Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #8: Flowers for the Dead

A tribute I saw on the beach this morning. 

It is a common tradition for people to leave flowers at the beach for loved ones they have lost. In most cases the flowers wash out to sea with the mourners’ tears and that’s the end of it. Sometimes, though, that’s just the beginning.

     If the person who passed was deeply associated with the ocean, then part of their spirit will be tethered to the wind and waves. If the person mourning their loss has a good and decent heart, then the leaving of flowers acts as an important - and magical - ritual. On the night of the full moon the living can go to the water’s edge and see their lost love’s face reflected on the moonlit waves and hear their voice dancing on the sea spray. A few brief phrases of communication are even possible. 

     The sea also holds wicked spirits, so beware. Those malevolent forces also wait for people to come to the edge of the ocean to speak to the departed. If the the living are of wicked disposition and never truly loved the deceased, an evil spirit might pose as them. The spirit will whisper and cajole and manipulate all in an attempt to sew ruin. In some cases, the spirit might entice the living to swim into the water where they can be drowned for fun. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #7: Thank You Gift

 Some fishermen believe strongly in catch and release, the idea of letting fish go so that they might grow and reproduce. This is a vital strategy in maintaining the health of a fishery in the face of horrific pollution and overfishing from less scrupulous anglers. 

     On occasion a fish will express its gratitude at being released. After being put back into the water it will swim to a nearby shipwreck where it will sift through the hull looking for something shiny that humans seem to adore. It will then take that object into its mouth and spit it out in shallow water. By some strange mechanism, the tide and current will ensure that the boon makes it onto the beach where only the intended angler will find it it the next time he or she is on the shore. 

     The chance of this happening is slight, only happening on a 1 on a 1d10. The value of the object can vary from a single gold piece to a small, 100 gp value gem. Roll 1d100 to determine the value. 

I hope the halibut I released today pukes a diamond up on the beach for me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #6: Fishing Cottage

The fishing cottage features a secure place to store a skiff. It also has a small bedroom and a fireplace. Perfect for those cool evenings after a long day on the water. The owner of the cottage, Gunnar Helgason, is alarmed by curious tracks left in the ground around the cottage. They are man-sized, but appear to be made by webbed feet. Gunnar knows that Sahuagin (<- click) once lurked in the waters nearby. He dearly hopes that these prints - if made by the loathsome fishmen - were made by a group that was simply passing through the area. If they have come to stay, things could very well get dangerous. Perhaps he needs to hire a few stout lads to look after the place when is away. Are you up for the job?

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #5: Good Karma

Given the often hazardous nature of life at the beach, it's important to curry favor with the powers that be. Being spiritually aligned with the ocean and gathering good karma can be critical when faced with Pacific Pummelers, carnivorous sand crabs or while crawling down drainage pipes. Below are three ways that an intrepid waterman can put some good will in the bank.

Doggos of Good Omen
     Fortunately dogs and the beach go together like chocolate and peanut butter. They love to run up and down the beach, frolicking and splashing. It is a simple truth that no one has a better time at the beach than dogs. If a PC is at the beach and is approached by a dog, the PC should roll a d20. If the PC rolls under their Charisma score, the dog bestows a bit of luck upon the character.

     This luck comes in the form of an Invisibility spell that allows the PC to blend into the background to avoid detection by enemies. This Invisibility ONLY allows the PC to blend into the background, going unnoticed. It does not allow the PC to become invisible for the purpose of launching a sneak attack. It's more of a "Please don't let the corrupt Department of Fish and Wildlife officer notice me."

Gathering Trash
     Single use plastics are going to destroy the ocean someday. And if the wound isn't fatal, it's going to be a critical hit at the very least. If a steward of nature picks up trash - and it only takes about 20 minutes to gather a massive pile - they will be rewarded with a +2 modifier that can be applied to any roll. This modifier expires after 24 hours. Trash can be gathered each day to earn the modifier. Picking up trash may also lead to interesting NPC encounters or adventure seeds via curious found objects.
Lucky Shells and Rocks
    For those willing to spend the time, the beach can yield all kinds of interesting shells, sea glass and curious rocks. If a PC dedicates 15-20 minutes each day for one week to gather a personal collection of objects, the resulting objects will convey a boon. The boon takes the form of a +1 to AC that is permanent as long as the character is in possession of his or her collection. The collection cannot be conferred upon another character or NPC due to its deeply personal nature.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #4: Free Candy

Along Sunset Point in the Pacific Palisades is a drain pipe that comes down from the bluffs. One has to climb up the rocks to access the pipe and the "free candy" within. Wild rumors circulate among the surfers, fisherman and homeless as to exactly what lies deep in the storm drain. There is - of course - only one way to find out.

     For those brave - or stupid - enough to climb in, roll on the table below.

Free Candy
Roll 1d10

1. Tetanus shot: Lots of cuts and scrapes from broken glass. Better get some bactine. What a waste of time.

2. Free Candy: The stripper clown at the end of the tunnel offers a bag of Gummy Bears as well as other delights that require a shot of penicillin.

3. Loko Time: That can of Four Loko looks too good to resist. After chugging it, 1d6 days pass before the PC emerges. Caffeine, alcohol and sewage are a heck of a mix.

4. Needles: Needles. So many hypodermic needles. The intrepid explorer emerges covered in needles. He/she looks like a nightmare porcupine. 1d4+2 hit points of damage result.

5. Deep Wisdom: A severed chicken head, the victim of crazed cultists, levitates in the darkness. It whispers secrets dark and deep. The character's Wisdom increases by 1.

6. Magick Wax: For the lucky surfer who climbs into the muck tube, a magic bar of surf wax awaits. As long as this stick of wax lasts, the surfer who uses it on his board will enjoy perfect waves every session.

7. The Perfect Lure: A fishing lure glows softly in the dark. It will always catch at least one fish every time it is used. Like all lures, it is prone to being lost due to snags or faulty knot tying.

8. Fillet Knife: In the muck and mire lies a fillet knife that is crazy sharp. Not only does it fillet fish, it's effective at filleting humans. Treat it as a dagger that is +2 to hit and damage (1d4+2 damage).

     Surf fishing report from where the fish lead their secret lives. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #3: The Halibut Bushwhackers

flat boi
Pacific halibut are a highly prized gamefish due to their fantastic taste. They can be caught from the beach and have been known to lie on the sandy bottom less that 30' from shore. A legal size halibut in California is 22", which is about four pounds. After being filleted, the resulting three pounds of meat goes for about $30 per pound, or $90. Not bad. 

     In Los Angeles the homeless population is growing at an alarming rate, with many finding their way to the beaches. While most are down on their luck, harmless individuals, others are less so. A halibut is a tasty meal that can be easily monetized, so some felonious characters have taken to lying in wait for lone fisherman with a stringer of thick halibut. After a flurry of blows, the fisherman yields his catch and the rogues slip away into the night. 

     The battle mat at right can be downloaded and printed out on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. It is combat ready with stats on the bottom. Place your lone surf fisherman on the mat near the water's edge, with the pacific pummelers behind the wall and jetty.

     The combat need not be fatal. No one needs to die over a fish. Some rogues might be aware that fisherman must carry their license along with ID. An ID is carried in a wallet and a wallet means money. So perhaps the pummelers will try to snag a wallet in addition to a meal.

In this photo, the jetty and wall can be seen in the lower right. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #2: The Wild Eyed Cultists of Pacific Palisades

I can't stand finding this kind of thing in the morning. So disgusting!

The beach below Castellammare Street in Pacific Palisades is a veritable freak fest. Besides the carnivorous sand crabs, there are lots of homeless encampments, angry drivers and loads of trash. All of these unpleasant things sit just below multi-million dollar homes. The current state of affairs is rather sad for a stretch of beach that was once the finish line to the Olympic road race in 1932.
The beach is lousy with fruit offerings.

     A rather ugly practice going on late at night is the sacrifice of chickens and offerings of fruit and incense for some unknown - but certainly malevolent - purpose. It's not uncommon to find fruit and headless poultry strewn about the beach in the early hours.

     The perpetrators have never been apprehended and to be honest, local police are not all that interested in investigating. The massive growth of the homeless population along Pacific Coast Highway is keeping law enforcement quite busy.

     Were one to stumble upon one of these wicked celebration late at night, the statistics of the perpetrators might be as follows:

Wild Eyed Cultists: No. Appearing 1d4+4, Armor Class 10, Hit Dice 1d8, Hit Points 5, Attacks 1, Damage 1d4 (knife), Move 30', XP Value 50, Treasure d20 dollars in purse of wallet, cell phone, credit card, jewelry worth d100 dollars.

Cult Leader: Armor Class 12 (Dex bonus), Hit Dice 2d8, Hit Points 9, Attacks 3, Damage 1d6 (9mm pistol), Move 30,' Special: Can cast Cause Light Wounds, Curse and Purify Food and Drink, XP Value 250, Treasure: 2d20 dollars, cell phone, credit card and 2d100 dollars in jewelry. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Secret Lives of Fish #1: Sand Crabs!

Okay, who was ever afraid of sand crabs? Easy answer. No one. They are fun to dig up and in summer there are gazillions of them. They make great bait and birds love them, too. All of this is not helpful - at all - for gaming.

     However, through the lens of our rpg googly goggles we can imagine a more dire situation. Since I spend a lot of time on Los Angeles beaches, I'm aware of all the filth, muck and oceanic herpes that continually bathe the sandy beaches where sand crabs live and burrow. Combine pollution with a full moon or some other foul magick and poof! Sand crabs swarms that are all too eager to add man flesh to their diet.

     Anyone wandering into a 10' x 10' stretch of wet sand will provoke a sand crab swarm. The beasts are voracious and attack in maddening numbers. The attack is unrelenting as flesh is quickly peeled from limbs to reveal muscle, tendon and bone. Stats below.

Sand Crab Swarm: Armor Class 14, Hit Dice 3d8, Hit Points 13, Attacks 1 bite at +2 to hit, Damage 1d6, Move 5' (crawl) or 10' (burrow), XP Value 100, Treasure none, Special: The swarm is immune to sleep and charm effects. Lightning attacks are quite effective and do double damage to the swarm. The swarm can occupy the same space as its target(s). Since the swarm can occupy a 10' x 10' area, it can attack up to four targets at the same time, assuming there are four targets in each 5' square.
     I see quite a few of the non-murderous variety of sand crabs at the beach. Below is a vid I made of this morning's outing. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Legends of Gath #66; Vaxx or Die

Destination unknown is vaccinated. Anything beyond that just leaves me, the skellie boyz, the slobbering godless mutants and Turtleneck Joe squinting in confusion. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Legends of Gath #65; Try Not To Self-Immolate

I drew this one a while back when idiots were filling plastic bags with gasoline during a short term gas shortage back east. We are more than 18 months out since I started this series and I have less hope for the country now than I did then. Oh well.