Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Friday, April 30, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Z is for Zombie, Drowned

Here we are!  At the end of another A to Z Challenge. I am pretty pleased with how this all turned out to be honest.  I got a lot of monsters done and found some new blogs to follow.  I had not participated since 2016 and I was curious about how it all might be different. Well, it was. Far fewer people were in it now (no surprise) and it also seemed to have a bit less interaction.  Some sites I noticed had quite a few comments, while many others had none at all.  

I'll have to think about what I am doing for next year.  I guess it depends on what book I have coming out.  An A to Z of Demons part 2 might be in order.  But that is the future, today I want to talk Zombies!

I wanted to end this challenge with a monster I first made on one of my first computers.  This is NOT the first monster I ever made. This is, roughly, the same monster I first created on my Tandy Color Computer 3 with my first ever word processing software, VIP Writer.  I looked to see if I still had the printout, on dot-matrix paper no less, but I am afraid that is long since gone.  

Additionally, this creature was inspired by the creatures in the 1980 movie The Fog.

The Fog

Zombie, Drowned
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1d8 (3d8)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
  Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 5d8* (23 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1d8+2
Special: Undead
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class:  X (M)
XP: 300 (OSE) 350 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 10 (0) Con: 10 (0) Int: 5 (-2) Wis: 7 (-1) Cha: 3 (-3)

The drowned zombie, or sometimes called a sea zombie, is the reanimated corpse of a drowned sailor.  Often reanimated via some curse or the desire of their captain to continue their mission at sea.  They will rise up from the sea at night and terrorize local coastal villages.  They seek out warm bodies to feed on. 

Similar to other zombies, these creatures though have a bit more intelligence and free will. They are subject to control over whatever animating force brought them back. If it is a curse then they will seek out whatever means they can to either break or satisfy the curse so they may rest at the bottom of the sea. 

Drowned zombies attack with whatever weapons they had in life. Their strength adding a +2 to hit and damage. They can be hit by normal weapons, but slashing and piercing weapons only cause 1 hp per hit regardless.  As undead, they make no noise until they attack. Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep). 

Drowned zombies are turned as mummies or 5 HD undead.

--

And there we go!  

I did not get my Treasure figured out, nor did I figure out which XP system to go with.  OSE is in general lower than LL, I could present it as a range of values.

Will I do this again next year? No idea yet. But this was a lot of fun.

April 2021 A to Z

Thursday, April 29, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Y is for Yeti, Almas

Pursuing the AD&D Monster Manual back in 1979 I could not help to notice that while most of the monsters were obviously mythology in origin, one stood out.  There are on the next to last entry stood tall and proud, the Yeti.

Now you have to remember what the late 70s were like.  Bigfoot fever was all over the place then, there were no less than a dozen movies about Bigfoot in the 70s alone. Only the 2010s exceed it.  So seeing a Yeti, who I knew was a relative, was very interesting.  At first I didn't want to use him, it seemed so "off" to me.  But over the years I have changed my mind and now I use all sorts of hominid cryptozoological creatures.   But one of my favorites might just be the Almas.

The Almas featured in my first Ghosts of Albion adventure, Almasti, found in the Ghosts RPG core rule book.  I spent a lot of time with them and decided I needed to port them over to D&D.   This version is different than the Ghosts version, but still compatible.

Yeti, Almas
Medium Humanoid (Cold)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8+6** (20 hp)
THAC0: 11 (+8)
Attacks: 2 fists or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+2 x2 or by weapon type +2
Special: Fly, immune to cold, spells
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class:  None
XP: 100 (OSE) 135 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 13 (+1) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 11 (0)

Almas are the smaller, more intelligent cousins of the Yeti. Due to their smaller size, they do not have the yeti’s hug attack.  For every group of six Almas, one will be a shaman who has the spellcasting ability of a 2nd level winter witch.

With the aid of the shaman, an Almas can fly on the boreal winds, but only after the sun has gone down.

They are immune to normal and magical cold.  Almas speak their own language and that of giants.

Almas are usually found in lower parts of the same mountain ranges one will find the yeti.  The two groups will avoid each other, mostly due to the fact that interactions between them have caught the attention of humans and that is a far worse out for them.

--

Simple monster with plenty of role-playing power.  Plus they are fun to pull out when the players are expecting a yeti and these guys just fly away.

April 2021 A to Z

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: X is for Xana

I have another water-spirit/fey today.  Unlike the undine, this one was on my list from day one. These creatures are from the Asturian area of Spain. I will admit, there are not a lot of X monsters out there. 

Lamia, by John William Waterhouse, 1909 ~ Oil on canvas, 91.5 x 57 cm
Xana
Medium Fey (Water)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (2d6)
Alignment: Neutral [Neutral]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 4d8* (18 hp)
THAC0: 17 (+2)
Attacks: None
Damage: None
Special: Charm potion, invisibility, witch spells
Save: Witch 4
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class:  X (M)
XP: 125 (OSE) 135 (LL)

Str: 8 (-1) Dex: 13 (+1) Con: 10 (0) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (2) Cha: 20 (+4)

Xana are a type of water faerie that lives in cool rivers, streams, and freshwater ponds. They are described as beautiful with long curly brown or blond hair.   They are similar to other water faeries in that they prefer to spend their time in their watery lairs. 

They are social creatures, with several living in an area.  Their lairs are under the water where they are 100% invisible. 

They will leave their lairs to seek out mates.  They can take their waters and make a weak love potion that will affect one male of her choice. They get a saving throw vs. poison. If they fail they are treated as if they have a charm person spell on them.  A successful save means the potion had no effect.   The children they have from these encounters, xanín, can’t be cared for by the xana.  They will sneak into homes at night and leave their children in place of human babies.

Xanín will grow fast. The girls will seek out their mothers and join them.  The boys will tend to grow up to become sailors.

Xana can cast spells as a 3rd level witch.  They however will not attack physically. They will swim to the deepest part of their watery lairs. 

There is a rumor of a smaller xana that feeds on children.  These creatures are indistinguishable from other xana and are chaotic evil. 

--

There are a lot of water spirits and water fey out there.  How to make them all different from each other will be my goal.  

April 2021 A to Z


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: W is for Wight, Barrow

It would be disingenuous to claim that Greek and Norse Mythology were my only gateways to my obsession with Dungeons & Dragons. No. Like so many gamers before and after me my D&D games were heavily fueled by my love for Tolkein. I discovered the Hobbit around the same time I discovered D&D. So naturally while my games had a mythic feel, there was also a feeling of "leaving the Shire" to them. 

It also doesn't hurt that I am listening to Led Zeppelin while working on this.

So much of Tolkein's DNA is threaded throughout this game, Gygax's testimonials to the contrary.  

One of the most memorable creatures to me were the Barrow Wights from Fellowship of the Ring.  The Wight from Basic and Advanced D&D was a thin imitation of those creatures in my mind.

Gustave Doré, Dante and Virgil observe a wight
Dante and Virgil observe a wight

Wight, Barrow
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6* (33 hp)
THAC0: 11 (+8)
Attacks: 1 touch + ability drain or weapon
Damage: 1d6+2 or weapon type
Special: ability drain, undead
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class:  XXI (B)
XP: 650 (OSE) 680 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 13 (+1) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 10 (2) Cha: 6 (-1)

Barrow-wights are greater undead of fierce warriors. They remember their lives from before and are fast, dangerous, and particularly deadly. They are usually encountered in the ancient burial mounds that give them their name, barrows.  Wight is an older word for a man, or more commonly, a fighting man.

The most horrific attack of these creatures is their ability to drain the life force of their victims. A successfully hit a target loses one point of the Constitution. This incurs a loss of any bonus hit points, as well as all other benefits due to the drained ability. A person drained of all constitution becomes a wight  (common wight) in 1d4 days, under the control of the barrow wight that killed them

As undead, these creatures make no noise until they attack. They are immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g., poison). Additionally, they are immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g., charm, esp, hold, sleep).

Barrow-wights can only be harmed by magic. They are turned as 6 HD creatures, or as Spectres.

--

This is closer to the creature I remember fighting in my summers of the 80s.  

Like many of my undead, I have done aways with "level drain" and replaced it with ability drain. I just like the feel of it better and it is a threat to both low-level and high-level characters.  Undead should always be scary.


April 2021 A to Z

Monday, April 26, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: V is for Vampire

Image by Rondell Melling from Pixabay
As of this writing, I have 292 monsters written and complete for the Basic Bestiary I.  I have about 10-12 more that are mostly done.  Of the total 355 entries I have, a full 43 of them are Vampires

Yeah. That's a lot.

I have said it before but long before I was known as "the Witch guy" I was known as "the Vampire guy." 

I have talked about my origins of the Basic Bestiary before. My love of Greek, Norse, and Celtic myth, old "monster movies" with my dad, and the day I picked up the AD&D Monster Manual for the first time.  BB is my love letter to the MM.  But it is not my first monster book, it is just the first one I am going to publish.  I have sitting on my hard drives monster books that go all the way back to my earliest days.  Some of these monsters have been revived in my various witch books.  Many have been posted here. Among the files I have here and there there is one that is really old. 

File "necro.txt" contains all the undead monsters I hand-typed from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II plus all the undead I could get from Dragon magazine and all the ones I made up.  There are over 150 creatures in that file.  Many of them are vampires.

Now the issue I have now is not whether to stat up all these creatures (I already have in some places) but how many to include as full monster entries and which ones are just AKAs.

So instead of posting a monster today (I did Vampires in the 2015 A to Z) I thought I might instead post the list of possible ones and see how I might combine, rearrange or otherwise categorize.

When I talked about the Undine on Saturday I mentioned large categories. Vampires will be a category in BB1.

Vampires

Vampires are among the most fearsome and feared of the undead.  Unlike most undead creatures the vampire can often pass for a living creature. Moreso they charming, both in terms of personality and in magical ability, they are physically strong (19+) and difficult to kill. Vampires exist for a long time so many are also quite intelligent (16+) and have mundane and supernatural protections in place.

As undead, the vampire has all the following features of a corporeal undead creature.  They do not need to check for morale and are immune to fear effects from spells or other creatures.  They are susceptible to the Turning effects of clerics or other holy warriors.  They are immune to the effects of  Charm, Sleep and Hold spells or other mind-affecting magic.

Vampires take 1d6+1 hit points of damage from Holy Water and it is treated as though it were acid. As corporeal undead slashing and piercing damage of weapons are largely ineffective since their damage is done to vital organs or blood loss. Vampires take no damage from mundane weapons.  Silvered piercing or slashing weapons only do 1 hp per hit. Magic weapons calculate damage per normal.  Vampires only take half damage from electrical or cold attacks. They are immune to paralysis, poison or any gas-based weapon. 

Most vampires drain blood to survive. This is done at the rate of 2 Constitution points per attack unless otherwise stated.  Vampires also regenerate 3 hp per round.

Many vampires have alternate shapes they can assume. Most common are animals of the night and gaseous forms. Others may become moonlight or stranger things. All vampires need to rest at some point.  Many are vulnerable to the light of the sun and all have at least some sunlight weakness.  VAmpires also have common items that will repel them, such as garlic, a mirror, or rice, and nearly all will be forced back by holy symbols. 

All vampires have a unique means to kill them these are detailed in each entry. Often this is what sets one type of vampire from the other.

Unless otherwise noted, all Vampires turn as Vampires.

Vampire (Base)
Vampire Lord
Vampire, Alp
Vampire, Anananngel
Vampire, Asanbosam
Vampire, Astral
Vampire, Aswang
Vampire, Berbalang
Vampire, Blautsauger
Vampire, Brukulaco
Vampire, Bruxsa
Vampire, Burcolakas
Vampire, Ch’ing-Shih
Vampire, Children of Twilight
Vampire, Dearg-Due
Vampire, Ekimmu
Vampire, Eretica and here
Vampire, Estrie
Vampire, Farkaskoldus
Vampire, Gierach
Vampire, Hsi-Hsue-Kue
Vampire, Jigarkhwar
Vampire, Kathakano (Catacano)
Vampire, Krvopijac
Vampire, Kyuuketsuki
Vampire, Lobishumen
Vampire, Moroi (Living Vampire)
Vampire, Mulo
Vampire, Neuntöter
Vampire, Nosferatu
Vampire, Ovegua
Vampire, Pĕnanggalan
Vampire, Rolang, Demonic
Vampire, Rolang, Personal

Vampire, Soucouyant
Vampire, Spawn
Vampire, Strigoi
Vampire, Tenatz
Vampire, Upierczi
Vampire, Vrykolakas (Burcolakas)
Vampire, Wurdalak (Vourdalak, Vlkodlak)
Vampire, Xiāng-shī
Vampire, Yara-ma-yha-who
Vampire, Zburător (Zemu, Zmeu)

--

And there you go! Clicking on the links above is like doing archeology into my ever-changing and adapting stat-block.

I did include some AKAs in the list above and those will likely just be a paragraph in the main entry of what makes them different.  AS I work the remaining monster up I am likely to discover more.

This list though makes me wonder if I need yet another Basic Bestiary just for the undead. I know I have enough.  But will it make my first book too light?

Here is where I am at right now.  Aberration (0), Beast (24), Celestial (9), Construct (12), Dragon (5), Elemental (7), Fey (73), Fiend (0), Giant (4), Humanoid (45), Monstrosity (8), Ooze (0), Plant (3), Undead (71), Vermin (0), Total (261).

Removing the 71 undead would make the book stand at 190 monsters right now.  I still have to add all those vampires, so 120+ undead creatures total?  Would make for smaller books, and thus cheaper ones. Fiends are already going into their own book, Basic Bestiary II.

What do you all think?

April 2021 A to Z


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Mail Call: B7 Rahasia, Print on Demand

Got a nice treat in the mail last week.

Module B7 Rahasia

Rahasia is one of the next adventures I will be running in my War of the Witch Queens campaign for Basic-era D&D.  I have a copy of the original B7 version, but I thought a Print on Demand would be nice to have as well.  

I was not wrong.

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Interior of Module B7 Rahasia

Back of Module B7 Rahasia

As with all the PoD modules from the TSR era the maps are not printed on the inside covers but rather as pages.  Not a huge deal to be honest, just make sure you buy the PDF as well and print them out at home.


I had hoped that Rahasia's letter had been cleaned up.  It hasn't. But the source version was difficult to read as well.  I had to retype it so I could have it ready for my War of the Witch Queens game.  

To get this once rare and hard-to-find adventure for just under 12 bucks (I paid $11.99 total) is a really great deal, to be honest. 

Rahasia Links

Saturday, April 24, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: U is for Undine

John William Waterhouse - Undine
Well, I had not planned it this way, but I have another water spirit to go with the Kelpie, Merrow, and Nuckelavee.  This one though in nature is much closer to the Sylph. 

In occult and alchemical studies, especially ones that followed after Paracelsus, there were four elemental creatures that were comprised of the four classic elements.  They were the Sylph (Air), Gnome (Earth), Salamander (Fire), and the Undine (Water).

The Sylph will appear in my Basic Bestiary in a slightly altered form from what originally appeared in the Monster Manual.  Elemental Gnomes I have addressed in the past. Salamanders already have been covered well by others, so they don't need my input.  That just leaves the Undine.

There is undine, the water elemental and there is Undine, the proper name for a character the is more like a mermaid or merrow. There is also a class of water spirits, related to nereids and naiads. They also have a beautiful song similar to the sirens, but undines do not lure people to their deaths.  In fact much of the positive traits of the ancient mermaids have seemed to transfer to undines early on.  Today the myths of mermaids, minus the drowning of sailors, are nearly the same as those of the undine.

All these creatures, mythological speaking, had a lot in common.  To make a monster though I need to tease out the essentials.

Undine
Medium Elemental (Water)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral [Neutral (Good)]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8*** (14 hp)
THAC0: 17 (+2)
Attacks: 1 Water whip
Damage: 1d4
Special: Song, invisible in water, magic, water shape
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class:  II x10 (Q x 10)
XP: 80 (OSE) 95 (LL)

Str: 9 (0) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 10 (0) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (2) Cha: 20 (+4)

Undines appear to be a type of water nymph or other mercreature, but they are in fact elementals from the plane of water. They do have some water fey in their ancestry, but these creatures are elemental spirits in corporeal form.  In their natural state, they appear as watery figures indistinguishable from the waters they swim in. This grants them complete invisibility.  When they take on a human form they always appear as attractive human or elf-like women.  In this form, they may move about on dry land but must return to their stream, pool, sea, or other body of water once per week. 

The undine is curious about land-dwelling folk but less so than their distant cousins the merrow or mermaids.  When confronted they will most often flee to their watery homes. But if attacked they can shape water into a water whip-like tendril and strike target up to 20 feet away.  They may also cast any water-based spell as a 5th level caster of the appropriate type. They most often have druid, magic-user, and witch spells.  

The undine does have a song that acts as a charm person spell.  The effects are not intentional, the undine does not choose to charm when she sings, but she can use her singing and her charm to her advantage if she chooses. An undine not wanting undue attention from amorous land dwellers will make sure that no one is around when she sings.

Undines have to return to their body of water once per week or lose points of Constitution at the rate of 1 per week. At 0 points she will die.  An undine cannot enter holy or hallowed ground.  She is not barred from doing so, it just makes them uncomfortable and it is treated as a failed morale check.  Clerics and priests believe they can turn undines as if they were undead. The undine will leave the area is a cleric present their holy symbol, but there is no compulsion behind this. Undines just do not like clerics.

Like many elemental creatures the undine does not have a soul, but a spirit instead. For this reason resurrection and raise dead spells will not work on them.  If an undine falls in love with a mortal and can get that mortal to profess their undying and true love to the undine then the undine may remain on land as a human woman and will "grow" a soul.  Though it is said that if their lover dies before them or if their lover discovers the truth about them they will return to the sea. 

--

I like this. She ended up being a little more powerful than her sister the sylph is but that is fine really.

I still really need to fix my treasure types. I might adopt the OSRIC model and just list out what everything is and avoid Treasure Types or Horde Classes altogether.  Much more work on my part, but it gives far more control over what I can give each one.

Here is what OSRIC lists for the Sylph:  

Treasure: 10d4 gems (50%), 1 misc. magic and 1 potion (60%)

I mean that is only one line.  I could easily convert what I have now to that.  OSRIC also divides the monsters by type.  So naturally, all the devils, demons, dragons and dinosaurs are all grouped together, as we see in the Monster Manual. But so are sylvan and Faerie creatures, as we would see in the BECMI Creature Catalog.  I like both styles.  I am more likely to go with alphabetical listings with some large groups.  Like the group I am talking about on Monday!

April 2021 A to Z


Thursday, April 22, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: S is for Skeleton, Electric

When I was young, like four years old young, I remember we had this Halloween decoration that we hung up in my parent's first house.  It was a skeleton with a lightning bolt coming from its forehead.  Now this would have been 1973 (we moved in 1974) so my memory of it is a little foggy, but I knew it was a skeleton with a lightning bolt. Why? Because my older brother Mike used to scare me with it. He told me that if you crack open the skull of a skeleton then lightning would shoot out.  Made sense to my 4-year old brain. I mean I knew electricity brought Frankenstein to life. 

Between my mom's horror stories, my dad's love of old monster movies, and my older brothers telling about skeletons made of lightning and giant spiders living in the backseat of my dad's old 1934 Hudson it's no wonder I am still writing stuff like this.

So for my late brother Mike who used to love to scare the shit out of me, here is this one.

Man fighting skelleton
Skeleton, Electric

Medium Undead (Corporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d2 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 2d8** (9 hp)
THAC0: 18 (+1)
Attacks: 2 claws + or special
Damage: 1d6 x2 + electrical discharge
Special: Undead, immune to Charm, Hold, and Sleep magic. Electric discharge
Save: Monster 2
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 30 (OSE) 38 (LL)

Str: 10 (0) Dex: 10 (0) Con: 10 (0) Int: 4 (-2) Wis: 4 (-2) Cha: 8 (-1)

Electric Skeletons are the remains of people who died while being subjected to terrible experiments using elemental electricity instead of necromantic powers.

These skeletons look like normal skeletons, save that they appear to have been burned down to the bone. Their eyes flicker with an evil light. They are faster than normal skeletons and can attack with two claws per round. They are mindless and attack without regard to whom they are attacking, just as long as who they are attacking is alive.

Attacking these skeletons with an edged weapon such as a sword or spear will result in a discharge of electricity that deals 1d4 damage to the attacker (saving throw vs. paralyzation for half). Attacks using electricity, such as lighting bolt or shocking grasp, do no damage. These creatures are Turned as zombies or 2 HD creatures.

--

Not bad. They don't need to be fierce or huge or even terribly deadly, they are from the fears of a four-year-old.  

April 2021 A to Z

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: R is for Rakshasa

The demon Kumbhakarna
Going to the other side of the world from where I have been spending most of my time in the A to Z of monsters to one that always fascinated me back in my younger days.  Flipping through the Monster Manual  I recognized many of the creatures from myth and story, but one was new to me (ok there were more than one, but this one stood out).  

The Rakshasa of Indian myth was new one.  I had read a total of two Indian myths by this time so the Rakshasa was new to me.  Looking at the entry in the Monster Manual you would be excused for thinking they were some sort of cat-headed humanoid.  Much like the similarity named Rakasta from the D&D Expert module Ilse of Dread. 

In my naïve understanding of the differences between what was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons vs to what I was playing Basic Dungeons & Dragons, I tried to reconcile many concepts, and the Rakshasa / Rakasta was one of the round peg in a square hole that got me thinking maybe these, in fact, different creatures and different games.

Now a day I just mix and match as I see fit.

But that was not the last time the Rakshasa was going vex my efforts. 

Soon after I reconciled the whole Basic vs. Advanced D&D thing the next question, and one that stayed with me for a while, is why aren't these guys Devils?  Certainly, they felt like devils, they were Lawful Evil outsiders. They liked Illusion magic.   I played around with that idea for a while but never got it right.  It wasn't until I dropped the whole "Demon vs. Devil" and embraced the "Fiend" idea did it come to me. WotC would end up doing the same thing in D&D 5 in 2014.

Back in 2013 I reclassified these creatures as Yaksas and I was pretty happy with this.   That is until I began my research for my One Man's God series.  For India, I went back and reread the Ramayana. Rakshasas in these are much more complicated. Especially named Rakshasa like Ravana and his sister Shurpanakha.  Plus I learned more about Yaksas.

So. Where does that leave me today?  Well.  I want to do more research, but I think the classification of Rakshasa as a fiend belonging to the group of Asuras, who are sometimes referred to as "anti-gods."

Is this my final take on it?  No.  I am still doing more research and going back to the myths and stories, but I feel like I am on a good path now.

The three headed Rakshasa
Rakshasa
Medium Fiend (Asura)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: -4 [23]
Hit Dice: 7d8+21** (53 hp)
THAC0: 13 (+7)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d3+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Illusory appearance, special magic resistance, spell-like powers
Save: Monster 7
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XVII (F) 
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,300 (LL)

Str: 14 (+1) Dex: 17 (+2) Con: 18 (+3) Int: 13 (+1) Wis: 16 (+2) Cha: 20 (+4)

Rakshasas belong to a group of evil outsider spirits known as Asuras.  These creatures are an ancient primordial race of fiends that are sometimes known as the "anti-gods".  Their main diet is human flesh and they use deception to get it.   They often appear as animal-headed humanoids, with baboon and tiger being the most common, but they and also appear as multi-headed demons with long tongues and huge tusks.  Regardless of the form they take a curiosity of the rakshasa is that its palms will always appear to be inverted; that is their palms on the "tops" of what humans would consider their hand and thus their fingers appear to bend backward. 

When first encountered a rakshasa will use its ESP to detect whomever the victim trusts, then use illusion to assume that form. Once the victim lets his or her guard down the rakshasa will reveal its true self and attack. They are immune to normal weapons and magical weapons below +3 only do half damage.  The rakshasa can’t be affected or detected by spells of 6th level or lower unless it wishes to be. It has a +2 on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.  A rakshasa would prefer to avoid combat, but when they do choose to fight they are vicious, enjoying the taste of blood as they fight.

All rakshasa have the following spell-like abilities:

  • At will: detect thoughts, disguise self, mage hand, minor illusion
  • 3/day each: charm person, detect magic, invisibility, major image, suggestion
  • 1/day each: dominate person, fly, plane shift, true seeing

Rakshasas are evil but not unintelligent. They will know when to attack and when to hold back.  A poisoned cup of tea takes care of an enemy just as well as claw to the neck.

Multi-headed Rakshasas: It is believed that the more head a rakshasa the more powerful it is.  Each head would increase the creature's HD by 2 levels and Intelligence by 1 point for each head.  Rakshasas with five or more heads become Large creatures.

--

There is likely a lot more I can say and do with these guys, but this is a great start.  I am pretty happy with this as it is, but I know I am going to discover more.

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Q is for Qliphoth

Qliphoth
One of the things I want to establish in my Basic Bestiary II is there are a LOT of different kinds of "demons" out there.  In AD&D we basically had two, then three, major groups, demons (chaotic evil), devils (lawful evil), and the awkwardly named daemons (neutral evil).  When 2nd ed came around the publisher caved to the angry mom crowd the authors came up with the replacements Tanar'ri, Baatezu, and Yugoloths respectively.  While many of us chaffed under these names they did open all the fiends up to reinterpretation.  And that was a good thing.  Also, I preferred Yugoloths over Daemons anyway. 

As the editions continued on the "Species" of fiends also grew.  The official D&D products in the 3e era added the Obyriths and Loumara types of demons to represent to oldest and youngest races respectively (not subject to the OGL) and other companies began to add their own as well. 

I myself have added the Lilim, Eodemon, Shedim, Baalserph, and Calabim fiends.  I have a few more as well.  Personally, I like the idea of all these competing hordes of fiendish creatures, fighting each other as much as they want to fight the power of good. 

Some of the newer types are not included in the SRD or part of the OGL.  For example, I can't use Obyriths in my books. I can use Pazuzu who is described as an Obyrith, I just can say anything about his "species."  I do say he is an "Eodemon" or "Dawn Demon" which is what the obyrtihs are trying to do.  Pazuzu is from world mythology so he is fair game.  Pale Night, a very powerful obyrtih is not.

This brings me to the Qliphoth.  The Qliphoth is open in terms of the Open Gaming License. The term, קְלִיפּוֹת, itself comes from Jewish Kabbalah.  So I am free to use that.   The Qliphoth in Pathfinder have a particular background.  I want something a little different, though I am likely to keep them similar just to aid people moving from system to system.  Rereading "Eodemon" as "Obyrith" is no big deal.  Having a name refer to two completely different sets of creatures is something else.   

Borrowing from the Kabbalah where Qliphoth means "Peels", "Shells" or "Husks" (mostly husks) here is what I am saying the Qliphoth are.

Qliphoth

Æons before the first demons crawled out of the Primordial Chaos or the first Angel fell to become a Baalseraph there was a race of beings of surpassing knowledge, grace, and power. Akin to gods they were and like gods they wished to be.  Not for power or glory, but for the purpose of knowing the fundamental workings of the cosmos to become one with it.  Their success was gained when they came upon a plan to shed all that was impure, unholy, and evil in their natures and discard them.  They sluffed off this evil and became luminous beings of pure energy and light.  Leaving behind the husks of what they were, tainted with unspeakable evils as only an immortal race of super-beings can produce.  These husks began of a "life" of their own. Evil, knowing they had been discarded, and festering in the darkest parts of Chaos.  It took them millennia, and in that time other creatures had come to populate the sinkholes of evil they had called their prison and home.  They despised these creatures as much as they despised their former selves and their new selves.  The Qliphoth had been born.

Qliphoth inhabits the same areas that are inhabited by the Calabim, demons of destruction, the chaotic demons that call the Primordial Chaotic abysses their home.  They share some qualities, immune to poison, possessing telepathy, and darkvision. Like other demons, they take only half damage from electricity and fire, but also acid.  Their minds are so alien to humanoids that they are resistant to any mind-affecting magics like sleep, charm, and hold spells.  All Qliphoth are the stuff of nightmares and only vaguely resemble something the human mind can process, so a save vs. Petrify or Paralysis is required when they are first seen. If the subject fails they cannot attack for 1d4 rounds.

It is said that Qliphoth exists for one reason alone, to reunite with the begins that cast them off.  Each subtype of Qliphoth is connected to a particular individual.  If they can reunite then all of that type will cease to be.  Otherwise, they will attempt to kill and devour the being that abandoned them.  Until such time they will kill and devour anything else in their path of destruction.

The Qliphoth are named for the part of the Tree of Death they are said to have originated in. 

Nehemoth.  These are whisperers or the night specters.  They are the weakest of the qliphoth having only spirit forms.

Gamaliel. These are the "obscene ones" and appear as nightmarish distortions of human figures with exceptionally large and exaggerated sexual organs. They were the unnatural sexual urges cast off by the Luminous Ones.

Samael. These Qliphoh appear as beautiful humans but all their words are lies. They drip poison and are a horror to behold in their true form which takes the shape of nightmares.

A'arab Zaraq. These are the Ravens of Dispersion.  They appear as hideous demon-headed ravens with wings of molten lava. 

Tharirion. These are are the Zomiel, giant demons coated in dark black blood that burns to the touch. They constantly fight amonst themselves unless ordered by a stronger creature.

Golachab. These creatures are demons surrounded by fire. They constantly burn the exist only to cause destruction and pain.

Gha'agsheblah. These creatures are giants with the heads of demonic cats. They eat everything they can.

Sathariel. These creatures are heads surrounded by swirling black mists. Only their glowing red eyes can be seen.  Their riddles cause madness.

Ghagiel. Huge demons with serpents wound around them.  They are found of destroying libraries and other institutions of learning and wisdom. 

Thaumiel. The most powerful of the Qliphoth. The shadow of their former selves.  Appears as a towering beast of shadow and destructive purpose. 

--

Ok. No stat block on this one yes because I am not far enough along yet to merit one.  Plus I need to get these demons to really be scary. Right now they are not.  And I'll need to read some more Kabbalah to get a good feel about what these creatures do and how to tease them apart from other types of demons.

I have some time. This is just the first draft of these guys.

April 2021 A to Z


Monday, April 19, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: P is for Púca

It began with Harvey. 

A little odd piece of trivia for you. Back in High School and College my knick-name was Harvey. Not because of the movie of the same name, but for other reasons too long to get into here. But people always asked me if it was because of the movie. I got tired of hearing about it so I watched the movie, as was my habit, with my dad.  He loved it of course, it had been a you man (younger than I am now) when it came out so he had good memories of it.  I enjoyed it too, but I enjoyed mostly because my dad did.  But that was my first introduction to a "Pooka."

Since then I have run into the pooka in other places. Robin Goodfellow of the Bard's Midsummer Night's Dream is another fine example. The creature always seemed perfect for D&D yet I can't find many examples of it outside of Celtic-focused gamebooks.

Puck (Fuseli, 1810-1820)
Púca
AKA Phooka, Puka, Pwca
Small or Medium Fey (Chaotic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [10]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
   Small: 2d10+2* (9 hp)
THAC0: 9 (+10)
Attacks: 1 bash 
Damage: 1d6-1
Special: Fey, invisibility, shape-shifter, vulnerable to cold iron
Save: Monster 2
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 8 (-1) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 10 (0) Cha: 14 (+1)

The púca (pl. púcaí) is a shape-shifting fey creature related to both goblins and to brownies. The natural shape of the púca is debated by scholars, but it is believed to be a small fey creature with animal-like features such as rabbit years, whiskers and pronounce front teeth.  It is suggested that they even have little horns.

While not an evil creature, the púca delights in causing all sorts of mischief. They can take the shape of any animal they choose from Small to Large. They can even shapeshift into a medium humanoid creature. They will appear human, or elflike, but will have some feature of an animal such as goat legs, rabbit ears, or a tail.  A favorite trick of a púca is to shift to a magnificent horse and tempt humans to ride it. Once the rider is on they burst into breakneck speeds and give their rider a terrifying ride. They will then deposit the confused and worn-out rider miles away from where they started. Another favorite trick is to shift into a small adorable animal such a baby bunny or kitten. When a human picks them up they will begin to yell at them in common speech and shift to a small, but ugly goblin. The púca delights in these pranks and never means to cause injury or harm. 

The púca prefers to avoid all combat situations. They are not strong fighters at all and will use their invisibility to stay out of most fights. They can become invisible at will and remain invisible until attacked. If force they can usually bask with a fist or head bash. The púca's innate fear of iron prevents them from picking up and using any weapon.  Iron weapons cause double damage to a púca.

Púcaí though can be bribed and even befriended if presented with their favorite blackberry wine.  A drunk púca can foretell the future in a limited fashion, resulting in anyone sharing wine and stories with one a +1 on any roll between the sunrise the next day and the next new moon. A drunk púca though is a handful as it randomly shape-shifts throughout the night.

There are tales of evil púca the eat humans or drink their blood. But this is likely some other creature. 

--

So not a creature you are going to go out to pick a fight with.  Not that you can't but there is not much point in that.  While I am keenly aware that D&D can often devolve into a game of just fighting monsters (and I have enjoyed those games in the past too), monsters don't have to exist just to be killed by the PCs.   Our púca here is a good example of that.


April 2021 A to Z


Saturday, April 17, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: O is for Orc, Desert

Given I kicked off this whole idea with a detailed round-up of the Orc across the editions, it behooves me to at least stat one up.  But which one?  I have a few.  In truth, there is one I have been sitting on for long while now and I should pull it out for a special occasion.  I think that day is today.  Plus I have done so many water-based creatures, time for something different.  

So here is a monster that I talked about in the first days of this blog nearly 12 years ago! The Desert Orc.

Orc, Desert

He was an orc. That was obvious. Though there was something different about him and the others.  What I had originally taken to be smaller, younger orcs were in fact elves. Orcs and elves! Traveling together across this great expanse of desert. More than that, they acted as if they were kin!  They invited us to their tents where one orc and one elf who referred to each other as “brother” went about an elaborate tea ritual where we were served first. The orc and the elf then presented to each other their cups of tea in something akin to prayer or benediction. Once they drank they turned and smiled at each other. Ritual satisfied, they turned to us. The orc, Nom’dosh Thurgash and his elven brother Nom’dosh Etain, both greeted us in the most cultured elven I have heard outside of the Silver Forests.

“Welcome fellow travelers. How may the humble members of the Nom’dosh Clan aid you?” 

- From the Journal of Larina Nix

Male Orc by Jacob Blackmon
Male Orc by Jacob Blackmon
Medium Humanoid (Orc)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 2d12 (3d20) with roughly an equal number of Desert Elves
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Neutral (Good)]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1d8+2 (7 hp)
THAC0: 16 (+3)
Attacks: 1 weapon (halberd) 
Damage: 1d8+2
Special: Can move about in sunlight with no penalty
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: I (P) 
XP: 15 (OSE) 15 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 12 (0) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (2) Cha: 12 (0)

Desert Orcs appear to be normal orcs. However, these orcs have more than just a glint of intelligence in their eyes. While their faces are still animal-like, the fierce scowl has been replaced with a stoic set to their jaw, a purpose in their eyes, and a bearing that can't be described as anything else but noble.  These orcs, with their sandblasted faces and long pale hair strike you as something new and different. 

Desert Orcs are nomads, their ancestral homes in the deserts were destroyed centuries ago by humans. Though they fought back and shook off the yokes of slavery and tyranny by the humans.  They travel with the only other people that helped them in their great revolution, the desert elves.  Desert elves and desert orcs now consider themselves as one people.  They are brothers and every clan has orc and elf members that are equal in all things. 

Once united they then discovered that they had skills that were mutually beneficial to each other. Orcs are still militaristic with small war cadres connected to powerful elf families. For an orc, it is an honor to serve since the more powerful the elf family the stronger their own cadre is respected. The stronger the orc cadre, the more respected the family is and the more likely they will get goods to trade. An elf sultan will travel without his wife for example, but never without his orc escorts.

For every 10 desert orcs, there will be a cadre leader of the 2nd to 4th level.  For every 50 there is an additional war chieftain of 5th to 7th level. For every 100 there is a marshall and for larger groups a general.  Cadres will still fight against each other in mock skirmishes, and while damage will be done they are rarely fatal.  A desert orc will never raise a blade against an elf and likewise, a desert elf will never raise a blade against a desert orc.  Over 1000 years of mutual respect and fighting side by side has torn down the ancient hatred that has infected their rest of their brethren worldwide.

Tea Ritual

There is a ritual that all desert orcs and desert elves will practice.  When camp is made the sultan of the elves and the war chieftain of the orcs will meet in their open tent. The sultan will help the chieftain remove his armor while the war chieftain prepares the tea.  When both tasks are complete, and to do this correctly requires practice so both are done at the same time. The sultan and the chieftain offer each other the tea with the renewed promise that their lines will continue to fight and honor each other. Then the remaining elves and orcs will complete their camps.  If guests are present then they are served first but no elf or orc are allowed to drink until their respective leaders complete their oaths and drink.

The only species they truly distrust are humans. They both recall the tales of depredations at the hands of the Necromancer Kings.  Although humans approaching their camps or caravans with respect will be heard.

--

Ok. So yeah I did it. I made "Good" Orcs.  In fact, I made them 12 years ago.  I also did "Good" kobolds.

Orcs are like Klingons.  Yes, they were two-dimensional and evil in the TOS days, but now we are in the Next Generation and Orcs can be more.  Are violent? Of course! Do they still kill people? They sure can!  Are they inherently evil?  No. Not these orcs.  I have other orcs that are every bit as evil as are demons, but individuals can and do vary.

Likewise I am almost at a point in my games where Drow are going to split off into two separate factions, the evil demon-worshipping one and a less evil faction that wants reunification with the other elves.  

So if Orcs are my Klingons, then to use a metaphor I have been using since the early 80s, elves and drow are my Vulcans and Romulans.  Just like them the Vulcans and Romulans are now a new species, the Nivar.  I don't have a name yet for my combined elves.

I am also adding an occasional bit to some entries, "From the Journal of Larina Nix." Or how these creatures are from the point of view of an adventurer.  I figure my iconic witch is as good as any to present these details.

April 2021 A to Z


Friday, April 16, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: N is for Nuckelavee

Much like the Merrow, this creature has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for the better part of 25 years.  I just never could get it the way I wanted it. I think today is that day! One of the true monsters of Celtic myth and legend, I present to you the Nuckelavee.

Nuckelavee by James Torrance (1859–1916)
Nuckelavee
Large Monstrosity (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
   Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8* (44 hp)
   Large: 8d10+8* (52 hp)
THAC0: 9 (+10)
Attacks: 2 claws or weapon + Breath Weapon
Damage: 1d4+3 x2 or 1d8+3, 
Special: Breath weapon (fetid gas), dark vision
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 1,200 (OSE) 1,240 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 13 (+1) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (0) Cha: 4 (-2)

The nuckelavee is a monster in the truest sense of the word. It appears to be a large horse with a human rider, but closer inspection reveals the true horror of the creature.  The "rider" and "horse" are the same creature.  The "human" part has a huge grinning mouth with arms that are so long that its claws drag the ground.  The "horse" part has legs that end in both fins and hooves, giving it the ability to move about on land and the sea. The "horse" head has one huge eye in the middle of its forehead.  The entire creature is skinless and the muscles and sinew are visible. The creature is covered in black blood.

The nuckelavee hates all life and will attack anything in its path.  It prefers to stay in the salt-water sea, freshwater is treated like acid to it (1d4 hp of damage per vial), so it will not come ashore when it is raining.  It hates the smell of burning seaweed and will come ashore to put out any fires burning seaweed and kill whoever is doing the burning.

Nuckelavee will attack with their claws most times. They are capable of wielding weapons and will choose a club or spear, but they prefer to use their own claws. They are strong (Strength 18) but only average intelligence (10).  The worst attack of the nuckelavee is their fetid breath.  From their horse head, they can breathe out a fetid poisonous gas that affects all in a 60' long, 30' wide (5' base) cone. Victims must save vs. Poison.  Those at or under 7 HD must save or take 4d8 hp damage (save for half), those over 7 HD save or take 2d8 hp of damage (save for none).  Anyone failing the save will incapacitate for 2d8 rounds and unable to move or attack. 

Nuckelavee prefer the flesh of warm-blooded creatures. It ignores merrows and selkies, though they can usually out-swim the nuckelavee in the sea and outrun them on the land.  

Water Horses

The nuckelavee would be a natural enemy to the kelpie and likewise, save for the fact that nuckelavees can not enter fresh water and kelpies rare venture out into the sea. There seems to be a relationship between the nuckelavee and the each-uisge.  The nuckelavee is also related, somewhat distantly, to the nøkk, though both creatures refuse to acknowledge this.  The best way to offend a nøkk is to ask if it is a nuckelavee.  Kelpies, each-uisge, nuckelavees, and nøkks are all either descended from a common creature or have all adapted similar forms as a means of capturing prey.  

--

Returning today are the Ability scores. I played around with them a bit more and have been getting some feedback so I wanted to pull them back out.  I think I am going to keep them in the stat block.

This creature is large and therefore has two lines for HD/hp.  In my games I will use the increased hp total. 

All in all I am happy with this one!

April 2021 A to Z




Thursday, April 15, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: M is for Merrow

I have commented on how it is Greek mythology that brought to D&D via the Monster Manual and this month is largely a celebration of that. While Greek myths got me here, it is Norse and Celtic myths that have kept me coming back for more.

Today I had an undead monster ready to go, and it was fine, it was a good monster.  But it didn't excite me very much. It's great for my book, but not so much for a blog post trying to get excitement for that book.  So instead I am going with some more fey creatures, but this one is a little different.

John William Waterhouse - Mermaid
Merrow
Gwenhidw, Jennys
Medium Fey (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Good / Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
 Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 1d8+1 (6 hp)
THAC0: 18 (+1)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6
Special: Magic cap
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 19 (OSE) 21 (LL)

Merrows are shy water faeries that appear off the coasts of the oceans.  They prefer to spend their time frolicking in the shallows of tide pools and having swimming contests.  All merrow seen by land dwellers will be female.  The males refuse to have anything to do with the people of the land and will not come close to it.

Similar to a mermaid, the merrow appears to be a beautiful humanoid woman's upper half. Her hair is often green, usually seafoam green, but darker sea plant colors are also common.  Her fish-like tail is of the same color.  The most notable thing about them though is their bright red cap. This is their only treasure.  

If she is spotted the merrow will immediately flee to swim back to her home under the waves. They will avoid combat whenever they can. Though some will curious enough to seek out any humans.  Merrow are curious about humans, in particular human men. Their own males are evil, brutish, and ugly.  By use of their magic caps, a merrow can change her shape to that of a human and walk on land.  As long as she posses this cap she can move freely between the sea and land.  As a sign of trust and love a merrow can give another human her cap and thus tying her to the land forever.   Land-based merrow are indistinguishable from normal humans, though they will often learn witchcraft.

Merrows are also known as Gwenhidw or "Jennys," but this could also be the name of one of their most famous members. The offspring of merrows and humans are completely human, but they feel a call of the sea and make exceptional sailors or sea witches.  A merrow still tied to the sea does not have a soul, but if they commit to the land then they are granted a new soul.  

Male Merrows: These creatures are as ugly as the women are beautiful and evil where their counterparts are good.  They never come to the surface when they can avoid it and they are generally not welcomed. Their faces are the worst combination of humanoid and fish and their whole body is covered in green fish scales.  It is said that when a Jenny comes to land and chooses a human husband her merrow father will follow her to bring her back.  The merrow will challenge the human to a game, usually, a drinking game, if the human wins the merrow returns to the sea and leaves his daughter behind.  If the merrow wins he returns to the sea with his daughter and the soul of the human.  Particularly old and evil merrow have a collection of these souls they keep in cages at the bottom of the sea as humans might keep a pet bird in a cage. 

--

This entry pulls together a lot of threads that have been rummaging around in my head for years.

Starting with the idea of Jennys and Merrows, they *might* two different creatures, but it is hard to tease apart all these myths especially when they are all so close to each other; both in content and in geography.  I like the idea of the merrows, or Jennys, as being genuinely curious about humans. Plus I liked the Jenny character from Anita. The Jenny stealing a kiss from Anita convinced me that these creatures were not evil and actually kinda liked humans.

 The idea of the Merrow men and the soul cages has been with me forever it feels like, though they were very nearly demons.  Here they are just assholes. Evil, dangerous, but still assholes. 

To say these ideas were not influenced by this would be disingenuous.

There are a lot of parallels between the merrow and pagans from the British Isles and the general belief that the Fey do not have souls.  In a game set in a magical Medieval Europe then a Jenny would need to be baptized before she would get a soul. Then of course she is no longer a merrow.   There are likely some unpleasant parallels here involving the patriarchy, salvation, goodness vs. freedom, choice, and more.  And it is all completely intentional.   Remember I am usually on the side of the pagans and freedom here.    I would rule that a Jenny deciding to stay on land with a witch would not need to give up her power or autonomy.  That's because witches understand this. 

April 2021 A to Z

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: L is for Lilith

Lilith by Isra Llona
Lilith by Isra Llona
Last verse, same as the first.

This one should not be a surprise really. I have done Lilith many times before in my April A to Z. She was in my A to Z of Demons (2013),  A to Z of Witches (2014), and my A to Z of Vampires (2015).  So naturally, I want to bring her back for my A to Z of Monsters.

Lilith is fantastic. I am a sucker for any story she is in, and if she shows up on a TV show, even better.

In my A to Z of Demons (2013) I talked about how she is the mother of the Lilim Demons and what they all are.  In many, many ways she is not just the mother of demons, she is the mother of Basic Bestiary II: Demons & Devils.  It was because of the Lilim that I wanted my own demon monster book.

While the Lilim have appeared in other books of mine, namely Eldritch Witchery (with Lilith on the cover), The Warlock, and The Daughters of Darkness, I have been tinkering with them for much longer than that.  

In 2014 I talked about her relationship with witches and then expanded on that in Daughters of Darkness.  Here I listed her as "Chaotic Evil."  In Eldritch Witchery she is just "Evil" and in The Warlock she is "Chaotic."  This is all well and good, but it doesn't really fit with her does it?  Lilith certainly has a lot of chaotic attributes, but I see her more as Neutral Evil.  She may not have started out as Evil, but as they say, sometimes you play the hand dealt to you.  I am still going back and forth on NE or CE at the moment.

Lilith by John Collier
Lilith
aka Mother of Demons, Mother of Monsters, the First Woman, Queen of Night
Medium Fiend (Lilim)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
 Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 19d8+76***** (162 hp)
THAC0: 7 (+12)
Attacks: special (see below)
Damage: See below
Special: See below
Save: Witch 19
Morale: 12 (-)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 7,750 (OSE) 8,000 (LL)

Lilith was the first human woman. She rebelled against the gods that created her and now controls armies of demons.  The gods won't work against her or strike her down because she knows all their True Names. This makes her the most dangerous creature in the universe. Long and ancient pacts between Lilith, demons, devils and the gods keep an uneasy balance of power.  If Lilith were to truly seek out the power just within her grasp, the gods themselves would know fear.

Lilith is also the mother of monsters.  She is the mother of demons, having spawned so many, but she is also the mother of vampires and many say, witches. She rejects these titles and her many offspring.  The only ones she is even remotely interested in are the Lilim, the so-called Daughters of Lilith. 

Queen Lilith never openly attacks.   She considers combat beneath Her and will not partake in it.  Her arena is intrigue, guile, and deception.  Why fight when a cup laced with poison or a dagger in the night is much quicker.  If forced into combat she can summon pretty much any demon she likes except for the Baalor and Baalroch demons.  If it comes down to it, Lilith can cast spells as 20th level Witch of the Demonic Tradition, though she has access to every witch spell known.

As the mother of all Lilim, she shares their powers and weaknesses.

Damage types: Acid (Full), Cold (Half), Electricity/Lightning (None),  Fire, magical (Half), Fire, non-magical (None), Gas, poisonous (None), Iron Weapon (Full),  Magic / Arcane Blast (Full), Poison (None), Silvered Weapon (Half).  

Powers (at will): Charm person or Charm monster, Darkvision, ESP, Hold Person, Immune to fear, Night Vision, Shapeshift (human, demonic, spirit), Suggestion, Telepathy, and Teleport.

Three times a day she can cast fireball, lightning bolt, and wall of fire. One a week she can grant a wish. She can see perfectly in darkness of any kind. Lilith can summon 1d4+4 lilitu demons with a 100% chance. 

She always appears as a young, very attractive woman.  Most often with long flaming red hair.  It is claimed her true form is that of an ancient hag with long, but sparse wild black hair, talons, fangs, and the wings and the feet of a predatory bird.  Either or neither could be her true form. She can shapeshift to any form she likes at will. Her telepathy allows her to assume a form the viewer most desires.

Lilith has no true friends because most fear her.  She is known to ally herself with the Goddess Ereshkigal since both have similar portfolios and areas of concern.  Some even claim that Lilith spent some time as Ereshkigal's handmaiden.  Others claim she served Astártē or Ishtar. She was once the chief consort of Hell, but even the Baalseraph fear her.

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OK! My first major demon.  REALLY gets me into the mood to work more on the demon book.  But I still have the BB1 to finish first.  Plus doing this entry makes me realize how much more groundwork needs to be done on the demons and the regular monsters still. 

Her AKA line includes her titles, whether she likes them or not.

In the Hit Dice line she has 5 stars, which means she has five special abilities that contribute to her combat power and thus raise her XP value.  I am not sure if she is 5 or not.  Once I get done with all my monsters I will survey them and edit them appropriately. 

There are details here, such as her Lilim powers, that will be offloaded from her entry and put into the Lilim entry proper.  I just needed it here for now.

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: K is for Kelpie

Another "revised" monster today.  This one though is a revision of a monster that appeared back in the AD&D Fiend Folio from 1981.   Now I loved the Fiend Folio. While the Monster Manual was the first D&D book I ever looked at, the Fiend Folio was the first hardcover monster book I ever bought.  I would use it with my Basic and Expert Sets (Moldvay/Cook) and that would be my game.

One creature though I more or less ignored until I began reading Celtic myths was the Kelpie.

Now in the Fiend Folio, the monster Kelpie is a plant-like creature that is only superficially related to the Scottish Kelpie.  In fact, the creature in the FF has more to do with kelp (as in seaweed) than a kelpie.  So I figure I would update the creature a bit.

The Kelpie by Thomas Millie Dow, 1895
Kelpie
aka Water Horse
Medium Fey (Aquatic, Monstrous)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
   Swim: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6* (33 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: grab
Damage: NA
Special: Charm, Shapeshift, Water breathing
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX (D) 
XP: 650 (OSE) 680 (LL)

The kelpie, also known as a water horse, is a shape-shifting creature of the fey that lures men to their watery lairs to their deaths.  The kelpie can appear as a beautiful woman, a handsome lad, a magnificent horse, or in its true form, a skinless, blood and slime-coated monster that combines the features of both humanoid and horse.   They live in dark and dangerous rivers and fast-moving streams.

The kelpie can only attack with its charming song which attacks like a powerful Charm Person spell. The kelpie will charm the person to approach her, in either her nymph or horse form. Once she gets her victim into the water she wraps herself around them with her strong limbs and drags them to the bottom of her lair where they drown. Victims are allowed a save vs. Spells at a -2 due to the power of the kelpie's song.  Once in the "arms" of the kelpie, the victim will need to make a simple Strength check (roll a d20 to roll under their strength score). They may attempt this in the first round they are underwater. They may recheck each round at a cumulative +2 penalty (added to their roll) each round hereafter. So +2 in round two, +4 in round three.  Once the penalty is greater than the victim's strength they drown.  

A kelpie in humanoid or horse form can move about the land but are recognizable by a few signs. In humanoid form, their hair always seems wet and they will wear a silver chain around their neck. In equine form, their hooves will appear to be backward from that of normal horses. They must return to their watery lair each new moon.  While in their humanoid or equine shape they may be "turned" by a cleric.  This turning treats them as a 6 HD creature, but they are not undead.  On a successful turning check, the Kelpie will revert back to their normal form and must get to her watery lair. All charm effects she has cast at that point end.

The Kelpie appears to be related to the nøkk of colder more northern waters.  They share a certain number of similarities, but the nøkk is not evil. 

Each-uisge. This creature is related to the kelpie and is if anything more monstrous and evil. Where the kelpie lives in rivers and streams, the each-uisge lives in lakes (lochs).  While it is unknown what the kelpie does with the humans she kills, the each-uisge has been known to eat its prey.

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Updates.  

In the description line, the kelpie gets both an Aquatic and a Monstrous descriptor.

Since the Kelpie has better than average strength (14 in this case) I updated my THAC0 calculations to support Strength bonuses. This will not change most of my monsters since most have average strength.  But it will change others and give monsters in this book an edge over their counterparts in other books.   Of course, the Kelpie doesn't cause HP damage so her strength is not a factor in that.   

This is also one of the first "Variations" I have posted that don't require a full second set of stats, like the Faun and Greater Faun from last Wednesday.  The each-uisge is essentially the same creature, stats-wise, just from a different location and temperament.

Contrast this with the nøkk which is a similar creature but of a completely different temperament and nature.  While I could have used the same stats (and they are similar) they are different enough to make them a completely separate entry.  This means I should do a Nuckelavee too.


April 2021 A to Z