Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bestiary I - The book is here!

This is what the now 146 pages 'RPG-Creatures - Bestiary I' has to offer:

* 9 book exclusive creatures, which I will never post anywhere online, plus the first 45 from the blog, for a total of 54 original creatures.
* 54 full-page color illustrations of the creatures
* A thumbnailed interactive 'Table of Contents', linked directly to the creature images and descriptions, and quick access to the TOC from most pages of the book. (only in the eBook, of course)
* An alphabetical index of the creatures.
* A two-page text of introduction
* A two-page guide to the stats
* A well balanced lay-out and design (for a seriously improved presentation)
* A fine piece of cover art
* Three additional interior color illustrations,
*  One piece of b&w collage of creatures (sketches) that never made it to the bestiary. (eBook only)
* A hundred tiny and sometimes big corrections of language, grammar, and spelling (which now is fully American spelling btw, since that's where the biggest audience is...so far.)
* Many small improvements to, and corrections of, the stats of some creatures.

The eBook is available for $9.50 at RPGNow, where you can also check out a full-size preview. Link!


© Copyright 2011 - Nicholas Cloister

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beauty and the Rage

Someone wrote me an e-mail recently, asking for more playable creatures. The Darwandir is what came out from that request. With humanoid creatures I find myself writing longer than average descriptions. There is suddenly a wider cultural aspect to address, and I get the feeling I could write several pages about them, perhaps even books. In this context I try to focus on the features that mainly seperate them from human beings, and then just briefly touch some other areas of interest... which leaves some creative blanks for the Game Master. If I ever feel like writing more about any of these creatures I might add very short short-stories to the blog (just and idea I had). Also, if any of you guys ever write any texts, related to these creatures (in an rpg-context, for example), or have suggestions or ideas that might broaden (or perhaps even be a variation on) the initial information, feel free to send them to me, and I will consider adding them below the original creature description, together with your name, and a link to your website (if you want to). I would still love to see more interactivity here. This is the 45th creature btw, and 45 is a magic number. I'll tell you why next time. Until then, go dance with the charming Darwa'an.


CATEGORY: Two-legged Mammal
TERRAIN: Forests, mountains (any)
FOOD: Omnivore
AGGRESSION: Normal (to high)
SIZE: 6’ 5” - 8’ 1” (195-245 cm) tall
NUMBERS: Up to hundreds

CHARM: 3-15
(If stats of humans range from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running x 1,3, Swimming x 1,2, Climbing x 2)
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

AVERAGE: 1 (3)
BODY: 1 (3)

The skin of the Darwandir is more resilient than human skin, and will turn harder still when the creatures throw themselves into action (see 'Powers')

2 FISTS: 1-4
2 KICKS: 1-6
(If a Long Sword causes 1-8 points of damage)

The legs and arms of the Darwandir are long and powerful. They can deal out bone-breaking punches and kicks, and will fight unarmed if required, even when facing armored enemies.

HARDEN SKIN: When the Darwandir go into battle their skin hardens to protect them from harm. With adrenaline rushing their joints and muscles stay flexible, while the outer layers turn tough and wood-like. This cellular change is quick and swiftly subsides as the creatures calm down again. The color of their skin shifts a bit when it hardens, towards gray, brown, or green, and may turn dappled, and textured, like the surface of bark.

FINAL RAGE: In a situation where the Darwandir find themselves outnumbered, betrayed, or otherwise near death, they can decide to summon the full power of the inner rage. At such times their entire biology and character transform into a vessel of elemental fury. They quickly darken into the blackest wood, and their horn-like outgrowth lengthen. In their eyes flash the chaos and power of an untamed world, where lightning and violent storms raise the seas and whip mountains into sand and earth. The crude power of the past soars up from their soul and into the living flesh of their current being. This causes a +10 bonus to Strength (and +3 to all damage rolls), + 5 to all attack rolls, and adds 15 to their Magic Power. If the Darwandir still lives when the danger is over, they can never return to their previous selves. They lose all bonuses, but their nature is morphed into a dark sort of beast, with little or no memories of its previous existence. Tired and confused they usually escape far into the deep woods. There they merge with the trees, or join up with orcs or other creatures more similar to their new nature. Needless to say, the Darwandir do not use this power unless they expect to perish.

Savages with a taste for elegance. That’s what many see when they look at the Darwandir. Tall and graceful, yet with a core of primordial wilderness – a raw essence, that despite the ornaments of culture, howls in unison with the beasts at night.

The Darwandir adore the feast and the dance, but have no desire for the comforts of the city. They are drawn to the arts and the wisdom of the sages, but care little for novelties, and require no empires. Like ancient gypsies, rooted in the soil of the past, they intermingle with modern cultures. Though socially apt, they are restless when far from home. Among the highest of trees they build their huts, but some carve halls in the deep mountains.

They are children of the earth, sprung from the roots of the first trees. Inside of them, the elemental forces have not yet settled. Their skins and muscles must always move, or their bodies will stiffen and turn back into wood. An hour of stillness is all they can endure, before the earth calls them back, and draws them into a state of eternal petrification. Void of sleep and dreams they walk beneath the stars, singing songs of moons and magic.

The Darwandir live in matriarchal tribes. The females are a full foot (30 cm) taller than the males. The men are wilder, but receive no training in the arts and sciences. Most are hunters or warriors, while the women govern the social and political affairs. All Darwandir tribe-leaders, druids, sages, and magicians are female, and most prominent fighters too. These constitute an elite in the Darwandir societies and are called the Darwa’an. The largest tribes are about 500 strong, but many Darwa’an meet up with the elite of other tribes to learn from one another.

A Darwandir must learn at a young age to tame the wilderness within. Even adults regularly fight to harness the ancient rage, forever present in the depth of them. There is no inherent evil to this inner power, but an uncultured directness, that will not succumb to reflection. It screams for absolute freedom and to tear through every obstacle without thought, and without conscience. There are within all Darwandir tribes those who would have it otherwise, and who wishes to celebrate and unleash the dark rage in all of them. The Darwa’an do their best to keep such forces subdued and pacified. The elders teach that the Wild One within serves them well with energy and strength, but unfettered it would destroy them, and turn them into something degraded and demonic.

Managing this yearning is a great part of Darwandir upbringing and education. When a Darwandir loses temper it can be seen not only in the eyes but in their entire appearance. They seem possessed and may mom-entarily turn bestial in their choice of words and actions. In Darwanidir societies this is part of daily life, and dealt with, but in other cultures, these sudden displays of primoridal rage are not always well handled. Most Darwandir quickly return to their normal selves, and make sure to resolve the situation, as well as they can.

Music and food are great sources of pleasure for the Darwandir. Most play some instrument or sing. They keep no pets, and use no steeds or beasts of burden. The Darwanir loath bows, crossbows, and javelins, and will not even throw their daggers. When the time comes to fight they do so face to face with their enemies in a dance of dirt, sweat, and blood. They never wear shoes or boots, and dress light even in the winter. Some wear armor of leather, scales, or horn, but shields, helmets, and suits of steel are extremely rare.

The Darwandir worship the heavenly bodies and various spirits of the earth,. Their magic is based around songs weaved in the forlorn past, and they have great knowledge about all things that grow. They all have black hair, live for 200-300 years, and don’t care much for swimming.

(Check out more creatures in the 'Creature Archive' menu to the left.)

© Copyright 2011 - Nicholas Cloister

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Commencing the Faerie Genocide

As you probably have noticed I have no blog-roll here. I barely have any links at all. This is mainly because I want the bestiary clean, but now I'm thinking it would be nice to at least send some traffic back to those places who direct a lot this way. I will place these links in a list called "Benefactors", and update it every two months or so, based on the five websites most successful in directing visitors to RPG CReatures during that time. I will also thank them directly in the text here, which will give them a place/link in the bestiary for a long time to come. I begin this by looking back over 2011 and see that apart from great established forums and art-sites the following five blogs have been most helpful with drawing visitors to RPG-Creatures:

Greywulf's Lair
Quasar Dragon
Storie Di Ruolo (Italian)
Greifenklaue's Blog (German)
Barbarians of Lemuria (German)

Needless to say, any blog or website mentioning or recommending RPG-Creatures, know what they're talking about ; ) and should be worth a visit. Thanks to all of these, and if you don't want to be on the 'Benefactors' list, just throw me an email, and I'll remove you at once.

Creature 44 is one of those weird and unlikely life-forms that remind me of my early days of role-playing. Do you remember when you were young, and your mind was still soft enough to accept deviations from its logical discrimination of reality? You know when you could encounter basically anything in a dungeon, without particular cause, and outside of any credible (stringent) story-line? Do you remember how it was all very magical then? A few years later the Game Master would make sure to install a toilet compartment (of sorts) in every orcs' nest, and remind you that bow-strings turned useless in rain. I guess we are different here, as people. Some of us seem to be very stuck on logic, while others are more open to the strange and inexplicable. If you enjoy the works of David Lynch and Hayao Miyazaki you probably belong to the later kind, and then there is also a greater chance that you enjoy this creature. I would prefer myself to have this strange revelation just show up and have no idea of what it was or where it came from, but since this is a bestiary I have done my best to give it a background and context of sorts... oh, and when I say great thickets, I mean GREAT thickets... and from there I will let your imagination set the boundaries.


CATEGORY: Mammal (magical)
TERRAIN: In or nearby great thickets and brushwood
FOOD: Carnivore
SIZE: 7 feet (210 cm) tall, without facial horns

STRENGTH: 24-30 (2-3)
AGILITY: 7-11 (8-12)
ENDURANCE: 15-20 (5-7)
(If stats of a human ranges from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running x 1 (Running x 0,4)
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

HIT POINTS: 25-29 (2-5)
(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

AVERAGE: 3 (0)
HEAD: 4 (0)
BODY: 3 (0)

The hide of the Sarranath is tough to withstand the many thorns and nettles of the great thickets in which they move. The facial skin especially is hardened by years of rooting around in the undergrowth, and through thorny magical kingdoms.

1 BITE: 1-4 (1)
2 CLAWS: 1-8 (1-2)
2 CLAWED HANDS: 1-6 (1)
(If a Long Sword causes 1-8 points of damage)

The giant tusks, or facial blades of the Sarranath are formidable weapons. They move up or down with the jaws of the creature, but cannot be wielded separately. The Sarranath uses these to swiftly penetrate thick shrubbery, and similar faerie hide-outs. The claws are used for more methodical cleansing, and the powerful hands to dig into hidden burrows, or to crush and squeeze the secrets and life out of the Sarranath's prey. With an arsenal of natural weapons the creatures see no real use for crafted arms and tools.

DETECT INVISIBILITY: The Sarranath eyes have turned sharp and can perceive invisible things and creatures with the same clarity as the rest of the world.

SHRINK: Once a day the Sarranath can cast a powerful spell of shrinking, and turn swiftly into a rabbit-sized version of itself. The spell lasts for two hours and may be used without restrictions. The increased vulnerability of this state, means the Sarranath uses this power rarely, and only when it can think of no other way of spotting new faerie rich hunting grounds. (See parenthesised characteristics for small size values.)

In the greater thickets, where pixies, brownies, and faeries make their kingdoms, there hunt the Sarranath. Once a group of sly trolls discovered that by eating the wee folk, they could extract their magic and reshape it for their own warped purposes. From that day they would feed solely on the faerie kind, and utilized their new enchantments to this very aim. With faerie magic pulsing through their dark blood, the trolls transformed into the Sarranath, and tore through the thorns and brushwood with previously unparalleled efficiency. No longer mere muscular brutes, the Sarranath trolls developed powers of faerie-like mischief and trickery, and new strategies in their hunt for fae flesh.

The magic power of the Sarranath is limited, but they can cast minor spells of concealment and illusion, and produce a variety of magical traps. Still, they delight in charging through the bushes and ripping the fabric of the faerie worlds to pieces. The acquisition of subtler and more sophisticated ways of hunting, have not reduced their trollish nature. Rather, they have turned even greedier and more bestial in their hunger for further faecraft.

The Sarranath live and hunt solitary or in pairs. Competition tears any group apart. They move about on all fours. Being forward heavy, they must use at least one hand for support. The strange petal collars works as partial camouflage, and some Sarranath are all but fully covered in this bodily foliage, which change colors periodically to emulate seasonal flowers and plants.

The creatures sleep in great dugouts close to their hunting grounds. Sleeping inside the thickets would make them too exposed to the faerie powers. They can live for 200 years, and occupy themselves with little but hunting. Faeries are hard to catch and doing so requires the single minded attention and the day long devotion of the Sarranath trolls – who unlike their distant relatives can roam freely in full sunlight.

(Check out more creatures in the 'Creature Archive' menu to the left.)

© Copyright 2011 - Nicholas Cloister

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blood Sugar Death Magik

Hey all! The length of the Creature Archive list is becoming decent, I think, and it continues to grow. I suppose the number of visitors should also be, but summer seems to drag people away from their computers... which may be a good thing, all things considered. Do all of these critters a favour and tell someone about RPG-Creatures today. I fear this bestiary is still largely undiscovered, and I have no real idea of how it can reach a wider audience. I can't currently afford sporting it in any of the huge conventions in the US...(which would include besting the Atlantic) though I might try next year. Role-players are either too far apart these days, or the bestiary isn't making enough of an impression to spread mouth by mouth...yet. Oh well, I'll keep the little beasties coming and we'll see. Just don't keep it a secret. ; )

So, where was I? Yes...the blood. Here is an ex-demon that could cause a few troublesome adventures I believe. Anatomically I noticed it has a lot in common with the Con'Laih, but apart from their mysterious backgrounds, and their ability to produce strange energies, and hopping, they have very little in common... wait a minute, that's quite a bit to share. Perhaps they actually are related? Whatever the case, they now share the same bestiary. Here is the Darratha for you! Sweet dreams are made of these...


CATEGORY: Reptile (demonic)
TERRAIN: Mountains and caves (Any)
FOOD: Carnivore
SIZE: 3' 5" - 3' 7" (100-120 cm) tall

(If stats of a human ranges from 3 to 18)

SPEED: Running (hopping) x 1, Swimming x 2
(Multiple is times human speed)

(Ranges from 0-100)

(If a human commoner has about 11 hit points)

BACK: 11 (0 without shell)
(If Full Plate Armour is 10)

The overlapping leathery shells, strengthened by bony spikes, that cover the back of the Darratha, give a natural protection like few others in the animal world. Underneath the shields is a soft and feathery structure to protect the Darratha from its own razor sharp physique.

1 BITE: 2-5
(If a Long Sword causes 1-8 points of damage)

The sharp teeth of the Darratha are short but with its bite comes an infection that few withstand (hard saving throw vs Endurance). The blood of the victim is injected by a demonic bacterium that reproduces and permeates the blood system in two day's time (see 'Powers'). The dagger-like claws of the front legs are used as pointy hooks towards soft throats, or cutting devices, ripping up into the guts from below.

CALLING THE BLOOD: The Darratha usually waits a while before attacking, to scan the state of creatures or beings. The blood of an infected one may be called from afar. The Darratha can produce a third magical eye hovering between the horns of its back. Within sixty yards (54m) this eye can pierce into the body of the infected and control the blood in the victim's vessels. To uphold this abysmal magic the Darratha must remain focused. Attacks causing more than 2 points of damage will thwart the call for the round to come, and keep the creature busy defending itself. When successful, the magic will generate a great increase in the blood temperature, and cause an instant fever in the infected targets, affecting all within range with a -4 penalty on all rolls. The Darratha may use a second undisturbed round to further this power, and cause arteries to blow from within (causing 2-8 points of damage). A third round will suffer the heart of all victims to explode and blood to burst out through all orifices. A successful roll vs Endurance may stall this graphical finale for another round and reduce the effect to another 3-9 points of internal damage. If the Darratha is disturbed the call fails and the blood is immediately returned to initial temperatures. It may also deliberately keep the effect low to force or control its targets. The Darratha can use this power at will, but unless the bacteria have had two days to reproduce the call will cause nothing but a warm and uneasy sensation. The infection only spreads further if the blood of a victim is intermingled with another's. An exchange of saliva, or other intimate ways of relation are not enough, as the bacteria never reaches these bodily fluids, as it does in the Darratha.

When the Darratha are young they are limbless. Born in the waters of cold subterranean lakes, they swim around like armoured ray-fish for some years before they crawl ashore. There they develop legs and haste through the tunnels and mountains like curious dogs, but hopping, in a more rabbit-like fashion. Restlessly they hunt and eat, killing indiscriminately, and eventually, leave to examine the greater world.

Ages ago some Darratha young are said to have entered into this world from the dark waters of the Abyss, finding a passageway of sorts, leading eternally upwards, until it connected with water-filled caves far beneath the weight of ancient mountains. Now, folklore proclaim, they are trapped like misfits in a landscape foreign to them – lost in regions too bright and lush for their nature.

With senses always alert to the smell of evil, seeking eagerly for a trace of their cradle, some Darratha mysteriously manage to find a master to guide them. Several adept mages of demonology and necromancy have found a Darratha waiting on their doorstep, anxious to be led, submitting to the role of familiar, for guidance, for company, or a hope perhaps of one day being channeled back into the depths where they once dwelt.

These creatures have been closely connected with death in several cultures, and the way they often stand still at a distance watching, with a blood red gaze piercing the darkness, has a fearful impact on most beings. They have served many dark powers through time, and have a deservedly bad reputation. Seeing a Darratha in the streets typically means trouble. Wicked men have used their saliva to contaminate drinks, and water-supplies, and one infamous cleric went as far as breeding a small army of them in great tubs of copper beneath his temple, in an attempt to control his unwilling disciples.

The layered shields of the Darratha are highly flexible and shift as soon as the creature moves its head or bends its double spine. The front legs grow a softer but similar structure as the creature matures, while the back legs remain comparatively bare. Along the back of the creature are flexible needle tubes full with the red venom that is also abundant in the saliva of the creature, when it attacks.

Darrathas hiss and produce unsettling rattling sounds with their back-shields, but have no advanced means of communication. They live for 30-40 years and return into the mountains to breed and lay 4-6 eggs in lakes hidden to most. No one has ever seen them asleep.

(Check out more creatures in the 'Creature Archive' menu to the left.)

© Copyright 2011 - Nicholas Cloister