Late Entries to a Survey of Bestiaries
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House assembled a survey of one hundred bestiaries, posting an entry on their blog for each day from June 1, 2016 to September 8, 2016. When they were done, there were additional bestiaries that they did not want to omit entirely. This page lists latecomers to the survey added in 2018.
January 6, 2018
Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendices I & II
designer: William W. Connors
interior artists: Thomas Baxa & Mark Nelson
cover artist: Jeff Easley
publication date: 1996
number of pages: 128
catalog number: TSR 2162
description: This compendium collects Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix I (1991) & Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix II (1993), which were originally issued as loose leaf sheets in a folder. This book contains creatures found in the gothic Ravenloft Campaign Setting. The book is compatible with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition.
Our featured entry from this bestiary is the ermordenung.
The ermordenung are a dark and evil people found almost exclusively in the domain of Borca. Here, they act as elite agents of lvana Boritsi, the ruler of that dread domain. On rare occasions, they are sent on missions outside of Borca to further the interests of their mistress.
Ermordenung appear as normal human beings of surpassing attractiveness. The men are tall, normally no less than six feet in height, and smoothly muscled. They seem to radiate an inner power from their finely set, classical features. The women are tall, often only an inch or two shorter than the men, and have the perfect features that every artist tries to create. Both sexes are marked by raven hair and penetrating dark eyes that, it is said, are almost hypnotic. Their complexion, however, is rather more pale than that common to most of the people in Borca and contrasts greatly with their dark hair and eyes.
The ermordenung speak the common language of the people of Borca. Their dialect, however, is marked by an aristocratic manner and they carry themselves with a noble bearing that sets them apart from all but the ruling family.
Combat: In combat, an ermordenung will attempt to grasp an exposed area of flesh on an opponent's body so that its deadly touch can do its work. Any successful attack roll indicates that the target has been touched and must save vs. poison (with a +4 bonus on their roll). The effects of the ermordenung toxins are felt within seconds-those who fail their saves are instantly slain, while those who succeed suffer 10 points of damage...
In noncombat situations, the ermordenung will often use their great physical beauty and overwhelming charisma to lure would-be victims of the opposite sex close. Once their victims are at ease, they draw them into a deadly embrace and slay the hapless souls with their toxic kiss. Victims of this "kiss of death" are entitled to a saving throw vs. poison (with a -4 penalty to their die roll). As usual, failure indicates instant death. Success, on the other hand, indicates that the victim suffers 30 points of damage. Those who survive this horrid attack may attempt to break free of the embrace (see below), but will be kissed again on the next round if they fail to do so.
Ermordenung are immune to nearly all forms of toxins themselves. The only variety to which they have no natural resistance is that of their peers-any ermordenung is as vulnerable to the deadly touch of its own kind as a normal man.
Habitat/Society: The ermordenung live as members of the ruling elite in Borca. They seldom mix with "the common
folk" unless acting on behalf of their mistress, lvana Boritsi.
The fact that the ermordenung cannot touch another living creature without causing it to wither and die causes them endless heartache. They have been forever denied the physical pleasures-the caress of a lover's hand, the embrace of a close friend, the affectionate hug of a child--that mean so much to mortal men. Their inner suffering and agony has been marshaled to make them cruel and heartless agents who carry out the orders of lvana Boritsi without question.
Ecology: The ermordenung are normal humans who have been transformed, at the command of Ivana Boritsi, mistress of Borca, into nightmarish creatures. The process by which these creatures are created is dark and mysterious, but is believed to be so brutal to its subjects that only the most physically fit can survive it. Because of her own passionate nature, lvana Boritsi selects only the most physically beautiful
of her people for the “honor" of transformation.
January 13, 2018
Van Richten's Guide to Vampires
designer: Nigel D. Findley
interior artist: Stephen Fabian
cover artist: Den Beauvai
publication date: 1991
number of pages: 96
catalog number: TSR 9345 (RR3)
description: This compendium contains creatures found in the gothic Ravenloft Campaign Setting. The book is compatible with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons second edition.
Our featured entry from this bestiary concerns the necrology of vampires.
It should should come as no surprise that a Vampire's metabolism is not like that of a mortal; in fact, strictly speaking, a vampire has no metabolism whatsoever. Although all of the biological systems present in a living mortal are also present in a vampire, most of these systems are changed in function. For example, most vampires do not need to breathe, and can function equally well in an airless crypt or in the vacuum of a void. Provided that immersion in water is not deadly to them, they can function unimpaired on the ocean floor. Vampires do retain the use of their lungs, but only for speech.
Because vampires have no metabolism in the normal sense, metabolic toxins and poisons-ingested, inhaled, or insinuative-have absolutely no effect on the creatures. This is not to say there are not certain substances which, when insinuated into the body of a vampire, cause it serious or even lethal damage. These substances, although they may seem to function like poisons, are more like allergens and are usually specific to individual creatures. For example, I myself - have dispatched a vampire that was sensitive to holly, and I have heard that the ash of burned
alder wood is lethal to another certain vampire.
Some examples of vampiric allergens are yew leaves, rose petals, salt, rice, silver, mistletoe, and lilies.
The digestive tract of a vampire is greatly modified from that of a living mortal. The stomach is frequently reduced in size, often to the size of a man's clenched fist, simply because no vampire needs to ingest large volumes of solid food.
There is wide variation among vampires with regard to the ability to eat solid food. Some
vampires are unable to eat normal food at all,
and any attempt to do so results in immediate
regurgitation. Others can eat solid food with no
ill effects, although they extract no
nourishment from the food, and pass the
material through their bodies over a course of
hours, as mortals do. In the middle ground,
there are some vampires that can eat solid
food, but must regurgitate it within a period
ranging from minutes to hours. This issue may
seem incidental, but it obviously has significant
effects on a vampire's behavior, should the
creature try to masquerade as a living creature.
The circulatory system of a vampire is little
changed. The heart still pumps blood
throughout the vessels of the monster's body.
There are some differences, however. Because
vampires have no need to extract oxygen from
the air, their blood absorbs nothing from the
lungs. This renders them completely immune
to noxious gases that must be breathed to be
effective. A vampire might inhale the gas-that
is, draw it into its lungs-but the toxic
chemicals in the gas would not cross from the
lungs to the blood.
The blood of a vampire is also somewhat
different from the blood of a mortal. When
viewed normally, it has the same rich, red color
as a mortal's blood. When it is viewed by
transmitted light, such as when a vial of vampire blood is held up to a light source, it has a
distinctive golden color. Blood drawn from an
undestroyed vampire can manifest a wide
variety of powers. In some cases,-the blood is
highly caustic, causing severe acid-like damage
to anyone who touches it. In other cases, the
blood bursts explosively into flame when
exposed to sunlight. In still other cases, anyone
who touches so much as one drop of the blood
with bare skin instantly falls under the mental
sway of the vampire. It is impossible to predict
beforehand what effects the blood of a
particular vampire might have, if any. There is
one common factor: at the instant a vampire is
destroyed, any samples of his blood
immediately become completely inert, and
frequently become corrupted and rancid within