Archive for the ‘Beings’ Category

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New Monster – Stone Soldiers

20 October, 2020

Before fully manifestingWhile called stone soldiers, these elemental beings draw from the surrounding area and replicate what in nearby for their form, be that earth, stone or wood, if there are equal amounts of such material around the summoner can choose which material they form from.

They are tied to the spirits of soldiers of the past, gaining instinctive insights into tactics well beyond that of most elementals and appearing in the forms of such soldiers with the apparent armor and actual weapons of such. Without other instruction they will fall back on their historic tactics and seek to continue their half remembered duties.

For D&D 5E: Stone Soldier

Medium elemental, neutral

Armor Class 14 (or 16 with shield, see below)

Hit Points 47 (5d8+25)

Speed Walk 25ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 8 (-1) CON 20 (+ 5) INT 6 (-2) WIS 10 (+ 0) CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Str + 5

Skills Athletics +5, Perception +2

Damage Vulnerabilities thunder

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons

Damage Immunities poison

Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages One known and chosen by the Summoner, Terran

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Formation Fighter
The stone soldiers are used to fighting as a unit and when adjacent to another stone soldier, may use the help action for a adjacent stone soldier as a bonus action. They also gain advantage on Wisdom and Charisma saving throws when in a formation with at least two other stone soldiers.

Soldier’s Soul
A stone soldier gains one of the following fighting styles:

Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon. These stone soldier appear with weapon and shield.

Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit. These stone soldier appear with two-handed weapons, usually polearms.

Actions

The stone soldier makes two weapon or slam attacks.

Melee Weapon. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, by weapon (note soldier’s soul ability above)

Ranged Weapon. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage (for earth or stone) or piercing (for wood). Range 20/60.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

The statistics above are for an earthen warrior, a stone warrior has -5 foot speed but +1 Armor Class and a wooden warrior has +5 foot speed and +2 Dexterity and disadvantage on saving throws against fire.

For Pathfinder: Stone Soldier CR 3

XP 800
N Medium elemental (earth)
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +7

DEFENSE

AC 17, touch 9, flat-footed 17 (–1 Dex, +8 natural) may have a shield as well (see below)
hp 34 (4d10+12)
Fort +7, Ref +0, Will +4
Immune elemental traits, DR 3/Magic, Formation Fighter

OFFENSE

Speed 25 ft.,
Melee by weapon (see below) or slam +9 (1d8+7) or ranged +3 (1d6+5), Range Increment 30 ft. (thrown)

STATISTICS

Str 20, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 11
Base Atk +4; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Cleave, Improved Bull Rush[B], Power Attack
Skills Appraise +2, Climb +10, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +3, Perception +7, Stealth +3
Languages One known and chosen by the Summoner, Terran

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Formation Fighter (Ex)
The stone soldiers are used to fighting as a unit and when adjacent to another stone soldier, may use the aid another action for a adjacent stone soldier as a free action. They also gain a +2 morale bonus on Will saves when in a formation with at least two other stone soldiers.

Soldier’s Soul (Ex)
A stone soldier gains one of the following fighting styles:
Sword and Shield, gaining the following bonus feats: shield focus and weapon focus in the weapon they are summoned with.
Two-handed Weapon, gaining the following bonus feats: great cleave and weapon focus (weapon they are summoned with)

The weapon they are summoned with is considered to be masterwork but only in the hands of a stone soldier.

The statistics above are for an earthen warrior, a stone warrior has -5 foot ground speed but +1 Natural Armor and a wooden warrior has +5 foot speed, +2 Dexterity and -2 Natural Armor.

Notes: To be summoned/created by Soldier Stones. And finally an actual new monster for this October!

Photograph of some of the Lewis Chessmen from the British Museum collection found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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New Monster – StagWolf (for D&D 5E)

12 July, 2020

Oh, it is just some deer.  Wait!  There is something wrong.  Look at that muzzle and tail.  Oh no.  Run!  Just run!  Stagwolves!

Stags! Or StagWolves?StagWolf
Medium monstrosity (chimeric), unaligned

Armor Class 13

Hit Points 54 (8d8+16)

Speed Walk 55ft.

STR 17 (+ 3) DEX 17 (+ 3) CON 15 (+2) INT 6 ( -2) WIS 14 (+ 2) CHA 12 ( +1)

Saving Throws Dex + 5, Con + 5,  Wis + 4

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +5

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Appear Harmless: A casual glance will perceive the stagwolf as just a simple stag. A Will save (DC 12) will dispel the harmless guise.

Farm Animals are Fabulous.  The stagwolf prefers to dine on domesticated animals, especially sheep and cattle, gaining advantage on any roll to pursue or find them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Unliving and Unbound (A to Z)

24 April, 2020

Plague spiritThings that were living and now are not but are still animate, in the Sea of Stars, are referred to as the Unliving.  There are a surprising number of them in some places, as Necrourgists (such as those in the High Kingdom of Laccini) are found of using their death magic to provide these once-living shells with an animating spark of energy torn from dark places, if not properly controlled, these sparks come with touch of malevolent cunning, not true intelligence, but dangerous if not watched and controlled.

Other effects can cause the dead to walk (and hunger): odd magic from the sundering, the residue of dead gods, alchemical runoff and more.  A few few of the unliving predate the Sundering and a few of those have ways of creating more of their kind.  But they are careful how they use such, knowing that if they are too obvious the dragons will swoop in and destroy them all.

The Unbound are those spirits no longer ties to their body, thus unbound from them, yes unable to make the transition through the shadowed lands to judgement beyond.  Many are tormented, seeking revenge or to complete a task left undone, while a few are simply lost.  Setting them to rest may be simple or easy depending on the nature of the spirits, making work for exorcists and ghost hunters.

The Church of the Sun, like their patron, has a visceral hatred of the Unliving and a harsh pity for the Unbound, seeking to destroy or banish them whenever encountered.

Notes:  Renaming things to suit your world / setting in important, it makes it more yours see (also Hollows and Hellions).  Also, I find the term “undead” wearing at this point, overused.  Of course, the challenge is getting your players to adopt the new terms.

Image An allegory of malaria. Reproduction of an engraving after M. Sand. Maurice Sand. Wellcome Collection license CC BY.

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Salt and Serpents (A to Z)

22 April, 2020

So much can be made from thisBefore the Sundering, on one corner of the world, there was a civilization of serpent people who followed the goddess Ypisara, goddess of salt, serpents and fishes.  Ypisara gave herself up to the Dragon Empress to save her people and the Empress adopted the serpent folk as her own, placing them and their lands under Imperial protection.

The Ypisaran culture is unusual as it uses salt to make many things that other societies used metal or stone for, reinforcing the structure of that brittle material with secret techniques, alchemy and magic.  The Ypisarian blades and scale armor made of hardened salt are the most well known, most weapon collector have at least one Ypisarian knife or sword in their possession and the weaponsmiths of the serpent people manage a good trade in weapons purely for collectors and tourists.

The houses of the Ypisarians are mostly made of blocks of hardened salt making them glow and glitter in the sunlight, it is a spectacular sight but painful to the eyes of those not adapted to such glare.  Visitor expecting the houses to melt in the rare rains will be disappointed but the brief moment when the sun first strikes the wet surfaces of the houses and bathes them in rainbow light for just a few seconds before the water begins to steam away.

What were once the Temples of Ypisara have been converted into government building or palaces for the Empress and, while worship of Ypisara as a god is banned, worship of her as an ancestor is allowed and her image show up in many household shrines, though less commonly in public ones.

The serpent folk, even before the Sundering, are mostly content to keep to themselves.  Rarely one will enter Imperial service or decide to travel but they are rare in the wider world.

Notes:  Bending back to some themes I had wished to explore further.

Image Kosher Salt, Creator stlbites.com, License CC by-nd 2.0

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Pets and Privilege (A to Z)

19 April, 2020

What animals can you find?Dragons, unsurprisingly, considered themselves at the top of the pyramid of beings in the Sea of Stars, all other creatures and beings are lesser things who should acknowledge the greatness of the dragons.  For some dragons, they do this by collecting pets of various types, the rarer and more dangerous the better.

Such creatures as wolves, bears, lions are the usually basic pets, dragons are drawn to their fellow predators.  But many seek far more dangerous, more impressive creatures to have as pets, dragon dogs, hell hounds, octo-cats, mothlions.  But only the most self-confident and domineering risk the most dangerous of pets, scythe-tails, hydra, manticore, creatures with both powers and rudimentary intelligence, ones that could actually pose a potential danger even to a dragon.

While other dragons take amusement in treating humanoids as pets.  Those that do like humans and visse are preferred for their shorter lifespans (compared to dwarves and elves) and often delight is dressing them in outlandish costumes.  Such pet are expected to excel at performances of various sorts to entertain their “owner” and guests.

Then, of course, there is the rare dragon that simply become obsessed with a particular kind of creature: horses, turtles, finches.  They spend their time managing, breeding and seeing that their pets are properly cared for.

This is all part of the status of dragons, they are above every law except Imperial Law.  Only dragons can judge other dragons.  From there on down, people are judged by their peers or superiors, nobles judge their own kind and those beneath them.  Some groups are outside of these chains, the Church of the Sun has its own hierarchy which is usually allowed to police itself, Guilds have their own rules and regulations, trying to keep everything in house.  As is usual, it is those on the bottom rugs who have little support or influence in the systems that dominates their life.

Notes: Caught up!  More ideas for adventures and things that people can be searching for (and a reason to try and capture monster rather than just kill them).  For more on the Imperial Judiciary here.

Image A zoo with giraffes, tigers, and a peacock. Coloured lithograph. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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Oceans and Oreads (A to Z)

18 April, 2020

The oceans of the islands of the Sea of Stars reacted differently to Sundering:

To sail upon the seasSome (such as where the Gate City of Caracosa is) just poured away, leaving nothing behind nothing but salt encrusted wasteland.

On others, the ocean just pours away, endlessly, impossibly, the level of the island’s ocean never dropping.  It is a magnificent sight, for this brave enough to witness it.

Lastly, on a few, the edge of the ocean just stops at the edge of the island, the waters held back by some invisible force.  Occasionally a fish or other sea creature will wriggle through . . . and plunge to its death.  Some fishermen will use platforms lowered down the edge of the ocean to harvest fish and other things from the depths.

The spirits of the oceans, such as the Neriads, are equally shattered and scattered by this and have never fully recovered from the Sundering and the loss of their patron gods.

Their relative spirits of the mountains, the Oreads, have fared much better as they were more aligned to particular places.  Even if a mountain range was divined among multiples islands, very few of the actual mountains were lost.  Though they too lost their divine patrons, most have avoided the eyes of the dragons and have found ways to work with the peoples of their lands, accepting token worship and actual sacrifices in exchange for aiding the communities.  A few have gone so far as to establish hidden and illegal cults around themselves or lead secret societies dedicated to try to restore the gods.

Notes: Two very separate ideas but I was able to find some connective tissue between them.

Photo (sv) Övning i rodd i en av m/s GOLDEN OCEANs livbåtar på Haifas redd 1952 (sv) Sjöhistoriska museet. Public Domain Mark.

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Hollows and Hellions (A to Z)

9 April, 2020

Sometimes things just need a name change to fit into a world better.  For the Sea of Stars, that is the renaming of Golems to Hollows and Tieflings to Hellions.

A larger than usual wooden hollowHollows, the art of creating the illusion of life from inanimate objects is one that exists in the Sea of Stars, such creatures are usually called Hollows as they lack souls and often any sort of intelligence simply being bound to perform repetitive tasks.  (One can make an argument that an animated being with sentience but not souls are not actually Hollow, but that is the realm of philosophy.)

The dwarves in particular delight in the construction of complex hollows of metal, sometimes animated with clockwork and magic, other times purely with magic, and animated stone statues using bound elementals or powerful enchantments.  The elves have a tradition of filling the ranks of their armies with hollow soldiers made of carved wood or animated plants, the elves always having been loath to risk their lives in the “push of pikes” and even more so since the Sundering.  Human wizards and craftspeople have worked to build all sorts of hollows but flesh and clay are among their more common materials. The Sen’tek seek to use complex clockwork and spring, supplemented with a minimum of magic, to make tools to aid them in their never ending war to overthrow Dragonkind.

Necrourgists seek to improve their legions of the dead though the creation of hollows of flesh and bone, less prone to the whims of the evil spirits attracted to most animation of the dead but far more complex to create and bring to “life”.  Priests and Priestess seek ways to animate their temple’s guards, but as this often involved binding spirits into them, they are not truly hollow.

Hellions, are those whose lineage has, at some point, had the blood of beings from what are called “the lower realms”.  Unpredictably, such a heritage expresses itself through odd eyes, strange skin, even horns, a tails or odd appendages (claws, cloven hooves for feet, usw).  Ties to such physical expression are various magical power than are rarely as well controlled as the possessor of such would wish.

Notes: The word Golem has a very particular cultural source, so a word more unique to the Sea of Stars is good.  While Tiefling is a pure D&Dism and really should not be used outside of those worlds and I have never much cared for it in any case while Hellion has a nice history of use.  So, rename things to suit your world, it will take some time for people to adjust but it is worth it, as least, I think it is.

Photo Green Man Sculpture, Creator Nicholas Smale, License CC by 2.0

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Gems and Gender (A to Z)

8 April, 2020

So shinyWhile gems and gender do not seem to have much in common, they are examples of one thing that dragons care much about, gems, and one they care very little about, gender.

Dragons enjoy anything valuable,be it knowledge, art or precious metals and gems, but the precious metals and gems, the elements of a classic hoard are very important.  The spiritual energy of the draconic “soul” resonates with and is reflected by gems and precious metals, producing soothing harmonies and pleasant dreams.  The “songs” are sweeter and the dreams more pleasant if the gems are cut and the metals are worked.

Gender, as a construct, matters not at all to dragons.  While biological sex matters, somewhat, in matters of reproduction, dragons perceive things purely as a matter of dominance, the sex or gender of the dominant partner is irrelevant, all that matters is who is dominant.  Dragons treat others in the same way, the important fact is that the dragon’s dominance is acknowledged and others are submissive to them.  They expect people to do what the dragons want them to do and have little patience with societal rules that say people with these bits cannot do that or people with those bits must do this if it gets in the way of what the dragon wants done.  Though as very few dragon care to manage the societies they rule that closely, most continue to follow whatever model they had before the Sundering, only slowly changing.

Even in humanish form, the dragons tend to follow the same model, dominance is the key and people should do what they are good at to bring greater wealth and glory to their draconic overlord.  Some dragons indulge in pleasures of the flesh while in humanish form, and while some dragon prefer sexual partners of one biological sex or another, most those that enjoy such things are sexual omnivores.

Notes: Just a pair of thing I wanted to discuss that fitted under today;s letter.  The Sea of Stars is a very different world from ours in places.

Photo IMG_1223.JPG, Creator pwarne, used with License CC by-nc 2.0.

 

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Dogs and Dragons (A to Z)

4 April, 2020

Dragon/DogThe dragons rule the Sea of Stars with an iron grip, from the Empress on down through the Draconic Houses and down to their clients and servants.  It is a truism among the peoples of the Sea of Stars that the dragon are best though of as extremely powerful cats, selfish, lazy, enjoy toying with their prey and exceedingly deadly if provoked.  But many have an affinity towards dogs as well, finding their unhesitating loyalty charming and relaxing.

Many dragons have taken to breeding dogs, as a hobby, being able watch the evolution of a line is very interesting for some dragons.  Shaping life in a direct way, often mingling dragon blood with that to make them stronger and tougher.  Dragon dogs, as these breeds have become known, have become widely dispersed throughout the Sea of Stars.

Mechanically these are dogs or wolves with the Dragon Descendant (Pathfinder) or Dragon Descendant (D&D 5E) template some obviously have dragon blood with visible scales and talons other seems just to be normal dogs with sharper eyes.  But thieves and assassins have learned to be exceptional careful around dogs.

Notes: I will try and update this with a Dragon Descendant template for D&D 5E soon.  Dragon Dogs have been around since one of the very earlier adventures in the Sea of Stars.  Barbarians should use it as an exclamation.

Photo December Creator rickcameron License CC by-nc-nd 2.0

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Giant-Blooded, descendants of the Giants for D&D 5E

29 March, 2020

The Giant-Blooded

Sometimes it pays to be bigIn the Sea of  Stars, there are no humanoid monster races such as orcs and goblins (for reasons discussed here) but there are still giants, not many, but some and some of them have had human lovers and their bloodline survives in a diluted form among many of their descendants.

Giantblooded Traits

Your giant-blooded character has certain traits deriving from your distant giant ancestry.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Empowered by your giantish blood, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You cannot discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Age. The giant-blood mature as humans. They age as humans but often have a slightly longer lifespan if their violent lifestyle does not catch up with them sooner.

Alignment. The gaint-blooded are often loners, finding themselves outsiders wherever they go.

Size. The giant-blooded are useually somewhat larger and bulkier than humans, and they range from 5 to well over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Giantish.

Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.

Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You cannot use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Strong Attacks. When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

They may also select one Giantish Trait:

Blood of the Elements, the giant-blooded chooses an elemental damage type (acid, cold, fire, lightning or thunder) and gains resistance to it.
Hard Hands, the Giant-blooded unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage and if unarmed or without a shield or weapon in their off-hand, they gain a +1 bonus to armor class.
Home in Nature, choose one terrain type and ignore the penalties for moving through difficult terrain in that terrain and gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception and Survival) rolls in that terrain.

Notes: Half-orcs are actually an interesting option in D&D 5E so I wanted players to have access to similar option for characters in the Sea of Stars, but had to work around that whole “no orcs” thing.  Luckily, I had already done the Giant-Blooded for Pathfinder.

Image: Poster: London Pavilion : Giant Constantin. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

 

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