Friday 19 June 2015

D&D Monsters from improbable sources 1: Poems by eighteenth-century schoolboys

'Sudden deep-groan'd the yawning earth;
A ghastly Phantom rear'd his head!
Grim Tart'rus gave the monster birth;
On his torn breast the Vulture fed.

His eyeballs flash'd with livid fire:
The sad shrill shriek discordant broke!
The furies all the Fiend inspire!
His black lips trembling, thus he spoke...'

These lines come from a poem called The Fate of Lewellyn, or, The Druid's Sacrifice, written in 1777 by a seventeen-year-old British schoolboy. It demonstrates conclusively that seventeen-year-old boys have been the same throughout history, and are genetically programmed to think that monsters that look like they've escaped from the covers of old heavy metal albums are really, really cool.

Still, though... a black-lipped phantom with flaming eyeballs that bursts out of the earth with a vulture eating its guts is pretty fucking metal. I mean, was the vulture down there underground with it the whole time, or what? How did it breathe? No-one gives a fuck. There's something kinda charming about that.

So, with no further ado:

  • Black-Lipped Phantom: AC 16, 4 HD, +4 to hit, 2 claws (1d8 damage) or 1 fire-blast (2d6 damage), saves 10, morale 12, special attacks: shriek, gut vulture. Regenerates 2 HP per round whilst underground.

The Black-Lipped Phantom is a demonic undead monster born from the spirits of those who die raging against their fates. Their rage is so intense that it traps their spirits in their bodies. Gradually their anger takes physical form within them, in the shape of a single huge black egg nestled deep in their guts. If, at this stage, someone digs up the corpse, pulls out the egg, and smashes it, then their spirit will chill the fuck out and proceed to the afterlife. If this doesn't happen, however, then the egg will hatch into a grotesque vulture-thing, made of anger and shadows, which tears ceaselessly at their regenerating guts in a constant enactment of their endless rage.


Black-Lipped Phantoms lurk under the ground in the soil where they were buried. (If no-one buried them, they dig themselves into the ground as soon as they become animate.) Animals can sense their presence and refuse to go anywhere near them unless forced. Whenever any living creature approaches their grave, they will 'swim' through the soil towards it (at normal human walking pace) and then burst up right in front of their victim, with a 5-in-6 chance of causing surprise. As they do so, they will emit a shriek of such ear-splitting volume that anyone who hears it must make a saving throw or be struck deaf for the next 1d6 hours. Also the vulture flies out of their guts and starts eating people: being made of shadows it can't be harmed in any way, ignores armour, and will happily rip away at its chosen victim for 1d2 damage per round. It cannot go more than 10' from the phantom (to which it remains attached by a tether made of entrails), and will vanish if the phantom is killed.

In combat, the phantom will attack either with its two claws (1d8 damage each) or by emitting blasts of livid fire from its eyeballs (2d6 damage, 15' range). As it fights, it will rage and gibber about how much it hates everything and how everyone deserves to die. If 'killed' it sinks into the soil and starts regenerating, but it (and its vulture) will remain comatose until it is fully regenerated. If dug up and burned during this time, it can be gotten rid of for good.

Despite their hatred of all life, Black-Lipped Phantoms have an overwhelming, irrational fear of teenage girls, and will not attack any party which contains one.

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