Monday, December 27, 2010

Polar panic as ice bursts open

RPG creatures celebrated its first year of existence on the 12th of December 2010. With this creature included it makes for a little less than one new creature every two weeks. That is not bad, though two new creatures per week is more of the speed I'd like to see on this.
26 457 visits was registered during year one, and 9 415 of those are from revisiting users.

No one can tell what 2011 holds in store, but I hope to find the time and resources to keep this bestiary growing. In line with the theme of the snow and ice here in Sweden I'm ending this first year with a polar creature. This one deserved a visual background and context, not only to fill up the page, but also to make the thing believable. When interacting with a world and put in realistic lightning even the strangest of forms can come to life... with some luck, and a lot of your imagination. ;)

Happy New Year! To all of you.

/N Cloister


TERRAIN: Cold water (salt and brackish)
FOOD: Carnivore
SIZE: 23 - 30 feet long (7-9 meters)

AGILITY: 10-12
(If stats of a human ranges from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running (Crawling) x 0,5 Swimming x 8
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

(If Full Plate Armour is 10)

Underneath the hardy skin of the Bhorda is a thick layer of blubber, keeping it warm and protecting its vital parts. The creature is insensitive to cuts and damages to this outer layer of fat. Daggers and short axes will do little or no harm to it, unless directed specifically at the head and eyes.

1 BITE: 2-8
(If a Long Sword makes a damage of 1-8)

The Bhorda's favourite way of hunting is to swim with full speed from below to crash through the ice with its bony flipper ends first. The prey, surprised and often stunned by the attack, is then mauled unconscious and usually swallowed whole.

ICE BREAKING SONG: In areas where the ice is too thick for the Bhorda to penetrate, the creature can apply a deep and extended bellowing roar to create cracks in the ice and break it open. The vibrations of this sound are powerful but must work on the ice for some time before it comes apart. Surface instability can be felt from above, and a deep eerie song is audible even through thick layers of ice.

JET OF WATER: As the Bhorda surfaces it can apply a single jet of water to throw down prey fleeing from the scene. Out of the water the creature is slow, and the jet is often its only chance to bring down prey still standing after its initial strike. The creature can not keep the water inside while breathing, or eating. It must be shot out as a jet or simply let out, before any serious manoeuvres are undertaken on land. The jet can reach up to 30 feet (10 meters) from the Bhorda. If the water is icy cold the shock itself might bring the target to the ground. In either case a successful agility roll is needed to stay on foot. The jet is shot out through the inner and very pliable mouth of the creature.

Though the head and flippers of this creatures are very unlike the rest of the family, the Bhorda is a great seal. Huge and monstrous it can crush and consume a walrus without much problem, and hunts basically all life-forms on and underneath the ice. It spends most of its time in the cold polar waters but may venture anywhere in search for food. It will survive no more than a week outside of water, and must breath air at least once an hour.

Bhordas have occasionally treated ships as if they were ice, and swam straight into them, breaking great holes in the hull. The inner worm-like mouth can be extended 10 feet (3 meters) from the creatures, and have ripped out members of the crew before anyone really knew what happened. As the Bhorda leaves, cold water starts flooding the vessel, normally resulting in a lot more food for the seal.

In all cases, the element of surprise is the Bhorda's main tactics. The back flippers of this creature have merged completely into a large fin and it can generate impressive speed under water. Once on land it is comparatively clumsy and will only leave the ocean to pursue wounded, or confused animals, out of reach from the shore or hole.

The clawed tentacles on top of the creature's head can be moved to some extent, and are used mainly to ward off birds from the head when the Bhorda basks a few hours in the seasonal sunlight. Its skin ranges from red to black and is often speckled. Its scent is similar to that of other mammals of the sea, and the grunts and roars let our when on land have a complainant tone.

The Bhorda live for over 500 years and mate only once a century. The long life span has granted it a special reputation in folk medicine, claiming the rich fat to hold life-extending powers and to preserve the youthful qualities in skin. It may seem absurd in the ugly face of this beast, but some queens have ordered great hunts on the Bhordas and had royal alchemists produce anti-wrinkle ointments of beauty from their blubber.

Apart from the rare events of reproduction the Bhordas move about alone, and stay well away from other members of their species. They are nevertheless feared greatly by the seamen of the North and tend to keep ice skaters away from frivolous escapades on the open sea.

© Copyright 2010 - Nicholas Cloister

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Original creature concepts

One of the real challenges with inventing a new creature is the desire to do something different. The more different you make it the less creature-like and believable it turns. There is a balance of sorts between 'original' and 'working'. Also, in an rpg context, the design must serve some kind of use or interest to the plot, and preferably deliver 'that' special mood.

While I find some really weird creatures absolutely amazing (like the many strange life-forms you find in a coral reef), there are only a few of those that would serve to make a story more interesting, and even fewer that can pose as some kind of action, or suspense element in a fantasy adventure. It seems I always end up drawing creatures that I enjoy, and if they are all that different or all that special, obviously doesn't hold that much priority to me. Perhaps it should? This next creature is something that reminds me of a great number of traditional fantasy beasts and beings, but for some reason, it wanted to see the light of day anyway.

Here is something I put together on YouTube, that you might want to look at, in 1080p: LINK

Finally, many thanks to all those who mentioned this blog in emails, twitts, facebook updates, forums etc. Keep it up, and I'll keep the creatures coming.

Now let us welcome, without prejudice, directly from the dark depths; The Holath-Uhr!
..and perhaps I'll manage to strike a more original chord in the future.


CATEGORY: Demon (Orc)
TERRAIN: The Abyss
FOOD: Carnivore
SIZE: 6-7 feet tall (180-210 cm) when completely upright
NUMBERS: 1 to hundreds

CHARM: 1-5
(If stats of a human ranges from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running x 1, Flying (eagle x 0,5)
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

(If Full Plate Armour is 10)

The Holath-Uhr is partly scaled and horned. The rest is covered in a sinewy and tough skin. These creatures' reaction to pain and injury is not one of screaming. They seem to accept it as an inevitable part of their every day reality – a minor nuisance, and a slight distraction at most.

1 BITE: 1-4
2 KICKS: 2-6
(If a Long Sword makes a damage of 1-8)

The Holaths primarily make use of sharp and heinous blades forged in the chasms and pits they inhabit, but shy no means of killing.

UNHOLY WORDS: In combat the Holaths utter unholy phrases and ancient words of power to dismantle the morale of the enemy. These words seem to flow out naturally from their throats in warfare and give power and strength to their attacks. All within the range of hearing suffers a -2 penalty to all rolls unless a mental resilience test is passed. This effect lasts for the remainder of the encounter. The Holaths, and all evil forces aligned to them, gain a +2 benefit on all attacks. Clerics may neutralize these dark chantings with loud prayer and blessings.

ANCIENT LUSTRE: Something in the dark second birth of the Holaths (see description) brought about a mysterious glow and a mesmerizing lustre to their presence. The evil and violent nature of these creatures is uncompromising and direct. Together these attributes convey an otherworldly presence. Like fallen angels, still empowered by the charisma of Heaven, the Holath-Uhr are formidable to all but the strongest of wills. Standing in their way is a testimony to the character and morale of any man or woman.
In the presence of Holaths all beings must make a test of their morale or mental resilience to stay opposed to them. A failure may result in passivity or conflict of mind, while a disastrous roll will make the witness draw back in submission, or even fall face down in worship.

In very old orc records one can find entries about the Holath. They are described in a double-edged manner, portrayed mainly as strong, heroic and idealized as chief among all orcs. On the other hand they are “those without being”, “the passionless ones”, and “the pathless spears”. In one chronicle the following passage takes us to the point: “The Holath had no sense of fear, law, or limit. In winter they pierced far and deep into the realms beneath the mountains. There they blended with the reptiles of myth and joined with them in unlawful and boundless manners. As they returned and faced again the starlit lands, they were strangers to the orcs that beheld them. Winged and furious they would hear no command and hold to no oath. They had become the Uhr, and the orcs abandoned them. We faced their hatred. We conquered them. We cursed them, and bound them to the space-less depths of their unwholesome rebirth.”

Scholars now categorize the Holaths as Demons, and place them with other unearthly life-forms of the Underworld. Their minds have gone beyond logic and they act with the pure malevolence and senseless hunger of the Abyss.

At times desperate orc clans summon them to their service, but the power of the Holath-Uhr is almost impossible to control. A break-through into the material plane of existence, is bound to result in chaos unleashed, and the mountains teeming with the unfettered powers of the deep.

Winged, the Holath can fly, but in a crude and clumsy manner. They cannot stay aloft for more than a minute or two, but long enough to crash down upon their enemies from above. They make no use of clothes, armour or decoration, but may carry items of power in the form of bracelets, girdles, rings etc. They normally wield dark weapons but lacking arms will not stop them from attacking.

In all, they are set on killing, eating, and to further their power, and will use whatever means they can to achieve it. Patience, and negotiations are not included. In the world of the Holath-Uhr, there is no such thing as the long way around. They serve no one, unless physically restrained and forced about. There is no fear, and nothing beneath the moon is holy or forbidden.

The Holath naturally team up and wreak havoc in joined forces. No leader seems to be needed, but a shared interest in destruction, and the dominion of their demonic species, takes them ever onward. Outside of the Abyss, they can live for 100 years.

© Copyright 2010 - Nicholas Cloister