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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Waldman

Monster Monday #17: Atlantides

Updated: Mar 4, 2023


When it came to finding inspiration for the zodiac sign ‘Virgo’ I found very quickly that the symbol itself is based on Astraea, goddess of justice, purity, and precision, and known colloquially as the Star Maiden. It made me immediately think of Nymphs - a broad term that describes many smaller groups of minor nature deities found in Greek folklore, often courted by the Gods and heroes of myth for their beauty. Their names depended on where they lived. For example, Dryads were found in trees, Nereids in the surrounding seas, and Lampades bearing torches in the Underworld. Nymphs that lived among the stars were believed to be the daughters of Atlas, the Titan that was condemned to hold up the sky and the heavens. They were known collectively as the Atlantides, or the Asteriae, though were often split into two smaller groups known as the Pleiades and the Hyades.


The constellations were very important within Greek mythology and each celestial body was normally associated with a mythological being or story. The Pleiades, known also as the Seven Sisters, were the daughters of Atlas and the Oceanid nymph Pleione. They were said to be the companions of Artemis, nursemaids and teachers to an infant Dionysus, and were associated with the constellation of the same name as well as the rain. The Hyades are often confused with them but are a separate set of Nymphs that were mothered by Aethra instead. They were also associated with the rain, on account of their weeping for their brother, Hyas.


Nymphs are a classic example of Animism, the belief that all aspects of nature possess an innate spirit or essence. There are many other examples of this within mythology and folklore globally. In Hindu and Buddhist culture the Apsara are spirits of the clouds and waters and their name literally translates into 'nymph' or 'celestial maiden', as they are beings that inhabit the skies. The Kami of the Shinto religion are spirits of the elements and nature, as are the or Vættir of Scandinavian and Norse folklore. Aspects of the Atlantides in particular are also reminiscent of celestial beings such as Angels found in Abrahamic religions, or even the Houri found in Arabian and Islamic folklore.


Nymphs are found in a variety of famous artworks and sculptures of the Renaissance period. The 'sleeping nymph' is in fact something of a stock pose, depicting a beautiful maiden reclined back as if asleep. Other famous artworks containing Nymphs include 'Hylas and the Nymphs' by John William Waterhouse, or 'Nymphs and Satyr' by William Adolphe-Bouguereau. Modern depictions of these creatures tend to show elements of the natural element that the Nymph supposedly represents. Films such as Disney's Hercules or The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe both contain representations of Nymphs, as does the Percy Jackson book series, or the Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls and Warcraft video games. I also really love thinking of Stardust when imagining a star-themed Nymph as Yvaine is the perfect living embodiment of a star.

 

So now it is time for some stat blocks, hooray!


Given their association with the heavens, I went for certain theme when choosing stat blocks from Wizards Of The Coast. So, let's take a look at the Firemane Angel (Guildmaster's Guide To Ravnica, page 190) to begin with!


Being a CR 12 Celestial, this feels like a good start for a base stat block if you were looking for something relatively simple. Nymphs are essentially minor deities and so this high CR is not totally out of the question, though it does make fighting a number of them a difficult task, even for higher level play. They have a flying speed though you would not necessarily need to give them wings for that. They also have access to spells such as Guiding Bolt or Daylight, which very much reinforces their connection to the stars. If you were looking to maybe have your party encounter a group, perhaps consider the CR 5 Battleforce Angel (Guildmaster's Guide To Ravnica, page 189) as a good alternative.


At the same CR, Wizards Of The Coast had another great alternative. Meet the Archon Of Falling Stars (Mythic Odysseys Of Theros, page 212).


This may not really have the aesthetic look I'd go for in a nymph but it has an EXCELLENT stat block with many fun, star-themed abilities and actions. Just like the Firemane Angel there are some appropriately themed spells. It also has access to Radiant Rebirth, which allows it to keep the fight going on just a little bit longer, and Return To Nyx, which literally causes corpses to 'burst into a shower of radiant stars'. With a Radiant Spear being its main weapon choice, and Legendary actions under its belt, this is a formidable foe!


Moving on, I thought I'd look at Kobold Press next! I'll start with the Far Wanderer (Creature Codex, page 151).


In terms of aesthetics, this CR 3 Aberration its mostly what I pictured though I do think that the level of challenge and creature type may be a little off for what we are after. Still, this is a really nice stat block with lots of merit! I like that she thought has been put into abilities that allow it to understand all languages (which is great for the Pleiades role as a teacher) and its actions include it wielding a Stardust Blade or using a Stardust bow which is a really cool visual. I did also see another great choice in this book, the CR 19 Celestial Living Star (page 256). While its Huge size may not work so well, it CAN resize itself and has many star-themed abilities and attacks such as Starshine, Supernova, Starflare or Silvered Ray.


I've had a peek at more Kobold Press content and also stumbled upon the Archfey stat block for the Queen Of Night And Magic (Tome Of Beasts, page 192).


At a CR 21, this is the most powerful of them all, and being a Fey creature is unusual but not entirely out of line for a Nymph. It has Lair actions, Legendary resistances, and Legendary actions, as well as a ton of Regional effects! She also has access to an absolute ton of spells, and can use actions and abilities such as Star Strike and Swirling Stars. Also, just look how pretty that ARTWORK is! I really love this stat block, even though the high level means it would be impossible to present seven of them in a combat scenario as even the toughest adventurers would stand no chance. Depending on whether you are presenting a Nymph as a nature spirit or a minor deity will also either make this stat block feel very overpowered or very appropriate!


Beyond these finds, I struggled to find much in the way of other sources but I think that the stat blocks provided here give a fantastic framework to be creative and come up with your own! I would suggest starting with some of the star-themed powers here but also sprinkle in some spells such as Control Weather in order to show off the lore of the Atlantides being able to control the rains.

 

So how do we fit the Atlantides into our game? Well, hopefully these plot hooks will help!

  1. The party find themselves, while sleeping, experiencing the same dream. They are surrounded by seven figures that shine brightly in a room that resembles the night sky from floor to ceiling. Their hair is adorned with glowing jewels, skin decorated with tattoos of the constellations, and pupils like swirling galaxies. It is revealed that the party have been chosen for a very special mission by the Goddess that they serve...

  2. While touring a city, the party stumble across a holy shrine with images of seven siblings carved onto it. The locals reveal that they venerate beings known as Star Maidens.

  3. A young woman approaches the party and begs for their help. She talks cryptically, repeating to them that she 'fell from the sky' and has 'lost her light'. As she weeps, the shining sun is replaced by heavy rain.

  4. While travelling, the party stumble upon an outdoor lecture of some kind. A being with a faintly ethereal sheen to their skin is teaching a lesson on the constellations and refers to them often as her friends, seemingly very knowledgeable on the subject. The students are writing notes furiously and seem very engaged.

  5. While within an ancient temple of some kind, the party are subjected to seven tests, each set by a different being seemingly made of light. A great reward awaits them if they complete them all.

 

And that includes this weeks Monster Monday! I wonder which star sign and creature will end up making an appearance next week.


Have you ever heard of a Nymph of the stars? Does your game run with Animist principles? Let me know!

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