Monday, December 14, 2020

10 Bestiary Entries

 @DeeEmSteve of Asians Represent gave my post on monsters a shout-out on an actual WotC stream, and I feel compelled to burn all of this mainstream success in a pyre on a severe time delay, in an overly-ambitious post that mostly spins circles and accomplishes nothing.

So that's precisely what I'm going to do. 

I have a reputation to uphold.

This post has gone through an immense number of revisions and scattered thoughts and will assuredly not be the last time I delve into my thoughts regarding bestiaries and magical creatures. There is at least one other post in this, maybe two and potentially even three. For now, it's just going to be ten creatures (pulled from a much larger list) written up in a format that I consider more in line with what i want out of a bestiary (sans art, editing, and probably a total overhaul).

That's the thing, innit? Find a good idea you like and you drive yourself mad in the editing.

Agnathic Master

Enormous jawless fish, completely blind. Osteocoderms that grew to intelligence, then to mastery of the magical arts, and finally to the cold detachment of the immortal. Consider themselves the summit of earthy life, and will use their considerable arcane power to mentally dominate and enslave life within their domain. When they consider humans at all, it is as a convenient pack of monkeys to enthrall as part of their eternal game of 5D speed chess against the Elders, Mi-Go, Yith-spirits, and each other.

They've survived four mass extinctions so far, and they will assuredly survive the fifth.

  • Habitat: The abyssal ocean or cthonic water bodies.
  • Behavior: Expansion of personal territory, projection of power against other beings.
  • Interactions: It is immensely unlikely for players to ever encounter an Agnathic Master directly. Instead, they are much more likely to come across a settlement either under the thrall of a Master (and thus working on a project of the Great Game), or the ruins of such a settlement after it was either dismantled by an enemy or abandoned after its success. Such settlements will be characterized by intrusive, alien architecture of no apparent outward purpose that lights up like the Trinity Test to Detect Magic.


Ancient, inbred nobility of misty kingdoms beneath the hills and beyond the grip of time. Translucent, blue-veined skin stretched painfully over thin bones. Eyes of solid black. Obsessed with minute laws and decrees, and delight in the cruel punishment of infractions. They come to steal children, replacing them with simulacrums. They hate iron, fire, writing and song, and seek to erase all four from the hearts and minds of men.

  • Habitat: Entrances to the Courts may technically be found anywhere in the world, but the Alfar prefer to emerge in cold, wet environments. They will avoid areas of high population density, especially if they have been consistently inhabited for long periods of time, though the only way to completely block their entry is high industrialization, which brings with it its own problems.
  • Behavior: The cruelty is the point. They destroy lives for their own fleeting amusement. The tradition of stealing and replacing children began purely as a way to cause grief for individual families - the community paranoia and the subsequent murder of neurodivergent children was, for them, an unseen but welcome bonus.
  • Interactions: Either the alfar have chosen a victim to torment, or a victim has stumbled into their grasp. For the former, they prefer to gradually strip a victim of their health, resources, relationships, and mental state until they are destitute in all categories. They will go out of their way to prevent the victim's death until the very end, to stretch out the entertainment as long as possible. For the latter, they will typically enforce some geas or other entrapment on the victim before they go back out into the world. Sometimes they will offer the victim a deal to escape their conditions - the terms will be lengthy, labyrinthine, airtight, impossible, and binding. If a loophole can be found, they will be forced to cede the case. They will not like this. They will remember it.


A bovine with curling horns like a ram and a long, red-brown mane. When startled or threatened it will violently expel burning feces at the threat while making its escape, a trait which makes them unpopular animals on the whole but very useful when it comes time to fertilize a field.

  • Habitat: Temperate and subtropical grasslands when wild; any when domesticated.
  • Behavior: As typical of a grazing animal. Skittish and not generally fond of humans.
  • Interactions: Meat tastes of slightly gamey beef. Leather is heat-resistant. Feces are flammable even when wet. Can be weaponized if a player character decides they want to try the ginger trick.

Mari Lwyd

A spirit of midwinter, manifesting as a tall figure in a white robe with a skeletal horse's head. Will appear at the door of the home and demand in song a gift of alcohol and food, and will only depart if the inhabitants of the home can out-sing it - otherwise, it will continue until either dawn arrives or patience runs out.

  • Habitat: Winter holidays - Yule, Saturnalia, Midwintermas, Hogswatch, etc.
  • Behavior: Despite its frightening appearance, it is harmless and filled with good cheer. It desires only booze and snacks. Actual singing ability varies by individual spirit.
  • Interactions: If the players have any holiday cheer in them at all, they are a wonderful excuse to go carousing and to roll upon the tables of "what the hell did I do last night when I was drunk?"


Ratty red-brown fur smeared in shit. Fingernails curved like snail shells. Teeth set in gums like maggots in a side of beef. Crusty black eyes, dribbling snot and spit. An amygdala-dominated brain with a stunted neocortex flooded with testosterone. Everything bad about great apes with none of the good parts.

  • Habitat: Any temperate, subtropical, or tropical environment. Prefer high hills or mountainous regions.
  • Behavior: Typically lurk in their hideaways until struck by a fit of frenzy, when the pack will sweep down from their caves and nests and visit ruin on the countryside. What they can kill, they will kill. What they can eat, they will eat. What they can break, they will break. They show no partiality. If they can't kill, eat, or wreck, they will do their best to injure, gnaw at, and damage.
  • Interactions: The true threat of cacopithici is memetic. Populations beset by cacopithici packs will find themselves vulnerable to increased xenophobia and aggression towards their neighbors triggered by the presence of creatures so closely related to humanity that are so foul without any evil influence.


A humanoid shaped out of clay, animated by divine power through the ritual intermediation of a priest. Being an imitation of the creation of man, as made by a less-skilled craftsman, golems do not possess volition or speech (though a golem developing these traits over time is not out of the question, especially if there is an important moral lesson to be taught.)

  • Habitat: Localized to the area of its creation, unless otherwise directed.
  • Behavior: A golem's actions are determined by the animating words engraved upon them, and they will carry out those actions until redirected, disassembled, or they come into volition. Typically they will be used as laborers or guardians. A golem whose words have worn down or been improperly altered will go rampant. Emancipated golems, whether by their creator or though happenstance, will typically settle down to peaceful, contemplative existences, often attaching themselves to a family or community.
  • Interactions: A golem may be reduced to dust by the removal of the animating word engraved upon it. Rampant golems whose priests are long dead are typically reason to call in aid from specialist priests and their retinues. The creation of a golem is a difficult process, but within the capabilities of player characters who have sought out an appropriate teacher or tome.


Hairless, scabrous grey humanoids. Nocturnal corpse-eaters. Either emaciated or corpulent.

  • Habitat: Undercities, catacombs, the tunnels beneath battlefields, cemeteries, and abattoirs.
  • Behavior: Generally solitary, though larger packs can form with an abundance of food. No fear of death or age (as neither applies), a purely sarkic view of other beings (that is, you are not a person, but a piece of meat engaged in a temporary period of animation), and an unshakably gluttonous worldview. Will enter a state of estivation if the local corpse supply is low.
  • Interactions: Typically the first sapient inhabitants of the underground players would encounter, and generally one of the safer ones. While not particularly friendly on their own, they are willing to trade just about anything - information, access, items, spells, services - in exchange for corpses. Fresh preferred over rotten, mummified desired above all.


An entity of unknown countenance, recorded only as the growing paranoia of, and thereafter the absolute assurance of, the presence of a dangerous being just beyond perception and drawing ever closer.

  • Habitat: Mazes, labyrinths, dungeons, liminal spaces - any enclosed area where it is easy to become lost and isolated. 
  • Behavior: N/A - [minotaurs], being an effect without cause (as best they are understood by scholars), cannot be said to have patterns of behavior.
  • Interactions: Individuals under the sway of a [minotaur] will become increasingly paranoid that they are being stalked, and will descend into increasingly irrational behaviors in attempts to escape whatever structure they are within. They will lash out at companions and attempt to split away from groups, but will find themselves incapable of successfully navigating the structure. This effect had led to reports that a [minotaur] can expand and reorient its host structure in violation of mundane physics, though these reports have all been made by individuals under the mental influence of a [minotaur] at the time of observation.


Beings of primordial fire, servants of the now-deceased Monad. Angels Their ranks have been split into three factions since the breaking of the throne and the vacating of heaven: the apostoloi, who hold on to their duties as messengers of divine will and enforcers of Law; the egregoroi, who have dispersed through the world and adopted mortal communities to lead and teach in secrecy; the hylics, who have descended utterly into the pleasures of flesh and matter.

An angel outside of their body is indistinguishable from a small nuclear explosion that can talk.

  • Habitat: The ruins of heaven: else, scattered throughout the world.
  • Behavior: Obsessive and absolutist, each angel is gripped by a catastrophic existential crisis now that God is dead, which they will seek to fill with varying degrees of success and desperation. Those that have failed to rediscover and purpose will decay into singularities of despair, unable to die and unwilling to act. 
  • Interactions: 
    • Apostoloi have precious few messages to share anymore (save the equivalent of the divine lost letter office), and so will typically be found punishing mortals for violations of the Law as they knew it in the days Heaven was intact. They do not respond well to insinuations that circumstances might have changed.
    • Egregoroi keep to themselves (as their existence is loathed by both other parties), tending to their isolated communities but not always quite understanding that folks might have moved beyond the need for continued instruction in firemaking, ironworking, astronomy and cosmetics. Still, some have valuable secrets to teach (fragments of the Imperishable Name, typically) and their flocks will tend to them long after they have run out of things to teach, out of gratitude for a better than odds chance at good harvests and safe childbirths.
    • Hylics spend their time feasting, fucking, fighting, and overall trying to numb themselves into forgetting what they have lost. They favor large cities, preferably ones steeped in wealth and a certain amount of societal corruption, to home their courts.


Inhabitants of the planet Mars, come to Earth as part of a failed invasion. The Martian Masters proved susceptible to Earth bacteria, and with the leadership of the invasion force so decapitated, the enslaved Red and Green Martians  

  • Red Martians are the most numerous and the most akin to humans. They possess sleek rust-red and tawny fur and a thick layer of blubber to insulate against the cold.
  • Green Martians possess four arms, pale green skin, shaggy white hair, and prominent tusks.
  • Master Martians are the rarest: huge black cephalopods with bioluminescent, lanternlike eyes. They are of a much older lineage than the Red and Green Martians, almost a parallel of the Agnathic Masters in outlook (though not in power).

Martians born on Earth are better adapted to lower climes and higher gravity, and are shorter and more muscular than their Barsoomian cousins, though they still overheat easily and tend towards health issues in the heart, bones, and joints.

  • Habitat: The lowlands and canal-country of the planet Mars. On Earth, they are limited to mountains and the high steppe, where the temperatures and air pressure are more to their liking.
  • Behavior: Most Red Martians have found themselves liberated from their enslavers, and so have begun to rebuild their civilization through the cultural fragments that they kept alive. Green Martians have maintained the martial culture imparted to them by the Masters, though now for their own glory. Master Martians are distant, dispassionate, and cruel - they consider other beings to be possessions at best, and meat the rest of the time. They stew in their sterile saltwater tanks, attended to by their few remaining captives. Consumed by hate, but impotent.
  • Interactions: Red Martians have adapted best to life on Earth - one can visit their mountainside cities, and find it no more disconcerting than any other foreign culture. Warbands of Green Martians ride across the high steppe on their thoats, raiding and plundering neighboring settlements and each other. The frozen fortresses of the Master Martians contain vast (though well guarded) treasure vaults, containing pristine artifacts of their ancient dynasties. Broken remnants of the invasion can still be found on the black markets around their invasion sites: stunted red weed plants, black smoke canisters, and scavenged mechanisms from tripods war-machines.


  1. The cacopithicus is my own, the angels are clearly taking K6BD inspiration, and the [Minotaur] is straight from House of Leaves.

    Agnathic Master is just a way, way better name than aboleth.

    1. And, of course, the Martians are equal parts Burroughs and Wells, the Alfar exaggerations of their traditional traits with perhaps a touch of Pratchett.

    2. Cacopithicus is an excellent name

  2. My favourite are the martians. Bonnacons a close second. I know what the ginger trick is but I don't know how I know it. A frightening thought.

    I like the bite-size format & emphasis on non-stat/mechanic-based interactions and will be taking it for future monster posts. Mine will likely add particular reaction roll results, 1d10 dreadful schemes of the aboleth, and suchlike, different for each monster.

    1. Ginger trick is straight out of Night Watch, so it's likely Pratchettism recollection at work.

      A d10 table for each entry is definitely the way to go with these on a big scale.

  3. An Agnathic Master in its natural habitat:

    1. They could work nicely in a sci-fi setting as the residents of one of the icy moons' subsurface oceans...

  4. Hylic angels... do I detect perhaps a hint of a Petal-ed breeze in this heavenly wind? the Root yet stands strong in Law but it withers. We pray no Thorn-y bramble springs from beneath the rendered Throne, safe are we now from steely spear. Hope, and hope with your heart and name that no antediluvian host is unearthed yet-breathing and churning with Drive and Direction.

    honestly tho I really like the egregoroi just being like nice?? angels, not inflexibly Law bound, and just helping because even without direction they recognise that there is still good to come for the world. (I guess that's not really an unusual angel representation as cosmic good... but teaching communities feels so much more personal and helpful that some distant war against evil or whatever)

    1. It's not much of a hint when its inscribed in three-mile tall burning letters on top of a mountain. K6BD angels are the best angels, especially for RPGs, because there is ample reason to get into conflict with all three varieties.

      Yeah the Watchers are fun, because they can fulfill the role of both "big special important thing" as well as "oblivious but well-meaning comedic relief who won't stop talking about crop rotation"