Sunday, January 19, 2014

Demon Project: Type I demons

Original post here.

And so, without further ado, the first phase of the Demon Crowdsource Project. As a reminder, here's how it works: I'll post the statistics for each type of demon in turn, then we'll generate 13 names and descriptions or variant demons that use the same stats-- One from the standard D&D presentation (the specific fluff descriptions I'm using are from AD&D 2e, but the stats are from Labyrinth Lord), six original ones from me, and six more original ones from you readers. Little adjustments, particularly in terms of its special abilities, are okay, but try to keep it compatible. If you can provide an image, so much the better, but just a name and description is all I ask.

Demon, Type I
No. Enc.: 1d3 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 120' (40')
Fly: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 5 (2 claws, 2 rear claws, beak)
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d8/1d8/1d6
Save: F8
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: XXI

XP: 2,060
These demons [...] are susceptible to damage from ordinary weapons. In combat they may attack with all five attacks if airborne, or 2 claws and a bite if on the ground. Type I Demons have the following spell-like abilities usable at will: darkness 10ft. radius, detect invisibility, and telekinesis (200lbs.). In addition, a Type I demon may gate (10% probability of success) a Type I demon.
(Statistics cribbed from Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion)

Some Type I demons have the ability to shed spores, or to join together and unleash a deadly wave of energy.

  1. Vrock: Vrocks look like a cross between a large human and a vulture, with strong, sinewy limbs covered with fine gray feathers; long necks and vulture heads; and wicked claws and beak.
  2. Baalzibi: Baalzibis are horrible fly-creatures, covered in sticky red skin. Their wings drone constantly even when they are on the ground. Their front four limbs end in scorpions' claws, and ovipositors along their back constantly birth foul maggots.
  3. Zhaddak: Zhaddaks are elongated, tusked humanoids whose arms bifurcate at the elbow: the upper forearms end in seven-fingered hands, while the lower ones are like bat wings. Their feet are hard, shiny hooves like those of a young deer, and sharp enough to render their kicks deadly.
  4. Ssan: Ssans are like fierce, stooped chimpanzees, with the heads and iron scales of gorgons on their chest and belly. They have twin elephant trunks, and the hair on their back constantly twitches and waves, catching the air and allowing it to fly
  5. Talsor: Talsori are radially symmetrical, like a starfish: each of its five limbs is a serpent with a wolf's head and an owl's wing. When it walks, it alternates which limb is the head, though it has two least favorites that are the feet 80% of the time. These two resent the other three heads.
  6. Guz: Guzim look like angelic men at first blush, but have teeth in place of fingernails and wasp's stingers in place of teeth. Their skin is a sickly greenish-pink, and they wear iron boots.
  7. Krorvarius: Krorvarii are like floating, tentacle-less octopi, but their heads are inflated with lightweight gases. Their sharp beaks contain four tongues of molten iron.
  8. Grue - Tall humanoid creatures with ochre-colored skin covered in rosy, undulating polyps. Their faces have no features except for two large, pink eyes without lids or pupils. Each eye is rimmed with a black crust. 
  9. A wide mouth filled with rows of razor-sharp teeth bisects their swollen bellies. 
  10. Their arms and legs are long tentacle-like protuberances tapering into pulpy cauliflower-like extremities. These are laced with a gelatinous slime that allows the Grue to climb walls and hang from ceilings.
  11. (credit to Ben Djarum)
  12. K'crov - these demons look, just like a vrock, like a gruesome mix of vulture and man, but reversed. They possess birdlike claws on their arms, clawed human feet and a human head filled with sharp teeth. Their wings look like membranes from human skins. Their bodies are featherless, and covered in coarse stubble like hair, but for the shoulders. (Reverse the damage of claws and hindclaws and diminish the damage of the mouth to 1d4) (credit to rorschachhamster)
  13. Montelupich: Montelupich are demons with ivory-white, feminine bodies that might be considered beautiful were it not for their grotesquely thin and elongated limbs. In place of arms, they have black wings like those of ravens, each feather a razor-sharp slice of obsidian. Their feet are the hands of night hags, crudely stitched on. They attack in crowds, lifting people far into the sky before dropping them to their death. (credit to my brother)
  14. The Claunge Herebanthu: Appear as enormous brazen locusts with the heads of gnashing lunatics, spluttering streams of delirious invective and dancing in furious pain.They desire to gnaw through the fabric of the multiverse to the abysms of original chaos where all may dance beyond time and space. They are winged and bladed and frantic. (credit to Tom Fitzgerald)
  15. Khal'aght: Appears as a distorted, headless woman with gray or black bird wings for arms, talons for feet, a singe large eye at the navel, and a black beak at the crotch. Tends to lure victims by mimicking the cries of distressed women and child (usually the cries of past victims). (credit to Malcadon at OD&D Discussion Boards)
  16. Vul'ku: Appears with a roughly humanoid torso, with a long-necked vulture heads, a scorpion tail with stinger, and long thin wing-like limbs ending in talons. The limbs bend backwards at the shoulders or hip, then bend forwards an the elbows or knees, and between the base of the limbs and the wrists or ankles are a set of fan-like patagium wings. It avoids frontal assaults, in favor or rear attacks form above. As it moves awkwardly on the ground, they always climb walls and ceilings, or fly around. (credit to Malcadon at OD&D Discussion Boards)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New look, and a BFRPG house rule document

Yeah, so I got a bunch of complaints about my old color scheme, and that was kind of upsetting me, so in a display of atypical levels of cowardice, I'm bowing to peer pressure and going monochrome.

Actually, I'm doing this because the complaints inspired me to at least give it a look and I found that I like it in monochromatic. I think it's gone from Victorian-antique pretty to gothic-lolita-outfit pretty. But either way, they can only have the pretty when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

Also, I made a house rule document for Basic Fantasy RPG, which for all my flirting with ACKS and FH&W recently, is still a damned solid game, and which I'm thinking I may use if I want to get a game moving in time for the 40th anniversary of D&D's publication (which, if Playing At The World is to be believed, is sometime in the last week of January!) Check it out here and criticize my pathetic leniency at your earliest convenience!

Friday, January 17, 2014

More Magic Item Origins

At the suggestion of someone on the forums, I went to check out the magic item section of the D&D Next playtest. I'll say this for WOTC, they get points for flavor-- so many of the items in it are shot through with interesting details and story hooks (and they even snuck in a little 4e/Points of Light setting reference in the Ioun stone entry!) One of my favorite parts was including a series of tables to help spruce up some of the less inherently flavorful magic items, like +1 swords. There were tables for special details of its history like being featured in a prophecy, minor special properties like glowing in the presence of a certain type of monster or functioning as a key to a door somewhere in the world, minor disadvantages like being painful to use or making you covetous of the item, and the subject of tonight's post: Who made the damn thing in the first place (and how it might look as a result.)

If there's one downside to those tables, it's in that last one: The damn thing doesn't even cover half the alphabet! It goes from Abyssal to Gnomes. But I aim to correct that egregious oversight. I'm not going to include the other table-- if you want it it's the work of five minutes to find the 5e playtest and put it to use. Magic items have a 50% chance of being rolled on that table or this one, or you could combine them and use 1d4 and 1d10.

Primitive Human

Goblin: This item was crafted by Goblins, Hobgoblins, or Bugbears for one of their many, many wars. At once it gives off the regular, precise feel of being mass-produced and the curious uniqueness of a one-of-a-kind item. It is wicked-looking, with carefully-placed hooks or barbs, and may be adorned with hide or teeth taken from wolves, worgs, or other beastly allies of the goblins.
Hag: This item was granted to a mortal by a hag, or perhaps a hag created it to accomplish some nefarious purpose herself. From some angles, especially in moonlight, it appears beautiful and well-crafted, but in others it is a horrible thing made of twisted hair, disembodied eyes, or the bones and teeth of children.
Halfling: This item was made by the halflings. While halflings make few magic items, like everything the halflings make, those they do are simple, sturdy, and functional, and tend to have some useful built-in feature for everyday life or travel. It feels comfortable to hold.
Illithid: This item was crafted deep underground, in the secret vaults of the Mind Flayers. It is supernaturally light (half the normal weight), as if held aloft by their dark wills. Leather or cloth components have a strange rubbery smoothness, or are made from the hides of their thralls, whereas metal components are made of clear crystal of surprising strength. Brainlike wrinkles, tentacles, or symbols of forgotten gods of madness adorn it.
Infernal: This item is almost mathematically perfect in its shape and balance. Any metal in it is iron black as night, and cloth or leather is wrought from the hide of devils. Close observation reveals impossibly tiny runes on every surface that spell out an exacting and detailed contract, one you hope that by taking up the item you have not inadvertently become party to.
Kobold: This item, made by the kobolds, is crafted in imitation of a draconic item. As such, the shed scales, fangs, feathers, and claws of kobolds are implemented into it. Hidden compartments for poison or other such dirty tricks are often built into the item itself.
Lizardfolk: During their long-ago heyday, the lizardfolk crafted items such as this one. Patterns of thick but intricate lines decorate it, as do scraps of hide. Obsidian or flint, bone, and wood replace worked metal, which the lizardfolk have always been trepidatious of, though inlays of gold and copper are not unlikely.
Orcish: This item of black iron looks somewhat crudely made and feels quite hefty and brutal. It is notched, and may be decorated with trophies taken from foes, whether monsters or men, that fell to its original owner.
Primal: This item was a gift from a spirit of the natural world. It appears unworked, as if it were not so much crafted as plucked whole from the environment in which the spirit lived, or perhaps even the body of the spirit itself. When you handle it, you get some inkling of what the spirit is feeling, if it still exists in the world.
Primitive Human: This item feels impossibly ancient, perhaps as though it was created by some of the first men in the earliest days of their civilization. Or perhaps it is not so old itself, but the work of cunning barbarian shamans using techniques passed down ever since those first days. Raw hides, wood, stone, bones and teeth, clay, horn, and feathers might be used in it, but never metal, and it is adorned with simple fetishes lashed to it with narrow strips of hide.
Sanctified: This item was bestowed on the world by a god. It is made of impossibly fine materials, and holy symbols of that god feature in its design in some way. It may even be a near-perfect imitation of an artifact closely associated with that god. Followers of the god who created this item feel the divine presence most keenly when they handle it.
Shadow: This item was created by those few creatures who live in the shadowy reflection of the material plane, along the roads to the next life. It seems unnaturally colorless and flat, except in areas of relative darkness, where its elaborate beauty comes into greater focus. You can just barely hear the whispers of those who have taken the longest journey when this item is near to you.
Technological: This is the artifact of a supremely-advanced civilization now forgotten, or perhaps visitors from a distant star, who have learned to harness the energies of magic to power their machines. It may look fiendishly complex, or deceptively simple, but after a moment's trial and error you figure out how to make it work. It is possible that it may not resemble a typical magic item, for instance a technological +1 sword may be a narrow tube about the length of your arm that produces a humming shaft of blue or green light when you press a button on it.
Undead: This item was suffused with necrotic energies from the moment it was crafted by the dead hand of its maker. It is cruel-looking enough even without the symbols of death and pestilence worked into it, and always feels cold and unwholesome to the senses of the living.
Yuan-Ti: The items the ancient serpent-folk created often bear serpentine motifs such as coiled spirals, fangs, or rattles, when they are not outright made in the (extremely realistic) likenesses of snakes. Their weapons almost always bear hidden compartments and channels for poison.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

In which a thought experiment about demons commences

If you look at the 1e monster manual, you may notice something interesting about the Type I-VI demons: the names applied to them (Vrock, Hezrou, Glabrezu, Nalfeshnee, Marilith, and Balor) were meant (explicitly in the type IV and above, and implicitly in the types I-III) as individual names, but later on the names on the list were applied to each demon type as a whole.

Which is where I come in. If a Vrock is a spiky vulture man demon, what other sorts of Type I demons could there be? I'm going to take the Gorgonmilk approach over the next few weeks: together we'll describe 13 demons of each type. One from Gary, a few from me, and the rest from you, my readers. The only rules that apply are that they should reasonably be able to correspond to the abilities of the demon as featured in the Monster Manual. One or two little changes are fine, but most of the statblock should remain useful.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

In which the obvious alternative presents itself...

We OSR folks do quibble a lot about energy drain, don't we?

Well, just now something occurred to me that I don't think I've ever seen used before-- why not pass the mummy's rotting curse onto level-draining undead? I think it works, and I think it's decent genre emulation.

Sorry this is a really short post, but it was just a thought that I figured the world might like to hear.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thinking more about the Sorcerer

The first place I looked was an OSR game that I knew used sorcerers: Blood and Treasure. B&T, of course, takes a lot more from 3rd edition than many OSR games, and this of course means that it has a Sorcerer class. The one present there is pretty much a straight adaptation of the 3.x one, sacrificing the potential diversity of a spellbook for spontaneous casting and more spells per day.

Now this does have the advantage of being very simple and straightforward, which is usually a useful thing, but I can't help but think that I'd like a little more emphasis on the sorcerer's magical bloodline-- this is something that both 4e and Pathfinder did with their interpretations. 4e, solid game though it is, suffers from compatibility issues, so I think my next avenue of research should be to look a little at how Pathfinder did things. I think one release or the other of Dangers and Dweomers did something like that too, so I'll consult that as well. Either way, not too much emphasis, just... something. Either way I think a draft might be coming in the next 2-3 days.

Update: A little crossreferencing suggests that a lot of what Luigi went with was to borrow elements from the PF bloodlines. I don't know if I'll do the same, but it does provide food for thought at least.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Towards old-school-izing two new school classes... but not the usual two!

I (And a lot of others) have fiddled around since 4e's release with bringing the Warlock and the Warlord into an old-school paradigm. That's been done enough, and successfully enough, that it's not what I'm here to talk about.

I think I want to go after two other newer classes: the 3.x/4e/PF Sorcerer, and the PF Oracle. I've always liked the idea behind the sorcerer, the natural aptitude for magic is an interesting variation... especially with the magical bloodline fluff that both Paizo and WOTC went on to implement in it. I don't yet know how I'm gonna work it, especially if I want to keep things simple, but I'm going to do a little researching, and maybe discuss it around the usual places, and see what ideas there are to see.

The Oracle I know less intimately, but it seems to me to stand as a take on the Cleric concept that is less fraught with the implicit assumptions that have so frustrated me on this blog (even if I've learned to live with them... it would still simplify my life to not have to. So I want to see where I can take that.)