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

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.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Painted Minis Edition

I am still on Christmas vacation and I barely remembered today was Monday.
So here are some minis my wife has painted over break.

First up, a blue dragon.







And, my favorite, a Demogorgon!







Here's to new monsters in 2020!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Pumpkin Headed Demon

Working on getting The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition book out to you all very soon and also working on NIGHT SHIFT.   So here is a creature that works well for both.  A demonic spirit summoned into a body of golem or lifeless corpse.  The Pumpkin headed demon.

Pumpkin Headed Demon

A Pumpkin Headed Demon, or Pumpkin Head for short, is a demon that is either summoned by dark forces or finds it way to inhabit a Pumpkin Golem, Scarecrow, or other such construct.  The material the golem was made from  is replaced by a crude flesh but the general shape remains the same.
The Pumpkin Head exists only to kill.  It is not mindless, even if it’s killing spree seems to be.  It is surrounded by an aura of fear that acts as the Cause Fear spell to a 60’ radius.  It attacks with its claws which appear to be made of steel.  Once per day is can breathe fire for 6d6 damage (save vs. Breath Weapon for half).



Pumpkin Headed Demon
(Labyrinth Lord, Pumpkin Spice Editon)
No. End.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 90’ (30')
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice: 8d8+8* (44 hp)
Attacks: 2 (claws)
Damage:  1d4/1d4 + fire breath (6d6), fear
Special: Fear aura
Saves As: Fighter 8
Morale: 10
Treasure: None
XP: 2,200
A Pumpkin Head can be turned as “Special”.

Pumpkin Headed Demon
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 5
HD: 8d8+8
Move: 30
Attacks: 2 claw (1d6-1 x2) + Fire Breath (1/day 6d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: 1,130

Pumpkin Headed Demon
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 5 [14], HD 8+8 (44hp), Att 2 claw (1d6-1 x2) + Fire Breath (6d6), THAC0 17 [+2], MV 90’ (30’), SV D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (8), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 1,130, NA 1 (1-3), TT None
 Breath fire: 1/day, 6d6 damage, save for half.
 Demon-possessed Construct: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease, and similar effects. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

Pumpkin Headed Demon
(Night Shift)
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 5
Move: 40ft.
Hit Dice: 8
Special: 2 attacks (2 claw) + Breath Weapon (Fire)


Sunday, October 13, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Satanic Saturday

Staying in all day. Let's have a Satanic Sunday!

Jaws of Satan (1981)
Druids, Witches, Cursed Priests, and Satan.  It sounds like a great mix. And a young Christiana Applegate and her real-life mother to boot!  Well... the movie is not great, but for 1981 it is not bad.

Satan comes to terrorize a small town in the form of a snake.  Not a giant snake, just a regular-sized snake. But I guess it does some strange things to the corpses and moves really fast, so that is something right?

Well, the Devil-as-a-Snake controls all the other snakes in the area so that is kinda fun.  This is more of a snake movie than a Satanic one.  Though I am not sure what is worse though, the snake or the casual misogyny and racism.  Well, this is the danger I knew I would run when I decided to go through every horror movie in the "Basic Era" (1977-1981).

The priest does have a nice "magical" battle with the Satan Snake, so that is cool.  Something I would have loved my cleric to have done back in the days of Basic D&D.

Monster Idea: Demonic Snakes.

Demonoid (1980)
A mine in Mexico uncovers a Satanic cult long buried. The soundtrack is pure 70s, but the movie stands up to be honest.  Again, if you don't mind the casual racism and sexism (are nurses supposed to show that much cleavage?). The movie is not great mind you, but the basic premise is solid.   The movie doesn't really pick up until about a third of the way in.  At no point, however, do the events depicted in the poster actually occur in the movie itself.

Though I expected a little more emotion from the protagonist.  She takes the death of her husband and then him getting up and walking from his grave in stride.

I could not help but think about how this would be a good set up for any sort of evil hand-like artifact focused adventure.  The hand gives up strange powers but at a cost.  Combine it with a bit of the Doctor Who serial "Hand of Fear" and the Hand of Vecna.

Monster/Plot Idea:  Demonic Hands.

Evilspeak (1981 or 1982)
An evil priest,  Father Estaban (an almost unrecognizable Richard Moll), is excommunicated by other priests in Middle Ages Spain.  Estaban shows how evil he is by cutting off the head of a perfectly nice Spanish girl.
We come to the modern age where we meet Stanley Coopersmith, an orphan in a military-like school played by B-Movie stalwart Clint Howard.  Coopersmith is picked on by everyone, the other kids, the teachers, even the priest.  While cleaning the chapel he finds Estaban's diary.  The diary, of course, is full of Satanic fun.  Coopersmith in true early 80s fashion types it all into a computer and it translates it automatically.  He begins to put more information into his schools' Apple 2e and soon he has the power.  Not sure if this is first mix of Satanic rites and computer technology but I am hard-pressed to name something that would have scared the Religious Right of the 1980s more.  I do love the Atari 2600 sound effects though.

This movie follows a cliched formula of the odd kid getting picked on and the kid turning to evil to get revenge.  We saw this to better effect in "Fade to Black" and the trope turned completely around in the Harry Potter books and movies.

The ending though is really fun with Coopersmith getting revenge on everyone by summoning up undead pigs from hell.  Interestingly enough, in the end, Coopersmith was admitted to the Sunnydale Asylum.   I have to admit this one was a lot of fun.

Monster Idea: Devil Swine

Lorna the Exorcist (1974)
Ok, this one is fairly notorious even by Jesús Franco's normal standards.  When I did my Franco October series a while back I had heard about it, but could not find a copy.  This year I did and saved it for tonight.  After all, if  Hall of the Nephilim can make Succubus Sundays a thing, I can contribute.
So right out of the gate.  "Lorna" is not an Exorcist. Nor are there any exorcists in this movie.  I can only assume that the English name was used to capitalize on the recent "The Exorcist" movie.  The original title in French is "Les possédées du diable" or roughly "Possessed by the Devil".  That's a better title really.
There is another bit to get over too.  There are two versions of this movie, an 81 minutes NR version and a 99 minute X rated one.  The X rated one features some rather graphic scenes featuring Lorna (Pamela Stanford) and Linda (a very young Lina Romay).

The plot is basically Rumplestilskin with demons.  Patrick Mariel is an out of his luck man who makes a deal with a woman named Lorna. She will make Patrick wealthy, but in 18 years he must give her his daughter.   He doesn't believe her but becomes wealthy all the same.  Nearly 18 years later his daughter Linda is a wild teen and Lorna has come back to make her claim on the girl.
Lorna can only really be described as a succubus (that would also explain the green eye makeup).  She seems to invade Linda's dreams where the two have some fairly graphic sex.  Likely these are the part of the edited out 18 mins.  There are also a few other scenes that are fairly notorious like the crabs' scene and one between Linda and her father Patrick.  The most notorious has to be the one where Lorna finally claims Linda as her own.

There are plenty of Franco hallmarks in this. Gratuitous nudity, jazzy soundtrack, casinos, weird almost psychedelic cinematography, and Franco himself making a cameo appearance.   He once talked about how much he loved seeing Lina Romay (aka the future Mrs. Franco) in all these scenes and how much she enjoyed them herself.  I will give her credit in this one. She actually is putting forward a good performance.  There is a marked difference in Linda before and after Lorna.  It also seems to me that Lorna turned Linda into a succubus herself.
There is also a bit with a madwoman, who I took to be a former lover of Lorna who still seems connected to her.
Franco is hit or miss, and mostly miss, to be honest, but this is one of the better ones I have watched.

Monster Idea: Succubus

Watched: 19
New: 14



Saturday, October 12, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Made for TV Movies

Yesterday's Midnight Offerings made me want to search a little more a movie that has been "haunting" me forever.  This movie is about witches and the occult; satanism in particular.  It was on TV on Halloween night. It had to be between 1977 and 1982, I know a huge time frame. I think it was a made for TV movie. The movie had a girl with psychic powers or witchcraft; they were often synonymous in the late 70s.  There is a scene near the end of the movie of a girl (not sure if it is the same one) lying on an altar.  Either she about to be sacrificed OR this is supposed to give her powers.  All I can remember was there a long progression of cultists going up a circular staircase up in a tower and each one put a drop of blood on the girl's forehead.  That is the clearest thing I remember.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what the movie was.  But I have been trying.

So I spent the day searching and here are the fruits of my labors.

Spectre (1977)
First up is Robert Culp, John Hurt, and Majel Barrett in Spectre a great little tale of Asmodeus and Lilith in modern times. Culp plays a criminologist who now studies the occult.  Gig Young play Dr. Hamliton; Watson to Culp's Holmes.  He gets attack by a succubus, whom Culp manages to send back to hell. This leads to an investigations of the Cyon family in England where we get to see a young John Hurt.  Turns out the family are cultists and they are playing to sacrifice the daughter, whom the succubus had taken the form of, to Asmodeus.
We do get a scene of cultists and a woman being sacrificed.  But that is about as close as we got.
The movie comes to us from Gene "Star Trek" Roddenberry. I guess it was supposed to be a pilot movie for a new series.  It might have been fun to be honest.  The story is good and the acting fine but somehow it just doesn't come together right.  Ah well.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for.

Stranger in Our House / Summer of Fear (1978)
Our next choice is a Linda Blair starring TV movie Stranger in Our House, based on the book Summer of Fear.  A housekeeper, inhabiting the body of a suspected dead cousin (Lee Purcell) is taken in by Rachel's (Blair) family and strange things begin to happen.  How do we know Julia is a witch?  Her penchant for black flimsy dresses and her white and red eyes.
This was Linda Blair's next movie after the critically panned Exorcist II.  This one in truth is not much better, but I have soft spot in my heart for Blair.  Still we get a decent enough Wes Craven film here.  I had forgotten how much cars exploded all the time in the 70s. Actually, this is something my dad and I always watched for when we would watch these terrible movies together.   Near the end of the movie Julia's car explodes before it is even half-way down the mountain.  The whole thing has a serious Stephen J. Cannell vibe about it.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. The fact that it premiered on Halloween night 1978 on NBC I was sure this was the movie.

Moving on.

Alison's Birthday (1981)
On paper, this sounds like it is it.  Girls playing with an Ouija board and discover that a strange fate meets Alison on her 19th birthday.  It even has an evil coven of witches.  I had high hopes for this one but a couple of things let me know right away that this was not it.  First, the movie is Australian. I am not sure about a lot of things when it comes to this vague memory but I think I would have remembered that.  Plus I am also sure this was not a made-for-TV movie.
Now there is a scene at the end with cultists, but no girl with psychic powers to speak of.

Verdict: Nope. Not the movie I was looking for. Some of the elements are right, but not enough of them.

Invitation to Hell (1984)
Let's see.  It's 1984 and I need an attractive TV actress to paly a hell-spawn.  That's right! It's All My Children's Erica Kane, aka Susan Lucci playing Jessica Jones (!!) in Wes Craven's next made for TV film, Invitation to Hell.   It starred Robert Urich (one of those actors you never heard a bad word about) and Joanna Cassidy as a couple moving into a new town. Here they join a new Country Club but discover it is actually a doorway to Hell.  Which makes it like most Country Clubs I have dealt with.

Soon Matt's (Urich) wife and son become posessed and he has to put on a space suit to get them from Hell.  You read that right.  This also features Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punk Brewster, as the daughter.

Anyway, the movie is kinda all over the place and fairly forgettable.  I'll admit to nodding off a couple of times to rewind it.  But Urich saves his family in the end.  No one was going to win any Emmys for this one though...oh sorry Susan.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. But I also suspected it wasn't.  It's a little outside of the time frame I was thinking it should be in and this movie is solidly 80s.  Hell, it looks like it was filmed in the same suburb as Poltergeist.

While I am thanking my Roku for all these gems. I am getting blind here staring at my TV screen.  Plus these are all beginning to blur in my memory now even as I write this.

Maybe I will continue my search next week.   Maybe I can also find some good witches for a change.

I think with these four though I have some good ideas for the Cult of Asmodeus I was working on.

Watched: 15
New: 10






Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Night of the Demon (1980)

Last year I started with a bunch of movies from the early 80s but due to various reasons I was not able to complete my challenge.  Well, this year I plan too and I am picking up where I left off.
But if the rest of the movies are as bad as this...I might not make it.

Let's do it.

Night of the Demon (1980)
I am not sure what to say about this one.  The movie is a flashback with other flashbacks inside.  It's like a shitty Inception.  Professor Bill Nugent wakes up in a hospital bed and tells the most boring story ever about Bigfoot. Sorta.
He does wake up and tells the story of how he and his anthropology class go out to search for rumors of bigfoot. They have heard some stories, all told in gory flashbacks - even from the people that died and could not tell their stories, of people attacked and killed by a bigfoot.
There is a lot to do around Crazy Wanda and her father who was burned alive and a cult of bigfoot worshipers who treat him as some sort of rapey demon.
Anyway, Crazy Wanda had been raped by Bigfoot when she was 15 and her father later killed the half-bigfoot baby.  She burned him alive and while telling us all this under a hypnotic flashback Bigfoot comes back and kills the anthropology class.

The film is only notable because it was originally banned in the UK and they had to shave a minute or so off of it to be released.

The music is early 80s porn soundtrack and the acting is not much better.  While I liked the demon-worshipping/pagan aspects to the Bigfoot myths, it was sloppily done.

Oh well.  Better luck with the next one.

Watched: 1
New: 1



Monday, August 26, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Spider, Unlight

"It was a creature from the Outer Darkness.  Clothed in the shape of a gargantuan spider, but far more fell.  It's exact shape was difficult to make out, save from where darkness gave way to a deeper unlight.  All we could see were it's monstrous eyes. Each one glowed and betrayed great and evil greed or thirst for light and life."
- From the Journals of Larina Nix


The foul and fell creatures known as the Unlight Spiders are not true spiders, but take that form from the deepest fears of mortal kind.  They are in truth shapeless spirits of the voids beyond the blackness of the darkest realms.  Such is their hunger they feed not just on life, but on the light itself.
They crave light as much as they loathe it.

Here they are for Old School Essentials.

Spider, Unlight
10' long spiders of complete pitch-black color.  Hide in dark webs in the deepest, darkest pits they can find. 
AC 4, HD 7** (32hp), Att 1 × bite (3d6 + poison), THAC0 17, MV 90’ (30’) / 180’ (60’) in webs, SV D8 W9 P10 B11 S12 (F8), ML 10, AL Chaos, XP 1210, NA 1 (1d3), TT Ux2
• Growth: Every time the Unlight Spider drains life levels equal to twice their own HD they grow one size category larger. 


HDhpXP
7321,210
14636,600
2812626,600
• Energy drain: A successfully hit target permanently loses one experience levels (or Hit Dice). This incurs a loss of one Hit Dice of hit points, as well as all other benefits due to the drained levels (e.g. spells, saving throws, etc.). A character’s XP is reduced to the lowest amount for the new level. A person drained of all levels dies and cannot be raised.
• Infravision: 180’
• Loathe the Light: -1 to-hit in lighted conditions (Light spell) and -2 full daylight (Continual Light spell) conditions.
• Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
• Poison: Causes death in 1 turn (save vs poison).
• Webs: Creatures caught in webs become entangled and unable to move. Breaking free depends on Strength.
<10: Impossible to break free
10-13: 6 rounds
14-17: 5 rounds
18-19: 4 rounds
19-22: 3 rounds
23+ : 2 rounds
The webs can be destroyed by fire in three rounds. All creatures in a flaming web suffer 1d6 points of damage.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Demonic Trolls

Gearing up for the big finale of the Order of the Platinum Dragon game this week.  Five-six years, spread out, has now come down to the big confrontation between the forces of Good and the forces of Chaos.  This weekend the Order will face off against Lolth.

I have been planning this one for years.  Knowing full well the history of how Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits was written and produced and knowing while it can be epic in scope, it often falls a little flat.  Well, I have worked that out a bit and even have adapted several other adventures such as Skein of the Death Mother and the original version of Queen of Lies.

But there are still somethings in the Q1 module that needs to be changed.  One, oft mentioned bit, is that the characters get to the Abyss and they are assaulted by trolls and gnolls.  Wait. Trolls? Gnolls?  These creatures seem a little too mundane for the ultra weirdness that is the Abyss.
Now one hand gnolls have evolved since the late 70s, early 80s to become more and more demonically influenced.   So these I can keep, just maybe turn up the evil a bit.  But Trolls?  Like Tom, Bert, and William from the Hobbit?  No that can't be right.

But if I go with Demonic Trolls, now there is something else.



We know two things.  1. Trolls regenerate after they are damaged.  2. The Abyss corrupts the life found in it to adapt to the environment in twisted ways.  That last one is from the 4th Ed version of the Demonomicon.    So what happens when you put these together?  Demon Trolls.  And if they are in the Demonweb?  Demonic Spider Trolls.

Here are Demonic Trolls for the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules, my current "Basic" of choice these days.

TROLL, DEMONIC
AC: 2
HD: 12d8
Move: 45
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or weapon
Damage: 1d6 (claw) x2/ 2d6 (bite) or weapon
Special: Bite save vs. Poison 2d6 (half with save)
XP: 2,300
Alignment: CE
Treasure: None
Abilities: +3 Strength, +2 Dexterity,  -4 Charisma
Climb Surfaces +25%, Hear Noise +15%, Read Languages -10%, Read Scrolls -10%, Use Wand -15%

Regenerates 1d6+6 hp at the start of it's turn.

And for D&D 5e.

Demonic Troll
Large Fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 108 (12d10 + 48)
Speed 45 ft., climb 45 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
22 (+6)     18 (+4)     18 (+4)     8 (-1)     10 (0)     4 (-3)    

Skills Perception +6, Stealth +9
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Abyssal, Undercommon
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)


TRAITS

Keen Smell: The demonic troll has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Regeneration: The demoic troll regains 15 Hit Points at the start of its turn. If the demonic troll takes acid or fire damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of the demonic troll's next turn. The demonic troll dies only if it starts its turn with 0 Hit Points and doesn't Regenerate.

Spider Climb. The demonic troll can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The demonic troll makes two attacks, either with it's claws or bite.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (1d6+6) slashing damage.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 6) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) poison damage.

Trolls may also use a melee or improvised weapon.

Description

Demonic trolls are the result of trolls becoming captured or lost in the Abyss. Their natural regenerative powers combined with the Abyss' computing influences create true monsters.  Their intellect is lowered as they become deranged with blood lust, but their strength and speed become truly monstrous.

They will often adopt demonic features such as horns, wings, a forked tail, or any number of thousands of possible mutations.  Often they pick up traits of whatever abyssal plane they are on.  Trolls in the Demonweb, for example, will have spider-like features.  Trolls in the layers of Juiblex will have ooze like features and seem to melt and reform as the attack.

Regeneration
The regeneration powers of the demonic troll are horrifying.  If the troll looses a limb it can hold the limb to the wound to reattach it.  Or it can pick up any severed limb and that will re-attach as well.  Left over severed limbs will regrow into new trolls, altered by the environment.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

OMG: Demihuman Deities, Part 2

Headed back to the Nonhuman and Demihuman Deities today.  Of all the mythos in this book this is one that gets the most updating.  Later in Unearthed Arcana and then under 2nd Ed with an entire book.  But that is in the future, today I want to deal with what is in front of me.


Last week I talked about Yeenoghu and how Gnolls (by all accounts a violent, but intelligent monster race) worship this demon as their god.  Ok cool. I like it, it works well for me.   But there are other demon lords and Princes that don't have humanoid worshipers.  Lolth does in the Dark Elves and her Clerics are at the top of their Drow Caste system.

To be blunt, what about Orcus and Demogorgon?
Now they are not in this book, so I am not going to devote a lot of time here to them. Plus I have said so much about them here before. But I do want to get to one God in this book and his relationship to the demons.

Vaprak the Destroyer
At the start of the OMG series I mentioned that Druaga the Ruler of the Devil World was the "poster boy" of this series.  But he is not the only one.  The other, though to a lesser degree, is Vaprak the Destroyer.



Vaprak is the lord of Trolls and Ogres.  Not bad. I don't even mind linking them together.

Though I often have Trolls and Ogres as Fae-adjacent creatures.  Many will often worship powerful fae Lords and some even honor the Erlking or one of the Goblin Lords.   Looking over Vaprak we see he is a demigod. Chaotic evil. Lives in the Abyss.  Sounds fairy demonic to me.

I have used Vaprak in my games many times.  I have the old LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons toy line Troll figure.  He makes for a perfect Vaprak.  BUT in my games, Vaprak was the old name trolls and ogres used (in some places)  to describe a creature that was attacked in the Dawn War by He Who Was.  He Who Was attacked three great demon lords; Vaprak, Orcus and one other whose name has been erased.  He Who Was unmade the last demon and nearly clove Vaprak in two with a mighty split to his head.  Orcus destroyed He Who Was and ripped out his skull and spine to make the Wand of Orcus.  Vaprak, nearly mortally wounded crawled back into the Abyss to heal.  Both halves of his head and neck healed and regenerated to give us the demon Demongorgon.

Demogorgon was Vaprak.

He still takes the worship of Vaprak and some even know the difference, but most human scholars do not.  This makes Demogorgon a little bit *more* in my game.

Laogzed
The Troglodytes worship the disgusting Laogzed.  Again, if Gnolls get a demon why do Trogs get a god?  Simple he is a god really.  Again let's look at the guy.  Chaotic Evil. Lives in the Abyss.  Demigod level.  Yeah this guy is a Demon Prince too.  There is actually a little bit more out there in later books about Laogzed than Vaprak, but nothing I could find that would contradict him being a Demon Prince.
Maybe it is the Erol Otus art, but I can't help think that Laogzed is somehow related to the Great Old Ones from the Cthulhu mythos.  I do get a solid Tsathoggua feel from this guy.  Nothing specific to be honest. Just a feel.

Sekolah
Sahuagin worship Sekolah as their god.  Here he is listed as a Lawful Evil lesser god who swims the seas of the Nine Hells.  In truth I rather like this.  I like keeping him as a god or what-ever was living in the Hells before the devils got there.  Some things were just two dangerous for even the Fallen to kick out.

I can't help but think that James Ward was thinking of the old "Jaws (1975)" movie trailer.



It is as if God created the Devil. And gave him...Jaws.

I will admit.  At 5-6 I was scared shitless by this movie.  Sekolah has a lot to live up to to be half as scary as "Bruce".

Blibdoolpoolp
A lot has been said since this book about the goddess of the Kuo-Toa.  There is even something that just came out this past week.  Also there are some books that claim that Blibdoolpoolp is not actually real.  That the insane Kuo-Toa worship anything and they come to life, something like a Tulpa.
I have talked in the past about Blibdoolpoolp just being a construct, or even an avatar of Mother Hydra to take the Kuo-Toa back to their Lovecraft roots.


I used her pretty much by the book when I ran Shrine of the Kuo-Toa last year.  Maybe I will revist her.  But I implied pretty heavily that she was of the same ilk as Lolth, both a Goddess and Demon Princess/Queen.  Maybe I'll go in a completely different direction with her.
She is also one of the keepers of the Elder Elemental Eyes in my game.  The "Eye of Sea and Sorrow".   Lolth is the keeper of the "Eye of Air and Darkness".  There is also the "Eye of Earth and Death" and the "Eye of Fear and Flame". 

I think that wraps up the Demi-human and non-human gods.  Not sure where I want to go next.  But I am thinking it is time tohit those Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

OMG: Demihuman Deities, Part 1

Ok a bit of a direction change here for One Man's God.  Normally I look at the myths presented in the 1st Ed AD&D Deities & Demigods, compare them to the myths from the real world and then look to see how some of the monsters can be classified as "D&D Demons", which is not exactly the same as a Judeo-Christian Demon, but I am not ignoring that mythology either.

This series will be different since the myths I am looking at now were all almost all wholesale made up by the creators of the AD&D game as it existed at the time.   So no appeal to real-world myths here is 100% appropriate, though there are some notable exceptions.

When looking over these beings though we are left with the same question as before.
Would this being be better suited as a god or as a demon?

Let's find out.


Introduction
We start out with the idea that demi-humans and non-human monsters are either Shamans or Witch Doctors.  We see this in action later in the BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia version of the D&D rules.  We are even given a new class, the Wokani, which (depending on which version of Basic you grab) are either witch doctors or witches in their own right.   But I am getting ahead of myself here.

We are also told that some of the creatures in the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio are to be treated as lesser gods.

MONSTER MANUAL
Demon: Demogorgon, Juiblex, Orcus, Yeenoghu
Devil: Asmodeus, Baalzebul, Dispater, Geryon
Dragon: Bahamut, Tiamat

FIEND FOLIO
Demon: Lolth (detailed in D&DG as well)
Elemental Princes of Evil
Slaad: Ssendam, Ygorl

So, if they have a unique personal name then they are essentially lesser gods.  Sort what I am doing here really.

Right off the bat some of these creatures are gods and others are named as demons.  The are some that fall in the in-betweens and those are the ones I want to investigate further.   I am also going to work from my own biases here. I think certain creatures are certain things.  Want to do it differently? Great, do it your way.

Gods Among (Demi)Men
Who in this listing of gods are undisputable gods?
I think the following beings make the list.
Skerrit (Centuars), Moradin (Dwarves),  Corellon Larethian (Elves, and most of the elven gods), the gods of the Giants, Garl Glittergold (Gnomes), Yondalla (Halflings), Gruumsh (Orcs) (but more on him later).  Others are ify.

Side note: I always loved Yondalla. I thought of all the gods of the demi-humans she was perfect. Exactly the kind of goddess the Halflings would have.

Maglubiyet, Hruggek and Gruumsh
In my game world, Goblins are actually a faerie race.  They are often evil, but some are just good enough to be considered Neutral.  For this reason, I see them more as Chaotic.  Hobgoblins in my world are related more to Hobs or more to the point, "Old Hob" aka the Devil.  I consider them goblins with a touch of Devildom about them.  Much in the same way that tieflings are to humans.  Bugbears, on the other hand, are more demonic. Bugbears come from the same root of words that give us boggles, boggleboes, and boogeyman.   I have played around with various ideas of goblin gods for a while.  At first, I went with Maglubiyet, but there is something about him I don't like, or rather, I don't like in this role.  Then I went with the Erlking as Lord of the Goblins and also Jareth as a Faerie Lord king of the Goblins.  I even went with atheist goblins for a while after reading GURPS Goblins.  I think I am more happy with a Jareth/Erlking blend these days.
That leaves me with Maglubiyet, the Lawful Evil god of Hobgoblins who also is a lesser Duke of Hell (his names sounds like a Duke of Hell to be honest) who wars with Gruumsh.  And way over in the Abyss we have the monster Hruggek who is a Chaotic Evil Demon Lord that is the patron of the Bugbears.  His name also sounds more demonic to me.
This leaves both beings relatively the same as they were before.

Gruumsh is a different story.  The one-eyed Gruumsh is obviously a nod, conscious or not, to Sauron.  Also, the orc of Tolkien's world are much more demonic that the orcs of D&D and other modern fantasy.  In The Silmarillion, we learn that orcs were created by the Vala Melkor, later Morgoth.  So there is an idea of divine creation perverted.  Would Melkor be a demon?  He is more closely related to Lucifer is analysis, but that only muddies the waters really.   I also like the idea that orcs were once related to Elves.  Of the two main species in D&D only elves and orcs can mate and produce offspring with humans.  So here is a heresy.

Orcs, and indeed Gruumsh, were all elves.  Gruumsh was Corellon's brother.

Somewhere, somehow, Gruumsh betrayed Corellon (orcs say it was the other way around) and Gruumsh the orc was born.  I just need a good Elvish sounding name to give him before this fall.
Personally, I find this FAR more compelling than the tale of Lolth.
Speaking of which.

Lolth, The What Queen?
Lolth is a lesser goddess. No, wait she is a demon. She was Araushnee, but that doesn't come till later.
I have talked about my issues with drow in the past and how they are really Lawful Evil and not Chaotic Evil.   Plus if I can make a Lawful Evil Goddess Tiamat into a Chaotic Evil I should be able to do the opposite for Lolth.  Which of course means she would not really be a demon anymore.  She is more of devil.  BUT. I like the idea that she is a demon.  Can I make a LE Demon? no. not really.

I think the simple answer here is that Elves, Orcs, and other fae creatures like Goblins don't fit into the Devil-Demon dichotomy very well.   I am inclined to pull them out and let them be their own thing.  Lolth is called the "Demon Queen" but that is more due to her "Fallen" status than anything else.



Despite my stated goal of trying to pull these beings into the likes of demons, I am happy with them being their own thing.

Gnolls and You Know Who
Before I end today's discussion I should point the example that falls right into line with what I am doing.  Gnolls and the Demon Prince Yeenoghu.  Here we have a strong non-human species and they worship a demon as their god. It works. It works well.


Too well.  Why does a weak-ass demon prince (ok relative) like Yeenoghu have humanoid, intelligent worshipers but more powerful ones like Orcus and Demogorgon do not?  I will dig into it next time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Other Side, A Look Forward

Trying to organize some thoughts here on what I want to do next on the old Other Side blog, figure you all might want to help me!  Or at least listen to my ramblings.


I am prepping for Gen Con now and trying to get another book done in time for Lughnasadh/Lammas so my posting here is going to be a little sparse.

#RPGaDAY
Dave Chapman will be doing (I think) his annual #RPGaDAY in August.  I am not sure what the questions will be, but I do like to participate.  Plus my Twitter followers have really increased this past year, so that might be nice to share.

The Other Side Rewind
Still plugging away at this! June was my Facebook experiment month, while July had been my month to try some other tools.  I am hoping to kick it off full steam in August or September.  Again, if you are reading here then you won't really notice anything at all.

One Man's God
While this one has been great fun, it was not designed to go on forever.  I am going to do the Celts (part 2) and the Chinese and Japanese, though I admit I know very, very little about these.  I am going to do the Demi-humans and do a special on the Cthulhu and Melibone mythos. But once I am done with those then the series will end save for some special editions.  Though this will lead to my next thing...

The Usual Suspects
I am going to spend some time, maybe a lot of time, going over all the various demon books I own and some I don't yet and talk about how to use them in your games.  I really love demons and demonic lore.  The title of this series "The Usual Suspects" comes not only from the notion that all evil in the worlds can be traced back to the machinations of demons (and devils) but every OGL book on the market today has the same half-dozen or so demons and a similar number of devils in every book; aka The Usual Suspects.  I think this will be fun, to be honest.


This Old Dragon
I still have some left and I want to get back to them.

Class Struggles
I have been too long away from this one. I have started writeups on the Alchemist and the Bard.  Been playing a couple Bard variants to get a good feel for the differences.  Sometimes there are more differences between two different bards than there are between most fighters and rangers!

So. Let's get to it!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Keres, Daughters of the Night

Thought I was done with Classical Mythology but I was rereading my notes and found this.  Shifting gears so I can post these horrors closer to their cousins.

Keres
No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 4 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+16 (52 hp)
Attacks: 3
Damage: 2 claw (1d6+4) + 1 bite (1d6)
Special: Flight, +1 or better weapons to hit, immune to death magic
Save: F8
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: Nil
XP: 2,340

Keres are the daughters of Nox, the personification of Night and are the Sisters of Death.  They are spirits that inhabit battlefields to carry off the newly dead to Tartarus.  They can be attacked, but only with magic items.  Any magic that affects demons also affects Keres.
Keres will attack mortals if they attempt to stop their business of carrying off souls. They are very fond of human blood.

A description of the Keres can be found in the Shield of Heracles (248-57):
The black Dooms gnashing their white teeth, grim-eyed, fierce, bloody, terrifying fought over the men who were dying for they were all longing to drink dark blood. As soon as they caught a man who had fallen or one newly wounded, one of them clasped her great claws around him and his soul went down to Hades, to chilly Tartarus. And when they had satisfied their hearts with human blood, they would throw that one behind them and rush back again into the battle and the tumult.
There is a possible relationship between these demons, the demoness Vanth, and the Erinyes. All appear to be similar creatures; female demon-like monsters with dark feathered wings.  Some scholars even point to their relationship among the Greek/Roman Gods for their similarity.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

OMG: Greek and Roman Mythos, Part 4 Tales of Brave Ulysses

Ok kids, time to put away your Homer and Hesiod and pick up your Ovid and Virgil.  It's time to get Roman with these myths.

A lot of what we know about the "Greek Myths" comes from the Roman counterparts in Ovid's Metamorphoses.   In truth I can go on and on (and on and on) about Ovid and Metamorphoses. I could spend a couple of posts on just his influences on Shakespeare for example.  But that is not the scope of OMG.  I really want to look into a couple of things in this respect. How do gods grow and evolve (say from Greek and Etruscan to Roman) and how this produces our Monster Manual demons.

Let's get down to business and look at the second big demon in our D&D Pantheon and his strange origins.  Of course, I can only mean Orcus.

Hades and Pluto and Orcus and Dīs Pater

No. Not a crazy comedy from the 70s.  Well, I suppose it could be.   But I want to talk about the God of the Underworld.   I mentioned Hades a lot in this series before. He is the God of the Underworld and was so feared that he was often never called on by name, he gains the epithet "The Rich One" and much later on "The Lord of this World" something that has also been attributed to Satan. 
As Greek myths merged into Roman myths several gods were syncretized to arrive at the Roman Pluto.  These include many gods of the underworld, the dead (but not death) and riches such as the Etruscan Atia and the Roman Dīs Pater.   Mixed in all of this is the Greek Horkos and Roman Orcus.

So how do we go from a God, one of the Olympians no less, to a demon AND a devil (I didn't forget about you Dispater)?  Well, the thing about myth there can several, sometimes even mutually exclusive stories, and all are true.  Now I have personally never cared for the history of the Demon Prince Orcus as told in the Dead Gods book (though an otherwise great sourcebook). Orcus was once a human? Balderdash and Poppycock!  Sounds like lies told by Demogorgon cultists.

Instead, I propose this.  As Hades was starting his transformation to more benign Pluto he sloughed off his evil like a snake sheds an old skin.   In Milton, this would have been when Lucifer first came to hell or sometime before Lucifer fell.  It could be that the dæmon Horkos picked up the skin and became Orcus.  OR even Horkos was killed and was filled with the evil from Hades to become Orcus.  I like that better than a "fat, evil necromancer" became one of the most powerful demon princes in the game. It also ties him into the undead more and helps explain why Orcus' motivation is often to become a real god.  He has "memories" of a time when he was a god.

Also, for this reason, I have a bitter rivalry between Dispater and Orcus.  They both could have been created at the same time from Hades' skin of evil (if that sounds familiar, it should).  Dispater was a Fallen who encountered the remaining evil and he too has "memories" of time when he was a god.
The newest version of D&D refers to Dis/Dispater as the "foremost arms dealer" in the lower planes.  I can work with that.  His forces can help out the PCs in my current game against Orcus.

So we can have a Greek titan, turned demon in a rivalry with Roman godling turned demon.   I have said a lot about Orcus and I am likely to say more.
Moving on from Orcus, there are a lot of creatures in the Roman myths that find the idea of demons rather well.   One, in particular, is one I have mentioned before.

Vanth

Like Orcus, Vanth is another Etruscan chthonic god depicted as a demon and she adorns funerary art.

I learned about Vanth, not through mythology, but through one of my very first loves, astronomy.  Vanth is the largest moon (only moon so far) of the Trans-Neptunian Object/Dwarf Planet Orcus.  Vanth orbits Orcus in a tight precise circle and they are tidally locked. Vanth is never far from Orcus then and she always keeps her face toward her master.   Vanth has a very different spectra than Orcus, so the two were not formed together like most other satellite systems.  Vanth is likely a captured Kuiper Belt object.  To take another page from mythology Orcus stole Vanth from another god/demon/master to be his psychopomp, maybe even from Pluto, or given her torch, from Hecate.  In that case, she would be somewhat similar to the Erinyes.

Here she is for Basic-era D&D (yeah I should do AD&D, but I am on a Basic kick).

Vanth, Psychopomp of Orcus
No. Enc.: 1 (Unique)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 1 [19]
Hit Dice: 11d8+ 11 (61 hp)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1 sword (1d10+4)
Special: Flight, Magic resistance (55%), regenerate (3 hp/round),  +2 or better weapons to hit.
Save: F12
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: X
XP: 3,600

Vanth is the vassal of Orcus. Responsible for bringing him the choicest souls to be corrupted into foul undead.  Vanth is never far from Orcus then and she always keeps her face toward her master.

Vanth shares a role similar to that of Charon.  She brings the souls of departed to the underworld. She has a torch to light her way, a key to unlock the gates of the underworld, a scroll with the information on the deceased and a sword. According to myth Vanth appears as woman, much like an Erinyes and described as young and vibrant.

There are other demons similar to Vanth such as Culsu, Charun and Tuchulcha.

Vanth

Tuchulcha


This also marks the end of the "Classical" Myths of antiquity.  After this, we get into what could be called the Pagan Myths.  I already did one part of the Celtic Myths, so I will need to revisit them.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Gargantua Demons

We had tickets to see the new Godzilla: King of Monsters movie this weekend so we made a day of it. Went out and played Pokémon Go as a family and we all caught a Tyranitar in a raid.  We all renamed them after Kaiju, except for my youngest who in his typical fashion named his "Greg".

We saw the movie. It was great fun and everything you want a Godzilla movie to be; giant monsters beating each other up while leveling a city.  Then we went out to have sushi and another round of Pokémon.

Of course, this got me thinking about my Gargantua Demons of my game world.  I thought I should update them for today.

Orcus with a Gargantua

Gargantua

Gargantuan outsider (demon [Calabim]), chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 26 (Natural Armor)
  • Hit Points 656 (32d20+320)
  • Speed 60 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
 30 (+10)   11 (0)   30 (+10)   8 (-1)   8 (-1)   25 (+7) 

  • Vulnerabilities Radiant
  • Damage Immunities fire, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 10
  • Languages Abyssal (understand simple commands)
  • Challenge 30 (155,000 XP)

Special Traits


  • Legendary Resistance (3/Day): If the gargantua fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
  • Magic Resistance: The gargantua has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
  • Siege Monster: The gargantua deals double damage to objects and structures.
  • Actions


    • Multiattack: The gargantua can use its Frightful Presence. It then makes four attacks: one with its bite, two with its claws, and one with its tail. It can use its Swallow instead of its bite.
    • Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 36 (4d12 + 10) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 20). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the gargantua can’t bite another target.
    • Claw: Melee Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 28 (4d8 + 10) slashing damage.
    • Tail: Melee Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 24 (4d6 + 10) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 20 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
    • Frightful Presence: Each creature of the gargantua’s choice within 120 feet of it and aware of it must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the gargantua is within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the gargantua’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.
    • Swallow: The gargantua makes one bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits, the target takes the bite’s damage, the target is swallowed, and the grapple ends. While swallowed, the creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the gargantua, and it takes 60 (20d6) acid damage at the start of each of the gargantua’s turns. If the gargantua takes 80 damage or more on a single turn from a creature inside it, the gargantua must succeed on a DC 20 Constitution saving throw at the end of that turn or regurgitate all swallowed creatures, which fall prone in a space within 10 feet of the gargantua. If the gargantua dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse by using 30 feet of movement, exiting prone.
    • Breath Weapon (Recharge 5–6):  The gargantua exhales fire in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 25 Dexterity saving throw, taking 82 (15d10) fire and necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
    • Legendary Actions


      • The gargantuan can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The gargantua regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
      • Attack: The gargantua makes one claw attack or tail attack. 
      • Move: The gargantua moves up to half its speed.
      • Chomp (Costs 2 Actions): The gargantua makes one bite attack or uses its Swallow.

These horrors are destruction incarnate. These demons stand over 50 feet tall and are horrible to behold.  Each one is unique, but all have characteristics in common.  They are typically humanoid in shape but could be covered in scales, leathery skin, fur, chitin, or any combination of these. Their intellect is below that of animals and like all calabim demons, they exist only to destroy.

Powerful Baalor or even Arch Fiends can control them, but it is difficult to do.  Mostly they are sent somewhere where everything must be destroyed or eaten.  Gargantua will even fight and kill other demons.

All gargantua have massive claw and bite attacks in addition to tail, horn or other weapon attacks.  Occasional on a bite attack a victim can be swallowed whole.  Every gargantuan also has a breath weapon attack. Typically fire, but lighting and wind are also common.

Human wizards and warlock have been known to try to summon these creatures but the destruction they cause usually outweigh any perceived benefits they may offer.  The spells to do so are carefully guarded.

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