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

Monday, May 25, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Blood Goblin (Hæmogoblin)

Here is a nasty little beastie from WAY back in my past.  I used these guys in AD&D 2nd Ed and then again for Ghosts of Albion where they were a big part of my Obsession adventure.

Blood Goblin (Hæmogoblin)

Undead faerie
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 1-4 (1-6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4** (22 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite (blood drain)
Damage: 1d4+1, 1d4+1, 1d6 + blood drain
Special: Acidic blood, 1d4 on touch, only harmed by silver, track by scent
Size: Small
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 7
Treasure Hoard Class:
XP: 225

Blood Goblins are nasty little beasties. Nominally part of the faerie, their essences have been corrupted by a vampiric or demonic power. The ritual to turn a faerie into a blood goblin is unknown to most mortals, but what is known is it is dark and evil and requires the vampire or demon to bind the potential blood goblin to feed it some of its own foul blood.

Once complete the faerie undergoes a horrible transformation. Their form becomes a twisted parody of what it once was. Wings (if they had them) wither and fall off. Teeth grow long and sharp. Their skin takes on the unhealthy look of a bruise or rotting flesh and thick acidic blood weeps from their pores. Arms grow long and their now taloned hands drag the ground. Their eyes turn completely milky white with no pupils visible.

They can speak, but it is difficult to understand them.

Blood goblins are bound to their master and will do his bidding. The trouble is most are far too dimwitted to be anything other than a nasty little killer. They enjoy hiding in alleys or darkened paths and ambush their targets. They have a keen sense of smell so often they need something that smells like the intended victim in order to attack them.  But they can and will attack anything warm-blooded.

Like all undead blood goblins are affected by holy water, taking 2-8 hp of damage per vial. blood goblins also take damage from sunlight. Blood goblins take 10 hit points of damage for every round they are exposed to bright, full sunlight. A “Continual Light” spell will also cause 1d4 hp of damage. Also they are unaffected by any mind spells (“Charm”, “Hold”, “ESP”) or “Sleep”.
Blood goblins have infravision to 90’.

Blood Goblins turn as Ghasts.

Here are my original AD&D 2nd Ed stats for them.


Hæmogoblin

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Any
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
ORGANIZATION: Solitary
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Night
DIET : Living beings
INTELLIGENCE: Low (5)
TREASURE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
NO. APPEARING: 1 (1-4)
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVEMENT: 12”
HIT DICE: 4+4
THAC0: 16
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8/1-8/1-10
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Blood Drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Can only be hit by silver or magic.
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: S (3’ to 4’)
MORALE: Steady (11 - 12)
XP VALUE: 800
PSIONICS: Nil

The highest level of undead a human may obtain is arguably the Vampire. It’s ability to blend in with human or demi-human society is as much as an asset to it as it’s great strength and magic. However, many sub-human races are not suitable for vampiric conversion. Some sages claim it could be their force of will or life is relatively low. Others claim it is the gods that control the sprits (and not souls) of these humanoids that do not allow them to become vampires. It could be that vampires find these sub-humans distasteful. However some sub-humans have become undead. Undead gnolls (q.v. Shoovusa) and trolls (q.v. Spectral and Spirit Trolls) have been recorded. The Hæmogoblin is also such a creature.
Hæmogoblin’s, are created by vampires in need of a specialized servant. Creating a hæmogoblin is similar to creating any other type of vampire; blood is exchanged between the vampire and the victim. However to create the hæmogoblin the vampire needs to do something slightly different. The vampire uses any humanoid creature, (orcs, kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, norkers, etc…) usually goblins are chosen, due to their size and manageability.
It should be noted that creatures as large as an ogre might be used, but none have ever been reported, also goblyns (from Feast of Goblyns) can not be used, they have already been converted using powerful magics.
The vampire master takes the humanoid victim and first drains it of most of its blood. The vampire then will regurgitate the purloined blood back into the humanoids mouth. The victim will swallow the blood and it’s transformation to undeath has begun. Usually by the next nightfall the victim will reawaken to full hæmogoblin status. The vampire lord can create a number of these creatures that is equal to its own hit dice, e.g. a 12 hit die vampire can create 3 (3*4 hit die=12) of these creatures. From this point the hæmogoblin will act as a servant somewhere between a homunculus/familiar and a vampiric slave.

Combat: Hæmogoblins attack with a claw/claw/bite routine. On any natural “20” rolled to hit with the bite attack the hæmogoblin will begin to drain the victim's blood at the rate of 1 CON point per round. The hæmogoblin can only be removed with a successful “Bend bars/Lift Gates” roll. The victim may not attack during the rounds an attempt to remove the hæmogoblin takes place. If the hæmogoblins are S size or smaller then up to two may be draining one victim at the same time. If the victim reaches 0 CON points then they die. Unless a “Bless” or “Remove Curse” spell is cast on the corpse it will rise the next night as a Ghast.

Hæmogoblins turn as Ghasts. Hæmogoblins cannot pass on their curse of undeath like the vampire to create other hæmogoblins, however, there is a 50% chance that any sub-human killed by a hæmogoblin will become a ghoul, with 5% of those becoming ghasts. These victims are free-willed, but they are at a disadvantage when encountering the vampire that created the hæmogoblin. They make their saves at –5 and are 25% more likely to fall under that vampire’s control.
Like all undead hæmogoblins are affected by holy water, taking 2-8 hp of damage per vial. Hæmogoblins also take damage from sunlight. Hæmogoblins take 10 hit points of damage for every round they are exposed to bright, full sunlight. A “Continual Light” spell will also cause 1d4 hp of damage. Also they are unaffected by any mind spells (“Charm”, “Hold”, “ESP”), or “Sleep”.
Hæmogoblins have infravision to 90’.

Habitat/Society: Hæmogoblin’s are created undead, none will occur “naturally”. They can be most often found in or near the lairs of vampires. Crypts are very commonplace for hæmogoblins. They have been known to associate with ghouls for increased protection and hunting. Hæmogoblin’s prefer to eat living humans and humanoids. Often however they are forced to eat the scraps left to them by their vampire masters. If hard-pressed hæmogoblins will eat corpses.
Most hæmogoblins encountered will be in the service of a vampire lord/lady. They are often used as spies for the vampire. In one recorded incident a vampire set up one his own Hæmogoblins as a scapegoat to cover his own tracks. While any angry mob was dealing with the hæmogoblin, the vampire left the area.
Unlike a true familiar, the vampire suffers no ill effects if his hæmogoblin is destroyed.

Ecology: Hæmogoblins are undead and produce nothing. While the corpses of hæmogoblins may be useful to necromancers or sages, they have nothing else of value.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Gladyolus

One of the big influences I have had for my Monstrous Mondays and my new monster book has been my mom.

No kidding.

My mom loves sci-fi and horror. When I started playing D&D back in the 80s she took one of my D&D books, I think it was the AD&D DMG, and she proclaimed "this is just mythology and math!"  But she loved all the monsters and she had always loved telling all us kids stories about them.

Here is one of them!

She told us this story back when I was in sixth grade.  I know that it is not 100% original, but it still thrilled us as kids. Though in my mom's defense, she never read any Clark Ashton Smith.

Gladyolus
Monstrous Plant
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 2-20 (5-100)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 0' (0') [0"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1d8 (5 hp)
Attacks: 1 (blood drain)
Damage: 1d4+1
Special: Nag (see below), takes 2x damage from fire
Size: Small
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: 15

According to tales, the Gladyolus flower began not as a plant but as a woman named Gladys.  Gladys was not a happy woman.  She nagged her adult children, her friends, but most of all she nagged her husband.  One day she was complaining about something when her husband finally snapped and he killed her.  Seeing what he had done he decided to dig up his garden and bury Gladys in it.
The next spring the flowers he had planted grew, but all had Gladys' face and voice.
The nagging drove her husband to kill himself and the Gladyolus fed on the corpse.

The Gladoylus is a monstrous plant that feeds on the blood of warm-blooded creatures.  Humanoids are its favorite source of food.  The plant flower has the face of a woman.  When encountering humanoid creatures each flower begins to talk to berate the creatures.  On a failed save vs. Spells the creatures will wade into the plants to attempt to get them to be quiet.  Once in the midst of the plants they will all begin to attack, up to 1d10 plants per round, doing 1d4+1 per plant.

The plants can't move and take double damage from fire.

--

So I am solidifying my stat-block for this book.  I am going to opt for Advanced Labyrinth Lord compatibility.  This solves two really big issues.  First, it gives a solid XP matrix to work with.  Since LL is one of the most popular retro-clones on the market, this covers a lot of players.  Second, it also gives me a Treasure Type/Horde Class that is easier to use and I don't need to invent my own.

I am still going to add Type, Frequency, and Size.  But I don't think I am going use the size = different HD as I talked about last week.  Adding Type, Frequency, and Size. is easy and won't detract too much on people's games.  Changing HD type might be a bridge too far.  So my current plan is to provide them as an Appendix.  So this creature would be listed as: "Gladyolus, Small, 1d6 (4 hp)."

This is going to be a lot of fun!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Cù Sìth and Monster book Progress

Last week I spent some time going over my proposed monster book.  Presently I have about 240 monsters and sitting at 170 pages without art.  Respectable but I am certain to make some cuts.   I have gone through all my Witch books and the majority of Monstrous Mondays.

The biggest issue at the moment is that I have done Monstrous Mondays for so long there are at least five OSR systems I have used, not to mention original monsters I created for other systems.  I can use those monsters, but just like the OSR ones I need to convert everything to a single system.

For a while, I was working on the notion that I should do this as an "Advanced" era book.  Trouble is I really don't see a lot of Advanced era books for sale on DriveThru.  It is pretty much dominated by Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry.  I want to make the book I want, but if I want to pay for art it also needs to be a book people will buy.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord seems like the best compromise, but even then it is missing a couple things I want. Well. That is where Monstrous Mondays come back in!

I think I'll use this space to workshop a few monster stat blocks that work with what I want.
In particular, I want to have something similar to what I was doing in the early 80s; the free mixing of "Basic" and "Advanced" eras.

Something that plays like this.



I could start with a standard Labyrinth Lord stat block, add-in ability scores or ability score adjustments like Blueholme does.  Maybe include some of the OGC elements I like best from Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary and OSRIC.

To be honest, I have not quite made up my mind just yet.
But let's try something out.

Here is a good test. I'll convert a Ghosts of Albion creature to this new format.  A good choice is one that was inspired by a 1st creature that was in turn inspired by the mythical fairy creature.
So here is my Monstrous Monday version of the Cù Sìth.

Cù Sìth
Cu Sith by NyssaShaw
Faerie Animal
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)
Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)
Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5
Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron
Size: Large
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: (working on this, see below)

The Celts were well known for their love of dogs. But the Cù Sìth (“coo shee”) or “Fairy Hound” has a special place in Celtic lore. Often described as a large hound that is either all green or all white with red ears. They have been alternately seen as bad omens, horrible stealers of children, or a fierce and loyal protector, the Cù Sìth features in many tales.

Tales feature the Cù Sìth as a spectral hound, one that forebodes doom like the Barghest, though those hounds are more often black in color and their malevolence is more universal than that of the Cù Sìth. Also, the Cù Sìth is more commonly associated with the Faerie and sometimes valiant, but tragic, warriors and the Barghest is more closely associated with witchcraft.

The Cù Sìth can be found most often near or around fairy mounds. A good sign that a mound is, in fact, a faerie mound is the proximity of a Cù Sìth to it.

Cù Sìth can also interbreed with other dogs which will typically produce one Cù Sìth per liter; sometimes more, sometimes less. Odd are the ways of the faerie folk.

Cù Sìth pups are rarely if ever tamed. If one wishes to remain with a non-faerie then it is of their own choosing.

--
OK.  Let's talk through this stat block.

Creature Type: Faerie Animal

I am going to include a creature type. This will be a short-hand for a few things.  Faerie in this case means can speak elven and sylvan, takes double damage from iron and *maybe* need silver or magic weapons to hit.

Frequency: Very Rare

I like frequency.  One of my favorite Advance era stats that we don't see in Basic era.

No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)

Fairly self-explanatory.

Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)

I want to include the Good-Evil axis along with the Law-Chaos one.  Both will be listed.

Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]

Movement is listed for Basic era Turns and (Rounds) and [Advanced era].  Special moves will be spelled out.  So no //# /# to confuse anyone.

Armor Class: 7 [12]

Armor Class is listed with both Descending and [Ascending] types.

Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)

For HD I am going to include the die type, any extra hp and hp (the average of the die type).

Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5

Attacks and Damage are split up.  Though I could easily put these on one line.

Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron

Special attacks, moves, and defenses are here.  This is vaguely Basic era, but also from other games I have used.

Size: Large

I like including size here. Also, I am considering using size to change HD type as it does in newer games.

Size HD Type Space Examples
Tiny d4 2½ by 2 ½ ft. Imp, sprite
Small d6 5 by 5 ft. Giant rat, goblin
Medium d8 5 by 5 ft. Orc, werewolf
Large d10 10 by 10 ft. Hippogriff, ogre
Huge d12 15 by 15 ft. Fire giant, treant
Gargantuan d20 20 by 20 ft. or larger Kraken, purple worm

Save: Monster 4

Most often monsters save as monsters, but sometimes a class might be used for special cases.

Morale: 12

I really enjoy Basic era style morale.

Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP:

These two are trickier since they rely a lot more on the game they are emulating AND the specific rules.  For the book I might create my own Treasure Type but I am also considering just going with the LL Horde Class and repeating the table in an appendix.

XP will really vary from system to system.  I have a Google Sheet that calculates for different games based on HD, special abilities, and the like.

Here is the output for the Cù Sìth for various games.

Base+hp*/ SA1**/ SA2***/SA3Total
Basic75123070187
Advanced75783070253
LL802405555430
BF24004040320
OSRIC75783070253
SW1200120120360
SS4010420300194
OSE755050175
289mean
253median
253mode

Not at all the same is it.

I might forgo putting in XP and letting Game Masters calculate it themselves based on their game of choice.  Mind you there might even be some error in my sheet above.  I built it years ago and have added to it but I have not back-checked my math in a while.

How often do you all use the XP line?

So I have ways to go just yet.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Horror of the Hodag for NightShift and more!

Been wanting to do this beastie for a while!



The Hodag

In the wilds of Wisconsin there lives, or rather lived, the fiercest to ever run on stubby little legs.  The Hodag.  This monster has a wide face full of razor-sharp fangs. Its head is topped with a pair of horns and spikes running down it's back.  It's four legs are short (and it has no knees) and also end in razor-tipped claws.  It is fierce, vicious, and mean-spirited.

The hodag is seven feet long and about two-and-half feet tall. It is almost supernaturally strong, but are not fast runners.  They have to sleep leaning against a tree since it has no knees and their own spikes would impale them if they were to lie down. Because of this, they can't be surprised. This also might explain why they are so cranky.

Hodags are believed to have died out due to a lack of their primary food source, pure white bulldogs.

Hodag (NightShift)
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 4
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 6
Special: 4 attacks (2 claws, bite, 1 tail spike), can't be surprised
XP VALUE: 150


Hodag (Old-School Essentials)
Armor Class 4 [16]
Hit Dice 6 (27 hp)
Attacks [2 × claw (1d6), 1 × bite (2d6)] or 1 × tail spike (1d6) or 2 x horn gore (1d4+1)
THAC0 14 [+5]
Movement Rate 90' (30')
Saves D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (6)
Morale 11
Alignment Chaotic
XP for Defeating 500
Number Appearing 1 (1)
Treasure Type None

  • Horns. The hodag can rush an opponent to attack.  The horns are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Nasty Mood. Hodags are always in a foul mood. They can't be charmed nor subdued. They always attack.
  • Tooth and nail. The preferred attack of a hodag. Razor-sharp claws and fangs.


Hodag (shadow creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
3 Accuracy (Claws)
1 Communication
3 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Fangs)
-1 Intelligence
2 Perception (Smell)
3 Strength
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 40
Defense 14
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Claws +3 1d6+1
Fangs +2 1d6+2
Horns +1 1d6

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack

Threat: Moderate


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Monstrous Mondays: How Much for a Book?

I had a Monstrous Monday planned for today but in the process of going through my monsters to make sure I hadn't already done it (spoiler: I hadn't, expect to see a Hodag soon!) I began to notice a couple of things.

1. I have been doing Monstrous Mondays for a while now.
2. I have a ton of monsters.

I went back through all my data and found I have done 230 monsters for my witch books.  About 80 for Monstrous Mondays and another 75 or so in just A to Z posts.

Counting for duplicates and overlaps that gives me over 300 monsters.

That's more than the Monster Manual had.

It got me thinking. Would a new monster book be fun to do?



Well, the answer is yes, it would be fun. I have enough monsters for sure.  They all have a general "theme" of witches, demons, undead, and the occult.  So that is something.

The biggest issues are:

1. Art. Art is not cheap and I would like to have as much as possible.  The biggest cost of the book will be this.

2. System. As of now I have written monsters for Basic-era (at least four different clones), S&W, AD&D, Unisystem, AGE, Ubiquity, and D&D5 with a smattering of others.  What system would be best to use?  AD&D/OSRIC gives me more detail, Basic/LL & S&W gives me the most audience. D&D5 gives me a little of both, but the art requirements are much higher.

3. New content. This is a big one for me really.  Despite the fact that there are over 300 monsters, all of them have appeared in one of my books or blog already. While an individual may find something they have not seen before, anyone who has purchased a book from me will see something they have already seen.

Granted, this is the exact same thing as the Fiend Folio with content from the Fiend Factory and most of the Tome of Horrors books are filled with monsters we have all already seen. In fact there is a group of demons I have taken to calling "The Usual Suspects" because they are in every book of demons there is.  I have even gone as far as to look into commissioning some art with them all in a police lineup.

Even Monsters of Mayhem #1, a book I rather enjoy, is made up completely of monsters from all the adventures from Dark wizard Games.

Obviously, I could do this as a book and sell it anyway. The enjoyment would be for me to have my very own book of monsters.  If other people enjoy it, then fantastic!
BUT that assumes that I either have all the art I need and any I need to buy will be cheap. 
I like my witch books to make a profit (so I can buy more books!) and just breaking even is not a good business strategy.

Under any circumstance, I would HAVE to include new, never before seen monsters.

Now just figure out which ones make the cut and where some gaps might be.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Magiphagous Rust Monster

Rust Monsters are a great threat to low-level characters.  Nothing scares a group of fighters as much as a rust monster.  Orcs, kobolds, goblins, even trolls can be dealt with when you know what is going on.  But a rust monster never fails to put fear into most players.  Just not for the reasons the other monsters do.

Plus I have to admit I have always loved these weird little dudes. Especially after I learned of their true origins!

So here is a version of the rust Monster my oldest is using in his games.  Helps keep the fear of these guys alive, even when characters have gone up a level. Maybe even more so that they have gone up in levels.


Rust Monster, Magiphagous

Appearing as a paler and larger version of the rust monster, these creatures are otherwise exactly the same as rust monsters, save for one detail.   These creatures only eat magical metals.

Rust Monster, Magiphagous  (Old-School Essentials)
Magical, armadillo-like creatures with long tails and two long, antennae-like feelers. Feed on the remains of magical metals.
AC 2 [17], HD 7 (31hp), Att 1 × feeler (rusting), THAC0 13 [+6], MV 120’ (40’), SV D11 W12 P13 B14 S15 (5), ML 9, AL Neutral, XP 175, NA 1d4 (1d4), TT None

  • Rusting: Magical metal that touches a rust monster (e.g. weapons that hit it, or armour struck by a feeler) crumbles instantly to rust.  Each time a magic item is affected, it loses one “plus”.  Each item gets a base saving throw of 13, plus any "pluses" the magical item has.
  • Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
  • Smell metal: Attracted by the scent of magical metals such as weapons, armors and artifacts.


Rust Monster, Magiphagous (Fantasy Age and Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (antennae)
–3 Communication
2 Constitution
1 Dexterity
2 Fighting (Claws)
–3 Intelligence
1 Perception (Smelling)
2 Strength
1 Willpower

Speed 14
Health 20
Defense 12
Armor Rating 4

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antennae +4 1d6+2

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Knock Prone

Eat Magic: The Magiphagous Rust Monster eats magic from metal magical items leaving behind useless rust.

Threat: Minor


and for 5e D&D



Rust Monster, Magiphagous

Large monstrosity (magical), unaligned

Armor Class

 
15 (natural armor)

Hit Points

 
52 (7d10 + 14)

Speed

 
40 ft.

STR

14 (+2)
 

DEX

12 (+1)
 

CON

14 (+2)
 

INT

2 (-4)
 

WIS

13 (+1)
 

CHA

6 (-2)

Senses

 
darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages

 

Challenge

 
1 (200 XP)

Magic Scent.

 The rust monster can pinpoint, by scent, the location of magical metal within 30 feet of it.

Rust Metal.

 Any magical weapon made of metal that hits the rust monster corrodes. After dealing damage, the weapon takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to damage rolls. If its penalty drops to -5, the weapon is destroyed. Magical ammunition made of metal that hits the rust monster is destroyed after dealing damage.

Actions

Bite.

 Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.

Antennae.

 The rust monster corrodes a magical ferrous metal object it can see within 5 feet of it. If the object isn't being worn or carried, the touch destroys a 1-foot cube of it. If the object is being worn or carried by a creature, the creature can make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw to avoid the rust monster's touch. Bonuses to save per plus of the item's enchantment.
If the object touched is either metal armor or a metal shield being worn or carried, it takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to the AC it offers. Armor reduced to an AC of 10 or a shield that drops to a +0 bonus is destroyed. If the object touched is a held metal weapon, it rusts as described in the Rust Metal trait.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Monstrous Monday: The Jackalope

There are few creatures that say "Americana" than the Jackalope.  Created from the same tall tales that gave up Paul Bunyan, Captain Stormalong, Piasa Bird and the Hodag. Stories I enjoyed as a kid.

The Jackalope, of course, has had the "advantage" of taxidermy where several stuffed Jackalopes can be purchased across the US.  I have lost track of the number of truck stops, gas stations or diners I have stopped in from California to New York that had at least one stuffed Jackalope for sale.  Though I admit I have never had the desire to own one.

Though having a Jackalope in my games?  Yeah, that is doable.

Jackalope
These creatures seem to be a magical crossbreed of a large rabbit and either a deer or antelope.  The jackalope is a large creature, larger than a rabbit, about the size of a large dog.  Its head comes up to about 2-3 feet, with its antlers adding another 12-18 inches.  Some are smaller but rarely larger.
The jackalope is an intelligent creature, capable of speech and is even known to sing.  It is fond of singing in the evening just as the stars are coming out.
When relaxed the jackalope is a cordial creature and good company. It will even share stories of other magical animals it has met in its life.
When hunted, the jackalope is a fierce opponent.  He will run towards hunters to attack with its antlers. The jackalope is also very fast and can outrun most opponents.


Jackalope (Old-School Essentials)
A large jack-rabbit like creature with antlers and intelligent eyes.
Armor Class 2
Hit Dice 3 (13)
Attacks 1 antlers (1d6+2)
THAC0 17 (+2)
Movement Rate 120' (40')
Saves D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (3)
Morale 10
Alignment Neutral
XP for Defeating 50
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type none (Jackalopes have no need for treasure)
  • Antlers. The jackalope can rush an opponent to attack.  The antlers are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Fast. Jackalopes are very fast when escaping they can double their speed once per day.
  • Speaking. Jackalopes can speak and sing.

Jackalope (Rhy-creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (Antlers)
3 Communication (Performance)
2 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Antlers)
2 Intelligence
2 Perception (Hearing)
1 Strength (Jumping)
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 30
Defense 12
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antlers +3 1d6+1

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack
Arcana: Calm, Illusion, Psychic Contact

Threat: Moderate

Jackalopes could be considered Rhy-Rabbits if there were such a thing, but they are a unique sort of creature. All Jackalopes are Rhydan. In this respect, they are more like unicorns or griffins, though some would contend as more humble and even "rustic".
Jackalope rhydan love nothing more than to hop through the land, sing and tell stories.  All jackalopes are natural storytellers.  Not for epics involving dragons and great queens or kings, but simple tales like the luck of widow's sons, or small clever creatures that most heroes would ignore.


Of course, the best Jackalopes sound like Bud Luckey from Boundin'.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Pseudo Dragons for OSE

Back in my AD&D days, a pseudo-dragon was the familiar of choice for any of my wizard characters.  They seem to be less desired in the post-3e years which is too bad since they are much more interesting than other types.

Pseudo Dragons
Pseudo dragons are a variety of dragons related to both dragons and wyverns, and some claim other stranger admixtures.  They are small, intelligent creatures, capable of speech and casting spells.


Three types of pseudo dragons are detailed below.

Dragons gain hp per age category.

Age Level Hit Points Age Category
1 1-2 Very young
2 3-4 Young
3 5-6 Sub-adult
4 7-8 Young adult
5 9-10 Adult
6 11-12 Old
7 13-14 Very old
8 15-16 Ancient

Pseudo Dragons
Small, wyvern-like dragon with a scorpion's stinger on his tail.
Armor Class 2
Hit Dice 2 (hp see above)
Attacks 1 bite (1d3), Poison sting, and Spell use
THAC0 18 (+2)
Movement Rate 60' (20'), Flying: 240' (80')
Saves D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (2)
Morale 10
Alignment Neutral (good)
XP for Defeating 35
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type L (x10)

  • Bite. The pseudo dragon can bite with its dragon-like jaws. 
  • Tail-sting. A pseudo dragon can sting with its tail.  Save vs. poison or fall into a coma-like state for 1d6+1 days.
  • Chameleon ability. Can hide in normal surroundings with 80% chance.
  • Spell-like ability. Can cast spells as a 2nd level Magic-user.

Faerie Dragons
A small dragon with butterfly wings and a wide mischievous grin. Offshoots of the pseudo dragon found in lands of the faerie and other fey creatures.
Armor Class 5
Hit Dice 5 (hp see above)
Attacks 1 bite (1d3), Breath weapon, and Spell use
THAC0 15 (+5)
Movement Rate 60' (20'), Flying: 240' (80')
Saves SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (5)
Morale 12
Alignment Neutral (good)
XP for Defeating 300
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type J, K, L
  • Bite. The faerie dragon can bite with its dragon-like jaws. 
  • Breath Weapon. A 2' cloud. Save vs. Breath Weapon or be affected by a sleep spell.
  • Invisibility at will.
  • Spell-like ability. Cast spells as a 5th level Magic-user.
Hell Drake
A small dragon with wings surrounded in flames.
Armor Class 4
Hit Dice 3 (hp see above)
Attacks 1 bite (1d4), Breath weapon, and Spell use
THAC0 16 (+4)
Movement Rate 60' (20'), Flying: 240' (80')
Saves SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4)
Morale 10
Alignment Chaotic
XP for Defeating 250
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type J, K, L
  • Bite. The hell drake can bite with its dragon-like jaws. 
  • Breath Weapon. A 2' cone of flame. Save vs. Breath Weapon.
  • Spell-like ability. Cast spells as a 4th level Magic-user.

Pseudo Dragons as Familiars
Witches, warlocks and magic-users can have a pseudo dragon as familiars.  Pseudo dragons can communicate telepathically with their master. They also can communicate with all types of dragon creatures.  So the master gains the ability to speak, read and write draconic, the language of dragons.
They gain a +2 to all saves vs. Dragon Breath (but not non-draconic breath weapons).
Additionally the familiar gives the master the ability to cast 2 first-level magic-user spells and 1 second-level magic-user spell.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: More Monster Book Reviews

Been kinda busy the last few days.  Today is my last day of vacation, so back to work tomorrow. We set up a pro Role20 account this past week and we are going to try that out.  Maybe I'll even run a game or two online.

I went looking for a monster today for something I am working on.  About a couple hours into my search of PDFs it dawned on me.  I have a lot of monster books.  I mean an obscene amount.
One of the problems I run into is not finding a monster but finding the monster and 4 or 5 different versions.


These books are my big "go-to" books for monsters.  Even though they have significant overlap each one offers me something new and fun.

Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
PDF and Hardcover, 457 pages. B&W Interior.
If you ever only buy ONE product from BRW and the Adventures Dark & Deep line then make sure it is this one.
I love monster books. I have said so many, many times. But I also hold them to a high standard.  While I Will gladly buy any monster book, few get my high praise.  Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary is one of those few.
Let be honest upfront.  We have seen most if not all the monsters in this book somewhere else before.
Most are in the SRD or from other Open sources. The new ones are great, but they are ideas we have seen.
And none of that matters.  This is still a great book.
At 457 pages (pdf) it is a beast. Monsters are alphabetically listed by areas you would find them in.  So Wilderness and Dungeon is by far the bulk of them, but there are also Waterborne (fitting in with the rules) and "Outsiders" or monsters from the other planes.  But I am getting ahead of myself.
The book begins with two monster spell casters, the Shaman and the Witch Doctor.  Shades of similar classes from the BECMI RC to be sure. But they work here great and frankly I know someone will want to use these rules to play a Shaman one day.  Heck I once tried a Wemic Shaman in early 2e days myself.  Maybe I'll see if I can do that here.  The classes are not detailed and they don't need to be. The do what they need to do.
The Monster descriptions are a bit like those found in OSRIC though there are some interesting additions.
Each Monster has a Morale, like that found in Basic and 2nd ed, though it is not a score but an adjustment.  Attacks are listed in the stat block, though they are the attack types. This is most similar to "Special Attacks" in other rules.  Also wholly new are "Weaknesses" which is an interesting idea and one I think other OSR publishers should adopt.  Each monster then gets a couple of paragraphs of text.  Many are illustrated thanks to the highly successful Kickstarter for this (more on that later).  The illustrations are great too as you can see here.
All the monsters have General, Combat and Appearance sections in their write-ups.
Unlike 2e (and 4e) monsters are not confined to one-page entries.  Some have paragraphs, others just a few lines.  This is good since I think we would have something like 1000+ pages.  I think I read there are 1100 monsters in this book. Maybe 900.  Anyway it's a lot.  I spot checked a few monsters I thought might not be there, but sure enough they were.  Ok so the ones that are Closed via the OGL are not here, but I was not expecting those.  There are some alternates and stand ins if you really, really need them though.
The book sections are:
Wilderness and Dungeon, aka Most of the Monsters
Underwater and Waterborne, larger than expected, but not surprised given the material in the core books.
Prehistoric Monsters, always nice to have; Dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals.
Extra Planar Monsters, your Outsiders.
Appendix A details creating your own monsters.
Appendix B has something I didn't even realize was missing till I started reading the stats; a basic psionic system for psychic strikes.
Appendix C covers random creatures from the Lower Planes.  This is the first "Gygaxian" touch I have noticed in this book.  Reminds me of a really old Dragon magazine article from years ago..
Appendix D is magic resistance table
and Appendix E covers the abilities of Gods.
All of this in a PDF for just under $15.
I have mentioned before that Joe gets his work done and gets it done fast. Well this is not only no exception but it is the new benchmark.  Joe ended his kickstarter and then got printed books out to people 6 months early.  Let that sink in for a moment.  In a hobby where we tolerate (although not quietly) Kickstarters with delays of 18 months, Joe and BRW are out there, turning out product and getting it to people early.
You should buy a copy of this book on that principle alone.
So should you get this book?
If you like monsters then yes.  If you need monsters for your oldschool game then yes.  If you want to support Joe and the Adventures Dark & Deep system then yes. If you want to reward good Kickstarter behavior then absolutely yes.

Lots of good reasons to get in my book.  It is also the best book in his line. Kudos to Joseph Bloch.

Amazing Adventures! Manual of Monsters
PDF and Hardcover, 95 Pages. B&W interior art.
The Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters manages to give me monsters I have seen before, but with a whole new take. I mean a mummy is a mummy right? Well...your old monster book won't tell you how it reacts when you fire your .38 into it. But beyond that, this book also has a lot of new monsters. Enough to make it worthwhile in my opinion.
Also as an added bonus feature is an appendix of monsters from different countries. So fight that Kelpie on its native soil. Or tangle with the machinations of the Greys.
If you play Amazing Adventures or Castles & Crusades then you need this book.

Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure
PDF and Hardcover 178 Pages. B&W interior art.
This is the main monster and treasure book for C&C. Here you will find what I call the "classic" monsters from the great Monster Manual. If you are familiar with 3.x then these are all the monsters from the SRD in C&C's format. There is plenty of new text here though to make this more than just another SRD-derived book. Like all the C&C books the art and layout is great. I have the physical book, the pdf and a printout of the PDF and all read great.
The Castles & Crusades Monster stat block is a nice combination of Basic's simplicity, 1st AD&D's comprehensiveness, and some 3.x style rules. Saves are simple (Physical, Mental or both), AC is ascending and there is a "Challenge Rating" stat and XP all factored in. Honestly, it really is a synthesis of the best of D&D. Grabbing a monster from another source and converting it on the fly really could not be easier.
This book though is more than just a monster book, all the treasure and magic items (normally found in a Game Master's book) are here. This is a nice feature really. One place to have your encounter information.
This really is a must-have book for any C&C fan. 178 pages and full of everything you need.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities
PDF 544 Pages. B&W interior art.
Some of these monsters we have seen before either in the SRD or other books.  That though does not detract from its value as this is a 540+ page book. In addition to all that there are some new monsters.  The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre-1980) covers.
There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, descriptions and a plot hook.  While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art.  Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new.  Actually, the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art.
Honestly, there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top-notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have.
I am even going as far as to say it is a must-have for any serious S&W GM.

Tome of Horrors Complete (S&W)
PDF 688 Pages. B&W interior art.
What can be said about this product? The original Tomes of Horrors were all great products that featured and number of "old school" monsters from previous editions of the game all under the OGL. It even had a breif "tutorial" on how to add these beasties to your own products. Now those very same monsters are back in one huge book "updated" to Swords & Wizardry stats. Nearly 700 monsters, all ready for your game. In addition to art and stat blocks for every monster there is also an adventure hook for each one. The monsters have been "scaled down" to fit the S&W rules better. One minor nit-pick. The original art is used (which I am happy about) but in their efforts to redo the layout sometimes that art is reduced in size (making it hard to see) and other times the art is placed over some text. Not often mind you and not enough for me to downgrade this product.
Now what I would like to have is one "Ultimate Tome of Horrors" that has the Pathfinder and S&W stats together with the plot hooks.

I have a few more I like.  I'll have to post about them the next time I run out of monster ideas!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sand Ghoul

We are on vacation this week.  Were supposed to drive down to see my wife's sister, but instead we are holed up here.  So I am starting my mini-campaign of "The Deserts of Desolation & Death" today.

Going through my books last night I figured I needed something new.  Everyone has seen all the old monsters.  Plus I wanted to up the feeling of necromantic dread.  So this guy popped into my head.

Besides. I like undead beasties.

So here it is for 5e D&D (what I am playing today).

Sand Ghoul
The Ghoul by Les Edwards
Sand Ghouls are formed when naturally occurring mummies in the desert are possessed with demonic or necromantic power.  They are stronger and faster than normal ghouls.  The drying process also robs them of their stench.
Elves are immune to the Paralyzing touch of the Sand Ghoul.  Desert Orcs living in a combined Desert Elven / Desert Orc community are also immune.

Medium undead (Desert), chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 31 (7d8)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 14 (+2)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 10 (+0)
INT 10 (+0)
WIS 9 (-1)
CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Str +4, Dex +5
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +1, Survival +3
Damage Vulnerabilities fire, radiant
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the sand ghoul to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the sand ghoul drops to 1 hit point instead.

Keen Sight and Smell. The sand ghoul has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell.

Actions
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage. If the target is a creature other than an elf or undead, it must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Stat block Generator: https://tetra-cube.com/dnd/dnd-statblock.html



Monday, March 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Bodhmal and Liath Luchara for OSE and the Pagan Witch

Not monsters really, but NPCs from my upcoming The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition.  Bodhmal is a Bándrui witch, Liath is her Cowan, or witch's companion or champion. A cowan is a non-witch class that has the ability to learn some witch magics. I detail the benefits of a cowan in the new book.

Bodhmal
Female Witch 7th level, Pagan Tradition (Bándrui)
Armor Class 8 [11]
Hit Dice/Level 7+ 7 (25 hp)
Attacks 1 × weapon
THAC0 18 [+2]
Movement Rate 90’ (30’)
Saves D8 W9 P9 B12 S11 (Witch 7, Bracers +2)
Morale 10
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 1,250
Number Appearing Unique
Treasure Type P (J)

Str 10 Int 14 Wis 14 Dex 10 Con 14 Cha 18

Bodhmal has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.
She casts as a 7th level witch.

Occult Powers
Familiar: Wolf
7th level: Shape Change

Spells by Level
1st (3): Cure Light Wounds, Empathic Senses, Ceremony
2nd (2): Animal Messenger, Pins and Needles
3rd (2): Call Lightning, Scry
4th (1): Polymorph

Magic Items
Bracers of Protection +2

Bodhmal’s father was a druid but she chose the path of the Bándrui.  She is the foster mother to Fionn MacCumhail and also his aunt. Fionn is her sister’s son.  She has been bonded to Liath, the Grey warrior, as Cowan for many years.

'Sí mo laoch mo ghile mear
'Sí mo Scáthach, gile mear
Suan gan séan ní bhfuair mé féin
Ó chuaigh I gcéin mo ghile mear


Liath Luchara
Female Ranger 8th level (Cowan)
Armor Class 5 [14] +2
Hit Dice/Level 8 + 16 (52 hp)
Attacks 1 × weapon (1d8) 
THAC0 18 [+2]
Movement Rate 90’ (30’)
Saves D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (Ranger 8)
Morale 12
Alignment Lawful
XP for Defeating 1,750
Number Appearing Unique
Treasure Type None

Str 13 Int 12 Wis 14 Dex 16 Con 16 Cha 12

Ranger Abilities
Tracking: 90%

Spells by level
Druid, 1st (1): Animal friendship
Witch, 0 (3): Ensure a Successful Hunt, Merry Greetings, Summon a Witch

Items
Long Sword, Witchlight +2
Leather Armor
Spear, Gáe Assail

Liath Luchara, the Grey Warrior, has been defending her clan since she was old enough to hold a spear.  She has joined with Bodhmal as Cowan to help protect the babe Fionn MacCumhail, who she has started calling “Deimne” because of his fair hair.

Special shout out to Brian O'Sullivan who has also written a lot about Liath and Bodhmal. These stats are based more on the versions I have used over the years, but his characters are great too.  Pick up his books if you want to read more.

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition out tomorrow!

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