Friday, 20 July 2018

Scylla: Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual


Henry Justice Ford Henry Justice Ford Tales Of Troy 1 Flickr Photo

Another contribution for Eric Nieudan's project. This classical creep is to me the best-imagined of all Henry Justice Ford's monsters. He wisely ignores the mildly ridiculous "dogs growing out of waist" description from Hyginus, and focuses on the grasping horror so vividly illustrated here in all stages of crew acquisition. There's no telling how many Victorian and Edwardian children were terrified witless by this "character-building" sight.

Text of this post is released under this license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

SCYLLA

Armour class: as chain
Hit dice: 15 (90 hp); daughters 12
Move: slow crawl, slow swim
Attacks: 6, grab and devour, 2d6 / d6
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 6
Treasure: 10000, magic; daughters 5000, magic
Alignment: Chaotic

Scylla was a lovely nymph, caught up in the amours of Poseidon and cursed by his jealous wife to bear a monstrous form for all time. She dwells in a cave atop a sea-cliff, commanding the only safe passage through a narrow strait with a whirlpool. It is rumored that she has spawned parthenogenetic daughters, of like form, who have spread out to terrorize wet, dark, and desolate places in the world. 

Scylla's voice is low and harsh, speaking all the tongues of the folk who toil her sea; she barely remembers her sylvan native tongue. She smells like brine and slightly putrid slime, but her movement is sinuous and graceful, almost hypnotic.

The six ponderous heads have brutish women's faces bearded with the legs of the octopus, connected to the barrel-shaped invertebrate body and its vestigial legs by long, snaking necks. Each head attacks to pick up a human-sized foe, ignoring armor, without damage on a hit. The victim thereafter is held fast, breaking free on STR+d20 > 25, and is automatically chewed for 2d6 damage each round in her clutches. Escaping her mouth parts usually means a 10' fall onto the rocky sea below. Two heads can cooperate to pick up a horse-sized meal, if both hit. Enemies that cannot be picked up take d6 damage from her bites instead.

At each 30 points of damage taken she must check morale, and retreats into her cave if this fails. In the cave is treasure that her discerning tentacles have fished over centuries from the wrecks of emptied ships: coins, goods, and the possessions of the slain. She will only listen to parley involving revenge on the sea-god and his spouse, but her daughters may be more amenable to deal-making after a show of strength.

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