Friday, May 10, 2013

Ray Harryhausen Memorial Blogfest: Teeth of the Hydra

It is a famous scene in the film and may have influenced the way that fantasy and gaming handle the un-thinking  undead in general and skeletons in particular!  We all remember Harryhausen's skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts well. They were summoned up by Ae√ętes who sowed the teeth of the hydra, slain by Jason, after praying to Hecate to help him get his revenge for the theft of the Golden Fleece.  If you are reading this, I would say that the scene that followed provided much inspiration for games early in your life in which PC's battled against skeletons.  So here, in honor of the late Ray Harryhausen, I give to you instant necromancy in the form of the Teeth of the Hydra!

Teeth of the Hydra

It is known that there are rites which can garner the aid of certain dark deities to enchant the teeth of a hydra, slain by man, that they might be sown and grow into skeletons that may serve the ritualist.  A powerful magic-user might discover these secret rites.  However, it is said that many such teeth already exist, forgotten in the world.  Anyone who discovers these can cast them to the ground in the hope of gaining undead servants.  If the teeth are found, rather than created, there will be 1-10 such teeth.  When the teeth are thrown to the ground they will wriggle into the soil like worms.  Within one round skeletons will claw their way out of the earth.  These skeletons will be ready to fight upon the second round of their existence. The skeletons spring from the ground armed with scimitars or short swords and shields.

There is an 80% chance (+1% per point of the user's Charisma) that the skeletons will obey the commands of the user upon their creation.  The remainder of the time the skeletons will instead attack the user of the Teeth of the Hydra.  If the skeletons are not initially hostile, the check must be made again one hour later.  If this check is successful the skeletons will serve for a day, at which point a third check must be made.  At this point the skeletons will serve for a week.  After one week of service the undead servitors, and their equipment turn to dust.