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Top 10 Gifts Under $20! (For Your Nerdy, Fandom loving, DIY-er)

Growing up I had a plethora of hobbies and I know my family had a hard time figuring out what to get me. It was often daunting for them to figure out what exactly I’d like. It’s hard not knowing what to get your super nerdy cos-player friend, or your hardcore gamer, or that cousin that sits around a table with his friends and talks about dragons while tossing strange looking dice all over the place. Now try to make it happen on a small budget… That’s what this list is for! We’re here to help you figure it out, and maybe (just maybe) you’ll surprise them with something wonderful.

Firstly, a bit of advice: Identify their hobbies and the things they love. If you don’t know, ask them or their friends. Find someone that knows. This is important. Taking this tiny little step can go a long way to figuring out what you should be looking for in the first place. Do it.

Elegy

10. Elegy for a Dead World. ($14.99)

You find yourself in a peculiar situation. You’re friend is both a writer AND a gamer. What to do? Elegy of a Dead World solves that problem with one fell swoop, in which you take the role of a writer filling in prompts given to you through the imagery of various worlds you explore. The game is short and really only sits well with this particular geek.

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9. Google Cardboard. ($15)

VR is expensive. Plain and simple. This is an inexpensive alternative that can turn any phone (with the proper applications installed) into a portable VR experience. Plus, cardboard is in right now, just look at Nintendo Labo.

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8. Gift Cards. ($NA)

Gamers are often creatures of impulse. Having a little extra green in their steam wallet for that game that just went on sale or in their blizzard account for some packs of Hearthstone cards, can go a long way.

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7. Dice. ($5 – $20)

For those D&D (And other Tabletop RPG) aficionados. Their collection of brilliantly colored polyhedral gems are an extension of themselves and often considered sacred ground. Don’t you dare touch their collection, however, take a peak and look for their favorite color. From there take a look online or at your friendly neighborhood gaming store and see what you can find!

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6. Supplies. ($NA)

You’ve identified their hobbies right? Then ask yourself: “What do they need?” If you have an painter, do they have enough paint? Maybe a few canvases. Do you have a Dungeons and Dragons player? Maybe they could use some #2 pencils or index cards. A cosplayer could use more makeup or fabric. What’s your kids favorite gamer fuel? Mountain Dew? Water? Make it happen.

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5. D&D starter Set. ($19.99)

Do you have a buddy interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons but has no idea where to start? You’re looking at all the books and seeing $50 price tags and your not really sure which ones they need? Get them this. The D&D Starter Set includes everything they’ll need to get going, including some dice, a starter adventure, and a basic copy of the rules.

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4. Smart Cooler Mugs. ($19.99)

“A mug, really?” Yes dammit! These mugs are cool… errr warm… hot? They keep things cold or hot, depending on what you’re looking for. They are made from stainless steel; including the straw, have a no sweat exterior, and a vacuum sealed lid. You can choose from many colors and hold up to 30 oz of liquid! Awesome…

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3. Board Games. ($5- $20)

There are a plethora of board games available that are not only high quality, but inexpensive as well. They cater to a large range of gamers and nerds and very few will be disappointed by a quality card game. You’ve got titles like Chrononauts for those interested in time travel and history, or Bang! For your Red Dead Redemption fan. Codenames, Forbidden Island, Guillotine… The list goes on.

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2. Skrewdriver Pen Pocket Multi-Tool. ($12)

Multi Tools are super useful. From someone that likes to build their own computers to cos-players and artists. This handy pen comes with a level, screwdriver, ruler, and stylus! Super convinient. 

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1. Show interest in their hobbies. ($Free, usually…)

Far too many gamers are out there feeling all alone. I know I was. I would have been ecstatic had my grandparents come over and asked me about those cardboard cards I’m playing with or that game I play in the basement with my friends once a month. Offer to learn about it or have them show it to you. Take an interest in their hobbies. You have no idea how much it could mean to them.

Top 10 Horror Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen!

Halloween is near and with it comes the itch. The Horror movie draw. It’s a sickness really… It’s time to grab a big bowl of popcorn, a comfy blanket, and watch people be mercilessly murdered… or psychologically assaulted… (See, it is a sickness) Horror movies take on many forms, from the slasher flick to the psycho thriller. Many movies that are, in fact, Horror movies are not even billed as such, and even then there is such a saturation of absolutely hopeless movies that claim to be Horror. The following is a list of potential stories you may not have seen (or heard of) that can scratch that Serial Killer, Ghost Haunting, and blood-curdling-scream itch. Enjoy!

(But First! A note on this process and what to expect: Please take the time to do some research before watching any of these movies. Horror movies are not afraid to challenge your fears and paranoia. They often include intensely horrific scenes which may include rape, dismemberment, and anything you could possibly imagine that is, or was, horrific. Keep that in mind when choosing a movie to watch.

Each movie listed are movies that I have seen and can personally vouch for. This list is my own. If there is a movie you think should be included or a personal favorite please leave a comment below and tell us about. I look forward to adding a few titles to my watch list.)

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10. Hard Candy (2005, R)

Psychopath vs. Pedophile. Ellen Page plays Hayley, an underage woman who meets a man whom she suspects is a Pedophile and… Well. You should see this movie. It’s disturbing on many levels, well acted, and tends to strike the right nerve at the right moment making you more and more uncomfortable as the movie progresses. 

Troll Hunter

9. Troll Hunter (2011, PG-13)

A “Found Footage Mockumentary” about college students finding Trolls in the Norwegian Wilderness. It’s also a great way to get a crash course in Norwegian folk-lore as the movie pays homage to those roots. It’s often funny, but still manages to be vicious and scary as hell.

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8. Bone Tomahawk (2015, R)

Western… Horror… Kurt Russell’s facial hair… All reasons to watch this movie, but not the only ones. It’s sad just how poorly this movie did on it’s release. Undeserving, even. A Fantastic movie that fills a need I didn’t know I had. It’ll make you squirm and writhe in your seat as there are MANY intense scenes of graphic horror.

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7. Monster Squad (1987, PG-13)

Not enough people have seen this Goonies-esque monster flick, in which a group of young boys strive to fight off a ravaging band of A-list monsters an answer an age old question: Does the Wolf-man indeed have nards? Easily quotable and lot fun.

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6. In the Mouth of Madness (1994, R)

The best Lovecraftian movie ever made… Even though it’s not billed as such. Strong elements of Insanity, excellent acting, and its Lovecraftian roots make this worth a look.

Midnight Meat Train

5. The Midnight Meat Train (2008, R)

This 2008 horror flick, based on a story by Clive Barker, is less than perfect (wait until you hit the third act…); however, it’s well acted (Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, ) and strikes a cord with viewers looking for that Psycho Thriller itch. I always thought Vinnie Jones seemed like he’d murder people on a Subway; though, I didn’t imagine it quite like this. This movie is graphic and horrific in unimaginable ways.

Under The Skin

4. Under The Skin (2013, R)

Though not a traditional horror movie (Listed as SciFi), Under The Skin provides a deeply disturbing and sensual experience. Scarlett Johansson plays an otherworldly being who’s constant lack of empathy is easily the most skin crawling element of an uncomfortable movie.

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3. Bubba HoTep (2003, R)

Bruce Campbell plays Old Elvis. Ossie Davis plays Old JFK. They fight a hillbilly Mummy sucking the souls out of old peoples anus’s. I shouldn’t have to say anything else.

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2. Let The Right One In (2008, R)

What’s Horror without a little Romance? Between two 12 year old children… Wait a second, don’t leave! This movie follows the relationship between a bullied 12 year old boy and the vampire girl he befriends. It’s sweet, horrific, and heart wrenching… And Swedish. Hopefully you don’t mind subtitles.

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1. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, R)

If you thought “What We Do In The Shadows” needed more gore then Behind The Mask may be the movie for you. This Horror Comedy follows the life of a would be Slasher who’s hired a film crew to chronicle his escapades. It’s funny, smart, and underappreciated. I have a few “comedies” on this list, but this one really stands out, separating itself from the others with just how smart it is, putting the likes of Scream to shame and taking my number one slot. 

Hey all hope you enjoy these movies! I know I did, sort of… Leave a comment below letting us know what underappreciated or relatively unknown horror movie is your favorite!

 

Top 10 Steam Games Under $5

I trolled through my house today looking for loose change. All in all I found $4.82. Not bad. As a kid growing up in the 80’s this would have been a spectacular find. That $4.82 is a sweet, sweet candy stash. Today, not so much. In 2018 this kind of couch change doesn’t have the same kind of impact… however, for under $5 there are a plethora of enjoyable games you can find nestled in the deepest depths of Steam store.

(Before I start a quick note on how I choose these games. Every single game I choose are games that I have personally played and can vouch for. I realize that there are many games out there under the $5 mark that could easily make this list. This is MY list. I did not include games that are Free as that’s a whole other list… I also looked for a plethora of games that could be enjoyed by various audiences and appeal to many types of gamers. That’s that. I hope you enjoy the list and please, feel free to let us know what you favorite $5 and under game is, and if there are any suggestions you may have.)

Organ Trail

10. Organ Trail: Directors Cut. When I was in 6th grade I was introduced to PC gaming by a fun little experience called The Oregon Trail, in which you follow the historic trek many took across our country in a time when dysentery and fording a river were more dangerous than we could possibly imagine. There were hunting mini games and indian attacks. You usually didn’t make it… Imagine that set in the zombie apocalypse, and that’s what Organ Trail is.

Town of Salem

9. Town of Salem. This game is fun… with friends. Please bring your friends. With that in mind Town of Salem is a great time and a ton of fun, and if it tickles your fancy you can look into the tabletop version…

Xcom

8. X-Com: UFO Defense. Sure this game is old as dirt. Sure it has a bunch of bugs. Sure it can make you want to throw your controller through your TV… But, you still love it. It’s charming and horrible and well worth a look if not just to see the origins of the rebooted X-Com series.

PLants v Zombies

7. Plants vs. Zombies GOTY. In which you plant plants to fend of a zombie invasion. It’s fun and addictive, and hard to put down… Tons of game time packed into a charming package. Well worth a look.

Sally Face

6. Sally Face. What a great little game. This horror adventure has a uniquely catered art style that reminded me of classic Nick cartoons like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. This aesthetic combined with a disturbingly unique story line make this a great pickup.

VVVVVV

5. VVVVVV. A 2D platformer where instead of jumping you control gravity. This colorful masterpiece is simultaneously ridiculous and charming. I don’t recommend this for those that are easily frustrated as each level takes a bit of trial and error, and can be quite rage inducing at times. It’s still well worth the price tag.

Reigns

4. Reigns. Yes or No? As the new king you need to decide what sort of entity you will be. You are presented with requests from your citizens and need to decide what is best for you or your kingdom and impose your will. Reigns is simple in concept but hides a layer of strategy well worth looking into.

Overlord

3. Overlord. You are in charge and your decisions matter. Its hard to deny the surprising charm Overlord brings to the table. Every action you take on the battlefield has lasting effects on the world around you. Command your plucky minions to do your bidding in this quirky adventure. Take them on raids in villages or fight monstrous beasts. What kind of Overlord will you be?

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2. The Binding of Isaac. Roguelikes are a dime a dozen anymore and their influence on indie developers are like a blanket on a hot and humid day. I wish they would go away so we can finally move on. That being said, there are a number of great roguelike games available and few have the draw and prestige of the one of the greatest. The Binding of Isaac is one of the originals and is still loved today.

Superflight
1. Superflight. Wow! That was my initial reaction when I first picked up this game. There is something to be said about simplicity and atmosphere. Superflight is a game about adorning a flight suit and traversing beautiful procedurally generated atmospheres. You can feel the speed as you dip and dive your way through colorful landscapes. Even with the intense feel of falling it is a surprisingly relaxing experience. I was initially gleeful with my experience and was overjoyed to find myself willing to go back and play some more. If you haven’t seen this title, do yourself a favor and give it a solid look.

Top 10 Steam games under $10 (Sort of…)

I’m what you’d call a patient gamer. I scour the depths of Steam looking for deals and hidden gems. Sometimes they pop out at you, sometimes they’re hidden. Either way you can have an amazing gaming experience on nearly any budget.

(Before I start a quick note on how I choose these games. Every single game I choose are games that I have personally played and can vouch for. I realize that there are many games out there under the $10 mark that could easily make this list. This is MY list. I did not include games that are Free OR under $5. I also looked for a plethora of games that could be enjoyed by various audiences and appeal to many types of gamers. That’s that. I hope you enjoy the list and please, feel free to let us know what you favorite $10 and under game is, and if there are any suggestions you may have.)

Tothemoon

10. To the Moon. Originally released in 2011, “To the Moon” is a game that relies on its story. The game play itself is nothing to write home about, however, that’s not what this is about. I refuse to say too much in fear of giving anything away, but It’s all about the story. This tale is a ride full of emotion which leads to a cathartic experience. Fans of the Super Nintendo Console era will find the art style delightful. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Indiana

9. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Yeah, that’s right! I got a game originally released in 1992 on here. This point and click adventure game holds up like nothing I have ever seen. You get to play a brand new adventure with one of the most iconic movie heroes of all time. This pixelated adventure manages to capture the essence of Indiana Jones far better than anything else released after the original film. Even without the star aspect the game is solid and worth the play through.

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8. The Elder Scrolls Online. This game retails for $19.99 … HOWEVER, it regularly goes on sale for $9.99. Yes, there is an expansion that costs $29.99. Yes, you can subscribe to the game for benefits. Yes, there are in game purchases you can make. The game, at its core, is a fantastic experience worth a look. Spending less than $10 on this experience is well worth the cost, and I would have ranked it higher if it were always on sale. If you see this on sale and are looking for an excellent and refined adventure that has come a long way since it’s Elder Scrolls Craft inception it originally was, give it a try. I promise it won’t disappoint.

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7. Ikaruga. A Vertical Shooter that takes a standard concept and turns it on its head by including a mechanic that wants you to get hit… Vertical Shooters have been around since the beginning and have evolved into vibrant displays of reaction time and memorization. Ikaruga gives you that experience in a unique way while maintaining the difficulty associated with these types of games. Enjoy.

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6. Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You. Big Brother is watching, and you are he… She… Whomever. A point and click adventure style game from the perspective of a Big Brother agent tasked with finding out the culprit behind a terrorist attack. This game skirts the line of right and wrong and gleams with air of caution. You are responsible for interpreting the data you discover and ultimately make the decision. Are you right to ruin this life? Are you 100% sure? You decisions matter.

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5. Limbo. Limbo is a quick adventure game that gently mixes side scrolling puzzles with horror. I often find myself eerily quiet while playing. There’s a lot going on in the game and it thrusts you right into the middle of it without any real context. It’s the following period of discovery that the game represents that really sells this as one of my favorite little adventures of all time.

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4. Fallout: New Vegas. This iteration of the Fallout saga is arguably the best. There are bugs, sure. There are also a ton of mods to help the game look and feel more realistic that also do their best to get rid of the bugs. Fallout: New Vegas delivers an excellent story that really plays well with the “What happens in Vegas” mantra. Well worth the hundreds of hours of game time you’ll enjoy.

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3. Portal 1 and 2. If you haven’t played a portal game yet, stop what you’re doing and grab one up. You can often get both on sale for a combined cost of under $10. These games are polished. They have excellent game play, fun characters, and are iconic masterpieces. Do yourself a favor and pick these up!

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2. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. In which you play as a beastly bounty hunter that has sworn off guns and uses various critters and varmints to help him capture his prey. It has an amazing Dystopian Western feel combined with unique characters RPG elements. Stranger was a favorite of mine growing up (My bias is showing, I know) and could be yours as well. Check this gem out asap.

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1. Undertale.  What a wondrous ball of perfection. I have a hard time even writing about it. Everything about this game is lovable. The soundtrack mixed with the visual style and complemented by the fantastic characters… It has so much going for it. Even if your not an RPG enthusiasts I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s won over many people that were turned off by the visuals. Why not you?

Oresan’s Magnificent Foes: The Necromancer Dance Party…

You step gingerly into the dust covered room of the depths below. You’ve entered a long forgotten temple. As you scan the room for dangers you notice above you a faint light flickers into existence. The orb pulses lightly. Suddenly brilliant prismatic light pours outward in swift moving rays. The room comes alive. Near the back of the room a single spot light bathes a hooded figure in light, showing them off to the world. It displays enigmatic footwork, swiftly turns on itself with a deft twirl, and quickly thrusts one finger skyward! It begins to sing… Unerringly you watch. Drawn in by this presence.

I’m inspired daily. Books, Youtube, Movies… and Games. Specifically video games. Video games have done a ton of creative legwork and created iconic and influential monsters and villains for our every need. You just need to take the time to convert them. This particular foe was inspired by the Crypt of the Necrodancer videogame. This is my second entry in a series called “Oresan’s Magnificent Foes” in which I will be detailing entries in a personal Monster Manual of sorts. Each entry will include a little blurb about What the foe is, Why it exists, and How I went about creating it. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any suggestions, comments, or would like to see me create a foe based off something you love (or loathe) please let me know in the comments below. Read the rest of this entry

Top Ten D&D Foes (You probably HAVEN’T heard of)

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Firstly, if you haven’t already, go check out my “Top 10 D&D Foes (You Probably Already Heard Of)”… With that in mind I’m about to take a look at the opposite side of the coin. Foes you may not have heard of (or are sorely underused).

You’ve made your way into the depths of an ancient temple that had tapped into a powerful magical leyline. You’ve heard tell that long ago wizards came here seeking the secret hidden away within the swirling maelstrom of knowledge that has erupted here. In the darkness your lantern passes over a single eye staring back at you, and even though it blinks and seems to slink away, you heart sinks as you think: Beholder. You aim to get a better view for a moment, expecting your inevitable death, and are greeted with a slinking humanoid. Its body an amalgamation of chaos and human. It’s eye passes over you and suddenly you realize that you’ve lost something. A secret you’ve kept. “I know!” It says in a strange language. “It was you that killed her while she slept. She didn’t love you, so you killed her…” You rush forward striking the creature violently. Other eyes appear in the room, slinking between ancient pillars. There is no secret safe from these eyes!

nothic

  1. The Nothic. These beasts are the remnants of corrupted knowledge seekers. They sought secrets that were long forgotten and have been punished by Vecna himself. Their gaze is potent. Capable of stealing secrets from their prey as well as rotting them from within. Nothics are a great addition to any long lost magical temple.

waterWeird

  1. Water Weird. Have you ever wanted to drown your friends… figuratively of course. These are the nasties to do it. They are designed to do it, their primary attack grapples and pulls targets towards their pool of water. They are invisible in water and have a slew of resistances and immunities. Check them out.

Oni-5e

  1. Oni. My favorite Foe of all time is the Ogre Mage and the Oni is just that. They are big and nasty, can deal significant hits with their mighty glaive, and have magic to back that up. They can also shape shift to make themselves into pretty much whatever humanoid they want. They are not only awesome enemies, but they can easily be used as a recurring foe or BBEG.

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  1. Slaad. Imagine the Alien from the Alien movies. Now imagine a frog. Now imagine a vindictive mind bent on furthering their progeny. They plant egs within humanoids that eventually burst out of the chest killing the host… OR they give you a disease that slowly turns you into a Slaad that will likely try to impregnate a humanoid with a chest burster. Awesome, but gross.

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  1. Cranium Rats. A swarm of rats that get smarter them more their are. Their brains are showing. Their brains glow. Oh, and they can control your mind. That’s what they are. Cool.

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  1. The Scarecrow. Yeah sure it’s got vulnerability to fire, but this nasty can haunt your dreams. These scarecrow have a gaze that can send the mightiest character running in fear. Their also constructs which gives them a slew of immunities and resistances.

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  1. Bone Nage. Nagas on their own are pretty cool. However Nagas that have been mummified by Yuan-Ti and enslaved for all eternity to become temple guardians are cooler. These nasty undead have a number of powerful mind altering spells they can use to manipulate any battle. Give them a few Yuan-Ti helpers and your players are in some serious trouble.

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  1. Non-Player Characters. Hidden in the appendices of Volo’s Guide to Monsters there is a section dedicated to Non-Player characters. Many of these are fantastic and that section alone could easily populate a number of spots on this list. Check it out, you won’t be sorry.

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  1. Genies. I love foes that can take on many rolls, and genies do just that. There are a number of options in the Monster Manual and each of them are simultaneously dangerous in the front row and as a powerful magic user. The also come with fantastic lore and amazing sources of inspiration from fiction and folklore alike.

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1. Yuan-Ti Anathema. I really love Yuan-Ti as villains and I could include a number of their entries from the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide on this list however I have to give a special shout out  to the Anathema. This monstrosity is imposing with it’s huge size and numerous snake heads. It keeps many of the bonuses Yuan-TI usually posses as well as some powerful spells, namely Divine Word. The Anathema sees itself as a God and has the patience of one. Whittle your enemies down and see them driven before you with your Divine Word.

Oresan’s Magnificent Foes: The Bloodsail Scavenger!

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Arrrr me matey! You be seeking some sunken treasure in the depths of the deepest darkest oceans? Well pirate captain Oresan has a story for you… ::cough:: ::Clears throat:: Weird. Sorry about that. Sometimes national talk like a pirate day is every day…

If you couldn’t tell I’m going to talk about a foe I used in an adventure of the High Seas variety. This is my first entry in a series called “Oresan’s Magnificent Foes” in which I will be detailing entries in a personal Monster Manual of sorts. Each entry will include a little blurb about What the foe is, Why it exists, and How I went about creating it. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any suggestions, comments, or would like to see me create a foe based off something you love (or loathe) please let me know in the comments below.

Bloodsail Gnoll

What? What exactly is a Bloodsail Scavenger?

 

Imagine sailing the open ocean. Your comfortable with the systematic rocking caused by the endless rolling waves. Your not far from shore, trolling along the coastline for schools of fish. You do; however, find yourself scanning the horizons  as the sun begins to set. You know that these waters are infested with the Bloodsail Gnolls, horrific humanoid hyenas that capture forlorn fishermen and merchants. Rumor has it they take those that live back to their bone filled dens and sacrifice them to their god, the Ever Hungering. They keep their prey alive so they are fresh when they are devoured by the Bloodsail clan.

Its said they attack ships near the coast during the early hours of the night. The row out on speedy longboats, using red sails that seem to blend in with the light from the setting sun. By the time you see them coming, it’s already too late. They hulking beats, standing nearly 8 ft tall, have already boarded the boat. They attack with gnarled spears capable of piercing through heavy armor. These sadistic creatures carry nets used for ensuring the capture of living meat. They kill the strong mercilessly and capture the weak; the children and the old. If you have the foresight to give up before they get a chance to fight, your fate is sealed and far worse than a quick death by being run through.

 

Why? Why did I create these Abominations in the first place?

 

I have always loved Gnolls as a foe in my campaigns. They are sadistic and nasty and have a great tribal feel to them. As such I often try to include them in some way. I took it upon myself to run an island hopping adventure in a homebrew setting called “The Shattered Isles” for a few strangers online. Early on in their adventure I wanted to introduce them to something that was going on in the world around them. I wanted this to be subtle and not necessarily centered around something they would have empathy for.

Why not Gnolls? I could have just thrown some regular old Gnolls at the party, however they were level 1 at the time. So i needed to scale them down and give them a bit of High Seas flair.

 

How? Everybody has a process, what was mine?

 

The Bloodsail Scavengers are at their core a standard Gnoll, however they do not share the CR of one. (A Gnoll in the Monster Manual has a CR of ½ whereas the CR of a Bloodsail Scavenger is ¼) I took the hit points and lowered them by about a ⅓. The other abilities are nearly identical in damage and scope, however; I took away their Longbow and replaced it with a net.

The Longbow needed to go. This weapon alone could take early fights and make them significantly lopsided in favor of these ferocious beasts. These Gnolls still have a ranged weapon by throwing their spears as well as the addition of the net. They can use the net to restrain characters and drag them into the depths causing them to drown or to simply restrict their movements.

(Important note about nets: Though they are ranged, their distance is 10/30 which means if they throw the net any distance 10 or beyond they are at disadvantage. This means that their effective range is 5 ft with net without suffering disadvantage; however, to 5 ft is melee range and when you use a ranged attack in melee it suffers disadvantage. All attempts to net a creature are at disadvantage!)

Once again this was the inaugural entry into Oresan’s Magnificent Foes, an evolving Monster Manual of sorts. If you have any comments, suggestions, or have a foe you’d like to see created please let me know in the comments below.