Saturday, August 28, 2021

Kamadan - My Edition


Kamadan

Fearsome leopard, a mane of snakes sprouting from its shoulders
  • Breathes a sleepy miasma.
  • Drags slumbering victims back to its den to feast on dreams.
  • Attacks with claws, jaws, and fangs as a last resort.
  • Dream-pearls form round particularly indigestible dreams in its stomach. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Fiend Folio Review R-S

Here we go again! 


Retriever
A funky fellow, the different eye rays feel cobbled together, I would likely narrow the range of what they do if I reinterpreted, the spider aesthetic is good, cleaver arms used while the ray's are recharging good, all together I warmed up to this one a lot more on second reading. I adore this line, 'demons sometimes mount howdahs on the back of a retriever and ride the creature to the hunt' it pushed me over from being eh, to being yah! The name is odd tho, since it seems to come out from the singular line about being servants of demogorgon.

The Gallery: Art of Russ Nicholson: It needs to be said.. Some Fiend Folio  then

Revenant 
An undead with a purpose! Besides aimlessly shambling around. Silliness aside its nice to see an undead that comes back for matters of unfinished business, a classic staple of undead in folklore. The particularities about it being driven by sheer will power, and not necessarily being evil (and thus immune to turn undead) are wonderful and suggests that players can perhaps reason with it. Strangulation as method of choice, but being guileful enough to use other tactics. Retainment of some abilities from life. Just a solid entry all around.

Rothé
These are really just underground yaks but I like them regardless. Feels like something some medieval travelogueist would write about"'... and in the mountain caves there dwell short, yak like creatures that the locals do call rothé, which are shy beasts with an aversion to the rays of the sun...."

Sandman
I feel like you shouldn't be allowed to write a creature whose whole gist is putting you to sleep and then not have any weird dream adventures or mind eating happen. The Sandman could be great, but sadly falls extremely short here. I would steal its aesthetic and put it to better use.

Scarecrow
Bit of an odd one, but a decent monster. I enjoy that its 'charm' effect is one of fascination. Needs a bit more idea fuel and intractable elements for players.

Old School FRP — A screaming devilkin resembles a flying baby whose...

Screaming Devilkin
Is described as looking like a mephit. Art does not look like mephitic art (for the better I think, why have a entry that just looks exactly like another one). The pain howling screaming is rather neat in that it complete drowns out all player voices entirely. Yet another 'always attacks' monster though, disappointing if not crippling since it should provide for a fun one off combat encounter. 

Shadow Demon
It's just a demon themed evil shadow. Normal shadow weaknesses and strengths. Eh I'm just meh on it. Maybe someone else has a more favorable look at it.

Sheet Ghoul
.... how does corrosive nose acid tie into an evil bedsheet....
Well its a decent enough sub-monster to go with the sheet ghoul.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 269 | RPGnet  Forums

Sheet Phantom
Something tells me this and the scarecrow came from someones halloween one-shot. Its got a good combat gimmick going for it, attacks hurting its victims its draped over is a nice touch. The details about it perhaps being an undead form of cloaked are fascinating though bizarre and not to my tastes at all. Surprisingly I find myself giving this one a four out of five.

Shocker
Zap! Nice aesthetic, good abilities, lacking in behavior. I think it should have something more interesting to either do, or drop when dead. Give it an agenda, or a more unique treasure than gems. The 'others postulate the existence of an electromagnetic plane' line is good fun. Reminds me of the dune stalker, similar pulp sci-fi energy (in no small part due to the same artists illustrations).

A skeleton warrior resembles a lich, but is the undead form of a powerful  fighter dressed in remnants of fi… | Skeleton warrior, Old school, Black  and white artwork

Skeleton Warrior
Love this sucker, quality design right here. Could use streamlining like most of the entries (all this dross of ranges and what) I love the risk of losing the circlet and having the skeleton warrior straight up attack, as well if the warrior is being used by an opponent it creates further fun (I would be tempted to let the skeleton warrior communicate some way (perhaps writing?) to make for fun ethical dilemmas in controlling it). Their creation is a nice vague hook that could be nicely tied into a setting in some way or another. All in all one of my favorite entries.

Skulk
Fascinatingly weird entry, cuttlefish human sub species that hide from most society which will kill them if found out. Surprised no one has adopted this one for their edgy loner persecution characters (update: I have been informed they were a player race in 3e (?). This entry feels like it was written by anti-skulk bigots, 'their cowards who murder whole families in their beds!'. Fear-mongering the lot of it.

Slaad
Chaos frogs chaos frogs chaos frogs. I'm wobbly on the slaadi symbols/head jewels, on one hand it makes for a neat method of control/summoning beyond true names. On the other they shouldn't require specific spells to remove. Unfortunately, though I adore them, the actual slaad entries are a bit lacking in distinction and unique gimmicks being rather same-y. 

(also it bothers me that the entries are not in their hierarchal order but rather alphabetical).
(also also all the dross about different percentage chances of gating in other slaad types is neat but a bit clunky)

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Blue Slaad
The blue/red rivalry is nice. The blue slaad only having defensive psionic has interesting implications for the other slaad (though not really expounded upon). Besides that there's three meh spell-abilities (which I must say I greatly dislike, an entity should have any abilities shortened to spells be tied into their character, not just pegged on with no discernible ties to their theme/gimmick).

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Death Slaad (the lesser masters)
Four is quite a small number! I feel like they should have a more coherent aesthetic (perhaps with individual differentiation (like the nazgûl)) if their so powerful yet small a group. I'd enjoy grabbing onto the detail about swords and expanding upon it since most of the other slaad don't seem to use weapons (except in human form?) and the mental picture of a hulking frog with naught but a loincloth and massive sword (heheh) is a good one. More spell-ability lists... sigh.

Slaad - Wikipedia

Green Slaad
Sadly lacking in unique gimmick or abilities, instead having a pile of a spell list. The illustration makes me think some kind of bureaucrat/consular/merchant-ly sort. The bit about reincarnating as a blue slaad if killed I think should be expanded to all the Slaad reincarnating as a color lower when killed.

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Grey Slaad (the executioners)
Unfortunately not as evocative as the name, pretty eh all around, not much I can even spin off of. Its all essentially just 'they will have spells and maybe some magic items'.

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Red Slaad
Decently set up, has more aesthetic coherency than the bloated spell lists of the others. The pellet bit is weird though evocative, feels like it should either just be venom/poison or you should be able to try and dig out the pellet with a knife or whatnot. Details on a Wish spell allowing for forcing it into obediance but only with other spells is weird but I guess it made sense in the milieu of ad&d's rules.


Ssendam - Lord of the Insane (slaad lord)
Giant amoeba with a brain inside. Beautiful. The black sword is interesting (potentially could tie into the death slaadi swords if you went that route). Sadly another spell list. Interesting idea that he always gives his name, very arrogant announcement like I presume. I think this entry has a lack of solid coherency/vibes/personality but the giant amoeba form is neat enough so I'll bump it up to a three star.


Ygorl - Lord of Entropy (slaad lord)
Hrm, aesthetics feel out of wack with rest of slaad and ssendam. Always being in shadow is neat. Sickle is a neat enough signature weapon (though feeling out of place with the rest of the slaad again). Sigh... spell lists.... the dragon steed is cute.

Snyad (pestie)
Pretty neato, solid behavior, most of the aesthetic draw is owed to Russ Nicholson's art, suggested interaction with mites is fun, feels like you could fit it into a dungeon 'ecology' easily. Small thieving humanoids are rather generic (this could easily just be goblins if this is how you wanted to do goblins) but it sails by with just enough of its own uniqueness. 

Pin on Fiend Folios & Monster Manuals

Son of Kyuss
Excellent, could use some polish, cutting back of the ad&d dross and percentiles with disease infliction and what (its mostly just the intersection of the monster and ad&d rules which necessitates quantifying elements of the monster, so to be expected), but the base is sturdy as cement. Walking corpses full of worms that jump out at you to turn you into one of them. Probs one of the best undead, pity it doesn't see more use (that I know of). Specially since there's an excellent implied hook with the name.

Stunjelly
Ehhh, it's not bad? Its kind of just another tricksy ooze variant but it is sort of unique, disguising itself as a wall and paralyzing then trying to envelope. But its just a variation upon the basic gist of a translucent gelatinous cube  (which is mentioned in the very entries text). I might be being too harsh on it.

Sussurus
Fascinating entry here, another one with pulp sci-fi vibes. The dronesong effect on undead is neat, unexpected, and potentially very very gamible for players. Attacking oxygen consuming flame is also a nice touch that forces players to figure out how to interact with this beastie. I would love to throw this in as a random encounter in a bit of a gonzo game. It'd feel at home in the ultraviolet grasslands. 


Svirfneblin (deep gnome)
I found myself liking these fellows surprisingly, the excellent illustration helps, as well as several interesting tidbit such as their stun-gas darts (an excellent mental image there, of short underground folks flinging darts which explode in puffs of colored smoke). I like also, the mention of having to pay hefty bribes to escape earth elementals. But besides bits I can string out into more interesting features, most of the entry is decent at best. Lots of percentiles for things, some okay behaviors, more spell abilities, etc.

Symbiotic Jelly
A very d&d monster, existing within the context of treasure hoards and monster killing to acquire them. I personally don't like it, but it's a fairly solid monster as written. With a clear motivation, and some decently interesting tactics to achieve thereof with its charming of monsters and illusions of treasure and weakness.

My analysis so far has been rather slapdash, but if there's one thing Im hitting on it's the importance of a Gimmick for any entity. That being of course a combination of aesthetics, behavior, and abilities all tied up in a core idea of the creature which can be spun out and extrapolated upon. 

The Skeleton Warrior is a good entry because it has a solid gimmick with its control circlet, skeletal demeanor, and desire for freedom. The Green Slaad is a poor entry because it doesn't have solid gimmick, just a generic list of spell abilities. And so on and so forth.

We're getting near the homestretch!

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Grenadier - GLOG Class


Class: The Grenadier


Burly and dexterous. The only two requirements for a grenadier. That and guts enough to be first over the wall hurling explosive death left and right. Just don't cut your fuse too short. It'd be a pity having to pick all your bits up.

Starting Items: Sack Of Grenades, Slowmatch, Buff Coat (as leather), Sidesword, Fancy Cap

Starting Skill: 1) Siege-works 2) Clout 3) Scrambling 4) Parade

A - Lobber, Close-Quarters
B - Perfect Timing
C - Fierce Figure
D - Blast-proof

Lobber

Barring major mishap, hurled projectiles always land more or less where you mean to throw them.

Close Quarters

You are adept at the tussle and grapple of fighting in ditches, tunnels, and battlements. Tight spaces present no challenge to you in combat.

Perfect Timing

Your fuses are cut to the precise second, you know just when to throw that bomb. When it comes to timing things you are flawless.

Fierce Figure

You cut a ferocious look, spark spitting grenade in one hand, wickedly sharp sword in the other, and a smoldering smile beaming out from under powder burns and rubble dust. Common soldiers and such cutthroats must check morale upon your entrance.

Blast-Proof

You can shrug off any explosion with a cough, groan, and minor singeing. What doesn't instantly splatter you makes you tougher after all.


Optional Grenade Rules

Roll on the hand grenade throwing table then roll for damage.

Hand Grenade - (2d6, blast)

Throwing Table - (2d6)
2 : explodes in your hand
3 : drop it in front of you
4 : lands short
5-9 : on target more or less
10 : lands long
11 : gets thrown back
12 : dud/fuse goes out

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Miscreated Creatures Review


Today is a review of Nick LS Whelan's Miscreated Creatures (of which I was graciously given a pdf copy) a monster book of some forty seven pages and twenty unique entities. 

How it shall go is that I'll give each entry an x out of five star rating then describe my thoughts...

 1 star - abysmal, I detest it
 2 star - meh and lacking 
 3 star - decent enough but doesn't capture me personally
 4 star - quite good but could use some tweaks
 5 star - perfect as is 

With that let's begin! 

Overall Thoughts

The book suffers most (in my opinion, I tend to value conciseness) from the often rather lengthy backstories filled with names that don't really matter or mean anything to the reader and which occasionally make it tricky to fit things into a world. However, the style still has its charms and broadly I found none of the entires to be terrible, at worst they were decently made and I personally just didn't find them inspiring. 

The 'mechanical' segments for each entity which describes its behaviors in various circumstances is one of the strongest elements I find and a readily pillagible template for anyone writing their own monster manual-esq construction.

Piece By Piece Breakdown


Voice of Despair
Starting off strong we've got a necromantic herald. I adore the aesthetics at play here of the slithering femur bone chain construct with stretched leather face flanked by skeletal minions. If one is not inclined to use the dark arbiter its a fairly easy matter of assigning the creature some other overlord. Combat wise things are excellently dynamic, with skeletal minions, and various unique ways the Voice acts (I particularly like that it will burrow and hide in soft soils if it can, emerging later). As well, while the Voice doesn't have too many motivations of its own, its got enough personality to make a decent and enticing social encounter. 

Tungle
Another strong entry, a bit of a backstory (a running theme we'll see, not exactly superfluous as it lends to understanding the creature, but the players are unlikely it interacts or find out its exact origins) and a wonderfully soldi base. Strange pathetic little tangle of flesh that hates people and attacks them with shadow puppets. The behaviors it employs and the nature of the shadows make for delightfully dynamic combat. I quite like that it defaces corpses, funny, telling of its personality, and an excellent tell for its presence. 

Tribunal
Aesthetically the Tribunal doesn't quite do it for me and its backstory is a bit convoluted. Normally I would fit a more cosmically strange/ethereal creature in for arbiter of ancient outdated cosmic laws, however my aesthetically predilections aside its well made. Presenting a strongly social encounter players must navigate. Its given a crap toon of abilities that make it a beast in combat because it's supposed to be a titanic lizard thing of death that serves god's will which I think has the pleasant effect of encouraging parley at low levels, much like a dragon. Once again minions are at play, always good those. And I quite enjoy the trio aspect of its personality, makes conversations more fun. Making the tribunal so incredibly hard to kill does feel a might bit overkill in some regards but I think since most of the 'overkill' bits would generate more opportunities for play (like servants of god coming to retrieve and revive its body) it works.

Sweaty Fingers
Well that illustration makes me visceral uncomfortable (in a good way) arrogant, self obsessed, greasy essentially just humans. Thematically strong though I would have liked some more social organizations or peculiarities to add some oomph. As it stands they feel like aesthetically/thematically reskinned humans. Good but not great. Needs just a bit more. 

(Minor sidenote: I think the language around 'narcissism' for the entry could change since in reality people with NPD aren't automatically evil terrible people and one does not need to posses empathy to behave like a good person. Some quick language changes should work like swapping empathy for compassion. Since narcissism is more colloquial known I don't think this is the big of showstopper, just a thought) 

Sprat
Now this is a wizard-did-it combination horror done right, I'd honestly put this right up there with owlbears and it fits delightfully in with them, filling a 'pack hunting magical abomination' where owlbears fill a 'giant brute' position. The list of diseases to be inflicted is a delight with each one being quite evocative and creative (though rather terminal at times) and their behavior is well fleshed out with several tantalizing hooks and implications that can be expounded upon in play.

Pacifist
A good encounter but somewhat tricky to incorporate, I wonder if allowing them to be summoned by wizard types and like would prove more utilitous. Things get interesting looking at the list of potential weapons stuck in it, as it shows a hypocrisy in the creature. As well, I can see a good deal of fun coming out of players and their opponents arguing back and forth trying to convince the creature which side it should fight for.

Muldar
These otherworldly game pieces don't really do it for me as an entry, I think you could have fun with them in a game, perhaps as a weird encounter in some gonzo world, but I don't think there's enough interactivity or inspiration to justify a full padded out entry. Would work better as smaller one paragraph thing. That said it's not a bad entry, just not justifying itself in my opine.

Medimisiac
Possibly my favorite, a fucked up possessed corpse in a coffin that drags itself along murdering doctors by sinking them into the ground till they suffocate alive. Amazingly solid vibes, unique combat, I think the only improvement I would suggest is that the medimisiac should ask for doctors in a broken sort of way, to give players a hint of what it's after and generate some interaction (and give em a 'oh shit' moment if they pass the creature and later hear about healers being murdered) All together I love the creature.

Mechanoman
An excellent one off encounter it does make, arriving in a blaze of chaos with a clear mission. But I have trouble imagining how to use it scenarios beyond showing up, wrecking shit, and then being defeated/leaving without getting rather creative and straying from the text. All together however I can see myself dropping this fellow into a game and just running with it. Chrononauts with missions are always a delight.

Marionetteer
A neat backstory (though it could be pared down to 'the lonely, purposeless construction of a wizard') with a strong aesthetic. Behavior is well defined though not particularly generative of hooks on its own (I think it would make for a good encounter when thrown into a dungeon however where its friendly nature would make it an excellent potential ally faction among others). Also I want to give the marionetteer a hug. Poor thing needs friends.

Lizunders
I really like the idea here, however it doesn't grab me. Much like with the Muldar the basic premise is good, but much of the entry feels like padding, it could easily be condensed down and maintain evocativeness. 

Giant Tiddy
What it says on the tin :P Very strong personality and aesthetics. Minions are always great, and the method through which the tiddy tries to make the players dependents makes for some excellent roleplaying potential. Its death effects area nice capstone touch. Might be tricky to incorporate into a setting but if you're building things with the intent of putting this thing in your all good. Solid entry.

Gevono
The backstory is rather overwrought with specific names and what not, but the premise is solid. A being invisible to god should play delightfully if you can work it into your world. Her interaction with her followers is also excellent, with many simply following her chaos to loot and kill at their whim. Aesthetically I don't quite vibe with her but the spiral of arms is an excellent start, and tearing enemies limb from limb is deliciously brutal. I like her death throes that turns her into a singularity. 

Flip-Face
Combination personalities are always good fuel for games. The theme of abandoned art is delightful but I don't feel that flip-faces features tie into the subject too well. It would be cool if it like mustard unfinished works of art to attack or it followed its purpose and opened up before clamping onto peoples faces suffocating them. Funnily Flip-Face feels like a pokemon to me.

Faithful Progeny
It took me two read-throughs to grasp these fellows, and I do enjoy the premise but eh, feels like another case of a good idea padded out with not a lot of interaction. Funnily enough they feel a fit for UVG, retuning the wisps to be psychic ghosts of these ancient monuments and fitting the progeny's hatred for humans into UVG's whole diversity of peoples makes it work much better I think. 

Dynamite Lady
My favorite after the medimisiac, magically created assassin driven by a sulfurous heat who relentlessly hunts down target and explodes afterward is just such a solid package, and wonderfully easy to drop into a game world. The 'fan cult' that follows the dynamite lady around is also an excellent touch, I know exactly how to characterize those and they add further dynamism to dealing with this entity. Sole critique is that I personally don't particularly like the art for this entry. Otherwise fantastic.

Dave
Always here for clones, the tables are useful, facilitating easy generation of a bunch of different Dave's. The entry does lack a bit of a coherent hook, leaving matters rather up to the reader but in this case I don't think its to bad since its presented as a more tangible mystery. (perhaps I am biased however, as I find a clone army of Daves funny).

Buzz Swarmington Esquire 
An excellent example of how juxtapositions makes for more memorable, unique, and dynamic entities. Rot, filth, and decay but with the sensibilities of aristocracy. Swarmington is well set up for easy placement as a faction, strong goals, methodology, and personality. It would be quite simple to toss him into a world prime for interaction with players. I particularly like that his goals are transformative, so properly played along he could have substantial impact in a game. (also he feels like a good fit for an electric bastion land game).

Baby Thief
A very evocative and rightly creepy creature, but even with the generous backstory I found myself having difficulty imagining using it in play without substantial effort into incorporating it. Theres not much intractability I find. I think that in the hands of someone who 'got' this entry it could make for some good game play, but alas I am not that. The entry is solid in its aesthetics, behavior, and theme however.

Automated People Pruner
This is one of the entries that is decently crafted, but rather odd to fit into a world. Its behavior provides for an interesting encounter (made further interesting by its malfunction) but the backstory is an odd fit since it implies much but there's little for players to find out. If one were doing a quite gonzo world it could work decently as a random encounter, but I think it needs some more hooks. Running it with a more alien morality system could be fun.

***

Overall my personal favorites were the Medimisiac, Tungle, Sprat, Dynamite Lady, Voice of Despair, and Buzz Swarmington Esquire. With several runners up. Its a solid book overall definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Achaierai - My Edition


Achaierai

Devil bird possessing a spherical head-body atop four mighty legs
  • Brought up from some infernal realm long ago by onerous summonings. 
  • Moves with long, speedy strides.
  • Attacks with its clawed legs each one as tough as a bull.
  • Its soft head-body is held high above most blows, and its legs are metallic.
  • In dire straits it vents a cloud of caustic black smoke and flees.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

King Of Cats

Why Medieval Cats Look Like… That | by Rae Paoletta | Tenderly

King Of Cats

Feline potentate, ruler of all cats domesticated and wild. Your words are law, your declarations fact, your paw iron. Not that that means much, cats being an unruly bunch with little regard for authority.

Meine: Arrogant (moreso than most cats)
Items: Big ol' Fancy Crown 

Loyal Retainers
  1. A one eyed calico, cunning in strategy and war, your general.
  2. A treasure hoarding hairless, your master of coin.
  3. Chubby black cat, your lethargic master of assassins and secrets.
  4. Sweet looking tabby cat able to win anyone over, your propaganda minister.
  5. The dog, a grinning fool and traitor come to serve you.
  6. The human, your long suffering royal advisor.
Grand Agendas
  1. Construct a palace of great comfort and many high places to perch. 
  2. Bring low the arrogant lions, show them their place beneath your kingship.
  3. Wage war on the Lord of Birds and his subjects.
  4. Illegalize the foul drug catnip.
  5. Destroy your rival, the Rat King.
  6. Aquire funds to fuel your decadent lifestyle of belly-rubs and fine fish.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Dark Creeper - My Edition


Dark Creeper

Short, light hating thieves hidden under many-layered cloaks, turbans, and wraps
  • Are greatly pained by bright light and will whisper a spell to extinguish all lamps, torches, and fires near them when going about their thievery.
  • Kill only when necessary, preferring to 'repossess' desired items by subtler means, if forced into violence they will freely employ hit and run tactics and the numerous magical items they have acquired.
  • Hide stolen matchboxes, pilfered magical trinkets, and other items in their copious pockets.
  • Violently combust upon death.
An odd people from the far-off City of Dreams. Can be found in small cadres pursuing esoteric agendas for their shadowy masters. Sporadically work with others if it suits their purposes but prone to suddenly abandoning allies. Occasionally one might meet their agents hunting a rogue cadre.