Sunday, July 11, 2010

Medieval Bestiary - Part Six

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.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

This post is declared Open Game Content.

Pegasus, Ethiopian
Medieval bestiaries told of a breed of pegasus from Ethiopia that had two horns. These creatures can be treated as normal pegasi with the addition of a gore attack that deals 1d6 points of damage.

The revenant is an animated corpse that has returned from the grave to terrorize the living. The name comes from the French and means “returning”. Revenants are always wicked in life. Creatures struck by a revenant in combat must make a saving throw or be infected with a disease that resembles mummy rot. Revenants regenerate damage in the manner of a troll at the rate of 1 hit point per round. A revenant can only be destroyed completely by cutting off the head, removing the heart, and burning them and the body separately.

Revenant: HD 4; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 slam (1d6); Move 9; Save 13; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Regeneration, disease.

The writers of medieval bestiaries imagined many interesting serpents, many that were probably based on fourth-hand accounts of real animals. The hydros was a viper whose poison caused a person to swell up. In game terms, his poison causes the person to have their movement and dexterity scores cut in half. The hydros’ poison could only be cured with the application of ox dung. There’s a fun quest! The hydrus, on the other hand, was a water serpent of the Nile River. It would swim into the mouth of a crocodile and then down its throat. Once in the stomached, it would eat the poor beast from the inside out. In game terms, it is probably immune, or at least resistant, to acid. The hypnalis was an asp that killed its victims in their sleep. In game terms, perhaps it can cast a sleep spell one or several time per day. The scytale was a snake with such brilliant markings that those gazing on the creature are hypnotized and lulled into inaction. The scytale’s body is so hot that those touching it or touched by it suffer 1d4 points of burning damage. The seps, on the other hand, has venom so acidic that it liquefied its prey; assume normal viper poison plus an additional 2d6 points of acid damage.

Waldgeist (Woodwose)
The German “woodland spirit” is the custodian of the forest. It dwells in woodlands and protects it as well as lawful creatures within the woodland. Waldgeists resemble gnarled old dwarfs with skin like the bark of a tree and hair like a tangle of leaves and twigs. They dwell in the branches of trees and, though mischievous, are not by any means evil. Waldgeists can use the spells bless and bestow curse. They blend in with the foliage, and thus surprise foes on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6. Despite their small size, they are exceptionally strong and dangerous to provoke.

Waldgeist: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 slam (2d4); Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Bless, curse, surprise.

White Ladies (Wise Ladies)
The white ladies of the woods are elven amazons of the ancient and powerful blood. They are tall and beautiful, with white skin and hair like gleaming platinum. They dress in white cloaks and gleaming armor and wield spears tipped with silver and bows with silver-tipped arrows. White women are capable of casting spells as 3rd level clerics, druids or magic-users. They are capable of using the spell Light at will and always radiate an aura of Protection from Evil in a 10 ft radius. They usually appear in bands of 5 to 10 individuals and might be encountered in the company of unicorns. White women have the same immunities as normal elves. They are skilled in herb craft and healing, and under their care a person’s natural healing rate is doubled and he enjoys a +2 bonus to save vs. poison or disease.

White Woman: HD 3; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 spear (1d8) or 2 arrows (1d6); Move 15; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Spells, immunities.

White Worm
The white worm, or Indus worm, was a giant, pale worm that dwelled in the Indus River. It was carnivorous and capable of swallowing a man whole when it scores a natural ‘20’ on a bite attack.

White Worm: HD 7; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 bite (2d6); Move 9 (Swim 12); Save 9; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Swallow whole.

Wild Man
Wild men are hairy humanoids that dwell in deep woodlands. They are called wilder mann by the Germans and homme sauvage by the French and wodewose by the English. They are associated with gods and goddesses of the wild such as Silvanus and Fauna and with the death god Orcus. In fact, they are known as orkes or lorkes in some parts of Italy.

Wild men run in bands of 20 to 30 individuals. Their entire bodies are covered in a tangled coat of brown hair and the men wear long, unkempt beards. They behave as though mad and fight as savagely as berserkers, gaining a +2 bonus to hit and damage. Despite their savage appearance, wild men are strict vegetarians, eating nuts, berries, roots and leaves.

Wild Man: HD 1+1; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon or fists (1d4); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Berserk.

The erlking, or “alder king”, was a pale, gaunt humanoid who rode a black horse and preyed on women. In game terms, it can be treated as a wraith. In truth, the name “erlking” was a mistranslation from the Danish for “elf-king”.

Yale (Centicore, Eale)
The yale is a black, horse-sized goat with the feet of an elephant and the tusks of a boar. It has large horns that it can swivel in any direction, thus allowing it two attack two different targets each round. Yales are immune to paralyzation and poison, thus making them a natural enemy of the catoblepas and basilisk.

Yale: HD 5; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 gores (1d6); Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Immunities.


  1. Cool. I've got White Women in the world of the City, from the same folklore sources as the White Ladies.

  2. Once you get these finished you might consider compiling them all (along with the more common ones like pixies and such you left out ) and making a product out of it.

    Throw in some period art (there is a lot of free stuff) and you are onto a unique product with some crossover potential (as an Ars Magica reference)

  3. These will see print in NOD #4. I might do a monster compilation at some point as well.


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