Thursday, November 14, 2013

[Urbis] Monsters of the Cold Frontier, Part I

As outlined in my previous post, the native inhabitants of the Cold Frontier should not include the "common D&D races" (apart from humans) and avoid any creatures that are too closely tied to "Old World mythologies" - Europe, Asia, Africa and so forth - while anything drawn from North American mythology would be ideal. Since I am entertaining notions of eventually publishing this campaign at the moment, I also want to draw the creatures from Pathfinder canon, in particular the four Bestiaries published so far. Thus, I will go through each Bestiary in turn and see what they have.

While it is too early to come up with specific encounter tables for different terrains, I will group the creatures into four rough categories which I can build upon later:

  • Coastal: Living in the oceans or close to the shore. Will likely feature in the lifestyle of the Native coastal settlements.
  • Inland: Living away from the shores deep in the interior. May have links to the inland barbarian tribes.
  • Desolation: Living far inland in remote mountain regions where the land becomes "uncanny" and hostile. May venture further south in the winter.
  • Underground: Lives in the local "Underdark". May venture up to the surface for raids, especially at night.
With that in mind, let us start with the first Bestiary:

  • Aboleth: As aliens from the planet Calturus, they can show up pretty much anywhere on the world, and thus can fit in Underground, though likely below the Desolation.
  • Animated Object: There might be a few ruins of First City outposts that generate these for some reason. Finding out why objects become animated might be a minor plot point. It might even happen to stuff the PCs brought with them if they stay overnight!
  • Bat (Dire, Swarm): Everywhere. May be an animal totem of some of the tribes.
  • Bear (Grizzly, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Beetle, Fire: Desolation. Note that in Urbis these creatures come from the planet Surtus.
  • Black Pudding: Desolation, Underground. Another immigrant from Calturus.
  • Boar (Normal, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Cave Fisher: Underground. Might be a common feature of certain coastal caves, which the natives know to stay clear of.
  • Centipede (Giant, Swarm): Underground, Desolation.
  • Choker: Underground, Desolation. Likely a result of First City experiments.
  • Cloaker: Another immigrant from another planet, likely Calturus. Underground.
  • Crab (Giant, Swarm): Coastal. Likely an animal totem of the coastal tribes. I imagine a cave that is filled with crabs during the flood, and a rite of manhood in a nearby coastal tribe involves staying inside for the duration - and (male) outsiders trying to impress the tribe may be asked to undergo the same ritual. Of course, they won't be secretly handed the tribe's crab repellant tincture, but if they manage to stay inside nonetheless they will impress the tribe.
  • Dark Mantle: Another Calturus native. Underground.
  • Dolphin (Common, Orca): Coastal. Likely an animal totem of the coastal tribes.
  • Doppelganger: An interesting case, as these beings are currently manufactured by the city-state of Bargeto. But the Bargeto entry mentions that they rediscovered how to create these beings - so where did they learn it from? I can picture it now, the PCs stumbling across a First City or even a Prehuman ruin and finding an old, enchanted tank with a large, milky-white blog suspended in an unknown fluid. As they approach, the blob reacts to their presence and gradually forms limbs... eventually taking on a humanoid shape similar to their own.
  • Dragon (Chromatic, White): Desolation for the older ones, Inland for the younger ones - the younger white dragons will be driven south by their older and more powerful peers. As the younger ones are still inexperienced, they will likely observe and stalk the party for quite some time before attacking them - preferably in an ambush.
  • Eagle (Common, Giant): Coastal, Inland. Likely to be an animal totem to both the inland and coastal tribes. One of the tribes will have trained/befriended a group of Giant Eagles, and they consider themselves the protectors / scouts of the other coastal tribes, warning them against hordes of monsters, inland tribes and whatnot. They will often be found circling overhead in the coastal regions, watching the PCs.
  • Elephant (shaggy woolly mammoth): Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Froghemoth: Inland. Likely from the planet Yethrod.
  • Gelatinous Cube: Underground, Prehuman ruins.
  • Ghost: Eveywhere, but especially Desolation where they will often be based on rather alien base creatures.
  • Ghoul: Desolation, Underground. Famous bogeymen to the tribes. Possibly remnants of what destroyed the ancestors of the coastal tribes.
  • Gibbering Mouther: Underground, Desolation. Likely has some link with either First City or Prehuman ruins.
  • Golem (Ice): Someone produces these things, and they shamble across the frozen wastes. Perhaps the PCs will learn their origin.
  • Gray Ooze: Inland marshes, Desolation, Underground. Another immigrant from Calturus.
  • Herd Animal, Bison: Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Intellect Devourer: Possibly found in some First City ruins.
  • Invisible Stalker: Desolation.
  • Kraken: Maybe a long-term menace threatening the coastal tribes and the coastal colony.
  • Lycanthrope, Werewolf: This form of Lycantropy may run in some of the inland tribes.
  • Merfolk: Coastal. May trade with one of the coastal tribes for pearls and whatnot. The PCs might discover that trade and attempt to muscle in.
  • Mimic: Underground, Desolation, possibly the same ruins where the Doppelgangers can be found.
  • Mite: Underground.
  • Morlock: Underground. Will likely be called something else by the native tribes, and feared as monsters who emerge from the depths of the earth to steal and murder.
  • Neothelid: Desolation.
  • Octopus (Common, Giant): Coastal. Likely a totem animal to the coastal tribes, and one of them might have a giant octopus as a village guardian. Contrary to what the PCs might expect, that tribe is not evil.
  • Otyugh: Underground. Immigrant from Yethrod.
  • Owlbear: Inland.
  • Purple Worm: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Remorhaz: Desolation. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Rhinoceros, Woolly: Inland. Likely an totem animal to the inland tribe. And isn't a herd of these animals thundering across the tundra an awesome image?
  • Roper: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Calturus.
  • Rust Monster: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Sahuagin: Coastal. They will initially be confined to the deeper oceans (and the native fishers know which regions to stay clear of), but may venture closer to the coast if the increased traffic to the trading outpost disturbs them.
  • Sea Serpent: Coastal. There should likely be a single sea serpent of note with its own nickname.
  • Shark (Common, Dire): Coastal. Likely an animal totem to the coastal tribes.
  • Skum: Possibly Underground, but if I use them I will do away with the "rape human women to procreate" aspect.
  • Spider (Giant, Swarm): Underground, Desolation.
  • Squid (Common, Giant): Coastal. As they are linked to the Kraken, they are considered evil by the Natives, and are not considered a totem animal.
  • Treant: Inland. Likely a problem for the timber needs of the growing colony. The treants might even gather to a moot.
  • Troglodyte: Underground. Perhaps they were the original builders of the Prehuman ruins?
  • Vampire: May arrive with the colonists. One might also be a survivor from the previous colonization wave, 250 years ago.
  • Vegepygmy: Underground. Likely the result of a First City experiment.
  • Violet Fungus: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Yethrod.
  • Will-O'-Wisp: Inland. Possibly another remnant of the great disaster that killed the ancestors of the coastal tribes.
  • Wolf (Common, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Wolverine (Common, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Wyvern: Inland.
  • Yellow Musk Creeper: Inland, Underground. I imagine these beings are a regular plague in certain region, going dormant during the cold of winter. Most of their musk zombies will be animals.
  • Yeti: Desolation. I especially like their "guardians against uncanny things" aspect, which I will probably use in some way.
To be continued...