Sunday, 11 July 2021

Ancient One — derivative Isopod Monster

It used to be that I'd look back on a forgotten /abandoned piece of writing and be pleasantly surprised by its quality... or maybe (should it have been below par) there'd have been some nugget or turn of phrase which caught my attention. The older I get (and, dear readers, I'm barely into my forties) the less this occurs and the more I'm struck be the weird spelling mistakes ("no" and "know"?), missed typos, odd grammar and sentences trailing off into the void. Not sure if I have a degenerative brain disease nor if this is the platform upon which to talk about such things... but maybe I should speak to someone.

All that neurotic hypochondria aside, nothing really prepared me for picking up the Bestiary the other week in an attempt to turn it into something at least partially table-worthy and realising the first entry was a complete rip-off of the isopods in lair of the lamb. This was disconcerting: I'd read the adventure at some point in the summer of last year, then within a few months I'd added a very similar (albeit somehow more aboleth like version) to my bestiary without really acknowledging or realising that I had stolen the core idea  (metal eating woodlice) from another source. 

It's not so much the plagiarism (I've ripped off loads of stuff, but I always try to cite my sources)  but the worrying fact I hadn't realised I'd done it. It's such a specific thing. What made it worse was the fact that I read the adventure through AGAIN around December  and STILL didn't twig the connection (I had somehow forgotten about my rip-off monster). The 3 sessions I ran never made it to the Isopods but I had read ahead and was eagerly awaiting the party running into them.

There's something weird going on and I don't like it: being a pitiful human, I believe that my actions are somehow powerful enough to mould this universe back to a state that I am more comfortable with, and I offer up this post as an act of sympathetic magic: take this derivative shit away from me, with apologies to Arnold K.

A macro lens photograph of a pill woodlouse, a land-dwelling crustacean with a segmented body that can roll into a ball. The creature's body is segmented, and is pictured against a backdrop of various granular minerals.
Common pill woodlouse via wikimedia


No. App:     1
HD                 9d10+9
Defence:         13*
Attack:     1 bite (20; 2d10)/
            6 claw (12; 1d10)/
            1 slam (20; 5d10)
            or special
Morale:     12
Speed:     20’ (60’)
        swim   50’ (150’)
Size:     Huge
Mind:     Alien, aloof, insectoid, opaque, sapient, solitary.
Terrain:     Ocean, coastal, caves.

Ancient ones are huge semi-aquatic creatures resembling a cross between tardigrades and woodlice. They are said to be old enough to recall the time of chaos, before the spirits were allotted their independent kingdoms. Their great age bequeaths them great intelligence and wisdom but on occasion also renders them quite impatient with what they consider to be lesser beings.

The carapace of the Ancient Ones is made of an impervious material produced by their unique diet. Many cultures have a legend of an ancestor who slew an ancient one and fashioned armour or weapons from their exoskeleton. Few individuals who have encountered these beings believe these legends to be true. The carapace takes millennia to develop arising from the Ancient One’s predilection for ingesting star metal (see below).

In its dormant state, Ancient Ones coil into near-perfect spheres much like pillbugs. They cannot be harmed by any form of attack while in this state. If agitated into its rampant state, they reveal their soft underbelly to attack, biting anyone within 10’ as they rear on their hind legs and make multiple claw attacks at anyone within 15’.

At the end of a combat round they bring their body down as a slam attack against anyone within 10’, inflicting 5d10 damage unless they are able to leap out of the way, and inflicting further damage (no hit roll) each round the Ancient One continues to crush them in its passant state. Unlike when they are coiled (dormant state), in this position the Ancient One can be harmed by corrosive or flammable liquids poured onto the ground and directed towards its underbelly. Attacks against its outer shell are completely ineffective.

Due to their immense age and size Ancient Ones are host to whole colonies of smaller invertebrates that help keep its body free of parasites. When passant it may summon these swarms of tiny crabs to harass any pariahs disturbing its slumber. Treat as crawling insect swarms (p.xx). It may summon such creatures up to 3 times a day.

Ancient Ones cannot attack when in the passant state, but they can crawl forward (leaving any victims of a previous slam attack crumpled beneath them). Flipping an Ancient One onto its back would require a great feat of strength and/or leverage; it can also self right in one round by coiling into a ball and then unrolling.

During meteor storms Ancient Ones awaken and head towards the precise location of any significant meteors. They can therefore be followed in order to locate star metal, which they consume as an irregular part of their complete diet. This also brings them into contact with Spirits of the Beyond (p.xx), and consequently there is a 50% chance that any particular Ancient One may invoke such spell-spirits 1d6 times per day.

In case you missed it, the full link to Arnold K's free introductory adventure (including what I believe to be the greatest interpretation of the GLOG thus far) is here:

If you enjoyed this piece of "writing" you might like to order a print copy of my words edited by more talented people and I juxtaposed against some nice pictures:


  1. You know, upon reading it I'd first assumed they were meant to be armored giant Tardigrades, but that could just be because the idea was pretty striking to me.

  2. "Ancient ones are huge semi-aquatic creatures resembling a cross between tardigrades and woodlice. "

  3. This is cool. And I really like it's hosting of tiny crabs. It's a reminder that we're all biomes.