April 26, 2011

Mythic Monsters-Vodnik

This is part of the A-Z Blog Challenge. Herein I am presenting a new monster that hopefully has not been seen before in any RPG game. This is drawn from stories and mythologies found in a variety of real-world cultures.


It rose out of the water, sending a ripple of waves outward. At first it looked like a part of the bog had lifted itself out of the depths until it revealed itself fully in a vaguely humanoid form. The thing let out a hissing gurgle and reeked of rotten mulch. The fisherman gagged and took a step back. He stumbled backwards onto the shore of the lake. He turned to flee but then felt the tug. It was like a steel beast had grabbed his arm but there was nothing there. He turned frantically and saw the creature concentrating and gesturing; obviously it was the cause. Then the invisible grip began to pull him toward the water and the creature. The fisherman scrambled away but was still slowly pulled against his will. He jammed his pole into the muddy shore to stop the movement. It held and the fisherman pulled himself away from the water. Then the fishing pole snapped and the fisherman was pulled into the water, never to be seen again.

A Slavic and Russian monster, this is the undead form of a man or boy who drowned in a body of fresh water. No matter what age the person died at, the Vodnik always appears as a naked old man with green hair, green skin and algae covering his body. There is some variation in their forms as some take on blackish scales instead of undead flesh. Some also gain webbing between their fingers and/or gills.

A Vodnik is always tied to the body of water wherein he drowned. As a warning to the unwary, they can leave their water source for short periods of time so simply leaving the water is not enough to escape them. However, they have greater strength when they are actually in their water; in fact, their added strength is proportional to how much of their body is actually beneath the surface of the water. Thus they try to drag their victims beneath the surface as quickly as possible.

The Vodnik can control the fish in their water. This can range from simply having an extra set of eyes everywhere, to having minions to attack with. This gets even worse if there is a monstrous fish in the water as well. Also, when a Vodnik kills a victim within its water source, the soul of the victim does not pass on or even turn into another Vodnik. Instead the soul is transferred into one of the fish in the body of water, trapped there until the fish is killed.

Vodnik are naturally hostile to those not of their kind. However, it is possible to placate them enough so they will leave a person alone. This starts with overtures of kindness to the Vodnik from the edge of the water (woe to the person who tries to enter the water uninvited). First it begins with doffing your hat to the Vodnik as you pass by. Thereafter giving it tobacco or fish will help. Never will a Vodnik become friendly with a person, but at most, they will refrain from automatically attacking the person.

As a side note, the Russians built the GAZ-3937 "Vodnik", an amphibious vehicle.

-Drag: The Vodnik is able to drag its victim toward it. The Vodnik must be in water to use this ability, but this drag does not require physical contact and can be done at range.
-Drowning: The Vodnik can fill the lungs of its victim as a special attack, basically causing the victim to immediately start drowning. This attack requires the victim to have some part of itself in the water.
-Water Strength: While within the water the Vodnik gains bonuses to hit and damage. How much this bonus is depends on how much of the Vodnik is in the water. To keep things simple, apply a bonus when the Vodnik is half or fully in the water.

-A magician has a theory that since there has never been any Vodnik found in salt water, there is something about salt water that can harm them. The party is tasked with gathering some salt water and “attacking” a Vodnik with it. According to the real-world myths this should actually work, but of course you can decide to change that.

-Tragedy has struck. For a long time there has been a monstrous squid-like creature in the lake the village was built next to. The creature would disrupt fishing and trade and the village decided to do something about it. They hired a party of adventurers to kill the beast. Unfortunately the beast was too much for the group and it destroyed their boat and they drowned. Now the village has to content with a pack of Vodnik and the monster they now control. Hopefully, the player characters can do better than the last group of adventurers.

-A woman has lost her son to a Vodnik. She knows her son’s soul is trapped in the lake inside a fish. She beseeches the party to kill the fish housing her son’s soul so it can go on. Of course that means dealing with the Vodnik as well.

-While passing near a lake the characters are attacked by a Vodnik. As they finish dispatching the creature they are seen by a native of the nearby village and he is outraged. It seems the villagers had all been able to reach an agreement with the Vodnik, wherein they fed it tobacco and fish and it left them alone. Of course the nearby lair of orcs had not reached this agreement with the Vodnik and it killed them on sight. The lake lies between the orc lair and the village, so the Vodnik inadvertently acted as a protector for the village against the orcs. Now that it is gone the village lies vulnerable to the orcs. The village will attempt to guilt the party into destroying the orc lair.

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