staring eyeA lot of us with a long history of d20 fantasy gaming have shiver-inducing memories of the first time a certain grinning, many-eyed monster absolutely demolished our group of adventurers. Sadly, that iconic monster isn’t available under the OGL; but the concept is so compelling that a lot of fantasy RPGs have taken it in interesting, non-copyright-violating directions.

When designing the overseer of the Eye Mother, my guiding principles were:

  • It’s a monster players love to hate and fear
  • Like a sadistic GM it sees everything the PCs do, and punishes them for their actions in highly specific ways designed to neutralize their strengths.
  • It prevents magic from working properly

In a stroke of luck, there were already horrifying eye-themed blasphemies in 13th Age: the fomori Daughters Of Dehothu, the Eye-Mother from the 13th Age Bestiary 2. This monster wouldn’t be powerful enough to be a true-fomori like the Daughters, but could be an intermediary between them and their servants—which fit nicely with the “punishing” concept.

I hope you enjoy the overseer of the Eye-Mother! Thanks to Rob Heinsoo for his feedback on the various drafts, and to the folks who playtested it: Tim Baker, J-M DeFoggi, Kenneth Hite, and the players in my home campaign.

(For his Poikila Hellenistika campaign, Ken reskinned it as as the animated eye and beak of a bas-relief of Ashur, tutelary god of the Assyrian Empire, and came up with the wonderfully evil spell theft nastier special.)

Overseer of the Eye Mother

Overseers of the Eye Mother are lesser true-fomori associated with Dehothu. These monstrous high priests and taskmasters ensure that cultists, unclean-ones, and fomorians do the fomori’s will, and they sadistically punish those who fail. Overseers are highly intelligent, and unlike other true-fomori, do not require a host.

Although the overseer is a large monster for the purposes of stats, there is never more than one overseer present in a battle—unless it’s an apocalyptic, campaign-ending climax where the skies are filled with squadrons of them, which would be frankly terrifying.

Overseer of the Eye-Mother

You hear the creature’s mocking laughter over your companions’ screams, as rays from the giant, glistening eyeballs that orbit its writhing, shapeless body strike them down one after another.

Large 9th level spoiler [aberration]

Initiative: +16

C: Punishing gaze +15 vs. PD75 damage

Eye ray: After an enemy takes all its actions during their turn, they make a normal save (11+). If it fails, the overseer makes an eye ray attack against that enemy as a free action. The overseer can’t use the same eye ray effect twice in a single round. (See example at the end of the writeup.)

[special trigger] R: Eye ray +17 vs. PD (one nearby or far away enemy)

Hit: Choose the eye ray effect from the table below based on the actions of the target during that turn. For example, the overseer might use charm person on an enemy (such as a cleric or commander) that uses powers and spells to benefit their allies. It might use stun against an enemy with strong defenses, and disintegration or petrification against an enemy that’s really pissed it off.

  1. Charm person: the target is confused. It can’t make opportunity attacks or use limited powers, and its next attack action will be a basic or at-will attack against any nearby ally, determined randomly (11+ save ends).
  2. Slow: starting next round, the target goes last in initiative order, and can’t delay or ready an action. On a successful save (11+) the target returns to the previous initiative order.
  3. Fear: the target takes a –4 penalty to attacks and can’t use the escalation die (11+ save ends)
  4. Petrification: the target must start making last gasp saves as it turns to stone. See the 13th Age core book for detailed rules on last gasp saves. (Limited use: once per battle.)
  5. Stun: The target takes a –4 penalty to defenses and can’t take any actions (11+ save ends)
  6. Invisibility purge: If the target is invisible, it turns visible and cannot become invisible again this battle
  7. Transfer enchantment: If the overseer or a nearby ally is suffering from a condition caused by an enemy spell (or spell-like power or ability), the overseer can transfer one condition to the target. If timing is required, interpret the transferred condition as if the overseer had caused it with this attack.
  8. Disintegration: 75 damage, and attacks against the target have their crit range expanded by 2 (save ends). If the attack reduces the target to negative hit points equal to half its maximum hit points, the target is disintegrated along with everything on their person except true magic items. A merciful GM may decide that the target was actually teleported to a “phantom zone” type prison, and might still be rescued by the group—either by killing the overseer, convincing it to release the character, or going wherever the overseer sent that character.
    • Miss: 35 damage

Anti-magic aura: When a nearby or far-away enemy uses a spell attack against the overseer, they must roll twice to attack and use the lower result unless one of the rolls is a critical hit. Anti-magic aura and the sorcerer’s spell frenzy cancel each other out: sorcerers roll a single die to attack.

Hovering flight: The overseer drifts through the air like an enormous soap bubble.

Go for the eyes!: When an enemy makes a critical hit against the overseer, one of its eyes is destroyed and the overseer loses a random eye ray effect. If an enemy declares it is aiming for an eye, a successful hit does not decrease the overseer’s hit point total—instead it destroys the eye, causing the overseer to lose a randomly-chosen eye ray effect. If all its eyes are destroyed, the overseer cannot use eye ray again until it has regrown them after a month or two.

Made of eyes: The overseer can’t be surprised or ambushed, and it has true sight (spells like blur, invisibility, etc. don’t work on it).

Uncanny willpower: If the confused condition is applied to the overseer, the overseer rolls a save at the end of each turn in which it acts, including when it makes an eye rays attack. In addition, the hampered condition does not prevent the overseer from using eye rays.

Nastier Specials

Eye theft: When a nearby or far-away creature (enemy, ally, or bystander) is staggered, it begins to feel as if its eyes are being pulled out by an invisible force. It takes a –1 penalty to hit and damage. Enemies that die in the presence of the overseer do indeed have their eyes sucked out as it absorbs the eyeballs.

Spell theft: As a standard action during its turn, the overseer can cast any failed spell attack made against it as a steal spell attack.

[special trigger] R: Steal spell +15 vs. the defense in the original spell—if the spell does damage, the target takes 75 damage of the type described. If the original spell does ongoing damage, the target takes 10 ongoing damage of the type described. The target suffers any conditions described in the spell description.

 

AC 25

PD 23    HP 360

MD 23

Tactics

The oveseer has zero interest in mixing it up in melee combat with heroes, whom it views as scurrying insects to be tormented for its amusement. It hovers at a distance, letting fomori cultists (unclean-ones, kobolds, troglodytes, orcs, and so forth) to fight and die while it uses punishing gaze and eye ray. The overseer has a strong sense of self-preservation and attempts to leave the battle as soon as it looks like there’s a real chance it might be killed. If possible, it takes an enemy confused by the charm person ray with it as a hostage.

An example of the overseer in combat:

  1. A cleric, a rogue, and a wizard face off against an overseer in a temple ruin. The rogue goes first in order of initiative, and makes a ranged attack against the overseer for 20 damage. At the end of the rogue’s turn, the player rolls a saving throw and fails. The overseer makes a successful eye ray attack against the rogue as a free action. The overseer wants to slow the rogue down, so it uses the slow ray.
  2. The cleric goes next in initiative order and invokes the domain of strength. The cleric then casts javelin of faith and hits the overseer for 30 damage. At the end of the cleric’s turn, that player rolls a saving throw, and fails. The overseer makes an eye ray attack against the cleric (only one, even though the cleric took multiple actions during their turn). The overseer uses its petrification ray to gradually turn the cleric into stone.
  3. The wizard goes next, and casts acid arrow at the overseer. Due to the overseer’s anti-magic aura the wizard rolls twice and uses the lower result. The wizard’s attack misses. At the end of the wizard’s turn the player rolls a saving throw and succeeds. The overseer does not make an eye ray attack against the wizard on that turn.
  4. The overseer goes next. Because this overseer has the nastier special magic theft, it casts the wizard’s failed acid arrow at the rogue. The rogue takes 75 points of damage, and will take 10 ongoing damage on their next turn.
  5. A new round begins. Because of the slow ray’s effect, the rogue goes last instead of first this round.
  6. The cleric moves to engage the overseer and makes a successful hammer of faith attack. It’s a critical hit, and does significant damage. The overseer makes an eye ray attack and, enraged at this affront, chooses disintegration.
  7. The cleric, now staggered and vulnerable, fails their last gasp save and continues to turn into stone.
  8. The players announce that they wish to flee the battle.

Image by Anna Langova.


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. 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.

Halloween is nigh, so I’m going to stat up some spooky monsters—in this case, pirate ghosts! These restless undead might haunt the Iron Sea coast, the rivers of the Fangs, or the Midland Sea around Necropolis and Omen.

You can find all sorts of ghosts in the 13th Age Bestiary, from the Petulant Never-Was to an Epic Haunting. The monsters below are based on the disgraced legionnaire and major haunting. The dead men tell no tales ability is a modified version of the death marker’s marked for death ability.

Abilities for Most Ghosts

Most ghosts have several or all of the following abilities:

Bound hauntings: Most ghosts are bound to an area, usually the area of their death. This ability won’t come up much in play, but it does make it seem likely that ghosts can be easier to get away from than other monsters. Move far enough fast enough and the ghost returns to the area it’s bound to. Occasionally festivals for the dead or other rituals can call bound ghosts from their hauntings, but those are unusual and temporary circumstances.

Exceptions: There may be ghosts that are bound to people, or events, or phenomena that travel. There might even be ghosts that aren’t bound to anything, but at that stage there are several other questions that surface and odd magical, iconic, or unique intervention seems likely.

Flight: Most ghosts fly, though some may be quite slow, seeming to drift or walking on air. Ghosts that fly in unusual ways will be flagged with their own abilities.

Exceptions: Not all ghosts fly. Some seem constrained to act much like they acted when they were alive, and flying wasn’t part of their life package.

Unnatural touch: Many ghosts can alter the temperature of their environment to more closely match the underworld or afterlife that they’ve so far evaded. Sometimes that’s icy cold, sometimes that’s burning hot, and sometimes it’s just kind of normal, which would go unnoticed unless the ghost is somewhere abnormal!

Exceptions: This is more of a special effect of ghost stories than part of a creature’s combat abilities, and you can safely ignore it unless you find telling moments when it adds to the game.

The Black Spot: A New Ability for Pirate Ghosts

The black spot: If someone has wronged a pirate ghost, either in life or after their death, a ghostly pirate crew member appears before them 1-6 months later (ideally on a dark and stormy night) and presents them with a scrap of paper marked with a black smudge. To resist the magical compulsion to accept the black spot, the target must succeed at a 16+ save. If the save is failed, the target takes the black spot. From then on, the offended pirate ghosts can teleport to the target’s location at will to attack them, and will keep coming until the target is dead.

Pirate Ghost Captain

Come now, surely ye haven’t forgotten yer old shipmates? Why, it feels like it were only yesterday we dangled at at the end of a hangman’s rope, while you went on to live all respectable and proper-like.

Double-strength 6th level wrecker [undead]

Initiative: +12

Vulnerability: holy

Phantom cutlass +13 vs. PD—40 negative energy damage

Natural even hit or miss: The ghost pirate captain can make a dead men tell no tales attack as a free action against a nearby staggered enemy.

C: Dead men tell no tales +11 vs. MD (nearby staggered enemy)—5 ongoing psychic damage (11+ save ends).

Target is hit by a dead men tell no tales attack for the second time this battle: Until the end of the battle, when the target tries to spend a recovery they have to succeed at a save (11+) first. If they fail, they haven’t used their action but can’t spend recoveries that turn.

Target is hit by a dead men tell no tales attack for the third time this battle:The save to spend a recovery is now a hard save (16+).

Target is hit for the fourth time this battle: Until the end of the battle the target cannot spend recoveries.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 12+ to all damage except holy damage. A ghost can move through solid objects, but can’t end its turn inside them.

Mark of the Jonah: Each enemy that has a background or One Unique Thing related to sailing or the sea that misses an attack with a natural odd roll takes a -2 penalty to all its defenses until the end of the battle.

Nastier Specials

Fear aura: While engaged with this ghost, if the target has 30 hp or fewer, it’s dazed (–4 to attack) and does not add the escalation die to its attacks.

Swarm of pirates: If there are three or more ghost pirate crew member mooks in a battle, the pirate ghost captain’s fear aura ability affects enemies with 60 hp or fewer.

AC 22

PD 19     HP 140

MD 16

 

Pirate Ghost Crew Member

Arrrrr!

6th level mook [undead]

Initiative: +9

Phantom cutlass +10 vs. PD—8 negative energy damage

Mob-based: For every separate mob of ghost pirate crew member mooks in the battle (mobs start with at least four mooks), add a +1 bonus to the ghost pirate crew member’s attacks and +2 to its damage.

Ghostly: This creature has resist damage 14+ to all damage except holy damage. A ghost can move through solid objects, but can’t end its turn inside them.

AC 21

PD 19 .      HP 18 (mook)

MD 16

Mook: Kill one ghost pirate crew member mook for every 18 damage you deal to the mob.


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. 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.

Shards of the Broken Sky has more oozes than you can hold in just one dungeon. Stirring the ooze-pot, I realized that the original black pudding from page 240 of the 13th Age core rulebook is one of the worst-designed monsters in the game. Not if you’ve been playing 13th Age. No, if you’ve been a player, the black pudding has been your secret best friend, a huge 9th level wrecker that deals damage like a spilled pudding cup.

I didn’t add the revised black pudding into Shards, instead I put in a lower level version, saving the updated 9th level monster for today. Accompanying the stats, another great cardboard miniature from Rich Burlew’s A Monster for Every Season: Winter pack.

 

Black Pudding

Sadly, the curse the Archmage had inflicted on these creatures has just worn off.

 

9th level wrecker [ooze]

Initiative: +8

 

Acid-drenched pseudopod +14 v PD (up to 4 attacks, each against a different nearby enemy)—60 acid damage, and 15 ongoing acid damage.

Miss: 20 damage, and 5 ongoing acid damage

 

Climber: A black pudding sticks to ceilings and walls when it wishes, sliding along as easily as on the floor.

Slippery: The pudding has resist weapons 12+.

Flows where it likes: The ooze is immune to opportunity attacks.

Ooze: The ooze is immune to effects. When an attack applies a condition to an ooze (dazed, hampered, weakened, ongoing damage, etc.), that condition doesn’t affect it.

 

AC 23

PD 20      HP 470

MD 19


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.

Here’s what I love about the giant shark bowl ooze from Tome of Beasts 2: Creature Codex by Kobold Press: it’s a perfect over-the-top addition to a master villain’s lair in 13th Age. Spy movie masterminds often have tanks full of sharks, alligators, piranhas, and other menaces in their headquarters. These remind everyone who they’re dealing with, and are also handy ways to dispose of intruding heroes and unlucky henchmen.

The giant shark bowl ooze does them one better—not only is the shark deadly, the aquarium itself is a monster.

The original is designed for 5th Edition under the OGL, and as soon as I saw it, I sat down and statted it for 13th Age. (Many thanks to Rob Heinsoo for giving it a development pass before posting.) Whereas the original is treated as one monster, my version treats it as two. The ooze is a variant of the gelatinous dodecahedron, and the shark is a non-mook version of the Iron Sea shark, both from the 13th Age Bestiary.

Giant Shark Bowl Ooze

A giant shark swims within a huge fishbowl, circling above a sandy floor strewn with seashells, a small castle, and a treasure chest. While you’re figuring out how to kill the shark and get the treasure, the bowl lashes out with a gelatinous pseudopod and engulfs you.

Huge 7th level blocker [ooze]

Initiative: +7

Shlup’n’schlorp +13 vs. PD—30 damage, and the giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the ooze.

Miss: The ooze can make a spasms attack as a free action.

[Special trigger] C: Spasms +13 vs. AC (up to 2 attacks, each against a different nearby enemy)—20 damage

Engulf and suffocate: Engulfed targets automatically take 20 damage at the start of the ooze’s turn, and are consider nearby to (and soon to be engaged with!) the giant shark swimming inside the ooze. The shark acts after the ooze’s turn, and can engage any engulfed targets. The shark cannot attack targets outside the ooze (unless it moves out of the ooze, see its stats below). Engulfed targets can escape the ooze with a successful disengage check at a -5 penalty.

Instinctive actions: Gelatinous creatures have no brains, sometimes they just do things. When the escalation die is odd, instead of making an attack or moving, roll a d8 to see what the giant shark bowl ooze does. If an option is not available (you roll a 1 but there are no nearby enemies), reroll until you get a valid option.

  1. The giant shark bowl ooze makes a squash attack against 1d4 nearby enemies as it rolls and shlorps around the area. Any enemies already engulfed by the giant shark bowl ooze take 10 thunder damage.

C: Squash +10 vs. PD (1d4 nearby enemies)—20 damage, and the target is stunned (easy save ends, 6+)

  1. The giant shark bowl ooze throws out whip-like tendrils and makes a sudden orifice attack against each enemy engaged with it. Then it pulls each nearby enemy next to it and engages that creature.

Sudden orifice +15 vs. PD (each enemy engaged with it)—The giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the giant shark bowl ooze

  1. Hundreds of finger-size slimes slither out from the interior of the giant shark bowl ooze and begin worming their way across the bodies of each of its enemies in the battle. Until the end of the battle, when a non-ooze creature takes any damage besides ongoing acid damage, it also takes 10 acid damage.
  2. The giant shark bowl ooze produces spikes. It gains a +4 bonus to all defenses until the end of the battle.
  3. The giant shark bowl ooze makes a spasms attack. If it misses with either attack roll, after the attacks, it can make a stretch and engulf attack as a free action.C: Stretch and engulf +13 vs. PD (one nearby or far away enemy)—30 thunder damage, and the giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the ooze
  4. C: Pseudopod slaps +13 vs. AC (one nearby enemy)—40 thunder damage

    Natural odd hit: The target pops free from the giant shark bowl ooze and is knocked far away, and the ooze makes the attack again against a different nearby enemy as a free action.

    Natural even hit: The giant shark bowl ooze engulfs the target if it’s smaller than the giant shark bowl ooze.

AC 21

PD 19     HP 400

MD 16

 

Giant Shark

Double-strength 5th level wrecker [beast]

Initiative: +7 (but don’t roll for the giant shark, it acts immediately after the giant shark bowl ooze)

Massive jaws +10 vs. AC—36 damage

Miss: 18 damage.

Frenzy: While staggered, if the giant shark is unengaged at the start of its turn, it must roll an easy save (6+). On a failure, the giant shark must move and attack a random nearby enemy that’s staggered, or a random nearby non-ooze creature if there are no staggered enemies. Yes, this means the giant shark might propel itself torpedo-like out of the ooze at a target.

Shredder: When an enemy misses with a melee attack against the giant shark and rolls a natural 1–5, the attacker takes 18 damage.

In a bowl, yo: As mentioned above in the its ooze bowl’s stats, the giant shark can’t attack enemies unless they’re in the ooze with it; the ooze was reduced to 0 hp and has dissolved; a PC thought that getting the shark out of its bowl would somehow be a good idea; or the shark has erupted from the ooze during frenzy. Likewise, thanks to the ooze’s protection, very few attacks from outside the bowl can affect the giant shark. If you decide that a particularly powerful or clever attack from outside the bowl can choose the shark as a target, the shark gets a +5 to all its defenses against that attack.

Last, dying thrash: If the giant shark is outside of its bowl, the shark takes 25 damage at the end of its turns. When it reaches 0 hit points and dies, roll this attack against all nearby non-ooze creatures: +12 vs. PD—18 damage

AC 22

PD 19     HP 140

MD 14

 

About 13th Age

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.

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

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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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