OSR: 10 Byzantine Monsters

Here are 10 monsters from my hastily assembled Byzantine megadungeon, the Imperial Megapalace. No stats are given. Reskinning monsters is easy and traditional.

I'm using the campaign as a testing ground monsters from the Monster Overhaul. By the way, the first 50 monsters of the M.O. are complete, so if you want a 82-page bestiary head over to Patreon.

Of that Byzantine Empire the universal verdict of history is that it constitutes, with scarcely an exception, the most thoroughly base and despicable form that civilisation has yet assumed. Though very cruel and very sensual, there have been times when cruelty assumed more ruthless, and sensuality more extravagant, aspects; but there has been no other enduring civilisation so absolutely destitute of all the forms and elements of greatness, and none to which the epithet mean may be so emphatically applied. The Byzantine Empire was pre-eminently the age of treachery. Its vices were the vices of men who had ceased to be brave without learning to be virtuous. Without patriotism, without the fruition or desire of liberty, after the first paroxysms of religious agitation, without genius or intellectual activity; slaves, and willing slaves, in both their actions and their thoughts, immersed in sensuality and in the most frivolous pleasures, the people only emerged from their listlessness when some theological subtilty, or some rivalry in the chariot races, stimulated them into frantic riots. They exhibited all the externals of advanced civilisation. They possessed knowledge; they had continually before them the noble literature of ancient Greece, instinct with the loftiest heroism; but that literature, which afterwards did so much to revivify Europe, could fire the degenerate Greeks with no spark or semblance of nobility. The history of the Empire is a monotonous story of the intrigues of priests, eunuchs, and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude, of perpetual fratricides.

-Lecky, History of European Morals, 1869
Tell us how you really feel, William Lecky. Even in 1886, this view of Byzantine history was far from mainstream. Today, no historians, aside from enthusiastic meme-based amateurs on the internet, commit to anything like it. Still, the word "Byzantine" tends to evoke clear reactions. Everyone has an opinion.

Emilis Emka

1. Bloated Eunuch

Stats: as an Elemental Spirit (Sylph)
When the Last Emperor Gregoras VI sealed the gates of the Imperial Megapalace, his court of trusted advisors followed him into seclusion. The dubious benefits of Prophylactic Hell twisted the eunuchs of the court into empty, windy creatures. Their souls rattle inside their hollow skins like trapped whirlwinds. They can blow a cone of cutting breath, inflate to grotesque proportions, and take dozens of blows before bursting.

2. Greater Eunuch

Stats: as an Elemental (Wind)
The chief functionaries of state, the megas domesticus, the megas ducas, the oeconomus megalus, etc, etc, are even more swollen and proud. While the Bloated Eunuchs waddle, the Greater Eunuchs block entire corridors. Their faces remain the same size, but the rest of their heads and bodies have grown to fill all available space. Their slippered feet protrude from the bottom of their enlarged heads; their tiny arms stick out either side. Bursting one may be the only way to proceed up a path, for their progress is painfully slow.


3. Penitent Hecatoncheire

Stats: as a Giant (Cyclops)
After a great victory over a forgotten nation, the Emperor Demetrios the Great blinded ninety-nine of every hundred prisoners, and left the hundredth with just one eye to lead his compatriots back to their homeland. Some clusters of soldiers became lost and, rendered immortal by despair, were recaptured and placed in the Imperial Megapalace. A hundred bodies locked together, a hundred hands wielding spears and swords, and only one mad and miserable eye to guide them, locked behind a helmet of fingers and arms. The Penitent
Hecatoncheires fight with grim determination.

Jarold Sng

4. Triskelos

Stats: as a Skeleton
The shock troops of a dismantled necromatic army, Triskelos are three armoured skeleton legs fused into one implacable creature. What they lack in subtelty they make up for in speed. As the sages say, everyone has a plan until they get kicked in the face.


5. Negasus

Stats: no stats required.

The opposite of a Pegasus. A chicken with horse legs. Useless, hopeless, and gormless. It just stands there, staring with orange chicken eyes.

Xabier Urrutia

6. Blasphemous Petitioner

Stats: as a Zombie with 50% spell resistance.
The laws of the Empire record six hundred offenses for which the penalty is mutilation. Eyes, noses, and particularly, in the case of petitioners, tongues could all be taken for crimes ranging from treason to incorrect paperwork. Clusters of petitioners, in ceremonial copper helmets, were sealed in the Imperial Megapalace.
Dan Schaub

7. Tormented Iconpainter

Stats: as a Wight
The greatest icons require the greatest sacrifices. Iconpainters, hollowed out by decades of unending labour and the siren song of the Prophylactic Hell, can drain both the life and the colour from other living beings with just a touch. Their masks are exploding fractal obscenities.

Mohamed Saad

8. Guardian Golem

Stats: as a Stone Golem
Outsiders may not carry weapons in the Imperial Megapalace. This decree is enforced by the Guardian Golems, carved to resemble generals and heroes of past ages. Their range is limited by the size of the passages they patrol.

Neeraj Menon

9. Angel of Flowers

Stats: as an Angel

Those who would remake Hell would see it populated with obedient angels, not unwilling devils. A devil can empathize with a fellow prisoner. Angels, even artificial ones, lack the vice of compassion.

Peter Polach

10. The Red Emissary

Stats: as a Vampire
Only the Last Emperor can say why he sealed a foreign emissary in his palace. Perhaps it was an accident. The Red Emissary knows all the secrets of the palace and could be a potent ally to those who wish to topple the Last Emperor and his Prophylactic Hell. Unfortunately, the Red Emissary's appetites and eccentricities make any agreement both fragile and perilous.


  1. This has a very distinct Dark Souls-y feel to it, which makes me ponder the aesthetic connections between that trilogy and whatever Byzantine influence it may have adopted. It's interesting how the Byzantine conjures up this association of ruin moreso than other ancient cultures.

    1. The Byzantine culture isn't ancient.

  2. A new bud from the branch of your Iron Gates material?

  3. I'm interested to hear more about the emperor's hellish redevelopment plans.