Showing posts with label monster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monster. Show all posts

Monday, April 12, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: J is for Jack O'Lantern

Here is an old favorite of mine that I just never got right.  I had featured the Jack O'Lantern on three different occasions in three different witch books and each time there were differences.  But none of them felt 100% right to me.  This one is better, but I am not sure I got the nature I want the creature to have exactly right.

Jack O'Lantern

Jack O'Lantern
Medium Plant (Fire)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Unaligned]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3* (17 hp)
THAC0: 16 (+3)
Attacks: 2 tendril whips or special
Damage: 1d6 x2 or special
Special: Breath weapon (fire)
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 75 (OSE) 100 (LL)

This creature is a roughly humanoid-shaped tangle of vines and leaves with a large pumpkin for its head. The pumpkinhead bears a leering face that appears to have been carved there and glows from within with eldritch fire.

A jack-o-lantern is a plant creature brought to life by a combination of eldritch magics. It is said that druids, the fey or a witch knows the ritual to summon these guardians. The nature of the face generally reflects the animating spirit. They are considered to be plant creatures.

The Jack O’Lantern will attack with its whipping tendrils, usually two attacks per round but a rare (5% chance) one will have three. Once per day the jack o’lantern can “Breathe” fire out of carvings in its pumpkin head. A saving throw vs. Breath Weapon is required or take 3d6 fire damage (save for half).

Summoning a jack o’ lantern requires a large patch of pumpkins. Up to four (1d4) will be summoned with a single ritual. The jack o’lanterns will never wander more than 500’ away from their pumpkin patch and will attack any creature not present at the time of its summoning.

--

Well, it is certainly better than what I had before.  

This creature introduces an idea borrowed from D&D 4th and 5th Editions, and that is the Unaligned alignment.  They are neutral for the terms of the D&D Basic and OSR games, but beyond that they are unaligned. I will not use it as much as later editions of the game, but it does have its place and uses for me. 

April 2021 A to Z


Saturday, April 10, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: I is for Incubus

The Nightmare, Fuseli
Something a little different today.  Different in that I talk a lot about the Succubus, but never really anything at all about their male counterpart the Incubus.  Since my next book after the Basic Bestiary is going to be about Demons and Devils, I figure I better get one detailed here.

The Monster Manual and medieval demonologies are replete with all sorts of "male" demons. The Monster Manual itself only has two female demons, the succubus and marilith, and only one female devil, the Erinyes. Four if you include the Night Hag (but more on that later).  Because of this, I have never really seen a need for the Incubus.  There is one "Species" the Succubus and she can shapeshift however she feels fit.  And for what it is worth that is still true.  Though I got to thinking what if the incubus was something else.

Going back to my cover, Fuseli's The Nightmare, there is an imp sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman while a ghostly horse, a Nightmare, looks on.  There are two versions of this painting, but both are the same.

The creature on her is an incubus. This got me thinking.  What if the incubus is NOT the male version of this:

Succubus

But rather the demonic version of this:

Cupid

An incubus is an imp-like demon that is a demonic mockery of the cherubic cupids of Renaissance and Victorian art. 

I like it to be honest. They invade women's dreams and appear to be a tall strapping male that makes love to them all night, leaving them drained (Constitution drain).  They are kin to the Succubi (they are both Lilim) and might even be the offspring of succubi and humans.

Now...I am still working on a few things for the demon book.  One of the reasons they are not in the Basic Bestiary is because I have not worked out all the issues with their stat blocks and all the demonic families I have.  I mean are succubi Chaotic Evil, Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil?  I have seen them done all three ways.  Is the Lamia a monster or are they demons?  Still too many unanswered questions.  But until then, here is an Incubus.

The Nightmare, Fuseli 1781
Incubus
Small Fiend (Demonic, Lilim)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
    Fly: 120' (40') [12"]
   Spirit: 240' (80') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8+15** (38 hp)
   Small:  5d6+15** (33 hp)
THAC0: 15 (+5)
Attacks: 1 claw or special
Damage: 1d4
Special: See below
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 10 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 575 (OSE) 660 (LL)

The incubus is sometimes considered to be the male counterpart to the succubus.  While a succubus can change shape to male, the incubus is a different, but a related creature.  Like the succubus, the incubus can invade the dreams of their victims.  This is often how they make their first contact with the victim.  In this form, the incubus is merely a spirit and cannot attack or damage.  But once they have made contact and their victim, usually a woman of pure and good standing, they will begin their nightly visits.

The incubus can appear as any sort of creature or person the woman desires.  If that desire is say forbidden such as the love of a man married to her sister or the head of a church, then incubus' connection will be stronger. During these nightly visits, the incubus will drain 1 point of Constitution from the victim.   Any incubus typically has a few victims he sees every night, so one sign of an incubus problem would be many women wasting away over the course of a week.  When they reach zero Constitution the incubus will take their soul to be bartered in the lower planes.  

The true form of an incubus is that of a gargoyle-like imp creature about 3' to 3½' tall. It has small leathery bat-like wings, a pinched evil little face with a mouth full of sharp teeth, and tiny hands with small sharp claws. They are covered in fur and smell of soured milk, body odor, odor, and brimstone. 

An Exorcism spell will remove their spirit forms.  A Protection from Evil spell will keep them at bay for the duration.  They can only be harmed by magic or magical weapons. Killing an incubus sends it back them the lower planes. Once the threat is abolished victims can heal at the rate of 1 Constitution point of bed rest each week. 

Talismans and amulets that protect wearers from demons will work, but only if they are specifically crafted for incubi or succubi. 

--

Not bad.  Not 100% perfect yet, but I have some time.  I still need to work in magic resistance and what demonic abilities all Lilim share. 

The Incubus has three different kinds of movement and of course, has the reduced hp of a small creature.

April 2021 A to Z

Friday, April 9, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: H is for Hag, Chaos

Hags a huge part of any stories around or about witches and witchcraft.  Nearly any fair tale witch can be or has been described as a hag.  While through the various versions of the game a Hag has either been their own kind of creature, a giantess or even a monstrous humanoid, they have eventually settled on the place I have always thought they work best, as a type of Fey creature.  Sure they are evil, no question about that, but this also gives them a bit more.

Hag, Chaos
aka Chaos Crone
Medium Fey (Chaos)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d3 only with other types of hags)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6** (33 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 1d4+2
Special: shape change, charm, witch magic, hag powers, fey qualities
Save: Witch 6
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (V) 
XP: 950 (OSE) 980 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 12 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 12 (0)

Chaos hags are among the smallest, least physically powerful of all the hags.  What they lack in physical prowess they make up for in deviousness and cunning. 

Chaos Hags live to disrupt and cause chaos. The favorite form and tactic is to disguise themselves as a beautiful and innocent woman who has suffered some tragedy.  She will insert herself into a family, village or town.  Small enough that everyone knows everyone, but large enough to give her options.  She will then attempt to charm and seduce anyone she can to bring about distrust.  She will cause all sorts of seemingly unrelated mischief.  She won't be able to help herself though and sooner or later someone will get killed, either by her hand or someone she has charmed to do so. 

Once she has the area in a complete uproar she will try to get the most upstanding citizen to "run away with her" so they can be together.  If this citizen is a lawful cleric or good paladin then even better.  While in the lover's embrace she will then transform to her normal hideous state and kill and eat her former lover.  The next phase of her chaos will arise when leaves any children from this union at the doorstep of a good and lawful family.

The children appear normal at first. The girls are even quite beautiful but over time the boys will become Calibans (qv) and the girls will become a random type of hag when they reach 60 years of age. Despite their normal looks, they will be fully chaotic evil creatures and will continue in their mother's footsteps.

The chaos hag can attack with her claws and teeth like many other hags and she can command the spells of a 5th level witch. She can control animals to do her bidding as per the spell Animal Control. She can cast a Charm Person up to three times per day.  She is immune to sleep, charm and hold spells and only takes half damage from the cold.  She is vulnerable to cold iron and takes double damage from that.  She cannot enter holy ground unless invited and singing makes her angry. 

Given that she can birth other types of hags leads scholars to believe that they are a step between the common hags, the night hags, and the Urhags.  But no scholar has thus far been willing to test their theories.  A Chaos Hag can live anywhere in any climate.  When she is not causing trouble she can be found in a particularly dark and desolate cave. 

--

Another feature I am trying out are ability scores for each monster.  These have become commonplace now for the last 20+ years of the game.  I do have all of these and use them to help figure out pluses to HP due to constitution, damage due to strength, and AC due to dexterity. 

While I do have these for every monster I am not 100% I need them. What are your thoughts.

April 2021 A to Z


Thursday, April 8, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: G is for Glaistig

Another creature from the stories and myths of Scotland.  This time a creature that is either a faerie or a ghost.  While the desire is there to classify everything, sometime the creature in question has many properties and game designers do the best they can.  So today I am presenting the Glaistig; the Woman in Green or the Witch of the Wood. 

Like the Banshee, the Glaistig is one of many different types of faerie women that might also be ghosts that inhabit the stories, myths, and legends of the British Isles. While the Banshee can be slotted, game-wise, as a ghost, the Glaistig makes more sense as a living faerie creature.

Woman in Green by Gary Dupuis
Woman in Green by Gary Dupuis

Glastig
aka Witch of the Wood, Green Lady
Medium Fey

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral 75%, Chaotic Good 20%, Chaotic Evil 5%)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 9d8+9** (50 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: 1 slam or spell
Damage: 1d6+2
Special: Witch spells, Fey qualities, become ethereal at will. 
Save: Witch 9
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

A glastig is a green-skinned woman with the legs of a donkey. She will often hide these in long dresses. Since she has the ability to become ethereal she is often thought of as a ghost. 

She prefers not to attack physically but can do so by launching herself with her powerful legs to slam into a creature. Otherwise, she can cast spells as a Witch of the 7th level and make herself ethereal at will.

As a fey creature, she is immune to the effects of a ghoul's paralysis. Silver or magic weapons are required to hit. Cold iron weapons can be used and will do double damage.  

The glastig protects her lands and area fiercely. She will attack invaders but can aid those that also protect her lands. Glastigs will work with other fey creatures to keep their lands safe.  For this and her magic use, they are often called "the witch of the woods." They are also known as "The Green Lady" due to their skin color and the color they are favored to wear. 

To appease a glastig it is common to leave a bit of milk in a bowl on a rock near where the glastig is believed to live.  When no one can see the glastig will drink the milk and add whoever left it out to her circle of protection and be inclined to be Good towards them.  If the milk is spoiled when left out the glastig will disfavor the humans and become Evil.  Most times the glastig is neutral to humans. 

--

She is a bit like a dryad and a bit like a nymph but a lot more powerful.  This is not the first monster I have made that uses witch magic, nor will it be the last.

April 2021 A to Z


Saturday, April 3, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: C is for Cat-sìth

Another creature in the guise of an animal and we do not go too far astray from the homes of the barghest. This time the animal is a cat and creature is a Cat-sìth.   

Cat-sìth
Cat-sìth
aka Cait Sídhe
Medium Fey

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4* (22 hp)
THAC0: 15 (+4)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, + special
Damage: 1d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Bad luck, fear, low-light vision (120’), scent, speech
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 200 (OSE) 215 (LL)

Cait Sídhe or Cat Sìth (Caught SHEE) are magical cat-like creatures that populate the same lands of faeries and other woodland creatures. They appear to be large cats with black fur and a spot of white on their chest. Sometimes they have white paws or even white faces.  All cat-sìth have eyes that glow yellow, orange, or green. In the lands they call home the cat-sìth are often feared to be demons or a witch in the form of a cat. In any case, the appearance of a cat sìth is a sure sign that a witch is nearby.

Cat-sìth makes sudden sprints to bring down prey. It prefers to attack small mammals and birds and rarely physically attack humanoids, though it has been recorded of a Cat-sìth adding a pixie or brownie to their diet once in a while. When dealing with humanoids a cat-sìth can defend themselves physically but prefer to use their spell-like abilities.

Bad Luck: The cat-sìth can target one victim as a recipient of a Bad Luck curse.  This cast as a Bestow Curse spell by a 4th level witch.  The victim is at a -2 on all rolls till sunrise the next day. The cat-sìth may do this up to 3/day but multiple uses on the same target are not cumulative.

Fear: The sight of a cat-sìth is so disturbing to most that it emanates a Fear Aura that acts like a fear spell cast by a 5th level caster. The difference is that the aura is limited to 5’ and the victim must be able to see the cat sìth.

The cat-sìth has low-light vision to 120’. A cat-sìth is capable of speech and can speak any language its intelligence allows. They can speak Common, Sylvan, any local language, and the language of Cats.  

The cat-sìth makes an excellent familiar. Their association with witches is long and not without cause.  Most cat-sìth avoid humanoids, with the exceptions of the fey, so the only ones likely to be encountered by humanoids are the ones in the charge of a witch. They are all believed to be in the service of the King of Cats (Cat Lord).

--

A fun little beastie.  This one adds an "AKA" line under the name, many monsters are known by other names as well. 

While this one looks like a cat it is actually a faerie creature.  Now I could have listed it as Beast (Fey) like the Barghest is Beast (Demonic), but I felt that it fit better as a proper creature of the fey.   


April 2021 A to Z


Friday, April 2, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: B is for Barghest

Here is an old favorite of mine that I have done a couple of different versions of in various postings and books.  Is this the final version? No idea! But it is getting close.

This one is a nasty little beastie from English lore.

Barghest
Large Beast (Demonic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d6 (1 or 1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Humanoid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12** (39 hp)
   Large 6d10+12** (45 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws (humanoid/hybrid) or 1 bite (dog/hybrid)
Damage: 1d6 x2 claw or 2d4 bite
Special: Stare, hit by silver or magical weapons.
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 950 (OSE) 980 (LL)

Barghest

A Barghest is an evil shape-changing fiend that hungers for the souls of mortals. A barghest may appear as a huge demonic black dog the size of a bear, or in a humanoid form nearly seven feet tall, resembling a goblin or wingless gargoyle, or a combination of both forms. A barghest never uses weapons, even in its humanoid form, preferring to feel the blood of its enemies run down its claws. It is tenacious; if a barghest fails its morale check and flees, it will return in 1d6 turns to attack again.

Anyone who meets the gaze of a barghest will feel the heat of the monster's stare; such characters must save vs. Paralysis or be paralyzed in terror for 1d6+1 turns (or until the barghest is slain). A character is deemed to have met the gaze of the barghest if he or she faces it in combat, or if the character is surprised by the monster. Fighting a barghest with gaze averted results in a penalty of -4 on all attack rolls. Those who succeed at the saving throw are immune to the monster's gaze for the remainder of the combat (at least one full turn at the minimum).

Although it is not undead, a barghest is inherently unholy and can be Turned by Clerics (as a spectre). They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons. A barghest generally speaks Common as well as the languages of infernals, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, and can communicate with wolves. One can sometimes be found ruling over goblins or hobgoblins, but most commonly a barghest haunts a lonely stretch of road, preying on travelers.

Barghest lairs will only have a single creature or a creature and up to three whelps.  A barghest whelm is weaned at one year and kicked out of the lair.  If encountered by a parent or siblings it will be attacked. Barghests have no sense of family and hate all creatures except for themselves.

Their coats are of the darkest of blacks and often matted with blood. Their eyes burn red and it is said the fires of hell can be seen in them. 

--

What's new today?

This creature has a few more things going on.

First, it is a Large Beast (Demonic). Let's break that down.   
In my Basic Bestiary, I am going to give different HD for different sized creatures.  A Large creature will use a d10.  Medium creatures will still use a standard d8, Small a d6, and Tiny a d4.  On the other side of things, a Huge creature will use a d12 and a Gargantuan creature will use a d20.  This is much the same as D&D 5e uses

For the purists, you can continue to use the d8 but I will include both numbers as I am doing above.  AD&D First Edition only used Small, Medium, and Large creatures.  The vast majority will be these three sizes. 

It is a beast, but also Demonic.  So it's intelligence is higher and has some demonic traits.  In this case, it can change shape, can only be hit by magic or silver, and has a special gaze attack.

I am also including a THAC0 line with a BAB in parentheses. 

Things are shaping up.


April 2021 A to Z


Thursday, April 1, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: A is for Allip

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”  Francisco Goya, 1799
“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”
The sleep of reason produces monsters.
Francisco Goya, 1799

It is April and that means it is time for the AtoZ Challenge for 2021. I didn't do this for a few years, but this year I wanted to give it a go again to see how it has changed, see what is new, and mostly to motivate me to get all my monsters done!

My monster book idea grew from my love of monster books in general.  I have spoken about my love for the original Monster Manual here a few times. I have talked about other monster books too.  For me it was monsters that were my gateway to D&D. I still love them.

This year is the A to Z of Monsters. I am working on completing a couple of different monster books. One focused on monsters of fairy tales, myths, and legends and in particular monsters related to witchcraft. The other is a massive tome of demons and fiends of all sorts.  The first book will feature all sorts of creatures, right now there are a large number of undead monsters.  Makes sense when you consider that I spend a lot of time writing and playing horror games.   

Some creatures have appeared in my witch books.  Some are completely new.  Many have come from challenges like this and my Monstrous Mondays posts.  Some are even like today's beastie.  A d20 conversion of a 3.5 monster to OSR-like stats.

As I have been discussing here I am working on my "universal stat-block."  Today though I am going to start with the one I have been using in my Monstrous Mondays and tweak it from here.

Allip
Medium Undead (Incorporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
  Fly: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+2** (20 hp)
Attacks: Special
Damage: NA See below
Special: Suprise, touch deals 1 point of Wisdom drain, only hit by silver or magical weapons.
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 275 (OSE) 290 (LL)

Allips are shadowy, incorporeal undead that mutter and speak with the voice of madness from beyond the grave. The voice acts as a Suggestion spell upon anyone hearing the quiet mutterings: the suggestions of an allip are usually senseless but sinister.

An allip is usually only seen out of the corners of the eye.  Thus they can surprise on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. Elves are surprised only on a roll of 1-3.  Once it attacks it is visible to all. 

The allip’s touch does not deal damage but causes the victim to lose 1 point of wisdom. If a victim’s wisdom falls to 0, it dies and will become a shadow within 2d6 days. Allips can only be hit with magical or silver weapons.

It is believed that allips are caused by people who have died in a state of profound despair.  Now they seek revenge on the living for their current state. They are always found where they died.  They are turned as a 4 HD undead.

--

So here is a start! 

You can find all the other participating blogs and their social media links on this Google Sheet.

I also have a growing Twitter List here of everyone participating on Twitter.

**Please Note. I have 'Comment Moderation' turn on. I have been getting hit with a ton of spam.**

April 2021 A to Z


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A to Z Blogging Challenge Theme Reveal

I am considering doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year.  It's been a couple of years since I have done it.  I was feeling I was alienating my regular readers with it in favor of people just coming through from the Challenge.

A to Z reveal

So this year I wanted to do something that any and all readers would enjoy.   This year I am doing Monsters.

The idea here is to give me some external motivation to get my two monster books done.

For new readers, there will monsters which are always fun. Since many come from the tales of fantasy,  myth, and folklore maybe there will be something they can use for their own writing or just enjoyment. For my regular readers, new monsters with stats.  I am also looking for all sorts of feedback on not just the monsters, but the stat blocks as well.

The one I have been using on my Monstrous Mondays has been working well for me, but I am sure I can tweak it some more.

The monsters for April A to Z will likely favor the Basic Bestiary I, covering all sorts of witchcraft-related monsters with plenty of fae and undead, but I am not ruling out some demons for Basic Bestiary II.

Both books will come in softcover (Basic red) and hardcover (orange spine) versions.  So they will work with whatever version of the game you are playing.  The interiors are the same with stat blocks designed to work with both the "Basic" and "Advanced" versions of the game.

Basic Bestiary cover, version 1 Basic Bestiary cover, version 2

So far Basic Bestiary has over 330 monsters with 156 of them complete.  The others are various points. 

Basic Bestiary II, Basic coverBasic Bestiary II, Advanced cover

Basic Bestiary II has over 500 demons, devils, and related monsters.

I am also going with my own compatibility logos on these since they really have gone beyond one system or the other.  They are still largely "Basic" in nature, but as you can see from my Monstrous Mondays stat blocks they have a little bit of everything in the OGC.  I am going to use this month to experiment.

You can see others doing their theme reveal over at the A to Z Blog until March 20.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Gwragedd Annwn (Swan Maidens)

I have been digging through some old documents this past week. Some old Ravenloft ones (the new Ravenloft book has me excited), some stuff on Irish myths (it is March after all), and even some of my old Color Computer files (I have...my reasons).  One thing that came up a few times was an adventure I had written for Ravenloft back in 88 or 89 that featured a group of Swanmays and their betrayal and the hands of a drow assassin. 

While the adventure itself would need some serious reworking to make it ready for primetime, I did do a lot of research on Swanmaidens, Swan women, and other similar creatures.

I figured an update was in order.

Gwragedd Annwn (Swan Maidens)

Medium Humanoid (Fey)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Lawful [Neutral Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
   Fly (in swan form): 180' (60') [18"]
   Swim: 150' (50') [15"]

Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 2d8* (9 hp)
   Gwragedd Annwn, 3rd level: 3d8* (14 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 4th level: 4d8* (18 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 5th level: 5d8* (23 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 6th level: 6d8* (27 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 7th level: 7d8* (32 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 8th level: 8d8* (36 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 9th level: 9d8* (41 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 10th level: 10d8* (45 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 11th level: 11d8* (50 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 12th level: 12d8* (54 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 13th level: 13d8* (59 hp) 
   Gwragedd Annwn, 14th level: 14d8* (63 hp)
 
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+4 x2, 1d8+4
Special: Shape change, magic required to hit, Swan Song
Size: Medium
Save: Fighter 2-14
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: VI (U)
XP: 25 (OSE) 29 (LL) 
    3rd level: 50 (OSE) 65 (LL) 
    4th level: 125 (OSE) 135 (LL) 
    5th level: 300 (OSE) 350 (LL) 
    6th level: 500 (OSE) 570 (LL) 
    7th level: 850 (OSE) 790 (LL) 
    8th level: 1,200 (OSE) 1,060 (LL) 
    9th level: 1,600 (OSE) 1,700 (LL) 
   10th level: 1,600 (OSE) 1,700 (LL) 
   11th level: 1,900 (OSE) 2,000 (LL) 
   12th level: 1,900 (OSE) 2,000 (LL) 
   13th level: 2,300 (OSE) 2,450 (LL) 
   14th level: 2,300 (OSE) 2,450 (LL) 

The Gwragedd Annwn, also known as Swan Maidens, are humanoid maidens capable of turning into a swan. They only have this power while they remain unmarried. In this state, they are also considered to be creatures of the Fey.

All Gwragedd Annwn are rangers of a level equal to their HD. They will be equipped accordingly. Instead of cleric and magic-user spells these warriors may choose druid and witch spells respectively. They are fierce enemies of evil and chaos and fight it wherever they can.

They can attack with any weapon of their choosing. Most prefer to use finely crafted swords or longbows.

Employing a feather token they can transform into a large swan. It is believed that once they take a husband, they must give this token to him. Many are loathe to do that.

Many feel they can trace their lineage back to the great king Lir whose children were transformed into swans by their jealous step-mother.

Swan Song: If a Gwragedd Annwn is reduced to 0 hp she can begin a Swan Song.  This song is similar in power to the Banshee keening, and will cause all around her, foe and friend, to experience profound sadness and will be unable to take any further action (no saving throw permitted).  If she is heard by her sisters they will fly to her in swan shape to return her to their sanctuary.  At this point she will either be healed or will die.  It is believed that a swan song can only be used once in the life of a Gwragedd Annwn.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Aglæca

Here is a monster that has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for a while now. I have renewed my search for this creature thanks to getting all caught up on the new "Nancy Drew" series which has a solid supernatural vibe to it. 

The word seems to come from Beowulf, but there is a lot of debate over what it means exactly

We can go to the root word, āglāc, which can mean distress, torment, or misery.  It later derived the Middle-English word egleche meaning warlike or brave.  The Dictionary of Old English describes it as an awesome opponent, a ferocious fighter.  There is so much confusion and speculation on this word there is even a recent Master's Thesis on it, Robinson, Danielle, "The Schizophrenic Warrior: Exploring Aglæca in the Old English Corpus." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. 

Given the Beowulf connection, I did look to the troll connection; I always thought of Grendel as some sort of troll.  But I have already done a Troll-wife (a type of hag) and a Trolla (a type of troll witch).  There also seems to be a demonic or even diabolic association with this creature. But I have also already done demonic trolls.  Given the Old-English and Middle-English sources of the word I even thought that something along the lines of a proto-hag might work, but I have done those as well in the Ur-hag

Robinson details some comments from Tolkien on his reading of Beowulf and spends time talking about the monster (and true to her thesis, the noble warriors) that appear in the poem.

Both Grendel and his mother are described as aglæca. While I like to think of Grendel as a troll and his mother as more of a troll-wife, maybe there is more to it. 

Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæca
Large Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 8d8**+16 (52 hp)
  HD (Large): 8d10**+16 (60 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+4 x2, 1d8+4
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, sunlight sensitivity. 
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,750 (OSE) 1,840 (LL)

The aglæca is a large humanoid creature that appears to be something of a mix of both ogre and troll. It is blue-ish grey in color with patches of dark blue that are the color of bruises. It smells of rotting meat,  decay, and the sea.  Its long muscular arms end in large hands with great claws. Its mouth has large fangs and tusks and maybe most disturbingly, its eyes burn with a fierce intelligence.

It is believed to be a descendant of the great giants and Jötunns of the north and the ancestor to the more common ogre and troll. Some scholars speculate that there is a bit of demonic blood in this creature, or even something more evil and primal.   

The aglæca causes fear (as per the magic-user spell cause fear) to any that sees it.  It will use this power to fearlessly attack opponents.  It will use its claws and bite in an attack. While it is intelligent and knows the value of weapons in combat, its berserker-like fury will cause it to abandon weapons in favor of its own hands.  The aglæca will take anything it kills back to their caves to eat. Their preferred food is humans followed by elves, halflings, and dwarves.  

Only magic weapons or magic can hit it and it can regenerate 1 hp per round.  The aglæca prefers to fight at night or in the dark.  It attacks at -1 in light and at -2 in bright sunlight. Aglæca speaks the local languages and giant. They are fearless in battle.

The origins of the aglæca are a mystery. It is speculated that they are very, very old creatures. Thankfully they are very rare and getting rarer to find all the time.

Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæc-wif
Medium Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8**+12 (39 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d8+3
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, witch magic. 
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

The aglæc-wif is the smaller female of the aglæca species.  It is conjectured that there may in fact be larger female aglæca that are not aglæc-wif and the aglæc-wif might be another related creature.  So far the only aglæc-wif that have been recorded have been a pair with a larger aglæca.

Like the aglæca, the aglæc-wif appears to be related to the troll and/or ogres.  They also are quite intelligent and while they are perfectly happy to murder and eat any human they see, they are not just ravenous monsters.  The aglæc-wif also possesses the infravision of the aglæca but is not hampered by light or sunlight.  Also, like the aglæca, these creatures feed on humanoids, but they prefer humans to all other forms of food.

An aglæc-wif can attack with claws and bite like the aglæca, but she is also capable of using spells as a 4th level witch of the faerie, sea, or winter traditions.  Their preferred spells are charm-based. Any magic that provided protection from or special damage to Sea Hags is also effective on an aglæc-wif.

It is speculated that like a troll-wife the aglæc-wif can join a covey of hags as a third hag. Though none have ever been reported as doing so.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Yaoguai

Well, January was used up and Monday, February 1st was also taken, so that makes today the first free Monday in 2021 for Monstrous Mondays!  Let's get to it.

First I want to talk a little bit about my two monster books, the Basic Bestiaries.  I am far behind my original and revised, release dates.  Not that this is a big deal really save that I wanted to something more done. I mentioned a while back that I began with one book and I am now splitting it up into two books, one for witch and witchcraft associated monsters and another for various demons and devils.  Work has continued on both books, but I might get to a point where I need to split them up yet again.  No big details yet, but I have an overabundance of the undead, in particular, vampires.  Still, my choice is two books and I am extremely happy with my Fuseli and Goya covers.

This brings me to today's post.  The Yaoguai and Chinese demons.  


My demons are now over 500 individual monsters and I am just getting started. I have talked a lot about demons here. 

What I know about Chinese Mythology could fill a book.  A very small, poorly edited book.
Here is what I have learned over the last few months. 

Yaoguai are a class of mostly evil (but not always so) spirits.  The name is used for the collection of all such spirits and for a group of specific animal spirits.  The name comes from the characters 妖怪 which translate into "strange ghost." They are related to yaomo (妖魔 yāomó, lit. "strange devil") or yaojing (妖精 yāojīng, lit. "sprite" or "seductive") all start with the same character 妖. This (typically) refers to an awakened spirit.

And as expected it also far more complicated than that.  Though as I have mentioned before, I can't serve two masters, in this case, Chinese mythology and good Game Design.

Yaoguai

Lesser Yaoguai are all animal spirits that were normally benign but have sought out immortality by becoming demons. While they can generally be described as evil, they are often more selfish and amoral.  The ones most encountered are evil since they tend to work against mortals.

All lesser yaoguai can be recognized by their glowing eyes, preternatural strength, and enlarged teeth and claws. All yaoguai can speak common and any other local languages.

As a spirit creature, a lesser yaoguai can be "Turned" by a cleric as if they were undead.  They do need to know their proper name.  So "begone rat demon" will not work, but "begone shǔ yaoguai" will.  A result of "T" will cause the creature to run away. A "D" result will force the spirit out of the animal in question, often killing the host animal. 

Lesser Yaoguai also all have the following powers.

  • Spirit. The natural form of the Yaoguai is a spirit. It will inhabit the body, living or dead, of the animal of their type.
  • Command Animals. Lesser Yaoguai can command animals of the same type. Niú Yaoguai can command oxen and other cattle for example.
  • Hybrid form. Yaoguai can shift between animal form and a humanoid form like a lycanthrope.
  • Immune to poison, gas, polymorph, and petrify effects. Immune to normal weapons.
  • Half damage from cold, fire, and electricity effects.  Half damage from silver weapons.
  • Full damage from magical weapons.
  • Double damage from a blessed weapon. These weapons specifically blessed by a priest to fight a particular type of Yaoguai spirit.

Shǔ Yaoguai  
Rat demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Uncommon
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:  Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]

Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8***+5 (28hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 2d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: disease (demon fever), summon animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 8 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 750 (OSE) 860 (LL)

Shǔ Yaoguai, or Rat demon spirit, is the most common of the lesser yaoguai encountered.  They appear as large rats with glowing eyes and human intelligence. In fact, they are often smarter than humans.  They can be found wherever large groups of rats are found.  They are often mistaken for wererats or dire rats of a, particularly evil mien.

Shǔ Yaoguai can attack with claw and bite and it is by these means that they deliver their curse of Demon Fever.  On a successful critical hit with a bite (a natural 20 rolled), they transmit Demon Fever.

The subject is allowed a saving throw vs poison.  A fail means death, a successful save means the victim has contracted a slower version of the fever. They will not be able to do anything but require complete bed rest. They will lose one Constitution point per day unless a Cure Disease is cast on them.  If they reach o Constitution they will die.

These demons can summon 10-100 normal rats, 2-40 dire rats, or 1-6 wererats in rat form.

Rat demons exist to cause chaos and suffering only. While they are intelligent their plans typically do not exist beyond this.

Niú Yaoguai
Ox demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 7d8**+21 (53hp)
Attacks: I headbutt
Damage: 2d8+3
Special: Trample (4d8+3)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster  7
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XV [H]
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,200 (LL)

Niú Yaoguai, or Ox demon spirit, are among the least intelligent of the yaoguai.  They are also among the strongest and the greediest.  In their animal form, they appear as a black and red ox with fiery eyes. Their hybrid human form appears as a minotaur.

The main attack of the ox demon is a running headbutt. On any critical hit (a natural 20) they also knock their opponent prone and trample them as an automatic attack.  The prone victim needs 1 combat round to get back on their feet.  The ox demon is not very dexterous and needs a full round to turn around if they wish to attack the same victim twice.  

These demons are slow, dumb, and very materialistic.  They can also be bribed with treasure; at least double or triple what their current treasure hoard is worth (discounting magic items which they have value for).  If this offer is made even the chaotic ox demon will not attack.

Hǔ Yaoguai
Tiger demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6[13]
Hit Dice: 9d8**+9 (50hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 2d8+1
Special: rake (back legs for 1d8+2 x2)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXII [A]
XP: 2,350 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

Hǔ Yaoguai or Tiger demon spirit are among the most violent of all the yaoguai. They appear as tigers with glowing eyes. Their hybrid form reminds one of a weretiger or even a type of Rakshasa; a comparison that both types of fiends abhor.

The tiger demon gleefully attacks with its claws and bite.  A critical hit on a bite attack (natural 20) will result in a pin and the demon can then attack with its hind legs for a rake. A hǔ yaoguai in hybrid form cannot rake.

This demon delights in sowing fear.  Its preferred attack is to seek out remote villages and begin to kill lone travelers.  It will leave the bodies where they can be found to raise the fear levels.  Its ultimate goal is to not just kill as many mortals as it can, but also to get the inhabitants of a village or local so scarred that normal life stops.  Fields are not attended, work ceases in other parts of the village, and so on.  Killing a handful of villagers with claw and bite is satisfying. Killing dozens because there are now not enough crops to feed them is a greater evil. 

Despite their propensity to violence they are a clever demon and will work towards the maximum fear they can.

Shé Yaoguai
Serpent demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8***+16 (52hp)
Attacks: bite + poison
Damage: 1d6, save vs. poison
Special: Poison, summon normal animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XX [C]
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,440 (LL)

Of all the lesser yaoguai the Shé Yaoguai, or Serpent demon spirit, is the most clever. Second only to the Hóu Yaoguai; but never mention that to these evil creatures.  They spend the most time in their animal form as a large constrictor snake with glowing eyes, large fangs, and strange markings on their skin.  They are never confused with normal snakes.  Their hybrid form is that of a large snake with a humanoid torso and arms with a snake's head.

This yaoguai prefers to attack with its bite only.  A critical hit (natural 20) means they have injected a paralytic poison into their victim. The victim needs to save vs. poison or die.  A successful save still infects the victim and they lose 1 point of Dexterity per round. This will affect any attack or armor class of the victim. When they reach 0 Dexterity they are paralyzed permanently unless a Remove or Neutralize Poison spell is cast. If all their victims are defeated then the serpent demon will feast on the corpses and the paralyzed.

Shé yaogaui demons can also summon 10-100 normal snakes, 1-10 poisonous vipers, and 1-10 constrictor snakes.

Among the most evil of these types of demons the Serpent Yaoguai attempt to tempt humans into hedonistic lifestyles where only their own pleasures matter.  To this end, they work through others to provide decadent parties, banquets, and houses of pleasure.

Hóu Yaoguai
Monkey demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 10d8***+10 (55hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Yaoguai abilities
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 10
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXI [B]
XP: 3,000 (OSE) 3,100 (LL)

Hóu Yaoguai, or Monkey demon spirit, are among the most powerful, smartest, and evil of the lesser Yaoguai.  Their animal form is that of a particularly evil-looking monkey looking like a macaque combined with a chimpanzee.  In their hybrid form, they can pass for a hairy human. Given the proper clothing, they can be 90% indistinguishable.

Like all yaoguai, these creatures prefer to attack with their natural weapons. In this case two claws and a bite. Unlike others, there is no special attack by this demon. 

These demons are more subtle than their kindred.  There are no summonings of creatures or deadly diseases. What they can do is summon 2-20 thralls; mercenary humans they have brought over to their causes.  This suits the Hóu Yaoguai well in its chosen area of interest.  The breakup of human-run governments. 

The Hóu Yaoguai will insert itself into a government as a low-level official and work its way up to power where it can influence governors, princes, or even the Emporer.  Its goal is always the same bring as much chaos as it can.  The ultimate goal for any Monkey demon is civil war.

--

Not too bad for a start.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Nøkk

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Ghost Spiders

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

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

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

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


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

Here is one of them.

Ghost Spider

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 7, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Dybbuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Lunar Angels

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

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

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

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

Lunar Angel (Hero Forge)

Angel, Lunar

HeroForge Angel
Large Celestial (Angelic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Wolf-Witch (A Wolfenoot Special)

Happy Wolfenoot Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Ritual: Summon the Spirit of the Wolf

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Fenodyree

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

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

fenodyree
Fenodyree

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

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

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

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

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