Gargoyle: A Forgotten WFRP Monster

May 30, 2020 9 comments

Like many fantasy miniatures producers of the early 1980s, Citadel Miniatures sold a number of bat-winged, demonic-looking figures in their early ranges. Some were called Demons, and others Gargoyles.

The first official mention of Gargoyles as part of Warhammer lore came in 1985, when Citadel Miniatures released The Flying Gargoyles of Barda as part of their Regiments of Renown series for Warhammer 2nd edition. The Gargoyles’ backstory cast them as a kind of independent Demon (they weren’t called Daemons at that point in Warhammer’s history, and not all Demons served the Ruinous Powers of Chaos), and said that this particular group was summoned accidentally by a Marienburg wizard named Barda von Micklestein. You can read the whole story at the excellent Stuff of Legends site.

RR12 - Flying Gargoyles of Barda - Spring 1985 Journal
From The Citadel Journal, Spring 1985.

Even though WFRP 1st edition was only released the following year, Gargoyles had already gone from Warhammer lore. To the best of my knowledge, the only Gargoyles in the whole of WFRP’s history were to be found in a corridor in Castle Drachenfels. Rather than Demons (or Daemons) these were the traditional animated stone statues found in most fantasy games.

The matter of independent Daemons is a complex one, and deserving of a fuller treatment at some future time. Here, though, is a WFRP4 re-imagining of the animated statue type.


Gargoyle

Gargoyles are magically animated stone figures. Most, but not all, have Daemonic features such as bat-like wings and bestial features. They may be found guarding ancient ruins, seeming to be part of their decoration. They may also be created by means of certain forbidden rituals. Some may be commanded by their creators, while other follow simple instructions that were given to them long ago – usually to destroy all who trespass on their territory.

MWSBSSTIAgDexIntWPFelW
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Traits: Armour 3, Dark Vision, Hardy, Immunity to Psychology, Magical, Territorial (one building or small area), Weapon +8

Optional: 2 Claws +8, Die Hard, Flight 60, Horns +6, Size (Small to Enormous), Magic Resistance 1-2, Ranged +8, Tail +6, Unstable, Weapon +8


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Monday Gun Day Part 3: Hidden Weapons

May 25, 2020 2 comments

Any roleplayer who has seen any of Robert Rodriguez’s “Mexico trilogy” (El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) has probably longed for a character who carries an arsenal of hidden weapons. They are not the first. Just as much ingenuity has been devoted to finding ways of concealing and disguising firearms as went into the development of the combination weapons covered in the last instalment of this series. Here are a few examples:

It seems that key guns were quite popular with jailers for a while. In addition to unlocking a cell door – for the key was quite functional – they gave one-shot protection against any prisoner who tried to overpower the guard and break out.

Here is a 19th-century gun disguised as a pocket watch.

These small-caliber weapons are designed for use at very close range and their damage ratings are lower than those of the smallest pistols in the average rules set.

Larger guns can be built into walking sticks, like these:

These weapons can be larger caliber – say, up to .50″ without looking unusually thick for a walking stick. They are reasonably effective at short range, but lacking sights and shoulder stocks their performance drops off sharply as distance increases. And before the late 19th century, they are all single-shot weapons, awkward to reload. For these reasons, most gentlemen preferred a sword-cane or a simple “loaded stick” with a lead-weighted pommel that turned it into a light mace. I may post about weapons like these some time in the future.

The spies of the Cold War, both real and fictional, were equipped with guns disguised as a wide range of everyday items. Pens were popular, and so were cigarette packets, lighters, and purses – like the Frankenau purse revolver from the 1880s, for example:

These later weapons were usually .22 caliber, sometimes .22 magnum, and again they were for use at very short range.

There’s one more hidden gun that I saw in a book, years ago, but try as I might I have been unable to find a picture of it online. That’s a shame, because it would be perfect for a game like WFRP, or any other game set in a world with a 17th-century level of technology. On the outside, it looks exactly like a Bible or any other heavy tome. But each cover has a pistol fixed to the inside, so you can just open the book and fire. I can only imagine the pithy lines a badass preacher or scholar character might deliver as they fire such a weapon.


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The Devil Eel, a New Monster for WFRP4

May 23, 2020 8 comments

A little while ago, I came across an intriguing story online. Someone in Australia caught a very odd-looking fish with no eyes and an almost human-looking face. I immediately thought it would be just the sort of thing that might be encountered in Chaos-affected waters, such as the River Reik below Castle Wittgenstein.

Sadly, this inspiration came too late to include the creature in the Director’s Cut of Death on the Reik or the Death on the Reik Companion, but with the second instalment in the Enemy Within campaign about to be released as a PDF, now seems like a good time.


Devil Eel Swarm

Image

Where the waters of a river or lake are polluted by the influence of Chaos, small freshwater eels may be mutated into Devil Eels. With no eyes and a bestial face, they are a disturbing sight, though few get to see them. Gathering in swarms, they attack any prey they can find with mindless savagery, and it is said they can strip a carcass to the bone in mere minutes.

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Traits: Aquatic (see below), Bestial, Bite +0, Corrupted (Minor), Fast, Frenzy, Hungry, Immunity to Psychology, Night Vision, Painless, Size (Tiny), Swarm

Optional: Infected, Mutation, Territorial, Venom (Challenging)

New Trait: Aquatic

The creature can breathe underwater, and moves at its full Movement rate in water. It cannot move on land.


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Monday Maps #13: A Quick Tutorial on Caves

May 18, 2020 1 comment

Happy Monday! I hope you and yours are all staying safe.

 

I haven’t posted a Monday Map in a little while, but I came across this YouTube tutorial that is worth seeing. If you’re like me and the only things you can draw are a breath, a bath, and a conclusion, invest 1 minute and 14 seconds of your time and take a look.

 

 

Hammers and Dragons has a Facebook page here with links to a free downloadable maps, including this one. Of interest to Warhammer and WFRP fans will be the Skaven temple posted on May 7th. Here’s a small-scale preview:

 

Skaven Temple Small

 

One of the things I especially like about Hammers and Dragons is that artist Tomasz Ratajczak is teaching himself to draw, so he’s not presenting some lofty masterclass that makes the rest of us feel like idiots. And yet, his simple techniques produce results that would not look out of place in a professional publication. He’s only just getting started, but I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

 

Links

Hammers and Dragons YouTube Channel
Hammers and Dragons Facebook page

 

Jabberwock: A Forgotten WFRP Monster

May 16, 2020 21 comments

Well, it’s not original to WFRP, of course. The beast was born in Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwockyand its image was established for all time by Sir John Tenniel’s illustration from 1897.

Nick Bibby’s Jabberwock miniature was advertised in the first Citadel Journal, which was published in Spring 1985. Following my policy of covering every Citadel miniature I could find, I wrote it up for the Bestiary chapter of the WFRP first edition rulebook.

Journal 1

Nick Bibby’s Jabberwock (right), with a Ral Partha Jabberwock mini of similar vintage.

I don’t think the Jabberwock appeared in any official Warhammer publication outside of the WFRP 1st edition rulebook, the Warhammer 3rd edition rulebook, and a handful of miniatures ads – but if you know better, drop me a comment!

Here is my re-imagining of the beast for WFRP 4th edition. Needless to say, what follows is extremely unofficial, completely optional, and does not constitute any challenge to copyrights held by Games Workshop, Cubicle 7, or anyone else.


The Jabberwock

WFRP Jabberwock

The Incursions of Chaos have produced thousands of strange creatures. Living in the deepest forests, the Jabberwock is little seen – at least, by those who live to tell of it – and it is known mainly through local rumours and the distant sound of its burbling cry.
The Jabberwock stands over 12 feet high, and can move by running on all fours or walking on its hind legs. All four limbs are equipped with sharp claws, and its mouth is armed with long, chisel-like teeth. They are very aggressive, but rather stupid.
The Jabberwock’s wings are too small to allow it to fly. It can only bounce along or jump a few feet into the air. Their flapping makes a thrumming, whiffling sound which can be disconcerting.

M WS BS S T I Ag Dex Int WP Fel W
6 79 0 55 65 20 40 15 15 85 100

Traits: Arboreal, Belligerent, Bite +9, Bounce, Claws (2) +10, Distracting (Noise), Hungry, Night Vision, Size (Enormous), Stride, Stupid, Tail +8

Optional: Corruption (Minor), Fear 1, Horns +6, Mutation, Regenerate, Stomp, Territorial, Venom (Challenging)


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Gargoyle: A Forgotten WFRP Monster

Monday Gun Day, Part 2: Combi-Weapons

May 11, 2020 2 comments

There’s an old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight, but the painfully slow reload rates of black-powder firearms made it advisable to have a backup weapon. Some attempts were made to combine the two: bayonets became the most popular solution, but there were quite a few attempts to build pistols into melee weapons of various kinds.

These included swords:

Sword Gun

Daggers:

Dagger Gun

Axes:

Axe Gun

And warhammers.

Hammer Gun

In a roleplaying game, a combi-weapon is a one-shot firearm. Most would be pistols, though some, attached to two-handed weapons, might count as larger firearms. They reduce the time needed to switch weapons, perhaps to no time at all. However, they have some significant drawbacks:

In the first place, they are not generally available. Almost all will have to be made to order, which takes both time and money. The cost will be at least twice the sum of the cost of the two base weapons, and the same is true of the time needed.

An artisan charged with making a combi-weapon must be skilled as a gunsmith as well as a bladesmith. All skill rolls involved in making a combi-weapon carry a significant penalty.

The finished article represents the worst of both worlds. It is heavy and awkward to aim, and ill-balanced for close combat. In game terms, the very best combi-weapons, made by master artificers (even Dwarves!) can never be better than average quality. Most are inferior, and if your game system has a way to rate quality, a combi-weapon is at least two quality steps below the normal level of quality produced by the artisan who made it. There are attack penalties, an increased chance of misfires, and the weapon is weaker overall, meaning that it is more easily damaged in combat if your rules set covers damage to weapons.

That said, though, it can give a wielder the advantage of surprise. An unexpected gunshot at the start of a fight can unnerve the enemy, who will be left wondering what other tricks the character might have up his or her sleeve. Enemies will be warier, even if they don’t mean to be, adopting a more defensive, cautious stance. How this is handled in a game’s rules is a matter for the GM to decide. Especially skittish foes may have to make Fear checks to get over the surprise of a combi-weapon firing, running away if they fail.

So there you have it – and you can see why they didn’t really catch on. Still, I can imagine some players’ eyes lighting up at the thought of a sword that is also a gun, and you can have a lot of fun if the party decides to track down an artisan capable of making such a weapon and persuade them to try.

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Making Monsters: Cinco de Mayo Edition

May 5, 2020 2 comments

I’m still pushing ahead with my monster-related #secretproject, despite several delays. In honor of the day, here’s a creature from Aztec folklore.

For first-time readers, this post is part of a series in which I am trying to develop a system-agnostic format for describing monsters, relying on your suggestions and feedback to get it just right before I launch this particular #secretproject formally. The Comments section is at the bottom of the page, so let me know what you think.

 

 

The Ahuizotl

 

The Ahuizotl is a medium-sized predator, about the size of a dog and combining the physical appearance of a dog and a monkey. It has black fur and four limbs ending in dextrous hands and a long, flexible tail ending in a fifth hand.

It lives in rivers and watery caves, hiding beneath the water and using its prehensile tail to grab victims and drag them to their deaths. Sometimes it will mimic the crying of a lost child to lure victims close enough to be grappled.

It eats the corpses of its victims, especially relishing the digits, the teeth, and the eyes. If prey is plentiful it will leave the rest of its victims uneaten. An Ahuiztol lair is usually an underwater cave, strewn with bones and uneaten corpses.

The name ahuizotl translates from the Aztec Nahuatl language as “spiny aquatic thing.” Although reports of the creature do not normally mention spines, optional rules for spines have been added under “Special Abilities” below.

 

 

RANGE

ArtStation - Ahuizotl, Jean Vervelle

Image by Jean Vervelle, borrowed from his ArtStation page (https://www.artstation.com/doctorchevlong).

Real World: Mexico

Fantasy World: Tropical rivers. Lone or pack (2d4).

 

TYPE: Animal

 

SIZE: Medium (4ft/1.25m long)

 

MOVEMENT

Run: 50 feet (15m) per round

Swim: 30 feet (10m) per round

 

ATTRIBUTES

Strength: Animal, medium (e.g. wolf)

Dexterity/Agility: Animal, medium, dextrous (e.g. monkey)

Constitution: Animal, medium (e.g. wolf)

Intelligence: Animal, intelligent (e.g. wolf)

Willpower: Animal, intelligent (e.g. wolf)

Hit Points/Health: Animal, medium (e.g. wolf)

Armor/Defense: Fur + Agility (e.g. wolf)

 

ATTACKS

Bite: Animal, small to medium (e.g. medium dog, wolf)

Grapple: High skill (65%)

Stealth: Moderate skill (35%), underwater only

 

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Aquatic: The Ahuizotl is fully aquatic and capable of breathing underwater.

Spines (Optional): Sharp spines, up to 1 foot/30 cm long, erupt from the creature’s vertebrae. They confer a slight armor advantage against attacks from that direction. Any character trying to grapple the creature must make an appropriate skill or attribute test (wrestling, dexterity/agility, or similar) each round: failure means the character suffers damage as from a successful dagger or short sword attack.

 


 

Links
If you would like to know more, here are a few links. Any search engine will find many more.

A 5th edition SRD version

Wikipedia

YouTube

 


 

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