DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
Tim Nightengale aka Timitius (pronounced “Tim-eye-tee-us”)
I’ve been an RPG player since the Red Box in the 80’s, and had the very good fortune to land in a Paizo office campaign or two. This led to freelancing for Paizo to create several monsters in various APs and Bestiary books, helping found PaizoCon, and becoming the Editor-in-Chief of the Wayfinder fanzine for 16 issues (we are now in the Open Call for issue #21, with our first PFPRG 2.0 issue). In my day job, I am a fisheries ecologist, specializing in benthic macroinvertebrate ecology (aka river bugs).
Know Direction Network Staff Member: Rob Pontious (@silentinfinity)
Hello, my fine family and friends! I’m Rob or silentinfinity! I’m a lover of TTRPGs starting way back with D&D 1st Ed and now Pathfinder and the World of Darkness. I DM/GM/Storytell more than I plays, but I love crafting a story whether for a world or a character—enjoying the collaborative nature of the game. I write #InvestingIn for us here at Know Direction, am a member of Order of the Amber Die, play the uncanny Ateran in Roll for Combat’s Three Ring Adventure, and also play Donovan for Gehenna Gaming’s Monster Hearts 2 actual play.
I’m a resident of Rhode Island and a football fan working in web commerce by day and enjoying writing and gaming as a creative outlet by night. I look forward to gathering friends again for board games, love RPG video games (Dragon Age!), card games, and I’ve even done a little LARPing in my time. I’m a GAYMER and so very appreciative of the wide community embracing one another! I love meeting new people, and I’m ever eager to celebrate them and their interests. My motto is work hard, play harder!
Fan: Tim Hager aka Dungeon Novice
I first played D&D 3e in high school for a semester project. A few years later, I found myself wanting to play again, found a group and have since been playing on and off for about 10 years. I run the Know Direction Instagram and Minecraft accounts, and have even been on a few Geek Together episodes! Like so many others, I find it hard to keep a group together, and in the year 2020 it’s more difficult than ever. When not engaging in the Finder arts, I’m also a father to a middle-schooler and work in healthcare, but I mostly do the normal hobbies of TV, video games, and hanging out with friends (holding to proper social distancing rules, of course).
“This is Iris Hawthorne and you’re watching ‘Up to Date.’ Tonight: the governor rises taxes on home improvement goods, local homeless shelters all across the nation are talking about a strange phrase that residents are uttering in their sleep, and you won’t believe the story of these 16 kittens that braved the Grand Canyon’s rapids to make it back home. But first, it appears the source of the unusual seismic activity that we’ve been seeing for the past 7 days near Milwaukee has finally been determined. A large worm that witnesses say is the size of a city bus has been observed emerging from the ground and destroying local subdivisions. For more, we have Gary White on the scene. Gary?
Hi Iris. I’ve never seen anything quite like this! As you can see behind me, the devastation done to these communities rivals that of any tornado. If it weren’t for these tunnels left behind, you’d scarcely believe this strange beast could even be real. Locals are calling it ‘The Purple Worm.’ We have cryptozoological experts flying in from all over the country trying to help the local national guard track and detain this monster, but so far, efforts to thwart its rampage have been in vain. But all hope is not lost here in Milwaukee. I have here with me a specialist that the federal government has put in control of the local police assets. As I understand it, scientists from all over the world are begging for this creature to be captured for study, but countless families are dying every day. Can you please tell the nation, what do you plan to do about this ‘Purple Worm?’”
A purple worm is somehow attacking the suburbs bordering Milwaukee! You’ve been assigned be the government to deal with the problem in whichever manner you see fit. Your orders come from secretive authorities higher than your boss’s bosses, and those authorities wish the problem dealt with in as subtle and unassuming manner as possible. As such, you’re only being given the power to direct the actions, and budget, of the Milwaukee police department. Should you fail to ‘solve’ the problem with only these assets, you will not only lose your job, but it’s possible you may lose your life too.
Tim N: As a scientist that studies invertebrates in real life, the very first thing that I did was RESEARCH. What are the capabilities of the Milwaukee PD? Do they have a SWAT team? Are they militarized at all? Bomb Unit? Use technological tools? In short, do they have the tools necessary to deal with a gargantuan rampaging subterranean worm? Maybe. Just maybe….
First, as the specialist from “the Feds”, I would collect data. That means I’d ask the detectives and special investigators to treat this like a serial murderer case and collect evidence. I’d want forensic evidence from the scenes. Presumably, we’d find acid residue from the worm, perhaps some broken teeth. Investigators would collect information as to when it attacked, and what activities had been occurring at the scene of the attack in the last hour prior to the worm surfacing. I’d direct the investigators to look for patterns and similarities in each attack. Was there construction nearby? A house party with loud music (deep bass subwoofers)? Armed with the evidence, we’d look at the locations on a map of the area, looking for patterns. Are the locations equidistant from a point? That would indicate the creature returns to a nest or burrow after each attack. Are they on a path? That would suggest the worm is on the move in a particular direction and attacking when hungry, or reacting to some surface stimuli. Armed with that information, we could start to guess where the worm may attack next and would deploy our next units to watch and wait.
Monitoring is key when waiting for an animal to show up. Seismic monitoring would be necessary to detect underground movement in an area, so therefore police forces would need to acquire some from the nearby university and deploy them in those areas deemed high probability for “worm sign”. (Yes, I’d encourage the entire force to watch “Tremors” and “Dune”…reference material, you know.) Everything would be mobilized for the next detection, and sighting. Sharpshooter units would be equipped high caliber rifles with armor-piercing rounds. Officers would also be equipped with GPS dart launchers, currently used to mark fleeing vehicles. Such projectiles are adhesive, so modifications would be required to have them stick into a worm’s hide. This will allow officers to potentially track the creature if it escapes.
Finally, once the worm is located underground, if it escapes, the bomb unit would deploy its remote-controlled robot to carry a remotely detonated explosive down into the tunnels directly to the worm. The intent would be for the creature to devour the robotic unit and explosive payload. The payload would have both a remote trigger, as well as one that would detonate when exposed to acid. As a backup, I’d also have the department procure large quantities of Sevin, a carbayl-based insectide known to be highly toxic to earthworms, along with tanker trucks and water cannons to spray the creature down. Backups upon backups will need to be in place to quickly neutralize its threat and minimize future attacks.
Failing that, I would take solace in knowing that Milwaukee is known in the Menominee language as Māēnāēwah, which means “some misfortune happens.” So, there you go…(shrug).
Rob: A purple worm loose in Milwaukee! Now this is what it’s like when worlds collide. My first step would be to load up a playlist to help me plan—Powerman 5000 at the top and maybe a couple other times throughout. Looking up my available budget, that’s 297 million USD (mpdguardians.com). Okay, honestly, a pretty nice site with information on the officers and the resources at their/my/our disposal. I’d call for a strategy planning team with designated leaders for community protection, location and tracking, air assault, long distance assault, and trapping.
First, all those that might engage are told to stay at least 200 feet from the creature or more than a 100 as an extreme based on information I’ve attained (depending on the edition of course). It may be able to see normally but in darkness it can track by ground movement. I might show the team Avatar the Last Airbender and how Toph feels movement on the ground if they’re so confused. Second, for community protection, we’d want people to stay separated, avoid crowds, and avoid where animals congregate. Considering we’d want to do this subtly, the leader of that group would need to see events cancelled due to possible threats. Meanwhile, we’d want a herd animal or zoo (the county zoo?) scouted for possible location while a sub team under that location and tracking leader (familiar with seismic instruments) plots how the purple worm is moving.
We’d want the SWAT team to plan a long distance, heavy weapons assault at night while any agents with explosive (possible army or other EOD unit) or chemistry knowledge to assist in a planned drone, aerial attack. With the expectation the creature can only sense maybe within 100 feet (or worse case double that at 200) and not anything in the air in the dark, our teams would be equipped night vision goggles. We would mount a trap of long-distance heavy assault weapons and non-nuclear explosives to optimally enter its mouth via drone or otherwise assault its belly as it came up from the ground, or if lucky enough, from an existing cavern. The latter would be riskier due to travel on ground.
It may be unfortunate but the tracking and trapping team may designate it necessary to bring a large number of animals together to lure the creature to the point we wanted; especially if it’s traveling underwater or near a highly populated area downtown. This seems likely due to its attack on subdivisions. Again, we’d target a few areas of choice with the tracking and trapping teams to create a lure plan for our assault based on seismic data of the creature’s movements indicated.
For medical purposes I’d have the team ready for acid (digestive fluids), poison (stinging venom), and heavy impact.
Finally, once destroyed, it would be imperative to find its nesting den to destroy any eggs or evidence while seeing to the structural integrity of the caverns left behind. And, of course, prepare my new team for future threats. Considering the media blitz, it’s bound to get out on the internet (looking at you reddit) that a monster out of TTRPGs was roaming Milwaukee!
Tim H: The first thing I want to say is, there is a silver lining to this situation. From what we know about Purple Worms they tend to be solitary, so this one is likely alone. We also know they tend to make their lairs in large caverns, so actually having set up here in Milwaukee makes sense. In fact, some of us in the cryptozoology community have been warning that these and other creatures might come out of hiding soon.
Our plan is simple; after Purple Worms eat, they tend to rest for long periods to digest. That’s when we’ll head in. The Milwaukee Police Department is going to be heading into old brewery caves in small numbers to verify which of these old caves the worm has nested in, a job made easier by the tunnels it leaves behind and the areas it’s been attacking. Once we determine which cave has become its home, we’ll be sending in SWAT with a backup of regular officers all armed with a mixture of traditional weaponry, tranquilizers, and, I’m not joking when I say this, fire extinguishers. Based off of previous survival accounts everyone assumed fabricated, the internal temperature of Purple Worms is high. Now, with this creature making itself undeniably known, we believe that internal temperature is generated to allow the worm to better grind up the stone it passes through. We plan to force this Purple Worm to ingest cooling agents to slow its digestion and effectively force it to shut down. It will be at this point the MPD will sedate the creature to the point it can be moved to secure facilities for study.
Again, we intend to study the Purple Worm alive to better understand how it works, but that is not our only plan. If cooling it doesn’t help, then we will still have over 1,000 officers armed with surplus military gear ready to go. Explosives, automatic rifles, and even the less-lethal options such as rubber bullets, which should damage its chitinous hide when fired upon directly.
While we feel we are prepared for this task, we do want to send out a call to any magical creatures who may be in hiding to assist us. It may sound ridiculous, but this creature was also thought by the greater community to be fictitious. So, if there are others out there sympathetic to the senseless deaths occurring here, we beg your assistance. Anything you can provide, be it magical, weaponry, or even research would be of tremendous help. Thank you, and thank you, Gary.
I’ve heard from my guests; now I want to hear from you. What would be your plan to lead these brave men and women to victory? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.
Each Bend the Knee features three guests. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee or Dear DovahQueen.