Friday, 23 May 2008

Old Johnny in the Lake - the Crayfish Demigod

I'm going to go ahead and post what I was mulling over while at work yesterday: I bring you the bare bones low down on an adventure location called Old Johnny in the Lake - the Crayfish Demigod.

(This idea first cropped up here, and was elaborated upon by kelvingreen and Milk.)

Old Johnny is a crayfish who has lived in the same lake for millenia, over the course of which he has grown slowly bigger and bigger; he is now roughly the size of a blue whale. The lake is a big and deep one - a Loch Ness or a Lake Champlain - and while Old Johnny used to live close to the shore he is now big and tough enough to roam the murky depths of his watery realm.

The people living around the lake worship Old Johnny as their god. They have worshipped him for so long, and done so in sufficient numbers, that he has actually become a god of sorts; an unthinking, voracious, alien god, but a god all the same. Old Johnny "knows only his own cold hunger" (Milk's line) and unconsciously wills his worshipers to assuage it. They do this by spreading rumours around the neighbouring lands that there are several giant crayfish, ripe for the eating, in their lake - and all are welcome to try to catch them for a small price in gold. Old Johnny then feasts on the unwitting adventurers, fishermen and thrill seekers who are attracted by these rumours.

Old Johnny: Neutral Gargantuan Crayfish
AC: -2
Movement: 6, Swim 12
Hit Dice: 16+6
THAC0: 4
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: 4-24/4-24 (on a natural 19 or 20 on Old Johnny's 'to hit' roll, his claws have severed a limb; roll 1d4 to determine which)

The village itself is situated in an old, abandoned castle by the lakeside. There are around a hundred and fifty permanent inhabitants and worshipers of Old Johnny, forty or so of whom are combatants. They sometimes operate as bandits in the nearby hills, killing wayfarers or capturing them alive in order to feed them to their shellfish master.

Villager: Neutral Evil Human Bandit
AC: 8 (boiled leather)
Movement: 12
Hit Dice: 1+1
THAC0: 19
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 1-6 (spear)

Their current leader is Chief Graham, a tall, thin man with icy green eyes and a pallid complexion. He dominates the rest of the community, calling himself the Voice of The Claws and bullying or cajoling or bribing the other villagers to do Old Johnny's will whenever their faith wavers.

Chief Graham: Lawful Evil Human fighter
AC: 6 (studded leather)
Movement: 12
Hit Dice: 3+1
THAC0: 17
No. of Attacks: 1 or 2
Damage/Attack: 2-7 (spear) or 2-9/2-7 (broad sword and hand axe)

Chief Graham's wife, Lucinda, is the village wise-woman, shaman and priestess of Old Johnny - she guides worship and prayer to the crayfish and also functions as a kind of hedge witch and healer.

Lucinda: Lawful Evil Human Cleric
AC: 10
Movement: 12
Hit Dice: 2+1
THAC0: 18
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 1-4 (club)
Functions as a 3rd level cleric

A picture of Old Johnny's Lake with the abandoned castle in the foreground:

Old Johnny's lake can be part of a mid- or low-level adventure. If the former, the players will face combat with Old Johnny and the villagers; if the latter, it is more likely that the players will be trying to escape with their lives.


  1. Very cool!

    I'm wanting to rename the Voice of God. Something more atmospheric? Voice of the Deep? Voice of the Claw? Voice of the Armoured One? I dunno.

    This is getting yoinked for my Moldvay/Cook/LL game. :)

    - Brian

  2. Yeah, I was trying to think of something else, but couldn't come up with anything suitable. Voice of the Claw would work. Voice of the Shell?

  3. Okay, I went for Voice of the Claws. Not great, but better than the Voice of God.

  4. I like this a lot. The pic adds a nice touch, too. I'll be borrowing this for my sandbox campaign at some point!


  5. Glad you enjoyed it! It's surprising what you can come up with by trawling through the lesser known regions of the various D&D bestiaries. I never would have come up with this idea if I hadn't been reading the Giant Crustacean entry in the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual.

  6. Sweet idea! My Lovecraftian bent is making me want to see these villagers (or more specifically their wise-woman who may be the real brains behind the whole scenarion...her husband is just a convenient enforcer) as stumbling across some kind of necromantic spell that slowly 'unites' them with their god and gradually changes them into crustacean creatures...shambling men with huge claw appendages and eyes beginning to bulge out from growing eye-stalks. They also begin to make more and more frequent trips to the lake to escape the "dry air" and eventually stop returning to the village once their transformation is complete. Of course the village is constantly trying to 'recruit' new people to turn into crab-minions whose minds will be turned using one of the hedge witch's more powerful spells.

    How about 'Voice from the Deep' as the leader's name?

    Just some musings I wanted to post, awesome play setting!

  7. Terry,

    Check out Sham's Spawning Grounds of the Crab-men:

    - Brian

  8. Terry, this bit makes me wonder if you have a spy-cam in my office here.

    shambling men with huge claw appendages and eyes beginning to bulge out from growing eye-stalks.

    Anyway, yeah, Brian showed you the link that might explain my paranoia.

    *checks in air vent for a glowing red light*


  9. Now that's a place where D&D's designers collectively missed a trick: Crayfish men.

  10. camera just synergy I guess. Looks awesome Sham!