Saturday, 26 November 2022

Ragwing

This week's creature is the...

RAGWING

FREQUENCY: Uncommon
 

NO. APPEARING: 2-8
 

ARMOR CLASS: 7

MOVE: 6/10"

HIT DICE: 2

% IN LAIR: Nil

TREASURE TYPE: Nil

NO. OF ATTACKS: 1

DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6

SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below

SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil

MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard

INTELLIGENCE: Non-

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: S

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Ragwings are colonies of spore-like organisms that have somehow developed the ability to fly. They can sense the heat generated by living creatures (out to a distance of 120') and derive sustenance from their blood. They also use the body of their victims as a host within which their spores can sprout. They possess a long needle-sharp proboscis and it is through this that they feed and pass spores into their victims.

In combat, if the creature inflicts more than 5 points of damage in a single attack it's target has been implanted with spores, and must save vs poison to prevent those spores taking hold. Should this fail, the wound will itch and appear to fester over the course of one day, after which the victim will become paralysed and will die within three days. If a limb was struck by such an attack, removing that limb within three days will rid the victim of the spores. Cure Serious Wounds will also negate the spores effect on any part of the body. The spores will otherwise consume the victim and after 10 days 2-6 Ragwings possessing 1HD will sprout from the remains. A single example will sprout in the same time from any amputated limb that has not been destroyed.

Alternatively, the Ragwing will remain attached to its victim if it inflicts more than 3 points of damage in a single attack. It will then drain blood at the rate of 1 hit point per melee round unless destroyed. Once it has consumed blood equivalent to 8 hit points, it will detach itself and attempt to escape.

Should the creature lose all of its hit points from a single attack, its body will shatter and scatter spores over a 10' wide area. Anyone within this cloud must save vs poison or become incapacitated for 1-4 melee rounds.

Ragwings inhabit a variety of environments but seem to prefer those with high points from which they can dive on their victims.

Description: These creatures vary in colour depending on their environment: greenish-yellow in woodland and swamps, greyish blue in mountains, brownish-black in caves. When full of blood they take on a distinct reddish hue. Their bodies are a tangled mass of fibres surmounted by a 'head' that is full of spores. The wings are tattered and seem to shed small pieces when the creature moves. They are not particularly graceful in the air as their flight appears uncoordinated and ungainly, and when moving along any surface their wings seem to haphazardly drag the creature around. However, this can make their movement in combat somewhat difficult to predict.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

Tomb Guardians...! (Part Three)

Further to my previous post, here is another tomb guardian...

BARROW HOUND

FREQUENCY: Rare

NO. APPEARING: 1-4
 

ARMOR CLASS: 4

MOVE: 12"

HIT DICE: 4

% IN LAIR: 0%

TREASURE TYPE: Nil

NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 or special

DAMAGE/ATTACK:
2-8, 2-8, 2-12

SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below

SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below

MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard

INTELLIGENCE: Non

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: S

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

On first appearance, Barrow Dogs appear to be earthenware statues depicting a seated animal of a form loosely resembling a dog. They are placed in a wide variety of locations within tombs, e.g. flanking doorways and similar entrances, guarding sarcophagi or remains, and also sometimes placed on pillars, platforms or pedestals. They might also be placed at the exterior of a tomb, perhaps resembling a gargoyle or grotesque in such a setting. A hound will remain dormant until something or someone triggers some preset condition decided upon by the Dungeon Master to suit their particular adventure or situation. So, for example, a guardian might only be activated when a tomb is opened in some way, or if anything passes within a certain distance of the guardian, or if something (i.e. treasure etc) is touched or removed from a tomb.
 
Once activated, a ghostly howl will sound (audible to any creature within 4"), the Hound's eyes will become balls of fire and a strange light will seem to glow dimly within its mouth. It will attack with claws (2-8) or by biting (2-12) and will fight until destroyed. It will relentlessly pursue any fleeing or retreating quarry until that quarry moves a certain preset distance, or passes beyond a certain preset point, or is killed. It may also choose to attack by emitting a fireball-like object from its mouth. This has a range of 6" and inflicts 2-12 points of damage. However, it can only attack in this way every other round.

Barrow Hounds are immune to edged weapons but maces, clubs and similar weapons affect them normally. They are also immune to fire-based attacks, magical or mundane. If they are destroyed in their dormant state (in which they posses only 8 hit points), they will crumble into pieces. However, this will release a small fireball that rises 4 feet into the air and then explodes. Anything within 1" of this explosion will receive 2-12 points of damage.
 
Description: When dormant, Barrow Hounds appear to be quite crudely-made hollow figures constructed from fired clay, and posed as if sitting. Despite their name, they only resemble dogs in a rather distorted way, being misshapen and with odd details such as overly large teeth, wide eyes and gaping mouths. Some might be decorated with paint or gold leaf and all have incised details picked out along their bodies. These glow when the creature is active.

Saturday, 22 October 2022

Tomb Guardians...! (Part Two)

Further to my previous post, here is another tomb guardian...

TREACHEROUS PILLAR

FREQUENCY: Very Rare

NO. APPEARING: 1-4
 

ARMOR CLASS: 3

MOVE: 8"

HIT DICE: 5

% IN LAIR: 0%

TREASURE TYPE: Nil

NO. OF ATTACKS: 6

DAMAGE/ATTACK:
2-12 (per tentacle), 3-18 (bite)

SPECIAL ATTACKS: bite, venomous tentacle

SPECIAL DEFENSES: None

MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard

INTELLIGENCE: Non

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: L (10' tall in pillar form, 6' tall and 4' feet wide in amorphous form)

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Treacherous Pillars are perhaps the most dangerous of creatures tasked with defending tombs. In their dormant form they resemble a pillar of various designs, but this this is merely the shell worn by the bizarre amorphous creature that resides within. Some are decorated with what appears to be gold, fine paintwork, and jewels (although these precious elements are artificial). Others will appear to be much more ordinary or roughly hewn. Any support they appear to provide to any given location is counterfeit, as it has been fashioned in such a way that the area around the pillar bears no load.
 
The pillar will remain dormant until something or someone triggers some preset condition decided upon by the Dungeon Master to suit their particular adventure or situation. So, for example, this guardian might only be activated when a tomb is opened in some way, or if anything passes within a certain distance of the creature, or if something (i.e. treasure etc) is touched or removed from a tomb.
 
When activated, the pillar will break apart into numerous pieces that will cover the surface of a large amorphous mass, and glowing eye-like objects and fanged mouths will appear all over the creature. It will attack by striking with its tentacles, and a successful attack with a roll of 18 or more will mean that a victim is dragged to one of its mouths, which in turn inflicts 3-18 points of damage per round. One tentacle is venomous and those struck by it must make a saving throw versus poison or die immediately.
 
It will pursue intruders until that they are killed, or if they pass beyond some point specified when the guardian was first placed within the tomb. If killed, the decorated parts of the pillar might possess will crumble into dust. Otherwise, once its task is complete it will return to its original position and assume its dormant form.
 
 

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Tomb Guardians...! (Part One)

As Punkie Night - or as some of you call it, Halloween - is fast approaching, I thought I'd share some monsters that have been created specifically to protect the dead (and their treasures) in their tombs. The overarching concept behind these is that they are left inside or close to tombs and remain dormant until something or someone triggers some 'preset' decided upon by the Dungeon Master to suit their particular adventure or situation. So, for example, a guardian might only be activated when a tomb is opened in some way, or if anything passes within a certain distance of the guardian, or if certain items (i.e. treasure etc) is removed from a tomb. They can be created by various means, for example by reading from a magical scroll or sprinkled with the contents of  a potion, or whatever other method the Dungeon Master chooses.

The first of these guardians is the...

SHIELD LORD


FREQUENCY: Rare

NO. APPEARING: 1-4
 

ARMOR CLASS: 4

MOVE: 10"

HIT DICE: 5

% IN LAIR: 0%

TREASURE TYPE: Nil

NO. OF ATTACKS: 3

DAMAGE/ATTACK:
2-12, 2-12 or by weapon (see below)

SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below

SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below

MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard

INTELLIGENCE: Average

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: L

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

When dormant, these guardians will appear to be nothing more than general tomb detritus: piles of mummified bones and rags gathered around a tarnished and somewhat dilapidated bronze shield. Once activated, the shield will rise into the air and glow brightly whilst rags and two arms will rapidly form around it. At the same time, a scythe-like object will appear in its hands and the Shield Lord will fly towards its target.

In combat, the scythe attacks as a +2 weapon and inflicts 2-12 points of damage. The Shield Lord may also choose to attack with its taloned hands which, in addition to the damage they inflict, will also cause paralysation unless a successful saving throw is made. Although it usually drifts some 4 to 6 feet above the ground when moving, it is also capable of flight and may choose to attack from a higher point if space allows. 
 
A Shield Lord will fight until destroyed, at which point it will collapse back into its original form and its scythe will vanish. It will pursue its target until that target is killed, or if the target passes beyond some point specified when the guardian was first created. They are immune to Dispel Magic and cannot not be turned by clerics, but other magical attacks affect them normally.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Benefic Polymorph

BENEFIC POLYMORPH


FREQUENCY: Rare
 

NO. APPEARING: 1
 

ARMOR CLASS: 9

MOVE: 8"

HIT DICE: 5 hit points

% IN LAIR: 0%

TREASURE TYPE: Nil

NO. OF ATTACKS: 0

DAMAGE/ATTACK: Nil

SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below

SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil

MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard

INTELLIGENCE: Average

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: S

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

The Benefic Polymorph is a strange sentient creature whose normal form resembles a lump of blue clay-like material. Its purpose in life and what it feeds upon in order to survive in this form is not known, and it will only contact another sentient being in a very specific set of circumstances. If it senses that another being is missing a major limb, such as a hand, foot, leg or arm it will introduce itself and explain that it can help. It will explain that it can assume the form of that missing part and will function in its stead for the lifetime of its host. It requires nothing in return, save that the host treats with the same reverence as their other limbs. It speaks all known languages, including cants and alignment tongues and has a deferential, softly-spoken manner.
 
Should the prospective host agree to the offer, the polymorph will take the place of the missing limb and quickly assume it's form, but can no longer speak. It will look like an exact copy of it but will still have the appearance of blue clay, and tendrils will mark the join between the polymorph and the host. The host will then have a fully functioning limb that feels completely natural. It will not be any stronger, weaker, more dextrous nor more resilient than a normal limb (as defined by the player-character's statistics), and will feel heat, cold, etc in a normal manner.
 
However, the polymorph requires 1 hit point per year from its host, which cannot be regained via magic or healing. This will not be revealed to the host at any time. If the host's body is near death from unnatural causes (i.e. 1 hit point above zero), the polymorph will absorb the hit point, resume it's normal form and will attempt to scurry away. If the host is in a situation where they are killed instantly or die of old age, the polymorph will also resume its normal shape and flee if it can. If the host is attacked or involved in an accident or similar occurrence, there is a 20% chance that the polymorph is hit instead (unless the Dungeon Master or the situation rules otherwise). If more than 5 hit points of damage is then inflicted upon the polymorph, it dies and inflicts 1 point of damage on its former host. It quickly becomes greyish-green, amorphous and without any apparent bone structure but remains attached to the host. It can then only be removed by a reversed Regenerate spell.
 
The Benefic Polymorph is not choosy about who or what becomes its host being. It can remember all of its former hosts and is thought to live for many hundreds of years, possibly thousands. 
 
Captive examples are worth at least 5000 gold pieces, but if forced to become a body part whilst captive (i.e. threatened with death), it extracts 2 hit points per year from its host and 2 hit points when leaving a host that is near death.

Certain rumours state that two extremely rare, smaller types of polymorph exist. One is gold in colour and can only replace a host's missing eye. It is said to have the ability to see far into the distance and into the other Planes, to detect invisibility and have various other sight-based powers. The other, silver in colour, can only replace the host's tongue and allows them to speak all languages, cants and alignment tongues as well as converse with all animals and monsters.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Spiders...! (Part Two)

SIEGE SPIDER

 
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: Varies
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 5"
HIT DICE: 12 +10
% IN LAIR: 0%
TREASURE TYPE:  Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 6-60, 6-60
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Low
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: L (35' long excluding forelegs, 25' wide)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
                Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

It is not known whether these creatures owe their huge size to some freak of nature, breeding or from magical experimentation. They are usually encountered during battles but may also be met as part of an army or large war party en-route to some battlefield.
 
Siege Spiders are trained from birth to be inured to rigours and terrors of warfare, and they seem to know no fear. Training them is a specialised task and takes at least 5 years, during which time the spider learns to take commands only from the specific individuals who eventually become their controllers. This is always a team of four: the commander (who makes tactical decisions and issues orders), the drummer (who beats the orders as a code onto the carapace of the spider, which the creature then responds to) and two 'drivers' (who each pull on huge chains fixed to the left and right foreleg, reinforcing the orders transmitted by the drummer. These chains can only be pulled by those with a Strength of 18/75-00). Should any member of the team be killed, it can take up to 2 years to train the spider to follow orders from a new individual.
 
During combat, the team resides within with a specially constructed and armoured howdah, effectively a small bunker riveted onto the back of spider, which also contains a signaller (who sends and receives messages using various methods to and from other howdahs, or from the higher chain of command). In this manner, Siege Spiders act as semi-independent units tasked with the dismantling and destruction of enemy fortifications. They usually do not climb over these but instead are trained to stand against walls, etc as they endeavour to breach them. Some howdahs form the base of larger siege towers and some armies add large metal spikes and other objects to the spider's body in order to guard against attacks or to enhance its offensive capabilities. Against weaker defences the weight of the spider is sometimes enough to breach them.

The creature is generally similar to other spiders in overall shape except that its two forelegs are 30' long and end in large hook-like talon, each capable of prising apart or smashing stone and mortar and delivering 6-60 points of damage. Despite their size, these are particularly dextrous. Siege Spiders are usually black or darker shades of brown, purple or blue in colour, with vivid red undersides and yellow-white talons. However, it is common for armies to paint them in other colours or to decorate them with various patterns, flags, banners or slogans. The creature's chitin is also thick enough to have designs permanently carved into it. The remains of dead Siege Spiders can be repurposed as armour for others of their kind or made into suits and shields, usually of AC3 or 4.
 
Siege Spiders do not spin webs nor do they possess a venomous bite as adults. Their fangs are very small compared to their overall size and they can consume the flesh of most creatures, living or dead. They have many eyes are can see equally well in both day and night. They are immune to fire (magical or mundane) and are unaffected by Cold or Fear-based Spells. Lightning-based attacks inflict only half damage.

These creatures are very highly prized as eggs or hatchlings, fetching as much as 50-80,000 gold pieces per individual. Hatchlings are usually pale blue or yellow in colour, some 4-6' in size, are AC4 and have 4HD. Unlike their adult form, they possess a venomous bite and those bitten must save vs poison or die instantly. Their fangs and each forearm deliver 1-8 points of damage. Siege Spiders give birth to 2-6 hatchlings but only breed once every 10 years, whilst they themselves normally have a lifespan of 30-50 years.

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Woodwose...!

This week I describe creatures that once figured quite strongly in English folklore, seemingly as some sort of physical representation of a wilder aspect of nature. They're mentioned, for example, in the Arthurian tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but must predate that period by at least three or four centuries as their name seems to be of Anglo-Saxon origin. It's possible (at a bit of a stretch, in my opinion) that they are in some way related to the Green Man, a similarly mysterious figure who shares some aspects with the Woodwose. Lastly, the word 'Woodwose' works both as a singular and plural form.

WOODWOSE

FREQUENCY: Uncommon
 

NO. APPEARING: 2-6
 

ARMOR CLASS: 6

MOVE: 10"

HIT DICE: 2+2

% IN LAIR: 15%

TREASURE TYPE: V

NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 (clawed hands)

DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon or 1-8

SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below

SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below

MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below

INTELLIGENCE: Low to Average

ALIGNMENT: Neutral

SIZE: M

PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil

       Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Woodwose are only ever encountered in ancient woodlands or similarly remote and overgrown places, within which they are seldom seen unless they decide to make their presence felt. They are shy and timid creatures that will ordinarily go to great lengths to avoid any form of contact. They are dextrous and masters of camouflage and stealth, possessing abilities similar to Move Silently, Hide In Shadows and Climb Walls as if they were a 10th level thief.

Despite their timidity, they possess a curiosity that can override this aspect of their nature. When encountering parties of adventurers they will sometimes choose to follow them at a distance. Ordinarily they are terrified of fire and lightning, but should a party be engaged in cooking the woodwose might choose to break cover and approach, albeit haltingly. They seem to have a great interest in prepared food and the cooking of such things, but the sound of music also seems to have a similar attraction for them.

In combat their sharp, claw-like nails inflict 1-8 points of damage. There is a 50% chance that those encountered can also attack with poisoned darts. This poison is an insinuative B variety, the darts having a range of 20 feet and two may be thrown per turn. Otherwise they are armed with weapons equivalent to a club or quarterstaff.
 
All woodwose have the ability to cast Cure Light Wounds and Warp Wood as a 3rd level druid. They are immune to cold attacks but fire and lightning-based attacks will cause them to instantly flee. Their magic and poison resistance allows them to save at 2 levels above their actual. They possess excellent hearing and surprise on a roll of 1-4 on a 6-sided die, and see equally well by both day and night.

If encountered in their lair, there will always be one 4 HD individual, taller than the others and with hair entwined with a mass of thorny plants. It will know 1d6 druid spells in addition to those described above, casting them as a 4th level druid, and can (if threatened) summon 1d6 bears, wolves and similar creatures to its aid, which will arrive in 1-3 turns. They have no interest in treasure such as silver, gold, etc but seem to covet wands and staffs. These will be found within a giant ancient tree which stands at the centre of their lair. No woodwose children have ever been observed, and no-one knows how long they live. Some Elven folklore claims that when an old oak tree dies and collapses into ruin, woodwose spring up from the remains.
 
Woodwose speak their own language, which varies from growls to bird-like sounds. There is a remote chance (10%) that within any group encountered one individual will have a very basic knowledge of Common. However, Speak With Animals works just as well when communicating with them. If befriended or treated amiably, they will be happy to share information about recent and past events, as well as that pertaining to an area some 20 miles around them. Once per day they can accurately describe any location and on-going events within it up to a distance of 10 miles from where they stand. However, they may not understand all that they see and thus the information provided might be difficult to parse.

Description: Woodwose are tall and human-like in appearance, albeit with somewhat larger hands and feet. Aside from their hands and faces, their entire bodies are covered in thick hair that ranges in colour from black to light brown. This is covered in patches of leaves, lichen, moss and other plant material. The skin of their hands and face is dark reddish-brown and their nails are jet black. Their faces are their most striking feature, being wide and round with a pointed chin. Their eyes are large with no discernable pupils and resemble oddly reflective glass spheres. They have no teeth, but have a wide beak-like object within their mouths that is turquoise in colour.