Lopsloss (Lopslosi rugosus)

RuneQuest rules for the monster briefly described in that Hugh Cook’s Chronicles of an Age of darkness Book 1 – The Wizards and the Warriors.

The Lopsloss is derived from Hugh Cook’s book: The Wizards and the Warriors Chapters 13 & 19. In the book it is described as an amorphous creature that lives under Castle Vaunting.

For RuneQuest purposes the lopsloss is distantly related to the head hanger. In its natural state it lives in darkened gulleys and caves, where it can feed on creatures that may fall to their deaths, or stumble within close reach. It can move slowly, but if food is in close proximity, can display a burst of rapid movement to snag its prey. It has an amorphous gelatinous form and is usually greyish in colour. Some specimens have been known to evidence pinpricks of bio luminescence, perhaps to lure [prey to within reach.

The Lopsloss is not a magical creature like its distant relation and feeds on flesh. It does however have similarities, with a tendency to retain the non digestible bits of its prey, such as armour , coin etc. It will feed by enveloping its prey within its gelatinous form and then excreting strong digestive enzymes to break down flesh and bone into a base fluid which it will absorb. These enzymes have the ability to immobilize prey swiftly, but while the prey is still mobile, the Lopsloss will move to suck the prey deeper into its mass to prevent escape. Given enough time, it will digest all organic parts of its prey, including bone, claws etc.

In terms of movement and propagation, it is similar to the amoeba, using pseudo pods to assist with movement and splitting via binary fission. Even so, it is a very rare creature to come across as it does not like daylight and any offspring would have to live within the same cave complex as they would not be able to migrate across land for any distance that may expose them to light.

Small lopsloss have been known to be captured and transplanted to other locales, such as crypts, to guard against grave robbers. In certain instances, goblins have been known to have a symbiotic relationship with lopsloss, whereby in exchange for food and protection, the lopsloss gestates goblin offspring within its mass.

A Lopsloss will vary in SIZ depending on the size of the area it inhabits, age and food availability.

this article was initially published on IX January 2010


STR4D6 + 620Move 1
CON4D614Hit Points 18
SIZ1D6 + 8 to 6D6 + 206 – 7Fatigue 15
POW2D6 + 613
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points

* Determine how many pseudo pods before combat (1D12) and list each as a hit location.
# The difference between 20 and number of pseudo pods.

WeaponSRAttack %Damage
Pseudo Lunge140 + 32D8 knockdown / entangle
Envelop1070 + 101D6 per round

Notes: The Lopsloss will use its pseudo pods to try and knock down or entangle its prey in an attempt to immobilise. If more than one pseudo pod manages to hit the same hit location, the prey will be considered entangled. It will then try to envelop its prey at the end of the round. Enveloped prey must match STR against the Lopsloss STR on the resistance table to escape. The Lopsloss does not like heat and will retreat from an open flame or similar, which can be used to force it to disgorge recently enveloped prey. Being enveloped will restrict movement and stop prey from cutting themselves free unless a critical success is rolled or the prey has freed their arms by matching STR on the resistance table. Prey enveloped for more than 2 rounds must try to survive asphyxiation as per standard asphyxiation rules.

Armour: 4 points skin.

Elves with a Difference

Why do elves all look the same? Are they just long living pointy eared humans? This article should explain some of the mysteries around elves.

Warning: Some of the themes in this article may be considered as having mature content. If you do not think you can handle such content, do not read further.


Like 99% of Fantasy Role Players, I have read Lord of the Rings. While I appreciate Tolkien’s take on elves and by extension goblins and orcs, I do not believe that can be the only view. Simply put, it is a concern that so many people adhere to the elfin canon created by Tolkien.

You know which one:
“Elves are pure, beautiful, long lived etc, while orcs are evil and base creatures.”
Then there is the ultimate insult:
“Orcs are a degenerate form of elf!”

This treatise describes an alternate take on the canonical picture of elves. It is based on the authors own ideas and dislike of the elves that the classic FRP gamer loves so much.

It does not reflect the views of other members of RuneQuest.orc. I do however hope that it is of some use, even as a discussion point for other players out there. Furthermore, its main focus is that of elfin physiology and as such this cannot be viewed as an exhaustive document of elfin culture.

Elves in Context

What the orcs say:
Elves are females! Have you ever seen a male elf? They all carry bows, so they must all be female.

It could be a case of cultures clashing, because only orc females use bows. It is thought of as a feminine weapon by orcs, even being seen to touch one could cause a male orc to be shamed and lose status among his peers.

But there is some merit in what the orcs say. Elves all look the same. Long hair, slim, soft features, sexually ambiguous. Are they hippies, or is there a deeper mystery about them? Has anyone seen one naked?

Note: Where comparisons are made below, unless otherwise specified, such comparisons are based on a human benchmark.

Basic Physiology

Elves are part of the animal kingdom. They tend to have symbiotic relationships with various plant species which has at times caused some to confuse them as being a vegetable based species. They can be divided into various sub species, but generally the views expressed are those of the common or “wood” elf.

While exceptions to the norm do exist, most elves reflect the following traits to various degrees:

  • Long lived
  • Tall
  • Wiry
  • Androgynous
  • Herbivorous
  • Diurnal
  • Unique class of animal (i.e. not mammals, reptiles etc.)
Art by Erich Heckel

The symbiosis they share with their host plants is usually so close that lifespan is tied in with a host plant. Thus if the host plant dies, generally the elves tied to it die as well. This may explain why elves tend to be super protective of the woodlands and forests they live in. It may also serve to explain the longevity of sup species who share mutualistic or commensalistic relationships with long lived tree species. By extension it is thus assumed that a parasitic relationship will be less likely to exist, although such a concept should not be entirely ruled out.

Travel of any large distance from the host plant can be difficult, sometimes impossible for species with very tight symbiotic bonds. This can be alleviated thought certain rituals and matrices which allow for communion with the host via the spirit plain.


Elves tend to have a natural affinity with spirit magic which is usually ritual in nature. Most rituals are communal. Certain spirit spells ane however readily available to elves who have reached maturity. These spells are usually of an earthy or pastoral nature.

Sorcery is not unknown among elves, but the rules to study and master their sorcerous arts are the same for elf and human. Elves do however have much more time to learn sorcery and build up reserves of magic. Simply put – beware the aging elfin sorcerer!

Elves do not perform divine magic.

Some consider elves to be magic creatures due to their affinity with the spirit plane. This may be true to some degree. It would also mean that while elves may access the spirit world with relative ease, vice versa would also apply. Thus issues that may stem from the spirit plane could be exasperated among elfin kind. Simply put, their sensitivity to the spirit world can make them strong, but it can also cause them to be affected to a greater degree by events on the plane, be the consequences beneficial or dire. See goblins further in this document.


The big question! Why are elves so difficult to tell apart? The answer is simple. One cannot differentiate as they are hermaphrodites. Elves are true hermaphrodites (as opposed to so called human hermaphrodites.) When sexually mature, they are able to breed with any other sexually mature member of their own or similar sub species.

Elves take many years to reach sexual maturity, another aspect that may be linked to their host plant. Once maturity is reached, they undergo periodic fertile cycles. These cycles differ from species to species, but are thought to generally occur every five years. As such it is imperative that members of the same tribe become fertile at the same time. Should a member of another tribe wish to breed for the sake of strengthening the gene pool, it would be imperative that they live among the tribe they wish to breed with for a sufficient period that their fertility cycles may align. (This may also possibly be facilitated via magical means.)

Due to the timing necessary to ensure successful breeding, mating has become highly ritualised. It would appear that emotions (assuming elves experience such) have no place in the mating ritual, but rather that partners are selected in terms of best genetic parings, to strengthen the overall tribal gene pool.

Physical coupling requires some hours to complete. It is thus essential that elves who have coupled are not disturbed, which also speaks to the structure of the mating ritual. The reason that coupling takes so long is that they do not deposit their sperm into each other, like a mammal may. Instead, one elf transfers its egg to its partner. This is done via means of an ovipositor, which enters the others birth canal where it passes over male organs which excrete sperm cells. The sperm must make their way into the opening at the end of the ovipositor and fertilise the egg that by this time would already be making its slow way down the ovipositor. The ovipositor then makes its way further down the birth canal to the womb, where the now fertilised egg is deposited to take root. The ovipositor is subsequently retracted back into its owner.

The ovipositor and birth canal are separate organs and thus allow both coupling elves to deposit eggs into each other during the same coupling if they so choose. Single sided couplings do occur, mostly among sub species with shorter fertility cycles.

When not mating, genitals look like two holes next to each other, the birth canal being the larger. Curious humans have been known to confuse the birth canal with a human vagina and either overlooked the retracted ovipositor or thought it to be a urethral opening. (In fact elves do not have a urethra or kidneys. Their blood waste is excreted via their colon.)
Gestation period once again differs among sub species, but is generally accepted to be between 340 and 410 days. Birth occurs via the birth canal and in this way is probably the closest in similarity to that of humans.

Infants are not nursed by their “mother”. Elves do not have mammary glands. They receive sustenance from their sub species host plant. Depending on the sub species, this may be in the form of fruits, leaf sap, or even special sap excreted specifically for the purpose of the plants symbiotic partner. It is at this time that the young elf bonds with its host plant.

Half Elves

Though physically elves may appear to look similar to humans, such similarities are purely superficial. Interbreeding between the two species would not only be impossible at a chromosomal level, but would also be physically impossible. One could appear to put the right bits in the right places, but would indeed not be doing so.

Thus, the reader is asked to cast the idea of a half elf from their mind. They cannot exist by any natural means. If a half elf character is so deeply desired, one would suggest playing a game like Dungeons and Dragons that does not pay attention to the concept of species and chromosomes.

What about the tree?

If elves are so closely bonded with a host plant and gain so much benefit from the plant, what does the plant get in return? It depends on the form of symbiotic relationship that exists between the sub species and the plant:

  • Mutualism – Both parties benefit each other. This is probably the most common form of symbiosis employed. The tree will in turn for providing shelter, sustenance and a physiological bond receive protection, sustenance (compost) and propagation. In extreme cases, the tree may be unable to survive or propagate without its elfin partner.
  • Commensalism – One party benefits, the other party is not harmed. The elf receives the same as per mutualism, but does not give anything substantial back to the host plant. Less common, but leads to a looser bond with the host, allowing the elf to travel from its host, or even change hosts.
  • Parasitism – One party benefits to the detriment of the other. Very unlikely and as such longevity associated with the tree would not be possible and would indeed be detrimental to the elf’s lifespan should a elf/tree bond exist. Alternately, if no such bond existed, associated elfin lifespan would be intermediate, probably similar to that of a human.


Orcs are in no way related to elves. Case closed! If you wish to insult an orc, insinuate that he has elf blood. You will succeed, you will also likely die shortly thereafter. If anything, orcs are probably closest likened to humans, but share a very dissimilar ancestral tree and do not derive from simians. They are however mammalian in a very broad sense. And no, you do not get half orcs.


Goblins on the other hand are distantly related to elves, although one will never hear an elf confirm this. When reference is made to “a degenerate form of el” it is with goblins in mind. How these base creatures came to be is debatable, but various hypothesises have them as being the result of, inter alia, some bizarre failed experiment, inbreeding of an isolated elf community, corrupted and warped by diabolic spirit magics, cursed by the gods etc. Some people believe they exist as a result of some or all of the above!

Goblins are small, scrawny creatures with a tendency to steal anything they can carry or lead away. They are not very bright having intellect similar to that of a rat insofar they have a capacity to learn, but can also pass on some crude learning’s to their family. Family is used here in a broad sense, as a goblin tribe is usually very much related.

Why goblins are considered dangerous and highly undesirable is not through individual encounters, which are bad enough as they carry disease and are generally a nuisance. The main problem with goblins is that they breed fast and profusely and if they are allowed to establish a nest, a few nuisance goblins will become a menacing, ravenous hoard in the space of a season. What they lack in individual strength and stature, they make up for in numbers.

Goblins are fortunately the opposite of their elfin ancestors in terms of longevity, leading short, violent lives. Those that do survive to old age may count perhaps four years before their body wears itself out. Their scrawny bodies are barely sufficient to sustain themselves, let alone offspring. In terms of reproduction they have taken a symbiotic leaf from their ancestors book.

Within a goblin nest (usually a warren of caves), a large chamber is excavated. Within this chamber is a creature called a Lopsloss. The Lopsloss is related to a head hanger, but has long since lost the ability to move. It relies on its symbiotic goblin partners for sustenance, protection and propagation:

  • Sustenance is provided by the goblins in terms of any flesh they can feed the Lopsloss, flesh or carrion, it digests it all.
  • Protection is provided deep within the goblin warren, were the goblins will fight to the death to protect their Lopsloss.
  • When groups of goblins split off to establish new colonies, they take a portion of Lopsloss with. As the Lopsloss propagates by binary fission a new one will soon grow in the new colony.

In return, the goblins receive a valuable service from the lopsloss. It gestates their offspring. Goblins become fertile often, every season it is thought. When they mate, they follow a similar procedure to elves, but are no longer in possession of wombs (which have become superfluous and desiccated ove many generations of non use.) Instead, the egg, once fertilised, is deposited into the lopsloss.

The fertilised egg is somehow recognised by the lopsloss and in return for sustenance, it converts proteins and secretes nourishing fluids that help the goblin embryo grow. If however the lopsloss begins to starve, it will digest the embryos. This is why as a last resort, goblins will immolate themselves to feed the lopsloss and save their offspring, if such an event comes to pass.

Due to their nature and the way they are sustained as embryos, goblins are carnivorous.

This article was first published IX January MMX

Razor Shell(Ensis arcuatus incognitus)

Not quite your regular tasty shellfish.

These are not your regular razor shells that are often fished for in the sea bed and make a tasty shellfish treat, but a rather more sinister variety.

In the desolate wastes of a dried up sea bed lurk the razor shells. These are close descendants of the more mundane razor shells found under the seas sands, but have been forced to evolve as their habitat dried up.

The shells still eke out an existence beneath the harsh wastelands of the dry seabed and have managed to do so via some remarkable adaptations. Their original cylindrical, cut throat razor, shaped bodies have grown longer. The bottom most section which is deepest in the sand sports long barbs, which help anchor it in place, but still allow it to burrow forward (downwards). A denser and harder shell protects the organism from heat and water loss, allowing it to go for long periods without water, while also providing internal pockets wherein moisture can be stored in times of rain.

Its most remarkable and devious adaptation however is the means whereby the shell is able to sustain itself. Where its ancestor filtered the water for tiny organisms, no such contemporary nourishment now exists. Instead the shell has had to become a devious ambush predator. The upward facing portion of its body has developed a barbed harpoon tongue of razor sharp hard mother of pearl. This harpoon is held inside the shell waiting for pressure from above, the Razor Shell having positioned its top end just below the ground level. When sufficient pressure is applied, coiled muscles shoot the harpoon upward. This action is similar to that employed in the nematocyst of the hydra polyp or jellyfishes stingers.

The razor is not as subtle in subduing its prey as a jellyfish however as it has no poison. Instead it relies on the devastating damage its harpoon does as it pierces its preys flesh. This is where the Razors length and anchoring barbs, as well as its extremely strong muscles, play their role.

The part of the shells body that is attached to the harpoon can stretch to double its normal length. With the harpoon anchored in place, its prey is unable to escape and eventually succumbs to exhaustion, blood loss and shock. This does not mean that the Razor Shell waits for its prey to die; indeed thin feeding tubes extend through a small hollow at the tip of the harpoon and start to dissolve and devour the preys living flesh moments after the harpoon strikes.

While Razor Shells can grow up to a meter long and project harpoons that could be lethal to larger animals, their primary prey is smaller animals. However they do not appear to be able to distinguish potential preys SIZ and often cause a nuisance as they lacerate feet or damage horses inner hooves and cause lameness. Most shells encountered are a more manageable size of roughly thirty centimetres, although there are always travellers’ tales of monstrously sized shells that have skewered horses from beneath the ground.

Razor Shell

STR2D6(6D6)*Move 1
CON2D6 7-10Hit Points 10
SIZ1D6 + 2 5-6Fatigue 19
POW1D6 + 48-9
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
Lower Shell01-0501-026/4
Upper Shell06-1803-196/4
Harpoon Tongue19-20206/5
WeaponSRAttack %Damage
Harpoon175+101D4 + 2 (1D4)#

Note: The shell lies in wait just below ground level and will shoot its harpoon directly upwards as soon as it perceives pressure from above. As such it has a very high probability to hit. Due to its position in the ground it will only be able to strike the lower limbs of large prey, whereas small prey can be struck in most logical hit locations.

# Damage is always impale damage. Treat as a regular impale but also note an additional 1D4 damage per round that the harpoon remains in the wound where the Razor Shell still lives and starts digesting its prey.

* The higher STR score is to represent the shell anchoring itself in the ground should its victim try to match STR on the resistance table in order to pull the shell from its burrow.

Skills: Hide 100%
Armour: 6 point shell armour.