Tuesday, January 19, 2021

AD&D Monster Manual 2 - D Part 1 - Daemons to Demodand.

Backward Link to C...

It's the Big One! Over thirty pages of the book, and taking in multiple entries under Daemon, Demodand, Demon, Deva, Devil, Dinosaur and -of course- Dragon.

I'm breaking it down into sections.

Daemons.

Filling in the Neutral Evil gap between Demons and Devils, and slightly cooler than both because they've got that saexy ae in their name. The usual info on slaying them, saying their name, common special abilities and damage resistance. 

I feel like the Daemons were a disparate bunch of Lower Planes monsters that someone thought would be better gathered into a group. There aren't any obvious connections between them, and the Arcanadaemon seems more like a Devil to me with its horns, humanoid body, red-iron forts and baronies. 

Based on formative Alignment studies, I decided Daemons were purer Evil than either Demons or Devils, because Evil was more important to them than Law or Chaos.

Became Yugoloths in 2nd edition, although 'daemon' did appear in the Monstrous Compendium prior to Planescape. This is still quite a cool name. And they were 'evened-out' a bit, presumably to make them a more coherent group.

Their Magic Resistance is different to the Magic Resistance for everything else - it starts from a more logical 1st level, rather than 11th. Most have significant Pluses to their HD (x1 to x4 their HD), to the extent that I wondered if some were typos and should be number ranges (3-9 rather than 39, for example) - they seem to be the only monsters across all three AD&D bestiaries (MM, FF, MM2) to have such high adds.

Arcanadaemon.

Horned, dog/jackal headed, wearing robes, and it's a spell-caster (11th to 18th level) with psionics.

Nice detail that they live in red-iron forts containing portals to the Prime Material Plane.

Charon.

'Royal robes or ermine and silk'
Pretty fancy for a skeletal gondolier.

Big disappointment - my Charon is the Ray Harryhausen one from Clash of the Titans, and the one that accepts a couple of coins, none of this 'silk bag of 100pp' business. I guess I'll go and stat my own, then.

It's interesting that his attention can be attracted by casting certain apparently unrelated spells, and I like the idea of him turning up unannounced and asking "Where do you want to go?"

Charonadaemon.

Little disappointment - nastier, lesser clones of Charon. 

Charge more reasonable rates than their boss. Use one as the Charon so lower-level adventurers can join in the fun.

Derghodaemon.



Because there isn't much (any) detail on how they live, there's no real feeling for the Derghodaemon as a monster - they're a statblock with abilities and an illustration.

For some reason, I've always thought this would be better as a clockwork/mechanical monster, a construct rather than a daemon. That might be the multiple arms and 360 degree rotating head. 

Strip out the daemonic abilities and bring down AC & HD; maybe even fill it up with something dangerous (like for Golems and Living Statues). Any gems that were meant to be in the daemon's gizzard/stomach are now decorative inserts or eyes.

Hydrodaemon.

Supposedly the only creature that does not lose its memory when in contact with the River Styx - implying that everything else, including Charon and other unique powerful beings, would. In fact, it seems possible that Charon and the Charonadaemons would be losing their memories on a regular basis, maybe multiple times per day.

Low intelligence flying/gliding frog daemons.

Anthraxus the Decayed - the Oinodaemon.


I don't know what the title might mean - oinos apparently means 'wine' but I don't know how or why that would apply here.

He causes disease by touch, has a transfixing gaze, and wields a staff of office (which I imagine as a fancy walking stick) with the powers of beguilement, geas, mass charm and to grant another's wish. No mention of charges or daily limits, but it works on other daemons (and possibly other monsters immune to charm). He's got psionics, too, and uses them to turn lead into platinum - which has a nice occult, demon-y feel to it.

Undescribed are 'other unique daemonic beings' named Bubonis, Cholerix, Diptherius and Typhus - suggesting a theme.

My favourite thing about Anthraxus, however, is that he wears a 'rotting grey suit and cape', which I always see as being a modern suit with waistcoat, so he also wears a pocket square, tie, and watch-chain. I imagine him to be one of the few monsters capable of breaking the fourth wall, and might even carry a concealed revolver.

Piscodaemon.

Cthulhuvian-looking fellows, these. Reskin slightly (they're not Daemons anymore) and put them to work for Mi Go or Mind Flayers.

They seem like a pretty solid choice for a guardian daemon. As Piscoloths, they get a significant upgrade in Planescape.

Ultrodaemon.

If you look into its huge eyes like fire-opals, you must save or stop fascinated. But even if you make your save, you 'will not see the ultrodaemon but someone loved or respected', getting the encounter off to an interesting and unusual start.

The Ultrodaemon statblock and description is fairly economical (three paragraphs). Its most ostentatious special abilities are wall of fire and blade barrier, but the rest are charms, illusions and detection, as well as symbols of persuasion, insanity and hopelessness. With magic jar and the possible ability to summon monsters/characters from the Prime Material Plane, you've got a nemesis around which you could spin an entire campaign.

Like.

Yagnodaemon.

It has a massive giant arm (Storm Giant) and a normal human arm.

It's got a signature weapon - the tol-kendar (body-wrecker) - through which it can direct its shocking grasp ability. 

And it can drain your XP, hp, psionic power points, and Ability Scores after it's knocked you out.

Dao.

Limited wish-granting Evil Earth Genie.

About the only thing I find interesting is that they dwell in the Great Dismal Delve - which they've spoiled for me by dwelling there.

Death, Crimson.

There's no other 'Death, comma' monster in MM, FF or MM2 - I've checked the index - so why not call it Crimson Death and take some weight off D?

For a 13 Hit Dice Genius it doesn't seem to do much more than hang around in a bog waiting to drink adventurer blood. Even using the treasure of its past victims to bribe or lure new ones doesn't seem especially clever.

However, as a vampiric elemental or a Gamma World-esque hazard from the technological past or something called down from the stars on certain nights of the year it works quite well - I suppose don't try to overthink it.

Also, 100% Magic Resistance and 3-30 damage per hit.

Demilich.

I get it - the Demilich is a special part of D&D history and was made for a specific reason.

Not knowing that, on my first reading, it just seemed like an unreasonably tough and deadly monster that says a dozen different ways that it can kill you and you can't kill it. And mentions 'soul' more than any other bit of D&D text I can recall.

It's still a great basic concept - undead so dead that it's just bits and pieces but powerful.

Demodand.

All three share a number of common characteristics and abilities, but are otherwise another group of evil Lower Planars. 


I like that that the Shaggy Demodand isn't furry, but has baggy skin. 

And to a UKian, the Slime Demodands being 'the middle class of Tarterus' rings differently than it was intended.







AD&D Monster Manual 2 - C.

Backward Link to A-B...

Oh! This barely took me any time - is it because C isn't very long or are the monsters not very good?


Cat.

Domestic and Wild. Cats. They're cats.

If you don't like cats, use them instead a Giant Rats in your tutorial dungeons.

Cat Lord.

The Cat Lord feels like a Mary-Sue.

Some people complained that Deities & Demigods giving hit points for the divine was just encouraging players to try and kill them. I'm not complaining in the case of the Cat Lord.

Catfish, Giant.

Big fish. Swallows you whole. Some potentially useful mechanics for cutting your way out.

Cave Cricket.

In the same territory as the Cave/Giant Locust, with a loud chirp that drowns out speech (and presumably verbal components of spells, unless their effectiveness relies on the mouth making them rather than the ear that hears). 

Like.

Cave Fisher.

This feels like an absolutely appropriate -even necessary- hazard/monster for subterranean adventures.

If Gygaxian species profusion bothers you, all the abilities and mechanics could be bolted onto a generic Spider or Worm, and it could do the same from a treetop.

Cave Moray.

Because you've only got a 5% chance of being able to attack one after its attacked you, this feels more like an environmental hazard or puzzle/trap than a monster threat - a gauntlet you have to run unless you're prepared to use a mass kill spell.

Centipede.

Big, hungry, venomous centipedes are a solid monster threat. Not much more to say.

Megalo-centipedes have contact venom that splashes on your skin.

Cheetah.

Serviceable statblock and abilities if you need a Cheetah or a Cheetah-like monster - better than the Bear, Northern (Polar Bear).

Choke Creeper.

This kind of plant monster (like the Bloodthorn) feels like more of an environmental hazard than a monster - it's a location in itself.

For Monster Manual Top Trumps, it has 25 Hit Dice.

Cloaker.

It's specified that they have weird, alien thought processes so only Magic Users can communicate with them. I assume they mean through spells, but why not make this a core ability of the class and then try to extrapolate why this is so?

The Cloaker's sound attack (subsonic moaning, blocked by stone) is comparable to a hummadruz, so they've also got that going for them. And they can manipulate shadows, which is always cool.

As much as I like the standard Cloaker, I'd probably reskin it as another off-brand Mind Flayer variant or a Mi Go. Or have them in underwater adventures, rather than the dungeon, as a nod to their roots in the Fafhrd/Mouser tales.

Cooshee (Elven Dog).

'Cooshee' seems like a brand-name toy, but it's just cu sith or cu sidhe for easy reading.

There's not much of the faerie about this. It's statblock and abilities could serve for lots of predator animals and monsters. Even makes a fair (Lovecraftian) Ghoul.

Crane, Giant.

Statistically not very far from the Axebeak and the Clubnek. It's a big bird. 

Not even an unexpected Alignment or surprisingly high Intelligence to catch your eye.

Crysmal.


Crystal elemental, high to exceptional Intelligence, Neutral (evil) Alignment. Use them as an elemental as intended or as some kind of alien being - they've got a bit of a sci-fi flavour, and I like to think by 'sharp, rotating appendage' they mean 'drill'.

I'm starting to think that Neutral (evil) might mean something very specific that I've missed somewhere along the way.

Crystal Ooze.

Always room for Ooze.

It's 75% invisible when in the water - I'd not confine this ability to water. Maybe it becomes more visible as little streaks of dissolving paralysed victim spread throughout its clear and sloppy mass.

Cyclopskin.

Where's the Cyclops, then, for them to be kin of?

Basically, Ogres with poor depth perception because of their single eye, and I'd make that a possible feature of any Ogre rather than a separate monster.

Note: Ogre as a broad monster type, rather than a species - they're mortal/mundane monsters, rather than supernatural beings. Their main features are being stronger (though not necessarily bigger) than humans and eating humans, while being humanoid themselves. Ogres can be stupid or clever, brutal or subtle, club-wielding or spell-casting - in any order and combination.


Onward Link to D Part 1 - Daemon to Demodand...

AD&D Monster Manual 2 - A to B.


I thought I'd have a go at reviewing the Monster Manual 2 monsters, and it's definitely because these folks are doing the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio:

Monster Manual 2 was the first AD&D product I bought, because Fiend Folio wasn't on the shop-shelf on the day and because I already had (or thought I had) all the basic/canon monsters via BECMI (or at least the BE part). 

A few preliminary points, because these are personal takes on the monster entries:

I don't know the TSR-adjacent history/origins of these monsters.

Dwarf, Elf, Goblin and Troll are all on the same continuum in my head/world, with Elf/Goblin and Dwarf/Troll being almost interchangeable. They're all faerie folk/ paramortals, rather than mortal/mundane humanoids, and I have folklore preconceptions of various named monsters. 

The D&D cosmology is not canon, neither is Alignment. Neither is AC and HD, but I'm not going to lean too much into that.

Generally, "Good=boring" but non-canon Alignment can change things. A lot of the Good extra-planars in MM2 are very powerful, with great lists of spell-like abilities. I never aspired to play at that kind of epic level, so I was never that interested.

I like transferrable mechanics and subsystems, so a mediocre monster might get praise for something that can be pulled out and reused (to better effect) elsewhere.

Okay. Here you go:

Aboleth.

I mean, I'm sure you know what an Aboleth looks like by now

The abilities of this monster are much more inspiring than the monster itself, although I don't know if this because I've got Aboleth fatigue - I thought this monster was something of an outlier until I came off rpg hiatus. 

Based on statistics and abilities, nowadays I'm tempted to reskin it as an off-brand Mind Flayer. 

I've previously (a long time ago) bolted the skin transformation and forced water breathing special abilities onto a mindless living deity for some local Deep One stand-ins (now-aquatic elves with leather wetsuits, spear-guns and reverse-scuba gear) - the cult literally converts you.


Afanc.

It's just a really big fish. Whirlpool mechanic is okay, but otherwise this is an unremarkable stat-block - attach the mechanical subsystems to a more interesting leviathan.


Agathion.

First time round, I probably skipped past as 'Good=boring'. 

An 'agathodaemon' (good spirit) is the counterpart to the 'cacodaemon' (bad spirit) - presumably, someone didn't want to muddy the cosmological waters that already took in the Daemons-as-monster-type (extensively covered later in MM2), nor the MU spell cacodaemon.

It's basically a psionic Cleric from another plane.

Annis.

Couldn't tell you why exactly, but I'm a big fan of Hags as a monster type. The Annis is a giant(ess) that can appear as a human or humanoid (though the description specifies 'large', so may not be as useful a disguise as it seems).

They're strong (19/ Hill Giant) and tough (skin counts as plate, and specifies AD&D 1e's weapon type vs. armour type rules here), with auto-damage if they grab hold of you. Top it off with the ability to create a fog cloud, and I think this is a pretty solid monster.

Ant Lion.

The Sarlacc Pit of the giant insects. I give it a thumbs-up for just being what it is.

Ascomid.


Intelligence is 'Unratable' (which might just mean 'alien') and Alignment is 'Neutral (evil)' (which implies motive and/or identity). It's a big ball of fungus.

Can knock you down and poison you with spores, and your best bet is to stab it with a 6'+ spear.

No. Appearing is 1, but imagine a herd of these rolling over the (lunar) landscape.

Aspis.

Cow or larva - don't know why they used this illustration for this monster.

I always found it hard to care, because they're just a fairly vanilla hive/insect monster with not much to distinguish them from any of the others.

As 'the existence of larvae and cows is only rumor', they could have been left out completely and the Aspis would be a giant, Very Intelligent weevil that has a 5% chance of speaking Common and can comfortably wield 2 weapons and 2 shields at once - which I think stands on its own. 

They have no individual names and enjoy drinking blood - recreationally, rather than as an attack form.

Atomie.

'The smallest of sprites'. Elf/Goblin.

Aurumvorax.

Its precious metal-eating habits are implied by its name, but aren't made explicit in the description (2e Monstrous Compendium and a Dragon magazine The Ecology of... article are what really piqued my interested in the 'golden gorger').

Being Size S and having 12 HD, as well as various immunities and resistances, means that it is the mongoose, or the rue-stuffed weasel, of D&D monsters - it is capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the big dogs of the MMs, including dragons.

Azer.


'They appear much like dwarves with brass-colored skin and flames for hair'. 

Then I will use them as Dwarves and Trolls, probably living in volcanoes. The fact that 'the word of an azer is a solid bond' only reinforces this folkloric conviction. They're also little people with great strength, which is something I like in a monster.

The name of their 'legendary king' is Amaimon, a prince of Hell in IRL demonology (and not a hundred miles from Mammon), so they could also be the fiery devils of the underworld if you haven't yet populated that corner of your cosmology.

Baku.

Not the Baku I was expecting.

Apologies for 'Good=boring', but my feeling is that the MM2 Baku is a more interesting monster if it's not constrained by its Neutral Good Alignment and it's 'timid and peace-loving nature' (except when smiting Evil - which seems a bit of a cop-out).

In 2nd edition AD&D, Baku kept the Neutral Alignment but dropped compulsory Good, and the one in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium is even wielding a mace in its trunk.

Banderlog.

Big intelligent baboons that throw coconuts and retch plant globes. Nothing to see here.

The bandar-log are from Rudyard Kipling.

Barghest.

Like the Baku, this was not the monster I was expecting under this name.

Lots of interesting DM-facing information about their life-cycle and habits. Player-facing, they're extra-planar goblin were-dogs that normal goblins worship and fear - they're the big boss fight.

They put me in mind of the Nabassu (which will come up later), because of their life-cycle. I can see a cosmology where Barghest and Nabassu (reskinned or otherwise) represent the opposing forces of darkness (much like demon/devil, tanar'ri/baatezu).

Barkburr.

This plant monster gets a whole page and it makes me tired just looking at it. Thinking of it as an elemental or nature spirit, around which to build a location or adventure, makes it less of a chore for me.

It's got an interesting ability, turning people into trees that then might transform into a Treant or a Druid. Doesn't say anything about memory retention.

The direburr variant is less tolerant than the base monster, but it's not exactly evil.

Basidirond.


Unratable Intelligence and Neutral (evil) Alignment; see Ascomid above.

Great forests of these marching across the plains of the Moon, suitably coloured. Like.

Basilisk, Greater.

Bigger, tougher Basilisk that's harder to use its own gaze against it. So what - unless you have a lot of Basilisks in your campaign.

Bat (Mobat and Ordinary).

The Mobat is a logical progression of the Giant Bat monster-type with its sonic special attack, and it has Low Intelligence, so on a par with lots of the dungeon humanoids. They have a 12 to 16 foot wingspan.

Ordinary Bats are presented more as an environmental hazard than a monster threat. As a monster threat, the DM could be rolling 10 to 1000 Hit Rolls RAW.

Bat, Fire.

Hitch rides to the Prime Material with summoned fire elementals, where they lair in/near volcanoes and hot springs and then 'reproduce by fission after gorging on blood'. They 'especially prize rubies, jacinths, and carnelians' and include mechanics for burning you, drinking your blood and being doused in water. 

Quite a tidy little monster that is more interested in feeding than fighting you to the death.

Reskin as Lava Clones with unformed features that attempt to hug and suckle mortals for their blood so they can increase their number, but are otherwise not that interested in the mortal sphere. Lava clones can't fly.

Bear, Northern (Polar Bear).

Well, would you look at that? An actual bear for which I would suggest that you just use a Bear.

The illustration doesn't look like a polar bear.

Bee, Giant.

I like Bees.

They get to be vanilla hive/insect monsters because they're the ones that all the others are measured against.

There was a Dragon magazine article that suggested beefing up insects by scaling up their strength along with their size - a Giant Bee could carry off an armoured character on horseback without much trouble (based on IRL).

Beetle, Giant.

The Death Watch Beetle can camouflage itself by sticking debris to its back, and can disguise itself by 'wearing the carapaces of other giant beetles' - I'd like to know where this idea came from, because I don't know if they do it IRL. The distinctive noise of the DWB is also upgraded to a potentially fatal sonic attack.

I think a trick was missed by not incorporating some of the beetle's literary/folklore characteristics.

Slicer Beetles snip off your arms and legs, so the most important thing about this entry is that it gives details of what happens when you're wearing one or non-matching magic boots/gloves (with the implication that sometimes it works fine, and the explicit statement that non-matching pairs cannot be identified as such). 

Behemoth.

It's just a massive hippo.

Behir.

At the time, I didn't know this was from Scottich folklore (beithir/ loathly worm), but it's the kind of monster I'd serve up in preference to a vanilla dragon.

Lightning, multiple claws, crushing coils, swallowing whole, implication that scales could make good armour.

Bloodthorn.

Vampiric plant. For me, the most interesting thing about it is that it can have up to 30 Hit Dice, so it could be a surprise winner if you're playing Monster Manual Top Trumps.

Boalisk.

'Nearly identical to the constrictor snake' - so it's a Gotcha! monster.

Mechanics for meeting/avoiding its gaze, which causes disease like a standard Mummy.

Primary attack is its 'bill', which implies it has a beak and makes me think of ducks - the illustration is just of a snaky thing. I'd treat it as a magical creature - a treasure guardian in the mythic underworld or a spirit of disease - rather than a mundane animal.

Bodak.

2e Planescape Bodak.

A human who spent too long slinking around the Abyssal Planes and ended up as a kind of demonic undead. Cool!

I like that they are 90% likely to be carrying a weapon, but they won't use it - instead using their death-gaze. I wonder if this was so a magic weapon could be a quest goal with a deadly guardian, but not have it used against the party?

There's a weird disconnect between its Low Intelligence, its cunning (equal to INT 1-20, randomly determined - when? Every time it's used?) and an undefined ability to control a summoner ('Intelligence factor for control purposes can be as high as 20' - is this the same as 'cunning', is it separate, is the control ability based on magic jar or Intelligent swords?).

I compared the 1e Bodak with 2e Planescape to see if this got cleared up, but it was just dropped. Additionally, they became weapon-capable but rarely carried them, and would sometimes pause in combat, caught in a dim reverie of their past life.

Stray thought: maybe every magical weapon has a Bodak.

Boggart.

Canonically, 'a boggart is the immature form of a will-o-wisp'. 

It's an interesting and unusual monster that I think stands on its own - to me, it feels more demonic, faerie or undead than it does a baby wisp, and I'd run it as such. The spooky goblin wizard of Dragonwarriors is more like what I was expecting to see under this name.

It cannot hold the same form for longer than '10 or 12 rounds', swapping between wisp, humanoid and invisible. The text states that invisibility lasts 12 rounds, which implies that wisp and/or humanoid forms last 10. It's not clear whether it has to shift between the three types, or if it could continuously cycle through humanoid forms (gnome, halfling, goblin, xvart and norker are given as examples).

Boggarts have a poltergeist-flavoured confusion ability (which is more effective if others of their kind join in), an electric shock touch attack, and are immune to all spells except magic missile, maze and protection from evil. If they kill and eat you, you can't be raised.

They can 'understand and speak all languages', but aren't great conversationalists.

Boggle.

2e Boggles - look how creepy they are now.

A goblin with better Hit Dice than an Ogre, with some interesting abilities and sound cues that add richness to the description - I have a clearer idea of what a Boggle encounter would be like, or even the imagined private life of the things, than numerous other monsters in this book.

Their special abilities are logical and complementary, with the only weird one being the ability to dimension door 'through any complete frame, such as a hole, a door frame, grillwork, between a character's legs'. Range given is 3", but I think that actually means 30' in AD&D context. The text implies that the ability is only for them to reach through with their hands, rather than their whole body - but it equally does not specify they can't do this.

This is one I've been meaning to convert for Call of Cthulhu. 

Boobrie.

Massive bird that's immune to poison, and apparently related to the Roc.

Not the Boobrie of folklore, but I hadn't heard of it back then.

Bookworm.

Resource hazard/ MU threat monster. 

Not really my kind of thing, and this entry would benefit from the Old School Essentials treatment.

Bowler.


It never really registered that they had such low hit points (d4+1), and this makes me like them a lot more.

From the illustration, it looks like a people-pulper, but stats and description suggests more of a swarm monster. Possibly related to Mimics, but I'd say more like a Piercer if they're living creatures.

I think I'd lightly reskin them as minor earth elementals, or as animated rocks (by spell or monster special ability). If they feed, it's on your life-energy or your fear or something, or they could be vampire stones.

Buckawn.

I particularly like this little wizened guy because he could be Gando Thurfoot from Dungeon Master.

Anyway: they've got a folkloric name and they're on the Elf/Goblin continuum. Like.


Onward Link to C...

Monday, January 11, 2021

d18 x d6 Nested Table of Unholy Attributes


Leo Hartas, from The Elven Crystals (DW3).
Bunch of howling Unholy ghost monks unable to approach that Holy relic full of Holy water on that Holy altar.

Unholy isn't Evil, but that's not what the Universal Church of the True Faith teaches. 

Demons and devils, undead and spirits, pagan priests and sorcerers, elves and goblins, excommunicates and apostates - these are the kind of things that might exhibit Unholy Attributes. Most are vulnerabilities or can be used by others to detect/diagnose, but some just about qualify as special abilities.

Unholy Attributes doesn't mean you're the baddies, but it does set you apart and make you stand out in conventional society. I was never comfortable with Lawful standing in for 'good', nor with Lawful Good being the 'best' (even before I learned Gygax's thoughts on what was acceptable LG behaviour).

System agnostic - some mechanical suggestions, some are purely narrative. The table is not weighted for probabilities - I'm under a d6 geas so you get 108 using d666.

These are meant to have a (Anglo/Euro, because that's what I'm most familiar with) folkloric flavour. Sorcerous corruptions and double-edged Dark Gifts from other settings serve as ideal substitutes if you don't like those below. Change whatever you need to.

  1. (11, 12) Roll d6: Sunlight
    1. Destroys you. That's it - one little glimmer and you're dust. No save.
    2. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    3. Renders you invisible, senseless, silent and incorporeal. You are unable to perceive or interact with the material world until darkness falls. 
    4. Enfeebles you. Pick an appropriate spell or monster attack for mechanics.
    5. Terrifies you, causing you to flee to the nearest dark place, without consideration of any other factors than immediately escaping the sun's rays.
    6. Starts the process of decay as if you were newly dead - you cannot reverse it, but keeping out of the sun delays your ultimate dissolution. If you're not already undead, you might end up so.
  2. (13, 14) Roll d6: Mirror. This can mean any looking glass, only silver-backed mirrors or any reflective surface, as appropriate, and can also be extended to visual recording media, if they are found in your setting.
    1. You have no reflection. Odds/evens, you are visible only as a slight haze or ripple.
    2. Your reflection is grotesque, hideous. If you are already monstrous, it is even worse and enough to upset you.
    3. While a mirror will reflect you, the moment you glance into it, it will shatter, blacken or otherwise fail/spoil.
    4. Catching sight of your reflection causes you to immediately save vs. fear. Three successes in a row means you have controlled your fear for this encounter (which is a very elastic unit of duration).
    5. Once cast, your reflection remains visible in the glass/surface. Under certain conditions, it may step into the material world, either to harm you or to go about its weird and private business.
    6. Exercise extreme caution, for if you were to touch your reflection, you would be instantly transferred to the mirror world and lost forever. It might be that your reflection has a hypnotic effect, should you meet your own gaze.
  3. (15, 16) Roll d6: Electricity/ Radio/ Wi-fi. These attributes will go unnoticed in settings where such forces are unknown/ yet to be discovered.
    1. Confuses you when and while you are exposed. Your behaviour is erratic, irrational and unfathomable - your personality is not completely submerged, but you're not yourself.
    2. You are a focus of interference, disrupting the signals - dampening, enhancing, subverting, converting.
    3. You are the centre of dead zone, cancelling all signals within (say) d6x10' radius. Your touch may render useless (though reparable) reception and transmission devices.
    4. You transmit signals that register as anomalous, but would need effort or an expert to decipher and to confirm you as the source.
    5. Enfeebles (as Sunlight)
    6. Decay (as Sunlight)
  4.  (21, 22) Roll d6: Consecrated Ground. You'll need to define terms for your setting, but expect this to cover shrines, temples, burial grounds etc. 
    1. While on consecrated ground, you are Enfeebled. You might be unable to use your supernatural special abilities, too.
    2. You are unable to enter a zone of consecration (lively discussion at the table as to whether you can be pushed, thrown, catapulted or dragged by horses).
    3. It burns! Take minor damage for every step you take; stand still too long and you'll go up like a bonfire. Odds/evens, the damage is permanent.
    4. You are incorporeal and unable to use your supernatural special abilities while on consecrated ground. You are visible and can be heard, but cannot physically interact with anything.
    5. St. Elmo's fire/ faerie fire springs up at every step you take, eventually enveloping your entire form. Your touch transmits the ethereal flame to objects.
    6. Wherever you tread, wherever your blood falls, you leave a corrupt mark (smouldering, withered, rotting, ash, dust, fungus etc.). On those particular spots, the consecration no longer applies.
  5. (23, 24) Roll d6: Shadow.
    1. You cast no shadow. This is the kind of thing people will eventually notice and comment on.
    2. Your shadow can detach and go abroad on its own. You may or may not be in control of this. It can be an ally or antagonist.
    3. If your shadow falls on a mortal, they suffer as if attacked by an appropriate monster (Shadow, Vampire, Nabassu etc) or affected by an appropriate spell (anything from cause light wounds to disintegrate).
    4. Your shadow can be attacked and you will suffer. These must be deliberate, directed attacks. You and your shadow do not necessarily share the same vulnerabilities and immunities.
    5. Your shadow is grotesque, hideous - disturbing even to you. It is even more so when cast by moonlight.
    6. You are vulnerable to the shadow of something (usually a relic, symbol or priest, but maybe an animal or monster that is used as a religious allegory). The exact effect can be that of another Unholy Attribute.
  6. (25, 26) Roll d6: Silver/Iron
    1. Burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment.
    2. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    3. Being presented with the metal forces a Morale Check, fear save or similar.
    4. You cannot cross a threshold that is guarded by this metal (horseshoe over a doorway, silver dagger on a window sill etc). This might mean only the specific crossing point, or may extend to the whole site.
    5. Warms in your presence (tolerable to the bearer), melts at your touch.
    6. Tarnishes in your presence, rusts/corrodes at your touch.
  7. (31, 32) Roll d6: Running Water
    1. You cannot cross running water, by bridge, boat, mount, ford, jumping or taking a long stride. You may be able to cross using an aerial vehicle, but it would likely need to be non-magical.
    2. It's like concentrated acid. A splash will burn; immersion will strip the flesh from your bones, which will then turn to silt and be washed away.
    3. It will not accept you. You cannot use this to walk on water, nor to resist the force of the water. It will keep off the rain, though.
    4. When you enter running water, it becomes sluggish and stagnant. If you stay long enough, you may permanently silt-up or pollute a body of water.
    5. Your very touch pollutes the water. While you are submerged (and possibly for some time afterwards), the water is unsafe - either poisonous or diseased.
    6. The sound of running water fills you with fear and loathing - save to approach, and each round or withdraw/flee.
  8. (33, 34) Roll d6: Lamplight. This includes all common and typically non-magical adventure game light sources, and could be extended to cover electric lighting. Bioluminescence is unaffected. 
    1. Gutters/flickers in your presence.
    2. If you place your hand on a light source, it will go out immediately and completely. It will be difficult to relight it while you remain close by.
    3. Your presence dims the light level, including daylight.
    4. You are permanently surrounded by an aura of darkness, in which vision is only possible through supernatural means (you are unaffected).
    5. All light sources explosively flare and burn out in your presence.
    6. In your presence, the light sources attract a growing profusion of moths and flies - eventually enough to extinguish them, and smother unfortunate mortals.
  9. (35, 36) Roll d6: Animals.
    1. Are scared of you, and will always cower. It does not stop them attacking you.
    2. You are scared of them, and must make a Morale Check/ fear save.
    3. Can always tell when you're near - they will not necessarily give you away.
    4. You immediately square off against each other, hissing and spitting and baring teeth etc. This is a contest of wills.
    5. All animals are tense and vigilant in your presence - their Reaction is always Unfriendly to Hostile.
    6. Animals follow and fawn on you. They are submissive rather than servile. Reaction is Neutral and you cannot command them - they may, however, turn on enemies of your Unholiness (eg. witch-finders and paladins, rather than bandits and adventurers).
  10. (41, 42) Roll d6: Holy Water. 
    1. Your touch spoils holy water. This has a powerful psychological effect on believers, even in settings where holy water has no intrinsic special power.
    2. Being splashed or threatened with holy water forces a Morale Check/ fear save.
    3. Burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment.
    4. Whenever you are in the presence of holy water, you are compelled to drink it. Something like a Wisdom save to resist doing so.
    5. You cannot cross a barrier of holy water. 
    6. Boils in your presence. Even if you're not otherwise especially vulnerable to it, being splashed with it could scald you.
  11. (43, 44) Roll d6: Prayer. This could also be extended to holy names, the invocation of a saint etc.
    1. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    2. You cannot hear anything other than the prayer while it is being spoken. This may have a secondary effect on your ability to communicate.
    3. While a prayer is spoken, you are Enfeebled.
    4. In your presence, the words of the prayer falter on the tongue of the speaker and fade from their mind like mist in the sun.
    5. All prayers spoken in your presence come out as the vilest/lewdest blasphemy. The speakers will always remember the words they spoke, possibly tempting them to future beastliness.
    6. Prevents you using your supernatural powers. It is likely you will physically attack or choose to withdraw.
  12. (45, 46) Roll d6: True Innocent/Saintly. True Innocence/ Saintly cannot be achieved deliberately - you are or you aren't - though a person can strive for it. I guess deities could bestow it.
    1. You cannot harm the truly innocent or the saintly.
    2. You are compelled to harm them, though you do not have to do so directly or obviously. This can lead to you devising convoluted plans that take up time you could use more usefully.
    3. You weep in their presence - you kind of love them.
    4. You bleed in their presence - you hate yourself. Neither condition has a mechanical effect.
    5. They bleed in your presence. This is upsetting for them, but has no mechanical effect.
  13. (51, 52) Roll d6: The Dead. By this I mean otherwise lifeless, inanimate corpses - not undead monsters.
    1. Cry out in your presence. If you're particularly powerful or notorious, they might begin to wail even as you set out from a great distance.
    2. Attempt to attack you - they make one attack when you are in range, as whatever undead monster seems appropriate, then lie still again.
    3. If buried, they attempt to burrow deeper to get away from your presence. If exposed, they will crawl or even get up and walk.
    4. In your presence, tears roll from their eyes, blood runs from their wounds.
    5. They rise up and follow you (treat as zombies or skeletons) - they will not fight unless you have special abilities or magic items to command them.
    6. Raise their glutinous/scratchy voices in praise of your fabulous unholiness, your appetising darkness, your promises of howling eternity.
  14. (53, 54) Roll d6: Salt. Or any other holy granules appropriate to your setting. 
    1. You cannot cross a line or circle of salt. At a threshold, it may prevent your entrance to a site or dwelling.
    2. The merest taste is poison to you (sickness, weakness, death etc).
    3. Blackens, clumps, dissolves in your presence.
    4. If you see it, you are compelled to count it - every individual granule. Something like a Wisdom save to resist doing so.
    5. Compulsive gourmand - Wisdom save or similar to resist eating it in great greedy handfuls.
    6. The merest taste awakens you to your ultimate fate/ horrible truth of your existence. Roll or choose another effect to see how this manifests. You will also be miserable thereafter, eternally.
  15. (55, 56) Roll d6: Holy Symbol.
    1. You can be Turned as an appropriately powerful undead.
    2. Blackens/ tarnishes (odds/evens) in your presence/ at your touch.
    3. The touch burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment. Odds/evens, leaves a permanent brand mark.
    4. Your touch causes the symbol to corrode/melt/rot/rust within 2-7 rounds.
    5. Become red hot/ice cold in your presence (as chill/heat metal). Can be used to injure you if you are not otherwise resistant to fire and/or frost.
    6. Just the sight forces a Morale Check, fear save or similar.
  16. (61, 62) Roll d6: Church Bells/Cockcrow. Also covers the cultural equivalent for your setting.
    1. The sound dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there. The sound must be audible to you, so covering your ears and running might help.
    2. You flee in terror.
    3. Enfeebles until you have had a chance to rest (the equivalent of a night's sleep, whether you actually need to sleep or not).
    4. Confuses you while it can be heard and for a short time afterwards. Your behaviour is erratic, irrational and unfathomable - your personality is not completely submerged, but you're not yourself.
    5. Those in your presence cannot hear the bells or cockcrow, and anyone still asleep will not be able to wake up until you are gone.
    6. The sound forces you to make an immediate death save. Make an equivalent save for the bells/cockerel. Instant death/destruction if failed - sometimes there are no winners.
  17. (63, 64) Roll d6: Holy Names. You could also use the effects of randomised holy/power word spells instead. Holy names can be commonplace ("Jesus Christ!"), or arcane secrets - as appropriate for your game.
    1. You are unable to attack the one who has pronounced that name. Only the first person to use the name is protected, and you are otherwise 'immune' to it until midnight/dawn (odds/evens).
    2. You must obey a brief command given by they who spoke the name. No save and you hate this.
    3. You must immediately and expeditiously retreat. You will not be able to return for one hour.
    4. Cause pain and cringing - save vs. stun, and forces a Morale Check.
    5. Make a save or be paralysed. Strength save to break free.
    6. Immediately struck dead. A save may apply depending on the stature of the name pronounced.
  18. (65, 66) Roll d6: Fire.
    1. The cleansing flames set you free! No save, but you can attempt to extinguish the flames before they get too established. You leave only powdery ashes.
    2. Will not consume you. If you are not otherwise fire-resistant, it still hurts.
    3. You leave scorch marks on everything you touch. You cannot start a fire this way, nor cause more than narrative harm to a living thing - you might be able to kill small animals if this is acceptable fiction at your table.
    4. In your presence, it seems like there is a fire somewhere nearby - distant crack and pop sounds, smudges in the air, a scent of smoke and/or brimstone, a stray spark or flake of ash. The evidence of the fire is not an illusion, but nor is it real.
    5. You will not approach a flame/fire of greater than a few candles. Light and heat sources not using a flame have no effect - this includes electric light and maybe also gas jets.
    6. The close presence of fire forces a Morale Check. To be attacked with fire forces a fear save, and again if you are injured by it.

Friday, January 8, 2021

d66/d36 Introductions for Replacement Adventurers


Guess what? You went on an adventure and you got killed. Hand in your character sheet and shed a tear.

But you don't have to stop playing. 

Either get yourself raised from the dead, or roll 2d6/d66 to see how a new character can be introduced mid-session, seamlessly or with a great thump of deus ex machina. 

There's no particular reason why the surviving adventurers would hand over their late comrade's equipment for you to use, so maybe roll on some other tables to kit yourself out.

This leans into the old school dungeon adventure type of game, but is system agnostic and should easily adapt to other settings and systems. These are narrative prompts to get you going when you don't have the luxury or will to research, hone and carefully edit a 30-page backstory.

  1. Roll d6:
    1. Solo Adventurer. A Solo Adventurer (sword, leather armour, backpack, rations, 1 potion, 3 random not necessarily useful/not necessarily useless items) approaches the party after the fatality.
    2. Survivor. The party stumble on the aftermath of what looks like mutually assured destruction, but someone was knocked out and hidden under the blood and bodies. You're in need of some healing, but otherwise functional.
    3. Bounty Hunter. Roll d3: 1. Hunting one of the party members, 2. Hunting the dead character, 3. Hunting an NPC in the dungeon.
    4. Assassin. Roll d3: 1. Contracted to kill a party member, 2. Contracted to kill the dead character, 3. Contracted by an NPC in the dungeon (odds/evens, on their way to/from receiving orders/collection payment)
    5. Messenger. Roll d3: 1. Delivering a message to the party, 2. Delivering a message to an NPC in the dungeon, 3. Bringing a ransom for a prisoner in the dungeon.
    6. Spider Victim. Caught in a web or wrapped up in silk. Spider(s) present, 1 on d6.; Spider(s) nearby on a 2.
  2. Roll d6:
    1. Ghoul Victim. You're paralysed, but it will wear off in a few rounds. The Ghouls themselves have been driven off or are waiting in ambush (odds/evens).
    2. Swallowed Whole. You're either in the next appropriate monster (vomited up, shat out or cut from belly during the battle) or the beast is already dead and you struggle free as the party arrive.
    3. Prisoner. Locked or tied up in the nearest appropriate location. If a rogue-type, you may already have escaped.
    4. Sacrifice. If you're not being dragged to the altar/ edge of the pit, you're either a prisoner or being prepared (odds/evens, you're drugged, hypnotised or otherwise subdued).
    5. Black Ichor Addict. A twitchy, hollow-eyed, compulsive dungeoneer.
    6. Amnesiac. Not necessarily equipped to have made it this far. Baffled, but you know your name and adventurer type. 
  3. Roll d6:
    1. Sleeping Beauty. Roll d3: 1. A sleep spell is expiring, 2. Can be woken with a kiss, 3. Naked and looted, your last memory is setting off a gas trap at a dead-end.
    2. Friendly Doppelganger. "Their life's work was not done - I shall take their form and make sure this death is not for nothing."
    3. Unfriendly Doppelganger. "No, I wasn't really dead - you just left me behind."
    4. You were the Doppelganger. "Thank goodness, my evil twin has been slain and I can take my life back."
    5. Activated Clone. You arrive on the scene with a convenient gap in your memory and a debt of 24,000 standard wealth units + 100 per Ability Score point (or adjust to reflect cloning procedures in your campaign/setting), but you're otherwise the same character.
    6. Vengeful Revenant. Doesn't have to be the dead character. Dies a true death when avenged.
  4. Roll d6:
    1. Stone-to-Flesh. You transform as the party happen by. You may be from the distant past if you were petrified by magic or monster. If you were originally a statue, you will either be like the sculptor's subject (which might be a famous historical figure, allegory or deity) or an amnesiac. Or you could be a Living Statue.
    2. Lovecraftian Resurrection. Someone said the right words and you have risen from your essential saltes. You are vulnerable to effects which can reverse this and blast you back to dust.
    3. Mercenary/ Hireling. You were part of another adventuring party, but they couldn't pay/cheated you out of your share. It's possible you are just lost.
    4. Treasure Hunter. You know the whereabouts in the dungeon of a significant hoard or object, and see the wisdom in teaming up.
    5. Pilgrim. You are visiting the sacred sites. It's possible you are lost.
    6. Sent by Fate. A righteous quest, the needs of cosmic balance or a karmic debt have driven you to seek out the party and fight alongside them.
  5. Roll d6:
    1. Vampire Victim. You are free of the Vampire's clutches now. Or are you? Obviously.
    2. On the Run/ In Hiding
    3. Berserker. When the red-mist cleared, here you were.
    4. Summoned Monster. Plucked out of time and space by a spell, you completed your task and find yourself stuck here rather than back there.
    5. Trapped by Lava. You seem to have got yourself stuck on the wrong side of the lava and would be ever so grateful for some help.
    6. Trapped by Monster. "Such good luck that you turned up when you did - LOOK OUT!"
  6. Roll d6:
    1. Binding Circle. You were trying to keep something out or something was trying to keep you in. In any case, someone else needs to break the circle to set you free.
    2. Forlorn Encystment. Your sentence is over and the enchantment wears off - you are unceremoniously expelled from the earth, and you don't remember a dungeon being here. Your sorcerous incarcerator could be long dead by now.
    3. Monster Hunter. You're after a specific monster (or type of monster) found in the dungeon. You know its habits and weaknesses, but it turned out to be more than you can manage on your own.
    4. Sorcerer's Apprentice. Someone has to collect the rare, raw leavings of the dungeon denizens so some tower-wizard can do their experiments. You're that someone, you're not necessarily magically gifted or even interested.
    5. Outcast. You have been rejected, hounded out of the mainstream, and you walk the liminal spaces of the world, seeking solitude or rare companionship.
    6. Doom Seeker. You can be found in the dark and dangerous places seeking the deadliest monsters and/or the most destructive artefacts - you fully intend to die trying.

Monday, January 4, 2021

d66/d36 Monsters of the Dry Red & Ochre Hills


  1. Roll d6:
    1. Horntoads: Somewhere between toad and lizard; very patient; more than can be fed will gather to take you down, then sort it out between whoever’s left.
    2. Sailbacks: Dimetrodons, but about the size of dog (seem bigger, due to sail, tail and thickset). Strong jaws, slow-witted. Not very aggressive. Scavengers that can crunch up bone.
    3. Venomous Flying Frogs: Some Scientician will tell you that they’re toads, actually; glide on flaps of skin along their sides; everything about them exudes a paralytic venom. Favourite food is Sand Dwellers.
    4. Wretched Mi-Go: Something has ripped away their head-part and their intelligence. They cluster together without reason, bumbling about, setting up a hummadruz at movement within 10', light 30'. If you have means of interface, you can have them guide you to buried treasure and rare mineral deposits.
    5. Strangling Vines: Tumbles of dry looking creepers that snare passing prey; stronger and not as flammable as you’d think. Bulbous root wedged in a dark crevice, vines can regrow as long as this survives.
    6. Owl Bards: Look like child-sized burrowing owls (reskinned B/X halflings); can only fly in short hops; intelligent, can talk, like to pilfer; oral, poetic culture.
  2. Roll d6:
    1. The Owlbear (1): Reminiscent of a giant lion, but definitely an Owlbear; prodigious excavator and burrower; considers itself the apex predator.
    2. Constellation Mimics: Bioluminescent chameleonic gelatinous levitating vampires (drain cranial and spinal fluids, too); pretend to be patches of sky at night; envelop then extrude hollow fangs; rapidly liquefy on death; vulnerable to fire and sunlight. You decide if they’re blob monsters, humanoids or a type of undead.
    3. Grotesque Flying Heads: Out-and-about at night; quite chatty and gossipy when they don’t think anyone’s watching; they’ve got a shelf of their own in a cave/tomb somewhere, or on the mantlepiece of an abandoned cottage.
    4. Hungry Dead: They won’t try to eat you until they’ve bought, begged or stolen all of your supplies; might trail you for days, but won’t leave the hills; they don’t look that dead by daylight, but become more obviously so as the sun sets.
    5. Sand Dwellers: Enigmatic Mythos entities. Cave, rather than sand, dwellers (a misnomer); surprisingly pink and fleshy, because they have plenty of water in their lair. Will sacrifice you to the Hillbeast at certain times of the year, but otherwise not automatically hostile. Play mournful, discordant pipes.
    6. Hillbeast (1): Terrifying, writhing, gargantuan lump of hairy flesh; usually confined to a cavern temple, but goes wandering on certain nights of the year; Sand Dwellers worship or otherwise attend it.
  3. Roll d6:
    1. Hunting Cacti: Vibration sense; move by jumping and tumbling; drain blood with hollow spines; will retreat if you can break enough spines; vulnerable core protected by thick, tough flesh.
    2. Goblins: Brimmed hats, vizards and dark red robes to go out in the sun; share cave lairs with Spider and Fungoid allies; stake a claim on all Miniature Goats and Sheep.
    3. Spider Elves: Naked, halfling-sized, with bestial (the rare and common fauna of the Dry Red Hills) caricatures of human features. Cut things with tiny triangular pieces of flint or obsidian, but as fond of general mischief as fatal exsanguination. Can turn their feet backwards or to leave animal tracks.
    4. Grey Hags (1-3): Three squabbling immortal carnivorous sisters. Share an enchanted tooth, tongue and eye (symbolic or real). When they’re not scheming against each other, they’re making trouble recreationally. If you’re looking for a particular object, place or spell, they’ll be ones who know what, where and how. The price is always horrible.
    5. Sphinx Elves: Tawny, with black eyes and yellow hair, but otherwise much like their mountain cousins.
    6. Stone Scorpions: Smaller, redder and much less strong than their mountain cousins, but more aggressive, numerous and venomous.
  4. Roll d6:
    1. Flock of Sheep: Odds/evens, these are a double-sized flock of Miniature Sheep.
    2. Herd of Goats: Odds/evens, these are a double-sized flock of Miniature Goats.
    3. Monotaur (1): Massive, single-horned bull; dainty hooves, surprisingly agile; intelligent, but aggressive; stamp, trample, gore. Pick one other monster to be its local rival, or another Monotaur.
    4. Jackalhydra (1): Pony-sized jackal with exploding d3 heads on branching telescopic necks. Cut off a head and two grow back (max. 18). Gaze attack causes sleep. Intelligent and can talk – using the languages and voices of those it devours.
    5. Fink Harpies: Scrawny, long-legged, winged cats. So filthy and disease-ridden that their attacks are effectively venomous. Strong smell and repulsive habits. Scavengers, but will prey on the lost and the weak. Can sense and are utterly afraid of all types of undead.
    6. Sun Loungers: Lazy, glittering things that stretch out on hot rocks to soak up the rays. At a distance, when they’re not conscious of your presence, you can’t tell if they’re a predatory iguana or a beautiful potential lover. Lure predators using adaptive telepathic feedback. Can blaze images onto your retina so you think you’re under attack from all sides.
  5. Roll d6:
    1. Pool Goblins: Tied to shrinking seasonal pools, these larval Fossergrims are unlikely to mature. Will attempt to stow away in your backpacks and water bags in hope of reaching a more suitable pool.
    2. Urn Mummies: Dry, crumbly and stick-like, their gracious tombs long despoiled, these itinerant mummies carry their burial urns with them and use them as a vampire does a coffin-and-native-earth. Battered by the years and the elements, they have a cynical sense of humour and a desire to recount their great pre-mortem accomplishments.
    3. Dwarves/Trolls: Reskinned B/X Halflings with Stone Giant Strength. The main difference between the two types is that Trolls are nocturnal, and have tougher skin and bones (Stone Giant AC). Brightly and noisily dressed, so stealth ability is paramortal glamour.
    4. Cave Toads: Stone coloured, inside and out, but with iridescent, jewel-like eyes. Mama Toad's yawning maw is indistinguishable from a cave mouth; Mama Toad's hypnotic young sit on her tongue and exude an acid-resistant slime.
    5. Tomb Raiders: Adventurers looking for plunder. Unfriendly and don't like competition.
    6. Sere Ghouls: Jackal-fanged, with limbs like jerky, head and body wound about with dusty red cloth. Venomous spiked finger-sleeves and bronze sickle-swords. Lair on the cool, shady banks of secluded, welcoming pools. Cough blinding dust into your face to escape. 
  6. Roll d6:
    1. Old One Eye (1): A colossal, towering cloud on the horizon, resembling a bearded old man with hat, cloak, staff and vast, trailing beard. A break in the clouds is his missing eye. Sporadically benevolent, he can interact with creatures on your scale across many miles.
    2. Griffins: Cat-sized, feathered dinosaurs with outsize gutting claws - fore and hind. Can glide and make fluttering jumps. Known as agile scavengers. Not widely known as highly successful ambush predators, which is unfortunate for you.
    3. Carnivorous Horses: These sturdy-looking wild ponies seem attractively playful and guileless.
    4. Monster Hunters: Adventurers looking for trophies. Friendly but insist on competition.
    5. Dust Drake (1): Somewhere on the Venn of crocodile, hippopotamus and jackal, this brutish thing can direct a sonic lance causing rock and earth to crack and crumble. It can vibrate its scales to create a choking, blinding dust cloud (save vs. disease from shed scales and parasites). Enjoys a good wallow, preferring mud to clear water. Makes noises like a whale on starry nights, supposedly calling for a mate.
    6. Skeleton Army: 2d6 x 12 Skeletons, blackened by the years of sun and dust, and arranged in orderly units, armed with scimitars and shields. They will wait patiently for the Triumph of Death, but -if disturbed- animate one at a time, one per round, as long as one is still animate, going from slow and jerky to swift and deadly in 3 rounds. Until animated, they are unaffected by Turning.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

"We Belong Dead" - d66/d36 Consequences of Resurrection.

Ruddy heck - it's Lazarus!
William Blake.

Isn't resurrection meant to be a miracle? Otherwise, it's Hellraiser and Pet Sematary.

If you think raise dead and the like cheapens things, here's 36 prices to pay (and that's not including Death Itself wanting you back where you belong).

System agnostic, but clearly D&D adjacent.

Roll d6.

  1.  Roll d6:
    1. You are undead - immune to poison, sleep, charm and hold; you can be Turned/ Destroyed and/or Rebuked/ Commanded.
    2. Daylight discomforts you: -1 to Hit, Morale and detection (as appropriate).
    3. Affected by protection from, dispel and detect evil.
    4. Affected by protection from, dispel and detect magic.
    5. You are an evil were-creature, appropriate to your culture and beliefs.
    6. You have the minimum possible hit points for your level, class and Constitution.
  2. Roll d6:
    1. You do not heal naturally, nor respond to non-magical healing methods.
    2. You cannot be healed with magic.
    3. If you sleep in a camp or house with beings of 3hp or less, they must make a save vs. death or be at 0 hp when the morning comes.
    4. You do not need to eat human flesh to survive, you just really want to (save to resist - paralysis or Wisdom); your bite carries the traditional zombie venom and those bitten will rise from the dead as flesh-eating, infection-spreading zombies. You are not a zombie.
    5. You do not need to drink human blood to survive, you just really want to (save to resist - paralysis or Wisdom); your bite carries the traditional vampire taint and those bitten will rise from the grave as blood-sucking fiends. You are not a vampire.
    6. If you die again, you rise as an appropriately powerful undead.
  3. Roll d6:
    1. You are invisible, silent and non-corporeal in daylight; you cannot affect the material world in any way.
    2. Your touch spoils normal food and water (including iron rations), holy water and magic potions. I guess you'll have to find alternative sources of nourishment.
    3. You cast no reflection or shadow; you cannot be photographed (distorted blur) or recorded (barely discernible scratching sound).
    4. Uncontrollable fits of rage at the sound of laughter.
    5. If you suffer a crit, you lose 1 hp per round thereafter until death or magically healed.
    6. While you sleep, your body or your spirit goes abroad as an appropriately powerful undead. You have no control over or recollection of this.
  4. Roll d6:
    1. Your eyes hold the reflection of your glimpse of the ultimate hereafter, too big and terrible to explain or imagine. All mortals that meet your gaze must save or be afflicted with hopelessness, being consumed with sorrow and sympathy so they can do nothing but weep, contemplate, commiserate and mourn for 2d6 rounds. 
    2. Your Charisma is permanently reduced to 3.
    3. Normal animals fear you and instinctively shy away - you will have to get used to walking.
    4. Elves, Druids and Clerics recognise you for what you are.
    5. You are in constant pain: -4 to all rolls. Drugs, spells and mysterious alternative therapies may alleviate this temporarily.
    6. Your Strength, Dexterity and Constitution are all permanently reduced to 3.
  5. Roll d6:
    1. If you suffer a crit from an edged weapon, a random extremity is severed. 
    2. You are subject to summoning spells and the like, as if you are an undead or extra-planar monster.
    3. If struck by an Energy Draining attack, you are temporarily transformed into an appropriately powerful Energy Draining undead under the GM's control. Duration 2d6 rounds, or save each round to recover yourself. 
    4. Uncontrollable fits of laughter in the presence of suffering.
    5. You are troubled by shadows and whispers, swamped in a miasma of creeping grue - you will always be Surprised.
    6. Shadows, whispers and a sudden chill presage your coming - you can never win Surprise.
  6. Roll d6:
    1. If you suffer a crit from a piercing weapon, it pierces your heart and holds you helpless and immobile (as a vampire by a stake). It can still kill you if the damage rolled was enough; otherwise it's just a horrifying wound that defies explanation.
    2. No Hostile undead will attack you (your companions and innocent bystanders are not so protected), but they will follow/track you as long and as well as they are able.
    3. You are bound to the place you were raised from the dead - if you go further than 1 mile distant, you are reduced to the state of a basic zombie until returned or destroyed.
    4. Ghouls can smell you from way off and will come to investigate (always at night). They are not automatically Hostile.
    5. Demons can always detect/recognise you, whatever precautions you take.
    6. Whenever you harm a living thing, you immediately suffer the same damage/effect.