Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bestiarum vocabulum – Vocabuvores


Lately it’s been hard to find time for the blog, due to the usual suspects – job, study and family. Actually, the real culprits are the first two, because my wife frequently actually asks why I’m not updating the blog (sometimes she simply demands that I do it… I love her!). The next few months, nonetheless, will show fewer posts than normal.

This Bestiarum was inspired by Scott Lynch’s entertaining ‘In the Stacks’, a short story about an ancient arcane library, but with a new spin. Its part of the Swords & Dark Magic anthology and it was the first tale from the author that I read (Scott Lynch is known for his ‘The Gentleman Bastard’ series). This story sold me on his material and I’ll try to find a copy of The Lies of Lock Lamora.


Vocabuvores

 

 

“Vocabuvores... goblin-like creatures that feed on any new words they learn from human speech. Their metabolisms turn vocabulary into body mass. They’re like insects at birth, but a few careless sentences and they can grow to human size, and beyond.”

-          Master Molnar

 

Vocabuvores                                                            CR 1 (400 XP)
Tiny fey
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60ft.

DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 14, flat-footed 13 (+1 natural, +2 Dex, +2 size)
HD 7 (2d6)
Fort +0, Ref +5, Will +4
Immune mind-effects; Resist sonic 10; SR 15
Weakness: vulnerability to silence

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee claw +3 (1d3-4)***
Special Attack Annoy (DC 13), Gibberish, Sneak Attack +1d6

STATISTICS
Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 4, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 6
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Climb +7, Perception +5, Stealth +10
Racial modifiers +8 racial bonus on Climb
Languages Common
Special Qualities Ontological Illiteracy, Vocabuvore

ECOLOGY
Environment ancient libraries and wizard towers
Organization 1-10 (packs), 20-40 (nest)
Treasure half standard

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Annoy (Ex) Vocabuvores are irascible pests that constantly throwing torn books, papyrus, balls of scrolls and dung at their victims. A vocabuvore that isn’t engaged in melee combat and is within line of effect (30 feet) of a visible target can Annoy them with a move action. The victim must succeed at Refl save (DC 13) or becomes flat-footed until the beginning of his next turn.
Gibberish (Ex) Once set upon their victims, vocabuvores are continually pleading, clamoring, cajoling and threatening (simultaneously) for new words. This interminable babble makes concentrating difficult. Spellcasting and the activation of spell-like abilities requires a Concentration check (DC 15 or the standard DC +5).
Ontological Illiteracy (Ex) Vocabuvores are totally incapable of learning how to read. In fact, they’re so dim-witted that they’re immune to mind-effects and don’t register as intelligent creatures.
Vocabuvore (Su) Vocabuvores literally eat words, growing stronger with each new word they hear. When a vocabuvore listens to a new word he absorbs it, converting its lexical content to body mass. Spellcasting doesn’t count as “new words”.
Instead of recalculating all the creature’s stats, use the following rules to simulate a vocabuvore’s evolution: each new word grant to the vocabuvore a +1 bonus to all his rolls (including save throws), +2 to CMD, +2 to damage rolls and +2 hit points/HD.
Each times the vocabuvore learns 2 new words, increase his size by one step and give to it a +2 bonus to all Str and Con rolls, +9 hit points and a -1 penalty to AC.
When he reaches Medium size (4 words), his Speed becomes 30 ft.
When he reaches Large size (6 words) he gains Reach 10 ft.
The maximum size that a vocabuvore can theoretically reach is Huge.
A vocabuvore’s CR increases by +1 for each 2 new words that he learns (to a maximum of CR 4).
It’s believed that vocabuvores slowly consume their grammatical body mass, returning to their natural tiny size over time.
Vulnerability to Silence (Ex) Vocabuvores feed on words so spells that block sound naturally frighten them. Inside areas of silence a vocabuvore becomes instantly shaken.

DESCRIPTION

Vocabuvores are strange magical creatures known for inhabiting the world’s oldest, strangest (and most dangerous) libraries. As supernatural beings they lack any coherent ecosystem or habit, springing apparently from nowhere. It’s believed that vocabuvores are in fact a manifestation of disharmonic eldritch power generated by the presence of too many grimoires in the same spot. No matter how hard archmages, wizards and librarians dedicate to keep their demesnes clean, these pests inevitably show up.

Some (eccentric arcanists) claim that vocabovures are simply a natural consequence of magical accumulation – of the local reality been weaken by the sheer concentration of arcane knowledge. In other words, some spellcasters see these things as a symbol of power. Others, more paranoid, mages suspect that vocabuvores are actually denizens from a parallel plane – maybe an alien dimension where words have physical representations or even a bizarre world-library created by some forgotten demigod.


VOCABUVORE CHEAT SHEET
These numbers presupposes the creature stat block above.
Words Eaten
Size/
Reach
Speed
Bonus on Attack/
CMB/
Saves/
Skills
Damage
CMD
Hit
Points
CR
1
Tiny/0ft.
20
+1
-2
8
+4
1
2
Small/5ft.
20
+2
0
10
+8
2
3
Small/5ft.
20
+3
+2
12
+12
2
4
Medium/5ft.
30
+4
+4
14
+16
3
5
Medium/5ft.
30
+5
+6
16
+20
3
6
Large/10ft.
30
+6
+8
18
+24
4
7
Large/10ft.
30
+7
+10
20
+28
4
8
Huge/10ft.
30
+8
+12
22
+32
4


***Sean K. Reynolds (if I’m not mistaken) suggested once a house-rule for creatures that can potentially deal “negate damage” that I’m quite fond of. Instead of ruling that all attacks can deal a minimum of 1 point of damage, if the rolled damage is 0 or less, it actually causes 1 point of non-lethal damage.