B/X TO THE FUTURE

I hope you’ll forgive the title; I know it’s only marginally amusing but once I thought of it I had to do something with it. Anyway, this post was sparked by a discussion I had on Reddit about re-skinning dungeons and monsters from classic fantasy RPGs to the Vaults of Vaarn setting. This is an interesting topic and a useful one for those of us who like some sci-fi in our fantasy worlds. I’ve decided to do some monsters first and then another post about some dungeons from around the OSR scene that can slot into Vaarn with very little effort.

Today I thought we’d look at a few monsters from B/X D&D, and re-skin them as science-fantasy Vaarnish horrors. I’m going to be leaving their stats as close to the originals as I can, and focusing on flavour. I’ll post the entry in full from the OSE SRD, followed by my take on the monster.

Ape, White

Albino, herbivorous, gorilla-like apes that live in caves and emerge at night to forage.


Armour Class6 [13]
Hit Dice4 (18hp)
Attacks2 × claw(1d4) or 1 × thrown rock (1d6)
THAC016 [+3]
Movement120’ (40’)
Saving ThrowsD12 W13 P14B15 S16 (2)
Morale7
AlignmentNeutral
XP75
Number Appearing1d6 (2d4)
Treasure TypeNone

  • Territorial: Defend their lair with threats and, if this is ignored, violence.

Let’s try this in Vaarn format:

Albino Ape (Biological)
HD 4, Armour 13, Morale 5, Appearing d6
Attack: Claw (d4) + Claw (d4) / Shit Fling (d6 TOX)
Notes: Deficient in pigmentation and in manners, these primates dwell in caves, bunkers, and other sheltered places. When the sun sets, they venture out in search of meat. They are highly intelligent, excellent climbers, and punishingly accurate with the putrid white turds they hurl at intruders.

I gave them the poo-flinging because it’s funnier than throwing a rock. I also think they’re scarier if you make them carnivorous because then they have a reason to be tracking the PCs. You don’t have to make either of these changes to fit the White Apes into Vaarn, I just felt like it.

Next up we have the:

Blink Dog

Highly intelligent, dingo-like dogs that live in packs. Have the innate ability to blink in and out of existence.


Armour Class5 [14]
Hit Dice4* (18hp)
Attacks1 × bite (1d6)
THAC016 [+3]
Movement120’ (40’)
Saving ThrowsD10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4)
Morale6
AlignmentLawful
XP125
Number Appearing1d6 (1d6)
Treasure TypeC

  • Blink: In combat, teleport close to an enemy, attack, then reappear 1d4 × 10’ away. If they have initiative, can blink away without the opponent being able to counter-attack.
  • Disappear: If in serious danger, the pack can flee by entirely disappearing.

My Vaarn version:

Flashhound (Hypergeometric)
HD 4, Armour 14, Morale 4, Appearing d6
Attack: Bite (d6)
Notes: Planeydogs, descended from the early test passengers of hypergeometric gateways. These large, cunning canines are able to teleport short distances at will, bypassing solid objects in a flash of soundless, uncanny light. They use this ability to dance in and out of melee range, harrying their prey to exhaustion.
Telefrag: If a Flashhound rolls a natural one during its attack, it has misjudged its teleport and is now occupying the same space as a solid object near its target. The Flashhound dies instantly, causing 3d6 blast damage to everyone nearby.

Another fun one. I considered making the Telefrag something they could do deliberately to opponents, but that seems a bit cruel.

Onwards:

Dryad

Shy, peaceful, yet wary tree spirits that can manifest as beautiful female humanoids. Live in deep forests.


Armour Class5 [14]
Hit Dice2* (9hp)
Attacks1 × magic (charm)
THAC018 [+1]
Movement120’ (40’)
Saving ThrowsD10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4)
Morale6
AlignmentNeutral
XP25
Number Appearing0 (1d6)
Treasure TypeD

  • Bound with tree: Spiritually connected with a single tree. Dryad dies if the tree dies, or if separated by more than 240’.
  • Meld with tree: Can disappear by joining with her tree.
  • Defensive: Distrustful of strangers. Attempt to charm anyone who approaches or follows.
  • Charm: Victim compelled to approach the tree, vanishes inside it (save versus spells with a –2 penalty). If not immediately rescued, the victim is lost forever.
  • Treasure: Hidden in roots of the tree.

The Vaarn version:

Greenwaif (Biological)
HD 2, Armour 14, Morale 4, Appearing 1
Attack: Pollen-borne Empathogens (Special)
Notes: The sages of the long-vanished world worked many wonders. One of their quixotic tasks was the breaching of the boundaries between the animal and vegetable kingdoms, which has resulted in several abhuman lineages that exist in present-day Vaarn. Greenwaifs are slender humanoids with symbiotic algae and plant species growing within their flesh. They take all their energy from photosynthesis, requiring only water, and claim to enjoy long lifespans as a result.
These beings are not hardy desert travellers and as such are rarely seen in Vaarn’s deep Interior, as the harsh, xeric conditions cut their lives short. Some can be found at oases, deposited there by a twist of fate and fearing to travel on.
Empathogens: Greenwaifs abhor physical conflict. This does not mean they are defenceless, however. These abhumans produce a weaponised pollen, which causes hallucinations, delirium, serotonin overproduction, and sometimes death. Each combat round, all biological creatures around the Greenwaif are exposed to a dose of the pollen. They must make an EGO save to remember what they are supposed to be doing, or else fall into a blissful, honeyed stupor. PCs under the effect of the pollen are more open to sharing their secrets and buried emotions, experience instant connections with strangers, and have no desire to harm the Greenwaif.

A longer stat block here, the first time I’ve ended up writing more than the B/X version. I enjoy throwing these types of monsters at players sometimes, as the disconnect between what you want your character to do and what the monster is forcing them to do is something I think’s interesting. I could see my group getting into roleplaying the empathogenic pollen’s effects with gusto. Also yes this is a creature that dusts you with weaponised MDMA.

One more:

Salamander

Giant, magical reptiles with an affinity for extreme heat or cold.

Flame Salamander

12’–16’ long, intelligent serpents with lizard-like heads and legs. Bright orange/yellow/red scales. Natives of the plane of elemental fire, but also live in volcanoes and scorching deserts.


Armour Class2 [17]
Hit Dice8* (36hp)
Attacks2 × claw (1d4), 1 × bite (1d8), 1 × heat aura (1d8)
THAC012 [+7]
Movement120’ (40’)
Saving ThrowsD8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (8)
Morale8
AlignmentNeutral
XP1,200
Number Appearing1d4+1 (2d4)
Treasure TypeF

  • Heat aura: All creatures within 20’ suffer 1d8 damage per round.
  • Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
  • Fire immunity: Unharmed by fire.
  • Hate frost salamanders: Will attack on sight.

Frost Salamander

Giant, 6-legged lizards with blue/white scales. Dwell in icy, wilderness regions.


Armour Class3 [16]
Hit Dice12* (54hp)
Attacks4 × claw (1d6), 1 × bite (2d6), 1 × cold aura (1d8)
THAC010 [+9]
Movement120’ (40’)
Saving ThrowsD6 W7 P8 B8 S10 (12)
Morale9
AlignmentChaotic
XP1,900
Number Appearing1d3 (1d3)
Treasure TypeE

  • Cold aura: All creatures within 20’ suffer 1d8 damage per round.
  • Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
  • Cold immunity: Unharmed by cold-based attacks.
  • Hate flame salamanders: Will attack on sight.

Here’s my science-fantasy take on these two:

Thermasaur (Biological)
HD 12, Armour 16, Morale 10, Appearing 1
Attack: 4 x Claws (d6) + Bite (2d6) + Aura (d8 unblockable, Special)
Notes: Believed to have originated on another world, this rare predator is able to alter its body temperature using unusual chemical reactions inside its leathery body. The creature resembles the terrestrial salamander, but has six limbs and attains the size of an armoured vehicle. It attacks from ambush and rapidly raises the temperature of its body to furnace-like levels, literally cooking its prey alive by mere proximity. The Thermasaur is also capable of lowering its body temperature to sub-zero, literally draining the heat from the air around it. The creature seems to use this ability to flash-freeze cooked meat for later consumption.
Aura: Each round, the Thermasaur can change its body temperature between searingly hot and bitterly cold. The heat or chill is so intense that anyone near the creature suffers d8 automatic damage per round. In addition, the heat forces PCs carrying metal items to EGO save or drop the item due to its scalding surface. If the Thermasaur’s aura is cold, any liquids near the creature freeze solid, and all ranged attacks are made with disadvantage due to shivering.

I thought it would be cool to combine both salamanders into something that can switch between the two forms. There’s probably other contextual effects the heat/cold aura could have that I’m not thinking about, but I tried to make a start at them. This is definitely a boss monster, so I’d seed some rumours about it accordingly. I think harvesting the chemicals in its skin for their weird thermo-regulating properties would be a cool reward.

7 thoughts on “B/X TO THE FUTURE”

  1. As always, you hit the monster names on the head. Abilities here are so good, too. Want to use them soon, although I feel like I’m always kicking the everliving crap out of my characters.

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    1. Yeah the tumblesnare seemed rough in the latest episode! I’m pretty excited about the idea of telefragging blink dogs so they may be showing up in my home game sometime soon. I think the Thermasaur would be fun in an area with water so he can freeze it or turn it into boiling steam each round.

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  2. This is a really helpful post for converting monsters to the setting. I like the commentary on your thinking process while reskinning these mobs. Did these come from the OSR SRD? It is giving me an idea about creating a separate section in the SRD for OGL content that we can not mix with the CC BY-SA 4.0 license of VoV.

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    1. Yeah they’re copy pasted from the OSE SRD, which yeah I don’t think is CC licensed but I’m pretty sure is ok for the blog. Can’t see Gavin getting upset about it anyway since OSE’s whole deal is repackaging old material.

      I hope it’s actually helpful for conversions! I realised there’s not much you can do to systematise reflavouring because its so subjective. But I did find this a good source of ‘new’ creatures so I’ll almost certainly do another of these OSE conversions next time I need content. Sometime I might look at creatures from a system that actually require stat conversion.

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      1. What I was meaning is it would be neat to post these (and in the future many more) Vaarn flavored reskins of classic monsters in the bestiary in the VoV SRD. However, the classic monsters are under the Open Gaming License, which is not compatible with the CC BY SA license used by VoV, so the content can’t be mixed without annotations for each reskinned monster. If there was a separate bestiary for these conversions, we could place a blanket OGL license on them and will be in compliance. Regarding your use of them on your blog, its my belief you are in compliance with the OGL and you don’t have anything to worry about.

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      2. Cool, I suppose if it’s only the rewritten versions they’re my work right? They get new names and new descriptions, I think it’s just the copy pasted text from the OSE SRD that’s OGL. Like my stat block for the Thermasaur is my own writing, even though it was inspired by the frost and flame salamanders.

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