Monday, February 19, 2018

Monster Monday: Skimmers (Part 2) - Flying Jellyfish

Today's Monster Monday is part two of our exclusive exposé of flying electric jellyfish and how cool they are. Last week we talked about the man-sized skimmer and the smaller, bloodsucking crimson skimmer. This week we're going bigger:

Cloud jelly and birdcatcher skimmer
The birdcatcher skimmer is almost transparent, floating through the sky on ocean-bourne winds and snaring seabirds in its shocking tentacles. The cloud jelly is the largest of the skimmers, looking somewhat like a small cloud trailing rain. It may not be a storm cloud, but its tentacles pack an electric punch.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monster Monday: Skimmers (Part 1) - Flying Jellyfish

Today's Monster Monday is part one of a two-parter featuring different types of flying jellyfish, called skimmers. This week, we'll look at the Medium-sized common skimmer, which glides over the surface of the ocean and stuns its prey with jolts of electricity. We'll also see the smaller crimson skimmer, which latches on to its prey with blood-sucking tentacles.

Common Skimmer and Crimson Skimmer
These gelatinous predators drift on the wind, with only a minimum of control over their speed and direction. They can jet out of danger by suddenly releasing the gas from their sacs, but for the most part they are adrift in the air currents, like true jellyfish are in water. Things get hairy when a bloom of skimmers collides with a ship, or gets blown onto shore. When the wind so favors them, they supplement their normal diet of fish and seabirds with the flesh and blood of hapless sailors and fishermen.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monster Monday: Holly King, Protector of the Winter Wood

Today's Monster Monday is the holly king, winter's answer to the verdant green man of spring. The holly king is a man of twisted holly wood with a cloak and crown of spiny leaves and red berries. Squirrels and small birds flit about him, taking shelter among his branches. Travelers finding themselves lost in the wilderness may receive aid from a holly king, but those who despoil the wilderness or abuse the forest's hospitality will find themselves on the receiving end of a holly king's druidic wrath.

photo by Erich Ferdinand, via Wikimedia

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monster Monday: Shadow Cat, Predator in the Darkness

Today's Monster Monday is the shadow cat, a magical black panther infused with shadow magic, allowing it to blend into areas of darkness, teleport between shady spots, and even generate its own supernatural darkness. This predatory cat, from whose sleek black fur constantly seeps wisps of smokey darkness, is a formidable hunter in warm forested regions with lots of undergrowth.

Panther illustration from Brehm's Life of Animals (1895), via the Biodiversity Heritage Library and Wikimedia
(This is not to be confused with the Marvel superheroes Shadow Cat and Black Panther, which coincidentally are also the names of my laptop and my gaming PC.)

Encounters with shadowcats should be dynamic, with lots of movement as the creature strikes and repositions, taking full advantage of the environment to maneuver itself to strike at the party's weakest and least defended members.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monster Monday: Kherty - Scourge of the Living, Defender of the Dead

Today's Monster Monday is kherty, an outsider who strides through ancient desert ruins, protecting the dead and slaughtering the living. The kherty has the gaunt, bandaged body of a mummy, but its head is a dried out ram's skull.


Limned in negative energy, the kherty's every attack is inimical to life itself. But aside from its array of spells, its life-taking spear, and its draining touch, this creature is outfitted with a range of abilities that bolster nearby undead, making tomb encounters particularly deadly for adventurers who run afoul of this unwholesome beast. Undead within the immediate vicinity of a kherty gain bonuses to their AC and saves, and the kherty's touch can mend the wounds of the undead. Plus, dying creatures close to the kherty cannot stabilize, so fallen heroes are just two rounds (death knell + create undead) away from joining the ranks of kherty's allies.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monster Monday: Brongya - Evil Yak Men of the Mountains

Today's Monster Monday is the brongya, a humanoid yak that binds elementals to its will and can possess the bodies of humanoids. Brongyai (the plural of brongya) live in hidden cities secreted away in high mountain valleys, where they rule over enslaved giants, bound genies, and servile elementals. Using magic and their ability to possess others, they lure unwary travelers into a false sense of security before capturing them for their own nefarious purposes. The brongyai believe themselves to be the predestined rulers of the world, and they delight in inflicting suffering and torment on those they see as 'slave races'. From their mountain strongholds, they secretly infiltrate and manipulate surrounding lands in centuries-long plots for conquest and domination.

Brongya, by Jonah Bomgaars
The brongya is obviously heavily inspired by the yak folk first introduced to D&D in the al-Qadim campaign setting. Yak folk made their way into D&D 3rd Edition's Monster Manual II, which was released shortly before the switch over to 3.5 Edition. When Wizard's of the Coast created the Open Game License, upon which all of Pathfinder was built, that oddball 3rd Edition Monster Manual II sadly did not make it into the OGL, so the yak folk presented therein are still 'private property', as it were.

Even though a race of humanoid yaks seems pretty silly, they quickly became one of my favorite villains, and two of my longest running campaigns featured significant yak folk encounters. The brongyai are my OGL-friendly take on these not-so-classic, mostly-forgotten monsters, made from scratch without direct reference to the stat block in MMII. It is presented here so that all might someday live in fear of these surprisingly sinister shaggy bovine beasties.

The name brongya comes from the tibetan 'brong (འབྲོང), meaning 'wild yak'. Its alternate name, qutazi, comes from the tatar word for yak - qutaz (кутаз). The sword the brongya is holding in the picture is a forward-curving Nepalese sword called a kora - actually, a ceremonial executioner's version of the traditional kora.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monster Monday: Sawfish, A Toothy Sword-Faced Fish

Today's Monster Monday is the sawfish, a large shark with a tooth-lined sword nose that it sweeps back and forth to shred fish. Okay, actually sawfish aren't sharks, they are rays. And their noses (rostra) aren't lined with teeth, they are modified tooth-like scales (dermal denticles). But there are a similar group of saw-nosed sharks, but they are much smaller than the sawfish, which grows up to about 23 feet in length.

Common sawfish (pristis pristis); Photo by David Iliff (License: CC-BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia
With that said, sawfish are awesome monsters and I am surprised they haven't appeared in a Bestiary yet. Not only does their saw-nose make for a memorable combat experience, but it can also be fashioned into a macuahuitl. If you are going for a more prehistoric experience, saw-nosed sclerorhynchids lived from about 130-55 million years ago - most were Small-sized like modern saw-nosed sharks, but onchopristis was 26 feet long with an 8 foot saw lined with barbed teeth. There was also the saw-nosed ichthyosaur eurhinosaurus that you can find back in this old post.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2018 Jonah Bomgaars.