Saturday, 10 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Kenku, Khargra, and Killmoulis

And here I paused and drew a deep breath, because the Kenku at least is a beloved creature that I simply did not want to get wrong. In the end, I just stayed as close to the original as possible. You can find a Kenku class here, and the closely related Tengu can be found here.

None of these creatures this time is evil, and the Killmoulis (which I love) are more flavor than anything else – unless the PCs keep a dog or cat in a mill, it is hard to see where a conflict would arise. On the other hand, Kenku have good-natured conflict built into them. When I was running AD&D, the fact that you could resolve a conflict with Kenku without weapons allowed me to write a sole 1st level adventure using these creatures. The goal: deliver a kidnapped child. You could completely fail (did not get child, lost ransom) or magnificently succeed (return with both child and ransom), but such an adventure allowed the player to shine, even if their character was extremely squishy.

The Khargra isn’t evil either, but the creator (Lawrence Schick) certainly created a wicked challenge!   Now it is a challenge that your Dungeon Crawl Classics characters may face. Because their goal isn’t your flesh and blood, but perhaps that pound of mithral you’re carrying, as tough as they are, the Khargra could even find their place within a funnel adventure! The Erol Otus illustration is also a treat!




Kenku: Init +3; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3) or beak +1 melee (1d5) or by weapon +3 melee or ranged (by weapon) or spell; AC 15; HD 2d6 or more; MV 20’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Thief skills, telepathy, spells and magical powers by Hit Dice; SV Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.
            Thief skills: Backstab +5, Sneak Silently +6, Hide In Shadows +4, Pick Pocket +2, Climb Sheer Surfaces +4, Pick Lock +4, Find Trap +4, Disable Trap +2, Forge Document +1, Disguise Self +8, Read Languages +1, Handle Poison +5, Cast Spell From Scroll (d10+1).

Kenku are a magical race of humanoid birds. They are mischievous, and enjoy playing tricks on humans, but do not usually intend to kill their victims. The average kenku has 2 Hit Dice, but if there are more than two encountered, half of their number (rounding down) have an additional Hit Die. In groups of six or more, one usually has 4 Hit Dice, and groups of 8 or more usually have a supreme leader with 5 Hit Dice. They communicate with each other telepathically, and usually avoid communicating with others except nonverbally.

All kenku have thief abilities, but older kenku also have magical powers, starting at 3 Hit Dice. A 3 Hit Die kenku has a single wizard spell (50% magic missile; otherwise determine randomly). They have the innate ability to change their shape into another humanoid form, once every 30 days for up to 7 days. Particularly adventurous kenku have even been known to use this power to assume the likeness of a god and accept offerings from credulous worshippers!

At 4 Hit Dice, kenku gain an additional, random 1st level wizard spell. They can also turn invisible at will using an Action Die, although this ability ends as soon as they use an Action Die for any other purpose. They also have the powers of 3 Hit Die kenku.

Elder kenku who reach 5 Hit Dice have all the powers of younger kenku plus a random 2nd level wizard spell. They gain an additional +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage, a +2 to all saves, and gain an extra 1d20 Action Die. Finally, elder kenku may call a lightning strike once per day when outdoors, doing 3d8 damage (Reflex DC 15 for half; metal armor causes a -1d penalty on the dice chain to this save).

Even older kenku, with more Hit Dice and greater magical prowess, may exist if the judge so desires.

As kenku get older, their actions become less reckless, and their trickery better thought-out. They often disguise themselves as human (nose length usually gives away the deception when this fails), and favor earning ransoms from kidnapping as a source of funds.

Kenku have been known to freely give treasure but this is rarely genuine and will crumble to a valueless dust within a day. They sometimes appear helpful to humans, offering nonverbal advice, though this is usually carefully designed to mislead or tempt their victims into danger or amusing (for the kenku) difficulties. There is, however, a very small chance (5%) that the kinky are actually being helpful, so simply ignoring them is not always the right choice.




Khargra: Init +0; Atk Claws +3 melee (fasten) or bite +3 melee (3d6); AC 23; HD 6d8; MV 5’ or swim through stone 30’; Act 1d20; SP Swim through stone, attack by surprise, fasten, devour metal, destroy weapons, immune to cold and fire, double damage from electricity; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

Khargra are creatures from the Elemental Plane of Earth, which occasionally pass through elemental nodes to the Lands We Know, searching for the refined metals and high-grade ores upon which they feed. They can “swim” through stone, moving along the layers of rock in small schools, riding on earth movements and the shifting of geological strata as if surfing along ocean waves. When they find a suitable vein of ore, they settle down to feed upon the material, grinding it up and, through their curious metabolic and digestive processes, actually separating out and refining the metal. The slaggy waste material is excreted and the metal is deposited in the khargra's internal reservoirs, there to be assimilated slowly into the creature’s body. Khargra naturally prefer refined metal to unrefined ore, and are attracted to metal armor, weapons, and treasure.

A khargra’s initial attack automatically achieves surprise, unless some unusual circumstance permits their targets to detect them. When attracted by a quantity of refined metal (such as when an armed and armored party come near), the creatures leap from the wall or floor of a cavern or passage like fish leaping from water, reaching target as far as 10’ away. A successful strike fastens the khargra only a large metallic objects, using strong claws (opposed Strength vs. +6 to dislodge), which they begin to devour. If the initial attack misses, the creature can use its arms to pull itself along, but must spend a round to merge again with stone.

Once it is attached, a khargra can swallow 5 pounds of metal each melee round, and need not make another attack to do so. Khargra can easily consume 100 pounds of metal, and they are sometimes (5%) able to consume 1d50 pounds more.

Khargra normally only damage fleshy creatures if they fight back, although they have been known to bite right through large creatures in order to reach a concentration of metal beyond. An opponent using a metal weapon against a non-attached khargra has the end bitten off and swallowed if they miss by 10 or more. Otherwise, they must succeed in a fasten attack before they can bite.

A dead khargra can be cut open with a sharp blade and a series of three DC 15 Strength check. Within its unique digestive system, 2d50 pounds of metal pebbles can be found, reflecting the creature's most recent diet. If the judge is uncertain what that diet was, they may roll 1d30 and consult the folllowing: (1) adamantium, (2-3) aluminum, (4-5) cobalt, (6-8) copper, (9-10) gold, (11-15) iron, (16-18) lead, (19) mithral, (20) molybdenum, (21-22) nickel, (23) platinum, (25-25) silver, (26-27) tin, (28) uranium, or (29-30) zinc. Other types of metal are, of course, possible, and the judge may mix metal types if, for example, a khargra has eaten part of a sword while in a silver mine. The risks and value of each is left the judge to determine.



Killmoulis: Init +4; Atk None; AC 14; HD 1 hp; MV 40’; Act 1d16; SP Stealth +10, poison use, Luck bringer, 20% magic resistance; SV Fort -8, Ref +8, Will +2; AL N.

These diminutive fey are found where mortal industry is in progress, preferably one involving grain or other foodstuffs. They inhabit the areas under floors, in cracks in walls or amidst the dark rafters, and only come out when the human workers leave. Brownie-like, the killmoulis then work and otherwise make themselves useful, at the same time devouring prodigious amounts of meal, flour, grain or whatever other foodstuffs are available.

It is also an integral part of their nature to play tricks and practical jokes – certain to be destructive or harmful if the inhabitants of the place molest any of the killmoulis, but otherwise of merely irksome pranks. Killmoulis are very fast and are able to conceal themselves easily in shadowy places. They hate dogs and cats almost as much as they do rats, for these animals will attack killmoulis. The killmoulis can easily gain access to whatever poison is available nearby, but if they are unable to kill the cats, dogs, or rats threatening them, they move to another locale.

Despite the cost in food, it is considered lucky to have killmoulis in a mill, bakery, or other establishment. Each person working therein gains 1 point of Luck per killmoulis, which must be spent that day or is lost. There are usually no more than 1d6 such creatures present.

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