Barghest [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]
All three books have a slightly different version of what the Barghest is and none of them wholly appeal to me. Reading wikipedia for another form of reference (not to mention real life folklore on the beast) I decided that I like the idea of a Barghest (inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula) being an intelligent beast constantly filled with hate and self-loathing. It looks at humans and desires to be just like them. The creature lingers on the fringes of civilization watching and waiting for the right moment to strike.
When possible it will approach a lone target and attempt to befriend them (usually this doesn’t work) or just outright attack. Barghests are conflicted in their actions. They act violently against the target ravaging their body and mind as they consume their flesh and soul. Barghests are assailed with visions of the person’s life and emotions. This lasts for roughly a week during which the Barghest believes it has a place to belong. Once the visions leave the creature turns its sights on the rest of the family.
Feed: The Barghest sustains itself and its misery by feeding on the flesh and souls of humans. The creature gains access to the victim’s emotions, memories, and gains the ability to sound just like the victim. This effect lasts roughly one week.
Shape Change: A Barghest can change shape between a black wolf and its natural form.
Unluck: The despair of a Barghest saturates the area around it. Things break, accidents happen, people tend to be more irritable. Mechanical Option: A GM could decide that this unluck aura causes all targets in area to roll any test twice and take lower of the two rolls.
Possible World Knowledge
- Barghest’s are terrified of their visage and will shatter any mirror they come across.
- Barghest’s target beautiful or extremely talented people.
- Barghest’s cannot stand the laugher of children.
- Barghest’s are minions of demons [F].
- Barghest’s are weak against silver [F].
- Barghest’s cannot move in the sunlight. [F].
Basilisk [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]
As with the Barghest I’m not really a fan of the various books incarnations of the Basilisk. I think that Pathfinder lost some cool flavor by explaining the creature as such, “called the ‘king of serpents’, is in fact not a serpent at all, but rather an eight-legged reptile with a nasty disposition…” That really doesn’t invoke any feeling of dread or mysticism for me. I’m more in line with J.K. Rowling’s version of the Basilisk. It is the king of serpents, spiders flee before it, the crowing of a rooster kills it, etc etc. That is a cool and powerful foe that has a crafty way it can be killed.
Stone Gaze: Anyone who is caught by the Basilik’s gaze is turned to stone.
Poison Fangs: The Basilik’s fangs are extremely deadly. Those pierced by the fang must make a constitution based save or die a horribly slow and painful death.
King of Serpents: All other snakes are cowed by the Basilisk and will not fight it and will attempt to get out of the creatures way. Spiders flee from the creature and its general vicinity.
Possible World Knowledge
- The Basilisk’s fangs are extremely poisonous.
- A Basilisk’s gaze turns a person to stone.
- The Basilisk is immune to its own gaze.
- The Basilisk’s scales are coated in a slimy toxin. [F].
- The Basilisk has the ability to control people with its gaze [F].
- The Basilisk is immune to fire [F].
Behir [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]
The Behir is basically a dragon with legs. It has a breath weapon and can rake with its claws and yadda yadda yadda. Pathfinder and MM make reference or elude that it is an offspring or part of the genus of Dragonkin, which is boring. I started pondering on how this creature could become more frightening than just a derivative of a dragon and I started thinking about creatures in the real world. A hobo spider is pretty fucking scary, but do you know what is more frightening than that? A spider that can kill a hobo.
There is a particular type of spider (and I’m completely blanking on the name- but basically it is a smallish version of a daddy long-leg and has a pretty much all white body). These little bastards actively go after, kill, and eat hobo spiders, and are pretty resilient against the hobo venom.
What if the Behir is a dragon killer? It is extremely resilient to a Dragon’s breath (it can still be hurt by it) and maybe it has a poison that will slowly cause a scale rot on a dragon or something. Maybe it takes days or weeks or whatever for the dragon to die and this fearsome creatures just bides its time? What if you take the wasp approach and the Behir lays eggs in the Dragon’s stomach that hatch and eat their way out? If you’re a GM that has benevolent dragons or even evil ones that are in desperation, this could be a worth adventure or thing to encounter. A sick dragon fighting to the death only to roar in pain and die mid-fight and these small Behir baby larva things come bursting from the dragon’s belly.
Beholder [Monster Manual]
I have a love-hate relationship with a Beholder. They are frightening and weird and scary and awesome. However their sheer ability to kill every-fucking-thing-they-come-across-in-the-blink-of-their-multiple-eyes just kinda chaps my ass.. I generally end up ignoring half of their powers or use them all at various times.. but the whole casts X of these kickassery powers at will gets to be too much. However I think Beholders can be left as is because they are already fucked up and unique.
Belker [Monster Manual]
Plainly an anti-smoking ad. Not to mention part of the description is, “they are very reclusive, and have no interest in the affairs of others.” Ummm.. why even open your mouth? Nix.
Bugbear [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]
I want to give Bugbears in my setting a different edge than the standard “they are the largest goblinoids and love to cause pain and misery just because.” I like the idea of Bugbears being this creepy disgusting creatures that live in the wilds. They have no association with the other Goblinoids, because they too are fearful of Bugbears.
The Bugbears worship spiders. I don’t mean in the Drow sense, where Lolth gives them guidance. I mean they just worship spiders; gigantic Arachnids that would as soon as eat them as let them follow them. Certain Bugbears, chieftains or shamans drink small does of Spider venom and have “visions.” These insane ramblings are the doctrine of the Bugbear people. It’s interesting enough to hear people talk and prophesize when they are on shrooms or LSD, but to be on potent venom, I think that could be entertaining (in a fantasy setting- I don’t need to hear a person’s death rattle from ingesting rat poison)!
Bugbears would still be lumbering dangerous beasts that live in clans or war tribes, but their structure and would make no sense to outsiders because of the way it is “ordained.” How do you argue or communicate with a group of creatures that believe eating the intestines of fallen enemies instills them with increased strength because their leader high on spider venom told them so? With a sword.
Possible World Knowledge
- Bugbears exist in tribes that often war with one another.
- Bugbears prefer to have a few charge directly in while others flank and catch opponents off guard.
- Bugbears use poison to gain visions that they believe guide them.
- Bugbears have poisonous fangs [F].
- Bugbears have the ability to communicate with spiders [F].
- Bugbears serve a powerful spider god [F].
Bulette [Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, Monster Manual]
Bulette’s are cool. They work because people fear sharks. You describe this thing as a shark with hard armor and its on land and its coming at the players. They’ll start paying attention. The only thing I really changed on them is that they are able to move through rock and earth as though it is water, really going with that “land shark” angle.
This ferocious hunter literally swims through the land and leaps out and attacking, sometimes swallowing enemies whole.