Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monster Monday: Bombardier Ooze, the Living Slime Cannon

"I'm so sick of all these damn oozes!"  Galnar fired off another scorching ray at the nearest gelatinous cube, blasting a fiery hole right through it.  No sooner had it dissolved into a pile of goo than two grey slimes slithered past it toward the party of adventurers.  The wizard swore.  "They just keep coming!"

"This is what we signed up for when we agreed to take on the Slime Cult.  Which, by the way: nice name guys.  Real creative."  Shantara nocked another arrow to her shortbow and let fly.  It arced through the air and sunk deep into an opaque blob of quivering purple goo, which squealed and melted into an inanimate puddle.  "My real objection is that the things are so gosh-darned slow that we finish them off before I get a chance to use my rad new holy sword."  The halfling paladin patted the scabbard at her hip.  

"Closing to melee would be illogical," Fanath said, cool and calm as ever.  "As long as we keep moving faster than the enemy, it is most efficient to engage them at range."  

"What bothers me is how these globs of goo were able to overwhelm the defenders of Castle Dejamine," said Galnar.  The eerie bare walls and empty stone halls of that dead fortress crept back into his mind, and he suppressed a shudder.  

As if in answer, a massive blob of bubbling green pustules slithered into view.  Before either Shantara or Farnath could draw their bows, the seething slime shot out three globs of acid, striking each of the three heroes squarely in the chest.  

Shantara looked up at Farnath for approval, but he had already drawn his twin axes.  "I believe now would be an appropriate time to engage the enemy in melee."

Shantara smiled and drew her glowing sword.  Together, the two rushed at the slime, slashing and hewing at its bubbling exterior with magically tempered steel.  In between firing magic missiles, Galnar watched as the green beast extended its sickening pseudopods at the gleaming paladin and sucked her into its body.  Farnath redoubled his attacks, muscles rippling with new strength as righteous rage overtook his usual levelheadedness.  The ooze tensed and then launched a huge glob of goo up in a long arc.  Shantara floated helplessly within the flying orb, eyes wide, as it came plummeting down toward Galnar.  The wizard barely had time to erect a shimmering barrier of force around himself before the whole area was bathed in sizzling acid.  

Shantara's face was pressed flat against the top of Galnar's barrier, arms and legs splayed out very much like a starfish Galnar had once seen on the inside of a glass tank.  He dismissed the barrier with a wave and caught the petite paladin as she fell.  "You know, It's times like these that I really appreciate you meatshields," he said with a smirk.  "How did you enjoy your first experience flying?"

Shantara responded by vomiting on his robes.

"Whoa, okay, appreciation over.  You're getting to be as bad as that slime."

The halfling wiped her mouth with a corner of her cape and set off toward the ooze again.  "Call me meatshield one more time and see if you get any more healing," she called back over her shoulder.

"Hey, you're a paladin, you have to heal me!  ...right?"

Today's Monster Monday is the bombardier ooze, a slime that can take on foes in melee or at range.  With its ability to fire small orbs of acid at up to three targets per round or launch a massive glob of acid that explodes in a burst, this is not an ooze that clever adventuring parties can simply take out from a safe distance.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monster Monday: Glacioth, the Ice Mammoth

Every year since the wall of ice collapsed, the mammoths had come south through Eagle Pass at first snow.  Kennetwe had been the first to notice this, and so Kennetwe had been given the honor of leading the hunt ever since.  No longer did the Arokatcha eke out a living eating boiled roots and trading black squirrel pelts to the neighboring tribes.  Thanks to Kennetwe (and the melting ice), they grew fat on slabs of mammoth meat, grew strong defending the pass from their jealous neighbors, and grew rich trading ivory and hides to the River Cities.  

It was on one such trade expedition last summer, in the walled city or Urtalik, that Kennetwe had found the magic spear.  Crouching behind the grassy hummock and waiting for the other hunters to catch up to him, he admired the fine prize that he had traded five great tusks for.  The haft was made of a pale wood that looked almost like bone.  The spear head was broad and never needed sharpening.  Silver lightning bolts ran down either side of the head, framing a seated human figure that the Urtalikan had claimed was a god named Banatu.  At the time, Kennetwe had laughed - the gods do not take the shape of man! - but now he was convinced.  The spear crackled with power whenever he hefted it.  When he cast it, it flew straight and true, and badly scorched whatever it hit.  He was eager to try it on a mammoth.

Kennetwe readied the spear as the other hunters arrived.  He motioned them to follow, then leapt over the hummock down into the dry stream bed which ran with fast melt-water in the spring.  They advanced silently up the natural path, using the high banks as cover.  Mammoths spooked easily at the sight of man, and spooked mammoths would do no one any good.  The scent of mammoth was strong when they neared the killing field.  Stronger than ever.  This might be Kennetwe's most successful hunt yet.  He peered over the stream bank and his stomach sank.  The field was full of mammoths, all right.  Dead mammoths.  

He clambered out of the stream bed, the other hunters following.  A whole herd of female mammoths and their yearlings lay dead between the stream and the cliffs.  Did Tartakan hunters dare penetrate so deeply into Arokatcha territory?  Impossible.  Besides, there were no spears broken off in the mammoths.  No meat had been cut from their bodies, no tusks removed.  Kennetwe examined the closest mammoth.  It has been gored through its flank multiple times.  Its meat was cold and frosty.  A younger mammoth lay nearby, trampled to death by something very heavy.  

A trumpeting call ripped through the air, and the ground rumbled ominously.  Kennetwe looked up from the carnage.  A huge mammoth like none he had ever seen charged down the slope at them.  Its shaggy fur was white, and its skin was tinted blue like a frozen lake.  Its mighty tusks were made not of ivory but of ice, still dripping with blood and gore from the mammoths it had killed.  Four young hunters rushed in from the side and cast their throwing spears.  The brazen move would take down an aurochs but would be foolhardy in a mammoth hunt and was suicide against this beast.  The creature rounded on the boys and let loose a blast from its trunk.  A spray of ice crystals ripped into the first-year hunters, freezing them dead in their tracks.

Spears and arrows rained down on the beast from more cautious hunters taking cover behind dead mammoths.  Few found purchase in the monster's thick hide.  The white mammoth charged a pair of archers and skewered one on its icy tusk.  The archer's aborted scream hung in the air like a cloud.  This devil of a mammoth would not just end the hunt, it could end the whole Arokatcha tribe.  Kennetwe stepped up onto the corpse of a mammoth and belted out a war cry.  The white mammoth turned to him, snorted, and started to charge.  

He hefted the spear in his hand.  "Banatu, strike down this monster!"  The hairs on his arms stood on end as the spear trembled with power.  The white mammoth bore down on him, shaking the earth with every step.  Kennetwe took aim between the beast's eyes and let the spear fly.  

Today's Monster Monday is the glacioth, a snow-white mammoth with icicles for tusks that blasts cones of frost out of its trunk.  It's like a cross between a mammoth and a yeti, basically.

Whether you are running an ice age campaign (as I one day hope to do) or your party is venturing through the frigid northlands, a glacioth makes for a challenging foe.  It not only brings the power of a mammoth to bear, but also magical ice attacks.  Glacioths also make suitable mounts for yetis and frost giants or weapons of war for northern kingdoms.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

GotWK Campaign Part 9: An Eye For An Eye

This is an account of part 9 of my ongoing campaign set in my homebrewed wild west setting, Guns of the Western Kings.  Get caught up with the previous parts here.

When last we left our heroes, they had chased a drow raiding party down into the Sunbeam Silver Mine.  The drow had attacked the mining camp at the surface, surprising both the miners and the elven rangers who had been waging a guerrilla campaign against the mining company.  As the party descends into the mountain in pursuit of the drow, they discover the wounded leader of the elven guerillas.  Bemoaning his failure, he says that if the drow have not seized control of the evil now, they surely would soon, and he implored the adventurers to destroy the evil before the drow can use it.  He is maddeningly unclear what he means by "the evil".  Nevertheless, the party fights its way through a hostage situation, kills a giant spider, and ends up hanging in its web above a seemingly bottomless hole deep into the depths of the mountain.

And now:

The Sniper in the Dark
One single passageway breaks into the side of the bottomless pit - a square entrance large enough that two men might march abreast through it - just above the level of the giant spiderweb.  Heather, Theodore, and Rusty pull themselves free of the sticky webbing and tightrope-walk to the passage.  Gudguníis, the blinded sharpshooter, has considerably more trouble extricating himself, and by the time he makes it to the entrance he is wearing the equivalent of a new suit of clothes in tangled spider silk.  The passageway is freshly carved and climbs steeply down, spiraling roughly around the outside of the bottomless pit.  They follow it for untold hours - possibly days - in the sunless dark before it opens up into a natural cavern.  It is a long cave full of stalagmites and stalactites, obviously carved by water at some time though now it is drier than a coal miner's cough.  Brandishing the lantern, Theodore takes the lead, only to be shot right through the breastplate.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monster Monday: Leather Golem, the Roguish Construct

At the sound of something expensive shattering against the floor above them, Alonzo set down the dice cup.

"Gods dammit, not again!  What kind of damn fool keeps a faerie dragon as a pet?"

"The kind of rich eccentric that pays well for guard duty," Iermo reminded him.  "I think it's your turn to check."

"Don't you dare take a single sheqel from the pot," he teased, rising to his feet with visible reluctance.  "I know exactly what I've wagered so far."
"I wouldn't dream of it."  When Alonzo was halfway up the stairs, Iermo started loudly rummaging through the pile of small coins on the table.

"Ha ha, Mister Funny Man.  Be quiet, I'm trying to do our job."  Alonzo disappeared up the staircase.  There was a jangle of keys, the click of a lock, and the faint creak of the old door, followed immediately by a heavy thud, and then silence.  

"Alonzo...?"  Iermo was on his feet, hand on his scimitar hilt.  He rushed to the base of the stair.  Alonzo was at the top, dark blood still burbling from a gash in his neck.  Iermo took the stairs two at a time, scimitar held in front of him apotropaically.  He grabbed a wyrd-lantern from its peg on the wall, stepped over his fallen comrade, and nudged open the blood-spattered door.  

The green wyrd-light caught a figure clad head-to-toe in black leather just as it was sliding the Grimoire of Jobor Kha into a pouch on its chest.  Iermo lunged forward, bringing his scimitar down in a silvery arc with all his strength.  The blade sheared through the thief's arm just above the elbow.  It fell to the floor without a single drop of blood.  The burglar leapt back, unfurled a whip from its remaining arm, and struck at Iermo.  The tip of the lash wrapped around his ankle, and with one quick pull the thief toppled him backward.  Iermo got up in time to see the intruder leap out the open window.  He scrambled to his feet and bolted to the window.  Four stories below, the dark figure bounded across the courtyard, whipped itself up onto the parapets, and disappeared into the city's midnight streets.

Speechless, Iermo stooped to examine the thief's severed arm.  The thing had the form of a man's arm, but instead of flesh and bone it was layer upon layer of leather all the way to the core.  Braided skeins of leather extending from the wrist formed a long whip which was wound around the forearm like a bracer.  As Iermo twisted and turned the arm this way and that, a long blade sprang from a slit between the middle and ring fingers, its keen edge dripping with black poison.  "What is this abomination?"

Today's Monster Monday is the leather golem, a versatile construct made of solid leather, built for skulking, stealing, and stabbing.  It has whips and poisoned blades built into its arms, retractable thieves' tools and secret loot pockets built into its body, and it smells like a new briefcase.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monster Monday: Ursotaur, the Bear Centaur

Today's Monster Monday is the ursotaur, a centaur but with bear bits instead of horse bits.  Because why not?  Ursotaurs have bear bodies and bear heads but humanoid torsos.  They are a primarily tribal species capable of crafting tools to aid them in hunting, fishing, and other activities that bears enjoy.

Imagine: you are walking through the woods.  Huge firs and cedars - bigger around than the support beams of a cathedral - jut out of the loamy earth.  Somewhere above the unseen canopy, it is raining, but all that reaches the dim undercroft of the forest is a steady grey mist punctuated by fat drops dripping secondhand from sodden boughs.  Pushing through a dense stand of salmonberry and sword fern, you break into a clearing.  Suddenly, the roar of the river ahead is all you can hear, even as the rain falls harder now, unimpeded by tree cover, plastering your woolen hood to your helmet.  Huge salmon the size of dolphins lie beached on the scree of flat river rocks, gasping their last.  You draw a long knife and make your way towards the closest.  This one fish will feed you and your companions for days!  But as you kneel by the fish to gut it, something catches your eye.  Slowly, you turn your head.  Twenty paces upstream, a pair of four-legged bear-men with matted brown fur eye you suspiciously.  One of them has a dozen fillets of the giant fish draped and bound across his back.  The other, wearing a porcupine pelt as a helmet, grips a long spear.  His growl, resonant and bestial, reaches you clearly above the river's constant rush.  This salmon is his.  This river is his.  And yet... you must eat.

So if your campaign has been wanting a species of six-limbed spear-wielding bears with humanoid intelligence (and I think you will find that it has), then you need look no further!  Well, look a little further.  You'll need to scroll down, at least.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2016 Jonah Bomgaars.