Monday, June 5, 2017

Monster Monday: Knocker, Leprechaun of the Mines

   "Don't be too hasty to finish that there pasty," Jago's wrinkled grey face twisted into a smirk. The old-timer leaned in toward where Cadwur was eating his lunch by the light of his candle-helmet. "You'll want to save a morsel for the knockers.  Like this." He took one last bite of his own pasty and tossed the remaining corner out beyond the candlelight.
   Cadwur's stomach rumbled. He was new to mine labor, and his lunch had not filled him as it should. He eyed the last bite of his pasty eagerly. 
   "Save a morsel for the rats, more like!" Massen butted in. "You'll go hungry if you listen to this old fool's tall tales, Fresh-Face." He popped half a sweet roll in his mouth and chewed loudly. 
   "And if you showed some respect to the fey, maybe your tools would stop disappearing." Jago turned back to Cadwur. "Go on, make your offering. Unless you want to take your chances like Missing Massen over here." 
   Reluctantly, Cadwur tossed his crust out beyond the circle of light. Over the now-familiar scrabbling of rats, he thought he heard the soft slapping of tiny bare feet. But then they all heard the screaming.  
   It came from further down the mine, from the main shaft where the men of the deep shift were working.  The screaming grew more violent as more voices joined in, and it meshed with the clash of iron and rock and the distorted echoes of a deep, unearthly growl. Then came the knocking. Loud, rhythmic, insistent, coming right from the entrance to the side shaft Cadwur and his whole crew were sitting in. Everyone instinctively recoiled.  Everyone but Massen, who leapt for the entrance, yelling, "Cave in! Everyone out!" Just as he reached the entrance, a support beam cracked and struck him on the head. He collapsed like a sack of potatoes and lay there for a split second, more serene than anyone had ever seen him, before the whole ceiling fell on him. They all watched in silence until his boots stopped twitching and the dust settled.  
   The screaming had stopped, but the noise had not. Something large and clumsy, roaring like a blast furnace and stinking like a charnel house, was scraping its way up through the mine. Candles extinguished, picks and shovels clenched in white-knuckle fists, every miner behind the cave-in listened with bated breath as the beast sniffed and clawed at the pile of rubble that had sealed them in. They stayed like that for what seemed like an hour after the monster gave up and moved on, then they breathed out a collective sigh of relief.  
   Cadwur pulled his flint and steel out of a satchel on his belt and lit the candle stub on the front of his helmet. A tiny man with a long, ratty beard and a protruding nose was resting against the shaft wall, right on the edge of his candlelight, hefting an oversized hammer in one hand. He winked at Cadwur, popped a crust of pasty in his mouth, and fell backwards through the solid stone. 
   Trapped by the cave-in, they were the only miners to survive the monster's attack. They lived in the dark for four days awaiting rescue, licking moisture from the walls and eating raw rats. And every man of them left out a scrap of rat for the knocker who had saved their lives.  
Today's Monster Monday is the knocker, an impish prankster from Welsh and Cornish mythology who lives deep in the mines and makes loud noises to warn of (or cause) cave-ins.

Knockers are responsible for odd sounds and mysterious disappearances that plague deep caverns and drive miners mad. They delight in causing mischief, from extinguishing lights and stealing tools to luring lone subterranean explorers to their dooms or trapping dozens of miners with strategically placed cave-ins. Most miners and subterranean races maintain that knockers can be appeased with offerings of food and drink, and some even claim that those whom the knockers favor are blessed with enduring luck underground.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is ©2017 Jonah Bomgaars.

This grizzled, diminutive man is dressed as a miner and carries an oversized pickaxe.
Knocker         CR 3
XP 800
CN Small fey
Init +7; Senses darkvision 120 feet, low-light vision, see in darkness; Perception +20
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 27 (5d6+10)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +6
DR 5/cold iron; SR 13
Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft.
Melee light pick +6 (1d4/x4)
Ranged magic stone +7 (1d6+1) 20ft.
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th)
   Constant – magic stone
   At will – break (DC 14), dancing lights, darkness, ghost sound (DC 13), invisibility (self only), knock, mage hand, major image (visual and auditory elements only, DC 16), mending, prestidigitation, see through stone, stone shape, ventriloquism (DC 14)
   3/day – ant haul, distracting cacophony (DC 16), soften earth and stone, stone call
   1/day – meld into stone, spike stones
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 16
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Alertness, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +11, Escape Artist +11, Knowledge (engineering) +11, Knowledge (local) +7, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +20, Perform (comedy) +8, Perform (dance) +8, Sense Motive +9, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +11; Racial Modifiers +4 Knowledge (engineering), +8 Perception, +4 Sleight of Hand
Languages Common, Dwarven, Sylvan, Undercommon
SQ leprechaun magic, oversized weapons
Leprechaun Magic (Sp)
When a knocker uses any of its spell-like abilities to deceive, trick, or humiliate a creature (at the GM’s discretion), the spell-like ability resolves at caster level 9th rather than 5th.  If a knocker uses its spell-like abilities in the manner, it has a bonus of +11 on concentration checks. 
Oversized Weapon (Ex)
A knocker can wield Medium weapons without penalty.  Most favor the use of picks or hammers.
Environment underground
Organization solitary, pair, band (3-6), or family (7-10)
Treasure standard (light pick, other treasure)

Knockers are subterranean cousins of leprechauns.  They resemble grizzled little men wearing traditional miner’s garb, and usual hefting an oversized pickaxe or hammer.  They get their name from the loud knocking sounds they make against the walls of a cave right before a cave in.  They use their incredible eyesight and knowledge of engineering and rock structure to predict when and where a cave-in or rock-fall is most likely to occur.  Knockers delight in causing mischief in mines: stealing tools, loosening support beams, extinguishing lanterns, and causing stragglers to become lost through illusion and misdirection.  Miners who seek good relations with the knockers often leave them offerings – usually scraps of food and drink.  Knockers are said to reward friendly miners by rescuing them from cave-ins or leading them to choice mineral deposits.  


-your pasty d20 despot

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