Showing posts with label Monstrous Mondays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monstrous Mondays. Show all posts

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Aglæca

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæca
Large Humanoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aglæc-wif
Medium Humanoid

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, February 15, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Buer, The Great President of Hell

Today is President's Day. Since we just got rid of the President from Hell, let's talk about a President of Hell. One of the things that I always found interesting reading demonology texts was the term President of Hell. One, in particular, is the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, The False Monarchy of Demons.  

One of the first Presidents mentioned was Buer.  Here is what is said about him.

Buer is a great president, and is seene in this signe [*]; he absolutelie teacheth philosophie morall and naturall, and also logicke, and the vertue of herbes: he giveth the best familiars, he can heale all diseases, speciallie of men, and reigneth over fiftie legions.

Kind of cool really. In this case, a President is someone that runs a government. The Pseudomonarchia Daemonum lists 14 such Presidents. How they fit into the Gygaxian vision of the Nine Hells and the Archdukes remains to be figured out; likely two presidents per layer of hell. 

Buer also appears as a President in the Ars Goetia of The Lesser Key of Solomon.  

Buer then would be classified as a devil in the Gygaxian taxonomy. 

Buer

Buer a Great President of Hell
President of Hell
Large Fiend (Diabolic)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Centuar: 180' (60') [18"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 15d8***+45 (113 hp)
  HD (Large): 15d10***+45 (128 hp)
Attacks: trample, bite, spells
Damage: 1d6+2 x5, 1d8+2
Special: Devil abilities, spell casting
Size: Large
Save: Monster 16
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXI [B] x3
XP: 4,200 (OSE) 4,350 (LL)

Buer is a great President of Hell. He controls fifty legions of demons (a legion is 6,000 demons).  He will appear to mortals as a great red centaur. His true form is that of a lion's head with five goat legs radiating from this central head.  His whole body is aflame.  

Buer can cast spells as if he was a 13th level magic-user.  He can cast any spell dealing with fire (produce flame, fireball, etc) twice per day with additional memorization needed. 

He is a great patron of witches and warlocks, in particular warlocks.  The familiars he grants can heal their warlocks once per day for 1d6+ hp of damage and cure disease once per week. 

The Great Seal of Buer

Buer is summoned by demonologists and malefic witches for his knowledge on logic, moral philosophy, and the sciences, of which he is particularly knowledgeable on.  He can grant a familiar to those that summon him.  These will be imps but can appear as a natural animal.  These familiars will work to bring their master to greater and great acts of evil.  If the magic-user (or witch or warlock) dies while they have this familiar their souls will be sent to Hell where the familiar becomes the new Master and tortures the former magic-user for eternity

--

So a few things I have to consider.  Buer is a President, one of 14. I need to figure out which ones go where.  I am still thinking two per levels 2 to 8, with none for the 1st and 9th levels.  I also want to come up with new names for the levels and the rulers, more or less.

Now I know that Buer was featured in Dragon Magazine's famous "The Nine Hells Revisited, Part 1 and 2" and there is some written about him there. While it is all good stuff, I want to reorganize these as I like. 

I am certainly going to do a lot more with thses.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Yaoguai

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Yaoguai

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

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

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

Lesser Yaoguai also all have the following powers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

Not too bad for a start.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Amphicyon, the Bear-Dog (Memory and the Mandela Effect)

I am sure by now many of my readers are familiar with the "Mandela Effect" or a large collective false memory effect OR example of how we, or some of us, switched over to a parallel universe.  It is named this because there are some people that "remember" that Nelson Mandela had died in a South African prison and did not later become the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa. 

There plenty of people that claim that the comic Sinbad was a genie in a movie called "Shazam" (and not the similar "Kazaam" from Shaq) or The Berenstein Bears was a book series and not The Berenstain Bears.

While it might be fun to explore the whole parallel universe or our world as a simulation narrative to all of this, that doesn't interest me as much as the truth; the collective false memories people have.  I did my Master's Thesis on Long-term memory activation, my first Doctoral Dissertation was on information processing cognition and memory.  I find memory to be a fascinating topic.  I don't want to claim to be an expert in this, but I am well informed and have done plenty of original, published scientific research on it.

So when I fall "victim" to the Mandela Effect myself, I pay attention.

At this point, you might be asking what does all of this have to do with Monstrous Monday? Well simply put, I have a creature in my memory that none of the rest of you have.

Let's go back a bit to 2002.  My oldest son was a baby, my youngest had not yet been born.  We would go to the library and pick up DVDs to watch.  One of my son's favorite was Ice Age. I have talked here before about how his love of prehistoric beasts, especially sea creatures, had been an influence on him getting into D&D.  Well this was before D&D and before his love of dragons.  I think I watched Ice Age a hundred times with him back then.  The disc we got also had a special "behind the scenes/making of" section that I would watch as well.  This section talked about all the characters that were in the movie; Manny, Sid, Diego, Scrat, and one other.  This other character was an Amphicyon or a bear-dog. They showed how the character was designed and even rough cuts of the character and a draft of the poster featuring this other character.  I remember telling my wife about it one day after we had returned the DVD to the library.

Fast forward a couple of years and we get the DVD, but no behind the scenes feature on it.  Hmm.  No problem I think, I'll just grab it from the library again.  Well, this stretches into a long period of time and I never grabbed it until a few years back.  I liked the creature and used it in a couple of games. I rewatched the DVD behind the scenes and...nothing.  No Amphicyon, no bear-dog, nothing at all.  I searched online. Nothing.  I asked my wife. She didn't remember it.  I have a very distinct memory of this short and this character.

But it never happened.

I know that over the years I have constructed and reconstructed the memory.  Memory is not a hard drive where things are stored unaltered.  We encode our memories with our surroundings; like how a smell or a song will trigger a memory, or in the case of my research in the 90s, how a word can affect which memories are retrieved.  For me, I know how my memories were altered.  At this time (2001 to 2005) I was suffering a fairly major bout of deep depression.  I have studied the effects of depression on memory.  I know what can happen.  Yet here I am, 2020, searching on the Internet for a character I *know* did not exist, but somehow I am still not 100% convinced I am wrong. (I am wrong, I know this logically)

BUT that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with this.

Amphicyon

Amphicyon-ingens reconstruction
aka Bear-Dog
Large Beast (Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Swim: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8 (44 hp); 
  Alternate (Large) 8d10+8 (52 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d10+1
Special: Swimming, Omnivore
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 8
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 650 (B/X, OSE), 640 (LL)

The Amphicyon, or bear-dog, is a large prehistoric mammal that is the forerunner of all modern canines and bears. It was active some 16.9 million years ago and died out 2.6 million years ago.  

The creature appears as a large bear, 8 to 9 ft. in length and weighing 1,300 to 1,400 pounds.  Its muzzle is more wolf-like than bear-like as are it's teeth and jaw.  

Unlike wolves and modern canines, the amphicyon is more of a solitary creature. Groups greater than one and up to four are family units consisting of a mother and her cubs. Also like bears, the amphicyon is a carnivore but can survive on an omnivorous diet.  Amphicyons are good if slow, swimmers and will make a diet of fish when they can.

Generally, the amphicyon will avoid contact with humanoids, but it can attack with a claw, claw, bite routine. 

Lycanthrope, Were-Amphicyonidae
Medium Humanoid (Shapeshifter, Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 9d8*+18 (59 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite, or by weapon
Damage: 1d4+2 x2, 1d8+2
Special: Shapechange, harmed by silver
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class:
C (XX)
XP: 1,600 (B/X, OSE), 1,700 (LL)

Amphicyonidae Lycanthropes are similar to werebears and werewolves, likely the forerunner to both types of creatures. Like all lycanthropes, the were-amphicyonidae can shift between an animal form (an amphicyon), a human, and a hybrid creature. These lycanthropes though are found exclusively among prehistoric humans like cavemen and Neanderthals, and almost exclusively in colder climates.

Were-Amphicyonidae are affected by the phases of the full moon as are werebears and werewolves.  Like werebears they retain some human intelligence, though a primitive intelligence focused on survival.

The first were-amphicyonidae, and indeed, among the first lycanthropes ever, were shamans that had mastered the abilities of shape-shifting long before there were druids, clerics, or even witches. They passed their gift on to others and now all that remains of the great shamans of old are these creatures.

In combat, the were-amphicyonidae fight with a claw, claw bite routine. They cannot "hug" as a werebear can.   They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons.  Their bite can transmit the lycanthropy curse but only Neanderthals will become were-amphicyonidae. Normal humans will become werebears (lawful and neutral) or werewolves (chaotic) depending on their alignment. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Nøkk

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Ghost Spiders

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

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

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

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


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

Here is one of them.

Ghost Spider

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 7, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Dybbuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Lunar Angels

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

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

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

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

Lunar Angel (Hero Forge)

Angel, Lunar

HeroForge Angel
Large Celestial (Angelic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Wolf-Witch (A Wolfenoot Special)

Happy Wolfenoot Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Ritual: Summon the Spirit of the Wolf

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Daughters of Iggwilv

image of Drelnza holding Daoud's Lantern
It's Tasha's Week of Everything this week here at the Other Side.  So I thought I'd start Monstrous Mondays with a monster that has been suggested to me over the years.

Today's monster comes from a variety of sources. First, there is Iggwilv-Louhi connection that I talked about it in the Finish Mythos.  Louhi, despite being an old witch is said to have lovely maiden daughters that the heroes often seek out.  By extension shouldn't Iggwilv have some daughters too?

If we go with "yes" (and I always go with yes) then there are two issues, what are they like and who is the father.  Let's go with the father question first.  Among the candidates of "people" she has been involved with include the Demon Prince Fraz-Urb'luu, the half-demon Arch-Mage Tsojcanth, the wizard Zagig Yragerne, even Mordenkainen himself is a possibility and of course the Demon Prince Graz'zt.

We know all about Iggwilv's love affair with Graz'zt.  We know from other sources, chiefly the Gygax Greyhawk novels, that Iuz is the offspring of Iggwilv and Graz'zt.  Or maybe not. In the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting entry for Iuz it is suggested that he is "some by-blow of Orcus."  I personally liked the idea that Orcus had mortal agents in the world.  While this idea was later dropped it became an element of the Forgotten Realms, where I think it works out a little better.  But it still is a tantalizing idea.  

While Louhi might have daughters known as "the Maidens of Pohjola" I am not expecting Iggwilv's daughters to be so innocent. Her only other daughter, Drelnza, was a vampire, described as a "false Disney Princess" (she is not the damsel in distress, she is the monster), and most certainly not the offspring of Graz'zt.  Going back to the Louhi/Lovitar connection for a bit, Lovitar is known as the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Nine is a good number.

Iggwilv taken to Orcus
I think I have something.

When Iggwilv was defeated by Graz'zt the former master was now the slave.  Graz'zt had intended to keep the fallen Witch Queen in the Abyss to have her suffer an eternity of imprisonment as she had kept him.  Iggwilv however was more clever than the Demon Prince knew and soon she went from prisoner to consort, to confidant to his main advisor.  While she was rising in the ranks of Graz'zt courts she was "traded" to the Demon Prince Orcus over a loss Graz'zt had suffered at the hands of the Demon Prince of undead.  

Taken from Azzagrat in chains she arrived in Thanatos at the feet of the Lord of Undead to serve a tredecim (13 years) of service between CY 503 and CY 516.

Enraged, Iggwilv plotted revenge on both Graz'zt and Orcus.  Her carefully constructed lies and seductions learned from Fraz-Urb'luu that were so effective on Graz'zt held no sway on Orcus. Save for the occasional bit of violence Orcus showed no interest in the Witch Queen other than to deprive Graz'zt of her.  Within that century though Iggwilv gave birth to nine daughters that she was able to keep secret from both Orcus and Graz'zt.  These nine daughters were all of the same fierce, dark beauty as their mother, but had the taint of undeath like their father.  In secret, Iggwilv taught her daughters the ways of witchcraft and fashioned Abyssal weapons for each of them.  Once they were grown their curse of undeath took hold and they became something akin to vampires. Iggwilv sent them into the world to cause as much havoc and chaos as they could and, most importantly act against the designs and will of both Graz'zt and Orcus.

Noidan Tytär
Noidan Tytär
Medium Undead (Demonic)
Frequency: Unique (only 9 are known to exist)
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
  Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: -4 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+42**** (105 hp)
Attacks: by special weapon, claw/claw, or by magic or special
Damage: 1d10+6, 1d4+4 x2, special
Special: Magic required to hit (+2 or better), Vampire abilities, Witch spells, Undead
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 14
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
Special, see below
XP: 5,150

The Noidan Tytär, or Daughters of the Witch, are a unique group of undead demonically spawned creatures.  These creatures, as beautiful as they are powerful, evil and deadly, are thankfully very, very rare. In fact, only nine are known to exist.  Thankfully they also never work together by order of their mother the Witch Queen. 

Each of the Noidan Tytär is a skilled fighter and possesses both superior arms and armor. Typically magical plate mail of etherealness +2, and a bastard vorpal sword +2 that they wield with one hand due to their preternatural strength. 

In addition to their fighting ability, the Noidan Tytär are also undead akin to vampires. Magic is required to hit them and they are immune to charm, hold and sleep magic as well as any mind-affecting magics. Unlike vampires, they do not require blood to survive but drain the life energy (Constitution points) at the rate of 2 points per touch.  They can go long periods without feeding but it will cause them to go into a deep stupor until a victim can be found.  They can not enter a personal dwelling or holy/blessed land like a vampire and holy items can keep them at bay and cause damage.  They are however immune to the effects of garlic. A stake through the heart will destroy them, but if the stake is removed they will reform in one round.  They can become gaseous, but cannot assume the shapes of animals.  They can fly as per the spell.

They can be Turned as Special (14 HD) by a cleric of high enough level. Any result of a D only discorporates them until the next new moon.  The only way to truly destroy them is stake them, remove their head, and burn both the body and head in separate pyres.  An exorcism or cleanse spell must then be used to force their spirits back to the Abyss. 

Additionally, each Noidan Tytär can cast spells as a 7th level witch of the Mara Tradition. 

The Noidan Tytär are often used as mercenaries for powerful chaotic rulers, demon lords, and evil cults. Secretly they work to undo the efforts of Graz'zt and Orcus.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Fenodyree

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

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

fenodyree
Fenodyree

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Alraune

Another one I have been playing around with for a bit.  The final product was not what I was going for originally, but I like what I came up with.  Doing research on the demonic offspring of witches. I played around with Aludemons, Alrunes, even Agrat Bat Mahlat.  

My research will come up with something closer to what I was looking for, but until then here is a nice low-level monster for you to use.

witch woman in forest
Art by Karen Nadine
Alraune
Medium Humanoid (Demonic)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3* (64 hp)
Attacks: NA
Damage: NA, or by spell
Special: Charm x3, Witch spells (3rd level), damaged by holy weapons
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 8 
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 75

The Alraune is born of the unnatural union of a witch and a specially procured and enchanted mandrake root. 

The witch must find the place where a murderer was hung to death.  It is believed that the "final power" of the hanged man would fall to the ground below him.  The witch must come by night and there dig up up the mandrake root that has grown from this final power.  If she can do this by the new moon then all the better.

The witch then takes the mandrake and applying certain alchemical elements and demonic rituals, he will make a lover for herself in the shape of the dead man.  The man/mandrake will then impregnate her his demonic seed. The mandrake creature is mindless and serves only one purpose.  By the light of the morning sun, he will wither and die.

What is born then after the normal amount of time is the Alraune.  The child, who is always a girl, will grow quickly (three days) into young adulthood.  The witch will then set her new demonic daughter loose to wreck chaos.  

The Alraune is always beautiful and smells of sweet flowers. She has a natural charm ability that she can use 3 times per day as if she were a witch of the 3rd level. The creature has no soul, nor any sense of morality.  She will seduce faithful husbands to destroy their marriages, disrupt any village she is left in, inspire envy and jealousy in all that see her.  She will avoid anyone she perceives as stronger or more powerful than herself. If the tide of the village goes against her she will attempt to escape. Most often they end up sharing the fates of their mothers; on the stake and pyre.

The Alraune does not attack with physical attacks or weapons. She will instead rely on her natural charm ability. If pressed she can use witch spells as a 3rd level witch of the Mara or Demonic traditions. Alraunes take double damage from holy or blessed items. Holy water does 1d4 hp of damage to them and burns like acid on their skin.

Alraunes, by custom, are often named after flowers.

Special: Once in a great while a witch will birth two alraunes at once, twin girls.  When this occurs one will be exceptionally evil and the other, while not good exactly, is not dedicated to evil. The witch will not know which is which until they become older.  It is believed that if the evil twin is killed the "good" twin will be free and even gain a soul. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Hyrrokkin Hag

Here is one I have been playing around with for a while now.  I am converting her from my d20 3.5 stats, so I hope it works out. 

Here is a monster that combines two great tastes that go great together, Norse Mythology and Werewolves.  Plus after watching some werewolf movies last night (and one tonight) it would be fun. 

Hag, Hyrrokkin

Large Fey (Hag)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Wolf form: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+24** (64 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws or bite or spells
Damage: 1d8+4 x2 or 1d8+2 or by spell
Special: Witch spells (7th level), werewolf shape, damaged by silver
Size: Large
Save: Witch 8
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: VII (but no silver)
XP: 1,750

The Hyrrokkin Hags are believed to be the offspring of the great Jotun witch Hyrrokkin.  They can be identified by their pale skin, yellow eyes, and yellow hair.  They stand close to 9 ft. tall and are extremely strong (Strength 20).  They are known to keep wargs and dire wolves as servants and pets. Like their legendary mother, they will ride a warg the size of a war-horse.

Hyrrokkin Hags are fiercely territorial and will not suffer anyone to be in their self-proclaimed territories, especially other hags. While theoretically, they could form coveys with other hags, their hatred of them precludes this.  

They can transform into a large wolf or wolf hybrid as per a werewolf.  In this form, they can even transmit lycanthropy which gives them the sobriquet of "Mother of Werewolves."  Anyone with lycanthropy that sees a Hyrrokkin Hag must make a save vs. spells or be charmed as per the spell.

They can cast spells as per witch of the 7th level, but they have no occult powers.  If their spells are insufficient they can also attack with powerful claws or a bite.  This can be done in any form. They may only cast spells in Hag form.

These hags are damaged by silver, not by cold iron as their cousins.  Also, no treasure horde of a Hyrrokkin Hag will have silver.  One clue that a Hyrrokkin Hag has attacked a group is if all their treasure is gone save for their silver.


Monday, October 12, 2020

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.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Zombie Witch

Welcome to the FIRST Monstrous Monday of October 2020.

If you are on social media you might have seen this little gem from last week.


The answer of course is, me. I had Zombie Witches on my bingo card!   

Well if I didn't I do now.


Photo by Thirdman from Pexels
Zombie Witch
Medium Undead (Corporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing:  2d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4** (22 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws + 1 bite, Cause Fear
Damage: 1d6, 1d6, 1d4
Special: Only harmed by silver, magic. Cause Fear 1x per day as per spell. Curse.
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 4
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None; see below
XP: 100

When a powerful lord or lady dies they are often interred with fine weapons, treasures, and other grave goods that will support them in the after-life.  But these lords also know that these good are desired by the less pious and greedy.  So the lords will often arrange for a coven of witches to be sacrificed in a dark ritual and buried with the grave goods.  The witches do not volunteer for this task, they are captured and sacrificed after the lords' death. It is believed that the anger of the witches will transcend death and the tomb will be protected.

This is true and the undead witch, now a mindless zombie will attack anything living that enters the tomb.  Appearances may differ, but they are all undead witches in various states of decay or mummification.

Often lower level witches are used (under 6th level) and the only remains of their magic is a cause fear ability they can use as a group 1x per day.  They then attack as fast-moving zombies (normal initiative).  They will fight until they are destroyed. If the last zombie witch is destroyed and there are still combatants alive they will lay their final curse.  Anyone taking goods away from the tomb must save vs. death or be afflicted with a rotting disease that drops their HP by 1d6 per day until death. Healing magics, potions, or other means will not stop the spread of the curse.  Only a remove curse or similar magic can stop this curse. Then the victim can be healed. 

If destroyed, zombie witches will reform by the next new moon.  Only a cleric casting bless or a witch casting hallow or  remove curse on the tomb will stop their return. 

Zombie witches are turned as wights or 4HD undead.

Zombie Witch
(Night Shift)
No. Appearing: 2-8
AC: 5 
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 4
Special: 3 attacks (2 claw, bite), cause fear, bestow curse

Weakness: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d6+1 hp of damage to them.

If you want to see the other undead witches I have made over the years here is a list: