Five Beasts from Bosch

Being a collection of OSR monsters statted system-agnostically (but OSE-adjacent), and inspired by the imagery of the magnificent Hieronymus Bosch.

All art from the wikimedia site for Bosch’s art.

Unmourning Harpist

HD 5 AC as chainmail Attack bite +4/1d8

Move 120′ (40′) Morale 7 Alignment Chaotic

The unmourning harpist is a solitary creature possessed of a patient joviality and love of art. It operates by the creed that truth is beauty and beauty truth, and the best art therefore reveals truth. The harpist appears like a gangly-limbed figure clad in brass and a red silk veil, head like the skull of a horse, strumming a sturdy harp, and mounted on something that resembles a featherless goose whose slender neck has been reduced to half length and sports a lamprey-like mouth instead of its proper head. In truth, the two components are a single creature, though their movements suggest rider and mount.

The unmourning harpist seeks out the graves of those who died with unrevealed secrets, favoring hypocrites, liars, frauds and secret-bearers. Its lower mouth consumes the bones of these individuals, and from their essence, the harpist composes a beautiful, sonorous song that extols and reveals every speck of dirt, every hidden bigotry, every unpunished act of crime and hatred, that the person had in life. This brings the harpist immense joy, and it sees strong reactions to these revelations much as a concert musician sees a standing ovation.

The unmourning harpist does not love to fight. It will happily debate the virtues of music, the beauty of death, and the art of disgusting secrets revealed. But it will never willingly fight to the death, and considers martial conflict the purview of other, less musically-inclined beings.

Cathechist of Nefun

HD 3 AC as leather Attack bite +2/1d4 or catechism

Move 60′ (20′) Morale 9 Alignment Chaotic

Nefun is one of countless quasi-demonic, half-dead demigods whose vestigial ethereal form still contains just enough power and spite to keep a few servitors active. His catechists roam the underworld, each of them bound to a book containing the nihilistic and offensive lore of their master. They were formed from the remnants of the cultist that in a forgotten age worshiped Nefun, when he was more than what he is now, yet still less than he desired.

The catechists resemble beast-faced parodies of priests, clutching weighty tomes and each with an open wound revealing glistening bone and organs. They are never silent, always muttering to themselves, complaining about the fundamental absurdity of the universe in grandiose and theological terms. Most of what they say is nonsense, though blasphemous nonetheless.

Catechists of Nefun prey on creatures like goblins, petty elements, lost undead, and anything else with enough intelligence to have religion but not enough reason to withstand obfuscation. Attended by their unhappy retainers, the catechists sermonize and proselytize. They weaponize their discourse if attack, channeling Nefun’s spite into proclamations of negation. Each combat round, they engage in some new topic, rolled randomly.

1d6Catechism
1Litany On The Futility of Love: Within hearing range of this catechism, allies cannot aid one another, give each other cover, or otherwise confer bonuses or benefits to one another in combat.
2Theory on Greater Entropy: With hearing range of this catechism, healing spells and other forms of healing magic instead inflicts damage.
3Psalms of Discord: Within hearing range of this catechism, all spells that are cast get their target assigned randomly.
4Thesis on the Nature of Aggression: When this catechism is spoken, all within hearing range must save or immediately make a free melee attack against nearest target, friendly or otherwise.
5Theological Observations on Divine Capriciousness: When this catechism is spoken, all clerics (and similar types of casters) within hearing range must save or have all their prepared spells replaced by randomly determined new ones.
6Sermon on the Blessings of Greed: When this catechism is spoken, all enemies within hearing range must save or be compelled to shed all valuable treasure off their bodies.

Cyclus Hound

HD 2 AC as leather Attack bite +2/1d6, claw +2/1d6

Move 120′ (40′) Morale 7 Alignment Neutral

Slender, stealthy, hairless rat-canines with cursed mouths. They come in a variety of colors, and tend to hunt in scavenging packs whenever they emerge from baleful places. For though their behavior and modus operandi resembles the common scavenger-predator, the cyclus hounds are different.

The cyclus hounds do not kill. They are incapable of killing. For they are cursed; never shall their bite or claw cause the death of another being. Never shall they murder, never shallthey rob anyone or anything of life.

But that does not keep them from trying. They will gnaw, they will claw, they will howl, they will chew, they will scratch and render and worry. And their prey will feel it all, never perishing, staying alive and in agony throughout.

Furnace Rake

HD 6 AC as plate Attack searing hot staff+5/1d6+2 or spell

Move 60′ (20′) Morale 9 Alignment Chaotic

Furnace rakes desperate wish to be more than they are. They are shrill and petty tyrants drawn to ruins and sites burned by primordial fire, where they set up court in emulation of imperial splendor. Always desperately insistent about their own magnanimity and glory, they exercise preternatural command over fire and creatures of fire.

Each furnace rake carries in its body an ember of an ancient divine fire, stolen from its rightful deity in some forgotten age. This fire provide the furnace rake with their powers, and they can command fire-based creatures like an evil cleric of 16th level commands undead, and they cast spells as a 10th-level cleric. Fire and heat harms them not. They prefer to let their minions (few of which are happy) do any and all dirty work while the furnace rake sits upon their throne and issue shrilly-voiced edicts.

Furnace rakes are far from harmless, though they are susceptible to bribery and flattery. Yet they are temperamental and capricious bullies, often worse friends than enemies. Quick and luxurious gratification will always win over any long-term plans in their bitter, egotistical minds. Were they smarter, more patient, and less prone to despotic excesses, they might be counted among the greater kinds of fiends.

Gebbaling

HD 1 AC as plate Attack spike poke +0/1d6

Move 120′ (40′) Morale 6 Alignment Neutral

Connoisseurs of the underworld’s detritus, gebbalings are drawn to the refuse of battle and excitement. Bits of armor, launched arrow shafts, shattered shields, emptied potion bottles – everything discarded and lost in fights interests these pests, as does anything of unusual but useless nature. A gebbaling appears as an oversized, slightly deformed full helmet supported by a pair of dirty, taloned legs and dragging an awkward, heavy tail. The surface of their helmet is decorated with whatever trash they are currently enamored with. From visor of their helmet sport a cluster of iron-bone spikes, which as they use as weapons and as primitive manipulators to scoop up pieces of treasure-trash.

Gebbalings behave much like oversized rats, and to the denizens of the underworld, they are mostly treated as such. Occasionally they will snatch objects of greater value, and use it to attract a mate. Some gebbalings are known to live symbiotically with underworld societies, acting as guard dogs in exchange for delicious, dirty refuse.

Gebbalings are cowardly creatures, and prefer sneakiness and stealth over a direct fight. They are quick to scamper if threatened. When a gebbaling dies, it vomits forth 1d6 items from the 1d20 list below.

1A brass inkpot.
2The hilt of a broken iron sword.
3A roll of parchment with the hint of once-arcane lettering.
4Half a leather cap.
5A bundle of dirty bandages.
6The skeletons of six goldfish.
7A well-chewed spellbook, ruined but possible to restore with the right tools and dedication.
81d12 Red-brown glass beads each etched with a number between one and sixteen.
9A ceramic mug sculpted to resemble a grinning face.
10An arrow of (random creature type) slaying.
11The blade of a sturdy bronze dagger.
12The skirt of a brigantine with significant claw marks.
13A brass abacus without beads.
14A saliva-drenched mail coif.
15Half an iron pauldron resembling a roaring boar’s head.
16The head of a heavy bronze axe, notched from wear and battle.
17A random 3rd level arcane scroll, kept safe inside a hollowed femur bone.
18A 10-foot long leather string, both ends tattered.
19A leather belt decorated with evenly-spaced brass bells and jingles.
20The tip of an iron spear resembling an angry, pointy-faced mouse.

3 thoughts on “Five Beasts from Bosch

    • Certainly! The gebbaling and the cyclus hounds are from the right panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights. The catechist of Nefun and unmourning harpist are from the Temptation of St. Anthony (Lisbon version). The furnace rake is from the right panel of The Last Judgment.

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