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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Feb 2019

    Default False Hydra encounters?

    As the name implies, can you guys share your encounters with False Hydras?

    I'll start things off.

    Not too long ago, my DM gave us our first encounter with a False Hydra. We're pretty high level (about13-18th level), so the DM made sure it was at a stage where it could challenge us while adding extra abilities.
    Anyway, we came to an underground, abandoned city. It was on our list of destinations, so we had to go there in order to get plot-important item(s). I used Greater Prying Eyes to try and see what was there, with orders to report back immediately if detected. They got detected instantly by the False Hydra, so they reported back. We investigated, but because of how late is was getting, we had to turn in for the night. We chose one of the abandoned nobles houses. We found a pair of skeletons in the basement, likely people who got wind of the danger, hid, and slowly starved to death.
    Night came, and we were awakened by our Druid having carved a message into his chest: "IT'S BEEN WATCHING US THIS WHOLE TIME!"
    We also found that the window and door had been bolted shut. So, our druid used stoneshape to get a hole for us to leave. We also noticed an extra pack with shed fur all over it in addition to various items. And of course, we noticed the profound silence.
    Turns out, the pack belonged to an NPC ally we didn't know was traveling with us, helping us out, making things go our way, etc. When we peered through the hole, we saw the monster. the DM called for a DC 40 Planes check; I rolled and beat the DC. Our druid wildshaped into a dragon (thanks to his feat) and let us see the full extent of what we're dealing with.
    It was a long battle, but we prevailed.
    Our deceased ally is someone we've decided to bring back to life. Have to wait until next session, though. He was a Gnoll who followed Pelor.

    The abilities this thing had in addition to what's established are these
    It had the ability to drain spell levels on a successful bite. A will save nulled it.
    It's screech inflicted damage, and another one could leave us either shaken or panicked, depending on how we did on our will saves.
    When it got low enough on HP, it turned green and started dealing a ton of acid damage.
    THIS VERSION HAD 300 HD AND 3600 HP. It had garbage AC, though (5 normal, -2 touch, so roll a not!1)
    It was demonic-based, and it had constant True Seeing. It also means that it would never starve to death, unlike most examples.
    This version wasn't just imperceptible while singing; you could literally walk right through its body without noticing it. It was still there, watching and waiting, but with on way to perceive it or even detect it (not even detect evil worked while singing), it couldn't be attacked even with a stray attack.
    When we slew it, it exploded into a cloud of acid (reflex for half damage).

    Like I said, it was scaled up tremendously and had extra powers.

    I'll add to this post when I can. This isn't the full detail, but I don't have the time to add it all here.
    Last edited by TheNerfGuy; 2019-12-10 at 06:45 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Sep 2017

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    You say it was scaled up immensely, but it I remember the blog post that the False Hydra originates from correctly, it was:

    - explicitly never statted
    - able to grow to a point where it could challenge even high level characters
    - designed primarily to provide problem-solving encounters, with combat being far from a primary focus
    - taken from a blog which brewed for 5e (while the creature is certainly system-agnostic, that does reduce the number of 3.Xe DMs who would be aware of and run such a creature)
    All advice given with the caveat that you know your group better than I do. If that wasn't true, you'd be getting advice face-to-face. So I generalize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    are you asking us to do research into a setting you wrote yourself?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hellpyre View Post
    that does reduce the number of 3.Xe DMs who would be aware of and run such a creature)
    Indeed.

    What is a false hydra?
    shipping Sabine/Vaarsuvius

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Oct 2007

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?


  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Feb 2019

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    This session was the first time I had ever heard of it. One person at the other table had heard of it and sort of wished he was in my group in order to join in on the fun.

    My DM was aware of it beforehand, and this entire experience was something he had planned about a year-and-a-half ago and spent that time arrange events throughout that length of time to lead up to this event.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Sep 2017

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Icefractal has the link to the post where the False Hydra originates. For those curious who don't want to follow the link, it basically is a monster that consumes people and erases the memories of those who knew them, via a song that also hides it from perception. It makes for an interesting psychological horror adventure if the DM puts in the work and the players are looking for such. It is definitely meant as at least an adventure arc, rather than a singular encounter.
    All advice given with the caveat that you know your group better than I do. If that wasn't true, you'd be getting advice face-to-face. So I generalize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    are you asking us to do research into a setting you wrote yourself?

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    That is absolutely amazing to read.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zombulian View Post
    I am continually astounded by how new you are here in contrast to how impressive your mind is.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Feb 2019

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    I do believe we have gotten a bit off-topic here.

    Specifically, I am wanting to know of any sessions that centered around a False Hydra in your campaigns.

    So, can you people share, please?

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Buufreak's Avatar

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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Go play the later half of OoT. 3 show up, I believe.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Sep 2017

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNerfGuy View Post
    I do believe we have gotten a bit off-topic here.

    Specifically, I am wanting to know of any sessions that centered around a False Hydra in your campaigns.

    So, can you people share, please?
    I really think that this is just a poor place to ask. As I mentioned, it was designed with 5e in mind, on a blog that hosts 5e homebrew. The fifth edition section will probably garner a bigger response, or possibly even the general section. I've wanted to run a False Hydra scenario for a while, but I haven't had a group of players who enjoyed psychological horror in D&D until about a month ago. If they follow up on the plot hook, I may post back.
    All advice given with the caveat that you know your group better than I do. If that wasn't true, you'd be getting advice face-to-face. So I generalize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    are you asking us to do research into a setting you wrote yourself?

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Just read about these things for the first time. Not sure I like the name, since it doesn't conjure the kind of horror that this monster represents. Also not thrilled with the "they just happen, until they die out" aspect of something that's supposed to be an intelligent creature. Prefer it if they're either a form of undead (so the "just happening" comes from one of the kinds of death-based horror sources), or their deaths (which they do desperately try to avoid) seed nearby regions, somehow. At least if they die of starvation rather than being exterminated.

    That said, the biggest problem with playing them out is the metagame angle. The fact that you have to tell the players, "Your PC doesn't remember that person anymore." It can be fun to play up if you've got only some of them you have to work that with, giving them a secret message to change their story, but if it's the whole party experiencing it, it's harder to get buy-in because they now aren't playing to mess with each other, but to avoid being messed with.

    There are two ways that I can think of to play with this: One is to have a strange (to the players) inverted saving throw vs. fear: If they make the Will save, they feel a dread, maybe are Shaken or even Frightened. If they fail, they experience nothing. Succeeding isn't suppressing or mastering fear; it's overcomig, on some level, the unbeatable psychic memory-wipe. Make them roll every time they should see the creature, but can't.

    The second is meant to deal more directly with the metagame about remembering people. There is a monster called the Visage. It's a kind of undead that has the uncanny ability to appear like a totally ordinary person - possibly someone you know, possibly not...whatever it takes to fit into the scene without comment - and to conceal its actions that are incongruous entirely. They're murderous creatures, and do things like stab somebody in the middle of a multi-person conversation, with nobody noticing. The victim might not even notice until he's already half-passed out on the ground, and nobody notices that he's been stabbed or is bleeding until the Visage leaves, and everyone suddenly notices that he's down and has been bleeding for some time.

    Doppelgangers, too, play a infiltration role, impersonating people and even taking over lives.

    Pick something along those lines to serve a symbiotic purpose with a false hydra, or give the false hydra a reason to inject something along these lines. The goal here is to have false memories of people who never existed planted, so that when these symbiotic monsters (or illusory agents of the false hydra) show up, everyone seems to know them. They've always been around. They're trustworthy parts of your life.

    That way, when the DM tells somebody "you do'nt remember that person," they can't be sure if they're being gaslit over somebody being unpersonned, or over something that wasn't ever real now being revealed not to exist.

    Finally, in keeping with the above, don't tell the players that they don't remember something. Instead, insist that you never said any such thing. As DM, gaslight the players while the monster is messing with their minds. Sure, they'll catch on that the DM has become an unreliable narrator, but that only enhances the horror: when is the DM telling the truth, and when is what the DM describing a lie? Was it a lie this time, or last time when he said something different?

    Take advantage of the confabulation that is supposed to be induced, and tell players things their characters confabulate. Don't tell them, "Your character now believes this," though. No, no. Instead, simply report the confabulation as if it were true, and you're either reminding them of something you said before, or clarifying something they misunderstood. Insist that's what it always was, if challenged.

    Side note: How does it have to stop singing to eat after it grows even one extra head?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Jul 2014

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Gaslighting as a narrative tool.

    Now that's a fun idea.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    There are two ways that I can think of to play with this: One is to have a strange (to the players) inverted saving throw vs. fear: If they make the Will save, they feel a dread, maybe are Shaken or even Frightened. If they fail, they experience nothing. Succeeding isn't suppressing or mastering fear; it's overcomig, on some level, the unbeatable psychic memory-wipe. Make them roll every time they should see the creature, but can't.
    This is brilliant! Might steal this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Side note: How does it have to stop singing to eat after it grows even one extra head?
    This question also baffles me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    What legacy do we leave, after all, but those quotes that others have sigged?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jergmo View Post
    What do you do when you fight an undead that turns into a spider that's filled with spiders that turns into spiders after trapping you in magical webbing? You scream, and you never stop.
    'Prax' is fine.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Jul 2008

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Finally, in keeping with the above, don't tell the players that they don't remember something. Instead, insist that you never said any such thing. As DM, gaslight the players while the monster is messing with their minds. Sure, they'll catch on that the DM has become an unreliable narrator, but that only enhances the horror: when is the DM telling the truth, and when is what the DM describing a lie? Was it a lie this time, or last time when he said something different?
    Or the players get frustrated and the following exchange occurs:

    PC: Oh cool, a +3 sword greatsword, I'll take it

    DM: I didn't say you find a magical weapon

    PC: Yes you did
    "It doesn't matter how much you struggle or strive,
    You'll never get out of life alive,
    So please kill yourself and save this land,
    And your last mission is to spread my command,"

    Slightly adapted quote from X-Fusion, Please Kill Yourself

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    May 2018

    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    I've run a campaign which featured a False Hydra as the BBEG. About 6-9 months of gameplay IIRC.

    I fluffed it as a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, basically. It was a bloated, corpulent mass of a torso that ended in writhing tentacles which had lamprey mouths instead of suckers and heads at the end of some of the tentacles. The tentacles could extend seemingly infinitely. It was worshipped by a cult of Derro, who infiltrated the local church to Garl Glittergold and dug deep to get to it and its Aboleth master. The intent was to worship the False Hydra and seek to bring the Aboleth back (AKA, get it to a source of water so its dried skin would moisten and it would leave its eternal dream)

    The setting was initially presented as basically a frontier town that contracted out adventures/quests/upholding the law because much of the town guard had been "recalled on a mission of some importance, nobody's really certain of the details." After picking up a few of these quests (There's this weird dude at the north of town [mad derro] go deal with him, "there's a serial killer in town, deal with him", oh no wendigos etc.) they started realizing shopkeeps they KNEW existed before no longer existed. The alchemist's body was missing, with a note that read "it sees me I see it I see I see help please help I cannot see." Eventually the PCs started REALLY investigating, and realized probably about 80% of the town was either gone, or had this disgusting mucous membrane coating them. They occasionally caught sight of a single writhing tentacle breaking through the earth, and sets of black eyes watching them and a mouth horrifically wailing.

    After quite a bit of digging through the annals of the town's history, they found recordings in journals missing, logs of census information and populations, and decided to check out each individual church as the records made note of highly religious folks coming to town. Realizing that both the Church to Pelor and Moradin were in states of complete disrepair and decay, they checked ou the church to Garl Glittergold and found it was essentially destroyed and had a large tunnel leading down.

    Going down the tunnel, they encountered strange aberrations and mad Derro/Gnome cultists, along with idols of goats and tentacles and tentacled goats. This basically led them down to a large chamber, where they encountered the mad Derro cult leader, the False Hydra, and a few cultists attempting to push a dried Aboleth into a nearby source of water. For the False Hydra, I just reskinned a Hydra's statblock with 5 heads, gave it Improved Grab, made the song a full-round action that it had to maintain, regen, and a Consume-type ability. PCs ended up barely downing the False Hydra and killing most of the cultists, but the Aboleth got pushed into the water and began regenerating. They barely made it out alive, after causing a cave-in at the open escape routes for the water, seemingly trapping the Aboleth in the cave.

    Upon escaping, since the False Hydra's song had ended, they finally saw the town for what it was - Completely derelict and empty, save for one lone figure in the distance on the Church roof... who then jumped from the roof.



    False Hydra's are cool
    Last edited by 16bearswutIdo; 2019-12-20 at 09:07 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    Or the players get frustrated and the following exchange occurs:

    PC: Oh cool, a +3 sword greatsword, I'll take it

    DM: I didn't say you find a magical weapon

    PC: Yes you did
    Probably. Why would you do this particular example, though? What about that +3 sword makes the false hydra cause you to forget about it?

    Itís not a precise memory rewrite. It deletes people it has eaten.

    Yes, if you use the technique to just be a jerk rather than to play up unsettling mystery, youíre going to frustrate your players rather than unnerve them.



    The post just above this sounds like it was a pretty awesome campaign.

    It occurs to me that you could achieve some similar effects with judicious use of various illusion spells, too.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: False Hydra encounters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Yes, if you use the technique to just be a jerk rather than to play up unsettling mystery, youíre going to frustrate your players rather than unnerve them.
    My point was you can also frustrate your players even if you are using to play up an unsettling mystery (the DM never said there was a +3 sword in my example, the players are just showing the DM that they can gaslight too). Let's look at how a false hydra would run at a standard D&D monster:

    Horror scale 0.1: Some mid+ CR creature that is invisble without being invisible by using a mind affecting ability that makes you igore its presence but probably has a save, and anyone killed by it cannot ressurect.

    This is a good encounter. Its flavourful, scary, will lead to a tense encounter, and works in practically every game. The only problem its not particularly horror-esque. You can improve this step by step making it more and more of a true, lovecraftian horror monsters, you can remove the save from its not-invisibility song, use gaslighting to handle the eating people of of existence angle, but each step makes it less like a D&D monsters, and whilst that not neccissarily bad, variety is the spice of life and all, but its worth remembering that you are playing D&D, and most will have a limit. Some may refuse the default false hydra, in another thread on the creature a poster said the creatures ability to pierce charm immunity would be a deal breaker for them. Others could accept that part, but may draw the line at the DM gaslighting them, because a trusted friend lie to them is not their idea of fun. You need to make sure you don't go overboard with this.
    "It doesn't matter how much you struggle or strive,
    You'll never get out of life alive,
    So please kill yourself and save this land,
    And your last mission is to spread my command,"

    Slightly adapted quote from X-Fusion, Please Kill Yourself

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