Friday, October 29, 2021


The Dover Demon is a local legend in Massachusetts, a creature sighted in Dover during the 1970s. There were multiple sightings, by several different people in a short span of time. It was described as something resembling a gray alien with orange eyes. But other than that very little is known in terms of how dangerous it might be. It was spotted crawling on an old stone wall, and walking down a road in the woods (it was then followed but the person turned back when they felt it was posturing to attack). What fascinates me about the Dover Demon, beyond it's proximity, is the possibilities. There is a sense in the accounts that it might be dangerous, but exactly how, is not entirely known. I think this is ideal as it makes them more mysterious. This entry explores that mystery surrounding them by filling in the blanks with my own thoughts. It is It is done for the Strange Tales of Songling System. While Strange Tales is a game set in historical China, and the Dover Demon is a cryptid spotted in modern Massachusetts, I think it still fits because it is ultimately an anomaly account, a record of the strange. Increasingly I am working on making a more general system for Strange Tales (one that can work in Song China, but also in the modern US). 

The Dover Demon is a small humanoid creature sighted around the town of Dover in Massachusetts during the Spring of 1977. It is said to have a large head, with no mouth or nose, and two glowing orange eyes (in some descriptions the eyes are green). Its small body ends in thin arms and legs, with hands and feet that both have long tendril-like digits. Its skin is described as 'rosy orange'. From a distance it might be mistaken for a small child or a young gibbon. It is not known if there is one Dover Demon or if many exist, but most reports place it near water. 

The Dover Demon is a timid hunter of humans, due to its slow speed and weak body. It relies on its own disarming appearance and cleverness to outwit people so it may use its mobilizing gaze on them, then feed on their memories. Usually it attempts to seem harmless, even friendly or playful. When it has isolated a person, and there is sufficient distance between them, it will use its gaze and will wait until the target is unable to move before coming in to attack. 

Defenses: Hardiness 5, Evade 8, Wits 10

Key Skills: Gaze: 2d10 (special), Tendrils: 1d10 (see below), Speed: 0d10, Athletics: 3d10, Muscle: 0d10, Detect: 4d10, Persuade: 3d10

Max Wounds: 1


Climb: The Dover Demon can climb surfaces easily, as if walking using its tendrils to grip. 

Gaze: The Dover Demon's glowing eyes mesmerize their prey, tapping deep into their subconscious and shutting down ability to move. Make a Persuade roll against the Target's Wits. On a Success the victim suffers a -1d10 to Speed. On a Total  Success the victim suffers a -2d10 to Speed. Speed returns at a rate of +1d10 an hour. The Dover Demon can keep making such attacks each round, and when the target is dropped to 0d10 Speed, they can no longer move and suffer -2d10 to all other skill attempts. 

Tendrils and Memory Drain: The Dover Demon can use its long tendril like fingers to enter the ear or nose of a victim, pierce the skull and draw in memories. Make its Tendril attack against the Evade of the target (against mobile targets it can roll 3d10). On a Success the target loses 2 Hardiness from the skull piercing (returns at a rate of 1 per month); then each round, unless the Dover Demon is stopped, it can drain memories (permanently draining 1 level per round it does so). Victims have no memory of the attack. A person reduced to 0 level, becomes catatonic (one Medicine roll TN 10 may be made each month to alleviate their condition). The Dover Demon must feed daily, an amount of Wits equal to its own or it begins to lose Hardiness at a rate of 1 per week until it dies. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


Today on the podcast we talk about Mario Bava's Black Sabbath. But next time we plan to discuss the classic F.W. Murnau film Nosferatu. Rewatching the silent take on Dracula inspired me to make an entry for Count Orlok using the Strange Tales of Songling system. 

This entry is based on the 1922 movie Nosferatu. I limited myself as much as possible to mechanics based only on the events and interstitials of that film. Occasionally I give myself room to extrapolate, and in one instance I throw in a dash of the 1992 Dracula (because it seemed to be building on material in Nosferatu). This is meant for the Strange Tales of Songling rules system. You can bring Count Orlok into a regular Strange Tales campaign (for example perhaps he flees to China as he is pursued by vampire hunters) or you can bring the characters from your Strange Tales campaign to the Carpathian Mountains to contend with him. 

Rumored to be the offspring of Belial, this demonic vampire dwells in a castle in the Carpathian Mountains where he reigns over and feeds upon the terrified peasantry. Count Orlok appears like a man, but with ghoulish eyes, a gaunt face, and misshapen bald head. His hands end in preternaturally long fingers that curl like gnarled tree branches and his two front teeth are long and sharp like a bats. At night he feeds on blood, by day he must sleep in a coffin filled with the plague-infected earth of his burial site. He can take the form of a werewolf at will, and he is impervious to nearly all forms of attack. The only known way to kill him is if he is lured into sunlight by an innocent woman willing to sacrifice her own blood. Wherever he travels, plague follows. Orlok desires to leave the Carpathian Mountains and spread his evil in other places. 

Defenses: Hardiness 8, Evade 7, Wits 8
Key Skills: Bite: 3d10 (1d10 Damage plus drain), Claws: 3d10 (3d10 Open Damage), Speed: 3d10, Muscle: 5d10, Detect: 5d10, Athletics: 4d10, Ride: 2d10, Command: 4d10, Persade: 2d10, Survival: 3d10, History: 4d10

Max Wounds: 9


Spread Disease: Count Orlok's coffin is filled with plaque rats who spread the plaque through their bites and their flees. Roll 2d10 against the Hardiness of anyone exposed. On a Success the person suffers fever, body aches, and breaks out in large puss-filled buboes. Once this happens roll 3d10 against Hardiness. On a Success, they begin losing 1 Hardiness a day until they die from infected lungs or blood infection. One Medicine Skill roll TN 10 may be made to save the person. The roll may only be made once and whatever Hardiness they lost does not return. 

For the purposes of managing plague outbreaks, assume any place that experiences an outbreak loses 50% of its population. 

Super Strength: All of Count Orlok's melee attacks do open damage. He can also lift enormously heavy objects with ease. 

Invisibility: When he wishes, Count Orlok can become invisible to viewers. Roll Persuade against Wits. On a Success that person cannot see him. 

Drain: On a Successful bite, Count Orlok can drain the blood of his foes. Roll 1d10 Damage. On a Success he drains 2 Hardiness. 

Feed: Count Orlok must feed on human blood daily. Every day he goes without draining 4 Hardiness his Wits drop by 1. If his Wits drop to 2, they remain there and he enters a frenzied bloodlust state until his hunger is satisfied (once this is done his wits return to their full amount).

Servant: Count Orlok can make one individual that he feeds upon at a time, his loyal servant. He simply rolls Command against Wits at the time of feeding. If he succeeds this person views Count Orlok as his master until death. He can communicate his will to his servant over great distances. His Servant also has an empathic link with Count Orlok, knowing when the Count is safe, wounded, or dead. 

Immunities: Count Orlok only takes damage from blessed weapons or sacred relics. Even such attacks can only temporarily destroy his body. If reduced to 0 wounds by blessed weapons or sacred relics, his body crumples into a pile of live rats that scurry away and seek plague infested earth to reform his body over the course of a month. The only true way to kill Orlok is if he is exposed to sunlight after having drunk the blood of an innocent maiden (the blood must still be in his body and the sunlight does 3d10 Open Damage every round). 

Werewolf Form: Count Orlok can take the form of a large matted and striped wolf. In this form he gains a wolf bite attack that does 5d10 Open Damage. If his werewolf form is destroyed, his body turns into rats and reforms at the site of his coffin. 

Defenses: Hardiness 6, Evade 5, Wits 8
Key Skills: Bite: 4d10 (5d10 Open Damage), Speed: 5d10, Muscle: 5d10, Detect: 6d10

Max Wounds: 6

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


To celebrate Halloween, I am doing some monster and adventure entries for Strange Tales of SonglingThis one is inspired by another short account in the Library of Chinese Classics edition of Strange Tales from the Liaozhai Studio. The original version is much more adult, and graphic. I toned it down for the blog but tried to keep the elements that provoke a sense of unease and horror. I would certainly encourage folks to read the original versions of the tales themselves. The Snake Woman tale can be found on page 1921 of Library of Chinese Classics, Selections from Strange Tales of the Liaozhai Studio. 

One of the fun aspects of making creatures inspired by these accounts is all you have to go on is the account itself sometimes. It does depend on the entry. While they are all presented as gathered accounts, some are longer, with deeper information and more like stories. But others feel more like a piece of information gathered about something strange. I like the latter best for gaming material because there is a lot of room for speculation. Snake Woman falls into that category. This is why the monster entries in Strange Tales of Songling should be read by the GM as possibilities, not as rules governing all creatures of that type. They are just one possible account, but other accounts of that type of monster could exist, the account in the book could be wrong in your campaign. 

These otherwise normal women are said to be the offspring of mothers who mated with snakes in the past. It is possible the accounts are confusing a magic ritual involving snakes with mating, and unknown if this process has produced any male children. Aside from having a slightly pointed mouth, nothing about them suggests anything supernatural. However when they become angry or passionate, their tongue turns thin and sharp and flicks great distance to envenom the object of their emotion. This however is a passing state, a moment of temporary madness that they have no memory of. There are rumors of some snake women who are aware of their condition and in full control of it. The venom from their tongue is particularly deadly. They also have a strange affinity with Killer Snakes, which enables them to summon and control the creatures (though this is mostly an unconscious reflex, not an ability they are often aware of). 

Defenses: Hardiness: 4, Evade: 4, Wits: 7
Key Skills: Tongue Strike: 2d10 (see Venom), Speed: 2d10, Survival: 2d10, Other skills vary by individual

Max Wounds: 2

Venom: On a successful attack with their tongue strike, roll 4d10 against Hardiness every 10 minutes (you can stop rolling if an antidote is administered). On a Success the person dies in 1d10 minutes. The attack itself does no damage as the wound it creates is incredibly small and painless. 

Summon and control Killer Snakes: This is an unconscious ability, usually occurring during distressing dreams. Snake Women can summon Killer Snakes to attack those they hate or fear (see Killer Snakes entry on page 61 of Strange Tales of Songling). They can summon 1d10 Killer Snakes a day through this method. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021


To celebrate Halloween, I am doing some monster and adventure entries for Strange Tales of Songling. This one is inspired by the Pu Songling Story The Rat. In that tale the rat is a little less ferocious than the one I came up with for the game (but the core idea of needing to exhaust it to defeat it is present). The story is pretty short and can be found in the Library of Chinese Classics edition of Strange Tales form the Liaozhai Studio volume III

Strange Tales of Songling is a rules light Chinese Horror RPG. It is available in print and pdf.    
Art by Jackie Musto

These enormous, ugly rats, have oversized skulls and terrifying teeth. Their fur glistens from sifting through trash and waste, producing a gut-churning stench. Strange Rats are bold creatures, and will feed on human flesh when it is available (especially when their victims are asleep). Nearly the size of a lion or tiger, but still flexible enough to fit through small cracks and holes, they have been known to terrify households by sneaking otherwise secure homes. They spread a horrible disease through their bite and claw. Though large and vicious they quickly become weak if they expend too much energy. 

Defenses: Hardiness 5, Evade 7, Wits 3
Key Skills: Bite: 6d10* (Damage 4d10 plus disease), Claw: 3d10* (Damage 2d10 plus disease), Speed: 3d10, Muscle: 4d10, Detect: 5d10, Athletics: 4d10

Max Wounds: 4

Low Endurance: Strange Rats are powerful but lose energy quickly. With every attack they make, they suffer a cumulative -1d10 penalty to their roll the next round (their Bite becomes 5d10 the second round, 4d10 the third round, etc). When their attacks reach 0d10, they are too exhausted to move or Defend themselves (their Defenses all drop to 1). They must rest ten full minutes to recover.  

Stench: The stench of a Strange Rat is overpowering. Roll 2d10 against anyone near such a creature. On a Success the person becomes sickened, taking -1d10 to their Attacks, Physical and Mental Skills until they get away from the odor. 

Disease: Anyone bitten or scratched by Strange Rat is exposed to its disease. Roll 2d10 Against Hardiness. On a Success the victim is afflicted with the disease and may make one Medicine roll TN 8 a week to cure it. On a Total Success the victim is afflicted with the disease and may make one Medicine roll TN 10 a month to cure it (note that another person may make this roll if they have the Medicine skill, but there is still only one Medicine skill roll total, allowed). The first week of illness the victim suffers aches, fever, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing. This imposes a -1d10 to all Physical and Combat Skills. This penalty remains until the illness is cured. Then person begins to lose 1 Hardiness every week after, dying when they reach 0. 

Squeeze: Despite their large size, Strange Rats can fit through openings 1/5th the size of their body by moving their flexible muscles and repositioning their bones.