Monday, 3 October 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Norker and Nycadaemon

As I write this, I am wearing an eye patch over my right eye so that I can focus on the page. Call it an experiment in therapeutic pharmacology, something that had a chance of increasing my sense of balance but just didn’t pan out. Now I am waiting to see how long it will take for the unwanted side effects to go away. I am hoping not more than a day or two. I am really hoping missing a second dose in the morning will be enough.

Anyway, the Fiend Folio has only six monsters starting with the letter N. These are the last two.

Next post in this series will do all of the monsters starting with O, but as there are only two in the Fiend Folio, that isn’t as huge as it sounds. We really are more than halfway through!

 

 

 

 

Norker

Norker: Init +2; Atk Club +2 melee (1d4+2) or bite +3 melee (1d3); AC 17; HD 1d10+2; MV 25’; Act 1d20; SP infravision 60’, free bite attack if club hits; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +1; AL C.

Distant cousins of the hobgoblins (see page 417 of the core rulebook), norkers have developed 3-inch fangs, with which they can deliver a nasty bite as a free action if their club attack hits. The norker also has a very tough skin, forming a type of exoskeleton, accounting for its high Armor Class.

By all accounts, norkers are more primitive than their hobgoblin cousins – in terms of arms and armor, biology, and tactics. Clubs are the height of norker technology, but if they have the means to get hold of better weapons, these become prized possessions and family heirlooms. Norkers still get a free bite attack if their weapon attack hits, no matter what that weapon is.

 

 

Nycadaemon

Daemons are Neutral spirits, equivalent in some ways to the demons of Chaos and the angels of Law. There are many types of daemons, but regardless of type, all share the following traits: Immunity to non-magical weapons; immunity to mind-affecting spells and effects; immunity to any spell or effect that would forcibly change the daemon’s shape, form, or substance (including petrifaction); and the ability to speak and understand all languages.

Nycadaemon: Init +5; Atk Claws +8 melee (2d6+8) or by weapon +12 melee (by weapon +8) or spell; AC 24; HD 12d12; MV 30’ or fly 90’; Act 1d20; SP Daemon traits, exceptional Strength (+8 bonus), immunity to weapons of less than +2 value, magic resistance, spellcasting, personal name, telepathy; SV Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +15; AL N.

Perhaps the most powerful of the daemons, the nycadaemons roam the nether planes at will, avoided by all lesser creatures (even many demons), for they are totally wicked and domineering, caring not who or what they enslave or exploit, but always acting with genius-level intelligence to maximizing their own  power and security. They will co-operate with other evil beings whenever mutual actions are likely to prove beneficial to themselves, betraying them only when it offers an even greater advantage. If they can successfully blame one of their rivals for the evil they do, so much the better.

Nycadaemons can communicate telepathically to any target within 500’, as well as possessing the ability to understand and speak all languages. They are enormously strong (+8 Strength bonus). If they have a weapon, it is 50% likely to be magical (as created by the judge). They may also use shields, which increase their AC as normal, and are 25% likely to have at least a +1d3 enchantment (as per judge).

Nycadaemons can cast the following spells with a +12 bonus to their spell checks: Detect invisible, detect magic, enlarge, gust of wind, invisibility, mirror image, phantasm, planar step, read magic, and scare. Conversely, they are incredibly resistant to magic created by others. In this case, there is a 110% minus 10% per spell level that a spell cast at a nycadaemon simply fails, or that an existing spell collapses when a nycadaemon interacts with it. This means that nycadaemons are completely immune to 1st level spells, and even 5th level spells fail 60% of the time.

Nycadaemons have a personal names, which the keep secret as a a being that knows a nycadaemon’s person name can use it when casting spells to bypass the daemon’s magic resistance and natural immunities (such as to mind-affecting spells). Such audacity is almost certainly the death warrant of the caster, as a nycademon will not stop plotting the audacious one’s demise until it or the offender is dead. Nycadaemons are well versed in such plots, having millennia of practice.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Some Background

Okay, let's talk about why I have started a Patreon, and why now.

I've been running RPGs since Christmas day 1979, starting with Holmes Blue Box. There have been fallow periods, but I've been sitting in the GM's chair pretty steadily for over 40 years. Right from the start, I was writing my own material, but also right from the start I delighted in running things others have written. Just as our world does not have a single architect designing its buildings, or a single voice for the people therein, using materials created by others allows for variation and, through that variation, greater verisimilitude. The fantasy world seems more real.

I had published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry previously, but my first published RPG work was in the 3.x era of the World's Most Popular RPG through Dragon Roots Magazine. Since then, I have done some work for Old School games, including artwork and a couple of magic items in Petty Gods. I have over 90 credits to my name in the Dungeon Crawl Classics system - for adventure writing, conversions, additional writing, articles, and advice.

Before the pandemic, I was working a fulltime job, participating in the "DM & Dine" program at Storm Crow Manor in Toronto (essentially, being paid to run games), running regular and Con games, and writing. But the pandemic shifted things for all of us, some of us more than others. For one thing, the "DM & Dine" program closed by necessity, cutting off one income stream.  The slow emergence from the pandemic had other effects, making me far more aware that my employer's changes in management could well threaten my primary income. 

Then during the pandemic symptoms progressed that I was no longer able to ignore, and I was diagnosed with spinal-cerebral ataxia, a progressive disease that will eventually take away both mobility and speech. While I certainly hope that is a long way in the future, I am more than a little aware of a sense of time running out. 

So, yes, this is obviously an attempt to build a new income stream against the worst that might happen. But it is also an attempt to make a real contribution, on my own terms, to the hobby and the game that we all love while I still can. Again, that may be decades - and I hope that it is! - but I no longer have the luxury of assuming time is on my side.

For those of you who have joined me on the journey, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And, yes, I know that a lot of us are feeling the squeeze these days. Don't feel bad if you cannot, or even simply don't want to, join my Patreon. The main blog and the DCC Trove of Treasures are still going to exist, as long as I am able to maintain them!

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Nilbog and Nonafel

I am not really sure if anyone is still reading my ruminations on the Fiend Folio, or if you are jumping right to the monsters, but today we include two monsters that I have never used in an adventure.

I’ve never used the Nilbog due to its basic premise. I mean, within the general parameters of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, this is a monster that is hard to make anything more than a mean-spirited “gotcha”. I think that Dungeon Crawl 

Classics may be more robust in this regard, in that patrons and divine intervention are baked into the rules, and might provide a party of harried adventurers at least some control over their actions. That nilbogism affects the area around the Nilbog is also baked into the text, but if the signs you have entered such a dangerous zone make you want to retreat, the chances are that you are only going deeper.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Nonafel, but the creature (as it appeared in the Fiend Folio) was a bit hard to run, and never really grabbed me. I have cleaned it up a bit here, and I hope that it grabs you. If you use this version of the Nonafel, or used the Fiend Folio version, I would love to hear about it. Likewise the Nilbog. 

There have to be some really great stories out there, which will add a whole new dimension to my gaming!

As with the previous post, if you are enjoying these conversions, and feel like tipping, please consider supporting my Patreon. There is a $1 per month “tip jar” option, but October is Halloween Month and I have plans for the backer rewards.



Nilbog

Nilbog: Init -1; Atk bite -1 melee (1d3) or as weapon -1 melee; AC 10 + armor; HD 1d6-1; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP infravision 60’, nilbogism; SV Fort -2, Ref +1, Will -2; AL L.

This creature is in all ways like a normal goblin (see page 417 of the core rulebook) with one important exception – it suffers from a curious spatio-temporal reversal called nilbogism. This strange disorder occurs when magic strains the fabric of the space-time continuum, due to a phlogiston disturbance, perhaps, or a mercurial effect, and leads to some very strange localized events. The rare conditions which lead to nilbogism are only imperfectly understood, and only goblins seem to be directly infected by or carry the disorder.

Many and varied accounts have been received about the nature of the space-time disturbances which take place in the presence of nilbogs. Only one factor appears to be common – those who encounter a nilbog have no control over their own actions and will generally pursue courses of action contrary to their normal intent. For example they may feel an overwhelming compulsion to load all their treasure into an empty treasure chest in the nilbog lair and leave empty-handed. There are no saves against these effects, nor is there any known defense, although patrons and gods may be able to offer some assistance there.

Another curious feature of nilbog power is that the creature gains hit points when it is struck, equal to the damage rolled. It only loses hit points by such means as a clerics Lay on Hands, forcibly feeding it healing potions, and the like.

For obvious reasons, encounters with these strange creatures are dreaded. Where nilbogs have been encountered, normal goblins tend to be treated with extreme caution, as there appears to be no way to distinguishing between normal goblins and nilbogs, save by creative spell use or trial and error.

Judges who include nilbogs in their adventures need to be ready both with generalized distortion of the space-time continuum (rabbits eating wolves, flowers pollinating bees, and so on), as well as being ready to ad-lib how the aura of nilbogism distorts the PCs’ actions from their stated intents. The judge should determine how far these effects extend from the creature (3d10 x 10’ to 1d6 miles).  Finding a way to defeat a nilbog is more a mental puzzle than a tactical challenge.

 

Nonafel                                                          

Nonafel (Parent): Init +5; Atk Tail +7 melee (2d10) or bite +5 melee (1d8) or claw +3 melee (1d5); AC 15; HD 9d8; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP Disassociate, regenerate when reintegrated; SV Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +5; AL C.

 Nonafel (Child): Init +5; Atk Tail +5 melee (1d8) or bite +3 melee (1d5) or claw +1 melee (1d3); AC 13; HD 1d8; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP Reintegrate, regenerate when reintegrated; SV Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +3; AL C.

 


Also known as a cat o’ nine tails, this carnivorous feline monster resembles a large black panther with yellow, bloodshot eyes. Their secondary name comes from their unusual dissociative power, which enables them to divide into nine individual black panthers, or to reintegrate back into a single creature. This power doesn’t use an Action Die, is almost instantaneous, and appears to be instinctive.

Dissociation: The “parent” creature turns into nine “child” creatures, each of which appears within 5’ of another. They share the same mind, and can coordinate their actions, usually attempting to surround prey so that it cannot escape. The parent beast has 9 Hit Dice, each child 1 Hit Die. When the creature dissociates, the parent's hits will be divided as equally as possible between the children (so a parent of 49 hits will divide into five children with 5 hits each and four with 6 hits each; judges are encouraged to calculate an unwounded baseline ahead of time). A parent nonafel dissociates every 1d3 rounds (1 indicating the first round of combat, or the first round of reintegration).

Reintegration: If one or more of the “children” are damaged during melee there is a 1 in 4 non-cumulative chance each round that the creature will reintegrate to form the parent creature, so long as no child creature is more than 20’ from another. This does not take an Action Die, and occurs at the end of the round (after normal attacks). Dead children also disappear, reintegrated into the whole. When reintegrated, the parent regenerate 1 hp per round per surviving child (up to 9 hp). There is a new dissociation in 1d3 rounds, which, if a child is killed, results in fewer offspring. The bodies of slain children do not reappear.

Although they can use claws and bite, the nonafel’s most devastating attack is its long flail-like, which it swings over its head to strike targets in front of it.

When a disassociated nonafel is slain, it always reverts to its parent form; there are never multiple feline corpses left behind. This is unfortunate, as the skin of these creatures can fetch up to 150 gp if undamaged…and each hit point of slashing damage done to it (for example, by swords or axes) reduces its value by 1 gp.

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Necrophidius and Needleman

The Fiend Folio is full of cool creatures. Yes, some are probably duds, but it is also true you’re your or my dud is someone else’s favorite creature. There are no duds in this entry – the Necrophidius and Needleman are definitely cool. In fact, the Needlemen are so cool that, although they have yet to attack anyone in the games I run, I did use them in my Castle Xyntillan conversion for Dungeon Crawl Classics! Between the monastery which forms the last safe spot, and the valley where the castle lies, there is a pine-shrouded mountain trail. More than one party has seen what appear to be green faces peering out from the foliage.

The Necrophidius is a near-perfect monster for a funnel. It is likely to surprise, and uses the surprise round to hypnotize part of a mob with its dance of death. It has a high AC, but relatively low hit points, so that the still-mobile Zeroes have a chance of avoiding a TPK, but also know how close to a TPK they came. Poetry in motion. And the judge can include a tome of instructions to tempt the PCs into Questing For a giant snake’s bones, a murder’s head, and enough gold to pay for the thing!

As with the previous post, if you are enjoying these conversions, and feel like tipping, please consider supporting my Patreon. There is a $1 per month “tip jar” option, but October is Halloween Month and I have plans for the backer rewards.

As always, if you use any of these creatures, I would love to hear about it. If you want to use them in a published product, let me know, because some of the text is reworked from the Fiend Folio, and you will need to know what to rework. A lot of Fiend Folio monsters are usable due to the 3e Tome of Horrors, but a few will need the serial numbers filed off before than can be used commercially.


Necrophidius

Necrophidius: Init +6; Atk Bite +2 melee (1d8 plus paralysis) or dance of death; AC 18; HD 2d12; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Construct, paralysis, dance of death, silence, magic vulnerability; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +0; AL N.


Sometimes known as a death worm, the necrophidius appears to be the skeleton of a giant snake with a fanged human skull for its head. These are not un-dead, but rather constructed monsters, similar in some ways to golems. As constructs, they are immune to sleep, mind-affecting magic or effects, and substances that affect metabolic processes (such as poison).

The bite of a necrophidius carries a magical paralysis that lasts 1d4 turns (Will DC 16 negates). It is also able to perform the dance of death – a hypnotic, semi-magical swaying which rivets the attention of any victim who sees it and fails  DC 13 Will save. This allows the necrophidius to advance and attack without opposition, for the creature only uses an Action Die to begin the dance of death, and can maintain it for free. Once potential victims save, they do not need to save again unless the necrophidius uses another Action Die to start a new dance of death, and it must stop the previous one for 1d3 rounds in order to do so.

These monsters can move with complete silence, and are often able to achieve surprise by approaching inattentive victims from behind. However, the processes used in their creation leave necrophidiae strangely vulnerable to magic. Any magic that is capable of harming the constructs causes three times the normal effect. Magic that does not harm them, but is able to affect them, also has three times the normal effect (as interpreted by the judge).

A necrophidius is created for one specific purpose and is therefore generally met in the role of assassin or guard. There are at least three ways known to create a necrophidius. The first is by means of a magical tome of instructions, which removes the need for spellcasting, but not the associated costs. The second method is for a wizard to cast breathe life, paralysis, and charm person with a minimum spell check of 18 to each spell, and a minimum of 3 points of spellburn in addition to any used to cast the spells. The final method is for a cleric to cast paralysis, curse, word of command, and snake charm, with a minimum spell check of 16 to each spell. For both the wizardly and clerical methods, the spells have no other effect than to imbue the necrophidius with a semblance of life, and establish its master’s control over it.

All of three methods require the complete articulated skeleton of a giant serpent and the skull of a cold-blooded murderer killed within the previous 24 hours (at the time construction begins). Construction costs 50 gp per hit point of the creature (between 100 and 1,200 gp) and 3d6 days of work.

 


 Needlemen                                                             

Needleman: Init +0; Atk Needles +2 ranged (2d6, 20’ range); AC 14; HD 3d6+3; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Plant, camouflage +10; SV Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +2; AL N.

Needlemen are intelligent plants which live in conifer forests, and are rarely encountered elsewhere. They appear something like green-brown zombies covered with pine-like needle, although they are neither animal nor un-dead. It can fire these needles up to a range of 20’, and, while each individual needle does little damage, the Needleman fires so many of them that the effect is substantial. For practical purposes, its supply of needles is infinite.

In some cases, travelers will claim to have caught half-seen glimpses of green faces when travelling in pine woods, thinking them fey when in fact they were needlemen. Beyond their normal haunts, the camouflage bonus of needlemen is limited, or eliminated altogether (as determined by the judge). They appear to hate elves, and attack them on sight, but as they have neither language nor an animal-like nervous system, the true cause of their behavior is merely conjecture. Some speculate that the needlemen originated in Elfland, but were banished to the Lands We Know so long ago that only the trees – and the needlemen – remember.

 

Friday, 30 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Mezzodaemon and Mite

First appearing in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module D3: Vault of the Drow, the Mezzodaemon is not only necessary to complete the Fiend Folio conversions, it is also necessary for judges wishing to use this classic adventure with the Dungeon Crawl Classics system. I mean, obviously, throw as much weird in there as you like – the GDQ Series certainly did in comparison to other modules of the day – but these adventures don’t deserve to be forgotten by modern gamers, and they deserve being played in a system that brings out their best!

There is something intrinsically right about little monsters running around in tunnels behind the dungeon tunnels, and the Fiend Folio certainly embraced the idea. This is our second such entry (the first being the Jermlaine) and we are not done yet. Make Monsters Mysterious is serious advice, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having variations on a theme. Judges are considered to use the tables for Variety in Humanoids (page 310 of the core rulebook) for these tiny humanoids as well.

This post completes the “M”s.

As with the previous post, if you are enjoying these conversions, and feel like tipping, please consider supporting my Patreon, as if you want to dip into any month just to see if you like it, Halloween month is probably the one to choose.

If you use any of these creatures, I would love to hear about it. Yes, I know that having to get comments approved is a pain, but the spambots are real. Actually, "spambot" would make a good MCC or Umerica monster....

 

 Mezzodaemon

Daemons are Neutral spirits, equivalent in some ways to the demons of Chaos and the angels of Law. There are many types of daemons, but regardless of type, all share the following traits: Immunity to non-magical weapons; immunity to mind-affecting spells and effects; immunity to any spell or effect that would forcibly change the daemon’s shape, form, or substance (including petrifaction); and the ability to speak and understand all languages.

Mezzodaemon: Init +4; Atk Talon +6 melee (1d6+6) or by weapon +9 melee (by weapon +6) or spell; AC 23; HD 8d8; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP Daemon traits, infravision 60’, spellcasting, magic resistance, immunity to poison, half damage (fire, cold, acid), telepathy 50’ range, personal name; SV Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +12; AL N.

Mezzodaemons roam the various hells and abysses where souls are tormented after death, as well as the astral plane and the aether. They freely associate with all types of witches and demons, and it is not too difficult to summon them to the Lands We Know, as they enjoy wreaking havoc here and they are willing to associate with evil folk of any alignment if the price is right and their “superior” position is generally recognized. Mezzodaemons have a limited form of telepathy which allows them to communicate within 50’ of a target, as well as the ability to understand and speak all languages.

A mezzodaemon is enormously strong (+6 Strength bonus). They can strike with horny hands and talons, but will often use some form of weapon. These weapons are 25% likely to be magical (as created by the judge), and mezzodaemons with magical arms use these to their fullest potential. They prefer battle-axes, flails, and two-handed swords, all of which they can use one-handed. Mezzodaemons may also use shields, which increase their AC as normal.

Mezzodaemons can cast the following spells with a +8 bonus to their spell checks: Detect invisible, detect magic, ESP, invisibility, levitate, and planar step. Conversely, they are incredibly resistant to magic created by others. In this case, there is a 100% minus 10% per spell level that a spell cast at a mezzodaemon simply fails, or that an existing spell collapses when a mezzodaemon interacts with it. This means that 1st level spells fail 90% of the time, and even 5th level spells fail 50% of the time.

Each mezzodaemon has a personal name, which is kept very secret to avoid being commanded by nycadaemons, demon lords, archdevils, and similar creatures, and to avoid entrapment by mortals. A being that knows a mezzodaemon’s person name can use it when casting spells to bypass the daemon’s magic resistance and natural immunities (such as to mind-affecting spells). If a human wizard discovers a mezzodaemon’s personal name, the creature may well offer a service to a group of adventurers in exchange for proof of that wizard’s death.

 

Mite

Mite: Init +5; Atk Bite +0 melee (1d3) or loaded club +2 melee (1d3 subdual); AC 12; HD 1d4-1; MV 10’; Act 1d16; SP Trapmaking; SV Fort -4, Ref +6, Will +0; AL C.

These small humanoids are a mere 2 feet in height, with large heads and evil faces. They inhabit networks of narrow tunnels above and below main dungeon corridors, where their scurrying feet and high-pitched twittering voices can often be heard by roving groups of adventurers. However, mites are rarely seen and never openly attack. Instead, they attempt to ensnare the lone adventurers or unwary stragglers using trapdoors, nets, tripwires, and similar means, bundling their captive off before help arrives if they can. The entrances to their tunnels are hidden and can only be detected with a DC 10 Intelligence check. Even then, the tunnels are small and difficult of access to those of human build. Those captured by mites are robbed, stripped, bound and beaten. Then, somewhat later, they are returned helpless to the main corridor at the mercy of wandering-monsters.

Mites are related to jermlaine and snyads. So far as can be detected, they have no developed language as such – their vocal twittering conveys only the most rudimentary information.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Mephits!

I don’t think that I need to say too much about these jolly fellows, do I? Most of the cool demons and devils in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons were too powerful for low- to mid-level characters, and the Fiend Folio rectified this. While Dungeon Crawl Classics thinks nothing of throwing a demon at your 1st level (or even 0-level!) PCs, and will let you face the Courts of Chaos before the night soil is shaken from your gongfarmer’s boots, there is something to be said for those creatures who are, effectively, the turnip farmers of the lower planes.

I think that a word needs to be said here about the Smoke Mephit. Well, two words: Weird Frontiers. If you don’t immediately envision a Smoke Mephit in some dingy factory town, or either a Smoke or Steam Mephit on a train…well, I do.  And there is something very Screwtape Letters about Mephits strutting around in tacky garments, puffing on foul-smelling cigars. While they are certainly not the most Sword & Sorcery demons RPGs have ever statted out, they are maybe the most believably infernal…or at least the closest to the kinds of evil we encounter in our daily lives.

 


 
Mephits

Just as gongfarmers and rat-catchers fill the ranks of the mundane folk of the Worlds We Know, within the various Hells, mephitis serve as jesters, messengers, slaves, and errand-runners for demons, devils, and their ilk. It is taught by some holy folk that the mephits are themselves the transformed souls of people whose earthly existence had been particularly malign, and that, for the most part, they are tortured through being the lowest of infernal society, barely above the larvae and lost souls the mephits help to punish.

These vile beings are connoisseurs of the vulgar. They share an extraordinarily twisted sense of humor, delighting in the agony of others, and, in particular, tormenting the helpless. If they can obtain them, they will wear clothing of the most garish design and color possible, and strut around puffing upon smoking rolls of exceedingly foul-smelling dried vegetation. Their voices are shrill and mocking.

Mephits cannot travel the planes through their own power, so when they appear in the Lands We Know, they are always on some evil mission for a diabolic Power, or summoned to malignant duty by an earthly magician. The tasks they are set can be very specific, such as capturing or slaying a specific enemy of some Demon Prince, or it can be open-ended, even so far as indiscriminate looting and killing.

All mephits have a breath weapon. All are immune to fire-based attacks, but take double damage from cold. Non-magical weapons do -1d damage on the dice chain to these creatures. Although they cannot travel the planes of their own volition, all mephits may forgo all other actions to attempt summoning another of their kind once each day. This has a 1 in 3 chance of success, with the type of mephit summoned being determined randomly – roll 1d4: (1) Fire, (2) lava, (3) smoke, or (4) steam. Summoned mephits appear at the beginning of the next round and may, in turn, attempt to summon additional mephits.

 

Fire Mephit

Fire Mephit: Init +3; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3+1) or breath weapon or spell; AC 15; HD 3d8+3; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, spells, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, flaming aura; SV Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (3/day): Either a 15’ long jet of flame which automatically hits (1d8+1 damage, Reflex DC 12 for half) or a 5’ square blanket of flame immediately in front of the mephit (1d5 damage to all victims, no save).

Fire mephits are surrounded with wisps of flame, so that any creature touching them suffers 1 hp damage (this extra damage is already added to their claw attacks). Fire mephits are able to cast the following spells, with a +3 bonus to their spell check: Flaming hands and scorching ray.

 

Lava Mephit

Lava Mephit: Init +1; Atk Claw +1 melee (1d8+1 plus dissolve materials) or breath weapon; AC 14; HD 3d8; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, heat aura, dissolve materials, transformation, regeneration from lava; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 3 rounds): Molten blob of lava which automatically hits a target within 10’ (1d6 damage, no save). Unless the mephit is in contact with lava or magma, roll 1d8 every time the creature uses its breath weapon. On a “1”, its lava is exhausted until it can “recharge” by coming into contact with molten stone.

These mephits constantly ooze molten lava from their bodies in small drops, just as though it were very heavy perspiration. The heat from their bodies can be sensed 30’ away, and causes 1d8 damage to anyone coming in direct contact. This is already calculated into their claw damage.

Their touch can automatically dissolve materials. Some materials, such as wood and stone, dissolve slowly (1 inch per hour), but metals are dissolved quickly – each hit against an armored foe reduces the AC value of the armor by 1d3 points. If a lava mephit is hit by a non-magical metal weapon, the weapon is destroyed unless the wielder succeeds in a DC 15 Reflex save – and, even of the save succeeds, the weapon’s damage is reduced by -1d on the dice chain.

Lava mephits may change their shape with an Action Die, taking the form of a pool of molten lava (which does not count as being in contact with lava for recharging their breath weapon or regeneration; see below). In this form, they cannot make active attacks, but can be damaged – the primary benefit to the mephit is that it may hide its true nature.

Lava mephits regenerate 2 hp/round in volcanic regions where they can come into contact with molten stone, although they do not regenerate after reaching 0 hp.

 

Smoke Mephit

Smoke Mephit: Init +2; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3) or breath weapon or spell; AC 16; HD 3d8; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 2d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, spells, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, death throes; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 2 rounds): A sooty ball of black smoke, which hits a single victim within 20’ for 1d4 damage (no save). The victim is also blinded for 1d3 rounds (Fort DC 10 negates).

These shadowy mephits ooze smoke, and prefer to inhabit dark, smoky areas in the Lands We Know, never emerging into bright light unless forced to do so. They are able to cast choking cloud and invisibility with a +3 bonus to the spell check.

When a smoke mephit dies, it coughs up a cloud of flaming smoke, doing 1 hp damage to all within 10’ (no save).

The preferred habitation of these mephits is rare enough on most young worlds, but on planes where an industrial revolution has taken place, smoke mephits may be more common, and more bold.

 

 

 

Steam Mephit

Steam Mephit: Init +3; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3+1 plus stun) or breath weapon or rainstorm; AC 13; HD 3d8+6; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, stun, boiling rainstorm, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, steaming aura, contaminate water; SV Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +1; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 2 rounds): A 20’ long jet of scalding water, which automatically hits a target for 1d3 damage (no save). Victim is stunned and loses their next action (Fort DC 12 negates).

These gray fiends continuously ooze hot steam and water, leaving a wet trail behind them when they move. They are hot enough that touching one causes 1 hp damage and forces the unfortunate to succeed in a DC 10 Fort save or be stunned, losing their next action. This extra damage is already calculated into their claw damage.

Once per day a steam mephit can create a “rainstorm” of boiling water that does 2d6 damage to all targets within a 30’ radius. In addition, once each hour it can contaminate all water within 60’, making it entirely unfit to drink.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Meazel and Meenlock

The Fiend Folio is one of my favorite monster books of all time, if not my absolute favorite. And today I am presenting conversions of two of the monsters I have enjoyed and used to good effect!

The Meazel is not Gollum, oh, no, My Precious, but in terms of where it lives and how it operates? It was a fantastic Gollum analogue back in the day. Thief abilities in Dungeon Crawl Classics are no joke; when a Meazel sneaks up on you, you are going to feel it. First, there is the Backstab bonus to hit. Second, any hit is an automatic Critical.

I have reduced the Hit Dice of this creature somewhat, because the point was never, as I see it, that they were fierce combatants, and probably should not be able to stand toe-to-toe with a warrior for long.

The Meenlocks are a glorious creation. I have a sense that they reproduce some fictional entity as well, but I haven’t been able to pin this down. If you know what inspired them, please let me know, because I would love to read it!

Here is a monster that uses the players’ own curiosity against their characters. I absolutely love it! I can easily picture the Meenlock’s lair, and their shaggy bodies reflecting their mossy homes. They hate you because they used to be you, but they only come after you because your actions invited them to do so. The nature of the creature ensures that you know what the risk is, and, should you avoid it, you have nonetheless experienced its potential.

The Meenlock is not only a great monster, but it is a great monster for conversion. Here the differences between Dungeon Crawl Classics and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons shine – DCC has mechanics which make reflecting the mental torture created by the Meenlocks both easy and meaningful. I did reduce the Meenlocks’ Hit Dice, but left them with their formidable ability to take opponents out of a combat through fear and paralysis.

If you use my conversion of Meenlocks in your DCC game – or any conversion of Meenlocks – or even Meenlocks as written in the Fiend Folio in any game whatsoever – I would love to hear about it! They are a challenging, horror-based creature, and Halloween is not that far away!

 

 

Meazel

Meazel: Init +0; Atk By weapon +1 melee (by weapon) or claw +2 melee (1d4) or garrote +3 melee (1/3d4); AC 12; HD 2d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Infravision 60’, thief skills; SV Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +0; AL C.

Thief Skills: Backstab +5, Sneak Silently +6, Hide In Shadows +4, Pick Pocket +2, Climb Sheer Surfaces +4, Pick Lock +4, Find Trap +6, Disable Trap +2, Handle Poison +5.

These nasty creatures dwell in marshland or small, dank caverns underground, where they use their abilities to harass and eat any creatures weaker than themselves. They rarely attack openly, preferring to hide, moving quietly and swiftly, to strangle stragglers from behind or to pick pockets in search of the gold they love. Even other humanoids and dungeon dwellers usually attack meazels on sight, knowing full well that a dead meazel is safer than a living one, and to let a meazel you have seen escape merely invites a meazel you have not seen to stab you from behind. Meazels have several thief abilities, and, like thieves, they automatically achieve a critical hit with a successful backstab.

Meazels are slightly shorter than the average human, with irregular angry red patches on their otherwise light grey to dark green skin – this is due to a disease which is neither harmful to the creature beyond its disfiguring effect, nor contagious, but which does give it an almost leprous appearance. Piles of sacks full of bones are often to be found near their lair, and these may contain odd bits of equipment and even gems, as meazels do not recognize the value of precious and semi-precious stones.

 


Meenlock

Meenlock: Init +2; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d4 plus paralysis); AC 13; HD 4d6; MV 20’ or climb 20’; Act 2d20; SP Infravision 90’, fear, paralysis, teleportation 60’, stealthy +10, distant telepathy, transformation, light vulnerability; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +4; AL L.

Meenlocks are two-foot-tall bipedal creatures covered in shaggy black fur. Their heads are white, cut with dark ridges. In total they present a horrid appearance and will cause fear in any character of 2nd level or less; victims drop all held items and fall to the ground, unable to act for 1d4+4 rounds (Will DC 10 for half). Their touch causes paralysis (1d4+4 rounds, DC 12 for half), and they are able to use an Action Die to teleport up to 60’ to an area they know, can see, or can reasonably extrapolate (such as the space just beyond a door). A single meenlock cannot use this power to carry another creature, but three working together can. The meenlock’s two most horrible powers are reserved for those who breech their lairs.

A meenlock lair usually consists of 1d3+2 individuals inhabiting a chamber which can only be reached via a sealed vertical shaft, either far underground or deep in an ancient and gloomy forested region where humans seldom venture. If the seal is removed, the shaft is dark, and lined with thick moss. The bottom cannot be seen, but a palpable sense of evil emanates upward, clearly discernable to all (even without magic), along with the stink of rotting corpses. The shaft twists and turns after around 20’ so that light cannot penetrate to the bottom, which is thickly carpeted in moss so that anything dropped in lands noiselessly. Climbing down these shafts without a rope requires a DC 10 Strength or Climb sheer surfaces check per 20’ section. The shaft itself is 1d6+2 x 10’ deep, leading to a large space like a small cave at the end.

Those foolish enough to unseal a meenlock shaft become the creatures’ lawful prey. Those who descend the shaft will be attacked with an intent to kill. Those who unseal the shaft, but who do not deal with the meenlocks below – either because they didn’t descend, or because they fled back up the shaft – are silently followed by the meenlocks at a discrete distance. One of the group is “marked” – preferably the one who unsealed the lair, but otherwise one chosen by random – and the meenlocks concentrate their subsequent activities on this individual.

Meenlocks are telepathic, but can only use this power meaningfully from a distance of 300’ or more. The meenlocks send their chosen victim disturbing telepathic messages; these vary in specific content but the threat is always the same – that the meenlocks are pursuing the victim relentlessly and intend to make them a meenlock as well. The chosen victim glimpses stealthy movement in the shadows, and hears rustling, scratching noises (induced telepathically) which no one else can hear. Every hour of this mental torture forces the victim to make a DC 10 Will save or be at -1d on the dice chain to all rolls. This penalty affects future saves, and repeated failures stack. These penalties remain in place until the meenlocks are destroyed or otherwise averted, for the nasty little creatures are relentless.

The meenlocks only attack when the party beds down to rest.  They attempt to silence any guards and drag their living victim away, showing no similar mercy to others, but not attacking them unnecessarily either. If they succeed dragging their victim to their shaft, they seal it after entry. If the victim is not rescued in 1d3 hours, after a short but gruesome treatment, the victim is transformed into a meenlock.

Meenlocks dislike bright light, and use considerable ingenuity to extinguish torches, lanterns, and the like. They will not willingly enter an area of bright daylight, where their abilities to create fear, paralyze opponents, teleport, and communicate telepathically cannot function. Meenlocks also take a -2d penalty on the dice chain to all rolls under these circumstances. Consequently, a chosen victim who can escape into a region of bright sunlight severs their connection with the meenlocks, who must return, disappointed, to their lair.

 

Friday, 23 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Magnesium Spirit and Mantari

Starting with “M”, the Fiend Folio gives us two relatively unused creatures, at least as far as official adventures are concerned. In my conversions, I have made the Mantari decidedly less dangerous, but also easier to run, as damage for the original creature was equal to 20 minus Constitution (Stamina), and subsequent hits caused four times this damage. If you had an average (10) score, that would mean 10 points of damage if you were hit in round 1, and 40 more points of damage if you were hit again in round 2. I toned this down considerably.

The Magnesium Spirit is one of those monsters which doesn’t have a illustration, and is complex enough to require both reworking the material to fit the DCC rules and reordering the material to make it easier for the judge. The original Magnesium Spirit only attacked characters of 5th level or higher, but that is fairly high level in DCC, and no one wants to encounter a monster which systematically reduces your 5th level PCs to 1st level. My version is a bit kinder in this regard. In fact, it’s a bit kinder in every regard, while still being utterly terrifying to characters of any level.

The Magnesium Spirit is similar in many ways to the Astral Searcher, at least superficially. I could easily see how a judge might want to use one, or the other, but not both. The flavor of the creatures, though. is very, very different – far moreso than that between goblins and orcs. When I was running AD&D back in the day, these are both monsters which were frequently in my “cool enough to want to use” list, but also in my “too cruel to want to use” list.

I really tried to keep the cool factor in these conversions, and enough of the cruel factor to make them fun without going overboard.

 

Magnesium Spirit

Magnesium Spirit: Init +20; Atk Touch +3 melee (1d5 plus XP and Strength drain); AC 20; HD 6d6; MV 90’; Act 1d20; SP Sense humans 200’, flare (Reflex DC 10 or blinded 2d6 turns), XP and Strength drain, merge, only hit by silver or magic weapons, 50% magic resistance, holy water vulnerability; SV Fort +0, Ref +20, Will +10; AL L.

A magnesium spirit appears as a cylinder of white flame, about five feet tall and three feet in diameter, with a wispy tail 1d5 feet long. Despite their appearance, they give of no discernable heat. They are able to sense humans from 200’ away, and move at extraordinary speed towards any humans they sense. Non-human creatures (including elves, dwarves, and halflings) are ignored completely.

Sages aware of these creatures believe that few remain in the Lands We Know, the last remnants of those conjured by an unwise magician in ancient times, who died with the strain of their summoning. It is possible that a misfire when casting consult spirit or similar spells might bring further magnesium spirits into the world, at the judge’s discretion. Whatever the case may be, the spirits are trapped in our plane unless they can inhabit a sufficiently robust human body to perform the complex spell-casting ritual which will return them to their (unknown to us) place of origin, and only human bodies are capable of providing the necessary psychic frame of reference.

When within 10’ of its selected target, a magnesium spirit flares up in a split-second blinding flash of white light. All sighted creatures within 20’ and who are observing the spirit must succeed in a Reflex save (DC 10) or be blinded for 2d6 turns (up to 2 hours).

If a magnesium spirit successfully touches a human target, it automatically drains 1d5 XP and 1d3 temporary points of Strength from the target. The lost Strength is regained at a rate of 1 point per hour if the target survives, but the lost XP are not restored. If lost XP put a character below the threshold of their current level, they must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or they immediately lose a level. In any event, lost XP must be re-earned to gain additional levels.

Once it has touched a victim, it merges gradually into the victim’s body, with all the effects of a successful touch attack occurring each round. After the second round of merging, the magnesium spirit is so integrated into the host body that only holy water, a clerics Turn the Unholy, or spells such as banish can affect it without also harming its victim…and the magnesium spirit’s defenses (see below) may mean that only the victim is harmed!

After the third round of successfully merging with its victim, the victim’s human persona is negated in favor of the magnesium spirit’s alien mind. The spirit uses the body to shriek out a spell which will return it to its native plane. If the victim is still strong enough to sustain the magic (a minimum of 110 XP and 5 Strength) the body and spirit vanish in a flash of light, never to return. Otherwise, the spirit abandons the body and seeks another, turning to the nearest human if there is one it can sense. An abandoned body collapses, but might recover in 1d3 turns if a Luck check is successful; otherwise it is a mindless husk, which dies after 1d5 hours without powerful aid, such as the intervention of a deity.

Because they are not fully corporeal in the Lands We Know, magnesium spirits can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons, and they have a 50% chance of being able to ignore any spell or other magic used against them. Magnesium spirits are vulnerable to holy water, taking 1d14 damage per vial, and if successfully hit with holy water, any merger in progress is sundered. The spirit will, of course, attempt to restart the merger again on its next action. Should banish be used against a magnesium spirit, the 50% magic resistance must still be rolled, but the spirit willingly fails any save if doing so would return it to its home plane.

 

Mantari

Mantari: Init +1; Atk Tail sting +0 melee (1d6+3); AC 11; HD 1d8+1; MV fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Sting; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

These flying creatures bear a close resemblance to marine rays, with a flat body about 3 feet long (and nearly as wide) and a 4 foot long thin, whiplike tail. They usually prey on giant rats and similar vermin for food, and are often found in the dingy ruins and dungeon passages where such meals can be found. Nonetheless, they are also territorially aggressive when encountering other creatures - including humans.

A mantari’s sting is not poisonous, but acts on the victim’s nervous system, so that if the same target is hit in two consecutive melee rounds, it inflicts double damage. Damage does not increase on the third or subsequent rounds, instead maxing out at double damage.

Monday, 19 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Lamia, Lamia Noble, Lava Children, and Lizard King

Wait? What’s that? A picture of the Monster Manual?

It’s true. In order to do a good conversion of the Lamia Noble, it is necessary to lay the groundwork with the Lamia, and that isn’t included in the Fiend Folio. I have already posted a more mythic Lamia, and it seems to me that the Lamia Noble was an attempt to include some of these traits. Eventually, I will have to create a version of the Lamia that is more in keeping with Clark Ashton Smith’s vision – an un-dead demonic seductress which gives her victims unendurable pleasure while consuming their flesh.

There are only three monsters starting with “L” in the Fiend Folio. I had originally planned to do all three as a single post. With some consideration, I decided to stick to that plan even after adding the original Lamia.

Lava Children are unusual in that their entry is written in the plural, rather than the singular. I have kept that usage here, except for when writing the statblock. It is easy to dismiss the Lava Children, with their Alfred E. Neuman-like visages. In fact, to this day I have never used them. Hopefully, the act of statting them out will give me reason to do so.

Finally, the Lizard King is yet another variety of lizard man from the Fiend Folio. Personally, I think that this was a sort-of tribute to Jim Morrison, but I could easily be wrong. I also tend to think that the trident came from a Jeff Dee illustration in the original Rogues Gallery (1980), but, again, I could be wrong.

As with the previous post, if you are enjoying these conversions, and feel like tipping, please consider supporting my Patreon, and if you use any of these creatures, I would love to hear about it.

 


 

Lamia

Lamia: Init +5; Atk Dagger +4 melee (1d4+2) or touch +2 melee (1d3 Personality drain); AC 17; HD 7d8; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP Spellcasting (+7 spell check: charm person, ESP, and forget), Personality drain; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +6; AL C.


Lamias prefer to dwell in deserts — in ruined cities, caves, or the like. Their upper torso, arms, and head resemble a human female, while their lower body is that of a beast. They are able to cast spells like a wizard, and typically use these to lure victims to them. The lamia’s touch (in combat or otherwise) drains 1d3 Personality (Will DC 15 to negate; 1 point is permanent on a natural 1). If a victim’s Personality falls to 3 or lower, they willingly do whatever the lamia tells them to do.

Lamias first drain their prey of blood and then feast upon their flesh.

 





Lamia Noble

Lamia Noble: Init +5; Atk Short sword +5 melee (1d6+3) or touch +2 melee (1d3 Personality drain); AC 14; HD 9d8+9; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Spellcasting (+8 spell check: charm person, ESP, forget and 1d4+1 random 1st level wizard spells), Personality drain, assume human form; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +7; AL C.


These beings rule over other lamias and the wild, lonely areas they inhabit. The lower body of a lamia noble is that of a giant serpent and the upper body can be either male or female. However, they can take human form at will, a disguise that can only be penetrated by an intentional DC 15 Intelligence check. In this guise, they attempt to penetrate human society to wreak acts of evil.

When in its true form, the lamia noble's touch permanently drains 1d3 points of Personality (Will DC 10 or this is permanent). When a victim’s Personality drops to 3 or lower, they willingly do whatever the lamia noble tells them to do.

In addition to the spellcasting abilities of lesser lamias, lamia nobles gain 1d4+1 random 1st level wizard spells.

Lamia nobles are given to outbursts of senseless violence, regardless of the form they take.

 



Lava Children

Lava Child: Init +2; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d6) or bite +0 melee (1d8); AC 16; HD 4d6; MV 20’ or swim 40’; Act 2d20; SP Ignore metal, immune to fire- and earth-based spells, vulnerability to air- and water-based spells (including ice, x2 damage); SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.


These creatures are the unnatural offspring of spirits of earth and fire. They appear as broadly-built humanoids with a curious child-like appearance, pinkish-white skin, and permanent smiles on their faces. They fight with their clawed hands and a surprisingly powerful bite.

They are peculiarly “immune” to metal. Metal simply does not exist for lava children. Any metal object can pass through them without harming them and they can move through metal without hindrance, exactly as if it were not there. Likewise, the AC value of any metal worn by their targets is ignored when they attack. Of course, this also means that a metal bridge will not support them – in all cases, it is as though the metal objects do not exist.

Lava children live underground or in volcanic regions. It is said that they are ruled by more powerful examples of their kind – some perhaps even with earth- and fire-based spells – but the truth of these rumors is left to the judge to determine.

 



Lizard King

Lizard King: Init -2; Atk Trident +5 melee (1d8) or bite +3 melee (1d5); AC 17; HD 5d8; MV 40’ or swim 50’; Act 1d20; SP Crit 18-20 with trident; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +3; AL N.


These relatives of lizardmen (see page 420 of the core rulebook) are taller, more intelligent, and more human-like. They dwell in similar damp areas, although they prefer subterranean areas near an underground river or lake. They are particularly attuned to tridents as weapons, and have an enhanced critical range when using them (Table III/1d10).

A lizard king typically has 10d10 lizardmen acting as its followers and guards. The lizard king demands 1d3 human sacrifices each week, and substitutes two of its followers for each failed sacrifice if these demands are not met. Of course, the lizardmen make every effort to meet the demands of their master! However, this makes the lizardmen more dangerous to travelers are nearby settlements than they were before the advent of the lizard king.

Sages have pondered whether lizard kings are occasionally born as a mutation of the more common lizardman, or whether they are a completely separate species that parasitizes lizardman communities. In either event, getting rid of the lizard king returns the lizardmen which served it back to their normal (still dangerous, but not as aggressively so) behavior.