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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ravid


The Ravid is one of those jolly extradimensional creatures that are fairly harmless on their own plane but a good deal more chaotic when they cross over into ours. This particular creature comes from the Positive Energy plane, which you think would be good seeing as how positive energy is the kind of healing, undead-slaying magic you generally want on your side. Well too much positive energy is a negative thing it seems. Think of positive energy as air in a balloon; enough of it and you eventually go pop.

But that's not the best weapon in the Ravid's arsenal. The best weapon would be that it can animate objects around it once every few seconds through the sheer force of the positive energy it exudes. The object chosen is completely at random, but it will still mess with your day. The fork is animated. Your sword is animated. Your clothes. The carpet, the table, the house you're in is animated. And all those objects are on the Ravid's side.

This creature was a tricky one to redesign. The whole pale glowing serpent thing was easy to do, but for some goofy reason it's described of having a claw that comes out from near its head. LOOK AT HOW GOOFY IT LOOKS. But while I guess giving it a long flowing tendril hair doodad with a hand-looking thing at the end looks less goofy, in a way it isn't as immediately memorable at the original Ravid's grumpy face and dorky little arm.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tomb Mote


Necromancers would do well to switch graveyards on a fairly regular basis after their rituals, lest they end up with a minor infestation of Tomb Motes. Necromantic magic generally animates bodies or large body parts, but in the decomposition process a lot of dead matter falls to the side, magically imbued but in too diluted a form to actually do anything. But when enough hair, skin flakes, bone fragments, rot ooze and grave dirt are gathered up together, the combined dark magic is enough for the different parts to fuse into a single vaguely humanoid creature. Essentially, a Tomb Mote is a sentient dust bunny of graveyard detritus.

The Tomb Mote is small --about the size of a cat-- and weak. But they still possess enough intelligence to know swarming tactics, and are quick enough to strike many times in a short period (gaming translation: they get an extra standard action). Wash any wounds received from this creature immediately or risk sepsis. Soap is a handy adventuring tool.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Werecrocodile

I know when I first saw the Werecrocodile in all its goofy glory in the pages of Sandstorm I was all pshaw running out of ideas are we Wizards and here I was thinking Weretigers were dumb. But after some research it came to my knowledge that Werecrocodiles are a legit thing (along with Weretigers and other Were-big cats), though not in the sense that were used to here in the modern West.

We've done the Werewolf before, arguably the poster boy for all werebeasts. It's a man who under the light of the full moon becomes a wolf hybrid type thing. The moon rule is followed with all the lycanthropes (an erroneous term, since the term lycanthope can only be linguistically tied to the werewolf), regardless of whatever creature you turn into. But the moon thing is a relatively new invention. Though some werewolf legends talk about transformations under certain stages of the moon, werewolves were more often described as willingly transforming through magic, usually by wearing a pelt, part of a pelt, reciting a spell or applying a potion.

So it is with Werecrocodiles. The folkloric key to becoming a werecrocodile is usually either an incantation or the wearing of a fetish.  Finding specific stories and legends is a bit tricky. I've found a lot of sites claiming that they appear in legends of Indonesia, Thailand, Zambia, Egypt and the Bakongo people. Basically anywhere where the crocodile is an apex predator. The person would transform into a crocodile and then lurk in rivers to eat people who wronged them / sexy bathers. Cannibalism is a recurring theme across the world when it comes to werebeasts.

 There's the Thai legend of Krai Thong and Chalawan (which is also a Thai film), but I'm unclean whether Chalawan is a giant/demon who can turn into a crocodile or a demon crocodile that can take on humanoid form. In Indonesia, the magical incantation/formula to take on human form is said to be tiang maleh rupa, and those who use the spell are known by the same name. In the 88th chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, there's a spell invoking Osiris to give you the form of a crocodile, though the spells of the Book of the Dead are meant to aid the dead in the trials they face in the afterlife rather than affect still corporeal mortals.

Speaking of Egyptian mythology and Osiris and turning into crocodiles, you should totally buy Pantheon by Hamish Steele. It's a comic telling the creation myth according to the Ancient Egyptians. And boy I tell you I learned something from the book. Mostly that the Greek gods aren't the only ones with weird drama.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Nightmare


The Nightmare is literally a horse from hell. But if you want to be more specific, it comes from the Gray Wastes of Hades, the battleground dimension between Hell and the Abyss. These solitary smokey horses hide among the stunted black trees, waiting put to work (willingly or unwillingly) into the evil armies. But they are still difficult to catch. Nightmares breathe blinding smoke and are able to transform their bodies into ethereal substance that travels between dimensions. Their flinty hooves give out sparks when they strike the ground, setting anything flammable alight. Most coveted are the Cauchemars, massive Nightmares fit for giants to ride upon.

Went for a more smoke-based nightmare rather than the traditional flaming mane one. Found when reading the description that there were no allusions to flame except for some around the hooves, eyes and nostrils. And they don't deal fire damage, though yes their hooves can set things on fire. Don't ride a Nightmare on wooden floors, kids.

Some interesting history behind the concept of the Nightmare. The original Nightmare (the mare of German folklore) was a goblin that sat on the chests of sleepers, paralyzing them and causing bad dreams. The modern scientific explanation for things along these lines are sleep paralysis. Your body becomes paralyzed during sleep, to prevent you from moving around to much as you dream. But sometimes you wake up in a half-asleep state and can't move. And in this half-asleep state you might still be dreaming, and imagine something sitting on your chest. Lots of countries have their own versions of monsters that cause sleep paralysis. I had a similar experience, only in this case my monster was a walrus holding a small shelf asking me to give back the books I borrowed. Dreams, man.

The whole horse thing came about as a pun. You know, mare = female horse, nightmares = bad dream, Nightmare = evil horse. Though the first time you can see this pun is in Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare. But similar horses again appear in mythology and folklore. The ones most similar to the D&D Nightmare are prominent in Russian folklore (and probably surrounding countries), where a character (good or evil) rides on a giant ferocious steed with sparking hooves and smoke-filled breath.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Tsochar

The Tsochar is a colonial organism. The tangled-looking body is actually formed of several "strands", each possessing its own functional respitatory, digestive and nervous system. When fused, the creature behaves as a single individual, but strands can be surgically and continue living without the rest, albeit in a weak, animalistic state. An ordinary Tsochar will contain about a dozen strands, while elders are made up of hundreds.

Tsochar are also parasitic organisms, preferring to prey on intelligent beings. The Tsochar works it way inside the body of its host (preferably through a wound) and wedges itself in the spaces between the internal organs. The Tsochar can choose to simply inhabit the body --telepathically coercing the host with threats of pain if necessary-- or completely take over the host's nervous system, killing the mind while keeping the body alive. Obviously, the second option is used most, as few are willing to host a creature that (regardless of alligiance) will eat them from the inside out.

The Tsochar is similar to the Morgh, another wormy creature that is able to puppet bodies. However the Morgh is an undead creature controlling its own withered corpse, while the Tsochar is completely a parasite, highly intelligent, and relies on its host to be living.

I really like parasite monsters, regardless of game or media. Not sure how to explain that particular fancy, but it's always something I've found interesting. There's just something kinda cool / horrifying about another organism invading your body for its own survival.

Next time lets try an image that doesn't have blue and pink in it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Nereid


Nereids are sea nymphs, the ocean being their usual habitat when they're not in the Elemental Plane of Water, their true home. Much like Dryads, the tree nymphs, are bound to their tree to survive, the Nereid's life is bound to their shawl, a floating material made of surf. Being separated from their shawls for too long results in the death of the Nereid, so stealing one is a certain (if cruel) way to temporarily gain their allegiance.

But the Nereid is a shy creature with a host of defensive abilities. As water faeries from an Elemental Plane, their bodies seem to be made out of shimmering water, making them incredibly difficult to see when submerged. They can also control the water surrounding them, alter currents and summon Water Elementals to protect them. Her final defense is an especially nasty and last resort one. The Nereid can kill with a kiss, filling the lungs of the victim with water so that they drown. You shouldn't have tried to take her shawl.

Actually a creature from Greek myth, as many nymphy creatures tend to be. While the word dryad refers to how they are bound to oak trees (drys), their name actually means that they are daughters of Nereus (50 in total, plus the son Nerites), an ancient sea god. There's some confusion between them and the Oceanids, daughters of Oceanus who are also sea nymphs (3000 in total, along with 3000 brothers --Potamoi-- river spirits). Calypso, of The Odyssey fame, is a Nereid or an Oceanid  depending on the source. Regardless of parentage, sea nymphs tended to be minor protective spirits to fishermen, sailors and the like.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

EPIC MONTH: Shen Lung



The Shen Lung is one of many different dragons of the Lung type. Ordinary dragons are highly magical creatures, but in the end they are merely intelligent, large and potent beasts. The Lungs are inherently mystical beings allied to the elements who cross the boundary between the Spirit World and the Material Plane at will. Their powers come from a mystic pearl embedded in their heads (or brains), which allow them to fly without wings, riding the currents of air.

The Shen Lung (the Spirit Dragon) is among the lungs that mortals are most likely to meet, where all others prefer to remain hidden away in their celestial palaces or in the Spirit World. An aura of divine purity exudes from this dragon, repelling all verminous beasts that would dare approach it. It has special power over water and is often found near rivers inhabited by Chiang Lungs, whom they are bodyguards to. Pleasing a Shen Lung results in good harvests, while insulting one can lead to floods and blights, as it has control over the weather.

I like the traditional D&D dragons (blue and black are my favourites), but I have a soft spot in my heart for the lung type dragons. I think it's mostly the way they don't have wings but can still fly. There's just something quite cool about that. And the whole mystic pearl thing. Some Chinese (and I'm assuming other Oriental tales) feature the dragon's pearl being found by a human and then it bringing them good luck.

Some of you may recognize the name Shen Lung from the Dragon Ball series, where the 7 dragon balls (mystic pearls?) were gathered together to summon Shenron (or Eternal Dragon, or Shenlong) to grant the gatherer a wish.

The final image of Epic Month, which also consisted of the Phoenix, Phane and White Slaad. Using a dragon feels a bit like cheating, since dragons have more than one challenge rating depending on their age. But from 800 years onwards a Shen Lung is over CR 20 so that means it becomes an epic level creature so yeah.

Friday, 5 September 2014

EPIC MONTH: White Slaad


The Death Slaad isn't the final evolution of the slaad species. Neither is the White Slaad; it's merely the next step.

But first lets go over the many many steps needed to get to a white slaad. First a Blue or Red slaad needs to infect a spellcaster in order to create a Green Slaad. After a century, it becomes a Grey Slaad, and it can use a Ritual to become a Death Slaad. Then after yet another century, a Death Slaad becomes a White Slaad. And like I said, this isn't even it's final form.

But for now, the Slaad comes closer to the primordial chaos that originally birthed them as creatures. As well as having destructive chaos-themed magical abilities, the White Slaad is able to belch up chaotic goo which corrodes away the laws that hold matter together like acid. Even those who would normally have protection from chaos aren't a match for it, as it burns through the shielding magic.

I've kept going with the whole fungal thing that Joe did with his Death Slaad, since I was pretty disappointed with my original Green Slaad. The fungus thing adds a little something visually weird to what are otherwise yet another lizard/frog creature. The 3.0 edition of the Monster Manual actually had a nice table to slightly randomize the appearance and abilities of the Slaad. They still kept the basic giant toad-man thing, but you could sometimes get ones with snake hair, wings, petrification gaze, breath weapons or exploding poisonous boils.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

EPIC MONTH: Abomination, Phane


Abominations have been covered before here. They're unholy unions between deities and something else, whatever that may be, and however it may be done. The higher divine creatures, being in that strange state of physical being, it may not be a birth or hatching as feeble mortals understand it. Regardless, this merging of god-stuff happens, and Abominations are formed, being which should not be, are aware of this, and destroy everything around them through their mere presence. Even stillbirths can regain horrible unlife. When divinities become aware of an Abomination, they attempt to destroy it or seal it away. It doesn't always work.

Most Abomination's destruction is limited to the present time. Not so much with the Phane, the union between the other thing and a god of time and fate. As such, their destruction can potentially extend through time (only backwards, though), requiring the use of Quaruts to take them down. The Phane is an incorporeal creature of dusty shadow with glowing green eyes. The air around it seems unnaturally still, and that's because it is; the Phane emits an aura of temporal stasis around them. The good news: you do not naturally age or suffer damage while in this stasis. The bad news: this doesn't apply to the Phane's abilities. Being in control of the stasis field, the Phane can choose to accelerator it for you, and feeds as you age.

Among it's temporal abilities include the manipulation its opponent's temporal presence. It can reach to some alternate time stream, and retrieve a past version of the person it's looking for. You will fight yourself, only a yourself that's completely under the dominion of the Phane.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

EPIC MONTH: Phoenix


The Phoenix is a unique creature. In fact, it may be the only one of its kind.

Its plumage is the colours of fire and burn with the same intensity. Even when a feather is shed, assuming it doesn't simply burn away, it retains heat and golden light indefinitely. It can start fires with a touch and its blood burns like lava. The Phoenix's fire is more than just mundane flame, as creatures normally immune to it find themselves burned by divinity.

The most striking ability of the Phoenix is its self-immolation. Every few centuries, the Phoenix spontaneously bursts into flames and a younger version rises from the glowing ashes. This same ability is also used as a defense mechanism, making it able to burn away all damage in a matter of seconds. To see the Phoenix self-immolate can be considered a good or bad omen, depending on your interpretation. However, it is certainly a bad omen if you're within the burn range.


Welcome to Epic Month. As a celebration of Dungeons & Drawings four-year anniversary, we're going to be posting epic-level creatures, i.e. creatures which should only be fought by adventurers of 20th level or higher. At this challenge rating, creatures encountered are more divine forces than ordinary forces, capable of levelling landscapes, destroying souls and bending time and space.

Honestly, the Phoenix's immolation supernatural ability seems a bit OP to me. Basically, as a full round action it can kill itself, dealing massive damage within a certain area, reapparing at the end of the round with full hit points. You can probably count its spell-like abilities as refreshed too, since this phoenix technically counts as a "new" bird. I suppose its AC is on the low side compared to other epic-level creatures, so it won't be to hard to whittle it back down again. Just enjoy taking 40d6 fire damage every few rounds as it regenerates itself.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Ice Weird


The Ice Weird is the more solid version of the Snow Weird, water-influencing rather than air-influencing. Like other Weirds, she's an especially powerful elemental tied to the mortal world by an elemental pool, a roiling mass of ice, which she cannot leave except to return to the Elemental Plane of Water, closing the pool behind her. Unlike the Snow Weird, she is unable to control the weather, her powers being more directed towards physical and mental handicapping.

Trying to make the Ice Weird sufficiently similar from the Snow Weird was a pretty tricky challenge, especially since there were aspects with the first drawing that I was happy with, but didn't want to repeat too much in the second one. Also there were a couple of visual tropes related to snow women that I wanted to avoid, namely the icicle / snowflake crown and white hair. Also, despite the fact that she and all weirds are supposed to resemble human women, I wanted there to be something somewhat inhuman about her. Whether I was successful or not is up to the viewer, but I'm fairly pleased with the results.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Skiurid


Yes, D&D has an evil squirrel.

Part of the wildlife of the Shadow Plane, Skiurids usually live in colonies of up to two dozen individuals, along with their pups. Like other natives of their plane, Skiurids are capable of summoning magical darkness. The squirrels create cold areas of darkness, which drain the energy from anybody who happens to wander into them. That drained energy solidifies into a black nut, which the squirrels collect when the coast is clear. Their dens usually contain a small stockpile of nuts for pups and for rainy days. Skiurid energy nuts are coveted by necromancers, who use them to empower their spells.  (In text rules, 50% chance of raising the caster level of a necromancy spell by 2).

The thought of evil squirrels is pretty ridiculous, so much so that Skiurids are better suited for a comedy game. I can imagine evil squirrels in Adventure Time. Or if you just want to mess with your players.

I think it works a bit better if you think of it a bit like the Elysian Thrush. Both are very low CR creatures that would probably only attack someone if directly threatened, but are capable of some fairly impressive environmental effects. For all your PC knows, they've just walked into a patch of darkness caused by some more threatening foe. And only if they make a fairly high perception check will they notice a little black squirrel picking something off the ground.