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…

 

X- Bestiary: Doppelgänger

The Bestiary: where I take monsters from the manual and explain them my way… (1)

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In the aftermath of the Sycophants’ Plot, the trials (read gruesome torture) showed to the world the existence of the doppelgängers. The monsters had slowly replaced most of the entourage of the Last Emperor, leading to many damaging decisions in the City, as the Ruler hadn’t received wise counsel for quite some time.

While incapable of good counsel and not incredibly intelligent, the doppelgängers are crafty creatures in their own way. Here’s what we know about them:

  • They’re capable of great bursts of activity (all very inefficient) if it helps them sit on their asses afterward.
  • They never acknowledge failure but are quick to point the finger at someone else.
  • They also excel at not being there.
  • They can’t decide anything, ever, but will gladly takes credit for someone else’s idea/action.
  • They don’t take part in any kind of debate, they have no opinions whatsoever, unless they can flatter some higher-up.

When you see all this, you can bet that you are not dealing with a human being, oh no, could anyone be so absolutely obnoxious? No no no. No! These shapeshifting, two-faced, selfish scumbags are mediocre at best at everything EXCEPT at finding themselves a perfectly parasitic way of life. They’ll bully or suck-up, cajole and accuse, murder even, all in order to obtain the most while doing the less (2).

 

  1. This one I dedicate to all the spineless fucks that, I wish, weren’t simply sad specimen of humanity.
  2. Doppelgängers kill people and steal their life, how come they are Neutral in the MM 5E? I say they are Lazy Evil.

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…

VIII- Bestiary: 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.

V-Bestiary: 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 fancies 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!

IV- Bestiary: Myconids

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Myconids In SiT! They’re street cleaners, removing offal, dejections, basically any organic waste. Sometimes they get a little less discriminatory about the unmoving quality of their sweepings.

That’s something I came with while reading Jeff Vandermeer’s book:

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What I’m stealing for my setting is only the cruder idea of the Gray Caps of Vandermeer, whom aren’t even mushroom creatures as such, but are fuzzily described as smaller humanoids with a weird civilization based on advanced fungi technology.

The total creepiness and sinister threat of the Gray Caps I leave out, only because it won’t do thematically for my setting, but it was a very good read!