In Like Flynn: Sandbox Encounters From A To Z

Flynn of In Like Flynn took part in the 2012 A-Z Challenge by presenting an A-Z list of sandbox encounters.

I have collected the links to (and brief descriptions of) each in the list below.  I must say that I like how they are presented.  Each encounter is presented at three different level ranges (if I were doing these for Echelon I would do them at three tiers), with several options for the circumstances of each encounter.  The encounters presented are not necessarily with only the named creature, but may include other related creatures.

  • Adventurers’ Expedition: Despite the dangerous nature of the Madlands, many adventurers travel into the warped lands in search of treasure and lost lore. They will often band together in large expeditions, as the mortality rate for adventurers is quite high. Most expeditions are leary of strangers, assuming that they are thieves, murderers and cutthroats who make their living by attacking explorers. In some cases, expeditions turn to ambushing others when times have been hard.
  • Banth: The banth is a ferocious felinoid carnivore that prowls hills in search of prey, its protruding green eyes ever attentive to its environment as it hunts. Roughly the size of a horse, this ten-legged beast’s long lithe body is powerfully muscled and almost hairless, having only a great, bristly mane about its thick neck. The beast’s head is predominately mouth, with several rows of long needle-like fangs lining its jaws which open to a point far back of its tiny ears, revealing several rows of long needle-like fangs.
  • Canker Hound: Pestilent bearers of plague and disease, the canker hound resembles a large wolf with black, leathery bat wings, its hide spotty with mange, blemishes and pustules. Twisted by the blood of gods, the canker hound is a ferocious predator. Indeed, the bite of a canker hound is highly infectious with canker fever. Canker hounds themselves are immune to disease.
  • Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs are a common sight on the Great Plains, even in that twisted and warped region known as the Madlands. Packs of velociraptors roam the plains, scavenging from the prey of larger beasts such as the deinonychus or megaraptor.
  • Earth Drake: Though not as rare as true dragons, the powerful yet primitive drakes are venerated by some as the physical embodiment of the spirits of the land, twisted by their exposure to the fallen blood of the gods. Earth drakes, in particular, are worshiped by small cults that provide them with offerings of food, sacrifice and sparkling treasure. These cultists sometimes terrorize neighboring regions in their quest to appease their earth drake “gods.” As their gods are not divine, almost all earth drake cult priests are actually magic-users.
  • Fyrcat: The adult fyrcat is a man-sized feline predator with an innate supernatural ability to cause fear and inspire terror. The alpha male that leads a pride is often significantly larger than the others. Fierce beasts, fyrcats are sometimes raised in captivity for use in great battles, where their frightful presence can demoralize soldiers and open enemy lines to attack.
  • Giant (Camerian): The first intelligent race created by the goddess Terantha, the giants of Cameria resemble stocky humans that stand around twelve feet tall and weigh about 1500 pounds. Camerian giants prefer thick leather garments, dyed in shades of brown and gray to match the mountains and hills around them. Ordinarily a somber, philosophic race, Camerian giants will not hesitate to engage in combat should their lives and freedoms become threatened. While they prefer to fight at a distance whenever possible, these giants wield massive two-handed clubs, axes and swords with impressive skill when the situation calls for it. Camerian giants typically travel in small family units, and are rarely encountered in large communities.
  • Horror From Beyond: In the War of Blood and Tears, many creatures died when the blood of battling gods spilled upon the Great Plains. Those few that survived were warped beyond recognition, mutated into twisted aberrations by the unfettered chaotic energies of divine ichor. Over the centuries, these pseudo-natural creatures have hidden away in ancient ruins and dark caverns, until their numbers have grown sufficiently large enough to devour everything in their lairs. Now, groups of these bizarre mutants have begun to creep out into the open, preying on the inattentive and the weak to satisfy their ever-growing hunger. These creatures often resemble hairless, slime-covered animals with tentacles about their mouths and along their neck or shoulders, serving as additional limbs for capturing and holding prey while they feed.
  • Iron Golem (the Army of Crafted Soldiers): In the War of Blood and Tears, the gods were not the only ones to wage a great war. Many of their mortal followers also lost themselves in holy wars against the followers of opposing philosophies. It was a time of turmoil, and mortals perpetrated many great atrocities on one another in the name of divine service. When populations dwindled, some mages took it upon themselves to create animated soldiers using ancient techniques of golemcraft. The Army of Crafted Soldiers from the City-State of Balmordak was the largest military unit of warrior-golems that came out of this era. Although most have been destroyed by the passage of time and encounters with powerful forces, some small bands of these ironclad warrior-golems still wander through the Madlands in pursuit of orders that are no longer relevant.
  • Jackal Lords: Life in the Madlands is hard and often fruitless. Many mercenaries, having crossed the Sovereign Chasm with high hopes of finding treasure and great wealth, find themselves unable to afford the return passage across the Skybridge back to Fellgorge. The less reputable of them band together as bandits, brigands and rogues, striking against returning expeditions in hopes of stealing any treasure for themselves. While these bands often identify themselves by various names, most adventurers call them Jackal Lords, after the most famous and successful of the bandits to employ this technique of acquiring “easy wealth.”
  • Kelshani Slavers: Recently emerging from their underground empires to explore the Madlands, the red-skinned, fork-tailed folk known as the Kelshan are sadistic slavers and cruel warriors bound in service to their dark master and patron deity, Sandamos, the Grand Tyrant, Lord of Demons. Bands of Kelshani slavers, led by diabolistic sorcerers, wander the Madlands in search of new slaves. Some of those captured will be sold, some will serve the Kelshani as servants and laborers, and some unfortunate souls will be sacrificed to Sandamos.
  • Lupiscupines: The lupiscupine is a breed of wolf that bears the quills of a porcupine. When nervous, frightened, or threatened, its quills rise like the hackles of a dog. It can use these quills both offensively and defensively. In all other respects, a lupiscupine behaves like a wolf. A pack of lupiscupines will circle an enemy and attack in small groups from all directions simultaneously, then retreat to the safety of the circle. Although lupiscupines can discharge their quills at multiple targets, they normally use this ability when trying to dissuade a dangerous foe from attacking or when attempting to flee from combat. Normally, one or two pack members will shake off their quills to provide cover for the other lupiscupines as they make their escape. During particularly lean hunting seasons, however, lupiscupines have been known to use their quill bursts in attempts to take down prey.
  • Mantids: Covered in dark chitin, mantids are intelligent insect-men that roam the Shattered Plains of the Madlands. Their hives are often quite huge and can cover a larger territory than the average human city. Mantids have domesticated giant beetles, which often accompany workers outside the hive. Being of a hive mentality, the mantid mindset is completely alien to most humanoids. For that reason, diplomacy is always a tricky matter, particularly if the non-mantids do not display a united front. Independent, contradictory thought is considered a crime against the hive, and is punishable by death within mantid society.
  • Night Hag Cult: Night hags appear as wretched old women, with long, frayed hair and withered faces. Their frail frames possess supernatural strength and preternatural speed, and their thin fingers bear iron-like claws. Worshippers of Reverie, a grieving demigod of dreams and slumber, these night hags and their mortal followers practice dark magics, lulling their victims to sleep and attacking them in their dreams. Although individually powerful, a coven of three night hags is even moreso, accessing greater magical prowess when working closely with one another (cast spells as two levels higher). Their followers often bear a special gem called a hag eye, which the hags can magically see through at a distance. Night hags love to trick unsuspecting victims into performing heinous acts, because they believe that nightmares empower their god and thus themselves. Night hags are gluttons for the flesh of humanoids, particularly humans.
  • Ogre: Ogres typically stand between nine and ten feet tall and can weigh up to 650 lbs. With the high presence of adventurers in the Madlands, the ogre population has been slowly dwindling; they are, in essence, a dying race, suffering a slow genocide at the hand of explorers and treasure hunters.
  • Pyrolisk: The pyrolisk resembles a large rooster with crimson feathers and a long lizard-like tail with a single tail feather. All who meet the burning gaze of the pyrolisk burst into flames. These bizarre creatures are immune to fire and can even cause normal fires to explode into a shower of pyrotechnics. Within the Madlands, these [cut short –kjd]
  • Quickling: Quicklings are descended from fey that have been warped by exposure to the blood of a fallen goddess. These twisted caricatures of other faerie-kin are doomed to live short lives at breakneck speeds. This curse frustrates many quicklings, resulting in an intense hatred of all races (especially the other fey creatures) excluding their own kind. Quicklings are small and slender, resembling miniature elves with very sharp, feral features. Their ears are unusually large and rise to points above their heads. Their skin ranges from pale to blue-white, and their hair is silver or white. Quicklings have little regard for their own personal safety, relying on their preternatural speed to protect them from harm. Thus, quicklings will often attack by rushing in, stabbing a foe with its daggers, and then moving out of melee range before the opponent can react.
  • Revenant: The revenant is an animated corpse that has returned from the grave to feast upon the flesh of the living. As revenants often travel with ghouls and ghasts, they are often mistaken for ghouls. Unlike most undead, revenants are not mindless. Indeed, they are wickedly cunning, and can make terrible adversaries. Legend holds that revenants regenerate much like trolls, and can only be completely killed by cutting off their head, followed by burning the head and body separately.
  • Serpentfolk: Also known as the Manasa, the serpentfolk are an ancient race of serpentine humanoids, whom legend states have walked the earth since before the rise of mammals. Over time, the serpentfolk have mystically crossbred with humans and other humanoids, mixing their blood and abilities, the better to infiltrate and eventually destroy those that opposed their territorial expansion. Although largely humanoid in form, the Manasa still have the mentality of reptiles. Concepts such as mercy and compromise are unknown to them. They are utterly ruthless, and have little concept of honor. Survival and victory are their only goals, though they are fully capable of employing subtle or deceptive methods to obtain them. Through their crossbreeding and mystical experiments, the Manasa have evolved into three distinct types, or castes: the Manblooded (mostly humanoid), the Hybrid (half snake/half man), and the Nagaborn (mostly serpentine).
  • Troll: The troll mastiff resembles a two-headed wolf covered with warts and stiff, wiry hair. This beast is named as much for its appearance as it is for its regenerative ability. Trolls are as tall as ogres, and just as strong. Unlike ogres, however, they attack with claws and teeth instead of weapons. Trolls regenerate, which is to say that any damage inflicted upon them heals within minutes. The only way to utterly kill a troll or a troll mastiff is to submerse it in acid or burn it. Trolls and their canine companions can even re-grow lopped-off heads and limbs.
  • Unicorn: Once a noble and beloved protector of the forests of Cameria, the Madlands unicorn has been twisted by the blood of the Gods into a carnivorous, nightmarish reflection of its former self. Wandering the wilderness of the Shattered Territories in small herds, the Madlands unicorn is a vicious predator with a hatred for anyone or anything that harms the environment, including those who wear leather or cloth, or who bear implements made of wood. These beasts eat meat, and enjoy the thrill of the chase.
  • Vulturan: The Vulturan are a race of flightless vulterine people that have, until the War of All Gods, dwelt in relative seclusion in the hills bordering the Great Plains of Cameria. Since the Madlands have become warped and shattered, the Vulturans have found themselves traveling further and further from their homeland. Humanoid in appearance, Vulturans are covered with feathers ranging from a dull ocher to a dark charcoal in color, with a birdlike face and beak. Vulturans have poor personal hygiene and crude behavior, and are regarded as second-class citizens in many regions where they are encountered, often relegated to positions as guards and low-class mercenaries.
  • White Ape: White apes have six limbs, four of them being thick sinewy arms and two being stout legs, and are of tremendous size. They have a head like that of the African gorilla, with a shock of thick, stiff-bristled hair that runs from the back of the skull and neck to the upper shoulders. While white apes are found in many different terrain types in the Madlands, they prefer to dwell in the ruins of dead cities which provide them with shelter and good hunting grounds.
  • Xenophobic Patrol: Despite the dangers of living in the Madlands, many isolated communities have survived the aftermath of the War of All Gods and have retained a foothold in the Shattered Territories. Life is hard in the Madlands, and the presence of warped abominations and shapeshifting serpentfolk has turned many simple townfolk into reclusive xenophobes. Most adventurers only encounter the outlying patrols of these communities, who discourage the adventurers from approaching any closer to the homesteads of people these patrols protect.
  • Yakshini: A type of guardian undead, yakshinis were originally summoned to look after treasures hidden in the earth. With the destruction of these treasures in the War of All Gods, these unliving guardians have been set loose upon the world, only to spread their curse through the sharing of their essence, much like vampires. Yakshinis resemble beautiful and voluptuous women, with wide hips, narrow waists, broad shoulders, and exaggerated, spherical breasts. They survive by waylaying men with their beauty and drinking their blood. Yakshinis enjoy torturing men physically and mentally, deriving immense pleasure from their sadistic predations. Given that many yakshinis are beautiful women that typically lair at the base of great trees, many adventurers hold the mistaken belief that they are nymphs or dryads that have been twisted by the blood of the Gods.
  • Zegoth (Gorilla-Men): The zegoths are a gorilla-like humanoid servitor race subjugated by the Serpentfolk. Known for their strength and cruelty, they are often employed as by the serpenthfolk as warriors, enforcers and laborers. Zegoths stand about a head taller than Humans, and weigh thirty to fifty pounds more. Despite their cruel and mean-spirited nature, zegoths are considered by the serpentfolk to be the most controllable and thus most trustworthy non-reptilian race. Unless  adventurers have been captured by serpentfolk and placed into slavery, they will likely only meet these gorilla-men in the form of patrols and work details. Their presence often indicates that serpentfolk are not very far away.

If Flynn hasn’t already, I think I may do up a template for the way this information is presented.  There is a description of the template used included in the introductory article, which itself points at another post with a richer template.  Neither article presents an actual template or worksheet.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Links of the Week: April 30, 2012 | Keith Davies — In My Campaign - Keith's thoughts on RPG design and play.

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