Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts

Monday, October 12, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

I was looking for a change of pace tonight and this one showed up as recommended.  Sure. Why not.

This one turned out to be rather fun to be honest.  Not great, but not bad either.  Kristen Stewart was actually pretty good in it. It was pretty much like every other deep-sea monster movie; man ventures to places where he is not supposed to go, sea monsters attack. 

This one had both "humanoid" sea creatures and a great big mother-like, kaiju creature.  It would not be a stretch to think of her as Mother Hydra from the Dagon myths.  Or even Cthulhu.
There are Cthulhu symbols drawn on the various maps, so there is that.
The director has even said the creature is supposed to be Cthulhu himself, but I think Dagon or Hydra works better.

This only reminds me I need to do a Lovecraft Filmfest one month.

Don't go to this movie looking for great insights or deep plotting.  But if you like sea monsters then this is a fun romp.

It does have T.J. Miller (Deadpool) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) in it as well. So those are pluses.

Watched: 22
New: 14


NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content:  A few notes.

A giant underwater creature is a little harder to pull off in a Night Shift or Old-School game.  But I am still thinking about my cross-generational game.  Maybe there is a London 1968 chapter, an Earth or Mars 2087 chapter (or even Enceladus which could be a vast Ocean), in any case, what is found here in 2087 on an under-water drilling base is a human, or near human, skeleton.  Then this leads to the mission in the 23rd century.  All horror.

So many good ideas really.

Monstrous Monday: Monsters of the Basque

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos” - Francisco Goya

The sleep of reason produces monsters. Or in my case right now the lack of sleep produces monsters.


Yesterday I watched The Baztán Trilogy and it featured, or least talked about, three monsters from the Basque region of Spain. 

While I have seen variations of these creatures from other myths and regions, this was the first time I had seen them under these names. So let's give them a bit love.

Basajaun
Large Monstrous Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Neutral Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam
Damage: 1d6+3, 1d6+3
Special: Stay hidden 95%.
Size: Large
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 525

The Basajaun is a type of large wild man of the forests similar in many respects to the Sasquatch and Yeti.  It also has commonalities with the Wood Wose due to it's more benign and protective nature. They are tall (9') humanoids covered in course black and brown hair. 

The name Basajaun means "Lord of the Woods". The plural is basajaunak and the female of the species is a basander.  They are suspected of building megaliths with their immense strength and keep flocks of sheep.  They are a shy and reclusive species, speaking only their own language, although a few know the local languages.  They are averse to fighting but will protect their lands if necessary. 

They can avoid being spotted 95% of the time. Often they are just confused for a large bear.  They can be recognized though by the whistling they do to communicate with others of it's kind.


By Luistxo eta Marije
originally posted to Flickr as
Izenaduba-Olentzeroren etxea
CC BY-SA 2.0

Tartalo
Large Fiendish Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+4, 1d6+4 or 1d10
Special: Magic required to hit, evil eye
Size: Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 660

The tartalo is another large creature found in the Basque region of Northern Spain. It appears as a cyclops or as a one-eyed ogre. It has a fiendish glint in it's one large eye.  Many scholars of the occult believe they are connected to demons, either by birth or by actions.

The tartalo lives alone in caves. They are 10' tall and only speak in simple grunts. They do seem to be intelligent, it is just speech is beyond them. Only males have ever been spotted leading scholars to conclude they seek out young maidens as their "wives."  

Anyone wandering into the cave of the tartalo runs the danger of becoming the monster's next meal.  They prefer the taste of young men and women, especially ones that have not been baptized (or dedicated to a god).  Their tactic is to use their "evil eye" to stun (treat as a Hold Person spell) their victims. They will kill and eat any young men and anyone over marriage age.  They will keep the young unmarried women to birth their monstrous sons.  These women when then also be killed and eaten.

The only treasure a tartalo has is a fine wrought golden ring.  The ring is a curse and anyone wearing it will be known to any other tartalo in the region and they will seek the wearer out to kill them. 


Inguma
Small Fiend (Demon)
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 12d8+12* (66 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws, nightmares
Damage: 1d4, 1d4 or 1d10
Special: Magic or +2 weapons required to hit, cause fear, nightmares, ability drain
Size: Small*
Save: Monster 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 1,900

Inguma is a demonic lord of sleep and dreams. He is believed to create incubi and can give his followers riches if they give him his preferred sacrifices, that of baby girls before two years of age.  He commands a small sect of Mara Witches.

Though small, he is a powerful demonic lord.  He can cast Fear and Nightmare three times per night. His physical attacks are weak, but he can gain entrance into the minds of sleepers, save vs. death to avoid. Once there he will invade the dreams and learn all the victim's secrets. Their sleep is disrupted so they can't heal normally nor will spellcaster regain their spells. By the third night of the invasion, the victim begins to lose Constitution points at the rate of 1 per night.  Only an exorcism (cleric) or cleanse (witch) spell will remove the influence of Inguma.  Often Inguma forces his victims into suicide long before they succumb to his draining effects. Each night the victim must make a save vs. death. A failed save means they will kill themselves.

Inguma rarely takes physical form. When he does magic is required to attack him. When he does manifest it is always as what the viewer fears the most.

It is believed that Inguma is the father, or at least the ancestor and patron, of the Tartalo and possibly the Imps of the Perverse. Some incubi revere him as their lord. 

Basque Mara witches see him as their lord and patron and will offer sacrifices to him. He rewards them with riches.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Baztán Trilogy

Spent the day watching all the movies of the Baztán Trilogy today. I had plans, but these movies sucked me in.  I debated whether or not they count as horror.  They are typical police murder dramas on the surface. But beyond that they feature child sacrifice, ancient witch cults, good vs evil, mind control, and at least three different mythological monsters that were all (mostly) new to me.  So yeah, I am going to call it horror.

The Invisible Guardian (2017)

This is the first of the trilogy.  The story takes place in Baztan, Navarre in the Basque region of Spain near France. It is a lovely, picturesque countryside and one is immediately reminded of such folk horror movies like "The Wicker Man."  Like The Wicker Man, this area is steeped in ancient superstitions and folklore and this plays into these stories. 

The story focuses on inspector Amaia Salazar.  She is the chief homicide inspector and is investigating the murder of a 13-year girl.  During the investigation, she has to return to home town and deal with her sisters.  Amaia left years ago to join the FBI and there is an obvious rift between her and her family.  This rift is investigated and how it relates to her case.  Soon more girls turn up murdered and the killer is dubbed "El Basajaún", named for a forest creature from the region. 

During the investigation, there is an obvious occult connection, but one that does not become obvious right away.

There are a lot of questions, even when the murderer is discovered.  One is, is Basajaún real?  We hear it's weird whistling in the forest in the mountains. Something pulls Inspector Salazar from her car wreck.  Something directs the detectives to the cave where tons of human bones are. And we catch a glimpse of something large and hairy in the distance. 

The Legacy of the Bones (2019)

It's a year or so later and Amaia Salazar has a new baby boy and is drawn back to Baztan where there is a string of unrelated suicides. Unrelated save they all ask for her before they kill themselves and they leave a word behind, usually scrawled in the victims on blood, Tartalo; another monster from the Basque region that may have had something to do with the local witchcraft covens.

We also learn more about Amaia's relationship with her institutionalized mother who tried to kill her on several occasions when she was a girl. Likely part of the reason she left the family to live in America for a while. 

The movie focuses on the bones found in the local cave and how there has been a long history of cult-like killings. 

Amaia also gets closer to a local judge while her American husband is pushed further away.   

The climax comes when Amaia's mother escapes a clinic run by the Opus Dei.  She kidnaps her grandson, thinking it is a granddaughter, to sacrifice "her."   Amaia stops her by pointing out it that it is a boy that ruins the sacrifice. 

Her mother manages to escape and everyone, save Amaia, thinks she drowns in the flood.

Offering to the Storm (2020)

The final chapter ties together all sorts of plot threads.  Amaia is having an affair with Judge Juez Markina.  More murdered baby girls are turning up and they all seem to lead back to a single house in the country.  A house where Amaia's mother used to frequent with other women.   Sound like a witch cult? Yeah. It does.  And the similarities don't end there.  The members of the cult will make a sacrifice and then become very rich. The ones that don't have their lives destroyed.  

We learn that the children, all baby girls, were sacrificed to a demon named Inguma.  A demon that causes nightmares and kills babies in their sleep.  Dismissed today as a way to explain crib death.

In the process, Amaia learns that she had a twin sister who must have been sacrificed as a baby. Her bones were discovered in the cave from the first movie.  There are all sorts of other spooky things going on that would be a spoiler to share, but suffice to say that the Basque Witch cult that everyone talks about in the past tense in this movie is very much a current thing. 

Amaia hunts down members of the cult and learns her mother was an active member and she was supposed to be a sacrifice herself.  Also, the girls killed in the first movie were girls who were supposed to have been killed as babies. 

The movies are good on their own, but like the Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) they are better as a series.  Also, like the Millennium series, it shows that the evilest monsters are humans.

Watched: 18
New: 12

I am starting my next movie now, so I will post something for Monstrous Monday tomorrow.






Sunday, September 20, 2020

Week of Shadow Begins Today

The Autumn Equinox draws near.  Today we have slightly more light during the 24 period than tomorrow.  On Tuesday this all changes and we begin that slow descent to the Dark.

This week I am going to be looking at and doing reviews on the Shadow Fey, Shadow Elves, and other creatures of shadow.  


Think of it as my prep for Halloween!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Apple Tree Man

It might still be August, but tomorrow is September and for my family, that means trips to the apple orchards. 

Apple Tree Man

Apple Tree Man © Andy Paciorek

Large Fae

Frequency: Very Rare (Unique per orchard)
Number Appearing: 0 (1)
Alignment: Neutral (Neutral Good)
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 3 [16] (should always sum to 19)
Hit Dice: 10d8+10* (55 hp)
Attacks: 2 limbs (bash)
Damage: 1d8+1, 1d8+1
Special: Double damage from fire and cold iron, immune to charm, hold and sleep spells. Awaken trees.
Size: Large 
Save: Monster 11
Morale: 11
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 2,400

Similar to treants, the Apple Tree Man is an ancient fae that lives in orchards. They are often the oldest apple tree in the orchard. It is not completely clear if these creatures are fae that have become tree-like or a tree that has awakened.  It could even be that the spirit of the apple tree man is present in the oldest tree in the orchard and he passes from orchard to orchard making him effectively immortal and unique.

The Apple Tree Man will not attack unless provoked or if his orchard is in peril. 

The Epimēlides (q.v), dryads of apple trees, are considered to be his daughters and granddaughters.  He can summon 2 to 8 (2d4) Epimēlides to aid him in protecting the orchards.  Additionally, he can "awaken" 1-4 (1d4) normal apple trees to fight as 6HD Treants to fight.

If a party though respects the orchard, does not harm any trees, and only eats the apples they need, the Apple Tree Man will be obliged to show them the quickest path out of the orchard.   

If they offer him hard apple cider, especially cider made for Apple Wassailing, then the Apple Tree Man will tell the party where they can find buried gold in the orchard. Usually 1d6x100 gp worth.

If a witch is present then the Apple Tree Man will hide their tracks and make the party undetectable by foes.  A witch may also be gifted a special apple wand that will cast one 1st level spell just once. The wand can be used later for other magics if desired. 

The Apple Tree Man will appear as a treant with apples growing from his hair, an old man or some combination of the two.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Gladyolus

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

No kidding.

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

Here is one of them!

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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

This is going to be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OMG: Central American Mythos

One Man's God: Central American Mythos

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a perfect witch goddess to me!

What is Missing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, May 4, 2020

Upcoming Projects from The Other Side: Warlocks, Monsters, More Basic, and the LAST Witch Book

Well. April was kind of crazy.

I thought I take a moment to catch my breath and discuss some future projects here at the Other Side.

The Warlock
First up, I want to get the POD version of The Warlock out to you all. I am going to try for softcover and hardcover options. That way they can fit into whatever collection you like.
The printing is a little slow at DriveThru at the moment, so as soon as I get the proofs I'll get them up to you all.

Once I get that done I am going to release another Warlock book, this time for 5th Edition D&D.  No set date on that right now, but optimistically this Summer.

BECMI Month
Another big project I am starting now but won't start to roll out till June is my month-long overview of the ONLY D&D I never really played; BECMI.  I am going to spend roughly a week on each boxed set. Doing detailed reviews, overviews, and related topics. It should be fairly enlightening for me and I hope you all enjoy it.  I am looking forward to learning something new about this system.


If you know of anything BECMI related you think I should cover, let me know!

Monsters
Another project with no specific date in mind yet is the book-form of my Monstrous Mondays' posts.
The posts have been in a variety of formats and systems over the years, so I think I am going to opt to do this book to be compatible with "Advanced era" gaming, or some Basic/Advance hybrid.  So not really OSRIC compatible and not really Advanced Labyrinth Lord compatible, but something of an OGC combination of the two.  Much like how my Basic Witch is not designed for any single system, but an amalgam of Basic-era OGC.

So this would not be a simple "copy and paste" deal, I would want to rework all the monsters to fit the Advanced play better.  My goal is to have a book that would sit next to my Monster Manuals and Fiend Folio and play just like them.


Still workshoping names, but I think my own OCD requires that the name be an alliteration.

In truth, I am looking forward to trying out a "new" system for a change.

The High Secret Order: The Book of High Witchcraft
Ah. Now this one is a big one for me.  Why? Well. I am going to use this to get back to the witch class I was playing circa 1986, the dawn of my fully realized witch.  But more importantly, this will very likely be my last of the Old-School Witch books.
While I wanted this book to be the last of my Back to Basic books, this one might also need to be an Advanced Era book. Or some mix. I am not sure yet.

No date on this one either.  But this one will include the High Secret Order Witches, the Academic Warlock (with expanded Secret Masters of the Invisible College Lodge),  Hermetic Wizards and more.
I am also going to finally get my spell creation rules into one place, the same ones I have been using for years since the goals of the High Secret Order and the Invisible College is to create more magic.

This book, along with the monster book above, will represent my transition period from Basic-era to Advanced-era.   I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

The Books of the D_____
This is a brand new project. 100% Advanced-era with maybe parallel versions for 5th Edition.  Don't want to say to much about these just yet but they represent a new direction in my writing and I can't wait to get started on them.

So. I have enough to keep me busy for some time to come now.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: How Much for a Book?

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

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

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

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

That's more than the Monster Manual had.

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



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

The biggest issues are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: More Monster Book Reviews

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Bánánach for OSE

Working on all sorts of things, mostly getting my bits of Night Shift done and a TON of day job stuff.

I wanted to get The Pagan Witch out to you all soon, and I still might, it is done, minus some little bits. Here is something in the mean time.

Bánánach
Semi-transparent spectres of witches that haunt battlefields or other areas of great violence.
AC 3 [16], HD 5** (18hp), Att 1 × touch (1d6 +ability drain), THAC0 15 [+4], MV 120’ (40’) / 240’ (80’) flying, SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (5), ML 12, AL Chaotic, XP 175, NA 1d4 (1d6), TT None

▶ Undead: Make no noise, until they attack. Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep).
▶ Mundane weapon immunity: Only harmed by silver weapons or magic.
▶ Damage reduction: Half damage from silver weapons.
▶ Energy drain: A successfully hit target permanently loses one point of Wisdom. This incurs a loss of all other benefits due to the drained ability (e.g. spells, saving throws, etc.). A person drained of all Wisdom becomes a wraith in one day, under the control of the bánánach that killed him or her.

A bánánach is the specter of a witch.  They are attracted to areas of great death and suffering.  They can be seen flying about the areas of death.  They drain the willpower of those she attacks. 
They are often accompanied by 2-3 wraiths.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Painted Minis Edition

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

First up, a blue dragon.







And, my favorite, a Demogorgon!







Here's to new monsters in 2020!
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