[RPG] Fleshing out Kalkedos the Swamp Troll

Okay, so in our previous post about designing mythologically inspired monsters we came up with the basics for a creature called Kalkedos, once a greedy man who was cursed by the god of merchants when he killed his neighbour (a loyal follower of the god) after the man rebuffed Kalkedos’ intent to woo his daughter, drowning the man in the swamps near his home. As he died the merchant, a loyal follower of his god, cursed Kalkedos and the god of merchants answered, lending power to the curse. Kalkedos was transformed into a lumbering, clumsy creature with warty skin, green the colour of envy, his mind twisted he gathers the filth of the swamp to him as his ‘riches’ blind to the fact that it is refuse and lashing out at another who dares try to steal from his treasure.

Bound to the scene of his crime, Kalkedos is unable to leave the swamp unless he receives the forgiven of the merchant’s daughter (who fled when her father died), should this happen and she be able ot convince him to leave the swamp then the curse would be lifted.

So what else do we have to do?

Strictly speaking nothing, we can pick some appropriate stats from a monster manual/bestiary (or create some) and run with the monster as it is, however, there are a few additional questions that we help us flesh out the monster a bit more.

What does the monster look like?
We’ve already described Kalkedos as being green of skin and ugly of aspect, however we can flesh this out a bit further, keeping in mind the reason for his curse; since he was a greedy, grasping man I envision him as having long arms and powerful muscled hands that can shoot out of the water, grabbing prey, throttling it and dragging it below the water. Kalkedos also has large reflective eyes used for scanning the swamp for treasure and any trespassers attempting to steal what is his.

What abilities does it have?
Physical power is Kalkedos’ main ability, however the god who punished him did not want him to die in the swamp (since that would end his punishment) so Kalkedos regenerates all but the most vicious of injuries in time, however, no matter what he stuffs into his huge fanged maw the creature is always lean and permanently hungry, denied the ability to sate his urges and lusts.

What are it’s weaknesses?
Since Kalkedos is always hungry he is easily lured with food, his greed also leads to him being attracted to shiny objects whether or not they have any actual worth; however he is unable to look upon the truly beautiful since it reminds him of what he lost, seeing people or objects of great beauty drives him into a rage and he will go to any lengths to smash the offending object/person.

Is there a way to break the curse?
Besides the god of merchants, the only way for the curse to be broken is if the dead merchant’s daughter or a direct descendant of hers, forgives Kalkedos his crimes and can convince him to leave the swamp; if this happens then his warty troll skin will slough off and he will be restored.
  
If you’ve come up with any interesting creatures using our guides please drop me a line at reddicediaries@gmail.com, i’d love to hear about your creations.

[RPG] Monstrous Questionnaire

As a companion piece to my GM Tips – Making monsters monstrous video, please find below a quick checklist for creating monsters based on a mythological model, answering these questions will give a bit of extra background and interest to truly monstrous monsters.

Questionnaire

1. How was the monster created?
– A result of divine procreation with a mortal (answer question 2).
– As a result of a curse (answer question 2 & 3).
– Created by a great power for a specific purpose (answer question 2 & 4).
– Monster is actually a form of lesser divinity or similar power (answer question 6).

2. If a divinity or higher power was involved in the creation what was the nature of the power involved?
(these descriptions are based on the greek gods listed on http://www.rickriordan.com/my-books/percy-jackson/explore-mythology/greek-gods.aspx but you can substitute your own)

– Sky
– Home & family
– Sea
– Agriculture & farming
– War
– Wisdom
– Music, poetry & prophecy
– Moon & hunting
– Fire & the Forge
– Love & beauty
– Merchants, Trade & Thieves
– Wine & celebration
– Underworld & Death
– Sleep
– Victory
– Choices
– Revenge
– Messages & Communicaiton
– Magic & spirits
– Luck & Fortune

If the monster is the offspring of a god then it’s powers will be related to their parent although they will normally be reflected on the physical appearance of the creature.

Example: The god of sky may sire a creature with huge wings or that is feathered like a bird.

Example: The god of sleep may give birth to a creature that only exists during the hour of dreams (night-time) or that can only be seen in the time just after waking when dreams are closest to the real world.

3. Why was the mortal cursed?
– Directly insulting the god.
– Taking actions that directly oppose the god.
– Wronging loyal servants of the god.
– Mis-using a talent/abilities granted by the god.

A mortal cursed by the god will tend to have powers and abilities that reflect those of the deity that cursed them, however they are often made twisted and grotesque.

Example: The god of sky may curse a person to become a monster harpy, a twisted bat-like creature with a barely human face.

Example: The god of sleep may trap a cursed person away from the waking world allowing them only to communicate in dreams, or perhaps they cause bad dreams and trouble sleep wherever they go (making people irritable and causing them to turn on the cursed individual).

4. What purpose was the monster created for?
– To punish those who oppose the gods.
– To guard something precious (also answer question 5).

Monsters created to punish someone are normally specifically tailored to deny those being punished some aspect of their life that they value or require, without simply killing them.

Creatures created to guard something precious are normally encountered only in the vicinity of the thing that they are guarding and have senses that cover the area, making it very difficult to sneak up and purloin their treasure. However, most such creatures have a method via which safe access to their charge can be obtained incase the gods should seek to send a favoured servant to acquire the item.

Example: The god of sky creates a giant eagle to guard one of his thunderbolts, the bolt lies in a huge nest constructed by the beast on an impossibly tall mountain.

Example: The god of sleep creates a monster to punish a debauched town of celebrants, the creature pursues them through dreams which begin pleasant and turn to nightmares, causing them to wake without the benefit of rest.

5. Where is the precious item located?
– In a faraway land.
– In a geographical inaccessible place (the bottom of an ocean, the top of a mountain).
– Protected in a hidden demi-plane accessible only via a portal or when specific conditions are met.
– The item is located inside or is part of the creature itself.

6. Which deity is the creature related to or affiliated with?
– Pick one of the deities from question 2 (or add your own).
– Then choose a more specialised/specific element that might fall under their portfolio (ie. clouds for sky, nightmares for sleep, vanity for beauty, etc).
– A lesser divinity will have powers and abilities related to it’s specific portfolio, these will be reflected on it’s physical form to a lesser degree.

Example: Related to the war god, a lesser-divinity of violence & fury may appear as a huge man with bulging muscles, glowing red eyes and a permanent expression of fury.

By making choices from this list and thinking about the various elements you should be able to create a monster in the style of the ancient greek/roman myths.

As an example: I’m going to create Kalkedos (the swamp troll from the video) by using the questionnaire.

Kalkedos the Swamp Troll

1. How was the monster created?
– As a result of a curse (answer question 2 & 3).
Kalkedos killed his neighbour when the man rebuffed Kalkedos’ intent to woo his daughter, drowning the man in the swamps near his home.

2. If a divinity or higher power was involved in the creation what was the nature of the power involved?
– Merchants, Trade & Thieves
As he died the merchant, a loyal follower of his god, cursed Kalkedos and the god of merchants answered, lending power to the curse. Kalkedos was transformed into a lumbering, clumsy creature with warty skin, green the colour of envy, his mind twisted he gathers the filth of the swamp to him as his ‘riches’ blind to the fact that it is refuse and lashing out at another who dares try to steal from his treasure.

Bound to the scene of his crime, Kalkedos is unable to leave the swamp unless he receives the forgiven of the merchant’s daughter (who fled when her father died), should this happen and she be able ot convince him to leave the swamp then the curse would be lifted.

3. Why was the mortal cursed?
– Wronging loyal servants of the god.
Killing the merchant.

If you produce any monsters using this system drop me a line about them either to reddicediaries@gmail.com, i’d love to see your creations.