Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Cancermancers of Hungry Joe

I DM'ed more of the hellcrawl today, and I thought I'd flesh out Joetown a bit more.

Hungry Joe is the giant floating meat-man the size of a small mountain.

Joetown is the collection of hanging ships and trays beneath him, as well as the mucoid monasteries built atop him.

And Black Bottle is one of the neighborhoods.  It gets its names from the transparent black buboes near Joe's armpit, from which the wizards look out.  Black Bottle is unique--it in the only neighborhood that is inside of Hungry Joe.

by muk1
The Wizards of Black Bottle

They're actually cancermancers.  They tend to the functional side of Hungry Joe.  They're responsible for weaponizing his biology.  They create flesh grafts, harvest useful chemicals from the Joeflesh, and most importantly--create the Little Joes that compose the bulk of Joetown's Navy (the deterrent that keeps the paladins from sacking this little pustule of a town).

I've listed their spells (in the order that they would cast them if attacked), their laboratory, what they sell, and what they want.  New spells are listed at the end, in Appendix A.

Seskerset space hooks, reverse gravity, wandering eye, neoplasma

He's a narrow man with telescopes for eyes.  He doesn't speak from his mouth, but instead a disembodied voice echoes out of his chest sometimes.  He is frantic, gruff, and is constantly forgetting things and then remembering them.  He can be taken advantage of, but only for about 10 seconds before he remembers.

He's also a modular man.  His head can sprout spider legs and wander away.  His torso can sprout wings and fly.  And his legs are fully capable of stalking around and kicking things.

You can probably guess his combat strategy: space hooks followed by reverse gravity to shred the people who were hoping to remain immobile.

His laboratory is guarded by a pair of flesh cubes.  His laboratory has a spiked ceiling.

Flesh Cube
HD 4  HP 8d8  AC none  Atk none
Move 12  Int 10  Mor 7

Since they're 7' tall cubes of flesh, they can't do much except slide around.  They build up a lot of momentum, though, and if they trample you (Dex check to avoid) you'll take 1d12 damage and be knocked prone.  If you have your back against a wall, you take double damage on a failed save and normal damage on a successful one.

Flesh Cubes are energetic servants that tend to over-focus on a single task.  They're naive but not unreasonable.  They shout "Cube!" before every sentence.  Sometimes they substitute the word 'cube' in the place of other nouns for no reason.  It's complicated.

He also manages the liquid zoo.  Troll arms swimminig around in tubes of blue liquid.  A swarm of bats, rendered down and stored as a chest full of 230 tiny ampules of black liquid.  There's a sealed urn filled with brown liquid catoblepas.  Breaking any of these things will cause them to coalesce back into the original animal, but without Seskerset's guidance, they'll slough apart in 1d6+1 rounds.

He wants to make a monster that is powerful enough to wipe out the paladins of Hell.  He will pay top dollar for monster parts.  He'll even shell out a bit of cash for rumors of monsters.  He'll also sell rumors of monsters (with the hopes that you'll bring him back the choice bits).  He knows where the Brinegod lays its eggs, and where Morfean (the dragon demon) sleeps.

With regards to the Little Joes, he's in charge of sales.  If you want to buy a Little Joe (a fleshcrafted submarine), he's the man to talk to.

For Sale
Venom Gland 500gp
Antivenom Gland 500gp
Grabby Tongue 500gp
Transbilicus 1000gp

Venom Gland - Your lymph nodes are taken out; you get -2 to save vs disease.  In their place, you get venom glands.  Your bite is venomous (3d6 damage on a failed Con check, 1d6 damage on a successful one) but since you're still biting with your tiny human mouth, you get -2 to attack with your bite.

Antivenom Gland - You get -2 to save vs disease, and +4 to save vs poison.  If you bite a poisonous creature (-2 to the attack roll), they take 3d8 damage on a failed Con check, 1d8 damage on a successful one.

Grabby Tongue - You talk with a lisp.  Your tongue can shoot out and grab things and pull them back into your mouth (Str 6).  You cannot grab anything larger than a sword, and your grabby tongue can't do anything except pull things into your mouth.  I guess you also spit things pretty far.

Transbilicus - If attached to two creature's belly buttons, the two creatures will switch minds.  This is a trivial surgery, but it is impossible to perform on an unwilling, unrestrained creature.  Unwilling creatures get a Cha save to resist.

Mormoi hand of the hound, handspasm, gust of wind, neoplasma

She weighs 600 lbs and is carried by a living platform made from an enormous crab.  HD 4  AC leather  2xClaws 1d6+hold.  Held opponents are automatically damaged on subsequent turns, and their metal armor is damaged by 1d3 points.

In combat, she uses handspasm + gust of wind to disarm everyone, then blow all their weapons out the door while knocking them prone.

You must climb through a series of greasy bubbles to reach her laboratory.  She is accompanied by 2d6 servitors.  She doesn't have much furniture in her laboratory.  Except for a long workbench, everything is a servitor.  There's chair servitors to sit on.  Carafe servitors that will pour iced tea out of their faces.  Et cetera.

If combat breaks out, the crab will stand up to its (shocking) full height of 10', bringing Mormoi out of melee range.

She is currently manufacturing gas bombs for use against the giant parasites infesting Hungry Joe.  She's made three of them, and has supplies for 3 more.  Once the parasite problem has been dealt with, she'll return to her normal job of procuring shipyard wives for Hungry Joe, and helping Massantus with their installation.


She wants someone to bring her Seskerset, so that she can humiliate him, plant a bomb inside him, extract a tooth, and then control him.  (She needs his vote to override the other cancermancers.  She wants to unmoor Joe from the rocks below and float him somewhere safer.  This is not a terrible idea, but it will be the death of Joetown below.)

For Sale
Gas Bomb 300gp
Macrospike 300gp
Pomegranate Bomb 500gp
Bomb Implant 500gp

Gas Bomb - Explodes on impact.  Poison 1d4 on a save, 3d4 across 3 rounds on a failed save.  30' diameter cloud is as dense as normal fog.  Double damage to insects.

Macrospike - This looks like a short rod of bone, about nine inches long.  Both ends end in a sharp spike, like a tooth.  A red string is tied around its middle.  If the red string is removed, the macrospike suddenly extends to it's full length of 10' permanently, where it basically functions as a 10' pole.  If the macrospike is deployed as a weapon, it deals 1d10 damage on a thrust, or 2d10 if there is a wall behind you for the macrospike to push against.  It pushes as if it had Str 20.

Pomegranate Bomb - Not really a pomegranate.  3d6 damage, 20' radius.  Explodes on impact.  (50% chance of detonating when carrier takes fall damage, unless wrapped in bulky wrappings.)

Bomb Implant - Made from the skull of an infant stuffed with burnt scripture.  Placed inside a restrained creature.  3d6 damage to everything in 20'.  Detonated by crushing one of the restrained creature's teeth. (The simplest method is simply to pop it in your mouth and crush it between your molars; the process makes it softer than you'd think.)

Massantus shrivel, monstrify, corpulate, fuse flesh, neoplasma

Has a glass sphere implanted in her belly, where she has imprisoned her last four pregnancies.  It's basically a fish tank where a quartet of children look out.  They have the size and proportion of fetuses, but it's obvious that they are much older.  Their faces look older, for starters.  They have hair and teeth.

The four children in her belly can, together, cast a single spell each turn as if they were a single wizard.  Their spells: chaos chain, magic missile, sleep.  Her belly has AC chain, HP 4.  If shattered, the four fetus-teenagers spill out and spend the next five minutes painfully dying.  (They will only live if put inside someone where they can connect to their circulatory system.  They could survive in Joe, but Joe's immune system might kill them.)

If combat breaks out, she'll turn some of her fleas into giant fleas, shrivel whoever is pissing her off the most, and then corpulates herself into a huge pile of hard-to-kill beef while her minions finish the party off.

She's in charge of managing the shipyard brides.

Each shipyard bride was once a woman who was married with Hungry Joe and fused with him.  (Similar to how anglerfish do it, except that it's the females who fuse with the male.)  Each of Joe's wives then becomes an organ inside him.  And while Joe is a floating corpus the size of a mountain, each of his wives is large enough to grow a whale inside, which is exactly what they do.

Each bride is about 99% womb.  A lot of that is just the vascularization required to feed the growing ship-fetuses.  In a way, it's almost like uterine russian nesting dolls.  The bride grows inside Joe using a placenta, and inside the bride is another placenta that holds the little Joe.

Tending the brides is a full time job.  It involves a lot of dive suits, long swims through the bride's uterus, and the many poisons required to keep joes rampant biology from reabsorbing his wife and child.  (Joe's body can generously be described as an overgrown garden.)

In a leaden chest, inside her bedworm's stomach, is the liver of the 13th Satan.  (This is the start of a long quest chain.  Putting the liver inside your body will let you regen 1 HP per turn and let you sense the location of the other pieces of the sundered Satan.  It's basically the rod of seven parts plus the hand of Vecna, except you assemble them by replacing all of your body parts and at the end you've basically turned into a balor and there is no scrap of the original character anymore, since the 13th Satan has paved over them entirely.)  Removing the liver from the leaden chest means that it can now be sensed by the other people searching for it (i.e. the other folks with Satan-parts inside them).

All she wants to do is her job.  Grow the Little Joes, sell the Little Joes, and profit.

She'll give you Joe-related quests, such as:

  • One of her customer's is rumored to be abusing their Little Joe.  Go interview the flesh-submarine and find out if its true.  If it is, capture the Little Joe and bring it back here.  Caveat emptor.
  • One of the shipyard brides is (understandably) depressed about her lot in life.  Find a way to cheer her up.  Will probably require you to ask her family what her hobbies were before she became a faceless organ inside a flying mountain of flesh.
  • Sell a Little Joe to the King of Worms.  He's rich, and he definitely needs ships to finance his fight against The Sucking Hole.

For Sale
Gun Dog 300gp
Dog Gun 500gp
Scrapling 300gp
Servitor 500gp

Gun Dog - A dog with a cluster of cannons in place of its head.  Fires teeth.  HD 1.  AC leather.  Tooth-bullet 1d10.  Whenever the gun dog fires its head, it explodes on a fumble or near fumble (a 1 or a 2).  Exploding gun dogs deal 1d6 damage to everything in 10' (save for half).

Dog Gun - A weapon made from a dog.  Can limp around at 25% of human speed.  Has a magazine size of four.  Must eat a ration each day.  Regenerates 2 tooth-bullets each day.  Each tooth bullet does 1d12 damage.  Otherwise works like a crossbow.

Scrapling - A stylistic pile of flesh, animated by crude, but energetic, magics.  Whorls of teeth, carefully coiffed spirals of (useless) splayed muscle.  HD 1  AC leather  Flailing 1d6  Move 12  Int 4  Morale 8.  Scraplings will fight to protect you but will take no other action (except perhaps stealing food out of your bags when they're hungry).  Scraplings will stop whatever they're doing in order to craft a corpse into more scraplings.  Human corpses make 1 scrapling; horse corpses make 4 scraplings.  Scraplings hoard crafting materials (cloth, carpentry shit) in order to make the next batch of scraplings.  Whenever your scraplings make more scraplings, they have a X% chance to go feral, where X is equal to the new number of scraplings.  Feral scraplings have an equal chance of running away (50%) or attacking everyone indiscriminately (50%).  Scraplings like to break things, steal things, and draw on things.  If you cannot control your scraplings, you will not be welcome in town.

Servitor - This is basically a baby head fused onto the body of an enormous crab.  They're basically permanent, loyal hirelings, except that they're (a) ultimately loyal to the cancermancers, and (b) if they ever fail a save vs. fear, the crab part starts attacking the baby part. dealing 1d4 damage to itself each turn for the duration of the fear effect.  They don't engage in combat, but they are super adorable.

Lil' crabby cuties.

Festragon wave of mutilation, hemoclasm, burrowing bolt, create homunculus, awaken homunculus with spell, toy homunculus, neoplasma

His arms are actually transplanted arms from a red-skinned giant.  He walks on them.  He former arms have been transplanted on to where her feet used to be.  He has another pair of smaller arms emerging from his belly that he uses to manipulate things.

His combat tactics: wave of mutilation, perhaps a bit of melee, and then finish them off with hemoclasm.

You'll probably find him among his diminutive menagerie, tormenting tiny homunculi versions of his enemies.  He likes to put them in his mouth, taste them, and then spit them back into their shoebox jail cells.

He's in charge of the Little Joe project, and the other three cancermancers obey him only when they cannot unanimously overrule him.  So, it's a loose tyranny.  His closest ally is Massantus.


He wants the party to bring him a live paladin.  He intends to put the paladin into his enormous hookah and smoke him, thereby gaining his knowledge.

He also wants to eat Hungry Joe.

This is not impossible, and it would involve him becoming the next Hungry Joe.  Except, he envisions himself as an avaricious, active, dominant mass of flying city-flesh, not the bovine piece of passive, drooling real estate that Hungry Joe has become.  The first step of this process requires the party retrieving one of the pancreators from inside Hungry Joe (the dungeon part).

He also has a back door in the Hungry Joe dungeon in his quarters somewhere, but he'll never mention it to the party until they've proven themselves loyal.

He also wants good food.  He's trying his best to savor things before he becomes Hungry Festragon.

For Sale
Friendly Tumor - 1000 gp
Infestation Gland - 1000 gp
Hyperpituitary - 1000 gp
Immortal Heart - 1000gp

Friendly Tumor - Your max HP is reduced by 3.  When you would next die from your HP dropping to 0, your cancer buddy dies instead..

Infestation gland - You can basically turn corpses into loyal zombies, except that the resultant creatures are not undead.

Hyperpituitary - You get -4 Con, but your HP total changes as if your Con were 4 points higher instead of lower.  You also grow a foot taller and about 20% beefier.

Immortal Heart: Your current and max HP becomes 50.  Your current HP can never be raised again, except by Festragon.  As far as you're concerned, he's the only source of healing in the universe.

by James Wintle
Appendix A: New Spells

Hahahaha blog posts with appendices.

I've written all the spells in GLOG format, but if you want to convert into something more compatible, just look at the spell, pick what spell level you want it to be, and consult the table below.

Level 1 Spells
[dice] = 1
[sum] = 1d6 per caster level (max 5d6)

Level 2 Spells
[dice] = 3
[sum] = 1d6 per caster level (max 7d6)

Level 3 Spells
[dice] = 5
[sum] = 1d6 per caster level (max 10d6)

Et cetera.

Burrowing Bolt
R: 50'  T. creature  D: permanent
This is basically just a rot grub that you fire out of your outstretched finger.  Have fun.

Chaos Chain
R: 50'  T: creature  D: 0
Target creature takes 1d6 damage of a random type (fire/ice/lightning/acid).  Then a random creature within 50' of it takes 2d6 damage.  Then a random creature within 50' of that creature takes 3d6 damage.  The chain ends whenever it would target the same creature twice (no one is ever hit more than once by this spell).  If all the damage dice show 6s, then the creature also gains a mutation.  Save for half (roll damage with d3s instead of d6s; yes, this makes mutation impossible).  Each die invested in this spell beyond the first causes +1 damage per damage die.

R: touch  T: creature  D: 10 minutes
Creature's current HP and maximum HP is multiplied by 5, up to a maximum of 5 * [sum].  Creature become an immense mountain of immobile, limbless meat.  Creature weighs 2000 lbs per [dice] and takes double fall damage.  Creature can still see and hear normally.  Speech is still possible (in rough gurgles) but spellcasting is impossible.  Alternatively, can be cast on a creature of HD [dice] or less; unwilling creatures get a save.

R: 50'  T: [dice] creatures  D: 1 minute
You control the target's arms.  Save negates.

R: 30' radius  T: creatures  D: 0
All target creatures within 30' of you must save or drop everything that they are holding.  Their arms are paralyzed for [dice] rounds.  Save negates.

Hand of the Hound
R. self  T: one or both hands  D: 10 minutes
Your hand falls off and grows into a monstrous version of itself: HD 3  HP [sum] * 2  AC chain  Atk 1d6+[dice]  Str 16.  You continue to control it, but if it dies, you don't have a hand anymore.  Alternatively, you can have this affect both hands, but then you're just standing there like a doof.

R: 50'  T: 20' radius  D: 0
All creatures take damage equal to their current damage, not exceeding [sum] * 2.  Save negates.  If the caster has a container within arms reach, they can collect about 1 liter of blood for every 3 damage this spell does.  E.g. A 20 HP ogre is down to 12 HP and fails its save against Hemoclasm.  It takes 8 damage.

R: touch  T: vermin  D: 1 minute
Target vermin (rat, scorpion, termite, etc) becomes huge and aggressive.  HD 3  AC leather  Atk 1d10.  You can cast this spell on [dice] vermin simultaneously.  Monstified vermin attack the nearest foe, and casters usually throw the vermin as they cast this spell.  Also works on halflings and goblins for some reason.

R: touch  T: flesh  D: permanent
Creatures that fail their save get cancer.  They lose 1 Con immediately and another each month thereafter.

When cast against synthetic flesh creatures (basically anything that has 'flesh', 'blood', or 'meat' in its name), vatborn (including flab men and thin women), or Hungry Joe, it instead allows you to reshape their tissues (since these things are basically just functionalized cancers).

As a general rule, destroying or paralyzing tissues is simple, while adding new functionality requires a laboratory.  If one die is invested (equivalent to a level 1 spell), you can do things like seal their eyes, close their windpipe.  If three dice are invested (equivalent to a level 2 spell), you can fuse their bones together, reshape their bodies (similar to alter self).

Space Hooks
R: 50'  T: [dice] * 20' diameter  D: 1 minute
All objects in the area are pieced by immobile, invisible 'hooks' that are themselves anchored on the ethereal plane.  The hooks are tangible, and running creatures notice them settling in and can choose to stop running.  (Mindless undead will probably just walk through it, though.)  The hooks deal 1 damage for every foot walked through.  A living creature walking through a zone of space hooks will leave bloody a trail of bloody giblets suspended in the air behind them.

Toy Homunculus
R: touch  T: corpse  D: permanent
You touch a fresh corpse.  It's blood pools and coagulates and creates a tiny version of that creature.  The scaling is a bit wonky: humans end up being about 2" tall, while larger things are never larger than 4" in any dimension.

A toy homunculus is a magical construct, not a real creature.  It usually keeps all of the full monster's abilities, albeit in a tiny, adorable form.  (A toy gorgon cannot petrify anything bigger than a mouse, for example.  A toy dragon can light a pile of sticks on fire, but not much else.)  They retain no memories or spells, but they do retain language skills, basic knowledge, and personality.  This spell creates [dice] homunculus.

R. 50'  T: [dice] creature  D: 1d6 rounds
Save negates.  Target loses half of its current HP and deals damage as if their strength was 6 points lower.  After 1d6 rounds, the lost HP returns.

Wave of Mutilation
R: 30'  T: objects  D: 0
Everything in a 30' cone takes [sum] slashing damage.


  1. Man, there's this book called Gods Demon by a guy named Wayne Barlowe that I think you would love. Google it because he's a painter and did a ton of hell art for the book that is amazing.

    1. God yes! Wayne Barlowe and his vision of Hell fits Arnold so so much!

    2. All of Barlowe's books are amazing. He IS the fantastical/alien biology guy.