Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monster: The Khoulak


The khoulak are a race of winged, carnivorous humanoids who live in rocky aeries. They are near-silent in flight and prey on all living things (not the undead). All creatures that walk Benu fear them.


Little is known of khoulaki society except that they are nocturnal and seem to be of a hive mind, often acting in unison. They live in caves in the highlands or atop cliff sides, keeping them as cavernesque aeries.

They attack in feasting parties, preferring to eat what they can on the site of the attack. They will, however, take prisoners to hold captive and eat later. They have at least primitive tools for fashioning prey cages and setting up basic campsites.

They employ no familiars or other beasts, surely they eat anything in their domain.


No one has ever seen a khoulak's (obscured) mouth and lived. They envelop their prey in batlike wings attached to their arms and--presumably by the sound--vomit corrosive acid to digest their prey. The only facial features apparent are a pair of large, pupil-less, lidless eyes. They have no discernible ears or noses, though they seem to still possess those senses.

Khoulak have large eyes which give them infravision, allowing them to see in darkness, but are exceptionally nearsighted. This ability makes them less effective in broad daylight. They also possess a keen sonar sense which allows them to zero in on their prey with extreme accuracy in total darkness.

Smothering Grapple
They are powerful adversaries--for most victims they are nearly impossible to escape from, once enveloped in their terrible, suffocating wings. Anyone caught in their grasp will find it nigh impossible to escape. Their wings are attached along their arms down to their wrists.

Methods of Attack

Their idea of combat is to eat their enemies.


Khoulak are thought to be demons from the Plane of Death. They sound a "devouring scream" as they feast on their prey, which causes a paralyzing fear in any future victims in the vicinity.

Their presence is felt before they are seen--usually a feeling of terrible dread or foreboding.

It's said that the khoulak were summoned by accident through the incompetence of a boastful wizard, who was immediately punished for waking them from their astral slumber.

Gullible travelers believe the khoulak to be worshipers of the moon goddess Zeth. These fools wear her sigil (three cobalt-colored eyes in various states of opening) on a pendant or charm as a desperate hope for safety.

If encountered as a monster:

NO. APPEARING: Packs of 8 or more
MOVE: 5 on ground, 20 in flight
HIT DICE: 2d8+2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Acid vomit 2d12; Bite 1d8+2; Paralyzing scream - stunned for 1d4 rounds
SPECIAL ABILITIES/SKILLS: Sonar - Emit a clicking noise that helps them detect moment and objects up to 100 meters (in air); Coordinated attack - can intimidate prey through practiced attack patterns. Infravision, but limited by nearsightedness (range of 5 meters).
MAGIC RESISTANCE: They cannot be harmed by diseases or acid
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
PSIONIC ABILITY: It's believed that the khoulak possess some form of telepathy to communicate with one another, since they are a mostly silent species. It's not know if this ability extends to other races.

If played as a PC:

Prime Requisite Requirements: PHY 13, AGL 15
Hit Dice: Add +2 for being a scary-ass bastard
Max Level: 10
Alignment: Play as True Neutral

Dungeon: "The Unquenchable" Maw

In the highlands that border the wastes lies a massive cave maw, blasted and scorched and choked with carbon stench, called "The Unquenchable". It is the gateway to an ancient dungeon, made up of natural caves, abandoned beetlemen catacombs, and tunnels from a razed super fortress.

Many millennia ago, the area was home to an ancient evil that launched wave after wave of slaughter on the shining fortress of ancient wonders (the name of which has long since been forgotten). Legend has it that one of the Ancient Kings sent his armies into the maw to route the devil, but none returned. More soldiers were conscripted as the centuries passed, but they all perished--it's thirst for blood never seeming to be quaffed--hence the name.

The Ancient King finally passed to the afterlife and without their beloved leader they could not repel the demon's might. The fortress fell in a fortnight, those that didn't fight, fled and a great diaspora began. Many technologies and magics (massive heat rays, psionic generators, astral keys, and more) went missing in the confusion and panic, but a few eventually made their way to the Cryptotherium. The remaining treasures, it's rumored, were claimed by the beast.

Centuries passed, and the maw called once again to adventurers looking to reclaim ancient treasures lost and buried. The maw was rediscoverd, mapped as the entrance--the only one--into the deep chaos below. No adventure party has ever returned.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Races: Beetlemen


Beetlemen are a colony race of hybrid insectoids that live among the vast sand warrens, worshiping the gods of the wastes. If encountered, Beetlemen will attack with intent to capture so as to bring any bounty back to their queen who likely will decare prisoners to be sacrificed in order to appease the gods. Beetlemen will fight until they lose 2/3 their number and if not reinforced, will retreat.

Horns have yet to grow for this young adult.
Occassionally, a beetleman will wander so far from his colony that he'll not be able to find his way back. After 24 hours he will lose the scent of his people and they will disown him. Self-sacrifice is a sin without the queen's direct order, so they typically have no other choice but to wander in search of a purpose or adventure.


Beetlemen live in vast underground and tunnel colonies which are divided into subgroups (clans) of as many as 500 individuals. A hundred or more subgroups that make up a supercolony (city). There are, perhaps fewer than three dozen supercolonies left on Benu. They have a long gestational period as larvae. Their nurseries are constantly tended by feeder bugs (giant beetles) that bring food to fat, grub-like young, which are under careful protection by heavily armed guards. Young adults are thrown into single combat rounds to determine the strongest. Weak individuals are not killed, but merely ignored by the colony. They become as ghosts and are not fed or cared for, dying from neglect.

Beetlemen are scavengers and horde hunters that fan out across the great deserts in search of food and hardware they can use, in addition to collecting intelligence about other races--such as their sworn enemies, the Bando.

For Queen and Glory
Their queen has never before been seen by other species. It's unknown if she is the same queen that has ruled since antiquity or if there are new queens with every generation.

Though they fight enemies in large numbers, beetlemen relish fraternal combat. They'll hold sparring sessions as a means of proving acumen in single combat. They fight for status and preferential treatment from the queen.


Beetlemen have heads resembling several varieties of stag and "rhino" beetles, but stand erect as hominids. They are bulky at the shoulders with two narrow primary limbs (arms). It appears their secondary limbs have evolved to become a set of shorter arms just underneath--nearly at the same joint.

Their exoskeletons appear as black, brown, and the darkest red and so may be hard to spot until it's too late. They also have a pair of thin, rapid-beating wings that don't provide full flight, but do allow them to hover for short periods (no more than 12 meters high). A beetleman's exoskellatal thorax (torso) provides protection to his chest and back.

Super Strength
They are extremely strong and agile, owing to their insect-like physiology. They stand a mere 1.5 meters tall, but can lift and carry up to 20 times their own weight for up to 1d0+1 rounds. Their hind legs allow them to leap up to 30 meters at a time.

Beetlemen have an innate tracking ability based on scent and detection of ground vibrations for up to 4 kilometers. They can communicate using microvibrations when in complete darkness at about the same range. They have excellent senses hearing and sense of smell (see below) but are susceptible to gas-based weapons.

Methods of Attack

Beetlemen like to surprise and surround their prey, overwhelming them with their numbers. Because their powers of flight aren't a tactical asset in surprise, they prefer to burst from underground--being proficient diggers--in large numbers.

Raiding parties generally attack, gravitating towards the footsetps (vibrations) of their intended targets. Camps and villages with lots of activity at night should be extremely cautious that they don't attract unwanted attention.

Attackers will first attempt to close in on enemies using electro-stun spears and nets. If things go badly and foes are not rendered incapacitated in 6 rounds or less, they will resort to more violent methods to bring prey under control. On the ground, they are quick and adept in combat, despite their slow speed in the air.


Beetlemen were the result of ancient alchemical experiments performed by the Ancient Kings. Legend has it that when the rulers of old laid eyes on their creations, they recoiled in horror and sought to erase their mistake. One King took pity, and convinced the court to merely banished them to the wastes. Over the eons, the Beetlemen took this as a divine mandate and consider the wastes a holy land.

It's said that the Beetlemen worship a silent but imposing god--an ancient nuclear weapon--buried deep within their warren catacombs. The device's armament, range, and condition remain unknown.

Subgroups have their own altars at which they make offerings to the gods, but supercolonies are said to have elaborate underground temples for sacrificing their prisoners.

It's believed that the smell of garbage dumps and junk piles can attract a raiding or scouting party if not properly buried or burned.

In recent years, Bando traders have heard that the beetlemen have an unlimited supply of radium and metal in their great hives. It's thought that while they possess little knowledge of weapon making and so some prisoners must be kept as slaves to mine and forge.

If encountered as a monster:

NO. APPEARING: In colonial subgroup (500); Raiding party (20-40); Scouts (3-9)
MOVE: 7 on ground, 4 in flight
HIT DICE: 1d8+2
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 per drone, 2 per champion
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Pincer claws, 1d6+1; mandible bite 1d8; common weapons include stun-ray spears, tridents, electro-stun nets, obsidian-bladed short swords or daggers; champions (1d20) carry long handled maces or battleaxes with large obsidian-carved heads. 1d6 subgroups is an elite troop that will carry radium rifles.
SPECIAL ABILITIES/SKILLS: Sense of hearing and vibration detection up to 3 kilometers. Can smell and identify most species up to 5 kilometers away with ease. Mandibles can create microvibrations to communicate at hypersonic register, reverbartory surfaces can extend this method for miles while underground.
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Hard carapace shell acts as a armor (see Armor Class).
ALIGNMENT: Lawful evil
PSIONIC ABILITY: Rare, only 1 in 1d100 exhibit psionic abilities, but lesser beings may equate their special abilities with "magic".

If played as a PC:

Prime Requisite Requirements: PHY 15, AGL 10
Hit Dice: Add +3 for hard exoskeleton and constitution
Max Level: 8

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zohal: Lesser Punisher of the Gods

Zohal is a saucer shaped entity that patrols Benu's rock-strewn deserts dispensing "justice" in the form of sonic blasts and zero-point energy beams. The craft speaks in a cacophany of indeciperable blips and bleeps. Defendants found to be wanting (i.e., everybody) are mercilessly and unceasingly fired upon.

Zohal is less an enemy to be defeated as it is a force to be summoned, either to be lured into battle to assail a greater foe than oneself or to act as a diversion so one can slip away. The object only appears during the day--it will immediately withdraw and flit away once the sun is completely set.

Sonic Blip

A loud audial stream of "BLIP" noises that cause fear, confusion, and some species to soil themselves.

Zero-Point Energy Beams

A single, steady, visible beam of white energy is emitted and lifts objects to hurl at or drop onto targets.