Mad scientist NPC

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
"mad scientist".

He's got oppressed Minions, who love and fear him, and who he abuses
terribly. He's got various monsters and horrors locked up in and
around his lab -- not locked up very well, of course; they're going to
break loose once things start shaking. He's got an Ultimate Monster
he's working on (it's a variant of that spell-eating ooze thingy from
MMIII). And he tends to snarl, cackle, and say "FOOLS!" a lot.

I have a plot outline. PCs visit the Mad Scientist's stronghold;
they're coming to warn him that an assassin is after him. (True. What
they don't know is that the assassin is a ghost, but never mind that
now.) They meet and have a chance to interact with the oppressed
Minions (who are actually nice enough, in their monstrous way) and to
tour the lab a little. They meet the MS, who of course sneers at them:
"FOOLS! No pathetic sneak-thief can POSSIBLY interfere with my great
etc. etc."

Then the assassin starts letting the captive horrors loose. Wackiness
ensues, as PCs, minions, and MS scramble to react.

Climactic scene: the MS will capture the assassin. Alas, the ghost
will promptly possess one of the Minions, who will attempt to release
the Ultimate Monster. If the PCs can stop this, they win. They will
get little gratitude from the MS, but a whopping story bonus.

More likely, the UM is released. It will promptly devour the MS, whole
and howling, then ooze out into the night. (It will drop into the
nearest canal, where it will become a recurring menace.) The lab
somehow catches fire (oh, come on... the lab has to catch fire) and the
PCs are left to rescue the Minions and salvage what they can.

(Plot complication: the Ultimate Monster's development is being
financed by a radical splinter group within the local Wizard's Guild,
which wants a Final Solution to the Sorceror Problem. Unfortunately,
the beast is unfinished, and can't yet distinguish between the
different sorts of arcane spellcaster. The MS' answer to this was MORE
POWER, which is not going to work out so well; the final result is CR
14 or so, but more like CR 18 to arcane spellcaster types. The wizards
will not be happy... I digress.)

The MS supports himself by designing monsters for unscrupulous
customers, and has Underdark and even occasional extraplanar contacts.
He lives in a town that's slowly sinking into a swamp. The town was
once a major trading center but lost a war and was annexed by a much
larger city. Its trade was choked off, but it ekes out a living as the
place where you go to do stuff that's illegal in Big Town.

So, I have a scenario. While some parts of it are worked out in
detail, some are not, and I welcome suggestions.


1) The MS is a wizard with a few rogue levels (both for the skill
ranks, and because he used to work with the Assassin's Guild.) Assume
a wizard who can cast up to 6th level spells. What sorts of things
would he have lying around his lab?

2) I have a couple of Captive Horrors worked out already, but there's
always room for more. Note that the MS is around Rog 2/Wiz 11, while
the PCs are 7th-9th level. So things that are around EL 5-9 seem about
right. What sorts of things would be different and interesting?
Potential plot hooks are welcome, BTW.

3) Key to the scenario is that the MS, though powerful, is fragile...
he's old, has a low Con, and less than 20 hp. I have to keep him alive
long enough for the climactic scene. In particular, I have to keep the
PCs from losing their temper and attacking -- they're good, and he's
flagrantly and obnoxiously evil -- and I have to plausibly prevent the
assassin from killing him, even though he's going to be trying really
hard.

Suggestions welcome. Thanks!


Waldo
15 answers Last reply
More about scientist
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    On 4 Jun 2005 14:45:43 -0700, "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote:

    >1) The MS is a wizard with a few rogue levels (both for the skill
    >ranks, and because he used to work with the Assassin's Guild.) Assume
    >a wizard who can cast up to 6th level spells. What sorts of things
    >would he have lying around his lab?

    Various body parts of various creatures - things ranging from "eye of
    newt" up to "leg of demon" and such.

    >2) I have a couple of Captive Horrors worked out already, but there's
    >always room for more. Note that the MS is around Rog 2/Wiz 11, while
    >the PCs are 7th-9th level. So things that are around EL 5-9 seem about
    >right. What sorts of things would be different and interesting?
    >Potential plot hooks are welcome, BTW.

    The Captive Horrors were all created from living people; the PCs
    recognize some of them.

    >3) Key to the scenario is that the MS, though powerful, is fragile...
    >he's old, has a low Con, and less than 20 hp. I have to keep him alive
    >long enough for the climactic scene. In particular, I have to keep the
    >PCs from losing their temper and attacking -- they're good, and he's
    >flagrantly and obnoxiously evil -- and I have to plausibly prevent the
    >assassin from killing him, even though he's going to be trying really
    >hard.

    The MS has some sort of magical dead man's switch implanted inside
    himself that activates something really nasty. The only way to get the
    switch out of him is to kill him. Any attempt to remove it will set it
    off. The PCs are aware of all of this.
    --
    auric underscore underscore at hotmail dot com
    *****
    A reasonable penny would assume that the control came from its own will,
    influenced perhaps by God's will, assuming it were a religious penny.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote in
    news:1117921543.050668.14750@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

    > My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a
    > classic "mad scientist".

    You know, I'd forget arcane levels and go for Druid levels. Make him
    CE or NE and create a 'Perverted Druid' prestige class. After all,
    he's creating perversions of nature.
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Quentin Stephens wrote:

    > You know, I'd forget arcane levels and go for Druid levels. Make him
    > CE or NE and create a 'Perverted Druid' prestige class. After all,
    > he's creating perversions of nature.

    Good thought, but it doesn't quite fit the milieu. (N.B., there aren't
    enough good "Druid Gone Bad" PrCs.)

    Besides, I'm playing this guy as, well, classic. My Life With Master,
    kinda thing.


    Then Auric wrote:

    > The Captive Horrors were all created from living people; the PCs
    > recognize some of them.

    That's a bit more Grand Guignol than I'm aiming for. I want the CHs to
    be scary, threatening, and interesting. Not necessarily gross-out,
    though (and I've got the sad/sympathetic aspect already covered with
    the Minions.)

    I'd also like to get a "what the hell /is/ that thing" reaction at
    least once. Preferably with something that's legitimately found in the
    MM!


    Waldo
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Waldo wrote:

    > 1) The MS is a wizard with a few rogue levels (both for the skill
    > ranks, and because he used to work with the Assassin's Guild.) Assume
    > a wizard who can cast up to 6th level spells. What sorts of things
    > would he have lying around his lab?

    You might want to check out "Chaositech", and have the MS be a
    Chaositechnician. Chaos-shaped creatures, mutants, and creatures
    "enhanced" with chaositech items and surgery could work very well. And
    he wouldn't even need any wizard levels -- he could even be an Expert
    and qualify for the PrC (and surely the assassin's guild has use for
    Expert contacts).

    The PCs in the game I run recently captured just such a mutant skaven
    chaositechnician of Clan Moulder. Good stuff.


    > 2) I have a couple of Captive Horrors worked out already, but there's
    > always room for more. Note that the MS is around Rog 2/Wiz 11, while
    > the PCs are 7th-9th level. So things that are around EL 5-9 seem about
    > right. What sorts of things would be different and interesting?
    > Potential plot hooks are welcome, BTW.
    >
    > 3) Key to the scenario is that the MS, though powerful, is fragile...
    > he's old, has a low Con, and less than 20 hp. I have to keep him alive
    > long enough for the climactic scene. In particular, I have to keep the
    > PCs from losing their temper and attacking -- they're good, and he's
    > flagrantly and obnoxiously evil -- and I have to plausibly prevent the
    > assassin from killing him, even though he's going to be trying really
    > hard.

    He's a mutant with weird anatomy and therefore immune to sneak attacks
    and has a strong bonus to his saves vs. poison. The assassin doesn't
    realize this at first.

    - Ron ^*^
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Waldo wrote:

    >
    > Quentin Stephens wrote:
    >
    >
    >>You know, I'd forget arcane levels and go for Druid levels. Make him
    >>CE or NE and create a 'Perverted Druid' prestige class. After all,
    >>he's creating perversions of nature.
    >
    >
    > Good thought, but it doesn't quite fit the milieu. (N.B., there aren't
    > enough good "Druid Gone Bad" PrCs.)
    >
    > Besides, I'm playing this guy as, well, classic. My Life With Master,
    > kinda thing.
    >
    >
    >
    > Then Auric wrote:
    >
    >
    >>The Captive Horrors were all created from living people; the PCs
    >>recognize some of them.
    >
    >
    > That's a bit more Grand Guignol than I'm aiming for. I want the CHs to
    > be scary, threatening, and interesting. Not necessarily gross-out,
    > though (and I've got the sad/sympathetic aspect already covered with
    > the Minions.)
    >
    > I'd also like to get a "what the hell /is/ that thing" reaction at
    > least once. Preferably with something that's legitimately found in the
    > MM!

    Chaos-shaped Chaos Beasts...?

    In their recent foray into Clan Moulder territory, my PCs encountered
    rat swarms, mutant rat swarms, dire rats, advanced dire rats, advanced
    mutant dire rats, horrid rats (Eberron), an advanced mutant horrid rat,
    slime moles (Darwin's World), rat ogres, an advanced chaos-shaped rat
    ogre, an advanced mutant two-headed rat ogre, and probably one or two
    monstrosities I'm not remembering right now.

    Chaositech is definitely the way to go if you are running Clan Moulder
    in D&D. Clan Skryre as well.

    - Ron ^*^
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    In article <1117921543.050668.14750@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
    peggoliathy@yahoo.com says...

    > My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
    > "mad scientist".

    Have you seen the fleshwarper PrC from Lords of Madness? It's a wizard
    who's into grafting various monster parts onto himself and others.

    While your mad scientist might not like experimenting on himself, you
    might tweak abilities that really require that (I'm not sure if there
    are any?)...

    It's might be a neat way to have goblin servitors with tentacles, dogs
    that fly and spit acid, that kind of stuff.

    Otherwise, aberrations in general are appropriate as a mad scientist's
    experiments. Hook horrors, chuuls, carrion crawlers, gibbering
    mouthers... Also all oozes and all "hybrid" creatures like the owlbear
    (excepting those with a strong mythological background, like centaurs or
    griffons).


    --
    Jasin Zujovic
    jzujovic@inet.hr
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    On 5 Jun 2005 04:37:58 -0700, "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote:

    >Then Auric wrote:
    >
    >> The Captive Horrors were all created from living people; the PCs
    >> recognize some of them.
    >
    >That's a bit more Grand Guignol than I'm aiming for. I want the CHs to
    >be scary, threatening, and interesting. Not necessarily gross-out,
    >though (and I've got the sad/sympathetic aspect already covered with
    >the Minions.)

    I was thinking more along the lines of horror, although you might get
    some "interesting" reactions from the PCs:
    - Look, what's that?
    - It's a bunch of... things...!
    - Wait, some of them almost look like... people!
    - What? No, I don't think... MOM?!?!
    <g>

    >I'd also like to get a "what the hell /is/ that thing" reaction at
    >least once. Preferably with something that's legitimately found in the
    >MM!

    Instead, how about "what the hell has been *done* to them?" A mad
    scientist might try to create monstrosities from scratch; an *evil* mad
    scientist might view people as raw materials, or at least as a good
    starting point. After all, the hard part - bringing them to life - has
    already been handled by someone else.
    --
    auric underscore underscore at hotmail dot com
    *****
    You may now log in to life. Password:
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote in
    news:1117971478.864686.274160@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

    >> You know, I'd forget arcane levels and go for Druid levels.
    >> Make him CE or NE and create a 'Perverted Druid' prestige
    >> class. After all, he's creating perversions of nature.
    >
    > Good thought, but it doesn't quite fit the milieu. (N.B., there
    > aren't enough good "Druid Gone Bad" PrCs.)

    OK then how about digging out some old copies of Imagine? IIRC there
    was an issue about this sort of thing which would be right up your
    street. Come to think of it, the spells in the articles would be in
    the Encyclopaedia of spells that TSR put out.
  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote in
    news:1117971478.864686.274160@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:

    > I'd also like to get a "what the hell /is/ that thing" reaction
    > at least once. Preferably with something that's legitimately
    > found in the MM!

    Then you might want to look at monsters like the chimera,
    thessalmera, thessalhydra, gorgimera, et al.

    Just a thought, but you might want him to have created some useful
    monsters as well: perhaps he's created hippogriffs?

    Going further, perhaps he's done a Saruman and created his own race
    of intelligent servitors, only they're not necessarily evil, giving
    the PCs a dilemma: do they slaughter them because they're monsters,
    or let them live?
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Waldo <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >
    > I'd also like to get a "what the hell /is/ that thing"

    To the pain!

    > reaction at least once.


    Keith
    --
    Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
    keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
    keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
    http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Quentin Stephens wrote:
    >
    <snip Return to the Island of Doctor Moreau>
    >
    > OK then how about digging out some old copies of Imagine? IIRC there
    > was an issue about this sort of thing which would be right up your
    > street. Come to think of it, the spells in the articles would be in
    > the Encyclopaedia of spells that TSR put out.

    It was Imagine magazine #21, and the article was "Monsters, Magic and
    Menageries" (pp. 42-45).

    The spells were:

    Age Animal
    Animal Magnetism
    Clone Animal
    Distort Life I
    Distort Life II
    Distort Life III
    Hasten Growth
    Opening the Living
    Revelation of Auras
    Ritual of Twaining

    All of these spells except for Ritual of Twaining can be found in this
    file:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20031002101225/http://www.fangclan.org/Wizspell.txt


    Arivne
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Waldo <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> wrote:
    >
    > My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
    > "mad scientist".
    >
    > He's got oppressed Minions, who love and fear him, and who he abuses
    > terribly. He's got various monsters and horrors locked up in and
    > around his lab -- not locked up very well, of course; they're going to
    > break loose once things start shaking. He's got an Ultimate Monster
    > he's working on (it's a variant of that spell-eating ooze thingy from
    > MMIII). And he tends to snarl, cackle, and say "FOOLS!" a lot.

    Ooh! I wish I was in that campaign. Some cliches are just too good
    not to use.

    > 3) Key to the scenario is that the MS, though powerful, is fragile...
    > he's old, has a low Con, and less than 20 hp. I have to keep him alive
    > long enough for the climactic scene. In particular, I have to keep the
    > PCs from losing their temper and attacking -- they're good, and he's
    > flagrantly and obnoxiously evil -- and I have to plausibly prevent the
    > assassin from killing him, even though he's going to be trying really
    > hard.

    Perhaps he has a dim but incredibly strong and loyal servant who would
    gladly crush the PCs if they try to harm his master, and will therefore
    be the first to be devoured by the Ultimate Monster. Would also be a
    nice warning that the UM is really not to be messed with.


    mcv.
  13. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Behold! for "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> spake unto the multitude
    thus:

    >My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
    >"mad scientist".

    This looks awsome fun, BTW.
    snip

    >1) The MS is a wizard with a few rogue levels (both for the skill
    >ranks, and because he used to work with the Assassin's Guild.) Assume
    >a wizard who can cast up to 6th level spells. What sorts of things
    >would he have lying around his lab?

    The 1e DMG was great for this, listing all the suitable dungeon
    dressing you could want (alembics, retorts, thuribles, bookstands,
    etc).

    Otherwise:
    * Big pentagram on the floor
    * cliche black tallow candles and stuff
    * cabinet of material components
    * cabinet of Eye of Newt
    * surgical equipment
    * assorted books and scrolls of Ancient Wisdom and Things Man Was Not
    Meant To Know
    * forge
    * fire-and-acid resistant gloves, goggles and/or apron
    * self-operating bellows (or maybe operated by purpose-build
    strong-but-stupid Creature)
    * Masterwork alchemical gear and tools
    * Reagents (some of which can be used in combat, eg pots of strong
    acid, poisons, alchemists fire, antitoxin,
    * Wands of Prestidigitation and Unseen Servant
    * Spare spellbook of useful stuff
    * Cabinet of Spare Parts (limbs, heads, eyes, etc), some of which are
    already alive / animated, as per the other Horrors. The door is not
    very securely closed, and will come open if it gets bumped (as it
    will). So the Spare Parts will come out and get in the way. The UM
    might assimilate them. Or the assassin might possess one of them,
    going almost unnoticed until it fumbles at the UM's cage.
    * Big vat of slime (spare material for UM. If the UM gets to it, it
    grows...)
    * Big bin of rejected parts
    * Decanter of Endless Water or equivalent plumbing
    * Rejected creation(s) locked up but alive, for future recycling

    >2) I have a couple of Captive Horrors worked out already, but there's
    >always room for more. Note that the MS is around Rog 2/Wiz 11, while
    >the PCs are 7th-9th level. So things that are around EL 5-9 seem about
    >right. What sorts of things would be different and interesting?

    A Homunculus is a useful and easy assistant of the right genre, and
    will need protection (if it's killed, the MS takes 2d10 hp damage).

    Flesh golems are the obvious thing, perhaps as prototypes for the
    magic immunity of the UM. Build them out of assorted nonhuman parts
    for variety. Likewise half-golems.

    More oozy prototypes, though I'm not sure what good these are as
    servants.

    >Potential plot hooks are welcome, BTW.

    One of the Horrors has the Brain of a Little Old Man (tm), and he
    spouts Rumours (tm) which the PCs get to hear as the MS is showing
    them around his wondrous creations. He's otherwise quite mad and in
    the body of a 6-legged carthorse. As the MS boasts: "Better traction
    for pulling wagons. More intelligent too so doesn't need a driver.
    Very efficient. It's the way of the future. You wait, in five years
    everyone will want one. It even breathes fire to keep the camp warm at
    night and frighten the wolves away, as well as telling old stories."

    Or for added pathos, it has the brain of a Cute Little Girl who wants
    her rag doll.

    For added Plot, one of the monster's legs has a unique tattoo marking
    it as that of the Mysteriously Kidnapped Crown Prince. It could be
    recovered and resurrected, for a huge ransom. Of course the UM might
    eat it instead.

    >3) Key to the scenario is that the MS, though powerful, is fragile...
    >he's old, has a low Con, and less than 20 hp. I have to keep him alive
    >long enough for the climactic scene. In particular, I have to keep the
    >PCs from losing their temper and attacking -- they're good, and he's
    >flagrantly and obnoxiously evil -- and I have to plausibly prevent the
    >assassin from killing him, even though he's going to be trying really
    >hard.

    This is fairly easy. Stoneskin, Protection from Energy, Mirror Image
    or some other appropriate buff should do it. After all, you're driving
    the attacker so you get to pick the right buff. Otherwise Gaseous
    Form, Blink, Dim Door, Bigby's Hands or similar defence should keep
    the assassin away for long enough.


    --
    Jim or Sarah Davies, but probably Jim

    D&D and Star Fleet Battles stuff on http://www.aaargh.org
  14. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Jim Davies wrote:
    > Behold! for "Waldo" <peggoliathy@yahoo.com> spake unto the multitude
    > thus:
    >
    >
    >>My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
    >>"mad scientist".
    >
    >
    > This looks awsome fun, BTW.
    > snip
    >
    >
    >>1) The MS is a wizard with a few rogue levels (both for the skill
    >>ranks, and because he used to work with the Assassin's Guild.) Assume
    >>a wizard who can cast up to 6th level spells. What sorts of things
    >>would he have lying around his lab?
    >
    >
    > The 1e DMG was great for this, listing all the suitable dungeon
    > dressing you could want (alembics, retorts, thuribles, bookstands,
    > etc).
    >
    > Otherwise:
    > * Big pentagram on the floor
    > * cliche black tallow candles and stuff
    > * cabinet of material components
    > * cabinet of Eye of Newt
    > * surgical equipment
    > * assorted books and scrolls of Ancient Wisdom and Things Man Was Not
    > Meant To Know
    > * forge
    > * fire-and-acid resistant gloves, goggles and/or apron
    > * self-operating bellows (or maybe operated by purpose-build
    > strong-but-stupid Creature)
    > * Masterwork alchemical gear and tools
    > * Reagents (some of which can be used in combat, eg pots of strong
    > acid, poisons, alchemists fire, antitoxin,
    > * Wands of Prestidigitation and Unseen Servant
    > * Spare spellbook of useful stuff
    > * Cabinet of Spare Parts (limbs, heads, eyes, etc), some of which are
    > already alive / animated, as per the other Horrors. The door is not
    > very securely closed, and will come open if it gets bumped (as it
    > will). So the Spare Parts will come out and get in the way. The UM
    > might assimilate them. Or the assassin might possess one of them,
    > going almost unnoticed until it fumbles at the UM's cage.
    > * Big vat of slime (spare material for UM. If the UM gets to it, it
    > grows...)
    > * Big bin of rejected parts
    > * Decanter of Endless Water or equivalent plumbing
    > * Rejected creation(s) locked up but alive, for future recycling

    * Warpstone

    - Ron ^*^
  15. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    peggoliathy@yahoo.com wrote:

    >My PCs are about to visit a powerful NPC who is, simply put, a classic
    >"mad scientist".

    "What is a 'scientist' and what is 'science'? Is it a new type of
    alchemy or astrology?"
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