Saturday, May 7, 2016

Deciphering Dyson

I can't imagine there are any readers of my blog who are unfamiliar with Dyson's Dodecahedron. It's a must-read RPG blog -- and his lovely maps have gone isomorphic, which I simply adore as the most helpful kind of dungeon maps.

Recently as I was looking over one of Dyson's maps, I found a spot I couldn't rightly interpret, nor helpfully explain to Dyson my perception in the comments to get clarity. So I made some pictures to hopefully get across my problem to enable him to fix my understanding.

The map is found at the top of this post: Return to Durahn's Tomb. At the top of the stairs to the overlook above the elevated niche to the entry room is where my interpretation problem begins.

In the detail shot below, as I look at the right angle niche above the half-square dais or platform, the stairs appear to lead to an undifferentiated space. I can imagine that the red lines I've added below would differentiate the space, but they'd represent a sheer drop from the stairs which I doubt Dyson intended.

In the detail shot below, I have added a landing for the stairs in green lines that turn into a gallery above a lower overlook, but getting those two spaces to make sense together is also not exactly obvious.

Funny enough, if I flip the entire image (below) the problem with that intermediary space disappears entirely and the area becomes an octagon, and the only things that then would need fixing are the sarcophagi and the main entrance.

So, I look forward to Dyson's explanation, and I appreciate the time he spends sharing his labors with us foremost, but also in helping me get clarity.

If you have never supported Dyson's work before, now is as good a time as any. If you're looking for a one-time purchase, I've enjoyed his Dyson's Delves II, but you could also contribute to his Patreon account to keep these works coming and released into the wild.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Frightful Fridays! The Worst Monster Ever

Hello and welcome to another Frightful Fridays! This is one I've had on the back burner for a couple of months, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. When I first experienced this horrific sight, I temporarily lost my arachnophobia and coulrophobia. Worse, this is something I witnessed along with several million people.

I hope you survive beholding this horrific monster. I'll be back next week with something more down-to-earth, like a giant polyp that shoots polyps that release spores infested with flesh-eating paramecia. Thanks for reading!

For fear of summoning Elder Gods because I included the image, here is a link to the disturbing video.

A fusion of monkey, baby, and puppy dances jerkily instead of walking. It jabbers its own name as its obscene pink tongue probes for exposed flesh.
Puppymonkeybaby      CR 4
XP 1,200
CE Small aberration
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +1
AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+4 Dex, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 37 (5d8+15)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +1
Defensive Abilities dancing dodge; Immune mind-affecting effects; SR 15
Speed 30 ft., climb 10 ft.
Melee bite +8 (1d4), tongue +3 touch (befuddling lick)
Special Attacks babble, bewildering dance
Environment any land
Organization solitary, pair, or “dear <insert deity name>, why?” (3–12)
Treasure incidental (potions of dubious quality)
Str 10, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 3, Wis 5, Cha 17
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 16
Feats Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +8, Climb +8, Escape Artist +8, Perception +1, Perform (dance) +9
SQ confusion grace
Babble (Su) A puppymonkeybaby repeats its name continuously, battering its opponents’ mental defenses with its inanities. A creature within 60 feet of the puppymonkeybaby must succeed at a DC 15 Will save to avoid taking a –4 penalty on further Will saves against the puppymonkeybaby’s abilities. Regardless of the result, a creature cannot be affected by the same puppymonkeybaby’s babble for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting, sonic effect; the save DC is Charisma-based.
Befuddling Lick (Su) If a puppymonkeybaby succeeds at a touch attack with its tongue, the target creature must succeed at a DC 15 Will save or become confused for 1d6+1 rounds. This is a mind-affecting effect, and the save DC is Charisma-based.
Bewildering Dance (Su) A puppymonkeybaby can perplex opponents by performing a twitching dance. All creatures within 30 feet that can see the puppymonkeybaby when it uses its bewildering dance must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or be fascinated for 2d6 rounds. This is a mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
   Once per day, a puppymonkeybaby can make a Perform (dance) check to set the save DC for this ability. The puppymonkeybaby must accept the result of the Perform check even if its lower than the normal save DC.
Confusion Grace (Su) If a puppymonkeybaby attacks a confused creature, the creature will not attack the puppymonkeybaby in return. Likewise, if a confused creature gets "attack nearest creature" as a result on its confusion roll, the creature ignores the puppymonkeybaby.
Dancing Dodge (Ex) As an immediate action on a successful attack against it, if a puppymonkeybaby is not flat-footed or immobilized, it can make a Perform (dance) check to replace its AC against that attack. The puppymonkeybaby must accept the result, even if it is worse that its current AC. The resulting AC still suffers any penalties incurred by the puppymonkeybaby against its AC.

The dread kraken, Ith’qa’lool’pon, decided the best way to defeat the two-legged land dwellers that vexed it was to create innocuous spies that its enemies would accept in their midst. The infiltrators would telepathically gather information about enemy strength, plans, and other vital intel, and they would transmit that information to the dread kraken. Ith’qa’lool’pon set his aboleth fleshcrafters to the task, so the devious creatures tore images of beloved creature from the minds of humanoids they had been torturing. The result was the puppymonkeybaby. Pleased with the abominable amalgams, the dread kraken set them loose.

The creatures were not successful at their intended task, since they could not actually read humanoid minds. However, they created such incomprehension and dismay among people, that several locations they infested fell to rioting as a result of their baffling natures. With resistance softened as a result of infighting, the dread kraken could send its shock troops to finish off what the puppymonkeybabies started. Areas that managed to drive off the creatures learned to shoot one on sight if it reappeared.

Fortunately, for the world at large, the formula for creating puppymonkeybabies self-immolated (yes, even underwater) after the aboleths created the first batch. Unfortunately, through some depraved process, puppymonkeybabies bred true and continue to assault people with their nonsensicality.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Frightful Fridays! Katakirauwa

Hello, and welcome back to another edition of Frightful Fridays!, after much too long of a break. Theodric the Obscure received some wonderful news (which I won't share, because I am protecting his obscurity), so I'm celebrating evil pig? Sure, why not?

I hope you enjoy this week's monster, and I hope to be back next week with something else. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading!

This pig is missing its left ear and its eyes glow red. Adding to its eerie appearance, it casts no shadow.
Katakirauwa      CR 5
XP 1,600
CE Small magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 57 (6d10+24)
Fort +9, Ref +8, Will +4
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +11 (1d6+6)
Special Attacks create, soul-draining charge
Str 19, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 9
Base Atk +6; CMB +9 (+11 bull rush); CMD 23 (25 vs. bull rush, 27 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Improved Bull Rush, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack
Skills Acrobatics +10 (+14 to jump), Perception +14, Stealth +11; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception
Environment temperate forests and plains
Organization solitary, pair, or sounder (3–6)
Treasure none
Create Spawn (Su) If a humanoid creature dies as a result of a katakirauwa’s soul-draining charge, the slain creature rises as a zombie 2d4 rounds later. The katakirauwa has no control over the zombie, but it does not attack the katakirauwa.
Soul-Draining Charge (Su) If a katakirauwa succeeds at a bull rush attack during a charge, it passes through its opponent’s legs, dealing 1d4 Cha damage. If the katakirauwa scores a natural 20 on its CMB roll, it instead deals 1d4 Cha drain. A creature reduced to 0 Charisma dies as a result.

Frightful stories tell of one or more unnatural pigs running rampant through a large population center, and, merely by charging between the legs of their victims, destroying their souls and leaving shambling husks in their wake. These creatures are difficult to bring down for the average townsfolk who also have to deal with friends and family turning into zombies. While katakirauwa are not highly intelligent, they are clever enough to attack at night when their lack of shadows will not give them away. Katakirauwa also make an initial attack in an outlying area to create a small pack of zombies they then lure to a settlement, allowing them to prey on people in the chaos.

Katakirauwa spontaneously generate piglet versions of themselves after they destroy four souls, but their increased numbers generally reduce their overall threat. Uncooperative creatures among themselves, an overly large group of katakirauwa falls into disarray as individuals attack each other to prevent them from stealing souls.

Powerful undead creatures often “raise” a katakirauwa and use it to soften up resistance and to bolster its ranks of undead minions.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's going to be Legen...wait for it...

DARY. As in Legendary Games.

Now I might be a wee bit prejudiced. Staff blogger Mike Welham is coauthor of the last volume. Sometime guest blogger and all-the-time friend-of-the-blog Paris Crenshaw is the lead designer and author.  But it would be wrong to blame me for having awesome friends, and even more wrong to deny yourself based on wrong.

And what would you be denying yourself? A stellar adventure perfect for introducing young players to fantasy tabletop role-playing. This adventure will be available in both a Pathfinder Beginner version and a D&D 5e version.

Give a listen to the Tome Show episode that interviews Paris and Jason Nelson about the adventure (this portion starts about 45 minutes into the program, if you want to skip the Tolkien stuff for now). Then head over to Kickstarter to find a level of support that will give you want you want for your game. Based on my relationship of many years with Paris (and Mike) and my previous dealings with Legendary Games, I feel confident in recommending this KS without reservation. Also note the unique flavor you will be getting in this adventure, which is more colonial fantasy than it is medieval fantasy. (I wish this was reflected more in some of the illustrations that I've seen so far, but when I find an RPG product in which I can't find something to criticize, I'll let you know.) Both Pathfinder's Beginners game and 5e a great rules sets to use to introduce new and young gamers, and well-written, appropriate pre-written adventures for those of us who do so hit the spot. Hats off to all involved, and to Legendary Games for stepping in and taking over Paris' labor of love that I have had the pleasure of seeing go from its inception years ago to this.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Free Monsters (with a small catch)

The top six monsters in this year's Here Be Monsters contest have been revealed. The links are below. I've also included a link for the voting booth. Please consider voting for your favorite among the six finalists.

Protean, Anomiak
Enabler Devil
Hellfire Gorger
Headless Devil
Hellforge Slag


I had a tremendous time judging all the monsters, and it was great to see all the creativity on display!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Great Deal on Creature Compendium

If you don't know my hometown pal Richard LeBlanc of New Big Dragon, let me help you with that right now. For me, he is the undisputed king of the d30 and also one of a handful of people that make their own products that are not only professional, but pleasurable to look at.
(Let me be clear: his PRODUCTS.) ;-)

If you love monsters and Old School D&D, he has a great deal going on right now on OBS sites: ONE crispy electronic dollar for his Creature Compendium. Grab it and enjoy just reading about new monsters or even better surprising your players.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Frightful Fridays! Flensing Treant

Hello, and welcome back to another edition of Frightful Fridays! For once, the monster is actually out on a Friday (albeit a week late). I spent last weekend selecting my favorite monsters for this year's Here Be Monster's contest, and I'm looking forward to the reveal. We had a great selection of monsters to choose from.

This week's monster has been rooting around in my brain (sorry!) for a while, and I finally decided on the abilities to make this a fearsome monster. I occasionally return to the theme of nature turning on civilization (but not in a "The Happening" way), and a killer plant with an axe to grind against those who ravage nature is perfect for that theme.

I hope you like the flensing treant, and I'll be back hopefully tomorrow with the creepiest monster I've ever worked on. Thanks for reading!

Angry red “eyes” glow from this twisted tree’s trunk, which also bleeds a black sap; its leaves rustle without wind, and its roots twitch.
Flensing Treant      CR 14
XP 38,400
NE Huge plant
Init –2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +32
AC 30, touch 6, flat-footed 30 (–2 Dex, +24 natural, –2 size)
hp 210 (20d8+120)
Fort +18, Ref +4, Will +11
Defensive Abilities poison sap; DR 15/cold iron and slashing; Immune plant traits
Weaknesses vulnerable to fire
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 slams +22 (3d6+8/19-20 plus tearing bark), 4 tentacles +17 (1d6+4 plus grab)
Ranged 2 leaves +15 (2d6+8 plus bleed)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (20 ft. with tentacles)
Special Attacks bleed (1d6), constrict (1d6+8), flensing leaves, trample (3d6+12, DC 28)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +24)
   At will—entangle (DC 15)
   1/day—plant growth, wall of thorns
Str 27, Dex 6, Con 23, Int 16, Wis 21, Cha 18
Base Atk +15; CMB +25 (+27 bull rush and sunder, +29 grapple); CMD 33 (35 vs. bull rush and sunder, can't be tripped)
Feats Alertness, Awesome Blow, Critical Focus, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (slam), Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Sundering StrikeAPG, Weapon Focus (slam), Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Intimidate +24, Knowledge (nature) +22, Perception +32, Sense Motive +29, Stealth –3 (+17 Stealth in forests), Survival +22
Languages Common, Sylvan, Treant; treespeech
SQ animate trees, double damage against objects, of the forest
Environment any forest
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure double
Animate Trees (Sp) A flensing treant can animate any trees within 360 feet at will, controlling up to four trees at a time. It takes 1 full round for a tree to uproot itself, after which it moves at a speed of 10 feet and fights as a flensing treant (although it has only one slam attack and lacks the treant's special abilities), gaining the flensing treant's vulnerability to fire. If the treant that animated it terminates the animation, moves out of range, or is incapacitated, the tree immediately takes root wherever it is and returns to its normal state.
Double Damage against Objects (Ex) A flensing treant or animated tree that makes a full attack against an object or structure deals double damage.
Flensing Leaves (Ex) Once every 1d4 rounds, a flensing treant can release of cloud of razor-sharp leaves that deal 4d6 points of slashing damage to creatures in a 30-foot radius (DC 26 Reflex half). A creature failing its Reflex save also takes 2d6 points of bleed damage.
A flensing treant’s thrown leaves have a 60-foot range increment, and the treant gains a +4 racial bonus on its attack rolls with the leaves.
Of the Forest (Su) When in a forest, a flensing treant cannot be caught flat-footed, and it always knows the location of invisible creatures. It still suffers the miss chance against creatures with concealment.
Poison Sap (Ex) If a creature adjacent to a flensing treant damages it with a slashing weapon, the treant sprays the creature with poisonous sap. Additionally, when the treant is caught in the area of an effect that deals fire damage, it aerosolizes its poison, affecting all creatures in a 30-foot radius.
Flensing treant poison—contact; save Fort DC 26; frequency 1/round for 8 rounds; effect 2d4 Dex; cure 2 consecutive saves.
Tearing Bark (Ex) If a flensing treant confirms a critical hit with its slam attack, it inflicts 1d4 points of Strength bleed.
Treespeech (Su) A flensing treant has the ability to converse with plants as if subject to a continual speak with plants spell, and most plants greet it with an attitude of friendly or helpful.

In darker groves bordering on unseelie fey realms or in forests ravaged by civilization, flensing treants sprout and thrive. Whether the treants made a deal with dark fey for their terrifying powers or they came into them through their own righteous anger, these creatures have the same suite of abilities. Their roots take on a life of their own, allowing them to grasp opponents and squeeze the life out of them. Their leaves harden and take on a razor edge, allowing them to fertilize their forests with the blood of their foes. Their black sap fills enemy pores and hardens, minimizing the chance for escape.

Flensing treants usually lurk in their forest homes, providing a false sense of security for those living near a forest claimed by the treants. When prey eventually refuses to come to them, they raise a coterie of trees and bring the fight to civilization they so hate. On rare occasions, when vengeance births a flensing treant, it reverts to a normal treant when its desire for revenge has been sated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

One more day to get your monsters in!

The submission deadline for Here Be Monsters 2 closes tomorrow at 5 PM EST. We've received a number of entries so far, but there is plenty of room for some excellent Hell-themed (or Hell-antagonizing) monsters!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Frightful Fridays! (Superbowl Sunday! Edition) Impact Moth

Hello and welcome to this week's Frightful Fridays! OK, it's a little late this week thanks to some weekend work. I couldn't find a mashup of a horse and a panther in honor of the "big game," but I figured this little guy would work nicely instead. Jason pointed out the rosy maple moth, and its coloration reminded me somewhat of the giant mantis shrimp, so I drew some inspiration from that for the moth's bullet charge ability.

I hope you enjoy the impact moth, and I hope DMs can use it to punch some holes in PCs. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you again in the next week!

This moth (found here) wants to fight.

This colorful, delicate moth flies directly into an object and shatters it.
Impact Moth      CR 4
XP 1,200
N Tiny magical beast
Init +7; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +15
AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 37 (5d10+10)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2
Immune mind-affecting effects
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee slam +10 (4d6–4)
Space 2–1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks bullet charge
Str 2, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 13 (21 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +16, Perception +15; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception
Environment any forest
Organization solitary, pair, or hail (3–12)
Bullet Charge (Ex) Once every 1d3 rounds, an impact moth can make a special charge attack. During this attack, the moth deals an extra 2d6 points of damage with its slam attack, its critical threat range doubles, and it ignores hardness of 10 or less. Additionally, it gains a +2 deflection bonus against attacks of opportunity. If an impact moth confirms a critical hit with this attack, it flies through the target and can continue moving up to double its speed.

Impact moths, also known as bullet moths, have bright colors much like any other dangerous natural creature does to mark it as a threat, despite its otherwise dainty appearance. The moths build up kinetic energy when they fly and use that to puncture material and flesh alike. Telltale holes riddle trees in their forest homes.

Impact moths are omnivores, but they prefer eating fresh kills. Multiple moths work together to bring down larger creatures and feast on the remains afterwards. The kinetic energy they generate requires them to eat twice their two-pound bodyweight every day. Impact moths live for eight years and mated pairs produce up to a dozen larvae per year. The caterpillars are drab and have none of the moths’ kinetic abilities. They pupate after 2 months, during which they feed on high-energy grains and fruits, and emerge from their cocoons 1 month later.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Frightful Fridays! Plasma Fish (late because of the fish's shyness)

Hello, and welcome to another (late) edition of Frightful Fridays! He-Whose-Blog-I've-Have-Usurped posted this little guy up and demanded stats. I can't say no to Theodric the Obscure, but I got a little delayed by some freelance work.

I hope you enjoy this fire-spitting fish (in single adult and baby swarm varieties), and I'll see you on Friday with another monster. Thanks for reading!

This ghostly fish blends in with the ambient light. It spits out a glob of material that catches fire despite being underwater.
Plasma Fish      CR 2
XP 600
N Diminutive animal (aquatic)
Init +7; Senses blindsight 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 17, touch 17, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 size)
hp 19 (3d8+6)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +1
Immune fire
Speed 5 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee bite +1 (1d3-5)
Ranged plasma spit +9 (2d6 fire)
Space 1 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks blinding burst
Str 1, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 6 (can't be tripped)
Feats Go UnnoticedAPG, Improved Initiative
Skills Perception +6, Swim +11
Environment temperate or warm water
Organization solitary, pair, or school (3–20)
Treasure none
Blinding Burst (Ex) Instead of dealing damage with its plasma spit, a plasma fish can induce temporary blindness in its opponent. The target must succeed at a DC 13 Fortitude save or become blind for 1d6+1 round. A successful save reduces this effect to dazzled for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Plasma Spit (Ex) A plasma fish has a maximum range of 10 feet with its plasma spit. The fire produced by this attack is unaffected by being underwater.

This collection of hundreds of ghostly fish radiates light and heat.
Plasma Fish Swarm      CR 4
XP 1,200
N Diminutive animal (aquatic, swarm)
Init +7; Senses blindsight 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +9
AC 17, touch 17, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 size)
hp 39 (6d8+12)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +4
Defensive Abilities swarm traits; Immune fire
Speed 5 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee swarm (2d6 plus 1d6 fire and distraction)
Ranged 2 plasma spits +11 (2d6 fire)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks blinding burst, distraction (DC 15)
Str 1, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +4; CMB —; CMD
Feats Go UnnoticedAPG, Improved Initiative, Iron Will
Skills Perception +9, Swim +11
Blinding Burst (Ex) Instead of dealing damage with its plasma spit, a plasma fish swarm can induce temporary blindness in its opponent. The target must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or become blind for 1d6+1 round. A successful save reduces this effect to dazzled for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Plasma Spit (Ex) A plasma fish swarm has a maximum range of 20 feet with its plasma spit. The fire produced by this attack is unaffected by being underwater.

Plasma fish are extremely shy and usually attempt to flee from larger creatures. However, if trapped, they unleash fire that works remarkably well underwater. Plasma fish eat bioluminescent plants that they combine with enzymes to produce an inert plasma within their bodies. When they spit it out, it catches fire and burns as well as if it were in air.

Plasma fish live for 5 years, during which they lay hundreds of eggs once a year. After fertilization, they gestate for 1 month. The young plasma fish congregate into a massive swarm that collectively avoids predators, which still manage to winnow the fish down to a manageable population.

A spellcaster who uses a gland from an adult plasma fish (requiring a DC 15 Heal or Survival check to remove intact) as a spell component for a spell with the fire descriptor can cast the spell underwater with no change to the spell.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Frightful Fridays! Oceanic Hydra

It's a Frightful miracle! Yes, today's post is actually on a Friday. It's been a while since this feature has gone to the sea, and today's monster does so in a big way. The dread kraken-spawned oceanic hydra rampages across the sea, smashing ships and devouring sailors, and it enjoys protection from fire that would otherwise severely hinder it.

I hope you enjoy the oceanic hydra, and I'll be back next week with another monster. Thank you for reading!

PS: Don't forget the Here Be Monsters 2 contest going on now. This post has all the details you need to enter your monster. I'm hoping to see a lot of great entries!

Four crested serpentine heads are barely visible through a shroud of mist. The creature towers over maritime vessels.
Oceanic Hydra      CR 18
XP 153,600                                                                           
CE Colossal magical beast (aquatic)                  
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +25
Aura aquatic shell (5 ft.)
AC 33, touch 1, flat-footed 33 (–1 Dex, +32 natural, –8 size)
hp 312 (25d10+175); regeneration 20 (fire)
Fort +21, Ref +13, Will +12
Immune acid, cold
Speed 30 ft., swim 80 ft.
Melee 4 bites +29 (3d8+11/19–20 plus grab)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (60-ft. cone, 10d6 bludgeoning damage, Reflex DC 29 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds), capsize, constrict (3d8+11), ship killer
Str 33, Dex 8, Con 25, Int 5, Wis 18, Cha 10
Base Atk +25; CMB +44 (+46 bull rush, +48 grapple and sunder); CMD 53 (55 vs. bull rush and sunder, can't be tripped)
Feats Awesome Blow, Cleave, Cleaving FinishUC, Crippling CriticalAPG, Critical Focus, Great Cleave, Greater Sunder, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Cleaving FinishUC, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Perception +25, Swim +29
SQ hydra traits, regenerate head
Environment any aquatic
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
Aquatic Shell (Su) A constantly flowing shroud of water surrounds an oceanic hydra. This aura douses all nonmagical fires in the area and inflicts a –4 on ranged attack rolls. Additionally, the hydra gains concealment (20% miss chance) against all attacks made from more than 5 feet away. If a creature with the fire subtype ends its turn adjacent to the hydra, it takes 25d6 points of damage (DC 29 Reflex save for half). Finally, the shell dispels any fire spells targeting or including the hydra in their area, but the hydra must succeed on a dispel check (1d20 + the hydra’s HD) against the spell (DC 11 + caster level of the fire spell). If a hydra succeeds at dispelling a spell with an area of effect, it only dispels the portion covering the hydra’s space.
If an oceanic hydra takes at least 50 points of fire damage from a single source, it loses the benefit of its shell. If it is in a body of water, it can use a standard action to restore the shell.
Breath Weapon (Su) In addition to the damage dealt by an oceanic hydra’s breath weapon, the hydra also gains a free awesome blow combat maneuver against all creatures taking damage (creatures succeeding at their Reflex saves add 8 to their CMD).
Hydra Traits (Ex) An oceanic hydra 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 hydra'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 hydra's body equal to the hydra's current HD. A hydra can't attack with a severed head, but takes no other penalties.
Regenerate Head (Ex) When an oceanic hydra's head is destroyed, two heads regrow in 1d4 rounds. A hydra 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 fire damage must be dealt to the stump (a touch attack to hit) before they appear. Fire damage from area attacks can affect stumps and the body simultaneously. A hydra doesn't die from losing its heads until all are cut off and the stumps seared by fire.
Ship Killer (Ex) An oceanic hydra ignores 5 points of hardness with all of its attacks.

Dread krakens took terrestrial hydras for their regenerative abilities and grafted on several abilities to create marine engines of destruction. The resulting oceanic hydras are slightly more intelligent than their land-bound progenitors and only start off with four heads. Where they truly shine is in their devastating abilities. They breathe a torrent of seawater that pushes foes away, and they have a protective watery shell that proves antithetical to fiery creatures and effects. Oceanic hydras prefer to open their attacks by breaching the hulls of ships and attacking those fleeing from the sinking vessels. As with many dread kraken creations, these hydras owe no fealty to their creators, but the krakens are content to allow the hydras to rampage on the surface while they remain safe on the ocean floor.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Here Be Monsters 2!

Here Be Monsters 2 is ramping up, and I'm one of the judges this year! I'm in amazing company with Mikko Kallio and Jacob W. Michaels, both of whom run the blog A Sword for Hire, which is hosting the contest. The inimitable Adam Daigle is guest judging.

Check out the blog for more details. The monster requirements will be released soon. I hope you consider entering, and I look forward to reading your entries.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Frightful Fridays (nearly-Friday edition)! Athenaeum Sentinel

Hello, and welcome back to the second of this week's monsters. I'm zeroing in on Friday, and I anticipate actually posting a monster on the upcoming Friday. Today's monster comes from a picture on my friend Patrick's Facebook page, and an able assist by Drejk brought it to my attention. The post made reference to a devil dog, but I wanted something less evil this time (you know, for a change of pace), and the bookshelves behind the dog swerved me to the idea of a canine protector of arcane lore.

I hope you enjoy the athenaeum sentinel, and I should (really!) be back on Friday with a new monster. Thanks for reading!

No tomes for you! Rowf!

This otherwise unassuming dog’s eyes glow green, as if they could pierce through to a creature’s very soul.
Athenaeum Sentinel      CR 5
XP 1,600
N Small magical beast
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., know alignment, low-light vision; Perception +14
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 51 (6d10+18)
Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +5
Immune charm, compulsion, fear; SR 16
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +11 (2d6+6 plus trip)
Special Attacks final word
Str 19, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 17, Cha 19
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 22 (26 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +11 (+15 to jump), Intimidate +10, Perception +14, Sense Motive +11, Spellcraft +16; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics, +8 Spellcraft
Languages Common, Elven; tongues
SQ bardic knowledge +3, blast sanctum
Blast Sanctum (Su) If an athenaeum sentinel is caught within the area of a damaging spell or spell-like ability and the caster fails to penetrate the sentinel's SR, the effect is negated as if countered.
Final Word (Su) When an athenaeum sentinel dies, it affects all creatures within 40 feet as if targeted with the sentinel’s choice of dictum, holy word, or power word stun (CL 13th, save DC 21). If the sentinel chooses power word stun, the effect cannot exceed 150 total hit points and stuns creatures with the fewest hit points first.
Know Alignment (Su) An athenaeum sentinel automatically knows the alignment of any creature it can see.

Athenaeum sentinels were bred by mages who valued the dogs’ loyalty and infused them with magical abilities that allow them to drive off intruders and protect the repositories they protect from harm. Sentinels prefer to convince trespassers to leave peacefully, but they prepare for mayhem from chaotic or evil creatures. Their partners—the highly intelligent athenaeum sentinels do not regard them as “masters”—receive a warning akin to the alarm spell when athenaeum sentinels confront intruders and when they die. Unless the sentinels wish to inflict maximum damage to evil or chaotic opponents upon their deaths, they usually resort to power word stun on dying to hold their foes long enough for their partners to arrive and mete out whatever justice they wish to.

Because athenaeum sentinels spend much of their time around books and other documents, they have inherently absorbed considerable knowledge. While protecting their libraries, they use this knowledge to determine the best choice for their invader bane ability. Gaining a sentinel’s trust, especially convincing it that no harm will come to its protected materials, allows characters to ask it questions, for which it will provide answers to the best of its ability. Athenaeum sentinels released from duty find adventurers with whom they can share their wealth of knowledge and for whom they can act as protectors.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Frightful Fridays (mid-week edition)! Skittercorpse

Hello, and welcome back to a new edition of Frightful Fridays! I meant for this to go out on Friday, but life intervened, so here it is not even remotely close to Friday. My friend Patrick brought the artwork for this to my attention (and the alternate name of the Nope Crawler),. Since I can't say not to creepy spider-like monsters, I created the skittercorpse, which likes to pretend to be the body of a friend or family member to draw its meals close.

I hope you enjoy the skittercorpse, and I'll be back on a proper Friday with a new monster. If you're looking for more monsters, my friend Drejk posted a week's worth on his blog. You can check them out here:

Thanks for reading!

This vaguely recognizable corpse sprouts spear-like legs. A hungry maw opens at the top of its head.
Skittercorpse      CR 11
XP 12,800
CE Medium undead
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., lifesense 120 ft.; Perception +16
AC 26, touch 16, flat-footed 20 (+5 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural)
hp 136 (16d8+64); fast healing 2
Fort +8, Ref +10, Will +13
DR 5/good and slashing; Immune undead traits
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +20 (3d6+7 plus grab), 2 claws +19 (2d6+7/19–20)
Special Attacks ability drain, create spawn, dearly departed, horrific transformation, impalement
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th; concentration +19)
   Constant—nondetection (also defeats necromancy spells, such as deathwatch, that reveal its undead state), spider climb
Str 25, Dex 20, Con —, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +12; CMB +19 (+23 grapple); CMD 35 (can't be tripped)
Feats Dazzling Display, Deadly FinishUC, Dodge, Gory FinishUC, Improved Critical (claws), Mobility, Toughness, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +15 (+19 to jump), Bluff +13, Climb +22, Disguise +22, Perception +16, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +14, Stealth +18
Languages Common
SQ lockjaw
Environment any land
Organization solitary, pair, or abattoir (3–8)
Treasure incidental
Ability Drain (Su) When a skittercorpse establishes or maintains a grapple with its bite, it deals 1d4 Strength drain and 1d4 Wisdom drain. A creature reaching 0 in either ability score dies as a result.
Create Spawn (Su) A creature that dies while a skittercorpse has grappled it returns as a skittercorpse 24 hours later. The new creature is independent of the skittercorpse that created it.
Dearly Departed (Su)  A skittercorpse can scan the thoughts of creatures in range of its lifesense and takes on the appearance of dead humanoids with strong connections to the scanned creatures. If a target creature fails a DC 21 Will save, it becomes shaken when it sees the skittercorpse. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Horrific Transformation (Su) When a skittercorpse assumes its true form, all creatures within 120 feet of the skittercorpse must attempt a DC 21 Will save. Failure causes the victim to become frightened for 1d4 rounds. A creature affected by the skittercorpse’s dearly departed ability incurs a –4 penalty on the save and is frightened for 2d4 rounds on a failed save or 1 round on a successful save. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-Based.
Impalement (Ex) When a skittercorpse confirms a critical hit with a claw, it can make a grapple attempt as an immediate action. A success gives its opponent the pinned condition.
Lockjaw (Ex) A skittercorpse has a +4 racial bonus to grapple checks it attempts with its bite.

Skittercorpses use deception to lure the living to them, whereupon they change into their hideous forms and latch onto their unsuspecting victims. Given their ability to read the thoughts of those who come near them and their limited capability to assume different forms, scholars assume that skittercorpses are the reanimated remains of vengeful doppelgangers. Other theories suggest they arise from the bodies of people left behind to die by their companions, and their resentment drives them to lure the living to a horrifying doom. Skittercorpses prefer to use their thought-reading ability to create the appearance of a single individual common to all their victims to improve the deception, but they usually manage to trick at least one creature into approaching their inert forms. If no one approaches and does not attack, the corpses exert enough patience to wait for the next set of victims. Skittercorpses lair in places where corpses are commonly found, such as well-traveled dungeons or graveyards.

Skittercorpses attract will-o’-wisps to their lairs, as the latter creatures feast on the overwhelming fear generated by the former creatures. In return, will-o’-wisps act as candles or other sources of light to add to the ruse of an ordinary corpse.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Frightful Fridays! Cats and Dogs

Hello, and welcome back to Frightful Fridays! I am partially making up for the absence with a pair of entries today, so I've got an unusual cat and dog for you. The staubvolkekatze is a curious earth elemental with an appropriately cat-like form. Meanwhile, the pugbug (name courtesy of Paris Crenshaw) hides its alien appearance behind the pug's equally alien appearance. Thanks to Derek for the find on the staubvolkekatze, and to Patrick for the find on the pugubg!

I hope you enjoy both creatures, and I'll be back with another pair of monsters to get back on track. Thanks for reading!

A billowing cloud of dust moves of its own accord and forms the face of a cat.
Staubvolkekatze      CR 2
XP 600
CN Small outsider (earth, elemental, native)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +6
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 size)
hp 19 (3d10+3)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +1
Immune elemental traits
Weaknesses vulnerable to wind
Speed 10 ft., burrow 20 ft., fly 30 ft. (average)
Melee slam +7 (1d3–4 plus choking and stinging dust)
Special Attacks choking and stinging dust, death curse
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +4)
   1/day—obscuring mist
Str 2, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 5, Wis 11, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB –2; CMD 12 (can't be tripped)
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Weapon FinesseB
Skills Escape Artist +9, Fly +9, Perception +6, Stealth +12
Languages Terran (cannot speak)
SQ compression
Environment warm deserts and plains
Organization solitary, pair, or dust storm (3–8)
Choking and Stinging Dust (Ex) A creature struck by a staubvolkekatze’s slam attack also takes 2d6 points of piercing and slashing damage. Additionally, the creature must succeed at a DC 12 Fortitude save or become sickened for 1d4 rounds. If it already has the sickened condition from this ability, it instead becomes nauseated for the duration. The save DC is Constitution-based.
If a creature ends its turn adjacent to the staubvolkekatze, the creature takes 1d6 points of piercing and slashing damage.
Death Curse (Su) If a staubvolkekatze dies, all creatures it damaged during the previous minute are affected as if by cup of dustAPG (DC 13 Fortitude negates).
Vulnerable to Wind (Ex) A staubvolkekatze takes 1 point of damage if it is subjected to strong winds. Severe winds deal 1d4 points of damage to the staubvolkekatze, and more powerful winds require it to succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1 per 10 mph) to avoid destruction.

A staubvolkekatze is an inquisitive earth elemental with a weak cohesion in the dust particles making up its form. Scholars speculate that the first staubvolkekatze sprung into existence as a result of a larger earth elemental’s disintegration. The creature patterned its appearance after the first living being it encountered—a cat—and all staubvolkekatzen take the same appearance. If left to its own devices, a staubvolkekatze is docile and will not attack. It follows someone it finds interesting and indulges its curiosity as long as its focus of attention allows it. Other than it becoming bored, the only non-hostile means of discouraging its attention is to subject it to powerful winds.

A staubvolkekatze’s curiosity leads it to ally with spellcasters who can communicate with it. A 7th-level spellcaster with the Improved Familiar feat and the ability to speak Terran can select a staubvolkekatze as a familiar. The creature loses its death curse ability when it becomes a familiar.

The little dog’s face tears open to allow an arachnoid creature to crawl out of it.
Pugbug      CR 4
XP 1,200
CE Tiny aberration
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 16 (+4 Dex, +4 natural, +2 size)
hp 37 (5d8+15)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +5
Defensive Abilities dog shell; DR 5/piercing or slashing; Resist acid 10
Speed 20 ft.
Melee bite +9 (1d4–2 plus 3d6 acid and poison)
Space 2½ ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks shellburst
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +7)
   3/day—ventriloquism (DC 13)
   1/day—darkness, misdirection
Str 6, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 15
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 13 (21 vs. trip)
Feats Deceitful, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +11 (+7 to jump), Bluff +9, Climb +9, Craft (taxidermy) +8, Disguise +9 (+13 Disguise while in dog shell), Escape Artist +10, Perception +8, Stealth +16; Racial Modifiers +4 Disguise while in dog shell
Languages Aklo, Common
Environment any land
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure none
Dog Shell (Ex) A pugbug spends most of its life in a hardy dog shell. As a full-round action, it can extract itself from the shell, leaving it intact for reentry. Upon doing so, it loses its natural armor bonus and DR, but its speed increases by 10 ft., and it gains a climb speed of 20 ft. (adding +8 to its Climb checks).
Pugbug Poison (Ex) Bite—Injury; save Fort DC 15; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d4 Dex; cure 2 consecutive saves.
Shellburst (Ex) As a swift action, a pugbug can burst forth from its dog shell, destroying the shell in the process. This gory display forces all creatures that see it to make a DC 14 Will save. Failure causes a victim to become shaken.

A global war ruined a distant world populated by intelligent arachnoid and insectoid creatures. The arachnids won the war, but their planet will soon stop supporting life. They discovered a new world with an environment similar to that of their world, and their greatest minds developed a way to travel to their potential new home. Exercising caution, they elected to send a handful of scouts to discover whether the populace would welcome their arrival, or, barring that, whether they could destroy or enslave the inhabitants. The scouts enjoy crafting disguises for themselves from other creatures, and they formerly used the carapaces of their insectoid enemies to infiltrate their camps. During their first forays into this world, they discovered the ubiquity of dogs and the access the animals had to various locations. They decided to assume the form of pugs, since pug eyes provide them with a perfect disguise for their overly large eyes. Their species name is an unpronounceable set of clicks mixed with pheromones, so they are known as pugbugs to those that have uncovered their ruse.

Pugbug scouts maintain their disguises while they are on this world and only extract themselves from their shells when they have been found out and must escape. In order to preserve their disguises, they forgo applying acid damage and poison to their bites. Pugbugs are insectivores, but they find meat palatable and will eat scraps typically provided to dogs. They have also discovered that digging around an ant mound is not uncommon behavior for dogs, so they can supplement their diets without arousing suspicion.