Monday, July 10, 2017

Monster Monday: Melinoe, Nymph of Madness

Adalis met his muse for the last time at midnight, at the crossroads. She was as beautiful as pure chaos, her skin shifting from black to white like the phases of the moon, now shining brightly, now dissolving into shadows. She embraced him. He felt every emotion well up in his body and then drain out of him like grain from a torn sack, a sack that she would mend and then fill with her genius. She had been there for Adalis when his songs fell on deaf ears, when he was booed out of the inn, when his beloved laughed at his heartfelt poetry. When he was invited to play for the baron, only to discover halfway through his performance that he was the butt of a terrible joke. His muse had always been there for him, ready to whisper in his ear that which he already knew. They were all fools who could never appreciate true beauty. They must learn. They must pay.
Tonight, she would teach him the song that drives men insane.
Today's Monster Monday is melinoe, a tortured nymph who spreads madness to all she encounters. The sight of her can render a stalwart adventurer into a babbling mess. Her mere glance can strip away the mind's defenses. When she sees madness in others, she nurtures it as other nymphs would care for a grove sacred spring.

from Antikes Zauberger√§t aus Pergamon (Richard W√ľnsch, 1905), via Wikipedia
Drawing of a 3rd century AD spell-inscribed bronze tablet found at Pergamon, invoking (among others) Melinoe 
Melinoe is a rather obscure figure from Greek myth, closely associated with Hecate (goddess of crossroads and witchcraft). The real magic tablet* depicted above does not show Melinoe, but does invoke her name. A surviving Orphic hymn to Melinoe calls her "saffron-cloaked nymph of the earth" and describes her thus:
This specter drives mortals to madness with her airy apparitions
as she appears in weird shapes and strange forms,
now plain to the eye, now shadowy, now shining in the darkness—
all this in unnerving attacks in the gloom of night.
All of this, from her power over madness to her shifting form between light and shadow to her 'airy apparitions', played a role in how I statted up melinoe as a monster. Her beautiful visage drives others to madness, her ever-changing form can have an actual effect on the battlefield, and she can summon allips to her service.

*When I say real magic tablet, I mean that this is a real Greek spell-tablet inscribed with magic words, not that magic itself is real. Sorry, D&D still can't teach you the real power.

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


This stunningly beautiful woman, clad in an orange cloak, cackles as her skin shifts from black to white
Melinoe        CR 9
XP 6,400
CE Medium fey
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12
Aura insane beauty (30 ft., DC 23)
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 24, flat-footed 17 (+7 deflection, +6 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 102 (12d6+60)
Fort +16, Ref +21, Will +13
DR 10/cold iron
Defensive Ability madness
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk sickle +14 (1d6+1)
Special Attacks glance of lunacy (30 ft., DC 23, 1d4 Wis), shades of madness
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th)
   At will – cause fear (DC 18), dancing lights, fumbletongue (DC 18), hideous laughter (DC 18), lesser confusion (DC 18), mad hallucination (DC 19), message, touch of madness (DC 19), water of maddening (DC 20)
   3/day – beguiling gift (DC 18), confusion (DC 21), crushing despair (DC 21), deep slumber (DC 20), dimension door, haunting mists (DC 19), howling agony (DC 20), suggestion (DC 20), rage (inspiration of madness target only), unadulterated loathing (DC 20)
   1/day – lesser geas (DC 21), moonstruck (DC 21), nightmare (DC 22), phantasmal killer (DC 21)
STATISTICS
Str 12, Dex 22, Con 20, Int 13, Wis 7, Cha 25
Base Atk +6; CMB +12; CMD 31
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Casting, Dodge, Mobility, Spell Penetration, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +18, Bluff +20, Diplomacy +20, Escape Artist +18, Fly +18, Knowledge (local) +10, Perception +12, Sense Motive +12, Sleight of Hand +14, Swim +8
Languages Abyssal, Common, Sylvan
SQ ever-shifting form, inspiration of madness, unearthly grace
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Ever-Shifting Form (Su)
At the start of each round, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1, melinoe’s body glows brightly, as per the spell daylight, for one round, and the save DCs for all her spell-like abilities increase by 2. Any allips summoned by her Shades of Madness ability are instantly destroyed.  On a roll of 6, the melinoe is affected as if by the spell gaseous form for one round, except she gains a fly speed of 30 feet and an incorporeal touch attack that deals 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. Rolls of 2-5 do not change the melinoe’s physical form, merely indicating how much of her skin is black and how much is white. The melinoe has no control over this ability, and it functions even if the melinoe is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.
Glance of Lunacy (Su)
As a standard action, a melinoe can look at a creature within 30 feet and scrape away at their sanity. The target must succeed on a DC 23 Fortitude save or take 1d4 points of Wisdom damage.  The save DC is Charisma-based.
Insane Beauty (Su)
This ability affects all humanoids within 30 feet who are viewing a melinoe. Those who look directly upon the melinoe must succeed on a DC 23 Will save or gain the confused condition for 2d4 rounds. A creature that succeeds at the save is immune to the same melinoe’s insane beauty for 24 hours. A melinoe can suppress or resume this ability as a free action. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Inspiration of Madness (Su)
A melinoe can choose an intelligent creature to inspire to new heights of madness and serve as a muse by giving that creature some token of her affection (typically a lock of her hair). A target that accepts the token, willingly or not, must make a DC 21 Will save or be subject to a lesser geas spell to keep the token secretly on their person at all times. As long as the melinoe retains her interest in this creature and as long as the creature carries the melinoe’s token, the creature takes a -4 penalty to its Wisdom score and gains a +4 insight bonus on all Bluff, Craft, and Perform checks. A bard who has a melinoe for a muse in this way can use his bardic performance for an additional number of rounds per day equal to his melinoe muse’s Charisma modifier (usually 7), but only for the fascinate, suggestion, dirge of doom, frightening tune, and mass suggestion bardic performances. The melinoe retains a link to her token and its carrier as if she had cast a status spell on the carrier, and can target the carrier with any of her spell-like abilities no matter the distance between them. The melinoe can end this effect at any time as a free action. A single melinoe may only inspire one creature at a time in this manner.
Madness (Su)
Anyone targeting a melinoe with a thought detection, mind control, or telepathic effect makes direct contact with its tortured mind and takes 1d4 points of Wisdom damage. If the melinoe is subject to the spell calm emotions, she is stunned for one round and her insane beauty and ever-shifting form abilities are suppressed for the duration of the stun.
Shades of Madness (Su)
Once per day, as a standard action, a melinoe can call into being 1d3 allips.
Unearthly Grace (Su)
A melinoe adds her Charisma modifier as a racial bonus on all her saving throws, and as a deflection bonus to her Armor Class.
ECOLOGY
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, trio, or coven (melinoe witch 4, 1-3 melinoe, 1-4 lampads)
Treasure standard


Melinoe are nymphs who have been tormented in the Abyss until madness suffused their very forms. They are beautiful and terrible to behold, their perfect skin shifting between black and white like the phases of the moon, occasionally glowing bright with light or discorporating entirely into shadow. Melinoe delight in spreading madness, nurturing it in others as they would have once nurtured a sacred spring or grove. They like to appear before those whose willpower has been chipped away by trauma or betrayal in order to guide them further along the path to madness. Unusually powerful melinoe might take levels in witch, gathering together a coven of lampads and other melinoe.

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-your krokopeplon d20 despot

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