Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Daughters of Iggwilv

image of Drelnza holding Daoud's Lantern
It's Tasha's Week of Everything this week here at the Other Side.  So I thought I'd start Monstrous Mondays with a monster that has been suggested to me over the years.

Today's monster comes from a variety of sources. First, there is Iggwilv-Louhi connection that I talked about it in the Finish Mythos.  Louhi, despite being an old witch is said to have lovely maiden daughters that the heroes often seek out.  By extension shouldn't Iggwilv have some daughters too?

If we go with "yes" (and I always go with yes) then there are two issues, what are they like and who is the father.  Let's go with the father question first.  Among the candidates of "people" she has been involved with include the Demon Prince Fraz-Urb'luu, the half-demon Arch-Mage Tsojcanth, the wizard Zagig Yragerne, even Mordenkainen himself is a possibility and of course the Demon Prince Graz'zt.

We know all about Iggwilv's love affair with Graz'zt.  We know from other sources, chiefly the Gygax Greyhawk novels, that Iuz is the offspring of Iggwilv and Graz'zt.  Or maybe not. In the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting entry for Iuz it is suggested that he is "some by-blow of Orcus."  I personally liked the idea that Orcus had mortal agents in the world.  While this idea was later dropped it became an element of the Forgotten Realms, where I think it works out a little better.  But it still is a tantalizing idea.  

While Louhi might have daughters known as "the Maidens of Pohjola" I am not expecting Iggwilv's daughters to be so innocent. Her only other daughter, Drelnza, was a vampire, described as a "false Disney Princess" (she is not the damsel in distress, she is the monster), and most certainly not the offspring of Graz'zt.  Going back to the Louhi/Lovitar connection for a bit, Lovitar is known as the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Nine is a good number.

Iggwilv taken to Orcus
I think I have something.

When Iggwilv was defeated by Graz'zt the former master was now the slave.  Graz'zt had intended to keep the fallen Witch Queen in the Abyss to have her suffer an eternity of imprisonment as she had kept him.  Iggwilv however was more clever than the Demon Prince knew and soon she went from prisoner to consort, to confidant to his main advisor.  While she was rising in the ranks of Graz'zt courts she was "traded" to the Demon Prince Orcus over a loss Graz'zt had suffered at the hands of the Demon Prince of undead.  

Taken from Azzagrat in chains she arrived in Thanatos at the feet of the Lord of Undead to serve a tredecim (13 years) of service between CY 503 and CY 516.

Enraged, Iggwilv plotted revenge on both Graz'zt and Orcus.  Her carefully constructed lies and seductions learned from Fraz-Urb'luu that were so effective on Graz'zt held no sway on Orcus. Save for the occasional bit of violence Orcus showed no interest in the Witch Queen other than to deprive Graz'zt of her.  Within that century though Iggwilv gave birth to nine daughters that she was able to keep secret from both Orcus and Graz'zt.  These nine daughters were all of the same fierce, dark beauty as their mother, but had the taint of undeath like their father.  In secret, Iggwilv taught her daughters the ways of witchcraft and fashioned Abyssal weapons for each of them.  Once they were grown their curse of undeath took hold and they became something akin to vampires. Iggwilv sent them into the world to cause as much havoc and chaos as they could and, most importantly act against the designs and will of both Graz'zt and Orcus.

Noidan Tytär
Noidan Tytär
Medium Undead (Demonic)
Frequency: Unique (only 9 are known to exist)
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
  Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: -4 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+42**** (105 hp)
Attacks: by special weapon, claw/claw, or by magic or special
Damage: 1d10+6, 1d4+4 x2, special
Special: Magic required to hit (+2 or better), Vampire abilities, Witch spells, Undead
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 14
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
Special, see below
XP: 5,150

The Noidan Tytär, or Daughters of the Witch, are a unique group of undead demonically spawned creatures.  These creatures, as beautiful as they are powerful, evil and deadly, are thankfully very, very rare. In fact, only nine are known to exist.  Thankfully they also never work together by order of their mother the Witch Queen. 

Each of the Noidan Tytär is a skilled fighter and possesses both superior arms and armor. Typically magical plate mail of etherealness +2, and a bastard vorpal sword +2 that they wield with one hand due to their preternatural strength. 

In addition to their fighting ability, the Noidan Tytär are also undead akin to vampires. Magic is required to hit them and they are immune to charm, hold and sleep magic as well as any mind-affecting magics. Unlike vampires, they do not require blood to survive but drain the life energy (Constitution points) at the rate of 2 points per touch.  They can go long periods without feeding but it will cause them to go into a deep stupor until a victim can be found.  They can not enter a personal dwelling or holy/blessed land like a vampire and holy items can keep them at bay and cause damage.  They are however immune to the effects of garlic. A stake through the heart will destroy them, but if the stake is removed they will reform in one round.  They can become gaseous, but cannot assume the shapes of animals.  They can fly as per the spell.

They can be Turned as Special (14 HD) by a cleric of high enough level. Any result of a D only discorporates them until the next new moon.  The only way to truly destroy them is stake them, remove their head, and burn both the body and head in separate pyres.  An exorcism or cleanse spell must then be used to force their spirits back to the Abyss. 

Additionally, each Noidan Tytär can cast spells as a 7th level witch of the Mara Tradition. 

The Noidan Tytär are often used as mercenaries for powerful chaotic rulers, demon lords, and evil cults. Secretly they work to undo the efforts of Graz'zt and Orcus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Current Works In Progress: Basic Bestiary & High Witchcraft

Work has me really busy right now, so I have been slow on getting new material out.  Either in book form or for this blog (except for Halloween).  But I wanted to give an update on what I am working on now.

I recently went through all my research notes, books, and files.  This has been a good thing and something I like to do every so often to keep me grounded in what sort of game I want.  It is far, far too easy in game design to drift away from your core principles into something else.  One example of this power-creep in games, though there are other reasons for power-creep too.  The other is scope-creep and that is when a project gets too unwieldy and becomes much larger than intended. 

Both types have hit my latest two works in progress, so I have been taking a step back to see what I really have.

Basic Bestiary

This is the "Big" project that has my focus now.  The project began with collecting all the monsters from all my witch books, plus all the monsters for Monstrous Mondays, and additional ones I have but have not published.  Once I pull them all together I had over 220 pages with 300 or so monsters with no art (yet).  For me that felt like a "good size" but I got to thinking.  Even if I edit them all and standardize them all, which is no small amount of work, these are all essentially "re-runs" material people have already seen and in some cases paid for.   That didn't feel right to me.  So I started adding more (power and scope creep!) and that is where the issues began.

For starters, I publish most for Basic-era (B/X, BECMI, OSE, LL) and Swords & Wizardry games.  Add in all the other games I post about here I have monsters in six to seven different but still largely compatible systems.  I needed to standardize my monster stat block.  You have seen it's evolution here on my blog. The current and most stable version can be seen in yesterday's Fenodyree.  Essentially a Labyrinth Lord stat block with some other information thrown in that I like to use in my games.   If you go back and look at something like the Wendigo then you can see that there are three different, similar but not the same, stat blocks.   So there is that process now going on.  Some stat blocks like S&W and OSE are great, but far too minimal for me. 

Also since the hardcover of The Craft of the Wise went over so well I decided that the Basic Bestiary needed softcover (Basic) and hardcover (Advanced) options.  Here are the covers as they sit now.  These very likely will change again.

Basic Bestiary cover, version 1 Basic Bestiary cover, version 2

For these covers, I made two changes.  First I switched to Goya's "The Witches' Sabbath" to reflect the feel that this book is mostly witch related monsters.  It also fits better with the quote I use in the Preface, "El sueño de la razón produce monstruos." or "The sleep of reason produces monsters."

I am also going with my own compatibility logos on these since they really have gone beyond one system or the other.  They are still largely "Basic" in nature, but as you can see from my stat blocks they have a little bit of everything in the OGC. 

Switching from Fuseli to Goya also was an outward sign of another issue.   I had WAY too many demons.  Not just demons, but devils and all sorts of fiends.  I also had my own demonic families of Baalserph, Lilim, Eodemons, Calabim, and Shedim.  I mean you can't do as much reading, researching, and writing about witches like I do and not collect some demons.    There really was only one solution.

Split them into two books. 

This actually works well since in my discussions with people there are decidedly two camps. The ones that use demons in basic-era games and those who don't.   This gives both groups buying options.

Basic Bestiary II, Basic coverBasic Bestiary II, Advanced cover

Regardless of whether you buy the "Basic" softcover or the "Advanced" hardcover, the material inside will be the same.  The Basic Bestiary I will be heavy on undead, vampires, fey, hags, and other witch-related monsters.   The Basic Bestiary II will cover demons, devils, and all sorts of fiends.

Right now there is no projected publication dates.  BUT I want to get BBI out and follow up with BBII maybe three or six months later.

Between those two I will also publish my "Last Witch Book,"  The High Secret Order Witchcraft book.


Going back to Rosetti for this one, a perennial favorite of mine.  The piece is "Astarte Syriaca" which harkens back to the first witch coven I ever wrote, the Coven of Astártē Queen of Heaven.

All three books (five covers) will be under my "Basic-Era Compatible" banner to indicate greater compatibility with each other and my desire to use what I consider the best or best of all the systems along with my own additions. Compatibility is key, but innovation is the driving goal here. 

The weakest link right now is The Secret Order book.  I have a ton of material and none of it put together the way I want yet.

Personally, I am really excited about all of these. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Space Age Slap Jack and the Lords of Faerie

space age slap jack card deck
A few months back I was digging through a bunch of old notes.  We were cleaning up my game room and as typical of me, I took the opportunity to reorganize my accumulated notes. 

One of the things I found was some hand-written notes on various personages from my games.  A couple that had a very strange genesis and how I worked around to get them to where I have them now.  Vague? Yeah. But let me start at the beginning and work my way back up.

Let's go back to Christmas 1982.  I was full-on in my Star Wars fandom.  I had seen Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back a couple of times. I had read everything I could my hands on about Star Wars and I was hungry for more.  Also at this time, I was really getting into D&D. My introduction three years prior and my gift of the Basic and Expert Sets had kept me going for a long, long time.  Anyway Christmas. We would always go to my mom's sister's house for Christmas eve or close to that. Here we would get small gifts.  Nothing huge, my mom had a big family, and getting something for everyone was expensive.

This year (and I don't remember many other gifts we got to be honest) I got something that was very strange to me.  I got a deck of Slap Jack cards.  I thought it was an odd gift really, I was 13 and this was a game for little kids. But this set was different.  At least my Aunt or whoever bought it knew of my love of Star Wars and this was a "Space Age Slap Jack."

Space Age Slap Jack. Cards laid out

While I might have played it as RAW once or twice that Christmas, that is not why I grew to enjoy this set. It was the art and the overall concept.

Jack, The Lord of Aggression was an obvious Dollar Store Darth Vader.  He may have been the "star" but he was also the least interesting.  There were cards named "Interstellar Demon" and "Guardian of the Oathbreakers" and "Orbital Guardians."  The art is not fantastic, but it is very compelling.

But it was the Queen of Goodness that captured my attention.

Queen of Goodness from Space Age Slap Jack

She was a Queen. She had a glowing sword. Not a "lightsaber" a glowing sword. And she looked profoundly sad to me. I wanted to know more about this deck, the story it was trying to tell me. But what was it? It was 1982, there was no Internet, BitNet was still new and no one had access to it. So I did what I always do.  I made a story up.

jack lord of aggression cards

In a way, these cards became an ersatz tarot deck.  I would deal out the cards and whatever came up I created a narrative in my mind.   Jack was what I'd call today a Warlock. He was the great traitor of the Galactic Peace. The Queen was the young ruler of the Galaxy, now in charge after the untimely death of her father the old King.  She ruled, but Jack strove to take it away from her.  In this tale, my Galaxy had both high tech and old magic. If this sounds familiar, then yes I have adopted some of these broad strokes for my BlackStar game.

I don't think I ever wrote any of this down. The material I found was recycling some years later. 

Fast-forward a couple of years. Now I am in my hardcore AD&D phase.  While I had been listening to music my whole life I was actually "listening" to the music instead of just "hearing" it as my late brother Mike would tell me.  One of the albums (tapes really) that also captured my imagination was Led Zeppelin's Four, or IV.   The song "Battle of Evermore" on side A, right before "Stairway to Heaven" grabbed a hold of my imagination with its epic Tolkienesqe imagery. But what really grabbed me more than anything were the haunting vocals of Sandy Denny.  I found the voice of my Queen.

But by this time I had moved my sci-fi fandom and my fantasy fandom further apart. Another little tidbit. While listening to the Battle of Evermore for the first time I misheard the lyrics (as we often did in the 80s).  The lyrics go:

Queen of Light took her bow
And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom
And walked the night alone.

But I heard: Queen of Lies and Prince of Beasts.  These names took over the meta-story of the Queen of Goodness and the Lord of Aggression, but of course, they had changed a little.  The Queen of Lies was the Queen not because of lying, but because of the only lie she ever told, a lie that caused the death of her father (remember she was sad).  The Prince of Beasts, the former Lord of Aggression was also changed into a character that was aggressive, but not due to evil, but because he was protecting the wild spaces he lived. He became more of a Beorn-like character. Their stories are linked. And don't get me started on the Angels of Avalon or the Dragon of Darkness. Though my Orange Dragon from the Pumpkin Spice Witch certainly fits that.

The Queen of Lies and the Pince of Beasts eventually became something akin to faerie lords in my games. Both are sad figures and represent the melancholia of certain heroes in various tales.

The Tale of the Queen of Lies and Prince of Beasts

A long time ago a Faerie King had a beautiful daughter. Her mother had been human and died in childbirth.  The King, being a wise King, did not blame the girl as other monarchs might have, and instead of bemoaning the lack of a son he raise his beautiful, but sad daughter to be ready to rule in his place one day.

The King's lands were beset by all sorts of beasts so much so that his Kingdom and the surrounding lands became known as the Wild.  While the King loved his daughter, his people did not. In their minds, she was the cause of her mother's death and the reason the King would not remarry to have sons.  Over time the King's advisors suggested he marry her to the local Lord who had control over all the wild beasts.  The King saw the wisdom of this and prepared the marriage.  His daughter however did not want to marry the Prince, whom she felt was an uncouth savage, even if he was a Faerie Lord.

On the night before the wedding, there was a great feast. The daughter though, not being able to stand it any longer, broke hospitality and claimed she was already betrothed to another.  When it was discovered that the girl had done something no other fey in the kingdom could do. She had lied, but no one knew this or suspected it. 

The Prince, insulted waged war on the Kingdom. The war lasted for what felt like forever. Until a fateful day when the Prince was ready to kill the defeated King did his daughter admit her wrongdoing. 

The Prince, realizing his war was built on a falsehood, left the Kingdom and was never seen by it's inhabitants again, though he could be seen roaming the wilder places of the lands.  The princess, shamed, sat by her father's side. He forgave her and within a few nights had died from his wounds.  The girl, being the only one of royal blood, became the Queen.  She has been ajust, if unloved Queen, but her subjects still refer to her as The Queen of Lies.  Her lands are now known as the Kingdom of Rain.

Queen of Lies
Faerie Lady
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: -1 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+28** (91 hp)
Attacks: Sword or by spell
Damage: 1d8+4 or by spell
Special: Witch spells (13th level), damaged by magic weapons
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 14
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: NA
XP: 3,250
The Queen of Lies rules the lands known as the Kingdom of Rain. Named so for rain that always seems to be falling or threatening to fall at any moment.   She called the Queen of Lie because it was a lie that put her on the throne when her father died. 

The Queen is a beautiful, but sad and lonely Faerie ruler. She is a fair and just ruler and her people thrive, despite the weather, but they openly dislike her. She has gained the enmity of the Prince of Beasts, lord of the neighboring kingdom, an enmity that has earned her the attention of both the Erlking and the King of Goblins. While she has no interest in either suitor she knows she must choose one faithfully or the curse of rain her kingdom is under will not be lifted.

The Queen possesses her father's great Sword of Light, which provides her protection as well as magical fighting prowess. However, she prefers to use her magic when needed.  The Queen turned to sorcery and witchcraft to be able to lift her Kingdom's curse. She has not but can cast spells as a 13th level Faerie Witch.

Despite her name, the Queen never lies. She is half-human and can lie, but now she chooses not to.

Prince of Beasts
Faerie Lord
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 11d8+33** (83 hp)
Attacks: Fists or by animal type
Damage: 1d8+4 x2 or by animal type
Special: Beast form, damaged only by magic weapons, summon beasts
Size: Large
Save: Monster 11
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: NA
XP: 3,500

The Prince of Beasts is an odd fey lord in he does not like the company of other faerie lords and ladies, or faeries of any status. Instead, he prefers to spend his time in the wild running with the animals and communing with them.  

The Prince appears as a huge elf lord, standing 8' tall. He is broad and muscular. He is often mistaken for a large human or even a smaller hill giant. He wears simple animal skins though nothing can hide his regal bearing. 

Like all faerie lords he has a personal weapon, a sword, he can use. But the Prince prefers to fight with his bare hands or by transforming into any natural animal.  He can shape-shift into an animal and back 3/per day in the daylight hours.  At night he chooses a shape and sticks with it till the dawn.

He can summon any animal as per the Druid spells, Animal Summoning, they will obey his calls till the death.

The Prince of Beasts is on good terms with the various Animal Lords, but doesn't belong to their numbers. He ignores most of the Faerie Lords when he can.  He has a special enmity with theQueen of Lies, though he would rather avoid her at all costs.  He is also the enemy of the Erlking.  The Goblin King fancies himself as a rival, but the Prince does not take the Goblin King seriously.


NIGHT SHIFT Content

In NIGHT SHIFT the Lords of the Faerie continue into the modern-day.  The Queen of Lies is a real estate developer living in Seatle.  She has plans for the wild areas surrounding the Pacific Northwest.  The Prince of Beasts is a Wildlife conservationist.  Their battles are less about sword and claw and more about permits and lawsuits.  Both though are still powerful in their respective realms.

Monday, October 12, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

I was looking for a change of pace tonight and this one showed up as recommended.  Sure. Why not.

This one turned out to be rather fun to be honest.  Not great, but not bad either.  Kristen Stewart was actually pretty good in it. It was pretty much like every other deep-sea monster movie; man ventures to places where he is not supposed to go, sea monsters attack. 

This one had both "humanoid" sea creatures and a great big mother-like, kaiju creature.  It would not be a stretch to think of her as Mother Hydra from the Dagon myths.  Or even Cthulhu.
There are Cthulhu symbols drawn on the various maps, so there is that.
The director has even said the creature is supposed to be Cthulhu himself, but I think Dagon or Hydra works better.

This only reminds me I need to do a Lovecraft Filmfest one month.

Don't go to this movie looking for great insights or deep plotting.  But if you like sea monsters then this is a fun romp.

It does have T.J. Miller (Deadpool) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) in it as well. So those are pluses.

Watched: 22
New: 14


NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content:  A few notes.

A giant underwater creature is a little harder to pull off in a Night Shift or Old-School game.  But I am still thinking about my cross-generational game.  Maybe there is a London 1968 chapter, an Earth or Mars 2087 chapter (or even Enceladus which could be a vast Ocean), in any case, what is found here in 2087 on an under-water drilling base is a human, or near human, skeleton.  Then this leads to the mission in the 23rd century.  All horror.

So many good ideas really.

Monstrous Monday: Monsters of the Basque

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos” - Francisco Goya

The sleep of reason produces monsters. Or in my case right now the lack of sleep produces monsters.


Yesterday I watched The Baztán Trilogy and it featured, or least talked about, three monsters from the Basque region of Spain. 

While I have seen variations of these creatures from other myths and regions, this was the first time I had seen them under these names. So let's give them a bit love.

Basajaun
Large Monstrous Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Neutral Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam
Damage: 1d6+3, 1d6+3
Special: Stay hidden 95%.
Size: Large
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 525

The Basajaun is a type of large wild man of the forests similar in many respects to the Sasquatch and Yeti.  It also has commonalities with the Wood Wose due to it's more benign and protective nature. They are tall (9') humanoids covered in course black and brown hair. 

The name Basajaun means "Lord of the Woods". The plural is basajaunak and the female of the species is a basander.  They are suspected of building megaliths with their immense strength and keep flocks of sheep.  They are a shy and reclusive species, speaking only their own language, although a few know the local languages.  They are averse to fighting but will protect their lands if necessary. 

They can avoid being spotted 95% of the time. Often they are just confused for a large bear.  They can be recognized though by the whistling they do to communicate with others of it's kind.


By Luistxo eta Marije
originally posted to Flickr as
Izenaduba-Olentzeroren etxea
CC BY-SA 2.0

Tartalo
Large Fiendish Humanoid
Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (32 hp)
Attacks: 2 fist slam or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+4, 1d6+4 or 1d10
Special: Magic required to hit, evil eye
Size: Large
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 6 (6)
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 660

The tartalo is another large creature found in the Basque region of Northern Spain. It appears as a cyclops or as a one-eyed ogre. It has a fiendish glint in it's one large eye.  Many scholars of the occult believe they are connected to demons, either by birth or by actions.

The tartalo lives alone in caves. They are 10' tall and only speak in simple grunts. They do seem to be intelligent, it is just speech is beyond them. Only males have ever been spotted leading scholars to conclude they seek out young maidens as their "wives."  

Anyone wandering into the cave of the tartalo runs the danger of becoming the monster's next meal.  They prefer the taste of young men and women, especially ones that have not been baptized (or dedicated to a god).  Their tactic is to use their "evil eye" to stun (treat as a Hold Person spell) their victims. They will kill and eat any young men and anyone over marriage age.  They will keep the young unmarried women to birth their monstrous sons.  These women when then also be killed and eaten.

The only treasure a tartalo has is a fine wrought golden ring.  The ring is a curse and anyone wearing it will be known to any other tartalo in the region and they will seek the wearer out to kill them. 


Inguma
Small Fiend (Demon)
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 12d8+12* (66 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws, nightmares
Damage: 1d4, 1d4 or 1d10
Special: Magic or +2 weapons required to hit, cause fear, nightmares, ability drain
Size: Small*
Save: Monster 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 1,900

Inguma is a demonic lord of sleep and dreams. He is believed to create incubi and can give his followers riches if they give him his preferred sacrifices, that of baby girls before two years of age.  He commands a small sect of Mara Witches.

Though small, he is a powerful demonic lord.  He can cast Fear and Nightmare three times per night. His physical attacks are weak, but he can gain entrance into the minds of sleepers, save vs. death to avoid. Once there he will invade the dreams and learn all the victim's secrets. Their sleep is disrupted so they can't heal normally nor will spellcaster regain their spells. By the third night of the invasion, the victim begins to lose Constitution points at the rate of 1 per night.  Only an exorcism (cleric) or cleanse (witch) spell will remove the influence of Inguma.  Often Inguma forces his victims into suicide long before they succumb to his draining effects. Each night the victim must make a save vs. death. A failed save means they will kill themselves.

Inguma rarely takes physical form. When he does magic is required to attack him. When he does manifest it is always as what the viewer fears the most.

It is believed that Inguma is the father, or at least the ancestor and patron, of the Tartalo and possibly the Imps of the Perverse. Some incubi revere him as their lord. 

Basque Mara witches see him as their lord and patron and will offer sacrifices to him. He rewards them with riches.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Baztán Trilogy

Spent the day watching all the movies of the Baztán Trilogy today. I had plans, but these movies sucked me in.  I debated whether or not they count as horror.  They are typical police murder dramas on the surface. But beyond that they feature child sacrifice, ancient witch cults, good vs evil, mind control, and at least three different mythological monsters that were all (mostly) new to me.  So yeah, I am going to call it horror.

The Invisible Guardian (2017)

This is the first of the trilogy.  The story takes place in Baztan, Navarre in the Basque region of Spain near France. It is a lovely, picturesque countryside and one is immediately reminded of such folk horror movies like "The Wicker Man."  Like The Wicker Man, this area is steeped in ancient superstitions and folklore and this plays into these stories. 

The story focuses on inspector Amaia Salazar.  She is the chief homicide inspector and is investigating the murder of a 13-year girl.  During the investigation, she has to return to home town and deal with her sisters.  Amaia left years ago to join the FBI and there is an obvious rift between her and her family.  This rift is investigated and how it relates to her case.  Soon more girls turn up murdered and the killer is dubbed "El Basajaún", named for a forest creature from the region. 

During the investigation, there is an obvious occult connection, but one that does not become obvious right away.

There are a lot of questions, even when the murderer is discovered.  One is, is Basajaún real?  We hear it's weird whistling in the forest in the mountains. Something pulls Inspector Salazar from her car wreck.  Something directs the detectives to the cave where tons of human bones are. And we catch a glimpse of something large and hairy in the distance. 

The Legacy of the Bones (2019)

It's a year or so later and Amaia Salazar has a new baby boy and is drawn back to Baztan where there is a string of unrelated suicides. Unrelated save they all ask for her before they kill themselves and they leave a word behind, usually scrawled in the victims on blood, Tartalo; another monster from the Basque region that may have had something to do with the local witchcraft covens.

We also learn more about Amaia's relationship with her institutionalized mother who tried to kill her on several occasions when she was a girl. Likely part of the reason she left the family to live in America for a while. 

The movie focuses on the bones found in the local cave and how there has been a long history of cult-like killings. 

Amaia also gets closer to a local judge while her American husband is pushed further away.   

The climax comes when Amaia's mother escapes a clinic run by the Opus Dei.  She kidnaps her grandson, thinking it is a granddaughter, to sacrifice "her."   Amaia stops her by pointing out it that it is a boy that ruins the sacrifice. 

Her mother manages to escape and everyone, save Amaia, thinks she drowns in the flood.

Offering to the Storm (2020)

The final chapter ties together all sorts of plot threads.  Amaia is having an affair with Judge Juez Markina.  More murdered baby girls are turning up and they all seem to lead back to a single house in the country.  A house where Amaia's mother used to frequent with other women.   Sound like a witch cult? Yeah. It does.  And the similarities don't end there.  The members of the cult will make a sacrifice and then become very rich. The ones that don't have their lives destroyed.  

We learn that the children, all baby girls, were sacrificed to a demon named Inguma.  A demon that causes nightmares and kills babies in their sleep.  Dismissed today as a way to explain crib death.

In the process, Amaia learns that she had a twin sister who must have been sacrificed as a baby. Her bones were discovered in the cave from the first movie.  There are all sorts of other spooky things going on that would be a spoiler to share, but suffice to say that the Basque Witch cult that everyone talks about in the past tense in this movie is very much a current thing. 

Amaia hunts down members of the cult and learns her mother was an active member and she was supposed to be a sacrifice herself.  Also, the girls killed in the first movie were girls who were supposed to have been killed as babies. 

The movies are good on their own, but like the Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) they are better as a series.  Also, like the Millennium series, it shows that the evilest monsters are humans.

Watched: 18
New: 12

I am starting my next movie now, so I will post something for Monstrous Monday tomorrow.






Sunday, September 20, 2020

Week of Shadow Begins Today

The Autumn Equinox draws near.  Today we have slightly more light during the 24 period than tomorrow.  On Tuesday this all changes and we begin that slow descent to the Dark.

This week I am going to be looking at and doing reviews on the Shadow Fey, Shadow Elves, and other creatures of shadow.  


Think of it as my prep for Halloween!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Apple Tree Man

It might still be August, but tomorrow is September and for my family, that means trips to the apple orchards. 

Apple Tree Man

Apple Tree Man © Andy Paciorek

Large Fae

Frequency: Very Rare (Unique per orchard)
Number Appearing: 0 (1)
Alignment: Neutral (Neutral Good)
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 3 [16] (should always sum to 19)
Hit Dice: 10d8+10* (55 hp)
Attacks: 2 limbs (bash)
Damage: 1d8+1, 1d8+1
Special: Double damage from fire and cold iron, immune to charm, hold and sleep spells. Awaken trees.
Size: Large 
Save: Monster 11
Morale: 11
Treasure Hoard Class: See Below
XP: 2,400

Similar to treants, the Apple Tree Man is an ancient fae that lives in orchards. They are often the oldest apple tree in the orchard. It is not completely clear if these creatures are fae that have become tree-like or a tree that has awakened.  It could even be that the spirit of the apple tree man is present in the oldest tree in the orchard and he passes from orchard to orchard making him effectively immortal and unique.

The Apple Tree Man will not attack unless provoked or if his orchard is in peril. 

The Epimēlides (q.v), dryads of apple trees, are considered to be his daughters and granddaughters.  He can summon 2 to 8 (2d4) Epimēlides to aid him in protecting the orchards.  Additionally, he can "awaken" 1-4 (1d4) normal apple trees to fight as 6HD Treants to fight.

If a party though respects the orchard, does not harm any trees, and only eats the apples they need, the Apple Tree Man will be obliged to show them the quickest path out of the orchard.   

If they offer him hard apple cider, especially cider made for Apple Wassailing, then the Apple Tree Man will tell the party where they can find buried gold in the orchard. Usually 1d6x100 gp worth.

If a witch is present then the Apple Tree Man will hide their tracks and make the party undetectable by foes.  A witch may also be gifted a special apple wand that will cast one 1st level spell just once. The wand can be used later for other magics if desired. 

The Apple Tree Man will appear as a treant with apples growing from his hair, an old man or some combination of the two.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Gladyolus

One of the big influences I have had for my Monstrous Mondays and my new monster book has been my mom.

No kidding.

My mom loves sci-fi and horror. When I started playing D&D back in the 80s she took one of my D&D books, I think it was the AD&D DMG, and she proclaimed "this is just mythology and math!"  But she loved all the monsters and she had always loved telling all us kids stories about them.

Here is one of them!

She told us this story back when I was in sixth grade.  I know that it is not 100% original, but it still thrilled us as kids. Though in my mom's defense, she never read any Clark Ashton Smith.

Gladyolus
Monstrous Plant
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 2-20 (5-100)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 0' (0') [0"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1d8 (5 hp)
Attacks: 1 (blood drain)
Damage: 1d4+1
Special: Nag (see below), takes 2x damage from fire
Size: Small
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: 15

According to tales, the Gladyolus flower began not as a plant but as a woman named Gladys.  Gladys was not a happy woman.  She nagged her adult children, her friends, but most of all she nagged her husband.  One day she was complaining about something when her husband finally snapped and he killed her.  Seeing what he had done he decided to dig up his garden and bury Gladys in it.
The next spring the flowers he had planted grew, but all had Gladys' face and voice.
The nagging drove her husband to kill himself and the Gladyolus fed on the corpse.

The Gladoylus is a monstrous plant that feeds on the blood of warm-blooded creatures.  Humanoids are its favorite source of food.  The plant flower has the face of a woman.  When encountering humanoid creatures each flower begins to talk to berate the creatures.  On a failed save vs. Spells the creatures will wade into the plants to attempt to get them to be quiet.  Once in the midst of the plants they will all begin to attack, up to 1d10 plants per round, doing 1d4+1 per plant.

The plants can't move and take double damage from fire.

--

So I am solidifying my stat-block for this book.  I am going to opt for Advanced Labyrinth Lord compatibility.  This solves two really big issues.  First, it gives a solid XP matrix to work with.  Since LL is one of the most popular retro-clones on the market, this covers a lot of players.  Second, it also gives me a Treasure Type/Horde Class that is easier to use and I don't need to invent my own.

I am still going to add Type, Frequency, and Size.  But I don't think I am going use the size = different HD as I talked about last week.  Adding Type, Frequency, and Size. is easy and won't detract too much on people's games.  Changing HD type might be a bridge too far.  So my current plan is to provide them as an Appendix.  So this creature would be listed as: "Gladyolus, Small, 1d6 (4 hp)."

This is going to be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OMG: Central American Mythos

One Man's God: Central American Mythos

I return to One Man's God today with one of my favorite groups of Mythos, and the one that is the most problematic in terms of dealing with real-world history and myths.


Central American Mythos is a catch-all section that includes gods and monsters from a variety of societies and times.

Olmec: 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE, Mexico
Maya: 2000 BCE to 1697 CE, southeastern Mexico (Yucatan), all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
Mezcala: 700 BCE to 650 CE, Central Mexico.
Zapotec: 700 BCE to 1521 CE, Central/South Central Mexico.
Toltec:  900 CE to 1168 CE, Central Mexico. (and there is still debate on this)
Aztec: 1300 CE to 1521 CE, Central Mexico.

While these people and civilizations overlapped and had influences on each other, there are a number of distinct differences.


Another issue to deal with here is the nature of demons and the gods of these myths.  In a very real sense, these myths are the epitome of "One Man's God is Another Man's Demon."

Even according to scholars it is difficult to tell what is a demon and what is a god.  From the outsider's point of view, many of the Aztec and Mayan gods can be considered "Demonic" and were certainly called that by the Catholic Priests that would come to these lands from Spain (predominantly).

A good example are the Aztec Tzitzimitl, or demons (or gods) from the stars.  They were thought to have been the demons that attack the sun during a solar eclipse and also been the gods that protected to place where humans were created.

Tzitzimitl
Undead Demon
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-6
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12" Fly 24"
HIT DICE:  9+9 (50 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3 or 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6 (claw)/1-6 (claw)/2-12 (bite) or bone club (1-10) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1  or  better weapon to hit; double damage from sunlight
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (9')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Tzitzimitl are the demonic spirits of women who have died in child-birth or stillborn babies.  They appear as giant skeletal women wearing skirts decorated with the skulls and bones of their enemies. Around their necks, they wear the still-beating hearts of these enemies.  They are charged with protecting the lands where humans were created and thus they are invoked by a Curandero when a woman is giving birth.  They protect the mother and the child but demand that the ones that die be turned over to them.
They have been known to attack the sun during eclipses and this the time when they manifest in the Prime Plane. 
They attack with a claw-claw-bite routine or with a legbone from a defeated enemy.  On any successful hit with this leg bone, the victim must save vs. Paralysis or be blinded.
These creatures are semi-undead and can be turned by a cleric as Special.

One god in the book that works very well as a demon is Camazotz, the God of Bats.
His name means "Death Bat" and as I have pointed out before he could be a God, a demon or even a very, very powerful vampire.  In the Popol Vuh his description is very much demon-like.

Demon Lord, Camazotz
The Death Bat, Bat God, Sudden Bloodletter, Slaughter Lord 
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE:  12" Fly 24" (infinite at night)
HIT DICE:  24+24 (132 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Qx10
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-8 (claw)/1-8 (claw)/1-12 (bite) + Special, Blood Drain 3 Points of Con
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness, See in Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +2  or  better weapon to hit; see below
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  50%
INTELLIGENCE:  Genius
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (15')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Camazotz is the demon god of bats and vampires. But he is not truly a god or a demon or a vampire but something that is thousands of years old and akin to all three.  Vampires pay him homage more out of fear than actual piety. Humans on the other hand worship and hope that he will reward them with the gift of immortality (vampirism).  He requires blood sacrifices every new moon.  Camazotz himself goes through periods of extreme torpor and frenzied blood lust.

Camazotz dreams of one day destroying the god of the sun.

Camazotz attacks as a vampire with a claw/claw/bite routine of 1d8/1d18/1d12.  His bite (any natural roll of 18, 19 or 20) will drain 3 points of Constitution per round.  Anyone reduced to 0 becomes a vampire under his control.

He can see perfectly well in even the most complete of darkness, magical or mundane. He can also cause darkness as per the spell to 100’.  In darkness his AC is reduced to -4 and +4 or better weapons are needed to strike him.

He lives in a dark cave-like plane know as Xibalba on the Abyss where he serves as a vassal to Orcus. Again this is not out of fidelity but out of fear of the Demon Prince of Undead.  The cave is dark and the floors are stained with blood.  In this cave, Camazotz can summon up to 1000 bats to do his will.

Camazozt appears as a giant bat whose mouth is filled with bloody fangs.  He can also appear as an old man or a young warrior with bat wings.

He also makes a great demon lord to the Nabassu demons from Monster Manual II.

Tlazōlteōtl
This goddess is listed as the Goddess of Vice in the book.  She is also a "sin-eater" or someone that takes on the sins of others.   Among other things she is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery, Childbirth and the Goddess of Sweeping and Brooms.

Sounds like a perfect witch goddess to me!

What is Missing?

As to be expected with several lands, cultures, and 3,000 years of history, a few things are missing from the pages of the Deities and Demigods.

For example Dwarves. Dwarves in earlier Olmec culture and then in later Aztec culture are considered to be "touched by the gods" or the offspring of "witches."

Werejaguars are also an important creature with many warriors having the ability to become jaguars in battle.

Werejaguars
FREQUENCY:  Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-4
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12"
HIT DICE:  6+12 (39 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  50%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-4 (claw)/1-4 (claw)/1-6 (bite) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Lycanthropic curse, see below
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  Obsidian or +1  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  0%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Neutral Evil
SIZE:  M  (6')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Werejaguars are often found in tropical cities and ancient jungle ruins, but will appear in more temperate climates as well. These lycanthropes can assume the form of a jaguar, a human, or a bipedal, jaguar-like hybrid of the two forms.
Lycanthropy: If a victim is reduced to half total HP will become a werejaguar on next new moon.
Werejaguars can only be hit by obsidian weapons or by magic.

But the biggest miss, in my opinion, is the God Seven Macaw.

Vucub Caquix, or Seven Macaw, as a trickster demi-god and thus has the best chances of interacting with the characters.  Like many tricksters, he is chaotic, and also in this case evil.  He is associated with the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque.  He tricks them into thinking he is the God of the Sun, Moon, and Corn.  They respond by killing him and becoming the gods of the Sun and Moon themselves while their father also becomes the new Corn God.  But like all good tricksters, he comes back.

I don't fault the authors and editors of the D&DG for missing certain aspects of these myths or getting them "wrong."  While researching this I was reading that new translations going on in the 1980s and into the 1990s changed how we now view these stories.  And again, with 3,000 years of myths told and retold across seven or more civilizations there would be more to put in than the book could allow.

There is a lot more I could go about here, but one of my goals is to contain myself to the entries in the book and only add when needed.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Cù Sìth and Monster book Progress

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

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

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

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

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

Something that plays like this.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creature Type: Faerie Animal

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

Frequency: Very Rare

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

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

Fairly self-explanatory.

Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)

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

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

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

Armor Class: 7 [12]

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

Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)

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

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

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

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

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

Size: Large

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

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

Save: Monster 4

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

Morale: 12

I really enjoy Basic era style morale.

Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP:

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

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

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

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

Not at all the same is it.

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

How often do you all use the XP line?

So I have ways to go just yet.

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