Tuesday, April 20, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Q is for Qliphoth

Qliphoth
One of the things I want to establish in my Basic Bestiary II is there are a LOT of different kinds of "demons" out there.  In AD&D we basically had two, then three, major groups, demons (chaotic evil), devils (lawful evil), and the awkwardly named daemons (neutral evil).  When 2nd ed came around the publisher caved to the angry mom crowd the authors came up with the replacements Tanar'ri, Baatezu, and Yugoloths respectively.  While many of us chaffed under these names they did open all the fiends up to reinterpretation.  And that was a good thing.  Also, I preferred Yugoloths over Daemons anyway. 

As the editions continued on the "Species" of fiends also grew.  The official D&D products in the 3e era added the Obyriths and Loumara types of demons to represent to oldest and youngest races respectively (not subject to the OGL) and other companies began to add their own as well. 

I myself have added the Lilim, Eodemon, Shedim, Baalserph, and Calabim fiends.  I have a few more as well.  Personally, I like the idea of all these competing hordes of fiendish creatures, fighting each other as much as they want to fight the power of good. 

Some of the newer types are not included in the SRD or part of the OGL.  For example, I can't use Obyriths in my books. I can use Pazuzu who is described as an Obyrith, I just can say anything about his "species."  I do say he is an "Eodemon" or "Dawn Demon" which is what the obyrtihs are trying to do.  Pazuzu is from world mythology so he is fair game.  Pale Night, a very powerful obyrtih is not.

This brings me to the Qliphoth.  The Qliphoth is open in terms of the Open Gaming License. The term, קְלִיפּוֹת, itself comes from Jewish Kabbalah.  So I am free to use that.   The Qliphoth in Pathfinder have a particular background.  I want something a little different, though I am likely to keep them similar just to aid people moving from system to system.  Rereading "Eodemon" as "Obyrith" is no big deal.  Having a name refer to two completely different sets of creatures is something else.   

Borrowing from the Kabbalah where Qliphoth means "Peels", "Shells" or "Husks" (mostly husks) here is what I am saying the Qliphoth are.

Qliphoth

Æons before the first demons crawled out of the Primordial Chaos or the first Angel fell to become a Baalseraph there was a race of beings of surpassing knowledge, grace, and power. Akin to gods they were and like gods they wished to be.  Not for power or glory, but for the purpose of knowing the fundamental workings of the cosmos to become one with it.  Their success was gained when they came upon a plan to shed all that was impure, unholy, and evil in their natures and discard them.  They sluffed off this evil and became luminous beings of pure energy and light.  Leaving behind the husks of what they were, tainted with unspeakable evils as only an immortal race of super-beings can produce.  These husks began of a "life" of their own. Evil, knowing they had been discarded, and festering in the darkest parts of Chaos.  It took them millennia, and in that time other creatures had come to populate the sinkholes of evil they had called their prison and home.  They despised these creatures as much as they despised their former selves and their new selves.  The Qliphoth had been born.

Qliphoth inhabits the same areas that are inhabited by the Calabim, demons of destruction, the chaotic demons that call the Primordial Chaotic abysses their home.  They share some qualities, immune to poison, possessing telepathy, and darkvision. Like other demons, they take only half damage from electricity and fire, but also acid.  Their minds are so alien to humanoids that they are resistant to any mind-affecting magics like sleep, charm, and hold spells.  All Qliphoth are the stuff of nightmares and only vaguely resemble something the human mind can process, so a save vs. Petrify or Paralysis is required when they are first seen. If the subject fails they cannot attack for 1d4 rounds.

It is said that Qliphoth exists for one reason alone, to reunite with the begins that cast them off.  Each subtype of Qliphoth is connected to a particular individual.  If they can reunite then all of that type will cease to be.  Otherwise, they will attempt to kill and devour the being that abandoned them.  Until such time they will kill and devour anything else in their path of destruction.

The Qliphoth are named for the part of the Tree of Death they are said to have originated in. 

Nehemoth.  These are whisperers or the night specters.  They are the weakest of the qliphoth having only spirit forms.

Gamaliel. These are the "obscene ones" and appear as nightmarish distortions of human figures with exceptionally large and exaggerated sexual organs. They were the unnatural sexual urges cast off by the Luminous Ones.

Samael. These Qliphoh appear as beautiful humans but all their words are lies. They drip poison and are a horror to behold in their true form which takes the shape of nightmares.

A'arab Zaraq. These are the Ravens of Dispersion.  They appear as hideous demon-headed ravens with wings of molten lava. 

Tharirion. These are are the Zomiel, giant demons coated in dark black blood that burns to the touch. They constantly fight amonst themselves unless ordered by a stronger creature.

Golachab. These creatures are demons surrounded by fire. They constantly burn the exist only to cause destruction and pain.

Gha'agsheblah. These creatures are giants with the heads of demonic cats. They eat everything they can.

Sathariel. These creatures are heads surrounded by swirling black mists. Only their glowing red eyes can be seen.  Their riddles cause madness.

Ghagiel. Huge demons with serpents wound around them.  They are found of destroying libraries and other institutions of learning and wisdom. 

Thaumiel. The most powerful of the Qliphoth. The shadow of their former selves.  Appears as a towering beast of shadow and destructive purpose. 

--

Ok. No stat block on this one yes because I am not far enough along yet to merit one.  Plus I need to get these demons to really be scary. Right now they are not.  And I'll need to read some more Kabbalah to get a good feel about what these creatures do and how to tease them apart from other types of demons.

I have some time. This is just the first draft of these guys.

April 2021 A to Z


Monday, April 19, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: P is for Púca

It began with Harvey. 

A little odd piece of trivia for you. Back in High School and College my knick-name was Harvey. Not because of the movie of the same name, but for other reasons too long to get into here. But people always asked me if it was because of the movie. I got tired of hearing about it so I watched the movie, as was my habit, with my dad.  He loved it of course, it had been a you man (younger than I am now) when it came out so he had good memories of it.  I enjoyed it too, but I enjoyed mostly because my dad did.  But that was my first introduction to a "Pooka."

Since then I have run into the pooka in other places. Robin Goodfellow of the Bard's Midsummer Night's Dream is another fine example. The creature always seemed perfect for D&D yet I can't find many examples of it outside of Celtic-focused gamebooks.

Puck (Fuseli, 1810-1820)
Púca
AKA Phooka, Puka, Pwca
Small or Medium Fey (Chaotic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [10]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
   Small: 2d10+2* (9 hp)
THAC0: 9 (+10)
Attacks: 1 bash 
Damage: 1d6-1
Special: Fey, invisibility, shape-shifter, vulnerable to cold iron
Save: Monster 2
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 8 (-1) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 10 (0) Cha: 14 (+1)

The púca (pl. púcaí) is a shape-shifting fey creature related to both goblins and to brownies. The natural shape of the púca is debated by scholars, but it is believed to be a small fey creature with animal-like features such as rabbit years, whiskers and pronounce front teeth.  It is suggested that they even have little horns.

While not an evil creature, the púca delights in causing all sorts of mischief. They can take the shape of any animal they choose from Small to Large. They can even shapeshift into a medium humanoid creature. They will appear human, or elflike, but will have some feature of an animal such as goat legs, rabbit ears, or a tail.  A favorite trick of a púca is to shift to a magnificent horse and tempt humans to ride it. Once the rider is on they burst into breakneck speeds and give their rider a terrifying ride. They will then deposit the confused and worn-out rider miles away from where they started. Another favorite trick is to shift into a small adorable animal such a baby bunny or kitten. When a human picks them up they will begin to yell at them in common speech and shift to a small, but ugly goblin. The púca delights in these pranks and never means to cause injury or harm. 

The púca prefers to avoid all combat situations. They are not strong fighters at all and will use their invisibility to stay out of most fights. They can become invisible at will and remain invisible until attacked. If force they can usually bask with a fist or head bash. The púca's innate fear of iron prevents them from picking up and using any weapon.  Iron weapons cause double damage to a púca.

Púcaí though can be bribed and even befriended if presented with their favorite blackberry wine.  A drunk púca can foretell the future in a limited fashion, resulting in anyone sharing wine and stories with one a +1 on any roll between the sunrise the next day and the next new moon. A drunk púca though is a handful as it randomly shape-shifts throughout the night.

There are tales of evil púca the eat humans or drink their blood. But this is likely some other creature. 

--

So not a creature you are going to go out to pick a fight with.  Not that you can't but there is not much point in that.  While I am keenly aware that D&D can often devolve into a game of just fighting monsters (and I have enjoyed those games in the past too), monsters don't have to exist just to be killed by the PCs.   Our púca here is a good example of that.


April 2021 A to Z


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Clash of the Titans (1981, 2010)

Double Feature!

Clash of the Titans (1981)

I can't talk about monsters all month and NOT pop in the stop motion masterpiece of Clash of the Titans.

If you come to this blog I have no doubt you know this move and this story.  So instead lets talk about the production.  Let's get good look at the casting for the gods. Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Claire Bloom as Hera, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Maggie Smith as Thetis. Seriously these WERE the gods in 1981. Add in relatively unknown (pre L.A. Law) Harry Hamlin as Perseus and the captivating Judi Bowker as Andromeda then our cast is set.  Throw in some Burgess Meredith for comic relief and a bunch of Ray Harryhausen stop motion creatures and you have a classic.

I am not sure if Medusa was ever depicted as a half snake-woman before this movie, but she sure was after it.  Maybe more so than anything outside of Tolkien has left it's stamp on D&D more than the Greek myths and no movie did as much as Clash of the Titans.  Even people that have never seen the movie know "release the Kraken!"

The film almost has a Disney quality to it with it's score and cinematography. Cinematographer Ted Moore had worked on a lot of 70s Bond films and two of the Sinbad movies, the spiritual forefathers to this one.

Re-watching now (and again) the story holds up and the special effects are more charming than dated. Even Bubo was less annoying in reality than in memory. 

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Ok. The Greek myths endure because they are stories that can be told and retold again and again.  A remake then should always be welcome.  And on paper this one sounds good.  First lets look at our Gods again. Liam Neeson as Zeus, ok do we even care who else is playing the gods at this point?  Ralph "Voldemort" Fiennes as Hades.  Luke Evans (Dracula Unbound, The Hobbit) as Apollo, Danny Huston as Poseidon and Alexander Siddig (Deep Space Nine, Game of Thrones) as Hermes. Ok so, this is all good.  Sam Worthington as Perseus. Ok a good actor, but lacks a certain Harry Hamlin-ness. Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, also good.

Plus we know the special effects were going to be better since this was the new age of CGI.

And...yet it all falls so flat.  Zues' "release the Kracken" doesn't have Sir Laurence Olivier's gravitas and we know Liam Neeson can deliver a line.  Hades...exactly WHY was Hades here anyway? The rest of the gods were blink an you miss them.

The Kracken was underwhelming, but still fun.  Medusa, well. Actually I liked this one. While the first medusa was a spectacle of stop motion puppetry the new one with the face of supermodel Natalia Vodianova seemed more human. It also was one of the first certainly not the last time the story made you feel properly sad for Medusa.  But that is topic for another day really.


The movie is all glitz and spectacle and no heart.  The sign where they toss Bubo from the original movie aside might have felt funny, but it is a good example of the entire film.

Still for a popcorn flick it is fun.  You can even see this as a prequel of sorts to the Greek gods in Wonder Woman.

--

Game Material

Pretty much the entire movie to be honest. The original is so deeply imbedded into the DNA of 80s roleplaying it would be hard to tease out today what came from the Greek myths before this movie vs. after.

#AtoZChallenge2021: O is for Orc, Desert

Given I kicked off this whole idea with a detailed round-up of the Orc across the editions, it behooves me to at least stat one up.  But which one?  I have a few.  In truth, there is one I have been sitting on for long while now and I should pull it out for a special occasion.  I think that day is today.  Plus I have done so many water-based creatures, time for something different.  

So here is a monster that I talked about in the first days of this blog nearly 12 years ago! The Desert Orc.

Orc, Desert

He was an orc. That was obvious. Though there was something different about him and the others.  What I had originally taken to be smaller, younger orcs were in fact elves. Orcs and elves! Traveling together across this great expanse of desert. More than that, they acted as if they were kin!  They invited us to their tents where one orc and one elf who referred to each other as “brother” went about an elaborate tea ritual where we were served first. The orc and the elf then presented to each other their cups of tea in something akin to prayer or benediction. Once they drank they turned and smiled at each other. Ritual satisfied, they turned to us. The orc, Nom’dosh Thurgash and his elven brother Nom’dosh Etain, both greeted us in the most cultured elven I have heard outside of the Silver Forests.

“Welcome fellow travelers. How may the humble members of the Nom’dosh Clan aid you?” 

- From the Journal of Larina Nix

Male Orc by Jacob Blackmon
Male Orc by Jacob Blackmon
Medium Humanoid (Orc)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 2d12 (3d20) with roughly an equal number of Desert Elves
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Neutral (Good)]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1d8+2 (7 hp)
THAC0: 16 (+3)
Attacks: 1 weapon (halberd) 
Damage: 1d8+2
Special: Can move about in sunlight with no penalty
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: I (P) 
XP: 15 (OSE) 15 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 12 (0) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (2) Cha: 12 (0)

Desert Orcs appear to be normal orcs. However, these orcs have more than just a glint of intelligence in their eyes. While their faces are still animal-like, the fierce scowl has been replaced with a stoic set to their jaw, a purpose in their eyes, and a bearing that can't be described as anything else but noble.  These orcs, with their sandblasted faces and long pale hair strike you as something new and different. 

Desert Orcs are nomads, their ancestral homes in the deserts were destroyed centuries ago by humans. Though they fought back and shook off the yokes of slavery and tyranny by the humans.  They travel with the only other people that helped them in their great revolution, the desert elves.  Desert elves and desert orcs now consider themselves as one people.  They are brothers and every clan has orc and elf members that are equal in all things. 

Once united they then discovered that they had skills that were mutually beneficial to each other. Orcs are still militaristic with small war cadres connected to powerful elf families. For an orc, it is an honor to serve since the more powerful the elf family the stronger their own cadre is respected. The stronger the orc cadre, the more respected the family is and the more likely they will get goods to trade. An elf sultan will travel without his wife for example, but never without his orc escorts.

For every 10 desert orcs, there will be a cadre leader of the 2nd to 4th level.  For every 50 there is an additional war chieftain of 5th to 7th level. For every 100 there is a marshall and for larger groups a general.  Cadres will still fight against each other in mock skirmishes, and while damage will be done they are rarely fatal.  A desert orc will never raise a blade against an elf and likewise, a desert elf will never raise a blade against a desert orc.  Over 1000 years of mutual respect and fighting side by side has torn down the ancient hatred that has infected their rest of their brethren worldwide.

Tea Ritual

There is a ritual that all desert orcs and desert elves will practice.  When camp is made the sultan of the elves and the war chieftain of the orcs will meet in their open tent. The sultan will help the chieftain remove his armor while the war chieftain prepares the tea.  When both tasks are complete, and to do this correctly requires practice so both are done at the same time. The sultan and the chieftain offer each other the tea with the renewed promise that their lines will continue to fight and honor each other. Then the remaining elves and orcs will complete their camps.  If guests are present then they are served first but no elf or orc are allowed to drink until their respective leaders complete their oaths and drink.

The only species they truly distrust are humans. They both recall the tales of depredations at the hands of the Necromancer Kings.  Although humans approaching their camps or caravans with respect will be heard.

--

Ok. So yeah I did it. I made "Good" Orcs.  In fact, I made them 12 years ago.  I also did "Good" kobolds.

Orcs are like Klingons.  Yes, they were two-dimensional and evil in the TOS days, but now we are in the Next Generation and Orcs can be more.  Are violent? Of course! Do they still kill people? They sure can!  Are they inherently evil?  No. Not these orcs.  I have other orcs that are every bit as evil as are demons, but individuals can and do vary.

Likewise I am almost at a point in my games where Drow are going to split off into two separate factions, the evil demon-worshipping one and a less evil faction that wants reunification with the other elves.  

So if Orcs are my Klingons, then to use a metaphor I have been using since the early 80s, elves and drow are my Vulcans and Romulans.  Just like them the Vulcans and Romulans are now a new species, the Nivar.  I don't have a name yet for my combined elves.

I am also adding an occasional bit to some entries, "From the Journal of Larina Nix." Or how these creatures are from the point of view of an adventurer.  I figure my iconic witch is as good as any to present these details.

April 2021 A to Z


Friday, April 16, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: N is for Nuckelavee

Much like the Merrow, this creature has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for the better part of 25 years.  I just never could get it the way I wanted it. I think today is that day! One of the true monsters of Celtic myth and legend, I present to you the Nuckelavee.

Nuckelavee by James Torrance (1859–1916)
Nuckelavee
Large Monstrosity (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
   Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8* (44 hp)
   Large: 8d10+8* (52 hp)
THAC0: 9 (+10)
Attacks: 2 claws or weapon + Breath Weapon
Damage: 1d4+3 x2 or 1d8+3, 
Special: Breath weapon (fetid gas), dark vision
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 1,200 (OSE) 1,240 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 13 (+1) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (0) Cha: 4 (-2)

The nuckelavee is a monster in the truest sense of the word. It appears to be a large horse with a human rider, but closer inspection reveals the true horror of the creature.  The "rider" and "horse" are the same creature.  The "human" part has a huge grinning mouth with arms that are so long that its claws drag the ground.  The "horse" part has legs that end in both fins and hooves, giving it the ability to move about on land and the sea. The "horse" head has one huge eye in the middle of its forehead.  The entire creature is skinless and the muscles and sinew are visible. The creature is covered in black blood.

The nuckelavee hates all life and will attack anything in its path.  It prefers to stay in the salt-water sea, freshwater is treated like acid to it (1d4 hp of damage per vial), so it will not come ashore when it is raining.  It hates the smell of burning seaweed and will come ashore to put out any fires burning seaweed and kill whoever is doing the burning.

Nuckelavee will attack with their claws most times. They are capable of wielding weapons and will choose a club or spear, but they prefer to use their own claws. They are strong (Strength 18) but only average intelligence (10).  The worst attack of the nuckelavee is their fetid breath.  From their horse head, they can breathe out a fetid poisonous gas that affects all in a 60' long, 30' wide (5' base) cone. Victims must save vs. Poison.  Those at or under 7 HD must save or take 4d8 hp damage (save for half), those over 7 HD save or take 2d8 hp of damage (save for none).  Anyone failing the save will incapacitate for 2d8 rounds and unable to move or attack. 

Nuckelavee prefer the flesh of warm-blooded creatures. It ignores merrows and selkies, though they can usually out-swim the nuckelavee in the sea and outrun them on the land.  

Water Horses

The nuckelavee would be a natural enemy to the kelpie and likewise, save for the fact that nuckelavees can not enter fresh water and kelpies rare venture out into the sea. There seems to be a relationship between the nuckelavee and the each-uisge.  The nuckelavee is also related, somewhat distantly, to the nøkk, though both creatures refuse to acknowledge this.  The best way to offend a nøkk is to ask if it is a nuckelavee.  Kelpies, each-uisge, nuckelavees, and nøkks are all either descended from a common creature or have all adapted similar forms as a means of capturing prey.  

--

Returning today are the Ability scores. I played around with them a bit more and have been getting some feedback so I wanted to pull them back out.  I think I am going to keep them in the stat block.

This creature is large and therefore has two lines for HD/hp.  In my games I will use the increased hp total. 

All in all I am happy with this one!

April 2021 A to Z


AND

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



Thursday, April 15, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: M is for Merrow

I have commented on how it is Greek mythology that brought to D&D via the Monster Manual and this month is largely a celebration of that. While Greek myths got me here, it is Norse and Celtic myths that have kept me coming back for more.

Today I had an undead monster ready to go, and it was fine, it was a good monster.  But it didn't excite me very much. It's great for my book, but not so much for a blog post trying to get excitement for that book.  So instead I am going with some more fey creatures, but this one is a little different.

John William Waterhouse - Mermaid
Merrow
Gwenhidw, Jennys
Medium Fey (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Good / Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
 Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 1d8+1 (6 hp)
THAC0: 18 (+1)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6
Special: Magic cap
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 19 (OSE) 21 (LL)

Merrows are shy water faeries that appear off the coasts of the oceans.  They prefer to spend their time frolicking in the shallows of tide pools and having swimming contests.  All merrow seen by land dwellers will be female.  The males refuse to have anything to do with the people of the land and will not come close to it.

Similar to a mermaid, the merrow appears to be a beautiful humanoid woman's upper half. Her hair is often green, usually seafoam green, but darker sea plant colors are also common.  Her fish-like tail is of the same color.  The most notable thing about them though is their bright red cap. This is their only treasure.  

If she is spotted the merrow will immediately flee to swim back to her home under the waves. They will avoid combat whenever they can. Though some will curious enough to seek out any humans.  Merrow are curious about humans, in particular human men. Their own males are evil, brutish, and ugly.  By use of their magic caps, a merrow can change her shape to that of a human and walk on land.  As long as she posses this cap she can move freely between the sea and land.  As a sign of trust and love a merrow can give another human her cap and thus tying her to the land forever.   Land-based merrow are indistinguishable from normal humans, though they will often learn witchcraft.

Merrows are also known as Gwenhidw or "Jennys," but this could also be the name of one of their most famous members. The offspring of merrows and humans are completely human, but they feel a call of the sea and make exceptional sailors or sea witches.  A merrow still tied to the sea does not have a soul, but if they commit to the land then they are granted a new soul.  

Male Merrows: These creatures are as ugly as the women are beautiful and evil where their counterparts are good.  They never come to the surface when they can avoid it and they are generally not welcomed. Their faces are the worst combination of humanoid and fish and their whole body is covered in green fish scales.  It is said that when a Jenny comes to land and chooses a human husband her merrow father will follow her to bring her back.  The merrow will challenge the human to a game, usually, a drinking game, if the human wins the merrow returns to the sea and leaves his daughter behind.  If the merrow wins he returns to the sea with his daughter and the soul of the human.  Particularly old and evil merrow have a collection of these souls they keep in cages at the bottom of the sea as humans might keep a pet bird in a cage. 

--

This entry pulls together a lot of threads that have been rummaging around in my head for years.

Starting with the idea of Jennys and Merrows, they *might* two different creatures, but it is hard to tease apart all these myths especially when they are all so close to each other; both in content and in geography.  I like the idea of the merrows, or Jennys, as being genuinely curious about humans. Plus I liked the Jenny character from Anita. The Jenny stealing a kiss from Anita convinced me that these creatures were not evil and actually kinda liked humans.

 The idea of the Merrow men and the soul cages has been with me forever it feels like, though they were very nearly demons.  Here they are just assholes. Evil, dangerous, but still assholes. 

To say these ideas were not influenced by this would be disingenuous.

There are a lot of parallels between the merrow and pagans from the British Isles and the general belief that the Fey do not have souls.  In a game set in a magical Medieval Europe then a Jenny would need to be baptized before she would get a soul. Then of course she is no longer a merrow.   There are likely some unpleasant parallels here involving the patriarchy, salvation, goodness vs. freedom, choice, and more.  And it is all completely intentional.   Remember I am usually on the side of the pagans and freedom here.    I would rule that a Jenny deciding to stay on land with a witch would not need to give up her power or autonomy.  That's because witches understand this. 

April 2021 A to Z

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.

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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