Saturday, November 24, 2018

Clear River Jellies

I wanted to write a monster that played with the information available to PCs. So I wrote this, the Clear River Jelly.

Image result for clear jelly
Look at these dangerous fellows.

The marshes of the lower river Sargal are home to carnivorous, gelatinous creatures called Clear Jellies, River Jellies, or sometimes Glass Jellies by foreigners who know what glass is. They start out tiny, just eating insects and algae, but once they grow in size they become a threat. The jellies aren't fast but they've developed a few adaptions which help them hunt. One, they're clear, even large ones can barely be seen floating down the river. Two, their bodies are full of a numbing agent which dulls the sensation of them digesting you. Fish often swim through River Jellies and don't realize they've being eaten until its too late, same thing happens to unlucky swimmers. Large river jellies are pretty brave and pretty clever. They'll wait by the river's edge to snatch prey, they'll bust holes in the hulls of boats and drag them into the water.

River Jelly
Large ooze, unaligned
Armor Class: 8
Hit points: 45 (6d10 +12)
Speed: 10ft., swim 15ft., climb 10ft.
 Str 16 (+3) Dex 6 (-2) Con 15 (+2) Int 4 (-3) Wis 6 (-2) Cha 1 (-5)
Damage Resistances: acid, fire
Condition Immunities: blinded, charmed, deafened, exaustion, frightened, prone
Senses: blindsight 60ft (blind beyond this radius)
Languages --
Challenge: 2 (450 XP)

Amorphous. The jelly can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing

Invisible in Water. The jelly is invisible while fully immersed in water.

Anaesthetic body. Any creature which takes acid damage from the jelly must make a DC 13 constitution saving throw. If it fails, a feeling of numbness fill its body and it cannot tell how many hitpoints it has. This effect lasts for an hour. If a player character is effected by this trait, the DM records their HP for them. If a creature suffering from this effect takes acid damage from the jelly again, it must attempt the saving throw again. If it fails, it is paralyzed until the end of its next turn.

Pseudopod. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 +2) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) acid damage.

River Jelly can be made into a potent pain killer if a pound of it is boiled for half a day and then strained through a piece of cloth. A creature who drinks the resulting clear-ish sludge may ignore one of their minor wounds and must make a DC 14 constitution saving throw. If they fail their save, the jelly is too effective and they become numb and are unable to tell how many hitpoints they have. Both of these effects last a day.

Most people who live along the river know how to properly process River Jelly and will show the PCs the procedure if they manage to catch or collect a River Jelly.

Related image
I want you to imagine aggressive ballistic jelly. Now that's good D&D.

This post is dedicated to Hannah Glasse

Saturday, November 10, 2018

One Who Walks Again

When death comes, when the five part self is undone, the will is the last thing to be scattered. It’s spent its whole life constrained, scheming, tearing out its feathers. It might not want to go. Especially if its mighty or stubborn or oafish. Especially if it has an ax to grind. Especially if it's disappointed in its progeny. Especially if death comes when you're at home with your eyes open.

These people are called Again Walkers. When they stand up in their graves they look as they did in life. Their flesh is blue as hell and the stench of the barrow is upon them. Their eyes are full of the light of the next world.

An Again Walker is all the worst parts of a person come back from the dead. Every grudge, every repression, every evil urge exaggerated and starved and let loose. The only things left are coldness and envy and malice.

An Again Walker is never just a walking corpse. An Again Walker is a wound which never healed. An Again Walker is the ghost of a family’s shame. An Again Walker is a circle reaching for a conclusion.

An Again Walker won't kill you. She'll ride your cattle until their backs crack in two. She'll tear your sheep into wooly chunks. She'll pull your hay out to soak in the rain. She'll sing her death songs so loud that you can't get a wink of sleep. And then she'll kick the head straight off your dog and nail him to your door. She'll leave you alone in the day, sure, but if she has a grudge she'll follow you to the ends of the earth and wait until you're destitute to finally snap your neck as she laughs her stinking laugh and stares with her endless eyes.

I never rested while living. Why do you think I'd languish in repose?
Grettir and Glámr by Didrik Jon Kristofersson, 1998

Again Walker
Medium Undead, Evil
Armor Class: 13 (Natural Armor)
Hitpoints: 70 (10d10+15)
Speed: 30ft
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 12 (+1) INT 10 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)
Damage Immunities: Poison, Necrotic
Condition Immunities: Poisoned, Exhaustion
Skills: Athletics + 7
Senses: Darkvision 60ft, Passive perception 11
Languages: The Languages It Knew In Life
Challenge: 4 (1100)

Eyes full of Ugly Light. The gaze of the Again Walker drains courage from the heart and strength from the body. Any creature who makes eye contact with the Again Walker at a distance of 10ft or less is struck with fear and trembling, they must succeed a DC 13 Wisdom Saving Throw or become frightened until the end of their turn. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the Again Walker’s gaze for a day.

Cursed Flesh. After being reduced to 0 hp, the Again Walker will rise again from its grave with full hp in 1d10 days unless its body is burned to ash. Any animal who eats the Again Walker's flesh or ash will give birth to horribly deformed offspring. Any humanoid who eats the Again Walker's flesh or ash has a 3 in 6 chance of rising as an Again Walker after they die.

Multiattack. The Again Walker makes three Bash attacks.

Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage.

Each Again Walker possess an Uncanny Power. (roll 1d6) A more powerful one may have more powers.

1. Stone Walking. The Again Walker may turn to a greasy smoke as per the gaseous form spell 2 times per day for up to 10 minutes. While in this form the Again Walker may move through stone and earth as if it were air.

2. Death Curse. The Again Walker screams a terrible curse upon whoever deals the blow which reduces it to 0 hp. The target of this curse must succeed a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or suffer one of the effects below. (roll 1d4)
1.  A random ability score (roll a d6 1 is str, 2 is dex, ect) is reduced by 2d4 permanently
2. Maximum hit points decrease by 2d8 permanently
3. Whenever the cursed person regains hitpoints they regain half the usual amount
4. The cursed person only succeeds death saves on rolls of 15 or higher
The curse can be lifted by the Greater Restoration spell or by indulging the vice which the Again Walker possessed every 3 days. You can feel the vice curling around your heart. 

3. Skin Changing. The Again Walker may, as an action, assume the form of a horse with a broken back, a huge bloody bull, a headless seal, or a black cat. As a black cat, the Again Walker may sit on the chest of a medium sized creature and start becoming heavier. A creature which the Again Walker has been sitting on for more than a minute begins taking 2d4 bludgeoning damage every round (or use the suffocation rules) and is incapacitated. To wrench the cat off the trapped creature a creature other than the trapped one must attempt a DC 13 Strength check. The DC increases by 2 for each round beyond 1 minute which the cat has been sitting on the person.

4. Size Changing. The Again Walker may increase and decrease it’s size at will. When it does, it cannot move, take actions, or take reactions. For each round of growing, its strength increases by 2 (to a maximum of 24) and its AC increases by 1 (to a maximum of 16) as its flesh becomes dense and cold. At maximum growth, the Again Walker becomes a large creature. When the Again Walker shrinks, it loses the Strength and AC it gained from growing at same rate at which it gained them. Once it is its normal size (18 Str, 13 AC) the Again Walker can shrink again for a round, becoming a small creature and increasing its speed to 40 ft.

5. Unnerving Presence. Anybody who spends a minute within eyesight of the Again Walker begins to feel full of unceasing dread and takes a minus -1 to all rolls until they can take a short or long rest to calm their nerves and steel themselves. This effect stacks for every minute beyond the first which the person spends in the presence of the Again Walker.

6. Dream Walking. Once a day, the Again Walker may enter the dreams of a person sleeping within 3 miles of its grave. The targeted person is beset by evil visions and nightmares. If they are not awoken within an hour and continue their fitful slumber, then they do not gain the benefits of a long rest and make saves against the Again Walker's Eye full of Ugly Light trait at disadvantage.

Each Again Walker posses a Vice which haunted it in life but is made greater in death. (roll a d6)

1. Drunkenness. The Again Walker has a terrible thirst for drink, no matter the vintage or the origin. It takes pleasure in swallowing liquor and spitting it up as horrid poison.

2. Decadence. The Again Walker still desires all the goods it had in life. It takes pleasure in destroying beautiful objects and pieces of art.

3. Gluttony. The Again Walker is still hungry for all it ate in life. It takes pleasure in ripping the flesh off of animals with its teeth and eating grain until its belly swells. It will vomit up all the food it eats as black, stinking bile.

4. Spite. The Again Walker takes pleasure in seeing others suffer. It loves to spread disease, destroy homes, and cause famine. It has an awful laugh.

5. Rage. The Again Walker's temper is just as high as it was in life. It is easily insulted and throws terrible, destructive tantrums.

6. Pride. The Again Walker's ego is as huge and easily bruised as it was in life. It takes pleasure in seeing people bow before it and cannot refuse a challenge to a duel or a contest (it's also a born cheater).
Related image
Beowulf wrestling with Grendel by Lynd Ward, 1939
Burning an Again Walker’s body might not be the end of him. He might become something worse, something ghostly and huge, or his body might just come right back as if nothing happened. He might just need to rot of his own accord to be banished. Others can only be put to rest if a certain condition is met. 

What will put the dead to rest? (choose one or roll a d12)
1. It must face a blood enemy from its life in hand to hand combat
2. A close friend must stand watch by its grave for 3 nights 
3. Something it was promised in life must be rendered to it
4. A crime that it committed in life must be atoned for
5. A crime committed against it in life must be atoned for
6. It must fulfill an oath it made in life to an evil spirit 
7. It must protect its burial place and the lands surrounding it, when its cairn is destroyed so is it
8. It must torment a specific family member until they die 
9. Nothing can truly kill the Again Walker, it will always be here
10. Somebody the Again Walker wronged in life must stand up to it fearlessly
11. It must be guided to the river of death by a skilled shaman
12. It must be burned during a full moon, but it gains another Uncanny Power in the moonlight

This post is dedicated to the witch Gunnvor and the fiend Kolimkilli