Monday, October 16, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Alp

"Nachtmahr" ("Night-mare"), by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802), depicts an Alp sitting on the sleeper's chest, with a mara staring through the background.
 Today is the Feast of Saint Gall (October 16), and anyone born three days prior (October 13) risks becoming an Alp.  Depending on who you ask, an Alp is an undead spirit, a crouching demon (a crouching spirit) like an incubus, something like a night hag, a satyr, or an elf. Or somehow all of the above.

"Alp" is related to the old German word for Elf and Alf. It is believed they could cause nightmares in the form of "Alpdruck" (literally 'elf-oppression') or "Alptraum" ('elf-dream') and even a form of bewitchment, "der alp trieget mich" ('the elf is deceiving me'). They were believed to do the bidding of witches. 

This is all fine for folklore, stories, myths, and legends. But for a monster for AD&D I need to categorize somehow (remember my first rule) AND be a monster that these hypothetical people would have feared (Rule #4).

So what sort of monster is the Alp that fits into AD&D and reflects a monster people would have feared.

MOVE: 18" / 24"
HIT DICE: 6+6 (33 hp)
% IN LAIR: 0%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 Claw or Energy Drain / Suffocate 
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Energy Drain, Suffocate
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +1 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: S (3-4')

The Alp is a type of undead fae. It appears to be a small imp-like creature, but it is invisible most times.  It enters a home to feed on sleeping people inside.  It sits on the chest of a victim and suffocates them. This attack drains 1 point of Constitution per night. Anyone brought down to 0 Con dies with no chance of resurrection. If a cleric can stop these attacks, usually via an Exorcism or Holy Word spell, they can restore the victims' constitution (a Restoration spell).

The alp's attack is so similar to that of an incubus or a night hag that it is difficult to determine what creature is actually attacking the victim. 

These creatures can only be attacked while they are feeding. They are turned as Wraiths.  Those drained by the Alp will return as Wraiths. They are not controlled by the Alp and have their own agendas. As undead, they are immune to Charm, Hold, and Sleep spells. They can be warded off with holy symbols and take damage from holy water. Wearing a holy symbol or draping one over a bedpost will deter their attacks. 

During the daylight hours, an alp can disguise itself as a normal animal, albeit with a cruel and unsavory mien. It can change into a cat, dog, pig, or small horse. All these animals will have a patch of white fur on them. It can be attacked like this, but it will typically avoid these attacks and run away. Any animal that takes more than the average amount of damage and does not die is often suspected of being an alp. It can attack with a claw for 1d4 hp of damage when pressed. Regardless of their form or time of day, the alp moves fast and can also fly.

People born on October 13th can always see these creatures, even when they are invisible. They are also the ones most likely to be targeted by these creatures.

A house with a guardian spirit, such as a Brownie, will keep these creatures at bay. It is believed that the Alp was initially related to the Brownie in life. 


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