Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Featured Artist: Dean Spencer

What?  Another Featured Artist so soon? Yes!  I have been planning to share my love of Dean Spenser's art for a while.  He has a sale going on on DriveThruRPG now, so this seems like the best time.

If you have seen my Warlock or Winter Witch books then you have seen Dean Spenser's art.






My next one to use is this.


Can't wait for that one!

And he has more.



You can find Dean and his art at:



Monday, June 10, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Keres, Daughters of the Night

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

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

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

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


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Featured Artist: Djinninthebox

I am very pleased to present another Featured Artist!

Today I have Hera, also known as Djinninthebox and Djinnintheshade.  She is an artist and gamer (only old school D&D for her!) and has been doing some great work.

Here she is in her own words:
For the bio... I'm Djinn, a italian girl. I'm a professional animator who loves rpg and draw a lot. I draw anything I play: characters, maps, heraldry, and I really love to draw NSFW stuff... so I'm developing a Fantasy Erotic Comic!
Here is some of her Safe for my Blog works.

She did one for me of my witch Larina.

My witch Larina!

She also does a lot of her own original character, Solaine,  from her current D&D game.
Here is what she says about Solaine:
Let me introduce you to Solaine, my D&D character: a young sorceress forced to hide her powers from the eyes of an oppressor kingdom, behind the innocent image of an educated librarian. Thanks o my costantly patient and creative DM, I play Solaine in a long homebrew campaign, soaked of intrigues, adventures, emotions, blood and love... ...or is she play me?




And many others









Check out her sites at:

Here commissions are currently closed, but she should open up again soon.

You can find Djinn on the web at:

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

Hades and Pluto and Orcus and Dīs Pater

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

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

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

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

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

Vanth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vanth

Tuchulcha


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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

AD&D First Edition Collector's Books Print on Demand

Speaking of print on demand, I got something else in the mail this week.


The Holy Trinity of AD&D from DriveThruRPG Print on Demand.

These are of course the newer collector's edition covers and honestly, they look great.  As you can see from the pictures these are glossy covers and not the matte finish of the ones you could get in the stores.


Also, there is no ribbon bookmark, no embossed covers, and no gilded pages.




But these POD versions are also slightly bigger than the reprints and the paper is a bit thicker.


The price was great with the sale and I ended up paying about as much for these as I did for my originals back in the 80s.



I was getting these to give as a gift to a friend and I wanted to see how they would turn out.
In truth, I am very, very pleased with these and find I want to keep them! (but I won't).

You really have to hand it to WotC and DriveThru, it has never ever been easier to get books and materials for ANY version of D&D you like.

I would not mind seeing a softcover version of the Player's Handbook to be honest.  Something like the Fiend Folio softcover they have. A little bit cheaper to buy multiple copies of to have an AD&D 1st Ed Start-Up set.  A DMG, a Monster Manual and five PHBs for one price. 

For some reason, I forgot to get a copy of Unearthed Arcana, so I ordered it now.

You can get yours here:

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games in Print

It took me a while (work and a couple of dumb mistakes in editing) but my latest book is now out in print!

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games


It looks great and even better when paired with the Witch for Basic Era Games.


100% compatible with that book.  Also compatible with my Swords & Wizardry line of books.



I will share some details about the books so you can see things like spell overlap (spoiler: some version of Bestow Curse appears in every book).

I will send out codes for a discounted print copy for people who already bought the PDF.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Gargantua Demons

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

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

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

Orcus with a Gargantua

Gargantua

Gargantuan outsider (demon [Calabim]), chaotic evil

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

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

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

Special Traits


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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