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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Friday, March 17, 2023

Rock Crab (New Monster)


Rock Crab by Lore Suto

The Rock Crab, a new monster, originally appeared only in the Random Encounter table of the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave adventure (indexed here). However, inspired by Lore Suto's fantastic illustration for them, I recently realized that if they also climb walls they fill a dungeon niche similar to piercers (which aren't in the Holmes Basic Monster List, so would essentially be a new monster themselves for a Holmes adventure), so I have revised the adventure to replace the piercers in Area 9 and the Random Encounter table with rock crabs.

Rock Crab

Least Large Huge Giant
Move 120 feet/turn,
90 feet/turn
90 feet/turn,
60 feet/turn
60 feet/turn,
30 feet/turn
30 feet/turn,
15 feet/turn
Hit Dice 1 hp 1/2 1 2
Armor Class 7 5 3 1
Treasure Type nil nil nil nil
2 claws for
1 hp each
2 claws for
1d4 each
2 claws for
1d6 each, or
1 drop for 1d8
2 claws for
1d8 each, or
1 drop for 1d12

These cavern-dwelling crabs have shells resembling cave formations, and thus can camouflage themselves in their environs by tucking their legs and claws underneath and remaining motionless. In this manner they attempt to surprise their prey as it passes (1-3 in 6). 

Furthermore, as they grow, the spikes on the back of their shells grow taller, coming to resemble groups of short stalagmites or stalactites. The huge and giant crabs have claws strong enough to grip rock, and will often climb to the ceiling and attempt to drop on their prey (surprise on 1-5 in 6; if the crab gains surprise, the drop is treated as an attack roll with a +4 to hit and doing the indicated damage; if a character is not surprised, they can automatically avoid the dropping crab). 

The least rock crabs will generally be found in hatcheries in large numbers (4d6). As they grow, they wander to other caverns but often stay in loosely associated groups (2d4 large, 1d6 huge, or 1d3 giant rock crabs). After one crab makes an initial attack, it will drum its claws on the floor for one melee round to alert the others in the area to join in. During this round it will attempt to dodge attacks but will not make an attack.
While the rock crab lives on land, they can still swim slowly and will sometimes dwell on the ceilings of water-filled caverns inhabited by fish upon which they can prey.

Their shells are extremely tough and can be fashioned into shields that are equal to metal in strength.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Gary Con "Roll With Gary" Dice (2018)


In 2018, Gary Con released a limited edition set of dice with colors matching the set packaged with Holmes Basic. These "Roll With Gary" dice were designed by Luke Gygax and produced by Black Oak Workshop.

The shapes and colors match those of the original set, including a yellow d4, orange d6, green d8, blue d12 and white 20-sided die. On each die, the highest number is replaced with the "GC" logo. The 20-sider is labeled 0-9 twice, just like the 20-sider in the original set, except that each "0" is replaced with a "GC". 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Were-shark ("New" Monster)

An unholy symbol depicting a were-shark; illustration by Lore Suto

A "new" monster for Holmes Basic, which is featured in Area #10 of The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave adventure.

The were-shark is one of the few monsters that was introduced into D&D by J. Eric Holmes, and certainly his most iconic monster contribution. He mentioned them in the entry for Lycanthropes in the Holmes Basic rulebook, and they featured prominently in his novel The Maze of Peril, in scenes based on actual game sessions from his early years running D&D for his sons. 

Holmes never provided us with a formal write-up of this beast, so here finally is a version for use with Holmes Basic & OD&D. Note that I've used the hyphenated spelling ("were-shark") in line with the way it appears in the Holmes Basic rulebook and The Maze of Peril.


Move: 60 feet/turn walking, 150 feet/turn swimming
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 5
Treasure Type: C
Alignment: neutral/chaotic evil
Attacks: 1 bite and 1 tail slap
Damage: 2d6/1d6

An old coastal legend tells of a primordial sea deity who, angered by the increasing intrusion of land-dwellers into its domain, sent forth a lycanthropic curse to punish these interlopers. It begins with a grievous shark bite that, if survived, leads to something even more horrible. At night, the victim will find themselves yearning to swim, an urge that will grow until the light of the full moon striking the sea draws them inexorably into the water to complete the cycle by transforming into an enormous shark, hunting for food and further victims. Perhaps most disturbingly, they can also assume an unnatural hybrid form having the body of a shark joined with muscular human arms and legs, rendering neither watercraft nor beach a safe haven from their depredations. The sight of this hybrid emerging from the water may paralyze even the stoutest of souls (make a saving throw against turn to stone or be unable to take any action; may try again each round).
While a strong-willed were-shark may regain some measure of control while the moon is waning, as time goes on they typically spend more and more nights in the sea, and trend chaotic and evil as their affinity for their deital creator strengthens. Their presence in the water will attract other sharks to the vicinity, and the smaller ones can be summoned when in need.

Sharks (1d6): MV 240 feet/turn swimming, HD 1d3, AC 6, AT 1 bite for 1d6.

Eventually a were-shark will abandon civilization for a lair on a deserted island or hidden sea cave, occasionally shared with others of their kin, where they will sleep in human form during the day among a hoard of items plundered from anglers and sailors. Some become guardians for other followers of the deity, although their tendency to attack allies as well as foes renders them somewhat unreliable. 

In shark or hybrid form, their primary means of melee attack is a ferocious bite, but in hybrid form they can also slap a second opponent with their tail, which in addition to inflicting damage may stun the target (drop anything held on 1-2 in 6). As with other lycanthropes, a were-shark in animal or hybrid form is immune to normal weapons, but is subject to silver or magic. Sages caution that land-based plants such as wolvesbane may be ineffective against a were-shark. Whether there exists a seaweed or coral that can be substituted remains to be determined.

Chris' original illustration of the Wereshark from A&E #13, July 1976

See Also:
---All of the posts tagged WERESHARK in the Holmes Basic G+ Community Archive

Chris Holmes' inscription in a copy of Tales of Peril: