Three Monsters Mild

I’m kinda sorta working on a little book called Monsters Mild, which will include 12 to 15 monsters that are not so much intended as foes to fight as they are to be things characters might meet and maybe even befriend. They are intended to be fantasy color. The first one showed up on Google+ a little while ago, and has been illustrated by the ever-wondrous Joel Priddy (blessed be his pen). The others will get their own illustrations somewhere along the line …

Man-Wort

Medium Plant

Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 16
Attacks: Fist (1d6)
Move: 20’
Saves: F12 R14 W14
Intelligence: Average
No. Appearing: 1 usually, but 1d6 in the wilderness
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 300 (CL 4)

Resistance to weapons, immune to poison, ESP 1/day

These monsters look like roughly humanoid-shaped turnips, with bushy green stalks on their head and beady black eyes and thick fingers and toes on their hands and feet. They can summon up herbs of any kind in their hands, three times per day, including poisons, medicinal herbs and cooking ingredients. They are somewhat slow-witted, though not stupid, and often take a liking to children and the elderly. Many appear before the hovels of abandoned elders and become their servants and caretakers. Man-worts do not speak (they have no mouths). They need to root themselves in soil for at least one hour per day to survive, and need as much water as human beings. They will fight when people they love are threatened.

Granny Woman

Medium Fey

Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 11
Attacks: Rolling pin (2d6)
Move: 20’
Saves: F15 R13 W12
Intelligence: High
No. Appearing: 1
Alignment: Lawful (CG or NG)
XP: 100 (CL 2)

Magic resistance 25%

A granny woman is a fey creature that appears as a very old – an impossibly old – woman with large, knowing eyes and withered hands that hide a powerful grip. Granny women live in the woods, near enough to settlements to be helpful, but not so near as to be annoyed by all the nonsense and going’s on. They usually live with a familiar in the form of large, furry cat. These cats are ill-tempered to folks who deserve it, but quite charming (if not a little bossy) to the good-at-heart. Acceptance by a granny woman’s cat means acceptance by a granny woman.

Granny women can use the following spells as inborn abilities: At will-animal messenger, calm animals, detect invisibility, detect magic, discern aura, pass without trace, speak with animals, speak with plants; 3/day-goodberry (baked into tarts), magic stone, sleep; 1/day-cause fear, daze monster, geas/quest, mending, smoke image (from her own pipe only), summon nature’s ally IV.

There is a 1 in 12 chance that a granny woman lives with a man-wort (q.v.), and a 1 in 6 chance they live with an orphaned child they are bringing up. If threatened, they have only to scream or whistle and one of the following creatures appears to aid them:

1. Grey Render (who likes its head to be scratched)
2. 1d4+1 brownies (who appreciate good cooking)
3. 1d6 wood elf, gnome or halfling warriors (who need their socks darned)
4. 1d4+2 cooshee (who will hang around for an ear scritch and soup bone)
5. A curtal friar (cleric or druid, 1d4+2 for level, old friend of the granny woman)
6. A ranger and 1d4 outlaws (ranger level 1d4; he and his men look after the old girl when they’re not being chased by the sheriff)

A granny woman will never turn away folk in need unless they are thoroughly wicked, and even then she will help but also place a geas on them with her touch that forces them to perform three acts of pure goodness in a fortnight.

Goop

Small Ooze

Hit Dice: 0 (1d4 hp)
Armor Class: 14
Attacks: Slam (1d3 + constrict)
Move: 20’ (Climb 20′)
Saves: F17 R16 W17
Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1d3
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Resistance to weapons, immune to acid, surprise (1-4 on 1d6)

Goops are small oozes with highly variable colors (and sometimes swirls of color). They lurk around corners and creep up on people, crawling onto them when they aren’t looking. Goops are terribly insecure, and desire the warmth of humanoid contact. When they are clinging to people, they give off a telepathic purr that only the person they are touching can hear. The purr is calming (+1 bonus to save vs. emotional manipulation and fear).

Unfortunately, goops are extremely sticky (takes a combined strength of 28 to remove them, and there’s a 50% chance anyone involved gets the goop re-stuck on them), and they can ruin armor, clothing and weapons with the mild acid they secrete when frustrated or afraid (item saving throw at +2 for metal items).

Each goop has one important, inborn piece of knowledge. In any “sticky situation” the adventurers find themselves in, there is a 1% chance that goop has the answer they are looking for, and will release it to the adventurer with which it has bonded.

Invasion of the Pod Jellies

While writing the new hexcrawl, I scribbled these lovely fellows out and thought folks might find a use for them …

Several (3d4) large seed pods float in the ocean here, and might be seen (1 in 6 chance) by a vessel passing through this hex. The pods are about 6 feet long and consist of a very thick, green hide (Armor Class 18). The pods should be treated as having 20 hit points. They are vulnerable to fire, but immune to cold.

Within the pod, there is a strange, gelatinous life form that, through its mental powers, can understand and duplicate any sentient humanoid. Each pod jelly picks a single humanoid to make its own, using its ESP to choose a likely candidate, and each day absorbs a portion of their being (i.e. 1d6 points of constitution damage) while turning itself into a clone or replica of that person. The pod must be within 30 feet of its victim to do this, and victim receives a Will saving throw each day to resist the effect. When the original’s constitution is reduced to zero, the clone bursts forth from the pod and the original’s body disintegrates.

The pod jellies duplicate the original’s body (i.e. hit dice and physical ability scores) and mind (intelligence and charisma scores, though wisdom is never higher than 6) perfectly, knowing all they knew and having the same general special abilities. They cannot, however, exhibit emotion or faith, and emotion based powers (such as a berserk rage or a cleric’s divine powers), are duplicated and therefore they are not possessed.

POD JELLY
Medium Ooze, Chaotic (NE), Average Intelligence; Invasion (3d6)

HD 2
AC 16
ATK Touch (1d4 acid)
MV 20
SV F15 R15 W15
XP 200 (CL 3)

These are the abilities of a pod jelly in its native form, outside the protection of its pod-like shell and before it has taken on the form of a humanoid. In humanoid form, it loses its resistance to acid, though it retains its ESP ability and can still utter a psychic scream (i.e. psionic blast) once per day, though this takes the form of an actual shrill scream as well as a mental effect.

Special Abilities: Resistance to acid

Spell-Like Abilities: At will—Detect thoughts (ESP); 3/day—Psionic blast

I suppose I need to include them in ACTION X.

What’s more frightening, the psionic blast or that damn perm?

 

We Have Puddings and Jellies … Why Not Custards?

I like my dungeons a bit on the goofy side, I’ll admit. I dig the freewheelin’ olden days when there was no good reason not to have three green martians hanging out in a room next to a tribe of orcs who had just tangled with the dalek on level 6. I don’t necessarily want to do that kind of thing all the time, but it certainly keeps people guessing and keeps the gaming atmosphere light and fun.

With that in mind … dungeon custards. No – not a topic on kobold cookery (though God knows we need one), but rather a new form of ooze that’s maybe not quite as oozy as other oozes. I mean, if we have puddings and jellies, why the heck not custards?

Custards are a bit thicker than the average ooze, which hampers them a bit, but also gives them a bit more punch and a few extra special abilities. Rather than invent some new ooze monsters, I’m going to present this monster as a template you can add to existing ooze monsters – yes, even if you don’t normally use templates.

Here goes …

1. Custards are made of sterner stuff than normal oozes, so they gain one hit dice, and improve their armor class by 1 step. This makes them vulnerable to attacks by all sorts of weapons (i.e. they lose immunity to certain types of weapon, not including oozes that are only struck by silver or magic weapons).

2. Custards are not quite as flexible as most oozes. They can flow through cracks and such, but reduce their speed by half when doing so.

3. When custards are exposed to fire damage equal to at least half their current hit point total (or to out it another way, when a custard takes half its hit points in fire damage), it liquifies somewhat and takes on the characteristics of a normal ooze of its type.

4. Custards suffer half damage from cold.

5. Custards do not divide or engulf – they’re too thick – but they do cling. Whenever a creature is struck by a custard in combat and suffers damage, it must pass a saving throw (Reflex save in B&T) or have the ooze cling to him. This allows the ooze to inflict automatic acid damage each round (1d4 if you don’t have a different acid damage value already) and the character counts as entangled. The ooze can be cut away or the victim can free herself with a bend bars/open doors check, but some of the ooze remains clinging to the victim, and more importantly, begins to use their body heat to grow.

If the adventurer is wearing armor, it is assumed that the custard is clinging to the armor. In this case, the armor must make an item saving throw vs. acid each round. If successful, it holds up and the adventurer suffers no acid damage and does not begin to grow. If an item saving throw fails, the armor in that spot is ruined and the custard begins dealing damage and growing.

Each round that the ooze deals damage to the character, it grows by 1 HD, eventually reaching the normal maximum hit dice for an ooze of its type. This process can be stopped in the following ways: The ooze can be scraped away with a blade, the ooze can be burned away with fire or the ooze can be defeated with a cure disease spell.

If using a blade, the victim suffers 1d3 points of damage with each attempt, and the custard gets a saving throw to resist. When the custard fails a save, the scraping has been successful. Fire works the same way, though the damage is equal to 1d4 points of damage per round. If using a fire spell that deals more damage, impose a penalty to the ooze’s save equal to -1 per 2 points of additional average damage (i.e. average torch damage is 2.5; average 5 dice fireball damage is (3.5 x 5) or 17.5; the custard would suffer a -7 penalty (rounding down) to its saving throw if its victim was exposed to the full fury of a 5 dice fireball).

There you have it. So how about a sample custard for Blood & Treasure?

BLACKBERRY CUSTARD (BLACK PUDDING)
Huge Ooze, Neutral (N), Non-Intelligent; Solitary
HD 11
AC 4
ATK Slam (2d6 + 2d6 acid + cling)
MV 20 (Climb 20)
SV F 7, R 10, W 10
XP 1,100 (CL 12)

The typical blackberry custard measures 15 feet across and 2 feet thick. It weighs about 22,000 pounds. The creature secretes a digestive acid that dissolves organic material (50 points of damage per round) and metal (20 points of damage per round), but does not affect stone. Any hit by the monster deals acid damage, and the target’s armor and clothing dissolve and become useless immediately unless they succeed on an item saving throw. A metal or wooden weapon that strikes a blackberry custard also dissolves unless it passes a saving throw. A blackberry custard that strikes a victim clings to it (see above).

There are other varieties of blackberry custards in existence. Chocolate custards (brown puddings) (12 HD) dwell in deserts. Vanilla custards (white puddings) (10 HD) dwell in snowy regions and dissolve stone instead of metal. Mocha custards (dun puddings) (9 HD) dwell in tropical jungles and only dissolve organic materials.
Special Qualities: Immune to mind effects, resistance to cold

It Came from the SRD – Part One

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no purist when it comes to the many editions and iterations of the “world’s most popular role-playing game”. My own desire for simplicity draws me toward the older versions of the game and their modern simulacra, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find things to like about most editions. The problem, I think, is when some of these clever notions (kits, feats, templates) become revenue sources for their owners. That said, I think one of the top five best ideas ever concerning our favorite game was the creation of the Open Gaming License and its accompanying System Reference Document. The SRD, and all of the other open content on the internet, are amazing sources from which to mine ideas. Looking over the SRD today, I decided to convert a few creatures (and creature variants) that didn’t make it into S&W:C. All of the following is open game content.

Arrowhawk
An arrowhawk is a predator and scavenger from the Elemental Plane of Air. By twisting its body and varying the cadence of its wingbeats, an arrowhawk can fly at top speed in any direction.

• Arrowhawk: HD 7; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 lightning bolt (2d8) or 1 bite (1d8); Move (Fly 24); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Immune to lightning.

Barghest
A barghest is a lupine fiend that can take the shape of a wolf or a goblin. A full-grown barghest is about 6 feet long and weighs 180 pounds. It has bluish-red skin and blue-black fur. A barghest’s eyes glow orange when it becomes excited. Barghests can cast blink, levitate and misdirection at will and charm monster and dimension door once per day. A barghest in wolf form leaves no tracks or trail. When a barghest slays an opponent, it can feed on the corpse, devouring both flesh and soul. Feeding prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. For every three suitable corpses a barghest devours, it gains one hit dice, and its armor class improves by one. The barghest only advances by consuming the corpses of creatures whose hit dice or levels are equal to or greater than its own current total. A barghest that reaches 9 hit dice through feeding immediately becomes a greater barghest upon completion of the act. A greater barghest gains the ability to cast invisibility and alter size once per day.

• Barghest: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 bite (1d6), 2 claws (1d4); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Change shape, cast spells, feed, only harmed by magic weapons.
• Greater Barghest: HD 9; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 bite (1d8), 2 claws (1d6); Move 15; Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Change shape, cast spells, feed, only harmed by magic weapons.

Belker
Belkers are wicked spirits of the air. They are composed of smoke, and their wings lend a demonic cast to their appearance. At will, it can take on gaseous form, looking like a pillar of smoke. In combat, it can engulf a victim, sending solidified, smoky claws into its lungs to tear and rend for 2d6 damage each round.

• Belker: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 wings (1d6), 2 claws (1d3), 1 bite (1d4); Move 12 (Fly 21); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Smoke claws, gaseous form.

Bodak
A bodak is the restless, angry spirit of one killed by an act of terrible, senseless evil. They appear as humanoids with rubbery, reddish skin, featureless faces and smoldering, orange eyes. Creatures that meet its pitiless gaze must pass a saving throw or die instantly, re-animating as bodaks 24 hours later. Bodaks loathe sunlight, which inflicts 1 point of damage each round it is in contact with their skin.

• Bodak: HD 9; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 slam (1d8); Move 9; Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Death gaze, vulnerable to light, unharmed by lightning.

Cauchemar
The cauchemar is a horrible, especially malevolent version of a nightmare. The sight of one of these great horrors bearing down is enough to shake the heart of the boldest champion.

• Cauchemar: HD 16; AC -5 [24]; Atk 1 bite (2d6), 2 hoofs (2d8); Move 18 (Fly 35); Save 3; CL/XP 19/4100; Special: Breathe smoke, become incorporeal.

Celestial Charger
A celestial charger is a unicorn blessed by the gods of light and law. They have the same abilities as normal unicorns, but can also cast spells as a level 7 cleric. Once per day, a celestial charger can deal +8 damage on a successful attack against an evil creature.

• Celestial Charger: HD 8; AC 0 [19]; Atk 2 hoofs (1d8), 1 horn (1d10); Move 24; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Double damage for charge, 25% magic resistance, teleport, smite evil, cast cleric spells as level 7 cleric.

Chaos Beast
Chaos beasts have mutable, ever-changing forms. For all its fearsome appearance, whether it has claws, fangs, pincers, tentacles, or spines, a chaos beast does little physical harm. A blow from a chaos beast causes a living creature to become a spongy, amorphous mass unless they pass a saving throw. An affected creature cannot hold or use any item. Soft or misshapen feet and legs reduce speed to 6. Searing pain courses along the nerves, so strong that the victim cannot cast spells or use magic items, and it attacks blindly, unable to distinguish friend from foe. Each round the victim spends in an amorphous state causes 1 point of wisdom drain from mental shock. If the victim’s wisdom score falls to 0, it becomes a chaos beast. A victim can regain its own shape by attempting a saving throw. A success reestablishes the creature’s normal form for 1 minute. On a failure, the victim can still repeat this check each round until successful or drained of wisdom. A shapechange or stoneskin spell does not cure an afflicted creature but fixes its form for the duration of the spell. A restoration or heal spell removes the affliction, but a separate restoration is necessary to restore any drained points of wisdom.

• Chaos Beast: HD 8; AC 3 [16]; Atk 2 claw (1d4); Move 9; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Corporeal instability, immune to critical hits and transformations, magic resistance 20%.

Choker
These vicious little subterranean predators have hands and feet with spiny pads that help grip almost any surface. The victim of a successful tentacle attack must make a saving throw or be strangled for 1d6 points of damage each round. Chokers are so fast, they can make an extra attack or move at the end of each round.

• Choker: HD 3; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 tentacles (1d4); Move 9 (Climb 6); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Strangle, quickness.

Chuul
Chuuls are a horrible combination of crustacean, insect, and serpent. Although amphibious, they are not good swimmers and prefer to attack on land or in shallow water. The victim of a chuul’s claw attack must succeed at a saving throw or be constricted for 3d6 points of damage each round. A chuul can transfer constricted victims from a claw to its tentacles on its next turn. The tentacles grapple with the same strength as the claw. They deal no damage, but do exude a secretion that paralyzes for 6 rounds if a saving throw is failed. While held in the tentacles, a victim suffers 1d8 points of damage each round from the chuul’s mandibles.

• Chuul: HD 11+2; AC -3 [22]; Atk 2 claw (2d6); Move 12 (Swim 9); Save 4; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: Amphibious, constrict, paralyze, immune to poison.

Cloaker
When resting or lying in wait, these creatures are almost impossible to distinguish from common black cloaks (the cloaker’s ivory claws look very much like bone clasps). Only when it unfurls does the horrific nature of the creature become apparent. A cloaker has a wingspan of about 8 feet. Cloakers emit a low moan that can either cause everyone within 30 feet to save vs. fear or cause one creature within 30 feet to save vs. hold monster. Cloakers can manipulate shadows, duplicating the effect of the spells blur or mirror image.

• Cloaker: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 tail (1d6), 1 bite (1d4); Move 3 (Fly 15); Save 11; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Moan, shadow shift.

Derro
Derro are a degenerate race of albinos that dwell deep underground. At night, they walk the surface world, kidnapping humans for slaves or food. Most derro wear studded leather armor and carry repeating light crossbows with poisoned bolts (see below), fork-fauchards (pole arms that grant a +4 bonus to overbearing attacks) and daggers. Derro bands are often lead by their savants, a sort of combination of magic-user and cleric. Derro lairs contain 20-40 derro, 1d3 savants, 1d6 student savants, 20-30 slaves (80% female) and 1d3 gargoyle allies.

• Derro: HD 3; AC 14; Atk 1 weapon (1d4); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Magic resistance 30%.
• Savant: HD 7; AC 14; Atk 1 weapon (1d4); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Magic resistance 30%, spells.

Destrachan
A destrachan looks something like an eyeless velociraptor with a gaping, lamprey-like mouth. It has a pair of complex, three-part ears that it can adjust to be more or less sensitive to various sounds. It is blind, yet hunts with a sense of hearing more precise than most creatures’ sight. From its tubular mouth a destrachan emits carefully focused harmonics, producing sonic energy so powerful it can shatter a stone wall. So skilled is a destrachan at controlling the sounds it emits that it can choose what type of material to affect with its attack.

A destrachan can blast sonic energy in a cone up to 80 feet long. It can also use this attack to affect any creatures or objects within a 30-foot radius. It can tune the harmonics of this destructive power to affect different types of targets, including a blast that deals 4d6 points of damage to all within 20 feet, stunning all foes within 20 feet (saving throws apply) or shattering a particular material.

• Destrachan: HD 8; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claw (1d6); Move 12; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Blindsight, sonic energy.

Dread Wraith
The oldest and most malevolent wraiths lurk in the depths of forgotten temples and other forsaken places. They can sense the approach of living creatures, and hunger for them. Dread wraiths are immune to all non-magical weapons, including silver ones. Arrows, even magical ones, inflict only a single point of damage on their etheric bodies. The touch of a dread wraith inflict 2d6 points of damage and drains 1d2 levels. Humanoids that have all of their levels drained by a dread wraith become wraiths themselves under the control of their killer.

• Dread Wraith: HD 16; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 touch (2d6 + level drain); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 19/4100; Special: Drain 1d2 levels per hit.

Elder Pudding
The most ancient black puddings are vast pools of inky death. They have the same special abilities as other black puddings, save that weapons and armor of any kind are destroyed with but a single hit.

• Elder Pudding: HD 20; AC 8 [11]; Atk 1 attack (4d8); Move 6; Save 3; CL/XP 21/4700; Special: Acidic surface, immune to cold, divides when hit with lightning.

Ethereal Filcher
Ethereal filchers look vaguely like giant, disembodied hands, the “fingers” each tipped in a hand with long, sinuous fingers. The “palm” contains a rudimentary face. Ethereal filchers can slip in and out of the ethereal plane at will, using this ability to take people by surprise. The creature attempts to seize an item, then quickly shifs back to the ether. Ethereal filchers can detect magic at will.

• Ethereal Filcher: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Detect magic, ethereal jaunt, pick pockets.

Ethereal Marauder
Ethereal marauders look like bipedal lizards with no forelegs and with gaping, tri-corner mouths filled with fangs. Their coloration ranges from bright blue to deep violet. They live on the ethereal plane, but mostly hunt on the material plane. Once a marauder locates prey, it leaves the ethereal plane to attack, biting the victim and then retreating quickly back to the ether.

• Ethereal Marauder: HD 2+1; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d8); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Ethereal jaunt.

Coming Soon: I’ll finish up the unconverted SRD monsters and then get to work describing the southwest portion of the Wyvern Coast and the infamous city-state of Ophir.