A note on Myconids

27. sovereign basidia (2015) - out of the abyss

I don’t think I’ve ever used myconids, but that’s something I want to remediate soon enough. However, if I were to stick to D&D canon lore (which I won’t), myconids are supposed to be found exclusively in the underdark, the subterranean world home to the iconic drow. This was set in stone, so to speak, by Gary Gigax’s D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1e), which of course, borrowed heavily on established hollow earth fiction. More to the point, Gigax also borrowed the myconids, which were created (as far as I know) in the earlier module  A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, where there was no need to have the fungus men’s ecology so constrained.

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Leaving the myconids out of most of the more typical (surface) encounters is both sad and needless, in my opinion. Put in any setting, the potential is just mind-blowing…

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Deathbloom Thallid (MtG), perfect for a Chult campaign conversion

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Demon of the Flower, Flower-Women Vampires and Pterodactyl Sorcerers

I’ve read some of Clark Ashton Smith recently to see if could steal some ideas for my D&D Ruins of Chult campaign. I don’t know if I’ll be using any of it but here’s some cool stuff nonetheless:

The Voorqual

The demon flower sprang from a bulb so encrusted with the growth of ages that it resembled a stone urn. Above this there rose the gnarled and mighty stalk that had displayed in earlier times the bifurcation of a mandrake, but whose halves had now grown together into a scaly, furrowed thing like the tail of some mythic sea-monster. The stalk was variegated with hues of greening bronze, of antique copper, with the livid blues and purples of fleshly corruption. It ended in a crown of stiff, blackish leaves, banded and spotted with poisonous, metallic white, and edged with sharp serrations as of savage weapons. From below the crown issued a long, sinuous arm, scaled like the main stem, and serpentining downward and outward to terminate in the huge upright bowl of a bizarre blossom — as if the arm, in sardonic fashion, should hold out a hellish beggar’s cup.

The Demon of the Flower by Clark Ashton Smith

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Epic drawing from Raphael Ordonez

An immortal demon-possessed plant/flower, the Voorqual has its own priesthood tasked of bringing it human sacrifices. Killing a Voorqual is seemingly impossible, the only way is with a rare poison and even then, the demon-spirit inhabiting the plant can jump on another being that, in time, will be transformed in another Voorqual  (in the meanwhile a possessed human looks like a corrupted dryad, isn’t that cool?).

D&D use: A high level Boss fight. And the poison, necessary to have any kind of hope of defeating it, is a quest in itself, of course.

The Flower-Women

Maal Dweb approached the flower-women with a certain caution; for he knew that they were vampires. Their arms ended in long tendrils, pale as ivory, swifter and more supple than the coils of darting serpents, with which they were wont to secure the unwary victims drawn by their singing. Of course, knowing in his wisdom the inexorable laws of nature, he felt no disapproval of such vampirism; but, on the other hand, he did not care to be its object.

The Flower-Women by Clark Ashton Smith

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A strange mix of siren, plant and vampire, the Flower-Women, interestingly, are victims in the tale that presents them. Indeed, the pterodactylesque Ispazars capture and mash the poor bloodsucking Flower-Women to use as ingredients for their fell sorcery.

D&D use: They have a lurid song as the harpies but stronger (even the very powerful Maal Dweb has a tough time resisting it), they can grapple and they should have regenerate but they’re not very mobile and have the other usual plant vulnerabilities (fire at least, perhaps necrotic).

Pterodactyl Sorcerers

The depredators were certain reptilian beings, colossal in size and winged like pterodactyls, who came down from their new-built citadel among the mountains at the valley’s upper extreme. These beings, known as the Ispazars, seven in number, had become formidable sorcerers and had developed an intellection beyond that of their kind, together with many esoteric faculties. Preserving the cold and evilly cryptic nature of reptiles, they had made themselves the masters of an abhuman science.

The Flower-Women by Clark Ashton Smith

I wish WotC had used some of that for Tomb of Annihilation…

They came toward him among the crowded vessels, walking erect in the fashion of men on their short lizard legs, their ribbed and sabled wings retracted behind them, and their eyes glaring redly in the gloom. Two of them were armed with long, sinuous-bladed knives; and others were equipped with enormous adamantine pestles, to be employed, no doubt, in bruising the flesh of the floral vampire.

The Flower-Women by Clark Ashton Smith

D&D use: Yes! Some of the pterafolks of Chult will be admantine-pestles-brandishing magic-users…

 

IX- Bestiary: Galeb Duhr

The Bestiary: where I take monsters from the manual and explain them my way… 

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A Galeb Duhr typically come into existence, however briefly, in the aftermath of a brutal street fight that saw a lot of brick/pavement throwing. It’s supposed that the creature’s existence – formed from the very stuff that litters the street – is a defense mechanism set in motion by the ambient angst and the City’s magic.

Most of the time, the Galeb Dhur brutalize some of the nearby offenders and then simply resume its inert state. Sometimes though, it lingers and endangers until forcefully put to rest…

Freshwater Dragon Turtle

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The freshwater dragon turtle is a lot smaller than its oceanic cousin. Many of these beasts have found their way in the canals of the City where they seem satisfied to operate as living rafts, transporting both people and merchandises, for a fee. Being as intelligent (int: 10) as their gargantuan relatives, these dragon turtles accept partnerships with a “pilot” (that don’t have any piloting to do) who will negociate fees and seek clients, for everyone’s convenience.

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Approaching their nesting sites, at the bottom of the Sacred Lake, is a sure way to be attacked by these otherwise peaceful creatures.

The freshwater dragon turtle is of huge size, is CR 6 (compared to 17) and  steam breath is very rarely exhibited amongst them.

Cosmopolitan dryad

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Far from the primeval forest of its youth, amidst the housings and the bustling urban activity, lives a strange creature: a cosmopolitan dryad. The most surprising thing? It chose to be there…

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Of course, it could have had a better tree in the wild. But the crazyness of the crowd, the thousands of overheard tidbits of gossip, even the occasional surge of violence, this dryad loves it all!

Sometimes an unfolding event catch its fancy so much that it overcomes its usual shyness and asks a friendly-looking passerby about it. It rewards interesting information with some of its tree’s deliciously invigorating oranges.

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Unrelated, but cool!