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

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Aglæca

Here is a monster that has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for a while now. I have renewed my search for this creature thanks to getting all caught up on the new "Nancy Drew" series which has a solid supernatural vibe to it. 

The word seems to come from Beowulf, but there is a lot of debate over what it means exactly

We can go to the root word, āglāc, which can mean distress, torment, or misery.  It later derived the Middle-English word egleche meaning warlike or brave.  The Dictionary of Old English describes it as an awesome opponent, a ferocious fighter.  There is so much confusion and speculation on this word there is even a recent Master's Thesis on it, Robinson, Danielle, "The Schizophrenic Warrior: Exploring Aglæca in the Old English Corpus." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. 

Given the Beowulf connection, I did look to the troll connection; I always thought of Grendel as some sort of troll.  But I have already done a Troll-wife (a type of hag) and a Trolla (a type of troll witch).  There also seems to be a demonic or even diabolic association with this creature. But I have also already done demonic trolls.  Given the Old-English and Middle-English sources of the word I even thought that something along the lines of a proto-hag might work, but I have done those as well in the Ur-hag

Robinson details some comments from Tolkien on his reading of Beowulf and spends time talking about the monster (and true to her thesis, the noble warriors) that appear in the poem.

Both Grendel and his mother are described as aglæca. While I like to think of Grendel as a troll and his mother as more of a troll-wife, maybe there is more to it. 

Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæca
Large Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 8d8**+16 (52 hp)
  HD (Large): 8d10**+16 (60 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+4 x2, 1d8+4
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, sunlight sensitivity. 
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,750 (OSE) 1,840 (LL)

The aglæca is a large humanoid creature that appears to be something of a mix of both ogre and troll. It is blue-ish grey in color with patches of dark blue that are the color of bruises. It smells of rotting meat,  decay, and the sea.  Its long muscular arms end in large hands with great claws. Its mouth has large fangs and tusks and maybe most disturbingly, its eyes burn with a fierce intelligence.

It is believed to be a descendant of the great giants and Jötunns of the north and the ancestor to the more common ogre and troll. Some scholars speculate that there is a bit of demonic blood in this creature, or even something more evil and primal.   

The aglæca causes fear (as per the magic-user spell cause fear) to any that sees it.  It will use this power to fearlessly attack opponents.  It will use its claws and bite in an attack. While it is intelligent and knows the value of weapons in combat, its berserker-like fury will cause it to abandon weapons in favor of its own hands.  The aglæca will take anything it kills back to their caves to eat. Their preferred food is humans followed by elves, halflings, and dwarves.  

Only magic weapons or magic can hit it and it can regenerate 1 hp per round.  The aglæca prefers to fight at night or in the dark.  It attacks at -1 in light and at -2 in bright sunlight. Aglæca speaks the local languages and giant. They are fearless in battle.

The origins of the aglæca are a mystery. It is speculated that they are very, very old creatures. Thankfully they are very rare and getting rarer to find all the time.

Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæc-wif
Medium Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8**+12 (39 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d8+3
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, witch magic. 
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

The aglæc-wif is the smaller female of the aglæca species.  It is conjectured that there may in fact be larger female aglæca that are not aglæc-wif and the aglæc-wif might be another related creature.  So far the only aglæc-wif that have been recorded have been a pair with a larger aglæca.

Like the aglæca, the aglæc-wif appears to be related to the troll and/or ogres.  They also are quite intelligent and while they are perfectly happy to murder and eat any human they see, they are not just ravenous monsters.  The aglæc-wif also possesses the infravision of the aglæca but is not hampered by light or sunlight.  Also, like the aglæca, these creatures feed on humanoids, but they prefer humans to all other forms of food.

An aglæc-wif can attack with claws and bite like the aglæca, but she is also capable of using spells as a 4th level witch of the faerie, sea, or winter traditions.  Their preferred spells are charm-based. Any magic that provided protection from or special damage to Sea Hags is also effective on an aglæc-wif.

It is speculated that like a troll-wife the aglæc-wif can join a covey of hags as a third hag. Though none have ever been reported as doing so.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Yaoguai

Well, January was used up and Monday, February 1st was also taken, so that makes today the first free Monday in 2021 for Monstrous Mondays!  Let's get to it.

First I want to talk a little bit about my two monster books, the Basic Bestiaries.  I am far behind my original and revised, release dates.  Not that this is a big deal really save that I wanted to something more done. I mentioned a while back that I began with one book and I am now splitting it up into two books, one for witch and witchcraft associated monsters and another for various demons and devils.  Work has continued on both books, but I might get to a point where I need to split them up yet again.  No big details yet, but I have an overabundance of the undead, in particular, vampires.  Still, my choice is two books and I am extremely happy with my Fuseli and Goya covers.

This brings me to today's post.  The Yaoguai and Chinese demons.  


My demons are now over 500 individual monsters and I am just getting started. I have talked a lot about demons here. 

What I know about Chinese Mythology could fill a book.  A very small, poorly edited book.
Here is what I have learned over the last few months. 

Yaoguai are a class of mostly evil (but not always so) spirits.  The name is used for the collection of all such spirits and for a group of specific animal spirits.  The name comes from the characters 妖怪 which translate into "strange ghost." They are related to yaomo (妖魔 yāomó, lit. "strange devil") or yaojing (妖精 yāojīng, lit. "sprite" or "seductive") all start with the same character 妖. This (typically) refers to an awakened spirit.

And as expected it also far more complicated than that.  Though as I have mentioned before, I can't serve two masters, in this case, Chinese mythology and good Game Design.

Yaoguai

Lesser Yaoguai are all animal spirits that were normally benign but have sought out immortality by becoming demons. While they can generally be described as evil, they are often more selfish and amoral.  The ones most encountered are evil since they tend to work against mortals.

All lesser yaoguai can be recognized by their glowing eyes, preternatural strength, and enlarged teeth and claws. All yaoguai can speak common and any other local languages.

As a spirit creature, a lesser yaoguai can be "Turned" by a cleric as if they were undead.  They do need to know their proper name.  So "begone rat demon" will not work, but "begone shǔ yaoguai" will.  A result of "T" will cause the creature to run away. A "D" result will force the spirit out of the animal in question, often killing the host animal. 

Lesser Yaoguai also all have the following powers.

  • Spirit. The natural form of the Yaoguai is a spirit. It will inhabit the body, living or dead, of the animal of their type.
  • Command Animals. Lesser Yaoguai can command animals of the same type. Niú Yaoguai can command oxen and other cattle for example.
  • Hybrid form. Yaoguai can shift between animal form and a humanoid form like a lycanthrope.
  • Immune to poison, gas, polymorph, and petrify effects. Immune to normal weapons.
  • Half damage from cold, fire, and electricity effects.  Half damage from silver weapons.
  • Full damage from magical weapons.
  • Double damage from a blessed weapon. These weapons specifically blessed by a priest to fight a particular type of Yaoguai spirit.

Shǔ Yaoguai  
Rat demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Uncommon
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:  Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]

Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8***+5 (28hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 2d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: disease (demon fever), summon animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 8 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 750 (OSE) 860 (LL)

Shǔ Yaoguai, or Rat demon spirit, is the most common of the lesser yaoguai encountered.  They appear as large rats with glowing eyes and human intelligence. In fact, they are often smarter than humans.  They can be found wherever large groups of rats are found.  They are often mistaken for wererats or dire rats of a, particularly evil mien.

Shǔ Yaoguai can attack with claw and bite and it is by these means that they deliver their curse of Demon Fever.  On a successful critical hit with a bite (a natural 20 rolled), they transmit Demon Fever.

The subject is allowed a saving throw vs poison.  A fail means death, a successful save means the victim has contracted a slower version of the fever. They will not be able to do anything but require complete bed rest. They will lose one Constitution point per day unless a Cure Disease is cast on them.  If they reach o Constitution they will die.

These demons can summon 10-100 normal rats, 2-40 dire rats, or 1-6 wererats in rat form.

Rat demons exist to cause chaos and suffering only. While they are intelligent their plans typically do not exist beyond this.

Niú Yaoguai
Ox demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 7d8**+21 (53hp)
Attacks: I headbutt
Damage: 2d8+3
Special: Trample (4d8+3)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster  7
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XV [H]
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,200 (LL)

Niú Yaoguai, or Ox demon spirit, are among the least intelligent of the yaoguai.  They are also among the strongest and the greediest.  In their animal form, they appear as a black and red ox with fiery eyes. Their hybrid human form appears as a minotaur.

The main attack of the ox demon is a running headbutt. On any critical hit (a natural 20) they also knock their opponent prone and trample them as an automatic attack.  The prone victim needs 1 combat round to get back on their feet.  The ox demon is not very dexterous and needs a full round to turn around if they wish to attack the same victim twice.  

These demons are slow, dumb, and very materialistic.  They can also be bribed with treasure; at least double or triple what their current treasure hoard is worth (discounting magic items which they have value for).  If this offer is made even the chaotic ox demon will not attack.

Hǔ Yaoguai
Tiger demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6[13]
Hit Dice: 9d8**+9 (50hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+2 x2, 2d8+1
Special: rake (back legs for 1d8+2 x2)
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXII [A]
XP: 2,350 (OSE) 2,400 (LL)

Hǔ Yaoguai or Tiger demon spirit are among the most violent of all the yaoguai. They appear as tigers with glowing eyes. Their hybrid form reminds one of a weretiger or even a type of Rakshasa; a comparison that both types of fiends abhor.

The tiger demon gleefully attacks with its claws and bite.  A critical hit on a bite attack (natural 20) will result in a pin and the demon can then attack with its hind legs for a rake. A hǔ yaoguai in hybrid form cannot rake.

This demon delights in sowing fear.  Its preferred attack is to seek out remote villages and begin to kill lone travelers.  It will leave the bodies where they can be found to raise the fear levels.  Its ultimate goal is to not just kill as many mortals as it can, but also to get the inhabitants of a village or local so scarred that normal life stops.  Fields are not attended, work ceases in other parts of the village, and so on.  Killing a handful of villagers with claw and bite is satisfying. Killing dozens because there are now not enough crops to feed them is a greater evil. 

Despite their propensity to violence they are a clever demon and will work towards the maximum fear they can.

Shé Yaoguai
Serpent demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8***+16 (52hp)
Attacks: bite + poison
Damage: 1d6, save vs. poison
Special: Poison, summon normal animals
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XX [C]
XP: 2,300 (OSE) 2,440 (LL)

Of all the lesser yaoguai the Shé Yaoguai, or Serpent demon spirit, is the most clever. Second only to the Hóu Yaoguai; but never mention that to these evil creatures.  They spend the most time in their animal form as a large constrictor snake with glowing eyes, large fangs, and strange markings on their skin.  They are never confused with normal snakes.  Their hybrid form is that of a large snake with a humanoid torso and arms with a snake's head.

This yaoguai prefers to attack with its bite only.  A critical hit (natural 20) means they have injected a paralytic poison into their victim. The victim needs to save vs. poison or die.  A successful save still infects the victim and they lose 1 point of Dexterity per round. This will affect any attack or armor class of the victim. When they reach 0 Dexterity they are paralyzed permanently unless a Remove or Neutralize Poison spell is cast. If all their victims are defeated then the serpent demon will feast on the corpses and the paralyzed.

Shé yaogaui demons can also summon 10-100 normal snakes, 1-10 poisonous vipers, and 1-10 constrictor snakes.

Among the most evil of these types of demons the Serpent Yaoguai attempt to tempt humans into hedonistic lifestyles where only their own pleasures matter.  To this end, they work through others to provide decadent parties, banquets, and houses of pleasure.

Hóu Yaoguai
Monkey demon spirit
Medium Fiend (Demonic, Yaoguai)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Hybrid: 120' (40') [12"]
  Spirit: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 10d8***+10 (55hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d4+1 x2, 1d6+1
Special: Yaoguai abilities
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 10
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: XXI [B]
XP: 3,000 (OSE) 3,100 (LL)

Hóu Yaoguai, or Monkey demon spirit, are among the most powerful, smartest, and evil of the lesser Yaoguai.  Their animal form is that of a particularly evil-looking monkey looking like a macaque combined with a chimpanzee.  In their hybrid form, they can pass for a hairy human. Given the proper clothing, they can be 90% indistinguishable.

Like all yaoguai, these creatures prefer to attack with their natural weapons. In this case two claws and a bite. Unlike others, there is no special attack by this demon. 

These demons are more subtle than their kindred.  There are no summonings of creatures or deadly diseases. What they can do is summon 2-20 thralls; mercenary humans they have brought over to their causes.  This suits the Hóu Yaoguai well in its chosen area of interest.  The breakup of human-run governments. 

The Hóu Yaoguai will insert itself into a government as a low-level official and work its way up to power where it can influence governors, princes, or even the Emporer.  Its goal is always the same bring as much chaos as it can.  The ultimate goal for any Monkey demon is civil war.

--

Not too bad for a start.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Nøkk

Work continues on Basic Bestiary, playing around with a few ideas.  Here is one I have been working off and on with over the last year.  Most off, since I notice it has been a year since I looked at it last.

Nøkk
Medium/Large Fey (Water)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral (True Neutral)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
   Swim: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (39 hp)
Attacks: 1 fist or 1 hoof or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6+1 or 1d8+1 or by weapon
Special: Song (Charm), Spell-like abilities
Size: Medium or Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 650 (B/X, OSE) 680 (LL)

The Nøkk, also Neck, Näcken, and Nokken, is a type of fey creature that lives in temperate to arctic waters.  They can appear as a man playing a lyre, flute, or violin, or as a large horse made partially of water.  They are related to the nixie and other water-based faerie creatures.  Some scholars debate if they are in truth water spirits of water elementals.  They are not unduly affected by cold-iron as other fey are.  

The nøkk is content to spend his days sitting on rocks near the shore and playing his instrument and singing.  They avoid combat when they can preferring to use their song of charm to ward off possible attacks.  If a character approaches the nøkk with respect he may teach them a song.  For bards, this equates to a once in a lifetime gift of 500 XP.  For spellcasters such as magic-users, druids, or witches they learn to cast a Charm Person spell once without the need to memorize the spell.  

Nøkk also have the following spell-like abilities they can use once per day (x1 day), Animal Friendship, Charm Animal, Cure Light Wounds, Predict Weather, and cast Water Breathing on up to six others.  A nøkk can breathe air or water as it chooses.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Ghost Spiders

I have been working on a set of game boards to depict Lolth's lair in the Abyss.  They are not done yet and hope to show them off soon.   I have been taking my family through the Classic Greyhawk Campaign starting with T1 (AND B1) and working all the way to Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. 

While running I have added other material to the campaign to flesh it out more. This includes such classics as Bone Hill, Ravenloft, and Castle Amber but other details like a Stone Giant fortress Cloud Giant castle in the sky (for G4 and G5 respectively) as well as more details for the Drow City of Erelhei-Cinlu and a revamp of Lolth's lair.

While it is too late in the game for me to use it, Joesph Bloch, the Greyhawk Grognard, has released his own D4 to expand the Drown of Erelhei-Cinlu.  You can find it on his blog. 

It looks fantastic really, and let's be honest, Bloch knows his Greyhawk.  So I am certain that it would have been a nice addition to my campaign.  Plus it ties the GDQ series a little closer to the Temple of Elemental Evil, which is the ultimate goal of my campaign as well.  I understand he is doing a Q2 or something akin to that.  I have also wanted a good Q2. Though I am adapting the Monte cook adventure "Queen of Lies" for it.


But until then, I have a few more "spiderweb" monsters I need to weed out the uninspired choices in Q1. 

Here is one of them.

Ghost Spider

Huge Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
   Webs: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 1 [18]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10** (33 hp)
  Alternate HP: 5d12+10** (43 hp) (Huge)
Attacks: Bite
Damage: 2d8
Special: Ethereal, fear aura, harmed only by magic, incorporeal, undead, webs
Size: Huge
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 3,500 (B/X, OSE) 3,600 (LL)

Ghost Spiders appear as semi-transparent, glowing ghosts of huge spiders.  They are not spiders, nor are they exactly undead, but rather they are the demonic projections of fears powered by necromantic forces.

A ghost spider is found anywhere where the influence of demons is strong and where mortal creatures can interact.  The fears of spiders are magnified till a ghost spider is created.  As such it radiates a fear aura that mimics the spell Cause Fear.  Anyone under 5 HD/Levels must make a saving throw vs Spells or fall under the influence of the spell-like effect.  Creatures higher than 5HD/Levels gain a +2 to their save. Creatures 9HD/levels or higher are immune to these fear effects.  Those affected will be frozen in fear and unable to move, run, or attack. The ghost spider will then attack with webs (as per a giant spider) to immobilize other potential victims.  Then will then use their bite to kill others.  Ghost Spiders are not living and therefore do not require to feed on victims. They instead feed on the fear they cause and the pain from deaths. 

Ghost spiders are treated as undead and can be turned as a 5HD creature or as a Spectre.  Like all undead they are immune to charm, hold and sleep spells. They can only be struck by magical weapons. Once destroyed the ghost spider will not reform, but other ghost spiders may be created in their place at a future date.  The only way to destroy them forever is to remove the demonic forces that create them.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Dybbuk

Another monster I have been playing around with for a while. This one goes all the way back to my AD&D years, though under a different name.  I have always liked the idea that Lichdom is never an assured thing for evil wizards and a lot can go wrong.  Here is one of those times.

Dybbuk, by Ephraim Moshe Lilien (1874–1925).

Dybbuk
Medium Undead (Incorporeal)
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 12d8+36*** (90 hp)
Attacks: 1 touch or by spells
Damage: 1d6+3 cold damage, or by spell (see below)
Special: Ethereal, incorporeal, harmed only by magic, possession, animate dead, undead
Size: Medium
Save: Magic-user 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: Special (dybbuk box)
XP: 3,500 (B/X, OSE) 3,600 (LL)

The process of becoming a lich is filled with peril and risk. Thankfully, for the forces of good, few learn the secret and fewer still meet with success.   While most of the failed attempts to become a lich end with the permanent death of many evil mages, sometimes the process fails, the body is destroyed but the evil spirit lives on.  These failed attempts at lichdom as known as a Dybbuk.

The dybbuk is the disembodied spirit of an evil magic-user who attempted to become a lich but whose body was destroyed before the final process was complete.  The spirit remains tied to the mortal realms, unable to complete its transformation to a lich or move on to whatever plane it was due to move on too in the afterlife.  The creature is evil and has a hatred for all living things.

A dybbuk is an incorporeal creature inhabiting the ethereal plane.  It is invisible and can only be hit by magical weapons that can attack ethereal creatures.  The creature will appear like a spectre and can be mistaken for one.  When it chooses to attack a creature it will reenter the material world and become visible to all.  

The most feared attack of the dybbuk is its ability to possess others.  They will seek out magic-users and their pride demands that they seek out only the ones of the highest levels to possess.  The victim must make a saving throw vs. spells (Lawful victims have a +1 to saves, Chaotic victims have a -1 to saves) or become possessed by the dybbuk.  If possessed the victim gets another save every 24 hours.  However, there is a progressive -1 each day to the save. Additionally, the victim will lose 1 point of constitution each day.  When they reach 0 they are dead and cannot be resurrected as the dybbuk has destroyed their body and soul. If a victim makes the save the dybbuk cannot make another attempt for 24 hours.

Once in the body of a magic-user, the dybbuk will use any spells their host body knows. Typically they will attack anyone and everyone nearby, such is their hate for all living things. Those that can see ethereal creatures will see the dybbuk “riding” on the back of the possessed victim.  A dybbuk also has the ability to animate 3d6 HD worth of skeletons and/or zombies. The bodies must be readily available, but a dybbuk will make sure plenty are on hand near it’s lair.  These undead creatures follow the orders of the dybbuk til they are destroyed.

The dybbuk can be turned by a cleric as if it were a lich. Once in a victim though only an Exocism, Holy Word, Cleanse or similar spells will be effective in driving the evil spirit out. When the dybbuk is forced out it will spend the next 24 hours in its Dybbuk Box, or where its soul now resides.  To fully destroy a dybbuk this housing for their soul must be destroyed.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Lunar Angels

One of the things I always felt AD&D was lacking in was good representations of the forces of Good.  I mean we have thousands of demons, devils, daemons, demodands, and everything in-between, but we didn't get anything like an angel until the Monster Manual II and then only three types.  

Now the in-game reason is clear, these are not meant to be fought because the assumption is all parties tend towards good.  There may have been an outside influence as well. Gary may not have wanted to encroach on his own beliefs here and there was always the nod to pressure from the outside.

With the publication of 3rd Edition and additionally Pathfinder this changed a bit.  Now Devas, Planetars, and Solars are classified as angels. But that still leaves open all the different types such as thrones, cherubim, malakim, seraphim, and not to mention the Archangels.  

So ignoring all that lore and history, I am still making up my own! Here is one that made appearances in my Buffy RPG games and adapted from my earlier WitchCraft RPG games and had root in my AD&D 2nd ed games.

Lunar Angel (Hero Forge)

Angel, Lunar

HeroForge Angel
Large Celestial (Angelic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 or 2d6
Alignment:
Lawful [Lawful Good]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Fly: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 13d8+52* (124 hp)
Attacks: 2 by weapon type +5 (STR bonus +3, magic bonus +2)
Damage: 1d10+3 x2
Special: Magic required to hit (+2), 80% magic resistance, spell-like abilities
Size: Large
Save: Monster 13
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 5,150 (OSE), 5,300 (LL)

Lunars are tall angels with pale skin and wings, golden hair bright eyes.  They are the most "human" looking of angels since their duty is to guard human realms. They are the angels who live closest to humans compared to other angelic types. They are typically armed with large glowing swords that they use to perform their primary function, the protection of mortals from demonic forces.  Where Planetars deal with evil in general, the Lunars focus on demonic forces and chaotic (evil) monsters and mortals.

These servants of good are always of Lawful (Good) alignment.  They will most often be encountered alone (75%) or as part of a hunting party (25%) of 2d6 (7) members.  If encountered alone they will be scouting for potential demonic threats, a hunting party has discovered such a threat and have been sent by a Lawful (Good) deity or solar to deal with them. 

Lunars have the following Spell-like abilities that they can cast as a Lawful Cleric of 10th level (Wisdom 21). At will: Become Astral or Ethereal, Cure Light Wounds, Know Alignment, Light, Protection from Evil, Remove Fear.  3x per day: Bless, Commune, Continual Light, Cure Serious Wounds, Hold Person, Neutralize Poison, Remove Curse. 1x per day: Dispel Evil, Protection from Evil 10' Radius.  Additionally, a lunar may "Turn" undead as a cleric of the 13th level.  Demons and chaotic (evil) creatures are affected as if they had a Cause Fear spell cast on them by the lunar.  Chaotic (evil) humanoids are allowed a saving throw vs. spells at -4 to avoid these effects.  Creatures or characters that are immune to normal fear gain a +2 to their rolls to save. Creatures immune to magical fear sill must make a saving throw, but at +4 to their rolls.  Lawful (good) creatures are not affected by this aura of fear. The swords of Lunars are considered to be Lawful intelligent swords, +2. They only function in the hands of a lunar (or it is assumed, a solar of Lawful alignment).  Lunars prefer not to kill mortals if they can help it, but will do so if the greater good requires it.

These angels also have 80% magic resistance, are immune to the attacks of undead (ghoul paralysis, mummy rot, life level drain) and lycanthropes.  They are resistant to fire and add +4 to any saving throw based on cold or death-related attacks. Their eyes reflect paralysis and petrification gaze back on to the monsters using them.   If killed their bodies dissolve in a shimmer of silver light and they are reformed in the Silver City in the Heavens.   

Lunars do not trouble themselves in the affairs of mortals except where their primary function of destroying demons comes in.  A lunar will for example destroy the summoning circles of demonic magic-users and warlocks and destroy their libraries, but will not actually kill the offending mortal.  A lunar may be summoned by a lawful cleric if the proper rituals are followed. Though the lunar will not be under any compulsion to appear, it will get their attention.  If the need is great (demon incursion into the mortal realms) then such summoning can be foregone and they will respond to an earnest plea. 

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.