Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medieval Bestiary – Part One

European folklore holds a candle to none in the breadth and depth of its imagination. Europeans populated not only their own countries with all manner of strange beasts and monsters, but extended their imaginations over the entire globe. While a good many of these creatures have been given game statistics, several have not. Some of these creatures are, to be sure, simple variations on existing monsters – ogres, giants, fairies, spirits, etc. Others are just not threatening or interesting enough to demand statistics. Those monsters of the folklore of France, Germany and the Low Countries, and those of medieval bestiaries and heraldry, that I thought both unique and challenging are presented below.

This post is declared Open Game Content! Enjoy.

First described by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the abarimon lived in a country, also called Abarimon, in a great valley of Mount Imaus (i.e. the Himalayas). Despite their feet being turned backwards, or perhaps because of it, they were incredibly swift runners. The abarimon were terribly savage, and lived alongside wild animals. The air in the valley of Abarimon is so pure, that once one has become accustomed to it, they cannot leave the valley again without dying.

In game terms, the abarimon are humanoids who have backwards pointing feet. They dwell in mountain valleys and live the life of hunter-gatherers. They are swift runners, and as cunning as any animal. The abarimon speak a simple dialect of grunts and gestures, and place no value on treasure other than weapons.

Abarimon: HD 1; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6) or 1 unarmed (1d3); Move 18; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Alce (Keythong)
The alce is a wingless griffon, the offspring of a true griffon and a lion. Although lacking the ability to fly, it makes up for this with a coat of spikes, not unlike that of a hedgehog. Because of these spikes and the beast’s vicious disposition, creatures engaged in melee combat with an alce must make a saving throw each round to avoid suffering 1d4 points of damage from the spikes. Alces usually live in highlands bordering mountains inhabited by griffons.

Alce: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Spikes.

The allocamelus is the offspring of an ass and a camel. The allocamelus has the head of an ass and the body of a camel. The creature is used as a pack animal throughout Venatia and the Golden Coast. It is not as tolerant of the desert heat as the camel, but can in most respects be treated as that creature.

Alp (Schrat, Walrider)
In German folklore, the alp is a creature that resembles the incubus (the male version of a succubus) and the vampire. The word “alp” is related to the word “elf”.

The alp is a minor demon that appears as a demonic satyr wearing a hat in a style common to the region. The female version is called a “mara”. In either case, the creature attacks sleeping people, controlling their dreams and trapping them in terrible nightmares. While the victim is unable to rouse himself, the alp sits upon his chest, making it difficult to draw breath. The alp might also attempt to suckle on its victim, male or female, drawing blood if no breast milk is forthcoming. Alps can change themselves into the form of a boar, cat, viper, wolf or a small, white butterfly, and it is in this last guise that it often infiltrates a home. The alp’s hat, or tarnkappe, acts as a cloak of invisibility, though the hat itself always remains visible. Besides being able to use the nightmare spell at will (but only at night), the alp’s gaze can either cause disease or bestow a curse. In either case, a saving throw is allowed to negate the effect.

Alp: HD 5; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 horn (1d4) and 1 bite (1d3); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Nightmare, gaze attack, change shape, cap of invisibility, only harmed by silver or magic weapons.

The alphyn’s name means “chaser”. A heraldic creature, it resembles a large wolf with the forelegs of an eagle and the hind legs of a lion. It has a long tail that is invariably knotted in the middle, and a long, flicking tongue like that of a snake. The alphyn is a powerful predator of the forest and highlands. As large as a tiger, it has multiple, vicious attacks and the tracking abilities of a wolf. In combat, an alphyn that hits the same target with both foreclaws gets two additional attacks on that target with its rear claws. Alphyns often run in small packs of 2 to 5 monsters. Their baying can be heard for miles. Up close, it causes fear (saving throw to negate), but even from afar is makes ones hair stand on end. Some hold that the alphyn is the executioner of the fairy court.

Alphyn: HD 6; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d6); Move 15; Save 11; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Rear claws, immune to fear, can track creatures on a roll of 1-5 on 1d6.

The amphiptere is a small, legless wyvern. The creature is faster and more flexible than the wyvern and it is also more clever. An amphipteres is capable of folding its wings close to body and hiding in small (for a large creature) spaces and then springing out. This gives it the ability to surprise on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6. The amphiptere retains the wyvern’s stinging tail.

Amphiptere: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 bite (2d6), 1 sting (1d6); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Poison sting, flight.

The callitrix, or cericopithecus, was a monkey with a long beard and wide tail that always gave birth to twins, loving one and hating the other. While this does make it something of a jerk, it doesn’t make for an interesting encounter. If the need arises, use the gorilla’s statistics for a callitrix.

Aspidochelone (Fastitocalon, Jasconius, Pristis)
The aspidochelone, or “asp-turtle” is either a whale or sea turtle or an amalgam of the two, that has grown to such a massive size as to be, in essence, a living island. In game terms, the creature is a massive sea turtle with a craggy shell that can easily be mistaken for a small island. The shell is caked with soil from which grows trees and flow small streams. The aspidochelone is among the largest creatures in creation, its shell having a diameter of approximately 300 feet. Unfortunately, the aspidochelone is a cruel beast. It surfaces and allows desperate sailors to land on its back. After they have tied their ships down and made camp, it suddenly submerges again, plunging them into the ocean and then gobbling them up as they flail about helplessly. A victim of the creature’s bite attack must pass a saving throw or be swallowed whole. Creatures inside the aspidochelon’s stomach suffer 1d6 points of damage each round from the stomach acids and poisonous vapors. From the inside, the creature has an Armor Class of 6 [13]. Escaping into the esophagus requires an open doors roll.

Aspidochelone: HD 20; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 bite (3d6); Move 3; Save 3; CL/XP 21/4700; Special: Swallow whole.


  1. Wait until tomorrow, around 10 AM Pacific Standard ...

  2. Also do you know the history behind the painting because I found interest in it

    1. The painting is called (I think) "The Alp" by Johann Heinrich Füssli. I'm afraid I don't know anything about its history.

  3. Thank you this helped I gooogled that and now I know what that painting is about


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