Wednesday, June 24, 2020

D&D: Death in the Night

Here’s a new creature that, as far as I know, has not yet been described as an RPG monster (correct me if I’m wrong). Definitely far-eastern in style, this one concerns both Calidar and the mysterious world of Lao-Kwei. Your PCs may come to fear and hate them. Game stats are written for D&D BECMI.

            Also known as dark ophidians, the Bào shé (豹蛇) possess the lower bodies of large snakes, human-like torsos and arms covered with short fur, and the heads of black panthers. A powerful sorcerer in faraway Lao-Kwei had bred these creatures to assassinate greedy imperial officials. For all their troubles, the empress cast a forever curse upon their kind that they may never again enjoy the light of day. After taking revenge upon their creator for their somber fates, they fled Lao-Kwei to escape imperial bounties posted there for their eradication.
            Their flight took them through a malfunctioning Kahuulkin portal. Their skyship materialized close to the ground on Calidar whereupon they crashed. Survivors found a cavern where they could hide during the day, and they eventually reproduced. The Bào shé are content to be left to their devices, but their nature compels them to hunt and slay those who defy them. They dwell in the Uplands of Aghea’s tropical savanna, 2,500 miles southeast of the Great Caldera.

            Over time, they established several independent clans jealously guarding their territories against other sapient races, usually marauding fellfolk, occasional humanoid remnants of a past Ghülean raid, or wayward Calderans. Exceedingly rare are foreigners trading with the Bào shé, let alone enjoying their nefarious services. They’ve come to dislike Felisean visitors the least. The existence of these ancient creatures has so far escaped the notice of present-day Lao-Kweian rulers whom the dark ophidians hate above all.
            Clan strongholds are indistinguishable from rocky bluffs in the veldt. Their true natures and their gates only appear under moonlight. Save for their sentinels, the Bào shé sleep during the day in dwellings carved out of the region’s natural sandstone. They come out at night to hunt and to patrol their vast territories stretching from the shores on the Sound of Az to the Sea of Gormon.

Bào shé: AC 4 (unarmored), HD 4***, 18 hp, MV 90 (30’), AT 1 bite/2 claws or 1 weapon, D bite 1d8/claws 1d4 each or by weapon, Save T5, Str 8+, Dex 13+, Con 8+, Int 8+, Wis 8+, Cha –2 penalty vs. other races, ML 9, AL Varies (usually Chaotic or Neutral*), Size: M (5½-6’ tall, 12’ long tail,) XP 225.
            Abilities: As a thief level 5 including backstab, although hide in shadows success odds are 66% (+1 per HD above 4); dimension door between shadows (see description below); spellcasting elders with 10+ HD are known to have existed on Lao-Kwei and are thought to have been exterminated. (*) In games that also consider the good vs. evil ethos, any alignment but Good is acceptable depending on the clan’s philosophy.

            The erstwhile enchantment bestowed upon the ancestral ones still runs deep in today’s Bào shé. It enables them to move through shadows nearly at will. This stealthy movement extends from one shadowy area to another within direct line of sight up to 150’. This ability can be used repeatedly, once per combat round, as long as the Bào shé succeeds a Con Check; if one fails, the ability can no longer be used until after proper rest is obtained. Shadowy areas are defined as those spots in which a thief may attempt to hide. Each move is considered a full action, although a hide in shadows roll is allowed upon arrival.
            Dark ophidians also know the ancient ritual of spectral blades. A Bào shé can only ever own one such weapon at any single time. With a successful attack, the blade disintegrates and its wielder steals the victim’s soul (no save). The stricken foe’s body is still alive, but in a catatonic state until it starves or falls prey to some other peril. The stolen soul remains inside its captor’s body who can then can access its memories (but not its skills). If either a Bào shé or its victims are killed, stolen souls fade into the netherworld (or return to their bodies, if still alive). A catatonic victim can be kept alive indefinitely with a daily healing spell.
            The ancient enchantment is such that if a captor holds nine souls at any single time, it vanishes from Calidar and reappears inside the abandoned abode of the Bào shé’s original creator on Lao-Kwei. Others have already made it to this ancestral birthplace. They gather their forces there to strike down the now-deceased monarch’s present dynasty and its heirs following a legendary prediction that "whensoever the ancient empress's blood be extinct, shall the forever curse be forfeit." It is the reason why dark ophidians do not slay victims of spectral blades; rather than abandoning survivors to the outrages of wildlife, the Bào shé occasionally leave their victims’ bodies near a village so they may be kept alive.
            Spectral blades are +2 magical weapons. Dark ophidians are known to craft other enchanted items through ancient rituals, such as various potions, magical rings, smoke bombs, paralyzing poisons, and powerful narcotics. They use equipment normally allowed for thieves such as swords, daggers, throwing stars, short bows, blowguns, leather armor, (etc.) as well as certain specialty items like war claws, flying claws, steel fans, nunchakus, chain whips, dragon beard hooks, and rope darts.
            As the result of the empress’s forever curse, direct sunlight (whether natural or magical) prevents the Bào shé’s shadow movement, inflicts 1d4 hp of damage per hour of exposure, and instantly disintegrates unsheathed spectral blades (no save). Dark ophidians suffering exposure also incur a –2 penalty to their hit rolls, to their saving throws, and to their initiative rolls.

Source: The map was cropped and altered from the revised climate chart by Thorfinn Tait, available as a poster map on DTRPG ©2019 Bruce A. Heard. The Lao-Kwei setting was introduced in Calidar’s CAL1 In Stranger Skies, page 54. The Bào shé as fantasy creatures and their realm is original content ©2020 Bruce A. Heard.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

D&D: How Big is That Gold Coin?

After an earlier article about economics (see D&D: How Much for That Sword?) I looked into the actual values of metals and coins—a huge topic to be sure. There are plenty of articles on the subject, including this one which I thought was the most complete (click here: Gold & Silver Coinage in Fantasy/Medieval RPGs, by Charles D. Hail ©2010). I’m sure you’ll find more. Given the plethora of well-written material, I didn’t feel compelled to reinvent the wheel.

Coins of Caldwen
            On the other hand, along the lines of obscure and largely useless knowledge, there is a remaining point that hasn’t been looked into, as far as I know. If we're cool with the game’s premise, a D&D BECMI coin weighs 1/10th of a pound. It doesn’t say what kind of coin though, therefore one must assume that All coins weigh the same, since coins are also the standard measure of encumbrance (cn). I bet you can already see where I’m going with this.

Coins of Meryath
            If the coins all weigh the same, their physical sizes must differ because metals have different densities (you knew that, right?): gold is heavier than silver, and silver outweighs copper, etc. Out of curiosity, I wanted to find out approximately how big a bag of 1,000 coins should be, depending on the coins. I think I got the math right, but please do correct me if I goofed. Thank you.

Coins of Alfdaín
Assumptions: The contents of a bag form an approximate sphere. About 20% of the space inside a bag is empty because old coins are somewhat rough edged, some may bulge, or they lie inside the bag at different angles. The coin volumes come from calculators you can find on Google. Bag sizes express the contents’ approximate diameter. So, at 9” across, a bag is assumed to be full and taller than it is wide, possibly 9x15 overall.

Coin Sizes (all weighing 1/10th pound)
Coin Type
1 Coin
1,000 Coins
Bag Capacity
Bag Size
5,074 mm³
37.9 mm
4.5 mm
6,088 cm³
23 cm
1.49 inch
0.18 inch
9 inches
4,321 mm³
37.1 mm
4 mm
5,185 cm³
21 cm
1.46 inch
0.16 inch
8½ inches
2,352 mm³
31.6 mm
3 mm
2,823 cm³
18 cm
1.24 inch
0.12 inch
7 inches
2,112 mm³
29.9 mm
3 mm
2,535 cm³
17 cm
1.18 inch
0.12 inch
62/3 inches

Coins of Caldwen
            So, all things considered, that copper coin is pretty large compared with a US quarter (24 mm across or just under an inch) or its thickness (2mm, or 0.08 of an inch). At 4.5 mm thickness, it’s a chunk, but despair not: plenty of coins in the real world were thicker than this. Take for example Russia’s 1771 copper coin (the “Sestroretsk” rouble; see below) measuring 78mm diameter and a whopping 35mm thickness. That’s not a coin, it’s a paperweight! You can kill someone with that.

Coins of Alfdaín
            The funny thing is, a 6.66” bag of platinum coins technically has the same “encumbrance” as a 9” bag of copper coins, since they weigh the same—according to D&D game mechanics at least. Thought you might want to know about this obscure and largely useless fact.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

D&D: How Much for that Sword?

So, you thought your character did OK with that 10 gp “normal” sword, eh? Hello, you got ripped off! 

A question came up recently about why PCs using straight by-the-book D&D BECMI game mechanics should bother using a battle axe, which requires both hands to wield, rather than a sword since they both inflict the same amount of damage. The answer was that battle axe’s useful weight is concentrated at the outer end of its shaft, which demands both hands to wield effectively. Compared to this, the sword’s weight is balanced closer to its handle and is therefore much more practical to wield single-handedly, but it’s also more expensive to forge. Either because of their cost or whether swords are limited by law to nobility (depending on the DM’s game world), swords might simply not be available to level 1 characters. In most games I’ve played, nobody pays attention to such minutia. PCs start with a lot more money than they should, provided gold is an issue at all! But let’s look further into this, in terms of economics and effects on game play.

Economics: The toughest part is establishing how money might work, given the generally fuzzy data on wealth and manufacturing in real world Middle Ages. The first thing to establish is a medieval “minimum wage” for workers in a way that can be easily translated into a D&D game. The concept is that minimum wage reflects the basic cost of food needed to survive (not including the costs of all other things like clothing, a place to live, and some entertainment, let alone savings). The chart below demonstrates the daily basic cost of food, assuming a loaf of bread costs 3 coppers (based on the cost of bread in 1300’s England—3 pence). Whether 3 English pence are really worth 3 D&D coppers remains to be proven, but I’ll establish this value as a baseline for the game, however arbitrary, provided everything else is priced accordingly, such as an adventurer’s equipment.

Cost of “Survival”
Servings per Loaf of Bread
Entire Loaf (1½ pound)
1,440 Calories
Average male worker requires 2,500 calories per day
loaves of bread per day
"Established" cost for
1 loaf of bread =
copper pieces
Minimum "survival" income =
copper pieces per day

Manufacturing a Sword: The next step is to get a better understanding of what it takes of make “a sword.” In a game like BECMI, such details as workmanship and how they affect gameplay are entirely brushed aside for the sake of simplicity. Nonetheless, let’s not lose sight of that crucial issue.
            A cheap, somewhat rudimentary sword, the sort a cash-strapped level 1 PC ought to look for, requires about a week’s work involving a blacksmith and two snot-nosed helpers, neither much more than apprentices in this profession. The chart below hashes out some numbers.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

D&D: Eyes in the Mist

Here is someone not to be monkeyed with, offered here with D&D BECMI game stats. The inspiration is directly grounded in the Mystic character class. Feel free to transplant/ape into a game world other than Calidar, using correct abilities for a fighting monk, as appropriate to your chosen game mechanics. Definitely a chimp off the old block.

Old Ape by Yang Qi ©2014-2020 Yang Qi
Hanāi: AC 3 (unarmored), HD 3****, 15 hp, MV 170’ (60’)/150’ (50’) in trees, AT 1, D 1d6+1 barehanded or by weapon, Save My4, Str 8+, Dex 13+, Con 8+, Int 8+, Wis 13+, Cha –1 penalty vs. other races, ML 9, AL Varies, Size: M (5½-6 ft. tall,) XP 95.
            Abilities: As a level 4 mystic (see RC pp. 29-31), including improved AC, MV, AT, Dmg (can hit foe requiring +1 magic), fighter combat options, acrobatics, thief skills, and special class powers (awareness and heal self). Racial abilities include shape-changing and clairvoyance. Shape-Changing: x1 daily; human-like only; cannot imitate a specific individual’s facial traits but can easily pass off as someone of another race with approximately the same size (human, elf, half-elf, half-orc if available in the chosen game world). The Hanāi can return to its native form at any time, forcibly upon death or if subject to a dispel magic. Clairvoyance: x1 daily; similar to a clairvoyance spell.
            The Hanāi incurs the same restrictions as standard mystics (as regards armor and protective magical devices). It uses its feet (with opposable thumbs) and its prehensile tail to help move quickly through the forest canopy.

            Many centuries ago, the Hanāi possessed a large realm that had emerged during a period of weakness in the Dread Lands. Alas, a Ghülean epidemic nearly wiped them out. Legends tell of some who fled as far as the great mountains of southern Omfall, growing thick white fur to survive. Others wandered deep below ground or to the Kalataazi Desert and were never heard of again. Over time, scattered groups returned to the ruins of their abandoned realm in the Taslan Peninsula, careful not to anger the spirits of nature which had reasserted their dominion upon this land. Elders learned the rituals to appease spirits of nature in order to gather what people needed to live.
            Their villages today consist of bamboo-built abodes dangling from very large tree branches, interconnected with rope bridges. Invasive vegetation has overtaken ancient stone-built stupas and prangs—tall, spire-shaped, heavily adorned shrines. Those still standing have been cleared of debris and wild growth on the inside and below ground save for the largest roots. The forest canopy hides much of those ruins from above.
            Fragments of paved roads, once-royal stairways, bridges, and statues blend in with the rain forest. It is said that the Hanāi possess a bond with primates. Elders and adventurers of their kind know how to communicate with apes, monkeys, and other simian creatures who often serve as spies and watch over Hanāi tombs.

Source: The map was cropped and altered from the revised climate chart by Thorfinn Tait, available as a poster map on DTRPG. Ghüle is an alien world; source material is located in CC1 "Beyond the Skies," pp. 244-245. As a fantasy creature and its realm, the Hanāi is original content developed for the author's blog ©2020 Bruce A. Heard.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

D&D: Thought Giant Crocs Were Bad?

As monsters raise their not-so-comely heads from the murk of faraway wilderness, the opportunity to peer at different regions of Calidar presents itself. Here’s an example. Let me know if you want more of this. Monster stats are written for D&D BECMI. If you’re not into Calidar, feel free to cannibalize. A nasty critter is a nasty critter, no matter the chosen game world.

Artwork by Howard Lyon via Muddy Colors ©2015 Blizzard Entertainment (presumably)

Crocotaur: AC 3 (unarmored), HD 8****, 40 hp, MV 90’ (30’)/90’ (30’) swimming, AT 1 bite/4 claws/1 tail or 1 spell, D bite 2d8/claws 1d6 each/tail 2d6 or by spell, Save F8, Str 16, Dex 9, Int 8-10, Wis 9-13, ML 10, AL Chaotic, Size: L (10’+ tall, 3,000 Lbs.) XP 2,850.
            Abilities: Spellcasting as a Level 6 Cleric—Levels I-II x2 each, Level III x1. Night vision, detect drawn blood within a 300’ radius; sense movement underwater within 30’ radius; bite lock (see description); surprise a foe near the water’s edge with a roll of 1-2 on a d6 when attacking from beneath the surface.

            A demigod known as Dramongul once attempted to establish a swamp realm on Calidar, along the Sea of Gormon's eastern coast. Part lizardman and crocodile, Dramongul’s people are well adapted to their natural environment. Successful at first, they triggered their civilization’s doom after disturbing the Dread Lands and attempting to fight back. Challenged by colossal forces of nature, Dramongul fled the prime plane. With their dark temples ruined and their kind nearly wiped out, survivors found refuge on two swampy islands near the coast, each about 140 miles across. Partially submerged, their fortified dwellings hide under the canopy of mosquito-infested, mossy jungle. They form two rival kingdoms blaming each other for the demise of their once-powerful theocracy. Each side also holds a piece of an artifact that could weaken the Dread Lands enough to enable reestablishing the old theocracy, if ever they were reassembled. With neither side wishing to relinquish its sacred relic, a state of war prevails among the two neighboring islands.

            Their dwellings are typically unlit and consist of partially flooded chambers and underwater corridors. Entrances are usually located beneath the surface. Crocotaurs can stay submerged up to 30mn if active, or 2 hours if hiding or lying in ambush. Their writing consists of claw-engraved bones, calabashes, and soft stones. Such engravings can be their version of clerical scrolls. Crocotaurs know how to brew potions and other potent beverages. They dislike fire and fear lightning bolts (–2 penalty to their Morale checks if one is cast at them).
            If its damage is average or better, a bite is strong enough to lock on to its prey. To release its hold, the crocotaur must be killed or made to fail a Morale check and flee. A locked bite automatically inflicts 1d6 damage per turn; it enables the crocotaur to drag a man-size victim underwater (moving 20’ per round on the ground or at full speed underwater), and bestows a +2 bonus to hit with its four front claws. The tail attack can only reach foes behind or beside the creature; if incurring average or greater damage, its victim must succeed a saving throw or be stunned (effect: move at 1/3 MV, can’t attack or cast spells, –2 penalty to both AC and saves). Unencumbered crocotaurs can run at 90’/round when on solid ground.
            Some favor combat equipment when fighting on the ground, such as woven-bamboo tusked shields, bone helmets adorned with monstrous horns, javelins (2-3 strapped on back), or melee weapons made of ironwood (a cleaver or a fang-studded mace). Shield-bearing crocotaur’s are AC 2. Their tusked shields can inflict 1d6+2 damage (on shield-bearing side only); melee weapons inflict 1d8+2 damage; javelins are usually thrown (range: 30/60/90) and inflict 1d6+2 damage. All physical attacks are held back and weapons set aside when casting spells. Crocotaurs aren’t known to use bows and other non-thrown missile weapons, but may nonetheless produce magical equipment of a clerical nature.

Source Material: The geographic chart was cropped and altered from the climate map in Calidar’s CAL1 “In Stranger Skies,” pg. 71. The demigod came from the list of monstrous deities in CC1 “Beyond the Skies,” pg. 241. The crocotaur itself is original content developed for the author’s blog.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

D&D Demon Devourer

An unusual and colorful D&D critter that feeds on demons and may join knights protecting unsoiled mana sources from those who would abuse them. A tad obscure if you're not into the Calidar world, it remains nonetheless a cool creature to retain in a DM's arsenal.

Foreground: Fu Lion by CaziTena © 2012-2020 CaziTena (altered by the author)
Background: Desert Cave Ruins by wwsketch © 2015-2020 wwsketch (altered by the author)
Mana Lion*: AC –3 (unarmored), HD 18********, MV 150’ (50’), AT 1 bite/2-4 paws or 1 spell, D bite 3d10+2/paws 2d8+1 each or by spell, Save F18; Size L (20’ long, 5,600 lbs.)—Int 14, ML 11, AL Neutral, XP 12,855.
            Abilities: Spellcasting as a magic-user—levels I-II x3 each, levels III-IV x2 each; all abilities of mage-knights (see CAL2, pg. 98); natural cat-like senses; if both front paws hit, two more attacks may be performed with the two rear paws; move silently (100% chances); detect magic at will; bite may cause mana disease; regenerates fully in 2 hours.
            Immunities: Mana sickness, weapons less than +2 enchantment, mind-affecting attacks, poison, and energy drain; spells level 3 or lower (or 25% anti-magic at the DM's option).

            In the flesh or in its native spirit form, a mana lion appears as a large, muscular feline with a red pelage and pearl-like eyes. Faint gold spots mark its short fur while its curly mane, thick brows, long-haired tail, and ample locks trailing from its limbs form long volutes of saffron light. The mana lion does not age and if it is killed, its spirit returns the World Soul at once.
            This massive 20-foot-long (26 with its tail stretched out), 5,600-lb feline can cast spells like a level 8 magic-user. It possesses all the special abilities of Shebbai knights and the senses of a cat. It can detect magic and move silently. A bite wound bears the same odds of the victim contracting mana sickness equivalent to a week-long stay inside a raw mana conduit (see CAL2, pg. 98). If the two front paw attacks succeed, extra attacks may be performed with its two hind legs. If all four attacks succeed, the mana lion drains an experience level or one HD from the victim (at the referee’s discretion). Its melee attacks and spells are potent enough to harm any demon, including archfiends. It is wholly immune to raw mana sickness as well as spells level 3 or lower, weapons with enchantments less than +2, mind-affecting magic, poison, and energy drain attacks. This fantastic beast also regenerates fully within 2 hours at most, or less than an hour if inside a mana conduit.
            If Shebbai knights befriended such a creature, it would fight alongside a combat unit (rather than an individual) usually to protect a source of mana. It would bestow upon its banner a special enchantment, thus making it a great honor among knights to carry it in battle. Mage-knights within 100 yards of a mana lion’s standard temporarily earn enough additional experience levels to increase their combat and spellcasting abilities, as well as a significant bonus to their Morale ratings. Great dishonor befalls a unit if its mana lion is slain in battle. In a non-Calidaran context, assume the mana lion would favor paladins on a worthy quest against to magic gone bad.
Shebbai Order

Source: The mana lion was originally introduced in CAL2 "On Wings of Darkness." The Shebbai knight is described in PG2 "A Players' Guide to Caldwen," although its special abilities are further detailed in CAL2, page 98. The Shebbai knight is a cross between a Templar knight and a magic-user. In a BECMI context, a standard "elf" class would work well in this role. Labyrinth Lord stats for both lion and knight are available in CAL2a "Conversion Guide to Caldwen for Vintage Roleplaying."

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Don't Badmouth the Sewers

Aside from grungy rats and dripping slimes, worse things lurk where skyships do not venture, presented here in D&D BECMI style.

Underground Sewer by AbstractLuva, Deviantart © 2013-2020 AbstractLuva

Longhand Description from CAL1
            Also known as the crapulous Alorean sewer mouther, this giant aquatic fungus grows at the bottom of a sewer chasm or a murky swamp lake. Up to a dozen barbed roots anchor its knobby, bulbous body under the surface of the water. A very long, muscular tentacle that can rise well past the surface grows on top. It supports a large knot of wriggling, slimy feelers ending with tiny suckers. A translucent core bulges at the center of the feelers.
            The sewer mouther feels vibrations in the ground and in the surrounding water. When it senses something, it sends its head to investigate. The translucent bulge can emit a powerful flash capable of stunning most creatures, or at least temporarily blinding them. If the feelers detect edible prey, they attach themselves to its flesh. Tiny thorns inside the suckers inject paralyzing venom. Once a victim is disabled, its blood and life force are gradually drained. If a prey is killed, its memories survive in the mouther’s fungal brain. The creature’s mental acuity is that of its smartest prey. Through its head’s translucent bulge, it can cast spells its victims had at their disposal at the time of their deaths.
            When facing multiple foes, the head may shoot up to twenty thorns before retreating under the water’s surface. If it is cut off, another regrows in a week. The mouther can generate an electrical discharge if its lower body is attacked. It can also use up to four of its barbed roots at a time to defend itself. At least four must remain imbedded in the muck below to anchor the creature.
            A particularly clever mouther can imper­sonate previous victims. It creates fungal doubles of them, and sends them out to interact with intruders. The mouther con­trols these simulacra through empathy. Merely ruses to lead foes into a trap, they are fairly weak, and their true natures become apparent if they sustain any dam­age. Simulacra can speak any of the lan­guages available to the original victims. The controlling mouther can see and hear through these doubles.

CAL1a Interpretation for Labyrinth Lord
            Body: AC 4 (natural armor), HD 10****, 50 hp, MV 30’ per hour, AT 1 electrical discharge or 1-4 barbed roots, D electrical discharge 10d6 once per day (save vs. spell for ½ damage) or barbed roots 1d6+1 each, Save F10; Size L—Int 1d4+4 or last victim's Int, ML n/a, AL Neutral, XP 4,000.
            Tentacle (1): AC 7 (natural armor), attacks as F5, 25 hp, MV nil (can reach 90’ from body), AT 1 flash or 1-20 thorns or 1 spell, D flash (stun) or thorn 1 hp each + paralysis (one per target/round; ranges: 20/30/40) or by spell; Size L, ML 7 (retracts into the body with a failed Morale Check).
            Abilities: The sewer mouther’s fungal brain lies inside its body; it is only subject to mind-affecting spells cast by druids. Inflicting 50 hp of damage to the body kills the creature. Inflicting 25 hp of damage to the tentacle and its feelers destroys the whole limb. It will not attack anyone more than 50’ from its body. Flash—all victims within 40’ of the tentacle’s edge are stunned unless they succeed their saving throws (effect: move at 1/3 MV, can’t attack or cast spells, –2 penalty to both AC and saves). Thorns—no attack roll is needed to hit a victim at point-blank range; treat as a ghoul’s paralysis (lasts 2d4 Turns). Feeding—suckers drain 2d4 hp per Turn from a paralyzed victim (no save); surviving victims may be infected with fungal spores (at the referee’s discretion). Spells—roll 2d4–1: result indicates the experience level of the previous spellcasting victim (magic-user spells only); which ones are cast is random. Barbed Roots—can whip or ensnare victims up to 20 ft. away. Simulacracan spawn 1-4 simulacra per day (see below).
            Simulacrum: AC 9, HD 1–1, 5hp, MV 90’ (30’), AT nil, D nil, Save F1; Size S or M—everything else as body; the creature controls its simulacra telepathically up to 100 yards away; can be used to communicate with the sewer mouther. XP nil.

Source: Original design from CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." Conversion for use with Labyrinth Lord in CAL1a "Conversion Guide to Meryath" (coming soon at DTRPG).

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Beware of the Malefactor!

Another creepy wretch, complete with bpa-free container, preserving fluids (guaranteed low sodium, no msg), maybe even a warning label, and ghoulish motivations to enliven your most deadly dungeon plots—presented here with pertinent D&D BECMI game stats.

"Hell Toupee"—Halloween/Horror/Political/Funny/Gag/Novelty/Décor/Prop

Jar Malefactor*: AC 4, HD 4**, 32 hp, MV flying only 90’ (30’), AT 1 bite/2 claws (if any), D bite 1d6+1 bite/claws 1d4 each, Save F4, Str 7, Dex 7, Int 14, ML 10, AL Chaotic, Size: S, XP 225.
            Abilities: Undead; can be Turned as a ghoul; immune to non-magical weapons and mind-affecting attacks; bites and claws carry rotting disease (as a mummy’s; saving throw negates); hides in shadows as thief level 18.

            Sealed in a jar filled with an alchemical solution, the dismembered corpse of a malformed, evil individual gradually became undead. The process often takes years or decades before the creature awakes, when its erstwhile spirit wanders back from the netherworld to its preserved remains. Tatters of its memories still lie inside its brain, along with the spirit’s malevolent ethos.
            Such jars are sometimes forgotten among others on a shelf in a lab, in an obscure museum, or in a seedy curio shop. Some are displayed as attractions in carnival creep shows, perhaps past criminals stolen from their graves. At night when no one watches, the ghastly being unscrews the jar from inside and wanders the vicinity in search of clues on its veiled past. It spies on persons of interest for days or months, gathering information about them. In a raspy whisper, it questions isolated individuals while hiding in shadows, and attempts to slay those who fail to provide the clues it hopes for. If unable to satisfy a deathly yearning, the malefactor breathes lies or harmful truths it overheard from unsuspecting visitors, hoping to set one against the other. It returns to its jar after roaming about, closes the lid, and waits for another occasion to resume its quest away from prying eyes. Though toxic, the liquid in the jar heals within an hour any combat damage the undead may have suffered.
            The malefactor’s lower body and entrails have usually been removed. Partially hidden behind its head, its skinbound, skeletal limbs are folded tightly against its chest when inside the jar. It flies slowly when wandering, gray-green shreds of preserved skin dangling or dragging below. Its claw-like fingers and teeth bear a rotting disease, or as an option, may paralyze a victim as a ghoul. Immune to non-magical weapons, the malefactor is also able to hide in shadows or behind miscellaneous objects. Greater malefactors able to cast magic are rumored to exist in the workshops of necromancers. The jar, its fluid contents, and its occupant do not radiate magic, but the creature’s evil may be detected along with a smell of formaldehyde and moldy pickles. If it wishes so, it may fly away with its jar and hide it (or steal another with a similar concoction, after discarding its previous resident). The malefactor disintegrates after it finds the information it sought and exacts vengeance upon whomever it blames for its fate, whether evil or not.

Source: Original game stats from CA1 "Dreams of Aerie." Conversion for use with Labyrinth Lord in CAL1a "Conversion Guide to Meryath" (coming soon at DTRPG).