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

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Wolf-Witch (A Wolfenoot Special)

Happy Wolfenoot Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Ritual: Summon the Spirit of the Wolf

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Fenodyree

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

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

fenodyree
Fenodyree

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2020

Halloween Hangover: October by the Numbers (and pictures)

Another Halloween is now part of the history books.  I am sad to see it go, but now it is time to sit back and see what I did here.


October saw a whopping 92 new posts here at The Other Side!  That beat my previous record of 72 in October of 2013.

In that time I watched 60 horror movies, with 41 one of them being first-time views.

You can see all my movies from the October Horror Movie marathon on my Pinterest board.

Follow Timothy's board October Horror Movie Challenge on Pinterest.

This translated into 74,587 hits for the month.

The Pumpkin Spice Witch was offered for free as part of DriveThruRPG's Halloween Sales. 

You can find it by going to your Wishlist (you need to be logged in),


Scrolling down and clicking on the Pumpkin,


Then it will be added to your cart for the price of a few clicks!


The promotion went so well that as of right now 1,213 were downloaded!  I also got a few sales and few dead tree versions too.  Not bad for a year-old niche product in a niche market.


In fact, it was so popular that Aubrey Spivey from the Old-School Essentials group on Facebook dressed up as a Pumpkin Spice Witch for Halloween!

I have gotten a lot of nice accolades and nice words about my books over the years. But Aubrey Spivey 's cosplay of my Pumpkin Spice Witch cover has REALLY made my Halloween 🎃! Thank you!

Posted by Timothy S. Brannan on Saturday, October 31, 2020

I mean really. How cool is that?

NIGHT SHIFT also did remarkably well.  I don't have the final numbers yet, but my payment for the month was great.

Stated up 12 new characters here for Night Shift and a few new monsters. 

I have a few "loose ends" and other ideas I didn't get around to posting. But don't expect this level of posting in November or December! 


Monday, October 26, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Alraune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alraunes, by custom, are often named after flowers.

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

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Hyrrokkin Hag

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

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

Hag, Hyrrokkin

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, October 10, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Quatermass and The Pit (1967)

Quatermass and The Pit (1967)

Another Hammer choice, since I am in the mood. This movie is a classic. Rarely does Sci-fi and horror blend so well as with Quatermass and The Pit (1967).  I remember watching this one as a kid and thought how fantastic it was.  It has stayed surprisingly up to date.

Like the Creeping Flesh and the Image of Fendahl, this one features a near-human skeleton that is at least 5 million years old.  Found in a subway station under Hobbs End (formerly Hobs End) brings into question not only the origins of humankind, but of our concept of evil.

Quatermass is one of the iconic British characters, one I would say is right up there with Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor.  In fact I am sitting wondering now how come Steven Moffat hasn't given us a modern version of Prof. Quatermass. We are overdue.
Note: After I typed this all up I did find a 2005 Quatermass serial starring Jason Flemyng and long associated Doctor Who folk David Tennant and Mark Gatiss. 

This movie also was the first that got me onto my research of Hobs which would eventually lead to my decision that hobgoblins are a diabolic bread of goblins.  A "hob" is a type of devil.  The creature movie is often described as a goblin. 

This movie also uses the ages-old trope of women being more psychically sensitive than men. 

The ending of this one is still surprisingly effective and scary. 

Watched: 15
New: 9



NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content.
Like I mentioned in the Creeping Flesh a skeleton that should not exist is a fantastic element of horror and sci-fi.   Like Image of Fendahl, this one brings a pentagram into the mix having it as being older than mankind. 

Maybe I can combine these various ideas and go 2001: Space Odyssey here.  A NIGHT SHIFT game taking place in the early 70s discovering a skeleton that just should not belong. Horror ensues. Then a BlackStar game where the USS Protector investigates a planet with eerie similarities.  

I do love a long-game plot covering multiple generations.

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Creeping Flesh (1973)

Been in a Hammer mood lately, so I thought I would revisit some old favorites. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that The Creeping Flesh, starring  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and directed by Freddie Francis was NOT a Hammer Film.  But more on that later.

This film scarred me crazy when I was little, but it also is responsible for me becoming more curious on both psychology, anthropology, and the Victorian era.  Christopher Lee plays a psychologist and Peter Cushing an anthropologist. 

Emmanuel Hildern (Cushing) has come back from a trip abroad to Papua New Guinea where he has found the skeleton of a giant humanoid.  It was buried in a lower stratum than Neanderthal, and thus much older (note, Neanderthals have only been discovered in Europe and the Middle East).  He is being financed by his younger half-brother James (Lee), who is a psychiatrist.  

The skeleton (which my wife and I agree is actually that of a Klingon) begins to grow new flesh when exposed to water.  

There is a bit about his dead wife, she died in his brother's insane asylum, and maybe his daughter inheriting her madness.   Oh. And an escaped mental patient Lenny.  "Lenny the Lunatic" would a focal point of many nightmares after that.  Not so much him but how he was killed. 

Cushing plays the absent-minded professor with his head full of science.  Lee plays the scientist looking for fame and money.   

Eventually, Emmanuel concocts an idea of using the Klingon's blood as a vaccine against evil.  Of course, the doctor injects his "unruly" daughter (Lorna Heilbron) with it (she went into her mother's room where she was forbidden!) but not before he sees what it does to his test monkey.  In pure Victorian fashion turning evil makes you hotter, his daughter Penelope starts tarting around London.  Oh and she turns from a blonde to a red-head in a red dress. Not at all subtle really. 

There is some back and forth between Lee and Cushing (as there should be, they were the best as antagonists) with the skeleton getting stolen and caught in the rain.  

The movie is remarkably uneven, but still quite a lot of fun really.  Lorna Heilbron is absolutely adorable in this, first as the "Good" Penelope and then as the "Evil" Penelope.  Christopher Lee is his typical commanding self. Not evil, but certainly amoral. 

The ending bugged me then. Was it all in Emmanuel's head or has some ancient evil been released in the world? Now I think it is great.

Watched: 14
New: 9



NIGHT SHIFT Content.
Finding an ancient skeleton that should not exist is a hallmark of sci-fi horror.  Doctor Who would cover the same ground five years later with The Image of Fendahl about a 12 million-year-old human skull.  Quatermass and the Pit did it a few years back with a 5 million-year-old skull. I would use a similar idea in Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria with a screaming skull. 

BlackStar Content.
My wife, who never watches horror movies with me, watched this one.  We both thought the skeleton looked like a Klingon.  So what about this. A Federation archaeological survey has turned up a 12 (or 5 or 6 or whatever) million-year-old Klingon skeleton on a planet far outside of the Klingon Empire, and millions of years before the Klingons achieved warp.  Since this is the dawn of the Federation-Klingon peace accords, everyone is on eggshells.  The survey team goes silent.  The Klingons send a ship. That goes silent. The closest ship in the sector is yours.  You intercept a Klingon transmission. It is the captain of the Klingon ship, he is covered in blood and screaming, "HeS'a' wa' tu'lu'bej!" (The Devil is here!)
I would avoid saying it is actually Fek'lhr, but that doesn't mean the characters don't know that.

We thought the skull looked a lot like a Klingon's.


And it was tall like Fek'lhr is.

It makes sense. Kahless pointed to a star and said to his followers "you would find me there" and was the planet of Boreth, home of the Klingon Time Crystals.  If there can be holy planets then there can be profane ones as well.   

Friday, October 9, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot (1976)

I talked about this movie back in June. So I added it to my Amazon watchlist.  And then I forgot about it.  I decided to pull it up for today.

This one can only be described as Previously Watched.  I think I might have watched it a few dozen times back when my family got Showtime back when it was new to our town.  Not a bad choice though for my first re-watch of the season.

The movie is a pseudo-documentary about the "North American Wildlife Research" group taking a group into British Columbia. It had the same feel of a lot of pseudo-documentaries on various "alternative science" that were popular in the late 70s. 

Watching it then, when I was about 10 or so, it seemed like the real deal.  Watching it now? Yeah, I am a little embarrassed I was taken in.

The movie is not great, or even good, but it was a good distraction.  And for a G-rated movie it has some scares in it.  I still remember that howl of the Bigfoots.

The ending is still surprisingly scary.

Watched: 10
New: 9

It is not a stretch of the imagination at all to consider this movie the "Event Zero" of what became my Valhalla, AK game.  Of course, the sasquatch in Valhalla is a bit different than this one.  
In a normal NIGHT SHIFT game, the Sasquatch would be more of a threat, like this movie.  In my Valhalla, AK game...well the sasquatch was more of a nuisance.  

Every night the townspeople of Valhalla would be awoken by the sounds of moose braying in the night followed by the unholy sound of something else. I would play the sasquatch sounds at this point.  The old locals of course know this is a sasquatch.  So the PCs investigate, expecting to find dead moose. They don't find any at all.  Quite the opposite really, they find all these female moose just hanging about this one strange clearing.  Turns out that there is a young male sasquatch, a teen really, and has been having sex with the female moose (mooses, moosen, miice?) after the sun goes down.  The townsfolk have been hearing his amorous escapades.  The adventure resolves when they can lure the sasquatch back to his own people.

A bit silly? Yes.  A bit ribald? Sure. But that is exactly the sort of thing I want to happen in Valhalla, AK.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Zombie Witch

Welcome to the FIRST Monstrous Monday of October 2020.

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


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

Well if I didn't I do now.


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

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

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

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

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

Zombie witches are turned as wights or 4HD undead.

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

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Apple Sprites

It is officially Autumn now, so our family tradition is to head out to the apple orchards to pick apples and buy some items from the local farm stands.  This got me thinking about the mischievous, but elusive Apple Sprites.

Apple Sprite
Tiny Faerie
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1-6)
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic Good)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 1d4 (2 hp)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1hp
Special: Only harmed by cold iron, turn invisible.
Size: Tiny
Save: Elf 1
Morale: 4 (7)
Treasure Hoard Class: None; see below
XP: 5

Apple Sprites, also known as Apple Fairies or Apple Cherubs, a small faerie folk that live in apple trees. They are typically hard to see due to their coloration and size. In the spring their hair is light green and their skin is the pink and white of apple blossoms. As the season moves on their skin takes on the reds and golds of the apples they live near. Their wings shite from the whites and pink of apple blossoms to greens, to reds and yellows. They are shy and elusive in the Spring and Summer months (Morale 4) but as Autumn sets in, usually between Lughnasadh and Samhain, they become more active and bolder (Morale 7).  Apple Sprites hibernate in the winter, sleeping in nests of up to six. They remain invisible during hibernation and can not be discovered. 

Their only real attack is to throw apples at passersby. They will do this, turn invisible and laugh.  It is more irritating than damage causing.  

Apple Sprites have no treasure but like other denizens of enchanted apple orchards (Apple Tree Man and Epimēlides) can be lured and bribed with hard apple cider. If given cider the Apple Sprites can direct the adventurers to a spot in the forest where treasure (Type A x2) is hidden.  Though their favorite trick is direct the adventures to other tribes of Apple Sprites, who will demand more cider, and then direct to another tribe and keep the party wandering the orchard for hours while the sprites drink the cider and laugh. 

Apple Sprites speak sylvan and elven, one or two per tribe speak enough common to converse. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Galley Beggar

My thoughts are still on Halloween.  So time to bring back another monster from my younger days.

Galley Beggar

Medium Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (0)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"] (Limited to 100' from bones)
Armor Class: NA [NA]
Hit Dice: 1d8 (1 hp)
Attacks: 1 scream
Damage: NA (see below)
Special: Can't be hit by physical weapons (Mundane or Magical); immune to charm, hold, and sleep spells.
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 5 (50 if bones destroyed)

The Galley Beggar, also known as a Bull Beggar, is a type of ghost found in crypts, dungeons, and even old cellars.  They appear as a thin, skeletal looking ghoul in the poor light of dungeons, but are semi-transparent.  They are incorporeal (ghost-like) and are immune to physical attacks of any sort and any mind-affecting magics.

The Galley Beggar has only one attack, a scream that causes fear (as per the spell) in all who hear it.  Everyone with 100 feet of the screaming monster must make a Save vs. Spells or come under the effects of the fear.  Creatures greater than 6 HD are immune.  A favorite trick of the Galley Beggar is to pull it's own head off of its body and then scream.

The only ways to defeat a Galley Beggar are with Clerical Turning, they will turn as Skeletons (1 HD) or via any magic like Bless, Remove Curse, Dispell Magic, or similar enchantments.  If the bones of the Galley Beggar are found and destroyed (with fire or given a proper burial) then the creature is also destroyed. 

It is believed that the Galley Beggar is formed when a novice spell caster is killed on an adventure and their bodies are not returned for burial.  The Galley Begger will not form until the body has decayed to bones.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Astral Spiders

If you are feeling tired, lethargic, or otherwise drained then you could have been attacked by an Astral Spider.  


As their name suggests these demonic creatures are native to the astral plane, but they are attracted to people with psychic or empathic abilities.  The spider, which is normally invisible, attaches itself to a victim and drains Wisdom at the rate of 1 point per day. The Astral Spider stays attached and draining until it's victim reaches 0 Wisdom. 
Magic that can detect a curse or detect evil creatures can let you know that an Astral Spider is attached to someone or attacking. 

The Astral Spider is immune to physical attacks, including magical and blessed weapons.  They can only be affected by magic.  A specially worded Remove Curse spell will remove an Astral Spider.  A banishment or exorcism will also remove the spider and force it back into the Astral.

Astral Spiders only move in the Astral plane. The only time they are manifest in the real world when attached to a victim and then they do not move. 

Astral Spider
Vermin (Demonic)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement:  Special
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d6+3* (10)
Attacks: 1 special 
Damage: 1 point Widom per day
Special: Immune to physical attacks, affected only by magic
Size: Small
Save: Fighter 3
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125

Astral Spider
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 9
Move: Special (Astral only)
Hit Dice: 3
Special: Wisdom drain. 1 point/day
XP VALUE: 120

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Trolls and Trolla (Troll Week)

Grýlka, ePic Character
It's Troll Week here at the Other Side!

I wanted to start off things with an idea that has been floating around my head for a while now.

Yesterday I mentioned that the "D&D trolls" did not really fit with the trolls I was reading in myths, legends, and fairy tales that often also included witches. The trolls in D&D, of course, were inspired by the ones from the Poul Anderson novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, which also gave us nixies (myths), swanmays/sawn-maidens (also Celtic myth) and the Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment axis (along with Moorcock). 

The trolls I like are bit more like Tom, Bert, and William from the Hobbit, but I am also fond of the mountain trolls from Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter.  

But trolls have a much longer history than that.  
I am not going to get into all the myths and legends of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but I am going to touch on them a bit. 

One of the creatures I always felt was a troll was Grendel from Beowulf. He seems like a troll to me.  Close to human, but monstrous and horrible to behold.  He is described as a "descendent of Cain" but even Tolkien in his version of the tale says he "cannot be dissociated from the creatures of northern myth."  He dislikes the sun and is harried by the sounds of the men singing. 

If Grendel is a troll then what is his mother?  She does seem to be different to be honest.

Robert Zemeckis' version aside, she does appear to be a monster, but of a different sort.   She is described as "aglæc-wif" which is debated by scholars as to its true meaning.  Among the meanings are "monster lady", "devil lady", "ugly troll lady", and "troll wife".

I always felt she was some sort of hag.  It was here reading a kids version of Beowulf in the 5th grade that I first got the idea that male trolls and female trolls might be different sorts of creatures. 


This was turned up to 11 with Robert Lynn Asprin's MythAdventures and his trolls (male) and trollops (female).  Ok in my defense it was the early 80s and I was 10-12.

I have made a couple of different attempts at this over the years.

First was the Makava or Wood Hag. Though her role was more of the wicked witch in the woods. She typically has 2-12 trolls around her home to provide her with physical protection.  They could be her brothers or her sons.

Next was the Trollwife who was something of Troll Hag found in colder areas. She appears in my Winter Witch book.  The oldest known trollwife is Mother Trollwife and she is also a powerful witch.

While both are great and really perfect for what I wanted them to do, they are still not what I was looking for for this concept.

So I had to go to Sweeden.  Not literally of course, but rather in my research.
When doing troll research you go to Norway.  Norwegians love their trolls.  I spent a lot of time reading about Norwegian trolls and these trolls have magic. But myths don't respect borders and many of these tales also spill over into Sweden, Denmark (home of Beowulf) and via more invasions than I can recount right now, England.

But it was Sweden that got my attention.
The Norwegian word for "troll" is "troll."  Nice and easy.
The Danish word for "troll" is "trold." Ok. 
The Swedish word for "troll" is also "troll."
But, "Trolla" in Swedish means "to conjure" or "to enchant."  OK! I can work with this!

There are tales in Swedish folklore of beautiful trolls, or at least beautiful women related to trolls.
All have magic.  So you know where I am going now.

Humanoid (Faerie)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4)
Alignment: Neutral/Chaotic (Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 1d8+2** (6 hp) to 13d8+26** (85)
Attacks: 1 weapon or spell
Damage: 1d8 (or by weapon type) or by spell
Special: Regeneration (1hp per hour), witch spells, vulnerable to silver
Size: Medium/Large
Save: Fighter 1 or Witch 1 to 13
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: Varies
XP: Varies

A Trolla is a type of troll witch.  They are full-blooded trolls, but some magical force causes the trolla to appear as mostly human. Always female, these trolls are both feared and revered in troll society. 
Once a trolla is born, and it is obvious at birth, she will be taken to a nearby human community and left with the humans.  During the trolla's childhood and adolescence, no troll will attack her adoptive village but will be seen on the outskirts as if watching.  The trolla appears to be human in all respects save she is often small and sickly.

Sometime around her 13th birthday, a transformation begins.  The trolla, who has been small her life will begin to grow at a rapid rate. She will within a year be taller than all the other children around her. She will reach her full height at over 6 feet tall. Her previous ill health will be forgotten has her strength and constitution will increase to at least 17 each (if not more). The girl, who always had an impish cuteness about her, will grow into a truly formidable woman.  Even if not "attractive" by the village standards (although she very well could be) she will have a force of personality that makes her fascinating to all. 

It is at this time she must choose her life; human or troll.  Those that choose to remain among the humans can become great warriors for her people, but often do not do more than any other person in her village. 

The ones that choose the life of a troll become truly powerful.  Once the choice is made another transformation begins. Her hair, which had often been blonde or light brown becomes either white or green.  Her skin takes on a green tinge. Horns, which have just been below the skin of her head will grow, as do lower tusks and even a long tail.  It will be at this time the trolla learns of her true gifts, that of troll witchcraft.

Trolla advance as Troll Witches (Faerie, Green, or Winter Tradition) at a level equal to their HD.

Trolla also have the following powers.
  • Regenerate 1 hp per Hour. This can only be done in the dark since trolls are creatures of the dark. Fire and acid wounds cannot be healed this way.
  • Infravision 90'.
  • Witch magic. Trolla are witches. They not only can cast witch spells, but also gain the benefits of a tradition (occult powers) and a coven (ritual magic).
  • Trollspeak. Trolla understands the language of trolls, ogres and other fey creatures.
Also, the have the following drawbacks and restrictions.
  • Heathen. Trolla cannot benefit from healing magic unless it comes from another witch or a cleric of her own religion.
  • Silver weapons always do maximum damage. Wounds from cold iron weapons are treated like fire.
PC and NPC Trolla can become Fighters or Witches.

Grýlka, Trolla Witch
1st level Witch, Green Witch Tradition
Chaotic Neutral

Str: 17
Int: 13
Dex: 14
Wis: 13
Con: 17
Cha: 18

Familiar: Twigblight (neutral)

Spells: Cure Light Wounds

Grýlka is a trolla witch raised among a community of druids. Her adoptive parents knew who and what she was from the time they found her.  Unable to have children of their own they raised her as their own daughter.  When she turned 13 she began her change and her parents told her of her history.
She loved her parents but felt the calling of her troll blood too strongly and too deeply.  She chose to be troll. On her acceptance she was granted a twigblight familiar, a creature normally despised by druids, to guide her into the ways of troll magic.

Grýlka stands 6'3", 6'7" if you measure from the ground to her curving horns.  Her skin is olive-green. Her hair, which was always white, has remained the same as has her green eyes.
She carries a staff of striking +1, a gift from her druid parents.  She discovered that healing magic no longer worked on her and this caused a bit of a panic, so her first spell is Cure Light Wounds.

She is now seeking out others of her kind so she may learn more.


I am going to spend some time with Grýlka all week and see how she fares with all the other trolls we meet this week.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: The Wendigo for NIGHT SHIFT, BX RPG and AS&SH

Modern Wendigo by skeletoninadress
The Wendigo has always been a favorite monster of mine.  

The Algonquin (and Illiniwek) people had great mythology and SO underutilized in games or novels.  One creature that I always was fascinated with was the Wendigo. The Wendigo has been seen a lot in horror fiction, especially with the rise in popularity of werewolves and zombies.  But they are still very interesting.  The most famous one of course is The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, followed by August Derleth's Ithaqua.

This is a creature that possesses humans under conditions of extreme cold and hunger and gets them to become cannibals.  Also, people that engaged in cannibalism were also at greater risk of possession.

The Wendigo is a spirit most times, unable to physically manifest in the world or interact with it.  That is until someone in a cold part of the world begins to despair and go hungry.  There are plenty of places in the world that are cold and these have hungry people, the Wendigo though chooses someone though that has or will resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Once this is done the Wendigo has access to the victim's heart. 

With their heart frozen the victim becomes the physical Wendigo.  They appear lean and gaunt, but taller; as if stretched out.  Their hands become claws with vile blue talons.  Their entire appearance becomes more feral.  They appear to be something akin to a ghoul or even a starving were-wolf mid-transformation.  They are constantly hungry, eating all the flesh they can, though they never eat their fill.  Eventually, the wendigo strains the host body too much and they die completely in a number of weeks.  Though there are rumors of giant wendigo, whose heads reach the clouds that are thousands of years old.

I included the Wendigo and the more powerful Wendigo Matron in my The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry.  Here it is for other games. 

Wendigo
No. Appearing: 1-2
AC: 3
Move: 45ft.
Hit Dice: 8
Special: 3 attacks (2 claws, bite) + Breath weapon, Enhanced Senses, Immunity to Cold, Immunity to Normal Weapons, Requires Blessed weapon to hit.
XP VALUE: 1,280

This creature shares a number of characteristics with were-creatures and undead. Ancient people believed that only a tribal shaman could bless a weapon that would kill both the host body and the wendigo spirit. 

The wendigo is completely immune to all cold-based attacks.  It attacks with its claws and bite and can emit a blast of freezing cold air up 3 times per day for 1d6+5 hp of damage (save for half).

Ordinary World: Wendigos are known to exist in the Ordinary World, but few even among the supernatural community have encountered them.  They are generally feared to be unpredictable and very, very dangerous.

Valhalla, AK:  Everyone in Valhalla "knows" that there are "wendigos" north of the town.  The locals though will point out that the creature everyone thinks is a wendigo is actually the wechuge ("way-chu-gay"). Someone can become a wechuge by breaking a tribal taboo or becoming too prideful. 
Some of the indigenous locals still remember tales from their grandparents and great-grandparents of the horrible winters of long ago where you could hear the howls of the wechuge/wendigo. 

Wendigo

Armor Class: 2     
No. Appearing: 0 / 1d3
Hit Dice: 8
Save As: F8
Movement: 150/50 
Attacks: 3 claw/claw/bite 
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (cold) 1d8+5
Special Defense: Immune to cold-based attacks, immune to normal weapons, requires a blessed weapon to hit
Intelligence: 4 (devious cunning)
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Chaos
THACO: 12
Experience: 1,750

This creature shares a number of characteristics with were-creatures and undead. Ancient people believed that only a tribal shaman/cleric could bless a weapon that would kill both the host body and the wendigo spirit. A cleric can turn one as a Special Undead. Once a person is infected with a wendigo they can not be cured.

The wendigo is completely immune to all cold-based attacks.  It attacks with its claws and bite and can emit a blast of freezing cold air up 3 times per day for 1d6+5 hp of damage (save for half).


Wendigo

No. Encountered: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: L
Movement: 50 
Dexterity: 12
Armour Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8
Attack Rate: 3/1 (claw / claw / bite) + breath weapon (cold) x3
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d8 + 1d8+5
Special: Immune to cold-based attacks, immune to normal weapons, requires a blessed weapon to hit
Saving Throw: 12
Morale: 11
Experience Points: 1,000
Treasure Class: None

The wendigo are believed to have been first created by Ythaqqa.
They can be turned as undead type 13.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Knockers, the Good* Kobolds for Basic-era and Night Shift

There has been some debate on the nature of good and evil when it comes to some monsters.  I plan on saying more about it later (spoiler: dropping alignment restrictions is a good thing!) but allow me to welcome D&D to 2,500+ years of organized philosophical debate and over 6,000 years of religious ones.  They have not worked out all the details yet so I don't expect D&D to do it yet either.

But that is not today's discussion.  Today I want to discuss Knockers.

Knockers are a subterranean species that frequent old mines.  They are common to Cornwall so they could be related to any number of Cornish faeries (and they have a lot of the Fey there) but in reality, they seem closer to the Kobold.  Or at least how the kobold has been depicted in German folklore.

Around the time of 2nd Ed Kobolds went from evil little dog men to evil little lizard men. Personally, I rather liked the change.  I love the idea of these scrappy little lizards running around. I am also fine with them being evil, or at least very, very self-centered as a species.  Their lizard brains only allow for survival in the most brutal ways possible. As such, they worship the things that look like them, only bigger, evil dragons.  If your god is evil then you probably are as well.  Do I leave room for a potentially "good" kobold? Of course, the world is vast, strange and wonderful, anything is possible.


But as it turns out I have good kobolds covered. 

Knockers are good* kobolds.  

I say good* because good ≠ nice.  

They are happy to work with each other, they get along fine with gnomes and the local pixies. They will even help lost miners find their way out of mines when they are lost.  But their reasons are hardly altruistic.  They feel that humans are big lumbering idiots and think they belong to the same species as ogres or trolls. They will lead miners out via a series of knocking or raps on stone not because they feel bad for the human but because one lost human brings in many more humans to look for them.

Knockers and kobolds share a history. Once they were the same people. Living in deep subterranean mines looking for veins of precious metals.  Their diggings brought them into contact with goblins, dwarves, gnomes, and even orcs.  All these encounters ended poorly for the kobolds as they were smaller in size. They grew to despise most other species.  As time went on the waters began to return as the last Ice Age began to thaw. When their homelands were taken by the sea, some moved west while others moved east and south.  The two peoples became distinct.  The kobolds of the south took on the worship of evil gods and dragons. Their lust for gold and power corrupted them into smaller forms and they took on more draconic features.  The kobolds of the west became more and more introverted and xenophobic.  Their distrust of others never abating but deciding that their best course of action was not to fight but to hide deeper and deeper in the Earth. 
The two sub-species of kobold barely resembles the other today, but there are still similarities if one knows how to look.

Knocker (Kobold)
Basic-era Games
Humanoid (Subterranean) 
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 2-20 (2-4)
Alignment: Neutral (Neutral Any)
Movement: Basic 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1d6 (3 hp)
Attacks: 1 
Damage: 1d4 (weapon)
Special: Hide in shadows 95%
Size: Small
Save: Normal Human
Morale: 7
Treasure Hoard Class: I (XIII)
XP: 7

Knockers are a relative of the kobold. They resemble them in most respects save that these creatures appear to be more "humanoid" than their lizard-like counterparts.  Often described as "dog-faced" it is unclear whether that is a reference to their actual canine-like appearance or to their general ugliness.
Knockers speak their own variation of the kobold language, but either sub-species can understand the other given a little time.

Knockers are believed to have interbred with gnomes and goblins in their travels west, and this is used to explain their changed temperaments.  Knockers generally get along well enough the gnomes and local fae and even tolerate goblins. Consequently, their greatest enmity is with kobolds and humans. 

For the most part, knockers look to be left alone to continue to mine their mines.  They will defend their communities if attacked using group tactics. If left alone, they will often leave others alone as well.

One Man's God
Kurtulmak is the god of Kobolds, though in truth he should also be a Demon Lord like Yeenoghu.  He is described as being a bit reptilian as well.  In keeping with a theme the demon lord (lady) that evil knockers follow is Zsusr

Knocker
No. Appearing: 2-20
AC: 6
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 1
Special: Hide in Shadow 95%, Pack tactics
XP VALUE: 7

Knockers are a subterranean humanoid people related to the fae.  They typically live in old mines and in the dungeons under old castles. 

Generation HEX: Some magical schools, particularly AMPA Cornwall in Great Britain, has a group of knockers living below the school. AMPA faculty have yet to decide what needs to be done with them if anything at all.

Ordinary World: Knockers have been known to live in the White and Adirondack Mountain ranges. They are believed to have migrated with English, Welsh, and Cornish immigrants. Here they have interacted with the local populations of Pukwudgie peoples.


Note: Want more information? Dump Stat goes into a Deep Dive of the Kobold across many editions.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Demon Lord, Ahrimanes (BECMI)

We are coming to our very last week of BECMI month and it has been an education for me.  The biggest surprise was the inclusion of demons in the BECMI Immortal rules. It makes sense of course, demons are the ultimate in evil, chaos, and entropy in nearly every myth.

Let's start off Immortals week with a new version of the Demon from my home games.  Presented here in BECMI Immortal format.

Lord Ahrimanes (Immortal)
Sphere: Entropy
Status: Eternal
Power Points: 7,500
Anti-Magic: 90%
Armor Class: -5
Hit Dice: 35**
Hitpoints: 555
Move: 120' (40')
  Flying: 180' (60')
Attacks: 2 claws
Damage: 2d8+5, 2d8+5
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Save As: Eternal 3
Morale: Special
Call Other: See below
Treasure Type: B, H, I
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 6,405,000 (640 pp)

Lord Ahrimanes was once a servant of Law and Good (Thought) until he chose Chaos and Evil (Entropy). Believed to be one of the most powerful of the forces of evil, his own disgust for nearly all others leaves him alone and without allies. Even demons that would normally despise one another would join forces to defeat or thwart the plans of Ahrimanes.  There is a particular hatred between Lord Ahrimanes and Duke ʾIblīs.

He is a great admirer of science and knows all the natural sciences. When he writes his writing always appears upside-down. Some scholars point to the Demon Abraxas and note that he is master of all the magical arts and his writing always appears backward as a sign of the relationship between the two.
His realm is known as Ahriman-abad and it is said to lie “between the stars.” 

He can appear as a handsome man with a high domed forehead, inquisitive eyes, and thoughtful demeanor.  He will appear garbed as a scholar or philosopher of an earlier age but yet his physique is athletic.  When he is enraged, which happens easily and at the barest slight, his demonic form is revealed.  He stands 10’ tall with dark red skin covered in patches of thick, coarse black hair and scales.  His face becomes twisted in rage and seven horns grow from his head which now has numerous heads, eyes, and mouths.  His hands, which had previously looked like the hand of a scribe, now twist into giant claws.

Lord Ahrimanes attacks with claws, usually too enraged to consider using a weapon.  Due to his nature all magic has a 90% of failing when around him.  Any magic that does get past his anti-magic shield is still subject to a saving throw.  He cannot use magic himself.  Additionally, Lord Ahrimanes has all the resistances and vulnerabilities of all demons.

Lord Ahrimanes is so despised that he cannot summon other demons except for his seven “sons” which appear as Howling Demons / Type III / Glabrezu of the largest size and maximum hp. 

--

Not too bad.  A bit powerful for an AD&D or OSR game, but certainly great for a BECMI game.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sea Dragons (BECMI special)

It's another BECMI Monstrous Monday.  This is Expert Week and few creatures really exemplify the Expert experience to me (either B/X or BECMI) than sea monsters and dinosaurs.

As it turns out, the Field Museum agrees with me.
https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/02/28/move-over-t-rex-field-museum-is-bringing-in-ocean-dinosaurs-for-special-exhibit/

Or. At least they were going too.  Back when I planned this posting Covid-19 had not yet hit.

Sea Dragons are some of my son's most favorite creatures.  As before I am going to go with the BECMI format for the monster stat block.



Dragon, Sea
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 12**
Move: 30' (10') Sea dragons are slow and clumsy on land.
   Swimming: 270' (90')
Attacks: 1 bite + 1 breath weapon (steam)
Damage: 5d8+5
No. Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Save As: Fighter: 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: H
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 2,700

Breath Weapon: Cloud of steam, 60' x 40'

Sea Dragons are an ancient type of dragon that some scholars believe are among the first of dragon kind.  They are known to swim in the deepest of seas where they make meals of all but the largest of sea creatures.

Sea Dragons also attack boats that swim into their territory.  They attack with a bite only and a dangerous breath weapon of superheated steam.  The steam is stored in a pressurized organ in the dragon's body.  This allows it to survive at depths that would crush other creatures.  It also allows the steam to become hot enough to melt soft metals.  Protection from fire, magical, or otherwise offers no protection from this breath weapon.  Damage taken is equal to the number of current HP the dragon has, save vs Dragon Breath Weapon for half.

Unlike other dragons, Sea Dragons do not cast spells or speak. They can speak, but typically only to other dragons.

Sea Dragons keep treasure in undersea lairs, usually inaccessible to surface dwellers.

Sea Dragons are believed to honor ancient immortal members of their species called Apsû and Tiamat, representing the Sweet and Salt waters respectively.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Grimlock (BECMI Special)

For all of June, I am going to be focusing on the BECMI rules, the only* D&D I never really played.
(*I played a lot of Holmes, Moldvay, Cook and Marsh Basic through Expert and used some BECMI books.)

For my June Monster Mondays (and there are 5 of them!) I am going to focus on a monster that would have been appropriate for the boxed set I am reviewing that week.  Also, I want to pick monsters I would have been likely to have used then OR ones I actually created back then.  Thankfully for this I have been "given" my youngest son's old game computer (wait...didn't I buy this??) and it has the only DVD-ROM drives in the house now.  I have been digging through some wonderful treasures I had semi-forgot I had.

So for this week, I want to do a creature that would have felt at home in the D&D Basic Set.  My general rule today is if I could have encountered them in the Caves of Chaos, then they are good.

I was talking to my oldest son about this and he suggested Grimlocks.  Honestly, it is perfect.

A lot of my own D&D world-building was built on the classics, and what is more classic than The Time Machine, both the book and the great 1960 George Pal directed film.   The Grimlocks of D&D have a spiritual ancestor in the Morlocks of the H.G. Welles classic.  Both creatures are essentially a human species that has "devolved" into a barbaric state.  They even share some literature (and not literal) DNA with similar creatures from H.P. Lovecraft or Richard Sharpe Shaver's "deros".  They would have been right at home in the Cave of Chaos.  Especially since they fill an "uncomfortable" niche of what happens to humans who dedicate themselves to darkness and chaos.  The Morlocks would have been still fresh in my mind in my early D&D days from the almost forgettable (expect by meI guess) 1978 Time Machine TV Movie.

I also like them for the witch connection.  Grimlocks were popular monsters on Charmed where they are essentially low-level demons.

In my games, Grimlocks are much the same as they are in all sorts of D&D games.  Save they are demon-worshipping cultists and their distrust of all other races (and their cannibalism) keep them from forming strong bonds to really rule the underworld.

Grimlock
Armor Class:  7
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-7 (1d6+1)
No. Appearing: 2-20 (0)
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaos
XP Value: 30

Grimlocks are a blind subterranean race that attacks anyone and anything they do not know.   They are descended from a group of human cultists that worshipped the foulest demons.  Whether they were driven underground or sought it out on their own they have since moved far away from their original humanity into something more akin to a monster.

Their skin coloration is a dull gray and their milky white eyes appear to dull and sightless. Indeed the Grimlock is blind, but their senses of smell and hearing are so acute that they can still "see" in the complete darkness.  They can sense vibrations so they are capable of spotting and attacking enemies, even invisible ones, up to 120' away.  They do not use missile attacks and prefer to fight with clubs or rocks.  Most are bald, but some have sparse dark hair on their heads, especially the females.
Grimlocks are stronger than average, 15 Strength, but they also have lower than average intelligence and wisdom (usually 9 or 8).

Grimlocks have lived in small isolated communities for centuries.  They will keep prisoners to replace fallen members, at least until such prisoners can produce new Grimlocks for them.  Prisoners, fallen Grimlocks, or any other enemy, once they are dead are eaten.  Grimlocks have no use for, or understanding of, treasure save for weapons.

Despite being blind and immune to any effect that requires sight (a medusa attack for example) they loathe the sun and will avoid going to the surface world save for nights of the new moon.

Special Grimlocks can advance as far as the 4th level as a Warlock to a demonic cult.

Grimlocks and Troglodytes hate each other and will attack the other to the exclusion of all other enemies.

Some scholars believe that the human cultists that spawned the grimlock race had intermingled with lower demons to produce the first grimlocks.  So far none of these scholars have ventured out of their lofty towers of learning, with plenty of sunlight, to put their theories to the test.

1960 Morlocks

1978 Morlock

Grimlocks from Charmed

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Cù Sìth and Monster book Progress

Last week I spent some time going over my proposed monster book.  Presently I have about 240 monsters and sitting at 170 pages without art.  Respectable but I am certain to make some cuts.   I have gone through all my Witch books and the majority of Monstrous Mondays.

The biggest issue at the moment is that I have done Monstrous Mondays for so long there are at least five OSR systems I have used, not to mention original monsters I created for other systems.  I can use those monsters, but just like the OSR ones I need to convert everything to a single system.

For a while, I was working on the notion that I should do this as an "Advanced" era book.  Trouble is I really don't see a lot of Advanced era books for sale on DriveThru.  It is pretty much dominated by Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry.  I want to make the book I want, but if I want to pay for art it also needs to be a book people will buy.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord seems like the best compromise, but even then it is missing a couple things I want. Well. That is where Monstrous Mondays come back in!

I think I'll use this space to workshop a few monster stat blocks that work with what I want.
In particular, I want to have something similar to what I was doing in the early 80s; the free mixing of "Basic" and "Advanced" eras.

Something that plays like this.



I could start with a standard Labyrinth Lord stat block, add-in ability scores or ability score adjustments like Blueholme does.  Maybe include some of the OGC elements I like best from Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary and OSRIC.

To be honest, I have not quite made up my mind just yet.
But let's try something out.

Here is a good test. I'll convert a Ghosts of Albion creature to this new format.  A good choice is one that was inspired by a 1st creature that was in turn inspired by the mythical fairy creature.
So here is my Monstrous Monday version of the Cù Sìth.

Cù Sìth
Cu Sith by NyssaShaw
Faerie Animal
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)
Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)
Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5
Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron
Size: Large
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: (working on this, see below)

The Celts were well known for their love of dogs. But the Cù Sìth (“coo shee”) or “Fairy Hound” has a special place in Celtic lore. Often described as a large hound that is either all green or all white with red ears. They have been alternately seen as bad omens, horrible stealers of children, or a fierce and loyal protector, the Cù Sìth features in many tales.

Tales feature the Cù Sìth as a spectral hound, one that forebodes doom like the Barghest, though those hounds are more often black in color and their malevolence is more universal than that of the Cù Sìth. Also, the Cù Sìth is more commonly associated with the Faerie and sometimes valiant, but tragic, warriors and the Barghest is more closely associated with witchcraft.

The Cù Sìth can be found most often near or around fairy mounds. A good sign that a mound is, in fact, a faerie mound is the proximity of a Cù Sìth to it.

Cù Sìth can also interbreed with other dogs which will typically produce one Cù Sìth per liter; sometimes more, sometimes less. Odd are the ways of the faerie folk.

Cù Sìth pups are rarely if ever tamed. If one wishes to remain with a non-faerie then it is of their own choosing.

--
OK.  Let's talk through this stat block.

Creature Type: Faerie Animal

I am going to include a creature type. This will be a short-hand for a few things.  Faerie in this case means can speak elven and sylvan, takes double damage from iron and *maybe* need silver or magic weapons to hit.

Frequency: Very Rare

I like frequency.  One of my favorite Advance era stats that we don't see in Basic era.

No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)

Fairly self-explanatory.

Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)

I want to include the Good-Evil axis along with the Law-Chaos one.  Both will be listed.

Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]

Movement is listed for Basic era Turns and (Rounds) and [Advanced era].  Special moves will be spelled out.  So no //# /# to confuse anyone.

Armor Class: 7 [12]

Armor Class is listed with both Descending and [Ascending] types.

Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)

For HD I am going to include the die type, any extra hp and hp (the average of the die type).

Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5

Attacks and Damage are split up.  Though I could easily put these on one line.

Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron

Special attacks, moves, and defenses are here.  This is vaguely Basic era, but also from other games I have used.

Size: Large

I like including size here. Also, I am considering using size to change HD type as it does in newer games.

Size HD Type Space Examples
Tiny d4 2½ by 2 ½ ft. Imp, sprite
Small d6 5 by 5 ft. Giant rat, goblin
Medium d8 5 by 5 ft. Orc, werewolf
Large d10 10 by 10 ft. Hippogriff, ogre
Huge d12 15 by 15 ft. Fire giant, treant
Gargantuan d20 20 by 20 ft. or larger Kraken, purple worm

Save: Monster 4

Most often monsters save as monsters, but sometimes a class might be used for special cases.

Morale: 12

I really enjoy Basic era style morale.

Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP:

These two are trickier since they rely a lot more on the game they are emulating AND the specific rules.  For the book I might create my own Treasure Type but I am also considering just going with the LL Horde Class and repeating the table in an appendix.

XP will really vary from system to system.  I have a Google Sheet that calculates for different games based on HD, special abilities, and the like.

Here is the output for the Cù Sìth for various games.

Base+hp*/ SA1**/ SA2***/SA3Total
Basic75123070187
Advanced75783070253
LL802405555430
BF24004040320
OSRIC75783070253
SW1200120120360
SS4010420300194
OSE755050175
289mean
253median
253mode

Not at all the same is it.

I might forgo putting in XP and letting Game Masters calculate it themselves based on their game of choice.  Mind you there might even be some error in my sheet above.  I built it years ago and have added to it but I have not back-checked my math in a while.

How often do you all use the XP line?

So I have ways to go just yet.

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