Monday, January 13, 2020

Demons part 3- The Lords of Nightmare and a Belated Overview of AD&D Demons as a whole.

OG Demon Lords
AD&D Demon/Devil Lords are among, if not the, most powerful beings in the monster manual. As such they rarely get used directly in most games, and mostly exist as Official D&D™ lore dumps you can look up online yourself far better than I'd explain 'em.

OG Demons- I find it interesting that the AD&D demons pretty much all have an amount of weight they can move via telekinesis listed in terms of gold pieces- like, that is prominently mentioned for demons. Sure they also tend to have levitation, and some sort of fear effect, often darkness, pyrotechnics, and polymorph self, and a variety of utility effects like language reading, detect magics, etc, but it really seemed like the big question about demons was 'how much treasure can it haul.'

Unlike many monsters, have motives ascribed to them.
Type I demons  like human flesh and precious stones and metals and are described as 'stupid and prone to listen to bribes.'
Type II demons are like type I, and animostity between these two types is noted.
Type III- n/a
Type IV- Noted to have names and to be 90% likely to listen to offers of great rewards for small services, as well as a fondness for human flesh and blood.
Type V- Noted to be feared by lesser demons as they are domineering and cruel, having names like type IV demons, and desiring the sacrifice of strong warriors to them.
Type VI- "With proper invoking, offerings, and promises, type VI demons might be convinced to co-operate with a character or a group for a time. Naturally, the demon will attempt to assume/usurp command at every opportunity."
Succubi- Rule lower demons through wit and threat.

By contrast Devils seem less inclined to negotiate as they are locked into a  rigid command structure of rulership.
Barbed devils are alert guards who immediately cast unauthorized creatures into cells for torment, Bone devils delight in making less powerful creatures suffer, Erinyes are pursuers and abductors of evil souls and engage in bargaining and temptation of others, Horn Devils hate things stronger than themselves.

Demons may be summoned by any alignment and types i-IV cannot cross thaumaturgic circles, and will never willingly serve (meaning they only do tasks that they believe they are getting the best deal from) and are likely to carry off 'Liked' individuals to be favored slaves. They are also warded off by holy relics and symbols.

The point of mentioning all this is that they seem custom built to  be puzzle encounters, and potential ways to carry more GP in a dungeon. Forget having slugathons with demons over moral differences, the way to deal with AD&D demons is to try to find their name, hide in/trick demons into thaumaturgic circles, and bribe them. This is basically what I was doing with Ifrits and Djinn already, so extending it to demons is my new go to.

3.5 Demons
 By contrast, the 3.5 entries merely  talk about how the demons prefer to battle, the Balor entry even giving round-by-round tactics to employ. There is no mention of thaumaturgic circles, repelling demons with holy icons, and certainly no assumption that a player might ever interact with one in any way besides punching it. While it would be easy to point at this as yet more proof that 3.5/PF are games about combat math above all else, it's worthwhile to remember the whole 'satanic panic' thing made the executives of D&D explicitly adopt some guidelines to affirm a sort of 'moral center' to defuse the shrieks of the religious authoritarians. While they were not adhered to with unwavering obedience, I expect in addition to renaming demons and devils 'Tan'ari and Baatezu,' making interactions with demons solely a matter of 'good guy vs bad guy' may have played a part in the dumbing down of demons from puzzle encounters to combat encounters.

I'd be curious if the 5e statblock has any non-combat interactions laid out for demons.

Sunset Realm Demons
 Any immortal spirit being with 6+ HD and a dead or forsaken creator deity is probably called a 'Demon.' Things spawned from mortal nightmare realms are typically called Nightmares instead, but it's basically the same thing- a being that lost its original purpose and has grown corrupt, predatory, and self serving (or started out that way, depending on their origin.). There's no great point in categorizing all of them, and most spells of level 4+ probably have a type of demon competing with spellwisps to be unleashed onto the waking world. Binding a demon as a spell is probably the most common form of a demon pact, though if their names are found they could be summoned for all manner of things. While not inherently 'evil' as standard D&D assumes, many of their desires may be at odds with human experience (Two demons in my current campaign want, respectively, rare and impressive legs, and to encase living beings in prisons of unusual solidified objects. They want these things in the same way humans want to eat tasty food and have satisfying social connections.)

Sunset Realm Demon Lords
There are two meanings for the term 'Demon Lord.' One is just words, applied to a demon who lords over things, or someone who lords over demons. These self-proclaimed or earned titles are basically just nicknames, no different from calling a king a 'Human Lord.'

The other meaning is in reference to things crawled from the deepest pits of nightmare, bad dreams with no dreamers, sprung from the edge of the unknowable darkness at the bottom of the collective consciousness that is the dream realm, and Demon God is more commonly used by sages who are wishing to be very clear on the matter (though it just obfuscates the issue in another way. Ah, language...). They are shaped by the dreams of all beings, and perhaps shape them in return, until it is unclear which created which, but unlike the desires of lesser demons, the Lords of Nightmare embody widespread feelings familiar to most people, and as such exist on a more transcendental scale compared to a demon that is basically just a rude spirit monster. Below are two such beings.
Unfortunately Mohawk Babyface was hated to death moments after the touching attempt to offer Isfrix a flower. A common demonic form of Cause Wounds/Magic Missile/Disintegrate/etc is stating things you hate about the target, invoking Isfrix, and then watching the target get scoured from existence. Isfrix hates everything so there's never restrictions on targeting, and most gods hate something, so they can't really complain about the occasional invocation of Isfrix from their clerics.
Isfrix, Lord of Hate- Possessed of equal and infinite hatred for all things, including itself, including the hatred for itself, including the hatred for the hatred for itself, etc etc, Isfrix is a mad and broken entity that seeks the destruction of all things, including itself. However, the hatred humanity(and other beings) engages in keeps the god alive and caught in a perpetual suicide, mashing its broken face against a mountain atop which the Sphere of Annihilation rests, regenerating faster than it can die and bleeding hatred into the world, which hate-stricken people refine into curses of all varieties through their own malign will. Hate will not vanish from the world until Isfrix is dead, but Isfrix cannot die until hatred has vanished from the hearts of all beings.

The race of beings Isfrix created are the Conqueror Worms, brightly colored little worms that have the ambitions, emotions, and intelligence equal to humans, but are trapped in pathetic and useless bodies that cannot sate their dreams... but can steal the bodies of others via sitting in the brains. They hate their creator, and are jealous of beings, but no simple villains are they- they are split into factions, those who wish to simply watch over the grave of Isfrix until the end of the world, those who wish to take what was denied to them from the other beings of the world, and those who wish to live in cooperation and transformation and break the cruel narrative Isfrix wrote for them back when the god was more sane and more actively malevolent.
I only realized I had just reinvented the plight of the Yeerks a few months later
don't sue me Applegate

Janus, Lord of Greed- The two-faced chthonic god of blood and gold, and the interplay between the two. Sacrifice blood to get gold, or gold to save your own blood- it's just like the interplay of violence and wealth that occurs even without the influence of demon gods. For a long time, Janus was accepted by many in the city of Oroboro, and still has influence on the folk of the deep places of the earth who tend to be rich on gold and violent monsters, and undead who pay for superior states of cursed unlife.
The Hell of Janus, a place where the servants wear chains of gold, the mountains are made of coins, and every last inch is stained with blood. The blackened towers of scabby gold have no connections to each other and simply compete to rise higher and higher. The promise of one day being lord of their own decadent tower keeps the lackey souls laboring eternally.

The flames of greed cannot be extinguished by throwing any amount of blood and gold at them, and so Janus, like Isfrix, will likely persist as long as a price can be set on life. Even the act of desecrating tombs of Janus worshippers spreads greed, for who would turn up their nose at the bounties of demon-gold beaten into grave goods? Areas that use a gold standard of currency are usually under the sway of Janus, and it is hard to say whether all gold came from Janus, or if Janus came from the bloody wars for gold.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Demons part 2, foocubi

AD&D Succubi- Demon ladies with the classic 'lady monster with charm effect' design most lady monsters in AD&D got, pretty much. I think their AD&D statblock suffers from ludonarrative dissonance, in that the intended lore of the monster (a sneaky seductress) does not match up with their statblock. Oh sure, their abilities could help with sneaky social subterfuge, but what they would mainly do is replace subtlety with brute magical force and make sneakiness not even necessary in the first place. Like, for the record, a succubus has abilities very much on par with the Martian Manhunter....

-Ability to go ethereal/intangible
-Mind Reading
-Shape Changing
-Immune to most physical attacks
-Can call Superman to come kick your ass/Gate in a type IV, VI, or Lord Demon.

And while ol J'onn J'onzz doesn't bust out his powers to oppress humanity, a demon would have no such ethical constraints.

So the dissonance comes from what you might expect them to act like due to lore, and what they are capable of mechanically, ie, being damn near invincible* to peasant hordes, and damn near uncatchable if confronted with anything that can actually hurt them. Forget subtlety, one could hold an entire settlement hostage with aerial crossbow sniping and an ultimatum, go ethereal/fly away if resistance is ever mustered, and return at their leisure. One presumes the divine beings would then intervene similarly overtly, but humans being helpless pawns while angels and demons do all the work sounds not so good to me. There's some lore indicating that succubi are not so much concerned with humans but are more like the master spies of Hell and are mainly tasked with espionage tasks dealing with other high level outsiders, though that's really just another way of making them largely irrelevant to the human condition in all but the highest of fantasy settings.
*Demons are vulnerable to silver, but the succubus statblock explicitly states they cannot be harmed by any normal weaponry, so idk if it's supposed to harm them or not.

Mythological Succubi/Incubi
Demons that turned into a woman to collect semen, then into a man to impregnate someone with that semen, typically taking the forms of marital partners to trick otherwise faithful people and sow discord. The word literally means 'to lie beneath/to lie atop' so Succubi and Incubi are not different things, but different behaviors of the same thing(hence my stealing of the term 'Foocubus' from Nethack to refer to that thing). A mythological explanation for a mundane occurrence of the baker's wife having a child that looks like the butcher, bandaid explanations intended to prevent domestic violence and social unrest without addressing the root cause of oppressive societal norms. Honestly, one of the more depressing mythological monsters if you dwell on the sociohistorical reasons for them to have been imagined. This sort of drama about social unrest and sexual deception doesn't really translate well to a game about dungeon delving, but could be top stuff in a game set over a longer timespan focusing either on politics or interpersonal drama even if they are only blamed and not actually present.

Sunset Realm Foocubi

The -cubi group of demons has survived the death of the god and culture for one main reason.

basically this
(this comic is nsfw if you live under a rock and dunno what Oglaf is already)
They stem from an ancient religion that derided free will as something that was a source of suffering and enabler of ignorance, and so the mind-controlling foocubi(known as angels in their own time) were produced in vast numbers to throw off the shackles of freedom and micromanage emotional states among the citizens. Whether the results were a benevolent divine rule or a horrible oppressive mindslave dystopia is unclear as foocubi give different accounts, when they can be bothered to speak of that lost age at all. Despite what you might suspect of a race of divinely crafted thought police, Foocubi are not master manipulators of the social scene, as a being that is
  1. As powerful to humans as humans are to chickens
  2. Able to mind-control said chickens just in case they get uppity
Has basically no pressure to ever learn things like 'politeness' or 'empathy' or even 'fear' (and certainly not 'seduction.' Do you seduce your food? Didn't think so.) and as such, even after centuries of time, most foocubi's personalities are still complete trash, just, mean and domineering and casually murderous, and even the "nice" ones are nice in the way people are nice to their farm animals. Just because something looks* like a person doesn't mean it has a relatable mindset.
*As psychic shapeshifters, foocubi don't actually look like anything by default, but the image of a person with symbolic wings emphasizing access to higher realms spread memetically and became an expected norm.

True Succubi/Incubi act as matchmakers for ancient holy royal bloodlines so diluted that to human sensibilities, they no longer exist. They retain their considerable powers by bureaucratically attempting to fulfill ancient marriage contracts between these adjunct royal houses, and cannot give up on their obsessive quests to get targeted people to fall in love and breed without exploding. To abandon that raison d'etre is to embrace oblivion. As successful creation of new life cannot occur without mutual consent, Succubi/Incubi cannot simply mind-control their targets and be done with it, or steal sperm via shapechanging and fly it across the ocean to impregnate someone the way mythological succubi/incubi did, (unless contracted by both parties to do so of course) and so things tend to start with engineered meet cutes, but escalate into tangled webs of intrigue, mind control, kidnapping, shapeshifting induced forgery and impersonation, and worst-case, carpet bombing cities with lanterns dropped from the sky and ultimatums to 'fall in love NOW or everything you ever knew will burn.'
Many have sworn allegiance to Our Lady of Gardens and serve again as angels of matchmaking to modern bloodlines, but as this is a demon post I won't get too much into that.
Hatecubus- Drawn to the Demon-Lord of Hatred Isfrix after their first, forgotten god perished, but put off by his perpetually delayed divine suicide, Hatecubi are independent demons that feed off of negative, violent emotions, hatred prime among them. Unfortunately, this means they do their best to cultivate hatred, and as such they are a blight on society. The Void Monks of Oroboro, given their close proximity to the hell of Isfrix, have bound many of these creatures into the form of silver greatswords, where the Hatecubi can feed off the hatred of the dying towards their killers and occasionally manage to possess those foolish enough to pick up one of these demon swords without sufficient training.
When collecting hate on a personal scale, they prefer stealing magic items, smear campaigns based on telepathically received half truths, and other enraging but non-lethal activities, but have no qualms about nastily killing mortals to feed on the hatred directed at them, or ironically, encouraging mortals to hatefully "kill" them. (As spirit beings, 'death' is just being driven back into the spirit world, so if the bounty of hate is great enough it may be worth it.)
Cupids-The counterpart to a Hatecubus, these rogue spirits have decided to survive off of the love and affection of mortals. They may arrange romances between other mortals, but are unlikely to engage in the business themselves unless desperate, and if they've grown desperate, they may adopt parasitic strategems like encouraging unrequited love towards themselves, or even stealing a bit of life force via the famously lethal kiss if starvation seems likely. While devoid of any ill intent beyond hunger, the fallout of a hungry cupid can prove quite destructive and the arrival of one (no doubt in disguise) is more likely calamitous than fortuitous. Of course, to adventurers with no social ties who think a demon partner has no downsides, the sad fact of the matter is that you won't gain XP with a Cupid at your side, and if your love proves insufficient to fuel the Cupid, the difference must be made up for either in level loss from you, HD and power loss from the Cupid, or a polygamous relationship so large and lopsided that it is basically a sex cult with the cupid as cult leader.
Snugcubus/Slothcubus/Grave Nymph- these demons survive by hoarding souls to stock their own created afterlives with, and subside off the quiet glow of the souls. They cannot sustain very large afterlives while merely feeding off of the faint glow of comfyness, and so they require lots and lots of dead and dreaming souls, and are popular 'mini-deities' in forgotten graveyards, god-forsaken crypts, and motels Inns.
Their afterlives are stitched together from pilfered dreams and smothered in fog, and the souls within mainly lounge around in simple creature comfort, barely awake and often snoozing in huge piles. They may be roused by the slothcubus to serve as undead defenders or the like, for the only thing the demon hates more than disturbing the sleeping dead is other people disturbing their power source. This may bring them into conflict with players as tomb-guardians or dream-thieves- One idea for stealing dreams I had was to erase stuff on the players character sheet when they aren't looking (this is much easier to do in roll20 than IRL) and write a little code so it's not completely forgotten- if the player can remember what the lost item was they can use it again, but if not, it stays forgotten, the spirit of the item remaining int he slothcubi's dream realm.

Imagine the following- You are a dirt farming peasant whose village is the chew toy of every wandering monster, bandit, and oppressive noble for miles around. But one day, a stranger rides into town, and it's like every crappy fanfiction power fantasy ever- the stranger kicks the ass of every monster with one hand tied behind their back without taking so much as a scratch but doesn't ask for gold or special favors, just the opportunity to be the selfless defender of the town. This stranger is, of course, a foocubus who is eating threats to the village to build up a hero narrative. The end goal is to be worshipped like a local hero-saint, king, or perhaps even a god, and transition from feeding off of death to feeding off of awe and worship. Obviously this brings them into conflict with existing power structures
Vampire, BasicallyLook, sometimes monsters can't be bothered with feeding off of emotional resonance and decide to just eat people, confusing overlap of mythological source material be damned.

Foocubus Stats
HD- 6-9,
depending on how well fed they are. They do not heal naturally, and must either be exposed to the appropriate emotional state to have daily healing, or violently drain life via predation.

AC-As Plate&Shield,+3. Absolute bastards to hit due to being fast, experienced, and made of quasi-physical ectoplasm.
Attacks- 1d3/1d3 punches/wing buffets or by weapon. If both attacks hit, a grapple is initiated and they can start sucking the life out of someone next round, inflicting a negative level per round. Alternately, an item may be stolen.
Special Abilities
Mundane weaponry does not harm them save for the lawful touch of silver, and disrupting their physical form merely sends them back to the dream realm, and as immortals, they are not hunted by elementals as other undead are when they return. Creating an ectoplasmic body is tiresome and reduces the HD of a foocubus by 1.
Foocubi may change their physical appearance to anything person-ish. They cannot turn into say, a chair unless it's like, a chair that has deep emotional significance to someone nearby. Their form is a reflection of mortal emotion, so taking a form that doesn't cause some sort of feeling simply isn't their nature. Due to their
Expressing the appropriate emotion makes mortals vulnerable to being possessed. Attacking a Hatecubus, loving a Cupid, thanking a Glory, sleeping around a Slothcubus. I don't think standard charm spam fun is fun to GM, so this is the alternative. Corpses and other nonliving items may be possessed as well.
Borehole- Foocubi may enter dreams and construct hallucinatory scenarios to set up possession requirements, and may physically escape into the dream realm themselves. Lesser 'holes' may be bored to read people's minds or create 5' radius darkness at will (the dream realm is hungry for the light of the waking world and small portals will create big vortexes of darkness.) They may bore into dream/nightmare/afterlife realms in semi-stable portals that other people can use, though this is dangerous and tiring and they will not do so unless offered a sacrifice of a level to be drained or similar hevy-duty persuasive tactics.
Oneiric Coterminality- That is to say that they are coterminous with the waking world and the dream realm simultaneously. Spellwisps sent against a demon of a Foocubi's power may cower away in fear or even perish in the attempt to make contact, and Foocubi have decently good odds of knowing other demons to act as spells or summons in a pinch.
I've been too lazy to draw for some time, so I'll just double dip and use this commission of some party members from a player who has a hatecubus in a sword (using arnolds neat familiar rules)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Secret Santicore Submission: Pre-Adamite Minidungeon Generator

"Rook requested the following gift: It's multiple choice! Pick one. Conflict/war generator, fantasy colonial or dying world Mini-dungeon generator, dungeon themes like swords and savagery, weird pre-adamitic and cyclopean, I've made a wild west osr game for myself so an 'old west dungeon generator' would be very cool, especially if it's dark, revisionist or spaghetti and not rootin-tootin. Spells or spell generator, Thelemic, Theosophist or UFO cult Cosmic-myth generator."

Originally I was gonna give the old west dungeon generator a shot, then while I was giving plasma my phlebotomist asked if I had ever seen Tombstone and I realized that I didn't actually have much experience with westerns unless you count Brisco County Jr.

"Ninjas, time travel, lawyer drama, and steampunk are a dark and anti rootin' tootin' take on westerns, right?"
So! Pre-Adamite minidungeons it is!
I'd put 1d4-1 exits per room, and give each room a Halls of Antiquity fill and a 2-in-6 chance of monster and a 2-in-6 chance of treasure if you're generating it on the fly, or just arbitrarily stuffing a quick randomly genned online dungeon map with these fills. Or you could even use the 5 Room Dungeon method and just pick the fills you like.

What Ancient Beings Built This Place?
  1. Neanderthals, a race of pre-adamite humanoids with no covenant with God.
  2. Gondwanans, an advanced race of pre-adamite* humans who were highly sophisticated and in tune with God, but were destroyed incidentally due to the war in heaven. As it is said, 'there is nothing new under the sun' and all technological prowess is essentially stumbling down the same scientific path the Gondwanans mastered.
    *"Once God said to the Prophet "O Muhammad I created an Adam before I created your father Adam, whom I gave a life of thousand years. Then I created fifteen thousand Adams all of whom I gave a life of ten thousand years. After that I created your Adam."
  3. Hinn- Beings related to Jinn, but composed of scorching fire, as opposed to smokeless flame. Of the Hinn, only Iblis survives.
  4. Jinn- Also known as Djinni, Genie, Ifrit. Crafted from smokeless flame.
  5. N/a, the world is supported by an angel atop a ruby atop a bull atop a fish, which is suspended in water, and you've found yourself in a crevasse of ruby, as you are microscopic in comparison. See 'Red Dungeon' tables.
  6. Chaos- mash all of the above together.

Neanderthal Dungeons
The Neanderthals lived as beasts in caves, and stacked stones for rough walls of cyclopean construction.

What Halls Of Antiquity Echo With The Voices of The Dead?
  1. Overhand Shelter- one wall of this room is stacked stone, beyond which is the outside world. 10 minutes with shovels and pickaxes for the whole party can make an exit, or an hour and 1d6hp damage if lacking tools of iron.
  2. Ancient Bone Pit- a pit filled with the bones of ancient beings- damage as spiked pit if you fall in. Looting the pit may yield rare skeletons valuable to necromancers, collectors, and alchemists, but disturbing this mass grave may awaken the dead.
  3. Dripping Grotto- an ancient water source, a pool or stream, a cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites perfect for climbing or hiding behind.
  4. Tight Spot- a chimney ascent/descent to higher/lower levels. Metal armor and backpacks must be left behind to pass.
  5. Boulderfall- an ancient trap of a huge precarious rock to be dislodged and fall upon the unwary trespasser.
  6. Stone Huts, sealed with boulders. Each has a 1/6 chance of treasure, monster, or both within.
  7. Painted Room- charcoal and colored mud drawings of beasts and social activities upon the walls. Consulting the paintings may reveal...
    1. Hunting techniques against giant beasts- Fighter-types may study for a night here to gain either +1 critical hit range, +4AC, or double damage against a things over 3 times their size when using spears.
    2. Secrets of God- Cleric types may either destroy the blasphemous pictures, or have their alignment reversed to go up a level. The middle path is to become a splinter sect and start a new branch of the religion, alienating former church affiliation.
    3. Disturbing rites of cannibalism. Character may rise as a Ghoul after death due to morbid curiosity aroused by what cannot be un-seen. Minor SAN damage if you have it.
    4. Ancient Magics- A magic-user may learn a random spell if they can erect stones at the right time of year in the right place corresponding with the depicted star patterns.
    5. Agricultural Revolution Diss Track- Characters may become anarcho-primitivist hunter gatherers and declare war on society and have arguments convincing enough to rally fellow barbarians to their cause. Class change to barbarian of course.
    6. Nothing but old drawings. This result replaces 'repeat' paintings within the same cave.
  8. Burial Chamber- The dead, mouldering bones and grave goods of flint and bone. Disturbing them has a chance of unleashing some ancient plague or curse(1/6), but some of the ancient gear may be magical(1/6).
  9. Tar-Making Pit- Though the materials are nothing but black lumps and dust, this ancient fire-pit is now little more than a tripping hazard.
  10. Knapping Cave- various sharp and broken rocks litter this cave like caltrops, dealing 1d4 damage to those who unwarily run through and halfing movespeed for those trying to avoid them. Collecting enough good ones for use as arrowheads/spearheads/caltrops takes a dungeon turn/10 minutes.
What Monstrous Beings Now Reside?
  1. Sabretooth Tiger Skeleton- stats as sabre-tooth tiger, or a regular tiger whose bite does max damage, +skeleton resistances. It will prefer to stalk the party and will flee into unexplored areas after attacking, preferably dragging the corpse of someone it killed.
  2. Chindi- A human-derived disease spirit, remnants of all wickedness, haunting the possessions of the dead. Stats as a disease of your choice that turns into a shrieking wraith if you try curing it, but can be appeased by returning any possessions to their resting place.
  3. Ancient Wyrm- Smells horrible, so poisonous that its footprints cause 1d6 poison damage if you step on them. Stats as dragon, but wingless and lacking much intellect or a breath attack, but is so poisonous that touching it is Save vs Poison or die on the spot.
  4. Wooly Mammoth Skeleton- Possessed by a chindi that has nothing else to haunt, and so walking around bipedally and looking like a tusked cyclops skeleton.
  5. Grue- Doesn't exist if you have any light sources, otherwise stats as two hasted ninja tigers glued together.
  6. Neanderthal Ghoul- Stats as Ghasts.
What Treasures Lay Untouched By Time?
  1. Uncut gems- value unclear until properly appraised.
  2. Fossils- Worth jewelry prices (2d8x100 coins) to necromancers, collectors, historians, etc
  3. Nice Rock- Deals 1d8 damage in melee or thrown. If returned to the earth, gives you a favor with earth elementals.
  4. Flint spear- As axe -1, but causes sparks when striking hard surfaces.
  5. Stone Tablet- Random clerical or wizardly scroll written in pictures.
  6. Gold Nuggets- More impressive if you're in a silver standard.

Gondwanan Dungeon
Lit by strange, hollow gems that glow with light of varying colors. All is metal, and rooms are set up in simple grid patterns.
What Halls Of Antiquity Echo With The Voices of The Dead Here?
  1. Halls of steel, melted and burned by some unspeakable flame. Halflings/children/small animals can enter the air ducts and crawl to another room rather than taking the usual route.
  2. Dilating Door- A sealed iron door. The sign of lightning is on a metal box on a nearby wall- if it can be generated, the door will open like a dilating eye. Another application of electricity will close it like a guillotine.
  3. Reactor Water Garden- Metal walkways over a pool of glowing water from which pillars emerge. The water is hot but the radioactive death only claims those who touch the corpse-strewn glowing crystals at the bottom. Without the shield of water absorbing their malign light, the crystals bring death to all near them, and mutation to those that survive.
  4. Hologram Chamber- illusions of light and sound emerge, creating a convincing but illusory alternate reality.. Treasure or monsters may be concealed by the light-ghosts.
  5. Vast Chamber- The ceiling and every wall vanishes into darkness, and all sounds echo in this vast space. Dimensions are 1000x1000x100, so it is by no means guaranteed to find any encounters or treasure within.
  6. Deep Shaft- a metal pillar descends down a vast pit. Precarious walkways span the abyss. The pillar has hatches that can be lockpicked open, though only inscrutable metal viscera and rope is found within. Damaging it turns off all the power to the dungeon and kills the lights.
  7. Coffins?- Tightly packed and stacked receptacles large enough for a person, rolling out from a wall. Each contains a smooth and odorless pillow and blanket, untouched by millenia.
  8. Trash Cubes- perhaps compacted by giants, 10x10x10 cubes of miscellaneous garbage. Dismantling and sorting one takes pickaxes and an hour, but may contain treasure.
  9. Elevator Shaft- just as it sounds, with a metal cell (the elevator) raised and lowered by cables. Leads to 1d3 additional floors.
  10. Endless Tunnel- a three-railed mine-cart track, or so it looks like, stretches into darkness. It goes on for hundreds of miles of empty darkness, and may well end abruptly in collapse or the sea, as the very earth has shifted since Gondwanan times.
What Monstrous Beings Now Reside Here?* Indicates the power must be on for these entities to function

  1. Praying Machine*. A small automaton that prays to God constantly. If somehow roused to fury, it has 1hd but the casting power of a 10th level cleric... or perhaps not.
  2. Scorched Machine- blasted and corrupted by the flame of the Hinn, they are automata of blackened, melted metal that seek electricity and metal. Stats as a ghoul with golem resistances.
  3. Incredibly Fat Rust Monsters- Interested in the party only if they have exotic non-iron metals. High HP but low morale due to having a superabundance of food.
  4. Security Turret*- A glowing metal and glass eye with +100 to initiative and to-hit. Fires Disintegration beams at unauthorized targets and functionally has Protection From Missiles as it can shoot arrows out of the air.  Mounted on the ceiling, 1hp.
  5. Hologram Ghost- A request in the scream-song language of Gondawa, to take a message to a loved one, transmitted by an ancient recording table. Stats and general effect as Shrieker.
  6. Mutant Cockroaches- stats as wolves+random mutation
  7. Mutant Rats- stats as rat swarm+ random mutation
  8. Hinn Shadow- a blighted silhouette that runs along the walls, like sooty residue. Stats as Shadow. All that remains of the demonic Hinn.
  9. Janitor Nanoswarm- stats as black pudding, appearance like a mound of shiny grey dust.. Either heals 1d8, gains 1HD, or spawns a 1HD duplicate of itself upon consuming a person and their gear.. Instantly killed by a rust monster. Replaces security turrets if the power is turned off, methodically devours all other non-rust monster encounters if not stopped.
What Treasures Lay Untouched By Time?
  1. Lightning Wand- A small metal rod that stuns human-sized opponents it touches if they fail a save vs paralysis, and will run out of energy on a 1/6 chance.
  2. Gold Wiring- jewelers who serve kings and queens would pay dearly for this microfine wire that cannot be replicated with current technology.
  3. Steel Scrap- smiths skilled enough to realize its purity will be able to forge arms and armor that are (nonmagically) of +1 value against lesser materials.
  4. Panacea- Pills that cure almost any disease. The otherwise doomed might pay any price for this.
  5. Gondawan Curio- of interest to collectors as abstract art sculptures, or to priests hoping to glean apocryphal knowledge from the thing.
  6. Glassteel- A perfectly transparent, nigh invisible substance as strong as steel, though it will deform with low levels of heat and can be reshaped.
  7. Eerie Painting- A captured image of reality indistinguishable from the real thing, of a man or beast.
  8. Deactivated Prayer Machine- A wind-up cleric. Though no one  knows the things language but God, it will surely walk the path of righteousness.

Hinn Dungeons
Everything is of blackened stone that reflects light with a strange, melted opalescence. Fine white ash covers everything, making footprints easy to follow. Always some ash to throw into someones eyes, or to kick up an obscuring cloud to vanish into.
What Halls Of Antiquity Echo With The Voices of The Dead Here?
  1. 30' tall Ash Mound. It cannot be walked up as it is not solid enough, and clearing it without wetting it down will make the room's air unbreathable. May be treasure atop, or a monster within, an exit concealed, or most likely, nothing.
  2. Knee deep Ash concealing suffocating pits clogged with the stuff. May be old corpses/treasure in those pits.
  3. Leaky Room- Water has gotten in and turned the ash to clinging mud that swallows things like quicksand in the most flooded area of the room, blocking all but one exit.
  4. Drafty Room- Ash swirls in little dust devils and clouds, making vision past 5' impossible.
  5. Ashen Fulgurite- lightning, the wrath of god, still thrumming within a coral-tree-like structure of fused ash. If broken, the lightning is released and bounces around the room at a random angle- intentional breakage may allow some initial aiming.
  6. Oil Path- a long hall filled with a thin sheen of slippery, flammable oil, angled slightly up, down or straight. The Hinn would traverse it in a flash of flame, but humans have no such luck.
  7. Tar Pit- flammable, sticky, dense. Those swallowed by it have little chance of escape. Stone pillars within the pit provide places to stand, though they are too far apart to hop to, requiring bridges. Old human skeletons lie on these islands, and may rise as skeletons to attack sources of flame in a blind, misguided burst of vengeance.
  8. Bellows Room- Huge metal bellows to be operated via muscle power are here, though apart from the ash, there's no evidence of any flames to stoke (they were the equivalent of being fanned with a palm leaf for Hinn).
What Monstrous Beings Now Reside Here?
  1. Scaleless Dragon- Burnt and blinded, soothed only by beds of the softest, most feathery ashes. Otherwise, stats as ancient dragon with unarmored AC. Hoard is hidden in an ashmound somewhere.
  2. Ash Wraith- stats as wraiths. All within melee range of them are blinded by the swirling ash.
  3. Hinn Shadow- a blighted silhouette that runs along the walls, like sooty residue. Stats as Shadow. All that remains of the demonic Hinn.
  4. Carbonized Skeleton- stats as skeleton but they take and deal maximum damage due to their forever burning forms and fragile ash bones.
  5. Fire Elemental. This may well be the body of Hinn, with the wicked soul long departed.
  6. Ash Worm- As purple worm.
What Treasures Lay Untouched By Time?
  1. Hinn Diamond- Uncut- Max gem value, or 5000coins if your system doesn't have a gem table.
  2. Dragon-Hoard- always hidden under a bed of ash. As treasure type H but with all metal melted into a single mass. Disturbing it alerts the scaleless dragons of the dungeon. If rolled again, ignore.
  3. Hinn-Sword- +3 flaming sword, a tongue of flame that emerges from a scorched hilt. Acts as Heat Metal on the hilt, quickly rendering it difficult to use. 
  4. Burnt Runes- Scorched into melted stone, a random spell (preferably fire-themed) that can be identified by reading the runes, though it will also activate.
  5. Hinn Armor- a hulking suit of plate, composed of adamant. It opens at the back and is more golem-power armor than true armor, taking one whole round to exit or enter.. Those wearing it have the defense and offensive capabilities of an iron golem, but it glows with unbearable heat when active and heats up as Heat Metal. If encountered in a room with Shadows, Skeletons, Wraiths, or Elementals, one is almost certainly inside it already.
  6. Ember of the Scorching Flame- can be consumed to act as a potion of firebreathing, or dropped into an ear where it blackens the soul with whispers of blasphemy- a level of power may be gained by heeding the corruption and turning to wickedness.

Jinn Dungeon(Dunjinn)
Jinn can create almost any physical object at will, so it was not materials, but designs that they valued. Everything is strange and beautiful and unique and often reflective.

What Halls Of Antiquity Echo With The Voices of The Dead Here?
  1. Mosaic room. Abstract art of great beauty and complexity expressed via small colored ceramic tiles. If it can somehow be replicated it would be worth a pretty penny to artists.
  2. Stained-Glass Maze- those armored in plate may burst through the walls of the maze without damage, medium armor wearers take 1 point of damage, light or unarmored people take 1d4 damage. The fallen glass acts as caltrops. Light is visible through 3 walls.
  3. Hall of Mirrors-Polished metal. Players of high intelligence or speed may bamboozle other people as though they had Mirror Images equal to their int or dex modifier. Monsters may do the same if notable faster than people or known for high intelligence. 1/6 chance of a doppelganger being spawned as the maze is traversed- if a player damaged a mirror, the doppelganger will have an appropriate deformity- stretched too thin or to squat or with a swirled face.
  4. Water Garden- the water is an elemental that will violently reject anything that would defile its sparkling purity, but is otherwise passive. Waterfalls and stepping-stones glisten above the crystal clear pond.
  5. Whistling Cavern- A massive cavern with an alternate entrance to the surface. 'Climbing Walls' of worked stone with holes in them. The wind whistles strange atonal 'music' through the room- additional chance to be surprised as it's hard to hear monsters. If the proper storm could arrive, lost and legendary songs will echo through the halls.
  6. Giant's Kitchen- Cups the size of cauldrons, cauldrons the size of rooms tables with legs like trees. Feasts of unthinkable extravagance were once conducted here.
  7. Firing Range- clay pots hang from chains at all heights and distances. Most have been smashed by the weight of time, but some remain, filled with fireworks to explode into pretty pyrotechnics when struck by a fireball or similar.
  8. Prideful Throne Room- An empty throne cloven in twain, and all around naught but dust and ash remain.
What Monstrous Beings Now Reside Here?
 Replace the Wish-Accursed with Jinn results as they are rolled. There are at most 3 Jinn, one good, one bad, one ambiguous

  1. Jinn- Reaction roll determines whether they are a faithful servant of God, an ambiguous figure who refused to bow before humans when God commanded it but is otherwise faithful, or a wicked and foolish demon who mistook their own flame for being greater than the light of god.
    Either way, stats a Djinni, Ifrit, whatever you got in the monster manual.
  2. A Old Man, who wished for eternal life, but not eternal youth or health. Wracked with plague and misfortune, he attacks as a mummy that cannot die, hoping someone, somehow will end his torment.
  3. A Beauty, who wished to be forever lovely, and is now a sleeping and indestructible statue.
  4. A Madman, who wished to know all things, and is now a gibbering lunatic who can cast any spell randomly.
  5. A Monster, last of its kind, who wished for the strength to defeat their enemies, but not to save their friends. It grows in power to defeat anything it considers a foe.
  6. An Armless Swordsman, who wished for more gold than he could hold in his arms. Fights with kicks and a sword held in his teeth.
  7. The Legal King of Everything, who has an official document proving he owns the Earth, the Sea, the Sun, the Moon, and every star in the sky. Of course, he has no power over his vast domain, but will certainly grant you feudal ownership of  any land you want if you help him with revenge on the Jinn.
  8. The Ass Clown- Wished for the Jinn not to grant this wish and now lives to tell everyone how terribly clever he is. Also had his head swapped with a donkeys.
What Treasures Lay Untouched By Time?
All of these are idiot bait that you can sell to bigger idiots for massive amounts of coin or magic item trades.

  1. Monkey's Paw- Three wishes. All will go horribly wrong, save for the small mercy that wishing to undo a prior wish will work.
  2. Trapped Ifrit- Will kill you if released, though as it allows you to choose the way you will die, you might be able to get out of it.
  3. Legalese Imp- Will obey the verbal and written commands of whoever holds its statuette to the letter. If it ever gets a hold of its statuette, it vanishes with it back to hell
  4. Deck of Many Things- nuff said
  5. The Eye of Heaven- A needle that sends anything passed through it to heaven, supposedly.
  6. Book of Irresistible Bacon Recipes- That's not halal!

Red Dungeons
 Tunnels of ruby that cannot be so much as scratched by anything mortal, pulsing with light in time with a beating heart. The whirling stars of the celestial spheres spin beyond the walls, and shapes too immense to even comprehend dazzle the mind. Men were never meant to see this.

What Halls Of Antiquity Echo With The Voices of The Dead Here?
  1. Outer wall. Each hour of study through this magnifying lens ruby wall reveals amazing astrological insight, and has a 1/6 chance of seeing something too big to be seen  and going blind for the rest of your life. If you touch it, it is very cold.
  2. Bottomless, starry pit. Anything within will fall for a hundred years, land in the waters of chaos, and be lost forever, either in the bowels of Bahamut or the depths of the dark waters.
  3. Minor flaw in the giant ruby. To you, it is a mile long crack, a hundred feet deep, and 5 feet wide.
  4. Mirror Realm- Easy to walk into by accident, here in the red reflections. A copy of all the previous rooms, swapped left to right, with a thicker and thicker haze of red light eventually terminating the realm in a dead end 1d6+1 rooms later.
  5. Gullet Descent- a tight tube of smooth ruby leading down or up. Almost frictionless.
  6. Jagged Facet- a wall, or a ridge in the floor, like a gigantic razor's edge. Falling on it would be like being guillotined. If you need anything sliced, here you go.
  7. Pomegranate Tree- Eat as much as you like, it's too late to go back anyway.
  8. Wet Room- condensed vapor from the sea below, the ruby glistening with dew and ice.
What Monstrous Beings Now Reside Here?
  1. A self-proclaimed Angel. It asks you a question, and time will not move until you answer.  The church will know of your answers. Repeat encounters have similar questions.
    • "If God told you to sin, is it sin to obey, or to refuse?"
    • "Is ignorance of sin an excuse, or a sin itself?"
    • "From whence comes sin, if all comes from God?"
  2. Fragment of Primordial Chaos- stats as earth, water, or air elemental (roll randomly each round) that mutates on hit.
  3. Unbearable Celestial Light- Shines in through the ruby walls, scorching your frail mortal forms for 1d6 damage a round. Items used to shield yourself are destroyed after one round of protection. Getting more walls between you and the oblivious celestial being is your only hope of survival.
  4. A Worm of the Earth- Purple worm stats. Hungry and lost, it doesn't want to be here either.
  5. Ruby Reflection- Does whatever you do (or more worryingly, perhaps you do whatever it does). If you touch it you are both obliterated.
  6. Beast of Sloth- Missed getting named in the Garden, couldn't be bothered to get on the Ark, slowly sank to the bottom of the world due to a lack of effort. Like a furry snail, or perhaps a shelled sloth. Nonviolent but extremely hard to kill, though not impossible to roll around.  Tends to block off your escape routes if not dealt with.
What Treasures Lay Untouched By Time?
  1. Echo of the Word- As 'scroll of limited wish' but it's on the tip of your tongue until you say it, and must be mute until it is spoken.
  2. Ruby Shard- as vorpal sword, but a way to wield it without losing your own hand must be found.
  3. Ruby Chunks- 1d6x1000coins. It's surprising there's not more of this stuff around.
  4. Ruby Dust- 1d6x100 coins, or perhaps more to people who need it as an ingredient.
  5. Pomegranate Seeds- easily mistaken for rubies when it's all you're expecting. 
  6. The Friends You Made Along The Way- Clerics restore spellslots, everyone else heals half their max HP, hireling morale increases. In this lifeless hell of worthless treasure, you can finally see what really matters.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Unaffiliated Demons Part 1- Imps

While looking at the endless slew of demons & devils slated for lore-tweaking and art-drawing, I found myself thoroughly bored. In my campaign, I already have a race of nasty, cruel, fractious creatures with immortal spirit-bodies that can return from the netherworld if their will is great enough.

I sometimes wonder if I'd be better off excluding such monsters from my campaign entirely tbh
they bring some awfully unpleasant implications along with 'em

I could go over individual D&D demons, but frankly, I don't much see the point. They're too intrinsically tied to copyrighted, published settings for me to say anything that a random D&D lore wiki/youtube video won't say just as well, and while they definitely have the occasional neat trick, they rely mainly on 'immune to lots of stuff,' 'lots of spells/psionics' and a poorly explained 'demons summoning demons who can RAW summon more demons' snowball effect that as far as I can tell implies that a single demon should turn into a demon army and take over the world in a matter of hours.

So while there are indeed a great many spiritual servitors of gods that could be subjectively described as 'demons' and make for an extra half-dozen posts, for now I will leave you readers with this post explaining what the term 'demon' actually means in my setting, and a quick rundown on the three major types of demon I actually use with any frequency and then move on to the Displacer Beast. (Oh, you wanted a Dinosaur entry? Dinosaurs were the Reptile Empire before it got divided into Snakes (the faithful of Yg) and Reptiles (those who rejected Yg's wisdom in favor of legs.) And that's all you get, it was really too long ago to care much about.)

First off, Demons & Devils are very nearly almost the same thing as each other and Angels. The whole lot of them are non-physical beings of light created by some big time spirit(often called a 'god'). The difference is that servitors you like are 'angels' and those you don't are 'devils.' Demons are servitors who survived the death of their god and are now independent, either sustaining their light via the willing assistance of mortals who still hold faith, or going the route of Yg-A, the Dragon-Sun, and igniting their souls into something fiery and predatory that can take what it needs by destroying the physical, rather than relying on the wishes and prayers of other beings to maintain their ability to exist in/affect the waking world. Also of note is that a human soul can serve similar roles to a servitor as well, though as they exist independently of a god, they are typically called saints instead, and a 'rogue' human soul with no divine association is referred to as a ghost.

Another thing to remember is that spirit-being taxonomy is incredibly difficult and obfuscated due to centuries of misinformation campaigns from all parties involved. 200 years ago, the leading human scholar on the matter was educated entirely on Alf propaganda and thought foocubi and nymphs were the same thing, the dwarves got all their information from a Yg-A demon and a order-over-truth Sun God,  and nobody understood the difference between a nightmare realm and human-unfriendly afterlife.
But I'm sure this time the scholars got everything 100% correct.

The most numerous type of demon, typically no larger than a human child, and typically no smaller than a hand-span. They require very little 'spiritual fuel' so to speak, and as such are fairly easy to bind into contracts that help them preserve their life and power, and are relatively common as familiars and conveyors of spells that were once minor religious miracles, but are now simply ruled over by whimsy.
Imps range from 1-5 hd, and typically either can effect miracles themselves (such as casting Floating Disc by carrying things manually or ethereally) or have, over the past hundreds of years, gotten on good terms with spellwisps themselves. Imps arose from every half-baked wanna-be god and cult leader in the bad old days, and as such are an extremely variable bunch who range from the ridiculous (Imps that eat sleeper's toe-jam) to the horrible (imps that pose as and then eat unwanted children). Imps can be mistaken as mutated halflings/children/fairies in bad light, but their caricature faces, warped forms, and centuries old linguistic tics tend to identify them for what they are.

Standard Spell List as Imps (aka Cherubs or Saints for live religions)

Cure Light Wounds & Other Healing Spells-
Imps stitch up the target with needles and call it a day, mostly. Tiny fingers makes them able to do precise surgery for nerves and blood vessels too. Centuries of medical knowledge give 'em good odds of being able to fix poisoning, blindness, etc as well, and in the case of diseases and lesser curses, a swarm of imps driving off the offending spellwisp, proto-soul, or whatever. Some big time curses(think 'sleep till awakened by true loves kiss' tier) are not impressed by flurries of imps however, and can only be beaten by playing their own games.

Detect (Whatever)- Basically any Imp can handle this by flying around in a coterminous realm, peering between worlds, and reporting back on what they perceived. These spells are often single-word affairs, a word like 'elf' or 'undead' or 'magic,' vestigial remnants of very, very dead languages for very, very old imps. These ancient imps appear as winged eyeballs, and are suspected to be the imps of a long-dead bat-god, explaining their lack of anthropomorphism.

Light- another easy to pull off trick, all an imp needs for this is the ghost of a dead candle, torch or lamp that was destroyed before it could ever shed light, and so has unfinished business. The reversal, 'darkness' is also easy- any 'darkness' spell is almost certainly just a halfassed portal to the netherworld that light pours into, to be devoured by the Imp and/or any other spirit-being hoping to bolster the light of their soul with stolen energy.
For people like heleognostics for which light loss is unacceptable, thick burning smoke from a real, non-ghost torch that fell between realms is the typical darkness substitute.

Protection from (Whatever)- This is simply an imp working double-time to deflect unwanted things from coming into contact with the warded targets. Arrows are easy, though only some imps are fast enough to knock them from the sky. Undead are easy because the imp can usually possess part of their body and prevent physical contact, Darkspawn are easy because they are naturally inclined to either avoid light, in which case a glowing imp-soul wards them off, or because they are inclined to chase light, in which case the imp functions as live bait. Other spirit beings and spell wards can be warded off by the sealing of the warded person/area's soul into a pocket realm where it can interact with the physical realm and body, but is inviolable to uninvited guests. (The latter trick is relatively easy for even untrained individuals and is often expressed via saving throws.)

Bless/Curse- Imps making micro-adjustments to stance, arrow direction, and so on, for the combat applications. Otherwise, a very nebulous way of telling an imp to watch over a person/thing and try to serve as a guardian spirit/malicious haunt, with inconsistent results.

Floating Disc/Hold Person/Levitate/Flight/Telekinesis- Just a bunch of imps working together to exert physical force on the waking world from their coterminous realms. Different effects are largely a case of being able to speak multiple dead languages fluently enough to get imps/ghosts/etc from all manner of dead civilizations to work in concert for mightier effects.

Charm Animal/Person/Monster- Ranges from possession, to manipulation via whispers in the ear(false promises of desires granted), or interfering with the brain in a variety of ways that range from so subtle that the target spirit is unaware their meat-puppet has been hacked, to creating a hallucinatory world where the spirit knows something is wrong but can't help but be fooled.

imp with ghost-chloroform or a blackjack applied to the astral side of the head.

Magic Missile- Imp with very pointy horns, applied interdimensionally straight through armor.

And so on and so forth, with rather straightforward approaches compared to the reality-bending abilities of more standard eldritch spellwisps.
Those wizards who use demons instead of spellwisps are oft called demonologists, and this method has a not undeserved reputation for being an easy route to power. After all, demons tend to have social circles and can introduce you to more spells, and though they may enjoy things like live sacrifices, they are still psychologically more human than the average spellwisp and so easier to manipulate... though that goes both ways.

Sunset Realm Void Monks

The origins of Void Monkery are unknown (to characters, anyway. Players know the discipline originated at goblinpunch). The ineffable darkness at the edges of the world seems a likely source, gaps of nonexistence where the light has never given form to the inchoate darkness... but then again, true darkness cannot ever be known by we fire-souled beings who cast light and perception with our very presence. In any case, there is an established monastery in the city of Oroboro.
a rough stack of irregular, open stone cells, a courtyard with a single tree, a cross-legged statue with a silver sword suspected to be the founder. Brain wasps to aid in lobotomies, and blindfolded people. There are no rules or masters there.
Void Monkery is a form of metaphysical nihilism positing that the world is not true, and does not exist. Smartasses like to slap void monks on the head and say 'nurr hurr why are you mad that slap wasn't real' and so Void Monkery inevitably becomes a martial discipline. Void Monks don't particularly care about engaging in deep logical debates with philistines when the world doesn't exist anyway, and prefer to teach via object lessons, if at all. They are descriptive in their nihilistic worldview, but not particularly prescriptive. Occasionally people take an interest in their inexplicable abilities and develop a school not for the sake of the ideology, but simply for power. Others latch onto the ideology for personal reasons, a common one being a way to manage trauma and reject a world of meaningless suffering. Your reasons don't matter.

Level as cleric. Get a weird power every level and/or find more through play. Proficient in all arms and armor. Going unarmored gives +1AC per level thanks to weird tricks like forgetting your wounds exist, time-locking your clothing on hit, or simply impressive kung-fu dodging and parrying.

Elves do not trust void monks, as the corruption of Alves was caused by an artifact of true darkness and meddling.

Void monks have some physical features in common with the undead, but are not undead, and indeed have great difficulty becoming undead both spiritually and physically. The dead who cling to their physical forms have stubborn, determination-crazed souls and lust after organ-rich bodies, quite at odds with the detached, dying egos of a mutilated void monk.

Random Advancement Rolling 1d4-1+Level will keep the 'bigger' abilities for later. Abilities with an asterisk are relatively easy to obtain via play. Reveal the Void is very fun and if a player wants to start with that instead of rolling, let them.

  1.  Maim The Fire-Soul*
  2.  Void Navigation*
  3.  Void Cut*
  4. Reveal the Void
  5. Hrönir
  6. Breach the Elemental Covenant of Air*
  7. Breach the Elemental Covenant of Water*
  8. Breach the Elemental Covenant of  Earth*
  9. Forsake Light/Denucleation* 
  10. Expulsion of the Fire-Soul 
  11. Lock Time
  12. Snuffing of the Fire-Soul
  13. Disbelieve
 Bonus actions that should probably net you a nifty new power
  • End the belief system of a group of people. Killing a false god like a worshipped cult monster is the easiest most murderhoboey way to pull this off, probably.
  • Wastefully destroy something of immense value to demonstrate the worthlessness of all things. Nothingness can trigger this.
  • Disbelieve an Illusion. Then, while you're on a roll, disbelieve something real.
  • Enter outer space or some other appropriately barren false void.
  • Annihilate someone (and possibly all their friends) so thoroughly that none remember they ever existed. You count too.
  • Successfully convince someone to let you remove their brain. This turns them to a level 1 Void Monk and probably your first disciple.
  • Found a monastery and spread the truth of the lie of the false world. 
  • Hunt and slay an Elemental, Chaos Serpent, or other progenitor primordial being as appropriate to the setting
  • Inflict an existential crisis on a high priest/prophet, demon, angel, god, all knowing oracle, or similar.
  • Exploit the false laws of reality to create a paradox, confirming the world does not truly exist and has no set form.
  • Obtain the Sphere of Annihilation. All-annihilating rampage and conversion to antagonist optional, but encouraged

Maim The Fire-Soul
In this initiation ritual, you scoop out a chunk of your own brain, and a chunk of your soul with it.

Lose half of your Charisma.  Nothing can lower your Charisma further.  Your mind cannot be read, nor can you perceive mental projections like dream-sendings and spirit-beings lurking on other planes.  You get +4 to save vs mind-influencing effects and all emotions (good and bad), including pain, fear, anger, and sadness.  When you are scryed upon, you appear fuzzy and indistinct. You can do this to other willing people, draining them of a level/ability but giving them Level 1 Void Monk/a void monk ability.

Hrönir- It often occurs that players and GMs forget what happened to an item. Did you sell that ring, or keep it? Why do both Lars and Lizzy have the Fire Sword written on their sheet?
What happened to the pony that everyone forgot existed as the party navigated a distinctly equine-inaccessible dungeon?

Now you can always answer- you have it. At the GM's discretion, your item might be a Hrönir- a darkspawned duplicate.

Void Navigation- a void monk who closes their eyes/is otherwise blind learns to navigate and fight without sight, though reading, colors, etc will be lost to them. Some go further still and can fight with no penalties regardless of how nonexistant or disoriented their senses might be, guided by nothing.

Autoannihilation- If no one can see you, you can cease to exist, sorta, for 1-3 rounds. Any light source counts as seeing because deepest lore(may not apply in your campaign setting), so this only works in areas of deep shadow and darkness spells, typically. Whenever you show up to a session late or leave early, it's fair to assume this occurs. This technique can be learned by suffering a teleport mishap.

The only things that affect you are things that affect an area.  Spells that see invisibility don't see you (since you are incoherent, not invisible) but AoE effects that reveal you (such as faerie fire) work on you (since they instantly collapse your wave-partical duality) and additionally dispel this effect. You can re-appear anywhere you could have probably reached nearby at the end of the duration, provided none see you "arrive." Locked doors, walls, cliffs, none will bar your way.

This ability is usable 1/day safely. Without the sun(or other celestial body) taking stock of your existence while rising, it may forget you exist, and you'll be lost until GM fiat brings you back.

On the other hand, once you come ex nihilo once, it's easy to do so again. If you are (unwillingly) annihilated or otherwise de-existed, you can just show up later anyway, having recreated yourself.

Void Cut- A purely martial technique, where a strike leaves a vacuum behind that will cause damage via implosions, wind pressure, and suggestion. You can strike for the damage of whatever weapon you wield, with a range equivalent to about a thrown dagger. Most Fighters can learn this skill by practicing in downtime and then getting a critical hit in-session.

Reveal the Void
A creature you touch must save or lose one of its senses (your choice) for 1d6 rounds.  This includes extraordinary senses, and can also target specific emotions, memories, etc.  You can channel this ability through a melee weapon but doing so incurs a -2 penalty to the attack roll.

Void monks can also use this ability on themselves, and use it to meditate in perfect sensory deprivation.

Breach the Elemental Covenant of Air
You no longer need to breathe.  In zero gravity, you can accelerate yourself telekinetically.  You are immune to radiation.  In theory, you would have no trouble existing in outer space.
These places, though good to meditate in, are somewhat contemptuously referred to as 'false voids.' They are absences of somethings, not actual nothings. Your lungs are now unnecessary and their destruction can bring you this ability sooner, if you survive.

Breach the Elemental Covenant of Water
You no longer need to drink, and can propel yourself through water telekinetically. You are immune to high pressure, and would have no trouble existing in the depths of the ocean. Your bladder and/or kidneys are no longer required and their destruction can bring you this ability sooner, if you live.

Breach the Elemental Covenant of Earth
You no longer need to eat, and can 'swim' through loose earth laboriously and can deform solid rock with your bare hands at about the same rate as someone with a pickaxe. Your bowels and stomach are no longer required, and their destruction can bring you this ability sooner, if you can endure the traumatic removal.

Unlike the undead who become more vulnerable to the elements as their bodies decay, a void monk ceases to be mastered by the elements as they become more cognizant or what the elements truly are- ie, shadows cast upon the unknowable face of darkness.

Denucleation/Forsake LightYou remove your eyes with leaden ritual-spoons crafted specifically for this purpose.  They boil off into the void.  You are blind, but have such excellent hearing that it doesn't matter for most things within 30', since you can hear creature's heartbeats and the echoes of your footsteps off the floor. You can detect ledges and walls by little clicks of your tongue, and listening to the echoes, dwarf-style. The only things that give you trouble are things that are truly silent, like a zombie standing still.  Obviously, you cannot read books.  This ability is constant.

You can become locally omniscient for 10 minutes.  This is not true omniscience--you only understand physical things.  Anything that you could learn from taking things apart and looking at them, you know know.  You know all of the contents of books (despite not being able to read while blind) and the contents of people's pockets.  You cannot read minds or learn people's histories.  Invisibility is no barrier to this ability.  You can use this ability 1/day, or rather, it requires meditation to purge oneself of the gathered information to make room for more.

Expulsion of the Fire-Soul
You no longer have a Charisma score.  You must burn a hole in your character sheet so that no mention of Charisma remains (the self-concept is a lie).  You have a Charisma modifier of +0.  You automatically fail social-based Charisma checks and succeed on willpower-based Charisma checks. Your soul still exists, but it may wander in, out, and around the body, with no apparent change.

Your mind cannot be read (because you have no mind-concept comprehensible to anything that exists) and anyone that attempts to read your mind must make a save or either fall catatonic for 1d6 days or have their mind read by you (as ESP), your choice.  Neither your image nor your sounds appear when scryed upon.

Lock Time
You designate a length of time (of any duration, including infinite).  For that length of time, your body becomes frozen in time, rigid and utterly unmoving.  While in this state, you cannot be altered--you are effectively harder than adamantine.  The only things that can affect you are spells that affect all matter (like disintegrate) or time spells.  If a time spell is cast on you, your stasis lock is dispelled and you are stunned for 1d6 rounds.  This ability is usable 1/day, or the flow of time will drag you under and you will only un-lock at the start of the next session you're present for.

It takes an action to go into stasis lock; you cannot activate it fast enough when falling, unless the fall is more than 200'.

In your hands, an immovable rod turns into an immovable quarterstaff.  If you have an immovable quarterstaff in your hands when you use this ability, you can have the option to also lock Space as well as Time.  If you choose this, the effects of the immovable rod apply to your entire body while you are in stasis.  If other people are holding the immovable rod, you have the option to bring them (willingly) into stasis with you.

Once you gain this ability, you must resist the temptation to immediately use it on yourself with a duration of 'infinite'.  Make a Wis check with a +1 bonus for every reason you can name for staying on this mortal plane a while longer.  (Why postpone annihilation?  It is what you truly seek.  On the other hand, what's a few years in the face of infinity?)

Unless you've achieved Snuffing, however, you will immediately learn of the futility of your action- your body is frozen, but your soul wanders. You may unlock for metagame reasons (such as 'I wanna play my cool void monk character) that the party agrees with, but not for in-character reasons.

Snuffing of the Fire-Soul
Your most valuable possession immediately boils off into the void.

If you don't possess anything especially valuable (DM's discretion) this ability will be postponed until you own something nice (DM's discretion).  DM's should strive to avoid egregious metagaming with regards to this ability--the character wants to see their most precious item vanish, since it symbolizes non-attachment. People can absolutely succumb to nothingness, so void monk romances tend to lean towards 'doomed.'

Once this has happened, it signifies that you have finally shed your soul.   From now on, you are soulless, and are immune to level drain and do not sleep or dream.  Dark-taint will not affect you.  When you die, you vanish utterly from all existence.  Your corpse and equipment vanish, and you fade from the memories of everyone. Your character sheet is immediately destroyed or deleted. It is 100% unclear to anyone, especially big mojo spiritual beings, how your will remains intact with no soul. It will likely disturb them greatly.

With both hands grasping at it, force a single discrete 'thing' to make a save, or become an illusion for 1d6 rounds. Then it makes another save, and if that fails, it pops like a soap bubble and vanishes from existence. If you try this more than once a day, and the target makes their save, you become illusory instead and may vanish. As you chose to use the ability, this does not count as 'involuntary' nonexistence for Autoannihilation.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Couatl, Crab, Crayfish, Crocodile

OG Couatl-
Big snek, flies, poisons, goes ethereal, possibly can be a magic-use/cleric with psionic powers to boot just to ensure actually running would would require pre-generation or lots and lots of lookup. Also polymorph. They are 'considered to be divine' by the locals, and rarely involve themselves in human affairs. Also, groups of 1d4.

I actually like the 3.5 version more because it gives a list of said psionics and spells- Typically when I open a monster manual, I want to be able to run a monster immediately, not have to come up with spells and so on before it is usable.

Basically they seem like a very half assed take on 'high powered holy thing from a culture unfamiliar to the writers that has little to no connection to the player's experience.' From the wikipedia mentions of the things in D&D, this take seems to be fairly accurate to what has actually been done with 'em.
I think the bland vagueness of the Couatl is because it's not an original D&D monster like the beholder, but it's not a proper mythological being either. As far as I can tell, there is the word Coatl which is a Nahuatl word meaning 'Serpent' or 'Twin,' but no actual mythological creature of the name.
There is of course, Quetzalcoatl, but that's an entire god. Shockingly, 'magic wing snake who uses a distinctly biblical cleric spell list' doesn't seem an accurate depiction,

speaking of half-assed takes, have a half-assed snake
Sunset Realm Coatl
First off I don't got time for the "u"

Secondly, they are to snakes as classical angels are to humans. Wings are symbolic of transcendence of the material realm to ground walkers, and so Coatl have wings where snakes do not.

Quick Whodunit of cleric spells, assuming a mighty god with at least a city-state to their name
Level 1-2- ghosts of other dead faithful, very low level servitors also known as Cherubs
Level 3-5- dead prophets and saints, notable divine servitors of various power levels known as Angels. Coatl here.
Level 6+ The deity themselves.

In any case, Coatl roam the dream realm and afterlives of serpents, and occasionally guard ancient snake temples... but the serpent empire, like their goddess, was for the most part practical and material, so ancient serpentine bioweapons and soulless necromantic relics are far more common to guard dead and obsolete aspects of the serpent empire, while Coatl concern themselves with the protection of living serpent assets, occasionally rising from the shadow of serpent saints to defend them personally.

Basically this but with a serpent priestess and a coatl instead of three layers of internet memes
(I didn't have a tablet when i drew this but that doesn't excuse the anatomy uggggg)
In any case, Coatl need a quick statline that I can use since the monster manual's lame mention of spells and psionics is insufficient.
AC: As Chain
Move: As Horse in flight, and as half human while slithering.
Attack- 1d3 bite+divine poison and/or 2d4 constriction
Big enough for one person to ride, though they'll be clinging to the coatl desperately, no limbs free.

Can fly and constrict/swallow prey at the same time, an expression of invulnerability to snakes who feel vulnerable when swallowing something. Coatl do not need to eat and typically will only swallow the faithful of Yg in order to bring them to the spirit realm for reincarnation as a snake.

If able to fly, a coatl can enter or exit the spirit world with a full move action, taking anyone riding or constricted with them. The spirit world is like the real world but as it is perceived by beings, rather than as it truly is. This means that being dragged to the spirit realm by a coatl will likely result in being dumped in an idealized snake-empire afterlife oneironecropolis, assuming the coatl was encountered in some ancient snake-ruin.

The divine poison of Yg is the will of the Mother of Serpents, not some mere chemical substance, and the following effects may come about when a Coatl bites someone.
Offensive Effects
Save v Poison and Coatl's choice of:
  • Death via catastrophic organ failure. Undead immediately lose all (non skull) protections. This is a last-resort option used only on those who have well and truly pissed off the normally phlegmatic Yg.
  • Feigned Death(awaken in 24 hours). Breathing undetectable but present- surviving in a sealed coffin for the duration is possible, but not underwater.
  • Paralysis- of the 'floppy extreme weakness' sort. Only the voluntary muscles affected.
  • Sleep- Awakenable via a round of slapping, shaking, cold water applied to face, etc.
  • Blindness, Deafness, and/or Muteness- the damage is permanent, but reversible via herbal potions or Yg's mercy.
Beneficial Effects (one per bite)

  • Remove poison, disease, blindness/deafness, paralysis, minor curses (real curses can only be lifted by esoteric requirements like 'when pigs fly') and other 'status effects'
  • Heal 3d8 HP via shedding wounds. Requires some skin-shedding to ditch the itchy old wounded skin.
  • Raise as servant (As Animate Dead). Such servants are animated by a mindless copy of instinct and act as bad-tempered snakes
  • Stick to Snake (essentially an acceleration of the cycle of life, advancing from a plant to a snake, skipping a few stages of decay, growth, grazing, and predation in between.)
  • Yg's Wisdom- Allows the bitten to speak/read any language while 'poisoned.' Can also relay complex information to the bitten if desired by the Coatl- knowledge of a dungeon map, or how to sail a boat, or the contents of a book, communicated through the blood directly to the brain.
  • Bless- +1 to all rolls so long as the damage from the bite remains. Basically an adrenaline shot.

Giant Crab, Crayfish
 I don't have anything particularly interesting to say here. They have high AC and big claws. Players are often keen to eat them. On the Fault, there's a minor clan of free ogres who use blue giant crab shells as shields, and they probably serve as one of many sources of shell for the Ningen of the sea.

OG Crocodile
 A small and uninteresting entry, though the number appearing of 3d8 is certainly terrifying.

Sunset Realm Crocodile
Crocodiles are, like, various other reptilian species, essentially just snakes that did not give up their limbs to learn the wisdom of Yg, and therefore remained more animalistic and less snake-illuminati. Crocodiles also wisely refrained from participating in the promising but ultimately doomed 'Reptile Revolt' against said snake-illuminati and thus evaded the fossilized fate of their reptilian relatives, and the subsequent humiliating anthropomorphism inflicted upon the converted survivors. While Yg finds it useful to have servants with thumbs, lizard-people are as mud compared to a regular snake, their limbs and bipedalism a symbol of genetic penance, but more on them later in this series.

In any case, Crocodile skin is 10-100 times as valuable as leather
Croc leather armor as worn by Buckely, a rival adventurer from Crownless Lands. She got shot in the ankle by a PC called Ayrani and started a campaign of slander against 'Ankleshot Ayrani' that was pretty amusing. This doesn't have much to do with crocodiles but petty, grudge-laden but non-violent rival adventurers are great encounters to roll with and improv from.
 (moreso if passed off as dragon skin) and a common "+1-2 Leather" component , but many cultures restrict crocodile hunting to the priest-caste of society so that crocodile populations remain healthy and able to compete with other carnivorous monsters for ecological niches on the encounter tables. This tolerance waxes and wanes with the danger of the crocodiles to people, of course. Crocodiles in human and snake culture are often used as symbols of being set in ones ways and/or neutrality & passive acceptance of the status quo. Comparing someone to a crocodile is typically not flattering, but it's not quite an insult either- revolutionary groups have much better animals to make pointed similes with.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Due to etymological brain mush, I resisted the urge to call these things Cockatrix(Singular) and Cockatrices(plural) and instead settled on Cockatrice(Singular and Plural) for no good reason at all
AD&D Cockatrice
Cockatrice turn people to stone via touch, and come in small groups of 1d6. One thing you probably wouldn't expect from a chicken sized monster is that it has 5hd and a low AC, making it a sort of HP sponge that will give it plenty of opportunities to force saves vs stone. Like the Basilisk, its petrification aura 'extends into both the astral and ethereal planes' making it a menace to things like ghosts and, I suppose, githyanki space pirates. One must assume that touch-based petrification is not prevented by armor or clothing, explaining the high hit chance of a 5hd creature.

3.5 Cockatrice
Pretty much the same, but instead of multidimensional petrification, they have immunity to other cockatrice petrifications, presumably so they can breed.

Mythic Cockatrice
 Displaying overlap with Basilisks, some cockatrice had killing gazes to be reflected by mirrors. Or dealt with with weasels, who were immune. Some had killing breath, or a vulnerability to a rooster crowing. As with many D&Disms, petrification is a softening of the death-bringers of mythology.
They are also said to be descended from an egg laid by a rooster and incubated by a toad or snake (vice versa results in a Colo Colo).

Nethack Cockatrice
These turn you to stone with a touch even after death, making them dangerous hazards. They also can turn you to stone if you hear them hiss, though this can be prevented by eating a lizard.

Sunset Realm Cockatrice
Yg, Mother of Serpents, Longest Librarian, etc etc, is responsible for many petrification effects, or at least the ones that rely on a memetic infohazard to induce a liminal stasis loop between comprehension and ignorance (further explanation requires continuation in the Serpentine language, not clumsy Commonid).

thousands of years of magical weaponsmithing will probably never compare to a cursed chicken on a stick
Cockatrice are no exception, though Yg is only indirectly responsible in this case. A rooster is taught how to lay an egg (typically via dream-quests orchestrated by a snake-person) and the egg is then blessed by Yg in a religious ritual, and bada-bing-bada-boom, you've hijacked the biology of birds to create a weaponized conduit of Yg's infinite wisdom. While basilisks were guard beasts, cockatrice are nonlethal bioweapons designed to clear out problem areas of pesky guerilla(and gorilla) rebels with support from snake-people (snake hearing is different, on account of their lack of ears and so on, and they are immune to cockatrice hissing). Rebels who avoided the slow-onset petrifying hiss could be poked with the cockatrice directly for immediate pacification. Cockatrice leashes (mistakenly ID'd thousands of years later as 'Pike-Flails') were long poles with short chains at the end which allowed some freedom of movement, but not enough for wielder and cockatrice to interact physically, and also allowed for the cockatrice to be wielded like a rubber chicken on a stick.

As the contact petrification occurs due to fractal feathers encoded with infohazards communicating via the feeling of the fractal feathers, thick gloves, armor, or even nerve damage are sufficient protection against the touch of a cockatrice, but fresh, undamaged cockatrice corpses retain their power. Individual feathers are not sufficient, and rearranging the feathers unduly likewise alters the infohazard to uselessness, so the only option for wielding cockatrice as melee weapons really is to use the whole thing.

Cockatrice are ornery but not physically dangerous- they are snakey chickens is all. While fairly agile, one good hit should slay them, and apart from a minor possibility of losing an eye to a peck, petrification will ensue before anyone succumbs to chicken beak and talon. Weasels are immune to petrifaction due to rival Alvish bioengineering and will slay Cockatrice where they are found, and the crow of a rooster at dawn kills cockatrice instantly.

The Hiss- If you hear it clearly (within 30 feet or so) save vs stoning or pick a limb to turn to stone. An additional limb turns to stone every round/~10seconds. Snakes and weasels immune.
The Touch- Feeling a cockatrice's feathers on bare flesh (or through thin clothing, perhaps) causes a save vs instantaneous petrification, as does a successful melee attack from the beast.
Unlike basilisks, which require their own saliva to depetrify their victim, any snake, reptile, or frog venom will suffice to undo the touch of a cockatrice, as any old snake foot(or lack thereof) soldier needed to be able to destone prisoners.

The Toad Thing
The upstart Toads were able to come up with cockatrice of their own(as well as many other monstrosities), being well versed in the powers of change and metamorphosis. This didn't save them from the Snake Empire, but it explains why the froggy folk of the Dismal Bog (the moonland area of the Bog of the Canal) are so keenly aware of the dangers of cockatrice, for ancient lineages of the beasts (some said to have grown to tremendous sizes) are known to lurk in forgotten temples.

soggy, concealing cloaks and bandages to keep their skin moist are the outfit of the frog-ilk who venture into drier lands