Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Goblin Library

In order to promote literacy, I wrote a couple of pdfs.  They're books of monsters.

Both books have been slightly updated to versions 1.1.  It's mostly styling bullshit that no one will ever notice, but I added a few paragraphs to the Book of Tigers and the Book of Mice got three new (minor) pieces of art.  So now you can see what a popkin looks like.  Yay!

Here are the downloads:

This is where I'll put some notes on what I was thinking when I was writing.

A lot of the monsters have weird, over-thought attacks or gimmicks. I foolishly think that mechanics matter almost as much as the flavor.  If you don't like them, discard them.  Excising boring or complicated mechanics you don't like is a simple matter and doesn't affect the flavor much.

Usage and Design in the Book of Tigers:

Most of the creatures in the Book of Tigers would fit in a city as well as a dungeon.  You can use them as randomly generated city encounters or subplots.  The alabaster hound is a powerful gimmick monster, but it has the ability to let you start a session at the bottom of a dungeon with a map and universal amnesia.

The beast with 10,000 names is stupid idea that turned into a boss monster that annoys your players by being indescribable (just be sure to describe individual body parts, and don't worry if the descriptions conflict).  Croclogons are the products of a flavorful summon spell, and give some interesting lore about the serpent people.  And the antagonistic psychoplasm has the nice benefit of challenging parties at any level while being random as fuck.  

Usage and Design in the Book of Mice:

Most of the creatures in the Book of Mice are 1HD critters or campsite threats.  The jelly-john is both, and I love the idea of the players punching each other in the stomach.  Fulgurite Elementals might be appropriate for lower level groups, due to their atrocious speed and inaccurate attacks (for a 10 HD monster).  Flying clobstroks are designed to be nasty little bastards.  Between their charge attacks and ability to grab faces, they've got a lot of fight for a 1 HD creature.  They give ambiance to the cliffsides, by standing on ledges above the party and shrieking at them.  When they finally mass up and attack, it shouldn't be a surprise.

I honestly have no idea how you'd use the screaming eels.

Gretchlings are designed to be even more pathetic than goblins.  Your players might have fun playing with their new "gaze attacks" and scaring the poop out of the poor little things, but the situation can change fast if a 2 HD gretch shows up (perhaps with a grue or two).  Your players light multiple torches, right?

The pink monkeys and their hotspring can be interesting tundra encounter that could involve fighting their protector (roll on the wandering monster table), stuffing monkeys into a sack, or just sitting in a sauna playing with some monkeys.

The bone needle men are meant to be the Horror on the bottom floor of a low-level dungeon.  Their rattling forces parties to camp a mile from the dungeon, and gives them plenty of ominous foreshadowing.  They have a weird damage mechanic that makes combat more chaotic, potentially threatening higher level characters, especially if paired with other monsters (recommended).

Tunnel snakes make ranger knowledge useful.  You'll find popkins in NPC's purses, adding to the mayhem, and I'm sure the villagers will need help killing their giant maggot once it escapes the garbage pit.

Mayfly sprites are flavorful, but I'm not sure how they'd best be used. Maybe you need a favor from one somehow, or an item from the bottom of the pond?  The bagmen are adorably incompetent (because not every monster you encounter needs to be an engine of destruction), and they have an interesting question attached: should we burn this thing alive?


  1. These are both great. Thanks also for releasing them under a CC license.

  2. Second the first part. A marvellous bestiary.

  3. Wow, those example monsters are great! Downloading...

    Thank you!

  4. Awesome! Thanks for sharing these!

  5. These sound fantastic, but forganthus seems to not be hosting them anymore. Is a re-upload possible?

  6. I love the use of spontaneous generation in fantasy settings, thank you for sharing these your ideas and creations are wonderful!

  7. I used a bone needle man kind of spontaneously last night and freaked out my players. Afterwards, one of them asked me "What book did that spooky monster come from?"

    This whole site is an inspirational goldmine though. Thanks!

  8. The bone needle man is astonishingly frightening for something with 2 HD and no exceptional combat abilities.

    What lurks in a dungeon with a bone needle man at the bottom, I wonder? Mindless things are obvious--oozes, lesser undead. Any intelligent critter that could work out a way to ignore it might keep one around specifically to keep meddlers away. Seems like something a lich would do. PCs addled by the rattle would be really easy to sneak up on...

    Are born-deaf creatures immune? Or do they get the full effect of silence immediately?

    Oooh, how about some one of those horrible cults that thinks suffering and madness are the key to divinity? They live in the bone needle man's dungeon, and induct new members by dragging them down there and hitting them with a Silence spell so they can experience unfiltered revelation. (Or just poking their eardrums out, if they're on a budget.) They'll swarm in like berserkers if the PCs make it to the shrine they've built around the bone needle man, but if you can take it out they all collapse in despair for the loss of their divine hotline. Extra fun if the PCs were sent to recover one or more recent inductees.