Showing posts with label undead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label undead. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: D&D Undead

Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead (3.5)
Wow. It is the last Monday of October and it is Halloween.  If you think I have been saving something special for today then you would be correct.  Today I want to talk about the Undead!

Ghosts. Vampires. The Undead. These are the monsters that got me into D&D from the start. Yes it was fun to see all the monsters of mythology here, but I didn't want to be Perseus or Heracles, I wanted to be Van Helsing (I ended up as Dr. Seward, and that is fine). 

So it is to the undead that my monster-hunting eye has always turned. This has been true for every edition of D&D I have played. Second Edition AD&D had Ravenloft and The Complete Book of Necromancers. Third and Fourth Editions have had today's subjects.

Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead (3.5)

PDF and Hardcover. 192 pages. Full-color cover and interior art. For this review, I am considering both the PDF from DriveThruRPG and my hard-cover book.

Libris Mortis was the undead book for 3.5. Undead were covered in the Book of Vile Darkness for 3.0 and here they get more attention and more details.

Introduction

Tells us all about this book and the basics of the Undead and undeath.

Chapter 1: All About Undead

Gets into the detail of the undead including how they manifest; largely along the traditional Corporeal/Incorpeal lines. Undead physiology and details like metabolism and feeding are covered. There is a useful table of various undead monsters and whether or not they feed, what they feed on, and whether it is needed or just desired. This also covers their senses which can be very different than the living stock they came from. All Undead have Darkvision 60' for example, but their sense of touch is limited. 

Also, undead psychology is covered. Namely, how does one deal with being nearly immortal and never changing? There is a bit on undead religion including some gods (in 3.x format) of the Undead. Some of these we have seen before or have seen mentions of. Doresain the King of Ghouls, Nerull the Reaper, and our good friend Orcus are all mentioned here. 

Though one of my favorite sections is the Fighting Undead section which covers weaknesses and tactics that can be used in fighting the undead.  Much like Professor Hieronymus Grost informs us in Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, all undead (not just vampires) have a means to their destruction.  This section should make the undead scarier than other monsters. Orcs and Dragons die the same way. You reduce their HP enough with weapons and they will die.  Not always so with Undead.

Chapter 2: Character Options

This is a 3.5 book so there are going to be character options. These start with the feats. They are split between undead-friendly feats and undead-hunting feats.

Building off of the Savage Species there are rules for Undead Characters. This includes level adjustments for undead characters. Not every group will want undead characters, but these rules do help. There are even some Monster Classes. Of course, the best use of these is to make unique undead NPCs to threaten characters with. 

Chapter 3: Prestige Classes

3.x was all about the prestige classes. And there are several here that I found a lot of fun. There are Death's Chosen (high level lieutenants for the undead),  Dirge Singer (a fun bard idea), Master of Radiance (one my Paladin went into), Master of Shrouds (their evil counterpart), Pale Master (Prestige Divine Necromancer), Sacred Purifier (another good undead fighting class), True Necromancer (Prestige Arcane AND Divine Necromancer).  The True Necromancer advances in both Divine and Arcane spellcasting classes and gets special powers. It is also an odd Prestige Class in that it has 14 levels. Obviously to give the maximum effect of taking three levels in a divine class (need Knowledge Religion 8 ranks, cast summon undead II) and three levels in an arcane class (need Knowledge Arcan 8 ranks, cast command undead). I also can't help but think this is an obvious nod to the Death Master.

There are also Undead Prestige Classes such as Lurking Terror, Master Vampire, and the Tomb Warden.

At this point, I could run a 3.5 campaign and battle only undead and never run out of combinations and permutations of monster, class, feat, and prestige class combinations. 

Chapter 4: Spells

Covers spells for Assassins, Blackguards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, and Sorcerer/Wizards. There are many here that are new. I'd have to go line by line to see how many came from the Complete Book of Necromancers. 

Chapter 5: Equipment

A shorter chapter that covers new equipment. There are alchemical substances, toxins, poisons as well as undead grafts and magic items. 

Chapter 6: New Monsters

Nearly 50 new monsters here and only a few seem to come from previous versions of D&D. The Brain in a Jar stands out as a previous one, but the rest are new. 

I never get tired of new monsters, especially undead ones. 

Chapter 7: Campaigns

This covers the last quarter or so of the book. It covers how to use undead in various roles including using them in encounters. There is also a great section on variant undead. I believe that all undead should be unique in some fashion, often relating to how they lived or died (see "A Christmas Carol"). Only a few examples are given, but they can be extended to all sorts of undead. 

There are various cults here that can be used anywhere and in any version of D&D. There are also adventure sites and seeds which can also be dropped anywhere but require some minor conversion for other versions of the game. 

This is one of those books I keep coming back to for more ideas. Yes I have been using the undead in my own games for more than 40 years now, but there is something else to do, something else to learn, and more to the point, more monsters to fight. 

Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead (4e)
Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead (4e)

PDF and Hardcover. 224 pages. Full-color cover and interior art. For this review, I am considering both the PDF from DriveThruRPG and my hard-cover book.

This book has a solid pedigree. First off one of the authors of this, Bruce R. Cordell, was also one of the authors of Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead.  He was also one of main designers of the epic HPE series of Orcus-focused adventures for 4e. This means to me at least that if you are running the HPE series and using undead (and of course you are) then this book is a must-buy.  There are more details in this book that make it a great book on D&D Undead, but I will get to those in due time.

Chapter 1: Undead Lore

This book starts much like it's 3.5 Edition counterpart. This chapter covers the hows, whats, and whys of undead. There are sections on physiology, outlook, and psychology, as well as society.  These sections are very similar to the 3.5 edition, which makes sense, with the addition of edition specific details.  

For my point of view, the two books (Open Grave and Libris Mortis) both compliment and complete each other. Together they are not the final words on Undead, but they cover quite a lot. 

The section that is newest here is the one on Shadowfell (and thus why it is a great resource for the HPE adventures). 

There are few undead monster stat blocks featured here as well. 

Chapter 2: DM's Guide to Undead

This covers DM's rules. In particular there are skill challenges, how to handle hauntings, and building undead into campaigns. This section in particular is good advice to any DM of any edition wanting to use undead in their games. 

There are also some artifacts detailed here including the Mask and Sword of Kas, the Soul Sword, the Von Zarovich family sword, and more. Like 3.5 there are even some undead grafts. 

New rituals are also detailed. Something I felt D&D 4e never had enough of.  

Chapter 3: Undead Lairs

Location-based encounters were a big deal in 4e. This covers ones with an undead flavor to them for Heroic, Paragon, and Epic level tiers. Three of each are featured with character levels from 1st to 26th. As with all 4e encounter listings, there are plenty of quasi-unique monsters here. Sometimes they are new, and often they are just an edit on an existing creature.  

Chapter 4: New Monsters

Ah, here is what we want! There are more than just undead here, there are the "unliving" as well; monsters that have cheated death but are not undead themselves. There are 122 statblocks of monsters here. These included variations on the Ghoul, Lich, Mummy, Skeleton, Vampire, and Zombie. There are new creatures including undead constructs and oozes. Our old friend the Brain in the Jar from Ravenloft is also back. So many of these are at least familiar to me and some are new.

Undead Hall of Infamy

This flows from the Chapter 4 material and is nominally part of Chapter 4, it is its own section. Here we get some stats for some of the biggest undead names in D&D history. They include Acererak, Ctenmiir the Cursed (from White Plume Mountain), Kas the Betrayer, Kyuss, Osterneth the Bronze Lich (a new NPC but has the relic, the Heart of Vecna), Strahd von Zarovich, and Vecna himself.

Templates

Also part of Chapter 4 these are templates for undead creatures.

Alternative Powers

Undead should be unique, so these are alternate power for various undead that replaces one or more of the powers they have listed. 

The utility of this book to the 4e DM can not be overstated. Especially if you are running the HPE adventures or dealing with any undead.

Undead

For me, these books complement each other well. They cover the same basics but go into different sorts of details even outside of their system-related materials. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Complete Book of Necromancers

DMGR7 The Complete Book of Necromancers (2e)
Yesterday I reviewed the Wizard's Complete Class book and last week I covered the Death Master in Dragon Magazine #76, I thought this would be a good one for today.

In AD&D 1 the example of the Illusionist gave birth to the specialty wizards of AD&D 2nd Ed.  One of those specialty wizards was the Necromancer. Though, unlike the Illusionist, the Transmuter, or even the Evoker, the Necromancer got its own book.  

The Complete Book of Necromancers was one of those books that everyone seemed to want.  I remember picking it up back when it was first published. I paid $15 for it.  Later the cover price jumped to $18 and soon it became very rare. No idea why.  The aftermarket price jumped considerably and I ended up selling mine on eBay back in 2000 for $81. Not a bad deal really. I ended up re-buying again recently at Half-Price Books for $9.

DMGR7 The Complete Book of Necromancers

PDF and softcover book. 128 pages. Black & white interior art. For this review, I am considering my softcover edition and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Let's be honest, few classes have had the spotlight quite like Necromancers have had. There have been many attempts before and since. But when comes down to it, the 2nd Ed Complete Book of Necromancers is the gold standard that all other books on Necromancy are compared to. This book is packed. Even the font size is smaller than the other Class books for AD&D 2nd Ed. 

Introduction

Our introduction informs us that this is a book for DMs to make memorable foes. Indeed throughout the book refers to the Necromancers as NPCs.  Even warnings are given about Necromancer PCs of higher than the 9th level. 

Chapter 1: Necromancers

Details "The Standard Necromancer" or even "The Masters of the Dark Art" with minimum ability scores and the rolling methods to gain them (with a table on page 10). Additionally, only humans can be necromancers. Role-playing wise I can see this. Elves would not be concerned with the spirits of the dead and if they wanted to speak to them then they have the books they wrote. Dwarves and Halflings are very much about the here and now. Mechanically though there is no reason to assume they can be, save that this is AD&D.

We get an extended Necromancer (Wizard) XP advancement table to level 30. There are also details about weapon and non-weapon proficiencies. New non-weapon proficiencies are also given.

There are also new Kits for the Necromancer. They are the Archetypal Necromancer, Anatomist, Deathslayer (killer of the undead), Philosopher, and Undead Master. Additionally, two kits from the Complete Book of Wizards and the Complete Sha'ir's Handbook are brought over for use here. They are the Witch and the Ghul Lord.

Chapter 2: Dark Gifts

Covers the powers of Necromancy. This starts with a discussion on Dual Classes characters (remember Human only) each combination is discussed such as Fighter/Necromancer, Thief/Necromancer, Cleric/Necromancer, and the Psionicist/Necromancer.  

Vile Pacts and Dark Gifts cover the powers Necromancers are likely to pick up as they gain the notice of dark powers. 

Despite all the recommendations above, up next is a section on Humanoid Necromancers like Drow and Githyanki. 

Chapter 3: The Price

Details the down-side of dealing with necromancy.  While the social stigma stuff might be a blessing to many necromancers, things like deformities and body afflictions are less welcome. 

Chapter 4: The Dark Art

This deals with the magic and the spells of Necromancy. A great section for any sort of AD&D 2nd ed DM really.  It discusses "Black" or "Criminal" Necromancy, "Gray" or Neutral Necromancy, and "Benign" or "White" Necromancy.

There are 25 new spells from levels 1 to 9 here. Many I note still live on in new editions. 

Chapter 5: Death Priests

Can't let wizards have all the fun. Besides, Necromancy is not just a school of arcane magic but a sphere of divine magic as well. Death Priests (Clerics) get the same treatment as did the Wizards above. Including an advancement table to level 30.  Here different gods/faiths are discussed that might be a home to a Death Priest. The obvious are the God of the Dead. But also the Goddess of Murder, God of Pestilence, God of Suffering, and the Lord of the Undead.

Chapter 6: The Priest Sphere

Cover the necromancy priest sphere and spells. Here we get 18 new priest spells of levels 1 to 7.

Chapter 7: Allies

Covers everything from Apprentices, Henchmen, Familiars (including Undead ones), and Undead minions. Undead minions get the most detail with various sorts of undead discussed. 

There is a great section on Secret Societies. I used this one quite a lot when I developed my Circle of Six Necromancer group.  A group of bad guys that I STILL use today (though only three are still active). 

Chapter 8: Tools of the Trade

Covers potions, poisons, various magical items (including some new), and necromantic lore. 

Chapter 9: The Campaign

Looking back I realize there is a lot in this chapter I *STILL* use. The first is Sahu the Island of the Necromancer Kings. Granted an Ilse of Necromancers is not 100% original and I could have easily got it from Clark Ashton Smith, but this one comes together nicely for AD&D 2nd and still works for me today. 

There are some adventure hooks connected to Sahu and some more connected to the various NPCS found at the end of this section.  That's is the other thing I still use. The NPCs here were quite memorable to me. 

Appendix 1: Common Spells for Necromancers: Lists of spells and their sources by Offensive and Defensive capability.

Appendix 2 and Appendix 3 Necromancy spells for Wizards (2) and Clerics (3).

Appendix 4 Index of Necromantic spells: Alphabetical listing.

There is so much here that would later find homes in the 3e Book of Vile Darkness and the 4e Heroes of Shadow.  And much that is still very useful today.  

I will come back to this one when I decide to work through more of my Isles of Avalon.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Monday, December 20, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: The Confessor

This creature began with a picture posted to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Facebook group, and I thought it might be fun to stat up.  The original posters asked, "in game terms, what is this?"

Here is what I posted in response. 

It is a "Confessor." It appears in areas of profound sadness. It feeds on the professed guilt of those who sit next to it. You have to confess your worst guilt to it. If you do, it leaves. If you don't or lie to it then it attacks as a specter.

It seemed to go over well, so here are some full stats.

What struck me about it was the white "robes" it is wearing, the bench seems to have room for someone else to sit next to it, and it is out in the daylight.

This is an undead creature, but a special one.

CONFESSOR
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  0" (special)
HIT DICE:  10+10 (55 hp)
% IN  LAIR:  100%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS:  1
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1d10 + Energy Drain
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Compell, Energy Drain
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1 or better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil (Chaotic Neutral)
SIZE:  M  (6' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

The confessor is a special undead appearing in places of great sorrow.  They are found sitting alone waiting for someone to sit down next to them.  Humanoids are compelled to do so unless they make a saving throw vs. spells.   If a victim fails the save they sit down next to the confessor. This is all the magic does, what the victim does next is up to them.  If they make the save the confessor still will beckon any living humanoid to come to sit next to it. 

Once someone sits next to the confessor it will then ask them to confess their deepest guilt. The character then has to confess their worst guilt to it. If they do and are honest, it leaves. If they don't or lie to it then it attacks as a 10 HD undead creature.  Its touch does 1d10 hp of damage and drains one energy level as per a specter.  They can and do move about in the daylight and are not harmed by it.  

They can be turned by a cleric as a Lich.  Unless the confessor hears a confession they will return on on the next sunset.  Anyone killed by a confessor will remain as a spirit helplessly haunting the area around the confessor; wordlessly screaming out their warnings to others. 

--

Have to admit, I thought of this.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

These are the Soul Cages

I know I am running behind on this one.  Super busy at work and the last few posts here have been ones I have been sitting on for just this time.  But I am going to pause on today's scheduled post to do this one instead.  Plus the Internet is down in the Chicagoland area as of this writing, so I might as well do this.

Back on Halloween, the news came out that Pathfinder Drops Phylactery From In-Game Terminology. Instead of using "phylactery", It is a Greek word to describe the Hebrew word "Tefillin" which Jewish people will keep small scrolls of the Torah.  They have decided to go with the term "Soul Cage."

Maybe not these Soul Cages exactly.

As you can imagine the RPG folks on the internet freaked out.  Especially it seemed to me people that at the same time claimed they don't or no longer play Pathfinder, let alone Pathfinder Second Edition, the game, and the only game, this effects.

Personally, I find it confusing that so many roleplayers out there have so little imagination.

Nor do I even see what the trouble is.  So a company, Paizo, drops a term they are uncomfortable with.  THEY feel it is disrespectful.  At no point have I heard they changed due to a complaint. They did it as a creative choice.  Are some gamers now suggesting that a company can't change the terms they use to better suit their products/games?

No. This is fake outrage from the same lot that gets mad any time anyone decides to deviate from the holy writ of Gygax. 

Personally. I have been using Soul Cages for years. I was even talking about it with liches and succubi over a decade ago and as recently as this past year. I am likely to keep using them too. 

Don't like the term? Fine. Don't use it.  Want to keep phylactery? Fine, keep it. It likely isn't going to change in the game you are playing now anyway. But honestly, unless you are playing Pathfinder Second Edition, why do you even care?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Draug (2018)

Draug (2018)
This one was interesting. I was looking for a movie about one of my favorite topics, the last stand of Paganism against the rising tide of Christianity.  I was looking for something with witches, or even vampires.  If it was Swedish or Norwegian even better.  I was rather pleased to find this one.  It is in Swedish, so that is another language that I can add to my list this month.

Draug (2018)

In the 11th century, a missionary goes missing in the forests and Hakon (Ralf Beck) and his fosterling Nanna (Elna Karlsson) who is on her first mission.  They travel with the local Lord and Sherif Kettil (Thomas Hedengran), who feels a little like a Viking Lord of old.   We are told that there is something "old and evil" in the forests.

Kettil would like to torture all the villagers he encounters to get them to tell them where the missionaries are, later revealed to be a bishop, but Hakon, formerly "Hakon the Terrible" convinces him they don't have to. 

They travel through the dark Ödmården forest in Hälsingland on Sweden's east coast when they are attacked by bandits. The normal, human, kind, but it is still a horrific battle.  

While torturing one of the captives Nanna thinks she sees a body that later moves.  She then notices carrion birds that lead them to the dead bishop.

During the night Odd, one of the party that was wounded, is woken up by what looks like a dead body.  It attacks him and Deja, Kettil's slave and healer, sees it and screams. 

The Draugr attack in the night and kill most of the group leaving only Kettil, Nanna, Gunder, and Kol. They try to leave by a boat they find, but Kettil attacks Nanna thinking she is the witch that summoned the draugr.  Nanna has figured out how to stop the draugr and wants to try before they leave.  She enters some sort of trance where she is confronted by a witch (Lina Hedlund), who may or may not be her real mother. 

Nanna stays in the trance till dark. Gunder tries to wake her, and get everyone onto the boat. But he is killed by a draugr.  The boat capsizes leaving only Kettil and Nanna.  He kills Nanna, but only to late does he discover she isn't controlling the draugr and they kill him. 

In the post-credits scene we see Kol survive the boat wreck and he swims to shore.

Not a bad flick with some good scares, but the plotting could have been a little tighter.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 53
First Time Views: 40

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Alchemical Zombie

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

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

Zombie
Zombie, Alchemical

Medium Undead* 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

Monday, June 7, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: The Bagman

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft has been a lot of fun.  One of the most talked-about monsters featured in it, the Bagman, doesn't have stats. Now before you freak out about this, it is by design.  

In Chapter 5 the section Creating Unique Nightmares covers how one could make a Bagman. 

For example, perhaps you’ve got an idea for a troll that ambushes adventurers while they rest. Considering its origins and appearance, the troll literally being a troll isn’t important to you; you’re more interested in that general challenge and look for the creature. To make your troll feel notorious, you think of what would scare adventurers—where they’re vulnerable and what they’re sensitive about. You come up with an idea for a creature that can come from anywhere, maybe even within the adventurers’ own gear. With tactics and traits in mind, you think of your troll as an abductor and give it the Grappler trait of a mimic and the Amorphous trait of a black pudding so it can sneak in anywhere. Finally, you don’t think of the troll as a minion, but you give it the Alien Mind trait to reect its tormented psyche. Then you esh out its story and give it a name: the Bagman.

- Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, p. 225

The Bagman is described as an "Urban Legend," it is what happens when someone crawls into a bag of holding out of fear and dies inside.  Troll + Mimic + Black Pudding = scary monster that you can scale to meet the needs of your party.   Sounds great.  But MY Bagman would be a little different.  Sure Troll is a great place to start, but I want something a little scarier.

bagman
"I was an adventurer once just like yoooooou!"
Bagman

Large Undead (Corporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8** (44 hp)
 Large: 8d10+8** (52 hp)
THAC0: 8 (+11)
Attacks: 2 claws, fear aura
Damage: 1d8+3 x2
Special: Amorphous, fear aura, grab, magic required to hit, undead
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,750 (OSE) 1,840 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 13 (+1) Int: 7 (-1) Wis: 7 (-1) Cha: 6 (-1)

The bagman is an undead creature found hiding inside Bags of Holding.   Legend has it that the first bagman was an adventurer who in a fit of panic crawled inside a bag of holding to hide.  His fellow party members were all killed and the bag was tied up and stuffed into a troll's treasure hoard.  The adventurer died inside that bag and the extra-dimensional properties keep their spirit from moving on.  It also twisted their body into an elongated shape.  Their hair and nails have grown long and their bodies are thin and emaciated from dying of starvation.

The bagman is only encountered in their lair; a bag of holding.  Once the bag is picked up and carried away by an unsuspecting victim the bagman will wait until the bag is motionless again and then it will attack.  They emanate an aura of fear like the spell cause fear.  While the fear is creeping over the potential victims the bagman crawls out of their bag of holding. They will surprise on a 1-3 on a d6.  They move silently and stealthy as an 8th level thief with Dex 16. The bagman never speaks.  They attack with their long claws. 

On a successful critical hit (natural 20), it grabs the victim and pulls it into the Bag of Holding it was using as its lair.  Inside it will attempt to strangle the victim.  The bagman feeds on the dying energies of the victim.  

It is believed that to destroy a bagman one also must destroy the bag of holding they are attached to.

As undead monsters, they are immune to mind-affecting spells.  Magic spells or weapons are needed to hit it. They turn as Spectres.  Any "T" result will send them back inside their bag of holding.

--

I like it. A creepy-ass monster / urban legend.  Something old Grognards tell young adventurers before they head out on their first campaign.  "Watch out for those bags of holding!  The bagman will get yeah when you sleep!"  They laugh and drink their ales, and quietly, and hope no one notices, the slight tremble in their voice or the shake of their hand as they remember a time when the bagman came for them.

The best part about this?  Everyone should create their own bagman stats.  Some are slimy monsters. Others are extra-dimensional aberrations that enter our world via a bag of holding.  Others are stranger still.  Every campaign out there has a different bagman with different powers, attacks, weaknesses.

It might be interesting to see what others do!  

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: W is for Wight, Barrow

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

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

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

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

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

Wight, Barrow
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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


April 2021 A to Z

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


Thursday, April 22, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: S is for Skeleton, Electric

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

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

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

Man fighting skelleton
Skeleton, Electric

Medium Undead (Corporeal)

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

April 2021 A to Z

Thursday, April 1, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: A is for Allip

“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”  Francisco Goya, 1799
“El sueño de la razon produce monstruos”
The sleep of reason produces monsters.
Francisco Goya, 1799

It is April and that means it is time for the AtoZ Challenge for 2021. I didn't do this for a few years, but this year I wanted to give it a go again to see how it has changed, see what is new, and mostly to motivate me to get all my monsters done!

My monster book idea grew from my love of monster books in general.  I have spoken about my love for the original Monster Manual here a few times. I have talked about other monster books too.  For me it was monsters that were my gateway to D&D. I still love them.

This year is the A to Z of Monsters. I am working on completing a couple of different monster books. One focused on monsters of fairy tales, myths, and legends and in particular monsters related to witchcraft. The other is a massive tome of demons and fiends of all sorts.  The first book will feature all sorts of creatures, right now there are a large number of undead monsters.  Makes sense when you consider that I spend a lot of time writing and playing horror games.   

Some creatures have appeared in my witch books.  Some are completely new.  Many have come from challenges like this and my Monstrous Mondays posts.  Some are even like today's beastie.  A d20 conversion of a 3.5 monster to OSR-like stats.

As I have been discussing here I am working on my "universal stat-block."  Today though I am going to start with the one I have been using in my Monstrous Mondays and tweak it from here.

Allip
Medium Undead (Incorporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
  Fly: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+2** (20 hp)
Attacks: Special
Damage: NA See below
Special: Suprise, touch deals 1 point of Wisdom drain, only hit by silver or magical weapons.
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 275 (OSE) 290 (LL)

Allips are shadowy, incorporeal undead that mutter and speak with the voice of madness from beyond the grave. The voice acts as a Suggestion spell upon anyone hearing the quiet mutterings: the suggestions of an allip are usually senseless but sinister.

An allip is usually only seen out of the corners of the eye.  Thus they can surprise on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. Elves are surprised only on a roll of 1-3.  Once it attacks it is visible to all. 

The allip’s touch does not deal damage but causes the victim to lose 1 point of wisdom. If a victim’s wisdom falls to 0, it dies and will become a shadow within 2d6 days. Allips can only be hit with magical or silver weapons.

It is believed that allips are caused by people who have died in a state of profound despair.  Now they seek revenge on the living for their current state. They are always found where they died.  They are turned as a 4 HD undead.

--

So here is a start! 

You can find all the other participating blogs and their social media links on this Google Sheet.

I also have a growing Twitter List here of everyone participating on Twitter.

**Please Note. I have 'Comment Moderation' turn on. I have been getting hit with a ton of spam.**

April 2021 A to Z


Monday, December 7, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Dybbuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)

I am a sucker for a weird Klaus Kinski movie. The trouble with this one was that he really wasn't in it much nor very central to the plot.

We watch the disjointed (and told in weird flashback) events of the life and death and life of Greta.  She is dead and mourned by her brother Franz.  We later learn that Franz used to abuse and rape Greta till she ran off with a mysterious Dr. von Ravensbrück.  Then we jump to a scene where Greta is in a coach accident. Her driver is killed and she is rescued by a young married couple, Walter and Eva.  Greta has no memory and is soon living with, and having sex with, Walter and Eva.

Klaus Kinski comes in as their doctor and he sees an amulet on Eva's neck that perplexes him.  He goes off to run experiments on corpses.  Meanwhile, Gertrude is bothered by Greta and keeps seeing Greta's rapey brother in hallucinations.

Gertrude eventually flees the house but is shot in the face by someone she knows but we never see.

Later Eva finally gets jealous of the sex Walter is having with Greta (she wants her to herself) and seals Greta up in a vault The Cask of Amontillado style.   Of and around this time Kinski's Dr. Sturges has revealed that Greta's amulet is a formula for bringing the dead back to life.  He succeeds but is killed by someone soon after.
A few weeks later the search for Greta is winding down and Eva and Walter throw a party.  At the party, Eva sees Greta and chases her throughout the house.  Greta's face is young one moment and a corpse-like visage the next.   Greta kills Eva, but no one sees her do it. 

Greta goes on to kill Walter, Walter's father who was...wait for it...Dr. von Ravensbrück!  We learn then that Greta was pregnant with Dr. von Ravensbrück's child but she died in childbirth. The whole thing was witnessed by Gertrude!
Rapey Franz then brought her back to life, but she kills him.  She also kills the butler of the von Ravensbrück's just because she can.

We see Greta in the end. I guess she must be immortal now.

Not a bad flick, but very disjointed.  Ewa Aulin as Greta is great to look at, but she isn't much of an actress. Granted my copy is dubbed, so it is harder to tell. Klaus Kinski is his typical weird-ass self.

Watched: 8
New: 8

NIGHT SHIFT Content

Woman with amnesia is found, either by the characters or people they know.  Turns out she is a reanimated corpse intent on killing everyone that was responsible for her death. 
What separates this from say the plot of "The Crow"?  Well, in this case, she is killing everyone even remotely associated with her death whether they had an active role or not.  So less "The Crow" and more "Dr. Phibes."




Monday, October 5, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Zombie Witch

Welcome to the FIRST Monstrous Monday of October 2020.

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


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

Well if I didn't I do now.


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

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

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

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

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

Zombie witches are turned as wights or 4HD undead.

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

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

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

Monday, September 7, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Galley Beggar

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

Galley Beggar

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sand Ghoul

We are on vacation this week.  Were supposed to drive down to see my wife's sister, but instead we are holed up here.  So I am starting my mini-campaign of "The Deserts of Desolation & Death" today.

Going through my books last night I figured I needed something new.  Everyone has seen all the old monsters.  Plus I wanted to up the feeling of necromantic dread.  So this guy popped into my head.

Besides. I like undead beasties.

So here it is for 5e D&D (what I am playing today).

Sand Ghoul
The Ghoul by Les Edwards
Sand Ghouls are formed when naturally occurring mummies in the desert are possessed with demonic or necromantic power.  They are stronger and faster than normal ghouls.  The drying process also robs them of their stench.
Elves are immune to the Paralyzing touch of the Sand Ghoul.  Desert Orcs living in a combined Desert Elven / Desert Orc community are also immune.

Medium undead (Desert), chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 31 (7d8)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 14 (+2)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 10 (+0)
INT 10 (+0)
WIS 9 (-1)
CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Str +4, Dex +5
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +1, Survival +3
Damage Vulnerabilities fire, radiant
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the sand ghoul to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the sand ghoul drops to 1 hit point instead.

Keen Sight and Smell. The sand ghoul has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell.

Actions
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage. If the target is a creature other than an elf or undead, it must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Stat block Generator: https://tetra-cube.com/dnd/dnd-statblock.html



Monday, January 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Bánánach for OSE

Bánánach
Working on all sorts of things, mostly getting my bits of Night Shift done and a TON of day job stuff.

I wanted to get The Pagan Witch out to you all soon, and I still might, it is done, minus some little bits. Here is something in the mean time.

Bánánach
Semi-transparent spectres of witches that haunt battlefields or other areas of great violence.
AC 3 [16], HD 5** (18hp), Att 1 × touch (1d6 +ability drain), THAC0 15 [+4], MV 120’ (40’) / 240’ (80’) flying, SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (5), ML 12, AL Chaotic, XP 175, NA 1d4 (1d6), TT None

▶ Undead: Make no noise, until they attack. Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep).
▶ Mundane weapon immunity: Only harmed by silver weapons or magic.
▶ Damage reduction: Half damage from silver weapons.
▶ Energy drain: A successfully hit target permanently loses one point of Wisdom. This incurs a loss of all other benefits due to the drained ability (e.g. spells, saving throws, etc.). A person drained of all Wisdom becomes a wraith in one day, under the control of the bánánach that killed him or her.

A bánánach is the specter of a witch.  They are attracted to areas of great death and suffering.  They can be seen flying about the areas of death.  They drain the willpower of those she attacks. 
They are often accompanied by 2-3 wraiths.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Schreckengeist

I was doing some research yesterday morning for a couple of different projects I can't wait to share with you all and I came across a couple of really fun things.  First, and I'll talk about her later, might be the first witch NPC I EVER created. The second is today's monster.

I was going through my copy of B1 In Search of the Unknown and found a monster I had forgotten.  The  Schreckengeist, or "fear ghost" is a low-level ghost I used to fill a couple of needs.  I wanted a ghost-like creature to send against low-level aka Basic parties and I wanted an undead creature that "turned" the living.

Here is the Schreckengeist for my two current favorite Basic clones.


Schreckengeist
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 3
HD: 3d8
Move: 30
Attacks: 1 special, scream of fear.
Alignment: CE
Treasure: None
XP: 175

Schreckengeist
(Old-School Essentials)
The ghost of a former adventurer. Its face is distorted in fear and rage.
AC 3 [17], HD 3 (13hp), Att 1, scream of fear, THAC0 20 [0], MV 60’ (20’), SV D13 W13 P14 B15 S17, ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 175, NA 1 (1d4), TT none
 Scream causes fear as per the spell.
Infravision: 60’.
Undead: Not effected by sleep, charm or hold spells.  Silvered weapons to hit. Turned as a Ghoul.

The Schreckengeist is the ghost of an adventurer who died mid-adventure and was never raised or their body returned home.   The rumor is that a schreckengeist can only happen to adventurers who die on their first adventure, but they can happen to any adventurer who dies before they reach 4th level.  Not all adventurers who die though become schreckengeists.  The circumstances have to be just right.  The victim needs to have died in fear and/or great pain and their body never recovered. 

Now they are cursed to roam the dungeons they sought to explore.

The schreckengeist is incorporeal and can not be struck by normal weapons, only silvered ones.  Likewise, it can not attack with physical attacks, although in it's rage it will try too.  It's only attack is a scream of fear.  Characters of 3rd level or below must Save vs. Petrification or flee in terror as per the Fear spell.  Normal Humans and creatures below 1 level/HD get no save, characters above 4th level/HD are immune.

Schreckengeist are turned as ghouls.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Monstrous Monday: The Shattered Knights

I got a 3D printer for Christmas, but there is something seriously wrong with it.  I have not figured it out yet and might be calling their customer support today.  But until then here are some of the test paladins I have printed and what I am planning to do with them.


The Shattered Knights*

Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 9**
Move: 120' (40')
   Phasing: 240' (80')
Attacks: 2 weapon or special
Damage: 1d10 / 1d10  or Wisdom Drain

No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Save As: Fighter 9
Morale: 11 (12)
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Chaotic

The Shattered Knights are fearsome undead of unknown origin.  Legends say that they had been a group of virtuous knights who had been sent to apprehend an evil wizard.  But, as legend tells it, the wizard's lair was a trap and the king who sent them knew they would die.  The wizard's tower was destroyed in a huge magical explosion just as the knights learned of their betrayal.
Now they are undead creatures caught between life and death forever.

They are semi-intangible and can only be hit by magic weapons.  Like all undead, the knights are immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells.  They can attack with the weapons they had in life and also a powerful touch attack that drains 1 point of Wisdom per touch (no save).  This must be done with their hand, not a weapon and it is the only attack they can make that round.

The knights are never fully in or out of normal reality so they may opt to make a phase movement instead of an attack.  They move at twice their normal speed and can move through solid objects. When in phase they cannot attack or be attacked by physical means.

The Knights are Turned by Cleric as if they were Spectres.  The knights are always accompanied by 1d4 wights.

If four or more knights are encountered then one will be the Knight Commander.



Knight Commander*

Armor Class: 1
Hit Dice: 10**
Move: 120' (40')
   Phasing: 240' (80')
Attacks: 2 weapon or special
Damage: 1d10+1 / 1d10+!  or Wisdom Drain

No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Fighter 10
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Chaotic

The Knight Commander is the leader of the Shattered Knights.  He has all the same attacks and powers as his knights.  When he is present with a group of knights their Moral increases to 12.

The Knight Commander is Turned by Cleric as if he were a Vampire.

Characters slain by a Shattered Knight or the Knight Commander will become wights under their command.


Sadly I fear more shattered knights may join their ranks before I figure this out.