Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - The Multicerebral Ogre

Apparently, the watch-lions are too busy ogling the bathing beauties to help our hero out with his little conundrum.  "Oh, don't worry about me, I'll just be over here, slaying the ogre in the dark...."

Multicerebral Ogre
Armour class: As Chain
Hit dice: 1 HD per head (2d4)
Move: walk/run, medium
Attacks: claw x2 (1d8 ea), or by weapon, plus head effects
No. Appearing: 1-2
Morale: 10
Treasure: 50-100 GP/head, 5% chance 10-100 GP gems/head
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Individual head effects

A multi-headed ogre-kin, perhaps some odd crossbreed between an ogre mage and an ettin, with a healthy dash of infernal influences mixed in... Each ogre will have a random number of heads (2d4), with each head having a particular characteristic or ability (see below).  The variable heads and abilities make them a formidable and unpredictable foe, with each ogre encountered having a nearly unique collection of abilities.

As a being of multiple heads, the ogre is only surprised on a 1 in 6 chance, even when slumbering, as one head always tends to be awake. Fortunately, the heads can be fractious, arguing and occasionally delaying the creature from taking an action or making an attack (-1 initiative).  Negotiating is nearly impossible, unless you can somehow get the heads to agree on a vote. Even then, one head will probably accuse the others of cheating.

Head effects* (d20 per head, reroll duplicate #s):
1-8: None, just yells a lot
9: Bite (1d6 damage)
10: Bite, venomous (1d4 damage, +4 save or die)
11: Tongue-lash (1d3 damage, successful hit may entangle or disarm opponent)
12: Cast Darkness (15' radius)
13: Cast Spook
14: Cast Protection from Good
15: Cast Hypnotism
16: Glare (save or be petrified, 1d4 rounds)
17: Spit acid (1d6 damage, 15' range)
18: Breathe smoke (obscures 10'x20' area)
19: Hock a loogie (gross wad of mucous, half speed for 1d4 rounds)
20: Halitosis (Effect as troglodyte)

* Physical attacks (9-11) at-will; Spell effects (12-16) 1/day; breath attacks (17-20) 3/day

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Multicerebral Ogre') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Monday, July 30, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - The Yellow Dwarf

Last(?) contribution to the project.  I think....  A feline-riding fiend that will raid your mage's kit....
"The Yellow Dwarf […] set spurs to his cat, which yelled horribly."
Yellow Dwarf
Armour class: As plate
Hit dice: 3
Move: walk/run, medium to fast
Attacks: "sword," as dagger (1d4)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 8
Treasure: 70-100 gp, gems worth 20-200 gp, 50% chance of magical components or minor item
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Silver or magic weapons to hit, Spells

Not specifically a 'dwarf' by the common understanding, this yellow-skinned fey is more closely related to more malevolent kin as pixies and redcaps.  Wearing a metallic cap and fey-crafted armor, they are immune to mundane weapons, requiring magical or silver weapons to do them harm.

The minuscule miscreants are drawn to arcane magic, and will raid unsecured magical workshops or wizards' studies, stealing rare magical components and small magical items (up to wand-sized).  If caught, they will disappear into a smoky cloud or via some other illusionist subterfuge.

The dwarf may cast three spell per day from the following list: Invisibility, Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force, Protection from Good, Pyrotechnics, and a weak version of Prismatic Spray (30' range;1d6 damage effects, no save; paralysis and blindness last 1d6 rounds if failed save).

The dwarf will press a black cat into service as a mount, luring the cat out of hiding with promises of stinky, oily fish, then capturing it with a cat-sized magic bridle and bit. The cat will typically be ridden to exhaustion on whatever mischievous mission that the dwarf has undertaken. The dusty and disheveled cat may eventually return home, smelling of smoke and dust. The poor creatures are often driven from their homes, under the belief that they have been tainted by the fey.

"The princess sees the yellow dwarf for the first time."
Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Yellow Dwarf') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - Nyamatsanes

What's up with these little fellows, stumbling along arm in arm as a band of revelers closing down a bar?

Armour class: As Leather & Shield
Hit dice: 1 per individual, cumulative
Move: walk/run, medium to fast
Attacks: claw (1d6) or bite (1d4)
No. Appearing: 2d4
Morale: 6
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Damage resistance, cumulative hit die

Little black-skinned demon-goblins swarm out of desert, raiding oasis settlements on moonless nights.  Their anarchic goal is not loot or blood, but dairy...  For the little creatures become intoxicated on milk, accosting dairy animals, raiding milk-barns or looting larders for butter and cheese.  Settlements may withstand their nocturnal predations, only to see the raiding groups return to the deep desert as dawn breaks, stumbling drunkenly and sated until the next moonless night.

Due to their infernal heritage, Nyamatsanes take half damage from normal weapons; however, holy water burns them equivalent to fire. Unfortunately, harming or killing these pilferers is exceptionally difficult. By some mechanism of their conception, the little buggers' vitality is linked, as a hive-being.  Rather than harming an individual, damage is distributed through the bodies of the raiding group...  When half of the group's cumulative hit points are expended, they will flee as a noisome mass, supporting one another and limping into the night.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Nyamatsanes') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - The Columba-Siren

Can't stop ...  Ford's works are evocative and ripe for the picking.  This time, a small bird-creature confronting a skeptical sailor...

The Columba-Siren

Armour class: As Chain
Hit dice: 1/2
Move: fly, fast
Attacks: claw or wing-buffet (1d2)
No. Appearing: 2d4
Morale: 10
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral
Special: Charm

Appearing as a small flock of doves, Columba-Sirens may raise alarm among boatmen in the fjords and rocky archipelagos where they tend to congregate (In fact, a group of these creatures is referred to as a congregation...).

The doves flock to boats as the fishermen cut bait and chum the waters for their day's catch.  Unwise fishermen will attempt to chase the creatures from their bulwarks.  Those who repel or molest the creatures may incur their wrath, as the sirens transform, revealing human heads on their bird bodies.  The creatures will sing, effecting a charm on malicious boatmen, much like their mythical sisters.  However, due to the diminutive size, their powers are likewise diminished.  Saves vs a single columba-siren are made at +4, with a penalty of -1 per 2 additional sirens (i.e. 5 birds would save at +2).  The sirens will attempt to charm the boatmen into shoals or onto rocks, where their boats will be grounded or sunk, and they may become prey to other malicious creatures of the shallows...

However, if mariners shows kindness to the bird-creatures, such as sharing the catch, the sirens will guide them through hazardous passages, or may even act as spotters for productive schools of fish.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Columba-Siren') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Guimond's Tower and the Lair of the Druid Lich - Another Dyson Desecration

Another of Dyson's creations filled and fleshed out.  I'll often disregard Dyson's brief descriptive narrative that he includes with his maps, but this one called for a direct translation and populating.  I mean, liches are bad enough, but add a wildshaped druid to the mix? 

And what hangs out in his proximity to harry and wear down the party as they search out the lich's lair for whatever end-game that they pursue?

Built out using Sword's & Wizardry, but easily bent to your favorite rule-set...

This is the first time I've crafted up a high level/final boss-style big-bad, so I'd be happy to get feedback/suggestions on rounding him out. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Fire Naga

One more for the Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual project (taking contributions through 7/31).

Fire Naga

Armor class: As chain
Hit dice: 7
Move: crawl, medium
Attack: Breath weapon 1d8+3 (25’ range, 3x/day) or constrict 2d6/round
Appearing No.: 1
Moral: 10
Treasure : 1000 gp, random wand or magic item (in lair)
Alignment: Chaos
Special: Spells, fire teleportation

Phasing in from the Plane of Fire, the Fire Naga may take an unfortunate unawares as she emerges from a hearth or forge, which she uses as her gateway between the Planes, or perhaps where she has simply been taking a respite.  Fire Nagas are often summoned as spies or servants by elementalists.  However, as a mercurial denizen of fire, they may also be dangerous and unpredictable, with a 10% chance/day to either turn on their summoner, or to choose to follow their own agenda. In combat, she may spit a gout of flame as an attack or defense, or constrict a foe. She will also have access to the following spells: Charm person, heat metal, pyrotechnics (each up to 2/day), and fireball (1/day). If pressed and in need of retreat, a Fire Naga may escape by teleporting through fire, either back to the elemental plane, or to another mundane fire within one mile of her current location.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Fire Naga') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Black Pig

Another minor contribution to Eric Nieudan's collaborative project.

Who doesn't like a pig in an apron?

Black Pig

Armor class: As leather and shield
Hit dice: 2
Move: walk, run as human
Attack: Bite 1d6+1
Appearing No. : 1
Moral: 6
Treasure : none
Alignment: Neutral

Black Pigs are creatures enchanted by certain wood-witches to care for their hovels and cook for them.  Many adventurers, upon stumbling into a wood-witch residence, are confounded to discover a pig in an apron, scurrying about, cooking and cleaning…  The pigs are intelligent, but unable to communicate.  However, they are obliged to be good hosts, efficiently providing refreshment and/or preparing a meal.

Many visitors are taken aback by this sorcery, but woe be to any who may kill a treasured Black Pig…  All in the party will likely be cursed, and whoever dealt the killing blow will discover themselves in a porcine body, wearing an apron…

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Black Pig') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Friday, July 20, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Serpent-King

Another one....

Sundosiaya, the Serpent-King:

Armour class: as plate
Hit dice: 12
Move: normal, crawl
Attacks: bite (2d8+poison)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 10
Treasure: 4000 gp, 1d4+1 random potions, 1d2 wands
Alignment: Neutral
Special: 4 spells/day, 1st to 3rd level Cleric

King Sundosiaya reclines coiled in his chambers, huge and ageless.  The massive serpent is experienced, wise, and quite lonely.  A failed bargain with a demon prince long ago trapped the once-impetuous prince in this reptilian body.  He sighs, flicks a discarded crown with his tail, and contemplates old magics and philosophies.

This age does come with some benefits.  His council is greatly sought after, and human leaders jockey for his favor and advice, believing Sundosiaya to have divine (or demonic) wisdom and powers to grant good fortune.

And as a tribute, the human King Eldias has provided Maeve, his own second daughter, as companion and consort to the Serpent-King.  She stood, quaking at the door of his chambers as the king’s guards beat a hasty retreat.  Tales of this wise and terrible beast who causes royalty to prostrate itself before him give them reason to not tarry.  After all, he is said to be a demon prince, and Maeve’s likely fate is to be consumed by his base, reptilian instinct…

Expensive tapestries and other trappings drape around his sturdy bed.  Chests of treasure peek out from corners and nooks, past bribes and tributes to the reptile.  Sundosiaya languidly raises his head.  “Come here, child. It has been centuries since a young lady such as yourself has graced my chambers.”  He lets out a hissing chuckle.  “I was, after all, quite the gadabout in my youth….”  His ancient, ophidian eyes go distant, and Maeve sees hint of a surprising sad warmth in them.

Trust is earned slowly, and in fit and starts, as in all these tales.  Each day Maeve comes and sits with the King.  Initially her chair is in the farthest corner of his chambers, and she perches on it, as a squirrel ready to dart from a hound.  He talks, telling tales of his age, of visitors, both wise and foolish.  He does not care if she listens.  Eventually, the chair gets moved closer, and she asks questions.  Clarifications of stories.  Explanations of old mysteries.  Opinions on holy tracts.

And she finally asks about his form.  Sundosiaya sighs, pauses, and tells her how he, as a foolish, haughty young prince, believed that he could outwit one of the demons in exchange for wisdom and power.  But the demon was vastly older, and had heard similar requests before.  And he twisted the prince’s request to be ‘clever as a snake’ into something much more terrible….

Now she sees the prince’s eyes under the heavy scaled brows for the first time.  She sits on the edge of his bed, takes his massive, fanged head in her arms, and tenderly strokes the cool scales.

“So,” Sundosiaya whispers, “old King Eldias as pawned his second daughter off on me.”  It is Maeve’s turn to sigh. “Yes, I know the ways of the world – the firstborn gets the land, the dowry, the advantageous marriage.  And you, the second, find yourself with some rude dowry or a commission to the convent…  Or left to be eaten by the dragon…”  They both laugh now.

“So, because he was a fool to doubt your value, but because he did give me the gift of a worthy companion, let me teach you a few things…”

And thus, when Eldias passed on, Maeve the Forgotten, consort to the Serpent-King, returned to the capital, deftly deposed her elder sibling, and ruled, wise and fair.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Serpent-King') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

edited for format

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - 'Old Eric'

This popped up on my feed: +EricNieudan has suggested a Monster Manual based on the illustrations of Henry Justice Ford. Looks like a number of bloggers have posted up.

It's a slow Friday at work, so here's an eponymous hazard in local waters for Eric's project.

Old Eric:

Armour class: as chain & shield
Hit dice: 4
Move: normal, swim, walk
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8 ea)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 6
Treasure: none
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Call Wave (1/day)

A horned fish-man, referred to as ‘Old Eric’, or the Devil of the Tidelands, lurks among the rocky inlets, waiting to prey on unwary fishermen. His dull grey-blue scales blend into the shallows as he lurks about, stalking and peering at the world through luminous, opaline eyes. Vestigial, spiny wings sprout from his shoulders, perhaps remnant of some demonic ancestry.

While ‘Eric’ consumes fish, his favored prey is man, and a solo fisherman in a small boat is a tempting morsel. Once a day, he may call up a single large wave, capable of swamping a rowboat or similar low craft. A favorite technique is to swamp a boat, then grapple the fisherman to his doom as they are distracted and bailing the water.

While multiple bounties have been placed on Old Eric, he has, to date, evaded capture or harm from the awkward air-breathers who trespass the waters of his lurk.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project
This monster ('Old Eric') is released under this license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

edited for format

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Who/what has followed the party?

As the party travels, they may pick up a hanger-on or two - perhaps they have gained some notoriety, or some opportunistic individual(s) hope to join for fortune or easy pickings, or just something following you for reasons of its own...  Some may be almost helpful.  Regardless, they're at least one more mouth to feed...
Hans Sebald Beham, Baggage train and camp followers. 1530
It started at d20, then d30 - we'll see where it ends up...
  1. Farm boy/girl with adventuresome aspirations.  50% chance to be carrying a random weapon in disrepair, 20% chance to be wearing poorly fitted and mis-matched armor.
  2. Dog(s) 1d4.  25% of some useful training (herding, guard, hunting), 2% chance blink dog, 5% chance Really Good Dog, otherwise just begging cur.
  3. Cat.  Of no use whatsoever.  Gloms onto the party member most likely to dislike cats and/or be allergic.
  4. Half-wit:  Strong, at least.  Can lift/carry heavy things.  Doesn't complain.  Obsessively happy.  No matter what you tell them your name is, they call you Seymour.
  5. A goblin.  Cloyingly sycophantic. 25% chance to have useful info on next subterranean dungeon entered.  33% chance that they'll betray you.
  6. Tinker: May repair tools, footwear, tack/harness.
  7. Asshole pixie/fairy.  Mostly just insults you and causes additional wandering monster checks. Tries to steal your shit.
  8. Ascetic/pilgrim convinced that you are chosen ones seeking a greater good/calling.  20% chance of healing knowledge (40% divine:60% herbal/practical).
  9. A scavenging critter. 1) Vulture; 2) raccoon; 3) coyote/jackal; 4) gelatinous cube.
  10. Some damn sneak-thief masquerading as a porter.
  11. A baby monster that has imprinted on you: 1) ankheg; 2) bulette; 3) wyvern; 4) giant spider; 5) axe beak; 6) giant lizard; 7) ogre; 8) owlbear; 9) mimic; 10) rust monster.
  12. A ghost or spirit: 20% chance that it will attempt to possess a member of the party.
  13. Weird witch.  Constantly prophesying.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  14. 1d4 crows or 1d2 ravens.  50% chance to mimic sounds/voices.
  15. A bored or hidden royal looking to hit the road on the down-low.
  16. A flock of songbirds.  Feels like a Disney cartoon.
  17. A prostitute looking for a john/jane.  Roll on Gary's 'Random Harlot' table.
  18. Invisible stalker.  Not looking to kill anyone or complete a task. Just stalking.
  19. A narrator.  Breaks 4th wall.
  20. A goddamned bard.  Constantly makes up limericks about the party.  
  21. A monkey wearing a fez and a vest. Throws poo.
  22. Industrial Revolution-vintage chimney sweep/bootblack/newsy.  Calls you 'guvner.'
  23. Someone else's summoned demon.  Looks around confused, shrugs, says "What the hell," and joins you.
  24. Odin.
  25. An automaton/robot.  60% magical/40% technological.  Follows simple commands.  May have mission of its own or observing.  
  26. Cook with collection of pots and pans.  Makes quite a racket.  10% awful; 20% substandard fare, palatable; 40% chance that they are actually competent; 20% above average; 10% chance that they are phenomenal.
  27. Dyslexic surveyor/mapper. 30% chance to mix up north.
  28. A Warbear.
  29. Naturalist and collector of specimens.  Has a bindle of notebooks and jars with preserved plants and animals.  Bores party members describing the differences between the greater and lesser lace-winged stirge.
  30. Backup singers/dancers. Fabulous. Wearing feather an/or real boas....

Rowlandson, Thomas, "Soldiers on a march.:
'To pack up her tatters and follow the drum' " (1811)
And because everyone is doing it - here's the Chartopia version...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mucous dragon

This is Ella (the other cat in the house who isn't Max).  Yes, she looks all sweet and innocent.  Yes, she's being cute here.  Yes, she's baby-seal soft and cuddly (on her terms, she is a cat, after all).

Don't let that fool you.

Because, as far as we can tell, this cat's skull cavity consists of a mucous gland.  We've seen vets, given her different medications, experimented with diet and supplements.  Nope - this is Snotcat. It's chronic as far as we can tell.  I suspect she has a cat allergy.  However, we have found citrus-based cleaners to be most effective at removing cat snot from various surfaces.

Unfortunately, she also has the tendency to sleep on my head.  Which means I occasionally get sneezed on in the middle of the night, necessitating a clean pillowcase.

"Worst breath weapon ever," said the wife.  Yup...

The Mucous Dragon:

Living in the dark, humid subterranean places, the mucous dragon may appear to be a stunted, malformed relative to its more graceful and intimidating brethren. Pudgy, with blunt, webbed toes, it looks like it should be lazing in a pool somewhere. The dragon is sheathed in a opalescent, almost translucent hide, typical for its lightless, subterranean environs.  Bulbous eyes regard interlopers into its lair, and over-sized nostrils dominate its snout.