Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Pair of Ragged Claws: Monstrous Crabs


Giant crabs have a surprisingly long history in Dungeons & Dragons, with the obvious inspiration being the giant crab from the 1961 movie Mysterious Island, which featured several of Roy Harryhausen’s stop motion animation monsters. Information on giant crabs is scattered throughout OD&D. They are first mentioned in the Underworld and Wilderness Adventures (1974) on page 11, appear on the “Swimmer Types” table on page 19, and have a brief entry on page 35, where they are described as having AC 2, Mv 6, 3 HD, and 2 attacks. Greyhawk (1975) lists their pincers as doing 2d6 each. The Blackmoor supplement (1975) provides some interesting details that aren’t picked up again:

[Giant crabs] mainly raid the underwater farms of the mermen who consider them a nuisance since the mermen can easily grapple with them and pull them off of their feet, underwater, thereby rendering them helpless. Only during the Spring do these armored giants voluntarily leave the water, and then in tremendous numbers, for mating and egg-laying. Anything found in their path is immediately attacked and torn apart. Fortunately, they rarely go inland more than a mile, and usually frequent the same hatching grounds from year to year (15).

Although giant crabs do not get a formal monster entry in the J. Eric Holmes Basic Set (1977), they are mentioned in the Sample Dungeon, where they have AC 3 and 2 HD (page 43). Giant crabs appear in the 1st edition Monster Manual (1977) with AC 3, 3 HD, and 2 pincer attacks doing 2d4 damage each. The Moldvay/Cook D&D Expert Set (1981) lists them as AC 2, 3 HD, with 2 pincers doing 2d6 each. The 2e Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989) follows the 1e version very closely.

Giant crabs did not make it into 3rd edition until the Stormwrack (2005) supplement, though the Tome of Horrors included a conversion of the giant crab. I think the best version, though, appeared in Green Ronin’s Creatures of Freeport, which treated the monstrous crab much like other vermin in 3e, appearing in different size classes. Giant crabs are core monsters in both Pathfinder and 5e.

Given the prevalence of giant crabs in D&D, it was nice to finally get some miniatures of them in the Reaper Bones 4 “Dire Consequences” set. I originally thought this was going to be a very quick paint, but there are some nice details that were worth taking the time to hit, like the barnacles on its back and claws. This figure could be mounted on either a Medium or Large base, and I opted for the latter.

Green monstrous crabs can be found in the marshy estuaries of the Great Gobbo River, and have been known to use some of the smaller islands off the coast for hatching grounds. These creatures rarely exceed 5 feet in diameter. Giant crabs of enormous size and bright red shells have been reported to inhabit the Terrarium demiplane.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Crab, Monstrous

This sea creature, its body covered with a leathery carapace, scuttles about on eight legs and snaps at you with two large pincers.

Always Hungry. Monstrous crabs are omnivores and spend most of their time combing the ocean floors for food. Still others prefer to dwell in coastal waters and prey upon land-based creatures that wander too close to the shoreline. Monstrous crabs are often hunted as food by other races (particularly humans and sahuagin).

Near Water of Any Sort. Crabs can hide by digging themselves into sand and other soft ground astonishingly quickly, leaving only the thickest part of their carapace vulnerable.

Claws that Snatch. A monstrous crab will fight if cornered or hungry, using its pincers to rip and tear its opponents. When hunting land-based prey it often scoops the prey up in its pincers and heads for deep water where it submerges and attempts to drown its grappled prey.

Special Abilities

All monstrous crabs have the following special abilities.

Constrict (Ex): On a successful grapple check, a monstrous crab deals bludgeoning damage in addition to its normal attack damage.

Improved Grab (Ex): When a monstrous crab makes a successful claw attack, it deals normal damage and can attempt to start a grapple; this is a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. No initial touch attack is required.

Skills: Ferocious hunters, monstrous crabs have a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Hide checks and a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks. A monstrous crab has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.

Medium Monstrous Crab CR 1

Always N Medium vermin (aquatic)

Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +4

Defense

AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15
(+5 natural)

hp 13 (2d8+4 HD)

Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +0

Immune vermin traits

Offense

Spd 30 ft., swim 20 ft.

Melee 2 claws +2 (1d6+1)

Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

Special Attacks constrict 1d4+1, improved grab

Statistics

Str 13, Dex 10, Con 14, Int –, Wis 10, Cha 2

Base Atk +1; Grp +2

Skills Climb +9, Hide +4, Spot +4, Swim +9

Ecology

Environment any aquatic

Organization solitary or swarm (2–12)

Treasure none

Advancement 3–4 HD (Medium)

Large Monstrous Crab CR 3

Always N Large vermin (aquatic)

Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +4

Defense

AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16
(+7 natural, -1 size)

hp 32 (5d8+10 HD)

Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +1

Immune vermin traits

Offense

Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +6 (1d8+4)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.

Special Attacks constrict 1d6+4, improved grab

Statistics

Str 19, Dex 10, Con 14, Int –, Wis 10, Cha 2

Base Atk +3; Grp +11

Skills Climb +12, Hide +0, Spot +4, Swim +12

Ecology

Environment any aquatic

Organization solitary or swarm (2–6)

Treasure none

Advancement 6–9 HD (Large)

Huge Monstrous Crab CR 6

Always N Huge vermin (aquatic)

Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +4

Defense

AC 20, touch 9, flat-footed 16
(+12 natural, -2 size)

hp 75 (10d8+30 HD)

Fort +10, Ref +3, Will +3

Immune vermin traits

Offense

Spd 40 ft., swim 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +11 (2d6+6)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks constrict 1d8+6, improved grab

Statistics

Str 23, Dex 10, Con 16, Int –, Wis 10, Cha 2

Base Atk +7; Grp +21

Skills Climb +14, Hide -4, Spot +4, Swim +14

Ecology

Environment any aquatic

Organization solitary or group (2–3)

Treasure none

Advancement 11–20 HD (Huge)

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, May 20, 2019

The Nameless City of the Man-Apes

I painted up the “Ape Attack” figures from the Bones 4 Core Set. These are three great models: two feral Killer Apes as well as an armored, sword-wielding Ape Lord. I painted all of them with grayish fur so they could be used as either man-apes or hobgoblin war apes. All of the figures fit on a Large base and so could also be used for dire apes.

It is surprising that there are so few plastic gorilla and ape miniatures, especially since apes and dire apes were fairly common summonable monsters in 3e. I think the only other ape figure I have is the were-gorilla from the “Lycanthropes II” pack from the Reaper Bones 3 Kickstarter, which I also painted up using a similar scheme. Unfortunately, he’s quite a bit smaller than the Ape Attack models: a little small for a 2″ base but much too large for a 1″ base. Although it’s a decent enough figure, the difference between old Bones and the newer Bones Black material is pretty noticable in a side by side comparison. I thought the were-gorilla didn’t take paint as well and also had less distinct details.

The Nameless City

The man-apes of the Terrarium wander the jungles, hills, and plains of the demiplane but tend to congregate in the Nameless City, a vast ruin of gray cyclopean stone overgrown by jungle vines. The City is said to be filled with lost treasure vaults and undermined by dark catacombs. While there are several rival tribes of man-apes in the City they are united in worship of their Pallid Queen, a mummified idol said to be enshrined in one of the great echoing mausoleums. The one thing the man-apes fear are the yellow musk creepers that infest the ruins, as these deadly plants have turned many man-apes into mindless servants.

Some ten years ago the Lady Ilsabil, a fighting-woman of great prowess, emerged from the Great Dungeon along with her dwarven companions, the brothers Hagin and Munir. They claimed to have been trapped in the Terrarium for nearly five years. With their wizard and cleric both lost to the demiplane, the trio wandered the jungles until they stumbled upon the Nameless City, where they plundered a forgotten chamber filled with untold riches. Their only proof of this story were pockets and sacks of emeralds and sapphires of the greatest size and quality. Lady Ilsabil used these gems to acquire a holding of her own, where she lives still. Hagin and Munir used their fortune to outfit a mighty expedition to return to the Terrarium. They reentered the Dungeon with much pomp eight years ago and were never heard from again.

The following table for generating random features in the Nameless City is inspired by similar tables in Yoon-Suin: The Purple Land, one of the best setting books I’ve ever read. Yoon-Suin uses random tables to generate background details that pack a lot of flavor and gamability. As characters explore the Nameless City, roll three sets of 2d10, consult the Feature, Condition, and Property columns of the Features table, and then combine the results.

The following encounter table for the Nameless City is designed for 3.5e, but could be modified for 0e or 5e without much work. Most of the entries can be found in the d20 SRD, and for those that can’t I’ve supplied stat blocks below. The “Visions of the Ancient Past” is a non-monster encounter tied to a specific object found in the ruins: perhaps a small idol or artifact. The encounter uses the clever haunt rules developed by Paizo for their early Pathfinder adventures.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Nameless City Features
2d10 Feature Condition Property
2 Palace Water-filled Golden
3 Mausoleum Water-filled Silver
4 Arch Water-filled Inscribed
5 Statue Overgrown Infested
6 Obelisk Overgrown Slimy
7 Canal Overgrown Painted
8 Open Pit Intact Echoing
9 Domed Building Intact Blackened
10 Pool Intact Pearlescent
11 Residence Partially Collapsed Cracked
12 Large Hall Partially Collapsed Blackened
13 Square Partially Collapsed Whispering
14 Tower Leveled Magical
15 Pillars Leveled Defaced
16 Aquaduct Leveled Ornamented
17 Amphitheater Sunken Mold-encrusted
18 Baths Sunken Webbed
19 Fortress Sunken Jade
20 Temple Undermined Bejeweled
Nameless City Encounters
2d10 Encounter Average EL
21 centipede swarm4
31d3 giant lizards (monitor lizards)4
41 giant crocodile4
51d3 shadows5
61 giant constrictor snake5
71d4 guardian man-ape statues (Large animated objects)5
8memory moss [hazard]5
92d4 ghouls6
101 yellow musk creeper plus 1d4+1 yellow musk creeper zombies7
112d4 man-apes7
122d4 deinonychuses7
131 medusa7
141 black pudding7
15Visions of the Ancient Past (see below)8
161d4+2 gargoyles8
171d4 phase spiders8
181 tyrannosaur8
191d3 dire tigers9
201 Colossal centipede9

Guardian Man-ape Statue CR 3

Large animated object

N Large construct

Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen -5, Spot -5

Defenses

AC 14, touch 9, flat-footed 14 (+5 natural, -1 size)

hp 52 (4d10+30 HD); hardness 8

Fort +1, Ref +1, Will -4

Immune construct traits

Offense

Spd 30 ft.

Melee slam +5 (1d8+4)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Statistics

Str 16, Dex 10, Con –, Int –, Wis 1, Cha 1

Base Atk +3; Grp +10

Memory Moss CR 5

Effect Memory moss appears as a 1-foot square patch of black moss. When a living creature moves within 60 feet of a patch of memory moss, it attacks by attempting to steal that creature’s memories. It can target a single creature each round. A targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Will save or lose all memories from the last 24 hours. Affected spellcasters lose all spells prepared within the last 24 hours. (Only those spells actually prepared in the last 24 hours are lost; spells prepared longer than 24 hours ago are not lost.) Once a memory moss steals a creature’s memories, it sinks back down and does not attack again for one day.

Any creature who loses its memories to the memory moss acts as if affected by a confusion spell (caster level 8th) for the next 1d4 hours. Lost memories can be regained by eating the memory moss that absorbed them. Doing so requires a DC 13 Fortitude save, with failure resulting in the creature being nauseated for 1d6 minutes and suffering 1d4 points of Constitution damage.

A creature that eats the memory moss temporarily gains the memories currently stored therein (even if they are not the creature’s own memories). Such creatures can even cast spells if the memory moss has stolen these from a spellcasting creature. Any non-spellcaster that attempts to cast a spell gained in this way must succeed on a Concentration check (DC 10 + spell level) or the spell fizzles away. After 24 hours, the memories fade (including any spells not yet cast). Creatures eating the memory moss to regain their own lost memories do not lose them after 24 hours. Fire and cold kills a single patch of memory moss.

When first encountered, there is a 25% chance that the memory moss has eaten within the last day and does not attack by stealing memories. In such a case, the moss contains 2d4 spells determined randomly. When a living creature moves within 60 feet of a sated memory moss, it assumes a vaguely humanoid form and casts the stolen spells at its targets. The moss casts these spells as a sorcerer of the minimum level necessary to cast the stolen spell (save DC 10 + spell level).

Visions of the Ancient Past CR 8

Caster Level 8th; Effective HD 16

Notice Listen 18 to hear past sounds of the City

Effects

Trigger touch (an artifact in the ruins); Reset 1 day

Effect When this haunt is triggered, its effects manifest at initiative rank 10 on a surprise round. All creatures within 20 feet of the artifact can make a Listen check to notice the haunt in time to react—if a character notices it, he may make an initiative check to determine when he acts in the round. Once a haunt is active, a successful turn undead attempt against the haunt’s effective Hit Dice ends it immediately, though the character making the turn attempt must notice the haunt and must act before it in the surprise round it is activated. If the turning attempt results in a destruction result, that particular haunt is exorcised and permanently disabled. Unless the haunt is turned or destroyed, the creature who touched the artifact is overwhelmed by a riotous vision of the Nameless City in its heyday, bustling with man-apes dressed in fine garments and their pitiful human slaves. The affected creature is targeted by an insanity spell (DC 20). While the vision vanishes as soon as the surprise round is over, the insanity effect persists until the creature is restored. The artifact may be handled safely for the next 24 hours.

Yellow Musk Creeper CR 2

N Large plant

Init +2; Senses blindsight 30 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0

Defense

AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 13
(+2 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)

hp 22 (3d8+9 HD)

Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +1

Immune plant traits

Offense

Spd 5 ft.

Melee 2 tendrils +6 (1d8+5)

Ranged pollen spray +3 touch (pollen spray)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks create yellow musk zombie, intelligence damage, pollen spray (DC 14)

Statistics

Str 20, Dex 15, Con 17, Int –, Wis 11, Cha 9

Base Atk +2; Grp +11

SQ rejuvenation

Special Abilities

Blindsight (Ex) The yellow musk creeper has no visual organs but can ascertain all foes within 30 feet using sound, scent, and vibration.

Create Yellow Musk Zombie (Su) A victim reduced to Intelligence 0 becomes a yellow musk zombie in 1 hour under the control of the creeper that created it. If the yellow musk creeper is slain before the yellow musk zombie rises, the transformation can be prevented by the casting of neutralize poison followed by heal or restoration spell.

Intelligence Damage (Ex) As a free action, a yellow musk creeper can insert hundreds of tiny roots into the head of an entranced foe within any space occupied by the creeper. An entranced foe does not resist this attack and does not receive a saving throw to break free of its entranced state. This attack deals 1d4 points of Intelligence damage each round. A victim reduced to Intelligence 0 becomes a yellow musk zombie in 1 hour.

Pollen Spray (Ex) A yellow musk creeper can spray a tiny cloud of hypnotic pollen at a single creature within 30 feet. An opponent hit by the cloud must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be entranced for 1d4 minutes (as by a charm monster spell). Entranced creatures can take no action other than to move at their normal speed into a space occupied by the yellow musk creeper. An entranced creature resists any attempt to halt its progress. A victim within a space occupied by the yellow musk creeper stands there and offers no resistance to the monster’s attacks. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Rejuvenation (Ex) A yellow musk creeper can be killed only if its root is dug up, then burned, hacked apart, or otherwise destroyed. Reducing the creeper to 0 or less hit points puts it out of commission, allowing excavation of its roots. The main root is a Small object with a hardness of 3 and 10 hit points. The root can be affected by spells or effects that affect an area or targeted by spells that affect an individual target.

Yellow Musk Zombie CR 3

N Large plant

Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +0, Spot +0

Defenses

AC 15, touch 8, flat-footed 15 (-1 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)

hp 30 (5d8+10 HD)

Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +4

Immune plant traits

Offense

Spd 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +10 (1d4+6), bite +5 (1d8+3)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Statistics

Str 23, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 1

Base Atk +5; Grp +15

SQ link to creator, sprout new creeper

Special Abilities

Link to Creator (Ex) A yellow musk zombie is linked to the yellow musk creeper that created it and can never move more than 200 feet from it.

Sprout New Creeper (Ex) After about 2 months of service to a yellow musk creeper, the yellow musk zombie wanders up to 1 mile away from its creator (the link to creator is broken) and dies. Where it falls, new yellow musk seedlings sprout from its head and the corpse, take root, and within one hour, a new fully grown yellow musk creeper blossoms.

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, May 13, 2019

Additional Library Data

crystaliron. A ferrous metal grown with perfect crystal structure and carefully controlled impurities in order to gain maximum hardness and toughness. Crystaliron becomes available at TL10 due to advances in gravitic-assisted manufacturing, and is the standard material for use in armoring starship hulls up to TL14, when bonded superdense armor becomes available.

Delgado Trading, LIC. An Imperial megacorporation with extensive holdings in heavy mineral mining and refining, publishing, antiquities trading, and recently, the toy industry. Widely known for its work in miniaturization, Delgado was founded in 997 as a manufacturer of military hardware and is considered the youngest of the megacorporations. Its sector headquarters is located at Tolson (Magyar 2106 A432ADH-E). Delgado has a poor reputation within Magyar sector due to its exploitative hiring practices as well as its recent conflicts with several planetary governments.


Droyne. Intelligent major race inhabiting scattered worlds within an area slightly larger than the region of the current Third Imperium. The Droyne are a small race derived from winged herbivorous gatherers. They vary in size depending on caste but generally stand one meter tall (large workers and warriors can be larger than humans). The history of their evolution remains a puzzle because their homeworld is not known with certainty. Sterchi (Magyar 3212 B697663-A) has supported a Droyne population that predates the Vilani First Imperium.

Droyne society is divided into rigid castes determined when an individual reaches adolescence. The six castes of the Droyne all serve different functions within Droyne society. Although identical at the time of caste selection, caste members develop pronounced physical and mental differences by maturity. Different genetic programs are awakened by differences in diet and environment among the various castes.

express boats. Rapid communication ships that are designed to make optimum use of jump technology in communicating information within the Imperium. Because the Imperium is so large, ordinary communication must depend on ships travelling along established trade routes, making Kline (Magyar 3012) over 3 years out from the Imperial Core.

The express boat (abbreviated Xboat) system, established originally in 624 and expanded to cover the entire Imperium by 718, cuts this communication time by nearly 75 percent. Selected locations along major trade routes are established as sites for express stations, which are orbital facilities which service and refuel the Xboats on their communications runs.

As an Xboat arrives in a system, it beams its recorded data to the express station, which then retransmits it to an Xboat standing by for a jump outsystem. Time between jumps is almost always less than four hours and has been recorded at under seven minutes, making the speed of communication nearly the speed of jump. In practice, this speed is somewhat reduced by the fact that trade routes do not follow straight lines and that not all jumps are made at jump-4. Nonetheless, the system achieves approximately jump-2.6 per week.

Geschichtkreis Sternshiffbau AG (GSbAG). An Imperial megacorporation focused exclusively on high-end starship construction. GSbAG ships are expensive, but universally regarded as being of the highest quality. The company is one of only two authorized to manufacture personal vessels for the Imperial family, and it is a major contractor for the Imperial Navy. The company’s corporate security and counterespionage forces are considered to be among the best in the Imperium. GSbAG operates the small shipyard at Gustin (Magyar 3206 A779444-E). In 1085 GSbAG was awarded a controversial contract to redevelop the Imperial naval base at Hrongding (Magyar 2817 B621511-C). In a close referendum, the small democracy of Hrongding voted to dissolve its world parliament and turn administration over to GSbAG in exchange for substantial infrastructure investments and guarantees of high-paying jobs. GSbAG maintains its sector headquarters on Hrongding.

huscarles. The private household forces of Imperial nobles. Huscarle troops are chosen for personal loyalty and tend to be elite units, maintained at the noble’s own expense. Huscarles have Imperial sanction: each high noble receives his own legal document authorizing him to raise household troops, and the details can vary according to the Emperor’s whim. Traditional practice gives nobles at higher levels the ability to raise more troops. Huscarles are considered part of the Unified Armies of the Imperium. They have the right under Imperial law to bear military-grade arms, even in violation of local weapons ordinances, so long as they are in uniform and on duty.

All four subsector dukes of Magyar have huscarle troops of at least brigade strength. The Gadarur Ducal Guards are an elite TL15 Grav Tank regiment composed of seven battalions. The Duchess of Kobayashi maintains the 728th Colonial Rifles Regiment, a TL14 lift infantry unit made up of six battalions, while the Duke of Fugue maintain the 1st Fugue Grenadiers, a TL13 lift infantry unit made up of five battalions. The Duchess of Walpurgis maintains the TL14 8627th Drop Infantry Regiment.


Instellarms, LIC. An Imperial megacorporation concentrating in the manufacture, purchase, and sale of military equipment of all sorts. Instellarms is a specialty supplier of mercenary units of all sizes and types. Agents of the firm can often be found on a battlefield, negotiating the purchase of the equipment of the losing side before the battle is completely over. Within Magyar sector Instellarms is the preferred supplier of small private armies to Imperial nobles. Instellarms also successfully operates on Solomani Confederation worlds. Unlike all other Imperial megacorporations the Imperial family does not directly own any shares of Instellarms. This allows the company to avoid being punished by certain punitive anti-Imperial regulations that impose extra regulations on corporations with financial links to the Iridium Throne. The sector headquarters is located on Kline (Magyar 3012 A642987-E).

Ling-Standard Products. An Imperial megacorporation engaged in a wide spectrum of activities including manufacture of electronic equipment of all sorts, ground and air vehicles, starships and starship armaments systems, drive systems, power systems, computer systems and software, small arms, and a variety of other items. LSP maintains mining and manufacturing facilities throughout the Imperium and beyond. The megacorporation has been active in Magyar in the post-war era. LSP prefers to establish relations with local strongmen, oligarchs and dictators, using bribes and military contracts to ensure access to resources and markets. Often targeted by civilian protests and terrorists, many new LSP facilities have come to resemble fortresses largely staffed by off-world employees and protected by large and unfriendly mercenary security forces. Ling-Standard Products lawyers have also aggressively pursued legal actions against Magyar worlds to regain property—and sometimes even entire regions or planets—that were seized centuries ago by Solomani Party governments. LSP operates the shipyards on Kemper (Magyar 2103 A4217A8-E) and Pinnock (Magyar 2701 A8C9876-E) and directly controls the worlds of Pankow (Magyar 2518 A561412-C) and Dexter (Magyar 2416 B587510-B). The LSP sector headquarters are located on Dexter.

Magyar Starcraft. A former Solomani shipbuilding corporation created from the acquisition and consolidation of several smaller shipbuilders during the 800s and 900s. Its chief rival was Iouo Interstellar Yards, which it briefly surpassed in the runup to the Solomani Rim War. Based on Fornorb (Magyar 2616), MagStar controlled major yards in Anise, Kline, New Mars, Swan, and Olympus subsectors with lucrative contracts to the Solomani Confederation Navy. While Iouo ships featured innovative and elegant designs, MagStar ships were economical, ugly, but solidly built and reliable. During the Rim War MagStar won considerable work refitting Victory-class battlecruisers and churning out Minsk-class heavy cruisers. Although the corporate headquarters were transferred to Uebelhor (Magyar 1324) in the wake of the Imperial invasion, the loss of so many shipyards proved ruinous and the company did not survive the war. Its assets were seized by the Imperium and sold off, with many being acquired by Allied Prefabricated Ships & Vessels.

mail. Communication is limited to the speed of transportation: a message to the edge of the Imperium needs to be literally carried there. The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service operates both the Express Boat Service and the Imperial Courier Service. While the express boat system transmits messages and data, the courier service carries packages, small cargoes, and important personnel that cannot travel by express boat. In addition, private carriers provide similar services. In order to supplement their own capabilities, both governmental agencies and private carriers may issue special contracts for delivery of mail lots. Each mail lot always consists of at least one ton. Per Imperial regulations, to be allowed to carry mail a private ship must be armed and the crew must include a gunner. The ship must also contain a specialized one ton mail vault. Standard payment is a Cr15,000 voucher redeemable at any Class A Starport.

Within the Solomani Confederation, the Navy controls the Xboat network, giving it significant ability to monitor, interdict, or control the civilian flow of information. The Navy wields this message interdiction capability as means of concealing fleet movements from foreign agents or, at the direction of the Secretary General, of punishing misbehaving worlds. Rerouting a system or alliance’s Xboat access can cause great financial harm without the need for overt intervention or physical blockade.

Within Magyar sector Nauvoo Messengers, based out of Tolson (Magyar 2106 A432ADH-E), is perhaps the largest private courier service for the Imperial systems. Celestine Transfers and Agni Express, based out of Ramaniam (Magyar 1927 A431869-E), are the primary services providing cross-border delivery. Kuzu Couriers, based out of Iouo (Magyar 0624 A79A96B-E) is one of the very few courier services authorized for operation in the Aslan Hierate, Solomani Confederation, and Imperium.

seneschal. An aide or executive officer. For high-ranking officials, the wide range of responsibilities of high office are manageable only through computer assistance. Even then, the information flow may be too great. The seneschal is an adjutant or assistant with responsibilities in information management. The seneschal has no authority of his own; he manages the massive input of information associated with his superior’s position, keeping the official informed, but not overwhelmed.

Traders’ Guild. An interstellar professional organization within the Imperium representing independent merchant ship owners: a combination of fraternity, union, and professional society. The Guild works to maintain efficient operations for the benefit of independent ship owners. Despite their rivalries, merchants use the Guild to advance common interests and protect themselves from bureaucracy and larger corporate competition.The Guild maintains a standard reference work, the Catalog of Ships, which provides basic information about most commercial ships operating within the Imperium. The Guild provides a variety of services in return for a monthly fee of Cr100, including a retirement annuity equal to 50% of the crewman’s highest base pay, payable each year after he completes a full 20 year career in the guild—although standards for computing length of service vary.

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Materials produced by Digest Group Publications (DGP) are copyright © Roger Sanger. Any use of Digest Group Publications' copyrighted material or trademarks anywhere on this Web site and its files should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights. Usage is intended to follow the guidelines announced by Roger Sanger on the Traveller Mailing List for preserving the overall Traveller milieu.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Grotesque Travesty of Creation: Man-Apes

The ape maintained his grasp in Conan’s hair, dragging him toward the tusks that glistened in the moonlight. The Cimmerian resisted this effort, with his left arm rigid as iron, while the sword in his right hand, wielded like a butcher-knife, sank again and again into the groin, breast and belly of his captor. The beast took its punishment in awful silence, apparently unweakened by the blood that gushed from its ghastly wounds. Swiftly the terrible strength of the anthropoid overcame the leverage of braced arm and knee. Inexorably Conan’s arm bent under the strain; nearer and nearer he was drawn to the slavering jaws that gaped for his life. Now the blazing eyes of the barbarian glared into the bloodshot eyes of the ape.
—Robert E. Howard, “Shadows in the Moonlight”
Carnivorous ape illustration by Darlene. From the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Cards Set 3, copyright © 1982 by TSR.

The carnivorous ape was a classic monster from the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual. They were originally conceived as a race of fairly intelligent, man-eating apes with their own language. The pulp fantasy authors who were so inspirational to Dungeons and Dragons were fascinated by similar apes and ape-like creatures: Edgar Rice Burroughs alone created the Mangani, a sort of missing link between chimpanzees and gorillas, the Sagoths, a race of ape-like men native to Pellucidar, the four-armed white apes of Barsoom, and a race of man-apes inhabiting the lost city of Opar. H.P. Lovecraft would riff on this last one with his white apes in the short story “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family.” Robert E. Howard also had his own snow apes and gray man-apes, as seen in “Shadows in the Moonlight.” This trope is so common in Frank Frazetta’s fantasy paintings that such a creature is sometimes called a “Frazetta Man.”

Over time, much of this pulp heritage was lost and the carnivorous ape became less and less intelligent, eventually becoming just a larger, tougher gorilla. The second edition’s Monstrous Compendium (1989) entry, for example, drops the Ape language and plays up many mundane gorilla behaviors, though the carnivorous ape still has an Intelligence score of 7. The Monstrous Manual (1995) doesn’t even give the carnivorous ape a full monster entry, just a line item under “Mammal” that doesn’t mention intelligence and omits the rending attack. By the time we get to 3e’s dire ape (2000) and Chainmail’s war ape (2002), the creature has reverted to animal intelligence.

The following man-ape for 0e, 3e, and 5e hearkens back to the original, pulp fantasy-inspired carnivorous ape. In the Great Dungeon, tribes of savage man-apes can be found in the Terrarium demiplane. A few have escaped those confines and dwell among the Long Death hobgoblins, their natural allies, on the Third and Fourth Levels of the Dungeon.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Man-Ape

This massive, ape-like creature, far larger than a man, has a bestial face with close-set ears and a great mouth with tusk-like fangs. It is covered with shaggy grayish hair.

Thews and Ferocity. A man-ape is an aggressive monstrous humanoid resembling a larger and stronger gorilla. They possess extremely keen senses.

Dwellers in Wild Places. Man-apes are normally encountered in warm forests, hills, and plains, often making their lairs in large trees. They are omnivorous, but are said to prefer human flesh.

Intelligence and Great Cunning. Man-apes speak their own, simple language. They occasionally ally with hobgoblins, and are sometimes found as guards to hobgoblin tribes.

An adult male man-ape stands over 7 feet tall and weighs over 600 pounds.

0e

Man-Ape CL 5 (240 XP)

If a man-ape hits with both claws, it will crush and rend the victim for an additional 2d4 points of damage. A man-ape can also throw rocks up to 60 feet, doing 1d6 points of damage.

HD 5; AC 5 [14]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d6) or rock (1d6); Move 12/9 (Climbing); Save 12; Al C; Special rend.

3.5e

Man-Ape CR 3

Often N Large monstrous humanoid

Init +1; Senses low-light vision, scent; Listen +7, Spot +7

Languages Ape

Defense

AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 13
(+1 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)

hp 36 (5d8+16 HD)

Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +5

Offense

Spd 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +10 (1d4+6), bite +5 (1d8+3)

Ranged rock +5 (1d8+6)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks rend 2d4+12, rock throwing

Tactics

Before Combat When attacking, man-apes stand upright to lash out with their claws and bite with their tusk-like fangs.

During Combat After dropping a foe a man-ape will issue a terrifying, victorious roar.

Morale Man-apes fight until reduced to 18 hp or half their numbers are killed.

Statistics

Str 23, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 7

Base Atk +5; Grp +15

Feats Alertness B, Toughness (2)

Skills Climb +14, Listen +7, Spot +7

Ecology

Environment warm hills, forests, and plains

Organization solitary, pair, or company (3–8)

Treasure standard

Advancement by character class; Favored Class barbarian

Level Adjustment +3

Special Abilities

Rend (Ex) A man-ape that hits with two claw attacks latches onto the opponent’s body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an extra 2d4+12 points of damage.

Rock Throwing (Ex) A man-ape can hurl rocks weighing 20 to 30 pounds (Tiny objects) up to five range increments. The range increment is 60 feet for a man-ape’s thrown rocks.

Skills Man-apes have a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened.

Man-Apes as Characters

Man-ape characters possess the following racial traits.

  • +12 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, -4 Intelligence (minimum 3), +2 Wisdom, -4 Charisma.
  • Large size: -1 penalty to Armor Class, -1 penalty on attack rolls, -4 penalty on Hide checks, +4 bonus on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits double those of Medium characters.
  • Space/Reach: 10 feet/10 feet.
  • A man-ape’s base land speed is 30 feet. Man-apes also have a climb speed of 30 ft.
  • Low-light vision.
  • Racial Hit Dice: A man-ape begins with five levels of monstrous humanoid, which provide 5d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +5, and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +1, Ref +4, and Will +4.
  • Racial Skills: A man-ape’s monstrous humanoid levels give it skill points equal to 8 x (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1). Its class skills are Climb, Listen, and Spot. Man-apes have a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened.
  • Racial Feats: A man-ape’s monstrous humanoid levels give it two feats. It also gains Alertness as a bonus feat.
  • Weapon Proficiency: A man-ape is proficient with all simple weapons.
  • +4 natural armor bonus.
  • Natural Weapons: 2 claws (1d4) and 1 bite (1d8).
  • Special Attacks (see above): Rend, Rocking Throwing.
  • Special Qualities (see above): Scent.
  • Automatic Languages: Ape. Bonus Languages: Goblin.
  • Favored Class: Barbarian.
  • Level adjustment: +3.

Advanced Man-Ape

The following is an example of a man-ape advanced by barbarian levels. The man-ape had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, equipment bonuses, and Hit Dice ability score increases: Str 14, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 13.

Man-Ape King CR 13

Man-ape barbarian 10

N Large monstrous humanoid

Init +4; Senses low-light vision, scent; Listen +10, Spot +8

Language Ape

Defense

AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 18
(+3 armor, +2 deflection, +4 natural, -1 size)

hp 181 (5d8+30 plus 10d12+60 HD); DR 2/–

Fort +17, Ref +10, Will +12

Special Defences improved uncanny dodge

Offense

Spd 40 ft., climb 30 ft.

Melee 2 claws +19 (1d6+13/19–20), bite +14 (2d6+8)

Ranged rock +14 (1d8+9)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks rage 3/day, rend 2d6+18, rock throwing

Statistics

Str 28, Dex 10, Con 22, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 10

Base Atk +15; Grp +28

Feats Alertness B, Cleave, Improved Critical (claws), Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Improved Natural Attack (claws), Power Attack

Skills Climb +19, Intimidate +12, Listen +10, Spot +8, Survival +10

SQ fast movement, trap sense +3

Combat Gear potion of cure serious wounds; Other Gear bracers of armor +3, ring of protection +2, cloak of resistance +3, gauntlets of ogre power +2, amulet of health +2

Special Abilities

Rage (Ex) A man-ape king can fly into a rage 3 times per day for 11 rounds. The following changes are in effect as long as the man-ape king rages: AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16; hp 211; Fort +18, Will +14; Melee 2 claws +21 (1d6+15/19–20), bite +16 (2d6+9); rend 2d6+22; Str 32, Con 26; Climb +21. After raging, it is fatigued (Str 26, Dex 8, can't charge or run) for the duration of that encounter. The man-ape king can fly into a rage only once per encounter. Entering a rage takes no time by itself, but the king can do it only during its action, not in response to someone else's action.

5e

Man-Ape Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

N Large monstrosity

Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; passive Perception 14

Language Ape

Defense

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)

hp 76 (8d10+32 HD)

Offense

Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Multiattack The man-ape makes 3 attacks: 2 claw attacks and 1 bite attack.

Claw +6 melee, reach 10 ft. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) piercing damage.

Bite +6 melee, reach 5 ft. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) piercing damage.

Rock +6 ranged, range 50/100 ft., one target. Hit: 25 (6d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Statistics

Str 18 (+4), Dex 15 (+2), Con 18 (+4), Int 6 (-2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 7 (-2)

Skills Perception +3

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.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Crocodile Rock and Smasher's Bane

I painted up the first figures from the Reaper Miniatures Bones 4 set: two giant crocodiles from the “Dire Beasts” pack. I was surprised to find that I only had a couple of crocodile figures from previous D&D sets in my collection, so these fill at least a minor need. These Reaper crocodiles are great sculpts, with nasty, gaping maws. They fit perfectly on Huge bases, so would work well for 3.5e or 5e giant crocodiles.

Although the North is much too cold to support native populations of giant crocodiles, these figures are still very handy for the Great Dungeon. In 3e, fiendish giant crocodiles can be summoned using summon monster V. And the swamps and warm seas of the Terrarium demiplane harbor plenty of giant crocodiles.

These crocs were my first chance to work with the new Bones Black material. It was much easier to see mold lines on these figures, and they aren’t any harder to clean up with a metal file and x-acto knife. I felt like the material took paint a little better than the PVC material used previously. The new material really does hold details much better: the little crocodile teeth and ridges along the back came out sharp and clear; I suspect they would have been mostly lost on the old Bones.

In general, the Bones Black material seems superior in almost every way. It seems like it is harder to cast these figures as single pieces, and so they seem to require a little more assembly work. And although the stiffer material seems to result in fewer droopy weapons or limbs, when you do get one it seems a little harder to fix than with the older material.

The T-Rex is from the WizKids’ Nolzdur’s Marvelous Miniatures line and was a Christmas gift that’s been patiently sitting on my workbench these last few months. This was blast to paint: it’s a nice sculpt with lots of great looking scales. Like the other figures from this line that I’ve worked on, the component pieces didn’t match up very well and required quite a bit of Green Stuff to fill the gaps. But once that was done, this painted up really well. Unlike the beholder, I didn’t use primer on this one.

I posed this tyrannosaur with a lizard man in honor of a deceased character from an earlier campaign. While trapped in the Terrarium demiplane Smasher the Lizard Man charged a full grown T-rex. Though the character didn’t survive the encounter, the memory will live forever.