March 2013 Archives

Eye of the Assimilator

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Artifact Type:
Very Rare
0.75 lb.
Magical Effect:
Allows wielder to impersonate any creature or individual, up to large size (12′) for d100 minutes, provided the wielder was able to obtain a sample of the subject.

The Eye of the Assimilator is a powerful and dangerous relic that consists of the petrified eye of a Slavering Assimilator mounted like a sinister jewel in a gnarled metal wand. This wand allows the wielder to impersonate any creature up to ogre size (approximately 12′ in height) provided they've been able to obtain a tissue sample, such as hair or blood. The sample needn't be fresh, but it must be real.

Use of the device is exhausting, and the effect will fade in d100 minutes. This artifact is dangerous, for the thing still lives within the core of its petrified eye. If the wand is shattered, sentient living tissue will be released and will seek out the most recent user and attempt to kill and replicate them when they are alone.

Adventurers who acquire this relic may be unaware of its living nature, unless they are well versed in its lore. They are most likely to assume that the eye is actually a polished gemstone. Woe to those who try to pry the "gem" loose from its setting.

A Field Guide to the Little People


"A Field Guide to the Little People" by Nancy Arrowsmith and George Moorse is a great little book in the "fairies and elves" genre of the '70s. Published in 1977, this book is structured like a naturalists' field guide. It describes approximately 80 creatures, divided into Light Elves, Dark Elves, and Dusky Elves. Each creature entry begins with an overview of its place in folklore, followed by a description of the creature's physical appearance and habitat. Many of the entries also include a few short folktales to put the creature in their cultural context.


What really sets this book apart and makes it one of my favorites is the layout and artwork. First of all, the section headers in the book are calligraphy instead of type. The true stars of the book, however, are the pen and ink illustrations. They're done in a loose, gestural style that complements the primitive darkness inherent in much of the folklore described in the book. They're occasionally indistinct, like the vague afterimage of a nightmare left after waking. These are not sweetness-and-light pastel watercolor fairies. These are the dark, mischievous and occasionally downright evil creatures that lurk in the dark corners of the Dark Ages. In some ways, the illustrations remind me a bit of Goya's phantasms in "Los Caprichos," but that is another post for another time.


I bought this book a number of years ago and always loved the illustrations, but it was only recently that I realized that the illustrator, Heinz Edelmann, is the artist responsible for the visual design of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" animated film. Now, I'm not exactly the world's biggest Beatles fan, but as a kid, I always thought the psychedelic visual design of that film was, well, more than a little creepy (just look at the Blue Meanies and the giant pointing hand and you'll see what I mean). The fact that the same artist is responsible for the disturbing, primitive and borderline obscene creatures found in this book confirms that Edelmann had a knack for combining the whimsical and the disturbing.


Several of my favorite illustrations from the book are reproduced here, including the Night Elves (which look like they're straight out of a Goya etching), the Rusalka from the Ukraine and the Callicantzaro and the Koutsodaimonas from Greece. There are too many excellent illustrations in the book to reproduce here, so I recommend picking up a copy if you feel so inclined. Who knows, maybe I'll do my own interpretation of one of the creatures from this book at some point.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. Illus. Heinz Edelmann. A Field Guide to the Little People. New York: Pocket, 1977. Print.


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Armor Category:
7 [12]
Monster Type:
Health Dice:
Malevolent Chaos
120' (30')
No. Appearing:
Attacks & Damage:
† Claws or Tendrils (2)1d6 -- † Bite 1d6
Special Attacks & Abilities:
†  Toxic Touch:  (Save: Toxins) A wound caused by a vermincarnate attack has a 75% chance of leading to paralysis in 1d6 turns and agonizing death in 2d6 unless the victim successfully saves.
Turn Immunity:  A vermincarnate is not undead and cannot be turned.
Necrophagic Infestation:  It will drag a corpse back to an isolated area to begin the infestation process. Full animation takes 1d4 days.
Treasure & Possessions: 5d6 gold pieces, random shards of weapon and armor. 20% chance of alien artifact or magic item.

AC [Desc] 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
To Hit 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
AC [Asc] 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Blast or Breath Toxin or Disease Ray or Gaze Magical Device Spells
6 7 8 10 9

The vermincarnate, or putrescent scourge, results when the corpse of a murderous soul is devoured from within by a necrophagic alien parasite. Hailing from a dead world beyond the stars, this putrescent scourge has found a new home in the dark corners of the world; infesting, reanimating and consuming its hosts.

Unable to move far by itself, the vermincarnate relies upon a host cadaver for ambulation. It is easily mistaken for undead at a distance, but is just an animated husk and as such is immune to turning.

Ecology & Tactics
While in the pupal stage, the vermincarnate covers its host corpse in an air-tight film of noxious slime. As it develops, it remains in hiding, gradually overtaking the entire muscular and nervous systems of its deceased host. Only when it fully matures and emerges from its mucus sac is it capable of animating its host cadaver. A vermincarnate has a limited lifespan, as it derives its food primarily from the host. The parasite can remain hidden within the host, revealing itself only when threatened. In its final stage, the vermincarnate appears as a mass of writhing alien worms in the approximate shape of the now devoured host.

While it cannot infest the living yet, a vermincarnate has only one goal once it has successfully animated a host; the procurement of the next one. It attacks with single-minded savagery; lacerating opponents with claws and tendrils, using biotoxins to free up an adversary's body for its own purposes. It is driven by one primal urge: survival. If it does not find a host soon after consuming its current one, it will die.

This monster was inspired by any of a number of horrific parasites in fiction and film, but is also a homage to death metal cover art. The monster's name sounds so much like a band name that I made a logo for it.

The Shadow Over Mendocino


Last month, I traveled to the Redwood Coast for the first time in years. It is without a doubt my favorite locale in Northern California. Whenever I visit, I'm always struck by the majestic scenery; towering, weathered cliffs that descend into treacherous surf. Of course, being a gamer and a Lovecraft fan, I can't help but envision various horrific aquatic monstrosities lurking beneath the surf. This photograph was taken in 2005 at Mendocino Headlands State Park. I've taken lots of photos on numerous trips to the area, but none of them capture the harsh majesty of this section of coast like this one does.

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