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

Friday, October 25, 2019

Centipede, Cerebral Parasite, Chimera

OG Giant Centipedes
Giant Centipedes are the classic 'low level vermin introducing save or die poison.' They have a mere 1/4th of a HD, meaning 1-2 hp, and don't even deal damage, just save vs poison at +4 or die. While modern osr games often have death and dismemberment at 0hp rather than a flat 'you died,' if you were playing with random 1st level HP and immediate death at 0, centipede death venom is statistically safer than anything that deals HP damage of a damage die greater than your own HD.

Sunset Realm Centipedes

In ancient days of the 4th sun, the great goddess M'shesh, Mother of Undeath, had been driven from the waking world. Her temples were fallen or forgotten, her living cultists were slain, and her dead cultists were sliding into madness. She strode through the gloom of the spirit realm on the edge of Nightmare, far from the light of the outer or inner heavens, a thousand thousand of her followers following her tattered skirt. For every step she took, another soul was sent to her, screaming with the memory of being burnt by the light of the Tyrant Sun Riikhus, and another soul was lost to her, fading into the gloom, taken by some unknown temptation of the grey netherworld, perhaps to return someday, and perhaps not.

Before her was a deep swamp named Despair, and though her titan bones could wade through the murk, she feared for her tiny faithful. It was then that she came across a small heaven, dreamt by a mother centipede with a hundred children held in a hundred arms.
"I envy you, Centipede, for you can hold all that you cherish." M'shesh spoke, a hurricane.
The centipede waggled her antennae knowingly. "So too can you, Black Wind."
M'shesh looked at her arm-bones, each as vast as the mast of a ship built by giants. "I have but two limbs for this purpose, Hundred-Legs, but a thousand thousand children, and a thousand thousand more beings I wish to protect e'en tho I am spurned by they."
"She-Who-Bars-The-Way, this small one cannot help but notice you have a hollow skull, and broad shoulders, and spacious ribs, and a many-tiered spine, and wide hips, all which bear only sighs and echoes at the moment." So spake the little insect.
And then M'shesh was wiser than before, and she gathered up all her followers to her bones, and forded the swamp called Despair without a single drop of mud reaching her children. So it was that the faithful of M'shesh found their afterlife, the Osseous Scaffold, where they hang from the bones of the goddess awaiting rebirth.

All predators that care for their children are object lessons of how the sacred impulse to protect life can coexist with the profane impulse to hunt and kill to survive.  Centipede iconography is the favored symbol of this in modern M'shesh temples (ancient temples tend to show large mammalian predators). Heretic undead (such as vampires) that create spawn by forcing undeath upon others are sometimes branded with centipede tattoos, or bound in centipede-themed manacles.

OG Cerebral Parasites
Cerebral parasites are another stupid gotcha monster built to counteract psionics in such a way that it seems blatantly clear somebody involved with the AD&D MM really disliked psionics in their game. They're invisible, removable via Cure Disease, attack and are  unnoticed when doing so, and each one will drain psionic points whenever psionic powers are used and reproduce every 6 points drained. So basically you get invisible lice, lose your psychic powers and aren't sure why unless you have someone 'carefully inspect your psionic aura.' At least diseases and rot grubs have a bit of an advantage in stopping money-grubbing players from searching through trash constantly. (If you're wondering why that's a problem, consider that continual trash-sorting is a waste of game time that could be used seeking out actual treasures in actually interesting areas. But if your players all agree that trash-shuffling is great, you probably need to give them a treasure map rather than give them rot grubs.)

There are none in the Sunset Realms.

fixed it now tho
OG Chimera
 I was never a fan, really. 3 different AC's given with no explanation given, a full half-dozen relatively weak attacks simulating every single pointy end of the beast, and a 50% chance of firebreath. Also a number appearing of 1d4, another departure from the idea of the creature as a lonesome abomination. Not to mention Treasure type F which promises great treasures but usually delivers a single underwhelming result.

They just seem like a weird monster only good for the appearance of variety, while basically just being a nerfed dragon. Nothing really stands out beyond 'Hey you know that Greek Myth you read? Well here's a physical representation of that, stripped of the meaning and context of the original! Now hit it with a sword!"

And for whatever reason, I have it in my mind that a proper chimera has the head of a lion and a goat in front, and a serpent for a tail. D&D insists on a dragon instead of a serpent, and all three heads up front, and so that's all I have to say about that.

Sunset Realm Chimera

Though the classic goat-lion-snake-wing combo is well known due to a widely popularized but slightly misunderstood Beast Battle championship duel, the term 'Chimera' has both common parlance meaning any old mishmash of beasts, and an 'Official' definition which requires wings, 3 heads, at least 4 source animals(none of which may be humanish) and an unnatural origin. Chimera are not sterile, but as any potential mate must appeal to all heads of the beast, it is dashedly hard to establish breeding stock.

In any case, most chimera are not noble combinations of impressive creatures, but mishmashes of domestic animals created by mad alchemy for Beast Battler tournaments. Though there is no limit on creature combination, there are several common combinations that have gained popularity.

Rabamirel- A combination of rat, bat, mole , and squirrel. Cute and cuddly if you like rodents. Technically not a chimera, as they have only 2 heads.

Ultrabug- Spider, Scorpion, Centipede, Wasp. Terror/appeal/availability self explanatory.

Cagolope- A combination of cat, goose, and jackalope, these small but fiesty chimera are known for the wing placement which is commonly thought to be 'backwards' but when viewed as a quick backwards retreat option rather than a means of migration, the odd wing placement becomes intriguing in arena settings.

Crapmera-A combination of hyena, buzzard, worm, and pig(biting with the hyena head, charging with the boar tusks, flying with the buzzard wings, and waving about slimily with the worm-head tail) these middling-large-size creatures are considered filthy and unclean by a wide range of people, but are very easy to feed.

...And so on and so forth. If you wish to create a chimera of your own, the easiest method is to feed something a Potion of Fusion, throw it into a sack/cauldron with the things you want it fused with, and shake/stir vigorously- the animals willing to live on as part of an abomination will have heads, and those who depart the waking world will leave behind only wings, tails, claws, etc. Chimera created this way are notoriously foul-tempered.

The other method is similar to homunculous creation, in which the blood, eggs, spit, seed, etc of a creature (or creatures, in this case) is added to a sort of nutritious potion so as to create a rapidly maturing clone-thing that will have the disparate souls within satisfied with their body.

Since chimera add their mass together rather than averaging it out, adding in massive sea creatures can result in great success.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


OG Centaurs
Centaurs from the AD&D MM feel mostly like 'Fairy Tale' centaurs- sylvan, friendly with elves and gnomes but not humans. Their roving encounters are armed as follows- half being clubbers, 25% being archers, and for the remaining 25% of leaders, light lancers. I suppose this weaponry is all of wooden construction.

As expected of old GG, Gygax notes that you have a 90% chance of being to ransom the women and children (stats for slaughtering them are provided for Anakin wannabes ofc) for the centaur's treasure types of D, I, & T, which is a pretty good haul all things considered- no wonder they don't trust humans and dwarves.

From this one might conclude that the lance-bearing 'leader-types' are the men who have families, explaining why centaur leadership is prone to valuing the women and children above petty trinkets and baubles. That further implies that bravery and combat skill is valued, as 'leader-types' have lances that require charging into battle, so some sort of martial patriarchy seems a likely form of governance. The clubbers are probably men hoping to distinguish themselves in battle with threats to the herd, while the archers might be the low men of the social ladder, as they cannot distinguish themselves in melee with a bow, and are developing a different skillset entirely and so would be unlikely to 'upgrade' to lancers even if they slay many enemies with their bow. I would guess that the task of bow-hunting is necessary but dishonorable, a job assigned to centaurs who are viewed as cowards or slow-hooved.

Sunset Realm Centaurs
When two souls love each other very much, they can create offspring. See below for details
I had some players sell their firstborn child to Alves for minions. As no firstborn were immediately forthcoming, it fell to said alfspawned minions to give the players 'the talk.' The minions were under the impression that the only reason the players weren't breeding immediately to fulfill the contract was due to a lack of understanding of the metaphysics involved in the creation of new souls.

One might wonder how species are even separate at this point, and the two leading theories are

1.  Vanity leads souls to prefer forms that match their own bodies, and speciation is primarily a matter of aesthetic preference.

2. Light is orderly and categorical, so lands lit by light have suns, moons, and gods maintaining reality, whereas in the dark, everything is basically the same. That's why sunlit beings and moonspawn can be sorted into categories, whereas darkspawn are basically just a chaotic mishmash of different things, all unique but also, all alike.

This means that freakish hybrids have a perfectly normal explanation, but it's rare for the will of such disparate souls to align in such a way in the wild. Most lions and hawks will have little contact, so they can't fall for each other, hence griffons are rare (though hybrids breed true with their own hybrids, meaning semi-stable populations can emerge.) Humans and domestic animals have considerably more contact with each other though, so...

Centaurs are what you get when a horse and a human get together, meaning they broadly emerge from lonely farms and noble knights. The former just tends towards sad stories of single parents and youths who never fit in, the latter leads towards scandals and succession crises requiring thrones to be moved into the stables, or vice versa.

Centaurs are most common in King's Point/Queen's Coast/Prince's Spit, where chivalry trumps common sense, mounted knights are common, and there are several established options for a centaur of noble lineage.

1. They can work to be so charming, diplomatically astute, and full of social grace that they can be accepted into high society as just another noble with a big butt hidden under a hundred pounds of lace dresses. This tends towards repression and self-loathing for ones horsey half, but the castle of the duchess Chira Loquacia, a centaur who won't be shamed and won't be silenced, is built to accommodate these folk and proclaim the validity of being half-horse(though the inevitable matchmaking with other centaurs from the incorrigible duchess may wear one's patience thin).

2. They can become natural-born cavalry knights, clad in armor and purging the land of revolting monsters and peasants. This can lead into #1, or the extermination of monsters for Our Lady of Gardens can earn them enough favor with that stuffy goddess to invoke a miracle. Our Lady of Gardens tends to be fond of the parts of the whole that is the offspring of a noble human and a thoroughbred horse, and centaur champions may be rewarded with transformation into a human, given the ability to change between forms (night and day, typically) or, more rarely, separated into the fraternal twin horse and human their twin-soulled body was 'meant' to have been born as.

3. They can flee to the nearby Wurderlands and find acceptance in Wurdton, where the Lord of Calamities, the deity Murulu, presides over all manner of folk deemed too monstrous of form to fit in elsewhere. This is, of course, a rejection of Our Lady of Gardens and the establishment of human society and is located in the perilous moonlands, so one must be well and truly fed up with society to take this option.

Bonus Notes on Centaur Physiology

Centaur knights would have their backs snapped if they charged upright holding a lance in their arms, so they either lean way, WAY, forward to take the shock of impact down their spine rather than perpendicular to it (more common with light lances and armor) or have lances mounted on heavy armor so that steel and horse-shoulder takes the hit. These armor-mounted lances are not so much wielded as they are swiveled into attack position

Centaurs can eat anything humans can, and things like hay that humans can't. However, their teeth aren't great for that, so if they're gonna eat hay and oats, they need to mill them into something more easily comestible. Typically it's easier to just eat high-calorie human food than to go whole horse.

Breastfeeding is difficult- baby centaurs are too heavy to be cradled and nursed to human breasts, but too tall to reach horse teats properly. Some combination of kneeling, stepladders, or just milk in a bucket is probably necessary until weaned. Speaking of breasts, shirtless female centaurs seem an unlikely fantasy to be supported unless they are very flat-chested indeed- if humans IRL prefer sports bras when exercising, the galloping and cantering and trotting and so on of a horse would surely be even more unpleasant.

Centaurs as beast of burden is seen as disrespectful(unless they're a peasant centaur in which case they were beasts of burden either way), but centaur knights can find it quite handy to have a squire riding on them to pass them new lances and so on. Typically a centaur-mounted person rides facing backwards, as the centaur needs no one to steer them, and can really appreciate someone watching their back and flank.