Eyecloud

By ASH LAW, development by Rob Heinsoo

From the moment we entered the tomb, we felt like we were being watched. We all felt it, even Sigurd. I admit I was almost grateful to watch him squirm, for a change.

—Mamoru the Justly Paranoid

Heralds of warped magic

Clouds of floating eyes appear near rifts in time and space, in areas where old magic has turned in on itself, and near the graves of wizards who died horrible deaths due to magical misadventure.

Some wizards say that these eyeclouds are reality’s way of checking in on where things have gone wrong—a bit like wibbles (13th Age Bestiary), but more proactive. Even if true, this has the advantage of not ruling out other possibilities. Maybe eyeclouds are forward scouts, or heralds of a strange pantheon from elsewhere. Maybe they’re related to the fomori from 13th Age Bestiary 2 (page 80)Or maybe eyeclouds are associated with creatures forbidden to enter official 13th Age products, though there’d be no keeping them out of your home games if you chose.

Eyeclouds are sometimes ‘tamed’ through magical rituals and set as guardians over tombs, or used by some of the darker icons as watchdogs. Some rituals allow a sort of twisted attunement to the monster, allowing its master to see what the floating eyes see.

Interpreting the warp: The reality warp attack below has a trigger that asks the GM or the player to figure out which ally the targeted PC happens to look at next. It’s a fun ability to determine by roleplay, but a truly determined PC could try to use their willpower to look at no one, or at the ally who can best take the hit. GMs, if you feel like a PC is trying to control their vision better than you think they could, make them pass a hard skill check (DC 20) using Wisdom or Intelligence to handle the warp without an unwary or unconscious glance at an ally they’d been trying to avoid: “Mustn’t look at Kevitch, he’s nearly dead! . . .Whoops.” .

Eyecloud

This monster looks like trouble.

Double-strength 4th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +9

 

Reality warp +9 vs. PD—16 force damage and 4 ongoing force damage

Natural even hit or miss: The target deals 8 force damage to the next ally that they look at (or deals the damage to themselves at the end of their next turn if they haven’t looked at an ally).

 

R: Wearying gaze +9 vs. MD—Target is hampered, easy save ends (if the target rolls a natural 16+ to save, this attack recharges!)

Limited use: 1/battle as a quick action

 

Flight: This eyecloud moves like a swarm of bees.

 

Nastier specials

Hard to hit: This eyecloud takes half damage from melee and ranged attacks on turns when the escalation die is odd.

 

AC  20

PD  18           HP 112

MD 15

 

Dread Eyecloud

You’re guessing most of the eyes in the cloud aren’t human eyes, but if you spend any time really looking at it, you’re going to be in trouble.

Double-strength 10th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +15

 

Flesh warp +15 vs. PD (two attacks)—40 damage and 20 ongoing damage

Hit against an enemy taking ongoing damage from this attack already: The target grows an extra eye, through which enemies can see. Until the eye is cut out (standard action, 20 damage) the target has a -2 penalty to all defenses against ranged and close attacks.

 

R: Dread gaze +15 vs. MD—Target is confused, save ends but recharges the power.

Limited use: 1/battle as a quick action

 

Flight: This monster moves like a mid-migration colony of bats.

 

Nastier specials

Even harder to hit: This eyecloud takes half damage from melee and ranged attacks, unless it has been hit by a close attack since its previous turn.

See the opening: The flesh warp’s power to cause an enemy to grow an extra eye now works on any enemy taking ongoing damage, regardless of the source of the damage.

 

AC  24

PD  26           HP 380

MD 25

 

Unfamiliar familiars

A lone floating eyeball, somehow separated from its cloud, makes for an interesting familiar for magic-users who are used to dealing with the outer realms of reality. A weird wizard might have one, sure. But what about a necromancer, or a chaos mage? True, these classes don’t normally get familiars—but a GM could make an exception for a player who is willing to invest a talent.

Getting a floating eye: A floating eye familiar could be the last eye from a swarm of floating eyeballs, or could be the magically enchanted eye of another slain monster. Imagine a ranger walking around with the magically preserved eye of a dragon as a pet. The occultist could even decide to ‘free’ one of their own eyes and imbue it with a demi-life of its own.

Familiar abilities: Floating eyeballs miss out on some familiar abilities from page 150 of the 13th Age core rulebook (no counter-bite, mimic, poisonous, tough, or talkative). Floating eyes always get the alert ability as one of their two starting abilities, and get the option of some new abilities too:

Sight beyond sight: You can see what your familiar sees, as though it were your own eye

Insightful vision: When you are in the presence of something invisible your familiar rolls a save (11+) to see it anyway

Keen eye: Once per battle when you would normally miss with a ranged attack, add 1d3 to the attack roll (the natural roll is unaffected)

Flying?: FYI, a floating eye without the flight ability just hovers about near your head, and must have the flight ability before it gains the scout ability.

Adventure Hooks

Delve complications—The adventurers are dungeon-delving, and whoever or whatever is at the heart of the dungeon knows their every move. Soon the cause becomes apparent: floating eyes spying on them. Do the adventurers chase after and fight the eyes, or would they be heading into a trap?

The eyes of the cabal—A cabal of wizards have died, and their eyes have returned to life as a monster. The adventurers must find the cabal’s bodies and properly inter them, or face eyecloud monsters that resurrect each nightfall.

Watchful eyes—The adventurers are offered a ‘tame’ cloud of eyeballs to act as a watchdog for their base of operations. The cost? One of them must give up an eye to become the new owner of the watchful eyes. The twist is that whoever gives up an eye gains a secret relationship die with an unexpected icon who is now able to spy on the party.

Warped vision—The adventures encounter an area of warped wild magic, and one of their eyeballs detaches and floats away. Later the party encounters a cloud of floating eyes. Can the party somehow subdue the eyecloud and ‘rescue’ the lost eye?


13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Part of the fun of developing adventures like Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Red Crag Castle section of Book of Demons is adding monsters that complete the theme. Sometimes those missing bits turn out to be things that fill a gap in all of 13th Age, not just the one adventure.

That turned out to be true for the demonic forces that guard the hellhole centered on Red Crag Castle. One of the demonic factions is all about swords, steel, and a sadistic impression of military discipline. A sword-sword-sword (etc.)-wielding marilith-style demon seemed like a natural fit, but our mariliths are epic 12th level creatures, far too powerful for the champion-tier environment of Red Crag Castle.

What was needed was a 7th level version of something like a marilith. As I poked around our monster lists, I realized that we had precious few normal-sized demons at 7th level, and nothing that could stand in for a melee troop. So I added the minor serpent demon to Redcrag Castle, along with a couple of other generally-useful demonic warriors.

This minor serpent demon uses the same core mechanics as the marilith. It’s useful enough that I think it deserves to be in 13th Age monster lists that might not normally pay attention to demons in specific adventures. I’m going to reprint its stats here, along with two other stat blocks for demon warriors that could physically resemble the minor serpent demon and the marilith, or could be reskinned as you require.

To make them more useful, I’ve placed the new demons on either side of the 7th level minor serpent demon, and designed them for different roles. As you’ll see, each of the demons has a different approach to the question of how to force magically-competent enemies into melee, and how to punish enemies once they’re engaged. The minor variations in stats and abilities are deliberate. They should team up well with each other.

Minor Serpent Demon

Progressing sword by sword and death by death toward a full marilith.

7th level troop [demon]

Initiative: +13

 

Four whirling swords +12 vs. AC (4 attacks)—7 damage

Miss: 2 damage

 

C: Beguiling gaze +12 vs. MD (one nearby or far away unengaged enemy)As a free action, the target immediately moves toward the minor serpent demon, attempting to engage it or get as close as possible to it

Limited use: 1/round, as a quick action.

 

Terrible swords: When the escalation die is even, the minor serpent demon’s crit range with melee attacks expands by a number equal to the escalation die.

 

AC   23

PD    16                 HP 98

MD  20

 

Serpent Demon Slasher

A one-on-one fight may be the best way to face this demon, but is it really one-on-one when she wields three massive two-handed swords?

6th level wrecker [demon]

Initiative: +12

 

Three two-handed swords +10 vs. AC (3 attacks)—7 damage

 

Six-handed devastation: The serpent demon slasher gains a bonus to its attacks equal to the number of different enemies that it has attacked or been attacked by this battle; maximum +6.

 

AC   21

PD    17                 HP 94

MD  18

Bladeweaver Demon

You know how you’re supposed to keep your eye on the enemy’s blade? Don’t.

8th level blocker [demon]

Initiative: +14

 

Churning swords +13 vs. AC (2 attacks that add the escalation die as a bonus)—14 damage

If both attacks hit: Bladeweaver demon can use deadly swords attack below.

 

Deadly swords +13 vs. AC (2 attacks)—16 damage

Miss: 8 damage

Limited use: 1/round, as a quick action and only when triggered by churning swords.

 

Terrible compulsion: Each round, the first enemy that misses the bladeweaver demon with an attack when it is not engaged with the bladeweaver demon must immediately move toward the bladeweaver as a free action, attempting to engage it or get as close as possible to it.

 

AC   24

PD    18                 HP 124

MD  20

Ken is working hard on Fall of Delta Green, due to be released in summer 2017. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the creatures from it – ghouls.

Ghouls

Rubbery, loathsome, foul-smelling humanoids with semi-hooved feet, pointed ears, and claws, ghouls dwell in graveyard warrens, subway tunnels, and the like beneath many human cities. Their greenish or grayish skin is matted with grave earth or flecked with leprous lesions and leathery dead spots. They move in a low, hunched posture, almost semi-bipedal; they climb, leap, and lope at prodigious speed. Their eyes are red or yellow, and glow in pitch blackness or when hungrily attentive on something or someone. Ghouls can see into both infrared and ultraviolet; in utter darkness, they can find a foe by smell or sound.

Ghouls eat dead flesh, especially human corpses. Some heretical ghouls consume very fresh corpses – transients, the lost and curious – but most ghouls restrict themselves to rotting flesh for religious reasons. They also know that too much predation on the living invites human investigation. Ghouls can digest almost anything; flesh soaked in formaldehyde and other embalming fluid goes down as easy as flesh left rotting in the sewer for a month.

They speak their own language, one of gibberings and meepings, although some recall or have learned human tongues. These ties to humanity extend past diet and language: ghouls associate with human witches as go-betweens, and with human necrophiles, serial killers, and other unwholesomely death-obsessed sorts. Indeed, a human of particularly thanatophilic tendencies can transform into a ghoul over a prolonged period of time.

Most significantly of all, ghouls regularly exchange human and ghoul infants, raising and nursing the kidnapped human child as a ghoul and leaving the ghoul changeling to ignorant human parents. Some human children interbreed with their ghoulish warren-mates to produce hybrids or mongrels; some human cultists or degenerates mate with ghouls for their own purposes, likewise. And of course many ghouls brought up as humans never reconnect with their true species and marry humans. Like Deep One hybridism, ghoul hybridism can turn recessive and pass through several human generations before reverting to type, usually upon exposure to some ghoulish stimulus or infection vector.

Human-Ghoul Changelings

Humans raised by ghouls might metamorphose into ghouls or remain human to serve as interlocutors and ghoul agents in the surface world. In addition to likely high scores in Scuffling and perhaps Conceal, they have a +1 Alertness Modifier, and suffer no penalties for darkness.

Ghoul changelings or hybrids raised as humans have the same adjustments to their statistics.

Ghoul

Abilities: Athletics 12, Fighting 14, Health 13

Hypergeometry: 5-9 for pure-born ghoul priests of their dark gods; 10+ for once-human ghoul-lich sorcerers. Liches may have Raise From Essential Saltes; both liches and priests may have Charnel Meditation for negotiations in strange cemeteries.

Hit Threshold: 4 (5 underground)

Alertness Modifier: +2 (+0 in daylight)

Stealth Modifier: +3

Attack: claws (d+1), bite (d+0); ghouls can engage in two claw attacks and a bite against the same target in one round.

Armor: Resilient [L-5]

Stability Loss: +0; +1 if the ghoul was known to the witness when alive

Charnel Feast: Consuming rotten human flesh immediately restores 3 Health to an injured ghoul. This may be done once per 24 hours.

Charnel Visage: A ghoul that eats a corpse can take the appearance of the devoured human. This ritual costs 2 Hypergeometry pool points. Many ghouls can transform rapidly between their native form and any of a dozen previously consumed human forms.

Diseased: Even if ghouls don’t spread supernatural ghoul-virus, there is nothing more infectious than a mouth full of teeth clogged with rotting human flesh. A few (2-8) days after a ghoul bite, the victim must make a Difficulty 8 Health test to avoid horrible infection. If the ghoul bite was immediately treated with First Aid, her Difficulty is 4; if medical treatment waited until after the battle or the next day, her Difficulty is 6. (Claw wounds are -1 to those Difficulties.) On a failure, the victim becomes Hurt and takes +3 damage to Health. She loses 3 Health and 3 Athletics thereafter each day until cured or dead.

Inhuman Agility: By spending 2 Athletics, a ghoul can leap 5 yards in any direction from a standing position, scale and cling to any surface including ceilings, run up to 35 mph, or drop up to 50 feet without damage.

Mephitic Memories: A ghoul that eats the brain or sensoria of a corpse can “imbibe” the memories of the deceased. This works for all vertebrate flesh, not just for humans. The memories last forever, or at least until the ghoul would normally forget them.

Pack Attack: Up to three ghouls may attack a single target in one round. The foe’s Hit Threshold drops by 1 against the third ghoul.

Tunneling: Ghouls can tunnel through soil, brick, concrete, or solid bedrock in minutes, hours, or days.

Worrying Bite: If two bite attacks in a row succeed against the same target, the ghoul worries the victim with its mighty canine jaws, and the second attack thus does double damage. The ghoul continues to do normal bite damage to the victim automatically each round until killed or driven off. The target can attempt an Athletics test (as with Monstrous Grappling, p. XX) to pull free.

Investigation

Biology: The flies in the Wensdon house have the characteristic hunched thorax and scuttling movement of Megaselia scalaris, the coffin-fly. There’s a dead body hidden somewhere in there – from the number of flies, possibly a good many bodies.

Forensics: The entire body is covered in bite marks. Oddly, although the marks are clearly canine, the jaws are unusually short and wide. From the marks, we estimate three or four of the animals. The eyes were plucked from their sockets, and are missing, as are the kidneys, spleen, liver, thymus gland, pancreas, and intestines. The large wound in the belly was a tearing wound. The skull, on the other hand, was smashed open postmortem on the gravestone, and the gray matter scooped out with some kind of clawed utensil and taken. Also postmortem, the long bones of the limbs were cracked and pried open with a four-pronged, sharpened tool, and the marrow removed. Extensive saliva traces were found in and around the bone cavities.

Notice: The “newly dug grave” over in the next plot has a marker on it labeled 1949.

Occult: It’s probably just a coincidence, but the Greenyear and Detiller families we’ve been investigating could be descendants – perhaps refugees who changed their names in the New World – of Jean Grenier and Pierre de la Tilhaire, accused werewolves in Bordeaux in 1603.

The Ghouls of New York

In the 1636, a religious order run by a heretic named Mogens Dekker fled from the Holy Roman Empire to New Amsterdam (later New York), and there set about the secretive worship of an unknown god. Dekker and his followers — known as the Keepers of the Faith — were ghouls in the making, once-human monstrosities who dug into the earth and fed on dead human flesh.

After a 1925 police raid in Red Hook, Brooklyn nearly exposed the ghoul colony, most of the ghouls migrated outward to cemeteries in New Jersey and Queens. The remaining fanatical Keepers grow lean as the cemeteries in Manhattan (all closed in 1851) empty. Heretical new-fledged ghouls hunt transients and bums in the sewers and alleys, risking exposure to DELTA GREEN.

Ghouls in Old Europe

Ghouls once infested all of Europe, and warrens still persist beneath industrial cities with regular influxes of the dead. World War II provided a rich bounty that boosted the ghoul population; individual ghouls haunt cemeteries all over Western Europe. Even then, London, Paris, Rome, and the other ancient capitals are as hunted out as New York.

The largest and most dangerous ghoul outbreak occurred in Russia during the reign of Josef Stalin, whom Russia’s ghouls called the “Great Provider.” The Soviet counter-unnatural agency GRU SV-8 (p. XX) still hunts the Cult of the Great Provider in the gulags and charnel pits of the Workers’ Paradise. Thanks to GRU SV-8, the ghoul populations behind the Iron Curtain have been culled, or at least driven into hiding.

 

ROB_tileCal Moore created the lightning elemental as part of the newly published High Magic & Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Four Icons. I tweaked the stats a bit to get them to play more like our other elementals.

High Magic & Low Cunning includes stats for the 7th level version of the lighting elemental. The monster tile Lee Moyer created for the lightning elemental is snazzy, and I’m taking this chance to show it off in color by presenting stats for the other lightning elementals at 3rd, 5th, and 9th level.

Technically, given the standardized sizes we used for elementals in 13 True Ways, we should have called the 7th level lightning elemental in the book the ‘big lightning elemental.’ No harm done, and I’m using the elemental standard in this article. I’m also ever-so-slightly massaging the stats of these new versions, but I can’t imagine you’ll notice!

Bzzzzt!

Small Lightning Elemental

Lightning elementals don’t have natural shapes of their own, unless you count bolts and sparks as shapes. They tend to pulse rapidly between jagged bolts and outlines borrowed from the creatures around them.

3rd level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +10

Lightning zap +8 vs. AC—7 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +8 vs. PD (one nearby enemy)—9 lightning damage

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   18

PD    18                 HP 38

MD  11

 

Lightning Elemental

Webs of lightning repeatedly streak in all directions, outlining the form of the creature and then dissipating. Each flash happens so fast, it leaves the thing’s image burned into your eyes.

5th level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +12

Lightning zap +10 vs. AC—12 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +10 vs. PD (one nearby enemy, or far away enemy at -2 attack)—17 lightning damage

Lightning storm transformation: Roll a d10 at the start of each of the lightning elemental’s turns. If you roll less than or equal to the escalation die, it shifts into lightning storm form until the end of the battle. While in this form it gains the following improved attack (and you stop rolling lightning storm transformation checks):

C: Storm strike +10 vs. PD (up to 2 nearby enemies)—14 lightning damage

Natural even roll: The elemental can include an additional target in the attack (requires attack roll) that hasn’t been hit by storm strike this turn, but the attack only deals half damage.

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   20

PD    20                 HP 66

MD  13

 

Epic Lightning Elemental

Epic lightning elementals that serve the Archmage have often been forced into somewhat regular forms in order to be able to hold a conversation. Epic lightning elementals associated with the High Druid let their current do the talking.

9th level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +16

Lightning zap +14 vs. AC—35 lightning damage

Natural odd hit: The target is dazed until the end of its next turn.

R: Lightning strike +14 vs. PD (one nearby enemy)—45 lightning damage

Lightning storm transformation: Roll a d6 at the start of each of the lightning elemental’s turns. If you roll less than or equal to the escalation die, it shifts into lightning storm form until the end of the battle. While in this form it gains the following improved attack (and you stop rolling lightning storm transformation checks):

C: Storm strike +14 vs. PD (up to 2 nearby enemies)—40 lightning damage

Natural even roll: The elemental can include an additional target in the attack (requires attack roll) that hasn’t been hit by storm strike this turn, but the attack only deals half damage.

Flight: Lightning elementals zip from place to place about half-as-quick as lightning, hovering above the ground to avoid being grounded.

Metal affinity+: The lightning elemental’s attacks gain a +2 bonus against an enemy wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon.

Resist lightning and thunder 16+: When a lightning or thunder attack targets this creature, the attacker must roll a natural 16+ on the attack roll or it only deals half damage.

AC   24

PD    24                 HP 164

MD  15

 

13th Age Monthly PhoenixPhoenixes are more than a symbol—they seem functionally immortal, though there may be years or decades or even centuries between some rebirths. Rob Heinsoo and ASH LAW bring these fiery elementals to 13th Age, with writeups for the flamebird phoenix, resurgent phoenix, void phoenix, and solar phoenix. You’ll also find phoenix-themed magic items, adventure hooks, and more!

Phoenix is the second installment of the second 13th Age Monthly subscription. You can buy it as a stand-alone PDF, or purchase the collected Volume 2 to get all 12 issues plus the 2015 Free RPG Day adventure Swords Against the Dead!

 

Stock #: PEL13AM16D Author: ASH LAW, Rob Heinsoo
Artist: Patricia Smith Type: 10-page PDF

Buy now

The Waking Stones_cover_350A megalith is just a set of standing stones—unless they’re actually members of an ancient stone race, reawakening in the 13th age! This full 13th Age Bestiary-style writeup has heroic, ambiguous, and villainous options that should fit into most any campaign.

The Waking Stones is the eleventh installment of 13th Age Monthly Vol. 1. You can buy it as a stand-alone PDF, or purchase the collected Volume 1 to get all 12 issues plus the Free RPG Day adventures Make Your Own Luck and At Land’s Edge!

 

Stock #: PEL13AM12D Author: Lynne Hardy
Artist: Rich Longmore Type: 8-page PDF

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ROB_tileBy Rob Heinsoo and ASH LAW

At the Gen Con 2014 Monster Design workshop, ASH LAW, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and I collaborated with the audience to create a new 13th Age monster from scratch. It was great fun, and our audience-collaborators all signed my black book so that we could list their names at the end of this piece to say thank you!

ASH took notes on the results of the design workshop, wrote up the agreed-upon mechanics, and added the adventure ideas appearing below. True clue: if an adventure idea looks like a play on a book or movie title/plot, there’s a high probability ASH was behind it!

There’s a good deal of text below, but the monster is not actually complex. It’s just weird and different, and needs to be fully explained. As you’ll see from the story ideas that follow, the workshop explored the routes by which one compelling monster can twist a campaign, much like a character’s One Unique Thing.

–Rob Heinsoo

Shadow Mongoose

A coiling mass of corporeal shadow, commonly referred to as a mongoose because of speed, aggressiveness, and persistent legends that they’re the ancient enemies of the nagas. That would explain why the nagas seem to have lost or hidden all their eggs . . . .

8th level spoiler [elemental]

Initiative: +15

Rikki-tikki-claw-claw +13 vs. AC—24 damage

Natural even hit: Make a second rikki-tikki-claw-claw attack as a free action.

[quick action] Theft of fate +13 vs. MD (one target that has been hit twice by the shadow mongoose this battle)—The shadow mongoose steals an icon die from the target. The target may not use the stolen icon die, until the shadow mongoose gives it back, or the shadow mongoose dies.

Crit: …and the relationship that the adventurer has with that icon flips from positive to negative or negative to positive. Conflicted relationships are unaffected.

Shadow speed: As a move action the shadow mongoose may teleport into engagement with a target that it missed the previous round.

Play dead: Once per battle the shadow mongoose may fake being dead. Only magical senses and a DC 25 skill roll from the PC who struck the ‘killing blow’ will detect that the creature is still alive. Shadow mongooses like to fake their deaths so that they can escape battle with their stolen icon relationships. Since shadow anatomy isn’t entirely biological, this ability functions like fleeing the battle if it succeeds, the PCs can go ahead and blast away at what they think is the corpse, but they’ll be fragging the mongoose’s shadows, not the mongoose itself.

Trickster: The shadow mongoose can change shape, though not mid-battle. Shadow mongooses sometimes join adventuring parties as helpful hirelings, love interests, or local guides in order to repeatedly steal icon relationships from adventurers.

Nastier Specials

Drop the loot: The shadow mongoose flees the battle. One nearby enemy of the shadow mongoose gains an unwanted icon relationship worth 1d3 icon dice. This new relationship is temporary, lasting only until the end of the next game session.

AC   21

PD    18                 HP 188 (see Shadow fate)

MD  22

Shadow fate: When the shadow mongoose dies all the icon relationship dice that it stole return to their owners. The person who killed the shadow mongoose gains 1d3 ‘5’ icon dice results with a random icon that they do not have a relationship with OR a 6 with the Prince of Shadows if they do not have a relationship with him (roll 1d3 for relationship type: 1= Negative, 2= Conflicted, 3= Positive).

Lost icon of nagas

It may be that there was once an icon that was somehow related to the nagas, a Duke of Nagas. If that was the case then it was ‘defeated’ by the shadow mongooses, its power and influence stolen away piece by piece by the shadow mongooses. Even today the shadow mongooses have an enmity with the wise nagas, stealing their eggs and destroying their crystal libraries.

Ancient icon results

Shadow mongooses live for a very long time, and might have stolen icon relationships with the Duke of Nagas or another ancient icon like the Dream Princess, the Dark Jester, or anything else you feel like introducing into the game. Perhaps there was an ogre icon, or a divine platinum dragon, or an icon that was a dark spider goddess. Whatever you pick, killing a shadow mongoose might give you a temporary icon relationship with that ancient icon. Exactly what that means for your game is up to you.

Elemental shadow, the rise of an icon

We’ve put this creature’s type as ‘elemental’ and said that it is made of shadow. That means shadow is an element, alongside Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. There are a couple of other shadow-themed creatures in 13th Age (such as the shadow dragon, shadow thieves, etc) and if you do decide to go with shadow-as-an-element then you might want to switch them to shadow elementals too.

What does it mean that shadow is an element? Druid elemental caster mechanics don’t reference shadow, nothing else links to it, so what’s up?

Well, if you decide that shadow is an element, then shadow mongooses might be its heralds. Perhaps the element of shadow is on the rise, growing in power and warping the world. This ties shadow mongooses into end-of-the-age style plots, where the status quo is upended and a new order is ushered in. Exactly how this links to the mysterious Prince of Shadows is up to you: maybe he’ll become a Shadow King; or maybe he is the remnant of a lost time of shadows working to bring back the elemental shadow; or maybe he’s secretly a shadow mongoose trickster.

If you don’t like that idea, then switch the creature type to undead or beast—though these creatures don’t really feel like either, so maybe make this creature an aberration. Yes, aberration feels like the best fit here, if you don’t like the idea as shadow-as-an-element.

Indispensable allies

Referenced in the mechanics is the fact that shadow mongooses like to join adventuring parties or befriend them in order to steal their icon relationships. The shadow mongoose might be a friendly tavern owner who lets the adventurers stay with her free of charge, a love interest for one of the adventurers, a local guide, a wise sage ready to offer advice, or a plucky young henchman who wants to one day be just like his heroes (the adventurers). Shadow mongooses don’t need to kill adventurers, they just want to steal their icon relationships; it is in the best interests of a shadow mongoose to help adventurers out. As far as the shadow mongoose is concerned, adventurers are the proverbial geese who lay golden eggs.

At the GenCon 2014 panel where this monster was created some of the audience wanted to have some way to detect shadow mongooses, and the idea of some tell-tale sign was talked about… though we never got around to specifying just what that sign might be.

ASH says: For some reason it sticks in my mind that the shadow mongoose is a consummate shape-changer and trickster that can never change its eyes.

Rob says: Eyes seem like too much of a give-away. I’d probably say that every mongoose has a tell, but it’s always different, and you usually don’t figure it out until after the mongoose has been exposed. One mongoose always smells just a bit like cinnamon the first time you meet it, another whistles that ancient tune called Dreams of a Lost Age, and so on.

 Iconic Crystals

What do shadow mongooses do with their stolen icon relationships? Again at GenCon, the idea of iconic crystals was raised: some sort of egg-like geode that allows the owner to mystically alter their fate and gain the aid of icons. If this is so then maybe they can be traded with other creatures to gain their aid, or even swapped with adventurers. Certainly a crystal-filled stone egg that gives you an icon relationship die is an unusual treasure.

Adventure seeds

Love in the time of shadows. A shadow mongoose tricks a party member into falling in love with it, only to later fall in love with the adventurer for real. Now it works to protect the party while attempting to avoid its secret being revealed. The party is constantly plagued with mysterious happening, strange co-incidences, and sightings of shadowy creatures.

Raiders of the lost egg. The race is on for an iconic crystal said to grant a relationship with the Wizard King. The adventurers must beat rival groups to get it for an icon, and claim their reward. Not only are agents of all the icons involved in the race to the lost egg, but a shadow mongoose has slipped into one of the parties.

The ape slaves of howling island. A shadow mongoose has made a tidy fortune as one of its assumed identities as a writer of sensationalist adventure stories, with lurid titles such as ‘the dragon of vengeance’ and ‘the lost treasure of curse castle’. The shadow mongoose, seeking new material, joins the party to chronicle its adventures (and sneakily steal icon relationship dice).

The temple of phantom shadows. A shadow mongoose openly approaches the party, revealing its true self. It wants them to open up an ancient tomb and retrieve the golden statue of a goblin found therein—they can keep the rest of the treasure for themselves. Obviously it is a trick of some sort, so what does the shadow mongoose really want?

The unicorn’s legacy. The owner of the Prancing Unicorn tavern in Concord has been discovered to be a shadow mongoose and has fled the city. The adventurers find themselves, as they have the largest bar tab, to be the inheritors of both the Prancing Unicorn and the large debt on the property. Now the party must settle a debt not theirs, run a tavern, avoid suspicion that that are shadow mongooses, and keep an eye out for the return of the true shadow mongoose.

Tricksters abound. An ancient naga is headed to Horizon to meet with a college of wizardry and share its knowledge. The adventurers are hired to provide security for the meeting, which will take several days. Just after the naga arrives one of the wizards turns up dead, their body disintegrated. The adventurers know that at least one of the wizards is an imposter, but who?

Final Thanks

When your player character has lost their connection to the Priestess because of a whirling shadow beast they could have sworn they’d killed twice, here are the people you’ll want to thank at GenCon!

Ben Roby

Brad Main

Dave Thompson

Jack Kessler

Jim Davis

K8 Evans

Kyle Rimmer

Michael Mineval

Sarah Miller

Steven Warzeha

Wade Rockett

Yoel Rodriguez

———————-

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. Created by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

by Rob Heinsoo

Orc TileWhen I read the fun Wrath of the Orc Lord organized-play adventure written by ALL CAPS MAN, aka ASH LAW, I decided I’d want another orc variety or two if I was running the adventure myself. For those keeping pace with the 13th Age OP seasons, Wrath of the Orc Lord is just about over. But I suspect a lot of groups will still be experiencing Wrath and (not-really-a-spoiler-alert) ASH says that the Domain of the Dwarf King adventure coming up in a few weeks also features orcs.

So here’s a new 3rd level orc mook that can sub in for 3rd level Cave Orc mooks or used any other way you like.

My thought process designing the monster went like this:

  1. I’ve got some nice orc minis with spears and shields.
  2. What’s an interesting reason orcs would be fighting with spears?
  3. To keep them at a distance from their foes, so that they wouldn’t lapse into bestial bloodlust, throw away their weapons, and fight with their bare hands and teeth.
  4. OK, so the Orc Lord equips these savage grunts with spears and cheap shields because they do fight better with weapons, but when they lose control or things go badly for them they throw away their weapons and shields and revert to scavenger behavior. So they’re not even trained in throwing spears, and the spears are probably deliberately badly-balanced for throwing.
  5. Looks like two different stat blocks, one for fighting with weapons, one for when the Orc Lord’s discipline has been shattered and they’re fighting tooth and claw.

The results follow. Start battles using the orc spear grunt, which are tougher than most other mooks. Their bestial reversion ability means they might turn into savage grunts midway through the battle.

The savage grunts have a strange ability which is me messing around a bit: their feral aversion ability kicks in whenever they start their turn engaged with a non-staggered enemy, you roll a die and you don’t know if the orc is going to use that die roll to attack (standard action) or disengage (move action).

Orc Spear Grunt

3rd level mook [humanoid]

Initiative: +5

Spear +8 vs. AC—7 damage

Mob of seven: The maximum size of a mob of orc spear grunts is 7 mooks. When you include more than seven orc spear grunts in a battle, use another mob.

Bestial reversion: When an orc spear grunt’s attack drops an enemy to 0 hp or below, or when one or more orc spear grunts drops, roll a single normal save for the orc spear grunt mob, with a bonus to the roll equal to the number of remaining mooks in the mob (for example, 4 mooks left = +4). If the save fails, all the remaining mooks in the mob cast away their weapons and shields and become savage grunts until the end of the battle (use that stat block instead).

AC   20

PD    16                 HP 13 (mook)

MD  12

Mook: Kill one orc spear grunt for every 13 damage you deal to the mob.

 

Savage Grunt

3rd level mook [humanoid]

Initiative: +5

Claw and teeth +6 vs. AC—5 damage

Feral aversion: When a savage grunt is engaged with a non-staggered target at the start of its turn, roll a d20 that will become either an attack roll or a disengage check!

On a natural even roll, the grunt uses the roll as a claws and teeth attack.

On a natural odd roll, the grunt uses that roll as disengage check that may or may not succeed. If the grunt disengages, it will move to engage and attack a staggered enemy, if possible. If the grunt doesn’t disengage, it will stay and fight.

AC   17

PD    15                 HP 10 (mook)

MD  12

Mook: Kill one savage grunt for every 10 damage you deal to the mob.

 

13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

AnimalTileTianacs

by Lawrence Augustine R. Mingoa

Introduction

Some say tianacs are the spawn of witches who turned themselves into living vampires using vile rituals, while others claim that they’re the bodies of unborn or uncleansed infants that are corrupted by undeath. But regardless of how they came to be, tianacs are so small that they could only take the form of a humanoid baby, wailing in the night; it’s said that those foolish enough to try and look for this child come back as bones, with their hearts ripped out (or eaten out), or not at all…

True Form of Tianacs

There are conflicting reports on how their true form looks like; some say that they resemble rotting fetuses or babies, while others claim that they resemble little brown creatures (almost like gnomes). The only consistent feature in the stories is that they have rows of sharp teeth and a withered leg.

Tianacs in the Dragon Empire

Some say that Bitter Wood got its name because it’s a dumping ground for those in the Empire with unwanted children (including some of the Emperor’s bastard children, a snarky few add), and it’s rumored to be haunted by tianacs. That being said, these creatures appear in just about any place where the bodies of babies (born and unborn) are laid to rest, but whose rituals to keep them at rest have been disturbed or were never done.

Tianacs and the Icons

Most Icons want tianacs utterly destroyed. Some however, feel differently.

The Diabolist: Aren’t they cute, in a certain light, maybe if you add a hint of demon taint to them?

Lich King: Just like any vampire, tianacs who refuse to bow down to the Lich King take great offense to his symbol. For those that do serve him, they serve as his spies, thanks to their shape-changing ability.

The Priestess: The Priestess has always been greatly saddened by the existence of tianacs, as no child should ever be desecrated in such a way.

Tianac

Normal6th LevelMookUndead Initiative: +12Vulnerability: holyM: Grasping Claws +11 vs. AC (one enemy; see below)—8 damage, and the target is grabbed and takes 4 ongoing damage until the grab ends.Natural 16+: The target is also hampered until the grab ends.Limited Use: The tianac can only use grasping claws in its true form.C: Cry of the Innocent +11 vs. MD (one nearby or far away enemy; see below) —the target must spend their move action during their turn to engage with the tianac, attempting to disengage from creatures it’s engaged with if necessary.

Limited Use: The tianac can only use cry of the innocent in its disguised form.

 

Steal Shape: The tianac can take the form of the last infant humanoid that it consumed as a quick action . While disguised, creatures must make a hard save (natural 16+) to see through the disguise. Reverting to their true form is a free action.

 

Withered Leg: The tianac crawls instead of walks or runs, requiring a 16+ to disengage from enemies instead of 11+, and may require normal (natural 11+) saves to travel distances that are nearby to other creatures; failing the save causes them to lose their move action.

 

Nastier Special:

Levitation or One Really Good Leg: While in its true form, the tianac can now levitate or leap several feet as part of their move action, but must end that movement on solid ground; this negates all the penalties of the withered leg.

ACPDMDHP 20182023

Tianacs in a Fight

Tianacs are sometimes found by themselves, using cry of the innocent to isolate creatures and consume them. More often they’re joined by other undead (usually ghouls and zombies), who serve as scapegoats that explain why there are so many who perish in the area. Usually they try to compel their targets to save them above all else, even if it means leaving themselves open to opportunity attacks.

Once they’ve been found out, or when the adventurer is engaged with them, tianacs waste no time in reverting to their true form in order to latch on to the victim, often seeking to consume the heart as soon as possible. As tianacs are usually small (or smaller if they ate a gnome baby), even halflings and gnomes don’t have too much trouble moving around while they try to shake off the abomination.

While uncommon, swarms of tianacs do exist, and these groups tend to focus their attacks on one creature at a time, stripping them to the bone before moving on to their next victim.

References:

AnimalTileby Ryven Cedrylle

The Uchawa (taken from the Old Gnomish Uczaáła “sand-borer”) is a gigantic crustacean found beneath the sands of many of the world’s deserts. Uchawa have a yellow-orange carapace, a dozen short reddish legs protruding from the underside and four forward-facing arms, each ending in a three-pincered claw. The claws are capable of grasping even mostly rounded objects and can close tightly to create a sort of shovel or chisel. The arms are stacked two to a side, one above the other. The uchawa’s carapace is light and sturdy. It contains no nerve endings so the creature is not hurt if the carapace is damaged.

The strangest thing about the uchawa is its dietary habits. It surfaces by day and basks in the sunlight, which provides enough energy for normal activity. Small herds of uchawa can regularly be seen lounging around in the heat. At night it burrows back underground to seek water. About twice a year, however, an uchawa needs to molt as its carapace becomes too small for the rest of its body. During this time it becomes strictly and abundantly carnivorous, devouring whatever animals or humanoids it can to build up reserves from which to build the next carapace.

Wild uchawa are nearly impossible to tame, but those raised in captivity can be used as mounts and tunnelers. There is a thriving business around raising and loaning out uchawa to travelers who must traverse desert for a long period of time. The skin and carapace are also useful for a small number of rituals and are highly prized by cults to various sun gods and goddesses.

 

Uchawa Juvenile (4th molt)

2rd level wrecker [BEAST]

Initiative +1

M: Claw Cutter  +7 vs. AC—10 damage

16+: Deal 5 damage to an engaged enemy.

M: Claw Clamper +6 vs PD—8 damage

  Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).

Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 10 damage to a grabbed enemy.

C: Heat Burst +5 vs PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—8 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 14 damage to characters in heavy armor

Limited use: 1/battle.

Burrowing: An uchawa juvenile can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.

Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.

Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.

Nastier Specials

Improved Coordination: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.

AC 19

PD 17                HP 38

MD 12

 

Uchawa Adult (17th molt)

5th level wrecker [BEAST]

Initiative +4

M: Claw Cutter  +10 vs. AC—20 damage

16+: Deal 10 damage to an engaged enemy.

M: Claw Clamper +9 vs PD—18 damage

  Natural even hit: The target is grabbed (save ends).

Special: An uchawa can spend its standard action to deal 20 damage to a grabbed enemy.

C: Heat Burst +8 vs PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—18 fire damage to characters in light or no armor, 28 damage to characters in heavy armor.

Limited use: 1/battle.

Four Arms: The uchawa can make two melee attacks each turn.

Burrowing: An uchawa adult can burrow through the ground, but not fast enough to be helpful in combat.

Retract: An uchawa that has pulled back in its shell is effectively impervious to direct damage from either normal weapons or spells. It can still be affected by mind-altering spells or ongoing damage from poisons and acids. Special weapons or rituals are required to break this defense.

Lumbering: The uchawa can not make opportunity attacks or intercept an enemy.

Nastier Specials

Burning Up: Any enemy engaged with the uchawa takes 6 fire damage at the start of its turn.

AC 23

PD 21                HP 88

MD 15

 

Building Battles

Uchawa make excellent war mounts for large creatures or groups of small ones. WIld uchawa are generally only dangerous during molting season, though when that is exactly is unique to each individual. An uchawa who has turned on its master or riders also makes for a surprising and fearsome encounter.

Uchawa and the Icons

The Diabolist loves uchawa. They dig caves and pits quickly, they dispose of dead flesh thoroughly and those insulated shells are just ideal for hatching demon larvae. What’s not to like? If you see an unattended uchawa somewhere bizarre, there’s a good chance the Diabolist’s associates are nearby.

The Orc Lord also has a solid appreciation for uchawa. Rather, he appreciates discarded uchawa shells. The smaller abandoned carapaces are decent instant platemail when supplies run low, but they don’t fit well and eventually become brittle. The better thing to do is load the carapaces into catapults; the bigger the better. Old uchawa shells shatter and fragment on impact, making them excellent anti-personnel pieces against organized waves of the Emperor’s troops.

The Dwarf King has tried on previous occasions to put uchawa to work in his mines. Unfortunately for him, the lack of sunlight drives them to needing meat and that just never ends well for anyone.

The Archmage has sponsored research into isolating the components of uchawa skin that make them gather energy from the sun. So far he has not succeeded.

 

Things Uchawa Carry

Most of the time, uchawa aren’t carrying anything. Domesticated uchawa might be obviously carrying a rider or some gear, but that’s about it. A few brave individuals will try to hide their valuables inside the uchawa’s carapace. Even an uchawa you raised from an egg won’t take well to its shell being invaded. The odds of finding random useful items in a wild uchawa shell are almost zero. The odds of finding something useful in a domesticated uchawa shell depend on how desperate or insane the owner happened to be.

Adventure Hooks

1) A famous crafter wants to incorporate uchawa carapace into a special set of armor. It would be easier to find a molted carapace than trying to get the material from the live creature but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

2) From time to time, desert settlements just disappear – people, structures, the whole shebang – lost into a sinkhole created by active uchawa. Relatives come themselves or send others to seek out the lost. Treasure hunters and explorers soon follow behind to see what can be salvaged and what new finds might be unearthed.

3) No one’s quite sure how you steal a herd of uchawa out from the stables of the Glittergeld Golden Dune Company, but apparently it’s possible because it’s been done. Time to round up some crab rustlers.

 

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