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

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.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: The Wendigo for NIGHT SHIFT, BX RPG and AS&SH

Modern Wendigo by skeletoninadress
The Wendigo has always been a favorite monster of mine.  

The Algonquin (and Illiniwek) people had great mythology and SO underutilized in games or novels.  One creature that I always was fascinated with was the Wendigo. The Wendigo has been seen a lot in horror fiction, especially with the rise in popularity of werewolves and zombies.  But they are still very interesting.  The most famous one of course is The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, followed by August Derleth's Ithaqua.

This is a creature that possesses humans under conditions of extreme cold and hunger and gets them to become cannibals.  Also, people that engaged in cannibalism were also at greater risk of possession.

The Wendigo is a spirit most times, unable to physically manifest in the world or interact with it.  That is until someone in a cold part of the world begins to despair and go hungry.  There are plenty of places in the world that are cold and these have hungry people, the Wendigo though chooses someone though that has or will resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Once this is done the Wendigo has access to the victim's heart. 

With their heart frozen the victim becomes the physical Wendigo.  They appear lean and gaunt, but taller; as if stretched out.  Their hands become claws with vile blue talons.  Their entire appearance becomes more feral.  They appear to be something akin to a ghoul or even a starving were-wolf mid-transformation.  They are constantly hungry, eating all the flesh they can, though they never eat their fill.  Eventually, the wendigo strains the host body too much and they die completely in a number of weeks.  Though there are rumors of giant wendigo, whose heads reach the clouds that are thousands of years old.

I included the Wendigo and the more powerful Wendigo Matron in my The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry.  Here it is for other games. 

Wendigo
No. Appearing: 1-2
AC: 3
Move: 45ft.
Hit Dice: 8
Special: 3 attacks (2 claws, bite) + Breath weapon, Enhanced Senses, Immunity to Cold, Immunity to Normal Weapons, Requires Blessed weapon to hit.
XP VALUE: 1,280

This creature shares a number of characteristics with were-creatures and undead. Ancient people believed that only a tribal shaman could bless a weapon that would kill both the host body and the wendigo spirit. 

The wendigo is completely immune to all cold-based attacks.  It attacks with its claws and bite and can emit a blast of freezing cold air up 3 times per day for 1d6+5 hp of damage (save for half).

Ordinary World: Wendigos are known to exist in the Ordinary World, but few even among the supernatural community have encountered them.  They are generally feared to be unpredictable and very, very dangerous.

Valhalla, AK:  Everyone in Valhalla "knows" that there are "wendigos" north of the town.  The locals though will point out that the creature everyone thinks is a wendigo is actually the wechuge ("way-chu-gay"). Someone can become a wechuge by breaking a tribal taboo or becoming too prideful. 
Some of the indigenous locals still remember tales from their grandparents and great-grandparents of the horrible winters of long ago where you could hear the howls of the wechuge/wendigo. 

Wendigo

Armor Class: 2     
No. Appearing: 0 / 1d3
Hit Dice: 8
Save As: F8
Movement: 150/50 
Attacks: 3 claw/claw/bite 
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (cold) 1d8+5
Special Defense: Immune to cold-based attacks, immune to normal weapons, requires a blessed weapon to hit
Intelligence: 4 (devious cunning)
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Chaos
THACO: 12
Experience: 1,750

This creature shares a number of characteristics with were-creatures and undead. Ancient people believed that only a tribal shaman/cleric could bless a weapon that would kill both the host body and the wendigo spirit. A cleric can turn one as a Special Undead. Once a person is infected with a wendigo they can not be cured.

The wendigo is completely immune to all cold-based attacks.  It attacks with its claws and bite and can emit a blast of freezing cold air up 3 times per day for 1d6+5 hp of damage (save for half).


Wendigo

No. Encountered: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: L
Movement: 50 
Dexterity: 12
Armour Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8
Attack Rate: 3/1 (claw / claw / bite) + breath weapon (cold) x3
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d8 + 1d8+5
Special: Immune to cold-based attacks, immune to normal weapons, requires a blessed weapon to hit
Saving Throw: 12
Morale: 11
Experience Points: 1,000
Treasure Class: None

The wendigo are believed to have been first created by Ythaqqa.
They can be turned as undead type 13.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Knockers, the Good* Kobolds for Basic-era and Night Shift

There has been some debate on the nature of good and evil when it comes to some monsters.  I plan on saying more about it later (spoiler: dropping alignment restrictions is a good thing!) but allow me to welcome D&D to 2,500+ years of organized philosophical debate and over 6,000 years of religious ones.  They have not worked out all the details yet so I don't expect D&D to do it yet either.

But that is not today's discussion.  Today I want to discuss Knockers.

Knockers are a subterranean species that frequent old mines.  They are common to Cornwall so they could be related to any number of Cornish faeries (and they have a lot of the Fey there) but in reality, they seem closer to the Kobold.  Or at least how the kobold has been depicted in German folklore.

Around the time of 2nd Ed Kobolds went from evil little dog men to evil little lizard men. Personally, I rather liked the change.  I love the idea of these scrappy little lizards running around. I am also fine with them being evil, or at least very, very self-centered as a species.  Their lizard brains only allow for survival in the most brutal ways possible. As such, they worship the things that look like them, only bigger, evil dragons.  If your god is evil then you probably are as well.  Do I leave room for a potentially "good" kobold? Of course, the world is vast, strange and wonderful, anything is possible.


But as it turns out I have good kobolds covered. 

Knockers are good* kobolds.  

I say good* because good ≠ nice.  

They are happy to work with each other, they get along fine with gnomes and the local pixies. They will even help lost miners find their way out of mines when they are lost.  But their reasons are hardly altruistic.  They feel that humans are big lumbering idiots and think they belong to the same species as ogres or trolls. They will lead miners out via a series of knocking or raps on stone not because they feel bad for the human but because one lost human brings in many more humans to look for them.

Knockers and kobolds share a history. Once they were the same people. Living in deep subterranean mines looking for veins of precious metals.  Their diggings brought them into contact with goblins, dwarves, gnomes, and even orcs.  All these encounters ended poorly for the kobolds as they were smaller in size. They grew to despise most other species.  As time went on the waters began to return as the last Ice Age began to thaw. When their homelands were taken by the sea, some moved west while others moved east and south.  The two peoples became distinct.  The kobolds of the south took on the worship of evil gods and dragons. Their lust for gold and power corrupted them into smaller forms and they took on more draconic features.  The kobolds of the west became more and more introverted and xenophobic.  Their distrust of others never abating but deciding that their best course of action was not to fight but to hide deeper and deeper in the Earth. 
The two sub-species of kobold barely resembles the other today, but there are still similarities if one knows how to look.

Knocker (Kobold)
Basic-era Games
Humanoid (Subterranean) 
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 2-20 (2-4)
Alignment: Neutral (Neutral Any)
Movement: Basic 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1d6 (3 hp)
Attacks: 1 
Damage: 1d4 (weapon)
Special: Hide in shadows 95%
Size: Small
Save: Normal Human
Morale: 7
Treasure Hoard Class: I (XIII)
XP: 7

Knockers are a relative of the kobold. They resemble them in most respects save that these creatures appear to be more "humanoid" than their lizard-like counterparts.  Often described as "dog-faced" it is unclear whether that is a reference to their actual canine-like appearance or to their general ugliness.
Knockers speak their own variation of the kobold language, but either sub-species can understand the other given a little time.

Knockers are believed to have interbred with gnomes and goblins in their travels west, and this is used to explain their changed temperaments.  Knockers generally get along well enough the gnomes and local fae and even tolerate goblins. Consequently, their greatest enmity is with kobolds and humans. 

For the most part, knockers look to be left alone to continue to mine their mines.  They will defend their communities if attacked using group tactics. If left alone, they will often leave others alone as well.

One Man's God
Kurtulmak is the god of Kobolds, though in truth he should also be a Demon Lord like Yeenoghu.  He is described as being a bit reptilian as well.  In keeping with a theme the demon lord (lady) that evil knockers follow is Zsusr

Knocker
No. Appearing: 2-20
AC: 6
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 1
Special: Hide in Shadow 95%, Pack tactics
XP VALUE: 7

Knockers are a subterranean humanoid people related to the fae.  They typically live in old mines and in the dungeons under old castles. 

Generation HEX: Some magical schools, particularly AMPA Cornwall in Great Britain, has a group of knockers living below the school. AMPA faculty have yet to decide what needs to be done with them if anything at all.

Ordinary World: Knockers have been known to live in the White and Adirondack Mountain ranges. They are believed to have migrated with English, Welsh, and Cornish immigrants. Here they have interacted with the local populations of Pukwudgie peoples.


Note: Want more information? Dump Stat goes into a Deep Dive of the Kobold across many editions.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Ethyl Critchlow, Urban Hag

Backers are now getting their copies of NIGHT SHIFT: VETERANS OF THE SUPERNATURAL WARS so the PDF was opened up on DriveThruRPG.  If you were not a backer you can get a copy for yourself now.


I am going to be posting more content and support for Night Shift here but thought I'd start off with a monster/NPC from my West Haven setting.

Ethyl Critchlow, Urban Hag

Every child, whether human or witch-born, knows to stay away from the house on the corner of Taylor and Bell.  Here sits an old run-down house that everyone thought would either fall in on itself or the city would have condemned.  But it is not the house that frightens the children, though it is frightening.  Nor is it the small angry dog that everyone remembers from their own childhoods, making it at least 25 years old or older.  Rumor in the neighborhood is that once the dog got out and bit the fingers off of a boy who could not run fast enough. 
It is not the dog or the house. It is the owner of both that keeps people away.

Ethyl Critchlow looks like a stereotypical old witch, but this is just a glamour, her true form is that of an ancient and hideous old hag.  She is an Urban Hag and has been living in West Haven for nearly as long as there has been a West Haven.  She hates all children and takes glee in terrorizing them, but pact made with the City Council keeps her from doing any actual harm to them.  Though if their toys land in her yard she will keep them and if any child climbs her fence to get these toys then she will send her "dog" (in actuality a glamoured Hell Hound) Maximillian after them.  

Ethyl would also admit that at her age (almost 400) that eating children, especially modern ones, given her terrible heartburn.  Though she did eat a couple of missionaries from East Haven back in the 1960s, but no one came looking for them.  

She stays in West Haven because frankly, she has nowhere else to go. The city tolerates her and is just waiting for her to finally die of old age or a magical mishap.   She is also a great source of magical knowledge and history. She can be bribed with 18-year-old single malt scotch. Ethyl is a heavy drinker, so bring more than one bottle if you plan to use this for information.  Also fair warning, as Ethyl drinks her glamour begins to fade. By the time she has worked through two bottles, her glamour will be gone.

Ethyl Critchlow (Urban Hag)
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
AC: 2
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 10
Special: Adapt to locale, Cackle, Horde, Spellcasting, Strength, Vulnerability (iron)
XP VALUE: 10,240

Ethyl casts spells as a 9th-level witch.

Urban Hags are hoarders. Her home is a falling apart pit of junk she has collected over her nearly four centuries of life.  Amongst the filth, garbage and debris of decades, there are also some magical treasures.  In particular, Ethyl has several magical scrolls with spells that can be used by any witch or scholar. There is also a magical pipe that can lure the undead to sleep. Though one is advised not to go looking for such treasures.

find Ethyl and the other citizens of West Haven in Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Demon Lord, Ahrimanes (BECMI)

We are coming to our very last week of BECMI month and it has been an education for me.  The biggest surprise was the inclusion of demons in the BECMI Immortal rules. It makes sense of course, demons are the ultimate in evil, chaos, and entropy in nearly every myth.

Let's start off Immortals week with a new version of the Demon from my home games.  Presented here in BECMI Immortal format.

Lord Ahrimanes (Immortal)
Sphere: Entropy
Status: Eternal
Power Points: 7,500
Anti-Magic: 90%
Armor Class: -5
Hit Dice: 35**
Hitpoints: 555
Move: 120' (40')
  Flying: 180' (60')
Attacks: 2 claws
Damage: 2d8+5, 2d8+5
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Eternal 3
Morale: Special
Call Other: See below
Treasure Type: B, H, I
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 6,405,000 (640 pp)

Lord Ahrimanes was once a servant of Law and Good (Thought) until he chose Chaos and Evil (Entropy). Believed to be one of the most powerful of the forces of evil, his own disgust for nearly all others leaves him alone and without allies. Even demons that would normally despise one another would join forces to defeat or thwart the plans of Ahrimanes.  There is a particular hatred between Lord Ahrimanes and Duke ʾIblīs.

He is a great admirer of science and knows all the natural sciences. When he writes his writing always appears upside-down. Some scholars point to the Demon Abraxas and note that he is master of all the magical arts and his writing always appears backward as a sign of the relationship between the two.
His realm is known as Ahriman-abad and it is said to lie “between the stars.” 

He can appear as a handsome man with a high domed forehead, inquisitive eyes, and thoughtful demeanor.  He will appear garbed as a scholar or philosopher of an earlier age but yet his physique is athletic.  When he is enraged, which happens easily and at the barest slight, his demonic form is revealed.  He stands 10’ tall with dark red skin covered in patches of thick, coarse black hair and scales.  His face becomes twisted in rage and seven horns grow from his head which now has numerous heads, eyes, and mouths.  His hands, which had previously looked like the hand of a scribe, now twist into giant claws.

Lord Ahrimanes attacks with claws, usually too enraged to consider using a weapon.  Due to his nature all magic has a 90% of failing when around him.  Any magic that does get past his anti-magic shield is still subject to a saving throw.  He cannot use magic himself.  Additionally, Lord Ahrimanes has all the resistances and vulnerabilities of all demons.

Lord Ahrimanes is so despised that he cannot summon other demons except for his seven “sons” which appear as Howling Demons / Type III / Glabrezu of the largest size and maximum hp. 

--

Not too bad.  A bit powerful for an AD&D or OSR game, but certainly great for a BECMI game.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sasquatch (BECMI Special)

I am continuing my BECMI posting all month.
Saturday was the first day of Summer for 2020 and Summer and June usually meant one thing in my house back in 1983.  The local Public Library's Summer Reading program!

When I was younger I devoured books on monsters, aliens and all sorts of strange creatures.
I have detailed my interactions with some of these books that I was able to find more recent as an adult elsewhere here on my blog.

But today is special.  Today is the confluence of a number of topics in a perfect way.  Today I will post my review of the BECMI Master's set.  It is summer. It is a Monster Monday.  What better monster for today than the one that is really at the root of my monster love.

Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch.

Around the same time I was getting into D&D we also subscribed to Showtime, one of the first cable channels out.  The film Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot was on heavy rotation on the channel then (that and Smokey and the Bandit). It was a pseudo-documentary, but it really set the stage for some of the games I would later play; the monster naturalist.

Here is a sasquatch I developed originally in 1986-87.  I used these stats later to develop the Almasti for Ghosts of Albion later on.

Sasquatch
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6*
Move: 180' (60')
Attacks: 2 fists or rock throw
Damage: 6-11 (1d6+5) / 6-11 (1d6+5) or 7-21 (2d8+5)
No. Appearing: 0 (1-10)
Save As: Fighter: 5
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 500

The sasquatch, also known as the "Bigfoot", is a large humanoid creature.  It is neither human, orc or even an ogre.  The creature is elusive and extremely shy. Very little is known about the creatures and most urban scholars doubt they even exist.

What is known is this. The sasquatch ranges from 7' to 9' tall, and weighing between 650lbs to 1,000lbs.  They have long torsos, long arms with massive hands, shorter legs but large feet which gives them their name.  They are strong, 22 Strength, have dark brown, reddish or black fur like that of an ape.  What is often most remarked about them is their strong odor which gives them their other common name, the "skunk ape." 

The sasquatch can blend into surroundings making them difficult to spot. They can only be seen on a roll of "1" on a d20.  Their odor makes it difficult for them to completely surprise. They can only surprise on a roll of 5 or 6 on a d6.

They are normally non-aggressive, preferring to hide, and stay away from all others save their own family units.  If pressed they will attack, or if they feel their family unit is in danger.

The sasquatch can attack with two fists or throw boulders, much like a giant.  The sasquatch can also howl.  This howl causes fear (as per the spell) to all that hear it who fail a saving throw vs. Paralysis.  Those that fail the save are too frightened to attack or move.

--

I mentioned here before that my "first monster manual" was by Daniel Cohen and not Gary Gygax.



This plus my Moldvay set keep me going for a very long time.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Philosopher Lich and Notions (BECMI Special)

This week I am going to cover the Companion series and what that meant to me before it came out when it came out and now.

Today we have nearly unfettered access to RPG material.  One of the things I did not have access too was the original AC9 D&D Creature Catalogue.  My DM though in 1986 did.  One of the creatures I liked was the Gray Philosopher. I really liked undead monsters for my game, so I went home after seeing this and wrote my own version for my AD&D game.  Liches would not appear in D&D until the Master Set, which I never saw till much later, but they were a staple of AD&D.

Later I expanded on it for AD&D 2nd Ed and called it an "Occult Lich."  Though I was never 100% happy with it.

This creature is based on some ideas I had for the "Occult Lich" and something I was calling the "Accidental Lich."

This lich was/is my "clerical" version of the "magic-user" lich.
The name is also a nod to the "Philosopher's Stone."


Lich, Philosopher
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 10-14*
Move: nil
Attacks: nil
Damage: nil
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Cleric 10-14
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: V x2 + Special
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value:
  10 HD: 1,600
  11-12 HD: 1,900
  13-14 HD: 2,300

The Philosopher Lich is most often created when an evil cleric is pondering some evil plan or a philosophical bit of occult knowledge that they extend beyond death.
The Philosopher Lich will often be found seated, typically in a pose of deep contemplation.  They appear as do other liches; skeletal wearing robes common to their station in life and with eyes that glow of a deep and profound evil intelligence. It is this malevolent glow that keeps them from confused with normal skeletons or an undead one.
Philosopher Liches were once great clerics dedicated to foul beings beyond the understanding of humans.  Their evil thoughts pre-occupy their very existence. They do not move and rarely speak.
They are guarded by their evil thoughts made manifest known as notions.
If all the notions are defeated the Philosopher Lich can attack with spells it knew as a high-level evil cleric.  They will also have 2-5 (1d4+1) magic items common to high-level clerics with the exception of arms and armor. This is in addition to double the type V.
Philosopher Liches are turned as Liches, but they cannot be turned as long as their Notions are still active.

Notions
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4**
Move: 90' (30')
   Flying: 240' (60')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-5 (1d4+1) + Special (Intelligence Drain)
No. Appearing: Same as HD of Philosopher Lich
Save As: Cleric 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 175

Notions are the manifestations of the evil thoughts of the Philosopher Lich.  The notions appear as wraith-like horrific versions of the Lich as he or she appeared in life, though twisted.  Each notion is a reflection of the horrible thought the Lich has.  So thoughts of murder manifest as a bloody looking notion, greedy notions are covered in chains, gluttonous notions are fat, and so on.
The notions attack with a single touch that feels like an electric shock or cold chill, depending on the notion, that does 2-5 hp of damage.  The victim attacked must also make a Saving Throw vs. Death or lose 1 point of Intelligence.  The notions "feed" on this mental energy and give it to the Philosopher Lich.
Victims restore their Intelligence score at a rate of 1 per week.

Notions can be turned as Spectres.


Monday, June 8, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sea Dragons (BECMI special)

It's another BECMI Monstrous Monday.  This is Expert Week and few creatures really exemplify the Expert experience to me (either B/X or BECMI) than sea monsters and dinosaurs.

As it turns out, the Field Museum agrees with me.
https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/02/28/move-over-t-rex-field-museum-is-bringing-in-ocean-dinosaurs-for-special-exhibit/

Or. At least they were going too.  Back when I planned this posting Covid-19 had not yet hit.

Sea Dragons are some of my son's most favorite creatures.  As before I am going to go with the BECMI format for the monster stat block.



Dragon, Sea
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 12**
Move: 30' (10') Sea dragons are slow and clumsy on land.
   Swimming: 270' (90')
Attacks: 1 bite + 1 breath weapon (steam)
Damage: 5d8+5
No. Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Save As: Fighter: 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: H
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 2,700

Breath Weapon: Cloud of steam, 60' x 40'

Sea Dragons are an ancient type of dragon that some scholars believe are among the first of dragon kind.  They are known to swim in the deepest of seas where they make meals of all but the largest of sea creatures.

Sea Dragons also attack boats that swim into their territory.  They attack with a bite only and a dangerous breath weapon of superheated steam.  The steam is stored in a pressurized organ in the dragon's body.  This allows it to survive at depths that would crush other creatures.  It also allows the steam to become hot enough to melt soft metals.  Protection from fire, magical, or otherwise offers no protection from this breath weapon.  Damage taken is equal to the number of current HP the dragon has, save vs Dragon Breath Weapon for half.

Unlike other dragons, Sea Dragons do not cast spells or speak. They can speak, but typically only to other dragons.

Sea Dragons keep treasure in undersea lairs, usually inaccessible to surface dwellers.

Sea Dragons are believed to honor ancient immortal members of their species called Apsû and Tiamat, representing the Sweet and Salt waters respectively.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Grimlock (BECMI Special)

For all of June, I am going to be focusing on the BECMI rules, the only* D&D I never really played.
(*I played a lot of Holmes, Moldvay, Cook and Marsh Basic through Expert and used some BECMI books.)

For my June Monster Mondays (and there are 5 of them!) I am going to focus on a monster that would have been appropriate for the boxed set I am reviewing that week.  Also, I want to pick monsters I would have been likely to have used then OR ones I actually created back then.  Thankfully for this I have been "given" my youngest son's old game computer (wait...didn't I buy this??) and it has the only DVD-ROM drives in the house now.  I have been digging through some wonderful treasures I had semi-forgot I had.

So for this week, I want to do a creature that would have felt at home in the D&D Basic Set.  My general rule today is if I could have encountered them in the Caves of Chaos, then they are good.

I was talking to my oldest son about this and he suggested Grimlocks.  Honestly, it is perfect.

A lot of my own D&D world-building was built on the classics, and what is more classic than The Time Machine, both the book and the great 1960 George Pal directed film.   The Grimlocks of D&D have a spiritual ancestor in the Morlocks of the H.G. Welles classic.  Both creatures are essentially a human species that has "devolved" into a barbaric state.  They even share some literature (and not literal) DNA with similar creatures from H.P. Lovecraft or Richard Sharpe Shaver's "deros".  They would have been right at home in the Cave of Chaos.  Especially since they fill an "uncomfortable" niche of what happens to humans who dedicate themselves to darkness and chaos.  The Morlocks would have been still fresh in my mind in my early D&D days from the almost forgettable (expect by meI guess) 1978 Time Machine TV Movie.

I also like them for the witch connection.  Grimlocks were popular monsters on Charmed where they are essentially low-level demons.

In my games, Grimlocks are much the same as they are in all sorts of D&D games.  Save they are demon-worshipping cultists and their distrust of all other races (and their cannibalism) keep them from forming strong bonds to really rule the underworld.

Grimlock
Armor Class:  7
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-7 (1d6+1)
No. Appearing: 2-20 (0)
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaos
XP Value: 30

Grimlocks are a blind subterranean race that attacks anyone and anything they do not know.   They are descended from a group of human cultists that worshipped the foulest demons.  Whether they were driven underground or sought it out on their own they have since moved far away from their original humanity into something more akin to a monster.

Their skin coloration is a dull gray and their milky white eyes appear to dull and sightless. Indeed the Grimlock is blind, but their senses of smell and hearing are so acute that they can still "see" in the complete darkness.  They can sense vibrations so they are capable of spotting and attacking enemies, even invisible ones, up to 120' away.  They do not use missile attacks and prefer to fight with clubs or rocks.  Most are bald, but some have sparse dark hair on their heads, especially the females.
Grimlocks are stronger than average, 15 Strength, but they also have lower than average intelligence and wisdom (usually 9 or 8).

Grimlocks have lived in small isolated communities for centuries.  They will keep prisoners to replace fallen members, at least until such prisoners can produce new Grimlocks for them.  Prisoners, fallen Grimlocks, or any other enemy, once they are dead are eaten.  Grimlocks have no use for, or understanding of, treasure save for weapons.

Despite being blind and immune to any effect that requires sight (a medusa attack for example) they loathe the sun and will avoid going to the surface world save for nights of the new moon.

Special Grimlocks can advance as far as the 4th level as a Warlock to a demonic cult.

Grimlocks and Troglodytes hate each other and will attack the other to the exclusion of all other enemies.

Some scholars believe that the human cultists that spawned the grimlock race had intermingled with lower demons to produce the first grimlocks.  So far none of these scholars have ventured out of their lofty towers of learning, with plenty of sunlight, to put their theories to the test.

1960 Morlocks

1978 Morlock

Grimlocks from Charmed
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