Thursday, 11 December 2008

Blake in the Dungeon (II)

After a hundred steps I grew aware
Of something crawling in the lane below;
It seemed a wounded creature prostrate there
That sobbed with pangs in making progress slow,
The hind limbs stretched to push, the fore limbs then
To drag; for it would die in its own den.
But coming level with it I discerned
That it had been a man; for at my tread
It stopped in its sore travail and half-turned,
Leaning upon its right, and raised its head,
And with the left hand twitched back as in ire
Long grey unreverend locks befouled with mire.
A haggard filthy face with bloodshot eyes,
An infamy for manhood to behold.

-From City of Dreadful Night by James Thomson

Nebuchadnezzar, the Mad King

Roaming in the wilderness is a thing which was once a man, and not only a man but a king. His name was Nebuchadnezzar, and he was cast out of his throne by the Gods themselves. They doomed him to roam like a beast in the wild, never resting in the same place, until the world's end. Time has rendered him insane; his mind is like that of a frightened and angry ape. But what he did to deserve this punishment has long been forgotten.

Nebuchadnezzar is most often found in the twilight or the early morning, lapping up dew from the grass. Some vestigal instinct of shame seems to terrify him of human contact, and he will quickly flee from any humanoid being. His senses are incredibly keen and he is rarely surprised (only on a roll of 1). However, he can sometimes be tempted by food; he has a special liking for raw animal meat.

Nebuchadnezzar has almost forgotten how to speak, though he mutters to himself continually in isolated phrases of the Chaldean Aramaic tongue. These phrases are usually nonsense. It is said, however, that occasional meaning can be discerned in his ramblings; hints of great secrets from the ancient land which he ruled - like the location and nature of ruins and treasure.

Nebuchadnezzar does not fight unless he is cornered and forced into self defence.

Intelligence: Animal (1)
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 5
Movement: 15
HD: 4+1
THAC0: 15
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-4/1-4 (claws), 1-6 (bite)
Special Attacks: Nebuchadnezzar is infected with rabies, though he does not display the symptoms himself. Anybody who is bitten by him must make a Constitution check with a -3 penalty or be stricken by the disease, which will kill the victim within d3+2 days.
Special Defences: None
Morale: Unsteady (5-7)


  1. It's nifty to see someone else (especially a D&Der) into those visionary and confounding works!I don't even groove on poetry, as a rule.

    At an SF con, I once encountered some notable (name forgotten) who had written a whole novel based on Blake. I guess his long face was warranted, because even I never bought it.

  2. An insane, immortal king of a long forgotten land, cursed by the gods to wander alone. ..

    I want to get my PCs to find a lost bauble, but they have to find and cure this legendary, rumoured figure, and cure him, defying the will of the gods, to find the final clue to the location of the lost thingy, which may start an ancient war all over again, and lead to the fall of the current empire in the same way. And any other Gonzo outcomes I can think of.

    Keep mining the literature for plebs like me to steal.

    Arigato gozaimasu!


  3. Dwayanu: Might it have been Neal Stephenson?

    Pukako: That's pretty much what I was thinking of using him for. I hope he fits into your game somewhere.

  4. No, it was a fellow already long in the tooth when Stephenson was in his 20s; my own memory is not as spry as it was then!