Showing posts with label monster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monster. Show all posts

Monday, November 29, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Tiâmat

I have talked about Tiamat since the earliest days of this blog.  No surprise really given my love of mythology and my oldest son's obsession with dragons.  It really is a natural fit for me.  I was working on this post a lot over my Thanksgiving break and I went back and forth on a lot of different ideas.  But circumstances came together and I finally decided, last night, what to post.

My oldest started Descent into Avernus this weekend for his 5e group.  We thought that a nice early Christmas present would be the new Gargantuan Tiamat miniature. 

Tiamat "mini"
The Tiamat "mini." Feiya and Larina for scale.

This thing is, well, gargantuan!

Up till now, we had been using the Aspect of Tiamat, the D&D Icon of the Realms Tiamat, and the Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon (more on that guy in a bit). The Queen of Dragons enters a lot into our games. 

This also got me thinking about how I handle dragons in my Old-School games.  In particular how I want to handle them in my Basic Bestiary.   Over the years here I have experimented with various ways to present dragons so they are a constant challenge to any party regardless of size or levels.  There have been some really good innovations over the years starting with the dragons in AD&D 2nd Ed and into 21st Century forms of D&D.  I want to capture the best of the best design principles and also allow them to fit into the design I have already been using with my own monster stats.

I am not really 100% there yet.  

But I am at a point where I can present unique dragons like Tiamat (or Tiâmat as I am presenting her).  I still have a few issues to work out, but since I want to get my money's worth out of that figure here she is.

Tiamat
Tiâmat

Gargantuan Dragon (Evil)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Fly 180' (60') [18"]
  Swim 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 30d8+240****** (375 hp)
 Gargantuan: 30d20+240****** (555 hp)
To Hit AC 0: -2 (0) (+21)
Attacks: 5 bites + 1 tail lash or breath weapons or spell + special
Damage: 3d6+7 x5, 1d6+7 or Breath Weapons or spell
Special: 
Save: Monster 30
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 30,250 (OSE) 30,250 (LL)

Str: 30 (+7) Dex: 10 (+0) Con: 32 (+8) Int: 28 (+7) Wis: 24 (+5) Cha: 22 (+5)

Tiâmat is the mother of all dragons, good and evil.  She was destroyed by her grandson Marduk and was cast out.  Formerly a god she now represents the primordial chaos of the deep sea or even the infinite abyss.  For this reason, she is often seen with the heads of all the major evil dragons, Black (Acid), Blue (Electric), Green (Poison), Red (Fire), and White (Cold). Fittingly, the mother of dragons makes her home in the depths of the Abyss in a layer known as  Têhom, or the "deep".  She is also considered to be the mother, or at least the Grandmother, of all evil and chaotic monsters.

Tiâmat can attack with all five heads per round.  Each head can bite, use their respective breath weapons, or use spells. The bite attacks do 3d6+7 hp of damage each, but the individual heads cannot attack the same Medium-sized or smaller victim at the same time.  A Large or larger-sized target can be attacked by two heads at the same time.  Tiâmat can attack up to five (5) separate targets this way.  Each head can also use their respective breath weapons doing 10d8 (45 hp) up to three times per day.  She will typically attack with her breath weapons first, to overwhelm and awe her opponents and then resort to spells and bite attacks.  Tiâmat believes that opponents need to be dealt with in the quickest, most deadliest, of ways.

Her aura of dragon fear is such that all, even true dragons, have to make a saving throw vs. magic or fall under the effects of a Cause Fear spell. This will affect all creatures regardless of HD/level.  Each head can additionally cast a Magic-user/Wizard spell per round in lieu of a physical attack.  The white head can cast 2 first-level spells and 1 second-level spell.  The black head can cast 2 second-level and 1 third-level. The green head can cast 2 third-level and 1 fourth. The blue head can cast 3 fourth, 2 fifth, and 1 sixth-level. Finally, the red head can cast 3 sixth, 2 seventh, and 1 eighth-level spell.  Tiâmat chooses her spells at the start of her day. She typically opts for spells of control, damage, and ones that can summon support. She does not need somatic or material components for her spells, they come naturally to her. 

Due to her size, Tiâmat cannot make claw attacks while on the ground.  She can attack with her foreclaws when she is flying or swimming.  She is immune to charm, hold, mind-affecting magic, and sleep effects.  She is additionally immune to all sorts of poison. She takes half damage from acid, cold, and fire. She also has 75% magic resistance.

As the Queen and Mother of Dragons Tiâmat she is served by five consorts. These are dragons of largest size and greatest age of their respective dragon types, White, Black, Green, Blue, and Red.  Each one is utterly loyal to Tiâmat, failure to be anything but this will result in their immediate death and their skins put on display.  Tiâmat can summon 2d6+1 evil dragons of any type once per day.

Tiâmat's home plane is known as Têhom, or the "deep." Here there are seven distinct areas that represent the preferred habitat of each of the five evil dragon types. Each one is governed over by her consorts. The sixth area is an ocean, so deep and so dark that no bottom has even been seen.  Tiâmat makes her home here along with sea dragons of all sorts. It is rumored that the great dragon Leviathan also resides here. The seventh and last area is an island that Tiâmat often visits. Here her treasure horde can be found. This land is populated only by undead dragons.

Tiâmat as a Patron
Dragon Tradition Witches and Draconic Pact Warlocks take Tiâmat as their patron.  Chaos mages also look to the Mother of Monsters as their patron, inspiration, and even Goddess.  All dragons, good and evil, regard her as their mother or the first of their kind but only evil dragons and dragon-kin worship her. 

--

Notes

I like this stat block quite a lot.  I can look at it though and tell I still need to define my demons and dragons both a little better. There are ideas I want to express that I am currently not doing.

She is a Gargantuan creature.  So because of that, I am going to be using my alternate HP calculations. A gargantuan creature uses a d20 for HP determination, not the standard d8.  Even with this she is at 30 HD so in standard games she ends up with 375 hp. In my games that is boosted to 555 hp.

A bit on that HD.  Yeah, she has 30 HD.  She is big and bad and is not a monster you find on level 20 of some random dungeon. This flows from the level setting I was doing in One Man's God. Tiamat is not just on the top of the scale, she should be the top.  A former Goddess now cast into the Abyss, that means two things for me. One she is powerful and two she should be a demon of some sort.  She is obviously something more. I have her listed as "Gargantuan Dragon (Evil)" but she would certainly also be an Outsider or even a Fiend possibly. She could even be an Eodemon

Alignment.   I have been playing Tiamat as "Chaotic Evil" since I first started reading Chaos Theory back in the 90s. It always made far more sense to me.  Plus she never really fit into the hierarchy of Hell as far as I was concerned.  I do borrow a page from Paradise Lost and say she was there when the Devils fell.  But that was only one of her lairs in the cosmos. 

What about that Apocalypse Dragon?  Well, I still want to get my money's worth out of him.  So he has been redubbed as Leviathan.  Fitting, given the history my games have had with him.  I will need to revisit my stats for him though. 

Tiâmat and Leviathan
Tiâmat and Leviathan

Links

Links to other Tiamat postings here on the Other Side.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Glory Hound (A Wolfenoot Special)

Once again it is Happy Wolfenoot Everyone!

What, you don't know about Wolfenoot, the holiday to celebrate all that is cool about the wolf and dogs?  Well get yourself over to Wolfenoot.com to find out more then come back here.  Even DriveThruRPG is in on the fun this year with their Wolfenoot sale.

Glory Hound

So the last Wolfenoot I did the lycanthropic Wolf-Witch, this year I am also looking to a book I read for inspiration.  Back in High School, I had to take English from this teacher I was looking forward to having but quickly came to despise.  He was such an arrogant asshole and treated his students like shit. Very much of the type to belittle students for mistakes.  Anyway, the books he has us read were ones that had been on the curriculum for gods know how long. I hated them all and nothing connected with me.  So being a pretty fast reader I would do the assigned reading in the class ad then read something else.  We had this book of short stories and it seemed to me that he would pick the most boring, moronic stories for reading and leave the others alone.  One story I found that I actually rather enjoyed was Emma-Lindsay Squier's "The Soul of Caliban." 

I knew Caliban from Shakespeare's Tempest because of Kalibos in the "Clash of the Titans" movie.  The story focused on an ugly dog, which I imagined looked like Cujo, living somewhere in Canada. He belonged to man who began to treat him poorly after he got married. The story went on from there, but the important part was at the end.  The man came back to his home to see his new baby gone and Caliban limping and covered in blood.  The man reacts and kills Caliban only to discover the dead wolf and the baby pulled away to safety.  The last scene is of Caliban in Heaven being treated by St. Peter (not St. Bernard) saying, (something like) "Mon Dieu Caliban, comme tu es devenu beau !" or "my God Caliban, how beautiful you have grown!"  I thought it was a good story. Certainly written for a Freshman English class to discuss issues like "do dogs have souls?" and so on.

Fast forward to 1989 and the movie "All Dogs Go to Heaven" is out.  I never saw it, but from the title, I thought it might have been the same story.  It wasn't, but that is fine. 

Fast forward again to more recent times and we now get the "All Dogs Go to Sto'Vo'Kor" meme.  Ok, ok I get it.  No need to beat over the head with it anymore.

So for this year's Wolfenoot, I give you the Glory Hounds.  You will excuse me if I also want to slip a little more of The Bard into my games. 

Glory Hounds
Medium Outsider (Angel)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d6+1 (2d6+2)
Alignment: Lawful [Lawful Good]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Fly 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5d8+15*** (38 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 1 bite + special
Damage: 1d6+1
Special: Bark, cause fear, detect evil, fly
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 750 (OSE) 860 (LL)

Str: 15 (+1) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 18 (+3) Int: 12 (+0) Wis: 13 (+1) Cha: 16 (+2)

Glory Hounds are the souls of mortal dogs and wolves who died from an ultimate act of bravery and self-sacrifice.  They ascended to the Heavens and were given forms that matched their brave deeds.   All glory hounds appear as majestic, proud versions of their type of canine. Their head is noble and their visage is one of calm serenity.  That is until they sense evil.  They appear to become fierce and frightening, causing fear (as per the spell) to all around them (10' radius).

Glory hounds exist for one purpose, to destroy evil.  They are sent to the mortal planes to hunt down and destroy all evil influences they can, saving a special hatred for demons and those that abuse children.  A glory hound will unerringly seek out evildoers and attempt to destroy them.  The ancient pacts made by Angels do not apply to glory hounds so they are free to roam the mortal realms as they see fit. Because the pacts between creatures of the upper planes and creatures of the lower planes do not apply to glory hounds they also can not be summoned.  Often glory hounds will be in the company of other angels, typically like a hunting party.  Woe to any evil creature hunted by a dirae with a pack of glory hounds at her sides. 

The glory hound attacks with their bite using pack tactics to the best of their abilities.  They also can bark 3 times per day.  This bark is a loud sonic wave of damage that sounds like a thunder crack.  It will do 5d6 points of damage (save vs. petrification for half) to all in a 120' long (60' wide at the end) cone from the glory hound.  They cause fear against all chaotic (evil) creatures at all times, and can once per day increase this power to all creatures.  

Glory hounds can only be hit by magical weapons.  They take half damage from magical fire and no damage from mundane or non-magical fire.  They are immune to charm, hold and sleep magic or other mind-affecting magic.  They take full damage from lightning and cold. A slain glory hound will discorporate and return to the Heavens.  It will be seven years before that particular glory hound will be powerful enough to return to the mortal realms.

Glory hounds are the natural enemies of hell hounds and vargr.  Attacking these creatures on sight.  Unless accompanied by another angel they will abandon their current mission to fight with hell hounds and vargr.  

Glory hounds will not attack Lawful (good) or Neutral creatures unless attacked.  If Chaotic (evil) creatures are not acting in a way that is overtly evil then they will be ignored as well.

--

Don't forget to howl at the moon tonight!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Illinois Hominids

The weekend before last I drove down to my parent's house to see my dad before his 92nd birthday (his doctor told him he'll likely live to a 100) and my sister for her 51st birthday.  Picked up a few books my sister had for me, mostly older occult books.  But driving through the state and back got me thinking about some more local horrors. I mean there HAS to be something interesting hiding in all those corn and soybean fields.  I also thought about how these creatures would work well in all the occult games I was talking about last week.  

Another thing is I love Bigfoot legends.  I don't believe any of them for a moment, but they are so great for games. Bringing these all together really helps capture the feel of the games I wanted to play in the early 80s. So for that D&D-loving kid in Central Illinois back in the 1980s who loved Bigfoot stories, this is for you. And by "you" I mean "me."

Sassy

Illinois Hominids

When one hears about Illinois the first thing that comes to mind are cornfields, Chicago, and spectacularly corrupt politicians.  One doesn't typically think of 10 ft. tall hominids.   But for the residents of Illinois, these creatures are not unheard of.  They have been spotted all over the state from the northernmost points to the far south point, nearly 400 miles. 

In nearly all cases these creatures try to avoid humanity.  Their great size and obvious strength would make them a threat to any group of investigators, but thankfully they have so far shown no particular desire to attack.  

Illinois Hominids like all species of sasquatches are large, nocturnal creatures that walk upright like humans.  It appears to be omnivorous but its preference is for vegetables and fruits found in the wild.

For this posting, I am going with "Illinois Hominids" as opposed to "Bigfoots" or "Sasquatches" since both of those terms are more associated with creatures of the Pacific Northwest.  "Skunk Apes" are more commonly referring to creatures in the Southern United States. 

I am also grouping creatures together that may, or may not, be classified as Sasquatches in other Bigfoot lore. Most of these creatures have only been reported once.

Dogmen of McHenry County

These creatures are 7" tall creatures that appear to be some sort of simian/canine/hominid hybrid.  Their defining feature is their dog-like faces.  Similar creatures have been sighted in adjoining Cook County, and as far south as Christian (nearly 250 miles to the south) and Woodford Counties. They are noted for their howls in the night.  Many scholars classify these as separate sorts of creatures. 

Cole Hollow Road Monster

Found in central Illinois this creature has been sighted near Peoria, IL, and might be related to the similar Farmer City Monster found further to the east.  This creature is grayish in color and stands 7"-8" tall.  It is quite reclusive and can hide in natural environments with 95% effectiveness and can never be surprised.  

Swamp Hominids of Southern Illinois

Several creatures occupy the lands at the far end of the state. Unlike the other hominids featured here these usually range to about 10' tall and tend to live near swamps or other wetlands.  They also have a smell that can be detected for a 100 yards, any closer and investigators suffer a -3 (or roll with disadvantage) on any attacks.  They share this feature with the Skunk Ape of the southern part of the country. 

These creatures include the Tuttle Bottoms Monster of Harrisburg, IL which also has an elongated snout.  Nearby Enfield in White County also has The Enfield Horror, a fast-moving hominid. 

The Abominable Swamp Slob, also known as the A.S.S., are found in Jackson County near the Shawnee National forest. It can emmit an ear-shattering shriek.  The most famous of these is the Murphysboro Mud Monster and "Sassy" the Shannee Sasquatch. 

RPG Stat Blocks

Basic Bestiary
Illinois Hominds
Basic Bestiary

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 6d8+18* (45 hp)
  Large: 6d10+18* (51 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 8 (+11)
Attacks: 2 fists or rock throw
Damage: 1d6+5 x2 or 2d8+5
Special: Camouflage, Howl (cause fear), Odor
Size: Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None 
XP: 650 (OSE) 680 (LL)

Str: 22 (+5) Dex: 18 (+3) Con: 19 (+3) Int: 10 (+0) Wis: 13 (+1) Cha: 8 (-1)

The hominid can attack with two fists or throw boulders, much like a giant.  The hominid can also howl.  This howl causes fear (as per the spell) to all that hear it who fail a saving throw vs. Paralysis.  Those that fail the save are too frightened to attack or move.

Dark Places & Demogorgons
Illinois Hominids
DP&D, We Die Young

Armor Class: 15
Hit Dice: 6+6 (27 hp)
Move: On Foot - 18 (ignore rough terrain)
Actions: 2
Morale: 8
Terror: 12
HDE: 7

Attack Damage: Fist (d8), Slam (d8), 
Special: Large creature, 20 STR, Toughness +4, can run x4 Move, scream or howl can cause fear.

Bonuses: +5 to Melee attacks, +5 to Melee damage, +5 to Spot, +6 to Listen, +8 to Stealth, +2 to Initiative, +4 to Track.

Hug Attack: In combat, if he attacks with his fists and both hit, he will deliver a bone-crushing hug attack for an additional 2d6+4 hp damage.  A successful DEX check by the target will grant half-damage.

NIGHT SHIFT
Illinois Hominids
NIGHT SHIFT

No. Appearing: 1-3
AC: 6
Move: 40ft.
Hit Dice: 6-8
Special: 2 attacks (fist) Strength, Camouflage, Howl (cause fear), Odor
XP VALUE: 240 (6HD) 480 (7HD)  960 (8 HD)

Camouflage: The hominid can hide with 90% effectiveness.

Howl: The howl of the hominids causes a fear reaction to any that hear it. This is treated like the cause fear spell. This happens only when the hominid is first heard, subsequent encounters with the same creature do not have this fear effect.

Odor: Anyone coming within 10 feet of a hominid must succeed at a Constitution saving throw or be at -3 to all actions due to the overpowering stench.


Dark Street & Darker Secrets
Illinois Hominids
Dark Street & Darker Secrets

Dogmen of McHenry County  6HD

Cole Hollow Road Monster, Farmer City Monsters 7HD

Tuttle Bottoms Monster, Enfield Terror, Abominable Swamp Slob 8HD

Special Abilities: Howl causes fear. Stench causes disadvantages to attacks. Very strong, +4 to all attacks. 

Illinois Hominids avoid the cities at all costs.  

Links

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Sennentuntschi

This particular creature has been on my list to do for a bit.  I had read about this creature in connection to the succubus many years ago but never could find anything else about it.  Mostly I think due to my inability to remember how it was spelled. 

Thankfully I now have the movie to help me out. 

Sennentuntschi
Sennentuntschi

Medium Construct (demonic) 

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8+3*** (23 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 14 (+5)
Attacks: 1 fist or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+2 or by weapon+2
Special: Charm, illusion, immune to mind-affecting magic, immune to poison and gas, only harmed by fire
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125 (OSE) 170 (LL)

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

Sennentuntschi, which is believed to mean "shepherd's wife" or "herdsmen wife," is a type of construct inhabited by a demonic spirit. The creature is created by making a life-sized doll out of clothes, straw, and whatever is on hand and then animated with the demonic spirit. 

The sennentuntschi, once animated, will act as the "wife" of the shepherds who animated her.  She will cook, clean, and even share their bed at night.  She cannot speak but casts a powerful charm and illusion effect on all around her.  The men who created her automatically fail their saving throws. To them and all others who fail, she will appear as a beautiful young woman.  If the save is made, then she will appear as a grotesque collection of rags and straw in a human shape.  Clerics of pure and good intent (Lawful, Lawful Good) gain a +3 bonus to their saving throw against this charm.

The goal of the sennentuntschi is to kill the men that animated her and return to her native plane with their souls. She can't though just kill them outright. The men must first commit an act of violence against her. This can be as simple as one of the men slapping her, though usually, the violence escalates from there.  Each of the men that animated her, typically three, must commit this act. Once that is complete she will seek to kill them or have them kill each other.  As a construct, she is immune to all mind-affecting magic but is vulnerable to fire. Cold, electricity, gas, or poison has no effect on her.

If anyone attacks the sennentuntschi anyone charmed by her will do anything to protect her including killing others.  If the sennentuntschi is destroyed then the charm is broken. It is rumored that if a sennentuntschi is created and no violence is perpetrated against it for the season then the magic holding it together dies and no souls are damned.  This is a very rare occurrence.

Animating a Sennentuntschi:  A sennentuntschi can be animated by a folk magic ritual (0 level Witch spell) known to the shepherds and herdsmen of the mountains. 

Sennentuntschi
Create Sennentuntschi
Witch Ritual Level: 0
Ritual Casters: Three shepherds
Duration: One Season, typically Summer
Range: One Sennentuntschi poppet

The ritual to animate a sennentuntschi is typically handed down from older shepherd to younger in the form of a story about how the first sennentuntschi was animated.  All that is needed is a life-sized poppet to house the sennentuntschi spirit and the three men to summon it.  

Typically this is an older shepherd, a younger one, and a boy; each representing the stages of life for a man. The ritual is then performed, usually with the imbibing of much alcohol, and the spirit is summoned.

Many occult scholars believe that the demonic spirit inhabiting the poppet is akin to the succubus or other Lilim. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Doppelgänger, Pod

Again today's monster seems like the logical choice. There was a similar creature in Ravenloft for AD&D 2nd Ed, but I am going to ignore that one in favor of something a little different.  

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - How They Met Themselves
Doppelgänger, Pod
Medium Plant (Shape-shifter) 

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6*** (33 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 10 (+9)
Attacks: 2 claws or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+3 x2 or by weapon+3
Special: Charm, regeneration, shape-shift, telepathic communication, only harmed by fire
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 18 (+3) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 14 (+1) Wis: 14 (+1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The doppelgänger is known and feared by many veteran adventurers, but it is usually a single creature at a time.  The Pod Doppelgänger, named for the giant pods they grow out of, is a different sort of danger altogether.

While not related to the common Doppelgänger, these creatures share many of the same characteristics.  They use their shape-shifting powers to impersonate others.   The pod doppelgänger will lure unsuspecting creatures to where their seed pods lie.  

They will attack and attempt to subdue, but not kill, humanoid creatures (humans being their preferred targets). Once they have these humans they will place them into a pod where they are absorbed to feed the mother plant.  The pod will reopen 8 hours later and the new doppelgänger will walk out, a perfect copy of the human that was absorbed.  They will have their memories, their knowledge, and even combat skills. Doppelgänger cannot cast spells, they do not have the necessary connections to the magic that other living creatures do.  Likewise, they cannot lay on hands like a paladin nor Turn Undead as a cleric.  

Once someone is copied the pod doppelgänger has all their memories and the original creature will be gone.  

The pod doppelgänger has a limited charm ability effective on humans with a save at a bonus of +1.  Other species such as elves, dwarves, halflings gain a +2.  Goblinoids and orcs and other related creatures gain a +3 to their saves.  Pod doppelgängers have a sort of telepathic communication with all others from the same mother plant.  Pod doppelgängers regenerate 1 hp per round and can even "come back from the dead" of negative hp.

The only effective way to destroy these creatures is by fire.  Damage dealt by fire-based attacks is not regenerated. 

Mother Plant: In the pod doppelgänger's lair lives the mother plant.  She cannot attack, has an AC of 9, and a number of HD equal to the number of pods she has created (determined by the number appearing in lair).  Likewise, only fire can destroy her.  Her "children" will defend her to the very end.  

--

Might need a little more tweaking to make it work a little better.  Plus I should add some horror effect when seeing a pod duplicate a person.  That can't be a pretty sight.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Alchemical Zombie

Ah. Monstrous Mondays in October.  Nothing goes better together. They are peanut butter cups of my regular series postings.  So let's get this first Monday in October started off right with a monster that screams Halloween monsters to me.  Zombies.

After watching the Re-Animator trilogy this one is a, pardon the pun, a no brainer.

Zombie
Zombie, Alchemical

Medium Undead* 

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d8 (1d12)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8+12*** (26 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d4+3
Special: Fast, immune to turning, special abilities (see below)
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125 (OSE) 170 (LL)

Str: 19 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 20 (+4) Int: 3 (-3) Wis: 1 (-4) Cha: 3 (-3)

Alchemical Zombies are created not by dark necromantic powers, but by forbidden sciences and alchemical means.  They look like normal zombies, but the similarities end there.   An alchemical zombie is fast, rolling normally for the initiative.  While they are a form of undead, they are not reanimated by necromancy or evil magic, therefore they can not be turned by a cleric.   

An alchemical zombie is mindless in its attacks.  It will seek out any living creature and attack it with claws and bites.  It will not stop until the living flesh it is attacking is torn to pieces.  Some alchemical zombies will eat the flesh, but they do not need to do it for sustenance, but instead only as a dim reflection of memory of enjoying food.  They do not rot beyond what their decomposed flesh has already done before their conversion and can last indefinitely.  Even hacked-off limbs will continue to seek out warm blood and flesh to tear and rend.  If there are no living creatures around the zombies will go into a passive stupor. They will "awaken" once a living person or creature comes within 60 ft of them.

In the process of making an alchemical zombie, alchemists discovered that by adding certain potions or chemicals can impart special powers on the zombie.  These powers and their sources are detailed below.

Roll d20 Potion/Chemical Effect
 1-3  Contol Undead  Summons 1d4 normal zombie per day
 4-5  ESP  +1 to attacks, saves and AC 
 6-7  Fire Resistance  +2 to saves vs. Fire damage   
 8-9  Giant Strength  +4 to damage per attack
 10-13  Healing / Troll Blood  Regenerates 2 hp per round
 14-15  Heroism  +2 to attacks
 16-17  Invulnerability  +4 bonus to AC 
 18-19  Speed  2 extra claw attacks every other round
 20  Super Heroism  +4 to attacks

In all cases, these powers are reflected in the XP values above.

Only fire can truly destroy these creatures and they must be reduced to ash. 

--

For today's entry I thought it might work if I returned the "To Hit AC 0" line to the stat block.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Opinicus

A little slow on the posts today.  Back from Gen Con and all.  Got to play a lot of great games last week. 

This beastie has been on my mind since playing some Blue Rose. 

Opinicus
Opinicus

Large beast (magical)

Frequency: Rare 
Number Appearing: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Netural]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Flying 240' (120') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10* (33 hp)
  Large 5d10+10* (38 hp)
Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite
Damage: 1d3+1 x2, 1d8+1
Special: 10% chance of speaking  
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: II/Q
XP: 400 (OSE) 460 (LL)

Str: 15 (+1) Dex: 15 (+1) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 9 (0) Wis: 12 (0) Cha: 10 (0)

The opinicus is a cousin of both the griffon and the hippogriffs.  They are smaller than griffons and a bit longer.  Like the griffon, they feature the body of a lion and the wings and head of a large hawk. Unlike the griffon though, the opinicus has all four limbs of a lion.

Unlike the griffon, the opinicus is a vegetarian, its preferred method of feeding is to swoop down into the back alleys of cities to eat the fruits and vegetables tossed out after market days.  Opinicus makes their homes in the tops of tall steeples and towers.  They feature as animal in many coats of arms.

The opinicus has a 10% of talking. They speak the local languages of the urban areas they live in. They have been known to help homeless humans find sources of shelter and food.  The opinicus has little use for treasure, but they do keep gems they find.

The female opincus lays a clutch of 2-8 eggs roughly the size and shape of a coconut.  Juvenile opinici do not have wings, developing them after their first year.  Opinici can live 50 to 60 years. 

NOTE: The Opinicus from Monster Manual II are considered to be Eastern Opinicus.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Hamingja

Let's get back to this!  A month off has made me a little rusty in my monster-making skills.  Today's monster comes to me from a few sources.  I spent my summer rereading a lot of my old psych textbooks and I decided to take a break and pick a bit of fluff about a guardian angel.  I had no intention of doing anything with it, just a little a bit of enjoyable fluff.

Also, I am going to be spending a lot of time with some Norse myths and I wanted a creature today that I had not already done or seen a hundred times.  The answer came to me in the form of the Hamingja.

Hamingja
Hamingja

Medium Outsider (Angel)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful [Chaotic Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Flying 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 10d8+40**** (85 hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon (sword +1)
Damage: 1d8+3
Special: Astral projection, etherealness, fly, invisibility, luck, magic resistance 40% 
Save: Fighter 10
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 3,700 (OSE) 3,800 (LL)

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

Hamingja are akin to guardian angels. They appear as do valkyries, strong beautiful warrior women.  But where the valkyries guardian the souls of the dead, the Hamingja are guardians of the living.  

Each Hamingja exists to protect one family.  They provide protection against supernatural and mundane attacks that target the family.  They have an innate sense of which attacks are in need of their protection and which ones are not.  So do not defend every attack, only ones that will ensure their charge does not die until their time as decreed by the Norns. 

Unless they are needed the Hamingja will remain invisible. They will remain hidden in this way until they are needed.  They typically act by increasing the ambient luck of their charges.  Typically this translates to general +1 or +5% to any rolls their charges rolls. If their charge is attacked and the Norns have decreed this is when they will die the Hamingja will stay invisible until their charge is dead.  They will then fly their soul to their appropriate place in the afterlife. They will then return to serve another member of the same family.  If the Norns have not so decreed, then they will defend their charge with their swords.  

The name Hamingja name means "happiness" or "joy" and their overall goal is to make the lives of their charges happier. 

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.  

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
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!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Goblin, Mad Hatter

Goblins are ubiquitous in many game worlds.  In some, they are a constant threat, in others a nuisance. The goblins of Lord of the Rings are pretty far removed from the ones of Labyrinth, or even the fairy tales of Grimm.  But they are always a good foil for low-level parties.  In my games goblins tend to be more Chaotic Neutral. Not evil really, but maybe a little naughty time to time.

No one though will ever confuse the Mad Hatter Goblin for anything than what it is, pure evil.

goblin and victim
Goblin, Mad Hatter
Small Humanoid (Fey)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil [Chaotic]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
  Small 2d6+2* (9 hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6
Special: Cause Fear
Size: Small
Save: Monster 2 
Morale: 8 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 9 (0) Dex: 17 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 8 (-1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The Mad Hatter Goblin gets its name from the gruesome way it displays the remains of its kills,  by stacking the severed heads of its victims on top of its own head.   These goblins appear as do other goblins, save for maybe slightly larger.  They have a look in their eyes that speaks of desperation and maybe no small amount of madness.

Each time a Mad Hatter Goblin makes a kill they remove the head from the body.  The goblin then takes the heads of previous victims and ties them to the top of the new head and then all of these are tied to the goblin's own head.  The oldest, and most decayed, heads are at the top.  The sight of a mad hatter is such that anyone under 4 HD/level must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or be stunned in fear, unable to move or react for 1d4+1 rounds.    The mad hatter will go after these targets first.  Creatures greater than 4 HD/level are immune to this effect.

Mad hatters are both reviled and respected in a goblin community.  The number of heads one has is their level of prestige. When one mad hatter encounters another there is usually a duel of some sort.  The loser gets to contribute their head to the victorious mad hatter's collection.

The only treasure kept by a mad hatter is their collection of heads.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Spend any time reading Medieval Bestiaries you will run into all sorts of fantastic animals such as dragons, unicorns, griffins, and the bonnacon.

Ah. The majestic bonnacon. It is a large bull-like creature with inward-turned horns, the mane of a horse, and it attacks by shooting flaming caustic dung at you.

Wait. What?

Yes, the bonnacon (also called bonasus or bonacho) is a great mythic beast that has appeared in numerous bestiaries.  Its horns are useless for defense, it instead will shoot caustic feces out of its anus while it is running away.

It was first described by none other than Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia.  This history is a great source of monsters.

And there are some GREAT pictures of this awful beast.

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon
Large Beast (Magical)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral [Unaligned]
Movement: 150' (50') [5"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
  Large 2d10+2* (13 hp)
Attacks: 1 head butt or special
Damage: 1d6
Special: Caustic dung
Size: Large
Save: Monster 2 
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 14 (+1) Dex: 12 (0) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 4 (-2) Wis: 7 (+1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The bonnacon is a large bull-like creature.  It is typically red or brown in color with a long horse-like mane running from its head, down the back of its neck.  They have two large bull-like horns, but they are turned inside and thus provide no effective means of protecting the creature.  The bonnacon is also spectacularly stupid, even judging it compared to other heard animals.

The bonnacon can attack with a head butt but would rather run away. It will use its only special attack at this point. When retreating the bonnacon will eject burning, caustic dung from its anus.  This dung will stick to clothes, skin, and just about everything.  When hit the victim must save vs poison or take 4d6 hit points of damage; save for half.  The dung will continue to burn any skin it touches causing 1d6 hp of damage per round.  A previous save means that no skin was touched.  The only way to remove these caustic feces is to wash them off with at least a quart of water.  A running stream or a decanter of endless water is also good.  Thankfully a bonnacon can only use this attack once per day.

The meat of the bonnacon is vile and rank. Goblins, who can eat anything, will not eat the meat of this animal. It does however eat a lot on its own. So a small herd (1d4) can destroy up to 40 lbs of grain or plants per day each. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Boo Hag

Back at it!  I was on vacation all last week. I was down visiting my in-laws in South Carolina. It was fun, but the South is not for me.  I am happy to be back home in Chicago.

But while I was down there I looked into any monsters, cryptids, and urban legends they had.  There are a few, like all places, and many are familiar at least to readers of this blog.  There are lizardmen, bigfoot, and the usual variety of ghosts.  One of the creatures, from the Gullah descendants of African slaves, is the Boo Hag.

Boo Hag by Ashere
The Boo Hag by Ashere
Boo Hag

Medium Fey (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1 or 3 covey)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Swim  150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6*** (33 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or special
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d4+1, special
Special: Constitution drain, fear, gaseous form, sleep, witch spells
Save: Witch 6
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: U (VI)
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

Str: 15 (+1) Dex: 17 (+2) Con: 13 (+1) Int: 14 (+1) Wis: 17 (+2) Cha: 4 (-2)

Boo hags are semi-amphibious hags without skin of their own. In their natural form, they appear as hunched humanoids with no skin and exposed musculature, stringy white hair, yellow bulging eyes, and grimacing mouths of jagged teeth.  They live in swamps.

The sight of a boo hag without its skin forces a creature to make a save or become frightened. A boo hag lives within a swamp but makes sure there are human or demi-human settlements nearby. At night, they venture from their swamp, find a lonely cabin or farmstead, and take gaseous form to enter the house.

They then pick a strong, male victim and sit on his chest, stealing away their breath and life energy. A hag squatting on a person inflicts one level of Constitution damage per 5 minutes. Every 5 minutes, the victim may attempt a new saving throw to awaken.  Victims killed by a boo hag are skinned. The skin is used as a disguise. While it is inside a person’s skin, the boo hag is affected as per the change self spell.

Boo hags can be distracted for 1d6 x10 minutes by brooms, the straws of which they are compelled to stop and count. If attacked while counting straws, the hags flee with their brooms, that they may count the straws at their leisure in a safe place.   Victims of a boo hag are recommended to keep a broom by their bed.  When the boo hag returns they will count the straws in the broom and not attack.  If morning comes they will flee back to their lairs. 

Boo Hags have a weaker spellcasting ability than most hags, only able to cast as a 4th level witch.

Boo Hags hate swamp hags, maybe more so than other forms of the hag.  Boo hags turn their anger onto the River Hags, who they see as a lesser type of hag. They avoid either kind whenever they can unless they form a covey with them.  A common covey with a swamp and boo hags includes a green or river hag.  A boo hag adds the powers of Gaseous Form to the covey once per day.

There is some relationship between the boo hag and the Soucouyant.  Some believe that the victims of the boo hag will become a soucouyant when they die.  Others believe that that soucouyant is an undead form of the boo hag.  The general consensus is on they are undead versions of the boo hag, but nothing definitive is known. 

--

Looking to expand the entries to all the hags I have. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Zinc Dragons

Saw this on social media. Got me thinking.


Yeah.  Where are they?  I mean we have had Orange, Yellow and Purple dragons

So what do we know here?  According to the Monster Manual for AD&D 1st Ed.:

Copper dragons live in warmer rocky regions, live in caves, and have acid or a cloud of gas as their breath weapons. They have 7 to 9 HD, the same as the Green.

Brass dragons live in sandy deserts and have two types of gas as their breath weapon, poison and sleep. They have 6 to 8 HD, the same as the Black.

Bronze dragons live underground near the water. Their breath weapons are lightning and a repulsion gas cloud. They have 8 to 10 HD, the same as the Blue.

There is then some parity then between the Chromatic and Metalic. It follows that if I create some "new" Chromatic dragons (Orange, Purple so far) I should have some new Metalic dragons too.

My Orange dragon has 9 HD (9 to 11), my Purple has 10 HD (10 to 12).  I am not saying I need to duplicate the parity of the 1st ed book, but it is a good place to start.

I know I need to work on my dragons a bit more.  There is not really enough detail in my stat block as it is right now.  

Dragon, Zinc
aka Draco Spodium Ailbum
Huge Dragon, Metalic

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful [Chaotic Good]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
  Fly: 210' (70') [21"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 5d8+20** (26 hp) (5HD to 7HD)
  Huge: 5d12+20** (36 hp)
THAC0: 10 (+9)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, + special
Damage: 1d6+3x2, 2d8+3
Special: Breath weapons (Burning Cloud or Choking Cloud), dragon fear, low-light vision (120’), magic use
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XV (H) 
XP: 575 (OSE) 660 (LL)

Habitat: Populated temperate to tropical zones
Probability Asleep: 35% 
Probability of Speech: 90%
Breath Weapon: Burning Cloud or Choking Cloud, 
Spells: First: 3, Second: 2

Zinc dragons are silver-white dragons that are often confused with smaller silver or white dragons save that they prefer to live in warmer climates in populated areas.  They will often shape change into human or dwarven form to move among humanoids.  In either human or dwarf form, their hair tends to be a very light blond or white and their skin tones range from olive to dark tans, though they can alter this as they see fit. They are fond of humanoids but still remain a bit aloof from them.

Zinc dragons can attack with a claw, claw, bite routine in dragon form.  They also have two breath weapons they are capable of using. The first is a choking cloud of particulates the other is a cloud of burning smoke. Both require a save vs. breath weapon or take damage equal to the dragon's current hit points. Save results in half-damage.  In both cases, the area 50 ft by 50 ft in front of the dragon has reduced vision to all but the dragon. Attacks are at -2 for the next round following the breath weapon attack.  In dragon or human form they may cast spells as a 4th level magic-user; three 1st level and two 2nd level.

Zinc dragons keep their hoards nearby, usually buried under whatever urban-dwelling they live in, or if in the wilderness, in a deep cave. 

--

Certainly one of the weaker dragons.  Maybe adventurers never encounter them because they avoid adventurers and potential dragon-slayers.

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. 

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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

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