Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shattered Sky - Creature catalysts

One thing I always loved about the D&D game back in the days of my misspent youth was how so many of the monsters were just so obviously designed around specific encounters and dungeon environments. From perfectly 10'x10' gelatinous cubes to lurkers above and trappers that blended perfectly with dungeon floors and ceilings to snare the unwary adventurers. I am also a big fan of puns and other wordplay. Tarantella, anyone?

Dance, you rube!


It isn't long before I start compiling setting-specific notes on existing monsters, coming up with variants, and crafting my own more-or-less original critters. By way of example, I leave you with these rough notes (A-M).

Basilisk, Noble: Large dark green (almost black) reptile with a silvery or golden crest and a venomous bite.
Basilisk, Slow: Necromantic construct fashioned from an animated basilisk skeleton with the preserved eyes of the creature. Its gaze slows a target, otherwise it is an undead skeleton. A few actually paralyze like a ghoul by gaze. They are utterly silent and never make any sound.

Barrow-Worm: Large, pale worm with a human-like face, a lamprey mouth, and two small arms, Has a hairless human form with vampiric qualities. Drains blood and 2 levels per strike. Attempt to paralyze by gaze. Regenerates damage and may reattach severed parts. If reduced to 0 hit points, it falls apart into a wriggling mass of pale worms. Slain victims rise as ghouls.

Bat, Barrow: Essentially an undead bat with the properties of a wight - except that a creature slain by the barrow bat does not later rise as a wight. Larger than a normal bat and sickly pale, with green glowing eyes.
Bat, Thunder: The cry of this huge bat creates a clap of thunder.

Beetle, Giant (general): Some primitive humanoids use giant beetle mandibles in making weapons.
Beetle, Fire: Some humanoids smear fire beetle glands on their weapons to make them glow as a light source, or to impress the gullible. Some also use the glowing paste on themselves as a kind of luminous war paint.
Beetle, Oil: In addition to being caustic, the oil is highly flammable. Some humanoids use the oil in attacks or traps.
Beetle, Razorwing: This giant beetle has a carapace over its wings with sharp edges that slice like blades. The monster will closely resemble another, more common, giant beetle type so as to disguise its blade attack for maximum surprise.
Beetle, Tomb: Fond of carrion and undead flesh, this aggressive giant beetle type has acquired the undead
properties of the ghoul, including paralysis on a successful attack.

Boar, Scimitar: This massive beast has long, curving tusks that pierce and cut like blades.

Bog Biter: Giant hopping frog-like creature with alligator-like jaws and powerful tail.

Carrion Crawler: The paralyzing venom is sometimes used by primitive humanoids as a weapon.

Cave Locust: Some primitive humanoids use cave locust spit as a weapon.

Centaur: A variety of fae with the lower body of a tiny deer and the upper body of a pixie. Fast, quiet, and shy. Prodigious leaps and painful kicks. Camouflaged.

Centipede, Giant: The venom is often used by primitive humanoids as a weapon. It can also be found in civilized lands as a poison.

Dragon, Firebog: Maroon and black. Lairs in tarry swamps, often with sulfurous hot springs. Breath weapon of acidic Greek fire - a kind of burning sticky acid.
Dragon, Indigo: Cold fire breath weapon. Acts exactly as fire, but with cold damage. Lairs in seaside caves in cold climates.
Dragon, Violet: Inhabits desert mountains and canyons. Heat lightning breath weapon that does electrical damage and ignites combustibles.
Dragon, Winterstorm: Pale blue with white highlights. Lives in cold deserts. Breath weapon of a freezing cloud crackling with electricity.

Dragon, Dungeon: Dragons in Shattered Sky may adapt quickly and totally to just about any environment and the "dungeon dragon" has made subterranean passages and chambers its home. Some explorers balk at encountering an ancient red dragon lounging upon a pile of treasure in a 20'x20' room. These adventurers have never dealt with a dungeon dragon - but they're about to.

Sinuous and flexible, the dungeon dragon rarely has the sheer bulk of the standard dragon types, but it does often know more magic. These dragons have four legs, no wings, and are shaped much like the dragons of Asian art and legend. All dungeon dragons can see in darkness, even the magical kind. They climb sheer surfaces and squeeze through openings suited to smaller creatures. Their front claws are as manipulative as human hands.

The six types of dungeon dragon are: Crypt Dragon, Fissure Dragon, Grotto Dragon, Maze Dragon, Pit Dragon, and Vault Dragon.

Crypt: Entirely black, even to the eyes and teeth. Noxious weakening gas breath weapon. Chaotic.
Fissure: Maroon in color. Hot ash cloud breath weapon. Neutral.
Grotto: Indigo colored. Freezing fog breath weapon. Neutral.
Maze: Pale yellow. Heat lightning breath weapon. Neutral.
Pit: Slate gray. Caustic web breath weapon. Chaotic.
Vault: Gray-green. Crystallizing sleet breath weapon. Lawful.

Dryad: Enchant wooden objects by touch. Can also try to control wooden magic items by touch, as well as plant creatures or wooden constructs of at least their own size category by entering the bodies of such targets. What appears to be a graveyard of ancient wooden statuary is actually a dryad wrecking yard.
Dryad, Tainted: Inhabiting a tree that has been afflicted with some (possibly magical) blight or other ailment, the dryad has become a twisted and bitter creature. Some of these dryads inhabit tainted treants (see below).

Elemental, Water (variant): Sewage elemental that is like a foul water elemental with stench and disease.

Fish, Giant: Coastal towns or settlements thrive upon fishing giant specimens of fish and shellfish.

Flutterpotamus: A tiny bluish hippo with undersized butterfly wings that it really doesn't need to fly. Good-aligned but typically grumpy. Will have a squeaky roar that affects each creature in range randomly, according to a d6 roll. Possible effects include Hold, Silence, Sleep, Levitate, and other non-lethal spells. They can speak but rarely do so.

Gargoyle: Defender of holy (or unholy) places and sanctums. Appearance varies according to religious edict and tenet.
Gargoyle, Obsidian: Sleek and fast, with fiery breath weapon.

Gelatinous Cube, Necrojelly: This insidious ooze dissolves the flesh from a victim, leaving behind the intact skeleton - which it then animates. The skeletons are coated with a thin layer of jelly that they transmit upon a successful hit. These skeletons cannot travel far from their host cube and tend to fall apart easily.

Ghoul Lord: A particularly ancient ghoul that has developed the ability to control other ghouls in much the same way a cleric turns undead. As a 5th level cleric against 3HD undead. 2d6 ghouls controlled. Cannot control more than 12 ghouls at any time. AC: 4, HD: 5, Dam: 1-3/1-3/1-6, Save: F5. Paralysis affects even elves.

Giant (Jotun): Like a Norse version of a Titan (Immortals Rules or Monster Manual), these ancient and powerful giants are often worshipped by other giants and three of the most powerful form a secret ruling council over all evil giants. These individuals resemble particularly large and savage frost giants - which they pretend to be.
Giant, Cloud: Prefer to dwell "above it all" in cloud castles or the highest mountain peaks - often serving as liaisons or traders with air elementals and djinn. The clouds that support a cloud giant's castle are not of a single consistency - being solid as ground hear the structures being supported, but semisolid (like quicksand) further out, and often entirely ephemeral nearer the edges.    
Giant, Frost: Particularly ancient individuals, or those of great lineage, will have cold- and weather-related abilities and rival storm giants in power..
Giant, Storm: Possibly nothing more than particularly ancient frost giants and true jotuns. Add some frost giant traits. Exceedingly rare and isolated, possibly true jotuns that have distanced themselves from lesser giantkind and their affairs

Golem, Basilisk: Animated stone basilisk that has been petrified by its own gaze.
Golem, Door: Usually a wood-and-metal construct serving as an interactive door, most likely into an important room or area.
Golem, Threshold: A paired duo of golems that serve to hold a pair of doors or to guard an open doorway.

Golem, Ooze
Golem, Black: Like a clay golem made from black pudding. A strong, humanoid black pudding.
Golem, Gray: Like a clay golem made from gray ooze. A strong, humanoid gray ooze.
Golem, Green: Like a clay golem made from green slime. A strong, humanoid green slime.

Griffon: Variant that is half lion and half phoenix. A golden and red griffon that can burst into flames at will.

Hexie: a kind of malicious pixie witch that bestows nasty curses.

Hippogriff: Variant that is half eagle and half nightmare.

Hobgoblin Khan: Near-divine hobgoblin warlord from an ancient bloodline. Powered by family honor, ancestral spirits, personal renown, and the adoration of his troops. Probably a thoul.

Kobold: Employ group tactics and two may occupy a single square without penalty.
Kobold Fungimancer: A large underground warren may contain a "fungimancer" who functions much like a
fungus-based druid-alchemist-necromancer. The fungimancer crafts poisons and items of natural magic, employs fungus monsters as allies (such as green slime, shriekers, violet fungi, and yellow mold) as well as reanimating the remains of the dead by means of fungal alchemy.
White Kobold: A savage throwback with white fur, red eyes, and oversized jaws with strong, sharp teeth, this breed of kobold possesses a significant bite attack. Many are cannibalistic and will devour any living creature that falls prey to their teeth and claws.
Campaign Hook: While there are kobold ranks above chieftain, these individuals are rare in the extreme. Still, an upstart kobold lord (actually a runty gnoll outcast from his own tribe) tries to unite a number of warrens under his banner of conquest in a bid to forge himself a true kingdom.
Campaign Hook: Possibly associated with the previous hook, a kobold (or possibly a goblin) uses a lucky find of magic items to rule a small dungeon area. Possibly a Ring of Animal Control and Ring of Fire Resistance or Invisibility. Also the possibility of Gauntlets of Ogre Power and maybe even a Wand of Paralyzation that he's figured out how to use.

Laufyr: Lycanthropic werebat taking the form of a gaunt human or a giant bat. Similar powers to a Devil Swine - often mistaken for a vampire.

Lizard Man: Some will possess a camouflage ability like that of a chameleon. Others may display traits found with other giant lizards. Tribe that worships a black dragon skeleton.
Lizard Man, Lycanthrope: Some rare forms of lycanthropy affect lizard men and werecrocodiles or wereserpents are most common.
Lizard Man, Variant: Slightly larger and more dangerous variant known as a Gator Man. Lizard Man with alligator traits: tail slap and a bite attack.
Lizard Man, Witch: Found in the Crowfen, this female witch is named Soshali and is a frequent ally of the black hag, Ivara, and she seeks to become a hag herself. Rumors tell of Soshali, the Witch of Crowfen, but do not mention her species. She has shambling mounds as allies and seems to have some control over will o' wisps in the swamp.

Lupogriff: Body of a wolf, with the head, forelegs, and wings of an eagle.

Lycanthrope, Werebull: Often hulking and placid in human form, these weres are easily provoked into savage attacks. In their man-like transitional form, werebulls are often mistaken for minotaurs.
Lycanthrope, Wererat (Plague Lord): Ancient and powerful wererat that transmits a disease much like that of giant rats, instead of lycanthropy. Also has a disease-laden gaseous breath weapon that can be used 3x/day. Stench like a troglodyte. Able to control rats, giant rats, and wererats.

Men, Bandit: Group of bandits that wear hoods made from beast or monster pelts to make them look like monstrous humanoids.
Men, Organ Grinder: A colorful NPC with one or more trained monkeys that steal from onlookers on behalf of the organ grinder. The organ grinder is essentially a skilled animal trainer with thieving tendencies.
Men, Tinker: Traveling tinker offer to repair equipment or identify/appraise items.  

Minotaur: Sometimes inhabit natural outdoor labyrinths of chasms and fissures.

Mustard Jelly: A poisonous ochre jelly.

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