Friday, July 20, 2018

Monster Family- The Slaugh (Dark Elves)

From left to right: Slaugh, Spindlelimb, Boggart Box, Lumpus. White outline is human for scale.
Slaugh (1-2 HD, +2 to hit, +4 AC, 1d6+1 cruel weapons, magic armor & magic resistance, 1 in 6 chance to know a random 1st or 2nd Circle Spell- can cast once in combat)
Morale- 14
Numbers- 1d4+1 Scouts, 2d6 Tunnel Guards, 4d10 Detachment

The Slaugh are the twisted, dark spawn of Elves and the Red God, banished deep below the Earth. While physically small and weak, the Slaugh are ageless and live for centuries- and they spend much of that time perfecting the art of death and torture. Despite their weakness, they are very skilled and highly trained warriors, well drilled, and with high morale and loyalty to their companions. The Slaugh are totally blind, but make up for this with an almost 6th sense for living things and their other senses honed to perfection in the years lurking in the darkness.

As with normal Elves, Slaugh have the power to craft magic items and are skilled at artifice. They wield black iron daggers and hooks forged from metal mined in pits where no light is allowed to enter and combine them with their dark magic. The average Slaugh is armed with magic weapons, and can strike anything a normal weapon could not. Their lightweight black armor is made in the same way and has some immunities that normal armor does not, including resistance to magic. As long as their armor and masks remain intact; all Slaugh treat their HD as +2 for the purposes of resisting magic and spell saves. If you use Cleave rules for Fighters, the Slaugh are too ornery for that too, and you cannot gain the additional attacks vs 1 HD targets against Slaugh as you could against other 1 HD monsters. Their equipment is not magic in the hands of anyone but a Slaugh or Elf.

Slaugh organize themselves into clans and wear masks. Their masks have no paints or distinguishing features, beyond the unique textures, bumps, and ripples each mask have; they tell each other apart by touch. The Slaugh wear these masks as a parody of the faces of sighted beings. The smooth black metal they use is easily shaped by their hands like clay, and that is how they craft their visage. The size and shape of the mask is based on their clan, where as the texture is unique the individual. Slaugh extend their hands at different heights to invite the other to press the mask against it; outstretched for equals, lower to the ground for superiors to their inferiors. This forces the lesser Slaugh to kneel in order for his mask to be felt, and his or her place to be known.

Splindlelimb Slaugh (2-3 HD, +3 to hit, +4 AC, 1d6+1 cruel weapons, 1d8+1 cruel javelins, magic armor & magic resistance, pickpocket, climbs up walls and ceilings)
Morale- 14
Numbers- 1d6 Stalkers, +1d4 accompanying a Slaugh group

The Spindlelimb or Spindleslaugh are a Slaugh that have long, extended hands, fingers, and legs. Uncommon, but sometimes found with groups of Slaugh as fire support. Throws black metal javelins, as wood to create bows is almost unheard of in the underrealm, also fights up close with knives. Can move almost silently and their long limbs make them experts at stealing; target supply items like rations from a pack to starve you out, or better yet steal your map to keep you lost in their realm. Tiny expert knife punctures to leak out your oil or water flask is another common tactic if they don't think they can slit your throat successfully. Expert grapplers and know many holds and throws that work even on larger opponents like humans.

Spindlelimb Slaugh are only chosen from the physically largest and most imposing of the Slaugh. Beyond receiving extra food and training, they are also tortured every day by being put on the rack and have their arms, legs, spine, and fingers extended. This is a willing process, and brings great honor to the Slaugh's clan to become a Spindlelimb. Despite not being much heavier or larger then your average Slaugh, they have the general profile and reach of a human man. This leverage and special status means they are used as either specialized troops; throwing javelins or as assassins that climb and stalk the underrealm and kill its trespassers.

Due to the difficulty of climbing and squeezing through tight caverns that they frequent, Spindlelimb Slaugh are not given masks, and are not allowed to participate in communal raising of children in clans. Any genetic traits of the Spinelimbs to be larger then other Slaugh just increases the risk of death in childbirth by female Slaugh. This makes them outcasts of their own kind; their stalking and murdering of trespassers often done in small groups of their own kind or they join warbands in progress once they leave their clan's chambers. This does not mean Spindleslaugh are treated poorly or thought of as lessers, they are simply bared from the familiar aspects of their race and as such are even more cruel and driven against their adversaries.

Fetal Mandragora (1 HD, scream if light falls on them, cursed scream deals 1d4 stat damage to a random stat vs nearest party member per round)
Morale- N/A
Numbers- 1d4 Tunnel Alarms, occasionally carried by Slaugh magicians or warbands

This horrible thing is the remnants of 1d4 stillborn Slaugh infants; tied to a metal post and frame built in the shape of its clan and animated with dark magic. They are used as alarms for areas nearby where Slaugh are posted, as their screams can be heard from quite a distance. It can be hacked apart quite easily, but if your system uses sanity mechanics it reduces your sanity/conviction by -1 on kill.

Slaugh raise their children as a clan. Due to the constant darkness and difficulty to attribute identify to a non-masked individual, as well as common death in childbirth and child rearing; young Slaugh can be raised by and taught by multiple 'mother' Slaugh, and may never know the true identify of their biological mother and father. Instead, they are raised with the group and taught loyalty and arts of war and magic by all members of the clan. Status is earned by merit and age instead of bloodline. The remains of stillborn Slaugh are still given one last place among their people; as the fetal mandragora.

Sometimes, the Mandragora are carried by Slaugh magicians into combat and used as a form of staff to focus dark magic. When carried like this increases damage and saving throw difficulty of spells by +2 until the mandragora is killed or disarmed. It can also be used as a battle standard. As long as it is being carried into a battle by any Slaugh it grants them +1 morale.

Boggart Box (1 HD, +3 AC, mindless construct that stands still once opened)
Morale- N/A
Numbers- 1 to 2 with Slaugh detachment, 1d4 in Slaugh Clan Grounds

This is a simple animated construct that releases a Greater Boggart. As with pure elves, Slaugh have innate magic when it comes to craftsmenship and this spider-like contraption is created through that magic. If the Boggart Box is destroyed, any Boggarts who flee the combat or are turned via magic will flee into the dark crevices of the caverns and go deeper into the Earth instead of returning to the box.

If a Boggart is forced to flee, as it itself is a cowardly creature, it will always return to its box first unless cut off or the box is destroyed. Once returned to the box, the boggart will regain its courage in a number of rounds equal to its HD. If the Slaugh group are being lead by a powerful Slaugh sorcerer or someone wielding a Fetal Mandragora, it takes one less turn to return.

Despite being a mindless construct with a very specific purpose; the spider-like movements of the box are incredibly fluid and it can take great evasive action as long as it holds a boggart, being able to jump over small chasms and avoid weapon attacks. It can only do this as long as it holds a boggart, as the moment it is released to fight the box simply stands still, losing its dark motion until reunited.

Greater Boggart (2-4 HD, +0-2 HD for party condition, save modified by Wisdom on appearance, nightmare powers based on feared creature, add HD to damage against shaken opponent, possess and hold characters of lower level then Boggart HD)
Morale- 8; returns to box on flee, else flees permanently into caverns
Numbers- As Boggart Box

The Boggart is a fearsome and infamous creature. It's “true” form is little more then a dark mist, but the Boggart is a shapeshifter and it transforms into the creature the person facing it fears most. Normal, “lesser” Boggarts exist on the surface world in haunted houses and scary old antiques as a form of harmless house spirit, using its fear abilities to scare people when its hiding place is uncovered and giving it enough time to flee to safety- only appearing as one creature for but a moment. Greater Boggarts are much more powerful and appear as a swirling mass of many creatures, dominated by the form of the closest engaging opponent but with common phobias appearing in the fog.

Boggarts become more powerful depending on the fear and stress of the party. On the first round of combat when they appear, the engaging player must make a save modified by Wisdom modifier or feel shaken. If this is appplied to a hireling, they lose 1 loyalty permanently and must also make a morale check to avoid fleeing. Whatever creature the engaging character fears most the Boggart becomes and gains the attacks, AC, and basic abilities of. These abilities are “lesser” then the creatures true abilities or are partially illusion based. For example, a Gorgon could not truly petrify someone, but it could make them stiff and drop their Dex mod to -2 temporarily and think their skin has a stone-like texture. These types of over time effects last until the Boggart switches to a new form.

The Boggart, when injured or threatened by a character with level under its HD, will invade and 'possess' this character. They invade them through the nose or mouth, and trap them in their mind within a nightmare, and they fall to the floor. The nightmare they are trapped within deals the monster's HD in damage per round the trapped character fails a hard save modified by Wisdom, and forces them to live out their worst fears and horrible, soul crushing fantasies. While under this effect, the Boggart cannot be hurt by physical attacks without harming the person they are possessing, as they are within their body. By succeeding three hard saves in a row or receiving help from the outside they can break the Boggart's control and expel it from their body. The Boggart will retreat once forced out.

Slaugh Immortal (3-5 HD, +2 to hit, +2 AC, 1d4+1 cruel staff or Fetal Mandragora, magic armor & magic resistance, command darkness, +2 leadership, cast spells, “returns” from death)
Morale- 14, 16 when on clan grounds
Numbers- Always 1, may lead Detachment

The rulers of the Slaugh clans are the immortals. Immortals, like all Slaugh, are truly long lived and have large and ornate clan-masks. Much of their time has been dedicated to mastering dark magic instead of combat skills, but the continue the Slaugh martial traditional and wear magic armor. These Slaugh are so named immortal as they are said to return from death; as the mask they wear holds a portion of each of their line, and the next to wear it will receive some of their knowledge.

Slaugh Immortals are so closely entwined with the powers of the underrealm that they can command darkness. Around them, they can cast an inky black shell that grants +2 AC from ranged weapons and spells that require an attack roll. They can also hound a formidable, hazy darkness that can cause terror and confusion in the weak willed; making an easy save to avoid being confused for a round and making a morale check. They can also use darkness to choke out a source of light the party is using, such as supernatural light from a Sage or spell, or from torches and lanterns. Using these abilities takes up their combat round, unless if they wield a still animate Fetal Mandragora, in which case they can use them in addition to attacking or using a spell.

Slaugh Immortals are very powerful dark sorcerers. Regardless of their HD or spell progression for monsters, they are capable of casting a single 3rd Circle spell. They can also add their +2 HD bonus, while wearing their arcane version of the black armor, to magic for the purpose of determine opposing saves or counter spell viability. If you're using the one-spell-per-level method of spell slots and spell circle system; treat their HD is +2 from this bonus for their total spell slots. All Slaugh spells are focused on offensive and cursing capabilities; they do not learn defensive or healing magic. Additionally; the Immortal is a leader and adds +2 morale to all creatures it is commanding. When the Immortal is killed, this bonus is lost and creatures make a morale check.

Lumpus (6-8 HD, +1 to hit, two 1d8 flabby claw attacks, extra 1d6 “darkness” attacks AND bonus AC equal to HD-X, where as X is the number of torches party is carrying/light level)
Morale- 11
Numbers- 1 or 2

The Lumpus is a very strong creature of darkness. It is said to be closely related to the Grue, but isn't as powerful and is less negatively impacted by light. Like many creatures of the utterdarkness beneath the world, the Lumpus appears unearthly and treats surface dwelling beings with extreme prejudice, as if merely being here is violating some sort of natural law. Unlike most creatures and beings the Slaugh command; the Lumpus has eyes. Very large, bright eyes that it uses to see even in darkness. It is also strangely attached to color, and will sometimes just stare at the hair or colorful outfit of a corpse, long after it had finished tearing them to shreds.

The Lumpus gains bonus attacks and AC equal to the monster's HD-X, where as X is the number of torches or different torch-level sources of light the party has. The “darkness” attacks deal 1d6 damage, and just appear as gnawing black marks or scratches along the skin. These attacks happen against those the Lumpus is closest too, so even if the claws are blocked, the sheer malevolent darkness will hurt or kill you instead. If a Lumpus is exposed to direct sunlight, or a spell that mimics sunlight, they will fall to the ground and be stunned for 1d6 rounds.

Slaugh society has the highest and most successful clans being the most powerful, and having the best access to creatures. The Lumpus is one of the most highly prized monsters of the underdark, due to its strength and connection to elemental darkness. The Lumpus seem willing to serve the clans and patriarchs; but they are more intelligent then they seem. If one could find a way to communicate with a Lumpus, you could potentially turn them against the Slaugh or find an ally in the pitch black.

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