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

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

D&DGII The Black Forest Mythos: Fata Norne, the Fates

I am now at my last set of gods (or whatever the Fates are), which brings me full circle. Today, I want to talk about the Fates.

Fata Norne

When I began this project I talked about this book of mythology I had that had stories of the Greek myths, the Norse myths, and ending in Beowulf. In my young mind, these looked like a continuum, one set of tales flowed into the next.  While age would teach me that these were separate myths, later age would also teach me they are still just one set of myths from an even older source (Proto-Indo-European, which I still want to tackle one day). But even way back then (I want to say 5th Grade) I saw the similarities between the Greek Fates and the Norse Norns. Three women, each representing the Past, Present, and Future, spinning, weaving, or otherwise looming the fate of humankind. Each person, from birth until death.

The image was powerful, and I was sure there was a connection between them. Even doing the briefest of surface research (ok, briefest of literature review. I am particular how people throw the word "research" around) one kind find similar beings all over the Earth and across time due to their PIE origins.

  • Albanian: Fatia
  • English: Wyrds
  • Greek: Moirai
  • Hinduism: Tridevi
  • Hittite: Gulses
  • Lithuanian: Deives Valdytojos
  • Norse: Norns

Those are only the most obvious. 

For my Pantheon here I want to include them. They were important to the Greeks and Romans in their guise of The Fates (Moirai) and very important in Norse myth. Indeed, in Norse mythology, every living creature had a corresponding set of Norns that measured out their fates. 

I will also admit (and a little begrudgingly now) that some of my ideas of the Fates have also been colored by the Piers Anthony book series, The Incarnations of Immortality, with Book 3 With a Tangled Skein chief among them. The first five books were fun. The next two ok to falling apart at the end (it's like he had painted himself into a corner among other issues) and the last one? Well I have not read it despite owning it, I heard it was terrible. 

Fata Norne

The Fates of the Black Forest Mythos are not gods in the traditional sense. They are immortal, or more accurately, unending. They often appear as three young, mature, and old women in similar aspects of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, though that is not who they are. Instead, they are Future, Present, and Past respectively. They can also appear as three identical sisters of indeterminate age. It is their job to measure the fates of the Gods and Mortals alike. No one, not even the Gods, can escape their decrees. It has led to a saying, "Once Fate has spoken, it is so."



MOVE: 24" 
HIT POINTS: 300 each

SIZE: M (5')
SYMBOL: The faces of three women or a loom
PLANE: Erde (Prime Material)

CLERIC/DRUID: 15th level Cleric
MAGIC-USER/ILLUSIONIST: 15th level Magic-user
MONK/BARD: 10th level Bard
WITCH/WARLOCK: 15th level Witch
S: 23 I: 25 W: 25 D: 16 C: 24 CH: 10

Fata Norne, the Fates, are the goddesses in charge of all fates, from the lowest vermin to the mightiest gods. They do not interact with mortals save in the direst of circumstances. They avoid direct contact with the other gods; likewise, the gods avoid and possibly fear them.

If the Fates are encountered, they need a mortal agent of fate to complete some quest. They will give this mortal what they need but no more than that. It is assumed that since they know all creatures' fates, their choice is correct, but that is not the same thing as the mortal succeeding or even living through the quest.

If anyone is foolish enough to attack the Fata Norne, they can pass the Decree of Fate. Which removes the threat permanently. They decree that the attacker was never born and they cease to exist; no saving throw is permitted. In some cases, the offending mortal (or god) is instantly replaced with an alternate version who lived the same life but was not as foolish as to attack them. 

They can't be hit by normal weapons; even magic is ineffective. In addition to the radical removal of the offending attacker from all existence, they can, more simply, remove their attacker's knowledge of whatever magic they would use to attack. 

At their choice, they can cast spells as a 15th-level spell caster, either as a Cleric, Magic-user, or Witch.

No one worships the Fata Norne, and they do not grant spells to clerics.


There you have it! All the gods and monsters of this syncretized set of myths. Hope you can find some uses for them.

Now to produce a PDF of these.


Monday, November 27, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Ulmenfrau

Ok. Back it! We had some measurable snow here in Chicagoland, and I thought a snow monster might be nice for today. But while working on it, it morphed into something else.  So I might bring those original ideas back later, but for today let do the monster that came out of this process. The Ulmenfrau.


The Ulmenfrau, or "Elm Wives" are what my Roman-Germanic/Norse Pagans call the tree spirits of the Black Forest Mythos. They are related to the Norse Askafroa of the Ash Trees.  They also fold in elements of the Nisse of the Scandinavian countries, the Greek Pteleai (Elm Dryads), and the nymph Chione.  There are some elements of the Norse myth of Ask and Embla here as well.

Ulmenfrau are tree nymphs, so they most like dryads but can move further away from their trees. It is believed that Ulmenfrau are actually tied to a grove of elm trees rather than a specific singular tree.  It is said they are the daughters of the North Wind and can be encountered most frequently after the first snowfall.

They are closely associated with the European White Elm ("Ulmus laevis").

NO. APPEARING: 1 (2-12)
MOVE: 90"
HIT DICE: 5+10 (32 hp)
% IN LAIR: 100%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 club or spell
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to charm, hold, sleep, and other mind-affecting spells. Immune to Cold attacks, vulnerable to fire and iron.
ALIGNMENT: Neutral (Good)
SIZE: M (under 5')

The Ulmenfrau, or Elm Woman or Elm Wife, is a type of woodland faerie creature similar to nymphs and dryads. Indeed, she may be a type of dryad and shows many similarities to the Askafroa found in ash tree groves. The Ulmenfrau as the name suggests, is the spirit of the Elm tree, though this fae is not tied to any specific tree, but rather the grove at large. A grove of 100 trees can support a dozen or so ulmenfraus. Larger groves can support more but often no more than a dozen will ever be spotted. When dealing with mortals they typically agree on a single ulmenfrau to interact.

Ulmenfraus are not combative as a rule. They can attack with a club when needed, but they mostly will attack and defend with magical spells, typically that of a 4th-level Druid or Witch. They will avoid using fire-based magic.  If their need is dire then a group or three or more ulmenfrau can cast Control Weather as if they were a druid circle or a coven of witches. They will use this to blanket their grove in deep snow and sub-freezing temperatures. 

All ulmenfraus are immune to mind-affecting and altering magics. They can not be charmed, held, or put to sleep. They are also immune to the effects of cold, either magical or mundane, and thus do not take damage from cold-based magic. Like many fae creatures, they take extra damage (+3 to damage per hit) weapons made of cold iron. Cold iron weapons are those that lack carbon to make them steel. They are hard and heavy weapons that break easily. Also, they take double the damage from any fire-based attacks.

Ulmenfrau are hard to find in summer months, where they are busy making sure their grove is growing, they can be spoted in their humanoid form most often in the winter. Here, they appear as slight (only 5' tall) elven women light grayish brown skin that gets lighter as they age with white hair. Like many dryads their hair changes with the seasons, but green-haired and red-haired ulmenfrau are harder to find. They are thought to venture out in winter to explore and potentially find mates. Though unlike other dryads the ulmenfrau have no magical ability to charm. 

It is believed that the ulmenfrau are the offspring of the North Wind and the Wood Maidens.


Monday, November 13, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Doppelsauger

 Trying to wrap-up my entries for my Deities & Demigods II: The Black Forest Mythos this week. Here is a monster I have always wanted to include somewhere. A particularly horrific little monster.



The Doppelsauger, or "double sucker," was a creature I ran into very early in my vampire research. Back when I was known more as "the vampire guy" than "the witch guy."  It appealed to me then because the name is so evocative and descriptive of what it was; a creature that sucks twice. The first time when nursing milk from its mother and then again with blood.

MOVE: 6"
HIT DICE: 4+8 (26 hp)
% IN LAIR: 60%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 bite
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d4 + Blood (Con) Drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Vampire traits
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: S (under 2')

The Doppelsauger, or "twice sucker" is the vampire revenant of a child that had been weaned, but had gone back to the breast later on. It would have died sometime after this point. Some claim that the death of the child needs to be intentional, such as leaving it out to die of exposure or via disease. In either case, the undead creature returns to feed on the blood of its mother and other close family members. 

The doppelsauger needs to find a way into the home of its victims. This must be their former home, and their victims can only be family members. It won't feed on non-family members.

Like the common vampire, this creature can charm its victims. The charm is similar to the spell of the same name and the vampire ability. Family members save at a penalty of -2 and its own mother at a penalty of -4. The doppelsauger can turn into mist like a common vampire and can summon 2d10 rats. It takes damage from sunlight, holy items, and holy water, as do other vampires. It can't enter another home, but its home is always open to it. It said that it must enter via the same way it left their home. If this entryway is blocked, the doppelsauger cannot enter.  Garlic flowers, wolvesbane, and holy items will keep it at bay. They are turned as Shadows (Type 4).

Their attacks are weak, causing only 1d4 hp per attack, but its greatest attack is its ability to drain 1 point of Constitution via blood loss. The doppelsauger prefers to feed off of their mothers first, then other family members. One of the ways to know a family is being attacked by a doppelsauger is if they all start showing signs of anemia and losing weight. 

To stop (or prevent) a doppelsauger a board with a semi-circle cut-out must be fitted over the neck of the creature and hammered into its coffin. One can also be stopped via a stake in the heart and then removing their head with a sharpened shovel. 


Monday, November 6, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Strix

 Today's monster is a bit based on creatures like the harpy and siren of Greek and Roman myth with features of the Swan maiden of Northern European lore. I started thinking about what kind of creature this could be. Some sort of bird-woman, either cursed or can transform via a cloak of feathers (like Swan Maidens or Freya), but also would have lived in the environs of the area I am using; the Black Forest region.

This got me thinking about how scary the forest would have been to a pagan in the 6th or 7th centuries. All sorts of monsters live there. Certainly witch-like monsters.  So I decided to adapt another idea I had had. Something of an "Owl Witch" or a Strix.  The name is Latin in origin, and the concept is largely a Norse/Germanic one.



The Strix are a type of evil witch that lives alone in dark woods. They have the ability to transform into large owls. This ability comes from a magical cloak of feathers they can don. Typically they do this at night to hunt for prey; their favorite food is children that wander too close to the forests.

MOVE: 12" [6"/24"]
HIT DICE: 6+12 (39 hp)
% IN LAIR: 90%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 talons or Spell
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d6, 1d6 or by Spell
SPECIAL DEFENSES: None [+1 or better weapon to hit]
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (5')

Strixes are witches that can assume the shape of a large owl via the use of a magical cloak of feathers. The witch is connected to the cloak, and only she can use it.  Numbers in brackets [] indicate her stats in owl form.

The Strix in owl form can attack via two talons on a single target. Three times per day, they can also scream for 4d8 hp of damage, save vs. Spells for half. In this form, she can't use magic.

In her human form, she can cast spells as a witch (or magic-user) of the 5th level. In this form, she can only scream once per day.

It is said that if a man can steal the Strix's cloak of feathers, then she will be forced to marry him. She will be a dutiful wife as long as the feather cloak stays hidden. If she finds it she will devour her children and fly off, never to be seen again.  Any children who manage to live to adulthood will become powerful wizards or shamans. 


Monday, October 30, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Draugr

I am surprised I have not tried to stat these guys up before this. But this seems the perfect time to do it.  


Draugr are powerful undead creatures of former warriors under a powerful curse. Typically, they are cursed to guard a large treasure or powerful tomb of a lord or king. However, it is said that the curse would not take hold if there was not already some evil in their hearts. 

The process of creating a draugr involves dark necromancy and the ritual sacrifice of warriors of at least 7th level of experience. 

They are sacrificed and their corpses are dumped into whatever burial pit or hole they are set to guard.

MOVE: 24" 
HIT DICE: 8+16 (52 hp)
% IN LAIR: 100%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 weapons or touch
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d8+3, 1d8+3
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Constitution Drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (6' at shoulder)

Draugr are undead warriors of exceptional ability and strength placed under a curse. They are set to guard some larger treasure of a powerful lord or chieftain.  Typically 1 to 3 draugr are found per tomb along with the treasures of their lord.  Disturbing the tomb will cause the draugr to attack. 

The creatures attack with a sword twice per round. They add +3 to each attack due to high strength. They can as an option, touch an opponent and drain one (1) point of Constitution per successful touch attack. Victims drained to 0 Constitution become wights under the control of the draugr that drained them. Lost Constitution points can be restored at the rate of 1 point per week of bed rest or via any magic that can restore lost levels. 

Draugr can only be hit by magic, +2 weapons, or better weapons. They turn as Vampires. They are harmed by holy water and cannot enter sanctified or holy ground save for where they were buried. They are not harmed 

If the draugr's treasure is taken and the draugr is not completely destroyed it will hunt down every piece of it down to the last copper piece. The only way to completely destroy a draugr is to burn its remains to ash.  


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Monday, October 23, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Hautveränderer

The Romans, Norse, and ancient Germanic peoples all had many monsters that haunted their fears and tales. But they all at least one monster in common, and that was the werewolf.

The first recorded werewolves in a recognizable form in myth and legend go back to the Greeks and Romans. One could argue that the go back even further, but Greek and roman are fine for this project. Indeed we get the word "Lycanthrope" from the Romans. In particular from Ovid in his Metamorphoses and his tale of King Lycaon.  The Norse and Germanic people gave us the berserker, or berserkr, meaning "Bear Shirt." These were a class of warriors that could turn into bears or had the ferocity of bears in battle.

Tales of humans turning into animals are as old as humans and animals. Many shamanistic practices are based on this. For today's monster then I am looking for less of a syncretism and more of a synthesis.

In Norse and Germanic myths, the Werewolf is known as the "werwolf" not much difference there. But in Roman myth such creatures were known as "skin changers" or "skin turners."  Translate that back to German and we have today's monster, the Hautveränderer.

MOVE: 24" 
HIT DICE: 7+1 (32 hp)
% IN LAIR: 10%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 Claws, 1 bite
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d4/1d4/1d6
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Bloodlust, Rend (2d8)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +1 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (6')

Hautveränderer are human fighters, most often Berserkers (qv Monster Manual, p.67), who can assume the form of a large wolf or bear. They do this by using a special skin of the animal they wish to transform into. The hautveränderer's skin must be of an animal they killed and then prepared by a shaman. They don the skin, which must be touching their flesh to transform. 

They attack with two claws and a bite. Any natural 20 roll on their claw attacks will result in a rending attack, 2d8 instead of 1d4. If successful, they can make two rend attacks per round. 

Hautveränderer live for battle and are subject to bloodlust once they have made a successful attack. They must make a saving throw vs. Paralysis, if they succeed, then they continue as before. If they fail, then they succumb to the blood lust and attack everything, friend or foe, until none are alive. They are allowed a new save at the start of their next attack. Success means their lust has ended. While in blood lust, they attack at +2 to hit.

Their magical hide also offers some magical protection, so only +1 or better weapons can pierce it.

If killed, there is a 10% chance that their hide survived the attack enough to be reused. Any character seeking to reuse the hide must seek out a shaman to bind it to its new owner. While killing a hautveränderer is typically a good enough reason to have this skin, some shamans might not look favorably on the one who did the killing if they were from the same clan.

They are not true lycanthropes, so they cannot pass on their curse, nor are they affected by the moon's phases.



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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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Monday, October 9, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar

Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar
One of the main features of the Black Forest Mythos is the ever-present forest. Things and things live there, and they are not meant for human eyes.  Something we forget in our age of Google Maps and GPS is how frightening the unknown is to people. Still is, but there was so much more of it then. The forest was the home to goblins, witches, and even the Devil himself. So, reading over the myths and fairy tales of the time it behooves me to include some of the inhabitants.

Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar

These are the "dark" elves and "light" elves (respectively) of the Norse and Germanic myths. I kept their names intact because they felt different enough for, yet close to, "Dark Elf" and "Light Elf." I have discussed the Dökkálfar before, and they are worth revisiting. For this, I wanted to return to an idea I had in the late 1980s of a "Progenitor Species" of all the elves and faerie creatures. It's something similar to what the Sidhe and the Eladrin have done in my games after and especially in the 2000s. This is returning to that idea shed of the connotations connected to the Sidhe. 

This is also something I am developing for my Wasted Lands campaign, which I'll be talking about more and more.

For these myths, I am also combining bits of the Greek nymphs and Roman Genius loci into a single idea. Thus these people are very specific to their environment, so the Light vs. Dark bifurcation.  I am purposely trying to avoid distinctions like Seelie vs Unseelie courts. That is another part of the world (though close by) and centuries away. 

The Álfar

The Álfar were a race of immortal, nearly divine people that some claim existed before the gods. Their origins vary, but almost all agree they are the children of the Earth (Großmutter).  One group lives above ground and cherishes the light (Ljósálfar) and another lives underground and loves the dark (Dökkálfar).

It is believed that these creatures are the progenitors of all nature spirits (elves, nymphs, dryads) and other earth creatures (kobolds, dwarves, gnomes). Like their forebears the have no souls but are not immortal.

MOVE: 18" 
HIT DICE:  10+10 (55 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  90%
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  Sword (1d8+3) or by spell
SPECIAL  DEFENSES: +1  or  better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic Good (50%) or Chaotic Evil (50%)
SIZE:  M  (6')

The Álfar are the progenitor race of all elves and other faerie races. Some also claim that dwarves and gnomes can trace their ancestry to these people. They are divided into the Ljósálfar (Light) and Dökkálfar (Dark) depending on where they live: above or under the ground, respectively.

Regardless of their Light vs. Dark viewpoints, they are still the same species.

Álfar can attack with a sword twice per round or cast spells as a 10th-level magic-user. They have access to all magic-user spells and many unique ones as well. 

Courtesy is tantamount to the álfar. They will not attack someone honoring the rules of hospitality, but these rules must be adhered to strictly. They have been known to curse mortals that displease them for even the smallest of slights, and reward them with powerful magic for those that treat them with courtesy and respect. 

The Dökkálfar live underground and are often considered to be evil. The Ljósálfar live above ground in a "land beyond the forest" and are most often thought to be good but no less dangerous to deal with.


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Monday, October 2, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII The Monsters of the Black Forest Mythos

Welcome to the first Monstrous Monday of October 2023. Monstrous Mondays are always a treat for me in October since I can really do some of my favorite monsters here. This October is special for a number of reasons.  First, we have five Mondays in October this year so that already feels like a bonus monster. Secondly, I am going to do monsters of the "Black Forest Mythos" for my speculative Deities & Demigods II project. And finally this is my first *real* entry for the October RPG Blog Carnival: Horrors, Gods, and Monsters.

The Monsters of the Black Forest

A brief recap of what this project is. I speculated on a combined Roman-Norse Pantheon taking root somewhere in the Black Forest region of Germany in the 6th or 7th centuries AD. While there are some similarities between the gods I am working on and their Proto-Indo-European ancestors, I am not trying to recreate the PIE gods.  I am not doing archeology or comparative anthropology here. I am doing game design.

The goals then for this pantheon (and their monsters) are:

  1. It is for use in a game first and foremost, and AD&D 1st Edition in particular
  2. I want to stick as close to history as I can unless it violates #1 above. 
  3. I want to write this as something I would have written in 1985-6.

Why that last rule? I want to capture the feel of what I felt was peak AD&D 1st for me.  And since today I am talking about monsters, I have a fourth rule just for them.

  1. Monsters need to reflect the tales and fears people of this age would have had. 

Pretty simple, really. My idea is that the Romans fleeing the fall of Rome would have brought their gods and monsters, from house spirits to more horrible things. Same with the Germanic/Norse people. The monsters need to be scary but also fit the myths (#2) and be something that works in an AD&D game (#1).

Beware the Forest

I live in a huge metropolitan area (Chicago), I grew up in a small town, but it was still a town. My wife grew up in the country. We went to college near a very old forest (Shawnee National Forest), so I understand why people in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages feared the forest. It is where witches, goblins, and, worst of all, the Devil himself lived.  The people who made these myths lived in one largest forests in Europe, the Black Forest of Germany. I really want to lean in on that and capture WHY this is a scary ass place. Their gods are for solace in a changed world, the monsters though are a lot closer at hand.

I don't want this place to be scary. I want it to be terrifying.

Of Gods and Monsters

One of the things I loved about the Deities & Demigods was getting new insights to old monsters. Old in two senses. First, the obvious one, these were monsters from mythology. Secondly, old in the sense that they may have already been part of the Monster Manual and now get a new (or old as it were) version.  The best example of this is the Greek Myths. So many monsters in the Monster Manual (even true still today) came from Greek myths. Using them in context changes them a bit.  This was one of the things I explored in my One Man's God series

The same will be true here.  So to start off I want to revisit some monsters I have posted here and talk about how they fit into this new/old/different worldview. 


Ah. Now this one is kind of my poster child for these myths. The Aglæca, as I have built it, is the monster type that Grendel was. Grendel's mother then was an Aglæc-wif. Why poster child? Well back in grade school (pre-1980) I read this book of myths that I would love to find again. It had all the Greek myths, then Norse, and finally, it ended with Beowulf. In my young mind, there was a progression in these tales as time went on. One lead to the other in a mostly unbroken line. That isn't exactly how it happened, but for these myths I am going to assume they did.


Elves are tricky since they are an established AD&D mainstay. So there are light elves (the PCs) and there are "other" elves. 

Hag, Hyrrokkin

These hags are related to the giants/titans/Hüne.

The Titans of Roman myth and the primordial Giants of Norse/Germanic myth. I created these just for these myths.


Kobolds are part of Germanic myth and the D&D interpretations have moved a bit away from their mythologic and folklore counterparts. Don't get me wrong, I like D&D Kobolds. I just like my versions as well. 


No reason other than it is a cool monster.


Trolls and Ogres will be smooshed into one type of creature called a Troll. They are the offspring of the giants (Norse ideas) and are fairly elemental (Roman ideas) in nature. Though like the trolls and dwarves of Germanic myths, they turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

Others I am considering are: 

This is a good start. I have some new ones for the rest of this month and I think it will be a great project.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Monstrous Monday: The Dúlachán

 It is the first Monday of Autumn. I spent my weekend buying Halloween decorations and playing Baldur's Gate 3. My monster today was almost the physical manifestation of Error Code 516, but this might be better.  I wanted a shadowy, liminal undead figure.


Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 7+7** (39 hp)    
Move: 240' (80')
   Fly: 240' (80')
Attacks: 1 chill touch (1d8+1d6 chill, Constitution Drain) or 1 trample (1d6 x2)
Special: Constitution drain, undead, Magic +1 or better weapons to hit.
To Hit AC 0: 12 [+7]
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 7
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
XP: 1,250 (OSE), 1,300 (LL), 9/1,110 (S&W), 800 (BF)
Turn As: Spectre

Dullahan, the headless horseman. From Thomas Crofton Croker, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (3rd ed., 1834)

The Dúlachán can appear as a ghostly Headless Horseman or as a headless man or woman driving a funeral carriage.  The rider/driver is headless and will carry their own severed head under their arm or in a bag tied to their saddle or belt.  The horses are always of the darkest black, though their eyes burn with baelfire. In both cases, the rider/driver and horse(s) are all part of the same creature and can't be separated. The Dúlachán seeks out the death of one person but will also attack and kill anyone in their way. Behind them follows an army of wailing ghosts. 

These creatures are only found riding in "liminal" or in between times. So sunset or sunrise, the equinoxes and solstices, or on Samhain, the new year. They are most commonly encountered at sunset on the Autumnal Equinox and Samhain (Halloween).

They attack with either a trample (used against victims who are not their direct targets) or a chill touch that does 1d8 hp of damage on hit and an additional 1d6 due to their bone-numbing cold. Their touch drains 1 point of constitution per hit. This is treated the same as other undead draining. Anyone drained to 0 Con dies. If they are the called-out victim, they are whisked away. If they are someone that gets in the dúlachán's way, then they join the army of ghosts that follow along behind it, doomed to wail for eternity.

Their tactic is to ride up just as the sun is setting, call out a victim's name, and then ride the others down to claim their chosen. They will only name one victim per group. There is never more than one dúlachán at a time. 

Dúlachán can be turned as Spectres, but they will return the next night at sundown to make their claim again. They are incorporeal and can only be hit with magic weapons. If they are "killed" they will return on the next change of season. The only way to truly be rid of one is to Turn it or kill it and cast a Remove Curse on the character called out.

If the called-out victim gets into the coach version of the dúlachán, it is instantly killed, but the dúlachán will not attack anyone else and ride off into the nighttime sky.

Game Master's Note: These creatures should never be used as random monster encounters.


Happy Fall!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: A Basic Bestiary Update - Of Sorts

 This is the first Monday in more than a month I can sit down and write something about monsters. As it turns out.  I got nuthin. 

Well...that is not entirely true. It could be said I have too much but lack a clear direction.

Here is my issue as it stands right now.

I have a lot of monsters done. Not as many as I want, but a lot. Enough to easily fill a book. But I also have all this other material here that can go with it. Spells. Gods. NPCs. 

Since I am supposed to be developing a SWOT analysis rubric for an MBA course I am developing now, I may try that out here with my current problem. My feeling is it is going to tell me things I already know. That is why these work best with teams. 

Basic Bestiary SWOT
Click for Mural SWOT board

I could add more, but this is enough to keep me going.

This does justify my desire to keep moving on this project, but not the direction I should be taking.

Maybe I am biting off more than I chew here.

One of the directions I took early on was to split my Basic Bestiary idea up into three groups of monsters. Maybe I should go a step further and break it down into smaller units and combine it with my Monstrous Maleficarum; smaller sized publications that would allow me to buy more art for future ones.

I could do all Basic-era monsters, then re-combine them all at the end for an "Advanced-era" hard-cover.  That way people who like Basic-era could just get those, and the people who like Advanced monsters (and hardcovers) could just get that.

With these I am going to go with "Basic-Era" and "Advanced-era" compatibility and not stick too close to any single retro-clone in particular. There are a lot of clones out there now, and to be honest, the differences are mostly trivial.  

The limiting factor, of course, is art. But this at least addresses many of the issues I have above. 

So I guess I need to see what art I have now, a figure out how many monsters per publication would be worthwhile.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Monstrous Monday: The Demon Prince Akelarre

 Akelarre is a demon that has kinda always been with me in one form or another. He has had a variety of names over the years, but in all cases, he has been a large goat-headed demon whose main reason for being is to corrupt witches.  He is based on the various Demon-Goat creatures, mostly featured in the witch sabbat paintings of Francisco Goya.



Akelarre is the Basque word (where Goya is from) for a Witches' Sabbath.  The name of both of these paintings from Goya is "Akelarre."

I wanted a new demon lord, one associated with evil witches. The role in my games in the past has largely been filled by Graz'zt and others. But I wanted someone I had more creative control over. I also wanted someone that was also like Éliphas Lévi's Baphomet.  He will serve as the witches' "Dark Man" as mentioned in many witchcraft trials. In Europe that was always considered to be the Devil or a at the very least a high-level demon.  

Demon Lord Akelarre
My print of Alelarre with Larina for scale

Akelarre, Demon Prince
Huge Demon (Evil, demon)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: -2 [21]
Hit Dice: 20d8+80******** (170 hp)
 Huge: 20d12+80******** (210 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 6 (+13)
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6+3), 2 claws (1d6+3 x2), or by weapon or breath weapon or by spell
Special: Breath weapons, capsize, digestive acid, swallow whole, dominate and summon water-borne creatures,+3 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire, electricity, and poison, magic resistance (100%), telepathy 100 ft.
Saves:  D2 W2 P2 B3 S4 SS3 (20)
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: W, Y, Z
XP: 16,003 (OSE) 11,450 (LL) 6,800 (S&W)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con:  22 (+4) Int: 20 (+4) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 20 (+4)

Akelarre appears as a large goat-headed humanoid. On his brow is a burning crown. His heavily muscled form is covered in dark gray fur. His hands end in vicious-looking claws, and his feet are cloven hooves made of gold. He smells of animals and brimstone. His voice is high but melodious and comforting.

This demon avoids interactions with other demons and instead focuses on growing his cult on the Material Plane. He is known as the Demon of the Witches' Sabbat and he eitehr attends himself or via proxy when he can. Here, once per year, he gathers his witches for revels of feasting, sacrifices, and all sorts of debaucheries. He flies to these via magic once the sun has set. It is claimed that it is impossible to know if it is genuinely Akelarre at a sabbat, a high priest, or even a goat he has possessed for the night, save for when the sun rises. The true Akelarre will flee before the sun, a possessed man or goat will revert in the morning light. 

Akelarre can fight, though he prefers not to do so. He can attack with bite and claw or a weapon. Most often, he prefers to cast spells. He can cast any Magic-User spell and has the casting ability of an 18th-level caster. He can also breathe fire 3 times per night, doing 6d8 hp of damage, save vs. Breath Weapons for half.  He has a Charm gaze that can Charm Person at will, save vs. spells to negate. He can also use this power to charm animals with no save granted. Magic is needed to hit Akelarre, whether by spell or by weapons. A +2 weapon is needed. Like many demons, he is immune to mundane fire and mind-affecting magic. He takes half damage from magic or dragon fire, cold, electricity, or gas-based attacks. 

As the Demon Prince of Witches, Akelarre teaches witches of the demonic traditions of their craft. He sends out demon familiars in the form of normal but evil and lascivious in nature.  Offspring of these familiars and normal animals tend to be more wild and prone to attacking humans. His court comprises satyrs of the more feral natures, succubi, warlocks, and witches. He has no dealings with the undead.

Akelarre is a highly charismatic demon, and his honeyed words sound like the voice of a friend or lover promising you everything you desire and more.  There is a great rivalry between the demon Akelarre and the devil Abraxas.  Each seeks to find more magical tomes than the other, and they instruct their respective warlocks to do the same.  

Akelarre as a Patron: Akelarre believes that the pleasures of the world are the best reward and the pleasures of the flesh most of all. He typically grants his witches and warlocks the ability to summon demonic spirits for their pleasures, the ability to conjure up feasts as needed, and of course, grants them gold on signing their pact. Witches and Warlocks of Akelarre gain a Charm Person and Glamour-like powers they can use once per day. 

The Demon Prince Akelarre

Monday, August 14, 2023

Monstrous Monday: Leviathan, updated

I thought today's post would be an excellent follow-up to this morning's RPGaDay post and last week's Gargantua post. 

Leviathan, ready to consume a world.

I have been thinking a lot about demons and how I want to use them in my various old-school games, which at the moment are OSE-B/X and NIGHT SHIFT.  So naturally, I was going to get to one of my biggest big bads, Leviathan, since he has a history in my D&D games and my modern supernatural horror games. 

It began really around 1986-1987 when my high school DM and I were gearing up for our world ending campaign we were calling "The War of Dragons" and sometimes just "The Dragon Wars."  For this I did a lot of research, or what I could do in the various books on mythology at our local library, on the end of the world myths. So I read a lot about Ragnarök, Revelations, and other myths. Many had a common theme or thread of a great monster coming to Earth to destroy it only to be stopped by the forces of good. I also thought this was a good thing to do with our game. Tiamat was the obvious choice, so in my youthful hubris, I rejected that. 

Later on, as things in the real world changed (most obviously, I could still get some games in over college breaks), we expanded some ideas.  My "big bad" became more demonic/hellish as I began to "incorporate" (aka steal) ideas from the Hellraiser movies. This is where Leviathan enters into the picture. While up to this point, the big bad was only known as "the Beast of the Apocalypse," Leviathan gave me a name.

Years later, I would revisit the Dragon Wars and make it a bit of history for my WitchCraft/Buffy RPG epic "The Dragon and the Phoenix."  One of my AD&D characters, Raven Ebonflame (named for Raven Swordmistress of Chaos, whose books I had not read yet.) Raven (my Raven) was, for practical purposes, a Vampire Slayer. I would make here one in name for my Buffy RPG and have her final battle with Yoln (the Hand of Leviathan) and Leviathan, the catalyst for this new game. 

It worked wonderfully

While I was more than happy to let Raven and Yoln rest. Leviathan kept coming back to me. Demanding something be done.  I re-introduced him as an Eodemon and later put up some stats for him that I was never 100% happy with.  Today is my day to revisit these.

Gargantuan Dragon (Evil, Eodemon)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Fly 240' (80') [24"]
  Swim 300' (100') [30"]
Armor Class: -6 [25]
Hit Dice: 25d8+125********* (238 hp)
 Gargantuan: 30d20+125********* (388 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 5 (+14)
Attacks: 5 bites or breath weapons
Damage: 3d8+7 x5 or Breath Weapon
Special: Breath weapons, capsize, digestive acid, swallow whole, dominate and summon water-borne creatures,+3 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire, electricity, and poison, magic resistance (100%), telepathy 100 ft.
Save: Monster 25
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 31,503 (OSE) 30,500 (LL) 8,600 (S&W, CL 34) 11385 (BF)

Str: 23 (+5) Dex: 18 (+3) Con:  23 (+5) Int: 20 (+4) Wis: 18 (+4) Cha: 18 (+3)

Tiâmat and Leviathan
Tiâmat and Leviathan

This demonic monster appears to have the worst features of hydras, dragons, and sea monsters, all with demonic qualities mixed in. Leviathan often appears to have the body of a giant sea creature with webbed limbs ending in wicked-looking claws. A long tail is used for swimming, and anywhere between five and seven heads (accounts differ). Each head has a mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth and appears to be some combination of dragons but no particular dragon (i.e. there is not a "red dragon" head). 

This monster is believed to be the oldest of all the Eodemons.  Leviathan is so ancient that even other demons seem in awe of “his” age and power.  It is assumed that it is a "he," though there is no evidence to suggest either way. Leviathan exists only for one purpose; to feed.  Leviathan is drawn to worlds with strong magic and powerful magic users. Here he spends his time in the deepest parts of the oceans of these worlds, where he begins to feed. After devouring 800,000 levels/hd of magical life, Leviathan will be strong enough to destroy the entire world.  From there, he moves to a new world where he rests before starting the cycle anew.

In physical form, which many believe is only a material projection of Leviathan's true form in the Astral plane, attacks with its five heads. The heads vary in color and shape from encounter to encounter due to the chaos this monster is birthed from.  The heads have the following powers. Charm: The first head's breath weapon is one of charm and domination. All creatures within a 120' long cone (60' wide at the end of the range) are Dominated. Creatures below 6 HD/Level have no save. Creatures from 6 HD/levels to 9 HD /Levels save at -2. A failed save means the affected creatures follow Levithan even to their deaths. Only a Wish or similar magic can reverse this.  Plague: This head belches forth a gout of flying insects that consume as per the Creeping Doom spell.  The cloud is 50' in radius. Leviathan is immune to these attacks. Famine: This cone-shaped breath weapon causes hunger and thirst among any who fail their save. Victims permanently lose 2d8 hp and 2 points of Constitution. Only a Wish can reverse these effects. War: This head belches forth a gout of burning blood that sticks to skin and burns. It does 6d8 hp of damage (save for half) to everyone in the affected area, a line 120' long and 5' wide. Death: The last head always appears to be a rotting, corpse-like head of a dragon. The head's breath weapon is a cloud 60' in radius where victims have to save vs. Death or die.   Two other heads are rumored to appear when Leviathan is at his greatest power, but their powers are unknown, save they can speak in melodious voices.  Regardless of function, each head can bite for 3d8 hp of damage.

Additionally, Leviathan has the following powers. Capsize: Due to his large size, he can capsize any water-based craft on a successful roll to hit. Swallow whole: Any critical hit roll of a natural 20 by a head will result in a swallow whole.  Digestive acid: The acid in Leviath's many stomachs is so strong that once swallowed whole, the victim will take 4d8 hp of damage per round. Dominate and summon water-borne creatures: While in an ocean or sea, Leviathan can summon and control any water-based creature. Intelligent humanoid creatures like sea elves or tritons are allowed a saving throw. Leviathan's hide is so thick that +3 or better weapon to hit. He also has immunity to fire, electricity, and poison, magic resistance (100%), and telepathy 100 ft.  He speaks the languages of demons, devils, and of the primordial gods.  

Leviathan is an Eodemon, the oldest of all demonic beings. Some occult scholars claim he is the first consort to Tiamat but has since left her due to how envious he was of her power.  Despite his appearance, he is not worshiped or honored by dragons. 

Leviathan as a Patron: Powerful Warlocks that share Leviathan's desire for the destruction of magic and the world can become his Exarchs. The Hand of Leviathan and the Voice of Leviathan are his heralds. The Hand appears first to destroy and sacrifice powerful spell casters. The Voice proclaims the return of their lord and opens the gate to allow Leviathan to swallow the world whole. Killing these heralds does not stop the coming of Leviathan, but it does slow him down. When Leviathan destroys a world, these exarchs and his warlocks are destroyed with it.


I am pretty happy with this. I might need to tweak the bite damage a bit. 


Monday, August 7, 2023

Monstrous Monday: Gargantua Demons, Basic-era

 We live in an unprecedented time of access to media. For example, when I was a kid if I wanted to watch a Godzilla movie I had to wait for the various "creature feature" shows that would be on my local Channel 8, 11, or 12 on the weekends and then hope that one of them would be showing Godzilla.  As I got older my options progressively grew to cable channels, VHS, DVD, and then BluRay. Now I have streaming choices. Tubi was (and is) always good for horror, but now Pluto has stepped into the ring with their 24-hour Godzilla channel and Godzilla movies on demand. Subtitled, not dubbed, for the most part.

As expected, I have been watching it all the time. I am reminded there are some really, really bad ones here (Son of Godzilla comes to mind) but also some I really enjoy.  One of those was 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. Yeah, I have it on DVD, but catching it one night was a nice treat.

It also made me want to come back to my idea of giant, Kaiju-like demons for my games.

A group of D&D Demons
A collection of DIY Demons

Destroyah is about the same size as the official D&D (4th Edition) Orcus, though Destroyah was only about 10 bucks. Given the 1" = 5' scale, a 6½" Destroyah comes out to about 32.5'.  With horn, 35'.

It makes for a very scary demon to be honest.

DIY D&D demons
D&D Demons with your humble 5'9" blogger to scale.

I have done these Gargantua demons before for both Spellcraft & Swordplay and D&D 5.  I should also do them for my hybrid Basic/Advanced "Basic Bestiary" stat block.

Gargantuan Fiend (Demon, Calabim)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
   Fly: 300' (100') [30']
   Swim: 300' (100') [30']

Armor Class: -7 [26]
Hit Dice: 30d8+180******** (315 hp)
 Gargantuan: 22d20+44******** (495 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 4 (+15)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, 1 tail, 1 breath weapon (typical)
Damage: 4d8 x2, 4d12, 2d12, as per dragons
Special: Alternate forms, breath weapon, fear aura 120', immune to mind-affecting magics, magic resistance 75%, vulnerable to holy weapons.
Save: Monster 30
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 38,750 (OSE) 38,750 (LL)

Str: 25 (+6) Dex: 10 (+0) Con: 25 (+6) Int: 6 (-1) Wis: 7 (-1) Cha: 2 (-4)

These horrors are destruction incarnate. These demons stand 40 to 50 feet tall.  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. Some gargantuas even have alternate forms they can transform into. This includes the sprouting of wings or even juvenile or ultimate forms. In one recorded case, a gargantua was able to divide into dozens of smaller forms of 1 HD each and then reform later as the larger, composite creature. 

Their intellect is far below that of animals, and they exist only to destroy.  Powerful Balor or even Arch Fiends can control them, but it is challenging for them 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.  Any critical hit roll on a bite indicates the victim has been swallowed whole.  Every gargantuan also has a breath weapon attack like that of a dragon. Typically fire, but lighting and wind are also typical. They do damage equal to the number of hp they have remaining, save vs. Breath Weapon for half.

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

Some scholars theorize these creatures are the remains of the ancient Titans like the Jötunar or even Die Hüne. But most believe these creatures began as normal animals infused with the evil essences of demons and their homes in the vast Abyss.