Saturday, September 20, 2014

All in the cards

Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Manor has a short but interesting article up about using Tarot cards as game props.  And you know how I love cards!  Here, take a look.  Of particular interest is a link to an expansion he did some years back on the Deck of Many Things.

In the blog maintenance department, I've added a tag for Cards.  Take a look and see if you've missed any Rambles on gaming with cards.  Also, on the practical side, if you need boxes to store your cards in, try Hobby Lobby.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Delay Devil (no monster until Monday)

This week ended up being interesting and left me no time to work on a new monster for today (or even my fallback, tomorrow). However, I will have a monster out on Monday. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

In the meantime, I'll allow this bunny to sum up my feelings about this week.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

World Building with the Core Rulebooks

If you haven't seen this post by Rob Donoghue of The Walking Mind, then I highly recommend it: Inferred history of the world per the Monster Manual and a little from the Players Handbook.  This is the kind of exercise that I love for building the setting of a game, and that really inspires me to do the same.  This should be of interest to folks whether they are interested in the new edition of D&D or not, as reading game rule books for details or clues applicable to world building can be practiced across editions and games.  His schematization of the inferred history into those time periods he creates also indicates to me a kindred spirit.  Thanks, Rob!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Vampire Bunny

Welcome back to a new installment of Frightful Fridays! This week's entry is a fairly quick one thanks to some extra work with the day job and an attempt to get caught up on some freelance work. I didn't want to leave you without a monster for the week, but the super cellemental will have to wait, since that is going to be a gloriously high-CR beastie. In the meantime, I hope your PCs will soil their armors when confronted with a rabbit that latches onto somone's ankles (or calves) and just won't stop draining blood.
I hope you enjoy the vampire bunny, and I'll be back next week with another new monster. Thanks for reading!

This delightful bunny was found here.

OK, so that little kitten turned out to be a horror show. This little bunny looks friendly, though, and it needs someone to hold it and pet it.
Vampire Bunny CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Tiny undead
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14

AC 20, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+6 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 85 (10d8+40); fast healing 3
Fort +7, Ref +11, Will +9
DR 5/silver; Immune undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10

Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +15 (2d6+6)
Space 2.5 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks attach, blood drain, create spawn, incisive bite
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +14)
Constantundetectable alignment (DC 16)
At willdominate animal (DC 17), gaseous form
3/daycharm person (DC 15)

Str 5, Dex 22, Con, Int 7, Wis 14, Cha 19
Base Atk +7; CMB +11 (+15 grapple); CMD 18 (22 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Run, Skill Focus (Acrobatics), Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +22 (+26 when jumping), Disguise +4 (Disguise to appear as a typical rabbit), Perception +14, Stealth +18; Racial Modifiers +16 Disguise to appear as a typical rabbit
Languages Common (can't speak)

Environment any terrestrial
Organization solitary, pair, or warren (1 vampire bunny plus 1–4 enslaved spawn)
Treasure none

Special Abilities
Attach (Ex) A vampire bunny has a +4 racial bonus on grapple checks.
Create Spawn (Ex) A vampire bunny can only create spawn from other rabbits it has killed with its blood drain. The victim rises from death as a vampire bunny in 1d4 days. This undead rabbit is under the command of the vampire bunny that created it, and remains enslaved until its master's destruction. A vampire bunny may have no more enslaved spawn than its Charisma modifier; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit become free-willed undead. A vampire bunny may free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, it cannot be enslaved again.
Incisive Bite (Ex) A vampire bunny adds its Dexterity modifier to its damage rolls rather than its Strength modifier.

Occasionally, when a vampire recalls its former life, it remembers its fondness toward a pet it owned when it was a flesh and blood creature. While the vampire does not actually experience that feeling of fondness, the warped nostalgia drives it to create an undead mockery of its pet. Oddly, rabbits seem to be the only animals that spawn into vampires, while other animals merely die when subjected to the vampire's blood drain. Like many rabbits, these vampire rabbits escape their masters and wreak havoc on the surrounding land. Only instead of destroying crops, these rabbits destroy livestock and turn animals against their masters. Vampire bunnies can also spread their vampirism to other rabbits, with the potential to create a nightmarish situation in regions overrun by rabbits.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Kerberogryph

Hello and welcome to a new Frightful Fridays! on an actual Friday! This week's monster comes from the image archive and is one that my friend Patrick pointed out to me. There was a little discussion about what this could be, a griffon-hydra mix, a cerberic creature, etc., and I decided to go with all the above, and throw in the idea that this is a mythic creature. The image just screams mythic to me, and I am happy to have this be the first mythic creature to grace Frightful Fridays. I made sure to include all the mythic rules necessary to run this creature in your game, since not everyone has Paizo's Mythic Adventures.
I hope you enjoy the kerberogryph, and I'll be back next week with a new monster. As always, thanks for reading!

You can find the image for this mythic beastie here.


This three-headed silver-feathered griffon scrutinizes its surroundings carefully, each head looking in a different direction for signs for intruders.
Kerberogryph CR 9/MR 4
XP 6,400
NG Large magical beast (mythic)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +17

AC 24, touch 12, flat-footed 21 (+3 Dex, +12 natural, 1 size)
hp 124 (8d10+80); fast healing 6
Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +6; second save
Defensive Abilities block attacks, poisonous blood (wyvern poison); DR 5/epic

Speed 30 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee 3 bites +14 (1d8+6) and 2 talons +13 (1d6+6)
Space 10 ft., Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bites)
Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. cone, 8d6 fire damage, Reflex DC 19 half, usable every 1d4 rounds), horrific rend, mythic power (4/day, surge +1d8), pounce, rake (2 claws +13, 1d4+6), rend (2 bites, 1d8+9)

Str 23, Dex 17, Con 20, Int 7, Wis 18, Cha 12
Base Atk +8; CMB +15; CMD 28 (32 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Reflexes[M], Intimidating Prowess[M], Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +13, Fly +10, Intimidate +14, Perception +17; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +8 Intimidate, +4 Perception
Languages telepathy 1000 ft. (with employer only)
SQ hydra traits, regenerate head

Environment any terrestrial
Organization solitary
Treasure twice standard

Special Abilities
Block Attacks (Ex) Once per round, when a kerberogryph is hit by a melee or ranged attack, it can attempt a melee attack using its highest attack bonus. If this result exceed the result from the attack against it, the creature is unaffected by the attack, as if the attack had missed.
Fast Healing (Ex) A kerberogryph's fast healing ability is equal to twice its current number of heads (minimum fast healing 6). This fast healing applies only to damage inflicted on the creature's body.
Horrific Rend (Ex) If a kerberogryph hits an opponent with three or more bite attacks, it deals double damage with its rend.
When a kerberogryph performs a horrific rend, it may expend 1 use of mythic power as a free action to demoralize foes with a +8 circumstance bonus on its Intimidate check, and it is treated as if it possessed the Shatter Defenses feat.
Hydra Traits (Ex) A kerberogryph can be killed by severing all of its heads or slaying its body. Any attack that is not an attempt to sever a head affects the body, including area attacks or attacks that cause piercing or bludgeoning damage. To sever a head, an opponent must make a sunder attempt with a slashing weapon targeting a head. A head is considered a separate weapon with hardness 0 and hit points equal to the kerberogryph's HD. To sever a head, an opponent must inflict enough damage to reduce the head's hit points to 0 or less. Severing a head deals damage to the kerberogryph's body equal to the kerberogryph's current HD. A kerberogryph can't attack with a severed head, but takes no other penalties.
Mythic Combat Reflexes (Ex) A kerberogryph can make any number of additional attacks of opportunity per round. As a swift action, a kerberogryph can expend one use of mythic power to, until the start of its next turn, make attacks of opportunity against foes it has already made attacks of opportunity against this round if they provoke attacks of opportunity from it by moving.
Mythic Intimidating Prowess (Ex) A kerberogryph gains a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks against non-mythic creatures, or +2 against mythic creatures.
Mythic Power (Su) A kerberogryph can draw upon a wellspring of power to accomplish amazing deeds and cheat fate. Each day, it can expend a number of uses of mythic power equal to its mythic rank. The creature has the surge ability and can use this mythic power to activate it.
Poisonous Blood (Ex) Any creature that confirms a critical hit against the kerberogryph with a piercing or slashing melee weapon without reach is sprayed with poison.
Regenerate Head (Ex) When a kerberogryph's head is destroyed, two heads regrow in 1d4 rounds. A kerberogryph cannot have more than twice its original number of heads at any one time. To prevent new heads from growing, at least 10 points of acid or fire damage must be dealt to the stump (a touch attack to hit) before they appear. Acid or fire damage from area attacks can affect stumps and the body simultaneously. A kerberogryph doesn't die from losing its heads until all are cut off and the stumps seared by acid or fire.
If a kerberogryph reaches its maximum number of heads (6 for the typical creature), its maneuverability while flying drops to average.
Second Save (Ex) Whenever a kerberogryph fails a saving throw against an effect with a duration greater than 1 round, it can keep trying to shake of the effect. At the start of its turn, if it's still affected, it can attempt the save one more time as a free action. If this save succeeds, the effect affects the creature as if it had succeeded at its initial saving throw. If the affect already allows another saving throw on a later turn to break the effect (hold monster, gltterdust, etc.), this ability is in addition to the extra saving throw from the effect.
Surge (Su) A kerberogryph can call upon its mythic power to overcome difficult challenges. It can expend one use of mythic power to increase any d20 roll it just made by rolling 1d8 and adding it to the result. Using this ability is an immediate action taken after the original roll is made and the results are revealed.

A kerberogryph is an extremely rare terrestrial creature that combines the traits of a griffon and a hydra, with some draconic traits thrown in for good measure. It serves as a guardian for those powerful enough to perform a ritual, known only to select mages, to call it for that purpose. The summoner who calls a kerberogryph does not gain control of it, but instead must negotiate for its service. A kerberogryph accepts no less than 100 gp, 10 pounds of fresh raw meat, or some combination of the two, per day of service. Once the employer and the kerberogryph have agreed to terms, the creature remains in its assigned location for the duration of its contract. A guardian kerberogryph relishes battle, and since most employers who obtain a kerberogryph's services expect trouble, the creature does not typically spend this time in boredom.

During a kerberogryph's "downtime," it likes to prowl the territory surrounding its lair in search of food. It prefers livestock, particularly horses, but it will eat any animal. During these hunts, it eschews the use of its breath weapon, since it prefers raw meat to cooked flesh.

At least three kerberogryphs exist, one for each alignment along the good-evil axis. They stay neutral with respect to law and chaos, and this reflects in their adherence to a contract while serving as guardians counterbalanced by their sense of freedom when released from duty. A good kerberogryph has silver or gold feathers, a neutral kerberogryph has blue or gray feathers, and an evil kerberogryph has red or black feathers. The kerberogryph summoning ritual calls a kerberogryph with an alignment appropriate to the one performing the ritual.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Suits for Decks of Many Things

 Lately, I have been thinking about how the Deck of Many Things would play into mythopoesis of the game world and not play and mechanics only.  You can see one result of my thoughts here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frightful Fridays! (Spooky Saturday!) Tattered Shroud

Hello, and welcome back to another slightly delayed Frightful Fridays! My friend Patrick asked for a spooky undead monster, and I hope I delivered something suitable for his purposes. The tattrered shroud is the result of a funeral shroud collecting the negative energy that animates the body it covers as an undead creature. The shroud then goes about creating more versions of that undead creature from nearby victims. It uses a surprising amount of cunning and stealth to accomplish this task. The next time a character reaches for a cloak at the inn, or pulls up the blanket that seems unnaturally chilly, it might be too late as the shroud engulfs the PC.
I hope you enjoy the tattered shroud, and I'll be back next week with a new monster (hopefully, on the day for which this feature is named). Thanks for reading!

The illustration for the shroud can be found here.

This moth-eaten, black shroud floats serenely, but an aura of menace emanates from the piece of cloth.
Tattered Shroud CR 4
XP 1,200
NE Medium undead
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +1

AC 17, touch 17, flat-footed 10 (+6 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 42 (5d8+20)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +5
DR 5/slashing; Immune undead traits

Speed fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee slam +9 (1d6-3 plus 2d6 negative energy damage and grab)
Special Attacks create spawn
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +9)

Str 4, Dex 23, Con, Int 5, Wis 13, Cha 18
Base Atk +3; CMB +9 (+13 grapple); CMD 17
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Dodge, Weapon Finesse
Skills Disguise +10 (+18 to appear as a cloak or similar object), Fly +14, Stealth +11; Racial Modifiers +8 Disguise to appear as a cloak or similar object)

Special Abilities
Create Spawn (Su) A humanoid creature killed by tattered shroud becomes a free-willed ghoul in 1d4 rounds.
Grab (Ex) If a tattered shroud maintains a grapple against its opponent, it deals no physical damage, but it deals 2d6 negative damage to that opponent. Attacks that hit a grappling shroud deal half their damage to the shroud and half to the grappled victim.

A funerary shroud for a humanoid sometimes absorbs the negative energy surrounding the undead creature's spawning and gains an unlife of its own. The most typical example of a tattered shroud derives from a victim of ghoul fever, whom his or her family and friends bury before the victim rises as a ghoul. The shroud assumes its new existence an hour or so after the undead creature it covered. A newly created shroud seems to absorb all light around itself, generating an eerie gloom.

Driven to create more ghouls, a tattered shroud flies to the nearest population center to begin its depredations. While the creature has a dim intelligence, it is clever enough to suppress its darkness spell-like ability to ensure it does not give itself away. It finds a suitable location to carry out its ruse as a cloak, bedspread, or blanket, so it can take a lone victim completely unaware. The shroud envelops its victim and will not let go until its victim dies. If the victim manages to break free, the shroud usually retargets that opponent.

Ghouls too impatient to wait for their disease to fill their ranks employ known tattered shrouds to speed up the process. More powerful tattered shrouds originate from the creation of strong undead creatures, such as ghasts, vampires, and even the odd lich that has undertaken a burial service before arising.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frightful Fridays! (Saturnine Saturdays?) Giant Bola Beetle

Hello, and welcome back to a late edition of Frightful Fridays! I didn't catch a bad case of con crud, so I can't use that as an excuse. Instead my day job decided it would be nice to welcome me back from GenCon with an already huge assignment that gathered requirements as the week went along. It didn't stop me from putting out a monster this week, though. Admittedly, I went the vermin route, so nothing super fancy in terms of spell-like abilities and whatnot, but check out those bolas!

I hope you enjoy the giant bola beetle, and I'll be back on Friday with a new monster. Thanks for reading!

Four massive chitinous orbs sprout from the top of this enormous, dark brown beetle's carapace.
Giant Bola Beetle CR 6
XP 2,400
N Large vermin
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +7

AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+6 Dex, +4 natural, –1 size)
hp 67 (9d8+27)
Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +2
Resist acid 10

Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +9 (1d4+4)
Ranged 4 bolas +12 (1d6+4 nonlethal/19–20 plus trip or entangle)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks concussive bolas, entangling bolas

Str 18, Dex 22, Con 17, Int —, Wis 9, Cha 7
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 27 (35 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Critical (bola)[B], Weapon Focus (bola)[B]
Skills Acrobatics +14, Climb +12, Perception +7, Stealth +2 (+10 in forests and swamps); Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics, +8 Perception, +8 Stealth in forests and swamps

Environment warm forests and swamps
Organization solitary, pair, or sling (3–8)
Treasure none

Special Abilities
Concussive Bolas (Ex) A giant bola beetle can fire concussive bolas up to a maximum of 30 feet. In addition to hitting an opponent for bludgeoning damage, a concussive bola can make a trip attempt that does not allow a trip attempt in return. Finally, if the beetle succeeds at a critical hit with a concussive bola, the target must attempt a DC 17 Fortitude save to avoid becoming stunned for 1d4 rounds. Success reduces this effect to dazed for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Entangling Bolas (Ex) Instead of firing a concussive bola, a giant bola beetle can shoot a detachable bola with a range increment of 30 feet (maximum range of 90 feet). This bola deals half damage on a successful strike and makes a trip attempt (with a +4 racial bonus). Additionally, an opponent struck by an entangling bola must succeed at a DC 17 Reflex save; failure causes the opponent to become entangled, while success reduces the opponent's movement to half. A flying creature struck by an entangling bola that fails the Reflex save can no longer fly and falls to the ground. An entangled creature can break free by succeeding at a DC 17 Strength check or by dealing 6 points of damage to the entangling strands with a slashing weapon. If the beetle uses an entangling bola, it loses one of its bola attacks for 1d6 rounds while it regrows a new bola. The DCs above are Constitution-based.

Scourge of tropical jungles and marshes, a giant bola beetle has evolved an unusual hunting style to accompany the bola-like growths held in place by strands similar to a spider's web. It typically uses its bolas to strike at prey within reach to knock them out, after which it feeds on the still living prey. As the bola near-instantaneously returns to the beetle, it has a fair chance of tripping its target. For an escaping victim, the beetle detaches a "thrown" bola for greater range, allowing the sticky strands to immobilize the victim so the beetle can advance on it. The beetle regrows its bolas at a prodigious rate, but it shows surprising reluctance to use an entangling bola, especially against prey within range of its normal striking distance.

With a successful DC 20 Heal check, a character can harvest an intact bola from a giant bola beetle. Each bola acts similarly to Large bolas (using the beetle's damage dice instead) and can entangle an opponent once before its stickiness wears off.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Phantom Ray

Hello and welcome once again to a new Frightful Fridays! I'm at GenCon as this gets posted, but I got this monster done early for publication. The phantom ray evolved considerably from what I envisioned when I first saw the image. So, what was once a bog standard ghostly monster with a weird poison became a weapon against outsiders, but one that really does not want that role. Its divine purpose or engineering attracts it to outsiders, but phantom rays choose only to observe and record the creatures' activity.

So, that is the phantom ray. I hope you enjoy it, and I'll be back next week with a new monster (even if I get con crud and I deliriously post another amphibian). Thanks for reading!

This ghostly sting ray's long tail whips around. Visible waves of eldritch energy emanate from the creature's body.

Phantom Ray CR 5
XP 1,600
N Small outsider (extraplanar, incorporeal)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
Aura feedback aura (60 ft., DC 16)

AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+3 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 size)
hp 51 (6d10+18)
Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +4
Defensive Abilities incorporeal

Speed fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee sting +11 (1d6+6 plus poison)

Str, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Alertness, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative
Skills Fly +18, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (history) +17, Knowledge (local) +17, Knowledge (planes) +14, Linguistics +4, Perception +12, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +8 Knowledge (history), +8 Knowledge (local), +8 Knowledge (planes)
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Celestial, Common, Infernal

Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or wake (3–12)
Treasure none

Special Abilities
Feedback Aura (Su) At the beginning of a phantom ray's turn, every summoned creature and extraplanar outsider within the radius of its feedback aura must succeed at a DC 16 Fortitude save or take 2d6 points of damage. Additionally, any creature within the aura benefitting from ongoing spells or effects must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 16 + highest applicable spell level) or take damage equal to the highest applicable spell level.
Heartstopper Poison (Ex) Stinginjury; save Fort DC 16, frequency 1/round for 6 rounds, effect 1d3 Con and paralysis for 1 round, cure 2 consecutive saves. A phantom ray's heartstopper poison bypasses poison immunity or resistance possessed by outsiders and summoned creatures. The save DC is Constitution-based.

A phantom ray claims to merely observe important events as they unfold on the Material Plane, and that may be the case now. However, the creature's array of abilities suggest that it was intended to be a weapon against extraplanar creatures of some sortperhaps all outsiders, in order to prevent the Material Plane from becoming a massive battlefield. Strangely, the ray is an extraplanar outsider itself, deriving from an ancient aberration now adapted to the Ethereal Plane. A phantom ray will only attack to defend itself, but many creatures, especially outsiders, regard its inherent feedback aura as a preemptive attack.

Depending on the momentousness of an imminent extraplanar incursion, anywhere from one to a dozen phantom rays show up to observe it from a safe distance. Knowledgeable creatures realize that the appearance of phantom rays heralds the arrival of powerful angels, devils, demons, or other planar denizens. If the rays have any awareness of what is coming, they do not share that knowledge.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Grenouille de la Pesanteur

Hello, and welcome back to a new Frightful Frogdays! I was all done with frogs, but my friend Jason presented me with a new one, and I just couldn't resist continuing the theme. This little guy is a gliding frog in the real world, but I thought it would be fun to make it an aberration with weird control over gravity, and it attacks its opponents with gravity (typically by picking them up into the air and then dropping them to their doom). It looks like he's really happy about the prospect.


I hope you enjoy this week's "gravity frog." GenCon is next week, but I plan to set out a monster in advance for next Friday. I should be done with frogs and toads for the foreseeable future. Thanks for reading!

The air shimmers beneath the wide, yellow-and-black webbed feet belonging to this frog-like creature.
Grenouille de la Pesanteur CR 9
XP 6,400
CN Small aberration
Init +12; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10

AC 23, touch 19, flat-footed 15 (+8 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 119 (14d8+56); fast healing 2
Fort +10, Ref +12, Will +12
Immune cold; Resist acid 10, fire 10

Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (clumsy)
Melee bite +19 (1d6+1), tongue +15 (grab)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with tongue)
Special Attacks grab (Medium)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 14th; concentration +16)
3/dayreverse gravity

Str 12, Dex 27, Con 19, Int 7, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +10; CMB +17 (+21 grapple); CMD 28 (can't be tripped)
Feats Acrobatic, Agile Maneuvers, Flyby Attack, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (tongue)
Skills Acrobatics +20, Escape Artist +16, Fly +15, Perception +12, Stealth +17
Languages Aklo (can't speak)
SQ no breath, strong legs

Environment any terrestrial
Organization solitary, pair, or pod (3–16)
Treasure none

Special Abilities
Strong Legs (Ex) A grenouille de la pesanteur's powerful legs allow it to jump while it levitates, giving it an equivalent fly speed of 30 feet.

A grenouille de la pesanteur looks like nothing more than a floating frog. However, it is a strange extraterrestrial creature with control over gravity. It hunts by triggering reverse gravity on its potential meal, rising with the victim for a few seconds, and then letting the fall do the work of killing its prey. For particularly stubborn prey, a grenouille uses its tongue to grab them and carry them off before dropping them to their deaths. The grenouille prefers the flesh of intelligent humanoids, but it can subsist on any meat. In sparsely populated areas, the primary indication of a grenouille hunting ground is blood-spattered rocks.

A grenouille de la pesanteur has an extremely long lifespan, which allows the creature to travel the byways between planets and solar systems. For as yet unexplained reasons, a pod of grenouille will levitate beyond the atmosphere and drift in space, where the lack of air and extreme cold cause the creatures no harm, until it reaches another planet with suitable gravity (around typical Earth gravity).


Friday, August 1, 2014

Frightful Fridays! Infamous Leaping Ooze of County Cavas-Cowan

Hello, and welcome back to a brand new installment of Frightful Fridays! Continuing with an evident amphibian trend (apart from last week's delightful kitten), I wanted an ooze that used a little shock and awe in its attacks. So, enter an insane wizard who hates halflings and wants something other than the ponderously slow ooze. Graft some frog DNA into the ooze, and it suddenly makes amazing leaps and engulfs those little bastards.

Hopefully, you have a lunatic wizard in your campaign who would dare to tamper with nature and create this thing, which will then surprise your players when it charges at one of their characters and ends its charge in an incredible leap. In the meantime, I'll be back next week with a new monster. Thanks for reading!


This blocky slime holds several bones and an oddly preserved frog within its mass.
Infamous Leaping Ooze of County Cavas-Cowan CR 6
XP 2,400
N Large ooze
Init 1; Senses Perception +8

AC 8, touch 8, flat-footed 8 (1 Dex, 1 size)
hp 101 (7d8+70)
Fort +12, Ref +1, Will +2
Immune acid, electricity, fire, ooze traits

Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +12 (2d6+12 plus 1d6 acid)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks engulf (DC 21, 1d6 acid), leaping charge

Str 26, Dex 9, Con 30, Int 1, Wis 11, Cha 4
Base Atk +5; CMB +14 (+16 bull rush); CMD 23 (25 vs. bull rush, can't be tripped)
Feats Awesome Blow, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth)
Skills Acrobatics +3 (+19 Acrobatics when jumping), Perception +8, Stealth +2
SQ animal intelligence

Environment any hills or plains
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities
Animal Intelligence (Ex) An infamous leaping ooze has a basic animal intelligence, and it treats Acrobatics, Perception, and Stealth as class skills. It retains its immunity to mind-affecting effects.
Leaping Charge (Ex) An infamous leaping ooze benefits from jumping at its foes in a charge. It gains a +8 bonus on its Acrobatics check to jump when charging.

Named for the location of its first sighting, the Infamous Leaping Ooze of County Cavas-Cowan (referred to as the "leaping ooze" or "infamous leaping ooze" by most people) attacked a community of halflings. It killed several solitary halflings over the course of two weeks with no trace other than a puddle of acidic slime. When it attacked a pair of halflings (one of which fled the scene), the community finally knew what threatened it. With a concerted effort, the halflings finally eradicated the ooze, but others have appeared in various locations since then.

The leaping ooze is infused with frog genetics, as provided by the specially treated frog that remains relatively preserved from the ooze's acid. This infusion allows the ooze a small measure of awareness and cunning and prodigious jumping ability. Perhaps designed by a crazed wizard unhappy with an ooze's typically cumbersome movement and then unleashed upon the unsuspecting halflings at first, the ooze has appeared in other locations, indicating either the spread of its arcane design or a weird case of parallel design.

A leaping ooze usually attempts to engulf one opponent on an initial charge. Afterwards, it uses Awesome Blow to turn back rescuers before it leaps away with its new meal.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Euryale and the Deck of Destiny

Wheel of Fortune
Pompeii Mosaic from Naples National Archaeological Museum
I've been thinking about Euryale for a couple of weeks, but it was only last night while incubating upon my bed that the pieces came together for me.  In the ancient world, the decrees of Fate where absolute.  Even the head of the pantheon was subject to Fate's decree. Thus Fortuna or Fate's rule over the destinies of gods and men was absolute.  That Gygax (and Kunz?)'s inspiration for the Deck of Many Things comes from the Tarot as well as the general idea of a magic deck of cards is obvious. What then do we find when we look at the symbolism of the cards?  Archetypal human figures, heavenly bodies, two elements, two states (I note, aligned neutrally and chaotically), four objects, one location, and two with mythological personages.  The latter two cards are the Fates and Euryale.  The only specific individual, the only proper name among the cards, is Euryale.

Frightful Fridays! Kitteye Tyrant

Hello, and welcome back to a new Frightful Fridays! I had a marvelous vacation the past week, and it was a little tough to get back into things, so that might explain today's entry, whose illustration comes courtesy of my friend Flash. Rather than go with the obvious spider-kitten mashup, I decided to do an odd little (so to speak) take on the {redacted}. The next time your characters go up against a solitary sorcerer with the strange kitten familiar who can only muster a single magic missile, that pushover fight will become terrifying when the familiar starts flinging prismatic spray (in handy ray form) and other rays.

I hope you enjoy this adorable, tiny, not-so-defenseless kitty, and I'll be back next week with a new monster. Thanks for reading!

Aw! It's a cute little kitten. Wait...does it have a vertical mouth? Does it have more than two eyes? Must have been a trick of the light...
Kitteye Tyrant CR 12
XP 19,200
CE Tiny aberration
Init +14; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +22

AC 27, touch 27, flat-footed 17 (+5 deflection, +10 Dex, +2 size)
hp 161 (17d8+85)
Fort +10, Ref +15, Will +12
Defensive Abilities spell absorption; Resist acid 20, cold 20, electricity 20, fire 20, sonic 10; SR 23
Weaknesses vulnerability to dispel magic and dead magic

Speed 20 ft., climb 10 ft.
Melee 2 claws +10 (1d2-4)
Ranged eye ray +23 (variable, see special ability below)
Space 2.5 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks eyes of su-maru
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 17th; concentration +21) 
 At will—dimension door 
 3/day—quickened dimension door

Str 2, Dex 31, Con 20, Int 21, Wis 15, Cha 18
Base Atk +12; CMB +20; CMD 31 (35 vs. trip)
Feats Acrobatic[B], Combat Casting, Dimensional Agility, Improved Initiative, Point-Blank Shot, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (dimension door), Skill Focus (Knowledge [arcana]), Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Penetration, Weapon Focus (ray)
Skills Acrobatics +18, Climb +14, Disguise +21 (+29 to appear as an ordinary kitten), Escape Artist +30, Fly +22, Knowledge (arcana) +31, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +22, Knowledge (planes) +22, Linguistics +19, Perception +22, Spellcraft +31, Stealth +28; Racial Modifiers +8 Disguise to appear as an ordinary kitten
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling, Ignan, Infernal, Orc, Sphinx, Sylvan, Terran, Undercommon; telepathy 120 ft.

Special Abilities
Eyes of Su-Maru (Su) A kitteye tyrant possesses six eyes, each of which fires a unique ray; the kitteye tyrant can fire all six rays during its turn. If it succeeds at a ranged touch attack, it affects the target per one of the listed spells. Its "normal" eyes affect targets with either baleful polymorph or dominate person, while the other four eyes fire rays with effects similar to contagious flame (one ray to start, and four rays shoot from the original target), greater contagion, prismatic spray (one ray chosen randomly that affects one creature), and suffocation. If a kitteye tyrant uses rays other than those from its "normal" pair of eyes, it must make another Disguise check (at a –20 penalty) to continue its ruse as a typical kitten. If a spell effect allows a saving throw, it has a DC of 22, regardless of spell level. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Spell Absorption (Su) Any spell targeting a kitteye tyrant or including the creature in its area of effect that fails to overcome the kitteye tyrant's spell resistance heals the tyrant a number of hit points equal to the spell level.
Vulnerability to Dispel Magic and Dead Magic (Su) A kitteye tyrant targeted by dispel magic, greater dispel magic, or mage's disjunction must succeed at a Will save per the spell level and caster's spellcasting ability bonus (these spells automatically bypass the kitteye tyrant's spell resistance). If it fails the saving throw, it takes damage equal to the spell level, and it cannot use its spell-like abilities or rays for a number of rounds equal to the spell level. A kitteye tyrant starting its turn in an antimagic field must make a Will save to avoid the same effects. Finally, in a dead magic zone, a kitteye tyrant takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage every round it spends in that zone.

Kitteye tyrants are long-ago escapees from another realm that have made this plane their home. Remorseless killers, kitteye tyrants enjoy watching the disastrous effects caused by their eye rays, while taking on the guise of an unassuming kitten. They typically dominate novice wizards and assume the superficial role of familiar. As long as they keep a low enough profile, blame for any destruction falls on the wizard puppets, necessitating a change in "owner" for the kitteye tyrants. While kitteye tyrants carry out their deceptions, they eschew the use of their innate fly ability, since that would be a dead giveaway. When kitteye tyrants let loose, though, they target obvious spellcasters, since those casters may have dispel magic or similar spells at their disposal. They are not especially brave combatants in the face of stiff competition, so they make copious use of quickened dimension door and Stealth to make their escapes. Those who manage to drive away kitteye tyrants face the possibility of eventual retribution. Confident in their superiority over all creatures, kitteye tyrants only fear the arrival of powerful denizens from its former home. If a kitteye tyrant has foreknowledge of such an event, it will seek out adventurers (perhaps those it has previously vexed) for protection, usually presenting the event as one of apocalyptic proportions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Elements & Alignments brought to bear: The Rod of Law

Ephesians 2 
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (KJV)
or a queen?
A prince?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Classical Elements, Alignment, and World-Building

The Four Symbols for the Elements are shown below the Alchemical Figures above, from Johann Daniel Mylius’ Philosophia reformata (1622).
The classical systems of elements popular in the great civilizations are usually known to gamers in quaternity: fire, air, water, and earth.  These four are also popular in the contemporary imagination thanks to the Avatar cartoons.  Adopting conceptions of these has seemed a natural (haha!) move for cosmological mythopoesis.  If you are working on the big picture for a game setting, you can immediately start thinking of these in terms of alignment.  I like doing so using the axis of Chaotic to Lawful.  Keep in mind that I am not being absolutist here and saying that all comprised of these elements are Chaotic or Lawful, but that the preponderance of an element seems to tend in a particular direction.  Asking myself what would be the archetypal nature of each element in terms of alignment, I find myself with the table below:

Four ElementsAlignment

This is telling for me in two ways: first, the physical world is more aligned with Chaos than it is with Law.  Moreover, the element closest to humanity (humus-human or earth-men) is Law.  Hence, humans, (and for that matter, dwarves) are usually tied more closely to Law in RPG materials because they are tied to, and perhaps even primarily composed of, earth.  "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).  If they are primarily of the element which stands in contrast to the rest of the elements alignment-wise, this is a source of conflict.  There is a problem, however, when it comes to these four elements being enough to comprise the cosmos.  Air-atmosphere is one thing, but what about those heavenly or spiritual substances that are not material or physical?  Those that are literally no-thing?  If the atmosphere and its winds are chaotic, are not the heavenly orderly?  Don't the heavenly bodies provide the regular movements by which we may measure the terrestrial bodies below?  Is not the King of Heaven a deity of Law, the Law-giver himself?

These considerations bring us to face-to-face with the fact that many, if not most, many versions of the classical elements total five rather than four.  Consider the refinement below, which will use the letter Q to stand for the fifth, derived from Aristotle's quintessence.  

Five-Element System
Q Lawful
FIRE Chaotic

This schema might seem like just a Western variant, or perhaps even too Christian, but comparison to Indian, Japanese, and Tibetan systems reveal that it is not uniquely Aristotlean or Judeo-Christian.  (NB. I find the sections on Buddhism and China most inadequate and even confused/confusing and advise you to look further afield rather than make too many assumptions based on that portion of the Wikipedia entry.)  The system of five elements is dealing with questions and problems of thought that the fourfold system was insufficient to deal with.  Air needed to be split up to account for the kinds of questions above and beliefs about the realm above the dome of the sky.  You may call Q as best fits with your mythopoesis, but note the terms used for it in the past: Void, Heaven, Space, Aether, Spirit.  As we have moved from ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, we found a need to distinguish what was once a single word: wind/breath/spirit.  While the winds of the air blow where they will, the heavenly spirits proceed in the stately movement of their spheres -- precise and predictable. And note that, even in the world of Avatar, the story can't leave well enough (supposedly, four) alone.  The avatar (incarnate in a particular element-bender) can achieve an Avatar-state, and in addition to the standard four there is energy bending.
Image Source
A five-element cosmology still provides for plenty of conflict (three-fifths of the categories of all things are fundamentally against us?!) and for the idea that there is some connection between a transcendent Law and its reflection on earth.  For those who do not divide the elements into five but retained the four-element system, I would recognize the "split" within Air by saying that the element is Neutral.

Next time: Using this general conception of world building with gaming particulars.