18th Century, blackpowder, Colonial America, Colonial Folklore, Cryptozoological Creature, Cryptozoology, dreadpunk, Eighteenth Century, Folklore, Georgian, Ghastly Affair, gothic game, Gothic Gaming, Gothic Horror, Gothic Romance, Gothick, Gothique, Historical, History, Napoleonic, New Jersey Folklore, OGL, old school renaissance, old school revival
I’ve previously written up the Jersey Devil for Castles & Crusades, as the “Pine Devil”. Here is the beast redone for use with Ghastly Affair, and other OSR games. Although the creature is now commonly known as the “Jersey” Devil, in the 18th and 19th centuries it was called the “Leeds” Devil.
A chimeric monster that haunts the desolate pine forests of southern New Jersey
Creature Class: Monster
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: A bat-winged creature like a dog walking upright, with a horse’s head, and a long, split tail.
Charisma: 10 Intelligence: 7 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 15 Dexterity: 15 Constitution: 15
Speed: 9 walking, 17 flying
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (claws or bite)
Special Abilities: Paralyzing Gaze, Nightvision
Weaknesses: Distracted by Food
Assets: Stealthy, Resistant to Preternatural Effects
Preternatural Powers: Dimension Door (6 times a day)
Natural Habitat: The Pine Barrens of New Jersey
The Leeds Devil is a monster that haunts the British colony (and later, State) of New Jersey. It lurks among the stunted pines that cover the southern portion of the region, preying on small animals (and the livestock of neighboring farms). It will usually harass, rather than directly attack, a full grown person, but it enjoys the taste of infants and children. On occasion it will roam to Philadelphia or New York City, but always eventually returns to its gloomy home. It is said to have been first created in the early part of the 18th century, when the witch Mother Leeds cursed her offspring to be born a monster (as per the preternatural Effect Monstrous Offspring). There may in fact have been more the one Leeds Devil created by the witches of the Pine Barrens, although only one has ever been seen at a time. If it is a unique creature, there appears to be no limit to its lifespan. If more are being created, they are likely under the command of the witches who give them birth.
Physically, the Leeds Devil resembles a large, lean dog walking upright on its hind legs, but with the arms of a man. The head, however, is like that of horse, but with sharp teeth. Its hands are clawed, and its feet are cloven-hoofed. A pair of smallish, bat-like wings sprout from its back. Trailing behind it is a long, rat-like tail that splits into three ends. The beast makes an unnerving hissing sound that can frighten animals.
The most famous witness to the Leeds Devil was Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Spain (and brother of Napoleon). After being exiled from Europe in 1816 he eventually settled in Bordentown, New Jersey, where he encountered the Devil while out hunting one night. He was paralyzed by the sight of the hissing creature, which then took flight. Joseph sought many times to find the creature again, but was never able to.
Leeds Devil Special Abilities
Paralyzing Gaze: Anyone meeting the gaze of the Leeds Devil must make a Wisdom Save or be Paralyzed for 5 Rounds.
Frightful Hiss: Any ordinary animal that hears the hiss of the Leeds Devil must immediately make a Morale Check.
Dimension Door: The Leeds Devil can use its Preternatural Power of Dimension Door 6 times a day.
Leeds Devil Weakness
Distracted by Food: The Leeds Devil is essentially a hungry predator, and will break off combat to follow easily obtainable fresh meat. That includes crying babies!
Leeds (Jersey) Devil (for OSR games)
Number Appearing: 1
Morale: 10 (or 14)
Move: 120′ (or 12”, or 30 ft.); Flying 360′ (or 36”, or 70 ft.)
Armor Class: 6 (or 14)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks & Damage: Bite (1d8); or Claw (1d6) Claw (1d6)
* Magic Resistance: 30%
* See in low light as if daylight.
* Paralyzing Gaze: Make a Constitution save or be Paralyzed for 5 Rounds.
* Frightful Hiss: causes ordinary animals to check Morale.
* Dimension Door: 6 times a day.
Saves: As Fighter 4
Treasure: 1,000 gp worth of rare skins, medicinal plants, valuable shells, raw gemstones, and possible incidental jewelry from eaten children.
Challenge: Four 5th Level characters.