Creative Pursuits D&D

RPG Characters Don’t Need Long Backstories

Let how you got to second level be your “backstory”. This game is about telling a story of what happened at the table, not what happened in the novel you’ll never finish.

Creative Pursuits D&D

Make Unique Monsters Your Players Will Never Forget

A tip for game masters: change the appearance or behavior of a standard monster to make the experience more dramatic for your players. The echoes of the encounter will reverberate long after the session is over.

Creative Pursuits D&D

The Loadstar: a Spiky Monster That Will Weigh You Down

We first heard the scraping of cold iron against granite from somewhere in the darkness beyond our lantern glow. From the shadows emerged three orbs seemingly made of innumerable nails pointing in every direction. They floated over the cavern floor, slowly approaching us. The dwarf charged, his mouth watering at the prospect of battle, and his axe cut between the spikes to crack in inner globe. As the creature shuddered, the other two spun around to his flanks, then dove in. Long spikes glanced off his gleaming plate armor, but one or two found their way between the gaps. He howled in pain and retreated. We were ten paces closer to the exit and ahead of him and reached sunlight first.

When the dwarf emerged, both arms were stretched out stiffly. He begged for relief. Where the spikes broke skin were irregular cysts topped by an oozing wound. Nearly ten pounds of flesh had grown where he was injured, pushing painfully against the constricting armor until we’d cut it away.

This was our first encounter with the notorious loadstar. It’s vital statistics are as follows.

  • Armor Class: 17
  • Hit Dice: 2
  • Number of Attacks: once per round, it attempts to drive a spike that does 1d6 points of damage plus creates a heavy larval sac
  • Movement: 20′ every 10 seconds, floating
  • Resists magic as 2nd level fighter
  • Fanatical attitude, never losing morale

The loadstar appears as a ball of thin, iron spikes floating in mid-air. Immature subjects may be as small as a fist, but those most often encountered are between two and three feet in diameter. Their shape suggests a sea urchin, though they are always found underground. Beneath a hard outer shell of iron lies the bright orange goo that serves as the loadstar’s guts.

When the loadstar strikes, its spikes dig into living flesh and deliver a fast-growing embryo. In one round, the wound site expands to form a blob under the skin weighing 10lbs and containing about 1 gallon of an orange liquid summoned from an extra-dimensional space. In the center floats the larva of the loadstar. If the site is lanced (doing another 1d4 points of damage) and squeezed immediately, the liquid may be flushed, killing the larva. Otherwise, the orange ichor converts to pure adipose tissue 10 minutes after injury. From that moment on, the fat must be lost in an ordinary way, typically through depriving oneself of food. 30 days after initial injury, a small loadstar emerges from the skin and floats away to find darkness.

The immediate consequence of a loadstar sting is the burden of ten extra pounds carried. This extra encumbrance can be debilitating to smaller adventurers or those struct multiple times. Adventures may need to drop all of their belongings in order to escape.

The curing of the disease, typically done by magic, kills the incubating larva but does not remove the excess fat. Clerics are known to return the body to its previous state with a restoration spell. Otherwise, the fat may be slowly lost at a rate of one pound per week by cutting the amount of food eaten. Intensive fasting can increase this rate to five pounds per week, but the subject must save versus death or else fail to complete the fast, making no progress for the week.

Loadstars are mindless but will instinctively moderate their attacks, typically avoiding attacking a victim after it already carries one or more larvea.

I offer this monster description under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Pursuits Games

The Dormayvoo: A Sleeping Zombie that Delivers Nightmares

“It shambled out of the swamp, muck dripping from its sole article of clothing, a loincloth held up by a fraying rope,” the old man began. “The stilted gate told me it wasn’t alive, then I looked at its face. The eyes were shut tight!” Thus began the tale of what we came to call the dormayvoo, a variety of zombie known for its sleepwalking appearance. Always, the eyes were shut, and while the arms moved with some uncertainty, we recognized a primitive intelligence driving it towards the closest living being. When victims were within reach, deadly blows rained down, swiftly sending even a stout fellow off into eternal night.

The vital statics of the dormayvoo are as follows.

  • Armor Class: 12
  • Hit Dice: 2
  • Number of Attacks: 1 punch doing 1d8 points of damage plus magical sleep effect
  • Movement: 20′ every 10 seconds
  • Resists magic as 2nd level fighter
  • Fanatical attitude, never losing morale

The dormayvoo appears as a humanoid zombie with no signs of decay. In poor light, it may be mistaken for a living being, but its face is slack and the eyes remain closed. It dreams a nightmare version of reality around it, allowing unfailing movement towards the living on which it will direct tireless blows from its fists. Being undead, it is immune to effects such as sleep or fear. With eyes always shut, it cannot be blinded, and it never sees holy symbols from which to be turned by a cleric. It can be destroyed by a high level cleric.

Whenever the dormayvoo lands a blow of its fist, the victim must save versus a magical sleep. Heroes of all levels may be affected by this magic, except that those of elvish blood are immune. Those unlucky enough to fall under the effect fall down as if dead. In fact, the victims appear indistinguishable from the dead. 1d4 rounds later, they rise up as dormayvoos themselves. Strong fighters wearing armor can be especially hard on their former companions. But these victims are not lost forever. The spell is a curse that may be removed by a wizard or cleric, after which the unfortunate victim is restored to their former life.

I offer this monster description under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Pursuits Games

The Bestomper: A Bizarre Monster that Looks Like a Foot

Legend tells of the profane experiments of the wizard Siahac, he who dwells in a black pyramid somewhere in the western peaks. Among his many inscrutable acts, one of the most amazing is the creation of the bestomper. He unleashed it upon an army of gnolls that approached his home. Bards in the taverns of St. Orlan still sing of how the creature that looked like a gigantic foot blasted the gnolls with various beams from its five eyes and stomped the rest into unidentifiable gore. When the battle finished, Siahac let the monster loose in the caverns under his black pyramid. Perhaps it torments the dwarves and goblins in their dim passages still.

The vital statics of the bestomper are as follows.

  • Armor Class: 20
  • Hit Dice: 11
  • Number of Attacks: one of the following each round
    • A stomp that does 3d6 points of damage
    • A bite that does 2d6 points of damage and has a 5% chance of decapitating on a successful hit
    • A blast of energy of one of its five eyes
  • Movement: magical levitation in all directions at 20′ per 10-second round
  • Resists magic as an 11th level mage
  • Approximately 8′ long by 4′ wide
  • Fanatical attitude, losing morale less than 3% of the time (11 on the 2-12 scale)

The bestomper reminds one of a giant foot, except that each toe bears an unblinking eye, and on the ball of the foot a slobbering mouth gapes to reveal jagged teeth. While the bestomper is agitated, a wail emits from its mouth in a 90 degree arc. All creatures with 40′ must save versus magic or fall prone for 1d6 rounds.

The bestomper hovers over the ground by magical levitation. Suddenly, it leaps 20′ in any direction to bring down the full force of its heel on an unlucky victim. Alternatively, it may tilt forward to apply its mouth to a victim, usually targeting the head of humanoids. 5% of the time when it bites down, it decapitates the victim (rolls a natural 20). Any successful bite attack heals the bestomper by 1d6 points of damage.

The hide of the bestomper is a tough leather that resists blows and slashes, but its eyes are more delicate. The toes wriggle about, making them 20% harder to hit (AC 24), but doing 10 points of damage incapacitates the eye, leaving it unable to use its unique energy beam. Eye blasts automatically hit so long as there is line of sight. The victim can only hope to resist the magical effect with a saving throw. Use the following table to randomly determine the type of energy beam for each toe.

  1. Paralyzation — the victim is held in place
  2. Weaken — the victim is enfeebled
  3. Confusion — a 10′ wide by 20′ long beam clouds the minds of targets
  4. Fire — a column of fire does 3d6 points of damage
  5. Dispell Magic — a wave of anti-magic envelopes the victim, disabling any magic effects and enchantments on items
  6. Freeze — a blast of ice does 2d6 points of damage and stuns the victim for one round
  7. Blindness — the eyes of the victim fill with energy and burst, producing permanent blindness
  8. Disintegrate — the victim and all items held are turned into pure energy that dissipates into thin air
  9. Death — the target’s eyes close, limbs slump and the lifeless body tumbles
  10. Slow — the victim find the world passing by at twice the speed, allowing only half the number of usual actions

Each toe has a single type of energy beam, different from the others. It is assumed the bestomper changes which 5 types it has available on the daily basis.

Whispered rumors, likely only speculation, say that Siahac created more than one bestomper, that he has improved upon his original design to create a bestomper with a brain in each toe that allows for simultaneous attacks. Facing five energy attacks every round would make such a beast nearly unbeatable.

I offer this monster description under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.