Sunday, March 19, 2023

monsters from the monster manual i haven't done

I grew up on the AD&D 2e monster manual so I'll do that one!


Well, they would have to be evil degenerates. Bird-men that live on rain-streaked mountain-tops and tear apart travelers. Drop from high peaks. Vulture heads to bury in guts. If they have magic, it's blood magic. They have no culture or society but they are highly intelligent. It's just, they can fly, so they've chosen a better path.


Christ. My first thought is this would probably be a one-off NPC, but I've already done that with a mantis-man. Maybe I can just change the things I dislike? Ok... Instead of agricultural land and forests, they infest neglected quarters of cities, castles, fortresses, anywhere where people are close not being attentive enough. They don't burrow but they do fit into really narrow spaces, but they're still big, so when they unfurl from the gap between the walls it's like, how was that fitting in there?? I guess I'm thinking cockroach. The acid spit is good, like can dissolve NPCs into bloody goo. 


What even is this? Blue giants with multi-jointed fingers in ROBES? Oh my god, dimensional traveling merchants. So they're supposed to be alien. That really won't do, but I guess the core of it is gigantic blue merchants, which isn't entirely out of the question. A really big blue guy who just kind of appears in a dungeon and offers to sell some black-market stuff, and goes invisible because he's a coward. The issue is I've already filled that role -- I had a notorious blue sorcerer a while back, and I've got a dimensional traveling merchant who appears when a special candle is lit. 

The other way to go with this is to say, no they're not merchants, but they are a race of eighteen-foot blue people from outer space... Okay I give up.


This picture is awesome. Put this guy in an empty room and we're good to go. Okay what needs to change... Levitate/fly, no. Smell like flowers, no, they smell like rotting meat. Carry gear in their bodies, no, they're not intelligent but they do wield weapons. This little mini-game with the eye-powers is really bad though. If they need eye-powers, just have them shoot lasers out of all their eyes at once in a horrible super-attack that slices everyone up in a 10' radius, otherwise all they need to do is chomp and poke.


Please... This dipping into the AD&D obsession with just slapping a few extra pairs of legs on an animal and making it really big. They eat gold? I don't know... This whole thing about the aurumvorax economy and market has gotta go. I do kind of like the idea of a pure gold and highly malicious giant badger that eviscerates everyone who comes after it. It's really valuable and really magical but it's so aggro that no one's been able to get it. Gold stained with blood is good aesthetic. 


Okay, the baatezu. The only time this word has ever worked for me was in the specific context of Baldur's Gate, when it was describing a specific kind of demon in a specific world. In my game, they are only called demons, and people tend to call anything they're scared of demons. As for real demons, most of the demons out in the world are incomprehensible and reality altering. Anyway, the baatezu.

Pit Fiend

I don't think I've ever done a pit fiend. They seem basic. I am most drawn to the idea of Satan in Dante's Inferno though, he has a good pit fiend quality to him. So maybe a giant pit fiend frozen in ice in the vast, icy pit of hell.


They're like, gargoyle dragons? A huge swarm of winged lizard-demons making a cloud in the upper air of hell, maybe that would work.


Wait, have my players ever met a bear? They seem so tame and sweet, I can't imagine a bear surviving long in my world. This would be another one I might want to juxtapose. A bear hunting them in the city could be fun. 

Beetle, giant

Come on. Oh my god there are so many sub-types. Let me just scrap all of that and replace it with a really, really big beetle, the kind you'd only find in a deep forest, as big as a tank, or bigger. So big it has its own ecology, moss, lichen, its own beetles... 


The beholder was hard enough to pull off. I deployed it as a surprise second boss after they had already defeated the obvious first boss. It was like, demon cancer that grew around the Skoros Orb and gained sentience. What I maybe COULD do, though, is flying eyes. So, let's ignore all the subtypes, and just go with giant flying eyes with eye matter wafting behind it like tentacles.


Sure, my players have met a bird ... wait, what are all these subtypes, geez...

Blood hawk

What? They attack people for gems? That's a waste of a name. These are probably trained hawks that go directly for the jugular.


Why is this in here? It's a giant stork, seriously? Okay, giant storks probably live in a swamp somewhere, or maybe the Merelunds. But they're really giant, the mists of the swamp part, you see a giant stork... They're background animals, I guess you could kill one for 5 XP.


I like the pictures of the condor I've googled. They now exist in the mountains somewhere. Small humanoids do not ride them.


The pictures of the trained Mongolian eagles are simply so iconic. I love a bird that's just a little too big, working for a person. While the blood hawks are precise, the hunting eagles are like missiles.

Eagle, giant

"Like eagles, but bigger, and get a +4 bonus when they dive." What were they thinking? I can once again only picture these on snowy mountaintops. Maybe this is a deliberate callback to Tolkien, but in my game, they would not be compassionate. There is a sense that eagles have a society, separate and far above hours. I'm sure the giant eagles, if they exist, would hate the aarakocra. Players meeting a single, bloodied giant eagle, or maybe facing a conclave of giant eagles, in the thin, icy air, that might work.


Oh my god, storks again, but this time they can cast spells? "An eblis community consists of 2d4 huts" just kill me. Now apparently, the word eblis refers to Satan in Islam? I don't really know what to do with this, to be quite honest. Giant storks was hard enough. Maybe if a player of low morals goes around killing the giant storks, there's a chance they can cast spells and are psychotic murderers . . . these are the eblis. But no they don't have society, covet jewels, or live in huts. Swear to god.


My players have never met a falcon? I don't think so. This one I'm really having trouble with. Falcons are smaller, kind of sleeker I guess. Maybe a lord somewhere has a room of falcons. I wouldn't be surprised if Malric Godson of Two Fang Castle has falcons, he seems like a degenerate. Most important though is that there cannot be intelligent falcons. Don't know why.

Flightless bird

Maybe in some dusty wilderness somewhere, kicking up clouds, there will be flightless birds. There will probably be too many of them and they will probably be too aggressive, but also simply animals, so my players will feel guilty if they decide to fireball them.


Are you fucking kidding me? The writers of this book were insane. Okay, a hawk. "Hawks target eyes and have a 25% percent probability of striking an eye," this is a very specific eye sub-system. It would be kind of funny if my players met a wild hawk and they just went straight for the eyes. 

Owl, giant

I'm remembering that horrible owl from Secret of Nimh. I would probably have to go that route.

Owl, talking

What? It's just a good aligned owl that can talk, and feigns a broken wing in order to test good adventurers? That's kind of hilarious, actually. I would put this in the game. "Ah, adventurer, I see thou art good of heart! Therefore, I shall accompany thee on thy quest!" This note about they have Wisdom 21 is ridiculous. I don't know, I'm charmed by this stupid idea. If my players raised eyebrows, I would say it's from the book, and that would be the joke.


Decorative swans are fine. I feel like a two-headed swan is a natural progression, for some reason. I'd do that. 

Vulture, giant

Too much cross-over with the Changer of Ways. But a trained giant vulture crouching in the corner of some barbarian's throne room sounds good.

And that's it for birds! Cool.

Brain mole

Look like normal moles and are rarely seen. Hmm I wonder why I've never done these guys... so what, they're just psychic moles that attack psychic people from inside their tunnels? I mean, I do like the idea of psychic moles that are hunted by poachers. They don't even need to have personality or dangerous attacks, just like, a mildly psychic cute little guy whose dried brains are used as medicine or something. They probably just generate little static fields. I do like the idea of a court magician going, "Yes, I have prepared a tincture created from the spinal fluid of the Brain Mole..." It's kind of dumb. I'm not sure.

Broken one

Oh, so they're like, animal/person cross-breeds as the result of magical lab experiments? Seems like it's treading on the territory of ratman, panther-man, wolf-man, etc. The idea of a lab experiment guy is just so cliche, I don't know if I can get on board. Perdido Street Station did it pretty well with the grafting, and Elden Ring does it with the Misbegotten. This idea seems like it's striking directly at the heart of someone who's been experimented on, and are now pathetic and horrible. In that case, they would really have to be truly evil sickos, Texas Chain Saw Massacre like, or giallo-esque, to exploit the urge to pity them.


Please... Okay I've reached my limit. I'll pick up here later.

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