Splatter-Elf Week Day 6: Monsters - Dragons, Trolls & Undead Unicorns

So we come to the end of Splatter Elf Week here on Rule of the Dice. We've talked about how to make a character, how to fight, how to cast spells, among other things. But on this final day of our introduction to the Game That is Grimmer Than Grimdark, we needed to give you something to fight against: some monsters!

(Okay, in truth you can just as easily fight and kill the other player characters - in fact I'm sure this will happen pretty frequently)

Below are four iconic monsters at four fairly different levels of power. Game masters in Splatter-Elf should feel free to tweak or create characters as they see fit, and not feel constrained by what's published in a book or on this website. These monsters should be weird and strange, preferably violent and terrifying. Modify or build whatever you need to scare your players. It's your game - make it as weird, creepy and bloody as you need it to be.

So what did you think about Splatter-Elf? Is this a game you see some promise in, something you may like to play one day? Or was this all just a silly waste of time? Comments and discussion are appreciated!

As usual of course, I have to give a shout out to the Godfather of the Splat: Phil the Drill, I mean, Philip Overby!

Troll, Garden

Art by Tara Larsen Chang
Level 2 (15 hit points)
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall
Organization: Family or clan (2-12)
Movement: 25’ (5 squares)
AC +3
Fort +3
Ref +1
Will +1
Intelligence: Low (3)
Skills: Skullduggery 4
Attacks: Bite or club with fists/head (+3 damage)
Special: Stony flesh – Garden trolls have a natural DR of 2; Burrowing ambush (see below); Stone shape (see below)
XP Value: 50

Cave trolls are powerful and ferocious. Mountain trolls are enormous and a threat to entire kingdoms. Garden trolls are annoying as all get out, but they are dangerous.

Often mistaken as ugly lawn ornaments, it is often too late – when the gardener goes to investigate the mysterious decoration they don’t remember putting there – before victims learn the truth. Garden trolls are stupid and cruel beasts that attack and kill living creatures for the sheer pleasure of it. They subsist on dirt and rocks, they don’t actually need to kill for sustenance.

Garden trolls will attack small groups of human-sized creatures without a second thought, but will not attack anything larger unless the target seems injured or particularly weak, nor will they attack groups that outnumber them. Though they are aggressive they are also cowardly; garden trolls will attempt to flee if met with strong resistance, or if at least half their number suffers serious injury.

Garden trolls turn to stone during daylight hours. Whenever possible, they like to pose as gargoyles or lawn ornaments to hide themselves during the day, or they may burrow underground if no appropriate hiding locations exist. When they are in their stone shape, they are helpless and unable to move or attack however their damage reduction increases to 4.

When hunting, garden trolls like to burrow into the soft soil of gardens and farms and jump out to surprise unwary travelers. If their prey is not actively searching for them, they receive a -2 penalty to their Acuity scores on their surprise checks.

Feral Dragonspawn

Level 6 (35 hit points)
Size: 6’ long/tall
Organization: Pack (6-12)
Movement: 40’ (8 squares)
Attack +6
AC +6
Fort +3
Ref +3
Will +3
Intelligence: Animal  (1)
Skills: Bushwhacker 8, Acuity 6
Attacks: Bite (7 damage) or two claws (4 damage each)
Special: Furious Assault – may bite AND make two claw attacks against the same or adjacent targets, though each attack is at +3 to hit instead of +6; Acid Blood (see below)
XP Value: 500

Usually, when a dragon bitch lays and subsequently abandons a clutch of eggs, the hatchlings are left to fight amongst themselves. Only the strongest will survive and prosper by killing and consuming its brethren. On occasion however, the hatchlings do not attempt to slaughter each other but instead work together to survive (usually if there’s an immediate and far easier source of food), and the results of which bring misery and destruction to the surrounding lands.

Feral Dragonspawn are young, immature dragons who hunt together in packs of 6-12.  Though they do not have the full strength and powers of a mature dragon, their pack mentality and vicious nature more than make for it.

Dragonspawn have powerful legs, and will often rise up on their hind legs to run and fight, leaving their front claws free to slash and tear. A popular method of attack against a large group of foes is for a single dragonspawn to charge their prey, attacking violently and without provocation, allowing their companions to sneak up behind the group.  If facing a smaller group or single victim, the dragonspawn will all attempt to attack from hiding.

Dragonspawn are omnivores and will eat absolutely anything, though they prefer fresh meat and blood. If hungry, they will attack anything, even creatures much larger than themselves.

The blood of dragonspawn, like all dragons, is acidic and poisonous. Weapons and armour that are not cleaned immediately after battle with a dragonspawn will dissolve and become uselessly within 10+1d12 minutes. Against flesh, the blood burns far more rapidly.  Anyone who injures a dragonspawn with a melee weapon and is not wearing armour suffers a +4 attack vs Fortitude for 3 damage.

Art by KEKSE0719

Mature Dragon

Level 15 (160 hit points)
Size: 60 to 100 feet long
Organization: Solitary
Movement: 30’ (6 squares)
Attack +12
AC +12
Fort +9
Ref +9
Will +9
Intelligence: Animal (1)
Skills: Acuity 12
Attacks: Bite (12 damage) and tail sweep (6 damage + knockdown to all targets in a 20x20 foot area, attacks against Reflex). The dragon cannot target the same creatures with both the bite and tail sweep on the same round.
Special: Fire Breath – Attack +8 vs Reflex (25 fire damage) to an area 30x50 feet.  On a miss the victim still takes 10 damage;  Acid blood (see below); Furious Assault (useable once every three rounds) – The dragon may 2 bite attacks AND a tail sweep against the same or different targets; Regeneration – The dragon regains 5 hit points every turn up to its maximum; Hard scales – a mature dragon as a natural DR of 3.
XP Value: 11,000

Full-grown dragons are mindless engines of destruction. They sleep for months or even years, hidden deep underground or in the craters of volcanos. The area around their resting places can be spotted fairly easily by those who know what they’re looking for, as the land is usually tainted by their presence, with wilted vegetation and few animals, as creatures instinctively try to avoid their presence.

When a dragon grows hungry enough and wakes, woe to the surrounding countryside. A hungry dragon will raze the land for leagues around, consuming anything and everything it can.  For one to two weeks, the dragon will wreck havoc by burning down villages and farms, eating anything that moves, and destroying forests and fields for the sheer thrill of it. Once it has satiated itself, the dragon will return to its lair (or another, if it finds a better locale during its rampage) and slumber again for 4d12 months.

It is possible, though very difficult, to wake a dragon before its due time.  If wakened earlier, the dragon is even angrier and violent than usual, and will go on a rampage for 2-3 days in an all-out binge of destruction.  During such waking periods the dragon’s Attack and AC are increased to +15, and it may breathe fire every ten minutes instead of once an hour.

The blood of dragons is acidic and poisonous. Weapons and armour that are not cleaned immediately after battle with a dragon will dissolve and become useless within 10+1d12 minutes. Against flesh, the blood burns far more rapidly.  Anyone who injures a dragon with a melee weapon and is not wearing armour suffers a +6 attack vs Fortitude for 5 damage.

Dragons go through very different life stages as they age and mature. Young dragons (see Feral Dragonspawn, above) have long powerful limbs and can run very quickly. During “puberty,” the dragons grow wings and take to the sky. As they mature and grow ever larger, they lose their wings and their limbs become shorter and stubbier, barely able to support their growing mass. There are unconfirmed rumours of very old and ancient dragons, 3-5 times larger than the mature specimen described here, that have no legs at all but instead travel like a snake or giant worm. It is believed that they sleep for hundreds of years between feedings, and when they become active can decimate entire countries before returning to the earth.

Undead Unicorn, Lesser

Art by scenceable
4 (25 hit points)
Size: 5 feet tall at shoulder
Organization: Solitary or pair
Movement: 40’ (8 squares)
AC +4
Fort +3
Ref +3
Will +4
Intelligence: Good (7)
Skills: Calisthenics 8
Attacks: Bite (3 damage); OR Horn stab (6 damage); OR Trample (7 damage)
Special: Charge – If the unicorn makes a charge attack it may both stab with its horn AND trample against the same target; Poison – see below; Blink step – May teleport up to 20’ (4 squares) as a move action; Undead – Does not eat, sleep or breathe, immune to charm and sleep spells
XP Value: 500

The Brotherhood of Nihilism, a cabal of dark necromancers, plot in their secluded towers and hidden strongholds, experimenting with and creating all manner of undead equine monstrosities. The have created hideous versions of horses, ponies, asses, mules and even pegasus, though the crowning achievement and goal of their order is to create the perfect undead unicorn. Due to the unicorn’s pure and magical nature, it is very difficult to turn one properly, though that doesn’t keep the Brothers from trying. Legend says the Wall of Dead Unicorns in the southern end of Groteskia is the result of thousands of years of their failed experiments.

Sometimes the magic sort of takes but leaves the unicorn twisted and malformed. These monsters are not discarded but instead set loose upon the world as a warning to other equines (what, exactly, the Brotherhood is trying to prove with these threats is a secret to their twisted sense of humour). These lesser undead unicorns are tortured and in constant pain, angry and violently aggressive. They will lash out and attack anything that approaches them.

Undead unicorns despise bright light and will only come out at night. They can see perfectly in darkness. If they encounter bright light (not just torches but magically-bright illumination), they suffer -1 to all their rolls and cannot use their blink step ability. Their horns are poisonous and anyone who takes damage from the horn suffers  a secondary attack (+4 vs Fortitude). If hit, the victim is poisoned and suffers -1 to all rolls due to fever, chills and racking pain. The victim will lose 1 hit point every hour until cured or dead. Magical healing may restore the hit point loss, but the victim will not be rid of the poison until it is specifically neutralized with magic or an antidote.


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