Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Monster Man contest: winners!

Well, it's been a heck of a ride, but the first Monster Man contest is finally over. Our eight finalists have been submitted to the judges, and the scores are back. Let's see how our finalists have done!

Now remember -- these eight finalists were selected from 28 entrants, and they're all going to receive some finalist goodies from our sponsors, so in this case, "they're all winners" isn't just something people say. It's really true!

Here, in no particular order, are the honourable mentions, with the judges' comments for each:

Puschel Wuschel by Herr Zinnling and Lina (aged 9)
"Would use this in a horror adventure, taking advantage of their ability to turn on those they live with."

"They're cute, they're fluffy, they glow in the dark, and if you annoy them they will EAT YOU! Who doesn't enjoy a bit of tough love?"

"The only encounter that put a big beaming smile on my face. It has also got the best name of the bunch."

Bear-Owl by Richard Scott

"Because after you've made your Owl Bear you've got some very specific spare parts left right? The idea of this thing swooping down on completely unsuspecting travellers is genius. It's a drop-bear owl!"

"High shock value, with its frightening visual of being dive-bombed by bear-headed bird monsters."

"I like the Vancian background to this creature - I can see it emerging from Rialto the Marvellous’ manse. It’s a terrifying one-shot encounter."

Fuggag by Aaron Oliver

"Clever idea to modify a golem, providing means for independent/intelligent piloting of a golem’s stats."

"Yeah, I remember these guys. Definitely classic monster stuff. I'm sure there are many people who have placed these over the heads of dolls and other toys to create monsters, totally unaware they were creating the dreaded Fuggag!"

"When the competition was announced, it was these little finger puppets that came to mind, so this is a monster that really fulfils the brief from my point of view. I like the idea of them controlling Golem like creatures too, like some kind of parasite, using the appendages of other creatures to make up for their puny efforts."

Glowber-tuttle by Kit Chapman

"The adorable little turtle that explodes with excitement. Amazing. Get one of the adventurers to find the cute little thing in a cave somewhere, have them journey together through all kinds of perils and get really attached to the little pet, then have it explode with joy! A suitably heartless prank for a DM to pull."

"Almost more of a trap or hazard than a creature, and can be re-used the same way as green slime or hazardous fungus: As the players encounter successive groups of these creatures, they develop tactics to avoid the danger."

"A very convincing ecology for these innocent looking creatures. I’m sure that adventuring parties would be willing to adopt them for their practical application in dark spaces. If there was a thrilling encounter and the Glowber exploded, it would brighten up the situation!"

Kafka by Kevin Chenevert

I should say as a personal note that this entry came within a razor thin margin of getting into the top three; it literally could not have been closer. Bad luck to Kevin for missing out, but I think it speaks to the excellent quality of all the entries!

"Clearest writing and organization of all the entries, and matches pretty well with the other giant insect power levels. Extremely useful monster across a range of levels. Great implications for different sorts of tactics and encounter types. Has plenty of “replay value,” especially once the players find out how to use the psychic gel."

"Giant insects are gross. The imagery that can be conjured up by an eloquent DM around a lair of flies and bugs is far worse than the grottiest goblin den. Add to that pack-hunting cockroaches that will swarm in the darkness overhead and suddenly drop silently upon their victims and you truly have the stuff of nightmares. Reminds me of that hideous BBC footage of snakes hunting as a pack, it's terrifying when it comes from animals you don't expect it of."

"Extra points for the clever name. A horde of giant cockroaches makes me shudder just thinking about it."

So congratulations and many thanks to our honourable mention finalists. And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: your Monster Man 2017 Contest winners!

Third Place Winner: Thurible Cat by Eric Nieudan

"This creature would make a perfect encounter for a temple. The ash-like breath is my favourite feature and an imaginative interpretation of an ‘infusion’."

"Nicely fills the design role of a non-living, non-undead guardian monster. Strong theming, great sketch, and good implication of baiting adventurers into waking it from its dormancy."

"I love tea, and I actually have this infuser (along with a sloth, elephant, pug, manatee, pig...) so I'm good to feature this beast in an adventure right now! What attracts me to the Thurrible Cat is the great black and white illustration- exactly the kind of re-imagining that would have graced the pages of an ancient monster manual. The feeding of the temple cat gives strong suggestion for it featuring in a quest. The party stumbles upon an ancient and derelict temple. As they breach the main sanctuary they become aware of a low purring from the darkness... the Thurrible Cat lurches forward, its innards cold, and demands fire...."

Second-Place Winner: Great Wight Shark by Chris Webb

"Shudder. I’ll not look at the CBBC magazine in quite the same way again. The glow in the dark appearance with the blood is really unsettling. I like the idea of the undead shark haunting dried up water ways. The iridescence would strike fear in an adventure party prior to it appearing."

"At the other end of the spectrum this is something out of a B Movie so terrible it's great. Sharknado anyone? Even better, this horror came from a kids' magazine! The lore that these spectres haunt the paths of long-dried-up waterways is wonderfully atmospheric. I can imagine a group of adventurers who stop for the night at the "Millwheel Tavern" and admire the great stone wheel which now resides as a table in the bar. The barkeep tells them the tale of how this used to be a thriving watermill but the local lord had the river dammed to make a private boating lake. At night they spy an eerie glow out on the moor... of course, the tale has to end with the local lord getting a just demise in the jaws of the beast!"

"Evocative visuals of semi-ghostly flying sharks! Easy to imagine, and sure to trigger a visceral reaction in the players. Great modeling too! I like how the entry forces the referee to think about environments/terrain where they creatures might dwell. The entry even has evocative suggestions for yet more creatures; I’m a sucker for creature name wordplay."

And our grand prize winner ... Afelyn by James Baillie!

As another note from me as contest organiser, this was a bit of an odd one. It wasn't a toy per se, and James asked me if it was OK to include given that fact, but I figured that the ethos of the contest was, in so many words, "eh, what the hell," and I signed off on it. And I'm glad I did -- the judges loved it! 

"Tremendously-useful background material. The entry has enough content for three separate “backstory reveal” items in a module that revolves around the creature. I really like the ties to nature, and the fantastical shifting of seasons."

"Normally, when monster designers create encounters, they focus on the ecology and not on the narrative possibilities. This entry stands out because it is so evocative: lots of ideas spring off the page. There was something about it that reminded me of the Fiend Factory about creatures from the Land of Faerie. A very magical and mystical creature that I can imagine shambling from the undergrowth. Extra kudos for the accompanying tale and plot hooks (I’m going to steal a couple of those)."

"With my love of Celtic/folkloric creatures and fairy tales the Afelyn really floats my boat. I love that it's not a plastic thing but a (totally free) natural form which has been added to and given a background appropriate to its origins. It conjures up in my mind something between the Mystics from Dark Crystal and Arthur Rackham pixie illustrations. As a herald of autumn I like that the rules have given it a withering ability and made it especially powerful against the undead - the enemies of natural order. I'm not sure what size the Afelyn is imagined at but I see it as either a very small creature able to hide in piles of leaves and tree stumps or as a very large creature which could be mistaken for such things. Of course, being a nature spirit it could be BOTH these things. I can see a great campaign where some adventurers have to find where the Afelyn is dwelling and convince it to move on so that Spring will come around again."

Congratulations to James and to all our entrants, and many thanks to everyone who participated: our sponsors for their generosity, our judges for their expertise, our contestants for their creativity, and everyone who voted for supporting the contest. The monster contest has been a great success, and I'm already cooking up our next contest, which will have a slightly different theme, for later in 2018. 

If you want to learn more about our sponsors, check out the Sponsor Hype Page!

And of course, don't forget to listen to Monster Man for that good monster content and for announcements of upcoming contests and so on. 

If you enjoy Monster Man, check out the Monster Man Patreonwhere you can support the show and get access to my all-new Deities & Demigods podcast, Patron Deities. Thanks!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago: Scenery

OK, so it's been a while since I updated my Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago project, but I have not been neglecting it! I have painted some new models, bringing my crew up to the maximum 10. I'm still going to add a few more in case I want to change the composition at any point, but in terms of required figures I'm done. I don't know if I've posted this archer and pearl diver before, but anyway these are two of them. I don't have a photo I like of the Heritor, but oh well.

I ordered some cheap plastic palm trees off Aliexpress, and they finally arrived. They're a bit rough, but at something like a dozen for £2 I am happy with them. I drybrushed the trunks and fronds right on to the plastic and they look not too bad. I am mounting on them bases for stability; here's the completed first one.

As you can see, I've added some beachfront real estate to my islands/hills by buying some sandy-coloured felt from Hobbycraft. It's 55p a sheet, and I just cut it to make irregular shapes that I can use as sand bars, beaches and so on for the islands. It adds some verticality to the terrain, which is nice, and I'm going to make more.

The water is just turquoise crushed velvet. I got enough to cover my table on eBay for about £4. It'll form a shallow-water base, while the islands and beaches are connected by a network of docks, stepping stones, reefs, bridges, and so on. The fallen tree in this shot comes from a kids' playset I got at a car boot sale and actually holds up a figure pretty well.

The coffee-stirrer walkways need a little weathering, but they didn't take long and I can make more of them easily, so I'm happy with them.

And of course, I've been collecting relevant bits since forever, so lots of things get reused. I do like these Lord of the Rings ladders, which actually hold up a plastic miniature pretty well.

So yeah: warband finished, terrain coming along nicely. I think I'm about ready to start playing!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Crypts of Indormancy by Ezra Claverie

I went to Dragonmeet a few weeks ago, and while I was there, as one does, I bought things. One of these things was Crypts of Indormancy, a dungeon for D&D in its various guises and reflections written by Ezra Claverie. You can buy it in print and PDF directly from the Melsonian Arts Council, or you can buy it in PDF on DriveThru, where I observe it is currently on sale. I have the hardback edition.

Quick disclaimer: the Melsonian Arts Council published a piece I wrote in an issue of their zine The Undercroft, specifically this one. So I guess I'm a little biased? I don't think so, but then I wouldn't. 

Warning, I guess? This review contains spoilers, so if you're going to play the scenario, don't read it.

OK, so what is Crypts of Indormancy? It's a relatively small dungeon: really only about 6 or 7 "rooms" depending on how you count. I would expect it would run for a few sessions, though, as there's a lot to take in and a lot to figure out. It comes in a slim, attractive hardback with illustrations by Andrew Walter. Apparently it came out in 2016, but I didn't get it at last year's Dragonmeet, once again reinforcing my view that I must have literally just walked right past the Melsonian booth. Oh well.

The premise of the scenario is pretty simple: ages ago, an elven general, who was, like the elves seem to be in this setting, a real swine, died. His tomb, presumably full of treasures and grave goods and whatnot, is just sitting up there in the mountains waiting for some enterprising scoundrels to come and loot it.

Now, normally, you would expect that the tomb would be full of traps and defenses, but the twist here is that the tomb itself is the trap, a complex magical device rigged up by the general's heirs and followers to resurrect their leader in a way that wouldn't be obvious to suspicious elven authorities.

OK, so far this is all pretty much straight D&D -- a tomb-robbing scenario with a bit of a twist. But what makes Crypts of Indormancy so interesting is the execution.

Like ... let's say you're approaching the tomb. It has a great big door, which you cannot get into because you don't have the various passwords. Should you try to cast a spell on the door, something called the Temporizing Duplicator swings into action. What this does is nullify the spell and then use the energy to reach back into your past and create a duplicate of you as you were a few moments before you cast the spell. The duplicate shows up and is bewildered and possibly hostile, as one might be, but only for a short time. Gradually, the weird temporal paradox sucks all the realness out of you and pours it into the duplicate and you literally die and now you're the duplicate, who was really you all along, I guess, or not, in some weird abstract philosophical sense.

And I love this. Because, here's the thing, the mechanical effect of this is "the spell doesn't work." But the dramatic effect is "the spell doesn't work and we are into some seriously weird shit here," which you probably ought to have concluded earlier when you were fighting the giant imaginary baby skeleton, but let that pass.

Or take probably the most obvious monster in the dungeon: the Stertorous Recapitator. These guys are basically guardian zombie types created by a bunch of cruel blasphemy, and they will emerge to attack intruders after a certain point. What they are is headless corpses, and what they do is gang-pile on you with knives and saw your head off, after which they stick your dead blood-gushing melon on their own empty stump, where it magically fuses and now they're chasing your friends around the tomb with knives while your severed head sits there on top of them just, I don't know, shrieking with helpless existential horror, I guess. And then your friends kill them and the last light of unnatural vitality fades from your eyes and you get to go on to the next life with the hideous knowledge that it was your friends that did it and/or that you were a helpless passenger while corpse guys sawed your friends' heads off with knives.

Like, mechanically, they're pretty much just sort of zombies, but they have this bizarre and horrible twist that makes them really fun and memorable.

And there's just a lot of that kind of thing, which I really like. Strange extradimensional monsters and arcane science and a certain amount of Gygaxian-but-for-the-21st-century intentional overwriting.

But all this idiosyncratic verbosity has its downsides, as well. Claverie sometimes takes time out to give a regular old D&D monster a vein of cosmic science-fantasy horror, but sometimes he takes time out to complain about DMs rolling dice behind the screen, a subject on which I assure you any person who is spending £16 on weird hardback art-dungeons already has a firmly settled opinion. And sometimes he spends two pages in a 64-page book on an extended gag about how the ancient game the elven general plays to train himself and his officers in the art of command is, y'know, Warhammer.

While that stuff doesn't thrill me, I feel like this module is as much fun as it is because it's the Ezra Claveriest module there is, and if I have to indulge some gamer grumbling in order to get all this good, chewy psychedelic horror that feels like a small price to pay.

Prep-wise, I don't think this is a scenario that drops easily into most campaigns, although weirdly it would drop just fine into my game world, where elves are a bunch of SOBs and did in fact conquer a load of Polynesian-influenced island cultures. A lot of this is going to make more sense if the characters are grounded in the fictitious culture of the islands, which will help them interpret the tomb in context and give them a motive to mess with it other than just to stuff their cheek pouches with valuables (although that works fine as well).

In fact, with all the focus on the various artefacts in the tomb and their cultural significance (there's even fake citations), I feel like the ideal premise for this dungeon would be to have it be an archaeological expedition. Not that that couldn't also be a treasure hunt, but I do feel like you're going to lose some of the "something's not right" sense if you're describing these weird, blasphemous wall paintings and the characters are just going "yeah, yeah, whatever." You're definitely going to get the most out of this scenario if you give the characters a reason to be invested in its history, maybe by running a few preliminary games set in the area.

Naturally, I got way into that stuff to begin with, but if I didn't like that kind of thing I probably wouldn't have lasted through a couple of history and archaeology degrees.

Ultimately this raises the question of what you're buying modules for, which is not a thing I thought I'd find myself saying when I opened this book. Is the idea to buy a labour-saving tool? That is, are you looking for something that makes it easy for you to run the kind of dungeon you would probably run yourself but don't have the time to write up, a sort of worked example? Or are you looking for something that is a bit different and weird but might take quite a lot more work to integrate? I don't have a clear answer to that: both, maybe? But this is definitely the latter.

Now, as it happens, I think there are probably enough regular old D&D dungeons sitting on my hard drive that I could run them from now until whenever, and honestly I'm more likely to read something and carve it up than run it straight, so this is right up my alley. It's flawed in a few ways: the organisation sometimes makes the exact role of the creatures in the dungeon unclear, and I had to read it twice and kind of keep a little mental sketch map the second time to make it all make sense. I did try to read it the first time on the train back from Dragonmeet, though, so maybe that wasn't ideal. But even with those points, I'm definitely in the more of this kind of thing please camp. I like the way the weird-art-OSR wing are producing things that are clearly D&D and yet clearly also their own thing, and I like the way they don't resemble one another.

So yeah; I liked it.

The Monster Man sponsor hype page!

As I write this, I'm tensely expecting that I'll be able to name the winners in the Monster Man contest either just before or just after Christmas. There'll be fun extra holiday gifts for all our finalists, which is nice. 

Overall, the Monster Man contest has been tremendously satisfying. I got to promote creativity, provide people with some fun monsters, and advance my personal gaming agenda. But really, I didn't do any of those things! All I did was act as hype man, a role for which I am almost perfectly unsuited. The people who really made the contest happen are the contestants and, of course, our sponsors. So let's take a moment to thank everyone who either donated prizes or volunteered to act as judges. So let's thank them!

In no particular order, our sponsors and judges are: 

Oakbound Studio: As you may know, I'm a big fan of Oakbound. Geoff runs a company that makes the stuff he wants to make in the way he wants to make it, and that means weird fairy-tale creatures, post-apocalyptic cyberpunk satire, steampunk characters, and a real abiding love for creepy folklore. He also imports some great old-school models from Rafm. Here is a goblin riding a giant flightless bird I bought from him: 

Geoff is a good dude and his enterprise is worthy of your support. 

Guy Fullerton: When I'm recording Monster Man, I have a couple of ideal listeners in mind, and Guy is one of them. I often think "what am I adding to this show that a listener who knows the book well would find new and interesting," and when I imagine that person, I think of Guy. Guy is not only the, er, guy behind Chaotic Henchmen Productions, he's also one of the unrelated but also very cool Hyqueous Vaults Creative Team, creators of a new OSRIC scenario, The Hyqueous Vaults, which you can check out here. The PDF is free and everything. 

Guy has been generous both with his time as a judge and with rewards as a sponsor, and if you like old-school gaming products made by cool folks, you should check his stuff out. 

Otherworld Miniatures: It was only after Richard and I had been chatting about Monster Man for a while that I realised we'd actually met, albeit briefly: he used to run my FLGS back when I was an undergraduate! I bought my copy of Delta Green from him, and loads of back issues of Arcane, and all sorts. But central Cambridge's loss is miniature lovers' gain, because these days he runs a miniatures company devoted to the old-school aesthetic, and they make some good-ass models. You should definitely give them a look. 

Let me entice you further: we talked for a bit and established some very generous prizes for the top three contestants in the Monster Man contest, and then out of the blue as the contest winds up he sends me a message saying that he wants to also offer some gifts to all the finalists because, get this, it's Christmas. How are you not gonna buy bugbears from this man? 

Robert "Thorkhammer" Pinnell: I do not know Robert Pinnell from Adam, but through the kind intervention of Guy (q.v.), he very generously agreed to offer some copies of his scenario Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord as prizes. Maybe it's Christmas, maybe it's the old school community spirit, but that's quite touching. Anyway, if you're into that real deal old school stuff, you should check out the various inexpensive and even free offerings on his Lulu page

Grant Howitt: Grant Howitt wrote a one-page RPG (two with magic supplement) in which you play bears stealing honey, which I played at Dragonmeet and had a fine old time. Grant also offered, again unprompted, a copy of his thoroughly hilarious game Goblin Quest as a prize. Now, if you're not lucky enough to be our first-place winner, you can still get your own PDF copy, and what a coincidence! It's 50% off right now. If you would rather support Grant's weird obsession with releasing tiny niche one-pagers, you can back him on Patreon. 

Dirk the Dice: the enigmatic host of ... can I say Britain's foremost old-school gaming podcast? I might as well. The enigmatic host of Britain's foremost old-school gaming podcast, The Grognard Files, generously agreed to give up some time to judge the finalists. You can have a listen here. He has been tremendously tolerant about me trying to climb up his social media presence like a creeping vine. 

So yeah! Those are our sponsors and judges, the generous people who gave their time and their wares to help reward the creativity of randos on the internet. And in all sincerity, that's a noble goal. I'm very grateful to all of them and hope everyone who has enjoyed the contest appreciates how this could never have been possible without them. 

Of course, the other people without whom this would never have been possible are our entrants, so stay tuned for the announcement of the winners and some links to other things our contestants have created. 

If you enjoy Monster Man, check out the Monster Man Patreon, where you can support the show and get access to my all-new Deities & Demigods podcast, Patron Deities. Thanks!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Monster Man Contest: Finalists!

The votes are in, and we have our finalists in the first Monster Man Contest! There were a lot of votes submitted, and I'll go into some analysis of the patterns later, but I was pleased to see that every entry got at least one vote. That means that if you created a monster, no matter what it was, at least one gamer looked at it and thought "hey, that's pretty cool!"

But, having tabulated the votes, I have determined the top 8 entries to be finalists! These entries will now be sent to our panel of expert judges to select our three winners.

The top 8, not in the order of score but in alphabetical order, are:
  1. Afelyn by James Baillie
  2. Bear-Owl by Richard Scott
  3. Fuggag by Aaron
  4. Glowber-tuttle by Kit Chapman
  5. Great Wight Shark by Chris Webb
  6. Kafka by Kevin Chenevert
  7. Puschel Wuschel by Herr Zinnling and Lina (aged 9)
  8. Thurible Cat by Eric Nieudan
Congratulations to all the finalists! I will be writing to the judges today or tomorrow. Obviously, over the holidays they may have limited time available, but I'll try to get the final results up as soon as I can. 

Once again, I want to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who created a monster for the contest or who voted in it. The response has been really gratifying, and I'm very glad everyone seems to have enjoyed it as much as they did. Stay tuned to this blog and to Monster Man for the announcement of the winners. 

If you haven't looked at the other entrants yet, or want to use some in your games, you can still check out the listing here!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Monster Man entries 3: Plague Leech to Sphere of Draining

(This is just one of several pages of monsters for the Monster Man contest. To see the rest of the entries, click here!)
Plague Leech
by Nick Beebe
Plague Leech
Given their name mostly from their diseased looking body and food source the Plague Leech actually resembles a small reptile rather than a leech. These creatures stand at roughly 3 feet when fully grown and tend to make their homes in swamp like terrain. A brood of Plague Leeches will make their home by digging large caverns under the soft mud of the swamp lands to make a suitable home for the brood mother while the rest of the brood builds small nests above and in a secure circle around the cavern out of mud, foliage, and animal carcasses that can’t be digested.

Plague Leeches are not the strongest creatures and, if you can get past the texture, make excellent meals, which makes them prime targets for prey and because of that their body secretes a foul smelling bubbly slime that gives the appearance of wounds, decay, and disease as a defense mechanism. Though what the Plague Leech lacks in strength he makes up for in speed, these creatures dart through their swampy homelands at high speeds with some saying they have seen them run on water. This of course has not yet been proven. The Plague Leech hunts in large groups consisting of anywhere from 6 to 20 depending on the fertility and feeding cycle of the brood mother. Like skilled hunters the Plague Leech will follow its target for hours or even days waiting for the right time to strike, when that moment arrives one Leech will begin to make a low humming noise, signaling the others to surround the prey. Once in position the Plague Leeches lunge out of hiding to attack, once the Plague Leech gets a bite its teeth clamp down with immense jaw force and begins sucking the blood from the prey, giving the creature the name of leech. However this isn’t the end of the feed, once the creature is too weak to fight from blood loss the Leeches will drag the prey back to the brood mother who will feast, giving out very little to be shared among the hunters.

Brood Mother
A brood mother can be identified by the color, being slightly darker with a purplish hue and bright yellow streaks starting from the mother and ending midway down the neck. Other identifying features include the size of the Plague Leech, brood mothers are generally larger at about 5 feet in height and having a much larger stomach. She typically gives birth to between 2 and 7 offspring. These offspring are born genderless and kept around the stomach in individual nourishment sacks until they are old enough to eat their way out. Brood mothers are known to eat many of their offspring should the hunters not bring enough food to satisfy her in a given time, it’s because of this that brood sizes vary. Once the offspring reach the age of maturity, roughly 10 weeks after emerging from the nourishment sack, the males join the hunting party while the females engage in a fight to the death. It is every female Plague Leeches instinct to be dominate which can only happen if there isn’t another female. The last female standing will usually venture off to start its own brood or in some rare cases turns her attention to her mother, choosing to fight the original brood mother doesn’t bode well but occasionally the newly matured Leech will overcome her mother and take control of the Brood, eating the body of the old brood mother as a sign of dominance.

Stats CR1
XP 600
N Small animal
Init +6 
Senses Tremor sense, scent, Perception +10
AC 13, touch 10, flat-footed 13 (+3 Dex)
HP 8 (2 D6 +2)
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +0
Speed 40ft, climb 20ft, swim 10ft
Melee bite +1 (1 D4 +1 + Draining Bite) claw +0 (1 D3)
Special Attacks Swarming, Draining Bite
Str 12, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 5, Wis 10, Cha 1
Base Atk +2 CMB +0 (cannot grapple) CMD 17
Feats Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +5, Perception +10, Stealth +6
Environment warm wet woodlands, swamps
Attitude Plague Leeches fight to the death to immobilize their target but will retreat if alone
Organization Solitary, Brood (3-20)
Treasure none
Special abilities
Draining Bite- bite-injury, save Fort DC 16; Frequency 1/round till healed; effect 1 D2 con. When a Plague Leech bites a target the target gains a +4 to all attacks made against the Plague Leech due to it being attached to the target. All attacks made by the Plague Leech while biting a target are automatically successful (Cannot Crit while performing a Draining Bite). Target takes 1 D2 con damage until healed or until the con drops to 1 at which point the target is immobilized and considered helpless.

Swarming- Plague Leeches rely on others within the brood to assist in taking down targets whether that’s surrounding an enemy or close quarters fighting. Up to two Plague Leeches can share the same square at the same time, taking no penalties. In addition, if both if both Plague Leeches occupying the same square attack the same enemy they gain the benefits of flanking.

by Katie Rydzewski
Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 4
Move: 6", fly 12"
Hit Dice: 8+8
Treasure Type: G
No. of Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage/Attack: d10+6
Special Attacks: decapitation
Special Defenses: undead immunities
Magic Resistance: nil
Intelligence: very
Alignment: chaotic evil
Size: Large (8' tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil

A skulltaker is an undead creature that will sometimes form if a particularly fierce and dangerous fighter is slain on the field of battle and its body left to rot. They augment their skeletal bodies with the remains of their foes and grow to monstrous proportions, often with multi-eyed skulls and extravagant forms.  

Skulltakers generally seek to take service with whatever army they were fighting for, though most often this ends in their horrified former companions fleeing in terror or fighting their former champion.  Once their original war is over skulltakers roam the world looking for more excuses to engage in wanton slaughter and pillage, no matter how noble their cause may have been originally.

Skulltakers can use any weapon, but usually fight with two-handed swords that they employ with such skill as to gain +3 to hit and damage.  Against an opponent reduced to less than half hit points they may forego their usual two attacks per round in favor of a single devastating "skull strike".  If this blow hits the opponent must save vs. poison or be decapitated.

Skulltakers can be turned as a vampire.

Sphere of Draining
by Allan Hughes

Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 3
Move: 150 feet/turn 
Attacks: 1  Damage: 2 constitution points per round
No. Appearing: 1
Save as: Fighter 5
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: Chaotic

These monsters are composed of concentrations of unspent magical energy from unsuccessful magical workings and spell castings. They float over the ground and having no corporeal body are impervious to all normal (and silver) weaponry; only magical weapons score full hits on the Sphere. The Sphere hungers for energy and will always attack. 

They inflict no damage but drain two constitution points each time they score a hit. This draining will negatively affect any HD and saving throw bonuses on the PC for a game time of 24hrs. The Sphere will never kill a PC but on reducing their constitution to 0 will render them unconscious and then leave.

Monster Man entries 2: Glowber-tuttle to Man-Tain

(This is just one of several pages of monsters for the Monster Man contest. To see the rest of the entries, click here!)
by Kit Chapman

The glowber-tuttle is a friendly, stupid, docile creature that lives at the bottom of dark holes. Any dark hole will do, dry or damp, hot or cold – the glowber-tuttle doesn't seem to mind. One of the happiest creatures in the realms, the glowber-tuttle walks around with perpetual benign smile that mages have categorised as 'a little dopey', seemingly content with every aspect of its uninspiring life.

Resembling a very large turtle, the glowber-tuttle is known to exist in a variety of colours and is usually found in large colonies deep underground, milling about slowly with other glowber-tuttles and living on a diet of lichen and moss.

A naturally inquisitive animal, the glowber-tuttle sadly has limited darkvision, making it poorly suited to its choice of natural habitat. The good news is that this dimwitted cave-botherer has evolved a natural light source. Deep inside its carapace, organs conspire to mix acidic substances, resulting in a form of bio-luminescence. Thanks to this, the glowber-tuttle lights up when disturbed, allowing it to see what is going on as it merrily makes its way toward whatever new adventure is approaching.

Unfortunately, this bio-luminescence is highly unstable. As the glowber-tuttle gets excited, it begins to pulse its light, hoping to increase the brightness and see what wonderful new thing has stumbled into its world. The light becomes brighter and brighter, until the glowber-tuttle explodes in a shower of overjoyed illumination, covering anything nearby in acidic goo.

Mages have speculated as to why the glowber-tuttle has such a tendency for spontaneous combustion. The leading theory is that this prevents the glowber-tuttle colony from ever venturing into an area too rife with excitement, and acts as a natural defence mechanism against predators that stumble too close to the colony breeding grounds (nobody has ever witnessed glowber-tuttles breed, so one can only speculate that, given they don't seem to explode while fornicating, they must be very boring lovers).

Despite its lack of ill will toward visitors, the glowber-tuttle is a peril for any journey to the deep. One exploding glowber-tuttle is uncomfortable (though rarely deadly) but tales have spread of entire parties being wiped out by an excited gathering of glowber-tuttles, each bursting apart in a shower of eagerness to see what all the fuss is about.

Medium beast, unaligned
AC 15 (natural armour)
Hit points 30 (4d8+12)
Speed 10ft

Str 12 (+3) Dex 8 (-1) Con 13 (+1) Int 2 (-4) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 6 (-2)

Skills Perception +3
Senses Darkvision 10ft, passive perception 11
Languages –
Challenge ¼ (50XP)

Brave. The Glowber-tuttle has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Illumination. When curious, the Glowber-tuttle sheds dim light for an additional 30 feet. Should the Glowber-turtle use flash, it will shed bright light for 30 feet and dim light for an additional 30 feet. If the turtle uses flash a second time, it will explode (see Boom), shedding bright light for 90 feet and dim light for a further 30 feet.

Boom. When the Glowber-tuttle dies, it explodes. Creatures within 5 feet must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) acid damage on a failed save, or half damage on a successful one.


Flash (Recharge 6). The Glowber-tuttle emits a bright flash of light over a 15-foot cone, pleasantly smiling as all around are blinded. Creatures within 15 foot must succeed on a DC14 Constitution saving throw or be blinded for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself with a success.

by Logan Howard
Solitary, Large, Devious, Amorphous
Spore (1d8+2 damage)
10 HP
0 armour
Special qualities: Amphibious, Blind, Multiplying, Unharmed by fire, lightning, or mundane weapons, Vulnerable to freezing
Jellybenders are large gelatinous salamanders that can be found in deep streams with little or no light. They can grow to the size of a small horse eating everything from bat guano to goblins and humans. They are mostly transparent but may be tinted with a variety of colors depending on their usual diet. While they are completely blind and don’t hear very well, they are keenly aware of vibrations, ripples, changes in pressure, or other activities in their environment.

Jellybenders are difficult to spot when they are submerged and will often take prey by surprise. An adult can lurch out of the water to land on top of its victim. Being held under water by a slippery, burning mass is a terrible way to go.

Lightening or chopping attacks will sometimes cause them to divide into multiple jellybenders. Because their acid skin is the primary danger, a small specimen is no less harmful than the original. Their inner body is in constant motion churning food and oxygen to all extremities. Although they are usually found in cold water, ice or freezing attacks are particularly effective against them and make them slow down or die from asphyxiation.

Instinct: Eat those tasty visitors!

       Burn through armor
       Stick to a weapon or body part
       Switch between sticky and slippery

Koosh Lion
by Ted Prodromou

MOVE: 12”
% IN LAIR: 25%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6/1-6/1-12
 Subdual (see below)
 Bounce, Move Silently
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good
   Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

The Koosh Lion was created by a benevolent but mad wizard as a way to keep his guards and soldiers on alert and entertained. The creature is a quite gigantic (12’) bipedal lion with a cheerful smile.

The Koosh Lion can Move Silently as if it were a 10th level thief, despite its great size. It stalks those who look somewhat like guards (this definitely includes adventurers.) Once it gets close enough, it pounces upon them. The Koosh Lion intends these attacks playfully, and will attack only for subdual damage (using the subdual damage rules in the Player’s Handbook). Its attacks consider of two claws and a bite.

If adventurers fight back in the same spirit of playful companionship (and subdual damage), the Koosh Lion will consider them friends, and join them in travels as long as it is well-fed and not harmed. It will try to help them by fetching objects, and will do leaps and tricks and pranks to keep them entertained.

If the Koosh Lion is ever attacked with lethal attacks (or damaging spells), it becomes surprised and upset. It gives unhappy warning yelp the first time, then retaliates with lethal attacks at further betrayal.

A Koosh Lion’s hide is rubbery and bouncy. Whenever an attack against it misses, the attacker has a 50% chance of being knocked away 10” by the bounce of force. The Koosh Lion is cunning in using this bounce to its advantage.

by Bob Faulkner
The Legom - should and will be made out of whatever lego you have to hand. I have provided a visual guide above on how to scale your LEGOM to an appropriate challenge rating.

The LEGOM is an ancient and mystical art, developed by the Wizard Aeki as a means of flatpacking magical war robots, the art of building the LEGOM has been lost in the annals of time.

Here are some rumours about LEGOMs:

  • Every part of a LEGOM is a LEGOM. The smallest unit of LEGOM is a Brick.
  • All LEGOMs can be constructed out of other LEGOMs using nothing but an allan key.
  • LEGOMs were used in the "Constructors War" where they faced off against the dreaded legions of the Meccanom.
  • LEGOM "Bricks" are highly prized artifacts in their own right, if you know the proper sigils and rituals, they can be adapted to any number of menial tasks.
  • LEGOM speak an ancient language that nobody understands.
  • LEGOMs can combine themselves together to make bigger LEGOMs
  • LEGOMs can break themselves down into smaller LEGOMs when they need to multitask
  • LEGOM land is sometimes marked on ancient maps, and the location of such a place would be of great interest to many treasure seekers.
  • LEGOMs are dismissed as an interesting failed experiment by some, who prefer custom built golems constructed out of hardier materials to serve a specific function.
Legoms are suitable for any genre of game, and can form castle features, or spaceships with equal ease.

Man-Tain (and Banino)
by Kris
Man-Tain, The Plantain That Walks Like A Man

SolitaryLargePlantain Club (d10+3 damage) 
16 HP
1 Armor
Special Qualities: Plant, Produce a banino instantly (can only have one at a time)

Put your ear to the ground. Hear that “thump, thump, thump”? The plantains, they are restless tonight. Man-Tain comes -- the fabled, putrescent plantain who walks like a man -- and he absolutely will not stop, ever, until we are mashed.   

InstinctTo mash living things
  • Bleed slippery mush when damaged
  • Stink
  • Torpedo out of peel in a suicide attack
  • Trample villagers

BaniƱoSolitarySmall, StealthyGnawing Teeth (d4 damage) 
3 HPClose
Special Qualities: Plant, Grow into a Man-Tain in one week (only if progenitor is destroyed)

InstinctTo protect precious seeds
  • Bite into sword arm/casting hand and hang on
  • Disappear into the jungle when Man-Tain is destroyed
  • Get underfoot