The Weaver and the Slake Moth...

I was always struck, when reading Perdido Street Station, by the description of the combat between these two entities and how they strove to damage each other on several different dimensional planes at the same time (or similar) I forget the exact wording... I was (and still am) keen to reflect this "epic" combat with some of my own epic level creatures in 4E. I was thinking of stating (or rather describing) the creature concerned as existing in more than one dimension at once and thus (as a game effect) having a proportion of its hit point total resting on the "astral" or other plane and that these "special" hit points can only be damaged by force effects. Thus to kill it the party will have to understand this and use force damage, say, to finish off the last "healing surge" worth of hps or else it rests "unkillable" by normal means. I'm not sure however if there are better ways of reflecting the uniqueness of China Mieville's wondrous creations or, on the other hand, whether I risk unforeseen consequences by adding such a mechanism to 4E....?
 

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Well, its BASICALLY an immunity. No amount of damage of types except the designated one(s) will have any game-significant effect (IE the creature won't die, and everything up to the last hit point means little or nothing, though at least other attacks could BLOODY the thing). There's minor differences, logistically, but that's going to be the net effect. You WILL need to have special damage type X to win. If you don't have it, or you don't grok the puzzle aspect of needing that damage type, then too bad for you sucker!

Now, this isn't necessarily horrible, but you have to provide some way to work this. The PCs need to get some hints about how this special damage type is necessary. Maybe they also get some stuff that will dish out that damage type (it could be consumable for instance if you don't want to give away something really useful later, etc). Let the players do some research, provide some hints in the form of notes, evidence from previous fights with the creature, lore, forshadowing of some kind (IE maybe a prophesy or whatnot). Make THAT interesting, and the gimmick at the end will have served a purpose. The gimmick IN AND OF ITSELF, can be a relatively minor tactical puzzle (required damage type is only melee 1 ranged, gotta get in close, which might not be fun otherwise), etc. Between the two you can work out something that seems reasonably cool. Obviously you want to play up the thematics too, make it creepy and terrifying. The Slake Moth's weird life cycle and way of feeding, and all the lore around it, was what made it interesting. That and the fact that you, as the reader, had more information than the characters, so you were living in suspense about if they would figure it all out.
 

Thanks for your response, I agree that whilst “thematically” this “ability” might be described along the lines of “your mundane damage sources are unable to interact with and thus damage such a creature across all of its multidimensional being”...Technically however it boils down to immunity all except “xyz”, perhaps triggered say on being bloodied...I'd thought to allow force damage as the “xyz” as the party has some small options here and so could, by trial and error perhaps, come up with this option and partly because in 4E force damage seems not to have much that's “special” about it and this would give it an extra bit of “status” (?) Still after reading your response I'm now tempted to take this a bit further, perhaps introducing sub-quests to gain the requisite knowledge...For instance: ”To destroy such such a being fully requires force effects refracted through the prism of [insert implausible name here] or “only radiant energy caste by the light of a full moon can be truly effective against such horrors” etc?
 

Sure, you can make the conditions as special as you want. The thing there is that's all set dressing from a design standpoint, so do what you will with it. That is to say, whatever the damaging conditions are, you're going to allow for them to exist, so it doesn't matter if its just "you must strike the blows with your left hand" or "the killing blow must be delivered by the 7th son of the 7th son on the 3rd Wednesday of the 4th Month as the Moon sets." I agree that Force damage is usually not very special in 4e, so maybe giving it a bit of a purpose, albeit only for a short time, could be fun. Anyway, if its just the last 25% of the beast's hit points that MUST be done by force damage, then in effect its a weak form of resistance to all other types of damage, aside from the absolute requirement to do the last bit with the force damage alone (which could be substantial when dealing with a solo). Its probably not a bad mechanic, the other PCs will still be doing meaningful damage, at least up to a point, and then they can concentrate on assuring the final victory conditions are achieved (by bolstering the guy that can get there, or just standing and being a blocker, debuffing the BBEG, etc).
 

Jhaelen

First Post
Hmm. Wouldn't it be even better to actually allow/require the pcs to cross over into the other dimension to finish the creature off? This could require a successful ritual or skill challenge to pull off.
 

Well, you could take more from the novel being cited as well. Killing the Slake Moth required summoning ANOTHER interdimensional 'horror', and finding out about the existence of that, and how to invoke it, required a considerable amount of skulduggery to happen. I seem to remember that the Weaver was another pet monster of the City's clandestine forces. There was creepiness, intrigue, and violence, all wrapped up in there, along with a good bit of fairly high power magic.
 

I was always struck, when reading Perdido Street Station
Not familiar with the source, but...
by the description of the combat between these two entities and how they strove to damage each other on several different dimensional planes at the same time (or similar) I forget the exact wording...
In a short Epic adventure I ran, I used some of the following:

A battlefield consisting of overlapping, extra-dimensional tunnels of different 'colors' - at intersections, or by teleportation, you could move from one color to another.

Monsters that appeared to be turned inside-out, plastering the room, but were able to attack the PCs 'from the inside.' In that state, all attacks were targeting FORT - and the monsters were Brutes with very high FORT. When the PCs entered the room they felt nauseated - if they chose to give in to that feeling, they could vomit out their internal organs, and enter the dimensional state the monsters were in, and fight then normally, with movement and non-FORT defenses mattering again...

An onion-layered reality in which you could see (and thus teleport) or move 'deeper' into the layers to fight monsters there, but couldn't attack across the layer boundaries.

The final 'boss' was a creature with no qualities in common with PC races except consciousness. When they reached it, each character was pulled into a reality based on their memories, and the boss assumed a form of a terrible foe they'd fought in the past, and took each on individually. Using telepathy or other psychic or psionic powers, the PCs were able to affect eachother's battles or break down the barriers between them to team up against the boss.

... I was (and still am) keen to reflect this "epic" combat with some of my own epic level creatures in 4E.

As Abdul points out, you could handle this with something as simple as an immunity (or, I'd think, Insubstantial) with some way of bypassing it using certain types of powers, special items, and/or as part of a parallel skill challenge. Until you do, the monster could have attack modes that bypass the PCs' defenses or are otherwise nastier as it attacks from dimensions they aren't aware of.
 
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[MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] Sounds both intricate and a little gruesome! lol. Definitely the kind of thing you might finish up a big story arc/tier/campaign with.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
[MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION]Very weird indeed! :)

Also, you really should treat yourself to this book [Perdido Street Station] - it's pretty awesome. I wasn't able to really like the other books I tried from Miéville, which I read after being blown away by Perdido Street Station, but I devoured that one.

It's really something else, I've not come across anything that could be said to be similar really.
 

[MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION]Very weird indeed! :)

Also, you really should treat yourself to this book [Perdido Street Station] - it's pretty awesome. I wasn't able to really like the other books I tried from Miéville, which I read after being blown away by Perdido Street Station, but I devoured that one.

It's really something else, I've not come across anything that could be said to be similar really.

I liked the other 2 books that he's set in that milieu (maybe there's more, I read a bit sporadically these days). They were less gripping, but had interesting stuff in them.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I wasn't able to really like the other books I tried from Miéville, which I read after being blown away by Perdido Street Station, but I devoured that one.
I enjoyed Perdido Street Station a lot, but my favorite novel by him is 'Embassytown'. It's about the power of language and very thought-provoking. It's a completely different kind of novel, though, and doesn't necessarily appeal to fans of his Scar stories.

Perdido was a bit too gloomy for my taste, but it's chock-full with intriguing ideas. It reminded me favourably of Iain Banks' Culture novels which share this quality. Lesser authors don't put that many ideas in a dozen novels.
 

Funny you should mention Iain Banks, sadly missed, he once signed Use of Weapons, I think it was, for me in a Charing Cross book shop... I also agree completely that EmbassyTown is full of great ideas but Perdido Street Station remains, for me, one of his most "accessible" books and perhaps the best (or at least most adaptable) for "gaming fodder" though I want to re-read some of his short stories for more ideas on a dystopian future campaign background...
 

pemerton

Legend
Also, you really should treat yourself to this book [Perdido Street Station] - it's pretty awesome.
I liked the other 2 books that he's set in that milieu (maybe there's more, I read a bit sporadically these days). They were less gripping, but had interesting stuff in them.
I enjoyed Perdido Street Station a lot, but my favorite novel by him is 'Embassytown'.
I also agree completely that EmbassyTown is full of great ideas but Perdido Street Station remains, for me, one of his most "accessible" books and perhaps the best (or at least most adaptable) for "gaming fodder" though I want to re-read some of his short stories for more ideas on a dystopian future campaign background...
I've not read any China Mieville. How prominent is his Marxism in his fiction? I generally think of fantasy as a more conservative (eg JRRT) and/or right-wing (eg REH, HPL) genre.
 

pathfinderq1

First Post
Word on the street is that he isn't a very nice person, errr, in person, as it were. But a lot of other writers aren't very nice people either, so it doesn't shape enjoyment of his writing much. I still read his work (Kraken, for instance, was a good bit of urban fantasy)- but I only get it from the library now, instead of buying.

More to the point, he apparently used to be a gamer, and some of that DOES show through, especially in Perdido (the adventurers, just hungry for gold and experience, who show up for a bit, particularly). At one point, back in the day, there was a Dragon magazine centered around Bas-Lag, with write-ups of some of the creatures/races- I think for either 3e or 3.5. I used to have a copy, but it didn't follow me through the epic moves of the last few years.
 

Word on the street is that he isn't a very nice person, errr, in person, as it were. But a lot of other writers aren't very nice people either, so it doesn't shape enjoyment of his writing much. I still read his work (Kraken, for instance, was a good bit of urban fantasy)- but I only get it from the library now, instead of buying.

More to the point, he apparently used to be a gamer, and some of that DOES show through, especially in Perdido (the adventurers, just hungry for gold and experience, who show up for a bit, particularly). At one point, back in the day, there was a Dragon magazine centered around Bas-Lag, with write-ups of some of the creatures/races- I think for either 3e or 3.5. I used to have a copy, but it didn't follow me through the epic moves of the last few years.

Yeah, its well-known that his whole urban environment is some sort of campaign in origin. As you say, it is actually fairly obvious in his descriptions and some of the characters.

I liked the Kraken too, that was amusing. The floating pirate town was also rather interesting, again it definitely evoked the 'this is an RPG setting' thing.
 

I've not read any China Mieville. How prominent is his Marxism in his fiction? I generally think of fantasy as a more conservative (eg JRRT) and/or right-wing (eg REH, HPL) genre.

I don't recall there being really OVERT Marxism, the bad guys aren't specifically called out for being capitalists for instance, nor are the good guys particularly NOT.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I've not read any China Mieville. How prominent is his Marxism in his fiction?
I had no idea he's connected in any way with Marxism, and to be frank I don't care. So far it wouldn't have occured to me from reading his novels, but that doesn't necessarily say much:

I'm also a fan of Orson Scott Card's novels, even though some of his novels are rather plainly influenced by him being of the Mormon faith. I don't share his views about politics and I especially don't endorse his views about homosexuality, but so far, neither has been a reason for me to avoid his novels. I simply enjoy his extremely well-developed characters too much. Especially his portrayal of believable villains with a rich background and complex motivations is imho, without par.

My all-time favorite author is probably Philip K. Dick. Some of his output is extremely weird, especially his later work, but it doesn't influence my overall opinion much. I don't know how much his novels have been influenced by his political views, but for me this is clearly secondary compared to his thought-provoking reflections on the nature of reality itself.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
I've not read any China Mieville. How prominent is his Marxism in his fiction? I generally think of fantasy as a more conservative (eg JRRT) and/or right-wing (eg REH, HPL) genre.
I read the book a good while ago - so I may have missed it - but nothing political really stuck with me from that book. A crap-ton of weird, confusing, beautiful images and scenery - yes!

On the other hand, the "Train" book (Iron Council) felt a bit more "agenda'ed" - but I didn't finish it, so could really say which camp was pulling ahead as ultimate victor.

I was very strongly into PlaneScape at the time, and Perdido hit that note very strongly - there were harmonics involved in my response to this novel. (I'm not 100% sure what I mean by this - but I pretty sure I'm saying what I mean... I think.)
 

I read the book a good while ago - so I may have missed it - but nothing political really stuck with me from that book. A crap-ton of weird, confusing, beautiful images and scenery - yes!

Well, there's DEFINITELY politics IN it. The government, and a rather nasty one it is, pervades the novel and helps drive the action forward. Though really the government isn't exactly an antagonist, more of a 'force of nature' which kind of touches off the whole story and keeps pressing the action forward at certain points. The antagonist is clearly the Slake Moth itself, though I guess you could read various things into it like that's just a manifestation of greed for power, etc. Even so, its also the govt's Weaver that ends up being the tool to end the problem, so its rather ambiguous. The heroes are genuinely heroes, the bad guys are a little less clear cut.
 


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