Archive for the ‘Monsters’ Category

Monster: Necroflux

January 6, 2013

The Necroflux is an electric ghost, probably something to do with weird Frankenstien experiments, storms during powerful planetary alignments, or an execution. This creature always inhabits a piece of metal. When it jumps from metal to metal it trails lightning between. Creatures killed by it are re-animated as electro-zombies.

A Necroflux notices when living creatures come near and waits for a good opportunity to attack. It will try to arc to someone in metal armor, since it’s difficult to take the armor off. Anyone between the start and end of the arc gets hit by a 3d6 Lightning Bolt (including anyone wearing or holding either piece). The arc can be up to 40′, or 80′ if both pieces of metal are connected by water. A given Necroflux can’t arc to the same piece of metal ever again. Consider a suit of armor as one piece of metal (chainmail for example) but if your rules count a helmet as a separate piece then it’s fair game. Shields are typically wood and leather unless your game specifies.

A Necroflux can shock the wearer / bearer of the metal it inhabits instead of arcing, for just 1d6 damage (no save).

Very small metal pieces can’t hold it. Ignore things like coins, belt buckles, sewing needles, and arrowheads. Include things like daggers, metal flutes, and grappling hooks. If it’s 1 pound or over in one piece, it’s possible.

The metal is unharmed by the arc.

Anyone slain by the electric attack will rise in 1 turn as an electro-zombie under the general command of the Necroflux. It shambles with a jolting gait, is immune to electricity, but if immersed in water it shorts out and dies. Can be turned. Stats are otherwise as “Zombie”. Electro-zombies tend to gather up metal objects and carry them around, providing the Necroflux some mobility, though it’s not intentional and won’t happen in combat.

If a Necroflux jumps into an intelligent sword (or similar) there is a lightning-fast battle of wills. Roll 3d6, and if the result is under the sword’s Ego the Necroflux is ejected automatically and hangs in the air as a man-shaped electric cloud for 1d6 rounds. This is the same thing that happens when you turn it (although a “destroy” result still means it’s destroyed). An ejected Necroflux can’t move or act, and in this state it’s most vulnerable (HD 3, AC 6).

If you hit an ejected Necroflux with a metal item, it arcs into the item without harm, although it remains stunned for the rest of its ejected duration. If you destroy a metal item holding a Necroflux using a metal tool the Necroflux arcs into the tool without harm. If you destroy the metal item using a non-metal tool the Necroflux has nowhere to go and it’s ejected as above.

If an ejected Necroflux ends its stun duration and there’s no metal within range it can arc to, it dissipates (dies).

Necrofluxes are found in a place with plenty of metal to arc to, such as an old battlefield or dungeon, or else in the bottom of a deep hole trapped in a hand axe or something.

Monster: Spelljacker

January 4, 2013

Spelljackers grab onto a Magic-User’s spell and take its power to rampage around causing trouble.

The Spelljacker is a creature with two parts: the main bulk of its body drifts along suspended in the weightless Astral Sea with a tenuous connection to the Prime Material Plane. On the Prime Material it looks like a wisp of smoke unless it’s riding a spell. If you can Astrally-project you can see the Silver Cord connecting the two and if you sever the Cord the Spelljacker loses its Prime Material part until it regrows in a year and a day.

The Spelljacker wisps around until it finds itself near Magic-Users. It bides its time, watching the kind of spells that come out. It doesn’t understand human thought or language, and it can’t predict what kind of spell will be cast. After the watching period of 1d4 days, every spell cast by an M-U near the Spelljacker has a 1 in 10 chance to be grabbed.

If the Spelljacker grabs hold of a spell, the spell will fail to materialize. The Spelljacker has hitched a ride across the magical conduit into the M-Us brain and now resides there. The specific spell the M-U was going to cast is still there memorized and the M-U doesn’t feel any different. But the next time the M-U casts that spell the Spelljacker will ride the spell out and take the spell’s shape and powers. The spell doesn’t go off the way the M-U intended.

A Spelljacker riding a spell looks like the spell’s area of effect, even for normally invisible spells. The jacked spell also has a continuous duration instead of whatever the spell normally does. Here are some examples:

Detect Invisibility: The Spelljacker looks like a cone of shimmering light in which anything invisible becomes visible temporarily.

Lightning Bolt: Spelljacker looks like the full length of the LB, and anything it crosses must save or take the damage as if it were struck by a LB (I’d say no more than once per round per target regardless of how many times the Spelljacker passes over you during its movement).

Magic Missile: Spelljacker looks like the individual missiles (however many there would be according to the caster’s level) which can strike as Magic Missiles once each per round, but without dissipating like MM normally do on impact.

Raise Dead: Spelljacker looks like a vaguely humanoid white aura which, if it passes into a recent-enough corpse, will raise it from the dead as the spell, once per round.

Transmute Rock to Mud: Spelljacker is a sparkling mass that, when it intersects with stone, softens it as long as it’s present and re-hardens when it leaves.

As you can see, the Spelljacker’s ability is actually much more powerful than the spell it’s riding because it gets the effect constantly, every round, at full movement.

The Spelljacker is immune to weapons except +2 or greater in any form, and as it lacks a typical physiology it’s immune to disease, poison, petrification, etc. It counts as a “monster” for purposes of charms, holds, etc. It’s also extraplanar, so banishing spells can be helpful in either form. Spelljackers are incorporeal so you can’t grapple it or trap it in a cage.

If the Spelljacker is riding a spell, the spell can be cancelled through:
Counterspelling (a Fireball can be cancelled by an M-U casting Fireball as a counterspell),
Anti-spelling (a Fireball could be cancelled by a water or ice-based spell or other flame extinguishing magic or possibly air-controlling magic of 4th level or higher since Fireball is a 3rd level spell), or
Dispelling (the Spelljacker’s hijacked spell is dispelled at 3 higher than the one who cast it).

Any cancellation results in the Spelljacker shedding its spell. It leaves on a 1 in 6 chance per level of the spell used to cancel it (thus, always if you use a 6th level spell), otherwise it hangs around in the periphery to try to grab onto another spell (1 in 10 chance per spell as usual).

Noticing a latent Spelljacker skulking around is very difficult, equal to noticing a 6th level Invisibility effect. True Seeing or similar 6th or higher detection spells can locate it. If pressed in combat when it isn’t riding a spell it generally flees to harass some other unlucky M-U.

Noticing a Spelljacker inside an M-U’s brain requires x-ray vision or life detection, and it shows up as a spectral worm coiling around in there. It can be exorcised through banishment magic, or dispelling (causing it to flee using the chances given above rather than actually rolling to dispel the creature), or the death of the M-U.

Using whatever rule set you use, a Spelljacker’s stats should be mostly useless since it attacks mainly through its spell. For 1e/2e I’d give it 7 HD, AC 0, MV 12″. On the Astral the Spelljacker is a brainy hulk with inscrutable desires (if desire is a thing it experiences at all) and if attacked there will defend itself with any spells it has hijacked in the past cast at 14th level – roll up 2d20 random ones of spell level 1-6. The Astral body has 14 HD, AC 10, MV 6″ (bigger, squishier, and slower, that is).

The Prime Material wisp carries no treasure, but the Astral form generally contains weird minerals, syrupy biles, and symbiotic organs. Make up a crazy table and let your players dig themselves in.

Execution Undead

November 21, 2012

Howzabout making up some undead based on how they died: in this case, executions. I like the idea of undead created through extreme conditions rather than just “a wizard did it” or “anybody can be a ghost”. The realm of a cruel king will be heavier in wandering Undead than a kind one because he does a lot more executions.

“Headless” / “Hungry Head”
Headless mope and paw their way through thickets and marshes where vision is normally restricted. You might be paralyzed with fear. If it grabs you it slowly tears your head off and puts it on, able to see and speak for 2d6 days.

Hungry Heads roll and gambol about, gibbering and leering. You can outrun it on foot but there’s a small chance you trip and fall, letting it catch up. It attacks by biting and swallowing chunks of flesh, growing a miniature grotesque body under it which gives it MV 1″ per successful bite. At 12″ the body is full-formed and the Hungry Head scampers off to enjoy its body until it withers away in 2d6 days.

Haunting lanes and squares where hangings occur, a Brokeneck tries to look like a normal person by resting his head against the wall or doorframe, but occasionally it slips and he must prop it back up with his hands. If he has to move he holds his cowl as if to ward off rain but really to hold up his lolling head. If he can sneak up on a lawman, judge, or similar official he will try to snap the victim’s neck. If you seize the noose around his neck you can command him – for as long as you grasp it!

“Whimpering Haunt”
This ghost shudders and whimpers in the dark, especially prison cells and beggar’s alleys. Annoying and scary, he can be appeased by giving him food. But if you begin feeding him, if you ever stop he will attack by inflicting a gnawing hunger that can’t be appeased. You live with it and go mad or die of gluttonous rupture.

“Dripping Soul”
Looks like a wet, pale person with no shoes. It leaves wet footprints and passes through leaving doors unlocked and windows open. It haunts a neighborhood for 2d6 days before moving on. Any people who try to drown a living thing (like a person or cat but not a little bug) are attacked, the Dripping Soul reversing the situation – so the drowning victim escapes and the drowner is pressed beneath the water.

“Charred Man”
Regardless of the gender, these Undead are called Charred Men because you can’t tell the difference. Their flesh is burned away to the bone, leaving only dried sinew and strips of muscle (like a skeleton you can’t see through). Charred Men can turn into a cloud of ashes and blow up or down chimneys, but can’t enter lit ones and can’t travel through clean ones at all. If he gets in he drinks your wine and beer, leaving sooty handprints everywhere. If challenged he attacks by blinding with a spray of soot or breathing a cone of hot cinders.

“Bloated One”
This wretch has red, stripped, bloated flesh and wallows moaning in pools and rivers trying to cool off. Local folk must drive it away else it will heat up a stream or evaporate a pond, but risk gouts of steam from its belly.

Carrion Birds
“Crow Caller”
Looks like someone pecked and pierced all over, always bleeding. Appears to attack lone people along a road or meadow with clear sky above, when a flock of circling crows comes together and becomes a human-shape. If slain he reverts to crows and they flee, but can reform 1d6 days later. Must be exorcised in human-form or else you must capture all the local crows at once!

“Vengeful Rattler”
Looks like a skinny, broken-limbed scamp with black-rimmed eye sockets but no eyes. Sounds like pebbles and stones rattling down a deep well when it haunts an area. Throws stones at lone walkers in the area and breaks windows. If a stone-throwing fight happens it joins in, pelting anyone involved each round until the fight ends. It especially targets anyone who has in the past participated in a stoning.

“Heavy Heart”
This brooding spirit makes a room seem dimmer, closer, stifling. The ceiling seems to hang lower and the air dense and stale. Heavy Hearts press on people when they sleep, sometimes waking them but other times just giving disturbing dreams. Occasionally a Heavy Heart will suffocate a victim, especially if it’s been riled up by failed exorcisms, and may strike a wakeful person who kneeled or slipped.

“White Sleeper”
Looks like a still, sleeping, languid person in white clothes, thin blue veins on white skin. It’s very passive but creepy, and often appears in the bathtub or sitting at the dining table. If shaken awake it softly begs for some blood, and if fed some it will regain some vitality and wander off. It settles again somewhere else 1d6 days later.

“Gibbering Wailer”
It appears exactly as it did when it was disemboweled, roped or chained at the limbs but these are not attached to anything, grasping with both hands the slippery guts hanging from its abdomen. It staggers around bleeding everywhere and causes revulsion. You might flee and/or slip in the pools of blood. After it leaves the blood soaks into the ground or floor without a trace.

Later I might come up with more related to Electrocution, Impalement, Poisoning, Drawing and Quartering, Flaying, Breaking Wheel, Rack, Sawing, and Burrowing Insects.

Man people can be shitty to each other.

Monster: Lanternmen

February 7, 2012

The Lanternman is a demon that looks like an elderly naked man, with grey wizened skin turned transparent and scraggly white hair. Its powerful hands have claws permanently bloodstained. Its eyes and mouth are humanlike but empty and black inside, and a huge gnarled nose. Lanternmen generally look scrawny but sometimes have a big potbelly, depending on how much human fat they have stolen. Every Lanternman also carries a black wrought-iron lantern, perpetually lit. Hideous black fumes from the lantern herald their arrival, but Surprise is still possible if the Lanternmen attack from ambush (2 in 6 in that case instead of the normal 4 in 6 for invisible attack).

A Lanternman scavenges human fat from battlefields and cemeteries. It cut the fat away with its claws and eats it, which takes some time. The fat is just stored in its body, though, as it vomits the fat carefully into its lantern for fuel. It carries excess fat in its body, typically going straight to its belly and thighs. The Lanternman digests the fat just enough that it can’t be used for Raise Dead, Speak With Dead, etc.

Some vain humans summon Lanternmen to take their fat away, which much to the summoner’s displeasure is torturous and leaves scars.

A typical peasant has about 40 pounds of fat. Sedentary city folk can have double or triple. Much of that fat is time-consuming for a Lanternman to gobble up, so consider only 10% of it immediately useful. It takes 3 rounds for the Lanternman to take the easy fat from a corpse. Desperate Lanternmen will go through the effort to take the rest, but the time taken per extra 10% doubles each time. The capacity of a Lanternman’s potbelly is 60 pounds. Any group of Lanternmen encountered should have 1d6x10 lb bellies in normal times, half that in lean times, and a full belly if in times of plenty.

In combat, a Lanternman can perform any standard Light and Darkness spells up to spell level 3rd, once per round. Each such use drains 1/10th pound of fat from the reservoir of the lantern. The lantern holds 3 pounds at maximum, and it takes the Lanternman three rounds to vomit 3 pounds of fat from its body (if it has some) into the lantern. Anyone witnessing the spectacle must make a CON check (d20 under CON succeeds) or lose one round of actions (but not movement) trying not to retch.

The lantern can also summon 1d3 Ghouls or Shadows, at the cost of 3/10ths fat per ally, but Lanternmen are loathe to summon as the Ghouls eat too much of the spoils directly and the Strength-draining of the Shadows leaves the victim’s fat shrunken and dry (time to harvest is 1 turn for the first 10% and half is gone entirely).

Besides its Light and Darkness abilities, Lanternmen’s sharp claws are accurate and quick. They get two slashes per round and if struck the victim must save vs. poison or be wracked with pain (-1 DEX) for 1d6 hours after the fight (roll just once at the end of the fight for anyone affected, regardless of the total penalty).

If a Lanternman dies, it convulsively vomits all its fat immediately and drops the lantern in a puddle, igniting it in a burning shower of fat which causes 1d6 fire damage per 20 lb or fraction thereof to all within 5′ of the lanternman. Anyone holding action or who have not yet acted that round at DM’s option can roll to grab the lantern before it lands (d20 under DEX).

In 1st Edition D&D terms, Lanternmen are as follows: HD 6, AC 4, MV 12″ (15″ on an empty belly), DMG 1d4+4 (2/1) claws at +4 to hit, ATTACKS Darkness and Light spells, Summon Ghouls or Shadows, Pain claws, DEFENSES Death vomit, immune to fire / disease / poison, vulnerable to cold iron (otherwise +1 weapon required to hit), XPV 750 + 6/HP.

Lanternmen don’t loot their victim’s belongings, but sometimes are struck by memories of their human lives upon spotting some article that looks familiar. Lanternmen will hang on to these things out of sight, embarassed and afraid of retaliation by greater demons and their peers, so careful search is required (in the nose, amid hair, folds of skin, attached to the underside of the lantern). Each Lanternman has 1d4-2 valuable pieces, worth 1d10x10 GP (reroll 10s as one decimal place higher, so if you roll 10 then 5 the roll is 5×100 GP). If encountered in town there might be relatives of the old owners still around!

The lantern is still usable, though harvest and burning of human fat is looked down upon in polite society. The smell is atrocious and clings even when not in use. The Shadows and Ghouls will turn on a human summoner unless he’s an experienced necromancer able to summon/create them otherwise. A lantern is worth 250 GP to a collector of the grotesque or someone who will use it, but buyers rarely want more than one and sellers of these things gain a certain reputation.