Showing posts with label Monstrous Mondays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monstrous Mondays. Show all posts

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Amphicyon, the Bear-Dog (Memory and the Mandela Effect)

I am sure by now many of my readers are familiar with the "Mandela Effect" or a large collective false memory effect OR example of how we, or some of us, switched over to a parallel universe.  It is named this because there are some people that "remember" that Nelson Mandela had died in a South African prison and did not later become the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa. 

There plenty of people that claim that the comic Sinbad was a genie in a movie called "Shazam" (and not the similar "Kazaam" from Shaq) or The Berenstein Bears was a book series and not The Berenstain Bears.

While it might be fun to explore the whole parallel universe or our world as a simulation narrative to all of this, that doesn't interest me as much as the truth; the collective false memories people have.  I did my Master's Thesis on Long-term memory activation, my first Doctoral Dissertation was on information processing cognition and memory.  I find memory to be a fascinating topic.  I don't want to claim to be an expert in this, but I am well informed and have done plenty of original, published scientific research on it.

So when I fall "victim" to the Mandela Effect myself, I pay attention.

At this point, you might be asking what does all of this have to do with Monstrous Monday? Well simply put, I have a creature in my memory that none of the rest of you have.

Let's go back a bit to 2002.  My oldest son was a baby, my youngest had not yet been born.  We would go to the library and pick up DVDs to watch.  One of my son's favorite was Ice Age. I have talked here before about how his love of prehistoric beasts, especially sea creatures, had been an influence on him getting into D&D.  Well this was before D&D and before his love of dragons.  I think I watched Ice Age a hundred times with him back then.  The disc we got also had a special "behind the scenes/making of" section that I would watch as well.  This section talked about all the characters that were in the movie; Manny, Sid, Diego, Scrat, and one other.  This other character was an Amphicyon or a bear-dog. They showed how the character was designed and even rough cuts of the character and a draft of the poster featuring this other character.  I remember telling my wife about it one day after we had returned the DVD to the library.

Fast forward a couple of years and we get the DVD, but no behind the scenes feature on it.  Hmm.  No problem I think, I'll just grab it from the library again.  Well, this stretches into a long period of time and I never grabbed it until a few years back.  I liked the creature and used it in a couple of games. I rewatched the DVD behind the scenes and...nothing.  No Amphicyon, no bear-dog, nothing at all.  I searched online. Nothing.  I asked my wife. She didn't remember it.  I have a very distinct memory of this short and this character.

But it never happened.

I know that over the years I have constructed and reconstructed the memory.  Memory is not a hard drive where things are stored unaltered.  We encode our memories with our surroundings; like how a smell or a song will trigger a memory, or in the case of my research in the 90s, how a word can affect which memories are retrieved.  For me, I know how my memories were altered.  At this time (2001 to 2005) I was suffering a fairly major bout of deep depression.  I have studied the effects of depression on memory.  I know what can happen.  Yet here I am, 2020, searching on the Internet for a character I *know* did not exist, but somehow I am still not 100% convinced I am wrong. (I am wrong, I know this logically)

BUT that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with this.

Amphicyon

Amphicyon-ingens reconstruction
aka Bear-Dog
Large Beast (Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Swim: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8 (44 hp); 
  Alternate (Large) 8d10+8 (52 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d10+1
Special: Swimming, Omnivore
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 8
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 650 (B/X, OSE), 640 (LL)

The Amphicyon, or bear-dog, is a large prehistoric mammal that is the forerunner of all modern canines and bears. It was active some 16.9 million years ago and died out 2.6 million years ago.  

The creature appears as a large bear, 8 to 9 ft. in length and weighing 1,300 to 1,400 pounds.  Its muzzle is more wolf-like than bear-like as are it's teeth and jaw.  

Unlike wolves and modern canines, the amphicyon is more of a solitary creature. Groups greater than one and up to four are family units consisting of a mother and her cubs. Also like bears, the amphicyon is a carnivore but can survive on an omnivorous diet.  Amphicyons are good if slow, swimmers and will make a diet of fish when they can.

Generally, the amphicyon will avoid contact with humanoids, but it can attack with a claw, claw, bite routine. 

Lycanthrope, Were-Amphicyonidae
Medium Humanoid (Shapeshifter, Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 9d8*+18 (59 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite, or by weapon
Damage: 1d4+2 x2, 1d8+2
Special: Shapechange, harmed by silver
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class:
C (XX)
XP: 1,600 (B/X, OSE), 1,700 (LL)

Amphicyonidae Lycanthropes are similar to werebears and werewolves, likely the forerunner to both types of creatures. Like all lycanthropes, the were-amphicyonidae can shift between an animal form (an amphicyon), a human, and a hybrid creature. These lycanthropes though are found exclusively among prehistoric humans like cavemen and Neanderthals, and almost exclusively in colder climates.

Were-Amphicyonidae are affected by the phases of the full moon as are werebears and werewolves.  Like werebears they retain some human intelligence, though a primitive intelligence focused on survival.

The first were-amphicyonidae, and indeed, among the first lycanthropes ever, were shamans that had mastered the abilities of shape-shifting long before there were druids, clerics, or even witches. They passed their gift on to others and now all that remains of the great shamans of old are these creatures.

In combat, the were-amphicyonidae fight with a claw, claw bite routine. They cannot "hug" as a werebear can.   They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons.  Their bite can transmit the lycanthropy curse but only Neanderthals will become were-amphicyonidae. Normal humans will become werebears (lawful and neutral) or werewolves (chaotic) depending on their alignment. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Nøkk

Work continues on Basic Bestiary, playing around with a few ideas.  Here is one I have been working off and on with over the last year.  Most off, since I notice it has been a year since I looked at it last.

Nøkk
Medium/Large Fey (Water)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral (True Neutral)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
   Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (39 hp)
Attacks: 1 fist or 1 hoof or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6+1 or 1d8+1 or by weapon
Special: Song (Charm), Spell-like abilities
Size: Medium or Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 650 (B/X, OSE) 680 (LL)

The Nøkk, also Neck, Näcken, and Nokken, is a type of fey creature that lives in temperate to arctic waters.  They can appear as a man playing a lyre, flute, or violin, or as a large horse made partially of water.  They are related to the nixie and other water-based faerie creatures.  Some scholars debate if they are in truth water spirits of water elementals.  They are not unduly affected by cold-iron as other fey are.  

The nøkk is content to spend his days sitting on rocks near the shore and playing his instrument and singing.  They avoid combat when they can preferring to use their song of charm to ward off possible attacks.  If a character approaches the nøkk with respect he may teach them a song.  For bards, this equates to a once in a lifetime gift of 500 XP.  For spellcasters such as magic-users, druids, or witches they learn to cast a Charm Person spell once without the need to memorize the spell.  

Nøkk also have the following spell-like abilities they can use once per day (x1 day), Animal Friendship, Charm Animal, Cure Light Wounds, Predict Weather, and cast Water Breathing on up to six others.  A nøkk can breathe air or water as it chooses.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Ghost Spiders

I have been working on a set of game boards to depict Lolth's lair in the Abyss.  They are not done yet and hope to show them off soon.   I have been taking my family through the Classic Greyhawk Campaign starting with T1 (AND B1) and working all the way to Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. 

While running I have added other material to the campaign to flesh it out more. This includes such classics as Bone Hill, Ravenloft, and Castle Amber but other details like a Stone Giant fortress Cloud Giant castle in the sky (for G4 and G5 respectively) as well as more details for the Drow City of Erelhei-Cinlu and a revamp of Lolth's lair.

While it is too late in the game for me to use it, Joesph Bloch, the Greyhawk Grognard, has released his own D4 to expand the Drown of Erelhei-Cinlu.  You can find it on his blog. 

It looks fantastic really, and let's be honest, Bloch knows his Greyhawk.  So I am certain that it would have been a nice addition to my campaign.  Plus it ties the GDQ series a little closer to the Temple of Elemental Evil, which is the ultimate goal of my campaign as well.  I understand he is doing a Q2 or something akin to that.  I have also wanted a good Q2. Though I am adapting the Monte cook adventure "Queen of Lies" for it.


But until then, I have a few more "spiderweb" monsters I need to weed out the uninspired choices in Q1. 

Here is one of them.

Ghost Spider

Huge Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
   Webs: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 1 [18]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10** (33 hp)
  Alternate HP: 5d12+10** (43 hp) (Huge)
Attacks: Bite
Damage: 2d8
Special: Ethereal, fear aura, harmed only by magic, incorporeal, undead, webs
Size: Huge
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 3,500 (B/X, OSE) 3,600 (LL)

Ghost Spiders appear as semi-transparent, glowing ghosts of huge spiders.  They are not spiders, nor are they exactly undead, but rather they are the demonic projections of fears powered by necromantic forces.

A ghost spider is found anywhere where the influence of demons is strong and where mortal creatures can interact.  The fears of spiders are magnified till a ghost spider is created.  As such it radiates a fear aura that mimics the spell Cause Fear.  Anyone under 5 HD/Levels must make a saving throw vs Spells or fall under the influence of the spell-like effect.  Creatures higher than 5HD/Levels gain a +2 to their save. Creatures 9HD/levels or higher are immune to these fear effects.  Those affected will be frozen in fear and unable to move, run, or attack. The ghost spider will then attack with webs (as per a giant spider) to immobilize other potential victims.  Then will then use their bite to kill others.  Ghost Spiders are not living and therefore do not require to feed on victims. They instead feed on the fear they cause and the pain from deaths. 

Ghost spiders are treated as undead and can be turned as a 5HD creature or as a Spectre.  Like all undead they are immune to charm, hold and sleep spells. They can only be struck by magical weapons. Once destroyed the ghost spider will not reform, but other ghost spiders may be created in their place at a future date.  The only way to destroy them forever is to remove the demonic forces that create them.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Dybbuk

Another monster I have been playing around with for a while. This one goes all the way back to my AD&D years, though under a different name.  I have always liked the idea that Lichdom is never an assured thing for evil wizards and a lot can go wrong.  Here is one of those times.

Dybbuk, by Ephraim Moshe Lilien (1874–1925).

Dybbuk
Medium Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 12d8+36*** (90 hp)
Attacks: 1 touch or by spells
Damage: 1d6+3 cold damage, or by spell (see below)
Special: Ethereal, incorporeal, harmed only by magic, possession, animate dead, undead
Size: Medium
Save: Magic-user 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: Special (dybbuk box)
XP: 3,500 (B/X, OSE) 3,600 (LL)

The process of becoming a lich is filled with peril and risk. Thankfully, for the forces of good, few learn the secret and fewer still meet with success.   While most of the failed attempts to become a lich end with the permanent death of many evil mages, sometimes the process fails, the body is destroyed but the evil spirit lives on.  These failed attempts at lichdom as known as a Dybbuk.

The dybbuk is the disembodied spirit of an evil magic-user who attempted to become a lich but whose body was destroyed before the final process was complete.  The spirit remains tied to the mortal realms, unable to complete its transformation to a lich or move on to whatever plane it was due to move on too in the afterlife.  The creature is evil and has a hatred for all living things.

A dybbuk is an incorporeal creature inhabiting the ethereal plane.  It is invisible and can only be hit by magical weapons that can attack ethereal creatures.  The creature will appear like a spectre and can be mistaken for one.  When it chooses to attack a creature it will reenter the material world and become visible to all.  

The most feared attack of the dybbuk is its ability to possess others.  They will seek out magic-users and their pride demands that they seek out only the ones of the highest levels to possess.  The victim must make a saving throw vs. spells (Lawful victims have a +1 to saves, Chaotic victims have a -1 to saves) or become possessed by the dybbuk.  If possessed the victim gets another save every 24 hours.  However, there is a progressive -1 each day to the save. Additionally, the victim will lose 1 point of constitution each day.  When they reach 0 they are dead and cannot be resurrected as the dybbuk has destroyed their body and soul. If a victim makes the save the dybbuk cannot make another attempt for 24 hours.

Once in the body of a magic-user, the dybbuk will use any spells their host body knows. Typically they will attack anyone and everyone nearby, such is their hate for all living things. Those that can see ethereal creatures will see the dybbuk “riding” on the back of the possessed victim.  A dybbuk also has the ability to animate 3d6 HD worth of skeletons and/or zombies. The bodies must be readily available, but a dybbuk will make sure plenty are on hand near it’s lair.  These undead creatures follow the orders of the dybbuk til they are destroyed.

The dybbuk can be turned by a cleric as if it were a lich. Once in a victim though only an Exocism, Holy Word, Cleanse or similar spells will be effective in driving the evil spirit out. When the dybbuk is forced out it will spend the next 24 hours in its Dybbuk Box, or where its soul now resides.  To fully destroy a dybbuk this housing for their soul must be destroyed.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Lunar Angels

One of the things I always felt AD&D was lacking in was good representations of the forces of Good.  I mean we have thousands of demons, devils, daemons, demodands, and everything in-between, but we didn't get anything like an angel until the Monster Manual II and then only three types.  

Now the in-game reason is clear, these are not meant to be fought because the assumption is all parties tend towards good.  There may have been an outside influence as well. Gary may not have wanted to encroach on his own beliefs here and there was always the nod to pressure from the outside.

With the publication of 3rd Edition and additionally Pathfinder this changed a bit.  Now Devas, Planetars, and Solars are classified as angels. But that still leaves open all the different types such as thrones, cherubim, malakim, seraphim, and not to mention the Archangels.  

So ignoring all that lore and history, I am still making up my own! Here is one that made appearances in my Buffy RPG games and adapted from my earlier WitchCraft RPG games and had root in my AD&D 2nd ed games.

Lunar Angel (Hero Forge)

Angel, Lunar

HeroForge Angel
Large Celestial (Angelic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 or 2d6
Alignment:
Lawful [Lawful Good]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Fly: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 13d8+52* (124 hp)
Attacks: 2 by weapon type +5 (STR bonus +3, magic bonus +2)
Damage: 1d10+3 x2
Special: Magic required to hit (+2), 80% magic resistance, spell-like abilities
Size: Large
Save: Monster 13
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 5,150 (OSE), 5,300 (LL)

Lunars are tall angels with pale skin and wings, golden hair bright eyes.  They are the most "human" looking of angels since their duty is to guard human realms. They are the angels who live closest to humans compared to other angelic types. They are typically armed with large glowing swords that they use to perform their primary function, the protection of mortals from demonic forces.  Where Planetars deal with evil in general, the Lunars focus on demonic forces and chaotic (evil) monsters and mortals.

These servants of good are always of Lawful (Good) alignment.  They will most often be encountered alone (75%) or as part of a hunting party (25%) of 2d6 (7) members.  If encountered alone they will be scouting for potential demonic threats, a hunting party has discovered such a threat and have been sent by a Lawful (Good) deity or solar to deal with them. 

Lunars have the following Spell-like abilities that they can cast as a Lawful Cleric of 10th level (Wisdom 21). At will: Become Astral or Ethereal, Cure Light Wounds, Know Alignment, Light, Protection from Evil, Remove Fear.  3x per day: Bless, Commune, Continual Light, Cure Serious Wounds, Hold Person, Neutralize Poison, Remove Curse. 1x per day: Dispel Evil, Protection from Evil 10' Radius.  Additionally, a lunar may "Turn" undead as a cleric of the 13th level.  Demons and chaotic (evil) creatures are affected as if they had a Cause Fear spell cast on them by the lunar.  Chaotic (evil) humanoids are allowed a saving throw vs. spells at -4 to avoid these effects.  Creatures or characters that are immune to normal fear gain a +2 to their rolls to save. Creatures immune to magical fear sill must make a saving throw, but at +4 to their rolls.  Lawful (good) creatures are not affected by this aura of fear. The swords of Lunars are considered to be Lawful intelligent swords, +2. They only function in the hands of a lunar (or it is assumed, a solar of Lawful alignment).  Lunars prefer not to kill mortals if they can help it, but will do so if the greater good requires it.

These angels also have 80% magic resistance, are immune to the attacks of undead (ghoul paralysis, mummy rot, life level drain) and lycanthropes.  They are resistant to fire and add +4 to any saving throw based on cold or death-related attacks. Their eyes reflect paralysis and petrification gaze back on to the monsters using them.   If killed their bodies dissolve in a shimmer of silver light and they are reformed in the Silver City in the Heavens.   

Lunars do not trouble themselves in the affairs of mortals except where their primary function of destroying demons comes in.  A lunar will for example destroy the summoning circles of demonic magic-users and warlocks and destroy their libraries, but will not actually kill the offending mortal.  A lunar may be summoned by a lawful cleric if the proper rituals are followed. Though the lunar will not be under any compulsion to appear, it will get their attention.  If the need is great (demon incursion into the mortal realms) then such summoning can be foregone and they will respond to an earnest plea. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Wolf-Witch (A Wolfenoot Special)

Happy Wolfenoot Everyone!

What, you don't know about Wolfenoot, the holiday to celebrate all that is cool about the wolf and dogs?  Well get yourself over to Wolfenoot.com to find out more then come back here.

Back? Good.  Today's monster is based on an idea I have been kicking around ever since I read Pam Keesey's "Women Who Run with the Werewolves" which is a play on Clarissa Pinkola Estés' bestseller "Women Who Run with the Wolves."  

I had come up with a couple of ideas here and there including a "mother of werewolves" and a werewolf/hag cross.  But nothing I really liked.  Until that is I read about "The She-Wolves of Jülich" and their connection to various witch trials that were going on around Germany in the 1500s.  Often witches were burned on the suspicion that they would turn into werewolves.  This was not the charge in and of itself, the crimes they were accused of were often the inversion of what good women were supposed to be at the time.  They were accused of running wild, killing men and boys, eating babies, and killing livestock.  Given the living conditions for most women at the time I would have not have been surprised by an occasional expression of homicidal rage. 

Georg Kress's woodcut of the She-Wolves of Jülich, Germany, 1591, colored later.

Georg Kress's woodcut of the She-Wolves of Jülich, Germany, 1591, colored later.

There is something though compelling, even pagan, about the idea of shedding not just clothes but social mores and standards and running wild. Something that both Estés and Keesy know too well about.

Brundage 1933 03 Weird Tales
Margaret Brundage, Weird Tales 1933
Wolf-Witch

Medium Humanoid (Lycanthrope)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 2d6+1 (0)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
  Human: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3* (17 hp)
Attacks: by special weapon, claw/claw, or by magic or special
Damage: 1d4 x2, 1d4+1
Special: Silver or Magic required to hit, Witch spells
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class:
XX
XP: 75 (OSE), 100 (LL)

By the light of the full moon, the Wolf-Witches gather.  For the three nights of the full moon each month the women of the wolf witch covens gather and partake in a ritual that transforms them into wolves, much like a werewolf. They roam the countryside causing havoc and mayhem wherever they can.  

The group requires at least one witch of 2nd level to cast the Summon the Spirit of the Wolf Ritual (qv).  The majority of the other witches participating will be lower level (2nd or 1st), if the gathering is large (10 or more) then there will be a 3rd level witch with two 2nd level apprentices.  The ritual begins after the sun has set and while the moon is rising. The witches dance around a bonfire and when the ritual is complete they transform into wolves. When the sun rises the next morning they will have transformed back into their normal human forms.

Unlike werewolves, wolf-witches are not necessarily evil. They also retain most of their mental faculties so they are able to cast at least one witch spell of 1st level per night.  Also unlike werewolves, true wolves will join with the wolf-witches on their midnight, moonlit runs.  Wolf-witches also cannot transmit lycanthropy via a bite.

Wolf-witches seek little more than the feeling of freedom being in wolf form gives them, though a little chaos is necessary. They will kill to protect themselves and their coven-pack.  

Presented below is the ritual used.  I am also experimenting with High and Low rituals for my next book. 

New Ritual: Summon the Spirit of the Wolf

Summon the Spirit of the Wolf 
Level:
Witch Ritual (Low): 1
Ritual Requirement: Two or more witches, one of at least 2nd level. Full moon.
Duration: From Midnight to Sunrise during the Full Moon
Range: All Participants

This ritual is only performed during the three nights of the full moon. The witches gather to cast the ritual but only one witch needs to know the actual spell, the others dance around a bonfire while the highest level witch cast the spell.  At midnight all participants will then transform into Wolf-Witches where they will run and hunt until the morning. 

At dawn, by the light of the rising sun, the witch will transform back into her normal form.   If she is killed then she will remain in wolf form until the sunlight hits her body, thereupon she will transform. 

During the "Wolf Moon" or the first full moon of the year (after Yule) there is a chance that anyone watching this secret ritual that they too will be pulled into the magic and become wolves.  There is a 5% chance per number of witches present that others will be affected.  Those unwilling affected must make a save vs. Spells or be transformed permanently.  A Remove Curse will return them to human form, but only if cast before the next full moon (the "Snow Moon").  

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Daughters of Iggwilv

image of Drelnza holding Daoud's Lantern
It's Tasha's Week of Everything this week here at the Other Side.  So I thought I'd start Monstrous Mondays with a monster that has been suggested to me over the years.

Today's monster comes from a variety of sources. First, there is Iggwilv-Louhi connection that I talked about it in the Finish Mythos.  Louhi, despite being an old witch is said to have lovely maiden daughters that the heroes often seek out.  By extension shouldn't Iggwilv have some daughters too?

If we go with "yes" (and I always go with yes) then there are two issues, what are they like and who is the father.  Let's go with the father question first.  Among the candidates of "people" she has been involved with include the Demon Prince Fraz-Urb'luu, the half-demon Arch-Mage Tsojcanth, the wizard Zagig Yragerne, even Mordenkainen himself is a possibility and of course the Demon Prince Graz'zt.

We know all about Iggwilv's love affair with Graz'zt.  We know from other sources, chiefly the Gygax Greyhawk novels, that Iuz is the offspring of Iggwilv and Graz'zt.  Or maybe not. In the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting entry for Iuz it is suggested that he is "some by-blow of Orcus."  I personally liked the idea that Orcus had mortal agents in the world.  While this idea was later dropped it became an element of the Forgotten Realms, where I think it works out a little better.  But it still is a tantalizing idea.  

While Louhi might have daughters known as "the Maidens of Pohjola" I am not expecting Iggwilv's daughters to be so innocent. Her only other daughter, Drelnza, was a vampire, described as a "false Disney Princess" (she is not the damsel in distress, she is the monster), and most certainly not the offspring of Graz'zt.  Going back to the Louhi/Lovitar connection for a bit, Lovitar is known as the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Nine is a good number.

Iggwilv taken to Orcus
I think I have something.

When Iggwilv was defeated by Graz'zt the former master was now the slave.  Graz'zt had intended to keep the fallen Witch Queen in the Abyss to have her suffer an eternity of imprisonment as she had kept him.  Iggwilv however was more clever than the Demon Prince knew and soon she went from prisoner to consort, to confidant to his main advisor.  While she was rising in the ranks of Graz'zt courts she was "traded" to the Demon Prince Orcus over a loss Graz'zt had suffered at the hands of the Demon Prince of undead.  

Taken from Azzagrat in chains she arrived in Thanatos at the feet of the Lord of Undead to serve a tredecim (13 years) of service between CY 503 and CY 516.

Enraged, Iggwilv plotted revenge on both Graz'zt and Orcus.  Her carefully constructed lies and seductions learned from Fraz-Urb'luu that were so effective on Graz'zt held no sway on Orcus. Save for the occasional bit of violence Orcus showed no interest in the Witch Queen other than to deprive Graz'zt of her.  Within that century though Iggwilv gave birth to nine daughters that she was able to keep secret from both Orcus and Graz'zt.  These nine daughters were all of the same fierce, dark beauty as their mother, but had the taint of undeath like their father.  In secret, Iggwilv taught her daughters the ways of witchcraft and fashioned Abyssal weapons for each of them.  Once they were grown their curse of undeath took hold and they became something akin to vampires. Iggwilv sent them into the world to cause as much havoc and chaos as they could and, most importantly act against the designs and will of both Graz'zt and Orcus.

Noidan Tytär
Noidan Tytär
Medium Undead (Demonic)
Frequency: Unique (only 9 are known to exist)
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
  Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: -4 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+42**** (105 hp)
Attacks: by special weapon, claw/claw, or by magic or special
Damage: 1d10+6, 1d4+4 x2, special
Special: Magic required to hit (+2 or better), Vampire abilities, Witch spells, Undead
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 14
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
Special, see below
XP: 5,150

The Noidan Tytär, or Daughters of the Witch, are a unique group of undead demonically spawned creatures.  These creatures, as beautiful as they are powerful, evil and deadly, are thankfully very, very rare. In fact, only nine are known to exist.  Thankfully they also never work together by order of their mother the Witch Queen. 

Each of the Noidan Tytär is a skilled fighter and possesses both superior arms and armor. Typically magical plate mail of etherealness +2, and a bastard vorpal sword +2 that they wield with one hand due to their preternatural strength. 

In addition to their fighting ability, the Noidan Tytär are also undead akin to vampires. Magic is required to hit them and they are immune to charm, hold and sleep magic as well as any mind-affecting magics. Unlike vampires, they do not require blood to survive but drain the life energy (Constitution points) at the rate of 2 points per touch.  They can go long periods without feeding but it will cause them to go into a deep stupor until a victim can be found.  They can not enter a personal dwelling or holy/blessed land like a vampire and holy items can keep them at bay and cause damage.  They are however immune to the effects of garlic. A stake through the heart will destroy them, but if the stake is removed they will reform in one round.  They can become gaseous, but cannot assume the shapes of animals.  They can fly as per the spell.

They can be Turned as Special (14 HD) by a cleric of high enough level. Any result of a D only discorporates them until the next new moon.  The only way to truly destroy them is stake them, remove their head, and burn both the body and head in separate pyres.  An exorcism or cleanse spell must then be used to force their spirits back to the Abyss. 

Additionally, each Noidan Tytär can cast spells as a 7th level witch of the Mara Tradition. 

The Noidan Tytär are often used as mercenaries for powerful chaotic rulers, demon lords, and evil cults. Secretly they work to undo the efforts of Graz'zt and Orcus.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Fenodyree

Working through some notes for my two current projects; The High Witchcraft Tradition and the Basic Bestiary.  One of the things is to move around some content.  Items, mostly monsters, that I had considered for the High Witchcraft book are now moving over to the Basic Bestiary.  Some notes I had written for witches, in general, are also moving over the Basic Bestiary. This one of those.

There are a lot of Celtic creatures in mythology and many have similar-sounding names and others have different names in different locales.  The Fenodyree from the Ilse of Man might be the same creature as the Brownie or the Woodwose. Or it might not.  

fenodyree
Fenodyree

Small Fey
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1d8* (5 hp)
Attacks: 1 harvest scythe
Damage: 1d6
Special: double damaged by cold iron, invisibility, teleport
Size: Small
Save: Elf 1
Morale: 6 
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 23

The Fenodyree are small fey that at first appear to be some sort of fur brown creature. They are very hairy small man-like creatures that appear like a brownie, woodwose, or even a small satyr.  Their long brown hair covers their entire body.  If they are wearing clothes, no one has been able to tell.

Like many solitary faeries, the fenodyree are very shy around humans, or anyone larger than a halfling. They are on decent terms with gnomes but do not make a habit of socializing with them.

The fenodyree lives to mow.  They love nothing more than to be able to use their miniature harvest scythe and cut grass, wheat, barley, or any grain ready to harvest.  Often they will harvest all the grain of a family in need, especially widows with young children. Like many fey, an offering should be left out for them. Fenodyree are fond of whiskey and rye. Also like most fey, they will disappear if spotted. If by turning invisible or by teleporting away.  They can use either power at will or once per day respectively.

They prefer never to attack but will do so to protect their lives. They will teleport away at the first sign of trouble. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Alraune

Another one I have been playing around with for a bit.  The final product was not what I was going for originally, but I like what I came up with.  Doing research on the demonic offspring of witches. I played around with Aludemons, Alrunes, even Agrat Bat Mahlat.  

My research will come up with something closer to what I was looking for, but until then here is a nice low-level monster for you to use.

witch woman in forest
Art by Karen Nadine
Alraune
Medium Humanoid (Demonic)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3* (64 hp)
Attacks: NA
Damage: NA, or by spell
Special: Charm x3, Witch spells (3rd level), damaged by holy weapons
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 8 
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 75

The Alraune is born of the unnatural union of a witch and a specially procured and enchanted mandrake root. 

The witch must find the place where a murderer was hung to death.  It is believed that the "final power" of the hanged man would fall to the ground below him.  The witch must come by night and there dig up up the mandrake root that has grown from this final power.  If she can do this by the new moon then all the better.

The witch then takes the mandrake and applying certain alchemical elements and demonic rituals, he will make a lover for herself in the shape of the dead man.  The man/mandrake will then impregnate her his demonic seed. The mandrake creature is mindless and serves only one purpose.  By the light of the morning sun, he will wither and die.

What is born then after the normal amount of time is the Alraune.  The child, who is always a girl, will grow quickly (three days) into young adulthood.  The witch will then set her new demonic daughter loose to wreck chaos.  

The Alraune is always beautiful and smells of sweet flowers. She has a natural charm ability that she can use 3 times per day as if she were a witch of the 3rd level. The creature has no soul, nor any sense of morality.  She will seduce faithful husbands to destroy their marriages, disrupt any village she is left in, inspire envy and jealousy in all that see her.  She will avoid anyone she perceives as stronger or more powerful than herself. If the tide of the village goes against her she will attempt to escape. Most often they end up sharing the fates of their mothers; on the stake and pyre.

The Alraune does not attack with physical attacks or weapons. She will instead rely on her natural charm ability. If pressed she can use witch spells as a 3rd level witch of the Mara or Demonic traditions. Alraunes take double damage from holy or blessed items. Holy water does 1d4 hp of damage to them and burns like acid on their skin.

Alraunes, by custom, are often named after flowers.

Special: Once in a great while a witch will birth two alraunes at once, twin girls.  When this occurs one will be exceptionally evil and the other, while not good exactly, is not dedicated to evil. The witch will not know which is which until they become older.  It is believed that if the evil twin is killed the "good" twin will be free and even gain a soul. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Hyrrokkin Hag

Here is one I have been playing around with for a while now.  I am converting her from my d20 3.5 stats, so I hope it works out. 

Here is a monster that combines two great tastes that go great together, Norse Mythology and Werewolves.  Plus after watching some werewolf movies last night (and one tonight) it would be fun. 

Hag, Hyrrokkin

Large Fey (Hag)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Wolf form: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+24** (64 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws or bite or spells
Damage: 1d8+4 x2 or 1d8+2 or by spell
Special: Witch spells (7th level), werewolf shape, damaged by silver
Size: Large
Save: Witch 8
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (but no silver)
XP: 1,750

The Hyrrokkin Hags are believed to be the offspring of the great Jotun witch Hyrrokkin.  They can be identified by their pale skin, yellow eyes, and yellow hair.  They stand close to 9 ft. tall and are extremely strong (Strength 20).  They are known to keep wargs and dire wolves as servants and pets. Like their legendary mother, they will ride a warg the size of a war-horse.

Hyrrokkin Hags are fiercely territorial and will not suffer anyone to be in their self-proclaimed territories, especially other hags. While theoretically, they could form coveys with other hags, their hatred of them precludes this.  

They can transform into a large wolf or wolf hybrid as per a werewolf.  In this form, they can even transmit lycanthropy which gives them the sobriquet of "Mother of Werewolves."  Anyone with lycanthropy that sees a Hyrrokkin Hag must make a save vs. spells or be charmed as per the spell.

They can cast spells as per witch of the 7th level, but they have no occult powers.  If their spells are insufficient they can also attack with powerful claws or a bite.  This can be done in any form. They may only cast spells in Hag form.

These hags are damaged by silver, not by cold iron as their cousins.  Also, no treasure horde of a Hyrrokkin Hag will have silver.  One clue that a Hyrrokkin Hag has attacked a group is if all their treasure is gone save for their silver.


Monday, October 12, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Monsters of the Basque

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos” - Francisco Goya

The sleep of reason produces monsters. Or in my case right now the lack of sleep produces monsters.


Yesterday I watched The Baztán Trilogy and it featured, or least talked about, three monsters from the Basque region of Spain. 

While I have seen variations of these creatures from other myths and regions, this was the first time I had seen them under these names. So let's give them a bit love.

Basajaun
Large Monstrous Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Neutral Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam
Damage: 1d6+3, 1d6+3
Special: Stay hidden 95%.
Size: Large
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 525

The Basajaun is a type of large wild man of the forests similar in many respects to the Sasquatch and Yeti.  It also has commonalities with the Wood Wose due to it's more benign and protective nature. They are tall (9') humanoids covered in course black and brown hair. 

The name Basajaun means "Lord of the Woods". The plural is basajaunak and the female of the species is a basander.  They are suspected of building megaliths with their immense strength and keep flocks of sheep.  They are a shy and reclusive species, speaking only their own language, although a few know the local languages.  They are averse to fighting but will protect their lands if necessary. 

They can avoid being spotted 95% of the time. Often they are just confused for a large bear.  They can be recognized though by the whistling they do to communicate with others of it's kind.


By Luistxo eta Marije
originally posted to Flickr as
Izenaduba-Olentzeroren etxea
CC BY-SA 2.0

Tartalo
Large Fiendish Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+4, 1d6+4 or 1d10
Special: Magic required to hit, evil eye
Size: Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 660

The tartalo is another large creature found in the Basque region of Northern Spain. It appears as a cyclops or as a one-eyed ogre. It has a fiendish glint in it's one large eye.  Many scholars of the occult believe they are connected to demons, either by birth or by actions.

The tartalo lives alone in caves. They are 10' tall and only speak in simple grunts. They do seem to be intelligent, it is just speech is beyond them. Only males have ever been spotted leading scholars to conclude they seek out young maidens as their "wives."  

Anyone wandering into the cave of the tartalo runs the danger of becoming the monster's next meal.  They prefer the taste of young men and women, especially ones that have not been baptized (or dedicated to a god).  Their tactic is to use their "evil eye" to stun (treat as a Hold Person spell) their victims. They will kill and eat any young men and anyone over marriage age.  They will keep the young unmarried women to birth their monstrous sons.  These women when then also be killed and eaten.

The only treasure a tartalo has is a fine wrought golden ring.  The ring is a curse and anyone wearing it will be known to any other tartalo in the region and they will seek the wearer out to kill them. 


Inguma
Small Fiend (Demon)
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 12d8+12* (66 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws, nightmares
Damage: 1d4, 1d4 or 1d10
Special: Magic or +2 weapons required to hit, cause fear, nightmares, ability drain
Size: Small*
Save: Monster 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 1,900

Inguma is a demonic lord of sleep and dreams. He is believed to create incubi and can give his followers riches if they give him his preferred sacrifices, that of baby girls before two years of age.  He commands a small sect of Mara Witches.

Though small, he is a powerful demonic lord.  He can cast Fear and Nightmare three times per night. His physical attacks are weak, but he can gain entrance into the minds of sleepers, save vs. death to avoid. Once there he will invade the dreams and learn all the victim's secrets. Their sleep is disrupted so they can't heal normally nor will spellcaster regain their spells. By the third night of the invasion, the victim begins to lose Constitution points at the rate of 1 per night.  Only an exorcism (cleric) or cleanse (witch) spell will remove the influence of Inguma.  Often Inguma forces his victims into suicide long before they succumb to his draining effects. Each night the victim must make a save vs. death. A failed save means they will kill themselves.

Inguma rarely takes physical form. When he does magic is required to attack him. When he does manifest it is always as what the viewer fears the most.

It is believed that Inguma is the father, or at least the ancestor and patron, of the Tartalo and possibly the Imps of the Perverse. Some incubi revere him as their lord. 

Basque Mara witches see him as their lord and patron and will offer sacrifices to him. He rewards them with riches.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Zombie Witch

Welcome to the FIRST Monstrous Monday of October 2020.

If you are on social media you might have seen this little gem from last week.


The answer of course is, me. I had Zombie Witches on my bingo card!   

Well if I didn't I do now.


Photo by Thirdman from Pexels
Zombie Witch
Medium Undead (Corporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing:  2d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4** (22 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws + 1 bite, Cause Fear
Damage: 1d6, 1d6, 1d4
Special: Only harmed by silver, magic. Cause Fear 1x per day as per spell. Curse.
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 4
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None; see below
XP: 100

When a powerful lord or lady dies they are often interred with fine weapons, treasures, and other grave goods that will support them in the after-life.  But these lords also know that these good are desired by the less pious and greedy.  So the lords will often arrange for a coven of witches to be sacrificed in a dark ritual and buried with the grave goods.  The witches do not volunteer for this task, they are captured and sacrificed after the lords' death. It is believed that the anger of the witches will transcend death and the tomb will be protected.

This is true and the undead witch, now a mindless zombie will attack anything living that enters the tomb.  Appearances may differ, but they are all undead witches in various states of decay or mummification.

Often lower level witches are used (under 6th level) and the only remains of their magic is a cause fear ability they can use as a group 1x per day.  They then attack as fast-moving zombies (normal initiative).  They will fight until they are destroyed. If the last zombie witch is destroyed and there are still combatants alive they will lay their final curse.  Anyone taking goods away from the tomb must save vs. death or be afflicted with a rotting disease that drops their HP by 1d6 per day until death. Healing magics, potions, or other means will not stop the spread of the curse.  Only a remove curse or similar magic can stop this curse. Then the victim can be healed. 

If destroyed, zombie witches will reform by the next new moon.  Only a cleric casting bless or a witch casting hallow or  remove curse on the tomb will stop their return. 

Zombie witches are turned as wights or 4HD undead.

Zombie Witch
(Night Shift)
No. Appearing: 2-8
AC: 5 
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 4
Special: 3 attacks (2 claw, bite), cause fear, bestow curse

Weakness: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d6+1 hp of damage to them.

If you want to see the other undead witches I have made over the years here is a list:

Monday, September 28, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Apple Sprites

It is officially Autumn now, so our family tradition is to head out to the apple orchards to pick apples and buy some items from the local farm stands.  This got me thinking about the mischievous, but elusive Apple Sprites.

Apple Sprite
Tiny Faerie
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1-6)
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic Good)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 1d4 (2 hp)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1hp
Special: Only harmed by cold iron, turn invisible.
Size: Tiny
Save: Elf 1
Morale: 4 (7)
Treasure Hoard Class: None; see below
XP: 5

Apple Sprites, also known as Apple Fairies or Apple Cherubs, a small faerie folk that live in apple trees. They are typically hard to see due to their coloration and size. In the spring their hair is light green and their skin is the pink and white of apple blossoms. As the season moves on their skin takes on the reds and golds of the apples they live near. Their wings shite from the whites and pink of apple blossoms to greens, to reds and yellows. They are shy and elusive in the Spring and Summer months (Morale 4) but as Autumn sets in, usually between Lughnasadh and Samhain, they become more active and bolder (Morale 7).  Apple Sprites hibernate in the winter, sleeping in nests of up to six. They remain invisible during hibernation and can not be discovered. 

Their only real attack is to throw apples at passersby. They will do this, turn invisible and laugh.  It is more irritating than damage causing.  

Apple Sprites have no treasure but like other denizens of enchanted apple orchards (Apple Tree Man and Epimēlides) can be lured and bribed with hard apple cider. If given cider the Apple Sprites can direct the adventurers to a spot in the forest where treasure (Type A x2) is hidden.  Though their favorite trick is direct the adventures to other tribes of Apple Sprites, who will demand more cider, and then direct to another tribe and keep the party wandering the orchard for hours while the sprites drink the cider and laugh. 

Apple Sprites speak sylvan and elven, one or two per tribe speak enough common to converse. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Moon Nymphs

Here is one that was supposed to go into my Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games and The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games. But for various reasons she kept getting cut.  I figure now is a good time to bring her back.


Luis Ricardo Falero
Melinoë (Moon Nymph)

Medium Faerie
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1-3)
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic Neutral)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4** (22 hp)
Attacks: None
Damage: None 
Special: Madness, Nightmare, only harmed by cold iron, witch magic
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 4
Morale: 6
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 225

Melinoë, or Moon Nymphs, are only found in the wilderness under the light of the moon. They are found "clothed in saffron (yellow)" which is actually just moonlight.  

Like all nymphs, they are unearthly beautiful. Any mortals that gaze upon them must save vs. Paralysis or be struck by moon madness for 1d4+2 turns.  A character with moon madness can't take actions save for muttering to themselves. The only intelligible things they can say are about the moon and how beautiful it is.

If three melinoë are present and they are observed they can cast the Nightmare spell (q.v). The subject has a +2 to their saves vs. Spells since the moon is known to all. 

Otherwise, a can cast spells as a 4th level witch (2 1st level, 2 2nd level spells).  They have no physical attacks. They also have no treasure.

For NIGHT SHIFT

Moon Nymph
No. Appearing: 1-3
AC: 7
Move: 40ft (under Moonlight only)
Hit Dice: 4
Special: Madness, Nightmare, only harmed by cold iron, witch magic
XP VALUE: 125

Moon Nymphs are very rare in the worlds of NIGHT SHIFT.  They are often mistaken for some type of vampire.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Galley Beggar

My thoughts are still on Halloween.  So time to bring back another monster from my younger days.

Galley Beggar

Medium Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (0)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"] (Limited to 100' from bones)
Armor Class: NA [NA]
Hit Dice: 1d8 (1 hp)
Attacks: 1 scream
Damage: NA (see below)
Special: Can't be hit by physical weapons (Mundane or Magical); immune to charm, hold, and sleep spells.
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 5 (50 if bones destroyed)

The Galley Beggar, also known as a Bull Beggar, is a type of ghost found in crypts, dungeons, and even old cellars.  They appear as a thin, skeletal looking ghoul in the poor light of dungeons, but are semi-transparent.  They are incorporeal (ghost-like) and are immune to physical attacks of any sort and any mind-affecting magics.

The Galley Beggar has only one attack, a scream that causes fear (as per the spell) in all who hear it.  Everyone with 100 feet of the screaming monster must make a Save vs. Spells or come under the effects of the fear.  Creatures greater than 6 HD are immune.  A favorite trick of the Galley Beggar is to pull it's own head off of its body and then scream.

The only ways to defeat a Galley Beggar are with Clerical Turning, they will turn as Skeletons (1 HD) or via any magic like Bless, Remove Curse, Dispell Magic, or similar enchantments.  If the bones of the Galley Beggar are found and destroyed (with fire or given a proper burial) then the creature is also destroyed. 

It is believed that the Galley Beggar is formed when a novice spell caster is killed on an adventure and their bodies are not returned for burial.  The Galley Begger will not form until the body has decayed to bones.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Apple Tree Man

It might still be August, but tomorrow is September and for my family, that means trips to the apple orchards. 

Apple Tree Man

Apple Tree Man © Andy Paciorek

Large Fae

Frequency: Very Rare (Unique per orchard)
Number Appearing: 0 (1)
Alignment: Neutral (Neutral Good)
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 3 [16] (should always sum to 19)
Hit Dice: 10d8+10* (55 hp)
Attacks: 2 limbs (bash)
Damage: 1d8+1, 1d8+1
Special: Double damage from fire and cold iron, immune to charm, hold and sleep spells. Awaken trees.
Size: Large 
Save: Monster 11
Morale: 11
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 2,400

Similar to treants, the Apple Tree Man is an ancient fae that lives in orchards. They are often the oldest apple tree in the orchard. It is not completely clear if these creatures are fae that have become tree-like or a tree that has awakened.  It could even be that the spirit of the apple tree man is present in the oldest tree in the orchard and he passes from orchard to orchard making him effectively immortal and unique.

The Apple Tree Man will not attack unless provoked or if his orchard is in peril. 

The Epimēlides (q.v), dryads of apple trees, are considered to be his daughters and granddaughters.  He can summon 2 to 8 (2d4) Epimēlides to aid him in protecting the orchards.  Additionally, he can "awaken" 1-4 (1d4) normal apple trees to fight as 6HD Treants to fight.

If a party though respects the orchard, does not harm any trees, and only eats the apples they need, the Apple Tree Man will be obliged to show them the quickest path out of the orchard.   

If they offer him hard apple cider, especially cider made for Apple Wassailing, then the Apple Tree Man will tell the party where they can find buried gold in the orchard. Usually 1d6x100 gp worth.

If a witch is present then the Apple Tree Man will hide their tracks and make the party undetectable by foes.  A witch may also be gifted a special apple wand that will cast one 1st level spell just once. The wand can be used later for other magics if desired. 

The Apple Tree Man will appear as a treant with apples growing from his hair, an old man or some combination of the two.

Monday, August 10, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 10 Want

When it comes to RPGs I really don't have a lot of "Wants."

I have been successful in my career so many daily needs of home, food, and health are all covered.  
I certainly don't *need* any books or games. I have enough here to last me the rest of my life and then some.

Though I do think back to a time when a combination of my low income, lack of access and lack of choice produced some Wants in my RPG life.  

The biggest examples of these are my various witch books.  

I have often said that the main drive behind everything I write and publish is a reflection of the wants I had of growing up in the 80s. 
I write the books I wanted to buy back then, but couldn't.  Sometimes that couldn't was because I could not afford it or didn't have access to a good Local Game Store. But most often it was because the books I wanted didn't even exist. 

So really nearly all my "wants" are in the form of "I want to write this book." or "I want to run this game."
And there are a lot of those.

I am currently working on two separate projects (well...more than two, but these are the two I am talking about today).  I have alluded to them both in passing, but I guess today is a good day to make them official.

First, and since today is Monstrous Monday it is good to mention it, is my book on monsters.

The Basic Bestiary: Monsters from the Other Side is my homage to the Fiend Folio and the source of many of those monsters, The Fiend Factory from White Dwarf magazine. 

This book takes monsters that have appeared in my various witch books and monsters that have been featured on Monstrous Mondays.  So very much like the Fiend Folio.  I have even retained the alliteration of the original monster books.  Like the Fiend Folio I am including some new, never before seen monsters as well.  Also like the Fiend Folio/Fiend Factory relationship not all the Monstrous Mondays monsters will go into this book. I am going to leave some of the sillier or snarkier monsters out.

It was the original Monster Manual that got me into D&D all the way back in the 70s.  This also stands as my homage to that.

Presently the book is 220+ with 300+ monsters and no art yet.  So far on par with the original monster books.  The final art for the cover is not yet set and there will be a soft-cover version for fans of "Basic-era" D&D and a hard-cover for fans of "Advanced-era" D&D. While I love the Fuseli art, it predates my beloved Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art by about 80 years.  But, given the source material, it is quite apropos.  Though I might look for something that works better as a full cover. I am just loathed to not use this somehow.  Unless I can find something from say, Hieronymus Bosch. but he is even further outside my Pre-Raphaelite time period.

Second I have what I have been calling my "Last Witch Book."

The High Secret Order: The High Witchcraft Tradition is going to be the culmination of everything I have written about the witch to date.

Every witch book under the Basic-era Games banner I have written was designed to capture a particular Zeitgeist of playing.  Daughters of Darkness captured the witch as an evil temptress vibe.  The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch captured that Fall/Winter of 1979 when I was heavy into mythology and picked up the Monster Manual for the first time and my experimentations with the Holmes Basic book.  The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch was not going for any particular time save for the fun of Halloween.  The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch was made to capture the time playing Moldvay/Cook & Marsh B/X D&D game and my times discovering both Norse and Celtic myth as an alternative to Greek myths.

As the last Basic-era Witch book this book covers the time of me moving away from Basic-era D&D towards Advanced D&D. Though it is less about a "time" and more about a "process."  I can go with the process of moving from Holmes Basic (and their promise of a witch class) to AD&D.  I can go with the Greyhawk supplement for OD&D as the first real springboard towards what would become AD&D. Or I can go with my own process of moving from B/X Basic to AD&D and a time when we all mixed all the above freely and without concern that we were "doing it right."

Such things might not matter to you, or they might. I just want to capture that time/feeling and make it solid just for a little bit. My gift to that young teen in the middle of the mid-west who could not get his hands on the books he wanted. Let alone books with witches and demons in it in the 80s in an extremely White-Christian small town.  My book is the book form of the Santana song "Hold On" which consequently is from the same time period.

Again. Like Basic Bestiary above the art is not 100% final. I like Daniel Gardner's painting, but again he is outside of myPre-Raphaelite time period. The "compatible with" designation is not on yet since I am not 100% sure which game I want to make this compatible with.  I have a few choices, but the idea is to capture the proper feel of the time and I need to look to a clone ruleset that does the time in mind well.  Just like Children of the Gods was my time with Holmes, Blueholme Rules was a perfect fit. Basic Bestiary will go with Labyrinth Lord

So far my research into my last witch book is moving ahead, but not a lot of writing yet.

I keep saying "last witch book" because there are other things I want to do. I'd love to write some 5e material and I even have a good idea for a 5e series.

I have a Blue Rose book coming out soon which I am pretty happy with and I have had a desire to write some more for BESM4 after picking it up earlier this summer.

So there is a lot I want to do.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Astral Spiders

If you are feeling tired, lethargic, or otherwise drained then you could have been attacked by an Astral Spider.  


As their name suggests these demonic creatures are native to the astral plane, but they are attracted to people with psychic or empathic abilities.  The spider, which is normally invisible, attaches itself to a victim and drains Wisdom at the rate of 1 point per day. The Astral Spider stays attached and draining until it's victim reaches 0 Wisdom. 
Magic that can detect a curse or detect evil creatures can let you know that an Astral Spider is attached to someone or attacking. 

The Astral Spider is immune to physical attacks, including magical and blessed weapons.  They can only be affected by magic.  A specially worded Remove Curse spell will remove an Astral Spider.  A banishment or exorcism will also remove the spider and force it back into the Astral.

Astral Spiders only move in the Astral plane. The only time they are manifest in the real world when attached to a victim and then they do not move. 

Astral Spider
Vermin (Demonic)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement:  Special
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d6+3* (10)
Attacks: 1 special 
Damage: 1 point Widom per day
Special: Immune to physical attacks, affected only by magic
Size: Small
Save: Fighter 3
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125

Astral Spider
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 9
Move: Special (Astral only)
Hit Dice: 3
Special: Wisdom drain. 1 point/day
XP VALUE: 120

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Trolls and Trolla (Troll Week)

Grýlka, ePic Character
It's Troll Week here at the Other Side!

I wanted to start off things with an idea that has been floating around my head for a while now.

Yesterday I mentioned that the "D&D trolls" did not really fit with the trolls I was reading in myths, legends, and fairy tales that often also included witches. The trolls in D&D, of course, were inspired by the ones from the Poul Anderson novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, which also gave us nixies (myths), swanmays/sawn-maidens (also Celtic myth) and the Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment axis (along with Moorcock). 

The trolls I like are bit more like Tom, Bert, and William from the Hobbit, but I am also fond of the mountain trolls from Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter.  

But trolls have a much longer history than that.  
I am not going to get into all the myths and legends of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but I am going to touch on them a bit. 

One of the creatures I always felt was a troll was Grendel from Beowulf. He seems like a troll to me.  Close to human, but monstrous and horrible to behold.  He is described as a "descendent of Cain" but even Tolkien in his version of the tale says he "cannot be dissociated from the creatures of northern myth."  He dislikes the sun and is harried by the sounds of the men singing. 

If Grendel is a troll then what is his mother?  She does seem to be different to be honest.

Robert Zemeckis' version aside, she does appear to be a monster, but of a different sort.   She is described as "aglæc-wif" which is debated by scholars as to its true meaning.  Among the meanings are "monster lady", "devil lady", "ugly troll lady", and "troll wife".

I always felt she was some sort of hag.  It was here reading a kids version of Beowulf in the 5th grade that I first got the idea that male trolls and female trolls might be different sorts of creatures. 


This was turned up to 11 with Robert Lynn Asprin's MythAdventures and his trolls (male) and trollops (female).  Ok in my defense it was the early 80s and I was 10-12.

I have made a couple of different attempts at this over the years.

First was the Makava or Wood Hag. Though her role was more of the wicked witch in the woods. She typically has 2-12 trolls around her home to provide her with physical protection.  They could be her brothers or her sons.

Next was the Trollwife who was something of Troll Hag found in colder areas. She appears in my Winter Witch book.  The oldest known trollwife is Mother Trollwife and she is also a powerful witch.

While both are great and really perfect for what I wanted them to do, they are still not what I was looking for for this concept.

So I had to go to Sweeden.  Not literally of course, but rather in my research.
When doing troll research you go to Norway.  Norwegians love their trolls.  I spent a lot of time reading about Norwegian trolls and these trolls have magic. But myths don't respect borders and many of these tales also spill over into Sweden, Denmark (home of Beowulf) and via more invasions than I can recount right now, England.

But it was Sweden that got my attention.
The Norwegian word for "troll" is "troll."  Nice and easy.
The Danish word for "troll" is "trold." Ok. 
The Swedish word for "troll" is also "troll."
But, "Trolla" in Swedish means "to conjure" or "to enchant."  OK! I can work with this!

There are tales in Swedish folklore of beautiful trolls, or at least beautiful women related to trolls.
All have magic.  So you know where I am going now.

Humanoid (Faerie)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4)
Alignment: Neutral/Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 1d8+2** (6 hp) to 13d8+26** (85)
Attacks: 1 weapon or spell
Damage: 1d8 (or by weapon type) or by spell
Special: Regeneration (1hp per hour), witch spells, vulnerable to silver
Size: Medium/Large
Save: Fighter 1 or Witch 1 to 13
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: Varies
XP: Varies

A Trolla is a type of troll witch.  They are full-blooded trolls, but some magical force causes the trolla to appear as mostly human. Always female, these trolls are both feared and revered in troll society. 
Once a trolla is born, and it is obvious at birth, she will be taken to a nearby human community and left with the humans.  During the trolla's childhood and adolescence, no troll will attack her adoptive village but will be seen on the outskirts as if watching.  The trolla appears to be human in all respects save she is often small and sickly.

Sometime around her 13th birthday, a transformation begins.  The trolla, who has been small her life will begin to grow at a rapid rate. She will within a year be taller than all the other children around her. She will reach her full height at over 6 feet tall. Her previous ill health will be forgotten has her strength and constitution will increase to at least 17 each (if not more). The girl, who always had an impish cuteness about her, will grow into a truly formidable woman.  Even if not "attractive" by the village standards (although she very well could be) she will have a force of personality that makes her fascinating to all. 

It is at this time she must choose her life; human or troll.  Those that choose to remain among the humans can become great warriors for her people, but often do not do more than any other person in her village. 

The ones that choose the life of a troll become truly powerful.  Once the choice is made another transformation begins. Her hair, which had often been blonde or light brown becomes either white or green.  Her skin takes on a green tinge. Horns, which have just been below the skin of her head will grow, as do lower tusks and even a long tail.  It will be at this time the trolla learns of her true gifts, that of troll witchcraft.

Trolla advance as Troll Witches (Faerie, Green, or Winter Tradition) at a level equal to their HD.

Trolla also have the following powers.
  • Regenerate 1 hp per Hour. This can only be done in the dark since trolls are creatures of the dark. Fire and acid wounds cannot be healed this way.
  • Infravision 90'.
  • Witch magic. Trolla are witches. They not only can cast witch spells, but also gain the benefits of a tradition (occult powers) and a coven (ritual magic).
  • Trollspeak. Trolla understands the language of trolls, ogres and other fey creatures.
Also, the have the following drawbacks and restrictions.
  • Heathen. Trolla cannot benefit from healing magic unless it comes from another witch or a cleric of her own religion.
  • Silver weapons always do maximum damage. Wounds from cold iron weapons are treated like fire.
PC and NPC Trolla can become Fighters or Witches.

Grýlka, Trolla Witch
1st level Witch, Green Witch Tradition
Chaotic Neutral

Str: 17
Int: 13
Dex: 14
Wis: 13
Con: 17
Cha: 18

Familiar: Twigblight (neutral)

Spells: Cure Light Wounds

Grýlka is a trolla witch raised among a community of druids. Her adoptive parents knew who and what she was from the time they found her.  Unable to have children of their own they raised her as their own daughter.  When she turned 13 she began her change and her parents told her of her history.
She loved her parents but felt the calling of her troll blood too strongly and too deeply.  She chose to be troll. On her acceptance she was granted a twigblight familiar, a creature normally despised by druids, to guide her into the ways of troll magic.

Grýlka stands 6'3", 6'7" if you measure from the ground to her curving horns.  Her skin is olive-green. Her hair, which was always white, has remained the same as has her green eyes.
She carries a staff of striking +1, a gift from her druid parents.  She discovered that healing magic no longer worked on her and this caused a bit of a panic, so her first spell is Cure Light Wounds.

She is now seeking out others of her kind so she may learn more.


I am going to spend some time with Grýlka all week and see how she fares with all the other trolls we meet this week.