Wednesday, April 14, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: L is for Lilith

Lilith by Isra Llona
Lilith by Isra Llona
Last verse, same as the first.

This one should not be a surprise really. I have done Lilith many times before in my April A to Z. She was in my A to Z of Demons (2013),  A to Z of Witches (2014), and my A to Z of Vampires (2015).  So naturally, I want to bring her back for my A to Z of Monsters.

Lilith is fantastic. I am a sucker for any story she is in, and if she shows up on a TV show, even better.

In my A to Z of Demons (2013) I talked about how she is the mother of the Lilim Demons and what they all are.  In many, many ways she is not just the mother of demons, she is the mother of Basic Bestiary II: Demons & Devils.  It was because of the Lilim that I wanted my own demon monster book.

While the Lilim have appeared in other books of mine, namely Eldritch Witchery (with Lilith on the cover), The Warlock, and The Daughters of Darkness, I have been tinkering with them for much longer than that.  

In 2014 I talked about her relationship with witches and then expanded on that in Daughters of Darkness.  Here I listed her as "Chaotic Evil."  In Eldritch Witchery she is just "Evil" and in The Warlock she is "Chaotic."  This is all well and good, but it doesn't really fit with her does it?  Lilith certainly has a lot of chaotic attributes, but I see her more as Neutral Evil.  She may not have started out as Evil, but as they say, sometimes you play the hand dealt to you.  I am still going back and forth on NE or CE at the moment.

Lilith by John Collier
Lilith
aka Mother of Demons, Mother of Monsters, the First Woman, Queen of Night
Medium Fiend (Lilim)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
 Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 19d8+76***** (162 hp)
THAC0: 7 (+12)
Attacks: special (see below)
Damage: See below
Special: See below
Save: Witch 19
Morale: 12 (-)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 7,750 (OSE) 8,000 (LL)

Lilith was the first human woman. She rebelled against the gods that created her and now controls armies of demons.  The gods won't work against her or strike her down because she knows all their True Names. This makes her the most dangerous creature in the universe. Long and ancient pacts between Lilith, demons, devils and the gods keep an uneasy balance of power.  If Lilith were to truly seek out the power just within her grasp, the gods themselves would know fear.

Lilith is also the mother of monsters.  She is the mother of demons, having spawned so many, but she is also the mother of vampires and many say, witches. She rejects these titles and her many offspring.  The only ones she is even remotely interested in are the Lilim, the so-called Daughters of Lilith. 

Queen Lilith never openly attacks.   She considers combat beneath Her and will not partake in it.  Her arena is intrigue, guile, and deception.  Why fight when a cup laced with poison or a dagger in the night is much quicker.  If forced into combat she can summon pretty much any demon she likes except for the Baalor and Baalroch demons.  If it comes down to it, Lilith can cast spells as 20th level Witch of the Demonic Tradition, though she has access to every witch spell known.

As the mother of all Lilim, she shares their powers and weaknesses.

Damage types: Acid (Full), Cold (Half), Electricity/Lightning (None),  Fire, magical (Half), Fire, non-magical (None), Gas, poisonous (None), Iron Weapon (Full),  Magic / Arcane Blast (Full), Poison (None), Silvered Weapon (Half).  

Powers (at will): Charm person or Charm monster, Darkvision, ESP, Hold Person, Immune to fear, Night Vision, Shapeshift (human, demonic, spirit), Suggestion, Telepathy, and Teleport.

Three times a day she can cast fireball, lightning bolt, and wall of fire. One a week she can grant a wish. She can see perfectly in darkness of any kind. Lilith can summon 1d4+4 lilitu demons with a 100% chance. 

She always appears as a young, very attractive woman.  Most often with long flaming red hair.  It is claimed her true form is that of an ancient hag with long, but sparse wild black hair, talons, fangs, and the wings and the feet of a predatory bird.  Either or neither could be her true form. She can shapeshift to any form she likes at will. Her telepathy allows her to assume a form the viewer most desires.

Lilith has no true friends because most fear her.  She is known to ally herself with the Goddess Ereshkigal since both have similar portfolios and areas of concern.  Some even claim that Lilith spent some time as Ereshkigal's handmaiden.  Others claim she served Astártē or Ishtar. She was once the chief consort of Hell, but even the Baalseraph fear her.

--

OK! My first major demon.  REALLY gets me into the mood to work more on the demon book.  But I still have the BB1 to finish first.  Plus doing this entry makes me realize how much more groundwork needs to be done on the demons and the regular monsters still. 

Her AKA line includes her titles, whether she likes them or not.

In the Hit Dice line she has 5 stars, which means she has five special abilities that contribute to her combat power and thus raise her XP value.  I am not sure if she is 5 or not.  Once I get done with all my monsters I will survey them and edit them appropriately. 

There are details here, such as her Lilim powers, that will be offloaded from her entry and put into the Lilim entry proper.  I just needed it here for now.

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: K is for Kelpie

Another "revised" monster today.  This one though is a revision of a monster that appeared back in the AD&D Fiend Folio from 1981.   Now I loved the Fiend Folio. While the Monster Manual was the first D&D book I ever looked at, the Fiend Folio was the first hardcover monster book I ever bought.  I would use it with my Basic and Expert Sets (Moldvay/Cook) and that would be my game.

One creature though I more or less ignored until I began reading Celtic myths was the Kelpie.

Now in the Fiend Folio, the monster Kelpie is a plant-like creature that is only superficially related to the Scottish Kelpie.  In fact, the creature in the FF has more to do with kelp (as in seaweed) than a kelpie.  So I figure I would update the creature a bit.

The Kelpie by Thomas Millie Dow, 1895
Kelpie
aka Water Horse
Medium Fey (Aquatic, Monstrous)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
   Swim: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6* (33 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: grab
Damage: NA
Special: Charm, Shapeshift, Water breathing
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX (D) 
XP: 650 (OSE) 680 (LL)

The kelpie, also known as a water horse, is a shape-shifting creature of the fey that lures men to their watery lairs to their deaths.  The kelpie can appear as a beautiful woman, a handsome lad, a magnificent horse, or in its true form, a skinless, blood and slime-coated monster that combines the features of both humanoid and horse.   They live in dark and dangerous rivers and fast-moving streams.

The kelpie can only attack with its charming song which attacks like a powerful Charm Person spell. The kelpie will charm the person to approach her, in either her nymph or horse form. Once she gets her victim into the water she wraps herself around them with her strong limbs and drags them to the bottom of her lair where they drown. Victims are allowed a save vs. Spells at a -2 due to the power of the kelpie's song.  Once in the "arms" of the kelpie, the victim will need to make a simple Strength check (roll a d20 to roll under their strength score). They may attempt this in the first round they are underwater. They may recheck each round at a cumulative +2 penalty (added to their roll) each round hereafter. So +2 in round two, +4 in round three.  Once the penalty is greater than the victim's strength they drown.  

A kelpie in humanoid or horse form can move about the land but are recognizable by a few signs. In humanoid form, their hair always seems wet and they will wear a silver chain around their neck. In equine form, their hooves will appear to be backward from that of normal horses. They must return to their watery lair each new moon.  While in their humanoid or equine shape they may be "turned" by a cleric.  This turning treats them as a 6 HD creature, but they are not undead.  On a successful turning check, the Kelpie will revert back to their normal form and must get to her watery lair. All charm effects she has cast at that point end.

The Kelpie appears to be related to the nøkk of colder more northern waters.  They share a certain number of similarities, but the nøkk is not evil. 

Each-uisge. This creature is related to the kelpie and is if anything more monstrous and evil. Where the kelpie lives in rivers and streams, the each-uisge lives in lakes (lochs).  While it is unknown what the kelpie does with the humans she kills, the each-uisge has been known to eat its prey.

--

Updates.  

In the description line, the kelpie gets both an Aquatic and a Monstrous descriptor.

Since the Kelpie has better than average strength (14 in this case) I updated my THAC0 calculations to support Strength bonuses. This will not change most of my monsters since most have average strength.  But it will change others and give monsters in this book an edge over their counterparts in other books.   Of course, the Kelpie doesn't cause HP damage so her strength is not a factor in that.   

This is also one of the first "Variations" I have posted that don't require a full second set of stats, like the Faun and Greater Faun from last Wednesday.  The each-uisge is essentially the same creature, stats-wise, just from a different location and temperament.

Contrast this with the nøkk which is a similar creature but of a completely different temperament and nature.  While I could have used the same stats (and they are similar) they are different enough to make them a completely separate entry.  This means I should do a Nuckelavee too.


April 2021 A to Z


Monday, April 12, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: J is for Jack O'Lantern

Here is an old favorite of mine that I just never got right.  I had featured the Jack O'Lantern on three different occasions in three different witch books and each time there were differences.  But none of them felt 100% right to me.  This one is better, but I am not sure I got the nature I want the creature to have exactly right.

Jack O'Lantern

Jack O'Lantern
Medium Plant (Fire)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Unaligned]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3* (17 hp)
THAC0: 16 (+3)
Attacks: 2 tendril whips or special
Damage: 1d6 x2 or special
Special: Breath weapon (fire)
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 75 (OSE) 100 (LL)

This creature is a roughly humanoid-shaped tangle of vines and leaves with a large pumpkin for its head. The pumpkinhead bears a leering face that appears to have been carved there and glows from within with eldritch fire.

A jack-o-lantern is a plant creature brought to life by a combination of eldritch magics. It is said that druids, the fey or a witch knows the ritual to summon these guardians. The nature of the face generally reflects the animating spirit. They are considered to be plant creatures.

The Jack O’Lantern will attack with its whipping tendrils, usually two attacks per round but a rare (5% chance) one will have three. Once per day the jack o’lantern can “Breathe” fire out of carvings in its pumpkin head. A saving throw vs. Breath Weapon is required or take 3d6 fire damage (save for half).

Summoning a jack o’ lantern requires a large patch of pumpkins. Up to four (1d4) will be summoned with a single ritual. The jack o’lanterns will never wander more than 500’ away from their pumpkin patch and will attack any creature not present at the time of its summoning.

--

Well, it is certainly better than what I had before.  

This creature introduces an idea borrowed from D&D 4th and 5th Editions, and that is the Unaligned alignment.  They are neutral for the terms of the D&D Basic and OSR games, but beyond that they are unaligned. I will not use it as much as later editions of the game, but it does have its place and uses for me. 

April 2021 A to Z


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary WotC D&D

Yesterday, April 10, was the 24th Anniversary of Wizards of the Coast purchasing TSR and of course, D&D.

Wizards of the Coast D&D

Wizards of the Coast bought the failing TSR for $25 Million.  Today Wizards of the Coast is worth nearly $1 Billion

This means that Wizards of the Coast has been publishing D&D longer than TSR.

TSR D&D 1974 to 1997, 23 years 
WotC D&D 1997 to 2021 (so far), 24 years.

2024, just 3 more years, D&D will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.   IF I was WotC and looking to a new Edition that would either be when I announce it or release it. 

I am not about to speculate what will be in D&D 6 any more than I am willing to speculate when there will be a D&D 6.  I am sure we will see something more akin to D&D 5 though than the radical departures that 3 was from 2, 4 from 3, and 5 from 4. 

No idea if I will upgrade or not.  I have plenty of books and games to keep me happy till I die, to be honest.  But in any case, happy 24th birthday WotC D&D.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Beastmaster (1982)

The Beastmaster (1982)

Another one that made it's presence felt in many D&D games at the time.  In fact, I can think of about 4 or 5 different beastmaster classes off the top of my head now.

It has been forever since I have seen this one, so lets see what we have here. 

We have a young Rip Torn as our bad guy Maax ("May Axe").  Some scantily clad witches tell that King Zad's unborn son will kill him. One of the witches is none other than the future Mrs. Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones. 

The witches transfer the unborn baby to a cow. Here they attempt to sacrifice him but are stopped by Ben Hammer. He takes the baby to raise as his own. 

Soon young Dar shows a strong affinity to animals. And sooner again we have older Dar in the form of mulletted 80s stalwart Marc Singer.  But he gets no time to enjoy it when his village is attacked by Rip Torn's men.  Maax sees Dar's brand from the witches but before he can get him Dar's dog drags him to the wilderness.  Dar returns to his village (seeing out of the eyes of an eagle) only to find everyone dead.  Even his dog died trying to save him.  

We get an 80s training montage of Dar training and learning how to talk to animals, including some ferrets.  Mind you we are now a half-hour into the movie and Singer's most significant dialog has been with the ferrets. 

I can say it is much slower than I remember, but not as cheesy.  Oh, it is still cheesy, but not as bad as I remember.  I think I was getting it confused with some Roger Corman flicks.  Credit to the movie, they use a lot of real animals and Marc Singer seems really comfortable with them.  Today they would just use CGI.

The Beastmaster may have supernatural powers but that doesn't mean he isn't above using them to steal (the now sadly late) Tanya Robert's clothes or scare her a bit with his lion. 

There are some cool winged "bird-men" or something, but Dar doesn't fight them.

Dar finds a city "Aruk" with a ziggurat (a model, but not a bad one) and the road is lined with dead people long before the same was seen in Meereen in Game of Thrones.  Rip Torn is here sacrificing children but Dar saves one with his eagle.  An effective scene, it would have been better if the eagle had saved the child and tore out Rip Torn's eyes or something, but we still have an hour to go.  Plus Dar returns the child, so I guess the eagle was busy.  Pretty solid good vs evil lines are being drawn here. 

John Amos shows up as Seth.  He appears to be some sort of Monk.  This is one of the roles he took after Good Times.  I always like John Amos, he should have been a much bigger star than he was.  

The undead guards are kind of cool too. Even little Kodo got to be a hero in the end. 

This was much better and more fun than I recall, to be honest.  Nice to have this kind of surprise really

Gaming Content

Lots really.

Ring of Scrying. This ring has an eye set into it like a gem.  Any spellcaster that can scry (Magic-users, witches) can see through this ring using a scrying medium such a pool, mirror, or crystal ball.  Witches will give these to servants and cowans so they can literally keep an eye on them. Damage to the ring though will damage the witch viewing through it.

Beastmaster classes. I covered these a while back in a Class Struggles.

#AtoZChallenge2021: I is for Incubus

The Nightmare, Fuseli
Something a little different today.  Different in that I talk a lot about the Succubus, but never really anything at all about their male counterpart the Incubus.  Since my next book after the Basic Bestiary is going to be about Demons and Devils, I figure I better get one detailed here.

The Monster Manual and medieval demonologies are replete with all sorts of "male" demons. The Monster Manual itself only has two female demons, the succubus and marilith, and only one female devil, the Erinyes. Four if you include the Night Hag (but more on that later).  Because of this, I have never really seen a need for the Incubus.  There is one "Species" the Succubus and she can shapeshift however she feels fit.  And for what it is worth that is still true.  Though I got to thinking what if the incubus was something else.

Going back to my cover, Fuseli's The Nightmare, there is an imp sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman while a ghostly horse, a Nightmare, looks on.  There are two versions of this painting, but both are the same.

The creature on her is an incubus. This got me thinking.  What if the incubus is NOT the male version of this:

Succubus

But rather the demonic version of this:

Cupid

An incubus is an imp-like demon that is a demonic mockery of the cherubic cupids of Renaissance and Victorian art. 

I like it to be honest. They invade women's dreams and appear to be a tall strapping male that makes love to them all night, leaving them drained (Constitution drain).  They are kin to the Succubi (they are both Lilim) and might even be the offspring of succubi and humans.

Now...I am still working on a few things for the demon book.  One of the reasons they are not in the Basic Bestiary is because I have not worked out all the issues with their stat blocks and all the demonic families I have.  I mean are succubi Chaotic Evil, Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil?  I have seen them done all three ways.  Is the Lamia a monster or are they demons?  Still too many unanswered questions.  But until then, here is an Incubus.

The Nightmare, Fuseli 1781
Incubus
Small Fiend (Demonic, Lilim)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
    Fly: 120' (40') [12"]
   Spirit: 240' (80') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8+15** (38 hp)
   Small:  5d6+15** (33 hp)
THAC0: 15 (+5)
Attacks: 1 claw or special
Damage: 1d4
Special: See below
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 10 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 575 (OSE) 660 (LL)

The incubus is sometimes considered to be the male counterpart to the succubus.  While a succubus can change shape to male, the incubus is a different, but a related creature.  Like the succubus, the incubus can invade the dreams of their victims.  This is often how they make their first contact with the victim.  In this form, the incubus is merely a spirit and cannot attack or damage.  But once they have made contact and their victim, usually a woman of pure and good standing, they will begin their nightly visits.

The incubus can appear as any sort of creature or person the woman desires.  If that desire is say forbidden such as the love of a man married to her sister or the head of a church, then incubus' connection will be stronger. During these nightly visits, the incubus will drain 1 point of Constitution from the victim.   Any incubus typically has a few victims he sees every night, so one sign of an incubus problem would be many women wasting away over the course of a week.  When they reach zero Constitution the incubus will take their soul to be bartered in the lower planes.  

The true form of an incubus is that of a gargoyle-like imp creature about 3' to 3½' tall. It has small leathery bat-like wings, a pinched evil little face with a mouth full of sharp teeth, and tiny hands with small sharp claws. They are covered in fur and smell of soured milk, body odor, odor, and brimstone. 

An Exorcism spell will remove their spirit forms.  A Protection from Evil spell will keep them at bay for the duration.  They can only be harmed by magic or magical weapons. Killing an incubus sends it back them the lower planes. Once the threat is abolished victims can heal at the rate of 1 Constitution point of bed rest each week. 

Talismans and amulets that protect wearers from demons will work, but only if they are specifically crafted for incubi or succubi. 

--

Not bad.  Not 100% perfect yet, but I have some time.  I still need to work in magic resistance and what demonic abilities all Lilim share. 

The Incubus has three different kinds of movement and of course, has the reduced hp of a small creature.

April 2021 A to Z

Friday, April 9, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: H is for Hag, Chaos

Hags a huge part of any stories around or about witches and witchcraft.  Nearly any fair tale witch can be or has been described as a hag.  While through the various versions of the game a Hag has either been their own kind of creature, a giantess or even a monstrous humanoid, they have eventually settled on the place I have always thought they work best, as a type of Fey creature.  Sure they are evil, no question about that, but this also gives them a bit more.

Hag, Chaos
aka Chaos Crone
Medium Fey (Chaos)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d3 only with other types of hags)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6** (33 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 1d4+2
Special: shape change, charm, witch magic, hag powers, fey qualities
Save: Witch 6
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (V) 
XP: 950 (OSE) 980 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 12 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 12 (0)

Chaos hags are among the smallest, least physically powerful of all the hags.  What they lack in physical prowess they make up for in deviousness and cunning. 

Chaos Hags live to disrupt and cause chaos. The favorite form and tactic is to disguise themselves as a beautiful and innocent woman who has suffered some tragedy.  She will insert herself into a family, village or town.  Small enough that everyone knows everyone, but large enough to give her options.  She will then attempt to charm and seduce anyone she can to bring about distrust.  She will cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated mischief.  She won't be able to help herself though and sooner or later someone will get killed, either by her hand or someone she has charmed to do so. 

Once she has the area in a complete uproar she will try to get the most upstanding citizen to "run away with her" so they can be together.  If this citizen is a lawful cleric or good paladin then even better.  While in the lover's embrace she will then transform to her normal hideous state and kill and eat her former lover.  The next phase of her chaos will arise when leaves any children from this union at the doorstep of a good and lawful family.

The children appear normal at first. The girls are even quite beautiful but over time the boys will become Calibans (qv) and the girls will become a random type of hag when they reach 60 years of age. Despite their normal looks, they will be fully chaotic evil creatures and will continue in their mother's footsteps.

The chaos hag can attack with her claws and teeth like many other hags and she can command the spells of a 5th level witch. She can control animals to do her bidding as per the spell Animal Control. She can cast a Charm Person up to three times per day.  She is immune to sleep, charm and hold spells and only takes half damage from the cold.  She is vulnerable to cold iron and takes double damage from that.  She cannot enter holy ground unless invited and singing makes her angry. 

Given that she can birth other types of hags leads scholars to believe that they are a step between the common hags, the night hags, and the Urhags.  But no scholar has thus far been willing to test their theories.  A Chaos Hag can live anywhere in any climate.  When she is not causing trouble she can be found in a particularly dark and desolate cave. 

--

Another feature I am trying out are ability scores for each monster.  These have become commonplace now for the last 20+ years of the game.  I do have all of these and use them to help figure out pluses to HP due to constitution, damage due to strength, and AC due to dexterity. 

While I do have these for every monster I am not 100% I need them. What are your thoughts.

April 2021 A to Z


Thursday, April 8, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: G is for Glaistig

Another creature from the stories and myths of Scotland.  This time a creature that is either a faerie or a ghost.  While the desire is there to classify everything, sometime the creature in question has many properties and game designers do the best they can.  So today I am presenting the Glaistig; the Woman in Green or the Witch of the Wood. 

Like the Banshee, the Glaistig is one of many different types of faerie women that might also be ghosts that inhabit the stories, myths, and legends of the British Isles. While the Banshee can be slotted, game-wise, as a ghost, the Glaistig makes more sense as a living faerie creature.

Woman in Green by Gary Dupuis
Woman in Green by Gary Dupuis

Glastig
aka Witch of the Wood, Green Lady
Medium Fey

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral 75%, Chaotic Good 20%, Chaotic Evil 5%)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 9d8+9** (50 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: 1 slam or spell
Damage: 1d6+2
Special: Witch spells, Fey qualities, become ethereal at will. 
Save: Witch 9
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

A glastig is a green-skinned woman with the legs of a donkey. She will often hide these in long dresses. Since she has the ability to become ethereal she is often thought of as a ghost. 

She prefers not to attack physically but can do so by launching herself with her powerful legs to slam into a creature. Otherwise, she can cast spells as a Witch of the 7th level and make herself ethereal at will.

As a fey creature, she is immune to the effects of a ghoul's paralysis. Silver or magic weapons are required to hit. Cold iron weapons can be used and will do double damage.  

The glastig protects her lands and area fiercely. She will attack invaders but can aid those that also protect her lands. Glastigs will work with other fey creatures to keep their lands safe.  For this and her magic use, they are often called "the witch of the woods." They are also known as "The Green Lady" due to their skin color and the color they are favored to wear. 

To appease a glastig it is common to leave a bit of milk in a bowl on a rock near where the glastig is believed to live.  When no one can see the glastig will drink the milk and add whoever left it out to her circle of protection and be inclined to be Good towards them.  If the milk is spoiled when left out the glastig will disfavor the humans and become Evil.  Most times the glastig is neutral to humans. 

--

She is a bit like a dryad and a bit like a nymph but a lot more powerful.  This is not the first monster I have made that uses witch magic, nor will it be the last.

April 2021 A to Z


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: F is for Faun

My interest in RPGs and D&D, in particular, came from my love of Greek myths.  I was already a fan of Greek myths when I first picked up a copy of the AD&D Monster Manual all the way back in 1979.   So I could not in good conscious even think about bringing a new monster book to life if it did not somehow honor both my love for those old myths and that original book.   So to that end, here is the Faun, a creature from Greek/Roman myths and related to the satyr of those myths and the Monster Manual.

Faun by Pál Szinyei Merse

Faun
Medium Fey

   Faun  Greater Faun
Frequency:   Very Rare  Very Rare
Number Appearing:   1d4 (1d8)  1d2 (1d6)
Alignment:   Neutral (Chaotic Good)   Neutral (Chaotic Neutral)
Movement:   120' (40') [12"]  180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class:   6 [13]  4 [15]
Hit Dice:   1d8+1* (6 hp)
 4d8+4* (22 hp)
THAC0:   18 (+1)  15 (+4)
Attacks:   1 weapon, song  1 weapon, song
Damage:   1d6  1d6+1
Special:   Song, fey qualities   Song, fey qualities
Save:   Elf 1  Elf 4
Morale:   8 (8)  8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class:   XVI (G)  XVI (G)
XP:   15 (OSE), 15 (LL)   200 (OSE), 215 (LL)

Fauns are fae people of the forest who love to entertain guests and go on dangerous quests. They can be rash and temperamental, and sometimes are reckless with the powers of their music. They are friendlier to men than most faeries, though are quickly angered by the destruction of woodland.  Fauns, like satyrs, are the male counterparts to nymphs and dryads.  When not playing music or drinking they are usually found chasing after nymphs.  The offspring of a faun and nymph is a satyr if male and a nymph if female.  As a creature of the fey, the faun is vulnerable to iron. They take double damage from any weapon made from cold iron.  Additionally, they are immune to the effects of charm, sleep or hold spells unless they are cast by another fey creature of greater level/HD.

Fauns are the wilder cousins of the satyr.  Like satyrs, they are rarely surprised (1 on a 1d8).  Fauns all play musical instruments like pan pipes, flutes, or drums.  If a faun plays everyone that hears must make a save vs. Spells or be affected by an Irresistible Dance spell. If the faun is with a mixed group of satyrs then their song of charm, fear, or sleep can also be in effect, with separate saves.  

A faun will engage in combat to protect their lands, their fellow fauns, and nymphs or their herds of goats.  Typically a faun is very much the stereotype of a lover and not a fighter.  They can be bribed with wine, the stronger the better.  

A faun appears to be much like a satyr.  They are medium-sized with human-like broad hairy chests and muscular arms.  Their lower half is that of a goat.  Their faces are a combination of elf and goat with elongated faces, goat-like years and horns, and a beard. 

Greater Faun:  Greater Fauns are the larger and wilder varieties of fauns and satyrs.  They are stronger and tougher than normal fauns and will act as leaders.   Greater Fauns will claim descent from some god, typically Pan or some other primal nature diety. 

Each greater faun has a True Name. Anyone that knows the True Name of a greater faun has power over him as per the spell Suggestion

Some greater fauns are shamans and can also cast spells as a 2nd level druid.

--

So a tabled monster block today with two varieties.  These are proper fae creatures so they have the vulnerability to iron. 

Doing this table has pointed out some deficiencies in my approach though.
For starters, my Treasure Type/Horde Class needs some work.  While XVI (G) makes sense to anyone that plays Labyrinth Lord and/or OSE, it is fairly inelegant. One, XVI or G would suffice.  I guess I could just put the treasure types in the back of the book and work it out that way. 

Secondly, and this is related to the same larger issue, my XP values are also a bit of an eyesore.  Yes I am happy with the numbers I am getting.  But while OSE and LL are covered this does nothing for the GM using say Swords &Wizardry or AD&D.  I could just leave it blank, but XP listings are one of the really great things about later books and editions of the game.

Likely there will be a table in the back of the book with all the monsters listed with their XP values for various systems.  That makes the most sense.  But likely I will leave at least one there. 


April 2021 A to Z


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: E is for Elf, Shadow

Back in September, I did a Shadow Week where I looked at various types of Shadow Elves for the various editions of the game.  I mentioned then I had my own in the works.  Well, it took me a bit, but here they are.  Meet the Shadow Elves.  Masters of their arts, but their art can kill you.

Nielsen_eastofthesun28
Elf, Shadow
aka Umbral Elf
Medium Humanoid (Fey)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d8 (2d8)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 1d8+1* (6 hp)
THAC0: 18 (+1)
Attacks: 1 weapon or special
Damage: 1d6
Special: See below; Fear immunity
Save: Elf 1
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XX (C) 
XP: 19 (OSE) 21 (LL)

Shadow Elves trace their ancestry back to the sundering of the elves and the elvish diaspora.  Where some elves fled to the forests of the mortal world, some to deep underground, and others back to their ancestral lands in Faerie, these elves fled to the in-between planes of shadow.  Here they changed and became something different than their kin. Like the Ranagwith or "Free Elves" they are rarely encountered. 

The Umbral Elves as they are also known are tall, 6 to 6 1/2 feet tall, but thin, weighing only 150 lbs.  Their skin is pale white to pale blues. Their hair varies from white to pale blonds to dark blacks.  Redheads are rare and are taken as a great omen of change.  They speak Elven and any other languages their intelligence scores allow.   Due to their life living in the shadowy planes the shadow elf can also see the spirits of the dead and can speak to them (per the Speak to Dead spell).  Shadow elves have infravision to 90' and low light vision to 120'.  They are not unduly affected by sunlight as the dark elves are but they still do not prefer it.  Umbral elves are not just immune to the touch of ghouls they are also immune to the touch of ghasts as well. 

These elves are like other elves in that they produce great art, but their art, songs, and poems are all of a melancholic sort.  It is said that listing to a Shadow Elf aria can move one to tears. Listing to an opera can move one to suicide.   Suicides among shadow elf opera singers are so widespread it has become part of their cultural history. After a perfect performance, knowing they can never achieve more the singer will end their life.  Likewise, all their art is breathtakingly beautiful but heartbroken.  This has had an effect on the shadow elves as a people. They are completely immune to all fear.  Even magical fear, such as from dragons or various fiends, has the effect of angering shadow elves.  A failed save on any fear effect only causes them to pause for around. Then they react with anger.

Shadow elves do not have clerics. They feel the gods have forsaken them so they no longer offer them worship or devotion. They do have witches and warlocks that have patrons of primal forces, as well as wizards.  For every group of 8 or more shadow elves, one will be a wizard or warlock of the 2nd level.  For every group of 12 or more, there will be a wizard or warlock of 3rd level or higher.  Shadow elves can take any class elves can save for cleric or paladin. Shadow elves find the "light" elves too frivolous and the "dark" elves too brutal.  They do get along well enough with the Ranagwithe (Free Elves) as they see them as fellow outsiders. 

Shadow elves, like all elves, are excellent archers, but most prefer not to use missile attacks if they can avoid it. Shadow elves have strict rules of honorable combat.  They use specially designed short swords that they dedicate their lives to mastering.  The shadow elf warrior prefers hand-to-hand combat.  He considers combat to be the highest form of his art and his opponent should not be considered his enemy but something more akin to a dancing partner.  Combat without a combatant is only practice.  To this end, despite their chaotic alignments, the shadow elf will fight with honor.  For example, if their opponent drops or breaks their weapon they will wait till they gain a new one.  If they are fighting with a shield and their opponent does not have one the shadow elf will drop their shield as well.  Older (higher level) shadow elves will be covered with scars from practice and previous battles. Shadow elves have even been known to weep openly at the death of a particularly powerful combatant; knowing in the pursuit of their own "art" they have destroyed another "artist."

Shadow Elves are found living in underground lairs, particularly dense and dark forests, and in the lands that overlap the Faerie World, the mortal world, and the shadow worlds.

--

Elves are as ubiquitous to the game as dragons are.  I wanted an elf that was not something we have seen before.  These are not the light elves of Tolkien or the dark elves of myth or even the Drow of Gygax or Salvatore.  But they are not the Shadow Elves of Mystara either. 

Elves in D&D are immune to the touch of ghouls.  Shadow Elves, because part of their origin is the Plane of Shadow, extend that to Ghasts as well. 

Since they are elves and not faerie creatures proper their type is Humanoid (Fey).  They have some fey properties, but not all.  For example, there are no hospitality codes for these creatures and they can handle iron with no issues.  

Tomorrow I'll post a proper Fey creature, or maybe two!

April 2021 A to Z


Monday, April 5, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: D is for Dragon, Purple

I am SO glad I watched Dragonslayer over the weekend because it really puts me in the mood for today's monster.  

Dragons are a huge part of the games we play at home. My oldest son LOVES dragons and has, well, I have no idea how many, scattered all over the place. His games are filled with dragons.  So when I want to add new dragons to my games or books, I first turn to him.  Especially if I want a fresh take.

I remember the Purple, Yellow, and Orange dragons from Dragon Magazine 65 and then updated in Dragon magazine 248.   I included my own take on an Orange dragon in my Pumpkin Spice Witch book.   This dragon was originally conceived for my High Witchcraft book.  This is the dragon that has given us so many draconic bloodline sorcerers.

Dragon Henry Justice Ford
Dragon, Purple

aka Draco Arcanis Occultis, Arcane Dragon
Huge Dragon

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Fly: 240' (80') [24"]
  Burrow: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 10d8+20* (65 hp)
  Huge: 10d12+20** (85 hp)
THAC0: 11 (+8)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, + special
Damage: 1d6+3x2, 2d8+3
Special: Breath weapon (magical energy), dragon fear, low-light vision (120’), magic use
Save: Monster 10
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XV (H) 
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

Habitat: Underground or Urban areas
Probability Asleep: 25% 
Probability of Speech: 100%
Breath Weapon: 75’ long, 5' wide beam of magical energy
Spells: First: 3, Second: 3, Third: 3, Fouth: 2, Fifth: 1

Purple dragons are a very rare mutation among prismatic dragons.  They are born mostly to red, blue, or black dragons and rarely among green or white. Even then only 5% of all dragon births can result in a purple dragon.  It is believed they are born most often in areas of high magic.  Since all of the prismatic dragons are very vain, the wyrmling purple is often abandoned. Green dragons usually kill them outright.  The ones that survive learn that their most important weapon is guile, trickery, and deceit. 

Like all dragons, the purple can fight with its claws and bite. Their breath weapon is a 75' long beam of magical energy. They will also fight with spells in any form. 

The purple dragons are among the smartest of all dragon-kind. They will always speak and use magic. They can cast spells as a magic-user/wizard of 9th level. These dragons are fond of casting Polymorph Self  (fourth level) and masquerading as a human.  In this form, they will be found living in cities where they will often study magic and accumulate wealth.  Their lairs will have an underground area where they will keep their treasures and sleep in their dragon form.

These dragons are very solitary in regards to other dragons, but they do keep humanoids nearby. These are often servants, slaves, thralls, and the occasional victim.  They have been known to also become the patrons of Draconic Warlocks and Witches.  Wizards will also seek them out for advanced training in the magical arts.  A purple dragon can speak draconic, common, its alignment language, and up to four more languages.  Typically elven is learned. 

--

This block has the extra details needed for dragons.  Additionally, we see our first Huge creature.  It can use the normal d8 for hp if you wish to stick to the rules of your particular Basic game, or you can use a d12 instead to reflect its larger size. In the case of this 10 HD monster, the difference is 20 hp.

April 2021 A to Z


AND

If you are doing the A to Z Challenge Scavenger Hunt, you just found a Dragon!



Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Dragonslayer (1981)

Dragonslayer (1981)
Since April is Monster Month here I thought it might be fun to check some monster-themed Sword & Sorcery & Cinema movies.  Up first is a classic and premiered at the height of the 80s fantasy craze. Here is 1981's Dragonslayer from both Paramount and Disney.

We are introduced to one of the most famous dragons outside of Westeros or Erebor, Vermithrax Pejorative.  Though he is mentioned among the dragons in Game of Throne's first season.  

The movie is a little slow, but on par with what was normal at the time.  Peter MacNicol is fine as the apprentice turned dragonslayer Galen, but I can't help but think if someone else would have been better in the role.  Caitlin Clarke was great as the girl pretending to be a boy Valerian.  She returned to theatre work after this and this was her only major role.  She sadly passed of ovarian cancer in 2004.

Sadly the movie under-performed in the box office and some of the reviews were not great, but the movie was fun then and to be honest the effects have held up well enough.  It has achieved "cult movie" status and that is not a bad thing.  It certainly is a great one to have on a Dragon-themed movie night.

The effects are good and the director gets away with a lot of "showing less is more."  We only see bits and pieces of the dragon until the very end when it is most effective. Sure some of the stop motion looks very stop motion-y, but Vermithrax still looks like he could go toe to toe with Smaug or Drogon.  I really can't help but think that this dragon wasn't at least some of the inspiration for the DragonRaid game

The musical queues in this are pure Disney so they are also very effective. 

Gaming Content

Now THAT is a Dragonlance! The Sicarius Dracorum really shows that a spear, or a lance, is the best weapon for fighting a dragon.  The forging scene where Galen heats the metal with magic is really one of the best.  If you are not forging your magic weapons like this then you are missing out!

Caitlin's dragon scale shield, while less theatric, is just as magical. 

I am sure there are those that will nitpick that the "dragon" only has two legs and not four, but I can't get worked up over that. He is still a fantastic dragon.

#AtoZChallenge2021: C is for Cat-sìth

Another creature in the guise of an animal and we do not go too far astray from the homes of the barghest. This time the animal is a cat and creature is a Cat-sìth.   

Cat-sìth
Cat-sìth
aka Cait Sídhe
Medium Fey

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4* (22 hp)
THAC0: 15 (+4)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, + special
Damage: 1d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Bad luck, fear, low-light vision (120’), scent, speech
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 200 (OSE) 215 (LL)

Cait Sídhe or Cat Sìth (Caught SHEE) are magical cat-like creatures that populate the same lands of faeries and other woodland creatures. They appear to be large cats with black fur and a spot of white on their chest. Sometimes they have white paws or even white faces.  All cat-sìth have eyes that glow yellow, orange, or green. In the lands they call home the cat-sìth are often feared to be demons or a witch in the form of a cat. In any case, the appearance of a cat sìth is a sure sign that a witch is nearby.

Cat-sìth makes sudden sprints to bring down prey. It prefers to attack small mammals and birds and rarely physically attack humanoids, though it has been recorded of a Cat-sìth adding a pixie or brownie to their diet once in a while. When dealing with humanoids a cat-sìth can defend themselves physically but prefer to use their spell-like abilities.

Bad Luck: The cat-sìth can target one victim as a recipient of a Bad Luck curse.  This cast as a Bestow Curse spell by a 4th level witch.  The victim is at a -2 on all rolls till sunrise the next day. The cat-sìth may do this up to 3/day but multiple uses on the same target are not cumulative.

Fear: The sight of a cat-sìth is so disturbing to most that it emanates a Fear Aura that acts like a fear spell cast by a 5th level caster. The difference is that the aura is limited to 5’ and the victim must be able to see the cat sìth.

The cat-sìth has low-light vision to 120’. A cat-sìth is capable of speech and can speak any language its intelligence allows. They can speak Common, Sylvan, any local language, and the language of Cats.  

The cat-sìth makes an excellent familiar. Their association with witches is long and not without cause.  Most cat-sìth avoid humanoids, with the exceptions of the fey, so the only ones likely to be encountered by humanoids are the ones in the charge of a witch. They are all believed to be in the service of the King of Cats (Cat Lord).

--

A fun little beastie.  This one adds an "AKA" line under the name, many monsters are known by other names as well. 

While this one looks like a cat it is actually a faerie creature.  Now I could have listed it as Beast (Fey) like the Barghest is Beast (Demonic), but I felt that it fit better as a proper creature of the fey.   


April 2021 A to Z


Friday, April 2, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: B is for Barghest

Here is an old favorite of mine that I have done a couple of different versions of in various postings and books.  Is this the final version? No idea! But it is getting close.

This one is a nasty little beastie from English lore.

Barghest
Large Beast (Demonic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d6 (1 or 1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Humanoid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12** (39 hp)
   Large 6d10+12** (45 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws (humanoid/hybrid) or 1 bite (dog/hybrid)
Damage: 1d6 x2 claw or 2d4 bite
Special: Stare, hit by silver or magical weapons.
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 950 (OSE) 980 (LL)

Barghest

A Barghest is an evil shape-changing fiend that hungers for the souls of mortals. A barghest may appear as a huge demonic black dog the size of a bear, or in a humanoid form nearly seven feet tall, resembling a goblin or wingless gargoyle, or a combination of both forms. A barghest never uses weapons, even in its humanoid form, preferring to feel the blood of its enemies run down its claws. It is tenacious; if a barghest fails its morale check and flees, it will return in 1d6 turns to attack again.

Anyone who meets the gaze of a barghest will feel the heat of the monster's stare; such characters must save vs. Paralysis or be paralyzed in terror for 1d6+1 turns (or until the barghest is slain). A character is deemed to have met the gaze of the barghest if he or she faces it in combat, or if the character is surprised by the monster. Fighting a barghest with gaze averted results in a penalty of -4 on all attack rolls. Those who succeed at the saving throw are immune to the monster's gaze for the remainder of the combat (at least one full turn at the minimum).

Although it is not undead, a barghest is inherently unholy and can be Turned by Clerics (as a spectre). They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons. A barghest generally speaks Common as well as the languages of infernals, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, and can communicate with wolves. One can sometimes be found ruling over goblins or hobgoblins, but most commonly a barghest haunts a lonely stretch of road, preying on travelers.

Barghest lairs will only have a single creature or a creature and up to three whelps.  A barghest whelm is weaned at one year and kicked out of the lair.  If encountered by a parent or siblings it will be attacked. Barghests have no sense of family and hate all creatures except for themselves.

Their coats are of the darkest of blacks and often matted with blood. Their eyes burn red and it is said the fires of hell can be seen in them. 

--

What's new today?

This creature has a few more things going on.

First, it is a Large Beast (Demonic). Let's break that down.   
In my Basic Bestiary, I am going to give different HD for different sized creatures.  A Large creature will use a d10.  Medium creatures will still use a standard d8, Small a d6, and Tiny a d4.  On the other side of things, a Huge creature will use a d12 and a Gargantuan creature will use a d20.  This is much the same as D&D 5e uses

For the purists, you can continue to use the d8 but I will include both numbers as I am doing above.  AD&D First Edition only used Small, Medium, and Large creatures.  The vast majority will be these three sizes. 

It is a beast, but also Demonic.  So it's intelligence is higher and has some demonic traits.  In this case, it can change shape, can only be hit by magic or silver, and has a special gaze attack.

I am also including a THAC0 line with a BAB in parentheses. 

Things are shaping up.


April 2021 A to Z


Thursday, April 1, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: A is for Allip

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”  Francisco Goya, 1799
“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”
The sleep of reason produces monsters.
Francisco Goya, 1799

It is April and that means it is time for the AtoZ Challenge for 2021. I didn't do this for a few years, but this year I wanted to give it a go again to see how it has changed, see what is new, and mostly to motivate me to get all my monsters done!

My monster book idea grew from my love of monster books in general.  I have spoken about my love for the original Monster Manual here a few times. I have talked about other monster books too.  For me it was monsters that were my gateway to D&D. I still love them.

This year is the A to Z of Monsters. I am working on completing a couple of different monster books. One focused on monsters of fairy tales, myths, and legends and in particular monsters related to witchcraft. The other is a massive tome of demons and fiends of all sorts.  The first book will feature all sorts of creatures, right now there are a large number of undead monsters.  Makes sense when you consider that I spend a lot of time writing and playing horror games.   

Some creatures have appeared in my witch books.  Some are completely new.  Many have come from challenges like this and my Monstrous Mondays posts.  Some are even like today's beastie.  A d20 conversion of a 3.5 monster to OSR-like stats.

As I have been discussing here I am working on my "universal stat-block."  Today though I am going to start with the one I have been using in my Monstrous Mondays and tweak it from here.

Allip
Medium Undead (Incorporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
  Fly: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+2** (20 hp)
Attacks: Special
Damage: NA See below
Special: Suprise, touch deals 1 point of Wisdom drain, only hit by silver or magical weapons.
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 275 (OSE) 290 (LL)

Allips are shadowy, incorporeal undead that mutter and speak with the voice of madness from beyond the grave. The voice acts as a Suggestion spell upon anyone hearing the quiet mutterings: the suggestions of an allip are usually senseless but sinister.

An allip is usually only seen out of the corners of the eye.  Thus they can surprise on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. Elves are surprised only on a roll of 1-3.  Once it attacks it is visible to all. 

The allip’s touch does not deal damage but causes the victim to lose 1 point of wisdom. If a victim’s wisdom falls to 0, it dies and will become a shadow within 2d6 days. Allips can only be hit with magical or silver weapons.

It is believed that allips are caused by people who have died in a state of profound despair.  Now they seek revenge on the living for their current state. They are always found where they died.  They are turned as a 4 HD undead.

--

So here is a start! 

You can find all the other participating blogs and their social media links on this Google Sheet.

I also have a growing Twitter List here of everyone participating on Twitter.

**Please Note. I have 'Comment Moderation' turn on. I have been getting hit with a ton of spam.**

April 2021 A to Z


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: BX RPG

BX RPG
I am posting this at the end of the month instead of the first (new month, new character) since April will be full of monsters.  But in a way, today's character is a monster in his own right.

Last month I posted the stats for Twill Topknot and before that Sarana, the first main NPCs of my War of the Witch Queens campaign.   While I have plenty more NPCs to figure out and stat up, there is one that I do need to do and figure out how he did it.  That NPC is Kelek the Cruel.

I have talked about good (evil) old Kelek in the past and I think stating him out is a good idea. He has his origins in Basic/Expert D&D, Quest for the Heartstone and The Shady Dragon Inn, so Basic-era is the obvious choice.  More so since he is my Big Bad for War of the Witch Queens.

One of the things I want to do with this is pick and choose from various RPG/OSR systems.  I did Old School Essentials with Twill.  While that doesn't mean I can't reuse it, but I would like to see what is out there. I also need to figure out what sort of "magic-user" old Kelek is since I also have that choice.

Much like what I have done with Skylla (with whom he has a history with) I took her Magic-user and tried her out as a witch in various OSR style games. If she is a witch, then what is Kelek?  

Kelek the Cruel from Quest of the Heartstone

He is a type of wizard to be sure.  He learned his magic, so a warlock or a sorcerer (as defined by D&D 3 to 5) is fun, but not really who he is. I need some class that also has the ability to cast gates, maybe even a way to summon a minor demon or two. But not someone interested in controlling undead. Most importantly I need someone that would be able to kill a Witch Queen.  

We know from Kelek's history that he wants some form of immortality or mastery over life and death.  To me that says Necromancer.  But I am kinda bored with necromancers.  I mean I have done necromancers so many times.  BUT this group has never gone up against one of my necromancers before.  Eric over at Swords & Stitchery also talks about Kelek and even has him becoming a lich. Eric usually has very good ideas, so I am inclined to take this as a vote towards Necromancer. 

So if it is a necromancer, then which one?

The Basic Fantasy one is nice, but not really powerful enough for what I need.  The necromancer from Adventures Dark & Deep is good. Has a lot of potential but still not exactly what I want. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea also has a great necromancer, but the spell list is not 100% where I want it. Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts are getting much closer, as is Gavin's Theorems and Thaumaturgy. The one that feels the closest is the one from the BX RPG.

I reviewed the BX RPG a while back and have been wanting to do something more with it. 

If he is my big bad for War of the Witch Queens then I am going to take advantage of BX RPGs 1-20 level spread and make him 15th level.

Kelek the Cruel from HeroForge
Get your own Kelek the Crue from HeroForge

Kelek the Cruel
Male Human (mostly) Necromancer, 15th level, Chaotic Evil

Kelek

Strength: 15
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 13
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 14
Charisma: 7

HD: 9d4 +6 (+9)
hp: 40

AC: 0 (Bracers AC 1, Ring of Protection +!)
Base THAC0: 14

Saving Throws (+1 for magic, +1 ring)
Paralyzation: 8
Petrification: 8
Wands: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spells: 8

Weapons
Dagger +1
Staff of Striking
Wand of Cold

Spells
First level: Read Magic, Sleep, Necrotic Shield, Fear, Hold Portal, Read Languages
Second level: Hold Person, Knock, Mirror Image, Wizard Lock, Necrotic Touch, Blight
Third level: Fly, Haste, Death Purge, Clairvoyance, Necrotic Blast, Dispel Magic
Fourth level: Dimension Door, Polymorph Other, Necrotic Strike, Wizard Eye, Confusion
Fifth level: Plane of Death, Magic Jar, Teleport, Life Drain
Sixth level: Abyssal Flame, Anti-Magic Shell, Death Spell
Seventh level: Astral Spell, Instant Summons
Eighth level: Clone, Gate

Scrolls*
First level: Chill Touch
Second level: Choke, Speak with the Dead
Third level: Skull Sight, Unhallow
Fourth level: Charm Monster
Fifth level: Death Spell
Sixth level: Knowledge of Life
Seventh level: Summon Demon
Eighth level: Symbol (Pain)

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 156 lbs
Age: 55

*The spells from scrolls are Necromancer spells from Theorems and Thaumaturgy. I am likely to give him other necromancer scrolls from the other necromancers out there. 

I also say mostly human since I consider Kelek to have a bit of orc in his line somewhere.  This explains his high strength and constitution, his low charisma, his pointed ears, oddly shaped head in some depictions of him.  He can also speak orc and hangs out with Zarak all the time. 

Kelek also has a large warg he rides like a horse.  In typical D&D cartoon fashion, his name is just Warg.

Kelek on Warg from HeroForge
Kelek on Warg from HeroForge


The many faces of Kelek the Cruel

Yeah, I have a lot of plans for this guy. 

Now I need to figure out how he killed the Queen of Witches to get us all in the current problems we are in.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Monster Collections

So no monster today.  I am getting ready for my big April A to Z of Monsters later this week. 

I was on vacation last week and getting these "new" AD&D 2nd Edition setting books made me think a bit about what I might do with them.  But since monsters are also on my mind I decided it was high time to pull out my old Monstrous Compendiums for AD&D 2nd Ed, and finally get them organized.

AD&D Monstrous Compendiums

I don't recall exactly when, but I misplaced, lost, or sold my original Monstrous Compendiums.  I kinda regret it really, I got them on the days they were released.  I loved the idea of them.  A monster per page full of information.  Even some bits on the ecology of each.  I had ideas of cutting out the various "Ecology of" articles from Dragon and putting them in each one for a full encyclopedic entry of every monster.

While the idea sounds great, in practice the Monstrous Compendiums were a bit of a hassle.  They were large and unwieldy and yes the pages kept getting torn.  The big thing for me was the fact I could note "really" put the monsters in true alphabetical order since they were printed back to back.  I know, gamer problems.

So I pulled everything I had, everything I have managed to round up at actions, used book stores and even a few others, and got both folders finally put together.

Forgotten Realms

Dragonlance

Outer Planes

Ravenloft

In addition to the first two sets (all in the first binder) I got the sets for the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, the Outer Planes, and my beloved Ravenloft all in the second binder.

I just need to replace my Greyhawk and Mystara ones now. 

I know I have some more in boxes somewhere, so I'll get those added as well.  Since I am not longer a transient college student with all my D&D books in a couple of milk crates they can live nicely on my bookshelves. Here they would likely to get more use and less wear and tear.

Binders of monsters

They live nicely next to my Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure Compendium,  Next to them is something I am working on printing out; the contents of the Swords & Wizardry versions of Monstrosities and Tome of Horrors Complete.  It is going to be about 1200 or more pages of monsters.  This time I am not printing them back to back, but a true one page per monster.  Yeah, that means a lot more paper, but also a lot more ease of use and lots of room for me to include notes. IT will also be hard on my printer.

While there is a core of about 400-500 monsters that are shared across all editions of D&D and clones, there are something like 6,000+ monsters that have been stated up in official products.  Once upon a time, I would have wanted all of them.  Today I am a bit more reasonable.  

OR at least that is what I tell myself.