Mar 15, 2023

Anagramming Monster Manual - Part D (part 1 of 2)

Go on, Mr Doge


   many hp

             much attack

      so scare

                            such backstory

A rust fox belched jellies

A cute critter of the forest, that has the nasty habit of spitting up "jellyballs" (much like cat hairballs) once a week. These jellyballs are related to gelatinous cubes, only much smaller, and are spherical in shape. They roll around and mostly engulf beetles and ants.

Lately, they've been sold in hot and cold beverages, such as tea, and tastes horrible depending on if you're an adult or not.


A large, stationary mimic, with a fixed taste for higher level clerics.

When a cleric is caught (e.g. the door is slammed shut), it immediately starts draining the subject of all magic (i.e. memorized spells, magical items, etc.); one round for each magical thing. After that it will try to charm its prey, and release it, hoping it will go out and gather another tasty person of faith to this little cottage of horror.


A type of small, nocturnal, pale goblin, with excessively long fingers. Each scour is always looking for something specific, which is imprinted in their brains from birth, and will go through a party's belongings with great speed without a sound.

Although they leave a real mess behind, they seldom take anything since most scours don't know what it is they are looking for (or rather: they know what it looks like, but they don't understand what it is).

Us cubs, u c

Small, adorable puppies - that aren't really puppies, but rather a distraction so that their older kins may attack the party. When these not-really-cubs enters a space, you can't really take your eyes of them, and that's all you see.

Verity pock

A gelatinous blob, filled with swellings of different sizes and colours. The blob is non-hostile and will always retreat at the first sign of danger.

The swellings, if picked, will reveal a truth or a fact that is of relevance to the picker, uttered in a tongue understood by the same.

I zip you there

An evil sorcerer that casts spells by pointing randomly at your body, yells "I ZIP YOU THERE!" and lock that body part for a round or two (e.g. points at your left eye and yells "I ZIP YOU THERE!" - making you blind on that eye).

Gaze burl

A type of large eye mimic that camouflages itself on trees. It lives on secrets, which it gathers by peeking on passersby.

Ale fen hens

Drunken poultry from the region of the Very Wet Wetlands, called so after being flooded with magical alcohol during the war against lord Drunkard. The hens were not the only animal affected by this; many strange (drunk) creatures crawl up from the fens during the full moon.

(And they are not really hens.)

Mr "Ah I lit"

A bard that thinks he's all that, and then some. Not necessarily evil, only annoying, but will always attract followers more or less fanatical, who will defend the bard at all cost.

La Bro

See "Mr Ah I lit".

Hug on eye

A tiny, winged creature (sprite), that has a hunger for eyes. With its six arms (no legs), it tries to clasp the eye of its prey, and with the help of its wings, starts spinning around, as to unscrew the eyeball from its socket.

It's a nasty bugger!

Sad mouse

A rodent that spreads bad atmosphere (i.e. affecting morale and such). A single rodent only affects a small area around itself, but when they get together the effect multiplies fast.

A zeal bulb

Plant-based monster. The bulb - roughly the size of a fist - can be planted anywhere regular plants grow. It only takes a couple of minutes for the bulb to grow stems, which will form the rough shape of a monster (depending on the surrounding area and the nutrients available to the bulb). The plant-based monster then uproots itself and starts attacking the first non-plant-based person it sees.

Be drab

Failed rat catchers - pied pipers - that mistakenly tried to charm sad mice (see above), but fell victim to their bad atmosphere. Be drabs plays monotonous tunes on their pipes, contributing to the overall bad atmosphere. To an outsider it may look like the piper is conducting the sad mice, but it's actually the other way around.

Nosebleed Silver

Counterfeit silver coins, actually mimics that feed on other (real) coins (e.g. the metal). Only way to distinguish them is to stare at the coin for several minutes, which stresses the mimic, causing the person depicted on the coin to bleed from its nose.

Past dire

This monster has evolved beyond describable. It is too horrendous. Folk may have seen it, but if so, they are unable to talk about it.

Ye reins

These monsters - humanoid and dressed in fancy clothing - are able to cast a type of silvery chord around its victims necks, in order to steer them anywhere they want. The victim only feels a slight pull.

These monsters are spotted very easily, as they need to walk close behind their victims, while holding up both their hands, thus looking pretty stupid.


No grey

A distant relative to mantis shrimps, the size of a horse, dwells in swallow waters where they lie in wait for anything grey and dull, giving it a quick punch as they walk by with their large claws.

Despite having a nasty punch, they are actually herbivores, and the punching only seems to be for recreation. It is believed that they are the result of bored and fashionable wizard.

Mr. Anal Beech

Moving on...

A derelict grieve

Whenever someone finally moves on from hardships, troubles, or sorrows, that feeling manifests as a lost spirit. The spirit has roughly an hour to live unless it finds a fresh grave, where it can possess the newly buried body and rise at the next full moon.

Eel rum

A kind of ooze constructed from hagfish slime when magical thunderstorms wreak havoc upon the ocean. The ooze gets stuck in fishermen's net, and attack when lifted up in the boat. Their acidic touch will after a while sink the boat - and ooze with it - after which the process starts over.

Fetid pin

A large wasp that smells really bad. Getting stung by one of these transfers that bad smell for a week or so.

Anus sot aura

Moving on...

A soaks unruly

A type of jellyfish that doesn't live in water, only next to. It can assume the shape of a oversized glass jar, enough to contain a person. It lies in wait on a shore - flat and small - and when something steps on it, it quickly expands around its prey like an enormous glass jar, containing it. It then extends a hollow tentacle to the nearest body of water, and starts filling itself up, slowly soaking its prey, waiting for it to drown.

The contained water also serves as a way for the unruly soaker to digest its prey.

Daemon rust

All battles with demons - even between themselves - leave behind small specks of crimson "dust". These, if gathered in enough amounts to fill a small pouch, may summon a lesser avatar of that demon, if the "dust" is burnt during a waxing crescent moon.

The lesser avatar has the knowledge of the real demon, but none of its powers, and will answer exactly two questions before disappearing: one truthfully (to the best of its knowledge), and one not.

A auras stoup

This type of stationary monster is often found in churches or other buildings of religious worth (you won't find them in abandoned places or ruins since they need the constant flow of people). They feed off the aura of belief the worshippers radiate, especially during mass when the concentration is higher.

When enough aura has been absorbed, the water in the font (stoup) sets and turns into a translucent blob that crawls away - and starts devouring people (this blob could be considered a child of the monster).

Hopefully, the font is then refilled with water, blessed, and the whole thing starts over again.

Sly anarchic horse 

Consider it neutral evil.

Our chair as bus

Sometimes, when you're sitting a tavern and just resting your butt, the chair will slowly start moving as if it had a will on its own. If it does, it probably just is a wizard messing with you.

But if the chair storms off out the front door with you still on top of it, picking up good speed, and doesn't stop until it reaches the eastern shore - you probably had the bad luck of picking a chair infested with little buggers known as this monster. They are the size of dust, but are really good at working together, and are known to carry many times their own weight.



(There are SO many entries in the D-section of the AD&D Monster Manual, so I had to break it up into two parts - there are roughly forty entries left to write... God I hate dinosaurs)

Jan 21, 2023

My daughter's monster: a blob

This (very early) morning me and my eight year old daughter had a little drawing session, and she made up this blob monster; image and description and all. Maybe you could use it in this dungeon? Enjoy!


Shoots thorns (green lines on top).

Thorns hitting adventurers depletes health, but if the thorn hits a fellow monster the effect varies with where it lands:

  • Eyes: can see into the future
  • Head: really smart, and can figure out really smart ways of defeating adventurers
  • Muscle: becomes strong, so that one could lift 50 000 houses
  • Stomach: becomes a ghost, gain ability to fly
  • Ear: really good hearing (apprx. the distance of half a planet)
  • Foot: becomes a giant

 The blob is built in layers (starting from the innermost):

  • A golden heart (yellow)
  • Lava (red)
  • Ice poison (blue)
  • Thin membrane of liquid poison (purple)
  • Glass shards (purple)
  • Grass filled with wasp tags; may paralyse (green)
  • Membrane of silver ice

The north area of the blob (just below the green lines) is a wound that didn't heal all too well. Mostly lava.

The sharp thorns around (triangles) comes in two variations:

  • Gold: indestructible. If you hit these, they will open up and shoot New Year's rockets that will swallow swords "and so on" (she never explained this)
  • Pink: giant hogweed. If you hit these, they will open up and shoot New Year's rockets filled with "giant hogweed poison"

The creator of such a blob is immune to its effects. If the creator is killed, the blob will resurrect them.

Jan 1, 2023

Burrow of the Ratman, or My Feeble Attempt At Doing A 1E Rat-Themed Adventure (part 4 of 4)

 (Part 1, part 2, part 3)

Happy new year!

So, could this be last the part in this never ending story? Or will we yet again end with a paragraph about how it was all a lie? Let's find out!

Summary of all the facts

So what cold hard facts have we gained from these eight questions and their follow up side-questions? Well, let's compile all questions and their answers in handy table first:


1. Why the bird statue?

The statue is a magical device for necromancy; it can be used to bring back the dead, turning them into equals (e.g. not blind followers).


1.1. Why does the bird statue bring back the dead?

It can only bring those back that truly felt they should have lived differently, and that they in some way even planned for it.


1.2. Why should they have lived differently?

Because they were meant to do remarkable things, but life (and then death) got in the way. Somehow they always knew this, but couldn't put their fingers on it; a small time burglar missing out on the really big hit; a wizard thinking about that great potion she'll never brew; a paladin not getting around to ending the world.


1.3. Why couldn't they put their fingers on it?

Because a being that can talk and walk but is neither man nor animal has the power to prevent such wishes.


2. Where is the bird statue located?

Nowhere and everywhere. Every full hour, it turns in a mist for ten minutes and travels slowly in a direction closer to its draped and hooded creator, but never reaching it.


2.1. Why does it travel closer to its creator?

It's longing for bygone days, when it was first created, but also revenge, since it has been abandoned by its creator.


2.2. Why was it abandoned by its creator?

The creator saw what the bird statue could do (e.g. bring back the dead with a caveat), but didn't want to believe it, because it wasn't the effect it sought. The statue can't be destroyed, so it had to be buried, so that its creator could find peace again.


2.3. Why can't the statue be destroyed?

It is a reversed soul relic, containing half its creator's heart. Being a reversed soul relic, it can't be destroyed unless its creator is destroyed first.


3. Where are the rats?

A church has attracted them.


3.1. Why has the church attracted them?

The rats are looking for more of its own kind, but found only humans at the church.


3.2. Why are the rats looking for more of its own kind?

They are looking for help with overturning and defeating a caped and hooded being that is neither man nor animal. If they can't find more of its own kind, they will accept help from other beings, such as humans


3.3. Why do the rats want to defeat this being?

Their God - a bird statue that sometimes travels as a mist - has commanded them to kill this being, in exchange for a promise that this will set off events that will bless them for all eternity, finally bringing forth the reign of the rats.


4. Is a vampire commanding the rats?

The bird statue is, as stated in a previous question. It did it slowly, over a long period of time, convincing one rat at a time, till they finally unearthed the statue. But since the statue can't be killed easily, and only travels in mist form, and was created through shared blood (it contains half its creator's heart), I guess we can assume the statue is some sort of vampire, much like its creator.


4.1. Why is the creator of the bird statue a vampire?

The creator comes from a long line of vampires, a family history hard to trace, that reaches from the dirtiest city to the coldest coastline.


4.2. Why is the family history hard to trace?

Because all vampires in that blood line are made by three different vampiric spirits; one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future. Three bites during the same night. But the bird statue's creator is the last one to be made this way.


4.3. Why is the bird statue's creator the last one to be made that way?

Because with each new vampire to be made, the window of past, present and future vampires shifts further along the time line, and after the bird statue's creator was made, the time window shifted beyond the end of the world; the point in time from which to draw the future vampiric spirit had ceased to exist, so three bites were no longer possible.


5. Where is this place located?

Since this "series" is called "Burrow of the Ratman", I assume the place we're looking for is the burrow itself, and it is located underneath a busy stock exchange in a big city. But it's not the place of the creator, but rather the place where he/she/it/they buried the bird statue (as stated in question 2.2.), so I guess this means that the "Ratman" in the title refers to the bird statue?


5.1. Why was the bird statue buried below a stock exchange?

The stock exchange building was once the home of the vampires of this bloodline, so the bird statue's creator had access to the vaults below (e.g. not belonging to the everyday business of the stock exchange). It could mean that the creator buried the statue a long time ago - before the stock exchange was founded - or that they could somehow walk freely and undisturbed in the building.


5.2. Why are the vaults not part of the everyday business of the stock exchange?

It is an archive, where all records of the stock exchange is kept. The few people working there are called Miners. The archive is in fact partially part of the vampire's old archive, so there are multiple tomes kept there that hasn't anything to do with stock exchange, locked away and/or hidden from plain sight - or just not interesting enough to be messed with.


5.3. Why are some of the tomes not interesting enough for the Miners?

What little information they might have seen through the years is just regarded as horribly outdated. It even happens that some of the not-so-locked-away tomes have been used as fireplace fuel during really cold days.


6. Is this place old?

Nobody wants to talk about it, it seems, because whenever the issue comes up, everyone involved will change the subject to something more pleasant.


6.1. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about how old the stock exchange building is?

Because there's an old rumour going around, that anyone making such inquiries will be sent far away, to an unnamed place not meant for men. "Bob Cratchit" has become a code word for when you want to warn someone of speaking further of something, lest they suffer some ill fate.


6.2. Why has "Bob Cratchit" become a code word?

Bob Cratchit was a woodworker that lived just outside town some hundred years ago. He lured away people to his cabin in the woods and made short work of them with his axe. After his death, people started using phrases such as "Be nice, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!".


6.3. Why did Bob Cratchit lure away people?

Bob was making human sacrifices to a wooden idol he had carved himself. It had told him that when enough sacrifices were made, a miracle would happen.


7. Why hasn't this place been plundered years before?

It was believed to be haunted by strange apparatus, phantom in nature.


7.1. Why was it believed to be haunted by strange apparatus?

Robed and hooded folk - like the bird statue creator - had been seen entering and leaving the place for as long as anyone could remember, which led most to believe that a wizard did something to the place, like installing magical traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts.


7.2. Why would a wizard install traps or steam-powered mechanical beasts?

Because it is what occupies all wizards' minds: concocting potions, snaring demons, building man-machines - but not being able to dress themselves properly.


7.3. Why can't wizards dress themselves?

They are always thinking about the next step, always on the run, always out on an errand - which means they have to take some shortcuts when dealing with mundane things; like clothes.


8. Where have the previous owner(s) gone?

Nobody knows - but more importantly, nobody cares!


8.1. Why doesn't anyone care about their whereabouts?

People are busy as it is, and they don't care about their whereabouts since they don't fathom that anything could've happened to them - because, why would anything happen to them.


8.2. Why are people busy as it is?

The townsfolk have much on their minds: haunted stock exchange building, stories of Bob Cratchit (or his ghost!), rat swarms at the church, a strange mist that seems to travel every full hour... Also: the town mayor is rumoured to be a ghost, probably because he is so pale.


8.3. Why is the town mayor so pale?

Because the town mayor is indeed dead, and halfway in transit to becoming a ghost. Nobody knows this, not even himself. His death has nothing to do with the bird statue, the rats, the creator, the stock exchange, or Bob Cratchit though.


Summary of all the facts in a more prosaic way

There's a large town, nameless but it probably rhymes with "London".

The mayor of this nameless town is paler than death itself, due to being in fact dead but somehow still alive, but he doesn't know this.

Outside that nameless town lies an old, abandoned cabin, rumoured to belong to a woodworker named Bob Cratchit, who lured people away and chopped them up, as human sacrifices for his wooden idol. There's a crude and small wood sculpture to be found in the cabin; whether or not this is the idol is disputed.

"Bob Cratchit" is a local code word for bad omens, or to threaten people with ("Watch your tongue, or I'll send you to Bob Cratchit!").

In the centre of the nameless town, there's a large stock exchange building. It is very old, but no living soul wishes to discuss it. It houses a large vault, housing countless records of trading and other activities. It also contains tomes and records from older times, from the family that owned the building before it was taken over; some of these books have been used as fuel, some have been read but found dull and not relevant, and some are still hidden and/or locked away.

The few people working in the vaults of the stock exchange building are called Miners.

The stock exchange building used to belong to an old family of vampires. To become such a vampire, a person must be visited by three vampires of this bloodline - one from the past, one from the present, and one from the far future - all during the same night. Due to the world being destroyed at a fixed point in time in the future, it is not possible any more to have a visit from a future vampire, since that point in time has ceased to exist.

There's a being, not man nor animal, that is the last of that vampiric bloodline. The being created a magical device of necromantic powers, and put half its heart inside to active it. This being sometimes goes by the name of the Creator.

The bird statue can be used to bring back the dead, but only those that truly believed that they were meant to live a different life. This statue can travel in mist form, but only every full hour, and then only for ten minutes. It will always travel in the bearing of the Creator. It is a reversed soul relic so it can't be destroyed unless the Creator is first. It also goes by the name of the Ratman.

The bird statue was buried in vaults below the stock exchange building by the Creator, reason being the Creator expected some other kind of effect.

The rats in the vaults were persuaded by the bird statue - one by one - to unearth it (it couldn't travel as a mist when buried), and also to help it destroy the Creator as a revenge. The rats, having started to treating the bird statue as a god, were promised various glorious things.

The rats, after being told a bit of this Creator, realised they needed more help if they were to take down this not-man-not-animal being, so they started to round up all rats they could find. Even those of the human kind (the enemy of my enemy, and so on).

The local churches seem to attract a lot of rats, but the rats aren't hostile, even if being trapped and killed. It's almost as if they want to convey a message.

Retrospective, or How far off did we drift really?


I'm not going to recap the original contest rules (of JB's contest), because when looking at the above it is pretty easy to realise one thing: there's a lot of flavour there, and it gets me interested - but it is in no way something you can bring to a table.

And I believe scope is one issue here: it's too scattered, even if it's all interconnected somehow (the statue, the creator, the stock exchange, the rats, and so on); I guess it feels more like a fine dining restaurant, with candlesticks and long curtains and comfy chairs and fancy forks and paintings and rugs and world renowned kitchen - when what your players is really interested in is just that single olive on the floor.

(TODO: write better analogies)

It needs to be more focused, one single thing at a time.

However - however! - I feel you could extract multiple, isolated "things" (i.e. shorter adventures) from the above, that are still connected underneath it all - without the players knowing about the above (because they don't NEED to know that, it's just extra flavour, just like you don't need to know that the olive on the floor actually is there because the great great grandfather of the fine dining restaurant thought it kept bad spirits from possessing the guests - you could still enjoy that olive, but hearing the story while eating an olive could've made it a more rememberable evening).

(TODO: write better analogies that don't revolve around eating stuff off the floor)

Examples of isolated adventures one could extract from the above:

  • The old cabin
    • Classic horror adventure
      • Could be fit on a single page (one page "dungeon"); three rooms with attic
    • What happens if a player takes the idol? Destroys it?
    • Maybe Bob Cratchit had children (well we know the other Bob had, but this is "our" Bob), are they still coming to the cabin?
  • The vaults beneath the stock exchange
    • Dungeon crawl?
    • If a player takes up job as a Miner, they have unlimited access to this place
    • Treasures in terms of tomes, as left behind by the old vampires (potentially)
      • Is the information still relevant for extortion?
      • Do they point out other vaults in the town?
  • The rats in the churches
    • Again, each church is a single page (one page "dungeon")
    • "Rat problem" is a classic D&D trope, problem here is (as we know) that the rats doesn't fight back, so it depends on how observant the players are
      • I mean, they could just take a job to clear one church, do the job, get paid and move on - but next week, the rats will be back

And random encounters would/could include:

  • The (dead) mayor
    • Who started that rumour? And why did it turn out to be true?
  • The Creator
    • Is he/she/it/they still in town? What is it doing there?
    • Does it know about the unearthed bird statue?
  • Bob Cratchit
    • Maybe! Or maybe an imposter?


I think you need to end this now

Yes I know, sorry, but it was a very fun "series" to work on, I didn't expect it to really go on for this long.

Did we succeed in writing a rat-themed adventure? No.

Did we succeed in writing an adventure at all? No.

Did we at least write something that mentions rats? Yes!

In that case, I'm happy!

Thanks for reading!

(TODO: end post with slightly less creepy picture)