Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts

Friday, September 18, 2020

One Man's God: Melnibonéan Mythos

Elric by Jeff Dee

Getting back to the mythos in the Deities and Demigods proper I want to take a look at one filled with demons, elementals and other creatures of the multiverse.  The Melnibonéan Mythos of Michael Moorcock.

The Melnibonéan Mythos is one of the two expunged mythoi from the D&DG, the other being the more popular Cthulhu Mythos.  I talked about those myths and some of the controversy around them in a previous installment of One Man's God.  I'll also talk a little more about that at the end, but first, Gods and Demons.

Elric of Melniboné was my gateway to Cthulhu.  I had done all the high fantasy that was popular in the 80s and Tolkien in particular.  But I was looking for something a little darker, something that also appealed to my same frame of mind that loved horror films.  Elric then was the logical next step.

Maybe as much as Tolkien, the works of Michael Moorcock laid down the foundation that was going to be the lens of D&D.  The alignment system, the multiverse, champions of Law and Chaos, all these things came to D&D via Moorcock.  Though in truth for this piece I could also just say Elric since these are the mythos we are discussing today.


Melniboné and Demons

The tales of Elric and Melniboné are overrun with creatures called demons. Everyone from Arioch on down is referred too as a demon in fact.  Elric's own ancestor, Terhali, also known as the Green Empress, ruled Melniboné for 605 years a thousand years before Elric. Her long life was attributed to her mother, who was a demon.  Other creatures in the books are also called demons. Arioch himself appears in many Medieval grimoires as a demon and in Milton's Paradise Lost, Book VI, Line 371.

Whether or not these meet the AD&D Monster Manual criteria for a demon is to be decided.  Let's explore some other details first.

Law & Chaos, Good & Evil

The battles in Elric's world(s) are not just of Good vs. Evil but of Law vs. Chaos. Chaos is shown to be a destructive, and often evil force.  Elric and his kin are all dedicated to the Lords of Chaos and have pacts with many of these lords.  So the "alignment" system of Elric's world view is the same as that as D&D really.  It's where we get it in fact.  So this does free up one issue; creatures described here as being Chaotic Evil are likely appropriately described in their own world and an AD&D one.  We are not going to run into issues here of Chaotic Evil creatures that also protect mothers like in the Aztec myths for example.

Lords of Hell and Demons

The Elric saga takes a "multiple hells" view on the cosmos.  There is more than one hell and they ruled over by Lords of Chaos.  Some of these Lords are also explicitly demons. They are called such in the text.  In many ways, One Man's God and my own games have evolved to be more like this point of view. 

Demons vs. Elemental Lords

There are many creatures of power in the Elric tales (and Moorcock's books as a whole). Some are explicitly demons. Others though are classified as Elemental Lords. These creatures do not see to differ very much the Princes of Elemental Evil first seen in the Fiend Folio.  In the 4e cosmology they would be called Primordials and the Titans and Giants are their offspring.  This also fits in well with the mythology Gary was building in the GDQ series.  So there are at least some relationships between these Elemental Lords and the Demons.  But that is for another day.  Though all of this leads me to two conclusions:

  1. Many demons/creatures/lords of the Elric saga are very much like the demons of AD&D. Or maybe it is the other way around.
  2. Elric might be listed as a "Magic-user 19th level" and "Cleric 10th level" but what he really is, using the current term, is a Warlock.  In fact he might be the exemplar from which we draw from.

But more on that later.

Elemental Lords & Animal Lords

Before I get to the Demons, let's look at the various Elemental Lords Elric has pacts with or is able to summon. We can compare them to other examples in other AD&D works.

In the Melnibonéan Mythos, we have Darnizhaan (NE, Earth), Grome (N, Earth), Kakatal (CN, Fire), Misha (N, Air), and Straasha (N, Water).  Generally speaking, these creatures are more powerful than the Princes of Elemental Evil found in the Fiend Folio. Which would track if these are the "Kings" and the others are just "Princes."

Elemental Lords are not the only creatures Elric encounters. There are also the various Animal Lords, or Master Types.  These are almost taken verbatim for the Monster Manual II Cat Lord and in the later editions of AD&D/D&D.  Among the Animal Lords are Fileet (Lady of Birds), Haaashastaak (Lord of Lizards), Meerclar (Lady of Cats), Nnuuurrr'c'c (Lord of the Insect Swarm), Nuru-ah (Lord of Cattle), and Roofdrak (Lord of Dogs).  Back in the 80s we treated Meeclar as the Cat Lord before the "current" Cat Lord and Bast as the one before Meeclar.  Gary would go on to support our claim in the 90s when he made Gord the new Cat Lord.  all of this fit into our worlds very nicely.

The Demons

Let's get to the demons.  There are lot of creatures in these myths are weird and Chaotic Evil.  BUT, does that make them an AD&D demon?  Well, some fit perfectly, others, we might need to file off some of the edges to make them fit.

Arioch (and Xiombarg)

Let's address the Chaos Lord in the room.  Arioch.  In the books he is Elric's patron.  I believe he is even described as a Patron Demon.  He often referred to a Lord of Hell, a Lord of Chaos and it is said he is worshipped as a god in many worlds.  But is he a god? He is certainly very powerful. On the side of a God is the fact that he can have many avatars on multiple worlds (though in D&D 3 and beyond this would be called an Aspect), on the side of Demon is the fact that he can be summoned, sometimes even against his will. It is possible that Arioch (Knight of Swords), as well as Xiombarg (Queen of Swords) and Mabelode (King of Swords, and not in the D&DG) are Demons, they are just very, very powerful ones on the level of the Arch Dukes of Hell.  

I am inclined to make them powerful Demon Lords/Princes.  Their power is such that would disrupt the hierarchy of Hell (the AD&D Hell), but in the Abyss they can plot and scheme all the like.  Again they have never been described as anything but Chaotic Evil.  I would also argue that their stats in the D&DG might be a touch high. Elric did kill Arioch in the end.

Assassinator of the Gods

Back in the AD&D days we always combined this creature with Ma Yuan of the Chinese Mythos. Though they were not exactly the same.  In this case, I am inclined to make this a completely unique creature. 

Clakar

Chaotic Evil winged apes that can be used as guards.  A bit like a summoned demon, but nothing about them screams demon to me.

Elenoin & Grahluk

These two are in a perpetual race war against each other. Not demons. I always thought of them as the female and male of the same species in a division that has gone very, very wrong.  I say every few years both races have a "pon farr" like time where both are compelled to mate.  While both can be summoned I took this more as they were responding to some other pact made. So they are not demons, but likely commanded or ruled by demons.

Kelmain

Humanoids from Limbo.

Mist Giant

More of a monster than a demon.

Mordagz

Now here is an interesting character. A former Lord of Chaos, he has been "demoted" to a Storm Giant. He could qualify as the classical definition of a demon; a former god reduced in power and status.  His alignment though is Chaotic Neutral.

Pyaray

Now this guy. Lord of the Ocean Abysses. Looks like a demon. Commands a flotilla of sunken ships manned by undead sailors. his soul is stored in the blue crystal on his head like a demon amulet.  Yeah, this one fits the demon description rather well.  His 250 hp makes him a bit more powerful than Demogorgon, but otherwise he is a good fit. We also know that Pyaray and Straasha are bitter enemies. so if Straasha is an Elemental Lord, we can have Pyaray be a Demon Lord.

Quaolnargn

Ok. This one is explicitly called a "demon from the Abyss."

There are more creatures in the tales, but these are what appear in the D&DG.

Elric as a Warlock

The big surprise here is not that there are demons and elementals in this mythos, but that Elric might be better represented as a warlock rather than a wizard, or as he is described in the book, a sorcerer.  We see Elric using magic, but mostly we see him summoning creatures to do his bidding. We rarely see him use the sorts of magics that one might expect of a 19th level magic-user/10th level llusionist/10th level cleric/5th level druid. However, all this magic can be used by a warlock. 

I did a quick build with Elic for the 5th Edition warlock. I made him a tiefling to cover his demonic ancestry and it worked out well.  But a better choice might be a Demonic Pact Warlock using some old-school rules.


My Warlock book for Swords & Wizardry would be a good fit here since I also re-classified the various demons to work with multiple "hells" and planes.

Elric of Melniboné

19th level Warlock, Demonic Pact (Melnibonéan)
Tiefling Male 

Strength: 6
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 17
Constituiton: 3
Charisma: 20

Invocations: Arcane Blast, Agonizing Blast, Arcane Mastery*, Arcane Mastery (Greater)**, Arcane Mastery (Superior)***, Beast Speech, Eldritch Sight, Minions of Chaos, Pact Blade, Thirsting Blade

Spells:
1st: Black Fire, Charm Person, Command, Detect Magic, Mage Armor, Obedient Beast, Spirit Servant
2nd: Agony, Burning Gaze, Cause Light Wounds, Clothes of the Emperor, Grasp of the Endless War, Magic Circle Aganist Spirits, Share my Pain
3rd: Astral Sense, Circle of Respite, Clairsentience, Fiend's Shield, Lifesteal, Summon Winged Steed
4th: Arcane Eye, Call Imp, Divine Power, Fear, Spell storing
5th: Blade Dance, Conjuration of Elementals, Extend Spell (Greater), Song of the Night, Ward of Magic

*6th: Invisible Stalker
**7th: Conjuration of Demons
***8th: Symbol

I rather like this. 

And Arioch would fit rather well in my Warlock book too.


And finally,

The "True" Story of the Melnibonéan and Cthulhu Mythos in the D&DG?

Up first an article from DM David.

https://dmdavid.com/tag/the-true-story-of-the-cthulhu-and-elric-sections-removed-from-deities-demigods/

And a video from Seth Skorkowsky on "The Notorious Deities and Demigods (Ft. Sandy Petersen)"

Both are worth the time to go over.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin for Basic-era games

ePic Character Generator

Back in the 3.5 days there was this contest, the D&D Creature Competition. It was a fun little romp of pitting monster vs. monster in a bracket-style competition where people voted.  There were such mainstays as the Tarrasque, Meepo the Kobold, and a gelatinous cube, and some odd ones like a half gold dragon/half pixie, a warforged ninja, and Half-Amethyst Dragon/Iridescent Naga.  But the strangest one, and the one that eventually won was Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin.

Eludecia got a featured write-up and even an adventure centered around her, Legend of the Silver Skeleton.  I always thought the character was a really interesting one.  She is seeking redemption at a level that honestly staggers the mind. She has suffered (imprisoned inside a gelatinous cube to burn the entire time) and yet she is still trying to be better. She is a character I could see working quite well in D&D 5th edition.  But what about Basic-era D&D?  

Basic D&D: B/X or BECMI?

Lately, I have been playing an unholy hybrid of D&D B/X and BECMI and OSR.  It might not work for others, but for me it has been fantastic.

So I try to aim at a 1st to 14th level range, this allows me not to have to choose between B/X and BECMI level play.  I add in BECMI details when things get higher in level.  Thankfully for me, there are plenty of examples of Eludecia at levels 8th, 14th, and 18th level.  Once you figure her 6HD of Succubus this makes her 2nd, 8th, and 12th level Paladin.  That keeps her within the bounds of my B/X sweet spot.

In this version of Eludecia has been roaming the multiverse, seeking quests not to prove her worthiness, but to test it.  She has a shape-change ability, but she keeps her succubus features in the open so that everyone knows what she is.  To her, it is far more important to be truthful in her dealings with all mortals than to pass herself off as human.  She carries a holy sword, even though its touch hurts her. 

For her Basic build, I am going to start with the Succubus as presented in Eldritch Wizardry. Then I am going to add the Paladin class on top of that.  For the Paladin, there are a lot of choices including the BECMI Paladin in the Companion Rules or the OSE Paladin.  I think in the end I'll use the OSE Paladin and add in the BECMI material as needed.


The Eldritch Wizardry Succubus has the following features.

Succubi prefer to act alone and Eludecia is no different. In her case though it is because she knows her journey is a solo one. Only she can earn her redemption. Plus she knows she is a target by the forces of Evil and sometimes Good alike. She does not wish to put others in harm. She still has all her succubus powers; causing darkness, drain life, become ethereal, charm person, ESP, clairaudience, shape change, and gate.  She considers these powers to be tainted and will never use them, even to save her own life.  Her Gate ability will not work even if she tried, no demon will answer her summons. She does know this. She can't control her 70% magic resistance.

Her base AC is 9, movement is 40 (120), and 60 (180) flight. Her base HD is 6.  

I think for this build I want her a little higher level than her 3.5 days, so here she is now a 14th level Paladin. With her base 6HD this makes her a 20HD/level NPC.

Her base 3.5 stats are a little bit outside the realms of Basic D&D (unless I use some Companion or Immortal Rules).  
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 30

I'll re-scale these to Basic levels.

I also opted to make her blonde as a nod to Sheila Mullen the supposed "model" for the succubus in the AD&D Monster Manual. 

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin

14th level Paladin, Lawful (Lawful Good)

Strength: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 16 (+2 languages)
Wisdom: 14 (+1 on magic-based saves)
Dexterity: 14 (+1)
Constitution: 14 (+1)
Charisma: 20 (likely it is a lot more) (+4)

Saving throws: D 2, W 3, P 4, B 3, S 6.  MR 70%

AC: 0 [19]
HP: 93 (6d8+6, 9d8+9,+10)
THAC0: 10 [+9]

Powers, Succubus: +2 weapons needed to hit, 70% magic resistance (these are powers she can't control)

Powers, Paladin: Divine Spells, Lay on Hands, Undead Turning

Equipment: Plate Armor +2, holy sword +3, holy symbol, normal shield

Spells

1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Protection from Evil

2nd level: Bless, Hold Person

3rd level: Striking



How I Would Use Her

There is so much that could be done with this character. I guess that is why 15 years after she appeared I still find reasons to pull her out for things.

I am getting near the end of my HUGE Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign (more on that later) and presently the characters are stuck in the Abyss.  I think it is entirely possible that they might find her silver bones stuck in the Gelatinous Cube. The PCs could free her and gain an ally.  AND since I now have Basic-era stats for her, I can see her making an appearance in my new campaign, War of the Witch Queens.

Anyone ever use her in your own games?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Wynnona Earp for NIGHT SHIFT

Wynonna Earp is back for Season 4! Largely due to the efforts of the fans, "Earpers",  and so far it has been great.  

So I think giving them the NIGHT SHIFT treatment is in order.

Spoilers up to Season 3.  Images of the characters by HeroForge.

Wynonna Earp
AKA "Nona"
5th Level Chosen One, Human
"I am the girl. With the big-ass gun."

Strength: 15 (+1)
Dexterity: 20 (+4)
Constitution: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 12 (0)
Wisdom: 13 (+1)
Charisma: 15 (+1)

HP: 40 (4d8)
AC: 6
Fate Points: 10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +2   Ranged bonus: +6
Saves: +2 to all saves

Special Abilities/Skills
Brutal Warrior, Killing Blow, Supernatural Attack, Difficult to Surprise, Improved Defense, Ranged Combat, Survivor Skills, Stunning Blow, Melee Combat, Regeneration of HP, 2 bonus Damage Dice, the Earp Heir. 

Equipment
Peacemaker (gun form), whiskey flask.

Wynonna Earp is the great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp and heir to the Earp curse.  She is the one that must rid the Ghost River Triangle of all the revenants, or "demon-adjacent" dead that return to battle with the Earp heir.

Waverly Earp
AKA "Waves", "Baby Girl", "Angel"
3rd Level Survivor / 1st Level Sage, Half-Angel
"Heroes always win."

Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 14 (+1)
Constitution: 17 (+2)
Intelligence: 17 (+2)
Wisdom: 15 (+1)
Charisma: 17 (+1)

HP: 20 (3d4 + 1d6)
AC: 8
Fate Points: 15

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+0
Melee bonus: +2    Ranged bonus: +3
Saves: +3 to Death saves

Special Abilities/Skills
Stealth skills, Danger Sense, Perceptive, Sneak Attack, Read Languages, Suggestion, Lore, Half-angel abilities

Equipment
Shotgun, Earp lore.

Waverly Earp is Wynonna's younger half-sister. She only recently discovered that she is not in fact and Earp, but instead the offspring of Michelle Earp, nee Gibson, and the Angel Julian.  She knows the most about the Earp family and curse.  She is currently engaged to former Sheriff Nicole Haught.

Nicole Haught
AKA "Red", "Sheriff Hot", "Hot Sheriff" 
4th level Veteran, Human
"Did I just hit my head and wake up in patriarchal bullshit land?"

Strength: 16 (+2)
Dexterity: 17 (+2)
Constitution: 16 (+2)
Intelligence: 16 (+2)
Wisdom: 17 (+2)
Charisma: 18 (+3)

HP: 37 (4d8)
AC: 6
Fate Points: 10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+0
Melee bonus: +2  Ranged Bonus: +2
Saves: +2 to all saves

Special Abilities/Skills
Combat Expertise, Increased damage, Supernatural attack, Tracking

Equipment
Shotguns, handguns

Sheriff (formerly) Nicole Haught is the only survivor of an attack of demons lead by Bulshar, the demon responsible for all the demonic activity in the Ghost River Triangle and the town of Purgatory. She is smart and resourceful. She is in love with Waverly Earp and just said yes to Waverly's proposal.

John Henry "Doc" Holiday
AKA "Doc", "Holiday"
5th level Veteran, Vampire
"Careful, Earp. Doing what’s right, even in the face of ridiculous odds … you are beginning to sound like a hero."

Strength: 20 (+4)
Dexterity: 20 (+4)
Constitution: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 13 (+1)
Wisdom: 15 (+1)
Charisma: 16 (+2)

HP: 42 (5d8)
AC: 6
Fate Points: 10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +2   Ranged bonus: +6
Saves: +2 to all saves

Special Abilities/Skills
Combat Expertise, Increased damage, Supernatural attack, Tracking, Vampire abilities

Equipment
Handguns

John Henry "Doc" Holiday was cursed after his friend Wyatt Earp died and had been trapped in a well for 130 years. He was released by Wynonna and they went from being colleagues to friends to lovers. Though with his aging catching up to him Doc went to his ex-wife Kate and became a vampire.

This could be a lot of fun really!

How about a sneak peek at Season 4?

Let's hear that theme song again.


Thursday, July 9, 2020

One Man's God: Basic Demons (BECMI Demons, Part 2)

Last week I cover the topic of Demons in BECMI D&D and Basic Era D&D in general.  I want to expand on that a bit today. Again, this is a bit of a different tone for One Man's God, but it does get at the heart of what OMG is about.

One of Basic D&D's features vs. Advanced D&D is its alignment system of Law vs. Chaos with Neutrality in the middle.  Now a lot of ink and pixels have been spilled over the pros, cons, and everything else about alignment. I am not going to go into that here.  Although I am currently rereading Søren Kierkegaard for the first time since college and he is "still stuck on Abraham," so I wonder if I am going to do a proper talk on demons I might need to go back to the basics and address alignment someday.


So my discussions on demons in BECMI were covered in my Immortals Set Review and One Man's God: The Immortals and Demons of BECMI

Writing so much about witches you can't help but have to read about and write about demons.  The two subjects have been conflated for so long that "witchcraft" and "demonology" are either synonymous in some circles or so tied up together that separating them is difficult. 




Demonic Families and "The Usual Suspects"

Succubus
One of the Usual Suspects. ePic CG
For the "Basic-Era" demons were introduced in the classic D&D (OD&D) Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.  Here we get what I call "The Ususal Suspects" of demons; Type I to Type VI, Succubi, Orcus and Demogorgon.  The same group appears in the AD&D Monster Manual (with some additions and some names) and then again in the D&D Immortals Set under new names again.  The AD&D game introduces Devils as a separate type of fiend.  Though it should be noted that D&D 4 looked over all the fiends and moved some around.  Notably, the Succubus became a type of devil, due to some machinations of Asmodeus in the "Brimstone Angels" novels.  They became an "independent" type of fiend in D&D 5.

Despite all of that, there is a good reason to include Demons (a chaotic evil fiend) into the milieu of D&D and its cosmic struggle of Law vs. Chaos.   Devils?  Let's save them for AD&D.  Besides, the division is artificial at best.

This division became more pronounced in the AD&D 2nd ed era when TSR caved to the Religious Right and pulled demons and devils.  

Tanar-what? Baate-Who?

One of the Unusual suspects, ePic CG
Demons and Devils would return in Planescape with the bowdlerized names of Tanar'ri and Baatezu respectively.  I remember at the time I was very disappointed in TSR for caving to the pressure of what I felt was a fringe group of religious nutjobs.

While I disapprove of why TSR caved, I approve of what became of it. "Demon" became a generic term to describe any evil outsider.  The "Tanar'ri" were now a specific group of Evil Outsiders that also happened to be chaotic and inhabited the Abyss.  They certain features, such as resistance to various magic and other attacks and certain vulnerabilities too. They were a family of creatures related by certain phenotypical descriptors. Now we have different demonic "families" of fiends. Add Yugoloths/Daemons and Demodands to the official rosters.  We don't have to be limited by "demon" or "devil" alone.  
Sometimes the constraints force us to be more creative.

Later in D&D 3rd Editon era we would get the official Obyrith and Loumara families of chaotic evil demons.  In Green Ronin's Armies of the Abyss and then later Paizo's Pathfinder then added Qlippoth, the OGC version of the Obyriths. Mongoose Publishing gave us the Tzaretch family.  Back at the end of 2nd Edition, I made the Lilim family.  In my Eldritch Witchery (use the link to get it at 50% off!) I introduced the Calabim and Shedim families and the Baalseraph, which is sort of like a family.  In my various Warlock books, I also added Eodemons, or dawn demons. My take on the first of the demonic families.

The scholars can then argue who belongs where.

Spend any time reading demonology text you will soon figure out that these "learned scholars" were just pulling things out of thin air. Sure sometimes you see the same names or even some descriptions that are similar, but otherwise, there is no more validity to the Ars Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon than there is to the Monster Manual II when it comes to naming and categorizing demons.  For me, the "key" to unlocking this was the demon Astaroth.

Astaroth and Astártē
What really got me going was what Christian demonologists did with the Goddess Astarte.  Astarte, also known by many other names including Astoreth, was Goddess of love and lust (sex), fertility, and war.  She was obviously connected to Ishtar, Innana,  Isis, and maybe even Aphrodite. She appears throughout the Middle East and even makes an appearance in the Hebrew texts and even in later Christian writings.  But her transformation from fertility goddess to nature goddess to a demon is odd, but not uncommon.  Early Christian writers saw any other god or religion as demonic or even devil worship.  Early Jewish scholars usually never had an issue with other gods. So it is conjectured that when Christian writers and scholars saw Astarte/Astoreth and her crescent moon horns she became a demon.  And a male demon, Astaroth, at that.  It is the primary example for me of how "one man's god is another man's demon." 

Often who was on what list of demonic entities depended on who was writing it and when. One can claim to "go back to the research" but when you are researching what is essentially a completely made-up topic it is not difficult to find something to support your claim.   

For me, that leaves only one satisfactory conclusion.  
Classify these creatures as I like. 

Demons In Basic-Era Games

Do demons belong in (my) Basic-era games?

I figure I have witches, vampires, all sorts of fey creatures, and other monsters.  So yeah there is no good reason to keep them out. 

So there are "demons" in the sense as the world defines them. And there are "demons" as I plan to use them here or, more to the point, have been using them here.  
Translation: Some devils are now demons in my game. 

I have been doing this with the lesser devil types like the barbazu, cornugon and gelugon.  They are all part of the Shedim or demons of rage.   Erinyes remain fallen angels, so technically I suppose that makes them Baalseraphs.

One thing that came up in my review of the Immortals set was how powerful the BECMI demons are vs. their AD&D counterparts.  My idea is to scale them back down.  I like to think of all creatures as being Normal Human focused since that is the world they are in. Player Characters are the rare exceptions. So when a succubus drains life levels with her kiss then it needs to be scaled so that if she chooses a normal human the kiss can still be deadly, but not always so.  I mean someone needs to survive to tell their priest/cleric so it can be written down in a demonology somewhere.

Every version of the game has translated these creatures somewhat differently.  Though there are more commonalities between them than say Medieval demonologies from the so-called experts.  
Demons are legion and defy classification attempts, but that is exactly what I am trying to do.  Essentially make my own "Demonomicon of Iggwilv."


I think if I pursue this idea more I would have to come up with my own demonologies and groupings.  I like the ones I have been using so far, maybe a couple of others might be nice too.   Could be a fun exercise.

Maybe even come up with a witch to do the authoring of it.  I can't really use (nor do I want to use) "Demonomicon" or "Iggwilv." Plus someone new would be fun for a while.

What do you do? Do you have Demons in your Basic, not advanced, games?

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Eldritch Witchery on Sale! Mara Review! Night Shift PDF!

Pretty busy and exciting times around here.  Let's get started.

Up first I have a Pomo Code for you to get my Eldritch Witchery at 50% off from Elf Lair Games to celebrate the PDF release of NIGHT SHIFT: VETERANS OF THE SUPERNATURAL WARS.
(until July 31, 2020).


You can use Eldritch Witchery with any of my other Witch books AND it can be used with NIGHT SHIFT as well.

In Eldritch Witchery I introduce the demonic families of the Lilim (a race I used back in the 2nd Ed AD&D days), the Calabim, the Shedim, and the powerful Baalseraph

Eldritch Witchery uses Elf Lair Games O.R.C.S. while NIGHT SHIFT uses the more advanced O.G.R.E.S. but translation between the two is easy.   In fact, the demons, devils, and fiends of my "Night Worlds", in particular, my Ordinary World, uses the same demonic classifications.  So grab a demon from here to use in NIGHT SHIFT!
PLUS you can use all the spells from EW in NIGHT SHIFT to really increase the number of spells you have for your magic characters.

If Demons and Witches are your thing then also check out this review of my Daughters of Darkness: the Mara Witch Tradition, from the Reviews from R'lyeh.


This book also goes into more detail about the Lilim Demons. 
Both books feature Lilith on the cover too. 

I might need to spend more time with the demons.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

One Man's God: The Immortals and Demons of BECMI

Ok. So it is July. June is over and so should BECMI month.  The trouble is I find I still have a little more to say.  Plus it would be difficult to properly end BECMI month without a good look at the Immortals themselves.

So far we have run into six named Immortals; Koryis, Kersy (more on her later!), Vanya and Alphaks from Into the Maelstrom and Orcus and Demogorgon from the Immortals DM's Book. None are mentioned (too my knowledge) in the module The Immortal Storm. Of these five, three are demons.  Not just demons in the general sense, but demons in the AD&D (and now D&D) sense. 

One thing made clear in the Immortals game was that Immortals are not gods.  They are powerful beings, with near unlimited magical powers, who occupy the outer planes, and are worshipped by clerics...what was my point here? Oh not gods. Right, totally not gods. Nope.

Except they are.

Alphaks aside (he is a special case), Orcus and Demogorgon are immortals, and demons, and (let's be honest here) minor gods.  Essentially what OMG is all about. 

In the D&D Rules Cyclopedia Immortals are discussed, but specific Immortals are rarely mentioned.  Ka, Odin, and Atzanteotl are mentioned by name and have appeared in other BECMI products over the years.  The conversion notes for D&D to AD&D 2nd Ed in the Cyclopedia gives us this little tidbit:
The Immortals of the D&D system and the deities of the AD&D system should not be converted between the game systems.
They were real set on the whole Immortals ≠ Gods thing.

I wanted to review The Wrath of the Immortals.  But I don't have a copy and DriveThruRPG also doesn't have it.  I have managed to piece together some of the immortals from other products and from the Vaults of Pandius.  A couple of them stick out, Immortals and Faith and the Codex Immortalis by Marco Dalmonte

A few of the "demonic" Immortals mentioned in other products are, Bagni Gullymaw, a demonic troll and the immortal of canibalism and Stodos, a cold-blood Type II/Hezrou demon.  Bagni could be another name of the Other Side favorite Vaprak the destroyer.

What BECMI lacks, and really should have been a major contributor to, are new demons.

So instead of looking to the Gods and Immortals of this "mythos" like I normally do, I should look at the monsters and see which ones make for good demons.  

Demons of BECMI

I should start this part off with a note about another post on Demons in BECMI from Mystara Sage in Residence, Bruce Heard.  He posted about demons earlier this year and it is worth taking a look at.

 Moving away from the Immortal-level rules I look back at the various monsters.  To make my life easier I am just going to look at the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and D&D Creature Catalog.


The Plane of Nightmares was introduced to us in the X series of modules and would then later be expanded on in later Companion and Master books.  There are a few creatures from this plane that certainly qualify as demons.

Diabolus
The devilish Diabolus appeared in the Immortals Set.  They are described as looking like devils essentially but were in most ways human. They could take any human class and were their dimension's equivalent of humans.  The BECMI rules even state they can be played as humans. They were updated in Dragon Magazine #327 as a character race.  
Essentially these are Tieflings. You can play Chaotic or what 5e called demonic tieflings. I'd argue they can only choose "Chaotic" alignment, so Chaotic Good (their default in 2e), Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Evil.  

Malfera
Few creatures fit the description and general attitude of a demon better than the Malfera.  Let's get into some details.  In the Rules Cyclopedia, we learn they are chaotic. can only be summoned to our plane by a powerful magic-user or Immortal. They are a planar monster. They have massive physical attacks and special attacks. Can open doors as per knock and has higher than normal saves.  Plus they are described as a literal nightmare creature.  If not a demon, then "demon-adjacent."

There are stats for them all over the web.  Here are some from the Vaults of Pandius for 2nd Ed AD&D3rd Ed D&D4th Ed D&D, and 5th Ed. D&D.  A 3.5 version for the Forgotten Realms based on the Dragon #343 version.  The Piazza also has a Malfera and there is another 5th edition version.

Here is the version from the Piazza linked above. They make it a large monstrosity, but they don't give it the extra-planar tag.
And there may be a Malfera / Maelephant connection.  I am going to say related creatures from the same plane. Given that maybe there is a larger creature, a Masdaemon.  sure, Why not. 
Actually, it is close to an idea I was playing with back when I was writing Ghosts of Albion. 

Hellephant
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-2 (4-9)
ARMOR CLASS: 0
MOVE:  18"/36", special stampede 24"/48"
HIT DICE:  12+36 (90 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  95%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil, Special
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2 + 2 special
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  2-24 (2d12) trample, 2-12 (2d6) gore, 4-48 (4d12) swallow
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Breath Weapon, Swallow whole
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +2  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  10%
INTELLIGENCE:  Animal (savage)
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (20' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil, immune to Psionic attacks

Deep in the pits of the abyss roams the monstrous Hellephant.  Believed to be related to both the Malfera and the Maelephant, these creatures are roaming, ever-hungry nightmares. 
They appear to be Mastodons, only twice as large. Their fur appears to be black, but in truth soaked in blood. Their tusks come out from their bottom jaw and curve downward.  This allows them too run their prey down and scoop them up into their terrible maw.  The hellephant is a voracious carnivore and their preferred prey is anything warmblood that will run from them. Their attacks are a trample or a gore. On a successful gore hit the victim must make a saving throw vs. Paralyze or be scooped into the hellwphant's maw.  Once there they are bitten by the monster's rough teeth, still in the shape of the teeth of a plant-eater, and then they are swallowed whole.  The digestive acid causes 4d12 points of damage per round. Resistance to acid attacks can reduce this to half.  The hellephant's digestive system though is not adapted to eating meat so living creatures are exited out in the way of all digested food in 1d4 rounds. The expelled victim, if still alive need to make another save vs. paralysis in order to get up and move out of the way.  The Hellephant, still ravenous, returns to scoop up any victims that are too slow to move and the eating and digestion process begins again.
If a group of 6 or more Hellephants are present they may stampede.  They will run in one direction for several minutes causing maximum trample damage. They will not return to eat any victims left behind.
Hellephants have no treasure, but their ivory is prized through-out the multiverse and is, pound for pound, 10x the price terrestrial elephant ivory. 

Tabi
These small, winged-ape like creatures are chaotic.  They are somewhere between an imp and a flying monkey. 

There are a lot of Chaotic Evil monsters in Post-BECMI Mystara that have appeared that would make good demons.   I think these are the most likely candidates. 
I also think, given the mythos of the world and the roots of it, that demons are fine, but devils (as defined by AD&D 1st Edition) are not.   But hey, that is only for my games.

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 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

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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OMG: Central American Mythos

One Man's God: Central American Mythos

I return to One Man's God today with one of my favorite groups of Mythos, and the one that is the most problematic in terms of dealing with real-world history and myths.


Central American Mythos is a catch-all section that includes gods and monsters from a variety of societies and times.

Olmec: 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE, Mexico
Maya: 2000 BCE to 1697 CE, southeastern Mexico (Yucatan), all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
Mezcala: 700 BCE to 650 CE, Central Mexico.
Zapotec: 700 BCE to 1521 CE, Central/South Central Mexico.
Toltec:  900 CE to 1168 CE, Central Mexico. (and there is still debate on this)
Aztec: 1300 CE to 1521 CE, Central Mexico.

While these people and civilizations overlapped and had influences on each other, there are a number of distinct differences.


Another issue to deal with here is the nature of demons and the gods of these myths.  In a very real sense, these myths are the epitome of "One Man's God is Another Man's Demon."

Even according to scholars it is difficult to tell what is a demon and what is a god.  From the outsider's point of view, many of the Aztec and Mayan gods can be considered "Demonic" and were certainly called that by the Catholic Priests that would come to these lands from Spain (predominantly).

A good example are the Aztec Tzitzimitl, or demons (or gods) from the stars.  They were thought to have been the demons that attack the sun during a solar eclipse and also been the gods that protected to place where humans were created.

Tzitzimitl
Undead Demon
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-6
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12" Fly 24"
HIT DICE:  9+9 (50 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3 or 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6 (claw)/1-6 (claw)/2-12 (bite) or bone club (1-10) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1  or  better weapon to hit; double damage from sunlight
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (9')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Tzitzimitl are the demonic spirits of women who have died in child-birth or stillborn babies.  They appear as giant skeletal women wearing skirts decorated with the skulls and bones of their enemies. Around their necks, they wear the still-beating hearts of these enemies.  They are charged with protecting the lands where humans were created and thus they are invoked by a Curandero when a woman is giving birth.  They protect the mother and the child but demand that the ones that die be turned over to them.
They have been known to attack the sun during eclipses and this the time when they manifest in the Prime Plane. 
They attack with a claw-claw-bite routine or with a legbone from a defeated enemy.  On any successful hit with this leg bone, the victim must save vs. Paralysis or be blinded.
These creatures are semi-undead and can be turned by a cleric as Special.

One god in the book that works very well as a demon is Camazotz, the God of Bats.
His name means "Death Bat" and as I have pointed out before he could be a God, a demon or even a very, very powerful vampire.  In the Popol Vuh his description is very much demon-like.

Demon Lord, Camazotz
The Death Bat, Bat God, Sudden Bloodletter, Slaughter Lord 
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE:  12" Fly 24" (infinite at night)
HIT DICE:  24+24 (132 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Qx10
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-8 (claw)/1-8 (claw)/1-12 (bite) + Special, Blood Drain 3 Points of Con
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness, See in Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +2  or  better weapon to hit; see below
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  50%
INTELLIGENCE:  Genius
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (15')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Camazotz is the demon god of bats and vampires. But he is not truly a god or a demon or a vampire but something that is thousands of years old and akin to all three.  Vampires pay him homage more out of fear than actual piety. Humans on the other hand worship and hope that he will reward them with the gift of immortality (vampirism).  He requires blood sacrifices every new moon.  Camazotz himself goes through periods of extreme torpor and frenzied blood lust.

Camazotz dreams of one day destroying the god of the sun.

Camazotz attacks as a vampire with a claw/claw/bite routine of 1d8/1d18/1d12.  His bite (any natural roll of 18, 19 or 20) will drain 3 points of Constitution per round.  Anyone reduced to 0 becomes a vampire under his control.

He can see perfectly well in even the most complete of darkness, magical or mundane. He can also cause darkness as per the spell to 100’.  In darkness his AC is reduced to -4 and +4 or better weapons are needed to strike him.

He lives in a dark cave-like plane know as Xibalba on the Abyss where he serves as a vassal to Orcus. Again this is not out of fidelity but out of fear of the Demon Prince of Undead.  The cave is dark and the floors are stained with blood.  In this cave, Camazotz can summon up to 1000 bats to do his will.

Camazozt appears as a giant bat whose mouth is filled with bloody fangs.  He can also appear as an old man or a young warrior with bat wings.

He also makes a great demon lord to the Nabassu demons from Monster Manual II.

Tlazōlteōtl
This goddess is listed as the Goddess of Vice in the book.  She is also a "sin-eater" or someone that takes on the sins of others.   Among other things she is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery, Childbirth and the Goddess of Sweeping and Brooms.

Sounds like a perfect witch goddess to me!

What is Missing?

As to be expected with several lands, cultures, and 3,000 years of history, a few things are missing from the pages of the Deities and Demigods.

For example Dwarves. Dwarves in earlier Olmec culture and then in later Aztec culture are considered to be "touched by the gods" or the offspring of "witches."

Werejaguars are also an important creature with many warriors having the ability to become jaguars in battle.

Werejaguars
FREQUENCY:  Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-4
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12"
HIT DICE:  6+12 (39 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  50%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-4 (claw)/1-4 (claw)/1-6 (bite) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Lycanthropic curse, see below
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  Obsidian or +1  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  0%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Neutral Evil
SIZE:  M  (6')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Werejaguars are often found in tropical cities and ancient jungle ruins, but will appear in more temperate climates as well. These lycanthropes can assume the form of a jaguar, a human, or a bipedal, jaguar-like hybrid of the two forms.
Lycanthropy: If a victim is reduced to half total HP will become a werejaguar on next new moon.
Werejaguars can only be hit by obsidian weapons or by magic.

But the biggest miss, in my opinion, is the God Seven Macaw.

Vucub Caquix, or Seven Macaw, as a trickster demi-god and thus has the best chances of interacting with the characters.  Like many tricksters, he is chaotic, and also in this case evil.  He is associated with the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque.  He tricks them into thinking he is the God of the Sun, Moon, and Corn.  They respond by killing him and becoming the gods of the Sun and Moon themselves while their father also becomes the new Corn God.  But like all good tricksters, he comes back.

I don't fault the authors and editors of the D&DG for missing certain aspects of these myths or getting them "wrong."  While researching this I was reading that new translations going on in the 1980s and into the 1990s changed how we now view these stories.  And again, with 3,000 years of myths told and retold across seven or more civilizations there would be more to put in than the book could allow.

There is a lot more I could go about here, but one of my goals is to contain myself to the entries in the book and only add when needed.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

OMG: Indian Mythos

One Man's God: Indian Mythos

It's 2020 and welcome back to my series One Man's God (OMG).  I look at the various gods, monsters and everything in between and see how well they could (or would or would not) fit into the AD&D 1st Monster Manual as demons.

Before I jump back in a few introductory notes.
I use the word "demon" a lot.  By this I don't usually mean the Christian meaning of the term, but rather the much more generic meaning as a usually evil spiritual creature.  This is important here since I am going to jump feet first into the Indian myths and they have a lot of demons, and many are called demons too.

I am also limiting myself to AD&D 1st edition here.  While I do draw from other editions and games, it is AD&D 1st ed I am most interested in.   How do these creatures and monsters fit the AD&D (not Earth's) cosmology?



So in preparation for this, I grabbed my copy of the Ramayana to help me out.  Though the focus here is not on the myths and stories themselves but rather on how the Deities & Demigods presents them.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to collect all the myths and stories of India collate them, sort them and then put them into a gamebook and have them make sense.  Indian myths, like and maybe more so than other mythologies in the D&DG, are far too dense and scattered over time to fit the needs of a book publisher with a handful of pages to spare.  So I am not going to fault the creative choices made by the authors and editors here.  The authors acknowledge this in their first sentence of text for these myths.   So the list of gods, goddesses and creatures here combine Hindu, Buddist, Shakta, Jainism, and other beliefs.  Much like India itself.

Indian mythology is ancient, with Hindu texts going back to at least 1500 BCE.  I remember reading the Rig Veda in college and the Ramayan a while back.  What struck me then and again now is how much color and vibrancy there is to these tales.  I could go on and on, but that is not focus here.

In the Indian Myths as presented in the D&DG there are many gods and goddesses that look monstrous but are not.  This will be a classic example of not judging someone by their looks.

Kali
Kali might be one of the more recognizable personas from the Indian mythos.  She gained notable status soon after the D&DG came out thanks to the Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom movie.  But Kali is much, much more complicated than that. Kali is needed and required in Hindu mythology she is the one who dances with Shiva to destroy and then rebuild, the world.  Here name means "Time" and thus is a complicated character. 
In the D&DG she is reduced to just a goddess that can instill fear in demons and devils. She should be more.

Rakshasa
The rakshasa from the MM (and every Monster Manual hereafter) is often described as a demon.  Throughout D&D's history they have been consistently Lawful Evil. They are featured in many of the ancient tales, and in the Ramayana in particular.  Originally I wanted to re-classify them as Chaotic Evil, but after rereading the Ramayana I think I'll stick with Lawful Evil, with some odd individuals as Lawful Neutral or even Lawful Good.  Even in some tales Shurpanakha, the demonic sister of Ravana, the rakshasa king of Lanka, becomes so good that her beauty comes back to her.

Vitra and Susna
Both of these creatures are described as "dragons", "serpents" or "snakes" and often as a demon of drought.  They are typically blocking rivers or damming up waters and Indra has to fight them.

In this case, he could be related to any number of world-threatening serpents such as Apep or even Azi-Dahaka.  I honestly could use the same stats for it as I did for Apep.  Or in his "human" form that of a Balor.



A bestiary of all the monsters and demons from India would fill their own book.  It would be a fun book too!

Though if I were to do such a thing I'd rather do it for Ghosts of Albion and set it in the early Victorian Age.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...