Sunday, May 30, 2021

OSR: Birds and their Feathery ilk

by Ricardo Lima

Mundane Birds:


1- Parrots steal words.  If a parrot flies overhead while you are talking, it can steal the words you are speaking.  You can no longer say those words until they pass through the parrot's body.  If you attempt to say them, you will be physically unable to and your brain will hurt you to prevent a tearing of the soul.
2- Crows cannot tell lies, but always try to deceive with deceptive wording and vaguery.
3- Ravens can see the future and utter prophecy.  If you bribe them, one can give you a warning or prediction about the immediate future.
4- Robins herald the coming of Spring and are the sworn enemies of Winter.  They attack Spirits of Winter and are the allies of the Geese.
5- Songbirds, when they sing, are actually singing war-songs and marcher ballads.  Druids and wild beasts almost never retreat if they can hear the singing of song-birds.
6- Gulls are able to sense the presence of gold and other valuables.  They will help you with this ability, for snacks.
7- Owls are aliens, immigrants from the Moon that are stranded here on Earth.  They are despised by all other birds.  They can speak, but only languages spoken on the Moon.
8- Storks who have no eggs of their own are known to kidnap babies, but usually return them, often to the wrong parents.
9- Ducks are sex-fiends.  Duck meat is rich and is known to be an aphrodisiac.  Duck blood is also the primary ingredient of a potion of perversion.
10- Flamingos are immune to acid, resistant to fire and can tolerate high levels of poisonous gasses.  They live where few other things can.  Their feathers are prized by armor-smiths, seamstresses and Sages/Magi.
11- Pigeons are extremely loyal and easy to train.
12- Raptors are bound by codes of honor and if you aid one, it will owe you a debt.  This especially applies to Eagles, which the lesser Lords of small birds, and can command other birds to aid it in battle, usually other Raptors.
13- Ostriches easily fall in love with humanoids.  Though strong, they are easily seduced by humanoids.   
14- Emus are killing machines.  They are strong as ostriches, but have interest in making friends.  They are extremely territorial and will gut anything dangerous-looking in their territory.  They are also called Scythe-Birds.
15- Pelicans are merchants and will exchange the fish in their mouth for other things that Pelicans value- usually food/other things a Pelican cannot obtain by itself.  Pelicans love bread, cheese and sausages. 
16- Wood-peckers' beaks can punch through stone or metal, given enough time.  They can be trained to chip through such items and are often trained by criminals to help them escape from jail.  Artisans also train them to carve wood into unusual shapes and patterns.
17- Starlings, when moving as part of a flock, can hypnotize larger prey to give themselves time to escape.  Hunters of starlings, when they see a flock taking flight, blind-fold themselves and start loosing arrows into the air.  Some dumber creatures, such as dogs, are immune to the hypnotic effects of a Murmuration.
18- Sparrows can talk to trees and are often contracted by trees to protect them from insects.  They also sometimes act as interpreters for Sages or Druids.
19- Swans are fearless.  If you are bitten by a Swan, you will absorb some of the Swan's fear, while it steals some of your courage.  This excess fear will be filtered out of your body by your liver within a day, but for the moment, you will be more cowardly.
20- Geese are the prized prey of Spirits of Winter, as the Geese can sense the presence of such Spirits and always flee before-hand.  If you need to please a Spirit or creature aligned with Winter, a goose is always an excellent gift.  Geese are also impatient and short-tempered, as they have usually lived lives free from any real problems.  


Royal Robin

Number Appearing: 1, 1d4 if the Winter Folk or Undead associated with Winter are attacking a location in large numbers.
Alignment: Neutral Good
Languages: None, they understand the lingua franca and other popular dialects, but cannot speak.
Treasure: Their eggs are extremely valuable, either to raise in a city so the Royal Robin will protect that city when it grows up; or to eat, which is something only done by evil beings.

Winter is not just associated with cold and darkness because of the weather, but because when it comes, the power of Life is actually weakened.  It is no coincidence that the Queen of Air and Darkness is the cruelest of the Folkish Sovereigns and is often linked with cults that revere Death or the Gods of Always Winter.  When the sun grows weak or is concealed by thick clouds, the foulest of the Folk emerge from their snow-dusted domains in the distant mountains amid ice storms and howling blizzards to descend into the lowlands and the warm country to steal away children and inflict their cruel desires on the unsuspecting. 

So when these creatures first began to terrorize the races of mortals, they prayed for deliverance, and the Simurgh, Queen of Birds, heard them.  She blessed some of Robin's offspring, giving them greater size and then, with the permission of the Gods, collected fire from the sun and gave it to them to drink.  Thus she created the Royal Robins.  Royal Robins are large birds, most as big as mules with large wingspans.  Their feathers are golden and white, often speckled with brown or black and their breasts are red as hot blood.  They wear crowns of steam and smoke that are only dimly visible except when the air is cool and command flames, able to dive through them without being burned and direct them to devour their enemies.

Royal Robins fight for the hot-blooded creatures of Spring and wage eternal war against the Folk of the Winter Court and those creatures who use the snow and ice to hide from the sun.  They are valiant and courageous, but not always kind.  They tend towards arrogance and foolishness, especially in battle.  Few are even willing to consider the possibility of defeat.  If one comes to your aid, it will likely expect you to praise it effusively, and will be disappointed if you don't.


Royal Robin
HD 3
AR none
Atk Beak and Talons (1d6+1/1d6+1)
Mor 14
Saves 10 or less
Immune to Fire and Fire Damage

Flyer: Royal Robins can fly.  When in the air, Robin Barons get +2 to AR and +4 to initiative.  They cannot hover and must continue flying in order to stay in the air. 

Flaming Aura: A Robin Baron can ignite itself, covering itself in a coat of flames.  This causes it to do +1d6 fire damage when it successfully hits with a melee attack.  Additionally, creatures within 5' while the Robin Baron is on fire take 1d6 fire damage.  If the flames around it's body are extinguished, either because of 'Meteor Strike' or because of any other reason, the Robin Baron cannot ignite itself for 1d4 rounds.

Heat Wave: If on fire, a Robin Baron can extend the flames around it's body, firing burning projectiles at any creature within 100'.  These fiery projectiles do 1d6 fire damage and ignore non-magical or non-specialist armor.

Meteor Strike: A Robin Baron can, if on fire, crash down upon the ground.  This causes any creature directly underneath them when they land to take 2d6 bludgeoning damage.  Additionally, that creature and any other creature within 30' takes 2d6 fire damage, save for half, as an explosion ripples out from the point of impact. 

- Ignite self, descend with 'Meteor Strike'
- Savage the survivors in melee
- Only retreat and use 'Heat Wave' if the enemy is much stronger than yo

artist unknown

Doom Eyes

Number Appearing: 1d4
Alignment: True Neutral
Languages: None, they are unintelligent, but can understand some phrases and are talented mimics.
Treasure: They have glands in their head that can be used to create potions of clairvoyance, which are valuable to Sages trained in Alchemy.

The Doom Eyes are huge, grim birds with dark heads and lusterless feathers.  They have flaps of skin hanging from below their beaks like turkeys and their eyes are huge, watery blue and penetrating.  Peasants tell many dark stories about them, claiming they serve Death and come to steal the souls of babies who have yet to be born, which is why miscarriages happen.  If you see one, it also means that you're going to die soon, so people avoid them whenever possible. 

Sadly, that last superstition is actually true.  The older cousin of the Vulture, Doom Eyes can not only see the dead from a long way off, but from before they even die.  They are able to see the future, giving them knowledge of imminent deaths and other tragedies, which they come to be the first to eat the carrion there.  As such, when a Doom Eye shows up, it is a sign that something really bad is about to happen, and if more than one shows up, there's likely to be a bloodbath or a disaster.

Despite this, Doom Eyes are not evil.  They are just clever beasts granted magical knowledge which they use to find food for themselves.  They can repeat phrases if they spend enough time around people, but the stories of them speaking grim prophecies and mocking people as they die are not true. 

Doom Eyes are sometimes taken in by Sages and other creatures with need of knowledge of the future.  They can be tamed, though it can still harm it's owner for no reason, even after years of good behavior.  This is usually due to the fact that it is a beast, or perhaps it is because the Doom Eyes saw how it's master would die and did not want to defy the whims of fate.


Doom Eyes
HD 2
AR 4 [Foreknowledge]
Atk Beak (1d6 sharp + Transferable Visions) or Evil Eye
Mor 10
Saves 9 or less

Flyer: Doom Eyes can fly.  When in the air, they get +2 to AR and +4 to initiative.  They cannot hover and must continue flying in order to stay in the air. 

Grim Clairvoyance: Doom Eyes are constantly inundated with visions of the future.  These visions are usually grim omens, mostly of how those they can see will die and when they are likely to.  This gives a Doom Eyes foreknowledge of the future.  This also gives them knowledge of how the creatures around them will die, and if forced to fight, Doom Eyes are smart enough to exploit that knowledge for their own gain.  

Transferable Visions: Any creature whose flesh is damaged by a Doom Eyes' beak must save.  On a failed save, the creature collapses in a stupor for 1d10 minutes as visions of the future rush through their head.  These creatures will naturally recover with a vague, and usually unhelpful, prophecy about the immediate future.  Creatures who pass their save are instead granted the Doom Eyes' clairvoyance for 1d10 minutes.  This gives +1d4 to Attack and Defense rolls, but it also causes the target to take +1d6 damage from the source destined to kill them.  To see what source of damage is likely to kill you, roll on the table below.

What kills you?


1- Impalement.  Spears, lances, stakes or etc do +1d6 damage to you for the duration.
2- Chopped up.  Swords, axes, and anything else that cuts does +1d6 damage for the duration.
3- Smashing.  Hammers, maces and other blunt weapons do +1d6 damage to you for the duration.
4- Crushing.  Falling boulders, Giants and other large monsters with clubs, being trampled by a horse, all these sources do +1d6 damage for the duration.
5- Burning.  Sources of fire do +1d6 damage to you for the duration.
6- Drowning.  Because of the visions, you'll likely panic, which will make you drown faster.
7- Poisoning.  Sources of poison damage, such as snakes, poisoned arrows and assassins spiking your drinks, do +1d6 damage for the duration.
8- Magic.  Someone casts a spell on you that kills you- this can either be a direct damage spell or a instant death effect.  You have disadvantage on your save against spells for the duration.

Evil Eye: As an action, a Doom Eyes can look at a creature.  That creature must save.  On a failed save, the creature takes 1d8 necrotic damage and any open wounds it has become infected.  A creature is considered to have open wounds if it has taken HP damage and hasn't rested or received magical healing since.  Creatures at 50% or lower HP make this save at disadvantage.

- Attack with beak and fly away
- Use 'Evil Eye' on the wounded
- Retreat if survivors are not significantly injured or pose a threat

artist unknown

Bone-Eater Birds

Number Appearing: 1d6 (1 is a lone scout, any more is a hunting party)
Alignment: True Neutral
Languages: None
Treasure: Their nests are littered with shiny trinkets left behind by previous victims.  Anything made of cloth is likely torn to shreds to make bedding, but gold, jewels and metal is used to decorate nests.

Bone-Eater Birds are huge, flightless birds the size of men with broad shoulders and huge wings rippling with muscles beneath brown and white feathers.  They have crude hands near the end of their wings like a bat, and are able to use these to grab items and use tools.  They also walk on these hands like chimpanzees, but can stand up and walk like men if necessary, though they prefer the former.  They have rounded beaks like a macaw, and these beaks give them their name, as they are strong enough to crush the shells of large creatures and the armor of civilized folk.  They can also use their beaks to break bone, which they do to harm prey and enemies, as well as to get at the tasty marrow inside. 

Bone-Eater Birds are smart enough to use tools, able to construct crude weapons and armor for themselves, though only after they see other, more intelligent creatures doing the same.  They do not speak and do not understand language, but do communicate through a wide variety of calls, including clicks, whistles and screeches.  The only other thing they build are their nests.  These nests do not usually exist year round, most of the time Bone-Eater Birds live in caves, grottoes or in thick groves of trees in crude shelters.  But during mating season, males will build nests out of logs, sticks and other materials they can find, sometimes including the blood-stained garments taken from creatures they have slain.  They then decorate these nests with shiny objects, usually rocks and naturally occuring crystals, but in any place where the Bone-Eaters have been preying on civilized folk this will also include jewelry, coins and other items. 

Female Bone-Eaters will choose the male with the most shiny objects and join him inside the nest.  The more shiny objects a male has, the stronger he appears, so he will be able to obtain more females.  For this reason, Bone-Eaters become especially dangerous during the mating season, as young males range far and wide, looking for the shiniest objects to adorn their nests with.      


Bone-Eater Birds
HD 1d3+2
AR 1d4-1 [Fragile Bone Armor]
Atk Bone-Crushing Beak (1d8-4, ignore armor) or Crude Bone Weapon (1d6+2)
Mor (10+1 per additional Bone-Eater and +X equal to their highest AR)
Saves (7+HD) or less

Bone-Crushing Beak: The Bone-Eater's beak can crush armor and bone like it isn't there, smashing it apart.  If a Bone-Eater attacks a creature wearing Armor or with a shield successfully hits it, that armor's AR is reduced by the damage dealt.  If this damage reduces that armor's AR to 0, the armor is destroyed.  Additionally, a Bone-Eater can target a creature's limbs.  If it does, it does CON damage instead of HP damage.  Should a Bone-Eater do enough CON damage to a creature to reduce it to 0 CON, the Bone-Eater smashes that creature's bone and bites off one of that creature's limbs.  That creature will immediately begin suffering the effects of a broken bone.

Fragile Armor: Bone-Eater Bird armor is made of bones and strung together with scavenged or stolen rope, twine and leather taken from the clothing of victims.  Should the armor or a Bone-Eater wearing it take any fire damage, it falls apart.  It can also be easily cut apart by someone with an accurate cut.

- Charge in, gang up on a creature
- Crush armor, bite that creature's limbs off, then kill it
- Scare away the others and take the corpse back to the nest to loot and eat
- Avoid dangerous targets, but be somewhat overconfident

Note: This next one is a little "questionable", so if your players are not comfortable with this stuff, feel free to not include them.

Man-Snatcher Fowl

Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: Chaotic Evil - Just the worst
Languages: The Lingua Franca
Treasure: Back at it's lair, you will find wine, silk cushions and fine fabrics, expensive rugs, perfumes and scented oils and jewelry.  If it has any magic weapons, they are carried with it.  It carries the best weapons it has, anything else is sold or hidden somewhere.  You will also find elaborate restraints here, chains and shackles and collars and leashes.  Additionally, to those who know the secret of it's slime, the Fowl's slime is extremely valuable. 

Man-Snatcher Fowls are what happens when a large bird and a Demon love each other very much.  Or at least, that's what they must be.  In truth, the origin of these mysterious beasts is unknown.  No one knows what they actually come about, though most assume it definitely involves demons or evil spirits at some point.  Man-Snatchers are tall, bird-like creatures that resemble Gralei, but they are hunched and twisted, betraying their likely origin as that of a beast.  They are also much more colorful than Gralei, their plumage being lurid hues of green, pink, blue or yellow.  They wear clothes that do not impede their ability to fly, favoring thin robes they can discard or sleeveless tunics.  They are also fond of showing off their stolen wealth, adorning their clawed fingers with rings and draping themselves in belts of gold medallions.  When in dangerous situations, they wear armor, wrapping themselves in whatever bits they can get to fit their distorted bodies.

Man-Snatchers are named as they are for several reasons.  Firstly, because they have the ability to steal a man's strength, thus to "steal" his manhood.  Luckily, this theft is temporary, and any man who has his strength stolen usually has it returned.  The second, and primary reason, is that they kidnap men and carry them off, and those men are never seen again.  Most people assume those men are then killed and eaten, as those men are almost never found.  But the real reason lies in the secret of the Man-Snatcher's slime.  The green-blue sludge that these creatures can secrete transforms men into women.  Man-Snatchers use this ability to transform anything they capture into a potential bride, which is then spirited away to the Man-Snatcher's lair.

That lair will usually be in some kind of cave, but could also be in an abandoned fortress or castle, or some other ruin now occupied.  They will find it stuffed full of stolen finery, lush carpets to cover up the rotting floorboards, tapestries to keep the draft out and cover up the places where peasants took stones from the walls to build things, as well as other expensive goods.  The Man-Snatcher spares no expense for his brides, of which he has many.  He will keep most of them locked in cages or chained to the wall while he is gone, as most of them do not want to be there.

Man-Snatcher Fowls like to think of themselves as sophisticated and enlightened.  They hate to be rough with their brides, but they will, should the situation demand it.  But mostly they prefer to pretend that the "women" they have brought home are not captives, but are instead there of their own free will.  Anyone willing to entertain this notion will find them to be courteous hosts- but never forget what they truly are.  


Man-Snatcher Fowl
HD 1d4+2
AR 3 [Scavenged Armor]
Atk Weapon (1d6+1/1d6+1)

Flyer: Man-Snatcher Fowl can fly.  When in the air, they get +2 to AR and +4 to initiative.  They cannot hover and must continue flying in order to stay in the air.  The Man-Snatcher cannot fly if it is wearing medium or heavy armor. 

Strength Siphon: By touching a creature, a Man-Snatcher Fowl can cause that creature to take 1d6 STR damage.  This also gives that creature a -1 penalty to attacks, STR checks and saving throws.  This bonus stacks.  Meanwhile, the Man-Snatcher Fowl gets a +1 bonus to STR checks, saving throws, Attack and Defense rolls and damage per time it uses this ability.  STR damage done this way is undone when the Man-Snatcher Fowl releases the magical hex, which it can do as a free action, or when it next goes to sleep or otherwise loses consciousness.       

Womanizing Slime: As an action, a Man-Snatcher Fowl can unleash a cone of slime that drenches all creatures within 15' of it.  This slime does 2d6 DEX damage, save for half.  Those with shields can save to avoid all damage.  The slime is animated and will slowly seek to swallow up and cover any living creature it touches, doing 1d6 DEX damage to that creature per round.  The slime can be scraped off as an action, which restores 1d6 DEX, burned by hot fire, washed away by large amounts of water or destroyed by any acid, even weak ones like lemon juice.  Should a creature be reduced to 0 DEX by this slime, it covers them and forms a cocoon around them.  After a brief amount of time, the cocoon cracks and the creature within can exit the cocoon.  If the creature was a male when cocooned, it will now be transformed into a female of it's species.  If the creature was female when cocooned, it instead takes 1d6 permanent stat damage to a random stat and has that many points added to CHA (max 18(+3)).  Once used, the Man-Snatcher Fowl must wait 1d4 rounds to use Womanizing Slime again. 

The Man-Snatcher Fowl can produce slime that reverses the effect of it's ordinary slime, though it is loathe to do so. 

- Hit the ranged attackers at range
- Fly in, drain the melee attackers, drench them in slime, fly out
- Be as annoying as possible

To customize a Man-Snatcher Foul, roll on the tables below:

What does the Man-Snatcher protect itself with?


1- Medium Armor.  The armor grants 3 AR and is designed to be easily taken off, so the Man-Snatcher can easily take to the air. 
2- Light Armor.  The Armor grants 2 AR and the Man-Snatcher can still fly wearing it.  The armor is a tightly-woven silk garment, capable of stopping an arrow, but also flammable.
3- A shield.  Can be splintered to reduce an incoming attack's damage by 1d12, but this destroys it. 
4- A magic robe.  The robe produces an anti-magnetic field.  When activated, as a free action, any creature who approaches within 10' must save or be blown backwards 15' and knocked prone.  Creatures get a penalty to their save equal to X, where X is the amount of metal items they are carrying on their person.  The robe can function like this for 10 minutes per day, before it cannot be used.  It can also be used to levitate the user, but this draws from the same pool of time.

How does the Man-Snatcher fight?


1- With a bow and arrow.  Does 1d6+STR damage.  Besides normal arrows the Man-Snatcher also has 1d4 [1= Arrows coated in pitch, ready to be lit; 2= Arrows dipped in poisons that knock creatures out; 3= Arrows coated in halluciogens; 4= Magic Arrows.]
2- With a sling.  Does 1d6+STR damage.  Besides normal stones, the Man-Snatcher also carries 1d4 [1= Steel balls that do 1d8+STR damage, but bounce off metal armor or shields; 2= Small pots full of acid; 3= Small pots full of flammable liquid; 4= Tiny clay pots with poisonous scorpions in them.] 
3- With a wand or staff.  It is a 1d2 [1= Wand; 2= Staff,] that converts mana into 1dX [1= Acid; 2= Necrotic energy; 3= Ice; 4= Force.]
4- With a sword.  The sword is 1d3 [1= Masterwork; 2= An abused weapon that desperately needs maintenance (if cleaned it reveals itself to be a relic of another era; 3= A ceremonial sword that breaks on a "20" or a "1".]
5- With a magic ring.  The ring allows the wearer to turn his fingers into black snakes.  If the Man-Snatcher hits with an unarmed strike (d4+STR), the ring transforms his fingers into snakes and bite the target, doing 1d8 additional necrotic damage.  The Man-Snatcher can then have the snakes bit him to restore him that much HP, or he can have them bite someone else.  The ring can do this 3/Day.  The Man-Snatcher also carries a normal melee weapon.
6- With a magic weapon.  The Man-Snatcher carries a magical axe called Heartbreak that, 1/Day, if it has injured someone can drain that person's emotions, stealing their fear, sorrow or rage.  Then, whenever the wearer wishes, he can release those emotions in a blast that targets one creature- causing that creature to save or be overcome with a flood of emotion, or he can release it in a general wave, which affects everyone within 50' in a lesser way.   

Does the Man-Snatcher have any accomplices?


1- A Yith Hound.  A dog with the face of a man and a body that can transform into dark smoke.  A Folk.  Can speak but not lie.  Creepy and sorrowful, but very loyal. 
2- A Displacer Beast.  Cold-hearted, sadistic and always hungry.  Only fear of retaliation keeps it from devouring the Man-Snatcher's brides.
3- 1d10 vicious dogs.  Simple beasts, but unfriendly and always hungry.  The brides held captive there have been told the Man-Snatcher will feed them to the dogs, should he grow displeased with them.
4- An Evil Spirit (of the Land).  The Spirit has found a kindred spirit in the Man-Snatcher, who has made a pact with the Spirit.
5- 1d20+4 bandits.  They are promised brides of their own, but do not know the secret of the Man-Snatcher's women, as they are forbidden from seeing them.  Not very loyal and will abandon him should you make a better offer.
6- A Harpy.  Guards the women and unintentionally tortures them with her songs.  Those who refuse to praise her are tortured intentionally.
7- A Yagra.  Pretending to be friends with the women, though she won't let them leave, and the Man-Snatcher.  Plotting to kill the women and the Man-Snatcher when the time is right or when she gets bored.
8- 1d12 Mockeries.  The mockeries were created by a long-dead artificer and serve the Man-Snatcher as if he was that Artificer.  The Mockeries include among their ranks several Mock-Guards, a Mock-Butler, a Mock-Chef and a Mock-Dog.  If you stole the control egg, the entire household of Mockeries would be yours to command. 

by Jonathan Kuo

Cinnamon Finch and Harvester Bird

Cinnamon Finches are small red-brown birds slightly larger than normal Finches that lay delicious brown eggs.  They are considered a rare delicacy in the Equatorial lands, with birds going for impressive sums and the eggs of the same going for even larger amounts.  Many an adventurer has made a pretty penny hawking Cinnamon Finch eggs to the right buyer.  This is because of the taste, of course, but also because of how difficult it is to find such eggs.  That's not to say it is difficult to find Cinnamon Finches- in some areas, they are extremely common.  No, there are two reasons why they are difficult to find.  Firstly, the Cinnamon Finch only nests on a type of tree known for its spiny, unappetizing leaves that only grows in the middle of the sprawling grasslands.  Secondly, it's because of the Harvester Bird. 

Harvester Birds are absolutely massive beasts, the largest approaching fourty feet tall, with even smaller ones rising to twenty or more feet.  These birds rise to the same height as Giants, with many of them rising even higher.  These birds are large enough to grab a horse in their beak and break it's neck with a single quick thrash.  Harvester Birds roam the vast grasslands of the Equatorial lands, devouring large animals and drinking rivers dry.  Their name comes from their beaks, which are long and sharp as the blades of a scythe, not that such sharpness is usually necessary, as the Harvester Bird's bite is strong enough to snap most bones like dry twigs.  They are terrible beasts, possessing the strength of an elephant with the cruel savagery of a chicken.

The Cinnamon Finch and the Harvester Bird have a symbiotic relationship that is commonly known about, with flocks of the Finches resting on the Harvester Bird's back and neck.  The finches wake the Harvester Bird and alert it of danger.  Additionally, they protect the Harvester Bird's eggs from parasites that like to burrow through the shell to eat the unborn bird inside.  Meanwhile, the Harvester Bird serves as a walking deterrent for the finches and a constant source of prey for the Finches, in the form of the parasites on it's body, to the insects it stirs up when it walks somewhere.  The finches also return the favor by marking anything that threatens them or their nest with their dust, which Harvester Birds have learned to track for miles.  So if you have been marked by a Cinnamon Finch, you should immediately wash or burn the smell of yourself, as if you don't, you could very easily find that it's Harvest time.      

(Cinnamon Finch)
Number Appearing: 1d20
Alignment: True Neutral
Languages: None
Treasure: The birds are delicious if cooked properly and the eggs are valuable and tasty.

(Harvester Bird)
Number Appearing: 1 (thank the gods)
Alignment: True Neutral
Languages: None
Treasure: Shattered weapons and armor, as well as any other valuables its' last victims had


Cinnamon Finch
HD 0 - 1 HP
AR none
Atk Spice Dust
Mor 7
Saves 7 or less

Flyer: Cinnamon Finches can fly.  When in flight, this gives them +4 to AR and +10 to initiative.  They cannot hover. 

Spice Dust: The Cinnamon Finch can, by flying over a creature, sprinkle in fine powder that gives off an extremely strong smell.  Additionally, any creature sprinkled in this powder must save or lose as an action as he starts sneezing furiously.  The dust can be burned- but it causes a creature to take +1 fire damage per time they have been hit with Spice Dust. 

- Sprinkle a creature in Spice Dust
- Fly away

Harvester Bird
HD 8
AR 3 [Natural Armor]
Atk Beak (1d12) + Claw (1d8+2)
Mor 15
Saves 13 or less

Great Jaws: If a Harvester Bird bites a creature, that creature is automatically grappled.  The Harvester Bird can then, by sacrificing it's beak attack on its turn, do 1d8 damage to that creature on it's turn.  If the Harvester Bird is injured on the turn immediately preceding it's own, the creature caught in its mouth has advantage on it's STR check to break the grapple and escape.

Giant Creature: The Harvester Bird has a STR of 19(+4) and gets a +2 bonus to all STR checks made against a Medium creature, such as in an opposing grapple check, but -2 to any DEX checks or saves against an ability from a Medium creature. 

- Grab the biggest or strongest looking creature, grab and shake
- Throw them, pick up the next strongest, repeat as necessary
- Wait until they run away then eat the slain 

by Jonathan Hunt


Number Appearing: 1
Alignment: True Neutral
Languages: None
Treasure: Roc Eggs are an extremely rare and expensive delicacy, and many of their body parts are valuable to alchemists and Sages.  Their talons also can be used to make extremely dangerous weapons and their egg shells can be made into light armor if you know how.

Stone-Crest Eagles are large birds that prey upon other birds, fish, monkeys and basically anything else they can kill.  They hatch from black and white spotted eggs and their parents are known to mate for life, with most only taking another mate if the other dies.  There is little notable about these Eagles except for a single obscure fact- Stone-Crest Eagles never, ever stop growing.  Additionally, these remarkable birds do not age. 

As such, though they start the size of normal eagles, Stone-Crest Eagles will keep growing.  After 5 years, they are the largest type of Eagle in the world.  After ten, they are the size of horses and easily able to abduct humans.  At 20 years, they stop eating humans because they aren't worth the effort, moving on to cows, horses and wildebeest.  At 30 years, they gobble down entire herds of wild horses and cast long shadows with their wings.  At 50 years, Rocs snatch Elephants like rabbits and duel with Dragons for control of mountain ranges. 

The oldest known Roc is believed to be the one that accompanied the Raging Dawn* Druid Circle who waged war on the Persimmon Teacup Confederation in the lands of the Handsome Men for 40 years, before eventually being hunted down and killed by a coalition of forces that included warriors from the nearby Mohraji Desert, the Free Cities of the Bathwater [Sea] and hundreds of Handsome Men households, including two Perfect Princes.  That Druid Circle had a Roc which the Archdruid had protected when it was an egg, and it is believed to have been at least 90 years ago.  That Roc, known as Blackwing, blocked out the sun when it flew by and fed almost exclusively on giant sharks, whales and wurms.

Finally, one other note.  Rocs, or Stone-Crest Eagles, become sexually mature at 2 years and lay eggs once a year, assuming a mated pair.  And they never stop.  Stone-Crest Eagles lay eggs once a year, no matter what size they are.  And their eggs are proportional.  An egg laid by a three year old Stone-Crest is the size of a normal eagle.  One laid by a seven year old eagle is the size of a watermelon, one laid by a 15 year old eagle is as big as a man in the fetal position and a 24 year old Roc's Egg is as big as a pony and weighs about as much.  It is said that the bigger the egg, the better it tastes, with stone-crest eggs being sour and Roc eggs being the nectar of the Gods, but it's not like that's a common opinion, as very few people have ever eaten Roc eggs and lived to tell about it.  Many people will claim to have eaten Roc eggs, especially adventurers, but most of those people are probably pulling your leg.

Also, as the eagles grow, their body parts become more and more saturated with mana.  When they are just normal eagles, they are essentially indistinguishable from others, but as they grow their body parts become more charged.  Many parts of a Roc's body would be valuable to an alchemist or a Sage, their talons and beaks can be used to make weapons and even the discarded shells their young hatch from can be easily made into light, magical armor.    


HD 1d20
AR Varies, see below
Atk Varies, see below
Mor 5+HD (max 17)
Saves (7+HD) or less (max 15)

Flyer: Rocs can fly.  When in the air, they get +2 AR and +4 to initiative, unless they have 8 or more HD.  At that point, they do not receive an AR bonus from flying.

Great Claws: If a Roc successfully hits a creature with a Claw attack, that creature is automatically grappled.

Swallow: If a Roc has 8 or more HD and has a creature grappled, it can attempt to swallow that creature.  That creature may make a STR check against the Roc's STR check or he may make a DEX check with disadvantage.  On a failed check, that creature is swallowed whole.  Swallowed creatures are blinded and grappled and cannot do anything that requires large or precise movements.  They also take 1d6 acid damage a round.  If the Roc takes 10 or more damage as the result of an attack, the Roc must save.  On a failed save, the Roc spits up the creature it swallowed.  Rocs can also choose to spit up creatures as a free action on their turns. 

Fear of Storms: The only thing Rocs fear besides Dragons and Sphinxes is lightning.  As such, when faced with lightning or if it hears a large boom that could be mistaken for thunder, Rocs must immediately check morale with disadvantage.  The only time they won't is when defending a mate, their nest or their eggs. 

- Ignore any creature much smaller than you unless it is very annoying
- Pick someone up, fly up high, drop them
- If that doesn't work, hit them with your claws
- Don't fear anything much smaller than you, unless it has magical powers or starts throwing around lightning

To determine a Roc's strength, consult the table below:

How big is it?

1-3 HD: Big as a man.  AR 0.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d8).
4-7: Big as a pony.  AR 1.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d8) + (1d6+2).
8-12: Big as an elephant.  AR 1.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d10) + (1d8+1).
13-15: Big as an house.  AR 2.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d10) + (1d8+2).
16-17: Big as a church.  AR 2.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d12) + (1d10).
18: Big as a 3-story building.  AR 3.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d12) + (1d10+2).
19: Big as a 5-story building.  AR 4.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d20) + (1d12+2).
20: Big as a seven-story building.  AR 5.  Atk Beak and Claws (1d20+2/1d20+2).

by Scrap Princess

Bedlam Birds

Number Appearing: 2d6+2
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Languages: The Lingua Franca, plus they are talented mimics
Treasure: The only treasure they have is the satisfaction you'll feel when you kill them.

The worst creatures that have ever dared to exist.  Bedlam Birds are small birds, about the size of turkeys, who hop and scamper along.  Their beaks are long and pointed, covered in a triangular pattern that makes it look like they are constantly leering at you, with these smug grins on their faces.  Their plumage is black and grey, and usually splattered with filth.  They are clumsy fliers, but move quickly and stealthily along the ground.  They also have razor sharp spurs on the back of their legs, with which they can inject a poison that causes both agonizing pain and induces psychosis in those who are exposed to enough of it. 

Bedlam Birds are intelligent and utterly sadistic.  They love to torture creatures, springing along with black mirth in their hearts.  They will isolate lone travelers, calling to them in fake voices, asking them for help, yelling insults and finally mimicking the traveler's voice, throwing his own cries for mercy back at him.  They will break into farms at the edges of villages, drive the parents insane and leave the children to fend for themselves.  When the children try to flee, the Bedlam Birds then pounce and kill them too.  They love to target the vulnerable, such as those traumatized by war or tormented by evil spirits.  They roam shanty-towns at the dead of night, seeking victims.

Bedlam Birds have the amazing ability to be able to detect when someone is observing them, no matter how far away that person is.  As such, they are amazing at sneaking around.  They maintain stealth for as long as possible, only letting themselves be seen by those who will not be believed.  They seek to drive their prey to the point of madness, making them crazy with fear.  They use their ability to mimic voices to torment and confuse opponents and then go in for the kill.

Everyone hates Bedlam Birds.  Genocides and wars have been halted because a nest of Bedlam Birds has been discovered, or a Malignity of them has been found taking advantage of the chaos.  The birds are utterly despicable.  The only good thing Bedlam Birds do is that they refuse to aid even the fellow slaves of darkness.  They will sometimes do what asked when ordered to, under penalty of death, but refuse in all other circumstances, unless they plan to cooperate and betray their target later, as a joke.  They will do anything to survive.  They are humble creatures, willing to denigrate themselves, to say and do anything in order to live.  Do not trust a word from their beaks.

The only creature Bedlam Birds can tolerate are each other, everything else is regarded as a target for sadistic fun.  As such, whenever they are found, people try their best to exterminate them.  Yet somehow, no matter how many of them we kill, they still exist.  And perhaps that is their worst crime.       


Bedlam Bird
HD 1
AR none
Atk Poison Spurs (1d4 + 1d6 COG)
Mor 11
Saves 7 or less

Poison Spurs: Exposure to the Bedlam Bird's poison does damage to the mind.  If the COG damage from the poison reduces a creature to 0 COG, that creature goes permanently insane.  Only a powerful antidote or magical healing involving 3 or more MD can purge the poison from the system and restore the target's sanity.

Sense Attention: Bedlam Birds can sense when someone is looking at them or listening to them, no matter how well concealed that creature is.

Sneaky: Bedlam Birds get +2 to all stealth checks, or +4 in low-light conditions.

Mimicry: Bedlam Birds can mimic any sound they have heard- from the voices or calls of other creatures to other sounds, such as the rasp of metal on leather or that of a bowstring being pulled back.  If you succeed on a COG save or check, you might be able to determine the sound comes from a different source.

- Let themselves be seen by children and old people who will not be believed
- Drive one insane and leave them for the others
- Maintain stealth for as long as possible
- Lie about everything
- Do anything to live
- Be horrible, horrible, horrible things

artist unknown

Friday, May 28, 2021

OSR: The Revised Rogue

So recently I came to the conclusion that I wanted my RPG system to only have 4 classes, as the idea of only having a Fighting Man, Cleric, Thief and Wizard really appealed to me.  So I have decided to do just that.  The Fighting Man, Sage, Prophet and Scoundrel are my Core classes.  All others I will be considering as Archetype classes, which are only available in some games depending on Referee approval.  The exceptions to this rule are the Gambler, John Doe, Problem and Investigator, who are the four core classes for my Urban Fantasy/Survival Horror games.

However, if I was to do this, I decided I needed to beef up the Scoundrel.  For while I did like what I had written, I felt it was too weak to really support the other classes.  Plus, the idea of the Thief/Rogue of being a cunning, but dirty fighter is a classic, even if it's a bit overdone.  So I did my best to combine the Assassin aspect of the standard Rogue with the plucky survivor of my original Scoundrel class, which you read here.

by Borja Pindado

You are a member of the underclass, or at least affiliated with the dark and seedy parts of the world.  Work with your Referee to make a place for your character, or roll on the tables below:

When was your first brush with crime?


1- I was born to it.  Your mother, father or both parents were involved in the underworld from the moment you were born.  You were born in a bad neighborhood and nutured on crime and deceit, it was your swaddling clothes and mother's milk.  You likely have a very warped moral compass and massive daddy issues.
2- When I was a child.  You suffered a tragedy when young and ended up having to survive on the streets, or were inducted into a gang when you were young.  You're a hard-bitten, scrappy survivor.
3- Recently, you suffered a sudden brush with the underworld, either because you plunged into it or because you were victimized.

Who was your Mentor?


1- A charismatic con artist.  They seem to like you, but how much can you really trust them?
2- An older man or woman you are hopelessly smitten with.  They might know and be leading you on, or they might simply not notice your feelings.
3- A kinsmen of yours.  Your brother, uncle, cousin or other family member who got into this before you, and now they're pulling you down that same path.
4- A local crime boss.  You work for the boss because 1d4 [1= You're related.  It's the family business; 2= You owe him an enormous amount of money and need to pay him back, if you don't want to have a very bloody accident; 3= He is black-mailing you using a secret from your past that you thought buried; 4= The boss helped you when no one else would.]
5- A fellow outcast.  You never quite fit in, and neither did he.  As such, he has taken you under his wing, to try and protect you, to show you what it took him many painful years to learn.
6- A kindred spirit.  Something about you strikes a cord with your Mentor, who sees a younger version of himself in you.  He feels a unique connection to you and wants to guide and shape you into something better than what he is.

What do you owe them?


1- Everything.  Your Mentor saved your life, literally or metaphorically.  When the world crashed down on you, they dug you out and helped you get back on your feet.
2- A great debt.  Your Mentor did you a great service and you feel pressured to do something to pay them back.
3- A fresh start.  You promised you would help your Mentor start over, start fresh, but only once he's had his fill.
4- Nothing, but you don't feel that way.  Your Mentor made it very clear that he helped you on a whim because he chose to, and not because he wants anything from you.  But even so, you still likely feel inclined to help him.

What can your Mentor do for you?   


1- He's an excellent safe-cracker and is good at disabling traps and other security devices.
2- He is strong and works as muscle for a gang, or he knows someone who is.
3- He's silver-tongued, able to get information out of people, or she's a femme fatale able to seduce her way to any secret.
4- He's a semi-famous and highly skilled highwayman or other form of robber.
5- He's an excellent burglar, able to easily break into most places and escape without being seen.
6- He's an assassin, a highly proficient one.
7- He's a smuggler, able to sneak in illegal goods and smuggle out other sensitive cargo.
8- He's an information broker and a whisper-monger, with ears everywhere.  His sources are very reliable and he'll share what they say, for a price. 

What are you after?


1- Money.  Maybe you want the money because it's the only way the girl you love will ever notice you, or maybe you feel it's the only thing that can protect you, or maybe you're just greedy.
2- You want to be famous.  One day, people are going to tell stories about how smart, how cunning and how awesome you were.  You're going to carve your name into history.
3- You want to show them all.  Those people who rejected you, who laughed at you, who tormented you, you'll prove that they were just a bunch of phonies and failures, you'll become greater than they ever were. 
4- Daddy's love.  You want to make your Father (or Father figure) love you, as he's regarded you as a failure your whole life.

by Francisco Vasquez

Starting HP: 1/3 Con
Fighting Spirit: +1 per Scoundrel level, up to COG score
Starting Equipment: Knife, clothing appropriate to your level and station, a foppish, extravagent outfit or fake creditentials, loaded dice or thieves' tools, home-made map covered in shorthand only you and select others can understand


Criminal Encyclopedia: You grew up around crime and criminal activity, and thus know it pretty well.  You automatically know anything someone raised in a rough neighborhood would know, such as local gangs and rackets, crime bosses, how to steal a coin-purse without getting stabbed, etc.  Most of this knowledge is automatic, so if the Thief is about to do something dumb, you (the Referee) should tell them about the mistake they're about to make.  Additionally, unless failing to know something might have dramatic consequences or there's no way the Scoundrel could know, answer any questions the Scoundrel might have on criminality.  If in doubt though, call for a check.

Sense Motive: When in conversation with someone, you can make a check to determine someone's motivation while talking to them.  Creatures can try to resist you if they're trying to deceive or conceal their true intentions, but unless they're trying to do that, they likely will not.  However, just because someone's being honest doesn't mean you can understand them.  Potential motivations can include, but are not limited to, things like "Honor", "Greed", "Pride" or "Fear".


Dirty Fighter: If you use a dishonorable tactic or a dirty trick against an opponent, you gain advantage on your next attack against that specific creature and that creature gains disadvantage on it's next attack.  A dirty tactic is anything that would be considered not within the bounds of fair play, such as throwing sand in an opponent's face, tackling someone and covering his face with a bag, dropping a chandelier on his head, etc.  Referee's Discretion applies on whether something counts as a "dishonorable tactic or dirty trick".


Fast Hands: When you attack an enemy and successfully hit them, you can, instead of dealing damage, do something else to them, such as pick-pocket them, cut their sword-belt so they drop their sword, or plant something on them.  However, this does not work on something someone is actively protecting.  For example, if they are currently tightly holding onto something, Fast Hands could not take it from them.  But if it was hanging from their belt, it could.  When in doubt, the enemy gets a saving throw.  On a success, the Thief cannot do what they asked.


Sneak Attack: When attacking an enemy that cannot see or detect you, or is otherwise not expecting you to attack them, you have advantage on your attack roll.  Additionally, you may roll your damage di(c)e twice and select the better result.


Great Escape: You are slippery like an eel.  If you can think of no way out of situation, no clever way to escape the clutches of a foe, 1/Day your criminal mind can suddenly reveal an escape route.  The Referee should immediately point out a weak-point in the enemy's defenses, a potential chink in the armor, or some other vulnerability you overlooked.

Note to the Referee: This is not where you just let the players go.  All you should do is tell the players about a weak point and give them an escape route.


Fog of War: When in combat or in a chaotic situation, such as an evacuation, a housefire or a riot, you can vanish into the background and re-enter stealth.  You do this by making a COG or DEX check as an action.  You will be swiftly discovered if any creature is specifically paying attention to you, though unless that creature can alert others in some obvious way (such as with a warhorn or has a really loud voice) then you can still hide from other creatures.  In more general situations, you may receive penalties to your check based on how chaotic the scene is or how observant the enemies are.  Similarly, you may receive bonuses to your save if something important or eye-catching is occurring around you, or the situation is especially chaotic.

If you successfully re-enter stealth, you cannot be targeted by any enemy that does not succeed against you in a Contest (his COG vs your COG/DEX).  Enemies that cannot see you are also valid targets for 'Sneak Attack'.


Master of Disguise: You can disguise yourself as a person you have seen before, as long as you have sufficient materials for a disguise.  You can also choose to disguise yourself as a more general type of person, such as a servant in a specific household or a household guard.  When you attempt to disguise yourself, roll 1d20 and add your COG modifier.  This is the DC for any creature that attempts to see through your disguise.  If they see through it, they will recognize you are not who you appear to be.  However, creatures who have no reason to assume you are not who you say you are will usually not check, unless you are attempting to infiltrate a high-security or especially important area.

You can receive penalties to your disguise check if you are not the same sex or race of the creature you are attempting to imitate, or if you are an unconventional race (in general or in that area).  A Deerling does not stand out much in some parts of the Equatorial lands, but is very noticeable in some of the small towns, never mind distant foreign lands.  You can also receive bonuses to your check if you have props or other items to bolster your disguise, such as when you pretend to the Governor of a distant province to enter an exclusive party and you have his invitation to prove that you are supposed to be here. 


Danger Sense: Your instincts are so finely honed that you have an almost preternatural sense of self-preservation, allowing you to detect danger before it attacks.  If you are ever in a situation and you do not feel insecure, you can tell the Referee that you'd like to make a save.  On a successful save, you can observe any of the places where you might be ambushed, potential enemies nearby or other dangers around you. 

Additionally, if you're about to blunder into a trap or an ambush, the Referee may call for you to save, if you could somehow detect something is not quite right.  On a successful save, you are made aware of any potential observable danger.

For example, if our Scoundrel uses this ability while the party is crossing through a Bazaar, he might notice the man and woman who are pretending to browse and not to be watching them and suspect them to be members of the secret police or agents hired by one of the party's enemies.  Or if the party is about to blunder into an ambush, the Scoundrel could use this ability and recognize that the narrow bridge ahead of them is the perfect place for a nasty trap, or an ambush.      


One Last Job: If you are ever trapped in a desperate situation with no way out, Once and only Once, you can suddenly reveal how this was all according to your unforeseen master plan.  Suddenly the tables turn in your favor, and your comrades achieve victory, but your fate is left ambiguous, such as you were last seen wrestling Moriarty and tumbling off a ledge, or you were accidentally shot by your own allies at the last second, or something equally tragic.  However, there is no chance this actually killed you, and you'll be back.

by Patrick Shoenmaker

Sunday, May 23, 2021

OSR: d20 Magic Arrows


from Genshin Impact
You can find more magic arrows here and additional ideas here.  

Magical Arrows are lesser magic items, comparable more to potions than any other magic item.  They can be created by certain magical creatures or by Sages with knowledge of how to do so.  You can also find them as treasure or taken them off enemies.   

Magical Arrows are usually found together in bunches of 1d4+1.

The magic imbued into them is expended once used.  Even if you retrieve the arrow, it is just a normal arrow now, with the exception of Mage's Arrows- though Mage's Arrows are often destroyed by the effects they cause (Referee's Discretion). 

1- Arrow of Woodheart.  Upon striking a creature, the arrow forces that creature to save.  On a failed save, that creature turns into a beautifully detailed wooden carving.  On a successful save, the creature instead takes 2d6 damage.  Creatures with 5 or more HD have advantage on their saves.
2- Arrow of Zombie.   If anyone is killed by one of these arrows, they become an Undead with HD equal to what they had while alive.  If stabbed into a corpse, it raises the corpse as a 1 HD Undead.  Undead created by these arrows serve you for 1d6 days, then are unbound and free to do as they wish.
3- Ballista Arrows.  These arrows grow as they fly, until they are the size of ballista bolts.  They do 3d6 damage on a hit which ignores armor, but creatures can save to take half damage.  Medium or smaller creatures with 15(+1) or higher DEX instead take no damage on a successful save.   These arrows do double damage to structures. 
4- Rope arrows.  When these arrows hit a creature, they do no damage, but instead transform into ropes that hog-tie the creature.  That creature can either break free with a successful DC 16 STR check or the ropes can be cut as an action by another creature.
5- Screaming Arrows.  Scream when fired and when they hit someone.  Not loud enough to hurt but loud enough to break concentration on spells and grant disadvantage on any checks requiring concentration.  They are also barbed so pulling them out will leave a persistent wound that does 1d4 damage when removed and then per round until an action is taken to staunch the bleeding. The arrow continues screaming for 1 hour or until it is broken.
6- Arrow of Sunfire.  When it hits a target, it explodes in a flash of blinding natural sunlight.  This causes all creatures within 50' to take 1d6 radiant damage and to make a save vs blindness, with those who fail their saves being blinded for 10 minutes-CON modifier minutes.  Undead take 2d6 damage and must instead save vs fear when hit by the wave of sunlight.  Frightened Undead will immediately flee from the archer and continue running until out of sight or range.
7- Arrow of Wasting*.  Creatures struck by this take 1d6 CON damage and have disadvantage on STR and CON checks/saves for 1 day.  If this CON damage reduces a creature to 0 CON, that creature sickens and dies. 
8- Arrow of Love.  Before you use this arrow, you are advised to take a hair from a specific living creature and wind it around the shaft, or dip it in the blood of a living creature.  Creatures struck by this arrow must save- those who fail their save will immediately be infatuated with the creature who's blood stained the tip or who's hair was wrapped around the shaft of the arrow.  The affected creature will abandon their current project at the earliest possible opportunity to track down the object of his affections.  These passionate feelings last for 1d4 weeks, after which the haze of pheremones wears off and the honeymoon ends.  Creatures who pass their saves will be overcome with a sudden melancholy, and feel the need to re-examine their current choices, rerolling reaction dice against you.    
9- Wolfsoul Arrow.  Any creature struck by this arrow must save or believe it is a wolf.  The creature loses all functions of the higher mind and begins to behave as if it is a feral beast.  This creature's desires and personality remain the same, but it's intelligence is reduced to that of a dim beast.  If the creature passes his save, it instead takes 1d6 psychic damage that ignores non-magical and non-specialist armor. 
10- Mage's Arrow.  An arrow that can be loaded with a spell and infused with up to 4 MD.  Any MD infused into the arrow are automatically expended.  Upon impact, the spell loaded into the arrow is automatically cast as if the caster was standing where the arrow landed. 
11- Bloody Arrow.  An arrow that, upon impact, forces a creature to save.  On a failed save, the creatures starts bleeding profusely and gains the Bleeding Out condition.  Creatures below half HP make this save with disadvantage.  Creatures who pass their save instead take +1d6 sharp damage. 
12- Serpent's Arrow.  An arrow that, upon impact, transforms into a snake that obeys the person who fired it.  The snakes know no fear and will fight to the death without hesitation.  If killed, the snakes transform into clay figurines in the shape of serpents.  All serpents have 1 HD, No Armor, and make 1 1d6 bite attack.  Most are venomous- this serpent's venom is 1d4 [1= Paralytic venom that does 1d6 DEX damage, if this reduces a creature's DEX to 0 it cannot move and is paralyzed; 2= Induces horrible pain- the creature takes 1d6 Morale damage per bite.  If this reduces the creature's Morale to 0 it becomes frightened and flees from the snake; 3= Does 1d6 poison damage a round (max 3d6) until the creature bitten successfully saves against poison; 4= Forces an immediate save vs death - creatures with more HD than the damage rolled by the snake's bite attack make their saves with advantage.]
13- Arrow of Slaying**.  This arrow is designed to slay a specific creature or a specific type of creature.  A creature of that relevant type, upon being hit by an arrow of slaying, must save vs death.  On a successful save, the creature takes +2d6 sharp damage instead.  Creatures who are not the same type as the Arrow of Slaying is intended for are unaffected by it's magic, treating it as a normal arrow.  Example Arrows of Slaying include 1d8 [1= Arrow of Undead Slaying; 2= Arrow of Dragon Slaying; 3= Arrow of King Slaying; 4= Arrow of Traitor Slaying; 5= Arrow of Thief Slaying; 6= Arrow of Loxodon Slaying; 7= Arrow of Man Slaying (man here meaning 'Males'); 8= Arrow of Jon the Redeemer Slaying (Jon the Redeemer is a Secret Master of the Minions of the Dark Powers, an infamous archvillain).]    
14- Ghost's Arrow.  These arrows are actually immaterial and can only be touched or seen by creatures with souls.  They cannot harm Constructs, non-magical items or other items or creatures without souls.  These arrows ignore non-magical and non-specialist armor and do psychic damage.
15- Ricochet Arrow.  These arrows are imbued with an impossible flexibility.  If such an arrow misses because of a parry or because all the damage is absorbed by a creature's armor, it bounces off and you can attempt an attack roll with it again next round.  These arrows also bounce off solid surfaces, so you can use them to shoot around corners, hit enemies in the back and other fancy trick shots by bouncing them off shields, walls and other hard surfaces. 
16- Seafoam Arrows.  Any creature struck by this arrow must save.  On a failure, that creature and all their equipment is turned into seafoam for 1 hour.  After the time is up, the creature reforms, no worse for wear, wherever the foam that comprised his body ended up.  Creatures who pass their saves instead have their mouthes filled with salt water and lose their next action vomiting it up.
17- Beast Arrows***.  These arrows, upon impact, transform into a beast.  This beast is a normal beast and is not inherently loyal to you, and is quite angry from being stuck in an Arrow for a long period of time.  This arrow contains a 1d6 [1= Wardog; 2= Feral Cat; 3= Chimpanzee; 4= Wolf; 5= Wild Horse; 6= Wyvern.]
18- Acorn Arrows.  These arrows, upon impact, cause a tree to immediately sprout from the point of impact and experience 1d6+2 years of growth rapidly.  If impaled in a creature, this can force a save vs death (Referee's Discretion).   
19- Explosive Arrow.  An arrow that, upon impact, begins glowing.  After 1 round on the archer's next turn it explodes, dealing 3d6 explosive damage that ignores non-magical and non-specialist armor, save for half.  This explosive charge is strong enough to blow holes in castle walls, collapse cave entrances and destroy other such objects.   
20- Rust Arrows.  An arrow that, if it strikes a metal object, infects the metal with rust, causing it to take 1d6 damage a round if a large object or if Armor, reduces the AR of said Armor by 1 per round.  Any object reduced to 0 HP or AR is destroyed.  This rusting ability cannot affect enchanted metal.  The only way to prevent this rust from spreading is to splash the affected area with acid to burn away the rust, then dilute the acid with a large amount of water or neutralize it with a base.   

from Pixiv, by 36518095
*If a creature's ability scores are not specifically listed, any relevant ability score it has is equal to 1d6+HD. 

**Unlike other magical arrows, when you find a trove of some Arrows of Slaying, they might not all necessarily be of the same kind.  The cache you discover might include an Arrow of Orc Slaying, 2 Arrows of Werewolf Slaying and an Arrow of Wife Slaying.

***As above for Beast Arrows.  You might find a trove of Beast Arrow that contains a Giant Rat, a hawk and an pot-bellied pig in the same quiver.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

OSR: Yugoloths: Sumhigh Squad


from D&D 4E

Other Yugoloths:
Shiver Squad: Shock Troops
Gelid Squad: Silk-workers, infiltrators and spies
Bluster Platoon: Magical powerhouses, negotiators and administrators
Vernal Company: Amphibious Light Infantry
Floral Squad: Magically gifted Lordlings rejected by their peers

Joyful Janet was a member of the Sewing Circle, but unlike all the others, she was an Annis Hag.  As she was never a normal sorcereress, there were those who considered more of a pet or a nuisance than a proper member.  She was tolerated, but few of the others even pretended to like her, much less care about her opinions.  There was even some debate over whether or not she should be allowed to bear a litter of Yugoloths.  Fortunately, that decision wasn't in the hands of the Circle, but their benefactor.  This engendered quite a lot of bitterness, but that was mostly alleviated when Janet gave birth to a shower of enormous maggots 10 months later. 

The Circle would have destroyed them at the moment, had it not been for the dissent of Kindy Isabella, a Night Hag of terrible power and awful glory.  Thus the disgusting little children were spared, and allowed to grow.  Soon they began to grow and grow and grow, swelling until they towered over other Yugoloths.  It was in those moments when the other Hags most regretted not disobeying Isabella and smashing those little grubs into paste. 

Sumhigh Squad is composed of 20 members.  They primarily work as heavy infantry, as their thick natural armor and powerful limbs enable them to smash formations of weaker beings with ease, and their armor protects them from most casual attacks.  That being said, they rarely fight in pitched battle unless in larger groups, as they tend to attract a lot of attention and are not strong enough that 100 men with spears could not eventually wear them down and kill them.  They are also known to work as substitutes for calvary or to exterminate the latter.  But their best and common use is as infiltrators and sappers.  Their burrowing abilities mean they are perfect for sneak attacks and subverting static defenses.   

Sumhigh Squad prefer to be paid in meat, wine and other luxuries, especially drugs.  Some of them will also accept slaves.  Others prefer jewels- despite the fact that jewels are harder to liquidate. 

Their mother, Joyful Janet is still alive and is currently working to recover her children.  Her children, though they feel some affection for her, would hate for that to occur.

Their Book is lost but there is ample evidence to suggest that the Dhergoloths hid it in a ruin somewhere in the White Chalk Desert, in the hopes that no one would ever find it.  There are multiple concerned parties, including their mother, scouring the desert in search of that hiding place.   

Base Dhergoloth Statblock:
HD 4
AR 3 [Natural Armor]
Atk Claw (1d6/1d6/1d6) or Weapon (1d10/1d10)
Mor 14
Saves 11 or less
Immune to Poison and Poison Damage
Resistant to Fire and Psychic Damage

Telepathic: Dhergoloths can communicate telepathically with any creature they can see, or have previously made contact with, as long as that creature is still within 100'.  They can also use their telepathy to send disturbing images or creepy messages to people, sometimes to frighten them but just as often for their own juvenile amusement. 

Burrower: Dhergoloths can dig through earth at preternatural speed, tunneling through earth at a rate of 30' per round and through sand at a rate of 60' per round.  They can choose to dig a tunnel and leave it open behind them, or leave no tunnel behind them. 

Claw Vortex: As an action, a Dhergoloth can rotate it's body in a storm of flashing claws.  This does 2d6 damage to all creatures within melee range.  This attack also grants the Dhergoloth +4 AR when it is spinning and can deflect projectile attacks.  Additionally, any creature that takes more than 5 damage from this attack must save or be knocked 10' backwards and prone.  Dhergoloths can only use this ability once every 1d4 rounds.

Disembowelment: If a Dhergoloth successfully grapples a creature, it can make two claw attacks against that creature as a free action.

Reinforcements: Dhergoloths have a 50% of being able to summon another Dhergoloth or a 10-20% of being able to summon a Yugoloth from another unit, depending on the unit. 

- Use Telepathy to scare and mislead foes
- Use burrowing to sneak up onto opponents, ambush them
- Grapple vulnerable creatures and rip their guts out
- Use Claw Vortex to escape or defeat groups of weak opponents

Dhergoloths resemble ten foot tall Beetles covered in a shiny black exoskeleton.  They have shiny black carapaces and six limbs, all tipped in gleaming claws.  They have glittering compound eyes and clicking mandibles, but ape-like teeth behind them.  They can stand on two legs but prefer to walk like chimpanzees, leaning on their middle set of limbs.  Their bodies are segmented and incredibly flexible, allowing them to turn 360 degrees without hurting themselves.    

Dhergoloths do occasionally use weapons, preferring long tridents, spears or polearms, but also occasionally curved swords and powerful bows.  Their deadliest weapons are actually their natural ones, namely the razor claws tipping every finger on their hand.  They rarely wear armor of any sort, sometimes they will carry shields if they feel a situation is gravely dangerous, but they usually have no need for such weapons, their chitin plates deflecting or blunting most attacks better than any manufactured armor.

by John Silva

Mental Faculties and Temperment:

Dhergoloths are not the smartest creatures out there.  They are not stupid, but they lack a certain mental sharpness that most intelligent beings have.  They are common in intellect, but prone to impatience and not being able to figure out certain difficult things.  Puzzles and riddles confound them and open-ended solutions are frustrating.  That being said, they do possess a certain animal cunning that enables them to produce clever results when least expected.  They are also extremely good at certain types of thinking. 

A Dhergoloth could never do any math that would require counting past it's 24 claws, but if you showed them a diagram of a fortress and explained the various defenses, they could easily describe a dozen access points.  They function best with limited problems within a set of pre-defined parameters.  They are also very good at spatial thinking and tend to have strange but inconsistent webs of knowledge.  A Dhergoloth could tell you how to make steel and cast bronze, but couldn't tell you anything about a poem beyond "It sounds pretty".  They also tend to be extremely bad in social situations, having almost no ability to read social cues.  They often offend people, usually by accident. 

In terms of temperment, Dhergoloths are usually cruel and greedy, characterized by their lack of concern for non-Yugoloths, which they usually regard as replaceable or worthless, depending on how annoying those creatures are.  They usually do value some Yugoloths, but do not treat them all equally.  Some other groups are full of useful individuals, while others are just pointless.  They have a strong rivalry with Shiver Squad and try to fill the same role as them sometimes, but are never quite as successful.  

They also regard some of the other smaller squads as pointless.  This is sort of true of Gelid Squad as well, with many of the Dhergoloths wishing that the members of that Squad would quit being soldiers and be their brides instead. This is not an opinion exclusive to Sumhigh Squad, though they are the most vocal about it.

The one exception to this is other members of Sumhigh Squad.  All Dhergoloths regard each other as kin, and have mostly positive feelings toward each other.  Should a Dhergoloth call for aid, it is very likely that another is going to respond.

However, this carelessness with the lives of others ends when a Dhergoloth is appointed to command a number of creatures.  When this happens, the value of those creatures dramatically rises in the mind of the Dhergoloth, who will then treat those creature as it's property/younger siblings.  While this does usually make a Dhergoloth care more from these creatures, it doesn't necessarily make it less cruel.  As a creature raised by a Hag, Dhergoloths do not really know how to lead without using fear or threats of violence, so Dhergoloths usually keep their subordinates in line through acts of random violence, threats and displays of dominance.  

But usually on some level, they do actually care about the creatures under their command and will do their best to protect them.  They will not die for them, but they will often go to great lengths to protect and guide them.  The best reference is that of an abusive father, he does actually love his children, at least a bit, but when he is angry with them he has no trouble hurting them emotionally or even physically.

What Dhergoloth do you run into?


1- Yug.  True Name: Artax.  Travels with a group of amateur teenage adventurers who alternate between cringy romantic drama and murderhobo antics.  He's pretending to be dumber than he actually is and secretly thinks of them as his rascally children.  He is recognized by the broad-brimmed hat and custom floral robes he wears, both of which he discards before fighting.
2- Slice.  True Name: Geova.  A murderer who likes killing defenseless men.  He lies in wait, then when he finds a lone traveler or someone that looks vulnerable he springs out and murders them.  He is an opportunistic killer who strikes his opponents fast and hard.  He flees from his victims if they're able to put up any form of threat.  He is unwilling to hurt women and children, and spares them, only hurting them if absolutely necessary.
3- Blocks.  True Name: Ruli.  Travels with a group of mercenaries who are skilled in taking walled cities and fortresses.  Their success is largely due to their weapon, him.  Blocks is highly knowledgeable in construction techniques and is able to determine where best to tunnel under walls to weaken them, and sometimes infiltrates fortresses by himself to stealthily kill the guards and open the gates under the dark of night.  Blocks is not evil, but he is aggressively amoral and loves his comrades, who treat him halfway between a mascot and a spirit they must appease with gifts of meat and confections.
4- Delficar.  True Name: Bya.  Delficar is a gifted sibling, gifted with the magical power to move matter with his mind (Telekinesis - with a mental "strength" of 13(+1)).  He has also been cursed with visions of the future.  Due to his pessimistic outlook, all his visions are gloomy or interpreted as omens of doom.  He lives alone in the mountains, but a cult has still managed to develop around him, which reveres him as a pseudo-benevolent spirit.  They leave offerings for him and occasionally climb the mountains to try and find him, to consult with him on the future.  He cannot always avoid them, but hasn't the heart to crush them either. 
5- Hawk.  True Name: Dohaz.  Hawk acts as the muscle for a Chaos Cult which works to overthrow their government and bring about the glorious future utopia.  He doesn't really understand their ideology except in the broadest terms, and is mostly following them because of the charisma of their Red Ruler than leads the cult.  He helps the cultists break into secure areas, covers their retreat and when subtlety is unnecessary, the cultists paint in red and cover his shell in glyphs indicating his allegiance to Chaos. 
6- Shelly.  True Name: Yula.  Shelly is part pet/part concubine to a Blackstar who serves the Dark Powers.  They are both part of a Minion cell that disguises itself as a caravan of nomads who travel from place to place, looking for a homeland of their own.  She doesn't really understand why he is so resentful, but believes him when he says that the world is evil and that she should just trust him to make all the decisions.  Her husband might even actually love her, or he might just be manipulating her.  They have three monstrous children, who Shelly would die for.  She might die for her husband too, but only if she was confident the children would be well cared for.  She will take revenge on anyone who harms her family.
7- Isa.  True Name: Beneni.  Isa is a wandering mercenary who pretends to be an ordinary giant insect mount.  Her rider is a madwoman who believes a number of outlandish things, such as the fact that the rulers of her land are controlled by demons, that the brothel she was previously enslaved at is actually the meeting place for spies, that the King's advisor is actually a monster in disguise and the giant beetle she rides around on can talk.  Isa uses her rider to gain contracts and then after letting the madwoman negotiate a small price, steals money from her employers when no one is looking.  She is probably going to be discovered eventually, but so far, no one has figured out it is the "horse" of the Mad Lady.
8- Bulger.  True Name: Yasahi.  Bulger is a happily married man, and his wife is a monstrous Ogress who loves him in her own strange way.  They got married recently and spent their honeymoon pillaging and looting.  Unfortunately, and unknown to them, they kidnapped an agent of a powerful local, who might actually be a monster and/or have sinister ulterior motives.  That person has promised a large reward to whoever can find his missing man (and the other captives, of course).  

by Yuuki Morita

Notable Members:   

Verzan the Breaker.

True Name: Herat

Herat is widely considered to be the strongest member of Sumhigh Squad.  If they had a leader, it would likely be him.  Luckily for the rest of the squad, Verzan is a wise and mostly benevolent leader who has no real desire to dominate his brethren.  He himself is only interested in studying martial arts and finding strong opponents to test himself against. 

He is currently traveling with a disguised Orc and an Adventurer who is possessed by a Demon.  The Demon and the Orc are unaware of each other and are only concerned about tricking Verzan.  They are traveling North into the lands of the Handsome Men, where they plan to assassinate one of that land's Princes and start a war with the Orzanian Empire to the South.  The Demon has some ulterior motive, planning to use the war to cover up another scheme while the Orc and Verzan are just there to test their skills on the Prince and his elite bodyguards respectively.

Verzan has already figured out that his companions are not what they appear, but he is pretending to be dumb and keeping quiet.  The second they prove to be too much trouble for him, he plans to abandon them.  Secretly, he has been hired by a rival Handsome Man Prince to steal an artifact that the party's common target has in his possession. 

Verzan loves a good fight.  When he could avoid a strong opponent, unless he fears for his life, he will challenge that opponent head-on, rather than evade them. 

Statblock Changes:

Martial Arts: Drunken Boxing: Verzan is an Expert in the Fist Art of Drunken Boxing

Goti the Poet.

True Name: Bizozo

Goti is widely considered foolish by his kinsmen, a rare feat among the Dhergoloths.  He is not considered stupid or less smart than them, but is characterized by a unique and passionate breed of madness.  Goti has a great love of beauty, especially the beauty of nature.  Unlike other Dhergoloths, or even other Yugoloths, he has no appetite for gold or glory, only to indulge his hobbies of poetry writing, exploring and painting. 

He works when he has to, but spends the rest of his time producing large amounts of average quality paintings and volumes of mostly sub-par poetry.  He understands the basics, but he clearly has much more enthusiasm than talent.  He is easily offended by those who fail to acknowledge his talents.  He's not in denial about the amateur nature of his work, but those who fail to be respectful can easily themselves on his enemies list. 

Goti is aware of how most people feel about him, and thus presents himself as an artistic fop.  He is dramatic, clingy and seemingly insecure.  He adds ridiculous flourishes to his gestures and speech, and generally behaves like a weak-hearted aristocrat stranded in some terribly tacky part of town.  But this is all a facade- an exaggeration of his true personality.  For while his passions is painting and poetry, Goti is a great actor, and uses his imitation skills to pretend to be someone he is not.  His enemies never see it coming then when he reveals he is much smarter and narcissistic then he seemed to be. 

Goti is currently pretending to be the dim-witted, mute creation of a Sage's assistant.  The assistant needed to prove he was actually learning something from the Sage or was to be thrown out, but had produced nothing useful.  So when Goti discovered this fact, he came to the assistant and tricking him into believing it was a chance encounter, begged him for food.  The assistant then "convinced" Goti to pretend to be his creation.  Goti's true goal is to steal the Sage's sorcerous knowledge for a jealous rival. 

Weakness: Goti is a deceiver, and a good one.  As such, he doesn't expect to be deceived himself.  If presented with a deception, unless it is clearly incompetent, he will not see through it.

Statblock Changes:

Perceptive: Goti has an incredible talent when it comes to reading people.  He can vary easily discover what kind of person someone is just from minor clues.  When he meets a creature, have that creature roll a saving throw.  On a failed save, Goti learned 1d6 facts about that person.  Example facts could include such things as "He is married" or "She is proud and redirects her anger at herself at the world around here."  A creature who passes his save is harder to read and Goti will have to guess, but he's pretty good at that too. 

Grimm the Hollower.

True Name:

The name "Hollower" is actually a joke, and a dark one at that.  The name comes from when the Dhergoloth currently calling himself Grimm punched a fist through an Oxman's chest and tore out a handful of entrails.  "If you'd hit him any harder, you'd have hollowed him out," came the sarcastic quip from one of his brothers.  Thus, Grimm adopted the epithet, "The Hollower" and such a gruesome method of killing his speciality.

Grimm then proceeded to begin carving a path through history, starting with a local group of bandits he was hired to destroy.  But after he tore the bandit chief in half, the chief's faithful second managed to convince Grimm that he would gain more booty if joined them.  Grimm almost still killed him, but then the second told him that there would be no glory in killing him, an idea that struck home with the Dhergoloth.  So instead he took up the second on his offer and claimed the bandit gang as his followers.  From there he began a reign of terror through the river vallies and baronies of the New Kingdoms that have sprouted along the mighty Rhomidir and Gulmidor rivers.  At first his men obeyed him only out of fear, but after seeing how powerful the Dhergoloth was and the ruthless efficiency he displayed in dispatching his enemies, they began to take fierce pride in their commander.  They call him "Lord Hollower", "The Emptier" or "Lord Beetle".  These names have become infamous in the regions he preys on, names that send cold chills down the spines of merchants and travelers alike.

Grimm has gained quite a following since those early days, with his small band of brigands having swelled into a warband of several hundred, divided into smaller raiding parties scattered across the region.  He has also begun to attract the attention of monsters, who have come to test his strength and to lend their aid respectively.  If Grimm's warband continues to grow as it does, he will soon be able to do more than attack merchant caravans and shake-down nobles on their palanquins and in their wheel-houses, but he will be able to threaten their cities and swallow up their towns. 

Luckily for everyone involved, Grimm has not grown so greedy as to attempt to swallow an entire town yet.  But at this rate, it's only a matter of time.

Weakness: Grimm is a glory-hound.  He wants to be remembered forever, whether as the hero or the terrible villain it matters not.  As such, he is dramatic and has a great sense of drama.  He doesn't always make the smartest decisions, because he wants others to spread his legend and to think of him.  Additionally, he's vain and vulnerable to flattery.

Statblock Changes:     

Bone-Breaker: Grimm is much stronger than a normal Dhergoloth, able to break bones and tear limbs off.  As an action, he can make a single melee attack against a target creature.  That creature must save or have a bone broken.  Creatures with armor make the save with advantage, creatures with shields are immune, instead saving to see if their shield breaks under the force of the blow.  To see what bone he broke, roll on the following table: He broke your 1dX [1= Finger; 2= Hand; 3= Arm; 4= Ribs; 5= Collarbone; 6= Leg.]  See the Horrible Wounds Scar Tables for the effects of such a broken bone.

Rip and Tear: Grimm can rip creature's limbs off if he gets his hands on them.  If he grappling a creature, Grimm can force that creature to make a STR contest against him.  He can do this each round.  Each round he wins the contest, that creature takes 1d8 STR damage.  If this damage ever equals or exceeds the creature's STR score, Grimm can tear off one of the creature's limbs.  Consult the Horrible Wounds Scar Tables for the effects of such a loss.  If by contrast the creature he is forcing to compete against him wins the STR contest, that creature has advantage the next time it attempts to break his grapple. 

Sumhigh Squad Plot Hooks:


1- A group of mercenaries have been rampaging through the countryside, sacking enemy towns and destroying border forts.  No fortification or defenses seem able to stop them.  Find out how they can defeat the walls of cities and fortresses and then put a stop to them.  Secretly, it is because of the trio of Dhergoloths the mercenaries have brought along.  The Dhergoloths might be convinced to break their contract with the mercenaries, or you could just kill them.
2- The party comes across a merchant lying injured in the road next to a wrecked carriage.  He says that as he was traveling, his chief guard suddenly went mad and fled with his daughter, running into the wilderness.  When the other guards and the merchants tried to stop him, he attacked them.  Return her safely and he will reward you.  Secretly, the guard's madness is actually a deception perpetrated by a Dhergoloth, which used it's telepathic powers to convince the guard that it was a benevolent spirit and the merchant was actually an evil cultist who was going to sacrifice his daughter to some blasphemous God.  When you arrive, you will find the Dhergoloth struggling to retrieve the girl without hurting her, as it needs her undamaged for the most money in the ransom.  But the chief guard is actually sane and obviously refuses to let any giant bug monster near his charge. 
3- The local shrine to the King of Insects has invaded several nights in a row by a rude Beetle Spirit.  The locals want you to scare the Spirit away without hurting it, as it might be sacred to the Insect King.  When you arrive you will find that the Beetle Spirit is actually a Dhergoloth and it is researching the King of Insects, as he wishes to woo one a Mantis Maid, one of the servants of that King, but so far she has rebuffed his advances.  You can help him with his romance, or find some other way to get rid of him. 
4- The party needs to get into a highly secure location, but there are no weak spots to exploit.  But then one of them hears about the Dhergoloths, which are excellent at smash-and-grab operations, as well as infiltration.  But can the party pull off a difficult heist while managing a slow-witted Yugoloth and more to the point, can they trust the Dhergoloth not to betray them?            

by Howard Hsu