3/14/2012

Unwelcome Guests


 Among the villagers and tribesmen who eschew a life amid the splendors and squalors of Abraxas, Heliodor, and their fortified client towns in favor of maintaining what scholars refer to as a "traditional way of life," many challenges arise. In addition to mundane problems such as the outflux of young tribesmen toward a more urbanized way of life, the innate dangers of the wilderness, indigenous banditry and organized raids from Tseen Tsang and further afield, there stands out the severe problem of monsters. In the absence of the military strength of the fortified towns, the great walls of Heliodor, or the puissant sorcery of Abraxas, there is little protection from these rare evils.


 While random predation and frightful rages by wandering monsters are bad enough, it is a particular woe to the people when a monster chooses to impose itself upon a village for the long term. In this dire situation, certain kinds of monster remain in the midst of a community, declaring itself a kind of chief, and steadily growing larger and more dangerous as it consumes more and more human beings.


 Human beings are tasty - when such a monster consumes a human being, it adds a hit point to its HD total. Upon reaching +5, the bonus points roll over to the next hit die, making the monster a more dangerous combatant. In addition, if the monster's hit dice reach half again their starting value through man-eating the dice it rolls for damage doubles. If the monster can double its hit dice, its damage dice triple. Most monsters of this type have the ability to swallow human beings whole, and they especially benefit from eating heroes (and other characters with class levels, even if they aren't of a heroic disposition.) Add an extra HP to the monster's total for each class level as long as the victim is swallowed alive. The monster loses the extra growth if the character manages to escape its gullet alive. Several monsters notorious for this kind of behavior are detailed below. The DM may apply these supernatural traits to other monsters at his discretion, but may want to modify the base HD and damage output of creatures to account for their growth. In the absence of player involvement, the DM may assume the monster eats enough humans to add one hit die each week until its HD reach 150%, at which point its digestion slows and it begins to take a month per HD to reach double. This is the normal limit, but some legendary beasts may be able to grow even larger. Otherwise, the monster may lay waste to an entire area before wandering away or falling into hibernation.


 Once a monster has grown large enough, it may seem impossible to defeat, but usually a monster with the capability to grow through its man-eating ways also has a vice or weakness that can be exploited, possibly causing it to shrink, or at least to be tricked or put itself in a disadvantageous situation. If a monster's weakness can be exploited, it is possible to reduce it as low as half its base HD. In this case, also halve its rolled damage. Consult the following table to randomly determine a monster's weakness.


Monster Weaknesses (Roll d10)
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1 The monster is vain, and prone to being deceived by flattery. It loses a hit die each time an act of flattery leads the monster to put itself in a vulnerable or compromising condition. The monster suffers a -4 penalty to its saving throws vs. any spells cast on it as part of such a scheme. 


2 Monster has a gourmandish nature that goes above and beyond its ravening for human flesh, and especially craves exotic or luxurious-sounding food. The monster loses a HD each time it is tricked into eating something dangerous, or as a lump sum when it learns it has been tricked into eating things that are embarrassing to have eaten. Suffers a -4 penalty to saves against anything it ingests.


3 Monster has a craven nature and tends to be deflated by people standing up to it, and is prone to being deceived into thinking its opponent is truly powerful. Loses a HD each time it is presented with a convincing gesture that an opponent is more powerful than it. -4 to saves against any effect that would seem to require the attacker's level/HD be greater than its own.


4 Monster is an aficionado of a certain game and is eager to play it. Options might include as hoop-and-stick, footraces, dice or board games, guessing games, etc. Usually prefers traditional or ancient games. Loses a HD each time it is beaten (the opponent may cheat), and must make a save vs. spells not to demand a rematch. -4 to saves against any spell applying to the game itself. 25% Chance the monster itself tries to cheat. 


5 The monster enjoys riddles, and loses HD if it is stumped with a riddle, or its own riddles are guessed. 50% chance that it has a "master riddle" whose answer can normally only be known by cheating, which it will present for mortal stakes, but the monster will drop directly to half base HD if presented with the answer.


6 The monster is loves to fight and is eager to be formally challenged to single combat. Loses a HD each time it is damaged in such a combat, -4 to saves against any spell cast the round immediately after the monster is damaged. A cunning opponent will attempt to set the rules of the duel in such a way as to disadvantage the monster.


7. Monster is readily cowed by sacred or spiritual authority (or the pretense thereof.) If an opponent fraudulently convinces the monster it has such authority, -1 HD each time it is taken advantage of by a bogus ritual. A successful genuine Turn Undead attempt will reduce the monster directly to half base HD.


8 The monster has some sacred responsibility that it has absconded in favor of menacing the humans, which it will try to keep secret. If presented with this knowledge, it must save vs. spells or leave to return to its proper task. If it refuses, it loses 1 HD each round someone successfully berates it for its dereliction of duty without the monster successfuly attacking the berater for its insolence.


9 The monster is lovelorn, or at least lusty. The monster loses 1HD each hour its affections are apparently, or genuinely returned by a human with 16 or better charisma. The monster is immediately dropped to half base HD if it is tricked into acting out its desires on an embarrassing subject (e.g. an ugly old hag, a dummy, a grubby warrior in drag, etc.)


10 Monster has a taste for alcohol and will consume it voraciously, losing 1HD per gallon. Upon reaching its base HD, the monster becomes intoxicated and also must save vs. poison or pass out drunk.


While for many creatures, the hunger for human flesh is enough reason to impose itself upon a village, there is a 2 in 6 chance the monster has a specific grievance. If so, there is a 1 in 4 chance the grievance is unfounded.


Monster Grievances (roll d10)
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1 The monster is punishing the people for faltering in their traditional ways.


2 Someone in the tribe has disturbed the monster's sleep.


3 The monster was sent to plague the people by an evil magician.


4 Someone cheated some of the little people, and they have sent the monster in retributuion.


5 Someone made a deal with monster itself, (possibly while it was in disguise) and broke the deal.


6 Someone poached the monster's game, killed an animal sacred to the monster, or its pet.


7 Someone stole the monster's liquor or other valued possession.


8 The monster has always hated the people, and the medicine man who warded it off in the past has died.


9 The monster thinks the people of today are craven and unheroic, and wants to see if anyone has the courage to stand up to it.


10 somebody deliberately offended the monster


Notorious Monsters (roll d6)
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1 Great Thirster


2 Hungering Mantrap


3 Skin Collector


4 Cannibal Wind 


5 Carved Devourer


6 Panther-Serpent


Great Thirster
Great Thirster
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Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6***
Move: 60'(20')
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d12
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 6
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: B 
Alignment: Chaotic


 The Great Thirster is a belligerent, slimy, vaguely toad-like creature that installs itself in a stream, spring, or other local water supply, and absorbs it into its being, becoming more jelly-like and bloated, and reducing the flow of water to a foul-smelling slime. Humans with only the thirster's tainted water to drink will eventually develop webbed hands and feet, and dry, flaking skin that cause it to lose 1hp per hour that it cannot immerse itself with water. The thirster so controls them by allowing them to bathe in the unnaturally vast body of water inside its gullet, occasionally devouring a desperate subject. In combat, the creature bites, and on a roll of 15 or better, swallows the opponent whole, where he must swim to stay afloat or begin to drown, and may be attacked by 1d6 terrfied or crazed Normal Man villagers inside the monster's stomach. The great thirster is so moist, and so jelly-like, that it takes only 1hp/die of damage from fire and bludgeoning, and half damage from other weapon attacks. However, like a slug, it is vulnerable to salt, taking 1d6 damage per pound of salt thrown at it, and if a great enough wrestler can grapple it, it is possible to squeeze water from the creature like a sponge, dealing 1d6+Strength Bonus instead of normal grappling, and every 8 points of damage done through grappling reduce the creature's HD by 1 until it is squeezed down to frog-size and can be mortally crushed.


Hungering Mantrap
Hungering Mantrap
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Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6**
Move: 60'(20')
Attacks: 1 Tendrils + 1 Bite
Damage: 1d3/1d10+Swallow
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 5
Morale:  10
Treasure Type: B
Alignment: Chaotic


 This ill-tempered, many-tendrilled and -eyed creature is an ambulatory, carnivorous plant. It can attack with tendrils up to 30' away, and if it hits, automatically pulls a target into melee range. The interior of the creature is a roiling bath of foul decaying matter, whose vapors the creature can, instead of a bite, vomit forth once every 1d6 rounds as a Stinking Cloud effect. causing any victims in a 20' cloud to save vs. poison or be rendered helpless with nausea. If the creature rolls a 20 on its bite attack, the foe is swallowed, must immediately save vs. poison at -4 or fall prey to nausea, and begins to be digeste at 1d3 HP damage per round. The creature's many eyes allow it to see in a 360' radius.
Skin Collector
Skin Collector
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Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6*
Move: 90 (30')
Attacks: 2 Claws
Damage: 1d8/1d8
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter:6
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: B
Alignment: Chaotic


 The Skin Collector is a ghastly undead amalgamation of flayed human hides, draped haphazardly over an ungainly frame of bones. It attacks with bony claws, and if it hits with both, holds onto the foe and begins to smother it with one of the human hides attached to it. The smothered victim must save vs. death or begin to suffer 1d4 damage per round as it is choked and unable to breathe, and is also blinded by the mask of skin. The Collector will move onto another foe the next round, and can so envelop a chain of enemies up to the number of its hit dice. After foes die of suffocation, the Collector will later devour the meat and attach the skin and bones to its own frame. 
Cannibal Wind
Cannibal Wind*
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Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 6**
Move (flying): 180'(60')
Attacks: 3 Flenses
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d4
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Cleric 6
Morale: 10 
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic


 This horrible unseen presence attacks by powerful gusts of wind that can strip flesh from bone. It speaks through violent whispers and can throw objects around as if by telekinesis within the range of its movement. If it hits an opponent with a flense attack in 3 consecutive rounds, it forces itself into the victims lungs and automatically deals damage each round, devouring the victim from the inside out. Normally, it is invisible and can only be harmed by magical weapons or spells. However, when it is feeding, by forcing itself into the lungs of a dying foe, it may be attacked normally by damaging the body it is feeding upon, or trapped in a container.
Carved Devourer
Carved Devourer
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Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6**
Move: 120'(40')
Attacks: 1 Fist or 1 bite
Damage: 1d10+ or 1d10
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 6
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Chaotic


 A hideous and bloodthirsty giant intricately carved from wood and stained dark with human blood. It attacks a hammering blow from its fist, and on a 15 or higher, grabs the foe and begins cruelly chewing on him, dealing automatic damage and gaining 1HP each round it hits from the consumed flesh and blood unless its grip is broken by dealing damage greater than its current HD in a single round. It is difficult to injure, taking half-damage from physical weapons and, due to its blackened surface, from fire.
Panther-Serpent(Illustration by Zak S.)
Panther-Serpent
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Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 6***
Move: 90'(30')
Attacks: 2 Claws + 1 Bite + Constrict
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d6+Poison
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Cleric 6
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: D
Alignment:  Chaotic


 This imperious and cruel being, likely crawled forth from the ruins of an ancient saklan temple, is a coiled tangle offeline and serpentine elements, inclined to discoursing with its prey on esoteric matters. If both claw attacks hit, the panther-serpent begins to constrict its victim in its coils for 1d6 HPe per round. Its venomous bite induces an intensely dream-filled sleep, and the beast will attempt to swallow its sleeping victim whole, in which state the victim will imagine itself running in terror from the vision of the beast, losing 1d6 constitution per round from the stress of running, until he dies of panic and is digested, until the beast dies, or makes as many successful constitution checks as the beast's hit dice, at which point it he is vomited out.

14 comments:

  1. truly excellent post.

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  2. Nice. I like the monsters, really excellent.

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  3. All of your monsters have been awesome! I'd like to play in Abraxas sometime.

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  4. Dude, no offense to James Raggi, but THIS is Weird Fantasy!

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    1. I think j.e.r. the iv and i just have different takes on weird; i am at a loss to articulate the difference though

      other than, i guess, that mine is more fantastical in a saturated way

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  5. Thanks for the votes of confidence, guys!

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  6. Awesome. I love the man-eating mechanic, weaknesses and grievances. What a great way to set up a monster to be a real character and force in the game rather than just something to kill! And I totally agree that air elemental types ought to attack by crawling into your lungs.

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  7. I heard about this blog from SomethingAwful. I really enjoy what you've done so far and I'm looking forward to future posts!

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    1. Hey Ryan, glad you like it!

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  8. Great set of abominations with their own motivations, intents, and frailties! I love the dynamism you've injected into these strange beings, which could've easily come out as another set of mundane, oversized catalogue beasts. You hooked me with this ;)

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    1. Hey, glad you like it. Really digging the stuff you've been doing for Rogues & Reavers/KRUL

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