Thursday 31 December 2020

Pumpkin-Headed Böggelmen

 [Brief False Machine intermission: Brexit means VAT will start being added to my European orders. On the 4th of January I will export all my current orders to my distribution people, then shut down the store while I try to work out exactly what that means for me. That means when I re-open after the 4th postage will probably be going up.

So if you live outside the UK and want to order *before* that likely postage increase, then do it before the end of the 4th of January.

Ok, thanks for your time.]


The Böggelmen are tall and hairy with rank green fur and red paralysing hands.

Don't let them touch you!

The Böggelmen have squirming bones which bend like branches and round hairless heads exactly the shape of a pumpkin with lidless eyes like mad sharks and pink meaty flesh, like an uncooked sausage. Their head-meat is as wet and soft as raw sausages and they smile with wide lipless mouths full of uneven needle teeth.

The skulls of Böggelmen bend like a babies so they can squeeze them heads into anything, like an octopus in a jar. Same with those long bones, they can come in through a catflap like  cartoon character. Looping and waving is their stride as they walk beneath an autumn moon.


The Böggelmen have paralysing armpit glands. If they shove the sharp claws of their red hands up there and scratch around, then scratch somebody - they can paralyse them, a little like sleep paralysis. Like being locked in a dark dream, half-aware but unable to move. When the paralysis wears off it makes you sleepy, woozy and incoherent, as if you were drunk. If you start talking about Böggelmen in the night, they may not believe you. Maybe you are the only one who knows there is still one hiding in the cupboard.

The Böggelmen like to do these to people who are alone - or people sleeping in a group, they wake one person up and paralyse them, then move about silently and do things in the room with everyone asleep


The Böggelmen love Autumn because the Pumpkins ripen. The pumpkin is exactly the shape of their flexible head and is often carved with faces - which the böggelmen take to be a form of proprietary worship. If a böggelman without a Pumpkin finds a field of them, they will almost certainly carve out one and squeeze their head inside, looking out through two holes. f anyone sees them they may freeze and pretend to be a scarecrow.

(Offerings of carved Pumpkins are one of the few ways to persuade böggelmen to go elsewhere, but more on that later.)

Böggelmen prefer Pumpkins above all things, but if Pumpkins are not available, they will try to wear almost anything that fits around their soft heads - buckets, pots and pans, flowerpots, lampshades.

Reaper Miniatures


Böggelmen are big and string and sneaky enough to simply take what they want most of the time. They have very few needs and little hierarchy, böggelmen are ranked unofficially by the scares they can create, but this is more of a shifting reputational artistic and sporting system than a form of government.

So it is that the Böggelmen have no real need to terrorise people, they just really enjoy it.

Frightening people, especially children, or other vulnerable people like old people living alone or simple people with no protectors, frightening them to hysteria, madness and then death, is the chief source of pleasure in the culture of the böggelmen. In the böggelmens opinion someone being really vulnerable makes them exactly the best person to be scared.

Not quite a religion, but much more than an entertainment - it is the primary source of meaning in their lives and when they are not doing anything else they sit around talking about past scares they have had, future scares they wish to have and news about scares generally.

They also kill people - they can rip your head right off, but that isn't really the point.

Really expert böggelmen will do more than hide around the house and pop up, they will carefully drive someone totally and utterly insane over a period of time. they know their heads are scary and like to leave the big reveal till last.

Böggelmen don't just scare villagers, (though they prefer them best of all), they will scare goblins and ogres and vampires if they can, anyone really. They are not well liked by other creatures but they don't care at all.


Something Böggelmen enjoy is to fold up their bones inside a big coat, acting almost like a normal person, passing in disguise on the street at night, before revealing themselves.

Even more, they like to drive someone mad with fear and then hide, removing all trace of their presence, so that when their victim tells people they are being stalked by böggelmen, no-one will believe them - everyone thinks them mad or strange and this makes them even more lonely and afraid. Then they are trapped in the house, alone with the Böggelmen, who scratch the walls and tap the pipes.

The Böggelmen love all of this. What a scare!

They don't have any magical hiding powers, apart from being very bendy, very strong and quite clever, (they really like hiding in cupboards, wardrobes and under beds), and stealing clothes, making a mess of things, stealing money and precious secret items. They don't actually care about these things, they just love the trouble, suspicion and anger caused when they inexplicably go missing.

A few böggelmen in the endgame like to tear or cut off someones head and leave it somewhere amazing to be found by their victim (they think of the target of their fear as the victim, in most cases the person who got their head torn off was just convenient for that purpose) - this should hopefully send them totally gibberingly insane, at which point the Böggelmen will come out of hiding and dance around them madly and then possibly eat them if they are hungry, leave them there insane, or thrown them down a well or some similar place.

Yes they have no aim but fear itself, what else can be said about them?


How do they live, and where?

In any deep, dark place, somewhere surrounded by rats and dripping with dank. They do not really care about where they live. Up in a roof, in a shed, hiding in a pipe, hanging beneath the axle of a cart, in a bale of hay, underneath a pile of cabbages.


Since Böggelmen will happily scare outsiders as much as villagers, (they do not really care about the differences), they are one of few problems which strangers and villagers share and can be an odd point of co-operation between them.

A Dracula, for instance, might not wish to admit to being scared to those 'in the know' and could, in a roundabout way, ask the PCs for help with a Bugbear problem.

They are truly an enemy to all.

Gaining böggelmens respect; 

- Scares, if you can scare them back, they will be impressed, bow, and leave.
- Free pumpkins.
- Unscarability, if you are impossible to scare they will become frustrated and leave as you are a "dead loss!"

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Wild Doors To Autumn Evenings

In her Parlour of Doors Mab rests surrounded by portals which flock like birds.
At times, either through mischance, the forgetfulness of the Queen, as product of some scheme or trick, or simply through the tearing and altering of causality around the parlour of Doors, portals run wild like escaped pets, scurrying away, creeping along walls pretending to be paintings or mirrors or simple doorways to other rooms.
Cybermice with special wands and nets chase these doors eternally, trying to contain them and bring them back to the Queen.
Though in theory Mab could open doors to any place or time, her nature (Asperger’s-level obsessiveness), means she will only open gateways to times and places were it is *Evening* and *Autumn*.
The sky will be neither light nor fully dark, some stars may be visible, but not all. Half -occluded alien moons will often hang in the sky. it will never be summer or bright.
The autumn in question could be an  alien autumn, but it has to be a biosphere, or a culture area, where there are seasons, and where the gate-point is currently in between the turning from the bright life-giving season to the dark dead season. The relics of dying life, of whatever kind, falling leaves (though they may be silica substrate, frost and snow (not always of water), may be present, but the place not yet quite lifeless, cold, dark or scoured clean.

Ok so I have a design question for the community

I have a thing for stuff like infinite gateways or doors to wherever. I did a version of this in Silent Titans and somewhat got away with it.


In Queen Mab, at least two of the major NPCs/Monsters/Queens, have this ability in some way. Queen Mab herself rests in a Parlour of Doors and wild doors sometimes escape and drift about, hiding, and another Queen, the Pythian, is a bit like Brunan in Silent Titans, an AI with access to layered virtual worlds.

I like writing this stuff in but it distorts the hell out of an adventure to actually make it workable, or useable. Either I have to create a mini parallel world within the adventure which, even if its good, is not the fucking point of the adventure, or I have to put in video-game invisible walls to say "yes this exists and no you can't use it".

So does anyone have any experience with this problem or has anyone apprehended anything which deals with it *as a problem of design*?

Friday 18 December 2020

I Stumble through Pathfinder Bestiary Two

Behold! I have read my way through the Pathfinder Bestiary 2 to bring back information which doubtless most of the rest of you knew about already.

I know absolutely nothing about Pathfinders world or fictive constructs, and I barely glanced past most of the very deep, very detailed stat blocks. The second is probably the bigger problem in fairly talking about the monsters since Pathfinder is very clearly heavily stat oriented and if I'm not reviewing the stats and how they would interact in play then in a very real sense I am not reviewing the monster as it would be in that game.

This will not prevent me from talking about them at length.

I experienced , reading this book, the most remarkable sense of cognitive whiplash. A big chunk of the book is what I feared it would be; D&D cruft. The kind of thing that teenage Patrick might be amazed by but middle aged Patrick is slightly despairing over. There were many points where my eyes glazed over and my head began to nod

Yet, amidst all this there were points where it seemed like the creative team had been allowed, even encouraged to go for a bit of a wander, and in these places, where they reach a little further for inspiration, and risk a little more, I found myself experiencing one of those strange and etherial emotions which is not pain.

To ensure that I may end on a pleasing note I shall begin with...



Few of these are necessarily bad monsters IN OF THEMSELVES. And if this is your first D&D book then explore away, but for aesthetes like ourselves, we have seen enough of these. We know them well. They are bread rolls. One does not request them and one certainly does not expect to find them on the bill.

Badger, Dire Badger Blink Dog, Crysmal, Dhampir, Emperor cobra (snake), Giant Queen bee, Goloath Stag Beetle, ifrit, Mud Elemental!!! Necrophidius - just top putting these in books. Huge number of other things in here under this concept. If I don't mention something consider it here; 


Nereid, Tritons, Undines

These have never been good, they will never be good. Just stop!


Sorry Dinosaurs are cool but if anyone has ever run a game of D&D where there have been multiple "kinds" of Dinosaur and PCs have interacted with them in an interesting way based specifically on the kind of Dinosaur they were like "ah ha this is an allosaurus" - then type in your comments below but it never happened bro. Sorry but dinosaurs in D&D are FILLER IM CALLING IT.

MEGAFAUNA - Slightly better than dinosaurs but what do you DO with them - same problem

DRAGONS - Brine Dragons, Cloud Dragons, Crystal Dragons, Magma Dragons, Umbral Dragons, more dragons just makes them more and more boring. 

DRAKES - Same deal as dragons but worse, flame drake, forest drake, frost drake, sea drake, just let me die


GIANT ANIMALS - Giant Dragonflies, Dire Badgers. I genuinely can't go on so please don't make me.

LYCONTHOPES - werebear, wereboar, weretiger.

TITANS - Elysian, Thanatotic, ok there were only two, for some reason I feared there would be more

TROLLS - Ice Troll, Rock Troll.


So; the Dinosaur/Planar quality growth axis defined - 

Here we have one type of monster, let us say a snake.

Now we shall add another of the same broad concept, but subtly different, and then another, and another and another; Gloom snake, ice snake, smoke snake, cake snake, snake snake,  etc.

There are two broad kinds of curve;

The planar monster curve (we shall look at these laterr) which goes up, then down, then sharply up
And the dragon/drake/snake/giant/titan curve which goes up, then up a bit, then down down down down


Hellcat? Like what?

I mean maybe if a good sword and sorcery artist was painting one on the cover of a book..


A rare Pathfinder deep-dive that is actually rubbish. Like they are a combo of shadow and negative energy, one is a shark one a massive bat, they want to end the world, whatever.

A lot of things in here want to end the world.


Soul Eater  - pffft

Soul Eater you are a blob with arms. Actually this image isn't bad but it can't rescue the concept. "What if X, but a mist" is rarely a fruitful line of enquiry.

Thoqqua lava worm thing?

For some reason lava and fire based creature seem to bring out the worst in the pathfinder crew. Its a snake but lava, its a pile of rocks, but lava, its lava, but angry.

Yrthak - ptranodron with a sonic scream? ehhhhhh

Maybe in a Marvel comic, but only for one issue.


Magma Ooze

We've been through the Pathfinder Lava cruft issue, I will not repeat myself here.


Mist again, but now its basically called 'mist' but in a different way. 


D&D cruft


Ah you tried to come up with your own version of piercer and crossed it with the half-life tentacle things - I get nothing from this sorry.

Winterwight - amazingly bad image and boring concept

This almost defines the concept of D&D cruft, or 'Dungeon Cruft' if you want something more euphonically pleasing, "Its a skeleton, but cold." At least it wasn't a lava skeleton.

Alright. That was a brief gazetteer of "Bad", now we enter the strange interval space of;



I genuinely cannot tell is this is a rubbish blur of ideas or actually so gonzo its good or what. Is it from myth. It doesn't seem to actually do anything interesting but the combo of having like a whole dragon for a tail and also it has living chains for some reason... This one will depend on my mood.


Own-brand Scorpion men I think? They make earthquakes by driving their tentacles into the ground. Could this be good? Is it bad? I do like the idea of monsters making earthquakes not through a spell but by literally penetrating the earth with magic tentacles, though it makes about as much sense. Could be some good moments in an encounter like "Look out they are going to do the tentacle thing" and "Cut off the tentacles!"

Enough! Let us move bravely on to...




Hairless blue alien lions. They are from another planet, not another plane or whatever, which is interesting, and they spread this alien zombie plague. Could be good.

Animate Dream

This might be terrible but its going in due to that dang face.



I genuinely have no specific idea why I like this. Shadow-plane dwelling insect people who wear glowing magical tattoos and live in secret cities crafting shadows sounds pretty 5e cruft but this image and the concept just makes it hang together for me.


 Good image, nice concept, this an old D&D thing?

Mu Spore

 From Godzilla?

Well its a Kaiju but also its an alien spore. Also the fact that its floating like a Zeppelin I like.


 Brain monster. Gets smarter if it gets more brains, puts the brains in these special pods on its back. You can see the pods and work out what its up to right away. Good. Simple, self-explanatory. Wide variety of applications. 



 - I got this reference


(meaningless of these without the complex cultural ecologies which this system doesn't provide here but still nice to have them around)


This is kind of the worst presented of the cryptids. It does not have a lot of the weird mythic energy of the 'real' creature. More goat obsession would be good.


Absolutely lovely. Great powers. Lots of freaky illusion and madness stuff, plus telepathy, it doesn't speak, gaze sends you mental. Not planar, not an alien, no ecology, just an agent of fate? One of the cryptids that carries some of the weird x-files energy of the real thing.

Great image, great monster, would be a wonderful horror villain. Could be terrible as a DM fiat monster if used poorly but if used well...

Water Orm - the Loch ness monster except deliberately magically stealthy - it can turn *into* water, move without trace and can't be detected by most magic.

Its a giant predatory cryptic that leaves no evidence behind, actually a pretty good concept.


Cultural appropriation done, if not right, then *well* - a good image and the spooky semi-magical rules for this one are wonderful. its feet don't exist - bunt away by it running through the air, but it walks as of they do.

Drives a'l near mad, grabs you and carries you off into the wind by just running on the wind, can turn you into one in which case you go mad and run into the wind yourself, your own feet burning away.



Faceless caretakers of reality. No idea how you use these (maybe have the PCs break some rule of reality and then they are chased by them until they can somehow even the scales?) but some wonderful designs.

(Do they know the Mothman??)


Beastly angels, neutral good, ascended furries. You want to bang and/or kill a furry, here you go.

Angels - these are still around I guess, bad really but whatever

Archons - Also angels or something?

Azatas - Chaotic Good fey angel types?


Not demons guys, "dAemons", which are slightly different and want to destroy reality for slightly more neutral reasons.

Astrademon, not that interesting in play it would seem but a lovely design.

I like that these boys compulsively carry bows. They are also 14 feet high and the skulls they use as heads can be any skull but they tend to seek out horse skulls for the purpose which suggests a lot of possible higjinks.

Cruft concept, but wonderful execution. Sometimes you can be a Daemon that's just really into death and that's ok. Its ok to be normal.

See something that summons an evil magical dagger made of raw shadow is a bit eh, but f you say it has four arms and summons exactly four daggers, one for each hand, somehow it gets better.

Inevitables - anti-chaos super-golems, kinda own-brand modrons


Positive energy plan xenophobic bird men? Would be boring but at least they are racist.


Raw chaos dudes, off-brand slaad -  a good idea but that idea was basically slaad and someone already had it. Some good images but this was the best one.


No idea, like neutral evil cambrian explosion demon ghost prima things??? these are pretty good tbh. are these from the kabbalah? I feel like I read about these in Promethia.

Scaedvinar - like the opposites of those xenophobic positive energy bird-dudes, kind of rubbish except they hate those bird guys which makes them more interesting

PETITIONERS - planar ghost things? These guys are how you turn into one of the above,


These things would work really well if you could make them hang out in some kind of semi-civilised environment where they had to argue and scheme over the precise moral dialectics of why they each wanted to save/destroy/dominate reality. Encountering them one by one is not so great I think. need more Sigil.


Marsh Giant 

Cruft concept, great image. 
the other giants; rune giants, tagia giants, wood giants, suck.

Alchemical Golem

Hee he hee


This is the first time I have seen a camel in a beastiary and thought "Fuck I really want to ride a camel."


This is the only time they have ever even looked interesting, they are still rubbish but this is a good picture

Monkey Swarm 

Not even that bad an idea but a great image


Boring monster. Looks metal as fuck here.


Not a bad idea in itself but a great image for the 'transparent flesh' gang


GREMLINS - hey Pathfinder wend deep on gremlins for some reason


Its the fact that their robe is actually back hair, the three blue glowing eyes and that they just really like knecapping people and beating them to death. They are just violent guys! Very strong monster.


Evil bright light fairies this is a surprisingly good idea.

Shining Child is another bright evil thing



Look its still a good idea. I won't say no to a Gug.

Hound of Tindalos 

Great image. Classic monster.


These guys suck very slightly on their own (except for the 'Denizens' of Leng) but would be really good all hanging out in the same market,



These guys disuse themselves by wearing robes and crossing one pair of arms behind their backs.

Denizen of Leng 

While these guys disguise themselves with just a robes situation.

Again I want all these guys hanging out in the same city or something



It blasts you with moonlight I think? (this is actually pretty good)


Something like a lightning-stuck or post-forest-fire tree full of embers or something but its actually some magic spider monster thats also somehow a tree that shoots lightning and poisoned barbs and which also explodes when you kill it? And it has a stealth mode.


Hey its a sticky-backed tusked albino frog mount. Pops grease at you from its pustules. you can ride one but its so sticky back there you might not be able to get off. Good frog energy all round.  


Long hollow claws that drain your life and then change shape to become you, literally eats your hopes and dreams with its bites, can permanently reshape your face like clay - pretty great! Nearly on a MothMan level.


If someone offers you a Pathfinder game where you investigate Cryptids or go to own-brand Sigil or whatever, say yes, but maybe don't as with stat blocks weighted this heavily then it seems to me it would be a nightmare not uantum-ogreing a lot of stuff, which makes investigations and city-adventures somewhat boring pseudo-choice adventures.

But I might be wrong! And even if I'm not maybe you are into that?

Further lessons;

Everyone likes fucking about with Planar Bullshit  and it often brings out the best in people.

You can just stop putting the old cruft monsters in things.

There may be treasure in the Cryptids if you do a deep dive on them.

Rip off Lovecraft

The thematic arrangement of mainstream monster manuals means they will inherently be a bit of an aesthetic and conceptual blur.

Only I and whakoes like me seem to care about this.

What happened to Pathfinder? Whats going on with those mighty-thewed arms and galaxy brains fit to lift and comprehend statblocks of biblical length like heroes of old?