Runequest Thursday #57 - A Scorpionid Raiding Party!

Clint Staples

This party is definitely of the kind that you want to leave before it gets out of hand. Scorpionmen, in Runequest, have always been the epitome of bad news - the are pretty much anathema to sentient life, consuming anything that is not them. They have no allies beyond other horrific creatures of chaos. As creatures of chaos themselves, their already horrific bodies are subject to the ravages of chaos as well. And to top all of that off, they have poisonous stingers.

One other little thing about scorpionmen, at least as written in the description of the Bagog cult, in the classic Runequest publication 'Cults of Terror'. They can actually learn from the things they consume. Yup, if they eat you, they could get smarter, even learn some of your magic, or gain knowledge or information you had - you know, back when you were alive, and not eaten.

Having just written the above, I am actually a little surprised that I have not written up a scorpionid raiding party before now. Now in my Brightwater campaign, the players encountered scorpionids in their very first adventure, when they ventured into The Big Rubble searching for the ruins of the Sun Dome Temple there. But they met a small wandering band of juvenile scorpionids - and killed them pretty handily. What ai have in mind here is a much more significant band of marauding maneaters. Of course their will be a gang of juveniles, because these immature scorpionids make up the majority of any nest. But add to them some mature scorpionids and a couple of true scorpionmen and you have a really bad time in the making.

I want to point out the distinction between scorpionids and scorpionmen. Scorpionmen are the classic centaurlike creatures, with the body and stinger of a scorpion melded to the torso, arms and head of a man. Scorpionids, my own creation, are both more, and less than that. They are humanoid scorpions - chitin-covered, with a stinging poisonous tail. They tend to be more intelligent than true scorpionmen when mature, and, being smaller, they can go places their larger cousins cannot.

Generally, scorpionids do not command nests, because in the cult of Bagog 'Might Makes Right'. The biggest, toughest member is in charge, and probably got hte job by eating the previously biggest and toughest - maybe even retaining their memory and spells. So the usual structure of a raiding party is one or more scorpionmen [the toughest of which is calling the shots], several mature scorpionids, and a bunch of juveniles.

it is worth noting that mature scorpionids and the scorpionman and scorpinwoman will be happiest taking captives of powerful individuals, if they have the chance. They can then take them back to their nest, and ritually consume them, thus gaining power and knowledge from their feast. This is a great outlet for a GM who finds his players overwhekmed and out of their depth. The scorpionfolk can use their stings to damage DEX of their victims to Zero and paralysis, then take them away. Ideally to be rescued by others who were more fortunate. If you have access to Cults of Terror, you can get full details on the Feast of Bagog.

To use these datafiles to the full, it is recommended that you sped some time getting familair with them and how their are laid out.I have noted some of the cool bits, and somparts that might be confusing, below. All told, there are 18 members in this rading party, twelve young, 4 mature scorpionids, a scorpionwoman and a scorpionman. Many have some treasure, suited to the power hungry lives of these creatures. They will use it to the best of their ability.

The juveniles [immature scorpionids] will swarm targets with three or more of their number, attacking with little care for their won safety. They are barely sentient at this stage, and their hunger is everpresent. The datafile is set up to run as many as 12 young.

Mature scorpionids are much tougher and more selective, just as motivated to fight, but will flee if things are going against them. The datafile is for 4 scorpionids, and is color coded to show which spells have been cast and what the effects of their magic are. The Yelloe indicates nids fighting with their claws. The Blue is for those fighting with falxes, curving two handed blades fashioned from cast off chitin. If the scorpionids are caught without magic, they will have to spend time casting to gain the benefit of those spells.

Scorpionmen are larger and the most dangerous, the toughest capable fo driving their stinger through an oak door. They too are more cautious, but all scorpionfolk live brutal, often short, lives, so feeding and growing in power are strong motivators. There are two datafiles, for Abudantus, the leader of this band, and his ambitious and treacherous second, Fulminata.

Abudantus has a Thanatari head, granting him access to the spells and skills, and any knowledge of the Hell Sister who was killed and bound into her own rotting skull. If the head is destroyed Abudantus loses any spells or skills it had. 

Fulminata possesses a bundle of magically preserved leaves from a dryad, which she stole from the Scorpion Queen. Whoever eats the leaves may gain one of the spells listed up to Magnitude 2, if they beat POW 20 in a Contested roll. Fulminata is waiting until her POWer goes up to attempt this.

Some of the mature nids have chaotic features, which hare noted, and their effects, already added in to their profiles. Abudantus has not been so blessed by Bagog. Dulminata has a chaotic feature that makes her venom much more fast acting. Instead of acting over several rounds, it instantly does 1d8 damage to DEX if the Ppotecny contest is a success.

The tactics of Abudantus band is to have the young swarm over obstacles, then over individuals, usually in groups of three young per target. While the young are causing an uproar and soaking up the first response or spells, the mature scorpionids and Abudantus attack, closing to melee range as quickly as possibly. Fulminata remains aloof, using her powerful bow to great effect while she has POW to casts spells, then closing to melee if needed.

The band lives in the lair of the Queen, which can be any cave, cavern or ruin that is cool and relatively dry. Should adventurers defeat Abudantus, survivors will retreat there. The Scorpion Queen is MUCH more terrifying than either Abudantus or Fulminata, and may make any who pursue the remnants of the raiding party sorry for their temerity.