Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Book of Foes

Art by Dave Billman

Included in the Lords of Creation boxed set was The Book of Foes with 64 pages (including covers).  According to the book, 'foe' is a term of convenience for “any being who is not a character.”  This broad term includes animals, gods, extraterrestrial species, folklore races, legendary beings, historical persons, mythological monsters, and figments of Tom Moldvay's imagination.  Beings tied at having the least experience value are baboons, cobras, (average) goblins, (average) mandragoras, and wolves.  An entity named Romerac Elerion has the largest experience value.
Romerac Elerion (rom'-er-ac el-er'-e-on) seldom appears twice looking the same.  His favorite guises are a pot-bellied, balding man with a beard; a 7 foot tall gray-eyed blond man with a jagged lightning scar criss-crossing his body; a brown-haired, blue-eyed minstrel; a tawny-colored Feline; a dwarvish jester dressed in multi-colored rags; a small gray cat; and a 200 foot long Dragon.  Romerac is whimsical, but once his fancy is caught he follows the whimsey to the end with rock-hard purpose.  He has all skills and powers.
Experience value being “the maximum number of experience points the characters could receive for surviving a determined attack by that particular foe.”  Los has the next to greatest experience value while the number three position is occupied by Wayland who...
...looks like an ordinary human man but he is actually one of the most powerful Lords of Creation.  Wayland is the master technician.  He can build almost anything.  He specializes in fantastic creations and has built many of the powerful objects in the world.  He also takes contracts for constructing special “pocket universes”.  Wayland has all powers and skills.  He sometimes goes by the name of Welland or Wayland Smith.
One of the settings described in the Lords of Creation rule book is the Elder Lands, featuring fantasy versions of various cultures of the Bronze Age (more or less).  This allows Moldvay to include in The Book of Foes game stats for gods who didn't make the cut for Deities & Demigods.  Among these are the gods of the Scythian pantheon.
Moldvay's interpretation of mythology is not necessarily traditional.  Outside of the Elder Lands, for instance, Moldvay describes the Einherjar as “the most valiant Viking warriors raised from the dead (as biomechanical constructs)...”

Art by Dave Billman
The first two entries in The Book of Foes – Abiku and Acephali – often work in tandem with Kinnara for reasons not expressly stated.  Abiku are described as “three foot tall humanoids with gray mottled skin, long claws, and fangs.”
Acephali (ak-e-fal'-e) are six foot tall creatures with brown, barrel-shaped bodies.  They have three legs arranged like a tripod and two long tentacles instead of arms.  They have three eyes spaced out around their bodies for all-around vision.  Acephali can teleport through space, time, and other dimensions.  Wrapped in their tentacles, Acephali can carry six small individuals, three human-sized individuals, or one large individual.
Kinnara are described as “thin, 5 foot tall humanoids with oversized heads.”  They are telekinetic.

Art by Dave Billman
Psyschokillers (cue Talking Heads) are...
...clones of psychotic killers with a genetic disposition toward murder.  They are raised in an environment designed to foster paranoia then surgically altered to be more efficient killers.  Ownership of a Psychokiller is highly illegal.  A Psychokiller is an arch-assassin, never stopping until its victim is dead.  Psychokillers have the powers of Plasteel Body, Exoskeleton, Backup Metabolism, Physical Control and Energy Control.
It's “highly illegal” to own Psychokillers?  When you outlaw Psychokillers, only outlaws will have Psychokillers.  Is it only slightly illegal to make them?  How do Psychokillers feel about being owned?

Art by Dave Billman
Scavenger Wheels are animals that have a 4 foot wide, spherical body covered with tentacles between two 6 foot tall, wheel-like appendages.  They hunt by rolling over the ground (usually wind blown, though they can move laboriously to a hill top, using their tentacles, then rol down when they sight prey).  As they roll over prey, they scoop it into their mouths using their tentacles.
Art by Dave Billman
According to page 61, “Vorian Death Maggots are winged serpent-like creatures 10 feet long.”  The never-published fifth Lords of Creation adventure was to be titled Voria.  Doubtless, these venomous foes would have played some part.