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

Monday, April 26, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: V is for Vampire

Image by Rondell Melling from Pixabay
As of this writing, I have 292 monsters written and complete for the Basic Bestiary I.  I have about 10-12 more that are mostly done.  Of the total 355 entries I have, a full 43 of them are Vampires

Yeah. That's a lot.

I have said it before but long before I was known as "the Witch guy" I was known as "the Vampire guy." 

I have talked about my origins of the Basic Bestiary before. My love of Greek, Norse, and Celtic myth, old "monster movies" with my dad, and the day I picked up the AD&D Monster Manual for the first time.  BB is my love letter to the MM.  But it is not my first monster book, it is just the first one I am going to publish.  I have sitting on my hard drives monster books that go all the way back to my earliest days.  Some of these monsters have been revived in my various witch books.  Many have been posted here. Among the files I have here and there there is one that is really old. 

File "necro.txt" contains all the undead monsters I hand-typed from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II plus all the undead I could get from Dragon magazine and all the ones I made up.  There are over 150 creatures in that file.  Many of them are vampires.

Now the issue I have now is not whether to stat up all these creatures (I already have in some places) but how many to include as full monster entries and which ones are just AKAs.

So instead of posting a monster today (I did Vampires in the 2015 A to Z) I thought I might instead post the list of possible ones and see how I might combine, rearrange or otherwise categorize.

When I talked about the Undine on Saturday I mentioned large categories. Vampires will be a category in BB1.

Vampires

Vampires are among the most fearsome and feared of the undead.  Unlike most undead creatures the vampire can often pass for a living creature. Moreso they charming, both in terms of personality and in magical ability, they are physically strong (19+) and difficult to kill. Vampires exist for a long time so many are also quite intelligent (16+) and have mundane and supernatural protections in place.

As undead, the vampire has all the following features of a corporeal undead creature.  They do not need to check for morale and are immune to fear effects from spells or other creatures.  They are susceptible to the Turning effects of clerics or other holy warriors.  They are immune to the effects of  Charm, Sleep and Hold spells or other mind-affecting magic.

Vampires take 1d6+1 hit points of damage from Holy Water and it is treated as though it were acid. As corporeal undead slashing and piercing damage of weapons are largely ineffective since their damage is done to vital organs or blood loss. Vampires take no damage from mundane weapons.  Silvered piercing or slashing weapons only do 1 hp per hit. Magic weapons calculate damage per normal.  Vampires only take half damage from electrical or cold attacks. They are immune to paralysis, poison or any gas-based weapon. 

Most vampires drain blood to survive. This is done at the rate of 2 Constitution points per attack unless otherwise stated.  Vampires also regenerate 3 hp per round.

Many vampires have alternate shapes they can assume. Most common are animals of the night and gaseous forms. Others may become moonlight or stranger things. All vampires need to rest at some point.  Many are vulnerable to the light of the sun and all have at least some sunlight weakness.  VAmpires also have common items that will repel them, such as garlic, a mirror, or rice, and nearly all will be forced back by holy symbols. 

All vampires have a unique means to kill them these are detailed in each entry. Often this is what sets one type of vampire from the other.

Unless otherwise noted, all Vampires turn as Vampires.

Vampire (Base)
Vampire Lord
Vampire, Alp
Vampire, Anananngel
Vampire, Asanbosam
Vampire, Astral
Vampire, Aswang
Vampire, Berbalang
Vampire, Blautsauger
Vampire, Brukulaco
Vampire, Bruxsa
Vampire, Burcolakas
Vampire, Ch’ing-Shih
Vampire, Children of Twilight
Vampire, Dearg-Due
Vampire, Ekimmu
Vampire, Eretica and here
Vampire, Estrie
Vampire, Farkaskoldus
Vampire, Gierach
Vampire, Hsi-Hsue-Kue
Vampire, Jigarkhwar
Vampire, Kathakano (Catacano)
Vampire, Krvopijac
Vampire, Kyuuketsuki
Vampire, Lobishumen
Vampire, Moroi (Living Vampire)
Vampire, Mulo
Vampire, Neuntöter
Vampire, Nosferatu
Vampire, Ovegua
Vampire, Pĕnanggalan
Vampire, Rolang, Demonic
Vampire, Rolang, Personal

Vampire, Soucouyant
Vampire, Spawn
Vampire, Strigoi
Vampire, Tenatz
Vampire, Upierczi
Vampire, Vrykolakas (Burcolakas)
Vampire, Wurdalak (Vourdalak, Vlkodlak)
Vampire, Xiāng-shī
Vampire, Yara-ma-yha-who
Vampire, Zburător (Zemu, Zmeu)

--

And there you go! Clicking on the links above is like doing archeology into my ever-changing and adapting stat-block.

I did include some AKAs in the list above and those will likely just be a paragraph in the main entry of what makes them different.  AS I work the remaining monster up I am likely to discover more.

This list though makes me wonder if I need yet another Basic Bestiary just for the undead. I know I have enough.  But will it make my first book too light?

Here is where I am at right now.  Aberration (0), Beast (24), Celestial (9), Construct (12), Dragon (5), Elemental (7), Fey (73), Fiend (0), Giant (4), Humanoid (45), Monstrosity (8), Ooze (0), Plant (3), Undead (71), Vermin (0), Total (261).

Removing the 71 undead would make the book stand at 190 monsters right now.  I still have to add all those vampires, so 120+ undead creatures total?  Would make for smaller books, and thus cheaper ones. Fiends are already going into their own book, Basic Bestiary II.

What do you all think?

April 2021 A to Z


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: L is for Lilith

Lilith by Isra Llona
Lilith by Isra Llona
Last verse, same as the first.

This one should not be a surprise really. I have done Lilith many times before in my April A to Z. She was in my A to Z of Demons (2013),  A to Z of Witches (2014), and my A to Z of Vampires (2015).  So naturally, I want to bring her back for my A to Z of Monsters.

Lilith is fantastic. I am a sucker for any story she is in, and if she shows up on a TV show, even better.

In my A to Z of Demons (2013) I talked about how she is the mother of the Lilim Demons and what they all are.  In many, many ways she is not just the mother of demons, she is the mother of Basic Bestiary II: Demons & Devils.  It was because of the Lilim that I wanted my own demon monster book.

While the Lilim have appeared in other books of mine, namely Eldritch Witchery (with Lilith on the cover), The Warlock, and The Daughters of Darkness, I have been tinkering with them for much longer than that.  

In 2014 I talked about her relationship with witches and then expanded on that in Daughters of Darkness.  Here I listed her as "Chaotic Evil."  In Eldritch Witchery she is just "Evil" and in The Warlock she is "Chaotic."  This is all well and good, but it doesn't really fit with her does it?  Lilith certainly has a lot of chaotic attributes, but I see her more as Neutral Evil.  She may not have started out as Evil, but as they say, sometimes you play the hand dealt to you.  I am still going back and forth on NE or CE at the moment.

Lilith by John Collier
Lilith
aka Mother of Demons, Mother of Monsters, the First Woman, Queen of Night
Medium Fiend (Lilim)

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
 Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 19d8+76***** (162 hp)
THAC0: 7 (+12)
Attacks: special (see below)
Damage: See below
Special: See below
Save: Witch 19
Morale: 12 (-)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP: 7,750 (OSE) 8,000 (LL)

Lilith was the first human woman. She rebelled against the gods that created her and now controls armies of demons.  The gods won't work against her or strike her down because she knows all their True Names. This makes her the most dangerous creature in the universe. Long and ancient pacts between Lilith, demons, devils and the gods keep an uneasy balance of power.  If Lilith were to truly seek out the power just within her grasp, the gods themselves would know fear.

Lilith is also the mother of monsters.  She is the mother of demons, having spawned so many, but she is also the mother of vampires and many say, witches. She rejects these titles and her many offspring.  The only ones she is even remotely interested in are the Lilim, the so-called Daughters of Lilith. 

Queen Lilith never openly attacks.   She considers combat beneath Her and will not partake in it.  Her arena is intrigue, guile, and deception.  Why fight when a cup laced with poison or a dagger in the night is much quicker.  If forced into combat she can summon pretty much any demon she likes except for the Baalor and Baalroch demons.  If it comes down to it, Lilith can cast spells as 20th level Witch of the Demonic Tradition, though she has access to every witch spell known.

As the mother of all Lilim, she shares their powers and weaknesses.

Damage types: Acid (Full), Cold (Half), Electricity/Lightning (None),  Fire, magical (Half), Fire, non-magical (None), Gas, poisonous (None), Iron Weapon (Full),  Magic / Arcane Blast (Full), Poison (None), Silvered Weapon (Half).  

Powers (at will): Charm person or Charm monster, Darkvision, ESP, Hold Person, Immune to fear, Night Vision, Shapeshift (human, demonic, spirit), Suggestion, Telepathy, and Teleport.

Three times a day she can cast fireball, lightning bolt, and wall of fire. One a week she can grant a wish. She can see perfectly in darkness of any kind. Lilith can summon 1d4+4 lilitu demons with a 100% chance. 

She always appears as a young, very attractive woman.  Most often with long flaming red hair.  It is claimed her true form is that of an ancient hag with long, but sparse wild black hair, talons, fangs, and the wings and the feet of a predatory bird.  Either or neither could be her true form. She can shapeshift to any form she likes at will. Her telepathy allows her to assume a form the viewer most desires.

Lilith has no true friends because most fear her.  She is known to ally herself with the Goddess Ereshkigal since both have similar portfolios and areas of concern.  Some even claim that Lilith spent some time as Ereshkigal's handmaiden.  Others claim she served Astártē or Ishtar. She was once the chief consort of Hell, but even the Baalseraph fear her.

--

OK! My first major demon.  REALLY gets me into the mood to work more on the demon book.  But I still have the BB1 to finish first.  Plus doing this entry makes me realize how much more groundwork needs to be done on the demons and the regular monsters still. 

Her AKA line includes her titles, whether she likes them or not.

In the Hit Dice line she has 5 stars, which means she has five special abilities that contribute to her combat power and thus raise her XP value.  I am not sure if she is 5 or not.  Once I get done with all my monsters I will survey them and edit them appropriately. 

There are details here, such as her Lilim powers, that will be offloaded from her entry and put into the Lilim entry proper.  I just needed it here for now.

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: K is for Kelpie

Another "revised" monster today.  This one though is a revision of a monster that appeared back in the AD&D Fiend Folio from 1981.   Now I loved the Fiend Folio. While the Monster Manual was the first D&D book I ever looked at, the Fiend Folio was the first hardcover monster book I ever bought.  I would use it with my Basic and Expert Sets (Moldvay/Cook) and that would be my game.

One creature though I more or less ignored until I began reading Celtic myths was the Kelpie.

Now in the Fiend Folio, the monster Kelpie is a plant-like creature that is only superficially related to the Scottish Kelpie.  In fact, the creature in the FF has more to do with kelp (as in seaweed) than a kelpie.  So I figure I would update the creature a bit.

The Kelpie by Thomas Millie Dow, 1895
Kelpie
aka Water Horse
Medium Fey (Aquatic, Monstrous)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
   Swim: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6* (33 hp)
THAC0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: grab
Damage: NA
Special: Charm, Shapeshift, Water breathing
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX (D) 
XP: 650 (OSE) 680 (LL)

The kelpie, also known as a water horse, is a shape-shifting creature of the fey that lures men to their watery lairs to their deaths.  The kelpie can appear as a beautiful woman, a handsome lad, a magnificent horse, or in its true form, a skinless, blood and slime-coated monster that combines the features of both humanoid and horse.   They live in dark and dangerous rivers and fast-moving streams.

The kelpie can only attack with its charming song which attacks like a powerful Charm Person spell. The kelpie will charm the person to approach her, in either her nymph or horse form. Once she gets her victim into the water she wraps herself around them with her strong limbs and drags them to the bottom of her lair where they drown. Victims are allowed a save vs. Spells at a -2 due to the power of the kelpie's song.  Once in the "arms" of the kelpie, the victim will need to make a simple Strength check (roll a d20 to roll under their strength score). They may attempt this in the first round they are underwater. They may recheck each round at a cumulative +2 penalty (added to their roll) each round hereafter. So +2 in round two, +4 in round three.  Once the penalty is greater than the victim's strength they drown.  

A kelpie in humanoid or horse form can move about the land but are recognizable by a few signs. In humanoid form, their hair always seems wet and they will wear a silver chain around their neck. In equine form, their hooves will appear to be backward from that of normal horses. They must return to their watery lair each new moon.  While in their humanoid or equine shape they may be "turned" by a cleric.  This turning treats them as a 6 HD creature, but they are not undead.  On a successful turning check, the Kelpie will revert back to their normal form and must get to her watery lair. All charm effects she has cast at that point end.

The Kelpie appears to be related to the nøkk of colder more northern waters.  They share a certain number of similarities, but the nøkk is not evil. 

Each-uisge. This creature is related to the kelpie and is if anything more monstrous and evil. Where the kelpie lives in rivers and streams, the each-uisge lives in lakes (lochs).  While it is unknown what the kelpie does with the humans she kills, the each-uisge has been known to eat its prey.

--

Updates.  

In the description line, the kelpie gets both an Aquatic and a Monstrous descriptor.

Since the Kelpie has better than average strength (14 in this case) I updated my THAC0 calculations to support Strength bonuses. This will not change most of my monsters since most have average strength.  But it will change others and give monsters in this book an edge over their counterparts in other books.   Of course, the Kelpie doesn't cause HP damage so her strength is not a factor in that.   

This is also one of the first "Variations" I have posted that don't require a full second set of stats, like the Faun and Greater Faun from last Wednesday.  The each-uisge is essentially the same creature, stats-wise, just from a different location and temperament.

Contrast this with the nøkk which is a similar creature but of a completely different temperament and nature.  While I could have used the same stats (and they are similar) they are different enough to make them a completely separate entry.  This means I should do a Nuckelavee too.


April 2021 A to Z


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: F is for Faun

My interest in RPGs and D&D, in particular, came from my love of Greek myths.  I was already a fan of Greek myths when I first picked up a copy of the AD&D Monster Manual all the way back in 1979.   So I could not in good conscious even think about bringing a new monster book to life if it did not somehow honor both my love for those old myths and that original book.   So to that end, here is the Faun, a creature from Greek/Roman myths and related to the satyr of those myths and the Monster Manual.

Faun by Pál Szinyei Merse

Faun
Medium Fey

   Faun  Greater Faun
Frequency:   Very Rare  Very Rare
Number Appearing:   1d4 (1d8)  1d2 (1d6)
Alignment:   Neutral (Chaotic Good)   Neutral (Chaotic Neutral)
Movement:   120' (40') [12"]  180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class:   6 [13]  4 [15]
Hit Dice:   1d8+1* (6 hp)
 4d8+4* (22 hp)
THAC0:   18 (+1)  15 (+4)
Attacks:   1 weapon, song  1 weapon, song
Damage:   1d6  1d6+1
Special:   Song, fey qualities   Song, fey qualities
Save:   Elf 1  Elf 4
Morale:   8 (8)  8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class:   XVI (G)  XVI (G)
XP:   15 (OSE), 15 (LL)   200 (OSE), 215 (LL)

Fauns are fae people of the forest who love to entertain guests and go on dangerous quests. They can be rash and temperamental, and sometimes are reckless with the powers of their music. They are friendlier to men than most faeries, though are quickly angered by the destruction of woodland.  Fauns, like satyrs, are the male counterparts to nymphs and dryads.  When not playing music or drinking they are usually found chasing after nymphs.  The offspring of a faun and nymph is a satyr if male and a nymph if female.  As a creature of the fey, the faun is vulnerable to iron. They take double damage from any weapon made from cold iron.  Additionally, they are immune to the effects of charm, sleep or hold spells unless they are cast by another fey creature of greater level/HD.

Fauns are the wilder cousins of the satyr.  Like satyrs, they are rarely surprised (1 on a 1d8).  Fauns all play musical instruments like pan pipes, flutes, or drums.  If a faun plays everyone that hears must make a save vs. Spells or be affected by an Irresistible Dance spell. If the faun is with a mixed group of satyrs then their song of charm, fear, or sleep can also be in effect, with separate saves.  

A faun will engage in combat to protect their lands, their fellow fauns, and nymphs or their herds of goats.  Typically a faun is very much the stereotype of a lover and not a fighter.  They can be bribed with wine, the stronger the better.  

A faun appears to be much like a satyr.  They are medium-sized with human-like broad hairy chests and muscular arms.  Their lower half is that of a goat.  Their faces are a combination of elf and goat with elongated faces, goat-like years and horns, and a beard. 

Greater Faun:  Greater Fauns are the larger and wilder varieties of fauns and satyrs.  They are stronger and tougher than normal fauns and will act as leaders.   Greater Fauns will claim descent from some god, typically Pan or some other primal nature diety. 

Each greater faun has a True Name. Anyone that knows the True Name of a greater faun has power over him as per the spell Suggestion

Some greater fauns are shamans and can also cast spells as a 2nd level druid.

--

So a tabled monster block today with two varieties.  These are proper fae creatures so they have the vulnerability to iron. 

Doing this table has pointed out some deficiencies in my approach though.
For starters, my Treasure Type/Horde Class needs some work.  While XVI (G) makes sense to anyone that plays Labyrinth Lord and/or OSE, it is fairly inelegant. One, XVI or G would suffice.  I guess I could just put the treasure types in the back of the book and work it out that way. 

Secondly, and this is related to the same larger issue, my XP values are also a bit of an eyesore.  Yes I am happy with the numbers I am getting.  But while OSE and LL are covered this does nothing for the GM using say Swords &Wizardry or AD&D.  I could just leave it blank, but XP listings are one of the really great things about later books and editions of the game.

Likely there will be a table in the back of the book with all the monsters listed with their XP values for various systems.  That makes the most sense.  But likely I will leave at least one there. 


April 2021 A to Z


Monday, March 29, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Monster Collections

So no monster today.  I am getting ready for my big April A to Z of Monsters later this week. 

I was on vacation last week and getting these "new" AD&D 2nd Edition setting books made me think a bit about what I might do with them.  But since monsters are also on my mind I decided it was high time to pull out my old Monstrous Compendiums for AD&D 2nd Ed, and finally get them organized.

AD&D Monstrous Compendiums

I don't recall exactly when, but I misplaced, lost, or sold my original Monstrous Compendiums.  I kinda regret it really, I got them on the days they were released.  I loved the idea of them.  A monster per page full of information.  Even some bits on the ecology of each.  I had ideas of cutting out the various "Ecology of" articles from Dragon and putting them in each one for a full encyclopedic entry of every monster.

While the idea sounds great, in practice the Monstrous Compendiums were a bit of a hassle.  They were large and unwieldy and yes the pages kept getting torn.  The big thing for me was the fact I could note "really" put the monsters in true alphabetical order since they were printed back to back.  I know, gamer problems.

So I pulled everything I had, everything I have managed to round up at actions, used book stores and even a few others, and got both folders finally put together.

Forgotten Realms

Dragonlance

Outer Planes

Ravenloft

In addition to the first two sets (all in the first binder) I got the sets for the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, the Outer Planes, and my beloved Ravenloft all in the second binder.

I just need to replace my Greyhawk and Mystara ones now. 

I know I have some more in boxes somewhere, so I'll get those added as well.  Since I am not longer a transient college student with all my D&D books in a couple of milk crates they can live nicely on my bookshelves. Here they would likely to get more use and less wear and tear.

Binders of monsters

They live nicely next to my Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure Compendium,  Next to them is something I am working on printing out; the contents of the Swords & Wizardry versions of Monstrosities and Tome of Horrors Complete.  It is going to be about 1200 or more pages of monsters.  This time I am not printing them back to back, but a true one page per monster.  Yeah, that means a lot more paper, but also a lot more ease of use and lots of room for me to include notes. IT will also be hard on my printer.

While there is a core of about 400-500 monsters that are shared across all editions of D&D and clones, there are something like 6,000+ monsters that have been stated up in official products.  Once upon a time, I would have wanted all of them.  Today I am a bit more reasonable.  

OR at least that is what I tell myself.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Drude

Today is an interesting monster from German folklore.  The Drude is a type of malevolent nocturnal spirit.  Depending on who is doing the classification it could be a spirit, an elf, a kobold, a demon, a hag, or even a witch.  Like many creatures of folklore, they do not conform to the notions of RPG creatures.

The question is what sort of thing a Drude (pl. Druden) is.   Even when one considers it a kobold, there is a lot of debate about what THAT is as well.  

But I think I have an interesting idea.


Drude
Small Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d2 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8* (14 hp)
   Small: 3d6* (11 hp)
Attacks: dagger or witch spell
Damage: 1d4-1
Special: daylight sensitivity, infravision, witch magic. 
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 50 (OSE) 65 (LL)

Kobolds can be found in the underground caverns of nearly any climate or environment.  Their ability to adapt and even thrive in areas where other creatures would perish is one of their greatest strengths is a world that only recognizes strength.

When a kobold group moves into an area near a hag the hag's corrupting influence will cause a Drude to be born among the Kobolds.  A drude, plural druden, is a type of kobold but is usually smarter and has the ability to use magic.  Often called "kobold witches" these creatures will seek out the hag, or hags, that caused them to spawn in an attempt to serve them.  The hag will often teach the kobold their magic instead of killing and eating them.  No one is exactly sure why this happens, save that it might grant the hags a bit of attention and even veneration they crave.

A drude can cast spells as a 3rd level witch and may advance to as high as the 7th level.  They are treated as if they are either part of the Faerie or Malefic Traditions. A drude typically favors spells that create fire or cause fire damage.  A drude will typically take a hag as their patron, usually the hag that is local to them.  The hag teaches the drude witchcraft and magic and in return, the kobold tribe serves the hag or hags.

In combat, the drude, despite their eldritch powers, are still weak in a battle.  They will avoid combat when they can and would rather strike an opponent from a distance.  A drude among a group of kobolds will raise their overall morale by 2 since the combination of both magic and normal kobold strike tactics mesh well. 

Druden are vulnerable to sunlight. They attack at -2 in any form of bright sunlight or at -1 for reduced sunlight or a Continual Light spell.  They have infravision to 90'.

The offspring of a drude and a kobold will be a drude.

--

Klash-Nak is a kobold witch of the 4th level. Her patron is an Annis hag she calls "Mother Nightmare." 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #101

Dragon Magazine 101
It has been far too long since I did This Old Dragon.  I'll grab the next one of the pile and see what we have.  Looks like we are headed back to September 1985 for This Old Dragon #101.

This one is another with no cover.  That is interesting because I will admit it is among one of my least favorite covers.  I am not sure why really, it is Dave Martin and did the (in)famous Dragon #114 cover, but I never cared for this one.

One of the good things about taking so long to this is these now seem to smell less moldy and mildewy. That's a plus.

Kim Mohan's Editorial repeats a sentiment I have shared here; Aren't We All In This Together? Essentially they refused to run an ad that disparaged another companies product. I have often felt the same.  Other gamers, games, game designers are not my competition, they are my colleagues. Like Mohan maybe I am naïve. 

Some ads for Call of Cthulhu and ElfQuest.  The ElfQuest, one covers Sea Elves.  I have been re-reading Dragonlance, Dragons of Spring Dawning that introduced the Sea Elves. Been wanting to do more with them myself.  Maybe I should check on eBay for this.

The first article, Update from the Chief, comes to us from Gary Gygax himself.  This might be the last article written by Gary as a member of TSR.  He will be out in October of 1985.  The article covers many topics.  Unearthed Arcana sold over 90k copies in its first month and his Gord book did well.  Gary announces two upcoming publications, Oriental Adventures and T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil for AD&D and more "family-type" games including All My Children. Gary also briefly discusses the critics of D&D and RPGs in general. 

In a fortuitous (turn for me) Roger E. Moore's article on Kender in All About the Kender is up. I just posted stats for what I think is the very first Kender character I have ever made. Lots of people hate Kender. I will admit I never liked them much, but hate was too strong.  My dislike comes more from my enjoyment of halflings.  Moore's article, rereading it all these years later AND while also rereading the first Dragonlance Chronicle my opinion has softened.  Now I think I find Kender in the light they were always intended. What I disliked about them then is what endears them to me now.  I have to admit that some of what I did with gnomes in the 3e days were likely based on 1st ed Kenders.  I am perfectly happy to keep them on Krynn in my own games, but here they get to be as Kendery as they can.   Since I am going to be running DL15 Mists of Krynn, this is a great article to reread.

Plan it by The Numbers is up from Frank Mentzer.  This is a system he had planned on using in the D&D Master Set. It is similar in many respects to the Monstermark system from White Dwarf or the Challenge Rating systems from D&D 3-5.  The system was not used because it was "too heavily mathematic" but it seems rather simple to be honest.  Almost too simple. In any case I think I will give it a try for my Basic-era War of the Witch Queens game. 

Paul Suttie is next with For King and Country. I have say, I find nothing more tedious and dull than discussions about alignment. For something that is only one aspect of the game I find the multitudes of discussions on it largely pointless.  For example, this article covers five pages.  Why?  Do we really need that?  In then he just wants to dump the whole thing.  

The article is at least broken up by a cool black ad for the D&D Master Set.  Makes it look like a limited edition sort of deal. There is also an ad for Unearthed Aracana.

D&D Master SetAD&D Unearthed Arcana

The Role of Books covers the then-new offerings from SF/Fantasy.   I will admit I don't know most of these, but 1985 was around my turning point of leaving science fiction and fantasy reading and moving more into dark fantasy and horror.  Of the titles, I do recognize the novelization of "Ladyhawke" by Joan D. Vinge.  I enjoyed her "Snow Queen" and "Cat" series quite a bit as well as her novelization of "Return to Oz." 

Peter Johnson is next with Charging isn't Cheap on how to recharge magic items.  The nice feature of this article are the examples of how various wondrous magic items are/were created.  This is a nice change from the very formula-driven approach seen in 3e.  Other than the level restrictions on who can create or enchant these items, this could easily be added to any version of the D&D game. The levels might need to be altered is all. 

Jeff Grub, of Marvel Super Heroes fame, sets out to review a game that could be considered a conflict of interest; but he is very clear about where he is coming from on it. So instead of a conflict or a competitor, he comes off as "Expert."  This is good because the game he is reviewing is the DC Heroes RPG.  It's a good review and Jeff obviously loves the game as it is and loves it as a competition to his own MSH game. 

We get to the centerpiece, literally and figuratively, of this issue.  The Creature Catalog III.  I loved new monsters in Dragon Magazine, and the Creature Catalogs were among my favorite features.  This one has 24 new monsters for your AD&D game and includes submissions from the likes of Ed Greenwood, Roger E. Moore, and Stephen Inniss. With art from Marsha Kauth, Dave LaForce, and Roger Raupp.   There are a few very interesting monsters here too.  The avari are cool-looking bat-like humanoids. The bogeyman is another take on the bogey, bogle, boggart of myth and legend.  The creeping pit is a magical mishap gone wrong. Another hamadryad and lhiannan shee.  The mantimera is a crossbreed of a manticore and chimera (not sure I want to know how that happens). And the yale from mythological lore.   

Consequently, Owen Kermit Edwards is now doing posts on the monsters of Dragon magazine.  His first one is up today on his blog Haughty Fantasy Adventures

TSR Comming Attractions lets us know that T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil is on the way, as well as Book 3 of the Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragons of Spring Dawning.  I have been rereading that and am just about done.

Fiction from Brenda Gate Speilman.

We get to the Ares section now.  

One day I need to back through all of the Ares and see what I can use for my BlackStar and Star Trek: Mercy games. 

Roger E. Moore (our MVP of this issue) has his article on Starships and Star Soldiers on the use of minis in science fiction games.  Timely for me since I just started getting into some 3D printing of some of the FASA Star Trek ships. 

Sorry, Wrong Dimension from Mike Manolakes covers dimensional or parallel universal travel in superhero games.  As a big fan of both the comic and TV event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and someone that uses different universes in my fantasy games as well.  The 6-dimension coordinate system he has here is EXACTLY something we would have used back then.  This uses a 2d6 for determining dimensions. I like that.  But the d12 is my go-to sci-fi die, so I used that instead. 

More from Jeff Grub on The Marvel-Phile. This time back to Asgard with Beta Ray Bill and Sif.  

Out of the Sun covers man machines for Gamma World from James Ward and Roger Raupp.  And Michael Brown gives us The Stellar Diocese of cleric for Traveller.   That is something I should adopt for BlackStar, but only cultists.

Convention Calendar covers the hottest conventions for Fall 1985 and Winter 1986. Some small ads, notably for a couple play by mail games and art for your D&D characters. Something that I still enjoy getting. 

Wormy gets two pages. I think I need to reread that one from the beginning. I know how it ends, but hitting these in piece-meal, out of order fashion, I forgot what the hell was happening. 

Dragonsmirth gives us TWO different picnic scenes. SnarfQuest gets three pages, mostly about the Gaggleleech. 

I remember this one when it first came out. There is a lot of great material here and the Creature Catalog will certainly see some new use in the future.

Dragon Magazines

Still plenty more to go!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Amphicyon, the Bear-Dog (Memory and the Mandela Effect)

I am sure by now many of my readers are familiar with the "Mandela Effect" or a large collective false memory effect OR example of how we, or some of us, switched over to a parallel universe.  It is named this because there are some people that "remember" that Nelson Mandela had died in a South African prison and did not later become the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa. 

There plenty of people that claim that the comic Sinbad was a genie in a movie called "Shazam" (and not the similar "Kazaam" from Shaq) or The Berenstein Bears was a book series and not The Berenstain Bears.

While it might be fun to explore the whole parallel universe or our world as a simulation narrative to all of this, that doesn't interest me as much as the truth; the collective false memories people have.  I did my Master's Thesis on Long-term memory activation, my first Doctoral Dissertation was on information processing cognition and memory.  I find memory to be a fascinating topic.  I don't want to claim to be an expert in this, but I am well informed and have done plenty of original, published scientific research on it.

So when I fall "victim" to the Mandela Effect myself, I pay attention.

At this point, you might be asking what does all of this have to do with Monstrous Monday? Well simply put, I have a creature in my memory that none of the rest of you have.

Let's go back a bit to 2002.  My oldest son was a baby, my youngest had not yet been born.  We would go to the library and pick up DVDs to watch.  One of my son's favorite was Ice Age. I have talked here before about how his love of prehistoric beasts, especially sea creatures, had been an influence on him getting into D&D.  Well this was before D&D and before his love of dragons.  I think I watched Ice Age a hundred times with him back then.  The disc we got also had a special "behind the scenes/making of" section that I would watch as well.  This section talked about all the characters that were in the movie; Manny, Sid, Diego, Scrat, and one other.  This other character was an Amphicyon or a bear-dog. They showed how the character was designed and even rough cuts of the character and a draft of the poster featuring this other character.  I remember telling my wife about it one day after we had returned the DVD to the library.

Fast forward a couple of years and we get the DVD, but no behind the scenes feature on it.  Hmm.  No problem I think, I'll just grab it from the library again.  Well, this stretches into a long period of time and I never grabbed it until a few years back.  I liked the creature and used it in a couple of games. I rewatched the DVD behind the scenes and...nothing.  No Amphicyon, no bear-dog, nothing at all.  I searched online. Nothing.  I asked my wife. She didn't remember it.  I have a very distinct memory of this short and this character.

But it never happened.

I know that over the years I have constructed and reconstructed the memory.  Memory is not a hard drive where things are stored unaltered.  We encode our memories with our surroundings; like how a smell or a song will trigger a memory, or in the case of my research in the 90s, how a word can affect which memories are retrieved.  For me, I know how my memories were altered.  At this time (2001 to 2005) I was suffering a fairly major bout of deep depression.  I have studied the effects of depression on memory.  I know what can happen.  Yet here I am, 2020, searching on the Internet for a character I *know* did not exist, but somehow I am still not 100% convinced I am wrong. (I am wrong, I know this logically)

BUT that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with this.

Amphicyon

Amphicyon-ingens reconstruction
aka Bear-Dog
Large Beast (Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Swim: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8 (44 hp); 
  Alternate (Large) 8d10+8 (52 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d10+1
Special: Swimming, Omnivore
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 8
Treasure Hoard Class:
None
XP: 650 (B/X, OSE), 640 (LL)

The Amphicyon, or bear-dog, is a large prehistoric mammal that is the forerunner of all modern canines and bears. It was active some 16.9 million years ago and died out 2.6 million years ago.  

The creature appears as a large bear, 8 to 9 ft. in length and weighing 1,300 to 1,400 pounds.  Its muzzle is more wolf-like than bear-like as are it's teeth and jaw.  

Unlike wolves and modern canines, the amphicyon is more of a solitary creature. Groups greater than one and up to four are family units consisting of a mother and her cubs. Also like bears, the amphicyon is a carnivore but can survive on an omnivorous diet.  Amphicyons are good if slow, swimmers and will make a diet of fish when they can.

Generally, the amphicyon will avoid contact with humanoids, but it can attack with a claw, claw, bite routine. 

Lycanthrope, Were-Amphicyonidae
Medium Humanoid (Shapeshifter, Prehistoric)
Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment:
Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 9d8*+18 (59 hp)
Attacks: claw/claw, bite, or by weapon
Damage: 1d4+2 x2, 1d8+2
Special: Shapechange, harmed by silver
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 9
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class:
C (XX)
XP: 1,600 (B/X, OSE), 1,700 (LL)

Amphicyonidae Lycanthropes are similar to werebears and werewolves, likely the forerunner to both types of creatures. Like all lycanthropes, the were-amphicyonidae can shift between an animal form (an amphicyon), a human, and a hybrid creature. These lycanthropes though are found exclusively among prehistoric humans like cavemen and Neanderthals, and almost exclusively in colder climates.

Were-Amphicyonidae are affected by the phases of the full moon as are werebears and werewolves.  Like werebears they retain some human intelligence, though a primitive intelligence focused on survival.

The first were-amphicyonidae, and indeed, among the first lycanthropes ever, were shamans that had mastered the abilities of shape-shifting long before there were druids, clerics, or even witches. They passed their gift on to others and now all that remains of the great shamans of old are these creatures.

In combat, the were-amphicyonidae fight with a claw, claw bite routine. They cannot "hug" as a werebear can.   They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons.  Their bite can transmit the lycanthropy curse but only Neanderthals will become were-amphicyonidae. Normal humans will become werebears (lawful and neutral) or werewolves (chaotic) depending on their alignment. 

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.