Thursday, May 6, 2021

OSR: Rakshasha

 

artist unknown
Not all mortals are equal.  They range wildly from great and small, proud and humble to lowly and mighty. 

All mortals share two qualities, from the strongest to the weakest of their kind.  All mortals fear death and dream of immortality.  All mortals hope that they will live forever and will be able to escape from the jaws and snares of death.  Sadly, for the incalculable multitudes, few have managed this feat.

The options of how to do so are secret and rare, foolish to attempt and dangerous to practice.  Lichdom guarantees everlasting life, but one dulled and robbed of the genuine joys of life.  Daemonhood will let you dwell amidst the stars with the everlasting ones, in exchange for everything that makes you human. 

The most common way to escape death is to die, over and over again.  If one possesses the ability to craft new bodies for himself, then all you need do is evade Death and his minions long enough for your new body to be constructed.  Then you will rise and live again. 

But those who choose this latter option are not the only fugitives from death.  The souls of the dead are known to be allowed to return to Earth on certain days of the year, and sometimes they are permitted to return at other times, as long as the appropriate paperwork has been filed and they passed through customs.  These souls are known to return to their homes to see how their family is doing or who is living in their house, or to return to see if anyone still remembers them.  Artistic souls return and try to find out if anyone still appreciates their work, while warriors come to investigate the old battlefields and eavesdrop on living generals planning a new offensive. 

And while many return, some overstay their allotted time and have to be dragged back by heavenly bounty-hunters and other spirits contracted to capture and return stragglers and escapees.  But the most tricky ones to capture are not those who overstay their welcome or attempt to escape from Sheol, but those who never passed through customs to begin with.

I am Rakshasha:


Mortals that dwelt with demons or other evil spirits usually have to face these spirits upon their deaths.  Sometimes the demons are just there to gloat, to sneer at the mortal and claim their final victory over the mortal.  Other times, they come to take revenge and drag the mortal down into Sheol, where the demon can torture them forever, or at least, for an eon.  But other times, they come to mortals and present a bargain.  Service and in exchange, life.

Most don't take the deal- they know the demon has them over the barrel and may feel that whatever waits beyond the gates of the underworld is better than slavery to such a wicked creature.  But those consumed by the fear of what awaits them or those in the thrall of rapacious passions, obsessed with the idea of domination, corruption and destruction, to them such an offer is too good to be true.  They say yes.  And once they have served the demon, they are reborn as Rakshasha.

artist unknown
Rakshasha
SHP 1d4+4
AR varies, see below
Atk varies, see below
Mor 15
Saves (7+SHP) or less
Resistance to bludgeoning and sharp damage from non-magical weapons

Damage Threshold: All Rakshasha have a Damage Threshold equal to the number of SHP (Super Hit Points) they have.  If a source of damage does not equal or exceed their Damage Threshold, treat the attack as if it took no damage.  If a source of damage equals or exceeds the Rakshasha's damage threshold, it takes 1 SHP of damage.  When it loses all of it's Super Hit Points, it dies.   

Magic Resistance: Rakshasha have advantage on all saves against magical abilities and spells, as well as anything else the referee would consider "Magic".

Specific Death Condition: All Rakshashas have a specific death Condition.  Unless a Rakshasha is killed in a specific way, they will return to life after some time.  To determine what this condition is and how long it takes for the Rakshasha to return to life, roll on the table below.

Shapeshifter: Rakshasha can alter their appearance as an action, taking on any humanoid form the Rakshasha has seen or can imagine.  The Rakshasha can mimic someone's appearance, but prefers to take on a guise that is unique and suits it's own sensibilities.  No matter what form it is in, the Rakshasha's stats do not change.

Tactics:
- Depends on the type of Rakshasha

To customize a Rakshasha, roll on the tables below:

This Rakshasha fights with...

1d4

1- A masterwork weapon.  This weapon is a 2d6+1 rapier and the Rakshasha can make 2 attacks with it.
2- A magic weapon.  The weapon is an iron staff that is imbued with the power of Chaos.  The staff can (1/Day) turn any non-magical, non-living object into a 1d6 [1= Snake that obeys no one- venom is 2d6 poison damage, save for half; 2= A sphere of ball lightning that strikes the first creature it touches, doing 1d6 lightning damage; 3= A tiny construct that runs around breaking stuff and causing mischief, it dies after 1d10 minutes or when destroyed; 4= A swarm of scorpions that obey no one; 5= It makes the object glow red then explode in a 2d6 fireball after 1 round; 6= raw beef.]  By itself the staff does 1d6 magical bludgeoning damage and the Rakshasha can make three attacks, each one doing 1d6+2 damage.
3- Barehanded, the Rakshasha knows one of the Fist Arts.  The Rakshasha is a(n) 1d3 [1= Journeyman; 2= Expert; 3= Novice of 1d3 Fist Arts] in his chosen Art(s).  The Rakshasha can make 3 1d6 unarmed attacks or 2 1d8 unarmed attacks.  The Rakshasha adds his STR modifier to the damage done by these strikes.
4- Barehanded, the Rakshasha's transformation gave it great strength and power.  It needs nothing to but bare hands to beat you to death with.  The Rakshasha's unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage and he has a STR of 18(+3), so he makes two 1d8+3 attacks.

It is protected by...

1d4

1- An ordinary chain shirt.  This grants it +1 AR.  It is also concealable under regular armor or clothes. 
2- A shield.  The Rakshasha's servants constantly carry one with it.  Grants +1 AR plus a variety of bonuses to various saves, see here.
3- A magical amulet.  This Amulet gives the Rakshasha 10 temporary HP in the form of a magical shield.  This shield replenishes itself on a roll of a 5-6 and the Rakshasha can roll 1d6 each round on his or her turn.
4- A magic ring.  The ring can, for X minutes per day, create the impression that you are just slightly left or right than you actually are, giving all attack rolls a -1d4 penalty to hit.  The ring's effects lasts for a number of minutes equal to the user's CHA modifier and can be switched on or off at will. 

How can it die?

This Rakshasha's specific death condition is...

1d8

1- Death by impalement.
2- Death by burning/fire.
3- Death by decapitation.
4- Death by having its heart cut out.
5- Death by being drowned.
6- Death by being buried alive.
7- Death by being poisoned.
8- Death by dismemberment.

What happens if it doesn't die that way*?

The Rakshasha returns to life after...

1d6

1- 1d6+3 months
2- 1 year
3- 1d6 years
4- 1d10 years
5- 1d20 years
6- 1d20+10

It returns to life by...

1d4

1- A woman gets pregnant, even if she takes precautions, is too old, or is infertile.  The pregnancy goes much faster than normal, lasting only a couple of months to a week.  The child that is born is a miniature Rakshasha.  The child swiftly grows to maturity, then abandons its mother and returns to its scheme.
2- The Rakshasha's corpse or tomb is struck by lightning and regenerated back to perfect health.  The Rakshasha rises from the grave, reborn.
3- The Rakshasha possesses a living person who has been marked by the Rakshasha.  The person's soul is parasitized and eventually, overcome as the Rakshasha dominates it and eventually subsumes it into itself or drains it of all Vita and then expels it from the body
4- The Rakshasha has a supply of spare bodies concealed somewhere in the world.  The Rakshasha's soul is released from service and it returns to possess one of these bodies. 

*Rakshasha know that they will only die for good if killed in a specific way, and they know how that is.  Thus, while death is an inconvenience, Rakshasha might let themselves be killed if there is no better option.  Alternatively, if their enemies know that they can only die in a particular way and the Rakshasha is aware that his or her enemies know this, they will kill themselves rather than face the risk of the final death. 

Rakshashas are all schemers and manipulators.  They all have goals vast and terrible in scope, and pursue them eagerly.  This is one of the few commonalities among the strange multitudes of their kind.  They have few others, being as varied in appearance as they are in motivation.  They are all creatures of great wealth- either having wealthy admirers in this world who will fund their activities, or they can draw upon the fortunes that they stored up in their other lives before this latest reincarnation.  These large fortunes are usually used to hire servants, bribe allies or enemies and to hire capable men with few scruples.  Another commonality among them is that they all love luxury- they dwell in urban areas and use their accumulated wealth to live in debauched opulence.  Depending on the culture they live in, they may revel in public, or they may conceal their indulgence behind masks of decorum and piety. 

The last and final commonality among all Rakshashas is that they are liars all, gifted and talented in the art of deception.  They are very good at it, cloaking themselves behind multiple layers of deceit.  A Rakshasha may pretend to be a generous noble, but then you may discover he is not all he seems.  Then the Rakshasha will maintain his deception, but insist that he is not as generous or benevolent as he claimed to be, but is instead pursuing this goal for selfish reasons.  And if you dig further, you may discover he has even darker motives.  At this point, the Rakshasha may resort to black-mail, intimidation, bribery or assassination, but it will keep up the facade that he is still this noble, even if you think this noble evil.  You will likely not find out that the Rakshasha was a Rakshasha at all, until you lay dying, and the Rakshasha takes off his mask to gloat and see your fear as the light leaves your eyes for the last time. 

What type of Rakshasha is it?

1d8

1- Rajatani. 
2- Dandasukas. 
3- Marai. 
4- Naztharune. 
5- Tatakas.
6- Amanusyas. 
7- Avataranas. 
8- Zalyakavats.
by SvetoslavPetrov

Rajatani. 

Rajatani are created from the souls of those who crave power above all else, those who will backstab, lie and cheat to claw their way to the top.  In their first life they were those who had power and craved more, or had none and were willing to do whatever it took to obtain it.  They were princes and scheming viziers, judges and generals, courtiers, groveling administrators and eunuchs.

Rajatani usually operate by posing as someone important, but not central- not the King, but one of his wise men; not the richest man in town, but still a wealthy merchant.  Someone who has power and influence but doesn't dominate the stage.  They will then focus on infiltrating high society and gaining access to the levers of power.  They will seduce the necessary people with promises of promotion and glory, manipulating them through guile and honeyed words.  Sometimes they will also trick or provide one of these people with the chance to do something immoral and use it that information to black-mail and control that person.  

Unlike other Rakshasha, Rajatani are extremely patient and avoid direct action whenever possible.  They are also known to avoid violence unless absolutely necessary, or if it will not threaten their plan.  They are most in favor of letting others take risks for them and letting others handle their dirty work.  They conceal themselves behind shields of status and institutional authority, then pervert and twist the institutions to suit their needs and take control of them.  

In their true form, Rajatani have the head of a...

1d4

1- Tiger
2- Lion
3- Bear
4- Elephant

Statblock Changes:

Mind Reader: Rajatani can, as an action, sense the surface thoughts of any creature they can see.  They can only see the creature's surface thoughts, meaning whatever topic most occupies the creature's mind at the moment.  If you say, "Don't think about a pink elephant", odds are most people will start thinking about a pink elephant, for example.  A creature whose thoughts are being observed can eject the Rajatani by beating it in a COG contest.  On a success, the Rajatani is forced from the mind of that creature and cannot read their mind for 1 hour or until that creature loses mental focus- such as when it is in pain, intoxicated or sleep-deprived.

Innate Spellcasting: Rajatani have Mana Dice equal to their SHP.  They can cast the following spells as an action.  These spells do not trigger Chaos or Corruption, but the Rajatani's MD do burn out as normal.  The Rajatani knows the spells: Charm Person, Fly, Illusion, Invisibility, Levitate, Mental Dominion, Perfect Illusion and Suggestion.

Mark of the Ravenous: Rajatanai can, by touching a creature, mark that creature.  This mark allows the Rajatani to imbue that creature with one of the Rajatani's inflamed passions or vile desires, which afflict the marked like a curse.  These desires vary from Rajatani, but are generally terrible sins such as sexual perversion, greed, hubris, cowardice, an inability to control one's rage or egomania.  This mark can be removed by the Rajatani as a free action or will fade after months of abstinence from the actions that feed that passion.  For example, greed is broken by taking an oath of poverty, perversion by abstinence, cowardice by heroic moral or physical courage.

Tactics:
- Avoid combat unless absolutely necessary
- Use stealth, illusions and invisibility to get the upper hand
- Use Mental Dominion to turn the tables or create an opening to escape

artist unknown

Dandasukas. 

Dandasukas are created from the souls of those who loved murder and manipulation.  They were souls who did not want power over society, but only over their victims.  In life they were killers, cannibals and other depraved criminals who primarily harmed others for their own sadistic amusement, not to advance any cause or prove a point.  When they didn't do that, they might have been weird, but they could have just as easily been seemingly normal members of society, the type of person who people would be shocked was capable of such acts.  Now that they have been reborn, some choose to drop the act entirely and become terrors in the night, while others use their newfound powers to elevate their deceptions to even greater heights.

Dandasukas operate usually by entering a civilized environment and setting up as a business owner or a merchant.  They are never poor, but never too prosperous either.  Someone who fits into the middle of society, who has little interesting or notable about him.  Someone helpful, a man you could trust.  Depending on their specific goals, they may travel or they may remain sedentary.  The Dandasuka will then craft an alternate persona, which it will use for it's evil actions.  During the night it will adopt the persona of the monster, but during the day it will be your friend, neighbor and ally.  From here depends on what it wants.  

While some Dandasukas are content merely to kill and commit terrible crimes, others have grander visions that they advance in secret.  Depending on that agenda, the actions of the monster persona will vary.  It may be a solitary hunter, it may seek to infiltrate and co-opt existing criminal networks, or it may seek to enter and control the centers of power.  Regardless, it will be a careful deception which slowly, inevitably oozes through the cracks and poisons the place the Dandasuka dwells in.  And as they stay still, the city, people and land around them will slowly be poisoned with vice, crime and a palpable air of corruption.

In their true form, Dandasukas have the head of a...

1d4
1- Jackal
2- Crocodile
3- Ant or Termite
4- Rat

Statblock Changes:

Ripping Jaws: Dandasukas can, as an action, unhinge their jaws and open their mouths impossibly wide, then make a bite attack against a creature within melee range.  The bite attack does 2d8 damage, but the target subtracts their AR from the damage done.  If the Dandasuka injures a creature, it regains X SHP, where X is that creature's HD.

Mark of the Devoured: A Dandasuka, if it has injured a creature, can force it to save as an action.  On a failed save, the creature's open wounds start bleeding.  This does 1d6 HP damage and 1 CON damage a round.  If this damage reduces a creature's HP to 0, it immediately gains the "Bleeding Out" condition, as if it suffered a Horrible Wound.  If the creature's CON drops to 0, the creature falls unconscious and cannot move or act.  The only way to stop the flow of blood from this wound is with healing magic, or by anointing the wounds with a potion made from a powerful healing reagent, such as Trollflesh or shavings of Unicorn horn.  Creatures who are at below half HP make the save against this ability with disadvantage.  Stopping the bleeding also does not remove the mark, which can only be removed with a willing sacrifice of blood.

Tactics:
- Separate one from the herd
- Pick him off
- Attack with Ripping Jaws if injured or if you need a quick kill
- If in danger of being killed, mark the survivors and flee

artist unknown

Marai. 

Marai are created from the souls of those who pursued arcane power at the expense of all other things.  The proto-liches, the questing Sages, the occult scholar, those who valued the power and knowledge over morality or even ambition.  Marai were those who sought immortality through the path of sorcery but failed, or those who performed unethical experiments and were slain for it, either by their own hand or the hand of the executioner and the agents of Law.  As such, Marai tend to hold such institutions in contempt, striking out on their own.  Unlike other Rakshasha, who gleefully revel in wickedness or mask their cruelty behind masks of charm and warmth, Marai deny that they did anything wrong at all.  To them morality is but a way for the lowly to hold down the great, to restrain them and to make themselves feel better for the inadequacy.  In life they were often weak, perhaps they were women, or simply men who lacked the necessary gifts to be powerful. 

Marai are sorcerers still, and have the goals of sorcerers.  They use their talent and knowledge of magic to perform wild experiments and attempt things never done before.  Like Liches, they usually have vast projects that if successfully completed, could dramatically alter the fate of the entire world.  But unlike the Lich, Marai are consumed by the need to move quickly and never slow down.  They are often impulsive and impatient, and this can easily lead to their secret laboratories and hidden workshops being discovered, often by neighbors concerned on the strange monsters crawling out of the sewers of the strange lights above the farm.

In their true form, Marai have the features of women merged with those of a monstrous serpent, slit-pupil eyes, fine scales covering their skin, long fangs potruding over the gums.

Each of their arms also are transformed into...

1d3
1- 2
2- 3
3- 4

Serpents.  These serpents can either make a 1d6 bite attack or spit their venom.  If the Marai spits venom instead, the creature targeted must save.  On a failed save, they are hit by the venom.  On a successful save, the creature evades it.  Creatures with a shield make the save with advantage.

To determine what venom the Serpent carries, roll on the table below, rerolling duplicates:

1d12

1- Blinding.  Any creature exposed to this serpent's venom takes 1d6 COG damage a round.  If this damage reduces the creature's COG to 0, it is blinded.
2- Paralyzing.  Any creature exposed to this serpent's venom takes 1d6 STR damage a round.  If this damage reduces a creature's STR to 0, it is paralyzed.
3- Agonizing.  Any creature exposed to this serpent's venom feels agonizing pain whenever they attempt to move.  Such a creature takes 1 damage when moving and 1d4 damage when attacking or making another non-movement action. 
4- Halluciogenic.  Any creature exposed to this serpent's venom starts hallucinating for 1d4 hours.  This time is extended by 1 hour by successive exposures.
5- Acidic.  This serpent can spit balls of acid that do 1d6 damage plus 1d6 damage a round the acid isn't diluted or washed off.  This acid can dissolve armor, weapons, clothing and organic material, anything that isn't plastic, ceramic, stone designed to resist strong acids or magical.  The acid can be neutralized with a strong base or diluted by large amounts of water or other fluids.
6- Burning.  This serpent can spit balls of fire that 2d6 damage, save for half.  They also set objects on fire, causing creatures to take 1d6 damage a round if they are on fire until they take an action to put out the flames.  If bitten by this serpent, the magical flames in the serpent set the creature's blood on fire, causing tongues of flames to burst from it's open wounds.  This does 1d6 CON damage a round.  If this reduces a creature's CON to 0, a pillar of flame floods out of the creature's mouth and nose, after which the creature dies (unless somehow immune to fire damage or other special circumstances- Referee's Discretion).  The only way to extinguish these flames is to shove the creature underwater or otherwise deprive the flames of oxygen.
7- Chilling.  This serpent can spit balls of blue-white fire that do 2d6 cold damage, save for half, sucking the heat out of a creature.  If bitten by one of these serpents, a creature takes 1d6 CON damage a round.  If this reduces a creature to 0 CON, that creature freezes solid.  The only way to prevent this is to expose the creature to an equivalent amount of fire damage (ti the initial bite).  This serpent's venom can also be neutralized by a burning serpent and vice versa.
8- Necrotizing.  This serpent can fire rays of photo-negative looking energies at a creature.  These do 1d6 necrotic damage and inflict a -1 penalty to attack per successful hit.  This penalty stacks with successive hits.  These rays also ignore non-magical armor.  Any Undead hit by these rays is instead healed for 1d6 HP.  Any creature bitten by one of these serpents takes 1d6 DEX damage a round and grows clumsier.  If this damage reduces a creature's DEX to 0, that creature dies.  The only way to stop this damage is to expose the creature to a source of radiant damage.  
9- Wailing.  This serpent can fire waves of concussive sound that do 1d6 thunder damage and force a creature to save or be thrown 30' backwards and knocked prone.  This damage ignores non-magical armor. Any creature bitten by ones of these serpents takes 1d6 COG a round.  If this reduces a creature's COG to 0, the creature is deafened.
10- Shocking.  This serpent can fire lightning bolts that do 1d6+X lightning damage, where X is the number of metal items a creature has on its' person or in its inventory.  This damage ignores non-magical armor.  If bitten by this serpent, the creature exposed to the venom becomes magnetized, and all creatures making attacks with metal weapons have advantage on their attacks, while metal items stick to that creature.
11- Crushing.  This serpent can fire rays of purple energy that if they hit an object, allow the Marai to manipulate that object as if she was touching it and had a STR of 16(+2) as if she had telekinesis.  If a creature is bitten by one of these serpents, the Marai can manipulate the creature like it was one of those objects, and can do 1d6+2 damage to it as an action on behalf of this serpent.  However, if she takes damage or is otherwise distracted, she must save.  On a failed save, she loses control of any objects she is controlling with this serpent's venom.
12- Loving.  This serpent can spit clouds of pink smoke that surround one creature.  That creature must save or be charmed to the Marai for 1d10+10 minutes.  The creature will not take any action to harm the Marai and must save upon seeing others try to hurt her.  On a failed save, the creature will attempt to stop the others from hurting her.  If bitten, the creature takes 1d6 CHA damage a round.  If this reduces a creature's CHA to 0, the creature falls under the influence of the Marai and will serve her faithfully for 1d6+1 days, with successive bites extending this period by 1d6 days. 

Unless otherwise specified, the venom from any of a Marai's serpents can be cured with an antidote, antitoxen or with magic designed to purge poison.

Statblock Changes:

Spellcaster: Marai are spellcasters.  They have MD equal to their SHP and trigger chaos on a roll of doubles or triples.  Their MD also burn out on a roll of 5 or 6.  Marai know the spells: Destructive Wave, Dimension Door, Finger of Death, Fireball, Flesh to Stone, Fly, Mirror Image and Wall of Force.

Chaos of the Marai: Roll 1d6 on this table each time the Marai rolls doubles or triples.
1d6
1- One random person around the Marai turns to stone.  After 1d10 minutes, they must save.  On a failure, they are stone forever.  On a success, they turn back, confused but okay.
2- A lightning bolt flies down and strikes the nearest tall or metal object near the Marai.  Hopefully this is a tower, and not a warrior on a horse.  Does 1d10 damage to things that could be damaged by lightning such as trees, horses, or people.  Does not harm things made of stone or metal.
3- A cloud of gas pours of the Marai's every pore.  This gas does 1d3 damage to everyone nearby and causes temporary insanity.  It is dispersed like a normal cloud of gas.
4- A cloud appears over the Marai and starts raining down 1d6 (1= gasoline; 2= blood; 3= salt water; 4= chunks of meat; 5= skulls, hands and small bones; 6= live fish).
5- All creatures within 50' of the Marai must save.  Those who fail their save stop being affected by gravity for 1d6 rounds and start floating into the sky.  This affects the Marai too.  After 1d6 rounds, all creatures become affected by gravity as per normal.
6- For the next 1d10 minutes, as long as the Marai is within 100', no one can die, for any reason.  This lasts just long enough for you to accept the idea you are immortal.  People can still be injured and injuries remain once the time limit is up.  Ex: Someone suffering from a fatal wound during this time will not die, just be in a lot of pain, but once the d10 minutes are up, they will go back to dying. 

Mark of the Parasitized: A Marai can, as an action, mark a creature by touching his body.  As an action, the Marai can cause the creature to take 1d6 FS damage and regain 1 MD.  If the creature has MD, the Marai just steals one of those instead.  If a creature has neither MD nor FS, the mark does 1d6 HP damage, but this damage is non-lethal and if it reduces a creature to 0 HP, that creature is just rendered unconscious. 

Tactics:
- Open with a powerful spell that could affect all nearby enemies
- Pepper the survivors with a bombardment of attacks from the serpents
- Mark the spellcasters or the strong fighters, steal their power as needed

by orig07

Naztharune. 

Naztharune are created from the souls of assassins, spies and manipulators, whose who sought power through covert means but never cared for the trappings of power, nor for the glory of the crown.  These cold and violent souls sought to use others like tools and always took pains to conceal themselves.  They recognized that though the King is the most important piece, it is still a piece.  The safest piece to be is not any piece, but the player who controls the pieces.  In life, they were unobstrusive figures who worked in darkness and obscurity, but nonetheless had great influence.  They were spy-masters, assassin-kings, information brokers, banksters and money-lenders.  Now, freed from the restraints of their old life, they have become terrible predators once more.

Naztharune enter a city and pose as someone important, usually a foreigner or a trader.  They then ingratiate themselves to the rulers or the elite through choice bits of information about the enemies of their mark or marks and slowly but surely curry favor and gain influence over their prey.  Soon they are essential, something the elite didn't know they needed until they had the Naztharune.  From there, the Naztharune will continue accumulating power until they are pulling all the strings, carefully managing the stage-play so that no one, not even the puppets, are aware that they are being controlled.  They are subtle and precise and prefer deceptions without coercion, as black-mail and other emotional strategems seem untrustworthy to them.  They do not trust, but rely on mutual calculations of usefulness, which is better.  For this reason, they are unsentimental and have no problem disposing of a piece that is no longer useful. 

In their true form, Naztharune have the head of a...

1d4
1- Panthers
2- Fox
3- Leopard
4- Lynx

Statblock Changes:

Vanish: Naztharune can, as an action, conceal themselves in magic, cloaking themselves in an aura that causes creatures nearby to overlook them, their mind being nudged to see the Naztharune as part of the background or an unimportant detail.  However, because creatures still subconsciously perceive the Naztharune, if it starts doing something interesting, important or dangerous, the creatures who could perceive the Naztharune get a save to try and perceive it.  For example, if the Naztharune was leaning up against a wall in the far corner of a bar, no one would pay it any attention.  But it was making a big speech or attacked someone, people would suddenly notice it.  Creatures may receive a penalty or a bonus to perceive the Naztharune depending on how important or flashy the action the Naztharune is taking (Referee's Discretion).  For example, stealing something out of a safe you are supposed to be guarding is a very important action, but smoking in the corner is not.

Assassinate: If a Naztharune attacks a creature from surprise, the Naztharune may roll it's damage di(c)e twice and add the results together for damage dealt.

Mark of the Hunted: If a Naztharune touches a creature, it can leave a mark on that creature.  This mark is subtle and isn't likely to be immediately noticed, unless it is on some obvious part of the body.  This mark allows the Naztharune to find the marked creature anywhere on this plane of existence, knowing their exact location.  The Naztharune can also "look" through the mark as if it was an eye and "hear" everything said around the mark as if it was an ear.  This mark can be removed through an act of heroic courage, which wipes away the mark. 

Tactics:
- Avoid fighting unless you have an overwhelming advantage
- Attack from stealth when the target is vulnerable, alone or otherwise easy prey
- Never engage in a pitched battle unless you have a plan for how to win and how to escape

artist unknown

Tatakas. 

Tatakas are created from the souls of blasphemers, rebels, traitors and infidels.  Those who rejected the laws of God and King and sought to overturn throne and altar, the miscreants who revolted against the Law, those who sought to tear down society to reign over the ashes, these are the Tatakas.  These violent souls were given a second chance, not to redeem themselves, but to bring the war anew to their foes.  Tatakas were generals, commanders, cult leaders and would-be messiahs in their past lives, and they continue walking these paths once reborn.  Tatakas are the least subtle of the Rakshasha, for instead of concealing their power and moving in the shadows, they flaunt their abilities and use them to attract followers.  They assemble armies and unite warbands into vast coalitions, then lead them in raids and wars of conquest.  Many a peaceful golden age has been shattered by a Tataka, who bring the fury of iron and blood down upon a peaceful land.

Tatakas usually begin by approaching the leaders of small warbands, militant cells or lieutenants in greater armies and sway them with talk of conquests, honor and glory.  They use their powers to impress the leaders and prove to the soldiers that they are aided by higher forces.  They are good at giving speeches and persuading rough, masculine men of the virtues of any particular cause.  A Tataka is likely to walk somewhat openly, adopting less obvious personas only when stealth is part of a strategy or for dramatic flair.  If you are facing an enemy general who is said to have magical powers, be protected by God or has a habit of appearing or disappearing only to suddenly reappear in another battle on the other side of the country, you might be dealing with a demigod, or perhaps a Tataka.

In their true forms, Tataka have the head of a...

1d4
1- Boar
2- Wolf
3- Great Ape
4- Distorted Humanoid face (Ogre-like)

Statblock Changes:


Aura of Red Terror: A Tataka possesses an aura of terrible power around it.  If in combat against a Tataka, all creatures must save.  Those creatures who fail their saves take 1d6 COG damage a round.  If this damage reduces a creature to 0 COG, it flees in a blind panic and gains the Conviction, "I am terrified of [Tataka's name] and will not fight him again."  Creatures must also save again if the Tataka kills any of their friends or does something that makes the players, not the characters, worried.  The Tataka can turn this aura on or off at will.

Growth: Tatakas can grow up to two size categories from their starting Large size (Small-->Medium-->Large-->Huge-->Colossal).  For each size category the Tataka grows, they get +1 AR and -1 to Attack.  However, on a hit, they do +1d4 damage per size category they are larger.  However, this additional damage is only added after a hit is confirmed.

Shrink: Tatakas can, as an action, shrink up to two size categories from their starting Large size.  For each size category a Tataka shrinks, it gets +1 to attack but -1 AR (min 0).  This bonus to attack gained from shrinking is not added in as additional bonus damage, however.

Mark of the Maddened: A Tataka can, as an action, place a mark on a creature's body by touching it.  At any point, the Tataka can activate all or just one of these marks.  When it does this, the creature whose marks were activated fly into a blind rage and attack any creature they identify as an enemy around them.  These creatures do +2 damage but receive a -2 AR penalty as they fight recklessly, with no regard for their own lives.  Creatures who rage like this fight until they die, fall unconscious or until there are not enemies left.  A Tataka can remove the mark from a creature by touching it in the same place it placed the mark.  The mark can also be removed by practicing strict mental discipline or taking an oath to do no harm to any living thing for several months or longer. 

Tactics:
- Charge in and trample your enemies underfoot
- Grow larger to smash weak opponents
- Shrink to fight stronger or harder hitting opponents
- Drive some of your warriors into a maddened rage as an opening gambit or to escape
- Retreat reluctantly, only when all hope is lost

artist unknown

Amanusyas. 

Amanusyas are created from the souls of women, specifically women who used their beauty and physical gifts in perverse and destructive ways.  Those women who used sensuality as a weapon, who corrupted their marks and manipulated them through the use of their wiles.  Amanusyas were once mistresses, seducers and manipulators, those who hated their own weaknesses and loved the power that they felt when leading people around by the nose.  By the end of their lives, most of them reduced to insanity as their out-of-control passions devoured them from within, leaving them husks of what they once were.  What was reborn has almost nothing to do with the people those women once were- all that is left is a husk, a sinuous shell that is hollow on the inside, utterly dominated by the urge to consume others and to receive pleasure, power and other boons in exchange.

Amanusyas corrupt others with the pleasures of the flesh, but also with other rewards, heroism, fame, gold and glory.  They are highly skillful manipulators and are very gregarious.  Unlike some other Rakshasha, which regard mortals only as tools or annoyances, Amanusyas actually take the time to get to know them.  They take great pleasure in befriending their victims and learning their habits and weak points before exploiting them.  They live to corrupt mortals, pandering to them and manipulating their passions.  This is their favorite form of control, they dislike threats or black-mail as crudity.  

They are also known to cultivate relationships with mortals and by making the mortal fall in love with them, they can manipulate their prey through the victim's own feelings of love, responsibility and kindness.  That being said, such relationships do not always work out.  Amanusyas are corrupted by their own desires- they are ravenous and it is exhausting and difficult for them to restrain these to appear normal and should their mark find out, that often undermines the deception.  It is hard to convince someone you are a meek and chaste heiress when he finds out that your male bodyguards double as your paramours. 

Amanusyas in their true form resemble human women with their heads twisted around backwards, their hands reversed and their tongues unnaturally long, lolling down to the small of their backs. 

Statblock Changes:

Alluring Aura: Amanusyas have a constant aura of charm around them, but it is a subtle aura, not easily noticed.  Creatures who can see or hear her must save.  Creatures who are attracted to the Amanusya make this save with a penalty, those who are not attracted to make this save with a bonus.  The Referee may also roll this save in secret.  Any creature who fails his save takes 1 COG damage for nice thing an Amanusya does for him, such as being kind to him, serving him food, giving him a shoulder to cry on, etc.  If they intimate physical contact, this damage increases to 1d6 COG.  Any creature who is reduced to 0 COG by the Amanusya becomes hopelessly enraptured by her, and will gain the Conviction, "I am in love with [Amanusya's name] and would do anything for her."  He will not want to hurt her or do anything that would upset her.

Mark of the Enslaved: An Amanusya can alter the nature of her alluring aura, transforming it into one of psychic slavery.  Any creature who has taken COG damage from her aura must save.  Those who have taken COG damage get a penalty equal to the number of nice things/favors she has done for them.  On a failed save, these creatures fall under the direct control of the Amanusya and she can order them to do things on her turn as a free action.  Creatures reduced to 0 COG by her aura fail this save automatically.

Venomous Saliva: Amanusyas can alter their saliva to make it have specific qualities.  They can give their saliva a narcotic quality- anyone who drinks it takes -1 damage from all sources and becomes immune to pain for 1 hour (or longer, depending on the amount they consume).  They can also give their saliva a paralytic quality- anyone who ingests it takes 1d6 DEX damage.  If this reduces a creature's DEX to 0, the creature is paralyzed.  This venom can also be smeared on a Amanusyas' weapons and applied on a hit. 

If a creature sees the Amanusya behaving in a cruel or vicious manner, he can make a new save.  If he makes the new save, he starts recovering 1 COG each day he is not around the Amanusya.  Additionally, if she does something cruel to him, he will become immune to her aura for 1d8 hours if his COG is severely damaged, or 1d4 days if it is only mildly affected.  Her using 'Mark of the Enslaved' and him passing his save will automatically count as her doing something vicious to him.

The effects of an Amanusyas' saliva wear off after 1 hour and can be purged by magic that is designed to remove poisons or a greater antidote.

Tactics:
- Avoid combat when at all possible
- Stimulate then manipulate the passions of your mark
- Use your Alluring Aura to subtly control those around you
- If in combat, dose your strongest opponent with your paralytic saliva
- Have your slaves take the risks and use your saliva to make them fearless

artist unknown

Avataranas. 

Avataranas are created from the souls of those who had no identity while they were alive, or those who had their's stolen.  They were those who toiled in obscurity, those who sought something more and were soundly rejected.  They were tiny cogs in enormous machines, but longed to be more.  They were the faceless, denied even the chance to rise above their lowly origins.  They were those who, when faced with suffering, allowed it to corrupt and poison their hearts.  They were cruel and vicious in their desperation, so eager to be seen and heard that they were willing to do anything to achieve this, even horrible atrocities.  Now, in death, they have been remade into walking grotesqueries, granted great power and the ability to become anything, except for who they are.

Avataranas have the ability to possess people, and this is how they use it.  They find an appropriate target, usually a semi-important person with access to the upper rungs of society.  Taking control of that person, they do their best to imitate that person's routine and habits, and use them to gain access to more important people.  The Avatarana then switches bodies, after doing something to neutralize their previous host, sometimes by putting the creature in a position that would kill it then exiting the body, or committing a monstrous crime and leaving it's former victim to deal with the fallout while it escapes to a higher-status person.  Avataranas continue this process for as long as possible, jumping up higher and higher, using the power and resources of their various hosts to crush and degrade those around them.  Avataranas usually have little fear of being caught, but when they are, they never fight, but withdraw and flee, only attacking if they have no choice or are pursued.  They usually just use their ability to erase memories to eliminate all traces of it from the minds of the pursuers, then it slips away into the grey mists of anonymity.

Avataranas in their true form resemble quadrupedal humanoids with a second pair of arms replacing their legs.  They walk on all fours like a big cat, moving with supine grace.  Their bodies are grey and featureless, stripped of any markings of identity.  Their faces are concealed behind a mask of taunt skin that covers it.  This is not their skin, but is affixed to them and cannot be removed.  Occasionally, you can see the faint impressions of a face twisting behind this mask of skin, pressing against it, but these impressions are quickly lost. 

Statblock Changes:

Possession: If an Avatarana makes contact with a creature's body, it's flesh gains a liquid quality and it begins to flow into the creature's pores, mouth, nose and any open wounds the creature has.  Each round the creature may attempt a STR check, contesting the Avatarana's CHA check.  Avataranas have a CHA of 16(+2).  If the creature wins, it manages to pull part of the Avatarana out of its body.  If the Avatarana wins, it slithers deeper inside the creature's body.  If the Avatarana wins three of these contests, it is able to enter the creature's body and possesses it.  The creature is imprisoned within it's own mind, unable to do anything but watch as the Avatarana controls it.  If the creature wins, the Avatarana is expelled from the body of the creature.

When an Avatarana possesses a creature, any physical damage to the creature's body is taken by that creature, while any magic that affects the spirit (necrotic, radiant, psychic) is split between it and the creature it is possessing, unless the attacker has some way of specifically targeting the Avatarana.  Additionally, should the creature the Avatarana is possessing die, this does not kill the Avatarana, which can merely re-liquefy it's body and slither out.

The Knife of Loneliness: Whenever an Avatarana injures a creature, that creature loses their memories of the last 1d10 minutes.  If an Avatarana is given more time, it can also pour through a creature's memories and carve out those that it chooses.  Those memories are then lost.  The Avatarana cannot erase memories based on muscle memory and long amounts of practice, but it can erase intellectual knowledge and other memories.  For the latter type of memory removal, creatures get a save to resist.

Mark of the Faceless: An Avatarana can, as an action, mark a creature by touching it.  A creature marked in this way becomes unrecognizable to anyone who knows that creature and barely noticeable to anyone who doesn't.  Even close friends or family will not be able to recognize the creature, and will have a hard time believing that this creature is their loved one.

Tactics:
- Ambush your prey, pick off the lonely and vulnerable
- Or if possessing that creature, pretend to be a friend and stab them in the back
- Avoid pitched battle or where you can be noticed

artist unknown
Zalyakavats. 

Zalyakavats are created from the souls of obsessives, violent and deranged creatures.  Those who sacrificied everything to be the best, who burnt their bridges and trampled down everything in their path, those who threw away everything and were left amid the desolation of their own actions, a hell of their own making, that is the fate and nature of the Zalyakavats.  Zalyakavats all had some goal in their lives that they pursued with unending zeal, dedicating themselves to perfection.  To become the one who stood above all others, that was their goal.  And this obsession is the one thing that persisted, after everything was lost, even their lives, the obsession remains.  And despite all the problems it caused, Zalyakats continue pushing forward, driving toward the unseen horizon, regardless of the cost.

Zalyakavats have a goal that they pursue unerringly.  Nothing else matters to them, but depending on that goal, their methods will need to change.  A Zalyakavat obsessed with martial perfection will train and spend his time searching for opponents stronger than he is to fight, but a Zalyakavat who is obsessed with revenge will stalk his targets, recording every detail of their activity, habits and tendencies.  It all varies, the only thing that doesn't is their obsession and the white-hot purpose that fuels them.   

Zalyakavats are ugly, green-skinned creatures with frail-looking forms, starved to the point of emaciation.  They tremble slightly when they stand still, whether from cold, nervousness or fear or wild mania barely suppressed is a topic of wild speculation.  Unlike all other Rakshasha, who have a great love for finery and opulence, they clad themselves in humble garments or rags unless it is necessary to wear something else.

All Zalyakavats are obsessed with something, a goal that they move towards in an unbending pursuit...

This goal is...

1d4
1- The mastery of a form of combat.  A martial art, fighting style or use of one particular weapon.
2- The destruction of the enemies the Zalyakavat had made while alive.
3- Achieving an ideological goal that the Zalyakavat had while alive.
4- The completion of some personal ambition that went woefully unfulfilled while alive.

Statblock Changes:

Master of War: Zalyakavats are all Masters of one particular martial school (as a Fighting Man), whether a Fist or Weapon art varies depending on the Zalyakavat.  The Referee can determine this, or roll randomly as he prefers.

Zealous: Zalyakavats are immune to all Fear and Charm effects.  They cannot be influenced or controlled through magic or any ability, especially if that ability would have them not continue on their obsessive path.  They will retreat if it means victory later, but if victory is possible here and now, they will push forward regardless of the potential losses.

Indomitable Body: Zalyakavats have a 2-in-6 chance of regenerating 1 SHP per round on their turn.  If the Zalyakavat spends his action concentrating, this chance increases to 4-in-6.  Creatures can attempt to disrupt the Zalyakavat's recovery by attacking or trying to distract it, which forces a save.  On a failed save, the Zalyakavat cannot recover any SHP that round.

Mark of the Obsessed: A Zalyakavat can, by touching a creature, place a mark on it's body.  The Zalyakavat can then select a tendency or Conviction the creature has.  The selected tendency or Conviction becomes the creature's main focus, an obsession that consumes and replaces all other thoughts.  If faced with the choice between doing something else and pursuing their obsession, the marked creature must successfully save or pursue their obsession.  This mark can be removed by isolating the marked creature from the source of their obsession for as long as it takes for the Conviction to dull or be erased.
by REYKAT

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

OSR: Martial Maneuvers

 

by Gonçalo Sousa
A while ago, one of my players asked me if it would be possible to make combat more crunchy, while keeping the smoothness and simplicity of OSR combat.  I also had a much less sophisticated system where players could teach each other their class abilities, which was just a terrible idea.  So I thought about it and after some effort, came up with this.  These are martial maneuvers, techniques intended to enhance the combat skills of any character or NPC in an easy and direct way.

While they are not as powerful as a Fighter's Secret Techniques, they can be learned by other classes.  The way you learn one of these maneuvers is you find a teacher.  The teacher then subtracts their COG modifier plus their martial skill (levels in Alice, Boxer, Carnivore or Fighting Man (max 5)) from 20.  That becomes the DC.  The student then rolls 1d20 and adds their COG bonus plus their martial skill.  If they equal or exceed the DC, the student learns the maneuver.  If not, they can attempt to learn the technique again tomorrow.

For example- a Level 3 Fighter with a COG of 15(+1) is attempting to teach his Level 3 Sage friend with a Cog of 16(+2) the Disarming Strike maneuver.  Subtracting 4 from 20 gives us a DC of 16.  If the Sage can roll 16 or higher, he learns the maneuver.  If he fails, he must wait until tomorrow to attempt to learn it again.  

These maneuvers are also good for the Referee, as they give the Referee the ability to spice up an enemy's combat repetoire without loading them down with class levels or having to include a bunch of complicated text to explain an ability. 

Martial Maneuvers:

1d20

1- Reckless Attack: You get advantage on your next attack, but the next attack against you has advantage.

2- Bull Rush: If you have space, you can charge an opponent.  On a hit, you do +1d6 damage, and this damage is included in your attack roll.  However, if the opponent wishes, instead of making a defense roll, he can instead attempt a DEX save.  On a  successful save, the opponent takes no damage.  On a failure, however, the opponent takes full damage.

3- Bloody Aura: As an action, you can release your bloodlust in a palpable aura around you as an action.  Any opponent who attacks you must save.  On a failed save, the opponent will abort his attack, as he believes you are trying to counterattack.  A successful save indicates that the opponent realizes you are just bluffing.

4- Wounded Feint: As an action, you do not attempt to avoid an attack, but to counter-attack.  By pretending to be wounded, you allow an opponent to automatically damage you.  Then roll damage and compare it to the opponent's damage roll.  If your damage roll exceeds your opponent's, you take no damage and the opponent takes the result that you rolled in damage.  If your damage roll is lower, you are damaged as normal.

5- Shield Bash: If you have a shield, you can attempt to make an attack with it.  Your opponent makes a defense roll as normal.  On a successful attack, your opponent takes 1d6 damage and is stunned for 1 minute (10 rounds).  Stunned creatures cannot attack or take actions except for movement.  Your opponent can attempt a save as an action on his turn.  On a successful save, he recovers and is no longer stunned.

6- Disarming Strike: You can make an attack as an action.  On a successful hit, you deal no damage, but instead knock your opponent's weapon out of his hands.  He must take an action to retrieve the weapon before he can use it again.

7- Pile Driver: If you have grappled a creature, as an action on your turn you can slam that creature into the ground, doing 1d8 damage to that creature and forcing it to save or be stunned.  Doing this breaks your grapple.

8- Mountain Hammer: You can make a bare-handed attack, unleashing a rippling blow that sends dangerous shockwaves through armor, damaging the creature inside, doing 1d4+AR damage.  So a creature with AR 1 takes 1d4+1 damage, a creature with AR 2 takes 1d4+2 damage and so on.  Creatures with Natural Armor can save at the start of the the battle and on a success, take only 1d4 damage from this attack.  On a failed save, however, they take damage as normal. 

9- Whirlwind Strike: As an action, you may target up to 4 creatures (Armies count as 4 creatures if surrounding you, Swarms may also count as four, depending on size) that are standing adjacent to you or each other if you're using a ranged weapon.  You then make an attack roll and roll damage a number of times equal to the number of creatures you are targeting.  Select the highest one, then divide the damage evenly among the creatures targeted.  If the amount of damage cannot be evenly divided, the Referee decides where the remainder goes.

10- Spear Dance: If you have a spear, polearm or staff you can twirl it into the air before you, spinning it in a circle.  If any creature would attack you while you are doing this, they must save.  On a failed save, the creature's attack fails and it is knocked prone.  On a success, the attack proceeds as normal.  You can stop spinning your weapon as a free action.

11- Throw Weapon: You can throw a melee weapon ordinarily not intended to be thrown.  On a hit, that weapon does normal damage, as if you made a normal melee attack.  You must then take an action to retrieve your weapon before it can be used again.

12- Impalement: If you have a sword, spear or other weapon that can be used to stab, you can make an attack and try to drive it into your opponent.  Your opponent can either make a defense roll or make a STR save.  On a successful STR save, they slam your weapon aside and send you staggering, leaving you open to a counter-attack with the next attack against you getting a +2 bonus to the attack roll.  On a failed STR save, the target is hit as normal.  On a successful hit, the target takes normal damage, plus you drive your weapon into them.  You can then inflict your base weapon die damage on them as an action next turn, or pull out your weapon.  If you choose the latter, this gives them a persistent wound that does 1d4 damage a round until someone makes a successful COG check to stop the bleeding. 

Ex: You impale a creature with your d6 sword, next round you can do d6 damage to that creature as an action on your turn, or you can pull out your sword and give that creature a persistent wound. 

13- Arm Break: If you are grappling a creature, you can force the creature to compete against you in a STR contest.  If you win, you snap one of the creature's arms, breaking it and rendering it unusable until it heals, either naturally or otherwise.  If he wins, however, he breaks your grapple and frees himself.

14- Crushing Blow: You hit a creature with a massive blow using all your strength.  That creature must either compete against you in a STR contest or make a DEX save.  On a failed STR contest, the creature takes no damage but is knocked prone.  Attacks against prone creatures have advantage if the attacker is non-prone.  If the target instead attempts a DEX save, on a successful save they take no damage but on a failure take normal damage from a successful attack plus the attacker's STR modifier (min +1).

15- Leaping Strike: You leap into the air and crash down on your opponent, the force of gravity dragging your weapon down into him.  Your opponent makes a defense roll.  If his roll beats your attack roll, you take the difference in damage.  If your opponent has a spear or polearm, he make his defense roll with advantage.  If your opponent has a shield, he also makes his save with advantage, but you take no damage if the defense roll is higher.  If your attack roll beats his defense roll however, you may roll your damage dice an additional time and add it to the damage you rolled as part of your attack roll. 

16- Counterpunch.  Once per round, as a reaction to being attacked and hit, you can make an attack roll of your own.  If your attack roll beats the one that hit you, that attack is countered and treated as if it did no damage.  Your opponent then takes the difference in damage between the two rolls.  Ex: If he rolled 4 damage and you rolled 6, he takes 2 damage.

17- Clashing: You can force a creature to compete in a STR contest against you.  If you win, you can push your opponent backwards.  A pushed creature must save- on a failed save they are pushed back 10*[STR modifier]', but on a failed save they are also spun and disoriented and are stunned.  Stunned creatures cannot attack or take actions except for movement.  Your opponent can attempt a save as an action on his turn.  On a successful save, he recovers and is no longer stunned.
 
18- Hip Throw: You force an opponent to make a DEX save.  On a failed save, you throw the opponent, pulling them across your body and slamming them onto the ground.  From this position you can make an attack with a Quick weapon with advantage, or make a grapple check with advantage.

19- Chokehold.  If you are grappling a creature, you can force that creature to compete against with you in a STR contest.  If you win the contest, you begin applying pressure to the creature's neck and throat, depriving them of oxygen.  This does 1d6 CON damage to the creature a round.  If this damage reduces a creature to 0, that creature passes out.  This technique only works on creatures that need oxygen- some creatures may not be affected by this, such as Outsiders possessing mortal bodies or Undead.  A creature being choked can make a STR check each round to try and break your hold.  If it beats your STR check in a contest, it stops being choked, but it needs to succeed in another STR contest to break free of your grapple.

20- Spoiling Attack.  You must take an action to ready this technique.  Then, when an opponent attempts to attack you, you make your defense roll in response.  If you beat your opponent's roll, the opponent's attack not only fails to hit, but he take a -1d4 penalty to hit for 1 minute, or until he succeeds on a CON save.  The opponent can attempt this CON save each round as an action.  If you fail to beat your opponent's attack roll, you take -1d4 damage.  Ex: If your opponent's attack did 6 damage, you take (6-1d4) damage.

from here

Sunday, May 2, 2021

OSR: Annis Hag

 

by MunsonX

 "You may be destined for bigger things, but you're still an atrocious, stupid child.
And you may have won the "game" with your sister, but that doesn't mean it was the best thing for your development as a person.
You had her dream self killed, which is not an opportunity your species typically gets. So she died prematurely, instead of allowing the conflict within you to settle itself naturally.
In short, you forced your predomination to happen a little too early, and now you're stuck.
STUCK?  Yes. Your personality is stuck in some sort of cantankerous prepubescent limbo. You are going to be a stunted, miserable tool forever."

"Has it occurred to you that your quest in its limitless tedium and thankless busywork was designed to facilitate your personal growth?
To prepare you for your ultimate destiny beyond this game?
NO.
ANYWAY DIDN'T YOU SAY ONE TIME. I WAS INCAPABLE OF GROWING???
Oh right.
Well, has it occurred to you that it might have been designed to fuck with your head and serve as a punishment for being such a horrible little shit?
YES!!!
YES.
THAT OCCURS TO ME. EVERY SECOND I THINK ABOUT IT."

- Andrew Hussie and Caliborn , from here and here respectively

Hags are female spellcasters who through a lifetime of dabbling with dark forces have been corrupted and transformed into grotesque parodies of their former selves.  Though they resemble old women, they have been molded into something inhuman.  Their skin is tough as old leather and their fingernails are long and cruel, sharp enough to open a man's belly like he was a fish pulled from a stream.  Their original magical talents have largely withered, but they still possess some of their original skills.

Hags tend towards the macabre.  They hate things that remind them of what they once were, young, beautiful, virtuous or talented.  As such, they destroy the proud, valiant and whole, seeking to make everything as corrupt as they are.  For this reason they scar the faces of beautiful women and torment children, in the hopes of stealing their innocence and robbing their victims of their purity. 

And one of the Hag's favorite ways to do this is through the Ogre.  Ogres are children ritually abused and magically experimented on until they transform into monstrous creatures, the demons of a hurt child's psyche extracted and sculpted in meat and bone.  Ogres live in fear of Hags, but also cling to them, for though they may despise the Hag, the Hag is often the closest thing the Ogre has to a parent.

And Hags love to care for their children, Ogre or otherwise.  Ogres are their favorite, short-tempered, violent, impulsive and easily controlled.  Hags infantilize these Ogres, providing for them and teaching them to rely on their "mother" for everything.  As such, most Ogres never outgrow their violent, child-like nature.  They remain as they are, trapped in a permanent adolescence.

"Most":

But Ogres, like children, are often much more clever than adults give them credit for.  And even someone twisted into an unnatural, nonconstructive shape can still develop.  It's just that, if you start with an uneven foundation, the house built atop it will be skewed and crooked as well. 

An Annis Hag is that crooked house.  If an Ogress matures enough to understand certain things, as her mind struggles toward some caricature of maturity, her body will begin to change as well.  She will come to resemble her mother, but viewed through a warped lens.  Her bones will be too sharp, her muscles twisted and coiled so they bulge in areas, while other parts of her body are skeletal and thin.  Her hands will be just a bit too large, her hands long and tipped with razors of gleaming bone.  Her teeth will spill out over her too-fat or too thin lips and generally, she will resemble an unnatural horror that is trying to look like a normal woman, but has only see clumsy pictures about them or heard stories from drunken travelers.

artist unknown

Annis Hag
HD 5
Ar varies- see below
Atk Claws (1d8/1d8)
Mor (9+X, where X is the number of size categories she is larger than you)
Saves 12 or less

Illusory Appearance: As an action, an Annis Hag may create an illusion over herself to alter her appearance.  The illusory disguise can alter the Hag's shape, making her appear to be a medium creature of whatever appearance the Annis Hag can imagine or remember.  However, these illusions will always be a bit off, with a subtle detail out of place.  Perhaps the woman she has disguised herself as has six fingers on one hand, or one of her eyes is larger than the others, or something else that could be overlooked and gives the illusion an uncanny appearance.
Additionally, the illusion fails to stand up to physical inspection- if the Hag is disguised as a maiden and you touch her hand, you will not feel the soft skin of a young woman, but the rawhide flesh and sharp claws of a Hag.  The Annis Hag may dispel this illusion as a free action.

Growing Pains: Annis Hags can alter their size as an action, but this consumes one of their attacks.  Their base form is Medium creature, but they can grow larger or smaller as an action.  As they get larger, they get +1 AR per size categories between the Annis Hag and her attacker.  For example, if she is Large and is attacked by a Medium creature, she gets +1 AR.  However, the larger she is, the easier her attacks are to dodge, with each size category she is larger giving her -1 to hit (max -4).  However, she also does +Xd4 damage on hit if she is larger than a creature, where X is the difference in size categories between them, but this damage is only added after a hit is confirmed.  For example, if she is Large and she attacks a Medium creature, she makes that attack roll with a -1 penalty but does +1d4 damage on a hit.

Small of Soul: Annis Hags can also shrink, making themselves smaller.  When an Annis Hag is smaller than a creature, she gets a +1 bonus to hide from that creature per difference in size category.  When an Annis Hag is smaller, she also gets a penalty to her morale checks based on the number of size categories her opponents are bigger than her.

Tactics:
- Try to be friendly and lull them into a false sense of security
- If they find out, grow bigger than them and try to kill them
- If you get hurt or scared, run away and hide, shrinking as you do

<sidebar>

Size Categories for reference:

Minuscule- Anywhere from six to three inches tall, weight is around the same, anything that could take a bath in a teacup
Tiny- Anything the same size as or smaller than a small dog- such as a Shi Tzu or Chihuahua, weight range is around the same
Small- Anything from two to four feet tall, weighs about as much as a large child or a person with dwarfism
Medium- Anything from 5 to 7 feet tall, weighs about as much as an non-overweight human
Large- Anything from 10 to 15 feet tall, weighs anything from a large pig to a steer
Huge- Anything over twenty to thirty feet tall, weighs anything from a mid-sized SUV to a tractor trailer
Colossal- Anything from forty to eighty feet tall, weighs anywhere from a main battle tank to a respectably sized house
Gargantuan- A walking mountain, weighs dozens if not hundreds of tons

</end sidebar>

Annis Hags alternate between cruel sadism and childlike vulnerability.  They often have difficulty controlling their emotions, bursting into tears when hurt and flying into petulant rages when angered.  They often try to ape other types of Hags and engage in manipulation and the weaving of clever schemes, but they are usually unsuccessful at this.  They can be quite childlike and often lack the necessary knowledge of sophistication to successfully trick creatures.  Pointing this out is a good way to drive an Annis Hag to tears, or to make her angry, after which she might attempt to rip your arms off.

As such, Annis Hags often rely on simple ruses or blunt approaches, and when discovered, resort to extreme violence. 

Other Hags tend not to consider Annis Hags are true Hags, but as overgrown children play-acting as adults.  For while they are capable of being clever, their usual method of operation involves painting the walls red with blood.  Like the Ogres that they once were, they prefer simple solutions.  An Annis Hag may come up with an elaborate scheme, but if it doesn't work, she'll resort to breaking things until she can think of a new plan and that might not be until she has painted the walls with your blood. 

Annis Hag Plot Hooks:

1d4

1- An Annis Hag is in love with a boy in town, one who would have been her age when she was initially became an Ogre (10-14).  She shrinks down to a her child-sized form, disguises herself as a normal girl and starts playing with him in the forest.  But she starts to resent his parents for separating the two of them.  So she kidnaps the boy, perhaps by force but also possibly by guile, luring him out into the woods and leaving him there.  Her plan is to convince the boy to run away with her.  If she fails, she will return to the town, sneak in and kill the boy's parents.  You are unaware of this, however, and are hired by the boy's parents to find out what, if anything, he is talking to in the woods.
2- The party hears about a man who lives on the outskirts of a town/village and has allegedly become violent and irritable lately.  His wife is hiding her face now and his daughters haven't been seen playing with the other children as they usually do.  If you investigate, you will find one of the man's daughters dead and buried behind the chicken coop.  The man will insist he's guilty, even though he doesn't seem capable of such a thing.  If you are ever alone, he will ask you to save his other daughters, but if with people from town, he will take all the blame on himself.  Secretly, his wife is dead and has been replaced by an Annis Hag, who is slowly but surely killing the man's daughters, as she resents them for the childhood they have that she never got.
3- The party is hired to investigate a series of murders, the mutilated bodies having been found in the woods.  The bodies turn out to belong to members of an infamous bandit gang.  If you find the bandits, you will find that the bandit leader has a strange child, a girl who terrifies the other members of the band but he adores.  He claims not to be responsible for the murders, and thinks it is the work of an evil spirit or some other monster.  He is right.  Secretly, the bandit leader's "Daughter" is an Annis Hag who is pretending to be a child.  Because he has been neglecting her, she has been picking off members of the bandit group and taking out her frustrations on them.
4- A child recently went missing and it has parents in the area worried.  The mayor has hired you to try and find him.  The children of the village have been largely unhelpful, telling wild tales of the "Giant Woman" who comes to play with them and gives them piggy-back rides.  They say she can make herself as tall as the sky or short as a cat, and that her skin is really hard but she's actually nice and that she promised that if they wanted to, she would take them across the river (which is all but impassible in the minds of these children) to the magical forest beyond (where they are forbidden to go).  The "Giant Woman" is an Annis Hag and she is hiding in the monster-infested forest beyond the river, a place haunted by wild beasts and the ghosts of murdered children.  You can try to find her the old fashioned way, or if you somehow disguised yourself as children, you might be able to get her to take you right to her hidden lair.  But whatever you do, you should hurry.  The child she took doesn't have forever... 

by Daniel Jiménez Villalba

Thursday, April 29, 2021

OSR: Nothic

 

by Matthew Kim
Nothics are hunters of secrets and the manipulators of those who conceal.

No one really knows anything about Nothics, for to be preyed upon by one is shameful, as well as a sign that you are concealing something.  As such, the only people who know about Nothics are Adventurers, who no one believes, and those who make their own business to keep and learn secrets, who know when to keep their mouths shut.

Nothics can sense lies, conspiracy, or deception from leagues away.  They are drawn to it instinctively, but they are discerning eaters, with little patience for white lies and petty secrets.  The farmer's adultery with the milkmaid or the true identity of the local half-breed's father is likely to be rejected by a Nothic. 

Instead, Nothics seek out great souls who harbor terrible truths or spin grand webs of deceit.  They stalk these men and spy on them, seeking information on them.  Once they have uncovered the secret, the Nothic approaches the man and begins its manipulation.

How exactly a Nothic does it varies.  Sometimes they attempt black-mail or brute extortion, threatening to reveal the secrets of their target unless he does as the Nothic asks.  Or perhaps they worm their way into his good graces, playing on the target's emotional weaknesses and using them to play the target like a fiddle. 

Regardless of how it is done, the Nothic always has the goal of controlling the target into doing what it wants.  And what Nothics want is always the same.  They want knowledge, information.  This is the only thing that matters to a Nothic.  Money, power, pleasure: all these things are irrelevant to the Nothic except as a means to acquire more knowledge.  Sometimes Nothics can seem to be working towards some grander scheme or attempting to achieve some other objective, but these are lies told by the Nothic or projections from the mortal observer.  Nothics do not gather information and learn about things for any purpose other than the pleasure of knowing.  While they may derive pleasure from successfully carrying out an operation or having other creatures in their power, these are secondary to the central goal of knowing as much as possible.

Nothic
HD 1d4+2
AR 2 [Natural Armor]
Atk Razor Claws or Weapon (1d10)
Mor 12
Saves (HD+7) or less

All Seeing Eye: Nothics can see invisible creatures and through illusions.  They can see the true forms of shapeshifters and the presence of magic.  They can also see in low-light and total darkness as if it was bright light or low light respectively.  Their vision is telescopic as well, allowing them to see as well as a hawk.  They can spot a field mouse skittering among the long grass from a tree across the street.  Additionally, when it comes to searching or finding things that could be detected by looking with your eyes, the Nothic receives a +6 to any roll made to such effect.

Quick Learner: Nothics can learn a creature's movement patterns and fighting styles by watching them.  Each round you are in combat with the Nothic, you get -1 to attack with that kind of weapon.  For example, if you attack with a sword, you get -1 to all attacks with swords against the Nothic.  This bonus increases by 1 per round for all combatants, unless the Nothic somehow cannot observe you.  Nothics can also gain this bonus by watching you fight someone else.      

Large Eye: Nothics have disadvantage on all saves made to resist being blinded.  Additionally, if they are in low-light or total darkness and are exposed to a bright light source, they are automatically blinded.

Agile Climber: Nothics are excellent climbers and escape artists.  They get +4 to any roll made to climb and +2 to any roll made to escape from restraints or shackles.  They are also strong enough to break low quality iron, such if a Nothic is lucky, it might just be able to rip its chains out of the wall and flee. 

Sense Lies: Nothics can sense deceit.  If someone lies in their presence, they can immediately tell that the statement is false.  Additionally, should a creature be keeping a secret of any kind, the Nothic can sense it, though the Nothic cannot tell what the secret is.

Tactics:
- Let your allies fight, observe the strongest warrior
- Take him out
- Observe second strongest fighter, repeat steps 1-3 as needed
- Retreat if tactically appropriate

artist unknown

To customize a Nothic, roll on the tables below:

How good of a manipulator is this Nothic?

1d4

1- Terrible.  The Nothic is too insane or too ignorant of human behavior to properly understand how humanoids think and feel.  It resorts to brute force and strong-arm tactics for that reason.
2- Okay.  The Nothic understands humanoids enough to use their weaknesses against them, but it is still unsubtle and obvious in its manipulation.
3- Good.  The Nothic is a smooth operator, able to easily trick the slow-witted or corrupt by manipulating their passions.
4- Consummate.  The Nothic is an expert on how humanoids think and act in particular circumstances, and is thus able to masterfully pull their strings without them even realizing what is going on.

How does the Nothic deal with normal humanoids (when it doesn't wish to reveal itself)?

1d6

1- The Nothic wears thick robes, gloves and a mask.  It claims to be horribly deformed or to have a disease (like a leper), thus giving people an excuse to avoid it.
2- The Nothic has a humanoid accomplice or servant who acts as the face, while the Nothic works behind the scenes.  Most people would assume the Nothic and the accomplice are the same person, but are sorely mistaken.
3- The Nothic breaks into people's homes and whispers to them from the darkness, where they cannot see it, or from some other location such as under their bed, in the closet, etc.  If this person has any children, they likely believe that a monster lives in the wine cellar.  The person might also believe the Nothic is some kind of evil spirit.
4- The Nothic communicates only through delivered letters, notes and other written communication.
5- The Nothic possesses a magical item that allows it to disguise itself.
6- The Nothic possesses a magical item that allows it to send messages to whoever it wishes, provided it meets some kind of condition.  For example, if the Nothic knows that person's true name or has something to link itself to that person.

What is the Nothic currently interested in?

1d6

1- Biology.  The Nothic is interested in obtaining fresh corpses for dissection or live subjects for experimentation.  It will pay.
2- Rare artifacts.  The Nothic is going to go explore some dangerous ruin to acquire something it thinks is hidden there, or perhaps you will do it, for a fee?
3- Old Books.  The Nothic is interested in a couple of rare books.  The only problem is that there are only a few copies, and all of them are hidden in the private collections of very powerful people or monsters.
4- A specific magical beast or type of beast.  The Nothic would like to study a 1dX [1= Chimera; 2= Dragon; 3= Giant; 4= Troll; 5= Orc; 6= Medictor.]  Alive would be ideal, but dead would also be acceptable.
5- Archeology.  The Nothic wants to go digging around in the dirt.  Unfortunately, the area the Nothic wants to dig in is 1dX [1= On the property of someone who is powerful and won't take kindly to intruders; 2= In the territory of a dangerous monster or tribe of savage humanoids; 3= In an area that is hazardous for some other reason- high in the mountains, in a desert; 4= Cursed or polluted by uncontrolled magic.]  But the Nothic is willing to pay handsomely if you will help it get there and help it find what it is looking for.
6- History and Geneology.  The Nothic is currently trying to trace a forgotten (or hidden?) bloodline, trying to locate some or all of the surviving heirs.

What will the Nothic offer you to spare it's life?

1d6

1- An iron bottle with a jeweled stopper.  If uncorked, the bottle releases a the creature contained within, causing it to appear in a plume of smoke.  The creature must obey the holder of the bottle, unless the bottle's holder willingly releases the creature, after which it is free.  The bottle will then be empty and can then be used to capture a new creature.  The bottle will also become empty if you kill the creature.  The way a creature enters the bottle is if it agrees to do so while near the open and empty bottle, or it fails 3 COG saves within 1 minute (can be forced to make 1 save per round as an action- 10 rounds equal 1 minute).  The bottle currently contains a bitter and very horny Succubus.
2- A pipe.  Allows you to, as an action, create items smaller than a horse out of smoke.  These items function as if they were solid, but disperse after 1 minute, or 1 round if it is windy.  All items created this way still look like they were made of pipe smoke.
3- 1d4+1 Zombie Arrows.  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.
4- A stone statue of a Lion.  The statue is about the size of a dog and quite heavy.  By speaking the command word, the statue will animate and obey any orders the owner gives it for 1 hour. The statue when animated has the same stats as a war dog, but can only be hurt by things that could harm a statue.  After an hour has passed or it is ordered to de-animate, it cannot be used until the next dawn.
5- The Potter's Ring.  Whoever wears this ring can mold and manipulate stone with their hands as if was wet clay, as long as they spend at least 1 minute probing, prodding and touching the stone.  Once the ring's wearer stops touching the stone, it regains the consistency and hardness of stone.
6- Zahara.  A famous magic sword, a Scimitar made of bronze that cuts the air and brings the wind.  The sword does 1d6+Atk magical sharp damage on a hit.  Whenever this sword is placed into a liquid, as an action, it can purify the liquid, transforming it into clean water and absorbing all other substances.  These harmful substances can be expelled as a free action, or if you injure a creature with the sword, you can inject that substance into the creature's body.  Depending on the substance, this could merely be annoying, harmful or deadly.  For example, if you stuck the sword in a jar of wine, it would absorb all the alcohol.  Any creature injected with the alcohol would be massively drunk and depending on size and strength, might pass out and could even potentially die of alcohol poisoning, depending on their constitution and the size of the jar.

Nothics do not always resort to black-mail, as it is not always necessary.  Sometimes they find that partnering with mortals or other beings is an equally effective solution.  Some Nothics attach themselves to organizations useful to them and lend their services to them, in exchange for information.  Other Nothics will choose to act as free-agents, lending their services to anyone who can pay.  They then use the coin they receive to acquire more information.  However, because of the nature of the Nothic as an abberation, usually the only organizations that will seek it's aid are underworld organizations, secret ones or those with ties to forbidden creeds, religions or movements- such as any of the countless Chaos Cults, the Red Brotherhood or the Minions of the Dark Powers.

Nothics are also known to collect magic items, treasure and art.  They do not actually value these, but instead use them to barter for information or to pay others to assist it in the Nothic's schemes.  If threatened with death, a Nothic will plead for its life and promise you riches in exchange for sparing it. 

Nothic Plot Hooks:

1d12

1- An official has been trying to have his agents infiltrate a criminal organization for some time, but all of his attempts have failed.  Finally, he hires you to find out how they keep finding his spies.  Secretly, the gang has employed a Nothic, who interviews all new recruits and asks them if they're actually spies.
2- Two rival families that have spent years tearing apart a tranquil city with their violence have suddenly and inexplicably stopped fighting.  The city's officials want to know why.  Investigate and be discreet.  Secretly, a Nothic has taken control of both family heads through the use of some very juicy information- that the son and heir of one family has deflowered the other's daughter.  For the former to avoid war and the latter shame, a peace had to be negotiated.  The Nothic has done this not out of goodwill, but because it needs something and the violence was interfering.  However, the center cannot hold and soon, inevitably, the violence will start again.  Besides all that, there is also the young couple, who are very oblivious to the greater implications of their fling.  The only thing they know is that they are desperately in love.
3- A beloved Sage has been performing dramatic and dangerous experiments, which have greatly angered the local populace.  They demand he be made to answer for the trouble he's caused.  The Sage has caused the trouble, but he is being held captive by a Nothic, who is demanding he perform these experiments.  The Sage is just making them flashier than necessary, in the hopes someone comes and rescues him.
4- A Nothic is performing an experiment but it needs a specific type of test subject from a specific group of people- perhaps those of a specific race, or age, or socio-economic status, or class or anything else the Nothic feels is important.  It will pay top dollar for test subjects.
5- As above, except someone is kidnapping people of a very similar type, such as female Lizarians between the ages of 14 and 19.  Find out who is doing this and why. 
6- The party need a very specific piece of information, but no one knows about it.  Then they hear about a mysterious dealer who trades in exotic curios and rare secrets.  This dealer is a Nothic, but to earn it's help, the party will have to do something dangerous, unpleasant or unsavory.
7- A Nothic has discovered one of the party's dirty secrets and black-mails them.  In exchange for the incriminating evidence, the Nothic wants them to retrieve a magic item from the horribly dangerous location where it was lost many years ago. 
8- The local oracle is angry that someone is cutting into his profits- someone else is giving advice and it is far cheaper than his.  Find out who this other person is and get rid of them, he doesn't care how.  Secretly, the oracle's competition is a Nothic, who is giving advice in exchange for juicy gossip and state secrets.  Unfortunately, the Nothic is being protected by some very powerful people, who have come to rely on its penetrating insight.
9- A very powerful man is being black-mailed by a Nothic.  He wants you to get rid of the Nothic, but because of shenanigans, he swore an oath not to harm the Nothic.  So he has to arrange a set of circumstances where you will come to the conclusion to kill the Nothic or recover the incriminating evidence by yourself.
10- As above, except the powerful man is a villain.  As long as the Nothic lives, he is restrained from acting.  So he wants to get rid of the Nothic and has hired assassins to kill it.  Keep the Nothic safe, at least long enough for someone to come up with a plan to stop him.  Or you could just try and kill him yourself.  Whatever you prefer.
11- The usually inept King has a new advisor who wears dark robes, hides his face and only visits him at night.  When this started happening, the King suddenly gained a lot of wisdom and now is able to effortlessly detect the machinations of his courtiers.  One of those courtiers hires you and orders you to get rid of the advisor, all for the good of the King, of course.
12- There are rumors going around of "The Listener" a pseudo-benevolent spirit who will tell you a secret, in exchange for similar information.  This "spirit" has become a folk legend, and has exposed many of the dirty and/or embarrassing secrets of the aristocracy.  The commoners love it, but the aristocrats are much less enthusiastic.  One of those aristocrats hires you to exorcise the Spirit and drive it out of town.  This is a mission made more difficult by the fact that the commoners will hinder your mission as much as they can, as they love the Listener.

by NobleCrumpet