Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

SPI's Demons (1979)

SPI's Demons game
I celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary over the weekend.  I have now been married for over half my life!  We went downtown to see the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. I got us the Premium tickets, and glad I did, we sat through the whole thing twice!  It was completely amazing. We ate at a new fusion Thai place and of course, no date night is complete for us without a stop at a bookstore.

Since so many of the bookstores we used to go to over the last three decades are closed, we stopped at Half-Price Books.  

I found this little gem, SPI Demons.

At first I thought it was an add-on or supplement for the DragonQuest RPG.  They look rather similar really.  But closer examination revealed that it was really a board game.

In any case, I could not say no to this. Besides, look at that cover!  That demon is fantastic!

I got it home and since it was late I let sit on my dining room table for a bit.  I finally got around to looking at it yesterday.  Turns out that only is this game whole, and unpunched it looks like it is near mint condition!

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

Ah. Nothing says the late 70s like oil shortages. 

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

Contents of the SPI Demons boxed game

It is a rather attractive game in a late 70s War-Games-bleeding-into-RPGs way.

I posted some pictures of this over the weekend and I was reminded that TSR bought SPI back in the day and absorbed them.  WotC who now owns all of TSR's IP also owns SPI.  They could rerelease this if they wanted to.  Sadly there is really no reason to.  The cash cow in that arena is D&D and even DragonQuest, who could do well, suffers from comparison.   TSR, like them or not, straight up murdered SPI and the body is too dead to Raise Dead.

BUT that doesn't mean *I* can't perform a bit of Necromancy myself! 

This game could feed into my "Traveller Envy" quite well.

DragonQuest & Demons

The obvious thing to do here is use that Demons map of Albania and do it as a DragonQuest Hex crawl.  And I mean a proper Hex crawl that also just so happens to be filled with demons and wizard hunters.   The magistrate or wizard hunter's angle of the game also made me think of THIS unholy abomination.

DragonRaid vs. Demons

Maybe instead of "EdenAgain" the DragonRaiders are in the old country fighting demons?  That one is a bit of stretch really.  Also I would need some sort of converter to sit in the middle; likely D&D.  Though these both will contribute to my War of the Witch Queens campaign. 

Warlocks & Warriors & Demons

These two games share a lot of similarities in tone and publication time.  Both are essentially the bridges between war games and RPGs as board games. Both feature a wilderness area to explore, monsters (demons) to defeat, and treasure to collect.  Slightly higher on the complexity scale than Dungeon! but not quite full-blown RPGs.   You can read my overview of Warlocks & Warriors here

Demons from Mayfair and SPI

These two do not have a lot in common other than name and subject matter.  But both would be equally fun resources in my games. 

Like I say though I might not figure out how to get these to all work together (or even some of them) but it will be fun trying.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Qliphoth, Gamaliel

One of the things I am most looking forward to in my Basic Bestiaries is developing new and different demonic lineages. One of these I have spoken about in the past is the Qliphoth.

The Qliphoth are the discarded husks of primordial beings.  It is natural to think of them like the husks or used exoskeletons of cicadas, or even the skins of snakes. Since these beings were more than mortals currently are and became even more ascended, their husks are more than just leftover skins or skeletons.

Case in point the Gamaliel.  

Gamaliel as a Sensory Homunculus

When the Primordials shed their "husks" or "peels" to be the Luminous Beings, one such husk was their dark sexual desires.  As hyper-intelligent immortal and immoral kindred, their desires were particularly dark. As they shed their evil desires their conscious and subconscious sexual desires and yearnings became the Gamaliel.

Gamaliel based on the Sensory Homunculus
Gamaliel

Medium Fiend, Qliphoth (demon)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6*** (45 hp)
Attacks: 2 hands, 1 tongue + special
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d4+1
Special: Cause delirium, Qliphoth immunities
Save: Monster 6 
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

Str: 14 (+1) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 18 (+3) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 7 (-1) Cha: 2 (-4)

The Gamaliel, or the Obscene Ones, were among the first of the Qliphoth to be formed.  They appear as medium-sized nearly humanoid-looking creatures.  Their hands, feet, lips, tongue, and sexual organs are enlarged to grotesque sizes in comparison to their otherwise small bodies.  They always appear nude as a mockery of the forms their progenitors eventually took on. They may appear as male or female.

Gamaliel lives for one thing only, sensory stimuli. They want to feel everything, touch, taste, smell and hear everything they can.  Yes, when possible they also try to copulate with anything and everything they can.  They lack the subtlety of the Liliam or Baalseraph or even the guile of Calabim or Shedim.  They are nearly mindless beasts that take no heed of anything but their own twisted desires.

They can attack with their huge hands for 1d6+1 points of damage each.  They may also attack with their tongues at 1d4+1.  Their saliva is such that anyone exposed to it via an attack or touch must save vs Paralysis or become delirious.  This state lasts for 2d6 turns in which case the victim is completely unaware of what is going on around them.  There is a 1 in 6 chance that if they were in a combat situation they will keep on fighting with melee attacks. Targets are chosen at random.

Gamaliel can be easily distracted by auditory and visual illusions. They save at a -2 penalty against such magics and can be effectively distracted long enough to be attacked. 

Like all Qliphoth Gamaliel have the following adjustments to damage types: 
Immune: Mundane/Cold Iron/Silver weapons, Poison
Half Damage (save for none): Acid, Cold, Electricity, Fire (Dragon/Magic/Mundane), Gas
Full Damage: Magic Missile, magic weapons, holy/blessed weapons

Unlike other Qliphoth death (their's or others) is not the goal of the Gamaliel.  A dead foe might have an interesting smell or touch, a live one is more interesting and you can do more with them.  For this reason, the Gamaliel are sometimes considered to be not as evil as other Qliphoth; this is a very erroneous and dangerous assumption. They are every bit as evil.  A quick death is far more merciful than being captured and becoming the plaything of a Gamaliel.

--

The mental image I had of the Gamaliel was immediate. They were life-sized versions of the "Sensory Homunculus" we used to talk about back in cognitive psychology undergrad days.  I always knew I aw going to make a monster out that one day.

They are the Qliphoth counterparts to the succubi with roughly the same HD and some powers.  As I define the Qliphoth more I might increase or decrease various abilities, powers or HD/hp. I might even make them Small sized.  Still working out all the details, but that is where the fun is!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Basic Bestiary Updates

Been a little quiet here I know.  So I figured I'd share an update.

Work is progressing nicely again on my various Basic Bestiaries.   I am still working out the kinks of my semi-universal stat block and work on what looks like will be an obscene number of demons.

Basic Bestiary updates

The complete column is the number that is 100% complete, ready for the last pass of edits.  Started has everything from just a name to almost everything minus one or two details. It also includes the complete. 

You can see that when I did this screenshot I was at 623 demons.  That number has jumped by three completed demons and 10 more incomplete/started.   The 10 are my Qliphoth demons I talked about way back in April.   The Qliphoth are just one of the man new demonic groups I am going to be introducing in this book.  

If you have been following my work for a while now you know I have Lilim, Eodemon, Shedim, Baalserph, and Calabim fiends among all my "demons."  This book will introduce the Qliphoth, Asura, Tarterian, Yaoguai, and Yōkai demonic lineages.I have a total of 11 lineages so far.  I just need to find a better name for the Neutral Evil Daemons. 

AD&D 2nd ed renamed them the Yugoloths, which I kind of liked to be honest, but the name is not OGC.   Even Pathfinder still calls them Daemons.  I mean it works yeah and it helps make it easier to use my books with your old AD&D ones.  But I think I can come up with something better really.   I mean I already split the devils into two separate lineages of the Calabim and the Baalseraph, so I am certainly not being tied down by tradition or nostalgia here. Not to mention my Qliphoth are quite different than Pathfinder's Qlippoth.

So why are there FOUR Basic Bestairies? Ah.  So back in April (I think) I was beginning to realize that my Basic Bestiary had grown too large.  I had already portioned off the demons (good plan) and the book was growing more and more.  Even right now I am at 387 complete non-demonic monsters.  So, I made another cut.

Basic Bestiary I, Monsters & Maleficarum, covers all the monsters that kept coming up in my research over the years on witches and witchcraft. This includes many of my Monstrous Mondays posts.

Basic Bestiary II, Books of the Dead, covers all the undead.  At least half of the book will be vampires.  

Basic Bestiary III, Demons & Devils, is pretty much what it says on the cover.

Basic Bestiary IV, covers...well, let me hold on to that one a little bit longer.

The goal was to release them all in 13-week intervals over the course of a year.  Though now I am giving thought to BBI and BBII to be released right away.  I suppose it depends on how much art I can buy and how much of BBIV I get done.

Speaking of art, I had some great art for these, but now I am planning on using that elsewhere.

I am still planning on releasing these in both hardcover and softcover formats so they can fit on your shelf next to your Advanced and Basic-era books respectively.

Basic Bestiary IBasic Bestiary I

Basic Bestiary IIBasic Bestiary II

Basic Bestiary IIIBasic Bestiary III

I am going with the Romantic period Goya and Füssli because they capture the mood of these books perfectly.  BBIV also goes with Füssli.  

I am quite excited to get these to you.  There will be some familiar faces here, but hopefully changed a bit to make them feel new.  My undead book for example takes all the undead combat rules I have used and puts them all in one place. I also universally use my new draining rules here too.  Demons get updates across the board and even what I call "the usual suspects" get a boost. 

My hope is you get as much fun out of these as I did working on them!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #20

Dragon Magazine #20
This issue has been on my want list for a very long time, well this weekend I finally got a copy and I could not be happier.  My copy is a little worse for the wear, but still I am happy. So let's get right to it!

This issue comes to us from November 1978, exactly one year before I would discover D&D.  The cover is a Halloween-inspired one, and frankly, I think it is great. It has a Ravenloft feel to it, five years early.  It's one of those that rewards you the more you look into it. I can't tell who did it though. I want to say Tom Wham. 

I also should point out that this isn't "Dragon #20" this is "The Dragon #20".  

We learn from Tim Kask's editorial that the price of The Dragon has gone up to $2.00 per issue. Plus they are going to a new printer for color, things look better, but there is a cost.  Out on a Limb is coming back and I guess it was "controversial."  

Up first Marc Miller talks about his game Imperium, described as "1977's Game of the Year."  He gives us a bit of history of how the game was created and it completely invokes all my Traveller Envy.  Marc follows this up with some rules addendums. 

Some reprinted editorials from Gygax; Dragon Rumbles #19. Largely about Gen Con and Origins. Gen Con is expanding and having growing pains. 

Speaking of expanding, TSR is looking for a new assistant to Gary Gygax.  You need to have good typing, spelling, and proofreading skills.  I wonder who got the job?  I have my guesses.

Job ad, be Gary's assistant.

Mike Crane has a nice random table of various Eyes and Amulets for Empire of the Petal Throne. Easily adaptable to D&D of course, if I knew what any of them actually did. 

Nice big ad for Star Trek minis, 75mm versions at $10.95 each. 

Jerome Arkenberg is up with a great one, The Mythos of Polynesia for Dungeons & Dragons.  The format is similar to what we find in "Gods, Demigods, and Heroes."  It is detailed enough for me to do a One Man's God for it but I know so little about these myths. The gods themselves are an interesting lot. Of them all, I knew Pele and Tangoroa the best. 

Wormy is next and in full color. 

Ah. Here is the reason why I bought this issue. 

Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D by Ronald Pehr.  This article is a sequel to the article from Dragon #5, and the prequel to the ones in Dragons #43 and #114. This one is more detailed than the one found in TD#5.  This one still has the disclaimer of an "NPC Class" but offers it as a potential PC class for some DM's games.   This one also makes the connection that witches are to magic-users as druids are to clerics. The author does point out that a witch is typically neutral although individuals can be good or evil as they please.  They are not Satan/Devil worshipers even if they can summon supernatural assistance. The author points out that Cleric, Druids, and Magic-users can summon the same sort of aid.   He also dismisses the stereotype that all witches are solitary old hags indicating they need to be to work with others and in harmony with nature so a Charisma of 9 is needed at the minimum.

Presented here are 18 levels in OD&D format. They have saves and attack rolls like that of the Magic-user but require more XP, 3,000 points needed for level 2 and it scales on from there.  This witch gains several powers per level as well.  Why making a Bag of Holding comes before the more stereotypical Brew Love Potion I don't know, I do know that even I think this witch is pretty damn powerful.  

This witch also has spells up to the 8th level.  This has always felt right to me as being between the Cleric and the Magic-user.  Even in modern games where every spellcasting class has access to 9th level spells I still like the idea that Wizards/Magic-users have access to greater magics, even above my beloved witches.  She may be limited to "only" 8th level spells here, but some of these spells...damn.  "Destroy Life Level." "Wither," "Circle of Distegreation."  I don't recall if all of these made it forward to issues #45 or #114, but they are some pretty powerful spells. 

The first part covers two pages then it is continued on for a quarter page later in the magazine.  What strikes me the most is not how really overpowered this class is (it was toned down in #45 and #114), or the casual sexism in the presentation ("it provides a very viable character for ladies," it was 1978 after all), but the fact that this was the headlining article and there is no art associated with it. 

This version of the witch is the one I have typically associated with Holme's Basic set. Mostly because they share a publication time. This fits since the witch from The Dragon #5 is very obviously an OD&D witch and the one from Dragon #45 is connected to the Moldvay Basic game. Also because of the time of publication and because Tom Moldvay did a bit of the editing on that version.  This leaves the obvious connection of Dragon #114 with AD&D 1st ed.

I suppose my collection of Dragon MAgazine witches is complete, more or less. I do not have a copy of The Dragon #5, the first witch, but I do have the reprint in Best of the Dragon Vol. 1 which is identical to what was in #5.

Dragon Magazine covers featuring the witch class.

The second reason I wanted this issue, Demonology made easy; or, How To Deal With Orcus For Fun and Profit by Gregory Rihn.  This article also calls back to The Dragon #5, in particular the article on Spell Research in D&D (also in the Best of Vol. 1).  The editor reminds us that the author, Gregory Rihn also gave us a great article on lycanthropy (again, in the Best of Vol. 1) so they feel this is a worthwhile article.  This article is good. It covers the reasons why a magic-user might want to summon a demon in D&D and then how to do it!  Take a moment to breathe that one in. The Satanic Panic was just about to happen.

There is a lot of detail here and a lot of really awesome role-playability.  I mean really if your wizard or witch hasn't tried summoning some evil from the deeper dark are they REALLY living?  There are even guidelines to what needs to be in the rituals (new vestments, items, even sacrifices) and what sort of tasks of the demon can be demanded.   

This article, plus the witchcraft one, when combined can be used to add a lot of flavor to the Warlocks of D&D 5.  

Halfway, we get some photos of the various winners of awards for 1977 at Gen Con XI. Pictures of John Holmes, his son Chris as well as awards presented by Elise Gygax to Marc Miller and Tim Kask among others.

See Africa and Die! Or, Mr. Stanley, Meet Dr. Livingstone comes to us from none other than Gary Gygax himself providing a review of the game Source of the Nile.  IT is not only a pretty detailed review but also suggests some rule corrections.  The review does make the game sound fun but this is the problem in reading 40-year-old+ game magazines. All the great stuff is long out of print and expensive as hell to find. 

William B. Fawcett gives us a Traveller variant/addition in The Asimov Cluster.  Traveller! Why must you haunt my every step! But seriously, this is the exact sort of thing I would read back in the day and make Traveller feel like this epic sweeping Space Opera.  I am sure it is. I am sure there are people (and I have read their blogs) that are just obsessed with Traveller as I am with D&D who would read the D&D articles and wistfully say "someday. someday I'll play that game and it will be as epic as I imagined."   I did play some Traveller, but mine never got epic.  I don't even know which Traveller system to start with now if I wanted to get back into it.  This is my "Sci-Fi" month. I should figure this one out.

Anyway, this article provides details on the Asimov Cluster with a lot of planets here to provide points of interest for your Traveller game.

A really cool ad for the D Series modules from TSR.  I bet these will be cool.  Followed by a preview of the Ralph Bakshi "Lord of the Rings" movie.

The Drow series and Lord of the Rings

Lyle Fitzgerald gives us a breakdown of character death in It's a Good Day to Die (Death Statistics of D&D Players).  I should note that these are statistics only from his local gaming group. And it is not Players that are dead but rather Characters.  Though props for using this as a title 10 years before Worf would utter the same words.  Though like most things it is better in the original Klingon.   It's an interesting read and might even be a good snapshot of the times.  Maybe I'll create a poll one day to get some more data.  Not that I honestly care much about character death, I just like statistics.

Allen Hammack, a very prolific Dragon writer back in the day, has a rule variant for hidden movement in the War of the Ring game.

Finieous Fingers is up. People talk about being able to judge the generations of games by their feelings on Tracy Hickman. I also say you can make the same judgment on the generations just prior to that on their opinion of FF.  It's fun, but does not fill me with nostalgia.

The Convention Schedule fills a quarter of a page. In a couple of years, it will expand to several pages.

Our last article is about Demonic Possession in the Dungeon from Charles Sagui, a name I don't think I have seen before.  It's a good guide and, as the author points out, something not used enough in games with demons. This article presents demonic possession as sort of a trap to be found in dungeons (well, that is the title after all) and a good use of it. Reading this it is easy to expand on it a little more and get your Regan and Captain Howdy types. 

A nice big ad for the new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook.

Back cover is an add for the Space Gamer magazine. 

Ad for the Player's HandbookAd for the Space Gamer

Counting covers a total of 36 pages, but a lot has been packed into these pages.

It is interesting to read a Dragon from this time period when I was imprinted on Dragon from the Kim Mohan/80s period.  This one feels a little more like a White Dwarf magazine to me.  If you are curious, White Dwarf #9 was published around the same time.  

Also there is a feeling of embracing more games here.  It feels like gamers were far more open about trying out other games than with what some of the older gamers today would lead you to believe.  This is also consistent with how we all played back then.

So yeah. I paid a lot of money for this issue and I don't regret it at all really.  I still have my Dragon CD-ROM with all the PDF files, but having this in my collection is still worthwhile in my mind.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Mail Call! Minis, Blue Rose and Old Dragons

I got a bunch in the mail this past weekend so let's have a look!

Mail call items

HeroForge

Up first,  Some new minis from HeroForge.

Graz'zt in 25mmBold and True, Johan Paladin of Light

Graz'zt and my paladin Johan.  His sword, Demonbane, is on fire because it is a demon-hunting sword and Graz'zt is near.

You can get a better look at Graz'zt below.

Screenshot of Graz'zt

If you click on the HeroForge link here you can even see he has six fingers on each hand!

I forgot who made this, the post on Facebook is gone, but she did a great job.

He compares well to the official mini that was made for him.

Graz'zt minis

Graz'zt minisGraz'zt minis

And he looks good next to my HeroForge Iggwilv.

Graz'zt and Iggwilv minis

Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

The Blue Rose Adventure's Guide is out as a DriveThruRPG POD and it looks great!

Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

This allows you to play a Blue Rose game using the D&D 5th Edition rules. It is surprisingly complete.

Blue Rose Core and Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

You do not need the Blue Rose core rules to play this, but you do need the D&D 5th Edition rules.

A full review coming soon.

Dragon #20

And last, but not at all least, I finally got a copy of Dragon #20 with the Witch class and demonology guide.

Dragon Magazine #20

Witchcraft pages from Dragon Magazine #20

Witchcraft pages from Dragon Magazine #20

Expect a "This Old Dragon" post on this one soon!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Beowulf (2007)

Beowulf (2007)
"I am Beowulf, I am here to kill your monster."

Moving outside of the 80s and the Swords & Sorcery flicks of old to a newer (but still 14 years old) flick.  The big All-Star Robert Zemeckis and Neil Gaiman version of Beowulf.

I figure since all month is about monsters, let's go with one of the most famous monster-hunting tales in the English Language.  

Now let's be upfront about this.  The movie takes some liberties with the source material.  But I don't feel they are undue liberties.  Beowulf at its heart is a tale of good vs. evil, man vs. monster, and in some ways the Pagan world vs the Christian one.   That at least has always been my take on it.

When I first saw this movie it had been years since I had read Beowulf.  I remember it was stuck in the back of a bunch of myths and legends of Greek and Norse myths. The way the book was structured I thought there was a chronological progression of them; the Greek, then the Norse then Beowulf. And there was, to a degree, but not in the way I was thinking about them.  This is a topic I am going to come back to later.

Beowulf (2007)

I imagine that most people reading my blog have some passing familiarity with the story of Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel's Mother.  Today though I am talking about the movie. 

Overall I like this particular version of the story, I am not sure I am 100% happy with the animation though. It reminds me a little too much of Shrek.  Now that would be a movie, replace Grendel with Shrek. Might have been an improvement over the whinny Grendel we get here.  This guy is supposed to be a fearsome demon-like monster.  Not an overgrown kid that can't sleep because his neighbors are partying too hard.  Though getting Crispen Glover to play Grendel was inspired.  Still, there is a bit of an Uncanny Valley to all of this. 

Still though, what a cast!  Anthony Hopkins as King Hrothgar likely his audition for Odin in Thor.  Ray Winstone as Beowulf cuts an imposing figure, but I can't help but think the role would have been better served by the likes of Sean Bean.  John Malkovich as Unferth is woefully underused but still manages to chew up the scenery.  The one though that got everyone's attention was Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother.  Changing her from an ugly monster that was worse than Grendel to a succubus-like seductress was an interesting choice and one I still think works.  Robin Wright plays Queen Wealtheow as a more or less older Princess Buttercup. 

The creatures; Grendel, his mother, the dragon, and the sea monsters all look fantastic. The movie makes the idea that Grendel and his mother are demons. Likely playing into the idea of Pagan vs. Christians. 

Much like the epic poem, the parts leading up to Beowulf's and Grendel's fight and right after it are the best parts.  Afterward, it kind of drags a little for me.

Neil Gaiman wrote the script and did a really good job. 

Gaming Material

I have been posting my Beowulf gaming material now for some time. My two biggest are the Aglæca and Trolla.  This though is another example of something I started thinking more and more about when working on The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition,  a game of fighting demons and other monsters against the backdrop of the rise of Christianity and the decline of Paganism.  Would be a lot of fun.

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


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.

--

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