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[Let's Read] Fantasy Craft

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Bestiary, M-P

Manticore: Nothing you haven’t seen if you’ve seen D&D.

Merfolk: Okay, now here’s an interesting one: Large Fey Swimmer. Swimmer is obvious, but I’ve gotten used to merfolk being on land for various reasons (wonder what the stats of a wheelchair are....). Fey is semi-obvious because it’s kind of like saying “Magical Folk” (plus they’ve got a natural spell for summoning animals). But Large.....I guess they’re really long? FC doesn’t have any way to take into consideration a human-sized torso on a larger abdomen. They’ve also got Conch Horn attack to deafen you with.

Mimic: We’re really doubling-down on using chameleon (indoors/settled) to stand in for changing into/looking like furniture. Not much else needs to be said.

Minotaur: Wow! Not flavored as evil or cruel; nothing about eating people! At worst they’re a species of dude-bros: “one should be prepared, of course, for constant self-aggrandizing stories about the minotaur’s wisdom, strength, skill at arms, and virility”. Their stats work towards the usual idea of them having an innate spacial awareness (always ready, condition immunity (flat-footed), natural spell (Orient Self). Beyond that they’re charging, semi-fearless berserkers.

Monstrous Insect: Big bugs. Their tactics entry says the have “little self-preservation”, but neither has the requisite fearless II, so I assume they run away like everyone else.
* Bleeding Murks are giant mosquitoes....who drink your soul! No, seriously: the flavor text says “blood-sucking”, but the stats use the soul-drain attack rather than a life-drain one.
* Fire Beetles are the usual “bombadier beetles taken to 11”.

Monstrous Plants: Because in pulp fantasy everything has to try to kill you. (Not that I’m against it, but the over-the-top-ness is kind of silly.)
* Fanged Vase: Not a pitcher-plant: more like a cartoon snapper flower with limbs. Our first immobile monster, and with no chameleon or any stealth skills it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid. Not only has an Int score, but an Int of 3: smarter than some animals, which makes a kind of sense.
* Slasher Vine: Animate strangler vines. Who blend in with those decorative trellises, if chameleon I (indoors/settled) is anything to go by.

Mummy: Wish this was a template; sadly is not. Certainly designed to be a horror encounter: has a quality allowing it to deal stress damage, its punches infect with a flesh-eating virus, it can curse you to be less confident/pretty, and can slow you with a swarm of beetles. Plus veteran I so it’s alway 1 level above the party.

Myrmidon: FC’s version of sapient giant ants. In this case the flavor text really adds to the whole package: they’re a definite hive-mind with not much to the individual parts. They speak through multiple individuals and refer to themselves in plural. They basically suck at social interactions, backed up in the stats with banned action (Bluff, Impress, Intimidate). This time their sting is a Gore attack. Everything else is what you’d expect from a human-sized ant.

Naga: Another neutral guardian creature. They’re influenced by what they’re guarding: if it’s icky they turn mean, while if it’s all shiny they go paladin. They’re also serious sorcerers: they have a variety of spells like Mirror Image and Fireball I. Plus they can always fall back on thei snake venom, including a spitting cobra-type attack. Their type is Beast Fey which totally makes sense.

Nightmare: Evil death-metal-horses: they fly and have flaming hooves. They’re Spirits, meaning they can go incorporeal, but they aren’t Outsiders. Question is if that’s a self-imposed type limit or Nightmares just aren’ that kind of supernatural. Of course since they’re Beasts they can make intelligent use of skills like Intimidate V, Sneak V, and Survival VI to track you down and jump-scare you.

Ogre: “Third base!”

Oozes: Your standard slimes. We’ve got Gelatinous Cubes for that “fits in dungeons and keeps them clean” function, Jellies so we can have giant amoebas, and Puddings.....because the other two are Animal Oozes, so we need one that was just an Ooze. Other than the Puddings being described as having a malevolent hive intelligence I can’t really think of anything to point out.

Orc, Pech: Both Rogue Templates.

Pegasus: So the Good Guys can also have flying horses: “blood of the gods”, “the mightiest heroes prove their worth”, that sort of thing. Somewhat sadly they’re an Animal (Int 5), and have stats that suggest more transport than fighting companion, apart from natural spell (Gust of Wind).


Next: R-S
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Bestiary, R-S

Rakshasa: Wow, are these guys bad news: they really like emotionally tormenting people. Also they’re almost immune to low-level physical damage thanks to damage reduction 8......with a caveat: it can be bypassed by bow damage. As far as I know rakshasa are the only NPCs in this book who have “DR/[thing]”: it shows up in Species Feats, but that’s it. Doesn’t give any cost discount as far as I can tell. Other than that they’re shapeshifting spellcasters.....but at least they’re allowed to have monkey heads as well as tiger.

Raptor: Chocobos. They even end the first paragraph with “Choco!” But really, any large, flightless bird with a huge, damaging beak will do. Comes in Riding/Wild and War varieties.

Rhino: Lesser versions of the Triceratops, mechanically-speaking. Except Int, where they come out a point ahead.

Rootwalker: Rogue Template. I kind of wish they’d done a treant stat block, mainly because drakes, unborn, and Rock Brave ogres all get “full” versions of the creatures they’re based on.

Rust Monster: I’m not quite sure these guys needed to be Horrors: even despite being weird creatures that players fear I feel like these guys are simply unusual Animals (they’re Animal Horrors here). They do have a grade V damage (metals only) attack, which is annoying in FC for reasons of losing your heavily-upgraded stuff.

Salamander: D&D’s fire half-snakes. But at least they’re described neutrally: at worst it’s only a rumor that burn up people and steal their stuff. The rest of their description makes them out to be excellent metal-crafters and level-headed combatants.

Saurian: Rogue Template. Does anyone actually want me to comment on these?

Scavenger Worm: Carrion crawler. Right down to the paralyzing tentacles, which it can use out-of-turn with feat (Combat Instincts) (it says so right in the book). Another Animal Horror that probably doesn’t need to be a Horror.

Sea Devil: From the description they sound more like Lovecraft’s deep ones than sahuagin (and it’s not because sahuagin aren’t OGL). In some ways that makes me feel okay about them being genocidal xenophobes (that, and the fact that it’s driven by theocratic religious beliefs). According to their stats they can’t lie (banned action (Bluff)) and have condition immunity (entangled, held), probably because they’re described like a combination eel and blob-fish.

Shadow Beast: FC’s way more creative take on the displacer beast: instead of looking like it’s in another place it’s shadowy to the point that sometimes it’s not even there when you hit it (damage defiance (lethal, subdual)). It’s even a Outsider in addition to Beast.

Skeleton: Template.

Slime: More of a trap than a real monster, it’s Immobile and has 1 for every attribute except Str and Con and ever trait except Health. It’s also got damage immunity (lethal, subdual), so pretty much you need to hit it with something other than a weapon. Or fire. Fire works very well. Because if you don’t kill it, it can turn you into one of it by either infection or by killing you.

Spiders, Giant: Warning: contains description of big spiders. The Brown Stalker is Small, so if you have a dog or a kid look at them and imagine a spider that size that can make you start flopping over yourself with their slowing poison. Then imagine one the size of a horse and that can throw webs at you: that’s the Great Lasher.

Sporling: Mushroom-people. They seem more like background NPCs than combat opponents: they’re described as “inherently non-confrontational”, plus they’ve got meek (-4 to Morale checks). At best they have acidic slime on their skin and can puff out hallucinogenic spores (slowing attack). It’s a cute idea: I do like having (mostly) harmless monster types for flavor reasons.

Stirge: I don’t know why we need both these and Bleeding Murk. Again, and D&D alumni, so there’s not much that needs saying as you can look them up on one of those sites and know all there is to know.


Next: T-Z.
 

Felix

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Rust Monster: I’m not quite sure these guys needed to be Horrors: even despite being weird creatures that players fear I feel like these guys are simply unusual Animals (they’re Animal Horrors here). They do have a grade V damage (metals only) attack, which is annoying in FC for reasons of losing your heavily-upgraded stuff.
Yeah. That Horror classification is strange. Especially because the benefits of being an abomination -- animals avoid it, there's a morale penalty to seeing it, etc. -- don't make sense. I'd think a rust monster has more to worry about from animals than humans, since a bear for example isn't worried about losing his sword -- thus the tough plating and basic ability to defend itself. Being an armadillo with beetle-like features doesn't seem that alien for a fantasy world.

I believe that part of the issue might be that games based on the 3.x design struggle with monsters who consume unusual resources like equipment instead of costing characters health/spell points/wand charges/etc. to defeat them. So making them a Horror may have been some attempt to keep them scary in non-equipment destroying ways.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
I believe that part of the issue might be that games based on the 3.x design struggle with monsters who consume unusual resources like equipment instead of costing characters health/spell points/wand charges/etc. to defeat them. So making them a Horror may have been some attempt to keep them scary in non-equipment destroying ways.
My feeling is someone was converting from D&D stats and just went "aberration >> horror".

Now if they'd redesigned their appearance the same way they did with the Shadow Beast or the upcoming Watcher In The Dark then it would have been cool.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Double-feature today!


Bestiary, T-Z

Tarasque: I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with this one: it’s 438 XP, which includes regeneration 40! I’m not even going to mention the other expensive stuff because regeneration 40. And it’s always 5 levels higher from veteran V. I don’t think this stat-block exists to be use, I think someone put it in to show how gonzo you could get. What is cool as it’s described as having “six squat legs” which puts it closer to the folkoric version than D&D. (Also its another Beast with low Int.)

Tigers: A big cat that can sneak up on you and bite your head open. Also comes in a saber-toothed variant so it can hunt mammoths (remember these are pulp variants, so Bite V is perfectly reasonable).

Troglodyte: Stinky lizard-folk. Also they are inbred, which the description goes into one detail too many on (by that I mean “it says one thing about it more than just ‘inbred’”).

Troll: Why this is its own entry when we have the Rock Brave feat I don’t know. Flavor-text-wise they sound more like the trolls from the Peter Jackson LotR movies than the lanky green things from D&D. Even then they still have the regeneration and claws more characteristic of D&D rather than, say, any folklore I’ve encountered.

Turtle, Giant: Amphibious rather than the kind with flippers, despite being flavored as “aquatic mules”. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe they aren meant to be the kind with flippers, but those type shouldn’t have anywhere near half the speed of an average FC human.

Unborn: Rogue Template.

Unicorn: So this gets to be a Beast (and Fey, makes total sense) but not the Pegasus. I guess the Crafty Designers didn’t want unicorns to be a default option for Animal Partner. Has the requisite healing and anti-poison powers, and the horn deals Divine damage. Standard goodie-goods, though: might have been a nice time to give them some ambiguity.

Vampire: Template in the next section. To be perfectly honest this undead could have been its own thing and “mummy” would have then been a template. Because real people actually mummified things other than humans. If you needed the vampire to be different kinds of beings you could just use Rogue Templates on it; I personally think vampires work better as human-ish beings. YMMV.

Watcher in the Dark: Beholders in D&D don’t work for me. These do: their flavor text doesn’t describe appearance in detail, just mad ramblings and scared rumors. Means I don’t have to imagine the occasionally goofy-looking D&D floating cyclopes-medusa. Unfortunately “they hate all life”, so no weird Lovecraftian neutrality. They have 6 “Judgements” to impose a variety of conditions or damages as gaze attacks (meaning they aren’t like beholder beams because “gaze” requires they make eye-contact). The fact that they have the Beast (in addition to Horror; this time it’s appropriate) is so they don’t have hands.

Water Serpent: Weird thing here: the type says “Animal” but it has an Int of 8 (also “damage reduction II”; I’m guessing that’s an old version and it should be “2”). Other than that they’re giant sea snakes, right down to the poisonous bite. But they can also breath water.

Wight: Specifically these guys are risen peat/bog mummies or victims thereof. Very, very sneaky bog mummies, with Sneak X, the Night Fighting feat, and a soul-draining claw attack. The bog mummy angle means I don’t have a problem with these guys not being a template.

Will O’ Wisp: Evil Spirits (that’s their only type) who use beguiling to lead people into frightening situations to feed on their fear. Also they can zap you for random reasons.

Wolves: When I first read this entry way back when I was surprised that FC had chosen to make regular wolves Small, with only the Pack Leaders (who may occasionally be captured for use as Riding Wolves) being Medium. “Because D&D said X”. But it actually makes sense after thinking about it. (Pack Leaders also have Int 5 vs other wolves’ Int 3.) Vargr, on the other paw, are your talking giant wolves (who can crit). Because why not?

Wyvern: Two-winged Beast with Int 6 and a stinger tail with paralysis poison. And immunity to paralysis, which even dragons don’t have, which is Fridge Brilliance if you assume it comes from being immune to their own poison.

Zombie: In the next section, but the template is called “risen” for some reason.


So that wasn’t nearly as interesting as I thought it was going to be. Mostly conversions. Practically all conversions.

Next: Templates. If you thought Fantasy Craft shined making monsters, wait till you see what using templates is like!
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
I think they should be intelligent. Maybe not able to speak, but at least as smart as a person.
Determining whether something was an Animal or Beast might have come down to whether they were on the mount list on p 170.

I don't necessarily disagree, but I can guess why the decision was made.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
Bestiary, Templates

Before we start the template we’re told more-or-less not to sweat it when the template makes an adjustment that would change how the template costs (e.g. raises a trait above grade X) or should change a cost but doesn’t (reduction in attribute scores don’t give points back even above 10). And then says we may have to use judgement if it does something illegal. Only one of these templates is so complicated that I’d simply hand-wave minor discrepancies: it’s not that many things you have to look out and make adjustments for.

Alpha: Not just the strongest, quickest, and best but they also have a little leadership ability (class ability (Captain: battle planning I)). They get treacherous and veteran II, so they also make good boss monsters.

The two examples are the Alpha Hobgoblin to cover “boss of evil humanoids” and the Alpha Saber-tooth Tiger to be your ultimate nemesis in an Ice Age game.

Ancient: The “old cagey bastard” template: raise Int, Wis, and Competence and gain a couple skill-based class abilities, but take some penalties that indicate your body isn’t what it used to be.

Examples are the Ancient Ghoul to stand as a “fat king” of their kind, and Ancient Naga to double-down on their mind-based guarding archetype.

Clockwork: Representing not just pure clockwork but also steam, magic, or other kind of motive technology. A very simple template that just ads Construct, damage reduction, and a grade III Slam.

The Clockwork Sprite is the whole “toy-like robot gone wrong”. Clockwork Watchmen are simply standard tin soldiers.

Dire: Because of course! Note that nothing is said about spikey-ness, just that these are bigger (+2 Size), tougher (extra Str and Con, two grades of crit absorption), and make people primally nervous.

Dire Bear is a cave bear, though probably not a realistic one. The Dire Gelatinous Cube is a 100 ft cube of jello that’s gonna eat you.

Ghostly: Incorporeal undead with the ability to cause stress damage and drain your soul. Semi-weirdly you can add the template to stuff that’s already Undead.

The Ghostly Hell Hound brings up a rules question: Outsiders aren’t listed as allowing this template, but Beasts are. So if a creature has only one of the listed types it still counts? Note this makes the GHH an Animal Outsider Spirit Undead, contradicting me when I said you never got more than 2 types. Flavor-text has it set up as a sort of Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Ghostly Goblin Strumpet combines the words “goblin” and “strumpet” and I’ve seen too much of the Internet to not know what that’d look like. We get a little dark with the mention that she was the “victim of a horrible hate crime”. There was debate at one point over her combat effectiveness, revolving around the fact that if she has to become corporeal to attack her Defense I makes her terribly vulnerable. My guess is she’s more of a stat-ed plot device.

Heavenly: The Good Guy/celestial template. We know this because they get devoted (Good II). While it mentions they’re “ideal” it defines this by species, meaning you could have a Heavenly Troll who’s particularly hideous because that’s what trolls like.

The examples are a Heavenly Griffon to bestow upon your Mary Sue Isekai protagonist, and a Heavenly Knight who points out you could get this template by methods such as drinking from a “sacred vessel” (*wink wink*, *nudge nudge*).

Infernal: The opposite of the last one. Note Heavely gave a boost to Wis and Cha, while this does so for Str and Int; something of an arbitrary choice. Also each gives natural spell: Infernal’s two are Command I and Disguise Self.

Examples are an Infernal Hag and an Infernal Troll. A bit too obvious both times.

Immature: In D&D this would be an excuse to kill the kid forms. In Fantasy Craft the fact that this subtracts 20 XP means it’s great for getting that Animal Partner/Personal Lieutenant for 4 less feats. Basically anything that is an NPC quality decreases by 2, including Size.

The examples are Immature Bullette and Immature Fire Dragon. As you can imagine -20 XP does do a whole lot to make the latter any less scary (still 223 XP, though as said earlier it might be more if you did it out long-style).

Kaiju: For when you need to go the other way and make the NPC bigger. A lot bigger: this template sets the size to Enormous, the second-highest, which is up to 250 ft in one direction. They gain 125 XP worth of stuff, among them damage immunity (stress, subdual) and condition immunity (frightened) so you can be absolutely certain they have no fear. And they can cause it with three qualities that allow them to cause stress damage. Plus veteran V so they’re always better than the PCs.

The examples have the ocean attack you in the form of a Kaiju Elder Water Elemental, or
Godzilla a Kaiju Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Lich: The flavor text clearly lays out the usual “they’ve made a deal that’s evil because it’s evil to want to live longer”. Not really surprising there’s a requirement that the base creature have a Spellcasting Signature Skill. In addition to the immunities that come with being undead they are immune to 4 “emotion”-type conditions, cold and electricity (not sure why D&D gave it the latter), and turning so you can’t “cleric” them into submission. There’s a little extra note adding in the phylactery, with the twist that if it’s destroyed the lich is returned to their previous state.

The Lich Necromancer is obvious. The Lich Royal Dragon is also, sort of, if you know about D&D and how much it likes making dragon-related things special.

Predatory: Super-teamwork-enhanced-killers. Gains Tactics V and a bunch of teamwork feats.

The examples are a Predatory Gnoll and a Predatory Myrmidon. I suppose it’s nice someone considered a gnoll for a smarts-related template.

Risen: Zombies. Become tougher but slow down and get less-skilled (but not stupid; they keep their Int). Also apparently you need to fall under kingdom animalia or be a weird alien (Horror) to be subject to this; no zombie elves.

The Risen Peasant is there as cannon-fodder, but the Risen Watcher in the Dark points out that even a zombie can be terrifying if it’s made out of the right thing.

Skeletal: Same restrictions on who can be made this. Gains about what you’d expect, modified to fit how FC determines weapon damage: achilles heel (blunt), damage defiance (edged) (which means half damage), and damage immunity (bows).

They give you a Skeletal Man-at-Arms for your Harryhausen gaming, and a Skeletal Triceratops so they can put this badass picture of one doing a Kool-Aid man into a fancy party next door.

Vampiric: Interesting: you can’t have vampiric Animals, but all the other “natural” types -- plus Outsider -- are included. Technically they’re not destroyed by sunlight, only specific Flash damage, which is semi-in-line with how it worked in Bram Stoker.

We get a Vampiric Elf Nobleman because elves needed to be even more [insert bad words]. The Vampiric Chaos Beast just seems superfluous.


OGL Conversion

I am not going to talk much about this section because I’m don’t personally care for it. I can see the argument for providing guidelines to allow conversion, but having tried to use them I think they’re misleading and I would rather the page-count have been used for something else.

The basics are it tries to point out what the FC equivalents to stuff from D&D stat-blocks might be, and even tries to give concrete number conversion rules.


Next: Wait....is that.....Yes, it's Chapter 7: Worlds, the setting-building chapter! The last one! We're almost done!
 
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