Sword & Wizardry Monster Database

Believe it or not, I'm one of the editors for the Swords & Wizardry SRD site. I haven't been able to do much recently, but the Frogs have put in a lot of time entering monsters from the Tome of Horrors Complete and Mosntrosities. There are also a handful of creatures from modules (like the Kamarupa from Splinters of Faith 10) and the Swords & Wizardry complete rule book (like the Giant Vampire Bat).

Recently, Jeff Barrett posted on G+ asking about a master index of all the S&W monsters from the various books. It's something I wanted to do for a long time, but all my attempts to get a project like this started had previously failed. The biggest hindrance was not owning either of the two big monster books.

Yet, when I saw the post, I tried again using only the data on the SRD site. This time I had great success. In about two hours I was able to get a list of 1150+ creatures' stat blocks into a spreadsheet. It wasn't pretty and some of the AC values were in the Attacks column and stuff like that, but it was a spreadsheet that just needed some data work.

That was eleven days ago.

Since then, I have been harkening back to my DBA days cleaning the data to make a good database. Specifically, this means a list of all the monsters from the SRD site with stat blocks, OGL section 15 information, and adding a column for a "catalog name" that allows me to sort the monsters in the same order as they appear on the SRD. Once finished, the monsters will be sortable by AC, HD, Challenge Level, etc. It is a lot of OCD type of work, but it will lead to what I hope is some useful features for all of us.

For example, after the data is all cleaned up, I wil have a field in the spreadsheet that is a one line stat block that you can copy from to paste into your own house rules/modules. Practically, that means finding the monster(s) you want by sorting, searching, and otherwise manipulating the spreadsheet. Then, copying the one line stat block(s) from the spreadsheet into your Word or LibreOffice document.

This will also lead to other benefits like a master index of creatures by Challenge Level. Looking into the future, it can also lead to indexes of creatures by attack type (acid, poison, teleporting victims into an Iron Maiden, etc.) or special abilities (breath weapon, pyromaniac, carousing, etc.).

The final benefit is that with a spreadsheet full of "good" data (I say that as a former DBA, not as a comment on S&W) it becomes easy to input new creatures from all of us. It also means it will be easier for me and others to publish third-party monsters to the SRD.

I have a Google Doc link that I have shared with the other SRD editors with my daily progress. I am still working on the OGL Sec 15 part, but the bulk of the work is done. Now I'm down to stuff like standardizing the Move stat (some monsters are flying 9, others are fly 9 or 9 fly or fly 9 on Tuesdays while flying twelve on February) I'm not going to change any stats, just make them all say fly 9 or swim 10 instead of fifteen other ways to say how fast a creature flies or swims.

To give you an idea what it look like at this point, here's a screen capture of the Giant Aardvark entry:

For what it is worth, I don't include any monsters from Tome of Horrors 4 or the Rappan Athuk bestiary because I don't own either one yet. I'm one of those folks that will file my taxes on the first possible day (Jan 31st) so maybe I'll be able to buy it soon.

I haven't forgotten about the Magic project and I have drafts of posts for it. Since Sum Bach o Hud, the magic systems book, is a goal for all of 2014, I decided to let my weakness for spreadsheets take over long enough to get this done.

Take My Monster – Please

You'd think that after yesterday, I wouldn't really have a least favorite monster. That's almost correct.

I had said in a couple places that any monster could be reskinned as a human of some kind, but that I still did not like to use humans as monsters for the party to encounter.

So, I thought about it and tried my hand at shemping a couple monsters that are traditionally the most hated D&D monsters ever. These are stated for Swords & Wizardry. Feel free to use them, they are licensed under the OGL.

F.H. Plum, the Priest

No one knows where he is from. Many who have asked ended up under his thrall for a few hours until they came to their senses 300 miles away from where they started. Little is known or understood about this peculiar man. Many choose to leave him alone to his wanderings.

Mr. Plum is dressed in shining white plate armor, though he never covers his face with his helmet. He carries a shining white spiked mace and a dirty gray bag of various odds and ends. He is not aggressive unless attacked. Even if attacked, he first attempt to deliver a foul spittle on his opponents. Anyone that fails their saving throw will be unable to be within 300 feet of F.H. Plum for 24 hours. If the spittle doesn't succeed, he will use his mace. Anyone hit by the mace will take and additional 1d4 points of acid damage for two rounds after the successful attack.

Violence, however, is rarely neccessary. Anyone that attempts to communicate with Plum must make a saving throw or be his thrall for 2d6 hours. Otherwise, he speaks only in total gibberish. Any attempt to use ESP or Comprehend Languages will fail.

Whatever his purposes are, he appears to be mostly harmless and best left alone. He does appear to walk, but observant creatures will note that he actually walks about 3 inches about the surface. It is rumored that he can walk on any surface, an ability that he sadly does not imbue upon his thralls.

F.H. Plum, the Priest: HD 2; AC 0 [19]; Atk Acid Mace (1d8 + 1d4 acid); Save 16; Move 6; AL L; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Repugnant Spittle, Charming Gibberish, Levitation

Udyn Nubuck

Udyn spends her time living near a large lake, just outside the village where she was born. She lives in a small hut near the edge of the water. She has domesticated a large number of ducks, geese and chickens and makes a living from selling their eggs in town.

She is otherwise ordinary in appearance and usually enjoys being hospitable to anyone that visits. Anyone who visits usually marvels at her ability to feed any number of people that arrive at her door. It is said that she once fed a local nobleman's garrison.

However, if anyone threatens her fowl, she will go into a rage. Anyone who fails their saving throw will be stunned for one round. The saving throw will need to be re-rolled every round in which she is enraged. She has no ability to fight in combat.

Udyn NubuckHD 1d4 hp; AC 9 [10]; Atk none; Save 20; Move 6, Swim 12;  AL L;  CL/XP A/5; Special: Stun, Create Food and Water

Ancon Nob

On second thought, shemping a creature originally described by Pliny the Elder as hurling almost half a mile of flaming poop with the properties of greek fire could be pretty bad. If I ever played Battlesystem again, I would make a rule for this guy.

Your charge against the left flank is not effective as you were hit with Greek Fire. Well, it's not exactly Greek Fire, it came from one man. He didn't have a traditional launching system for it, either.

You get the idea. Even terrible monsters, especially those that are not interesting in combat, can be made interesting by shemping. I could see adding Udyn as a major NPC that the party visits quite a bit. I mean, who doesn't like free food, right? F.H. Plum strikes me as either a survivor of swimming in the phlogiston for a century, or a cursed priest of a forgotten god. Breaking the curse could be a pretty good story arc with the right players. I'd love to see how they would "manage" his whereabouts.

Having said all that, I guess there are some monsters that I don't like. For some reason, I'm not a fan of unicorns. I also don't like autognomes though I do like having androids and robots in my games. It's just that the autognome is a poor robot and only funny for exactly one-half of a round. Beats me why I don't like them. I mean, I like the giant space hamsters and the miniaturized giant space hamsters. Why those two gnome gags always makes me chuckle is a mystery to me, too.

When in doubt, shemp a poor monster as a human to see if it can become more interesting. If it can't, the monster may not be worth your time.

P.S. While working on this post, I discovered that a perfect anagram of tirapheg is graphite. I almost created a human named Graphite, the Illusionist. As I was working on it, though, Graphite began to become more and more like Simon and the Land of the Chalk Drawings.