossal, black-furred beast, described as ‘a child of mongoose and serpent, two foes united under one foul banner’. The creature is an apex predator on the benighted sphere it hails from, hunting by ambush in dark and forgotten places. It prefers caves and the labyrinthine basements of ruined structures as lairs, rarely venturing above ground.
The Chernobog is wary, shy of daylight and open spaces, but this cunning should not be mistaken for cowardice. The creature’s bones are harder than iron, made from some un-Urthly metal, and its jaws can tear through armoured vehicles. If this were not terrible enough, the beast emits a noxious gas from facial glands when enraged, choking and blinding its victims. The Chernobog uses these black clouds to corral prey or cover its escape.
Cave Fighter: the Chernobog strikes with Advantage in enclosed spaces or against blinded creatures.
Black Cloud: each round the Chernobog emits a cocktail of corrosive and hazardous fumes, dealing 2 damage to every character in the room. The cloud’s strength doubles with each subsequent combat round. After three rounds all PCs are fighting as if blinded.
The cloud is not effective outdoors, and its potency resets when the Chernobog enters a new room.
A true boss monster, with high damage and a noxious blinding aura that builds in strength with each round you fight in the same room. This creature would make for a good climax to a vault-crawl, as the Black Cloud mechanic puts the fight on a death timer and incentivises kiting the Chernobog back through the areas you’ve already explored. You won’t meet this monster during wilderness exploration, unless something has driven it from its natural lair.
Level: 6, Armour: 15, Morale: 8, Appearing: d3
Attacks: Fire Breath (d12 blast) + Goat Horns (d10) + Snake Spit (d8 TOX)
Monstrous hybrids, birthed from a marriage of cybernetics and sorcerous gene-sculpting. The Chimera is a combination of three animals: traditionally the bodies of a lion, a goat, and a snake were used, but sometimes other animals were substituted instead. Trained Chimera were utilised as weapons of war during the fallen Autarchy, implanted with flamethrowers and other devices.
If the Referee prefers to mix up the classics, they should ignore the attacks listed above and instead roll d8 for each head of the Chimera. Make note of new attacks and any stat increases.
|d8||Primary Head + Body||Secondary Head + Body||Third Head (on Tail)|
|1||Lion (Fire Breath, d12 blast)||Goat (Horns d10)||Snake (spit, d8 TOX)|
|2||Hippo (Lightning Breath, d12 electrical)||Monkey (Fangs d6 / excellent climber)||Peacock (hypnotic gaze, EGO save vs 1 round paralysis)|
|3||Bear (Laser Eyes, d12 beam)||Chameleon (Tongue d8 / can mimic background)||Jackal (d8 bite)|
|4||Crocodile (Jaws d10 / +2 Armour)||Eagle (Beak d8 / has wings)||Human (d6 bite, curses you in High Autarkic)|
|5||Elephant (d12 tusks / + 2 Levels)||Zebra (Poison Vomit d10 TOX)||Mongoose (d6 bite / hates snakes)|
|6||Bull (Acid Spit, d6 Armour decay + d6 damage)||Wolf (Bite d10)||Heron (d8 beak, hits as though target unarmoured)|
|7||Gorilla (Fists 2d8 / excellent climber)||Shark (Bite d10 / can breathe underwater)||Antelope (d8 horns / always wins initative)|
|8||Rhino (Charge, DEX save vs 3d10 damage)||Cheetah (Fangs d8 / always wins pursuits)||Toad (sticky tongue, STR save vs pulled in and swallowed for d8 damage per round)|
This is the first procedurally-created monster I’ve made for Vaarn, which is surprising given the whole ‘thing’ of the setting is random dice tables. I could see these as random encounters, or as pets of a warlord. The Chimera’s danger level varies, although they always have three attacks per round which is strong.
Level: 3, Armour: 11, Morale: 8, Appearing: d3
Attacks: Bite (d6) + Sting (d8 TOX)
A strange hybrid of a cobra and a moth. Its body is a mix of scales and white fur, with a long, segmented tail. It has four wings and two large fangs, and a curved stinger at the end of its tail. The beast is nocturnal, but unfortunately is drawn to investigate torchlight and campfires.
Didn’t want to edit this one too much and spoil the magic. I did raise their Armour Defense a little bit because 08 was super low.
Level: 1, Armour: 16, Morale: 10, Appearing: d10 (+d3 Grimweavers)
Attacks: Stab (d6) followed by Latch (Special)
Grimpet drones are small, spider-like robots with a thick plasteel shell on their backs. They are usually found within ancient ruins, and have a simple goal: to guard their designated area and capture any intruders. They attempt to do this by swarming over their enemies, before latching onto their bodies and emitting a piercing shriek to alert other security drones. Grimpets will not pursue beyond the boundaries of the ruin they guard.
Latch: a latched Grimpet has burrowed its clawed legs deep into the flesh of its foe, and will cling on indefinitely. Afflicted PCs must fill one item slot with a Wound: ‘Grimpet’. While latched to an intruder, the Grimpet emits a horrid wail, which attracts the attention of all monsters within earshot. The Grimpet will resist attempts to prise it off, and requires surgical attention.
Level: 3, Armour: 16, Morale: 10, Appearing: d3 (+d10 Grimpets)
Attacks: Bite (d8) / Web Shot (Entangled + d4 STR drain)
A larger, more powerful cousin of the Grimpet, Grimweavers were created as sentinels for ancient sites. They spit a nanofibre web that can ensnare even the strongest of creatures, immobilising an intruder and draining their strength. They are rarely encountered alone, instead leading swarms of Grimpet drones. Grimweavers will not pursue beyond the boundaries of the ruin they guard.
Entangled: an Entangled creature has an Armour Defence of 09, and cannot move freely. The target must make a DEX save to break free.
A pair of annoying monsters. I see these as security robots, which try to detain would-be thieves. The Grimweavers hang back, spitting STR-draining webs, while the Grimpets swarm you and try to latch on wherever they can, wasting item slots and turning you into a random encounter magnet. This is another set of creatures that you won’t meet during overland journeys; they only inhabit ruins and vaults.
The wailing was inspired by a broken burglar alarm at my new house.
Level: 0 (1 hp), Armour: 14, Morale: 0, Appearing: 2d8
Attacks: Bite (d4)
Diminutive abhumans, which resemble bipedal mole-rats. They dress in hooded robes to shield their hairless scalps from the sun. Gruks are eusocial creatures, dwelling in underground hives of 8d10 individuals. A single fertile Queen bears litters of sterile, short-lived children, who shoulder the work of the hive: digging tunnels, farming fungus, and keeping their mother safe from attack. When the reigning Queen dies the hive splits, the suitors of each newly-fertile Princess striking out across the desert in search of a new home.
Gruks are intelligent, although not very imaginative. They utilise scavenged technology, but cannot learn from what they find. They are born knowing how to make standardised furniture and clothing, and grow uneasy when asked to deviate from these forms. A Gruk would prefer to sleep on the floor than in a bed with an unfamiliar shape.
I didn’t like the idea of doing Skaven-style rat men, but naked mole-rat men seemed to fit Vaarn’s vibe. Discovering that the naked mole-rat is the only mammal which has a eusocial hive structure just made me more interested in them. These creatures don’t really have anything going for them stats-wise, but I can vividly imagine how I’d play out a random encounter with some Gruks.
Level: 3, Armour: 15, Morale: 7, Appearing: d6
Attacks: Bite (d8)
The platonic ideal of a hound, a faithful companion forged from plasteel and synthskin. The Kerberos is designed to bond with one primary user, and will obey their every command. A Kerberos synth is compassionate, intelligent, and devoted: once thought the ideal gift for a nobleborn child.
Sadly the designers of this machine did not consider the effect upon the Kerberos unit when its bonded user died of old age. Grief-stricken packs of synth-hounds wander the blue ruins, howling to the ailing sun and praying for the day their undying bodies fail them. Sometimes the beasts mistake a traveller for their lost master, although the inevitable discovery of their error can drive the synth-dogs into mad fits of rage.
Exotica: an inactive Kerberos, still sealed in its factory packing, can serve as an item of Exotica. If a PC places a single drop of blood on the synth-hound’s tongue, the Kerberos will awaken and bond with them, becoming the PC’s loyal follower for the rest of the campaign.
GPT-3 was so insistent on giving us a robot dog that I felt like I had to do something with the idea, so here’s a synthetic hound that has lost its master and gone insane from grief. Don’t say I never write anything fun for you!
Level: 15, Armour: 30, Morale: 15, Appearing: 1
Attacks: Annihilation Ray (2d10 + 3d6 blast)
A gigantic flying war-synth, armoured with interlocking plates of void-tempered metal. Its multiple sets of wings are powered by a cold fusion reactor, and it emits a powerful beam of concentrated antimatter that can boil solid rock. The creature is geared to fight in the air, in orbit, beneath the waves, or inside a paradoxical pocket dimension with equal ferocity.
These beings are always found dormant, conserving their energy for the apocalypse of all apocalypses, an extrasolar war that never broke out. Some sleep in high-altitude arbors orbiting the Urth, while others slumber upon great hoards of gleaming superconductors, in the deepest lead-lined warvaults beneath Vaarn. A few fools have sought to rouse these giants: none have returned to speak of it.
Enormous: the Void Dragon is so large that PCs can enter its body through coolant vents, if they are able to attach themselves to its carapace as it flies. Finding the Dragon’s core reactor and destroying it will send the creature into a lethal meltdown.
Good luck fighting this thing. I adjusted the damage to make it more consistently dangerous than a d20 beam, although the real challenge is damaging the Dragon through 30 Armour. You either need to burst it down with Gifts, or find some way of getting inside it to attack the core.
The Void Dragon definitely isn’t suitable as a random encounter; it would need to be seeded into a campaign with rumours long before the vault-raiders encountered it.
This might be the last collab I do with GPT-3 for a while as I’ve run out of free access. Attentive readers will also notice I didn’t do anything with the first Kerebos creature or the Frost Hounds from the AI’s original list. I thought we had enough here already, and those entries weren’t sparking much when I sat down to write.
I want to close out this series (for now) by urging others to experiment with the GPT-3 AIs as sources for their own bestiary entries. If you give it a few samples of your own writing, you’ll be amazed at what it can produce from those prompts. I wouldn’t have been able to write half these monster entries in three days without the raw material supplied by the AI. It’s much faster to build upon a half-decent bestiary entry than write completely from scratch.