The Monster Mash (or Guess what Book Gregory Got for Christmas)

I know I am late to this party, but I just got this great book four days ago.  Now, my first idea was to write up a glowing review of why this is a really strong monster manual, but there are enough of those already out there.  So, I’ve decided to write about monsters that may play a defining role in my Pellham campaign, how the 5E Monster Manual will help or hinder use of those monsters, and My Plan on their use in my games.

Fomorians: In myth and legend Fomorians are among the great foes of the Tuatha de Dannan.  I’ve not used them much at all in my games, because earlier editions of D&D presented them as weak, deformed giants, not as foes worthy of rivalling gods.  This all changed with 4E and at last here were foes worthy of heroes!  Since I am running a Celtic-style game in my Pellham campaign, Fomorians seem like natural choices for opponents.  While I am thrilled that many of monsters in 5E have returned to previous versions of themselves, I am saddened by the Fomorians demotion to lesser giants.  My Plan: Ignore the 5E version of Fomorians and use my 5E conversions of 4E Fomorians.

Hags and Dryads: I’ve used dryads for years as oracles and sharers of knowledge.  Hags have played similar roles in my games, but in more sinister ways and often as villains meant to fought and destroyed.  While hags often come in my games in packs of three, dryads only recently gained that particular feature.  When my wife and I took a trip a few years back, we saw three trees grown together at the edge of a small river.  Looking at those trees I saw a set of dryad sisters and immediately placed them in Rhillmoran.  5E gives me strong descriptions of dryads and hags and cool rules for hag covens.  My Plan: Introduce my PCs to Kirke, Medea, and Trakiya of the Coven Tree, expand on the stories of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, and place a couple of hag covens around to cause trouble.

Blights: Never used blights in any of my games, but they are going to appear in days to come.  My Plan: Integrate blights into N2: The Forest Oracle.

Shambling Mounds: I’ve used shambling mounds as the big bosses in more than one swamp or garden-gone-bad.  The 5E version contains enough information to run a solid encounter or three.  My Plan: Enter the Fens and face the terrors within.

Looks like plants are the big monsters in this campaign.  What monsters are likely to show up in your games?

Game On!

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Resources

I have a question that I am going to ask myself and I hope my readers will ask it of themselves and share their answers in my comments section.  I’ve been playing D&D for 30+ years.  I’ve got a fairly extensive Dungeons and Dragons library.  As I build my world and create my campaigns, I make use of that library.  Now the question, “What resources from my collection do I use the most and why?”

Basics

Dungeon Masters Guide (1E) – Tables – There are tables for nearly everything I could want: Gem Values and Magical Properties, Expert Hirelings with explanations of what each does and their Monthly Costs, and Powers and Side Effects for Artifacts and Relics to just name a few. 

Monsters

Monster Manual (1E) – Illustrations – I’ve seldom seen better illustrations of the monsters I use in my games.  No offense is intended to any of the many great artists who have illustrated numerous D&D products, but sometimes a clean lined black and white illustration sparks the imagination the best.

Fiend Folio (1E) – Slaadi

Dragons (1E Role Aids) – DRAGONS!  This is a great setting and resource book.  I’ve used it for treasures, NPCs, and settings.

Denizens of Avadnu (3E Setting) – Great set of monsters in an non-standard D&D setting.

Gods, Demigods, and Heroes

Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia (1E) – Pantheons – I just enjoy looking through book and finding a pantheon or a god that would add a unique flavor to a region or an NPC.

Deities and Demigods (3E) – Advice on building religions – The examples of mystery cults and monotheistic versus polytheistic religions are good reads, useful and fun.

Religion (GURPS) – Title says it all.

Magic

Dragon Tree Spell Book (1E The Dragon Tree) Spells – Wild, weird spells from the early days of gaming.

Psionic Artifacts of Athas (2E) – Magic items, psionic tools, and life-shaped items.  I’ve made extensive use of the Rhul-tal.

Sorcerer’s Guide (Talislanta) – Magical Tomes, Magical Items, and Extra-Dimensional Entities

Tome of Mighty Magic (1E North Pole Press) Spells – More, wild, weird spells from the early days of gaming.

Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs (2E) – Life-shaped items and language

Other Dimensions

Domains of Dread (2E Ravenloft) – Great NPC ideas and adventure sites

Heroes of the Feywild (4E) – NPC ideas and site details

Heroes of the Shadowfell (4E) – NPC ideas and site details

Hordes of the Abyss (3E) – Good ideas for demonic and dark extra planar sites

Manual of the Planes (1E) – Good ideas for extra planar sites

Manual of the Planes (3E) – More good ideas for extra planar sites

I am sure there are others, but these are the ones that I have been reaching for most, when I am working on my new 5E game.

Game On!

Dragons, Dragons, and More Dragons (or “A Big, Boring List About Gregory’s Obsession”)

I love dragons.  I don’t remember when I first discovered dragons and my love for them, but I do love them.  It may have been the summer I read the Science Fiction Book Club Edition of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern.  It may have been when I discovered, thanks to Suzanne White’s book Chinese Astrology, that I was born in the Year of the Dragon.  It may have been when I got my hands on copy of the 1977, 1978 edition of the Monster Manual.  Whenever it was, that love led me into placing a lot of dragons in my games.

Back in the Before Time, when Rilmorn was still being born, I gamed with a group of people that had multiple DMs.  While many of us took turns running games, each of us only played a single character.  Because each of saw things differently, it like slipping from world to world each game.  I was the first one to drop a a dragon in to the game and it was dead before the PCs found it.  It was a brass dragonskin that had magically inscribed names on it.  It was found in Mythgold and I’m fairly certain I stole that idea from B1In Search of the Unknown.  I don’t recall the first living dragon that I pitted against the PCs, but I suspect it was a green, given the Green Dragon Inn and the back story that I layered in.  It was during this period of my gaming career that Gregor the Gaunt (my, oh so creatively named, character) got his bronze dragon, Zuth, and became Gregor O’Dragon.  Gregor and Donalis rescued Zuth from the abandoned city of Wondercliff.  This period was a good time to encounter dragons and attempt to kill them. (2014.01.14)

After the other DMs decided to quit gaming or just sit on the other side of the screen, I became THE DM and truly began running games in the still unnamed world that would be called Rilmorn.  I put lots of dragons in my games during this time.  I used the five chromatic dragons to the best of their abilities.  I lifted the ice dragon from Pegasus Magazine and freaked out few players.  I dropped dragonettes in, as companions and familiars to PCs and NPCs.  Dragon Magazine issue 50 gave me “True Dragons;” it was a great article and gave me plenty of good ideas.  The Fiend Folio came out and I found oriental dragons.  I was very happy to drop the god Anu and the three-headed dragon, Dahak into my world, after I found them in the “Babylonian Pantheon” in Deities and Demigods.  The Monster Manual II gave me a couple new favorites, the mist and shadow dragons.  I crafted the Chalice of Dragons during this time; if a being bleed into the cup and then focused his or her will on it, a small dragon “familiar” would form out of the blood…the user had to randomly roll for which dragon type he or she got.  This time was notable for the sheer variety of dragons, it was fun. (2014.01.14)

My gaming group split up after several years of gaming.  We graduated high school and such.  About this time, Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in Vancleave, MS got a new minister, Andy Cotten.  The parsonage became the place to game and it was during this time that Rilmorn was named and I started writing Rilmorn’s history.  I do not know where I lifted the idea of naming the Ages of History, but I liked the idea and named the era in which I was running games the “Age of Dragons.”  There were dragons in this era of gaming, but only one stands out.  It was the “woolly dragon,” from the cover of Dragon Magazine issue 81.  It was a good time for gaming, but a poor poor time for dragons. (2014.01.14)

My college days were days of dragons.  I got a copy of Dragons by Cory Glaberson.  Gem dragons and the missing color wheel (orange, purple, and yellow) dragons saw heavy play.  Gareth Eybender, an elven ranger ran by Mike Magee, ate the silver fruit of the Tree of Dianides and became silver dragon.  The Sept of the Dragon began collecting artifacts and other treasures to give in worship to or to control of various dragons.  The Dragon War began and every third or fourth game the PCs were faced with another dragon to battle.  The characters carried the battle to Kardon and its partdragon overlord and with his death hunted down his liege Babylon.  When the War of Dragons ended the political and parts of the physical landscape of Moytonia (the main continent of my gaming world) were completely reshaped.  Several more dragons were appeared before the end of the age: Chronepsis – Dragon of Fate, Dhivanara of the Purple Sands, and Tel-Mordin the Feared being three of the more important.  Tel-Mordin’s death marked the end the Age of Dragons and the beginning of the Age of Empire.

During my 3E days, I only remember the appearance of one dragon, Gareth Eybender, and he only appeared in his elf form.  3E dragons were meh to me.

I spent some time thinking on my 3E games and remembered that I had a pyroclastic dragon that the party defeated and once the dragon was dead, Hassiem (Matt Wagner’s character) bathed in its blood getting an extreme Natural Armor Class.  It was enjoyable. (2014.06.18)

 4E dragons in, probable, order of appearance

  • Ramala: green dragon – daughter of Rahab and Kitiara, wounded by her brother Sargon, finished off by the adventurers Surana and Aktara
  • Kitiara: green dragon – blue dragonborn that ate of the Tree of Dianides, grandmother of Kharus, a blue dragonborn, and grandmother-in-law of Suarana (played by Christina Guldensupp), a bronze dragonborn
  • Vanik: orium (red steel) dragon – poses as a brown dragonborn prince
  • Gareth Eybender: silver dragon from the Age of Dragons
  • Bolenbach: “Ship Dragon” – sea dragon slain by Gareth Eybender and Alkin du Fey, who used body to build a ship.  Ages later, Bollenbach was the figurehead for E3’s flying steamship, the Enterprise, as they continued to add magical improvements, Bollenboch returned to life.
  • Menethesis: argentyl (star silver) dragon – prophet who believed the adventurers known as E3 were a threat to the world, killed by E3
  • Io-Vol: dreamwrath dragon – bound to the artifact known as the Flask of Dragons
  • Feldspar (played by Matt Wagner): silver dragon – shifter, who under the influence of the Blood of Io from the Flask of Dragons, ate Menethesis’ heart and transformed into a silver dragon; lost his dragon form through a faery “blessing,” but regained it after eating of the fruit of Dianides
  • Paracelsus: purple dragon – oldest living child of Io-Vol-First of the Dreamwrath Dragons, master psion, and crafter of a clan of purple dragonspawn; found trapped in a mirror of life trapping and freed by Feldspar under the possession of Io-Val.
  • Esaerian: steel dragon – poses as a human, captain of the Enterprise, Bollenbach’s mate
  • Chronepsis: Triple Dragon of Fate – Stopped by to see what E3 was doing to the Kron, Chronepsis’ favorite humans
  • Unnamed: black “True Dragon” – Mutant black dragon from Dragon Isle, has two sets of wings and no forelimbs.
  • Belvar (played by James Burkett): silver dragon – Ate the Fruit of Dianides wrapped in a silver dragon scale to “assure” dragon form transformation. 
  • Dragotha: Undead Dragon – is involved in a Great Game with Gareth Eybender and the Lich Morgreth
  • Unnamed: firewrack dragon – guardian of Hellspawn Isle
  • Unnamed: seawrack dragon – guardian of Deathwater Isle
  • Unnamed: woodwrack dragon – guardian of Truewood Isle
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Colossus
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Goliath
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Titan

Wizards of the Coast has posted a History of Dragons in D&D on their DnD site.  I like it.

The Map of Dragons (2014.01.14)

Wyrnflight by Deby Fredericks is a blog about Dragons!  Go and Read it!  (2014.01.14)