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World in Flames: Black Jacks

by Bruce Heard

  Spellkin Livekin Greaterkin
AC: 6 3 0
HD: 2 4 12
MV: 9' 12' 12'
INT: 3 8+ 16+
STR: 12 14 16
Att: Tendril (1) Tendril (1) Tendril (1) or spell
Dmg: d6 d6 or weapon d6, or weapon, or spell
Def: Mindless Immune to fear Create fog
MR: Nil Nil 15%

The Black Jack (or pumpkinhead warrior) is the result of a Glantrian spell enchantment. Initially, the spell covers a square-shaped area 3x3ft per exp. level of the caster. Any pumpkins growing with the area of effect are enchanted (no save) and grow into Spellkin within 12 hours.

The Black Jack comes in three sorts, the Spellkin, the Livekin, and the Greaterkin. The first is the direct result of the spell, which has minimal intelligence (zombie-like). The livekin is a sentient creature resulting from a Spellkin that was kept active for too long. The Greaterkin is a more powerful version of the Livekin which has the power to control its lesser cousins.

The Spellkin

A Spellkin looks like a pumpkin mounted on a gnarled, humanlike body made of twisted roots and foliage. Its body is dark green and earth brown and the head is orange with black openings for the eyes, the nose, and mouth. A vague aura of darkness remains about these beings, somewhat toning down the head's orange colour and giving it a more sinister appearance. Spellkin have infravision comparable to elves and do not actually require sleep.

The Spellkin remains active until destroyed in combat, dismissed by its creator, or dispelled (although the level of the creator has be to taken into account before a Spellkin can be dispelled). The spellkin fights by wrapping its root-like hands around one's throat. The victim must roll a d12 under a special score to free itself (Victim's Strength minus Spellkin's Strength). A roll of 1 is always a success including for the cases the victim's Strength score is lower than the Spellkin's. The attempt to free oneself takes an action. Failure results in the Spellkin inflicting the stated damage. Spellkin are at a disadvantage when fighting in direct sunlight (-1 to attacks and all saving throws, so they often make their move while the weather is gloomy and overcast or at night. Spellkin always remain under the authority of those who enchanted them.

The Spellkin that remains active for more than three months has a 10% chance of becoming a Livekin on every full moon thereafter. If prevailing temperatures drop to freezing or lower, the Spellkin is slowed (as per the reversed spell). If the temperature remains below freezing for a week or more, the Spellkin goes dormant until the temperature rises again. Spellkin require water and nutrients from the soil, which they get by digging tendrils into the ground. Spellkin need to remain in contact with natural soil for an hour each day. Failing to do this or drought conditions with high temperatures (90*f and above) will dehydrate Spellkins within 1d4+1 days after which they wilt and die.

The Livekin

The biggest differences with the Spellkin is that its alter ego is sentient and capable of reproducing. A Livekin can reproduce once per year. For this, it needs to take root for a day, after which 2d4 smaller seedlings start growing from the soil. At this point, they still are a part of the Livekin's own body. When the seedlings reach the size of a halfling three days later, they separate from the parent Livekin and continue their growth which takes another three days. While they are growing, seedlings have the abilities and statistics of a Spellkin. When fully grown, the new Livekin can move and act of their own free will. Livekin have the ability to speak in a screechy voice and wail a lot when fighting. They like to steal the clothes of their victims, giving them the ragged appearance of scarecrows -- other than this, they look identical to Spellkin. Livekin commonly use weapons in combat.

The Greaterkin

The Greaterkin is a Livekin which has outgrown its lesser cousin. Livekins have a basic 1% chance of reaching this stage after they have survived a whole year. The Greaterkin has the ability to "mark" Livekin and Spellkin within sight so that they obey its commands. Those so marked cannot become Greaterkin themselves or revert to another Greaterkin's authority. The mark is erased when the Greaterkin is destroyed. Greaterkins are smart enough to work together toward a common goal. They generally choose one of them to be their leader. Greaterkin are able to cast spells like a 12th-level wizard in addition to the spell that create Spellkins themselves, and generate natural fog. Such fog moves outward from the Greaterkin at the rate of 9' per round. It is immediately dispelled by strong winds or direct sunlight. The Greaterkin can also take the appearance of any human-like lifeform until dispelled.