Sunday, February 22, 2015

DCC Monster - The Alzabo

Voracious, ghost ridden, carnivorous, and strangely polite - the Alzabo is alien to Severian's Urth of the New Sun.  This is a little more than midway through the Urth of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe; I highly recommend it and it's getting a good deal of traction in the community these days.

Alzabos have the peculiar habit of partially subsuming the personalities of those they eat, on a very rudimentary level. This allows them to speak in the voice of their former victims, ostensibly to gain the confidence of new prey - especially family members who they appear to relish devouring afterward.

It can be quite unnerving to be faced with a wily and canny predator who not only knows your habits, but can also speak with the manner of your father who it ate the day before.  A common Alzabo ruse is to complain of chills or hunger outside the doors of huts and inns, in the hopes that some unsuspecting rube will open the door and allow it free entry.

They are rendered down into a concoction that, when used to embalm the dead, will allow those that consume the cooked flesh of the corpse to know the memories of the deceased.  In this way Severian the Torturer, Lictor of Thrax, came to be haunted by his dead lover's memories.

In the original, they are covered with red fur and have uncannily intelligent eyes.  They are prone to be as honorable as those they have eaten, and to chase down associates and loved ones of previous prey - the Alzabos' ability to acquire memory this way drives them to want community within themselves.

In the DCC Space Dungeon game, I gave them a stout head filled with multi-hinged jaws, razor sharp teeth, scaly green hide, and 4 eyes.  Long, spindly legs for terrifying bursts of speed, the ability to snip off a head in one bite, and crushing mastication that can destroy a helmet in a few moments of pressure.

The Philosopher's Stone Foundation in Fed Station rendered down two Alzabo heads into Potions of Reincarnation.

Alzabo: Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d8+2); AC 15; HD 3d10; MV 40’; Act 1d24; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1; AL Lawful (but malevolent!)

If very badly pressed or wounded, a sapient Alzabo will bargain and parley to avoid imminent death; non-sapient ones are still savvy enough to mimic speech in a convincing and unnerving way.  All who hear an Alzabo use the voice of someone they know must make a DC 13 Will Save or be charmed for 1 turn, acting as it suggests.  The simple mimicry ability still requires a DC 11 Will Save to resist, with a +1 bonus if the victim can see the beast.

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