The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chaosium Digest Classics: Pendragon Encounters

by Warren Hately
Originally appearing in The Chaosium Digest volume 28, number 1 and 2 on Sunday, April 11, 1999

It was with a little shock the other week while playing the game I have been running for nearly two years now that I turned to the rules for the statistics of a monster. I realized then this was the first time I'd ever actually done this, in all that time of playing. Pendragon has always seemed to be direly in need of a solid section for mundane and magical encounters, a "Monster Manual" of sorts. But to be true to the setting of the game, there is a limit to exactly how many pages could be filled without borrowing wholesale from other genres which are not strictly historical. So I thought I would gather together my notes and thoughts and scribe down the stats for some of the encounters I have used in my game over this length of time. From what's listed here, you'll also be able to discern the nature of game my players and I are involved in. I hope this proves useful to some!

These unfortunate beings are the result of the magic issuing from the various magic cauldrons which populate Celtic myth. These cauldrons are said to be able to take the dead from the field of battle, and return them to a form of life though they are mute thereafter. I have interpreted these beings as a much more efficient kind of zombie; temporarily summoned from the afterlife to reinhabit the bodies in which they died. In most cases, the dead were fairly noted warriors and the cauldron's animation of their bodies means they do not suffer the slowness of ordinary zombies. While their fatal wounds remain as the signs of their former slaying, now only major wounds, decapitation and truncation will slow them down.

SIZ 13 Move: 3
DEX 15 Damage: 5d6
STR 15 HP: irrelevant (29)
CON 16 Armour: 6 + 6
Attacks: Most Cauldron Dead employ the weapons which they used in life. Some may use double-handed weapons, and therefore forego use of a shield in exchange for the additional 1d6 damage (and any other effects). They attack with a skill @ 16. Some also use missile weapons (javelins) @ 12.
Sig. Skills: Awareness 10, Hunting 12, Horsemanship 12, Drive Chariot 12.
Sig. Passions: Loyalty (Cauldron Bearer) 16
Avoidance: 0
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 40

These shapeshifters, also known as Selkies, can make an interesting player character race. They sail the seas around Ireland and northern Britain in super-fast ships constructed of Otherworldly materials. Their captains are referred to as "Husband-of-Ships." They speak an ancient form of Gaelic, barely recognizable, and appear as Celts with red or blonde or blue/green hair. Each wears a totem (usually a skin) of his or her animal spirit (and usually little else) and frequently can be found in this other form. Their actual stats and skills vary, as normal people do. However, each has Shapeshift as a Natural Talent, @15 minimum. Some possess higher magics.

These creatures are often found lurking in the waters of the Mediterranean and the North Sea, waiting for ships to capsize, and humans to devour. On rare occasion they are captured by seamen and used against rival fleets. The Cold Ones have an almost identical description to the Gargoyle Type One (see later), and are often mistaken for such. They are gray and stone-like, but while their skin is very thick and hard, these creatures bleed if pierced successfully.

SIZ 18 Move: 3 (9 swimming)
DEX 14 Damage: 6d6
STR 20 HP: 43
CON 25 Armour: 8
Attacks: 2 claws @ 16 against multiple opponents, or a bite @ 22.
Acid Vomit: Cold Ones often save this terrible attack until they are biting an opponent. They vomit their hoarded digestive juices upon an opponent, inflicting 2d6 damage per round. Armour gives no protection from this attack, though the damage is inflicted against the armour first. Once the damage done has exceeded the armour rating (not
including shields except in special circumstances), the armour is useless, and the acid affects the opponent's body until he is washed clean. Salt-water is particularly effective in this.
Avoidance: 10
Mod. to Valorous: -5 (reroll after the Acid Vomit has been employed).
Glory to Kill: 60

These nearly extinct creatures appear to be a cross between a giant lizard and a snow leopard. Their fur is highly prized, and a complete pelt of these large creatures of worth 6L easily! They are serpentine in their quickness, suppleness and their sharp fangs, but otherwise behavior much like big cats, including their crawling and tree climbing abilities.

SIZ 25 Move: 4
DEX 20
STR 20
CON 20

SIZ 20 Move: 2
DEX 10 Damage: 6d6
STR 14 HP: 32
CON 12 Armour: 4 + shield
Attacks: Spear 13, Axe 11, Javelin 11
Sig. Traits: Proud 16
Sig. Passions: Loyalty Lord 18, Honour 10
Sig. Skills: Awareness 10, Horsemanship 8, Industry 10, First Aid 10, Folk Lore 10, Hunting 12
Glory to Kill: 25

SIZ 24 Move: 3
DEX 10 Damage: 7d6
STR 16 HP: 39
CON 15 Armour: 6 + shield
APP 10
Attacks: Spear 18, Axe 18, Javelin 15, Sword 12
Sig. Traits: Proud 18, Energetic 16, Vengeful 16, Merciful 16, Generous 16
Sig. Passions: Loyalty Lord 21, Hospitality 15
Sig. Skills: Awareness 15, Horsemanship 12, Industry 12, First Aid 15, Folk Lore 10, Hunting 15
Glory to Kill: 35

SIZ 22 Move: 3
DEX 14 Damage: 6d6*
STR 17 HP: 40
CON 18 Armour: 8 + shield
APP 12
Attacks: Spear 18, Axe 21, Javelin 15, Sword 20
Sig. Traits: Proud 20, Energetic 16, Vengeful 20, Merciful 18, Generous 18
Sig. Passions: Loyalty Tuath 18, Hospitality 20, Hate Tuatha De Danaan 15
Sig. Skills: Awareness 16, Courtesy 12, Horsemanship 14, Folk Lore 12, Hunting 15
* Fir Bolg leaders will almost always have 1-3 enchanted items, often a weapon at +2 skill +2 damage.
Glory to Kill: 50

I'm hesitant to call these beings such, as it is not until later in history they are named thus. However, Gargoyle-appearing monsters appear in my campaign as the personification of Earth Elementals, when summoned by a druid/enchanter. They are beings of pure stone. Gargoyles mesh with what is known about the demonic appearance of Gargoyles in later centuries, except they do not fly. Wing-like structures can be perceived on their backs, but closer examination reveals these are actually an antler-like extension of the spinal-column.

Type One
SIZ 16 Move: 3 (3 climbing)
DEX 14 Damage: 6d6
STR 20 HP: 41
CON 25 Armour: 10*
*A fumble with ANY weapon against these beings indicates the weapon has broken.
Attacks: 2 claws @ 15 each, against separate opponents.
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 50

Type Two
SIZ 25 Move: 4 (4 climbing)
DEX 12 Damage: 8d6
STR 25 HP: 50
CON 25 Armour: 10*
*A fumble with ANY weapon against these beings indicates the weapon has broken.
Attacks: 1 claw per round @ 18.
Mod. to Valorous: -10
Glory to Kill: 80

SIZ 40 Move: 6 (18 flying)
DEX 20 Damage: 6d6
STR 35 HP: 60
CON 20 Armour: 8
Attacks: 2 claws @ 16 each against one or two targets, or 1 beak stab @ 21, or a grapple @ 15 (does automatic 3d6 damage) and includes the chance of being dropped from a great height.
Avoidance: 20
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 100

The giant lizard is an anachronism, a left-over from primitive times. Almost entirely extinct within the civilized world, this creature can still be found on semi-magical islands, isolated from the world. It is not impossible to tame them, to use them as mounts and load-bearers. The Giant Lizard's description is quite obvious; it is a gecko-like creature grown to immense size. Otherwise the creature is plain and has no body ornamentation or special abilities.

SIZ 40 Move: 5 (5 swimming and climbing)
DEX 12 Damage: varied
STR 40 HP: 52
CON 12 Armour: 12
Attacks: 2 slashing claws @ 12, against separate opponents, inflicting 6d6 damage, or 1 charging ram @ 17, doing 8d6 damage (12d6 if ramming the opponent into something solid, like a tree, though the Giant Lizard then takes 4d6 damage itself). When the Lizard charges no warning is given and players' actions should be consulted as if they expect the claw attacks. The Lizard hunches its body in a mere moment and then launches itself in a ram, with the entire weight of its body behind it.
Avoidance: 5
Mod. to Valorous: 0
Glory to Kill: 100

These scabrous winged beings are part human and part vulture. It is up to the GM's discretion as to whether both male and female harpies exist.
SIZ 13 Move 4 (8 flying)
DEX 18 Damage: 4d6
STR 18 HP: 28
CON 15 Armour: 6
Attacks: Harpies tend to employ bows or javelins for distance attacks @ 13, but much prefer to engage with their filthy claws, raking one opponent per round with a skill of 15.
Disease: a roll vs. CON is required to escape disease from each attack, which ages the victim three times. No matter how many times infected, the victim only suffers once.
Sig. Skills: varies, per GM's discretion or requirements.
Avoidance: 21
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 35

These enchanted guardians were well-known to old Roman sorcerers, who constructed and enspelled them in sacred temples. Immortal, these spirits can lie dormant for generations before being disturbed. They take the form of animate statues and have all the advantages and few of the disadvantages of stone.

SIZ 25 Move: 3
DEX 10 Damage: 6d6 Fist
STR 25 HP: 45
CON 20 Armour: 10
Attacks: a bludgeoning blow or stone weapon @ 16.
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 50

Also known as Men of the Bogs, these beings are another manifestation of earth-power, most common to swamp and dense forest. Moss Men appear as exactly that: humanoids devoid of features, which appear made of solid lichen and vines. Each Moss Man has an ancient skull (of an intelligent being, though not necessarily human) imbedded within it, and the ghost of such a departed spirit provides the initial burst of Life Force required to animate the Moss Man.

SIZ 15 Move: 3
DEX 10 Damage: 4d6
STR 20 HP: 35
CON 20 Armour: 4
Attacks: Moss Men tend to be unarmed, and cannot properly articulate weapons due to their mossy hands. The Moss Men do not have claws either, but bludgeon their opponents @ 18.
Unconsciousness: Moss Men have no unconsciousness limit, and must be reduced to 0 HP to be stopped.
Sig. Skills: Hunting 20; if Moss Men are evaded, they will often obsessively track their opponents, methodically and with amazing slowness. Therefore an encounter from the previous week may come back to haunt individuals later, after it has been consigned to history.
Avoidance: 10
Mod. to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 30

These scummy beings are the dread of anyone travelling through swampland. Spongy, gray-skinned beings of human size and appearance, Nicors are like water-logged Neanderthals, with vestigial suckers along the insides of their arms and across their chest. Their quasi-human faces have sunken into a disgusting sucker-like mouth long ago, with no nose, and only baleful black eyes below a heavy brow. They tend to be unarmed.

SIZ 15 Move: 3
DEX 15 Damage: 4d6
STR 15 HP: 27
CON 12 Armour: 2 + 2 (furs and rags)
Attacks: double-claw attack @ 18 (the Nicor gets to roll its skill twice and choose the best result against its opponent, though the attack is against only one opponent ever, for 4d6), one bite @ 12 for 3d6 damage, or grapple @ 30 (this is assisted by the Nicor's suckers; once grappled, the victim is usually dragged into swamp-water and
Avoidance: 5
Glory to Kill: 25

This is just one of the races of men which the famous Pliny the Elder "discovered" while "sailing" in his boat "the Poppy." Traces of this hunter-gatherer race can still be found amidst the semi-magical islands to Ireland's west and Britain's north. They appear as pale, big-boned humanoids, normal in every respect except for having their heads located in the top-half of their chest. They are generally a peaceful people and live a perilous life trying to remain in harmony with the magical/mythical beings of the islands.

SIZ 13 Move: 2
DEX 11 Damage: 4d6
STR 14 HP: 28
CON 14 Armour: 0 + 6
Attacks: Spear 14, Dagger 8
Sig. Traits: Generous 16, Prudent 14, Trusting 16, Honest 12
Sig. Passions: Loyalty (Elder) 12
Sig. Skills: Hunting 12, Fishing 16, Boating 12, Industry 12, Faerie Lore 15, First Aid 10.
Glory to Kill: 10 (but only if the People initiate the fight).

These leathery birds have two hobbies: circling active volcanoes and attacking travelers for little reason other than food. Again, these beasts are an anachronism still to be found in the islands off the west coast of Ireland.
SIZ 25 Move: 4 (12 flying)
DEX 20 Damage: 5d6
STR 18 HP: 39
CON 14 Armour: 6
Attacks: Pterodactyls generally attack with their beak @ 16, swooping down upon their prey.
Avoidance: 20
Glory to Kill: 50

RISULKI (Scandinavian Water Maiden)
Two sets of stats are provided here. The Risulki appears normally as a Russian, Finnish or Scandinavian maiden washing in a stream, and has a magical song which can instill a great desire on hapless males and females alike to share the bath. The Risulki can also transform into a gigantic amphibious fish, like a cross between a giant salmon and a claw-bearing toad (yes, ugly).
SIZ 12 Move: 4 (8 swimming)
DEX 15 Damage: 5d6*
STR 21 HP: 30
CON 18 Armour: None
APP 21
Attacks: Grapple 12, Brawl 6
*The maiden is usually unarmed, thus 2d6 must be deducted from Brawling damage.
Magic: Maiden's Song @ 25; consider this the same as Evoke Emotions (Lustful). The Song's effect lasts even if the Maiden turns into her Monster form.

SIZ 50 Move: 5 (10 swimming)
DEX 12 Damage: 10d6
STR 35 HP: 75*
CON 25 Armour: 12
*The monster has no unconsciousness statistic, and must be reduced to 0 hit points.
Attacks: The monster has a combined charge/bite attack @ 21 for full damage, or one claw @ 15 (the monster uses it's claw when it has been wounded past the point of normal unconsciousness and can no longer move swiftly).
Mod. to Valorous: -10, +10 Prudent
Glory to Kill: 350

This creature is the manifestation of a sort of Ysbryd (Nature Spirit) which usually appears to attack the unwary adventurer cutting down trees to make forts, rafts etc. It appears a green and greenery-tinged humanoid, gaunt but with immense upper body muscles. An animal's skull-like face is set with ram or bull horns, and a bull's tail hangs from scrawny withers. The Tree Spirit has long arms set with dangerous claws. It never uses weapons of its own, though it will cheerfully grab up those dropped by adventurers.

SIZ 20 Move: 4
DEX 16 Damage: 7d6
STR 25 HP: 42
CON 22 Armour: 6
Attacks: 2 claws @ 17 against one or two opponents (if 2 claws are used against one opponent and both succeed, consider the opponent grappled; it will the use its bite @15 until the opponent is dead), or any scavenged weapon @ 12. Though it is a weaker attack, Tree Spirits will opt to grab a weapon if possible.
Avoidance: 50
Mod. to Valorous: -10
Glory to Kill: 80

These kinds of Fae are water elementals that dwell predominantly in rivers and lakes. To one with the sight, they take the form of beautiful men and women in fine raiment, living out their existence horizontally in the current and tide of the water. They are capricious and can be appeased with either sacrifices or offerings, otherwise take delight in drowning riders and their horses. This is especially true if they lie in wait as guardians to a sacred place that can be found on yonder side of the water. On rare occasion, these sprites can be conversed with and even courted. Sprites have been known to give up their more base urges for a pretty song or interesting tale from a comely bard.

SIZ 10-18 Move: 4 (8 swimming)
DEX 15 Damage: varies, by weapon type.
STR 15-20 HP: 31-36
CON 16 Armour: 0 or 12 (Faerie Chainmail)
APP 16-21
Attacks: Male Water Sprites can be treated in all regards as Extraordinary Knights for their attacks. Both males and females additionally have a Grapple @ 17 with which to drown passers by. When drowning, they prefer to attack in gangs, appearing to the uninitiated as a raging current sprung from nowhere.
Sig. Skills: as appropriate.
Avoidance: 10 versus Sight
Glory to Kill: 30

A breed of Lycanthrope occurring amongst the Saxons, this man-wolf shapeshifter passes for normal most the time. In groups of Saxon raiders, the Wehr-wolf may even be an accepted member of the group, feared and respected for his (or her) obvious Otherworldly touch. The statistics given here are for an average member of the ilk, though stats may vary between individuals.

SIZ 18 Move: 5
DEX 15 Damage: 6d6 or weapon
STR 21 HP: 39
CON 16 Armour: 6 or armour and shield
Attacks: the Wehr-wolf can transform and attack as a wolf of giant kind, or partially transform and employ a claw attack @ 18, for 6d6 damage. Of course, as a berserk warrior the creature has other options also available.
Sig. Skills: Hunting 14, Awareness 12
Sig. Passions: Madness 12
Avoidance: use Hunting
Glory to Kill: 50

Wooden Men are the magical creations of Enchanters, and amongst the Fir Bolg spell-smiths are often created to assist with menial chores as well as personal protection. They are mindless except to the one who created them. They appear as a large, almost random agglomeration of wooden blocks, splinters and odds-and-ends, and are only kept together and mobile through magic.

SIZ 30* Move: 4
DEX 8 Damage: 9d6
STR 30 HP: 60
CON 30 Armour: 8**
* This SIZ rating reflects the density of the Wooden Men as well as their physical height.
**Weapons which normally gain +1d6 against shields gain this bonus against Wooden Men.
Attacks: 1 jagged wooden bludgeon @ 12
Vulnerability: Wooden Men are obviously susceptible to fire, though
they lack the intelligence to realize this.
Mod. to Valorous: -10
Glory to Kill: 100

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