So, this post started out as a joke on Twitter last week. There was a conversation about a Gamma World game where @wesleykhall and @vanitygames were present. In that game, the party had a sort of “dance off” with a giant bug at one point. Not many details were given. At that point, @digitaldraco chimed in with, “Was it a jitterbug? (I’ll see myself out…)” Hardy har. But then again… that actually sounded like a Gamma World appropriate monster.
So I made a Jitterbug, and with the help of Wes’s awesome art skills, brought it to life.
This particular monster is an experiment of sorts. He’s a passive addition to combat; he has no attacks that do any damage, and one of his powers triggers a skill challenge that could end the combat early. On the other hand, he will be quite a hindrance to the party who may be trying to deal with threats that are actually doing them damage. So do you take out the guy who’s making you more vulnerable, or do you take out the enemies doing damage? Choices.
There are a few ways to frame the Jitterbug. He could be this sinister “siren” type character who lures the party in and disables them so that his scarab swarms can feast on them. If you go this route, you might want the combat to include swarms and CIFALs (yes, technically a swarm, I know), or maybe Latterbugs and other insect types (see the Monster Index).
The other way you could go is to make him a jovial NPC type. He could be a friend or frenemy to the party, and his combat stats could either be an aid to the party (excuse to up the threat level of encounters) or he could simply use his powers to remain out of harm’s way while he makes his escape.
A few notes on the flavor of the powers:
Happy Feet: The Jitterbug’s charisma compels characters to dance around like maniacs.
Disco Fever: An actual malady, contrary to popular belief. Symptoms include sweating, flailing wildly about, and malfunctioning alpha mutations.
Dance Fight: The Jitterbug challenges the target to a “fight,” West Side Story style (or Grease…take your pick).
Belly Dance: The fluidity of these moves mezmerizes the target.
Dance Party: Who wants to fight, when we can DANCE?? The Jitterbug declares a dance party in progress and tries to get the characters to join in.
As with previous Gamma World monsters that I’ve featured here, I built it in the Monster Builder so that tweaking powers and levels is simple for you. The drawback is, the Monster Builder isn’t Gamma World compliant. So, his Origin is actually “Terrestrial, Beast (insect)” though I do believe that an Umber Hulk mini would be a great one to use. I would also give him training in Acrobatics, Interaction and Nature.
And here is the skill challenge triggered by the “Dance Fight” power. The PCs can engage in the dance off, or simply continue fighting.
Dance Off (Skill Challenge)
Complexity: 8 Successes before 3 failures
Success: Combat ends, and the Jitterbug (out of respect for the party’s dance skills) becomes friendly and helpful
Failure: The Dance Off has exhausted the party: -4 to all defenses and slowed until the end of the encounter
Special: Characters with the Cockroach or Arachnoid Origin gain a +2 to all skill checks in this skill challenge.
Primary Skills (standard actions)
Conspiracy (max 3) – You know the hottest new dance moves, even if you’re not great at them
Acrobatics (max 3) – You incorporate flips and twirls
Athletics (max 3) – Your speed and stamina are great
Interaction (max 2) – You project intimidation through your dance, and talk smack as you do your moves
Secondary Skills (minor actions)
Insight (max 1 per turn) – You notice whose moves are currently impressing the jitterbug the most – +2 to someone else’s next skill roll
Nature (max 1 per character) – You know the types of dance that impress jitterbugs, and the types of moves they use – +2 to your next skill roll
Feedback? What would you add? Do you have any cool dance pun powers?