Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Life-cycle of the Gelatinous Cube... Part 3

So, after some time away from my blog, here's another gelatinous monster. This one is somewhat odd, insomuch that it has power over the Gelatinous Cube and the various other types I've described previously. It's also accompanied by a somewhat scrappy colour scribble, which will hopefully give some idea of its appearance.


ORANGE OCTAHEDRON

FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 16"
HIT DICE: 12
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE:  T (75%), Z (75%)
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 3-18
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralysation
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Exceptional
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil
SIZE: L (10' octahedron)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
          Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

The Orange Octahedron is the stuff of legend. It is not known whether there is more than one of these dreadful creatures and it may be some unknown form of demon or the result of some dark, ancient magic. In the folklore of gnomes and dwarves, the Octahedron is the evil sibling of the fabled 'Mother of All Cubes'. It travels throughout the various Material planes, searching for its preferred treasure.

It has power over cubes and their other gelatinous incarnations, and can summon 1-6 (of any form) at will. It exudes Fear in a 5" radius (saving throw vs. wand applies) and can strike out with up to four 20-foot long pseudopods, each causing 3-18 points of damage. Any creatures touched by these requires a saving throw versus paralyzation or will be anaethetized for 5-50 melee rounds.

It usually floats several feet above any surfce, although is capable of flying at greater heights. The Octahedron can be hit by all forms of weapons, and attacks by fire have normal effects. It is unaffected by cold unless it fails its saving throw, in which case their movement rate is halved. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph and sleep-based attacks have no effect upon it.

Description: this creature resembles a large floating octahedron that radiates a slight orange glow. It is gelatinous, semi-transparent and covered by numerous scratches, gouges and pock marks. There is a dark mass at its centre which is made up of the magical books and scrolls it has collected over many years. It can speak the language of any intelligent creatures and will use trickery if it thinks that it may be able to add more treasure to its collection - although it is also very willing to take such items by force.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Life-cycle of the Gelatinous Cube... Part 2

Carrying on from my initial post about the cube, here are a few later stages in its life-cycle: the gelatinous dodecahedron and icosahedron...


GELATINOUS DODECAHEDRON

FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 6" (9" if rolling)
HIT DICE: 5
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE:  See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-10, 1-3 (see below)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralysation, crushing, surprise on 1-3
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Semi-
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: L (10' dodecahedron)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
     Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Should a gelatinous cube survive into its thirtieth year, it will seek some dark and remote place in order to tranform into a 12-sided dodecahedron. As part of this transformation it will gain some form of very basic sentience, which in turn will make it into a somewhat active hunter. Although it usually moves from place to place on one of it's twelve flat faces, if the circumstances allow (i.e. if it is at the top of a slope or flight of stairs) it can roll and gain some speed when making an attack. The dodecahedron can inflict 1-3 points of crushing damage for every 5 hit points it possesses when attacking in this way. Normal or rolling attacks will also require a saving throw versus paralyzation or the creature touched is anaethetized for 3-30 melee rounds. It will also inflict 1-10 points of damage per melee round when surrounding and digesting its victim.

As is the case with their cubic incarnation, dodecahdrons sweep up metallic and other items as they move around and so can contain treasure types J, K, L, M, Q, as well as potions, daggers and similar items.

Dodecahedrons can be hit by all forms of weapons, and attacks by fire have normal effects. They are unaffected by cold unless they fail their saving throw, in which case their movement rate is halved. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph and sleep-based attacks have no effect upon them.

Description: these creatures are large 12-sided masses with somewhat rounded edges. Although usually hard to see, their movement may be discerned when the creature is rolling as light is reflected by one or more faces.

GELATINOUS ICOSAHEDRON

FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 4
MOVE: 8" (12" if rolling)
HIT DICE: 7
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE:  See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-12, 1-6 (see below)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralysation, crushing, surprise on 1-2
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Low
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: L (12' icosahedron)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
 
Once the gelatinous dodecahedron survives into its tenth year, its shape will transform into an 20-sided icosahedron. This process will also bestow some modicum of intelligence upon the creature, and it will now actively seek out victims - particularly if they posesses treasure. Although it usually moves from place to place on one of its score of flat faces, it can chose to roll when making attacks or other movements and does not require a slope, etc for such purposes. The icosahedron can inflict 1-6 points of crushing damage for every 8 hit points it possesses when attacking in this way. Normal or rolling attacks will also require a saving throw versus paralyzation or the creature touched is anaethetized for 4-40 melee rounds. It will also inflict 2-12 points of damage per melee round when surrounding and digesting its victim.

As is the case with their other gelatinous forms, icosahedrons sweep up metallic and other items as they move around and so can contain treasure types J, K, L, M, Q, as well as potions, daggers and similar items. As they are wont to retain certain forms of treasure, there is a 40% chance that an individual will contain types R and U. This makes them somewhat more visible, although the treasure tends to pool towards the lower half of their bodies.

Icosahedrons can be hit by all forms of weapons, and attacks by fire have normal effects. They are unaffected by cold unless they fail their saving throw, in which case their movement rate is halved. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph and sleep-based attacks have no effect upon them.

Description: these creatures are large 20-sided masses with rounded edges. Although somewhat hard to see, their movement may be discerned when the creature is rolling as light is reflected by one or more faces. Icosahedrons are attracted to gold, jewels and other precious items and will seek to attack any creatures which possess them.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Life-cycle of the Gelatinous Cube

Some creatures from the Monster Manual interest me more than others, and sometimes it's fun to wonder if they have some other form either earlier or later in their life-cycle. This got me thinking about whether this gelatinous monster only has a cube form for part of its life and, if so, would it perhaps have other shapes at some other points in time. As the cube is the same shape as a d6, I thought it'd be interesting to add other dice shapes to the mix and use them as the basis for these other forms.

This life-cycle is divided up into distinct phases: hatchling, cube, dodecahedron and icosahedron. Cubes are the most common type found in dungeons and other underground places and the creature spends most of its life in that form (I won't, of course, provide a description and stats for the cube). I'll also add in two extra creatures related to these gelatinous forms, perhaps to add a little more colour: a mysterious and very rare 'Orange Octahedron', and massive creatures called 'The Mother of All Cubes' - although they may be the stuff of legend...

The cube gains more sides as it goes through its life, and of some stages last longer than others. So:

- if a cube survives 30 years, it becomes a 12-sided dodecahedron. 

- if it subsequently survives 10 years in dodecahedron form, it transforms into a 20-sided icosahedron. 

As it gets older, the life-cycles get shorter – the trade-off being that it also gets more intelligent and becomes a more active predator. Stats and descriptions for the 12- and 20-sided versions will feature in an upcoming post.*

What I've written below could be seen as slightly tongue-in-cheek, or could be played completely straight. Either way, hopefully it might give your players something to figure out and/or fight against. As with my other creature designs, the stats and descriptions are written up in 1E AD&D format, but should be easy to convert to your preferred system. I'll add to this series in further blog posts.

GELATINOUS HATCHLING

  
FREQUENCY: Uncommon
NO. APPEARING: 3-18
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 8"
HIT DICE: 2 hit points
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE:  See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-3
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralysation, surprise on 1-2 (if encountered outside of hatchling cocoon)
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Non-
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: S (1-2' tetrahedron)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
         Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Once every other year, a gelatinous cube will produce young in the form of hatchlings. A small blister will appear on the exterior of the cube and this will become detached as the creature moves from place to place. The resulting coccon will appear to be a large semi-transparent mass attached to a wall or other surface by various stringy tendrils. Closer study of this mass will show the hatchlings moving around inside, and anyone striking or puncturing its somewhat fragile shell will suffer 1-3 points of damage as it bursts and showers them with the liquid it contains. If undisturbed, the blister will rupture naturally after 3 days, and 3-18 fully-fledged hatchlings will break out and begin scouring for food. They remain in this form for 3 months, after which they hide in some dark, out of the way place and transform into their larger cubic form.

Hatchlings are only particularly dangerous if encountered in large groups, or if a number of them encounter sleeping adventurers. Coming into contact with a hatchling will require a saving throw versus paralyzation or the creature touched is anaethetized for 1-8 melee rounds. The hatchling will then attempt to digest some part of their victim, inflicting damage as it does so. Their bodies are not particularly adept at picking up solid objects, so their treasure will usually consist of nothing heavier than a few copper pieces.

Hatchlings can be hit by all forms of weapons, and attacks by fire have normal effects. They are unaffected by cold unless they fail their saving throw, in which case their movement rate is halved. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph and sleep-based attacks have no effect upon them.

Description: hatchlings resemble transparent tetrahedrons, altough with somewhat rounded edges. After leaving the cocoon they are semi-transparent for several hours, and after that time their apparent opacity is patchy and noticable in certain lighting conditions.

* - updated for clarity on 6th October 2014.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Dragons...! (Part Three)

Following on from my previous posts (here and here), this week's dragon is the...

CHITINOUS DRAGONLING


FREQUENCY: Very Rare 
NO. APPEARING: 1 
ARMOR CLASS: 1 
MOVE: 6"/12" 
HIT DICE: 4-6 
% IN LAIR: 50% 
TREASURE TYPE:  D, S, T 
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4, 1-12, 1-12 
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Spit acidic glue, poison sting 
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil 
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard 
INTELLIGENCE: High 
ALIGNMENT: Lawful/Chaotic Neutral 
SIZE: L (8' long) 
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil 
        Attack/Defense Modes: Nil 
CHANCE OF:
Speaking: 50% 
Magic Use: 20% 
Sleeping: 20%

These Dragonlings are the juvenile form of the Greater or Lesser Chitinous Dragon. At birth they are a pearl-like egg 2' in diameter, which is concreted on some part of their parents' lair. Within a few hours, this egg grows into a pupa-like form from which the Dragonling emerges after one day. From that point onwards, it has the capabilities given above. Over the next 200 years, the Dragonling travels from place to place, during which time its alignment and temperment will slowly evolve down one particular path until it changes into its Greater or Lesser form. The route of this path will be steered by what the creature experiences and observes, and by how it is treated by other creatures. Those Dragonlings that can talk will be keen to converse with other creatures, and will seem particularly interested in treasure and magic. Their manner will seem somewhat abrupt and jump from subject to subject, and they speak with a curious wheezing tone.

Although they may appear ungainly, Dragonlings can move quickly and will engage in combat defensively or if provoked. It can opt to fight with either a pair of small, sharp claws and a bite, a poisonous sting in its two-pronged tail, or by spitting an acidic glue. Its tail attacks with +1 to hit, and any creature struck by it must save versus poison or be paralysed for 1-4 rounds. When spitting, its range is 3" and is aimed at a single creature. The victim will be trapped for 2-12 rounds unless the glue is burnt or frozen away, during which time a highly corrosive acid will eat into clothing, armour and flesh. If the dragon can speak and employ magic, they will know 1-3 spells up to 2nd level. Roll randomly to determine which spells they know.

Description: The Chitinous Dragonling resembles a large blubbery mass with a forked tail and three pairs of opaque wings. Its skin is tough and partially covered by layers of jagged chitinous scales. Dragonlings favour a wide variety of colours and markings which they can change at will, depending on their mood and environment.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dragons...! (Part Two)

Following on from last week's post and details, this week's dragon is the...

CHITINOUS DRAGON (Lesser)


FREQUENCY: Very Rare 
NO. APPEARING: 1-2 
ARMOR CLASS: 0 
MOVE: 9"/18" 
HIT DICE: 7-9 
% IN LAIR: 50% 
TREASURE TYPE:  H, R, S, T 
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4 
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4, 1-4, 2-12, 1-12 
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon, poison sting 
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil 
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard 
INTELLIGENCE: High 
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Good 
SIZE: L (14' long) 
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
CHANCE OF:                Speaking: 70%
                Magic Use: 40%
                Sleeping: 20%

These dragons prefer to live in high places or high points in the landscape. Their lair is usually some remote place which is particularly hard to access. They are very interested in the world around them, with some travelling from high point to high point closely observing what they see en-route. Others prefer to hunker down at one particular high point and watch whatever passes by - in fact, some can easily be mistaken for mossy rocks or similar features if they have been observing for a prolonged period of time. They have a faultless memory, and can effortlessly recall minute details about anything that they have seen. Because of this, they are very useful sources of information about their locale but will ask many and varied questions in exchange. Any creature that tries to lie to the dragon will never be able to speak with it again, and the conversation will come to an abrupt halt.

Lesser Chitinous Dragons are usually loathe to engage in combat, but if need be the dragon can opt to fight with either a pair of small, sharp claws and a stabbing beak, a breath weapon, or with a poisonous sting. Its breath weapon is an acidic gas 5" long, 3" wide and 3" high that will blind any creature for 2-12 rounds. A barb in it's short flexible tail attacks with +2 to hit, and any creature struck by it must save versus poison at -2 or be paralysed for 1-8 rounds. If the dragon can speak and employ magic, they will know 1-6 spells up to 5th level. Roll randomly to determine which spells they know.

Description: The Lesser Chitinous Dragon resembles a large beetle or tortoise with a short hooked tail and long pointed head. It flies using a pair of opaque wings which fold backwards and lie flat against its carapace when not in use. Their chitin can be made up of a wide variety of colours, although those that prefer a more sedentary lifestyle chose colours that best blend with their environment. Those that can speak do so with a soft, melodious tone and will be very keen to converse and exchange information with any creature that engages them in conversation. If two are encountered, they will be a mating pair.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Dragons...! (Part One)

Much as I like dragons, I do sometimes wonder whether there might be other choices aside from the 'big scaly lizard with wings' default. With that in mind, I've rustled up a few interrelated designs that I'll add to this blog over the next few weeks, along with an accompanying scribble. As with my 'Edible Monsters' series, these have been written out in a 1E AD&D format, and for fun I've started off with the 'baddie' version.

Chitinous Dragons

These dragons differ slightly from their better-known bretheren by having a tough chitinous hide rather than scales and leathery skin. They exist in three forms, all of which are very rarely encountered: Dragonling, Lesser and Greater. The Lesser and Greater Chitinous Dragons are both forms of the Chitinous Dragonling. The Dragonling lives for around 200 years, during which time it explores and learns about the world and about magic. After this period, depending on what it has experienced and how it has been treated by other creatures, it chooses either the Lawful Good Lesser form, or the Chaotic Evil Greater form. Note that the terms 'Greater' and 'Lesser' only refer to the dragon's size and not its capabilities, and either lives on for 201-400 years.

After death, the carapace of any form of Chitinous Dragon is greatly prized as a source of +1 to +3 armour, when worked by a suitably skilled individual. Similarly, their wings can be included in the construction of +1 to +3 composite bows.

Unusually for dragon-kind, Chitinous Dragons do not make lairs in caves or similar underground dwellings; rather, they prefer somewhat inaccessible places above ground.

Note to Dungeon Masters: Chitinous Dragons do not pass through ages in the same way as other dragons. Aside from that, their other powers and capabilities are as stated in the section dealing with dragons in the Monster Manual.

CHITINOUS DRAGON (Greater)


FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1-2
ARMOR CLASS: 0
MOVE: 12"/36"
HIT DICE: 8-10
% IN LAIR: 50%
TREASURE TYPE:  H, R, S, T
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8, 1-8, 2-20, 2-16
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon, poison sting
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: High
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: L (24' long)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
                Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
CHANCE OF:
                Speaking: 50%
                Magic Use: 30%
                Sleeping: 30%

Greater Chitinous Dragons prefer remote forests and woodland, preferably within reach of a lake or similar body of water. Their lairs are usually atop some large ancient tree, with their treasure kept in numerous (2-20), hard to reach nests in the canopy.

Its breath weapon is an acidic gas 6" long, 4" wide and 5" high that attacks organic matter (such as wood, leather, wool, linen, etc) and thus quickly destroys shields, belts, fittings, rope and other such items. A barb in it's very flexible tail attacks with +3 to hit, and any creature struck by it must save versus poison or be paralysed for 2-12 rounds. If the dragon can speak and employ magic, they will know 1-3 Druid spells of 3rd to 5th level.
When attacking, the dragon can opt to fight with a pair of hook-like claws and a bite, a breath weapon, or with a poisonous sting.

Description: The Greater Chitinous Dragon resembles a giant cranefly (albeit one with a long, whip-like tail), covered in a multitude of thorny barbs, and carried aloft via two pairs of opaque wings. Their chitin can be made up of a wide variety of colours, as some of their kind prefer subtle camouflage whilst others employ garish, pie-bald patterns of several hues. Those that can speak do so with a harsh, buzzing tone. If two are encountered, it will be a mating pair.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Orcs...!

I have to admit that I've always been more impressed with the depictions of Orcs in the Bakshi version of Lord of the Rings than with those in the more recent LotR films. I think this may be to do with the fact that they tallied more with my mental image of them from reading the books. That said, this was also partly tempered by the way they were depicted in miniature form by Citadel, Ral Partha and Grenadier Models. All of this blended together around the same time I started playing D&D in 1982, as it was also the first time I saw the Bakshi film (via rental video) and became aware of the various minis.

Since then in my mind's eye I've tended to see Orcs as more akin to a Gigantopithecus skull, barely covered with flesh. Something along these sorts of lines:

If anything, these probably need to be more gaunt and thinly-fleshed. And have tusks...

That said, recently I've found myself becoming more interested in the 'pig faced' versions as depicted in the 1E Monster Manual. I'm not sure why, particularly as when first seeing them way back when, I thought that they didn't seem... well... 'Orcish' enough. But after recently having a go at drawing Orcs in that particular vein, I can sort of see where David C. Sutherland III and Gary Gygax were heading with their ideas. Their Orcs are skewed more to being like boars, as least as far as looks are concerned from the neck up. The overall shape of their heads do suggest something like a fleshed boar skull.

With that in mind, I have been working on some scribbles that go with the boar theme. For example, here are a few 'pig-like' examples:


And here's one that is a tad more 'streamlined':


I've also had a go at a full-body depiction, taking my cues from the 1E Monster Manual:


This version goes with the studded leather and polearm theme more common to 1E Orcs. And by taking my cue from Sutherland's drawing it also seems to be a mixture of historical nods at, say, Vikings and possibly Babylonians.

I think I'll come back to doing a few more scribbles along these lines, and maybe also the Gigantopithecus versions. In the meantime, Fractured Miniatures do some rather nice pig-faced Orc minis that are worth having a look at. Their Orcs are a tad tubbier than mine and they have interesting boar-like faces.