Thursday, August 1, 2019

Trois Monstres

Shrifling

Named for the noise it makes.

One arm, one leg, one jaw, and one eye--it only needs one eye to see out of both sides of its paper-thin head.  If you reached out and touched it, it would squirm away, sharp hairs rushing under your fingers like the frayed rope connected to a falling boom.  The fibers are silky, but the tips are like knives.

Supposedly, they are born when rope kills its owner.

A competing theory maintains that they are cooperative colonies of tiny rockworms, akin to a migratory slime mold.  Everyone admits that this theory is less exciting, and therefor less likely to be true.

HD 4  (HP 1)  AC chain  Bite 1d12
Move horse  Climb spider  IntMor 10  Str 1

Threadlike -- Takes no fall damage.  Can creep along ceilings without falling.  Can leap through keyholes without slowing its gallop.  Looks like a thin strand of hair when it holds still.  Coiled up, a dead one barely fills your palm.


Confused by Hair -- Supposedly, it believe that the hair on a human's head is a baby.  It will attempt to 'rescue' the hair from a corpse, carry it to safety, and 'mourn' when it is unable to rouse the hair.

A shrifling I drew while waiting for the PCR to finish.
Barlutra

Giant carnivorous otters that hunt in packs.  Stats as wolves, except with a swim speed and a lower land speed.  They are sometimes hunted and harvested for a urine-like substance called lutreum, which is used in perfumes and fertility drugs.

They seem to show no fear of humans, and will occasionally prey on humans.  There is a tremendous amount of fear surrounding the barlutra, perhaps more than it deserves.

Superstitions:

1. Barlutra are drawn to pregnant women, who they seek to disembowel.
2. If a barlutra tail is waved over a sleeper, they will sicken.  Do every night for 7 days and they will die.
3. If a barlutra skull is buried beneath each room of a house, and the house is near a river, the house will be destroyed in a flood.
4. If a barlutra jumps over a corpse, the corpse will speak blasphemies until 3 am, damning the soul of the deceased.

When a pack of barlutra gets large enough, it will build a dam.  The dam forms a reservoir, and eventually multiple families of barlutra may take up residence around the reservoir.  Over a few years, they will dig and shape the reservoir until it is a perfect circle.

Then, the barlutra will contruct four false 'dams' at equidistant points around the circumference of this circular lake.  All dead creatures within the area will be raised as undead in service of the barlutra, who generally ignore the shambling, flopping things.

The rooms within their dams are lined with the skeletons of fish.  Animate, but waiting.  The corpses of their prey are often too scattered to recompose themselves, but those that can do so will drag themselves to the nearest 'dam' and incorporate themselves into the dam's structure.

Paladins and firebombs usually get involved long before this critical stage.  Still, barlutra in the remote parts of the world can remain undiscovered for generations, and the five towers of their reservoirs can grow to prodigious sizes.

Sidebar: Secret DM Knowledge

The reservoirs are summoning circles, waiting for someone with the knowledge to activate them.

Barlutra were corrupted long ago by Shadoom, in order to build his infernal infrastructure around Centerra.  Being beasts, they would never understand what they were building.  They would never betray him; they would never steal his secrets.  (Goblins were created for much the same reason.)

Whistlers and Hate Bees

Insects rip each other apart with a cruelty that is unfathomable to humans, but these depredations are impersonal.  In fact, the insect kingdoms are closely allied with one another.  They speak freely to each other, even as they tear the legs off one another.  They are united in their alien morality.

When the insect kingdoms become overcome with grief (when sorrow crushes them like a boot), they will mourn.  They do not weep nor pace.  Instead, all of the holometabolous insects in an area (except moths) come together and form a cocoon.

When a caterpillar forms a cocoon, the first thing that it does it to release enzymes that dissolve itself.  If you were to cut open a cocoon at the right time, a thick soup would dribble out.  The only parts of the caterpillar to survive are the soul discs, maintained by a webbing of nerves.  Safely encased in this nutrient soup, the insect regrows itself.  Unbound by its previous form, it is free to take any shape it wishes.

A grievous cocoon follows much of the same steps.  Each grievous cocoon is formed from hundreds of immature insects, and each cocoon is about the size of a soda can.

What emerges is a pair of insects, the whistler and the hate bee.

Sidebar: If the moth kingdoms were involved in the original meta-cocoon, the resulting creature will instead by a mothman.

Whistler

HD 2  AC chain  No Attacks
Fly bird  Int 10  Mor -

Whistlers are flying insects about the size of a fist.  They have heads on both ends of their pale bodies, but no mouths.  They do not need to eat.

They fly forwards like a hawk.  They fly backwards like a hummingbird.

When they find their target, they fly into the sky and detonate with a shrill noise.  This noise brings the hate bee.

Hate Bee

HD AC chain  Sting
Fly bird  Int Mor -

A hate bee is a large, black insect, about the size of your fist.  They are similar to bees, except that their stingers are nearly three inches long and extremely strong, being made from goethite nanofibers.  They usually secrete themselves inside hollow trees until they are summoned by a whistler.

The sting is instantly lethal (no save).  The victim's blood instantly blackens and turns to tar; their heart crushes itself to death.  The thickened blood can be harvested; from its distillation can a chemic harvest hatred.

The bee will continue to fly around, stinging madly.  It will kill as many people as it can.  Each time it stings, it takes 1d4 damage--it is not injecting poison, but its own rage and disgust.  And for a creature composed entirely of those emotions, this is a significant part of eternal soul.  A dead bee weighs half as much as a live bee (their souls are very heavy).

The calm emotions spell instantly kills a hate bee that fails its Save.

2d20 hours after the victim's death, their bones have weakened enough for the new caterpillar to crawl forth.  (The new caterpillar is formed from the brain and meninges of the newly deceased.)  The caterpillar will crawl to a quiet location (usually in the dead of the night) and weave a cocoon.

From the cocoon will spring several thousand insects.  Some large, most small.  Some impossible insects, some of the same mundane species that formed the original hate bee.  The impossible insects will include species that have gone extinct, some that have never existed, some that were born to kill more humans, and some that only want to crawl under a lot and suck tubers.  Many of them will have fragmented memories of the victim.

The stealthy nature of the caterpillar's exodus surprises many.  More than one adventuring party has been horrified to see the corpse of their ally split open in the morning, with the skull hollowed out and a slimy trail leading back into the infested forest that they just left.

Discussion

The hate bee is horrible, mostly because it will one-shot you regardless of your HP.  But players still have:

  • an opportunity to kill the whistler before it whistles
  • an opportunity to prepare/hide after the whistler whistles
  • an opportunity to kill the hate bee before it stings
  • an opportunity to save the stung person through the use of cold temperatures (casting cone of cold on their face) or calm emotions

Plus, its also possible to capture the whistler and use it against your own enemies.  All of this, taken together, makes the hate bee feel exploitable to be fun, and with enough opportunities for survival that I wouldn't feel evil throwing them at my players.

Also, if you are going to throw something like this at your players, be sure that they know that there are horrible insta-kill bees in the world before you throw insta-kill bees at them.  The one-armed guy in the tavern can tell them or--worst case scenario--just tell the fighter that he remembers fighting against these things in Abasinia, and what they can do.

By New York State Museum;University of the State of New York.

8 comments:

  1. I love Shadoom's work ethic. Why do things, when I can make animals do them for me?

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  2. Shadoom seems to be doing genetic biomancy as opposed to modifying a single creature at a time. Far more efficient as well! That does make me think though: if I cast Mutate on a creature, and it has offspring, will the offspring inherit those mutations as well?

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  3. Like the otter constructing summon circles.

    Like the idea all entering the same cacoon but not impressed with the mist thing emerging from it. I would except a suicidal megafauna form that avenges the insects grief

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