Fantasy Safari: Spears of the Dawn, Part 2

The Moatia are a race of short old men with yellow skin who walk with a limping gait. All of them are powerful sorcerers who live alone deep within the forests and warn away any intruders with markposts made from bones. They are often wicked and cruel, but are also very skilled healers who have medicine and powders to cure any ailment in existance. They never provide services for free though, and the prices they demand can be very steep or appaling. Moatia don’t use any weapons or attack with their hands, but fight entirely with their magic. They remind me quite a lot of central European witches in their behavior and role.

The Night Men are a race of humans from outside the Three Lands, but all of them are savage and deformed, but almost nothing is known about them other than that they sometimes cross the river at night and raid villages on the southern border. When they attack, they always do so in large hordes, and are usually led by a very powerful sorcerer or shaman. These raiders destroy villages and take large numbers of captives, which they take back to their jungles to be sacrificed in ancient ruined temples. Some people think that they are evil spirits or actually animals that have been transformed into human-like shapes.

The Obia is a spirit in the shape of a large leopard or jackal that serves sorcerers and witches as a guardian or to abduct people and bring them to them. Either to become their wives or for other unspeakable purposes. An obia can grasp a victims in its mouth without hurting them and then run off into the night at very great speed leaving barely any traces. Only the greatest hunters have any chance of tracking them down and find the place where the victims are held. Defeating the sorcerer and his obia guardian is a whole different story altogether.

The Rompo is a large beast that looks like a huge starved rodent and feeds on human corpses. Like ghouls, they often make their lairs in old tombs or cemetaries, feeding on the remains of those burried there and slaying any travelers or explorers that come to store their bodies to be eaten later. When investigating the disappearance of people near an old tomb, there is a good chance of finding the rompos food stores before encountering the beast itself. Rompos are very smart and while they don’t speak human languages, they sometimes gather in large groups on graveyeards. The howling of a group of rompo at night has a hypnotic effect on any humans nearby, which makes them especially dangerous.

The Sasabonsam are a race of winged men with red hair who often abduct people by snatching them up into the air and carrying them to their dark temples as sacrifices to their bat gods. Few people have ever seen these lairs of the sasabonsam and returned to tell of them, but often these creatures are led by an evil sorcerer or a moatia. Seems to me like a lot of monsters in the Three Lands like to abduct people and carry them to a hidden lair. I wonder if that is a common theme in West African myth.

Umthali
Umthali

Can’t really have a desert heroic fantasy setting without snakemen, do you? Umthali fulfill this role in the Three Lands. They are the distant descendants of humans and intelligent snakes from the early days of the world and serve the dark gods of the underworld but were driven out by the gods and their human followers. Normal umthali warriors are not special in any way, having basically the same abilities like humans. They are lead by very powerful shamans, though. Like the yuan-ti from Dungeons & Dragons, umthali have many different shapes with some of them appearing almost human, While the serpentmen of Robert Howard had the ability to change their shape to that of specific humans, these creatures here seem to be straight copies of the Yuan-ti. I would have loved to see some new ideas for them, especially given the strength of many other creatures of the setting.

Walking Corpse
Walking Corpse

A Walking Corpse is in many ways like a zombie, but it’s merely dead and not a rotting husk of a man. Shamans can create them, but only from bodies that have not been burried yet, as the souls of these have already departed into the afterlife. When a walking corpse is destroyed, its spirit still survives and lingers on, but the book doesn’t say what would become of them.

Witches are people with a natural ability of sorcery. They can curse others simply through the force of their will and it might take many years until their powers are revealed even to themselves. Often witches of a given area come together and meet in their dreams, and the leaders of these groups are often very powerful sorcerers. Many witches are not evil, but their powers only allow them bring harm upon others and can’t be used to do any good other than hurting those who threaten their villages and families. These magic abilities can be removed by spells that can break powerful curses, but only if the witch truly desires to do be rid of the powers. Otherwise they quickly return.

I am really surprised at how much great stuff is here on so very few pages. It’s almost two great monsters on every single page. Even really great monster books don’t come anywhere near to this. The monsters are also all really extremely minimalistic in their mechanics. With the rules being one of the many B/X clones, the stat block consist only of nine numbers and the description is just the appearance of the creature and a brief summary of what it does with almost no word spend on any specific rules as they are so straightforward that they don’t really need any more elaboration. Probably one of my favorite monster collections I’ve read so far.

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