Monday, September 13, 2021

A Monstrous Commedia (Chopwood Opera Bestiary)

It is what it says on the can. A while ago I made the Chopwood Opera (or CHOPOP) combat rules. Now what are combat rules without stuff you can fight? An empty bowl, that's what. So get ready because soup's on, baby.

Art by Stepan Alekseev


A goblin is a kind of big corpse maggot that likes wearing tracksuits and snorting car exhaust. They have chalice- or bottle-shaped heads and big ears. A goblin's brain is only semisolid. Dried goblin heads are the compostable equivalent of plastic beer cups.

Head (L*), Body (L)
Fight Die 1d4


Horrible Crawling: 2 in 6, all parts, 2 hits.


  • When multiple goblins roll Fight Dice, the lowest rolls take the value of the second-lowest (if one goblin rolls 3, one 2, and two roll 1, the two rolling one also get 2)
  • Decapitating a Goblin is lethal only half of the time (flip a coin). A living goblin body can attach a new head of any species. If you have a cool head you are usually the boss goblin.
Random table of goblin armour:
  1. Anti-Spill Cap: 2 in 6, head, 3 hits.
  2. Four-Dimensional Hiccup: 1 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
  3. Wrapped in Bike Chains: 2 in 6, body, 2 hits.
  4. Seafood Restaurant Internship: 1 in 6, body, 1 hit.
  5. Fake Head and Trenchcoat: 5 in 6, head, 1 hit.
  6. Looks Like It'll Blow Up: 3 in 6, head, 1 hit.


A labyrinth.

Entrance, Exit (L)
Fight Die 1d10


Wait, Where Are We?: 3 in 6, entrance, 4 hits.
Dead Ends: 5 in 6, exit, 4 hits.

  • You can only leave combat with a labyrinth when you land a hit on its entrance or its exit.
  • A labyrinth attacks all enemies in combat at once, simultaneously.
Random table of labyrinth armour:
  1. Time Fuckery: 3 in 6, entrance and exit, 3 hits.
  2. Sprawling Size: 1 in 6, entrance and exit, 4 hits.
  3. Fata Morgana: 5 in 6, exit, 1 hit.
  4. Quicksand: 2 in 6, entrance and exit, 2 hits.
  5. Plot-Relevant Mural: 4 in 6, exit, 1 hit.
  6. Another, Smaller Labyrinth: 1 in 6, exit, 1 hit.
Art by Jonas de Ro


It seems kind of ridiculous for this thing to exist. If you are familiar with the parasitic wasp talking point about the existence of god then it should be clear why: the Elephant Spider Death Hornet seems born to rattle theists. It's the size of an elephant but is a horrible spider, has long tusks, spits acid, eats its siblings in the womb, eats its partner during sex, has rabies, and doesn't wash hands. If you run into it, that means Mother Nature wants you whacked.

Limbs, Abdomen, Thorax (L), Head (L)
Fight Die 1d12


Spikes and Chitin: 3 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
Oh God What The Fuck?!: 2 in 6, head, 2 hits.
Thrashing Pincers: 3 in 6, head, 2 hits.

  • The Elephant Spider Death Hornet ignores all armour based on fear.
Random table of Elephant Spider Death Hornet armour:
  1. Shifting Camouflage: 4 in 6, all parts, 2 hits.
  2. A Million Eggs: 2 in 6, abdomen and thorax, 4 hits.
  3. Airborne Paralytic Poison: 1 in 6, all parts, 3 hits.
  4. Mane of Porcupine Spikes: 3 in 6, head, 3 hits.
  5. Web-Filled Lair: 2 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
  6. Hostage: 6 in 6, head and thorax, 1 hit.
Art by Jeff Easley


Hephaestus' infernal self-driving chariot. Car fossils have been hidden by the church for centuries, as they are proof of motorisation before Christ. With the help of modern science, it has been determined that they evolved when two guys on bicycles joined hands.

Wheels, Body, Engine Hood (L), Driver (L)
Fight Die 1d8


Metal Hide: 4 in 6, engine hood, driver and body, 4 hits.
Blinding Headlights: 2 in 6, engine hood and driver, 2 hits.

  • When a car dies from any other reason than its driver part being destroyed, the driver has a 1 in 2 chance (flip a coin) to escape the wreck and come after you while being pissed about the car you just totalled.
  • If the car is from the '80s or has a flame decal, it has a d10 fight die instead of d8.
Random table of car armour:
  1. Derby Helmet: 4 in 6, driver, 2 hits.
  2. Distracting Airbrushed Babe: 2 in 6, engine hood, 1 hit.
  3. Snow Tires: 3 in 6, wheels, 4 hits.
  4. Rear View Mirror: 1 in 6, driver, 1 hit.
  5. Dude, That's My Dad's Car: 2 in 6, all parts, 1 hit.
  6. NANI?! KANSEI DORIFTO?!: 5 in 6, all parts, 3 hits.


The revenant of a dead soldier, reclaimed by its bloodthirsty technology to continue War. It floats a foot above the ground. Instead of a head it has a long neck, gradually turning carbon-black and synthetic, ending in an assault rifle. It slowly hovers forward, the yellow dot of of its rifle sight glowing like an eye in the dark. It sees in burnt files, speaks in smoke grenade hisses.

Legs, Arms, Torso (L), Head.
Fight Die 1d6.


Military Gear: 3 in 6, all parts except head(s), 3 hits.
Necrotic Cyber-Flesh: 2 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.

  • Every time the Teloform Hydra takes a wound, it produces another head, up to three heads.
  • If a Teloform Hydra head is destroyed, either its legs or arms part transforms into another head.
  • A Teloform Hydra adds 2 to the size of its fight die for every head it possesses.
Random table of Teloform Hydra armour:
  1. Depleted Uranium Plating: 5 in 6, torso, 4 hits.
  2. Absolute Terror: 2 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
  3. Berserk Nanomachines: 3 in 6, all parts, 3 hits.
  4. The Lights Are Flickering: 1 in 6, all parts except head(s), 4 hits.
  5. Red Flashbang: 5 in 6, all parts, 1 hit.
  6. Tumorous Regeneration: 2 in 6, all parts except head(s), 2 hits.


Lady of riddles. Often found perching on library doors or desert pass pillars. In the city, a young sphinx works her IT job where she sits behind a desk with a big coke zero and an oversized Matrix t-shirt on to cover her riddles. An old sphinx, the size of a mountain and supercooled in shadow compounds, feeds on worms that hunt the glimmering spine of God's nation.

Wings, Lion Half (L), Human Half (L), Riddle
Fight Die 1d8


Conundrum: 4 in 6, riddle, 3 hits.

  • As long as a Sphinx' riddle part is not destroyed, her other parts cannot be wounded.
Random table of Sphinx armour:
  1. Ptolemaean Plate: 4 in 6, human half, 3 hits.
  2. Bait Answers: 3 in 6, riddle, 1 hit.
  3. Being of Mass Encryption: 3 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
  4. Chaos Mathematics: 5 in 6, riddle, 2 hits.
  5. Too Many Variables: 3 in 6, riddle, 2 hits.
  6. Cute Glasses: 1 in 6, human half, 1 hits.


These guys know their way around the block. They've been in this business for longer than you have and they do what they do best. Perfect clacking. Ineffable rattling. You know they're here because you saw the bones at the entrance posed just so. It's not just a routine, it's a performance. And they'll do it all again tomorrow.

Pesky Archers, Skeleton Mob.
Fight Die 1d8


Overwhelming Numbers: 6 in 6, skeleton mob, 4 hits.
Crypt Regalia: 3 in 6, boss skeleton (see below), 3 hits.

  • When a part of the skeletons is destroyed, reduce their fight die size by 2.
  • The first time the skeleton mob part takes a wound, the skeletons gain a new part called "Boss Skeleton (L)" and increase their fight die size by 4. 
Random table of skeletons armour:
  1. Get Back Here!: 3 in 6, pesky archers, 3 hits.
  2. Treacherous Catacombs: 1 in 6, all parts, 4 hits.
  3. They Reassemble: 2 in 6, skeleton mob, 4 hits.
  4. Power Word Fuck You: 5 in 6, boss skeleton, 2 hits.
  5. More Of These Fuckers, 6 in 6, pesky archers, 1 hit.
  6. Lich Hexes: 2 in 6, boss skeleton, 2 hits.


The sick son of a bitch keeps escaping you. Who knows when he'll kill again? Maybe he's right under your nose. He probably also killed your wife. Detectives' wives are notoriously killable. To make matters worse, you're on a train with seven other sleuths who could all be the murderer, one of whom is British and extremely condescending.

Crime Scene, Suspects, True Identity (L).
Fight Die 1d6


It Could Be Anyone: 6 in 6, true identity, 4 hits.

  • In the fight against the Mystery Killer, instead of your normal body parts, your parts are the other key characters in the mystery (which can only suffer one wound before being destroyed) and yourself. You are your lethal part and can suffer 2 wounds. You still die (are dismissed and lost to history) if you suffer more than 3 wounds.
Random table of mystery killer armour:
  1. Planted Evidence: 2 in 6, crime scene, 1 hit.
  2. A Devious Bunch: 1 in 6, suspects, 2 hits.
  3. Frustration: 3 in 6, suspects, 1 hit.
  4. Shadowy Chase: 4 in 6, true identity, 2 hits.
  5. My Own Short-Sightedness!: 1 in 6, all parts, 1 hit.
  6. One Last Trick: 3 in 6, true identity, 1 hit.
Giallo cover of Edgar Wallace's Council of Justice