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

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Astral Spiders

If you are feeling tired, lethargic, or otherwise drained then you could have been attacked by an Astral Spider.  


As their name suggests these demonic creatures are native to the astral plane, but they are attracted to people with psychic or empathic abilities.  The spider, which is normally invisible, attaches itself to a victim and drains Wisdom at the rate of 1 point per day. The Astral Spider stays attached and draining until it's victim reaches 0 Wisdom. 
Magic that can detect a curse or detect evil creatures can let you know that an Astral Spider is attached to someone or attacking. 

The Astral Spider is immune to physical attacks, including magical and blessed weapons.  They can only be affected by magic.  A specially worded Remove Curse spell will remove an Astral Spider.  A banishment or exorcism will also remove the spider and force it back into the Astral.

Astral Spiders only move in the Astral plane. The only time they are manifest in the real world when attached to a victim and then they do not move. 

Astral Spider
Vermin (Demonic)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement:  Special
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d6+3* (10)
Attacks: 1 special 
Damage: 1 point Widom per day
Special: Immune to physical attacks, affected only by magic
Size: Small
Save: Fighter 3
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125

Astral Spider
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 9
Move: Special (Astral only)
Hit Dice: 3
Special: Wisdom drain. 1 point/day
XP VALUE: 120

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Trolls and Trolla (Troll Week)

Grýlka, ePic Character
It's Troll Week here at the Other Side!

I wanted to start off things with an idea that has been floating around my head for a while now.

Yesterday I mentioned that the "D&D trolls" did not really fit with the trolls I was reading in myths, legends, and fairy tales that often also included witches. The trolls in D&D, of course, were inspired by the ones from the Poul Anderson novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, which also gave us nixies (myths), swanmays/sawn-maidens (also Celtic myth) and the Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment axis (along with Moorcock). 

The trolls I like are bit more like Tom, Bert, and William from the Hobbit, but I am also fond of the mountain trolls from Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter.  

But trolls have a much longer history than that.  
I am not going to get into all the myths and legends of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but I am going to touch on them a bit. 

One of the creatures I always felt was a troll was Grendel from Beowulf. He seems like a troll to me.  Close to human, but monstrous and horrible to behold.  He is described as a "descendent of Cain" but even Tolkien in his version of the tale says he "cannot be dissociated from the creatures of northern myth."  He dislikes the sun and is harried by the sounds of the men singing. 

If Grendel is a troll then what is his mother?  She does seem to be different to be honest.

Robert Zemeckis' version aside, she does appear to be a monster, but of a different sort.   She is described as "aglæc-wif" which is debated by scholars as to its true meaning.  Among the meanings are "monster lady", "devil lady", "ugly troll lady", and "troll wife".

I always felt she was some sort of hag.  It was here reading a kids version of Beowulf in the 5th grade that I first got the idea that male trolls and female trolls might be different sorts of creatures. 


This was turned up to 11 with Robert Lynn Asprin's MythAdventures and his trolls (male) and trollops (female).  Ok in my defense it was the early 80s and I was 10-12.

I have made a couple of different attempts at this over the years.

First was the Makava or Wood Hag. Though her role was more of the wicked witch in the woods. She typically has 2-12 trolls around her home to provide her with physical protection.  They could be her brothers or her sons.

Next was the Trollwife who was something of Troll Hag found in colder areas. She appears in my Winter Witch book.  The oldest known trollwife is Mother Trollwife and she is also a powerful witch.

While both are great and really perfect for what I wanted them to do, they are still not what I was looking for for this concept.

So I had to go to Sweeden.  Not literally of course, but rather in my research.
When doing troll research you go to Norway.  Norwegians love their trolls.  I spent a lot of time reading about Norwegian trolls and these trolls have magic. But myths don't respect borders and many of these tales also spill over into Sweden, Denmark (home of Beowulf) and via more invasions than I can recount right now, England.

But it was Sweden that got my attention.
The Norwegian word for "troll" is "troll."  Nice and easy.
The Danish word for "troll" is "trold." Ok. 
The Swedish word for "troll" is also "troll."
But, "Trolla" in Swedish means "to conjure" or "to enchant."  OK! I can work with this!

There are tales in Swedish folklore of beautiful trolls, or at least beautiful women related to trolls.
All have magic.  So you know where I am going now.

Humanoid (Faerie)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4)
Alignment: Neutral/Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 1d8+2** (6 hp) to 13d8+26** (85)
Attacks: 1 weapon or spell
Damage: 1d8 (or by weapon type) or by spell
Special: Regeneration (1hp per hour), witch spells, vulnerable to silver
Size: Medium/Large
Save: Fighter 1 or Witch 1 to 13
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: Varies
XP: Varies

A Trolla is a type of troll witch.  They are full-blooded trolls, but some magical force causes the trolla to appear as mostly human. Always female, these trolls are both feared and revered in troll society. 
Once a trolla is born, and it is obvious at birth, she will be taken to a nearby human community and left with the humans.  During the trolla's childhood and adolescence, no troll will attack her adoptive village but will be seen on the outskirts as if watching.  The trolla appears to be human in all respects save she is often small and sickly.

Sometime around her 13th birthday, a transformation begins.  The trolla, who has been small her life will begin to grow at a rapid rate. She will within a year be taller than all the other children around her. She will reach her full height at over 6 feet tall. Her previous ill health will be forgotten has her strength and constitution will increase to at least 17 each (if not more). The girl, who always had an impish cuteness about her, will grow into a truly formidable woman.  Even if not "attractive" by the village standards (although she very well could be) she will have a force of personality that makes her fascinating to all. 

It is at this time she must choose her life; human or troll.  Those that choose to remain among the humans can become great warriors for her people, but often do not do more than any other person in her village. 

The ones that choose the life of a troll become truly powerful.  Once the choice is made another transformation begins. Her hair, which had often been blonde or light brown becomes either white or green.  Her skin takes on a green tinge. Horns, which have just been below the skin of her head will grow, as do lower tusks and even a long tail.  It will be at this time the trolla learns of her true gifts, that of troll witchcraft.

Trolla advance as Troll Witches (Faerie, Green, or Winter Tradition) at a level equal to their HD.

Trolla also have the following powers.
  • Regenerate 1 hp per Hour. This can only be done in the dark since trolls are creatures of the dark. Fire and acid wounds cannot be healed this way.
  • Infravision 90'.
  • Witch magic. Trolla are witches. They not only can cast witch spells, but also gain the benefits of a tradition (occult powers) and a coven (ritual magic).
  • Trollspeak. Trolla understands the language of trolls, ogres and other fey creatures.
Also, the have the following drawbacks and restrictions.
  • Heathen. Trolla cannot benefit from healing magic unless it comes from another witch or a cleric of her own religion.
  • Silver weapons always do maximum damage. Wounds from cold iron weapons are treated like fire.
PC and NPC Trolla can become Fighters or Witches.

Grýlka, Trolla Witch
1st level Witch, Green Witch Tradition
Chaotic Neutral

Str: 17
Int: 13
Dex: 14
Wis: 13
Con: 17
Cha: 18

Familiar: Twigblight (neutral)

Spells: Cure Light Wounds

Grýlka is a trolla witch raised among a community of druids. Her adoptive parents knew who and what she was from the time they found her.  Unable to have children of their own they raised her as their own daughter.  When she turned 13 she began her change and her parents told her of her history.
She loved her parents but felt the calling of her troll blood too strongly and too deeply.  She chose to be troll. On her acceptance she was granted a twigblight familiar, a creature normally despised by druids, to guide her into the ways of troll magic.

Grýlka stands 6'3", 6'7" if you measure from the ground to her curving horns.  Her skin is olive-green. Her hair, which was always white, has remained the same as has her green eyes.
She carries a staff of striking +1, a gift from her druid parents.  She discovered that healing magic no longer worked on her and this caused a bit of a panic, so her first spell is Cure Light Wounds.

She is now seeking out others of her kind so she may learn more.


I am going to spend some time with Grýlka all week and see how she fares with all the other trolls we meet this week.

Monday, July 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wendigo

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

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

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


Wendigo

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

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

Monday, July 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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


But as it turns out I have good kobolds covered. 

Knockers are good* kobolds.  

I say good* because good ≠ nice.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Demon Lord, Ahrimanes (BECMI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Monday, June 8, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sea Dragons (BECMI special)

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 1, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Grimlock (BECMI Special)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1960 Morlocks

1978 Morlock

Grimlocks from Charmed

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Cù Sìth and Monster book Progress

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

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

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

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

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

Something that plays like this.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creature Type: Faerie Animal

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

Frequency: Very Rare

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

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

Fairly self-explanatory.

Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)

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

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

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

Armor Class: 7 [12]

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

Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)

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

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

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

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

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

Size: Large

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

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

Save: Monster 4

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

Morale: 12

I really enjoy Basic era style morale.

Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP:

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

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

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

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

Not at all the same is it.

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

How often do you all use the XP line?

So I have ways to go just yet.

Monday, April 27, 2020

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

Been wanting to do this beastie for a while!



The Hodag

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

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

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

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


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

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


Hodag (shadow creature) (Blue Rose)

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

Speed 16
Health 40
Defense 14
Armor Rating 0

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

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack

Threat: Moderate


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Monday, April 20, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Magiphagous Rust Monster

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

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

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


Rust Monster, Magiphagous

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

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

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


Rust Monster, Magiphagous (Fantasy Age and Blue Rose)

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

Speed 14
Health 20
Defense 12
Armor Rating 4

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antennae +4 1d6+2

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Knock Prone

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

Threat: Minor


and for 5e D&D



Rust Monster, Magiphagous

Large monstrosity (magical), unaligned

Armor Class

 
15 (natural armor)

Hit Points

 
52 (7d10 + 14)

Speed

 
40 ft.

STR

14 (+2)
 

DEX

12 (+1)
 

CON

14 (+2)
 

INT

2 (-4)
 

WIS

13 (+1)
 

CHA

6 (-2)

Senses

 
darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages

 

Challenge

 
1 (200 XP)

Magic Scent.

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

Rust Metal.

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

Actions

Bite.

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

Antennae.

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

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