Showing posts with label AtoZChallenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AtoZChallenge. Show all posts

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

#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

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


Saturday, April 10, 2021

#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


Saturday, April 3, 2021

#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