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

Monday, October 11, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Doppelgänger, Pod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Alchemical Zombie

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

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

Zombie
Zombie, Alchemical

Medium Undead* 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Monday, September 20, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Opinicus

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

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

Opinicus
Opinicus

Large beast (magical)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Hamingja

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

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

Hamingja
Hamingja

Medium Outsider (Angel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Qliphoth, Gamaliel

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

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

Case in point the Gamaliel.  

Gamaliel as a Sensory Homunculus

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

Gamaliel based on the Sensory Homunculus
Gamaliel

Medium Fiend, Qliphoth (demon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Goblin, Mad Hatter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 5, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Bonnacon

Bonnacon

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

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

Wait. What?

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

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

And there are some GREAT pictures of this awful beast.

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon

Bonnacon
Large Beast (Magical)

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 14, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Boo Hag

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

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

Boo Hag by Ashere
The Boo Hag by Ashere
Boo Hag

Medium Fey (Aquatic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Zinc Dragons

Saw this on social media. Got me thinking.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon, Zinc
aka Draco Spodium Ailbum
Huge Dragon, Metalic

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Z is for Zombie, Drowned

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

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

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

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

The Fog

Zombie, Drowned
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

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

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

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

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

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

Drowned zombies are turned as mummies or 5 HD undead.

--

And there we go!  

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

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

April 2021 A to Z

Thursday, April 29, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Y is for Yeti, Almas

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

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

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

Yeti, Almas
Medium Humanoid (Cold)

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

April 2021 A to Z

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: X is for Xana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

April 2021 A to Z


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: W is for Wight, Barrow

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

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

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

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

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

Wight, Barrow
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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


April 2021 A to Z

Saturday, April 24, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: U is for Undine

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

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

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

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

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

Undine
Medium Elemental (Water)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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

Here is what OSRIC lists for the Sylph:  

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

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

April 2021 A to Z


Friday, April 23, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: T is for Troll, Swamp

I enjoy trolls.  I have posted a few here and even did a Troll Week this past summer.  So yeah I am a fan.  For today I am doing a troll I have wanted to publish for a while, but I needed to rewrite it.

Troll
Troll, Swamp

Large Giant (Aquatic)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+8* (26 hp)
 Large: 4d10+8* (30 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: 2 claws,  1 bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2,  1d8+3
Special: Regeneration, amphibious
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX (D)
XP: 200 (OSE) 215 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 10 (0) Cha: 6 (-1)

The swamp troll is a semi-amphibious cousin of the troll found in dismal swamps, fetid bogs, and murky fens. They are slightly smaller in build but have larger jaws and claws. 

Swamp trolls are voracious eaters and will eat anything that walks, swims, or flies into their realms.  They attack with their large claws and bite.  Like their land-dwelling cousins, they regenerate (3 hp per round), but only while their body is touching the water.  A damaged swamp troll will retreat under the water of their swamp to heal and attack again. 

These trolls are often in the service of a Swamp Hag.

--

Ok. I like these guys. When I get some art for them I want a troll with a huge mouth full of sharp teeth. 

April 2021 A to Z

Thursday, April 22, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: S is for Skeleton, Electric

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

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

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

Man fighting skelleton
Skeleton, Electric

Medium Undead (Corporeal)

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

April 2021 A to Z

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: R is for Rakshasa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three headed Rakshasa
Rakshasa
Medium Fiend (Asura)

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

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

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

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

All rakshasa have the following spell-like abilities:

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

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

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

--

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

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: Q is for Qliphoth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qliphoth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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

April 2021 A to Z


Monday, April 19, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: P is for Púca

It began with Harvey. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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


April 2021 A to Z


Saturday, April 17, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: O is for Orc, Desert

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

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

Orc, Desert

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

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

- From the Journal of Larina Nix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tea Ritual

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

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

--

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

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

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

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

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

April 2021 A to Z