The Halfling

I awoke in the night in a cold sweat, the fate of poor Lucinda playing on my mind. I opened my room’s window to let some air in. The night was deathly silent, not even the crickets were stirring in the nearby forest. A thick darkness lay over the grounds of the coaching house. I put it down to my weary mind playing tricks and fell back into a sound sleep.

In the morning I was buffeted by the sounds of a festival coming through my open window, which was peculiar considering the coaching house had been all but empty the previous night. I looked out the window and was greeted with the sight of several squat caravans inhabiting the grounds. They were decorated with rich patterns of bright colours. Are large group of painted aurochs were tethered in nearby.

Being brought up in a strict Whiteshore boarding school, I had never encountered halflings before, so the sight of several score of them zipping between tents and under the caravans filled me with great curiosity. I dressed quickly and joined my companions in the common room.

Bradley was yet to wake but Thorodr was up and had all of his belongings packed. He asked me if we were leaving straight away. I told him that I planned to stay here for a while to study the new arrivals. He reacted uncomfortably, stating that he had a great disdain for the small folk. He told me that if I was staying he was going to leave straight away and continue the journey alone. Frustrated, I told him that he was welcome to and he left right away, giving a wide berth to a halfling couple who entered the tavern.

The halflings were between three and four feet tall with thick, curly hair and bushy eyebrows. Their frames were slight and they moved with great surety and deftness. The male of the pair wore a shirt of mail made from silk with sewn in brass pennies. The female wore a multilayered and colourful dress. Both decorated their persons with coins from many different nations. They bartered with the tavern owner for some time; I noticed that they were of careful speech and quick wit. After they had finished their transaction I approached them and told them about my journal and asked cordially if they would be inclined to show me around their camp. They agreed and led me outside.

To begin with they showed me around the different vehicles of their caravan. Many were simple dwellings, small houses on wheels. They showed me a spectacular, three storied and heavily fortified moving fortress that the called the hall wagon. In this they held meetings, had feasts and kept the mainstay of the military force. Between the crenellations on the stone roof several blackpowder cannons jutted out, as well as eastern fire-spitters.

They led me onto a cart decorated with golden edges and silver patterns, giving the impression of a giant jewellery box on wheels. This was the coin-master’s cart, the coin-master being the leader of the caravan and guardian of the group’s wealth. At all times this cart was surrounded by the coin-guard, aurochs riding sharpshooters wearing silver coin-mail and helms with funnels over the ears made from the horns of their favourite beasts.

Finally there was the black coach, a cart made out of black and white striped stone in the shape of a mausoleum. Here the remains of dead members of the troupe were stored in shelves until Boneday, a festival where the halflings painted their ancestors bones in bright colours and wore them as costumes. This irreverence struck me, but it seemed to permeate everything they did. To the halflings, nothing was permanent. I asked them about their origins but none of them seemed to know. They had always been travelling from land to land, their minds only on the road they were on. Children did not belong to a particular couple, if there was such a thing as a halfling couple, but to the group as a whole. It was the same with wealth and possessions. Everything seemed to be up for trade.

They are a generous folk, quick to share anything from a joke to expensive wine. Problems stemmed from that though, as they seem to think others are as free with possessions as they are. Several of my belongings ended up being passed around until the coin-master stepped in. The coin-master and I spoke at length about halfling culture. He told me of the three different kinds of halfling, all similar in stature and lack of settlements, but very different in the approaches to travel. The kind I was currently studying were lowland halflings. Travellers of the roads and cities, following a migration plan set by the gods of chaos. They traded in clothes for the most part, being excellent tailors and shoemakers. He spoke also of the highland halflings, mountainous nomads that herded goats on steep cliffs and hired out their services as guides for adventurers. There were also the riverfolk halflings who travelled in floating towns and had a great love for anything magical.

The day wore on and it became too late to set off on our journey towards the capitol. I spoke with the coin-master and he agreed to let us travel with him as the troupe was heading in the same direction. He put me with and old halfling named Granny Pike. She was short and round and very weathered, much paler than the bronzed halfling youths. She tended to wear black robes decorated with grim patterns and was always being followed by a large, cloaked stranger that never seemed to speak. Despite her appearance, she was friendly and amiable and an excellent cook. She seemed to be the keeper of the Black Coach, her quarters unceremoniously bolted on to its roof. As the light failed Bradley, Benjamin and I crouched in her squat common room and drank fine mead made from northern mammoth bees, forgetting all worries and sleeping soundly.

~ Riffolk

beastchorus_lowlandhalfling

Rules

Halfling Player Characters
Halflings are adventurous by nature and are often gravitate to the adventurer’s life. They tend towards archetypes that utilize their superior agility and dexterity, such as Rangers or Rogues. They tend to shy away from melee combat and so are rarely any of the fighting archetypes. Lowland Halflings favour the Ranger class, which enhances their ability to survive on the road. Riverfolk Halfling’s love of magic leads them to gravitate towards Arcanists, Bards and Wizards. Unlike other Halflings, there are a considerable number of Highland Halfling Barbarians, who act as mountain guides and map makers.

halfling_chart

Racial Traits
Lowland Halfling: Dextrous

Highland Halfling: Agile

Riverfolk Halfling: Intelligent

Special Traits
Small: Character gains a 10 bonus to Stealth Checks. Character counts Basic melee weapons as Two-Handed and Off-Handed melee weapons as Basic.

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Grail Wraith

When we set out the next morning the sky was grey and a thick mist rose from the river. Bradley prepared a traveller’s breakfast while Thorodr polished his new blade. The multitude of curses seemed to have worn off during my fitful and painful sleep. By the time we had broken our fasts and journeyed onwards the fog had still not lifted.

We took a careful pace along the road, the gurgling river to our left and the gloomy silence of the Kingswood to our right. A few hours along the road we heard a groaning coming from the northern side of the path. The fog made it difficult to see what was up ahead and the previous night’s chaos had put us all on edge so we readied our weapons and advanced.

Coming closer to the origin of the noise we spied a figure propped up against a mossy tree surrounded by a patch of grave stools, a fungi known for its anaesthetic spores making it an ideal resting place for a mortally wounded warrior.

The figure in question was both a warrior and mortally wounded. He was dressed in beaten chainmail and a bloody burgundy surcoat. He clasped a broadsword to his chest and beside him lay a bucket great helm with a torn black feather. Many crossbow bolts had pierced his chest and I was quite sure these were to be the last moments of his life.

I soaked a cloth in water from the river and brought it over to wipe his brow. As I knelt next to him he caught my wrist and spoke with a fevered and strained voice. He told me to tell “her” that he couldn’t complete his task. That he was sorry. I questioned him as to who exactly “she” was but he just shook his head and pointed up an overgrown path leading into the trees. He then breathed his last laboured breath and his eyes glassed over. I closed his eyes and stepped away, deep in thought. Thorodr looted the body.

As Thorodr began his immoral crusade for the noble corpse’s riches I heard Bradley sniffle. I turned to him and was shocked to see tears streaming down his face. I was beginning to tell him to pull himself together but the look in his eyes convinced me to take a gentler approach. I told Bradley that we would fulfil the man’s last wish. We would take the path into the forest no matter the danger or the delay.

Thorodr disagreed with me on the instant. The burly paragon would not lift a finger for an already expired client without promise of reward. I argued to him that clearly he had already been rewarded with the dead man’s trappings and to consider them as an advance payment. Thorodr agreed, albeit not without complaint, and handed me a dagger that glowed with silver light that he had lifted from the slain warrior. I tried to give it back but Thorodr refused to take it, replying that I would need it.

We set out down the path into the forest, leaving Benjamin to guard Thorodr’s treasure. The sparse trees and brush swiftly became densely packed black trees with roots woven together. Fungeyes on the bottom of the canopy followed us as we clambered our way through the trees. Even though the path was barely visible I felt led along by a strange compulsion, a sense of belonging.

Some time into our quest the tree line sharply dropped. We were gazing out over a tall cliff, completely overgrown with thick, black roots. For a moment it seemed as though our path was blocked, but I was able to discern a wide, flat root winding downwards that I hoped would lead us to the bottom.

We climbed down the root with great care, trying to keep away from the edges. It struck out wide to the edge of the wooden wall over the edge of a terrible drop, and then wound back into a tunnel woven into the roots. It led inwards and downwards with streams of water running along rivets in the wood. Bradley struck up a lantern and a swarm of bats buffeted us.

Ahead lay an opening to a cave, a rushing waterfall split by a thick root above it. We stepped inside. The cave was tall, wide and round and seemed to be lit by a pale silver glow coming from an empty pedestal in the centre. As we stepped inside an apparition formed on the pedestal, taking the form of a polished silver grail. A beautiful yet ghostly voice emanated from the walls, welcoming us as heroes and beseeching us to take up a perilous quest in the name of good.

A curious thought crossed my mind. I was quite certain that I recognised this voice. I called out the name of what I thought to be the voices owner and my suspicions were confirmed. An ethereal figure appeared dressed in a white funeral gown with a belt of spun sliver. It was Lucinda, an individual from my past that still haunted my sleep.

Lucinda Forhaft was the only daughter of a noble family that lived in the manse next to my house as a child. We grew up together; pretending we were great adventurers and planning for the day we could escape the monotony of noble life and take up the mantles of the great explorers from the books we stole from my father’s library. The day came when I came of age and we planned to escape into the night, but a servant found her packed belongings and told her father. Her father forbade her from seeing me and would not let her out of her room until she forgot her dreams of fame and adventure. To my great sorrow she couldn’t stand her future of solitude and stagnation and took her own life.

Her apparition spoke to me and bade me to complete her quest so her spirit could be at rest. I eagerly accepted but Thorodr spoke up. He warned me that my beloved Lucinda had become what seasoned adventurers call a Grail Wraith. A spirit that inhabits the wildest places of the world and sends noble heroes on perilous and impossible quest that will ultimately lead to their doom.

At this point Lucinda’s expression changed from calm and regal to a horrible, possessed snarl. Her hair spread out into the air and her silver glow turned to a ghastly green. Her eyes flashed and an overwhelming sense of fear took me. I fell to my knees and Thorodr rushed in to attack. His way was blocked by Bradley, whose eyes had taken a terrible blazing light.

As Bradley and Thorodr fought I tried to compose myself. Summoning up all my willpower, I drew the magical dagger from my belt and flung myself at Lucinda, plunging the blade into her heart. A bright light flared and there was a great sighing sound. When my eyesight returned she was gone. Bradley was wandering around with a confused look and Thorodr was sitting and panting on the ground.

After a moments rest we made our way back to the road with the light failing. We did not speak; Bradley was still recovering from the enchantment, Thorodr was worn out from Bradley’s blows and I was trying to come to terms with what had happened. We reached the road and Thorodr spoke of a tavern not far from our location. When we reached our destination it was well into the night. I payed for a room and we collapsed without eating dinner.

Image

Rules

Image

Description:
This creature looks like the ghostly image of a noble and beautiful person. It speaks with a regal and sad voice. Grail Wraiths are the spirits of people that take their own lives because they are unable to sate their own sense of wanderlust and adventure. They attract adventurers to their lairs with Charm magic and send them on perilous and impossible quests. If they are recognised for what they are they take the form of a horrible wraith. They will use their Charm magic to enslave the strongest character in the party and weaken others.

Equipment:
None

Abilities:
Ethereal – The creature cannot interact with the physical world and cannot be harmed unless by magic. The creature can also move and see through walls and floors and flies at up to running speed in any direction.

Willful – The creature gains a 10 bonus to Spell Checks and Will Checks and has 10 bonus mana.

Dispel – The creature can spend the same amount of mana of a spell cast by an opponent to dispel the effect on an opposed Will Check.

Magic Resistance – The creature gains a 10 bonus to resist spell effects.

Reflect – The creature reflects offensive spell effects back on the caster with a critical success on a Dispel attempt. The creature gains a 5 bonus to the critical chance on Dispel attempts.

Spells
Mana: 90

1st Circle:
Sleep, Charming Visage, Scrye, Blind, Gag

2nd Circle:
Mind Worm, False Prophet, Metronome, Fragrant Garden

3rd Circle:

Enthrallment

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Imp

Along the long road to the capitol we came upon a curious caravan heading in the other direction. It was draped in silks of the rich purple of the Eastern Merchants guild. It was pulled along by animated equine statues, steered by a man clad in the same coloured silks that covered the vehicle. Thorodr hailed it down, hoping to get a good deal for the figurine he found in the great river.

Thorodr browsed his wares, looking for a weapon to trade for the magical item. I bought Bradley a box of rich Eastern candies and spoke with the merchant. He asked about my profession and I told him about my quest to document the magical species of the world. He told me that he had something I might be interested in and disappeared into the carriage, returning with a cage holding a strange creature.

The creature was the shape of a young babe, though its skin was brown and leathery like that of a toad. Small horns sprouted from its disproportionately large head and stubby fangs jutted out of its mouth. The merchant told me that it was a demonic imp, like those in the servitude of apprentice demonologists. He told me that it would serve me faithfully if I could guess its true name. Seeing an opportunity to learn the true origins of the so-called “demons” of the fictional Abyssal Plane, I bought it promptly. Thorodr traded his falchion and the statuette for a spatha of Praetorian steel and the merchant went on his way.

As the light was failing we decided to make camp in a small and well-used clearing off the side of the road. Bradley built a fire and fed Benjamin while Thorodr began sharpening his new sword. I decided to start off with the imp. Knowing you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, I introduced myself and politely inquired as to the creature’s name. The little brute began swearing up a storm. Bradley was quite rattled and Thorodr snickered. Abandoning diplomacy, I started with a common demonic name from a prominent book of demons I had studied in the Academy. The Imp laughed horribly and then threw a magic curse at me.

I felt a strange feeling in my hands. Upon looking at them I realised my fingers had grown to twice the length. Horrified, I pleaded with the little beast to restore my hands to their normal form but was greeted with cackling. Knowing that the only way to regain my normal form was to render the Imp servile I tried another name, this one much more obscure. I guessed wrong and the thing cursed me again, this time my mouth filled with saliva and I could not help but let it drip down the front of my shirt.

Thorodr was in hysterics at my state; he could barely breathe from the laughter. Bradley, however, was quite distraught at my situation and I decided to end this quickly for his sake if not mine. I began listing any demonic name I could think of, starting in alphabetical order but devolving into pure randomness. In hindsight I can see that this was a huge mistake. The avalanche of curses that fell upon me rendered me barely human. Steam began pouring out of my ears, pain shot up my posterior, my lips swelled and became almost unusable among other things too horrible to describe here.

Finally Bradley stepped in to help in the only way he knew how. He started stamping on the thing’s cage until the occupant was reduced to a sulphurous mush. As soon as the Imp had expired the curses were lifted from me. In my relief I quite forgot my disappointment at having gained no knowledge from the creature. I have decided to get expert advice before I mingle with the creatures of the dark arts again.

~ Riffolk

Rules

Image

Description:
This creature looks like a bestial human baby with leathery, warty skin and small horns. It is the smallest kind of demon and often serves as a companion and menial servant for Wizards. If separated from its Wizard owner, it can be controlled if a character says its true name. If the character guesses wrong then they must pass a Will check or be affected by a minor curse.

Equipment:
Claws (-5 damage, cannot parry)

Abilities:
Curse: Once per turn the creature can force an opponent to reroll a successful check if it passes a Will Check.

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Skullfish

Bradley, Thorodr and I set off down Grand Anchor Way, the main artery betwixt the capitol and my hometown of Whiteshore and its sunny beaches. Benjamin, the former amarok, followed Bradley closely, infatuated with his every move. Thorodr regaled us with tales of his adventures. As with most seasoned adventurers, he had developed storytelling into a fine art, and we were most entertained. The weather was most pleasant, and the beautiful and aromatic Kingswood set our spirits high. Soon the road joined the river Car and followed parallel along its course.

I spied a strange sight near the river’s edge in the water, and I left the road to take a closer look. A school of silver fish swam in an odd fashion by the water’s edge. They were large, oil coloured fish with a pearlescent sheen to their scales. Most interesting though, was that they seemed to have no skin on their heads, just an exposed, toothy skull.

I had learned about these on fishing trips I had taken with my father as a young boy. Their common name is the skullfish, a common breed of magical creature. Fisherman say that they  are the souls of drowned fisherman who refused to let go of a catch, to their folly.

Thorodr joined me by the river bank. Upon spying the fish, he quickly undressed and dived into the water. The water was clear and the surface unbroken and I could see him swimming downwards with the fish circling. He reached the riverbed and began rooting around in the rocks, swirling up mud and obscuring him.

After several seconds he returned to the surface. He climbed out of the river, both of his hands grasping objects. In his left was a small jade statue. It made a curious jingling sound that seemed to emit from the edge of one’s consciousness. In his right he held one of the skullfish by the neck. He held it up to  Bradley for sketching and told me some sound adventuring advice.

Apparently skullfish and magical items go hand in hand. Their presence is a metaphorical X marking magical treasure. My theory is that they are actually magical mutants; the presence of magical energy warps their bodies into a somewhat stable form. They also taste like cinnamon.

~ Riffolk

Rules

Description:
These creatures look like oily fish with exposed skulls and bright, rainbow eyes. They are attracted to magic and are usually found near magical items or sources. Their mutant bodies actually draw in magical energy. They are not aggressive and will rarely attack characters, though if they are near spellcasters their bodies will draw in their magical energy.

Equipment:
Teeth (10 bonus  Grapple damage)

Abilities:
Mana Sink: Every turn the creature is within 3 metres of a spellcaster it must take an opposed Will  check. The spellcaster’s mana is drained by 5 for every degree the creature beats them by.

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Wicker Man

We attended the funeral of the late Wynn of Fywich, the poor hunter that met with a grisly fate at the hands of Benjamin the Amarok. Most of the village turned out, though the village’s priest was away on an inquisition. I was excited to see a funeral without an oppressive speech from the church but it so happens that an acolyte of Vulcan was passing through town on a pilgrimage and agreed to conduct a sermon.

Wynn’s family had asked for him to be cremated, which suited the follower of the fire god fine. He opened to a page in the weighty tome he brought with him and recited a long speech in classical. The crowd was moved and Bradley had tears streaming from his eyes. Apparently I was the only one there with a classical education. What the ignorant priest had actually read was a rousing war speech. He even ended the sermon with the classical version of “May their souls ever burn in the fires of hell.

I stood with a mixture of amusement and indignant rage which was quickly replaced by shock as the funeral pyre began to move. The fire blazed unnaturally high and the corpse lifted into the air on a tongue of flame. The logs used to build the fire surrounded it, taking the shape of a giant burning effigy. The corpse opened its mouth and the sound that came out was not unlike the bellow of a mammoth I once saw in a travelling circus.

The beast moved with surprising speed and grabbed the priest. He screamed while in its grasp and ignited, quickly burning away to ashes and scattered in the wind. The crowd surged away from the funeral pyre, trampling each other to escape. I became aware of a figure moving against the crowd, towards the towering fire creature. Red light glinted of his plate armour as he strode through the crowd. He carried a heavy falchion with one hand and a large scutum in the other.

The man deftly hid behind his shield as the beast vomited forth a cone of red fire. As interested as I was to see the combat, I decided it would be prudent to escape from the line of fire of the monster. I dragged Bradley behind a building. After a short burst of violent noise, the surroundings went quiet. I leaned out from my cover to see the somewhat blackened warrior standing in a pile of burnt logs. He seemed to be searching for loot.

The man was obviously a seasoned adventurer as I am, so I decided to introduce myself. He named himself as Thorodr of Arancliffe. Though he was short of stature, he seemed to possess great strength and skill with a blade. He told me that he was travelling to the capitol to sell a pile of treasures he had acquired and I, realising that my comrade and I might have overstayed our welcome in Fywich, agreed to accompany him.

~ Riffolk

Rules

Description:
This creature is created when a character or priest critically fails at giving a sermon or speech at a cremation. It looks like a towering burning effigy, wreathed in unnatural red flame. The corpse from the pyre sits at the centre, screaming in a loud bellow, and is the creature’s only weak point. The creature attacks by either vomiting fire at opponents or grabbing them and letting them burn to death.

Equipment:
Burning Claws (10 Fire Damage, cannot Parry, opponents hit have a 25% chance of lighting on fire)

Abilities:
Grapple: 20 bonus to Dexterity and Strength Checks to initiate and maintain Grapples.

Burning Hands: If an opponent is grappled by the creature they will automatically light on fire and take a fire damage hit based on the creatures Intellect every turn while the grapple is maintained.

Flamethrower: Once per turn the creature may vomit forth flame in a short ranged cone as the Pyromancy spell Flamethrower. Targets may take a dodge check or a parry check if they are wielding a shield, at -10 penalty, for half damage.

Fire Armour: The creature has 20 points of armour on all locations, except for the chest, and is immune to fire damage. Any opponents making melee attacks against the creature have a 25% chance of lighting on fire.

Regenerate: While the creature is above 0 Wounds, it may regenerate an amount of wounds equal to the degrees of success on a toughness check with a 10 bonus. Opponents may stop the regeneration by dousing the wound with water or by dealing cold damage to its location.

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Amarok

Due to the Aristotowl debacle, we decided it was unwise to head into the woods unaccompanied. Luck shined upon us and Baron Rortor of Fywich invited us along with a hunting party deep into the Kingswood. As we rode with ten other men and women along a brook lit by shafts of golden sunlight, Rortor told us the legend of the Amarok, a beast rumoured to inhabit the wilder parts of the forest.

Legend has it that the Amarok was originally a previous baron’s prized hound. It was badly mistreated by its owner and lashed out. In a fit of rage the baron tried to kill the beast with his hunting knife, but through sheer force of will it escaped to the forest. Now it has been rumoured to have grown to an immense size. It lurks in the woods and hunts down hunters that split off from the group, searching for revenge against the owner that betrayed it.

As the brook led into a deep and rugged valley, I asked the baron if we could split off from the group, with a hunter to accompany us, to follow some strange tracks that Bradley spotted. The baron was hesitant but agreed to send us off with one of the hunters, a young western man with long coal coloured hair named Wynn.

We set off down the path that the tracks led down. As we progressed, the temperature started to drop and Wynn warned us of a storm. It being too late to rejoin the hunting party, we decided to hole up in a cave for the night and return in the morning. I walked alone to a stream to draw water and spied a silhouetted figure on the crest of the valley with glowing yellow eyes. I would have mistaken it for a pair of stars if not for the sound that came from it.

It was a long and mournful howl, seeming to come from all directions at once as if I was surrounded by a pack of sorrowful hounds. Needless to say, I returned quickly to the cave and warned the others. Thunder rolled in and rain poured down. The thick trees were illuminated in flashes of lightning.

We heard the howl again, this time much closer. Something about the harrowing noise affected me deeply. I wiped my face and was surprised to find that tears were streaming out of my eyes. Lightning flashed again and we could see a hulking figure blocking the entrance to the cave, its miserable yellow eyes staring us with a curious mix of pleading and malice.

Wynn drew his longsword and rushed in, I tried to draw my hanger but it became stuck in my belt. The beast leapt on Wynn. Its mouth closed on the man’s ribcage and caved it in with a sickening crunch. Closer to the firelight we could see the beast in its full glory. It was the size of a full grown boar, with hulking shoulders and smaller back legs. It somewhat resemble a mix between a bear and a hunting hound. It was covered in matted red fur and had a long snout. At first its hair seemed to be moving with a life of its own, but a closer look revealed maggots crawling out of gaping wounds on its flank. Several arrows and knives stuck out of its back.

Bradley reacted strangely to it. He moved forward with his fist outstretched and called to it, saying “Doggy” softly.  The beast seemed to not know how to react at first. Bradley reached it and started scratching it behind the ear, whispering “Good doggy”. The beast growled and a ridge of fur on its back stood on end. I regained my senses and called out to Bradley, telling him to get away. The beast pinned Bradley beneath it in a swift movement, baring its teeth close to Bradley’s face. I was ready to charge in to help when Bradley scratched it under the chin and said to the creature “You are a very good doggy.”

The beast stepped back from Bradley and starting shaking its head and coughing up maggots. It began a bizarre metamorphosis. It shrunk and its bulging muscles deflated. Its eyes lost their malevolent glow. Before I knew it, it had changed to the form of a wounded hound, limping and whining. Bradley named it Benjamin.

~ Riffolk

Rules

Description:
This creature looks like a giant hound with bulging shoulder muscles. Its sad eyes glow yellow. It is covered in wounds that drip maggots. It always walks with its tail between its legs. This creature lurks in forests following groups of people. As soon as a member splits off from the group it will approach and howl. If a character draws a weapon in front of it, the creature will attack. If a character passes a hard (-20) calm animal check, or if a healing spell is cast on the creature, it will revert back to the form of a wounded dog and follow the character around until it dies.

Equipment:
Fangs (10 Grapple Damage), Claws (-5 Damage, cannot Parry)

Abilities:
Strong: 10 bonus to Strength checks and Melee and Grapple damage.

Tough: 10 bonus to Toughness checks and one extra Wound.

Fearsome: Opponents must take a Will check at the start of combat or be affected by Fear.

Sorrowful Howl: This creature can Howl as major action. All opponents that fail a Will check get a 10 penalty to Intellect checks for an amount of turns equal to the degrees of failure and begin crying. Critical failures result in the target being paralysed by grief for 1 turn. Demons and Undead are not affected by this.

Fury: This creature gains one extra attack per turn for every wound dealt to it in the last round.

Iron Hide: This creature has 10 armour on all locations.

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Aristotowl

We began our journey of discovery at the small town of Fywich on the edge of the Kingswood. There was a rumour about town of a legendary creature inhabiting the woods nearby. The Aristotowl they called it. Legend has it that one is created when a philosopher dies without knowing the touch of a woman, punished by the Gods to haunt the earth as a grotesque owl plagued by the question that drove them insane in their mortal life.

Knowing this to be false as the Gods are a fantasy created to control weak minded plebeians, I endeavoured to study this creature in its natural habitat and discover the true nature of its origins. Bradley and I set out in to the forest at night, myself knowing that owls are nocturnal and Bradley having spent all day haggling with a shopkeep over the price of charcoal sticks.

We came upon a moonlit grove inhabited by several creatures. Upon closer inspection, the figures revealed themselves to be corpses, all frozen in a seated position almost as if they were deep in thought. I asked Bradley to scout the perimeter while I tried to ascertain the cause of their collective deaths.

It was at that point that I heard a voice calling out to me. It was hollow and mournful sounding; at first I thought it was the wind. It asked me “Who’s there?” and I replied with my name. I felt a strange mood come over me. My body felt very tired but my mind started racing. Feeling dizzy, I sat down. The voice struck up a conversation with me and I replied in an attempt to pass the bizarre sensation that had come over me.

The voice apparently came from a man of deep thought, though I could not see him from where I was seated and I was too lightheaded to get up and look. To start the conversation he told me a puzzle that he had been trying to work out for a long time. I reasoned to help this poor man, at least while I was incapable of moving on. The puzzle was quite a knot. The question was “Where is love felt?” I tried to come up with an answer for what seemed like a long time.

After who knows how long, the feeling passed. I called out to the man but there was no reply. I suddenly felt a great hunger and thirst. It was as if I had been sitting for days. I looked at the sky and it was well into the afternoon. I heard Bradley call out “Got him.” and he walked into the grove carrying what looked like a large silver owl with its face caved in by a blunt object. According to Bradley I had been sitting in a trance for the better part of two days until Bradley found the creature that I am still not quite convinced was the Aristotowl. Bradley assured me that it was and he had managed to draw its image before he clubbed the poor thing.

~ Riffolk

Rules

Description:
This creature looks like a large owl with almost ethereal silver feathers. Its face is a grotesque, vaguely human visage with a long drooping nose and beady, coal black eyes. It is constantly frowning. The Aristotowl will hide out of sight in forests and try to enthral anyone who passes by.

Equipment:
None

Abilities:
Enthrallment – The creature is constantly calling out, asking “Who’s there?” If a character replies, they must take an opposed Will Check with the creature or be enthralled by its enchantment. Enthralled characters are presented with a logic puzzle. The character cannot move or take any action until the logic puzzle is solved, the creature is found and killed, or the character dies of thirst. Any characters that interact with the enthralled character, or try to help them solve the logic puzzle, also become enthralled. If the logic puzzle is solved to the Game Master’s satisfaction then the Aristotowl explodes in a gory manner.

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