Monday, November 28, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - L.

Lamara.

This is the analogue of the Lamia Noble (FF), serpent below the human(oid) waist, male or female. I don't think there's a BECMI/Mystaran equivalent of the non-noble sort (note: it says as much in the Mystara MC supplement).

I can only guess that someone else does her hair, because she's made a right mess of that shirt.

One of the most interesting things about the Lamara is that it cannot speak, although it understands all languages and is intelligent (score of 14). There's no information on how it communicates, even with each other (though No. Appearing is 1).

It can assume an illusory appearance that casts a powerful charm (-2 to save) against anyone of the opposite sex (of the Lamara? of the illusory appearance? what about the wider world of gender and sexuality?). We only get combat context - subjects will defend the Lamara to the death, even against their friends and allies.

It can also create an illusory enemy (apparently it only does this vs. solo adventurers), though the injuries are inflicted by the Lamara itself rather than the illusion. So this illusion is not phantasmal force, and there is no mention of disbelieving or dispelling it. Does the victim believe they are confronted by an invulnerable summoned ally of the Lamara, and can they elect to attack the Lamara in preference? 

Lava Lizard.

This is a piece of D&D fantasy fauna that feels like it should be an elemental or a construct, rather than weird wildlife. Basically, a rock-scaled/shelled giant lizard that inflicts additional heat damage and can melt nonmagical metal weapons that strike it.

That they need to stay close to lava (or other intense heat) to survive, and will freeze into statue-like immobility if they stray too far and get too cool, is interesting. Otherwise, this for me is ripe for mechanic transplant and/or reskinning.

Leviathan.

They are among the mightiest of creatures currently living on the Prime Plane at 60 HD and 3d12 bite for the Desert kind, 70 and 4d10 bite for the Marine. On top of their HD and hp, they only take half damage from all weapons and spells (so effectively x2 hp), and are additionally immune to spells that don't cause hp damage. Poison doesn't work either.

The Desert Leviathan in not-that-big shock.

The Desert Leviathan is 'only' 500' long, so significantly shorter than a full-grown Great Annelid (at 1000'), and the Marine a mere 650'. With their stats, I don't think there's any problem making them bigger, especially as the Desert Leviathan is obviously a Sandworm/Shai-Hulud analogue (it's even attracted by vibrations).

Their bite attack is an AoE weapon, allowing a -4 dragon breath save to avoid being swallowed; otherwise, 4d12 hp digestion damage per round. If you survive/aren't dissolved in 1 turn, then it will spit you out. Magical items can't be digested and the Leviathan's innards have a worse AC than the exterior.

Marine Leviathans can swim around and around to create a whirlpool capable of sinking a ship of up to 80+d100 hull points. This appears to be a narrative ability with a mechanical limit.

Because of CoC, I'm always rather taken with fairly simple but destructively awesome monsters. However, the same caveats apply here as with Juggernauts and Earthquake Beetles - I think they absolutely should be more than just a straight fight (is there a one-page dungeon set inside a giant worm?). Of course, these big-hitter monsters are not just part of the fantasy world ecology - they're a necessary (meta)game challenge for Companion and Master level adventurers.

Could a Marine Leviathan swallow the CC Kraken? Which would win in a simple fight of hit-and-damage rolls? Which would deserve to? How many retainers with crossbows would you need to take either down in one round?

They are classed as Worms in 2e, but aren't changed much - the main takeaway is that you only need to score 50 hp to cut your way out after being swallowed. The Marine Leviathan's whirlpool takes it 3 rounds to swirl up - that's 3 minutes in AD&D.

Living Statue.

The Living Statues, as they are presented in older D&D, are a fun little category I've always enjoyed - partly because they're golems that you can get to grips with at lower levels. And who doesn't like shooting/ being shot at by magma from their fingertips?

The other thing I like is that they're somewhat intelligent - score of 7, so the upper end of the Bugbear/Ogre intelligence range. Implying some kind of free-will? Personality? Feelings? I don't think they're mere constructs, and I'm happy for them to be playable characters under the right circumstances.

2e elaborates a little on their intelligence, describing it as modest but allowing them to fight sensibly and effectively - targeting spell-casters, using simple devices/mechanisms, sounding alarms, even lighting burning oil to dump on adventurers.

Not specifically immune to poison in CC.

Anyway.

Jade: Very magic resistant, so much so that magical weapons don't get to apply their plusses. Leave only worthless powder instead of valuable fragments when destroyed. Implied (by the illo) that these would be 'oriental' in design.

Rock/Ooze: magic-resistant rock statues full of Grey Ooze instead of magma to squirt out of their fingertips, with the ability to merge into the surface of a rock wall, floor, or ceiling. I take this to mean 'becoming one with' but could also just mean dungeon camouflage. See MM2's Vilstrak.

In 2e, it splits open when you kill it and you get to fight the Grey Ooze that spills out.

Silver: Much smaller than normal living statues (about one foot high) with 1+1 HD and a 2d4 bite attack. Immune to non-metallic weapons, non-magical weapons and non-magical fire. Half damage only from edged weapons. Leave 50gp of silver behind when destroyed.

Either these are toothy imp statues or shaped like animals. I would definitely consider crossing with the Silver Golem, or at least the growth/shrink ability. 

Probably my favourite of the lot; it gets my imagination going.

2e says they are humanoid, and that they bite because their tiny fists are ineffective. Makes me think of an acting award or sporting trophy come to life.

Steel: Non-magical iron and steel weapons stick to it, and are absorbed on the next round to heal the statue 2-5 hp. An advance on the classic Iron Living Statue.

2e has magical weapons getting stuck but not absorbed. Retrieve them with an open doors roll.

Lizard, Giant Foot-Pad.

Apart from it being specified that they can be trained as mounts and pack animals (you get speed vs. load stats), this is basically a lower damage, lower HD reskin of the Giant Gecko.

I have almost no opinion on them.

Lizard, Rockhome*.

The possible ancestor of the lizard man (which is both grim in its way, and interesting) and taking d6 hits per hour when exposed to sunlight... but these are pretty much '3 HD flightless birds'. 

In-setting, they're the subterranean pack animals of Dwarves and Gnomes, from GAZ6 Dwarves of Rockhome. They're a nice feature of the culture of another 'monster' but not that much in themselves.

Lupin.

Lawful tribal humanoids (they're basically Gnolls as goodies, but with dog heads) that can spot Werewolves even in human form and attack them on sight. Armed with silver swords, and lances and arrows tipped with silver. Ride and fight on Dire Wolves.

Due to a Monty Python sketch I hear the flower rather than the wolf in their name. 

They were one of the factions in my long-lost Neolithic/Proto-Celtic settings, though I think I made them full on wolf-headed rather than dog.

2e puts forward that they could be related to Werewolves, mentioning a Great Division, and gives them only 90% chance of spotting Werewolves in human form (15% for other Lycanthropes). That they are repelled by wolfsbane. That they have human-like hair on their heads. That a white-furred Lupin has special abilities - spell-casting, psionics. That not all Lupins hunt Werewolves.

No mention of any relation to or with the Wolfwere (MM2).

Lycanthrope, Werejaguar*.

Apart from that there are Cleric Werejaguars that are minions of evil Immortals, this is an unremarkable fil-in-the-gaps were-monster. 

What Was Left Out - Leveller (Bodendruker).

Gargantuan green elephant with eight trunks and specially adapted feet for 'levelling' the ground it tramples. Eats Purple Worms, which it pounds the ground to expose. Stomp attack is AoE; save vs. death ray or die and all your gear flattened/destroyed, otherwise d100 hp.


A curiosity. Feels more like a denizen of All The Worlds Monsters, if not for The Book of Imaginary Beings (Borges) being such an influence on D&D monsters.

Doesn't make it to DMR2, let alone 2e. Native to our planet Neptune, according to sources.

Monday, November 21, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - I, J & K.

Ice Wolf.

They come in three sizes (3+1, 4+1 and 5+1 HD varieties, though described generally as big as a pony), and can be trained as mounts by the kind of humanoids you'd expect. They have a frosty breath weapon (d4 damage per HD).

The AD&D Winter Wolf (MM) has 6 HD and its breath weapon scores 6-24 hp, so Ice Wolves are just the Mystaran variant. 

It might just be clumsy editing/writing, but the text describes them as huge hounds so maybe they had a different name at some point close to publication. I wonder if there's any relation to the Hounds of Kerenos as statted by Graham Staplehurst.

Jellyfish, Giant.

Giant jellyfish if you need them. I have trouble visualising a standard combat involving them vs. adventurers - even though the text makes clear they use their tentacles as an active attack.

Two types, the Marauder and the Man-o-War. The Marauder is mechanically identical to the largest (4 HD) Portuguese Man-o-War, Giant from the 1e MM, though its sting is weaker (+4 to save).

They do make it into the 2e Mystara supplement, or rather the Marauder does, joined by the Death's Head (it's got a skull pattern) and the Galley (a fast swimmer and a deadly surface combatant, which can also shoot a stream of venom).

Juggernaut.

Huge magical machines - Golems on rollers/wheels, built like house, pyramids... even statues.

Stone Juggernauts (30 HD) crush you for 10d10 hp, Wooden (25 HD) for 8d10 - this attack is 30' wide, can harm multiple targets (they are allowed save vs. dragon breath to evade). Against a single victim, no save if it hits. 

Stone juggernauts can easily crush small buildings.

They have a basic save of 4+ (Stone) or 5+ (Wood, but auto-fail vs. magical fire), and carry their treasure inside.

I like the idea of these Juggernauts being adventure sites or monster lairs rather than simply brutal opponents, running them like I might something like the Earthquake Beetle.

I know I once had plans for undead-infested Juggernauts, along Triumph of Death lines, with names expressing their themes (Puzzlebox, Skinning Parlour, Flesh Foundry, Bonemachine and Ziggurat are the only ones I can remember).

Kal-Muru (Shipbane).

Some sort of Air Elemental that haunts the seas, making mist and mischief (of the ship's crew slaying variety). A real danger to mundane sailors who lack the HD and magic weapons to have any sort of chance against them.

A minimum of 10 Kal-Muru are needed to generate a thick, obscuring sea-fog, and the more of them there are, the further it spreads. As well as being unaffected by the winds, the fog also induces confusion (save at +4 if 5 HD or more, no effect at 8 and above).

Keep them as elementals, make them undead or demonic or djinni - whatever you like.

Featured in module X8, with the Kara-kara, below.

Kara-kara.

If you think Orcs are racist, then get ready for the Kara-kara. Not only Orcs, but also a caricature of the bone-through-the-nose-cannibal-savages-of-the-tropical-isles.

X8 Drums on Fire Mountain.
Art by Brian Williams.

Even so, for a tribal humanoid with some trappings that have not well stood the passage of time, broadening of audiences, and evolution of attitudes, the Kara-kara are... okay monsters?

CC gives us a description pretty close to what you can see in the pic above, and there's the standard tribal monster notes on females, young, weapon choice/distribution and spell-casters. In this case, they're known as manwu-papas or witch doctors - preferring the reverse of Cleric spells, because they're Chaotic.

As well as being followers of a pig cult, they are also a singing people. I imagine them having pleasant voices (to human ears), far from the presumed gutturals of Orcish. The males have a battle chant which gives a non-magical boost to their Morale and hit points, and makes them equivalent to 2 HD monsters when dealing with certain effects (sleep spell is the given example). Presumably, there can be other songs.

They consider precious metals to be worthless (no good for making practical implements), but pearl and jade can be found in their treasure hoards.

They're the feature-creature of module X8, so that's their context and expanded background if you have it for reference. As far as I know, they don't turn up anywhere else.

Killer Tree.

2e says that this is the Mystaran Hangman Tree (MM2).

Which could work.

RAW, the Killer Tree is a 6 HD monster with 4 grabbing attacks, followed by a 3d6 bite - a lot less subtle and Tolkien-adjacent than the Hangman Tree. And look at that maw.

Kna.

I'm fairly sure these are the BECMI/Mystaran analogue of the Locathah, though the Kna are orange rather than yellow, ride Mashers (the higher HD version in the M section) rather than giant eels, are enormously strong if their +5 to damage is not a typo (it's in AC9 earlier, but there's no comment on Strength or a damage bonus when they appear in 2e) and are 10 to 12 feet tall. 

I'm not specifically saying that the Locathah (or the wider aquatic tribal humanoid monster family) are boring, but this really feels like someone decided they could do with a zhuzhing-up.

Apart from that +5 damage in the statblock, there are no mechanics - the text is pure flavour; culture, technology, habitat, that there are both peaceful traders and ship-wrecking pirates amongst them. It is this that makes it (for me) a monster worth thinking about.

They can't breathe air, which I think is an interesting touch. Intermediaries or magic if you want to trade with them (maybe the Aquatic Elves are really keen for the Kna to join the community of intelligent humanoids and that's why they make and trade potions of water breathing).

2e tells us that Kna is pronounced NAH, that the wrecker-pirates call themselves uyagh and the Kna have a special body/sign language (in addition to a spoken one) that can get across basic concepts. Some details on family and tribal composition (including tame sea animals/monsters), claw and bite damage, infravision, half damage from blunt weapons (rubbery skin), +1 save vs. normal fire, how long they survive out of water (2d4 rounds). And that they're the sworn and ancient enemy of the Kopru (next monster). 

We also learn that Kna blood is an ingredient in potions of water breathing, which could put those Aquatic Elves mentioned earlier in a whole different light - the haughty, magic-using Elves taking a blood tithe from the beings they see as primitive brutes, perhaps, and the uyagh are those who would not submit (or survivors seeking revenge).

Yeah. I like the Kna.

Kopru.

Described as amphibians, but maybe just amphibious (and restricted to hot springs and tropical swamps): facial tentacles around a sphincter mouth, humanoid torso, clawed arms, three fluke-like tails instead of legs. They will bite you for 1d4 hp, but can also crush you in the coils of all three tails for 3d6 (doesn't specify if this is auto-damage/constriction).

Their signature weapon is a powerful charm - save vs. death ray (which means it's an easier save than vs. spells, unless I'm mistaken) or you are now completely loyal to the Kopru; it can read your thoughts and knows your memories, as well as direct you at any distance. Not only that but you will work in their interests even without direct orders, and will also carry on as normally as you can to disguise your allegiance. 

Fortunately, if you make your save (or throw off control - check each month; or apply dispel magic etc; or kill the controller) you are no longer subject to charm from that Kopru or the rest of the same group (this is not further defined).

They're one of the feature-creatures of X1 Isle of Dread, and one of way of reading things is that the (two? three?) Kopru you encounter are the only ones left.

I've always felt the Kopru were conceptually and/or thematically in the same kind of monster category as Mind Flayers, and not just because of the facial tentacles (as a matter of fact both the CC Kopru and the MM Mind Flayer have 8+4 HD, checking now). 2e goes as far as to venture that kopru are related to mind flayers as mermen are related to humans.

Also, compare with the Kappa (Dragon Warriors rpg & Golden Dragon gamebooks).

2e gives them a claw/claw/bite and more detailed tail(s) attack. The charm is further defined to include the victim being completely unaware that they are being controlled, and the effect is permanent until dispelled. Some notes on families/eggs, that they are female led, that their charm-related mind-reading is possibly a vestige of their past psionic ability at the height of their civilisation.

Kraken.

What it lacks in intelligence and special abilities in comparison to the 1e MM2 Kraken, it makes up for with 64 HD and almost 1000' of tentacular monstrosity. 

You need to score 60 hp to sever one of its tentacles.

Quite awesome. Definitely eats sperm whales; probably also Dragon Turtles.

Monday, November 14, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - H

I'm going to say the Huptzeen is my favourite from this section, but it's also the one I've had the least time to think about - only learned anything about it by doing the research for this readthrough.

Haunt, Lesser.

Fairly traditional ghostly entity. Similar in motive, but not execution, to the MM2 Haunt.

You can't Turn it, you can't fight it - only certain haunts have the ability to cause fear (save or flee and unwilling to return), and you can only defeat/help it by special means decided by the DM.

It's a puzzle to solve or a (side)quest giver. For which you receive 100 XP.

Hawk.

If a Hawk (Normal or Giant) surprises you, it scores double-damage on its first attack.

Hephaeston.

Another one from Where Chaos Reigns - an iron-skinned giant with 25 HD. Can levitate and heat iron/steel objects, as well as grab you and throw you to the ground.

Basically Hephaestus/Vulcan as a monster species, and they're primarily interested in metalwork. Awesome as threat, ally or quest goal.

2e tells us that the weapons they make are +2 (non-magical), though I'm not sure how small, fiddly and human-sized they can manage. 

Herex.

I had some idea that the Herex were based on the Cynthians from Susan Schwartz's Heritage of Flight, but the novel is 1989 compared to AC9's 1986. But maybe that's because there are a lot of giant bug monsters across the monster manuals as well as sci-fi, and they start to blur into one another.

Their eggs can lie dormant for many years before hatching when you disturb them. The larva start out at 6 HD with an acidic, armour-damaging bite and they're hungry. The larvae then spend 5-10 months devouring everything they can, remaining underground, and growing an extra 6 HD.

At 12 HD, they burrow up to the surface, shed their skin and emerge as a 13 HD winged adult with acid bite and paralysing tail-stinger. Then they look for a mate, lay some eggs and die.

A fairly conventional lifecycle.

Without knowing their original context, the Herex feel like an almost-nostalgic monster pest scenario for high-level characters. For lower level play, the Herex could be something not meant to be fought - a source of devastation to shake up a campaign or to shape a setting.

2e says there's a use for their acid saliva, but not for their shed carapaces.

Hivebrood.

They're called The Hivebrood in AC9, suggesting equally a one-off and an omnipresent threat. They're not evil, but they use paralysed victims as hosts for their young and converting them into insectoids as their method of propagation. 

There's a heavy sci-fi scent to them, with a flavour profile incorporating Alien/Aliens, The Thing, Starship Troopers and 40k's Tyranids. How much of this retrospection, I can't really say, especially as the aforementioned are only the easiest examples - a hierarchical-hive-bug-monster that assimilates other creatures is not the rarest concept.

Presented as ant-like in their implacability, the Hivebrood could also work as a more flexible-minded and subtle foe - closer to Tyranid Genestealers or Innsmouth Deep Ones. In fact, they don't need to be enemies by motive, just biological and social incompatibility.

Lots of stats and mechanics, because there are multiple types that derive from each other - Broodlings, Hivebrood (workers and soldiers), Hiveleaders, Broodmothers and Hiveminds.

Hiveminds can gain the abilities of creatures they devour, including spell-casting, and share this ability with other Hivebrood through chemical transmission. So, Cy-Bugs from Wreck-It Ralph, too.

Simply because of their proximity on the page, you could combine Herex with Hivebrood (as one creature or separate threats) to really wreck a campaign.

They get a little bit of a name-change in 2e: Broodling, Soldier, Lieutenant, Mother and Controller. Nice detail that the Broodlings use their host's teeth to imitate the wet clacking sounds the more insectoid Hivebrood make with their mandibles.

Homunculus.

The Fylgar (a bit like a cherub/putti with a whip-like tail), Gretch and Ulzaq (Imp/Quasit analogues; with the Gretch/Quasit similarities being closest) - they're familiars, but are also the special form taken by an Immortal (demi-god and upwards) on a special mission or as a penance. You can attempt to bind them to you if they haven't chosen to serve willingly.

They're all closer to the Imp and Quasit in terms of abilities than they are to the MM's Homonculous (sic). 

Unanswered questions regarding the interface between Immortal and Homunculus identity, and the process of becoming/unbecoming. Could the Homunculus be a shortcut to binding a deity to your will, or an opportunity to overthrow them?

Called Familiars in 2e, because Homunculus/Homonculous is already taken, and because of the more complex alignment system of AD&D, the category is swelled by the (good) Aryth and the (evil) Bogan.

Bogan is an example of why you should (nowadays) always Google your made-up monster names.

Hook Beast.

The Hook Horror and the Hulker (Umber Hulk without confusion ability) are apparently related, with the latter being the brains of the operation (INT 6 vs. 4).

The Hulker - more eyes, less confusion, and those teeny claws do 2d6 damage each.

The Hook Horror stats are pretty much identical to the Fiend Folio version: it gets a hefty 3d6 bite in CC.

I never really cared for Hook Horrors in the first place, and pairing them with not-quite-Umber Hulks doesn't do much to change that.

Hutaakan.

Anubis-people. Jackal-headed 'tribal' humanoids that once ruled a great empire but are now reduced to isolated communities in the kind of places adventurers end up in. They've got infravision and Move Silently % as a Thief of equivalent level to their HD (so 1st or 2nd for most of them).

They're a haughty, callous race, dominated by their priests (min. 2 HD so they all have a spell, up to 11th level), but see themselves as a sensitive, civilized, intellectual people. No mention that they were slavers until the entry for Man, Isolated further down the line.

I can see potential in these stealthy Anubises, possibly seasoned with a little Cynidicean (see also Man, Isolated), to make something out of them away from their original Mystaran context. Possibly hidden people of the necropolis, pretending (as tricksters or delusional) to be spirits, ghouls and gods amongst the tombs and temples of the human inheritors/conquerors.

Hypnosnake.

Monster snake (8 HD) with psychedelic hypnotic gaze that puts you to sleep - and itself if you can make it gaze into a mirror for a full round (so not just a flash of the glass).

It doesn't need to be a snake; transplant the special ability onto any name and statblock you like.

What Was Left Out - Huptzeen.

A construct that resembles a fancy/ornamental/precious object, can cast spells (MU level=HD but only spells known to its creator) and moves by slow, magical flight. Explodes if you take it to 0 hp or less.

They have an INT of 11 and understand language (at least, Common).

You can leave one as a guardian (possibly a spy, but it doesn't say how they talk back); it's not clear how obvious it is as the source of the spells it casts.

More intriguingly, you can carry or wear one, and amulet and staff are given as examples. A cooperative Huptzeen gives a Magic User significantly augmented casting power: not only do you get extra castings of some of your spells, it can also cast them simultaneously with (better than haste) and independently of you (approaching contingency).

It makes a comeback in 2e, and some of my points above are addressed. For instance, it gets the ability to talk back to you, but only if it has access to a relevant spell. Costs but not process for construction, as well as recoupable fragments on destruction and price for selling on (you have to trust the seller hasn't told the Huptzeen to betray you).

It's a cool magic item as much as it is a monster; the intelligent sword for Magic Users.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - G

There're a lot of high HD monsters in the CC (in this section, the Gakarak and the Iron Gargoyle both have 16 HD) and this is partly a feature of BECMI/RC, with things scaled to 36 character levels. As far as I can tell, every monster that survives into AD&D 2e carries over their original HD (except where they are subsumed into a pre-existing monster).

Gakarak (Forest Brooder).

A double-strength Treant with special abilities that is one of the oldest creatures on the Prime Plane. They hang out in the deepest and most ancient woods, thinking about how much they hate humans and humanoids (except maybe for Druids). This feeling is so intense it pervades the woodlands, giving a palpable atmosphere of doom and hostility (no mechanical effect).

There's nothing in the text about their relationship with Treants.

They have un-italicised abilities to speak with and charm/control/grow plants in their vicinity - hiding trails and traps, hindering progress, blocking off routes. At closer range, they can animate trees and bushes like a Treant - up to 6 at a time, bushes somewhat weaker than trees. 

The Gakarak can teleport (no chance of error) through vegetation within its wood. It can shoot four wooden darts each round or smite you with its 4d6 magic club (save or entangled and helpless for 6 turns).

As well as regenerating 3 hp/round when in contact with vegetation (does not say if this is overcome by acid/fire, or brings it back from the dead), it can't be harmed by electricity, wooden weapons or attacks from plants and animals (though I think this latter is restricted to its home territory). Blunt weapons only score 1 hp, plus magic and Strength bonus.

Treat as an elemental terror of the wilderness, rather than a homicidally grumpy Ent and I think there's a great monster here. The darts feel a little bit incongruous, but I suspect this is to do with the power scaling of BECMI/RC and it 'needs' multiple attacks per round to stand against Companion level champions.

Compare with the DW Okeman, with which this is worth combining to make a mighty elder forest spirit. I'd also consider the Gakarak an excellent choice as a precursor form for a special Fomorian.

Gargoyle, Iron.

Due to the intense heat within its body, the Iron Gargoyle is very bright to infravision, but it doesn't cause heat damage or heat exhaustion - though it can breathe a cone of fire. Counterintuitively (to my mind), it takes x2 damage from cold attacks. 

If it strikes you with its tail, you must save or be stunned d3 rounds, and it can try to crush you with its body from flight (damage and stun - save to avoid); 16 HD; a bunch of immunities (including spells up to 3rd level); can detect invisible. Otherwise, a big metal construct, made to guard stuff.

I like this kind of almost-robot monster, but it doesn't really fit with my personal take on standard Gargoyles as being a weird species rather than constructed beings. However, maybe the Iron Gargoyle is the thing Gargoyles make (or release) when they go to war.

2e gives you the recipe for making one: 125,000gp; 5 months to do; 18th level+ Magic User; spells - wish, polymorph any object, geas, fireball, fly. 

In CC, it has 5 Intelligence to zero in 2e.

Garl.

Originally, they're the world-specific evolutionary rivals of Humans and Elves in Where Chaos Reigns, guided by the time-travelling Oards.

Here, they're very primitive humans, more primitive even than the neanderthals with 6 HD and +4 Strength bonus, making them Ogre-beating. Basically a narratively and mechanically underdeveloped tribal humanoid.

Jez Goodwin and #BOSR

Use their stats for big Ogres and/or small Hill Giants, or Sasquatches in a cryptids-based game.

Gator Man.

More tribal humanoids, with 7 HD and up to 7th level Clerics. Supposedly the result of an evil wizard's experiments centuries ago, they're the mortal enemies of lizard men

As well as a weapon attack at +3 hit and damage due to 18 Strength, they also get a bite attack for 3d6. All told, they're about on a par with RAW Hill and Stone Giants while 'only' being 7-8' tall.

I've not even said that they're scaly humanoids with alligator heads. Did you need me to?

Stripped down to stats and basic description, I could use them as the basis for Dinosaur or Dragon People because the alligator head image is pretty strong, but otherwise I think they're fairly unremarkable outside of whatever gaming context they originally had.

In 2e they only get 2d4 damage for their bite, and their Strength gives less bonus in AD&D - though this gives their stronger chiefs a hefty +7 damage bonus over BECMI/RC.

Geonid.

Weird little subterranean rock people. Tribal humanoids with non-spell casting priests as leaders. They are described as having a shell, so I think they're living beings rather than elemental. Geonids can pull in their limbs like a turtle and look almost indistinguishable from a lump of rock in a cave.


They get a whole page entry in the 2e Mystara MC, which makes it a lot clearer that they're fleshy under that boulder-like shell, as well as having a language of clicks and shell gestures incomprehensible to outsiders. They also cultivate mosses to eat, and supplement their diet with hunted/scavenged/meat.

Possibly interesting when integrated into a larger dungeon ecology, especially if they are able to hide their presence until a suitably dramatic moment.

Ghoul, Elder.

It's a more powerful Ghoul, but it can also generate a sphere of eerie green light that causes weakness if you fail your save.

Hmm.

Basically a fool-you-once monster (it looks exactly like a normal ghoul) for when you've got complacent about Ghouls.

That it's Elder (whether because it is actually a revered elder of the pack or because it's got eldritch history) is not expanded on. 

Ghostly Horde.

Not so much a monster but a special location (where an army met a sudden and catastrophic defeat). Rather than a variety of undead or Enchanted (the type given in CC) monster, it's a projection of the character's experience. And you don't get XP for interacting with it.

You make three saves in a row. Fail the 1st and you see the horde appear, fail the 2nd and you see them ready to charge, fail the 3rd and you have to fight a single 3 HD opponent during what appears to be an overwhelming assault. Make any of these saves and the horde doesn't appear/fades away.

Should you be hit by the ghostly soldier, you save vs. KO. If you defeat your foe, you will not see the horde again. Presumably it vanishes.

The mechanics of the Ghostly Horde feel like they have more of a place in a parapsychological setting than a fantastical one - why have phenomena when you can have actual undead? However, I like it precisely because it ties into that parapsychological worldview.

2e addresses the fact that not everyone in a party is going to see or experience the same thing when they 'encounter' a Ghostly Horde.

Golem.

Rock: A sort-of analogue for the Stone Golem, it can be shaped to look like a statue or caryatid, but usually just looks like a rock formation until it attacks.

Normal weapons automatically break when used against it; magic weapons get a save.

It gets two fist attacks for 2d10 damage each. Which is the same as the Fungoid, but the Golem doesn't have a chance of knocking you down.

2e recipe: 1 month; 50k gp; 14th+ level MU; limited wish, move earth, stoneskin, geas.

Silver Golem: Always wins Initiative, gets double attacks per round (in this case, a total of 4 fist attacks) and is immune to slow, presumably because it is filled with quicksilver.

Fire (heat?) makes it grow and cold makes it shrink, 1 HD per spell level RAW and no equivalences for unlevelled/non-magical attacks or hazards. While a number of specific immunities are listed (including any form of electrical attack), fire and cold are not among these. Nor whether the growth/shrinkage is durational or not. Interpret this as you wish.

I quite like this - especially the growth/shrink ability, but it's definitely more a Quicksilver than Silver Golem. 

Leaves 1000gp of salvageable silver when defeated.

2e recipe: all the normal conjurings; 50lbs of quicksilver; 100k gp; 14th+ level MU; 6 months; limited wish; haste; lightning bolt; domination; major creation.

Grey Philosopher.

Undead (ghostly) Chaotic Cleric that just sits there in some dungeon, grappling with some unresolved deep thoughts. Ironically, having survived bodily death, it will not reach a conclusion/enlightenment until it is destroyed by adventurers. It seems to think this is worth laughing about.

The Philosopher doesn't do anything except think really deeply (and cannot be Turned), but is defended by wispy little horrors formed from its evil notions, and called Malices. These cause more damage the further your Alignment lies from Chaotic, and are Turned as Spectres. Get rid of them and you can set to the Philosopher with magic weapons.

2e adds a lingering fear effect from its laughter-on-destruction (save or -1 Dex from shivering), and gives a Malices-to-centuries calculation.

It's an interesting monster concept that could be applied to other undead. Malices as written are little faces, gaping maws and little claws, but there's no reason they couldn't look like wasps, bluebottles, owls, crows, moths, shuriken, holy/unholy symbols, skulls, ostentatious quill pens etc. 

Guardian Warrior & Horse.

The Terracotta Army for D&D.

Some immunities/resistances that could be common to lots of other constructs; a little bit of how-to-make.

Gyerian.

Basically, this is a 3 HD flightless bird monster that has been given intelligence and some fleshing out with regards diet, society, habits etc. to make a tribal humanoid.

I get strong Alice in Wonderland vibes from them. Their personality: very excitable, extremely nervous, and impatient. Their special ability: knocking you over with a powerful sneeze.

How seriously are you meant to take them? Possibly there's some context I'm missing. I don't have a burning desire to search it out.

From D&D to 2e AD&D they keep their Morale value of 8, effectively lowering it as the latter is on a d20 scale, the former 2d6.

What Was Left Out - Ghoul, Vapour.

I could have waited until V, as it's given as Vapour Ghoul in AC9, but I'll stick it here with the Ghoul, Elder for consistency.

Tim Sell illustrated House of Hell, too.

They look like and are Turned as Wraiths, with stats closer to Wights. 

Their special attack is mind-paralysis, meaning you carry on your present activity for 2-8 rounds (how to manage this isn't expanded on). 

You also take temporary Intelligence damage, going insane at 0 (recover in 2-20 days) - this kind of insanity is acting as opposite to your Alignment/Class/stats/background/character as possible.

These creatures form in areas of strife where the vapours are heavy. Suggestive of pre-scientific, proto- parapsychological reasoning. I could work with this.

I wonder if they reappeared in any Ravenloft supplements? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - F

Faedorne.

Female creatures of great beauty that live on strange timeless islands which float high above the world. 

I'd characterise them as Neutral Elven demi-gods, with powers of illusion, scrying, summoning (Silver Warriors, detailed later on) and 12th-level Magic User equivalence. Text says they embody many elvish ideals but prefer to be subtle in their interventions.

Faedorne (and Silver Warriors) as appearing in the 1984 module O2 Blade of Vengeance by Jim Bambra; Moorcockian stylings by Jeremy (Jez) Goodwin; #BOSR.

Their islands are known as the Shining Isles and are only visible at night, when they appear to be stars or satellites or other heavenly points of light. You could take this to mean they are invisible during the day, or out of phase, or not physically present, or are the product of a sleeper's dreams.

I like to think of the Shining Isles as being fragments of a nearby faerie dimension, or else the Isles and the Faedornae (they slip the plural in) as being of sufficiently advanced technology that they are indistinguishable from magic.

While on the Shining Isles (their own or any?), a Faedorne's phantasmal force is at -5 to disbelieve, and there's a reading that suggests they it can be used to project visions at a great distance (appearing to the communicant in a mirror or pool).

An old setting of mine had 'Star People' that were an approximation of the Faedorne (with a brush of the big-eared ancient astronauts to them). More recently, I think of them as being the ancient eldritch folk who would one day become these Fomorians.

Feywing.

There are hints of a weirder-looking creature when comparing the description (bulbous, elastic body) to the Dave Simons illo, which shows what is basically a three-headed Dragon - which is what the Feywing basically is.

No breath weapon, but it can carry off cattle impaled on its horned snouts - which makes a change to claws (specified as both soft and weak). There's no elaboration on this, so maybe it's for narrative purposes; I suppose a 'kill' can be abstracted as fulfilling the conditions to impale-and-carry-off.

Its tail is feeble but prehensile, which I find suggestive, alongside it being intelligent enough to gather treasure as a lure and for bargaining. It has a given Intelligence of 4 and there's no mention of speech, so maybe it uses its tail to make significant gestures, or scratching messages in the dust if you want to go further.

The Feywing can deflect arrows and daggers with its horny, hooded eyes 40% of the time, which I sometimes conflate/confuse with the Dracolisk's nictitating eye membranes. Why not add both characteristics the next time you need to spice up a Black Dragon for an adventure?

Incidentally, they can attack with a three bites (2d4 each) or three horn gores (d10 each) or a combination. So maybe an impale for carrying something off is simply a successful horn gore? One for a halfling, three for a cow.

One monster that I would be interested to see further detailed in AD&D 2e, but - alas.

Fish, Giant.

Catfish: Giant fish that can use its mouth-feelers to attack, even though that's not their primary purpose. 

Use as the base stats for a BECMI/RC Aboleth, maybe?

Carp (Gargantua): it can swallow whole any opponent of less than giant size, smashes things with its tail and can produce a blast of water that can knock you off your feet and propel you 100'.

I think of this as being one of those sea monsters routinely drawn on old maps and I like it.

Fish, Piranha (Cold-Water).

It says Cold-Water, but we've really only got their word for it.

Piranha: In tropical waters, they can be bigger (2hp rather than 1). Attack in shoals, so some transferable swarm mechanics. 

Plus they get attack and damage bonuses when in a feeding frenzy.

Giant Piranha: Their feeding frenzy means they don't have to make Morale Checks.

Specifically says they inhabit warm fresh waters.

AD&D 1e Fiend Folio has Quippers, which are a little bit more robust than the regular Piranhas here.

Flitterling.

As themselves, I don't really like them (another type of miniature faerie folk), but I think there's promise in the details.

As presented, they're one-quarter of an inch tall, so barely qualified for the 1 hp they are given. Their physical attack is to stab with their equally tiny silver swords. A group of five can cause 1 hp on a successful attack, if you're armoured or have a natural descending AC of 5 (+4) or better and 2 hp if you're unarmoured/ natural descending AC of 6 (+3) or worse. A point of damage kills a Flitterling, but you can only kill a maximum of 5 per blow. No elaboration regarding magic and AoE. A reasonable swarm mechanic.

Their preferred attacks are to sing at you. A group of 50 can charm monster or cause fear by song. Multiple groups cannot affect the same target. Keep those number requirements, but attach to the next settlement the adventurers visit - Normal Humans (or ghosts!) able to survive in the monster-haunted wilderness, as long as the bonds of community are not disrupted.

They're bound to their homes (tree trunks and mushrooms), and to the rings of magical mushrooms they cultivate. Damage their homes beyond repair and/or deplete their mushrooms by more than 50%, and they'll die in d6 horrible days.

Magic mushrooms of varying colours give varying useful effects: neutralize poison, haste, clairvoyance, cure light wounds, especially nourishing food. They will allow you to pick mushrooms if you are friendly with them, but will fight to the death if you try to take more than your fair (and their vital) share.

Bolt the special abilities onto a statblock and you've got some serviceable Myconid analogues/variants. Maybe they could also be linked to the Fungoid (below)? Possibly as their avenger, or maybe just as their muscle. 

Frog, Giant Poisonous.

I always have time for Giant Frogs.

This one is bright yellow and lurid green, has a grabbing tongue and is poisonous even just to the touch.

Fundamental.

Apart from their ACs, Move rates and the Fire Fundamental being immune to fire, all four types of Fundamental are mechanically/statistically identical. 

They're nothing more than pairs of air/earth/fire/water composed batwings that fly around without a body. Sometimes follow summoned Elementals.

I'd probably replace their swoop attack with something other than a damage die: maybe Air deafens, Earth bashes your head in, Fire sets you alight, Water stuns you with 1 round of drowning. Possibly also an equivalent benign ability.

They're weird and alien, so I quite like them. Maybe they can join the Neutral (evil) with Unratable Intelligence crew?

In 2e, they all get a little more detail - basically fluff but including some habits and quirks as well as more physical description, and all perfectly serviceable.

Fungoid.

It's an ogre-sized humanoid fungus that can't be affected by spells vs. plants, because fungus aren't strictly speaking plants. The text doesn't go any deeper, but I suppose this is based on the scientific fact(oid?) that fungi are more like animals than they are like plants (or something). 

They're also (nearly) mindless, so no illusions or charms or similar work against them. Text specifies that the Fungoid never fails a morale check, but it wouldn't anyway because its Morale is 12 - or have I been labouring under a misapprehension for years?

Takes double damage from fire, and cold does no damage but stuns it. Interesting. For further elaboration, you could make the Fungoid immune to crits/impales and maybe have weapons getting stuck in it.

The Fungoid is simultaneously incredibly strong but kind of soft and squidgy, so it is described as only causing 2d10 hp with each of its fist attacks (you're also knocked down if you fail to save). However, this is the same damage as a Rock Golem (next post), so - while it's more likely this is just a case of separate creators and an oversight/non-existence of balance/standardisation - it implies that the Fungoid is stronger than the Golem. Which means the Fungoid could be put to some interesting and extraordinary tasks if it could be controlled (or was intelligent).

According to folklore, these creatures grow near the sites of unavenged murders or great battles: no further details.

They lurk underground, below a growth of mushrooms (including a ring formation), though the text only says they may be connected to the fruiting bodies on the surface.

These last two characteristics are food for thought, with the possibility of a variation of the Fungoid leaning in the spirit/undead direction, or something more in tune with either intelligent fungus beings or faerie folk.

The squishiness combined with great strength could also serve as something to build a brain/flesh golem or anthropomorphic shoggoth from.

Fyrsnaca.

The Fyrsnaca can breath a line of fire and is intelligent and can be bargained with to perform tasks. 2e specifies that you need speak with monsters, as Fyrsnaca have no language.

It also internally burns so hot after reproducing (vomiting up 2d6 babies - Red Worms; see later) that it has to remain dormant in a large body of water for 50 years to cool off. If prevented from doing so or awakened prematurely, it will attack furiously - as it will be consumed by its own heat if it leaves the water.

Bony, unsegmented relative of the Purple Worm.

This sounds very wyrm-ish, as opposed to worm-ish, but the Fyrsnaca (clearly a vertebrate) is supposedly cousin to the Purple Worm (clearly an invertebrate). Lacking an illo, 2e gives a sparse description that 'corrects' this.

Also, it's not carnivorous and eats ores and minerals as it burrows through the earth. 2e says to offer it gems and precious metals when bargaining or distracting - the costly equivalent of tossing rations.

I'd use one of these instead of a Dragon. And because of the 50 year dormancy period, I think I'd make this one of the type of monsters that are a level-inappropriate adventure/dungeon threat that doesn't have to be directly engaged with and/or can be turned on other monsters.



Monday, October 24, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - D to E.

* indicates new to DMR2, and not in the original AC9 Creature Catalogue.

For survivals into 2e, especially when it's a common cross-system animal/monster, I'm generally only considering the Mystara and Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium supplements - and the former is more useful as its setting is broader.

Dark Wing.

Nocturnal winged humanoids. Penalised by exposure to light and continual light, but a failed Morale check results in them fighting to the death rather than fleeing.

Can carry off human-sized targets, but it takes two of them and they both need an 18+ Hit Roll. 

Their lair is a foul and unsettling place. Just the sort of environment for bringing up 2d6 (combatant) young.

Under the slight variation in name (Darkwing), they are also found in 2e. There's more information about how they fit into a local sandbox ecology, but nothing you wouldn't expect.

I can see them sharing space with a Mere-Gaunt, either as minions, scavenging rivals or complementary parts of a grimdark ecosystem. I hadn't really given them any thought until this read through and find myself appreciating them.

Their mechanics allow for reskinning as all manner of nocturnal/subterranean winged things that might carry you off.

Darkhood (Rorphyr).

With a good, monster-y sounding name, the Rorphyr is basically another undead that's a better ghost than the Ghost (whether AD&D or BECMI): a translucent hooded figure that haunts a place, can pass through solid objects and scares you.

While it's a 13 HD monster with negative AC and needing a +2 or better weapon to hit, its main attack is fear - causing you to run until exhausted, rather than blasting you with aging and energy drain. It's touch does cause damage, but - as it feeds on fear - it would rather have you alive, and it is narratively sated once everyone is unconscious (it ignores the KO'd) or has escaped the area.

The fear attack is resolved by rolling vs. INT, but you need to roll over to save as those who are the most intelligent have the most fertile minds for the terrifying visions it projects when it raises its hood or touches a victim. Compare with the DragonWarriors Nightmare.

Also compare with the DW Ghost - the Rorphyr doesn't need really need those 13 HD, except maybe to determine how it saves vs. exorcism.

Once you've experienced and recovered from the fear-effect of a particular Rorphyr, you are immune to it for 24 hours - so it's not an absolute barrier to lower level adventurers, despite it's relative strength, but it could be a significant delay and is very able to split the party.

Death Fiend (Ostego).

That 2e period of calling demons and devils fiends so as not to upset somebody or other.

Very sparse in description and mechanics and it doesn't look like it actually made into 2e for updates/elaboration: paralysing claws, save at -2 or die poison bite, infravision 60', teleport without error, darkness 10' radius. 

Fangs are described as ivory, claws as adamantine but I don't know whether this is mere metaphor.

No mention of horns, nor are they featured in the illo, though they are implied in the description of the Deep Glaurant later.

NB: Finding out that the Ostego appears in Castle Amber and the Deep Glaurant in The Five Shires helps clear up some of my confusion here.

Decapus (Land and Marine).

It's a ten-armed hairy octopus that swings through the trees. Which is pretty gonzo, I suppose. The illo makes it look like a cartoon character. 

Later reimaginings improve on this, though it has its own charm, I suppose.

Both Land and Marine Decapus have 11 Intelligence so might be able to use magic items in their possession, though the description doesn't even tell us if they speak or otherwise understand language.

Pic above reminds me of some prior monster juvenilia: a lake-dwelling octopus that, when slain, evaporates as a green cloud that would later rain down into a nearby treetop and reform to attack you again. Can't remember whether I knew about Cthulhu and its reconstitution trick at the time.

I'd been reading the name as being related to 'decapitate', because of conflating it with the Brain Collector via the Master DM monster jam, and then it turns about to be an octopus +2. The marine variant, though hairy, is pretty much an octopus.

NB: Apparently has its origin and the power to create (controversial?) illusions in B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. I should look into that then, sometime.

Deep Glaurant*.

Subterranean predators that get their name from the sound they make, like Gollum. They're 8' tall with scales, claws, horns and small wings. They glide, they swim, they are capable diggers.

They're non-mechanically stealthy - eerily silent - and can produce one round of darkness every three rounds. The darkness power, their horns and their wings mean they are sometimes mistaken for Death Fiends (see above), to which they are statistically close, but this is not pursued further and is lost in 2e, because there are no more Death Fiends.

Despite being compulsive predators, they are also specified as being intelligent (7, approx. Bugbear) enough to set rockfall traps, plan ambushes (though No. App. is 1 or 2) and use magic items and weapons (for the designated purpose or to trade with).

They are rumoured to have cities and a civilization far underground and that's as far as it goes. The disconnect between this and what is otherwise provided by description and stats is spotlit in 2e, but not otherwise developed.

Feels a bit like a stub of a monster, something that was meant to be something more. However, a perfectly serviceable dungeon threat suited for multiple terrain types.

NB: Now that I've had a chance to check GAZ 8 The Five Shires, I can see that the resemblance to Death Fiends is because Glaurants have flexible horns which fold over their ears to protect them from dust. Thus, being mistaken for something without horns - and this is the reason specified in GAZ 8, but isn't clearly described in DMR2.

Also, these flexible horns are used for feeling their surroundings, so there's a hint of antennae to make the Deep Glaurants into giant insect people if you prefer - moths or cockroaches, for instance.

Desert Ghost.

Electrical elementals (though categorised as Earth) rather than undead, the immature form is non-aggressive but will shock you via contact with metal objects - killing itself in the process.

Mature Desert Ghosts go out of their way to attack metal-bearing targets, presumably as revenge for all their little kiddies. You get a hefty shock (from 5 to 8d8, save for half) and they take a little damage also; you might also get a face-full of blinding dust/sand at the same time. You also take (significantly less) damage when you hit them with metal weapons. Electrical attacks increase their hp like-for-like, but they're vulnerable to water-based attacks.

I like this kind of elemental, especially the immature form - they're a kind of 'wonder of the world' that is incidentally dangerous, and I'd skew them in the direction of air-electricity elements rather than Earth. 

Dinosaur.

Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Archelon, Brontosaurus, Dimetrodon, Trachodon, Tylosaurus.

The Tylosaurus is the only one that's anything more than just stats, having an auto-bite if it hits which also penalises your attack rolls if whoever it has a hold of. It scores 7d12 damage with that bite, too, which is one of the best in the book. 

Otherwise, they're D&D dinosaurs and I don't really care - how to take something so intrinsically awesome and reduce them to this?

I know dinosaur habits and abilities would be theoretical and/or fictional, but there must be more to them than hit points, damage dice and low intelligence. They don't even get a 'fight on at 0 hp' ability, which would seem obvious considering how they are framed.

MM2 offers up that the Dimetrodon's ability to swim is questionable but likely, but otherwise there's not much significant difference between the dinosaurs across BX/BECMI and AD&D: they're just hit points with no intelligence.

Dog.

Normal, Elven and War, and there's not much between them. 

The War Dog is pretty much the same as a Wolf, but it might be armoured. It's also pretty much the same as the 1e MM War Dog.

The Elven Dog is a little more interesting; invisibility to mortals, some purple prose - disturbing, flickering verdance... similarly fluctuating green radiance - and a possible relation of Hellhounds. 

Dragon, Pocket.

Has a poisonous bite that penalises your dice rolls and can be treated by cure disease magic.

I guess it could be a pet or a familiar, if you go in for that kind of thing. Seems more of a fantasy animal than actual Dragon-kin. It does gather its own little hoard of trinkets.

More HD but fewer abilities than the 1e MM Pseudo-Dragon, which is probably its AD&D analogue.

Dragon, Sea.

Breath weapon is a 10' globe of poison, spat up to 100'. Save or die, and apparently no other damage.

It's a Sea Dragon, not much more to be said. I'd be more likely to put it in an adventure than I would almost any other Dragon.

Dragon, Undead.

I principally like this because it isn't absolute that the Undead Dragon is the one it was in life: the body of a dead dragon animated by an undead spirit. 

This is what you get for not double-checking with detect evil after you've killed Big Red (or Green or whatever). However, this could just be vague wording - the text also suggests that Undead Dragons are reaccumulating the hoard they had in life.

It keeps it's draconic HD and immunities, gains paralysing claw/bite attacks and undead immunities, but loses things like speech, intelligence, spells and flight. Again, wording is that this could be a deficiency of the animating spirit - implying that a more powerful one could reboot the whole thing.

Characteristic breath weapon is also lost, being replaced with a cloud of disease gas that causes hp=damage and infects you with rot if you fail your save. The victim's skin... rot[s] slowly, while the body gradually deteriorates - lose CON, DEX and STR until you die or get a high-level cure.

It also stinks worse that a Ghast or Troglodyte.

Dragonfly.

Magical hybrid of Dragon and dragonfly. Each one has a colour appropriate breath weapon.

If you don't want to use them as what they are, reskin - Mi-Go with various guns is easy enough.

They look more draconic in 2e and get some individual elaboration (some details of Habitat/Society and Ecology seem to be compulsory by this period).  

Also introduced is the Nymph stage of the lifecycle, which has acidic spit that destroys your equipment, whatever colour it grows up to be. I like a Voracious Larva.

Dragonne.

I didn't get a look at the 1e Monster Manual until fairly late in my pre-hiatus years, certainly after 2e Monstrous Compendia and the CC, so didn't know that the Dragonne was in one of the core/original bestiaries.

It's a Sphinx-y, Manticore-y kind of thing with a deafening/stunning roar, and related to Dragons.

I'd use the roar mechanics for something, but this could as easily be a Chimera or a Griffon or even a Legendary Lion as anything else.

Much the same creature in 1e as it is here.

Dusanu.

This is more my kettle of deadly spores: the Rot Fiend, a horrible skeletal monster (neither undead nor demonic) all covered in mould. 

It's intelligent and very cunning but otherwise just attacks with its claws and its noxious spore cloud. If you fail your poison save, you'll be infested, unable to benefit from cure wounds and have to save vs. death ray each day until you get a cure disease or are consumed utterly by the mould. You rise as a new Dusanu in d3 days.

A lot tougher than a Skeleton covered in Yellow Mould but you get the idea. Compare with the Dragon Warriors Fungus Man

An undefined instinct makes me feel the Dusanu would be a good accompaniment/foil to or replacement for Mind Flayers. With this sci-fi flavour and being (according to 2e) a fungal colony monster, the Dusanu is ripe for some psionics (certain moulds etc already get them). 

Note that RAW No. App. means an encounter is always with a minimum of 2.

Like.

Eagle.

Normal and Great, with the Great firmly rooted in Tolkien as they are especially likely to help Dwarfs and Halflings.

Great Eagles get +2 hp on the 1e MM version, at the cost of -2 beak damage and to hit bonus on their swoop.

Eel.

Electric, Giant and Weed, and not much difference to the 1e MM entry.

However: the CC Giant Eel is specifically a Giant Electric Eel (double damage shocks compared the smaller sort).

Furthermore, the CC Weed Eel isn't poisonous, but an entangler/constrictor - so a more dramatic, though less sudden, death. And to add spice, you need to make your Strength save on 3d8 rather than d20 or 3d6. Which I like.

Elf.

Some unsurprising variations on the Elf.

Aquatic: They live underwater and are 95% undetectable in reefs/weeds if they stay still, Halfling-like.

Apparently, they make potions of water breathing despite not needing them. It says to trade with friendly Elves, but isn't this just storing up trouble? 

Gills and webbing, rather than fish-tails and fins. 

I generally don't much like the Dave Simons illos in DMR2, because they look a bit too Marvel comics for my taste in place. However, I just looked him up (RIP) and that's exactly what he's best known for.
This Shadow Elf is one of the few I like - the weird moth-like face/helm, against the the backdrop of a full moon and an avenue of conifers. As if she just stepped out of the secret passage underneath the broken sundial.

Shadow*: While they're not quite the less monstrous Drow-analogue they're initially painted as, they are carrying out a nuclear-powered eugenics-based programme of genocide against the Orcs of Thar and other humanoids. So they're as bad as Paladins, really.

They get a whole Gazetteer supplement to themselves. Includes spells such as transmute rock to lava, which is awesome.

In the CC, we learn that take penalties in sunlight but not much else.

What Was Left Out - Death Leech

Not the one from SnarfQuest - this is basically an Undead Mimic from the Sphere of Death.

While it can appear as any form of undead monster (up to Vampire tier), it attacks in its natural (?) form, which is blob-and-tentacles. If you manage to kill it in undead form (i.e.. before it has been able to attack), it retains that form until touched, then reverts to blob and rots away.

It merits a Wrestling Rating in its statblock because it wraps you up in tentacles, immobilises you, then drains your hit points - though this seems to be straight damage, rather than a vampiric transfer.

An interesting monster, I think, that could do with some tweaking to make it more usable. 

How about upping its intelligence and giving it more control of its form, either as an undead slayer (though the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend), or something conjured by necromancers as agents against rival deathmagi? 

Or maybe this is what becomes of restless dead Mimics, with the additional ability to appear as decrepit and broken objects?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

DMR2 Creature Catalog - B to C.

Note: I don't have personal familiarity with the in-game origin of all the monsters, so I'll largely pass over that. A surprisingly significant number appeared in the early X modules Isle of Dread and Castle Amber, and there are numerous contributions from the Mystara Gazetteer and Creature Crucible ranges (though whether these were first appearances, I don't know).

Reminder that * indicates the monster is new to DMR2, wherever it started out from.

Baldandar*.

Protean entity from German literature via Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings (wherein also the Peryton).

For the game, it's an evil humanoid with sleep poison claws/fangs and considerable powers of illusion. Often masquerades as a Dragon or Magic-User. Can also shapechange (you and it) and possess (magic jar), as well as fly and turn invisible.

A good stand-in for all manner of villainous enchanters, including the Oni.

With females that get hormonal when child-bearing/rearing and shift alignment from Evil to Neutral in 2e.

Banshee, Lesser.

These are your basic banshee. Their signature wail causes damage rather than kills outright. Described as haunting families and warning/mourning deaths.

That they are not necessarily the spirit of the deceased they look like, nor that the deceased is restless in their grave, appeals to me.

It says that they're not undead (in AC9 it's under Monsters and Other Fantastical Creatures), but who are they really fooling?  They're even immune to sleep, charm, and hold, and they don't have anything much of the faerie tradition about them, either.

Apart from the differing ideas of various creators, I wonder if there was a desire/need for undead-a-likes in game that RAW wouldn't TPK lower level parties, or that wouldn't just be wiped away by clerical Turning before they got to show off their cool abilities.

Bargda.

Diseased, misshapen, goat-headed ogre/troll/giants with iron-shod clubs. Hate everyone except for monstrous humanoids that they lead on raids. Antagonists. Villains. Bosses. Chaos monsters out of Warhammer (Nurglesque, even) and RQ.

Mechanics for the Dexterity-sapping disease their bite carries.

2e makes it clear that they are actually suffering from the disease they carry, as well as having no digestive enzymes of their own - and needing to infect food with the disease in order to feed themselves! 

This is cool and creepy, and would be worth giving to someone/thing else if you didn't want to use the Bargda RAW.

DMR2 specifies that they are not found in Lost World areas, so make the Bargda grumpy, misanthropic and overall Neutral, and frame them as the unfortunate (doomed and dying) protectors/shepherds of those very Lost Worlds and all the monsters therein.

Beetle, Earthquake.

AC -6 (+15 AAC) and 40 HD, this is approximately the Jinshin-Mushi of Japanese folklore scaled up to Tarrasque-tier threat.

Head of a Black Dragon, beetle body, spider legs. Causes an earthquake (@ 25th level - but this is BECMI/RC) wherever it goes burrowing. Only uses its breath weapon once a week and when it's at half hp, but that's still a possible 160 points of acid damage.

It regenerates 3 hp per day.

Looking at daily regeneration and weekly breath weapon, I'd use the Earthquake Beetle as a Colossal foe (using On the Shoulders of Colossus, for example, or do a quick search of the blogs for something) and make a whole adventure about tracking, diverting, harrying and only maybe about actually killing it. 

If it comes up as a random encounter, use it to reshape the campaign rather than as a TPK. This kind of monster I don't think is very interesting to go at just with spells and swords.

Beholder, Aquatic.

Local/system variant of the Eye of the Deep and has 13 HD vs. 10-12 and a 2d10 vs. 1d6 bite, as well as giving actual numbers to disable its eyes. Its dazzling eye attack paralyses rather than stuns, and its eyestalks cast charm person and hold monster, rather than both hold spells.

Regrows lost eyes in d4 days vs. 1 week for the Eye of the Deep.

Just use the Eye of the Deep if you want to keep 2e canon, though I think its charm ability opens up more interesting possibilities.

Bhut.

In Hinduism, a restless and usually malevolent ghost; in either CC, it's another of those 'not undead even though it clearly is'. Even in 2e, they are still hazily classified as being 'a bit like' lycanthropes and undead.

One of the better illos in the CC, imo.

My comment above (Banshee, Lesser) re. summary execution of unused interesting undead by Clerics probably applies here - cannot be Turned, but have all undead immunities as well as being very stealthy and difficult to hear.

A bit like the Rakshasa (MM), they are vulnerable to blessed weapons, and their habits are similar to the Huecuva's (masquerade as normal folks, then get all monstrous and bitey after dark). They even have an aura that spoils detect and know spells.

Extra points for a freezing bite that causes numbness.

Brain Collector.

From my initial exposure to the Brain Collector via the bare stats in the BECMI Master DM's monster jam, I imagined it as a local/system variant of the Mind Flayer with logical adjustments for a system without psionics. 

While it works well enough as an eldritch horror (extra-planar crab with tentacles and brain removal habits), it could also work as a gruesome speciality Magic-User (NPC only, or not).

Ugly-looking spud from 2e Mystara

It stores stolen brains in internal cranial pockets, causing its head to bulge up in lumps. This would be quite an evocative image for a more humanoid Mind Flayer variation, and possibly you'd want to mechanically account for attacking the brain-pods (first hit on a nat 20, followed by Called Shot or something).

Obviously, could be reskinned as Mi-Go. Or as a brain-swallowing Beholder-kin.

2e further defines their alienness: they do not have hostile intentions as such but they don't see humans etc. as anything more than receptacles from which brains can be extracted.

Brownie*.

There's no mechanics in what is one of the longer descriptions in the book - though it's mainly a recapitulation of what you'd possibly already know from folklore and fairy-tales.

The CC Brownie only gets invisibility compared to the 1e MM Brownie's spell-list of seven, only one of which is not shared between AD&D and BECMI/RC.

Brownie, Redcap*.

A similar amount of text as the other Brownie, but more in the way of practical info for getting into scraps with it.

Suitably faerie and folkloric enough for me - wouldn't be so out of place in DragonWarriors

Cat, Great.

Bekkah, Cheetah, Jaguar, Lynx, Spotted Lion and Wildcat. 

While there are some special abilities to tell them apart (Bekkah's roar, Cheetah's movement rate, general rake attacks and surprise), I'm tempted to say Just Use Bears, or the Great Cats or the Wolf from the Basic set/RC as templates.

The Bekkah is a giant black panther with 12 HD and a terrifying roar (a bit like the Androsphinx and the Dragonne, of course). Beyond this, it's clearly your pulpy Man Eater/Jungle God monster - a cryptid, maybe, to challenge Great Hunters of All Hues and None (Nehwon Ghouls and Bone Men of Carcosa). Are they from something (I mean, other than possibly a module or magazine article)?

The CC Lynx is almost identical to the 1e MM Lynx, Giant, but lacks the Very Intelligent tag. Was it just a near-direct port, system to system, and lost the 'Giant' in transition?

There's a difference of 1 hit point between CC and 1e MM Jaguar, and 2 potential points of bite damage between the respective Spotted Lions.

The Wild Cat from 1e MM2 is a slightly more formidable beast than the CC version, but both are capable of slaying a 1st level character as per their reputation.

Cay Man.

Intelligent, 1' tall, 2 HD - otherwise unremarkable tribal humanoids.

Though I think their small size and comparable HD in relation to their much bigger Lizard Man cousins probably does merit a remark of some kind.

Chameleon Man.

They're more like Blink Men, being able to teleport up to 120' instantaneously and without embarrassing/fatal consequences. Can't attack in the same round as teleporting, but you could decide otherwise for your version; can't carry much weight either, so they don't wear armour.

7' tall, spindly, gangling and awkward with tiger-like stripes of red, blue, green, brown, orange, black and white. Which also aren't characteristics of chameleons, as far as I'm aware.

From the 1e Fiend Folio, looking to mix it up

Otherwise they're your standard D&D tribal humanoids, but they put me in mind of the Qullan from the Fiend Folio - probably because of their patterned skin - and I'd look at mashing the two together to come up with something.

I also think they'd make a good addition/alternative to the vari-hued inhabitants of Carcosa.

Chevall.

A Centaur that's a Werehorse that hates Wolves, opposes Werewolves and champions Horses. They're capable of injuring Werewolves in AD&D by dint of their 7 HD, and also by being 'silver/magic to hit' more generally.

Slight stat variations between forms, including Morale - which seems unintuitive to me.

They were an important faction in a Neolithic/Proto-Celtic campaign setting I started sketching in the distant past, though I can't remember many details.

I'd consider bringing them down to Centaur/Horse stats for inclusion in a lower powered game, or keep those stats and make them much rarer/more legendary.

Choker*.

A fairly bare stat block and no additional mechanics in the description, but this is one of my favourite monsters from the book - a spindly stretchy cartilaginous humanoid with a baby-sized body that strangles you and cuts you up to eat. 

Specifies it preys on Dwarfs (and, by logical extension, the other subterranean peoples) - it's originally from Dwarves of Rockhome, I think, with a charming/creepy illo by Stephen Fabian. 

In CC it has a movement rate Through Rock; while this is updated to Burrowing (combined with squeezing through small spaces) in 2e, you could choose to make the Choker more of an elemental, a ghost/undead, or have a rudimentary phasing ability (like the Vilstrak?).

RAW, it has 3 Intelligence, but I think of them as being closer to Human-level. Also, check out the inhabitants/antagonists of The Broadsword by Laird Barron for something horrible that could be developed from the base creature. 

Coltpixy*.

Size-changing faerie horse, able to turn invisible

I don't need a separate monster entry to tell me this, could have just been a paragraph in Tall Tales of the Wee Folk or any of the entries of the faerie folk that might ride them.

In 2e, it gets an Elf-like resistance to sleep and charm. Fair enough.

Crone of Chaos.

It's got a bit of an uninspiring name - you could call it Junior Hag, in the right setting. It puts me in mind of the monsters submitted to Out of the Pit in Warlock magazine, having the scent of juvenilia about it - though I mean that as an observation rather than a criticism (and notwithstanding the imagination of various grown-ass men down the years and editions).

Usually encountered disguised by an illusion. Tends towards the sylvan humanoid beauty model, and the text could imply this is the extent of its illusory ability, but why not a pile of treasure or a particularly tempting roast beef sandwich?

It can sustain the illusion while it's attacking (once per round), either by using animal control (no-save control of d6 normal or giant animals; it isn't specified if this is only for that round or until dispelled) or daggers of sorcery (d6 ghostly flying daggers that attack as 1 HD monsters for normal damage + weakness, and can be attacked by characters in turn - again, it isn't specified if this is only for that round, or if this is cumulative - resulting in vast swarms of daggers).

It's spell-like abilities are natural powers (including the one with Sorcery in the title), but can be detected and dispelled like magic. This feels a bit pointless and makes me wonder if there is a prototype for this monster, possibly in another system, from (science) fiction or using psionics - does anyone out there know?

Apart from a brief physical description (it's a crone), there's not much non-mechanical detail in the text - which makes it easier to think on how the abilities could transfer. 

In 2e, we learn that they procreate with, then devour male humanoids. They can have male and female offspring; the former are devoured, the latter are abandoned and it's hoped that they'll be brought up as changelings. Not terribly original, but planting them firmly in the faerie/folklore realm.

Reskin as non-crones - sylvan and aquatic protector/predator; specialist Magic User NPC; rogue AI/security bot. Those daggers could be anything you like, even living things. Options for 'male crones' that survive mum's appetite.

Cryion.

These are the Tran from Alan Dean Foster's Icerigger (1976), though their fantasy-dress is chiropteran/  noctillionine/ pteropine rather than feline. Claws adapted to work as ice-skates, aided by wings-as-sails.

The Tran inhabit an entirely frozen planet, while the Cryion dwell in your fantasy world, so use seasonally frozen waterways as much as any plains of ice.

There's some detail on their nomadic society, based around groups of 10-40 (called mnelds and there are no other made-up words in the entry, which seems like a missed opportunity for naming various arche- and sub-types), and great gatherings every 3 years. Otherwise, they're another fantasy tribal humanoid - so shamans, 1st to 5th level.

Despite my enjoyment of the novel, and frosty wastes being one of my favourite settings, I'm Neutral Indifferent towards Cryions.

I like the illo.