Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Monster Monday: Spindles, Gaunt Humanoids with an Insatiable Appetite

Today's Monster Monday is the spindle, a carnivorous humanoid with an insatiable gut.  There are two types of spindles: civilized spindles are able to pass as human by clouding the perceptions of those around them, while feral spindles gallop freely on their four legs, chasing down and swallowing humans with their unhinging jaws.

Spindles are the brainchild of Jane Kelly, long-time friend of the site (and contributor to my favorite April Fool's post thus far), who basically spends all her free time creating characters, worlds, and stories.  The inspiration for spindles came from a creepy ball-jointed doll that had an oddly extended pelvis and four human legs.  This concept changed over time so that spindles could relatively convincingly pass as human; one of her characters, Maude, is a chain-smoking spindle who works at the deli counter of a grocery store so she can snack on raw meat.  A few years ago I statted up both the original centauroid spindle and the civilized spindle for Jane's birthday, and now I'm sharing these legitimately creepy monsters with you for Halloween!

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monster Monday: Cave Drake, the Bat Dragon

Today's Monster Monday is the cave drake, a bat-like dragon with a deafening sonic breath weapon.

Excerpt from Drakes & Wyverns: A Study of Dragon-Kind's Lesser Cousins by Lord Jacobus Harweldt:
"But of the many species of drake, none can be considered more vexing to herdsman of this region than the cave drake, or 'bat dragon' as it is erroneously called by those less well-versed in dragonology.  The cave drake is unusual for living deep underground but emerging to hunt on the surface at night.  Its pitch-black scales make it quite difficult for watchmen to spot, giving it easy access to sleeping herds.  It seems to have no need of light, preferring to strike dark fields on moonless nights.  While darkvision may account for some of its nocturnal acuity, I believe it is able to navigate and locate prey through sound, rather like a bat.  Having been given the rare opportunity to study a cave drake cadaver, I can testify that the drake's external ear-like structures not only resemble a bat's ears, but when comparing their ear canals to those of a giant bat (specially procured for this very purpose), a number of striking similarities bear mentioning...
...Those adventurers who finally entered its lair described it to me as a foul charnel house.  The floor, they said, was littered with partial cow and sheep carcasses in various states of decay and consumption.  It appears that this cave drake had staked out such an ideal hunting ground that it could afford to eat only the choicest parts of its prey, leaving the rest to rot.  It was the presence of such a large concentration of decaying flesh that must surely account for the adventurers' encounters with unusually large amounts of  vicious subterranean scavengers on their way into the cave.  This certainly aids the cave drake in the defense of its lair, helping to ensure that it is not discovered by spelunkers during the day while it slumbers, though how much of this is pure accident and how much the cunning of this draconic beast remains up for debate."

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monster Monday: Slow Loris, the Primate with the Poison Bite

Everyone turned to stare when the wizard entered the bar.  Magic types didn't often show up in this part of town, especially not ones dressed so fancy.  The spindly caster leaned on an intricately carved staff tipped with gleaming jewels.  His long blue robes were finely tailored and trimmed with gold.  His ink-black calfskin boots, lightly caked with fresh street-mud, otherwise showed no signs of wear.  And, most peculiarly, he had a furry, cat-sized creature clinging to his shoulder, gripping his robes with little human-like fingers and staring around with round eyes like silver thalers.

He didn't look like he belonged here in the Bilge and Bunyon, but he sure seemed to know what he wanted.  "Ratcatcher!" he shouted, storming toward the chubby Shadow Guild operative's table.  Three toughs stood simultaneously to bar the wizard's passage, but Ratcatcher waved them away.  One of them succeeded in taking the wizard's staff away, but the intruder didn't seem to mind.

"What brings you to my humble table today, Harmac?"

"You know damn well, Rat.  Where is it?"

Ratcatcher leaned back, his stout chair creaking like an old ship.  "I'm afraid I'm not a mind-reader, Harmac.  Maybe you fancy magic boy types forget we aren't all arcanely attuned."  The wizard seemed angry.  Ratcatcher drummed his sausage-like fingers on the table, showing off his many magic rings as a subtle reminder that he was warded against any spells Harmac might try on him.

"The idol, you greasy slop bucket!  Give me back the idol!"  Ratcatcher's bruisers shifted awkwardly behind the wizard, unsure when they should step in.

"I don't know anything about any idols.  I do know that tomb robbing is not looked kindly on by the authorities of this district, and Artaklan antiquities can only be claimed as private property with the appropriate documents of sale and provenance.  Do you have any such documents?"

Harmac reached across the table with surprising speed, hoisting Ratcatcher up by the collar.  With his other hand, he grabbed his sleepy looking pet by the scruff of the neck and shoved it in the thief's face.  "This is Lola," the wizard explained.  "She's a loris: the only species of monkey with a poisonous bite.  And once she latches on, she doesn't let go."

Lola slowly blinked.

"Urk... Don't monkeys usually got tails?"

Two of Ratcatcher's hired goons grabbed the wizard and yanked him away.  As Ratcatcher fell back into his chair, Harmac lobbed the primate at him and yelled, "Sic 'im, Lola!"

The creature, so placid a second ago, hissed wickedly and sunk its needle fangs into the thief's blubbery neck.  Ratcatcher shook his head wildly and slapped at the beast, but it only clamped down harder.  "Yeeooww!" he screeched.  Still trying to pry the simian assailant off with one hand, he reached into a leather satchel with the other and threw a jade idol across the table.  "Take the damn idol, ya crazy wizard!  Just get yer thrice-cursed pet off me!"

Harmac pushed the bruisers away from him, straightened his robes, and whistled two short notes.  Lola unclamped her jaw from the fat man's neck and waddled across the table, grabbing the idol along the way.

Ratcatcher cursed and rubbed the red swelling on his neck.  "You owe me 2500 thalers for the rock, Harmac.  I see you again and you don't got the money, you and yer little tree-rat are dead!"

Turning for the door, Harmac grabbed his staff and gave Lola an appreciative scratch under the chin.  "Pleasure doing business with you!"


Today's Monster Monday is the slow loris, the world's only venomous primate!  Okay, technically it isn't venom but a toxic, allergenic compound secreted by a gland of the animal's armpit that activates when mixed with the loris' saliva, supplemented by their diet of poisonous plants, but that takes longer to say.  And technically slender lorises have the same toxic defense system as the slow loris, but people know about slow lorises because they've been in a bunch of youtube videos.  Call me when you're an internet sensation, slender lorises.

via Wikimedia
Also, unlike what certain wizards and thieves in the above story snippet may have suggested, lorises aren't monkeys; they are more closely related to lemurs.

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

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monster Monday: Horror Beast, a Chimera of Creepy Crawlies

Today's Monster Monday is the horror beast, a creatively named chimera of as many phobia-inducing critters as possible.  It has the body and legs of a spider, the head of a snake, the wings of a bat, and the stinging tail of a scorpion.

Halloween approaches, and with it come many festive, horror-filled adventures.  GMs looking for a unique low-level monster to populate a Gothic castle, mad wizard's lair, or haunted forest should check out this beastie.  Did I mention that its venom causes maddening fear, and it can be taken as a familiar with the Improved Familiar feat?

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

Horror Beast            CR 2
XP 600
CE Small magical beast
Init +7; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 120 ft., blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +5
AC 15, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 22 (3d10+6)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +4
Immune fear effects
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee bite +5 (1d6+1 plus poison), sting +5 (1d3+1 plus poison)
 Special Attacks web (+7 ranged, DC 13, hp3)
Str 12, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 13, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 16 (28 vs trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Iron Will
Skills Climb +9, Fly +10, Perception +5, Stealth +7
Poison (Ex) Fear Venom: Bite or Sting – injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; initial effect frightened for 2d4 rounds; secondary effect confused for 1d4 rounds; cure 1 save
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, shroud (3-12)
Treasure none

With the head of a snake, legs of a spider, bat wings, and the tail of a scorpion, this chimaeric creature seems designed to trigger as many phobias as possible.  Horror beasts were almost certainly created by a deranged spellcaster for just such a purpose, but they now inhabit the dark places of the world, driven by an insane need to cause fear in unsuspecting creatures. 
   Horror beasts possess limited intelligence, and will occasionally form a partnership with one who is as demented as they are.  An arcane spellcaster of at least 7th level whose alignment is within one step of chaotic evil and who has the Improved Familiar feat may select a horror beast as a familiar. 


Sorry, no story snippet for this monster.  I've hit a bit of writer's block today.  Imagine I wrote something cool where an evil wizard tells a story about how he was always afraid of everything when he was younger, but now he's decided that instead of letting his fears conquer him, he would make his fears reality and use them to conquer others.  Then the adventurers are like, "You're a monster!" and he goes, "No, this is!" and he releases his horror beast and the adventurers are all like, "Eww, gross!"  But cooler.

-your horrible d20 despot

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monster Monday: Iron Maiden, an Animated Torture Device

"I just don't feel comfortable staying in Grandfather's house.  You know what they say about him in town..."

"We don't put stock in the opinions of peasants and shopkeepers, dear sister."  Gavish adjusted the buttons on his red velvet sleeve.  "The small-minded have no appreciation for real science."

"But what if they find out you intend to continue his work?  What if the mob comes knocking down our door with torches and hay forks?"

"Unlike Grandfather, I won't be taking subjects from the village.  At least not often.  Goblins, travelers, and the like should nicely make up the difference.  And besides, this manor is heavily warded.  We can sleep in safety and luxury."

Juvenia looked uneasily around the large bedroom, with its massive four-poster bed, leaded glass windows, centuries-old armoire, and towering oak doors.  The furniture was too big for her, and too small for the room.  "Luxurious but lonely.  The story of my life."

"Hush now, you won't be lonely.  I'll be just in the next room."  He started walking toward the smaller of the bedroom's two doors.  "The house will seem more alive in the morning, when the servants arrive.  You'll see."  He stepped through the door into his adjoining bedroom and vanished with the click of a latch.

Juvenia changed into her night clothes, spoke the command word to extinguish the candles, and wrapped herself in the bed's voluminous blankets.  She tried not to think of all the suffering that had taken place in this house.  All the death.  "For the greater good," she thought to herself.  "Grandfather's research... all for the advancement of knowledge."

She awoke with a start, not remembering having fallen asleep.  Gavish was knocking at their shared door.  She got up slowly, spoke a word that set the candles alight, and called out, "What do you want, Gavish? Why do you disturb me at this hour?"

The response from the other side of the door was muffled.

"Say again?" she threw open the door, only to be greeted by a towering iron figure rather similar to a mummy's sarcophagus.  Something about its unmoving, emotionless face froze Juvenia to her core.

"Blood will pay for blood," it said.  A seam opened up down its center, opening to reveal a shriveled corpse in red velvet, impaled on hundreds of iron spikes.  Only when Gavish's bloodless husk slid out and flopped onto the rug did Juvenia muster up the breath to scream.  She bolted across the room, threw open the main door to the hallway, and slammed it shut behind her.  Up and down the long, dusty hall, candles flickered to dim life.

Two wickedly spiked chains burst through the door behind her and tore it off its hinges.  Juvenia sped barefoot through the unfamiliar house, the iron maiden relentlessly scraping along the floor behind her, chains flailing madly against the walls.  "Blood will pay for blood!" it called after her.

She spotted her escape.  A flight of stairs up to the third floor.  That thing had to weigh a ton, and there was no way it could climb up steps.  She pounded up the flagstone steps, pausing at the top to catch her breath.  In a burst of curling purple smoke, the iron maiden appeared before her.  She shrieked and fell backwards down the stairs, knocking her head hard against a step.  Her vision blurred and darkened.  A spiked chain dug into her bare leg and began to drag her back up the stairs.  Another wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her upright.  All she could see was a chamber lined with of eager spikes.

"Blood will pay for blood!"

Today's Monster Monday is the iron maiden, a magically animated torture device that grabs its victims with chains and shoves them into its spiked chamber where it drains their blood.  This monster will fit easily into any mid-level dungeon, but it is especially suited to gothic horror castles and the lairs of mad wizards.

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