Monday, August 28, 2017

Monster Monday: Yara-Ma-Yha-Who - He Eats You When You're Sleeping

"Get up, young lazybones! Do not sleep under the fig tree! Did I not tell you who lives up there? I didn't? Well, I'm telling you now, so listen up and listen good! You want to grow up big and tall, right? Then don't do what I did. 
   "I used to be tall when I was younger. Taller than your father, in fact. Don't laugh, it's true. But I was lazy, like you, and I often stole away to nap in the shade of the fig tree instead of helping with the work. One day I woke up from my nap and found my skin had grown redder. I thought it was a sunburn, but it could not have been. See, even my back was redder! And when I went home, my mother thought I was shorter. And I had these round wounds on my neck. Father thought they were bug bites, but they were not from any bug we knew.
   "It was a long while before I fell asleep under the fig trees again. The next time I did, I woke up even redder and even shorter than before! I was even shorter than my old mum now! Well, I did not want this to happen again, but I did want to know what had done it to me, so I came up with a plan.
   "One day, when the sun was high in the sky, I went to the fig grove and pretended to sleep. I waited and waited, and sure enough, something came down out of the tree. It wasn't a bug, it was a little man - yea high - and bright red all over. He had a big head like an overripe fig, and a big mouth, and suckers on his fingers and toes like the suckers of the octopi we see at the beach. It came down the tree head-first, and as it opened its mouth to swallow me up, I leapt to grab it. I brought a sack with me, and I tried to wrestle it into the sack so that I could bring it back to the village to show everyone. But it escaped and ran up the tree and out of sight.
   "I think if it had swallowed me one more time, I would be just as short and just as red as it was. Think, I might even have turned into one myself! Do you wonder, now, why an old man like me is always going about his work, even in the hot sun? And why you never catch me napping here in the shade? It could happen to you too, boy! So get off your lazy butt and get back to work!"
Today's Monster Monday is the yara-ma-yha-who, a strange creature from Aboriginal Australian mythology. The yara-ma-yha-who is a short man with bright red skin, a round, oversized head, and sucker-tipped fingers and toes. It preys on victims who fall asleep under its tree, draining blood with its suckers and swallowing its victims whole. It does not eat those whom it swallows, though. It regurgitates them, leaving them redder and shorter than before. If an individual is swallowed and regurgitated enough times by a yara, it becomes one!

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monster Monday: Hagfish - Jawless Slime Eels

Today's Monster Monday is the hagfish, a jawless fish that bites with rasping tooth-plates, ties itself into a knot in order to pull chunks of flesh off its prey, and can turn the water around it into slime. It sounds like the larva of an aboleth or some other primeval aberration, but it is 100% real and 200% gross.

Myxine glutinosa, from Les Poissons (1877) by Gervais and Boulart, via Wikimedia
Hagfish recently made the news when a truckload of them spilled out onto a highway in Oregon, coating the road and nearby cars in thick slime. This reminded me of a note that I made years ago in my ever-growing list of monsters to stat up: 'Giant hagfish that swarm ships.'  Normal hagfish have already been statted up (well, cat-sized versions of normal hagfish), but presented below are 10-foot giant hagfish and a writhing hagfish swarm. If you want to see a real-life hagfish swarm in action, check out this video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A hagfish swarm can pose a danger to adventurers in the water. They might be attracted by a recent kill that the party made, tearing into the flesh of the corpse and the heroes alike. Giant hagfish are even more dangerous, as they can tear open the hull of a ship to get at the food inside. Imagine the horror as the adventurers go belowdecks in a ship only to find it flooded with seawater, slime, and squirming eels feasting on livestock and sailors.

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

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monster Monday: Vampiric Skeleton

Today's Monster Monday is the vampiric skeleton, a skeleton that sucks blood. These aren't the skeletons of vampires: that's not how vampires work. But they could be the skeletons of a vampire's victims, or creatures who died in a vampire's evil castle, or just of beings who were buried in a particularly evil area charged with necrotic energies.

This is a variant of the skeleton template, so it can be applied to anything that has a skeleton. Blood-sucking ogre skeleton? Sure! Vampiric skeletal wyvern? Sounds good to me. Bloodthirsty badger bones? Yeah, okay, but the alliteration might be a bit much.

Presented below are the vampiric skeleton variant template and two example vampiric skeletons: a human and a dire wolf.

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

This human skeleton has been deformed by dark energies. Sharp fangs grow from its gaping mouth.
Vampiric Skeleton, Human   CR 1/2
XP 200
NE Medium undead
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+2 armor, +2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 6 (1d8+2)
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; +4 channel resistance
DR 5/bludgeoning; Immune cold, undead traits
Vulnerability sunlight destruction
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +2 (1d4+2), bite -3 (1d6+1 plus blood drain)
Special Attacks blood drain (1d2 Con)
Str 15, Dex 10, Con --, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Improved InitiativeB
Gear broken chain shirt
Blood Drain (Ex)
When a vampiric skeleton hits with its bite attack, or if it grapples a foe, it inflicts 1d2 points of Constitution damage on its target. The vampiric skeleton heals 5 hit points or gains 5 temporary hit points for 1 hour (up to a maximum number of temporary hit points equal to its full normal hit points) each round it drains blood.
Sunlight Destruction (Su)
When a vampiric skeleton is exposed to direct sunlight (not the effects of daylight or similar spells), it cannot attack and is staggered. On every subsequent round of exposure, the vampiric skeleton takes 1d4 points of fire damage.
Environment any
Organization any
Treasure none