Esteemed Patreon backer Simon… wait, no, strike that out. Correct that.

Esteemed Pelgrane co-owner Simon Rogers asks: “I have an idea for a Page XX column which by pure coincidence would help me for my game in a week’s time. I would like (Champion tier) stats for Grendel, and Grendel’s Mother, plus suggestions for reskins of existing creatures for Norse ones.” So, by pure co-incidence, here’s a take on Beowulf for 13th Age parties. (And by even purer co-incidence, it lets me do some research for my stretch goal adventure for another Beowulf game…)

Grendel on his own is a match for a party of 7th-level adventurers; Grendel’s Mother isn’t quite as fearsome, but she’s accompanied by a host of nicors.

Grendel

march-riever mighty, in moorland living,

in fen and fastness; fief of the giants

the hapless wight a while had kept

since the Creator his exile doomed.

9th level triple-strength wrecker [Giant]

Initiative: +13

Grim and Greedy Grasp +14 vs. AC (3 attacks)—80 damage

Natural 16+: Grendel grabs the target and throws him over his shoulder. The target is Stuck (but moves with Grendel) and Hampered while in Grendel’s clutches (save ends both).

Ruthless Murder +14 vs. AC – 120 damage, and 20 ongoing damage (save ends). Grendel can only make a Ruthless Murder attack if he has no grabbed victims.

The Hall-Thane’s Hate: Grendel automatically ambushes (getting a free round of attacks) if he’s attacking characters who have just taken a Quick Rest or Full Heal-up. He gets a bonus to his attacks in that ambush round equal to the number of Recoveries expended in that rest.

Safe from sword of battle: When Grendel’s hit by an attack, reduce the size of the damage dice by two steps before rolling. So, if Grendel’s hit by an attack that would normally deal 7d8+10 damage, the damage dice by two steps (d8->d6->d4), so the attack now deals 7d4+10 damage instead.

Hot Blood: If Grendel’s struck by a critical hit from a melee weapon, the attacker must make a save (11+) or the weapon’s destroyed at the end of combat.

Far and Fast The Fiend Outran: When the initiative dice is even, if Grendel is not engaged with any foes, he may withdraw from combat, escaping across the moors and fens. Any grasped characters may make one final Hard save to escape; any characters who fail this last save are devoured.

Leave Hand Behind In Pledge: If Grendel is unable to disengage, he may choose to pop free by sacrificing one of his limbs. Grendel may also choose to automatically succeed at a save by the same method. Grendel’s number of Grim and Greedy Grasp attacks is permanently reduced by 1.

After Wassail Was Wail Uplifted: Grendel hates music and song. When a bard song is in effect, the singer becomes Vulnerable to Grendel’s attacks.

AC   24

PD   23                 HP 555

MD  19

 

Grendel’s Mother

the livelong time

after that grim fight, Grendel’s mother,

monster of women, mourned her woe.

She was doomed to dwell in the dreary waters,

cold sea-courses

9th level Double-strength spoiler [Giant]

Initiative: +13

Grisly Claws +14 vs. AC (2 attacks)—60 damage

Natural 16+: Grendel’s Mother may make a loath to bite attack as a free action.

Broad and Brown-Edged Short Sword +14 vs. AC – 100 damage.

Avenge the Bairn: Any character who damaged Beowulf is Vulnerable to this attack

C: Loath to Bite +14 vs. MD – 40 psychic damage, and that character can only inflict miss damage on Grendel’s Mother on a hit (hard save ends).

Fangs of Flood: Grendel’s Mother is surrounded by an aura of drowning water. Any character who starts their turn nearby her must make a save (11+). Those who fail begin to drown (become Weakened and start making Last Gasp saves). Disengaging from Grendel’s Mother ends this effect.

Place of Fear: The lair of Grendel’s Mother is foul and strange. A character who rolls a 1-5 on any d20 roll becomes affected by fear (-4 to attacks and cannot use the escalation die) until the end of their next turn.

AC   23

PD   19                 HP 333

MD  25

 

Nicor

sea-beasts many

tried with fierce tusks to tear his mail

9th level mook [beast]

Initiative: +13

Fierce Tusk +14 vs. AC—30 damage

AC   25

PD   23                 HP 45 (mook)

MD  19

Mook: Kill one nicor for every 45 damage you deal to the swarm.

 

Norse Monsters

Obviously, lots of giants and trolls work really well. Drow always get trotted out as svartalfir. Death Knights (Bestiary 2, p. 249) could be reskinned as draugr-wights. Norse dragons are more commonly sea-monsters or serpents, so reskin dragon breath weapons as a venomous bite or sudden furious assault.

Scars of Dracula (1970)

Scarsofdracula

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Dracula: Christopher Lee

Let us resolutely ignore the dead pacing (probably from Anthony Hinds’ screenplay), the insane overlighting that washes out Christopher Lee’s makeup unforgivably, and the damp-even-for-a-Hammer-romantic-male-lead dampness of the “romantic male lead” Simon (Dennis Waterman). Let us ignore the comically ineffective “set fire to the castle” bit up front and the ineffectively comic cod-Benny Hill skit that sets up the action, such as it is. Let us ignore the fact that the “somewhat good fake bat” apparently broke down or went missing and Hammer pushed on with the “not at all good fake bat” in this most bat-centric of the Hammer Draculas. Let us ignore the undignified ending, in which Dracula is set on fire by lightning. (Yes, you read that right.) Let us, in short, ignore all the reasons people say this is the worst of the Hammer Draculas and concentrate on the reasons to watch and take note of it.

First and foremost: Christopher Lee gets more lines and screen time in this one than in all the others combined. Even with this terrible material, he just plain owns, and the script does show us a properly sadistic side of Dracula missing in most versions. Also, the notion of re-doing Psycho as a Dracula period picture has a sort of bizarre charm: rogue vanishes in weird lodging, rogue’s sibling follows up with similarly dangerous results. Dracula really uses the bats well in this picture, as scouts and guardians and (best of all) as a death squad when people he wants to kill inconsiderately hide in a church. Patrick Troughton brings real pathos to the role of Klove, Dracula’s manservant and remover-of-crucifixes-from-sleeping-bosoms who falls in love with a picture of Sarah (Jenny Hanley), as well he might. She is indeed delightful, although sadly washed out next to saucy tavern wench/clue dispenser Julie (Wendy Hamilton) and Dracula’s disobedient Bride, Tania (Anouska Hempel). Finally, Dracula does his best Hammer wall climb in this one, up to his clever tower crypt with only one window and no doors.

The 31 Nights of Dractober is a daily preview of a “first cut” essay on a cinematic Dracula. Surrounded by many plastic bats (and by your comments and responses), it will appear in my upcoming book Thrill of Dracula, part of the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter. Speaking of which, you can pre-order hard copies, miraculously unscathed by fire, of The Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook and Dracula Unredacted from your Friendly Local (Bits & Mortar participating) Game Store or from the Pelgrane store and get the PDFs now!