Thursday, October 29, 2020

1d20 Unrealistic but Gameable Insanities

There are occasional 'insanity' effects in D&D, but as one of my players has said, trying to model actual mental illnesses in a roleplaying game mechanically can come off as all manner of insulting, ignorant, insensitive, and so on (as one example of many, the AD&D tables use such outdated terminology that the name of the condition and what is actually described do not even match).

My approach to the matter is to have insanities be gonzo mental mutations/curses that are primarily focused on making the game more interesting rather than modeling anything from real life. The most common means of obtaining an insanity is from learning forbidden knowledge where the insanity is the price you pay for the knowledge/abilities gleaned, and if the insanity is removed, so too is the knowledge lost. This allows for roleplaying the insanity to the specifics- one example would be from my own campaign, where players had access to a scroll that showed those who read it flashes of futures, one of which was the fall of the human world to brain wasps in a distant future if their current sorceress-princess was driven out of the society. Upon rolling 'Homicidal Mania,' Ser Arsem became convinced he needed to murder certain people to prevent this terrible future from occurring, and it was a pretty useful plot point that led to a lot of interesting misadventures. It was up for debate if he was acting on prophecy or insanity. I think leaving the precise details to the players is the best thing to do, so it becomes an aspect of the character rather than random 'ok you are NPC now and don't get to play' thing.

  1. Chaotic- You cannot take the same action twice in a row, be it during combat or downtime. At the GM's option, repeating plans like may be impossible as well if any pattern of behavior is being established. Any attempt to predict your actions (such as reading your mind to see what you are thinking of doing next, or time-travel) will be bamboozled.
  2. Elvishness- Due to ruinous nostalgia of past lives, excessive interest in the aesthetics of a scenario, a sudden desire to recite philosophical poetry or create art, or talking to spell-wisps, ghosts, bugs, etc, you have a 1/20 chance of losing touch with the urgency of any crisis situation and instead focusing on something whimsical instead. If you create something artistic to share with the group from this whimsy, you are eligible for a small bonus of XP, along the lines of an X from Die Trying at GM discretion.
  3. Hypersanity- What if it's not you, but everyone else? Once per session, upon encountering some common mundanity, like 'sitting in chairs to eat' or 'shaking hands,' declare that an act of insanity and refuse to partake in it henceforth, regardless of social consequences. If your list becomes unmanageably long do not fret about what you forget now and then, just try to make up for it upon remembering (like throwing away all the chairs to prevent a similar slip-up).
  4. Parallaxis- Your mind, attuned to realities congruent and less so, cannot help but provide you with extra information about these parallel worlds. You do not believe yourself to be lying, but everything you say is embellished with things that you forget are not locally true, which makes it difficult for people to believe even the true parts when you mention a town that was never founded being vital for this month's crop supply. These false ideas are not entirely useless- to use the prior example, the unfounded crop-town may be a valley of rich soil unclaimed by anyone else.
  5. True Love- Pick a character, or perhaps even an idea (It need not be romantic love). You would do anything for them, and if they perish, it might as well be the end of the world for you. You are immune to any effect that would turn you against them. 
  6. Jekyllism- You have an alternate self, the shadow, the id, maybe a cannibalized twin, whatever you call it, and you can call it forth, and it you, at will, though altered mental states sometimes cause an involuntary swap (such as a Fear effect causing one personality to retreat, calling forth the other). It is your opposite, or near to it, and your stats are reversed and even your class is different (Fighter-MU and Cleric-Thief being the default 'swaps').

    The other personality will seek to avoid this 'insanity' being removed, or even seek to remove you and become the only self, but is not unreasonable and acts in their own best interests and will cooperate on important matters.

    Depending on context, the other self may not be a facet of yourself, but a dream, or a fictional character, or a ghost or something, in which case they are not so much 'opposite' as 'just another person' and may have knowledge completely unknown to you.
  7. Homicidal Mania- Upon meeting new people (having them talk to you in enough depth to learn each others names is the rough trigger here) you have a 1-in-20 chance to decide they need to die. You may scheme for subtle assassination plans rather than defaulting to instant stabbing, but if delayed for too long you will lose the ability to gain XP, and eventually the ability to sleep.
  8. Nightmare Host- Whenever you sleep, you become a Nightmare Incursion, a dungeon of sorts that can be entered and altered from within, and is host to monsters symbolic of yourself. This effect occurs and is permanent upon death, and those slain within/killed by the monsters of your nightmares become nightmare incursions themselves. The wandering encounter rates are such that if you are asleep, no one near you will be for long.

    As it may soon be relevant, sleepless nights reduce all stats by 1 and prevent any healing, recovery of spells and abilities, and so on.
  9. Determined- Pick a goal you have- you are obsessed with its completion and cannot take downtime activities in the service of anything else, and should justify most actions within this context, or grumble mightily when doing unrelated things. If you are slain before it is completed, you immediately become undead and continue trying to accomplish this goal devoid of the weaknesses of the living (as a PC or NPC depending on preferences). You gain bonus XP for following your goal, however, and pick a new goal if you complete one.
  10. MegaMasochism- You register pain as pleasure, and gain 1d6 temporary HP whenever struck for damage. This temporary HP is lost at the end of a combat or otherwise defined scene, as it is a brief high and your wounds are still wounds. You also lose any dodge-based AC bonuses, and show up with 1d6 less HP after any instance of downtime due to self (or otherwise) flagellation.
    Previously pleasurable activities lose their luster and so things like food, drugs, soft beds, and even healing effects (unless the healing process is painful/does not numb pain) provide only half their previous benefits, rounding down.

    Naturally, any pain-based attempts at coercion are entirely ineffective.
  11. Awakened Sleeper- While asleep, you function as though mostly awake, though your speech is unintelligible and you must simultaneously contend with the dream realm as well as the waking world, (assuming the GM is too busy to run both realms at once, apply a 50% chance to act as Confused each action taken). While useful for night-time ambushes, sleep spells, and so on, this is largely an annoyance and it may be easiest to bind yourself upon rest so you do not wander.
  12. Darktongue- You constantly mutter and babble, though less so if you occupy your mouth with a pipe, or food, or a hand over it. Fragments of out-of-character chatter make their way into diegetic conversation, impairing auditory stealth and conversation, and your muttering may disturb others- if something especially odd is said, it may reroll reaction or morale of friends and enemies alike. Spellcasting is most direly affected- when you cast a spell, it becomes extra.
  13. P-Zombie- You lose your soul and your mind, have no internal experience of being, and are immune to any such effects reliant on you being more than a chemo-electrical meat-puppet. However, the empty thing that I will refer to as 'you' for sake of conversation behaves as though 'you' still had consciousness, and acts as though 'you' were affected by such effects. Mind-reading or 'detect' spells targeting you will yield no results, however, as there is 'nothing there.' Philosophers must save vs nervous sweat in your presence.
  14. Fight/Flight- When put into crisis situations/threatened with physical harm, you must make a Will save (or whatever save is most appropriate) or you must either enter a berserker rage in which you deal and take maximum melee damage and must attack(or at least take violent offensive action like throwing Fireballs or chasing your foes bellowing) until all threats are eliminated, or you may flee as fast as possible until you have evaded, hidden from, and otherwise lost all pursuing threats and given yourself a good 10 minutes/1 dungeon turn to calm down.
  15. Amnesia- You forget the specifics of your past- you know what a human is, but you don't know WHO a human is. You know what spaghetti is, but not if you like it. All that remains is a dim recollection of 'ah yes, I was a human*, I did, human things.' The memories are retained within the soul or the brain (depending on lore) but cannot be accessed until the seal upon them is removed. Some abilities and skills may be lost, others may remain via muscle memory and unconscious influence.

    *Obviously replace human with dog if you are a dog or something 
  16. Hyperbolic Optimism/Pessimism- Upon waking, you have a 50% chance to be either rabidly optimistic or nihilistically pessimistic for the rest of the day. While initially amusing it soon begins to wear on those exposed, and each subsequent day of the same ludicrous cheer or crushing gloom reduces the morale of retainers by 1 until the swap is made back for a change of pace.

    For downtime, you may take two downtime actions, but each has double chance of mishaps occurring due to hasty decisions and self-sabotage.
  17. Blabbering Honesty- You cannot lie, and if someone is lying and you think you know the truth, save or blurt it out.
    If you are an Elf or similar fey critter, you instead lose all your magic powers if you lie overtly (though lies by omission are fine).
  18. Nightmare Curse- You are not quite possessed, but infested by a nightmare creature that manifests as aberrant behavior. Roll your random curse on page 236
  19. Contrarianism- When told to do something, save or attempt to do the opposite, or in the case of an exact opposite being untenable, something counterproductive to the intended order. Your own intended actions can trigger this (ie, jumping into a pit instead of over it), but only if you have gone a session without causing some zany misadventure and are now jonesing for contrarian wackiness.
  20. Darkmind- Exposure to forbidden elements has altered your mind-concept in alien ways incomprehensible to mere diegetic beings. Your character is now the character of at least one other player in addition to yourself, providing them with a wealth of new ideas and behaviors.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Giant Gar, Goyle Gar, and Gas Spore

 AD&D Giant Gar
This is just a big 8HD, AC as plate, danger fish that swallows you whole on 20's and has a 5d4 bite.
There are also giant Pike later in the book, but honestly I feel like those entries (and any other oddly specific giant fish) entries could probably have been condensed to a single 'Giant Fish' section, or even been a footnote in the 'Shark' section mentioning 'the shark statblock can also serve for various predatory fish.

AD&D Gargoyles
Gargoyles in AD&D are pretty nasty sorts, being immune to nonmagical weaponry (though their AC is merely as Chain), boasting numerous but weak attacks via claw/claw/bite/horn gore attack routine, and of course flight. They are 'predators of a magical nature' that are 90% likely to attack anything they detect, and are said to enjoy torturing prey to death on account of them being evil monsters. It is not at all clear if they are evilly animated statues intentionally created or some manner of naturally occurring stony monster, but their presence in underground caverns as well as ruins points to the latter, while later modules depicted gargoyles that seem directly inspired by stonework.

They also have, bizarrely, an aquatic variant known as the kopoacinth, which swim with their wings and are found in shallow waters with sea-caves.

Though I prefer a friendlier take on these creatures, I think they are pretty good monsters to serve as minions for larger villains (as the book mentions.) They are immune to normal weaponry, making them good at terrorizing townsfolk, flying away with hostages, and providing a demon-like threat without the grab-bag of magical powers actual demons have.
BFRPG Gargoyles
Largely identical to their origin, this interpretation leans more on them being 'evil rocks' giving them better camouflage/surprise chance when they stand motionless and pretend to be statues, and their predations are confirmed to be cruel in nature, as they need neither food, air, water, or sleep.

DCC Gargoyles
While similar to the BFRPG variant, they have AC as Plate+Shield+3 but only 2HD, and normal weapons still inflict damage, but shatter upon striking the gargoyle 50% of the time. This makes them more prone to being 'seemingly invincible, then suddenly shattered' and a drain on weaponry that better represents them being made of stone but not magically resilient, and all in all I think is a better take than the 4HD gargoyles which are a bit of a slog to get rid of if you actually have the capacity to do so.

AD&D Gas Spore- A nasty sort of 'trick' monster which resembles a beholder, but is in fact a sort of lethal exploding fungus balloon. Killing one causes it to explode in a 6d6 blast in a 20' radius, which even with a save for half is pretty rude as a gotcha moment.

Interestingly, despite being an order of magnitude or three weaker than a beholder, I feel like they can only be used properly AFTER the party has encountered a beholder, for that gives the party a chance to realize something is off (primarily the fact that the main eye of a beholder should be cancelling magic as it gazes upon the party, while a gas spore's 'Eye' is just fungal texture.)

Once the functioning of gas spores has been realized, they could become interesting encounter complications akin to an exploding barrel in DOOM, or terrain hazards in rooms with high bridges, narrow walkways, tight halls, and so on.

One thing I had quite forgotten until rereading the entry is that letting them bob balloon-like up to someone, apparently harmless now you haven't detonated it, is in fact another 'gotcha' moment, where the gas spore will 'shoot tiny rhizomes' into someone, die on the spot (without exploding), and infect the target such that they will die in 24 hours and sprout into 2d4 more gas spores. While a fascinating fungal life-cycle, there's no reason to expect an exploding ball to suddenly function as a hypodermic needle injecting its fungal contents upon touch (or so I imagine the process) and so I'm not too fond of the double trickery of this creature, neither of which is something you would expect.


Sunset Realm Giant Fish
Fish can grow giant just like everything else, but I have no special attachment to Gar, and honestly have plenty of other sea-beasts I'd rather use.

It is a common belief that the uglier a gargoyle is, the more fearsome a guardian it will be


Sunset Realm Gargoyle
Gargoyles come in two varieties- church-defenders carved from the hallowed stone of a temple, their elemental souls given humanoid egos by their new shadows. This is a High Alvish technique adopted first by the 3rd solar age sorcerer-king Sarkomand the Omnipotent, then by the 4th age Church of the Stone Sun. In the absence of either, remaining gargoyles tend to be ancient and somewhat battered, lurking in old ruins and defending them for no good reason anymore, making it not at all impossible to negotiate with them if the appropriate ancient language can be utilized and at least some moral similarities to their fallen cult demonstrated (destroying undead is usually a safe bet, as watching over church graveyards to keep the dead under control was a common task, and recovering lost relics, stained glass windows, and so on that the gargoyles liked to gaze upon is another good bribe.)

The other, more sinister origin of a gargoyle is one who is carved from a (preferably extremely obese) humanoid petrified by the knowledge of Yg transmitted via Basilisk or Medusa, reshaped into an entirely new being by the snakey folk responisble. The original soul is usually cast from the body in this process (unless it hangs on out of consent or stubborn determination), the new soul of a gargoyle being an artificial shadow-soul tweaked to the specifications of the creator. Medusa like gargoyle servants, for they are immune to petrification, and they featured predominantly as soldiers in the Oroboron Civil War in which the Serpent Queen Tinnea (Herself a descendant of Vala) tried to take the city from King Samuel Goffnagoff, only to be ousted in open revolt from basically all the human nobles of the land and replaced by Queen Evalyn Goffnagoff, daughter of the king. This event marked the addition of the goddesses Yg and Lumar to the list of unsanctioned cults of the realm, which stands to this day.

That aside, gargoyles are decidedly an urban creature, (either inhabited or ruined) and the church-defending sort tend to know quite a lot about the goings on of priests, for they have nothing to do but gaze stoically from their perches and gossip as they wait for their time to act. As such, investigations of corruptions sometimes bear unexpected fruits when the ancient gargoyles of an abbey are consulted, and truly unforgivable goings on may even bring down the gargoyles of a building to depose of problems. This is not exclusively limited to religious buildings- some gargoyles were built for military defense and surveillance and do away with spies, thieves, and saboteurs, and the religious leanings of gargoyles is a matter of the secret techniques being passed down among the gods enslaved by the Stone Sun pantheon and therefore used in religious projects far more often than anything else.

Sunset Realm Gas Spore- Fungus is poorly understood by scholars, but it is generally agreed that it is the 'plant life' of darkness, in contrast to sun-loving trees and herbs. And while monstrous plants are not unheard of (the twin moons Spring and Autumn producing such vicious shrubbery without fail), it is no surprise that dark-thriving fungus grows into monstrous forms in the dark.

Gas spores are a form of fungus that grows on rotting flesh and other organic matter not defended by the light of life, and they tend to resemble what they grow from, leading to spores that look like human heads, skulls, bloated roadkill balloons, other mushrooms and so on. The similarity to beholders is more a matter of them being 'a spherical floating something' than true mimicry, but the dim lighting and twitchy reactions of dungeoneering typically works in their favor. They are attracted to air currents and slowly fly about by ejecting spores as propulsion, and they explode when violently struck, or when they touch something that registers as 'alive' or at least 'organic' to their mysterious fungal senses. The concussive burst is sometimes lethal due to throwing those caught in the blast to crack their skulls on rocks and so on, but mostly just knocks people prone with some blood coming from the ears and nose, perhaps attracting nearby monsters (1d6 damage, save vs dragon breath for half, per 1' diameter of the spore, the damage dropping off by 1d6 every 5 feet of distance from ground zero. Spores grow to a maximum diameter of 6' before exploding themselves). Anything spore-covered will infect any dead organic matter it touches until either they clean off the spores, or the spores perish in sunlight.

Infested organic matter (such as the rations of a spore-covered adventurer) will look and taste moldy at first, and over the course of the next 1d6 hours will collapse into rot and sprout into a new gas spore. Corpses will provide enough energy to produce 2d4 gas spores. Infested wood will sprout gas spores as well, but at a slower rate, until burnt. Rotten dungeon timber tends to serve as a sort of 'spawner' of gas spores, ensuring a dungeon will have wandering gas spores until all the infestation points have been destroyed.

The idea behind this variant of gas spore, from GMing perspective, is to have them serve as an explosive menace that also serves as ration and corpse depletion, and built in dungeon re-stocking. The players might turn the gas spore life cycle to their advantage, or fail to take appropriate measures and find themselves drowning in the things as everything in the dungeon falls.

Explodestools- Exploding land-mine toadstools were a favorite of mine, depicted in a dragon magazine article I forget the name/issue of. I think a variant gas spore that grows as a bloated mushroom rather than a floating balloon makes for a good potential change, with the major difference being that Explodestools can thrive aboveground, and of course are stationary hazards.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Flightless Bird, Giant Frog, Frogfolk, Violet Fungi/Shriekers

 AD&D Flightless Bird- This entry refers to beasties like the ostirich, emu, dodo and similar, rather than the monstrous axebeak of more prehistoric or fantastical form. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about these creatures, and probably should have been a footnote in the axebeak entry. For all the thought given to selling other baby animals, I am surprised no 'market value' for ostriches is included.


AD&D Giant Frog
Giant frogs are mechanically interesting due to being probably the lowest HD monster that utilizes 'swallow whole' rules. They also are tactically distinct from many other monsters due to their unusual attack pattern, which is rather convoluted but I will attempt to summarize here.
1- Frog attacks with sticky tongue at +4 to hit but no damage
2- Those struck get an opportunity(though not a free attack I believe) to strike the tongue, which if struck, withdraws, and the frog will not expose its tongue to that target again.
3- If not struck, the tongued target is pulled to the frog and automatically takes maximum damage, assuming the weight is appropriate.

With regards to the load-bearing capacity of frog-tongues, the frogs come in 3 sizes- small 50 pounders dealing 1d3 damage, 150 pounders dealing 1d6, and big fat frogs dealing 2d4, with HD scaling up from 1-3 as weight increases
If you weigh more than the frog, the tongue-drawing in takes 3 rounds, giving an extra chance on round 2 to strike the tongue, and only taking the max-bite on round 3. If you weigh over twice the frog, you will not be dragged at all, and the frog will give up on the 3rd round.

The frogs also leap shorter horizontal distances (losing ~10% their normally twice-human movespeed leap) per 50 pounds of weight over 50lbs, and are terribly slow outside of their typical leaping. Seeing as how the frogs show up in numbers of 5d8, tracking all this seems like lunacy, but suffice it to say that if you flee from 5-40 giant frogs you will likely be unable to escape the smaller 1HD ones if they can hop, possibly able to escape the 2HD ones if you are unarmored/unburdened/unhindered by terrain, and probably able to flee the 3HD frogs if not too burdened once you realize they can't hop more than 45 degrees left or right without having to adjust their facing (this is true for all the frogs, but the smaller one's long jumps make them more difficult to evade).

Curiously, they can all hop an astounding 30 feet straight up regardless of weight, making them pretty good monsters to lurk in watery pits and moats to devour those who would cross.

As for the swallowing whole, they swallow small humans, elves, halflings, and similarly sized targets whole on a nat 20. I believe the frogs can bite without going through the tongue routine and so instantly gobble someone up, but it is unclear if this should be expanded to include nat20 tongue hits resulting in swallowing rather than biting. Those swallowed have 3 chances (Which I believe, given the wording of the tongue effect is 3 rounds) to cut themselves out with a sharp edged weapon and an attack roll of 18+, after which it is unclear if they are dead or simply unable to free themselves due to suffocation or crushing stomach muscles (as no mention of damage is made here but it is mentioned for creatures such as the purple worm, I would assume rescue from outside sources remains possible for a few minutes).
However, attempts to slay the frog that swallowed your friend menaces said friend, as attacks against such a frog have a 1/3 chance to harm the character within as well as the frog.

They are said to fear giant fish, turtles, snakes, and fire, and retreat when wounded.

Though admittedly the AD&D rules are rather convoluted and could be simplified, I think giant frogs having special rules makes them likely to be a memorable and interesting encounter compared to other 'beast' encounters with all the breaking tongue grapples, outmaneuvering hops, and occasionally maybe rescuing Frodo from a frog-stomach, and multiple ways to frighten them off are given as well.

There are also 'killer frogs' which are just small frogs with a weak claw-claw-bite routine and 1HD, and poison frogs which have poison skin secretions and bite with a +4 to the save. These variants are not as interesting and do not have much uniqueness going for them, alas.

AD&D Violet Fungi-
I find it interesting that D&D has a fair few monsters that resemble other monsters. Mimicry in nature is common enough, but it can sometimes feel a bit like a 'gotcha' moment in a fictitious play-space. However, for the most part I think it shakes things up and keeps the players from being too complacent upon encountering something they think they know, provided cautious players can ascertain the threat with investigation somehow.

More to the point, Violet Fungi are mimics of Shriekers found 75% of the time with these companions, which are slow, ambulatory giant fungus that shriek when disturbed by light or movement. As this makes them, essentially, living alarms for dungeon environments, players frequently may wish to disable Shriekers if they deem the risk of noise now is worth removing the risk of noise later, but rushing in to chop them up will expose one to the Violet Fungi. Violet Fungi flail with 1-4 tentacles that rot flesh upon hit (requiring Cure Disease or a save vs poison to resist) and so, while easily dispatched with range, are a menace in melee. (Though unclear what 'rot flesh' actually means, it mentions this occurs in a single round, and since the other mentions of Rot in AD&D refer to Mummy Rot or the Periapt of Foul Rotting, both of which are lethal eventually, I believe this is intended to be a 'save or die' effect)

A mildly interesting note is that 3.5 makes shriekers stationary, and only violet fungi ambulatory.


Sunset Realm Flightless Birds
- Birds that have wings but do not fly are exempt from the pecking order hierarchy of the other birds. Legends have it that they descended from a mighty ancestor bird who flew into the night sky to steal the stars, but upon discovering what they were, learned fear and humility and returned to earth and swore never to challenge the high howling darkness again. In Saresaren court politics, someone who is willfully blind to opportunities to further ambition is sometimes called an ostrich, a creature apart from the game of lion and gazelle.

Sunset Realm Giant Frogs
Basically anything can grow to giant size for various reasons, and frogs are no exception. Frogs lost the war against snakes in ancient times, but survived complete extermination by developing their legless tadpole stage to hide from the leg-detecting servants of Yg until they had grown into size and experience. This metamorphosis came with a cost, however, their mutable forms becoming steeped with the powers of Chaos and their god Zaba becoming known as a demon-god instead of simply an animal god due to developing strange and unnatural powers that some wizards who do not mind becoming froggy use for their own ends.

Now that the Serpent Empire is no more, frogs need not hide from all the world, and they grow fat and greedy and think themselves mighty once more and, though snakes are notorious gluttons, frogs are known for biting off more than they can chew.

Zaba, lord of frogs, was lounging in the swamp when one of his children came to visit. "Lord Zaba, I have seen a creature even greater than you!"
"Impossible" replied Zaba. "I am the fattest in all the land. None can match my breadth, my depth, my girth. And if they try, I can do this." And Zaba sucked in air to make himself even larger than his already considerable bulk.
"No, Lord Zaba, the beast stood high on four legs, and higher still with two horns!"
Zaba was astonished, and blew himself up even huger. "Well, height isn't everything. You see I am surely broader than this beast now."
"No Lord Zaba, for the monster was wide and powerful enough to pull a cart!"
This alarmed Lord Zaba so he huffed and puffed and blew himself up till he more resembled a melon than frog. "How is this, then?"
"Alas, bigger, bigger still."
So Zaba gulped and inhaled air and swelled larger and larger, and finally said "I am sure I am the biggest now" at which point he exploded. Being a god, this was not the end of him, but as his children did not have the heart to tell him he was still smaller than an ox after all that, no lessons were learned.
-Rewriting of the Aesop's fable The Frog and the Ox


Thanks to Doctor Ogudugu's 10 step training program I went from 'frog on a log' to 'hog of the bog' in just 2 weeks! Click now to find out how

 




Sunset Realm Frog Folk
No doubt due to an excess of princes turned into frogs by bog witches, there are anthropomorphic frog-people in the Bog of the Canal, and have been for at least 3 solar ages. They are not well loved by Our Lady of Gardens, for she would turn them into humans, nor by Lord Zaba, who would turn them into frogs, but the Lord of Calamities, Murulu, has a liking for the hybrid froggy folk and as such they are always untouched by the marching mutant armies of the Calamitous Lord that must cross the Bog of the Canal to menace the Tripartite realm, and indeed the frogfolk sometimes join up to see the world beyond the bog.

While most of the frog folk are content to swim in the swamp, play catgut banjos, and live simple lives in their reed huts, they do have a higher organization of sorts born of the terror of intersolar periods- the Order of the Lantern. This order developed outfits to help keep their skin moist when traveling beyond the swamp and train their bodies and minds to battle against monsters that threaten the livelihood of the froggy bogfolk.

The Order of the Lantern enjoys the communal access to resources the frog-folk swear by and can expect to always have clothing, room and board, and travelling gear at least, but sometimes greater wealth is required, mainly to deal with the economies of humans. As such, the Order of the Lantern also has experience delving for treasure in the ancient Frog Kingdom ruins that have sunk into the swamp over centuries, dealing with ancient basilisks, demon-toads, frog-bog mummies, Zaba cultists and all manner of lingering and fresh horrors that enjoy the soggy ruins. As such, the occupation of 'adventurer' is not uncommon among the otherwise placid and prosaic bog folk.

Frog Folk must consume extra rations of water (up to 5 times normal) to keep themselves hydrated even with a wet suit (a hooded cloak and bandages wrapped around most their body) and feel a little fragile out of warm wetlands, whether it be too hot or too cold.

They cannot breathe water, but are powerful swimmers thanks to their webbed feet and hands, and assuming they grew up in the bog of the canal, a lifetime of swimming experience. Apart from that, they are largely identical to humans, just with a tendency to develop musculature more in the legs than the upper body and of course, green, spotted skin similar to a leopard frog. Some have very long tongues capable of catching flies, chicken drumsticks, etc, and all manner of similar froggish features (like the children being tadpole like, or poison skin) can be found in individual families thanks to the lingering chaos within all frog-kind.


Sunset Realm Violet Fungi
While I'm all for shriekers having hidden threats, I'm just not thrilled about 'tentacled flesh-rotting mushroom.' Something just doesn't click with me about that idea.. So here's a quick table of 'alternate threats to spice up shrieker encounters' in similar ways that Violet Fungi do.

1- Conquerer Worms- These brain parasite grubs hide in the whistling holes shriekers blow air through to shriek, and leap out to steal the bodies of those who come too close, and creatures drawn to the noise are likely being controlled by other worms.
2- Giant Centipedes- These poisonous vermin eat anything remotely edible, and scavenge those fallen in battles caused by the alarming shriekers, and protect the shriekers themselves in a territorial display that benefits both.
3- Cordyceps Shrieker- This subspecies of shrieker blows out spores along with its whistling that infest the living (or the undead, I suppose) and create fungal zombies who start out as living but diseased and deranged, but end up as corpses puppeted by shriekers bursting from the skull, until the corpse falls apart and the killer mushrooms wander off to start the cycle anew. Again, random encounters drawn by the noise are likely to be the infected.
4-Boomers- This subspecies of shrieker stops shrieking, closes off its whistle-pores, and bloats and swells with spores and gas until struck, at which point it detonates mightily. Exploding mushrooms are a D&D classic and it seems a more appropriate mushroomy threat.
5- Slimers- Some species of ooze could live inside a shrieker and flow out in a bubbling mess when the shrieker is disturbed.  Infested shriekers would look melty, wet, and be incapable of whistling, and grey oozes, green slime, or smaller ochre jellies could all be appropriate.
6- Mushroom Men- Appearing as just another giant mushroom wobblign around, upon getting nearer they reveal themselves to be the guardians of the shriekers, like a farmer to cattle, and they may strike with debilitating spores and poisoned weapons

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Pantheon as DCC Patrons, Part One- Our Lady of Gardens, Murulu, The Fairy Queen, and Zaba (But really just the first two)

In the triple realm of King's Point, Queen's Coast, and Prince's Spit, there are four major supernatural forces that many call upon. I got a bit distracted thinking about the  d e e p   l o r e for my new campaign so by all means scroll down to the big numbered lists, but this is a doozy of a post either way.

Our Lady of Gardens is the goddess of, roughly speaking, the agricultural revolution and city-based society. Her domain is over the commonly domesticated animals such as goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, peasants, and so on(dogs included but they have their own canid deity), and she grew in power considerably after the Horse God of Yuba perished and horses fell (for the most part) under her protection, and again when the dominant sun-god Riikhus perished and the Stone Sun pantheon that she was part of collapsed, leaving her as sole guardian of the Tripartite Realm. Additionally, she is the one who, back in wilder days of antiquity, tamed the wild plants into orderly grain and vegetables, and while the harvest is determined by the will of the slavering moons beyond the reach of the sun, here in the Daylands it is by her grace the crops grow healthy and fruitful.
The Lady has a plan for humanity, just as a farmer has plans for a farm. She values social acumen, symmetry(an anti-chaos measure), health and skill, and so seeks to matchmake families, spinning a web of relationships in the hopes of raising individuals and institutions that are optimally suited to keep civilization intact through the regular cataclysms that wrack the world. Each of the three realms takes a slightly different approach, though whether this is cultural and clergical drift or the actual will of the goddess to test alternate models is most unclear. Anathema to her are mutations and disease and mutilations, monstrous chimera and moonspawn, undead and fell sorcery, for she enjoys things to be clearly defined and in top form, able to live lives and die deaths in harmony with established society. The living labor according to their roles, and reap the rewards in the expansive afterlife of Our Lady, an arrangement that for the most part satisfies those within the three monarchies and keeps the dead quiet.

Her counterpart is Murulu, Lord of Calamities, who has leashed the flood and the famine, the earthquake and the hurricane, drought and pestilence, and many other disasters that strain and bay at their leashes, and are set upon those who have lived without suffering too long, to remind them of the fate of all flesh. But Murulu is not a wicked goddess, per se- true, mutation and blight and disaster are directed by her to some degree, but without Murulu there would be no karmic justice to these events, only a meaningless grinding of the bones of mortals and shedding of their blood to feed the elements from whence they came. Murulu lurks at the edge of the world, able to direct disaster but not prevent it. Those who worship Murulu are not spared misfortune, but they may pick their poisons. Under Murulu, the famine stuck lands will be spared the next plague. The blind man may trade a leg to the legless woman for an eye, and those who are hideous monsters can find peace at the side of those who see with their hearts. Murulu says 'It is easier to change your self than the world' and encourages a view of change not being something to fear, but to adapt to and see the good in. Murulu has only a 'waiting room' style afterlife for the faithful as they await reincarnation in a future generation, as her followers are fewer.

The two approaches, civilization vs anarchy, planning vs adaptation, order vs chaos, classical beauty vs unique charm, humanism vs transhumanism have lead to great conflict between the goddesses, and so too their peoples. Murulu champions a reincarnation of the Dark Lord every century to march forth with hordes of mutants and monsters to showcase the futility of Our Lady's Garden, and Our Lady assembles the usual legions of warriors, shining knights, and roguish chevaliers to counterargue via steel that it is Murulu who is in the wrong for allowing the world to develop as it pleases rather than nipping problems in the bud and pruning deviations from stability. Once upon a time they each served the Tyrant-Sun Riikhus alongside each other, and perhaps the conflict between the two is from coming to different conclusions about how to withstand the entropic attentions of reality from the experience.

Heleognostics, safely sequestered away from the wars on their island, say the conflict itself serves humanities interests in the long run. We humans are mortals after all- if we must die, why not die and contribute to this aeons old 'discussion?' (Though on the subject of 'discussions,' as an aside, the goddess M'shesh who questions death itself is rather too radical and is not endemic to this region). The Tripartite Realm has an enemy to humble it when it grows too proud, and to unite against behind a single goal when it grows too fractious. The directed calamities fall upon those who are most prepared to blunt their effects, or those villains who deserve every gust of portentous storms, and each side gets to make their point most pointedly. Those who have tired of the Tripartite Realm's societal strictures may go to the Wurderlands and Murulu under the Dark Lord's banner and get freaky, and those who long for order and non-mutant chickens can settle in the Tripartite Realm and swear fealty to Our Lady of Gardens and be cleansed, and round and round it goes.

Set apart from the endless struggle is the Queen of Fairie, once called Flora, and her Alvish Courts that live within the dreams of trees, Elfland (A more populated Ynn is how I'll run it I expect). The Alves respect the gods for their power, but smile with eyes only and remember days of ash and ruin where the Alves were, and the gods were not. Those humans who forsake the human gods and swear to serve the dreaming woods over the armies and cities of humans (or mutants) may find favor with the elves, for good or ill, if they seek Elfland in the Queenswood or atop icy Mount Celephais(or was it Aran? It matters not). There are two courts- Summer and Winter, Seelie and Unseelie, and each is inhuman and glamorous in their own way. Time treads lightly in Elfland, and the elves, goblins, fairies, and what have you have forever to do all the nothing they so enjoy, and it serves as an alluring dream for humans to retire to even before their time in the waking world is up.

And finally is Zaba, a big fat frog god who hid in the form of a legless tadpole after being defeated by the snake goddess Yg in times so ancient even the elves know nothing of them. There are froggy folk in the bogs, not quite part of the Tripartite Realm, and not quite part of the Wurderlands, and they seem happy enough in their soggy logs. Perhaps they're the ones who have the right idea, and you should beseech Zaba to become as they. Ah, Lord Zaba! Grant us flies!

Zaba is just Bobugbubilz, the default DCC frog god, with a name from Lungfungus's own frog cult and lore from my world, so I am too lazy to repost the book info here (Plus it might be illegal, idk)


Anyway...
OUR LADY OF GARDENS
Quick Priest Info
May turn mutants, monsters that have at least one part being from a real animal, undead, and killer plants.

Sacrifices to reduce disapproval are monster sacrifices or finely bred animals who go to the altar ready to be reborn again, and of course gold. All gods hunger for gold.

Opposed alignments are pretty much anyone who tries to use chaotic powers for personal benefit, and anyone chivalrous is likely good enough to count as a similar alignment.

She does sponsor wizards who work as court sorcerers and protectors of the realm, rather than the usual power-mad lunatics though.

Invoke Patron Results.
12-13- Our Lady is otherwise engaged, but sends a horde of cooing doves to provide concealment to the caster and bafflement to the enemy that lasts 1d6 rounds and acts mostly helpfully to the caster. If falling petals or leaves, wheat chaff, etc would serve just as well, that will be the manifestation instead.

14-17- A faithful but otherwise unremarkable animal arrives to assist the caster, having been in the vicinity thanks to Our Lady's foresight. Though free of societal obligations, they will wish to return to their farm sooner or later.
1-Donkey 2-Cow 3-Sheep 4-Pig 5-Goat 6- Rooster

18-19- The Lady, having foreseen these events, sends forth a 3HD lowborn Knight Errant, Royal Forester, Masked Knight, Steel Nun, Hellknight, or whichever mighty devotee of the lady is most appropriate. They arrive as soon as plausible and aid for about an hour (though as a living being, this is subject to their own discretion)

20-23- The Lady dispatches an Animal Saint from the netherworld to aid the invoker. These beings are the platonic ideal of their species, essentially creatures with all 18's in their stats, max HP, etc etc.
1-Horse 2- Cow 3-Sheep 4-Pig 5-Goat- 6-Dove. These creatures will serve the faithful as best they can, with no fear of death

24-27- An ancient hero is temporarily awakened, arriving in spirit form with 5HD, similar ghost-gear to those of the 18-19 result,  and similar terms of aid (though limited to sunrise or sundown, whichever is sooner).

28-29- A Pseudodryad is temporarily awakened from nearby plant life, which is miraculously domesticated. All small nearby animals will take the side of the dryad, and the dryad may cause small plants to trip and entangle the casters foes, while larger trees may be capable of bludgeoning them. After 2d6 rounds, the plants will return to their default state, but the small creature (if any) will remain friendly and aid the caster by guiding them to safety as best they can.
If the terrain does not support this, use the lower result.

30-31- A Winged Matchmaker (Converted Foocubus) descends from the sky clad in white and green silk veils and robes if the crisis is social (or best served by a hasty aerial extraction), and wielding a cannon in one hand and silver scythe in the other if the crisis is best served by reducing the forces of chaos to bloody ruination.

Nintendo can't sue me for this abominable image edit because my flatmate bought fire emblem!

32+ Whispers in the clergy and the dreams of nobles grants the petitioner one favor from the highest Liege of the realm, and a Foocubus is dispatched as above to ensure the petitioners's request reaches the High Queen (or whoever), and that they survive to hear back from their liege.


Patron Taint-As Our Lady is against mutation and corruption, this is more akin to the Three Fates patron taints in DCC, but distinct enough (due to Our Lady also not approving of self-mutilation) that they must be described here. Once a caster has performed all three levels of all 6 'taints' no further patron taint need be rolled, and they become immune to mutation as a Cleric of Our Lady.

Upon completing all 3 stages of any one result, the caster is cured of 1d3 mutations as a show of thanks from Our Lady.

So long as something remains uncompleted, Our Lady may restrict access to invocations and patron spells at her discretion to remind the wizard of their unfulfilled bargain.
1- The Quest-The caster believes they are mentally falling into corruption and perversity, and must work harder to beat back chaos lest their principles become compromised.  The first quest is to find a tainted chaos-relic within 1d4 days travel time and destroy it (if any such items are owned by the party, they may be the most eligible targets). If rolled again, the quest is to hunt a chaos-beast of fell renown within 1d4 weeks travel. At the final roll, the quest is to slay or convert the current Dark Lord.
2- The Mirror- The caster becomes aware that their 2nd order reflection (their reflection's reflection) has crossed over into the waking world to destroy them. It is 1d4 days distant  and driven to slay the caster, and has a mutation the caster does not.
When rolled again, it will be a 3rd order reflection, be 1d4 weeks distant and working to undermine the casters reputation, and be 1d3 levels and mutations mightier than the caster.
If rolled for a final time, it will be a Champion of Lumar* and will have established a corrupt mirror-verse citadel populated by fiends and be 1d6 levels and mutations advanced beyond the casters feeble powers, and it will seek to corrupt the caster by showing them the power they have denied themselves by following Our Lady, and destroy all they love to prove their superiority.
*Not the prime lumar though, but a higher-order reflection of her, sometimes called Dark Lumar
3-Tenet of Generosity- The caster feels obliged to atone for the various crimes they have probably either been part of or begrudgingly overlooked while part of a party of adventurers. They will offer all obviously stolen goods to the nearest temple, and a 20% tithe of their monetary worth besides.
If rolled again, they will once more offer all indubitably wrongfully obtained goods to the temple for redistribution, and furthermore offer up a third of their magic items.
The final roll will require the mage to return all wrongfully obtained items to their original owners (or their graves) personally, and donate another 30% of monetary worth to the temple for good measure, as well as the item the GM wants to get rid of the most- I mean, their most prized possession.
4- Tenet of Humility- The caster will forsake a random spell forever, deeming it some combination of too dangerous to exist in civilized society and/or a bad influence on them due to its eldritch and probably corrupting nature. This may repeat up to three times, after which the caster deems themselves disciplined enough to handle any suspicious spells remaining in their pool of knowledge.
5-Tenet of Selflessness- The caster feels obliged to seek out a worthy mortal and grant them their hearts desire, as a way of showing their study of magic does indeed benefit others. If rolled again, they will, in adopted Saresaren custom, grant three wishes to the next person they meet upon a paved road of the Tripartite Realm (they are free to do dickass genie moves to ensure the wishes are not dangerous to society of course). The final task is to swear themselves to an appropriate noble court as court sorcerer and work from a place of high renown to watch over and protect society.
6-Matchmaker- To ensure people find their One True Love (and maintain good deific relations with the Foocubi and Saint Bridget) the wizard must solve the difficulties plaguing a couple so that they may live happily ever after.
The first issue is a simple affair, likely between peasants of a village no more than 1d4 days away.
The second issue is a tangled affair, likely between differing social classes or rival families, no more than 1d4 weeks away.
The final issue is a thorny mess involving competing Foocubi trying to maintain defunct bloodlines, issues of succession, and multiple noble families, and will require a trip to the capital.

Spellburn Results
1-
The caster must briefly justify the use of these chaotic sorcerous powers to Our Lady. While 'self-preservation' is usually satisfying in many adventuring scenarios, good reasons that protect society at large may grant an extra +1 bonus to the spellcheck, and bad reasons and worse excuses may cause Our Lady to negate the benefits of the spellburn entirely.
2- The caster's spellburn is aided by a Winged Matchmaker, and agrees to go on a date with an eligible suitor at the next opportunity, or if the caster is already satisfying this, agrees to set up an acquaintance on such a date.
3-The caster's spellburn is aided by the lingering covenant with a past Sun(Riikhus), and gains +1 to the spellcheck if an appropriate sun is visible and overhead, but -1 otherwise.
4- The caster's attempt to call on further power goes unheard, and fails (expending no burn but wasting the turn) unless they resort to a forbidden chaos ritual. The stat damage is guilt and shame mostly, and doing this in front of the faithful of Our Lady would surely merit severe punishment regardless of circumstance.

Patron Spells
Domesticate
Level:4 Range: Touch Duration:Permanent Save: Yes
Our Lady of Gardens offers a covenant to wild creatures to trade the freedom of the wild for the security of living among human society. If the creature accepts(fails its save), it will change in form and thought as Our Lady wills and become a domesticated version of itself. This is a spell that channels Our Lady directly, and is usually reserved for great rituals. Clerics who serve Our Lady may learn it too.
Manifestation-
1-
The caster kneels and extends a hand to the beast in question- if it places a paw or head upon the hand, the deed is done. 2- The caster offers a leash for the beast to bind itself and waits. 3- The caster speaks in the unintelligible tongue of the divine as Our Lady speaks through them to the beast directly 4-The caster and target's eyes glow white-green as they have discourse in the spirit realm with Our Lady.
Corruption- n/a, always Patron Taint
Nat 1-Lost, Failure, Patron Taint
2-11- Lost, Failure
12-17- Failure, but not lost.
18-19- If the beast fails its save, it will not be domesticated, but will be pacified and leave the caster and associates be.
20-23- The beast is soothed, though not tamed or domesticated, and may aid the caster so long as it need not go outside its normal life excessively.
24-25- The beast is domesticated, but not trained. Its natural attacks decrease by 1 die stage and it loses chaos mutations and so on and becomes fluffier and friendlier and generally more appealing. It may aid the caster and even follow them back to civilization, but it is more like a cat doing its own thing than a trained dog.
26-28- The beast is tamed and domesticated. It will aid the caster outside the scope of its usual life (such as acting as a beast of burden or a steed) but will require constant training and will take up a retainer slot, or two if it has more HD than the caster.
29-33- The beast is trained, tamed, and domesticated on the spot. It requires only amateur maintenance training to keep it able to carry, sic, stay, and so on.
34-35- As above, but the beast is also fond of the caster, essentially becoming a pet.
36-37- All beasts directly related to the target beast are tamed as well, and other beasts present will be soothed as per 20-23.
38+ The entire local population of the beast's species comes into the fold of Our Lady at varying levels of training, and becomes part of human society in short order.

Lady's Scythe-(Variant Blade of Atropos)
The scythe is an uncouth peasants tool, yes, but it is also a symbol of harvesting and cutting down Our Lady's enemies. Various other tools appear at lower levels of casting, but all serve the same purpose
Level:1 Range: Self  Duration:Varies Save:n/a
Manifestation-
1- The caster pulls the weapon from thin air 2- An existing item transforms into Our Lady's Scythe 3-Light bends to create the weapon of shining energy 4- An existing item crackles with white and green lightning, with spectral force extending from it to shape the weapon
Nat 1- Lost, Failure, Patron Taint
2-11- Lost, Failure
12-13- A shining silver set of pruning shears appears. It is a magical weapon that strikes at +1 to hit (+3 vs chaos monsters) and 2d4+Caster Level damage, and things like small tentacles, horns, claws, eyestalks, etc may be clipped through upon each hit. Lasts 1d3+Caster Level Rounds.
14-17- As above, but a silver sickle with +2 to hit (+4 vs anathema) and dealing 2d6+CL damage, lasting 1d4+CL rounds, and able to slice off larger monstrous appendages (never limbs though- the idea is to prune dangerous/mutant features, not maim)
18-19- As above, but a full scythe with +3 to hit (+5 vs anathema) dealing 2d8+CL damage and lasting 1d6+CL rounds.
20-23- As above, but two such weapons appear and the caster may dual-wield them without penalty, and the duration is 1d8+CL rounds.
24-27- As above, but a third weapon may be wielded in the caster's mouth, the duration is 1d10+CL rounds, and they inflict 2d10+CL damage, and they attack at +4, +6 vs anathema to hit.
28-29- As above, but the weapons attack at +5, +7 vs anathema, deal 2d12+CL, and last 1d12+CL rounds. Anathema may now have limbs severed if they fail Will saves.
30-31- As above, but attacking at +6, +8 vs anathema,  dealing 2d14+CL and lasting 1d14+CL rounds, and anathema may be cut out of their armor or away from their shadows or enchantments if they fail a will save when struck
32+As above, but attacking at +7, +9 against anathema, dealing 2d16+CL and lasting 1d16+CL rounds, and slaying (via decapitation or bisection) anathema struck who fail a will save.

Magical Transformation Rabbit Guardian Ronya- This patron spell is shared by all the patrons described here (Even Zaba, due to the results of a Log-Hopping contest in ages past) and has its own section at the end due to its lore being shared by the gods, but ultimately more of a realm-based thing.



The head of Murulu, ever changing, gazes over Wyrdton, the rest of the body buried in the earth, at the center of the strangest (and therefore holiest) parts of town.

MURULU, LORD OF CALAMITIES

Quick Cleric Info
May turn humans, elementals, disease spirits, and domestic animals.

Sacrifices to reduce disapproval are offerings ones own body (a finger being one point, an eye being 5 an entire limb being 10) which may result in the offered body part either being cut loose, horribly and permanently diseased, or mutated beyond recognition and function. Causing a calamity may reduce disapproval but is more likely to be an undertaking as payment for intervention. All gods hunger for gold.

Though the Calamitous Lord is open to all manner of things others find terrible, it is worth clarifying that the monsters Murulu likes are the sorts of things that are different beings trying to live in the world, sometimes conflicting with humanity, but NOT things like nightmare entities which only exist to be horrible things to torment people and have no place in the sane world.

Her chaotic energies are offered quite freely to those who accept transforming themselves, making her a popular patron for rogue sorcerers.

Invoke Patron Results. Calamities are not really dogs (or they would be the purview of the Jackal God of Yuba) but the metaphor of them being baying hounds leashed by Murulu is well-established. While Murulu has dominion over other calamities (locust swarms, plague, mutilation and mutation) these elemental wraths are the ones most suitable for saving an invoker's bacon.


If not mentioned, the duration goes on as long as Murulu cares to allow it, regardless of the caster's wishes.
12-13- The dread gaze of Murulu falls upon the area briefly. For 1d6 rounds, ill-luck plagues the invokers enemies, causing new wounds received to fester and attract disease spirits, limbs and more to be mangled on critical hits, and crumbling cliff faces, sucking mud, or collapsing roofs all become very likely.

14-17- Pup Tremor sniffs and strains at the leash, knocking the caster's enemies prone and overturning buckets, lanterns, etc, possibly collapsing already compromised structures.

18-19- Fog creeps into the area, limiting visibility to about 5 feet and stifling scent and sound.

20-23- Playful Whirlwind is unleashed to bedevil the land, blinding those within the tiny tornado (30' radius and 1000' tall) blocking flight and missile fire through the winds so long as the caster concentrates, but no longer than 13 rounds (as well as the other expected effects of  dust devil). Those inside may be buffeted by swirling objects each round (1d4 for assorted rubbish but increases with larger/sharper/harder things)

24-27- Younger Flood is unleashed, drowning the local area in 2d6 feet of water, washing enemies who fail to save prone and drowning and washing them away until they can get out of the current. Aboveground this takes the form of a torrential downpour, underground, a sudden gushing spring.

28-29- Storm, the grey hound, arrives howling, rain and hail nearly horizontal with the force of the wind, sand and anything loose blown away. Hearing and missile fire is impossible, and those outside will only bear the lashings of the storm if their morale is nigh-unbreakable, and even then they will be battered and bruised if not heavily armored, and risk lightning strikes if they are clad in metal.

30-31- The barely-leashed she-wolf Earthquake barks, and one of her pups answers the call- if there is a slope nearby or underground, Avalanche, Rockslide, Mudslide , or Cave-in buries the casters enemies until they can make a DC20 save to escape. If there is no slope, Sinkhole answers, casting the casters enemies into a pit 30' deep, and on the ocean, dread Tsunami answers, overturning ships that fail their save and flooding towns.

32+ The most terrible hound of Murulu, Volcano, stirs, a fiery crack opening and spewing forth lava at a slow, but not slow enough, pace. Those present have one round to get off the ground, or take 5d6 damage per round they wade through lava. Further heights must be sought as the burning earth swallows all before it, though it will cool to rock soon enough, probably.


Patron Taint-
As usual, once each result is gained 3 times, further patron taint is ignored.
1- Random mutation. Upon rolling this result a third time, the caster is no longer vulnerable to monsterization from too many mutations.
2-The caster becomes a veritable lightning rod for natural disasters- there is a 1% chance upon spell casts that a random disaster will strike the area soon after. Increase this chance to 3%, then 5% when re-rolled.
3- Random disease. Upon the third roll, the caster becomes unable to die from disease/parasite, but also is automatically infected by any exposure to diseases. They also gain +1 to spellchecks while diseased (possibly per disease).
4-Random curse (I don't have a good go-to for curses yet). Upon the third result, +1 to spellchecks while cursed (possibly per curse)
5-Each time rolled, choose one you have not chosen before- Lose a limb. Lose all conventional beauty standards, lose a sense. Once all three are rolled, you will be visited by the three fellow murulu disciples who received these lost gifts, and they will bear either gifts or a favor to you for your donations.
6-Add a Mercurial Magic/Spell Mutation to the spell cast. You gain +1 to spellchecks with these doubly-mutated spells.

Random Calamities-

  1. Flood
  2. Collapse (cavern or architecture)
  3. Earthquake
  4. Avalanche/Rock/Mudslide
  5. Sinkhole
  6. Drought
  7. Famine
  8. Locusts
  9. Plague
  10. Hurricane
  11. Tornado
  12. Sand Storm
  13. Blizzard
  14. Whirlpool/Riptide
  15. Wildfire
  16. Invasion/Revolution
  17. Curse
  18. Fog
  19. Tsunami
  20. Volcano

Spellburn Results-
1- The caster cuts, burns, etc themselves deeply, harming physical stats and leaving a thick scar, marking them as glorified to Murulu.
2- The caster snips off part of themselves- an earlobe, a fingernail, a toe joint, etc, the minor but permanent mutilation
3- The caster is called upon to host a random disease spirit in addition to the usual spellburn results
4- The caster is called upon to trade an existing mutation for a new random one in addition to the usual spellburn results.


Adherents of Murulu in most the world are mostly just missing bits or with extra bits, but in the depths of her holy city in the Wurderlands, things get weirder as you go deeper in, and end up completely unrecognizable as being anything save for that which they are.

Transcend Form
Murulu cares not at all for the standardized forms of so called 'species,' and allows casters to assume monstrous and unique forms that allow them to do things they could only dream of before. As with most polymorph style spells, mutations and mutilations remain (a one-eyed, lizard tailed human turns into a one-eyed, lizard tailed wolf if they were turned into a wolf, for example) but they are enhanced (in the above example, the transformation would result in a wolf with a single powerful eye rather than be 'missing' an eye, and the tail would provide lizardlike advantages rather than just being a hairless scaly wolf tail).
The transformation does nothing to those who have no wounds or mutations, and requires some back-and-forth discussion and pre-emptive work to determine what the precise outcome is, (and this updates with each new mutation or mutilation) but the outcome should be pleasing to the transformed person and has broad tweaks available. Items may remain worn, or be shed depending on the details of the transformation and preferences of the wearer.
Level:3 Range: Touch  Duration:Varies Save:Willing Only
Manifestation
1-
The transformed twists and boils like molten clay shaping itself into the form
2- The transformed hatches from their own body like a butterfly from a chrysalis
3- The transformed turns inside out, with the inside being the outside of the new form
4- The transformed becomes a spinning, glowing pastel silhouette, which resolves into the transcended form.
Nat 1- Lost, Failure, Patron Taint
2-11- Lost, Failure
12-15- Failure, but spell is not lost
16-17- The caster or target briefly transforms into a monstrous form for Caster Level rounds. Though the transformation is largely cosmetic and unstable and grants no added benefits, it removes penalties from mutation/mutilation while active ands heals HP=CL as wounds close and will end bleeding effects. This healing and all associated healing effects of later results only apply once per day.
18-20- The target transforms for a full CL minutes, healing HP as above and gaining a power related to their favorite mutilation/mutation, as well as any obvious changes to locomotion and environmental survival (such as a fish tail allowing swimming and underwater breathing).
21-24-The target transforms  for a turn(10min) per CL and gains up to half the extraordinary capabilities from enhanced mutations and mutilations, as well as the benefits stated above.
25-29- The target transforms for 1 hour per CL, and gains all the blessings from the marks of Murulu and above entries they bear so long as they are transformed, but heal HP=CLx2
30-32- The transformation lasts for either 24 hours or until the transformed wishes to end it prematurely, but is otherwise as the above entry with healing equal to HP=CLx3
33-35- As above, but the HP of the transformed heals entirely to full.
36+  The change is permanent. Further mutations and mutilations will warp the form to accommodate and enhance the form.

Beautify
Level:1 Range:
Touch Duration: Permanent Save: None Allowed
Called most small-mindedly by most people 'Corrupt' or 'The Vile Touch' this spell channels the powers of Murulu into the caster and allows them to spread mutation, mutilation, disease and calamity with just a touch. To the faithful of murulu it is a blessing and enhancement, to those who cling to their transient forms, it is among the most menacing and terrifying of powers.
Manifestation
1-
The caster's hand (or hand-analogue) becomes shrouded in pulsing dark purple energy with flashing lightning within.
2- The casters primary touching appendage temporarily morphs into a knobbly, pustule laden tentacle dripping with slime.
3- The caster's tongue turns to a scorpion's tail, laden with a mutagenic sting.
4- The caster's entire body becomes slick with rainbow slime to flow onto and reshape those who are held.

1- Failure, lost, Patron Taint
2-11- Failure, lost
12-13- The caster may touch one living target and grant it a blessing or curse from Murulu, the difference being a matter of perspective. This requires a to-hit as usual.
14-15- The caster may touch one living or nonliving target and grant it a blessing from Murulu.This requires a to-hit as usual. Inanimate objects afflicted by disease act as a living creature would, grow mutations, or lose roughly equivalent parts according to on-the spot rulings.
16-18- The channelled energies persist within the caster for 1d3+CL rounds, allowing for multiple blessings to be given out.
19-20- The channelled energies persist within the caster for 1d6+CL rounds, allowing for multiple blessings to be distributed.
21-23- The channelled energies persist within the caster for 1d8+CL rounds, and may distribute them 2 per round, with no penalty for 'dual wielding' their unarmed touches.
24-27- The channelled energies persist within the caster for 1d10+CL rounds, and may distribute them 2 per round, with no penalty for 'dual wielding' their unarmed touches. Furthermore, anyone touching or even striking the caster with weapons without great reach will be granted a blessing as well.
28-31-The channelled energies persist within the caster for 1d12+CL rounds, and radiate out both via physical touch and unspeakable energies such that, if the caster is taking action to deliver blessings, all who come within 5' will receive one.
32+ The caster is entrusted by Murulu herself with the decision of what blessings to deliver, and may pick specific mutations, mutilations, diseases, etc to dispense for 1d20+CL rounds with direct touches (2 per round) and those who are within 5' will be affected as well.

Blessings of Murulu
Roll 1d4 for the enemies of Murulu, 1d6 for most targets, and 1d8 for the faithful of Murulu.
1-Mutilation- lose eye, ear, nose, mouth and associated senses, or a limb, or something else. This is painless and inflicts no damage for the faithful, but does inflict damage to the enemies of Murulu equal to CLd4 due to morale loss and fear. Inanimate targets just suffer rust, cracks, and other destruction.
2-Disease- Disease spirit or corporeal parasite comes to co-habitate for a while, immediately inflicting one instance of its effects. Ghul fever not included.
3-Curse! A tenacious and hard to get rid of spellwisp with an odd effect comes to haunt the target.
4- Negative Mutation
5-  Random Mutation.
6+ Positive Mutation

Magical Transformation Rabbit Guardian Ronya- This patron spell is shared by all the patrons described here (Even Zaba, due to the results of a Log-Hopping contest in ages past) and has its own section at the end due to its lore being shared by the gods, but ultimately more of a realm-based thing.

THE FAIRY QUEEN

Is, like Zaba, just a slightly reimagined DCC patron, in this case the King of Elfland.
In winter, the spell Forest Walk becomes Ice Walk and some minor changes to patron taint that are indeed so minor I don't think they're worth getting into here, and of course has the final spell.



But with a shield, not a sword, innit

Magical Transformation Rabbit Guardian Ronya
A rabbit heroine of past ages (and player character of past campaign) whose heroic spirit lives on, not in the temples of the nobility, but in the land itself, possessing any who are good of heart to battle wickedness in all its forms. Many of the Chosen of Ronya are often not intentional, but incidental champions who answer the call to fight villainy in the moment, but find their own skills and strength lacking, and so they may transform into an avatar of the rabbit to do battle

The enemies of Ronya are criminals of both the cruel brigand and heartless noble variety alike, and monsters of the truest sense of the word- nightmare things that have no place in the waking world. Only a single avatar of Ronya exists at a given time, and in the event opposing sides both attempt to call upon this spell, only the most worthy will be answered, though in the cases of morally grey circumstance, sometimes Ronya's invocation appears only to put an end more to the conflict itself than to win it for either side.

Anyone who has stood up for the weak and brought tyrants low may earn a point of favor and be able to call upon this transformation, but certain prayers(cleric versions), ghost-calling rituals, and so on are used by the powers of the Tripartite Realm and beyond to invoke the power of this peasant's hero. As Ronya is the true patron of the spell, it comes with its own misfires and corruptions and is subject to the ancient warrior's will alone, so it cannot be abused for wickedness.
Level: 2 Range: Self  Duration: 1 conflict Save: n/a
Manifestations
1- The caster's body morphs into that of  3 foot tall bipedal rabbit-woman, and their gear to plate armor and a shield.
2-The caster vanishes in a swirling pastel tornado of sparkles, and Ronya emerges.
3- The caster slaps the ghost-hand of Ronya and tag-teams out of the material realm as Ronya enters the wrestling ring. I mean, the scene.
4- The caster has a ghostly appearance of Ronya standing behind them, and they and the shadow act as Ronya would, imbued with the strength of myth both physically and spiritually.
Misfires
1-
Caster craves carrots as if addicted, unable to perform tasks longer than a minute due to looking for carrots until either 1d6 hours pass or carrots are had.
2- Random nearby animal's behavior becomes that of a rabbit for 1d6 hours.
3- Rabbits attracted to caster and follow them in increasing hordes for a night and a day.
4- Nearest weapon transformed into shield. Magical items get a saving throw, but transformation is permanent.

Corruptions
1-Caster must attempt to cast this spell whenever they are exposed to carrots or are tempted by a character flaw that Ronya is trying to break them away from.
2-Caster becomes female if previously male.
3-Caster loses one foot of height, down to minimum size of a rabbit.
4-Caster sprouts rabbit ears, tail, fur. Eating rabbit counts as cannibalism from now on and will deny use of this spell (and you're on very thin ice before hand if you know this spell and be eating rabbit).
5-Caster's memories become muddled with that of Ronya and all those who have gotten this corruption.
6-Caster stalked by the Rabbit(less) Moon, or more precisely but less concisely, inherits an ancient meta-grudge from something from Beyond

 

Nat 1- Failure, Lost, and Misfire or Corruption. 1-2 corruption, 4-6 Misfire
2-11- Failure, Lost
12-13- Failure, not lost
14-15- Brief transformation allows the caster to take a hit targeted against an ally to themselves this round, reducing damage dealt by 12 and preventing associated effects (poison, etc) if the damage is reduced to 0.
16-19- Caster transforms into Ronya until the crisis is averted, fighting with +CL to hit, a shield bash that deals 1d6+CL subdual damage, AC as plate+shield, movement as unarmored human+leaping, and the ability to take hits aimed at a single guarded ally and reduce the damage of these hits by 1d12
20-22- As above, but Ronya's personality and experience shines through more, inflicting double damage and doubling the guard damage reduction against the following foes- Dragons, Thieves, Wizards, Clockwork Automata, Wolves, and Nobles.
23-26- As above, but the shield bash increases to 1d8+CL, the AC to Plate +3, the move to 150% human speed, and gaining an extra 10 bonus HP which are taken by Ronya and damage to this buffer HP will not be lost by the caster at the end of the transformation.
27-29- As above, but the shield bash increases to 1d10+CL, the move to 200% human speed, 15 bonus HP,  and all adjacent to Ronya may be guarded simultaneously.
30-33- As above, with a 1d12+CL shieldbash, AC as plate +5, 20 bonus HP,  and a guarded damage reduction of 1d20.
34+ As above, but with a 1d12+CL shieldbash, 30 bonus HP, and all allied with Ronya may be guarded simultaneously regardless of distance. Additionally, with this state of transformation, anything may be leapt over with a round of preparation, though the leap itself may take longer to complete.

I think future posts better be limited to a single patron...

Friday, August 28, 2020

Several Styles of 'Speak With Magic'

There are a lot of niche spells (Detect Magic, Read Magic, Write Magic, Identify) that make up 'magic literacy' and are often ignored or consigned to the cantrip bin or reimagined as class abilities. I rolled them up into a single spell, given by default to all casters. It's been a big hit and dare I say a defining feature of magic in my games, and seeing as how I have to do a lot of typing to attune it to the DCC wizard in my new campaign, I figured it could make for a blog post.

For a level 1 spell, it is extremely broadly applicable and useful to magical problems, but it naturally falls flat at solving non-magical problems. My experience has been that characters prepare it when they are unsure of what they will encounter, but preferably if they have a backup spell like Magic Missile or similar. Wizards will also prepare it in the hopes of catching new spells when they DO know of interesting magical effects to speak to, or if they are just very optimistic and confident that the party can handle themselves. It has aspects of Dispel Magic, the idea of 'counterspelling,' can double as a 'detect invisible/hidden beings' in a pinch, and is a general 'turn a magic problem into a roleplay problem' utility option that I think makes interacting with the arcane more of a roleplaying opportunity and less of a 'quibble over the semantics of the rulebook' time waste.

Speak With Magic- This "spell" is common to all magic users, divine and arcane alike, and is essentially projecting ones soul half out of the body and into the dreamrealm, allowing one to see and communicate with spellwisps, demons, gods, and all manner of supernatural beings that otherwise are not-quite present in the waking world. People unskilled in magic can sometimes pull it off with Blue Lotus, psychedelic mushrooms, and even vivid dreams, but wizards and such are trained to enter this state reliably and voluntarily. It is how wizards gather their spells and how clerics pray to the divine, and thus it is a technique that all users of supernatural forces must know, and have no need of a spellbook (or similar) to memorize.

It allows one to see enchantments and magical effects and to speak with them. Most arcane spellwisps are alien beings that only think in terms of what they do- ie, a burning hands spellwisp might wish to burn things, and remembers only things it has burned. Satisfying a spellwisps requirements (typically via offering appropriate subject matter to be subjected to the spell of value equal to 500 coins per spell level) will usually allow a spellcaster to add an arcane spellwisp to their collection of learned spells. Allowing the spellwisp to affect the caster and/or party members is often a good enough deal as well, especially for damaging and debilitating spells. This sort of negotiation can even get wizards to be able to utilize spells without the usual memorization and level requirements, like convincing a wall of ice to move into the shade, or convincing a spent Fireball spell to activate again at the chance to ignite a bunch of lamp oil-soaked wooden puppets. An additional round of convincing per spell level is decent shorthand for how long such negotiations take, but all is at the GM's discretion (a reaction roll for the spellwisps may be appropriate as well).

When it comes to items, wisps can be very forthcoming and ready to explain their operation, cryptic or riddling and prone to telling stories of past deeds rather than present details, or recalcitrant and reluctant to reveal their secrets to those they do not deem worthy. For instance, a magic sword probably wishes to show off in battle, not play twenty questions with a twig-armed wizard, and cursed objects often lie or ignore attempts to discern their functioning. Potions tend to be barely sentient conglomerates of fractional souls and are better off examined physically with licking and feeding to rats, and rings and other 'passive' effects are notoriously subtle and secretive. Items with 'charges' tend to be the easiest to identify, because the stored wisps want to be used and released (and the main gameplay action is not identifying them, but resource management anyway).

Language barriers can stymie attempts to understand spellwisps- the wisps of an elf may indeed speak only elvish, for instance(quick note: in my game, elvish spells are almost invariably fairies), or they may be too alien to even speak any humanish tongue, instead requiring interpretation of behavior, miming, and all manner of experimentation. This is why it does not double as a 'speak with anything' spell- A basilisk, for instance, has a magical effect, sure, but the magical effect is their own body and soul, and when you speak with it with this spell, it is still a basilisk and not say, the ghost of a medusa (a possible spellwisp for 'Flesh to Stone.')

The spell is not without risk. A good analogy is poking your head into a pool to speak with a shark- it probably won't bite your head off, and you can probably pull your head back in time, but you are still poking your soul into an environment you are not native to, and dealing with beings you do not 100% understand.

Vancian Style-Level One  Range (60') Duration (1 turn/level).
For divine or demonic miracles, the operator of spells from levels 1-3 is usually some manner of cherub, imp, or otherwise small servitor being, with levels 4-5 being run by more powerful angels, devils, etc, and 6+ opening a direct channel of communication to deities and other god-like entities.

GLOG Style- Duration [[Sum]] Rounds, up to [dice] different targets may be more specifically spoken with/identified simultaneously, with further targets merely being noted as bearing a wisp or not.
Spells convinced to act for or against the caster activate with 1 less die than was used in the Speak With Magic spell.
This spell should probably not have normal mishaps, as it is not a part of typical wizardry and is merely your own soul getting chatty. Using the DCC Misfires is my recommendation if the extra book-keeping seems worthwhile

DCC
Style- Replaces Read Magic & Detect Magic, and all mages know it. It may be used to Counterspell (as per the counterspell spell duel rules) any spell, but only if they are able to convince the spellwisp very quickly.
Level 1 Duration- Varies. Range- 30' feet or more Casting Time 1 Round. Save: Will vs DC Spell Check (Sometimes)
Manifestation-
1- Caster's Eyes glow and reflect the realm of spellwisps
2- Caster's spirit emerges halfway from their body
3- Caster's eyes close, a third eye opens on their forehead
4-Caster speaks in the voices of the spirits
Misfires
1-Caster inadvertently annoys spellwisp to the point of immediate hostility
2-Caster can only speak to spirits and spells for 1d6 hours
3-Caster blinded to real world for 1d3 hours, able to only see the dreamrealms
4-Caster accidentally activates nearby magic item or effect
5-Caster takes 1d3 damage to Int, Wis, and Cha as they lose touch with the waking world
6-Caster manifests spellwisp into waking world for 1d3 rounds (such beings, when not demons, tend to be strange aberrations with HD=Spell Level x2)
Corruptions
1-2-Caster gains minor cosmetic mutation based on a detected spellwisp
3- Spellwisp Breeding- Caster rerolls Mercurial Magic results for a spell/Spell Mutation
4-Caster grows third, blind eye on forehead. It does have vision in the dreamrealms though.
5-Caster can see spellwisps out of the corner of their eye-only with enough detail to be annoying
6-Caster possessed by spellwisp, which can attempt to cause the caster to take actions pleasing to it
1- Lost, Failure, and worse! Roll 1d6 modified by luck- 1 or less, Corruption, 2+, Misfire
2-11- Lost, Failure.
12-13- The caster glimpses the eldritch realm for but a moment, and becomes aware of magical effects within range. It lacks differentiation- ie, a warrior with a magic sword would ping as 'having more than one spirit' with no further detail, as would someone who was possessed. Entities wishing to conceal themselves may save vs spell to lurk in blindspots and evade detection (which is easier than it sounds, as the very air and earth have souls as well so the wizard vision can easily be distracted or mistaken against the chaotic backdrop)

A single question or sentence can be asked and answered of a located spellwisp, assuming it is cooperative. This is probably not enough to get immediate aid unless the caster is already very favorable to the spellwisp's motives and nothing extraordinary is asked.

A yard/meter of wood or earth, an inch of metal, or a foot of stone is sufficient to block this spell from noticing things. Lead is especially effective and even wafer-thin plating may provide concealment.
14-17- As above, but no save to hide is allowed as the vision is clearer, and the effect lasts for one turn, enough to have a conversation and greater understanding with spellwisps that are not secretive or hostile to the mage. This level is required to have a chance of learning a spell for oneself, though of course the spellwisp must be appeased and the wizard must make their check to learn the spell as normal.
18-19 As above, but the vision is very clear- the caster may identify how many magical effects (such as a magic ring and sword wielded by an enemy, or remaining spells of a wizard) are present and, roughly speaking, how strong or weak they are. This level and higher is sufficient to decipher magic runes and symbols (such as dwarf-runes or the Symbols of power that are the transcriptions of Power Words) The effect lasts for 2 turns.
20-23- As above, but the vision will have great specificity with regards to planar coterminality- ghosts, demons, etc may be differentiated from spellwisps, and it can be easily ascertained if personal magics are due to innate powers (such as the semi-invulnerable scions of Oza) or external enchantments (a prince turned to a toad, or a quaffed potion). Furthermore, the duration is 3 turns.
24-27- As above, but the nature of the magics is revealed, even if the magics are not cooperative, due to great experience or lucky insight. A warded door can be revealed as being guarded by an 8d6 strength Fireball in the form of a dragon-ghost, a cursed sword's maliciousness can be revealed, and so on, providing enough information to utilize magic items and understand spell-motivations that are not truly extraordinary in their power or vagueness. If the caster wishes, they may show the miraculous sights to another and let them converse with the spirit realm as well.
28-29- As above, but with a greatly extended range of '120,' and all nearby allies may enjoy the benefits of the spell.
30-31- As above, but with duration of one day.
32+ As above, but with duration of one month. Generally only the most insane of sorcerers (or bored of elves) would wish to reach this level of effect.



Sunday, August 23, 2020

Elves, Ettins, Floating Eyes, Eyes of the Deep

AD&D Elves
It's largely understood that D&D elves are a rip off of Tolkein elves, but I think they were well along becoming their own thing even in the earlier editions of D&D that were straight up calling halfling 'hobbits.'

Anyway, they have the typical hominid thing of appearing in numbers of 20-200, and they have 1+1 HD by default, a hobgoblin equivalent. Multiclassing is explicitly their thing, and not just magic-user fighters- Cleric-Fighter is the explicitly mentioned combo. Once you get to 100+ elves or a lair, a bunch of high level multiclassed elves show up, in the form of fighter/MUs mainly but also a fair few fighter/MU/Clerics. Female elves are mentioned as 'appearing in equivalent numbers to the others' and there being 1 young per 20 elves, because it wouldn't be a real gygaxian entry on humanoids without casual sexism and a reminder to kill all the children.

Elves are woodland dwellers with a 65% chance to have 2d6 giant eagles guarding their 'lair' which is probably just token tolkeinism. Gear for the warrior elves is 10% with sword and bow, 20% with sword and spear, 20% with sword, 5% with 2-handed sword, 30% with spear, and 15% with bow only, with most in chain-adjacent armors and shields. This may be extra relevant because all the 'levelled' elves have a 10% per level per class of having a usuable magical items for the class and MUs of above level 4 have 1d4+1 magic items instead of just one.
1/20 elf bands will have 5d6 female fighters (called elfmaids) mounted on unicorns so I guess spoke too soon earlier, sexism in D&D is dead and Gygax killed it on page 39 of the AD&D MM. Just like he killed all the demihuman younglings

As some minor mechanical notes, elves have +1 to hit with swords and bows, a 4-in-6 chance to surprise in woodland settings (and being invisible in such setting so long as they don't attack), and a 90% chance to resist sleep and charm. They can also move, fire their bows, and move back all in the same round, making them basically unbeatable with hit-and-run guerrilla warfare against conventional foes.

In addition to their scads of magic items, they have a decent treasure type of G, S, and T in lair, which is basically dragon hoard-lite with extra scrolls and potions, and elves carry the only worthwhile individual treasure type N, which is1-6 platinum pieces each. In short, elves are stuffed to the gills with magic loot and it's no surprise people oft use elves as stand-ins for old-money capitalists.

Bonus Subtype Round
Aquatic Elves are friends with dolphins and enemies to sahuagin and sharks and 'attack either if the elves outnumber them.' This is poorly thought out because while 'they(elves) do not use magic and cannot forge underwater,' the Sahuagin have 2+2HD by default, superior senses and intellect, 3-5 unarmed attacks, natural armored hides, and clerics, so I see no possible way they would survive if their strategy was to attack with such a feeble advantage as 'numbers.'
They also have blue or green hair and greeny silver skin, which should be useful when describing Sahuagin furniture.

Drow only got their own proper entry in the Fiend Folio, and here are just blathered on about being mysterious and wicked, with I assume all the spidery matriarch stuff showing up in later publications. As a brief note on that later entry, suffice it to say they have altogether too many abilities for my liking, having a bunch of magic items (which decay in sunlight to prevent ridiculous power creep) magic resistance, stealth, a bunch of magic abilities based on either gender and/or level AND class levels and abilities to keep track of on top of all that does not appeal greatly to me.

Grey elves, noted as 'faerie' in parentheses, are 'noble' 'rare' 'powerful' but apart from bigger brains and some giffons/hippogriffs, are not actually the fey beings seen in, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're just double-elves with the oddly specicified sub-subtypes of silver hair and amber eyes (grey elf) or golden hair and violet eyes (Faerie).

Half-Elves (Or Helves if u ask me) are noted mainly in terms of how player characters play them.

Wood Elves are the dumb hunks of the elves, having extra strength but less intelligence and hang out with giant owls and lynx and have assorted pointless changes to weapon percentages and appearance.

While the Drow became wildly popular, there are some other sad elf subtypes in the later books I'll go over briefly-

Grugach- This pointless entry describes slightly buffer even more xenophobic Wood Elves who are also druids and trap-setters who make up 20% of 'wood elves'.

Valley Elf- The peak of pointless elvish palette swaps, these elves are gray elves from a Greyhawk location called the Valley of the Mage. With trivial improvements like AC4 instead of 5 and HD 1+2 instead of 1+1, it is impossible to say how many trees perished to bloat the Monster Manual II with this entirely unnecessary half-page of minutiae.

3.5 Elves
Largely a repeat of prior entries, with a sharp change in focus from the elves as 'band of humanoids to be encountered' to 'this is how your stats change if you play one as a character.' Apart from the drow entry being thankfully condensed and streamlined (though admittedly, also lacking in details), the only thing I find notable here is that Aquatic Elves are further doomed to become chum with a -2 intelligence score.

Ettin- See Giant entry later in this series. AD&D proclaims them to be closely related to Orcs, rather than just being two-headed giants, which is clearly a load of bunk that I shan't entertain a moment longer.

Floating Eye- In nethack, these creatures paralyze you when you smack 'em, and years later I'm still mad that I accidentally hit one while trying to clear out a monster zoo and was eaten by a lynx while paralyzed. In AD&D, they are weird monocular fish that paralyze you if you look at 'em and then you get eaten by predator fish companions. While I am not against 'paralyzing but weak eyeball monster' having them be wholly harmless (rather than, say, disgustingly parasitic) seems a lost opportunity, as does having them be a salt-water monster.

Eye of the Deep- A weird lobster-clawed aquatic beholder without the interesting facing-based magical death rays, instead just having a flashbang central eye and smaller eyes that can cast hold person or hold monster on their own, or an illusion together. I am curious as to whether anyone has ever used this creature instead of simply saying 'underwater beholder,' and what would motivate them to use the lobster knockoff instead of the classic.

Sunset Realm Elves


 
 I've gone over elves already a little bit here and have sat on this post so long I'll just rush through a quick history of elves in the realms.

Elves show up in the 2nd age around the fall of the Serpent Empire. They team up with animals and fight a horrifying war of fire and plague against the ghuls and dragons, eventually triumphing (this is where elvish immunity to ghul paralysis comes from). They then work with other early hominids(Svarts, Ningen) to create the Alfstar, the 3rd sun, in the intersolar period after Yg-A, the 2nd sun, is trapped at the center of the earth. Thusly situated, they laze around and stop being ash-clad muscle-barbarians and over centuries become jaded aesthete sorcerer-elites ruling over humans. Internal instability rises and the Witch-Queens overthrow the increasingly malevolent Alves, trapping them in the Iron Moon(the broken husk of the Alfstar) and forcing retreats to dream realms as humans gain dominance over the sunlit realms. Elves retreat to stagnant cities of silver and crystal to reincarnate endlessly through eternity, while the corrupted Alves scheme to regain their lost glory in culturally distinct ways depending on if they became the Seasonal Courts in the dreams of trees (Summer/Spring/Autumn) or ice (winter) or within the Iron Moon (Fomorians).

Quibbles over the details include whether the elves came from the outer darkness and are alien visitors, if they are just serpent-designed overengineered apes, or if they just developed alongside humans but 'won' the tech race, essentially being neanderthalesque.

Also in question is if the fall of the Elf Empire was really from civil war and an uprising of the human servant class, experimentation with darkness that retroactively altered those involved across space and time into hyperbolic fey A-holes (fay-holes?) explaining the Elf/Alf split, or if it was really just an embarassing economic collapse caused by an overeliance on fake leprechaun gold.

In any case, elves exist in part because it's expected. They're in the book, after all, not just in the monster section, but right there at the beginning, almost as sacred a cow as STR/DEX/CON/INT/WIS/CHA. Maybe they'll vanish from the realms someday like they never were, but for now, you can have a few elves. As a treat.