Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Shapeless Congeries: Shoggoths

Among the more frightening and iconic monsters from the Cthulhu mythos are the shoggoths, the protoplasmic servitor race created by the Elder Things to build their terrible cities. H.P. Lovecraft included them in his novella At the Mountains of Madness (1931).

The Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder Kickstarter came with several shoggoth miniatures. I was initially disappointed that they weren’t larger, but they are nice sculpts that could be mounted on a Huge base. I knew I wanted to paint one with a blue-black color with glowing green eyes. For my first attempt I primed it gray and then went with a soft blue base coat, but this was much too light. I tried again with a black primer and a thin base of the same soft blue—this approach worked much better, creating the dark, midnight blue effect I was looking for. I then used the same technique for glowing green eyes that I‘ve been using for red eyes. This worked pretty well, though when I added a glossy varnish to give the model a nice slimy sheen the glowing effect died back a bit.

There have been several versions of shoggoths in D&D, starting with “The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons” from The Dragon #12 (February, 1978). The first printing of the Deities and Demigods book (1980) also had AD&D stats for shoggoths in the Cthulhu Mythos section that was cut from later printings. Paizo created an open version for 3.5e in the Crucible of Chaos (2008), which was then updated for Pathfinder in the first Bestiary. The Petersen Mythos Bestiary has a second, slightly tougher Pathfinder version which was used to create the following 0e and 3.5e conversions.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Shoggoth

This mass of undulating tarry black flesh exudes the smell of decay, filled with bubbles of vilest air and giving off a very faint luminescence. Its unworldly voice is plaintive, always crying, “Tekeli-li!”

Formless Horror. A shoggoth’s form is constantly shifting, as the creature moves, explores, and interacts with its environment. Extremely adaptable, its current form is always the one that is most ideally suited to finding and consuming living flesh. At any one time, a shoggoth has dozens of pseudopods of varying proportions, and it uses them to create hands, suckers, stingers, or tentacles to grab and consume its prey. Shoggoths have no proper mouth but create and absorb such organs as needed

Always Hungry. Shoggoths are near-mindless predators though legends say they possess a cunning beyond that of most oozes.

Fueled by Chaos. Shoggoths are servitors of dark gods and things normally spoken of only in whispers. At one time, shoggoths were servants to a greater race, but after centuries or eons of mistreatment they rebelled and cast down their masters.

Unnaturally Resilient. Shoggoths are impervious to cold and can thrive on minimal foodstuffs filtered from air or water when nothing more nutritious is available. They prefer environments where water or ice is available.

A shoggoth’s skin glows with a very faint emerald luminescence. Its black tarry flesh is sometimes translucent as well, especially when it has not eaten in a long time. It is capable of secreting a thick, viscous, semi-opaque, sticky slime that further enhances its ability to catch and devour its prey.

0e

Shoggoth CL 19 (4,100 XP)

If a shoggoth hits an opponent with 2 tentacles in 1 round, it can decide to engulf the opponent automatically on the next round. An engulfed opponent takes 1d10 points of damage each round it remains trapped. Attacks on a shoggoth deal half their damage to anyone engulfed by the creature.

HD 13; AC 3 [16]; Atk 4 tentacles (1d10); Move 18/18 (swimming); Save 3; Al C; Special engulf, half damage from weapons, immune to cold, magic resistance (40%).

3.5e

Shoggoth CR 20

Always CE Huge ooze (aquatic)

Init +12; Senses all-around vision, darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision, scent, tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +20, Spot +25

Languages Aklo

Defense

AC 36, touch 16, flat-footed 28
(+8 Dex, +20 natural, -2 size)

hp 403 (26d10+260 HD); fast healing 10

Fort +20, Ref +16, Will +22

Defensive Abilities ooze traits, strong willed; DR 10/–; Immune blindness, charm effects, cold, deafness, sonic; Resist acid 30, fire 30; SR 31

Offense

Spd 50 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 50 ft.

Melee 4 pseudopods +32 (3d8+15/19–20)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 30 ft.

Special Attacks constrict, consume, deadly blow, improved grab, maddening cacophony, trample

Tactics

Before Combat The shoggoth cries with its maddening cacophony to induce fear before closing to engulf its foes.

During Combat The shoggoth uses its pseudopods in the first round of any encounter, hoping to knock down a foe quickly. In the second round, it swallows one or more foes.

Morale The shoggoth retreats under cover if faced with flying opponents and it flees if reduced to less than 50 hit points without feeding on a foe. Otherwise, the shoggoth fights to the death.

Statistics

Str 40, Dex 26, Con 31, Int 5, Wis 22, Cha 13

Base Atk +19; Grp +42

Feats Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (pseudopods), Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack

Skills Climb +23, Listen +20, Spot +25, Swim +23

Ecology

Environment cold aquatic or underground

Organization solitary

Treasure standard

Advancement 24–34 HD (Huge), 35–46 HD (Colossal)

Special Abilities

All-Around Vision (Ex) A shoggoth’s many sense organs grant a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks and immunity to flanking.

Constrict (Ex) A shoggoth deals automatic pseudopod damage with a successful grapple check.

Consume (Ex) A shoggoth can attempt to consume a grappled opponent of Huge or smaller size by making a successful grapple check as a free action. Once inside, the opponent takes 4d6+22 bludgeoning damage plus 10d6 acid damage per round. A consumed creature can cut its way out by dealing 25 points of damage to the shoggoth (AC 28, and the shoggoth’s damage reduction still applies to those inside). A creature that cuts its way out of a shoggoth leaves no hole in the protoplasmic creature’s body. The shoggoth’s body can hold 1 Huge, 2 Large, 8 Medium, 32 Small, or 128 Tiny, or 512 Diminutive or smaller creatures.

Deadly Blow (Ex) If a shoggoth reduces a creature to fewer than 0 hit points with a pseudopod attack, the creature must make a successful DC 38 Fortitude save or it is instantly slain as the shoggoth plucks off the victim’s head, crushes its torso, or otherwise destroys the creature’s body. The save DC is Strength-based.

Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a shoggoth must hit a creature up to one size category smaller than itself with a pseudopod attack. It may then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it it establishes a hold and can attempt to constrict or consume the opponent as a free action.

Maddening Cacophony (Su) As a free action, a shoggoth can give voice to sounds and words sane life was not meant to hear. All creatures in a 60-foot radius must make a DC 24 Will save or be confused for 1d6 rounds. Each round a creature is affected it takes 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. A creature that saves cannot be affected by this shoggoth’s maddening cacophony for 24 hours. This is a sonic mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Pseudopods (Ex) A shoggoth can attack with up to four pseudopods in a round. As it attacks, it can decide as a free action if the pseudopod inflicts bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage.

Strong-Willed (Ex) A shoggoth has a +6 racial bonus on Will saves. Once per day the shoggoth can reroll one failed Will save.

Trample (Ex) As a standard action during its turn each round, a shoggoth can literally run over an opponent at least one size smaller than itself. It merely has to move over the opponent to deal bludgeoning damage equal to 4d8 + 15. The target can attempt a DC 38 Reflex save to negate the damage, or it can instead choose to make an attack of opportunity at a -4 penalty. The save DC is Strength-based.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Formless Spawn

I received the final PDF of Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder. The book had been long delayed but the wait appears to have been worth it: this is a really nice looking supplement. One of the mythos monsters that works really well for the Great Dungeon is the formless spawn of Tsathoggua, a nasty intelligent ooze that “deserves” porting into 0e, 3e, and 5e.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Formless Spawn

This black heap of thick organic material swiftly changes form, emitting rope-like tendrils and building legs, mouths, and other structures seemingly without pattern. It is utterly silent despite the chaos of its ever-moving structure.

Shapes without Form. Deep below the earth live the formless spawn, highly fluid entities of black protoplasm that can shift between shapes with the rapidity of water. They are liquescent in their native habitats, and build channels or gutters of stone that they can flow through with incredible speed. Their preferred resting-place is a tub or a depression in the earth. The average size is around 16 feet across with a weight of about 2,000 pounds.

Endless Mutability. The formless spawn, though technically oozes, almost never form simple shapes. They often sprout spindly legs to run upon, twisted faces to leer with, and limbs to grasp and hold. When lurking in a room, they commonly shoot out sticky strands to cling to the walls or ceiling, building a web-like structure out of their own bodies. If an enemy is significantly smaller than the spawn, it can open up a huge toothless mouth and swallow a victim whole. A formless spawn frequently transforms its whole body into a pointed deadly ram and thrusts at a single, large enemy. Its club attacks are generally reserved for heavily-armored foes. The formless spawn's whip attacks are lashes with many small tendrils sharpened to razors, which slice lightly-armored enemies to shreds.

Embodiments of Chaos. The formless spawn are wholly chaotic in their philosophy. Though they sometimes work toward the same larger goal, each takes its own independent action and direction.

0e

Formless Spawn CL 14 (2,600 XP)

A formless spawn can attack with either 3 tentacles or 1 bite. The victim of a formless spawn’s tentacle attacks must make a saving throw or be held fast and pulled to the mouth for a bite attack. Victims of a bite attack must likewise make a saving throw or be swallowed whole. Once inside the spawn, a creature suffers 3d6 points of damage per round. A swallowed creature can attempt to climb into the spawn’s mouth, where it must make a successful open doors roll to escape. A swallowed creature can also cut its way out using a dagger to deal 20 points of damage (AC 6 [13]). A formless spawn can hold 1 human or elf or 2 dwarves or halflings.

A formless spawn is immune to spells and blunt weapons.

HD 10; AC 4 [15]; Atk bite (3d6) or 3 tentacles (1d6); Move 15/12 (climbing)/15 (swimming); Save 5; AL C; Special: Immune to spells, blunt weapons; swallow whole

3.5e

Formless Spawn CR 8

Always CE Huge ooze

Init +9; Senses blindsight 120 ft.; Listen +12, Spot +16

Languages Aklo

Defense

AC 22, touch 22, flat-footed 13
(+5 deflection, +9 Dex, –2 size)

hp 115 (10d10+60 HD); fast healing 10

Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +4

Defensive Abilities all-around vision, DR 10/—; Immune acid, ooze traits; Resist electricity 10; SR 19

Offense

Spd 60 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 60 ft.

Melee bite +15 (4d6+6) or
3 club tentacles +15 (2d4+4)
or 12 whip tentacles +9 (1d4+2) or
ram +14 (6d8+6/x3)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Special Attacks improved grab, swallow whole, variable attacks

Tactics

During Combat Formless spawn simply re-form after being cut or chopped. Each combat round, the formless spawn can take a different shape and use a different attack system, as the combat demands.

Morale Formless spawn are extremely fast and intelligent, so they can and do flee superior foes clever enough to focus on high-damage magical attacks.

Statistics

Str 19, Dex 29, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15

Base Atk +7; Grp +19

Feats Power Attack, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (club tentacle), Weapon Focus (bite)

Skills Climb +12, Knowledge (religion) +12, Hide +11, Listen +12, Move Silently +19, Search +6, Spot +16, Swim +12

SQ compression, freeze, tendrils

Ecology

Environment any underground

Organization solitary or flood (2–6)

Treasure standard

Advancement 11–20 HD (Huge), 21–30 (Gargantuan)

Special Abilities

All-Around Vision (Ex) A formless spawn has a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks. A formless spawn can’t be flanked.

Blindsight (Ex) An formless ooze can ascertain prey by scent and vibration within 120 feet.

Compression (Ex) A formless spawn can move through an area as small as one-quarter its space without squeezing or one-eighth its space when squeezing.

Freeze (Ex) A formless spawn can hold itself so still that it appears to be nothing more than a puddle of tar or oil. When using this ability, a formless spawn can take 20 on its Hide check to hide in plain sight as just such a puddle. While freezing in this way, a spawn need not drink or eat.

Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a formless spawn must hit a creature of any size with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Ram (Ex) As a full-round action, a formless spawn can transform its whole body into a deadly pointed ram and thrust at a single foe. This primary attack inflicts piercing damage.

Swallow Whole (Ex) A formless spawn can try to swallow a grabbed Large or smaller opponent by making a successful grapple check as a free action. A swallowed creature takes 2d4+4 points of acid damage per round. A swallowed creature can cut its way out by using a light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 10 points of damage to the formless spawn (AC 12). Once the creature exits, the hole closes; another swallowed opponent must cut its own way out. A formless spawn can hold 2 Large, 8 Medium, 32 Small, 128 Tiny, or 512 Diminutive or smaller opponents.

Tendrils (Ex) A formless spawn fills an area around it to a twenty-foot radius with a writhing storm of black tendrils formed from its own amorphous body. These tendrils grant it a +5 deflection bonus to AC and penalize all other creatures’ grapple checks made in that area by –5. Freedom of movement grants immunity to this penalty, and creatures that are gaseous or incorporeal do not suffer the penalty.

Tentacles (Ex) A formless spawn’s club tentacles always function as primary natural weapons that inflict bludgeoning damage. Its whip tentacles always function as secondary natural weapons that inflict slashing damage.

Variable Attacks (Ex) When a formless spawn attacks, it must choose which form of attack it wishes to make in that round between a bite, up to three club-like tentacles, a number of whip-like tentacles, or a single powerful ram. When it makes attacks of opportunity, it always does so with a club tentacle. It cannot attack with multiple attack types as part of a full-attack action—it must choose one of the four attack modes but is free to change those modes each round of combat.

5e

Formless Spawn Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

CE Huge ooze

Init +9; Senses blindsight 120 ft.; passive Perception 14

Languages Aklo

Defense

Armor Class 14

Hit Points 114 (12d12+36)

Resist electricity; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage; Immune deafened, exhaustion, prone

Offense

Speed 60 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 60 ft.

Multiattack. The formless spawn makes three tentacle attacks.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 48 (8d10 + 4) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained.

Swallow. The formless spawn makes one bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits, that creature takes the bite’s damage and is swallowed, and the grapple ends. While swallowed, the creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the spawn, and it takes 36 (8d8) acid damage at the start of each of the spawn’s turns. If the spawn takes 30 damage or more on a single turn from a creature inside it, the spawn must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw at the end of that turn or regurgitate all swallowed creatures, which fall prone in a space within 10 feet of the spawn. If the spawn dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse using 15 feet of movement, exiting prone.

Tentacle. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (3d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained. The spawn has eight tentacles, each of which can grapple one target.

Statistics

Str 17 (+3), Dex 18 (+4), Con 16 (+3), Int 14 (+2), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 14 (+2)

Skills Perception +14

Traits

Amorphous. A formless spawn can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

False appearance. While a formless spawn remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a puddle of tar or oil.

Spider climb. A formless spawn can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.