Venomous sheep (updated)

In the first battle three hundred of the men of Lochlann were killed, but in the next battle Eolgarg Mor did not fight fair, for he let some venomous sheep out of a tent, and these attacked the men of Ulster and killed nine hundred of them.
So vast was the slaughter made by these sheep and so great the terror they caused, that no one could stand before them, but by great good luck there was a wood at hand, and the men of Ulster, warriors and princes and charioteers, were forced to climb up the trees, and they roosted among the branches like great birds, while the venomous sheep ranged below bleating terribly and tearing up the ground.
Fiachna Finn was also sitting in a tree, very high up, and he was disconsolate.
“We are disgraced!” said he.
“It is very lucky,” said the man in the branch below, “that a sheep cannot climb a tree.”
“We are disgraced for ever,” said the King of Ulster.
“If those sheep learn how to climb, we are undone surely,” said the man below.
“I will go down and fight the sheep,” said Fiachna. But the others would not let the king go.
“It is not right,” they said, “that you should fight sheep.”
“Some one must fight them,” said Fiachna Finn, “but no more of my men shall die until I fight myself; for if I am fated to die, I will die and I cannot escape it, and if it is the sheep’s fate to die, then die they will; for there is no man can avoid destiny, and there is no sheep can dodge it either.”
“Praise be to god!” said the warrior that was higher up.
“Amen.” said the man who was higher than he, and the rest of the warriors wished good luck to the king.
He started then to climb down the tree with a heavy heart, but while he hung from the last branch and was about to let go, he noticed a tall warrior walking towards him. The king pulled himself up on the branch again and sat dangle-legged on it to see what the warrior would do.
The stranger was a very tall man, dressed in a green cloak with a silver brooch at the shoulder. He had a golden band about his hair and golden sandals on his feet, and he was laughing heartily at the plight of the men of Ireland.
–from Mongan’s frenzy, an Irish legend
full text here:
If that’s not awesome, dunno what is.  And yet everyone makes fun of the “venomous sheep” entry in the bestiary of Fantasy Wargaming by Bruce Galloway.
In my Telengard game, the players rescued a halfling town besieged by ghouls and what they thought might be venomous sheep (but were just variant spidergoats).
While the venomous sheep in “Morgan’s frenzy” sound a bit like the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, I think they should actually be bit more subtle.  Not a secret weapon to unleash on the battlefield, but creeping menace that might destroy a village or two before anyone realizes what is happening.
So while my spidergoats were venomous in the sense that they bite you (causing a deep sleep that lets them consume you without waking up), venomous sheep would actually be toxic rather than venomous — they don’t have a venomous bite, but actually release a sleep-inducing gas.  Unlike most monsters they don’t eat their victims either.  They just trample the unconscious bodies of their victims as the herd grazes around them.  Although sheep are not all that big, they have a very small footprint and the pressure their feet exert is rather huge.  My brother, a civil engineer, once mentioned that in olden times, you’d herd a flock of sheep back and forth across an area where you wanted the soil compressed (say, to build a road) and those funny-looking knobby steamroller things you see on construction sites are called sheep’s foot rollers, and used to compress the soil.
So anyone coming within a certain range, or downwind of venomous sheep will need to make a saving throw or pass out.  The murderous flock will then very slowly trample the victim to death, perhaps dealing d6 or d8 damage per turn, representing multiple stomps as sheep pass over and walk on them.  (I wouldn’t make the exact range known until a character comes close, and I’d absolutely have them prefer windy pastures with variable wind direction.)
Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut


Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.


An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time


Just another site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"


gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead


Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: