Barrow Wife – A DCC Monster

Deep and ancient magic infuses the funerary rituals of mighty warriors and great leaders. One such ritual involves the voluntary sacrifice of a lover of the deceased, burying them in the loamy foundation of their beloved’s barrow. Forever soothing and serving their lover for the eons.

A year and a day after the funerary ritual, the barrow wife begins to establish their barrow ward – the land around the beloved’s burial site. From the moss, lichen, reeds, and wet clay of their barrow ward, a barrow wife may take the form of a misshapen humanoid. From a distance you might confuse them for a person covered in mud and twigs. Those traveling through a barrow ward may hear the low and wordless soothing song of the barrow wife, comforting their departed lover.

While you can destroy the physical form of a barrow wife, it will reform during the next moonrise. Destroying a barrow wife outside of its barrow ward forever destroys its spirit.

Their love and devotion drives a barrow wife to protect the final resting place of their beloved and to add to their beloved’s wealth (and even glory). The means of gaining that wealth is often through gifts, offerings, and the occasional robbery.  After all, their beloved is dead, they don’t know that the silver was a gift from peasants and not from the plunder of conquest.

It should be noted that the barrow wife is not undead. Their spirit has transferred to the barrow ward.

Barrow Wife Statblock

Init +0; Atk slam +3 melee (d6 + suffocation on natural 17-20); AC 14 (or more); HD 4d8; hp 18; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP blind (see barrow-sense), spirit; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +3; AL N.

Suffocation: A barrow wife that rolls a natural 17 to 20 on a slam attack and hits begins to suffocate their opponent; Pieces of moss, lichen, and clay fill the targets nostrils and mouth. The target, or an ally, may spend an action die to clean out their nostrils and mouth and end the suffocation. At the end of each of the targets turns in which they are suffocating they take 1d6 temporary Stamina damage. When the target’s Stamina drops to 0, the target dies. The target fully recovers from this temporary Stamina damage after a 10 minute rest.

Barrow-sense: While within the boundaries of their barrow ward, a barrow wife can sense and locate all creatures in the barrow ward. Outside of the barrow ward, a barrow wife is effectively blind.

Fire: A barrow wife first damaged by fire gains +2 AC and -10’  MV, as the clay hardens and solidifies.

Design Notes

The barrow wife is my response to the adventurers encountering a wayside shrine with an offering of silver coins; It was something I added to a random table for events while traveling. One of the players looted the offering. From there, I knew I had to introduce something.

With the first session taking place in the area surrounding the village of Bitterweed Barrow, and second session involved exploring a barrow mound outside the village of Hirot, I felt a very strong Danelaw vibe was warranted.

When I think of the look and feel of the barrow wife, I envision the Swamp Thing, only less viney and less defined. While the barrow wife name implies a female, I am deliberate in my language that anyone of any gender may be a barrow wife. I just don’t like the sound of Barrow Spouse or Barrow Partner. It also could be confused with Barrow Wight.

Chip – Plague Ensorcelled Corpse – A DCC Monster

Digging around the documents for my Open Table DCC game at Better World Book, I stumbled upon the following creature.

Chip – plague ensorcelled corpse (magic missile): Init +1; Atk claws +1 (1d3), pitchfork +1 (1d8) or spell; AC 12; HD 2d6; hp 10; MV 30′; Act 1d20; SPmagic missile (spell check +2, the spell is never lost) undead, goat form, ensorcelling plague bearer (see below); SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +1; AL C

Chip is the victim of an ensorcelling corpse plague. During his brief adventuring career, he encountered a sorcerer’s scroll of magic missile. His successful reading of the scroll infused his soul with the strands of magic missile. In the moment of his death in the cursed halls, the dweomer claimed his soul and reanimated Chip.

Chip appears much as he did in life; Though when stressed his eyes flare iridescent green. When bumped, jostled, or damaged, eldritch green runes crackle across Chip’s body.

Chip can, at will, transform into a green-eyed farm goat. As undead, Chip need not eat, drink, nor breathe, and is immune to critical hits, poison and disease.

Ensorcelling Plague Bearer: When Chip is destroyed, the ensorcelling corpse plague bursts in a scintillating green miasma. All intelligent creatures within 15′ of Chip must make a DC 12 Will save. Caster’s may add their caster level to their Will saving throw roll.

Any creature that fails their Will saving throw gain the ability to cast magic missile 1d3+1 times; With a CL equal to their character level. The creature now becomes a vector for the ensorcelling corpse plague. When the creature dies if it has any remaining castings of the plaguing spell or ever spell burned to cast the plaguing spell, it becomes a Plague Ensorcelled Corpse of power commiserate to its level / HD.

A Plague Ensorcelled Corpse will appear as they did in life. They gain the ability to cast the plaguing spell with a bonus equal to their HD (and never suffer spell loss). Also roll on the Traits or Properties of Undead (Table 9-6) to determine additional uniqueness.

Running DCC at my Friendly Local Book and Game Store

Thursday night games at Better World Books in Goshen are growing in popularity. Starting at 4pm and going until 10pm, there are many games being played:

  • Board games
  • Dice masters
  • Magic drafts
  • Role-playing games

Last year, I ran the Dungeon Crawl Classic adventure Portal Under the Stars for a group of 4 players. On Thursday, March 2nd, I’m planning to run a different 0-level character funnel at Better World Books (see the Facebook event).

My eventual goal is to start up an every other week game going; Though perhaps not on Thursdays. Most Thursdays I have dinner with my daughters (and that takes precedence). Also, there are already three other tables of RPGs on Thursday nights:

  • A closed group 5th edition D&D game (5 or so players)
  • Pathfinder league play
  • A 5th edition D&D game (9 or so players)

Regardless, I’m looking forward to the antics of 0-level characters, hopelessly outclassed, struggling and eking out their survival.