Skip to main content

The Bottled Sea (Knave 2e bestiary)

With the Unfathomable! campaign coming to a conclusion, I'm starting to think about the next one. I won't have nearly as much time to prep, so I'm picking rules and settings that lend themselves to improv:

ruleset: Knave 2e

Elegantly rules-lite, D&D-adjacent, easy to convert on the fly, built with random tables in mind.

setting: The Bottled Sea

A big sack of nautical hexes with beautiful illustrations and just enough prompts about what might be going on in there.

A sea hex from The Bottled Sea featuring a derelict seahorse breeding facility and a kelp garden.

The first step was to make random generators out of all the tables in Knave 2e. I used Obsidian with the Dice Roller plug-in. In case you're not familiar: the random tables in any Ben Milton game are worth the price of the whole game.

Next step is to stat up the creatures from The Bottled Sea. 

Pelagic Encounters

Archerfish School
Spit jets of water into boats until given rations.
Level +2
Number Appearing: 1 (lair: d6)
AC 13, HP 4, MOV 0’ (swim 60'), Morale 7
ATK waterjet (d4)

Behemoth Frilled Shark
Serpentine moves & mangling bites.
Level +4
Number Appearing: d6 (lair: 2d6)
AC 14, HP 16 MOV 0’ (swim 80'), Morale 10
ATK mangling bite (2d6, destroys 1d6-4 inventory objects, swallows target on a critical hit for d6 each round)
ATK coil (restrained)

A plate from Kunstformen der Natur (1904), depicting the weird and beautiful forms of Hydrozoa
Bioluminescent Hydrozoa
Hypnotises prey.
Level +5
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: 3d6)
AC 12, HP 20, MOV 0’ (swim 30'), Morale 7
Multiattack: 1d4 stinging tendrils + 1 hypnosis
ATK stinging tendrils (d4 each); can only attack creatures in the water.
ATK hypnosis (pass a CHA check or dive into the sea)

Carpenterfish School
Eat wooden watercraft.
Level +1
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: 3d6)
AC 12, HP 6, MOV 0’ (swim 60'), Morale 8
ATK bite (1 per school HP, +d6 if target is made of wood)

Sought after by the Dolphin-Riders to tame.
Level +2
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: d4)
AC 12, HP 12, MOV 0’ (swim 80'), Morale 6
ATK bite (d4)
ATK slam (d4); if max. dmg. to a watercraft: knocks 1 person or object overboard

Bearded marauders riding dolphin-chariots.
Level +1
Number Appearing: d8 (lair: 3d10)
AC 13, HP 4, MOV 40’ (swim 20'), Morale 8
ATK trident (d6)
ATK net (restrained)

Double-Tusked Narwhals
Extremely territorial.
Level +5
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: 2d4)
AC 14, HP 20, MOV 20’ (swim 60'), Morale 9
Multiattack: 2 flippers + 1 tusk
ATK flipper-slam (d6 each)
ATK tusks (d8, grounds out magic)

Floating Boxjelly
Hovers above water; huge burning appendages.
Level +11
Number Appearing: d2 (lair: d2)
AC 18, HP 40, MOV hover 20’ (swim 20'), Morale 10
ATK stinging swipe (3d6, extremely painful) If the attack suceeds by +5 or more, the target is paralyzed for d6 rounds

Flying Anglerfish
Leaps out of the sea & flesh-eating bites.Level +4
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: 3d4)
AC 14, HP 4, MOV 0’ (leap 30', swim 60'), Morale 7
ATK bite (d6, +1 each round until cured)

Hagfish Covenswarm
Snotty, slimy school of bloodsuckers.
Level +8
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: d6)
AC 15, HP 30, MOV 0’ (swim 60'), Morale 7
ATK bloodsuck (target loses a point from a random ability score)

Beautiful, fruit-ladden island. Attempts to swallow landing parties whole.
Level +10
Number Appearing: 1
AC 13, HP 60, MOV 0’ (swim 10'), Morale 10
Swallow: The Mimic-Islet wants to lure landing parties towards its center. It will then attack to keep its prey from escaping for 5 rounds. At the end of 5 rounds, it swallows everyone, who then take 3d6 damage each round until the Mimic dies.
Multiattack: 1 each of the following attacks
ATK treebash (d8)
ATK tremor (targets all on islet. CON check or be knocked prone)
ATK quicksand (STR check or restrained. stacking -2 penalties for subsequent checks)
ATK chasm (DEX check or fall 10' for d6 damage)
ATK vinelash (STR check or be pulled 30' toward islet center)

Mother Sea Cucumber
Level +6
Number Appearing: d4 (lair: 2d4)
AC 15, HP 30, MOV 0’ (swim 40'), Morale 8
ATK acidspout (2d8) 30' range. Affects all in a 5' radius. If the attack succeeds by +5 or more, it destroys 1 inventory item

Mugger Crabs
Invade watercraft to eat and steal rations. Mutter darkly as they scrabble around.
Level +1
Number Appearing: 4d4 (lair: 6d10)
AC 15, HP 4, MOV 40’ (swim 40'), Morale 6
ATK clawbash (d6)

The Great Twenty-Tentacled Cephalopod
The Terror of the Bottled Sea!
Level +15
Number Appearing: 1
AC 13, HP 60, MOV 40’ (swim 40'), Morale 10
Multiattack: 6 tentacle attacks, or 5 tentacles and 1 bite
ATK bite (2d8) If the bite attack rolls 5+ higher than needed, the target is swallowed whole and takes 3d6 damage each round until the Cephalopod dies.
ATK tentacle. Attacks up to 20’ away. On a hit, target is restrained. Next round, it will be dragged to its mouth and bitten.


It's easy to come up with Knave creatures on the fly. Just assign it a level (which becomes the bonus it will add to nearly any d20 roll). Add that to 10 to get an Armor Class and Hit Protection, and then adjust if those numbers don't seem right. But, if one has the chance, it's also worth putting some creative thought into their attacks and maneuvers so that they feel different from one another.

These stats are not play-tested, and I expect them to shift around a bit once I get a sense of how the game runs.


Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch