Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Manticores

The Mantigon

The Mantigon was created by Yalys the Enchanter, and it is said that it only became cruel after watching her many deaths.  It is said that the Mantigon was one of her favorite sons.

(Yalys was a sorceress who created a bunch of powerful, unique monsters.  Each one has a different impression of her--one describes her as stern, another as mischievous.  The idea being that a group of determined adventurers can discover the location of Yalys' tomb only by talking to all of her monster-children and figuring out where she went to die her final death.  While this concept is cool, the implementation has, so far, eluded me.)

The Mantigon resembles an enormous old man stretched until he was 30' tall.  His grimacing face sags atop hunched shoulders, and it drags its boneless tail wherever it goes.

For the last few centuries, it has been offering a bounty for the other children of Yalys.  His belly bulges with the weight of its devoured siblings: strong enough to contain them, but not to digest them, as Yalys mastered the creation of immortal beasts early in her career.

The Mantigon lives with his wife, the Dragon Hen, in a stinking cave made all the more wretched by the Mantigon's constant digestive complaints.

Unlike his children, the Mantigon does not eat people.  His guts are full enough.  However, people who annoy him are hurled from the adjacent cliff.  Most people annoy him.

The only conversation he enjoys is slander.  He enjoys hearing horrible gossip.  Betrayals, catifights, scandals.  He cares nothing for truth, only extravagant descriptions of all the goats the the king secretly enjoys fucking.

(Stats as HD 8 giant that can breath stinking cloud every 1d4 rounds.  Non-magical weapons deal half-damage against him and cannot reduce him below 1 HP.  Nothing he eats can harm him.)

He welcomes two types of visitors.  Guests are often invited into his filthy cave to share one of his wife's enormous eggs, cooked over a low fire.

The first type are those who bring him works of art, the more ancient and irreplaceable the better.  He pays for these with gold from dead kingdoms.  Then he smashes the works of art and eats them.  His gums bleed from pottery shards, and leaded paints give him shooting pains behind the eyes, but still he gorges himself on these.

The second type are the bitter old men who wish to become manticores.

trampier, of course
Manticores

A person who wishes to become a manticore must fulfill three criteria.  They must be:

  • old
  • male
  • spiteful
More specifically, the horrible old man must also have a grudge that they want to settle. 

The Mantigon sometimes accepts those who match only two of these criteria, but never less than that.

Perhaps the orphaned Mantigon feels kinship with these fellow embittered souls.  Or it seeks to emulate his departed creatrix.  Or perhaps it's just a colossal dick that likes sowing discord.

The Mantigon will interview potential candidates to ensure that they are indeed old, hateful men, and that their grudge is indeed genuine.  There may be tests of spitefulness involved.  

The grudge must be one that a manticore, but not an old man, could achieve.  Usually this involves killing someone or ruining something.

Once accepted, the Mantigon cleans out one of his wife's eggs (they are always born empty--she is infertile) and stuffs the old man inside it.  He uses his saliva to seal up the egg, and it is given back to the Dragon Hen to incubate.  Nine days later, a small manticore hatches out of it.

It is unknown if the Mantigon can make other types of manticores, but regardless, all of the manticores that you will encounter will be flying lions with the heads of bitter old men.

The first thing they do is fulfill their original grudge.  This usually involves killing a local authority, destroying the farm they were forced out of, or eating some teenagers who made too much noise.

Then the manticore disperses.  (They do not return to the Mantigon, who has no more wish to hang out with a bitter old asshole than anyone else.)  However, from time to the Mantigon calls his manticores back and holds court.  It is unknown what, if anything, is discussed at these meetings. 

Manticores have unique psychologies.  While their initial moods are as varied as any humans, they invariably turn towards resentment.  

Roll reaction rolls normally.  On a neutral or better result, the manticore is talkative and possibly even friendly.  But as the encounter continues, the manticore will begin to grow resentful (over things that the party has and it lacks, such as youth, love, or thumbs) or insulted (as it begins to imagine veiled insults at every opportunity).  The only thing that keeps them calm is a steady supply of slanderous gossip accompanied by (at a minimum) the minor acts of casual cruelty.  

(Manticores don't actually enjoy widespread killing and cruelty.  Auschwitz, for example, would horrify one, and it would probably seek to avenge itself on the perpetrators.  Manticores prefer smaller actions, like breaking a kitten's tail and laughing at its pain, then spiking it to the ground when its mewling became aggravating.)

Everything that a manticore interacts with eventually becomes an object of resentment.  Opponents, their weapons, their clothes, et cetera.

A manticore will always devour a slain foe, their clothing, their weapons, their belongings.

Unlike their father, the Mantigon, they have no special ability to consume objects.  Bones will be splinted and wood will be chewed.  It is not uncommon to come across a manticore gnawing on a half-eated sword, cursing a dead knight with bleeding gums and broken teeth (which constantly regrow, like a shark's).

But they cannot digest the metallic chunks that they gag down, and such indigestible items are usually vomited back out.

That's the daily routine for many manticores.  Gnaw, bleed, gag, swallow, vomit, curse, and repeat.  

Indigestible items are concentrated in the tail, where the strongest elements become tail spikes.  

Such consumption is a difficult task, and the area around a manticore's lair are often littered with half-eaten objects, many having been swallowed and vomited up several times.  The manticore will always return to these objects once its mouth and throat have had a chance to heal.

In combat, they prefer to make strafing runs while riddling their target with spikes (which are later recovered and painfully re-swallowed).  

If a manticore is angry at you (and this is the default result) and is denied the reasonable catharsis of killing you, it will follow you, circling high above you, seeking to spite you in any way that it can.  It will try to kill people that look like they might know you.  It will yell down obscene things about your parentage.  It will scare away game and trample helpful herbs.  It will seek out water sources so that it can piss on you (but from a few hundred feet up, this is nothing more than the occasional droplet).

Manticore
HD 5  AC chain  Claw/Claw/Bite 1d8/1d8/1d4  Tail Spikes 1d10 + poison
Fly 18  Int 10  Morale 6

*Tail Spikes -- A manticore can make up to three separate tail spike attacks, but they must be at three separate targets, and no two targets can be more than 10' apart.  A manticore will be encountered with 1d10+10 spikes (track them).  These spikes are functionally identical to the iron spikes you can buy in town.

*Poison -- 1d4 per minute for 3 minutes.  Targets under the effects of a manticore's poison become bitter and resentful, and cannot aid their allies (unless their life depends on it).  Instead, they laugh at their friends' suffering, and will mock them even as they die.

The iron in a manticore's diet supplies the iron in their tail spikes.  If they are unable to achieve sufficient metal in their diet, the spikes will be stone (from eating dust) or bone (usually from suckling at cows' teats, after laming them), and will deal less damage (1d8 rather than 1d10).

There are rumors of more exotic types of manticore spikes.  Cursed spikes from a manticore that ate a cursed sword.  Golden spikes from a manticore that gained a dragon's hoard.  Metaphysical spikes from a dragon who ate too many philosophers.

7 comments:

  1. The first type of visitor are those bringing works of art. The second type are bitter old men seeking to become manticores. What's the third type?

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    Replies
    1. Typo. Originally something about slanderers.

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    2. Ah, you had that higher up about how he enjoys malicious gossip. So perhaps the sentence should say: "In addition to slanderers, he welcomes two other types of visitors."

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    3. I thought the missing third type was intentional. The first visitor helps it destroy beauty, the second helps it spread misery, and the less said about the third, the better.

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  2. You've a wonderful and dreadful imagination. Keep telling tales and I'll keep reading.

    ReplyDelete