Friday, August 26, 2022

[Gygax 75] Into the Mines

I'm doing a worldbuilding challenge. The story so far:

Gygax 75
Week 1 - The Setting
Week 2 - Carving out the Valley
Week 3 - draw your dungeon! in one week! Gary recommends starting with some overview planning to pick themes, monsters, and architectural oddities for each dungeon level, and then setting out to draw and key the first few levels.

DIY&Dragons argues the challenge is best stretched over 8 weeks, with weeks 3-6 devoted to fleshing out and keying the dungeon. I'm inclined to agree.

I started like this: The most important dungeon, i.e. the one most relevant to the story of Irontown, would most likely be a source of iron… a mine… which they got kicked out of by the forest folk… for unearthing… something…?

We're off to the races.

Entrance: Hungry mineshaft, hastily concealed, black drag marks.
Levels: Abandoned Mine, Toxic Caverns, Ancient Dig Site
Inhabitants: Ghost, haunting; Kobolds, digging; Philosopher's slime, seeping; Giant cave carp, lurking; Centipedes, hunting; Crab magician, cowering; Blood sorcerers, delving; Orefish, flickering; Rats, dancing; Language demon, scheming; _____.
Key Features: a crude iron circle, to ward faeries away; pit full of toxic, flammable gas; the half-assembled skeleton of a dragon; the stone tablets thru which she speaks; a magnetic iron spire, surrounded by anti-magic field
Treasures: Dropped faerie trinket; Arms of a dragon hunter; _____

Above is my crude attempt at following Ray Otus' method. I don't think his systematic approach fits 100% with the way I work, but it's been a really helpful set of guardrails for me thus far.

History: Miners from Irontown looking for iron deposits found the Scar. Excavating it and hauling it out 1) broke their treaty with the forest folk and 2) revealed a network of gas-filled tunnels. Mine collapse. Pitched battle. The Scar is lost.
Prehistory: The Loathsome Chernobog, Stormbringer, Lakedrinker, Devourer of Kings and Sheep, lies dying on a muddy shore. Her attempts at healing magics are unmitigably scrambled by the cross spear in her brain. She has hours, at most. Through a violent headache she sees snippets of the future, of her body scattered and preserved deep beneath the earth, of lowborn apes gawking at her bones. Maybe it's the 20 kilos of steel in her frontal lobe talking, but these apes seem like her best chance at survival. With a trembling claw, Chernobog scrawls a note to the future in the river mud, and the vision begins to change.

The kobolds and dragon skeleton are a bald-faced remix of this MapCrow video and this GoblinPunch post (<-- required reading, it's one of my favorites). The kobolds are gathering the bones of the dragon, but they need you to help them decipher her instructions. They also breathe blackdamp (toxic), firedamp (explosive), and stinkdamp (both). This makes fighting kobolds a time trial wherever they're encountered: do it quickly, or the room fills with deadly gas!

Mines are dangerous places! They can be too hot, too wet, too small, or too big. They can collapse. They can be full of toxic gas. They can explode. This dungeon should do all of that.

One corner will be flooded caverns full of acid mining runoff, trailing towards bona fide underground lakes. Another will be scorched hunting grounds of a mated pair of phoenix centipedes (fire-themed monsters can ignite the gas in lower chambers).

I have a precursory map with 3 axes written on it: up-down, hot-cold, wet-dry. I'll use these to flesh out the caverns and hopefully provide some sensory directions for any given fork in the road if I need to run this Theater of the Mind.

My first draft heavily featured a terracotta warrior silo on Level 3, but it never felt quite right. The new layout is a bit subtler, with the transition from caverns to ruins hopefully feeling less jarring. There's still going to be an exit at the bottom that leads to the youngest of the buried cities (that's what the blood sorcerers are here for), but I want the surface layer of dungeons to stand on their own before starting on any megadungeon-y ruins.

My eyes are crossing a bit as I write this, so I'll check myself with Arnold's Dungeon Checklist:

  1. Something to Steal - Valuable geodes. A carbuncle? And something more guarded than the cross spear or faerie trinket... oh, oh, oh! Centipede eggs! Everyone loves eggs-as-treasure, right?
  2. Something to Kill - Kobolds and centipedes. Blood sorcerers, like a rival adventuring party with cooler magic.
  3. Something to Kill You - The Philosopher's Slime will be the dangerous-yet-dumb thing on Level 1. The gas caverns are a decent trap. I'm still wracking my brain for something REALLY dangerous on Level 3.
  4. Different Paths - Hot, cold, wet, dry. You can swim thru the flooded caverns, or sneak thru the centipede grounds. Then there's the standard path thru the fungus farms, and then a claustrophobic crawl-shaft. Boom, 4 paths. I'll probably want some more surface entrances too.
  5. Someone to Talk To - The hermit crab illusionist will be a sympathetic-yet-greedy merchant, maybe worth rescuing. The language demon is a Beelzebub type; say their name and they'll be able to hitch a ride on your tongue. And of course there's Chernobog, and the kobold/sorcerer factions. Some helpful rats. Somehow it doesn't feel crowded enough, but I'll leave it - surely a little gonzo will sneak in at the end.
  6. Something to Experiment With - The gas is obviously gameable. The rest of the dungeon teaches the properties of iron-as-antimagic: the iron circle can be weaponized against the faeries, and the Scar can be used to pitch battles against the blood sorcerers. Let's add something weirder though... a brazier with different magical properties based on what kind of light you fill it with? And then there's a room with glowworms nearby... I'll circle back.
  7. Something the Players Probably Won't Find - I need to flesh this one out. Some of Chernobog's bones, and a couple not-too-magic items referring to the B I G L O R E. Here's where we start dripfeeding the players Soulsborne shit.

Last thing I'm missing is a name. Something sinister but not too edgy. Blackroot Mine? Knockwood Mine? I'll work on it.

As for the monster on Level 3, I'm thinking one of these: 

See you next week.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

And Then We Feast

dungeon meshi via inktho (pixiv)

My submission to Char2terie (RIP) was a full hack based on Lexi's SAWN-OFF. With seven months' hindsight, the only pieces of the submission I still like are Spell Scaling and Feasting. Here's the latter:


Whenever you rest, you have the opportunity to throw a Feast. For each item slot of food or drink spent on the Feast, add its Hit Die to a pool in the middle of the table (“the spread”). Add another d6 for each of the following: pleasant music, new friends, an appropriate toast. Then, roll the spread and split the sum between all PCs as Health.

Before digging in, roll for omens and encounters. If a stranger (or monster) stumbles upon the feast, you must invite them to join peaceably or forfeit the spread. (They’ll most likely accept.)

If the edibility of the food is suspect and you lack the skill to prepare it, Save vs food poisoning.

If the food is magical (i.e. cockatrice omelet), add an appropriate spell (DM’s choice, +1 MD to cast) to your inventory for the day. The spell is in your stomach.

If the Feast is a hit, you can name the recipe. Record the ingredients and spread value. You can’t roll below the spread value of a recipe you’re following. (Ex. Graveyard Gourd [1d6] + Giant Crab Claw [1d8] + Dragon Milk [1d12] = Pump-King Claw Soup, Spread = 10)

1d20 Peasant Food [1d6]

  1. Graveyard Gourd

  2. Mixed Wild Berries

  3. Dubious Mushrooms

  4. Wildflower Bouquet

  5. Bag of Flour

  6. Sacrificial Goat

  7. Butter Cube

  8. Brandy Barrel

  9. Spaghetti Quiver

  10. Rock Salt Lick

  11. Tortilla Ream

  12. Scarecrow Corn

  13. Eggs, Goose

  14. Throwing Tomatoes

  15. Wheel of Cheese

  16. Seaweed Wreath

  17. Sprig of Herbs

  18. Potato Knot

  19. Two-Headed Cabbage

  20. Milk, Rat

1d20 Regional Delicacies [1d8]

  1. Honeycomb

  2. Buoy Watermelon

  3. Locust-on-Stick

  4. Giant Crab Claw

  5. Tiger Flank

  6. Greatswordfish

  7. Desert Peppers

  8. Royal Wine

  9. Pinch of Omnispice

  10. Electric Eel

  11. Milk, Bear

  12. Rat King Kebab

  13. Berserker Mead

  14. Eggs, Newt

  15. Eggs, Spider

  16. Foreign Fruit

  17. Ancient Pickles

  18. Charcuterie

  19. Frying Oil

  20. Scorpion Tail


1d20 Exotic Eats/Quest Food [1d12]

  1. Unicornucopia

  2. Gargoyle Steak

  3. Psychic Tentacle

  4. Pickled Enigma

  5. Chimeric Loin

  6. Abyssal Roe

  7. Eggs, Angel

  8. Flame Sac

  9. Fresh Winter Strawberries

  10. Cockatrice Legs

  11. Buffalo Wings

  12. Antimeat

  13. Golden Apples

  14. Silvered Pears

  15. Mandrake Leaves

  16. Root of all Evil

  17. Extinction Boullion

  18. Milk, Dragon

  19. Whale Bone Marrow

  20. Helvetica Oats


ah, dungeon food

Bonus GLOG classes:

Berserker-Knight. Start with a locked suit of armor, a wax seal stamp, and a book of prayers.
A. You always have 6 Defense, no more, no less. While At Death’s Door, you cannot tell friend from foe.
B. You can wield over-sized weapons. If you do, you act after enemies but deal d12 damage.
C. You’re married to your weapon. You have advantage on all tests involving it. If you lose it, Save vs. heartbreak.
D. Your house extends a pardon, on the condition you defeat an invincible foe.

Orpheme. Start with an instrument, a pair of drachma, and a map to Hell.
A. Someone you love is dead and in Hell. You are invisible to psychopomps.
B. If you cry on someone’s shoulder, they must Save or find you very attractive.
C. Anything that is or was dead is moved to tears by your singing.
D. Your tears can raise the dead, at a cost.

Milksop. Start with a nice shirt, a silver flask, and a telescope.
A: You and your allies Dodge with advantage while running screaming from the enemy.
B: When you push someone into danger, they take half damage from it for a turn.
C: When you play dead, you are indistinguishable from a corpse.
D: You receive the deed to your ancestral manor in grandmother’s will. It’s definitely haunted.

Friday, August 19, 2022

[Gygax 75] Carving out the Valley

Here's what I'm doing. Here's what I did last week. And now:

Week 2 - draw a region map of the wilderness adventuring sites that will surround the dungeon that will form the heart of your campaign.

To ease the decision paralysis, I started with Just Three Hexes. Three became seven, then I expanded them seven-fold. The final result is still probably a little too small, particularly as you get deeper into the forest/higher into the mountains, but I'd rather keep it idea-dense to start with.

An early hexmap key:
00.06 - Some kind of mountain-top observatory
02.01 - The Great Tree, mother deity to the faeries, the estranged offshoot of a much older arboreal intelligence, sort of like a vulcan in charge of toddlers. She makes the faeries out of childrens' souls, which are plentiful in the valley since the tombs at 05.03 opened.
02.04 - Mushroom village: they cut spirits from the river corpses and mulch the bodies. Their wizards know gravity magic; obsessed with ruins at 01.04
02.07 - Hot springs, visited by the monkeys from 03.06
03.06 - Monkeytown oo oo banana
04.03 - Village where the rivers disagree, men dredge corpses out of the swamp and send them downriver in either direction. They're employed by the crabs at 08.04 and wear ghosts on their backs like sea anemones
04.08 - Irradiated lair of the skink. Hunts the monkeys at 03.06
05.00 - Petrified forest in the old riverbed, full of ghost-coral. Something sinister/mournful, related to 06.06 (?)
05.03 - A pile of ancient burial mounds, open tombs, and graves, gradually being carved open by the force of the river
06.06 - Abandoned mining operation, faeries can't cross the circle of iron, fossil-worshipping kobolds
06.07 - The Scar, a massive hunk of iron in the shape of a lightning bolt. They were dragging it back to the forge when the dogs stopped them.
07.02 - Huge cliffside waterfall, home to enormous spectral man-o-war
08.04 - Crab merchant, picking trinkets off of corpses that wash down the river
08.07 - Irontown: the forge is quiet (a giant centipede resides within), and food is running out.
09.02 - Moonrise Keep, tortured refuge of the Half-wolf. A man raised by faeries, cursed by his adopted mother after a terrible argument
10.07 - Hidden camp of spies for the White Tiger, keeping an eye on the valley
11.03 - Ancient battlefield full of ghosts

 Random Encounter Table
Radioactive Skink (Dragon) - Stalking; Devouring; Sunning itself
Wolf-Bearing Moose - Heavy with a cornucopia of hungry wolf heads
Wandering Megalith
Bloom of Ghosts - Drifting, Howling, Lurking
6d6 Deer - Grazing; Migrating; Fleeing something else (-1d4 to encounter roll)
1d6 Recurring Characters - White Tiger Scouts; Blood Sorcerers; Monkeys
1d4 Faeries + 2d6 Wild Dogs - Patrolling; Hunting; Grooming
1d4-1 Stumbling Irondead - Shambling towards the nearest (unexplored) dungeon
Ghost of an Old Hero - Blocks the path: appease or avoid
Lead-Lined Knight - From outside the valley, on a quest (?)
A Terrible Wizard - Faerie Lord, or Faerie-Eating Lord

The faction structure is pretty explicitly stolen from Mononokehime: the humans need iron, the forestfolk need land. The forestfolk are a big, dysfunctional family of fungusmen, monkeys, erudite wild dogs, crabs, ghost farmers, and faeries. Meanwhile, Irontown resists the influence of the White Tiger, who in turn is preparing to resist the Sorcerer Kings. (I'll try to layer in more external human conflicts in Week 5.)

A lot of stuff in the valley is Japanese folklore with the serial numbers filed off. I'm also choosing to avoid culturally coded words like samurai and tanuki.

Quick breakdown of how the map ended up the way it did:

Thursday, August 11, 2022

[Gygax 75] The Setting

like this, maybe

I'm going to write a campaign setting. I'm going to use the Gygax 75 to do it, except not really, because I'm cheating, because I've been poring over most of these ideas for the better part of a year.

Quick preamble: I ran a campaign in high school that went on permanent hiatus right at the climax of a major setting event. It wasn't the most original setting, but because of the way it half-ended it got stuck in my head, kind of like an earworm. Problem is I keep starting and stopping projects associated with this setting, and every time I burn out and circle back to the same ideas. It sucks.

When George R. R. Martin was writing for Elden Ring, it apparently went something ike this: First, he wrote the beginnings of an epic fantasy world, with myths and heroes and intrigue. Then, FromSoft took that world and put it thru the apocalypse.

So here's my pitch to myself: do the Elden Ring thing. Take the old campaign, turn it into lore, and then ruin everything to make room for new stuff.

Gygax 75

DIY & Dragons (at whose altar I pray and make semi-regular offerings of cheese and wine) has compiled a definitive guide to the challenge. Hopefully, the weekly structure will help motivate me thru this project, and I won't burn out like the last few times.
Week 1 is about themes and gathering inspiration. I also want to identify my design goals/core concepts for the setting. I already talked about one:

Idea #1: The setting is about unearthing the ruins of an old campaign setting.

So what else do have I to show for this week?
Well, I have a vague idea of what I want to run:

  • I want to run a megadungeon.
  • I want to run a boss rush.
  • I want to run a domain-level, base-building, keep-defending game.
  • I want to run a hex-crawl.
  • I want to run one-shots for groups that prefer dungeon crawling OR social interaction.


Idea #2: The setting should support multiple modes of play.

I also want to capture a specific tone. The picture in my head looked kind of like this:

a seaside village, barely a dozen fisherpeople making a living; below them, the sprawling remains of an ancient civilization, full of half-remembered monsters; opening up the crypts will change this little village forever.
So the focus is on the little people first, then on the HUGE BIGGER THAN BIG SO HUGE YOU FEEL TINY BEFORE THE INFINITE EXPANSE OF HISTORY, and then back on the little people.
Idea #3: The setting should be built around a village.

Oh, and one more thing that's core:

Idea #4: Iron is anti-magic.
A lot of ideas crystallized around this premise:

  • All sorts of world powers rely on magic for infrastructure or warfare. Anyone who smelts iron would be immediately at odds with those factions.
  • Faeries/elfs fucking hate iron, so they're also a rival faction.
  • All those ancient ruins are probably full of iron; I doubt they would have conquered the world without it. The weight of it all must have dragged them into the earth.
  • From Coins&Scrolls' Iron Gates: Iron seeks iron, which calls to the iron in your blood. On some level, iron has a will of its own.
    • Not just one civilization: the ruins are made up of ruins from many civilizations over time, drawn together magnetically by the iron in their coffers.
      • Disparate ruins themed around ancient pseudo-magical metals: gold, silver, bronze, lead, etc.
  • Iron is diluted in blood, thus iron can only be manipulated thru blood magic. Blood mages in blood forges as a major faction: capable of some anti-magic, as well as making weapons out of blood, blood blood blood blood
  • The NPC village comes to rely on iron for their way of life, since it's valuable and native to an otherwise resource-poor region. They need to be careful not to piss off the faeries OR get rolled by neighboring warlords.
  • The NPC village is obviously Iron Town.

Anyway, that's enough type-y type-y. Here's the challenge stuff:

Get a Notebook:
Acquired from our local anarchist bookstore. I'm crazy about this bird guy.

Pitch Statements:

  • The world is magical. Animals speak, when they want to. Tall stones get up and walk away. In every village, a minor miracle-worker mediates between our world and the Seelie courts of River and Hill. Faeries are synonymous with birds.
  • The past is buried. "…and the earth swallowed their golden cities whole, and when one thousand men excavated the ground where Cath Celdaenn once stood they found naught but worms." And the Ruins of Man were lost to the world forevermore.
  • Magic is power. There is no authority without sorcery, no lord without their court magician. Knights are a dying breed, outmoded by militaristic magocrats. The sorcerer-kings of the East and North divvy the lands between, the shadow of empire looming over all peoples therein.
  • Iron is anti-magic. Faeries abhor it. It is outlawed in lands where mages hold sway. It is dangerous, rare, and expensive, and thus coveted by the White Tiger of the West. War is made with arms of bronze, blacktin, and ogretite, at least for now.


  • Elden Ring (+ FromSoft lore in general). Worlds with layered histories. VaatiVidya and Iron Gates will be my co-pilots.
  • Princess Mononoke. Its factions, its themes, its aesthetics, its powderkeg setting, LADY EBOSHI!!!!!!!
  • Hollow Knight. The structure and map, and the town of Dirtmouth.
  • The Leviathan series, to flesh out the domain level magocrat-technocrat conflict.
  • Made in Abyss and, less problematically, Skerples' Veinscrawl
  • Chainsaw Man

Some loose threads/motifs I mined from the old campaign:

  • Nightmare snake cultists infiltrating a major world religion, rooms of archbishops communing with god thru dreams
  • Beautiful mountaintop city; beneath, prison-city hanging over an abyss on huge chains, shaped like a metal human heart
  • The role of dragons in rewriting history
  • Characters who know they're in a game (eldritch madness)
  • A dragon with a Collar of Domination that forces it not to be a megalomaniacal psychopath
  • A tower of undead climbing one another towards the sun
  • Dropping a nuclear payload into a volcano
  • Dragon-headed wizard who only studies magic to support her brother's get-rich-quick schemes
  • Displaced, vengeful, owl-faced shapeshifter forest god hive mind
  • Coprophagic kobolds on skateboards
  • Pirate bureaucracy
  • Cowboy shit

And finally, some one-liners to ruminate on going forward:

  • Corpse of a giant astronaut, around which the lichenfolk have grown a peaceful village
  • Centipede warlord with the arms and legs of everyone he ate on the road to empire
  • Dead priests in a buried city; cut their bellies, see how the gold has taken shape in their guts
  • Nude faeries picking scraps of meat from between the teeth of wild dogs

Check back next Friday for Week 2 (hopefully).

early sketches
i'm a very visual thinker, so these sorts of rough sketches help me get a handle on where to flesh out the world

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ten Ogres


These ten terrible men share the following traits:

  • They are huge, but not capital-G Giants. All of the Giants are dead (except the ones who aren't). It would be like looking at a penguin and calling it a dinosaur.
  • They are human. They have language and can use tools. They understand diplomacy, even if they do not respect it.
  • They are monsters. They will eat sentient beings, and see thru darkness as if it were daylight.
  • They are men.
  • Seawater is poison to them.

Use the following stats:
HD 5 (supernatural) ; Armor as chain ; Fist 1d12/1d12

For 5e, use the Cyclops (or a Frost Giant if you're feeling spicy) and build from there.

You can improve a basic ogre encounter by adding more ogres, more things to want, more complications, more superstitions, more more more

An ogre who has only one eye.
When the Library of Alexandria burned, Cyclops breathed in the ashes, and thus did he become almost-all-knowing. It is said that his lone outward-facing eye belies hundreds such inward-facing eyes, which scrutinized the great works and made sense of the burnt pieces in an instant. In fact, it was only in their damaged state that he was able to see the patterns imperceptible to aeons old scholarly traditons, and became the one truth-knower on this earth.
    Cyclops does not believe, he knows. He knows that the earth floats on an endless cosmic sea of clear fat, and that water, in its least divisible state, resembles a pentagonal pyramid with a single, unblinking eye. He knows the names of the sub-societies which control the surface world, and their plans to dominate the populace using wrongly-buttered bread. And he knows you're in on it too; it said so in the thousand-year-old tome he ate yesterday.
    If you can crowbar the truth from his delusions, Cyclops is a remarkable source on extinct civilizations. He has a perfect memory, and dreams of devouring the national university professors who barred his theories--manifestos, really--from publication.

  • Aim for the Eye: If you crit Cyclops, and can reach his eye, you may blind him instead of dealing damage.
  • Blindfighting: Between his turns, the first time Cyclops hears a loud sound nearby and cannot see the source, he lashes out at it. If he is blind, he may do this any number of times.


An ogre who is cursed.
Aspiring faerie wizardlings must commit 777 enchantments to memory, of which 444 are curses. They practice these on Fomorian, whose nails, hairs, and various tissues are grown in tiny apothecaries throughout fae space. Boils, tonguerot, facial assymetries, hangman's nail, melty-eye, green scabies, kidneystones, toes-to-stone, ashmouth…
    Suffice it to say, he earned it.
    He weaves nets from spiderwebs to catch faeries, then eats them like popcorn. He must count backwards from 7 before crossing any threshold. He knows more about removing curses than anyone (but whenever he lifts one of his own, a faerie re-applies the same curse ten minutes later). He'd do anything to burn Hogwarts to the ground.

  • Skin of 444 Curses: Fomorian isn't affected by ongoing effects that incur a saving throw; he is already affected by them, and has learned to adapt.
  • Scars: Damage dealt by Fomorian can't be healed. Only he, or the faerie headmaster herself, can reverse the damage. Nothing can heal the scars; blackened veins, raw red hide, and bruises that turn new, indescribable colors every morning.

An ogre who is a statue.
Gargoyle takes many forms; the saint-devouring Lion, the Mother of primeval Man, God's twelve terrible Pankriatists, and so on. It is unclear whether he is unable to inhabit beautiful statues, and must first deface them, or if it is his possession that renders them hideous. If he is slain, he will possess another statue no less than three leagues away.
His immortality-obsessed priests take tithes from anyone in range of the old cathedral, where their master might feasibly travel to make good on his threats. Gargoyle demands meat, mead, virgin husbands and experienced wives. He is always commissioning larger and larger sculptures, and currently plots to abduct a master sculptor from the next kingdom over. He would have died in the last holy siege, if he hadn't threatened to eat St. John (inventor of the 7 holy fist arts; he's still regenerating in the cathedral dungeon).

  • Stone: Gargoyle is immune to weapons unsuitable for demolition work.
  • Petrifying Bite


An ogre who is many ogres.
There is a mountain which never sleeps. Night and day, it gurgles like a tarpit, building up pressure until it ejaculates thick, house-sized chunks of clay into the sky. With difficulty, these misshapen blobs stand on two trembling, ogresome legs, open two sunken, ogresome eyes, and are promptly devoured by Ettin.
    Ettin is the mountain's lover, and also its many sons. He lurks in its deepest caverns, emerging only to patrol the barren surface for newborns. The lowest heads, nearest the stomach, are the youngest, only capable of crying or coughing. At his terrible zenith, far above the sloping shoulders and blackened heart, rests the fiendish, many-bearded patriarch.
    They all hate each other; day and night, abuse trickles like water from the mouths of the elders into the minds of the lower heads. Decapitations are frequent, if inaccurate, like stripping a corn cob. The heads-that-roll are lined up in the depths of Mt. Cnoboruk, where they echo hateful diatribes and invent sadistic magicks. It is said the gallery knows everything about anything that might cause harm to another, so singular is their purpose.

  • Tower of Babel: Instead of attacking, Ettin may cast four random spells from four random heads in four random directions.
  • Sum of His Parts: Damage dealt to Ettin sheds that many heads-that-roll (1 HP; very rude; explode on death).

An ogre who is the son of god.
Empyrean would be beautiful were it not for his wicked, self-assured sneer. He roams the countryside, demanding hospitality from any town he stumbles into. Days, even weeks, of feasts ensue; he demands entertainment and excesses, lest he grow bored and start amusing himself (his sense of humor is truly depraved). When the coffers, and larders, are empty, he moves on.
    No one knows which god sired Empyrean. They all seem to dote on him equally, with only minimal comments towards his behavior. When they ask what to do about him, local clergy are always shocked by the response: "He's just a child," they say, "he'll grow out of it soon." "Boys will be boys." "Give him time. One day, he may make a fine king."

  • True Immortal: Empyrean can't die. Instead, his divine daddy bails him out of Hell. He'll be back in 1d4 days.
  • I Get My Way: Empyrean can command the world at will; rivers part, trees fall, men die. There are no limits to this ability, except that Empyrean rarely thinks of anything he cannot see in front of him.


An ogre who is a demon.
Balor is a very good friend of Satan. Besides that, he's not very different from your average ogre. I mean, sure, he did get that cool fire whip from Mr. triple-6 for Beelzebubsmas, and I guess there are some perks to having an exclusive interest-free demon summoning contract. But besides those few things, completely normal. Run of the mill. Down to earth, even, this ogre.
    Yes, he leads the armies of Hell on occasion, vacations in a black iron fortress on an active volcano, and plays golf on the fairways of Tartarus. And yes, he'll tear a goat in half and eat it in front of you like a ripe peach. And yes, that is a fractal bone amulet on his septum piercing, thank you for noticing. But ogres are pretty much always this bad.
    The worst thing about Balor is that, on top of it all, he wants you to think he's a nice guy.

  • Working Relationship: Balor counts as a demon when determining damage immunities and resistances, as well as for tax purposes.
  • Summon: Balor has a summoning circle tattooed on his tummy, which he can use freely (summoned demons have d8 HD).

An ogre who is a tree.
A typical encounter with Treant begins like this: a split tree trunk reaches out of the undergrowth and grabs the expedition lead's horse out from under her. It withdraws, dragging the beast into the forest as if grabbing a Kleenex. The horse hits the woodchipper: there is crunching and screaming and sobbing and silence. Then the tree trunk reaches out for more.
    Where other ogres are talkative, sometimes even civilized, Treant is nearly feral. He is nude, and mostly teeth from the neck up. Some of them are even his. You will see him chewing on a squirrel with teeth he stole from a moose.
    There is only one thing Treant truly loves, and that is horses. Adorable ponies, powerful thoroughbreds, sturdy draft breeds; he can't get enough. He loves to watch them run, and prance, and gallop, and canter; he scrawls their likeness on his favorite cliff face, and sings to himself about their windswept manes. If you get him talking, he'll chatter for hours about the value of genetically pure breeds and the ideal gait to bring to the preakness.
    Bring him a horse, and he'll have it in his mouth before you can say "palomino". He can't help himself, he'll even weep as he does it. And when he has finished eating and weeping, he will be furious at you for what you made him do.

  • Treestride: Treant can pass through trees at will, without slowing down. He is extremely, terrifyingly fast.
  • Camouflage: Treant always has at least half-cover in the forest.

An ogre who is lost.
Although ogres are terribly, ravenously hungry, they don't actually need to eat. Such is the only explanation for Minotaur, who stalks endlessly the executioner's labyrinth of Voth Duma with a cube of solid lead around his head. Robbed of his other senses, he lays the cube against the floor to pick up the movements of his maze-locked prey--in the past, these were political prisoners, but the executioners have long since departed--tracking them without err thru the maze. When he finds them, he stands on his head and pulps them into the tiny gap between his neck and the lead. When he is not hunting, he sings.
    Minotaur's cube-helm sports horns in the shape of massive keys, which unlock various doors throughout the labyrinth. The doors are too small for him to fit through. If you could find a way to cooperate, you could both escape, each unlocking the way for one another in alternating sequence until the end. For whatever reason, he hasn't taken anyone up on this offer yet.

  • Maze Sense: By listening for ten minutes, Minotaur can pinpoint the location of anyone in a 1 mile radius.
  • Lead-lined: Minotaur ignores any and all magic targeting his head.

Umber Hulk
An ogre who is a dwarf.
As above, so below. As drow to elves, dvrgr to dwarves, and morlocks to men, so too does Umber Hulk exist as a dark reflection of the surface world. He is smitten with the collapse of the Giants, and craves their parallel histories more than any bauble, chittering in his palace of obsessions. On good days, he whiles away the hours carving his lair--a crude replica of their ancient skyborne palaces, inverted and relieved into flowstone. On bad days, he throws a tantrum, destroys his work and digs to a new cavern to start over. If you're crawling the Underdark and notice the stone is now suddenly (and shoddily) worked, you've probably discovered one of his abandoned projects.
    Umber Hulk hates having his unfinished work scrutinized (it's not ready yet!!!!!), so they are filled with monsters. He does so by scrambling their minds with his many, mesmerizing eyes, then establishing them in rough hewn kennels. He is a thoughtless shepherd, and his beasts die or thrive without his knowledge.
    Over time, he has stolen many Giantish artifacts--Bigby's Staff, Omgulgar's Wizened Greatsword, the Jewels of Kanye--and enshrined them in monuments to his dead culture. Because he is an idiot, he has lost almost all of them. Perhaps you would be willing to trade?

  • Tunneler: Umber Hulk can swim thru earth as if sprinting. He leaves a tunnel in his wake.
  • Mesmerizing Gaze: Save or be stunned. Dumb animals fall under the Umber Hulk's control instead.

An ogre who doesn't exist.
Your camp lies in tatters. The less appetizing pieces of the cleric are strewn about; armor, extremities, etc. The wizard and the rogue saw the whole thing… and you don't believe them. You can't believe them. They don't believe each other, even, and the townsfolk certainly won't believe the lot of you. And you saw it too, but now that your friends say otherwise… maybe you were mistaken after all?
    Yeti eats better the larger the traveling party is. If the group is large enough, he can squat over your hearthfire without anyone batting an eye; no one believes one another, so no one believes themselves. You'll keep seeing him around camp, but if you run for help, the group will talk you out of it. If he isn't too hungry, he'll play with his food; you'll find yourselves walking in circles in an endless blizzard, turning on one another over misplaced rations and important trinkets.
    Yeti can be coaxed into conversation quite easily, so long as its one on one with someone he can terrify. He likes listening to stories about himself. Hearsay and madmen believe he gained his power by swallowing his own true name, and that he could teach a sufficiently depraved man to do the same.

  • Like a Polar Bear Sneezing in a Snow Bank: Wherever Yeti goes, a blizzard follows.
  • Cryptic Existence: If you hear someone else talk about Yeti, you stop believing in him. One round later, he will be effectively invisible to you.