Periodic Table of Dragons/Bestiary
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This section lists out all monsters and hazards aside from dragons that could be later included in a bestiary for the setting. Everything is categorized by habitat and threat level. Possible habitats are as follows: Forest, Jungle, Grasslands, Desert, Snowforest, Tundra, Arctic, Mountains, Caves, Aquatic, Coastal, Urban, and Other (Specify). Threat levels range from 1-5, and are not a formal CR system but rather a means for us to loosely gauge how dangerous monsters are and see if particular habitats need more weak or strong monsters.
Threat level 1 would be something that your average adventurer can and does regularly defend himself against, and even an untrained (but healthy) non-adventurer has a good chance at fighting off.
Threat level 2 is what an average adventurer thinks of as dangerous- it can be fought off or overcome, but you'd best be prepared for it because it will kill you if you aren't.
Threat level 3 is the reason you travel in groups, a particularly skillful and powerful adventurer can fight something of this range by themselves but for most adventurers, being caught alone by this means certain death unless you're really lucky.
Threat level 4 are the really scary monsters that can wipe out villages unless a timely hero or small battalion of soldiers comes by to save them.
Threat level 5 are the things that you field armies against, and it's where a lot of our dragons are categorized. A man who slays this sort of beast alone is instantly flung into legendary status.
Format monsters as "Name (Habitat, Threat Level): Description", and try to make sure we cover a wide variety. We don't need five different forest monsters all at TL 2, after all. Let's proceed for now with the assumption that we will later make a bestiary. We should aim for around 4-6 entries for each habitat, and most regions probably won't have monsters at TL 5 (even TL 4 monsters might not be in every biome). That works out to a bestiary with somewhere between 50 and 80 monsters in it, but don't rush and try to pump out tons of stuff to fill it. We want quality over quantity, so if you want something to end up in the hypothetical bestiary (here's hoping that we get that far with this project!), take care to make something creative and interesting that fills a logical role in the environment and would be sensible to throw at players in a game.
- Ambursine (Forest, TL 1): These plant creatures are dangerous to those who are unprepared or unwary. They are known to dig shallow pits and fill them with their sap, which possesses many of the qualities of quicksand. Upon stepping on seemingly solid ground, an adventurer will find themselves up to their ankles in a substance that is at first very thin, but quickly becomes extremely viscous with agitation, such as someone trying to step out of the puddle. As the trapped person struggles, more of the substance hardens, eventually becoming a solid mass. Melting your way out is extremely unadvised, as the sap is more flammable than pine sap; it has been known to ignite from boiling water. Walking out of your boots is an option, but these creatures never dig only one trap, often creating 5 or more. Forest roads are particularly vulnerable, carrying a walking stick to test the ground ahead is highly recommended. Fully hardened chunks of this sap are highly valued as fire-starters by adventurers, being soft enough to carve a fire rune into and able to start even wet wood. The creatures themselves are rarely seen and their true appearance is unknown, though the most frequent description is that of a bear with pine needles instead of fur.
- Belief-eaters (Any, TL 4)- Highly-dangerous protean monsters that feed off of belief, belief-eaters grow stronger from eating beliefs. Belief-eaters frequently prey upon orcs, given that members of the race are almost universally in possession of the kind of strong philosophical beliefs that belief-eaters eat. The appearance of a belief-eater is influenced by the type of belief it consumes. A belief-eater that eats the belief of a fire-worshiper will be surrounded by flames, for example. Some of these creatures have enslaved tribes of orcs by posing as gods or spirits. These 'shaman' orcs are viewed as pitiful creatures by the other tribes, who, depending on their philosophy, either avoid them or try to cure them by killing the belief-eater, causing great battles between tribes. Even if the belief-eater is killed, often the 'cured' tribe will hold a grudge against the tribe that killed it.
- Cloud-noose (Mountain, TL 1)- These monsters float high in the sky and use air bladders to keep themselves afloat. They resemble octopi with long, thin tentacles that never stop growing. Said tentacles are used by these great beasts to snare food and bring it into the clouds to be eaten. The cloud-noose is a solitary creature unless they are mating- afterward fertilization of the eggs, females leave an egg-sack on mountain tops to hatch. After hatching, the babies are usually eaten by birds or captured by adventurers but those that manage to drift along the currents and hide in the great clouds that hang above the spines of the world begin to hunt for food on the ground below. The usual diet is carrion and fish, but there are rare accounts of livestock and even people being grabbed by adults and carried off. However, they are slow and their tentacles can be easily severed by hand.
- Draco-slimes (Any, TL 1 or 2)- Draco-slimes are not actually one species, but rather a collection of parasitic slimes that attack dragons (and as such, live anywhere dragons can be found). Broadly divided into "Liquid Crystal" and "Ferrofluid" types, every draco-slime is associated with a particular kind of dragon whose element they are uniquely suited to dissolve and digest. As a result, though not particularly threatening, a given draco-slime is more dangerous to one particular type of dragon. Oddly enough, it's not an uncommon practice among some kinds of dragons to keep draco-slimes as a pet... but, of course, never the specific kind that would want to feed on their flesh.
- Ember Ants (Snowforest, Tundra, TL 3) Large, semi-nomadic ant colonies. During the harsh arctic winter they hole up in hollow trees, small caves and other enclosed spaces. During the summer they roam the land, eating whatever the come across. Their name comes from their orange and black coloration and the fact that they leave a blackened trail where they pass. Each ant is an inch long or more, with the soldier ants reaching 1.5 inches. When crushed, special substances in the abdomen mix producing a small ball of flame. Individually they are no threat, but even a small colony is more than most can handle, setting fire to pant legs, equipment and appendages. Fire, even a campfire, enrages them and causes them to mount a suicide charge against the source. The bites are extremely painful. Also called Fire Ants
- Gem bugs(Jungles, TL 1)- Wasp-like organisms that live in a hive with fiber optic tunnels for communication and whose sting causes crystallization of flesh. They eat crystals, and aren't picky about using their sting to make food.
- Glitterbird (Forest, Jungle, Aquatic, Swamps and bogs, TL 1-2) Found anywhere with sufficient fresh water, these birds have a highly unique life cycle. They are all brightly colored, though the patterns vary between species and habitats. They have a unique crystalline growth on their breasts which appears as a faceted opal or diamond. They possess no offensive capabilities beyond their namesake ability; when they feel threatened by a predator or greedy adventurer, the growth emits strobes of colored light which will either put the individual into a trance or induce seizures. However, during mating season in late spring and early summer (in non-temperate zones, shortly after the rains) the threat of these animals increases as the males all strive to impress the females with the brightness of their crystals. Though as dangerous as this time is, it is the females that should be feared. Once they are ready to lay eggs, they search out a large animal and, through a combination of a specialized "dance" and the strobing of their crystals, paralyze it and lay a large clutch of eggs in the mouth. These eggs, no larger than a pea, hatch within an hour of being laid and swim down the esophagus, then consume the animal from within. The victim seldom knows they are dying, as the penguin-like chicks exude an anesthetic substance from their skins. The last stage of infection (and often the only indication of what has happened) is intense thirst approximately 2 weeks after the eggs have been laid, victims have been known to kneel chest-deep in streams and drink until they literally burst, releasing the next generation. The chicks spend several years in an aquatic environment before growing feathers.
The only known symptom of infection is a decrease in appetite. Given the difficulty of detection, little is known about treating the victim, though medical alchemists have had some luck with feeding the patient high levels of salt in conjunction with bitter herbs. Wizards who can use a Purge rune will find some success as well, though since this method removes ALL foreign material from the body, including the contents of the bowels, caution is advisable.
- Glowflies (Caves, TL 1) These large insects are found in most caves. They are frequently found in colonies of 50 or more and lure prey with the soft green light they produce in their abdomen. When a food source gets close enough, they simultaneously leap into the air and circle it at high speeds, flashing their lights and biting to suck blood. The bites are not painful or debilitating in and of themselves, but a colony can drain enough blood to severely weaken even a large human.
- Living rocks (Cave, Mountain, TL 2-3) Related to limpets, these molluscs adhere themselves to rocks near mountain and subterranean paths. They have six extremely tough appendages that they use to capture prey and blend in well with the surrounding stone. They can regenerate amputated limbs in a matter of days and snatch prey with lightning speed, if you don't spot it before it grabs you, you're dead. Their outer shell is nearly impossible to damage and, should the prey be dragged within range, a highly poisonous bite that can kill in minutes. Their shells are extremely lightweight for their toughness and are highly prized as shields.
- Living Sand- (Deserts, TL 1-5)- Living sand is not actually sand at all, but rather a swarm of small, carnivorous insects whose coloration and tiny size makes it easy enough to mistake them for such. Small groupss are relatively harmless, but swarms as large as dunes have been heard of. Fortunately, larger swarms are much rarer than smaller ones.
- Micaraptors (Jungles, TL 1)- A tiny raptor with scales covered in a feathery coat- or rather, razor-sharp slivers of mica that look like feathers. A lone micaraptor is relatively harmless, but they're smart enough to recognize this and tend to hunt in packs.
- Obsidian Therizinosaurs (Forests, TL 3)- Therazinosaurs are a species of dinosaur whose most notable feature are their long claws. These therizinosaurs are made even more threatening because their razor-sharp claws are made of obsidian. Fortunately, they are herbivores.
- Saltwater beasts(Coastal, TL 1) - Animals with "flesh" made of freshwater and bones/shell made of saltwater. They come in imitational forms of various kinds of common animals. They are herded and hunted by coastal denizens due to being one of the few sources of freshwater in the area.
- Shear-Thickening Gorgonopsids(Grasslands, TL 3)- A gorgonopsid with flesh that becomes much harder when struck with blunt force. These quadrupedal carnivores have a tough, scaly hide that actually gets even tougher after being struck, thanks to a fluid substance under its skin that thickens in response to blunt impacts. Slashing and piercing weapons can bypass this, but these monsters are extra threatening if all you have to defend yourself with is a blunt weapon like a mace or your fists.
- Thaumavores(Any, TL 1 or 3)- Thaumovores, while harmless to most beings, are deadly to magic-users. They will hunt them down and drain the mana from them in a very harmful fashion, while being nigh-immune to magic directed at them. They gather in places with particularly high amounts of ambient mana, and can be found anywhere that such mana-strong conditions are prominent.
- Blister bush (Forest, TL 2): This small bush (at times a vine) is common where the undergrowth is sparse. Travelers often think to take a shortcut through these areas and strongly regret leaving the path afterwards. The leaves of this plant are covered in a corrosive oil that, upon contact with skin, produces blisters and the feeling that your limb is on fire. Cloth is useless against it since the oil easily soaks through it and leather provides little protection; the oil will disintegrate it within an hour. Extreme or prolonged exposure can induce shock and death in most individuals. Some alchemists seek the plant out in order to extract the oil to use for coating weapons. Be warned against burning this plant, as the oil volatilizes easily and inhaling the smoke can cause blisters within the lungs, leading to suffocation.
- Caltrop bush (Grasslands and Forests, TL 3)- This bush draws its name from its seeds which have long spines that are arranged similarly to the spikes on a caltrop. They can easily penetrate leather and are nearly impossible to remove from flesh without causing a great deal more damage. Cutting the individual seeds out is usually necessary. The seeds grow in clusters of 4-5 and as they reach maturity the cluster explodes violently, flinging the seeds up to 100 ft away. The flowers of this bush are used in several expensive perfumes. A bush can have both mature seeds and flowers on it at the same time.
- Dreamstem (Forest, TL 2)- The berries of this shrub are tasty and nutritious, making them a highly-valued trail food in the Wilds, but all parts of the plant except the berries and seeds are highly toxic, causing terrifying hallucinations and diarrhea to the point of fatal dehydration. Unfortunately the berries are quite small and the stems easily come with them. It takes only 5 stems to poison a grown man. Be careful when picking and inspect all the berries before eating them. Inspiration is drawn from the real-world elderberry plant.
- Fevergrass (Other: Swamps and bogs, TL 1)- For a few lucky individuals this plant poses no danger, but for 80% of the population the pollen of the aptly named fevergrass causes a severe allergic reaction: fevers, trouble breathing, and outbreaks of hives are all common immuno-responses. Fortunately this plant prefers wet areas and bogs, and it only spreads elsewhere during extremely wet years.
- Glassgrass (Grasslands and Forests, TL 2)- A strange sort of grass with sharp silica pieces embedded in the edges. It will cut you even if you only brush it--walking through a patch of the stuff won't do you any better. Burning it is worse, because then the fine silica shards can get in your lungs. Alternate name and real-world inspiration: Ripgut grass.
- Paintree (Forests and Grasslands, TL 4)- This somewhat common tree bears upon all its surfaces miniscule hairs which, when touched or breathed in, causes pain beyond the imagination of any who have not experienced it. Small exposures will cause agony for several weeks or months and can be retriggered by heat or cold for years after. Large exposures cause death. The hairs are easily broken off by wind and can be found several hundred feet downwind of the source. Treatment for skin contact involves waxing the area to pull out the hairs. Also called Gimpi and Stinging Bush. This plant was lifted directly from real life with no changes.
- Poison Green (Aquatic, TL 2 or 3): A form of poisonous algae that flourishes in still water. Swimming in water which hosts it causes tremors, hallucinations and hypersalivation. Drinking water with it causes death within half an hour. Generally, concentrations high enough to affect humans turn the water emerald green, but smaller or slimmer individuals have less tolerance, succumbing to symptoms when exposed to water with only half the concentration necessary to affect a regular human. Because of this, small races like kobolds and halflings are particularly vulnerable to poison green.
- Snare Vines (Jungle, TL 2 or 3)- These vines have serrated thorns which lock onto anything that walks into them as well as each other, often trapping animals and adventurers in a web of barbs. They are resistant to fire and the strong fibers present in the bark will rapidly dull most knives and swords. To escape requires the patience to unhook each vine individually. However, stands of these vines are frequently home to micaraptors whose scaly exterior allows them to easily slip through the vines, and in such cases snare vines are a bigger threat. The fibers of these vines are extremely useful for making rope which is far stronger than any other naturally-derived fiber.
- Take-A-Piece Cactus (Desert, TL 3)- This cactus' spines can penetrate anything softer than iron plate with ease. Pieces break off easily and will grow into a new plant wherever they fall; stands covering several acres are somewhat common. A spine needs to penetrate by less than a millimeter to get a grip. Treatment is the same as for caltrop bush should it penetrate deeply, and washing the wound with tincture of silver is advised, as the spines carry on them an infection which will cause gangrene of the surrounding tissue if left alone. Also called Hugging Cholla. Inspired by the real-world Teddy-Bear Cactus.